Tag Archives: White Burgundy

Tasting the Terroir of Domaine Auvigue

10 Jun

Domaine Auvigue “Solutre” Pouilly-Fuisse 2014; Burgundy, France. 13%ABV, MSRP $29/bottle.

 

 

Spend a few minutes with Jean-Pierre Auvigue, and he will endear himself to you, without ever trying. He is both direct and charming, and to my delight, he can discuss winemaking and the terroir of Burgundy to the point of exhaustion.

Jean-Pierre is quick to point out that each year, they simply try to make the best wine they can within the realm of the weather. Since they have tremendous terroir and history already, the goals are to represent the growing season with the finest chardonnay they can make. Techniques are largely traditional; all work in the vineyard is done by hand. Very little new oak is used to keep the focus on the fruit; but to me, the balance is what shines.

 

Jean-Pierre Auvigue with his 2005 Solutre Pouilly-Fuisse

 

Tasting a mini-vertical of the three most recent vintages (’12-’14) and the 2005 Auvigue Solutre Pouilly-Fuisse , I was thrilled to taste the subtle similarities and differences and hear how many varying preferences people had to their own personal favorite from these areas that boast vines that rage in age from 50-85 years of age. Most importantly, they are all delightful and offer tremendous value in white Burgundy wines.

2014/Current Release: Color is a clear, medium straw. The nose offers a delicate citrus scent with a hint of sodium. On the palate, a very linear first impression, a smooth  balance of lemon-lime fruit, acidity and minerality: limestone, clay and flint belie the famed AOC.  As it crosses the mid-palate, the flavors expand to include savory sensations without losing the initial character. Flint and quartz notes cross the back palate with the medium finish, which is as satisfying was the first sip. A wine that starts with drive and delivers complexity, terroir, and a tremendous definition of the Chardonnay grape.

 

 

 

Not to be ignored, another AOC was represented:

Domaine Auvigue Le Moulin du Pont Saint-Véran 2014; Burgundy, France. 13% ABV, MSR $20/bottle.

Color is pale straw with green tinge. The nose offers lime zest and a hint of cut grass and vegetation. On the palate young white pear, starfruit, and orange peel dominate while the top and back palate reveals notes of cedar, gravel, schist and clay, before the medium-long finish leaves your mouth refreshed. Saint-Veran being a newer AOC, this is a tremendous introduction to white Burgundy and a great every day/any day wine at this price point.

 

 

With either one, you can’t go wrong, whether to add to your cellar to hold, or to drink and chill tonight. 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Chardonnay Trifecta!

22 May

May 21st was National Chardonnay Day! It’s not like we need an excuse to drink chardonnay. Recently, however, my calendar has been full of fun tastings and events (on top of my normally insane life working in entertainment) so my chardonnay intake has been quite low.

And by low I mean simply nonexistent.
Here’s a question for you, dear readers, and I’d like your responses!
Q: Does wanting to drink GOOD chardonnay make me a snob?  

There is so much mediocre chardonnay on the market. I have no problem buying a low-cost wine, mind you- I just want a great tasting chardonnay. In honor of #ChardonnayDay I went to the cellar and picked two wines I have hoarded for a special occasion, one from Sonoma, one from Burgundy. I opened them, and had a small pour from each. 

I sat and looked at the wines. I was trepidatious. These bottles of wine are my special, adored treasures. Once opened, they could no longer be kept. And that could be good or bad- I’ve been experiencing premature oxidation with many white burgundies, enough to cause my heart to race when looking through my cellar at racks I have been patiently waiting for the perfect age to enjoy.

Tangent: When you open a special, pricey bottle that has been either corked or prematurely oxidized, it’s heartbreaking. And it’s happened more often that I’d like to admit. I thought I was the only one, until I saw social media posts about it and then bluntly asked my trusted wine aficionado, blogger The Drunken Cyclist about his mention. It’s kind of like getting athlete’s foot from the gym shower and having your doctor patiently explain WHY other people are wearing those ugly shower shoes.

Apologies for the tangent, we’re not here to talk about athlete’s foot or shower shoes today. Here, these are funny wine flip flops, since I don’t have a cute cat video to share:

retro_wine_bottles_and_glasses_flip_flops-rf23dd62dbf4146aa91a059bc28c6d286_z9cuv_324

 

If you really require a higher level of amusement, watch this (not cat) video demonstrating how to open a wine bottle using a flip flop. This is a method I’d suggest only if you would like to drink your wine only after running it through a blender, which has a similar effect:

Enough of this tangent?

Getting back to the point.

#ChardonnayDay. Looking at two glasses, each one holding a small amount of wine from two of my treasured, cellared bottles for “a special occasion”, much like #OTBN. Well, “No Day But Today”, with apologies to Jonathan Larson.

 

One final whiff of the nose, and finally, to the mouth. Sip. Swirl, sucking in air. Swish, hold. Add air, swish, hold. Swallow. Consider.

 

Heaven. When chardonnay is great, there is no mistaking it. When I was nosing these wines, I wondered what food I should find to pair them with. To be certain, after a sip from each, I no longer cared about any food. Both of these wines were so blissfully stunning, I was blind to anything but the joy represented in the glasses.  Have you ever found yourself holding a glass of wine that shows this trifecta: a perfect specimen of the grape varietal, a growing region’s well-suited terroir, paired with love, care, and obsession in delicate winemaking? I have. Both of these fit the bill.

Meursault Heroine

 

I have to say, I was nervous. Our wine treasures are ever-changing chemical blends. I’ve had both brilliant and horrid experiences with bottles I’ve cellared and treasured. It could be, to quote Eddie Izzard,  “Cake or Death?”

 

Unknown

 

Except with chardonnay.

I know. You’re sophisticated.  You get the point. “Chardonnay or Death.”

 

First world problems.

 

So. Both of these wines… made me feel ecstatic and entirely focused, like a teenager madly in love: for a moment, nothing else mattered: no term papers, no cares about school, my parents, my after-school job. No matter if I had a pimple, high school was frustrating, or I’d come to terms with the sad fact that the lead singer of a band I really liked was in reality a total jerk (truth). Nothing else mattered. THIS. WAS. STUNNING. Just fast-forward thirty (ok, maybe forty?) -plus years to Middle-Age aka Blatant Adulthood. This… this is serious wine. Yeah. Oh, that’s good.

There will be no notes today of these wine, no mention of the pale straw color of the meursault or the green hue of Iconic’s Heroine. I won’t talk about how beautiful the mouthfeel, how like Sonoma the Heroine drinks, or how complex the meursault was. I found the trifecta again! Because like those glasses of wine, it was all in the moment, which was beautiful and fleeting, and now is simply a memory.

Happy #ChardonnayDay!

 

à votre santé!

New and No Longer Too New! Pairing Wines #MWWC21

7 Dec

Though ineligible to win, I feel I owe it to my fellow wine bloggers to participate in what might be a challenging wine blogging topic that I chose for this month’s theme of #MWWC21: Pairing.

wine-stain1-3

Perhaps you have read my 2015 annual Thanksgiving Wine post and the post-mortem in which I gave myself, and not the wine, letter grades based on popular reaction at the table to the wine choices. Such is the challenge and fun in wine, in trying to please people’s palates. Try as we might, to quote John Lydgate, “you can’t please all the people all the time. ” But I love to spend time figuring out what wines will pair well with which dishes or meal, as the combination of food and wine  provides an opportunity to elevate the experience together to a higher level of enjoyment than one could experience by only food or wine alone. Sometimes, the pairings are good, on rare occasion that can ascend to be exquisite or sublime. Most of the time, the goal is to find a wine that will complement the food beautifully, that the diner will enjoy. Simple, right? Maybe…maybe not! Ready?

Sébastien Dampf Chablis 2014 Grand Vin de Bourgogne. Chablis, Burgundy, France. 12.5% ABV, $23/bottle.

Pale gold in color with a nose of honeysuckle, violet, lemon zest and walnut. In the mouth, the wine is beautifully vibrant showing racing acidity and bright, mouth-watering citrus. Tart lemon-lime is lengthy on the upper and back palate. An obvious absence of wood is apparent, while the finish features an expansive  model of fruit together with the salinity found both in sea air and limestone. Over several meals, I paired this young wine perfectly with both baked chicken and turkey breast. It has plenty of salinity to handle seafood and shellfish, and the bright acidity leaves the palate clean and refreshed after I enjoyed some milder, creamy cheeses like gouda, edam, chèvre, brie and camembert. Compares well to wines at double the price, I will be on the lookout for more wines from this producer and am sorry I didn’t buy more.

Dampf

 

Barton & Guestier Saint-Emilion “Gold Label” 2010 Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%ABV, $20/bottle. 

Pale maroon in color with a nose of sour cherries, wet grass and vegetation. On the palate, dark plum and red raspberry are featured with lesser notes of bell pepper and tobacco. Medium in body with complementing tannins; notes of cedar, young oak, forest floor, and chalky clay on the medium long finish. I first opened a bottle of this wine in spring of 2013 and the only note I took was “chewy & green: too young”, but recently I came across this vintage again and decided that now, at the end of 2015 I might try another bottle. Luckily, I  found better results: maturity! Some chewiness still remains, but this wine is very approachable now, pairing nicely with rich, savory dark meat fowl such as duck and goose, grilled lamb and beef, and full-bodied cheeses. A blend of 75% Merlot with remaining in Cabernet Franc that sustained well over several days of tasting, improving with air slowly. The most fun I had with this wine was when trying a spicy recipe for Buffalo-Sauce laced Brussel Sprouts and Buffalo Chicken, a dish with a ton of flavor and spice that demanded something equally powerful. This bottle was open, and it was able to meet the task, in spite of the fact that I probably would have chosen a pure cabernet sauvignon as a foil to the dish. One of the joys of wine tasting is having a bunch of open bottles, so you can taste several wines with a dish and see how well they fare… or don’t!

B&G StEm

 

à votre santé!

Dubois Grand Réserve Chardonnay 2013

14 May

Joséph Dubois Grande Réserve Chardonnay Bourgogne 2013. $12/bottle, 12.5% ABV.

Medium straw in color; a delicately floral nose shows hints of bosc pear and white peach. In the mouth, gentle citrus and more savory, fleshy pear are well matched with bright, lasting acidity. As the wine warms, the focus of the finish shifts from the tongue and mid-palate to top and rear palate, adding notes of citrus, limestone, and toast to the finish. 

This bottle shows off some small level of pedigree, lauding both terroir and winemaking while appealing to most white wine drinkers in being a value-driven introduction to white burgundy, and a decent choice for those who strive for the low-cost bottles. This wine is pleasant to drink alone and purrs when paired well with food. In warm weather, it’s important to remember to remove from fridge 20 minutes before serving to allow the wine to warm and show some flavor expansion. When served too cold it is subtle and gentle while enjoyable, yet lacking the depth and finesse that shows with proper serving temperature.

Dubois Chardonnay

à votre santé!

Letters from Readers: White Burgundy (The Cocaine of Chardonnay)

9 Apr

A letter from a reader I wanted to share:

Longtime friend and reader CDL wrote me: “Jim vanBergen, are there really any White Burgundy wines? Mirassou used to have one, but not any more.” I sensed the agitation of the dedicated white wine lover immediately. And CDL, I share your pain!

It was accompanied by this WineFolly.com image, that I adore:
white-burgundy-chardonnay-wine-770x578

and the associated link to an article on Wine Folly, with the quote, ““White Burgundy is the crack cocaine of Chardonnay.” How true that statement is.

Admittedly, my reply was pure emotion: “Oh my lord, YES there ARE! Burgundy is full of winemakers churning out amazing stuff… and I know, because I’m drinking it. Now I don’t write a lot of posts about it because it’s not exactly in the under $20 range, and my favorite bottles are pricey. BUT: white burgundy is SO worth drinking! Let me offer you a few resources that I like. And then you should do a little online shopping, because all these great sellers ship.”

First, I provided a link an episode of Eric Asimov‘s Wine School. From the NY Times, ‘ “Unraveling the Mystery of Chablis”. Asimov explains two good reasons why chablis is what he owns and drinks more than any other wine. (You should read the whole article) but his answer is a universal truth: “One, it’s a relatively good value for Burgundy, and two, I love it.” He also suggests three chablis to taste, two in the $20-range, and a premiere cry at only $40.

Second, I included Roger Voss‘s article on White Burgundy Bargains from Wine Enthusiast. Voss lists about 18 under $25 bottles among the lines of Bourgogne Blanc, Chablis, and Mâcconais – four producers I like to buy regularly were included on Voss’ list, along with some producers who were new to me.

Third was classic old guard: Decanter‘s 2008 list of the top ten white burgundies. While the list may be long in the tooth, the producers are consistently rated and prices have only increased, so in my opinion its an excellent resource.

From the UK’s The Telegraph, I included Hamish Anderson‘s piece on Three of the Best White Budgundies (from Mâcon-Villages, St. Aubin, , and Meursault, respectively), just as an example of where to find good value (which is not to be confused with simply a good price).

Before my last link, I noted to Caroline: “When I did a quick search, Astor Wines had 9 white burgundies under $20/bottle. Sherry-Lehman had 17. I’m sure a quick check of 67 Wine, Zachys, and similar stores would yield similar results. And of course, that’s only the under $20/bottle range- they also have the GOOD stuff!”

Finally, I gave up my current favorite producer. Coincidently, the Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague did a nice piece on him, sadly (for us) noting his “genius” in the first sentence of the article entitled, “The New Master of Affordable White Burgundies”. We are referring to, of course, Pierre- Yves Colin of Morey-Blanc.

I’ve shared a tone of tools and resources. Here’s my closing note: I want to drink Montrachet all the time, but thanks to cost, it’s just not going to happen. So sometimes I’ll splurge on an affordable Puligny-Montrachet that’s under $100/bottle, when I can find a dealer who has a couple of bottles I buy them and save them for either a great night with friends or when I’m really hurting for something delightful. In the meantime, there are great value wines from top producers- like Aligoté, or other second and third wines from most of the top players, that sell for a reasonable amount of money and offer more than reasonable enjoyment. And those are the best bet for those who have average wine budgets.

Here’s to white burgundy. How I love her, not as often as I might prefer. If this is my equivalent to cocaine, well, I guess I’m ok with that.

à votre santé!

Saturday Night Cellar

8 Feb

I’m in the middle of a huge sports show, working crazy hours but thankfully at least, sleeping in my own bed. Since this project started, however, I’ve been too busy for wine. Tonight at last I got an opportunity to hit the cellar and look for something to enjoy. I’ve recently been enjoying some vintage Italian red wines, but tonight I saw a white burgundy that I couldn’t resist. Then, because I love dessert, I pulled out a half bottle of 2010 Sauternes I’ve been wanting to taste. Here we go:

Louis Latour Montagny “La Grande Roche” Premiere Cru, 2011. Cote Challonaise, Beaune, France. Sourced locally at $24/bottle, available online around $21. ABV 14%.

Pale straw in color with a nose of apricot, pear, and honey. Smooth in the mouth and very savory, the fruit sits back along with reduced acidity on this rich, round wine. Notes of marzipan, almond paste, chalky limestone and buttery oak. Shows best with food; a basic roast chicken paired beautifully but a spicy sauce with lots of garlic was too much. No regrets in this price range.

Montagny

Château Peillon-Claveries DuBourg Sauternes 2010; $9/375ml Bottle from Empire Liquor in Forest Hills NY; 14% ABV.

I saw this in the local store gave it a shot. Pale gold in color and nose of rich, sweet apricot. In the mouth, delightfully rich and sweet fruit with nice acidity and good structure. I think it’s the first sauternes I’ve had of the 2010 vintage, and I have high hopes for the top producers. Certainly worth the money for a dessert wine, fun, nicely made, well placed and a good bang for the dessert wine buck. I’m quite likely to pick up more.

What’s in your glass tonight?

Peillon-Claveries Dubourg

à votre santé!

 

 

Good, White Burgundy

26 Aug

Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté Meursault, 2011. Cote D’Or, France. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $17/bottle, 11%ABV.

I know. If you love white burgundy… the gentle fruit, the depth, the minerality, the focus… then you already know. Good & cheap white burgundy simply doesn’t exist. I know I constantly search for white burgundies that cost anywhere from $60-$100 for the liquid crack I enjoy with almost everything, but that makes food just sing!

Except that it does exist, really. It’s just not cheap. I just had a case of Pierre Morey 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté arrive at my home for less than two tickets to a Broadway show. Ben over at Crush Wine  knows me well enough to let me know when the great value is in. Just for kicks, as I was enjoying my second, *decadent* and final glass, I clicked over from gloating about this wine on TimeWaster (uh, I mean Facebook) to see what Sherry-Lehman had in white Burgundy under $20. Online, 17 hits from $12-20. Seriously! For 67 Wine, also 17 hits for white Burgundy under $20.

It is out there. But you have to work, just a little. I wouldn’t want to drink all of them, but there are at least three at each store that are very tasty to me. My rarely-purchased-but-lusted-after favorites (that I can afford) cost 4-5 times as much, but this is a delicious wine and I can’t wait to share it with my neighbors.

Pale straw color with a nose of salt sea air, gentle citrus with beautiful acidity makes this roll on your tongue like a summer morning. A luxuriously long finish exists (if you care enough to pay attention and not suck down more of this easy-going elixir) with notes of stone, rhubarb, and lemon/lime zest on the finish. “That’s really good,” said my much better half. Yes, it is. And one bottle costs less than seeing a movie, for crying out loud.

I should really delete this post and buy another case, but I’m out of room in my wine cellar. Sigh… first world problems. I guess it’s time to invite people over for a tasting of some of the 2004 wines, and a bottle of the 2011 Morey Aligoté.

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à votre santé!

(seriously: invite yourself over to my house soon before it’s all gone. You’ve been warned.) 
 
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Desert Island Whites

3 Jul

Is there a red wine you’d drink with breakfast? Perhaps not. But if I were on a desert island and had to choose one wine, I might choose one of these three. They’d certainly be on my list (along with a couple of impossibly expensive choices, including several Montrachets, Cheval Blanc, and one Prüm- most of which I can’t afford) and most importantly, would pair beautifully with island food- fruit, shellfish, seafood, white meat, salad. Right? Easy to enjoy, day or night!

Best of all, these are easy to share with your friends. You’ve already seen the “dark horse” wines I served at a recent neighborhood wine tasting. Now I get to share the three “heavy hitter” wines I served as the culmination to that evening’s selection of white wines. Scroll below the picture for more info:

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Paul Pillot Bourgogne Aligoté  2010. Approx $16.

http://www.domainepaulpillot.com/english.htm

 

DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2011. Approx $50

http://dumol.com/ 

 

Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2012. Approx $65.

http://farniente.com/wines-vineyards/napa-valley-chardonnay/

I’m not providing my personal tasting notes for these wines because in writing them, I quickly got sidetracked with my personal relationship with each wine. Away they went!  So instead, I’ll explain why they are worth celebrating:  

Each of these wines is beautifully made and expresses the winemaker’s skill, the perfection of the grape, as well as terroir with minimal outer influence. Each also demonstrates precise fruit, driven minerality, clean acidity, and expansive depth. They are amazing alone and absolutely stunning with a proper food pairing. The great beauty of serving these wines at a tasting is watching as a person tastes the wine for the first time, comes back to the well a second and third time, finding new notes as the wine opens and expands, evoking additional flavors and expressions. Tasting these wines is wonderful, watching the taster’s face and excitement during the process is also wonderfully addictive and exciting!

While not necessarily “showy” wines, they are instead, massive crowd-pleasers. It was a joy to share these with others and to see them experience such well-made wines after such a long tasting, but the effects were not lost on the group. Everyone found at least one of these three they loved and truly appreciated, and that makes a wine tasting all the sweeter.

What would YOUR desert island wine be?

à votre santé!

Triple Play

29 Sep

First Base

Heinz Eifel’s Spatlese Riesling, 2011. Mosel, Germany.  From Mayfair Wine & Liquor, @ $15/bottle.

Having enjoyed Eifel’s Eiswine immensely, I picked up the Rielsing to give it a try. With a pale straw color and sweet nose of agave and apple, the palate demonstrates nice green fruit with taut, crisp acidity that provides an excellent balance with a medium finish. This wine is probably best served earlier in the day in the sun, as an aperitif, or with near the final course. Sweet but balanced, my reactions on two tastings over several days were: “among the best rieslings I’ve ever tasted” and “really well balanced but feels too sweet right now” which pointed back to being tasted at a time of day that did not suit the wine well, a fault I claim. I think this is a great wine in the under-$20 range and has become a strong contender for my go-to riesling.

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Second Base

Macon-Lugny “Les Charmes” Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Burgundy, France. From Sherry-Lehman, $16/bottle.

A delicious, entry-level burgundy with a light, greenish- gold color and nose of green fruit with a hint of citrus. In the mouth, a simple yet savory peach, lemon & fresh fruit base with notes of chalk, nuts, and vegetation. A savory quality without either an oakiness or buttery quality, this wine allows the drinker to appreciate the grape, not the barrel.  Best served over 55 degrees, as colder temperatures inhibit secondary notes and some creaminess, I appreciated the wine much more after sitting in the open for an hour.

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Third Base

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Vielle Vignes Santenay, Ceps Centaires, 2011. Cote de Beaune, France. From Oak & Steel, $49/bottle.

A delicate burgundy with vibrant, pale translucent red color and nose of raspberry.  Very clean and tart mouthfeel of pure old-vine pinot noir: gentle red fruit, nice acidity, even tannins. Ideally this would best left in the cellar for another 3-5 years, but it paired wonderfully with grilled salmon and greek feta cheese bourekas. On night two with the Santenay: served with fusilli pasta with broccolini, garlic and olive oil. A wonderful pairing, the gentle flavors of the pinot really come alive on the palate. Delicious.  I noticed that after more air, the nose has great floral notes (iris, violet) and the acidity and tannins played perfectly with the garlic and oil. I’ll try to cellar a couple of these and see how the wine fares in 5 years.
I found this bottle in midtown Manhattan, hence the sticker shock, but the same wine is available online as low as $37. This cote de beaune is a rare, wonderfully crafted example of delicacy and efficiency.

 

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à votre santé!

Saint-Romain, Alain Gras 2011

26 Sep

Saint-Romain by Alain Gras, 2011.

13%ABV, $38 at Oak and Steel, NYC.

This wine is from Alain Gras, whose vineyard is in Saint-Romain-Le Haut, just southwest of Meursault. This wine is everything you would want in a classic white burgundy that features depth and structure of fruit, earth and acidity at a reasonable price.

Medium straw in color, the fruity nose has a touch of citrus. The palate is crisp young green fruit featuring lemon on the back palate with notes of toasted almond, dried wood, chalk and limestone rounding out this delicious wine. After the initial response in the mouth and after mixing with air, I experienced a floral mix with the citrus and toasted oak across the top palate with a rich, long finish. If I had to guess I would bet these are old vines- twenty-five to thirty years old.

This can be found online for as little at $28/bottle, and I know I’ll be looking for more. This is a perfect wine to pair with delicate foods or share with other with lovers with discerning taste, also a great gift bottle. This delicate wine has power and depth I’ve not found in the under $60/bottle range before. If you love white burgundy, you owe yourself to try an Alain Gras so that you know what is growing just west of Puligny-Montrachet for 1/10th of the price.

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à votre santé!

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