Discussions have arose with some customers who love red Burgundy, but tend to prefer bottles on the younger side. While the tertiary notes that develop with age may speak to you, or not, it's undeniable some producers are known for the most glacial of aging. Ghislaine Barthod of Chambolle Musigny is at the top of that list.
Today, I'm very happy to offer a range from Barthod covering 1989 through 2016.
I vividly remember Becky Wasserman's 10-Year-On retrospective of the 2002 vintage held at her home in Burgundy in 2012. Elite domaine's top Premier and Grand Cru bottlings filled tables for the walk-around tasting. When all was said and done, it was the wines of Ghislaine Barthod that held a level of freshness and verve that was in a world of its own at this tasting of vintage past.
There's a piano string-like tension to these Chambolle-Musigny wines that, in many ways, illustrate the personality of the village the best. This high proportion of active limestone separates Chambolle from just about every village in the Côte d'Or, save for Volnay. Barthod's eye toward transparency and grace have always put these atop my personal Burgundy wish list.
I've slowly been amassing this collection from Barbaresco's most historic estate. There's no winery in Piedmont, or perhaps the world, which exemplifies the spirit of collective contribution quite like the Produttori del Barbaresco. While the single-vineyard Barbarescos garner much of the fame, the blended straight Barbaresco has proven to be one of the world's great values in cellar-worthy wine. Today's collection features wines as far back as 1964 through the current releases.
It was in 1894 when the headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba, Domizio Cavazza, created the cooperative by pulling together nine vineyard owners to bottle their wines in his castle. Before then, grapes had been sold off to Barolo producers or simply labeled as "Nebbiolo di Barbaresco". This Cantine Sociali was then closed in the 1930's due to the economic restrictions of fascism. In 1958, the priest of Barbaresco gathered together nineteen growers, knowing the only chance at prosperity was to form as one - the Produttori del Barbaresco was officially founded.
Today, 51 growers are the backbone of production covering nine great single-vineyard Barbarescos: Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajè, Montefico, Muncagota, and Rio Sordo. Truly reflecting this band of brothers, these prized Barbarescos will only be produced if each one meets the highest standards. Should only one vineyard not make the cut then there will be no single-vineyard wines produced that year.
The Langhe Nebbiolo is the entry-level wine of the Produttori, offering immediate accessibility. The straight Barbaresco is made each year comprised of grapes within the DOCG zone. For me, this is the benchmark bottling of the region, offering a value that consistently delivers well above its price point. In exceptional years, the nine single-vineyard Barbarescos will be produced. The rigorous standards today are as strong as ever.
Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier produces wines that, personally, can be best described asdesert island Pinot Noir. We're talking the short list. There are few producers in the world who summon the interest of collectors and the respect of their neighbors quite like Mugnier. When I moved to Burgundy in January 2012 it was Mugnier I visited first. I don't ever recall meeting a vigneron who so very much matched his or her wines. He was soft spoken, introspective, and authentic in the way you hoped your hero would be if you were lucky enough to meet them one day. This afternoon was pretty close to that.
Today, I'm very happy to offer a small collection from Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier.
The domaine lies in the heart of the village of Chambolle-Musigny, home to the most ethereal wines of Burgundy. Mugnier's gentle approach to winemaking is more synonymous with the village dubbed the Queen of Burgundy than any other producer.In fact, Mugnier only produces one Pinot Noir from outside, the Premier Cru Monopole Clos de la Maréchale in Nuits-Saint-Georges.
The easy way to tell the story is to say Mugnier applies that lifted style of his Chambolle wines to his Maréchale, hailing from a village better known for dark earth and muscular structure. Though this characterization has plenty of validity, it tends to sell short just how profound in its own right this monopole vineyard (one owner) from Nuits-Saints-Georges really is.
Maréchale lies at the southernmost end of N-S-G, coming from the Premeaux commune. For centuries the wines of Premeaux have been described as the most elegant of the larger N-S-G appellation. Within Maréchale there are portions of oolitic limestone and sandy soils that are wildly different from what's found throughout the village. This terroir plays as much a role in the elegance of the wine here as Mugnier's soft touch in the cellar.
* From the 1820's the walled in Clos de la Marechale vineyard appeared on maps, and in 1855 Jules Lavalle's publication classifying vineyards ranked Maréchale as "1ère Cuvée" - Lavalle said at this time the top wines of Premeaux were selling for the same price as Grand Cru Clos Vougeot bottlings.
Clos de la Maréchale always shows a stunning array of red fruits like pomegranate and wild strawberry, a tell-tale mocha note, and always finishes with a sappy, black cherry core. Mugnier de-stems 100%, during fermentation punching down of the cap is very gentle and done relatively infrequently, and new oak usage is minimal. The goal is to never over-extract too much tannin or color.
These wines are always on the more pale end of the spectrum, dominated as much by their notes of roses and violets as they are by fruit profile. This is the essence of perfumed Burgundy. When Pinot Noir was christened the heartbreak grape chances are strong it was Mugnier in the glass.
It's no secret that over the last decade Jean-Marie Fourrier has catapulted his family's domaine into elite status within Burgundy. Fourrier is the 5th generation to lead this 9-hectare Gevrey Chambertin estate, officially taking over for his father in 1994 after interning with the mythical Henri Jayer.
Today, I'm very happy to offer a deep range from Jean-Marie Fourrier.
The wines of Fourrier are most associated in my mind for their silken texture with ripe and vivid fruit. They also are lauded for their ability to drink great at all stages of development. But, above all, it's a sense of purity and site reflection that have put them atop the wishlist of every traditional Burgundy collector.
Jean-Marie is most noted for his strict reliance on using only old vines for domainebottlings - averaging 60 years according to my visit in November 2012. The maximum new oak employed is 20%, and like Jayer grapes here are overwhelmingly de-stemmed.
Much of the magic to the wines' purity has to be tied into Jean-Marie's practice of using very minimal amounts of sulphur, instead relying on dissolved CO2 to remain in the wine protecting against oxidation. Because of this it's recommended that younger bottles are double decanted to help "blow-off" any slight effervescence that might remain.
Below is a wide range of Fourrier's 2016's, as well as back-vintage gems through 1999. Jean-Marie has recently started a négociant project, but, with the exception of theBourgogne Rouge, 100% of the wines offered below are domaine, having been farmed by the Fourrier family for generations.
At first glance, our deep collection of Turley wines may seem like an outlier in our Old World-focused collection. The reason I go deep on these prized wines from America's oldest vineyards extends far beyond their historical significance. Turley personifies the best of American wines today, never shying away from ripeness if it's to the detriment of terroir expression. While the collection of Zinfandel and Petite Syrah has a hedonistic side, they are balanced, precisely detailed, and always supported by fresh acidity. Turley is simply the gold standard.
Today, I'm happy to offer a wide range of Turley's best, from their more recent Napa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon through their wide range of Zinfandels.Turley defines American viticulture today perhaps more completely than any estate. Working with over 50 vineyards they apply organic principles and rely only on native yeasts for fermentation. Head winemaker, Tegan Passalacqua (of Sandlands) is rightfully respected for his work in the cellar as much as for his encyclopedic knowledge of California's diversity of old vineyards throughout the state. While Zinfandel and Petite Syrah inherently push towards higher ripeness, their thoughtful approach with vines from Paso Robles to Napa Valley is to preserve acidity and manage tannins. If there's a hallmark for me here it's a lacy and polished texture endowed with incredible concentration. Each cuvée is crafted free of reliance on excessive new oak, additives, or manipulation in the cellar. These are ultimate wines of terroir, epitomizing the best of California's viticulture heritage.When serious BBQ is at hand, Turley's reds are among the first I reach for. Their vibrant, fruit-forward, and deeply nuanced traits lend themselves perfectly for the wide range of grilled meats and marinades. A bottle of 2001 Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah opened on Valentine's Day was a great reminder that these are wines for the record books, and the pure joy they give even after a decade in bottle is evidence of their greatness. California Old Vines Zinfandel is the first place to turn for introduction to the skill and brilliance from Turley. This special cuvée is a collection of vines up to 129-yrs-old from various organically-farmed vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lodi, Contra Costa, Amador and Paso Robles. At $49 per bottle, this is the benchmark for California Zinfandel. The Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised on 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, a rarity in these parts. Sourced from vines planted on the eastern portion of the Turley's home and winery in northern Saint Helena. Honest, estate-farmed Napa Valley Cabernet with a palatable price tag is hard to come by. This is the first place I turn.Mead Ranch is planted to Zinfandel at 1,600 ft. atop Atlas Peak on red volcanic soils in Napa Valley's east side. Vines were first planted here in 1880. A great example of how sun-soaked, west-facing vineyards in the valley can still retain great brightness and acidity.Hayne Vineyard was planted in 1953 on gravelly loam soils on the west side of Saint Helena. Head-trained vines have always been dry-farmed. If there is one stretch of Napa Valley that may be considered Grand Cru territory, this is it. Among California Petite Syrah vineyards, there is Hayne, and then there is everyone else.Kirschenmann is located in Lodi's Mokelumne River AVA and owned by winemakerTegan Passalacqua. These vines were planted in 1915 on silica-rich sandy soils. The real excitement about this newer site for both Turley and Sandlands is the magic of these old vines coming from a special pocket of Lodi that sees great moderation of heat from the cool waters of the river and delta breezes. "I tasted a mind-bending range of superb wines during my most recent visit to Turley. If I had to make a list of my 2017 highlights, this tasting would surely rank at or near the top. The 2016's are aromatically deep, bright, and super-expressive with regards to site...Prices remain exceedingly fair given the quality of what is in the bottle."
- Antonio Galloni of Vinous (03/18)