Posts Filed Under elegant wines

Blanc de Blancs, In The Nude (Jacques Lassaigne Recent Releases)

Vinted on September 16, 2015 binned in crowd pleaser wines, elegant wines, on the road, wine review
Emmanuel Lassaigne

Emmanuel Lassaigne, measuring booze levels during press

If you’re in the bubbly business in the Aube (the southern region in France’s Champagne-Ardenne), then you have to make peace with the fact that, compared with the popular Épernay and Ay to the north, you’re basically the red-headed stepchild of Champagne.

Unless you’re Emmanuel Lassaigne, who crafts the bubbly at Champagne Jacques Lassaigne.

In that case, you unabashedly make wine from vineyards in Montgueux, which, being technically a chalky outcrop of the Côte des Bars in the Aube, might be considered the red-headed stepchild of the red-headed stepchild. Emmanuel Lassaigne’s purpose in life seems to be to birth a modern Montgueux Champagne naked and screaming into the world wine market.

Calling Lassaigne’s Champagnes “high acid” would be like calling the blood from Alien “mildly corrosive.” But they might be the purest expression of place available from the Aube: all Chardonnay, all from one area, mostly all zero dosage, all disgorged by hand, all eschewing quality “ranges,” all treated with as little sulfur as possible, and all adored by the way-too-cool-in-its-own-mind cadre of hip sommeliers on both coasts of the USA.

MOG jacques lassaigne

“Material other than grapes” during press at Jacques Lassaigne

“Here,” Lassaigne told me, “we try to do ‘wine’ before we do ‘Champagne.’ We don’t take any security. It’s a choice of life. Challenging is very interesting, and doing the same thing is always boring. We’re always at the edge…”

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Carricante (Highlights From Sicilia En Primeur 2015)

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Message to Etna: No devastating explosions while I’m visiting, ok?

It’s somewhat ironic, as I kick off a series of posts about my press jaunt to Sicily earlier this year, that the wine region I often cite as a source of reasonably-priced wines made from international varieties will now be compressed into a highlight reel focusing primarily on one indigenous variety.

But hey, we gotta keep it real, so my take on the 2015 Sicilia en Primeur event (in its twelfth year, showcasing the wares of some of the island’s best producers) will orbit like a satellite around my new-found vinous luuuurv, the Carricante grape.

Much more from my Sicily jaunt is coming (and there’s been a teaser of sorts published last month via one of my final pieces) but today is a cross-cut from the walk-around tasting at en Primeur, with my takes on some of the juice that I found particularly intriguing.

Sicilia en Primeur 2015 Etna

Sicily is entering an interesting time (interesting in both the American and British senses of the word).

It continues to produce a fairly substantial amount of wine, though plantings have decreased by about fifty percent in just over fifteen years (a combination of economic realities and a renewed quality focus). There might never be a better time for Sicily to try to capitalize on its entrenched U.S. market opportunities (hello? how many Italian restaurants are there in Manhattan alone?), with the 2014 vintage being hailed as “la vendemmia perfetta.” There’s serious potential there, if they can get ti together and get some of these wines into the mouths of importers/buyers/consumers. But since we’re talking about Italian politics here, there’s certainly a non-zero chance that they’ll squander it.

Speaking of the wines, best that we get to those before I get myself into trouble (and/or before this all starts reading like the lyrics to a Soronprfbs song)

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Wondrous Stories (Chris Carpenter Recent Releases)

Vinted on July 22, 2015 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine review
Cardinale Tasting Room

The “office” (Cardinale Tasting Room, Napa Valley)

In no time at all he took me to the gate
In haste I quickly
Checked the time
If I was late
I had to leave, to hear your wondrous stories

-YES, Wondrous Stories

How does one tell a story (in this case, a fairly wondrous liquid story) when the primary architect of that story’s plot (the winemaker) isn’t a part of the experience?

The options, as I see them:

1) Don’t

2) Let the wine tell the story

3) Make a sock puppet of the winemaker and create a video with overdubbed quotes from said winemaker, using sock puppet as the stand-in.

We’re going with option #2, folks.

KJ Mountain vineyards

Get yer’ hikin’ boots on, peeps!

Because despite the fact that the winemaker in this case (the celebrated and much, much too tall Chris Carpenter) was on the other side of the planet (Australia) when I was able to visit and taste through his high-end Kendall Jackson-owned portfolio reds earlier this year, the wines in that portfolio that most excited me are well capable of telling us their own wondrous stories (so option 1 is out).

And also because I lack any socks long enough to accurately represent how tall Chris Carpenter is (eliminating option 3).

The least expensive of these featured Napa Valley beauties is… $75. So, a budget-picks cheat sheet this article is not. While these ges are pricey, they spin hedonistic yarns that are all but impossible to ignore…

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