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Maison Joseph Drouhin, Mercurey (Burgundy, France) 2015 ($23, Dreyfus, Ashby & Co.)
 Mercurey, a small town in the Côte Chalonnaise in Southern Burgundy, is an especially good place to look for values in 2015.  The extra warmth of the vintage helped these less prestigious sites.  Compared to Drouhin’s Rully, from a neighboring village in the Côte Chalonnaise, this Mercurey has more earthiness accompanying its bright fruitiness.  The signature suave tannins and delicacy that marks the Drouhin style is quite apparent.  It’s a steal! 
90 Michael Apstein


Posted by Michael Franz on April 18, 2018 at 2:17 PM

Wine Tip: Don't Get Dug In, Because Palates Change

There are a couple of good reasons why, in my view, consumers should be wary of establishing rigid preferences or settling on "favorite" grapes or producers--much less adopting anything as their "house wine" (an idea so dopey that it that makes me shudder).

One reason is that the wine world is changing so fast that any stationary preference is probably irrational.  But another is that personal preferences tend to shift--sometimes quite markedly--over time.

For example, I got started tasting seriously and writing professionally at about the same time as my friend and fellow WRO contributor Paul Lukacs.  When we got started, I was very enthusiastic about big wines from California and Australia, and Paul much preferred leaner, earthier wines from Europe, especially France.  Then we largely flip-flopped:  I gravitated toward French and Italian wines while Paul's interests and affections shifted toward California. 

Today, Paul has become much more critical (on grounds of overt sweetness and excessive alcohol) of wines from California made in a style he used to defend, and I've found much more to like about New World wines once again, especially from the Southern Hemisphere.

I don't believe that these shifts have anything to do with our palates becoming "better" along the way; it is just that our tastes and interests have shifted, and I suspect that they will continue to shift.  And I, for one, think that is a healthy thing.

By contrast, when I'm in a retail store and overhear someone ask a consultant for a Chardonnay by Jordan or Cakebread and refuse any substitute that is proposed (even from another California producer who makes Chardonnay in a similar style), I want to grab him by the lapels, give him a good shake and say, "Man, what are you thinking?  Have you ever tried a Chablis from François Raveneau?  How much are you going to learn from yet another bottle of Cakebread?  Do you know that there are renditions of Chardonnay out there that could completely change your frame of reference regarding the grape and rocket you into a parallel universe?"

Naturally, I understand that wine buyers--like any other consumers--return to reliable favorites because they don't want to be disappointed.  However, love of wine is inherently intertwined with a spirit of adventure.  After all, if avoidance of disappointment were really one's prime objective, it would make much better sense to drink beer or spirits, which are made to recipes, and don't change from vintage to vintage, as wine does.

So, please, don't stick with old stand-bys...strike out in search of new wonders!

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Pinot Gris for Spring
Paul Lukacs

Pinot Gris is a perfect springtime white wine. It comes in different styles. On the racy side, there's Grigio, the taut, tart Italian rendition of this capricious grape variety. Richer and lusher wines simply are labeled Gris. Picked when fully ripe, they can be redolent of apricots, pears, and golden delicious apples, with a honeysuckle-tinged bouquet and a rich, mellow finish. Alsace in northeastern France used to set the standard for Pinot Gris, but many of the wines made there have become quite sweet, and equally good dry examples come these days from many parts of the winemaking world--including Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and on this continent, British Columbia, California and Oregon. This is the season to try them.
What Goes With What? Vintners Weigh In on Favorite Food & Wine Pairings
Marguerite Thomas

As co-writer of WRO's column Wine With, I spend a lot of time thinking about specific foods and wines and how they might, or might not, go well together. Food and wine pairing choices can be personal and sometimes quirky (popcorn and Champagne), or obvious and unanimous (steak and Cabernet). One thing I've learned about the subject during a long career of interviewing and frequently sharing meals with winemakers and others directly connected to wineries around the world is that many of these men and women take selecting the 'right' wine to go with a particular meal very seriously. Of course this is not a universal preoccupation--many vintners, like many consumers, do not really care all that much about what goes with what as long as the wine is good. Still, people who work with wine all-day-every-day are inclined to have pretty definite ideas about what wines will best flatter the food they like.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Jambalaya with Duck Legs

Vocabulary.com begins its definition of jambalaya as, 'a Cajun dish with rice and a variety of ingredients. It has a little of everything and it's very spicy.' They aren't kidding when they mention 'a little of everything.' Among ingredients that turn up in various jambalaya recipes are turkey, chicken, ham, shrimp, oysters, and even alligator. Some jambalayas are made only with stock (chicken, beef or vegetable) while 'red jambalaya' includes tomatoes. Obviously there is a lot of leeway here, although certain things are sacrosanct when it comes to jambalaya: Rice, spice (which can range from moderate to blazing), and a 'trinity' of celery, onions and bell pepper. As opposed to gumbo, in which the rice is cooked and served separately topped with the other ingredients, in jambalaya the rice is simmered along with everything else.
On My Table
Transcendental Wine
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

I tasted the wines of Dalla Valle Vineyards this week and immediately knew that I must share that experience, even as I struggled to determine what would be the single, salient point to make about them. Great wine, admirable wine -- undoubtedly. But many wines are great in their own way: What is the seed of greatness in these wines? Elegance of expression within the powerful Napa Valley Cabernet paradigm? The voice of an estate that sings across three separate wines? The importance of family as the guiding light of a property and its wines? (Okay, I'm verging into sentimentality now, but the family is a mother-daughter team whose story makes 'heart' a living element of terroir.) The wines of Dalla Valle -- Collina Dalla Valle, Cabernet Sauvignon, and an icon wine called Maya -- embody all of these aspects of greatness. They are beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon-based Napa Valley wines that do not overplay the power card and yet are built for long aging.