Two main distinctions separate Champagne and other French sparkling wine. First, terroir: Champagne’s unique chalky soils contribute to the singular flavors of its wines. Second, time spent on the lees: Champenois age their wines on lees for longer than — on average 2-3 years for non vintage, and 3+ for vintage.
“The greatest white wine commune on earth” – that’s how Master of Wine Clive Coates describes Puligny-Montrachet. Known for its singular purity and depth, Puligny is white Burgundy at its most regal.
We’re often asked how we discover new winemakers. The answer is a combination of recommendations, wine journals, and critical reviews, but the most enjoyable way, or at least the most delicious, is through local wine lists.
The Gamay grape has had a turbulent history in Burgundy. In 1395 Duke Philip the Bold concluded Gamay was “evil and disloyal,” and banished it from the northern half of Burgundy. For the past six centuries it has found refuge in Beaujolais, where it produces mostly simple reds — fruit-forward and inexpensive.
Cornas is a tiny appellation. It covers 145 hectares (compared with Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s 3,000+), and is home to fewer than 50 vignerons. The name comes from the Celtic word for “burnt earth,” and it’s an appropriate moniker: Cornas is pure Syrah like the rest of the Northern Rhône, but the feel is of something farther to the South.
When we shape our portfolio, we look for wines that “punch above their weight.” These are wines that exceed expectations based on the price tag and the name on the label. For overperforming white Burgundies, many of our favorites come from the towns of St-Aubin and Santenay.
The 2017 vintage was an unusual one in the Southern Rhône. Growers encountered coulure in the Grenache vines, as a cold snap after flowering dramatically restricted the development of fruit. Low Grenache yields meant low Grenache percentages in the wines, leaving the stage open for other grapes to shine.
The Domaine Dumien-Serrette is relatively new to the Ansonia portfolio, but hardly new to their hometown of Cornas — records show Dumiens living there in 1515. Our allocation from this grower last year was so small that it sold out entirely in Futures, and we weren’t able to offer any of their delicious 2016 Cornas from inventory.
Burgundy is a tough place to find new winemakers. It’s a tiny, well-trodden region, with limited supply and ever increasing demand. It often feels like the best producers have all been discovered.
The 2018 vintage in the Beaujolais was another warm one, producing cuvées of remarkable inky intensity. On Beaujolais 2018s, William Kelley (WA) writes: “pleasure-bent, round and expressive, these are wines that will give a great deal of immediate pleasure.”
When we first met Gautier Desvignes he was 12. We happened across the Desvignes family domaine in 1998, during our year spent living in Burgundy. We’ve been fans of their rugged, affordable, delicious red Burgundies for over two decades. Five years ago the twenty-something Gautier took over operations, and the quality has dramatically improved.
For years we’ve searched for a source in Chambolle-Musigny. The town has both a stellar reputation and miniscule size (population 300), and it hasn’t been easy to find a domaine without existing importing relationships. But this spring we finally stumbled upon the Domaine Boursot, a humble family of winemakers right in the heart of Chambolle.
With football in season and a chill in the evening air, autumn is just around the corner. We haven’t abandoned the rosé or Chablis just yet, but we’re making preparations for the new season.
By Burgundy standards, Gevrey-Chambertin is an enormous appellation. It covers a thousand acres, including a whopping 135 acres of Grand Cru. Its wines are of a similar scale — rich, meaty, bold Pinot Noir balancing delicacy and depth.