Rhône Valley (Part One) – Winter 2019

By |2019-02-01T17:48:18+00:00February 1st, 2019|France, Rhône Valley, Travel Report|

Mike Temple had a soft spot for Rhône wines and therefore the region has always been a strength in our portfolio. We spent several days both on our own and with the perennially charismatic Harry Bosmans.

Arnoux Pere et Fils

Vacqueyras’ oldest winery, Arnoux is centered smack dab in the middle of Vacqueyras center and takes up a few blocks with its various buildings. From modern operations to traditional ones to inexplicably idiosyncratic setups, we pride ourselves in our diversity of tastes!  For better or worse! Jean-Francois Arnoux is the latest generation of his family to run the ship at this historic house, and take us through a Rhône lineup he did. Tasting notes are below but the short answer is that we’ve made the decision to double down on what Arnoux does best – the old school, and you’ll see more quantity and more focus on their Vieux Clocher line from us in 2019 and beyond. Below is a video walk through of what has to be one of the more timeless cellar setups in the Rhône Valley.

Arnoux 16 Ventoux, dry, rustic
Arnoux 17 Ventoux, similar to the 16 just younger
Arnoux 17 Cotes du Rhone “Vieux Clocher,” some fruit, dry, rustic, traditional
Arnoux 16 Cotes du Rhone Seigneur de Lauris, richer fruit, garrigue, nice
Arnoux 17 Cotes du Rhone Seigneur de Lauris, fresher than the 16, slightly more going on
Arnoux 16 Cairanne “Vieux Clocher,” quite good, outperformed most of the Cairanne we’ve tasted on this trip, with the telltale floral Cairanne nose
Arnoux 17 Cairanne “Vieux Clocher,” more fruit, but dry right now, should come around well
Arnoux 16 Vacqueyras “Vieux Clocher,” good flavor, some fruit, traditional, we appreciate the style
Arnoux 17 Vacqueyras “Vieux Clocher,” somewhat lighter than the 16 but that is just fine with us, as it is, again, traditional
Arnoux 15 Vacqueyras 15 “Penitents,” fuller, but dry and d0ubling down on rustic

Frank interrogating Jean-Francois on adoption of modern hose storage practices

Domaine Pelaquie

I have to say this was one hell of an eye opening winery visit and it reminds me why we take these sleepless, jambon fueled journeys in the first place. We’ve long admired Pelaquie’s best in class examples of Laudun Rouge and Blanc, but never experienced their bombastic Cotes du Rhone values firsthand, at least not with an understanding of the simple but magic approach that results in a pure, focused, rich yet slippery core of Grenache goodness in every sip (sorry to tease, but more on Pelaquie’s proprietary technique later via video post to coincide with the arrival of the massive initial load of Cotes du Rhone Rouge and Rosè we booked on the spot…check back here in 45 days). Packaging was always a bit of an issue here but that was taken care of when we walked into the office and saw not one but three final draft options for a revised label that matches the spirit of this house. We decided on the below wardrobe, and the reference to Le Rive Droite (aka the underdog left bank of the Rhone) fits the whole spirit at Pelaquie like a glove. Frank will be the first to say that this is the finest Tavel in Tavel. All of you must agree if your appetite for it last year is any indication. 2017 was the warmest year in Lirac/Tavel/Laudun since 2003, but for some reason the whites have the highest acidity they’ve ever measured in the appellation…probably due to the 2-3 months with absolutely no rain which basically meant concentrated everything. Luc Pelaquie believes that in order to make balanced Rhone whites you need to use slow ripening varietals (ie Bourboulenc and Clairette). More than a few people will tell you that this little area here is the very best in the Rhone for expressive whites. We certainly feel that way right now.

Mocking up the final label tweak on a deliciously unfiltered Tavel tank sample!

Domaine Pelaquie 17 Cotes du Rhone Villages Laudun Blanc, led by Bourboulenc and Clairette but uses all six grapes allowed in the appellation. Very balanced, classic stuff even if rich this go-round
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Lirac Blanc, broad, waxy, full wood but plenty of accompanying acid, modern
Domaine Pelaquie 18 Tavel, firm but open, dark, settling out, another winner this year
Domaine Pelaquie 18 Cotes du Rhone Rouge (tank), rich and loaded with flavor, home run
Domaine Pelaque 17 Cotes du Rhone Rouge, garrigue loaded nose, lovely texture, almost silky, total steal
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Cotes du Rhone Villages Laudun Rouge, superpie Laudun, Mourvedre adds the structure and spice needed to keep this interesting
Domaine Pelaquie 17 Lirac Rouge, MEATY! Only Grenache and Mourvedre used here, lack of Syrah gives this a specific personality. Lirac and Rasteau have the best Mourvedre in the Rhone, and if you add even 10% Syrah it totally changes the wine so as Luc would say, why add it. Lirac is planet Earth’s absolute temperature limit for Mourvedre.

Another reason these are so good? Look at the thick old vines that surround the Domaine!

.

Provence – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-30T16:58:30+00:00January 30th, 2019|France, Travel Report|

Provence isn’t always sunny and warm – Temperatures were in the 40’s with a wicked mistral that made us feel like we were sitting in the stands of Soldier Field during a January playoff game. We had a bit more time today than normal and were able to spend quality time with two very important producers here at Grape, Domaine Sorin and Chateau Bas.

Domaine Sorin

We met with Olivier Santini, who owns and operates the iconic Domaine Paternel in Cassis.  Olivier purchased Domaine Sorin several years ago after the untimely passing of Luc Sorin – This acquisition fulfilled his dream of vineyard property in Bandol and allowed him to feed the increasing demand for his Cotes de Provence Rose.

Domaine Sorin 2018 Cotes de Provence Rosé “Terra Amata,” pale pink, CDP rose with real finesse, very ready
Domaine Sorin 2015 Bandol Rouge, deep color, cherry, licorice, built to last but in the window now
Domaine Sorin 2016 Bandol Rouge, typical profile, but not nearly the complexity as the 15 and still a bit disjointed
Domaine Paternel 2017 Cassis “Blanc de Blancs,” aromatic, with dense palate that shows layers of stone fruit, plenty to get excited about here

The Cassis Blanc was an eye opener for me as I’d never been to Cassis or consumed the wines from this tiny AOP.  Very little Cassis is exported as the demand is sky high in this gorgeous, touristed, seaside appellation. The pricing? As you’d expect pricing on AOP Cassis is extremely high. Frank will say way too high, I vote to offer some on a presell when the 2018 vintage is available as Olivier Santini will have a pallet or two available for allocation. I dare anyone to find a superior pairing with Bouillabaisse.

Cotes de Provence Rosé also continues to climb in price due to insatiable global demand. We’ve worked hard to keep pricing reasonable for you on Sorin, not without some yelling and screaming at the winery, such was the episode between Frank and Olivier this evening as the sun set over this dreamlike property overlooking the Mediterranean. Our guess is that Cotes de Provence pricing has reached a peak and will stabilize (or even decrease a touch) by next year.

Finalizing 2019 packaging with Olivier Santini

It is also worth noting that some time was spent tweaking the packaging on Sorin’s Cotes de Provence Rosé – The changes we made during our visit will debut not in this current vintage but rather with the release of the 2019 next winter.

Chateau Bas

The property is owned by Mrs. von Blanquet, an older lady living in Baden-Baden, widow of the founder of Gaggenau kitchens. The estate is 170 acres in total, all organic, mostly planted with rosé destined red varietals (mostly Grenache and Cinsault), along with red destined red varietals (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah), and whites including Clairette, Bourboulenc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Vermentino.

It is as historic a property as they come, all farming is organic, although the cellar is modern and efficient, where they produce 3 levels, Chateau Bas as we know it, the premium Pierres du Sud in 3 colours and the iconic Le Temple in red and white. The reds in the latter ranges are really good and so is the white Le Temple. All reds get decent “elevage” time, a minimum of two years in bottle prior to release. They all get more or less wood.

Organic rows at Chateau Bas

The Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is a relatively small appellation, there are some 70 producers including 3 cooperatives. The region is traditionally a red wine producer, the rosé trend is led by economics rather than custom, but it turned out that the area produces some pretty good rosés which seem to have a little more body than the more elegant examples we see from the Eastern part of Provence. The whites at Chateau Bas are rather full bodied and fat and age well, they are considerably better than average in Provence.

Chateau Bas 2018 Blanc, fresh, straightforward, some spice
Pierre de Sud 2018 Blanc, similar, but better
Chateau Bas 2018 Rosé, fresh, solid, fine
Pierre de Sud 2018 Rosé, step up, more depth
Chateau Bas 2018 Rouge, solid and quite serious, good
Pierre de Sud 2015, even better

We should consider the Pierre de Sud at some point, with the more classic label and bottle. When you all are ready that is. Let us know.

Southern Burgundy and Beaujolais – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-28T04:15:38+00:00January 27th, 2019|Burgundy, France, Travel Report|

Day three was an eye-opener. Gerald Talmard introduces us to his friends and neighbors in Chardonnay, we gorge on wine soaked meat with the Jambon family @ Domaine Thulon, and finish up at Louis Picamelot’s brand new winery to taste what have to be the finest set of non-Champagne bubbles in France.

Gerald Talmard

Our visit to Talmard is always quick, as this is an efficient father/son operation with only two wines produced.  There is not much to talk about really as Gerald makes the best QPR Macon Chardonnay on the market and we beg for as much as he will give us. Talmard typifies 2018 as “2015, but more acidity”. He is right.

Gerald Talmard shows us 2018’s from tank

Talmard 18 Macon Chardonnay, fresh, good acidity, citrus, easy to drink.
Talmard 18 Macon-Uchizy, similar in style, more closed at this point.

He is playing with a new fermentation process that allows for lower use of SO2, and maybe that was where that extra paintbrush of Chardonnay goodness came from…We’ve rarely tasted wine this good at Talmard. Overachievement.  50,000 bottles available, 10,000 more than with the 2017!  Let’s have some fun!

Cadoles de Chardonnay

All of you have such an appetite for Gerald Talmard’s bombastic values in Macon Chardonnay and Macon Uchizy that he simply cannot supply all of your demand!  For this reason Gerald introduced us to his friends and neighbors at Cadoles de Chardonnay. This father/son operation is located several minutes from Gerald’s Domaine, and smack dab in the aptly named village of Chardonnay.  Until several years ago the Domaine was selling all of their production to the local cooperative in Lugny, but they now make and sell wines themselves as their quality is just too good to be lost in a village blend.  Here we have a family with deep/long ties to the land, and believe it or not they farm 10% of the total acreage in Chardonnay, all planted to Chardonnay of course! Everything is fermented in stainless steel, and most everything is aged in stainless steel save a dozen experimental barrels.

Patrick and Nicolas Laugere, doing their thing and doing it well

Cadoles de Chardonnay 18 Macon Chardonnay, lemon color, soft, fine, more complex and concentrated than Talmard. Priced a bit higher than Talmard but seems justified.
Big opportunity here.  You can expect our first load in Spring 2019. Available in all states.

Domaine Thulon

Domaine Thulon is located on the old estate of Château de Thulon (this castle towers over the Domaine), and was purchased by Annie and René Jambon in 1987 after they were “métayers” for 20 years on the same site (if the “métayer” thing, ie French sharecropping, is interesting to you have a look at this article by Andrew Jefford)  Their children Carine and Laurent are now running the estate, and a passion for experimentation sets them apart from peers in the region.  These are some of the best values in French wine we’ve come across in the last decade.

The Jambon Family

Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages Blanc, full fat, low acidity
Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages Rosé, firmer. fresh, good
Domaine de Thulon 18 Beaujolais Villages, fresh, fruit
Domaine de Thulon 17 Chiroubles, some reduction, dark, quite full
Domaine de Thulon 17 Regnié. firm, fresh, fruit, good acidity
Domaine de Thulon 17 Morgon concentration, more depth
Domaine de Thulon 17 Regnié VV, some wood aging, tight
Domaine de Thulon 16 Regnié VV, open, nice
Domaine de Thulon 18 Regnié, dark, full, round
Domaine de Thulon 18 Chiroubles, tight, a little dry
Domaine de Thulon 18 Morgon, full, aromatic, concentration
Domaine de Thulon 18 Regnié VV, intense
Domaine de Thulon 17 Beaujolais Villages Blanc “Montagnier,” wood aged, a little funky, why throw wood at such a good thing?
Domaine de Thulon 17 Viognier, nice acidity, probably not useful for us though
Domaine de Thulon 17 “Cerise,” funky, we had divided opinions on it with Frank a big no and Jeff a “hell yes”
The 18’s are going through what seems a somewhat difficult phase. 17’s were bottled not so long ago and need some time. The cellar and the wines were very cold.
The Beaujolais Villages and Chiroubles are made by carbonic maceration. The others are vinified classically (Burgundy-style). Everything takes place in a charmingly typical cellar for the area (have a look at our 360 photos here and more your cursor around for the full experience). After tasting we crossed the courtyard to dunk assorted meats into steaming pots of Beaujolais wine with the family – I’m trying to find a recipe link for you here but cannot find a thing.  Try this though…Simply pour a few bottles of Beaujolais wine into that dusty fondue pot someone gave you as a wedding present, add a chopped onion, a few cloves, some pepper, a few bay leaves, a bit of chicken stock, and a good dose of salt….sit around the table and dip meat into it….proceed to drink copious amounts of Cru Beaujolais.  Finish the meal with a wide assortment of cheese.  Now you are partying like the Jambon Family. What a way to warm up a blustery afternoon.

Louis Picamelot

Phillippe Chautard is the newest generation in the Picamelot family tree to operate this venerable sparkling wine house in Rully. We are safe to say these are the finest sparkling wines made in France outside of Champagne, and some of the top bottlings will beat plenty of Champagne when tasted blind. Mr. Chautard just finished the construction of a breathtaking new winery which is cut into the side of a hill. Have a look at our newly posted 360 photos on Google Street View.

Phillippe Chautard showing off his new toys

Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Heritage 1926, PBL/CH/UGNI, non AOP, Traditional Method, pretty tasty if lacking some focus
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 Pinot Noir Rosé, well made,. fresh, right color
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 16 Terroirs, PN/CH/ALI, fresh, quite complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 Terroirs, more mature, good
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 15 “Chazot,” PN from St. Aubin, full-bodied, big wine
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 14 “Jeanne Thomas,” CH 85- ALI 15, big, complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 14 “Reipes” 2014, 100 Chardonnay from St. Aubin, bigger, fine, complex
Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne 13 “Jean Baptiste” 80% Chardonnay, 20% Aligote, older, mixed opinions here, you probably won’t see this from us other than via presell.

Excellent wines. Informative back labels. So much potential. Plenty of others feel the same way that we do about Picamelot, so keep in mind that overall quantities are limited here (certainly not the norm for a sparkling house, especially one producing Cremant de Bourgogne).
Up next is a few days in the Rhone with our good friend Harry Bosmans.

Burgundy – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-27T17:20:23+00:00January 24th, 2019|France, Podcast, Travel Report|

The journey continues to Burgundy, with visits to Domaine R. Dubois & Fils, Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur, and Justin Girardin.  Snow threatened, Frank took care of his Andouillette fix, and all things said a solid day at the office.

Vintage Summary

Conditions in Burgundy for the 2018 vintage were similar to Alsace, and the whole Northern part of France for that matter. The result is a large crop (sometimes too large) of concentrated wines with saturated colors. People who started their harvesting on time and did not overcrop will have superb reds and very good whites. Given the weather, it is more of a Red vintage than a white as acidities may be low.

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur

Dufouleur started early and harvested rapidly as the heat continued through the harvest. His wines are dark, fresh and have normal
acidity levels. He also has good cooling equipment, unusual in Burgundy, but critical in 2018. Like his father before him Yvan Dufouleur is obsessed with freshness in his finished wines and therefore will pick a few days earlier than most of his peers – We consider this an advantage almost universally (this style is what led us to his wines in the first place), and in 2018 this was a massive advantage. All 2018 reds are barrel-aged, more or less new depending on the appellation
All 2018 reds are barrel-aged, more or less new depending on the appellation
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 H.C. Nuits, dark, loaded with fruit.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Santenay Genets, big, very dark, balanced, classy
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Pommard, more feminine in style, very fine
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Juliens, good color, elegant style
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 Fixin Chapitre, Syrah-dark ! concentrated, tannic, outstanding (and cheap)
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Poulettes, soft, round, very fine
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2018 NSG Perrieres, dark, concentrated, complex, emblematic, should get some

We did not taste 2018 whites, all were in malolactic
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Aligote, still fresh and lively, but too “old” for us now
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 HCN Blanc, fresh, structured, young
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 HCN Rouge, good color, fresh, nice fruit
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Pommard, rather big, finesse
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Fixin Chapitre, dark, concentrated, full
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 NSG Juliens, tight, typical, pure, finesse
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 NSG Perrieres, dark, more concentration
We also tasted two lots of older wines:

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2011 NSG Poulettes, some reduction, still youngish, complex
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2007 NSG Poulettes mature, or close to it, beautiful aromatics, ordered everything available.
The wines are less concentrated here, which is their style, but in 2018 this is actually an advantage.

Domaine Raphael Dubois & Fils

Here we have a traditional estate in Premeaux, near Nuits-Saint-Georges, not unlike Dufouleur, but a little more old-school with something of an “undiscovered” feel to it.  Frank has worked with this property for years on the Poot Agenturen side of things in Europe.

Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Aligoté, fresh, full
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Coteaux Bourguignonnes, longer, good flavor
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCN, full, more concentration
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCB, more acidity, finer, sort of light Meursault-style
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 CdNV, bigger, fatter. more oak
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Bourgogne Rouge, good color, fruit, soft
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 HCN, color ok, fruit, more elegant
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Savigny Les Beaune, color ok, typical, some tannin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Beaune, similar, pretty wine
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Volnay, again similar in style, but finer
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Chambolle Musigny, darker, fat, full, masculin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Vosne Romanee, fine fruit, typical
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG, good color, full, tannic. concentration
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 SLB Narbantons, good color, aromatic, nice
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG Argillièrers, fine, concentrated, long
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 NSG Porets, new oak, tannic
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2018 Clos Vougeot, dark, tannic, structured
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Bourgogne, good color, a little tight
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG, dark, full, fruit, tannin
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 SLB Narbantons, lighter color, fine, elegant
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG Argillières, good color, some reduction, some wood, round
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 NSG Porets, more concentartion, fine, aromatic
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Clos Vougeot, dark, tannic, dry
We talk a lot about colors here, because at Dubois they are sometimes on the light side. Wonder why? Well, in these modern times enzyme additions to Pinot Noir at crush have become the norm even in traditional ole Burgundy and while we don’t have a huge problem with this it is refreshing to work with someone like Dubois who is traditional to the max and proud of the naturally light color you end up with in the finished wines of this region.. We should do more with them – Prices are good, few old school estates like this exist anymore, and they offer a wide range of wines.

Justin Girardin

We tasted 2018’s with Justin out of barrel at his main space in Santenay.  One thing you instantly notice about Justin is that he is an intensely focused person. This was actually the winery of Justin’s famous uncle Vincent Girardin, until Vincent moved his operations a few kilometers North.  It is worth noting (some of you already know this we are sure) that Vincent Girardin recently sold his Domaine to Boisset, and the way we see it this puts young Justin Girardin in the position to carry the storied torch of this overachieving Santenay based family.  Carrying that torch well he is.  Just for the sheer pleasure of it we want to drive back and taste this whole lineup once more!
Justin Girardin 2018 Bourgogne Blanc, stunningly good again, fresh, classy
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay, beautiful lemon color, long, fine, outstanding for appellation.
Justin Girardin 2018 Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot, citrusy, rich, very good.
Justin Girardin 2018 Bourgogne Rouge, 35 year vines, dark, tight, good fruit, cool, outstanding
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay VV, dark, more complex and concentration, fruit
Justin Girardin 2018 Santenay Clos Rousseau, more of everything, finer
Justin Girardin 2018 Pommard, tons of fruit, fine, elegant
Overall a stunning set of wines, as good as it gets.  While there aren’t huge quantities made of any of these wines there is enough production of the Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge for us to give them focus and build volume. 2017’s are still available in decent quantities. Lesser 2018’s will be bottled in the summer. At this point we were able to get the virtual reality camera working so check out the embedded image of Justin in his cellar below and move the view around. Preferably just put on a VR headset. Depending on when you are reading this you “should” be able to walk around the winery that way but we are messing with some image stitching issues at the moment…stay tuned!

That’s it for now, onwards towards the Macon!

Alsace – Winter 2019

By |2019-01-21T18:52:58+00:00January 20th, 2019|France, Podcast, Travel Report|

Frank Poot, John Griffin, and I are on a dizzying 12 day, 38 winery rout through France to taste 2018’s in barrel and catch up with producers.  We are compiling our opinions, notes, and media as a group and posting them here for your enjoyment!  

Vintage Summary

2018…Extraordinary vintage in Alsace. Large too very large volumes and very ripe at the same time. This despite a wet spring and a very dry, very hot summer. Harvest had to start early to retain acidity and freshness.  The wines are unusually concentrated with high, sometimes even record alcohol levels. However, the concentration is such that this does not seem to be a big problem.Obviously, residual sugar levels in Pinot Gris and Gewürz are high, but the wines still seem to be balanced.

Domaine Fernand Engel

Proprietor Xavier Engel runs what is probably the largest Biodynamic estate in France, and he is somewhat of an outsider on the natural/bio scene as he farms this way out of pure pragmatism (and obsession about mineral content in the finished wines) rather than being someone who farms this way for philosophical reasons. We will take it – Recent studies here showed 70% higher mineral content in wine from biodynamically farmed soil versus conventional soil (same area, same vine age)! Xavier’s cellar is one huge science experiment and his newest passion is reductive winemaking – He is minimizing oxygen to the extreme in all vessels for what can only be described as unbelievable freshness and balance. We will dive into that on the podcast this Spring as it is a bit too technical to splice into this post.

Xavier Engel in front of his self-invented oxygen scrubbing system

Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Blanc, fresh, ripe, outstanding.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Sylvaner, classic Sylvaner, enough to bring Frank close to tears
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling “Cuvee Engel,” Ripe, good acidity and character, full, fresh. Rarely seen quality
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling Rotenberg, big, intense, complex.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Riesling Praelatenberg, finer, more elegant, concentration.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Gris “Cuvee Engel,” dry, full, complex, intense
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Gewürztraminer “Cuvee Engel,” superb, full of character, impossible not to like. RS
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Vendage Tardives (PG and Gewürz), beautiful, super-concentration, still good acidity.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Cuvee Engel,” very dark, full, tannic with good varietal character.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Meyerhof,” biner, more focused, despite young vines.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2018 Pinot Noir “Reniassance” (with some dried grapes added), over-the-top, but if you like Amarone….
Domaine Fernand Engel 2016 Cremant d’Alsace Chardonnay, pale, fine, crisp. Very good indeed.
Domaine Fernand Engel 2016 Cremant d’Alsace Pinot Noir, (new and from the Silberberg plot), big, bold young. *we purchased every last bottle he’d give us of this new bottling
The most interesting discovery on this trip was learning about Xavier’s unique process of making sparkling wines. We’ve long celebrated his bubbles for their rich mouthfeel and fine carbonation but weren’t aware that he was doing something completely unusual to accomplish this result.  Intrigued?  Listen to this short clip from Xavier on our podcast where he explains his philosophy of growing on “cool” soils in order to harvest at a high enough brix level to have the ability to achieve secondary fermentation with natural grape sugars.

Cattin

As you know there is quite the broad range at Cattin and we focused mostly on cuvees we carry since we are just in the process of launching things with them.  Jacques Cattin feels lucky about the bountiful 2018 harvest. If you haven’t yet visited their spaceship like tasting room and wine bar you must go as there is nothing else like it in Alsace.  Tactile wines.

Jacques Cattin shows us his delicious new Cremant “Ice”


Cattin 2018 Pinot Blanc, aromatic, fresh.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Blanc Reserve, a little more of everything
Cattin 2018 Riesling, aromatic, tiny bit of rs
Cattin 2018 Rielsing Reserve, a step up, more acidity and a little smokey.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Gris, more concentration, typical
Cattin 2018 Pinot Gris Reserve, slightly better, same style
Cattin 2018 Pinot Noir, dark, good character, fresh, some tannin.
Cattin 2018 Pinot Noir Reserve, very close
Cattin 2016 Cremant d’Alsace BIO, fresh, crisp, dry, very good
Cattin NV Cremant d’Alsace “Ice,” demi-sec but quite fresh and balanced, Very nice, good packaging
Apparently Cattin’s Demi-Sec “Ice” is a massive hit locally in Alsace.  We couldn’t stop talking about it during our drive to Burgundy – We will give it a go on our next shipment, just in time for swimming pool season! The future ahead is very bright indeed for Cattin.

Frank Poot on Champagne – De Saint Gall and why you need it now

By |2018-11-26T06:38:54+00:00November 26th, 2018|Champagne, New Arrivals|

We’ve worked side by side with Frank Poot for 25 years now and he leads our sourcing activities in Europe. This Fall Frank and I connected to discuss Champagne De Saint Gall, which will arrive at our warehouse (gasp) this week!!!  

JM: As most of you know we’ve been particularly strong in bubbles over the years here at Grape Expectations, always with a deep Champagne book in particular… We now represent Champagne Moutard in much of the US market and we just love all the creative things Jean Benoit Hery is doing in the Côte des Bar. We represent Champagne Henriot now in both Washington and Oregon and those wines are spectacular these days. Frank, you’ve brought us De Saint Gall for all of the US which is so exciting. I wanted to touch base, have you brief us on your experience in Champagne, on where Champagne is at right now overall as a region, and explain how De Saint Gall fits into that.

FP: I started working with Champagne in the mid-seventies and I’ve always found the region very, very interesting because Champagne has things a lot of areas don’t have. In general people know very little about Champagne. To put this in perspective let’s take a step back for those who aren’t totally familiar with the unique structure of Champagne as an industry. Roughly speaking there are about 80,000 acres of vineyards spread out over a very large area that from North to South is probably close to 100 miles and from East to West is probably 50 miles. It’s a big area. The vineyards are just scattered around all over – They are in just over 300 villages and towns. And most of the vineyards, by far the most, are owned by growers and not by the big houses. Look at even a massive group like LVMH who is known to own more vineyard land than almost anyone, their total holdings only fill a sliver of their total production needs.

JM: The larger houses, the negotiants, are completely dependent on these growers. Right? Without the growers, they have nothing. The only exception I can think of would be Roederer who I think farms something like 600 acres.

FP: Exactly. Roederer is probably the only major “house” that is fairly independent. Few others get beyond 10 or 15 percent. Champagne’s 80,000 acres of vineyards are worked by 16,000 individual farmers/landowners. Essentially a massive swath of 5 acre family farms. Almost all Champagne, regardless of the size of the house “branding” it, comes from these very small family farms. We are talking about agricultural people. I would say most of them aren’t even really interested in the final product. They produce grapes, their business is growing grapes …

JM: And so now please break down for everyone how this back end of the business works as this makes Champagne (as a business) different than any other wine region in the world …

FP: Ok. Because the region is so big in terms of square mileage and you have all these little towns and villages, what happened was each town would usually have what Icall a press house or pressing station, and that would typically be legally organized as a cooperative, or “co-op.” A bunch of growers would put it together themselves. In the old days you couldn’t transport the grapes in in crates over long distances. It was complicated. So what they did, they pressed their grapes together locally and then the juice, the must, was shipped and sold to the large houses. That’s how it worked and that’s to a large extent how it still works.

JM: So you have just over 300 individual villages in the region, so there must be a ton of these press houses.

FP: Exactly. Now what happened over time, what started in the fifties, is that a lot of these villages got together and rather than just pressing grapes and selling juice they got together to say, “hey, you know, we can make some wine ourselves and we can then probably sell some wine ourselves, so lets try to do that..”

JM: And I’m sure that worked well, since then they had a value added material, a finished wine that could be stored, a finished wine which was a more profitable material than unfermented must in terms of what they could get by selling to the big houses, right?

FP: Yes. This worked quite well for farmers. What happened next was that we saw the creation of what you now call a “super co-op.” A “super co-op” was a larger co-op formed to bring a lot of these smaller coops together. They would take all the wine, all the juice from these small initial pressing stations and they would take it and bring it into one large facility to ferment it, make wine out of it, and do whatever they want to do, which, which to this day usually means selling most the finished wine to the large houses. But remember at this point you now had farmers, organized in large groups, starting to make wine themselves. Naturally they started to market wine themselves, although still very few of them have been noticeably successful. The best known “super co-op” probably is Centre Vinicole who produces the brand Nicolas Feuillatte.

JM: Totally. Feuillatte has to be by far the biggest of, let’s say the “co-op brands.”

FP: Yes and they are by far the biggest “super co-op” in terms of size – They are the sum of 80 smaller co-ops. There are some other super co-ops – You have one in Chateau Thierry, they produce the brand Pannier. There’s also Union Auboise, a super co-op based down South in the Aube who produces the brand Devaux. Then there’s Jacquart. Does that ring a bell?

JM: Yeah, absolutely. And this is where De Saint Gall comes in?

FP: Precisely. This leaves us with the super co-op of Union Champagne, better known as the brand De Saint Gall, they are larger than all of the aforementioned “super co-ops” with the exception of Center Vinicole Nicolas Feuilatte, but what is interesting about De Saint Gall is that they pretty much control the entire high end sector of the Champagne market.

JM: (laughter) And this is where the story gets crazy. Please elaborate for everyone …

FP: As you may know, Champagne is is classified not unlike say Bordeaux or Burgundy with Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and then “normal” appellation, and the Grand Crus are very, very premium products that everyone’s trying to get because the quality of Grand Crus really is a considerable step above even Premier Cru. Now De Saint Gall on its own handles 50 percent of all Grand Crus vineyard land in Côte des Blancs

JM: Amazing.

FP: It is absolutely amazing. There is nothing like it in Champagne and they have grower/members in all of the Grand Cru villages…I believe there are about twelve of them. They have dozens of vineyards and a dozens of members in each of those villages. If you take the most famous of the Grand Cru villages it is probably Mesnil, a place revered for its Chardonnay. I believe De Saint Gall owns and farms around 50 percent of the total appellation of Mesnil. That’s insane. It’s absolutely insane.

JM: As far as cooperatives go this would have to be the wealthiest example in the world. My notes are showing 615 hectares of Grand Cru vineyard land, 615 hectares of Premier Cru vineyard land, and 135 hectares of “mere mortal” unclassified vineyard land. You compare that to the only other large “super co-op,” Feuillatte, who has 2,500 hectares total, but there is hardly any Premier Cru in that and almost zero Grand Cru. It’s all unclassified. So yeah, I mean that’s just a staggering situation there …

FP: It is, especially when you know Champagne very well and then you realize this is monolithic. De Saint Gall is, they are really the kings of premium Champagne and in this US market which continues to trade up, this is an enviable position to be. So they are, I mean, all the houses are…Can I use obscene language? JM: Sure

FP: Most of the houses who are buying wine from, De Saint Gall, you know, their buyers would give their left testicle to and get more Premier Cru juice.

JM: (laughter) You’re talking about, you’re talking about these leading producers … you’re talking about many of the famous names ?

FP: Yes every one of them. If you want high end Champagne, if you want to make a super-premium Champagne, you cannot make it without Grand Cru. You cannot make it without Grand Cru Chardonnay. And who farms, ferments, and supplies the majority of that? It’s De Saint Gall.

JM: Nobody else has that control. I mean it’s all dependent on the prices De Saint Gall sets and who they choose to make wine available to …

FP: It is staggering and actually you mentioned price, they don’t even discuss price. It’s a little bit like OPEC. They set the price and for example, their Grand Crus are usually about 40 percent over market

JM: Wow.

FP: So they control the market with Premier Cru and dominate the market in Grand Cru, and over time they have invested in holding reserve wines. So, now, in itself that is pretty easy. In Champagne, with the high acidity present, it is easy to store wine if you have the right equipment, the right tanks. De Saint Gall has reserve wine for sale in tank going back to the 2002 vintage, and this is basically all Premier Cru and Grand Cru Cote des Blancs Chardonnay. So a house that is looking for some older Grand Cru Chardonnay for its blends will almost always be calling De Saint Gall. Because as I said, you need great base wines present in the blend of any super premium Champagne, you also need some of this base wine to have age. I would say De Saint Gall is sitting on easily a couple of million liters of reserve wines.

JM: Wow.

FP: Those wines are like gold because no one else has this sort of stock and it’s actually pretty amazing to see how they are stored. It’s really an amazing sight when you have rows and rows of polished seamless tanks all full of Grand Cru and Premier Cru chardonnay. So that is what they do at De Saint Gall and that’s what they’ve always done. They are the premier supplier of high end wines to the Champagne trade.

JM: All these houses. You’re talking all these, all these, you know, all the “luxury” cuvees that everybody knows in the market. A decent chunk of what’s in each of those bottles is coming out of this facility from these growers.

FP: It depends on the wine, but essentially yes. And the higher you go in terms of premium, the more you need De Saint Gall to provide you with it and the more this is the case. Because you couldn’t find enough. I mean, as I said, to make high level Champagne you need Grand Cru material from the Cotes de Blancs. Grand Cru Cotes de Blancs Chardonnay is a rare animal to begin with, you know, it is the rarest of the rare, and they have two thirds of all of it. So you know they’re sitting pretty and, obviously they know it.

JM: They must be killing it. Why then, at this moment, are they making a push to start promoting and selling their own wines?

FP: Well, you have to be honest here. The co-ops’ farmers are very good vineyard managers. Their winery facilities and winemakers are on par with all the elite names. But historically they have always been weak as far as marketing goes. They are rather new to it.

JM: This makes sense considering we have farmers electing the cooperatives leadership and marketing in an industry dominated by some of the most prolific marketers on the planet.

FP: (laughter) These guys don’t like suits. But as I said, this is now changing as the bigger coops, not just De Saint Gall but also the others, they are beginning to feel a little uneasy with the big houses because they’re worried that because of the marketing power of the big houses, that it may come to a situation whereby the cooperative becomes dependent on them. If that were to become the case the houses would become the dominating element in any price discussion. Are they right about this? Personally I think they should be careful not to kill the goose with the golden egg because of course they sell their wines and sometimes very good wines to these guys, to the houses. But the houses have contributed way more to the image and the fame of Champagne than anyone else. The image of Champagne is made by the houses it’s not made by the co-ops, yet …

JM: Yet …

FP: The identity of Champagne, I mean for the buyer, for the mainstream consumer is with the big names. Sure. They are a little antsy, thinking hey these guys are getting really, really powerful. You have to keep in mind that a group like LVMH, they control about 25 percent of the market. That’s a lot. LVMH – The group is so big that they probably couldn’t buy other houses because they’d end up creating an issue with the EU competition authorities. So they are very big. And so that’s why De Saint Gall is now starting to become more professional about their own business about their own sales because obviously, you know, they have the product and they are some of the few who have the money to do it because you know, producing champagne is a very capital intensive business. You pretty much work with the most expensive grapes in the world, which you have to pay for cash on the barrel head, and then you have to keep this stuff for three years before you can sell it. That’s pretty capital intensive. Um, so, for De Saint Gall anyway, for them that is not an issue. They have the product, they have the capital, logistically they have the people to do it, and they’ve now hired amazing people to handle the sales and marketing side of the business.

JM: Yes – Incredible people with gorgeous packaging to match. De Saint Gall is obviously a new brand for everyone and will take some work for sommeliers and retailers, but we know the market is there. The RM versus NM debate is essentially over (i.e. nowadays people simply want great wine regardless of whether or not it comes from a grower, a cooperative, or a house) and I’ve never seen the sort of ‘trading up’ with Champagne the way we are seeing it now. Wine lovers want to experience more and they’re happy to spend $60, $70, $100, even $150 on elite examples from the region.

FP: And more often than not this now means Blanc de Blancs Champagne specifically. We are beginning to see Blanc de Blancs Champagne everywhere now, it is moving off lists and shelves, and at high prices. A typical wellmade Blanc de Blancs Champagne has a lot of nuance and it generally contains grapes coming from many different areas rather than one singular plot. Of course the best grapes come from the Cotes de Blancs where you have, you know, villages like Mesnil, like Avize, like Cramant, like Oger. So we’re seeing a lot of good things happening there. And Blanc de Blancs has always been the favorite choice in Champagne itself. You ask a guy in Champagne what he drinks and chances are he’ll say Blanc de Blancs. It’s dry. It’s light. It can be dry to the point of austere. It’s not as easy to make as say an ordinary blend (nowhere to hide), but you can get stunning results with it. Farming techniques have come a long way in recent years and for the houses there’s a lot of good wine that you can purchase, and use, for Blanc de Blancs. Nowadays a lot of people are making a Blanc de Blancs as opposed to the past when they’d blend their Chardonnay with everything else. The rise of interest in Blanc de Blancs production and consumption is probably what I would say at the moment is the biggest thing happening in Champagne.

JM: And this is where De Saint Gall fits in with perfect timing as they own more Grand Cru vineyard land in the Cote des Blancs than everyone else combined, own a similar proportion of Premier Cru Cote des Blancs vineyard land, and specialize in classical, terroir-driven Premier Cru and Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs bottlings.

FP: Exactly. Everyone needs to taste this stuff. Compare it, compare what the price tag is, and with that people will inevitably load their stores, restaurant lists, and personal cellars. And beyond the obvious quality is really a very interesting story, completely unique to the industry. I find it all very exciting and it’s a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved.

INCOMING WINES – CHAMPAGNE DE SAINT GALL

NV Selection Brut | $40 SRP

NV Tradition 1er Cru Brut | $45 SRP

NV Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru Brut | $45 SRP

NV Rosé 1er Cru Brut | $57 SRP

NV Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut | $57 SRP

2012 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Millesime Brut | $65 SRP

2004 Orpale Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs | $125 SRP

Frank is gushing about 2017 Burgundies from barrel

By |2019-01-15T22:53:48+00:00September 26th, 2018|Burgundy, France, Travel Report|

Some of you have been lucky enough to meet our friend and colleague Frank Poot over the years.  Now 68 years young, Frank started his long and storied wine career in a somewhat atypical way, working as a young commercial truck driver transporting tulips from his native Holland to all corners of France.  Frank never considered a day complete without settling into whatever was the typical cuisine of the region he found himself in, and he invariably accompanied this food with a few glasses of regional wine.  Frank soon started taking his tulip truck on detours to stock up on wines he particularly enjoyed, and Frank’s contagious personality meant that he soon had forged friendships with winegrowers across France.

This activity quickly turned into selling wine to friends, which turned into Frank co-founding the Bordeaux negociant Vintex in the mid-1980’s (an iconic firm still thriving to this day and our top supplier in the region).  Frank’s efforts at Vintex led him and our late Founder Mike Temple to meet.  In time Frank sold his shares in Vintex, created Poot Agenturen (now one of Europe’s leading wine distributors), and he and Mike went on to share their travels, producer portfolios, and vacations over what was a pretty incredible thirty year friendship.  After Mike Temple’s untimely passing in 2015, Frank stepped in to formally become Grape Expectations’ eyes and ears in Europe. Frank’s radar for talent, culture, and value is second to none. Every morning I feel blessed that we have this opportunity to work with him.

Without further ado, below are Frank’s trip notes from what was a fast and furious junket!

Northern Chablis, 9/21/18

Interesting experience tonight.  I’m on my way to Fèvre et Fèvre and since they could only see me tomorrow morning I decided to leave early and spend the night in the area.  It so happened that Chablis was booked solid and I ended up in a small, rural village, called Ligny-le Châtel at the very North end of viticultural Chablis.  The establishment, Le Relais Saint Vincent (relais usually indicates a place where coaches changed horses and passengers ate and drank.  As it is along the old road from Troyes to Auxerre it seems to fit), is pretty old, but clean and comfortable.  It is run by a guy who got tired of his well paid job at the RATP ( Parisian public transportation system) and decided in 2008 to do something else.  He ended up with an old hotel-restaurant in the boonies (how deep can a man fall…).  The restaurant is actually pretty good with some of my old favorites like Jambon Persillé and Andouillette de Chablis.  The wines were remarkable (I’m getting there). They had a straight Chablis 2016 by the glass from Yvon Vocoret, a local grower and probably related to the Vocorets in Chablis (big time producers). Easy style, but very dry and typical.

For red I had Irancy 2015 from Richoux which they served by the glass at € 5,50 or a half bottle at € 22 ( which I had). Astonishing wine, dark, young, tight, full-bodied and more spice than I have ever seen in a PN.  Above all, very earthy.  For cheese I had Chaource and Soumaintrain ( ëpoisses like}, both local and showing very well (Isn’t September such great time of the year for cheese?!?).  The combination of the cheeses with the Irancy was astonishing, both the cheese and the wine have very earthy characters and seem to be made to go together.  So, are we then talking about terroir or earthiness, or both???

Domaine Nathalie and Gilles Fèvre (aka Fèvre Fèvre), 9/22/18

Nathalie and Gilles Fevre have some 120 acres total, mostly in Chablis and Fourchaume.  State-of-the-art winery.  Owned and run by Gilles and Nathalie along with daughter Julie.   Nathalie is the winemaker (she was La Chablisienne’s winemaker for twelve years).  Availability is very good, they still sell grapes/must to a handful of top echelon names, whom we will keep un-named!

Harvest 2018 just finished – It started early on Sept. 3 and ended Sept. 27.  Winter and spring were quite wet, perfect water table.  Growing conditions were just perfect, but also bizarre this year.   Summer very warm and very dry, it is raining a bit today as I write this, but they did not get much at all through the summer.  There was some drought stress, but less than what could be expected, so the ripening went well.  Diseases that plagued Southern France were all but absent in the North.  Production is very big and of very good quality, not unlike in Champagne.  I tasted some fermenting wines, they are very concentrated and rich, if the acidities hold up this could be a vintage like 1990 or 1982, the best in recent history.

The 2017’s showed very well. Overall the wines are balanced, round and complete with the typical Chablis salinity, minerality and tension. They will age well, but can easily be drunk young.  Chablis, fresh, round, more saline than mineral.

Fevre Fevre 2017 Chablis “Fourchaume,” tighter, finer, more mineral.
Fevre Fevre 2017 Chablis “Monts de Milieu” (1er Cru next to the Montée de Tonnerre), fuller, more concentration and acidity.
Fevre Fevre 2017 Chablis “Vaulorent” (1er Cru next to Les Preuses), 15% wood, some new. Abundant fruit, young still, elegant.
Fevre Fevre 2017 Chablis “Les Preuses,” this is in another league, 30% wood, some new. Young, tight, concentrated, crisp.

Very good delivery here at every level.  This vintage is clearly better and more typical than 2016, especially in Chablis and Fourchaume.  However, I tasted prior vintages of Fourchaume and Preuses (2016), and both were outstanding.  The following 2017’s are reserved for us – Chablis 3,000; Fourchaume 300, more possible; Monts de Milieu 120; Vaulorent 300; Preuses 2016  120.

Domaine Dauvissat-Camus, 9/24/18

Vincent Dauvissat is a very kind, serious and soft spoken person, and runs the estate with his son Ghislain.  We tasted 2017 vintages from barrel.  Most wines are tank-fermented and than put in barrel, mostly older.  Annually only a few new barrels are used for barrel fermentation.  All wines receive their aging in small wood barrels.  Everything is traditional here and I don’t have a clue what makes these wines so great.  Yields are somewhat lower than average, but generally not really low.  These wines are stunning, very pure and typical and true to their respective origins. They are sculpted thoroughbreds.

Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Petit Chablis, concentrated for the ac, tight, but pleasant.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis, more complex and saline, tension.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis “Sechets,” dry and austere, nervous.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis “Vaillons,” more fruit and fat.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis “Forets,” shy, fresh, typical.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis “Preuses,” other dimension, powerful, complex, finesse and tension.
Domaine Dauvissat Camus 2017 Chablis “Clos,” fatter, but also drier, salinity, mineral.

They all have the typical minerality, salinity and tension of Chablis, but very balanced by the fruit.  2017 is a vintage that will be lovely young. I think it will age well.  I have rarely tasted a finer set of wines.  Veronique, the office manager, will do the allocations in December, or so. No idea how much we will get, but they are very loyal.  They have not taken on new customers for many years in order to maintain allocations for existing clients.  

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur, 9/23/18

2018 Harvested 9/3 -9/17 under ideal conditions.  They did not receive the two-day heat spike that Chablis got.  They also had more rain during the growing season.  Wines were too young to taste, but the winery smelled nice.  Some hail damage, up to 20% in some areas, but this was pretty much compensated elsewhere.

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Aligoté, fresh, crisp, balanced, good acidity.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits “16th Gen,” fuller, more spice, long.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits “Huguettes,” sone new wood, classy.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 SLB, finer, fuller, more new wood.

By October the above will all be bottled.

Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits Rouge “16th Gen,” a little closed, good fruit.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits Rouge “Hugettes,” more austere and tight.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Santenay Genets, elegant, new wood , flavor.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Volnay, lighter in color, finesse elegant, charm.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Pommard, similar, more powerful.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Nuits Saint Georges “Juliens,” light color, good fruit, structure.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Fixin “Chapitre,” extremely dark for PN, all about power, fat and tannin, a monster.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Nuits Saint Georges “Crots,” dark, fine.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Nuits Saint Georges “Poulettes,” fine again, longer.
Domaine Guy & Yvan Dufouleur 2017 Nuits Saint Georges “Perriere,” dark, powerful.

Virtually all these reds were somewhat reductive, which is normal at this stage. They will get a last racking before bottling later this year.  It makes tasting a little difficult, but I actually like it as it is a natural protection in the wine.  2017’s are rather soft and balanced and will be drinking beautifully young.  Very consumer friendly wines, white as well as red. It’s all there in this vintage, but it’s not 2010 or 2015, more a slightly lighter edition of 2009.  Dufouleur offers great value again!

Domaine R. Dubois & Fils, 9/25/18

Very interesting visit, a lot happening here.  Harvest situation similar to Dufouleur, obviously, as both have vineyards in the same areas.  Very happy with his 2018’s although he worried a little bit about low acidities. This could be the hallmark of the vintage, but it’s too early to tell.  Malic acid levels are low, so it will remain to be seen what’s left after the ML fermentation.  They started in 2017 with 30% whole-cluster fermentation for some wines, in 2018 they have done this with most of the premium wines and with 30-50% whole bunch. From what I saw in some of the 2017’s this is a beneficial method for the domaine.

Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Aligoté, rich an creamy, full and soft.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Coteaux Bourguigonnes (chardonnay), more complexity and flavor.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Hautes Cotes de Beaune Blanc very nice, some wood, a “little Meursault”. great value.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc, more fruit and finesse, quite different from the 
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Cotes de Nuits Villages Blanc, rich and fat, more wood, good balance.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Nuits Saint Georges Blanc (new), even richer, ton of white fruit, very nice (it is actually from 1er Cru soil, but he finds the vines too young to call it that).

The above are a great set of rich, soft, charming wines that will drink very well young and a little older.

Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Bourgogne Rouge VV, quite stunning, good color, great Pinot fruit.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Hautes Cotes de Nuits Rouge, less color, more austere, needs some time.Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Savigny lès Beaune Rouge, lighter color, good flavor and long.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Beaune Rouge, good color, wood a bit dominant, needs time.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Volnay, good color and fruit, finesse.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Cotes de Nuits Villages Rouge, ample, fat, more masculin.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Chambolle, very reductif, but seems very good.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Vosne, top, good color, very long (vineyard just below Echezeaux)
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Nuits Saint Georges Rouge, full, powerful.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Savigny les Beaune Rouge “Narbantons,” concentration, sweet.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Nuits Saint Georges Rouge “Argillières,” concentrated, sweet, soft.
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Nuits Saint Georges Rouge “Pôrets,” more power, bigger wine
Domaine R. Dubois & Fils 2017 Clos Vougeot, big, brooding, dark, great wine

Good stuff overall.

Louis Picamelot 9/25/15

Eye opening visit with Proprietor Philippe Chautaurd.  Founded in 1926 by the grandfather of Chautard.  They have 40 acres all over Burgundy, but most wine/must is bought from contract growers.  Capacity 400K  bottles, in a brand new winery/cellar in Rully.  These Cremants are made like Burgundy wine, with Burgundy varietals, from small plots, fully authentic, consequently all vintage-dated.  To me this is absolutely unique, I don’t think there’s any other producer like it. “Crémant de Terroir”, if you will, a great sales pitch for Sommeliers to make on the floor to tables!    All wines are made by Champagne Method, very much like Champagne, bottled in March, long bottle ageing, at least 18 months.  Dosage is low, mostly 6.75 or lower.  All rather dry, fresh and crisp.

Picamelot 2014 Cremant de Bourgogne “Terroir” (which we carry), 40 Chard / 30 Pinot / 30 Aligote, dry, fresh, young. Very good indeed.
Picamelot 2015 Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé, 100% PN, aromatic, dry, noble.
Picamelot 2014 Cremant de Bourgogne “Bio,” 100% PN, aromatic again, dry, ripe.
Picamelot 2014 Cremant de Bourgogne “Blanc de Blancs,” Chardonnay/Aligote, a lot of flavor, long.
Picamelot 2014 Cremant de Bourgogne “Blanc de Blancs Reipes,” 100% Chardonnay from Saint Aubin, austere, fine, top.
Picamelot 2013 Cremant de Bourgogne (unnamed barrel aged cuvee), Chard/Aligote, a little ripe for me.

Back labels (EU) are very elaborate, they state vintage, bottling date, blend, disgorgment date, dosage.  We should expand our Picamelot offerings, if you agree let us know or just post a comment!

That is it for now – The next time around I’ll figure out the whole Android photo upload thing and integrate some photo material.

Best,

FP