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Latest Blog Entries

Pure Burgundies from New Star Chantereves

by jb-truax

Chantereves is an absolutely brilliant tiny negociant in Savigny-les-Beaune. The Chantereves team is the very outgoing and charming – Tomoko Kuriyama and her shyer and more reticent husband, Guillaume Bott. Tomoko went to wine school in Geisenhem and became the estate manager at Freiderich Altenkirch in the Rheingau. In addition to her winemaking and vineyard work at Chantereves she does vineyard management at Chandon de Briailles. Her husband Guillaume Bott worked at Etienne Sauzet and became the winemaker at Domaine Simon Bize, where he still works. Their partnership at Chantereves started in 2010. They make wines of stunning purity and focus in both red and white. Their approach has resulted in remarkably expressive organic wines that are very clean and free of flaws unlike so many "natural" wines. They adapt and adopt the best of modern winemaking techniques in an ever-evolving style that emphasizes the true nature of the vineyards where the grapes were grown. These are indeed wines of great transparency. A friend commented, "This is like a Riesling winemaker making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You really can see and taste what is behind it all." We are delighted to be one of the only two retailers to sell Chantereves wines in the USA. Cheers, John Beaver 2014 Chantereves, Bourgogne Blanc is from Marange. Pale straw color, a nose of citrus and stone fruits and white flowers, great cut and mineral notes. Good mouthweignt for a Bourgogne Blanc - a very pure and clean and full of energy. This is for drinking over the next five years. This wine was 100% barrel fermented and aged, all in used barrels. No new oak. $29.99 2014 Chantevreves Saint Romain is stunning! Saint Romain is a cool climate and the grapes did not always fully ripen - these days they do. The result is that the wine has filled out and is richer than it used to be. This has lovely crunchy fruit like white peaches, rich mouthfeel and a crisp finish. It has loads of dynamic tension and verve. An energetic and vibrant wine that could improve with age over the next few years but will certainly get drunk way before (at least at my house); buy this wine – it will disappear! $39.99 2014 Chantereves Bourgogne Rouge is an underclassified Haute Côte de Beaune from the village of Paris L'Hopital. There is an unusual granite soil there which gives wine the structure, acidity and tannins. This wine was fermented with 100% whole clusters (1st time this vintage) and aged 100% in barrels but saw no new oak. There is minimal sulfur and intervention. Pale alizarin crimson color, very lively spicy and piquant nose, great cut and acidity on the palate. This is the kind of wine that makes you salivate and will be delicious with a wide variety of foods. A lovely simple Red Burgundy that I enjoyed last night with a beautiful sautéed Tautog with clams. $29.99 2013 Chantereves Volnay is beautiful pomegranate red, aromatically spicy and lively fruit on the nose. This was also fermented in used barrels with 100% whole clusters and very low sulfur. This wine is very forward and expressive and is really designed to be drunk young although it has all of the requisite components (tannin, fruit and acidity) to age for 10 years or so. $49.99

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Vintages and Barbaresco

by jeff

I’ve recently been drinking a fair bit of Barbaresco and thinking about vintages. I’ve noticed how much this region of Piedmont can teach us about vintages and what they mean. Here are five lessons: It used to be about heat. Now it’s about cold. In the not so old days, the bad vintages were the ones where it was too cold to ripen grapes. Now, with global warming and better farming, the problem is the opposite, and the “bad” vintages are the ones where the grapes get too ripe. In the 1990s, the warmest vintages were hailed as the greatest ones. In the 2000s, warm vintages like 2003 and 2009 were considered bad. Funnily, it took U.S. commentators a few years to figure out that this transition took place. So we have a vintage like 2000, that was hailed by Wine Spectator as a 100 point vintage in Piedmont. But that turned out to be an out-of-date method of assessing vintages. 2000 was a hot year and the wines were too ripe. That is not a good thing. This is something that seems obvious to all of us today, but it is easy to see how a mistake like this was made 15 years ago. Site can matter more than vintage. Barbaresco is known for having both cool sites (like Paje or Ovello) and warmer sites (like Pora or Rabaja). It depends on which way the vines face, and whether or not they are close enough to be influenced by the river. In years like 2009 or 2011 – both on the warm side – this inter-site difference really is important. When I tasted the line-up of 2011 Produttori Crus, I couldn’t help but feel that the warmer sites produced wines that were marred by the heat of the vintage. The cooler sites, on the other hand, produced utterly brilliant wines. Sub-regions matter more than regions. According to any vintage chart for Piedmont, 2010 was an exquisite vintage, and 2011 was a weak one. This is generally true. But for Barbaresco, exactly the opposite is true. In the Fall of 2010 it rained both in Barolo and Barbaresco. In Barolo, they pick a little bit later, and the grapes had plenty of time to dry out from the rain. But in Barbaresco they had to pick soon after the rain. The grapes were still slightly diluted. For Barbaresco – as long as you avoid the warmer sites – 2011 really was better. There is more to a vintage than “good” or “bad”. Glossy magazines like to award vintages “scores”, but this puts too much emphasis on how a vintage “rates” compared to other vintages. Sometimes a vintage truly is great (2001 in Barbaresco) or truly is a flop (2002). But otherwise, vintages are mostly just different, and you can appreciate them for their different qualities. The better 2011s have great ripeness and tannic structure. 20 years from now, wine-lovers will be praising the great Asilis and Montestefanos, for example. But these days I find myself drinking more 2012s. No, they mostly won’t be famous wines in 20 years, but right now they have great freshness and acidity, and I love drinking them! Take vintage reports with a big grain of salt. This puts the first four rules all together: A vintage report is just a very general snapshot. It’s useful for perusing a wine list at a restaurant when you don’t know many of the wines and the sommelier can’t help you. But otherwise you’ve got to dig deeper. Does the vintage report address the sub-region in question? What about the specific site? Or the producer? The vintage was only scored 82…does that really mean I should avoid the wines, or does it mean the the wines are good on the young side? In wine, you can never rely on generalities! Cheers, Jeff

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Castello di Rubbia

by susannah

Here's what's simple about the wines of Castello di Rubbias from Friuli: they're delicious and perfect for summer, whether you want a medium-bodied white wine with floral and mineral notes, a meaty red wine to go with BBQ, or an exquisite orange wine to blow everybody's minds. But that's about all that's simple about them. The wines come from Carso, an Italian (and Slovenian... more on that later) region with a slew of grapes, both local and French. The climate is influenced by both the Alps and the Mediterranean, with a strong north wind in the mix as well. And the rocks! The region gives its name to the strange geology found here, characterized by very thin, red, iron-rich soil over a limestone shell that protects numerous caves, sinkholes, and underground streams below. If you've been to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, you've been inside a karstic formation. Neat stuff. And the winemaking here ping-pongs back and forth between super-modern, ultra-clean wines and those made with millennia-old techniques of extended macerations and aging in amphorae with no sulfur. All this makes Carso a moving target, not easy to understand. Consequently, the area oscillates in and out of importance, floating on a restless ebb and flow in popularity. But Castello di Rubbia's wines stand out sharply against this chaotic background. Their vineyards have made wine for four hundred years, and the 13-ha family-run estate (founded in the '90s) draws deftly on the deep traditions (native grapes, indigenous yeast, working by hand), while judiciously incorporating modern innovations (like temperature control) that help the wines to express those fascinating terroirs. A note on the labeling: Carso stretches into Slovenia, and many growers tend vines on both sides of the line (the border here was somewhat arbitrarily set in 1947, not fully reflecting local culture and tradition). But recent EU labeling accommodations permit growers to label their wines "Carso–Kras," to include both the Italian and Slovene names for the combined region. Hence the mouthful on these labels! Cheers, Susannah Castello di Rubbia, Carso-Kras Malvasia, 2012 $29.99 There are over a dozen distinct grapes with some version of Malvasia in their name, most of them unrelated. This is Malvasia Istriana, and it is very good. Elegant, round and polished, with subtle floral and mineral notes. Five days maceration on the skins gives smooth, fine tannins. Castello di Rubbia, Carso-Kras Vitovska, 2012 $36.99 Red winemaking techniques applied to a white grape give exotic ginger and tangy mandarin notes anchored by the fine prickles of lacy tannin reminiscent of Barbaresco. 20 days maceration and one year on the lees. Castello di Rubbia, Carso-Kras Terrano, 2013 $29.99 Terrano may be related to Refosco and/or Mondeuse, but the genetic jury is still out. This is meaty but fresh, with a texture reminiscent of Aglianico. The ferrous tang distinctive of Terrano from Carso's iron-rich soils inspired local doctors of yesteryear to prescribe it to anemic young ladies. Its high resveratrol content offers a more modern health advantage—salute! You can order this selection of Castello di Rubbia online or send us an email at orders@flatiron-wines.com

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"New" Releases from López de Heredia

by admin

I couldn’t ask for a better producer to write about as my last contribution to the Flatiron Wine & Spirits blog. Not just because López is one of my favorite wineries in the world, but also because these wines are a celebration of something I am currently confronting: the limitations of time. Maria José López de Heredia is quoted often saying that she wishes she could freeze time. Today, though I’m excited about a new beginning in Chicago, I find myself also sharing her wish. I'm sad to be leaving New York. We know the wines of Bodegas López de Heredia are more than a benchmark in Rioja. Few bodegas have escaped the forces that have reshaped Rioja. López is the exception. While going through a pile of old documents at the bodega, Maria José came upon a collection her great-grandfather's letters to his family. In these letters weren’t just stories of the family’s history, but also his philosophy about how wine should be made. In these letters Maria José found the strength and inspiration to do what no other winery was doing in Rioja: resist change. What does this actually mean in the winery? For one thing, as any visitor to the bodega will tell you, López's cellars are completely covered in thick blankets of mold and cobwebs. This isn’t laziness. The mold is actually a form of penicillin, keeping the air free from deleterious microbes, and the silk from the spiders helps maintain proper humidity. The open-topped fermentation vessels, too, are unique. Decades old, these large oak casks have been repaired in-house for generations. Their first choice for sealing small cracks is animal blood since the proteins naturally coagulate and won’t interfere in the wines' evolution. But, probably the most controversial tradition Maria José adheres to is her refusal to release a single bottle from the cellar before its time. Maria José explains that all her wines, from Tondonia to Cubillo, are technically Gran Reservas. That means every bottle produced by López has spent at least 2 years in oak and 3 years in the bottle. Maria José explains that, historically, every wine in Rioja was called Crianza. In particularly good vintages some families would bottle a few wines labeled Reserva to lay down to mature, but there was no official law defining the use of that term. Today, most Riojas are identified by regulated terms such as Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva, all based on oak aging and bottle maturation. López uses these terms too, but only to qualify the styles of their wines, not to declare how they are actually aged. For the wines of López, they are ready when they are ready and no sooner. In a world that is constantly folding to the pressures that demand more wine sooner, it’s a near-miracle to find a producer doing the opposite. It’s my opinion that’s the only way to make a wine that’s as temporally transportative as López is. To drink a bottle is to not just go back in time to that particular vintage, but also back to a time when wine was allowed to be made at it’s own pace. Such wines have depths that no manipulation can impart, and age for generations in a way that no modern technology can replicate. Cheers! Zach López de Heredia “Viña Cubillo” Crianza Tinto 2007 $27.99 Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Reserva “Tondonia”, 2004 - $42.99 López de Heredia “Viña Gravonia” Crianza Blanco 2006 $28.99 Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Gran Reserva "Tondonia" Blanco 1996

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