• Bitouzet-Prieur: Classicism Holding Steady

    Bitouzet-Prieur: Classicism Holding Steady

    We all have regrets. One of mine was passing on Bitouzet-Prieur Volnay and Meursault when I turned on the lights in 2015. A friend once said, “If you’re not embarrassed by choices made in the previous year, then you’re not growing.” The 2020 vintage of this domaine marks my redemption.

    With winemaking medals galore filling the home of Vincent Bitouzet back in 1860, the marriage to Annie Prieur after that marked the official start of what is now the most classic domaine in Volnay, along with Lafarge. And the whites from vineyards like Meursault 1er Cru Charmes and Perrières are now another great reminder that value is alive and well in the Côte de Beaune.

    I only have a few wines from Bitouzet-Prieur, but they are the best cuvées to me after an extensive tasting with the domaine in Brooklyn last year. The Volnay is destemmed, and pigeage (punchdowns) occur twice per day—a process that has seemingly gone out of fashion in Burgundy of late as many opt for remontage (pumpovers) to bring softer contours and more immediacy to the fruit. But the 2020 Volnay is pure class and is precisely the type of Burgundy I seek out—from the greatest red village of the Côte de Beaune.

    The whites see extended lees contact and a maximum of 20% new oak. They pull back on the fruity Chardonnay traits, instead digging deep for a saturating mineral through-line that reminds me of wines common pre-2005 heat. Still bursting with site-specificity and deliciousness, they take my mind back to another time with their soft-spoken spirit.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Florence Cholet: Burgundy's Best Kept Secret

    Florence Cholet: Burgundy's Best Kept Secret

    Florence Cholet's under the radar wines
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Sta. Rita Hills Sensation: Sandhi Blanc de Blancs

    Sta. Rita Hills Sensation: Sandhi Blanc de Blancs

    Value aside, Sandhi's 2016 Blanc de Blancs ($36) is the most delicious sparkling wine produced in America today. Full stop. While certainly not defined by citrus and green apple notes of the classic category mold, this 100% Chardonnay is analogous to drinking 20-year-old champagne in its prime with a sprinkle of hazelnut. Deep golden fruit with faint, waxy butterscotch tones and a finish that puts the exclamation point on the fact this is the apex of what extended-aged California sparkling wine can do.

    Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr's 2016 was sourced from arguably the central coast's most heralded single plot of vines––own-rooted, 1971-planted Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay. After fermentation in neutral oak, the wine spent forty months sur lie (on the lees) in bottle with zero dosage. Then, five years aging in bottle post-disgorgement in the Sandhi cellars of Lompoc.

    When we tasted it, I was sure the price for such a multidimensional sparkler with so much aging would be around $80. I was shocked to learn we could offer single bottles at just $36. With holiday season in full bloom, this wine leaves the most significant impact at the most palatable price. Do not miss it!

     

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Leaping Over Legacy: Pierre Girardin Bourgogne

    Leaping Over Legacy: Pierre Girardin Bourgogne

    Vincent Girardin's name was synonymous with Burgundy's breadth, with wines coming from enviable vineyards throughout the Côte d'Or. Although the vast terroir had undeniable gems from Grand Crus and Premier Crus, the large production made for boring wines. When Vincent sold the domaine in 2011, he kept 4.5 hectares of the top holdings for his son, Pierre. After spending time in the vines, cuverie, and cellar from a very young age, the 21-year-old Pierre wanted to take a different philosophical path with his label. He was determined to be associated with the highest quality work––albeit with much more limited availability. 

    As the cuvée's label suggests, calcaire (limestone) is what Pierre wants to express, and the lens of terroir is in focus with these terrific Bourgogne wines. Pierre's methods highlight freshness and finesse––a rare move was selecting considerably larger 456L barrels for aging and favoring punchovers (as opposed to punchdowns) for the reds to keep their tannins silken. The value proposition in Burgundy is one that we bring up a lot. No doubt, pricing keeps climbing, but the emergence of new values is always around the corner. Pierre Girardin is a name that delivers in a big way with a relatively low price tag, given the quality and terroir. 

     

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Burgundy Fireworks: Yann Charlopin-Tissier

    Burgundy Fireworks: Yann Charlopin-Tissier

    A June 2016 visit in Burgundy meant tastings with some of my favorite storied domaines like Mugneret-Gibourg and Denis Bachelet, but it was after a lunch with Jeremy Seysses at Domaine Dujac and a beautiful bottle of 1993 Clos de la Roche that I got tipped off to something happening across the street—the new Domaine Charlopin-Tissier.

    Yann Charlopin-Tissier’s background is surrounded by legendary figures. His father, Philippe Charlopin, was a student of Henri Jayer as he started his own domaine in 1978. Yann worked closely with his father starting in 2004, and then with another mentor, Jean-Marie Fourrier, before launching his own domaine, now at just 4 hectares. Like these Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey Chambertin mythic names, Yann favors picking as ripe as possible and prefers de-stemming.

    Yann filled me in on his methodical and organic approach to viticulture, his excruciatingly low yields, and his disdain for talking too much about winemaking choices in the cuverie. "These wines are made in the vineyard," he would repeat. And the dirt under his nails, and muddy boot prints littered throughout the courtyard drove home that point. For me, this image greatly juxtaposed with what you find in bottle––suave and sophisticated texture, luxurious mouthfeel, supported by very concentrated ripe fruit buffered with mouth-watering salinity.

    My two favorite wines of the 2020 vintage capture precisely what is so special here: The Marsannay La Montagne is surely the sleeper pick in the range, but this lieu-dit coming from the top of the slope in Marsannay where it is substantially rockier than below offers a masterclass in balance, between bold, ripe, dark fruit with powdery tannins and mineral finish. The Pernand Vergelesses Sous Frétille is one of best kept secrets in Premier Cru white Burgundy. Always a site that delivers crisp salinity and a Grand Cru-level drama. Yann’s version has a ruthless intensity of fruit with a chalky grip that is truly head-turning. This reflects his ambition for powerfully concentrated wines that still somehow have a wizardly refinement on the palate.

     

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    Posted by Max Kogod