GREAT BURGUNDY VALUE ‘IN DISGUISE’

There are two parts to this story, the most important being a delicious, well-priced bottle of Pinot Noir from older vines.  The house of  Maison Bertrand Amboise is a well-respected source for red and white Burgundy with a particularly important association with the villages of Nuits-St.-George and an elevated reputation for that appellation since the early 90s.

The domaine itself dates back to the late 18th century. Bertrand took control of the estate in 1988 after the death of Martin’s (Bertrand’s wife) father and has never looked back. Today Bertrand’s son, Francois, manages the vineyards (w/Bertrand) & daughter, Ludivine, manages the commercial aspects of the domaine; allowing Bertrand to concentrate on the winemaking.

Low yields and ripe skins allow for long, slow fermentations on the skins, sometimes 3+ weeks, which is why these wines have more color than most and a sweeter impression of the tannins.  All cuvees are 100% destemmed.  The Victor Fagon Bourgogne Rouge 2016 exhibits a lovely blue fruit note in the peripheral flavors as a result of that ‘ripe skin’ process.  It is particularly evident in the case of a 2016, a good vintage but one that didn’t always show that ‘next level’ ripeness.  This wine actually shares textural and flavor elements that are a bit more pandering like a 2015 red Burgundy, but a brightness more associated with the vintage of record.

The juice comes from vines that average 50 years old located in Premeaux-Prissey, the southern part of Nuits-St-Goerges.  Raised in 2-5 year old barrels, it is rather dark in color for a Burgundy with upfront, powerful blackberry fruit in the nose, refined tannins, and loads of darker fruits across the palate with aspects of soil and oak spice.   It’s a surprisingly good effort for the fare, and, like we said, shares as much with a 2015 as 2016 stylistically.  This would have been an email but people have already been nibbling on it to the point where our ‘par’ quantities were below necessary levels.  We wrote this so a few more folks got the ‘411’ before it disappears.

Why are we talking about Bertrand Amboise and Victor Fagon in such a casual, back and forth manner? We know it’s a little confusing, with the wine’s moniker different from the estate notes.  This happens occasionally in the world of wine.  Sometimes a producer is linked with an importer who may not be doing everything the producer would like.  But the producers have legal/contractual restraints as to what they can market under their own brand.  This is one of those cases, and this is a great ‘workaround’ for such cases.

The name on the label represents Francois’s son “Victor” and “Guy-Crescent Fagon”, doctor to Louis XIV and important benefactor to the wines of Nuits Saint Georges.  Victor Fagon is an amalgam of the two names for marketing purposes.  In the end, it’s the wine that matters, and this one delivers.

THE OTHER DAUVISSAT

In ancient growing areas, there are families whose names become inexorably connected to the region through long time association and success.  Reverdy in Sancerre is such a name where the reputation is associated with one house in particular, but the name through extended familial connections appears on many labels.  On Chablis, the name Dauvissat is a revered one for those who appreciate the best in traditional styling.  Vincent and Rene Dauvissat are the icon source and among the most respected in all of Chablis alongside Raveneau, names notwithstanding.  But a family that has been in an area for a long time should be expected to have some sort of family tree.

We have sold a number of V&R Dauvussat’s Chabis over the years, as well as a few things from extended family members Jean & Sebastien Dauvissat.  Agnes et Didier Dauvissat are new to us and, themselves, are distant cousins who worked in vineyards but, prior to 1987, owned no vines.  Their estate is in the town of Beine about ten minutes west of Chablis.

Thanks  to the familial connection, Didier did do his apprenticeship with Vincent.  There are three different estates with this Dauvissat moniker, this being the youngest.  But whatever the gene is for making good Chablis, these folks seem to have inherited it. We tasted three wines from the estate, a Petit Chablis, Chablis ‘villages’, and a Beauroy 1er Cru from the 2017 vintage.

While we would happily consume any one of them, the Agnes et Didier Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2017 was simply too good to say no to.  This is a powerful, classic Chablis with intense minerality and salinity exploding out of the pear/citrus fruit.  Stop and smell the rocks?  This Chablis grabbed our attention even among an impressive lineup of other and the authoritative palate and overt ‘Chablisness’ made it most memorable.

Since this plot, called the Cote de Savant, is located on the slope that sits above the pond, the presence of the water has the micro-climatic effect of mediating temperatures when the weather gets warm.  The vines are hitting 20 years old with this vintage.  This particular presentation added a lot of information to the database.  This Dauvissat definitely has chops and is another to pay attention to.  The 2017 vintage in Chablis is at least very good to excellent based on what we have tasted thus far, but there is precious little of this delicious, well-priced ($24.98) Premier Cru to go around (only about 500 bottles are produced).

THE NEXT CHABLIS SUPERSTAR: SEBASTIEN CHRISTOPHE

Chablis is an interesting place.  The yellow soils are unlike anything we have seen anywhere else in the wine world.  Yet for as uniform as the surface area appears, there is a great variation to the various elements of terroir and how it manifests in the hands of a broad array of producers.  While people speak of the flinty aspects imparted by the Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils, great Chablis is more than ‘how do you like your rocks’.

Some examples lean more chalky, some more like seashell in this ancient marine area, and a lot of producers can be successful by simply playing that aspect of the terroir.  But the real differentiating factor is how the fruit plays.  It is remarkable how specific the profiles of the various Crus play out, with Les Clos having a more floral and peachy undercurrent to Grenouille with its extremely flinty, more savory profile.  We love quality Chablis in  virtually any form, but there is a particular profile that is perhaps our favorite.

We picked up on a certain aspect of fruit, for lack of a better description, sour apple, back when we were exploring a new label we were quite excited with back in the early 90s called Raveneau.  We saw a certain expression of that same apple and flint combination woven through the wines of Tomas Pico’s Pattes Loup.   We see that again as a backdrop to the wines of the still relatively unknown Sebastien Christophe.

This guy isn’t in town but on the outskirts.  His first property was a tiny parcel in Petit Chablis.  But it has been clear from the first taste that this vigneron has special skills.  His domain has expanded via rental and purchase, but if you make your bones with Petit Chablis and Chablis Villages, it may be a while before fame hits you.  This guy is destined to be a force, but we are more than happy to quietly enjoy his appley, stony, bright, precise and reasonably fleshy Chablis at normal prices while the rest of the world figures it out.

The Christophe et Fils Chablis Village 2017 is not only beautifully made but reflects the specifics of a singular spot.  The wine exhibits serious endowment of talented vineyards as most face the Grand Cru Blanchots and sit just behind the great 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre.  The soils are almost purely Kimmeridgian stones that are unusually brittle and sharp.  It is a deeply savory and fully ripe wine that shows the greatest degree of what a Chablis “village” wine can accomplish.

In other words this does not show like an entry level Chablis, with a surprising density to the fruit that sits on top of perfectly proportioned acidity.  It is of an unexpected quality and purity for ‘villages’ level and can play with Premier Cru efforts from other producers.  We have been early to the table with a number of exceptional Chablis producers over the years, and we think this is one of those times.  For under $30, it’s a find and one that has found its way into our own drinking rotation.

WHITE BURGUNDY’S ‘NEXT BIG THING’

As most of you who have been with us for a while know, we have been standard bearers for Beaujolais.  We have brought you amazing values like some of the single-vineyard bottlings from Dubouef, promoted the classics like Thevanet, Lapierre, and Burgaud and chronicled the Cote d’Or invasion from the likes Girardin and Liger-Belair.  For us, Beaujolais has always been important.  In doing our research for the wines we were going to promote, we kept running across the name Jules Desjourneys.  Often when we would be reading extensive critical notes on the genre, Desjourneys wines were on another level review-wise.

It is simply in our DNA to have a look at everything thing we could, but at the time there was no West Coast distribution for Desjourneys.  Some years later, we were finally presented with the wines from this esteemed producer.  They were, as advertised, spectacular and unique examples of the genre.  But the prices really put a clamp on what we could do with the wines, with some of the bottlings hitting $60-70 for Beaujolais.  There was clearly enough sizzle for us to keep on top of it to look for opportunities. But for something selling for nearly double names like Lapierre and Thevenin, we had to pick our battles carefully.

It long ago we were given the opportunity to review the newest lineup from Desjourneys, this time including a couple of white wines.  Before we go on, around here after years of tasting, we often use the terminology ‘white wine from a red wine guy’, or vice versa.  In our experience, there is a high probability that a producer that is best known for red wines, for example, simply doesn’t have quite the same touch with whites.  They are usually solid but lack that certain, special something that puts them on that top level.   It has been generally true from little producers all the way up to legends like Coche-Dury and Ramonet.  This was going through our minds as we looked down the lineup of Desjourneys, and we figured we would politely taste the whites and move on.

No one was more surprised than we were at how impressive these whites were!  As we worked through the reds, we kept thinking about how much we loved the whites.  Yes they were from southern Burgundy, and it’s hard to convince people that Pouilly Fuisse could perform at the level of something from the Cote d’Or given how many ordinary examples they had run across in their experience.  However there are notable exceptions that come along every once in a while.  You might recall several fabulous releases wee sold a while back from Robert-Denogent.  Well, ‘red wine guy’ or not, these Chardonnays from Dejourneys amazed.

First a little background.  Fabien Duperray was an agent for some of the Cote d’Or biggest stars and, presumably by association, had the mindset to create an estate that would be on the level of what he was accustomed to.  Starting in 2007, he found some small plots in Beaujolais and accumulated 7+ hectares of choice, steep hillside plots in Fleurie and Moulin-a-Vent, Morgan and Chénas with vines ranging from 65 to 140 years old.  He improved his own winemaking in leaps, and now farms in a way one writer called ‘beyond biodynamic’.  He runs the place like a Cote d’Or estate, right down to the best corks, and it shows in the wines.

There are stories about how miniscule his yields are, and how he employed as many as 50 people to harvest and hand sort this tiny estate so that everything was optimally ripe.  The result has been wines that David Schildknecht, then of Wine Advocate, called, “…some of the most remarkable Beaujolais wines of my experience, and perhaps ever rendered.”  He has become something of a rock star in Beaujolais.  Clearly the guy is destined to be a white wine superstar once people find out about it.  But there isn’t much wine out there and even less information (even on Desjournays own web site).

What we can say is that, from the first taste, that whole ‘red wine guy making white wine’ went out
la fenêtre.  There is clear viticulture/winemaking mastery going on here and these whites are profound beverages and unique in their expression.  For less than the price of an ordinary Chassagne you can have some of the most intriguing Chardonnays we’ve ever had out of the southern part of Burgundy…ever.  These are very special and more than fairly priced for what they are.

Jules Desjourneys Saint Veran 2014- Not only were we bowled over by these wines but were thrilled to find some from such a sensational vintage.  From 60 year-old vines in clay and limestone soils, it all starts in the nose with this floral apple and yellow fruit impression but soon complexing notes of spice, limestone minerality, hints of wild herbs and toast began to evolve.  On the palate it is at once mouth-filling and crisp with streaks of earth, spice, mineral and toast subtly interwoven with no single element sticking out of the core of yellow stone fruit and ripe apple.  You are left with a lingering impression of spice and just the right cut of saliva-tickling acidity.  Can’t say we have ever had a Saint Veran this serious or quite like this.

Jules Desjourneys Pouilly Vinzelles 2014-A notch up with perhaps a bit more incisive aromatics and a touch more of a toasty element evident, there’s a touch of citrus (oranges?) as well to the white and yellow peach fruit center.  Again we have richness without thickness and the palate is fully engaged with the spice, mineral, and a little grilled almond nuance.  It is seriously engaging again, maybe with a couple more ‘notes’ to the ‘music’ but that same presence on the palate and that almost lightly ‘pulpy’ texture.  The few notes we have say that this one is done in 100% stainless steel, and that Fabien is a minimalist almost to the extreme, yet all aspects are orchestrated precisely.  Delicious.

We also have bits of the Jules Desjourneys Pouilly Loche 2015 and Jules Desjourneys Pouilly Fuisse 2015.  While we have been less excited about the 2015 vintage for whites overall, our objection is usually that they are a little flaccid.  Not so here as these have a brightness that is definitely more identifiable structurally with 2014s, though they are slightly weightier.  We could go on but there really isn’t that much wine and we could find no reviews of the whites anywhere.  So for now they are our little secret.  Suffice it to say these need to be tasted and they provided us with the kind of Burgundy ‘aha’ moment we rarely have.

Like we said, there wasn’t anything written about this vintage.  But a look ahead suggests that this exciting new source is about to get some serious attention.

FRANCOIS LECLERC GEVREY: ANOTHER DELICIOUS, WELL-PRICED 2015

Everybody enjoys a good tale about a wine, and, frankly, we like telling them.  But ultimately it is about the juice and sometimes there isn’t always riveting discourse to accompanying the offer.  We accept that sometimes, particularly with Burgundy houses which are often the toughest  to find info.  These are people tied to the land that make small bits of multiple wines, not the easiest fodder for their stories or ours.

But Burgundy in particular isn’t about glossy brochures and state-of-the-art websites.  Those things don’t actually fit in with the general vibe of the place.  There isn’t a lot of ‘technical’ discussion at most places either as most of the successful domaines these days are reaching back into the less-manipulative past as the game plan for the future.  Plowing by horses, harvesting by hand, using the minimal treatment in the vineyards and dialing back the oak are the current trends.

The story on Rene Leclerc is pretty straight-forward.  The current generation is the third to run the domain since its inception in 1976.  The reins have been quietly passed from father Rene to son Francois who still respects his father’s approach but has instituted a number of changes including lower yields, no new oak in the cellar, and an adherence to the current trend toward non-interventionist protocols.  Francois did some time in Oregon and has a clear vision of how he wants to play it here in the home estate.

We tell this rather typical story because we absolutely love this village Gevrey from the juicy 2015 vintage.  The Francois Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin 2015 is everything good about both this ripe, round harvest and the classic dark cherry fruit with some earth and mineral elements as dictated by this particular, special terroir.  The Rene Leclerc Gevrey Chambertin 2015 comes from 11 different parcels over 5.33 hectares including Pressonier, Croix des Champs, and Clos Prieur.  This is why people get hooked on Burgundy…tender edges, subtle, layered dark cherry fruit infused with notes of earth and darker mineral that support but don’t interfere with the fruit.  Complete, satisfying, and clearly sure about its origins.

We have had the good fortune to taste this wine on three different occasions, and it has been a consistent crowd-pleaser.  The price is at the lesser end of the quality ‘village’ Burgundy choices and the well expressed terroir and tender palate makes it our preference over similarly priced domestic versions.  The engaging 2015 vintage is in full array here.

BURGUNDY BARGAIN HUNTER: EPISODE 2

The Haute Cotes refers to some of Burgundy’s highest vineyards along the crest of the generally east facing hills, typically above the more famous vineyards on the upper slopes.  Usually fairly rugged land with the vines planted in more rock than dirt, these are typically firm and sturdy and require a bit of time to come around.  The difference a little bit more sunshine makes is that there is more ripe fruit over the typically edgy acidity and sometimes stern minerality.  That changes the whole personality of these wines for the good and gives them a more fruit driven persona.

The Clairs have owned parcels in the region for generations but sold mainly to negociants.  Denis founded the domaine in 1986 with the intention of bottling his own wine.  Here the dark red leaning to blue fruits has a tension with the more typical fresh acidity to create a rather compelling mouthful, and the extra weight from the vintage makes the whole proposition work in a way that it rarely does giving the wine a tenderness and weight that will appeal to a larger audience, though there is still plenty of tension from these elevated sites.

The Francois & Denis Clair Haut Cotes de Beaune 2015 comes from 35 year-old vines situated with a south-east exposure looking out over Maranges.  All hand harvested, the wine sees 15 months in vat.  What a difference a little bit more flesh can make and, once again, the area’s more typical lack of fame helped keep the price down.  It’s a rather screaming bargain for a red Burgundy in the in-demand 2015 vintage at under $20.

BURGUNDY BARGAIN HUNTER: EPISODE 1

Named for the 300-year-old Southern Burgundy village in which it is located, Monthelie-Douhairet was run by the Douhairet family for many years.  In 1989, Madame Douhairet asked renowned winemaker André Porcheret to take charge and added his name to the domaine.  One of the great figures in Burgundy during the past half-century, André was the cellar manager at the Hospices de Beaune from 1976–1988, before he was hired by Lalou Bize Leroy to make wines at the newly created Domaine Leroy from 1988–1993. He returned to the Hospices de Beaune from 1994–1999, and since 1989, he has also been overseeing Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret’s 15 acres, mainly in the Côte de Beaune appellations of Pommard, Volnay, Meursault and Monthelie.

Located between Volnay and Auxey Duresses set back a bit from the main route through Burgundy, this is one of those spots that has a solid history but only hits the high notes in top vintages.  For a winemaker like Porchoret in a warm year like 2015, the sweet red fruits pulled all of the minerality and earth notes together within one elegant presentation.  The Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret Monthelie 1er Cru Les Duresses 2015 presents dusty cherries, a bit of mulberry, and some subtle stony minerality underneath.

What a vintage like 2015 does is provide the additional flesh and weight that this area usually is a little short on, which changes the whole dynamic of the wine.  And, with the less exalted reputation of the region overall, there is an upper limit to what vintners can charge,  making the price something of a bargain.  In truth this producer has been a go-to in warmer vintages here for several years now.   A fine effort.

HILLTOP STAR: Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly Cuvee des Ambassades 2016

There is more than just a passing resemblance between the label on Paul Jambon’s lengthily titled Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly and one of our benchmark sources from the Cote de Brouilly, Domaine Thivin.  There is a whole lot of history as well as one of the more intriguing new (to us) discoveries in the world of Beaujolais.  Now none of the folks here are newcomers, nor are they another of the wave of vintners from the Cote d’Or that have taken a recent interest in these southern Burgundy vineyards.  This estate was acquired by the Jambon Chanrion family around the time of the American Civil War (1861).

The Thivin estate had already been around for quite a while, tracing its roots back to the 14th Century, and possibly the 12th.   Fast forward a little to shortly after the First World War when Pavillon de Chavannes’ history became intertwined with that of Château Thivin.  When Yvonne Chanrion married Claude Geoffray, he controlled Thivin, then a small estate, via inheritance. Yvonne brought with her one-third of her family’s highly regarded vineyards as an inheritance, and later she acquired her sister’s one-third as well.

Over the years, Yvonne and Claude added to Thivin’s holdings with other land purchases, but the couple never bore children. Yvonne outlived her husband.  Upon her death in 1987, the sisters’ original two-thirds inheritance reverted to Paul Jambon of the Jambon-Chanrion family, along with fifty percent of the land Yvonne and Claude had purchased subsequently over the course of their marriage.  Chavannes de Pavillon was now a new expanded entity.  The Art Deco wine label, created in the 1930s, was a product of Yvonne and Claude’s marriage. After Yvonne’s death and the restoration of the Chavannes’ vineyards, this label became joint property of both Thivin and Chavannes, and now it is used by both domains under their respective names.

Cool stuff, great story, but as you know we wouldn’t be telling it if there wasn’t some pretty serious wine as a part of the latest chapter.  Mont Brouilly is a unique spot, rising to a height of 1,587 feet all by its lonesome like  an old volcanic thumb sticking out of a plain.  The Romans cultivated vines on its flanks, and almost certainly vines to one degree or another have been raised on its steep sides ever since.  Paul Jambon grew up here and is now making some impressive wine in the ‘old way’.

Today Pavillon de Chavannes consists of 37 prime acres on Mont Brouilly and Paul and Betty Jambon make two cuvées from separate vineyards. The top wine is this one, Cuvee des Ambassades, which comes from 12 acres of Paul’s best parcels.  The name ‘cuvee Ambassades’ (ambassadors cuvee) is rather a literal one as this Cote de Brouilly is purchased by the Quai d’Orsay for use in French embassies around the world. It is the last wine to be bottled by the estate in a given vintage and it is the most age-worthy.

The Cote de Brouilly is all about the blue granite that is laced with volcanic porphyry, or crystallized mineral deposits.  The Cote de Brouilly appellation refers only to the higher, better-ripening parcels (the rest is simply labeled Brouilly) on the upper part of the hill.  Within those parameters, Paul’s holding are the highest and the steepest in this elevated appellation.  As we touched on earlier, this is a very old school Beaujolais stylistically in the best sense.

Traditional winemaking allows this concentrated wine to showcase pure, intense red-leaning-to-black fruits with hints of spice and plenty of the granite minerality for which this particular ‘rock’ is known.  There is plenty of gushing fruit here, almost like a 2015, but the fruit has a cooler profile, more lift to the fruit and brighter flavors.   A recent change in the cellar (circa the 2015 vintage) has been to rack this wine in stainless steel instead of old foudres which keeps the fruit all that much fresher.  The Pavillon de Chavannes Cote de Brouilly Cuvee des Ambassades 2016 is classic Beaujolais that wants to be Burgundy, and it delivers on that promise.  Mouth-filling and delicious, you can drink it now or, like most of the top wines from the ‘Cote’, it will age as well.  Yet at $19.98 it definitely won’t break the bank.  It’s an exceptional find and a lot of wine for the d’argent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Serious’ Beaujolais from Joseph Drouhin

For even as long as we have been in the wine game, we can still get surprised.  Perhaps not as often, mind you, mind you, but it still happens. Last year we reported on the inaugural releases for the new Beaujolais project from Burgundy powerhouse Joseph Drouhin. Given the wines success in that that opening offer, we were anxious to see where the path lead, particularly given the fact that Drouhin’s next releases were from the amazing 2015 vintage.

Last go around with Drouhin, however, we ran across something we had never seen before, three site-designated Cru Beaujolais.  As always, we check the stuff out.  It’s our job, but we really didn’t know anything about these wines and had no expectations back then. There’s a pretty cool story to go along with these classy Beaujolais.

The Hospices de Belleville (a hospital) opened in 1773 to take care of the poor and the sick in the region.  The Hôtel-Dieu of Belleville benefited right from its construction from charitable donations from generous benefactors hoping for the salvation of their souls (kind of like the Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy). Today, the hospital has retained ownership of the 14 hectares of vineyards across Fleurie, Brouilly, and Morgon.  As of the 2014 vintage, the Hospices has entrusted Maison Joseph Drouhin with the production and the marketing of their wines under their name “Hospices de Belleville.”

After last year’s fantastic opening salvo we were most excited to see what we got in a critically acclaimed vintage like 2015.  The 2014s as a group impressed, got good reviews, and generally hit all the right buttons.  We found the 2015s to be pretty remarkable as well, but not necessarily what we expected stylistically.  In a vintage that was generally about as subtle as a strumpet, the Drouhin versions came off more like great Burgundy with refined structure and perfectly measured fruit.

If you are looking for something gregarious to drink in the short-term, that is a somewhat different matter.   If instead you are looking for something that you can cellar and pull out down the road that emulates the structure and complexity of a fine Burgundy, and didn’t cost you a small fortune, this one plays that hand beautifully.

We first tasted this wine several months ago and our impression at the time was that this one had ‘all the right stuff.’  But our feeling was that, from the standpoint of marketing, this one was going to be much better with a little time in the bottle.  It is interesting to note that the reviews for this wine, from people who aren’t necessarily inclined to pass out big scores, spanned nearly a year (December, 2016, April, 2017, and December 2017) and were noticeably better at each juncture.

Once again the talents of the Drouhin team and this very special dirt combined to make something very special.  We chose to focus specifically this time on the Joseph Drouhin Fleurie Hospices de Belleville 2015.  Drouhin has done Belleville proud again here, and the Fleurie expresses the individual terroir of this Beaujolais Cru.  All the wines are crafted in a Burgundian style, using 500 liter barrels and only a small amount of carbonically macerated fruit.  The Fleurie comes from three separate parcels owned by the Hospices totaling 6.4 hectares.

There seems to be a rare accord among the critics with regard to the Drouhin wines in general, and the Joseph Drouhin Fleurie Hospices de Belleville 2015 in particular.  James Suckling was concise, “ This is very linear and refined with beautiful tannins and minerality. Medium-bodied, very pretty and focused. Tight and polished. Serious… 93 points”

From Alan Meadows, aka Burghound,”A similar if slightly more elegant nose that is a bit spicier if less earthy introduces notably finer middle weight flavors that possess a velvety texture before terminating in an impressively persistent finish. This is really very good and a wine that could be enjoyed young or aged for a few years to good effect…92 points ♥” (the ♥ is an extra ‘bonus’ tout from Burghound for wines with a special appeal).

Finally, from last December, Vinous’ Josh Raynolds offered, “Vivid ruby. Very fresh and expressive on the nose, offering intense cherry and red berry liqueur qualities and a smoky mineral overtone. Shows very good freshness and thrust on the palate; vivacious raspberry and bitter cherry flavors become sweeter on the back half. Displays excellent clarity and delineation and closes long and sweet, featuring lingering red fruit character and harmonious tannins…92 points.”

The testimony is voluminous, the promise of this nascent project clear, and the potential of this particular bottling for both the glass and the cellar clearly evident.

 

 

 

 

 

Great, well-priced, go-to Beaujolais…we got that

As a store that has been heavy into the Beaujolais game for more than a quarter century, it is interesting to note how much more interest the genre gets now than it did a couple decades ago.  The thing it that most of that attention is devoted to the ‘cru’ level wines and folks like Liger Belair and Desjourneys who are trying to shake the traditional foundations of Beaujolais.

If you are looking for the classic, juicy, versatile example of Beaujolais, there are plenty of them out there, particularly from special vintages like 2015 and 2016.  Unfortunately they are usually the entry level wine of some producer’s hierarchy and, because they are usually overshadowed by those ‘upper cuvees’, are less likely to get the kind of reviews that will inspire buyers.

Market mechanics are a big part of the equation to be sure.  But one of the producers that has been a part of our lineup by virtue of a consistent juiciness and engaging personality to their wines is Domaine de Colette.  These guys make that fruit driven, in-your face style that will make friends and influence people…in other words classic Beaujolais.  The 2016 shows pure, ripe Gamay with very specific flavors that sit atop beautifully measured tension that gives this wine an uncommon energy along with a pleasing core of fruit.

The comments from Vinous’ Josh Raynolds on the Domaine de Colette Beaujolais Villages Coteaux de Colette 2016 are very positive, “Vivid red. Spicy, mineral-accented red berry and floral scents, along with a hint of white pepper. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering tangy red currant and strawberry flavors and a touch of allspice. Unfolds slowly, picking up a subtle floral pastille quality on the gently tannic, focused finish.’   But perhaps on a more mundane level, if you are looking for a well made, fruit driven, really pleasing Beaujolais, Colette has been a good source for us for a long time and this is a particularly good example.  Great price for the performance!