The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the "Judgement of Paris," really changed the wine world's perception of California wine. Recently we embarked with some friends on a "passport" tasting that was offered from five of the California wineries represented at the Judgement of Paris. I typically don't do these type of events but I found myself relaxing in the environs and getting to know these wineries' offerings better. In the end, it was great to experience the wines on premises and in their environment. Here are my thoughts on the wines from each of the wineries we visited:
So here are my overall rankings......
Life is too short not to be drinking GOOD Burgundy. The trick is to find affordable ones, so you can continue enjoying them for longer. Claudie Jobard is an 8th-generation wine maker. Her mother was head winemaker for Domaine Drouhin from 1973 to 2005. Her father is pépiniériste in Burgundy and is considered "in the know” in Burgundy.
The winery is organic with vines about 45 yrs old. Claudine is no stranger to oak and she knows how to use it correctly. Only 15% of her wines will go into new oak. As my colleague Anya said, “It was the 2011 Rully Montagne La Folie that got me oohing and ahhing and also thinking about those A-list California wines that I got to taste earlier in the day. What occured to me was that this Rully, in its composition and character, was exactly what I believe many domestic producers are trying to replicate but so often miss the mark because their fruit, though vinified dry, can taste sweet on the finish, whereas this Rully, with all its fullness and broad palate, finishes crisp and bone-dry. It’s fresh and vibrant and it begs you to take another sip.” I could not have said it better myself.
Be sure to check out the Company’s Coming selections: we are featuring a white and a red burgundy. The holidays are fast approaching and these are affordable winners for your dinner parties or gifts.
The last winemaker that I met on my trip to Burgundy was Paul Pernot. Again, I cannot thank Jeanne Marie de Champs of Domaines et Saveurs for her time and introductions to these fine winemakers. I have been selling Pernot’s wines for many many years now and knew what to expect somewhat based on my experiences with his wines. Like his wines, Paul Pernot is a seemingly simple man, but behind the exterior is honest hard work, a drive, a purity, and great complexity. There is nothing precious about the man, the vineyard, or his wines. Pernot is about tradition, pride, and passion for crafting his wines.
Paul Pernot is 5th generation burgundian winemaker. His great-great grandfather, a négociant in Puligny, started the vine purchasing. Between vineyards that were inherited and his purchases of the past 30 years, the estate has grown to over 23 hectares (about 57 acres). The vines are all in great shape and range in age from 20 to 55 years in age.
Paul and Michel, his sons, are the ones that actively run the winery now, but Paul is very much still the patriarch. They are carrying on the tradition with great results. Pernot’s wines are known for their minerality and clean fruit, and they know how to use new oak in a supporting role.
The Bourgogne Blanc is a no-brainer purchase at $23.50 a bottle, but when you pick up your case to get you through crab season, go for a few bottles for the cellar, too. Your only disappointment will be that you should have bought more for your cellar.
On my recent to trip to Burgundy, Jeanne Marie de Champs of Domaines et Saveurs took precious time out of her schedule to show us Burgundy through her eyes. One of the winemakers we met with her was Jean-Pierre Cornut of Chateau de la Maltroye.
Before I even laid eyes on Jean-Pierre I knew I was in the right spot. His home and winery were exactly how I envisioned them—not a stone out of place. It truly has to be the tidiest winery I have ever visited.
Jean-Pierre Cornut was an aviation engineer in Paris when his father fell ill in 1992. The family estate soon became Jean-Pierre’s responsibility. His meticulous personality has led him to success: He has transformed a very good estate into a first class estate. He prides himself on having the cleanest cellars in France. In constant search for perfection, he could not miss harnessing the elusive nature of Pinot Noir.
After meeting him and tasting his wines with him and Jeanne Marie de Champs, I completely understand him and his wines. He appreciates art and design. Even though he is very into precision, I get the feeling he understands that all he can do is give structure and support to what his vines give him. You might not say he is a nurturing personality, but it is very apparent that he is extremely passionate about what he does. With his passion comes the endless desire to seek perfection in such a mercurial grape as pinot noir, while handling the body of Chardonnay, and consistently making brilliant vintages.
Don’t worry about Jean-Pierre not getting out to have fun, as I am sure the gorgeous Ferrari in his cellar lets him release any frustration he might have with what nature gives him. Now when I think about how much “drive” his White Burgundies have, I will have a nice picture of his Ferrari in my mind. Amazing wines and a brilliant winemaker. One of his Red Burgundies is featured in this month’s Company Coming but he has many more Burgundies (white and red) that would be a fabulous addition to any wine cellar.
2010 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet (white) $56
Rated: 88 by Stephen Tanzer, Sep 12
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Pale, bright yellow. Citrus peel and a hint of olive on the nose. Plush, sexy and open-knit but with enough acidity to maintain its shape. The olive element carries through onto the palate. Nicely dense village wine with moderate lift.
2009 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Clos St. Jean Rouge $65
2009 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet La Boudriotte Rouge $66
2009 Chateau de la Maltroye Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Vignes Blanches $90
Rated: 91 by Stephen Tanzer, Sep/Oct 11
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright yellow. Lemon, lime and powdered stone aromas. Then surprisingly fat and open-knit, with good limey lift to the smooth peach fruit. Finishes nicely dry and fresh, with a perfumed floral quality and a hint of warmth. Nicely coats the palate, but this is not a particularly weighty example of Morgeot--or of 2009.
Being a longtime fan of the Ehrharts’ wines, it was an obvious choice to visit Alsace and meet Philippe and Corrine Ehrhart. They are very much like their wines—quiet strength, no flash, completely authentic—they know who they are and where they come from. All of their wines are organic and biodynamic and fermented in stainless steel. Sounds simple, but these days I think it’s harder and harder to come by both.
They are a family business, first and foremost. During our visit we met in the old tasting room, since they were in the midst of large-scale building project. Last year, they completed the new winemaking facility and next year they will be done building their tasting room and cellar. They are moving from the middle of Wettolsheim (just outside of Colmar) to the edge of Wettolsheim, so they have room to grow are closer to La Route des Vins. As soon as the new tasting room is built, Philippe’s parents will move to live atop the new facilities, as this is what they are accustomed to: They need to be “on top” of things. This family has three generations of history hand crafting their product through all phases.
Tasting with winemakers, you never know what ground you will cover (pardon the pun), but that is exactly what we discussed: terroir. While we were tasting, Corinne showed me on the map the location of each vineyard site. I was noticing the difference in body between Hengst and Herrenwerg and she noted that is because Hengst is higher in elevation and has a greater amount of red clay, which is attributed to the fuller body. Information like that is invaluable to tasting and understanding wine.
If you are ever in Alsace, Colmar is well worth the visit as is seeing the Ehrharts and the neighboring town of Eguisheim. This month in Everyday Libations, we are featuring one of my favorites from the Ehrharts, Pinot Auxerrois. It’s a great summer wine to have on hand to pair with appetizers and salads.
In Burgundy, I had the good fortune to meet up with Jeanne Marie de Champs of Domaines et Saveurs. She took precious time out of her schedule to give us a glorious afternoon in Burgundy meeting two winemakers whose wines I was familiar with and one new winemaker. Meeting the young and rosy-cheeked Philippe Pernot, grandson of Paul Pernot, was a great way to end the day of tasting. Philippe, raised amongst winemaking, married the daughter of a Puligny grower ,and thus... a winery is born, Domaine Pernot-Bélicard.
Philippe is into his fourth vintage. Having just tasted whites from two masterful vintners in the area, it was extremely interesting to taste his wines at the end of the day. While some of his wines didn’t have the preciseness as the elders I had just tasted, they were still great wines and extremely enjoyable. There was a sense of earnestness and drive to all his wines. The wines show great promise for immediate drinking and for the cellar. You can taste his understanding of his vineyards, and his unassuming style really comes through in his wines. The minerality is there, and he lets the uniqueness of each vineyard shine. The highlights from our barrel tasting were the Meursault (Village, $50) and the Puligny Montrachet Premiere Cru Camp Canet ($79).
I asked Jeanne Marie de Champs why she had chosen to add Philippe to her portfolio and she said, “I had been tasting his work along the way and seen him work his vineyards.” (She likes to drop by unannounced.) “He understands his vineyards and knows his craft, first and foremost. I see a bright future for him and his wines.” I couldn’t agree more.
This month in Company’s Coming we are featuring..... We have also added his other wines to the store. Be sure to sign up to try some.
Three years have passed, but it seems like just yesterday when I met the amazing Elisabetta Fagioli of Montenidoli. In 2008, my daughter and I went to San Gimignano, where she hosted us for a glorious lunch, an equally amazing dinner that night, Sunday morning church the next day and then an off-road expedition of her estate and vineyards. It was a visit to remember! After our trip, the economy went south and her wines haven't been available on the West Coast until now. We will be featuring some of her wines this month and also next month. The doyenne of Tuscany is “back in the house!" If you want to taste a white wine from Tuscany that has presence, you must reach for one of Elisabetta’s wines. They universally have depth and complexity and truly reflect the land and woman behind the curtain.
This year one of my colleagues went to NY for the Vino2011 and was able to present to Elisabetta a painting my daughter made for her after our trip. Alex did an oil painting of Elisabetta’s wondrous vernaccia grapes at age 11.
I feel so blessed to have met such a life force and talented winemaker. She is one of those people that you know is so exceptional that you are fortunate if you meet just one person like her in your lifetime—truly inspirational. Yes, I am still under her spell.
Here is the link to the previous post with pictures:
Hello, I bet you've been wondering where I've been. With the holidays, high school applications and a major remodel, my blog unfortunately had to take a back burner. I'll be back soon with more of my adventures in wine and food. In the mean time, here are some photos from my recent trip up to Napa!
Inspiration can come in many forms. Yes, wine has some hedonistic values and you can seem to be inspired under its influence, but that's not what this story is about. This is about an amazing man named Vince Mulroy who has left us but still inspires me and many others.
I met Vince Mulroy about 10 years ago over a project when we consulted for several months about which wines to give an amazing and talented mutual friend for her 50th birthday. Over time, my husband and I became much better acquainted with Vince and his equally gracious wife, Anne. I was given the opportunity to help manage his personal wine cellar and grow our friendship. Vince was always there to make you laugh, mentor you if needed or just be present with you. You knew you were blessed when you received a random email from him where he was checking in with you. He had an incredible gift with the written word where his wit and intellect came off with ease and humbleness—a rare combination.
Vince worked tirelessly with a start-up non-profit group called Mama Hope. Mama Hope is an organization that's helping communities in Africa under the leadership of the Nyla Rogers (another amazing force of nature). As their website states: "We have a unique approach to development where we work directly with communities and take a consultative approach to help these organizations to implement sustainable projects which are then built, managed and maintained by the communities they serve. The rest of the development effort comes from the community itself - not a government, an agency, or a bureaucracy."
So what does Vince and Mama Hope have to do with wine? The answer comes from a new wine series called Rarecat Lionheart Sauvignon Blanc. John and Sharon Harris, owners of Rarecat Wines in Napa, were friends of Vince's and decided to start a new line that would benefit charities. As their website desribes the line: “Our Lionheart series is dedicated each year to a true rare cat, an individual who touches the lives of others, and supports the charity of their choice. Our inspiration and first honoree is Vincent Mulroy who was a great supporter of Mama Hope. A percentage of the profits from sales of this wine and from the release event will be donated to Mama Hope with the goal of raising $20,000 for a boarding school in rural Tanzania and for funding a new mentoring program.”
I know it sounds corny, but it's an amazing thing to see how one man’s spirit has impacted and moved people to make this world a better place. Of course, if Vince was here, he would be ever so humble and not want any credit. He would probably mutter something about why on earth would people listen to someone as deranged as him, but all the while everyone around him was the wiser.
I won’t be selling the Lionheart series on my website, as the profits need to go to Mama Hope. So if the spirit moves\ you, visit Rarecat’s website and just buy one bottle or donate directly to Mama Hope. The wine is stunning and of inspired complexity.
Rarecat Wines: Lionheart Series
Angela Camacho, a certified sommelier and author of a best selling wine tool, The Wine Wheel®, shares her obsession with wine and food.