|Happy New Year! Well, it worked. The reaction to my last write-up of the year resulted in brisk sales and heaps of praise for our new Chablis producer, Sébastien Dampt. The Premier Cru Côtes de Léchet is almost sold out, but do not fear; this past week our staff got to taste the full line of wines from this exciting young producer. Let me just say one thing: Wow!!! From bottom to top, the wines are impeccable, and to quote Burghound’s Allen Meadows one more time, “They are screaming bargains.” If you even remotely fancy a nice, crisp Chablis every now and then, you need to come speak with anyone on our staff about these wonderful wines.
2013 was an exciting year here at TWH, David having signed up a handful of new producers who now sport “Imported by Wine House Limited” on their respective back labels. But, to translate a quote from Karl Lagerfeld in the film La Doublure, “I am never satisfied. On to the next.” And so we move on to the next. A new year means new wine tasting experiences, both here and abroad. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux traveling junket will be passing through the states at the end of the month, and I’m all set to fly to LA to taste the newly bottled 2011’s. The vintage didn’t receive as much fanfare as 2009 or 2010, but I was able to find some outstanding 2011 samples when I tasted them in the spring of 2012.
One of the more memorable 2011 tastings occurred on day one of the frantic week. I began on the Right Bank in 2012. I prefer to spend the first Monday in the Médoc, but that’s another story, and that’s just how it worked out in 2012. Appointment #2 was with François Mitjavile at his Tertre Roteboeuf in St. Emilion. I was welcomed into his home, declined his offer for some coffee, and we sat and discussed the vintage. I’ve always thought of François as a renaissance man, and chuckled when I spied Keith Richards’ autobiography on the table. Call me a kool-aid drinker all you want, but I not only believe that every vintage has something to offer, I appreciate the individuality of each vintage, especially in Bordeaux. François finished up his coffee, the conversation concluded, and it was off to the cellar. I had been there about 30 minutes at this point, and I was puzzled as to why no one else was there yet. I tasted through François’ 3 wines, and he explained that he was a bit miffed by the early development of them, as they were not “in their proper place” to present to the press and trade. Well, this was like an overprotective father with his shy child. We were tasting barrel samples, so no one should be looking for a fine glass of wine here. The samples were all fine, they were just tightly wound. Time and oxygen usually sort that out, so I wasn’t worried, but then again, I wasn’t the winemaker.
What was impressive, was the barrel sample of 2011 Domaine l’Aurage, made by François’ son, Louis. I was first introduced to Domaine l’Aurage via Louis’ 2009 vintage, and it was a huge hit with both staff and customers alike. What wasn’t to like? It had it all: charm, finesse, balance, and that silky, almost Burgundian mouthfeel. Apples don’t fall far from their trees, that’s for sure. The Mitjavile family style of winemaking has been passed to the next generation. When I tasted the 2011 sample of l’Aurage, it didn’t come with a “proceed with caution” warning. The 2011 was very reminiscent of the 2009: fresh purple fruit sitting atop soft, silky structure. It had power, but it had balance. It was indeed impressive. Somewhere in the middle of this visit, the bell rang. François and I were joined by Jeannie Cho Lee MW! I was introduced to her by François as “an old friend”, and Jeannie smiled and replied, “He doesn’t look so old.” Wow. Was she flirting with me? François excused himself for a moment, and ran upstairs for something, and Jeannie turned to me and asked, “It’s a little reductive, don’t you think?” I then explained what François told me before we tasted. When she tasted the sample of the 2011 l’Aurage, she didn’t say anything. I looked at her with raised eyebrows. She nodded. I nodded. She smiled.
We didn’t buy the 2010 l’Aurage. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. (See? It’s not just customers who regret not purchasing something). But the currency situation was less favorable when the time came to buy the 2010, so it wouldn’t have been priced so well. But guess what? While it is still on pre-arrival, the 2011 Domaine l’Aurage is available at the same price that we sold the 2009 for, $29 per bottle. For all of the Mitjavile magic in that bottle, that folks, is a steal!
Yes, a new year means new wine tasting experiences. I’m looking forward to the UGC Bordeaux tasting, yes, that will be interesting. For me, Bordeaux is still the benchmark, as Bordeaux delivers. Prices for the famous chateaux are certainly in the stratosphere, but hey, when you’ve got winemakers like Louis Mitjavile and wines like the 2011 Domaine l’Aurage coming in at $29 on pre-arrival, it’s good to be right here on Earth. – Peter Zavialoff
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about 2011 Bordeaux, Domaine l’Aurage, or English Football: firstname.lastname@example.org