Thibaud Boudignon has gone through the three stages of small-producer cultdom. First, there were the tweets and instagram posts. Maybe a foreign blog or small magazine article. The allusions to his wine were rapturous, but enigmatic and mostly from overseas. Then came phase two: devoted wine folk "suit-cased" bottles home to America to share with friends. Word spread. The hunt was on. Finally, phase three: an importer (Sacred Thirst) started bringing small amounts straight to California. Thanks guys! Boudignon really exploded as a Chenin producer. But he has 40ish-year-old Cabernet Franc vines that he treats much like the Chenin (except that he blocks malos to preserve freshness). With little skin contact, the red grapes make something pink, fresh, and delicious. Last year, it was one of our very favorite rosés. Fresh and mineral in a way that only the Loire can give, and gently fruity. Unfortunately, we only got a few cases so couldn't spread around the pleasure. But this year we got a bit more, please indulge! *As a treat for our loyal blog readers, use code CULTROSE for a special 15% off when buying two or more bottles. Expires this Sunday 5/27/18. Cheers, Your Friends at Flatiron Wines Don't want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it's also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine. We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site's sophisticated technology isn't functioning as described. ;)
A Special Report from John Beaver Truax In March I had the good fortune to return to Burgundy and attend the Hospices de Nuits auction and a bi-annual event for the international wine trade, the "Grand Jours de Bourgogne". This is a five day event that covers the wines of Burgundy from Macon all the way up to Chablis. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun. I really look forward to going every two years. I stayed for an extra week and visited some new producers and revisited a lot of old friends - like the ebullient and dynamic Pascal Marchand, a charismatic Canadian who moved from Montréal to Burgundy in 1983, worked harvest for Bruno Clair. He worked so hard that Bruno invited him to stay in a paid position. He was there for a year and the became the winemaker at Comte Armand, owner of the monopole Pommard 1er Cru 'Clos des Epeneaux" for many years. Then he had the opportunity to build a Domaine from scratch, Domaine de la Vougeraie from 1999 through 2005. Pascal has a negociant label Marchand/Tawse and Domaine Tawse. They bought Domaine Maume in Gevrey Chambertin and have folded that into their vast portfolio of Burgundy vineyards. We had a great tasting at his Nuits Saint Georges cuverie, a sprawling facility with miles of underground cellars beneath the streets of Nuits Saint Georges. Parts of it are like being in a bomb shelter, it is an unbelievably massive network of tunnels that seem to go on forever. Pascal is an old friend and he is a fireball, his energy and enthusiasm are infectious. You spend a few hours with him and get really keyed up, his is an infectious and contagious excitement. He had just returned from the Montreal Film Festival and the premiere of "Grand Cru" a documentary about the very difficult 2016 Burgundy harvest starring - Pascal Marchand! We started with a 2016 Chambolle Musigny Villages, it had a perfumed nose, nice body on the mid palate and an astringent finish. A nice wine. Next a 2016 Savigny les Beaune "Les Lavieres": Brambly, kind of rustic, good fruit, extract and body. I told him I liked it, a good honest wine. Pascal said, "Thanks but I wish I had more. Look - that's it. Two barrels in 2016. In 2015 I had 15-16 barrels." Then 2016 Morey Saint Denis "En la Rue de Vergy": Black fruit, super aromatic, very pretty. Pascal has a good feel for Morey Saint Denis. 2016 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru "Clos des Ormes": Very dark fruit, brooding, deep, big rich and powerful. Long finish. A super wine. 2016 Beaune 1er Cru "Tuvilans": Rich ripe red fruits and very fine ripe tannins - very good indeed. 2016 Volnay "Fremiets": Big rich red fruits, very fine and supple tannin, good long finish. 2016 Vosne Romanée "Champ Perdrix": From the top of the hill, this was a special cuvee Pascal made with no sulfur added. Dark fruit like blackberries and plums this wine was very pure and rich with explosive fruit, it really jumped out of the glass. Nice lingering finish. 2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Les Perrieres": I wrote "Strong, powerful, minty + forest floor - very Nuits" 2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru "Richemone": Powerful black fruits, big and rich and Vosne-like 2016 Pommard 1er Cru "Rugiens": Powerful, big rich black-fruited, tannic and a very long finish. Pascal knows a thing or two about Pommard. 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Les Cherbaudes": Lovely fruit bomb, very dark cherry, very drinkable, wanted to take it to dinner. 2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Lavaux Saint Jacques": Also very pretty, seductive with dark cherry fruit 2016 Échezeaux: A curious spice and fruit laden nose that was like cinnamon and quince paste - really unique and fabulous, truly Grand Cru complexity! 2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Combe Brulee": Black fruit and five spice, allspice - pure and ripe with a very long finish. 2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Petits Monts": Very powerful, tannic, rich and long 2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru "Suchots": Inky, dark black fruit, very fine subtle silky ripe tannins, very long finish, really a showstopper. 100% whole cluster fermented because Pascal says that this parcel of Suchhots has the "finest Pinot Fin he has ever seen with very thin stems, tiny berries". 2016 Clos Saint Denis: Ethereal and fine - super juice - a wine of great finesse. 2016 Clos de la Roche: Very very good and powerful, a show stopper full of black fruit, tannin, complexity, everything. 2016 Charmes-Chambertin: A very tangy wine with great salinity and great power. 2016 Mazoyeres-Chambertin: Rich boysenberry fruit with great salinity on the very long finish. 2016 Mazis-Chambertin: Big rich black fruit with tangy oyster shell salinity on the finish. 2016 Musigny: A very pale color, almost like a dark rose wine, Pascal did not crush the berries, he destemmed by hand and fermented them intact in a barrel and let them pop. A very delicate yet powerful wine of a filigreed complexity that unfold and unfolds into a very lingering finish. Simply magnificent. He made Musigny at Domaine de la Vougeraie and then for a while he wondered if he would ever be able to make Musigny again. Now he can and he is delighted. Marc de Bourgogne: I wasn't about to start drinking Marc before dinner but I did taste it and spat it out. He has been making a barrel of Marc every year for seven years and just ages them. He is thinking about blending the barrels before he sell it as a multi-vintage blend. After the tasting we drove to Beaune for dinner at Ma Cuisine. This restaurant has been the place to go for the international wine trade when in Beaune. You never know who you might see in there. Owner Pierre Escoffier greeted us and it seemed like Pascal knew half of the diners. Or more. A number of people got up from their tables to kiss him on both cheeks, slap on the back, how are you, great to see you, you must try this wine, etc. There was a table hosted by a Beverly Hills based importer with a group of sommeliers from Los Angeles and San Francisco, their table was littered with great bottles, Comte Lafon, Chave Hermitage white, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee, Selosse Rose, a bottle of Yquem and just for good measure a fine old bottle of Vin Jaune. This group was not messing around. We sat down, perused the list and I was surprised that Pascal chose a 2015 Pibarnon Bandol - he loves this wine and had not had the new vintage. We ordered a dozen escargot and I got the pigeon, an old favorite. At the table next to us were three 20 something year old sommeliers from Montreal, two young women and one young man talking in that unmistakable Quebecois accent. They could barely contain their excitement at being seated right next to us. Are you Pascal Marchand? Can we take a picture with you? Really?! I was roped into photographer duties with all three cell phones. Three thrilled millennial Montreal sommeliers were now home town heroes on Instagram. After dessert, coffee and Calvados it was time to call it a night. Six hours later Pascal was up and back at it. Join us this Wednesday, May 16th, from 5:30 until 7:30, as we welcome winemaker Thomas Dinel, of Maison Marchand-Tawse. There will be wine! You can meet a true movie star! Ask him your questions and he'll give you some answers.
Our Reasonable Cellar posts are so often about things that are slightly off. An off region. An off grape. An off vintage. But today nothing is off at all. The inspiration was Brovia Barolo 2008. In one of my better moves, I tucked a way an entire case of the wine when we got it maybe five or six years ago. About a couple of years ago I cracked my first bottle. Now I love mature Barolo most of all, but I’m pretty OK with young Barolo too. I’m pretty happy with fresh, tannic reds, especially with grilled beef. But not when they’re shut down! 2008 Brovia Barolo: A 'decent' vintage now at ten years is singing That first bottle of 2008 that I opened, maybe 18 months ago, was totally shut down. We opened it and it didn’t taste of much at all. We decanted it and then it just tasted of tannins. We decanted it some more and still more tannins. It hung out in my fridge for a day or two and then just tasted…unfresh. That’s what wine is like when it’s shut down. But around six months ago it was not shut down. It wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders, but it was a very enjoyable bottle of Barolo. So a month ago I opened up another bottle. Yum! And another bottle last week. Victory! That was a singing bottle of Barolo, with just the right combo of fresh cherry Nebbiolo fruit and that tar-rose-porcini heaven that you want from mature Barolo. It turns out that the “normale” Barolo from Brovia — in a decent but not epic vintage — is ready to drink at around age 10. Now, I write all this not to brag about a smart move I made five years ago, but to help us all plan for the future. It so happens that a very awesome vintage of Brovia’s “normale” is on the market today. Surprisingly, it hasn’t moved from the Reasonable Cellar budget range that it occupied back when the 2008 was released. 2013 Brovia Barolo: One of the best straight Barolos you'll come across It’s Barolo, not an “off" region at all. It’s 2013, not an off vintage at all, but one of the best two or three so far this century. It’s certainly not an obscure producer. It’s not even a wine that’s escaped the attention fo the press. Antonio Galloni give it a monster score and said "This one of the best straight Barolos readers will come across.” Not bad! The wine is certainly shut down today, as a recent drinking confirmed. No matter how much air I gave it the wine just didn’t give back. But that’s OK. Experience has shown me that it will come around in a few years. I’ve put an entire case aside. While I wait, I can enjoy those 2008s! We have plenty of Brovia 2013 in stock in both NY and SF. It’s normally $48.99/bottle in NY and $51.99 in SF but the wine will discount to $42.99 when using the coupon codes, below. Buy Brovia, Barolo, 2013 in New York City. (Use coupon code "BROVIA2013NYC") Buy Brovia, Barolo, 2013 in San Franciso. (Use coupon code "BROVIA2013SF") Don't want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it's also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine. We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site's sophisticated technology isn't functioning as described. ;)
It's not quite spring-like outside here in New York, but warmer weather and asparagus is surely just around the corner -- and of course our colleagues and customers in San Francisco are already well into their beautiful spring. So what does all this mean for wine? Basically three things. It's the beginning of Rosé season and everyone is eager to change up their wine game with something pink. Fortunately, some of our favorites have just arrived and make their way on to the list below. It's also time to think about spring vegetables and to address the age old question: what exactly goes with asparagus? There are a couple of answers below. Finally, this is the time of year when I crave freshness above all else. I stop hitting the big old wines in the cellar and start bringing home the youngsters. I give Barolo a break and turn to Dolcetto. Don't worry big wines, grilling season is just a few weeks away! Here's my list (in no particular order, and definitely skewed towards my usual hunting grounds like Piedmont, Loire etc.): Arnot-Roberts Rose 2017 ($27.99). This is an easy one to start with! It's usually the first Rosé from the most recent harvest that we carry, and it's always here in time for spring. It's not the sort of super-light Rosé that you'll crave when the weather turns really hot but perfect on a cool spring day. Of all things, this is made from Port variety Touriga Nacional grown at 1400 feet above Clear Lake! (available in SF and NYC) Poderi Colla Nebbiolo 2015 ($29.99). Ok, I may give Barolo a break for a few weeks in the spring, but does that mean I have to give up Nebbiolo? Hell no. And this one is so tasty. This is single vineyard Nebbiolo with some pretty old vines, aged in large barrels for a year and then again for a year in bottle. From an estate that is fast becoming a big deal in Piedmont. (available in NYC only) Selbach-Oster, Riesling Feinherb, 2016 ($17.99). You knew I had to include a Riesling because, well, Riesling is an important part of my diet four seasons out of four. In spring, maybe I back away from the sweeter wines, but something fresh, light and with a dash of sweetness like this Feinherb will do perfectly. Spring vegetable friendly. (available in NYC and SF) Knoll, Gelber Muskateller Loibner Federspiel, 2016 ($31.99). Here in New York we're still actually waiting for the asparagus to arrive. In the mean time, you can do what they do in Central Europe and enjoy jarred white asparagus. Just cut some up and include it in a salad with a light vinaigrette for a delightful early spring dinner (yeah, go ahead and throw a little bacon in there too..). In Austria they would probably drink a Muskateller with a dish like that, and we'll do that too, because it totally works. We have one from Wachau master Knoll. (sorry, available in NYC only but you've already got fresh asparagus in SF!) Domaine Bruyere (Reynaud), Croze Hermitage "Cuvee Georges Reynaud", 2015 ($26.99). Syrah is a bit like Nebbiolo. I need a short break from Cornas and Hermitage, but I don't want to give up the grape! Fortunately, Reynaud makes lovely Croze that is beautifully juicy and fresh for drinking young in springtime weather. All biodynamic. (available in NYC only) Gerard Boulay, Sancerre Rose, 2016 ($27.99). We're still waiting for most of the vintage 2017 Rosés to show up, but a nice thing about this time of year is that some of the Rosés from the vintage before actually start to show better at this point. Especially the good ones! Boulay's Sancerre Rosé was delicious in its first year, but is now really coming into its own. (available in NYC only) Deschamps, Pouilly-sur-Loire "Les Loges", 2016 ($16.99). Here's another wine that I love so much that I'm happy to drink all year long. But it's such a great spring-vegetable wine that this is a particularly great time to break out a bottle. This is an oddity: 100% Chasselas, from Pouilly Fumé! It's got that Loire Valley minerality that delivers the freshness I want, and the Chasselas gives a glorious floral touch that demands...asparagus? (available in NYC only) Hager, Pinot Noir, 2014 1L ($17.99). Obviously any top 10 list I produce is going to have some Pinot Noir on it. What surprises me here is that the Pinot Noir is from Germany! I can't explain it. There's nothing more spring-like about Germany than Burgundy or Oregon. I just happen to really enjoy drinking this Pinot right now. Pinot Noir has a reputation for being pricey, but this really delivers the grape's sophistication for a great price, especially when you do the math on this being a 1L bottle. Delicious. (available in NYC only) Gianni Brunelli, Rosso di Montalcino, 2016 ($30.99). Here we have the young and fresh version of Brunello di Montalcino. Probably I shouldn't have it on this list because we don't have much and certainly can't get more. But Jesus it is a really good wine. 2016 is such a great vintage pretty much everywhere in Italy and maybe everywhere in Europe, and we are just starting to get to enjoy its fresh red wines. (available in NYC only) Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (Jacky Blot), Montlouis sur Loire "Remus", 2016 ($29.99). This wine has everything going for it. It's so fresh and yummy. It's happy hanging out with spring vegetables, but is so versatile I would drink this with just about anything. And it's Chenin Blanc...a four season grape that all of us seem to want more and more of. But in spring, I don't want anything too sweet, and don't need anything too old. This is what I want. (available in NYC only)