Domaine Joseph Roty is one of the great houses of Gevrey Chambertin. Operated by the Roty family since 1710, with a tenure of this length, they have achieved greatness working with true old vines. All of Roty's wines come from 60-plus-year-old vines. Their most famous site, a section of Charmes Chambertin, was grafted in 1881. This ancient vineyard was among the first to be grafted after phylloxera wiped out half of France's vines. The cuvée is aptly labeled "Très Vieilles Vignes," or very old vines.
Stylistically, these wines hold nothing back, with concentration and intensity being the name of the game. 100% destemmed fruit undergoes a three-week fermentation at cool temperatures, followed by time in oak (50-100% new) before bottling without fining or filtration. Roty's masterful techniques and careful barrel selection yield red Burgundy with a tight coil of Gevrey's earthy minerality and a stylistic flair melding black fruits with black truffle.
At first glance, Turley may seem like an outlier in our Old World-focused collection. The reason I go deep on these prized wines from America's oldest vineyards extends far beyond their historical significance. While Turley wines have a hedonistic side, they are balanced, precisely detailed, and always supported by fresh acidity.
Turley defines American viticulture today. Working with over 50 vineyards, they apply organic principles and rely only on native yeasts for fermentation. Head winemaker, Tegan Passalacqua of Sandlands, is rightfully respected for his work in the cellar as much as for his encyclopedic knowledge of California's diversity of old vineyards.
While Zinfandel and Petite Syrah inherently push toward higher ripeness, their thoughtful approach with vines from Paso Robles to Napa Valley is to preserve acidity and manage tannins. Each cuvée is crafted free of reliance on excessive new oak, additives, or manipulation in the cellar. These are ultimate wines of terroir, epitomizing the best of California's viticulture heritage.
When serious BBQ is at hand, Turley is among the first wines I reach for. Their vibrant, fruit-forward, and deeply nuanced traits lend themselves to a wide range of grilled meats and marinades. Even more, a bottle of 2001 Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah was a great reminder that the pure joy these wines give, even after a decade in the bottle, is evidence of their greatness.
Pierre Menard reaches cult status in Europe for his lieu-dit (single-vineyard) Chenin Blancs. Still, I'm choosing to begin this producer introduction with a different wine, the Laïka Sauvignon Blanc. Simply put, Chenin gets the prime slopes in Anjou, where schist dominates, and the flatlands with boring soils may see some Sauvignon Blanc. However, Menard discovered one of the first Sauvignon Blanc parcels in this region, the tiny 1957-planted Clos de la Roche, located atop a slope in Faye d'Anjou.
Before tasting Laïka, you'd be well served to expel any notion of what this variety's personality is about to deliver. "Typical" grapefruit and lime fade into the background, much like earth did when the first living creature, the dog Laïka, was rocketed into space in 1957 (hence, the name). Those flavors are replaced by saffron butter, a kaleidoscope of yellow fruits, and a mineral underpinning that only the schist-laden slopes of Anjou convey. A Parisian bistro summer sipper, this is not.
The fermentation and aging regimen is as progressive as Menard's desire to work with this Anjou outcast grape variety. Older barrels, sandstone amphora, and tank are the vessels that combine to give us Laïka. Only a few cases enter the U.S. each year, and I'm thrilled to offer a 3-vintage vertical today. Also, do not miss his stellar Chenin Blancs below, in equally small quantities.
We don't focus on many sweet/dessert wines outside of German Riesling, but Menard's "Cosmos" Coteaux du Layon (500ml bottles) blew us away last month, and it's the perfect pairing for cheese or dessert.
Being introduced to Marc and Alexandre Bachelet-Monnot's Puligny-Montrachet took me back to my first glass of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey. It was clear this domaine, too, was destined for star status. In a short time, these young brothers have also put Maranges on many collectors' maps.
Bachelet-Monnot's Puligny Montrachet comes exclusively from old vines in four lieu dits: Les Corvées, Les Meix, Les Houillières, and Noyer Bret. This cuvée is a classic interpretation of Puligny with tension and ripe concentration. Following in PYCM's footsteps, Bachelet-Monnot chooses to ferment and age in larger barrels, with modest oak influence and a six-month stay in steel before bottling.
The Maranges Premier Cru reds are also stellar in every way, combining regal structure and finesse centered upon a core of pristine red and blue fruits. Maranges 1er Cru Fussières is a personal favorite for its energy and precision, sourced from Maranges' highest elevation vineyard.
Penedès is known most as the birthplace of Cava, but this Spanish region on the Mediterranean is now the next exciting stop on a tour that's reshaped my thinking on Spanish whites. Since 1996, Celler Pardas has been on a journey to show the serious side of Penedés still wines. Their Blau Cru, comprised of Malvasia de Sitges, captures Catalonia with a dry Riesling-like precision that floored me. Blau Cru continues to make a case for Spain's wine renaissance toward diamond-cut-focused whites.
Malvasia grows in many regions throughout Europe, each with a slightly different genetic makeup, though the wines commonly stand out for rich, oily texture and vivid floral qualities. In the upper Penedès, the limestone, 300-meter elevation, and influences from the Bitlles River bring a more straight-lined Malvasia that conjures Germany's Mosel. Blau Cru has a seamless texture and crystalline quality to the yellow stone fruits that screams mineral spring purity. This unusual juxtaposition in each sip was mesmerizing!
The other wine featured here, Collita Roja, is 100% old-vine Sumoll from the same limestone soils; the fruit is de-stemmed and fermented in stainless steel, then aged in used French barrique. Sumoll brings dark red-black fruits and savory spices wrapped together with a mildly chalky mineral sensation that drives through the long finish. I expected a roasted or jammy quality, but the underpinning salinity keeps everything crisp and vivacious.