Posts in France
A Scintillating Discovery in Chablis: Jean-Claude Bessin

Jean-Claude and his wife oversee 12 hectares and run their miniscule winery based in La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne north of the town of Chablis. Jean-Claude took over from his father about 30 years ago, and his son, Romain – a drum-playing jazz musician – now works with him.

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Despite A Dramatic 2016 Vintage in Chablis, Kool Kid Patrick Piuze Made Stand-Out Wines!

The 2016 vintage will long live as a legend in Chablis. Everything that could have happened in a growing season did. Brows furrowed deeper and more hair turned gray - or even white -than in any vintage in recent memory. In fact, even the old timers say they’ve never seen anything like it.

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From the Birthplace of Bubbly: the Languedoc

Domaine Paul Mas NV Blanquette de Limoux Méthode Ancestrale St. Hilaire: Whoa! This bubbly has a honeysuckle-driven nose with a peach pie palate! It’s not often I taste pure Mauzac, yet this one packs plenty of come-hither attraction that reminds me it’s a great way to finish off a meal.

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Exploring Pinot Noir in Burgundy’s Northern Reaches

As Pinot Noir from Burgundy becomes ever more expensive, I’ve been keen to learn more about some of the region’s more budget friendly Pinot Noirs. That search led to me the Yonne, Burgundy’s northernmost département

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Bordeaux’s 2016 Vintage – An En Primeur That At Last Is (Mostly) A Pleasure To Taste

Bordeaux En Primeur 2016 was my first, verging-on-excellence En Primeur campaign. The top end turned out wines that were easy to be choosy about. So much the better when you’re forking over big digits two years before you receive the wines. The vintage also allowed for plenty of charming wines that will be pleasant to drink as well as ones that are overly ambitious. Regardless the appellation, it was exciting to see who teased out just a bit more of everything in their expressions of the vintage through their terroir.

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A Terrific Alsace Trio

I don’t drink a lot of Alsace wines, yet when I do, I remind myself to drink them more often. The same scenario repeated itself over the last week, as I tasted these three wines. So many wines, so little time. This time around, I’m thoroughly motivated to buy here, especially the Pinots, which offer fantastic value. 

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Thoughts & Scores from 2015 Bordeaux En Primeur

Another year, another en primeur campaign. How long this system can sustain itself? It seems every year the fuse gets shorter. What 2015 offers is a highly mixed bag. There’s something for everyone, but without careful research, everyone may not love what he or she purchases.

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A Few Recently Tasted Chablis 2014 Bottlings

La Chablisienne 2014 Petit Chablis Pas Si Petit: This cuvée is composed of fruit from over 280 grape growers dedicated to one of France’s best cooperatives! Its laser-like acidity initially gives the wine a chiseled feel on the palate, but a swarm of fruit quickly follows to make this accessible and easy to sip.

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The Return of the Taittingers: the 2006 Comtes de Champagne Releases

In a time when 20-year-olds are either Google prodigies or career college students, it is hard to image that Pierre Taittinger began building his Champagne legacy at age 20. He wouldn’t even be legal to drink in the US today! Yet almost 84 years ago, after having served in the Champagne region during World War I, he purchased a tattered bubbly business (originally established in 1734.)

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Bordeaux on the Table or Under the Tree for $65 or Less

There’s a sad misperception that Bordeaux is either utterly unaffordable or really, really bad. It’s true that most of us don’t buy much of super fancy stuff these days as their prices are, indeed, dizzyingly high. However, even in difficult vintages, Bordeaux – like the rest of the world – generally makes darn good wine today.

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Enclos de Viaud, A Discovery in Bordeaux

The 2010 and 2012 show vibrantly rich fruit with tendancies toward the blacker end of the fruit range. The 2011 shows the most perkiness, both in its redder fruit character as well as its refreshing acidity and lower alcohol. The 2014 white is fresh and highly drinkable.

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Bordeaux Supérieur Truly Is Superior…Especially These Days

Wine folks – myself included – often look skeptically upon Bordeaux Supérieur. What’s so superior about a few extra years of vine age in a region that actually keeps its vines quite young? Sure, Supérieur wines age at least nine months before release as well, often in some sort of barrel…but, they don’t have to. At least Supérieur doesn't refer to a half percent of extra alcohol here.

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Two Duos from Saint-Émilion

Merlot isn’t a grape that particularly moves me, except when it comes from Saint-Émilion. Yes, those wines are blended with Cabernet Franc and sometimes Cabernet Sauvignon, but Merlot almost always predominates in both flavor and structure. From Saint-Émilion comes Merlot in all its svelte, not hefty, glory. That’s a style I can relish.

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