Grower Champagne 101: Class is in Session!

Champagne is rediscovering itself through the eyes of the farmer, but what does that mean? Traditionally, small farmers didn't make their own wine. Instead, these grapes were sold to  houses, who would blend grapes from across the region to create a "house style". Very often many excellent wines were made, but very few had any traditional sense of terroir. With help from passionate Importers, and a cultural shift towards authentic experiences, the region has been transformed. Now, thousands of growers keep grapes for themselves and make their own unique expressions of terroir. Because holdings are often tiny it is now possible to experience site specific wines, of extraordinary ... Read More »

John’s Dispatches from Burgundy

A new generation is shaking up Burgundy. Mathilde Grivot, Amelie Berthaut, Charles Lachaux, Charles Van Canneyt have all reinvigorated their family domaines. Then, there are a handful of new producers like Nicolas Faure, Armand Heitz of Heitz-Lochardet and Maxime Cheurlin of Domaine Georges Noellat. It's hard to believe that another incredibly talented class from the Lycee Viticole de Beaune are now seasoned veterans with many vintages behind them. This trip I arrived early Friday March 9th on Swiss International to Geneva.  On the same flight was Maxime Cheurlin of Domaine Georges Noellat. He offered me a ride to Beaune - lucky me. Max's Swiss importer met us at the the airport and drove ... Read More »

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 »

Reveling in Rioja

Recently, I had the pleasure of going on a Rioja DOCa Trade Tour, sponsored by the Consejo Regulador— the control board governing the wine region of Rioja, first established in 1925. Along with seven others, I was taken to some of the most well known Bodegas of the region, as well as some more off the beaten path. I learned a lot about Rioja, both the wines and the region. Not to be confused with the political region of La Rioja, the wine region of Rioja crosses political boundaries, with some of its bodegas and vineyards falling in the Basque country and Navarre. Made up of three subregions, Rioja consists of Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja, and Rioja Alavesa. The climates are remarkably different, ... Read More »

What about that cheap wine in Europe?

In New York we have a lot of European visitors. Some of them complain about our prices. Not: "Oh, I can get this same wine back home for 30% less," which would sometimes be true (though often not). Rather, it’s more of a blanket statement like: "At home wines cost just 5 or 6 euros.” I happen to be in Europe for a few weeks so I decided to investigate. You may remember Turin, a very sophisticated city in Northern Italy, from the Winter Olympics a few years back. But it’s more important to us a center for the wine trade just a few miles from the Langhe, one of the world's greatest wine regions and home, not only of (expensive, age-worthy) Barolo and Barbaresco, but also of more humble ... Read More »

The Terroir of Oregon Pinot Noir

It’s no secret that Oregon, and specifically the Willamette Valley, is great terroir for growing Pinot Noir, but the reason behind that may come as a surprise. Willamette Valley has been home to arguably the best domestically produced Pinot Noirs since growers started planting vines there in the late 1960s-- most notably David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards. Stretching from Portland south to Eugene, the region covers roughly 150 miles and encompasses several recognized sub-AVAs (American Viticultural Area), from the renowned red-soiled Dundee Hills to McMinville. A bit inland from the coast, the valley is bordered on the west by the Coastal mountain range and to the east by the Cascade mountain ... Read More »

A Taste of Sardinia

On my recent trip to Sardinia with my partner Matthew, one thing I found was that seemingly everyone I met was at least indirectly connected to the wine culture that exists there. From hotel clerks and waiters to cab drivers and people on the beach, everyone knew someone who worked at a vineyard. Brothers, aunts, cousins- the wine industry permeates the culture to a degree of which I was previously unaware. That said, it should have come as no surprise that on the drive from the airport in Olbia to my first destination of Alghero, just as I was entering town I came upon the Sella & Mosca winery, which considers itself to be the foremost producer of wine on the island. Without knowing the ... Read More »

A Week In Burgundy With John Truax (Part 6)

Tuesday, November 17 I had to great fortune to be invited back to Becky and Russell’s house in Bouilland for another gala luncheon and a vertical tasting of Grivot Richebourg. Thanks to a generous Burgundy collector we able to taste every single vintage of Richebourg that Etienne Grivot has made. We had 20+ vintages on the table that day. The wines were lined up on both sides of a bare wooden table. There were lots of accomplished wine tasters present from France, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, the USA and points beyond. Any wines that our gracious host could not provide came directly from Domaine Grivot for the tasting. An effervescent British taster from Hong Kong exclaimed, “Oh my. This ... Read More »

Georgia On My Mind (Part 2)

Amber Waves of Taste There’s been a lot of talk recently about “orange wines”: white varieties macerated and fermented on their skins, taking on an amber hue. The examples that exist are largely from “natural” winemakers and are usually sold to people interested in the novel or edgy bottles of the world. The truth is, however, that these “amber wines” (as they should be more aptly called) are anything but novel. At the foot of the Caucus Mountains in, what is known today as, the Republic of Georgia, this style of winemaking has been going on for many thousands of years. Yet, Americans are just beginning to discover them as the small country emerges from the oppression of ... Read More »

A Week in Burgundy with John Truax (Part 1)

Today we begin a wonderful journey with John Beaver Truax through Burgundy. He visited for a week during the 2015 Hospices de Beaune auction and we'll be posting a series of installments of his trip each Thursday over the next few weeks. Enjoy! THURSDAY November 12th   Once again I had the great fortune to go to Burgundy with my friend Jay. That my work allows me to go to Burgundy twice a year is a dream come true. I am unbelievably lucky. We have traveled there many times before, always renting modest apartments in the center of the picturesque medieval cobblestoned town. Much of Beaune dates from the Twelfth century or older. The walled city of 20,000 and its surrounding vineyards were ... Read More »