Category Archives: Burgundy

Dinner with The League of Gentlemen

The League of Gentlemen has not gotten together in a long time to have dinner and drink wine. Since last week was the birthday of one of our founding members, some of us decided to celebrate his birthday at one of his favorite restaurants, Marseilles in NYC.  The theme was Burgundy but as always we started with Champagne, and there were a few surprises.

Champagne Blanc De Blancs Cramant Grand Cru 2008 Lilbert-Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from the Cramant in the Cote des Blancs. Most of the fruit comes from the Buissons vineyard that has very little topsoil and at 40 centimeters below the surface there is pure chalk. The vines were planted in 1936 and have a full southern exposure. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Dosage 7g/l. This is a crisp, complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit and white peaches and hint of pear.

Meursault 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils 100% Chardonnay. Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. They harvest by machine and allow other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used for 10 months. The wine has hints of honey and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity.

With the Champagne and the Meurasult we had oysters, clams and crab

Clams 

Crab meat

Volnay Taillepiedes 1er Cru D’ Angerville 1998.  100% Pinot Noir The domaine’s plot of Taillepieds is 1.o7 hectares at the top of the hillside of Volnay, south of the village. The soil of Taillepieds is very poor and rocky. Its steep slope, the thinness of the soil and the particularly solar exposure give the wines of Taillepieds its finesse and elegance. The owner Jacques D’Angerville’s believes in non –intervention winemaking which he learned from his father. “ I want to do as little as possible to the wine,” he says.  After destemming, fermentation lasts for 10 to 12 days, with a 15 to 18 month élevage in mostly used barrels. To extract fine tannins, the cap was kept moist by twice-daily pump overs. This was drinking very well with nice Pinot Noir flavors and aromas.

Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “La Croix Rameau” 2002 D’ made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is pebble alluvium and the vines are 40 years old. The vineyard is situated at the bottom of Romanée Saint Vivant and is part of the Clos des Neufs Journaux that was previously owned by the monks of Saint Vivant. Croix Rameau is the smallest 1er cru in the Vosne-Romanée, just 6 hectares. Harvest is by hand and the use of any chemicals is avoided. The present owner Jean-Jacques Coudray-Bizot like to quote his grandfather Dr. Bizot who was a surgeon and wine maker at the Hospice du Beaune. When it comes to wine “you have to hurry up and wait.”  This is very traditional Burgundy, opulent and meaty with nice fruit and hints of spice.

Gevrey – Chambertin  Dominique Laurant 1998 100% Pinot Noir  Dominique Laurent produces wines from his small négociant business in Nuits-St-Georges. He sources fruit from very old parcels and his offerings range up and down the Cote d’Or. He makes his own barrels and only uses Tronçais wood, selected by him, and air dried for at least 3 years and in some cases 7 years. He sells barrels to other Burgundy producers. Dominique finds plots of old vines in the best part of interesting vineyards. The wine is delivered early in the New Year from the producer who has vinified it, sometimes under Dominique’s directions. The wine may be transferred to new barrels, never racked, because it is essential to keep all the gas from the original barrel. The wine is aged without the addition of sulfur until ready for bottling.  This was a 1998 but did not seem as if it was ready to drink.

 

Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello “Santa Cruz Vineyards” 1988 made from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. This was the surprise and it was served blind. This is a big wine but the label said 12% alcohol. I know many like this wine but I stopped drinking it after a few sips.

With the red wine we had steak

Muscat-Trockenbeerenauslese 1995 NO 5 (Austria) Kracher. The winery is in Burgenland an hour southeast of Vienna near lake Neusiedi. The area is ideal for the development of “botrytis cinerea” (noble rot). This was the perfect way to end a wonderful dinner.

 

 

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Tasting the 2015 Vintage at Domaine Antonin Guyon

One of my favorite producers of Burgundy is Domaine Antonin Guyon, a family-owned winery started by Antonin Guyon in the 1960’s. The estate in the Cöte d’Or is controlled and operated today by Antonin’s sons Dominique and Michel. Last year at a tasting in NYC, I met Hombeline Guyon, the daughter of Dominique, who along with him manages the day to day operations of the winery. Hombeline said if I was in Burgundy I should visit the estate.

Soon after the tasting Michele and I made plans to stay in Beaune for a week. The Guyon estate is only a short taxi ride from Beaune so we contacted Hombeline and made an appointment to visit the winery.

It was a beautiful fall day when we arrived at the winery and were greeted by Hombeline. She showed us around the winery and then we went for a tasting of wines from the 2015 vintage.

Hombeline said that 2015 was not only a great vintage but a remarkable one in Burgundy.

Hombeline said that they have 47 hectares of vines producing wines from 25 different appellations. The domaine owns vines around the hill of Corton.  The southern limits are in Gevrey, Meursault in the south, the Cötes Nuits in the west and the Chorey-lès-Beaune in the east.

Hombeline

She said that all the grapes are picked by hand from the first selection (triage) of the vines. Some of the pickers are regulars and have been coming for 25 years. They want to get the grapes to the vat-house within 30 minutes of picking.

Cleaning a wine barrel in the cellar

At the curerie there is second triage on the sorting table. Then the red gapes are completely destemmed and placed into large, temperature controlled, open-top wooden fermentation tanks. There is about one week cold (10-12C) maceration, one week at a maximum of 30C and one week of post–fermentation maceration. Twice daily pigeoge takes place (in the purest Burgundy tradition) before gravity sends the wine to barrels in the cellar below. 50% of new oak is used for the grand crus and less for the other reds. She made the point that they were moving away from new oak for all their wines.

For the whites, the grapes are whole pressed with a relativity light touch of the pneumatic press, the juice then settles and is racked in the barrels. The wine remains on the lees for as long as possible with a weekly batonnage. The wine is bottled after 12 months, with the exception of the Grands Crus Charlemagne and Corton Clos du Roy, which stay in barrel for about 18 months.

Before we began the tasting Hembeline said she likes to taste the red wines before the whites.

Gevery-Chambertin “La Justice” 100% Pinot Noir the soil clay and limestone. Long fermentation for 20 days takes place. Aging in oak barrels, 30% new, and estate bottled after 18 months. This is a round and well balanced wine, rich and complex with hints of cherry.

Savigny lès Beaune “Les Goudelettes” 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is clay and limestone. Aging in oak barrels, 15% new and estate bottling after 15 months. This is a well balanced elegant wine with hints of red fruit. This wine can last for another 8 to 10 years.

Chambolle – Musigny “ Les Cras” 100% Pinot Noir the soil is clay and limestone. There is a long fermentation of 20 days. The wine is aged in oak barrels, 30% new and estate bottled  after 16 months. The wine has hints of violets and red cherries with a silky texture. It has a very long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.

Pernard Vergelesse 1er Cru-Sours Frètille 100% Chardonnay. Soil is white marl.The wine has hints of citrus fruit notes with a touch of hazelnuts and mineral notes.

Meursault Charmes 1er Cru “La Charmes Dessus” 100% Chardonnay. The soil is white mais. The wine is aged in oak barrels 30% new and estate bottled after 15 months. This is a rich tasting wine with notes of honey. Hombeline said the wine can last for a least another 10 years.

After the tasting she offered me one of the open bottles to take back to the hotel to drink. I picked the Savigny-lès-Beaune and we enjoyed it with pate in the hotel.

Last month the Wine Media Guild held a Burgundy tasting and I was able to taste the Savigny-lès-Beaune again. It was drinking even better than I remembered and it is a bargain at about $40.

 

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Burgundy’s Domaine Antonin Guyon a Family Affair

One of my favorite producers of Burgundy is Domaine Antonin Guyon a family owned winery started by Antonin Guyon in the 1960’s. The estate in the Cöte d’Or is controlled and operated today by Antonin’s sons Dominique and Michel. I was very please when Ed Mc Carthy invited me to a tasting of these wines at the office of the imported/distributer Esprit Du Vin. It would give me the opportunity to taste a number of their wines from different vintages side by side.

Hombeline Guyon

The speaker was Hombeline Guyon, the daughter of Doninique Guyon, who alone with him manages the day-to-day operations of the estate.

Hombeline said that they have 47 hectares of vines producing wines from 25 different appellations. The domaine owns vines around the hill of Corton, the southern limits are in Gevrey, Meursault in the south and the Cötes Nuits in the west and the Chorey-lès-Beaune in the east.

She said that all the grapes are picked by hand with from the first  selection(triage) of the vine. Some of the pickers are regulars and have been coming for 25 years. They want to get the grapes to the vat-house within 30 minutes of picking.

At the curerie there is second triage on the sorting table. Then the red gapes are completely destemmed and placed into large, temperature controlled, open- top wooden fermentation tanks. There is about one week cold (10-12C) maceration, one week at a maximum of 30C and one week of post –fermentation maceration. Twice daily pigeoge takes place before gravity sends the wine to barrels in the cellar below. 50% of new oak is used for the grand crus and less for the other reds. She made the point that they were moving away from new oak for all their wines.

The wines are produced in the “vat-house” in Savigny-lès-Beaune

For the whites, the grapes are whole pressed with a relativity light touch of the pneumatic press, the juice then settles and is racked in the barrels. The wine remains on the lees for as long as possible with a weekly batonnage. The wine is bottled after 12 months, with the exception of the Grands Crus Charlemagne and Croton Clos du Roy, which stay in barrel for about 18 months.

It was a very impressive tasting with 9 red wines and 11 white wines.

I recommend all the wines that I tasted. The 2011 and 2012 were showing better because they were older. But these wines also needed more time before they will fully develop. Domaine Antonin Guyon is one of the great values in Burgundy. The wines range from around $25 a bottle to around $200 a bottle, which is a great price to quality ratio. I also have a number of bottles of older vintages in my cellar.

Hombeline said that 2015 was not only a great vintage but a remarkable one in Burgundy

Reds

Hautes Côtes De Nuits Rouge “Les Dames De Vergy” 2011 and 2012

Chambolle-Musigny Village Les Cras 2012

Gevery Chambertin La Justice 2011 

Volnay 1ER Cru Clos Des Chênes 2012 and 2013

Corton Bessanders Grand Cru 2012 

Corton Clos Du Roy Grand Cru 2011 

Charmers Chambertin Grand Cru 2011

Whites

Bourgogne Blanc 2014 

Pernand-Vergeless 1ER Cru Sous Fretille 2012, 2013 and 2014

Meursault- Charmes1ER Cru Les Charmers Dessus 2011, 2012 and 2014 

Puligny- Montrachet 1ER Cru Les Pucelles 2012 and 2013

Croton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2012 and 2011

 

 

 

 

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Champagne, Old Wine, and Lamb for Easter

With temperatures expected to be in the 80’s on Easter Sunday, we invited friends to come for lunch at 2:00 PM so we could sit on the terrace and enjoy our Champagne and appetizers al fresco. It was windy but we managed by holding on to the Champagne glasses. Just as we finished, it started to rain so we had to go inside to enjoy the rest of the meal. 

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1993 Millesime Rose is made from 100% Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the most renowned vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to ensure the structure and long aging potential that is essential to this exceptional Champagne. 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as still red wine. It was showing its age but still with some red fruit and brioche in the finish and aftertaste. It was very drinkable.

Bourgogne Aligoté 2005 Domaine Bachelet 100% Chardonnay This is an elegant wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, livery and fresh with nice minerality and showing no signs of age.

Mazoyères-Chambertin 1945 100% Pinot Noir  Chanut Frères. It was drinking very well for a wine this old.

With this wine we had risotto with porcini mushrooms and sausage

Gevrey-Chambertin “En Pallud” Domaine Maume 100% Pinot Noir. The vines are 70 years old and the soil is clay and limestone. There is separate vinification of individual parcels. Clusters are 100% destemmed. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in mostly older barrels and is bottled without fining or filtration. This is classic Burgundy at its best.

With it we ate lamb chops in a crisp breadcrumb and Parmesan crust with sauteed green beans and carrots.

Còte-Ròtie “Còtes Brune et Blonde” 1981 E. Guigal 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier. The average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation in closed stainless steel tanks, temperature controlled for about 3 weeks with automatic punching down. The wine is aged for 36 months, 50% in new oak. This is for the more current vintages. I do not know how they made it back in 1981! This is a wine with hints of raspberry and blackberry with a touch of spice. It is a complex wine with a lot of red and dark fruit aromas that are striking for a wine this old–the fruit still comes right at you.

We had this with two cheeses: Parmigiano Reggiano and Fontina Val D’Aosta.

For dessert, Michele made a flourless chocolate cake topped with whipped cream and raspberries.

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A Happy Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving lunch started at 3:00 PM instead of the usual 4:00 PM. There were six people and six bottles of wine.  Ernie and Louise De Salvo, and Travis Scott and Nicole Serle – owners of Turtledove wine store in Manhattan joined Michele and I.  It was a fun evening with great food, wine, company and a lot of laughing.

We started as always with Champagne.IMG_4389

Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009 100% Pinot Blanc Cédric Bouchard. The champagnes from this producer always impress me. The vineyards are farmed using organic methods and simple guyot pruning. There are 8,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand harvested and crushed by foot. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. The wine is unfiltered and unfined and low or no dosage depending on the vintage. I believe they produce only single vintage, single vineyard wines that are fermented and aged in stainless steel with as little interference in the process from the winemaker as little as possible.  The bubbles were very small and the wine had a crisp, fresh taste with bold citrus fruit flavors.  It worked very well with the smoked salmon mousse Michele served as an appetizer.

The first course was a chestnut soup, which was made by Louise, a great cook and bread baker.IMG_4390

With the soup we had the legendary Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. I love this wine and it had that great combination of leather and cherry that makes it so wonderful and unique.Turkey

Michele stuffed the turkey with fennel, rice and sausages and there were maple whipped sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Michele made a mostarda of figs and cranberries that I could not stop eating.

We had three wines with the Turkey:IMG_4391

Volnay 1er cru Les Champans 1973 Domaine Joseph Voillot 100% Pinot Noir. There are 23 Acers of vines, harvesting is by hand and there is a selection of bunches both in the vineyard and the cellar. Vinification takes place without the stems and the wine is moved by gravity into barrels. The use of new wood is kept to about 1/3 of the total. This is a great expression of Pinot Noir and one which expresses the terroir and the grape at their best

I like Amarone with Turkey and all of the trimmings.  These were exceptionally good.IMG_4392

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997 & Recioto della Valpolicella Amorone Classic Superiore 1983 Bertani. 70 % Corvina Veronese 30% Rondinella-this is the present blend.
Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the guyot method with 5,000 vines/ha.

Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.IMG_4393

Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster those grapes richest in sugar and extracts are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine is transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years. The 1997 was a big ripe wine and needs more time in the bottle to develop. The 1983 was
dry, full-bodied, and amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice a great wine and was not showing any signs of age.

 Both 1997 and1983 were excellent vintages for Amarone.IMG_4394

Malvasia Maderia Favilla Vieria 1920 Reserva Velha Barbeito 100% Malvasia. We had this with a Stilton cheese that we had purchased in Fortnum & Mason when we were in London a few weeks ago. This was a very elegant Madeira but with enough body to make it a perfect combination with the cheese.IMG_4395

For dessert Michele made an apple tart tartin and prune ice cream made with Agen prunes macerated in Vielle Prune liqueur.  It was the perfect way to end a great evening.

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Easter Dinner with Friends

Easter 2013

Every year for Easter dinner, Michele makes roast leg of lamb.  This year, however, she decided to make chicken because one of our guests does not eat red meat.  The Pat La Frieda chickens that we buy at Eataly in NYC are expensive but very flavorful and perfect for the way Michele prepares them.  She stuffed them with herbs and roasted them on slices of garlic-rubbed ciabatta bread to catch the chicken juices.  The chicken and the crunchy bread are eaten together.  For an appetizer, there was a salmon mousse, perfect with the Champagne.IMG_2970

The first course was a timbale of rice and eggplant.IMG_2969

The WinesIMG_2976

Cuvee Dom Perignon 1988 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy supplied the wine and this is what he says about it in his book Champagne for Dummies – the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and it complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” He said that 1988 was a great vintage.IMG_2975

Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Brut Rose 2000 Made from 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay. It was light salmon like in color, light bodied for a Rosè , fresh, delicate and elegant. I should have served the Billecart before the Dom Perignon, as the Dom was a bigger wine.IMG_2973

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 1988 (Graves) 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc  The wine spends 18 t0 22 months in oak barrels of which 80% are new. Classic Bordeaux and could have used a few more years of bottle age.IMG_2977

Latricières-Chambertin Grand Cru 1971 100% Pinot Noir Domaine Louis Remy. This was classic Burgundy showing no signs of age and went very well with the chicken.IMG_2972

Barolo Riserva 1967 Borgogno 100%  Nebbiolo -the wine was decanted and topped from the same vintage and recorked in 2005. This wine was beginning to show some age but was still showing very well. It is interesting to note that Sheldon Wasserman in his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1985) gives the 1967 vintage 2 stars and says,  “For the most part there is no reason to hold them any longer.”

A few days earlier I had a 1958 Borgogno that was in perfect condition and even seemed young and had not been recorked. There are no great wines, only great bottles of wine. This was served with the timbalo of eggplant and rice.IMG_2971

Rioja “Viña Tondonia” Rioja Alta 1947 R Lopez De Heredia 75% Temparillo, 15% Mazuelo and 10% Giaciano all from their own vineyards. The soil is alluvial clay with a high proportion of limestone.  Harvesting takes place in October and is by hand. They use French barriques along with barrels ranging in size from 60hl to 240hl. The oak comes from the Appalachian mountains in the U.S.A. This is one of a handful of wineries that make their own barrels. They use oak casks to ferment the wine as they use completely natural traditional methods of wine making. The wine is aged in barrels for 10 years, racked twice a year and fined with egg whites. The winery is over 136 years old.

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Filed under Barolo, Burgundy, Champagne, French Red, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, R Lopez de Heredia, Rioja

A Special Lunch With Friends

I always enjoy visiting my friends Louise and Ernie.  Louise is an excellent cook, and Ernie has a great collection of wines but most importantly, we really enjoy their company.  Conversation never seems to end and we always have a lot of fun.IMG_2644
On our most recent visit, the first two courses were  prepared by their 17-year-old grandson, Steven, who has been interested in cooking and eating well since he was a young child.  While Steven was in the kitchen preparing, we were in the living room drinking Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Noirs 2008 Cédric Bouchard, a perfect way to begin the afternoon.IMG_2636
With Steven’s first course, sparkling fresh sushi with watermelon and yuzu, Ernie switched to the Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Blancs    2008 Cédric Bouchard. The champagnes from this producer always impress me.  I believe he only produces single vintage, single vineyard wines and that they are fermented and aged in stainless steel and the winemaker interferes in the process as little as possible.  The bubbles were very small and it had a crisp, fresh taste with subtle citrus fruit flavors that would make it go very well with food.  This producer also makes a Champagne from 100% Pinot Blanc!  The fresh flavors of the sushi were a perfect compliment to this Champagne.IMG_2637
With the arrival of the red wines came our next course,  pappardelle with black truffles.  The pappardelle were cooked perfectly, coated with sweet butter and blanketed with shavings of aromatic truffles.  We savored every bite and thanked Steven for the delicious starters, sad to see that he had leave for his volunteer job at a charity kitchen.  IMG_2639Santenay Gravier 1985 Jessiaume Pere & Fils. 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is 4.76 hectares and the soil is hard limestone enriched with marl. The wine is aged for 12 to 15 months oak barrels, 20% new, then 5 months finishing is stainless steel bulk tanks before bottling.
It is a very elegant wine and very easy to drink.IMG_2638

Barbaresco 1978 Gaja 100% Nebbiolo was or next wine.  According to Wasserman’s Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Angelo Gaja had been experimenting with barriques in 1969. By 1976 he was in charge of the winery and began to use new techniques such as, shorter fermentation (two weeks or less), and adding 40 to 70% whole berries to the fermentation must for fruitiness and to balance the tannins and oakieness from the barriques. The 1979’s were the first wines made entirely in the new style.

A few years ago at La Pizza Fresco in NYC I was fortunate to drink the 1978,1979 and 1982 side by side. There was a marked difference in the wines. The latter two wines were more concentrated and the oakieness had taken hold. They were a different style of wine.
This 1978 is a great wine showing very few signs of age, with black fruit aromas and flavors and hints of leather and balsamic. 1978 was a great vintage.IMG_2642

Our main course was a tender and juicy chicken breast stuffed with Fontina  Valle d’Aosta prepared by Louise.
With it, we drank Barolo Riserva “Vigna Rionda Di Serralunga” 1982 Cantine Duca d’Asti, Michele Chiarlo. Made from 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia and Michet sub-varieties) Wasserman in Italy’s Noble Red Wines gives the vintage his highest rating: 4 stars. When it comes to Barolo I always felt this winery was underrated because it is better known for its Barbera and Moscato di Asti.  This is classic traditional Barolo with dark fruit and hints of leather and tea showing no signs of aging. I do not believe they make this Barolo today.IMG_2643

Eselshaut Mussbacher Rieslaner Beerenauslese 1990  Muller Catoir. This was a very interesting dessert wine. It was not very sweet and had hints of apricot, peach and a touch of orange and went very well with the dessert, pear tart with sicilian orange mamelade and whipped cream.

Watch for Michele and I on WNYC channel 25 at SD26 for i-italy|tv Saturday at 11PM and Sunday at 1PM or catch us on line.

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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Burgundy, Cedric Bouchard, Champagne, French Red, Gaja, German Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Michele Chiarlo