• Baby Margaux for the Ages:  2015 Chateau Moulin de Tricot Haut-Médoc

    Baby Margaux for the Ages: 2015 Chateau Moulin de Tricot Haut-Médoc

    Chateau Moulin de Tricot is the first place my mind goes when I think of Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant Bordeaux that has stuck to tradition and continues to offer sharp pricing. The Margaux estate personifies all of the grace and regal structure the commune has been associated with for centuries. From their small 5 hectares a second label, the Haut-Médoc, takes their strength in authenticity and value to the extreme.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 Chateau Moulin de Tricot Haut-Médoc for $35 per bottle, with special pricing down to $32/btl on 4 or more.


    At this price point there is no left bank Bordeaux I drink with more regularity or enthusiasm - Baby Margaux with Bourgogne Rouge pricing. And like those warm, even growing seasons in Burgundy where I highly recommend the most moderately priced wines, here too in 2015 I say going deep will reward many years of enjoyment.

    I love Bordeaux. And particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant examples regularly found on the left bank. The gravel here is suited to the variety, just as on the right bank of the Gironde the clay soils fit better with Merlot. The sad state of affairs is that Merlot plantings in these left bank gravel vineyards has been increasing steadily over decades in order to provide more soft-fruited wines that capitulate to a global palate.

    Chateau Moulin de Tricot has stuck with tradition and is a rarity in Margaux as they still have 75% of their vineyards planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. They also have unusually dense vine spacing with 9,500 vines per hectare, providing naturally concentrated yields. The Haut-Médoc is aged in small one-year-old Bordeaux barrels, giving the oxygen exchange needed to soften structure while limiting any ostentatious oak flavors.

    I've always had an aha moment each time I've tasted the Haut-Médoc bottling from Moulin de Tricot, but 2015 was something different. The vintage has simply elevated each component of this wine. Margaux has often been called the "Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove", explaining the balance between grace and dead-serious regal structure.

    In this exceptional Bordeaux vintage this moniker is even more suited to their Baby Margaux. The dark fruit intensity, graphite and cigar box notes, and long finish is something extra-ordinary. Very special pricing has been included to make this the easiest call as we lead into Thanksgiving.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Anjou's Salted Cotton Candy:  Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Loire

    Anjou's Salted Cotton Candy: Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Loire

    If Thibaud Boudignon's Chenin Blancs are the lightning of Anjou, then his rosé of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau brings the thunder. But, this rosé's stainless steel elévage still caries that hallmark Boudignon verve that I crave And, the unusual melding of a cotton candy element with a healthy dose of sea salt make this 2018's most irresistible pink. With annual highs in San Diego often coming well into September, I thought today a great time to offer some discounting on this house rosé of mine.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Loire for $28 per bottle, with special pricing down to $24.99 on 4 bottles or more!

    Thibaud's is the prime example of how Cabernet Franc-based rosés of the Loire Valley can be true to the variety with dark fruit notes, but also find their footing thanks to crunchy, electric tones from a sense of minerality that I often find elusive for the category in these parts. The direct pressing of the grapes keeps this rosé ultra pale, making it as easy and enjoyable to drink as any pink. Provence sees the spotlight when rosé season begins, but no region in France delivers cool-fruit refreshment quite like the Loire can. 

    A June 2016 visit at his centuries old cellar just outside of Savennières impressed a lot upon me. No producer in the central Loire has shaken things up quite like Boudignon, as he's shifted the conversation on everything from aging vessels, to picking dates, to fermentation philosophy. In short, his rosé and Chenin Blancs re-define Anjou.


    Rosé de Loire - 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Grolleau from 37-yr-old vines on shallow grey schist, volcanic rhyolite, and sand. Native yeast fermented and aged in stainless steel. 

    Anjou Blanc - from 35-yr-old vines on shallow grey schist and sand. Aged in sized oak, 30% of which is new.

    Anjou Blanc "A François(e)" - a special selection of the Anjou parcels named for his late mother, Francoise.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Bordeaux First in Class:  2016 Chateau Le Puy

    Bordeaux First in Class: 2016 Chateau Le Puy "Emilien"

    Although Bordeaux has been structuring their famous growth wines to offer more of a forward, approachable style than ever before, the truth is they are still in need of significant bottle age when they hit the market. Chateau Le Puy approaches their vineyard work with the same level of fastidious care as the first growth estates, but handles their work in the cellar very differently. Upon release, these are the wines that offer serious pleasure with no fear of infanticide.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Chateau Le Puy "Emilien" Côtes de Bordeaux for $54 per bottle, and down to $48.50 for 6 bottles or more. 

    Chateau Le Puy diverges from so many norms in Bordeaux. Aside from organic and biodynamic work in the vines, their fermentation method and élevage is very uncommon. Le Puy is able to provide soft texture with bright, open-knit fruit out of the gate thanks to their protocol during fermentation. Infusion and semi-carbonic methods limit the extraction of hard tannins and retain the more primary fruit traits. And, aging in large foudre preserves all of the verve that carries those qualities into bottle. However, we are very much still in Bordeaux with tell-tale cigar box, graphite, and damp earth notes in abundance.

    Unfortunately, the secret is out on this Bordeaux estate that exemplifies the rare farm-first mentality of the region. The 
    New York Times' Eric Asimov's excellent piece shined the spotlight on this chateau which, in one sip, makes abundantly clear it's the real McCoy.

    In college, it was a Médoc that ended up being my epiphany red wine moment. In just one sniff my growing fascination in wine shifted from California to France. Truth be told, when an unfamiliar Bordeaux is poured for me it brings the most hopeful sense of anticipation. Regrettably, those thrilling experiences via Bordeaux don't appear often. The point-chasing, over-extracted, and ripe-beyond-recognition style set in motion in the mid-80's has changed the region for the worse. Yet, terroir-driven producers do still exist. 

    It's no surprise the greatest of all the recent Bordeaux discoveries has come from importer, Neal Rosenthal. With names like Fourrier, Carillon, and Paolo Bea under his belt I'm always excited to taste new arrivals. When introduced to the new Bordeaux in the lineup I was transported to a time long ago. 

    Chateau Le Puy is in its 14th generation of management by the Amoreau family. Situated in between Pomerol and Saint Emilion on the 2nd highest point along the Gironde estuary, this is home to the Bordeaux that's rooted in sensibilities more commonly found in Burgundy. The finesse, dead-serious-focus, and downright drinkability of Le Puy is worlds apart from the stylistic norm. It embodies that sense of place that so few do today, while not shortchanging on the regal qualities that are rightfully associated with Bordeaux.

    “It’s the best Burgundy wine from Bordeaux”, proclaims the head of production, Steven Hewison. The son-in-law of the estate's owner is referring to the precision and ease of drinking that calls to mind the farm-first mentality of its sibling to the east. 

    Since 1610 these vines have been farmed free of chemicals, and today full biodynamic practices are employed, with work being done by horse. The soil is an amalgamation of red clay, silex, and limestone. Plantings are 85% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, and small percentages of Malbec and Carménère. 

    Emilien is the main wine of the chateau. Initially aged in 5,000-liter foudres (many over 115-years-old), and then into neutral 228-liter Bordeaux barrels. In personality, it shows silken tannins and elegance that neighboring Pomerol is so revered for.

    Duc des Nauves sits at the lowest elevation on the property on a sandy limestone parcel. The wine is fermented and aged exclusively in cement. To see the best value available in Bordeaux today ($24) I cannot think of a better place to turn first.

    Bartélemy comes from a single parcel of old vines known as "Les Rocs" planted on deep limestone. This is the most age-worthy wine of the estate. Élevage is in 228-liter barrels, of which less than 10% are new. The structure, saturating texture, and persistence of Bartélemy rivals those under the region's two famous classifications of 1855 and 1955.

    Rose-Marie is a rosé in the style of Chateau Simone, offering transformative, age-worthy qualities that few rosés do. Produced by the "saignée" method where juice from red wine vats is "bled off". Fermented and aged in neutral oak barrels, bottled without filtration or the addition of sulfur. 30 cases were imported to the US.

    Le Puy takes me back to a different era of Bordeaux, one where a sense of authenticity and traditionalism reverberate through the wines. With a lineup covering four distinct cuvées this is the prime chateau to reacquaint yourself with the region.

    Vinous captured the excitement of the 2016's here, 

    "The 2016s are absolutely remarkable wines. The word that comes to mind, unfortunately so often overused, is balance. In technical terms, the 2016s boast off the charts tannins that in many cases exceed those of wines from massive vintages such as 2010. And yet, the best 2016s are absolutely harmonious, with the tannins barely perceptible at all. The 2016s also have tremendous energy and bright, acid-driven profiles, with many wines playing more in the red-fruit area of the flavor spectrum. One of the results of the unusual growing season is that alcohols range from 0.5% to 1% lower than what has been the norm in recent years."
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Saumur's Royal Torch:  Domaine du Collier Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc

    Saumur's Royal Torch: Domaine du Collier Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc

    In Saumur, Antoine Foucault, son of the late Charly Foucault, had seen the reputation and pricing of his father's Clos Rougeard wines soar across the globe like no other domaine in France. Today, little is known of Foucault's own domaine he founded in 1999. The Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc produced from the best limestone slopes in Saumur brings the unrivaled elegance of Clos Rougeard, with a singular potency that will guide this address into cult territory. We laugh when we hear of times past where Clos Rougeard sat on shelves for under $60, and here I expect the same to follow suit.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the Saumur wines of Antoine Foucault's Domaine du Collier.

    Visiting with Antoine in 2016 was a dramatic moment, there's no other way to describe the experience. For starters, descending into the cellar was akin to the fantastical space imagined for Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom. The cavern was close to 100% humidity, with walls of bedrock wet to the touch and stalactites at every turn. The shadowed figure of Foucault returning into faint light with a thief of wine from each new barrel further imprinted the mystique.

    Like his father, Antoine's greatest joy is working among the vines. Witnessing the meteoric rise of popularity of Clos Rougeard throughout his life has left him surprisingly humble, showing no interest in the limelight or travel. He speaks matter of fact, and his sensible philosophy on organic and biodynamic viticulture is ultimately defined by rigorous hands-on work in each parcel.

    There's a powerful concentration to Antoine's wines that differ from his father's, yet they're still built upon that familiar grace and seamless pleasure found in their texture. (Antoine vinified the 2016 vintage at Clos Rougeard upon his father's untimely passing). The real distinction on the protocol for Collier's wines is their unusually long aging, many times over two years in wood. Once fermentation is concluded the wines are gravity-fed into barrel and remain completely untouched, with zero sulphur additions.

    There's a large proportion of new wood used at Collier, but never have I tasted at a domaine where this level of oak was so imperceptible and pushed into the background of the wine. The wood absorbs much of the firm structure in these wines, softening the contours and bringing an added layer of refinement. 

    Saumur Blanc is 100% Chenin Blanc primarily sourced from vines aged 25-75 years in the Ripaille site. 

    Saumur Rouge La Ripaille is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from a single vineyard of vines ranging between 30-60 years old.

    Saumur Blanc Charpentrie comes from 100-yr-old vines in this single vineyard.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • 2014 Château de Brézé:  Saumur Soaring

    2014 Château de Brézé: Saumur Soaring

    A May 2016 visit to the Loire Valley brought a wide array of discoveries, but the visit that left the most indelible mark was with Arnaud Lambert at Château de Brézé in Saumur. I had been familiar with their 2012 vintage, however what we tasted from the 2014's really drove home the point that this estate is now a top benchmark of Saumur.

    The 2014 was one where Saumur strived and where Chenin Blanc from an estate dating back to the 1400's was executed brilliantly. The 2014's from Lambert are among the most thrilling white wines produced anywhere in France, but now the cat is out of the bag.

    Arnaud Lambert resurrected the Château de Brézé of Saumur, a domaine praised for their Chenin Blanc wines as far back as the 15th century where they were served at royal courts throughout Europe. Regularly the Chateau would exchange their wines with those of the revered Château d'Yquem of Bordeaux - And today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    As times passed and industrialism gave way to quick fixes in the vineyards (herbicides, pesticides) to ensure high yields and minimize the need for hand work the Chateau de Brézé lost something. Recruited in 2009, Lambert has spent the last nine years finding the magic by going back to the roots. Lambert immediately converted to organic farming, drastically reduced yields, and has started to incorporate biodynamic principals. 

    Saumur's high concentration of tuffeau limestone, and its active calcium content, has long delivered wines of striking purity and elegance. Winemaking styles here lead most producers to block malolactic fermentation, which help Chenin Blanc preserve its bright, linear, and more crystalline traits. The top whites here see some new French oak, but the flavor is nearly imperceptible, as fruit from these sites absorbs any woody quality that may otherwise stand out. 

    While most wines in the appellation showcase fresh orchard fruit notes, those of Chateau Brézé have a deep textural element and persistent finish that strikingly stand out from their neighbors. The poached pear and quince notes are met with brown spices, orange zest, and chalky minerality.

    Today offered are the two top wines of the estate, both evoking the glory of what once graced the tables of kings and queens throughout the continent.

    Clos David is sourced from a parcel of pure sand and gravelly limestone. A cool site that never develops botrytis, and sand gives an elegance to this wine that stands out.

    Clos de la Rue is the top wine of the domaine. From the warmest vineyard on the hill of Brézé, and protected from the gusts of wind that regularly zip throughout vine rows. Sandy limestone at the top of the hill, with clay underneath gives richness, power, and deep texture.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen