The Latest Sunshine-in-a-Glass from Nicolas Potel: Bellenos

When I visited Burgundy in the summer and fall of 2017, cellars were full of Côteaux Bourguignon. I was surprised at how many vignerons had embraced this category – one that falls into the gluggable, cuddly, one-more-glass-why-not-? sort of category.

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More Bulgarian Wines!

Last year I tasted through a shipment of very fun Bulgarian wines in New York City that partially substituted for a trip I was to take there for a third time. Time flies, and again, I’ve had the pleasure of doing a similar round of wines in my office. Moreover, I had the chance to taste again the Bratanov Tamianka 2015, which is too delightful to resist yet has several years of staying power left.

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The Latest Releases of FEL and Cliff Lede

One of the most impressive attributes of the FEL wines is their consistency at a high quality level. The Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay are especially notable. I always appreciate the FEL wines’ terrific balance and clearly defined varietal character. Year over year, I am entirely confident of what I will get in a bottle of wine from FEL. So, I was excited to taste the Pinot Gris for the first time.

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A First! Tasting the Newly Born Vintage of Daniel-Etienne Defaix

I’ve been visiting Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix for over half a decade. I always taste older vintages that charm and delight…but I am always in the area to taste the most recent vintage. When tasting the 2015 vintage in the region, I got a naughty pour off a tank of that vintage chez Etienne. I was PUMPED! So, when I arrived in 2017 to taste the 2016s, I was astonished to be presented (at last) a full line-up of the 2016s.

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All in the Family: Domaine Jaeger-Defaix

I’ve long been a fan of the wide range offered at Chablis’ Domaine Bernard Defaix. So when Didier (son of Bernard, who with his brother Sylvain oversees the domaine’s production today) asked if I would be interested in tasting the wines of the Rully domaine that his wife, Hélène, inherited in 2002, I replied with great eagerness. I’d tasted a wine or two here or there in New York, but I didn’t know much about them.

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Domaine du Chardonnay: A Brilliant Marketing Name

You can’t beat the name Domaine du Chardonnay for an enterprise that produces 38 hectares of domaine-owned Chablis. Founded in 1987 by a trio of friends, Etienne Boileau, William Nahan and Christian Simon, they had to come up with a non-family name. Those are pretty rare for wineries in Chablis. As they say, sometimes simplest is best, and these guys nailed it for marketing purposes!

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Paul Mas Estate Wines

Jean-Claude Mas aims to make wines with a “luxuriously rustic” character. Interpretation is everything, and it’s easy for the mind to spin on those words. These are classy wines from highly selective and ambitious cellars that punch above their weight classes (a.k.a. price points). Whether you enjoy them at your urban dining table or on a blanket spread in the countryside of southwestern France (the only way I can see “rustic” entering the picture), it’s pretty easy to feel the luxury of each sip, especially in the case of the Château Paul Mas Belluguette!

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A Master of Making it Happen: Dominique Gruhier

Screw the romance of making wine and the lifestyle of wine. It’s a tough business, and some people seem to get none of the breaks. One of those is Dominique Gruhier, based in the hills of the world-famous Épineuil.

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A Signature of Terroir and Vintage: Vignoble Angst

P.S. If you do (or even if you don’t) visit the Angsts, don’t miss the Pontigny Abbey, the largest Cistercian abbey still standing in Europe. It is stunning from afar and on the inside. There are no vines around Pontigny today, but the monks did plant there. The office of the BIVB-Chablis (the marketing and promotions board of Chablis) is in a lovely building in the center of Chablis called The Petit Pontingy, and it previously served as the abbey’s vinification site.

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It’s All About the Timing: Domaine Alain Mathias

There’s nothing like arranging winery visits on the road. Learning about good juice while in Milan on a Monday then visiting the winery on the Friday (especially on Bastille Day…and at 9 am) in Chablis is exciting. Meeting people on their home turf is the best way to learn about their wines. That is especially true when the winery is off-the beaten path, and there are young peeps making tasty stuff.

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The Vines of Vrignaud and High-Heeled Sandals in Chablis

I met Guillaume Vrignaud three or four years ago. He seemed shy but friendly, and he was clearly, thoroughly passionate. I really liked his wines. I learned first hand that the way to really get him going was to get him into the vineyard. I will never forget our unexpected climb up some steep and rocky slopes through his vines in Côte de Fontenay and Vaupulent (each strikingly different in many ways)…while I wore three inch heeled sandals and Guillaume sprinted about in gym shorts.

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Knocking at (Ten)Thirty: Domaine Agnès & Didier Dauvissat

Knocking at the door of anyone in France for professional call on Bastille Day morning can be unnerving, even when they are expecting you. Happily, this trio of Dauvissats immediately dissipated my concern.

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A Surprise Arrival from Rodney Strong Vineyards

I was surprised and delighted to see a set of wines from Rodney Strong arrive the other day. I used to buy this family-owned winery’s juice in considerable volumes as the National Wine Director of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, and I have always felt the wines represented good value for the money.

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Eye on Irancy: Maison de la Chapelle

Irancy is one of THE most beautiful appellations in France, with a postcard perfect town snuggled into the bottom of the appellation’s bird nest shape. So, it isn’t too curious that the appellation sells about 80% of its wine from the cellar doors! It’s a popular day and weekend trip from Paris.

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Citizens of the “New Chablis”: Domaine Camille & Laurent Schaller

Chablis is rapidly changing today, and it’s all for the better. I was thrilled to visit one of the region’s new wine-producing domaines in Préhy last July. There are several new or new-ish wineries in this southwestern corner of Chablis. It’s quite a hotspot for new names.

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A Survey of Savatiano

I’d say that the Savatiano grape has been saved from the glare of a certain limelight of in Greek wine. I label it a glare rather than a shine because it is the base grape of a highly polarizing wine style: Retsina. Savatiano is Greece’s most widely planted vine, too, so it isn’t too surprising that it is a productive one.

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