Burgundy at his Feet. And he's only 21. Meet Pierre Girardin.

Youthful brilliance, historical roots in Burgundy, and a masterful blending of talent and terroir have produced a debut vintage like few others we can remember. One might ask what they were doing when they were 20-21 years old? Pierre-Vincent Girardin can say he made a range of 18 wines from Bourgogne level all the way up to storied Grand Crus such as Corton and Montrachet – and at a quality level that has already put him in the conversation with more experienced and famous growers.

Pierre Girardin is the 13th generation of his family to make wine in Burgundy. This brilliant yet youthful winegrower grew up learning in the vines and cellar of his father, Vincent Girardin.

Just in Time for the Weekend

Just in Time for the Weekend

Fall is fast approaching, but we have another fabulous weekend in store. For that we bought in some more rosés - the Lulumi that I had in storage, the last of the AIX and deliberately for Fall I brought in a Sangiovese rosé from Fanti. We also restocked the Heritage Pinot Noir from Oregon and the Ransom Red Blend from Rogue Valley, Oregon.

Also during the week I got in some terrific Barbaresco from Carlo Giacosa and don't forget, the Barolo/Barbaresco Direct Import offering is still on-going through next Saturday. To read the full report and access the prices just click here: http://www.wineatfive.com/wine-ismy-journey

This week we have:

An Offering of 2015 Barolo & Barbaresco at Direct Import prices.

An Offering of 2015 Barolo & Barbaresco at Direct Import prices.

September is a great month in my industry. The first two weeks are filled with trade tastings, and the third week is my annual Barolo Luncheon at Bruculino in Norwalk (one of the ultimate best Italian restaurants in Connecticut). This year the concentration will be on the fabulous 2015 vintage. Coming off the back-end of a difficult 2014 vintage, these ‘15s are the most expressive wines from Barolo I have tasted since 2006. I feel they surpass the 2010 vintage for a very simple reason. They are utterly approachable…now, and yet will give delight over the next 20+ years if you choose to lay them down and forget about them. As I grow older, approachability is a wine descriptor that I cherish!

The Perfect Fall Wine

The Perfect Fall Wine

As I gear up for the fall season and test my ability to remain sober whilst attending all the fall trade tastings, I am reminded that it’s not just about me! Everyone has different tastes and whilst they may not be to my liking, they are to that individual and it would seem reasonable that I, as a wine merchant, should be cognizant of that demand. So, I thought what better way to restock Wine at Five than to ask my customers, and readers what their favorite wines are. So, if you want to participate, feel free to e-mail me back with a few of your favorite wines. If you can’t remember the name, maybe send me what you like in a wine – do you like it rich and high in alcohol (like an Amarone or a Californian Cabernet), do you want it to be silky smooth and white with a hint of oak, like a well balanced French Burgundian chardonnay? Would you like to see more Malbecs, or more Australian wines? Let me know so that when I go to these tastings I can go with a ‘shopping list of desires.’

Jolie-Laide Spring Release

Jolie-Laide Spring Release

“You wouldn’t eat the same thing every day or listen to the same music every day. But people choose to drink the same wine every day? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. “ – Scott Schultz, Proprietor Jolie-Laide Winery

 I couldn’t say it better myself. I first met Scott 2 years ago at a trade show hosted by his New York distributors. We had much in common, and whilst I knew of his wines, I also knew that my ability to obtain any of his miniscule quantity production was about as likely as winning this week’s Power Ball. And so I was very surprised when, shortly after that meeting, my sales rep called me and told me that Scott had asked that I be added to the allocation list of his wines – along with 11 Madison, Per Se and a few other starred restaurants. Ever since, I await his annual release like a child awaits his 3rd birthday (I don’t think kids really have any idea what birthday 1 and 2 are all about).

Niepoort Nat'Cool Red Wine

Niepoort Nat'Cool Red Wine

It’s still gloomy out there. And there is still rain in the forecast. And its feeling more and more like we are living in Seattle! And so yesterday afternoon, in amongst a bevy of wines that various suppliers brought to the store to cheer us up and taste, there was one that just brighten everyone’s demeanor. It was such fun, with a kick-ass label and great juice to boot.

The wine was Nat’Cool.

Join Faith Armstrong Foster and Onward Wines

Join Faith Armstrong Foster and Onward Wines

Sometimes you just have to taste it. It’s all well and good for me to wax lyrical about this wine or that, and many of you thankfully have grown to like my tastes and you buy the wines blind on my descriptions. But every now and again you need to try the wines before you buy them. Although simply opening a bunch of wine every Friday afternoon and having someone not related to the wines or the winery give a pre-written synopsis of what you are drinking is not my idea of having fun or adding to the buying experience. So, I have generally waited until we can invite the actual person – the wine-maker, the owner and the cellar rat all in one, before inviting everyone else to come and join us. And so, this Friday I am very excited to invite Faith Armstrong Foster to Wine at Five.

Pairing Wines with Easter

Pairing Wines with Easter

Yea, it’s Easter. It’s a second Thanksgiving! I love any holiday that centers around food and drink, especially if it doesn’t include stress! And unlike Thanksgiving where you have to try and figure out what to pour with the great white shark in the middle of the table, Easter comes with a plethora of different foods and wine choices. Personally, I am a Francophile during this holiday. I’ll be roasting up a leg of lamb slathered in crushed rosemary, garlic and S+P; potato gratin with lashings of butter and double cream, roasted asparagus and a great big green salad (with petit pois scattered over – a nod to the English countryside). And to pour with this I’ll go French. But I know that there are some who won’t be doing lamb, and won’t be doing French so I’ve added some favorites from Italy and California that I think will pair up with pretty much any other type of main course.

Here’s what I have:

Just in time for dinner - Chateau Les Gravieres de la Brandille

I felt compelled to write a quick introduction and tasting note for this wine after I opened a bottle at a 'dog and pony' show tasting last Wednesday night in the store.The theme for the tasting was overwhelming, undervalued, and this wine hit it out of the ball park.

I first started buying the wine in the 2014 vintage. It was very good back then and I wished I had kept some for myself. The 2015 vintage was as good and again, I wished I had kept some for myself. But the present vintage, 2016, is simply awesome and awesome value.

A tiny offering of wines from Claude Dugat

The wines of Domaine Dugat have been captivating collectors for decades. Even when I first came accross his wines in the late 80’s the wines were expensive and ultra rare. I remember opening the first bottle of 1990 Dugat Griottes Chambertin and thinking ‘if they made a perfume that smelled like this I would fall in love with anyone who wore it. I think it was the first time I thought it would be really innovative to make perfumes that smelled like great wine!

A tiny offering of wines from Emmanuel Reynuad

Ask most anyone to name three of the greatest wine-makers in the Côtes du Rhône and you should hear the name Château Rayas and Château Fonsalette in the mix. I have not had many bottles of Fonsalette so I can’t offer much on that front, however I did stash away a few cases of Rayas back in the early 90’s and I still, every now and again, pull out a bottle and simply marvel at it’s greatness. The estate itself is shrouded in mystery. Robert Parker, when describing the 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape (98+) said this: “One of the world's most mysterious estates is Chateau Rayas. This small 30-acre estate is owned by the Reynaud family, which dates back to the late 19th century. The estate has always had an image of secrecy and seclusion… Following the death of Jacques Reynaud in 1997, his nephew, Emmanuel took over, and he continues to produce wines that go from strength to strength. A cool climate property in a hot zone, Rayas is tucked away in a forest with its vineyards basically one parcel of sandy soil. Emmanuel Reynaud, who is also the proprietor of the outstanding Vacqueyras estate called Domaine des Tours, has the same eccentric idiosyncrasies as his uncle.”

Wines that Sing - the masterpieces of Timbre Winery

t’s been a great few weeks on the tasting front. Lots of Burgundies to begin, then some terrific wines from Oregon and then to cap this week off a series of explosive wines from California. YES! California. As many of you know, California wines are generally not high on my love letter list. But in the interests of forever expanding my wine horizons I agreed to an early morning tasting with Joshua Klapper. 

The Semi-Annual Burgundy Report

It’s a great time of the year to be in the wine business. Although, to be honest, all year is a great time to be in the wine business. But right now is when we have a multitude of trade tastings and with those come the wine makers. And with the wine makers comes knowledge. Specifically, knowledge about the vintage. And if there is one area in the world that is vintage specific its Burgundy. Early hail can wipe out a vintage, overbearing summer heat can destroy the fruit, late august rains can finish what otherwise may have been an exemplary vintage. Burgundy, by its geographic location gets all things that nature can conjure up – snow, ice, hail, scorching sun and devastating floods. And its why I find the wines from Burgundy some of the most intoxicating and complex wines in the world.

The next Chateau de Beaucastel?

Way back when, I had recently returned to London from living in France. Toward the end of my stay there I came across an amazing red wine from the Rhone. I hadn’t ventured far out of my home town, in Perpignan, and my comfort zone was mostly wine from Spain or Languedoc. The Rhone was an area I knew little about. But this wine was utterly divine - lots of oaky aromatics, plenty of plush dark fruits, jammy, figgy and quite exotic. Being young at the time I liked the latter flavor the most! I was dismayed that I couldn’t buy it in England, but I remember driving to Calais one weekend and at the local supermarket I saw the unforgettable label and for about £5 per bottle I bought 3 or 4 cases of the 1983 Chateau de Beaucastel Cote du Rhone. It became a legendary vintage and a legendary wine. I mention this because over the subsequent decades I have always hoped to find something equivalent - truly great wine at a great price - the Holy Grail of the wine enthusiast. Sadly, you aren’t going to find much at $5 these days but $15 is probably the equivalent of the £5 I spent back in 1985.

When in Spain...drink only the best

When in Spain...drink only the best

Many, many, years ago I became transfixed with the wines of Spain. Possibly because I lived outside of Perpignan for a while and we would venture into Barcelona for good food and better wine than we got back in Languedoc. But over the years my love affair with Spanish wine stayed strong until Parkerization took place. All of a sudden Spain was the hot commodity. If you didn’t have Spanish wines in your cellar or in your shop you didn’t know wine. Parker started handing out 100+ point scores like there was no tomorrow. Winemakers lapped it all up and began making more and more heavily extracted, Cola meets Barbie style wines. That’s when I moved on…toward Burgundy. Burgundy is its own animal. Not for the feint hearted and not for those who follow the critics scores. Most Burgundians aren’t overly fond of critics – except perhaps Neil Martin.

 

But what if you could experience the pleasures of Burgundian style wines from Spain? What if there were wine-makers in Spain who didn’t really care about scores, and 100 pointers. Didn’t want to be a Lear Jet owner? What if there were wine-makers who cared more about the actual quality than making a wine for a critic’s taste? Could I be enticed to rethink Spain? Yes.

The Famed wines of Jolie-Laide

In fairness to the French term, Pretty and Ugly allows an artist much lee-way in the pursuit of greatness. Scott Schultz is an artistic wine-maker. He makes less than 500 cases of his own label each year. They are ‘unconventionally beautiful’ wines and they are some of the most sought after wines in California. Up there with the likes of Manfred Krankl and Togni. Fortunately, at least for now, not up there in the stratospheric price realm of his counterparts.

What's in My Glass? April 12

Sometimes it’s fun to just go back to basics. In any given week we get the rarified, sometimes, opportunity to taste really expensive wine. More often than not I am underwhelmed. More often than not the wines come with 1,000,000-point scores. Sometimes it’s just nice to try a bunch of wines, new, or seasoned winners, that meet the criteria of being just good everyday wine at a good price. Over the last few tasting sessions these are some of those wines: 

What's in My Glass? March 19

There has to be a little trust somewhere. And I don’t mean, ‘the check is in the post’; we know that’s bollocks. But in wine, there must be a little trust. But…like any bit of trust, you need to work up to it and deserve it. And maybe, after 12 years of delivering reasonably decent wine to customers at Wine at Five, we have earned a little bit of trust. Certainly more than the Muppet, who is presently trying to earn a little bit of trust from Melania, but let’s hope she doesn’t give it to him.

What's in My Glass? February 12

An interesting week of wine. Like the winter Olympics going on now we had some surprising failures, some that should never have been sent abroad and some absolute gold winners. In no particular order here’s what we liked:
 
Ailala, Ribeiro Treixadura. A white wine from Galicia, Spain. Windswept, salty, plump around the edges with great florality. This last word will be used a lot from now on. Can’t find it in the dictionary, which is just silly, so I made up my own definition – a wine with florality is one that has aromas of flowers, a palette reminiscent of the scent, is pretty, fresh and vibrant – just like a bouquet of fresh picked flowers.
But with fish, this wine is standout. It spends a few months sitting on its lees and this gives the wine a little roundness – do not mistake this for oak – no oak touches it. The weight adds a dimension that puts this wine beyond Pinot Grigio and Vino Verde. A really lovely, clean, fresh Spring white.
Discounted Price: $20.00 SAVE 20%

The Weekly Wine

The  Weekly Wine

Fattoria San Lorenzo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2016 $15.00 ($17.00 on the shelf)

This is a great introduction to Verdicchio. The grape is most commonly grown in the Marche region of Italy and whilst there are many inexpensive and plonkish versions of the wine, if you do the homework and find small producers using old clones and limiting production, the wine can be truly delicious. As in the case of Fattoria San Lorenzo. Gino – the father of the present wine maker stared planting verdicchio clones back in ‘40s and his son has tended the vineyards since the early 1990’s. He transferred everything to organic and biodynamic farming and reduced yields to miniscule amounts. Total production across all 7 wines is less than 2,000 cases. This has a lovely bright lemon skin flavor, hints of almond paste on the finish and great acidity. Who needs another Pinot Grigio?