Maison Lucien le Moine – Bygone Methods yielding Perfection in White Burgundy

“Dazzling pretty much sums it up" - Antonio Galloni

“Dazzling pretty much sums it up” – Antonio Galloni

 

The history of Burgundy includes the Citeaux of the Cistercian Monks – a beautiful, fine old Abbey south of Dijon – where wine was fermented on its fine lees in frigid cellars through summer months. The ancient fermentation practices recognized by the Monks of the Cistercian Order during the Middle Ages as well as the practice of selecting specific plots – or Crus – for the production of fine wines were the corner stone for today’s greatest wines of the Cote D’Or. Allowing wines to naturally ferment in barrel on their fine sediment – known as lees – produces beneficial levels of Carbon Dioxide (a natural preservative). This ancient practice allows modern proponents to avoid the overuse of Sulfur Dioxide in the winemaking practice.

 

Meet Mounir Saouma, a Lebanese monk who – along with his wife Rotem Brakir – established what has become the most talked about, Beaune-based micro-negociant in the Burgundy trade today. Mounir’s passion for great Burgundy was born from his work alongside Cistercian Monks not only in Burgundy at the Citeaux, but further blossomed during his time with the Monks while in Israel – where he met Rotem. Through the assistance of the Cistercians, the couple visited Citeaux many times together, and from there a mutual passion for the Cote’s great terroirs and the Cistercian’s vinification practices was ignited.

 

After leaving the order in 1999, Mounir established his micro-negoce with Rotem, naming it Lucien le Moine. Following the practices of old, their first guideline is to work exclusively with 1er and Grand Cru vineyard plots within the Cote D’Or – precisely as the Cistercians deemed appropriate. Taking this practice one step further, each vintage brings a new selection however as Mounir realizes that what makes Genevrieres perfect in 2004 might omit it from selection in 2007. And therein we find the magic that has made this micro-negoce the jewel of the Cote: a selection process to rival the greatest in the region.

 

Each harvest, Mounir visits his friends in Burgundy just after the harvest – when the first pressing has been completed. Once the selections have been made, the juice – jus-wine as it’s known – is placed in the Lucien le Moine barrels for aging. The le Moine barrels add yet another dimension, being from the Jupilles, which provide some of the most consistently tight-grained oak of any French forest. Toasted to the le Moine specifications, each barrel in the cellars is ordered precisely for Mounir, and Jupilles makes up 100% of the barrel selection Chez le Moine.

 

Once barreled, the juice rests on 100% of its fine lees without racking throughout its entire fermentation process. The wine is encouraged to feed upon these fine lees – through the ancient process of “battonages”, or stirring of the lees – which protects, balances and promotes complexity in the fermenting wine. During this process, the barrels are resting in the le Moine cellars, which are closed, cold, humid and very deep. And thanks to this, the malolactic fermentation process is able to last for many months – another aspect of the winemaking process that leads to exquisitely layered and profoundly flavored wines from Lucien le Moine.

 

Finally, when each barrel announces its readiness for bottling, the le Moine team bottles with respect for the ancient ways: never are their wines fined or filtered. This method allows for the naturally occurring Carbon Dioxide to be present in the finished wines, a natural element that ensures the ability for each of the Lucien le Moine wines to age gracefully for decades. And thanks to this element, Mounir recommends decantation for each of the wines when consuming them young. Each and every element of terroir – from the most sublime nuances of minerality to the brilliance of the Cote’s acidity – combine with the almost indescribable layers of extreme flavor alive in the very grapes themselves, and come together to build a taste sensation that one is not likely soon to ever forget. Tasting these wines is truly vinous perfection!

 

Just how good are they?

 

In the words of Antonio Galloni, when describing the 2010 le Moine White Burgundies, he would say:

 

“Dazzling pretty much sums it up…. This dazzling, drop-dead gorgeous wine is a pure pleasure to taste. Frankly, it is impossible to spit.”

 

And Steven Tanzer – after scoring the top wines here 99 points for 2010, succinctly summarized:

 

“The 2010s here should be extraordinary.”

 

Might be terribly difficult to locate – at a price suitable – but I assure you the search is worth it; exemplary wines!

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DuMol Single Vineyard Selections for 2011 ~ “One of the superstar sources” RP


Christopher’s Wine Country Connection


~ Robert Parker, when discussing the otherworldly, simply majestic Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from DuMol said it best:

~ “This is one of the superstar sources of tremendous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir…. Proprietor Kerry Murphy and his brilliant winemaker, Andy Smith, are huge fans of Burgundy and have searched out some of the coolest climate regions of the Russian River and Sonoma Coast to produce these wines, which all show impressive aging potential….DuMol continues to be one of the most reliable names in winedom for high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.” ~ Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

~NOTE: The 2011’s are tightly allocated…Orders will be taken 1st come 1st serve… 3 bottles of each would make the perfect 15 pack!

2011 DuMOL Chloe Chardonnay Dumol CHLOE
Retails at:  $68.00/btl
Your Price: $63.99/btl
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate:”A big, broad-shouldered wine, the 2011 Chardonnay Chloe Ritchie Vineyard stands out for its pure structure, volume and richness, all buttressed by beams of acidity. The 2011 is all about balance and richness, but without excess heaviness. This is going to be another fascinating wine to follow. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2023.”
(93) Points

2011 DuMOL Clare Chardonnay Dumol Clare Chardonnay
Retails at:  $68.00/btl
Your Price: $63.99/btl
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate: “DuMol’s 2011 Chardonnay Clare Hyde Vineyard is a classic expression of Carneros. Warm, rich and resonant (for the year), the 2011 saturates the palate with the essence of orange peel, mint, spices and a hint of French oak. The 2011 is laced with endless intensity of flavor and great overall balance. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2023.”
(94) WA

2011 DuMOL Ryan Pinot NoirDumol Ryan Pinot 2
Retails at:   $95.00/btl
Your Price: $89.99/btl
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate:The 2011 Pinot Noir Ryan Widdoes Vineyard stands out for its deep, implosive personality. Juicy dark cherries, incense, hard candy and spices all flesh out in this large-scaled, voluptuous Pinot. This is a surprisingly structured powerful wine with a seemingly bright, bright future. Today, the smokiness from the medium-toast Remond barrels is a bit noticeable, but if that element subsides over time, I expect the 2011 Ryan will come at the high end of my rating. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2023.” (92) WA

2011 DuMOL Estate Pinot NoirDumol Estate Pinot
Retails at:  $100/btl
Your Price: $94.99/btl
From Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate:The flagship 2011 Pinot Noir Estate DuMol Estate is all about balance and harmony. Nothing in particular stands out, just the wine’s stunning balance and proportion. Deep, rich and voluptuous yet backed up by serious tannins, the 2011 is an infant today. It will be great fun to see where this goes. Today, the Dumol Estate is pure sexiness in the glass! Amazingly, these vines are just seven years old. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026.”  (95) Points

2011 DuMOL Eddies Patch SYRAH Dumol Eddies Patch
Retails at:  $95.00/btl
Your Price: $89.99/btl
Wine Advocate Review on the 2010 Eddie’s Patch:DuMol’s 2010 Syrah Eddie’s Patch Hoppe-Kelly Vineyard is beautifully centered. Savory herbs, licorice, graphite, menthol and blackberries all jump from the glass. Vibrant and totally alive, the 2010 stands out for its focus and sheer verve. Another year or two in bottle should only help the 2010 show even better. Layers of fruit build to the explosive, intense finish. Simply put, this is dazzling juice. Wow! Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.”
95 WA

If your account is already established, simply reply to this post to order.

OR call me at my office number (510.749.0325) to set up an account.
All the best in wine & life,

Christopher
Wine Country Connection

cepagenoir@gmail.com
https://cepagenoir.wordpress.com/

 

Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane” Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010 ~ One of THIS Country’s Most Prominent!


Christopher’s Wine Country Connection


Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane” Hansell
Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2010
93 points, “Striking”
Wine Advocate

~ For as long as I have been following California Chardonnay (more than a decade), Walter Hansel Winery has been counted among the top half dozen when considering this country’s best producers of extremely high quality, consistently noteworthy bottlers of that varietal. When it comes to Chardonnay from America, few do it as well – as consistently – as Walter Hansel Winery.

~ Robert Parker echoed that sentiment when he reported: “For a winery founded only in 1996 (situated down the road from Dehlinger and Kistler), this estate is on fire, producing Burgundian-styled offerings that are the products of natural yeast fermentations, gentle handling in the cellars, with the Pinot Noirs kept on their lees, and no fining or filtration at bottling. If readers have not yet tasted the wines of Walter Hansel, they are missing some stunning wines.”

Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane” Chardonnay 2010

MSRP: $50
Your price: $39


~Walter Hansel Winery ~


From that inaugural review of Walter Hansel Winery’s Chardonnays, these single vineyard designated treasures have been increasingly difficult to acquire. Today, while my allocation remains, I offer you a shot at what the Wine Advocate dubbed “Striking”.

“One of the more overt wines in the lineup, the 2010 Chardonnay Cahill Lane blossoms from the glass with tropical fruit, honey, smoke, licorice and incense. Exotic in its aromas and flavors and oily in texture, the Cahill Lane captures a striking balance of depth and richness but without any excess heaviness. The personality of these Wente clones comes through loud and clear. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2015.”
93 points, Wine Advocate

If your account is already established, simply reply to this post to order, or call me at my office number below to set up an account.
All the best in wine & life,

Christopher
Wine Country Connection

510.749.0325

cepagenoir@gmail.com

Maison Lucien le Moine – Bygone Methods yielding Perfection in Chardonnay

Lucien le Moine

 

The history of Burgundy includes the Citeaux of the Cistercian Monks – a beautiful, fine old Abbey south of Dijon – where wine was fermented on its fine lees in frigid cellars through summer months. The ancient fermentation practices recognized by the Monks of the Cistercian Order during the Middle Ages as well as the practice of selecting specific plots – or Crus – for the production of fine wines were the corner stone for today’s greatest wines of the Cote D’Or. Allowing wines to naturally ferment in barrel on their fine sediment – known as lees – produces beneficial levels of Carbon Dioxide (a natural preservative). This ancient practice allows modern proponents to avoid the overuse of Sulfur Dioxide in the winemaking practice.

 

Meet Mounir Saouma, a Lebanese monk who – along with his wife Rotem Brakir – established what has become the most talked about, Beaune-based micro-negociant in the Burgundy trade today. Mounir’s passion for great Burgundy was born from his work alongside Cistercian Monks not only in Burgundy at the Citeaux, but further blossomed during his time with the Monks while in Israel – where he met Rotem. Through the assistance of the Cistercians, the couple visited Citeaux many times together, and from there a mutual passion for the Cote’s great terroirs and the Cistercian’s vinification practices was ignited.

 

After leaving the order in 1999, Mounir established his micro-negoce with Rotem, naming it Lucien le Moine. Following the practices of old, their first guideline is to work exclusively with 1er and Grand Cru vineyard plots within the Cote D’Or – precisely as the Cistercians deemed appropriate. Taking this practice one step further, each vintage brings a new selection however as Mounir realizes that what makes Genevrieres perfect in 2004 might omit it from selection in 2007. And therein we find the magic that has made this micro-negoce the jewel of the Cote: a selection process to rival the greatest in the region.

 

Each harvest, Mounir visits his friends in Burgundy just after the harvest – when the first pressing has been completed. Once the selections have been made, the juice – jus-wine as it’s known – is placed in the Lucien le Moine barrels for aging. The le Moine barrels add yet another dimension, being from the Jupilles, which provide some of the most consistently tight-grained oak of any French forest. Toasted to the le Moine specifications, each barrel in the cellars is ordered precisely for Mounir, and Jupilles makes up 100% of the barrel selection Chez le Moine.

 

Once barreled, the juice rests on 100% of its fine lees without racking throughout its entire fermentation process. The wine is encouraged to feed upon these fine lees – through the ancient process of “battonages”, or stirring of the lees – which protects, balances and promotes complexity in the fermenting wine. During this process, the barrels are resting in the le Moine cellars, which are closed, cold, humid and very deep. And thanks to this, the malolactic fermentation process is able to last for many months – another aspect of the winemaking process that leads to exquisitely layered and profoundly flavored wines from Lucien le Moine.

 

Finally, when each barrel announces its readiness for bottling, the le Moine team bottles with respect for the ancient ways: never are their wines fined or filtered. This method allows for the naturally occurring Carbon Dioxide to be present in the finished wines, a natural element that ensures the ability for each of the Lucien le Moine wines to age gracefully for decades. And thanks to this element, Mounir recommends decantation for each of the wines when consuming them young. Each and every element of terroir – from the most sublime nuances of minerality to the brilliance of the Cote’s acidity – combine with the almost indescribable layers of extreme flavor alive in the very grapes themselves, and come together to build a taste sensation that one is not likely soon to ever forget. Tasting these wines is truly vinous perfection!

 

Just how good are they?

 

In the words of Antonio Galloni, when describing the 2010 le Moine White Burgundies, he would say:

 

“Dazzling pretty much sums it up…. This dazzling, drop-dead gorgeous wine is a pure pleasure to taste. Frankly, it is impossible to spit.”

 

And Steven Tanzer – after scoring the top wines here 99 points for 2010, succinctly summarized:

 

“The 2010s here should be extraordinary.”

 

Might be terribly difficult to locate – at a price suitable – but I assure you the search is worth it; exemplary wines!

Daniel Barraud – “The King of Maconnais”

For four vintages now, I’ve been singing the praises of not only the man himself, but of every single bottle of wine that emerges from the cellars of this incredible white wine producer in the southern reaches of Burgundy.  Located in the southern Burgundian region known as the Maconnais, just a short drive south of the Cote D’Or, Daniel Barraud’s cellars can be found in the stunning village of Vergisson.  Nestled in the valley between the most massive set of limestone cliffs you’ve ever encountered, the village of Vergisson is home to the most impressive, concentrated, ageworthy and, believe it or not, undervalued white Burgundies of our time.

Daniel Barruad has been quietly and humbly bottling the most magnificent and sublime creations from the Chardonnay grape for more than two decades.  The world began to take notice, however, just 10 years ago, when a now-famous wine writer began to expose these treasures to our eager taste-buds.  That wine writer was none other than our beloved BURGHOUND, and he single-handedly crowned this genius of Vergisson “the finest growers in all of the Maconnais”

The rest, as we say, has been history.

I first began to offer a very small portion of these awesome specimens to my white Burgundy fanatics back with the 2003 vintage.  Those who bought and have subsequently tasted those powerful yet harmoniously balanced beauties have never missed a single additional offer.  These are simply too good to pass up!  And with each passing vintage, as if to show us that perfection grows with time, Daniel just keeps getting better.

This vintage, with the 2006s, once again, BURGHOUND has paid a visit to the master of the Maconnais.  I do not need to tell you the results.  Once again, like a fine Swiss timepiece, Daniel Barraud has performed with perfection.  The allocations, as always, will be small, but the quality, without doubt, is something you’ll not want to miss.

It is with extreme pride, and with great joy, that I bring to all of you – and to little M’s cellar as well (for her birth year is this wonderful 2006) – these staggering 2006s from Daniel Barraud.  Remember the words from BURGHOUND, “his 2006s deserve to be in your cellars”.

from BURGHOUND, regarding Daniel Barraud, after the cellar visit to taste and report on the 2006s:

“I have said this many times but it’s worth repeating: Daniel Barraud is without question one of the finest growers in all of the Maconnais and there is a credible argument to be made that his remarkable consistency vaults him right to the very top of the list. Yes, there are other fine growers who sometimes make wines equal to those of Barraud but this man almost never misses. And as the scores and reviews suggest, both his 2005s and 2006s deserve to be in your cellars.”
                — BURGHOUND, Issue October 2007

for details regarding current availability, to include regions and pricing, please contact me at the shop…

All the best in wine and life,

Christopher Massie
Diplome D’Honneur de Sommelier
713-524-9144
2439 Times BLVD
Houston, TX 77005
chambertin@sbcglobal.net

GOOD Wine in H-Town @ <$10 Part III

Hello again value hunters: 

Now we come to phase III of this multi-part series, a series I launched into with all the gusto my Grandfather carried to the pulpit every Sunday morning for his weekly sermons on faith and salvation.  Grandfather was a preacher, a real fire and brimstone kind of man, living his spiritual life on the Pentecostal side of the Good Book.  He instilled in me a kind of passion; a passion that often spills through in my writings on subjects of the vine.  A passion that may at times, as did his preaching, confound readers as to the precise direction of the prose.

The goal of this series, dear readers, if I may regurgitate, is singular in its direction: to bring to my readers (clients if you will) wines that currently reside not only in my place of business as items for sale, but also in my family’s home as daily drinking wines.  As Sally once said, “I like these, I really like these…”  Or something to that effect.  And I sincerely believe that you too will find these bargains, well, likable….

Today, I bring to you the White Wine Buy of the Quarter.  A wine that is just so darn quaffable that practically every work-day, by about 5:30 or so, I find myself reaching into the ‘fridge behind me for another taste.  This is one of those inexpensive South American Chardonnays that stands head and shoulders above the ocean of plonk that cascade across thoughtless shelves we encounter daily as we make our way through to the dairy aisle.  So delicious in fact is this un-oaked Chardonnay that bottles of it have invaded the top shelf of my own refrigerator at home.  The “Big Game” will see many bottles of this one tossed back, for sure!

Just a bit of back-ground tells us that this is the second label from a highly regarded and oft-high scoring property in South America: Estampa.  Located in the Colchagua Valley region, Estampa sources their second label grapes from vineyards planted alongside a mountain range where subsoils are granitic with clay loam as well.  This sub-soil, plus a consistent lack of rainfall during crucial harvesting months, offers optimal conditions for producing surprisingly high-quality varietals at fantastic price points.  With attention to harvesting reasonably low yields, Estampa consistently offers consumers some terrific bang for the buck!

 

2007 Estacion Chardonnay
Estacion / Estampa
Chardonnay Dry White Table Wine
Colchagua Valley, Chile, South America

Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
Rating: 87 points
“A Very Good wine of excellent character that often belies its price point.”
Drink: 2009 – 2011

        “Pale straw yellow in color; clarity right to the rim indicates some drinking years ahead for this charmer.  Aromatic notes of fresh pineapple, ripe yellow banana, white peach and fresh flowers sing from the glass and are never encumbered by oak in any way.  The flavors too are terrifically fresh, bright, zesty and brightened by nuances of the freshest fruits of that white peach and hints of pineapple from the aromatics.  This is medium bodied, slightly plump in the middle and totally fresh and almost Macon-like with just a hint of minerality on the zesty, palate pleasing finish.  What a delicious mouth-full of wine.”
                — Cepage Noir