Wally’s Bordeaux Blog – Vintage 2014 Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 5

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Thursday, April 16th 2015

Today is the last day of the trip and our morning is reserved for a comprehensive tasting at one of Bordeaux’s largest negociant firms. While we always try to make it to as many properties as we can, it’s just not possible to visit them all in person, so this sort of “cattle call” tasting is a necessity to get a full picture of the vintage. Prior to the tasting we’re able to request barrel samples from a list of hundreds of chateaux throughout the region. The day before our tasting the samples arrive fresh in 375ml half bottles, ready for our consideration. I usually try to schedule this at the end of the trip so we are able to form a general opinion of the vintage “on the ground” and then fill in the gaps, as it were.

Over the course of 2 ½ hours the parade of half bottles both confirms and fleshes out our early impressions of the vintage. Some of the top highlights include:

2014 Chateau Gazin
-Charming nose of earth and blueberries, firm and structured on the palate, medium bodied. A nicely balanced expression that should age well.

2014 Chateau Beychevelle
-51% Merlot this year, the nose is pure red fruit with hints of gravel and iron. Nice fruit on the attack, good ripeness and density. Long finish, this is an excellent Beychevelle, clearly their best since the 2010.

2014 Chateau Faugeres
-A very ripe, polished nose of chocolate covered cherries. Very modern on the palate with ripe dark fruit and espresso. Still there is a great sense of weight and density for the pricepoint. Once again this will be a very attractive QPR.

2014 Chateau Le Gay
-A pretty nose of cedar and perfumed berry fruit. Lithe and elegant on the palate. Medium bodied and very nicely balanced. A lighter expression of Le Gay but everything is in good proportion, the volume is just dialed back a bit. This will likely drink well relatively early.

2014 Chateau Larcis Ducasse
-As per usual, very flamboyant on the nose, kirsch, crème de cassis, strawberries. Sweet and ripe on the attack, medium bodied, doesn’t have the density of its big brothers but there’s no denying this is a hugely attractive wine and very well made. It will be interesting to see where the price lands, this could be one of the best QPRs of the vintage.

2014 Chateau Pavie Macquin
-Seductive nose of Mocha, earth and plums that is textbook Pavie Macq. Again ripe, round and sweet on the palate with excellent richness. A very good vintage for them if perhaps lacking the structure of the best vintages.

2014 Chateau Beausejour Duffau Lagarrosse
-Somewhat similar nose to the Pavie Macquin, mocha, earth, but more toward the cassis end of the spectrum. More complex and exotic with spice elements. Big and powerful on the palate with mocha, blueberry and animale flavors. This is a top notch terroir that has been firing on all cylinders under the watch of Nicolas Thienpont. Still one of the best values in Bordeaux, this could hold its own blind with Pavie, Angelus, Troplong, etc… and can still be had for a fraction of the price.

2014 Chateau Haut Bailly
-Nice ripe red fruit nose with herbal and mineral notes. Taut on the entry with mineral laced cherry and tobacco flavors. This is medium bodied but well-structured with a nice sense of tension. A precise Haut Bailly that should unfurl nicely in 5-10 years.

2014 Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion
-50% Cabernet Franc. Deep, spicy, herbal berries and dark chocolate. Hints of violets. Lush and silky on the palate, ends with a drying persistent finish. Not a huge vintage but very elegant. This is one of the most exciting new projects in Bordeaux. Rhone inspired winemaking, stem inclusion, high percentage of Cabernet Franc in Pessac Leognan. What a strange and wonderful wine.

2014 Chateau Doisy Daene
-Very floral with white flowers and stone fruits. Rich, seductive and powerful, a decadent Doisy Daene. This is such a great value every year.

2014 Chateau Doisy Vedrines
-Honey, ginger and apricot jam on the nose. This is rich and sweet but has a nice line of acid running through it. Great quality for the price.

2014 Chateau Coutet
-Complex on the nose, mandarin orange, pineapple, honeysuckle, gingerbread. Strikingly sweet and intense on the palate, this is a monster Barsac. While one might wish for a bit more tension and finesse, the level of concentration and power on display here is impressive and frankly this is better that Rieussec and Suduiraut in this vintage. What a showing from this perennial value!


Leaving the negociant’s offices we hop in the car and head to Saint Emilion. First stop is the imposing new compound at the newly anointed “Premier Grand Cru Classe A” Chateau Pavie. Gerard Perse has shepherded this estate’s rise from relative obscurity to become one of the jewels of the appellation. As of 2012 it joins Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Angelus as the only “A” designated wines in Saint Emilion. There are two obvious standouts from their stable of wines:

2014 Chateau Monbousquet
-Funky nose with truffles, turned earth and coffee grounds. The palate turns more red fruit driven than usual here with a lovely underpinning of acidity running through. This is polished but well balanced. Shows the high level of winemaking of the Perse stable and should be a top value.

2014 Chateau Pavie
-A classic Pavie nose, ripe, plush and sexy but fresh. Nice balance on the velvety palate, powerful with no holes. Rock solid midpalate. The overall sense is still medium bodied, this is a dialed back Pavie that shows a bit more sinew and tension than usual. Quite good.

Leaving Pavie we head to Chateau Troplong Mondot where we will taste the first vintage since the passing of the incomparable Christine Valette. There is only one wine to taste:

2014 Chateau Troplong Mondot
-Rich, ripe, powerful nose full of espresso and macerated black cherry. Deep, rich, powerful, suave and round. 85% new oak this year. Very good volume, a beautiful Troplong.

In addition to being one of the great terroirs of Saint Emilion, Troplong Mondot is also home to a charming on-site boutique resort called Les Belles Perdrix which happens to have one of the best restaurants in the Right Bank. We settle in for a delicious 3 course prix-fixe lunch. The cooking is market driven, creative and at a very high level. If you find yourself in Saint Emilion make sure you make a reservation here, it is a must. Our lunch is paired with the excellent 2006 Chateau Troplong Mondot

Leaving lunch it’s a full afternoon of appointments in Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Highlights of the afternoon:


2014 Chateau Ausone
-60% Cabernet Franc. Framboise, lovely red fruit, ripe tannins and very long. This feels so effortless on the palate but you really sense the power on the end. Sneaky good structure. Excellent acid balance, a very elegant Ausone.

2014 La Fleur de Bouard
-A ripe, deep jammy nose. This is big and round on the palate but fresh with a nice underpinning of acid and good volume. Well done.

2014 Chateau Angelus
-Plush, round floral infused dark chocolate on the nose. Very concentrated chocolate and berry compote on the palate. Excellent freshness and very tannic as this usually is at this stage.

2014 Chateau Cheval Blanc
-55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. A markedly complex, deep, luxurious herbal nose with considerable fruit and charm. Lovely silky texture, medium bodied with zen-like balance. Elegant, long and aromatic, there’s something Burgundian about the sense of inner perfume here. A tour de force, this is likely one of the top wines of the vintage.

cht figeac

2014 Chateau Figeac
-Dark chocolate, berry fruit, somewhat herbal. The Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe and lends nice muscle. Good freshness. A masculine, sinewy Figeac reminiscent of the 1995 or the 1988.

l eglish clinet
2014 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet
-Dazzling, knockout aromas of boysenberry, kirsch, wild flowers and cherry heering. Just stunning. Rich, ripe, sexy berry fruit on the palate. All of this exoticism is buttressed by a huge structure with good volume and muscle. This is a fabulous, pure L’Eglise Clinet that will likely be rather affordable. Highly recommended.

Dinner tonight is at a local negociant’s home where we enjoy a laid back meal among friends. Our good friend Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer (who will be in LA for our Palmer Vertical Dinner this fall) has come to join us and we start off the evening with the 2011 Vin Blanc de Chateau Palmer, a rare bird indeed. Not commercially released and limited to just 100 cases per year, this is an odd blend of Muscadelle, Loset and Sauvignon Gris. Very fresh and full of white orchard fruit on the nose. The palate is rounded and airy with nice acidity. As dinner unfolds we open spectacular bottles of 2000 Chateau Cheval Blanc and 1998 L’Evangile. Wonderful conversation on Bordeaux, Hollywood and Jazz end the trip on a high note.

Now off to bed. And tomorrow on to Paris for a bit of fun before the flight home. Looking back on the trip this is a truly excellent vintage and given the outlook on prices and the currency exchange rate, this should be a very exciting campaign indeed.

-Written by Geoff Pattison, Director of Imports

Read up on previous dispatches from Bordeaux:
Dispatches from Bordeaux – Part 4

Register for Wally’s March Live Auction in NYC!

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auction march 2014Wally’s Auctions and Crush Wine and Spirits welcome you to explore the majestic Burgundy offered in The March Auction. From mature bottlings such as Bonnes Mares Roumier 1978 (Lot 359) and Richebourg Jean Gros 1978 (Lot 361), both hailing from the same French collection, to the powerhouse Corton Charlemagne J.F. Coche Dury 2001 (Lot 318), to an unprecedented array of rising stars of Burgundy direct from the cellars of Domaine Fourrier, Domaine Duroche, Domaine Hudelot-Neollat and Domaine Anne et Herve Sigaut (Lots 478-502), the March Auction has the bottles necessary to round out any collection.

The March Auction will take place on Friday, March 28 at three-star Michelin Restaurant DANIEL in New York City, beginning at 10:00AM ET. Chef Daniel Boulud will prepare a sumptuous auction luncheon for registered bidders from 12:00PM to 2:30PM, and Wally’s welcomes guests to bring wines to enjoy throughout the auction and with DANIEL’s seasonal cuisine, with no additional corkage or service charges.

Lunch is $75 per person, for registered bidders only. Advance reservations are recommended, as guests will be seated on a first come, first served basis at Wally’s discretion.

For more information, to RSVP for the auction or to request a catalog, please visit www.wallysauctions.com, email auction@wallywine.com or call 1-800-277-0387.

Burgundy “Off the Grid” In-Store Tasting with Daniel Johnnes

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Off the GridUPDATE – February 18, 2014

The “Off The Grid” Burgundy tasting with Daniel Johnnes is Tonight at Wally’s Wine & Spirits!

Tonight at Wally’s, a hidden list of treasures will be poured. These superlative wines will prove that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the splendor of Burgundy. And, these wines will also be discounted for purchase this evening. Cheese and bread from Wally’s Cheese Box will also be served. This will be a true steal at $20.

Robert Parker awarded the 2011 Jadot Moulin A Vent Chateau des Jacques 91 points, and if you join us tonight you’ll have a chance to taste this beauty for yourself:  “Reflecting the inclusion of all of Chateau des Jacquess fruit from Champs de Cour and Clos des Thorins as well as the usual selected lots from all of their other Clos holdings, a generic 2011 Moulin-a-Vent mingles ripe dark cherry, plum and cassis with marrow-rich savory suggestions of meat stock. Salt, stone, iodine, mocha and toasted nuts add intrigue to a sustained finish in this lovely, tenderly textured and relatively gentle offering that pales slightly only in comparison with the active impingement that characterizes this years Chenas and Fleurie tasted immediately before. Incidentally, this was brought-up in one-third each in new barriques, used barriques and tank, in contrast with the nearly 100% new barrels in which the estates single vineyard Moulin-a-Vents continue to be raised. An outstanding value, it should reward following at least through 2017 and quite possibly beyond.”

And, the 2011 Jadot Moulin a Vent Chateau des Jacques Clos de Rochegres received a 92-point score from Mr. Parker: “Clove and cinnamon accents to the ripe cherry and purple plum of Chateau des Jacquess 2011 Moulin-a-Vent Clos de Rochegres suggest that a dollop of Gewurztraminer was administered. Singed meat and crushed stone set-off the luscious fruit and deep spice on a polished palate that projects an almost pasty sense of sheer concentration, but at the same time not a hint of heaviness, let alone heat, in its succulently sustained finish. This is far from the brightness, charm and wafting florality of the corresponding Grand Carquelin, whose personality might well have much to do with that sites high quartzite content, but it surprises me that the highest-elevation site in the des Jacques collection generally harvested a week after the others has rendered such a richly, exotically ripe style. Plan to enjoy this through 2017.”

Here is the complete list of Burgundies that Mr. Johnnes will be sharing with us tonight. How many of these undiscovered gems will become your favorites?

2011 Domaine Pierre Morey Aligote

2011 Ch. Fuisse Pouilly Fuisse Tete de Cru

2011 Laroche Chablis St Martin

2011 Moreau Chablis Vaillons Grand Cru

2010 Alain Gras St Romain Blanc

2011 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Blanc

2009 Domaine Denis Pernard Vergelesses 1er cru Sous Fretille

2010 Francois Mikulski Meursault

2010  Domaine Marchand Grillot Bourgogne Rouge Grand Ordinaire

2011 Labruyere Moulin a Vent

2011 Jadot Moulin a Vent Ch Jacques

2011 Jadot Moulin a Vent Ch Jacques Rochegres

2011 Ch Fuisse Morgon Charmes

2010 Alain Gras St Romain Rouge

2010 Clos Salomon Givry 1er Cru

2010 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Clos des Myglands 1er Cru

2009 Domaine Jacob Girard Savigny les Beaune 1er cru Les Marconnets




Wally’s Wine & Spirits is thrilled to be hosting an in-store Burgundy tasting featuring Daniel Johnnes, on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Tickets will be available at the door – but call now to reserve your place (310) 475-0606. Tickets are $20.

Daniel Johnnes is currently the Wine Director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group, including Restaurant Daniel, DB Bistro, Cafe Boulud, Bar Boulud, DBGB and Boulud Sud. He was previously Wine Director for Montrachet and the Myriad Restaurant Group for 20 years. Also widely respected as an author, and an importer, he is the founder of La Paulée de New York and San Francisco, which has been called ‘the greatest bacchanalia on the face of the earth’ by the Financial Times. Amongst his numerous achievements, Mr. Johnnes was named ‘2006 Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year’ by the James Beard Foundation. All of this from the same man whom Robert Parker called ‘our nation’s finest (and nicest) sommelier.’

He is also the author of a highly regarded book on wine, Daniel Johnnes’s Top 200 Wines, An Expert’s Guide to Maximum Enjoyment for Your Dollar, and has written articles Food & Wine, Gourmet, Wine & Spirits, and Santé, and additionally has been featured and quoted in The New York Times, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Newsweek, Business Week, Vogue, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wine Spectator, Market Watch, Art Culinaire, Elle Décor and others. And, if that was not enough, he has also appeared on numerous television shows, such as CBS This Morning, NBC Today Show, Food Network, and Martha Stewart Living. Calling him an expert on Burgundy is perhaps an understatement.

Don’t miss this opportunity to taste an amazing selection of Burgundy with Mr. Johannes himself, at Wally’s Wine & Spirits.

La Paulée is an annual event started in 2000 by sommelier Daniel Johnnes in the spirit of an event known as La Paulée de Meursault, which has been held since 1923, as a wine producer’s dinner, in and around the commune of Meursault, just south of Beaune, France. It is considered by many to be perhaps the greatest Burgundy tasting held outside of France, and has evolved into a magnificent and luxurious feast, and fortunately for all wine lovers, has been imported to San Francisco and New York.

Burgundy is all about terroir, craftsmanship and character. At this unique tasting, Daniel will help us celebrate the six regions of Burgundy: Beaujolais, Mâconnais, Chalonnais, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits and the Yonne, which includes Chablis. The wines showcased at the tasting represent great values from up-and-coming producers well worth discovering; and will most certainly be a tasting event that you will not want to miss.

A central reason for this tasting, and for all the La Paulee events, is Daniel’s desire to bring the wines of Burgundy to the “next generation”. As prices of many Burgundies have soared astronomically in recent years, many future devotees have been left in the dark – but thanks to Daniel, we will see how there is more to the region than Grand Gru wines we can only dream about or drink infrequently. We will also taste wines from numerous hard-to-find appellations.
And coming in March from Daniel Johnnes: La Paulée de San Francisco.

La Paulée Off Grid: A Tasting of Burgundy’s Hidden Gems. Wednesday, March 12. Go off the grid and experience all that Burgundy has to offer by sampling a selection of exciting wines curated by a group of our nation’s top sommeliers. Guests will also enjoy fine food from a selection of San Francisco’s top restaurants and connect with the sommeliers on hand who will share their picks from Burgundy and provide tips on great value wines, up-and-coming winemakers and surprising vintages.

La Paulée Gala Dinner. Saturday, March 15. The flagship La Paulée event is a formal, seated dinner prepared by culinary giants — chefs Michael Mina, Jean-François Bruel, Traci Des Jardins and César Troisgros — paired with wines served from all of the attending growers. In the generous Burgundian spirit and in the tradition of La Paulée de Meursault, guests are invited to bring wine(s) from their cellars to share with their other attending guests and winemakers. The Gala will feature keynote speaker Guillaume d’Angerville of Domaine Marquis d’Angerville and the jovial voices of Les Chanteurs de Bourgogne, as well as a live charity auction to benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco.  

Tickets to all events can be found here.

More “Under the Radar” wines from France, Argentina, Australia, and California at Wally’s

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jan 9 allMore “Under the Radar” Wines at Wally’s.

As we get so many new and exciting wines at Wally’s, it’s extremely easy for some great deals to fall “under the radar”. Not all of these great buys can make it into our weekly eClubs – but rest assured, we will tell you about them here! Here are three terrific choices from France, Argentina, South Australia, and California – which are perfect to take the edge off the Winter chill.

2009 Chateau Clos des Prince

From Bordeaux’s St. Emilion appellation. This small estate, owned by Nicolas Prince (only 915 cases of this wine were produced), is located right next door to powerhouse Chateau Monbousquet, and is a classic example of the beautiful wines of Saint Emilion: a balanced sophistication of dry earthy tannins with rich and reserved layers of cassis and dark fruits; simultaneously refined and sexy. The vineyard is planted to 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc averaging 35 years old, planted in silica sand and iron sub-soils. Perfect for cellaring; yet showing very well right now. Blackberry and blueberry on the nose, with flavors of delicate oak, well integrated, silky tannins, with notes of cinnamon, cranberry, black cherry, and chocolate. Full-bodied, with a solid core of fruit and beautiful, lasting finish. Open this bottle at home and witness how the flavors evolve and mature over the course of an evening, or bring a bottle to your favorite restaurant to savor with a charred steak with sautéed mushrooms (and creamed spinach, of course), or short ribs braised in a red wine sauce, roast chicken, fresh grilled tuna steaks, full-bodied cheeses, dark olives and of course, by itself.

“Sweet berry and currant on the nose turn to flowers. Solid core of fruit and superpolished tannins. Really fine. Really serious. Yummy. Vineyards next door to Monbousquet.” Wine Spectator.

2011 Bodegas Chacra Barda

Bodega Chacra, the Argentine Pinot Noir project run by Piero Incisa della Rocchetta of Tuscany’s Sassicaia, has achieved swift, well-earned success. These unique wines made by the talented Hans Vinding-Diers, are ‘Pinot Noir like no other’ from a terroir like no other, that is, the rugged Patagonia in Argentina. They’ve predictably developed an ardent, global following and their export is strictly allocated. We’ve just got our hands on the 2011 Chacra Barda Pinot Noir, and this is the cream of the crop. We’re lucky to have it — Pinot fans, don’t miss out! Try this with a Risotto with asparagus, pancetta, and parmesan, or a pumpkin filled tortelloni with sage, butter and cream sauce.

jan 9 duo2011 Brassfield Eruption

This voluptuous inky, black/purple-colored blend (39% Syrah, 27% Mourvèdre, 10% Malbec, 8% Petite Sirah, 8% Tempranillo, 4% Zinfandel, 4% Grenache) from Lake County, California is full-bodied, extremely powerful, and features flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry, blueberry and cassis, with a touch of peppery spice and candied cherry. Fantastic with grilled beef or lamb, especially with a nice spicy rub; as the lamb’s natural sweetness brings out the fruit flavors of the wine. Also great with rich, full cheeses and Mexican dishes, such as carnitas, Carne Asada, or Chicken Mole’.

Winemaker’s notes – “David Ramey produced, family-owned, estate-grown, and endlessly over-delivering – the Brassfield Estate experience provides a continued series of surprises that delight our consumers, trade partners and friends. And, like most wines of superior quality and character, Brassfield follows the true definition of estate bottled wine.

The 2011 Eruption is rich and intense. The wine has aromas of dark berry, sandalwood and cocoa, giving way to flavors that are jammy, ripe and expressive. The palate is layered with supple and round tannins, making the wine both hedonistic while simultaneously elegant. The texture of this wine is perhaps its most distinguishing trait – mouth-coating with an endless finish. Be certain to have a second bottle on hand, the first won’t last very long. Assuming you have to pair this wine with food, take advantage of the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah components which lend themselves especially well to tangy bbq pork spareribs or Penne all’Amatriciana with fresh tomatoes, capers, onions, pancetta and pecorino cheese.”

“True to its name, the 2011 Eruption bursts from the glass with expressive, racy fruit. This juicy, value-priced red impresses for its overall balance and sheer deliciousness. Once again, its hard not to like the Eruption. Readers in search of by-the-case wine should give the 2011 a good look. This is a fabulous wine for the money.” Robert Parker

jan 9 32010 Ravenswood Zinfandel Teldeschi

This full-bodied, peppery Zin displays signature spicy cherry and exotic fruit aromas, with flavors accented by floral highlights and spice, and a hint of toasty oak. Enjoy this bold, spicy Zinfandel with a variety of foods, from tri-tip (with a spicy rub), carne asada, and pizza right off your grill, to a Morroccan lamb tagine. Great with Indian food as well!
Winemaker’s notes – The 2010 Ravenswood Zinfandel Teldeschi has aromas of plums, baking spice, hints of fennel, roasted nuts and sweet dark berries. Deeply concentrated and ripe, this beauty exhibits flavors of blackberry, black cherry, cinnamon, and vanilla, with a long, soft, and characteristic peppery finish that define this wine as a superb Zinfandel.

Wine Spectator Review:
Vibrant and zesty, with bright raspberry and cinnamon aromas and focused, briary flavors of cherry, cedar and cracked white pepper. Finishes on a crisp mineral note. Drink now through 2017. 90 points.

Stephen Tanzer Review:
Opaque purple. Potent black and blue fruit aromas are complicated by notes of candied flowers, licorice and Asian spices. Sappy, deeply pitched blackberry and boysenberry flavors of great clarity pick up weight with aeration. Rich but animated zin, with excellent finishing breadth, sweetness and length. 92 points.

2007 Henry’s Drive Trial of John Montford

This superb Cabernet from South Australia exemplifies why Australian wines can be such great bargains: full bodied flavors of rich fruits, smoke, tobacco and peppery spice that go well with anything from steaks and burgers to pastas, pizzas and rich cheeses. Make your favorite gastropub burger on your grill at home with blue cheese, aruglula, red onion and truffle mustard, call some friends and uncork a bottle!

Wine Spectator Review:
Ripe and supple, a big wine with finesse, showing spicy, savory overtones to the lingering dark cherry and mint flavors. Drink now through 2012. 90 points.

Robert Parker Review:
The 2007 The Trial of John Montford Cabernet Sauvignon contains 10% Cabernet Franc. It spent 14 months in 40% new, mostly French oak. Dark ruby-colored, the wine receives a pleasant herbal lift from the Cabernet Franc component. Aromas of cigar box, cinnamon, cassis, and black currants lead to a medium to full-bodied, savory wine in which earth notes, spice box, and dried herbs make an appearance. Ripe, balanced, and lengthy, it will evolve for 1-2 years and drink well from 2011 to 2019. 90 points.

A new day for Chablis

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When you love wine, the learning never ends.  For instance, even if you think Chardonnay is an old standby compared to trendier white varietals, the right taste can give you cause to think again about your definition of the great, white grape and its many forms and facets.

Learn About Wine Burgundy TastingThis realization is one two of Wally’s resident wine geeks experienced at a Learn About Wine event, a Southern California wine education destination.  The tasting focused on the regions of Burgundy, and of course, included Chablis.

“It was really eye-opening,” found Nina Ball, “Here we were tasting great Côte de Nuits, but it was the Chablis that inspired more conversation and left a lasting impression.”

While the true history of Chablis is steeped deep in the vines that line the Northern edge of the Burgundy growing region, here in the States uttering the word Chablis often leaves a sour taste on the tongue.  This most likely has to do with the fact that many years ago – when jean jackets ruled and Aerosmith dominated air waves – Chablis was mass-marketed and distributed as white table wine (without much finesse in many instances).  “Chablis” was how you ordered house wine at a mediocre restaurant, and what your grandmother called a nightcap.

What’s often overlooked even thirty years later, is that Chablis, when it comes down to it, is Chardonnay.   They are one in the same, at the most basic level of grape varietal.  And to enjoy true Chablis from Burgundy, France where the limestone soil rules is to experience the beauty of the grape in all its glory.  Appellation d’origine contrôllée (AOC) Chablis from Burgundy most often delivers clean, fresh green apple and lemon flavors with great minerality and acidity.   Not that big, buttery Chardonnay with notes of brioche and buttered popcorn doesn’t have a place in the glass, it’s simply a different place than Chablis.Learn About Wine Burgundy Tasting
“Initially, I wanted to more or less speed through the Chablis wines to get to the red Burgundy of the tasting,” admits Perry Koon.   “But instead found myself lingering over the Chablis and falling behind to marvel at its purity and minerality.”

In present day, the French appellation continues to produce quality Chablis if you know where to look, and more and more talented winemakers worldwide are crafting Chardonnay using stainless steel fermentation, neutral oak and the clean fruit approach.

Pressure from France eventually led the United States (among other countries) to pass a law prohibiting new producers from labeling domestic wine as “Chablis” (established producers were grandfathered in).   So now if you want Chablis, you drink the Real McCoy.  And in doing so, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong.

Stay tuned!  All of the attendees, including Nina and Perry, loved the Chablis so much, they’re getting together in a couple of weeks to taste just Chablis. We’ll keep you posted!

A few to try…

2011 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, $23.99

2011 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Champs Royeaux, $21.99

2009 Domaine William Fevre Chablis Fourchaume Vauleront, $59.99

2008 Raveneau Chablis La Foret, $149.99 (92 Points, Robert Parker)