From Weekly Wine

Stunning New 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape & Mourchon’s CnP Clone – 100% Grenache Reserve Bottling

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Last Fall in Chateauneuf du Pape I discovered a new bottling from this famous region produced by Domane Pigan. It was the 2010 and it was a stunning wine from the highly successful vintage. I immediately bought what I could and it has now arrived. Quantities are limited but I went ahead because I have been searching for great Chateauneuf du Pape for several years. I had found that the well know domaine bottlings were both spoken for and very expensive. But that is what the patient search is about: finding great value wines. If you love wines from this region think about this today.

First, the Southern Rhone has gone to the quality limit in 2010 with its best vintage in a dozen years:

Robert Parker rates the 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape vintage 97 Points, the best vintage since 2000. Wine Spectator says 2010 is more than outstanding rating the vintage 98 “… a late harvest stretching into October, resulting in beautifully ripe, racy, terroir-driven wines for aging. The spine of 2005 with extra flesh”

I think as all know the grapes in Chateauneuf du Papes can come from many grape varieties (in fact 13 different ones) but it is always lead by Grenache and usually followed by Syrah depending on the soil and vineyards.

As a companion to this high profile bottling I have a few new cases of Domaine Mourchon’s special 100% Grenache from 2011 as well. Our friend Scotsman Walter McKinlay purchased 40+ acres in Seguret in the Cotes du Rhone in 1998. By the 2005 vintage, Robert Parker was already calling Domaine de Mourchon “the best estate today in Seguret”. This is a tour de force in winemaking.

Many of you have been buying Walter ‘s wonderful Cotes Du Rhone Villages – Seguret Tradition & Grand Reserve bottlings for a few years. They are wonderful, prasied by all the wine reviewers and some of my personal favorites. I take a case of each every year.

Last year Walter was able to source some very limited finely produced grapes from this area near his estate in Seguret and produced a small production special bottling of 100% Grenache (the princpile grape from Chateauneuf du Papes) from his best plots and oldest vines. I only have a few cases of this wine.

Parker has a self-professed “crush on Chateauneuf du Pape,” to put it mildly. He makes a pretty powerful endorsement when he says that the “wine that I find myself turning to most often is Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”

Well he does have point. Chateauneuf du Pape offers immediate gratification both intellectual and hedonistic “Its wide array of aromas and flavors are reminiscent of a Provençal marketplace while its texture-rich and round, sumptuous and opulent-is virtually unmatched by most of the wines of the world.” Robert Parker

But the greatest appeal of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, beyond its food-friendly qualities, expansiveness, generosity of flavors and sumptuous texture, is the almost addictive attraction of its combined intellectual and hedonistic elements.” – Robert Parker

Here are the wines:

#1 DOMAINE PIGNAN CHATEAUNEUF du PAPES 2010 10 cases
6 bottles $249, 12 bottle case $479.88 ($39.99)
This is a wonderful price for high quality Cnp. It can easily reach to twice as much per bottle.
“As for the 2010s, the 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape possesses copious quantities of black raspberries, black cherries, pepper, roasted meats and loamy soil notes. Made from a blend similar to the 2011, it offers lots of glycerin, a full-bodied mouthfeel, an open-knit personality and a succulent, luxurious finish. Drink it over the next 10-12 years.

Created in 1989, Domaine de Pignan can trace its origins back to an estate called Domaine Antoine Pecoul, which was producing wines in Chateauneuf du Pape in 1855. From his nearly 37 acres of vines, proprietor Frederic Charvin (no relation to Laurent Charvin) has turned in the finest efforts I have yet tasted from Pignan.RATED 89 ” -R Parker

#2 DOMAINE DE MOURCHON FAMILY RESERVE “G” 2011 only 6 cases available
6 bottles $325, 12- bottle case $599.88 ($49.99)
This very limited cuvee comes from old vines near the village of Seguret, where the winery is located.” A step up, the 2011 Cotes du Rhone Villages Family Reserve is an awesome blend of 100% Grenache (from 60-year-old vines) that was aged all in demi-muid. Sporting a deep, semi-transparent ruby color, it delivers a stunning array of sweet black cherry, cassis, liquid flowers, Asian spices and rose petal to go with a medium to full-bodied, lively and beautifully proportioned profile on the palate. Ripe and textured, with beautiful focus and length, this thrilling Grenache should hit prime time in another 2-3 years and drink admirably through 2021. It’s a knockout effort in a less than ideal vintage. – Rated 92 Robert Parker

Don’t miss these delicous, ready to drink (and cellar worthy as well) bottlings.Margot Hurley, Cynthia Hurley French Wines

Second Shipment – 2009 Red Burgundy Arrives: Mercurey Les Crets 2009 from Domaine Ninot

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 The Mercurey village and premier
cru hillside vineyards

I got the first shipment of one of my favorite lower priced premier cru Burgundies in December. It sold out right away, but good news — a second supply has arrived.

I love a good Burgundy Mercurey. Particularly a 2009 Mercurey from Domaine Ninot. It’s an honest, earthy, pungent, full-flavored, red berry fruited Pinot Noir wine which, when consumed with a lamb stew and crunchy mopping bread in front of a crackling fire, can plunge one into a very comfortable state of mind.

Last year’s 2008 Les Crets was rated 88-91 by Burghound. The 2009 has not been reviewed yet but which has built up huge anticipation because its high quality and perfectly riped fruit. I will give give you last year’s review (below) to give you a sense of this delightful wine’s style.

“This is more refined aromatically with very Pinot aromas that still carry the hallmark earthiness of a classic Mercurey and this earthiness also suffuses the rich, round and generous medium-bodied flavors that are supported by rather fine tannins and notably better length on the sappy finish. Lovely and understated. 2012+. 88-91pts” – Allen Meadows, Burghound

And if that’s the 2008 – imagine how good the 2009 will be! 2009 red Burgundies – peerless perfection!

Wine Spectator reports on the 2009 vintage: “it looks like Burgundy lovers will be blessed with charming and fruity reds and whites.”

Decanter writes, “Winemakers throughout the region are delighted by 2009’s high levels of ripeness, the health of the grapes, and the promising acidity and balance.”

And this Mercurey is an incredible value. Errell Ninot is one of those perfectionist, over-achieving growers that I spend my days searching for.

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St Veran from Domaine des Deux Roches: White Burgundy you Can Afford to Enjoy Every Night

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 The label on the bottle,
glistening with a few
drops of this special wine.

My love of good white wine has grown tremendously over the past year. Maybe it is the wonderful vintages, maybe it is the refreshing, cool citrus and mineral flavors. Of course, it’s not just any white wine that rings my chimes – it takes a white Burgundy. Like many of you, I like to savor the time at the end of the day when the work is done with a glass in my hard.

I particularly like a white Burgundy with a price tag that means I can enjoy it with out checking to see if the Dow is up that day. Yes, that’s a bit trickier to nail down in the pricey paradise of white Burgundies.

But, if you travel south to the Macon region – then you can find what I’m looking for. Ah-h and you’ll have a good time doing it – the land there is lush and lovely beyond description.

The Collovray and Terrier families created the Domaine des Deux Roches in 1986 in the Maconnais wine region, south of the Cote d’Or. Out of this marriage comes some of the most compelling St Verans in the region.

Deux Roches refers to the two gigantic rock cliffs that punctuate the landscape here: Vergisson and Solutre. The estate is in Davaye which is considered the best source of St Veran. The quite limited St Veran vineyards are to the north and the south of the Pouilly Fuisse vineyards but the northern vineyards make the best wines and this is where Davaye is found.

Here’s what Jean-Luc Terrier says about his winemaking:

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Chateau Puy Galland 2006: Ready to Drink Discovery from Bordeaux’s Insider’s Favorite: Cotes de Francs

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 Puy Galland comes from Bordeaux, where
the Cotes de Francs vineyards
are in the undiscovered (and high value)
area just 10K east of Saint-Emilion.

Cotes de Francs. A rolling, green part of Right Bank Bordeaux that’s producing some of Bordeaux’s least known but most amazing wine values.

The Thienpont family first put Cotes de Francs on the map. They own Le Pin in Pomerol. You remember, Le Pin. It set an auction record a while back – 12 bottles went for $32,000. They know how to make wine.

The Thienponts recognized what glorious terroir there was in Cotes de Francs which is just northeast of Saint-Emilion and they bought Chateau Puygueraud and then other chateaux. Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus caught on next and bought a chateau for himself there and suddenly people started paying attention – including myself.

I’ve always got my eyes open when it comes to affordable Bordeaux made by winemakers whose livelihood actually depends upon their making a knockout wine. Of course, I am especially keen on finding them in good Bordeaux vintages years like 2006.

In fact 2006 is a very fine vintage but equally important it is now 5 years old is is getting very ready to drink. and it will drink nicely over the next several years.

These smaller, family owned chateaux often are not too good at the marketing part, but they’re great at the wine making part, which is what I care about. I don’t expect my wine to come to me via some snazzy press kit – I’m willing to go out and break a trail if I have to. The rewards for doing this are often stunning.

All of this points right to Chateau Puy Galland. Bernard Labatut’s Chateau Puy Galland is exactly what I look for. A classy Bordeaux with flesh and black cherries, very round in the mouth. Many people don’t realize it, but there are a lot of affordable wines in Bordeaux that just get shouldered aside by the Classified Growth buzz. Yes, you can drink great Bordeaux every night – you just have to know where to find them.

Bernard Labatut is the third generation to work the vines at Chateau Puy Galland. His 26-year-old son will soon take the reins. Bernard likes the organic approach to wine growing. He de-leafs and green harvests to produce better quality, riper grapes.

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Eric de Suremain “surehand” Rully Preaux 2008: One of my Best Value Premier Cru Burgundies

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 Eric’s Rully Preaux premier cru Label

The shipment of the delicious 2008 de Suremain Rully Burgundy has docked, but be aware it never lasts very long. Many of you already know that Eric de Suremain has got a talent for making wine that far out-strips its appellation.

“…the average 2008 will make for really lovely medium-term drinking though there will also be a few long distance runners.

” The best ’08s are fresh, intense, bright, vibrant and very terroir- driven – in short it’s a classic Burgundian vintage. And as I noted in my vintage analysis last year, it is on the whole more interesting than either 2007 or 2006. And in a few cases, the wines are truly brilliant so don’t overlook them..” -Allen Meadows, Burghound, on the 2008 red Burgundies.

Every time I have a shimmering glass of Suremain’s Rully, I wonder why everybody is not incurably attached to French Pinot Noir. “Why, there’s nothing quite like it,” I say to myself as the swirl of berries fills my mouth. I’ve tasted it from every country in world, but Burgundy’s is still the most exquisite expression of the grape type.

The flavors seem embedded in every molecule and they skip across my taste buds scattering black cherry, raspberry, minty, leathery, chocolaty fairy dust along the way. A refill, please.

“I love the best 2008s; they are my kind of Burgundies. …The best wines of the vintage are pure, racy, perfumed midweights that accurately showcase their terroir —in all its fruity, spicy, floral, mineral glory—and deliver classic Burgundy intensity without weight. While very few wines are truly full-bodied, many are densely packed and rich in extract. .” -Stephan Tanzer IWC

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Philippe Kubler’s Beautifully Pure Riesling and Pinot Blanc Showcase the Best of Alsatian Fruit and Minerality

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 Philippe Kubler’s simple,
no-fluff label.

 

Have you been thinking about pouring that first splash of Alsace into your glass? There is probably no better time to take the plunge than right now because of the very successful recent vintages that are available.

If you are already a fan, now is the time to stock the cellar.

Wine Spectator rates the 2008 vintage an A and goes on to call it,

“An excellent vintage across the board. All of the region’s grape varieties performed well, and the type of acidity being reported by growers should help Riesling in particular.”

I just can’t get enough of the Philippe Kubler wines. I have been drinking them all week and every bottle “seduces” me. That word comes from La Revue du Vin de France. They are beautiful, dry, white wines with pert acidity and floral notes, that are so much better than other Alsace wines I’ve had.

Robert Parker has praise for Kubler as well:

“After earning his oenology degree from Bordeaux, and a stage at Cloudy Bay, young Philippe Kubler – took over at his family’s domaine beginning with the 2004 vintage. Based on the several samples that reached me while in Alsace from his second harvest, this is a vigneron to watch.” -eRobert Parker.com

“Philippe Kubler is a young, idealistic, grower who will take risks to go for the utmost quality in his wines.” -La Revue du Vin de France

Let me tell you a little bit more about Philippe Kubler. Estates can be very old in Alsace. The Kublers have been making wine since 1620. Amazing! The Domaine is made up of only 9 hectares (about 22 acres).The age of the vines averages 30 years. They pick the grapes by hand. They age the wines in Alsatian oak foudres (big oak casks) for 8 to ten months.

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Couly Dutheil Baronnie Madeleine 2009: A Blend of the Two Best Vineyards in Chinon

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Baronnie Madeleine is a red Chinon cuvee from famous Domaine Couly Dutheil. It is made from Chinon’s two best vineyards (Clos de l’Echo & Clos d’Olive) and selected for bottling only in the great wine years (like 2009).

That’s a mouthful and so is Baronnie Madeleine. This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc, as are all finest reds of the Loire Valley. But this is an exceptional example of Chinon Cabernet Franc in an exceptional vintage.

How exceptional? The 2009 red vintage in Chinon is equaled by only 2005 and the legendary 1989 in the past 20 years. Certainly think about getting some 2009s and Baronnie Madeleine is without doubt one to stock up on.

Wine Spectator is a longtime fan of Couly Dutheil’s Baronnie Madeleine, and has awarded the wine a rating of 90 points or higher not just this year but for 5 of the most recent 7 vintages .

Here is what they said about the 2009:
“This fleshy, toasty style offers a core of dark plum and raspberry notes, laced with roasted apple wood and maduro tobacco. A nice, mouthwatering tapenade note adds length on the finish. Drink now through 2013. 5,000 cases made. Rated 90, -JM, Wine Spectator

The wine is complex with intense aromas with a seductively silky palate of ripe red fruits. It is round and charming, crafted with much thought to honor Madeleine Dutheil, daughter of Baptiste Dutheil who founded the estate in 1921. Madeleine Dutheil was the grandmother of the estate’s winemaker, Arnaud Couly.

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2008 Pinnacle Red Burgundy from Bernard Bouvier – Marsannay Clos du Roy

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 Marsannay Clos du Roy

I knew immediately when I tasted this wine that I wanted it in my cellar.

La Revue has called Bernard “one of the most talented winemakers of his generation.” He is one of the new generation of winemakers who has melded the best of the thinking of previous generations and huge respect for his vineyards with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.

When I tasted the 2008s in Cotes de Nuits Burgundies, I thought they were fabulous, particularly the wines of Bernard Bouvier. This is a wine with material! and complexity.

“”The most successful 2008s are sharply delineated, classic Burgundies with the complex fruit, mineral, floral and soil perfume and the inner-palate energy that other pinot- producing regions can only dream about-, IWC Steven Tanzer

And from Allen Meadows at Burghound ” The best ’08s are fresh, intense, bright, vibrant and very terroir- driven – in short it’s a classic Burgundian vintage. And as I noted in my vintage analysis last year, it is on the whole more interesting than either 2007 or 2006. And in a few cases, the wines are truly brilliant so don’t overlook them.” -Burghound

If you are after a great expression of the best of French Pinot Noir at a refreshingly sane price (and who isn’t these days?), you cannot ignore Bernard Bouvier.

Where is Marsannay? It is on the northernmost border of the northern Cotes de Nuits – just north of Gevrey-Chambertin. The Bouvier family has owned vineyards in the village of Marsannay at the northernmost border of the Cote d’Or for four generations.

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Domaine Lavigne Saumur Blanc 2010: A Crisp, White Chenin Blanc from the Center of the Loire Valley (in another wonderful vintage)

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 The Saumur Blanc presentation
from Domaine Lavigne.

Amazingly, mother nature has shown favorably upon the Loire Valley again in 2010, offering up yet another great vintage.

Wine Spectator writes “France’s Loire Valley…now looks to have rare back-to-back strong vintages in the pipeline. The 2010 harvest appears to be a potentially outstanding follow-up to the excellent 2009 vintage.”

I was in Saumur earlier this summer tasting the 2010 whites at Domaine Lavigne including this delicious Saumur Blanc. Everyone I spoke to in the Loire felt that while 2009 was a wonderful ripe vintage the 2010s had better acidity. In white wines acidity is what makes the difference and between refeshing and crisp and just Ok. It also magnifies the fruit. Acidity is a delicate thing to get just right but in 2010 that is what you get. A perfect refreshing white wine at a no-holding-back price.

Wine Spectator further specifies, “[2010] Wines should be fresher in style than the concentrated 2009s, with brighter acidity.” For Chenin Blancs specifically, they bestow a high rating of 89-92!

Now, as for the Domaine Lavigne Saumur Blanc, I am telling you this wine is charmant. It is made from the Chenin Blanc grape – like Vouvray. The wine seems to shimmer with a faint light. Crisp! It’s the acidity level more than anything else I think that makes it special. Nothing flabby squatting on my tongue. Its lithe and springy, bouncing around in my mouth with dashes of pears and grapefruits and lemons (Pascale would say peches blanches). I love it!

Domaine Lavigne is in the commune of Varrains which is between Angers and Tours in the Loire Valley. The Domaine is a family effort. Gilbert Lavigne and his daughter, Pascale, and son-in-law, Antoine Veron run the domaine. Their small production Chenin Blanc (they have only 5 hectares) is the object of a lot of family attention. It is a very special part of their family domaine. They have a palm tree right inside the walls of their domaine, which tells you something about the climate.

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Dom. Guintrandy CdRV-Visan Vieilles Vignes: 80-year-old vines (minuscule yields) in (another) spectacular vintage

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 The Domaine Guintrandy
Vieilles Vignes label
– 90 year old vines

The regular bottling off this high value Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan has been a huge success . Now I have received a very limited amount of Olivier’s very old vineyard cuvee that he bottles separately, Same care in the wine making but much lower yields, more profound flavors. Don’t miss the chance to experience what a difference old vine, lower yield production delivers in this 80 year old vine, 80% Grenache bottling.

Is it even possible that the southern Rhone has done it yet again? Wine Spectator rates the 2009 southern Rhone vintage a 93-96! “A cross between ’05 and ’07,” Wine Spectator raves, “with ripe fruit and polished tannins.”

Robert Parker agrees, bestowing a 93 on the southern Rhone vintage, and writing, “At the minimum, 2009 is an excellent vintage in the south.”

It looks like more great news from the southern Rhone. In fact, this is a drinker’s vintage: sumptuous, readily accessible fruit and soft tannins.

Of course, all wines from the same area are not created equal, even in a great vintage like 2009, and as La Revue du Vin de France wrote, “If you want to understand Visan, then Olivier Cuilleras is your man.”

The hierarchy of Rhone wines is as follows: while there are some lovely Cotes du Rhones, a Cotes du Rhones-Villages is decidedly a step above, and above that, there are nineteen communes authorized to append their respective village name on the label (as in this Cotes du Rhone Villages-Visan), which is an indication of their superiority.

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