July 6, 2019

YVES CUILLERON Viognier Les Vignes d’a Cote 2018

A delightful Viognier from Northern Rhone Valley stalwart Yves Cuilleron. Citrus blossom and honeysuckle aromas complement white peach, ripe lemon and tangerine. In the mouth the wine is fruity, dry, modestly perfumed and medium/light bodied with a smidge of oily texture on the finish. Fermented and aged in 2/3rd neutral-ish barrels…aged on its lees 7 months for texture. This is one of the best Northern Rhone Viogniers you’re gonna find for $25-$30/bottle. Yves Cuilleron’s “Les Vignes d’à Côté” wines (Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Gamay and Syrah) are excellent, typical Northern Rhone Valley wines that offer exceptional value. Translating to “The Vines […]
June 28, 2019
Boudinaud Blanc Rousseline 18

BOUDINAUD Blanc La Rousseline 18

40% Viognier, 40% Marsanne, 20% Roussanne from Boudinaud’s Estate vineyard. All steel tank fermented and aged. Big on the fresh citrus: lime juice & zest, orange slices, grapefruit, honeysuckle, Key lime, fresh pineapple. Medium-light bodied and a refreshing thread of acidity. At under $15/bottle this is definitely case purchase worthy. Imported and sold by Wine House San Francisco in the Dogpatch neighborhood of The City. Pay them a visit!
March 21, 2019
Mardon Quincy

MARDON Quincy “Tres Vieilles Vignes” 2017

Look to Quincy for delicious, mineral-driven, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. And in Quincy, buy Domaine Mardon. Quincy is 50 miles west of Sancerre along the Cher River. 50-80 year old vines, growing in river sand and gravel, make high-toned, zippy, pure Sauvignon Blanc. Quick attack of green apple skins, grapefruit, lemon/lime and river rocks. Ripe, crisp citrus and stone fruits quickly emerge on the palate. Mouth-watering acidity, perfect balance of fruit, soil and acid. Killer white here for $20.
March 15, 2019
Cailbourdin Pouilly Fume Les Cris

Domaine Alain Cailbourdin Pouilly Fume “Les Cris” 2017

Knowing this wine from multiple prior vintages, I pay the 2017 the best compliments I can give, which are classic and typical. You don’t want too much in an outstanding Loire Valley Sauv Blanc. Rather, you want brightness, intensity and the flavor of the rocky soils from which it comes. And here it is: citrus zest (especially lemon), spring flowers and rocky pebbles. Smells great, tastes great, finishes long and vibrant. I love wines like this to no end.
January 9, 2019
Trimbach Riesling Alsace

TRIMBACH Riesling Vin d’Alsace 2015

Very impressive how much character, typicity and deliciousness is in this “entry level” Trimbach Riesling, considering the amount made and the reasonable price. Fermented dry, ample stuffing (or mouth-feel), burst of citrus and orchard fruits on the palate and an unmistakable Riesling personality (rocks, petrol, lemon zest, quince, lemongrass, etc). This is a wine I think the entire spectrum of wine drinkers (wine geeks to “just drink to think”) will wrap their arms around. If you live in Northern California and have a Raley’s Supermarket nearby, see if they carry this wine. It’s in my local Raley’s and I buy […]
January 8, 2019
Luc Baudet Rive Droite 16

Luc Baudet Cotes du Rhone Blanc Rive Droite 16

Lip-smacking good Southern Rhone Valley blend of 90% Grenache Blanc and 10% Marsanne. No oak, fresh crisp green fleshed melon and heirloom apple fruits, touch of citrus blossom, green tea and white pepper. No oak, light-bodied, bright acidity. Absolutely perfect for what it’s supposed to be. And is. This is my current house white wine. This is a wine imported by Napa-based importer Jack Edwards. It’s not easy to find retail, so be my guest to contact me if you’re interested in buying some. I’ll connect you to the importer to figure it out. (I bought the wine direct from […]
December 11, 2018
Guy Robin Chablis

GUY ROBIN Chablis “Montee de Tonnerre” 2016

I love the savory, earth-driven overtones that roll alongside the preserved lemon, apple butter and lemon custard smells and flavors. Satin texture, depth of fruit and  delicious, distinctive flavors of button mushrooms and gravel here. Not super-crisp, rather a Chablis with a strong core of acidity, earth and fruit. I think it’s just about perfect. And near perfection is hard to get for $43! More Information This is one of the hundreds of quality, well-priced wines (French & Italian) imported by North Berkeley Imports. “Our imports boast classic old-world character while always remembering the importance of fruit,” states Eddie Gilbert, Director […]
October 24, 2018
Roche Paradis Condrieu

ROCHE PARADIS Condrieu Veauvigniere 2016

A particularly fresh, perfumed, intense style of Condrieu that focuses more on the fresh flowers and rocky character than the fruits. Smell and taste lemongrass, lemon verbena, ripe grapefruit, apple blossoms, river rocks, fresh apricots…and everything lifted up by its invigorating acidity. Structured finish, giving an impression of fine tannins. More Information Domaine de la Roche Paradis is owned and made by Yann Menager who for over 15 years has been Yves Cuilleron’s vineyard manager. He continues to work for Cuilleron as he builds his label. He has purchased vineyards in Condrieu, Saint Joseph and Cote Rotie, farms them himself […]
October 24, 2018
Clos des Centenaires Roussanne

CLOS des CENTENAIRES Roussanne 2016

100% Roussanne from the southernmost part of Costieres de Nimes and The Rhone Valley. Oily, rich, honeyed, luxurious style which comes from the warm Mediterranean climate and the winemaking, including fermenting and aging the wines in neutral barrels. Smell and taste roast peaches, orange zest, honeycomb, white pepper and tarragon. Acid is there, between medium and medium high, and thank goodness. It makes the wine elevate. And we like elevation. The Clos des Centenaires Roussanne is an awesome value for under $30/bottle.
October 24, 2018
Pierre Gaillard Condrieu

PIERRE GAILLARD Condrieu 2016

Oranges, honeysuckle, honeydew and lemon blossoms express themselves in the 2016 Pierre Gaillard Condrieu. From terraced, south-facing vines planted in decomposed granite. The result, especially in a vintage like 2016, is perfume, intensity and delicacy. This is my favorite style of Viognier in the world and I deny anyone to not like this! Add to the citrus, melon and floral qualities some peach pit, kiwi, white pepper and lemongrass. Tangy acidity, mineral-y finish. This is the real deal in Condrieu. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
October 19, 2018
Vincent Cluzel Condrieu

VINCENT CLUZEL Condrieu 2016

This is the real deal in Condrieu. Nose of melon, peach, apricot, citrus blossom and honey. Taste keeps that all going with a little lemon tea and fresh green olive in there too. Intriguing, rocky, lemon bitters, sea breeze finish. Freshness and acidity cut through Viognier’s effusive character. I love this wine. Could drink it happily the rest of my life. Check out the other Vincent Cluzel wines I’ve reviewed HERE.  Check out all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed HERE.
October 19, 2018
Frantz Chagnoleau Pouilly Fuisse

FRANTZ CHAGNOLEAU Pouilly-Fuisse “Madrigal” 2016

Single vineyard, rocky, higher altitude vineyard in the Vergisson commune of Pouilly-Fuisse. Very much on the racy and “fit” side of Chardonnay with its rocky/mineral-y and crisp citrus rind & blossom character. That said, I’m very critical of the “thin is in” style, finding most to be too much bones and not enough flesh. The Frantz Chagnoleau Pouilly Fuisse Madrigal 2016 gets my recommendation because there’s lots of goodness going on in this structured White Burgundy. Reductive start (smoke, roast nut skins, meat stock, dried sweat) quickly disappears, moving to preserved lemons, caramel, crunchy pears and crushed river rocks. It’s […]
August 20, 2018
Raimbault Sancerre

RAIMBAULT Sancerre Apud Sariacum 2017

Always a classic, mineral-driven, zippy wine, the Philippe Raimbault Sancerre 2017 is relatively fleshy and fruit-driven. In this vintage, the fresh green applesauce, juicy pears and lemon custard take on the chalky/seashell flavors, expected of Sancerre, in a fight for dominance. It’s up to the taster as to who wins. It’s close, and relative. If this were a California SB, it would be called “very Sancerre-like.”
July 25, 2018
Buisson Charles Meursault

BUISSON CHARLES Meursault 2015

Impressive how so much aroma and flavor is packed into the 750 ML bottle. Starts smoky and bright with roasted whole lemons, citrus blossoms, sliced white peaches and fresh from the oven biscuits. Taste lemon sorbet, caramel, buttered wheat toast, roast hazelnuts (naturally!) and apple butter. This is super-intense. If the same wine was a Premier or Grand Cru, and labeled as such, you would not doubt its provenance and think it a glorious bargain. Instead, it’s “just” a village Meursault.
June 24, 2018
Mas Grand Plagniol Costieres de Nimes

MAS GRAND PLAGNIOL Blanc 2016

Southern French white blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier. It’s fresh, aromatic, fruity, fleshy. Get fresh melons, peaches, pears, light floral and tropical. No oak. Medium acidity. Stood up to my squash ravioli in tomato sauce. This is my house white wine, and a Hall of Fame Value! If you’re looking for delicious, great value wines with a little “taste of sunshine,” look to Costieres de Nimes.  Located on the Rhone River, south of Southern Rhone Valley. Speaking sort-of subjectively, this is my favorite sub $15 white wine I’ve ever had.  More Information Notes from the importer: “Tired of always […]
June 7, 2018
Easy Access Wine

Easy Access Wine #1

Survey feedback from Chuck S (thanks, Chuck): “I would appreciate a few ratings on wines that might be considered to be somewhat mass market wines. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to go to a Safeway and find a really good wine that Dan has recommended.” Great idea! And in response, here’s my inaugural easy-access selection: MAISON BARBOUOLOT Marsanne-Viognier 2017 $4.99 at Trader Joe’s, Napa CA. Posted June 7, 2018 I bought a bottle of this Southern French aromatic white last week. My wife, neighbors and I all loved it. It has the honeysuckle/jasmine aroma, pear/apple/tropicall fruit and ginger-spice flavor, palate […]
May 10, 2018
Maison L'Envoye Bourgogne Blanc

Maison L’Envoye Bourgogne Blanc 2014

There’s an ocean of Chardonnay out there. What to choose of the, oh I don’t know, 50 different Chardonnay labels standing in front of you? Afraid there’s no secret sauce to share with you. I can give tips, however, which leads me to this specific recommendation. Check out a few Bourgogne Blancs when you’re in your local wine shop or grocer with a strong wine selection. There should be a few available as there is a lot of it imported into the U.S. Bourgogne Blanc (labeled simply as “Bourgogne,” and you can see it’s a white wine) is pretty much […]
May 2, 2018
Fontareche Corbieres Rose

FONTARECHE Corbieres Rose 2017

Ancient wine appellation Corbieres in South Central France continues to make solid, great value wines. Here’s a great example. Grapes are 50% Picpoul Noir, 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah. A darker color and textured mouthfeel makes me think it’s saignee but I don’t know this for sure. Smell and taste fresh strawberries and plums plus tobacco, cola and raw prime beef. I like the texture – not too light nor too heavy. And has a healthy acidity to it. Sign me up for a case, please.
April 22, 2018
Sarrazin Rully Sans Nom

SARRAZIN Rully “Sans Nom” 2015

Sarrazin’s “Sans Nom” comes from two estate vineyards that give different qualities to the wine. First impression is ripe and fleshy, too much for some tastes. Melons, citrus custard and pineapple with medium acidity. On the back palate and finish the wine “freshens up” with more fresh, tangy citrus, green applesauce and a mineral kick. A smooch of new oak smooths any sharp edges that may have been there. I can only think it comes from different vineyard aspects and soils. In the end, this is a delicious White Burgundy to drink anytime.   I so love Rully (from good […]
April 22, 2018
Oudart Champagne

OUDART Champagne, Chardonnay 2008

Family vineyard and winery (an RM) in the Côtes des Blancs. By tasting I’m guessing it has spent at least 6 years on its lees, which would explain its round, creamy texture. Get ripe pears, lemon cream, fresh pastry and apple butter in this luxurious-style Champagne. A delight to drink 10 year old, vintage Champagne for “just” $55!
March 14, 2018
Vincent Dampt Chablis 2015

VINCENT DAMPT Chablis 2015

Pretty, aromatic nose of lemon blossoms, Meyer lemon, mango and lime precedes flavors of the same plus butter pastry, lemon tea and white chalky earth. Has lively acidity, fresh fruit all over the place and just enough “taste of the land” to make it interesting. Undeniably tasty and versatile: good drinking by itself and particularly tasty with meaty white fishes (like halibut) and straight-forward white meat preparations. Dampt grows this Chardonnay in a vineyard between two Premier Cru vineyards across town from Chablis’ Grand Cru sites. 40 year old vines on average. Steel tank fermented and aged. More Information Vincent […]
March 14, 2018
Vincent Dampt Chablis Lechet

VINCENT DAMPT Chablis “Cote de Lechet” 2015

I’ve quickly become a big fan of Vincent Dampt’s Chablis wines. His Cote de Lechet, from 55 year old vines growing in limestone and marl (Kimmeridgian soil) is classy, bright, perfectly ripe and earthy (especially on the finish). Get preserved lemons, apple butter, fresh sweat, chalk, lemon thyme and green tea. Round and tingly on the palate. 25 second finish of citrus fruits and chalky soil. Steel tank ferment and aged on its lees. Vincent Dampt grew up in a winegrower family in Chablis. He went to winegrower school at the ripe old age of 14. Before returning home, he […]
February 20, 2018
Saint Remy Ehrhart Riesling

SAINT REMY-EHRHART Riesling Vieilles Vignes 2015

This dry Riesling captures the honey-textured essence of Alsace. Smell and taste caramel-coved crisp green apples, lemonheads, spring blossoms and tangy pineapple. This is beautiful Riesling that speaks clearly to the quality and value of Alsace.
February 20, 2018
Chevassu Fassenet Jura

CHEVAUSSU FASSENET Cotes de Jura Chardonnay 12

The distinctive style of Cotes de Jura Chardonnay comes through in spades in this tiny, family-run, winery. A honeyed, preserved citrus, apple butter nose moves to slightly dried pears, lemon blossoms, Meyer lemons and ROCKS. Typical of very good Cotes de Jura, it has a 30 second finish of salty citrus, honey and rocky soil. The lesser known French appellation Cotes de Jura (base of French Alps, heading toward Switzerland) is generally “reserved,” if you will, for the wine geek section of our industry. It deserves greater attention, but I do like its overall value because of the lack of […]