Top 5 Reasons to drink Cru Bourgeois

Why to drink Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois In my first post on Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois I explained: what they are: great Chateaux that didn't sell for enough to be classified as Bordeaux Cru Classé in 1855 how they came to exist: a bunch of the best non-Classé Chateaux banded together for marketing purposes, and why it all stopped working: it was too complicated and bureaucratic! In this, my second post on Bordeaux' Cru Bourgeois, I want to give you five reasons to look beyond Bordeaux' Grand Cru Classé–more specifically, five reasons to look at the Cru Bourgeois wines for delicious values that do everything we want our wines to do. 1. The Virtual Circle of Good Money Making Great ... Read More »

La Torre 2012

"If you love elegant, age-worthy Sangiovese, then stock your wine cellar with 2012 Brunello di Montalcino." - Kerin O'Keefe We've had a few Brunellos from the classic 2012 vintage and by now you've hopefully had a chance to try a bottle. If so, you see why we (and Kerin O'Keefe and other Brunello experts) are so excited about the vintage. It's not a massive vintage like glories past—2010 or 2001. It's not a ripe vintage like 2007 or 1997. Instead, it is utterly classic in just the way that Sangiovese wants to be, interweaving Brunello's generous fruit with nervosity, ethereality, and savory notes. It's surprisingly approachable (the acidity really helps), but also with the structure ... Read More »

Boulay Vertical

For years, we have been advising that Sancerre should be added to your list of must-cellar categories. I recently had the privilege of attending a vertical tasting of Gerard Boulay's single vineyard Sancerre "Clos de Beaujeu", going back almost 60 years, including the last bottle of 1959 in Gerard Boulay's personal cellar. It was truly gratifying to experience such stunning confirmation of our advice. It's funny, but followers of Boulay have a tendency to overlook the wine from this Clos. Of Boulay's three single vineyards, it has the least name recognition. This is surely because his other vineyards, Mont Damnes and Le Grand Cote, are also made by the famous Cotat cousins. And let's face ... Read More »

Barbaresco & Barolo: What’s the Difference?

They are both made 100% from Nebbiolo grown in the Langhe. But Barolo and Barbaresco are clearly not the same wine. What's the difference? The easy answer is the legal one: Barolo and Barbaresco are two different DOCs. They are located in slightly different parts of the Langhe (see the map below). There are slightly different rules that they have to follow -- for example Barolos have to be aged for 38 months, of which at least 18 months are in barrel, while Barbaresco only requires 26 months, of which 9 must be in barrel. Barolos have to hit 13% alcohol and Barbarescos only 12.5%   I guess that sort of thing is great to know for your WSET exam, but it doesn't get you into the heart and soul ... Read More »

Bartolo Mascarello’s Dolcetto: Here Now, for a Hot second!

We've been championing Piedmont's "little grapes"–Dolcetto, Freisa, Pelaverga, etc.–for years now, both in our newsletters and in the shop. So we were psyched when Eric Asimov turned to Dolcetto for November's New York Times Wine School. It was a great piece, as always. But it did include one wine that was a bit of a tease: Bartolo Mascarello's Dolcetto. Like all of Bartolo's wines, the Dolcetto is amazing. It both exemplifies and transcends the type. Like all great Dolcetto it's a delicious, fruit-focused taste of Piedmontese terroir when it's young. But unlike most Dolcetto (which you should drink, as Hugh Johnson says, youngest available), it ages magically. With a few months or ... Read More »

The Reasonable Cellar:  Savary Chablis

Keeping a cellar may seem fussy, complicated and expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Just a year ago, I purchased a case of Savary Chablis 2012. With a 10% case discount, it was about $22 per bottle. I took the case, and I put it in my basement. It was not a refrigerated space, but it never gets that warm in the summer, probably never above 70. This is not ideal for long term storage, but just fine for a year. Recently I was stumbling around the basement looking for my kid's ice skates, and there was the case. We are selling the 2014 right now in the shop, and online. It's a great vintage, but not yet quite where I like my village-level Chablis. Young Chablis is fresh and piercing, and I ... Read More »

Top 5 Wine Categories for Collectors to Focus on in 2017

This year promises to have a lot of very exciting releases. Here's what collectors need to watch out for: 1.  2015 reds from Burgundy.  This is the big one, a vintage that promises more than any since 2005, and it might even be better than that. Yes, the trophies will be extremely expensive and very hard to get. Do your best to ignore them, and stick with the 100s of other great Burgundies that will be finadable and affordable. Look for Hudelot-Baillet or Sigaut rather than Roumier. Look for Lignier-Michelot rather than Ponsot. Look for Regis Forey rather than Rouget. And so on. 2.  2013 reds from Piedmont. Usually a vintage like 2010 only comes along once in a generation. Mother nature ... Read More »

Faury’s St. Joseph at Age 12: The Rewards of the “Reasonable Cellar”

I keep a “Reasonable Cellar.” Sure, I’ve got a treasure or two tucked away. But mostly I lay down under-$50 bottles. These are wines wines for drinking in the short- to medium-term. They don’t take decades to get to full maturity, so you get the payoff sooner. They're also great to cellar because you never really get a chance to buy examples with bottle age; nobody’s auctioning their collection of mature Sancerres (unfortunately). Most of these wines are for drinking 3-5 years out. And mostly they get drunk in that window. But one of the pleasures of keeping a cellar is that occasionally you stumble across an older bottle that you’ve completely forgotten about. Like, for example, ... Read More »

Hirsch: The Upper Echelon of Riesling and Grüner Veltliner

I enjoyed a stunning reminder of just how profound Johannes Hirsch’s wines are when I was at an Austrian wine tasting this past June. Not that I ever really forget, but it was still amazing to see just how next-level the wines seemed even when surrounded by many of Austria's other great producers. Even more shocking, the Hirsch line up was all 2013 and 2014s – not the already legendary (and mostly not yet released or, admittedly, ready-to-drink) 2015s. It may be a cliché, but my first take-away from the tasting was that it's true: buy the producer, not the vintage. Good producers' wines will reflect the vintage, without allowing inherent quality levels to waver. And in the hands of very ... Read More »

The Reasonable Cellar: Rose!

I often like to write about accessible, affordable wines that make great candidates for the cellar.  Now that the weather is finally showing some signs of warmth, it's time to mention a category of wine that almost nobody pays any attention to when thinking about wines to age:  Rose. Yes, there is something to be said for the zippy snap of fresh Rose.  On that first day of warm weather when you're drinking wine on the roof, it should probably be something from the latest vintage.  You're warm, and you want freshness more than anything else. But after just a week drinking the vacation-like simplicity of the latest from Provence, your palate will start to wonder if something is missing. ... Read More »