This Thanksgiving I am advocating a rather unusual food and wine pairing. Actually, my colleague Brian Brick in our Redwood City store is completely responsible for enlightening me to this wonderful combo. He is definitely the one you are going to want to thank after pouring youself a chilled glass of the NV Clairette de Die Cave Carod ($12.99) to enjoy with your slice of pumpkin pie! Brian contends that the delicate, sparkling sweetness (redolent with nectarine, white flowers and ginger) pairs sublimely with the earthy, spicy sweetness of pumpkin pie. Enough said, sign me up! For those of you asking “Clairette de who..?” here is a bit of background on this fantastic little northern Rhone sparkler. The A.O.C. Clairette de Die spreads over 1,300 hectares and 32 villages, located on clay and limestone based hillsides. Clairette de Die has been known since ancient times (dating back to 77 A.D.). The Carod’s vineyard’s altitude (over 700 meters) makes it one of the highest in France. With very fine bubbles, light in alcohol (8°) and still containing a touch of residual sugar, this Clairette de Die from Cave Carod is comprised of 75% muscat petits grains and 25% clairette and is produced by the method champenoise. Clairette brings delicacy and lightness to the wine whereas muscat gives its typical sweetness. This is an ideal wine for many fruit- or spice-based desserts, as well as with foie gras. To be consumed young, to conserve the full fruity and floral flavors. Happy Thanksgiving to all! —Mulan Chan
We have had an unbelievable string of luck with these wines over the past few vintages, and I have come to look forward to what each new vintage has to offer, especially this year’s 2005s. Each year my appreciation for the efforts Pascal and Mireille Renaud grow. This young couple manages their small Domain, only 12 hectares, with vines growing in the Macon, Pouilly-Fuisse, and St. Veran. Within their new cuverie, built about five years ago, they work predominately with stainless steel and large German foudres. This is done to maintain brightness and freshness of the fruit and the purity in the expression of the terroir. I think they have achieved this, once more with these terrific 2005s. These are wines that exceed expectation, bright lifted aromatics, fresh and driving acidity that balances ripe and round fruit. 2005 Domaine Renaud, Mâcon Charnay ($11.99) The wines from Mâcon Charnay typically have a soft floral nuance; I think it is the higher concentration of granite in the soils. This wine perfectly expresses this terroir! Behind ripe orchard fruit on the nose is the tell-tale floral character. The palate is moderately round with delicious ripe orchard fruits and just a hint of cream. It possesses plenty of charm, and is capable of winning over die-hard burgundy fans as well as adventurous California Chardonnay drinkers. The 2005 Domaine Renaud, Mâcon Solutré ($11.99) This wine hails from the higher hillside vineyards under the monolith Solutré. These vineyards tend to be steeper, have better drainage, experience cooler evenings and most importantly tend to have more limestone and chalk in the soil. As you would expect, this is a wine with more focus and cut and a pronounced mineral vein. The ripe apple and pear fruits elegantly balance the minerality on the palate and it possesses remarkable length. This is a terrific Burgundy bargain —Kirk Walker
On a recent trip to Burgundy I had the chance to taste the wines of Domaine Jean Monnier. Winegrowers since 1720, this family makes both reds and whites. The change of generations has led to an improvement in their wines, but the world has not yet beaten a path to their door. We are pleased to be able to bring them to you directly, at most favorable prices. The 2003 Bourgogne Aligoté ($10.99) is spicy and bright with rich fruit from the warm vintage and lovely acidity. The 2004 Meursault Chevalières ($29.99) is long, elegant and balanced, with pronounced Meursault minerality. The 2004 Meursault Clos du Cromin ($29.99) comes from near the Volnay border, and shows lime notes and a softer character than the Chevalières. We also have imported two premier Crus, from two of the top vineyards in Meursault, the 2004 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes ($41.99) with rich round fruit and lots of charm and weight, as well as the 2004 Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres ($41.99) , which has a more vibrant focus and more prominent minerality, as it comes from the desirable upper portion of this vineyard. Finally, we were lucky enough to get a wonderful red, the 1999 Pommard 1er Cru Clos de Citeaux ($41.99) . It is from a 15-acre family-owned monopole vineyard located in Grands Epenots, adjacent to the famed Comte Armand Clos des Epineaux. It was an ancient holding of the Monks of the Abbey of Citeaux, since 1207. Chosen for a walled vineyard in 1200, and in continuous cultivation for about 800 years, this is a special place. The wine has length, elegance, pretty cherry notes and comes from a great vintage. And it sells for a song, thanks to our direct import. Don’t miss it! Á Sante! —Keith Wollenberg
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