Archive | Burgundy RSS feed for this section

Desert Island Whites

3 Jul

Is there a red wine you’d drink with breakfast? Perhaps not. But if I were on a desert island and had to choose one wine, I might choose one of these three. They’d certainly be on my list (along with a couple of impossibly expensive choices, including several Montrachets, Cheval Blanc, and one Prüm- most of which I can’t afford) and most importantly, would pair beautifully with island food- fruit, shellfish, seafood, white meat, salad. Right? Easy to enjoy, day or night!

Best of all, these are easy to share with your friends. You’ve already seen the “dark horse” wines I served at a recent neighborhood wine tasting. Now I get to share the three “heavy hitter” wines I served as the culmination to that evening’s selection of white wines. Scroll below the picture for more info:



Paul Pillot Bourgogne Aligoté  2010. Approx $16.


DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2011. Approx $50 


Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2012. Approx $65.

I’m not providing my personal tasting notes for these wines because in writing them, I quickly got sidetracked with my personal relationship with each wine. Away they went!  So instead, I’ll explain why they are worth celebrating:  

Each of these wines is beautifully made and expresses the winemaker’s skill, the perfection of the grape, as well as terroir with minimal outer influence. Each also demonstrates precise fruit, driven minerality, clean acidity, and expansive depth. They are amazing alone and absolutely stunning with a proper food pairing. The great beauty of serving these wines at a tasting is watching as a person tastes the wine for the first time, comes back to the well a second and third time, finding new notes as the wine opens and expands, evoking additional flavors and expressions. Tasting these wines is wonderful, watching the taster’s face and excitement during the process is also wonderfully addictive and exciting!

While not necessarily “showy” wines, they are instead, massive crowd-pleasers. It was a joy to share these with others and to see them experience such well-made wines after such a long tasting, but the effects were not lost on the group. Everyone found at least one of these three they loved and truly appreciated, and that makes a wine tasting all the sweeter.

What would YOUR desert island wine be?

à votre santé!

Thanksgiving Wine, 2013. “One Wine to Serve Them All”

23 Nov

Here’s my 2013 update on Wine for Thanksgiving. And may you be surrounded by loved ones and take time to enjoy and slow down, if only for the one day!

For the past few years I’ve written about my Thanksgiving preference to serve several wines at Thanksgiving, in order to suit both a range of courses over a long meal as well as to cater to different preferences of individuals in large groups. (*See my footnote below if you need a reminder.) Well I’m NOT talking about those today. Let’s talk about a SINGLE bottle of wine for Thanksgiving… not because it’s what I’ll serve, but because it’s what I’m constantly asked about at this time of year.

People regularly ask me to suggest ONE wine to pair with the traditional Thanksgiving meal that all their guests will enjoy. Others want a bottle to bring as a gift to someone else’s home that might or might not be served with the meal, so it should be appropriate for use on Thanksgiving or by the host at a later date.

A Thanksgiving Gift Wine, or One Wine for the Big Meal

If you are OK with red grapes, then you have to make a choice: Rosé or Gamay?
Option One: Rosé
. Relax: this is not the lousy rosé we grew up with that made so many wine lovers turn up their nose at the faintest idea of a pink wine. We shall only consider the well-made rosé wines that will pair beautifully with opening courses, make the cranberry sauce sing, and take your turkey to a higher level. My favorites here would be Modus Operandi’s Vicarious Rosé from California, or from Provence France’s Domaines Ott, Chateau de Selle Rosé. Both of these should have a street price in the $30-$40 range, and are highly worth the price for the religious experience they deliver. For the under-$20 crowd, there are very good rosé wines from Guigal,and locally from  Coppola (a 90 pointer called Sofia), and a good dozen other producers that you can find in most wine stores. Key phrase here is “what is the best rosé you carry that will pair well for the entire meal”? Last year I served the Vicarious Rosé during the soup course and had several guests drink it through to dessert, enjoying it thoroughly the entire evening.

Option Two: Beaujolais Nouveau,  the gamay grape’s fruity, light, fall season ‘fun’ wine. This is my other best option for a wine that can match with the entire meal. George DuBoeuf has the corner on the market, his nouveau wines will run you around $10-12 and are consistent, tasty and good. You can go up the ladder, however, with Domaine du Peuble’s 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau in the $12-16 range, or Jean Foillard Morgon Beaujolais, which runs in the mid $20’s. To give you an idea of the quality of this wine, famed chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurant in Beverly Hills is serving this with their prix fixe this week. For a few bucks more you can get a big jump in quality, but beaujolais nouveau is always fun to open and a good conversation piece.What could be easier for people who panic and don’t know what wine to bring? Here is your answer: Beaujolais Nouveau.

And for those readers who just don’t do red wine… I haven’t forgotten you. (Yes, Virginia, that rosé is made from red grapes.) For you, I’d suggest you consider whether you prefer either the serious white or a “lighter” white for your gift or single meal wine. In the serious realm, a white Bourdeaux Blend is always appreciated and appropriate for Thanksgiving and any time of year, or a white Burgundy will pair beautifully with this savory meal. You can find white bordeaux blends starting around $10 and up, and Burgundies about $16 and up, into the thousands per bottle… and if you can afford these upper tier wines, please invite yourself to my home for dinner!  Shifting to the lighter side, I often start by suggesting Riesling, and I’ll take that a step further: consider Riesling, Kerner, Gerwürztraminer, or Grüner, many of which have a hint of sweetness on the nose and initial early palate but offer depth in their acidity and minerality,  and often can be found in the $12-25 range. There are countless offerings both Stateside and abroad, but the masters of these grapes are from Germany, Austria, and Alto Adige region of Italy.

Happy Holidays to you! 

à votre santé!

*The four wines are I usually serve are: 1) a fun white, 2) a serious white, 3) a delicate red, and 4) a bold red.

Saint-Romain, Alain Gras 2011

26 Sep

Saint-Romain by Alain Gras, 2011.

13%ABV, $38 at Oak and Steel, NYC.

This wine is from Alain Gras, whose vineyard is in Saint-Romain-Le Haut, just southwest of Meursault. This wine is everything you would want in a classic white burgundy that features depth and structure of fruit, earth and acidity at a reasonable price.

Medium straw in color, the fruity nose has a touch of citrus. The palate is crisp young green fruit featuring lemon on the back palate with notes of toasted almond, dried wood, chalk and limestone rounding out this delicious wine. After the initial response in the mouth and after mixing with air, I experienced a floral mix with the citrus and toasted oak across the top palate with a rich, long finish. If I had to guess I would bet these are old vines- twenty-five to thirty years old.

This can be found online for as little at $28/bottle, and I know I’ll be looking for more. This is a perfect wine to pair with delicate foods or share with other with lovers with discerning taste, also a great gift bottle. This delicate wine has power and depth I’ve not found in the under $60/bottle range before. If you love white burgundy, you owe yourself to try an Alain Gras so that you know what is growing just west of Puligny-Montrachet for 1/10th of the price.


à votre santé!

A White Burgundy: Devastatingly Good, Right Now.

19 Aug

René Lequin-Colin Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008

…purchased from Sherry-Lehmann (but for more than the current sale price) of $11.99.

The color is golden straw. The nose is crisp green apple with wildflowers and new oak. The mouthfeel is a crisp, citrus-laden quaff with gentle green fruit sliding behind a long finish that features marzipan, gravel, limestone, and fresh wood. The overall response at this age is medium to fuller body, some tang in the initial mouthfeel and on the finish. A lovely, refined, mature chardonnay, this is capable of being adored by itself but the true power is with a good pairing.

It took many years developing a love for white bordeaux before I could fall in love with white burgundy. I blame Chef Eric Ripert and Sommelier Aldo Sohm, whose pairings are unequivocally perfect. Pairings at Le Bernadin taught me that the secondary notes of white wines- that the delicate minerality, or the buttery oakiness  in the finish, would affect the entire sensory experience as a diner and guest. I hope all wine lovers have these revelations with wine. But I digress.

This wine is a great example of an incredible value right now. This 2008 is still drinking beautifully, but it’s approaching the end of that window. It’s on closeout at Sherry-Lehmann, and I’m trying to decide if I buy a few extra bottles or a case. Either way, I’m telling you about it first. Other wines from the same producer retail from $30-$140/bottle, and if you have the ability to buy a case of the Lequin-Colin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009, by all means, BUY IT! For the rest of us, at $12/bottle, this is a great value right now in delicious white burgundy. The wine won’t continue to drink as well, and the prices won’t stay as it sells out from inventory. I’d not hesitate to enjoy this nightly until the end of summer.

Lequin-Colin '08

à votre santé!

%d bloggers like this: