Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Deliciously Affordable Bubbly

Well, affordable bubbly is something I am always on the lookout for. However, inexpensive Champagne is difficult to find, though it is possible. But, what about Cremants or other sparkling wines? Is it possible to find one? Well, as it turns out, yes.

-NV Jean-Francois Ganevat "La Combe" Rotalier Oh! Cremant du Jura
Well, that's a mouthful of a name, no? I have to say, however, this is quite a lovely mouthful of a wine as well. I wasn't expecting much, as I've had some pretty lousy Cremants from all over France, and I've never been a huge Cava fan, though I do like some Prosecco. Usually, I find many Cremants too sweet or rough for my taste, but this one is quite different.

First off, the nose is very floral, with lemon, green apples, and quartz/mineral accents, and it doesn't smell sweet or overworked like other Cremants. The bubbles are quite small and piquant, tickling the palate and not rough around the edges. Think Badoit mineral water as opposed to Perrier. On the palate, this wine offers similar notes, with some nutty aspects that are backed up by a very tart finish that goes on a relatively long time. I daresay if this were poured blind among some BdB Champagnes (this is 100% Chardonnay), it might hold its own or at the very least put in a good showing. Heck, at Day Two, it was still going, though the bubbles had faded but were perceptable on the tongue, and it became much more floral. Delicious with the sushi I ordered.

In other words, I really enjoyed this. It is made like traditional Champagne, by an organic winemaker named Jean-Francois Ganevat who also has very old vines on his property in the Jura. And of course, it's always a pleasure to find something this enjoyable. When you get that "A-ha" moment, there's the small thrill of victory against the seas of swill that are sold.

At a whopping $18/bottle by the case, this is quite the value.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Video of 2009 Harvest in Cahors

Vintage 2009 at Chateau de Gaudou

I am travelling on business in the great state of Texas where some of the wines I represent will be appearing soon. In fact, you will also find them throughout Mexico as well since this distributor sells into both countries (now that's pretty cool!). So I leave you with a short video offered by Chateau de Gaudou in the Cahors of their 2009 harvest (another region where the year is looking wonderful).

You will notice that they mechanically harvest their lowland vineyards, but all the hillside vines are tended to by hand. This is where the grapes for the 1733 and the Tradition come from. The flatland stuff is sold off in bulk, so don't worry, they're being careful with your babies!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And Away We Go: Harvest 2009

Ripe, plump Chardonnay grapes in the Macon

I love Burgundy, as anyone who's ever even glanced at this blog could tell you. But, and this is a big BUT, it's too damned expensive. I wish I could represent some great, unheard-of winemaker who's toiling away in the Côte d'Or, but doing so would probably violate Vinotas Selections' whole raison d'être, namely to find small, high-quality producers making wines that will retail for under $25.

However, I do carry one white Burgundy that I am really fond of, the Domaine Cathérine et Didier Tripoz. After spending some time with them last year walking their vineyards and seeing their dedication, I fell in love with them and their lands.

Clipping the bunches

This past week harvest 2009 started, and it's looking like a good one. In fact, the only region that seems to have had a few issues is the area east of Muscadet, which saw some hail damage. But otherwise, reports all over France are that this year will be a great one. Didier had the same thing to say about his Clos des Tournons, another shipment of which will be arriving very soon in the NYC area.

Climbing the VERY steep hillside vineyard

As I couldn't be there this year, I asked him to send me some pictures of the harvest. I adore seeing this, it really brings it all into focus: the hard, manual labor, the long hours toiling in the field, the amount of dedication necessary to source great grapes and make a lovely wine.

Emptying the bins

Sure, in many cases it would be cheaper and easier to get a mechanical picker. And some great wines are made despite having been picked by a machine. Heck, it certainly gives the winemaker more flexibility as to timing and speed. But there's something so elemental and heart-warming to harvesting by hand, knowing that someone has carefully selected these bunches before they're sent to the sorting table to be selected again. It shows dedication to the utmost levels of quality.

Off to the winery

But it isn't easy, and not for those with bad backs or sore feet. For most folks it's this mythical time in the vineyard. For those who do it, it's back-breaking, non-stop abusive work, with plenty of bruises and scrapes and cuts to show. But it's so worth it. If you've ever wondered what it's like, I invite you to read my post about harvesting the 2006 vintage in Burgundy, HERE.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sunny bubbles

It's sometimes amazing how a wine can remind you of certain sights, sounds and smells. But then again, drinking wine is not just about its taste but also about the entirety of the experience, whether its hedonistic, introspective, contextual, or all three.

So over a long and lazy Labor Day weekend in La Jolla I happened upon a bottle of NV Roger Pouillon Rose. I had had a lovely bottle of a Solera-style Champagne they make in late July at the great restaurant 11 Madison Park, so I was eager to try this producer's Rose. Afterward, I also did a little research into Roger Pouillon, where he's located and how he makes his wines. I mean, I am wine geek after all, it's what I do.

So a little information: this small domaine is located in the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, just north of the small city of Epernay. While they don't practice biodynamic viticulture, they do "lutte raisonnee", or sustainable agriculture, meaning they do everything they can to ensure the health of the soils and avoid nasty chemicals.

And the wine? Well, it's like a glass of sunshine-filled flowery bubbles. The fresh taste of kir, strawberries and cherries, with some creamy notes, is something that just feels and reminds one of summer. The salmon color is lovely to behold and contemplate while sitting outside with friends. Especially now that the memory of summer is fading into the cool reality of Fall.