All my wine blogs, All wine reviews, Burgundy, Chardonnay, France, Uncategorized, White wines

Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse 2011

Years back, Louis Latour’s wines were my very first introduction to the Burgundy region. No, I am not talking about the so-called-Burgundy jug wines  (I still don’t understand how such a prominent wine region allows using its name in California), but the real stuff. The real, extraordinary Chardonnay that grows in French Burgundy.Latour Pouilly Fuisse21

I was lucky to be introduced to this region by one of the best producers in Burgundy. Starting from “low end” but superb Chardonnay Ardèche or Grand Ardèche, from Corton hillside to the Mâconnais, this tasting included Pouilly Fuisse as well as their most special Grand Crus.

Never before in my life, had I a chance to taste Pouligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, or wines of Marsault, all Premier Crus, side by side. This tasting forever engraved the taste of superb Burgundy wines in me.

It was a privilege to represent wines of Louis Latour’s family at the company, I worked for. Latour remained a family owned business since 1797 (they are a member of the Henokiens Society, which unites independent firms with an age of at least 200 years). The most recent, the seventh Louis Latour,  manages a domaine of 50 hectares of Grand and Premier Crus.

Pretty soon I realized that although these wines were exceptional, they were almost unsaleable on the mainstream market. I certainly didn’t have customers for the high end Crus (they are quite pricey) but it was hard to sell even the most inexpensive of the portfolio. Could it be that retailers couldn’t even pronounce the names correctly? That certainly stopped me from showing it a lot, because I didn’t want to look like a fool, selling something I can’t even pronounce right. Although everybody appreciated the taste, regular retailers rather grabbed another Californian Chardonnay. After all, the Chardonnay variety  is the most selling wine in the United States. wine-retailers

And how about the mainstream wine drinker? Coming to the store, looking for something new to try – unless you had a great wine guy in the store, nobody would even put these wines in the consumers hands. It didn’t say Chardonnay on its label. Yet, I had a handful of clients who were not afraid to do some extra work, and took these wines in their wine stores.  They didn’t mind to introduce them to their wine customers. And they sold! Because they are so extraordinary.

Louis Latour Chardonnay Ardèche or Grand Ardèche sold around $10 a bottle. Yet it tasted as Chardonnays twice or more the price of Californian wines. Actually, there is no comparison. Burgundy is such a unique region. It could serve as a teaching tool for someone who is still rolling eyes when wine geeks start to talk about regions and terroirs. For those who believe that Chardonnay is Chardonnay and that’s the end of story -it just taste the same.

No, it doesn’t. Although not many regular wine drinkers would get the chance to taste these wines, as I did, side by side, incl. the most prominent Crus, I wish every Chardonnay lover had the chance. It was an eye opening experience for me. I never looked at Chardonnay the same since. Even the few kilometers between the small vineyards made a huge difference in the soil, sun exposure – and therefore the wine tasted completely different. It was fascinating.

As I said at the beginning, it has been a few years back. And, I don’t sell wine for living anymore (regrettably). Yet, wIMG_3263hen I recently noticed Louis Latour Pouilly Fuisse in the store, and it was reasonably priced, it brought back the memories of that day, of that tasting. Of course I grabbed the bottle. In sunny Florida, I am always in the mood for some crisp white wine.

We had opened it the other night, when I prepared just simple asparagus fritata and some salad for dinner.  It was one of those lovely evenings, sitting outside, feeling the gentle breeze in our hair, surrounded by palm trees, slowly moving in the wind. I sniffed the familiar aroma and took the first sip.

Boy, that wine was superb!!! The delicate citrus flavors, clean and fresh, covered my entire mouth, every taste bud was awoken.  My husband (which until recently hated dry wines) was charmed the same way. The great crisp acidity of Pouilly Fuisse made my mouth watering for more, as soon as I swallowed, and was left with a long, impressive finish. It was a perfect match for that dinner, and most importantly, for that warm evening.

IMG_3259CWe usually have a glass of wine with a dinner and finish the bottle the next day. Not this time. I can’t stop drinking it. “I am finishing this one,” I proclaimed decisively and pour myself a generous second glass.

My father used to joke: “you don’t pour your own glass, let someone else pour it for you, so you don’t look like an alcoholic.”

Oh well, I missed that one. Love you, dad!

All my wine blogs, Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais-Villages

The fuss about Beaujolais Nouveau

The fuss about Beaujolais Nouveau

I believe that there isn’t other wine, causing as much fuss and as many contradictory comments, as Beaujolais Nouveau does. This “Thanksgiving wine”, as we call it in America, is being released within a few hours from now.

The French law and tradition determines that the Beaujolais Nouveau is released exactly one minute past midnight, on the third Wednesday of November, every single year.

No wine consumer in the world can taste it prior this time.While nouveau’s fans are counting hours to get the chance to try the newest wine, other wine drinkers are snubbing their noses at the idea.

For some it is the ultimate Thanksgiving wine that can’t be missed on the holiday table, for some it is not wine at all. So what exactly is Beaujolais Nouveau and should we pay attention? It’s the moment of the surprise that makes this young, soft, light and fruity wine from Gammay grape so interesting. You have to know what it is, not to expect the impossible.

Beaujolais Nouveau is never going to be a big, tannin red. When it’s really good, it might remind you of a fruity, light Pinot Noir. If you only drink your favorite Shiraz and hate wines that don’t taste like that, ignore nouveau. It’s not going to work for you.

No matter when the harvest occurs (not even French can command the nature), the release date is set in stone. Therefore nouveau is often made in hurry and could only have a few days fermenting. Every year is different, based on the harvest season – and so is the time that the winemaker has to work with the wine in the winery. Nouveau doesn’t spend any time in oak so what you grew is what you get. Unfortunately, that time pressure might sometimes result in sharp, too alcoholic wine without balance.

You should also know that nouveau doesn’t keep long. It is a young wine meant to be drank within a couple of months of its release. Winemakers from Beaujolais are promising a good quality this year. Nouveau is supposed to have a beautiful purple color, hints of wild strawberries, raspberries and currant, they are talking about great balance and perfectly integrated tannins.

We wouldn’t know until tomorrow, which is the first day we can buy some in States. Yes, the wine does fly overnight from France and it’s being delivered everywhere tomorrow.

If you are considering trying Beaujolais Nouveau for the first time, look for the one that says Beaujolais-Villages. It ‘s coming from the better half of large region of Beaujolais, and it’s often much tastier than plain Beaujolais.

As far as the brand name to look for, I would say that nobody knows fine Beaujolais wines better than George Duboeuf. He is easily recognized with his traditional floral labels.

I like what George Duboeuf once said about his designs: “Flowers and wines are fleeting in nature. They want to please visual and olfactory senses: they have the same annual cycle and the same allegiance to soils and sun. Flowers, like wine, are messengers of joy and happiness. But wildflowers are the work of nature alone while wine is the fruit of human labor.”

Some old-timers in Beaujolais still remember tough times during early fifties, when poor winemakers kept cows, chickens and pigs because they couldn’t depend on the wine only. Even worse, they were exploited by a class of absentee wine merchants – les négociants – located in big cities, who bought, bottled and sold their production in anonymous bulk.

Their favorite strategy was to go to local butcher or baker and ask which vignerons families were farthest behind their bills – those would have the weakest bargaining position when it came to prices.

George Duboeuf hated it and believed that there must be a better way. He spent his youth riding bicycle around the hills and valleys between Lyon and Mâcon. He was sampling, tasting, re-tasting over and over again, the finest wines in the region, while also sharpening his own palate and nose and building a list of the best vineyards. His hard work made him a legend among wine tasters and today it is a privilege to sell wine in Beaujolais to George Duboeuf.

The fuss about Beaujolais NouveauI love his Cru Beaujolais – from villages like Fleurie, St-Amour, Juliénas, Chiroubles, Moulin-À-Vent, Brouilly. But that’s only a few of the best villages, where his Cru Beaujolais wines come from.

But don’t look for them now. French wine regulation requires that the Cru Beaujolais can’t be released before December 15th.

So what do you think about the Beaujolais Nouveau – to buy or not to buy? Make up your own mind. No, it is not the most gourmet wine and you wouldn’t find Beaujolais Nouveau on the wine list of fine French restaurants.

I think it is a nice tradition and I will try a bottle, just like I do every single year. On a good vintage, Beaujolais Nouveau could be in fact a good match to your Thanksgiving meal. Its light, fruity and soft enough profile will match well with the turkey and side dishes. I would recommend to taste a bottle first, before you put it in front of your guests.

Based on the “Le Parisien” news, there were total of 266.000 hectoliters of Beaujolais Nouveau sold last year (that’s about 39,5 millions bottles) – more than half of it in France. The rest was sold in 110 countries of the world. I was surprised to find out that the biggest fans of Beaujolais Nouveau are lately Japanese, who purchased 6 millions bottles. Far behind is America with 2,3 millions and Germany with 1,3 millions bottles.