• 2017 Terroir de Patrick Piuze:  Chablis King-in-Waiting

    2017 Terroir de Patrick Piuze: Chablis King-in-Waiting

    Overwhelmingly it's agreed that Raveneau and Dauvissat represent the most crowning achievements in Chablis. If there was one king-in-waiting, it would be Patrick Piuze. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the great 2017 value wines from Patrick Piuze that showcase two sides of Chablis, the Terroir de Chichée & Terroir de Chablis, both for $35 per bottle. As well as the secret gem of Patrick's Premier Cru range, the Vaillons "Les Minots".


    2017 is undoubtedly the most exciting vintage in Chablis since 2014. Many winemakers noted the sense of balance is even better in 2017. Piuze's Terroir de Chichée and Terroir de Chablis are the two standouts in this respective series. 

    Terroir de Chichée captures the most classic profile of Chablis, with crisp green apple and citrus tones, crushed oyster shells, and superior cut. The Chichée also has hints of orange blossom and a waxy texture giving an incredibly dynamic take of this Kimmeridgian limestone's archetype.

    Terroir de Chablis, alternatively, shows a more ripe and softer texture with flavors pushing into the golden orchard fruit register. But, this wine's mouth-watering acidity hits right in the back corners of the palate, delivering a fantastic juxtaposition. There's a dazzling level of clarity here that's impossible to miss. Tasting this again with Piuze's importer on Wednesday I could not but help going back to the glass over and over. 

    Premier Cru Vaillons "Les Minots" is a special parcel within the larger Vaillons vineyard exploited only by Piuze. This microclimate tends to showcase more warmth in the best sense. There's a honeyed character to the fruit that never comes across heavy or cloying. It's perfectly countered by fresh saline tones and Premier Cru length. For the 1ers from Piuze, this is tops. It's also quite a bit less expensive than perhaps the more recognizable Montée de Tonnerre and Les Sechets of Raveneau and Dauvissat fame, respectively.


    Piuze is a wizard at working with both stainless steel and oak to craft Chardonnay from Chablis' fossilized ancient sea bed that delivers the grandeur expected from these top vineyards. Like Raveneau and Dauvissat, it's the regal structure, seamless contours, and definitive cut married to this breadth that places Piuze in such elite company.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Priorat Re-Discovered:  Terroir Al Límit

    Priorat Re-Discovered: Terroir Al Límit

    My first visit after landing in Barcelona took me 2 hours northwest to the land of llicorella in Priorat. In many ways Priorat was the single region that pulled me to the Old World as a primarily California drinker as I was finishing college. The llicorella (black slate) of these high altitude vineyards, often resembling a lunar landscape, imparted colossal minerality and a full-throttle inky, black fruit quality that hypnotized me from first sip. While my palate has changed quite a lot since the early 2000's, it has been a huge surprise to see a winemaker here who, in tandem, changed the profile of Priorat. Dominik Huber's Terroir Al Límit shows a face of the region that diverges drastically from the norm, and constructs wines true to this slate foundation, except with a transparency and fresh streak that's altogether singular.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the four wines from Terroir Al Limit's 2014 release that opened the window for me to see Priorat's magic in a shimmering light.

    Terroir Al Límit's lineup is centered around Garnacha and Carinyena's explosive violet aromatics, met with wild strawberry and an array of blue fruit tones. The slate and clay soils that are so special to Priorat endow each wine with a deeply layered and saturating mineral punch that forms the cornerstone of all wines. But, alas, building trends over the 1990's have placed just about every winery of this region into a camp of high extraction and high oak influence that obscures an authentic sense of place. And, that's where Huber raced in stage left. 

    First and foremost, Dominik employs an organic and biodynamic approach. Given the arid climate, one would imagine this a popular regimen, but it's still incredibly rare. Secondly, infusion and semi-carbonic fermentations make Terroir Al Límit a completeoutlier. This whole cluster fermentation limits extraction and keeps the beastly tannins at bay a bit. His aging in Austria's Stockinger foudres is also an integral key to preserving the delineation and more filigreed expressions of terroir.

    When deciding which cuvées might appeal to you most, I'd like to really hammer home one point. Rarely have I visited a region where grape variety falls into the background behind terroir as much as in Priorat with Huber's style. Garnacha does best in more clay-dominant sites, and the wines show this more broad sensation on the palate, with arguably a touch more in the red fruit camp. Carinyena, alternatively, is best suited on pure llicorella and schist, where a more vertical and incisive personality forms, with a touch darker profile and scorched earth traits.  

    In the end, this is the one destination in Priorat that you must become familiar with if your palate has lead you to Burgundy and traditional Northern Rhône. Although the wines here would never be mistaken for the aforementioned, the clarity and poise found in glass is founded on similar principles. 


    Torroja Vi De La Vila is the "village" wine here, consisting of equal parts Garnacha and Carinyena from 50-75-yr-old vines. This is the sole wine of Terroir Al Límit that sees a blending of these two main varieties.

    Abrossar taps 90-yr-old Cariyena from a north-facing slope. This exposition was of little interest to many vignerons in times past, but with warming temperatures and Huber's insistence on freshness over power, this wine today is the model for Carinyena's prospects of levity and elegance.

    Les Manyes taps 50-yr-old Garnacha vines from clay-based soils. Broad and saturating with more red fruit tones and a long mineral-driven finish.

    Les Tosses (where Dominik and I are pictured above) is a steep and very high altitude Carinyena vineyard containing 90-yr-old vines. Along with Les Manyes, this is the magnum opus of Terroir Al Límit.

    * Decanting each wine for over 30 minutes prior to drinking is highly recommended.

    Today, finding myself so far removed from the powerhouse-styled wines that I gravitated towards a decade ago can leave me a bit melancholy at times, as that was such an exciting period in my growing interest in wine. But, landing on the sole domaine that harnesses all of those rare traits of Priorat in a more understated style that speaks to my palate today is simply thrilling. Sharing my passion is the goal everyday as I write these offers, and I cannot think of a better stop on the wine route to illustrate a region's promise in shifting a style as what Dominik has done with Terroir Al Límit.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Saumur's Royal Torch:  Domaine du Collier Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc

    Saumur's Royal Torch: Domaine du Collier Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc

    In Saumur, Antoine Foucault, son of the late Charly Foucault, had seen the reputation and pricing of his father's Clos Rougeard wines soar across the globe like no other domaine in France. Today, little is known of Foucault's own domaine he founded in 1999. The Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc produced from the best limestone slopes in Saumur brings the unrivaled elegance of Clos Rougeard, with a singular potency that will guide this address into cult territory. We laugh when we hear of times past where Clos Rougeard sat on shelves for under $60, and here I expect the same to follow suit.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the Saumur wines of Antoine Foucault's Domaine du Collier.

    Visiting with Antoine in 2016 was a dramatic moment, there's no other way to describe the experience. For starters, descending into the cellar was akin to the fantastical space imagined for Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom. The cavern was close to 100% humidity, with walls of bedrock wet to the touch and stalactites at every turn. The shadowed figure of Foucault returning into faint light with a thief of wine from each new barrel further imprinted the mystique.

    Like his father, Antoine's greatest joy is working among the vines. Witnessing the meteoric rise of popularity of Clos Rougeard throughout his life has left him surprisingly humble, showing no interest in the limelight or travel. He speaks matter of fact, and his sensible philosophy on organic and biodynamic viticulture is ultimately defined by rigorous hands-on work in each parcel.

    There's a powerful concentration to Antoine's wines that differ from his father's, yet they're still built upon that familiar grace and seamless pleasure found in their texture. (Antoine vinified the 2016 vintage at Clos Rougeard upon his father's untimely passing). The real distinction on the protocol for Collier's wines is their unusually long aging, many times over two years in wood. Once fermentation is concluded the wines are gravity-fed into barrel and remain completely untouched, with zero sulphur additions.

    There's a large proportion of new wood used at Collier, but never have I tasted at a domaine where this level of oak was so imperceptible and pushed into the background of the wine. The wood absorbs much of the firm structure in these wines, softening the contours and bringing an added layer of refinement. 

    Saumur Blanc is 100% Chenin Blanc primarily sourced from vines aged 25-75 years in the Ripaille site. 

    Saumur Rouge La Ripaille is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from a single vineyard of vines ranging between 30-60 years old.

    Saumur Blanc Charpentrie comes from 100-yr-old vines in this single vineyard.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • 2017 Terroir de Patrick Piuze:  Chablis King-in-Waiting

    2017 Terroir de Patrick Piuze: Chablis King-in-Waiting

    Overwhelmingly it's agreed that Raveneau and Dauvissat represent the most crowning achievements in Chablis. If there was one king-in-waiting, it would be Patrick Piuze. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the great 2017 value wines from Patrick Piuze that showcase two sides of Chablis, the Terroir de Chichée & Terroir de Chablis, both for $35 per bottle. As well as the secret gem of Patrick's Premier Cru range, the Vaillons "Les Minots".


    2017 is undoubtedly the most exciting vintage in Chablis since 2014. Many winemakers noted the sense of balance is even better in 2017. Piuze's Terroir de Chichée and Terroir de Chablis are the two standouts in this respective series. 

    Terroir de Chichée captures the most classic profile of Chablis, with crisp green apple and citrus tones, crushed oyster shells, and superior cut. The Chichée also has hints of orange blossom and a waxy texture giving an incredibly dynamic take of this Kimmeridgian limestone's archetype.

    Terroir de Chablis, alternatively, shows a more ripe and softer texture with flavors pushing into the golden orchard fruit register. But, this wine's mouth-watering acidity hits right in the back corners of the palate, delivering a fantastic juxtaposition. There's a dazzling level of clarity here that's impossible to miss. Tasting this again with Piuze's importer on Wednesday I could not but help going back to the glass over and over. 

    Premier Cru Vaillons "Les Minots" is a special parcel within the larger Vaillons vineyard exploited only by Piuze. This microclimate tends to showcase more warmth in the best sense. There's a honeyed character to the fruit that never comes across heavy or cloying. It's perfectly countered by fresh saline tones and Premier Cru length. For the 1ers from Piuze, this is tops. It's also quite a bit less expensive than perhaps the more recognizable Montée de Tonnerre and Les Sechets of Raveneau and Dauvissat fame, respectively.


    Piuze is a wizard at working with both stainless steel and oak to craft Chardonnay from Chablis' fossilized ancient sea bed that delivers the grandeur expected from these top vineyards. Like Raveneau and Dauvissat, it's the regal structure, seamless contours, and definitive cut married to this breadth that places Piuze in such elite company.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen