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Arnie’s Lunch with a Burgundy Legend

It’s not every day that you get to sit down and break bread with a legendary Burgundy producer.

Yet that is precisely what happened when I was invited to lunch recently with Laurent Drouhin of Burgundy’s renowned Maison Joseph Drouhin at Seattle’s Virginia Inn by Pike Place Market.

Founded in Beaune in 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s cellars have spread from the historical Cellars of the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France in Beaune (12th-18th centuries) to the Moulin de Vaudon, an 18th Century watermill in Chablis.

The Joseph Drouhin Domaine was assembled parcel by parcel over the years and comprises today 73 hectares (182.5 acres) of vineyards in Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis. It is one of the most important domains in Burgundy, with more than two thirds of the vineyards classified as Premier and Grand Crus.

 

Laurent Drouhin who, along with his sister Véronique and brothers Frédéric and Philippe, are the latest fourth generation to run the venerable grower and negociant house in the village of Beaune.

The Virginia Inn is a Pike Market institution offering classic French bistro fare so, naturally, I ordered the Boeuf Bourgignon. It arrived at a perfect time because we finished whites and were starting on the reds. It was old school and excellent!

 

 

Laurent guided us through a tasting of 11 wines; 5 white and 6 red:

 

White Wine

2015 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis $21.99

Nice mineral notes result from the region’s poor pebbly soils of Kimmeridgian limestone. Good value here. Fresh apple, lemon and stony flavors that play off the lively acidity. Stays juicy and long on the finish.

2015 Pouilly Vinzelles $19.99

“Clean and focused, this white evokes lemon, oak spice and mineral flavors. Has plenty of tension and builds to a long aftertaste of citrus and mineral.”

90 points Wine Spectator

2015 Chassagne-Montrachet $65.99

“Notes of petrol, resin and essence of pear and white peach can be found on the nicely layered nose. The rich, full-bodied and very generously proportioned medium weight flavors possess lovely mid-palate concentration while delivering good length on the relatively powerful finish. This is not especially complex at present though there is better aging potential here and this may surprise to the upside.” Burghound

 

2015 Meursault $55.99

“A ripe but classic nose of hazelnut and fresh white orchard fruit aromas is trimmed in a hint of matchstick. The rich, full and naturally sweet middle weight flavors also possess fine depth and length for a villages level wine. This is seductively delicious if a bit less energetic but richer and one that should repay 4 to 6 years of cellar time.” Burghound

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay $31.99

“Pale yellow-gold. Intense, mineral-inflected orchard and pit fruit, lavender and buttered toast aromas are complicated by oyster shell, fennel and vanilla nuances. Concentrated yet nervy and light on its feet, offering palate-staining, oak-kissed pear nectar, Meyer lemon and candied ginger flavors underscored by a vein of smoky minerality. Shows superb energy and power on the floral-tinged finish, which hangs on with serious, mineral-driven tenacity.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Red Wines

 

2015 Chorey-lès-Beaume $27.99

“Bright, full red. Cool aromas of cherry, licorice and menthol. Juicy red berry flavors are accented by a hint of licorice. The tannins are firm but not dry, with the persistent finish displaying attractive perfumed lift. This makes the Rully seem a bit rustic by comparison.” Stephan Tanzer, Vinous

2015 Savigny-lès-Beaune $37.99

This is Chorey’s more muscular brother with richer, darker fruit. Laurent said that they declassify some premier crus here, as they do with other village appellations. 18 months in French oak barriques.

2015 Gevrey Chambertin $61.99

“Captivating aromas and flavors of pure cherry, mineral, tobacco and spice mark this supple red. Beautifully balanced, this remains long on the finish, driven by succulent acidity. Best from 2020 through 2033.” Wine Spectator

 

2011 Beaune Clos de Mouches 1er Cru $114.99

The 2011 Beaune Clos des Mouches impresses for its intensity. Green pears, exotic flowers, mint, citrus and crushed rocks are all very much alive in the glass. The flavors are beautifully defined in a salivating, crystalline wine full of personality. Clos des Mouches remains one of the undiscovered jewels of Burgundy in its price range. The 2011 is likely to enjoy broad drinking window that will last several decades. Antonio Galloni, Vinous

 

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Zéphirine Pinot Noir $31.99

“Brilliant red. Vibrant, spice-accented red fruit liqueur, floral pastille and incense aromas, along with an intense mineral topnote. Stains the palate with sweet raspberry and spicecake flavors that show impressive depth as well as delicacy and nervy cut. Silky, seamless and precise, finishing with outstanding energy and velvety, slow-building tannins that harmonize smoothly with the deep fruit.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Arnie Millan is Esquin’s European Buyer and Resident Expert on all things Burgundy.

 

 

 

The Man they call Bubbles by Lenny Rede

When talking about South African wine there is always one name that comes up – Graham Beck. It all started in 1983 when the entrepreneur Graham Beck bought the farm Madeba close to Robertson in order to produce wine and raise horses. They planted grapes in the limestone rich soil and in 1990 they hired Peter Ferreira as winemaker. Within a few years they were already garnering acclaim on the international wines scene. In 1994 Nelson Mandela enjoyed the Graham Beck Brut for his inauguration. Exactly 14 years later Barack Obama celebrates his presidential win with Graham Beck Brut.

Turns out those limestone soils in Robertson were perfect for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, perfect for making South Africa’ homage to Champagne – Cap Classique. Pieter says, “Chardonnay here in Robertson tends to be more forgiving, and more diverse – it’s different limestone than the limestone of Champagne. Robertson gives Graham Beck MCC its backbone of minerality.”   

This remarkably gifted and passionate vintner has undoubtedly had a life-long love affair with all things bubbly. Affectionately known as “Mr Bubbles”,

eats, drinks and breathes bubbles! Pieter has been with the team from the very first vintage and has been instrumental in cementing Graham Beck as one of the world’s leading producers of premium Méthode Cap Classique style sparkling. Cap Classique is made in the method as Champagne, formally known as Methode method Champenoise.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Pieter and taste through his wines with him. What defines a truly outstanding Cap Classique? “It’s when you ask for that second bottle! A truly ‘world class’ Cap Classique is the result of favorable vintage conditions and reflects stricter fruit selection and the utmost care in the cellar in the pursuit of even greater excellence. That’s the academic response, but most importantly to us producers it’s the reaction from the consumer,” explains Pieter.

“Graham Beck Wines and the many other top local Cap Classique producers are proving that South Africa has got what it takes in the bubbly stakes. We’ve developed a uniquely home grown, ‘New World’ style, while remaining true to the essence, technique and tradition of fine fizz,” says Mr Bubbles.

This month we are featuring his Brut Rose. “The Graham Beck Brut Rosé has all the hallmarks of a traditional and carefully crafted bubbly, with the added appeal of being flirtatious and fun. Elegant and structured, it truly is a sparkling wine for all seasons. Made from the traditional Méthode Cap Classique base wines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, its unique silver-pink hue is obtained by an enzymatic reaction during the transport of the Pinot Noir fruit to the cellar. The fine, lively mousse is brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell, fresh lavender and subtle hints of berry and cherry.”

GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSE NV  

“Full bodied and loaded with pinot noir goodness in this toasty, zesty bubbly. Lovely cherry and strawberry notes and clean, crisp finish. Graham Beck is a master of sparkling wines, in my opinion, these are his best. Highly recommended.” – Natalie MacLean

Tim Atkin Master of Wine 2017: 93 points

Brut Rosé NV 90 points Decanter

Brut Rosé NV 90 points International Wine Review

Brut Rosé 92 points, Tanzer

Brut NV 90 points, Robert Parker

Brut NV 90 points, Decanter

This is consistently one of the best sparkling wines in the market and at these prices? it is a no brainer!

Cheers! Lenny

 

Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15

Chateau Mayne Vieil is a single vineyard (47 hectars) in Fronsac on a hill of clay loam with a moderate slope at an altitude of nearly 40 meters. The vineyard is planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The village of Fronsac lies due north of Pomerol about 15 minutes from the famous chateaus of Le Pin and Cheval Blanc.


Mayne-Vieil is not some newcomer – from 1500 to 1809 Mayne-Vieil belonged to the DePaty family. The squire DePaty, Lord of Mayne-Vieil, built the winery in the 17th century. It was eventually replaced in the 18th century by the fortified house with an elegant chartreuse that currently stands on the grounds today.


Mayne-Vieil was then purchased by the Fontemoing family; a group of renowned vintners from Libourne. In 1918, Louis SEZE acquired the property. His son Roger, an agronomist who succeeded him in the early 1950’s, expanded the vineyards to make a contiguous and beautiful plateau. His children Bertrand and Marie-Christine Sèze succeeded Roger SEZE in the 1980’s.

Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15 $14.99 btl / save $10
“Château Mayne-Vieil Cuvée Alienor is a selection of old Merlot vines. This is the luxury cuvée from vineyards in the Seze family since 1918. With its perfumed fruits and firm tannins, it is serious as well as sumptuous. It has weight and a dry texture that will soften into the blackberry fruits and generous structure. This wine, with its still firm texture, needs to age, so drink from 2022.” 
93 pts Wine Enthusiast

This wine shows tremendous density and character. Although drinkable now this wine has the potential to lay down for years and at this price you can afford to buy a case to lay down. I find this wine utterly charming, if you have more questions – Arnie has actually visited the property and knows first hand the quality of this wine and the property.  

“They were delicious, more for drinking then collecting I thought, although the Cuvée Alienor is a big serious wine that is 100% Merlot. At our dinner, Bertrand brought out two old bottles. They were still excellent and we were stunned to learn one was from 1949 and the other from 1959. Incredible. ” Arnie Millan

Check out Arnie’s notes here

Give us a call if you would like us  set you aside some. 

Cheers!  lenny@esquin.com

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