Beware the 2013 Grand Cru Chablis

September 1, 2014

Following is a brief lead-in to a review by George Feaver, which I modified to reflect Rehoboth. “As summer slowly backs away, the grills fire up against the dying of the light...The linen-draped tables are all stocked with chilled rosé, edible centerpieces, cherished friends and family. The family dogs twitch from their full day of frolicking. The breeze is just enough to make the candlelight dance. A slew of Hickman’s cowboy rib eyes rest on the grills and the sizzle is like a thousand cicadas, which is soon joined by the steady popping of corks. Smell the truffled frites, the foraged mushrooms with fresh thyme and butter, the pureed parsnips, followed by the clarion call, Chateauneuf for all!"

Chateau Mont Redon 2010 CdP was recommended here on release in early 2013 at $25. When Tanzer and Raynolds laid on 93s, it rocketed to $50 and has settled back into the $40s. Those who have a DC connection can find some at MacArthur Beverages for $36. Drinking window opens next year. This wine is lovely. Will cellar thru 2025. Clear ruby-colored, it opens with a lovely bouquet of raspberry jam, wood shavings and garrigue with pie spice notes. However, it is on the palate that Mont Redon really explodes with juicy raspberry, cherry and smoky mineral flavors. The soft tannins are framed with proper acidity. The balance is on the money, and the finish is very long with a graceful floral aftertaste.

Gary’s is having its usual end-of-summer sale. Hire Jean Lafitte to smuggle in a few bargain selections. Unfortunately, our state Legislature has made it illegal to have wine shipped in at fair prices; another sweetheart deal for their generous benefactors, the wine distributors. Oregon Pinot Noir is getting more rave reviews as the industry matures. Many are starting to compare parts of the Willamette River Valley to the best Red Burgundy production regions. In 2010, top producers such as Beaux Freres, Bergstrom, Penner-Ash, and Peterson-Nedry, after a late budding and a cool summer, decided to roll the dice and put off picking well into October. The autumn weather cooperated and they hit huge home runs with wonderful, slowly ripened fruit. Be very careful when buying in this market. The best producers are usually overhyped by an effusive press. In many cases, prices spiked only to return to a mean later on. The best example may be Beaux Freres Upper Terrace Ribbon Ridge releases, many of which are maturing but selling lower than their opening price.

Try to find a bottle or two of The Beau Freres Vineyard Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge 2010 rated 94 points by Tanzer WS and 93 by several others. Beau Freres has several labels, so be careful to buy the specific label named here. These wines are highly hyped, and there are no bargain buys. Expect to pay around $80/bottle. I did see a case buy at $850. Violet ruby-colored, it opens to a varied and complex bouquet. Cherries, blackberries, pomegranate, cola, Asian spices, red grapefruit, and vanilla waft from the glass with proper aeration. On the palate, fruit forward, lovely balance between subtle, well-integrated tannin and racy acid. The fruit gives a sweet sense, but the wine is dry. It finishes very long, smooth and spicy. Reminds me of Grands Echezeaux and it deserves every bit of 94 points.

If you bought any of the Grand Cru Jean Brocard Les Clos Chablis 2005 when I recommended it for your cellar back in early 2007 these two facts should make you very happy. The drinking window was 2009-20 and they are lovely right now. You paid less than $168/case in January 2007 and they are now selling for $790-864/case. The 2010s are even better. Current price $828/case and if the world doesn’t blow up they should increase in value at least times five. We can all wish inflation will disappear, but it doesn’t seem likely. Both won gold at International Wine Challenge. Grand Cru Chablis is wonderful stuff. There are only seven of them. They are named Blanchots, Bougros, Grenouilles, Les Clos, Les Preuses, Valmur and Vaudesir. These age well, at least 15 years. Since 2003, 90 points, the worst vintage scores are 92 or better. Beware the 2013. The report was not very optimistic. I have yet to sample any.