Tagged with 'French wine'

River District Burgundy Offer 2021

I proudly present the River District Burgundy Offer for 2021. I’ve been collecting tiny batches over the course of this year, often just a case each, so that I could bring you a diverse, balanced selection over many regions and prices. There are pricy wines here to be sure, but Burgundy still has good deals if you know where to look (I do). If you’re a Burgundy lover and you aren’t interested in anything here…. stop it. Yes you are. 

No way around it, this is a beast. It’s a long and storied list of wines from the Cote d’Or, Maconnais and Chablis, so take your time with it (and feel free to share it with fellow Burgheads), but not too much time because I can’t really “hold” anything, just come in to River District or call me with payment to secure the wines. Cool? Cool. 

Visit Jordan in the Vintages Room at our River District location.

  • 8570 River District Crossing
  • 604 416 1672
  • jcarrier@everythingwine.ca

We begin with unicorns shooting rainbows out of their horns: 

Maison Leroy. No sense burying the lede: I have back-vintaged Leroy. This hasn’t happened before and won’t again: it is only because of the (gestures broadly at everything) past 18 months that wines like this even left France. Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy ran Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) for nearly 20 years and is still the majority shareholder, but now runs her late father’s negoçe Maison Leroy as well as Domaine Leroy (much younger than Maison, established in the late ‘80s). Behind DRC, Leroy is the second most sought Burgundy in the world, which is why it’s nutbar that I actually could get the following: 

Maison Leroy Morey-Saint-Denis (Pinot Noir) 1984. An exercise in sublimity with floral notes, dried raspberries, balsamic and baked plum. Evolves in front of you, but the lively acidity on the close keeps everything fresh. 6 bottles available, $1727.98 +tax 

Maison Leroy Saint-Aubin (Pinot Noir) 1993. A rare Saint-Aubin red. Soft echoes of strawberries and roses under tilled earth, with gamey dried fig and plum notes continuing from front to back. 6 bottles available, $2199.98 +tax 

Maison Leroy Volnay (Pinot Noir) 2003. An expert balance of elegance and power, with vibrant black cherry and blackberry leading the nose, with slight green herb notes and barrel influence. Great acidity, another 20 years is possible but perfect now. 6 bottles available, $2132.98 +tax 

Maison Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges (Pinot Noir) 2013. Randy and kicking, with spicy cassis, fresh plum and ferrous notes. Still tightly wound and fresher than early ‘90s Will Smith. 6 bottles available, $1983.98 +tax 

 

CÔTE D’OR 

Domaine Robert Groffier Père & Fils. The largest landowner in the cult-inspiring Amoureuses 1er Cru comes into it honestly and generationally: current vigneron Nicolas Groffier is the 4th Groffier to wrest power and beauty from Pinot in the Côte de Nuits. The house style can best be described as terroir-informed pragmatism, Nicolas doesn’t dogmatically hue to one way of winemaking (i.e. whole cluster vs. destemming), he lets the vineyard tell him what to do, an easy decision when you have dirt like this: 

Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses (Pinot Noir) 2017. The Premier Cru that self identifies as a Grand Cru (with good reason), and Nicolas owns the biggest and arguably best chunk of it. 50% whole cluster pressing, 25% new oak. A fresh, autumn rain vibe underscores the violets, raspberries, cherries and spice. 5 bottles available, $904.98 +tax 

Groffier Bonnes Mares Grand Cru (Pinot Noir) 2017. Nestled on the border of two villages (Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-Saint-Denis) and adjacent to the Clos de Tart Grand Cru (more on them below), Bonnes Mares can ripen Pinot more than its neighbors, so this is a tad fatter than most 2017s you’ll find. A high intensity of floral aromatics over brambly fruit and blueberries. Slight note of soy and anise. Hella fresh delivery from the 100% whole cluster pressing that balances the weight. 6 bottles available, $904.98 +tax 

Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers (Pinot Noir) 2017. The northernmost Cru of the village. 100% whole cluster pressing from 80-year-old vines. Slight notes of smoke and pine lift the racy cherry and potpourri aromas. Silky deployment with black current lingering on the long finish. 6 bottles available, $369.98 +tax 

 

Clos de Tart. Another once-in-a-blue-moon acquisition for me, I don’t expect to see it again. The largest of the 5 Grand Cru Monopoles in Burgundy (Monopole = one house owns the whole Cru, a near-impossibility under the Napoleonic Laws of Inheritance), Clos de Tart has only had 4 owners since 1141 (it’s now owned by Chateau Latour). Founded by the “Tart” nuns, this stone-walled vineyard adjacent to Bonnes Mares is unique in the Côte de Nuits, in that it’s planted to both north and south exposure, whereas most Crus face south, giving an elegant twist to the ripe Pinot grown there. I have two vintages: 

Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole (Pinot Noir) 2018. Deceptively light on its feet, hiding the massive power on the back end. 55% whole cluster pressing. Plum and rose aromas atop cinnamon and stone. Endlessly layered, timeless. 3 bottles available, $1187.98 +tax 

Clos de Tart Grand Cru Monopole (Pinot Noir) 2009. 100% destemmed and reflecting the girth of the hotter vintage, the 2009 is firmly in the zone and will stay there for another 15 years. Ripe cherries and sandalwood with bergamot and slight hints of chocolate. Despite the aromatic generosity the shape is medium-bodied and elegant, with a vibrant, electric finish. 3 bottles available, $1348.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Chavy-Chouet. First time in BC and I’m stoked. 7th generation winemaker Romanic Chavy is part of the vanguard making modern, electric white Burgundies with tension and purpose. Aging on lees but eschewing lees stirring, his fresh winemaking was informed by his godfather Francois Mikulski (more on him below) although his Chardonnays carry a bit more weight. I have: 

Chavy-Chouet Meursault Les Cases Têtes (Chardonnay) 2019. A “Case Tête” is a mind-bending puzzle, and they so named the vineyard due to the head-scratching effort it took to get anything to grow on this pebbly, limestone ground. Baked pear, toasted hazelnuts and lemon zest, silky delivery, gorgeously tart, chalky finish. 6 bottles available, $119.98 +tax 

Chavy-Chouet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs Gain (Chardonnay) 2019. An easterly exposure and higher altitude give this climat just under Blagny a cooling effect, making lighter, more elegant Chard. Freshly cut peach and underripe pear aromas, a creamy, lush delivery that becomes a lightsaber on the finish. 6 bottles available, $173.98 +tax 

Chavy-Chouet Bourgogne Aligoté “Les Petits Poiriers” (Aligoté) 2019. One of the most expressive Aligotés that I’ve tried in a long time, from 60-year-old vines on a single lieu-dit. Grassy apple and nectarine notes, super linear on palate. Zippy and lovely. 6 bottles available, $43.98 +tax 

 

Domaine François Mikulski. The road Francois took towards winemaking could fill a miniseries: his father escaped occupied Poland and found himself fighting alongside the British in the Free Polish Forces, where he met François’ mother who was from Burgundy. François fell in love with Burgundian wine and in 1992 inherited some plots from his uncle Pierre Boillot, then spent the next 3 decades in the cellar doing the opposite of what his uncle did. Racy and immediate, with elegance obscuring the latent power. 

Mikulski Meursault (Chardonnay) 2019. Minerality takes centre stage with brown butter and cashews providing support. Green melon on the palate leads to the characteristic house zing. You only notice after its gone how heavy it actually was. 6 bottles available, $126.98 +tax 

Mikulski Bourgogne Aligote (Aligote) 2019. A rustic brew of green apple, lime and white pepper from a plot planted by François’ grandfather in 1922. A honeyed nose gives way to a taught, austere palate and a saline, quince-like finish. 10 bottles available, $48.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Marc Morey. The Morey name shows up in Burgundy more often than chocolate chips do in a cookie, all stemming from the vineyards that Frederic Morey bought when he returned from WW2. His kids split the holdings into a few domaines, and his great-granddaughter Sabine now runs Marc Morey, specializing in delightfully old-school renderings of the legendary Crus surrounding the village of Chassagne-Montrachet. Ambient yeast ferments, gentle battonage (lees stirring) and unrestricted malolactic are the family tools, and Sabine uses them to craft aromatic, generously textured Chardonnays of layer and length, like: 

Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes (Chardonnay) 2019. A hella sunny climat, named after “chanvre” the Old French word for hemp, which covered these slopes well before the Cistercian monks replanted them to vines. Like receiving a hug from the Lemon God. Ripe peaches and truffle support the lemon preserve aromas, a full, creamy body fills all cracks with love until the citrus-rind astringent finish adds a welcome tension at the end. 12 bottles available, $161.98 

Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet Les Virondots (Chardonnay) 2019. The highest point in Chassagne, Virondots’ meager topsoil readily gives way to the limestone bedrock, making viticulture so challenging that few had attempted it before Frederic Morey made the Cru sing with mineral expressions below the ripe fruit. Orange zest and apple define the profile, with chalky austerity supporting the medium frame. Delicious now, unstoppable in 5 years. 12 bottles available, $161.98 +tax 

 

Anne Gros. Every crusty old grump who said that Burgundian winemaking “is a man’s art” are now just eddies in the wake of Anne Gros, an impressive feat considering that one of those grumps was her own father. One of the Cote de Nuits undisputed top winemakers, Anne now tends the cellar as her children tend the vines, driving collectors nuts with her tiny quantities and sorceress-like status. I have: 

Anne Gros Echezeaux Grand Cru (Pinot Noir) 2019. Just above Clos Vougeot, one of the larger Grand Crus. The licorice hues of the Cru are accompanied by dark chocolate, Asian five-spice and game notes. Tightly wound and bursting with potential, with sous-bois and orange rind flowing across the finish line. Masterful stuff, this is not its decade. 6 bottles available, $320.98 +tax 

 

Domaine des Perdrix. There are few left nowadays but several decades ago Burgundy, like many other estates in France, contained lots of non-descript, workaday houses that harvested heavy and sold off their juice in bulk. Perdrix was one such estate until the Devillard family purchased it in 1966 and set it on the road to stardom, slashing harvest tonnage and modernizing the cellar. Today Perdix is known for two things: 1) half of their holdings are either Premier Cru or Grand Cru, and 2) the house style favours depth and power with precise fruit expression. For example: 

Perdrix Vosne-Romanée (Pinot Noir) 2018. 60% whole cluster pressing from vineyards touching Clos Vougeot, a whopping 40% new oak used in the cellar: Here be Dragons. Dark and dangerous with cassis and licorice stirring the pot, a formidable frame, but not at the expense of lively acidity. Full body, big bones. 12 bottles available $139.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Faiveley. In 1934, with the world economy in ruins, Hitler ascending to power, and nobody buying Burgundy wines at all, Georges Faively founded the legendary Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (which meets to this day in the basement of Clos Vougeot), under the simple concept that if no one was buying them, at least the winemakers could get together and drink them. Founded in 1825, Faiveley has incrementally collected some of Burgundy’s best climats over two centuries (they own more Monopoles than any other estate), and now 7th generation vignerons Erwan and Eve Faiveley have steered the house style away from power (their dad François’ calling card) towards elegance and fidelity to terroir. I have: 

Faiveley Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru Monopole (Pinot Noir) 2017. Another one of the 5 Grand Cru Monopoles, acquired by the family in 1874, and sitting on one of the oldest vine-bearing hills in Burgundy, planted in the time of Charlemagne. An elegant vintage, with intense black cherry, vanilla and pomegranate. 2 bottles available, $330.98 +tax 

Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts Monopole (Pinot Noir) 2017. The smallest appellation in all of Burgundy, with eastern exposure. A savoury, stony vibe supports the earthy raspberries and licorice notes. Built like a tiny little tank. 6 bottles available, $155.98 +tax 

Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet (Chardonnay) 2019. Soft oak notes around beeswax, jasmine and quince, finishes creamy and mineral. A welcome throwback style, delicate and lush. 6 bottles available, $126.98 +tax 

Faiveley Chassagne-Montrachet (Chardonnay) 2019. Stone fruits and candied grapefruit zest (yes) atop a rainwater minerality. The oak is more on nose than palate, with vanillin and lychee preceding a long, slightly minty finish. 6 bottles available, $117.98 +tax 

Faiveley Vosne-Romanée (Pinot Noir) 2015. Managed to snag a back vintage of this perfumed, very pretty Vosne. Roses and strawberries over tomato leaf and dark cherry notes. Very much in the zone, lovely. 6 bottles available, $138.98 +tax 

 

Benoit Ente. A tiny maison run by Benoit and his aunt, farming vineyards bequeathed from his grandparents in and around the village of Puligny-Montrachet. It’s a simple operation, they pick the grapes earlier than most and age the wines in large foudres with no fining. That’s pretty much it. Lucky for Benoit that he farms some of the best plots in the village; he doesn’t really need to do much more. New to BC, I’m stoked to have: 

Benoit Ente Puligny-Montrachet (Chardonnay) 2018. Lemon essence and jasmine intertwine with brioche and Anjou pear. Large and friendly with zippy tension on the back end. Gorgeous stuff. 12 bottles available, $159.98 +tax 

 

Gerard Raphet. Neal Martin called Gerard Raphet one of the best “under the radar producers” in Burgundy. A quiet man making civilized wines, Raphet practices very light extraction and a fraction of new oak, even on his Grand Crus, so although Gerard is quiet, his vineyards are loud. He took over from his father 20 years ago and makes wine with his daughter Virgine in Morey-Saint-Denis. I have: 

Gerard Raphet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (Pinot Noir) 2011. Bright red fruits amongst the roses in the dirt. Finely structured frame, with ripe fruit on palate followed by a smoky mushroom vibe on the long finish. Tastes like forever. 3 bottles available, $304.98+tax 

Gerard Raphet Chambolle-Musigny (Pinot Noir) 2018. A bright, sunny Chambolle with notes of green herbs and mushrooms amidst the sour cherry and ripe plum notes. 6 bottles available, $159.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Latour-Giraud. When the Latour and Giraud families merged in 1958 (Burgundy is one of the world’s last places where peeps still marry for land), they brought together a combined 4 centuries of viticulture. Specializing almost entirely in the village of Meursault (with a notable exception below), Jean-Pierre Latour has pioneered low-intervention winemaking in the village, using ambient yeasts, lees again and minimal racking, and the style can best be called Retro-Modern, as the wines are generous but still tightly wound. I have: 

Latour-Giraud Meursault 1er Cru 1er Cru Meursault-Genevrières (Chardonnay) 2018. Named after the juniper trees that the grape vines replaced, the limestone-laced Genevrières Cru is known locally for massive body and nutty aromas. Latour-Giraud’s expression tones down the huge, with white flowers and orange rind prevailing. Elegant and supercharged on the finish. 12 bottles available, $144.98 +tax 

Latour-Giraud Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Canet (Chardonnay) 2018. Bordering Meursault, Champs Canet is a crumbly-wumbly of marl and limestone with limited topsoil, and hues a shade lighter than many other Pulignys. Orchard blossom and almonds on the nose, with hints of petrol. Mouth-filling but laser-tight on the finish. 12 bottles available, $164.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Pierre Labet. Although the Labet name can be traced back 500 years in the Beaune wine trade, François Labet himself is more contemporarily associated with the venerated Chateau de la Tour, where he is the head winemaker, producing some of the most sought-after Clos Vougeot in the world. His home label is no side-hustle, though, as his family accrued amazing vineyards around Beaune over the years, vinified at the same facility (and by the same team) as Chateau de la Tour. When asked about his house style, François said “I think I’m making pre-World-War 2 wines with modern techniques and equipment.” We have: 

Pierre Labet Meursault Les Tillets (Chardonnay) 2018. The highest site in Meursault, sitting just above Les Narvaux, Les Tillets produces focused, mineral Chards with poise and charm. Citrus notes rule the nose, with slight buttered peach notes on palate but not on the finish. Zingy and zangy. 6 bottles available, $132.98 +tax 

Pierre Labet Beaune Clos des Monsnieres (Chardonnay) 2018. Lush Beaune fruit (peach, butter, buttered peaches, peachy butter) is restrained by lemon oil and orange zest, as well as a bracingly fresh acid profile. I’d like the finish to integrate better, 3 years would take care of that. 6 bottles available, $100.98 +tax 

 

Domaine Philippe Gavignet. Elegant wines from a village certainly capable of the opposite: many Nuits-St-Georges can be Tannin-o-sauruses with ferrous frames and only slight glimpses of the terrified fruit imprisoned therein, but Philippe Gavignet leads with soft beauty, partially due to the old vines he inherited from the 3 Gavignets before him. With his son Benoit, he farms around NSG and Haute-Côtes de Nuits, practicing moderate extraction in the winery towards finessed, silky wines like these: 

Philippe Gavignet Nuits-Saintt-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers (Pinot Noir) 2019. Planted in 1974 at the bottom of the Pruliers Cru where the soils are limestoniest, this accordingly well-structured NSG is tempered by dusty chocolate, cinnamon and blackberry, as well as Philippe’s softer touch. Not ready yet but not as far off as other NSGs. 12 bottles available, $138.98 +tax 

Domaine Stephane Magnien. Although organic viticulture is widespread in Burgundy it’s a relatively recent practice, but fourth generation winemaker Stephane can proudly claim that his family has never used pesticides, and have plowed by horse continuously over a century to preserve the living soil under their feet. These are finely finessed Pinots, almost entirely from the village of Morey-Saint-Denis, aged in only 10% new barrels, and the Magnien family is known locally for using “Pinot Tordu”, a tiny-berried aromatic clone of Pinot from old vines. I have: 

Stephane Magnien Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Cuvee aux Petit Noix” (Pinot Noir) 2018. A unique blend of two mid-slope Premier Crus, Petit Noix is one of the more corpulent MSDs that Stephane produces. A complex beast, with gamey blackberry emerging on the nose, with mineral and herbal flavours accompanying the fruit on palate. The tannins are fine but will better integrate in 5 years. 6 bottles available, $133.98 

David Butterfield. If we’re honest, David Butterfield is what most of us in this industry really want to be: a Canadian who French people think is cool. Embraced by local winemakers (he apprenticed under a few of them), the Burgundians like David for his traditional, respectful approach to many of the region’s best fruit. I like him because he keeps releasing reasonably priced, awesome back vintages like these: 

Butterfield Beaune 1er Cru Les Teurons (Pinot Noir) 2009. Pretty widely considered to be the best Beaune Cru for reds, smack dab in the middle of the strip of 1er Crus near the town. Black cherry and spicy blackberry. There’s always a bit more depth and darkness to the Teurons fruit profile, elevated by the warmer 2009, but this is no Mallomar, a precise frame holds the extra baggage perfectly and there’s 10 more years in this no probs. 6 bottles arriving next week, $110.98 +tax 

Butterfield Corton Grand Cru Blanc (Chardonnay) 2015. Enter the Pleasuredome. Slightly hotter and rounder than Corton-Charlemagne around the corner, white Cortons are as close as Burgundy gets to erotic fan fiction. Ripe pear and bruised apple shade the soft minerality and weight, a full body flows towards an electric finish with great tension. I’m blushing. So freaking gorgeous. 6 bottles arriving next week, $238.98 +tax 

Domaine Joseph Roty. With 11 continuous generations making wine, the Roty family is both one of the oldest Burgundian winemaking families and owners of some of Burgundy’s oldest vines. Even by the standards of Burgundy this is a miniscule production, and by tasting and looking at the bottles one might conclude that Roty thinks the last 20 years didn’t happen. Full destemming and liberal new oak usage aren’t what the cool kids are doing nowadays, but no one cares - with juice this good I’ll happily live in the past. I have: 

Joseph Roty Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Fontenys (Pinot Noir) 2017. A 1er Cru that’s due for a promotion, the Les Fontenys plot touches 2 Grand Crus (Mazi-Chambertin and Ruchottes-Chambertin). Already a sober village (speaking only allegorically), this Gevrey-Chambertin hues darkly, with intensely sanguineous notes around the dark cherry, orange peel and pepper notes. From 80+ year-old vines. 3 bottles available, $237.98 +tax 

MACONNAIS 

Domaine Barraud. Father and son team Daniel and Julien Barraud have been spinning gold from the lands that Daniel’s father bought in 1905, all around the totemistic local landmark the Roche de Vergisson, a rocky promontory that looms so large over the region you can find out where you are just by seeing where it is. There aren’t many “hacks” into Burgundy anymore, the value villages of 15 years ago (Meursault, St. Aubin) are now level with their contemporaries in price, but the right Maconnais plots in the hands of amazing producers like these rival the magic of the Cote d’Or’s best wines, at a fraction of the price. I have: 

Barraud Macon-Vergisson La Roche (Chardonnay) 2018. The highest plot in the appellation, simply one of Burgundy’s best remaining values. Intense lemon oil vibes – very Chassagne-ish – over a layered intensity of chalk and lime. 12 bottles available, $50.98 +tax 

Barraud Pouilly-Fuissé La Roche 2018 (Chardonnay) 2018. Same altitude as the previous “La Roche” vineyard, but this future Premier Cru (after 2020) is at the summit of the Roche de Vergisson. From 50-year-old vines, with apple peel, flint and light sea spray over a thicker, buzzy body. Loooong finish. 12 bottles available, $74.98 +tax 

Barraud Pouilly-Fuissé La Verchère Vieilles Vignes (Chardonnay) 2018. A cooler, limestone-rich site underneath the Roche de Vergisson and (conveniently) behind the Barraud’s home. 70+-year-old vines. White flowers, with faint hints of smoke over fresh lemon and chalk. 12 bottles available, $74.98 +tax 

Barraud Saint-Veran Arpege (Chardonnay) 2018. From the rocky Arpege plot (12 inches of topsoil before you hit limestone), this Veran is a live wire of green apple and honey dipped in citronella. Bracing, stony finish. 6 bottles available, $44.98 +tax 

Eve & Michel Rey. Pretty easy to practice low-intervention winemaking when there’s just two of you. Husband and wife team Eve and Michel pretty much do everything themselves, making modern, energy-filled Pouilly-Fuissé from around the Roche de Vergisson. Ambient yest ferments and minimal sulphites. Although they’ve only been at it a little while, they are every inch contemporaries of Domaine Barraud in quality and spirit. I have: 

Eve & Michel Rey Pouilly Fuissé La Maréchaude (Chardonnay) 2018. A stony, steep south-facing lieu-dit (future 1er Cru after 2020) on the slopes of Roche de Vergisson with chalk and clay underneath. Pomelo and hazelnut lurk under the citrus and slight smoke. The ripest of the bunch packs a punch. 12 bottles available, $58.98 +tax 

Eve & Michel Rey Pouilly Fuissé En Buland (Chardonnay) 2017. Aged a bit longer in neutral oak, this is the coolest lieu-dit of the bunch, sitting higher and facing northwest. 70-year-old vines. Racy and tasty with fresh lemon and flint. Lip-smacking finish, it zings like a wing ding. 12 bottles available, $49.98 +tax 

Eve & Michel Rey Pouilly Fuissé Les Crays (Chardonnay) 2017. Southeast facing plot, kind of a mid point between the two styles above. Will be a 1er Cru after 2020. Gorgeous floral notes beside the limeade, rich on palate, medium zing. 12 bottles available, $51.98 +tax 

CHABLIS 

Roland Lavantureux. New to BC, and not a moment too soon. Roland put his name on the family label in 1978, back when grapes were just one of the crops produced by the enterprising Laventureux family. Roland expanded his vineyard holdings five-fold, and now plays a back seat driver to his sons Arnaud and David, who run this marvelous, forward-looking maison We have: 

Lavantureux Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey (Chardonnay) 2018. Clay and limestone soils under one of the steepest plots in the village. Unsurprising gravel notes underscore the yellow plum and citrus rind, the palate is pretty big (reflecting the vintage) but the whole thing hums with energy from front to back, 12 bottles available, $69.98 +tax 

Lavantureux Chablis Vauprin (Chardonnay) 2018. Although only a lieu-dit in the middle of nowhere and not a 1er Cru, the Vauprin is considered locally to be the estate’s signature offering. The high-lying, south-facing plot gives the perfect blend of ripeness and tension, with smoke and hazelnut lurking beneath the citrus, with some apparent lees aging permeating the nose. 6 bottles available, $61.98 +tax 

Garnier & Fils. Although the Garnier family has been growing grapes for decades, it was brothers Xavier and Jerome Garnier who started making wine out of them in 1996, whereas their dad sold the crops to neighboring houses. Admirably bucking the general trend, the bros aren’t afraid to go big, picking later than anyone around them and allowing long, ambient yeast fermentations before aging in ginormous barrels. We have: 

Garnier & Fils Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu (Chardonnay) 2018. One of the 1er Crus most worthy of a promotion, sharing the same soil and aspect with the Grand Crus just a bit further north. Mont de Milieu makes big, ripe Chardonnay and the Garnier bros are most definitely here for it. The limestone chalkiness is ever-present, but lush pineapple and mango accompany the quince and lemon pastry. Great value. 12 bottles available, $65.98 +tax  

Garnier & Fils Bourgogne Epineuil (Pinot Noir) 2018. “Wait, what? There’s no such thing as red Chablis?!? What manner of sorcery be this?” Yes, you’re indeed correct, Chablis is only white wines, but when winemakers from there want to get their red on, they go just a bit down the road to Epineuil, a nearby hamlet with the same soils as Chablis, where Pinot is king. The Pinots from here act like they were raised by Syrah: peppery, meaty notes accompany the beaming red fruits, with smoke and blueberry around the fringes. What sets Epineuil apart from Burgundy (besides 150km) is the softer tannins – you can drink these immediately – and the energy of a ferret who has binged on No-Doz and MMA pay-per-view. Garnier’s version is elegant and racy, with candied pomegranate, smoke and roses on the nose, followed by a silky medium body and ultra-fresh finish. Best value of this list. 24 Bottles available, $39.98 +tax 

Maison Benjamin Laroche – La Manufacture. As kids tend to do, Benjamin had to go on a walkabout and escape the legacy of his legendary Chablis family (the Laroche name is 7 generations old, there) before returning home to put down roots, figuratively and literally. Having managed wineries all over France as a young man, he fell back in love with Chardonnay and the Chablis terroir, and set about trying to perfect expressions of those vineyards. As such, Benjamin does very little to the juice from the small plots he farms himself, his wines are elegant and honest, showing great value. 

La Manufacture Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot (Chardonnay) 2018. Pretty much all of the citrus fruits own some real estate in this nose, which evolves so quickly in front of you that the minerality seems to come and go as it pleases. Although Blanchot is the southernmost of the Grand Crus, it’s mostly known for elegant, mineral expressions, and this 2018 – despite the hotter year – is no exception. 12 bottles available, $116.98 +tax 

 

That’s it! We made it! We’re done! Coming soon: American Epics, Rhone wines and the River District Piedmont Offer…. 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

Jordan Carrier

Hooray for Chardonnay Spring 2021

A collection of Chardonnays today from several points on the globe but with extra focus on the US and Italy. We begin: 

FRANCE 

Anne Gros Bourgogne Blanc 2019, Burgundy. Behold the wisest spell to escape the wand of the She-Wizard. To avoid confusion, this isn’t the same as the $70 Bourgogne Blanc of Anne’s that I offered back in October. This stunning Chardonnay – a blend of parcels from the Côte de Nuits and Hautes Côtes de Nuits – finds Anne wearing her rare Négocient hat, purchasing fruit from her biggest fans and working her magic for a civilized bottle price. All grapes should be so lucky; this is the grapey version of finding the Golden Ticket in the Wonka bar. Fresh pear, Golden Delicious apples and chalk on the nose, a gorgeous melange of chamomile, rainwater and lime on palate. Chablis seems to be the north star, here – I’m quite sure I’d flag it as such were I blind tasted on this, the crisp acidity can see through walls and focuses the finish like a magnifying glass. Outstanding value, a great introduction to Anne’s oeuvre, will make your deck shine like a grail. 3 6-packs available, $51.98 +tax 

ARGENTINA 

Bodegas Chacras “Mainqué” Chardonnay 2018, Patagonia. Meursault’s Jean-Marc Roulot made this pure, focused Chardonnay to answer the question: What if you tried to make a white Burgundy on Hoth? The tempestuous landscape in South America’s southern, wild point (the indigenous population, first thought by Magellan to be giants, were dubbed the Patagon) throws all manner of curveballs at a humble grape-grower: dramatic temperature shifts, hail and heat waves, and yet Roulot manages to wrest some sort of elegance out of chaos every year. Aged in both oak and concrete, this 2018 experienced partial malolactic fermentation (they never control it, they just roll with what happens), so there’s a balance between brioche and brioche-with-a-laser-sword laying just underneath the Granny Smith, pears and jasmine on this expressive nose. The medium-full body brings tension, salinity and more brioche in case you didn’t get enough brioche. A lovely collection of opposites that’s so different each vintage. 97 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $71.98 +tax 

SOUTH AFRICA 

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2019, Hemel-en-Aarde. We weren’t supposed to get any of the miniscule-but-glorious 2019 vintage from Anthony Hamilton Russell: the tragic South African fires in early 2019, though less world-famous than Australia’s subsequent blazes, made life miserable and curtailed viticulture dramatically. The production was so small they thought they could only serve local markets for that year, but then (gestures broadly at everything). South Africa imposed an outright ban on alcohol sales, and while that really sucks for them it means more yummy HR for Jordan, so let’s rinse off that guilt with some good Chardonnay. Although usually destemmed, Russell crushed from whole bunches for this vintage to avoid the risk of smoke taint and employed the least amount of malolactic fermentation ever (only 10%), resulting in the most elegant and bright Chardonnay he’s ever produced, light on its feet without sacrificing the embracing intensity he’s known for. Limeade and candied pears line the crushed rocks on the fragrant nose, ending with just a hint of lemon danish and peach. 95 points Tim Atkins, 93 points Decanter, 3 6-packs available, $67.98 +tax 

ITALY 

Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2017, Umbria. The Antinori’s flagship white wine is a relatively young enterprise, seeing as the family started winemaking in the 12th century (I think my ancestors had contemporaneously discovered the Pointed Stick). The inaugural 1985 vintage could have been spread on toast to make an open-faced oak sandwich, but the ensuing decades have seen Cervaro evolve into an elegant, layered and powerful expression of warm-climate Chardonnay (with about 8% contribution from the local Grechetto grape). The Saharan 2017 vintage gave a nitro-boost to the wine’s weight and intensity, but the balanced élèvage (a portion spends 6 months in French oak, the rest in stainless) turned out a Chardonnay with a foot on two continents: the nose swims with the rich apples, pralines, stones and vanilla of Sonoma while the body holds that essential tension and agility of modern Beaune. This 2017 commands your attention so thoroughly, you might not even look at your phone for a couple minutes. 99 points James Suckling, 3 6-packs available, $79.98 +tax 

Gaja Rossj-Bass Chardonnay 2018, Langhe. Since Angelo Gaja is one of the fathers of modern Piedmont and Rossana (Rossj for short) is his daughter, I guess Rossj is… modern Piedmont? Figuring that out might take some time and a couple glasses of this luminous Chardonnay, grown in lower-lying (Bass) vineyards in Barbaresco and Barolo. Melon and white flowers bathed in honey – it’s quite a lovely, sweet nose – flow into a surprisingly structured frame and an almost Sancerre-ish, bracing finish. Not sure if this wine has made it into BC before, this is the first time I’ve seen it. Not yet rated. 2 6-packs available, $128.98 +tax 

Cantina Toblino Trentodoc “Antares” Brut Nature 2016, Trentino. From a snappy little organic co-operative in Trentino comes a brilliant shooting star of sparkling Chardonnay and a possible energy source to power cities of the future (diodes not included). From vines grown on the south-facing hills of Valle dei Laghi, the Chardonnay goes through the Traditional Method (can’t call it the Champagne Method because if you do, French spirits will visit as you sleep to turn all your snacks into cigarettes), spending 36 months on the lees after secondary fermentation. Full disclosure: I’m not always on board with the whole Brut Nature movement (no final “dosage” of sugar before bottling), I find that the more extreme cases are out of balance - just balls of acid that Somms dare each other to drink to see who cries first – but Antares Brut Nature is beautifully balanced and super-fab. Pastry notes are met by lemon meringue and river stones, gorgeous citrus and savoury saline mouthfeel, the finish is energetically zippy and zingy with persistent bubbles. Not often available outside of Italy, Antares is only rated locally: 4 Stars Vinibuoni d’Italia, 2 6-packs available, $55.98 +tax 

USA 

Hartford Court Chardonnay 2018, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. I hope Don Hartford doesn’t travel with armed guards ‘cause if I met him I’d just hug him without saying hello first. Giving Don good vibes would be reciprocal: for nearly 3 decades his wines have quietly showcased Sonoma’s generous, positive disposition without falling into lushness or simplicity – these are real, classic wines with great structure and length, they just have various fruits and spices falling out of their pockets and they feel that you should have some too. If ever a wine could be called “optimistic” this entry-level (!) Russian River Chardonnay would be a prime candidate, exuding honeysuckle, brioche, cream, apple, peach and pepper notes before unfolding into a rich, full texture-fest, lifting up at the end with a touch of grapefruit. Great minerality on all levels, too. The premium buyers in this company periodically get together to blind taste wines; this one blew us away and we valued it at twice the price (this new price has actually come down from near $60). #44 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 94 points Wine Enthusiast, 6 cases available, $46.98 +tax 

WALT Chardonnay 2018, Sonoma Coast. Decadence liquified. This is the perfectly normal thing that happens when a pear and a vanilla milkshake love each other very much. Made by Napa’s Kathryn Hall from the Bob’s Ranch and Sangiacomo vineyards, the opulent nose – no need to compare apples to oranges ‘cause this has both – leads into a medium-bodied palate that shines a bit brighter than the nose suggests, just enough to boost the length of the creamy, pear-laced finish. Quite beautiful, in a confected, naughty way, and underrated in my opinion. 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 2 cases available, $61.98 

Arnot-Roberts Trout Gulch Vineyard Chardonnay 2017, Santa Cruz Mountains. The Simon and Garfunkel of single-vineyard California Négoce wines have outdone themselves with this cabin-in-the-woods style Chardonnay that I’d never blindly identify (blindentify?) as Californian. The Trout Gulch vineyard lies in the heavily forested southern Santa Cruz mountains, the whole area looks like the Slocan valley or western Kootenays, and if you’re thinking “I’ve never seen any wines from Castlegar”, bingo. The site is at the edge of the ripening window, sitting 4 miles from the ocean at 600ft and regularly beset by fog; climate change has made recent vintages more reliable than when Bernard Turgeon planted the vineyard in 1980, but there’s perennially a chance you won’t get a usable harvest. The years the vineyard gives you, however, are racing powder kegs of energy and density, like a Chablis that cloned itself and then ate that clone. Citrus and flowers rule the roost, with a robust, saline mid-palate and long, chalky finish. Refreshing now but I’d like to check back in 5 years to see what happens. 95 points Vinous, 2 6-packs available, $99.98 +tax 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Nicolas Catena Zapata “White Stones” Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 98 points James Suckling, 1 3-pack available, $133.98 +tax 

Nicolas Catena Zapata “White Bones” Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 99 points James Suckling, 2 3-packs available, $156.98 +tax 

Shaw + Smith “M3” Chardonnay 2019, Adelaide Hills, Australia. 96 points Decanter, 96 points James Suckling, 12 bottles available, $56.98 

Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2014, Santa Cruz Mountains, California. 95 points Decanter, 8 bottles available, $95.98 +tax 

Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2015, Burgundy, France. 6 bottles available, $192.98 +tax 

Olivier Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2016, Burgundy, France. 6 bottles available, $192.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!

Small Batch Series: Rhone Valley

Today I’ve got an assortment of wines from France’s Rhône valley, mostly in super small quantities. They’ll be sold on a first-come-first-served basis, unless two collectors ask for the same wines at the same time, in which case the wines will be awarded based on competitive displays of strength. In the unlikely event that those two collectors deadlift the exact same weight, the matter will be resolved in an adjudicated exhibition of interpretive dance. Should the judges reach an unlikely impasse because the scores for each performance are equal, the wines will be awarded to the winner of a game of Mario Kart – made more difficult because we’ll be using the 150cc mode, and the screens will be upside down. 

Or you could just buy them the fastest. We begin: 

NORTHERN RHÔNE 

René Rostaing La Viaillère 2016, Côte Rôtie AOC. From a lieu-dit to the north of the appellation comes this herbaceously floral, objectively pretty Syrah (100%) from 100+-year-old vines, approachable and balanced, despite the firm tannins. I use “René” Rostaing so everyone knows which house I’m talking about, but in truth the winemaking duties have passed to René’s son Pierre, who carries on his father’s practices of older barrel use (only 10% new oak at any time), whole-cluster pressing and (along with Jamet) traditional, long fermentations. René inherited the La Viaillère plot from his famous father-in-law Albert Dervieux, and this 2016 drinks like a tea party: bright red fruits, lavender and jasmine notes over a firm, full core. Hella concentrated, these ancient vines produce few grapes and the production is miniscule. 96 points Vinous, 94 points Robert Parker, 5 bottles available, $169.98 +tax 

Pierre Gaillard “Rose Pourpre” 2017, Côte Rôtie AOC. I’ve never tasted a Rôtie quite like this deep, savoury beast – it’s like espresso beans staged some performance art with a herb tapenade then set themselves on fire. Much longer a farmer than winemaker, Pierre helped plant the vines for Guigal La Turque vineyard back in the day, but he pretty much spends all his time now in the granite/schist-y Cote Rozier lieu-dit (adjacent to La Landonne, surrounds it, in fact), where he makes contemporarily dynamic Syrah like this top cuvée called Rose Pourpre, an assemblage of the vintage’s best barrels. Holy schist, this is a big wine, living up to the ‘rôtie’ (roasted) moniker with its south-facing slopes and toasty barrels. Good to go but dense enough to bunker for a decade. I was only allocated one 6-pack of this. 94 points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $172.98 +tax 

Domaine Barge Côte Brune 2016, Côte Rôtie AOC. 3rd generation Julien Barge now runs the show at the domaine that his grandfather started in 1929 (although Barges had been farming that hill for others since 1860). His father was the first resident of Ampuis (the oft-overlooked village at the foot of the hill) to go to winemaking school and his grandfather was the first to bottle Côte Rôtie on-site (as opposed to selling the fruit down the river to be bottled by Négocients). Arguably in the zone now, soft espresso notes lift the bright red fruits above the present cedar and molasses aromas, with white pepper rounding off the medium-full body. By dint of concentration this’ll bunker like a hermit, but those who cannot wait shall not be punished. 96 points Wine Spectator, 95 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $184.98 +tax 

Domaine Jamet Syrah 2018, Vin de Pays Collines Rhodaniennes IGP. Fill your house with this and ye shall never be lonely. I keep telling people that there’s no “hack” to northern Rhône wines, you get what you pay for, no shortcuts – well, this wine handily undermines that statement. Using high-planted young Syrah vines from the outskirts of Côte Rôtie and Condrieu, Jean-Paul, Corinne and Loic Jamet have managed to bottle the basic soul of the valley without the structure of the more totemistic cellaring wines. White pepper and gravel notes surround the crushed blueberry and cranberry vibes, the tannins support but don’t poke out, and this is an immensely drinkable affair. A great movie trailer for how the sun-kissed 2018 vintage will treat the northern Rhône’s appellation wines. This is all I’ll get for this year, so don’t be bashful. 92 points Robert Parker, 6 6-packs available, $42.98 +tax 

Xavier Gerard Côte Châtillon 2018, Condrieu AOC. The Official Viognier of the Pleasure Dome, produced by young Xavier Gerard, who inherited his family’s holdings around Condrieu that used to supply Jaboulet. His best vineyard is this Côte Chatillon, perched mid-slope overlooking the village, and 2018 blessed this site with the Awesome Wand® – the wine is bursting with buttery pear, jasmine and spicy notes, with the body showing the extra heft that a year in old barrels can add. This Condrieu doesn’t have to try to be a sexy beast, it just has to roll out of bed. No ratings found as of yet. 6 bottles available, $80.98 +tax 

 

SOUTHERN RHÔNE 

Rotem & Mounir Saouma “Omnia” 2017, Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. Sourced from all 5 of the AOC’s communes (Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Courthezon, Sorgues, Bedarrides and Orange) and produced by the husband-and-wife team behind Burgundy wunderkind Lucien le Moine, this “Omina” (Latin for “all”) shows respect for tradition by walking around it and not bothering it at all. Unapologetically contemporary, powerful and precise, this (mostly) Grenache is entirely whole-cluster pressed before spending 2+ years in anything that holds wine: big barrels, wee ones and cement. What we get is modern fruit over classic structure, showing the softer, elegant cherry notes from the whole-bunch method before sucker-punching with weight and wood tannin – I’d like to see a couple more years on this to allow both camps to negotiate a peace treaty. Fantastic wine, vanguard CdP, it likely won’t remain at this price. 96 points Vinous, 12 bottles available, $123.98 +tax 

Domaine des Sénéchaux 2016, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016 AOC. Now owned by the Cazes family from Bordeaux’s Lynch-Bages, this 70-year-old house in the Bois Sénéchaux lieu-dit (translates to “Sheriff’s Wood”) follows the more classic CdP composition (47% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 19% Mourvèdre with help from those rounding-error grapes like Vaccarèse) but with modern fruit extraction. The Grenache is aged in traditional foudres but the other grapes spend time in the year-old barriques from Lynch-Bages. While this kind of time-jumping can be meh in off-years, it really comes together in stellar vintages like 2016: space-age cherry cola and lavender mingle with medieval garrigue and kirsch elements, the medium-full body has great energy and posture, it drinks tastily now but has 10 years in the tank if you wish. 95 points Jeb Dunnuck, 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $61.98 +tax 

Domaine Santa Duc Les Saintes Vierges 2015, Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. One of the most eyebrow-raising things about the Chateauneufs from Santa Duc is that the winemaker isn’t from there: Yves Gras cut his teeth in his hometown of Gigondas (other side of the valley), but his CdPs drink like a local made them, not like a “yep-we-got-one-of-those-too” Chateauneuf from a larger Rhône Négocient. Sourced from the Saintes Vierges lieu-dit on the eastern extreme of the AOC (adjacent to La Crau) on a plot Yves owns and runs, then aged in foudres and terracotta, this 2015 features a duet of raspberry and blackberry over a core of ripe plums and opulent licorice, the structure supports but doesn’t poke out, and we are already pretty much in balance. Grenache, Mourvedre and Counoise – no Syrah. 95 points Robert Parker, 2 wooden 6-packs available, $84.98 +tax 

Chateau de la Font du Loup “Le Puy Rolland” 2018, Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. 100% Grenache. Named after the lieu-dit just south of Saintes Vierges where the estate is situated, Font du Loup (named after the natural springs that wolves used to drink from) owns a small vineyard planted in 1905 exclusively on north-facing sand called Puy Rolland. Given the aspect and the difficult soil, the Grenache ripens more slowly and is harvested a clear 2 weeks after all surrounding estates, but unlike their more oxidative neighbour Henri Bonneau (who trains Grenache to kill), Puy Rolland is a study in elegance. With the help of Philippe Cambie (one half of Halos de Jupiter), Anne Charlotte Melia-Bachas weds the increased phenolic ripeness to a Burgundian, delicate frame, showing boysenberry, lavender, anise and chocolate cherries over fine tannins and a round footprint. This is unique stuff, a new experience even if CdP is old hat for you. 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $87.98 +tax 

Lou Coucardié 2010, Costières de Nîmes AOC. A powerhouse in its prime, I had this vintage brought in again just for me. Made by Michel Gassier (the other half of Halos de Jupiter), this is an inverted CdP blend (60% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache and 10% Syrah) from the southernmost Rhone region, but since these vineyards are near the north of the Costières de Nîmes appellation (just behind Tavel), the large stones (“Gallets”) and iron-rich clay resemble Chateauneuf soils pretty closely, just in a hotter setting. The extra heat units can squeeze a bit more ripeness out of the monster they call Mourvèdre, but this is still a bruiser: heavy plum and blackberry notes throw burning coffee beans at each other before getting swallowed by a lake of dark chocolate – in fact, everything about this is so dark it’s surprising that The Cure didn’t sing about it. The several years in bottle have sanded the edges nicely, but it will always have edges, the beast sheds not his spikes. 94 points Robert Parker, 3 wooden 6-packs available, $57.98 +tax 

 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Le Colombier Vieille Vignes 2015, Vacqueyras AOC. 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $40.98 +tax 

Ferraton Patou 2013, Cornas AOC. 94 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $69.98 +tax 

  1. Guigal La Landonne 2014 Cote Rotie AOC. 99 points Jeb Dunnuck, 98 points Robert Parker, 3 bottles available, $499.99 +tax 

Tardieu-Laurent 2017 Côte Rôtie AOC. 96 points Wine Spectator, 6 bottles available, $118.98 +tax 

Saint Cosme 2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC. 96 points Robert Parker, 10 bottles available, $80.98 +tax 

Ferraton Les Dionnieres 2012 Hermitage AOC. 94 points Wine Spectator, 10 bottles available, $121.98 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

The Quaran-Vine Papers #3: Shooting Blancs - French Whites in Small Batches

As the weather gets warmer and we continue to find ourselves with time on our hands, I thought I’d shoot out some suggestions for some amazing French white wines to enjoy on your patio, with, of course, some contemporary precautions:

FROM THE LEGAL DEPARTMENT – April 16th, 2020. Wine Product may be consumed in outdoor areas if consumers adhere to the following restrictions:

1a. All consumers of Wine Product must stay 2m apart from each other on patio.

1b. Patio must be 2m apart from neighboring patio.

1c. If two neighboring patios are occupied, eye contact between patios is forbidden.

1d. If accidental eye contact between neighboring patios does occur, eyes must be washed for 20 seconds before returning to patio.

Well, now that we’re safe, let’s get to the yums:

PRODUCER SPOTLIGHTS

Domaine Marius Delarche, Burgundy. Simply put, this is some of the best Burgundian value I have seen in a few years, from a tiny producer who should change their name to When Mice Roar. When Etienne Delarche took over after his father passed in 2007, there was every reason to expect that he would continue his family’s tradition of making passable, agreeable wines from the vineyards they’d owned for generations on and around the hill of Corton. Having apprenticed in a series of forward-thinking Burgundy houses, he set about reducing the oak treatment and the yields and stunned the region with pure, focused Chardonnays that shed new light on the unassuming hamlet of Pernand Vergelesses (or as I call it: Shadow Corton). Etienne now plays with the big boys but charges the kiddie rate: Delarche hasn’t increased their prices since 2010, putting them starkly in contrast with… France. I have 2 wines by Etienne:

Domaine Marius Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses AOC Les Boutières 2017. From vineyards literally around the corner (other side of the hill) from Corton-Charlemagne (that’s why I call it Shadow Corton, clever Jordan!). Wet stones and spicy apples with zing and tenacity, finishes with lemon zest and a drum fill. Truly amazing value, you will want more than you buy. 4 6-packs available, $52.98 +tax

Domaine Marius Delarche Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru AOC 2017. A creamy whopper of a Corton-Charlie, full, rich, loud and solid, like a lemon-cream-pie with rocks in it. Delicious now, delicious in the future second term of President Joe Exotic. I don’t mean to blow the “value” horn too much but just look at this pricing compared to anything else from this Grand Cru and you’ll see why I’m so stoked on this house. 2017 not yet rated, previous 2 vintages scored 94 with Wine Spectator. 1 6-pack left (this horse is partially out of the barn) $161.98 +tax

 

Nicolas Joly, Loire. The Godfather of Biodynamic viticulture. This dude’s book has almost too many chapters in it: born in France, educated in New York and a former investment banker at J.P. Morgan, Joly returned to his family’s estate in the Loire Valley after reading a book of biodynamic viticulture, and he became a pioneer of organic winemaking in France during a time when pesticides and herbicides were liberally used as seasonings. He effectively put the small appellation of Savennières on the map, working exclusively with Chenin Blanc and elevating both grape and region to a level where one of his crus, Coulée de Serrant, was awarded its own appellation, becoming a monopole (entire AOC under one proprietor) and joining the tiny club of Romanée-Conti and Chateau-Grillet. (In contrast, I just learned how to work our Moneris machine, huzzah!). I have 2 Chenin Blancs by Mr. Joly:

Nicolas Joly Coulée de Serrant Savennières-Coulée-de-Serrant AOC 2016. If you wash your hands long enough to speak this wine’s whole name, you should be fine. Like Corton and Vougeot, this hallowed land has been under vine since monks first planted it in 1130. Harvested in 5 different passes and fermented with indigenous yeasts, aged in old oak, showing crushed rocks and grapefruit over dried white flowers and mild green herbs. Probably 5 years out from Prime Yum, age it like a dry Riesling. Not yet rated, 12 bottles available, $135.99 +tax

Nicolas Joly Les Vieux Clos, Savennières AOC 2016. The estates youngest vines (20 years, ancient in BC context) are in this east-facing vineyard of schist and quartz, severely harvested so that only the ripest berries get used. This is Joly’s earliest drinking wine, golden and rich with flinty lemon and lemongrass and a faint saline note. 12 bottles available, $79.99 +tax

 

OTHER YUMS

Domaine aux Moines Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines AOC 1999, Loire Valley. Mother-and-Daughter team Monique and Tessa Laroche run this absolutely crackerjack, under-the-radar biodynamic neighbour to Joly, next door to Coulée de Serrant. This organic Chenin is aged to perfection, still showing dried pear and honey over tertiary notes of menthol and pineapple. Medium bodied, firm with a persistent finish. Still has the acidity to go another decade, but you’re in quarantine now, so… 12 bottles available, $59.98 +tax

Gerard Duplessis Chablis 1er Cru Montmains AOC 2017, Chablis, Burgundy. Gerard’s son Lilian now runs this organic, classic Chablis estate in the heart of the appellation, and the Montmains cru (means “medium mountain” because it’s on a medium mountain) is his favourite. Flint and smoke surround the citrus notes, it takes a bit to coax the snail out of the shell, here, so decant and re-chill would be my M.O. or a 3-years nap would work as well. So many hazards befell Chablis in 2017 – hail and frost above all – that it’s wondrous we got anything, and accordingly the quantities are tiny. I have one 6-pack. $69.98 +tax

Domaine Oratoire St Martin Cairanne Blanc AOC “Haut-Coustias” 2017, Cairanne, Rhône Valley. Continues to be one of the best values in White Rhône, but the world is slowly catching on. Clairette-led with Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne doing dishes, this is an opulent, rich white, made by the Alary brothers from 90-year-old vines on the geologically unique hill of Haut-Coustias, which like the village of Cairanne is largely planted to red wines. Intense tropical fruits and a massive body are all tied up in a zing on the luxurious finish. 94 points Robert Parker, 12 bottles available, $52.98 +tax

Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc AOC 2017, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley. It seems like a lifetime ago but we had Victor Coulon from Beaurenard here for a Collectors Tasting in late February (omg time is folding on itself) and this was one of the hits, a rare white CDP that uses an unusually large (25%) portion of the ancient grape Bourboulenc in the blend. White flowers, almond and apricot control the nose, and although quite crisp, it drinks like silk. This wine will give you the hugs your friends cannot. 12 bottles available, $77.98 +tax

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Drinking!

Staff Favourites - Castelnau Champagne

No matter your level of wine knowledge, everyone knows Champagne… the time you popped a cork and it flew all the way across the patio, or when you raised a glass to a friend’s engagement or toasted to the New Year. Champagne has a way, it seems, of appearing at some of life’s best moments. For our Abbotsford store manager, Melanie Scott, there’s a Champagne that sparkles a little brighter than all the rest.

“I love my champagnes.” Melanie puts it simply, “my favourite is Castelnau; it’s toasty with a hint of almonds, peaches, and green apples. The lush, creamy bubbles make it a beautiful wine.” she’s swooning over the Castelnau Brut Reserve from Reims, the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine growing region and well, the world. “The first time I tried Castelnau was back in 2017 at our staff educational event that our Buying team organized. I immediately fell in love with it,” she recalls “it was love at first sip!”

Wine Enthusiast declared Castelnau’s signature Brut Reserve “Mature-tasting with a fine toasty element in the background. Ripe and full with a creamy texture and warming aftertaste.” and awarded it with 90 points. Perfect as an aperitif, Melanie opts to enjoy her bubbles with “something simple like garlic cheese toast or plain Miss Vickie’s chips. My focus is the Champagne.” she adds.

The house of Castelnau, whose vines now stretch across 900 hectares, dates back over 100 years when a group of imaginative winemakers set out to launch a Champagne brand in honour of a French World War One veteran by the name of Castelnau. Decades later, the signature Brut Reserve is produced with a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes which are combined to create a balanced and complex wine that has “the spirit of a vintage Champagne in the body of a more youthful wine.” Extended ageing of 6 years in cellar further enhances the character of this Champagne.

 “Other Champagnes may have a little more fruit and bigger bubbles,” Melanie notes “but this one is dry and bready with hints of fruit… toasty and delicious.” We invite you to raise a glass of Castelnau to life’s exciting milestones and to the little moments too.

1 2 >