• 2016 Hubert Lignier:  Côte de Nuits' Long-Distance Runner

    2016 Hubert Lignier: Côte de Nuits' Long-Distance Runner

    Huber Lignier is best known for his iconic Grand Cru, Clos de la Roche, as well as for his extended macerations and long barrel aging. Today, I'm happy to offer a range of Lignier from 2011 through 2016. The concentration and intensity of the 2016 vintage particularly suits the domaine's winemaking protocol and sets up this stable to again reflect the long-distance runner that has enamored collectors for forty years.

    Lignier has been imported by Neal Rosenthal (Barthod, Fourrier, Jacques Carillon) since the 1978 vintage, marking one of Neal's earliest and greatest successes. The style of the domaine has always been one that emphasized structure and a distinct terroir-driven soil expression. Located in Morey Saint Denis, Lignier's wines all display that gorgeous rusted earth, black cherry, and hoisin note that the village is often associated.

    2016 follows the dark-fruited and robust 2015 vintage. At first, 2016 appeared to be considerably brighter, but as the wines evolved in barrel they gained a darker profile and richness. They still show a more lifted style as compared to 2015, but in the end these are also going to be wines with very long aging potential. They are deeply complex, arguably a bit more site-specific in profile than the 2015's. They are terrific, but surely the Grand Crus will begin to enter their peak drinking window likely at age 15, and perhaps at age 10 for the Premier Crus.

    Each cuvée is unique from the next, and modest levels of new oak keep the focus squarely on site.  20-30% new wood for 
    Villages and Premiers, 50% for the Grand Crus. All grapes are destemmed, receive a 5-day cold soak, and then a relatively long fermentation of 15-20 days. The Villages wines are raised in barrel for 18 months, with Premier and Grand Crus receiving a 24-month elévage.

    Coming up short on finding back-vintages of Hubert Lignier has always been a thorn in my side. Rarely do collectors part with these aged gems, as the reward with years in bottle is too significant to part with. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Vouvray's Gold Standard:  Domaine Huet

    Vouvray's Gold Standard: Domaine Huet

    If there was to be only one gold standard for Chenin Blanc it would be Huet. Loire Valley's village of Vouvray has been home to the domaine since its first of three famous vineyards, Le Haut-Lieu, was purchased in 1928.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 great trio release of dry (Sec) wines from Huet, as well as their benchmark Loire sparkling wine, the 2013 Pétillant.


    Huet's brilliance lies in running the entire range from dry sparkling (the Pétillantfeatured below) all the way through the sweetest (Moelleux, also featured below). As an appellation, Vouvray traces production back to the 9th century, but it wasn't until Victor Huët relocated here from Paris that he began the domaine. Victor's son Gaston took over in 1937, and after spending five years in a German POW camp he returned home and purchased the next duo of vineyards, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. Today, thisGrand Cru level trio of bottlings are revered for their expressive site specificity, as well as their transformative prowess. 

    Le Haut-Lieu's deep limestone and clay make this the richest, most plush, and approachable of the range.

    Le Mont has far less clay, and the wines are the most mineral-driven and racy of the trio.

    Clos du Bourg has the most shallow and rockiest soils, but its signature is actually a middle ground: The mineral component of Le Mont with the more sensual, flashy texture of Le Haut-Lieu.

    Upon release, the young, dry 2017 Huet Vouvray Sec wines offer upfront notes of white peach, pineapple, and chalky minerality. But with age, notes of white flowers and honeycomb emerge and fall into place in a beautifully seamless way that's simply vintage Huet. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • The Diamond of Le Mesnil:  Champagne Pierre Péters:

    The Diamond of Le Mesnil: Champagne Pierre Péters:

    The Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger is the source of the most quintessential chalky and dead-serious blanc de blancs champagnes of all. Here, the name Pierre Péters exists in rare company with the likes of Jacques Selosse, Krug and Salon. Chardonnay excels in Mesnil's porous, chalky slopes and there's no producer that covers the entire range like Pierre Péters.

    Today, I'm happy offer a wide collection from Champagne Pierre Péters, starting of course, with the flagship Cuvée Réserve with special pricing.


    The non-vintage Cuvée Réserve, 100% Chardonnay sourced entirely from grand cru villages, is the reference point for the Côtes de Blancs. Sourced from 63 parcels and supplemented by the perpetual reserve.

    While the story behind Pierre Péters warrants significant time, I'd like to start with some technical information gleaned during my visit that really helped me understand exactly why the wines are as focused and profound as they are.

    - Mesnil's unique broken chalky soil allows vines to easily travel deep, picking up nutrients and mineral expressions from this bedrock, in turn, supplying the wines with that chalk-inflected and unmistakable saline note that stands apart from even the neighboring villages in the Côte de Blancs. If Mesnil is winter, then Avize is summer, Crammant fall, and Oger spring. 

    - Stainless steel is used for the aging here (with the exception of reserve wines, we will get to that later). The use of oak in Mesnil is believed to bring a nutty character that may work well in many other villages, but here it becomes far too pronounced and detracts from the taut and straight-line focus that is its calling card. In short, stainless steel provides a balance that is ideal for Mesnil Chardonnay.

    - There's a maximum of 3 hours between harvesting a cluster to the time it is pressed. In the world of white winemaking this is as rapid as it gets. The idea is that degradation of Chardonnay will begin, even in the most faint respects, after this 3 hour period has passed. The extremely rare luxury of two pneumatic presses allows for pressing on an ideal, un-rushed schedule.

    - There's a noble bitterness and citrus pith note to the fruit here matched with the salinity that's the foundation for the house style. Ultimately, in my estimation, the most crystalline reflection of chalky terroir. With age (yes, the NV warrants cellaring too) the nutty and slightest of caramel notes can arise. If I had to choose one village to visit in bottle after decades, it would be Mesnil for this wild combo.

    - An average of 65% of this Chardonnay completes malolactic fermentation. In cooler years, this percentage can rise to 80%. Fuller the malo, more creamy the texture. In ripe years such as 2003 and 2009 the partial blocking of malo maintains the tension of structure that otherwise would become too flabby.

    - The perpetual blend (source of reserve wine) was started in 1997 and contains wine from: 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996. Vintages like 1999 and 2003 were excluded, for instance, because they brought a hefty weight that was not ideal.

    - Before 1997, instead of using a perpetual blend, Rodolphe's father chose single vintage reserve tanks to pull from to supplement the NV.  

    - Today, the perpetual reserve is kept in a combination of three formats:Stockinger foudre (wood) 18%, concrete 38%, and steel 44%. The foudre brings fine tannins and faint nutty development. The concrete brings out the chalky character, while paradoxically keeping the lees settled. The steel brings the bright citrus and fresh fruit qualities.


    - The L'Esprit is sourced from 4 parcels contained in Grand Cru village: Mesnil, Cramant, and Avize. (ALL LARGE FORMAT NV RESERVE IS ACTUALLY 100% L'ESPRIT)

    - Oubliée Reserve taps the three best reserve vessels (foudre, concrete, steel) and then spends two years in steel tank. 

    - L'Etonnant Monsieur Victor is a newer bottling that taps the best tank of Les Chétillons, the best Reserve wine, and the Oubilée.

    The transition from grower to grower-producer is never a seamless one. Pierre Péters historically sold all grapes to large champagne houses until 1919 when Camille Péters chose to bottle his first wine. Camille's son Pierre, only 12 years old, took an interest in the newly formed estate, showing wines at exhibitions in Paris. Upon Camille's passing, Pierre took control of production in 1944 at the age of 24. It was under his tenure that new vineyards were acquired, attention to detail grew, and the estate Pierre Péters rose in stature.


    Of Pierre's two sons, Jacques went on to become Chef de Cave at Clicquot and François chose to stay at the domaine. The choice by François was not necessarily an easy one, as at this time the larger houses like Clicquot cast a large shadow on the more emerging grower-producer movement. Pierre saw fame and accolades while François continued to fight the good fight, honing in on improving his vineyards and working closely with his contemporaries. François was a founding member of the Special Club.

    François's eldest son, Rodolphe began to focus on wine after initially studying marine biology. A close friend convinced him of the spectacularly rare gift that awaited him at home. Rodolphe earned an Oenology degree and an MBA before working in various aspects of the wine trade. He joined his father in 2000, and in 2008 he took control of production. 

    Over the last decade Rodolphe has taken the Pierre Péters to even greater heights. The estate now covers 18 hectares primarily in Le Mesnil (45 of 63 parcels), as well as vines in grand crus, Cramant and Avize. 

    In 4000 Champagnes, Richard Juhlin sums up the estate well:

    "Pierre Péters is a hidden treasure of Champagne . . . and the prices are laughable considering the quality of the wines.”
    Posted by Alexander Rosen