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 »

The Twilight of Small Family Owned Domaines in Burgundy?

It's a story that has been told again and again in France ever since Napoleon l.  The head of a successful family dies and the estate is divided equally between all of the children.  It used to be that the eldest son got everything, the second son joined the military, the third the priesthood, the daughters were married off.  If you were the fourth son, well - you might have to work for a local landowner tending his vineyards. So to this day in Burgundy the vineyards are divided equally between the heirs.  Not everyone wants to be a country winegrower, the work is relentless, unforgiving and at the mercy of capricious weather.  What's more, almost every successful family want their sons ... Read More »

A Short History of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Once upon a time in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, there was a castle that the pope lived in. In the 14th century a castle was built on the hill over the village. This was during the Avignon Papacy when the Pope(s) lived in Avignon rather than Rome. Why? Because French King Philip IV finagled the election of a Frenchman, Clement V to the papacy. This new pope was not too popular in Rome and moved to Avignon. The castle (now in ruins) was built for his successor Pope John XXII. The next seven Popes in Avignon did not live in the castle. Over the objections of the French cardinals, Pope Gregory XI had just moved the papacy back to Rome but died shortly after his return. After the Great Schism ... Read More »

Merkelbach’s (Nearly) Timeless Wines

Every time you open a good bottle of wine it's an opportunity to travel, usually to that special place where the grapes were grown and the wine was made. But sometimes the wine will take you on a trip through time. There are a few estates that haven't changed for decades. But not many—López de Heredia comes to mind, and Lafarge in Volnay. When you taste their wines, you experience something ancient and beautiful. Time travel. In the case of the Merkelbachs, that time is the 1950s. Nothing has changed since then: for all those decades the same two brothers have made wines from the same terroirs, over and over again, using the same ancient methods on their beautiful, old, ungrafted vines. ... Read More »

A Guide to German Wine

In 2015, Germany had a good year. After a long, hot summer, the vineyards were dry and ready for the late rain that carried the ripening grapes to harvest. The result was something like a dream for winemakers in each and every growing region. Tasting notes and vintage reports have been glowing -- the likes of Jancis Robinson, Dr. Loosen, Mosel Fine Wines, Theirry Theise and many others gushing over what is certain to be a vintage of note, if not one of the most lauded in decades. As the wines come stateside, we're no less stunned by some really incredible bottles. In turn -- curiosity stoked -- we've begun to look closely at the unique and nuanced wine regions of Germany. We've compiled some ... Read More »

Chambertin for Coq au Vin?

A chef friend we work with wanted a case of Burgundy for a stew he was making. I pointed out that a case of Cotes du Rhone would be a lot cheaper and, after hours of cooking, pretty close in flavor. But he insisted on Burgundy, “I’m following a 19th century recipe that calls for a case of Chambertin!” Nowadays, of course, a case of Chambertin costs well over $3,000. That would be a pricey chicken dish. Besides, supplies are so limited you would need to go to several sources to cobble together a 12-pack. It’s probably been a very long time since that particular recipe was followed! Amusing, yes. But it also raises an important historical point that surprisingly few people are ... Read More »

Georgia On My Mind (Part 1)

The Cradle of Wine on the Brink Of all the lesser-known wine regions of the world, the Republic of Georgia could be the most important one no one is talking about. Being surrounded by unfriendly neighbors & having been buried for most of the 20th century under Soviet control, most Americans are probably not versed in Georgian culture. But if they are wine lovers, they should be! That’s because Georgia is where wine was born and where it is still being made in much the same way it has been since the beginning. This week we’ll highlight Georgian wines in our newsletter (you can sign up here) and post a couple articles dedicated to various aspects of Georgian wine as a great way to ... Read More »