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Propriété de L’Ètat de Fribourg, Vully (Switzerland) Pinot Noir Vignoble de L’Ètat 2016 ($22)
 Vully was not an appellation even mentioned when I first traveled to Switzerland for wine, but now… perhaps largely due to climate change and the success of pinot here… it belongs on everyone’s map.  The fruit is delicate but penetrating in flavor, which is the key characteristic of all great Pinot.  I’m not ready to claim “greatness” for this wine, but the fact that it can get that one key thing right suggests that greatness can truly be achieved with sufficient vine age and winemaking talent.  What is in the bottle now is already wonderfully impressive, with little evidence of assistance from fancy oak -- or oak at all for that matter -- yet the stable color and depth of color suggests that some must have been involved.  The acidity and tannin are matched to the fruit in a way that is, well, perfect, and the symmetries and proportionality of this wine is really quite impressive.  I’m honestly not sure whether this is a co-op or some other sort of enterprise in light of its state-affiliated name, but who cares.  The wine is completely delicious. 
92 Michael Franz


Posted by Michael Apstein on July 2, 2018 at 1:36 PM

An Interesting Rarity from Burgundy

Geantet-Pansiot, Bourgogne Rouge, “Pinot Fin,” 2015 ($30 - 45):

Pinot Fin is a clone of Pinot Noir that produces smaller berries and thicker skin, according to the internationally acclaimed wine expert, Jancis Robinson.  It’s rarely grown in Burgundy today, because it’s a finicky grape to grown, even more troublesome than Pinot Noir, susceptible to many diseases that result in lower yields--meaning, more expensive wine.  Nonetheless, Geantet-Pansiot, one the top producers in the Côte de Nuits (he makes spectacular Gevrey Chambertin and Chambolle Musigny that sell for triple digits) produces a small amount of Bourgogne Rouge from this clone of Pinot Noir. 

While I remain a great fan of the top Burgundy négociants, such as Bichot, Bouchard Père et Fils, Drouhin, Jadot, and Latour, because of their depth of production and overall quality, I’ll be the first to admit that a Bourgogne Rouge (or Bourgogne Blanc) from a top grower usually beats one from a négociant.  These “minor” wines from the top growers often prove to be hidden gems in today’s stratospherically-priced Burgundy market. 

It’s always a good bet that the grapes used to make these wines came from vineyards located near the estate’s base. In the case of Geantet-Pansiot, that means Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny or Marsannay, three renowned villages where he owns vineyards.  Now, don’t be fooled.  Geantet-Pansiot’s Bourgogne Rouge does not come from within the confines of those appellations.  The grapes likely come from nearby plots that lie outside the limits of those revered appellations.  Hey, it may not be Rockefeller Center, but it’s still New York City. 

By comparison, négociant Bourgogne Rouge--or Blanc--can come from anywhere within Burgundy, perhaps comparable to New York state to pursue the analogy.  Grower Bourgogne Rouge or Blanc will not be cheap.  But you will get a glimmer of what the producers’ wines are like.  Even they may not be able to make, as the saying goes, “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” but often they make wine, as in this case, that hits well above its appellation.

Geantet-Pansiot’s Bourgogne Rouge has power and concentration, delivering a healthy dose of dark fruit and earth, as befitting the superb 2015 vintage and the nature of the Pinot Fin grape.  Gangly when first tasted, the wine settled down by the next day, suggesting it still needs a year or two in the bottle.  What it lacks is elegance and finesse--a not so subtle reminder that the French appellation system is based on those attributes, and not just power and concentration.  In other words, bigger is not necessarily better.  (88 Points)

A word about the price.  Wine-searcher.com tells me that the wine is available in just two stores in the U.S., MacArthur Beverages in Washington, D.C. and Astor Wines in New York City, both superb outlets for fine Burgundy.  The dramatic discrepancy in price noted above highlights our Byzantine alcohol regulations.  It is my understanding that MacArthur can import the wine directly, whereas Astor must acquire it from a licensed New York distributor, thereby incurring another mark-up.  It pays to shop around.  But getting it shipped to your home is another matter….

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Ten Wines that Changed the World
Paul Lukacs

It is a truism bordering on cliché to observe that wine the world over is better than it's ever been. Greater variety coupled with improved quality has made the early twenty-first century a true golden age for wine lovers. Compared to the global scene 50 years ago, when select French wines remained unrivaled as both examples and definitions of excellence, the changes have been revolutionary. Many factors account for them. Some involve production, new approaches to grape growing and winemaking. But others involve consumption. New audiences have embraced wine in new ways. In turn, those audiences have been influenced by new tastes, many of which came to widespread attention because of the success of specific wines. Those specific wines were not necessarily the best ones. Their significance came less from inherent quality and more from the effect they had on consumer perceptions and attitudes. In short, they made wine in general more inclusive than ever before.
Alternatives to Rosé, Even in Provence
Michael Apstein

With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson, rosé to the left of us, rosé to the right of us, rosé in front of us, and there we were, drinking white wine in the heart of Provence. The sommelier at La Presque'îe, a spectacularly situated restaurant--with food to match--on the outskirts of Cassis overlooking the Mediterranean coast, told me that they sell a lot of rosé, but that, like us, many diners order white wine. After all, this is Cassis, a village and appellation just east of Marseille, where roughly three-fourths of the wine produced is white, unlike the rest of Provence where 85 percent of the wine produced is pink. The terraced vineyards are squeezed between expensive residential real estate on steep hills--limestone calanques--that plunge into the Mediterranean.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Salmon and Corn Chowder

One can argue about whether chowder is more a summer or a winter dish, but the truth is that it's both, depending on how the chowder is made. The difference is subtle, with summery versions being lighter in both flavor and texture while winter chowders call for richer broth and heavier cream, plus a generous hand with seasonings such as bay leaf and paprika. Ham, bacon and/or salt pork are often included in winter chowders, and the soup may be garnished with pork or duck cracklings, or crumbled bacon. In summer we leave out the meat and include more corn in the chowder, and lighter cream. And tomatoes? Much as we love Manhattan clam chowder, we are more apt to follow the lead of purists who insist that the presence of tomatoes disqualifies this dish as a chowder.
On My Table
Loire Valley Inspiration from California
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

The weather was uncomfortably warm and humid when I prepared to taste wine samples, forcing me to scrap my plans to open powerful Australian reds. Fortunately, I had on hand a lovely trio of white wines from Dry Creek Vineyard. Over its 46 years of wine production in Sonoma County, Dry Creek Vineyard has held fast to its original inspiration, the white wines of the Loire Valley region of France -- the sort of wines that are perfect in summer. My tasting involved three wines from the 2017 vintage: Two Sauvignon Blanc wines and a Chenin Blanc. True to the Loire Valley prototype, the two Sauvignon Blanc wines are different in style, one lighter and crisper and the other, a bit fuller and more complex. The Chenin Blanc is made in a dry, medium-bodied style and is a wine that's perennially applauded by wine critics.