Thank you Marc for a day of laughter, vines and wine! -Karen Ulrich
A few hours after landing in Madrid, I drove southeast with Marc Isart to visit his vines. As we passed through an incredibly arid landscape, where the poorest of soils were allocated to vines, Marc spoke of the two most recent vintages, hot and dry, and no doubt a result of climate change. Luckily, however, the vines that Marc farms in D.O. Madrid are bush-trained and ancient, with roots that dig deep to access the water table that his neighbor’s trellis-trained vines will never find.
This year, I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite Burgundy producers at TEW, Domaine Tortochot, where Chantal Tortochot spoke about the threats to Burgundy as we know it, her use of oak, and her experience of the 2015 vintage in Gevrey-Chambertin. Thanks Chantal! -Karen Ulrich
Five years ago, geological maps were drawn in Gevrey-Chambertin. The result of soil studies, the maps here very much follow the Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Village appellations that were initially drawn by the Cistercians. As Chantal Tortochot drew her finger along the map on the wall, she smiled, enchanted by the brilliance of Burgundy’s beginnings. “The monks wanted the best wines to attract the people to mass,” she said and laughed, “which led to the classifications.” Read more
Big thanks to Nathaniel Center for this timely piece on Avinyó! It’s December and time to get excited about bubbles!
On our first day in Spain we arrived at the Avinyó winery in Penedes excited and slightly jet lagged. We were greeted with cava poured from parones and a steaming plate of paella (that respectively enhanced the excitement and removed the jet lag). In a region dominated by large producers and bulk wine, the Esteve Nadal family operates a quality-oriented winery in the village of Avinyonet. As we walked through the vineyards, they explained that out of the approximately 240 cava producers in Penedes, only 20 or so make cava exclusively from their estate vineyards (and Avinyó is among this select few.) For the family, this small scale and attention to detail is really what sets them apart. Most wineries of their size bring in grapes to supplement their harvest, but Avinyó actually ends up selling away anything that “doesn’t work for them”. Even in low-yielding years their tiny winery doesn’t have the capacity to vinify everything they grow, so choosing the absolute best has always been a necessity. Natural ambient yeasts are employed whenever possible and they a favor long cold fermentation (which they compare to steeping ingredients for extended periods in cooking). Read more
Thanks Charles Hildreth for this reflection on Remelluri in Rioja.
La Rioja, the oldest DOCa in Spain, is a bit shy of 2,000 square miles. As of a 2015 report, it has 61,645ha (152,328 acres) planted to vines, 16,413 vineyards, and over 600 wineries. The three principal regions are Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja with each area producing its own unique expression of Rioja wine. La Rioja Alavesa and La Rioja Alta, located closer to mountains, are at slightly higher elevations and have a cooler climate. La Rioja Baja to the southeast is drier and warmer.
As a comparison, there are less than 30,000ha of vines planted to about 100 different AOCs in Burgundy, France. And yet that region is famous for its intricate system of village and vineyard designation. As we discovered, it takes a visit to Remelluri, near Ribas del Tereso in Labastida, to help intrepid oenophiles understand why the Rioja Denomination of Origin is misguided and sorely behind the times. Read more
Jean-Michel Gaunoux in “Les Perrieres” Meursault
Mid-summer, I had the great fortune to visit with Jean-Michel Gaunoux during our trip to Burgundy, and cannot express enough, what a honor it is to be able to offer these wines to you. -Karen Ulrich
Small with yields and production, but grand in generosity and grace, Jean-Michel Gaunoux has always favored freshness and acidity over any influence of oak. In Meursault, he harvests early, never employs more than 20% new oak, racks after one year at most, and blends and ages in stainless steel to maintain minerality and citrus notes. Gaunoux also halted all battonage in 2004, and since then has added only minimal amounts of sulfur to his bottled wines. As the raciest of Gaunoux’s wines, the Meursault “Les Perrieres” always exhibits great precision and tension, regardless of the vintage. Read more
Thank you Meghan Ivey for this post from Loire!
When we arrived at Sebastien David in St. Nicholas de Bourgueil the weather could not have been more beautiful. Spring had been a challenge for many all over France, and the Loire was no exception, with as much as 60-100 percent loss of certain parcels among producers in the area. Rain, hail, frost, you name it…they got it. Water was the issue. There was enough of it to cause problems with frost, but not enough of it to spray properly with copper. It would slide right off the grapes, and into the soil. Read more
Josep and Joan d’Anguera
This week, Bonney Rowley writes from Joan d’Anguera in Monsant. Thanks Bonney!
The saying, fine soil makes fine wine, has been passed from one generation of winemakers to another in the d’Anguera family. Their estate sits nestled between several mountain ranges and just east of the Ebro river in one of Spain’s newest D.Os, Montsant. This is a region often overshadowed (literally) by the mountainous, and more well-known, region of Priorat. I am struck by the beauty of this area as we drive through the dusty yellow hills and up into the brick colored mountains. Skeletons of stone foundations dot the landscape; relics of the region’s history of war and turmoil. It’s hard to believe that Catalonians only gained autonomy in 1978 after years of civil war and the rule of dictators. Read more
Thank you Suzanne Barros for this post from Cour-Cheverny!
Our host for the tour of Domaine des Huards, tasting and fantastic lunch was Alex Gendrier, the 8th generation to run the estate in Cour-Cheverny, a small appellation with only 58ha of vines. Alex’s father Michel Gendrier stopped using chemicals in the vineyards in the 70s, began farming biodynamically in the 90s (one of the first estates in the Loire to do so) and by 1995 all of the production was biodynamic. Their received organic certification in 1998, and biodynamic certification in 2010 and they only use estate grown fruit from healthy vines that showcases their terroir and vintage. There are still issues that can occur throughout the year, but they believe that taking care of the vines in this manner makes them stronger and more resistant to disease pressure. Read more
With tears in my eyes, I must share with you all some very sad news.
We lost a loving brother, an eccentric, loyal and devoted family member last night Sept. 10, 2016.
He was phenomenally chaotic, brilliant, honest, dutiful and legendary in his generosity. Marc brought light to the core of T Edward.
Our history is filled with indelible Pichon moments, we’ll miss you. RIP Marc Pichon.
-T. Byrnes Read more
This month, Billecart-Salmon joins (RED), to mark its 10-year anniversary in the fight against AIDS. With $350 million already raised for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, (RED) was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver. With these funds, Global Fund estimates that over 70 million people have been affected by their efforts in prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care. In joining the crusade to end AIDS, the Billecart family is donating 10% of the retail price of each bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV, which will provide 16 days of lifesaving medication to help prevent HIV+ pregnant women from passing the virus to their babies. Read more