Chuggable Rosé for a Good Cause

Today’s Story: RAEN Winery

RAEN Winery is a relatively small Pinot-Noir-focused venture established in the Sonoma Coast of California in 2013 by brothers Carlo and Dante Mondavi. As fourth-generation winegrowers and the children of Tim Mondavi (who was instrumental in the production of California Pinot Noir during the early 1970s), Carlo and Dante grew an absolute passion for wine and particularly Pinot Noir. Working with three unique vineyard sites, RAEN produces a Sonoma Coast Royal St. Robert Pinot Noir, a Fort Ross-Seaview Home Field Pinot Noir, and a Freestone-Occidental Bodega Pinot Noir. They also produce small quantities of Chardonnay from the Charles Ranch Vineyard in Fort Ross-Seaview and The Monarch Challenge Rosé to benefit The Monarch Challenge movement. RAEN’s wines are fermented 100% whole cluster with native yeast and age in neutral French oak barrels for 10-20 months depending on site and vintage. When the team feels the wines are ready, they are bottled unfined and unfiltered with the goal of allowing each bottling to showcase a true sense of place.

Fun fact: RAEN is named for Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally.

To learn more about the wines or details about each vineyard site, you can visit the RAEN website here.

Today’s Wine: 2019 The Monarch Challenge Rosé

100% Pinot Noir; 12.9% ABV

The 2019 Monarch Challenge Rosé is transparent medium copper in color. The aromas are of medium (-) intensity and the nose isn’t all that complex, showcasing notes of fresh strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, rose, mild herbs, and dried stone minerality. Meanwhile on the palate flavors are of medium intensity, showcasing strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, orange zest, white pepper, and dried herbs. This dry rosé is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Overall, while not complex this is a refreshing and enjoyable wine that went down quickly.

Price: $25 (I paid $19). This is pretty fairly-priced and I am glad to have gotten it on sale which makes it even more reasonable. These wines also support a great cause, with 100% of the proceeds going to The Monarch Challenge which is a movement supporting cleaner farming in the areas of Sonoma and Napa.

Complex Anderson Valley Pinot Noir in a Traditional Style

Today’s Story: Radio-Coteau

I wrote about Radio-Coteau a short six days ago, however I was so pleasantly taken aback by the 2011 Las Colinas Syrah I ventured out to pick up a bottle of their Pinot Noir. If you read the backstory on Radio-Coteau in my last post, feel free to skip the next paragraph and jump right into today’s tasting notes.

Radio-Coteau is somewhat of a cult winery (though not in the sense many people use the term nowadays) established by winemaker Eric Sussman in 2002. Though the winery is situated in Sebastopol and Eric owns a ridgetop estate vineyard above the town of Occidental, he also sources fruit from vineyards throughout the cooler climates of the northern coast within western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Eric brings his impressive history with wine to Radio-Coteau, one that includes stints in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the 1995 vintage in Pauillac on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, and the 1996 vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Comte Armand of Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur of Meursault. It was in France when Eric first heard the term “radio-coteau,” which means “word of mouth” or literally “broadcasting from the hillside.” Coupled with his flair for Old World style wines, Eric named his winery after this phrase to signify both a tight-knit community mindset as well as his wines being a true representation of the terroir. Working extensively with organic and biodynamic viticulture in well-drained marine soils, Eric produces refined examples of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Once again, I do recommend a visit to the winery’s interactive website here.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir is medium to deep garnet in color. Given 45 minutes or so to blossom in the glass, this showcases pronounced intensity with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, stemmy wild strawberry, red rose petal, black olive, leather, forest floor/wet leaves, dried green herbs, mint, clove, and cinnamon. Meanwhile on the palate I get equally complex flavors with pronounced intensity, with notes of black cherry, plum, pomegranate, red rose, tobacco, forest floor, earthy mushroom, grilled herbs, cracked green peppercorn, clove, and charred oak. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is very Burgundian but the ripeness of the California fruit does shine through. While the alcohol doesn’t show heat per se, the body is certainly boosted by it. 462 cases produced.

Price: $75. This is getting up there in price for Cali Pinot, however I think it does deserve to fight up alongside the “big boys” of cult Pinot Noirs that sell for $100-125. While there are no doubt better value plays closer to $50, I would buy this again.

Deliciously Pure Champagne From a Unique House

Today’s Story: Champagne Leclerc Briant

Champagne Leclerc Briant is a unique Champagne house established in 1872 by Lucien Leclerc in the village of Cumières. In 1955, however, the house moved to Épernay following Bertrand Leclerc’s marriage to Jacqueline Briant and they formed the négociant business Champagne Leclerc Briant. Leclerc Briant helped push the boundaries in Champagne, becoming one of the first houses to adopt organic viticulture during the 1960s and bottle single-vineyard Champagnes during the 1970s. Under Pascal, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Leclerc Briant started dabbling with biodynamic viticulture during the 1980s and they became Demeter biodynamic certified in 2003. Unfortunately, Pascal passed away in 2010 far too soon and Leclerc Briant fell into tough times and faced extinction for a couple years, selling off the majority of their vineyards. In 2012, however, an American couple Mark Nunelly and Denise Dupré purchased the house alongside Champagne native Frédéric Zeimett and oenologist Hervé Jestin and the team has brought Leclerc Briant back to greatness.

Leclerc Briant consists of a very small 0.6 hectare vineyard called La Croisette, which is adjacent to the winery in Épernay. They also own roughly 9.6 hectares across various 1er and Grand Cru vineyards, though they source small amounts of Pinot Noir from the Aube and have long-term purchase agreements with other vignerons who own organically or biodynamically farmed vineyards. In the cellars, Jestin practices a non-invasive style of winemaking and sees himself as an observer and guide rather than a heavy hander. The wines all go through spontaneous fermentation and vinify in INOX tank, terracotta egg, or French oak barrel before malolactic fermentation is allowed to happen naturally. After at least nine months in barrel, the wines experience extended aging in the cellars and dosage levels are minimal or at times nonexistent at all to allow the wines to showcase themselves in pure form. All the wines are then bottled unfined and unfiltered.

To view the range of wines from Leclerc Briant, visit the website here. There are truly some unique bottlings, including one that ages submerged 60 meters in the Atlantic Ocean!

Today’s Wine: 2009 Extra Brut Champagne

40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier; 12% ABV

The 2009 Extra Brut Champagne is transparent medium to deep gold in color. On the nose, I get aromas of lemon, green apple, honeysuckle, brioche, almond, chalk, and lees characteristics such as cheese rind and baked bread. Meanwhile the palate is drop-dead gorgeous with notes of green apple, crisp golden pear, lemon zest, white florals, toast, cheese rind, roasted nuts, cream, and saline mineral. This is light- to medium-bodied with vibrant medium (+) acidity and a long finish. Disgorged in June 2017. Dosage 4 g/L.

Price: $80. I actually think this is a very solid value for vintage Champagne. The precision and vibrancy of the wine is remarkable and this is all around a beautifully pure expression of the terroir. Highly recommended.

Delicate and Elegant Chambolle-Musigny With a Long Life Ahead

Today’s Story: Domaine Cecile Tremblay

Domaine Cecile Tremblay has a very interesting history, partly because she did not start making wines until 2003 though her family owned vineyards for several generations. Cecile is the great-granddaughter of Edouard Jayer, uncle of the famed Henri Jayer (go Google some of his wines, and perhaps sell your car to buy a bottle). Cecile’s family inherited vineyards from Edouard, though the two generations before her leased out the land to other producers and did not make their own wine. In 2003, however, with the expiration of a lease on three hectares of vines Cecile started making wine under her own label with a plan for further growth. For instance, the Domaine owns roughly 10 hectares of vineyard land and while more of this becomes free from leasing agreements in 2021, Cecile rented or purchased land along the way in communes such as Gevrey-Chambertin.

When Cecile took over her family’s land for her own use, the vineyards were in no standing to produce high quality wines. The producers leasing the land, for instance, used too much fertilizer for Cecile’s taste and utilized herbicides instead of ploughing. Throughout her time thus far as a winemaker, Cecile transitioned to organic farming and many of her practices include biodynamic farming measures as well. During maintenance of her vineyards, Cecile ploughs the soil mechanically and with horses while using copper sulfate to prevent mildew and other fungi.

Similar to her views on caring for her vines, Cecile is very traditional in her winemaking process. She presses her grapes with an old-fashioned vertical press and her wines see only a moderate amount of new wood during fermentation and aging. All of this effort culminates into wines that are refined and elegant, though built for the long haul.

I previously reviewed the 2011 Chambolle-Musigny Les Cabottes and 2011 Vosne-Romanée, so feel free to revisit those tasting notes if you want a more side-by-side picture.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Feusselottes

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2011 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Feusselottes is translucent pale ruby in color with garnet hues. I didn’t decant this, but the wine took a full 1-2 hours to really open up. The very delicate and feminine nose showcases aromas of black raspberry, strawberry, cherry, a hint of plum, red and purple florals, leather, delicate grilled herbs, and gravel. Meanwhile on the palate I get notes of cranberry, cherry, black raspberry, boysenberry, violets, sweet tobacco, savory green herbs, and rocky mineral. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, refined medium tannins, and a long finish. Similar to Tremblay’s other 2011s, I do not get the green notes prevalent for the vintage. This is a beautifully elegant wine and it has a long life ahead of it.

Price: $480 (I paid $160). The price of these wines has really skyrocketed over the past several years, and unfortunately these are at a price-point where it is difficult to discuss value. While these are phenomenal, there are better values out there. I’m nonetheless glad to have snagged a good deal of her wines from $90 to $160 depending on bottling.

California Pinot Rooted in Burgundian Traditions

Today’s Story: Littorai Wines

Littorai is a small family-owned and operated winery established by Ted and Heidi Lemon in 1993. Dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Littorai produces vineyard-designate wines (save for the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) from coastal vineyards in the Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley of California. Ted is a career winemaker, having earned an Enology degree from the University of Dijon in Burgundy in 1981. During his time in Burgundy, Ted worked stints at a number of prestigious domaines including Domaine Georges Roumier, Domaine Bruno Clair, Domaine Parent, Domaine de Villaine, Domaine Delorme, and Domaine Dujac. In 1983, he became the first American ever to become winemaker and vineyard manager of a Burgundy estate by taking the reigns of Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault. Though his stint at Roulot was fairly short-lived (this was during the uncertainty following Guy’s death), Ted returned to the United States and worked or consulted at a number of wineries before establishing Littorai. Heidi worked in wine as well prior to the couples’ own project, with an impressive resume including Domaine Chandon, Robert Pecota Winery, Robert Long Vineyards, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

As one might surmise, Ted’s winemaking philosophy is shaped tremendously by his studying and work in Burgundy. Ted believes the soil and more broadly terroir are the leading factors of winemaking and he strives to showcase a true sense of place with each bottle of wine he produces. To this end, Ted is very particular about the vineyards he sources from (though today his fruit is roughly half purchased and half estate grown) and common characteristics include low yields, organic viticulture, and biodynamic practices. Ted and his team further believe in manual farming and they only use natural materials such as “estate produced compost” for “fertilizer.” In the winery itself, Ted remains somewhat hush on his process but does certify there are no additives in his wines such as cultured yeasts, cultured bacteria, acidification, or enzymes. Littorai wines are also bottled unfined and unfiltered off the original lees. Production numbers are quite limited, and all wines sell direct to consumer via the mailing list or to various restaurants.

In 2003, Ted and Heidi purchased a 30-acre biodynamic farm to advance their goal of generative agriculture. The Lemons produce as much as they can on-site for both farming and winemaking needs, which the inhabitants of cows, sheep, chickens, and ducks assist with. Several years later, the Lemons completed their winery in 2008 and the walls are made of caged bales of hay! Natural cooling from nighttime temperatures helps maintain the winery and the cellars, and it is set up using gravity flow to minimize handling of the wines.

To view the source of the above information, view pictures of the winery and vineyards, or join the mailing list for Littorai Wines, visit their website (previously linked) here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.4% ABV

The 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is translucent pale to medium ruby in color, though it’s almost opaque. This requires about 45 minutes to an hour to blossom in the glass, showcasing a nose of black cherry, black raspberry, stewed strawberry, blueberry, violet, leather, tilled earth, chopped herbs, baking spice, and white pepper. The palate showcases classic notes of bing cherry, jammy raspberry, stemmy strawberry, plum, cola, leather, sweet tobacco, underbrush, slate, clove, and oaky spice. This is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $60. I could argue there are better values for California Pinot Noir, but this is a very high quality and well-made Pinot Noir that does pose good value against the more “cult-level” bottlings that can be twice as expensive.

Remarkably Preserved and Burgundian Napa Valley Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Robert Mondavi Winery

I just wrote about the 1981 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, so I will save you the duplicate reading today and jump right into the tasting notes on today’s 1980 Reserve Pinot Noir. If you missed my prior commentary on Robert Mondavi, however, feel free to pause and click the link above!

Today’s Wine: 1980 Reserve Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.8% ABV

The 1980 Reserve Pinot Noir is translucent medium garnet in color with slight bricking (though it’s really not too bad). The fill level was superb (about 1-2cm ullage), the cork was pristine, and there was hardly any sediment thrown. Though firing on all cylinders as a pop-and-pour, this only got more complex in the glass with a nose of tobacco, coffee grounds, worn leather, forest floor, earthy mushroom, underbrush, gravel, tar, grilled herbs, and black olive. There’s even some cherry, baked strawberry, and black raspberry clinging on for dear life. The palate showcases some of the more primary notes up front with black cherry, black raspberry, brambly red fruits, and red rose petal, but offers similar depth and complexity to the nose with further notes of cigar tobacco, leather, smoke, scorched earth, black truffle, wet gravel, garden herbs, cracked green peppercorn, and green underbrush. This is light-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) dusty tannins, and a long finish. There was one owner who purchased this upon release before us, and this wine is one I will remember for perhaps the rest of my life.

Price: Your guess is as good as mine, but looks like this was last available in auction a few years ago for about $50. If you are able to find a perfectly stored bottle of this with great provenance, I would buy it. This was an absolutely incredible bottle of wine that grew in the glass and drank like some of the top-tier aged Burgundy I’ve had. Absolutely mind-blowing experience.

Solid Aged Volnay, but Over the Peak

Today’s Story: Maison Nicolas Potel

Maison Nicolas Potel was established in 1997 as a négociant business by Nicolas Potel following the passing of his father Gérard Potel of Domaine de la Pousse d’Or. Thanks to his father’s influence and respect within Burgundy for helping to improve quality, ripeness, and concentration in the region’s wines, Nicolas was able to access some of the great 1er and Grand Crus of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune. For example, Roumier, Lafon, and Jean-Marc Boillot (all who looked up to Gérard) sold Nicolas fruit to help jumpstart his namesake venture. By 2002, Nicolas was making wines from 50 different appellations. Shortly thereafter, however, Nicolas ran into cash flow issues during the global economic uncertainty and sold his Maison (including naming rights) to the Cottin brothers of négociant Labouré-Roi in 2004. Nicolas stayed on until 2009 when tensions boiled over, with the Cottin brothers saying his side projects competed with Maison Nicolas Potel and Nicolas saying they disagreed with his philosophy of quality over quantity. Though Nicolas moved on and established Domaine de Bellene with his own vineyards, Maison Nicolas Potel continues making wines under his name to this day.

A traditionalist and staunch proponent of quality over quantity, Nicolas worked with 35+ year old vines whose growers often practice organic or biodynamic viticulture. In the cellar, he practiced minimally invasive winemaking which included pressing with a vertical wine press, maturing the wines for 12-16 months on the lees without racking, and adding minimal SO2. All told, Nicolas adapted each wine to the vintage but at his core wanted to make wines as naturally as possible so they could express each terroir in the truest sense. Though this philosophy remains at Maison Nicolas Potel after he left, the wines bearing Nicolas’ name naturally don’t seem to be the same.

Today’s Wine: 2002 Volnay 1er Cru Pitures

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2002 Volnay 1er Cru Pitures is translucent medium garnet in color with slight bricking (though not too bad). This needed about an hour to blossom in the glass, helping to lift the fading nose to showcase aromas of forest floor, earthy mushroom, leather, grilled green herbs, and gravel followed by red fruits of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry all on their way out the door. The fruit is slightly more alive on the palate but is certainly still fading, displaying notes of tart red cherry, black raspberry, cranberry, truffle, tobacco, leather, loamy earth, garden herbs, and slight smoke. This is light-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium length finish (shorter than I’d like, but that’s the age). There’s still decent structure here, but overall the fruit is fading fast. Drink up if you have any.

Price: $130 (looks like it used to be $70 when last priced on wine-searcher in 2017). I think at its peak drinking window this would’ve been a fantastic bottle for the price. However, given how advanced this is now I would pass on it if you come across it.

Aged Nuits-St-Georges Perhaps Just Past Its Prime

Today’s Story: Domaine Henri Gouges

I wrote about Domaine Henri Gouges around Thanksgiving 2019 when I reviewed the 2012 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges and am excited to be returning to the domaine again today.

Though the Gouges family has deep-rooted history in grape farming going back 400 years, Henri Gouges didn’t form his domaine until 1920. When he no longer liked the idea of selling his fruit to négociants, Henri started producing, bottling, and selling his own wine in an effort to make higher quality wines. By 1933 this transition was fully complete and the domaine existed in similar fashion to its current status. A family endeavor throughout its history, Domaine Henri Gouges passed from Henri to his sons Marcel and Michel, then to Pierre and Christian, and finally to cousins Gregory and Antoine Gouges who manage the domaine today.

Undivided since its founding as a domaine, Henri Gouges today sits at roughly 36 acres of vineyards. Several of their holdings include Nuits St. Georges 1er Crus, though Henri Gouges does produce village wines as well. Though the winery and vineyards have been updated over time (including the use of organic viticulture and transition to a gravity flow winery), the domaine’s goal is to produce wines that truly represent and express the terroir. The harvest is carefully inspected and all fruit is completely destemmed, while vinification begins in lined cement vats for approximately 15 days depending on wine and vintage. Once fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to small oak barrels (typically 25% new) and each is fined with egg whites before light filtration and into the bottle.

Today’s Wine: 1996 Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets – St. Georges

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 1996 Clos des Porrets – St. Georges is translucent medium ruby in color and actually almost deep garnet. This was great as a pop-and-pour, with the nose filled with aromas of barnyard, mint, menthol, forest floor, truffle, stemmy underbrush, black olive, and mineral followed up by black cherry, black raspberry, and red florals. The palate is nice as well, but starts to fall apart on the mid-palate with notes of stemmy strawberry, black cherry, cola, rose, sous bois, earthy mushroom, granite, and mineral. The nose steals the show with this bottling. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $140 (shared by a good friend who paid $180). I think if the palate was firing on all cylinders, this would be a great value Burgundy. The nose is profound and decidedly the star act, though perhaps this could be a slightly off bottle since the last enjoyed by my friend was said to be exquisite.

Champagne Charlie

Today’s Story: Champagne Charles Heidsieck

Charles Heidsieck is a well-known Champagne house established by Charles-Camille Heidsieck in 1851 in Reims when he was 29 years old. The grand-nephew of Florens-Louis Heidsieck who established the Champagne Heidsieck et Cie House, Charles grew up amongst the vines and became well-educated alongside a passion for fine Champagne. Quickly recognizing the untapped potential of the Champagne trade in America, Charles traveled to the country in 1852 and won the adoration of New York, titans of business, and the South for his Champagne. He even picked up the nickname Champagne Charlie (of which there is a song and movie titled) along the way thanks to his charm and astute business acumen.

With the success of his Champagne in America, Belgium, and England (amongst France of course), Charles made the audacious purchase of the breathtaking 3rd century chalk cellars known as the Crayères in 1867. Robbed of any light and noise 30 meters below ground, the Crayères can house millions of bottles of Champagne in perfect storage conditions where they age for the minimum four years but at times surpass 40 years. At minimum I suggest you take a look at pictures of these majestic cellars here, which are classified as an UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of the “smaller” top-tier and well-known Champagne houses, Charles Heidsieck consists of about 60 hectares of vines divided between the Marne and Aube departments. These vineyards are all farmed adhering to sustainable viticulture, and they are certified High Environmental Value. The house also holds long-term contracts with winegrowers and cooperatives from whom they purchase extra fruit. In the cellars, a large number of reserve wines have been set aside to provide blending capability into the non-vintage bottlings where, for example, the Brut Réserve consists of about 40% reserve wines with an average age of 10 years.

Today’s Wine: 2008 Brut Millésimé

60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay; 12% ABV

The 2008 Brut Millésimé is transparent but very vibrant medium gold in color, showcasing beautifully delicate effervescence as well. While this no doubt needs time in the cellar (maybe revisit in 5 years?), the nose displays enticing aromas of ripe pear, golden apple, lemon zest, honeysuckle, crushed rock, brioche, vanilla cream, and almond. The palate is much more tight at this stage, characterized by notes of green apple skins, lemon, lime zest, pineapple, chalk, hazelnut, and lees. This is medium- to full-bodied with racy high acidity and a very tight, precise, and linear attack into a long, long finish.

Price: $100 (though I’ve seen this priced closer to $85-90). I think this is an exquisite Champagne and certainly one I would buy multiple bottles of to cellar. This is a fantastic showing in a fantastic vintage, and I could easily see this bottling appreciating as it falls on more peoples’ radars.

Beautifully Aged Morey-Saint-Denis

Today’s Story: Domaine G. Roumier

I previously wrote about Domaine G. Roumier when I reviewed a much younger 2014 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos de la Bussière back in November, 2019.

Domaine Georges Roumier originated in 1924, however most of their production at that time sold to wine merchants. This changed though, in 1945, when Georges Roumier started bottling wine at the domaine. I’m thankful Roumier made this change, as I’m sure many throughout the wine world are, because the reputation of this domaine has soared higher and Roumier sits as one of the upper-echelon producers in Chambolle-Musigny, Morey-Saint-Denis, and Corton-Charlemagne.

Christophe Roumier and his father Jean-Marie became partners in 1981 to manage the domaine, which as it currently stands covers 11.52 hectares in some of Burgundy’s premier appellations. Christophe has been instrumental in the continued rise of Roumier’s wines, immeasurably due to his very strict and dedicated care for the vines and winemaking process. Christophe produces 11 different bottlings ranging from the village level to Grand Cru, each wine made with this same rigor to produce high-quality, luxurious, profound, and always delicious wines.

All of Roumier’s fruit is hand-harvested and sorted, the village wines are typically made with destemmed fruit (the rest of the wines vary), punchdowns occur during fermentation, all yeasts are natural, and minimal new oak is used for aging (Christophe says he never goes above 30%). I’d love to dive deeper into the farming and winemaking practices, but I believe this Decanter article does an incredible job and suggest you read it if you’re interested in learning more.

Today’s Wine: 1995 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos de la Bussière

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 1995 Clos de la Bussière is transparent pale to medium garnet in color with slight bricking around the edges of the glass. This took about 45 minutes to blossom, and I decanted it to remove some sediment and cork that broke off in the bottle. The beautifully tertiary and well-integrated nose showcases aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, rose petal, dried red licorice, forest floor, mild green herbs, and prominent black truffle. Meanwhile on the palate, I get notes of black cherry, dried cranberry, underbrush, black truffle, sous bois, wet gravel, and pepper. This is light-bodied with still lively medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Absolutely gorgeous aged Burgundy that is perfectly balanced and perfectly aged, with the structure still a tour de force.

Price: $700 (I paid $315). I never turn down an opportunity to taste Roumier, particularly one with this much age and especially the provenance of having one owner before me. If you don’t like old wines that are dominated by forest floor and truffle, this certainly wouldn’t be for you. But for me, it’s well worth the $315 paid.