The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: William Fèvre and…William Fèvre!

Two expert selections from Crystal Edgar

Crystal 2014We are all very excited here to welcome the 2014 whites from William Fèvre! Tis the season to bring out the crisp whites and I have some great bottles here for any wine lover. This is serious Chablis with fine pedigree, William Fèvre is recognized as one of the best producers in all of Chablis, sitting in the same league as Raveneau and Dauvissat and offering a range of distinguished premier and grand cru bottlings. Fèvre works forty acres of grand cru vineyards and another thirty acres of premier cru, all of which deserve attention. All fruit is harvested by hand and great caution is taken to ensure that the wines are precise, textured and mineral-driven with great structure and racy acidity. Fèvre works every vintage to find just the right balance between richness and minerality, and as these 2014 wines illustrate, Fèvre hit the bulls-eye!

Fèvre crafts some of the most exciting whites we receive each year, and if you have been keeping up with our offers for Burgundy’s 2014 vintage, this vintage is beyond exciting. Here are a few premier cru offerings that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys great white wine. These satisfy serious thirst while going easy on the pocketbook.

William Fèvre 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains $54.99

This vibrant white offers loads of citrus, green peach and minerals with hints of almond and chalk on the finish. Saline minerals and citrusy acidity make this ’14 Chablis ideal to pour as an aperitif or with fresh or grilled oysters. Deriving from William Fèvre’s 4.3 acre parcel of Montmains, which faces southeast and sports emblematic Chablis soils rich in minerals and fossils, this wine vinifies in a combination of stainless steel oak barrels (30-50% used); the wine also ages for 10-15 months in a combination of in French oak barrels and stainless steel before bottling. Supple, structured and vibrant, this Chablis is very food friendly and nicely age-worthy.

William Fèvre 2014 Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent $81.99

This premier cru is consistently one of my favorite as it adds lovely white floral notes on the notes and palate with added stone fruit character. Slightly more complex and concentrated than the Montmains this can stand up to a range of fresh and grilled seafood, poultry, goat cheese, prosciutto and other salted finger foods. Deriving from a fine eight-acre parcel of Fourchaume 1er Cru that directly abuts the grand cru Les Preuses, Vaulorent is considered the “baby grand cru” at Fèvre, and it consistently outperforms grand crus that cost many times as much.

Expert Picks: William Fèvre and Christian Moreau

Two expert selections from Michael Adler

Michael Adler 5.29.15Thanks to the likes of E&J Gallo and Carlo Rossi, Americans historically understood Chablis almost exclusively as cheap mass-produced jug wine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chablis is one of my favorite appellations for white Burgundy because of its zippy crispness, ultra-refreshing acidity, and beguiling mineral-driven complexity in the glass. And in addition to being incredibly food-friendly, it’s also often an incredible value, in part because of the way Chablis was historically marketed in the States. For those of you who enjoy a cleaner style of Chardonnay that’s less influenced by oak and more focused on minerality and bright citrus notes, I urge you to revisit Chablis and fall in love as I have.

When we talk about the absolute best that Chablis has to offer, there’s a small handful of elite estates that come to mind: Raveneau, Dauvissat, Christian Moreau and William Fevre. Today I want to focus on the latter two of these four powerhouse winemakers, Domaine Christian Moreau and Domaine William Fevre. Domaine Christian Moreau, is one of my top three producers of white wines in all of Burgundy, and that’s not an exaggeration. Moreau’s wines are so delicate yet powerful, so mind-bendingly complex and delicious, and they impress me greatly year in and year out for their precise and artful representations of both site and grape. The wines of Domaine Fevre are renowned for their laser-precise flavors, zippy acidity and immaculate detail. Classic in every way, Fevre uses oak judiciously and only in its top wines, and each and every Fevre bottling is a textbook example of its respective terroir.

William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2013 (375 ml) $29.99

Fevre’s 2013’s are stunning from top to bottom, and considering how tricky the 2013 vintage was, the estate’s wines are even more impressive. Winemaker Didier Séguier feels that the 2013’s will provide incredible pleasure to both the purists as well as those looking for a little more approachability. The 2013 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains that I’m featuring today in 375ml half bottles is the perfect pour for a quiet weeknight when you want to enjoy a great glass of wine but don’t quite need a full bottle, and the price is just as tantalizing and approachable as the juice itself! Bright citrus and tart green apple fruits leap from the glass, supported by zesty minerals, a hint of salinity and bountiful mouth-watering acidity.

Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2013 $109.99

Deriving from a walled vineyard plot at the bottom of the hill, closes to the village of Chablis, Christian Moreau’s Chablis 2013 Les Clos is a powerful, muscular Chardonnay that will benefit immensely from another 5+ years in the cellar. Les Clos is one of the only two wines Moreau produces that sees time in oak, but this is not an oaky wine in any way – the wood is there only to provide additional structure, depth and complexity, and plays only a very minor role in the wine’s flavor profile. This is an insanely complex and delicious Chardonnay and one that easily holds its weight against the great masters in Puligny, Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne. The domaine is currently transitioning between generations of the Moreau family, with father Christian passing the torch to his son Fabien, who has already demonstrated his unique talent and ability to make some of the world’s very best Chardonnay in Chablis.

Expert Picks: Latour-Giraud and Jean-Philippe Fichet

Two expert selections from Garrett Kowalsky

Garrett_8.6.14_72dpiI will always make the argument that nowhere in the world makes white wine quite as well as Burgundy does. However, even Burgheads cannot simply say that they love white Burgundy. That is because in the whole region—which is just 35 miles north to south and 1.5 miles wide—there are multiple microclimates, a range of different terroir, and ultimately wildly varying wines. The three most prominent villages for white Burgundy are Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault. Today I wanted to show off two superb selections from the latter. Meursault shows off the best of the region by marrying its round flavors and rich textures with a lively acidity that makes your mouth water. These two bottles from Latour-Giraud and Jean-Philippe Fichet are recent favorites.

Domaine Latour-Giraud 2013 Meursault Genevrières 1er Cru $99.99

Latour-Giraud is an estate that went through a dramatic revival in the 1990s, all thanks to Jean-Pierre Latour (the current owner and winemaker). While it has holdings elsewhere, the majority of Latour-Giraud’s vines are located within five appellations in Meursault, Genevrières being one of them. Genevrières is revered as one of the finest vineyards in the whole Côte d’Or, and this 2013 bottle reinforces that reverence with its exquisite structure that’s balanced with finesse and a racy acidity. Drink now-2025

Jean-Philippe Fichet 2013 Meursault Gruyaches $102.99

Domaine Jean-Phillipe Fichet has made it a personal mission to reveal Meursault as one of the best, if not the best in the world for white wine. Fichet holds vineyards in other villages, bit its Meursault properties are that the estate’s focus. These tiny holding can make as little as four barrels of wine in any given vintage, but the estate wishes to focus on the purity of expression from the site rather than blending. This Meursault Gruyaches is pure dynamite. Drink now-2025.

Pairing Wines with Springtime’s Bounty

How to get creative with ramps, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus and more

Fiddlehead ferns, one of spring's most evanescent pleasures

Fiddlehead ferns, one of spring’s most evanescent pleasures

Spring and summer usher in a new batch of colorful vegetables, some of which throw a curveball when it comes to pairing them with wine. Now is the time to flex your creative muscles! It’s notoriously challenging to find proper wine matches for artichokes and asparagus; however, roasted root vegetables, stewed beans and earthy mushroom dishes lend themselves quite well to wine. From my experience, when in doubt pull out the bubbles, orange wine, sake or sherry.

I’m taking myself back to my days in culinary school, to offer these basic principles for creating great pairings:

Powerful flavors in food and richness call for powerful wines. Lighter food flavors require lighter wines. Spicy, salty, or smoky flavors in food welcome lighter, fruity reds, and off-dry to semi-sweet whites. You can pair food with wine by creating complementary pairings, where the food tastes like the wine (tomatoes with fresh herbs, olive oil, and olives paired with fresh, bright herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc). Or you can go the opposite direction with contrasting pairing where the food and the wine have opposite flavors and textures (for example, roasted asparagus with hollandaise paired with a vibrant sparkling wine).

Another consideration is how the dish is cooked. Roasting and caramelizing brings out the richer, sweeter flavors in vegetables. Steaming or sautéing can keep the flavors light and bright. Braising will bring out some of the deeper, more brooding and complex aspects of a vegetable or legume. Other components in a dish, from fresh herbs to spices, can also affect what you might pair with your vegetable of choice, so consider options at both ends of the light white to dark red wine spectrum.

Ok time to jump right in! Here are some tricky veggies with wine pairings that will almost always work together:

Artichokes: Artichokes are challenging because they contain a chemical acid called ‘cynarin’, which makes everything taste sweeter — especially the wine. To counter this I recommend serving a dry Fino sherry, smooth Soave from Italy, or a vibrant Txakoli from Spain.

Asparagus: A rustic vegetable that contains compounds like asparagusic acid, which, in case you were wondering, is an organosulfur carboxylic acid. Go for something citrusy, herbal and unoaked. For instance, you might choose a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé from France’s Loire Valley; Grüner Veltliner from Austria; Alsace Riesling; Italian Sauvignon Blanc; or even unoaked Chardonnay, especially from a cooler region like Oregon’s Willamette Valley or Chablis from France.

Avocados: They are rich and sexy, and they work beautifully with voluptuously herbaceous, grassy and fruity whites, such as Torrontes from Argentina, Chardonnay from France or Italy, Albarino from Spain, or Moschofilero from Greece.

Mushrooms: Sure, there are a number of pairings here, but as far as a standouts go, you only need to remember two words and one wine: Pinot Noir. The earthy mushrooms and the fruit of the Pinot make for the “divine” contrast.

Nettles and Fiddlehead Ferns: These are some of the most highly sought after spring vegetables! These special veggies pair well with a soft, slightly fruity white like Pinot Gris from Oregon, Viognier from southern France, or Pinot Blanc from northern Italy.

Ramps: Make sure to avoid wines with a lot of oak/vanilla notes and wines that are super floral. You want a bright wine with green apple acidity and a hint of grassiness, arugula, or pepper to go with the bright, green, funk flavors in ramps. My picks are Friulano or Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Italy.

Olives: Because of the saltiness and briny flavors, Sake, Fino or Manzanilla Sherry, dry rosé from France, Italy or Spain and/or bubbles are the way to go.

The enjoyment of thoughtful wine and food pairing comes into play when you have special fresh market products on hand whose virtues you want to showcase and savor. That is the essence of the garden cook’s mission—to capture flavor at its peak. Why stop short of the beverage? By its very nature, no other liquid flatters the earth’s bounty better than vino, so cheers!

Expert Picks: Antinori and Querciabella

Two expert selections from John Camacho Vidal

CamachoLately I have been focusing on Super Tuscans, those Tuscan wines that don’t conform to DOCG laws. When we talk about Super Tuscan wines, we’re usually referring normally refer to red wines that producers often make with international varietals using modern forms of vinification to create a more international style. Super Tuscans tend to be big red wines, but we often forget that Super-Tuscan producers also make great white wines. I want to present two white Tuscan wines that are primarily Chardonnay-based. Chardonnay traces its origins to the Burgundy region of France; however the grape also thrives in Italy and expresses the place of origin with noticeable characteristics and its own personality. These two bottles come from great Super-Tuscan producers, Querciabella, a biodynamic estate, and Antinori, an ancient winemaking family; they’re terrific introductions to white grape Super Tuscans (although technically the Castello della Sala is a Super-Umbrian wine).

Castello della Sala 2013 Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay $54.99

Cervaro della Sala is the flagship wine of Antinori’s Umbrian Castello della Sala estate, so you know it’s special. A blend of Chardonnay and Grechetto, an indigenous grape of Italy, the wine is fermented and aged in barriques and then matures in the bottles for ten months in the medieval cellars of the Castle. It shines a pretty yellow color and bursts with a nose full of citrus notes and sage. The palate is sharp and crisp with nice acidity balanced with stone minerality; the finish is round with traces of vanilla and a slight buttery note that lingers. Drink now to 2020.

Querciabella 2006 Batàr $89.99

An homage to white Burgundy, Querciabella’s Batàr is owner Guiseppe Castiglioni’s interpretation of Bâtard-Montrachet with an Italian twist.A blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Blanc, Batàr is very distinctive—and delicious. This full-bodied, elegant wine wafts with peaches, apples and hints of honeydew melon, followed by minerals and white flowers, all leading to slight hints of vanilla from the oak. The palate is full and clean with a nice, tart, tangy acidity that mellows out and finishes perfectly balanced. Drink now to 2020.

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