A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a little about Italian wine royalty and the house of Antinori. Today I wanted to take a peek at one of the revered estates of Burgundy and a family that traces its roots in the region back to the 1760’s. More than five generations later, the estate was purchased by François Lamarche, and since 1986 we have seen vintage after vintage of remarkable wines. François passed in 2013, and the property is now in the talented hands of his daughter Nicole and niece Nathalie. Located in the village of Vosne-Romanée, Lamarche maintains a handsome holding of 22 acres of vineyards. This is a remarkable amount of land when you consider the how properties and plots have been divided over the years, especially in vineyards as acclaimed as those in Vosne. Below are two ways to introduce yourself to both the simplicity and the majesty of Domaine Lamarche.
When many people think of the first wine or introductory wine of a property, they usually do not expect something this good. To start, the average age of the vine is 30 years old. Most properties I know around the world would be using vines aged 5-10 years in their first wines, not ones of this maturity. Cool and expressive fruit splashes across the palate and the mid-weight structure is both attractive and welcoming. This is the perfect wine to take out with friends while indulging in some meats and cheeses. Drink now until 2020.
La Grande Rue is a 4-acre monopole owned by the Lamarche family—it’s an almost unheard of amount of property, especially when you consider that it abuts the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard. This wine is among the elite Pinot Noirs in the world, and it manages to display opulence and elegance, structure and seduction. To drink it now would only offer you the tiniest glimpse into the magic, but wait at least five years and you’ll have a memory making wine on your hands. Drink 2017 to 2030.
Bruno Giacosa is a magician. A man who is not an oenologist (which surprises most people), Giacosa became one of Piedmont’s most renowned and respected winemakers, and he learned by working with his father and grandfather. Early on, Giacosa became fascinated by what could be created from grapes, and taught by his forebears, he thinks thinks that wines were better in the past (and so does my grandfather), when there was less sophistication both vineyard treatment and wine production, and when people did things with more care in the past and less handling. I admire Giacosa’s philosophy and I love all his wines, starting by the exceptional and world famous Baroli he crafts. However, the wine I want to talk about is his fantastic Bruno Giacosa 2014 Roero Arneis.
Arneis is indigenous to Piemonte, and while this white grape long played a part in the region’s wine culture, it had slowly dwindled to the brink extinction by the 1960s. Wine made from Arneis, also called Nebbiolo Bianco, makes a delicious, complex Piemontese white wine and it offers a great alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. The best region for Arneis is Roero, a sandy-soiled area in the Langhe hills. Roero Arneis got its DOC status in 1989 (little known fact: there’s also a red Roero Arneis, but you hardly ever see it).
Bruno Giacosa 2014 Roero Arneis is quite aromatic: white peaches, stone fruit, and citrus all appear on the nose. On the palate, an unexpected and quite distinct note of saffron comes out, and precise, well-balanced acidity that’s tempered with a creamy mouth-feel and piquant minerality complete the experience. Deriving from vineyards in Vezza d’Alba, Monteu Roero, Santo Stefano Roero, Canale, and Montà d’Alba, this Roero is crafted entirely in stainless steel, which is why it’s so fresh. Dry and crisp, this Giacosa Arneis can accompany a wide range of foods, from vitello to cheese, calamari or shellfish, salads to roast chicken. This great white moves elegantly from “aperitivi” to entrees, and priced at less than $30, this serious value white definitely deserves a place on your table!
Today I’m focusing on two outstanding red Burgundies sourced from the storied hill of Corton and produced by a longtime favorite estate, Domaine François Gay. A relatively small estate, François Gay produces around 3,400 cases per year, and most of the wine goes to restaurants and loyal customers within France. However, a small amount is allocated for export and IWM is lucky enough to be one of the very few retailers in the States who can offer these wines vintage after vintage. In terms of quality-to-price ratio, Burgundy doesn’t get much better than this! I’ve chosen two Corton wines for today, but the estate also produces some outstanding Savigny-les-Beaune, Chorey-les-Beaune and Ladoix, both village-level and premier cru. Burgheads who love perfectly balanced, transparent wines of great depth and aromatic complexity need look no further than Domaine François Gay!
This beautiful 2010 Aloxe-Corton is entering its drinking window and will continue to thrill Burgheads for years to come. A structured, aromatic Pinot, Gay’s ‘10 Aloxe-Corton offers pretty aromas of red and blue fruit, crushed stone, wildflowers and soft spice, and it’s a perfect complement for hearty winter meals. It achieves the elusive goal of providing both power and finesse, tannins and fruit, and acid and structure, and it will not disappoint. In the realm of sub-$60 red Burgundies, you’d be hard pressed to find a wine that’s more representative of its appellation. Drink up!
The 2012 François Gay Corton-Renardes is downright impressive, though it will certainly benefit from a few more years in the cellar. Still quite a young wine, it shows gorgeous notes of dark cherry and berry fruit, saline minerals and a savory umami note that defies definition. The estate’s flagship wine, it represents the pinnacle of Gay’s achievement and it’s a fitting testament to the wonderful work this estate has been doing of late. This is a wine to buy by the case and watch as it grows more beautiful by the week.
Valentine’s Day is this week, and here the truth: Valentines Day is, was, and always will be a completely fictitious holiday. It is so grounded in fantasy that it makes the Easter bunny look real. The name, Valentine’s Day, supposedly comes from a Catholic saint, but he never existed. Finding St. Valentine is kind of like playing “What’s My Line” with three obscure saints, all called Valentine, all martyred at some point during the third century A.D., none of whom had anything to do with romantic love.
This holiday of love has its origins when in 426 the Catholic Church wanted to tame the savage beast of Lupercalia, a Roman holiday of love wherein would-be lovers engaged in a precursor to the ’70s swingers key parties and picked their partner’s name out of an urn, or merely celebrate as naked young men ran through the streets swatting women with leather thongs, depending upon your interpretation and time period. In the mid-fourteenth century, Valentine’s Day moved from the 15th of February to the 14th, the day when France and England celebrated the pairing of birds for mating season.
However, it wasn’t until 1847 when Esther A. Howland, the heir to a greeting card fortune, put those commercial wheels in motion and made the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day card that the Valentine’s Day we now know and love (and by love I mean love/hate/love) began.
The cynics among us may want to relish this tidbit, the Greeting Card Association has an “Esther A. Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary” honoring those people who can find a new way to make us buy highly colored, usually sentimental paper products. It should be noted that 85% of the Valentine’s Day cards purchased are bought by women. This is something that doesn’t make me particularly proud of my gender.
The sales of Valentine’s Day cards run second only to sales of Christmas Cards, but Halloween cards are taking a strong upsurge, symbolizing to the most cynical of us that Valentine’s Day, like mummies, vampires, and other ghouls, always returns. No matter how much or how often we try to kill it. We might as well give in and embrace the monster, I suppose.
I am of the sort who, almost by default but certainly by nature believes that Valentine’s Day is, aside from the delightful blank check to eat as much chocolate as you like, kind of beside the point. We should, if we’re lucky enough to find it, celebrate love daily and in our own ways.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with opening a lovely bottle of Amarone, Champagne or romantic Super Tuscan and sharing it with a friend on Valentine’s Day. Or just having a glass yourself. After all, as Oscar Wilde wisely said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Cheers to that.
Italian wine fans are rejoicing over the recent release of Brunello Riservas from the spectacular 2010 vintage, and with good reason! The 2010 vintage is a new benchmark for Montalcino’s iconic wine; the year produced reds with wonderful intensity, structure, and energy—utterly spellbinding these wines will leave you breathless. There’s only downside: you need patience for these sleeping beauties to awaken.
Today I present two Riserva wines that will keep you very happy and quench your Brunello desire while you wait for the 2010s to come around. In any vintage, Brunello Riserva wines are a tribute to the greatness of the vintage as well as the masterful work done in the cellar for each individual winemaker. They represent the pinnacle of the vintage and are always high in demand upon release! The wines I have selected to highlight today offer two different vintages, one classic and the other a challenge.
Capanna 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1.5L – $189.99
Established in the 1950’s, Cappana is a producer that is slightly under the radar, but it offers exceptional quality and value. The family is true to their roots in keeping the wines traditionally styled while adding some modern technology to enhance qualities we love about a good Brunello. This ’07 Brunello Riserva will surprise you with its ability to drink well above its price point. Brambly berries meld with earth, smoke and other brooding notes in this wine from the benchmark vintage of 2007, a year that balances ripeness with structure.
Gianfranco Soldera is on a level all his own and is one of the legendary producers in Montalcino, consistently creating magical wines in both good and challenging years. This 1991 is a testament to Soldera’s passion, tenacity and pursuit of excellence. Majestic, rich, and complex, the 1991 offers notes of earth, leather, game, smoke and spice that mingle with the dried red and black fruits. Now with more than two decades of maturity, this wine has added nuanced layers and shed some of its youthful tannins. It’s bewitching!
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