Forget everything you thought you knew…
When it comes to Chablis in America, there are a lot of misconceptions. Some think of their Grandmothers clutching crystal goblets. Others, jug wine on the bottom rack in grocery stores.
Perhaps most fittingly, I think of the illustrious character from Savannah. If you’ve read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or seen one of the Lady Chablis’ famous shows, you know how very misleading preconcieved notions can be!
I recently attended a winemaker luncheon at the always delicious Proof DC that illustrated incredible nuance among the wines. Over a 3 course lunch, we tasted La Piereleé Chablis 2011, Chablis Premier Cru Fouchaume 2010, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon 2010, Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux 2009, and Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2011.
In typical tasting fashion, each diner had a different favorite. Indeed, even my own favorites changed according to what I was eating- or if I was just sipping.
La grande dame of the afternoon was the Blanchot Grand Cru 2011, from one of only 7 Grand Cru designated vineyards in the region. It was exceptionally well balanced with firm acidity and outstanding minerality, exhibiting graceful citrus characteristics on the palette.
It was particularly incredible to note the vast differences in each wine when you consider how tiny the 3 appellations are in scope. The topography varies wildly, but is spread over less than 10,000 acres, giving these Chardonnays from Northern Burgandy extremely specific characteristics.
The cooler climate gives these wines a distinctive flavor- higher in acidity and less pronounced fruit notes than most Chardonnays. Perhaps most notably, Chablis exhibits minerality and flinty notes from the soil in which it’s grown. Argilo-Calcaire is a composition of limestone, clay, and tiny fossilized oyster shells, pictured below.
If you have any lingering doubts over Terroir‘s influence over a wine, one sip of Chardonnay from Chablis clears it up quickly!
The price point on even the Grand Cru is attainable, making these elegant and food friendly wines within reach for your next dinner party. I particularly like pairing Chablis with seafood, as Proof did, although they are quite versatile wines and have the potential to pair beautifully with many dishes.
To purchase the wines listed above, visit Calvert Woodley, Pearson’s Wine and Spirits, Weygandt Wines, Ace Beverage, McAuthor’s, or Arrowine. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
Pictured with Jean François Bordet, a 13th Generation winemaker.
So the next time you see a jug of Chablis on the grocery store shelves… walk on by! But DO give this outstanding wine a try. It just may surprise you!
For more information on this tiny but mighty wine region, visit www.chablis-wines.com.
A Visit to Breaux Vineyards
As I suss out my favorite Virginia wineries for Bon Vivant’s New Virginia Wine Concierge Program, I’m continually surprised. Pre-conceived notions and even the most well-intentioned recommendations are often wrong or out of date, which is why I make it a point to visit each vineyard myself.
One of the most difficult things to find in a Virginia vineyard is a property that “checks all the boxes”. Although I aim to offer my clients tailored itineraries, sometimes you’re just on the hunt for a property that hits the Big Four:
2. Customer service
3. Quality wine
4. Good Value
You may be wondering why I list wine third? I’ve had more than one good glass of wine sour to vinegar on the palette if the atmosphere and customer service just aren’t there.
It can be especially hard to find this elusive combination at a property that accepts large parties. Breaux Vineyards does so graciously, in addition to offering perks like behind the scenes tours of the barrel room, tank room and vineyards, paired with a private group tasting of 8 wines for just $25!
Favorites from the tasting were the Equation Red Blend- a wine that drinks easily and tastes more expensive than it’s $17 price tag.
Madeleine’s Chardonnay ($24) was also lovely, with nice apple and pear fruit, a creamy and full mouthfeel from the sur lie aging process, and a crispness from the stainless steel fermentation.
The Cellar Club exclusive Nebbiolo- an Italian varietal not generally seen in Virginia- was also exquisite, a bottle of which made it back to DC.
We were lucky to visit on a harvest day, and happened upon a crew hard at work culling the Cab Franc from the vines to beat the rain- just one winemaker’s harvest nightmare! Luckily, 2013 looks to be a promising vintage for Breaux Vineyards, and much of Virginia’s wine country!
For more pictures, visit my facebook album of the visit.
Have you been to Breaux? What was your favorite wine?
What do you look for when visiting wineries? Have you ever had a great wine ruined by less than stellar customer service?
I’m excited to announce an expansion of services Bon Vivant will be offering to DC area clients! We’re in close proximity to a number of Virginia wineries and vineyards, and I look forward to offering wine country concierge services.
With so many options to choose from, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently touring Virginia wine country- sussing out the good, the bad and the ugly for myself!
One of the things that’s become increasingly apparent is that not all Virginia wine (and wineries) are created equal! There are a number of quality vineyards that offer guests varying experiences.
The good news is, there is a vineyard out there to meet almost anything you’re looking for in an excursion- whether it’s scenery, world class wines, large group tours, behind the scenes experiences, exclusive wine pairing dinners in elegant settings, bachelorette excursions, as well as intimate and serene getaways (see my recent post on Linden Vineyards!).
With so many options to choose from, I aim to offer my clients highly tailored wine concierge services, custom designed for each client to show you some of the very best of what Virgina Wine Country has to offer- no matter what it is you’re looking for in your excursion!
Checking out the Cab Franc at Breaux Vineyards during Harvest! 2013 is looking like a promising vintage!
What do you look for when visiting vineyards?
My Desert Island Wine
As much as I encourage people to try new wines, we all have our favorites- the ones that we come back to again and again. Occasionally, I’ll be updating the blog with reviews of some my own tried and trues, many of which you may notice popping up on the Bon Vivant DC facebook “Currently Sipping” album from time to time!
A recent interview with a vintner introduced me to the concept of a “desert island wines”- the one wine that you couldn’t live without if you lived out the rest of your days in isolation. And so, I think it only appropriate to start this series with one of my top contenders: AN2.
This is the wine we pull out when invited to a dinner party or when we have friends over. Or, often, just because! I’ve never served it to anyone that didn’t love it- in fact, usually there’s a fight over the last dregs of the bottle!
From the Spanish island of Mallorca, this medium bodied red is comprised of lesser known varietals: old vine Callet, Mantonegre, Fogoneu and Syrah fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete. It’s then aged for 13 months in a combination of French barriques and American oak.
This wine balances earthy and fruity notes in perfect harmony, resulting in an elegant wine that’s both easy drinking and nuanced. There are spicy notes, in addition to a light smokiness to balance out the bright fruit notes- most notably raspberry and cherry. Its medium body and high acidity make it intensely food friendly, and it goes well with a variety a of dishes.
We’ve paired it with everything from charcuterie, to pork, red meat, and have enjoyed more than our fair share sans food.
It’s generally priced around $25 at area retailers, and worth every penny!
What are some of your “tried and trues” that you come back to again and again?
A Cal-Italian with a Rich Family History of Winemaking
I recently attended a “Meet the Winemaker” event at Veritas Wine Bar. It was wonderful to taste so many new wines, but it was even more interesting to hear the stories behind the bottle.
Mario Monticelli is the winemaker at Trinchero, a winery located in California’s Napa Valley.
Chatting with Monticelli over a glass of the well-balanced and easy drinking Chicken Ranch Merlot, he told me an incredible history of wine in his family.
His great grandfather immigrated from Italy, importing wine into America before later returning to Italy during prohibition. 2 generations later, Monticelli’s father came to the States from Italy as a child.
Monticelli told me of growing up drinking wine around the dinner table, a glass of water with just a splash of wine mixed in as a young child, progressively graduating to proper glasses of the family grown wine.
Trinchero produces around 12,000 cases of wine a year, including five single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. Monticelli described these single vineyard productions as a “Cabernet for every occasion.” Some skew decidedly old world in style- a nod to the Old Country with subtle and earthy notes. Others exhibit the big, bold, juicier characteristics one would expect from a Napa Cab.
When asked his favorite wine, Monticelli hesitated. He’s obviously proud of his single vineyard productions, as he should be, but described the Meritage as his “desert island” wine. One of the most versatile wines in the Trinchero portfolio, the Meritage is intensely approachable. “You can pair it with anything you like: salmon, steak, chips…”
Tasters at the event agreed, “I would definitely take this to a dinner party if I didn’t know what was being served- it’s easy drinking and hard not to like!”
Visit the Trinchero website for even more family history, photos, and information about their wines.
What would your “desert island” wine be?