Monthly Archives: October 2011

Put A Cork In It !

Sometimes I think that wine producers do not make the best wine they can but make the wine which is easiest to make and easiest to sell. It is easier to make Chianti if you add international grapes and put it in barriques.  In California, it is easier to make a wine with 15% alcohol.  Just before writing this article I read a very interesting post by Alice Feiring entitled Death of French Wine (as we know it)   The French are also a part of this and  Alice calls it a struggle between “real wine vs. fake wine.”

 Which brings me to the subject of this article, Cork versus Alternate Closures, in particular screw caps. Are screw caps used because they make the wine better or are they used because they are easier, less expensive, and do not allow the wine develop in the bottle so that it always tastes as if it has been just bottled?

  The Wine Media Guild did a Cork vs. Alternate Closures tasting last month. A few years ago they did a similar tasting and one of our members, Jonathan Levine, had the foresight to take and save the unopened bottles so that we could do the tasting again. I missed it the first time as I was in Italy so I was looking forward to this one.

Michel Laroche

 The tasting sheet for the event had the wine with the cork first followed by the wine with the screw cap. The speaker, Michel Laroche of Domaine Laroche, said it should be the other way around so we changed the order; I will get back to the reason for this later.

 Domaine Laroche is a name very well known in Chablis. They are both a négociant house and an estate. Michel runs the family business and has been responsible for its development. He introduced the screw cap into Chablis and for a while in the US you could get his Chablis with a cork or a screw cap. Now I believe all of his Chablis that comes to the US has a screw cap. In France there is more resistance to the screw cap but he believes that they will come around, especially the restaurants.

 The big advantage to the screw cap is that the wine in the bottle will “never” be “corked” and have that wet newspaper and cardboard smell and taste that does not go away. This is caused by 2, 4, 6, Trichloroanisole, better known simply as TCA. Wine can be infected with TCA that is in the barrels and in the cellar including the walls and ceiling, but TCA in the cork seems to get all the blame.  It is a big problem and at least 10-15% of all wines are corked. The other advantages are that the screw cap is easier to open and the wine will not become oxidized.

 But what is given up in return is that every bottle tastes exactly the same as when it left the winery. Christian Moreau, a well known producer of Chablis, said at a recent Chablis seminar that I attended “… Chablis will taste different from vintage to vintage and even bottle to bottle”. This is true for vintage to vintage and for wines with a cork, but not those with a screw cap. With a screw cap, the bottles will all taste the same–too young and too fresh–just the way they left the winery.

  Is this what Mr. Laroche intended for his wines?  Wines that will not develop in the bottle and not have those nuances and character that give a wine its personality.

Does older wine with a cork become oxidized?  If you drink older wine that has a cork in it does it mean you must like oxidized wine? I do not think so.  All of the Chablis at the tasting were from the 2002 vintage and not one of them had even a hint of oxidation.  At a dinner some months ago I had the Rene & Vincent Dauvissat 1993 Chablis Les Clos and it was showing no signs of oxidation.

The wines of Domaine Laroche

 As I tasted through the wines in every case I liked the wine with the cork better- I even tried them blind and still liked the wines with the cork better. The difference was slight with the regular Chablis but became more pronounced in the premier cru and grand cru wines. There was a very big difference in the grand cru Les Blanchots screw cap and cork and the biggest difference in the grand cru Les Clos screw cap and cork. These two wines had developed into classic Chablis thanks to the cork.  One bottle of the les Blanchots was corked – I do not know if Mr. Laroche put it in to prove a point? (At the WMG we always have two bottles of each wine.)

  In fact when we voted for which wines we liked better screw cap or cork, even Mr. Laroche voted for the Les Clos with the cork. Mr. Laroche rightly changed the order of the wines because the screw cap would be lighter and fresher and less developed than the one with the cork. If the wine with the cork was tasted first, being more developed, it would overwhelm the screw cap bottle.

 I have tasted a number of wines with screw caps, synthetic corks, and with glass stoppers in the last few years. Mr. Laroche believes that a wine with the synthetic cork will pick up the odors from it if the wine is kept for a period of time. With a screw cap, you can have s similar problem, the wine coming into contact with a “metallic substance.”   Mr. Laroche said that if a “natural substance” is used between the cap and the wine, this problem will not occur.  As for a glass stopper I once asked an Italian winemaker why he stopped using them and he said that he was afraid the glass might crack and some might fall in the bottle. If TCA can be present in the barrels and in the cellar walls and ceiling, is it then possible to get a corked wine with a screw cap?

 My conclusion is that if a wine is meant to taste fresh and youthful just as it did when it was bottled then it might be alright to use another type of closure, the best of which I believe is a screw cap. This would leave the best cork for those wines that are meant to age and develop their character and personality in the bottle. Wine is a living thing and needs to develop in the bottle. Does anyone really what to drink a wine right off the bottling line?

Members of the WMG tasting the wines

 Here is how the WMG members voted on the wines.

 Wine Media Guild of NY                                                    October 5, 2011

Corkvs. Alternate Closures Part II

Speaker: Michel Laroche, Domaine Laroche



Number = number of preference votes in 2011

BOLD indicates the wine was the preferred bottle in 2007.

** indicates “strongly preferred” In 2007




14 Chandon Prestige Etoile Brut, MV Cork

5 Chandon Prestige Etoile Brut, MV   Crown Cap 

1 No preference

 I voted for the cork on all three of the Chardon sparkling wines.

9 Chandon Prestige Etoile Rose, MV  Cork

5 Chandon Prestige Etoile Rose, MV Crown Cap

2 No preference

 10 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2002  Cork  

12 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2002  Screw Cap ** 

1 No preference

 4 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru les Vaudevey 2002  Cork  

17 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru les Vaudevey 2002  Screw Cap **

1 No preference

 16 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Blanchots 2002 Cork   8 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Blanchots 2002 Screw Cap 

1 No preference

 16 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Clos 2002  Cork

5 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru les Clos 2002  Screw Cap 

1 No preference

 On the wines listed below I found only a very slight difference

4 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005  Cork 

9 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005  Screw Cap 

4 No preference

 4 Jean-Claude Boisset Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2005  Cork 

7 Jean-Claude Boisset Hautes Cotes de Nuits Blanc 2005  Screw Cap

4 No preference



9 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005  Cork **

2 Jean-Claude Boisset Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005  Screw Cap

3 No preference

 7 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Tri County 2002  Cork

7 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon Tri County 2002 Diam Cork **

1 No preference


Filed under Chablis, Cork, French Wine, Screw Caps, White wine

The Perfect Combination: The Wines of Donnachiara at Gattopardo NYC

The Perfect Combination: The Wines of Donnachiara and the Food at Il Gattopardo NYC

Some things are perfect –such as a luncheon featuring a wine producer from Campania and a restaurant that specializes in the food of Campania and Southern Italy. This was one of the best events of this type that I have been to in a very long time.

Ilaria Petitto speaking about her wine

Ilaria Petitto is the daughter of Chiara for whom the Donnachiara Winery ( is named.  Ilaria said that the land has been in her family for generations but the winery began production in 2005.  It is located in Montefalcione, in the heart of the area where the three main Irpinian DOCG wines, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Taurasi are produced. She told us that they want to make wines that are true to the tradition of the area and therefore only produce wines made from traditional grapes.

Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. The soil is chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest  takes place the first week of October. Fermentation takes place for 40 days. Illaria Petitto referred to the method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Frederico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.)  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers of arancini di riso con piselli and mozzarella e sugo di vitello. It would be great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $ 20

Falanghina Beneventana IGT 100% Falanghina. The soil is chalky clay, there are 2,500 vines per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation in stainless steel at controlled temperature for 40 days. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation and does not see any wood.

The wine was fresh with hints of citrus and floral aromas and flavors, good acidity and is a very pleasant wine to drink. $18. It was very interesting to taste both the sparkling and still Falanghina side by side. The sparkling tasted like Falanghina with bubbles, as it should!

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay; there are 4,400 plants per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 90 days. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation and does not see any wood. This is an elegant wine with good body, dries fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of tropical fruit.  Parmigiana di zucchine con provola e salsa al pomodoro (zucchini parmigiana with provola cheese and tomato sauce) had a wonderful aroma and was so light it almost melted in your mouth. Both wines went very well with the dish but I gave the nod to the Falanghina. $19

Aglianico IGT 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, training system is Guyot and there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in the second week of November. This wine does not see any wood. The wine is aged in bottle for 6 months. This is a very aromatic wine with wild berry aromas and flavors and hints of blueberries and cherries. $18

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 4 to 6 months in 225 liter French barriques and 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. Ilaria said that the winemaker Angelo Valentino did not want the wood to be more important than the wine so he uses mostly second and third passage barriques. This is a more complex wine with hints of berries and prunes and a touch of spice. I could not tell the wine was aged in oak but as IIaria said the winemaker is very careful when it comes to oak. Paccheri alla “Genovese” Napoletana (pasta tubes with an onion sauce) accompanied it. Even though it has the name “Genovese”, it is a typical Neapolitan dish. Few restaurants serve it in NYC and none do it this good. $20


Taurasi DOCG 100% Aglianico, The soil is clay, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged in 225 liter French barriques for 12 months and for 24 months in bottle before release. This is a big complex wine with berry aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and plum and a touch of cacao and coffee. This was the only wine where I could feel the oak. It was subtle and did not mask the character of the wine. Carre d’ agnello arrosto con patate e spinaci saltata (rack of roasted lamb with potatoes and sautéed spinach). 

The lamb knocked me over–I turned to Gianfranco Sorrentino, the owner of Gattopardo, who was sitting opposite me, and said to him, I will give you the greatest compliment I can about your food and this lamb–it is as good or better than in Italy. $36

Greco di Tufo DOCG 100% Greco. The soil is tuffaceous, the training system is Guyot and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. Fermentation for about 90 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine had flavors and aromas of citrus, pear and a hint of pineapple. It was served with dessert, La Pastiera(a cheesecake made with orange and wheat berries.) This is the traditional Neapolitan dessert served at Easter and I have been told recently during Christmas. Michele makes it every Easter. $20


Filed under Aglianico, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, White wine

The Amarone Families and the 2001 Vintage for Amarone

 Twelve wineries from the Valpolicella area of the Veneto Region of Italy have joined together to promote in international markets the tradition and quality of what they feel is one of the finest red wines of Italy: Amarone.  They call themselves the Amarone Families and recently came to New York to promote Amarone with a seminar and walk around tasting.

Stefano Cesari of the Brigaladara winery is the official spokesperson for the Families. He began the seminar by citing the criteria for membership:

 Must be a family owned winery, hence the name: Amarone Families

Must be producing Amarone for 15 years

Must be a producer and not just a bottler

Must export to several major markets

 They also have their own rules and as Stefano pointed out these are stricter than those allowed by law:

Their Amarone must be 16% alcohol (the law 15%) and aged 30 months (law 20 months)

They will not produce Amarone in off vintages, e.g. 2002

 Mr. Cesari said that weather conditions during the growing season and the drying of the grapes, known as appassimento, are equally important.  In fact a cold winter is very good for the appassimento.

Stefano Cesari

  He said that the 2001 vintage was like the 2011 vintage.  Flowering took place around June 5th which is very early because it was a hot spring.  He also found it very strange and could not explain why Easter was early in the season and so was the flowering.  June, July and August were very dry and there was rain the first week of September. They began harvesting on September 10 which is early.

He said the 2001 was a very good vintage. Since 20011 had the same weather conditions he hoped it too would be a very good vintage but they would not know for sure until after the appassimento.

 The grapes used in making Amarone: The Primary grape is Corvina 40% to 80%. Corvinare may be substituted for Corvina for up to 50% of the amount. Rondinella between 5% to 30% and other authorized and recommended varieties up to 15% of the total, of these no more than 10% of any single variety. A few producers use Oseleta which is a new addition to Amarone. In the past Amarone for the most part was made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Other varieties that are sometimes used are Rosrignole, Negara and Dindarella.

 There were 12 wines at the tasting, one from each of the Families. There was also at least one member from each family to speak about Amarone in general and their own wine.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC “Casa Vecie” 2001- Brigaldara (Stefano Cesari). The wine is made from 40% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 20% or other approved grapes. It is aged in barriques for 24 months and 24 months in barrels made of oak and six months in bottle before release. This was the only wine that did not have any Corvina in it. Even at 16% alcohol it was a very elegant wine with aromas and flavors of dry fruit, hints of cherry and spice, good acidity and a nice finish and aftertaste.


Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC “Vigneto Monte Sant’ Urbano 2001Speri (Luca Speri). It is made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Corvinone. Manual selection of the grapes takes place the first two weeks in September. The grapes wither and dry in “fruit drying rooms” for 120 days. It is done in ideal conditions of humidity and ventilation. The grapes lose 41% of their initial weight and there is a considerable increase in the amount of sugar. The pressing of the dried grapes took place on January 8th 2002 with a roller crusher-destemmer. Maceration took place in stainless steel tanks for 35 days with periodic pumping over and délestage. On February 5 there is the separation of the skins from the juice and complete alcoholic and malolatic fermentation take place in 50HL oak barrels. The wine was then aged in 500 liter oak cask for 36 months and in bottle before release.  There were deep dry cherry aromas and flavors with a hint of oak, good acidity and a nice mineral quality to the wine. The finish and aftertaste had the sensation of dry cherry skins.

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2001Tommasi (Pierangelo Tommasi) The wine contains 50% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The grapes are dried for four months prior to a gently pressing and then vinified. It was aged 35 hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels. Tommasi has always been one of my favorite Amarones. This is classic Amarone at its best with a great finish and aftertaste.

 Pierangelo Tommasi explained the appassimento in more detail and why the Amarone Families dry their grapes at least one month longer.  He said that the drying of the grapes during the winter was as important as the flowering and the maturing of the grape during the spring and summer. The “Families” decided to dry their grapes one month longer than required by law until January 1. The colder the weather the better it is for drying the grapes. The grapes used for Amarone are thick skinned and can take a long drying period. This longer winter drying makes the resulting wine more concentrated. Only after the drying period takes place do they know if the juice is good enough to be made into Amarone. They only make Amarone in the best vintages.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Ambrosan” DOC 2004  Nicolis (Mariella Nicolis and Martina Fornaser) 70% Corvina 20% Rondinella and 10% Croatina. After the grapes are harvested, they are placed in small boxes and transferred into a large room where the grapes will be dried. The grapes wither and naturally lose weight and gain a high concentration of sugar. After 3 months of drying, the withered grapes are softly pressed. Due to the low temperature, the process of fermentation is long and slow and maceration can take a month or more. The wine is aged for 30 months partially in medium-sized Slavonian oak casks and partially in small oak barriques. The wine remains in bottle for 8 months before release.  Their 2001 did not arrive in time for the tasting. This was a little different and it might have been because the wine was 2 years younger than most of the other wines. There were touches of vanilla and toasted oak but this did not mask the character of the wine.

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC “Monte Ca Bianca” 2001  Begali (Bruno Bullio) 40% Corvina 35% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. The grapes are left to dry during the months of September and October. After a careful selection the grapes go to the “fruithouse” to dry where they stay until January. The wine is aged for 40 months in French oak barrels and 8 months in bottle before release. This was a very approachable wine. It has good fruit, and soft tannins, a wine to drink now.

Bruno Bullio spoke about the differences between Corvina and Corvinone and that they are two different varieties.

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2001 Venturini (Ilenia Pasetto) 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Traditional drying and fermentation in bunches.  Maceration is for 40 days with daily remontage. The wine is aged for 24 months in oak barrels and for 6 months in bottle before release. This was very aromatic elegant wine with a lot of tannin and good subtle fruit.

 One of the speakers made the point that there is volcanic soil in the area and the roots of the vines go very deep so that even in dry conditions the plants can obtain water.

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2001 Allegrini (Silvia Allegrini) 75% Corvina Veronese, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. 18 months in new French barriques and 7 months in Slovenian oak barrels and 14 months in bottle before release. Silvia Allegrini said that they do not produce a single vineyard Amarone. This wine was a little too modern for me and I wish they would go back to making wines like they did in the past.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Riserva Classico “Sergio Zenato” DOC 2001 (Nadia Zenato) Zenato 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta and Croatina. The grapes are picked by hand and become raisin like after 3-4 months of drying in small trays with one layer of grapes well spaced out to allow good air circulation. Maceration lasts between 15 to 20 days. This is a good restaurant wine, ready to drink and a little on the modern side.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Mazzano” DOC 2001 Masi (Raffaele Boscaini) 75% Corvina , 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinari. Masi has the best description of the traditional appassimento, the drying of the grapes. Beginning at the end of September or the beginning of October the best grape bunches are laid on bamboo racks in the lofts in farmhouses in the vineyard, where large windows permit natural ventilation. By the middle of February the grapes weight 35-40% less. They are partially affected by botrytis (noble rot) due to the cooler climate of the high hills after a delicate pressing. The dry grapes, still on their stalks, ferment for 45 days in large Slavonian oak barrels at low natural temperatures (the season is very cold). Then the wine continues to ferment until the sugar has been totally transformed into alcohol and malolatic fermentation takes place. Masi ages their wine for 3 years in Allier and Slavonian oak barrels of 600 liters of first, second and third passage. The wine is then aged for a minimum of 6 months in the bottle before release. I have been a fan of Masi wines for a long time. This is a big, elegant wine but dry plum aromas and flavors, good acidity and a dry finish and aftertaste.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Capitel Monte Olmi” DOC 2001 Tedeschi (Maria Sabrina Tedeschi) 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30 % Rondinella and 10% Oseleta, Negrara, Dindarella,Croatina and Forselina. They have the best description of the modern appassimento. Manual selection of the best bunches takes place in the middle of September. The drying of the grapes takes place in a fruit drying facility where they are able to control the temperature (cold temperature process), ventilation and humidity. The grapes after about 120 days lose about 40% of the original weight and so increase the sugar content and change their extract and flavor. The pressing takes place in January with a roller crusher.  Tedeschi does not destem the grapes. The fermentation and maceration last about 45 days at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks with periodic pumping over. They age the wine in Slavonian oak barrels 20/30 Hl for about 2 years. The wine is filtered and bottled. The wine is aged for 8 months in bottle before release. I always liked the Tedeschi wines even before I interviewed Maria Sebrina over a year ago. This wine is elegant and complex at the same time, with very good fruit, hints of raisins and a great finish and after taste. Maria Sabrina said the wine was selling very well in Asia.

 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Campo Dei Gigli” DOC 2001 Tenuta Sant’Antonio (Aldo Steccanella ) 70% Corvina and Corvinone , 20% Rondinella , 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta. The grapes are picked and double sorted by hand and laid out in wooden trays. If I understood correctly the wine is vinified in open 500 liter tonneaux-French oak barrels-in an air conditioned environment. Natural alcoholic fermentation takes place between 60 to 70 days with pumping over by hand in wooden barrels. Natural malolatic fermentation is in 500 liter tonneaux barrels. Batonnage is done once a month for the first year. Natural stabilization of the wine takes place. The wine is aged for 3 years in tonneaux and for 12 months in bottle before release. This was a little oaky but not over the top and there was a certain freshness to the fruit in the wine.


Amarone Della Valpolicella Riserva  DOC 2005 Musella (Maddalena Pasqua di Bisceglie) 70% Corvina and Corvinone, 15% Riondella and 15% Oseleta. Their 2001 did not make it to the tasting so they had to show the 2005 which was a good but not outstanding vintage. The appassimento takes place on a plateau, in a well naturally ventilated loft. In January the grapes are gently crushed and after fermentation, maceration takes place in steel tanks of 100HL. Regular remontages two times a day and the wine is then transferred to French oak barrels of 2,000 liters. Assemblages are in steel tanks of 100 to 200HL. The wine is aged for 24 months in barrels and for 12 months in bottle before release. This was a 2005 and a little more difficult to judge against the 2001 vintage. Maddalena said that 2005 was a good year.

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Filed under Amarone, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine

More Chablis, Please

Whenever we drink Chablis, Michele says we should drink it more often.  At a League of Gentlemen dinner about a year ago we drank the René and Vincent Dauvissat 1993 Grand Cru “Les Clos” and for me it was the wine of the evening. For dinner at our apartment a few weeks ago friends brought the 2007 “Les Cos” and Michele turned to me and said “…why don’t we drink Chablis more often?”

 Then I received an invitation to a Chablis Seminar and Tasting at Bouley Test Kitchen.

The seminar was being given by Mr. Christian Moreau and Jean-Marc Beocard, both well know producers of Chablis. I was being attacked by Chablis on all sides.

 Linda Lawry of the International Wine Center started the seminar off by making a few remarks about Chablis. One of the points that she made was that the producers in this region say that they do not make Chardonnay, they make Chablis, and Chablis is on the opposite end of the spectrum from over-oaked Chardonnay. Linda also noted that 60% of Chablis is exported. This she felt was because it is such a well known and well received wine. She then introduced the two principal speakers; Christian Moreau and Jean-Marc Beocard. From the beginning they made it quite clear that they were here not representing their wines, but the region of Chablis and therefore none of their wines would be part of the tasting.

 Mr. Moreau was the first to speak and said that Chablis may not be for everyone. This is because the producers make Chablis for themselves and not for the market. They do not make Chablis for the American market, Japanese market, etc. or to please the critics.

Mr. Moreau making a point

 True Chablis, continued Mr. Moreau, is unique because of the place, the soil, the microclimate and the way it is made. The climate and soil here are very different from the rest of Burgundy. The soil in Chablis is limestone and chalky clay called Kimmeridgean and consists of fragments of fossilized shells, including a large amount of oyster shells, deposited by the sea that once covered the area. This many account for the mineral character of Chablis.

  Mr. Moreau said that Chablis never tastes the same from vintage to vintage and bottle to bottle. He believes that Chablis is an excellent food wine and that a grand cru Chablis goes very well with cheese. I had this experience a few weeks ago and I could not agree more. We had the 2007 “Les Clos” with a selection of cheeses and I had to admit that white wine may go better with cheese than red wine. The combinations were great. Of course the classic dish with Chablis is oysters.

 There were eight wines in the tasting and Mr. Moreau began by speaking about the 2009 vintage. He said it was a good vintage, had good acidity and was easy to drink. But he did add that the 2009 vintage will be ready to drink before the 2008 vintage.

 There are four different types of Chablis: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.

Petit Chablis 2009 Domaine Chistophe Camu This was an easy wine to drink with good acidity, hints of citrus, a nice finish and pleasant aftertaste. Mr. Moreau said it would make a very good aperitif.

 Petit Chablis 2009 Domaine des Malandes This one had a little more body, good acidity and minerality with earthy aromas and citrus flavors.

 Mr.Brocard spoke about the next two wines:

 Chablis  2009 Clotilde Davenne Domaine Les Temps Perdus  Good acidity, easy drinking wine.

 Chablis 2009 Domaine Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin.   This was my favorite of the first four. It had more structure, brighter citrus fruit, and good minerality and tasted like classic Chablis.

 Mr Beocord said that malolatic fermentation always takes place in the wines of Chablis. This is because they are so far north and they do not have a problem with acidity. In fact they are so far north that they can have a problem with spring frost.  They do not want a wine that is fruity and up front because wines like this are not meant to age and Chablis can age for a number of years. He also said that 2007 was an excellent vintage.

 Chablis 1e Cru Mont de Mont de Milieu 2009 Domaine Nathalie et Gilles Févre

This is a light, very elegant wine, well balanced with good acidity. The vines are 30 years old and barriques are used but only 5-6% are new.

 Chablis 1e Cru Vaillons 2007 Domaine Billaud-Simon.  The Vaillons vineyard is 11 hectares and as far as I know this wines was aged in stainless steel. It was a very well made, elegant and well balanced wine.

 Chablis Grand Cru, 2007 Château Grenouilles La Chablisienne.  This is the Grand Cru of the cooperative of Chablis which I believe is a two hectare plot. This wine had the most wood but it did not interfere with the Chablis character.

 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2006 Domaine William Févre. This wine had the most bodyand was drinking the best of all the wines. I believe the winemaker here believes that Grand Cru must have oak aging but he also believes that new oak does not belong in Chablis.

 The only problem with the seminar was that the speakers were not talking about their wines but the wines of other producers and could not go into too much detail about each wine.

 There are seven Grand Cru Vineyards in Chablis and both speakers made it clear that there would not be any expansion of the Grand Cru. There is some confusion as Mr. Moreau pointed out as some producers use propriety names on the label as a Grand Cru. These however are all within the Gran Cru area. He repeated again “there are only 7 Grand Cru in Chablis.”

 Mr. Moreau said that he uses barriques but only a small percent are new, 3 to 5%. The rest are second, third, fourth and even fifth passage.

Mr. Moreau and Mr. Beocard

 Both Mr. Moreau and Mr. Beocard believed that some barrique aging was good for Chablis.  Chablis can take the oak aging and it enhances its aromas and flavors. The oak should always be very subtle.  The term “Chardonnay” was never mentioned!

However he also mentioned that there are producers that only use stainless steel for their Chablis and strongly believe that Chablis has so much going for it, that it does not need oak.

 When the tasting was over we were given a copy of “The Wines of CHABLIS and the Grand Auxerrois” by Rosemary George.

 I was very pleased with the way the wines were showing and would agree with the statement that Linda Lawry made at the beginning that Chablis is at the opposite spectrum of over oaked–dare I use the word– “Chardonnay”.


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