Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

“Living Patrimony” (Bollinger Champagne Recent Releases)

Vinted on October 22, 2015 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review
Bollinger house

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…”

In theory, it ought to be easy to hate on the Champagne house Bollinger.

Bollinger racksThey’re big (producing about 3 million bottles annually); they’re kitschy-famous (getting the royal warrant from the UK market in 1884, and then becoming the official Champers of agent 007); they’re fairly corporate (a staggering – and, one imagines, barely manageable – 175 shareholders); they have that other matriarch, the one with the famous and too-oft-cited quote about basically drinking Champagne all of the time (and let’s not forget that Lilly Bollinger originally resisted the release of a rosé, viewing it as “red-light district” wine, which casts serious doubts as to her sanity in my view…); and they have 5 kilometers of cellars under the town of Ay, housing 700,000 magnums full of aging wines (ok, that last bit is actually really cool).

But with Bollinger, we have a clear case of the gimcrack facade belying a core of true vinous substance (rather than the other way around). So… sorry, but the haters are gonna need to shelve that shiz for a few hundred words.

On a rainy day in September, my visit included a chat with Adjoint de Cave Denis Bunner, a young guy who had a my-job-is-really-awesome smile chiseled onto his face in a near-permanent state. He seemed to revel quietly in the history of Bollinger, dating back to when Ay was the epicenter of Champagne production. He described Bollinger as a “living patrimony” to Champagne, thanks primarily to Madame Jacques Bollinger’s tenacity: “She would say, ‘if it’s good for the wine, I don’t care about the cost; we do it!'”…

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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 Answers.com 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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Sweet Niblets! (2010 Anakota Helena Montana Vineyard Cabernet)

Vinted on August 5, 2015 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review
Helena Montana

Sweet Niblets! Helena Montana (image: Jackson Family Wines)

The gravelly, sandy soils of the Helena Montana vineyard sit about 950 feet above sea level in Knights Valley. It’s where we’ll be wrapping up the recent spate of California coverage her on 1WD (…and all the Europhiles rejoiced…).

When I visited said vineyard, I resisted the urge to shout “Sweet Niblets!” – which, I think we can both agree, was a substantial act of maturity on my part.

After tasting (twice) the results of that vineyard’s vines, in what, in my view, might be the best Cabernet Sauvignon yet produced from Knights Valley, I damn nearly went the “Sweet niblets!” route again (for the second tasting, held at home with a review sample, I’ll admit that the phrase might have escaped my lips… just once… ok, twice… whatever, just shut up about it!).

Of course, it makes perfect sense that former Armagnac guy Pierre Seillan crafted the wine that is on today’s 1WD radar, right? No?

Fine… it might make a bit more sense when we recall that Seillan is the guy behind Jackson Family Wine’s Château Lassègue in Saint-Émilion (for more on that, check out some previous coverage). Better? Ok, good.

Of course, why a seemingly sane Frenchman such as Pierre Seillan would move to the U.S. from France is a matter of debate; according to His wife Monique and their daughter Helene, Pierre was inticed by the combination of soil diversities in Knights Valley, and the freedom enjoyed within American winemaking regulations (compared to the more restrictive versions in his homeland).

In any case, fans of Knights Valley Cab ought to be glad he made the relocation…

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