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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

Get to know the grape: Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc: The “Velvet Glove, Iron Fist” Grape  

I’m a Cabernet Sauvignon drinker. But every now and again, I find myself a bit bored and wanting to venture off the beaten path and try something new or different.  If this describes you, then join me on a little excursion into Cabernet Franc.

A Bit of wine history…

Cabernet Franc is genetically the parent grape of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is slightly lighter in style than Cabernet Sauvignon but often higher in acidity, making it an ideal red wine for the end of summer because you can serve it slightly chilled.  Wine historians believe it to have originated in the border region between France and Spain, meaning that it has the potential for wide appeal to both Rioja lovers and Bordeaux imbibers.

A Bit of Wine science…

Part of the appeal of this grape variety is that it but buds slightly earlier than other big reds, which is great for a growing region like B.C. since we need all of the ripening time we can get for our red wines!  The grape also contains a unique pyrazine compound which makes it resistant to pests, which is why it grows in such a wide range of climates. It is slightly more pigmented as well as more perfumed than Cab Sauv which is probably why global wine critic and author Jancis Robinson says that “Cabernet Franc is the ‘feminine' side of Cabernet Sauvignon.” (https://www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/grape-varieties/red/cabernet-franc)    

Some Wines to Look For…

If you look carefully at your blended wine labels, you will often see some Cabernet Franc in the mix since it is one of the most widely planted varieties globally.  Because it has good structure, it is used as a blending grape in many of the right bank Bordeaux wines from France (look for labels from Pomerol or St. Emilion). There are also excellent examples coming out of South Africa (for example, Raats Winery in Stellenbosch makes a Cab Franc that exhibits the perfect trifecta of fruit, spice and herbaceousness) and Argentina’s La Mascota winery has a Cab Franc with subtle violet notes and sweet spices like cloves and black pepper (Shiraz drinkers take note).   

BC producers are exploring Cabernet Franc in exciting ways as it is the 6th most planted grape in the province as of 2019 (www.winebc.com acreage report, May 27, 2021).  In cooler sites, it produces more tart wines but in warmer vineyards, it produces wines with a kind of strawberry, dried fruit flavour reminiscent of Tuscan wines.  BC consumers are reaping the benefits of Cab Franc’s vinicultural vigour with widely available wines by producers like Adega, Black Sage Vineyards and Bartier Bros. all being excellent entry-points to explore what might be a new grape to you.  Some premium BC offerings include Synchromesh Wine’s Turtle Rock Farms Cab Franc or Painted Rock vineyards whose 2018 Cab Franc has aromas of black cherry and tobacco on the nose while on the palate, there is a bright, racy acidity that keeps pace with the ripe plum, cedar, and liquorice flavours – this is a perfect charcuterie board wine!

Raats Winemaker Gavin Bruwer likes to use the analogy ‘iron fist, velvet glove’ for Cabernet Franc, meaning there’s power on the palate, followed by an elegance and silkiness thanks to the tannin structure.” (https://raats.co.za/frankly-speaking/).  So if you are looking for a wine that has the heft and power of some of the bolder reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, but also the delicacy and lighter-touch of some of the softer reds like Pinot Noir, you may want to explore Cabernet Franc. I think you’ll find it both elegant and strong.

My Wine Journey

I started to have an interest in wine while I was working for the travel industry in Japan. I’ve been in love with Canada since I first visited this country as an English school student. I kept coming back, getting to know more and more about this beautiful country. The more I learned, the more I craved to learn more. I did not really know Canadian wine other than ice wine then. It was a long time ago, so maybe you understand Canadian wine is nothing more than ice wine back in the day.  

I enjoy drinking good wine, like everybody does. I was lucky enough to have had many opportunities to try great wines on some tours of Canada that I was on, but still I did not know what a great wine was truly back then. 

One day I had a chance to see all the beautiful scenery in BC at a destination seminar and learned about Osoyoos. I was familiar with the name Osoyoos since my favourite English teacher kept telling us how beautiful it was. The presentation was talking mainly about Nk'Mip creek. I was so attracted by the beauty of the winery and golf course at the resort that I made a mental note and put it on my bucket list to go there one day. (spoiler alert! Not yet happened!) I started to study Canadian wines more, but it was still from the Tourism industry point of view, not the wine industry one. 

Around that time, I found a (one and only) Canadian Wine only store in Japan. I don’t even remember how I found it. I visited there and asked questions and begged to stay at their store to learn more. The owner was really nice and let me stay and she taught me about wines and told me about WSET. I was like, “whaaaaaaat!?” You mean I don’t have to be a sommelier to learn all about wine!?

So, I started WSET in Japan. There were only two options in Japan for me location wise back then. It was a 3-month course and I passed Level 2 and started Level 3 when I knew I could not finish it because I decided to move to Canada, but I did not want to waste what I had already completed. I wanted to keep it going.

After I moved to Canada as a business school student, I did not have money to spend on the WSET course but was dreaming of one day getting a wine related job. So, I kept drinking wine, but it was so hard to keep up my wine knowledge. I needed to study again to get back a little confidence after I started to work at the store, Everything Wine, but here I am. With great support from the managers (seriously!) at my store, I work as a BC wine buyer and am having a blast! I get to learn about and try lots of BC wines! I get to talk about them and know how they are all connected economically, environmentally, and even politically. Through everybody’s incredible efforts in the BC wine industry, it is growing a lot. There’re many more wineries compared to even just a few years back. I’m enjoying learning many aspects of this beautiful province and the fantastic wines produced here.

My favourite BC wine is Desert Hills Gamay

Planet Pinot II

A few amazing Pinots have crossed my path of late from all points on the compass, some for drinking, some for burying, we begin: 

AUSTRALIA 

By Farr Farrside Pinot Noir 2015, Moorabool Valley, Victoria. Proof that colour intensity is not an indication of power, this unassuming, transparent Pinot from just south of Melbourne can repel bullets whilst smelling like a corsage. Taking over from his dad Gary Farr, son Nick Farr (Winemaker of the Year 2020, Gourmet Traveller) worked at Au Bon Climat, Cristom and Dujac before taking the reins back home, and the south facing (north for normal people) Farrside vineyard allows him the kind of late-harvest hang-time he experienced abroad, giving full phenolic ripeness without all the extra booze (pretty rare down under). Handsomely structured, this 2015 shows predominant violets over black cherries, soil and gravel, with a beautiful, red-fruited lift on the firm finish. Delicious now, this Pinot has the legs to cellar 5+ further years, although I’ve never let one live long enough to observe what it tuns into because me thirsty and it yummy. 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points James Suckling, 18 bottles available, $94.98 +tax 

FRANCE 

Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 1er Cru Morgeot 2018, Burgundy. A rare Pinot from Chassagne, although historically this village grew much more Pinot than Chardonnay, replanting only last century when the whites from the adjacent Montrachet Grand Crus started commanding bonkers prices. The Pinot that remains – like this gorgeous 2018 from Ramonet – trends more supple and savoury, and less aggressively structured than the limestone-rooted Pinots from the Côtes de Nuits further north. The warmer 2018 vintage gives us lots of blue and red fruits to balance the flowers and herbs, with a hint of blood orange lurking beneath, and the medium-full body coasts lithely until the tight finish closes the store. Needs time, but not as much as the 2017. Ready in 3 years, singing in 5. Not yet rated, 6 bottles available, $145.98 +tax 

GERMANY 

Rudolf Fürst Spatburgunder Centgrafenberg GG 2018, Franken. Perhaps in an effort to dispel the stereotypes of stern Germans barking instructions at you, the German Pinots I’ve presented here thus far (from Rheinhessen and Ahr, largely) have been gentle, generous beasts that could easily be mistaken for bearded, surfing Russian River Pinots. Not today, Fraulein. Not only does Herr Fürst shout orders at you, he does it with leather and chains on, showing no trace of empathy behind the rigid structure, but the hard truth is that if you show patience and, yes, follow the orders, life is better. The red berries will emerge with grace and power. The frame that currently has a stepdad-turned-down-for-a-bank-loan vibe will soften and integrate, and this stoic Pinot from one of Franken’s top Grand Crus will sing like a mature Vougeot. A statuesque wine, a true future cellar star. 96 points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $153.98 +tax 

NEW ZEALAND 

Rippon Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2017, Lake Wanaka, Central Otago. Sourced from the oldest plots of the postcard-from-Asgard picturesque Rippon Vineyard, this is the cuvee that winemaker Nick Mills calls the “voice of the vineyard”. If that’s the case, this voice is both irresistibly seductive and singing in an alien tongue, because it’s going to take a little time to understand it. The cooler 2017 vintage dialed up the jasmine, rose and sage notes but dialed down the fruit beneath a stony, schist-influenced minerality; when the fruit wakes back up in a couple years the bouquet will be simply stunning. A silky, understated palate and medium body precede a peppery finish – this is probably the best vintage so far – if this were Burgundy it’d have the same cellaring window but cost 4 times as much. 99 points James Suckling, 2 cases available, $78.98 +tax 

SOUTH AFRICA 

Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2020, Hemel-en Aarde Valley, Walker Bay. Although widely known for Chardonnay, Hamilton Russell’s Pinot is an understated, elegant affair with both feet planted firmly in Burgundy. Although more austere than the Chard, there is abundant fresh red fruit everywhere you look – in fact “fresh” is the operating principle here, lifting everything up from front to back. A fairly rich palate flows into a mineral, saline finish with a baking spice and a fair grip: unlike the accessible Chard, the Pinot needs a nap to fully develop, but 2 years should integrate the back end nicely. More Burgundian that the Ramonet Chassagne. Not yet rated, 3 6-packs available, $81.98 

USA 

Lingua Franca AVNI Pinot Noir 2016, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Although it boasts the lowest price on the towering Lingua Franca totem, it’s misleading to call AVNI an “entry-level” offering. Meaning “mother earth”, AVNI is a geologically based bottling of only hillside, volcanic soil fruit, both from the Lingua Franca estate and their neighbor. David Honig, Larry Stone MW and Burgundy’s Dominique Lafond continue to cement Lingua Franca’s position as Essential Oregon, and I was lucky to pick up a few cases of this slightly older vintage: lovely blueberries and plums laced with cinnamon, a silky, medium body, and a citrus-infused finish that is only now coming into balance. This is singing now, guys, grab it while you can ‘cuz we won’t see this vintage again. 4 cases available, $68.98 +tax 

Bergstrom “Cumberland Reserve” Pinot Noir 2018, Willamette Valley, Oregon. In the rush to express Willamette terroir, the “House Style” blend of crus is becoming a rare animal in Oregon, but the Bergstrom family’s “Cumberland” cuvée (named after the street they grew up on) remains one of the best examples. Ripe and substantial while leaving a light footprint, bright red fruits beam out around spicy blasts of matcha and tobacco, and the good intensity follows from front to back. Drinking now, quite deliciously. 94 points Robert Parker, 94 points Wine Spectator, #37 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 12 bottles available, $83.98 +tax 

Piro Pinot Noir Presqu’ile Vineyard 2017, Santa Maria Valley, California. This guy is going to be huge. Called “one of the most promising young American winemakers” by Vinous, Marc Piro still works at Au Bon Climat and Qupé but began using those connections to buy his own premium fruit from the valley’s best sites, and judging by how quickly it sold out in Vancouver (I think I have the last 3 6-packs of this), the reaction is electric. Marc’s Pinots balance an almost overwhelming amount of fruit weight on the head of a pin: the generous nose and palate, full of roses, forest floor, sage and lavender, lift waaay up on the juicy, rustic finish. Quite a fresh, airborne vibe on the tail end, like Californian opulence on an Oregonian structure, pretty but serious. Don’t take your eyes off this dude. 94 points Wine Enthusiast, 3 6-packs available, $79.98 +tax 

Three Sticks Pinot Noir 2019, Sonoma Coast, California. Pretty easy to craft an amazing Sonoma Pinot when you own a lot of the best vineyards. Bill Price owns Classic Wines LLC, the proprietor of iconic Sonoma terroirs such as Durell, Wilson, Dupont, One Sky and Gap’s Crown (he also owns pieces of Kosta Browne, Buccella and Kistler, but probably just to collect Air Miles), and all of those vineyards contribute to this whizz-bang 2019 cuvée that shows high tones of pink grapefruit and violets atop low tones of dry chocolate and oregano. Light-bodied but high-intensity, fresh and clean. First time in BC. 97 points Decanter, 95 points Wine Spectator, 4 6-packs available, $78.98 +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. 

Au Bon Climat “La Bauge Au-Dessus” Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Barbara, California. 93 points Wine Enthusiast, 18 bottles available, $63.98 +tax 

Hartford Court Land’s Edge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma, California. 96 points Wine Enthusiast, 12 bottles available, $71.98 +tax 

Penner Ash Pinot Noir 2017, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 3 cases available, $59.99 +tax 

WALT “La Brisa” Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast, California. 2 cases available, $64.98 +tax 

Blank Canvas Pinot Noir 2017, Marlborough, New Zealand. 95 points Vinous, 95 points Bob Campbell, $48.98 +tax 

Hermit Ram “Zealandia” Pinot Noir 2019, North Canterbury, New Zealand. 12 bottles available, $46.98 +tax 

Stay tuned for BIG Spanish, Tuscan and Burgundy offerings in the coming weeks!! 

Until next time, Happy Drinking!!  

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva 2018

Mentions of the historic Arceno estate date back to the year 1000 when it was cited as a small independent community located in Siena, Italy. Over the next few decades, the estate passed through ownership of two historically prominent Italian families – the Del Taja family and the Piccolomini family. In the early 1500s, it was the Tajas that expanded the estate, building the first villas on the property. In 1829, the estate was purchased by the illustrious Piccolomins who added to the grandeur of the estate by building gardens, lakes and many of the villas that still stand today. Continuing on the legacy, Tenuta di Arceno was acquired by legendary California winemaker Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke in 1994.

Tenuta di Arceno has a diverse portfolio which centers around the native Sangiovese grape in the Chianti Classico collection.

A word from our Director of Buying, Dave Smith:

"With a rich and storied history, this Tuscan estate is a must try. A very modern and forward style of Chianti with deep concentration and rich, ripe fruit balanced by great structure. I get drawn to this wine every time I taste it. With a couple of hours of decanting, this wine becomes more and more expressive! Pair this with wild boar ragu or osso buco and you won’t be disappointed. Time and time again this wine has been a staff favourite. A great gift wine or treat yourself!"

92 points, James Suckling

Purchase it here.

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