The white côtes of Burgundy: what Chardonnay was meant to be

Translated from a post by regular eno-contributor Fabrizio Gallino of enofaber.com  where he relates an encounter with an unknown commodity, a Burgundy white…

Burgundy.

Immediately you think of “big red,” of aged pinot noir, of the almost mystical elements that speak to you, that tell you stories. That’s of course because the land of Burgundy is a little like the ancient and mysterious East, from whence merchants returned and recounted to the rest of those who were unable to travel there.

So when find yourself instead before a bottle of white from that promised land, knowing absolutely nothing about it, you feel caught a bit off guard.

You think of the everyday Chardonnay, done very well perhaps, but certainly far from the poetry and mysticism of the Burgundy reds, right?

Jane, you ignorant slut…

If every Chardonnay was like this Chardonnay, I swear that I would drink only Chardonnay from now on…

To be honest, opening this young bottle now was a bit like committing infanticide, but I just couldn’t resist. Given to me by a friend who knows Burgundy like the back of his hand, this one reveals itself to be mystical libation that first lifts you up then pummels you with its myriad soft contrasts. Verticality and horizontality, already round but always vibrante, sharp. Light and weightless in appearance, but as powerful as Cassius Clay in substance, this wine stuns and dazes you — in the most pleasurable way.

And still you hope to find a bit more in the glass…

I wonder, if after only 2 years it was così, like this, what would it be like in 2, 4, 6…and 10 years?

_________

Read Italian? See the original post here.

The wine is Puligny-Montrachet AOC 1er Cru Le Cailleret 2009, produced by Domaine Michel Bouzereau et Fils. Located in the Côte du Beaune, Bouzereau has vineyards in Meursault and in Puligny-Montrachet, the area producing whites almost exclusively, and almost exclusively of 100% Chardonnay. This wine comes from the 1° cru of Le Cailleret, located west-nw and just up the slope from the village of Puligny-Montrachet. (Don’t confuse this cru with Les Caillerets, a tiny 1° cru on the northern edge of Meursault.)

 

Mountain Men and Mountain Wine

Enofaber introduces Vincent Grosjean

Fabrizio Gallino lives in the Piedmont, north of Torino near the Valle d’Aosta, in the land called Canavese. He a family man who works as an editor, and in multimedia and the web, but his passion is wine and food, Canavese, Italian, and otherwise. He’s been an AIS sommelier since 2008 (encouraging me via Twitter before my own final exam), and continues to deepen his knowledge around all aspects of it — a search that never ends, he says.

Fortunately for us, he also writes, maintaining his blog enofaber.com. I like the way he writes about the experience of drinking wines, meeting vintners and other “personaggi” he comes to know (mostly small producers and lesser known wines); it’s not a report or a review, he says; he prefers to relate more “the emotions of the moment,” as he puts it.

I am delighted that he’s given me permission to translate selected articles here. The first is from a visit with Vincent Grosjean of the Maison Vigneronne Fréres Grosjean in the Valle d’Aosta. Enjoy.

_____

Vincent is a man not much taller than me, well placed with large, calloused hands that make you remember that the earth is low… 

Hands like two shovels, that if one slapped you across the face your head would spin for three days.

Vincent who, when I first arrived at the vineyard for a visit, made me wait half an hour because he had other things to take care of. I was also met with some suspicion.

Vincent, arrives now to shakes my hand firmly, give me a pat on the back and smile at me, eyes and mouth. Still maintaining a bit of a “low profile,” but much more jovial now and friendly. Maybe he came to understand that my love for the Valle and his wines is authentic without any ulterior motive.

So much so that he let me taste this wine, retrieved from his personal stock: Pinot Noir 1989, 22 years old. In 1989, I was 16; I did not drink, I did not smoke and I’d just become interested in women (mamma mia, how much time I’ve spent on least two of these activites). 

Well, this wine is like Vincent. It’s of him. Healthy, compact, all in one piece, but richly faceted. The smell of woods after a spring rain, a scent that fills the air once you seek it out.

This is the land of damp woods that crown to Ollignan, the village where Maison Grosjean vineyards are located. But there are also traces of the freshly cut meadow grass that surround the vineyards; of spices, of the herbs found in these mountains. Verticality, in every sense. At the beginning — just like Vincent — it’s rough, surly, calloused. You have to know to wait for it. You’ll then be presented with a truly memorable wine, but only when the it decides. It also has the power to last, last, and last.

Stainless and in one piece, just like Vincent Grosjean.

Merci bien, Vincent

____

Grazie a te, Fabrizio…

 

Leggi l’italiano? Vai all’articolo originale.

Images courtesy of grosjean.vievini.it

 

 

Think you know Nebbiolo? O mio babbino caro, think again.

I’m enthralled by Tri-Veneto wines, and seek to sing their praises whenever I get a chance. They’re made for what we eat around here; it’s only natural we “drink local.” But any wine enthusiast will seek out good wines no matter where they’re produced; and good locales will always offer a wide selection of palate-pleasers representative of the wide-wide world of wine.

That’s what happened the other evening at La Cantina*, when co-owner Andrea ported out a bottle for an impromptu tasting. It was a bubbly, so I was already half way to liking it: métode champagnoise is all to often overlooked as an after-dinner, evening-ending option. So, what do have we here…

A sparkling metodo classico but not Franciacorta? Not Trento DOC? Rose, OK, but, what color is that? Coral? no. Pink? nope. Sort of an intense, mauvish red, as if the dried rose hips you might find in your great- grandmother’s potpourri had soaked for hours in the perlage. Curiouser and curiouser… Lots of floral in the multifaceted nose, and in the mouth? Charming and unexpected. Fresh and sturdy, but not forceful or challenging or steely. People pleasing without being silly or soda-poppy. Just a pleasure.

It’s Nebbiolo in purezza, the same wine of the austere, head spinning Barolo fame, over whose massive calices who-knows-how-many of the world’s problems have been solved, late into the night, by its imbibers. And here it is, flouncing around, singing, lilting, but never leaving far behind its intense complexity, even as a wild rose.

Same grape, whooooole different wine. Grande nebbiolo

Erik, Paolo, Cristian and Federico are Erpacrife (formed by combining the first letters of their first name), and this is their wine. Nebbiolo harvested early to guarantee the acidity and contain the alcohol, soaked on the skins just long enough, even adding a short stint on wood. Then a second fermentation in the bottle with 24 months on the lees, and at the end, at the sboccatura, when the lees are removed, the wine is capped pas dose, dosage zerò, topped off only with identical wine. Not brut, not extra dry, not saten.

All of this would make little difference if the wine wasn’t, well, just delightful. It’s one of those that will stick, like the first, and still best Piccolit I ever tasted (I don’t think my eyebrows have been raised as high since), the Gavi Soldati La Scolca Millesimato d’Antan Rosè, the color of apricots with a perlage that would have gone on for centuries if I’d been able to resist drinking it, etcetera, etcetera.

I love these ad hoc discoveries; they’re the reason I almost never choose my own wine when eating at a trusted locale — just like ordering dinner, it’s best to ignore the menu and the list and just ask, what’s good today?

_____

* La Cantina is one of many locales in Venice that offer a great selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. Located just off the Ca’ d’Oro stop on Campo San Felice, across the bridge in front of the church of the same name. Dinner reservations are essential.

 

photo credit Altissimoceto.it and Albergo-Ristorante il Cascinale Nuovo

Friuli with the Red Dress On

Friuli tasting brochure Friuli is famous for some spectacular whites. In fact, anytime anyone tells me they don’t really care for white wine, my immediate response is “Yes, you do,” as I hand them a Tocai or Ribolla or Chardonnay or Malvasia or a blend from Isonzo or Collio or the Colli Orientali. There is a pause, and then: “Oh, this is good.”

Another convert.

Forget these magnificent whites for the moment, though. At this upcoming tasting it’s Friuli’s reds that will take center stage:

  • Sunday, February 21
  • 10 am – 7 pm
  • Hotel Monaco e Gran Canal
  • Entrance: €10

There you’ll find over fifty producers offering a wide variety of rich reds. Those created from familiar varieties like Merlot and Cabernet (Franc and Sauvignon) stand alongside others with less recognizable names, but highly recommended for conducting research: Schioppettino, Marzemino, Refosco, Terrano, maybe even a Tazzelenghe or Pignolo.

Another reason to attend: a selection of specialty foods will be offered by the restaurant Il Ridotto dell’Acciugheta.

Even if you’re not in Venice at the moment, do make sure to check on wine events during your stay…they’re always fun, inexpensive, and offer an excellent opportunity to taste many wines you’ll never find back home.

Tenuta Sella Wines at the Bistrot de Venise

There is a free tasting today, but these rare wines will also be offered at a special price for the next two weeks as well. If you’re in town and are any sort of a wine enthusiast, it’s a definite Don’t Miss. Location and map link are below.

GREAT WINES OF NORTHERN PIEDMONT AT THE BISTROT
TWO WEEKS WITH THE HISTORICAL “SELLA” ESTATES

Thursday, November 12th, 2009
4.00 p.m. – free admission

With the joint aim of promoting “Venice: Wine Capital” and to spread awareness and encourage tasting of their excellent, typical qualities, for two weeks the Bar and Restaurant of the Bistrot will be offering the wines of Northern Piedmont at a “flat rate” We invite you stop by and take advantage of this tasting opportunity.

lessona_sella.jpg

The Sella family has been producing wine in the Lessona DOC area since 1671, making it one of the oldest Italian wineries still in operation. La Tenuta Sella has been dedicated to small-scale, high-quality production since its inception, and maintains its original artisan size still today. (Some wines are produced from high-quality, extremely low yield vines of over 80 years of age, for example.)

Sella is a producer of Lessona and Bramaterra DOC wines from a delimited area located about halfway between Torino and Milano, inching up toward the lakes and the Alps – far north of their more widely known Nebbiolo relations of Barolo and Barbaresco. This is instead the western part of a ring of extremely fine denominations that continue in the neighbouring Gattinara, Ghemme, and Boca.

Northern Piedmont is one of the three classic areas of Nebbiolo (called Spanna in this area, just to keep us confused.), along with Langa and Valtellina. Here the noble Nebbiolo vine is never monovarietal, but always alternated with rows of Vespolina, Croatina or Uva Rara varieties. For this reason, the Lessona and Bramaterra are made with a predominant base of Nebbiolo and lower percentages of these ancient local vines.

(If you spot a wine called “I Porfidi,” make sure not to pass it up…)

Bravo Le Bistrot!

Presentation by Gioacchino Sella and the oenologist Cristiano Garella
Coordinators: Giovanni Vazzoler and Sergio Fragiacomo
With the support of AIS, the Italian Wine Sommeliers’ Association – Venice

Picture 1.png

Le Bistro de Venise

San Marco
Calle dei Fabbri 4685

Located halfway between
Campo San Luca and the
Piazza San Marco

Be sure to check their website for on-going event information at the Bistrot.