Showing posts with label Just Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Just Wine. Show all posts

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Better Still (Newsletter/Champagne)

It seems that each year the interest and therefore the demand for small production, grower Champagne gets more and more feverish. I was actually in Champagne this year in April when all the small growers were putting on trade events, (like 4 a day for 3 days) and the crowds were rather astonishing, not to mention the comments from winemakers telling us that they have never before been so inundated with importers looking to come visit and sample their wines for export. As a store that has specialized and championed wines from those hard working little farmers and shunned the big factory produced, bland, flaccid and often insidious tasting Champagnes from the Grand Marques we can assure you, the past five years have been the most thrilling for grower Champagne we’ve ever seen. 

Years past when asked to sample some never before heard of sparkling wine from Champagne I would cringe, knowing that there was a reason we’d not heard of the wines and that reason was they were dreadful at worst and snooze inducing at best. Frothy, murky tasting wines that were rushed to export because some importer needed to have a bubbly in his, or her portfolio, not because of the merit of the actual wine. Our set here at The Wine Country remained pretty much the same for quite a few years, with a few new faces/bottles coming and going, but for the most part we stood with the artisans we had discovered early on, the reason being that there were so few other wines that could compete with the electrifying diversity and concentration of the wines that were already on the shelf. Now? Now I am constantly sitting across from an importer or sales rep shaking my head, wondering how to convince Randy to let me have another rack just to hold all the remarkable Champagnes we’ve been introduced to as of late. 

Seems to be this perfect storm of situations converging upon the region of Champagne, everything from the end of long standing contracts to sell grapes to the large firms, a younger generation, that has traveled outside the region to make wine, sharing information and new ideas about crop management, the shunning of soil rotting pesticides, site specificity and tank verses barrel aging, add to that a bunch of wicked cool importers that have fallen in love with the newer, fresher face of Champagne and aren’t at all afraid to stand behind the quality of those wines, as wines and not just bubbly stuff reserved for popping once or twice a year.   Like I said earlier, it is a truly thrilling and magical time to be in love with Champagne.

New Arrivals


N.V. D. Henriet-Bazin Grand Cru Brut Rose ($43.99)

Comprised of 50% each Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and a blend of 2010 and 2011 vintages, this darkly colored, bone-dry Rose is a screaming value. A special cuvee made for importer Charles Neal, one with a very low dosage, this wine is perfect to pair with all sorts of foods. Elegantly lacy bubbles, dark fruit, some hints of yeastiness and a very clean, refreshing finish. 

2006 D. Henriet-Bazin Grand Cru Brut ($49.99)

Pinot Noir makes up the majority of the blend here and it is very apparent on the nose that is blasted with supple and ripe red fruit. One of those Champagnes that you don’t ever want to stop sniffing as the wine keeps evolving and changing in the glass. Fairly toasty but not at all oaky this is a bright and gorgeous Champagne that would be brilliant with roasted chicken or fish, gooey cheeses and holds up gloriously to eggy dishes as well.


N.V. Demarne-Frison Goustan Brut Nature ($55.99)

A multi-parcel blend of several vineyards of Pinot Noir this gentle and refined Champagne has such a wonderful texture and mouth feel. Loaded with citrus, dried flowers, red cherries and just a hint of beeswax. Very subtle and dry with precision and beautifully tiny bubbles.


N.V. Demarne-Frison Lalore Blanc de Blancs ($68.99)

Made from 100% Organic Chardonnay this wine is all about texture, grace and refinement. Baked green apples, anise, under-ripe pears and night blooming jasmine all with some powerful saturation and a long, long finish. 

N.V. Laherte Freres Ultradition Brut ($35.99)

We could not believe our ears when we heard the price on this charming organic Champagne. Made up of mostly Pinot Meunier with a bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir added this supple and easy drinking bubbly is a slam-dunk in the “Bang for your buck” category.  Easy, bright, super-fresh and uber friendly.

N.V. Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs ($41.99)

Such a remarkably focused and pure expression of great Champagne here and for so little money. A zero-dosage, or no sugar added Blanc de Blancs made from organic Chardonnay , this wine is full of tart citrus, chalky minerals and bits of toasted almond. Leaning on the racy side with all that citrus this wine was built to be an aperitif or to be served with fresh and simply prepared seafood dishes.


2005 Laherte Freres Extra Brut ($59.99)

We poured this sensual sparkler at a recent tasting and it was the very first wine to sell out! Made from 85% Chardonnay with Pinot Meunier making up the rest of the blend. A wine with loads of complexity but not so much that it distracts from the amazing floral, tangerine rind, fresh cut flower stems and buttered toast aromas. On the palate is where you feel the power, just a mouth full of richness but with a brilliant cut of acidity and bite. I love this beautiful sparkler on its own but there is enough stuffing there for scallops, fried chicken, prawns or even cured meats.


N.V. Georges Laval 1er Cru Brut Nature ($77.99)

If you ever want to impress a true Champagne geek give or share with them a bottle of Georges Laval. The wines from this tiny estate are some of the most sought after by true Champagne collectors and seeing as he makes less than 1,000.00 cases a year the demand won’t be easing up any time soon. Made from old organic vines and with this Brut Nature no dosage or sugar is added. This is one of the most wine-like Champagnes we’ve ever carried. The aromas, the weight in the mouth, the complexity, the power, the length, all bring to mind the greatest of Burgundy and this Champagne of that same level. Not a pop and enjoy Champagne, this one demands, requires and deserves your full attention. Brilliant. Simply brilliant stuff.


2009 Georges Laval 1er Cru Les Hautes Chevres ($249.99)

Made from 100% Premier Cru Pinot Noir and is so rare I was only able to get two six packs, for the year. Still quite young this wine has deeply saturated red fruit, spice, elegant herbal notes and a core of warm buttered brioche. One sip and the wines crawls up the side of your tongue and refuses to let go, spilling its power and regality across the palate and leaving a stain that I for one will never forget. A rare, rare treat but….who deserves one more than you? (Only 4 bottles left at deadline)   

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Seeking Burgundian Fruit (Newsletter)

“It’s not like all the Burgundy lovers all over the world are just going to start drinking Oregon Pinot Noir or Bordeaux” my response to a rather worried faced Burgundian that was, timidly explaining why prices are going to take a spike upward and availability on our beloved wines from the region is expected to be, for lack of a better term, tight. Four vintages, (2011, 2012, 2013 and now after some summer hail, 2014, although a warm dry summer may be helping a little) of seriously formidable weather, in some severe cases losses of up to 80% of their crop in certain villages, have wedged the Burgundians right between a rock and a very hard place. While there are still gorgeous wines to get, with some winemakers saying that 2012 was one of the finest vintages they’ve seen, in terms of quality, in a very long time but with miniscule amounts of wine to share, and sell, the small farmers in the region are left wringing their cracked, stained hands and being forced to raise prices across the board just to keep afloat.  

We heard it over and over again this past April as I walked the woefully under-stuffed cellars in Burgundy, winemakers trying their best to sound optimistic while also hoping to prepare us. The importer I was traveling with also fearful as she heard allocations, on even village level wines, slashed by up to two thirds. Tasting through those stunning wines, the pure expression of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the grim news of shortages and higher prices couldn’t cloud the beauty of the wines or the spirit of the gracious people of the region. I meant what I said to that small producer in Aloxe-Corton, once you’ve fallen in love with Burgundy no other wine can do the same things to and for you. No other wine can make you crave the way that Burgundy does, make those tiny hairs on the back of your neck wiggle and stand tall. There are wines the world over that, it can be argued, are just as good but for those of us that hear the whisper of Burgundy and can feel it calling us, only the wines from that tiny region can calm that stir…and fire us up again. Pommard and Volnay may be more expensive than they were a few vintages ago, that is if you can even find any before collectors gobble them up, but there are still places to find Burgundian fruit with prices that won’t make feeding that sexy Burgundy monkey on our backs quite so painful. 

2012 Sylvain Pataille Marsannay ($41.99)
Marsannay is a village located at the northern end of the Cote de Nuits, its most well-known neighbor being Gevrey-Chambertin, was once only known for their production of Rose, not the case anymore, and it is producers like Sylvain Pataille that are leading the way, and in many cases surpassing those in villages with far more prestigious names. Loads of dark fruit here, like black cherries but with some cola, roasted coffee and kisses of soy. Flirty and supple on the palate with a wonderful bite of super-fine tannin. Drinks far and above its appellation

2012 Sylvain Pataille Marsannay Les Longeroies ($58.99)
Many have said that they believe Les Longeroies should be elevated to Premier Cru status and it takes just a few spins in the glass to figure out why. Deeper, darker, spicier, sprinkled with rose petals and crushed red fruit. Full and sexy on the palate but with a vibrancy that keeps the wine from feeling out of balance, or like it came from anywhere but Burgundy. I was only able to get one case of this suggestive wine so grab it while you can. Pataille is gathering a huge fan base, one that will nab this the second they see it.

2011 Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay Les Longeroies ($34.99)
A very traditional Burgundy here, meaning lots of savory notes interplaying with sweet roasted red fruits. A lighter Pinot Noir on the palate with plenty of sassy green aromas and spice for days. Shows better the longer it’s in the glass so decanting helps this juicy and delicious Pinot Noir show all it has to give.

2011 Domaine Prieur-Brunet Santenay-Maladiere 1er Cru ($35.99)
Such a pretty and elegant Pinot Noir. Gentle, tart red cherries dance along the sides of this light and graceful wine. Plenty of earthy flavors along with the red fruit, some mossy, mushroom and charred meat flavors as well as a wonderful blast of not-yet-ripe strawberries. Lovely wine for simple meals where it won’t have to fight big flavors. Drinking good now but could improve with a year or two in the cellar. 

2010 Domaine Berthelemot Monthelie ($37.99)
Showing a light texture but one completely packed with sweet juicy black cherries, grilled meats, dark roast coffee and faint bits of teriyaki. Lots of stuffing here for a wine with such a shy price tag. The flavors are long, the tannin firm and the pleasure immense and the amount of wine to get, tiny. Pick up a couple steaks full of marbling, toss them on the grill pour yourself a deep glass of this wine and enjoy.     

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Strange Magic

I smelled you yesterday.

Just for a brief second but it was you….

I’d been rushing about the shop, stacks of new value Bordeaux sliced open, the “tick-a-tack-a-tick-a-tack” of my price gun spitting tiny rectangular stickers upon the shiny new bottles. Running up to the front to answer the phone, answer a, “what would you pair with this?” question and scan purchases into the point of sale system before bending over to retrieve paper bags, plunking paper swathed bottles into them and bidding adieu to one customer just as another walks in. Lather, rinse and repeat all day. I was beat but in that good way, the way that pounds against your bones and sanity and remind you that each day is full of tasks as meaningful or less as you make them. Not solving the big problems, but handling enough of those little ones to make me feel as if I were doing something. 

My body tired and slippery with that sheen…you know the one, that one that causes your clothes to hang just a little longer on your skin. That one that coaxes those tiny hairs to lie flat and moist at the base of your neck. Between the recent construction at the shop, the warm weather and my incessant need to keep moving, physically to keep at bay the gnawing of the deep thoughts and, as it seems of late, enervating emotional fuckdom, my body was in need of a quick break and a splash of cold water. I headed back to the kitchen to refill my water bottle, my fingers tugging at and prying open the cap, hips in full stride and head slowly leaning back as my lips parted to take in the very last trickle of cold liquid my well worked bottle had to give. In classic Samantha form I swung a bit too much this way, or that, and found those last cherished drops of cold water gliding down my chin and landing in tiny beads across the front of my sticking to me shirt. 

“Oh goddamn it” I grumbled as I took a swipe at my dripping chin and tugged at the collar of my shirt, gathering it in a wad and pulling it across the puddle on my mug. It was there. There that I could smell you. I stood there like an idiot, shirt pulled so far up the skin above the waistband on my jeans was exposed, fistful of black uniform shirt pulled across my face like The Elephant Man seeking cover, my heart beginning to thump so hard I could feel it behind my earlobes. A tiny shiver shot down my spine as my nostrils expanded to take more of you, of us, in…..holding on to us as long as I could before having to exhale and dive back for more.

My oily and sweaty skin, the particles of shaved wood, fabric softener, the flinty and mineral whispers from inside my water bottle, sweet gamey sweat and the very familiar aroma of my own saliva, the way I’d smelled it over and over again as I ran my lips and tongue about you. In the middle of a construction zone, shirt hiked up, saliva scented water receding down my chin and landing like drops of, of fucking want, along my bare tummy as my heart set the pace for my breathing and my mouth begin to water. The sensual making me forget and remember.

It was you…










It was you

Meet me again…


I promise an open mind, wide heart and spread open palate that is

Yours and yours, in this way, yours only

Come inside

Live in me

Feed me

Feel me

Teach me...

Use me to feed, feel and teach them…

I’m willing, wanting, craving and

Slippery with ready.

Friday night.....can't come soon enough