Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

Wine for Winter (Tops for Me) 

 

NV Domaine André et Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura “BBF”, Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot (Jura)

BBF = Blanc de Blanc élevé en Fût! From  Crémant du Jura, extra-brut and super fine. Élevage in barrel for a year, then second fermentation in bottle, racked for 52 months. Delicate bubbles with some weighty flavors from the Chardonnay but still funky fresh. Biodynamic.


imageParaschos ‘Ponka’ Bianco Venezia Giulia IGT, 2014 (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Picolit, Verduzzo, grown in San Floriano which is on the border of Italy and Slovenia, so plots are on either side. Ferments in open top clay amphorae without controlled temperature, then transferred to Slavonian oak botte to mature on the lees for 2 years. Biodynamic.

imageI Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso “Clivi Brazan”, Brazzano di Cormons, 2001 (Collio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

Friulano and 15% Malvasia from 80 year old vines. The wine is aged 140 months (more than a decade!)  in stainless steel tanks. I let it hang out in the glass and it kept opening up the longer it was out. Over a couple days, with each session’s glass getting closer to room temperature, it really has a quietly expressive, intimate character. You might say the same for its maker, Ferdinando.



IMG_1234Chateau Musar Cuvée Blanc, Bekaa Valley, 2001 (Lebanon)

!!!Obaideh & Merwah (those are grapes, heard they’re related to Chardonnay & Semillon). High altitude plots,  sunny year round, chalky soil and low yields. Fermented separately for 9 months in French oak, then blended after first year. Released after another 6 years. Not for the faint hearted. Needs a passionate mood and a big, fat burgundy glass to rest in before consumption.

  Domaine Labet “La Reine”, Côtes du Jura 2013

Gamay is still happy even when it’s not from Beaujolais. If you’re affected by Fleurie like me, you’ll like this. “The Queen” is tasty- elegant but not without corners, a little floral. I like Labet.

Soignée 

 

 Axel Prüfer “Avanti Popolo”, Le Temps des Cerises Vin de Table, 2014 (Languedoc-Roussillon)

A young & quiet East German committed to non-interference wine production makes a political statement with Carignan. I love when this grape gets to shine on its own and is handled by someone who understands its character. Avanti Popolo (Italian for Forward, People!) is an alternate way to describe the Bandiera Rossa (red flag), a song and symbol of the socialist/communist movement used during the Italian Labour Movement, first written by Carlo Tuzzi in 1908 and used while fighting against Mussolini. “The Time of Cherries”, the wine’s name, reflects not only the Carignan grape, but of the symbolism of the socialist flag. Biodynamic. Pronounced acidity.

 

Domaine Sebastien “L’Hurluberlu”, David Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil, 2013 (Loire, France)

Referencing the 1959 French theatrical play, “L’Hurluberlu ou le Reactionnaire amoureux” by Jean Anouilh, the “Extravagant” is actually unlike its namesake, especially for a Cab Franc: it’s pretty lean, mainly due to its Beaujolais-style production (carbonic maceration), super quick élevage, and young vines. It’s unfiltered (check out that sediment!) biodynamic table wine from Bourgeuil. It is tasty in an Exploration to Mars kind of way and curiously balanced, so maybe the reference actually lies in the playwright’s review of his own production:

“Wanting to reform the world, a General realizes that he can not even keep order in his own family.”

 

 



  Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2013

Not many things are certain in life but this I can say for sure: I will always drink Nebbiolo. Even or especially if it’s some big Barolo or Barbaresco producer’s table wine that ended up on the shipment across the ocean. This one is no exception, in fact it is my current standard. It’s the balance of fruit, acidity and tannin that has such a rustic grace…I just really get down. A group of wine growers that form the cooperative Produttori del Barbaresco have blessed us with young vine Nebbiolo unfit for the life of Barbaresco and ideal for me. Hooray!

 

  Oddero “Rocche di Castiglione” Barolo, 2001

Single Cru Nebbiolo harvested from a cliff side vineyard, Rocche di Castiglione, on the edge of the Oddero estate. It’s taken me a while to get to a place where I can appreciate and/or afford something like this, so it’s not so much the light, jovial drinking party as this is a study in mastery, nuance, and progressive structural evolution in a glass. But being here is great. It’s like any other mood; in this wine I have found something to help me focus and become one with the Force.

#TheForceAwakens (but will it be good?)

 



 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2008

Amarone? That super rich, heavy, port stuff? Not even close. Blind taste this and you’re somewhere between a Barolo and a Northern Rhône. So much warm spice and cocoa nib raspberry liquorice, it reads more like coffee…so nimble and elegantly vigorous, how it’s possible I do not know. A wine with this kind of complexion isn’t an everyday, but when I feel fussy about something sweet  (I get confused why I don’t like dessert the way I did as a kid) or crave something intense to wrap around my tastebuds, now I know where to go.

 

Domaine Hausherr “La Colline Bombée” Fronenberg, 2011

 

Fun wine with lots of character and very drinkable. Pretty direct  and pronounced for a Pinot Noir. One of 10 different assemblages from Hubert and Heidi in Eguisheim (sounds like a place in Lord of the Rings), they pride themselves in letting the soil do most of the work, they respect the land and its tendencies, and expect each year to bring something slightly different. When describing their production technique, and I quote: “Mais rien de miraculeux, chez nous le seul miracle est celui de la nature!” (Nothing special, the only miracle here comes from nature itself!)

 

La Côte d’Or: Hubert Lignier Vieilles Vignes 1ère Cru 1996 (Morey St. Denis), Domaine Leflaive (Montrachet), Ghislaine Barthod (Chambolle)

When someone asks “Would you like to taste a 19 year old 1er Cru Burgundy?” there is only 1 appropriate response. We were visiting Frasier at Frenchie Bar a Vins in Paris (I was with my partner and our friend Aaron Rosenthal, sous chef at Septime). Our mission was simple: try to drink as much ridiculous wine as possible.

We’d started off earlier at Clamato, with Domaine Belluard Perles du Mont Blanc and oysters, some crudo, spring vegetables, aaand this guy:

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Feeling full and elated by 5:30, we went out in the spritzy Parisian rain for a walk around the 11th. We stopped for a round of oysters at La Buvette and caught up with the indomitable Camille. Dangerously close to ordering another bottle and more cheese and saucisson, we decided to leave still hungry. As we headed towards the 2eme Arr., we checked out a few old covered Passages, including the one that houses the impressive wine shop + bar a vins, Legrand Filles & Fils in Galerie Vivienne. The arcades were an interesting anecdote to the changing landscape of inner Paris, as the industrial revolution and Haussmann’s “city improvement” project that tore down many small streets and replaced them with grand boulevards. In these covered alleyways one could stroll, browse and indulge in utopian ideals of a modern city. Microcosms like this became the obsession of philosophers like Walter Benjamin who believed that these places were society’s attempts at a tangible equivalent to utopia. Commodities offered promise of the realization of dreams, something that he feared would overtake us. As we walked, we found ourselves observing and being observed, indulging in the endless array of things we could possess to satisfy our desires. But newness alone can’t sustain itself against the march of time…

Until recently, the Passages were mostly pretty run down. The ones that remain open served to connect different alleyways to main streets, usually housing various semi-open tchotchke shops and homeless, sometimes a bar. But there are a few that are starting to come to gastronomic life with fresh ideas, new petits bar à vin with natural wines and tiny, foraged seasonal menus. Beyond this, there remain beacons to that philosophical ideal of street/life/object, and while they are beautiful, the rest is lost behind exactly that. The passages are rebirthing once again as a voyeur destination, in a new form.

Frenchie Bar a Vins was bustling and uber-hyped as expected. But the difference was being there with good people and drinking exceptional wine. Here, try it! Splash of this, splash of that, finish this bottle, compare these two vintages, bottle of Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc, Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne Rouge, and all the cheese.

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Rather than elaborating on the taste experience, this was really more about the situation. I’ll remember it more as the taste of walking through the Passages, the steady gentle rain, the vertical garden L’Oasis d’Aboukir, the jokes and the lovely people who shared it with me.

Champagne Fleury, “Millésime” Cuveé Extra Brut, 1995

Pinot Noir (80%) and Chardonnay (20%)

The age gives this champagne such incredible structure and character, slightly “orangey” tasting with complex aromatics and impressive weight, only enhanced by it being 100% biodynamic. Held its own when paired with lamb ribs, mushrooms, watercress & lemon at Marta.

 

NV Paul Bara “Grand Rosé”, Brut Grand Cru, Bouzy

-35 year old vines (av.) grown in clay & limestone soil

-76 % Pinot Noir, 19 % Chardonnay, 5% Red wine

-A combination of direct press, saignée, and Bouzy Rouge

-Aged in bottle for 3 years before release

-Dosage: 10.8 g/l

Powerful, delicate, chalky minerality, effortless nuance of strawberry, one of the best sparkling rosés I’ve ever had. Photo taken at Marta, Roman pizzeria in Manhattan. Drank with smoked mackerel and scallop crudo.

 

Domaine Ghislaine Barthod, “Les Bons Bâtons” Bourgogne Rouge, 2009

There’s drinking wine, and then there’s drinking Burgundy. This region has intentionally remained untouched for me, because I’m pretty sure once I start down this road I’ll set it ablaze burning tire tracks into the cement and won’t turn back and I’ll be too broke to fix it. I told myself that I’d wait til I’m 45 to even think I have a chance at tasting something truly the essence of Burgundy. But then, I had another thought: all those delicious vintages between 1996 and 2020 will be past their prime….

So I started early.

I really didn’t want to mess this up, with all the years of hype I’d absorbed through random input, namely Bunuel’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie“, wine menus with 20 pages dedicated to the region, Pinot Noir lovers, even the color itself when attached to clothing or makeup….I thought “Jesus, what is it with this stuff?” and like most things that are popular, I brushed it off. Also because, I just didn’t want it to be that good (noted in advance that not ALL Burgundy is delicious).

It was crucial to spend a little extra to taste something true to the land, something local, small production, and preferably from a less popularized town. In the hands of friends, we chose a beautiful bottle made by Ghislaine Barthod, a woman who took her father’s already successful vineyard and elevated its distinction in every regard of production and taste. Her understanding of Pinot Noir is clear, and she lets it express itself clearly, untouched, in the glass. Milk chocolate & violets.

You can just tell. These things, these intuitive things, are the most impressive and joyous when shared. I felt like I was having a conversation with this wine, with Chambol (the commune), and with Ghislaine.

And so it begins.