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The Freewheel line with a couple of English friends.

It takes a lot of beer to keep the wine business running smoothly. Here in Redwood City, we are very fortunate to have a great English style ale producer right in our backyard: Freewheel Brewing Company. The staff of K&L are fictures at our local pub, and it is a rare moment when one of us isn't there having a pint and a bite of their excellent food. We are also lucky enough to be the first place to offer their bottled beer for sale. If you have never had it, the Freewheel Brewing "FSB" Freewheel Special Bitter, California (500ml) is the benchmark in fresh, balanced, smashable ale. We will do our best to keep some in stock for you, the customer too!

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Entries in Winemaker Interviews (33)

Monday
Mar182013

{Terra Ignota} 100 Years in the Making: The Voice of Rippon

This week I was lucky enough to attend one of the most interesting and inspiring tastings I have ever been to. A "20 Year Vertical of Rippon Pinot Noir" the invite read. On the surface a 20-year vertical of any wine is a great accomplishment, (if the wines have held up anyways) but the thing with Rippon is that the story runs so much deeper than your basic chronology of vintages. This is a story about four generations of passionate farmers, a strong affinity to a place, the toils of a father, son and many others to bring forth the “voice of the farm,” the true expression of a special terroir.

Nick's father Rolfe looking out over the land that would become Rippon Estate.For those of you that don't know the wines of Rippon, it is an estate in Central Otago on the south island of New Zealand. This is an area famed for its Pinot Noir and much of Rippon's success can be attributed to this wonderful, fickle variety. The vineyard occupies a very unique and special site. The majestic Lake Wanaka lies to the east, and to the west are looming snow capped mountains of the Mt. Aspiring National Park. Current viticulturalist / winemaker Nick Mills who hosted the tasting at RN74 in San Francisco, is part of the fourth generation to call this place home.

Whilst the land has been owned by the family for more than 100 years, the first thoughts of vines began when Nick’s Father discovered the intricate and special relationship between Vitis vinifera and schist soils in Portugal sometime after his tours of service World War II.

(Schist is probably the most important feature that gives Rippon its character, texture and detailed nature. In a later video we will hear Nick talk a little more  about the complex geology that makes this site so special.)

Nick’s father planted experimental vines on the property in the 1970s, and the first “commercial” plantings were established in 1982. Here you can watch Nick talking about his family’s history linving on the land and the establishment of the vines there.

Wanaka’s climate is also very important to the character of the wines produced. Nick believes the growing season is characterized mostly by “gross climactic events at either end of the season”. Indeed with this kind of elevation and the southerly latitude of Central Otago, frost danger looms both at the beginning and end of the vine’s cycle. Despite this Nick describes the mid growing season as “clear and sanitary”, with very little pest or disease pressure on the vines to prevent them from producing clean fruit of the highest quality.


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He describes the site in Wanaka as having more “temperance” than the rest of Central Otago. Temperance from heat and cold accorded to it by the air flow off the Mountains, the thermal mass of the lake and the clouds that make it over the towering ranges to the west before dissipating over the high desert of Central Otago. This temperance produces a long and consistent growing season for the development of depth and flavor.

With high hopes and tangiable anticipation in the air, the first flight of the day was poured consisting of:

1990 Rippon Pinot Noir (Barrel Selection)

1991 Rippon Pinot Noir (Barrel Selection)

1992 Rippon Pinot Noir (Barrel Selection)

1995 Rippon Pinot Noir

1998 Rippon Pinot Noir

2000 Rippon Pinot Noir

The 1990 bottling was the first indication of how great this line up was going to be. Still bright, fresh, pure and with great balance. The wine showed the ripeness of the vintage all these years on with soft sweet fruits, silky and saturated. Notes of leather and hint of coffee emerged with air.

1991 was quite different but equally intriguing. Much less ripe fruit and some more dried herb qualities. Characters of cherry skin and more savory notes of mushroom and moss. The wine had notably higher acidity and a remarkable "grapey" quality that defied the wines age.

1992 was different again. Dense, rich and more concentrated. Dark earthy aromas, sandalwood and spice. A youthful, dynamic mid-palate makes me think that this wine has years ahead of it.

These three wines were all made by the esteemed Rudi Bauer, now of Quartz Reef winery in Bendigo, Central Otago while current winemaker Nick was living life as a transient "Ski Bum".

The 1995 was interesting in that it was much more herbal and less ripe than any that had come before it. I got notes of underbrush, fresh tobacco, even mint, a real green vegetative character. Nick then brought everything into perspective explaining that the volcanic eruption of Mount Ruapehu that year threw ash into the atmosphere starving the south island of vital sunlight luminosity. Quite fascinating I thought.

2000, the last wine of the flight, joined 1990 as my two favorites thus far. It was starting to show the detailed layers of complexity that I know and love about the Rippon wines. The palate was more layered and complex with a real textural elegance and ethereal qualities.

While we enjoyed the wines Nick continued to speak about how he felt these wines, despite tasting great, were “more defined by cultivar than the by place,” more “Pinot Noir than Rippon”.

Here he is talking about the development of the vine age and how he likens their early expressions to a young child’s artwork.

I found the analogy of a crayon drawing very intriguing. Yet another of Nick’s adept illustrations of how he understands wine and the ultimate goal of how to capture the sense of place.

I had heard Nick speak about his wines before at a small staff tasting at K&L and one concept he spoke about that day has always stuck with me. This is the idea that the flesh of the grape is all about attraction and getting the bird / animal to eat it in order to (eventually) propagate the seed within. The color, sweetness and flavor are all simply to get the fruit eaten by something. However a plant’s real focus is to thrive in its environment. To pass on what it has learned about its specific surroundings to its offspring so they too may flourish. The genetic material, everything the plant has learned, the instinct if you will, is contained within the seed. This data of ecological analysis gathered by the plant, is basically terroir encapsulated. Nick believes that allowing the seed to reach full and natural maturity is how wines convey textural and sensual markers that reflect their origin.

Here he is at the tasting explaining his thoughts on this:

As we moved into the next flight (2001 - 2008) the theme turned to the "adolesent" period of the vineyard and perhaps more importantly to the era when Nick returned home to take the helm as winemaker. Nick’s many years of experience making wine in Burgundy and beyond allowed him to return to the family estate better equipped to seek the true expression of Rippon. Whilst working at many esteemed Domaines in Burgundy, including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (yes that’s DRC for short), Nick learnt what he describes as a “humility and deference to the land.” On his return the vineyard that had been farmed organically since the beginning, was converted immediately to Biodynamic farming. Nick believes that “vines must be in complete symbiosis with the land or they cannot produce a true vin de terroir.”  In his own words the journey from here on out was about one thing only, his quest to “deliver the land.”

Dry farming is another decision that Nick is adamant about. He describes how not watering the vines forces them to search the soil for their own sustenance. Micro root hairs penetrate the compacted schist searching for water. That water is often found in the form of algae and other micro-biological formations within the soil and rock all adding, he believes, to the complexity, depth and detailed nature of the resulting wines.

Nick’s first vintage back at Rippon 2003, produced a magnificent wine. One that I have tasted on numerous occasions and have always been impressed with. The ‘03 has the compact layers and precision that Nick talks about being the real textural markers that define the site. The wine has an incredible brightness and vibrancy.

The 2004 was the first wine to go from conventional cork to DIAM cork closures (which remain his closure of choice till this day). This technology combined with biodynamics and the vines gathering maturity has resulted in a quite remarkable consistency of quality throughout the wines from this point forward. Nick again modestly equates this to the symbiosis of the vines with the land and the climactic temperance that the site allows, however, I feel I must add that the guidance of his steady hand at the helm probably helps too. He concludes that schist is really the linear thread that gives precision and consistency to the wines.

Here is nick talking about the complex soil composition of the Rippon estate that is a combination of pure schist, moraines (glacial deposits) and schist laced with lateral clay lenses:

After six years back growing grapes and making the wines, Nick decided that he finally had the “courage” to bottle some single block wines to illustrate some of the unique geographic units within the larger farm. These single block wines in comparison to the “whole farm voice of “Rippon”” made up the final flight of the tasting.

2009 Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

2009 Rippon “Emma’s Block” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

2009 Rippon “Tinkers Field” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

2010 Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

2010 Rippon “Emma’s Block” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

2010 Rippon “Tinkers Field” Mature Vine Pinot Noir

Here is Nick talking about his decision to make these very limited production (100 case) single block wines.

 

The Emma’s block wines are from a parcel of vines directly on the lakeshore. The schist here is laced with clay deposited over many thousands of years as the lake setted. The wines have a remarkable supple character and silky texture. The palate is not as dense and layered as the “Rippon” bottling, yet it has more exuberance and a malleable texture and softness that makes it instantly gratifying. The Tinkers Field bottling by comparison comes from a pure schist parcel and really illustrates the detailed, compacted and indeed quite structural element of the estate. The flavors are not as obvious as Emma’s and yet the wine unfolds in an intriguing fashion with each sip revealing a new element. The Tinker's Field wines to me were quite grippy and spicy showing a lot of pent-up energy and power and I imagine are the component that gives "Rippon" its longevity.

Only at this late stage of the tasting did any details of cellar methodology emerge. To sum up: "it’s not a sorting table, it’s a tasting table; anything you don’t want in the wine stays in the vineyard!" In the cellar nothing is added or taken away, all wild yeast and enzymes. The wines spend two winters in barrel, the first in 25% new French oak, the second winter, after one racking and blending, is spent in entirely neutral wood for "slow repose and natural clarification". The wines are completely un-sulphured for the first year. His policy on whole cluster stem inclusion (quite the buzz concept right now) is that if its digestible it can stay in, if the stems aren’t right they stay out. This is about digestible material giving something to the wine, not making a stylistic statement. All in all you can see here that the expertise and skill is in the lack of manipulation and the absence of formulaic winemaking.

All that remained to do now was drink a little Rippon Riesling (2011 and 1991 side by side) and enjoy the charcuterie. (Riesling by the way is another thing that Rippon does exceptionally well but that’s another story!)

All day the wines spoke for themselves and illustrated what a special place Rippon is. Nick’s self confessed humility and deference to the land has gifted us some pretty special wines that I urge you all to experience at some point.

We have current vintages of 2008 Rippon “Rippon” Mature Vines Pinot Noir and a library release of 2003 Rippon Pinot Noir available on the shelves and online, as well and the Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Some of the older vintages featured in this tasting are available as library releases. The 2009 single block wines (Emma’s Block and Tinker’s Field) are also available in very limited quantities. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly via email if you are interested in any of the Rippon wines.

Cheers!

Ryan Woodhouse, NZ / Aussie Specialist

***

 Terra Ignota is Latin for "Unknown Land". It was the name for the South Pacific region during intial mapping and exploration of Australia and New Zealand. As we are going to be exploring new and exciting wines from this region, we think this is a fitting title for our blog series on wines from this part of the world. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday
Mar132013

Behind the Wine: Ernst Storm & Storm Wines

Winemaker Ernst Storm in a scene from the film STORM by Daniel Addelson which premiered this week online on Uncorked.

South African transplant to California's Central Coast, Ernst Storm handcrafts small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in a style that combines old world sensibilities with new world technique. We were really impressed when we tasted recent releases from his own label, Storm, in our Los Angeles store and believe this talented young winemaker's star is only just beginning to rise. So, when filmmaker (and K&L customer) Daniel Addelson approached us about hosting the official online premiere of his film 'Storm' based on Ernst's life and passion as a winemaker, we were honored to oblige. You can watch the film here and read on to go behind the scenes in our winemaker interview with Ernst, below.

Behind the Wine: Meet Winemaker Ernst Storm

K&L: Please tell us a little about your background. Where are you from and how did you end up in the wine business in Santa Barbara County?  

ES:  I grew up in South Africa and spent the last of my teenage years in a town called Hermanus which is in the Western Cape. Known as the appellation of Walker Bay, this region has a cool maritime climate where Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay ripen perfectly.

This small production Sauvignon Blanc is balanced and refreshing, a great value at $17.99. It "pairs really well with a summer afternoon in the sun overlooking the ocean eating butter lettuce, shallots, and avocado salad with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing," suggests Storm, but is also lovely on its own. Try a bottle tonight! Better act fast, supply is limited.After graduation, I spent a year working in Britain and Europe trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. In the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to find a way to be creative and work with nature. My brother, Hannes, was studying wine at the time and it just felt right to pursue winemaking. I completed my studies at the Elsenburg Agricultural School outside the town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. After completing the third year, I worked as winemaker at a winery called Amani in South Africa under the guidance of Rod Easthope, a New Zealand winemaker. I also consulted on a few small projects with my brother, who is the winemaker at Hamilton Russell Vineyards in the Walker Bay Appellation.

I  wanted to experience a Northern Hemisphere harvest and took a job in the Sierra Foothills. I spent two years working in this warmer climate—learning a lot about how to deal with higher pH wines and how to keep these wines stable. Having come from a cool climate region, I longed to make more balanced wines from Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. I went searching again. After visiting Santa Barabara County and having lunch with Jim Clendenen, I fell in love with the area. The Mediterranean climate shared many similarities with that of the Western Cape. I worked at Firestone for three years, which proved to be a great learning experience. At Firestone I worked with bigger lots and did plenty of experimentation with Sauvignon Blanc and other varietals. After several years, I became involved in the winemaking at Curtis Winery, where the focus is Rhone Varietals. I have been with them since 2008.

Where do you make wine and how many different wines do you make?

At Curtis Winery I work with fruit grown on the Estate at the North-Western end of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. The focus is Estate driven Rhone varietal wines that include Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. We also do a Red, White and Rose blend of these varietals that are very accessible and food friendly. Soon we will be adding Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from our Estate.

Under my label Storm, I produced only Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc with the focus on wines that have personality of both vintage and site.  For the 2012 vintage I will have two Pinots and two Sauvignon Blancs in bottle.

What wines, experiences, or individuals helped influence this philosophy?

I think South African winemakers were more influenced by European winemaking at the time. Growing up in the Walker Bay area and drinking a lot more balanced delicate wines made me realise that those were the type of wines I wanted to make. Working in different regions and being exposed to different climates and ideas helped me formulate a philosophy.  Finding vineyards where you can pick fruit for each varietal at a point where flavours, tannin ripeness and acids are all in balance at a decent potential alcohol was and is still important.

I will lie if I say great Burgundian wines have not had a big influence on my stylistic approach.  Wines that tell a story and are able to evolve has always been the focal point.  Working in Santa Barbara County it is possible to not only do this with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but also Sauvignon Blanc and Rhone Varietals if it grown in the right spot and picked at the right time.   

Grapes at harvest, a scene from the film Storm by Daniel Addelson. Describe the vineyards you work with to make the wines under your own label, Storm Wines.  How involved are you in the viticultural side of the production process?

For my Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc the vineyards were chosen to represent four different corners of the Valley, each with a distinct climate and soil. Each vineyard brings a different element to the blend, which at the end broadens the spectrum of the wine and is a good representation of Santa Ynez Valley. 

My Santa Maria Pinot Noir comes from Presqu’ile Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley. This is a newer planting with naturally low yielding vines planted on well drained soils. This makes farming easy and little intervention is needed. I get a lot more involved closer to harvest to dial in yields and watering. This vineyard is showing early on that it has great potential to make very site specific wines that speak volumes of the climate and soils. Tasting the 2012 out of barrels I know it is Presqu’ile and Santa Maria. It is red fruit driven with lots of spice and texture.

My Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir at John Sebastiano Vineyard is planted in two blocks. Dialing in the yield is a little more challenging here and we work hard to get it just right. The fruit from this vineyard is darker and more powerful, so making the right picking decision is crucial.

Eighty percent of my fruit is farmed by the same farming company, which make it easy. They have a good understanding of what the needs are and the style of wines I make. We dial yields, leaf removal and watering in keeping the final wine in mind. All the vineyards are farmed sustainably and I have a lot of trust in my growers. I work with the same rows and blocks every year which keep things consistent.

"I used to be obsessed with finding flavours and certain nuances in wine," Storm explains. "Dissecting it, braking it down to all its parts. Looking for faults. As I grew, I learnt to look more for texture and harmony. This has helped me to make decisions in the vineyard and the winery with the final wine in mind."(Image courtesy of Daniel Addelson)

How dramatic is vintage variation in Santa Barbara? How was 2012 compared to 2011, 2010?

Being a little further South it feels like we miss some of the rain that can sometimes hit during harvest in areas like Sonoma and Napa. So we are lucky in that regard. Compared to other regions outside of California we do have it pretty good.  But things have changed in recent years. We have seen frost, heat spikes and cool weather at the end of harvest which have made things a little more challenging though. So, whether this is climate change or just a cycle, it has definitely forced  people to scramble and go outside of their comfort zone.

In my opinion  2012 was perfect for the folks that are into making more restrained balanced wines. We had moderately warm days, little rain and never did the night temperature go very  high. The resulting fruit had great balance and ripe flavours at lower sugars.  It was a perfect year for balance and finesse. Compared to 2011 where  yields were reduced due to frost and heat spikes that lasted for five days it was a dream. In 2010 we also saw some heat spikes early on  that effected the early ripening varietals like Pinot.

What do the terms “old world” and “new world” mean to you in terms of winemaking practices and style?  Where do think your wines fit into the spectrum?

When trying to make Pinot Noir in a style that is pure and more delicate it is important to embrace as many old World techniques as possible. Letting the fruit speak without adding water, filtration, fining or manipulation is key to portraying vintage and site. I try to keep things simple without cosmetics when it comes to making red wines.

With white wine a combination of Old and New World techniques works really well in order to make the wines I want to make. When combining the right yeast choice, fermentation temperature  and lees interaction you can achieve both freshness and texture. I think it is important to constantly be searching for a balance between the two.

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that has influenced your winemaking?

I used to be obsessed with finding flavours and certain nuances in wine. Dissecting it, braking it down to all its parts. Looking for faults. As I grew, I learnt to look more for texture and harmony. This has helped me to make decisions in the vineyard and the winery with the final wine in mind.  

What are your thoughts on food and wine pairing? Do you have any favourite or recommended pairings with your wines?

Pairing should always start with your personal preferences as to wine and food. Once you start playing around in the kitchen trying to match the texture and the richness of your wine with dishes you love,  it becomes a fun experience.

My Sauvignon Blanc pairs really well with a summer afternoon in the sun overlooking the ocean eating butter lettuce, shallots, and avocado salad with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing.  Food or no food…

I like pairing the 2009 Pinot Noir to duck because of the gaminess. I think there is something similar in both the wine and the duck that come together seamlessly.

With some of the richer Rhone wines there is nothing like making a big red oak fire and grilling up a tri-tip and keeping it simple with rustic flavours.  The surrounding environment, the fire, the people has just as much to do with how everything is going to come together.

"It is no secret that most critics like riper, more extracted, softer wines with less acid," Storm points out. "If you put yourself out there you have to be able to take criticism, it is just part of the game. I try to remind myself that it is one person's opinion. The important thing is to stay true to yourself and not to follow trends when making wine. Searching for likeminded critics, wine buyers and customers on the street is very important to keep focus." (Image courtesy of Daniel Addelson)

What do you project for upcoming vintages in comparison to the past? Any changes or new developments on the horizon?

Well, it seems like mother nature has changed things up on us in the last decade. So whether this is Global Warming or just a cycle we are going through, only the future will tell. I try to take each vintage as it comes, making the best of the weather, yields etc. 

It seems like the average consumer is getting more educated, which means they are starting to explore and develop their own personal preferences more. They are starting to really get into the story behind the wine, not only what they taste and smell. As winery owners it will be important to tie this all in and to make wines that really represent the story.

In each region there are a growing number of growers and winemakers that are returning to the simple, trying to make more personality driven wines from carefully chosen sites.  Here in Santa Barbara County things have changed a lot in the last five years with new and exciting  projects coming up giving certain varietals and sites exposure. I think this will continue to happen with varietals like Chenin Blanc and other lesser known varietals getting into the limelight. Old planting that were neglected are getting love and the potential is being exploited.

Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your favorite style? How do you handle this?

It is no secret that most critics like riper, more extracted, softer wines with less acid.  If you put yourself out there you have to be able to take criticism, it is just part of the game. I try to remind myself that it is one person's opinion. The important thing is to stay true to yourself and not to follow trends when making wine. Searching for likeminded critics, wine buyers and customers on the street is very important to keep focus.

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

I enjoy drinking wines made by my friends, where I know the story and methodology behind them.  Burgundy is also high on the list with South African wines from the cooler regions. I definitely go through phases where I buy a case or two of something and drink just that for weeks, then switch to something else.

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

I buy I fair amount of wine, but most of it doesn't sit around too long. There are a few bottles of Burgundy and some local Pinots stashed away though. 

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the local Santa Barbara and greater California wine industry today?

With more and more brands popping up locally there is more competition out there. That and the fact that consumers and wine buyers have the option of buying really good imported wines at great prices only make it harder to sell wine and make your margins. Staying on top of your marketing and aligning your brand with the right brokers and distributors is getting more and more important in the industry today.

Related Links

STORM by Daniel Addelson will be screening in the 2013 Sonoma Film Festival. Click to watch the online premiere now on Uncorked!Shop Storm Wines on KLWines.com

Check out other K&L Top Picks from the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Regions

Visit Storm Wines Website

 

 

Friday
Nov112011

Keith's Burgundy Hotline: Dungeness Crab, Chablis, the world is good.

By: Keith Wollenberg | K&L Burgundy Buyer

Hello Burgundy Lovers,

Another container just landed, with some wines I have been waiting impatiently for.  They are a range of superb Chablis from Jean-Claude Bessin.  He has not had a West Coast Importer, until I talked him into selling us a few cases.  Before he would sell me any wine he wanted to know who I worked with in Chablis, about our stores, what I knew about Chablis, etc. etc.  It was a challenging and rewarding visit.

Our supplies are limited, and these should go quickly, once people taste the wines.  You know I am not prone to hyperbole, but tasting in his cellar last summer was a highpoint of my trip. These are wines of Raveneau or Dauvissat quality.  He works by hand, with no machine harvesting, no herbicides, no pesticides and  use of cover crops. 

Let me make 2 bold predictions:

1)      You WILL NOT be sorry to have these brilliant wines in  your cellar and on hand when crab season starts.

2)      You WILL be sorry later if you miss these wines.  I bought some bottles for my own cellar before I sent out this email.  ‘Nuff said.

Here is what Jean-Claude has to say about his domaine (From an interview in our November newsletter, translated from the French by yours truly)

 

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy?

“The Art of the Vines”:  To be guided by nature.

“The art of Winemaking”: Simplicity.

 

What wines or winemakers helped influence your philosophy?

No one particular wine or winemaker.  We apply all the traditional methods, which we adapt and change according to our sensibilities, staying in tune with nature.

 

How involved in grape-growing are you? Is there a particular vineyard site that excites you year after year?

I am 100% involved in grape-growing, as wine is made in the vineyard.  Each of my vineyard sites reveals its secrets over the years as I work with it in successive vintages.

 

How do you think your palate has evolved over the years? How do you think that has influenced your wines?

The purity of our wines has always been a priority.  When I was younger, I liked wines which were perfumed, with richness and roundness, but today I prefer elegance, finesse and personality in wine.  I leave it to you to taste my wines and tell me how this change has influenced my winemaking!

 

What kinds of food do you like to pair your wines with?

Sashimi of Scallops, Wild Sea Bass ...

 

What changes are planned for coming vintages? Any new (top secret) varietals, blends or proprietary wines on the horizon?

We intend no grand changes, just to continue to work with, and listen to, each vineyard site.

 

Is there a style of wine that you think appeals to critics that might not represent your personal favorite style? How do you deal with it?

No comment.

 

What do you drink when you are not drinking your own wine?

All the good wines!

 

Do you collect wine? If so, what’s in your cellar?

Burgundies, of course, but also the wines of the Loire Valley, Rhone Valley and other regions.

 

What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the wine industry today?

I will not venture an opinion on this subject.  I consider myself a craftsman, and feel that the greatest challenge facing small growers (such as I am) is to remain artisanal.

 

These wines are in stock in all locations, and available on  the web  or by phone, while they last. 

 

2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis "Vieilles Vignes"   $19.99

100% Hand-harvested, all wild yeast fermentations, and a full 18 months of élevage. Reserved with lots of concentration. Made from 45-55 year old vines. Nice minerality, with a bit of floral notes on the nose. Very nice weight on the mid-palate from the old-vine concentration. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows writes: "A pretty nose of modest Chablis character also features notes of pear, white peach and apricot that lead to rich, generous and relatively full-bodied flavors that possess a seductive texture on the delicious... Read More » 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Montmains" $24.99

Very lovely character, with clean, focused fruit and nice minerality threaded behind it. This is very good. It sees some (not much) neutral wood in its élevage. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows scores this 90 points and writes:"A fresh, elegant and floral nose is nuanced by hints of stone, spice and green fruit that merges into middle weight flavors that possess good richness but also good detail, all wrapped in a delicious, balanced and solidly complex finish." (Burghound, 10/11) 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "La Fôret"    $26.99

This I thought was truly terrific Chablis, with very, very pretty fruit and wonderful concentration on the palate. Absolutely singing at this juncture. Notes of honey combine beautifully with the minerality here. Has that characteristic of the acidity that makes you r mouth water, quite literally. As Jean-Claude told me: "This terroir typically has lots of freshness and tension, from the limestone rocks in the soil here." " (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows calls this "Outstanding", scores it 91, and writes:"This is a bit f... Read More » 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Fourchaume"   $26.99

From several parcels, in the heart of Fourchaume and one in Homme Mort. Open and pretty in character, with lovely floral notes and a rather round character on the palate for a young Chablis. (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows Scores it 91 and writes: "(from a 2 ha parcel in Fourchaume with a small portion in L'Homme Mort). This also displays white orchard fruit aromas with hints of exoticism but here there is more of a floral influence that slides gracefully into rich and big-bodied flavors that possess fine depth and length, ... Read More » 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cu "Fourchaume" "La Pièce au Comte"   $31.99

This is Jean-Claude's oldest vines, aged 58-78 years old. It is very, very elegant on the palate with more extract and focus. It also shows terrific poise and energy. Lots of little tine white flowers on the nose, with pronounced minerality and a more powerful finish. Terrific! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer, 03/11) Allen Meadows calls this Outstanding!, scores it 92 and writes: "(Bessin explains that this is essentially the old vines Fourchaume). This appears to have better integration of the wood than is typical at this early stage with a s... Read More » 


2009 Domaine Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis Grand Cru "Valmur"   $49.95

Ok, folks, hold your hats. This is the most concentrated, high-energy 2009 I tasted on my March trip. It comes from the Domaine's oldest vines (more than 80 years, but no one knows how old they actually are!) Lots of energy, lots of tension, more size than any of the 1er Crus, terrific concentration. In a word, superb! (Keith Wollenberg, K&L Burgundy Buyer) Allen Meadows scores this 93, awards a "Sweet Spot" and notes: "A visible if discreet touch of wood allows free rein to the green fruit and spiced pear aromas that complement the rich, serious and... Read More » 

 

A Santé, and enjoy Dungeness crab season, if you are in the right part of the country. 

-Keith

 

Mr. Keith WOLLENBERG

Directeur Commercial Bourgogne

K&L Wine Merchants

http://www.klwines.com

+1-650-556-2724 Direct Line

Keithw@klwines.com