Winter 2019 CRUx6 Quarterly Whites
This is a quarterly 6-pack I've been wanting to do for a long time--A focus on Chardonnay. Egads you might say! Chardonnay? Yep, that's what I'm selling. Here are five to try, plus one brand new white from the Italian Piedmont made from a variety you'll come to love--the remarkable Favorita.
Contrada di Sorano Langhe Favorita 2018, $17
Hands down this is our smallest winery. Not just from a production standpoint, but from one of physical space. Once five of us were inside there was no further moving around. We all stood in place, spun in circles, took it all in, and then retreated outside, under an umbrella, and sat down to the most delightful visit and wine tasting I can recall in a long time. Wine after wine was filled with bright happy life. Sometimes during a tasting you just know. Well, at this moment we all knew.
Paolo and Cristina, up until now, have sold very little of their wine. They began their project in 2014 and were promptly greeted with a zero vintage, a catastrophic start that featured cold and rain, and they sold their entire crop without processing or bottling a single drip. The following year was better and they began making their first tiny bottlings--200 of this, 400 of that. The minuscule quantities are hard to fathom. Especially because this was their new livelihood.
This was my very favorite white wine during a hot summer tour around Italy this past summer. For me it has it all--mouthwatering aromas, a lovely citrusy edge, and a refreshing acidity. You'll call back for this one!
La Paroisse Val d'Urfé Chardonnay 2018, $18
Jean-Claude Chaucesse (show-sess) and his wife Laetitia cultivate vines that are an average of 80 years old near the charming village of Renaison. He is the 13th generation of Chaucesse to farm the same land with documents showing the work to have begun in 1610. Over four hundred years later the property, and the work, has passed from father to son. Jean-Claude's two young sons seem primed to continue the heritage.
This is the very outside edge of Burgundy. Technically a Loire appellation, but growing grapes that one more typciall associates with Burgundy--Gamay, and this Chardonnay. Now, no one will mistake this for a good bottle of Meursault, but those pink granite soils are doing wonders here, especially in this 'naked' style of wines. An all tank job with loads of fruit and sexy, satiny richness. Pretty darn good bottle for the money.
Chateau de Brau Chardonnay Vin de Pays 2018, $16
I liked Gabriel Tari and his wife Wenny before we even met. Then when we did finally meet, the like turned to admire, and since then the admire has turned to adore. I adore what the Tari' are doing in their little corner of the south of France. Carcassonne is only 30 minutes away, the Pyrenées and the Montagne Noir loom in the distance. Their home is equidistant from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. In fact, their appellation, Cabardès (KAH-bahr-dez), lies on almost a continental divide, or fall line between the seas. Neat stuff, and more on that in the future.
Chardonnay from the rustic, wild south of Franc shouldn't be a thing. But here, in the shadow of the Motagne Noir, it turns out to be a really really great thing. Look for a more ample white here comared to the others, but also with some surprising freshness and acidity. Again, no oak. Just pure and clean.
La Casaccia 'Charno' Chardonnay 2018, $17
Twenty years ago Giovanni and his wife Elena Bassignana acquired an 18th centuryvabandoned villa named La Casaccia (almost literally translated as "that shitty little house") and gradually restored the main building and brought back into production the impressive subterranean cellar excavated into the local volcanic rock. The cellar was soon equipped with a line of stainless steel tanks and a bottling unit, and the vineyard converted to organic farming.
But then...this white. It's as good as anything I've ever tasted in Piedmont. And what an unexpected treat to find a pure Chardonnay. I venture you'll like this wine as it is nothing of the things you hate about Chardonnay, and everything you like! Lively, crisp, refereshing, minerally, and delicious.
Géraldine Lochet Bourgogne Chardonnay 2018, $22
At their best, the reds and whites of the Côte d'Or can be ethereal, complex, and oh-so fine. Equally frustrating however is that the region is filled with winemakers that don't care enough, blessed with expensive and cherished land, yet unwilling to make great wine and simply do the minimum required to get a wine to market, and hitch their ride to a pricing machine that sees bottles easily north of a $100.
There are more than 3400 wineries in Burgundy. The top one hundred get all the accolades, another hundred work with great quality under the radar, and the rest just go through the motions. But today, let me introduce you to #3401--the smiling, tiny, affable Géraldine Lochet. Following three visits with her since last December, the final this past July during France's hottest day ever on record (113), we are in business in the Côte d'Or. And this stuff is going to make a lot of you happy campers.
Les Athletes Mu Mu Chardonnay 2018, $15
"Shall we go for oysters?"
This was the question that was posed to us after a terrific visit last week with Jean-Pierre Guedon at Domaine Hautes Noelles. We had arrived in Nantes earlier that morning and used an hour to stock up on weekend provisions--cheeses from Beillavaire, good bread, little fresh strawberries, leeks, radishes, and lots more. The Marché Talensac in the center of Nantes is a Loire paradise and we were particularly freaking out over the fresh fish, scallops, and of course, oysters.
And as we slurped those oysters at the charming Bar 21, overlooking the sea in Pornic, Jean-Pierre presented me with this wine-- a pure Chardonnay grown in Muscadet--a totally unusual, but thoroughly delicious, slight saline, and oh-so refreshing white wine, playfully called MuMu.