The classics you say? Yes. Cremant, Burgundy, the Alsace? Bordeaux? Pinot noir? the Rhone?
While it's well known by now that we love and tout a lot of French natural wine, I think it's just as important that we seek out inspiration in some of the classics. The beauty of what's happening now in the wine world is that more and more of the 'naturalists' are making better and more precise wine. They've proved their point, often with flawed, delicious, spritzy 'Thirst Wines'...we love those and they have their place. But we also love true terroir, that sense of place everyone is talking about.
The exciting thing is to find producers and wines that are achieving both. They use natural methods, great farming, clean, natural wine making and the results are pure, deep and honest. While many things about them may still be on the fringe...such as appellation (AOC) laws or geographic location (they still don't own the Grand Cru vineyards) the wines are the next level.
Tonight we explore some of our favorite neo-classical French wines, from places and grapes you've heard of! They are perfect for the wine geek in your life but even grandmom will love them. Come check 'em out!
Tripoz, Cremant du Bourgogne, Macon $26
Cremant is great. It's also a bit of a secret weapon...bring two bottles of this instead of one bottle of Champagne and people will love you. While these guys are strict biodynamic believers their wines are precise and elegant. This is chardonnay grown on limestone from southern Burgundy, and it's great.
Christian Binner, Sauver, Alsace $20
You know about our long running gripes with the Alsace. Binner is different. They are both a historic family producer and one of the leading and only naturalists in the region. Their wines have backbone, freshness and a core of orchard fruit unlike so many in the region. This bottling is always in short supply, so stock up while you can.
Jean-Marie Berrux, Le Petite Tetu, Meursault, Burgundy $40
Jean-Marie owns .9 hectare of land. That land happens to be across the street from Le Montrachet grand cru vineyard. Now, I'm not claiming this is some magical $40 grand cru wine, but I do believe it is one of the best chardonnay's being made in Burgundy, certainly one of the most interesting. Don't underestimate the power of chardonnay.
Louis Chenu, Bourgogne, Savigny-les-Beaune, Burgundy $30
The Chenu sisters in Savigny really epitomize what we're talking about in this tasting tonight. Their wines are natural from the ground up but they are not carbonic Burgundies...they are updated classics. Beautiful pinot noir from an excellent vintage.
Chateau Le Thil, Cotes du Blaye, Bordeaux $18
Small estate, biodynamic, non-spoofy, affordable....words that generally don't describe Bordeaux. This is changing. These guys are part of that change. Their wine is great, classic yet expressive and enjoyable on a level most sub-$20 Bordeaux is certainly not. Classic blend of merlot, cabernet, cabernet france and malbec.
Eric Texier, Brezeme, Rhone $25
The vineyards of Brezeme were near abandoned when Eric Texier first overlooked them some 15 years ago Since then he has made it his personal goal to resurrect this tiny AOC on the cusp of the northern and southern Rhone. This is pure syrah from old massale selection vines. Balance, grace, and no lack of character...this is the new classic face of the Rhone.