Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays — a celebration of family, feasting, and maybe some football. We’ve got lots of suggestions for wine on your Thanksgiving dinner table, in our nine mixed cases and November Notebook. But this year we’ll be adding another, more traditional beverage to our table: crisp, refreshing, Breton cider.
For about a thousand years between the 5th and 15th centuries, French monks dominated the world of wine. It was the monks, tasting the products of the rich Burgundian soils (and often the soils themselves), that first developed the idea of terroir.
Red Burgundy is known as a wine lover’s red wine, often requiring years of aging and a hefty price of entry. Even mature, many red Burgundies exhibit a finesse and delicacy can be drowned out by the cacophony of New World tannin and oak.
Condrieu is one of the most sought after white wines in the world. Made from pure viognier, and grown in a tiny Northern Rhône appellation of less than half a square mile, this nectar-like white wines is both delicious and pricey. Our favorite source is the brothers Christophe and Patrick Bonnefond.
For the fans and farmers of Burgundy, 2009 was a golden year. The weather was perfect, the grapes were clean and healthy, and there were plenty of them. One writer soon after the vintage predicted that the early-drinking 2009s would probably age well, if only collectors could keep their hands off them long enough to find out.
The tiny Burgundy village of Morey-St-Denis covers just under four tenths of a square mile. It has long played second fiddle to its famous neighbors Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin, but in fact it holds five Grand Cru vineyards and produces excellent red Burgundies. At their best, the wines of Morey-St. Denis show a beautiful lace-like minerality, and an elegance only possible in Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
In Burgundy as in real estate, location is everything. A slight change in slope or soil content can make an enormous difference in a wine. Though it’s classified as a premier cru, today’s wine is surrounded by five grand cru vineyards, and many believe that it stays a premier cru more from politics than from geology.
Today Chassagne-Montrachet is known for its opulent white Burgundies, most famous among them from the Grand Cru vineyard “Montrachet.” But for most of its existence, Chassagne was known for its red wines. As late as the 1930s, Chardonnay comprised only a fifth of the vines planted in the town.
White Burgundy is one world’s greatest gustatory inventions. Rarely does the marriage of winemaker, grape, and land create the perfection possible here. Many of the finest wines we’ve ever tasted — of any color or origin — have been Chardonnays from the golden hillsides of Burgundy.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the perfect cold weather wine. Made famous by French popes in the 14th century, and then again by Robert Parker in the 1980s, the area is rich with winemaking history. Today the appellation, which covers only about 12 square miles, produces some of the most sought after wine in the world.
Beaujolais might be the perfect wine for the fall. Crisp air and turning leaves are an excellent match for a the cool fruit and punchy mouthfeel of first-rate Beaujolais. The region is still best known for the Beaujolais Nouveau, a quaint local custom turned global marketing phenomenon. But there’s far more to Beaujolais than cheap candied red wine.
Most wine collectors begin their cellars with the European canon: Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne from France, Barolo and Brunello from Italy, and perhaps Ribera del Duero and Port from Spain. But no collector’s cellar is complete without an array of German Rieslings.
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 — bottles that, if tasted blind, you’d put in a higher class. A recent such discovery is a premier cru white Santenay from Roger Belland.
The Rhône River divides into two very different halves. The Northern Rhône features syrah-based wines from the dramatic slopes of towns like Côte Rôtie and Hermitage. The Southern Rhône offers blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, most famously from Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
“Affordable” is not a word that’s often associated with Burgundy. With high demand and low supply, Burgundies often fetch prices that elicit eye rolls from casual drinkers. At many domaines, entry prices start at $50 and rise quickly thereafter.