As I write this on July 30, I am in the middle of escrow with the Anderson Valley property, house and the Barr Family Vineyard. When the decision was made to put this bucolic, pastoral place up for sale, I told Mike Shapiro, owner and agent for North Country Real Estate in Boonville, that I wanted him to find a buyer who could finish the vision I had for this site. Co-owners of Husch Vineyards, Zac and Krista Robinson, are buying the property from me, and I am overjoyed and profoundly touched that they bring to it the same enthusiasm and goals that I envisioned when I sat foot on that hillside in 1991. I think one of their emails to me best reflects this. They wrote: “You have obviously put a lot of work into making it a jewel and we plan to continue your work. Our first goal is to finish the development of the vineyard and bring the vines into production.” Our Kalinda private label program continues to evolve. We recently landed our first German wine, the 2004 Kalinda Hattenheimer Riesling Dry ($9.99). This is a wonderfully made, dry style riesling that shows both the essence of what this grape is about (floral, spicy notes, with hints of jasmine, white peach and honeysuckle) and the amazing influence of the soil (explicit notes of minerality). Complex, viscous and highly aromatic, this is a serious wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared another five to ten years. Eby says this is her house white for the month. Château Calon-Segur in St-Estèphe produces, each vintage, a small amount of a dry rosé from their cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes, which is typically sold locally to friends and restaurants. They never exported this very fine wine until last year, when we were allowed to bring in 25 cases The newly arrived 2005 Rosé de Calon ($12.99) is one of the top rosés currently available, and is a preview to the greatness that awaits us with the arrival of this vintage. Bright pink in color, the nose provides distinctive aromas of strawberries and red cherries, while in the mouth it is quite rich and intense with a clean, crisp, mouthwatering finish. This will disappear quickly, so patience is not a virtue here. Try this with duck or other game; it is a perfect match. Pale yellow in color with just a tint of green, the 2005 Hughes Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet ($6.99)offers a gondola full of quality for a cheap price. Showing perfumed aromas of sweet grapefruit and papaya, this is a dry, crisp wine on the palate that provides a lime zest and almost exotic fruit characteristic. This refreshing little gem will be the perfect match for shellfish and will be our other house white for the month according to Vanilla. As I view, in utter disbelief, the astronomical prices of many of the 2005 Bordeaux, I realize that there are some great values to be had from an equally great vintage, 2003. And they are available to buy now and consume. Such is the case with the 2003 Château La Tour de Mons ($19.99). Deep ruby in color, its expansive, evolving nose provides currant to blackberry fruit with undertones of roasted coffee bean and chocolate. In the mouth, this gem is full, complex and layered with well-integrated, silky tannins, offering superb structure and depth and a finish that refuses to surrender. This is a Bordeaux that you could enjoy tonight with a bit of airing. It will also age gracefully for another seven to ten years. Anderson says that this will be our house red for September. If you have any questions about these selections, you can email us at email@example.com. Enjoy this month’s wines! —Jim, Anderson, Eby and Vanilla
June 11th, 2006, Bouilland, Burgundy, France Overall: On June 11th, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a wonderful tasting that the wine broker Becky Wasserman-Hone puts on each year, in her home. It takes place in a little village called Bouilland, which is up in the Haute Cote, just beyond Savigny les Beaune. Surrounded by trees, with towering cliffs overhead, it is a beautiful spot, particularly in the long days of June. The weather was warm, but less sweltering than in 2005. and the vignerons did not mind, since it was the first warm weather they had had, and near-perfect for the flowering of the grapes, which is a great start for the 2006 vintage. Various vignerons in Burgundy bring several bottles of one of their wines from a decade earlier, and everyone gets together for a grand tasting of all of the wines. It is a delightful chance to taste so many wines form the vintage at once, see Clive Coates once again, and enjoy Becky Wasserman-Hone and Russell Hone’s hospitality. At the conclusion of the tasting, Russell cooks up a huge batch of French lentils, with sausage and meats from the local charcuterie in it, and a big green salad. I want to send my heartfelt thanks to Becky, Russell and Peter for their work, their heroic efforts in organizing and running this event, and for pulling together such a delightful day in Burgundy. And thanks also for providing the opportunity to see so many vigneron friends and restrauteurs at one time. The crush of people can make it hard to get to everything, and there is not time enough to write detailed notes. But it is an unparalleled chance to taste so many wines of the vintage at one go and get a sense of where the wines from various villages are today. As always, please keep in mind that any Burgundy tasting is only a single snapshot. On another day, with different barometric conditions or a different moon phase, the wines may present very differently. I bravely (or foolishly) attempted to taste through all 27 whites, 27 Cote de Beaune reds and 51 Cote de Nuits Reds. Some palate fatigue may be reflected in my notes, of course. I take notes more as a memory enhancer than as comprehensive notes at this kind of tasting, since there is too little time and too much wine to make it possible to write longer and more coherent notes. So you have my apologies if they seem either too brief or too cryptic. I have no scoring system, either ordinal or cardinal, so you will not find scores. But, if there was something particularly noteworthy about the quality of a particular wine, I tried to reflect it in my notes. If you have questions about individual wines, I can try to expand on the notes, if my memory allows me. Before I give you these necessarily abbreviated tasting notes on the individual wines, I’ll give you my general impressions from the tasting. In some cases, there are no notes on a wine, primarily because the bottle was not available as I moved through the press of folks to try to get to everything, or because it was a flawed bottle, waiting to be replaced with a better one. The tasting is large enough that the vignerons bring 4 bottles of each wine to the tasting, so a change of bottles does happen. And the event is too busy and too chaotic to guarantee that I get to taste and write notes on every wine. If I missed one, I may not have been able to get back to it. But I am including all wines at the tasting, just for completeness. Some wines were poured from magnum, and I have noted this in my individual tasting notes, since it obviously affects the aging process. About the Whites: The whites were showing quite well. Although a few of them were showing some advanced notes or bits of oxidation, in most cases the bracing acidity of the vintage had stood them in very good stead. I did not see a raft of prematurely aged whites, as some comments on the internet might lead you to believe. I did talk to some vintners who are convinced that one key to longevity is higher quality corks. And I heard from a reliable source that the Portuguese started irrigating their oaks about this time. With more moisture, you can have as few as 3-4 growth rings in a cork, which means that the density is low, due to the rapid growth. Many of the best corks seem to be coming from Spain, particularly Catalonia. While Portuguese corks may have as few as 3-4 years of growth in a cork, the dry-farmed Spanish corks will have 10-12 and the Catalonian corks 12-15 growth rings in a single cork. The density of the cork is particularly important, more than one wine-grower explained to me. About the Reds: The Cote de Beaune wines from Beaune and Savigny were just a bit strict, without the lushness of fruit to offset the acidity of the vintage. Wines from Pommard were mixed but better, and those from Corton were much better, in general. In the Cote de Nuits, although Nuits St. Georges showed generally well (but with some unevenness), the vintage was particularly successful from Vosne Romanée north, with the lush fruit needed to support the structure and acidity of the vintage. In general, these wines are still basically babies, except for some of the village wines. Although they are showing well, one gets the sense that another year or three will only work to assist them in their development. The Tasting Notes: White Wines: Cote de Beaune, La Grande Chatelaine, Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot Showing some oxidation, but good acidity and still sound Montagny, 1er Cru, Domaine Stephane Adame Bright, fresh, very nice Pernand Vergelesses, Domaine Jacques Germain (Chateau de Chorey) Mineral-driven, but not a lot of drive Auxey Duresses, Comte Armand Creamy middle, a bit advanced on the palate St. Aubin 1er Cru, Clos de la Chatenière, Hubert Lamy Creamy mouthfeel. OK Meursault, AC, Comte Lafon Mature, with good acidity. Ready to go Meursault Tessons, Clos de Mon Plaisir, Domaine Roulot (from magnum) Very nice, with really lovely citrus notes and white flowers. Lots of charm, fresh. Nuits St.. Georges 1er Cru, Clos de l’Arlot, Domaine de l’Arlot Structured and rich, with an interesting spice. Quite good! Meursault 1er Cru, Poruzots, Domaine Francois Jobard Bright and rich, but still a bit closed and slightly reductive. Solid. Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Domaine Comtes Lafon Very lovely. Bright, rich, very alive. Nice! Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Domaine Francois Mikulski Lighter than the Lafon, very lively, bright and elegant. Meursault 1er Cru Charmes, Maison Morey-Blanc Reduced and impossible to read. Solid core. Meursault 1er Cru Genevrieres, Domaine Jobard Lovely, with pronounced minerality, both rich and bright. Good Meursault 1er Cru Perrieres, Domaine Roulot (magnum) Just a bit reduced. Long, lovely, very rich. Lots of life. Nice flavor. Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru, Caillerets, Domaine Jean-Noel Gagnard This seems tired. Also showing a touch of volatility. Still alive, finish is good, but this is not showing well. Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres, Jadot Very rich palate, nice minerality. Good weight and life. Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Truffieres, Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot Much more advanced than the Jadot. Ok, but not fresh. Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Caillerets, Domaine de Montille Lovely, rich, long, complete. WOW! This is exactly what it should be. Corton, Grand Cru, Domaine Chandon de Brialles (magnum) Richer than the Martray. Long, complete. Much more open at present than the Charlemagne. Very good. Corton Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau de Martray Lots of minerality. Just showing a touch of that Corton honeyed note. Still very young at present. Corton Charlemagne, Grand Cru, Vincent Girardin Creamy and mature. Much more ready than the Martray. I’d drink up if it were in my cellar. Good finishing acidity. Montrachet, Grand Cru, Marquis de Laguiche (Drouhin) Très élégante. Long. Spicy. Very good, very long, very complete wine. Let’s you see why Montrachet is so pricey, and worth it. YES ! Red Wines: Cote de Beaune: Savigny les Beaune, Maison Champy Mature, lovely, with nice fruit. Not a dense wine, but good. Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru Dominode, Domaine Pavelot Structured, big, young, quite tight. More extract and color. A bit edgy. Beaune 1er Cru, Grèves, Domaine Michel Lafarge Big, tight, long, spicy. Beaune 1er Cru Les Cras, Chateau de Chorey (Jacques Germain) Showing older notes, but still tight and a bit severe. Beaune 1er Cru Teurons, Chateau de Chorey (Jacques Germain) Bright, alive, more youthful, but showing very high acidity, without the weight to support it. Meursault 1er Cru Caillerets, Domaine Francois Mikulski Mature flavors, but the acidity is still high, and a bit prominent. This wine is still tight, and may show more with additional development. Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru, Morgeot, Domaine Jean-Noel Gagnard So-so. Alive, but not showing much density. Volnay 1er Cru, Marquis d’Angerville Not big but lovely. Long finish, good, almost minty flavors on the palate. Volnay 1er Cru Carelles, Maison Camille Giroud Big, structured style. Not a lot of fruit. Very nice, in a masculine style. Volnay 1er Cru les Pitures, Domaine Jean-Marc Boillot OK, undistinguished Volnay 1er Cru Santenots, Domaine Chateau Rossignol-Jeanniard Masculine, rich, good size, good length. Volnay 1er Cru Champans, Domaine de Montille Big, focused, very masculine. Tight. Good. Shows quite a lot of tannins at the finish. Needs time. Volnay 1er Cru Clos de Chien, Domaine Lafarge Big, spicy style. Focused, with very good length. Volnay 1er Cru, Santenots du Milieu, Domaine des Comtes Lafon (magnum) Very good, with lots of life. This has matured to a fine, very elegant style of Volnay. Pommard 1er Cru Pézerolles, Domaine Billard-Gonnet Minty, meaty, and oddly herbal with animal notes. Pommard 1er Cru Grand Clos des Epenots, Domaine de Courcel Very tight and showing some vegetal notes. Is it just in a backwards state? Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux, Domaine du Comte Armand Very good, with an attractive nose. Rich fruit, a hint of mint and sous bois, and lots of complexity. Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epeneaux, Maison Camille Giroud Much more rustic, earthier, little evident fruit. Solid Pommard, with meaty notes. Closed, but very good length. Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens, Domaine de Montille More structured than the Armand Epeneaux, with some chocolate notes. Tasty wine, with lots of rich fruit and a long finish. Good. Corton, Grand Cru, Maison Champy Supple, long and a bit meaty, with a bit of sweetness on the palate. OK Corton, Clos des Corton, Faiveley Interesting nose, but still quite closed on the palate. Shows some sauvage notes. Corton Grand cru, Les Maréchaudes, Domaine Chandon de Brialles (Magnum) Framboise notes on the nose, very pretty wine. Good flesh on the palate. Very nice, rather approachable style. Cotes de Nuits: Nuits St. Georges, Au Bas de Combes, Domaine Jean Tardy Ok flavors, but a bit light. Shows the young vines here. Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Champs Perdrix, Domaine Alain Michelot Prominent minerality. Bright, mineral-driven finish. Very focused. Quite Good Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Clos de l’Arlot, Domaine de l’Arlot Very good, with meaty notes. Long, spicy, rich mid-palate but quite substantial tannins at the finish. Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Chaboeufs, Domaine J-J Confuron High acid on the palate, with prominent minty notes. Needs more time and food to accompany it. Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Murgers, Domaine Bertagna Oaky but with enough fruit to support this wood level. Tannins are just a bit dry at the finish. Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers, Domaine Robert Chevillon Structured, with lots of minerality. Tannins seem just a touch dry, but the wine has good character. Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Les St. Georges, Domaine Robert Chevillon Bigger than the Pruliers. Also more tannic, more structured. But there is also an added density here that supports it. Vosne Romanée, Domaine Michel Gros Spicy, with interesting Sous bois notes. Note a lot of weight, but nice flavors Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Brulées Rich and surprisingly soft for this terroir, which is usually a bit harder. Good Fruit. Nice. Vosne Romanée 1er Cru, Malconsorts, Domaine Cathiard (magnum) Masculine, rich, long. Excellent finish. Lovely character, with some NSG minerality and Vosne weight Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Clos des Reas Monopole, Domaine Michel Gros Very fine character, more minerality than the Malconsorts, but not as focused. Nice character. Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots, Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Structured, masculine, and quite young. Very good, though. Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru, Maupertuis, Domaine Jean Tardy Less weighty than the Michel Gros Vougeot, and also more transparent and lighter on its feet. Shows well, but it is not as big a wine as I expected Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru, Maupertuis, Domaine Michel Gros Meaty and structured, big wine. More maturity towards the finish. Very nice. Echézeaux, Grand Cru, Domaine Jean Grivot Masculine, rich, very long finish. Grands Echézeaux, Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanée Conti More focused, more tannic, more backwards than the Grivot. Very Good. Grands Echézeaux, Grand Cru, Domaine Gros Frère & Soeur More elegant in style. Fine, nicely structured. Good Richebourg, Grand Cru, Domaine Gros Frère & Soeur Much more backward, with lots of structure. Almost brooding in temperament. Very young. Lots of potential. Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru les Beaux Bruns, Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Structured and young, but very good wine Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Feusselottes, Domaine George Mugneret Quite mature flavors. Ready to go now! Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses, Domaine J-F Mugnier, Chateau de Chambolle Musigny Firm, very elegant style. Long finish. Still very young and rather undeveloped. Musigny, Grand Cru, Domaine Comte de Vogüé Elegant but very reserved. Is this just backwards, not showing today, or not quite as good as expected. I’ll have to come back to this later in the tasting. (When I did, it had been consumed by some folks who were raving about how good it was. SIGH) Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Clos de la Bussiere, Domaine Roumier Rich, big, structured, with very nice flavors. Quite young, and in need of time. Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Hubert Lignier WOW* Rich, focused, young, but this has lots of drive, energy and structure. Bonnes Mares, Grand Cru, Domaine Roumier Very nice wine. A bit earthy in character. Long and complex. Needs time. Bonnes Mares, Grand Cru, Domaine Comte de Vogüé Very lovely, rich in character. Good nose. Shows lots of length. Definitely Grand Cru. Clos de Tart, Grand Cru, Domaine du Clos de Tart Very nice plum notes. Long and tannic. Good! Clos des Lambrays, Grand Cru, Domaine des Lambrays Lighter than the Clos des tart, but very good length. Long and complex. Clos de la Roche, Domaine Dujac This is very lovely, very rich with lots of length on the palate. Black fruit notes, licorice, sous bois, complex. Very good! Clos St. Denis, Grand Cru, Domaine Dujac More masculine. Long, rich and very good! Gevrey Chambertin en Champs, Vieilles Vignes, Denis Mortet Great richness and very complete wine. rich mid-palate Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Denis Bachelet Animal notes. Good. Fine, elegant, very long. Gevrey Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Alain Burguet Smoky, meaty, more tannic in character Gevrey Chambertin Les Seurées, Vieilles Vignes, Domaine F. Magnien Very good, with nice fruit, toasty oak and meaty notes. Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Champeaux, Domaine Alain Burguet More size, more depth and more toast than the Magnien. Good, but a bit oaky for my palate. Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Champeaux, Domaine Denis Mortet Toasty oak, but this has the material to easily handle it. Needs time Very good Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers, Domaine Bruno Clair Big, focused, backwards. Lots of extraction. Needs time. Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers, Domaine Serafin Père & Fils Big, meaty, very Gevrey, with lots of high toast oak. Very attractive, if a bit marked by oak for my taste. Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques, Domaine Louis Jadot Serious wine. Long, rich, concentrated, elegant and with nice minerality. Charmes Chambertin, Grand Cru, Frederic Esmonin Good fruit, nice length. Concentration OK. Charming wine. Charmes Chambertin, Grand Cru, Très Vieilles Vignes, Domaine Denis Bachelet Much more here than the Esmonin. Very good palate impression. A complete wine. Charmes Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Taupenot Merme More open wine. Solid enough, a bit gamey in character. Ruchottes Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Georges Mugneret Lovely sweet fruit, very nice aromatics. Lots of structure here that needs time to resolve. Griottes Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Drouhin Pretty cherry notes. Very elegant style, restrained, with great length. Very fine. Chambertin Clos de Beze, Grand Cru, Maison Camille Giroud Very old style Burgundy. Tannic, structured and with lots of weight to stand up to the tannins. Latricieres Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Simon Bize Floral and charming, but no blockbuster for a Grand Cru Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine J& J-Louis Trapet (magnum) Backward and tannic but lots of lovely blueberry fruit notes. This really needs time but it most impressive! Chambertin, Grand Cru, Domaine Armand Rousseau The wine of the tasting for me!! Superb, complete, very, very young, but near perfect wine. WOW! Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy buyer
Finalmente! Yes, finally, the 2001 Brunelli are arriving. This much-ballyhooed vintage is here for you to taste. We are doing in-store tastings on Saturday, August 12 for any wishing to sample! Tiny Poggiarellino was last year’s introductory success. Its forward drinkability and price had everyone jumping out of their shoes. The 2001 Poggiarellino Brunello di Montalcino ($29.99) shows that last year was no fluke, In fact, this wine has gone from fun to important. The 2001 lays a powerful, focused center right down the middle of your palate and is rich, fleshy with a chocolaty, ripe-cherry-flavor-filled body. The wine has considerable depth and a texture that makes me think of a Bistecca Fiorentina. This vintage shows far more complexity, layers of spice, distinct mineral components and a truly dramatic and long-lasting finish where the spice and minerals go on forever. Capable of aging 15-20 years easily yet balanced and rich enough to excite anyone today! 2,700 bottles made! The quality evolution at Pian dell’Orino has been dramatic. Mike P. and I tasted everything from their cellar through 2005, and we are supremely impressed by the quality of fruit character, the real terroir and subtle winemaking. The 2001 Pian dell’Orino Brunello di Montalcino ($39.99) is dense, muscular and dark like an Olympic swimmer returning from a month at the beach. Those muscles are long and sinewy, graceful, full of power yet the wine strides with an elegant balance, oozing confidence still with a reserve reminiscent of nobility. There is a chocolaty, cassis, plum-like flavor that fills the mid palate coiled around a powerful interior structure that gives the wine great length and allows these flavors to linger in the finish. Mixed in with the warm fruit-filled ripeness are hints of animal, fresh glove leather, stones and wild herbs that are subtly present yet add to the complex background and are more present in the finish. Long, powerful and decidedly delicious, this is a wine that will age 10-15 years easily although so well balanced you could drink it now. The 2001 Pian dell’Orino “Piandorino” ($17.99) a truly wonderful blend of 75% sangiovese, 15% merlot and 10% cabernet sauvignon aged half in barrique and half in large oak, is REALLY good! The 2004 Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino ($19.99) is some truly serious sangiovese. This is a vintage to be reckoned with; in a few years the 2004 vintage will be the thing! Some other fantastic wines just arriving are the 2001 Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino ($39.99), with its luscious ripe fruit and easy drinkability, as well as its neighbor the 2001 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino ($39.99), which is really good in this vintage and seriously focused. Another unheard of wine is the 2001 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino “I Poggiarelli” ($44.95). Three Stars! Marco Cortonesi produces honest, elegant and deliciously drinking wines. His “I Poggiarelli” vineyard release has layers of complex dark wild cherry flavors that jump out of the wine. It highlights a real sauvage character: spice, saddle leather, earth all balanced in a supple, graceful wine. No blockbuster alcoholic monster, just a really complex, fun wine with elegance and charm, like Audrey Hepburn but with a tan, on the beach, and after a few cocktails. Only 291 cases produced. —Greg St. Clair
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