Category Archives: Articles

Gravity Exists in Burgundy

In recent memory, prices for Burgundy have seemed to defy gravity—they always rise. The prices at this year’s recently completed Hospices de Beaune auction, the 163rd, actually fell, demonstrating that gravity does exist there. The average price per barrel was €30,839 ($33,642), down 14 percent compared to 2022, but consumers may not notice any difference anytime soon because of the complexity of the market.… Read more

Remembering Mike Grgich: The Man Who Put California Wines on the Map

The wine world lost a giant last month.  Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, the man who thrust California wine onto the world’s stage, died at age 100 at his home in Calistoga in the Napa Valley.

Grgich, more than anyone, is responsible for California’s reputation as a place that could make great wine when his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay took first place at a wine competition that pitted France’s best white Burgundies against upstarts from California. … Read more

My Year in Review: 2023

Choosing the best of 2023 is easy for me—the marriage of both our daughters to men we like and admire. Of course, wine played a role in the numerous celebrations that accompanied the weddings. We uncorked and drank many birth year wines, 1988 and 1992, that I had purchased soon after the kids were born, which reminded me of important lessons that I’d like to pass on.… Read more

Terroir is Alive and Well on Mount Etna

One of things I adore about wine is how it expresses Mother Nature.  The same grape grown in adjacent vineyards and turned into wine by the same winemaking team can taste very different.  Winemakers attribute the differences to the composition of the soil (limestone, clay, or sand) exposure to the sun (do the grapes benefit from the gentler warming of the morning sun or the more intense afternoon sun?),
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Object Lesson in Excellence: E. Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie “Château d’Ampuis” 2019

The Guigal family, the elder Marcel and his wife Bernadette, and their son Philippe and his wife Eve, have always focused on site specificity in the great Northern Rhône appellation of Côte-Rôtie. It started in 1966 when they bottled wine separately from La Mouline, a 2.5-acre vineyard planted with both Syrah and Viognier, in an amphitheater on the Côte Blonde slope of the appellation. Read more

An Awesome Aligoté

Let me get right to the point. The 2020 Aligoté from Domaine du Cellier aux Moines is the best Bourgogne Aligoté I’ve ever had, and I’ve had one from Coche-Dury. Why is it so stunning? Firstly, this Aligoté, labelled “Sous les Roches,” comes from a vineyard in Montagny planted in 1945.… Read more

Another addition to the Chianti quality pyramid: tasting Rùfina’s Terraelectae wines

Federico Giuntini Masseti, president of the Chianti Rùfina Consorzio, says that the purpose of Terraelectae – Chianti Rùfina’s new top-tier category- is to highlight the special character of the Sangiovese-based wines from Rùfina’s unique terroir. The producers hope the category will allow Chianti Rùfina to emerge from Chianti Classico’s shadow and be considered a top Tuscan DOCG, like Brunello.… Read more

Maison Louis Latour Made Outstanding 2020s

The 2020 vintage in Burgundy, currently on the market, is the third hot—temperature wise—vintage in a row.  It’s also a “hot” vintage judging from some critics’ reviews and retailers’ enthusiasm.  Hot vintages are tricky, especially in Burgundy.  The good news about growing seasons with hot, sun-drenched days is that the wines have ripe flavors and lack green, unripe ones and the accompanying palate-searing acidity.  … Read more

Aligoté: Burgundy’s Other White Grape

White Burgundy is made from Chardonnay, right?  Well, mostly.  There’s another white grape in Bourgogne, Aligoté, that makes zippy, energetic wines perfect for summertime, and ones that are — I might add — are mostly affordable.  Not an afterthought, Bourgogne Aligoté is treated with respect by top end producers, such as Coche-Dury, whose $300+ per bottle rendition is definitely not in the “affordable wine” category. … Read more

Bells Up: A Tiny New Oregon Estate

With only a 600-case annual total production, Bells Up is tiny, but their wines tell me their imprint will be huge.  Bells Up is a musical term, and since I know little about music, I will quote from their website: “‘Bells Up’ refers to a dramatic moment in classical music where the composer instructs French horn players to lift the bells of the instruments up and project sound with maximum intensity. … Read more

2019 Burgundies: A Mixed Bag

While consistency is rarely a word used when describing Burgundies, the 2019 Burgundies present the consumer with an even greater-than-usual stylistic variation.  The usual suspects explain the diversity of the wines:  Frost, poor flowering, and heat.  Frost, which affected areas almost capriciously—some vineyards lost 40 percent of their grapes, while adjacent ones were spared—reduced the crop in many appellations. … Read more

What am I Drinking Now? Domaine Louis Jadot 1985 Bonnes Mares

Louis Jadot 1985 Bonnes Mares                                    98

 

Chambolle-Musigny is home to two grand cru vineyards: Musigny, whose name was appended to the village’s original name in the nineteenth century, and Bonnes Mares (the latter name is almost always written with a hyphen between the words Bonnes and Mares, but at Louis Jadot they prefer the spelling without it, as you can see from the photo of this wine’s label).… Read more