The hill of Corton looks as majestic as the wines that are born of its soils and facets. Standing freely from the slope, it alone has exposures found almost nowhere else in the Côte d’Or. Perhaps this is why the characteristics captured in bottles from the vineyards of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne are singular and indisputably Grand Cru. As with other great wines of Burgundy, these are the product of a terroir that has the ability to distinctly articulate a tiny spot on earth through the fermented juice of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
Further downslope, on the lower flanks of the hill and into the flat plains are the Premiers Crus and village vineyards of Aloxe-Corton where one can find some of the best red wines for the money within the context of the Côte d’Or. While these wines may not have the royalty of the Grands Crus they certainly have the gravitas. Given the geography, maybe it’s not a coincidence that a good Aloxe-Corton is somewhat reminiscent of a cross between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Beaune.
Husband-and-wife team Maurice and Anne-Marie Chapuis own almost 30 acres of vineyards, many of these on the steep slopes of the Corton hillside. Their home and winery are located on the eastern side of the tiny village of Aloxe-Corton along Burgundy’s famous wine route and UNESCO World Heritage site: “Route des Grands Crus.”
Over a century of winemaking knowledge resides in their vineyards and cellars but in the past few years the domaine has enlarged and modernized the winery and they have invested in new equipment and replanting specific plots with more suitable vines. In the vineyards the couple practice “lutte raisonnée” in an effort to keep the winemaking process as natural as possible. All of this hard work and attention to detail shows in a bottle.
All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix-and-match)
The base level village wine of Domaine Maurice Chapuis shows its breeding with excellent fruit concentration and complex textures. A candidate for short to medium-term cellaring.
~$71 Aloxe-Corton (Premier Cru)
An assemblage of four different Premier Cru vineyards: Valozières, Vercots, Guérets, and Fournières. More power and intensity than the village wine hence a longer developmental arc.
$108 Corton-Languettes (Grand Cru)
The soil of Corton-Languettes is slightly sandy which results in a wine with plenty of fruit, yet light and elegant. On the official ballerina to fullback scale of wine, this tends toward ballerina.
$108 Corton-Perrières (Grand Cru)
The Perrières vineyard is located just below the Corton-Languettes but the soil, composed of red clay and stone, is completely different. The result is more heft and muscularity when compared to Languettes.
$153 Corton-Charlemagne (Grand Cru)
From friable rock soil where calcareous marl dominates, Corton-Charlemagne is high drama in the glass. One of the finest expressions of Chardonnay in the world, only wines from the Grands Crus of Chablis and Montrachet can compare.
Château Palmer “Alter Ego” (Margaux 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $624 ($104/bottle)
Classified as a “Third-Growth” estate, Château Palmer is recognized as one of the top wines in Bordeaux. Only the “First-Growth” estate of Château Margaux has more renown in the appellation, and not by a large measure.
Château Palmer’s second wine “Alter Ego” is produced by the same team and from the same vineyards as the top wine of Château Palmer. It has the distinction and character of Palmer but is produced to be consumed much earlier than the estate’s top wine. The 2015 vintage for “Alter Ego” was close to ideal. A blend of 52% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot, the grapes reached a level of aromatic complexity and ripeness that rivals or exceeds the previous three excellent Bordeaux vintages of 2005, 2009, and 2010. Merlot as the dominant grape variety allows for a wine of intense fruit that is supple, fresh, juicy, and ready to drink now with the potential to develop over the course of the next decade.
Château Palmer was established in 1814 by the English general, Charles Palmer, on his way back from the Peninsular War where he had fought with Wellington against Napoleon. Yet the property is much older than its 200 years with Palmer’s name. The vineyards were originally part of a much larger estate belonging to Château d’Issan dating back another few centuries.
Today, the vines of Château Palmer cover a surface of 128 acres of “Garonne gravel” and are planted to 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. Investment in the vineyards and winemaking facilities is ongoing. The vat rooms and storage were entirely refurbished in 1995. Since then, they have added 42 temperature-controlled, conical-shaped, stainless steel vats that were designed to provide the vinification on a parcel by parcel basis, allowing for more precision in the wine making. Major renovations also took place in 2010, including a complete modernization of the grape reception area, the vat rooms and barrel cellar.
Château Palmer (Margaux 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $2,394 ($399/bottle)
Classified as a “Third-Growth” Château Palmer consistently outperforms its ranking and is considered as one of the world’s finest wines. The 2015 vintage blend is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. Everything that makes a great Bordeaux wine can be found in a bottle of Château Palmer. It is bursting with complex aromatics of violets, dried roses, earth, leather, and spice. Full-bodied and rich, this wine personifies elegance. In a proper cellar this wine can develop into the year 2070. The 2015 vintage of Château Palmer received 98 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
Cousin to Vicomte Liger-Belair of La Romanée fame, in 2001 Thibault Liger-Belairtook over storied family property in Nuits-Saint-Georges, reclaiming vineyards which had been contracted out to various share croppers and creating a new domaine under his own name. The properties include some of the most hallowed vineyards in Burgundy: The Grands Crus of Richebourg and Clos de Vougeot, as well as over a quarter of all acreage in the Premier Cru of Les Saint-Georges – one of the few vineyards in modern-era Burgundy to be considered for promotion to Grand Cru.
Thibault is a reflective winemaker who continually studies his own methods and is not averse to adjusting techniques. He aims for each and every one of his wines to distinctly express their terroir. The vines are cultivated using biodynamic practices. He maintains that the work in the vineyards is done to awaken the soil and its terroir by encouraging the roots to go deeper in search of nourishment. A good example of Thibault’s exhaustive attention to detail is the sourcing of wood for his barrels. He will go so far as to sort barrel staves based on the side of the tree they came from, as the grain of the wood can be tighter or looser depending on its proximity to the sun during the tree’s lifetime.
All of this effort results in wines of purity and finesse that aim to both fully express the beauty of the fruit and speak deeply of the land they come from.
Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair “Deux Terres” (Bourgogne Gamay 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $178 (~$30/bottle)
Bourgogne Gamay became a new regional appellation as of the 2011 vintage. The Gamay grapes must come exclusively from the Beaujolais Crus but can also include Pinot Noir from regional appellations. The blend changes in each year depending on the quality of the vintage. For warm and sunny 2015, Cuvée “Deux Terres” (meaning the two lands) is produced from 70% Gamay out of the Beaujolais Crus, 40% Moulin-à-Vent, 20% Chenas, 10% Saint Amour, with the addition of 30% Pinot Noir, 20% Bourgogne AOC and 10% Hautes Côte de Nuits. The result is a wine of joyful fruit expression that never comes across as simple. It has fresh, ripe red fruit in abundance and all the purity you expect of a Thibault Liger-Belair offering.
Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair “Les Charmes” (Bourgogne Blanc 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $167 (~$28/bottle)
“Les Charmes” is 100% Chardonnay from multiple parcels all from the village of Mâcon-Lugny located in the southern Burgundy region of Mâconnais. The village borders Mâcon’s heralded Viré-Clessé to the west and exhibits the same characteristics you expect from those exceptional terroirs. Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel vats for the purpose of producing a wine that is crisp and clean with aromatic notes of sweet orchard blossoms and ripe yellow fruit. On the palate the ripe fruit persists with the telltale Mâconnais fruit medley of peach and pineapple.
The brothers Philippe and Thierry Germain have relatively short but storied winemaking careers in France’s Loire Valley. Thierry arrived first. Raised in Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, at the family winery of Château Yon-Figeac, Thierry set out on his own in 1991 at the tender age of 23 to make his name in the more challenging climate of northern France at Domaine des Roches Neuves in Varrains. Although receiving accolades nearly from the start, his winemaking style has gone through several stages over the years, ultimately eschewing big new oak and blowsy fruit for precision and sense of place, and eventually becoming known as one of the elite producers in the Loire. Indeed, his biodynamically farmed Saumur Champigny wines have set a new standard.
A few years after Thierry moved north his father Bernard came into the Layon area and bought Château de Fesles, Château de la Guimonière, and Château de la Roulerie from the famous master pâtissier Gaston Lenôtre. Eventually only the ancient Château de la Roulerie, whose origins date back to the 11th century, remained in the family and in 2004 Thierry’s brother Philippe took over the estate and oversaw a renovation of the cellars. Philippe is steering Château de la Rouleriein a similar direction as his brother’s domaine a few miles to the east.
We are pleased to offer a selection of everyday wines from the two brothers that are produced following the same standards that are applied to their domaine wines. From Thierry we present two red wines using fruit from trusted growers in the appellation of Saumur Champigny. With Philippe’s Cep by Cep wines we can taste both the fleshy white of Coteaux de Layon and the dry Cabernet Franc of Anjou, also made with fruit sourced from trusted growers in the respective appellations.
Thierry Germain Cuvée “Thierry Germain” (Saumur Champigny 2016)
Special 6-pack price: $129 (~$22/bottle)
100% Cabernet Franc from the small enclave of Saumur Champigny on the left bank of the loire. This is a wine made for happy funtime patio drinking.
Thierry Germain Cuvée “Soliterre” (Saumur Champigny 2016)
Special 6-pack price: $151 (~$25/bottle)
Another 100% Cabernet Franc with a touch more gravitas. The tuffeau limestone of Saumur Champigny produces one of the worlds finest expressions of Cabernet Franc.
Cep by Cep “Anjou Rouge” (Anjou 2017)
Special 6-pack price: $118 (~$20/bottle)
100% stainless steel fermented and aged Cabernet Franc from the dark schist soil on the southeast edge of the Massif Armoricain.
Cep by Cep “Coteaux du Layon” (Coteaux du Layon 2017)
Special 6-pack price: $145 (~$24/bottle)
100% barrel-aged Chenin Blanc from the schisty hillsides of Coteaux du Layon where this grape variety can reach thrilling heights of expression.
Domaine des Roches Neuves Cuvée “Mémoires” (Saumur-Champigny 2015)
Special 6-pack price: $372 (~$62/bottle)
Stephan Reinhardt called Thierry Germain’s Cuvée Mémoires “a stunning wine and one of the finest Cabernet Francs on planet wine.” From a 1.7 acre vineyard in the commune of Dampierre sur Loire with vines planted in 1904. Soils are silex scree and Turonian limestone. 100% de-stemmed fermentation before 12 months aging in 2,500L foudre and then six months in bottle. Packed with fresh, vibrant fruit and a haunting minerality this wine will develop in a proper cellar for years if not decades to come. Stock up now before they reach the cult status/price of Saumur Champigny’s most recognized producer, Clos Rougeard.
While our idea of a “dream cruise” would be a leisurely couple of weeks touring Europe we’re staying in town and watching the local spectacle from our front row seats at the corner of Woodward and 14 Mile Road. No need to worry about finding a parking space as we’ll have plenty of reserved parking, for our customers only, with easy access from both westbound 14 Mile Road and northbound Woodward.
Stop by to taste a few fantastic Spanish wines and enjoy 15% off any Spanish wine in the shop. It will be an ideal time to replenish the cellar, grab yourself a special bottle that has developed with some age, or just stock up on everyday wines for the holiday weekend.
John Radford, author of The New Spain, made the claim that Spanish wine is more vibrant, happening, and fascinating than it has ever been. We could not agree more.
Although Elie Wine Co. is first and foremost a French wine shop, we are fiercely proud of our thoughtful selection of Spanish wines that include everything from inexpensive, easy-drinking wines to cellar-worthy, world-class wines. It’s a selection with an emphasis on small producers that control the winemaking process from vineyard to bottle and covers major winemaking regions from Catalunya to Galicia. Here is but a small sample:
Raventós i Blanc is one of the few producers of Spanish sparkling wine that grows, tends and harvests their grapes from their own property, ferments and vinifies their wines, and then sells them under their label. To borrow a phrase from Champagne, one can truly consider them a Récoltant Manipulant (Grower Producer). Raventós i Blanc is Champagne know how and innovation imbued with Catalan spirit and terroir. The Raventós i Blanc rosé “de Nit” (~$25) is a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada with the addition of a small amount of red Monastrell for complexity and to give the wine its pale pink color. Creamy, with aromatics of flowers, orchard fruits, and almonds, we suggest drinking this sparkling wine from a white wine glass to experience everything it has to offer.
Coto de Gomariz winemaker Xosé Lois Sebio is one of the most admired and exciting names in Galicia. He employs both organic and biodynamic viticulture practices in the vineyards and all wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts. Shisteous, granitic and sandy soils, steep slopes, tiny yields, a unique microclimate, and the farming of the native red and white grapes of the region has allowed Coto de Gomariz to produce some of the most distinctive and expressive wines in Ribeiro. Try the titular white of Coto de Gomariz (~$23) composed mainly of Treixadura for a wine with heady aromas of honey-dipped quince, dusty pastoral lanes, and wildflower meadows in bloom.
Third generation vigneron Rafael Alonso is one of the pioneer winemakers of southern León. Viñedos y Bodegas Pardevalles, his family’s vineyards and 300 year old cellars, are situated in northwestern Spain at around 2,400 feet in elevation where the uncommon and indigenous black-skinned grape variety Prieto Picudo thrives in the extreme microclimate around the River Esla. Pardevalles “Gamonal” (~$19) is highly aromatic with fleshy bright fruit and good acidity. Aged for one year in 225 liter neutral oak barrels, you might compare “Gamonal” to a Cru Beaujolais from a vintage that easily achieved full ripeness (and then some). While it’s a joyous wine full of bursting berries up front it shows a more serious side with a concentration and a pure, lengthy finish.