Monthly Archives: August 2021

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 31, 2021

2009 Domaine la Monardiere, Vacqueyras Rouge, Les 2 Monardes, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France.
The ripe 2009 Les 2 Mondares Vacqueyras by Domaine la Mondariere shows dense fruit and loads of savory elements with a sense of maturity really making its presence felt with hints of truffle, dried flowers and sous bois or bouillon cube notes coming through on the warm mouth filling palate with boysenberry, plum sauce, stewed cherries and creme de cassis along with chalky stone, a meaty/iron element, tarry licorice, garrigue and leathery notes. The Les 2 Monardes was crafted from 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was sourced from vines of an average age of 40 years, on this special Lieu-Dit that is planted on the region’s classic limestone and sandy clay soils in Vacqueyras, which is a bit higher in elevation and on cooler hillsides that see a bit more breezy conditions and chilly nights, helping provide welcome relief from the hot Summer days in the Southern Rhone, adding to the balanced quality in these wines. This dark garnet red 2009, a pretty warm year, shows its age and ripeness, but still delivers a very nice performance and while fruity, still has a rustic character that is best enjoyed with hearty foods, especially grilled meats and or hard cheeses. Martine and Christian Vache at Domaine la Monardiere are putting out some soulful stuff, and the wine are solid values too.

The Vache family bought this estate from the Monardieres back in 1987 and, as noted in my prior reviews, began their journey into becoming a top producer in the Vacqueyras AOC, this is the result of a lot of hard work in the cellar as well as an investment in the vines, converting to organic farming and committing to smaller yields and quality, all of which has paid off with their wines, including this bottling. As noted before, the Grenache and Syrah grapes are all hand-harvested, carefully sorted in the vineyard to maximize concentration and intensity. This wine saw 100% de-stemmed grape berries that were fermented using spontaneous yeasts, with a lengthy maceration and extraction period that lasted close to three weeks with gentle daily punch-downs. The Vache’s traditional approach included them aging their Vacqueyras single cru for 12 months in a combination of tank and neutral cask, with some Grenache lots in smaller barrels to add richness and soften tannins and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Monardiere lineup now includes a Vacqueyras Rosé, an Old Vine Vacqueyras (Vieilles Vignes) and this single vineyard style Les 2 Monardes, which has become a go to wine for me in recent years, and I can’t wait to get some of the latest releases, though it has been cool to explore some of these nicely cellared bottles, which have been showing up. I am excited to see what this Domaine does for the 2018 and 2019 vintages, which look like superb vintages in the Southern Rhone, keep an eye out for them.
($35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 30, 2021

2016 The Eyrie Vineyards, Pinot Gris, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Tasting a little like a Riesling, the Eyrie Dundee Hills Pinot Gris has a hint of tropical fruit, flinty wet stones, green apple and dried apricots along with subtle earthy notes, orange citrus and white flowers, it is just starting to get a creamy mouth feel, but still has a vein of tangy zest, making it a nicely complex example of Oregon Gris. It’s well documented that David Lett, founder and winemaker at the famous Eyrie Vineyards, which started back in the mid sixties, helped pioneer Pinot Noir here in the Willamette Valley and is one of the heros of Oregon’s recognition in premium wines and ushered in the golden age of Pinot Noir in America, though it is lesser known that he also was a huge fan and maker of Oregon Pinot Gris, making it one of the wines that defined Oregon wine for decades, especially on the white side of things, and Eyrie still makes one of the standard bearer examples, like this beauty from the 2016 vintage. David’s son Jason Lett continued to produce outstanding wines here at Eyrie, which are hand crafted using traditional techniques, like native yeast fermentations in reds, skin contact on whites, and full natural malolactic to promote, as Lett notes, the most complex expression of their varieties. These old school wines receive minimal racking, extended lees contact, complete and spontaneous malolactic fermentation, with no fining, and minimal filtration, all to capture purity and influence of the year and terroir. For this Pinot Gris, which is all from organic Dundee vines, Eyrie fermented and aged it in 100% stainless with the wine resting on the lees for 11 months and finished at around 13% natural alcohol, which helps explain the wines exotic flavors and beautiful texture.

In the cellar, Eyrie likes to do extended lees contact on their wines, with both red and white wines, which are allowed to fully develop before bottling and, as they explain, for example, their Pinot Gris ages, as mentioned above, for a full 11 months before bottling, or about 3 times as long as a typical Oregon Pinot Gris, though we are seeing a modern revolution in styles here in Oregon with many unique bottlings coming in recent years taking advantage of the skin contact excitement in the market place. Interesting, back in 1974, Eyrie Founder David Lett observed a new strain of malolactic bacteria in their wines, which had happened naturally in the cellar, that allowed them to undergo malolactic at lower temperatures and higher degrees of acidity than any commercial strain available at that time. This natural resident of Eyrie’s cellar continues to contribute to every wine they produce, including this Pinot Gris and their delicious Pinot Blanc, as well as the Chards. The Lett’s believe that these full and natural fermentation(s) (primary and secondary) gives their wines a remarkable stability and balance as well as allows them to age exceptionally well, this they say, just cannot be achieved any other way. They love to use whole cluster fermentation, depending on the vintage, and even do it on the Pinot Gris to make a full skin fermented Rosé version. Even with the nice bit of age on this 2016, there is lots of energy and natural acidity that keeps things fresh here, while the maturity adds depth and makes it more rounded, it is a serious food wine, much in the mold of a good Alsatian Pinot Gris, very impressive stuff. I am glad I got a chance to try this Pinot Gris has it enters its prime and it reminds me I need to pay attention to Eyrie again and restores my faith in the grape, which is making a serious come back!
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 29, 2021

2017 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé, Gigondas AOC, Cuvée Tradition, Rhone Valley, France.
The ripe and dense 2017 cuvee Tradition Gigondas by Gour de Chaulé flows smoothly across the full bodied palate with deep layers of black raspberry, plum, pomegranate and creme de cassis fruit along with sweet dark flowers, snappy herbs, a light sense of spice and a subtle earthiness, adding dried lavender, warm stones, a touch of cedar and pepper. This is an impressive and serious Grenache based wine that way over delivers for the price, this is a wine that could easily pass for a top notch Chateauneuf, and it should get better for the next 3 to 5 years in bottle and last 15 more years, pretty solid for such a warm vintage and while there is plenty of stuffing here, I’d say with the way it drinks, you would be well served to enjoy it sooner v. later. This years version, of the Cuvée Tradition, was crafted from 80% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre, all done with native yeasts and using full whole clusters and then aged for close to 18 months in large neutral French oak foudres. These Gigondas wines by Domaine du Gour de Chaulé are old school, natural and rustic versions in most years and there usually is a rawness that is highly compelling with leather notes and some rough tannin and power, but the 2015, 2016 and really ripe 2017 editions are big and opulent wines that show a more seamless and smooth personality, easy to love in their youth, especially this one.

The modern times at Domaine du Gour de Chaulé has been all about women that have heroically brought fame to this property in the shadow of the Dentelles de Montmirail where they have farmed small yielding vines in Gigondas with their estate being mainly planted to Grenache, with a few small parcels of Syrah and Mourvedre for blending in their main wines, plus a small plot of Cinsault for use in their unique Gigondas Rosé, a wine that is almost never seen on the shelves, as it sells out fast. The original estate dates back to 1871, but the Domaine du Gour de Chaulé, as it is known now was founded in 1900 by Eugene Bonfils, current matriarch Stéphanie Fumoso’s great grandfather, with her daughter, Aline, being the one that significantly developed and modernized the estate back in 1985 and converted the estate to all sustainable farming, bringing the quality levels up and gaining world wide attention for the wines. This terroir, which has been a prized area since Roman times, at Gigondas’ higher elevation gets a bit more cooling influence and the rocky clay and marl soils bring out the best in Grenache, with incredible depth and complexity, and Syrah is more common here than down in the sandy lower regions of the Southern Rhone Valley. This is label to search out, imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, and I highly recommend grabbing any vintage you see!
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 28, 2021

2020 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC “Claré J.C.” Piedmonte, Italy.
The new release of Vajra’s unique Claré J.C. Langhe Nebbiolo is bright ruby in the glass and zesty on the lighter framed spicy palate with a spritz of effervescence and racy ripe red fruits that give pure Nebbiolo flavors, but without the usual gripping tannins, making for a distinctly fresh and quaffable wine to be enjoyed with a slight chill and with non pretense meals. This wine picks up the floral nature of the Nebbiolo with seeped rose petal aromatics and a crisply dry, but fruity array of red berries, pomegranate, grilled orange, tart cherry and garden strawberries along with dried herbs, Asian spices and star anise. This wine recalls an almost forgotten era and style of local Nebbiolo that dates back to the 1600s with a short maceration period and bottled quickly capturing the natural CO2, similar to what we see in Spain’s basque Txakolinas. Giuseppe Vajra’s one of the region’s most outstanding talents and his latest collection offers quality throughout the range from the serious and cellar worthy cru Barolo bottlings to the more ready to go wines like this one, and I can almost never not mention his thrilling dry Riesling, one of my absolute favorites.

The ever innovative Vajra family, who pioneered organic farming in Barolo in the early 1970s and who invested in high elevation parcels, knowing that they would be greatly beneficial with the ever warming climate, painstakingly researched the historical recipe for this old style Nebbiolo, finding the winemaking protocol that follows the 1606 writings of G.B. Croce, jeweler of the House of Savoia, who chronicled this delicacy and who noted that the wines were bottled soon after the fermentation so as to retain a gentle off-dry finish, with a zippy spritz and a lovely energy. This 2020 vintage, which was one of the longest in recent times and helped add vigorous natural acidity while providing ripe density, was done with about 18% of the grapes, which came from younger vines within the Langhe DOC, fermented in whole clusters with the rest being de-stemmed berries, all in tank. Then, as the winery notes, after the noted shorter maceration, the wine was then racked to finish fermentation off the skins, for a gentler extraction and was bottled in February following harvest. This wine, which I really chilled down on a warm evening went beautifully with a spicy pasta rigatoni with Calabrian peppers, and I highly recommend it for the contented smiles it provokes.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 27, 2021

2015 Domaine Anthony Thévenet, Morgon, Vielles Vignes, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The 2015 Domaine Anthony Thévenet Morgon “Vieilles Vignes” is a generous and smooth drinking Cru Beaujolais with pure Gamay juiciness that provides endless enjoyment and is an exceptional value for what it get in the glass or bottle, which includes grapes sourced from all organic vines that were planted between1865 and1935 and set on the classic sandy soils with schist and blue granite of upper elevation Morgon, one of the region’s best crus. Fermented and aged naturally in mainly concrete with partial carbonic and bottled without additions, except for a small dose sulfur and or finning or filtering, the Anthony Thévenet is all about tradition and purity showing layers of black raspberry, plum and cherry fruits to start along with hints of walnut, stony mineral, truffle and anise. Uniquely in the cellar to keep the texture silky, Anthony doesn’t do punch-downs or pump-overs and the wine is moved only with gentle gravity flow. Interesting, Anthony Thévenet is not related to the famous Thévenets in the region, Jean-Paul, who is one of the most famous producers in Morgon and Fleurie history, and his son Charly, that is now making the wines, are not related, which would seem weird, but then you find out that Thévenet is actually an extremely common last name around these parts. That said, this was my first experience with Anthony’s wines and I was happily impressed with the nature of this wine and found it completely charming. Served to me at cellar temperature, this old vine Morgon gained a lovely strawberry note and the aromatic really perked up while it opened in the glass

Anthony Thévenet, who has put time in with some legendary winemakers, honing his own skills, is part of the new generation of vignerons in Cru Beaujolais that are driven by passion and driven by the love of place and history, making wines that are true to traditions and with a respect for the land. Mostly, including Thévenet are devotees of Jules Chauvet, who almost single handedly turned the region around by pursuing organic and natural style wines, rejecting industrial farming and mass production, his influence is still felt today in the wines here, as well as In the wines from his mentors, as well as local heros such as Lapierre, Dutraive, the Bretons and the other namesake Thévenets. In 2010, Thévenet inherited his grandfather’s vineyard in Villié-Morgon, with awesome old vine parcels that are 40-150 years old. Anthony worked for the legendary Jean Foillard, along with George Descombes in the vineyard and in the cellars. He released his first vintage in 2013, which he handcrafts in the vin naturel style, after working closely with Decombes and Foillard gave him time to fine tune his own wines. Thévenet works and lives among his vines with animals, so it is important that the environment is healthy and he has, as his importer T. Edwards says, a steadfast devotion to his vines and the terroir with a huge respect for those that came before him. The vineyards are all farmed organically with no chemicals and no pesticides all by hand and sorting is done directly in the vineyard. The wines see a mix of old wood and concrete tank, and get 10 to 25 days of carbonic maceration and rest in the cement for 8 months. I am now excited to try the more current vintages, especially the 2019 and the upcoming 2020s.
($28 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 26, 2021

2016 A Tribute to Grace, Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
The 2016 a Tribute to Grace Grenache from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is a deeply flavored and dark wine, much more opulent and dense than I expected, it is serous stuff that will remind people of big modern era Chateauneufs with ripe layering of fruits and its impressive mouth feel. Winemaker Angela Osborne, the Kiwi transplant, is making some of the state’s most sought after and desirable Grenache wines, each with individual characteristics from the different vineyards she uses, with this one being one of the biggest and most impactful in the collection and this dark garnet colored 2016 is ripe full-bodied vintage to enjoy over the next 3 to 5 years. The nose is fruity and subtlety floral with some underlying spice and earth all of which echos on the palate and on the aftertaste with a mouth full of red berries, plum sauce, kirsch, fig paste and mocha along with faint traces of cinnamon, pepper and anise. This wine is very evolved and the tannins and acidity are luxurious integrated. making for a lush and smooth expression of Grenache, it’s a wine that is really best with robust cuisine, I can see it going incredibly well with prime rib, lamb kabobs and or a hearty beef strew, and for those that don’t eat meat, best to pair this with hard sheep’s cheeses, mushroom casserole or veggie lasagna. Osborne, as I have mentioned, has made quite a name for herself and is now part of the fabric of this new generation of talent in California that are taking our wines to the next level.

Angela Osborne, the New Zealand born winemaker who moved to California in 2006 to pursue her love of Grenache, first made this wine in 2007, sourcing her first California Grenache from this Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, which is, as she notes, nestled high above the Pacific Ocean and close to 33 miles inland, this high-desert vineyard site provides, in her words, the perfect balance of heat and light for thrilling quality grapes. Osborne named her label after her grandmother Grace, who she says gave her her so much and who she will always pay tribute to through her wines, which she also hopes will show a sense of grace as well, something I think she has done well in her first dozen or so vintages. The Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard is farmed sustainably and planted, as Osborne notes, according to particular site-specificity and set on exposed rock and deep sandy soils, it is a warm terroir that is not unlike Chateauneuf du Pape or the Mediterranean region of Spain and France, particularly good for Grenache, which makes up only a tiny percentage of what is grown here with five different Grenache clones in a small block that Angela gets. For those looking for exceptional new world Grenache, a Tribute to Grace should be on your radar, these are hard to find wines, but well worth the chase, and don’t miss Osborne’s Rosé if you see it, a bit easier to find are the Folded Hills label, which I tasted at the San Francisco Slow Wine tasting last year and reviewed, these are wines she consults for and are excellent as well.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 25, 2021

2020 Ricochet Wine Company, Le Ressort, Pétillant Naturel, Sparkling Wine, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This Le Ressort Pet-Nat, made from Pinot Blanc and a small amount of Pinot Noir, by Ricochet is a fresh and delightful little sparkler that is more complex and textural that first impressions and I was left very impressed and happily pleased by the second glass, its dry crisp nature and energy make it wonderfully food friendly as well as being highly quaffable. I had never heard of or had these Ricochet Wines before coming across this bottling, and I have found out winemaker Erich Berg has some solid background in Oregon wine and has worked for Domaine Serene and the lesser known, but really cool Illahe Vineyards and is now serving as the assistant winemaker to Brianne Day at Day Wines, who has become one of the state’s leaders in natural styled and terroir driven wines. Not only are Berg’s wines good, he is doing good beyond crafting his wines by donating 5% of sales to local and regional non-profit organizations that specialize in areas that help people bounce back from difficult situations, hence the name Ricochet, which means to bounce back.

The small lot and handcrafted 2020 Ricochet Le Ressort Pétillant Naturel, which is slightly pinkish, almost Rosé like, was made from 95% Pinot Blanc and just 5% Pinot Noir from grapes sourced from a site in McMinnville in the Willamette Valley. The soda cap, pop top, Le Ressort was naturally fermented and saw just a few months of lees aging before bottled with some cloudy sediment presence in the glass, but the flavors are bright and clear with a surprising sense of richness and body with an impactful palate of Fuji apple, melon, peach and a delicate sense of cherry and strawberry fruits along with hints of herbs, mineral, brioche, verbena and subtle florals. Ricochet, which started really in 2018, is a micro winery and according to Berg is now up to 12 tons per vintage of grapes processed, which is tiny, and they do a little Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Mourvedre Rosé, Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, and this fun bubbly Pet-Nat. I look forward to trying more of these Ricochet Wines, with the Gruner and Tempranillo being high on my list to try and while this Le Ressort is already sold out on their website I highly recommend chasing a few bottles down in the wild!
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 24, 2021

2018 Carbone by Favia Wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
Andy Erickson’s Favia Carbone Cab is an ultra deep, lush and luxurious wine that shows a fine balance and energy, it should continue to please and improve for many years to come and I was very impressed with the total quality here, it is very much in line with Cabernets that cost twice or three times the price. Erickson, of course has incredible experience making elite wines, including his wines at Screaming Eagle, Staglin, Dancing Hares and Ovid to name a few, is an exceptional winemaker, who I think is celebrating his 20th year as a head winemaker in Napa, so it was great to check in on his wines. Andy and his wife Annie now make there home in the Coombsville AVA, a small part of Napa with a long history, as they note, goes back to the later part of the 1800s. Back in the early days of Napa Valley viticulture, the Erickson’s tell, three brothers settled in what is now known as Coombsville, they, Antonio, Lorenzo, and Nicola Carbone also were the first Italian immigrants to inhabit this quiet, rolling hilled area east of the city of Napa, and records show they were cultivating crops as far back as 1872. They, as the Erickson’s continue, planted grapes on the hillsides, and they, as tradition in the area planted fruits and vegetables closer to the main house, which was erected in 1886, and they constructed a stone cellar that still remains today. The property became known as the Antonio Carbone Winery and Italian Gardens, and now it is home to Favia Wines, after Andy and Annie painstakingly restored the old residences, winery, orchards and the gardens. They have made this property home there family and farm a percentage of their own vines that go into this awesome Carbone, named for the original owners, Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2018 vintage of the Favia Carbone Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot and is the first vintage to be called “Cabernet Sauvignon” on the label. As prior releases were more classic Bordeaux blends, this year’s wine, as the winery notes, maintains the stylistic opulence and fruit density, with the Cabernet Franc to the aromatic quality and adds distinct spice detail. The Cabernet Sauvignon is dominate as would be expected and delivers a thick sense black fruits, including blackberry coulis, hints of blueberries, plum and creme de cassis, as well as providing the structure and power here. Texture, a signature trait in Erickson’s wines is paramount and is seductive in this vintage, and remarkably seamless for such a young wine and the aftertaste goes on and on with touches of dark florals, exotic spices and anise. This Carbone is sourced from our favorite vineyards in the cooler Coombsville AVA, here at their estate and from a high end Oakville site, all of which gives this Cabernet Sauvignon its velvety tannins and complexity, underneath its expressive fruit. This wine was aged for sixteen months in French oak barrels, with enough new to give it a sweet toasty vanilla scent in the background, and it was bottled without fining and filtration. This inky purple/crimson wine really makes an impression and showcases the Favia house style, making it a gateway into their top bottlings. While not inexpensive, it is not outrageous, especially for what you get in the bottle. Also, the more limited efforts here sell out quickly, with 1,144 cases produced, the Carbone is much more available, so you’ll likely be able to find it and I recommend it for those looking for something a little more affordable than what you’ll see in this quality tier.
($75 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 23, 2021

2016 Filomena Wine Company, Syrah, Griffin’s Lair Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma County.
Luke Nio’s Filomena Griffin’s Lair Syrah is a thrill ride of epic proportions with boysenberry, hoisin, crushed violets, minty herbs, bacon, dark current and blueberry compote all coming at you on the medium/full bodied palate along with peppercorns, tarry earth, cinnamon, cedar. camphor and salted black licorice in the background adding to this wine’s northern Rhone meets California personality, it’s awesome stuff from this rising star. Nio, who is a winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Co, started his own micro-winery label in 2014, and has built up a solid reputation as a winemaker and has crafted a stellar collection of small lot wines over the last few vintages, including some cool rarities like his Enz Vineyard Cab Pfeffer Rosé and his Ricci Vineyard St. Laurent Red from Carneros, made from a unique Austrian grape, which has become a must have wine for me with its Cru Beaujolais style, semi-carbonic, juiciness, as well as this Griffin’s Lair Bottling, the signature wine here. This Syrah is impressive for it’s expressive nature and purity, it is a powerful and deeply colored wine that delivers a real bang for the buck with lush dark fruits, spice and classic smoky/meaty funk showing lush tannins, lively acidity, whole bunch complexity with a complex balance between the fruit and florals with the savory and mineral elements. Enjoy this gorgeous California Syrah over the next ten years and be sure to have it with hearty cuisine, especially BBQ, grilled meats and or wild and woodsy Mushroom dishes.

The Filomena Griffin’s Lair Syrah was hand crafted from small yielding vines in the cool, breezy zone in the Petaluma Gap AVA, not far from Lakeville and set on a complex array of fault influenced soils, the vineyard is farmed by John Flynn to mostly organic methods with the intension to move to full biodynamics in the future. Nio notes that Griffin’s Lair was planted in 2000 by Joan and Jim Griffin at their tiny ranch just off Lakeville Highway. It is planted to roughly 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Syrah (Noir, 470, Alban, and 877 clones) with a couple of rows of Viognier framing the Syrah block. The vineyard sits just five miles above San Pablo Bay at the southern end of the Petaluma Gap, an elbow-shaped valley that essentially acts as a wind tunnel from the coast. The Griffin’s Lair was elevated in prestige when Pax, famous for his Syrah released his version, which is one of the most desirable Syrahs in California, and it is a special site for Nio, who first came to the attention of Twain-Peterson with his own early efforts from this vineyard. This 2016 vintage was 100% whole cluster and foot-trod, employing an old school indigenous yeast fermentation with an extended maceration period with hand punch-downs before pressing. Everything done here was to promote full extraction of flavors and pigment with the idea to fully mature this wine before release. After the primary fermentation the Griffin’s Lair was barreled down to a neutral 600L demi-muid (French oak cask) and was aged 18 months before being bottled, then the wine was, as Nio adds, cellar rested for another 3 years. This offering is super limited, but I highly recommend getting a few bottles while you can and join this list!
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 22, 2021

2018 Domaine de Montille, Beaune Premier Cru “Les Grèves” Red Burgundy, France.
Etienne’s 2018 Beaune Premier Cru Les Grèves Rouge is a beautiful and detailed red Burgundy that absolutely shows its class and is remarkably poised for such a young wine with a gorgeous textural quality and depth of fruit already in evidence on the lively, but satiny medium bodied palate. First impressions here are of potential and I was easily seduced by the bouquet and the beautiful entry with its lovely red fruits, rose petals and bright spiciness from the use of whole bunches in the fermentation. The De Montille Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves has silky round layers of Italian cherries, crushed raspberry and tangy strawberry fruits along with touches of mineral, herbs, blood orange and very well judged wood accenting, making for a regal and elegant Burgundy and one that should fill out in every dimension over the next 5 to 10 years, though one that seems to be complete and complexity enough to be enjoyed in its early life, it especially would be exciting with cuisine. This dark ruby colored Burgundy is ripe in aromatic and taste terms, highlighting the vintage and the showcases the underlying terroir, which is marked by the clay and limestone soils here that are very chalky, and as with all of De Montille’s farming, this parcel is all organic and biodynamic. Like his father’s classic style, Etienne De Montille used loads of whole clusters here, is this vintage, with about 66%, and it saw a native yeast primary fermentation, which is traditionally done here, along with a lengthy maceration period and diligent (daily) gentle hand punch-downs. After about 15 to 20 days on the skins the wine is pressed and racked to barrel, with about 25% new being used, as is per normal for the Domaine De Montille. The De Montille wines are always around 12% natural alcohol and the they usually see about 18 months in the oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered, all of which seem to be geared for graceful aging and this 2018 Le Grèves with its sense of pedigree is looking good to live up to this domaine’s reputation.

Domaine de Montille, located in Volnay, is one of the most respected wineries in the world, not just one of the top domaines in Burgundy, but also sparking a huge amount of pride within France. The De Montilles, with a family heritage that dates back to the 17th century in the region and a winemaking tradition and history since 1750, but it wasn’t until Hubert de Montille, a well known lawyer, took over in 1947 that the estate started to rise in quality, joining some of the elite domaines in the Cote d”Or. Dedicated to wine and committed to excellence, Hubert began a run of producing long lived and highly sought after Burgundies, making some of the best reds within the Pommard, Beaune and Volnay crus ever seen. I have been lucky enough to taste a few of Hubert’s finest efforts, including his 1990 Volnay, 1er Cru, Les Taillepieds, which was a bit near the end of its life, but was absolutely heavenly. Now, De Montille is run by Hubert’s son Etienne, who has maintained the heritage here and in some cases eclipsed his famous father with some excellent wines of his own. It should not be overlooked that, Hubert’s equally accomplished daughter Alix, who’s married to Jean-Marc Roulot, joined as the winemaker for the white wines, which have almost become the equal of the reds. Etienne, also a lawyer, has also carved out some new high quality parcels, which have ben added to their impressive collection of mainly Premier Cru vineyard plots, which now includes two Grand Crus, Corton and Clos Vougeot to go with all those exceptional Premiers. Over the years, I have enjoyed many of these wines and I have developed a personal taste for a few of them in particular and this Les Grèves Beaune 1er Cru is one of my favorites, along with the Volnay, 1er Cru, Les Mitans, the Pommard, 1er Cru, Les Pézerolles, the Beaune, 1er Cru, Les Sizies, which is one of the best values in the lineup, and the Cote de Nuits grown Nuits St Georges bottlings. The winery now has 20 hectares of land in 20 appellations, impressively Etienne and Alix have 75% in Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyard sites. I hope to see this beauty again in a dozen or so years time, it should reward the patient and savvy Burgundy fans.
($125 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive