I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis Sherman of Elden Selections, an importer of small production, estate bottled Burgundy. Though from the U.S., Dennis has spent about 30 years in Burgundy, bringing an insiders view of the region to American consumers. Back in 1983, Dennis and Eleanor Garvin packed up and moved to France, hoping to work in the restaurant industry, though their first job ended up being at a vineyard. Eventually, they bought a barge, Le Papillon, which could carry six passengers. In 1995, they started Elden Wine, mainly to obtain wines for their barge passengers, but their wine business soon grew. And now you can get their wines delivered to your door, though maybe not quite yet in Massachusetts.
After tasting five selections, both white and red Burgundies, from the Elden portfolio, I was impressed with what they presented. And once I delved deeper into the backgrounds of these wines, the stories behind the wineries seemed compelling. With around 90 selections, their portfolio is priced from $20-$180, meaning there are bottles for whatever your price point. I also found their website to be well done, containing plenty of information about their wines.
I started with the 2010 Domaine Borgeot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Morgeot' ($75). Pascal and Laurent Borgeot, brothers, are fourth generation winemakers and have about 48 acres of vines, the majority being 30 years old or older. They also use only organic fertilizers. The "Morgeot" was crisp and clean, elegant and complex, with intriguing tastes of pear, peach, and an underlying spice component. It was rich and compelling, with a lengthy and satisfying finish. When you taste this wine, you understand the amazing potential of superb Chardonnay.
Onto the red wines. The 2010 Maison Capitain-Gagnerot Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru 'Montottes' ($75) is made from grapes on vines that are 67 years old and it was aged in 10% new oak. With a light red color, the nose was composed of alluring red fruit aromas with hints of spice and earth. On the palate, it shows some concentration of red fruit flavors, blended with earthy elements, yet still presenting elegance rather than being too muscular and powerful. Plenty of complexity, well balanced, and a lingering finish.
The 2009 Domaine Jean Fery Vougeot 1er Cru 'Las Cras' ($90) is from a winery with a line extended back to the mid-1800s. Since 1994, the winery has been biodynamic, though not certified, and and has conducted several improvements during the last 20 years. I found this wine to possess a bit more power than the Montottes, but still possessed of a certain elegance as well. Its red fruit flavors were deeper and the earthiness was more prominent, along with a touch of minerality. And like the Montottes, there was lots of complexity, a nice balance, and a lingering finish. Another winner.
If you love Burgundy, then you must check out Elden Selections,
Ole Imports, a partnership between Patrick Mata and Alberto Orte, imports an excellent portfolio of Spanish wines and I have previously enjoyed a number of their selections. At the Vintner's Reserve Lounge, they presented several wines new to me which both pleased and impressed.
The 2011 Quinta da Muradella Alanda Blanco ($35) is from the Monterrei D.O., and is a blend of Godello, Treixadura and Doña Blanca. The winery conducts organic farming and winemaker Raul Perez consulted on this project. Less than 1000 cases of this wine were produced. With am aromatic nose, the palate delighted with crisp, clean flavors of lush pear and citrus with a vein of minerality. Nice complexity and a pleasing finish. Simply delicious, I could easily enjoy this on its own or paired with seafood or a light chicken dish.
The 2008 Mather Teresina Cellar Pinot, produced in the Terra Alta D.O., is the flagship wine of the Celler Vinos Piñol. It also is small production, from organically farmed grapes. It is made from 35% Garnacha, 35% Cariñena, and 30% Morenillo (an indigenous grape that is almost extinct). This wine possessed more juicy, ripe fruit flavors and milder tannins, making it very easy drinking. There were some subtle spice and herbal notes beneath the fruit. This is the type of wine you can easily enjoy on its own, savoring each lush sip.
Ole Imports continues to satisfy with their Spanish wine selections.
Bonny Doon Vineyard, based in Santa Cruz. Le Cigare Volant, the "flying cigar," is a French reference to "flying saucers." Interestingly, there is a law in Chateauneuf du Pape that prohibits the arrival of flying saucers. Randall thus decided to name his Rhone style blends after le cigare volant. He produces a white and red Le Cigare Volant, as well as a Reserve bottling of both.
As for the reds, the 2008 Le Cigare Volant is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignane. It is an intriguing and complex blend with alluring aromatics and a pleasant melange of red fruits, spice and earthiness with restrained tannins and a lengthy finish. It compares well to a fine French Rhone, and you would be hard pressed to guess this was made in California. The 2008 Le Cigare Volant Reserve ($79) is similar, though it presents with more spice and depth. a sublime wine meant to be slowly savored with good friends.