Chablis remains one of the best bargains in the wine world. Forever playing second fiddle to the rest of Burgundy, the brand suffered damage from the jug-wine “California Chablis,” and has yet to recover fully. The wines themselves, however, have never been better.
The impossibly steep hillsides of the Côte Rôtie seem like the last place in the world to grow vines. With slopes reaching 60 degrees in places, all field work — planting, pruning, treating, harvesting — must be done entirely by hand. Every time we visit we wonder aloud what on earth would drive people to plant vines here.
Ever since one half of the Ansonia team relocated to the coast of Maine, our collective fish and shellfish consumption has risen rapidly. With fresh catches rolling in daily, it’s hard to avoid the stuff -- and who would want to? Of course our white wine consumption has spiked as well, and we keep a handful of favorites at the ready for when the oysters or haddock in the local market looks particularly good.
We’ve been on the hunt for a nice Aligoté for years. Forever in the shadow of the finest Chardonnays in the world, Burgundy’s “other white grape” is neither profound nor expensive. Most of our searches have yielded disappointments: wines with too much acid, too little body, or both.
It’s hard to find inexpensive wine in Burgundy. Demand is high -- the world has celebrated the wines of Burgundy for over a thousand years, and its popularity continues to increase. Supply is low -- Burgundy contributes only about 1.5 million hectolitres a year, compared with 6 million in Bordeaux and nearly 12 million in the Languedoc.
After more than a decade of tasting across Burgundy, we feel we know the area pretty well. But the region still holds surprises, and perhaps none as exciting as the Ladoix Blanc from the Domaine Ravaut. It was this wine, described by wine writer Bill Nanson as a “baby Corton-Charlemagne,” that first drew us to the Ravaut domaine about five years ago.
Nicolas Maillet might be our favorite new source for White Burgundy. His wines are classic examples of the best white Maconnais — cool, round chardonnay with excellent balance and little or no oak. If the Côte d’Or offers Burgundies of pedigree and refinement, then the Maconnais offers Burgundies of vibrancy and joy.
Burgundy may be the heart of our portfolio, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy wines from the other “B.” Bordeaux is different from Burgundy in just about every way -- scale, grapes, style, history, culture -- but the wines can be just as delicious. Particularly when there’s a well-browned steak around, it’s hard to beat a classic Bordeaux.
There’s no better wine for wintery weather than one made in a sunny spot. The rich wines of the Southern Rhône valley spend the summer soaking in the clear Provençal sun — they’re a perfect match for cold weather. Châteauneuf-du-Pape gets most of the attention in the Rhône, but if you know where to look, there are delicious, affordable wines across the valley.
Winter in Harpswell has its own rhythm. Up and down the Sound the boats are gone and the docks hauled up. The front yards of lobstermen hold mountains of empty traps. Ospreys and Eiders have left for warmer weather, leaving the Bald Eagle and the Buffleheads behind. Our experiment in aquaculture...
The town of Ladoix is easy to miss. It’s not famous -- most people blow right by it on their way to the Côte de Nuits to the north or the city of Beaune just to the south. But over the years we’ve found excellent values here, and none better than those from the family winemakers at the Domaine Ravaut.
On the list of the world’s most widely planted grapes, Poulsard ranks pretty close to the bottom. Grown almost exclusively in a the tiny Jura region of eastern France, Poulsard (sometimes spelled Ploussard), is a red variety that makes light-colored, crisp, fascinating wines. Even in the Jura there are only a few hundred acres of the grape left, including those farmed by today’s vigneron, Hervé Ligier.
One look out the window these days will confirm it: winter has arrived. As the mounds of snow grow larger in our front yard, we feel all the cozier inside by the fireplace. We love winter outdoors -- on skis, snowshoes, or just a brisk walk; but it’s the promise of a warm home at the end that makes the outdoors in winter that much more fun.