Nothing says “holiday celebration” like a bottle or three of Champagne. If you’re looking for some direction in your choice of bubbles, we’ve assembled a three-bottleChampagne Party Pack that showcases the stylistic diversity of the famed region–with different grape blends, dryness levels, vineyard locations, and winemaking approaches. This specially discounted package will help distinguish your own holiday party–and it’s also the perfect gift for the oenophile in your life.
This house is named for Bertrand Gautherot’s two growing parcels in the hills of the town of Troyes in the Côte des Bar. Bertrand is a true vigneron–just as present in the fields, cultivating the vines, as he is in the cellar–the epitome of “grower champagne.” His devotion to his vines and to biodynamic viticulture has garnered him quite the cult following. His precision and unwavering attention to quality has made Bertrand a sought-after name among sommeliers and collectors alike.
Bertrand’s wines are all fermented with indigenous yeast in French oak barrels. He prefers to make wines as transparent as possible; therefore, in addition to his strict farming and winemaking practices, he does not add any liqueur de l’expedition (a mix of wine and sugar to top off the bottle after disgorgement). It’s a true brut nature (absolutely no dosage/sugar additions), and he only adds small amounts of sulfur in accordance with the Demeter law.
Bertrand’s vineyards in the Côte des Bar are more akin to those of Chablis: rocky Kimmeridgian and Portlandian limestone. This region of Champagne is known for its pinot noir production, but of course–being the renegade he is–Bertrand’s Blanc d’Argile is 100 percent chardonnay from Briaunes, his largest parcel, with a small amount of fruit from scattered plantings in his other Côte des Bar townships. Its ripe fruit is offset with acidic tension.
Mineral, nougaty, and salty, this wine is often compared to a (bubbly) grand cru Chablis. Pop these bubbles to impress the wine expert in your life or to experience an indulgent night in.
Champagne Saint-Chamant was established in 1930 by Pierre and Hélène Coquillette. Their son Christian took over the estate in 1950 and brought Saint-Chamant to international recognition. Christian’s son Stéphane succeeds him as the third generation.
The estate is located in Epernay in the Côte des Blancs, which is known for its chardonnay production. This rosé is 92 percent chardonnay (all grand cru fruit) and 8 percent pinot meunier. Farming is done under organic practices (however, the estate does not hold any certifications). All vineyard work is done by hand. Christian believed in extended lees aging, and all the wines are disgorged to order, something that is particularly unique in Champagne.
This Champagne is rich, with bursts of raspberries and cream upon opening. The finish is dry, with a dosage of only 5g/L, yet creamy. The bubbles are fine, giving this NV Champagne an aged feel. These bubbles are sure to please Champagne drinkers of all types. Enjoy with cheeses, meats, and rich shellfish dishes.
Jacquesson Champagne production traces its roots back to 1798. This name has laid the foundation for some of the greatest and most renowned Champagne houses, such as Krug. (Johann-Joseph Krug left Jacquesson in 1843 to produce his own wine.) The success of Jacquesson, however, is not simply in their longstanding name or parentage of other great houses, but also in their modern manifestation as a large-production, grower Champagne.
In the 1980s, brothers Laurent and Jean-Hervé Chiquet took over the winemaking and estate management from their father. They immediately adopted pesticide-free, organic practices in order to produce a less manipulated, more terroir-driven Champagne style. Only juice from the first pressing is used, and all the juice is either from grand cru or premier cru vineyards. The wine ferments in large foudres with regular battonage (lees stirring).
To further highlight their vines’ terroir, they began using a majority of a single-vintage base for their blended, non-vintage wines–a non-vintage wine in a vintage style. They marked the start of this new philosophy by labeling the wines as the 700 series. They began with 728, and each year, a subsequently numbered cuvée is released, with Cuvée No. 733 based on the 2005 vintage, Cuvée No. 734 based on the 2006 vintage, and so on.
The 745 uses the 2017 harvest as its base and includes grapes from the areas of Ay, Dizy, Hautvillers, Avize, and Oiry (Vallée de la Marne). The blend is always about 80 percent chardonnay plus about 20 percent pinot noir and pinot meunier. Late-onset frosts were particularly destructive and were followed by a hot and wet summer. Rigorous sorting left them with small yields, but incredibly premium fruit.
The wine is lush and plush with a creamier-than-usual palate due to the low, ripe yields. All Jacquesson wines spend a minimum of five years on the lees, and the very low extra-brut dosage of .75g/L deftly complements the wine’s natural ripeness. It offers notes of pineapple and creamy lemon curd, with bright lemony-chalky acidity and persistent perlage (fizziness).
To learn more about these exquisite bottlings or to discover the wide range of Champagne available at Paul Marcus Wines, please visit us at the shop.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcus Wineshttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus Wines2022-12-14 14:32:222022-12-14 14:32:22Celebrating Holidays: Big-Time Bubbles
As we always say here at Paul Marcus Wines, “wine is food.” To us, your choice of holiday wines is as important as anything else on the menu. (OK, fine, it’s much, much more important.) In past years, we’ve focused on Thanksgiving wines that are “outside the box” and “off the beaten path.” This year, we’re going to take the opposite approach–wines that are firmly in the T-day pocket–specifically, wines from Burgundy and Beaujolais.
There’s a reason why chardonnay, pinot noir, and gamay are perfect choices for the Thanksgiving table–their stylistic versatility allows them to pair well with a wide range of flavors. They are meant to complement, not dominate, the array of food before you.
The task at hand was for the staff to share ideas for one “value” and one “splurge” from the celebrated wine region in the heart of France. Of course, some of us couldn’t resist wandering off the beaten path … which just goes to show: There are no rules in the world of wine–only suggestions and propositions. Here are a few ideas to get you pointed in the right direction, but the ultimate destination is up to you.
Stunners and Showstoppers (Sorry, Uncle Buck)
Aside from the usual bubbles we will share at our Thanksgiving table, my wife and I will start with a bottle or three of the 2020 Domaine Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Rouge Vieilles Vignes. The wine is so bright that it makes no difference if you serve it before your rosé or white wines; it has a bracing but friendly acidic spine with crunchy fall fruit. Notes of cranberry and raspberry swell over the palate. This is all old-vine pinot noir with depth and a surprising concentration that will accent a variety of dishes–and at $42, this is a financially feasible opening gambit. Oh yeah.
As we move forward, I will open a bottle of the 2017 Marchand-Tawse Gevrey-Chambertin ‘En Pallud.’ Round and rich but rippling with bright old-school acidity, this is a top-flight red Burgundy that is a showstopper every time I have it, and its $85 tag represents a great value for Burgundy.
For a white “pairing” with the Marchand-Tawse, we’ll turn to the truly great 2016 Comte Abbatucci Cuvee Collection ‘Diplomate d’Empire’–perhaps the pinnacle of white wine from Corsica. Dominated by the Corsican mainstay vermentinu, it also adds a mix of local grapes including biancu gentile, rossola bianca, brustiano, and genovese. Grown on granite soils, it is, like all of Abbatucci’s wines, very organic. (“Very?” you ask; the Count has musicians play occasional nocturnes to the vines in the red-brown, blue evenings.) Six years of bottle age allow the wine’s complexity to rise from the glass.
The Diplomate blanc is not for the faint of heart on any level. It is both subtle and powerful, intensely laid back and truly stunning. And at $91, I would suggest not rushing through it. It deserves time to breathe, and I’m definitely not too worried about Uncle Buck getting any of this very-limited gem!
To that end, I find it helpful to remind myself that not everyone at the table needs to get a glass of every wine that is opened. I also advise having a few bottles open at the same time, which gives people choices and helps manage the more expensive tastes at the table, so I would suggest having a bottle of Cava at the ready.
— Chad Arnold
When Playtime’s Over
I see two kinds of wine for T-day. Mostly, I serve any manner of fresh, fruity, lithe, low-alcohol wines–red, white, or rosé, it hardly matters. These are the joyful, playful, early-meal wines that keep the conversation light and bouncy. Amateurs and kids love ‘em.
But once the kids leave the table and the food and conversation slow, it’s time to go deeper. No shouting or boasting wine, but serious nonetheless–serious, yet graceful, because it’s been a long meal. The 2012 Marchand-Tawse Morey-Saint-Denis ‘Pierre Virant’ is all that. After 10 years, it’s composed and elegant and quietly insistent about its worth. It’s a wine that creates enough pause to allow you to consider how good things are.
— David Gibson
Burgundy and Beyond
A terrific white Burgundy from 90-year-old, organically farmed vines in a single terraced vineyard, the 2019 Agnès Paquet Auxey-Duresses ‘Patience No. 12’has an explosively expressive nose of orchard fruits and deftly integrated oak. The palate is voluptuous without excess, with refreshing acidity and great depth and length.
To surprise your relatives, consider the 2017 Burg Ravensburg Pinot Noir ‘Sulzfeld’ from Baden, Germany. Most of your tablemates don’t know how much reputable pinot noir comes from Germany–and at great prices. The Burg Ravensburg is delicious pinot noir with some bottle age at an appealing price–organically and biodynamically farmed, old-school yet still elegant.
For high-end red “Burgundy,” the 2015 Georges Remy Bouzy Rouge Coteaux Champenois ‘Les Vaudayants’ is a true ringer. Coming from the village of Bouzy in Champagne, it’s an amazing, single-vineyard, still pinot noir that rivals great red Burgundy and yet comes from a place that almost no one knows makes still red wine–never mind world-class still red wine. Certified organic and biodynamic, this is perfumed, delicate, red-fruited pinot noir with great texture, finesse, and depth.
— Mark Middlebrook
Côte de Beaune Brilliance
There is little doubt that red Burgundy is the perfect complement to the Thanksgiving meal. The 2016 Domaine Tawse Volnay Premier Cru ‘Fremiets’ is textbook Volnay. The vineyard, which borders Pommard and shares similar limestone soils, is an early ripening vineyard. The farming is organic and biodynamic, and the wine is lovely. A bit forward, the mouthfeel is middleweight with complex details that express both the terroir and the winemaking. With a little earth and a lot of suppleness, it has a long, seamless finish.
Many of you are already familiar with the wines from Maranges’ Domaine Maurice Charleux et Fils. Maranges is located four kilometers southwest of Santenay in the Côte de Beaune, and vintage after vintage, the wines of this domaine have been overachievers. The 2020 Charleux Maranges Blanc falls right in line. It has deep notes of apple and pear, with a touch of Côte d’Or exotic fruit and a lovely beam of acidity that supports its rich fruit–an ideal white wine for the holiday table. Enjoy!
— Paul Marcus
Souls Reaching Their Goal
The remarkable success story of Agnès Paquet continues with her latest releases, including the 2020 Agnès Paquet Santenay Premier Cru ‘Les Gravières.’Farming 13 hectares (about 31 acres) organically, using only indigenous yeasts, Paquet, the first in her family to make wine, is now known as one of the leaders in a new generation of excellent young producers in Burgundy. And I will add that the outstanding price-to-quality relationship of her wines is a true rarity in the region.
This beauty is a little richer, darker color than you might expect, plush on the palate with nice red cherry fruit and a hint of licorice. It will be able to handle all of those diverse Thanksgiving flavors and will truly shine with dark-meat turkey (and if the white meat is dry and boring, have a sip of this wine and you won’t care).
I am breaking the rules by including an Italian wine with all of the Beaujolais and Burgundy–hey, I am the Italian buyer after all–but the 2021 Torre dei Beati Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo ‘Rosa-ae’is just too perfect to leave out. The name Torre dei Beati (“tower of the blessed “) derives from a 14th century fresco in a local church that tells a story of souls reaching their goal through hard work and many tests. This organically farmed estate chose the name because they embrace the same philosophy in their winemaking.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is perhaps most easily described as somewhere between a light red and a more full or serious rosé, and it’s best served cool but not ice cold. The 2021 Torre dei Beati is a great example of these unique wines. It is vibrant with red berry “frutti di bosco” (like a light red) and is lifted by a pleasant stony, mineral zip (like a good rosé). This is an easy-drinking, delicious, and refreshing accompaniment to the Thanksgiving meal.
— Joel Mullennix
Long and Tall
While you’re sweating it out in the kitchen chopping jalapeños for your cranberry sauce or mincing onions for your gravy base, throw a chill on the 2020 Georges Descombes Régnié. Made from 100 percent gamay grown on granite soils, it’s the kind of wine that brings brightness and lift from its shorter maceration time and partial carbonic-fermentation period. At $30, this is my kind of Beaujolais: long and tall and purely, utterly tasty.
On the other hand, the 2019 Joseph Voillot Volnay Premier Cru ‘Les Fremiets’($100) is more contemplative for sure–definitely the kind of wine you’ll want to sit with for a while. A cornucopia of red fruits, orange peel, and spice drawer, all wound together around a tight core of limestone minerality, Voillot’s Volnays offer such clarity in these times of uncertainty. How can you resist?
— Jason Seely
My Kind of Jam
Tasting my way through Paul Marcus Wines’ extensive Beaujolais selection, I’ve learned so much about gamay and its wide range of expressions: from incredibly light and fresh to medium-bodied and darker-fruited. Unless you’re familiar with the producer’s tendencies, you won’t quite know what you’re in for. The 2021 Domaine Chardigny Beaujolais-Leynes was a surprise for me. I didn’t have unreasonably high expectations for it at $27 a bottle, but upon opening it, I could tell even just by the nose that it was my kind of jam.
This wine strikes right down the middle of the gamay extremes. The notes of ripe cranberry and juicy pomegranate give the wine some flesh, while the immediately apparent peppery note and tangy finish counter what could otherwise be an overly fruity wine. (That tangy finish is most welcome in the face of what is to be a heavy, buttery Thanksgiving meal.) It is a great starter wine for those diehard red wine drinkers that refuse bubbles and whites, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself sipping on it throughout the entire evening–it will keep you salivating and ready for the next bite.
While $99 is certainly not the price of an everyday wine, the 2012 Marchand-Tawse Morey-Saint-Denis ‘Pierre Virant’ sure feels like a steal. This producer consistently delivers above its price point, and the 2012 confirms what we knew all along–they just don’t disappoint. Notes of mushroom and forest floor immediately upon opening give way to dried red cherries and the teeniest, tiniest hint of smoky flint. The acid is still fresh and persistent, making the wine quite light on its feet despite packing in so many flavors. The tannins are soft, but present at the finish. If mushrooms or black truffles make an appearance at your Thanksgiving spread, this is a must-have pairing. If not, try it with hard aged cheeses and gravy-soaked turkey … or even better yet, turducken.
— Emilia Aiello
Which Is the Splurge? Which Is the Value Play?
Recently, I’ve been rather delighted by the wines coming out of Marsannay. If you’re looking for value, Marsannay, the northern gateway to Burgundy, consistently delivers wines of quality and character that tend to be approachable in their youth. While they don’t have quite the power or complexity (not to mention the cache) of its Côte de Nuits neighbors, Marsannay wines are accessible and food-friendly, with deep, meaty fruit and ample acidity thanks to its combination of limestone and clay soils.
The 2019 Trapet Marsannay Rouge, at $55, is a relative Burgundy bargain. Aromatic and downy, with a dense heart of red and black fruit that’s tempered by its boost of acidity, this wine can certainly hold its own at the feast. It delivers classic Burgundy characteristics–without the triple-digit price point.
It wasn’t too long ago that you couldn’t find Beaujolais for more than 30 bucks, and shelling out almost 50 bucks for gamay was considered almost obscene–yes, times have changed. Yet Beaujolais is home to some of the world’s most distinguished and talented producers, and the region’s most accomplished winemakers take a backseat to no one.
The 2020 Yann Bertrand Fleurie ‘Chaos Suprême Olivia’(named for Yann’s daughter) comes from old vines (some more than 100 years old) grown on pink granitic soil in the Grand Pré vineyard. A multifarious wine of refinement and distinction, it’s floral, bright, and supremely balanced–graceful and precise, but not without depth and structure. Naturally vinified without any additional SO2, this is undoubtedly worth the $48 splurge it will cost you to delight your guests.
— Marc Greilsamer
At Paul Marcus Wines, we never run out of ideas for your holiday table. Stop by the shop, and we’ll be happy to share them. Happy holidays, and thank you for your patronage.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcus Wineshttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus Wines2022-11-14 18:19:592022-11-14 18:19:59Celebrating Holidays: “Traditional” Thanksgiving Means Burgundy and Beaujolais
Let me let you in on a little secret: It’s getting hot out there. As climate change wreaks havoc on our world in significant ways, it’s also messing with our expectations about wine, and presenting ample challenges to winemakers across the globe. Look no further than the wines of Beaujolais.
Overall, the 2020 vintage in Beaujolais was a relatively smooth ride despite intense heat and is considered an excellent vintage in many respects. It is a “more” vintage, to be sure–high yields, dense, concentrated fruit, and loads of acidity. And yet, while there are numerous fine examples of 2020 Beaujolais, even some of the finest bottles lack the defining lift and focus we’ve come to expect from the region. In other words, many of the wines are good, even great, when looked at in a vacuum of sorts, but they just don’t taste like, you know, Beaujolais.
In contrast, the 2019 vintage was a roller-coaster ride of frost, heat, and hail that severely cut into yields and generally made life difficult for growers. But despite all of that, the 2019 Beaujolais harvest produced wines of great elegance, charm, and complexity with the mineral edge and buoyancy we anticipate from the terroir.
Anthony Thevenet worked with Beaujolais legends such as Georges Descombes and Jean Foillard before setting his own path. Thevenet truly knocked it out of the park with his 2019 Morgon Vieilles Vignes. The fruit for this cuvee comes from a mix of 70-year-old vines located in Douby (in the northernmost part of Morgon) and in Corcelette. These are sandy plots that give the resulting wine a certain finesse and refinement, yet the age of the vines delivers great depth as well.
A balanced, well-integrated wine is like a finely tuned orchestra: There are a lot of different instruments playing, but you don’t hear them individually–it’s a mellifluous sound, not a cacophony of competing elements. The 2019 Morgon Vieilles Vignes is a perfect example of this. The bright, bold blend of red, blue, and black fruit is perfectly balanced by ample acidity and minerality and a few floral and savory notes as well. It’s not a light wine, per se, but it still offers grace and precision. It’s not particularly natty or funky, and yet I wouldn’t necessarily call it “clean” either. All in all, it’s a true stunner that certainly wouldn’t mind a few more years in the cellar.
As always, winemaking remains a tricky balancing act between imparting a producer’s style and philosophy and letting nature do its thing. Climate extremes present more tests for the winemaker, but thanks to ever-evolving winemaking techniques and the knowledge and experience gained over the last decade, the best producers are able to maintain regional characteristics and typicity while still, in effect, taking what nature gives them. Anthony Thevenet has mastered the trick with this terrific bottling.
Dominique Lafon, the legendary Burgundy producer, must’ve raised a few eyebrows when he invested in the Mâconnais more than two decades ago. What would inspire a winemaking superstar based in Meursault–one of the most prized villages in Burgundy and all the world–to venture south into this decidedly second-rate region? Lafon trusted his instincts, and it turns out that, as usual, he knew what he was doing.
Perhaps more than anyone, Lafon, along with longtime winemaker Caroline Gon, helped restore and resuscitate the reputation of Mâcon chardonnay. Once known more as a consolation prize for those who couldn’t afford “real” Burgundy, the Mâconnais today produces wines of prestige and pedigree while still offering great opportunities for the value-driven consumer. Look no further than the wines of Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, which Dominique Lafon founded in 1999.
With no oak influence, loads of bright acidity, and a steely, sleek minerality, you might mistake the 2020 Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine for a Chablis…until you get that pop of ripe orchard fruit and lemon curd that tells you this is, indeed, Mâcon. Lafon gets most of the grapes–all biodynamic–from his highest-elevation vineyard in the region, with nearly 40-year-old vines at an altitude of 350 meters.
An amazing combo of palate-cleansing freshness and deep, complex fruit, this would pair extremely well with pan-seared chicken breast in a white wine, shallot, and cream sauce. And at just over 30 bucks, it offers Burgundian brilliance at an attractive price.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Marc Greilsamerhttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgMarc Greilsamer2022-06-05 17:34:572022-06-05 17:34:57Bottle Rocket: 2020 Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon - Mâcon-Milly-Lamartine
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:
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcushttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus2022-05-02 13:22:272022-05-02 13:22:27Bottle Rocket: Burgundy by David Trousselle
I’ve never been to Corsica, but, man, it sounds like paradise to me. Mountains, forests, coastline, and sunshine–what could be bad? Hey, you don’t get the moniker “Île de Beauté” (Isle of Beauty) for nothing. Oh, and Corsica has a winemaking history that dates back around 1,500 years. Are you in?
The island of Corsica seems to pack enormous diversity into its roughly 3,300 square miles, and that includes culture, cuisine, and topography. (“Mosaic” is a commonly used description.) A semi-autonomous region of France for the last 250 years, it owes as much to the Italians as it does to the French. (It’s actually closer to Italy than to France and was previously under the rule of Pisa and then Genoa.)
Reflecting both French and Italian influences, the wines of Corsica offer entirely distinctive, yet completely recognizable drinking experiences. A combination of warm temperatures, limited rainfall, high elevations, and maritime winds provides prime winemaking conditions, and a range of microclimates yields a dazzling array of wines–from elegant and mineral to fleshy and ripe.
For evidence, look no further than the two most acclaimed Corsican appellations: Patrimonio, in the north, with its chalky clay soil, tends to produce rich, textured, aromatic wines, while Ajaccio, to the southwest, turns out graceful, vibrant wines thanks to its persistent breezes, granite soil, and high altitude.
Abbatucci vineyards in Ajaccio.
The Ajaccio appellation is home to one of Corsica’s most renowned houses, Domaine Comte Abbatucci. Sadly, Abbatucci, founded more than 70 years ago, is still reeling from a massive blaze that destroyed much of the winery earlier this year. We are rooting for a speedy recovery, and not only because they produce some of the island’s most memorable bottlings.
The domaine is run by the obsessively biodynamic winemaker Jean-Charles Abbatucci, progeny of a French Revolution hero–and a man who is said to play traditional Corsican music for his, um, vines. (Ajaccio was the birthplace of another French Revolution hero, by the name of Napoleon.) They offer a dozen or so cuvees, in a wide range of styles.
At Paul Marcus Wines, we’re currently enjoying the 2020 Abbatucci Rosé ‘Faustine,’ made from the sciaccarellu grape. Most likely brought over hundreds of years ago from Tuscany (where it’s known as mammolo), sciaccarellu creates cherry-fruited, gently herbaceous, medium-bodied reds with smooth tannins and notes of black pepper. It also has a particular affinity for rosé, as Abbatucci’s offering shows. The wine is savory, salty, and bright; it would be difficult to find a more refreshing and satisfying sipper, yet it will hold its own at the most demanding brunch table.
If you’d like to experience the heights of Corsican winemaking, we have a couple of bottles each of Abbatucci’s higher-end wines: the 2017 Abbatucci ‘Monte Bianco,’ a sciaccarellu red of immense depth and complexity, and the 2016 Abbatucci ‘Diplomate,’ a stimulating, voluptuous blend of Corsican white grapes.
Up north, in the Agriates (considered by many to be Europe’s only true desert), you’ll find Domaine Giacometti, located in the far reaches of the Patrimonio appellation. Their 2020 Domaine Giacometti Patrimonio Rosé ‘Cru des Agriate’ is made from 75 percent niellucciu and 25 percent sciaccarellu, and it balances a generous mouth feel with a dry, clean finish. (Niellucciu, an extremely close relative of sangiovese, is thought by many Corsicans to be an indigenous grape, but it might have, just possibly, been imported from Tuscany also.)
The 2020 Domaine Giacometti Patrimonio Blanc ‘Cru des Agriate’ is a stony, yet textured vermentinu that ages on the lees in stainless steel. Best of all is the 2018 Domaine Giacometti VdF Rouge ‘Sempre Cuntentu,’ a highly quaffable sciaccarellu that requires nothing but two glasses and a friend.
The Sant Armettu winery is situated in the warm, craggy Sartène region, a lesser-known destination south of Ajaccio. The supple 2019 Sant Armettu Corse Sartène Rouge ‘Rosumarinu,’ a sciaccarellu aged in stainless steel, displays plush, dark fruit tempered by vivid acidity–perfect for succulent braised meats. Made from 100 percent vermentinu, the 2019 Sant Armettu Corse Sartène Blanc ‘Rosumarinu’ is structured and serious, with ample stone-fruit flavors.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 2020 Domaine de Marquiliani ‘Rosé de Pauline,’ a legendary Corsican vin gris that blends sciaccarellu and syrah with a dollop of vermentinu. The result is a feathery, faded-pastel-colored wine with enticing, exotic aromas and a kiss of Mediterranean salinity.
All of these Corsican beauties are available today at PMW, as are several others, including two vintages of Antoine Arena’s Bianco Gentile–full-bodied and lush, yet subtle and sophisticated wines made from an ancient Corsican variety brought back from the edge of extinction. Visit us at the shop to learn more about these unique selections.
An oxymoron? Mutually exclusive? Magical thinking? No, affordable Burgundy really is a thing.
Of course, it is nearly impossible to buy a quality bottle of Gevrey-Chambertin or Puligny-Montrachet for $30 or $40. But improvements in winemaking (with perhaps an assist from climate change) have dramatically increased the quality of wines from less-renowned areas of Burgundy. And though we now taste many fine examples of pinot noir and chardonnay from a wide range of locales, Burgundy remains, for many of us, a unique delight and still provides the greatest expressions of these two grapes.
Here are a couple of whites and reds between $20 and $50 that exhibit the distinctive pleasure and beauty of excellent Burgundy without breaking the bank. Fair warning: They may whet your appetite for some of those more special-occasion wines previously mentioned.
The young and talented Jean-François Bordet comes from a family that has been making wine in the area since the 1590s (19 generations). The wine is classic–vibrant, lively, and textured (but no oak), boasting the distinctive, sea-fossil minerality that makes Chablis and Petit Chablis so unlike any other chardonnay from Burgundy or elsewhere.
For now, the Saint-Aubin appellation–nuzzled up next to Meursault and Chassagne in the southern part of the Côte de Beaune–still flies under the radar of many Burgundy lovers, but don’t expect that to continue for much longer. Here’s what Marc G. had to say after recently enjoying a bottle of the 2016 Colin: “After opening with a hint of reduction, it blossoms into an immensely satisfying, superbly balanced combination of fruit and freshness. Grab your crab crackers, and go to town!”
This jewel comes from one of our great longtime friends, Charles Neal, who imports a remarkable selection of wines from France that just about always offer an exceptional price-to-quality relationship. (He’s also written a definitive book about Armagnac and remains a knowledgeable and gifted music writer.) Maranges is the southernmost appellation in the Côte de Beaune and is beginning to enjoy recognition as an area that delivers first-rate, generously flavored wines deserving of greater attention. Les Clos Roussots is a parcel from south/southeast vineyards at about 1,000 feet. It is a delicious example of the lush, full-fruited wines of the area. All of the Charleux wines are worth seeking out, including the newly arrived 2017 Santenay 1er Cru ‘Clos Rousseau’ ($36), made from 30-year-old vines and offering a touch more minerality from the limestone soils.
Given the prices of Burgundy, it’s rare that I can say, “We have trouble keeping this in stock.” But that has been the story with this wine–multiple customers coming back for multiple bottles, or cases. Mercurey, in the Côte Chalonnaise, south of the Côte de Beaune, can produce wines of great strength and character that bear a resemblance to Pommard. So far, 2018 is proving to be a lovely vintage for red Burgundy, and this charmer from Faiveley shows what both place and vintage have to offer. It has classy, expressive, upfront fruit notes that make the wine immensely appealing right now, but also enough backbone and grip to let you know that there is more to be revealed with another few years in the bottle.
As always, keep an eye out for exciting new arrivals over the next few months, especially as more of the stunning 2018 reds start rolling in. For instance, we’re awaiting the 2018 Auxey-Duresses from organic grower Agnes Paquet, a darling of the three-star Michelin somms in France. Also new in the shop is the 2018 Domaine des Rouge-Queues Santenay ($49), a dark-fruited, earthy, yet supple pleasure.
Everyone at PMW loves Burgundy, and we strive to curate our selections very carefully to offer attractive options from various climats–and at a range of prices. At the highest level, Burgundy can be an almost otherworldly experience (in more ways than one). But thankfully, we can defy some conventional attitudes about the area and show that reasonably priced, quality Burgundy is not a fantasy.
As the holidays approach, our thoughts often turn to bubbly, which makes Champagne appreciation a rather important topic this time of year. Last month, in Part I of our Champagne survey, we discussed how to recognize the three major categories of Champagne producers. In Part II, we will now consider the region’s distinct styles and flavor profiles.
What would the world be like without rosé Champagne? In fact, pink champagne was produced in limited quantities until the late 1970s. However, since the 1980s, the demand for rosé Champagne has taken off, and thankfully, it appears there is no turning back. In addition to the gorgeous pink hue that such wines display, the inherently fruitier and more forward style combined with high acidity also make for very food-friendly offerings.
Although the practice of blending red and white wine to produce a “pink” wine is strictly prohibited under regulations elsewhere in France, in Champagne this method is not only allowed, it is the most commonly used method of rosé production. More specifically, winemakers will add somewhere in the range of 8 percent to 20 percent (usually around 15 percent) of a red still wine–often pinot noir from a well-reputed village such as Bouzy.
A second and less utilized method of production is known as saignée. In this case, a Champagne producer basically does what just about every other winemaker in the world does when making a rosé wine: leave the juice on the grape skins and macerate the fruit in order to extract color. After a period of skin contact and maceration, the wine is bled off (in French, the verb saigner means to bleed) and winemaking proceeds.
The resulting rosé wine often exhibits a darker hue, along with juicier, bolder flavors. Some argue that this style of rosé Champagne ages better than those made by adding red wine, because the flavor compounds are more effectively integrated.
Blanc de Blancs
The second style of champagne, referred to as Blanc de Blancs, is composed entirely of white-skinned grapes. In the case of Champagne, this is almost always chardonnay. And while chardonnay is grown throughout the region, some of the finest examples come from the Côte des Blancs.
The Côte des Blancs lies south of the Champagne capital of Épernay and stretches southward more than 20 kilometers. Here, chardonnay reigns supreme, where it is planted to predominantly east-facing vineyard sites. Over the centuries, each grand cru village in the Côte des Blancs has established a reputation or characteristic style: Cramant for its heightened aromatics and bouquet, Avize for its focus and delicacy, Oger for its fine bouquet and raciness, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for its superior finesse and intensity, and Vertus for its inherent fruitiness and roundness.
In its youth, a Blanc de Blancs can sometimes seem a bit austere or one-dimensional. Fresh citrus, lemon curd, and biscuit are common descriptors. However, with several years of aging, wonderfully complex nuances can develop like toasted bread, grilled hazelnuts, dried flowers, and even salty-savory notes.
Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de Noirs is a (non-rosé) sparkling wine vinified using only red-skinned grapes, which, in the case of Champagne, means pinot meunier and pinot noir. Hardy pinot meunier buds later than chardonnay and pinot noir, and for this reason is most often planted in the more frost-prone areas of the Marne Valley. Meunier-based champagnes will often exhibit more earthy, nutty flavors, along with dried orchard fruits. They pair wonderfully with heartier fare like roasted meats, mushroom-based dishes, and pungent cow’s milk cheeses.
Pinot noir is the variety most often found in Blanc de Noirs. In Champagne, pinot noir generally ripens earlier than chardonnay and pinot meunier and is most often planted in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Bar. Providing body, structure, and complexity, pinot noir-based Champagne reaches great heights in the grand cru villages of Bouzy, Ay, and Ambonnay.
A great example of a Blanc de Noirs from the villages of Bouzy and Ambonnay is André Clouet’s Brut Grande Réserve. Terrific shades of red fruits, roasted hazelnuts, and biscuits showcase the opulence and superb balance of this grand cru Champagne.
This delightful bottle (along with dozens of others, spanning every style) is available at Paul Marcus Wines. Come visit us at the shop to learn more about the wonders of Champagne.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Mulan Chan-Randelhttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgMulan Chan-Randel2019-11-24 23:18:422019-11-25 09:42:43Regional Roundup: A Champagne Appreciation, Part II
Champagne, perhaps more than any other wine region in the world, is recognized for its high-profile luxury brands. Grande Marque (essentially “big brand”) houses like Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, and Louis Roederer are familiar to just about anyone who has ever celebrated with a bottle of bubbly. However, if one looks more closely, Champagne is comprised of an elaborate infrastructure of grape growers, family-owned wineries, and even cooperatives.
Yet, understanding who makes what, and how, is much easier than one might think. The first step is recognizing the three major categories of producers. All you need to do is look for the fine print on the label; a set of two-letter abbreviations will let you know in which category your Champagne belongs. The three most significant abbreviations are outlined below.
NM (négociant manipulant)
These producers buy fruit from independent growers to produce their wines, although many of them maintain their own vineyard holdings in addition. Most of the larger Champagne houses, including Les Grandes Marques, fall into this category. You can identify a producer as a négociant manipulant by the letters NM written in fine print.
Examples of NM producers in Champagne: Krug, Bollinger, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet, Jacquesson, Fleury, Taittinger
An example is Taittinger shown below. Note the term NM in the bottom left-hand corner of the label.
RM (récoltant manipulant)
The wines in this category are commonly referred to as grower-producer Champagne. These producers may only use a maximum of 5 percent purchased grapes in the production of their wines; at least 95 percent must come from their proper vineyard holdings. These bottles will have the letters RM written in fine print.
Examples of RM producers in Champagne: Bruno Michel, Franck Pascal, Georges Laval, Pierre Moncuit, Marie-Courtin, Ulysse Collin
An example is Pierre Moncuit shown below. Note the term RM in the bottom right-hand corner of the label.
Here is another example of an RM producer, Marc Hebrart. Notice the RM designation listed in the middle of the label.
CM (coopérative de manipulation)
A Champagne with the CM abbreviation signifies that a cooperative cellar produced the wine with grapes sourced from its member growers. Perhaps the most famous CM brand is Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, which sources its grapes from more than 4,500 growers and creates a wide array of blends with fruit from across the region. Note the term CM listed on the label of the brand’s memorable prestige cuvee, Palmes d’Or.
Please keep in mind that these classifications are not qualitative ones. There are great NMs, mediocre CMs, and lackluster RMs. There are also a few other designations to recognize, although they are not often found in the United States.
SR (société de récoltants): This abbreviation refers to an association of grape growers, often family members, who share a winemaking facility, but produce wine under their own labels and are not part of a cooperative.
RC (récoltant coopérateur): An RC producer is a cooperative member who sells a wine produced by the co-op, but under its own name and label.
MA (marque auxiliaire or marque d’acheteur): Essentially, MA signifies a “brand name,” one that is not owned by the grower or producer of the wine, but rather a supermarket, hotel, or restaurant chain. MA brands are commonly referred to as BOBs, or “buyer’s own brand,” as well as “private labels.”
ND (négociant distributeur): A wine merchant who markets Champagne under its own name gets the ND abbreviation.
Now that we’ve discussed the different producer categories, stay tuned for Part II of our Champagne survey, which will consider the distinct flavor profiles offered by wines of the region. In the meantime, visit us at Paul Marcus Wines, where we feature a wide variety of grower-producer Champagne from the likes of Georges Laval, Pierre Moncuit, and Ulysse Collin, as well as offerings from the esteemed NM producer Jacquesson among many others.
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cover-2.jpg256512Mulan Chan-Randelhttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgMulan Chan-Randel2019-10-30 21:33:182019-10-30 21:34:55Regional Roundup: A Champagne Appreciation, Part I
Drinking Champagne on a regular basis is something that is regrettably not all that common for many of us. It has a biased reputation for festive or special occasions only. Certainly, price understandably plays a factor here. But the region of Champagne itself, at least in my opinion, should be considered more often, even if you don’t want bubbles in your glass! It was, after all, originally a still wine producing region–and those wines still exist today.
The Coteaux Champenois is an appellation within the region which extends over hundreds of communes and produces excellent still wines. Today, a handful of producers continue the tradition of making both still reds, whites, and roses. For many producers, still wines are made for blending purposes into their sparkling wines. However, some decide to bottle their still wines, as is. Many find the red examples to be most compelling.
So why don’t we see more of these wines available in shops from one of the arguably greatest terroirs on the planet? Limited quantities, low demand, and a lack of marketing generally contribute to this; meanwhile, most of what is produced is simply consumed within the region itself. If you do have the opportunity, seek out these wines and the following producers, such as: Pierre Paillard, Paul Bara, and Jacques Lassaigne — to name a few.
As far as taste, the wines are high in acidity and light in body. This is no surprise since Champagne is known for its typically cold weather. One red we found especially compelling at the shop is Pierre Paillard’s 2012 Les Mignottes Bouzy Rouge for $53. It contains all Pinot Noir from Bouzy’s deep sedimentary soils. Bouzy may be known for its hard chalk soils but small amounts of sedimentary soils do exist, and are ideal for the grape. The wine is highly mineral-driven, fine, and detailed with extremely fresh cherry fruit. This wine is a true standout that any Champagne or Burgundy Pinot Noir fan should consider!
https://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpg00Paul Marcus Wineshttps://www.paulmarcuswines.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Logo_Paul_Marcus_Wines2018.jpgPaul Marcus Wines2018-02-05 07:18:592019-02-23 01:49:22Champagne, Still Wines From A Sparkling Kingdom