The Cabernet in Cabernet Sauvignon

Today’s Story: Alpha Omega

I talked about Alpha Omega’s origins in a prior post (A Napa Take On Chablis), though will reproduce it briefly here.

Alpha Omega is the creation of Robin and Michelle Baggett following their move to Napa Valley in 2006. Though Robin began his foray into wine much earlier, in 1988 as a grape grower and in 1998 by starting Tolosa Winery, Michelle worked in the design and development of hospitality brands before the couple culminated their pursuits into Alpha Omega.

The winery, as I mentioned before, is known for their red wines and particularly high-quality single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. However, we have a couple bottles of the Cabernet Franc, a limited bottling I can no longer find online, that I thought would be fun to review prior to reviewing one of their single vineyard Cabs. Cab Franc is probably known to most as a blending grape for Bordeaux wines, however they are becoming much easier to find as a standalone wine.

For those of you relatively new to wine, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. The cross occurred during the mid-1600s in southwestern France.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Cabernet Franc

100% Cabernet Franc; 15.5% ABV

This is a cool offering from Alpha Omega, as I did not know they released a Cabernet Franc specific wine. That being said, this does appear to be a limited release available to mailing list members since I cannot find anymore on their website or stores online.

In color, the wine is medium purple with pale purple/ruby variation toward the edges of the glass. I double decanted this bottle so it would be ready for dinner, and with the accelerated air it opened up nicely. On the nose, we have aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, lilac, leather, sweet tobacco, and oak. There is a slight hint of alcohol on the nose as well, likely due to its relatively high ABV. Once in the mouth, flavors on the palate include blackcurrant, blueberry jam, loamy earth, tobacco leaf, and black pepper. This medium-bodied red has medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long, dark-fruit-forward finish.

Price: $100. Given similar-priced, high-quality Cab Franc I’ve tried, I think this is worth the tag if you’re used to paying around $100 for your wine. Nonetheless, I recently tried some outstanding Cab Franc from Tuscany and Michigan for about 1/3 the price and I think you’d be well served trying more Cab Franc from these regions or Chile and Argentina. Pair this with beef, duck, or pork (we had it with bbq pork sandwiches).


If you would like to try some French Cab Franc, keep an eye out for some Chinon!

Five Generations of Burgundy

Today’s Story: Albert Bichot

Domaines Albert Bichot traces its roots back to 1831 when Bernard Bichot started a wine trading business. Hippolyte, Bernard’s son, succeeded him and was the first family member to purchase vines in Volnay due to his belief that upstream control of the product is vital to his success as a merchant. This expansion of sorts prompted Albert Bichot, Hippolyte’s son and the first to bear the name, to set home base in Beaune in 1912.

As the family endeavor grew exponentially, the second Albert Bichot (born 1900) set an emphasis on international trade and travelled constantly throughout the world to introduce the family’s wines. During the second half of the 20th century, Albert’s sons Albert, Bernard, Bénigne, and Jean-Marc helped expand the domaine with this same mentality. For instance, they constructed a large cellar, bottling center, and winery to produce wine for distribution to every inhabited continent.

Still a family brand today, Albéric Bichot joined in the early 1990s and took over management responsibilities in 1996. Albéric’s main challenges thus far have been converting to organic viticulture in the Côte-d’Or vineyards, adhering and changing with global tastes, laws, and market trends, and increasing the world’s knowledge and respect for Burgundy wine. He dramatically expanded Albert Bichot’s vinification capacity again in 2010 and the company’s vineyards now total 6 estates throughout Burgundy.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Chassagne-Montrachet

100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV

I’ve had several wines, both white and red, from Albert Bichot and the quality to price ratio is always quite good. This easy-drinking Chassagne-Montrachet is pale yellow/straw in color with water white variation near the edges of the glass. On the nose are aromas of pear, peach, stone fruit, lemon citrus, cream, and white florals. Once in the mouth, flavors of pear, melon, pineapple, lemon zest, and white pepper abound. Full-bodied with vibrant medium (+) acidity, the wine finishes well-rounded with buttery notes.

Price: $55, great QPR for this wine. Pair this with chicken, fish, or crab.

Bordeaux Battle

Today’s Stories:

Château Léoville Las Cases is a historical Bordeaux estate rated as a Second Growth (Deuxième Cru) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Though the estate used to be much larger and is one of the oldest in the Médoc, it was split up between 1826 and 1840 as a result of the French Revolution and came into the Las Cases family as 3/5 the size of the original estate. Luckily for the family, however, their land made up the heart of the domain and therefore consists of the original terroir back to the 17th century.

Las Cases was managed by the same family through the 19th century, moving by inheritance through Pierre Jean, Adolphe, and Gabriel de Las Cases until Théophile Skawinski bought a stake in 1900 to become the manager. Today, Jean-Hubert Delon is the sole owner with the family coming in during the mid-20th century. I encourage you to take a look at the cool video on their website here, which shows the estate’s geographic location as well as a breakdown of the terroir at the domain.

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is also a Second Growth (Deuxième Cru) based on the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Pichon Lalande is considered by many to be a classic example of Pauillac, known for its deep, concentrated layers of ripe fruit accompanied by notes of cassis, tobacco, and earth.

Similar to Léoville Las Cases, Pichon Lalande was once part of a much larger estate. As ownership changed hands over the years, Pichon Lalande earned its name when the founder’s daughter Therese received it as a dowry for her marriage to Jacques de Pichon Longueville. During the 18th century, the estate was dominated by women (Therese de Rauzan, Germaine de Lajus, and Marie Branda de Terrefort) throughout the winemaking process until Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville took over for his mother. In 1850, with his death, the estate split between his two sons and three daughters and ultimately resulted in the division of Comtesse de Lalande and Pichon Baron.

With no familial heirs, Edouard Miailhe and Louis Miailhe purchased Pichon Lalande following WWI. Edouard’s daughter, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing took over management in 1978 and became a prominent ambassador for Bordeaux wines while dramatically increasing quality of her estate. One of her major endeavors, and possibly most famous, was growing the size of Pichon Lalande from 40 hectares of vines to 89. In 2007, however, May-Eliane sold a majority stake of the estate to the Rouzaud family, owners of Roederer Champagne, and management changes as well as renovations took place.

Today’s 1st Wine: 1986 Château Léoville Las Cases

66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4%Petit Verdot; 13.3% ABV

While I’d put the fill level on this bottle between top shoulder and into neck, a pull of the cork showed immediately that we were in for a beautiful, textbook Bordeaux. No need to decant this one, we just let it slow ox in the bottle and glass. In appearance this is still deep ruby with slight garnet rim variation. On the nose, I got aromas of crème de cassis, graphite, pencil shavings, tobacco leaf, and forest floor. Once in the mouth, this luxurious medium- to full-bodied wine shows notes of black and blue fruits, crushed stone, cigar box, and ground green herbs with a hint of black pepper. We get high acidity and medium dusty tannins into a long finish.

Price: $500. Another rare bottle that my generous friend shared (the ’86 Pichon was his too) so we could do this side-by-side tasting. If you can stomach paying the price, this wine is damn near perfect. Pair with steak with a peppercorn or mushroom sauce.

Today’s 2nd Wine: 1986 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot; 12.5% ABV

This is my second bottle of 1986 Pichon Lalande, coincidentally consumed with my same friend who was there for the first bottle. While fill level and provenance of the bottle are good, this seems to be significantly more advanced than the first one (tasted April 2018). Color on this was more light ruby and borderline garnet. After slow ox in the bottle and a glass, the nose offered aromas of stale cranberry, red apple skins, graphite, eucalyptus, chocolate, and pyrazine that unfortunately didn’t want to blow off. Perhaps this needed more air time than we gave it, but regardless it was an overall solid nose save for the pyrazine. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases flavors of green herbs, cigar box, mushroom, black peppercorn, and forest floor. Due to this more advanced stage, the palate certainly showed better than the nose. Medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $250. If you can guarantee the provenance, this is well worth the price. As with any aged wine you take a risk, however to try old Bordeaux and such a classic example of it, the potential reward is there. Pair with steak.

Winner: 1986 Château Léoville Las Cases

The Léoville Las Cases drank with such elegance and class while being a textbook representation of what Bordeaux is and what it should be. I am already hoping and dreaming that I get a chance to taste it again.

Ethereal Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Today’s Story: Château de Beaucastel

Château de Beaucastel, as it exists today, traces its history back to 1549 when Pierre de Beaucastel purchased a barn and plot of land extending to Coudoulet. Chateauneuf-du-Pape (which translates to “the Pope’s new castle”), however, is a French AOC that traces its history back to the early 1300s. In 1321, Pope John XXII sent four barrels from the papal cellars to be filled with wine in the region and constructed a castle for his use. As the wine became a favorite of the Pope’s, it became known as “Vin du Pape” until eventually becoming Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CdP).

Though Beaucastel’s origins place the estate well within CdP’s winemaking history, there is no certain record of vines on the property until many years later in the early 1800s when ownership credits to Etienne Gontard. As some of you may know, however, phylloxera hit vineyards during the 19th century and, with the estate under new ownership yet again by Élie Dussaud, Dussaud decided not to replant vines and rather sold the estate.

With over 300 years of history at this point, Beaucastel’s true winemaking prowess did not come about until Pierre Tramier purchased the estate in 1909. Under his ownership, he led massive vineyard replanting efforts and eventually transferred responsibility to his son-in-law Pierre Perrin. Perrin dramatically expanded the vineyard holdings during his tutelage and the estate has been in the Perrin family since then, eventually passing to his son Jacques Perrin who managed the estate until 1978.

Today, Jacques’ sons Jean-Pierre and François Perrin continue to manage the estate with the help of Marc, Pierre, Thomas, Cécile, Charles, Matthieu, and César who make up the fifth generation. They continue to farm their vineyards organically, a practice since 1950 at the estate, and introduced biodynamic farming in 1974. Grapes are always picked exclusively by hand and carefully monitored to use only the best fruit.

Today’s Wine: 1994 Hommage a Jacques Perrin

60% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise; 13.5% ABV

I am a big fan of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and every bottle I’ve enjoyed from Beaucastel has been a wonderful representation. However, this is my first time trying the Hommage as they can be hard to find and come at a significantly higher price-point. The Hommage, as the name states, is made in honor of Jacques Perrin and comes from the best vines on the property.

Our wine today is opaque medium ruby in color with pale ruby variation toward the edges of the glass. Slightly tight on the nose, we let this decant while my friend and I enjoyed a different bottle. Once the wine opened, the nose offered aromas of dusty pomegranate, graphite, sous bois, wet gravel, mushroom, and cigar ash. This is another wine I could smell all day. Since that’s not the main point of wine, the palate showcases notes of chewy cherry, red licorice, tobacco, soggy earth, and green underbrush. A beautiful bottle with plenty of gas left in the tank, this is full-bodied with moderately high acidity, fully integrated mild tannins, and a long finish that really made me wish we had more with my last sip.

Price: $500. Certainly a rare experience and one made possible thanks to my good friend’s tendency for sharing. Pair this with beef, game, or lamb and add a mushroom sauce.

Bit by the Burg Bug

Once you’re hooked on white Burgundy, there’s no going back.

Today’s Story: Etienne Sauzet

Domaine Etienne Sauzet found its origin in the early 20th century when Etienne inherited and purchased additional grape vines in the village of Puligny-Montrachet. A family endeavor throughout its history, the domaine has operated under four generations and became modernized under Etienne’s granddaughter, Jeanine Boillot, and her husband Gérard Boudot. The efforts by Jeanine and Gérard include improved vinification techniques and a transition to biodynamic farming. Currently, Jeanine’s daughter Emilie and her husband Benoît Riffault produce the wines.

Comprised of 15 hectares distributed on Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Cormot-le-Grand in the Hautes côtes de Beaune, the domaine produces an assortment of white wines. Like many producers, Sauzet offers a regional Borgogne but also produces Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet villages, nine 1er Crus (including the one I am reviewing today), and four Grand Crus. Sauzet’s Grand Cru sites include Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, and Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

When seeking out a white Burgundy to be the first wine for dinner with a good friend, I was very excited to find this bottle which happens to be my first from Etienne Sauzet. In appearance, this wine is a gorgeous, crystal-clear pale gold. As the wine opened up, enthralling aromas of pitted melon, honeysuckle, white florals, flakey vanilla pastry, Manchego cheese, white chocolate, and cotton candy (!) leap from the glass. My eyes, as well as my friend’s, nearly popped out every time we took a sniff. On the palate, we got flavors of stone fruit, lemon zest, baked green apple, white pepper, butter, and seaside minerality. Utterly complex and still way too young, this wine is full-bodied with mouthwatering high acidity that culminates into an oily yet luxurious mouthfeel. I will buy more to lay down.

Price: $160. This is an outstanding value for 1er Cru white Burgundy. Already drinking beautifully, the age-worthiness of this bottle makes it a staple in any cellar. Pair this with shellfish, particularly lobster. It even went well with our Italian sausage bruschetta.

Pasta Night? Look No Further

Today’s Story: Santa Margherita

Santa Margherita was founded in 1935 by Count Gaetano Marzotto, a pioneering vintner who helped revitalize a portion of the Venetian countryside in both farming and winemaking. With a goal of producing authentic Italian wines full of regional character and tradition, Marzotto expanded the Santa Margherita brand to vineyards in Alto Adige and Tuscany. Famous for their Pinot Grigio, Santa Margherita also makes Chianti Classico Riserva, Prosecco Superiore, and Sparkling Rosé.

Since its beginning, Santa Margherita put a major emphasis on preserving the environment through sustainability efforts. For example, during the winemaking process they use natural products and compost to feed the soil, organic land management in terms of in-ground irrigation, use no chemical pesticides for their Chianti, and hand-harvest 90% of their grapes in Veneto. Further, Santa Margherita stopped using animal byproducts and uses yeast-derived and vegetable-derived products during filtration so their wines are vegan-friendly. Lastly, Santa Margherita is powered completely by renewable resources including 6,500 square feet of solar panels at their winery in Portogruaro.

Fun fact: Santa Margherita manufactures their own wine bottles in a factory adjacent to their fermentation cellars. They do this to reduce carbon emissions related to storage and transportation of bottles from outside producers.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Chianti Classico Riserva

100% Sangiovese; 13.5% ABV

For spaghetti night, I knew I needed to run to the store to grab a bottle of Chianti Classico. As expected, this bottle filled its role for the pairing beautifully. Our wine today is a clear, medium ruby color with a variation of pink hues toward the edges of the glass. I briefly decanted this before drinking, as these are known to have high tannin, but letting this slow ox in the glass would do just fine. On the nose are aromas of cherry, cranberry, barnyard, forest floor, shoe leather, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Once in the mouth, we get flavors of sweet cherry, cranberry, strawberry, dried earth, mushroom, and mineral. True to form, this is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish dominated by notes of red fruit and berries.

Price: $27, a nice price-point. I recommend trying this for its solid quality compared to many other options you will find on the shelf, even if they are slightly cheaper. Pair this with red/meat sauce pastas, lamb, or veal.

TOR. Need I Say More?

Today’s Story: TOR Wines

TOR is a small production winery that makes single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Bordeaux varietals from high-quality fruit sourced from multiple vineyards in Napa Valley. Its proprietors, Tor and Susan Kenward, started their endeavor following Tor’s nearly three decade career with Beringer Vineyards helping craft their reserve and single vineyard bottlings. With Beringer, Tor was able to become friends with several Napa Valley icons who helped encourage him to learn and push the envelope with quality wines, while also traveling the world and walking vineyards of some of the most important wine producers in Europe. Susan, on the other hand, began her career in the culinary industry as she wrote five cookbooks and won two James Beard Awards. She then moved into fashion and the beauty industries, becoming a well-known lifestyle influence.

On the winemaking front, Tor and his winemaker, Jeff Ames, share similar purist ideals such that wine should represent its place rather than a winemaker’s particular style. Every wine is made by hand and comes unfined and unfiltered, built in a high quality that is meant for serious aging. As Tor says, “the wines I’m making right now, I’m assuming a good number of them are going to outlive me.”

In addition to their Beckstoffer To Kalon I am reviewing today, TOR makes a Vine Hill Ranch Cab, Cimarossa Vineyard Cab (Howell Mountain), Melanson Vineyard Cab (Pritchard Hill), Herb Lamb Vineyard Cab, and Tierra Roja Vineyard Cab. TOR also makes several very small production blends, including Black Magic (only 125 cases in 2017, this is only made in specific vintages). I will review one of their Chardonnay offerings in a future post, delving into their range of white wine bottlings at that time.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Beckstoffer To Kalon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 15.1% ABV

This is the third time I’ve had this wine (first in April 2017, then in March 2018) and it seems to be developing nicely. That being said, this still seems somewhat one-dimensional to me versus my prior two tastings.

In appearance, this Cab is medium purple at its core with ruby near the edges of the glass. The nose emits welcoming and sweet aromas of blueberry, plum, black cherry, lavender, and cedar, though this is not as multi-dimensional as other bottles I enjoyed. I’m excited to try this again in several years to see if we get some of the tertiary notes. The palate continues the sweet theme with flavors of blackberry compote, blueberry, sweet tobacco, milk chocolate, and a hint of vanilla. Medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish with jammy dark fruit. I think this falls into the people-pleasing camp of wines, though don’t get me wrong it is high quality. The unfortunate thing about this bottle is…

Price: $185. I’d be more comfortable recommending this if it were closer to $120 per bottle. It is small production (39 barrels, about 975 cases) and it carries the Beckstoffer name, which is why I think it is so high. There are better values elsewhere.

“This Blessed Plot, This Earth…”

Today’s Story: Realm Cellars

Realm Cellars was founded in 2002 with a focus on producing high-quality, limited production Bordeaux blend and single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Co-Founder Juan Mercado left his role as a hospital administrator in San Francisco to pursue working in the wine industry and, until recently, Realm sourced their fruit from historical, high-quality vineyards (like Dr. Crane, To Kalon, and Farella) rather than growing their own. Juan runs the winery with Managing Partner Scott Becker, they have an excellent winemaker in Benoit Touquette, and Michel Rolland consults.

Switching gears, one of my favorite aspects of Realm (more a “that’s really cool” kind of thing) is their inspiration from Shakespeare. For example, the title of this blog post starts the line “This blessed plot, this earth, this realm” from Shakespeare’s Richard II, a line noted on every bottle of Realm wine, on their corks, and highlighted on the label I am reviewing today. Realm’s Bordeaux blends include The Tempest, named for the violent storm and play thought to be one of Shakespeare’s last; Falstaff, named for the fat, vain, boastful, and cowardly knight present in four of Shakespeare’s plays for comic relief; and of course The Bard, named for Shakespeare himself. Each wine highlights a particular variety, ranging from Merlot to Cabernet Franc to Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively.

As far as their single vineyard wines go, Realm produces Farella (100% Cab), Houyi (100% Cab), Beckstoffer Dr. Crane (95% Cab, 5% Petit Verdot), Beckstoffer To Kalon (100% Cab), Moonracer (Cab dominant blend), and a white wine called Fidelio (Sauvignon Blanc). As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, recently Realm started producing wine from their own fruit which is where Moonracer comes in. This wine comes from their vineyard on Wappo Hill in the Stags Leap District and is named for the Wappo Native Americans who were known for bravery, strength, and athleticism. The Wappos often took part in (and are said to have won most) inter-tribal races during a full moon, hence the name Moonracer.

Note: Realm also makes a highly limited blend only in certain vintages called The Absurd, but be ready to pay $600-$750 per bottle for a chance to taste it.

Today’s Wine: 2016 The Bard

85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot; 14.6% ABV

As expected due to its young age, this wine is deep, opaque purple in color and almost black at its core. I double decanted this bottle due to its youth and let it breath for about an hour. On the nose are aromas of blackberry, blueberry, anise, cigar box, pepper, chocolate, and crushed stone. In the mouth, the palate consists of flavors of black fruit, licorice, smokey earth, violet, dark chocolate, and a touch of ground coffee. Full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but refined tannins, and a very long, concentrated finish. I definitely committed infanticide with this one, but wanted to try it and will definitely buy more. Give it at least 5-7 more years but drink over the coming decades.

Price: $150. While not an everyday drinking price, this bottle is well worth its tag. Already at such a young age this is drinking with finesse, elegance, and balance that is hard to find. Pair this with filet mignon or ribeye.

Burgundian Beauty

Today’s Story: Domaine Leflaive

Domaine Leflaive is a very highly regarded winery located in Puligny-Montrachet, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy. While origins of the estate come as early as 1717 with Claude Leflaive, the winery as it is today seems to begin with Joseph Leflaive (1870-1953). Initially working as a naval engineer who helped develop the first French submarine, Joseph cared for his family’s vines in Puligny-Montrachet following his marriage. Thanks to phylloxera, many of the vines needed dramatic replanting and many of the produce at the time sold to wine merchants. Thus, in the 1920s, Joseph replanted the parcels of his estate and started selling wines under his own label.

When Joseph died in 1953, Domaine Leflaive came under the control of his four children (Jo, Vincent, Anne, and Jeanne) and the family desired to maintain the winery at the peak of excellence. Jo, an insurance underwriter by trade, took over the administrative and financial management of Domaine Leflaive while Vincent, an engineer who studied management and business, covered the vineyard, wines, and commercial side of the business. Over time, Domaine Leflaive produced some of the greatest white Burgundy wines and continues to be a family endeavor. In 1990, Vincent’s daughter Anne Claude became joint manager with Jo’s son Olivier and the two learned from Vincent until his death in 1993 and Anne Claude was named manager.

Much changed at the estate from the 1990s, though it is still run by the family. Today’s steward is Brice de La Morandiere, Anne Claude’s nephew and great-grandson of Joseph Leflaive. Brice’s largest contributions so far include the updating of historic buildings on the estate and enhancements to the winemaking process that include new corks to allow for prolonged aging of the Domaine’s wines.

Lastly, as a common thread, I will leave you with a brief conversation on the farming and winemaking practices of Domaine Leflaive. Leflaive practices biodynamic farming in an effort to understand and appreciate all natural phenomena that ultimately strengthen the immunity of their vines. They tend to their soil with the use of products made from vegetable, animal and mineral matter at certain points during the annual cycle, while working the land by tilling and scraping. Further, Leflaive practices organic cultivation of the vines. You can read more in-depth on their practices at

Today’s Wine: 1995 Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

This was a “fingers crossed” type of bottle for a couple reasons. First, the cork on this bottle was slightly depressed (only 1-2mm or so) and was nearly soaked. I’ve seen this with wine before, so I gingerly used my Ah So wine opener to get the cork out and thankfully it was one solid piece and the seal seemed intact. Secondly, white Burgundy from the 1990s, particularly starting with the 1995 vintage, has a somewhat significant problem with premox (premature oxidation) which can ruin a relatively young wine. The wine can give off aromas and flavors like a Sherry, or worse, and become undrinkable while showing darker than expected or brown colors. Fortunately, this bottle had no premox and the slight depression of the cork turned out okay.

With that good news, our wine today shows a vibrant gold color. Once this opened in the glass, beautiful aromas of ripe pear, honeysuckle, cream, white florals, nuts, and white truffle leap outward. I could smell this wine all day. In the mouth, flavors of lemon citrus, golden apple skins, white pepper, spice, and minerality mingle in perfect balance. The wine is full-bodied with lip-smacking high acidity and a finish that goes on for easily 40 seconds. This bottle was truly a pleasant surprise, and for anyone who has one left I’d advise you to start drinking.

Price: $530. This is one of those bottles I drink very rarely, with the vintage coincidentally being my birth year. Pair with stone crab, mild fish, or a small plate of pear and mild cheeses.

Up-and-Coming Chablis

Today’s Story: Garnier & Fils

Garnier & Fils is a family endeavor in Chablis, where the Garnier family has owned 57 acres of property for decades. The current patriarch of the family sold their grapes to other winemakers, however in 1996 his sons Xavier and Jérôme produced their own wine for the first time and began selling it to restaurants. The two brothers share an equal passion for great wine as well as an eagerness to produce high-quality wines from this cool and challenging region, with Jérôme working the vineyards and Xavier making the wines.

Like many small and “newer” wineries, Garnier & Fils practices traditional, environmentally friendly, and organic farming/winemaking. They harvest their grapes later than many other producers in Chablis, ferment only with native yeasts, and store their wine in large (used) wood barrels to not impart any woody notes into the wines. This dedication to their winemaking process afforded Xavier and Jérôme the ability to make very deep-flavored and profound wines with their entry level all the way to the Grand Cru, also making them somewhat “rising stars.”

With top producers in Chablis such as Domaine François Raveneau and Vincent Dauvissat, it can be very hard for vintners to make a name for themselves and it comes over time. However, with the rising quality from Garnier & Fils I am eager to try more of their wines and believe that one day we will be much more familiar with them than we are now. I also speculate the incredibly reasonable price-point on their wines will creep up with that fame.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Chablis

100% Chardonnay; 12.5% ABV

When asked to pick a bottle of Chardonnay for our group’s evening wine tasting, I was very glad to find this Chablis for its value and fact that many of my friends are not familiar with the wines of Burgundy. Our wine today is pale gold/straw yellow in color, almost water white toward the edges of the glass. The nose is very delicate and inviting with notes of green apple, pear, white florals, and mineral. Simple and classic. On the palate are notes of pear, green apple skins, citrus zest, white pepper, and chalk with a slight salinity to it. This Chablis is medium- to full-bodied with juicy acidity and a rounded, full finish.

Price: $30, a good price-point for entry Chablis. Pair this with an assortment of goat cheese or shellfish.