Last week in New York, I had the good fortune to attend a tasting of some seriously good French wines. The range of the wines included some absolutely fabulous wines from Burgundy, and specifically from the 2015 and 2016 vintages. A few standouts came up again this week as i needed to fill a few slots on one of my wine lists and i chose to go with these wines. The thing i liked - aside from the apparent quality in the bottle - was the fabulous price and respective values these wine gave me. Now these are not cheap wines, but for 1er Cru and Grand Cru - I was able to add to my lists at slightly lower prices than the items they were replacing, and certainly less than similar items (Chardonnay) from other regions and of similar quality.
Here are my tasting notes on the two standouts...
Domaine Boudin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, 2016
just to clarify, this wines come from France / Burgundy / Chablis / and is Chardonnay from high level quality vineyards designated with the premier cru status (essentially it is pretty darn good chardonnay).
What defines this particular vineyard and why it is prized? To begin with, the Fourchaume "vineyard" is actually not one vineyard, but a collection of climats that are allowed to share the umbrella designation of the famous village or hamlet, nearby. Fourchaume is one of the more well known and recognized of the 17 1er crus groupings as a number fo top producers makes wine from this area. Fourchaume actually includes these vineyards or climats - Vaupulent, Vau Pulan, Les Vaupulans, La Fourchaume, Côte de Fontenay, Dine-Chien, L’Homme Mort, La Grande Côte, Bois Seguin, L’Ardillier, Vaulorent, Les Quatre Chemins, La Ferme Couverte, Les Couvertes.
The other major defining characteristic of this group of vineyards is that they are all stretched along a curving hillside, that is not all that far from the Grand Cru Chablis climates, and shares the same chalky, limestone-rich Kimmeridgian subsoil that defines the Grand Crus. This soil is fairly dry and is actually quite prefect for the Chablis/Chardonnay grapes in this area. The vines are stressed and the soil keeps them from over-producing (limiting vigor), and thus increases the concentration of the wines. The best come from these soils in Chablis.
I found the Domaine Boudin 2016, to be quite extraordinary, and very concentrated in it fruit expression and stone like flavors. This wine is young and has a green, golden hue at the moment. I found mellow yellow apple, and a smooth integrated range of acidity and fruit. Very ripe pear / quince flavors, a touch of phenolic bitterness, but great stone and extracted flavors through out. This comes from older vines and there is no oak used in the wine-making. These guys are making wines form their estate and not buying in fruit. This is artisinal and old-school and freaking delicious.
The second wine I decided to work with this week from Chablis is the Domaine Pinson Grand Cru Les Clos, 2015. Similar to the wine above, the soils in the Grand Cru vineyard are defined by the Kimmeridgian / limestone that is essentially ancient sea-beds containing millions of years of fossilized shells. The Grand Cru vineyard is also broken into seven climats, which are often labeled for specification. The Les Clos climat is definitely the biggest and probably most well-known sections - the reputation is justified by the way - and wines like this one really help to show why.
The Pinson fmaily date back to 1640 (yup, almost 400 years!) in Chablis, and today are led by Charlène Pinson and her father Laurent, who farm some of the most desired parcels in the area. Pinsons were some of the first to estate and vineyard designate their bottlings, and have always been know for superior quality from the top sites. Everything is grown sustainably, as well.
The 2015 Les Clos, is out of sight! Big and rich with vanillin and pear skin on the nose with lovely sweet golden apple flavors riding just underneath. I found this interesting concentration of flavors i called apple candy through the middle of the palate, but the wine is not sweet, just great concentration. Touch of chalk and wet stone, with a little mild oakiness that is very well integrated and stands out a bit through the finish to balance the soft gentle fruit. I gave this wine 4 checks (out of an almost unheard of 5). This is a serious wine.
For the moment these wines are available, but as with all good Chablis from great vintages, they will go quickly. Find 'em, and buy 'em.
Here is a link to a NYTs article on Chablis if you are looking for a bit more information.
Originally proposed in 2015, but held in limbo for final approval due to a moratorium on approvals by the Trump administration, the Petaluma Gap AVA was finally made official yesterday. This is a unique AVA as the major defining character of the regional extension is based on the wind and its constant speed of at least 8 miles per hour through the region. Another interesting aspect of the area is that it gives Marin County a more specific designation for labels than simply using the County designation.
This is an area generally focused on Pinot Noir, with smaller amounts of Chardonnay, and even smaller amounts of other varietals. For fans of Pinot Noir, the grapes from this area are defined by thicker skins but also a longer, and thus slower ripening, growing season - everything great Pinot Noir loves. The wines from here are flavor driven, with great core fruit and long lasting flavors.
Smaller and more defined than the Sonoma Coast AVA, which many feel is a regional designation made for larger producers rather than focused wines, the Petaluma Gap AVA has a limited number of growers with about 2000 acres in Marin, currently planted. There are a number of well established wineries that pull fruit from the broader region - much of it overlapping with Sonoma Coast AVA and even Carneros AVA. With the new designation approval though, it looks like there is plenty of room to possibly grow and help establish this region's identity.
For the complete application and regulations of the AVA - click on this link here.
You can also check out the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Association website here.
This coming Monday's group will focus on wine from Spain. Spain is obviously a very large region with a lot of territory to cover as well as any number of wines. As always lets try and focus on the classics rather than the outsiders, but anything is really ok.
I will have two whites and at least one red open, but have more reds depending on how many others are attending.
In preparation for this tasting I am posting some links below to help familiarize the regions, varieties and other information.
One thing that I am very big on is the podcasts from Levi Dalton, known as the "I'll Drink To That".
They make it very easy to isolate the podcasts you may be interested in through the use of focused playlists. To access the Spain playlist, click here. I would focus initially on episode #264 with Justin Berlin, as it has a bit more breadth for Spain as a region than some of the others.
I am also making the WSET Diploma PowerPoint presentations available on the following links:
Unit 5 Spain - has the entire spectrum for Spain.
For Cava - click here for the non-French/Old World Sparkling wines presentation
And for the presentation on Sherry - click here
I will be continuing with Monday tasting sessions. Anyone interested in joining is welcome and can partake, just need to know in advance.
Due to the nature of my personal studies, I need to frequently taste with purpose, and the Monday Group has been a very good jumping off point for routine and collaborative discussion in this endeavor. Going forward, each Monday evening, I will be opening wines to run through and purposefully taste - either on my own or with whom ever is interested to join.
This will either be at my corporate office in Hartford, CT, or at my home in West Hartford, depending on numbers and who is coming from where.
I will be posting the theme, time and place each week on CTSomm group page on FB, as well as emailed to my various tasting/study partner connections in CT, NY and beyond.
You can also check/save the calendar on my website with the Calendar link to the right in the sidebar.
Let me know if you are interested.
A 25 year drinks industry expert, Brian has worked on just about every side of the beverage business, specializing in wine & spirits education, staff training, creative consulting, and of course service. He lives and works in Connecticut, where the number of working Somm's is limited, but he hopes through the effort of this site and its related events, that will change.
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