Two days, twenty people total at a dear friend’s family home in the woods of Connecticut.
Obviously, if I have anything to say, there will be an accent on French wine. And there will be Burgundy. And bubbles are in order!
Some value options to offset the cost of Burgundy, aimed at those thirsting masses that cannot tell their Beringer White Zinfandel from their Bogle Merlot. But they still feel the love, as every wine below should show just lovely.
After a week of consideration, these are the winners:
x4 NV Les Granges Paquenesses Crémant du Jura – 100% Chardonnay, organically farmed, indigenous yeast, what more do you want? A delicious value.
x1 NV Benoît Lahaye Brut Nature Champagne – Quickly becoming one of my favorites; and this is exciting, as the bottle we’ll have is the 2013 release, which is allegedly gaining steam and coming along nobly. Can’t wait! It had an enthralling savory tarragon aroma the last time I’d tried it a year ago, which just worked wonders with caviar.
x2 2013 Carl Ehrhard Rudesheim Klosterberg Riesling Feinherb – This is just about everything I want in my $20 Riesling, an impeccable balance which still proves ravishing. Truckload of crushed granite on the nose, honeysuckle, pleasant Sweet Tart sour acid finish. Go Rheingau!
x1 2011 Méo-Camuzet Hautes-Côtes de Nuits Clos St Philibert blanc – This vineyard is a stone’s throw 1well, you’d have to throw the rock pretty hard to break through the trees, but: you get the idea from Park Place-prime Côte de Nuits real estate. Bill Nanson did an excellent vineyard profile some time ago. It’s 10% co-planted with Pinot Blanc, which I hypothesize really shines in 2011, as the Pinot Blanc minerality seems extremely pronounced. Almost graphite, chalky minerality on nose and palate and even finish. On release it offered an almost mandarin finish and chunky, honeyed, slightly oaky aromas on glass residuals, but alongside a fresh and a pleasingly bitter finish. Tasted a couple months ago, it’s become far more saline and pungent, but in an alluring mineral way that almost evokes Chablis. A great partner to freshwater fish. The finest Philibert I’ve had since 2008 — even surpassing 2010 (haven’t sampled 2012 yet). I think it’s one of the finest values in oaked white Burgundy. If you don’t like this wine, we just can’t be friends.
x2 2012 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc – Declassified Meursault. Greater details, food pairing post with recipe forthcoming! I’m addicted to this.
x2 2010 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Tuffeaux – My favorite producer in the Loire for Chenin. This is not the equivalent of the mythic 2008, but age has propelled this to a very serious, noble place since release when it felt a bit flabby. Moving away from tarte tatin and into a more lean, mineral entity.
x3 2012 Domaine du Jas Côtes du Rhône rouge – Let’s fruit it up. Value, organic red — the domaine is certified organic since ’98. Bit of barnyard to keep it real. 60-40 Grenache / Syrah; stainless. Crowd-pleaser. This sells ridiculously well.
x1 2010 Domaine Thenard Givry 1er cru Cellier aux Moines – Seriously undervalued, serious Côte Chalonnaise juice. Does the fact that Henri IV loved it make you want to drink it more, or does it just make it seem farty? You probably don’t care either way, but you’ll love it if you just leave this earthy wine enough air time to let its fruit and texture unfurl. Smoky blueberry, granite, earthy sweetness. Oh God, what it will become with age.
x1 2010 Michel Juillot Mercurey 1er cru Clos des Barraults rouge (magnum) – The last magnum I’d had of this was absolutely worrisome. It just kept getting better and better into day two. I wept a bit for the last dregs. Charcoal and red raspberry liqueur and cranberry. We followed the winemaker’s advice, and had it with a bacon-wrapped chicken roulade. We stuffed ours with a pecan and porcini stuffing, and while the recipe was a royal pain in the ass that I swear I will never do again so help me God, which I completely underestimated and left us eating at the ungodly hour of 11 PM, it ended up being absolutely worth the wait, and I am ashamed to admit I am planning ways to redo the recipe in a shorter time. Really, really looking forward to this bottle.
x1 2012 Michel Gahier Trousseau Arbois Le Clousot – Have yet to try; have heard lovely things, and my buddy is dying to see what all the fuss is about.
x1 2007 Domaine François Gaunoux Pommard 1er cru Les Rugiens – Well prior to the change in new oak regimen at the Domaine (which Claudine insists is now no longer a concern). The last bottle of this (tasted last winter) really needed some air, then became a silky wonder.
Let’s do this.