Tag Archives: french wines

Another CdP Blockbuster?

It’s a Rhone World After All!

Domaine Charvin’s latest stunner has flown across the threshold of beauty and created its special place on my palate. The 2010 vintage has been hailed as outstanding by producers and critics alike, but it takes a great house to not let the ripeness run willy nilly without focus. Charvin understands and their wine is all class, with a meticulous purity that begins aromatically and ends gradually and longingly. The concentration is stupendous, rich with red and black fruits, lashings of fresh lavender, notes of the stones that doe the vineyards, deep and meaty. Super tasty now but this lovely thing will be more than divine in about 10 years time. Get a case and chart its development over the next several decades. That’s fun and you’re gonna want some!

 

2010 Gerard Charvin
Chateauneuf-du-Pape

…knockout aromatics of sweet red and black fruits, lavender, wild herbs, and searing minerality that flow to a full-bodied, powerful, and concentrated 2010 that has awesome density and richness, yet also stays fresh…

2010 Chateau de St. Cosme

Getting Giggy With It! 95 points.

Louis Barruol’s Chateau St. Cosme is the flagship estate of Gigondas. The minuscule single vineyards of Hominis Fides, Le Poste and Le Claux received top scores from Robert Parker in 2010; 96-100, 94-98, and 92-94+ (Wine Spectator rated them 97, 99, and 98!), respectively. All the ’10s were knockouts during my tasting with Louis last year amid the Roman ruins sculpted into and emerging from the cellar floor. I scribbled cryptically: “this will be stunning – 94 points” for the Gigondas and “…’10 is an epic range” for the single vineyard wines. Equally cryptic, a deep earth air shaft continues to provide energy efficient temperature control for wine making for Louis as well as it did for the Romans. Gigondas is loaded with human history and housed in a dusty cellar cabinet, Louis has displayed Neolithic stones (30,000 years ago) and arrowheads dating back 10,000 years all found on his estate. And of course, Roman artifacts: coins, oil lamps, and in his courtyard Louis says there are 25 buried wine vats. So get Giggy with it, Wine Spectator just did!

 

2010 Saint Cosme Gigondas

…jam-packed with dark blackberry, currant and boysenberry fruit, but cuts like a knife, thanks to riveting acidity, a blaze of singed iron and a long, charcoal-studded finish. …lovely lingering note of singed bay leaf…

$15 Pegau?

Indeed.

News flash! You no longer have to spend $80 for a bottle of Pegau! Guess what happens when you own 40+ acres of vineyards in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (and that’s a lot of Chateauneuf!) and want to sell off some of your production, say as Cote du Rhone? French wine law only allows CdP to be declassified as non vintage Vin de Pays, or “country wine.” Lucky you. Dynamic Laurent Feraud, owner of Domaine Pegau, has those 40+ acres of CdP and has fashioned a stunning value in Plan de Pegau. After tasting a vertical of Pegau CDP with her a few months ago spanning 30 years, we got a taste of the Plan and the planning began. So close to that Pegau pedigree, this is a delicious mouthful that will leave you with a cash-back smile.

NV Pegau “Plan Pegau” Lot 2010

Good concentration and ample fruit textures. Most serious Plan Pegau to date. More vibrant than the 2009, as one could say about many Chateauneuf. Ripe, yes, but has good drive, and serious length.

12 on 21: Today, Free Shipping by the Dozens …Everywhere!

12 on 21

Yes, it’s the 21st again. Do you know where your orders are? In case you forgot, we celebrate the 21st of every month as a birthday, anniversary or name day here at B-21. Once a year is not good enough for us. We have our cake and eat it 12 times a year, and on this day when ordering online we give you the present of free shipping! That’s a big deal, could be $30 to $40 if you live out west or up in the frostbite zone. We pay the shipping for every order of 12 bottles purchased online on the 21st. You get the same FedEx Ground service: proud purple and trackable, too.

What goes in the box is more important, and it’s your choice. I’ve got more than 5,000 labels on hand. Whatever you want, whether you’re a frugal shopper or an aggressive collector. Heck, B-21 has more than 1,200 wines from France alone, including a huge selection of Burgundies and Rhones. Napa? More than 200. You don’t have to spend big money! I have almost 300 wines under $20 scoring 90 points and up. If you can’t find 12 bottles online to get free shipping, you’re not trying! What you save on shipping could pay for a couple of those bottles. Can’t say that our shipping crew looks forward to the 21st of each month. But you should! Place your order online today and it’s free shipping everywhere in the United States! It only comes once a month!

Avignon Find: 92-pt CdR That’s Darn Near Chateauneuf From Kermit

2009 Reserve des Armoiries CdR, Terres d'Avignon

2009 Reserve des Armoiries CdR, Terres d'Avignon

The childrens song is right, I was dancing sur la pont of old Avignon too after finding this Cotes du Rhone! Terres d’Avignon is another killer over-achiever that our bud Kermit Lynch brings in from the Rhone. It’s not far from Chateauneuf-du-Pape in distance or in spirit but leagues away in price. This is a blend of cinsault, grenache, mourvedre and syrah, the varietals giving robust flavors to the Rhones we love. From old vines on marl and limestone in the stony heat of that luscious 2009 vintage. Gives the blackberries, licorice and the wild herbs of garrigue, lavender and rosemary, and supple and sleek in texture. You can’t drink Chateauneuf every night, and why would you when you have Terres d’Avignon? In fact, this ’09 is rich enough for a weekend feast; spend your savings on a bigger leg of lamb. Indulge.

Wait, There’s More! Found Cases of Puech-Haut; 94 pts!

2009 Chateau Puech-Haut PrestigeMai oui, the one you love – Robert Parker too – is NOT sold out. I just turned up more Puech-Haut, which could be the best grenache blend out of the Languedoc ever. This is a beautiful basket of all the flavors you eat up in the south of France, spilling over with earthy mushrooms, berries, plums and and a splash of kirsch. This is old vine stuff from limestone soil aged in cement tanks, no oak needed for this juice. We fell in love last January in little St. Drezery up above Montpelier and then Puech-Haut’s gallant owner Gerard Bru came to Tarpon a month later. You met him and tasted the wine and we couldn’t keep it in stock. Then just last month while we’re drumming our fingers waiting for the 2010s, suppliers turned up a pallet load. Helps that I know Mr. Big, all them actually: Bru, his consulting genius Philippe Cambie and importer Eric Solomon. The result is more ’09 Puech-Haut right now. Get it quick!

2009 Chateau Puech-Haut Prestige

…forest floor flora, raspberry, kirsch, and plum are present in both aromatics and flavors … medium to full-bodied, silky tannins, and already very complex and drinkable…. 94 Points, Robert Parker

Exploring Kermit Lynch’s France: Rich Fun In Beaujolais!

Charly ThevenetI’m not sure winemakers anywhere have as much fun as they do in Beaujolais. I’m not talking nouveau silliness; year-round their serious crus are meant for a good time. In fact, they invited us all out for Bastille Day when they just might have the biggest party in France. Must be something in the gamay.

Consider the late Marcel Lapierre, since we’re tasting at his property with his son Mathieu. Marcel is revered for leading the organic equality resurgence in Beaujolais, and also as the guy who said his wines were perfect to have while taking a shower! Mais oui, check out the drawing on the label of “Raisins Gaulois” and taste how plump and fleshy it is. Maybe you could translate that as “a good reason to be French.” Officially, the Gaulois is “Vin de France” although most of the grapes are Morgon, and forward, sweet and juicy. Very easy to drink (88 RAS). “When people have a glass of Beaujolais, they just have to have more,” Mathieu explained in true Marcel spirit. I tasted Beaujolais from the other cru villages as well. Loved the 2010 Fleurie from Michel Chignard. A lot of people think Fleurie is flowery. This is classic Fleurie, it has much more in common with pinot noir than gamay. 60+ year old vines and great terroir with the nerve from granite soils (92 RAS). For a Beaujolais that has that extra brightness I turned to the cru village of Regnie, where Charly Thevenet makes the biodynamic “Grain & Granite” from an 8 acre parcel of 80+ year old vines also on granite soils. This is fabulous, serious and driving Beaujolais you won’t want to miss (93 RAS).

I figure Beaujolais may be the best wine region you’re not drinking right now. Try it and I think you’ll love it, I do, the beautiful villages stretching on the eastern side of the mountains of the valley. The locations give them all very strong character and the best vignerons follow natural, organic and biodynamic practices to keep it. The wines are packed with berries, freshness and pure fun and are surprisingly good keepers. You really ought to try all three of these and learn your way around Beaujolais.

Run-n-tell that.

2010 Marcel Lapierre, “Raisins Gaulois”

2010 Marcel Lapierre, "Raisins Gaulois"

88 Points, Bob Sprentall

92-93 Point Real Beaujolais: Fessy’s Mind-blowing ’09 Crus!

Nothing nouveau about these Beaujolais. Rich, serious stuff and so voluptuous you’ll forget the can-can girls and flowers on the other bottles. Did I ever mention the 1959 I tasted last year? Beaujolais can be serious. Domaine Henry Fessy has been making wine in all the best villages, or Crus, of Beaujolais for more than a century. What’s new is that Louis Latour bought the domaine in 2009 to bring an old French name to the U.S. and then lucked into the beautifully ripe vintage of ’09. Louis gave me my first taste last year when we got together in Orlando and I ran through them again deep in the Latour cellar in Burgundy this fall. Wow, a 93-point wow from me and my palate-in-arms, Rhett Beiletti, too for the Brouilly. Lush and luscious yet full of meat, forest berries and raisins and earth. My other favorite is the big-bodied Moulin-a-Vent, dark, stoutly structured, smoky and spicy, a wine that will show that true Beaujolais is a wine that will age richly. In fact, Fessy will make you forget the sneers and snickers about bojo nuvo; the crus of Beaujolais make very good and very different wines. If they cost way less than Burgundy, that’s no flaw. Try them all and get a delicous education in the quality and character well-made Beaujolais delivers. Run-n-tell 2009 Henry Fessy Brouilly2009 Henry Fessy Moulin-A-Ventthat.

2009 Henry Fessy Brouilly

“Mind-blowing. Minerals, meat, balsamic and blackberries. An opulent wine with curves and swerves, serious stuff with serious length…”  93 Points, Rhett Beiletti and 93 Points, Bob Sprentall

2009 Henry Fessy Moulin-A-Vent

92 Points, Bob Sprentall

Paul Pernot ’10s have landed: I give Batard Montrachet 95

Paul PernotI’ve tasted with Paul Pernot over more than 20 vintages since I’ve been going to Burgundy and the last visit may have been the best ever. 2010 was marvelous for white Burgundies, and Paul’s top crus in Montrachet were stunning, sumptuously fleshy and electric with energy. Many of you know Paul for his amazingly low-priced Bourgogne, but you must have his finer cuvées too, the value’s even greater, exponential, and at this just-arrived offer, a practical steal. The reason is that Paul doesn’t spend on show; he’s crusty and taciturn and we taste in the garage of his farmyard, not at some lavish showroom that is paid for by everyone buying his wine. Yet he has excellent vineyards and hands calloused from getting the best out of them. Try his 2010 Puligny-Montrachet village wine, it’s the best in that level I’ve found. Then move up to the premier crus from Folatieres and Pucelles, suave and sophisticated. These ’10s could make you stop raving about the ’09s. Paul’s triumphs of the vintage are the grand crus from Bienvenue and Batard-Montrachet, fat with stone fruit, nervy cores, and luxurious texture. I’ve knocked the bottom out of the prices, $5, $15, $40 off this shipment to make sure you taste Paul Pernot at his best. Run-n-tell that.

2010 Paul Pernot Bourgogne Blanc

“More akin to the 2008, very serious chardonnay from the village of Puligny-Montrachet and one of the great bargains of Burgundy…”  90 Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet

“Excellent village level Puligny. Solid with great flesh as well as minerality.  Classic…”  91 Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet 1er ‘Les Folatieres’

“Assembled from three parcels, this is the most sophisticated Folatieres I have tasted in some time from Pernot. Classic stunning wine, great length…”  92 Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Pucelles’ 1er Cru

“Fat Pucelles, parcel abuts Batard so no surprise. Very opulent at this time…”  92+ Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Bienvenue Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru

“What flesh! Very opulent but with considerable drive. This is stunning…”  94 Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru

“This is pure mineral but fat, yet long, amazing intensity. This is extraordinary…”  95 Points, Bob Sprentall

2010 Paul Pernot Volnay Carelle Sous La Chapelle 1er Cru

“The best red in the range of 2010 for Paul. This represents exception value and pure honest Volnay…” 90 Points, Bob Sprentall

Guigal Bell Rock: 93-pt Gigondas, 100-pt La Landonne!

2007 Guigal GigondasAn embarrassment of riches here in the world of Marcel Guigal makes me feel like the car dealer who has to “move inventory because the new models are coming in.” For you that means great deals on the glorious 2007 Rhones because still more wonderful years are stacking up behind it. It’s all Guigal’s fault. He delivers the best of the Rhone, north to south, from the greatest and humblest appellations. The house has a distinct and brilliant hand everywhere it reaches. Part of the Guigal magic is very long, careful aging and its later release of wines than most producers. The stunning ’07 vintage of Gigondas is a prime example, having only recently arrived. Parker has called it Guigal’s best Gigondas ever, dense, pure, and good for another decade. Yet it’s so silky and polished you must open some right now. I’ve been drinking Guigal so long with a smile. You will too. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Guigal Gigondas

“The best Gigondas from Guigal that I have ever tasted will certainly be the 2007… Dense plum/purple, with notes of garrigue, crushed rock, blueberry, and black raspberries, the wine is full-bodied, with stunning purity, a multi-layered texture, and a long finish…”  92-94 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

Heavyweight Krug (95 WS): a strapping holiday gift

KrugYou always get stunning texture and style from Krug, but the 2011 Flanerie Champagne basket is a knockout. Champagne Krug has always been made for those who like it strong. Bubbles, yes, delicacy not so much.  And for the Krug fancier who is into leather, this is the year. While the Krug Grande Cuvee is the same bottle the Goyard carrying case will thrill handbag fetishists. The bottle itself nestles cooly inside a demure charcoal black felt cylinder but you can’t miss the leather, a dozen butterscotch straps balloon put to suggest the staves of a skeletal wine barrel, and a long one for the shoulder. From one of the great luggage artisans of Paris, the nomad bag is based on the design of the Montgolfier ballon of the 1780 suggesting Krug is ready to anywhere.

To me, it’s  tres moderne or at least Rudi Gernreich Sixties. Has to be classy to match the Grand Cuvee inside. Just ask our friends at Spectator: A smoky, intense wine, with layer upon layer of coffee, roast nut, golden piecrust, ripe apple, honey and spice flavors. The richness is balanced by a focused freshness, perfectly poised like a high diver about to jump, standing above the crowd and showing the interplay of power and control in an elegant package. Drink now through 2026. (95)  With the Goyard bag it’s a deal for one of Champagne’s true beauties. Plus the basket is reusable.

Duboeuf’s Top 100, 93-pt Triumph: 2009 Jean Descombes Morgon!

2009 Georges Duboeuf Jean Descombes, MorgonOne reason Georges Duboeuf makes a good king is that he knows every part and parcel of his kingdom intimately. Each village, every Cru, the great vineyards within them, all more intriguing and noble than the oceans of plebeian Beaujolais nouveau. To me, Morgon is one of its best appellations, a reminder that Beaujolais is not that far from Burgundy. Gamay here is big yet elegant. And Jean Descombes is one of the best in Morgon. And 2009 one of the best vintages ever. Those together make this a smoking good wine, all the black cherries and berries, wrapped up in a luscious, silky syrup lined with spice and minerality. This is one of the most complex wines I’ve tasted from Duboeuf, much more of a wine than you’ll ever find under at that price, and #21 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list this year. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes

“Light tannins and a smoky mineral note frame this lush red, which displays layers of black cherry, raspberry ganache and tea rose flavors. There’s a spicy thread running through the wine, leading to a fresh, firm finish…”  93 Points, Wine Spectator & #21 Top 100 of 2011, Wine Spectator

On the Road: Boys of Beaune Le mariage francais

Bride VictoriaThe most fascinating insights into another country come when you can get off the tourist trail and enter the everyday life of another place, like going to a hardware store or a pharmacy.  Even better to enter into a family for a few hours. And for
our grand finale we had been invited by one of our oldest friends in the Burgundy wine trade to share in the grand special occasion of a true and elegant French wedding.

Team B-21 has known mother of the bride and the bride herself for years, and they have spent time in sunny Tarpon Springs as well. The nuptials they threw was as  close a royal wedding as I’ll see.  When we returned to the town center at 4 p.m., the peddlers had gone, and the focus was on medieval elegance and an Ascot crowd of impeccable style.

The cathedral is named Notre-Dame and it rivals Paris’. Begin in the 12th century, it has all the criss crossed arches, stained glass and towering domes you could want, but that can be seen any day of the week.  We were privileged to see it in action, the working church, performing a marriage attend by 500 parishioners, the modern dukes and duchesses of Burgundy and their guests. There was a troop of mischievous pages, ages 3 to 7 in blue capes, to usher in the procession, a beautiful bride and beaming groom. Morning coats and decorous fashion all around. No Jersey Shore allowed.

And hats, oh the hats. If Wills and Kate made you think that glorious hats are only  for my fair ladies on the other side of the
channel, the chapeaux of Beaune on women young and old say different. Tres chic. The wedding itself was multi-staged, first in ceremony in the church, then a reception in the  inner courtyard of the marvelous Hospices de Beaune and dinner in the cellars.  Then “the happy everafter” begins, with many vintages to come.

On the Road: Boys of Beaune go market hopping.

Beaune MarketFor a supermarket-choked American, nothing gladdens the appetite like the food in a European street. Wine we can buy at home or stick in a suitcase, the food set out every week in sidewalk markets is a rare luxury that we will never reproduce.  So our last day in France was spent gorging at the market.

The Saturday spread in the squares and alleys of Beaune may be more exciting than the first growth pinot noir. Endless lettuces, mushrooms and truffles, fat melons, cheeses soft and sausages, hams and cured meats by the hundred. Duck salami? Mais oui. Fresh pork cracklin’s whistling Dixie and the Marseillaise at once. Them too.  That’s just in the bounty vendors and farmers stack on table outside. Inside the market is the fresh meat where a single charcutier and pate maker has a dozen in line, so does a perfect white cooler selling only fresh chicken, but oh what birds. Wait, wait, there’s more, and almost all of it edible.Beaune Market

In almost the reverse of many markets in the U.S., only ten percent of the market was devoted to crafts and hardware, most of it fine quality like classic Opinel vineyard knives. And on the far fringe, a few guys selling “Brocante” in what the Brits call a jumble. I brake for brocante, which is French for flea market junk, rusty, mismatched sometimes broken treasures of the past. Got one too, a beautiful lithographed board game from 1900 or so, Jeu de l’oie,  the French version of the game of goose. Forty bucks. Sold American.  Market days differ from town to town, but if you come to Beaune, include a Saturday. And don’t schedule anything else.