With entertaining season upon us, we thought we would put together a convenient selection of well-priced magnums that come in mighty handy with large groups. All are versatile crowd-pleasers, and your guests will thank you for having the wisdom to serve such delicious wines in this convenient format that keeps everyone’s glass full.
The latest release of the Lassalles’ tête de cuvée marries the power and drive of the vintage with a velvety texture acquired from a seven-year élevage. This blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a Champagne of luxury, from its decadent golden tinge to the fine, persistent bead that playfully caresses the palate. Uncorking this euphoric elixir will guarantee a ceremoniously delicious occasion.
From one of the grandest terroirs in the Beaujolais, on the slopes of an inactive volcano, Château Thivin’s Côte de Brouilly seamlessly fuses pleasure, class, and intellect. Roasted birds or lentils with sausage are two of my favorite pairings.
Our Bordeaux selection is different. Young buyers whose parents did not have a cellar of old “clarets,” as the English say, might be surprised, because ours aren’t all jam and new oak. Ours have intensity, but not from high alcohol. Ours don’t enrich chemists and enologists. Our producers don’t make fortunes by following fashionable trends. Here is a bright, deep-colored red that can age for decades, yet you’ll want to draw from the well right from the start. Gombaude is surrounded by famous names. It is made by Claire Laval. I don’t know if her low price is due to sexism, but why not take advantage of it? Gombaude has been farmed organically for decades and is now biodynamic. Biodynamic Pomerol! Top that if you can. I advised you to put Claire’s 2009 down in the cellar for your old age and for your children’s inheritance. They’ll love ya for it, believe me. Now I can say with just as much enthusiasm: cellar the 2010, too. It is as great a vintage and very different. Here you’ll find loads of bright, fresh fruit, including raspberry, and a classic Bordeaux balance of tannin and acidity.
The great Dioterie vineyard, on the white chalk slopes of Sazilly along the Vienne River, is on the opposite side of the river from Chinon’s most famous terroirs. It produces, with great regularity, a Cabernet Franc that is very dark in robe, structured, blue- and black-fruited, and muscular. It has an uncanny ability to age, as the bottles we have tasted from the seventies and eighties so adamantly attest. Please inquire about magnums.
A well-balanced, easy-drinking Merlot with all the depth and complexity one would want, without being overweight and bloated. From an ancient clone of tiny, widely-spaced berries, this is fresh with great structure and character. Settle in with a nice meal and enjoy the journey within this bottle.
The first of many words to come to mind when I think of the Montanets and their wines is unpretentious. In an era of unfortunate and rampant “luxurization” of Burgundy, here is a family that has achieved enormous success in France, as well as in export markets the world over, yet manages to keep a modest approach in all they do. Value, drinkability, organic farming, and noninterventionist winemaking are the pillars of all their wines. How often are those words associated with Burgundy anymore? We’ve been working with the Montanets for nearly fifteen years now, a partnership that was a no-brainer, given that Bernard Raveneau first taught Jean Montanet the techniques and importance of getting things right in the vineyard before anything comes into the cellar, and it was Marcel Lapierre who showed Jean the splendor and purity of natural winemaking. It has always been and remains a great pleasure to work with Jean and his son Valentin, both of whom are ever smiling, ever optimistic, and quick to joke at their own expense. But don’t be fooled. Their wines—every last one of them—are world-class, serious, and, most important, delicious Burgundies.
The 2013 Bourgogne Vézelay Blanc “Galerne,” from their Montanet-Thoden label, is grown on the ancient limestone soils that put Vézelay on the wine map. That limestone provides a Chablis-like precision, and the local northern wind (Galerne) on this parcel keeps the grapes dry and ripe, giving ample body and character, too. Here’s the perfect representation to show why Vézelay has its own appellation.
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