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Many red Burgundies are made of the varietal grape

June 25, 2018

Can you spell police state? Should I move to North Korea or Cuba? Solace in a glass is my only out. Fortunately, tomorrow my children will be in town to brighten my spirits. I'm home for the day, so Katie, bar the door. Just put finishing touches on Grove Market wine list. I had a lot of fodder this week. Before I get started, want to tip my hat to page-mate Denise for last Friday's piece on Corvina. Excellent Ted! 

Frank Family Vineyards Napa Carneros PN 2014 won't break the bank, around $30. Medium-bodied PN with ripe cherry and blackberry. Savory and herbal notes in the mid palate thru finish. Sweet, intense with supporting acidity. Long clean finish; 91 points. Their 2014 Reserve Petit Sirah is also excellent; 92 WS. Not for timid wine bibbers. Dark and expressive, with deep garnet color.

Opens with aromas of blackberries, graphite and crushed rose petals. A mouthful with concentrated blackberry and black cherry flavors, plenty of acid and tannic backbone.

Please allow this to stand in your glass or decant the bottle. Best cellared two years. Anna Amie PN Willamette, 2016 is a complex Oregon 90 McD winner at $25. Blueberry, strawberry, sassafras, cardamom, black currant aromas; sweet dark cherries, baking spice and cassis flavors.

The long finish shows rich, tannins and balancing acidity. Try with roast duck, lamb, venison, forest mushrooms, smoked meat or seared tuna. Going way upscale Chauvinet-Chopin, Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, 2006 is remarkable now. Blackberry, black currant, spice and mineral flavors, riding round full palate, vibrant structure and refined tannins. WS wrote 94 in 2010:

"Tightly knit, yet not stingy, with a long aftertaste of cherry and mineral." It is better now, but at the end of its shelf. If you bought any back in 2012 drink it. The 2012 are going for about $90.

A note to newer or less experienced readers: many red Burgundies are made of the varietal grape, Pinot Noir, but not all. One major exception is Beaujolais which is made of Gamay Beaujolais. Most White Burgundies are made of Chardonnay.

There is a great deal written of this French wine region (Departement, there are 96 in France and five overseas). Two good sites for exploring "Nouvelles" are: https://vinepair.com/wine-101/guide-burgundy-wines/ and https://winefolly.com/review/guide-to-burgundy-wine-with-maps/ Did you know Burgundy was roughly one-fifth the size of Bordeaux? 

Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse Maconnais 2013, 90 points, $26. Aromatic of peach, smoke, pineapple and oak. Dry, medium body with crisp acidity and a creamy core. solid fruit palate and a crisp, clean finish. I remember when diners called this puuly fuuise and Cali still had "Chablis," which leads me to Cali Chards. Nice segue, hey? Au Bon Climat, Santa Barbara County, 2012 was one of my favs at 92 points. Barrel fermented, left on lees then two years in new oak barrels. apple and barrel spice nose; smoky long finish. Gone, but not forgotten!

You can find the 2014 under $27. Jim Clendenen is the force since the '80s. The 2014 has flinty, stony aromas with sharp barrel-driven spice note from sur lee aging. Lemon/lime and vanilla flavors. Will improve thru 2024. Clendenen claims,

"As it evolves, try this wine with chanterelle mushroom pasta and be amazed." May the force be with him. Many modern soms and the skinny set name his wines "old fashion." While slathering over: Ch. Petrus; Screaming Eagle; Dm de la Romanee Conti, Montrachet Grand Cru. The Montrachet is $8,415 per bottle, mes amis,

They claim to love the modern, austere, less oak stuff. Check out the description on the "Montrachet," Dense gold. very rich and honeyed on the nose. Savory, not sweet, dense, smoky, toasty and buttery, with a firm acidity." Don't get me wrong; these are indeed lovely. Call me plebian, but for that single bottles price, I'll take 10 mixed cases. Please include: 2014 Cakebread Cellars Reserve Chardonnay - butterscotch, creamy, peach, well rounded, rich, lush apple, brioche, with a complex finish; Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay, 2013 - apple, honey, yeast, rich pastry brioche, firm long finish; and 2011 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay - tropical fruit, creamy, hazelnuts, with rich pastry and baked apple finish. I'd have enough left for a big tip to the clerks for their help.