Hello and Happy Friday!
A lovely fall weekend is upon us, and if you are like me you are probably getting more into the red wine routine. One of the most associated red wines of Fall is that of Beaujolais. Maybe because it is a classic pairing with turkey, and maybe because it tends to be a lower alcohol red that is an easy transition from your summer drinking white wine.
Whatever the case, this Fall there has never been a better time to reach for Beaujolais due to the arrivals of many of the wonderful ’09 vintage wines from the region. Yes, the hype machine is out, and it should be because this is a truly special vintage.
The wines offered today are from the famed estate of Martine and Pierre-Marie Chermette called Domaine de Vissoux. This is one of the top estates of the region, and the style is that of elegance. This newsletter focuses on their terrific Cru Beaujolais.
On another note tomorrow, Saturday, October 16th is World Food Day. This day highlights the continuing problem of global hunger. Those of us who are fortunate to not only eat three meals a day, but to do it with great ingredients accompanied by the best wines, can help out.
Tomorrow I am going to make it easy – 5% of total sales for the day will be donated to the World Food Programme run by the United Nations. This is an excellent organization that is dedicated to emergency food relief as well as the ultimate goal of ending world hunger.
Finally, next week on Wednesday and Thursday, October 20th and 21st – the store will open at 3 pm. I will be attending tastings earlier in the day.
Have a great weekend,
The Beaujolais of Domaine de Vissoux
What sets the great Beaujolais estates from the ordinary? Gamay Noir can be a noble variety, but the history of the region has had peaks and valleys when it comes to quality.
To answer my own question, several factors play a role in the great estates.
Work in the vineyard is always the most notable point. Low-yields are key and Domaine de Vissoux controls these through pruning and growth management.
Maximum ripeness of the grapes is also important. I’m not talking about over-ripeness but perfect maturity, something that is strived for at Vissoux.
Natural vinification can mean so many things to so many people. Domaine de Vissoux doesn’t use cultured yeasts, instead only natural yeasts. They don’t chapatlize or add sugar to boost alcohol unless they absolutely have to.
Overall, the focus is on minimal handling of the grapes and wine to produce terroir specific wines.
Domaine de Vissoux is unique among some of the top estates in that it uses semi-carbonic vinification for its wines. Whole bunches are added to vats along with CO2 and then closed to trap the gas. After a couple days the free-run juice from the bottom of the vats is pumped over the cap of the grapes at the top of the vat to promote color and structure.
Maturation of the Domaine de Vissoux wines is done for a short period in oak of different size and ages depending on the Cru.
Overall I find the wines to be amazingly complex wines, with an amazingly silky texture, pure fruit, and great balance.
The Chermette family that owns Domaine de Vissoux believes that the 2009 vintage is truly special. Winemkaer Pierre Chermette’s father, who has seen 83 harvests commented to wine writer David Schildknecht that he had never seen a vintage like this in that time.
I tasted all of these wines at a tasting last week and was really impressed. Most people are going to expect that these need to be cellared, but the fact is they do taste good young, and also will reward short to medium term aging.
The wine will arrive on Monday, and quantities are limited. If you are a Beaujolais fanatic you are going to want to grab some, my recommendation is to mix up a case of the four Cru’s!
2009 DOMAINE DE VISSOUX FLEURIE “CUVÉE PONCIÉ”
Poncié refers to a south-eastern facing slope of vines in the Fleurie Cru of Beaujolais. This area is known for grapes that produce elegant sometimes termed “feminine” wines.
The Chermette’s own a 4.5 hectare plot with 35 year-old vines on pink granite rich in mica and quartz. Maturation of the wine is for six months in old oak foudres.
“Vividly fresh red raspberry, blackberry, and rhubarb scent the Vissoux 2009 Fleurie Poncié, marking a striking contrast with the fruit character of its Brouilly stable mate. The high altitude and southeasterly inclination encourages a sense of refreshment and energy that – for all of their manifest virtues – one often seeks in vain among Beaujolais’s 2009s. Yet this is also silken in texture and its stimulating length tartly seductive, with salt, meat broth, and mint adding complexity. Plan on enjoying this over a 4-5 year period. Incidentally, it harbors only 13.2% alcohol. 91 Points, David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate.”
$27.99 BTL. / $335.88 CASE
2009 DOMAINE DE VISSOUX FLEURIE “LES GARANTS”
This 2.7 hectare plot is south-west facing on pink granitic soil rich in mica and quartz. Part of Fleurie used to be in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, including this parcel which is in Fleurie. It offers more density and structure than the Poncié, and will age longer.
This is matured in partial new foudre and 10% small oak barrel.
“Like his other wines of the vintage, Chermette’s 2009 Fleurie Les Garants – from lower down than Poncié and with southwestern inclination, but essentially the same soil – lacks the dark color that marks so many 2009s. Scents of fresh blackberry and purple plum adumbrate a generously juicy palate with a vivid sense of fruit pit and berry seed. The Poncie is cooler in personality though still full of energy, whereas the Les Garants is richer on the palate and more overtly (in this case black-) fruited. A pungent smokiness and tactile sense of stony underlying minerality characterize this wine’s positively gripping finish, and as it opens, elusive hints of spice and further minerality emerge. I would plan on following this outstanding value for half a dozen years, if not longer. 92 Points, David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate.”
$27.99 BTL. / $335.88 CASE
2009 DOMAINE DE VISSOUX BROUILLY “PIERREUX”
This beautifully approachable wine comes from a 1.5 hectare plot at the base of Mont Brouilly, loaded in granite scree. This vineyard was recently purchased in 2006. Brouilly is the southernmost of the Cru’s.
It is matured for six months in old oak foudre.
“High-toned kirsch, blueberry, plum distillate, and maraschino rise from the glass of Chermette’s 2009 Brouilly Pierreux, whose tiny-berried palate concentration is allied to a caressing mouth-feel, and which offers iodine, crushed stone, and walnut oil accents in a long, buoyant finish. While even riper than this year’s Couer de Vendange, this is more elegant, and ought to be worth following for 3-4 years. 91 Points, David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate.”
$27.99 BTL. / $335.88 CASE
2009 DOMAINE DE VISSOUX MOULIN-À-VENT “LES TROIS ROCHES”
The Chermette’s believe that this Cru offers the longest aging potential and also can be noted for being the most Pinot like.
This comes from three different parcels that total 4.5 hectares in surface. It is matured half in old foudre and the other half in a mixture of 1 to 5 year-old barrels.
It is blended for completeness, but it is also the most structured and in need of decanting or aging. It will age through 2019.
“The Vissoux 2009 Moulin-à-Vent Les Trois Roches – named for the Rochegrès, La Rochelle, and Roche Noire sites south of Chenas – smells of fresh dark cherry and purple plum along with charred wood (though not necessarily from barrel). Rather restrained and laid-back on the palate, it nonetheless clings with authority, offering smoky, crushed stone, and saline mineral elements in a dynamic interchange with its concentrated fruit. This is likely to blossom beautifully over the next couple of years and be worth following for 5-7. 91 Points, David Schildknecht, The Wine Advocate.”
$28.99 BTL. / $347.88 CASE