It’s no secret in Burgundy and beyond that Faiveley has been on a roll. And it’s no secret why: the arrival of the young Erwan Faiveley at the helm.
Erwan, 32, is the seventh generation in his family to run the company, which was founded in 1825 as a negociant, buying and selling wine. When his father was 25, Erwan’s grandfather literally turned over the keys to his dad. And in 2005 when Erwan was 25, his father continued the tradition and put Erwan in charge (Erwan himself has no children, so his position is likely safe for 25+ years). I sat down with Erwan in New York a few weeks ago to talk about how he has improved the house style, overcoming paternal resistance, vineyard acquisitions and biodynamic winemaking.
With the weight of generations on their shoulders, today’s heirs to the storied estates of Europe could be forgiven for having one primary goal: Read more…
I recently tweeted that I’d be leading a tasting of hipster wines. “Will you wear a wool hat?,” someone asked in response. Another tweep asked if there would be any PBR on hand for afterward.
The tasting on Manhattan’s Upper East Side came and went and I didn’t wear a woolen cap, flannel shirt, or use empty 40-ounce cans of PBR as decanters. But we did taste some fine and fun wines, if quirky and hard to find (though not in Brooklyn).
We started with the Cedric Bouchard, Inflourescence, “Val Vilaine” V09 Read more…
During the recent, week-long power outage, we sought refuge in an undisclosed location that may or may not have been the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We found a bottle of “brut nature” cava German Gilabert (about $15; find this wine) at a local wine shop and got some lobstah rolls. This is hipster cava with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, six bar of pressure, no dosage and overall a very solid match!
Interestingly, a little of the cava remained in the bottle and I left it on the counter. A couple of days later, I poured it in a glass and was surprised it was bubbly! I tasted it and it showed no signs of deterioration.
I asked the wine’s importer, Jose Pastor, via email for his thoughts on why this bottle held up so well. He was puzzled by the persistence of the bubbles, pointing out that he likes to decant many (grower) Champagnes and that reduces the fizz. As to the lack deterioration, he said that many of the (natural) wines from his portfolio often actually show better after being open a couple of days.
As several small producers in Champagne are making their bubbly more wine-like with less fizz, perhaps giving sparkling wines some air and serving in wine glasses will be a good way to go. What have you found in your experiments in giving bubbly some air?
Sometimes you can seek solace in wine. Our town was shaken by an unthinkable tragedy this week. Right now, all I want from wine is to act as a bit of a balm.
So here are a few wines that I brought some joy to my NYU class this week. We opened with the Roederer brut premier Champagne, and that was enjoyed by everyone but the few bubbles haters in the room. The Francois Pinon, cuvée tradition, Vouvray 2009 was almost unanimously liked, and rightly so. The vintage was on the warm side and the wine has an enticing balance between acidity and some residual sweetness. I poured a Clos de la Roilette, cuvée tardive, Fleurie 2010 from magnum. Everyone was wowed by the large format–and cru Beajolais is a large format that isn’t priced into the stratosphere. They really liked the wine too. And a final wine that met a very warm reception was the Domaine Montpertuis, vignoble de la Ramiere, Cotes du Rhone, 2009. The estate is an old-school Chateauneuf producer and this is their mostly-grenache CdR blend that clocks in at a mere 13.5% alcohol. At about $15, the class really liked it as a relative value too. (find these wines)
Which wines are you looking forward to this weekend? Or what have you had recently that provided you some joy or solace?
I attended a private dinner recently where a Brunello was the main wine. It was big and extracted and I found it fatiguing. I can’t even remember the producer’s name. Of course, the palate fatigue wasn’t helped that the other wines on the table were a primitivo and an Amarone. It was the sort of lineup that made me want to step outside under the pretense of feeding the meter and wander off to find a beer.
A few weeks later, I had another side of Brunello, aptly named Il Paradiso. In 1958, Manfredi Martini bought some land in Montalcino. He worked at Biondi-Santi and converted his seven-acre property from olive trees to a vineyard of sangiovese grosso. When the Brunello de Montalcino DOC became formalized in 1968, there were only about a dozen producers (there are now over 200). Today, the vineyards ekes out a mere 9,000 bottles a year, split between a Rosso and the Brunello. Manfredi’s daughter and son-in-law, Sorella and Florio, continue making old-school Brunello from the organically grown vineyards and raised in barrels as large as 2,500 liters.
When sangiovese is on, it is gorgeous. I tasted the wines at their American launch (Grand Cru Selections is importing them; search for these wines). The 2004 was the richest of the wines I tasted–this is still Brunello, not Chianti, after all–but it was plummy rather than the tiring jam. The thing that got me about this wine was the concentration without being overdone. The 2001 has an alluring aroma of spice, cedar, faint volatility and oxidation with a lovely, appetizing bitterness on the ten-year old tannins. Layered and complex, it is drinking well now. The 2000 Riserva saw more time in large oak barrels but has an old-school charm, redolent of earth, leather, and faint spice. These are distinctive Brunellos–definitely not ones to walk out on.
As the fall weather starts to arrive, here’s a great wine for the seasonal transition: SP68 red from Arianna Occhipinti. Hailing from an organic vineyard in Sicily, the wine blends the summer joy of Frappato with the more structure of Nero d’Avola. Serve it slightly chilled for maximum enjoyment. The 2010 is a bit more tannic than the 2009 but both are easy, fun drinking. (Search for this wine at retail)
In 2004, Arianna Occhipinti made her first Agricola Occhipinti wine at the ripe old age of 21. Her uncle, Giusto, makes the wines at COS, a traditional winery in Sicily. She makes her wines naturally; find out more about her in this Q&A. I poured this wine at a tasting in NYC recently and the group really liked it. I also showed them the picture of Arianna (right) and one person, commenting on her youthful looks, said it looked as if she’d never been up against a co-op board.
What’s the best white wine currently in the US market for about $15? I’ll make a case for the 2010 Clos des Briords from Marc Ollivier (Domaine de la Pépière).
The 2010 is electric. After the 2009 had more ripeness, I find 2010 a reversion to the exciting norm of citrusy freshness and minerally, iodiney verve. Pairing it with seafood, particularly shellfish, is probably about as much fun as you can have with a $15 white wine. (search for this wine at retail) The wine comes from a single vineyard in Muscadet, one of vines planted in the 1930s. The wine stays on its lees up until bottling, which also helps account for more depth than your average Muscadet. It’s also particularly age-worthy, and I’m scouting out some magnums to tuck away. Emphasizing the minerailty over fruitiness means this wine isn’t for everyone. But for those who love wines so taut you could play a DVD on them, check out what is the best white value out there.
A runner-up would certainly be the Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc, a Chardonnay, also from 2010 (above, left). The wine is a perennial better value, but the 2010 exhibits a value chardonnay in its minerally, unadorned form that is stunning. (On a related note, I was a huge fan of the 2009 red Terres Dorees, but didn’t find the 2010 red to have the same snap.)
Which wine would you nominate as the best white wine around $15 in the market today?
The best bottles are the quickest emptied. But you knew that.
Last week, I made my wife a birthday dinner. But before I started covering the kitchen counter and, inadvertently, the floor and my clothes with flour to make fresh pasta, I popped open a bottle of slightly chilled Mugnier Clos de la Marechale 2007. By the time we got to the table, I was dismayed to find most of the wine had evaporated!
The 2007 Clos de la Marechale is drinking very well now. I had the good fortune of tasting the 08 and the 09 this week too at a trade tasting. While the 07 is the least heralded of these vintages, it is certainly not one to overlook with delicious balance of fruit, acidity and tannin. The ’08 has more red berry notes, acidity, tannin, balance and gorgeous oomph that bodes well for a long cellar life. The ’09 has more dark fruit character, slightly more ripeness and roundness and elegant concentration, with a spice note that culminates an a faint whiff of pepper. All bear the signature of Frédérique Mugnier for the “bargain” price of under $100. (Find these wines)
Peter Wasserman, who works to export the wines, told me that “Freddy” Mugnier, the winemaker and a former petrochemical engineer, has undertaken a geological survey of the vineyard this year. While the wine making remains very hands-off, for the first time, he will be harvesting the grapes from similar soils and making the wines by those parcels instead of by vine age (45 – 70 years old). All the vats will still be blended in to the 2011 Clos de la Marechale.