Tag Archives: chardonnay

Maltroye Madness: Jean-Pierre’s Are 2011′s Best White Burgs, 93-95RAS!

The 2011 vintage was tough for some Burgundians. But not for the precise and eccentric Jean-Pierre Courmot and his beautiful plots in Chassagne-Montrachet. Jean-Pierre’s pinot noirs are pure and vivid with energy at every level and his 1er cru whites are the best I’ve tasted in this vintage – the best since 1989. Just stunning, among the great chardonnays of Burgundy. I love the rich and ripe Santenay (93RAS) and the dense La Romanee (95RAS) oughta be Grand Cru. Not easy for everyone get to in to see Jean Pierre. But I was an early member of the cult dealing with JP’s dad and every year I get inside the iron gate. The high-vaulted cellars are a gallery of bold modern art; the “backyard” is a treasure of a vineyard sloping down from the castle. Jean-Pierre’s jetset style makes him the Keith Richards of the Cote de Beaune, so we get along fine and I come home with a great supply. Maybe you can always get what you want, but you better hurry.

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge, Cote de Beaune

2011 Maltroye Bourgogne Rouge
Fresh, vivid pinot noir with great balance. Excellent effort by Jean-Pierre.
89+ points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Blanc, Chassagne Montrachet

2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc
Solid village wine that exceeds that of just about every neighbor.
89 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Rouge, Chassagne Montrachet

2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge
Cranberry freshness in the Chassagne. Good terrior expression. Taut, berry fresh, and vivid.
91 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet

2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru
Very long, vivid, fresh with more drive than Jean-Pierre’s other reds. The clay here comes through adding body and balance….
92 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru, Santenay

2011 Maltroye Santenay La Comme Blanc 1er Cru
Remarkable Santenay blanc. Been tasting this wine for 20+ years and this may be the best effort. Dense, rich, ripeness and full. Stunning effort for the vintage.
93 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Buy 2011 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne Montrachet 'La Romanee' 1er Cru, Chassagne Montrachet

2011 Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet “La Romanee” 1er Cru
…La Romanee is in the league of Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Pierriere. Great memories of the 1989 made by Jean-Pierre’s father. This is Grand Cru.
95 points, Bob Sprentall, B-21 Proprietor

Macon Meets Puligny – Stunning Peronne

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. Their 17th century domaine houses acres of 50 to 70 year old Chardonnay vines. Winemaker Anne Ramonet learned heaps about crafting elegant and precise wines while married to Burgundy superstar, Jean-Claude Ramonet. Yep, that guy. The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose and that bracing liveliness not found further south in Macon. There is something special about this single vineyard Macon-Peronne. Could be the quality alone, or the unbelievably great value, you decide. What I know for certain is that you’re going to love this wine for all its beauty, grace and exciting taste.

 

2010 Domaine De La Tour Penet
Vieilles Vignes

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. …limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose… beauty, grace and exciting taste.

Joseph Swan is Back With 94 Point Classics

In 1967, at the age of 45, Joseph Swan, a retiring airline pilot, bought a run-down Zinfandel vineyard, barn and house in the Russian River Valley. The house had been the general store for the tiny town of Trenton which is no longer in existence. A self-trained winemaker, Joe’s first commercial wine was the 1968 Estate Zinfandel which created a stir for its intensity, balance, and purity. Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame actually used Joe’s vineyards for his first zinfandel. Later these vines were ripped out and on the advice the legendary BV winemaker, André Tchelistcheff, thought this location would be ideal for Burgundian varietals, and Pinot Noir and a little Chardonnay were planted. At that time there were very few Chardonnay or Pinot Noir vines planted in the area. Swan made his first Pinot Noir in 1973 and his first Chardonnay in 1974. From the very beginning the vines produced very low yields and grapes with very high natural acidity.

Joseph Swan, who died in 1988, is quietly considered the “Father of Pinot Noir,” and passed on his vision to his son-in-law Rod Berglund, who was the original owner and winemaker of La Crema Winery before he sold it to Jess Jackson. He continues the tradition Joe promulgated, opposing over-the-top, high extract, high alcohol, over-oaked, “tailgate” wines, still making wines traditionally, very burgundian and age-worthy.

The flagship wine remains the Trenton Estate Pinot Noir. Half of the vineyard replanted in the mid-90s, the youngest vines have now reached maturity enough to utilize the grapes of all of the blocks in the vineyard. Rod describes the character of the vineyard as “spice, earth, and concentrated fruit, with a slight tannic edge that softens with time in the bottle.” A tour de force in the classic pinot style. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Joseph Swan wines in these parts, but thankfully we can bring these classic wines back to let you see what you’ve been missing.

 

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Chardonnay Saralee’s Vineyard

…attaining true complexity is something else…. elaborate, dry and rich in green apple, mango and orange flavors. The acidity is just about perfect, giving the palate a tart zinginess….

 

2007 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Syrah Great Oak Vineyard

The explosive blackberry, wild berry and raspberry flavors are snappy and vivid, deeply concentrated and sharply focused. Ends with a long, pure, spice- and berry-laced finish. Drink now through 2022….

 

2009 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Pinot Noir Great Oak Vineyard

…smell and taste… Flavors of earth, mushroom, decaying tree bark and pine needle are all present, and the notes of cherry, cola and pomegranate are intense…. fairly tannic, with a crisp edge of acidity….

 

2010 Joseph Swan Vineyards
Pinot Noir Trenton Estate Vineyard

Tannic and tightly wound… Intense notes of raspberry jam, cherry pie, anisette, Dr. Pepper are all present, and a rich, sweet jacket of smoky sandalwood adds further complexity….

 

Maltroye Madness: 2011 Presale

A particular bright spot among January’s grey skies during our Burgundy visit was our time with Jean-Pierre Cournut at Ch. de la Maltroye. His father had first greeted me there in 1990. The following year’s visit, dad was furious with me. I had bought up a third of the production of his 1989 Chassagne-Montrachet “La Romanee.” Some of you just might remember that wine, so you know why he was upset! Forgiven. I still show up at the door each year. And this year Jean-Pierre’s ease was palpable and the wines were fresh and bright and completely charming. While 2011 was to our palates a red wine vintage, Jean-Pierre made the best whites of the visit. The Santenay 1er La Comme was high level, precise and distinctive, La Romanee immense and brilliant – these whites owing it seems to the new regime of no batonnage or stirring. The reds were brimming with red fruits, minerality and vivacity. An elegant vintage treading on freshness and supple textures, a great combination. This is a compelling argument for buying Burgundy, textbook wines.

 

2011 Maltroye
Bourgogne Rouge

Fresh, vivid pinot noir with great balance. Excellent effort by Jean-Pierre.

 

2011 Maltroye
Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc

Solid village wine that exceeds that of just about every neighbor.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet Clos Saint Jean 1er Cru

Very long, vivid, fresh with more drive than Jean-Pierre’s other reds. The clay here comes through adding body and balance…

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet Rouge

Cranberry freshness in the Chassagne. Good terrior expression. Taut, berry fresh, and vivid.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Santenay
La Comme Blanc 1er Cru

Remarkable Santenay blanc. Been tasting this wine for 20+ years and this may be the best effort. Dense, rich, ripeness and full. Stunning effort for the vintage.

 

 
2011 Maltroye Chassagne-
Montrachet “La Romanee” 1er Cru

One of the great wines of Burgundy, La Romanee is in the league of Corton Charlemagne and Meursault Pierriere. Great memories of the 1989…

 

Droin Rides Again in 2011!

Chablis! Mais oui. I found the most consistent success of the vintage in Chablis, a hour and a half north of Beaune and decidedly colder (a few degrees centigrade adds up!). Beyond Dijon, and almost to Champagne. The clay and old calcareous shells in the Kimmeridgian soils give chardonnay a flinty edge I like. Especially with oysters… and looking at the old fossils in the soil, the oysters were here first. I’ve had 2011s from Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne, Meursault and the surrounding villages, but bottle for bottle Chablis is the spot of the vintage. The people are Jean-Paul and Benoit Droin of a family that has eight 1er cru vineyards, five grand cru sites and has been at it since 1620. 2011 was challenging with some sites, but the Droins have once again out performed their neighbors. Oysters? You can’t get Gillardeau oysters here in the states but rest easy, you can drink these Chablis with the best oysters you can find. I have also assembled a “Gillardeau” sampler so you can experiment and taste the differences between each of the wines.

 

2011 Droin Chablis
Vaillons 1er Cru

The 2011 Chablis Vaillons takes hold of the palate and never lets up. It boasts gorgeous persistence in an understated style that is hugely appealing…. more subdued than 2010, but it is very pretty…

 

2011 Droin Chablis
Montmains 1er Cru

Minerality takes a backseat in the 2011 Chablis Montmains… Citrus, mint and slate are layered into the soft, enveloping finish. Ultimately, the Montmains is about expression of fruit above all else….

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru

The 2011 Chablis Montee de Tonnerre is voluptuous, especially for this site. Grapefruit, ash, slate, cured meats and licorice are some of the many notes that take shape… terrific showing…

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Valmur Grand Cru

…the 2011 Chablis Valmur is rich, opulent and totally seamless from start to finish. It boasts stunning depth and integrity to match a full-bodied, voluptuous personality for Chablis. …soft, textured finish…

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Les Clos Grand Cru

…seduces the palate and intellect with endless layers of salt, crushed rocks, apricots, nectarines and ash. The finish is long, intense and utterly impeccable. This is a hugely promising 2011….

 

 
2011 Droin Chablis
Gillardeau Six-Bottle Sampler

Contains two of the following Droin wines:
2011 Montmains 1er Cru 90-92WA

2011 Vaillons 1er Cru 91-93WA

2011 Montee de Tonnerre 1er Cru 91-93WA

Macon Meets Puligny: Stunning Peronne

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. Their 17th century domaine houses acres of 50 to 70 year old Chardonnay vines. Winemaker Anne Ramonet learned heaps about crafting elegant and precise wines while married to Burgundy superstar, Jean-Claude Ramonet. Yep, that guy. The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose and that bracing liveliness not found further south in Macon. There is something special about this single vineyard Macon-Peronne. Could be the quality alone, or the unbelievably great value, you decide. What I know for certain is that you’re going to love this wine for all its beauty, grace and exciting taste.

2010 Domaine De La Tour Penet
Vieilles Vignes

What an agile, supple wine… The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose… There is something special about this… beauty, grace and exciting taste.

Grand Cru in Oregon!

96pt Chard & 95pt Pinot Noir from Evening Land

Evening Land Vineyards is a group headed by movie magnate Mark Tarlov that also owns Pinot vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and Santa Rita Hills and is also making wines in Burgundy (Vosne-Romanee, at that). They’ve also gained control of one of the Willamette Valley’s prized property, Seven Springs Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills, always a great place for pinot and chard and it’s better now. Mark created an immediate sensation by signing on Dominique Lafon of Comte Lafon in Burgundy as the consulting winemaker. At last, Burgundian precision in American wine! Chardonnay intensely mineral; pinot seductive and elegant, showing cherry and herb, sexy and almost weightless. Grand Cru character without the steep price. Thrilling wines to please the American cheerleader or the diehard Burgundian. These will give you new hope for homegrown pinot and chardonnay, a new label to seek out, and exquisite quality.

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
Spanish Springs

…gorgeous wine laced with expressive plums, dark red cherries and spices, all supported by clean veins of minerality. This juicy, fruit-forward Pinot needs to be enjoyed… a lovely showing….

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
La Source Seven Springs

…array of vivid flavors on a sleek, airy frame, shading its juicy raspberry and cherry fruit with a streak of wet rock, crushed rose petal and white pepper, all of it put together seamlessly. The finish just doesn’t quit….

 

2010 Evening Land Pinot Noir
Red Queen Seven Springs

…Lush, pliant and sweet, offering intense red and dark berry preserve flavors and notes of sassafras and star anise. A subtle vanilla note carries through the long, penetrating finish, which shows no rough edges….

 

 
2010 Evening Land Chardonnay
Summum Seven Springs

Light, racy and aromatic… mineral notes of crushed wet stone before delivering beautifully restrained apple, pineapple and citrus flavors that play against a lean, sinewy frame. The finish doesn’t quit….

 

Great Value: 2010 Francois Carillon Bourgogne Blanc

My May visit to Burgundy took me to some impressive addresses in Puligny-Montrachet. Carillon is certainly one, the family producing wine in Puligny-Monrtrachet since 1632. In 2009, Francois and his brother Jacques decided to split the domaine. Francois Carillon has a masterful touch in the cellar, that is clear. He had been the domaine’s vineyard manager, so the 2010s were most telling of his cellar talents. I have lined up on the Francois side, after all you gotta get it right in the vineyard to get it right in the cellar. Of all Francois’ wines tasted, the most remarkable to me was this little Bourgogne Blanc, so I had to press him. Sure the 1er Cru were impressive, but Francois seemed to be most proud of the Bourgogne, telling me that it is from three parcels within the Puligny-Montrachet appellation with vine ages of 45, 54, and 58! In fact, I preferred it to the village Puligny Montrachet. The richness of old vines is not to be missed. This is a stunning value and I urge you to give it a swirl.

 

2010 Carillon Bourgogne Blanc

Sophisticated nose; old vine pedigree. Rich and unctuous on the palate, although it does not have the terroir based acid drive that, say, a 1er cru would reward… A real crowd-pleaser.

The Ramonet of Macon: Stunning Peronne

What an agile, supple wine the Ferret family have created. Their 17th century domaine houses acres of 50 to 70 year old Chardonnay vines. Winemaker Anne Ramonet learned heaps about crafting elegant and precise wines while married to Burgundy superstar, Jean-Claude Ramonet. Yep, that guy. The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose and that bracing liveliness not found further south in Macon. There is something special about this single vineyard Macon-Peronne. Could be the quality alone, or the unbelievably great value, you decide. What I know for certain is that you’re going to love this wine for all its beauty, grace and exciting taste.

 

2010 Domaine De La Tour Penet
Vieilles Vignes

What an agile, supple wine… The limestone soils, crusted with fossilized shells, impart wet stones and hints of sea to the nose… There is something special about this… beauty, grace and exciting taste.

Ferrari Chardonnay in the Winner’s Circle

We are big fans of Ferrari-Carano and sing their praises very often. Time and time again they produce wines at prices that are nothing but win-win. I honestly don’t know how they do it, delivering such consistent quality and amazingly good value. Their 2010 Sonoma Chardonnay expresses all the vintage characteristics of California’s coolest growing season in fifty years, super zippy acidity and great green apple hints and glints. Made from superior lots from their vineyards in Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and Carneros, this full-bodied Chardonnay has delicious aromas of apple, orange blossom, pear, marshmallow and a touch of graham cracker from the gentle French oak. Perfectly balanced by flavors of lemon, peach, honey, and lingering, creamy toasted oak notes, this is Chardonnay you’ll want by the case!

 

2010 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay

…a real testimony to the art of blending. Offers waves of orange custard, sweet pineapple tart, creme brulee, buttered toast and cinnamon spice flavors,brightened with zesty acidity.

2010 Chablis: Stellar Chardonnay

Three trips to Chablis this year? Makes no sense, really. Tasting with producers such as Jean-Marie Raveneau, Roland Lavantureux, Guillaume Michel, and Olivier Savary, not so bad. Tasting the ’10s has kept me coming back for more. From wines with the steely, electric zing of all stainless steel tanks such as Savary and Lavantureux (both from our pal Kermit Lynch), to those that have more pronounced roundness from time in oak as with the wines of Droin. Chablis is a wine that pleases thanks to a lean line of minerality coming from chalky limestone soils composed of crushed crustacean shells from millions of years ago; the famous Kimmeridgian soil. We have sold a boatload of the ’10s, they are complete and textbook Chablis. Stocks are fading fast.

 

2010 Roland Lavantureux Chablis

Who produces a “village” Chablis as genuine as this? Roland Lavantureux has great sites and does a masterful job in the cellar. Excellent Kimmeridgian expression, weight and concentration. Solid and pure.

2010 Francine & Olivier Savary Chablis

…citrus-inflected nose that introduces rich and round flavors that possess plenty of volume as well as mid-palate density, all wrapped in a solidly complex and mineral-driven finish….

2010 Domaine Louis Michel Montée de Tonnerre 1er Cru Chablis

…White peaches, lime, slate and crushed rocks emerge from the glass, but here, too, it is the wine’s textural finesse that impresses above all else. A long, polished finish… utterly impeccable…

2010 Droin Vaillons 1er Cru

The 2010 Chablis Vaillons is another striking wine endowed with breathtaking purity in its pure, crystalline fruit. The oak is beautifully integrated. Sweet minty notes wrap around the textured finish….

2010 Droin Montmains 1er Cru

…impresses for its rich, voluminous fruit and gorgeous depth. This is not my favorite wine here, but the 2010 is impossible not to admire for its stunning balance and clean, articulate finish….

 

Foxglove: Supple, and Super Value

The Varner brothers. You’ve heard me talk about these fellas and their super delicious Chardonnay and Pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Profoundly significant wines, produced in minute quantities, and in high demand, so they can be a bit pricey. No worries. With the same devotion to producing gripping wines of the Burgundian school, the brothers Jim and Bob scour the finest sites in lesser known areas to find true treasure chests full of the decidedly delicious fruit needed to build characterfully delectable, lip smacking good juice to slake your daily thirst. These aren’t simply second label offerings. Nope. The Foxglove line-up, as the name implies, are subtle, supple, silky wines that represent great value.

 

2010 Foxglove Chardonnay

…possesses tons of ripe, varietal fruit in a style that is quite rich but not heavy. Clean citrus and floral notes add freshness on the long finish. …There is remarkable depth and textural finesse here…

2010 Foxglove Cabernet

…wafts from the glass with sweet red cherries, flowers and mint. This is a decidedly restrained style of Cabernet, largely because of the relatively high altitude of this vineyard, but it all works beautifully….

2010 Foxglove Zinfandel

…ridiculously fine wine for the money. It bursts from the glass with rich dark fruit, mocha, spices and new leather to match its huge, exuberant personality. This is quite a mouthful….

Neely Chard Scores Huge!

95WA, Presale

Brothers Bob and Jim Varner are behind Neely wines and you bought us out of their Varners, even before those big reviews hit! “Holly’s Cuvee” is a synthesis of three of the Varner blocks, Amphitheater, Home, and Bee. Amphitheater Block contributes density and richness, to be expected from older vine Wente Clone. Home Block counters the weight of the Amphitheater giving Holly’s some lift. Bee Block is known for its scale and structure. Together, these make serious Santa Cruz Mountain chardonnay, you know, down south of San Fran way.

2010 Neely Chardonnay Holly’s Cuvee

…a beautiful, finessed wine made from the three sites at Varner. ..this is a Chardonnay that impresses for its overall balance. …The integration of rich Chardonnay fruit, oak and structure is fabulous.

One of Wine Spectator’s Top 30 CA Chard Producers

Parker says 92. 

The wine-making career of Ed Sbragia spans 30+ years at Beringer, recalling those memorable Sbragia chardonnays and Private Reserve cabernets that were at the top of the charts for years. The experience is now shared at his family winery with son Adam. Looking for chardonnay that rivals the great Beringer Sbragia chardonnays of the ’90s at a fraction of the cost? No wonder the Wine Spectator has elevated their chardonnays to the top 30 of California. Home Ranch chardonnay is a beauty, but don’t overlook the old vine Zinfandel, named after Adam’s grandfather Gino, a Sonoma native. Nice to work with a great family operation!

 

2009 Sbragia Home Ranch Chard

…impresses for its layered fruit and elegant personality. This is a laid-back Chardonnay from Sbragia, but it all works, and beautifully. a striking showing. …aged in French oak barrels …with full malolactic fermentation….