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.
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.
Vignoble Charmet Beaujolais Moulin La Blanche ($19.50)
"I have known the Beaujolais from the Charmet family for as long as my memory dates. Lucien and Jean Baptiste Charmet are just the latest members of a family that started wine making in 1650!
The main focus is around the production of Beaujolais Village (in red and white). Their “Cuvees” Centenaire, Mafraise and Moulin la Blanche have been widely acclaimed by critics in France and most recently in the latest edition of the famous “Guide Hachette”.
Based 100% on the famous Beaujolais region grape, Gamay, this cuvee comes from a small plot in the southern part of the Beaujolais appellation. The vines grow on a soil with a dominance of shale and are over 50 years old. The low yield contributes to give this wine intense aromas and flavors as well as a deep length in the mouth. Only 5,000 bottles are produced on a yearly basis."
Sometimes Beaujolais, which is a wine meant to be enjoyed young, can taste too young and fruity, with an abundance of cranberry on the palate. This one, while expressing bright fruit, also has a slightly earthy balance, which leads to a longer finish and a more elegant presentation. I highly recommend this as an alternative to Pinot Noir if you are looking for a lighter-bodied red.
Clos de l'Amandaie Chat Pitre ($14.50)
"Stephanie and Phillippe Peytavy created Clos de l'Amandaie in 2002, taking over vines from Phillippe's family. They focused on making wine from Estate grown grapes and follow the Organic Farming guidelines. The name comes from the almond tree field that once was on the vineyard before grapes were planted. Today, the wines are featured in all French wine magazines and can be found on many higher-end restaurants' wine lists.
Chat Pitre is a pun that in French both means 'chapter' and 'clown cat.' It is a blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. The vineyard is located near the village of Aumelas, a terroir benefiting from a cooler micro climate. The grapes are fully destemmed. The end of the maceration is thermo-regulated to soften the tannins and features pump over and load treading to enhance aromas. The wine is aged for 6 months in tanks. Chat Pitre develops aromas of red berries (wild strawberries and currant) with a white pepper finish."
This wine is both well-crafted and approachable, combining the easy drinking table wine style with a finer complexity. This is a wonderful go-to red that will easily pair with a variety of foods, but that is also nice to sip on its own. The cat on the label is pretty cute, too!