Maison En Belles Lies L’Étrange 2016

With its Gothic equilateral arches it reminds me of Darth Vader. . . inside the liquid is Burgundy, but not as I know it. . . a blend of pinot noir, gamay and chardonnay - it's fast, slippery, sappy and absolutely delicious. Red fruited, musk and spice; a Morgon nose. Floral and beautiful, pixie like - small and delicate but intense. Sour and edgy, terrific acids, just the right side of jagged. #Yes.

Jean-Paul and Benoît Droin Vaillons 1er Cru Chablis 2015

13%. Diam. Approx $A85.

An excellent wine and an excellent Chablis. Evocative, layered, stinging in the right places. . . beautiful texture and poise. Pure and typical. Flint and white pepper; citrus oil to open, but later it seems more pear like. Essence and terpines - white flowers, petrichor, zest. Mineral in the mouth, the sensation of smooth pebbles. . . fatty with no sugar, unrepentantly dry, thick and textured; but stinging acids, a hint of nuttiness and bitter pith to conclude. A+

Discovering #BourgogneUnknown with Bourgogne Wines

"I normally shy away from white wines, but that one (Jean Chartron Rully Montmorin 2015) was delicious", Anonymous Neighbor 1

"This wine (Domaine Dominique Gruhier Bourgogne Epineuil 2015) is so good....we loved it", text from Anonymous Neighbor 2

I generally disperse wines I receive as samples amongst my neighbors once the official tasting session has concluded and a recent #BourgogneUnknown registered immediate and overwhelmingly positive feedback from the beneficiaries. That is Bourgogne and not Burgundy as Bourgogne Wines seeks to "re-affirm its identity as one of the most iconic ‘brands’ of France, the region and its producers are reverting back to the original French iteration of its name – Bourgogne".

This iconic region spans 230 km of territory from North to South and encompasses 84 distinct appellations. Of these, there are seven regional appellations, 44 village appellations, and 33 Grand Cru Climats. Some of these appellations, such as Chablis ...

Why Rosé Matters, According To French Culture

Rosé wines from France
Rosé wines from France. Credit: Jill Barth
I don’t think there is a topic I’ve covered more than rosé. Part preference, part probability, it seems only natural that a Provence wine specialist would document the past, present and future of vin trois, the third color of the wine trinity. Affiliations range from the “Hampton’s Water” lifestyle crowd to the “rosé all day, which turns all year” set to the “when in France, drink rosé” philosophy. But I’m here to argue, with the proud yet slightly guarded nature of the public defender, that none of these positions get that the root of what rosé really means. IMG_3465 From my coverage on my Forbes contributor column: “The Center for Rosé Research (Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé) is located in the small commune of Vidauban, situated in Provence in southeast France. Originated in 1999 as the ...
French wine regions
what is rosé? how is rosé made?
rosé color chart, Forbes rosé

Weekend Wine Notes: Allons, enfants de la patrie!

The wine regions of France, especially Bordeaux and Burgundy, long served as the models and the ideals for producers and winemakers all over the world. Even nowadays, when wine-making has proliferated worldwide and expanded far beyond the so-called “noble grapes” of French origin, Burgundy is often seen as the apotheosis of chardonnay and pinot noir, Bordeaux the epitome of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, Champagne the ur-text of sparkling wine. I offer today, in celebration of Bastille Day, 12 examples that illustrate, even if in a severely limited degree, the diversity and the versatility of French wine production. Some of those noble grapes are involved — cabernet and merlot, indeed, chardonnay and pinot noir, riesling — but also a more everyday variety like gamay and obscure grapes like jacquere. In one blog post, no one could begin to assay the immense complexity of France’s geographical extent and appellation system, but I ...

French Rules Ease To Help Winemakers Deal With Extreme Weather

Vignerons Indépendants du Lot-et-Garonne, Périgord Wine, Dordogne Wine
Vignerons Indépendants du Lot-et-Garonne cave in Duras, France. Credit: Jill Barth

The French governing body overseeing wine appellation regulations, the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO), announced this month that wine producers are now allowed to hold back more stock, following recent losses caused by extreme weather conditions. The action enables winemakers to set aside a portion of any vintage in order to maintain a supply for future use. The INAO compared the action to “crop insurance” as a measure of adaptability.

The current stock storage rules date back to 2013, put in place in order to maintain a reasonable reserve in the case of adverse conditions resulting in reduced quantity. Prior to the June 2018 announcement by the INAO, wineries were allowed to hold back an amount equal to 10% of their stock. To read the full story, please visit my Forbes contributor page here.  For background on ...

Chardonnays from Burgundy and Australia

Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay La Vignée 2014, Burgundy, France (£13 Penistone Wine Cellars, Just in Cases, Hailsham Cellars, Sandhams Wine Merchant, Wine Direct, Amazon) A bit shy initially but then slinks out of the glass with bracing lemony edge and ripe green apple crispness balanced by an almost creamy mouthfeel. Young, taut clean […]

Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne 2010

Cork. 12.5%. Cellar.

A clammy but worthy White Bourgogne. Almond meal and freshly laundered woollens, peach and flint, a prickle of white pepper. . . like inhaling too close and deep from a white flower. . . RRR a reassuring riff of reduction. . .  More reason for hyperbole in the mouth; energy, line and beautiful tension; a convincing spice and lactone edge. Super. A+

Wine of the Day, No. 354

Certainly the most important white grape in Burgundy is chardonnay, and many would argue that in those low, southeast-facing hills below the city of Beaune, in vineyards surrounding the villages of Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligy-Montrachet, the grape reaches its apotheosis. (Producers in California, say in Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and Santa Maria Valley, might beg to differ, but they’re all late to the game, n’est-ce pas?) However, Burgundy can boast of another, though admittedly secondary white grape, and that’s aligoté. The principle virtue of aligoté is its zinging acidity. Even the name, with its rippling four syllables and its marked and carefree final accent, sounds crisp and lively. It’s the grape whose wine officially makes up the base of a kir cocktail, mixed with about 1/5th creme de cassis. Naturally the sacred and expensive acreage that denotes Burgundy’s Côte d’Or is not devoted to the cultivation of a ...

Attending La Paulée de Meursault 2017

It was such an honor to be part of one of the most exiting lunches in the history of the world, known as the La Paulée  de Meursault. Though this celebration of the harvest first manifested in 1923, when Jules Lafon of Burgundy’s Domaine Lafon invited 35 of his vigneron friends into his vat-room to share in a post-harvest feast, by 1932 it had become a regular event.   Today La Paulée de Meursault has grown to international fame, and is one of the three key events referred to as Les Trois Glorieuses which take place the third weekend of November to coincide with the Hospices de Beaune auction. The name  Les Trois Glorieuses refers to the two coveted events that bookend the Hospices de Beaune auction at the 15th Century Dieu. They are the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin at the Château du Clos Vougeot.on Saturday ...

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017

I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. ...

50 Great Wines of 2017

The prices of these 50 Great Wines of 2017 range from an unprecedented $15 to a whopping $250. Not that I expect My Readers to hasten out and snatch up a bottle of wine that costs $250, but when an extraordinary wine crosses my horizon and I rate it “Exceptional,” well, it goes on this list no matter the price. That’s one of the criteria for this annual roster: Every wine I rated Exceptional in 2017 is included automatically, followed by wines I rated Excellent and that I go back through the reviews and parse very carefully. Now I’m sure My Readers understand that by “50 Great Wines” I’m not saying that these are the 50 greatest wines in the world, just that they’re great wines — as I interpret greatness — that I tasted during the year in question. What makes a wine great? Purity, intensity, integrity, authenticity, as ...

The 12 Days of Christmas with Champagne & Sparkling Wine: 3rd Day …

… and no Champagne today but two examples of products from regions in France that use the “champagne method” or, as it’s usually called now, the méthode traditionelle, for sparkling wines in the Crémant mode. Both of these models, priced at $20, offer good value, especially if you’re looking for sparkling wine to serve at a dinner party or small gathering. These wines were samples for review.

With its shimmering pale gold hue and finely-tuned froth of abundant, tiny bubbles, the Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne, nv, delivers lovely tone and presence. Made 100 percent from chardonnay grapes farmed on sustainable practices, this Crémant offers notes of pear, orange zest and lime peel with hints of almond blossom and hay; it’s quite dry, framed by limestone and a touch of salinity, yet ripe and tasty with citrus and stone-fruit and a shade of mango. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. About ...

Lapierre Morgon 2013

12%. Gamay.

A suitcase wine from my 2014 Paris trip. Compared to the Beaujolais I've been drinking, this is quieter, darker, more serious. . . it's brooding. . . my brother in law called it a pinot. . . Light in the mouth - but still sanguineous and meaty; meaningful. . . spiced and tea like, plum. . . A-/A