The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Domaine Trapet and Bonneau du Martray

Posted on | December 16, 2014 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

rkoWith holdings in three superb Grand Cru vineyards, Domaine Trapet Père et Fils has been one of the great Gevrey-Chambertin estates for over the last fifty years. By the late 1920s Trapet was the largest vineyard owner in Chambertin with large parcels in Chapelle-Chambertin and Latricières-Chambertin in their possession, and until the 1960s, Trapet was a top red Burgundy grower for négociants houses like Maison Joseph Drouhin and Maison Leroy. In the ‘60s Trapet began bottling significant portions of its production under its own label, becoming one of the first small producers to lead the charge in domaine bottling. For much of its existence, the domaine was known as Domaine Louis Trapet, but in 1993, the estate’s holdings were split in half and Domaine Louis Trapet was renamed Domaine Trapet Père et Fils. In 1998 the decision was made to enact biodynamic farming principles and in 2009 it became 100% certified biodynamic.

Domaine Bonneau du Martray, owned and managed by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière, is the largest single proprietor of vines within the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard, and it owns the largest area of a single Grand Cru in Burgundy. Bonneau du Martray vineyards have been family owned for almost two centuries, and Bonneau du Martray vineyard is located in the village of Pernand-Vergelesses on the hill of Corton. This incredible estate, large for Burgundy standards, has 25 continuous vineyard acres, producing some of the finest white wines in all of Burgundy. Jean-Charles, who also is royally entitled Count de La Morinière, inherited the property from his father in 1984 and employs a strong biodynamic philosophy in his viticulture management. Bonneau du Martray is the only estate in Burgundy to wholly produce wines from Grand Cru vineyards.

Domaine Trapet Gevrey Chambertin 2012 $79.99

Showing a beautiful bright ruby color with a pure nose of dark cherries, smokiness, earth notes, fresh herbs and vanilla oak scents, this ’12 Gevrey Chambertin offers a concentrated, full-bodied palate with loads of red fruit flavors, moderate tannins, and a long balanced finish. The Domaine Trapet Gevrey Chambertin 2012 blends grapes from the Gevrey vineyard sites of Deree, Champerrier, Petite Jouise and Clos de Combe, all composed of clay and limestone with a southeast exposure. After handpicking the grapes, the wine is aged in a relatively high portion of new French barriques, and Trapet crafted about 2,500 cases in 2012.This is a great steal from a top producer, and this wine easily has another 25 years of life ahead of it.

Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 $209.00

This is must-have wine for those who love great white Burgundy. The recently released Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 is a work of art, typifying why Corton-Charlemagne has the reputation for being the pinnacle of Chardonnay. Bonneau du Martray’s ‘12 Corton-Charleagne is powerful, complex and concentrated. It has amazingly deep aromas that beg for quiet cellaring to fully develop. On the palate it is rich, elegant, intense, full bodied and full of class. The wine is made in a very traditional method: soft pressing, barrel fermentation in new oak and appropriate aging. This ’12 Corton-Charlemagne is a wine that requires a little patience; cellar aging will surely reward the drinker, and typically Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne enters its best drinking window at ten years from date of harvest and will age gracefully for 25, 30, even 40 years.

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Snowy Days and Winter Whites

Posted on | December 15, 2014 | Written by Janice Cable | No Comments

gravnerLike Olivia Pope, I do not stow my whites as winter comes. I may enjoy curling up on the couch with a glass of Brunello and a plate of cinghiale salami, but I have a hard time letting go of white wines. Winter, however, calls for a heftier white than what I’ll pour on a hot summer night. This is when skin-contact wines, or orange wines, make their entrance.

Stay with me here. “Skin contact” even sounds warm, and “orange” conjure the toasty glow of a fire. Orange wine is a style that I’m very fond of for myriad reasons. These wines sit in an unusual position; they come about when winemakers treat white wine grapes with the same kind of protocol that they treat red wine grapes. In this, they’re the inverse of rosé wines, which treat red grapes like white.

It’s not merely the weirdness of so-called orange wines that draws me to them, however. Weirdness is a factor; I’m drawn to the unusual and strange and the unconventional. It’s also that orange wines confound expectations. Everything about drinking a white wine tells you to expect a certain prescriptive set of sensations and flavors—even leaving room for a range of producer styles, grape varieties, vintage variations and regional differences.

Orange wines confound those expectations. There’s white wine freshness and red wine tannins. There’s white wine fruit—citrus, tropical, white-flesh or otherwise—and there’s red wine thrumming of earth, underbrush and wildness. There’s white wine scent and red wine weight. And on top of all of that sensory confusion, there are aspects that only orange wines have, a strange oxidative, sometimes caramelly, often funky-dirty-woodsy quality.

My very favorite skin-contact wines come from Josko Gravner. His Ribolla Anfora and Anfora Breg drink like liquid kaleidoscopes, shifting at every turn to reveal unexpected nuances of spice, of wood, of wildflowers, of seawater, or of ripe fruit. I’m also deeply fond of Radikon, who makes wines that hang in the mouth with a velvety heaviness. I’ve long been a fan of Paolo Bea and Giampiero Bea’s project Monestero Suore, and both of these Umbrian producers do great work with orange wines. And I’m very excited to try the Loire Valley’s Nicolas Joly, whose super-natural Chenin Blancs approach the holy grail standard: whites that drink like reds. All these wines show best when they’re decanted, just below room temperature, and served with food—qualities that make them perform very much like red wines.

And like red wines, these skin-contact wines warm you from the inside, help conversation sparkle, and make you linger before leaving to go into the cold.

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Expert Picks: Lucien le Moine and…Lucien Le Moine!

Posted on | December 15, 2014 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiLucien le Moine is a fairly young Burgundy estate. Its inaugural vintage as recent as 1999, Lucien le Moine is indeed one of the “New Kids on the Block.” That being said, in no way does this newness reflect on the quality of the wines. You see, as opposed to being a domaine that grows its own vines, Lucien is a maison that purchases grapes from established vineyard sites. You might even call it a “micro-negociant.” Lucien hand-selects grapes that come only from trusted partners and 1er Cru or Grand Cru vineyard sites. While many wine-lovers will look down their nose at maisons, this estate proves that you’d be wrong to take this approach with Lucien le Moine. I’ve chosen two examples at very different ends of the price spectrum, but both are phenomenal and among the best of their ilk.

Lucien le Moine Bourgogne Rouge 2008 $43.99

All of Lucien le Moine’s fruit is selected from 1er Cru and Grand Cru vineyards, and that ultimately includes the grapes that end up in this little cuvée here. This strict selection is likely one of the reasons that six years after vintage this wine is still drinking like a champ. Drink now and for 3-4 years.

Lucien le Moine Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Amoureuses 2008 $229.99

Chambolle is often described stylistically as the “iron fist in the velvet glove.” The ’08 Lucien le Moine Amoureuses delivers on the succinct description with ripe berries and spice that begin on the nose and spread across the palate for what seems like minutes. By this time the oak from the barrels has blown off, what remains is nothing short of ethereal. Drink 2015-2025.

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Inside IWM, December 8-11, 2014: Wines that Gleam, Shine and Sparkle

Posted on | December 12, 2014 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

IMG_20140926_120556The holidays fast approach, and we’re in a festive mood. On Tuesday, Crystal gave a shout out to sparkling wines in general and to Franciacorta, Italy’s answer to Champagne, in specific. She writes about a lovely artisanal bottle from Barone Pizzini. On Wednesday, Francesco gave us a crash course in Champagne, with his basic approach: Champagne 101. And on Thursday, Camacho Vidal transported us to Cinque Terre, where he wrote of wines that gleam with the full beauty of the sea.

Our Experts are feeling the glimmer of the holidays too. Will Di Nunzio picked a pair of telling Italian wines, one from Raffaele Palma on the Amalfi Coast and Aldo Conterno’s collector classic Barolo Granbussia Riserva. Francesco was motivated by his love of Italian terroir to select two value beauties, Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico and Graci Etna Rosso. David Gwo loves Valdicava with a single-minded passion, opting for a Rosso and a Brunello di Montalcino from this extraordinary producer. And Robin Kelley O’Connor couldn’t deny the shine of white Burgundy, selecting two iconic bottles.

Here’s hoping your holiday season is in full swing, with everything shiny and bright!

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Exploring Cinque Terre and Drinking Its Wines!

Posted on | December 11, 2014 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

IMG_20140926_120806This past autumn, my girlfriend and I visited Cinque Terre. I had heard so much about the five villages that make up Cinque Terre; it’s one thing to see pictures and read about it, but it’s a true sight to see with your own eyes. The villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are perched high atop the rocky Mediterranean coastline and together they abut part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

DSCN6396We stayed in Manarola, the smallest of the villages. Cinque Terre’s villages are connected by paths, trains and ferryboats, which are great for moving from village to village and exploring the region. We woke early and decided we would take a ferry and visit the other villages and return by train. I was amazed not only at the beauty of the Mediterranean landscape but the way the vineyards were terraced on these steep cliffs. This is what gives these wines such a distinct terroir.

IMG_20140925_212053I love seafood and was excited to taste the local wine and see how it would pair with the local dishes. Each village is known for something special—for example the anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union. The wines of Cinque Terre are mostly white wines made from Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino. Most wines are produced by the local cooperative group, Agricoltura di Cinque Terre, with vineyards located along the steep slopes. These wines have a long, illustrious history that stretches back to Roman times.

Cinque Terre’s wines tend to be dry, showing a straw yellow color, and perfumed with a delicate aroma. The wines we tasted were full of ocean notes and citrus fruit with a delicate but hardy mouth-feel. They had an intense and persistent nose of Mediterranean vegetation and subtle hints of citrus and flowers. The mouth feel was rich, soft and full-bodied—easy and delicious, these wines were a joy to drink.

IMG_20140926_120556Needless to say the food was spectacular. The freshness of the fish and the briny notes of the shellfish matched perfectly with each wine creating perfect balance and harmony. It was nice to have some refreshing coastal wines before heading off the hills of Piemonte for some Barolo, but you’ll have to wait for a report on this region!

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