August 7, 2012
Popping the Cork on the Screwcap Debate
Post by Chuck Hayward | August 7th, 2012
The debate over corks and wine is causing controversy once again, proving its unique ability to be an issue of contention for the foreseeable future. Much ballyhoo has been raised by the cork industry recently regarding Christian Canute, the owner of Rusden Winery in the Barossa Valley, and his decision to forswear screwcaps in favor of corks (despite the fact that he only used screwcaps for one of the ten wines in his portfolio and even that was only for a few vintages).
Top: 1999 Clare Valley semillon, 28 months after bottling. Bottom: After 125 months
In other news, UC Davis and PlumpJack Winery recently announced the commencement of a two year study that will attempt to determine, once and for all, how different closures affect the ability of wines to age. (Read more about the study here). This research is taking place despite the fact that the Australian Wine and Research Institute (AWRI) has been involved in a similar project for more than a decade. That study, analyzing 14 different types of closures, is in the process of concluding that screwcaps are superior when compared to other types of seals. Looking at the picture above (courtesy of Old Bridge Cellars), I don’t think I would want any of the wines on the right side of the picture. And by the way, the screwcap bottles are on the left. (more…)
July 24, 2012
Posted by JJ Buckley Fine Wines under About
, On Location
| Tags: 2011 Napa vintage
, cabernet futures
, California Cabernet Society
, MacArthur Liquors
, Napa futures
, Ridge Winery
, Robert Parker
, Wine Advocate
2011 Napa Vintage Preview with a Glance Back at California Futures
Post by Chuck Hayward | July 24th, 2012
California Cabernet Society’s Annual Barrel Tasting
The annual Bordeaux futures campaign attracts unparalleled attention, and there are many who feel the hoopla that surrounds it is undeserved. But it cannot be denied that en primeur focuses the attention of critics and merchants across the globe on the qualities of the vintage at hand. Interestingly, the lack of a futures program for California wines means they collectively escape the spotlight that Bordeaux wines enjoy (or rather endure, in the case of the 2011s). Instead, information about the latest vintage of California wines tends to come out bit by bit from those few critics who actually have access to winemakers and their cellars. However, it wasn’t always that way…
As the market for California cabernet became more serious in the mid-1980s, many wineries began to emulate the way Bordeaux presented new vintages to the press and the market. Recognizing that consumers were becoming increasingly familiar with the en primeur system for Bordeaux, and at the same time taking advantage of Robert Parker’s increasing influence in the California cabernet segment of the wine industry, MacArthur Beverages, a Washington D.C. retailer, held the first ever California futures tasting for their clients in 1985. Over the next few years, Parker attended the event as well and published his assessments of the unfinished wines while also offering practical advice to consumers interested in purchasing domestic wine futures. (more…)
June 5, 2012
Posted by JJ Buckley Fine Wines under 2011 Bordeaux
, JJ Buckley Meets
, On Location
| Tags: 2011 Bordeaux
, 2011 en primeur
, 2011 Pomerol
, Christian Moueix
, Feytit Clinet
, Jeffrey Davies
, Jeremy Chasseuil
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Looking for Signs at Feytit Clinet
Post by Chuck Hayward | June 5th, 2012
JJ Buckley’s Andrew Frieden spending some QT with Feytit Clinet
One of the advantages of spending a full week in Bordeaux at en primeur is the luxury one has to get to know a wine. Any other time of year, that would come through a winery visit, hanging out with the owner or winemaker, kicking the dirt, tasting through some barrel samples or older vintages. But, that is hard to do at en primeur. There, I relish the opportunity to taste a wine more than once. It really helps to taste a wine twice, three times, though four times is probably ideal. Call it statistics. You get a real sense of what the wine is all about after you have sampled it a few times.
So it was with Feytit Clinet, as we had a chance to taste the 2011 for the first time with Jeffrey Davies who is consulting with the estate, then once again at the Rive Droite tasting, where we had more quiet time to spend with the wine. It was then that we started to notice intriguing nuances in the wine that we hadn’t quite picked up on the first time. We tried it once more, perhaps too quickly at a negociant, but it wasn’t enough time to really pin down what it was that made the Feytit Clinet stand out. Then I found out we would have one more opportunity to taste it at the winery….where I hoped we could find a telltale sign that would best explain the wine’s mystique. (more…)
May 23, 2012
Where to Wine and Dine: The Beaune Edition
Post by Chuck Hayward | May 23rd, 2012
Wherever one finds vineyards and wineries, good dining usually follows. And
Tower of power! DRC display at Ma Cuisine
when it comes to Burgundy, the local cuisine expresses itself in a very direct and focused manner. This is not a region of haute cuisine for the wealthy, the gastronomes, or foodspotters who populate cities and other foodie destinations. Rather, Burgundy’s cuisine perfectly reflects the region’s wine culture. Honest and straightforward without embellishments, the food is much like the vignerons who have worked the land for so long.
Dining out in Burgundy makes you realize how much of its cuisine populates America’s tables. Here, the menus often feature escargots presented in their shells or puff pastries. Your meal might start off with some jambon persille, a country-style pate featuring chunky ham joined in aspic with spices and parsley. And it will be hard to escape the classic boeuf bourguignon, chunks of fork-tender beef in a deeply flavored, richly colored gravy, a dish almost too intense and powerful to pair with the region’s subtle pinots. You’ll also see the trademark gougeres, warm cheese puffs that are so prevalent, and addictive, at receptions or before a meal. The highlight of the cheese cart is epoisse. Pungent and runny, it commands your attention and pairs well with an after dinner marc de bourgogne. (more…)
April 27, 2012
2011 Bordeaux: The quest for balance
In April, we sent 14 of our team to Bordeaux to wade neck-deep into the 2011 vintage en primeur. The result? Our largest report ever—119 pages and in excess of 580 tasting notes, along with a comprehensive vintage assessment, articles, market analysis and more.
The region to beat in 2011 is Pomerol, and it gets our nomination for appellation of the vintage. However, among an otherwise irregular crop, there are some exceptional wines to be found in other areas. The most successful wines showed elegance and balance, and can afford mid-term cellaring.
Visit our 2011 Bordeaux portal to download the report and access our videos, blogs, images and more. This page will also contain our 2011 Bordeaux futures inventory as wines become available.
Having tasted and re-tasted hundreds of wines over the course of the week, our experienced team is fully prepared to give thoughtful and educated advice to our customers, and will provide you with a personal perspective to guide your buying decisions. As we did with 2010, we will offer a 60% deposit only option on all 2011 Bordeaux purchases over $1000. The campaign has started and we will begin offering the wines in earnest next week.
April 15, 2012
Sweet Relief at Chateau d’Yquem
Post by Devon Magee | April 6th, 2012
After seven consecutive days of tasting the 2011 Bordeaux reds from morning to night, nothing was more soothing on my palate than a trip south to Sauternes to taste the vintage’s deliciously sweet (and tannin-free!) whites. Amidst a week of rumblings regarding the patchiness of 2011 reds compared to ’09 and ’10, I found the persistent voice of an extraordinary vintage in Sauternes after visiting eight of the top chateaux.
To talk vintages in Sauternes is to talk botrytis, and in 2011, this noble rot spread quickly and uniformly, allowing growers to start picking early (at peak ripeness), to pick quickly, and to finish early. The result is evident in the purity of expression and freshness in the top examples that we tasted. (more…)
April 13, 2012
“Islands of Happiness” at L’Eglise Clinet
Post by Cory Gowan | April 4th, 2012
Arriving at L'Eglise-Clinet
As we packed our three cars and made our annual migration from the Left Bank over to the Right for our last days in Bordeaux, we put together the mosaic of the 2011 Bordeaux vintage. Although weather patterns can tell part of the story, there is no substitution for one-on-one conversations with vignerons, and, of course, tasting the actual wines. It was at a negociant tasting where Denis Durantou’s wines singlehandedly confirmed our suspicions that Pomerol may be appellation of the vintage. So directly afterwards, we did what any savvy Bordeaux buyer would do – we squished three into the back seat and made the long trek across the Gironde and Dordogne rivers into Pomerol.
Aside from a quick trip to Chateau Le Gay in 2010 and one ill-advised “back roads” (long story) journey to Cheval Blanc last year, I had actually never been to the village of Pomerol - and I almost missed it once again. The only business of note in the tiny town was a small office of La Poste, and what I can only describe as an open-air junk shop with a man in overalls tinkering away. The rest of the landscape was all low slung buildings and a gentle sea of vines. (more…)