Archive for White
Here is a tasting we put together recently for a group of young sommeliers.
As I have noted in previous writings, one of my jobs as a restaurant wine buyer is to provide expertise…….enough so that I can sift through the myriad of wine offerings & better & hopefully smartly determine what we will buy for the restaurant.
I therefore think to get better at this skill, it really helps to establish & grow a strong foundation. In the case of sommelier-ing, this includes having a bank of really solid, “good” wine choices. By doing so, you have a base to measure others by.
Several of our chefs are headed for Japan, mainly on a food inspiring trip. When asked what restaurants they should look to eat at, my comment was to find smaller, unique “hole in the walls” who have garnered a niche & respect from true foodies for serving solid foods which come from passion, hands on dedication, culture, heritage & authenticity. I think then one can taste & experience more traditional ingredients & techniques & therefore better understand a sense of purity & of where they came from culinarily.
From this base, we can look to add our touches.
Why would one want to morph already morphed foods?
One can apply a similar thought to wine. I therefore look to establish a base of well made, pure, more traditional styled wines of any given category. From there I can create different sub-categories such as “internationalized”; “superstar”; modern; “country/food friendly” or whatever.
Over the years, there are at least 8 Sauvignon Blancs from France’s Loire Valley, which really standout to me amongst the crowd. Interestingly, I would have thought that at least a few would have been replaced by now. Here are 5 of them–
Domaine du Salvard Cheverny–Sauvignon Blanc (& some Sauvignon Gris with up to 16% Chardonnay permitted) grown in sand-chalk-limestone soils. This cuvee typically showcases exotic fruit nuances, passion fruit & even guava in some vintages (perhaps from the Sauvignon Gris), with a rounder middle & a distinct minerality on the palate, much more so than in the nose. I generally refer to this wine as being more “country”ish in style–meaning delicious, unpretentious, light, food friendly, gulpable & perennially over delivering for the dollar.
Trotereau Quincy “Vieilles Vignes”–sand, silex, pink limestone soils. This vineyard also still has a surprising number of 100 year old vines I am told. As a side note, Quincy was but the 2nd AOC granted back in 1936. The old timers must have known there was something special or unique in the soils here. I poured this wine next, because, it has a more flinty character in the nose & seems more nervier with more bracing acidity.
Regis Minet Pouilly Fume “Vieilles Vignes”–clay, limestone, marl at 750 feet elevation. We adore this wine’s purity & cleaner, fresher, minerally approach. This was one of the first true artisan, “boutique” Loire Valley wines which caught my attention as a young professional. I really find it so incredible that in all of these years I have yet to find another which has at least equally caught my fancy. Deliciousness certainly has something to do with that.
Roger Neveu Sancerre “Clos des Bouffants”–a relatively new star on our radar screen. I am always so amazed at how many diners easily recognize the word Sancerre on the winelist, yet it has been so challenging for me over the years to find really good Sancerre. My “go to” rendition is by Hippolyte Reverdy, because of how ethereal & delicately refined it can be. Now, of course, the Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre is quite allocated. Leave it to wine importer, Kermit Lynch, to thankfully find yet another jewel. The Bouffants parcel is roughly 700 to 850 feet in elevation, with a steep, southern exposure & a limestone bedrock (40% active limestone). Here is one you can make lots of friends with.
Denis Jamain Reuilly “Les Pierres Plates”–The village of Reuilly is also located in the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley. I poured this sauvignon last because I typically find it the most ethereal of the five. I am told the soils is Kimmeridgian limestone, very similar to what one can find in Chablis, complete with fossilized oyster shells & other sea critters. My wife Cheryle, in fact, noted in this blind tasting how much it smelled of seashells in the nose. Plus, on the palate, it is more refined & ethereal with a lime edge & definitely not flinty like those above who have more marl to their soils.
Quite an interesting learning opportunity AND on several different levels. Thank you to all who came.
In some parts of the world these would be classified as dessert wines…..in other parts “stickie’s”….for me, pure nectar. AND, the amazing thing is that these 3 wines may have started out as sweet, but now because of the considerable bottle age of each, the once apparent sweetness has turned into more of a visceral creaminess/viscosity AND the wine’s minerality is thankfully once again clearly visible. Really quite fascinating wines.
1983 JJ Prum Spatlese “Wehlener Sonnenuhr”
Here is the idiosyncratic genius of Manfred Prum & his iconic vineyard in one of his best vintages. (Manfred also produced one of the best Eisweins I have ever had in 1983). Such great purity, filigree & pinpoint balance, all in great harmony, after 32 years of bottle age.
I still vividly remember all of the hoopla created, when this wine was released. At 32 years of age, it is still an adolencent. It still has much more to resolve & therefore a LONG way to go. Save your bottles.
Talk about obscure! This is 45 year old Chenin Blanc from France’s Loire Valley! And, unlike Vouvray & its limestone soils, this estate’s vineyard has more rock & schist (& some clay & limestone) to its soil composition, which results in a VERY different character, which is plain to see now that the high residual sugar levels have had a chance to resolve itself after 45 years. There are all kinds of smells, layering, nuances & intricacies, beyond just fruit & spice qualities. I suggest you serve such a wine in a big 22 ounce glass, so you can swirl & sniff for a long time so it has a chance to open up. Wines like this don’t come around too often. Yes, in a previous blog, I noted that this winery had been controversial at one time on the authenticity of its winemaking claims & ageworthy prowess, but I suggest you smell & taste this wine & judge for yourself.
Boy, it is hard to keep this blog current, with all of the wines we fortunately taste. Our VINO restaurant seems to draw in a wine crazy group of friends, who are so bent on sharing. We are sooooo grateful to say the least. Here are some of the highlights–
2008 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”
As avid wine collectors well know, Coche Dury produces TWO of the most celebrated collectible white wines–the Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne & the Meursault Premier Cru–Perrieres. Over the years, I have heard so many insiders say how Perrieres should be a Grand Cru vineyard & these 2 wines certainly support that thought. I am often a skeptic with such clamour but these 2 wines are majestic, glorious wines of remarkable intensity, power, intellect, grandeur & pedigree. The 2005 is a monster, so virile, masculine & with surreal intensity & immensity. What a real shame it was to drink at a mere 9 years of age. The 2008, on the other hand, has a riveting, mesmerizing, clearer purity/transparency, eventhough it too was mega-intense & well structured. I often scratch my head in wonderment of what could be, when I see adjacent parcels of Yves Boyer Martenot on one side & on the other side a parcel sourced to Maison Latour.
Talk about having a wine at an ideal time of its life!!!! Pure mineral, with lots of pedigree, precision, refinement & ethereal-ness. Brilliant! Wow! I know some discount the 2003 vintage in France some, but I must say that this wine really showed me otherwise. Furthermore, where Raveneau’s Les Clos & Blanchots bottlings seem riper & more showy, I typically find his Valmur to be much more ethereal, as was the case here. I prefer to believe producers of this echelon really can show different perspectives on a vineyard because of vintage growing conditions……rather than me choosing a specific vintage I like. Here is a case in point!
2001 Francois Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes”
I am & have been an avid fan of the Meursault wines from Francois Jobard. I am finding more & more, that the numbers of believers like me are dwindling. This style of old fashion winemaking is just not en vogue. I am sorry for Francois & his son Antoine, for the undeserved under appreciation, but selfishly, it means more for me & at far better pricing. I guess I am shooting myself in the foot for even writing about this calamity, but I cannot help myself. Every time I am fortunate to have an older bottle, & after 2 1/2 hours of breathing, I am just completely taken by wines like this. The Jobard Charmes & especially his Genevrieres bottling, in my humble opinion, deserve Grand Cru status, just as the Coche Dury Meursault Perrieres does. Charmes seems finer, more delicate & the Genevrieres more stately with more grandeur. I suggest you use a big glass, so you can swirl & swirl to coax out the magnificance. It really is worth it.
This was yet another BYOB dinner in our VINO restaurant, where our guests brought in some eye popping wines! We are so lucky to have so many regulars who come to the BYOB dinner with an attitude to share something special & to enjoy with the group. The night’s foray of wines, therefore, included a 1993 Tempier Bandol “La Tourtine”; 2001 Ogier Cote Rotie; 1993 Ceretto Barbaresco “Faset”; 1990 Shafer “Hillside Select”; 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia; 1995 Chateau Calon Segor; 1983 Chateau Lynch Bages; 1996 Chateau Pichon Lalande; 1995 Noel Verset Cornas & 2000 Chave Hermitage, just to name a few red wines, AND 2009 Blanc de Lynch Bages; 2001 Kunstler Riesling Spatlese “Hochheimer Holle” Trocken & Chateau d’Epire Savennieres just to name 3 white wines. Yes, it was quite the night.
To end the evening, 4 bottles of sweet wines were opened & shared.
2001 Gunderloch Riesling Spatlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–The town of Nackenheim is located in Germany’s Rheinhessen region, right on the Rhein river. Rothenberg, a steep hillside of red slate soils, is considered the finest site of the town & shares the hillside with other Crus, such as the Pettenthal & Hipping vineyards of the adjacent Niersteiner appellation. I believe Gunderloch owns the biggest parcel & I say, thank goodness for that. Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach have steadily brought their domaine & vineyards to high acclaim through their tireless efforts in the vineyards, winemaking & personal, grass roots marketing. I am always so thrilled to see this really special couple (& now their son/winemaker, Johannes) receive all of the acclaim & accolades for their truly superb wines. I vividly remember, when this wine was released, thinking “oh my goodness, too much extract, too showy & over the top”, after all the grapes were harvested somewhere between 95 & 100 degrees Oechsle with a total acidity at around 8 grams per liter. I felt the ripeness took away from the minerality & transparency of the wine. That may have been true then, but having this wine 13 years later was a true revelation. It really was now all about red slate & profound minerality. I also loved how seamless, complete, well textured & especially how long it was on the palate. I thought it was a standout & certainly one of my favorite wines of the night!!!! That is saying alot, when one stops to think about all of the other star studded wines opened during the night.
1983 Chateau Suduiraut–this is an estate with 92 hectares of vineyards located in the Pregnac commune of Sauternes, adjacent to the iconic Chateau d’ Yquem. The sandy-gravelly soils & the atumnal mists from the convergence of the Ciron & Garonne rivers help to encouage the growth of botrytis cinerea, a beneficial “noble rot” to produce a standout Sauternes (designated as Premier Cru in the 1855 official classification). While 1983 was a a very well received vintage by the media, I believe this wine should be put away in the cellar for considerable more time, so it has a chance to resolve itself more. It really was a waste to open it.
1983 Chateau Rieussec–This highly revered Premier Cru was purchased by the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (also the owners of Chateau Lafite) in 1984. The 93 hectares, located in the Fargues commune of Sauternes, borders Chateau d”Yquem to the west. Like the Suduiraut listed above, I felt it was a real waste to open & drink this wine at such an early age. It really does need much more time to resolve itself–quite closed, with too many rough edges, bitterness & alcohol poking out.
1994 Gunderloch Beerenauslese Gold Kapsule “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–I am sure Mike brought this wine, because Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach, owners of Gunderloch, were in attendance. I also thank you, because I was fortunate enough to also be in attendance to enjoy this monumental wine! In speaking with Fritz, they produced TWO BA’s in 1994, this being designated as Gold Kapsule, because it was harvested at well over 200 oechsle (3 separate passes through the vineyard), with 10 to 11 grams of total acidity & finished at 8 degrees alcohol. This wine was certainly unctuous, BUT NOT over the top so. The wine’s once apparent sweetness has really evolved with the 20 years of bottle age, & there is so much more tactile elements developing rather then pure sweetness. Plus, I love how, because of this evolvement, the stoniness & terroir is once again resurfacing to the forefront. This was truly a magnificent wine. Thank you Mike for sharing!!!!
Sweet wine is an interesting topic.
How does one get such ripeness & sweetness in the wines?
One answer is to simply leave the grapes on the vine longer or until they start to raisin. This is a very tricky line to walk. As the sugar rises, the acidity lowers. If you are therefore not careful, you could end up with a cloying or flabby wine. A simpler way is to stop the fermentation early, so the finished wine has residual sugar. Another way, would be to dry your grapes, such as they do in Italy, on straw mats. Yet, another way, is to encourage botrytis cinerea to infect your grapes. This beneficial mould will essentially get rid of water & thereby concentrate the extract & acids in the grapes. Or, one could do a combination of the above. The point being, there is more than one way.
These 3 wines feature very different & interesting approaches & it is a reminder why the resulting wines are so VERY different, especially with age.
Furthermore, I personally don’t talk about sweet wines too much, mainly because the wines are really about super ripeness & sometimes botrytis, especially in their youth & the terroir therefore often gets masked. It is true, however, after considerable age & the sweetness & the ripe fruitiness has a chance to resolve, the terroir can make an appearance again. Such is the case with this trio of wines.
Chateau de Fargues has been owned by the Lur Saluces family since 1472. They are the same family which also owned Chateau d”Yquem, which they sold off in 1999. This estate has 15 hectares of vines planted on a clay-gravel plateau, roughly 4 kilometers southeast of d”Yquem. Typically their blend is at least 80% Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc AND the yields are often lower than d’Yquem’s. The grapes are harvested through many vineyard passes (sometimes as many as 12) & are aged for at least 3 years in once used barrels from d’Yquem. This 1983 had lots of dried fruit nuances, honey, beeswax, stoniness, apricot, earthiness & a real waxy feel to it. One could see that this wine also had started making the transition from sweetness to a more tactile quality on the palate, which is also part of the resolvement. I felt, however, with the drying of the fruit, the alcohol & a bitterness poked out in the finish, which makes me better understand why many love to pair these kinds of wines with richer, fattier foods such as bleu cheese, pates & even foie gras. Thank you Michael for sharing this treat!
Now, this is a VERY unique & interesting wine, which is remarkably still under the radar screen for most wine aficionados. The appellation is Anjou in France’s Loire Valley & is actually located in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon, which is famous for their late harvest Chenin Blanc based whites. This 145 acre estate has been in the Touchais family for 8 generations (1787). My first experience was a 1947, which I tasted in the mid 80’s. I was blown away how unique & interesting this wine was. These wines are reputed to live as long as 100 years & the 1947 tasted so surprisingly youthful. I suspected this 1975 would therefore be an infant, but was still anxious to try it. The soils are schist, clay & limestone. The most curious aspect of the Moulin Touchais wines is how they are produced. (It wasn’t that long ago, no one was allowed in the cellar, & people therefore questioned the authenticity of its longevity). They say, 20% of the grapes are harvested only 80 days after flowering, when the grapes are essentially unripe with high acid levels. The other 80% is then harvested 120 days after flowering (dehydrating on the vine). (Botrytis is rare in this neck of the woods, which at least partially explains the nose, taste & color of the resulting wines). The wine is fermented in stainless & aged at least 10 years before release. The 1975 has a surprising freshness with baked apple, quince, mint, apricot, honey nuances. It was amazingly precise, fine, refined, intrguingly minerally with balanced acidity. Because of the bottle age, the wine’s once apparent sweetness had changed considerably to a much more tactile sensation. It was fabulous!!!! AND so interesting! Thank you Brent, for sharing.
The records show this estate has been around since 1561. Most of their vineyard holdings have red slate soils–Nierstein (Hipping, Pettenthal & their monopole Brudersberg) & a little in Nackenheim Rothenberg. This wine was the most gracious of the 3 “stickies” tasted tonight.. NO hard edges whatsoever AND had the most finesse. I had always previously thought Oelberg was a grosslagen (large collective site), but on a recent map, I noticed it was a single vineyard, past Hipping, down the hillside some. This wine was rich, lush with tropical fruit character, some botrytis & a distinct stoniness. One could also see that the once apparent sweetness is changing to a more tactile creaminess on the palate.
Today’s winetasting VINO was an opportunity to explore…AND hopefully have some fun along the way.
2012 Chateau Feuillet Petite Arvine
A VERY unique white wine from Valle D’Aosta at high altitudes & hand built stone terraces to hold the soils & vines in place. I believe that is why they planted vines too….so the roots would help hold the soil in place.
“The vines actually sit in a very shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. Any rain is quickly dried out by cleansing winds. And the vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, where over the millennia the Dora Baltea River has cut through the mountain, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be the exposition of the vineyards, which in combination with the chilly climate, high altitude, and drastic diurnal temperature shifts provides the magic charm sought by vignerons everywhere: extremely long hours of gentle sunlight”.
“Maxime Magnon is part of one of the most revolutionary wine movements in France should give him a justifiable swagger to his step. Born & raised he Burgundy, because he could not afford land there, he founded his domaine down in Corbieres, amid a rocky, limestone-schist terrain, thankfully already the home to a series of organically farmed, really old vines, from heirloom grape selections. La Begou is currently his one white wine—primarily a blend of 50 to 60 year old vine Grenache Gris & Grenache Blanc, wild yeast fermented & so VERY unique in character”.
wild yeast fermented, partly in stainless, though mainly in old demi-muids….& aged for 16 months in 12 year old barrels.
As VINO regulars well know, we are big fans of the wines from Maxime Francois Laurent & Domaine Gramenon. He is part of the vanguard who are passionately & dedicatedly looking to grow & produce their wines as naturally as possible. Here is one that is truly unique!!!! 80% Clairette, 20% Viognier, 30 year old, organically farmed vines grown in clay limestone. The wine finishes its fermentation in the bottle
When I mentioned German wines, most people make funny faces in response. It has become very apparent to me, the words “German wines”, conjure up images of sweet, syrupy wines for many.
There are many things I would love to say about that, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. I would prefer to instead focus on the thought that ALL wines can be made dry, medium dry, medium sweet, sweet & dessert in style…….depending on what the winemaker wants to do…..whether it is Cabernet, Chardonnay, sparkling, red or white.
While it is true that there are many German wines which are made sweet, there are also many wines vinified DRY. For many years, VINO regulars have been asking us to do a German wine tasting.
Well, here it is. We chose to do a DRY white wine tasting first, because it is regarded as the purest form of German white wine.
Great producers believe any flaw in a dry white wine can readily be seen, smelled & tasted in their dry wines. The growing & selection of grapes is therefore of paramount importance.
In addition, for this tasting, we looked to feature 4 of the VERY best dry wine producers out Germany…..kind of a dream team!!!! The goal is to show tasters what excellence is. Wines like these don’t come around too often….just another opportunity to learn!
2012 Hans Wirsching Scheurebe DRY
The Scheurebe grape variety was an attempt to have a grape variety which had Riesling-esque nobility but would ripen earlier. It was created by Dr Scheu in the 1916, when he crossed the Riesling grape variety with what is now believed to be a wild grape variety. While it has had its moments over the years in production, I would say, most thought of it as a secondary grape variety, used for bigger production. Part of it can be attributed to its seemingly lack of acidity & its real citrus like flavors. To date, for me, the finest Scheurebe’s are undoubtedly produced by Hans Wirsching of the Franconia region. Their estate vineyard sites are high in gypsum content. The 2012 was harvested at 88 degree oechsle & 5.9 total acidity. Wirsching Scheurebe has some “quietly” exotic fruit, along with the minerality….with a little more roundness, which would appeal to a wider spectrum of wine drinkers, without taking away from its wonderfully friendliness. Well worth checking out to say the least!
2012 CF Wines Muller Thurgau DRY
Next in the line-up is the CF Muller Thurgau, which is a wine crafted for DK Restaurants by Paul Furst of Franconia, Germany. The Muller Thurgau grape variety was created in 1882 by DR Muller…..by crossing Riesling with what is now believed to be the Madeleine Royale grape variety. This resulting grape variety was one of the other Riesling crosses which caught quite a few eyes for its potential. The finest is undoubtedly produced from Paul Furst, under his family’s label Rudolf Furst. Their estate has but ¾’s of a hectare (red sandstone soils) planted to this grape variety. One cannot help but be amazed at how ethereal & effortlessly light in weight it is, which is further enhanced by the innate minerality from the red sandstone the vines grow in.
Here is a DRY Riesling from one of Germany’s true iconic Masters—Helmut Donnhoff of the Nahe region. Sourced mostly from Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg (90%) the rest comes from his Niederhausen Hermannshöhle & Leistenberg vineyards—both steep,, rocky hillsides which has lots of porphyry rock soils. Wonderfully pure, captivating & remarkably food friendly!!!!
The Rothenberg Cru is a gentle, red slate soiled slope rising from the Rhein River, which produces some undeniably powerful, masculine Rieslings. The 2011 GG was harvested at 95 degrees oechsle & 5 total acidity. Despite the power & immense concentration, I marvel how unboastfully this wine comes across. In the 90’s these GG styled wines from this estate were MEGA-intense, tight fisted & unyielding. What a change!!!! Truly masterful. This estate is really in the “zone” right now.
It’s NOT that often we run across white wines from California, which have the weight of Chardonnay, with unique-ness & interesting-ness, especially on such a high level as these 2 display. You should, therefore, take a serious look at these 2.
2011 CARLISLE “THE DERIVATIVE”
Winemaker/owner Mike Officer has made quite a name for himself through his big, full throttle red wines, many of which comes from really old vineyard sites. If you look at the scores & ratings his wines perennially get, you will be astounded, as he seems to do it below the radar screen. Curently he produces but 2 white wines. The 2011 Derivative is 66% Semillon (from Monte Rosso vineyard, which was planted in 1886) on a steep, rocky Mayacamas hillside, on the Sonoma side, fermented in 37% new oak; 24% Muscadelle (from Pagani Ranch, planted in 1920) fermented in stainless steel & 10% Palomino (from Saitone Ranch, 118 year old vines) fermented in old oak. Yes, it is safe to say, this is an Old Vine cuvee! Leave it to someone like Mike Officer to have the discipline & dedication to collect & produce a wine like this.
2012 LINNE CALODO “CONTRARIAN”
As you may know, we are avid fans of the great potential Paso Robles has for making interesting wines. A lot can be attributed to the limestone/silaceous soils of the westside. These poor soils not only help to slow down sugar ripeness, but also help to deftly create buoyancy in the finished wines. While many of the region are looking to Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne to produce whites, we have seen even more potential for interesting-ness so far from grape varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Picpoul & Vermentino. I think most aficionados would agree one of the 2 leading the charge of moving Paso Robles onto the world stage is Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo. Here is his one 2012 white wine.
“I planted Grenache Blanc and Picpoul in 2007. My older Contrarians were Roussanne Viognier blends, but I felt like they lacked the acidity to be refreshing on a hot day. Basket pressed whole cluster for 48 hours with some skin soaking contact. pressed into a concrete 2000L tank. Native fermentation, co-fermented as the different picks come in. I can only handle 1-2 tons at a time for pressing, but I make so little of this white that I can take my time. I leave it on lees til 1 month prior to bottling then clarify by racking. Unfliltered, unfined. No barrel for this vintage. Viognier for this vintage is from Denner. I use the Viognier to just slightly round out the acidity. I’m planting a half acre of Vio on the new piece to either use in this blend or with the reds”.
Here is a note I received from Bruce Neyers & Kermit Lynch about one of our favorite wines, which I thought you might find interesting.
“Recently, I had a chance to talk to Kermit about Didier and Catherine Champalou. We visited them last month with my traveling group, and as many of you have already heard the 2013 vintage in Vouvray was a disaster. Domaine Champalou lost almost 70% of their 2013 crop to a combination of hail, coulure and rain, and Kermit was interested to hear how they were dealing with this enormous economic setback. They were fine, I told him, and indeed despite an economic disaster that seems almost biblical, they were upbeat, enthusiastic and welcoming. Strong people. Kermit thought about it, and sent me the following note, which he entitled ‘From the Pencil of Kermit Lynch’……..” Bruce Neyers
When the classic Vouvrays of René Loyau were no longer available, I went to Charles Joguet for new leads. (As recounted in Adventures on the Wine Route, I’d originally found Loyau thanks to Joguet.) We visited a bunch of good addresses and afterwards I narrowed it down to working with Domaine Foreau or Domaine Champalou.
I’ll never forget Foreau’s deep cave, funky as could be with a marvelous smoky smell that surely seasoned the aroma of his Vouvrays.
The Champalous, Didier and Catherine, were much younger than Foreau, and just launching their domaine. Their cave was pristine, and so were their wines.
I chose Champalou, but regretted not picking up Foreau as well. In those days, it seemed too much to try marketing two Vouvrays, because the appellation did not have much of a reputation back then—sweet and sterile describes the biggest proportion of them.
Didier and Catherine are modest and proud. They don’t seek the limelight, don’t seek riches. No, pride in their creations motivates them.
Their style is what the French call discret: reserved, restrained, the opposite of bombastic or blatant. The perfumes are there for the taking, but won’t give anyone a bloody nose. The bouquet evolves as the bottle grows emptier—it’s an aromatic voyage.
The other remarkable quality, almost unique in Vouvray, is the textural pleasure on the palate. No matter which bottling, one enjoys an elegant texture, which derives from the winemaker’s touch. Think of Lassalle, Meyer-Fonné, or Abbatucci, for example. All show the same sort of touch, the same luxurious textures.
I feel the wine market is turning its back on Vouvray as it did in the 1970’s, and for the same reasons—too much enologically correct mediocre plonk. Where is the winemaker, the touch? But we have a gem in the Champalou family, so in line with what we look for, so impeccable in terms of their work and their character……………..”
Yours for fine wine, Kermit Lynch
There has been a 2 to 3 year hiatus of us getting more of this wine. In reality, the production is just too small, especially in vintages like 2010 & 2011. Thankfully, we were able to get some 2012. The grapes come from a wind pounded hillside down in Monterey & we love how winemaker Eric Laumann is able to craft such a pretty, enticing, lush, rounded, wonderfully aromatic, food friendly white wine. We find these well executed, aromatic, refreshing white wines work their magic with contemporary fusion foods.
Owner/winemaker Mike Officer & his team are one of the TOP producers of Zinfandel out of California. His are real formidable, highly acclaimed wines, that’s for sure & deservedly so. He also produces a tiny bit of REALLY interesting white wine.
WHITE WINE “The Derivative” 2011—one of 2 white wines I know of that he produces. 66% Semillon (Monte Rosso—planted in 1886), which is fermented in oak; 24% Muscadelle (Pagani Ranch—planted in 1920) which fermented in stainless steel & 10% Palomino (from Saitone Ranch—118 year old vines), which is fermented in OLD oak, making it a total of 27% new oak. This wine has vinosity & a unique viscosity.
Here is one of the rising star, new producers of Sauternes. It hasn’t been easy for this relatively, new start up winery. Making a world-class Sauternes takes a lot of sacrifice, especially when you only 7 hectares of vineyards & your last job was an Atlantic fisherman. Still, everyone understands the awe-inspiring brilliance this winery deftly displays through their wines. Their biggest challenge is the unpredictability of Mother Nature & from therefore then trying to manage your limited cash flow. An extreme case is the 2011 vintage. A couple of their small batches could noy qualify under the Sauternes appellation. What to do? Here is the brilliant, magic answer in two different “looks”.
–2011 Domaine de L’Alliance “Declinaison”–A DRY, botrytis affected Semillon, aged in 350 liter barrels (new & 1 year old). TOTALLY exotic & interesting, way beyond anything you might have previously had.
–2011 Domaine de L’Alliance “Sauve des Eaux”–Again botrytis affected grapes, but done in a Moelleux style & aged in 2 to 3 year old barrels. Just another REAL eye opener!!!!