Where much red Burgundy tends towards subtleness and finesse, the Varoilles style is noticeably more intense. They harvest relatively late, and use a long cold soak to extract loads of flavor and texture from their grapes.
Some wines are esoteric — subtly funky Burgundies; oxidative Jura whites; dessert wines made from moldy grapes, skin-contact orange wines, etc. Like a Rothko canvas or a Philip Glass composition, these wines are best understood with some context.
We’re excited about our newest source for grower Champagne: the Domaine Jacques Robin. Robin is in the Côtes des Bar, a sub-region of Champagne located near Chablis and known for its Pinot Noir-heavy cuvées. All four of their wines are well priced, easy to like, and hard to put down.
The Hill of Corton lies just north of Beaune, an important landmark (both visual and vinous) at the midway point of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. The enormous Grand Cru vineyard on its slopes covers 236 acres, only slightly smaller than the entire appellation of Morey-St-Denis.
For many years at the start of our tastings, winemaker Denis Basset would give us a small taste of his only white cuvée. “Just to set the palate,” he’d explain, before continuing on to his rich, syrah-based reds. The white was always lovely — floral and fresh, beautifully expressive, and a perfect way to start a tasting.
The 2005 vintage was about as close to perfect as Burgundy gets. Allen Meadows (Burghound) called it “one of the greatest vintages in the history of modern Burgundy.” Jancis Robinson MW called it a “glorious” and “ revered” vintage; Jasper Morris MW called it “the most uniformly successful vintage I have seen in my career.”
Sofie Bohrmann’s 2018 Bourgogne blanc has been a hit. We increased our order twice over the summer, and now that the wine is here and on readers’ kitchen tables the reviews are pouring in: gorgeous fruit, beautiful tension, remarkable texture and purity for a wine under $40.
Pomerol is Bordeaux on a Burgundy scale. The small right bank appellation covers less than three square miles, and is home to only 150 winemakers. But the wines of Pomerol are anything but small. In his iconic World Atlas of Wine, Hugh Johnson calls Pomerol “richest, most velvety and instantly appealing form of red Bordeaux.”
The Domaine Jacques Robin is a tiny source in the Côtes des Bar, a southern satellite subregion of Champagne. We’re among their first US importers, and found their wines charming and extremely well priced.
With outdoor fun limited and daylight dwindling, we find ourselves indoors more these days. We’ve found a bit of effort toward coziness goes a long way in lifting the mood — candles, Christmas trees, and fragrant baking stews are some of our favorite winter comfort hacks.
The white Burgundies of the Maconnais are some of our favorite expressions of Chardonnay. Grown in a region known as “la France Profonde” (“deep France”), the best cuvées are unoaked, mouthfilling, vibrant, and crisp.
Praise continues to pour in for the Domaine Patrick & Christophe Bonnefond. Their Northern Rhône reds are pure syrah, and display an exquisite balance of texture, fruit, subtlety and depth. The wines continue to improve each year — Josh Raynolds of Vinous declared his tasting this year “the single most impressive set of bottlings I have had here.”
Winemaker Thomas Morey is as much a part of Chassagne-Montrachet as the bell tower or the fields of vines — his family has lived in the village since 1643. His father Bernard’s wines were considered a reference point for the town, and Thomas’s reputation has grown steadily since he started his domaine in 2007.
The Domaine Ravaut is an old-school Burgundy domaine. Family-run for centuries, they sell much of their wine to local clientele and restaurants, and make delicious, well-priced cuvées (white and red) from humble appellations. The Wine Advocate’s William Kelley recently made his inaugural visit, reporting that he “found plenty to admire,” and calling the 2018 reds lineup “hearty, characterful wines with plenty of stuffing.”
Côtes du Rhônes are a dime a dozen these days. They’re cheap, plentiful, and abundant — you’ll find them everywhere from a fine restaurant to your local supermarket. Most are mass produced, with low tannin and lots of fruit — they may lack flaws, but they’re short on character too.