Category Archives: Macon

A Taste Of Burgundy – February 2017

 

 

tob-bannerBasic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

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2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey – Domaine Sainte Barbe

Jean-Marie Chaland founded Domaine Sainte Barbe in 1999. He farms 8 hectares in and around Viré-Clessé organically, achieving certification in 2006. He has old vines, as 75% of his holdings are over 50 years old. Chaland’s vines in the lieu dit Thurissey are over 90! Thurissey is a tiny vineyard, consisting of half a hectare facing due south. Jean-Marie makes a mere 200 cases of his showpiece wine, and no new oak is used. The vineyard has a reputation for producing wines that are rich in minerality, and we imagine the roots of Chaland’s old vines are deep into the clay and limestone subsoil. There’s no doubt that 2014 was an exceptional vintage for white Burgundy, and the 2014 Viré-Clessé Thurissey from Domaine Sainte Barbe is one special wine. Its aromas are of citrus blossoms, snappy apples, and stony minerals. The palate is rich and bright with a hint of a saline/mineral quality, and the wine intensifies at the mid-palate. It’s tightly coiled and ready to spring. Drink this from 2020-2030.

2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix – Domaine Stéphane Magnien

Stéphane Magnien is now the fourth generation winemaker at this domaine in Morey-Saint-Denis which dates back to 1897. He took the reins from his father, Jean-Paul in 2008, and farms 4.5 hectares in the Côte de Nuits. Though his holdings may appear small, they include some fancy locales. Stéphane’s Aux Petites Noix is actually a blend of his holdings in Premier Crus Les Greunchers and Clos Baulet, two tiny vineyards just east of the village. One doesn’t need to do much research to understand that 2010 was an exceptional vintage for red Burgundy, particularly in the Côte de Nuits. In general terms, the wines are teeming with expression and are structured sufficiently for a long life in the cellar. Magnien’s 2010 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Aux Petites Noix is in a beautiful place at the moment, showing aromas of briary red berry fruit, earthy mineral, and forest floor. It’s medium in body with great balance and expression. It’s open for business and can be enjoyed from today through the 2020’s. – Peter Zavialoff

 

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Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chardonnay, French Wine, Morey-Saint-Denis, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Stephane Magnien, Viré-Clessé

A Taste Of Burgundy – June 2016


A Taste Of Burgundy

TOB-BANNER Basic Facts for those of you who are new to the program: Every two months we select two Burgundies, one red and one white. We include write-ups detailing the background of the grower, the vineyard source, and the wine. Finally we knock a significant percentage off the prices of the wines, making the Sampler price $89.98. If you would like us to add you to the Sampler Club and receive the wines regularly, please notify us in the comments field, and we will charge your card accordingly. If you would like us to ship faster than the standard ground service, please specify this as well.

 

2014 Mâcon-Verzé, Domaine Leflaive

Domaine Leflaive needs no introduction. Their array of wines are some of white Burgundy’s most prized, highly allocated wines the world over. We can say with certainty that no wine from Leflaive has ever been in our Taste of Burgundy sampler. Legendary for their Grand Cru and Premier Cru holdings in and around Puligny-Montrachet, the domaine purchased nearly 10 hectares in Mâcon-Verzé a little over a decade ago. The late Anne-Claude Leflaive was a pioneer in biodynamic viticulture, and régisseur, Eric Remy continues to implement the techniques in the vineyards. The wines gain in precision and expression of terroir. The 2014 vintage for Burgundy’s white wines was fantastic. The 2014 Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé is rich and complex. Aromas of pears and citrus are framed by a speck of spice and apple pie. The palate is bright and pleasant with hints of minerals and the orchard fruit. There’s plenty going on here, but that’s what you get from anything with the vaunted Leflaive name on it. Drink 2017-2026.
*NOTE: This wine is allocated – meaning that after distribution to club members, a very small quantity will be left over for further purchases. After it sells out, we will be happy to substitute a wine of equal or greater value.

2014 Volnay 1er Cru Les Aussy, Domaine Michel Bouzereau

Allen Meadows of Burghound states that, “It is rare when almost every wine in a given domaine’s range outperforms for its level … It is even rarer when it happens again the next year but this is again what happened in 2014,” at Domaine Michel Bouzereau. The 2014 vintage got off to a smooth start with a warm, dry spring. Things changed in late June, as a hailstorm hit the Côtes de Beaune for the third year in a row, damaging vines in Volnay and Pommard. Jean-Baptiste Bouzereau said that he and his team “worked as hard as they ever have” to produce such a pure, gorgeous, penetrating Volnay that showcases the silver lining of having warm, dry weather that led up to the light, yet easy harvest. The wine has sturdy structure and reveals wonderful wild cherry and berry aromas. Jean-Baptiste made just 3 barrels of his Volnay in 2014, with one barrel being new. That’s 75 cases for the world. Bouzereau went on to say that, “I like the 2014’s, and I’d gladly make wines like these every year.” This will be best from 2019-2030. – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under A Taste of Burgundy, Burgundy, Burgundy club in San Francisco, Chardonnay, Macon, Peter Zavialoff, Pinot Noir, Volnay, Wine Clubs/Samplers

2012 Domaine Saint Barbe Vire-Clesse Vieilles Vignes – No Apologies


Q. Does one need to pay large amounts of money for a tasty bottle of white Burgundy?


Regular TWH customers already know the answer to that one.

A. Nope.

As importers, we have the luxury of meeting the producers, making the right deals, and getting the wines into the hands of our customers for less expenditure than the majority of wine merchants nationwide. Take our experience and our many relationships into consideration, and it’s not long before our showroom resembles a treasure chest of wine value. As if that’s not enough, every now and then, we have a sale where an item is marked down even further! That’s what we’re going to do today (and this weekend) with a solid white Burgundy which is now the best white wine deal in the shop. The 2012 Domaine Sainte Barbe Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes was another great direct-import value at $24.29 per bottle. Starting now, this weekend only, we’re going to slash that price by 35%. Starting now it’s $15.75 per bottle. Ready, set, go!


No apologies. All too often we hear about wines from humble, farming appellations being compared to wines that come from fancy, well-known, well-marketed origins; as in “The Meursault of the Mâcon.” No apologies. This wine is not Meursault. If you want Meursault, we have Meursault that we can sell you. No, this is Viré-Clessé. And you know what? It tastes like Viré-Clessé; and that’s a good thing!


I wrote a little blurb this past spring about Jean-Marie Chaland and his Domaine Sainte Barbe. So did Anya, here. Mentioning the 2012 Viré-Clessé, which comes from vines that are 55 years old, I went on to suggest that it will “hit its happy zone in 2017”, and no doubt, it will be great then, but judging from the bottle we opened this afternoon, I don’t think it’ll be around in 2017! It’s all tank-fermented, so it’s fresh and pure. The aromas are opulent. I got big-time apple-y Chardonnay fruit. I really couldn’t get past this apple characteristic, but I hadn’t yet tasted the wine. I asked Anya and Chris to give me their impressions. Chris and I are on the same page with the apple thing, Anya dug a little deeper. She explained that it was a bit of a surprise as to how the rich aromatic profile lulled us into thinking it would be super opulent, but it wasn’t. The wine has racy acidity that keeps the fruit in check in fine harmony. The more I sat with the glass, the more nuances I picked out. There are hints of stony minerals as well as a kiss of citrus blossom. Pretty classy stuff for $24.29 per bottle. Wait. Make that $15.75! Ready, set, go!

Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Macon, Peter Zavialoff, Vire-Clesse

Spring=Chardonnay=Domaine Sainte Barbe

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2012 Viré-Clessé from Domaine Sainte Barbe

Now that it’s officially spring, we can look ahead to all of the excitement that comes with it! Of the many great things about springtime, especially here in SF, is the warmer weather. And when it warms up, it just makes sense to enjoy a little chill in your vino! Anya recently regaled us about Jean-Marie Chaland’s unoaked Mâcon Villages Les Tilles, citing its sophistication for an entry-level offering. Jean-Marie also makes wines from Viré-Clessé, and if you love pure Chardonnay expression for a very fair price, you’re not going to want to miss out on these …
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Viré-Clessé is a recently created appellation (1999) in southern Burgundy, singling out a small parcel of land outside of Mâcon’s Pouilly appellations which is capable of producing high-quality Chardonnay. It’s interesting to note that the appellation’s rules dictate that only the dryest (3g residual sugar per liter or lower) wines are allowed to bear the Viré-Clessé label, and Chaland makes some sensational wines from this slice of southern Burgundy.

For his 2012 Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes, Jean-Marie’s sources are vines all in excess of 55 years old planted in clay and limestone soils. All tank vinified, the wine is aged on its lees for 14 months and bottled. It’s pure, unadulterated Chardonnay, all business, no pretense. Its structure suggests it should be hitting its happy zone from 2017, but an hour or so of decanting now will have it dancing effortlessly on your palate.
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Only 250 cases of Saint Barbe’s 2012 Viré-Clessé Perrière were made. The vines from this vineyard are 35 years old, and typically, the Perrière shows plentiful amounts of mineral notes. It’s aged in barrel, mostly 1 and 2 year old, with 10% being new. The 2012 is a wine marked by rich, ripe, fleshy white fruit flavors. The palate is full, expressive, and accessible; game on!

The vines in Chaland’s L’Épinet vineyard were planted in 1940! The soil consists of gravel upon red clay, and it sits on top a hill with southeast exposure. Jean-Marie uses one new barrel and the rest neutral in aging his l’Épinet, giving it a little texture to complement the dazzling, bright yellow fruit. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, the amalgam of complexity in the 2012 Viré-Clessé L’Épinet drinks well beyond its modest price-point.

Wow! Exciting times indeed. Springtime is here, warm weather straight ahead! Here are a trio of tasty Chardonnays that will impress your palates without “Burgundizing” your pocketbooks. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jean-Marie Chaland, Peter Zavialoff, Viré-Clessé

2012 Jean-Marie Chaland Macon Villages Les Tilles

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Sneaky – that’s the way I see it anyway. The 2012 Mâcon Villages Les Tilles from Jean-Marie Chaland is sneaky the way its flavors intensify with repeated sips. With an unoaked Chardonnay from the Mâconnais you might not expect much complexity, but this one is different. Once you get past the first refreshing, satisfying swallow, what emerges is a sophisticated expression of classic Chardonnay flavors like apple and pear. jmchaland

Talented winemaker Jean-Marie Chaland, whose swashbuckler good looks make him a shoo-in for a remake of The Three Musketeers, organically farms several old-vine (some darn near ancient) micro-parcels in the villages of Viré and Montbellet. The grapes for the 2012 Les Tilles are mere youngsters at 40-50 years old and come from a single parcel grown on a plateau of clay and limestone soil near Montbellet. Jean-Marie takes a simple approach to vinifying this wine: stainless steel tank fermentation, natural yeasts, no added sugars or acidification. What you taste in the glass, aside from any clever flavor descriptor I can come up with, is the environment in which the grapes were grown (soil, climate, viticultural practices) and Jean-Marie’s gentle guidance of turning the grapes into wine.

 

Jean-Marie Chaland may take a simple approach to making his 2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles but the end result is extraordinary. It is analogous to a chef, someone like Judy Rodgers of Zuni Cafe, who honored ingredients by skillfully preparing them without masking their inherent goodness and flavors. When you have a perfectly ripened garden tomato or a farm-fresh egg, there is not a whole lot you need to do to make it taste better.
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And so to recap, the 2012 Mâcon-Villages Les Tilles:
1) organically grown grapes,
2) grown on clay/limestone soil,
3) 40-50 year old vines,
4) unoaked
and….
5) $19.99 per bottle or $16.99 by the case!
Did I just hear a needle scratch over the record? I must admit, I have tried excellent unoaked local Chardonnay but I can assure you, they don’t cost under $20 a bottle! An amazing value when you consider the material in the bottle.
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Sent my big Bro home with a bottle!

Now for a little sharing – rather than watch the Super Bowl at home with her parents, my daughter opted to spend it at her BFF’s house – they too were having a party. Right after halftime, she called home to inform us that she had eaten dinner. After I assured her that that was fine and that I expected she would have eaten with them, she followed up by making me promise to save some of the Buffalo Wings we were serving for her to eat later! My little foodie!

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Burgundy, Macon

2012 Macon-Burgy From Domaine Saint Barbe

One of the many great things about working for a company like TWH is that we get the opportunity to experience some unusual, off-the-beaten-path, wine-geek-wines every now and then.  The Clairet de Bordeaux from last year comes to mind; then there’s the Beaujolais Blanc from a couple of years ago; or more recently, a handful of wines from central Europe and the Balkans. What makes a wine a “wine-geek” wine? There are no rules – but low production, lesser known grape varietals, or perhaps familiar varietals from unusual terroirs qualify. What we have here is the latter. What we have here is a red Mâcon. Wait. Aren’t Mâconnais wines made from Chardonnay? Sure, the white ones are, but red? A little research yields the fact that there are indeed red wines from Mâcon. What’s the grape? Gamay. Introducing the 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe.

Having worked here for several years, my instincts have become spot-on regarding certain facets of our business. I don’t have either the time or patience to list out (and link to our blog) the litany of tres cool wines that David has discovered during his trips to France each year. I do have many memories of our staff gathered around the tasting table after work trying something new to us. When we taste a new wine that could be described as “a winner”, we don’t hold back, the praise is heaped high as we enjoy what’s left in the bottle of the new kid on the block. David is a humble man. Sometimes he may give us a chuckle, but usually just a wry smile and an, “It’s good, right?” The other day, a regular customer friend of David’s came in looking for some Burgundy. I had a lot on my plate so I wasn’t paying close attention, but then I heard him say,
“Now here’s something I found on my last trip. It’s Red Macon. Made from really old-vine Gamay. He only makes a few barrels, and I managed to get one of them! It is amazing; seriously amazing wine (insert proud chuckle).” I’ve been working with David long enough to read that one right. I pride myself on being a man of great patience (though that seems out the window here), but waiting for the next time the entire staff is present in order to maybe taste this wine, I knew, was not going to fly. So I put one on my invoice and popped it in the coldbox for 25 minutes. I poured out a little taste for Anya, Tom, and myself, and it went down something like this.
“Is it worth 27 bucks?”
“Oh, man. It smells amazing.”
“Does it smell like Beaujolais?”
“No. I mean I can sense the Gamay, but there’s so much more.”
“How’s the palate?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been enjoying the nose for 5 minutes now.”
At this point, I gave Tom and Anya their tasting glasses.
“Wow. That smells amazing! Is that not Pinot Noir?”
“No, it’s Gamay.”
“That’s a whole different kind of Gamay than I’ve ever smelled.”
“No kidding. I can smell this all day, in fact I haven’t even tasted it yet, I’ve just been taking in the aromas.”
“That’s-that’s-that’s what I was just saying!!!”
We all went in for a taste.
“That’s lovely. Reminds me a lot of the Clos Marc, you know with those herbal aromas, and the not-so-fruity, dry finish?”
“Yup. I know what you mean. It doesn’t seem to have that carbonic thing that you get with a Beaujolais.”
“Right. It’s not a tutti-fruity straight-forward George DeBoeuf Beaujolais.”
“I like it. I like wines like this. That herbal thing makes it super cool for me.”

Back to our work stations for a little research, and it was revealed that the vines this wine was sourced from were up to 80 years old! Contrary to my observation, as is custom in Mâcon, the wine underwent carbonic maceration.  There is some complex, ripe cherry fruit in the aromatics, but it falls back in line with the structure of the wine on the palate resulting in a fresh, zippy, non-unctuous fruity finish. Hints of tobacco and forest floor hover in the distance. All in all, it’s another winner, courtesy of David’s most recent prospecting trip to Burgundy!

Did I mention there was a lot on my plate? Yes, there is. I’m done whining about it. We are all super excited about our new 2012 Mâcon-Burgy from Domaine Sainte Barbe.  After having survived the recent heatwave, I thought it proper to make my selection of the week a red wine. A red wine that one could put a little chill on and enjoy on a warm day/evening. Did I mention it was only 12.5% alcohol? Yes, c’est vrai. You don’t see many Mâcon Rouges out there, fewer that are imported into California; embrace your inner wine-geek and give the Sainte Barbe Mâcon-Burgy a shot. – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments about Gamay, wine-geek wines, Bordeaux, what to do now that footy season is over, or the band’s new album’s release date: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under Barbecue Wine, Gamay, Macon, Peter Zavialoff