• Thunder Mountain Strikes: 2019 Louis Michel Chablis

    Thunder Mountain Strikes: 2019 Louis Michel Chablis

    Sitting with friends at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe with a platter of oysters is one of life's great pleasures. Zuni's wine list is one of the best in the city, and it's always a challenge to be decisive before the oysters arrive. However, a friend wasted no time choosing the perfect pairing of stainless steel Chablis: Louis Michel's famous Premier Cru, Montée de Tonnerre, or "Thunder Mountain," as it translates.

    As the name might suggest, Montée de Tonnerre isn't your typical Premier Cru, and even more so in the proper hands. The southwest-facing slope sits next to the seven Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis along the right bank of the Serein river. The old vines here add a sense of grandeur, as the wine picks up flesh and deeper color with time.

    Louis Michel was an innovator in the 1960s that moved away from barrel aging Chardonnay. Chablis's Kimmeridgian limestone soil was so unique that stainless steel was the ideal vessel to unmask its terroir. This domaine has always been synonymous with value, and Montée de Tonnerre is unquestionably a gem.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Invigorating Vertus: Champagne Larmandier-Bernier

    Invigorating Vertus: Champagne Larmandier-Bernier

    Perhaps no grower-producer in the Blanc de Blancs Champagne category nails the non-dosage form better than Larmandier-Bernier of Vertus. Ripe, forward fruit and full malolactic fermentation in oak help carry off this tight-rope balancing act. Larmandier-Bernier's early adoption of biodynamic viticulture has put these prime parcels in a position to turn out the very best, razor-precise examples of Chardonnay.

    Terre de Vertus is a special selection of Larmandier-Bernier's top two mid-slope vineyards, Les Barilles and Les Faucherets. Aging four years on the lees also helps soften this cuvée's contours and allows its pulverized rock core to come through with beautiful harmony and balance. Larmandier-Bernier's cellar approach adds buffering texture and breadth to these inherently mineral-infused, laser-focused Champagnes.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • White Burgundy Classic: 2019 Boisson

    White Burgundy Classic: 2019 Boisson

    Bernard, Anne, and Pierre Boisson are the best-kept secret in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune. Mainly enjoyed by a dedicated following in France, the wines exported to the US often end up on the wine lists at restaurants, such as The French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park. Weekly hang-out sessions with Bernard while studying at the University of Dijon in early 2012 put these wines on my radar.

    The family's friendship with Domaine Coche-Dury most definitely impacts the style here, having that magical touch of reduction that many try to emulate, with few finding similar success. Here, it's executed brilliantly, offering a flinty and saturating mineral quality matched with deep texture, concentration, and length. Much like Coche-Dury, the Boisson Bourgogne Blancs transcend the humble designation, all coming from vines located within Meursault.

    The Meursault cuvées are where this domaine reaches its pinnacle. However, a dark horse in the lineup may be the En Reugne Blanc. Auxey Duresses has been dubbed "Baby Meursault" before, but this top bottling outperforms much of what's found in Meursault. Also, Anne's Aligoté offers a transformative experience that elicits Leroy and Coche at a serious fraction of the price.

    Now that Bernard has retired, this release marks the third vintage exclusively labeled under Anne and Pierre. They work in the same cellar "separately though cooperatively," Bernard told William Kelley on his most recent visit, "and vinify in their own way." In general, new oak is limited to 30% maximum, with Bourgogne-level wines at 5% to 10%. The wines then see long aging with no battonage, and their family-farmed land has been free of pesticides and herbicides for generations.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Saint-Aubin Encore: 2019 Joseph Colin

    Saint-Aubin Encore: 2019 Joseph Colin

    "Joseph Colin—who left Domaine Marc Colin to start a domaine of his own in 2016—is going from strength to strength and is justly delighted with his 2019 portfolio." — William Kelley, Wine Advocate

    While Pierre-Yves was the first to go out on his own from the Colin family, his younger brother, Joseph, proved with his 2017 inaugural release that he's also the real deal. So how does Joseph's style differ from that of his older brother? They generally have less of a reductive element, and the new oak is a bit more (still just 25% nearly across the board). The fruit profile has a touch more flesh and forward personality but shares the hallmark salinity and verve found in Pierre-Yves' wines. Stylistically, the brothers share much more in common than their father, Marc Colin, whose wines have a stronger imprint of new oak and softer, glossier texture. Starting in 1993, Joseph began working full-time at his family's domain at the age of 19. The brothers spent ten years working alongside their father until Pierre-Yves left to start his own domaine in 2003. Joseph has been at the helm of Domaine Marc Colin ever since and, in 2017, took six hectares of the family's holdings for himself.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Patagonia Prodigy: 2020 Bodega Chacra

    Patagonia Prodigy: 2020 Bodega Chacra

    When Jean-Marc Roulot joined his friend Piero Incisa della Rocchetta in Patagonia to consult on a Chardonnay cuvée, there was understandably a lot of buzz. Piero has made a name for Bodega Chacra by crafting the most elegant and Burgundian examples of Pinot Noir I've ever tasted from South America.

    Río Negro's position in the center of Patagonia makes it an ideal location for Burgundian varieties, as the cold nights and fierce winds mitigate daytime heat and preserve natural acidity, accentuating floral notes in the wines. The distinctive red clay soil with its high iron content brings a minerality perfectly suited to these varieties. All parcels are farmed following organic and biodynamic principles.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    Mainqué is aged in first and second-year Damy barrels from Jean-Marc Roulot. Malolactic fermentation is blocked in this Chardonnay, helping to preserve the snap and crystalline traits that form the wine's energetic backbone.

    Sin Azufre is one of the most sound sans soufre Pinot Noirs—complete with a gorgeous profile, purity, and vibrancy. Fermented with whole clusters.

    Cincuenta y Cinco is the more structured Pinot Noir but still has that ethereal personality that makes this so charming right out of the gate.

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    Posted by Max Kogod