My House

Château du Hureau, Saumur-Champigny, Les Fevettes, 

First produced in 1989, Les Fevettes comes from a Cabernet Franc vineyard planted in 1943, so the vines are actually older than those vinified in the flagship Lisagathe cuvee (caveat: the winery site only mentions when the vineyard was first planted, not the average age of the current vines). My first impression is a wine more subtle, delicate and floral than the other cuvees. No Brett, no overt oak, lead pencil only in the background . Perhaps the most aristocratic Loire I’ve had, a wine that presents the Cab Franc character with great care and a sensitive touch. Am I reading signs here that Agathe Vatan is really taking over and off now? (Jan. 1, 2023)

François Villard, Crozes-Hermitage, Certitude, 2020

The Crozes-Hermitage “Certitude” comes from vineyards in the village of Mercurol, in the heart of the appellation, one hundred percent whole clusters aged for eighteen months in five and six year-old barrels. The first thing you notice is the archetypical nose, reflecting the essence of olives, meat and pepper. For the first hour, this is a moderately luscious wine, the tannins hazily providing structure, the acidity unobtrusive and only evident after the finish winds down. Chapter two is where the Rhone Syrah magic kicks in and the country bumpkin becomes a Janus. One face is a tapenade, roast beef and blackberry jam baguette in liquid form. The other is pepper and rust - I'm not saying the tannins are necessarily rusty, because right here they're not, I am saying they feel like a blacksmith coming home with iron fillings stuck to his hands. In the end, this is nothing too fancy or profound, just a lovely night in classic France. (Jan. 5, 2023)

Sphera, Lia, Blanc de Blancs, 2018

The nose has the same yeasty vibe as a Champagne Blanc de Blancs. The palate has less depth and complexity, though, even if we adjust for age. Still, a very fine piece of work. (Dec. 31. 2023)

Weingut Günther Steinmetz, Mosel, Brauneberger Mandelgraben, Riesling Eiswein, 2018

Deep bronze color, relatively low acidity for an eiswein, although much, much better balanced than a Sauternes, say. Burnt sugar and mint tea on both nose and palate. Think of an iced mint tea or a mint popsicle, but made with no industrial additives, just built from scratch with the fruit of the earth, the winemaker's heart and the drinker's imagination. (Dec. 31. 2023)

Domaine des Marrans, Morgon, Corcelette, 2021

A new Beaujolais in town, imported by Ori Baruch. This is yet another example of a talented winemaker taking over his family domaine. The style is traditional Beaujolais as exemplified by the famous Gang Of Four (Marcel Lapierre, Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thévenet, and Guy Breton). Deceptively light and fresh, an intriguing overlay of dust and clay makes for a charming package. (Jan. 3, 2023)