Saturday, June 23, 2012

Domaine des Grands Vins de France (DGVF): 4 more wines

Domaine des Grands Vins de France (DGVF)

Domaine des Grands Vins de France embodies the classic elegance of earthy, traditional Burgundy wines. Far from the fleshier, fruit driven, plump wines some winemakers tend to produce to please both critics and markets. The resulting wines are often higher in acidity, fair in alcohol content, lighter and more elegant, true to their terroir of origin and fully expressing the earthiness and complexity of the soil.

These wines are made in the vineyards rather than in the cellar, where varietal characteristics combined with ideal phenolic ripeness, various soil composition and orientation of the vineyards can be retrieved in the aromas, flavors, texture and overall structure of the crafted wines. 

Moreover, like the wines from Rioja in Spain, rather than deploying them in the market for immediate availability right after bottling, the wines are kept longer in oak and in bottle to obtain respectively more complexity and better integration of the wines components and suppleness in order to enhance the customer’s experience.       

Producer-Negociant based in Nuits-Saints-Georges, DGVF produces a wide range of wines from all the hierarchic steps of the Burgundian classification ladder, from generic Bourgogne Chardonnay and Pinot noir to village wines, Grands and Premiers Crus located in both the Cotes de Nuits and Cote de Beaune.

As Negociant-Wine Merchant, they also source grapes (juices and wines) and produce wines from other regions like: Alsace, the birthplace of DGVF co-founder and winemaker Jean-Yves Lehner; but also Loire, Rhone, Languedoc and Bordeaux. All of their wines are sold under the name of Domaine des Grands Vins de France and mainly produced and bottled in their facility in Nuits-Saints-Georges. 

Here are 4 more wines from Domaine des Grands Vins de France that I tasted recently and that are sold through "Signature French Wines" in Hong Kong.

2006 Bourgogne Chardonnay Grande Cuvée
Coming from the Cote de Beaune, the southern part of the Cote d’Or, and harvested from vineyards located near Meursault, this Bourgogne Chardonnay Grande Cuvée, which spent a bit of time partially in oak (about 3–6 months max), is racy, fresh and zesty. It may not have the complexity and the length of its siblings from the village AOC and Crus, but for a wine with a bit of age it still has a brightness that some Chablis may lack sometimes and will even envy in their youth. The palate combines white fruit, peach and lime zesty flavors in a light bodied manner that is refreshing and tangy. Simple and straightforward, with plenty of acidity, it will be a perfect match to oysters, shellfish and summery salads. I liked it, even if it was a bit on the light, dryish side and a bit short in the finish, but I love lemony, zesty flavors, so there again it is a matter of taste.

2007 Meursault AOC village
No real need to say that Meursault is surely is one of the most recognizable and appreciated white wines from Burgundy, especially the Premiers Crus, and one of my favorites too. Of course we can always talk about Puligny and Chassagne or even the more expensive Corton-Charlemagne and Monrachet, but it seems that Meursault, in the mind and palate of most consumers, resounds with quality, depth, pleasurable experience and worth of money.  It is interesting to notice that anyone can talk about the cited above wines and most people will react such as: “It depends of the producer!” (for Puligny and Chassagne) or “Isn’t it too expensive?” (for Corton and Montrachet). Yet, when you talk about Meursault, suddenly everybody seems to be on the same page, like a good compromise with which you cannot really go wrong. In short and in terms of white Burgundy, it seems that Meursault, in most case scenarios, is the wine of choice. And I couldn’t agree more to that fact.This Meursault is a living proof of it.

Although 2007 was not a great vintage for reds in Burgundy, it actually suited the whites better, allowing for more acidity and balance. Of course, the ripeness and complexity of the two previous vintages (2005, 2006) wasn’t achieved, yet the resulting wines were often lighter and crisper, less opulent and calling for a more traditional style. This Meursault spent about 9-12 months in partially new oak barrels, which helped the texture and overall structure of the wine. The nose boasts lovely floral, white and yellow fruit aromas mingled with light toasted, buttery oak and minerals notes. The palate is soft, gentle and mineral, offering nice yellow fruit, apple, pear and peach with lemon accents lingering nicely toward the long racy finish. A delightful wine, although on the lighter side for a Meursault, yet expressing all the minerality of the marl-limestone soil, which confers the wine its elegant and racy, generous and almost viscous mouthfeel. Complex, long and calling for another glass, yet more traditional in style, it will pair well with buttered lobster tail, white fish, poultry and some game. I loved it.       

2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Reserve Cuvée
As I was saying for the previous wine, 2007 was not great for reds in Burgundy, yet it is a more traditional style for the consumers who prefer classic taste rather than nowadays opulent, overripe and powerful Pinot Noir based wines. Pinot noir by definition should be see-trough, light, crisp and versatile. To tell you the truth, I’m having some difficulties to understand the producers and wineries that produce Pinot Noir that are as dark and high in alcohol as Zinfandel. Anything above 14% of alcohol for a Pinot noir should be banned or forbidden in my opinion, however, it is just a question of taste as always.

This wine is somewhat in the other extreme, showing unripe cherry fruit, high acidity and slight green tannins that may bring a slight bitterness in the finish. That said, I still like the wine for what it is and need to admit that I was surprised that during each events we served it to, compared to the fruitier and more approachable 2008 Bourgogne Pinot Noir, most of our guests came back for more of the 2007, rather than the 2008. No secret, this wine is tight when first open but then seems to round up and integrate after about half an hour of opening. Moreover, it is definitely a food wine rather than a wine to sip on its own.  A bit tight and dry, slightly green and bitter for my taste, but hey, it was one of the go-to wines of the last 3-4 events that we did, so I guess it is only a matter of opinion. 

2002 Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru “Aux Thorey”  
This Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, "Aux Thorey," is a perfect example of a great wine made on a vintage downgraded by the press and the critics. Once again, it proves that nothing is written in stone, and consumers as well as buyer (like me) can still be surprised even if skeptical about the vintage or label before tasting the wine. In fact, that is the bottom line of every tasting. To assess the qualities of a wine and be able to fairly describe, promote and/or sell it (and rate it for those who rate their wines), one needs to open the bottle and taste it, no matter what has been said in the press by the trade and the critics. Tasting the wine is the key. One should never generalize and/or make hasty assessments about a wine due to its vintage or label or even producer. Like with everything else, it is better to first try the wine before saying anything about it (especially if it is something bad that may end up to be incorrect or inaccurate after tasting it). Wine is very subjective and everyone has different taste, therefore it is better not to say anything if you don’t know. Some things are better left unsaid (you know the song….).

However, let’s leave that discussion for another post and get back to this wine. I was pleasantly surprised while a bit hesitating at first (that is the reason why I wrote the paragraph above). 2002 has produced more miss than hit, although some wines ended up being very good to great, they are still rare and few and in my opinion it was more a producer’s vintage. DGVF seems to have nailed it once again with this nice example of Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Aux Thorey.  The harvested grapes were delicately sorted before being plucked off the vines, then one more time at the cellar before fermentation, and then the resulting wine was aged in French oak barrels for 15 to 20 months of maturation. The nose is delicate, earthy with ripe red cherry fruit aromas mingled with hints of mineral, floral and earthy underbrush, mushroom and oak, giving through these slight signs of age in the bottle an identity quite unique to older Burgundian wine.  The palate is also delicate, almost fragile at first, on the light side, yet elegant and integrated with great balance between the fruit, acidity and tannins. It expands gently with firmer yet structured tannins and lingers with oaky and earthy, almost spicy or peppery notes. I liked it a lot.

Go to "Domaine des Grands Vin de France" and "Signature French Wines" for more info, price, pictures and availability.  



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Signature French Wines introduces a selection of Summery wines from Domaine des Grands Vins de France

 Signature French Wines introduces a selection of Summery wines from Domaine des Grands Vins de France

Since its launch last April, "Signature French Wines" had quite a few successful events celebrating Spring with a wine selection from "Domaine des Grands Vins de France" that paired with the transitioning weather. However, Summer is now at the door, and it is time to introduce you to some of the brightest, most refreshing wines of our portfolio.  

Here is the selection ranging from the lightest to the more structured yet still medium bodied and summery.  

2010 Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Alsace
Although Pinot Blanc is a grape variety in itself, in Alsace, when Auxerrois is added to the grape name, it is more commonly a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois (a grape genetically similar to Chardonnay) and Pinot Noir.  The result usually combines freshness and fruitiness in a light gentle way perfect to quench your thirst on a warm sunny day and enjoy with pretty much any appetizers, seafood and cucumber salads.  Domaine des Grands vins de France Pinot Blanc Auxerrois is no exception to the rule and that 2010 vintage is a delightful example of this often underrated and overlooked white wine, offering floral and white fruit notes on the nose, more white fruits in the palate with nuances of apple and pear mingled with mineral and floral hints lingering in the finish. Pair it with a grilled white fish or even an omelet of scallops and soft cheese.

2006 Chablis Burgundy
Made with 100% Chardonnay, Chablis are usually best in their young age when they express their full vivacity and vibrancy. However, Chardonnay is recognized as being a grape variety that one can age for quite sometimes. Take for example some Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet or even Meursault and Corton-Charlemagne which can reach their peak up to 10-15+ years after bottling, so why not Chablis. Although grown northern of Burgundy where it enjoys a cooler and rainier climate, which doesn’t necessarily allow for a phenolic ripeness as full as in the previously cited villages, Chablis benefits from its famous Kimmeridgian calcareous, chalky limestone soil, which confers to the produced wines their vivid character and the mineral purity of their aromas and taste. These classic Chablis characteristics remain even after a few years in bottle and this 2006 Chablis is a great proof of it. Although more rounded and integrated due to a few years in bottle, this Chablis still possesses all of the white peachy fruitiness, the acidity and the complexity it presented in its youth. Even more, it seems that a bit of age helped it to taste slightly fuller and enhance its minerality. Definitely a food wine, it will perfectly complement a buttered lobster tail as well as fish, poultry and white meat like veal and pork.   

2010 Gewurztraminer Alsace
Gewurztraminer is a daring grape that is too often missed by most wine connoisseurs. People don’t generally identify themselves drinking it, preferring more common grape varieties that are easier to understand and drink. However, Gewurztraminer is definitely one of the most complex white grape varieties ever grown in my opinion. In Alsace, not as sweet or fruity as a Riesling and not as dry as a Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, it somewhat could be a good compromise between the three, yet offering a fuller, more complex and spicier experience in the palate. Gewurztraminer is usually characterized by its viscosity and unctuosity, which intermingle and enhance the floral, rich fruit, mineral and spicy, peppery notes. Atop of being well crafted and very enjoyable, this Gewurztraminer also conveys all the quality of a great vintage like 2010 was.  Pair it with more complex starters like pan seared Foie Gras, pate, charcuterie, spicy lamb sausage, seasoned fish and even Game.

NV Signature Rose (of course) Loire Valley
Produced under strict Traditional Champagne method from a blend of red grape varieties from the Loire Valley, N° 8 Rosé boasts a light, pale salmon-melon colour with small and lively bubbles.  The fresh and inviting nose offers light, delightful floral and fruity aromas of red berries like cherry and raspberry with blossom notes. Rather delicate and simple, enjoyable and versatile, uncomplicated and gentle with fruity nuances without being sweet, the palate has a good balance between the refreshing acidity and the agreeable fruitiness. No point to be fussy, it is one of these no-brainer sparkling wines that proves particularly handy when you want to offer a good quality bubbly to your guest without having to pay the hefty prices for real Champagne.

2009 Julienas Beaujolais
Beaujolais and in general Gamay grape variety based wines suffer from the bad image and message conveyed by Beaujolais Nouveau wines, which have nothing to do and more especially are far from representing the quality and the complexity of their more prestigious (yet less regarded and often undiscovered as good wines) siblings produced with much more conviction, passion and dedication from the villages and the multiple crus that the region of Beaujolais encompasses.  I personally love Beaujolais wines for their versatility and structured yet easy going, friendly palate and taste. The fact that their alcohol content usually doesn’t reach past 13 degrees, make them even more attractive and agreeable. 2009 was a great vintage in Beaujolais resulting in gorgeous wines full of juicy ripe fruit, texture and structure without being heavy or over the top. And this Julienas clearly demonstrates the quality of this vintage and the harvested fruits. Behind its youthful slightly darker than usual color, it offers a jammy nose (yet not overripe or pruny) of ripe red and dark cherries. The palate is friendly, inviting, with the same red fruit notes as on the nose enhanced by a great acidity, minerality lingering nicely toward the light textured finished. Definitely a Summer wine to enjoy, even slightly chilled, with pretty much everything and for any occasion, that Charcuterie, Pate, fresh vegetable salads and even river fish will be ideal with this pleasant quaffer.     

2010 Bourgogne red Hautes Cotes de Nuits
Cultivated on sloping vineyards growing on clay and lime-infused Jurassic rock terrain, planted in the vicinity of Nuits-Saint-Georges, this Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits was crafted under traditional Burgundian method of fermentation, with open vats and bi-daily pigeages, then aged in Burgundian large oak vats for at least 12-14 months. The resulting wine from the particularly good vintage that 2010 was in Burgundy, presents a pretty, bright red ruby color inviting you to put the glass to your nose to discover enticing aromas of red berries and mineral. The palate is marked by its sweet taste that develops from hints of ripe cherry, to blackberries, to wild strawberries with more mineral and texture. Overall, this wine has a solid vinosity, a fleshy texture and has a harmonious balance between the tannins, freshness and fruit, and the overall structure. Here again, another food wine to enjoy with fish like Tuna or Salmon, and more particularly with grilled red meats and cold cuts.   

I invite you to go to the Signature French Wines website for more info and details about availability and prices (and pictures and more). You can also visit the producer’s website at Domaine des Grands Vins de France for more details about these wines too (their website is in French).

Enjoy! And maybe see you at one of the next Signature French Wines events in Hong Kong or elsewhere.