• Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Visiting the Loire's Saumur for the first time, the idyllic, undulating hills perfectly matched my notion of pastoral France, but I didn't have a clue where to spot the grand terroir. Since the middle ages, the hill of Brézé was esteemed as any white wine terroir in France, but the secret was in the bedrock of this unassuming, gentle slope.

    The famed tuffeau limestone is the backbone of France's single most celebrated Chenin Blanc, Clos Rougeard's Brézé bottling, which often surpasses $400 per bottle. However, Romain Guiberteau's wines offer the ultimate intersection between this appellation's brilliance and value. Having mentored under the Foucault family, he's learned the secrets to capturing Chenin at its most crystalline and pure!

    The Guiberteau family has farmed Saumur's hill of Brézé for more than a century, but it was when Romain began implementing critical changes in farming that quality began to soar. Unlike neighboring appellations, where Chenin Blanc's rounded, overt orchard fruit dominates, the alkaline limestone soils in Saumur bring cut and lacy minerality, sharing more in common with Chablis and Champagne.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Saumur Blanc Royalty: Domaine Guiberteau

    Visiting the Loire's Saumur for the first time, the idyllic, undulating hills perfectly matched my notion of pastoral France, but I didn't have a clue where to spot the grand terroir. Since the middle ages, the hill of Brézé was esteemed as any white wine terroir in France, but the secret was in the bedrock of this unassuming, gentle slope.

    The famed tuffeau limestone is the backbone of France's single most celebrated Chenin Blanc, Clos Rougeard's Brézé bottling, which often surpasses $400 per bottle. However, Romain Guiberteau's wines offer the ultimate intersection between this appellation's brilliance and value. Having mentored under the Foucault family, he's learned the secrets to capturing Chenin at its most crystalline and pure!

    The Guiberteau family has farmed Saumur's hill of Brézé for more than a century, but it was when Romain began implementing critical changes in farming that quality began to soar. Unlike neighboring appellations, where Chenin Blanc's rounded, overt orchard fruit dominates, the alkaline limestone soils in Saumur bring cut and lacy minerality, sharing more in common with Chablis and Champagne.

    Shop Domaine Guiberteau

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Champagne Crescendo: Bérêche Brut Reserve

    Champagne Crescendo: Bérêche Brut Reserve

    The Bérêche brothers illustrate just how profound a non-vintage bottling can be. Their Brut Réserve is one of the first bottles I turn to when choosing cellar selections. Tasting their entire range on a visit in 2018 was truly a masterclass. Raphaël is as adventurous as any vigneron I've met, with a joyous demeanor exuding enthusiasm at every turn in the cave. On the other hand, he and Vincent, who focuses on the vineyard, take an exacting approach to every detail.

    Bérêche's nine hectares are farmed by ten full-time workers, an extremely unusual ratio, but Raphael knows quality will be dictated by the number of minutes each vine is cared for through the growing season. The Bérêche estate also stands out for a vast array of terroir at their disposal: Starting at their home base with the chalky soils of 1er Cru Ludes, ideal for Chardonnay, all the way to the western Valée de la Marne and their heavier clay soils, where Pinot Noir and Meunier excel.

    The non-vintage Brut Resérve is equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. The parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Premier Cru village Ludes in Montagne de Reims bring that nervosity from chalky soils, and the broader and richer tones come from Pinot Meunier and additional Chardonnay parcels from Mareuil le Port in the western Vallée de la Marne.

    35% of the Brut Réserve comes from a perpetual blend of reserve wine. This reserve portion brings a sense of grandeur perfectly suited to mesh with the more taut structure from the single vintage (Currently the 2017-base). Fermentation occurs in 60% neutral French oak barrels and 40% small vats, with aging in 600-liter neutral barrels.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Côte Rôtie's Tiny Jewel: 2019 Chambeyron-Manin Côte Brune

    Côte Rôtie's Tiny Jewel: 2019 Chambeyron-Manin Côte Brune

    The secret is out on this tiny jewel of a domaine in Côte Rôtie. With less than 165 cases produced annually, Chambeyron-Manin is small-production on a wildly different scale. They farm just 0.5 hectares of a rare clone of Syrah named Serine in the decomposed granite, iron-rich soils of the Côte Brune.

    Chambeyron-Manin's expression of Serine harnesses the dark and feral characteristics of the Côte Brune, featuring smoke, bacon fat, crushed rocks, dark plum, black pepper, and black olive notes. Even with all the brawn and scorched earth elements, it's still the violet and lavender that speaks to this slice of the most sensual Syrah on the globe.

    Like many domaines here, the Chambeyron-Manin family has historically produced and sold meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The minuscule plot of vines they have, located behind their home, only supplement their main work operating Les Jardins de la Côte-Rôtie. Tasting their wine for the first time, it's hard to imagine they would devote their lives to anything except ramping up production and getting it into as many hands as possible. Alas, half a hectare is all there is, and I'm so fortunate to have been introduced to this tiny jewel.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 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