The Southern Rhône is full of rich, smooth red wines, perfect for a wintery afternoon meal. At one end there’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape, among the finest appellations in France; at the other there’s simple Côtes du Rhône, at its best an uncomplicated and inexpensive. Today’s wine is towards the more affordable end, but it’s as full and velvety as any wine we’ve know for under $20.
Red Burgundies can be some of the most expensive wines in the world. On release they can reach into the thousands of dollars; on the auction block years later, many times that. But outlandish investment isn’t required for high-quality red Burgundy. In a top of the line domaine, everything is expertly made -- from their Grand Crus down to their simple Bourgogne.
Longtime readers of these notes may notice this is the first Pouilly-Fuissé we’ve offered in nearly three years. Our source in the town was Michel Forest, a charming old winemaker who made tiny quantities of exceptional white Burgundy. Much to our disappointment Forest retired several years ago, and we’ve missed his wines ever since.
As vines age, the fruit they yield changes — quality improves and quantity declines. Vines rarely make it past the century mark, and most winemakers will pull and replant somewhere between 50 and 80 years. All of which makes today’s wine so unusual.
Morey-St-Denis is a tiny town. Home to only 680 people, its half-square-mile of vineyards produces a wide array of wines, ranging from simple Bourgogne to famous Grand Cru. We’ve found much to like across this small terroir, particularly in the premier crus from the Domaine Pierre Amiot. Today’s offer is for Amiot’s excellent 2012 premier cru from “Ruchots.”
For fans of white Burgundy, 2014 is among the finest years of the past decade. Both in Chablis and in the Côte d’Or, the wines walk a beautiful balance between a rich core of ripe fruit and a vibrant streak of minerality and acidity. We expect them to age nicely, but most are drinking beautifully already.
From now through the end of the year, most lives are filled with gift exchanges, holiday parties, and large family meals. Whether you’re a host or a guest, everyone’s just a bit happier to see you with sparkling wine in hand. Here’s a bottle of affordable, versatile bubbles that fits as well in a secret Santa or New Year’s Eve party as on your family’s holiday table.
Weather plays an important role in shaping a vintage. Warmer years produce richer wines; years with rain usually drive down yield. And then there are years where nearly everything goes just right. 2015 was such a year, though most of its wines have yet to be bottled. But while we wait, we continue to enjoy the fruits of the last banner year in Burgundy: 2009.
Grape varietals often get their names from a visible aspect of their fruit. The name Sauvignon blanc comes from sauvage (“wild”) because its leaves resemble those of wild grape vines. Pinot Gris refers to the blue-gray (gris) color of its grapes. But our favorite varietal (etymologically speaking) has to be Sangiovese -- a wine so inky and black that it is named for the “blood of Jove.”
In a region as small and well trodden as Burgundy, it’s amazing there are any surprises left at all. But today’s wine might be the single most exciting Burgundy of either color we’ve found in the last few years. Hailing from tiny and oft-forgotten town of Ladoix, it’s a wine of extraordinary complexity and depth.
Most wines benefit from a bit of air after the bottle is opened -- but some require it. Given an hour or so in a decanter, a wine that seems hard and uninteresting can transform into a complex and delicious bottle. The decanter doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive -- in fact we’ve found if it’s not, you’re more likely to use it -- just a method to increase exposure to air.
Côtes-du-Rhônes are a dime a dozen these days. From bistro chalkboards in Paris, to Costco’s “Kirkland Signature” labels, it’s one of the most recognizable brands in the wine world. And as you might expect, the quality varies as much as the colorful labels. Among our very favorites is the Domaine Malmont’s version in Séguret.
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.
No town in France is more celebrated for its wines than Vosne-Romanée. Responsible for the some of the world’s finest and most sought-after bottles, Vosne is undoubtedly the most famous Pinot Noir village on earth. Michel Gros is a lifelong resident of Vosne. His family has made wine there for centuries, and his mother was once the mayor.
Some of the finest wines in our cellar are White Burgundy. Grown in a small collection of vineyards where Chardonnay reaches its highest expression, White Burgundy can be as profound as any red wine. Burgundy is where Chardonnay strikes its most elegant balance between soft, mouthfilling fruit, and crisp, refreshing acidity.