[caption id="attachment_12212" align="aligncenter" width="309"] The Bee's Knees[/caption] Dear Friends of Flatiron, Moving here has made me realize there are a few things I need to “relearn”. For one, walking home from work at the end of the day - harder than walking to work. Another is what to “seasonally drink”. I’ve taken for granted the thirsts for Barolos like Oddero the typical seasonal change of the Northeast and Midwest inspires in me. So this weekend I plan to explore my re-worked seasonally appropriate wines for this very Californian autumn I’ve been enjoying. Given that I’m less inclined to breaking out the ugly hanukkah sweater and making spiced wine than I am to making some carnitas and relishing that there’s still Rubentis Rosé from Ameztoi still in my fridge, we’re going to start there. Carnitas and Txakoli. Carnitas, I won’t even try to espouse any deep knowledge on. All I can tell you is the recipe I’m sharing with you is making my house smell legit. The rosé, however, I will profess to have some meaningful experience with outside of drinking vast quantities of it. The Basque grape Hondarribi Beltza is amazingly diverse and is a forbearer of Cab Franc. I’ve visited the stunning vineyards of prephylloxera plantings growing on the steep seaside hills in Northeastern Spain. It, along with its light-skinned companion Hondarribi Zuri, are made in to a light pink quartz-hued wine. If you haven’t had it before it’s like salty watermelon juice; refreshing and tangy with some fizz to cleanse the palate. There couldn’t be a better grown-up soda for your taco. My taste in cocktails is similarly being seasonally effected. I’d be well into my Manhattan and variation-there-of lifestyle by now (of course I wouldn’t turn one down at the moment if one were to be offered to me either) but without that nip in the air it just doesn’t seem as true to my state of mind. Instead I’ve been drinking “sunnier” things, one of my favorites being a Bee’s Knees. Saveur recommends Beefeater in theirs but I really like Jensen Bermondsey London Dry (or another artisan example with similar intrigue). I’m lucky enough to have a lemon tree in my backyard and huge jar of honey from Colorado we picked up on our drive west. Gin, honey and lemons. It really couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. After walking up my own personal Everest to get home everyday I know I’ll be crushing one or two of those. But with red wines, it’s less straightforward. I typically like Beaujolais in the fall. Same is true out here in San Francisco. From what I gather from most of the customers I’ve met so far, we’re all in the same boat. But with all the amazing Latin American food and culture about, I’ve been finding myself exploring a different grape: País. País, also known as Mission or Listán Prieto, was brought here by the missionaries from Spain during their invasion of Mesoamerica to Chile. Once planted the vines persisted and continue to this day. Vines older than 600 YEARS!!!! What’s even crazier is that delicious examples of wine made from these ancient vines can be had for under $30! With a little more spice than Gamay and less greenery that Cab Franc, a lightly chilled bottle of País is the way to go for some garlicky rotisserie chicken. Now I’ve got to get back to finishing off my carnitas and prepping some Pico. Have a fantastic weekend!
Dear Friends of Flatiron, It’s my great honor to be asked to take over writing Flatiron’s most exciting weekly column “What to Drink This Weekend”. You see, my wife and I just moved here and, though I’ve worked for Flatiron Wines in NYC for years, my new San Fran community of coworkers and customers are introducing me to a ton of Bay Area delights. Just last week I was munching on salumi with a butcher friend from The Fatted Calf, learning about how they make their goods in small batches by hand while drinking a great bottle of Cab Franc from Smith Story. Everyday I seem to meet someone new or discover some amazing place that revolutionizes my preconceived notions of just how good you all have it out here on the West Coast. Right now it’s all about apples. Growing up in New York I’m familiar with a pretty broad spectrum of Malus pumila and have tasted my fair share of ciders. But aside from the occasional stellar pie, I wasn’t all that crazy about the fruit or the beverage for that matter. But the other day, while at my other job which brings me in close contact with the freshest-of-the-fresh farm direct fruit, I bit into a particularly vinous Arkansas Black apple from Oz Farm. I was struck by how adult the flavors were. This wasn’t some candy-sweet creation from the labs of a Franken-farmer. This was a serious piece of heirloom fruit that had been on the tree just hours before. The beginnings of a weekend meal started to materialize in my brain. After sharing my pomme-piphany with a fellow Flatiron staffer they recommended I snag a bottle of “Trois Pepin” from Cidrerie du Vulcain. Bam! Another misconception shattered. Cider can be serious! Apples, pears and quinces are fermented dry by Jacques Perritaz in Fribourg Switzerland and blended together to make one of the best non-wine bubblies money can buy. The flavors dance between floral, fruit and mineral with a mousse that somehow conveys texture of a firm apple. Grainy, yet crunchy, with a ethereal honeyed note cut by pleasingly sharp orchard fruit acidity. What a way to start a meal! Fruit is great, but I’m really all about the meat. Our first meal in SF was at Zuni Cafe and that Roast Chicken with Bread Salad was the stuff of dreams for me for more than a month. But when the weather starts to cool off, as it has been, my tastes start to crave something richer, fattier, more porcine. While foraging for provisions I discovered perfectly prepped and pre-vac-packed whole pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and topped with sage at Bi-Rite Divisadero. This was going to be spot on with the bottle of G.B Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga that Flori, our Italian wine expert, recommended earlier. The wine is a riot of violets, roses, strawberries, wild herbs and freshly rained on gravel. Just the thing to cut through the fat and lift the sweetness of the meat. I plan on pan searing it and finishing it in the oven and serving it alongside some roasted apples and fennel. As I settle into my new home in this wonderful city I can’t help but feel how truly fortunate I am to be here. Despite all that’s going on in the world, I feel like I’ve landed in a place where everyone encourages each other to live their best. Right now, my homage to that triumph that is San Francisco is this dish and these wines I’ve shared with you in words today. I look forward to sharing more with you as well as learning and discovering all the special things that make this place great. I’ll be sure to let you know how this weekend’s pairing turns out and look forward to hearing from you what inspires you right now in this great city of ours!
At the shop, we get asked every day, “What’s new?,” “What’s cool,?” or, “What’s tickling your palate right now?” What they all mean is, “What’s the next big thing?” If you ask me, the answer is Greece. If you care about wines of character and history, of authenticity, Greece is where you should be looking. What you need to know about Greek wine For starters, Greece is small. Smaller than Nepal (really!). Yet, within its narrow borders, it hosts a teeming collection of grapes and terroirs. Add to that a recent revolution in quality winemaking and you have a perfect storm for exciting wine. Each of these factors is important. So, let’s go through them one at a time. Roughly the size of Louisiana, Greece boasts 300 or more indigenous grapes that have never traveled abroad, each with a unique voice. Chardonnay and Cabernet are planted everywhere in the world, but to hear what Debina, Liatiko, and Limniona have to say, you have to go to the source. The most common grapes you’ll encounter are Assyrtiko, Malagousia, and Moschofilero for whites and Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko for reds. Yes, Xinomavro is what passes for common in Greece. Then there are many grapes that are so rare that only a producer or two grow them. The opportunities for exploration are many. I also think Greece will explode in the wine-world’s consciousness because of its incredibly diverse climate, soil, and topography. Greece is at the very end of the Alps and almost the entire country is mountainous—so rugged that vines and sheep or goats are the only things that farmers can reasonably raise in much of the country. The soil is generally thin and poor: terrible for most farming, but optimal for great wine, as vines that struggle give the best fruit. Don’t forget the weather: sunny and dry. Greece enjoys an incredibly high annual number of sun hours, a feature that not only attracts German tourists but also makes it possible for grapes to ripen even at the high altitudes necessary for good acid/fruit balance in the grapes. This is also a very dry and windy country, which means much less disease pressure than in, say, Bordeaux, and so a relatively easy path to organic farming. Lastly, there’s been a sea change in what wines producers are choosing to make. For a long time, all we saw imported from Greece were generic, internationally-styled wines—either from international grapes like Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay—or from native grapes like Agiorgitiko or Robola but so weighed down with wine make-up like new barriques and laboratory yeast strains as to be indistinguishable from more global wines. But that is all changing right now, and fast. To be fair, a handful of producers started down this path of authentic Greek Wine in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but their revolution didn’t mature and take hold until this century. Now it’s spreading at quite a clip, and just when Americans are falling in love with these kinds of authentic wines like never before. Who knows what delicious things will develop here in the next decade or two? Greek Wine 101: A beginner's guide What follows is a brief and far from complete overview of Greece’s vinous landscape today. A sort of Greek Wine 101. But know that I’ve ignored whole regions, grapes, and styles. And even the categories I address are vastly simplified. To encourage broad exploration, throughout the month of July we’re offering 10% off any purchase of 3 or more Greek wines, and 15% off mixed cases. Click here to view our full Greek inventory in New York City or in San Francisco or keep reading below for more regional information. PELOPONNESE This is the southern half of mainland Greece and is what I think most Americans picture when they think of Greece: it’s mountainous, dry, scrubby, generally sort of tan in color most of the year. The main grapes are Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero, Monemvasia, Muscat, Mavrodaphne, and Roditis. This is probably the region farthest behind in the quality revolution, as there is still an inexplicable obsession with new and small oak (is Nemea the last hidey hole for the marauding barrique?). I happen to believe that Agiorgitiko is a grape with enormous potential, but I have seen little of that potential manifested, so we mostly focus on whites and rosés from the Peloponnese at Flatiron. Producers to look for: Parparoussis, Troupis, Barafakas, Papaioannou, Tselepos. MAKEDONIA Without wading into the fray over the name, we’ll just say that this is Macedonia, the region in Greece, not the country (Greeks refer to the latter simply as Skopje, the capital of FYROM, or Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Situated in the far northeast of mainland Greece, this is where Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, burst forth to rule the known world; the Macedonian Plain (one of only three flat places of any real size in Greece) is where Alexander assembled his army to march east. The main grape here is Xinomavro, presented on its own in most of the subregions (most notably Naoussa and Amynteo) but blended with Negoska in the subregion of Goumenissa. Xinomavro often gets compared to Nebbiolo, and there’s something to the similar balance of tannin to fruit to acid, as well as the light color and long aging potential. The vineyards of Macedonia are generally at slightly lower altitudes than much of the rest of Greece, more rolling hills than straight-up mountains. Soils vary enormously here, including clay, sand, loam, schist, and even marble. In Domaine Nerantzi’s vineyards, 3500-year-old potsherds even contribute to the mix. Producers to look for: Tatsis, Dalamara, Kokkinos, Nerantzi, Karanika, Chatzivariti, Kamara, Argatia. EPIRUS Also in the north, but on the western side of the country, Epirus is extremely mountainous and green, full of rushing mountain streams, strikingly tall old forests, and elaborately-clapboarded, slate-roofed architecture that would make you believe you were in Switzerland or Austria or Bavaria rather than Greece. The vineyards are inland and at high elevation, and the soils are mostly clay and limestone. Grapes here are Debina for white, and Vlahiko & Bekari for red. Producers to look for: Glinavos, Katogi Averoff THESSALY Here we’re just going to focus on one producer. Most of Thessaly is flat and hot, and you’d think the wines wouldn’t be very interesting. For the most part, you’d be right, and much of the output here is sold in bulk. But there is one producer who is changing that storyline: Christos Zafeirakis. Based in the town of Tyrnavos in northeast Thessaly, near the foot of Mt. Olympos, Zafeirakis works with some international varieties, but mostly focuses on native Malagousia and Limniona. The latter hadn’t been planted by anyone for a very long time, until Zafeirakis took an interest and started putting out his game-changing red wine. Now that he’s proven its potential, a bunch of other folks have gone and planted it, too—a success story for grape diversity! While I haven’t found much else of interest in Thessaly so far, Zafeirakis’ wines came out of nowhere (though the family have been grape growers for a long time, the winery was only founded in 2005), so I’m actually pretty excited about what else might crop up here going forward. Producers to look for: Domaine Zafeirakis ISLANDS: IONIA Situated off the western coast of Greece and facing Italy across the Ionian Sea, the islands of Corfu, Zakynthos, Lefkada, and Kefalonia are yet another completely different side of Greece (there are a few more islands in the chain, but these are the major ones for wine). On average, these islands are larger and more mountainous than those in the Aegean. The Ionian islands were a Venetian possession for several centuries, and that colonial influence is readily apparent in the architecture and cuisine. This is the homeland Odysseus spent ten years struggling to reach after the Trojan War. Chief among the islands for wine is Kefalonia (Cephalonia), featuring the towering Mt. Ainos, a 1600+-meter hunk of limestone rising from the sea. It is cold at the top even in summer, and you will see bands of heavily shaggy mountain goats picking their way through the chilly fog in July. So, the climate here is relatively cool, even on the scrabbly lower slopes where the vineyards are located. Alberello (bush) training is common and many vines are ungrafted. Native grapes include Robola, Tsaousi, Vostilidi, and Mavrodaphne. Producers to look for: Sclavos (Sclavus and Sklavos also appear on the label) ISLANDS: CYCLADES This is the other place that I think Americans envision when thinking of Greece, as the Cyclades are the land of white-washed buildings with stone terraces overlooking the blue, blue waters of the Aegean. They’re called the Cyclades because some folks think the islands are laid out in a circle shape (I don’t see it, but whatever). While some of the islands have been almost completely overrun with tourism (Santorini, Mykonos), there is a lot of cool wine happening here, even amidst the madding crowds. The Cyclades extend southeast from Athens into the Aegean (they are really the final and lowest mountains in the chain that runs down the entire mainland) and are generally hilly rather than mountainous. Summers are very hot and dry, limiting the potential areas for quality vineyards to the highest reaches (e.g., the granite slopes of the Kalathas valley on Tinos) or places with uniquely water-retentive soil (e.g., the volcanic ash on Santorini, which sucks up the morning mist and feeds it back to the vine roots during the day). There are some genuinely cool, genuinely weird and unique vine-training systems here as well—the most famous being the koloura baskets of Santorini, but don’t forget the supine ksaplota of Tinos either (and see the Flatiron Wines instagram account for a rare video of plowing with this training system) [we should include the image here]. On Santorini, phylloxera doesn’t stand a chance, and vines are ungrafted, with some root systems many centuries old—a truly unique situation in the world of wine. Grapes include Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Mavrotragano, Mandilaria, Aspro Potamisi, Mavropotamisi, Koumariano, Rozaki, Monemvasia. Producers to look for: Hatzidakis, Koutsoyannopoulos, Karamolegos, Roussos, Sigalas (Santorini); Domaine de Kalathas (Tinos). ISLANDS: CRETE Crete is Greece’s largest island, and perhaps its most beautiful. Wine is grown in every district in Crete, though it must be said that most of the island is carpeted with olive trees. It’s an open secret that much of what is labeled and sold as Italian olive oil actually comes from Crete. This is perhaps the most different part of Greece, and Greeks agree, viewing it in much the same way that Italians view Sicily; I’ve even heard comparisons to Texas. It’s pretty dry all over here, but especially in the eastern region of Sitia, where the remote and rocky Ziros plateau rises 650 meters above the Mediterranean. The island’s (and perhaps the country’s) most interesting wines come from this region, from the hand of Yiannis Economou. Soils range from sandy red clay to blue marl to wildly mixed conglomerate river rock. Everywhere you look are low rounded humps of wild herb plants drying in the sun all day and lending their Cretan garrigue to the grapes. Grapes include Liatiko, Mandilaria, Voudomato, Kotsifali (red), and Assyrtiko, Vilana, Thrapsathiri (white). Producers to look for: Economou (Oikonomoy is how it appears on labels), Stilianou Thanks for reading, now go explore! -Susannah Want to get more offers like these straight to your inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter already! 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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 us through Geneva on a bright Friday morning, around the lakeshore, past the Jet d'Eau and into the hills to a beautiful house in a gated community about 500 meters from the French border. Some very famous and wealthy French people move to Switzerland for tax reasons, this house used to belong to a movie star, the next door neighbor was a former formula one champion. We had breakfast - just the kind of breakfast you want after a long flight, rich steaming espresso, bread and butter followed by a bottle of 2001 Michel Bouzereau Meursault 1er Cru Charmes and some 24 month old Parma ham. Then, the 36 month old pata negra. The wine was served blind - we didn't come close to guessing what it was. I think we might have guessed that it was a white rhone wine, it didn't seem to have a lot of acidity. Then it was time to leave for France. It's 230 km to Beaune, takes about 2 1/2 hours on the autoroute over the Alps and through Savoie as you descend through the foothills, go straight to Macon, make a right turn and the next stop is the Cote D'Or. It's a stunning drive - when it's not fogged in. That morning was lovely, clear skies and sunny. As you go down the Alps there is a particularly exhilarating stretch of elevated highway that passes through soaring limestone cliffs and millions of pine trees, in the valleys below alpine villages with their distinct architecture. Lots of high pastures full of contented cows. You can almost taste the Comte. We continued down the foothills, then low rolling hills leading to Macon. We drove through fields of cereal grains north to Beaune. Such fantastic roads and beautiful weather would inspire many to drive fast, as many people were that morning. They all passed us. We stayed in the slow lane. Max is a very cautious driver, he mentioned to me that if he got one more point on his licence it would be revoked until January 1st 2019. The French authorities are very strict about speeding tickets and if you lose your license it is very difficult to get it back. He has to get through the 2018 vintage. After a quick stop for gasoline (and an espresso), the remaining drive went by quickly. Maxime dropped me at my hotel in Beaune and drove to his home/cellars on the Rue des Chaumes in Vosne Romanée. His backyard is the premier cru vineyard -- he actually has a small patch of lawn that would be Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Les Chaumes", if it were planted with vines. I saw all of the young growers mentioned above at one or more tastings for the Grand Jours de Bourgogne. There were invitation-only tastings at exporters: some were very fancy, some were after the work day at a winery with other winegrowers invited to present their wines. It was a very busy week for everybody - this was all in addition to their normal duties. Tuesday March 13th was the DIVA tasting at the Chateau de Santenay in the morning (44 wineries) and a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there was an event with 46 Corton growers, then from 5 to 8 it was the "off-grid" tasting at Philippe Pacalet's cellars at Beaune - 14 producers including Jean-Yves Bizot, Claire Naudin, Mathieu Lapierre, Chanterêves, etc. Everyday was full of tastings morning noon and night - a day in the Cote Chalonnaise, a day in Chablis, and then there was a tasting at the Clos de Vougeot with almost every grower from Vosne-Romanée present. The following week I got to visit many growers at their wineries including Amélie Berthaut, Nicolas Faure and Maxime Cheurlin. Here are my notes: Domaine Berthaut Amélie Berthaut has a brand new cellar, and she really needed the space. At the old cellar in Fixin there was hardly enough room. Now she has taken over almost all of the vineyards from both her mother's and father's sides of the family, she now has just over 13 hectares. Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée, Échezeaux and Clos Vougeot. Lots of work for her vineyard manager and soon-to-be husband Nicolas Faure. His domaine is only one hectare but he has to do all of that work after his day job. We tasted in Amelie's very cool modern poured concrete cuverie + barrel cellar in Fixin. Very nice, no more bumping your head and lots of room for her increased production. She is quite pleased with it. Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits from on top of Vosne-Romanée, called Concoeur. Very rocky, shallow soils on top of limestone, It is very cold and windy and pruning is hard work. Bright sour cherry - strawberry fruit, sprightly, full of energy, saline, mineral, lip smacking acidity on the finish. Wine that makes you salivate, wine that makes you hungry, wine to drink now. Very good. Incidentally, this is adjacent to the parcel the Gerbet family rents to Michel Digioia Fixin AC -- very deep topsoil, lots of clay, old vines, 40 years old. Sweet, good rich dark fruit, earthy, lots of mineral, good long finish. Another wine to drink young. Delicious. Fixin "Les Crais" -- a mix of old and young vines vinified separately and blended. Very bright and lively, dark fruits, minerals, earthy, medium-bodied, good powerful finish. Fixin "En Combe Roy" -- Amélie says this is her baby. Her baby Premier cru. 60 year old vines with very small berries, from a selection massale from Fixin "Clos Napoleon". Gevrey Chambertin -- bright, pomegranate like fruit, a beautiful tartness and lots of depth, a very layered wine. Much going on here, will age beautifully, long finish. Vosne-Romanée -- Powerful, tangy, tannic & rich. Very good length, medium bodied, very complex. A lovely Vosne-Romanée from vines in Aux Reas and la Riviere. Fixin 1er Cru "Les Arvelets" -- from a very large parcel of almost 1 hectare. Great fruit and power. Very tangy with lots of sap. Layers of complexity. Very long finish. Really illustrates how fine Fixin can be. This will age beautifully if you can keep from drinking it. Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Les Cazetiers" -- dark cherry fruit, powerful, rich, fine, racy and elegant. Good long finish. Vosne-Romanée "Les Petits Monts" -- she has 1/2 of a hectare of 80 year old vines. "Planted before my grandfather". It is so steep they have to plow with a winch. She says it's a very quiet vineyard, maybe because there are no tractors? This has lovely sweet, dark fruit and layers and layers of complexity, very long finish. It's one of those wines I hope I can try again. Clos Vougeot -- from the bottom of the Clos but very old vines and good plant material. Nice perfume, good body and weight, complex, earthy, good long finish. Definitely Grand Cru. This is a very good example of this most mysterious grand cru which is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes disappointing. I think that the very best Clos Vougeot combines the perfume of Musigny with the power and spice of Grands Échezeaux. Domaine Nicolas Faure In the minuscule hamlet of Meuilley is the home of Domaine Nicolas Faure - now a full 1 hectare of greatness. I am very proud to sell his wines and am delighted when someone comes in and notices the distinct label and picks it up. The last fellow was Danish, the one before was French. Every so often it is a sommelier or server who has heard the message. Sales of the Nuits-Saint-Georges are limited to two bottles per customer. These are wines of remarkable purity and persistence of flavor, they are farmed carefully and hand harvested, usually fermented in whole clusters and vinified with minimal sulphur. He wants to do everything himself and on his own terms, his domaine has grown to 1 hectare and he thinks that is big enough. I tasted on Monday March 19th. 2017 Aligoté "La Corvee de Bully". This wine comes from 100+ year old vines in Pernand-Vergelesses not far from Corton-Charlemagne. Fresh, bright, white flowers + citrus, saline, good fruit, good balance very mineral. 2017 Coteaux Bourguignons "Mes Gamays" -- really stinky and reduced. Not approachable today. 2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges "Les Herbues" -- from the Vosne side of NSG below "Aux Saint Jacques" and bordering Vosne Romanee "Aux Raviolles". Also reduced but tasteable. Beneath the stink there is a lot of pure fine big fruit. Something to look forward to next year. 2017 Aloxe-Corton -- this is from two vineyard sites at the base of the hill of Corton, Les Paulands and Les Caillettes. Really pretty with great cherry fruit, a great surprise. Lovely wine. 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons "Mes Gamays" -- very concentrated and dense, floral, red fruits - a very good Gamay Noir a jus blanc - a noble grape! 2016 Nuits-Saint-Georges "Les Herbues" -- this is much more reasonable and giving than the 2017. Nice crunchy red fruit and a real snap of mineral tanginess, this is a beautiful 2016 that can age nicely if you can hide some away but all of Faure's wines drink well young, it is very hard not to open and drink them. 2016 Aloxe-Corton -- red fruit, complexity, big but light on it's feet, very nice, very agreeable, user-friendly. I think I heard the words "airien" and "energie terrible". Bravo. This village level Aloxe-Corton wine is from the most modest climats at the very base of the hill. Les Paulands is one of those vineyards that has village and 1er Cru Aloxe-Corton and Grand Cru. Bressandes is above and Marechaudes is to the west. It is so damn good it is a testament to Nicolas' skills as a grower, winemaker and eleveur. One can only imagine the heights he could reach if he had access to some premier cru or grand cru vineyards. He has farmed many Grand Cru vineyards at Romanee-Conti and Prieure-Roch. He learned how to farm very steep slopes while working for Jean-Louis Chave and it will be interesting to see what he will do with his steep hillside plantings up in the terraces of Nuits Saint Georges. I can hardly wait. Domaine Georges Noellat with Maxime Cheurlin (Seul proprietaire) Max Cheurlin is focussed on expanding his holdings. Like many small producers he also has a micro-negociant, the label reads "Maxime Cheurlin Noellat". He bought some Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Feusselottes, some Gevrey Chambertin "Champ", some Beaune 1ers, a parcel of Meursault, some more Gevrey AC and 1er and he is looking for more. He wants to make Bourgogne Rouge. Now that is exciting for me. He loves his work. He loves wine, he loves food, he loves his dog Lafite. He has boundless energy, his first vintage was 2010, he was twenty years old. I told him that I had some 2012 NSG 1er "Aux Boudots" in the shop and his eyes got wide and he asked me if I would sell them to him. I asked why and he said he thought that was one of the first really good wines he had made and that he didn't have any left, he had either sold or drank them all. I only had 3 bottles left at that point and we both agreed it seemed silly to send them back to France. A passion for wine, indeed. 2016 Hautes Cotes de Nuits -- very pretty, fresh and fine - red fruits with nice mineral snap, bracing acidity. Max's HCN vines are in Vergy, which is way up above the border of Nuit-Saint-Georges and Vosne Romanee. I like the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits more and more for two reasons; 1. I can afford wine from producers that I usually can't. 2. These days the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits ripens and the wines are downright user friendly when they used to be mean and acidic. 2016 Beaune 1er Cru "Tuvillans" -- from a parcel he splits with Pascal Marchand. Nice floral aromas, red fruits, good mouthweight - very concentrated because of the 2016 very reduced yields. This will drink well young. 2016 Gevrey Chambertin "Aux Echezeaux" -- nice bouquet, good weight in the mouth. Nice, rich ripe red fruit, good mouth weight, mineral, complex. Long finish. Really delivers for a a village level Gevrey. Again, very concentrated. 2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Aux Boudots" -- very Vosne, very fine. Spice box on the nose. Ripe tannins. Lots of depth, complexity, power - this has everything. He has over a hectare of Boudots and he has a really good touch with this. 2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Cras" -- blackberries and black cherries and plums and five spice powder. Rich and pure and super fine, very Vosne. Super powerful and complex with ripe tannins that seem to melt in the fruit. A remarkable wine. 2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Petits Monts" -- a little reduction but not so much that you can't taste what is underneath. Black fruits, supple tannin, concentration. I wrote "very Vosne" which is funny because it is Vosne. Such a beautiful mineral, medium bodied but powerful. Super long finish. Elegant. 2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Beaux Monts" -- very fine pure and rich. Mineral, spice, dark fruits, very very long finish. Another super wine 2016 Grands Echezeaux -- wow: big and rich and "airien", a big powerful wine that is light on its feet like a big cat, it has grace and subtlety. 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Aux Cras" -- this was pretty, super ripe and forward and tangy. Very refreshing after the barrel samples.