• Dutraive's Brightest Light

    Dutraive's Brightest Light

    Jean-Louis Dutraive's entire stable of wines falls into the elite category of Cru Beaujolais. And while he has various parcels in Fleurie, the wine that always thrills me for its lightness and more ethereal pitch is the Clos de la Grand Cour cuvée.

    The Clos de la Grand Cour is a true Clos, or walled-in vineyard. The vines here range between 30 to 80 years old. Nearly pure granite under very thin topsoil. Aged 35% in stainless steel, 30% in fûts de chêne, and 30% foudres for 9 to 12 months. Lifted spices meet fresh raspberry and cherry to give a delicate wine but with deep texture and a long finish.

    The big story of 2019 Beaujolais is that, despite another hot growing season, there is a serious beam of acidity running through the wines. For many, this has called to mind Jean-Louis Dutraive's watershed 2014 vintage. Of course, 2014 didn't see the hot temperatures of 2019, but the balance between fruit and acid is spot-on in both. These are the vintages where Dutraive shines and makes his brilliance abundantly clear.

    As compared to other titans of Beaujolais, like Foillard and Lapierre, I find Dutraive's wines often lighter in color, with a more lifted spice, and a more wild, natural element that stands out due to lower sulfur protocol. Waiting several years after release to tap into the top cuvées has been a big goal of mine. The rare aged Dutraive is pure magic when fruit begins to fall more to the background and exotic spices become more prominent.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Loire Whites for the Ages:  Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, & Melon

    Loire Whites for the Ages: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, & Melon

    In summer, Loire Valley whites are opened with abandon. And, there's no region in the world for whites that offers diversity and value quite like this stretch from the Atlantic ocean east into Sancerre. Today, I'm focusing on the three varieties from elite producers that offer aging capabilities that will make you think twice about only opening upon release.

    In the right hands and proper terroir Sauvignon Blanc can age with the best of them. Chavignol is always an emphasis of mine in this cellar-worthy category. But, Vacheron's 2016 Les Romains and Chambrates equally embody the best of what's yet to come in bottle development from Sancerre.

    Within Chenin Blanc, cool new kids like 
    Olivier Lejeune (Clos des Plantes), Guyonne Saclier de la Bâtie (Chateau de Bonnezeaux), and Benoit Courault are the best names you've never heard of, and I cannot recommend them enough - Want to know why sommeliers and wine geeks are as excited about Anjou as anywhere in France? It's because of the magic brew these three are putting into bottle. Of course, tried and true names like Nicholas Joly Coulée de Serrant are listed below from 1981 to 2016. And, Thierry Germain's crisp and chiseled Chenins from Saumur are perfectly juxtaposed with Guiberteau's more opulent expression of this limestone slope.

    Finally, you cannot speak of Loire Valley & value without mentioning the Melon de Bourgogne grape and Muscadet. Jerome Bretaudeau is the best name you're not familiar with yet, and if push comes to shove, I'd have to say his "Gaia Cuvée Ovoide" is the greatest bottle of Melon de Bourgogne I've ever had - completely seamless and ethereal, this goes down in a hurry.


    Posted by Alexander Rosen