Posts belonging to Category Cotes de Beaune



Burgundy Shall Not Be Defeated.

“WE SHALL FIGHT IN THE HILLS” SPAKE CHURCHILL IN THE DARKEST HOUR OF A FADING EMPIRE.

 

Under tremendous pressure from the Bosch, looking into the abyss of Teutonic damnation, one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century found himself rallying a nation for collective strength and a new energy to preserve a civilized history shared by women and men living on an island in the North Atlantic.

Things may seem familiar today with our own internal doofus who has – in a petulant mood – shut down our institutions without any clear goal.

I am writing about the survival of French Pinot Noir facing the ascent of German and American Pinot Noir wines which seek to dominate this beloved market.

Not without a fight! A hero has emerged.

2009 Domaine du Chateau de Chorey Beaunes Les Cras $60 (supposedly K&L). I know we just wrote about the un-Burgs and the wisdom of buying wines from the continent – and the USA – that rise near the height of good Burgs, are sold at fair value prices, and that deliver high quality-to-value drink. All it takes is one memorable and unexpected Burgundy wine to disrupt that idea.

We opened the “realBurg” bottle with the obscure and confusing label so common to Burgundy. Tight, fragrant and lean. Kirsch-like cherries. tBoW Jr and I talked about hoops and latkes punctuated by the wine in our glasses. It was changing. It was demanding. Then it happened about 40 minutes in. Pinot opened up like it only does when it comes from Burgundy. Cherry fruit showed texture and seductiveness that immediately made us wish this was a magnum. Not to worry there was plenty to taste. Sublime is a word pretty much reserved for Burgundy wines that hit the mark. So many miss this mark adding sting with the cost factor to even hold a Burg today. These wines can be very fussy; just this side of petulant. When one opens up…it’s like New Years in Havana.

I shared my delight with tBoW contributor KrisB who badgered tBoW to try Fass Wine Selections. I am halfway there. It is one thing to find a wine store like Woodland Hills Wine Co with guys on the floor who know wines AND there is a decent selection of Burgs, AND an excellent sales team. Is this a good time to populate the cellar once more? Can we work out a more sensible shipping schedule? Certainly it is timely with the cool climate for a few months.

Until these questions are answered…or the Big Cheetoh is removed from office…Happy 2019 to all from the writing team at The Best of Wines. FYI – if traveling to Havana for New Years please heed the following warning.

The Unburgs – Enjoy Great Wine For Less

HOW TO ENJOY BURGUNDY FOR HALF THE PRICE

Every wine snob has had this moment: discovering wines from Burgundy; finding out premium wines are not necessarily heavy cabs from Napa with the large corpulent fruit, prices and ratings. Wines that are made from Pinot Noir, a grape that is not friendly to Napa. F-R-E-N-C-H wines with complicated labels one can hardly tell what is in the bottle. Hold on. One CANNOT tell what is in the bottle.

Dotore and tBoW were initiated together, bitten by a Burg-hound werewolf [there wolf!] while groveling at a holiday tasting party with dozens of long forgotten wines filling every inch of a 12 by 5 table in a basement/cellar beneath a food market. The market is gone. The big cabs are gone, we wish Parker’s ratings were gone. 100 point scores made no sense if labels could not be easily understood.

One cannot put a score on a Burg. You might as well try and saddle up a butterfly. Hold starlight in your hand. Have a lunch date with Sasquatch. Our wine lives immediately changed. Forever.

That was then. Today the cognoscenti know that Burgundy is elusive especially when trying to pair quality with value [ed. readers may harrumph here]. One way to beat the hustle is to buy the importer . . . maybe. Burgs are expensive and $30 and $40 bargains are . . elusive.

What to do? Drink wines that have not been tainted by 100 point scoring fools. Drink wines that are not from Burgundy – UnBurgs! [ed. readers may stand up and shout here!] The UnBurgs include Schiava, Alto Piemonte, Sicily, the Canary Islands. Corsica. And that other island off the Italian coast. These are wines from a PLACE; not one lone grape. Blended wines. Local, ancient. Light weight, lower alcohol, balanced (much of the time), distinctive.

The UnBurgs. Here are three wines that share similar qualities as the best value Burgs. And are fairly priced.

2014 Patrick Javellier Savigny les Beaunes Premier Cru blahblahblah. $40 at Total Yawn (aka Total Wine – $35 in Chicago today). It is just as likely to find that the decent bottle of wine found online at Total Wine is no longer sold [ed. Beronia 2009]. However, IGTY found it, bought this Javellier Savigny and brought it to the dinner party. Excellent flavors. Tasted like Burg. Would not mistake for Rioja or Oregon Pinot. Sucked it down.

2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir $20 at “winery in 2012” [$25 for 2015/16 in USA]: This held up really well. Won’t mistake this for Burgundy. But I will have another glass please. More full, more earthy. The old forest floor – pprrraaaaappp! tBoW went on a four or five year Oregon Pinot jag which was followed by a Mendocino Pinot jag. Searching for New World Burgundy? Fuggadaboudid. Does not exist.

One cannot find New World Burgundy because the grapes would have to come from Canada to come close to the Beaune fruit profile (forget the Nuits). And then the Canadian soil would not be right. Weather is getting very similar now. Nuff said there.

2008 San Francesco Antoniolo Gattinara $40 for the 2008 in Illinois, or $30 for the 2012 in New York/Joizy: You know you are getting close to Burgundy wine when the label becomes more obtuse and practically indecipherable. If the wine is white then it is likely German. But this is Burg-like from AltoPiemonte which is where tBoWfinally found Burgundy with the proper value/quality ratio. Like memorable Burgs the wine can take a bissel age. Balanced like Olga Korbut on the balance beam. Richness like KrisB in the market. Brimming with charm like IGTY himself.

If you must search for decent Burgundy wine [ed. we always will] then stay around Beaune and south. Look for wines imported by Rosenthal, Louis/Dressner, Kermit Lynch and Charles Neal. Should you feel you must spend more than $60 then look for wines imported by Becky Wasserman. Or consult your local REAL wine shop.

Halloween warm up from a true cohort of wine conno-sewers…

 

‘Tis the Season: Five Wine Truths

santa-sleighVINOWEBIn Vino Veritas must be the vanity plate on Santa’s sleigh. It is also a muy popular phrase among the cogniscenti du vin. Something about truth and wine. This blog is hardly averse when it comes to understanding more about our wine tastes and habits. Here is what the vines told us at a recent holiday party.

antica07WEB ayres10WEB Lesson #1: Palates change, or at least they should if you prefer truth to hype. The truth here is we are done with Oregon wines. We plan to drink thru what’s in the cellar. Not a knock on Oregon Pinot Noir. Just a move in a new direction.

2007 Antica Terra Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and 2010 Ayres Ribbon Ridge Pioneer Pinot Noir: Five years ago these Oregon Pinot Noir wines were at the top of our list. Had to have them. Nummy num nums. So delicious. So manipulated. Both wines are quite enjoyable. Antica still seems to the be the top PN in the New World per the party guests. We just see no further reason to purchase wines from the region.

latourmersault05WEB Lesson #2: Pierce the veil of personal bias. Consider all the data. As Inspector Clouseau might say “I suspect no one and I suspect everyone.” I suspect me. 2005 Louis Latour Mersault-Charmes Premier Cru: Forget the pedigree of the producer and especially the wine press. This bottle had everything going for it when purchased: big name producer, big name vineyard, should have checked the vintage, and deeply discounted. The most important red flag was the wine shop, now out of business. We had never bought a decent bottle from the site. The wine was flat. Over the hill. Some said premox. Some said too cold. When it warmed up it was chalk and dust with little fruit. Buy the wine you like, note wines you are supposed to like. More signals “The family-run company of Maison Louis Latour is one of the most highly-respected négociant-éléveurs in Burgundy. Renowned throughout the world for the quality of its red and white wines, the company has built a reputation for tradition and innovation. This Domaine has the largest Grand Cru property in the Cote d’Or with a total of 28,63 hectares (71,58 acres).” Large vineyards is not necessarily a detractor BUT a smaller vineyard is often associated with smaller producers who are more concerned with quality than quantity.

ranchero-vig-10WEB Lesson #3: Look at the small producer who is reasonably inspired. Amy Jean Butler is a case in point. From her website: “Founded by way of endless infatuation and intellectual curiosity, Ranchero Cellars is my just reward for years of making wine for others. I have lived and breathed winemaking on all levels – from the storied and venerated Napa institutions, to the intrepid Paso Robles startup – and have come to understand that this is where I belong. Over the past 16 years I have fallen in love with certain vineyards, particular varieties, specific styles and methods.” This is what inspiration reads like. And she signs off “XOXO Amy.” 2010 Ranchero Cellars Viognier: This 4 y.o. Viognier wine from Paso Robles is delicious. It has improved with a couple years. Proof that the New World/Old World distinction which we constantly cite has little meaning in the hands of a true winemaker.

santelenamag06WEBLesson #4: Cabernet is not Napa. 2006 Sant’ Elena Cabernet Sauvignon: An Italian red from the Friuli region in Northeastern Italy. Delightful. Served in mag so it has soft tannins 8 years later. Middle weight tasting just fine. There is another lesson here: if you know the wine and not the region, and the price is right ($40 for the mag), then give it a try.

stcosme12WEB Lesson #5: If spooked by too much information when considering a new prestigious brand, start at the intro level. St Cosme is a value label from the Cotes du Rhone. The label is intimidating with an ancient hut obviously hand illustrated. Old shit. Too much for us. We don’t know what to do… flight or fight! Recent release wines can purchased from $14 to $80. The site is ancient as in 15th century. Romans get a mention. 2011 St Cosme Cotes du Rhone: The entry level wine that is 100% Syrah. We worried it might be “hot” [ed. high alcohol], too big being from Gigondas a region we imagine is noted for “size” [ed. too rich]. What we got was a fairly exotic red wine that failed to meet any of our weenie-shaped fears. Great value too. Wine tasting can be so silly!

Please excuse this sentimental moment. Nat King Cole and Frank’s World are hard to resist.

Unnatural Sports R So Not Like Natural Wines

batter's POV

batter’s POV

There are only three natural sports left in the professional world: futbol (soccer to us), baseball and hockey. If natural wines are unencumbered with artifice [ed. nice phraseologizing tBoW!] then these three sports likewise remain fairly true to their earliest paradigm. Baseball has Instant Replay which is the landmark of a corrupted game and the DH. Otherwise the game is pretty much same as it ever was. Hockey is barely a sport so it is theoretically difficult to stray far from the source. Besides what was the singular technological advance in hockey – the TV highlighted puck – has been thrown to the heap of “hated it.” Soccer is the purest game. Our cultural chauvinism makes it difficult to accept.

Which brings us to the NFL. How I hate it. Let me count the ways. But wait. Natural wines provide the perfect reference point for everything WRONG with the NFL. Natural wines eschew sulfur and commercial yeasts used to inoculate wines in monstrous batches that must fit into a production schedule that optimizes the timely release of overpriced monochromatic drink masquerading as something exciting. The NFL gives the viewing public a product easy to recognize yet nameless in distinction (“parity”) that is even easier to consume than a 100 point Speculator wine, not worth comprehending (the technical machinations of endless substitutions), and so overdone in “coverage” to render “live” viewing irrelevant (instant replay O-U-T of control). Then we have the “analysts.” From Boomer to Primetime to the Mooch, NFL analysis is much closer to a supermarket tabloid than it is to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Excuse me. I must evacuate.

When will Manziel start? The suspense builds with every sports chat segment.

Back to the base. Thank God the end of the baseball season is here. Hooray for the Orioles. Best unis in sports, AL East Division Champs. They will not make the World Series. Neither will Los Doyers. It’s a red year and the Angels will win it all. hspiscedebeaueSP2007This is good for baseball and sports fans. Attempts to replicate this model in wine is fruitless. Hooray for natural wines! Yahoo for playoffs baseball. Like the harvest after the long and dull growing season.

Some recent fine wines worth your attention… or not…

2007 Scott Paul Hospices de Beaune $50: Third time we have tasted this wine purchased from the Scott Paul tasting room. Still not ready! So tight. Will it ever open? At least it smells like a Burgundy. We had a 1985 DRC La Tache like this. Lynne is right. Only buy wines ready to drink. Done. Finito. Nuff said. 13%

Lato-Duende-04WEB2004 Paul Lato Duende Pinot Noir $TAFI: The legend of Paul Lato has been documented on this blog several times. HE has achieved “old guard” stature in Santa Barbara wine country. He has a loyal following. His wines no longer suit our palate however this third vintage retains some of his original restraint in winemaking. At ten years Dotore’s summation of the Lato bottle is “nice Syrah.” But then Dotore is a snob, and he is right. This was the first vintage when Paul moved towards the big blowsy style that pretty much ruined SB wines for the tBoW tasting crew. Still a nice wine if you like a lighter domestic Syrah. 14.5%

Bill Belichick is the most same person in the NFL. His postgame interviews are by far the most compelling reasons to tune in to the No Fun League. Here the Patriots coach weighs in on technology. Hut! Hut Hut!!

Drinking Wines Before Their Time

properly aged

properly aged

A bracingly warm summer evening in SoCal and an assembly of tasting mavens. Heat driven visions for an epic evening celebrating accomplishments. All that was needed was a collection of wines to taste, discern
Orson Wine

Orson Wine

and discuss their mysteries. We had them… both. But where was the moon?

The wines that were opened showed kind of tight and NOT READY, excepting the Andre Robert champagne that was popped first. Champagne is always ready isn’t it? The wines most anticipated were just not there yet. What does it mean to be “not ready?” The wine needs more time to round out, integrate, come together, settle down, find its equilibrium, mature. Bartod-Chambolle-07WEBOr, if you are biodynamically literate the wine needs to be in harmony with the lunar cycle. Let’s face it. Astrology.

2007 Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Aux Beaux Bruns $111: Don’t do it they said as he pulled the cork. Big and brooding. Like a Beethoven portrait. Pinot fruit so deep it could not be fathomed. Tight. Weight without mass. A sleeping warlock. Never opened up. Now we will never see it again. 13%

coldstream-06WEB2006 Mac Forbes Coldstream Yarra Valley Pinot Noir $70: By contrast this dusty, leanish drink was fascinating. Definitely tasted like Pinot Noir. Had the Burgundian style with light middle weight liquid and dark Pinot flavors. Not exactly forest floor and definitely not from the cherry/strawberry clan. Savory flavors. Yarra Valley wine country is low (100′) and high (1500′). It is a cool region so Pinot Noir grows well. This bottle pleased almost everyone. The winery is Mac Forbes and they have a young crew. The great about tasting this wine at $70 was to have it near the Chambolle at $111. Neither is quite ready. Which would you rather open tonight? A treat to have them both on the same evening. 13.5%

Malvar-2011WEB2011 Viñas Ambiz Malvar (Maceración Carbónica) $24: We have been waiting to try this bottle of orange wine. Made from a white grape indigenous to the Madrid region. The story is in the winemaking. Fabio Bartolomei reveals his “greatest secrets” at this website. The back label is almost as striking as the wine color. YOU MUST READ IT. He presents a list of what is in the bottle – “fermented grape juice”, what he did and did not do to the wine, and what he did and did not add. How was the wine? Fascinating. Tasting like pure juice, acidic, lean, high flying, without peer. Don’t look for fruit. We decided to decant it! As my mother-in-law might have said “these guys are having too much fun!” As the website says “Practicing environmentally respectful, sustainable and chemical-free viticulture.” The vineards are head cut. The Malvar vineyard so so old nobody knows. If this was Sonoma or Napa the owner would have a geneticist out to the site immediately! This region near Madrid is a must visit for wine tourists. 12%

Here is a seven minute slide show with music of Diane Arbus’ fotos.