2003 was a vintage in Burgundy unlike any in memory, thanks to the ferocious heat wave. The wines are often very different than in a typical Burgundy vintage. This left some growers in a dilemma. If their wine did not fit their style, either they had to change their style for the vintage, or they had to take a financial loss and bulk out the wine. I was most interested when Daniel Johnnes, sommelier and importer, approached me in May with an offer for a 2003 Nuits St. George, Premier Cru, at a great price. He told me that one producer in Nuits St. Georges had had several barrels of a single vineyard Premier Cru that just did not fit into their desired style, and that they were interested in selling it in bulk. Of course, it would be labeled as a negociant wine, even though it was all from a single one of their Premier Cru vineyards. When I visited Burgundy in June and tasted the wine, I was delighted to find a beautiful Nuits St. Georges. The 2003 Nuits St. Georges, 1er Cru, La Cerisière ($29.99) is big and rich, with ripe fruit and a brawny charm reminiscent of the old Jules Belin style. A fat and luscious nose is followed by rich blackberry notes on the palate and lots of grip. We grabbed all there was, both for our Signature Red Club and for our retail customers. I felt like a cherry-picker, which is fitting. After all, when you get a chance to be a cherry picker, and get the perfect thing, the next thing you want to be is a Cerisière (a cherry seller). At these prices I do not expect the wine to be around for long. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
Please permit me to throw my hat into the already frantic discussion of what to drink with your Thanksgiving meal, the most over thought wine/food pairing in history. Every major wine publication will feature their experts on why an aged Merlot goes best with farm-raised chestnut-fed turkey stuffed with morel mushrooms slowly roasted, covered, uncovered, basted, brined and beaten… or most definitely it is Pinot Noir you want to drink to encompass the entire meal and its myriad flavors. But wait! Not just any Pinot Noir; it must be from Oregon and from a cool vintage to better enhance the subtle earthy flavors the pecans add to the stuffing. My advice as a certifiable wine person is to order Thai food, tell them you want it real hot and open a few bottles of Riesling, then wait till the next day and visit your friends for those turkey sandwiches that always seem to be so much more satisfying. Wait wrong article… So what you want to do is drink wines from the Loire Valley with your holiday meal or Alsace for that matter because these are the perfect wines to match the complexities of your now featherless friend. Listen equally featherless friends, there is no need to stress (funny it is me saying that). The straight deal is this: Turkey is a bland bird, not much flavor, a bit like chardonnay in the sense that it takes well to adornment, hence all the fine recipies to dress it up. Turkey as it is most often cooked—roasted—goes best with white wines with clean flavors and not too much oak. Second best is light to medium bodied juicy reds with low tannin levels and again clean flavors and not too much oak. Now, unless you are me or the three or four other people who actually read this column each month and say “yeah man, that’s it” then you should drink what you like. Since you know what? You have to drink it. If you were like me, or you want to be like me, you would drink these: To start- Jean-Louis Denois Brut Rosé Pinot Noir ($12.99), not from the Loire, but I just love it. 100% pinot noir rosé made by skin contact, bright juicy and darn fine. Then the 2002 Domaine Vincent Ogereau Anjou Blanc ($12.99), 100% hand-harvested chenin blanc from a parcel of schist-laden soil in the commune of Saint Lambert. It is vinified in 500 liter Tonnes on its lees until bottling in May. The wine is saturated with wet stone flavors with hints of stone fruits, ginger and sweet herbs and is possibly the most versatile and friendly chenin blanc I have tasted. For the reds I suggest two: the 2004 Domaine de la Pépière Cuvee Granit Rouge ($10.99), from our friend Marc Ollivier in Muscadet, is his take on cheery red wine, though not without substance. It fits the bill (or beak) with its juicy, supple personality. A blend of côt, gamay and merlot (Oh no). Or if you are flush, the 2003 Château du Hureau Saumur Champigny Cuvée Lisagathe ($24.99), a great cab franc from a hot vintage that is seething with rich luscious fruit and minerals that will satisfy even the “big” wine drinkers. No more room - Gobble, Gobble. —Jeff Vierra
This month I would like share with you two wines from Bergerac. Like its famous neighbor, Bordeaux, red wines here rely on merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon while the white wines are typically comprised of semillon and sauvignon blanc (Perhaps more famously, Bergerac is also home to the famous Cyrano de Bergerac). The 2004 Château de Calabre Bergerac Rouge ($10.99) is a lovely example of a merlot-based red from the appellation that is both inexpensive and extremely versatile at the table. Comprised of 80% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 20% cabernet franc, and vinified in stainless steel, the Calabre exhibits hints of black cherry, blueberry and violets. This would be just the thing with meatloaf! In 1994 Englishman Charles Martin purchased the Château de la Colline and immediately began restoring and re-planting the vineyards with semillon, sauvignon blanc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Carminé is the estate’s top red wine and is made from 95% merlot and 50% cabernet sauvignon aged in new oak barriques for 18 months. The 2001 Château de la Colline Bergerac Carminé ($17.99) is a rich and elegant southwestern red with crushed red raspberries and rich mocha notes. Enjoy with a gorgeous piece of filet mignon or braised beef shortribs. A bientot! —Mulan Chan
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