Monday, November 30, 2015

Samuel Billaud - A Maverick with Pedigree in Chablis

France, Burgundy: Painful Pleasure - Chablis 2013/2014For those of you who love the crisp, chalky salinity of fine Chablis, the name Billaud should ring a few bells. Domaine Billaud-Simon has been a powerhouse in old school Chablisienne quality for two centuries now, since 1815. Samuel cut his teeth at the family domaine, but since 2009 Samuel has been at the helm of his own project -  Domaine Samuel Billaud - and the accolades are starting to roll in from major wine publications such as The Wine Advocate, Burghound, and Vinous.

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Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate talks to the Billaud in his piece “France, Burgundy: Painful Pleasure - Chablis 2013/2014 - Domaine Samuel Billaud.” In addition, he wrote up the wines of the two vintages, with many strong showings throughout the line.

Allen Meadows of Burghound finds much to like at the fledgling domaine, writing in late 2014: “life was about to materially change in a good way for Samuel Billaud thanks to the partial sale of Domaine Billaud-Simon …” He awarded scores of 90+ to many of the wines. 

Steven Tanzer also praises the 2013/2014 vintages, giving consistent scores and noting that “got back four hectares of vines, and in vintage 2014 his production will be up to about 7,500 cases of wine.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wines for Your Thanksgiving Table

Last week we focused on the Chave Selections Saint-Joseph “Offerus” as perfect for your Thanksgiving table. But variety is the spice of life, so here are a few more suggestions:

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Sparkling rose adds a festive touch to any occasion. Impress with this Pinot Noir-based bottle from Alsace. Bright and delicate, this super-dry sparkling rosé of Pinot Noir shows strawberry, raspberry, and rhubarb notes. Find out more … 

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Riesling is a welcome addition to a meal that has lots of variety, with its bright acidity and fruit flavors complementing a variety of foods. Start with this off-dry white this Thanksgiving with its notes of orchard fruits and stony minerality. Find out more …

A lighter-bodied red at Thanksgiving can provide a great option for those who don’t want big, structured reds throughout the meal. To help combat palate fatigue, try this Dolcetto, which is light and bright, with notes of berries, plum and slight bit of texture that harmonizes well with food. Find out more … 

All of us at Langdon Shiverick wish you a happy Thanksgiving with lots of good food and wine!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Amphora Wines at Herdade do Rocim



2,000 years ago the Romans introduced amphora
winemaking to the Alentejo region of Portugal, specifically
the small southern wine region of Vidigueira.
Winemaking with amphora, or talhas as they are called
in Portugal, is rarely commercially viable today. But estates
such as Herdade do Rocim are rediscovering this
ancient tradition with much success. 

At Herdade do Rocim in Alentejo, Sr. Pedro has become
a local celebrity in terms of his amphora winemaking.
He grew up on the estate, and oversees the vineyards
and amphora. Each year, locals gather in the small village
of Vila de Frades – just a couple miles down the
road from Herdade do Rocim – for the Talha Wine Festival,
where for the past 30 years Sr. Pedro has won first
or second place in the amphora wine competition. The
ancient method has been passed down for three generations at the estate – both his father
and his grandfather, who were also born and raised at the estate, made wines in this traditional
fashion. 

Most wines made with amphora never see a bottle and must be consumed within the year. To
drink, you simply dip your jug straight into the amphora and enjoy – no bottles, no corks. It never
crossed Sr. Pedro’s mind to bottle his own amphora wine until it made such a great impression
on David during a visit to the estate that he decided to give bottling a try. A few years later,
Herdade do Rocim became the first Portuguese estate to make traditional, authentic wine from
amphora and successfully bottle it for sale.

 Sr. Pedro keeps the amphorae outside and above ground, which
is different from some other winemakers who keep the pots buried
underground. Like the Romans did 2,00 years ago, he lines
the insides of the clay pots with beeswax and olive oil made onsite
with cobrancosa olives. The grapes that go into the amphora
are from the oldest vines on the property – 60 to 80 years old.
Due to the age of the vines, the grapes are low to the ground
and are covered by a leafy canopy. Therefore, the grapes are
slow to ripen and are picked at the end of September. Sr. Pedro
only uses traditional, native grapes for his amphora wine. For
the white wine, he uses Antão Vaz, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha and
Manteúdo. For the red wine, he uses Aragonez and Trincadeira.
Herdade do Rocim is one of the only estates in the region to grow
these varietals. In fact, when Catarina and her father bought the
estate, the local people told them to replace the grapes with more popular international varietals.
They are glad they decided not to as these varietals are now nearly extinct.

The white and red wine are made exactly the same way. Everything goes inside the amphora –
the grapes, the skins and the stems. Fermentation takes about two weeks and the grape juice,
stems and skins are stirred three to four times a day. Nothing is added - no inoculations, no
sulfur, no corrections. Once alcoholic fermentation is complete, malolactic fermentation takes
place. After malolactic fermentation, the skins and the stems sink down to the bottom of the
amphora where they lay for six months. The amphora has no lid, so Sr. Pedro puts a layer of
olive oil on top of the the wine as a natural protectant and to keep the wine from oxidizing. For
bottling, the small tap at the bottom of the amphora is opened and the wine trickles through
the skins and stems, naturally filtering the wine. Then the wine is taken to the winery, already
filtered, and a tiny bit of sulfur is added before going straight into the bottle. Since the wine
was left on the skins and stems for both the white and red wine, the tannins naturally preserve
the wine in bottle and little sulfur is needed. 

The grapes and vinification process are unique, so in turn, the taste of the wine is also unique.
It is an extreme representation of the terroir, reflected in both the good and bad years. In the
good years, the wines express minerality, freshness and elegance. They are not perfect in terms
of winemaking, but there is beauty in its faults that cannot be experienced with any other
wine.


A Perfect Wine for Thanksgiving

Eater.com has named the Chave Selection Saint-Joseph “Offerus” as an ideal wine for your Thanksgiving table. Want more? We’ll have some more turkey-tastic recommendations coming your way next week!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Les Chais du Vieux Bourg: An Interview with David Shiverick

We recently sat down with David
Shiverick to talk about Les Chais du Vieux Bourg, one of the properties we
represent out of Jura, France. Owned by Ludwig Bindernagel and Natalie Eigenschenck,
these first-generation winemakers have made quite an impression on this small,
close-knit winemaking region.

“Ludwig, originally from Bavaria,
is a trained architect. While he was working in Paris he met Natalie and they quickly
fell in love. They wanted to make wine in Burgundy, but the land was too
expensive, so they settled in the Jura. Ludwig took to the area very well and he’s
rapidly become a big star there - people love him.

In an old community like that you
might think that they might not be accepting of a new person, but it’s been no
problem. There’s so much infighting in this old community in Jura that he’s a
breath of fresh air. He has an electrifying smile that wins you over so easily.
He has this beautiful, cherubic face and smile, and he’s such a fair-minded
person, no angriness, just an amazing guy. He makes everyone happy, everyone
likes the guy.”

When David first met Ludwig, he
thought it would be a quick trip to his tasting room. He quickly learned
otherwise.

“I figured we’d have 15 wines to
taste, that’s what he said, so I said ‘okay, maybe 45 minutes to an hour.’ No.
He and his wife served 15 courses of food and a different course for each wine.
And this is the way they think about wine in the Jura. That it’s very important
that it be matched up to the cuisine. No one just drinks wine by itself.”

The oxidative quality of many of
the wines of Jura often create an impediment to consumers used to a different
style of wine. While many of Ludwig’s wine aren’t oxidative, even those that
are prove to be an excellent match to the traditional cuisine of the region.

“…they’re very difficult wines to
learn about and enjoy, because you can’t just drink the wine by itself. It
tastes a little sour and it has a unique curry profile that you never taste in
any other wines, it’s quite pleasing. But match it with a washed-rind cheese
and it’s delicious. It’s also perfect with the local specialty of chicken in a
cream sauce with morel mushrooms.”

Ludwig’s latest acquisition is
property in the vaunted Château-Chalon, the home of Vin Jaune. Land in the
appellation is incredibly difficult to come by, with every available plot owned
by people whose roots in the area often go back generations. Thanks to Ludwig’s
considerable charm however, he was able to get a foothold in this historic
place.

“It’s a beautiful site. It’s the
name of a medieval village that sits on top of what is in essence an atoll,
with a village right on top like a beret, and the vineyards go around the hill
on the east, south and west sides. It’s almost entirely planted and you can
never buy vineyard sites in Chalon.

But one day about four years ago,
there was a knock at his door, and there was a young man who introduced himself
and informed Ludwig that his father has land in Château-Chalon and he had sent
the young man there because he would like to sell it to Ludwig – who was
understandably overwhelmed. Ludwig  asked ‘why do you think he wants to sell to
me, I don’t really know your father?’ To which the young man replied ‘because
he knows everyone else and he doesn’t think the other vigneron play fair. And
he sees you and sees that you’re so fair and he would love to find a way to
sell this land to you.’ So here he got the most perfect gift and it fell right
into his lap.”

In addition to Ludwig’s
winemaking, the family also purchased an old hôtel particulier (similar to a
bed & breakfast), which was once home to a family with eight children.
There, Nathalie cooks an inclusive breakfast and optional seasonal dinner. With
their completely natural approach to winemaking and veneration to the Jura’s
ways and traditions, Ludwig and Natalie are attracting attention for all the
right reasons.