• A Rose by Another Name: 2019 Overnoy-Crinquand Ploussard

    A Rose by Another Name: 2019 Overnoy-Crinquand Ploussard

    In the magically distinctive Jura region, there are certain pockets where varieties blossom into their greatest and truest possible form. For Poulsard, locally known as Ploussard, it's the tiny village of Pupillin, located just south of Arbois. I was on the hunt for an example that lived up to what I drank while visiting the village in 2012, and after tasting through importer Neal Rosenthal's current releases, I was instantly drawn to Overynoy-Crinquand's Pupillin Ploussard.

    Mickael Crinquand is the fourth generation to farm these five hectares, all of which have been farmed organically since the '80s. Here, the red clay-limestone marl soil is planted to all of the standard Jura varieties: Trousseau, Chardonnay, and Savagnin, but the oldest vines today are Poulsard.

    Fermentation and aging take place in large foudre with pumpovers kept to a bare minimum to limit extraction. This protocol gives a whispery lace structure to Poulsard and highlights everything I love about the variety's fresh strawberry and sweet cinnamon-spiced inflection. In the glass, there's the palest of red hues you'll ever find, with a slight rust-colored tinge. Surprisingly, though, a sturdy tannic structure holds this featherweight in a way that provides a thrilling sense of grip.

    Over the last decade, the Jura has brought us a new level of excitement and fascination for their native, obscure varieties. There aren't many importers who can touch Rosenthal's sense of mission in finding these smaller domaines that show their sense of place under the most sensitive and deft touch. Poulsard often shows a huge disparity in styles and, to be blunt, soundness due to its reductive and finicky nature. Overynoy-Crinquand showcases the rarefied air of Poulsard with brightness and purity unlike anyone else.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    Hauntingly Pure and Precise Côte-Rôtie

    With only 1,000 cases produced annually, Famille Levet is one of Côte Rôtie's most fervent traditionalists and smallest domaines. While my love of Northern Rhone Syrah veers heavily toward the most old-school and authentic interpretations of terroir, Levet is almost in a category unto itself.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Famille Levet Les Journaries and La Chavaroche Côte Rôties.

    Levet has been the standard-bearer for ultra-traditional Côte Rôtie since Neal Rosenthal began importing the wines in the early '80s. Rosenthal's words on Bernard and Nicole Levet have always stuck with me, declaring these the best and most carefully tended to vines in his iconic portfolio, one filled with names like Fourrier, Jacques Carillon, and Paolo Bea.

    Indeed, the magic of Levet is derived from the unadulterated raw material from these treacherously steep terraced granite slopes. Levet works with the oval-shaped Serine, a genetic variation of Syrah more common in Côte Rôtie; it's known for its vivid, explosive violet tones, bacon fat, smoke, black pepper, with a pulverized granitic streak that carries through the long finish.

    Levet offers the best opportunity for long, slow evolution in bottle of any Côte Rôtie traditionalist. Levet's Cote Roties are fermented with 100% whole clusters and go through a three-year aging regimen in foudre, demi-muid, and smaller barrels.

    At the cooler, northernmost stretches of the Rhone Valley, Côte Rôtie is where we find Syrah at its most hauntingly pure and precise. It's these characteristics that have long turned the eyes of Burgundy collectors south with this kinship. And for those who favor Burgundy, the wines of Bernard Levet are the first stop on the stylistic shift into the Northern Rhone.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    The 2017 Hubert Lignier will likely mark the last arrival of Burgundy allocations from this beautifully classic and terroir-driven vintage.

    One new Lignier cuvée you will see below is the 2017 Clos de la Roche MCMLV. This is the first vintage for the production of this wine. MCMLV comes from a special parcel of 1955-planted vines in the Monts Luissants portion of the larger Grand Cru. Just 0.25 hectares in size, the old vines here producing "millerandes" grapes, meaning the grapes are very small and concentrated. 30% whole clusters were used for this inaugural cuvée. Only 433 bottles were produced.

    Lignier has been imported by Neal Rosenthal (Barthod, Fourrier, and Jacques Carillon) since the 1978 vintage, marking one of Neal's earliest and greatest successes. The style of the domaine has always been one that emphasized structure and distinct terroir-driven soil expression. Located in Morey-Saint-Denis, Lignier's wines all display that gorgeous rusted earth, black cherry, and hoisin note that the village is often associated with.

    Each cuvée is unique from the next, and modest levels of new oak keep the focus squarely on site. 20-30% new wood for Villages and Premiers, and 50% for the Grand Crus. All grapes are destemmed, receive a five-day cold soak, and then a relatively long fermentation of 15-20 days. The Villages wines are raised in barrel for 18 months, with Premier and Grand Crus receiving a 24-month elévage.

    Posted by Max Kogod