Etienne Oudart Champagne--Brut Référence ($50.99)
"Jacques Oudart belongs without any doubt to the upcoming stars of the Champagne area. The Oudart Family has been involved in Champagne making since the late 1950’s. They own 22 acres spread mainly over 2 regions: Vallee de la Marne and the Epernay area. This is definitively a major asset as it gives Jacques the possibility to blend all 3 grape varietals and still have the influence of all the various terroirs.
Jacques Oudart is very meticulous about winemaking and insists on extending his Champagne aging in order to hit the perfect ripeness when the bottle reaches the consumer.
Champagne Oudart’s trademark is to create elegant and fine wines. Most of the cuvee blend uses Chardonnay for its strength, Pinot Meunier for the fruit and Pinot Noir to add personality.
Bright gold color with some note of copper. On the tasting aromas of toast, brioche and hazelnuts appear. Long aromatic persistence in the mouth."
This Champagne is produced sustainably with minimal chemical intervention. The production is relatively small at 25,000 bottles per year. I sometimes find Champagne to be too "yeasty" tasting, but this one strikes a nice balance with the fruit and acidity. I find that it is great value for money, and it's nice to be able to support a smaller winemaker. I would much rather drink Oudart than Moët or Veuve.
Jerome Godon Sancerre ($23.99)
"Every few years the Sancerre area delivers a new upcoming star or young vintner. In 2012 and 2013, it was Jerome! But Jerome is not entirely a newcomer; he is actually the 10th generation of a family that has been strongly involved in the Sancerre region.
Heading the 20 acres estate, he is focusing on transmitting the true expression of the 3 terroir characteristics he cultivates:
Clay and gun flint
White stone and chalk gravel
White clay and shell
Jerome Godon’s Sancerre is a true testimony from what we know from the Sancerre wines: finesse and elegance in the wine with a touch of white peach. The consistency is pure and has just enough boldness to balance the minerality.
This Sancerre reveals great finesse, intensity and much complexity. Aromas of white fruits, citrus, blackcurrant bud and a touch of minerality make up a beautiful bouquet. In the mouth, the powerful aromas settle in with assurance, evoking exotic fruits, before a finish of superb freshness."
Sancerre of this quality at this price is a rare find. What makes this one stand out is the balance; the citrus is perfectly softened, but uplifted by the minerality. There is an elegance to the wine, but it is also fresh and approachable. This is a great introduction to Sancerre, but it might ruin you for others.
Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers ($15.99)
"This white Bordeaux wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. This bright pale yellow wine is balanced on the nose between notes of yellow fruit and fresh citrus fruit. On the palate the wine is crisp, mineral with a balanced fruit intensity making it a great with lighter fish dishes and seafood. The Chateau Castenet Entre-Deux-Mers is a good example of how you can find pleasure in the white wines of Bordeaux."
Reasonably priced, high quality white Bordeaux is hard to find, so I was delighted that Thomas brought this one to me. It's a great alternative to the usual summer go-to wines, but it has all the crispness and light body that one wants when it's hot. This is a lovely wine.
Nadine Ferrand Macon Solutre Pouilly ($22.99)
"Nadine is an amazing person and winemaker. She has an energy and determination that is rarely seen. Since 1984, Nadine has continued the family tradition of winemaking established three generations ago. Nadine took over the estate in 2000 when her husband passed away. In a very competitive environment, she managed to increase the size of the estate and bring the quality of her wines to the top, moving her to the spotlights of national television.
Domaine Nadine Ferrand is 22 acres large and produces about 60,000 bottles per year on average. Growing grapes in a sustainable way, she is particularly meticulous in caring for the vines to ensure the highest quality of grapes. The estate produces a great portfolio of wines, ranging from a Macon blanc to a well renowned Pouilly Fuisse. Her feminine and elegant touch is perceivable across all her wines. The wines are usually aged 6 to 12 months in steel tanks or barrels. The influence of wood is very limited, as she wants to keep the full expression of the fruit and the terroir.
Nadine is now assisted by her oldest daughter Marine, who shares the same passion for the family estate and the Maconnais wines.
This wine is clear, bright with a beautiful pale gold dress and green color. The nose is fresh, mineral with candied lemon and honey aromas. This is well balanced thanks to its vivacity and its minerality."
Sustainably produced with limited chemical intervention, Ferrand only releases about 8,000 bottles of this Chardonnay. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel before spending an additional 6 months in the bottle before it's released. The flavor is top-notch, with an elegant mouth-feel. This wine drinks like a bottle twice its price.
Domaine L'Amauve Seguret, Côtes du Rhône Villages "Estelles" ($22.99)
From the producer:
"The appelation area is located on the left bank of the Rhône River, near the city of Vaison La Romaine and the famous villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Beaumes-de-Venise and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Two grapes varieties typically from the Rhône Valley are grown for making our red wine”Estelles”. - Black grenache ( 75% ). - Syrah (25%).
The vine is cultivated according to the rules of reasoned agriculture. The treatments of the vine are limited, and when some are done, it is always with the useful minimal amount copper sulfate and sulfur.
This wine is partially aged in new barrels and old barrels for 12 months. The rest of the wine is stored in tanks, on its fine lees in order to preserve its freshness and fruit. At the end of the ageing, a blend is done between wines aged in barrels and the others stored in tanks. The bottling is done about 18 months after harvest.
Our red wine 'Estelles' can be appreciated as young, but can also be kept for many years. It will be fine around its fourth or fifth year and will be able to keep more depending on the vintage and storage conditions. It is a full bodied wine with tight and soft tannins. The aromatic expression is complex, mainly on spices and overripe black fruit. This wine will perfectly go with grilled meat, wild meat, red meat in sauce and cheeses."
Domaine L'Amauve produces very fine wines at superb prices. Estelles is an excellent Côtes du Rhône that demonstrates both complexity and drinkablility. It is ready to drink now, or you can lay it down. Better yet, buy two so that you can do both!