Wine Offerings

Tracing Jurassic Treasures: Diverse Soil and Grape Varieties Produce Boundless Shades and Styles in France’s Jura Mountains. (7-Bottle Package $229)

Jordan Nodel, a treasured patron, perfectly summarized one of this week’s package offerings, Domaine Rolet’s 2018 ‘Rouge Tradition’: “I really enjoyed this bottle. Stylistically it’s often just what I’m looking for: Something with a slight cherry tartness, lively acidity without being overpowering, and not so serious and imposing a wine that I need to think too much if it’s the right time to open the bottle. I often want to feel like I could be drinking a particular wine in a crowded bar in the Marais as opposed to being served in a stuffy restaurant, and this one fits that mood. I had a glass with roast chicken that had a bit of spice to it, and the pairing still felt balanced enough.”

Whatever you are serving tonight, this week’s wine package will walk you through the meal with an ideal pairing for every course, all from the Jura—one of the most diverse and misunderstood appellations in France.

Long before Spielberg was a gleam in evolution’s eye, the Jurassic Park of eastern France was producing unique wines from local varieties like Poulsard and Trousseau, both red, and Savagnin (known locally as Naturé), which is responsible for the region’s idiosyncratic Vins Jaunes, or golden wines.

The entire Jurassic era was, in fact, named for tiny Jura; the region’s limestone mountains are representative of the geological developments which occurred around 200 million years ago, and the vine-friendly soil types that predominate here are Jurassic period limestone and marl. About fifty miles north to south, elevations in the appellation vary widely, from the mountainous east, where the topography may reach forty-five hundred feet to the flatter west. The majority of the vines are planted in the Jura are restricted to south-facing slopes in lower-lying land in the west, where the elevation tops out at a thousand feet.

Five distinct AOPs subdivide the Jura; the most important in terms of volume are Arbois and Côtes du Jura, with Crémant du Jura, Macvin and L’Étoile rounding out the quintet.


AOP Macvin du Jura

The most recent region in the Jura to have been granted its own appellation (1991) and the third in France officially recognized as a vin de liqueur. Also called ‘Mistelle,’ such beverages are produced by adding high-strength spirit to unfermented or slightly fermented fruit juice, resulting in a sweet, grapey liqueur, typically between 16 and 22% alcohol by volume. Traditionally served as an aperitif, Macvin is fortified with locally produced Eau-de-Vie de Marc Originaire de Franche-Comté (EDVR), and comes in red, white and rosé, making use of any or all of the Jura’s key grapes—Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau. Fittingly, the name ‘Macvin’ is a portmanteau of marc (a neutral spirit made of grape pomace) and ‘vin’.


AOP Arbois

The Jura’s most prolific sub-appellation, Arbois produces both white wine and rosé in great quantities, but has long staked its reputation on reds—about 70% of the Jura’s red wines are produced under the Arbois name. The 2000 acres under vine also contain zones set aside for sparkling wine (Crémant de Jura) and other plots supply fortified Macvin de Jura under its own AOP.

Arbois is hilly, and so situated that the valley slopes catch the morning sunlight and protect vines from winds. The mesoclimate produced by the geography partially explains the regional emphasis on red wines. The appellation covers 13 communes, among them the small village of Pupillin, which contains a patchwork of ‘climats’ that produce wine of particularly high quality. As such, wines from these sites are sold as Arbois-Pupillin.

This week’s package offering is comprised of Domaine Rolet’s four featured wines. The quantity of each included is indicated in the write-up about the wine for a total of six bottles at $229.


Domaine Rolet


One of the flagship vineyards in the Jura, Domaine Rolet was created in the early 1940s by Désiré Rolet. When his children sold the 150-acre estate, they wanted new owners who would respect the diverse terroirs on which their property sits, in Arbois, Côtes du Jura, L’Étoile and Crémant du Jura. The torch was passed to the Burgundian group Domaines Devillard, owners of Domaine des Perdrix in Nuits-Saint-Georges and Château de Chamirey in Mercurey, along with the families Flambert and Dupuis. In June, 2018, Cédric Ducoté took over the management of Rolet, and upon his arrival, a commitment to organic agriculture culture was initiated—a transformation which continues to this day. Production is respectable at 350,000 bottles per year.

The meal, as interpreted by the wine of Jura:


(Aperitif with White Vin de Liqueur)

1. AOP Macvin du Jura – Multi-Vintage Blanc ($33) (1 Bottle): 100% Savagnin, a small-berried, thick-skinned varietal not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc. A late-ripening grape that can still produce dry white wines with good acidity, Savagnin’s flavor profile is typically citrus and floral with occasional tropical lushness. When blended with locally distilled marc and aged in large oak casks for 24 months, the vin de liqueur takes on a heavy amber color and shows exotic and unctuous notes of orange zest, quince and dried apricot.

 

 


(Starter Course with Oxidative White)

2. AOP Arbois – 2012 Arbois Vin Jaune ($60) (1 Bottle 375 ml): An entirely unique Savagnin personality is uncovered in Vin Jaune, a labor-intensive wine aged under a flor-like cover of yeast. The resultant rich wines are known for their nutty, Fino Sherry-like character, as well their intensity and a lifespan that can exceed 75 years. Rolet’s incarnation shows intense honeyed-walnut and salted almond notes over a wash of dried apple.

 

 

 


(Main Course with Dry White)

3. AOP Arbois – 2019 ‘Savagnin Ouillé’ ($27) Dry White (2 Bottles): Vin Jaune-styled wine so dominates in the Jura that it is necessary to mention on the label when Savagnin has not been vinified with oxidation. That’s what the word ‘Ouillé’ after ‘Savagnin’ indicates. Grown in grey marl and allowed to fully express its fresh exuberance, this wine is lush and linear, showing spiced mango and ripe peaches behind a mantle of minerality and the region’s characteristic salty notes.

 

 


(Main Course with Dry Red)

4. AOP Arbois – 2018 ‘Rouge Tradition’ ($23) (3 Bottles):Domaine Rolet vinifies the three varietals in this cuvée (40% Poulsard, 30% Trousseau, 30% Pinot Noir) as mono-grape bottlings, but the blend is essential for the flavors of ‘Rouge Tradition’—spicy cherry, tart cranberry, rich and redolent of rose petals. The vines average 40 years and are grown on red marl.

 

 

 

 



ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THIS ICONIC REGION:

AOP L’Étoile

The well-known ‘star’ of the Jura—named for the star-shaped fossils, gryphées, that can be found in the local limestone-rich soils—is minute in size (185 acres) and in the corresponding production of wine, which is rarely seen outside France. L’Étoile’s terroir, on the other hand, is also seen in Chablis, 110 miles to the northwest. As a result, Chardonnay is the favored varietal in L’Étoile, and like Chablis, these wines are notable for their strikingly fresh minerality. Unlike Chablis, however, Savagnin permitted under the L’Étoile appellation and is used to produce the quintessentially local product, Vin Jaune. It is also blended with Chardonnay to make sweet Vin de Paille, which also contains Poulsard, Jura’s key red grape variety, to add complexity and color. Even so, red wines are not produced under the appellation.


Domaine de Montbourgeau


Jean Gros acceded to the head of the family wine business in 1956; thirty years later, in 1986, his daughter Nicole Deriaux joined the business as vigneronne. Today, she is fully responsible for the domain’s operation, and with three sons waiting in the wings, the baton will likely pass between family members for many years to come. The estate is located in the southwestern part of the Jura, in the commune of L’Étoile (‘the star)—a name that pays homage to the starfish fossils found throughout the appellation. Nicole Deriaux farms twenty acres devoted mostly to Chardonnay, with Savagnin sited in six of those acres and Trousseau and Poulsard rounding out the rest.


AOP L’Étoile – 2011 L’Étoile Vin Jaune ($89): Befitting the style, this Vin Jaune is 100% Savagnin grown on blue marl rich in limestone. The wine spends one year in small, neutral oak casks followed by six years in larger hogsheads, allowing for the longer, requisite maturation period. The wine displays quince jam notes sheathed in warm, yeasty lemon curd and resonant acidity. Around 3000 bottles made.

 

 

 

 


AOP L’Étoile – 2017 ($30):95% Chardonnay with Savagnin topping off the blend, this wine originates on the southeastern slopes of L’Étoile, where vines average 40 years. Following malolactic fermentation, it spends up to three years in neutral oak, giving it what may be considered a ‘typical’ Jura profile for Chardonnay, tasting slightly oxidized, although not nearly in the style referred to locally as ‘sous voile’, or ‘under veil’—referring to the yeasty flor that characterizes Vin Jaune. About 20,000 bottles are produced: It is the winery’s mainstay.

 


AOP L’Étoile – 2015 ‘En Banode’ ($39): A field blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin from a single plot of white and blue limestone marl where the vines are fifty years old—the estate’s oldest plantings. At 2300 bottles produced, this wine is highly allocated and is only produced in exceptional vintages.

 

 

 

 

 


AOP Château-Chalon

In terms of output, the Côtes du Jura is the Jura’s largest sub-appellation and produces wines in a rainbow of hues. It encompasses roughly fifteen-hundred acres and 105 communes, stretching for fifty miles between Champagne-sur-Loue in the north to Saint-Amour in the south.

Despite its size, the terroir of the Côtes is quite homogenous, with local bedrock composed of limestone and marlstone and topsoil alternating between scree and sand that is often rich in mineral clays. The cold winters typical of the region favor tall trellising, to keep the vines away from autumn frosts which regularly occur here in early fall. Savagnin grapes are particularly at risk from this phenomenon, as they must remain on the vine until later in the season to achieve the high levels of ripeness required for the production of Vin Jaune


Jean Bourdy


Dating to the 14th century, Caves Jean Bourdy is today run by brothers Jean-Phillipe and Jean-François, the 15th generation of winemakers at the estate. They farm twenty acres in some of the Jura’s most highly regarded terroirs, included a single acre in Château-Chalon—an appellation dedicated solely to the production of Vin Jaune. Jean Bourdy’s current portfolio includes a multitude of wines of the Jurassic styles, from red blends of Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau, whites made of Chardonnay or Savagnin to, of course, their much sought-after Château-Chalon. The Bourdys are also known for their wine library and cellar program which has wines from almost every vintage dating back to 1781.


AOP Château-Chalon – 2006 ‘Vin Jaune’ ($170): Jean-François produces wines that are designed for the long haul; he believes that the semi-continental climate in which he works produces wines that need many years before they can be drunk. Typically, Bourdy wines are held back 4-5 years in barrel before they are released. The Château-Chalon ‘Vin Jaune’ is the jewel upon the crown, made without concession exactly as it was made a century ago. The vineyard is certified biodynamic and composted cow manure from their neighbor’s cows is the only fertilizer used, while vine disease is controlled by a mixture of whey and flower teas. The 2006 Château-Chalon has been described as having ‘one of the most complex noses in all the world of wine.’

 


AOP Côtes du Jura – 2006 Vin Jaune ($140):  A slightly less exclusive Vin Jaune, yet still in the stratosphere of quality—this wine is a rich, unctuous and rare treat for the dinner table. After many years in barrel under the flor veil, considerable evaporation occurs, and what ends up in the Vin Jaune bottle is just 50% of the fruit that was harvested. The wine is soft upon entry with thick apple-butter notes, but puckering and rich with acidity on the finish, leaving flavors of tart melon and lemon skin.

 

 


Climate Change Threatens Wine, and a Way of Life, in Jura

“It is truly a disaster, and people are angry because there is suddenly so much demand, but not enough wine to sell.”

These prophetic words were uttered by Fabrice Dodane of Domaine de Saint-Pierre in Arbois—they capture a cruel reality that has descended upon the Jura just as the wine world is becoming enamored of the idiosyncratic marvels from this minute corner of France: Climate change. The Jura’s semi-continental climate is built around cold winters and dry summers, and the native varietals that have laid the foundation for the Jura’s unique style require these conditions to thrive. Warmer winters play havoc with budburst, causing early blossoming; a frost can destroy an entire harvest overnight. And the fruit lucky enough to survive spring is often struck by outbreaks of mildew as summers see more rain.

The Fruitiere Vinicole Arbois, a collective of 100 wineries, reports a steady decline in Jura’s output since 2017; while the cooperative typically produces around 475,000 gallons of wine after a normal harvest, in 2017, its yield fell to 185,000 gallons and 2021 brought in only 119,000 gallons. “We are living a true crisis in the Jura,” says Gabriel Dietrich, director of the cooperative. “Some winegrowers weren’t even able to harvest this year, because they had nothing.” This has put tremendous pressure on winegrowers to sustain production, and many are struggling to stay afloat. Four revered winemakers ended their lives this year.

To us, this means that these wonderful wines from one of France’s most remarkable and tiniest regions are all the more precious and all the more worth supporting.

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Posted on 2022.01.17 in Jura, Arbois, Macvin du Jra, L'Étoile, Château-Chalon, Macvin du Jura, France, Wine-Aid Packages  |  Read more...

 

Champagne & Food Pairing Notebook: To the Test at Restaurant ‘Bunny Bunny’ in Detroit’s Eastern Market

Notebook

A’Boudt Town


A chronicle of the early history of The New Yorker magazine, Ben Yagoda’s ‘About Town’ recounts a universe inhabited by writerly types perennially sipping something between bouts of literary greatness.

Nabokov favored tawny port while the out-of-print humorist Peter De Vries preferred Piesporter, Joseph Rosenblum notes in his review of the book.

I’m a wine merchant, not a novelist. But the stories locked in the bottles lining the walls of my shop can be just as layered and demanding as the most assertive prose, each one telling of a specific time in history and place in the world.

At Elie Wine Co., we know most of our producers personally, so the stories here go deeper — often to family, tradition, excellence, and craft.

And then there is the story of Champagne, which, both despite and because of its outsized reputation, is today one of the most underappreciated, misunderstood and unfairly pigeonholed regions and classes of wine in the world.

Perhaps because of its long affiliation with European aristocracy, Champagne has been unfairly caged by notions of luxury and opulence that, frankly, don’t apply to many of the humble men and women making the most riveting expressions of it today.

So, let’s first dispel any notions that Champagne must be a luxury item only for special occasions. While it does pair well with celebratory caviar, Champagne can also be the perfect foil for spicy Indian carryout or crispy fried chicken.

In A’Boudt Town, you will find me, Elie Boudt, deepening our understanding of Champagne while having fun with a beverage that immediately elevates any moment.

Future installments of this feature will take you to a diverse range of restaurants around metro Detroit, my home for 40 years, while introducing you to today’s most exciting Champagne producers and their wines.

In the process, we’ll challenge preconceived notions of what Champagne is and can be, and introduce the idea that — despite Champagne’s long history — the best may yet still be ahead.


Champagne & Food Pairing
Restaurant ‘Bunny Bunny’ in Detroit’s Eastern Market


For our first installment of A’Boudt Town, we aimed our sights far beyond what might be thought of as traditional Champagne food — no oysters, no caviar, and no special occasion to celebrate.

It was an otherwise uneventful Wednesday until our casual dinner at Bunny Bunny in Eastern Market, where chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla were previewing a directional shift in their cooking, moving from the by-the-book regional Chinese cuisine they launched with a more personal approach that highlighted Justin’s family roots in northern India in particular.

For our first installment of A’Boudt Town, we aimed our sights far beyond what might be thought of as traditional Champagne food — no oysters, no caviar, and no special occasion to celebrate.

It was an otherwise uneventful Wednesday until our casual dinner at Bunny Bunny in Eastern Market, where chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla were previewing a directional shift in their cooking, moving from the by-the-book regional Chinese cuisine they launched with a more personal approach that highlighted Justin’s family roots in northern India in particular.

Pierre Paillard produces about 7,500 cases a year of Bouzy Champagne and is not to be confused with the much larger producer, Bruno Paillard, which blends across villages in Reims.

We sampled three cuvées from Paillard: the non-vintage, Pinot Noir-dominated ‘Les Parcelles XVI’; the 2014 ‘Les Mottelettes’ Blanc de Blancs, made from single-vineyard old-vine Chardonnay; and the ‘Les Terres Rose XVII,’ a unique Champagne rosé made by adding a small amount of still red pinot noir to the base wine.

At Paillard, Roman numerals on non-vintage bottles indicate the year of the base wine, typically 80% of the blend, lending rare insight into even its blended wines.

All of the wines spend extended time sur lie, and dosage for all is in the extra-brut range.

We opened the ‘Les Parcelles’ first. A 70/30 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this was the broadest-shouldered of the bunch. Citrus-centric and showing dried fruit before its creamy, lingering finish.

‘Les Parcelles’ saline minerality paired exceptionally well with a dish of chilled clams dressed with uni-like globs of vadouvan yogurt and slivers of fresh asparagus lightly marinated in chili oil. Asparagus can be problematic to pair, but the wine overcame this by accentuating the brininess of the dish instead. A welcome start on both fronts.

Generally, ‘Les Parcelles’ aromatized the herbaceous green notes of the cuisine, especially in a vibrant cold chicken dish inspired by Naga-style pork, which includes hunks of fermented bamboo mixed with ginger, mint, and chilis.

‘Les Mottelettes’ was much softer on the palate, as expected of a Blanc de Blancs, but showed much more umami-like characteristics and less citrus than ‘Les Parcelles.’ Incidentally, 2014 was a problematic vintage in Bouzy, with a cold and rainy summer, but that didn’t seem to affect the Chardonnay.

While ‘Les Parcelles’ aromatized the greens in the food, ‘Les Motelletes’ did not, acting almost as a palate volume dial. Its oxidative and autolytic characters allowed the spices to be heard, but the acid kept them in check, even when paired against a dry chili chicken dish studded with tongue-numbing Szechuan peppercorns. Many wines would not hold up, but somehow the pairing here only magnified the fruit characteristics of the wine.

The Rosé was vinous, perfumed and creamy, exhibiting a gentle moelleux. It played very well with one of the standout dishes of the night, a wok-fried tandoori chicken, smokey and slathered in tamarind sauce that recalled Southern American barbecue. The perceived sweetness in the wine brought out the meaty flavors of the fall-apart chicken and stood up to the sweetness in the dish itself.

Somehow, none of the food overpowered any of the wines. And though each served a different purpose, the 2014 Blanc de Blancs was the most dexterous of the bunch despite its more narrow focus. And now we see why Paillard remains committed to Chardonnay in Bouzy.

Still, each of the wines had a texture that was present, a beautiful dance between light and loud. Inherently, when you drink wine with bubbles, it just seems to be light. But there’s an interplay between light and loud that’s brought out by pairing Champagne with the spicy food and the dance here was quite enjoyable. Champagne is high in acid, which tends to cut through fat, salt, and spices, but here it somehow also made the food more vibrant and assertive.

One of the most beautiful aspects of any Champagne is the fact that its very presence elevates any moment, its bubbles lifting even a weekday dinner to its own cause for celebration.

And we certainly celebrated at Bunny Bunny. Even if it was a Wednesday.

Bunny Bunny – 1454 Gratiot Ave, Detroit, Michigan 48207 USA – (313) 974 6122


Champagne, Considered


Champagne is undergoing an attitude renaissance, and much of the evolution is driven by consumers. Throughout the world of still wines, the focus is shifting toward improved agriculture, with organic and biodynamics creating sustainable terroir conditions. Champagne is doing likewise of course, along with promoting grower estates, small houses, reduced dosages and single-vineyard bottlings. But Champagne has long lived inside a rarefied world where much of its mystique was based on perception; its special-occasion aura, if consumers knew about much about the estates themselves, it was generally their ‘house style’—largely the result of winemaking technique. Bollinger spends more time on lees, for example, making it more yeasty in the mouth while Pol Roger allows fruit and floral notes to take the diva role by limiting lees contact. Reductive Champagnes like Salon do not undergo malolactic fermentation whereas oxidative wines, mostly Pinot Noir-based, are often oak aged, and taste rounder and sweeter.

What often gets lost amid the raised flutes and celebratory glitter is that Champagne is, first and foremost, wine, and as such, is highly expressive of its vineyard origins—when the winemakers allow this uniqueness to shine through. House styles have traditionally focused less on a reflective sense of the land on which the grapes were grown, and this is something that contemporary Champagne houses are beginning to explore, exploit, and advertise.

Each of the wines in this package is ‘climat’ specific, meaning that the grapes come from vineyard parcels as designated by the labels. It is a single Champagne house producing a variety of sparkling wines that emphasize—above all—a sense of place. These wines are expressive of various lieux-dits in and around the village of Bouzy; they are all classified as Grand Cru. Bouzy is one of the only 17 Grands Crus of the 320 villages, which make up Champagne’s seven sub-regions. (See Map Here)


Champagne Pierre Paillard
Bouzy – Grand Cru
(Grande Montagne in The Montagne de Reims)


Paillard is a familiar name to fans of Champagne; Maison Bruno Paillard, the Reims-based producer, was founded in 1981 by Bruno Paillard and financed by the sale of Bruno’s Mark II Jaguar. The Bouzy branch of the family (they are cousins) have been at it a bit longer; Antoine Paillard first bought Bouzy vineyards in 1768. Antoine and Quentin Paillard represent the eighth generation in the family and the fourth generation to produce and bottle Champagne under the family name.

Bouzy is renowned for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in Champagne, due in the main to its situation on the south-facing side of the Montagne de Reims, ideal for the difficult to ripen Pinot Noir grape. Nevertheless, unlike most other growers in the appellation, the 25 Paillard acres are planted with 40% Chardonnay, giving their wines both finesse and elegance.

Interestingly, the Paillards exclusively cultivate their own selection of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, without a single clone on the estate, a diverse Selection Massale. Each plot is harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel vats and fermentation is carried out at lower temperatures to retain the aromatics. Each spring, a long process of tasting and blending is undertaken by Antoine and Quentin; the still wine is tasted, marked and discussed until there is consensus on the profile of the vintage. Blind tastings continue until the creation of each final cuvée. In June they are put into bottle for the second fermentation and cellared for a minimum of 3 years and as much as 10 years before being disgorged.

Champagne Pierre Paillard produces five cuvées. Two are non-vintage: Brut Grand Cru, generally a blend of two years and containing 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, and Brut Rosé, with a base of 70% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir, and 7% Bouzy Rouge Pinot Noir. There are three vintage wines—a Blanc de Noirs from a single 0.8-acre parcel called ‘Les Maillerettes’ (planted in 1970), a Blanc de Blancs from a 1.5-acre parcel called ‘Les Mottelettes’ (planted in 1961) and a vintage wine that is only made in the best years and aged for seven to ten years before being disgorged.


A Note on Vintages:

2008: An icy December the previous year led to an even colder January. Below-average temperatures continued into the spring, and it did not warm up until May. But flowering was not affected and some summer outbreaks of oidium and mildew were quickly handled. August was cool, but by the mid-September harvest, the grapes were in perfect health. The vintage proved spectacular and is widely considered to be one of the top two vintages of this century so far.

2014: Dry conditions early got the growing season off to a healthy start, with a successful budburst and flowering were successful. The summer was not so kind, being cool and wet, with only the latter half of August eventually drying out. Although the rain was enough to make rot a concern, cooling breezes fortunately kept it at bay, and a benign September brought warm, dry conditions for ripening the grapes and effectively saving the harvest.

2016: 2016 was a difficult growing season, with early frosts and heavy rains between May and July putting much of the crop at risk. Conditions improved by August, but blistering heat further reduced yields. The grapes that remained were healthy, and overall, the quality was good, with wines displaying rich fruit and some nice acidity.


nv Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Parcelles XVI’ Grand Cru – Bouzy Extra Brut ($57)

(Disgorgement: March 2021, Base Wine: 2016) Produced from 22 individually vinified parcels with their own vineyards, entirely in Bouzy, ‘Les Parcelles’ is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, with 30% reserve wine. It is dosed at 1 gram per liter and has spent a full four years sur-lie prior to disgorgement. It’s an accurate portrait of Bouzy terroir with apple and salty stone-fruit notes. Citrus appears towards the finish, accented with herbs and chalk.

 

 

 


nv Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Terres Roses XVII’ Grand Cru – Bouzy Rosé Extra Brut ($73)

Disgorgement: April 2020, Base Wine: 2017) The delicacy and refinement inherent in this Rosé is the result of the cuvée, 64% Chardonnay, and 36% Pinot Noir vinified white. It’s dosed at 2 grams per liter but is quite dry, making it an ideal companion to shellfish, especially lobster. The nose is yeasty, like freshly baked brioche, and the palate displays a leesy undercurrent along with blood-orange and tangerine flavors before a clean and acidic finish.

 

 

 


2014 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Mottelettes’ Grand Cru – Bouzy, Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut ($93)

(Disgorgement: February 2019) From a miniscule plot of Chardonnay planted in 1961 in the lower part of Bouzy, where the pure chalk lays only twenty inches beneath the topsoil, the wine is pale golden in color with salted almond, apricot, pastry and fresh ginger notes beneath a delicate mousse. Dosage is at 1 gram/liter, with about 3000 bottles produced.

 

 

 

 


2016 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Maillerettes’ Grand Cru Bouzy, Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut ($91)

(Disgorgement: February 2021) ‘Les Maillerettes’ is a single half-acre of old vine Pinot Noir planted in 1970; the calcareous soils are made evident in the wine’s sleek structure and saline complexity. ‘Les Maillerettes’ spent 5 years on lees before disgorgement and is a proud representative of Bouzy Blanc de Noir, full-bodied and fleshy with fruit, especially cherries. Dosage: 1 gram/liter; around 2000 bottles and 122 magnums produced.

 

 

 


2008 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘La Grande Récolte’ Millésime Grand Cru – Bouzy Extra Brut ($99)

(Disgorgement: March 2021) 55% old vine Pinot Noir and 45% old vine Chardonnay from two sites on the south-facing slope of the mountain of Reims. The Pinot Noir comes ‘Les Maillerettes’ and the Chardonnay comes from ‘Les Mottelettes’ and represent the mother vines used for the massal selections made in-house at Champagne Pierre Paillard. Both vineyards are less than an acre in size, and the wine represents the quintessence of house style and terroir. A rare Champagne that may benefit from decanting, ‘La Grande Récolte’ is dosed at 1 gram per liter, and spent 8 years on lees before disgorgement. About 12,000 bottles made

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Posted on 2022.01.08 in Notebook: A’Boudt Town, France, Champagne  |  Read more...

 

Out with the Old: Vintage 2014 ‘Village’ Wines from Burgundy’s Côte-de-Nuits Communes Have Matured into Perfection, Modest Prices

We’ve survived another challenging year, and many of us will gather in smaller groups to ring in 2022. Our selection of 2014 wines represent more than ideal dinner companions – they are the mature culmination of the winemakers’ dream. In Burgundy, 2021 was also difficult, with frost in April and the coldest July in fifty years, but like most of us, domains and négociants are by now familiar with such hazards; according to Frédèric Drouhin, President of the Bourgogne Wine Board, “With the 2021 vintage we are back to a classic style with a lovely expression of fruitiness, balance, freshness, and lower level of alcohol.”

May your new year be as filled with superlatives.

Age before beauty? Not when you can have both. All wines age, but some do it more gracefully than others. When wine is young, it expresses bold, primary flavors, largely fresh fruit and bright flowers. Secondary notes may come from a vigneron’s technique; oak barrels taste of vanilla and malolactic fermentation often strikes the senses as buttery. With proper aging, these flavors begin to settle back to reveal a wine’s tertiary notes, the sign of maturity. These might include honey, dried fruit and rustic, earth-notes like truffles, leather and minerals. There is also a change in the wine’s mouthfeel; white wines may seem more viscous, and reds lose their tannins as these compounds fall out as sediment—another reason for decanting.

For every wine, there is an optimum period in which to experience it, a time when these tertiary flavors have peaked, but while enough fruit remains so that a nuance of freshness enlivens them. After that, a slow decline begins. Wines past their prime may still be delicious, but it’s a little like arriving late for a concert: The music you miss may be the very music you came to hear.

We believe that this selection of ‘Village’ wines from the 2014 vintage have arrived at their destination and represent the apex in this particular vintage. Although they will continue to evolve and change in years to come, ‘perfection’ is a word without qualifiers, and it is our contention that the maturation process in this particular selection has raised a flag on its summit.


Decanting and Aeration

Once opened, wine immediately begins a dynamic process of oxidation, encouraged when you swirl the wine in your glass. (Have you ever had a host top off your glass and wonder if the refill came from the original bottle?) Aeration smooths harsh tannins while swirling dissipates the undesirable volatiles that may have developed inside the bottle as acid and alcohol intermix; the warmth from the room and your hands concentrates the aromatics. For most well-produced wines, a period of ‘acclamation’ is necessary for a freshly uncorked wine to reveal its full potential, and with older wines—those that have been cellared for a number of years—this is especially true. Decanting is aeration on a large scale, where the wine is poured into a second vessel, preferably one with a broad bottom to give the wine more surface exposure to oxygen. Since winery labels and bottle design are part of experience, it’s recommended that the wine be returned to its place of origin before serving.

These wines are best served at cellar temperature, 60 – 64 degrees Fahrenheit.


A Word on the 2014 Vintage

Top estates frequently produce outstanding wines in challenging vintages, and generally for two reasons: A lower per-acre yield produced in difficult years tend to concentrate flavors in the remaining grapes, and in judicious hand—those who invest in intensive sorting—less wine may be bottled, but it comes for the best of the crop. In Burgundy, June 28, 2014, is remembered as the day a ferocious hailstorm decimated vines throughout the Côte d’Or; many growers saw their yields halved over the course of a single hour. The Côte de Beaune took the brunt of the storm, with villages like Volnay, Pommard, Meursault and Beaune being hardest hit. The summer that followed was wet and chilly with a few hot days in July and a miserable August; Pierre Damoy of Gevrey-Chambertin, said, “Given that this was supposed to be an early vintage, the awful weather in August slowed everything down and caused us great anxiety.”

Côte de Nuits was spared much of the hail, but the weather conditions affected the whole of the Côte d’Or. Some late-season rot appeared in the Pinot Noir harvest, but it was dealt with effectively in the vineyard or on the sorting tables. As a result, the best sites delivered excellent wines of minerality, fruit intensity and staying power, and according to Thierry Brouin of Clos des Lambrays in Morey-St-Denis, “2014 turned out to be an excellent vintage, frequently overlooked in the shadow of the phenomenal crop the following year.”



Nuits-Saint-Georges: Muscular & Chewy


Nuits-Saint-Georges—the town in eastern Burgundy from which the Côte de Nuits draws its name, sprawls across 800 acres of Village and Premier Cru vineyards. Production here is almost exclusively red, with 97% of the vineyards planted to Pinot Noir. Of these, there are 41 Premier Cru climats and wines made conforming to the strictest of the Nuits-Saint-Georges appellation rules, may claim the title Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru. The soils in the northern half are made up of pebbly alluvium washed down from slopes, or, where the land is low, silty deposits from the river Meuzin. In the south, the alluvia at the base of the slopes originates in the combe of Vallerots where there are deep marly-limestone soils, while at the top of the slope, the rock is almost at the surface. Vineyard exposures are mostly to the East or South-East.


1. Nuits-Saint-Georges 2014, Domaine Henri Gouges ($95)

Considered by many to be Nuits-Saint-Georges’ top domain, the estate has been passed down through many generations and is, to this day, a family affair, with four Gouges at the helm. Grégory Gouges has been the domain’s winemaker since 2003; Pierre today runs the business end with his cousin Christian, son Grégory, and Grégory’s cousin Antoine. The vineyards cover 36 acres, including seven of the best well-positioned Premiers in addition to the appellation’s most famous vineyards, Les Vaucrains and Les Saint Georges. The ‘Village’ cuvée is produced from the five lieux-dits of Plateaux, Belles Croix, Fleurières, Brûlées, and Chaliots, for a surface area of 5 acres, all located in the southern part of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and at the start of the hillside, on deep soils, with a mixture of clay, alluvium and limestone gravel.


2. Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Aux Saints Jacques’ 2014, Domaine Odoul-Coquard ($65)

Odoul cut his winemaking teeth at Domaine Dujac, Mommessin, and Domaine Denis Mortet. In 2004, he returned to the family domain to join his parents, Sylvette and Thierry, and as of 2009, he took over the estate as vigneron. In all, the family farms 25 acres in 21 different appellations throughout the Côte de Nuits; most notably, they own the majority of the lieu-dit vineyard of Les Crais Gillon in Morey-Saint-Denis. All of their farming is done with ‘lutte raisonée’, a sustainable viticulture practice.

 

 


3. Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Les Fleurières’ 2014, Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron ($70)

The 20 acres that make up Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron are now controlled by Sophie Meunier-Confuron and her husband Alain Meunier, who converted all parcels to organic viticulture in 1990. This includes excellent parcels of Premier Cru and Village vines in Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny and Nuits-Saint-Georges as well as two great Grands Crus, Romanée Saint-Vivant and Clos-Vougeot. The Confurons vinify according to the Burgundian mantra of ‘power without weight’, seeking a depth of flavor balanced by refinement and elegance. ‘Les Fleurières’ is a lieu-dit situated on clay-limestone soils that are ideally suited to Pinot Noir.

 


4. Chambolle-Musigny 2014, Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron ($89)

Another gem from Sophie Meunier-Confuron and her husband Alain Meunier and their organic viticulture. True to Chambolle-Musigny’s reputation, the wine is refined and perfumed with the iconic aromatics that has earned Chambolle-Musigny a reputation as the ‘Volnay’ of the Côte de Nuits. Confuron’s plot in Chambolle-Musigny contains 80-year-old vines, the oldest in the domain, and Alain has consistently ploughed it by horse since 2003.

 

 

 



Gevrey-Chambertin: Gamey & Velvety


The Premiers Crus of Gevrey-Chambertin, including the twin crown jewels of Chambertin and Clos de Bèze, are found beyond the entrance to the hollowed hill of Lavaux; they occupy the upper portion of the Côte at elevations between one thousand and 1200 feet, where the shallow soils are largely composed of shall brown limestone. Below them are the Villages-designated sites, where the vines are grown in brown calcic or limey soils enrichened by the red silt that washes down from the plateau. There is no shortage of quotes about this superlative appellation, summarized by Grégory Patriat, winemaker for Jean-Claude Boisset: “To me, Gevrey-Chambertin is the most interesting appellation in Burgundy. It can reflect finesse while maintaining its strength, and it is here, more than anywhere else, that Pinot Noir reaches its greatest aging potential.”

 


5. Gevrey-Chambertin 2014, Domaine Dominique Gallois ($75)

The soft-spoken Dominique Gallois has been producing wonderful wines from a scant ten acres since 1989. About half is represented by Gevrey-Chambertin Village, ten parcels situated around the village of Gevrey-Chambertin itself. The climats of En Songe, En Jouise, En Billard, En Dérée, Croix des Champs, Sylvie, La Justice, Charreux produce the cuvée, where average vine age is fifty years. Annual production is around 10,000 bottles.

 

 

 


6. Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Évocelles’ 2014, Domaine des Tilleuls (Philippe Livera) ($65)

In 2005, at the age of 24, Damien Livera took over the des Tilleuls estate from his father Philippe and immediately upgraded the winery and renovated the vineyards. He credits advice from Arnaud Mortet, a local legend, in reducing his use of new wood during élevage and lessening the level of extraction. ‘Les Évocelles’ is a 25-acre Village-level lieu-dit in the northeast area of Gevrey-Chambertin, bordering the Premiers Crus of Champeaux to the north and Les Goulots to the south.

 

 


7. Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Clos Village’ 2014, Domaine des Tilleuls (Philippe Livera) ($65)

‘Clos Village’ is a walled vineyard located just outside the Livera family’s cellars. Vines were planted in the early 1960s, and the plot sits directly downslope from the village’s top Premier Cru vineyards where soils combine brown limestone and marl. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and fermented on indigenous yeasts; 60% is aged in older French oak barrels, with approximately 40% seeing new wood. The wine is always bottled unfined and unfiltered.

 

 

 


8. Gevrey-Chambertin ‘Les Songes’ 2014, Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini ‘Vieilles Vignes’ ($85)

Florence and Simon Heresztyn-Mazzini hail from different winemaking regions—Florence from Burgundy and Simon from Champagne. After ten years of working Heresztyn-owned vineyards in Gevrey-Chambertin, the couple decided to start their own venture on 14 acres spread across the villages of Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, and Chambolle-Musigny. 2012 was their first vintage. ‘Les Songes’ lieu-dit is just under an acre of old vines planted in 1926 and 1952 and grown in clay-limestone with marl rich in fossilized shells. Annual production is around 2,000 bottles.

 


9. Gevrey Chambertin 2014, Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini ‘Vieilles Vignes’ ($75)

Using grapes taken exclusively from vines planted in 1950 and 1995 in 5 acrs of Lieux-dits Billard, Es Murots, La Platière, and Puits de la Barraque, team Heresztyn-Mazzini relies on 35% whole bunch with wild yeast fermentation, then pre-ferments using cold macerations. Punch downs take place three to four times a day, and the wine is aged in 30% new wood oak barrels for 16-18 months, then bottled at the estate without fining or filtering. Annual production is around 6,000 bottles.

 

 


10. Morey-Saint-Denis ‘En la Rue de Vergy’ 2014, Domaine Régis Bouvier ($65)

Rich in Premiers Crus, Morey-Saint-Denis also encompasses five Grands Crus (Clos de Tart, Bonnes Mares, Clos de la Roche, Clos Saint-Denis, Clos des Lambrays). It forms a bridge between the powerful, but velvet-smooth wines of Gevrey-Chambertin and Chambolle-Musigny which is often referred to as the most ‘feminine’ wine of the Côte de Nuits. Régis Bouvier, known for reasonable yields from high quality terroirs, produces white, red and some of the best rosé in Burgundy. ‘En la Rue de Vergy’ is an acre-and-a-half lieu-dit above Les Bonnes Mares, where there is—remarkably—no soil; the vines are planted directly in the limestone bedrock. This forces the roots to find crevices between the stones and the rock strata to plunge deeply in search of water and nutrients.

 



11. Fixin 2014, Domaine Richard Manière ($60)

Fixin occupies the region between Dijon and Gevrey-Chambertin, and (as in much of Burgundy), the Premier Cru plots are on reasonably homogenous brown limestone soils with east to south-east exposures. Village plots are on lower ground at the foot of the slopes where the soil is a mixture of limestone and marl. With a home base in the village of Vosne-Romanée, Domaine Richard Manière works 20 acres in plots sprinkled throughout Fixin, Echézeaux and Vosne-Romanée.

 

 


12. Vosne-Romanée 2014, Domaine Richard Manière ($85)

Burgundian author Gaston Roupnel claimed that in Vosne-Romanée, “all the charms of Bourgogne come together.” The finest vineyards are clustered together immediately north of the town of Vosne-Romanée and in top vintages have the perfect balance of weight, structure, elegance and longevity.

 

 

 

 

 


El Dorado in White from Spain’s Rueda



Rueda 2014, Belondrade y Lurton ($58)

While we’re getting our 2014 on, this mature white wine from the Rueda DO—40,000 sprawling acres in the Spanish commune of Castilla y León—is an enological marvel. Transplanted Frenchman Didier Belondrade founded a winery based on his conviction that the Verdejo varietal could rival Chardonnay for aging potential, and as such, he treats Verdejo with the care that Burgundian estates bestow upon Chardonnay, fermenting and aging Verdejo on lees in 300-liter French oak barrels. Each of his 23 plots is fermented and aged separately, and at the end of one year, a selection and blending process take place, after which the wine stays in bottle for a minimum of six months before release. The wine has now reached its zenith, having developed deep honey notes with overtones of dried chamomile and candied lemon peel.

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Posted on 2022.01.03 in Côte de Nuits, Morey-Saint-Denis, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Rueda, France, Spain DO, Burgundy, Wine-Aid Packages  |  Read more...

 

Champagne Pierre Paillard The Quintessential Bouzy: Rich Ripeness & Chalky Finesse

Champagne, Considered


Champagne is undergoing an attitude renaissance, and much of the evolution is driven by consumers. Throughout the world of still wines, the focus is shifting toward improved agriculture, with organic and biodynamics creating sustainable terroir conditions. Champagne is doing likewise of course, along with promoting grower estates, small houses, reduced dosages and single-vineyard bottlings. But Champagne has long lived inside a rarefied world where much of its mystique was based on perception; its special-occasion aura, if consumers knew about much about the estates themselves, it was generally their ‘house style’—largely the result of winemaking technique. Bollinger spends more time on lees, for example, making it more yeasty in the mouth while Pol Roger allows fruit and floral notes to take the diva role by limiting lees contact. Reductive Champagnes like Salon do not undergo malolactic fermentation whereas oxidative wines, mostly Pinot Noir-based, are often oak aged, and taste rounder and sweeter.

What often gets lost amid the raised flutes and celebratory glitter is that Champagne is, first and foremost, wine, and as such, is highly expressive of its vineyard origins—when the winemakers allow this uniqueness to shine through. House styles have traditionally focused less on a reflective sense of the land on which the grapes were grown, and this is something that contemporary Champagne houses are beginning to explore, exploit, and advertise.

Each of the wines in this package is ‘climat’ specific, meaning that the grapes come from vineyard parcels as designated by the labels. It is a single Champagne house producing a variety of sparkling wines that emphasize—above all—a sense of place. These wines are expressive of various lieux-dits in and around the village of Bouzy; they are all classified as Grand Cru. Bouzy is one of the only 17 Grands Crus of the 320 villages, which make up Champagne’s seven sub-regions. (See Map Here)


Champagne Pierre Paillard
Bouzy – Grand Cru (Grande Montagne in The Montagne de Reims)


Paillard is a familiar name to fans of Champagne; Maison Bruno Paillard, the Reims-based producer, was founded in 1981 by Bruno Paillard and financed by the sale of Bruno’s Mark II Jaguar. The Bouzy branch of the family (they are cousins) have been at it a bit longer; Antoine Paillard first bought Bouzy vineyards in 1768. Antoine and Quentin Paillard represent the eighth generation in the family and the fourth generation to produce and bottle Champagne under the family name.

Bouzy is renowned for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in Champagne, due in the main to its situation on the south-facing side of the Montagne de Reims, ideal for the difficult to ripen Pinot Noir grape. Nevertheless, unlike most other growers in the appellation, the 25 Paillard acres are planted with 40% Chardonnay, giving their wines both finesse and elegance.

Interestingly, the Paillards exclusively cultivate their own selection of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, without a single clone on the estate, a diverse Selection Massale. Each plot is harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel vats and fermentation is carried out at lower temperatures to retain the aromatics. Each spring, a long process of tasting and blending is undertaken by Antoine and Quentin; the still wine is tasted, marked and discussed until there is consensus on the profile of the vintage. Blind tastings continue until the creation of each final cuvée. In June they are put into bottle for the second fermentation and cellared for a minimum of 3 years and as much as 10 years before being disgorged.

Champagne Pierre Paillard produces five cuvées. Two are non-vintage: Brut Grand Cru, generally a blend of two years and containing 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, and Brut Rosé, with a base of 70% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir, and 7% Bouzy Rouge Pinot Noir. There are three vintage wines—a Blanc de Noirs from a single 0.8-acre parcel called ‘Les Maillerettes’ (planted in 1970), a Blanc de Blancs from a 1.5-acre parcel called ‘Les Mottelettes’ (planted in 1961) and a vintage wine that is only made in the best years and aged for seven to ten years before being disgorged.


A Note on Vintages:

2008: An icy December the previous year led to an even colder January. Below-average temperatures continued into the spring, and it did not warm up until May. But flowering was not affected and some summer outbreaks of oidium and mildew were quickly handled. August was cool, but by the mid-September harvest, the grapes were in perfect health. The vintage proved spectacular and is widely considered to be one of the top two vintages of this century so far.

2014: Dry conditions early got the growing season off to a healthy start, with a successful budburst and flowering were successful. The summer was not so kind, being cool and wet, with only the latter half of August eventually drying out. Although the rain was enough to make rot a concern, cooling breezes fortunately kept it at bay, and a benign September brought warm, dry conditions for ripening the grapes and effectively saving the harvest.

2016: 2016 was a difficult growing season, with early frosts and heavy rains between May and July putting much of the crop at risk. Conditions improved by August, but blistering heat further reduced yields. The grapes that remained were healthy, and overall, the quality was good, with wines displaying rich fruit and some nice acidity.


nv Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Parcelles XVI’ Grand Cru – Bouzy Extra Brut ($57)

(Disgorgement: March 2021, Base Wine: 2016) Produced from 22 individually vinified parcels with their own vineyards, entirely in Bouzy, ‘Les Parcelles’ is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, with 30% reserve wine. It is dosed at 1 gram per liter and has spent a full four years sur-lie prior to disgorgement. It’s an accurate portrait of Bouzy terroir with apple and salty stone-fruit notes. Citrus appears towards the finish, accented with herbs and chalk.

 

 

 


nv Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Terres Roses XVII’ Grand Cru – Bouzy Rosé Extra Brut ($73)

(Disgorgement: April 2020, Base Wine: 2017) The delicacy and refinement inherent in this Rosé is the result of the cuvée, 64% Chardonnay, and 36% Pinot Noir vinified white. It’s dosed at 2 grams per liter but is quite dry, making it an ideal companion to shellfish, especially lobster. The nose is yeasty, like freshly baked brioche, and the palate displays a leesy undercurrent along with blood-orange and tangerine flavors before a clean and acidic finish.

 

 

 


2014 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Mottelettes’ Grand Cru – Bouzy, Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut ($93)

(Disgorgement: February 2019) From a miniscule plot of Chardonnay planted in 1961 in the lower part of Bouzy, where the pure chalk lays only twenty inches beneath the topsoil, the wine is pale golden in color with salted almond, apricot, pastry and fresh ginger notes beneath a delicate mousse. Dosage is at 1 gram/liter, with about 3000 bottles produced.

 

 

 

 


2016 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘Les Maillerettes’ Grand Cru Bouzy, Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut ($91)

(Disgorgement: February 2021) ‘Les Maillerettes’ is a single half-acre of old vine Pinot Noir planted in 1970; the calcareous soils are made evident in the wine’s sleek structure and saline complexity. ‘Les Maillerettes’ spent 5 years on lees before disgorgement and is a proud representative of Bouzy Blanc de Noir, full-bodied and fleshy with fruit, especially cherries. Dosage: 1 gram/liter; around 2000 bottles and 122 magnums produced.

 

 

 


2008 Champagne Pierre Paillard ‘La Grande Récolte’ Millésime Grand Cru – Bouzy Extra Brut ($99)

(Disgorgement: March 2021) 55% old vine Pinot Noir and 45% old vine Chardonnay from two sites on the south-facing slope of the mountain of Reims. The Pinot Noir comes ‘Les Maillerettes’ and the Chardonnay comes from ‘Les Mottelettes’ and represent the mother vines used for the massal selections made in-house at Champagne Pierre Paillard. Both vineyards are less than an acre in size, and the wine represents the quintessence of house style and terroir. A rare Champagne that may benefit from decanting, ‘La Grande Récolte’ is dosed at 1 gram per liter, and spent 8 years on lees before disgorgement. About 12,000 bottles made.

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Posted on 2022.01.02 in France, Champagne  |  Read more...

 

Give the Gift of Membership to ‘The Champagne Society’: Six Months ($279) or Twelve Months ($499) + STANDOUT DOZEN OF THE YEAR: Buy All for $479

 


A Membership Subscription to ‘The Champagne Society’ Gift


Lily Bollinger once said, “I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory; I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty.”

Not only is Champagne the quintessential drink of celebration, it has traditionally been a gift given with ramped-up sentiments. This year we are offering a couple of variations on this theme, beginning with an opportunity to gift a special someone a six-month or twelve-month membership to The Champagne Society. Our pick for December, Champagne Fleury, will be packaged in a wrap-ready gift box along with a congratulatory certificate explaining what lies ahead in bi-monthly installments:


Six-Month Membership Gift ($279) – Bimonthly

You will take home a pre-packaged, ready-for-gift-wrapping box containing The Champagne Society December Selection bottle, Champagne Fleury, with a certificate congratulating the recipient on their new membership to the Champagne Society, a select community of like-minded folks who appreciate the exceptional in life and recognize that wine is a superlative among man’s culinary creations. Then, in February and April, they are eligible to receive two more installments, one Champagne bottle each month (described in detail, in advance, by email), which they can stop by the store to pick up in person or have shipped directly to their home at no additional cost.


Twelve-Month Membership Gift ($499) – Bimonthly

A full year’s membership in the Champagne Society includes a pre-packaged, ready-for-wrapping gift box containing The Champagne Society December Selection bottle, Champagne Fleury, along with a congratulatory certificate informing the recipient that they are now part of the Champagne Society, whose members are eligible for discounted prices on highly allocated Champagne, many bought directly, and many available only through Elie Wine Company. Then, in February and April, June, August and October, they are eligible to receive five more installments, one bottle of Champagne each month (described in detail, in advance, by email), which they can stop by the store to pick up in person or have shipped directly to their home at no additional cost.


Three-Bottle Gift Box

Choose three bottles from this year’s ‘Standout Dozen’ (below) and it will be pre-packaged for you to gift-paper wrap and put under the tree or gift to express appreciation.

A third option, of course, is to choose any number of wines from this year’s Standout Dozen, and we will package them in a gift box ready for wrapping. Or all 12 bottles for ($479).


STANDOUT DOZEN OF THE YEAR 2021


Among the multitude of wines we taste every year, there are a select few that we believe genuinely represent over-achievement by a winemaking team, both in terms of the quality of the product and the innovation used in technique. Younger winemakers tend to be iconoclastic in their approach to the craft, but when it’s done for the wrong reasons, the results are often forgettable. These twelve wines represent the best of the best in wines that we’ve sampled and purchased over the past twelve months; many were created by old friends, and many were new discoveries.


1. Champagne Laherte Frères, ‘Blanc de Blancs’ Brut Nature ($53) (Champagne, France): (Disgorged January 2021) Coteaux Sud d’Epernay is a lesser-known Champagne sub-region sandwiched between the Côtes des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne; there, Aurélien Laherte—a devoted practitioner of organic and biodynamic viticulture—is turning heads. Dynamic and innovative, ‘Blanc de Blancs’ Brut Nature is drawn from the best parcels of Chardonnay from the southern slopes of Epernay and the Côte des Blancs. Primary fermentation takes places in foudres and barrels with regular lees stirring; the wine goes through partial malolactic fermentation and has zero dosage, producing a Blanc de Blancs representative of the purity and minerality of Chardonnay found in the chalky soils of the area.

*click on bottle for more info

 


2. Domaine Jean Vacheron, 2019 Sancerre ($48) (White Loire, France): Two young cousins, Jean-Laurent and Jean-Dominique Vacheron, have transformed an elite estate into an elite biodynamic estate. Having inherited some of the most coveted parcels in the appellation and then, purchasing more of the same, the cousins are trying a Burgundian approach to Sancerre winemaking, with parcels being vinified by terroir and blends varying from year to year. The 2019 contains 20% juice from single-vineyard plots, hand harvested and fermented on indigenous yeasts in a combination of cement and stainless-steel tank. It shows bright grapefruit notes with gunflint, sea salt and lime zest.

*click on bottle for more info

 


3. Domaine Michel Briday, 2019 Rully ($30) (White Burgundy, France): Founded in 1976 by Michel and Lucette Briday, the original 15 acres has grown to 38, spread across the municipalities of Rully, Bouzeron, and Mercurey. Under the management of Michel’s son and daughter-in-law, Stéphane and Sandrine, the domain has forged a reputation for producing Côte Chalonnaise wines with a superb ratio between quality and price. 2019’s Rully Blanc is a blend of four parcels; the Chaponnières and Saint Jacques climats bring finesse and elegance, while Crée, a stony terroir below the Premiers Crus Les Pierres and Moulène, lends power and substance. Premier Cru La Bergerie is a deep clay soil adding hints of citrus and spice spring backed by a spine of vibrant acidity.

*click on bottle for more info

 


4. Coto de Gomariz, 2018 Ribeiro ($24) (White Galicia, Spain): Coto de Gomariz is located in an ideal winegrowing zone near the eastern edge of Galicia, where the slopes overlook the Avia river. The 66 acres are managed by owner Ricardo Carreiro and his winemaker Xosé Lois Sebio, who make the most of the unique microclimate (schist, granite and sandy soils) through a cornucopia of local white wine varieties including Treixadura, Godello, Loureira and Albariño. A blend of all four, Ribeiro Blanco 2018 is produced in relatively tiny quantities (around 60,000 bottles) and shows itself as aromatic with wild herbs and spring flowers, meaty with crisp stone fruit and a commendably long finish.

*click on bottle for more info

 


5. Château Pichon Lalande ‘Pichon Comtesse Réserve’, 2018 Pauillac ($69) (Red Bordeaux, France): Good fences may make good neighbors, but in the case of Pichon Lalande, they also make good winemakers. The property is located only a vine away from Château Latour, with perfect access to the Gironde River, and sits across the road from Pichon Baron. The terroir of Château Pichon Lalande is deep gravel with clay and limestone soil, and below that is a layer of sandstone, marl, and limestone. The powerful 2018 opens slowly to offer glimpses of dusty soil, Sichuan pepper, garrigue and tobacco over a core of warm black cherries, cassis and blackberry pie plus a waft of toast and star anise.

*click on bottle for more info

 


6. Domaine Santa Duc ‘Clos Derrière Vieille’, 2018 Gigondas ($56) (Red Southern Rhône, France): In the verdant environs of Gigondas, heritage is as deep as the iron-rich soils. Yves Gras, Domaine Santa Duc’s winemaker for 32 years, became a standard bearer for innovation with his elegant wines; he replaced barrels with 3600-liter casks to tone down the oak and championed a greater percentage of Mourvèdre used in cuvées. His ongoing quest for cooler terroirs capable of producing great wines ultimately took him from the plateau of Gigondas to Châteauneuf-du-Pape (10 miles to the north), where he was able to purchase several choice parcels. ‘Clos Derrière Vieille’ is 80% Grenache 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah; it shows diaphanous aromas of wild cherry, black currant, blackberry and spice framed by dusty tannins and a mineral driven, lingering finish.

*click on bottle for more info

 


7. Domaine des Roches Nueves ‘Les Mémoires’, 2015 Saumur-Champigny ($60) (Red Loire, France): With vineyards both in the Saumur (Blanc) and Saumur-Champigny (Rouge) appellations, Thierry Germain has become a superstar among biodynamic vine growers in France. His ‘parcellaires’—as he calls his lieu-dit vineyards—are producing some of the most exciting wines in the Loire Valley today. Germain refers to Charly Foucault of Clos Rougeard as his spiritual father. His ‘Les Mémoires’ comes from a 1.7-acre climat, in the commune of Dampierre-sur-Loire, of Cabernet Franc planted in 1904 in silex scree and Turonian limestone. 100% de-stemmed fermentation before 12 months aging in 2500-liter foudre and then six months in bottle. The wine offers a scent of roses on the nose followed by electric red fruits gripped by textured tannins.

*click on bottle for more info

 


8. Domaine de la Ferté, 2019 Givry ($37) (Red Burgundy, France): High density vineyards are a Burgundian tradition, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the six acres of Domaine de la Ferté’s holdings (among the most renowned Premiers Crus of the appellation) are planted in clay/limestone at 4000 vines per acre. This soil, and in particular, the southeastern and southern exposed slopes, have made Givry a renowned producer of red wine for more than a thousand years. The nose of the 2019 shows violets, strawberries, and blackberries with clove notes wrapping around firm tannins.

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9. Domaines Lupier ‘El Terroir’, 2017 Navarra ($32) (Red Navarra, Spain): Navarra, a region in Northern Spain perhaps better known more for Tempranillo and Cab/Merlot blends, is beginning to develop an international reputation for bright, charming red Garnachas. Elisa Ucar and Enrique Basarte launched Domaines Lupier in 2006, with a goal to rescue old Garnacha vineyards in Navarra’s north while using a non-interventionist approach. The vineyards they work have been farmed biodynamically since Day One, and they now have 27 small plots totaling 42 acres, all at altitudes between 1300 and 2500 feet. The wine is a cool delight, showing black cherry, licorice, cassis and notes of spice and white pepper.

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10. Domaine de Rochegrès, 2019 Moulin-à-Vent ($27) (Red Beaujolais, France): Moulin-à-Vent is to the ten crus of Beaujolais what Moulin Rouge is to Parisian cabarets: First among equals. Some consumers prefer floral Fleurie and charming Chiroubles, but no Beaujolais shows off a full-bodied, tannic-structure like Moulin-à-Vent. Domaine de Rochegrès covers 13 of the appellation’s 1600 acres, and the name references the greyish granite visible on the surface of the soil. The wine reflects the richness of this terroir with aromatic, electric red fruit in the foreground, evolving toward floral and spicy notes that finish with a touch of oak and elegant tannins.

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11. Can Sumoi ‘Sumoll Garnatxa’, 2019 Penedès ($26) (Red Catalunya, Spain): Pepe Raventós was born to the vine; he spent his childhood picking grapes at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, home of more than eighty cava producers and the cornerstone of the local economy. It’s also where 21 generations of Pepe Raventós’ family has called home since the 15th century. At 200 feet above sea level, his vineyard Can Sumoi is the highest estate in the Penedès, and it is Raventós’ mission to produce high-altitude wines that define the balance, harmony and austerity of Catalunya; when you drink them—or any wine, for that matter, says Raventós—your mind and spirit should travel to the place of origin. The wine shows boysenberry, cinnamon and pomegranate while combining rusticity with an essential elegance that is, like salinity, a Can Sumoi trademark.

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12. Artuke ‘Pies Negros’, 2018 Rioja ($22) (Red Rioja, Spain): ‘Artuke’ is a blended version of the names of the Blanco brothers Arturo and Kike; they produce from 32 different vineyard plots on 54 acres of land in Rioja Alavesa. The vineyards fall within a geographic triangle formed by the villages of Baños de Ebros, Abalos and San Vicente, each with unique terroir. ‘Pies Negros’ is focused fruit from Abalos. 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano, the wine is earthy on the nose with smoke, chocolate, black plum and dried blackberry in the mid-palate with soft fennel notes on the finish.

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Posted on 2021.12.25 in Côte Chalonnaise, Rully, Givry, Pauillac, Moulin-à-Vent, Sancerre, Saumur-Champigny, France, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Penedes, Burgundy, Champagne, Wine-Aid Packages, Rioja DOC, Loire, Southern Rhone, Navarra, Ribeiro  |  Read more...

 


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