Monday, January 27, 2014

January 17, 2014-Domaine de la Pousse d'Or was a fitting final stop in Burgundy. An absolutely stunning facility with several quirks (including a self topping barrel mechanism), you immediately noted that this place is owned by an inventor. This historic property was purchased in 1999 by Patrick Landager, the wines have purportedly, never been better. They utilize gravity flow, and organic farming. They hold 3 monopoles all in Volnay: Bousse d'Or, Clos d'Auginiac and 60 Ouvrées., along with 1er & Grand Crus throughout Pommard, Corton and Chambolle Musigny. We tasted essentially, the entire range of 2012’s and they were just stunning.  These are wines crafted for long term ageing. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 16th, 2014-David Renaud & Irancy- Just 20 minutes north of rand Cru vineyards of Chablis lies a town with 1 restaurant and dozens of Vignerons called Irancy. This is often referred to as the red wine wine of Chablis. We found that notion, however, to be a dismissive generalization. We had lunch with David Renaud at, well, the only restaurant in Irancy. There, he seemingly knew everyone and, it seemed as if everyone made wine. We tasted through his range of wines, made almost exclusively from Pinot Noir (with a little César thrown into a few of them). You might expect thin, vapid, watery Pinots from such a Northerly appellation, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In tasting through the wines, we noted a power and a richness of dark fruit that seemingly had more in common with wines of Southern Burgundy than anywhere else. These distinctive Bourgognes not only deserve their own AOC, but really deserve much more than just curiosity status. David is gentle and soft spoken, but clearly leading this appellation by example. He showed us the vineyards of Irancy, which extended more than 250 meters above the town surrounding it on all sides like a birds nest. This cove helps protect the vines form harsh elements. The soil was filled with Kimmeridgian Limestone and we found several fossils in the topsoil.  So while sharing a similar soil with Chablis, the vineyards appeared fairly different, more gentle slopes with varying aspects. As with the other producers we have  been visiting, we immediately noted the delineation of where David’s vineyards begin and end, as he is adamantly organic.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 16, 2014-“A tale of 2 Chablis”- The Napoleonic land laws are difficult for Americans to wrap their heads around, and the peculiarities of 200 years of family dynamics are worth steering clear of. Nonetheless, we visited 2 producers that share a bit more in common than just their last names. Samuel Billaud  and Domaine Billaud Simon are 2 premier producers in Chablis. Samuel was winemaker at his family’s Domaine until around 2006. He has left and politics and family dynamics being what they are, we’ll skip ahead to our tastings today. First we met with Samuel, who is now categorized as a “micro-negociant”. He does purchase fruit from Grand and Premier Crus, but he has contracts that allow him to dictate farming and when to pick, and this is key. We tasted through a range of 2012 Grand and Premier Crus including Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Les Preuses and of course, Les Clos. Immediately, we were able to sense Samuel’s style, a slight tact towards the fruit and weight, while balancing minerality and acidity. Samuel picks a bit earlier than some of his colleagues and the result probably gives more malic acid that tartaric as well as a lower alcohol. The wines are stunning and youthful. That evening, we visited Domaine Billaud Simon. As we tasted through these wines at the prestigious and incredibly important Domaine, we noticed a differnt style, one that is much more linear and racy. Minerality to spare, the only wine we detected much fruit on was the 2007 Vaudesir, and it became quite clear that these wines have an electricity to them that requires time.

The takeway was an eye opening stylistic distinction between these 2 very well-respected wineries. As we drove the 1+ back to our Git in Santenay, the debate between style preference was a study in passion and how experienced palates can disagree on style preference so passionately.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 15, 2014-Vincent Pinard. While we were staying in Santenay, Florentine and Clement Pinard came to meet with us and brought us a gorgeous lunch. Vincent Pinard has been producing Sancerre since the 16th century, over 20 generations. Flor and Clement and the current winemakers. They brought us a range of Sancerres, each fascinating and complex, and terroir driven. They have holdings on a variety of soils and bottle those terroirs individually as well as in blends. The real surprises, however, were the reds. We expected their Pinots to be like most red Sancerres-thin and lifeless. These were anything but, they showed power depth and life. It may have been even more impressive considering we were right in the midst of 4 days in Burgundy. These incredible Pinots stood shoulder to shoulder with much of the wine we tasted in Burgundy, while showing their own distinct style. For many of use these were an unexpected revelation, and for 2 sweet young guys, they provided us with a lighthearted afternoon with wines that were powerful, not in structure, but in gravitas.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 14, 2014- today, we had a very interesting experience. We tasted with 2 tremendous producers making wines in the opposite sides of Burgundy. Damien Colin from Domaine Marc Colin greeted at his winery in the town of Gamay. Damien is one of 4 children of Marc Colin, 3 of which are involved in the winery. They specialize in wines of the Côtes de Beaune. We tasted through a range of St Aubin and Chassagne Montrachets. Each wine displayed nervy minerality and a gorgeous weight.

Next, we made the trek up to Marsannay to meet with Domaine Jean Fournier. Laurent, the current generation and winemaker, led us through a range of Côted de Nuits wines, focusing on Marsannay for the reds, and a unique selection of more historic whites, including Aligote, Pinot Blanc, and of course, Chardonnay. Fournier’s whites showed fresh. Delicious fruit, while the reds had power, life, and longevity.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 12, 2014-today we saw Laurent Macle, the son of Jean Macle in the Jura. Macle has been making wine for 2 generations, but farming in the area for 6. Widely considered the prince of Jura, they have holdings in the undeclared Grand Cru of Chateau Chalon, which is the “crows nest”, sitting atop a crest. Laurent took us through his cellars showing us the flor, which helps the famous sous voile to develop for 6 years. These wines that are considered “yellow” due to aging and oxidative nature. When he tasted us through the lineup, we enjoyed his young wines very much, he makes outstanding oullie ( fresh wines) from Chardonnay and Savagnin. Laurent was generous enough to allow us to taste his sous voile wines with some good age-1983 Côtes-du-Jura as well as a 1976 and 1990 Chateau Chalon, which truly demonstrated the almost unbelievable aging ability and necessity from these wines.

January 12th, 2014-Les Chais de Vieux Bourg- After a very long day of driving in Alsace and meeting with super secret producers to be named later, we arrived in Jura at Les Chais de Vieux Bourg about an hour late. Our hosts, graciously cooked us, get this, a 13 course meal that took 3 days to prepare! The expertly course after course with their stunning and unique wines. Ludwig and Nathelie Bindernagel, owners of Les Chais de Vieux Bourg love o eat and enjoy their wines with friends and family, we felt like we fell int that category immediately. The next day, albeit a little earlier than we would have all preferred, we walked through his vineyards and tasted his stunning and singular wines. Vin Jeune may be what they’re best known for, but Poulsard, Pinot Noir, chardonnay, savagnin and blends and different versions and bends of these varieties make u the entirety of their production. Their notoriety certainly comes from the yellow wines, but the traditional wines are stunning and surprising. They farm Biodynamically, and you can really sense the difference.