Originally planted more than 40 years ago, Oregon’s 100-acre Temperance Hill Vineyard is one of the most esteemed grape-growing sites in the U.S. Located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA in the northern Willamette Valley, Temperance Hill is a cool-climate, high-elevation, late-ripening vineyard planted atop the remains of an ancient volcano, making it a perfect home for pinot noir.

The renowned Dai Crisp has been managing Temperance Hill since 1999; he immediately began farming organically, and the vineyard was eventually certified organic in 2012. With vines that are between 660 and 860 feet in altitude and the pronounced influence of the chilly Van Duzer winds, Temperance Hill produces pinot noir that is noted for its elegance, finesse, and energetic sparkle.

Vineyard honcho Dai Crisp

More than two dozen producers make wines from Temperance Hill fruit, and at Paul Marcus Wines, we are currently featuring a pair of single-vineyard expressions from this magical plot.

2021 Walter Scott Pinot Noir Temperance Hill

Walter Scott’s rendition of Temperance Hill pinot comes from a single block on the vineyard’s north side, with an elevation of 750 feet and a location directly in the teeth of the Van Duzer winds. Despite the cooler growing conditions, the Walter Scott delivers a deep core of mouth-coating blue and purple fruit–not aggressive or intense, but not particularly shy either. This explosion of fruit is gently supported by savory, herbal accents that help complete the picture. There’s real vigor and vibrancy to this bottle, and it fans out across the palate with purpose, leading to a delightfully persistent finish.

2021 Goodfellow Pinot Noir Temperance Hill

The Goodfellow Temperance Hill emphasizes and embraces the earthy spice, woody tobacco aromas, and citrusy zip that help distinguish this vineyard. Made with 100 percent whole clusters, this is a crisper, subtler take on Temperance Hill fruit that truly allows the mineral edge to shine through. Perhaps not as viscerally alluring as the Walter Scott, the Goodfellow is a graceful, charming, and wholly appealing take nonetheless.

To learn more about these exquisite offerings, stop by the shop and say hello.

 

Every so often, we encounter a wine that we all love, but are a bit hesitant to buy for the shop. Perhaps it doesn’t fit neatly into any of the store’s most well-traveled sections. Maybe the price tag doesn’t scream “value.” It could be that the grape or the region of origin is unfamiliar. Still, we deem it worthy of shelf space at Paul Marcus Wines because we want to share these discoveries with our customers.

Piero Incisa della Rocchetta

One recent arrival that falls into this category is the 2021 Bodega Chacra Sin Azufre Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina. The winery, which lies in the Rio Negro Valley, was founded about 20 years ago by Piero Incisa della Rocchetta, grandson of an esteemed Tuscan winemaker. The Rio Negro is basically desert terrain, with fewer than 10 inches of rain per year. However, the valley is also a riverbed for the confluence of two Andes tributaries, and so its soils offer a unique mix of clay, limestone, and sand–as it turns out, a perfect home for old-vine pinot noir.

Piero’s ‘Sin Azufre’ cuvee checks all of the boxes of a natural wine–biodynamic grapes, no sulfur added–but has little of the funkiness you’d expect. The grapes, from a vineyard planted in 1955, undergo whole-cluster fermentation, a Burgundian touch for a wine that is certainly Burgundian in style, and the juice sees no new oak. Bright, floral, and succulent, this wine will especially delight cru Beaujolais fans with its clarity and liveliness, balanced by subtle mineral and earthy tones. It’s a buoyant wine, with loads of character.

To learn more about this wine or to discover other hidden gems at Paul Marcus Wines, please come visit us at the shop.

We’re all familiar with the thriving natural wine scenes in France, Italy, Spain, and the rest of Western Europe–as well as here on the West Coast. But not everyone knows that Central and Eastern Europe is a hotbed of natural winegrowing and winemaking as well. Oszkár Maurer is a celebrated natural grower and maker in Subotica, Serbia, just south of Serbia’s border with Hungary. Farming is organic, and all wines are ØØ: nothing added during the winemaking–including sulfites–and nothing taken away (no fining or filtration). We currently have four Maurer wines in stock, three of which just arrived at Paul Marcus Wines.

2022 ‘Crazy Lud’ Red

“Lud” means “goose” in Hungarian and “crazy” in Serbian. So: Crazy Goose, as shown on the label! The 2022 ‘Crazy Lud’ red is mostly kékfrankos (a.k.a. blaufränkisch), cabernet sauvignon, and kadarka, with a little muscat Hamburg and prokupac for heightened aromatics and grip. The wine is macerated briefly (two-to-six days) on the skins in open vats and then aged in used 500-liter Hungarian oak barrels for one year. It’s a light-bodied red or even a dark rosé that responds well to 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator. This is an excellent introduction to Maurer’s wines: It’s playful, distinctive, and easy to drink, yet with underlying complexity and even seriousness.

2022 Bakator 1909

Fehér (white) bakator is an extremely rare grape variety; according to Maurer, there’s only one other winery producing it, in the Transcarpathian part of western Ukraine. Maurer’s Bakator 1909 comes from ungrafted, bush-trained vines planted 115 years ago. The 2022 vintage had 15 percent healthy botrytis (noble rot) at harvest, was macerated with the skins overnight, and was then fermented in stainless steel for six months. The wine is light amber in the glass, with remarkable concentration, savoriness, and depth. It’s bone dry, despite being just 10.6 percent alcohol. This is a more serious, elegant Maurer wine that nonetheless retains brightness and easy drinkability.

2022 Bakator Pét-Nat

Maurer’s Bakator Pét-Nat comes from the same ancient vineyard and grapes as the Bakator 1909 still wine, but picked earlier and with fermentation finished in the bottle to create the fizz. It’s undisgorged but barely cloudy, 10.7 percent alcohol, and bone dry. Take this bottle to a party, and you’ll definitely win the excellent-fizzy-wine-from-an-obscure-country-and-even-more obscure-grape prize.

‘Babba’

This is the most baroque wine in our Maurer lineup. It’s a blend of five white varieties (medenac beli, rajni rizling, tamjanika, kövidinka, and sremska zelenika, if you must know) from several vintages built with three sequential fermentations and then aged in 500-liter Hungarian oak barrels. It’s darker amber in color, exotically spicy, with some tannin, oxidative notes, and wild complexity. There’s nothing else like it in the shop.

Simone Foti and vignaiolo Gianni Lonetti (crouching), from Cirò, Calabria admire the I Vigneri pruning methods.

In September of 2022, I headed to Mt. Etna for a master-class tasting of wines from Versante Est (East Face). The eastern side of Mt. Etna is dominated by the Etna Bianco Superiore designation as the Milo commune is the only area that can produce the Superiore version. The Superiore in this case does indeed give the wine a bit of “superior” status. Milo is historically known for its white wines–red grapes have difficulty growing in this part of the region, and the soil composition is different from the rest of Etna.

At the time of this tasting, I already had an Etna harvest and multiple visits under my belt, thinking myself an expert and knowing who made the best of the best on the Volcano. This particular experience at the master class, however, turned my preconceptions inside out, a testament to the dynamism and the ever-changing landscape of Mt. Etna.

Etna is full of big names, one such being Salvo Foti and his I Vigneri project. I have always been a fan of Salvo and his philosophies: his insistence of the alberello vine-training system (a free vine-training system with a high planting density, a tradition from the ancient Greek colonies); minimal intervention in the cellar (no chemicals or additions, minimal use of sulfur, and no filtration); and later, his focus on native grape varieties. When I Vigneri first came onto the American market, they were some of the first Italian wines to enter the “natural wine” discourse.

I Vigneri takes its name from an association that existed in the region in 1435: Maestranzi dei Vigneri, an association of vineyard workers in eastern Sicily. Today, I Vigneri is a collaboration between Salvo Foti, local vine experts, and grape growers. The Vigneri do all the work that needs to be done in the vineyards throughout the year: plant, prune, graft, and repair the dry lava stone terraces. The group’s primary goal, of course, is the organization and preservation of Mt. Etna’s and eastern Sicily’s wine heritage.

*****

For me personally, Foti’s wines changed my career trajectory. From the moment I tasted them and learned about his work, I shifted my focus to the promotion and sale of wines made by vignaioli who work organically (and beyond) in the vineyard, practice minimal intervention in the cellar, and who invest in their local communities.

Yet, along the way, something happened; I can’t quite tell you what exactly, but I lost interest in the wines. Certainly not the work behind them, as I discovered other winemaking projects involving Foti’s I Vigneri that I enjoyed tremendously. Was it the worldwide explosion of Mt. Etna and Sicilian wines on the market that pulled my attention away from the wines? Or did the wines really lose their once distinct character?

So, when I Vigneri presented the 2020 Vigna di Milo Etna Bianco Superiore back in September, I didn’t have high expectations–but after my first sip, I cocked my head, squinted my eyes, and immediately turned to my left and my right–I wanted to catch the faces of my friends, both winemakers on Etna. They both had the same reaction; the wine had surprised them too.

There was a finesse we had never noticed in them before. The acidity was bright, the quintessential but subtle petrol note from an aged carricante was present, and the salinity of the Milo cru was unmistakable. It was truly everything I look for in a wine: true to the flavor profile of the grape, expressive of its terroir, and yet still unique with a hallmark of the producer. This was not the wine of I Vigneri past. What changed?

*****

A few weeks ago, I embarked on yet another trip to Etna (I just can’t stay away). After my revelatory experience at the September tasting, I wanted to visit the I Vigneri estate to meet the new enologists, Simone and Andrea Foti. Simone and Andrea naturally followed in their father’s footsteps and have taken over production at the winery. “Our dad never forced us to work in the family business,” Simone says. “He always encouraged us to follow our own interests.” Simone attended the prestigious wine school of Beaune, in Burgundy, and continued his viticulture experience in Burgundy, Loire, Champagne, and Jura.

The converted palmento (traditional winemaking structure) is now the I Vigneri tasting room, complete with a stomping (pressing) area, fermentation vats carved out of volcanic rock, and a large, corkscrew-like press.

Andrea, the younger of the two, attended the State University of Milan, graduating in viticulture and oenology. While both are certified enologists, Simone’s joy and expertise lie in the vineyards, and Andrea’s in the cantina (winery), making them the perfect duo for the job.

With the Fratelli Foti at the helm of I Vigneri, the wines are finding new life. They have upheld the ethos and maintained the practices of their father, but also bring in their own personal experience and taste. Their wines are multifaceted and layered, and I am certainly not the only one who has noticed this advancement in quality and character as the higher-end cru and old-vine bottlings become more strictly allocated.

At Paul Marcus Wines, we’re fortunate to have recently received a shipment of three Foti wines: the 2020 Vigna del Milo Etna Bianco Superiore, the 2021 Etna Rosso, and the 2021 Aurora Etna Bianco. To learn more about these stellar bottlings, come visit us at the shop. I’m always happy to chat about i Foti and their fascinating wine.

— Emilia Aiello

If you have spent any time in our shop, you’ve probably noticed the superb wines of Fèlsina from the Castelnuovo Berardenga area of Chianti Classico. In fact, featuring these Tuscan beauties has become something of a tradition for us. (The card on the ever-present box of Chianti Classico now reads: “Excellent as Always.”) Our longstanding commitment to this esteemed producer has set forth a wonderful, mutually beneficial experience for us, our customers, and the winery.

Over the years, many of us at Paul Marcus Wines (and a number of you) have had the opportunity to visit Fèlsina, and we’ve become well acquainted with these great wines and the lovely people who work to create them. It really is an example of remarkable, dedicated people and an extraordinary place on Earth coming together to create something distinctive and magnificent.

In 1966, Domenico Poggiali acquired the estate and began a serious upgrading of farming and vineyard management. With the addition of Giuseppe Mazzocolin (a scholar of classics and history turned wine producer) in the late 1970s, the modern winery began to take shape, and by the mid-1980s, they were already producing some of Tuscany’s most memorable wines.

Giuseppe Mazzocolin

Located in the southernmost part of the Classico zone, Fèlsina is devoted to sangiovese, the area’s supreme grape, and to organic, environmentally responsible farming. They produce wines they believe to be the most Brunello-like of all Chianti. Indeed, these are some of the deepest and most age-worthy wines of Chianti Classico, celebrating the region’s singular earthy terroir, with dark fruits and anise and sandalwood spice notes.

Yet, these wines are so polished and elegant that they are enjoyable immediately, even the great Rancia Riserva. That said, I have had many old bottles of the Rancia, and they can be absolutely stunning, easily eclipsing probably 90 percent of Brunello on the market. And once you get a look at the site, you can understand how that is possible.

I have a fond memory of driving around with Giuseppe and stopping at a small dwelling at the top of the old, perfectly southwest-facing Rancia vineyard. It is breathtakingly beautiful and simply ideal for the sangiovese that thrives there. Mind you, Fèlsina uses only sangiovese for their Chianti Classico. (They believe, as I do, that cabernet and merlot take away much more than they give to sangiovese.) I asked Giuseppe how old the house is, and he said, “Well, I have papers back to 1400, so perhaps it’s older.”

Currently, we offer a number of different Fèlsina wines from several vintages, in both standard and half bottles, including the 2017 and 2018 Rancia. Also noteworthy is the exceptional value of these wines–the flagship Chianti Classico is still less than $30, and the Berardenga Riserva is less than $40. And the Rancia Riserva, one of the world’s most enchanting wines, is $60 for the ’17 and $62 for the ’18–not exactly cheap, but rather reasonable when compared to the cost of a middling Burgundy, Bordeaux, or California cabernet.

This beautiful 300-hectare estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, the southernmost of the Chianti Classico zones, has long been one of the great wine producers in all of Tuscany. The estate (with 54 hectares devoted to vineyards) is owned and led by the formidable Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa, with whom I had the good fortune to have lunch with several years back. She is as elegant and charming as you might expect and has a great sense of humor. She got a big kick out of the old joke we told her: “How do you make a small fortune in the wine business? Begin with a large fortune.”

Castell’in Villa produces traditionally made Chianti Classico from 100 percent sangiovese, fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts and then aged for two-to-three years in large barrels before bottling. They produce classic, extremely age-worthy wines, yet they are wines that never come across as being severe in their youth.

The 2018 is an absolute gem, beautifully balanced with deep cherry fruit, sandalwood, licorice, and the typical earthy, forest-floor notes of the Berardenga zone.

Principessa Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa

This vintage has produced a great bottle to drink now with just about anything–meats, poultry, pasta, eggplant parmigiana, I could go on. It’s a lovely and generous wine, a bit more forward than the 2016 and a little less fleshy and ripe than the 2017. But the ’18 is so balanced and harmonious, with good structure, that it will no doubt age gracefully for many years, as do nearly all Chianti Classico wines from Castell’in Villa. Don’t miss it.

At Paul Marcus Wines, we are always excited to introduce our customers to up-and-coming winemakers, and we’re thrilled to offer an array of wines from a small, relatively new Burgundian producer from the Hautes Côtes de Beaune. David Trousselle, located near Saint Romain, grows single-vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir from the cooler areas in the hills west of the Côte de Beaune, and the quality-to-price ratio of his wines is nothing short of remarkable.

Trousselle uses traditional Burgundian techniques in the cellar. Chardonnay is pressed directly after the harvest and fermented and raised in mostly neutral barrels. Pinot noir is de-stemmed and given a short maceration prior to fermentation to increase color extraction, with minimal use of new oak. The resulting wines are fresh, supple, and full of character.

We are proud to offer four wines from this rising star of Burgundy:

2020 Bourgogne Blanc ‘La Couleuvraire’ ($29)

This chardonnay has a distinctively classic Burgundian nose with hints of Meursault and a nice mineral edge on the follow-through.

2020 Bourgogne Rouge ‘En Cre’ ($29)

A characteristic Beaune nose promises warm red-fruit flavors, and it surely delivers. The grapes for this lightly extracted bottling come from high-elevation, limestone-rich vineyards.

2020 Auxey-Duresses Rouge ($36)

This cool-climate beauty, from a tiny, recently acquired plot in Auxey-Duresses, offers lovely aromatics, taut minerality, and an elegant texture.

2019 Santenay Rouge ($36)

Boasting darker and denser middle fruit, the Santenay finishes with a slightly earthy and savory note.

Nestled in the Alps along the Swiss border, Lombardia’s Valtellina valley has a winemaking history that dates back more than 2,000 years. Chiavennasca (the local term for nebbiolo) is the star of Valtellina’s show, where steep, terraced vineyards and a distinct subalpine climate (loads of sunshine tempered by cool currents) produce some of Italy’s most unforgettable wines.

The terraced vineyards of ArPePe

The Pelizzatti family has been making chiavennasca in this locale for more than 150 years. However, that legacy was in serious jeopardy when, in 1973, Guido Pelizzatti fell ill with cancer. As a result, his four children decided (some reluctantly, some not) to sell the family brand, with disheartening results.

“The brand was destroyed by overproduction,” Guido’s granddaughter Isabella told Wine Spectator a few years ago. “It became a crap wine.”

It was Guido’s son Arturo Pelizzatti Perego who decided to take action and restore the family name. In 1984, he founded a new winery that he named for himself–ArPePe–and eventually bought back the old family cellars. (A sort of “revenge” against his siblings, Isabella called it.) Not only did he help revive the family legacy, he also was instrumental in Valtellina’s renaissance that continues to this day.

When Arturo himself succumbed to cancer in 2004, his daughter, Isabella, and her two brothers took the reins, and today, ArPePe remains the benchmark producer for these singular Alpine nebbiolos. Traditionalists to the end, ArPePe makes wines that prize grace, elegance, finesse, and complexity over oak-driven power. Their wines, crafted with meticulous restraint, bob and weave and dance and jab–no need for a knockout punch when you have that kind of style and sophistication.

The bulk of ArPePe’s grapes come from family-owned vineyards in Valtellina’s prestigious Grumello and Sassella zones. Grumello, where the winery is built directly into the slopes, features a bit more clay in the soil, accentuating the richer, fruitier notes of nebbiolo; south-facing Sassella has shallower and more craggy terrain, highlighting the grape’s minerality.

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We are quite fortunate to be carrying five different ArPePe bottlings at Paul Marcus Wines, all boasting 100 percent chiavennasca (nebbiolo) grapes. The 2016 Rosso di Valtellina utilizes grapes from both Grumello and Sassella, and it packs a lot of depth and character into its light and lively frame. It’s rather impressive for an “entry-level” wine.

Moving up the ladder we have two Valtellina Superiore offerings: the 2015 Grumello Rocca de Piro and the 2015 Sassella Stella Retica. These cuvees get their grapes from 50-100-year-old vines and undergo long maceration periods before spending 18 months in large barrels and at least two years in bottle prior to release.

Finally, we have two Valtellina Superiore Riservas: the 2009 Grumello Buon Consiglio and the 2009 Sassella Rocce Rosse. These Riservas spend close to five years in large casks before mellowing in bottle for another three years. Herbaceous, earthy, flinty, and floral, these vibrant, red-fruited gems deliver the entire package and show beyond a doubt how dynamic and multilayered Alpine nebbiolo can be.

Nearly two decades after Arturo’s passing, his motto still lives on: “il giusto tempo del nebbiolo,” which means “the right time for nebbiolo” and is indicative of his family’s passion for (and patience with) their beloved chiavennasca. For more information about the extraordinary, hard-to-find wines of ArPePe, please visit us at the shop.

If you don’t know Clos du Tue-Bœuf, you should. This esteemed Loire Valley estate, run by brothers Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat, is named in honor of the lieu-dit “Le Tue-Bœuf,” first mentioned as far back as the Middle Ages. The wines produced from that specific site were favored by nobles such as King Henry III of England and later the French King Francis I.

Amazingly enough, the Puzelat family itself can trace its roots in this area all the way back to the 15th century! Today, the Puzelat brothers show their respect for these ancestral lands by farming organically and crafting wines with zero oenological additions. That being said, these “natural” winemakers produce wines that are unbelievably clean–a true testament to their knowledge of the terroir and their know-how in the cellar.

Now part of the Cheverny AOC, the Tue-Bœuf lieu-dit (named vineyard) sits on the clay and flint soils that make up the south- and southeast-facing hillsides overlooking the Beuvron (a tributary of the Loire). The Puzelats augment their 10 hectares of estate fruit with grapes from the neighboring Touraine appellation. At Paul Marcus Wines, we’re currently featuring a number of white wines from Clos du Tue-Bœuf:

2018 Le Brin de Chèvre
Made from the obscure menu pineau variety–which almost disappeared due to the difficulty it has ripening–this chenin-like wine offers a bouquet of similarly obscure tropical fruits. Star fruit, dragon fruit, green papaya, and kumquat rind all make a debut here, and the glossy feel of the wine on the palate is reminiscent of quality Vouvray.

 

 

 

2018 Cheverny Blanc ‘Frileuse’
The name “Frileuse” means “little cold one” and references the frost-prone vineyard that sits at the very top of the Puzelat estate. The cuvée is made from a third each of fié gris (a historical name for a softer, pink-skinned clone of sauvignon), chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc. Expect Anjou pear, sweet meadow grass, and minerals. Open this one a couple hours before you serve it, so it can relax and show you all its colors.

 

 

 

2018 Romorantin ‘Frileuse’
Made from vines in the chilly Frileuse site that are as much as 110 years old, this is a dense and powerful wine with notes of almond, fennel, and orchard fruit. It will reward both those who wish to cellar it and those of us who have a little less patience–but please be kind, and decant it.

 

 

 

 

For a taste of this producer’s red wines, stop in to pick up either the 2019 ‘La Guerrerie,’ a blend of two-thirds côt and one-third gamay, or the 2019 ‘La Butte,’ a single-varietal gamay from 50-year-old Touraine vines.

I’ve always had a particular fondness for red Burgundy. At their best, these wines proudly display their terroir, that distinct sense of place; they boast a balanced mouth feel and are structured yet elegant. At Paul Marcus Wines, we have always taken pride in our extensive selection of Burgundy, and that remains true to this day.

Lately, I’ve been rather impressed by a couple of noteworthy producers who happen to lie at opposite ends of the Côte d’Or–and opposite sides of the price spectrum: Domaine Duroché in the far north of the Côte de Nuits and Domaine Maurice Charleux et Fils at the southern tip of the Côte de Beaune.

Photo of Domaine Duroché via Polaner Selections

Whenever you hear anything about Domaine Duroché, you are bound to hear the words “rising star.” Pierre Duroché joined the domaine in 2003 and took the reins of the operation two years later. Since then, he has turned the domaine around, bringing a new energy and focus to this esteemed Gevrey-Chambertin house that’s been around since 1933.

Duroché owns more than eight hectares of vineyard holdings in the Gevrey appellation. As you would expect, the utmost attention is given to the health of the soil. The grapes are rigorously sorted both in the vineyard and the cellar. Everything is de-stemmed, and the wines never see more than 15 percent new oak.

While Duroché’s top-level cuvees sell for upward of $500, their village-level wine still represents somewhat of a bargain. The 2017 Domaine Duroché Gevrey-Chambertin ($78) has understated power and appealing elegance, revealing the earthy, mineral Gevrey flavors that are so typical of the terroir. Though it will be sure to age gracefully, it can also be enjoyed young.

About an hour south of Gevrey–just to the southwest of Santenay, but still in the Côte de Beaune–are the three small villages of Maranges. The hillside commune of Dezize-lès-Maranges is home to the wines of Domaine Charleux.

Many of you are already familiar with these value-driven Burgundies; they have been a staple in our shop for many vintages, and are perhaps the most consistent Burgundies available in that price range. In general, the wines of Maranges are medium-bodied with just enough acidity to make them appropriate for near-term aging. The soils are clay and limestone, and most of the vineyard exposure is south to southwest.

The 2018 Maranges Vieilles Vignes ($29) is produced from vines that are more than 80 years old and offers admirable concentration and length. Somewhat dark-fruited, it exemplifies the liveliness of the 2018 vintage.
From the warmer 2017 vintage comes the 1er Cru Maranges ‘Les Clos Roussots’ ($33). The vineyards here have south and southeast exposure and are mostly blue-clay soils with some limestone. This red-fruited wine is forward and easy-drinking, with noticeable complexity in the raspberry-like finish.

We also have a few bottles left of the 2016 1er Cru ‘Le Clos des Rois’ ($30). These south- and southwest-facing vineyards contain a greater proportion of limestone, which gives this bottle ample structure and complexity. This wine has red-fruit aromas along with floral and spicy notes–simply delicious.

Of course, Paul Marcus Wines has dozens more notable Burgundy producers from which to choose. Let us help you explore the many delights of Burgundy. See you at the shop.

– Paul Marcus