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10% off Mix & Match Wine Case

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Mix & Match Wine Case: Put Your own case together! Any 12 bottles from any of our White Bordeaux Selection. Once you’ve selected your bottles reply to this email and receive10% off the lowest JJ Buckley web price. Having trouble putting your case together? Contact a JJ Buckley Wine Specialist who can assist you in the process.

Click Here to view our selection of White Bordeaux Wines.

Once you’ve selected your wines send an email with your selection to marketing@jjbuckley.com or give us a call at 888.859.4697.

A few terms and conditions do apply. This is a limited time offer and it is subject to availability. Offer applies to White Bordeaux in-stock inventory only. Minimum 12 bottle purchase. Mixed cases. Valid from May, 21 2014 at 6:00AM PT- May 28, 2014 at 12:00 am PT. While supplies last. In the unlikely event of a wine becoming unavailable, a substitute of similar style and of equal or greater value will be suggested. This offer must be completed with a valid ship or pick-up date and is not eligible for storage. Offer does not apply to, and may not be combined with, previous or pending orders. You must be 21 years old. Licensed retailers have the right to refuse orders should an advertisement not comply with your state laws. Sale available to all states where shipping permitted from California. Geographic restrictions may apply. Offer subject to change as JJ Buckley Fine Wines reserves the right to modify or cancel this promotion with or without notice. Valid only for destinations/addresses within the continental U.S. where it is legal for JJ Buckley Fine wines to ship wine. Void where prohibited by law.

2013 Bordeaux: First Day’s Observations

Jeffrey Davies (l)chatting with Veronique Sanders, general manager at Chateau Haut-Bailly

Jeffrey Davies (l)chatting with Veronique Sanders, general manager at Chateau Haut-Bailly

While I have not been on every JJ Buckley trip to en primeur (this is my fifth), I have been quick to enjoy the tradition of starting each year’s tastings with a visit to the house of Jeffrey Davies of Signature Selections. A San Franciscan who decamped to Bordeaux long ago, spending time with Jeffrey gives us a perfect overview of the most recent vintage and the latest news (and gossip) about the Bordeaux wine business which helps to set the tone for the visits that follow during the rest of the week.

We chiselled away some time in our schedule to visit Jeffrey on a cloudy Sunday to taste through a wide range of 2013 reds that included wines from simpler appellations up to grand cru classe bottlings from regions all over Bordeaux and at varying price points. Between sips and spits, we walked through Jeffrey’s selections putting together our initial thoughts about the vintage.

“One thing you’ll not need to worry about in this vintage is the color,” observed Jeffrey and we had to agree. Each wine we tried had deep colors, usually opaque at the core of the bowl extending out to the rim. “It’s a good sign,” Jeffrey said “because it shows that the fruit got some measurable degree of ripeness.”

Given that the weather was cool and that many winemakers rushed to pick their grapes before things went south in their vineyards, we were also on the look for any green, vegetal characters in the wines we tried. “I think you’ll agree that there are not any wines here that are green or in any way herbaceous. This is not something that I’ve seen a lot with the 2013s.” We tended to agree noting that some people are more sensitive to herbal smells and flavors than others. Nevertheless, and unripe qualities manifested as overly vegetal are not as prevalent as might be expected.

A few of the 2013s tasted at the offices of Jeffrey Davies

A few of the 2013s tasted at the offices of Jeffrey Davies

While not as noticeable when going through his wines, Jeffrey commented that many wineries had difficulty dealing with tannins in 2013. “By picking before the rains, there was a risk of fruit with green tannins ending up in the cellar,” said Jeffrey. “And some winemakers pressed too late or too heavily which left considerable amount of tannins in the finished wines.” Jeffrey’s prediction proved to right on the money as a later tasting showed many wines possessing firm tannins that were drying to the palate instead of ripe, soft tannins that were in balance with the fruit levels of the wine.

When it came to successes in 2013, he clearly agreed with many others who have previewed the 2013’s that the white wines of Pessac-Leognan and Sauternes would be the wines to watch. Our upcoming visit to wineries in Pessac and Leognan will give us some insight on how the wineries from south of Bordeaux ultimately fared.

With these cursory, yet important, observations on what to expect over the next few days, we bid adieu to Jeffrey and went our way…. to another tasting.

Click here to read about our thoughts on the 2013 Bordeaux as we arrive at en primeur.

2013 Bordeaux: Let En Primeur Begin!

 

A line of samples telling us the work that lies ahead

A line of samples telling us the work that lies ahead

The month of April approaches and at JJ Buckley, that means its time to renew our passion for the wines of Bordeaux. It’s about this time that the region’s wineries and negociants throw open their doors and pull out the corkscrews and spitbuckets as wine buyers, the media and a few other hangers on descend on Bordeaux to taste the latest vintage. At the same time, pronouncements on the quality of the new wines are made and business decisions are scrutinized in the lead up to the en primeur sales campaign.

This year, just as in the past eight years, members of the JJ Buckley team will be there attending tastings and visiting wineries to learn first hand what the new vintage has to offer. We do this not only to make our purchasing decisions but to give direct and informed assessments to our clients.

What do the 2013 Bordeauxs have to tell us at this point. The weather has played the most important role in what these wines will offer. Rain and cooler temperatires wreaked havoc in Bordeaux forcing growers and winemakers to deal with problems they have rarely encountered. (More information about the weather during the 2013 growing season can be found in our upcoming report on JJ Buckley’s visit to Bordeaux.)

The bad weather clearly foced some wineries to panic. Over the past few months, reports of wineries declassifying their entire crops while others made infinitesimal amounts of their grand vin crept out into the market. With this news of poor quality and little wine, wine writers declared the vintage a washout and questioned the need to even sell the wines en primeur. Others declared their intention to avoid tasting the wines all together.

Much of this hoohah seems to be a bit unprofessional. Responsible writers and buyers recognize that Bordeaux is going through some problems with unsold expensive wines backed up in warehouses and a few vintages of challenging quality soon to come. And the fact that Bordeaux is suffering from a hipster credibility crisis has not been lost on anyone. So the bashing continues…

But to say the 2013s are of poor quality before even tasting them seems a bit prejudgemental. Wineries are better equipped to make wines in difficult years like 2013 than they were even 25-30 years ago. Sorting tables, green harvesting procedures, declassification of substandard lots are just a few things that Bordeaux has utilized to improve wine quality since the last rainy harvests. The proof will be in the pudding. And that’s why JJ Buckley tastes at en primeur.

marketing@jjbuckley.com

marketing@jjbuckley.com

Early reports say that the 2013s are charming and approachable with good quality to be found here and there, a surprising assessment given the gloomy prognistications by the press. There will definitely be less 2013 red wine entering the market thanks to very low yields caused by the poor weather as well as strict selections in the vineyard and the cellar to maintain quality.

The success of the vintage will depend, as it always does, on pricing. Some in the business are calling for prices 30-50% below what the owners got for the 2012s. Others want prices that were found for the 2008s which were set low as the impact of the GFC was being felt. The decision of the Tesseron family at Chateau Pontet Canet to not only annouce their pricing before the tasting season began but to set the price equal to the 2012s has made many Bordelaise nervous.

We’ll keep our ears to the ground and keep you informed on the quality of the harvest along with talk regarding the pricing right here. Also check our tweets for pictures and quick notes (check #JJBATBDX) and friend us on Facebook for even more.

JJ Buckley at the Grand Jours de Bourgogne: Update from the Cotes de Nuits

JJ Buckley's Jeff Loo took his trademark cowboy hat to Burgundy but this producer had him beat!

JJ Buckley’s Jeff Loo took his trademark cowboy hat to Burgundy but this producer had him beat!

Following the introductory tastings in Chablis that start the Grand Jours de Bourgogne week, the wine industry entourage turns their attention southwards and begin their immersion into the wines of the Cote d’Or. The day focuses on the wines of the Cote de Nuits which are presented in four different locations from the village of Marsannay in the north down to Nuits St. Georges. There are over 200 tables at the four tastings and each producer can easily pour 4-6 wines, often pouring multiple vintages of the same wine. So basically, you’re looking at almost 1000 wines being poured on Tuesday. And there are three days of tastings to go. And folks in the trade say that tasting Bordeaux en primeur is hard……

Starting the day, you have to come to grips with the fact that there’s no way to taste all the wines you hope to try and that time management is essential. Knowing all this information from our visit to the region two years ago, it was probably rather cruel of us to send JJ Buckley’s Jeff Loo to fend off the crowds all by his lonesome. But we figured that his enthusiasm for Burgundy was all that he needed to handle the moshpit at each tasting.

Here’s a brief synopsis of his thoughts after tasting the day’s wines.

“As a whole, the village of Vosne Romanee is the most successful in 2012. They were simply the best wines I encountered today and that’s saying something given the sheer number of wines that were available to try. The amount of stunning wines that I tasted, whether grand crus or simple village wines, was simply incredible. These bottlings will be among the best candidates for long term cellaring. 

I found the 2012s from Gevrey Chambertin to be extremely fruit forward and strong. They were almost modern in style, yet still exhibited a significant measure of restraint. The best examples showed grippy tannins that are typically encountered in wines from this commune that also showed off some mouthwatering acidity. Some years in the cellar will be essential with Gevrey’s top cuvees.

The day wasn’t just about the most famous crus of the Cotes de Nuits. Part of this tasting included wines from Marsannay and Fixin, two appellations that can offer some of Burgundy’s best values. While the 2011 vintage was delicious in Marsannay, the 2012’s will easily outlive them.  Fixin also had a strong showing in 2012, with most producers making wines easily in the 88-92 point range. Look to this commune when looking for well priced pinots from the Cote d’Or.”

Look forward to Jeff’s final report from the Burgundy’s most important trade event as he travels south to taste through the wines of the Cote de Beaune.

Click here to read our blogpost about the 2012 wines from Chablis presented at the Grand Jours.

Can’t make it to the Grand Jours de Bourgogne? JJ Buckley brings the Cote de Nuits to you.

2010 Domaine de l’Arlot Cote de Nuits Villages “Clos du Chapeau”

2003 Faiveley Gevrey Chambertin les Marchais

2010 Domaine Tortochot Clos de Vougeot

2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Vosne Romanee

St. Patrick’s Day and Wine: Maybe a Connection After All?

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Peter Rosback of Sineann Winery

When it comes to holidays and wine, some combinations just make sense. We all know how much French wine gets consumed on Bastille Day, even here in the States. We have yet to see a similar celebration of wine connected to July 4th, something that would actually make sense given that wineries now exist in every state of America. But wine and St. Patrick’s Day? It’s all about Guinness and poitin on March 17th, not the pleasures from the vine.

But is it really? Ireland and the wine industry actually have extensive connections that go back centuries. The English wine trade’s first connections to Bordeaux and the Port wine region began in the 1600s with Irish merchants starting their initial forays into Bordeaux later in the 18th century. Back then, Irish citizens founded such notable wineries as Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages and Boyd Cantenac. Ireland’s role in Bordeaux’s economy is so deep that almost a dozen streets in the city refer to Irishmen.

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An ancient Irish castle on a label from Owen Roe Winery

Developing wineries was not the only focus of Irish businessmen. Some of Bordeaux’s oldest and most revered negociants were founded by Irish businessmen and still conduct business today. The oldest negociant in Bordeaux, Tastet & Lawton, was founded by Abraham Lawton who emigrated to France from County Cork shipping their first wines in 1739. The firm remains in the family’s hands today with members of ninth generation guiding operations.

You might be even more surprised to find out that there are wineries growing vitis vinifera grapes in Ireland. This has all happened quite recently and the action has been centered in Cork. There are only a handful of domaines in existence and they are reputedly more likely to make whites than reds. Thanks to global warming, there has been a strong upsurge in grape plantings in England so more wineries in Ireland could be possible.

In the meantime, there are plenty of American wineries that celebrate their Irish heritage, particularly by using Gaelic in naming their wineries or for individual wines. Peter Rosback’s Sineann Winery has been producing exceptional pinot noirs from Oregon while the labels on the reserve wines from David O’Reilly’s Owen Roe Winery showcases stunning photographs of old Irish castles. The Concannon Vineyard in Livermore was founded by an Irish immigrant who was actually born on St. Patrick’s Day. Other wineries may not have such intimate connections to Ireland. Instead, you might find Irish references such as Limerick Lane with their popular zinfandel.

St. Patrick’s Day and wine? Not so far fetched after all!

Here’s a selected list of some Bordeaux properties that have longstanding connections to Ireland.

1990 Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac)

2009 Chateau Phelan Segur (St. Estephe)

2010 Chateau Kirwan (Margaux)

2000 Chateau Pichon Lalande (Pauillac)

Our featured California wine with an Irish connection is:

2010 Robert Keenan Merlot (Napa Valley)

The World of ZAP Changes, The Vintage Insights Remain the Same

zin 1If there’s one thing that the wine industry can once in a while guarantee, it’s a bit of consistency. The vines wake up in the spring, champagne sells like crazy as the holidays approach and the annual ZAP tasting is held during the end of January. In fact, ZAP has traditionally occupied the weekend before the Super Bowl just so zin enthusiasts don’t have to sacrifice football to enjoy their favorite wine.

After more than 20 years of the same tasting format, ZAP undertook some radical changes in the structure of this year’s event. Instead of the “Grand Tasting”, which has usually been held at the pavilions at Fort Mason in San Francisco, the day’s festivities were spread amongst three nearby buildings. Re-branded as the “Zinfandel Experience”, ZAP created three themed tasting sessions which lasted two hours with each session held three times over the course of the day.

Most importantly, “this revolutionary new format” was also significantly downsized with each of the nine tasting sessions allowing only 350 people. Compare this with the almost 9000 people who showed up each year under the old format and we are talking a big reduction in the number of people who can attend.

A lineup of Bedrock zinfandels

A lineup of Bedrock zinfandels

Not only was there a decrease in the number of attendees (and the long lines waiting for the tasting to start) but there was a significant decline in the number of wineries who poured their wines. This slimmed down tasting had about 30% fewer wineries sharing their wines and even fewer available for the trade portion tasting a few days earlier. It’s pretty clear that the ZAP of old is changing.

In addition to providing consumers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the pleasures of zinfandel, ZAP’s traditional January date has also allowed some folks in the trade to gain a look into the latest vintage coming to market, in this case, the wines from 2012. While zinfandel and cabernet don’t have much in common in the vineyard or the glass, over the years, the ZAP tasting has provided an insight about the style of the soon-to-be released California cabs. Generally, the basic qualities of a zinfandel’s bouquet and palate are a good indicator of what can be expected in cabernets from Napa and Sonoma from the same vintage.

The hype surrounding California’s 2012 vintage has been building since the grapes were crushed. Following a dismal 2011 harvest, winemakers were keen to have some good news to tell the trade and the drumbeat has been fairly insistent ever since. Not only was the quality deemed exceptional but there was going to be plenty of it.

Tegan Passalacqua of Turley Wine Cellars

Tegan Passalacqua of Turley Wine Cellars

With that background, I was looking forward to tasting as many 2012s at ZAP’s trade tasting as possible and was ready to be impressed. Maybe I arrived with high expectations but there was clearly nothing among the zinfandels I tasted that made the 2012s stand up and be noticed. The bouquets were moderately intense with soft expressions of pure fruit. There wasn’t much complexity to be found aromatically but that can be expected at this early point in their development. The palates of the best 2012s mimicked the aromatics with medium bodied flavors of dark red fruits. While pleasant, there was something missing, that wow factor that separates the best vintages from the rest.

It’s important to remember that this is just a small window on what the 2012 vintage has to offer. It’s interesting to note that similar observations have been made about the 2012s that were recently poured at the Premiere Napa Valley Auction. There will be opportunities to taste 2012 cabernets will be coming soon during the next few months. Check in with JJ Buckley’s blog to get the latest on the vintage!

Host your own ZAP tasting with these zinfandels from JJ Buckley!!

2012 Brown Estate Zinfandel

2011 Ridge “Ponzo Vineyard” Zinfandel

2010 Tofanelli Family Zinfandel