Eric Asimov’s article in The New York Times this week, “12 Everyday Bottles for Wine Lovers”, is a savvy list of versatile, food-friendly wines you should keep stocked around at all times. Paul Marcus Wines currently is carrying several of these producers and types of wine recommended, including the following: 2010 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett $26 2013 Merkelbach Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese $24  2013 Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Riesling $27 2013 Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Gruner Veltliner $25 2012 Felsina Chianti Classico $24 Enjoy!

Have you seen our Spanish neighbors lately? Nah, I think they got tired of our late night shenanigans and moved across the bay.

Roses at Paul Marcus WinesThis time of year here at Paul Marcus Wines we are down right Rosé crazy! We live, breath and well uh.. drink the stuff like it is going out of style. And if being fanatical about Rosé is wrong, then we don’t wanna be right. There is something about the crisp and refreshing nature of Rosé wine, not to mention it’s hugely versatile food pairing capability, that makes us all warm and fuzzy like a troop of giddy schoolgirls.

And just when we thought our passion for pink couldn’t get any stronger, we’ve gone and outdid ourselves. Currently PMW offers nearly 50 Rosés from countless appellations all over the world! A grand parcel of prime real estate in the front of the store is and  will be dedicated to Rosé mania throughout the summer. It’s a thing of sheer beauty.

More Roses at Paul Marcus Wines

It’s a constant game of Tetris trying to make room for all the great Rosé we taste. Just recently this plethora of pink pleasure packed pests decided to play not so nice in the sandbox, essentially banishing their long time neighbor Spanish whites, to an entirely different section!

Now you may be asking yourself a question asked by many of our customers. Isn’t the Rosé category way out of style and aren’t they all sweet and of questionable quality? You are not alone in this realm of thinking. Even though delicious dry and high quality Rosé has pretty much always been produced, it is unfortunately in most peoples minds been lumped into the same category as your Mother’s Mateus and your Grandmother’s White Zinfandel. And when you think about it it’s not all that surprising. Beringer, a well known mammoth of a winery from California, practically made their entire fortune by churning out over one hundred thousand cases a year of their affordable sweet blush. It’s been burned into the masses minds that Rosé can’t be anything but the sweet plonk of days past.

Somebody drinks this stuff, right?

Somebody drinks this stuff, right?

Blush makes you beautiful, doesn't it?

Blush makes you beautiful, doesn’t it?

Fortunately PMW has unbelievable access to the finest wines in the world. We are clobbered every Spring with a multitude of hand crafted Rosés made by producers who seek to fortify the reputation of Rosé as a world class wine that should always be considered when you are making your selection for your Friday night party or better yet Saturday barbecue. We wouldn’t be doing right by these hard working pink wine artisans if we didn’t succeed in spreading our undying love for Rosé. So there we are, constantly urging our patrons to “think pink” and witnessing ridiculous amounts of Rosé walk out our very door every single day. We are proud knowing that bone dry and highly satiating Rosé is being prominently featured all over the globe on wine lists and retail establishments.

I suppose we would be leaving a stone unturned if we weren’t to explain just why we are so damn excited about this particular wine category.

Rosé wine is basically a pink potion made by bleeding or pressing juice from red grapes (the color comes from the contact with the grape skins) or by blending portions of red wine and white wine together. It’s a process that can coax some of the most delicate and pretty aromatics possible from nearly any variety of black-skinned grapes.  So what does this mean in terms of the flavor of the wine and it’s practical application? Well in a nutshell, you kinda are able to get the best of both worlds! You can attain the fresh and bright acid driven character of great white wine plus the highly desirable red fruit and secondary flavor characteristics of great red wine. You can even impart phenolic content to the wine. Yes, Rosé can have tannin too!

Because of this harmony of red and white wine attributes, Rosé can go beautifully with many foods that most might only pair with either a red or a white wine. Their generous fruit and staunch acidities make them matchable with a vast array of dishes. Have you ever been out to dinner at a nice restaurant and everyone at the table orders drastically different dishes, and the host is struggling to choose a wine that can fill the tall order of being tasty with Chicken Caeser Salad, Seared Rare Tuna and Grilled Ribeye. Rosé, along with Riesling and Champagne by the way, might be their huckleberry!

And whats more is that Rosé is made in a wide variety of different weights, from lighter bodied quaffable styles to full bodied deeply textured styles. This means that while Rosé can obviously be sipped at your fourth of July barbecue it can also be enjoyed in front of a cozy fire in the dead of winter, in other words all year round. Any season is Rose season here at PMW and no matter what time of year we always have some tasty pink wine on deck.

The last and certainly not least reason why we love drinking Rosé so much is because, its just so damn easy to drink. After a long day of tasting red wine being hit over the head with heavy, extracted, or tannic wines, Rosé seems perfect cleanse the palate and take our minds off the daunting task of deciding which of the ten Pinot Noirs we tasted are worthy enough to be featured in our humble store.  The same way many use a cold beer to relax after a hard day at work.

If our passion for pink wine isn’t obvious by now, we encourage you to come on down to the shop and see for yourself how dedicated we have been to putting bottles of Rosé into our customers hands for decades.

With that in mind we would like to give you a peak at what Rosés we have been especially excited about lately. We’ll have you know that this is just a mere glimpse of what we offer and theres plenty more where that come from.

Have you seen our Spanish neighbors lately? Nah, I think they got tired of our late night shenanigans and moved across the bay.

Have you seen our Spanish neighbors lately? Nah, I think they got tired of our late night shenanigans and moved across the bay.

Arnot-Roberts Touriga Nacional Rosé-California $27 
“New wave pioneer Arnot-Roberts strikes again with this delicious Rosé made from Touriga Nacional and a splash of Tinta Cao, grown in the rocky and volcanic soils in Clear Lake. The nose shows fresh strawberry and blood orange, while the palate is bright with great acid and a savory saline finish. Very limited production.”

Division Pinot Noir Rosé- Willamette Valley, Oregon $24
“The wine is showing floral and spice nose with savory and wild strawberry aspects. The palate mineral rich, like wet rock, and intense in strawberry and Rainier cherry. The wine is light and crisp and has an intense wild pink salmon color. Out of the gates and drinking very well, but will likely evolve coming months and gain in complexity.”  190 cases made.

Domaine Collote Pinot Noir Rosé- Marsannay, France $21
“As soon as the grapes arrive at the cuverie, they are pressed, then fermentation and “élevage” is in stainless steel in order to keep all the fruit of this wine and preserve its freshness and youth. The Marsannay Rosé, soft and fruity, is backed with good strength and liveliness.  It rosé color has red currant hues. The aroma evokes freshly harvested fruit and  peaches.”

Domaine du Bagnol Grenache, Mourvedre, and Cinsault Rosé- Cassis, France $29
“The Rosé is produced from several parcels that comprise slightly less than 7 hectares of vineyards.  The vineyards are clay and limestone, situated on a gentle slope with a north – northwest exposure.  The blend is Grenache (55%), Mourvedre (31%) and Cinsault (14%).  Production tops out at about 40,000 bottles per annum; approximately 6000 bottles are allocated to the US market.”

Ameztoi Rosado di Hondurabbi Beltza- Getariako Txakolina, Spain $22
“The pink sibling of Ameztoi’s flagship white, this vibrant rosé is made from a mix of red and white indigenous grapes and is bottled with a little residual carbon to give it a light spritz. Fermented in stainless steel. Candied red fruits combine with a lime infused edge makes this a wildly intriguing rosé. The bottle will not last long!”

Graci Rosato di Norello Mascallese- Etna, Italy $20 
“Vessel cement tanks, no malolactic fermentation. Five months of contact with fine lees, natural filtration. One month in bottle before release. Pale salmon pink. Very elegant and understated, with pretty red whole berries Palate: Harmonious and sublime, exquisitely balanced throughout. Ripe berried and saline finish.”

Please remember we offer 10% off any twelve bottles of wine. This can save you some coin when you are putting together a case of Rosé for your next weekend event.

Cheers and thank you to our loyal patrons.

Thanksgiving Wines

Thanksgiving WinesThis Thanksgiving, we took the guesswork out of wine shopping for you and created a special section filled with some of our favorite bottles. Whatever your palate or price point, your turkey is sure to be in good company with any of these wines.

We have plenty more recommendations that we couldn’t fit on the shelf–feel free to ask us for a personalized pairing!

Sparkling:

N/V Gaston Chiquet Tradition Champagne, $50
A classic Champagne with rich, toasty flavors balanced by lively acidity
N/V Ettore Germano Sparkling Nebbiolo Rose ‘Rosanna,’ $35
Unique, gorgeously hued, and brimming with elegant red fruit flavors
N/V Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara Rose, $13.99
Delicious and easy with tart rhubarb and strawberry notes–great with cranberry sauce!

White:

2013 Donnhoff Riesling, $25
Aromatic with great acidity, lots of stone fruit, and a hint of smoke
2011 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Clos du Chateau, $29
An excellent value in white Burgundy, with great precision and minerality and tart green apple flavors

Red:

2012 Valle Dell’Acate Il Frappato, $19
Light, bright, and refreshing, with tasty strawberry notes
2011 Hofgut Falkenstein Spatburgunder Spatlese Trocken, $22
Fantastic light-bodied German Pinot Noir with intriguing earthy and herbal character
2012 Jane et Sylvain Bourgogne, $30
Killer red Burgundy with classic Pinot Noir red fruit and mouthwatering acidity and minerality
2013 Yann Bertrand Fleurie, $24
One of our favorite wines of the year–light, aromatic, and bursting with great Beaujolais flavor
2103 Succés Vinicola Cuca de Lllum, $17
An unusual, vibrant, and delicious natural Trepat from Catalunya that’s almost too easy to drink
2013 Julien Sunier Reigne, $27
Complex and serious Beaujolais with juicy fruit and a touch of spice
2011 Camus-Bruchon Savigny-Narbantons Premier Cru, $40
Excellent balanced and complex old-vine Burgundy
2011 Domaine de la Cote Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills, $45
Seductive, aromatic medium-weight California Pinot Noir
2010 Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru, $90
Impeccable balance, clearly articulated flavors and great precision–quintessential Gevrey-Chambertin.

Part I

1. Why Burgundy?

The great wines of Burgundy satisfy the body and the soul. This is not to say other wines, indeed many other wines, don’t; but the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of the Cote d’Or do so in a unique and inimitable way. But it’s not really about the varieties here; it’s about the specificity of the land. The song of the grapes is nowhere bettered than in the vineyards of Burgundy. The medium is the message here, and the medium is the earth.

And the wines sing with subtle gusto and a surprising finesse-filled force. It is, in some final analysis, the complexity and the generosity of the wines of Burgundy that makes them my favorite wines. The music enters the heart and mind simultaneously. The emotional and aesthetic commitment the best wines ask is stunning and it is precisely because they ask us to feel and speak that they reach so deeply into our hearts and minds. The parallel, of course, is that the old vines reach equally deeply into the limestone and marl to retrieve the inner harmonies of the land.

Whether notes or letters, Burgundy generates a dialogue, indeed it generates language.

Burgundy is a place, and its heart, the Cote d‘Or, is only thirty miles long and about half a mile wide. You could walk it in a day, though it might take longer because you would likely be; as I have been, happily distracted by the peace and the beauty of the vines lacing around the old stone houses like green and gold scarves.

And because of the power of the Burgundian terroir – the sun, slope, and soil, among other things – the earth’s soul as it were, is also in every bottle. And this is how we come to truly know Burgundy, or any wine, and that is by drinking it, by being open to its seductive and haunting pleasures: the place-ness of Burgundy is in every bottle, and while it is always best to visit the wine regions we love, Burgundy is shipped; thanks to all the gods, to the far reaches of the world, if in miniscule quantities, including Paul Marcus Wines.

Burgundy, it seems, allows us a bit of time travel.

2. Where in the world is Burgundy?

The Cote-d’Or is in central eastern France. If you happen to be driving from Paris, allow about three hours. If you’re going in the right direction, and have a hankerin’ for Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, you should be heading southeast through Auxerre, toward Beaune, the wine capital of the Cote-d’Or. If a steely Chardonnay is what you want then Chablis is the place for you and you need only go about two hours along the same route, this time exiting at Auxerre. The Cote Chalonnaise, Macon, and Beaujolais are all a bit farther south along the same route.

3. Is Burgundy difficult to figure out?

Yes. And no.

Its essential nature is easy, and the wines are complex, but Burgundy is the most complicated of France’s wine regions and it is also, in some ways, the most difficult to understand.

For example, Karen MacNeil, author of the very useful The Wine Bible, lists eight grands crus in Gevrey-Chambertin, but Allen Meadows, author of the Burgundy-only newsletter, Burghound, claims there are nine, while the long time Burgundy aficionado Clive Coates says; “There are eight or nine grands crus…” I’m going with nine because you will find nine different names out there in the market. To wit, you will find both “Charmes-Chambertin” and “Mazoyeres-Chambertin” in any (sensible) wine shop that deals in Burgundy, though they have been listed by Matt Kramer as “one and the same vineyard.”

Furthermore, a few of the premier Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin have alternate names, yes, alternate names; for example Petite-Chapelle can also be called Champitenois and Issarts, Plantigone.
This, in a region where there are over eighty growers of the famous 117 acre Grand Cru vineyard of Clos Vougeot. In theory we could have eighty wines in the shop that all say “Clos Vougeot” though some might be labeled, “Clos de Vougeot.”

Easy, right?

4. How do I drink Burgundy?

Fill your glass. Repeat.

Only slightly more seriously: drink your Burgundy s l o w l y.

It is vital to drink the best wines over time. You want to interact with a great bottle of wine for as long as possible. No good wine will show you everything in thirty minutes, let alone allow you to understand all it has to offer.

The better the wine, very generally speaking, the more complex the wine and so, the longer it takes to discover. I think it’s best to give the particular bottle of wine you’re drinking plenty of time to open up, and, if you like it, get a few more bottles to drink over the years.

5. Will Burgundy age?

I’ve heard it said, in wine classes no less; that Pinot Noir does not age. This is maddening because so many pinot noirs do age; indeed they do so fabulously well. I’ve had wonderful, even fruity Pinot Noirs from the 1950s that were stunningly complex while still offering primary flavors. Furthermore, many white wines from Burgundy can age effortlessly for decades.

6. Why are the wines of the Cote d’Or so dang expensive?

Because it’s a tiny region and the farmers who tend the vines have very little wine to sell and there is no (significant) way to expand production. A producer might only make one barrel or less (25 cases) of any one wine. That’s twenty-five cases, or fewer, for the whole world. Not a lot to go around. Here’s a breakdown of the various levels of Burgundy to give you an idea of the rarefied stratification of the Cote d’Or:

Burgundy that is simply labeled “Bourgogne” the lowest level of classified Burgundy (either red or white) makes up 52% of the total wine production. This is wine that can come from anywhere in the legally demarcated region of Burgundy. Village level Burgundy makes up a further 35% of the total production and the wines have only to come from within the village boundaries. That means 87% of all the Burgundy produced in the Cote d’Or is not even vineyard-specific. Which is remarkable because Burgundy is all about the relationship of the site and the bottle. Premier Cru Burgundy makes up another 11%, meaning the wines labeled Grand Cru make up a microscopic 2% of the total wine production.

Part II

Getting Specific: Gevrey-Chambertin

A name from Gallo-Roman times, Gabriacus, first noted in or around 640 AD, for the village of modern-day Gevrey-Chambertin, a wee tot of a village in the heart of the wine Mecca of Burgundy. Gabriacus, a town where vines have been grown, grapes harvested, wine made and drunk for many, many centuries. In fact 120 vine stocks were found in Gevrey-Chambertin in 2008 dating from the 1st century BCE. Now that’s history.

In 1847 Gevrey appended the name of its most illustrious vineyard, Chambertin, which is named after the monk Bertin (Champ de Bertin). It seems somehow fitting that over the past forty years the population of this village has only increased by about 100 people (the population in 2008 was 3,084 and in 1975 it was 3,001) because the practice of wine growing and winemaking has changed very little over the years.

So there are, depending on whom you ask, thirty-three or thirty-four Grand Crus in Burgundy’s Cote-d’ Or, 8 or 9 of those, again depending on who you ask, are in Gevrey-Chambertin.

Gevrey-Chambertin is the largest of all the Cote’s villages and is also the place where, again, depending on who you ask, the highest expression of Pinot Noir is reached on Earth.

So where can I get great Burgundy?

Duh. Paul Marcus Wines always has a great selection of world class and affordable Burgundy! To get more specific information about any of the following wines, come in and ask one of the staff members at the shop.

Here, at a 30% discounted rate, is The Super Summer Six-Pack:

(a) 2011 Dom. Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “La Combe Aux Moines,” 90.
(b) 2011 Marchand-Tawse Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Fontenys,” 100.
(c) 2011 Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin “La Justice,” 83
(d) 2009 Dom. Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin V.V., 90.
(e) 2009 Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin V.V., 80.
(f) 2004 Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin “Coeur du Roy,” 125.

The full list price is $568.00, but for this offer you can have these gems for $395.00!
A huge savings for some of Burgundy’s best wines, so treat yourself!

Further Offerings from the Rack & Cellar:

1. 2011 Dom. Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “La Combe Aux Moines”
90. / 12 available
2. 2011 Dom. Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “Petits Gazetiers”
85. / 6 available
3. 2011 Dom. Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin
55. / 6 available
4. 2011 Marchand-Tawse Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Fontenys”
100. / 12 available
5. 2011 Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos Prieur”
84. / 12 available
6. 2011 Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin V.V.
75. / 12 available
7. 2011 Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin “La Justice”
83. / 12 available
8. 2011 Dom. Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin
98. / 11 available
9. 2010 Sylvie Esmonin “Cote de Nuits-Villages”
40. / 4 available
10. 2010 Dom. Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “Charmes-Chambertin”
180. / 6 available
11. 2009 Dom. Bachelet “Cote de Nuits-Villages”
60. / 2 available
12. 2009 Dom. Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin V.V.
90. / 15 available
13. 2009 Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin
54. / 12 available
14. 2009 Sylvie Esmonin Gevrey-Chambertin V.V.
80. / 7 available

15. 2009 Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin V.V.
90. / 15 available
16. 2006 Dugat “Charmes-Chambertin”
434. / 3 available
17. 2006 Dugat Gevrey-Chambertin
128. / 5 available
18. 2006 Dugat Gevrey-Chamberitn “Lavaux St.-Jacques”
287. / 3 available
19. 2006 Denis Mortet Chambertin
675. / 3 available
20. 2006 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru”
248. / 3 available
21. 2006 Burget Gevrey-Chambertin “Mes Favorites”
75. / 12 available
22. 2006 Lecheneaut Gevrey-Chambertin
70. / 3 available

* The 2005 vintage deserves a special note. It is one of the all-time great vintages in Burgundy in the last two decades. Though you can enjoy them now, these wines will age gracefully for another twenty years – if you can wait that long! These are powerfully structured wines though they do not lack finesse or subtlety. The ‘05s are disappearing fast and this is a great collection of world-class wines. Don’t miss them!

23. 2005 Guy Castagnier “Charmes-Chambertin”
145. / 3 available
24. 2005 Guy Castagnier “Latricieres-Chambertin”
155. / 2 available
25. 2005 Confuron-Cotetidot “Charmes-Chambertin”
151. / 3 available
26. 2005 Confuron-Cotetidot “Lavaux St.-Jacques”
123. / 8 available
27. 2005 Confuron-Cotetidot “Mazis-Chambertin”
161. / 12 available
28. 2005 Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin “Coeur du Roy”
189. / 2 available
29. 2005 Dugat-Py Gevrey-Chambertin V.V.
142. / 12 available
30. 2005 Guillard SC Gevrey-Chambertin “Platiere”
62. / 12 available
31. 2005 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru”
218. / 3 available

Oregon Wine Dinner

Orogen Wine DinnerJoin us and Northwest Wines at BayWolf Restaurant on Monday, June 23rd at 6:30 pm for an Oregon wine tasting adventure. Visiting winemakers Dick & Nancy Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards and Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem Vineyards will be sharing a range of their wines paired with foods inspired by the Pacific Northwest.

For $76 (plus tax and gratuity), enjoy six courses and many wines (full menu here) and the ability to purchase your favorite wines of the evening at a discounted rate. The event is almost full, so to book your table, call BayWolf now at (510)655-6004.

The wines range from light, delicate, and aromatic whites and rosés (Chehalem’s lean, mineral Riesling; Ponzi’s soft, floral Pinot Gris) to rich yet balanced savory Chardonnays to lush, ripe and complex Pinot Noirs. The meal is rounded out with some lusciously sweet wines–Sineann’s delicately berry-flavored “Sweet Sydney” Zinfandel rosé and Elk Cove’s “Ultima” ice wine, with honeyed notes of stone fruit.

If you’re a fan of Oregon food and wine, you won’t want to miss this dinner!

Few grape varieties divide the wine-drinking masses more than Pinot Grigio. The fact that it has been constantly struggling with a very public identity crisis benefits neither vine nor consumer. Not actually its own distinct variety, Pinot Grigio, like Pinot Blanc, is actually a color mutation of the much more universally beloved Pinot Noir. If Pinot Noir is a high-maintenance but friendly beauty who strives for perfection in all she does, Pinot Grigio is known as her plain, timid little sister who tiptoes through life trying her best not to get on anyone’s bad side. To make matters worse, she must follow in the footsteps of her earlier-born twin sister, the more sophisticated and worldly Pinot Gris. Despite all odds, however, Pinot Grigio managed in the early twenty-first century to find an accepting table in the lunchroom, where she has enjoyed popularity among an affable crowd ever since.

To understand Pinot Grigio, we must first understand its provenance. New grape varieties can come into existence in a number of ways–two existing varieties may be bred in a nursery, or cross-pollinated in the vineyard, or, sometimes, a new vine will turn out to have slight differences from its parent plant. If the vine grower finds the traits of the new plant to be desirable, he or she might take a cutting to propagate new, similar plants with the same characteristics, known as clones. With more than 1,000 registered clones, Pinot Noir is often considered to be a highly genetically unstable grape variety, but a more likely explanation for its clonal diversity is its ancient status. In existence for around 2,000 years, this grape variety has had more time than most to branch out and experiment. Pinot Gris made its first appearance some time around the early 1700s, popping up separately in Germany and France within just a year of one another. It finally found its way to Italy at the beginning of the nineteenth century, where it changed its name to Pinot Grigio and reinvented its personality.

Today, the Gris/Grigio divide can be a bit confusing. While they are indeed the same grape, they tend to present themselves quite differently. In France, Pinot Gris is at its best in Alsace, where it takes on the luscious character of ripe peaches and apricots, often with a hint of smoke, developing rich, biscuity flavors with age. However, as Pinot Grigio in north-eastern Italy’s Veneto region, the greatest achievement of these fresh and lightly fruity wines is being voted “least likely to offend.” Seriously: a Google search for the phrase “Pinot Grigio” yields 9,400,000 results, while the phrase “Pinot Grigio inoffensive” turns up 9,300,000. But how can a grape whose best attribute appears to be neutrality garner such praise in France, Germany, and Oregon as Pinot Gris? (It is worth noting that in the new world, lighter, more commercial, and inexpensive styles of this wine are typically labeled as ‘Pinot Grigio,” while the more serious, flavorful bottlings boast the name ‘Pinot Gris.”)

With certain practices in the vineyard and cellar, the Pinot Grigio grape can indeed produce wines worthy of higher praise than “inoffensive.” If acidity is preserved and yields as well as sugar levels are kept to a minimum, varietal character is given the chance to shine. Because the name “Pinot Grigio” alone is enough to sell wine to the general populace, most is produced by big companies that don’t feel the need to try very hard–hence the reputation. But with a bit of care and attention, the Italians are quite capable of coaxing bright and even complex flavors from the much-maligned grape. The region of Alto Adige does this with the most consistency, although some exciting examples are now coming out of Friuli Venezie-Giulia–Pinot Grigio’s best-known home–as well.

One of the best Friulian Pinot Grigios we have discovered is made by a winery called Scarpetta, owned and operated by Bobby Stuckey, M.S. and Chef Lachlan Patterson, the owners and masterminds behind James Beard Award-winning restaurant Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado. Scarpetta’s wines are created to complement the Friuli-inspired cuisine of the restaurant, and they achieve this mission well. The Pinot Grigio, surprisingly, is the standout in their lineup, which also includes a Sauvignon Blanc, a Friulano, a Barbera, and a sparkling Rosé. Planting vines in cooler sites accounts for impressive balance of acidity and alcohol, and a brief period of skin-contact followed by six months of lees aging lends body and texture atypical of the often watery beverage.

On the nose and palate, this wine is anything but bland, with aromas of white flowers, peach, apricot, and hints of minerality. Dry and crisp, with just the right amount of acidity, flavors of stone fruits, lavender, honey, lime, melon, pear, white flowers, and minerals make this Pinot Grigio perfect to drink on its own: refreshing, but never boring. Naturally, a wine created by restaurateurs is going to make for some great food pairings as well–try it with proscuitto, sashimi, and lighter dishes based on chicken, fish, and pork.

To all of the Pinot Grigio nay-sayers out there: we suggest you give Scarpetta a try. And for the already initiated, this will be an easy way to step up your wine game and see what this oft-underachieving grape is capable of at its best. If you’ve spent your life shunning Pinot Grigio, make a space at your lunch (or dinner) table. You just might find that you’ve been a bit judgmental without really getting to know her.

2012 Scarpetta Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie IGT, $16

Mother's Day Wines

Mother's Day WinesCrafting a great bottle of wine can be quite similar to raising a family. From shielding sensitive young grapes in the vineyard from pests and disease to controlling unruly fermentations in the cellar, certain winemakers already know that the process of growing up depends on both nature and nurture. This Mother’s Day, celebrate the mothers in your life with a glass of wine made lovingly by a winemaker who is also a mother.

All wines listed are 15% off now through Sunday, May 11th,

FEATURED WINEMAKERS
and wines available at PMW:
Cathy Corison
Corison Winery
Napa Valley, California
*Winery offering free tastings for mothers this Sunday!
1998 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $150
2003 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $135

Elisabetta Foradori
Azienda Agricola Elisabetta Foradori
Trentino, Italy
2010 Foradori Teroldego, Trentino, Italy, $27

Vanessa Wong
Peay Vineyards
Sonoma Coast, California
2010 Peay Pomarium Estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, $59

Heidi Schrock
Weinbauerin Heidi Schrock
Neusiedlersee-Hugelland, Austria
2010 Heidi Schrock Weissburgunder, $28

Milla Handley
Handley Cellars
Anderson Valley, California
2012 Handley Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, $23

Tracey Brandt
Donkey & Goat
Berkeley, California
2011 Donkey & Goat Syrah, Fenaughty Vineyard, El Dorado, $36
2012 Donkey & Goat ‘Five Thirteen’ Red Wine Blend, El Dorado, $31
2013 Donkey & Goat Sparkling Chardonnay ‘Lily’s Cuvée,’ Anderson Valley, $30

Laura Brunelli
Gianni Brunelli Le Chiuse
Montalcino, Italy2004 Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino, $68
2010 Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino, $30

Clelia Romano
Colli di Lapio Romano Clelia
Campania, Italy
2011 Colli di Lapio Romano Clelia, Greco di Tufo ‘Alexandros,’ Campania, Italy, $28
2012 Colli di Lapio Romano Clelia Fiano di Avellino, Campania, Italy, $30

Christina Saahs
Nikolaihof
Wachau, Austria
2012 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner ‘Hefeabzug,’ Wachau, Austria, $31

Domaine Dagueneau - Pouilly-Fume

The Producer

Didier Dagueneau, maverick of the Loire Valley, produced some of the greatest Sauvignon Blancs the world has ever known. Unfortunately, his life and his career as a vigneron were finished far too soon, in a manner which, though devastating, wouldn’t have been much a surprise to those who knew him. A perennial thrill-seeker and risk-taker, Didier, who also enjoyed professional motorcycle-racing and later, dog-sled racing, met his untimely end at the age of 52 when the ultralight plane he was piloting crashed shortly after landing in September of 2008. During his tenure at the helm of Domaine Dagueneau, Didier adopted a similarly unorthodox attitude in both the vineyard and the cellar.

Domaine Dagueneau - Pouilly-Fume

The Region: Pouilly-Fumé

The wines of the Pouilly-Fumé AOC are prized for their minerality and perfume, with a smoky aroma (hence the name ‘Fumé‘, French for ‘smoked‘) often making an appearance in the best examples, Dagueneau’s not withstanding. This is largely owing to the presence of flint (which, combined with clay, is known locally as ‘silex‘) in the region’s famed limestone soils. These top-tier wines can age longer than your average Sauvignon Blanc–five to ten years for many, and even up to twenty for Dagueneau’s finest bottlings.

Production

Didier was not afraid to break the rules, and those who consume the wines of his domaine will be handsomely rewarded by his experiments. Low-yields were an established constant, but the boundaries of viticulture and viniculture were constantly pushed, from organic viticulture to natural fermentations to experimental barrels. Unlike most Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Dagueneau’s wines have always been raised in oak barrels, though the size, shapes, and proportions of new to neutral barrels has varied with both vintage and vineyard.

Didier may no longer be with us, but his children, Charlotte and Benjamin, have taken over the domaine and continue to produce stunning wines with clarity, precision, and freshness that wine critics agree would make their father proud. The most recent releases, now available in the store, are no exception.

The Wines

The 2010 Blanc Fumé de Pouilly, Dagueneau’s “entry level” cuvée, is intended to be a very direct, pure, and typical example of Sauvignon Blanc from a typical Pouilly-Fumé vineyard. It truly is a spectacular example of what wines from this AOC should aspire to be–brimming with chalky minerality and racy citrus.

The 2011 Pur Sang, perhaps the Domaine’s most popular cuvée, is bursting with aromas of citrus, quince, and fine minerals, with mouth-puckering acidity punctuating the intense and ethereal palate. The grapes come from chalky limestone soils that are almost entirely lacking in silex.

The 2011 Buisson Renard, grown on silex soil and formerly the most mineral of the Dagueneau cuvées, is tamed by oak ageing to form a rich, opulent wine held together by a firm, flinty backbone.

Finally, the 2011 Silex is the “Grand Cru” of Dagueneau’s wines. Highly sought-after year after year, this wine can be slightly more austere than its contemporaries, due to lower clay content in the soil. This may not be the right wine to pop open tonight, but those who are patient enough to wait for this stunning wine to reach its peak will reap significant benefits. For the slightly-less-patient, we also have the 2010 Silex in stock.

A Map of the Jura Region

Jura

Jurassic Wines: They’re Not Just for Dinosaurs Anymore (New Arrivals from Jura!)

Tucked in between Burgundy and Switzerland, the Jura wine region has, until recently, somehow managed to remain off the radar of most American consumers. It’s sort of understandable–this area tends to produce the favorites of wine geeks in search of something new and different. However, a bit of understanding can lead to appreciation by any wine drinker for these unique and often ‘funky’ wines.

A Map of the Jura Region

Jura’s unusually cool climate allows the production of refreshingly crisp whites with mouthwatering, tart acidity and ultra-pale reds that astonish with their unexpected complexity. Sparkling wines, known as Crémant du Jura, thrive here as well, taking advantage of high acidity levels in the grapes to make wines that are similar to Champagne–but a lot more affordable. Easily recognizable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir beckon the uninitiated with their familiarity, a gateway to the more obscure grapes of the region–Savignin (known elsewhere as Traminer), Poulsard, and Trousseau.

Vin Jaune

The most distinctive, and probably best-known wine style of Jura is Vin Jaune, or ‘yellow wine‘. To make Vin Jaune, very ripe Savignin grapes must be harvested from low-yielding vines. They go through the usual white wine routine–conventional fermentation, secondary malolactic fermentation…seems pretty standard, at first. But here’s where things get crazy–the wine is then transferred to old Burgundy barrels that are filled incompletely, and placed in an area that is well-ventilated and therefore subject to temperature fluctuations. This is basically the opposite of how a winemaker would want to store any other type of wine during the vinification process, but for Vin Jaune, this is how the magic happens.

Owing to these unusual conditions, a thin layer of yeast (known as the voile) forms on top of the wine, similar to the flor in Sherry. Then the winemaker must sit patiently for at least six years, as the wine slowly oxidizes, protected by the voile from turning to vinegar. This patience is eventually rewarded with the resulting dry, aromatic, nutty wine–often with aromas and flavors of exotic spics such as turmeric, cardamom, and ginger, walnut, almond, apple, and sometimes honey, with a deep yellow-orange appearance.

For best results, Vin Jaune should be allowed to breathe for a while before serving, and paired with its neighbor and natural ally, Comté cheese.

The Wines of Jura

Cremants du Jura

A thorough exploration of the wines from the Jura region would comprise a wide variety of flavors and styles. It’s always nice to start off with some bubbles, and Domaine de Montbourgeau’s Crémant du Jura is an excellent choice. This 100% Chardonnay sparkler is light, fresh, and bursting with racy citrus acidity, making for the perfect aperitif or a great bottle for brunch.

Whites

To ease in to Jura whites, it’s best to start with a good old-fashioned actual white wine, before moving on to those zany orange ones. Michel Gahier’s 2009 Chardonnay ‘La Fauquette’ is a lovely example, brimming with Chablis-like minerality with undertones of dried apricot. Faint nutty aromas hint at the slightest bit of oxidation.

For an introduction to Vin Jaune, look no further than Jacques Puffeney’s 2006 Arbois Vin Jaune. Monsieur Puffeney, known to his peers and admirers as “the Pope of Arbois“, is one of the most well-known and revered vignerons in the region, and for good reason. This orange wine is produced only from the finest barrels after eight and a half years of aging under voile–two years longer than the minimum requirement. This enticing wine shows intense oxidation, dripping with honey, almond, and hazelnut aromas, dried apple flavors on the rich and creamy palate, and a surprisingly bone-dry finish.

Reds

It’s not just the whites of Jura that are worth talking about–the reds are pretty fascinating themselves. Often receiving less attention and shorter aging from their white counterparts, Jura reds (made from Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir) differ wildly from what most American palates are accustomed to consuming, in that they are so light as to frequently be mistaken for rosés, yet highly complex on the nose and palate, filled with floral and peppery aromas and often a healthy dose of terroir–or less euphemistically, funk.

Trousseau, the most powerful of the Jura red grapes, is often used to add structure and color in a blend alongside Poulsard–but it can undoubtedly shine on its own as well. Michel Gahier’s 2012 Trousseau ‘Les Grands Vergers’ demonstrates intense, hearty blackcurrant fruit, cherry candy, earthy, smoked tea, and marked peppery and gamey notes, softened by hints of violet perfume.

Another bottling from Michel Gahier, 2012 Ploussard (a confusingly similar synonym of Poulsard) is much paler in color than the Trousseau, but is by no means lacking in flavor. The nose is lovely and floral, reminiscent of roses and ripe, juicy strawberries and cherries. The palate, however, is no delicate flower. Tannin and minerality give great structure to this faintly tinted wine, making it a “serious” wine that also happens to be very, very easy to drink. Another wonderful example is Jacques Puffeney’s 2011 Poulsard, which echoes many of the flavors in Mr. Gahier’s bottling, which may have something to do with the fact that they are neighbors. The Gahier leans a bit towards a more fruit-forward style, with the Puffeney shows a little more earthiness.

Some Jura Wines Available at Paul Marcus Wines

All of these Jura wines (and many more!) are now available on our shelves. Whether you are just beginning to explore this intriguing appellation, or have been drinking Jura wines since before they were cool, there’s definitely something for everyone in this un-sung, under-appreciated, and frequently under-valued region.

Burgundy Wine

Let The Burgundy Conversation Begin…

Burgundy Wine

Photo Credit: Wine Folly

[CA] Mark, let’s talk about Burgundy, and the white wines from the Côte de Beaune.

[MM] (drinking) Uh, sounds good, where should we start?

[CA] Well, I remember a quote from a book I read some time ago. Let me share it with you. I think it will set the discussion – and eventually, our glasses – in motion!

Something about Burgundy excites spirituality. Where Napa Valley restores hope that beauty has a future in the modern era and Bordeaux simply makes one want to live, it is after savoring a fine Burgundy that even the most skeptical are willing to concede a higher power.

[MM] Was that from Matt Kramer’s book?[CA] Indeed. Your memory is congruent with your consumption…. The paraphrase above is from the elegant beginning to Matt Kramer’s brilliant book Making Sense of Burgundy.

[MM] Hey, Chad – I admire Kramer’s book as much as you do, but spare me the spiritualist folderol! If gods there be, then let him/her/it/they drink what they like. We wine-loving humanists need concede only that land, vines, and people combine in this little swatch of France to make two of the truly great wines on earth: red and white Burgundy.

[CA] Hey, it’s not my spiritual “fold-your-own”! I was just pointing out how, for many of us, Burgundy is at the apex of wine wonderfulness. Burgundy, both the whites and the reds, are arguably the wines that most clearly embody a particular plot of land. So before we talk about the wines, let’s quickly look at the region of Burgundy: The region is as complex as the wines it births!

[MM] You’re right – Burgundy is complex – so on with the show!

Burgundy basics

Where is Burgundy?

[CA] Generally speaking, the region of Burgundy follows the Saône river north from Lyon through the hilly vineyards of Beaujolais and on through the Mâconnais to Tournus, where it parts ways with the river and veers east into the Côte Chalonnaise. It then continues northeast, roughly paralleling the wiggly river, and into the glorious heart of Burgundy: The Côte d’Or. We may divide this “slope of gold” into the Côte de Beaune and The Côte de Nuits. It is in this 30 by one-half mile ridge that we find the very best Burgundies. Continuing northeast we come to the last great Burgundy region: Chablis.

[MM] Nice little geography lesson, Chad. My only quibble is that you’re perpetuating a misconception about the name of that storied slope. Although “Côte d’Or” does indeed translate literally as “slope of gold”, the name is really a contraction of “Côte d’Orient”, or “slope facing east”. Still, given the prices of some of the wines, there’s some poetic truth in calling it the “slope of gold”! Quibbles aside, how about one of my expertly drawn maps to help folks get the picture? Now stop snickering, Chad!

[CA] I’m not snickering at you, I’m snickering with you!

(Mark draws a pair of maps.)

[CA] Great!

Which grapes make up most wines from Burgundy?

[CA] Nothing difficult here: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Although other grapes, like Gamay and Aligoté, are used in Burgundy, we will deal here with wines that are exclusively Chardonnay for the whites and Pinot Noir for the reds. In some cases, the Burgundians blend Gamay with Pinot Noir to produce inexpensive, everyday wines called passe-tout-grains.

[MM] One of the great things about Burgundy is that it’s wine from single varietals (with the relatively uncommon exceptions that you mention). There’s a beautiful purity – at least in the best wines – that you don’t get in wines blended from several varietals. That purity is an especially clear “lens” for terroir – the specific soil, exposure, and mesoclimate of the vineyard comes through the wine in a particularly clear way.

[CA] I agree with your image of the lens and that there is in fact a unique quality that comes from a wine made with a single varietal. I must, however, add to your generalization of “blended wines”. There are many spectacular blended wines from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Bordeaux, for example, that have terroir, because terroir includes culture, and I would argue, are to some extent necessitated by culture –

[MM] Okay, let’s stay focused….

[CA] Oh, alright…pass the halibut over here, will ya’?

What should I eat with white Burgundy?

[MM] White Burgundies of all types go well with fish, pork, and chicken. The richer whites from the Côte de Beaune are divine with richer fish, such as salmon, scallops, lobster, and crab. In addition, anything with a butter or white sauce will play off the wine beautifully. If you’re doing the cheese thing, aim for richer cow’s milk cheeses, such as Brillat-Savarin. And as I’ve learned from you, Chad, white Burgundy is a great way to transition from Champagne to red wine during an extended, multi-course dinner.

[CA] It is surprising how versatile the white wines from Burgundy are! There are so many microclimates that the amazing Chardonnay grape can achieve a nearly unlimited range of weight, acidity, and complexity. There are also hundreds of fine producers, making the options even more bountiful. It is exciting! I agree with you about the fish opportunities – wonderful accompaniments to Chardonnays from the Côte de Beaune! If you are having an older wine or a particularly rare or fine wine, I say have it by itself! Wine is food after all….

The Burgundy bull’s eye

How do I begin to understand Burgundy?

[CA] Good question. Thinking & drinking. First, think of an archery target. Think of the concentric circles getting smaller and point values getting larger as you go toward the center. The outermost circle of the target represents the wines simply called Bourgogne (blanc or rouge), in which the fruit can come from anywhere in the Burgundy region. Bourgogne accounts for 56% of all the wine in Burgundy. But how will I recognize one of these wines in a retail store? Another fine question. Following each level of quality there will be a “Shelf example.”

[MM] Here’s a Bourgogne Blanc (white Burgundy) that we sell a lot of, because it’s cheap ($8.99), light, crisp, and easy to like. It’s made by Lamblin & Fils, a producer who happens to be in the Chablis region of Burgundy. As you explain, the Chardonnay grapes could come from anywhere in Burgundy, but in this case, they happen to come from around Chablis.

Shelf Example: 2001 Lamblin Bourgogne Blanc

[CA] Next come the Appellation Communale wines, where the fruit must come from the specific place-name (called a “commune” in France) on the label. (A vineyard name is permitted, but the letters must be significantly smaller than the name of the commune.) The Appellation Communale wines, which account for 30% of the wines of Burgundy, correspond to the second concentric circle on the archery target – they come from smaller geographical areas and are worth more, both in cost and quality.

[MM] Wine geeks sometimes call these “A.C. wines” in order to indicate that they’re more specific than ordinary regional Bourgogne but not as specific as Premier Cru wines from specific vineyards. By the way, in Europe, a commune is not a place where hippies hang out and name their kids after flowers. It’s the smallest local political division, usually comprising a town and the surrounding countryside, and bears the name of the town. Here’s an A.C. white Burgundy from the commune of Meursault.

Shelf Example: 1996 Chapelle Meursault

[CA] The next level of quality comes with the Premiers Crus, which use the name of their commune followed by the name of their vineyard. The Premiers Crus account for only 11% of all Burgundy. They correspond to the third concentric circle on the target – a tightly defined set of areas and similarly elevated cost and quality.

[MM] Now we’re getting specific! Burgundy is all about the pyramid of specificity – from region to commune to individual vineyard. The terroir of each vineyard is capable of producing a wine that tastes unique, and chasing that uniqueness is part of what makes drinking and learning about Burgundy so rewarding. Here’s aPremier Cru white Burgundy from Les Charmes vineyard, located in the commune of Meursault. (It’s worth mentioning here that almost every Burgundy vineyard is divided among lots of owners. Thus, one easily could run into a Meursault Les Charmes from a different producer than the one shown here.)

Shelf Example: 1998 Boillot Meursault, Les Charmes

[CA] Exactly right Mark, there are a lot of wines from Les Charmes vineyard, which is of particular interest for someone who wants to do a more advanced white Burgundy tasting – one that includes Meursault Les Charmes bottlings from different producers. This type of tasting can be very educational (and somewhat expensive), but one will ultimately come away with a sense of the vineyard itself.

[CA] However, there are exceptions to the seeming rule that a vineyard name on the label means a Premier Cru wine in the bottle. For example a wine labeled Meursault Desirée is not a Premier Cru vineyard but is a particularly good vineyard.

[MM] Fortunately, the punctilious French labeling laws come to the rescue here. A Premier Cru wine always will say “Premier Cru” somewhere on the label. But your observation is a valuable one – Premier Cru is a general indication of higher quality, but not all Premier Cru wines are better than all A.C. wines. One still needs to know something about the producer and vineyard in order to make an educated guess about the quality in the bottle.

[CA] The next level in quality is truly a leap to the top shelf: the Grands Crus. These vineyards nearly always represent the very highest quality wine available in Burgundy – the bull’s eye in the target. There are 30 Grand Cru vineyards. Each has its own appellation. The Grands Crus account for a mere 3% of all wines from Burgundy.

[MM] Grand Cru wines are freaking expensive (usually $75 and up) and almost always require considerable bottle aging before they’re ready to drink. But boy can they can be amazing – and of course at that price, they ought to be! (As wine writer Stephen Tanzer has said, “for that amount of money, I expect a wine to give me an orgasm and wash my car.”) Anyway, here’s a Grand Cru white Burgundy from the vineyard Le Montrachet. This vineyard straddles the Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet communes, which lie directly south of Meursault.

Shelf Example: 2000 Lafon Le Montrachet

What other indications might tell me about the quality of the wine?

[CA] Great question. I always look for the best producers and the finest vintages. And the price. The price almost always goes up according to the quality of the producer, vintage, and vineyard site.

[MM] Of these factors, I think that producer is most important. Certainly vintage is significant, especially if you intend to age the wine for a long time. But the “best” vintages” aren’t always the best wines for current drinking. In addition, good producers usually make good wine in less than ideal vintages. And at this point, we should remind readers that we at Paul Marcus Wines pride ourselves on helping our customers make sense of the various producers, vintages, and appellations.

[CA] Great point! It is true that there are great wines made in most vintages, usually by the best producers, producers who know their vineyards and who are willing to cut away some of the early fruit to ensure the remaining fruit gets ripe. It is also worth mentioning, as you indicated, that the Paul Marcus Wines staff drink these wines and have come to know the producers we represent! As evidenced tonight!

Some Côte de Beaune appellations

[CA] Let’s look at a few of the wonderful Appellations Contrôlées in the Côte de Beaune:

[CA] Chassagne-Montrachet: There are a total of 864 acres of vineyard in Chassagne-Montrachet. Of this, 836 are commune-level and Premier Cru. The remaining 28 acres are Grand Cru. The Grand Cru vineyards are split between Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. The hyphen adds to the confusion. It was added as a marketing device (with great success) to sell all the wines from Chassagne and Puligny as an extension of the very great single vineyard of Le Montrachet. Chassagne-Montrachet wines of all levels should have richness and a noticeable mineral component from the clayey-chalky soils.

[CA] Puligny-Montrachet: There are a total of 606 acres of vineyard in Puligny-Montrachet. Of this number there are roughly 248 acres of Premiers Crus (14 different vineyards) and 77 acres of Grands Crus (4 different vineyards); the remaining vines are commune-level. The wines from Puligny-Montrachet taste similar to those from the adjacent Chassagne-Montrachet, but the best Puligny wines show a bit more elegance and breed.

[MM] Meursault: This appellation’s relatively large 1,079 acres of vineyards lie just north of Puligny-Montrachet and just south of Volnay. The wines from Meursault are a little richer and softer than those from neighboring Puligny-Montrachet, which makes Meursault a great “bridge wine” for people who are used to drinking richer California Chardonnays and want to try white Burgundy. Meursault’s 89 named vineyards include no Grands Crus, but Les Charmes,Les Genevrières, and Les Perrières are the vineyards that come closest to Grand Cru quality.

[MM] St.-Aubin: “Aubin”, in my Americanized pronunciation, rhymes with “oh man” – as in, “oh man, are these good wines and good values!” The 585-acre appellation sits in a side valley that extends westward from Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. St.-Aubin is a more modest appellation than the others listed here – meaning that the wines are a little lighter and a little less complex. But from the right producer, the wines have a graceful balance of lively acidity and vibrant fruitiness, and they’re often cheaper than other Côte de Beaune wines of comparable quality. I’ve especially enjoyed wines from the two Premiers Crus vineyards that abut Puligny-Montrachet: En Remilly and les Murgers des Dents de Chien (“big rocks shaped like dog’s teeth” – a mouth-watering vineyard name if ever there was one).

Drinking white Burgundy

Chad & Mark spend hours tasting some new releases from Château de Puligny-Montrachet.

[MM] One fine day in May, our good friend Nicholas Griffin from Beaune Imports brought by a bunch of newly-minted 2001 white Burgundies from the Domaine du Château de Puligny-Montrachet. This producer has made very good wines for many years, which we’ve happily sold for many years. In 2001, however, things changed. Winemaker Etienne de Montille, from one of the best producers in all of Burgundy, Domaine Hubert de Montille, has taken over in the vineyard and in the cellar. The changes include a transition to biodynamic farming, fermenting with local, indigenous yeasts, and unfiltered bottling of the wines. The results of these changes are spectacularly delicious wines that more accurately reflect their terroir.

A few weeks later, Nicholas generously dropped off more bottles of these wonderful wines so that Chad and I could taste through them at our leisure and write them up for this newsletter. Amidst halibut, sea bass, mango, and several cheeses, we polished off the better part of six bottles over six hours. Yes, the wines were that good. Following are our favorites.

Our tasting notes: 2001 Château de Puligny-Montrachet whites.

Bourgogne Blanc ‘Clos du Château’ ($19):

[CA] 1st note: If this is the lowest level of fruit in the Côte then Whoa! Build a moat because I’ll drink it all.
2nd note: Pale straw. Pears picked from a tree in full sun. Fresh mango notes with mineral punctuation and slight hints of sun-dried raspberries. The finest Bourgogne blanc I have tasted in years!

[MM] Citrus and pear aromas set the stage for a beguiling “acidity trajectory” on the palate – the wine enters mellow, rises in pitch, and then falls away gently and gradually. This is amazingly classy Bourgogne blanc.

St.-Aubin En Remilly ($35):

[CA] 1st note: A truly great bottling from this vineyard.
2nd note: Minerals mixed with river-washed stones. The summer hay color belies the richness of the middle palate and the long and complex finish.
3rd note: …the long and complex finish. Details: Because it will get better in 2-5 years and is a great value, it is a perfect wine for the cellar.

[MM] Stony minerals and crisp apples on the nose. Great finesse and follow-through on the palate – soave fruit wrapped around a brilliant core of minerality. The wine fattens up nicely after it’s been opened a couple of hours – don’t drink it too quickly!

Puligny-Montrachet ($40):

[CA] 1st note: Wow! This “AC” wine has some serious “DC”.
2nd note: Lightly toasted, buttered sourdough notes provide a great foundation for the sliced ripe pear on the mid palate. A dollop of crème fresh and blood orange accentuate the complexity, range, and depth of this wine. Tangerine notes ring around a single smooth stone garnish and the mineral chords that will give this wine longevity.
3rd note: Before going out on a wire a tightrope walker would do well to taste this wine. It would give her a helpful and delicious idea of balance. Details: This is the best wine for current drinking, along with Bourgogne blanc, but will age well for 5-15 years. Really.

[MM] Great, galloping minerality. So much topography here – peaks and valleys, alpine vistas above timberline. This wine walks the tightrope between fruit and minerality. (Which one of us said that first, Chad?). It’s perfectly balanced right now. I want to drink it right now. Oh, I am drinking it right now. Lucky me!

Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Chalumeaux ($50):

[CA] 1st note: Whirls & worlds of richness and chalk laced with hazelnut, un-toasted pine nuts, and fresh white corn. A Meyer lemon garnish suggests the terrific acidity and structure that keeps the wine suspended.
2nd note: It is, above all else, the mining the vines did and the layers of soil and sub-soil they met along the way that give this wine its unique class. A truly great wine!
3rd note: This Chardonnay is the BMW 7-series of wines: it has incredible luxury and comfort while still driving like a racecar. Details: Absolutely drinkable now. But you could wait a few years for this (unless you just can’t help it. I understand.) Will age with grace and dignity for 15 years.

[MM] Undeniable Premier Cru breed – almost unbearably high-toned. Thirteen extra overtones. This is a young wine. If the A.C. Puligny-Montrachet walks the tightrope between fruit and minerality, then this wine dances it. If, like Chad and me, you’re an intrepid explorer, drink it now. But set aside at least one bottle for a decade or so. Great wine.

For those who want more [PS from CA and MM] If we haven’t answered all your questions about Burgundy, then check out our first article on Burgundy in the November 2002 Paul Marcus Wines newsletter. It covers some of the same ground as our dialogue here, but with an emphasis on red Burgundy.

Better yet, come visit the store and ask any of us to tell you more about Burgundy and more about the wines from Burgundy that we’re jazzed about right now. Everyone who works at Paul Marcus Wines is a Burgundy lover, and we’re always happy to share our knowledge and enthusiasm.

Back-to-School Burgundy Special

If you’re ready to have as much fun as Chad and Mark, then take advantage of our Château de Puligny-Montrachet special through September 15th. When you buy any six wines from this producer, we’ll take 10% off. This deal includes everything from the $19 Bourgogne on up…. Besides the 2001 wines mentioned in this newsletter, we have wines going back to 1997, plus a Pinot Noir from Monthelie. We also have a tiny quantity of Grand Cru wines – please inquire.

(by Chad Arnold and Mark Middlebrook)