Posts Tagged ‘Burgundy’

New Arrivals!

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

It’s been a busy few weeks for us LUSHes and we are loaded with new stuff for you to try! Here is a primer on some – by no means all – of them. Stay tuned for updates about upcoming wines and distillates. We will be posting here every week – promise!

2007, Nusserhof Sudtirol Lagrein Riserva, Alto Adige, Italy

The label, with its mix of German and Italian, already gives you an idea of this wine’s fascinating background. This wines hails from the Northern confines of Italy, a region nestled in the Alps, at the intersection of the Swiss and Austrian borders. It is known as Alto Adige in Italian, and Sudtirol in German – the language spoken in this region of what is technically still Italy is primarily German, rather than Italian, and most everything there, including this label, is bilingual.

Lagrein is one of the main red grapes grown in Alto Adige, along with Pinot Noir. Unlike Pinot however, Lagrein is almost exclusively grown in this region, and it is as multifaceted a grape as its environment. A good example will have the transparency, purity and silky tannins of pinot, along with the deeper fruit and slightly more brooding tones of a Northern Rhone Syrah. With age, it acquires a hint of gaminess which will also be familiar to Syrah lovers.

The producer here is Heinrich Mayr, from the Nusserhof winery, whose south-facing slopes offer ideal exposure for growing Lagrein. The wine is fermented using wild yeasts, and this Riserva sees no new oak, so what you get here is a very pure and traditional expression of Ladrein from Northern Italy. This will be a joy for those of you who like fuller bodied Pinot, or anyone curious about discovering a new wine region and its traditions!

$37

2009 Napolini Rosso dei Monti, Umbria, Italy

A newcomer to our beloved 10$ rack, we believe this will be your go to mid-spring grilling wine! From a winery that has been in the same family from generations, the farming is bo0th traditional and respectful of the environment. A cornucopia of local (Sangiovese, Sagrantino…) and european (merlot) varieties are blended and fermented together to make this wine, which sits for a year in stainless steel before bottling. This is deep and spicy from extended maceration with the skins, but not so much as to be heavy or too tannic. On the contrary, the texture is just peppery and a little rustic, and there is good acidity to keep things fresh and food friendly. This will do wonders with beefy and chewy cuts like hanger or NY strip. $10

NV Cattin Brut Cremant d’Alsace, Alsace, France

This is a Domaine that was founded in 1720 as a general purpose farm which also made wine, and became entirely dedicated to wine in the 1850s. The Maison Cattin became really famous, when one of the Cattin brothers, Joseph, opened in the early 20th century an Alsatian restaurant in Paris called la Cigogne, where his family’s wine took a prominent place on the list. The restaurant was a huge success, and as rich parisians and foreigners flocked to La Cigogne, the popularity of the Cattin wines started growing.

The winery has been growing since, reaching the size of 123 acres in the eighties with holdings in some of the best vineyards of the Alsace region. They make wine from all of the traditional varieties of the region, from riesling and sylvaner to pinot noir and pinot blanc. This Cremant is 100% hand harvested pinot blanc from a variety of parcels owned by domaine Cattin. It is fermented in stainless steal, then bottled and goes through a second fermentation in bottle. The wine is aged for at least a year in bottle before it’s sent to your table. This has the weight and fruitiness of pinot blanc, and low acidity. Ideal for aperitif or daytime drinking. $16.50

2010 Poderi Sette Terre, Pecorino, Terre di Chieti, Italy

First let make clear that the Pecorino involved here is not a cheese, but a grape variety. Sheep have always had a tendency to munch on the grape, and its name comes from the Italian word for sheep, pecora. Done.

This is a variety that went through a near-death experience. Pecorino had almost gone extinct thirty years ago, when global, critic-pleasing, money-making varieties slowly started to uprooting acres and acres of traditional grapes from the terroirs where they were supposed to grow. Thankfully it is now in the midst of a resurgence, and pecorino is actually growing.. This is probably because of the grapes delicious, as well as its tendency to naturally produce low yields and grapes which are naturally resistant to mildew. This is a lighter, fresh wine with a lively acidity and a minerally, almost salty finish. Amazing with fresher, softer goat cheeses. $10

2011 Tami Grillo, Sicily, Italy

Another wine, white this time, from Arianna Occhipinti’s negociant label, Tami. We all know the Nero d’Avola, and this is a white that is made along the same lines: a 100% native sicilian grape variety, left to ferment on its own, with very little sulfur added, only at bottling. This wine has the richness and the ripe aromatics of a warmer climate white, while retaining the acidity and minerality to make it feel incredibly fresh. There’s a peachy note to the nose, alongside some pretty stunning floral aromatics that are balanced by a really delicious savory and minerally streak – think ever-so-slightly-dirty martini, with a sprinkle of sea salt. $17.75

2006 Roger Belland, Santenay-Beauregard 1er Cru, Burgundy, France

Pinot noir from one of the most feminine and elegant – and not completely out of reach to non-millionaires – appellations in Burgundy. Santenay produces both red and white wines that are known for their versatility: in the cellar, they’re delicious and generous right off the starting blocks, with suave tannins and very pretty and delineated aromas, but they’re known to have enough structure to mature and develop classic mature Burgundy notes of wet earth while retaining the acidity and the fruit to keep them fresh. Versatility at the dinner table too of course: this will pair gorgeously with pretty much anything (make it fancy though, there are only a few thousands bottles produced from Belland’s tiny holdings in the appellation), but somehow squab or duck, or even a good old roast chicken seem ideal. The Belland domaine has been in the family for 6 generations and this particular bottling is made in very small quantities. 30% of the grapes are not destemmed before crushing, which will add a certain amount of structure and help the wine age better. It also sees a bit of new wood after fermentation, but by now the wood has integrated and doesn’t feel like a separate element. The Domaine says this should reach peak drinking at 8 years of age. It is 7 now, and drinking beautifully already! $40

2010 Pinot Noir, Starr Ridge Vineyard, Davis Family Vineyards, Russian River Valley, CA

There’s a lot that could be said about Guy Davis and his wines, single vineyard Pinots, Chardonnays and Syrahs from the Russian River Valley. They’re made with love in very small batches. I have recently come across this testimonial, from someone who goes by the name Mindy T in Chicago wine circles:

“a super cool wine from a super cool man, Guy Davis. This is called 2010 Starr Ridge and was given 93 points by Parker.  The Starr Ridge Vineyard is owned by Guy’s friend and is the warmest of his PN sites, being north of the transition where the Russian River turns west toward the Pacific Ocean….lush, juicy dark cherry, mint, flowers and the coolest spices that float from the glass.  This is a Pinot that can age but is delicious at the moment.” $48.50

Petal and Thorn, Imbue

Our trusted source Mindy T says “this might be the coolest thing on the face of earth.” What else is there to add? Well, quite a bit, actually.

The base wine of this beauty is an Oregon Pinot Gris, which was reinforced to 18% by adding a brandy distilled from the same wine. The wine is then macerated with a mix of ten dried botanicals, sourced from organic producers when possible. The idea behind this poetically named wine is to find a balance between the sweetness and acidity of a tokaji or a Sauternes, and the herbal, medicinal bitterness of an amaro. Pour over a few ice cubes for aperitif.  $34.50

2009 Ben Marco Expresivo, Mendoza, Argentina

There’s just a lot going on here. This is Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, peppered with a hint of Syrah and framed by a touch of Tannat and Petit Verdot, all grown on the high perched vineyards of Mendoza. This is a Bordeaux blend taken on an Argentine honeymoon. The average age of these vines is a whopping 42 years, which allows the perfectly farmed fruit to express an earthy sense of place on top of the warm cherry and cocoa note. To add some spice and structure to this already luscious experience, this wine has seen extended aging in all new French oak. This makes Ben Marco a great candidate for the cellar or the decanter – in any case, it calls for steak, the bloodier the better. $21

2011 Antxiola, Getariako Txakolina, Basque Country, Spain

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by all the Xs and the consonants, this is drinking wine in its purest form, tart, fizzy liquid stones to be guzzled in large quantities. A light effervescence and low alcohol levels (9-10%) make this the mineraly Basque cousin of Portuguese Vinho Verde. Getariako Txakolina is a rather new appellation for what is a very old Basque wine – officially recognized as a DO in 1989, when Txakoli was if not extinct mostly forgotten and home made. This is a perfect Spring sipper, and will work perfectly in most places where Riesling is called for duty. $18


Wine Geek: Beaujolais Nouveau

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Ah, Beaujolais Nouveau. What originally began as a celebration of the harvest in France. Wine, just pressed and fermented, would run free from fountains, and people congregated in the streets, drinking the splendor of the year’s grapes. It was never fashioned as ‘great wine’, but was always tasty juice, special because it never saw barrel or bottle.

That is why it never made sense to me what has become of this tradition and the craze for Beaujolais Nouveau in the United States. The whole premise of Beaujolais Nouveau is defeated and deflated. Take this wine–just off the press–and bottle it. Send it across the world. So that everyone at once can celebrate the harvest…by drinking wine that’s been loaded up with sugar and sulfur to preserve it for travel. Hmmmmm. Something’s not right here.

Let’s go back the the basics. Beaujolais is a region in southern Burgundy that grows primarily Gamay, a thin-skinned red grape (and a little bit of Chardonnay. If you get the chance to try a Beaujolais Blanc, jump on it!). There are many parts of Beaujolais (known as the crus or villages), that grow Gamay and vinify it in a way that produces exceptional wine. These wines will never be the complex and elegant Pinot Noirs of the Cotes d’Or (the most prestigious growing region in Burgundy), but they can be age-worthy, exceptionally food friendly, and a delight to drink. Beaujolais is actually a cutting edge region in terms of natural agriculture: winemakers here are devoted to using natural methods to let the grapes speak for the land. No new American oak. No synthetic fertilizers. No foreign yeasts.

Unfortunately, what’s become the industry of ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ has nothing to do with this ethos. First of all, this style of wine is made using a process called carbonic maceration. Carbonic maceration means that grapes are sallied up with CO2 before they are crushed. Fermentation begins to occur inside of the skin, before the juice ever leaves its boundaries.The flesh inside gets a little bit of color from the skins during this process. Then the grapes are crushed and have no further contact with the skins. The resulting wine is bright and fruity (sometimes cloyingly so), and has no tannins. Experts maintain that this wine needs to be drunk young, and has relatively no aging potential.

Another impact of Beaujolais Nouveau (besides creating insipid juice that has given a bad name to all of Beaujolais) is environmental: because Beaujolais Nouveau has to reach its intended audience within weeks of bottling, it is often air-freighted. Dr. Vino has written many articles on how much more of a carbon footprint this has than the traditional method of shipping wine. He suggests drinking something local to celebrate the harvest: embrace the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau by drinking the juice that is fresh and close to home. Come to LUSH, and we’ll show you some brews, spirits, and wine from your own backyard. Cheers!

Mission Ploussard: Drink it.

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

by Rachel

Get your WINE GEEK on: Grape of mystery…
Ploussard is on my mind. One of the lushes has requested a number of specific bottles, from a specific producer…a bottle she drank at a restaurant in New York City. So, I consider it a personal mission to track this wine down.

-2007 Philippe Bornard ‘Point Barre’, Arbois Pupillin, Jura, France-

So, I do know that Jura, France is a fairly small wine region 80 kilometers east of Burgundy, tucked into the Alps, just outside of Switzerland. Other than that, I have sipped on Chardonnay from Arbois, the town on the north side of the Jura wine region, as we currently offer a delicious bottling by Rijckaert. Super tasty. But, I digress. This intriguing and complex little place apparently only grows Chardonnay and Savagnin as the official white grapes and Ploussard/Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir as the official red grapes. And, vin Jaune, a wine very similar to Sherry, is another bizarro traditional libation. Wha? Labeling is a bit wonky, too, but I will not accost you with nitty gritty details, but do inquire if you would like more details.

Every so often, us Lushes will stumble upon a grape that we have never previously tasted, and very rarely something we have not heard of, but it’s not everyday that the complete trifecta of obscure, and tiny, wine region jumps us on knowing the grapes and style of wines, too. Back to my focus, the elusive Ploussard…red wines, vinified as such, are often pale enough and labeled as if they were pink. Yep, confusing. The soils range from limestone to clay and marl, the gently rolling Jura hills begin reaching taller into the Alps. The cool climate produces bouncy, lightly tinted, but fairly high acid, tannic reds. The reds are aged in large, old oak foudres and often bottled and released prior to the whites. Ploussard, although I have never tasted and therefore can’t really personally attest to this, but trust the tasting notes of those familiar with the region and the grape, tends to taste of raspberry or red currant, and smoke, and may show oxidized characteristics. And, apparently, the wine pairs smashingly well with charcuterie and smoked sausage.

Basically, I have now discovered that at least one bottling of Ploussard from Arbois lurks in Chicago, but not the label I am searching for and I still have yet to taste this curious beast. So, bring it on! Can you assist with my obssession?! I want.

French Wine Series: Sessions 2 & 3

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

We just finished up the final session in our French series last night. And what a way to end it, focusing on the wines of Bordeaux and Champagne! Two heavy hitting regions that can be rather intimidating, we wanted to provide an overview of the terroir, the grapes used, how the wines are made, and important information for buying wines from these areas. And we wanted to open wines that would demonstrate the variety that each region has to offer! The wines we poured were:

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Drinking a Vintage: 2003

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

2003 was hot. I remember. It was the summer before I entered college (to date myself horribly), and I was touring around Europe with my family. Heat records were set in every country we visited, and my sister and I took every opportunity to complain about it. Little did I know, that a few years down the line, I would be contemplating what that sticky, sweltering summer meant for the wine I was drinking. (more…)

What were you doing in 1989?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I want this post to be too many things. I’ve had the focal point for a while: a particular bottle of wine that I recently had the great (unfathomable! serendipitous!) fortune to try. The experience has inspired numerous tangential ponderings, each jutting out from the bottle’s hold as the center of a brainstorming web inside my head. And each of these has in turn inspired new meditations, resulting in schematic chaos that could not possibly be resolved into a cogent piece of writing.

But here it goes.

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