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Burgundy’s 2018 growing season was very hot and very early — one in a string of such seasons in recent years. One effect of these hot and dry years has been to remove many of the challenges that its vignerons often face — ripening is easy, yields are full, and there is less pressure from maladies of the vine. The wines from these years tend to be generous and round, and to drink well young — the 2017s, for example, are delicious already and our stock of them is dwindling rapidly. So it is likely to be with the 2018s, even though they are likely to live longer and the best will reach greater heights.

But extreme conditions also magnify the particularities of place and the choices made in the vineyards. A particular combination of slope, vine age, and microclimate can have a large impact on the character of wines; and in 2018s we have seen surprising differences in wines from the same neighborhood. It reminded us just how complex grape growing and winemaking can be, and of the remarkable variety that can appear in wines made from the same grape in the same region.

We are excited about the wines in October Futures. We lead with the 2018s from two top producers who own some of the Côte d’Or’s very finest terroir: Vincent Boyer in the Côte de Beaune (Meursault and Puligny) and Michel Gros in the Côte de Nuits (Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Morey St. Denis, and Nuits St. Georges). We are also pleased to feature terrific red Givrys from Gautier Desvignes, a rising star in the Côte Chalonnaise.

October Futures also includes delicious wines from the Southern Rhône. We have a full lineup from our friends at the Domaine les Goubert, from their hearty and simple Côtes du Rhône to their flagship Gigondas Cuvée Florence. We have also gone back to the Domaine Coulange for everyone’s favorite house red, the gulpable “Cuvée Mistral.” From the Loire valley we have both cuvées of Frederic Michot’s Pouilly Fumé, and from Champagne we have Pascal Bardoux’s excellent “Cuvée Traditionnel.” We revisit a perennial everyday favorite in Bordeaux. Finally, we have gone to Germany’s Mosel valley for some of Franz Dahm’s beautiful, ageworthy Rieslings.

As usual we hope to have included something for everyone’s taste. If anything is of interest, please submit your orders in case or half-case lots by the ORDER DEADLINE OF OCTOBER 25, 2020.


Domaine Michel Gros

Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy

As Allen Meadows (“Burghound”) put it, in Burgundy 2018 was an “exceptionally ripe and generous” vintage, but also a “highly variable” one. It was a vintage where experience mattered, and with more than forty vintages under his belt, there are few winemakers in Burgundy with more experience than Michel Gros. His 2018s are uniformly well made and delicious, though particularities of place made some of them more precocious than others.

The Domaine Michel Gros now offers four regional level red wines — one from the Côte d’Or proper (recently reclassified as Bourgogne Côte d’Or) and three from his parcels in the Hautes Côtes de Nuits, which lie up over the western ridge of the Côte d’Or. These have similar soil but about 100 meters more of elevation. We’ve chosen our two favorites from the Hautes-Côtes.

Gros’s 2018 Bourgogne Côte d’Or is strikingly dense and concentrated for a wine of its level. It is dominated by dark fruit of ripe black cherries, with some earthiness and notes of black olives. The chalky tannins provide plenty of support for the fruit. It’s more rustic than its neighbors in the villages of the Côte d’Or, but will offer very good drinking over the next three to five years. For the price, it’s hard to come by a better Bourgogne rouge. The Hautes Côtes de Nuits “Au Vallon” offers a bit more refinement. There’s a nice mineral line in play along with the fruit. The vines in Au Vallon face south, so they are generally the ripest of the Gros wines from the Hautes Côtes.

The Hautes Côtes monopole “Fontaine St. Martin” makes Gros’s most sophisticated regional level wine — in complexity and polish it resembles a junior varsity village level from Gros. The subsoils there are the same as those of the storied Hill of Corton, and Gros’s Fontaine St. Martin monopole yields a very complex wine. The 2018 has hints of mint and spice mixing with the nicely ripe fruit. There’s very good balance, a longer finish, and the promise of more development in the bottle. We expect this to age beautifully, and would suggest drinking over the next 1-5 years.

The Fontaine St. Martin is also the source of Gros’s only white wine: HCDN Fontaine-St-Martin blanc. The nose is a lovely marriage of fruit and oak. Gros adds a note of lemon peel with an overnight cold soak on the skins before fermentation begins. Floral aromas of white peach blossom join the fruit, making a lovely glass with a pleasant finish. This is excellent white Burgundy that rivals offerings from the better known white Burgundy vineyards of the Côte de Beaune.

At the village level, Gros’s Morey St. Denis “En la Rue de Vergy” lies near the top of the slope and touches no fewer than three Grand Cru Vineyards (the Clos des Lambrays, the Clos de Tart, and Bonnes Mares). It is excellent this year — perhaps the best wine we have seen from this vineyard. The lovely nose of dark cherry fruit marries with a subtle earthiness; and though it’s only in the bottle a few months, the tannins are barely perceptible on the finish. The balance is just right and the finish is very long. The only thing wrong with this wine is that the vineyard is very small, and as usual there’s very little of it. If it’s near the top of your wish list, be sure to get your order in early.

In Nuits St. Georges Gros makes two wines — one from a single vineyard, Les Chaliots, and another blended from three vineyards in the Nuits sector that adjoins Vosne-Romanée. We often find it difficult to choose between them, but in 2018 we found the blend particularly attractive. Like the Morey it has strikingly good balance. Here there’s a bit more minerality in the mix, and while Nuits is usually a wine of power, in this one some Vosne elegance seems to have seeped in from next door.

The domaine’s Chambolle-Musigny is village level, but like the Morey it comes from a good neighborhood. Half of the vines are from a plot adjoining the great Grand Cru Le Musigny; and as a result Gros’s Chambolle always has an intensity and concentration more resembling a premier cru than a village wine. In 2018 this is particularly so, and this wine will need a bit more time than usual to begin drinking really well. But patience will be rewarded: the dark cherry fruit will melt into its ripe tannins and this big Chambolle will grace your finest dinners. This wine stopped us in our tracks during our tasting – there’s more of everything: density, tannin, length, complexity and class. By the time it’s ready you’ll wish you’d bought more.

All three of the wines from Vosne-Romanée show the famous village’s signature elegance, with floral notes of violets joining spice to make for a particularly attractive nose. In the village wine, Burghound found notes of “exotic Asian tea” and an “interesting hint of dried tangerine peel;” and praised its “fine volume and intensity.” We found the 2018 inkier and richer than usual, but not at the expense of finesse. Both Vosne premier crus are also excellent this year. “Aux Brûlées” is particularly well knit together already — Burghound found it “powerful but sleek” — and its finish goes on and on. The nose shows smoke, woods, cassis, and dark ripe fruits; the tannins are fine grained and delicious. The family monopole Clos des Réas (the only premier cru monopole in Vosne) holds great promise. Burghound called it “velvet-textured” and noted its “elegant and seductive inner mouth perfume.” Together these three wines remind us of the Abbé de Courtepée’s comment centuries ago that “there are no ordinary wines in Vosne-Romanée.”

(case prices)

Bourgogne rouge 2018:  $295
HCDN “Au Vallon” 2018:  $350
HCDN “Fontaine-St-Martin” 2018:  $395
HCDN “Fontaine-St-Martin” blanc 2018: $425

Nuits-St-Georges 2018:  $695
Morey-St-Denis 2018:  $725
Chambolle-Musigny 2018:  $875
Vosne-Romanée 2018:  $875

Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Aux Brûlées” 2018:  $1,395
Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Clos des Réas” 2018:  $1,495

Domaine Boyer-Martenot

Meursault, Burgundy

Vincent Boyer is among the most talented of our winemakers, and his family owns some the Côte d’Or’s finest white wine terroir. It’s a powerful combination: today all of his wines are best in class, from the humble aligoté to the gorgeous premier crus from Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. Since he took over winemaking more than a decade ago, the Domaine Boyer-Martenot’s star has risen steadily. Many would be content with the renown he has achieved, but Vincent is an innovator. In 2017 he began acquiring cement eggs that have allowed him to lengthen his finest wines’ elevage from 12 to 20 months. It was a great idea. Twenty months in oak barrels might well have brought too much oxygenation, but the eggs allow extra time on the lees without continuing micro-oxygenation. The result is even more complexity than before.

Vincent Boyer makes the best Aligoté we have ever seen. This humble grape, Burgundy’s “other white,” often struggles to ripen and has an acid spine that’s difficult to tame. Most Burgundians solve this by using it in Kir, a delicious apéritif in which Crème de Cassis is added to soften it up. Vincent Boyer transforms Aligoté by barrel fermentation into a delicious wine that is round and smooth, though relatively inexpensive. His 2018 Aligoté is lovely — floral and golden with nice sucrosité and well-balanced freshness. It requires no Cassis (though it’s a delicious pair too). His Bourgogne Chardonnay similarly punches above its weight, benefiting from 20 months of élévage and his superb technique. It won’t have the exceptional character of his wines from the great terroirs, but it shows touches of refinement rarely seen in a Bourgogne — a hint of spice, a touch of mineral, and a lingering finish.

Meursault is a remarkably diverse terroir, unified by its clay-limestone soils but offering a wide range of subsoils and even wider range of elevations. The vineyards at the top of the slope lie 500 feet above those at the base — a very large spread. There is, of course, a typicity to Meursault’s wines, and anyone who knows them will speak readily of their opulence. But more than most villages there is a broad range of nuance.

In 2018s, we are offering two village Meursaults that illustrate the contrasts in the appellation’s terroir. From the upper part of the slope there is Narvaux, normally a clean and precise wine that is always listed among Meursault’s best village-level vineyards. Ormeau is stylistically opposite, in the village itself and on flat, clay-rich ground. It offers what people most often expect from Meursault — a rich and round wine with plenty of gras (fat). We like Narvaux best in the riper years, which knock off any sharp edges while leaving the beautiful complexity that is its signature; and for us 2018 is among the best of those ripe years. Narvaux’s balance in 2018 is just magnificent. (Burghound agreed, calling it “outstanding” and “very Meursault.”) On the other hand, if your taste runs to opulent wine, consider what comes from Ormeau’s nearly hundred-year-old vines. There is richness and sucrosité along with flavors that Burghound called “ample, rich, and caressing,” and “a seductive mouthfeel.” Lush, ripe, old-school Meursault.

Meursault has nineteen premier crus, but three are universally considered the best: Charmes, Genevrières, and Perrières. Wine writer Rajat Parr characterizes them thus: “Perrières — the eternal Grand Cru in waiting, with its epic fusion of body and minerality, frame and physique; Charmes — full bodied and physical, but deep and engaging; and Genevrieres — crystalline in structure, at once gossamer and formidable.” Vincent Boyer makes wine in all three — and as if that weren’t enough, he’s also one of only 5 owners of “En Cailleret,” one of Puligny’s finest premier cru vineyards. In 2018, as usual, it’s simply impossible to go wrong.

Charmes 1er cru 2018 is classic Meursault: rich, round and generous on the palate, with exotic and enticing perfume on the nose. Burghound gave 90-92 points, finding “citrus blossom, pear, apple and a hint of hazelnut.” It will drink well from the time it arrives in your cellar. Meursault 1er cru Genevrières was terrific last year, but the 2018 may be even better. The nose is more serious, less floral, and more precise. The depth and fullness are astonishing — Burhound cited its “intensity” and “impressively voluminous flavors.” Meursault 1er cru Perrieres offers minerality and tension on a highly concentrated base. It needs some time to develop its great complexity, but when it gets there it can be something to behold. Burghound awarded 91-93 points, calling it “utterly delicious” and “outstanding.”

We much enjoyed a recent brief video in which Dominique Lafon of Meursault’s Domaine Comtes Lafon discussed his village. [Link here.] In a few well-chosen words, Lafon highlights the signatures of Meursault’s best known vineyards, and then inadvertently (we think) gives up his personal favorite when he discusses Genevrieres. There is palpable enthusiasm as he describes “the most elegant wine produced in Meursault.”

Vincent Boyer also owns excellent plots in the neighboring village of Puligny-Montrachet: Reuchaux at the village level, and En Cailleret at premier cru. Puligny needs more time to show well than does Meursault — these are normally wines of tension and precision and require time in a quiet cellar to round out and integrate. Reuchaux 2018 will drink well a bit earlier than some vintages, but some patience is wise nonetheless. The balance of serious mineral and saline notes with perfectly clean fruit is extraordinary — it calls to mind Jay McInerney’s description of Puligny as the “Grace Kelly of wine.”. Burghound found notes of “citrus peel and essence of pear and apple compote,” calling it “delicious.” About this time next year it should begin to be excellent.

Boyer-Martenot’s plot in Puligny 1er cru “En Cailleret” is remarkable. Cailleret adjoins the great Grand Cru Montrachet to the south, and the Boyer family is one of just five vintners who own vines there. It is a wine of great intensity whose aromatic complexities reveal themselves only after a few years. Today an extraordinarily long finish marks its likely greatness. Burghound awarded 91-93 points, calling it “outstanding” and citing “intensity and precision” with a “chiseled finish.” His suggested drinking window begins in 2028, but we won’t fault you for trying a bottle in 2024.

(case prices)

Aligoté 2018: $225
Bourgogne blanc 2018:  $350

Meursault “Ormeau” 2018:  $725
Meursault “Narvaux” 2018:  $725

Meursault 1er “Charmes” 2018:  $1,095
Meursault 1er “Genevrières” 2018:  $1,195
Meursault 1er “Perrières” 2018:  $1,295

Puligny-Montrachet “Reuchaux” 2018:  $825
Puligny-Montrachet 1er “Cailleret” 2018:  $1,495

Propriété Desvignes

Givry, Burgundy

The Côte Chalonnaise lies just to the south of the Côte d’Or. Its vineyards are arrayed differently — less along a single contiguous line oriented southeast than in patches around its villages with varying orientations. This distinction affects viticulture in a variety of ways, among them the ease with which grapes ripen. Less consistent ripening has been a principal reason why the Côte Chalonnaise trails the Côte d’Or in renown. But the trend toward warmer growing seasons and a string of vintages affected by them has worked in favor of the Côte Chalonnaise, blurring that distinction and making for more wines that drink well young. Pricing has not yet caught up to the changing reality, and this makes towns like Givry, Mercurey and Rully places where bargains can still be found.

The Domaine Desvignes is one such place. Gautier Desvignes, the grandson of the vigneron with whom we first dealt twenty years ago, has transformed the viticulture and the winemaking over the past few years. The wine journalists have noticed: Vinous’s Neal Martin has called his work “really quite superb,” and Parker’s William Kelley MW calls the domaine “very much a Côte Chalonnaise address to watch.” The 2018 vintage is a fine one in Givry, and we are pleased to suggest a village level red and three premier crus.

In years past, Givry might have been accused of producing timid wines lacking depth and stuffing. In 2018 at least, that criticism doesn’t apply. Gautier crafted his perfectly ripe fruit into seriously dense wines, combining intense red Pinot fruit with inky tannins. His 2018 village level Givry offers excellent value — the nose shows dark plum, cinnamon, and spice. The mouth is punchy and dense, with deliciously chewy tannins and an attractive texture. The fruit is ripe, young, and gulpable — Pinot with the soul of a Beaujolais.

“Le Vernoy” is a recently replanted 1er cru vineyard. Though young, the vinestock was well chosen and the wine already shows much promise. The 2018 has a fragrant nose of sweet cherry fruit with floral notes of violets. There’s good weight in the mouth, more elegant than big. This cuvée has more new oak than we usually see here, and for the moment its vanilla nose is noticeable. But before long the elements should integrate and the wine will show very well indeed. This is modern Pinot Noir that combines (almost) New World fruit with Burgundian finesse.

The Clos Vernoy 1er cru, the family’s monopole just behind the winery, is very nice in 2018. There’s a pleasantly dusty nose mingling with dark cherry fruit and a floral element that recalls peonies and perhaps menthol. The wine is already drinking well; it’s refreshing but mouthfilling at the same time. This is a pretty wine that will be just right with grilled chicken and oven roasted new potatoes.

Clos Charlé 1er cru is from a vineyard on the northern end of the town. The 2018 shows excellent balance and will gain complexity and cohesion over the next five years — we’d begin drinking next spring. The ripe blueberry fruit aromas lead into a pleasantly round and juicy mid-palate. There is very good length here, with a lingering finish. Lovers of pure pinot fruit will find this wine particularly attractive — it’s the most serious of the bunch, and the most impressive.

(case prices)

Givry 2018:  $295
Givry 1er cru “le Vernoy” 2018:  $350
Givry 1er cru “Clos du Vernoy” 2018:  $375
Givry 1er cru “Clos Charlé” 2018:  $375

Domaine les Goubert

Gigondas, Rhône

We have been buying wine at the Domaine les Goubert for more than twenty-five years, since winemaker Florence Cartier (namesake for the flagship Cuvée Florence) was a small girl. It is not only one of our longest-tenured producers, it is among the most consistent. Year in and year out, the Cartiers produce excellent Southern Rhône wine across a wide price range. Part of the reason for the consistency, of course, is the Southern Rhône climate: the combination of constant sun and the Mistral that blows through the Rhône promotes healthy grapes with an ease that could make a Burgundy winemaker weep. But more importantly, the Cartiers know their terroir and their vines, and know how to make wine that people love to drink.

The range begins with their Côtes du Rhône, a deft blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Brun Argenté (aka Vaccarèse). This straightforward wine is vinified simply — five months in cement vats — and is meant to be drunk in the two or three years after the vintage. The wine is all about its fruit, and the Carignan and Vaccarese add interest and texture. It’s rich, rugged, and particularly delicious in 2019. It’s a wine for all sorts of casual occasions, from tailgates to to picnics to simple weeknight meals.

The next step up is from the next-door village of Sablet. This wine is more concentrated from a longer maceration and spends 9 months in élévage. The tannins are a bit lighter weight than the Côtes du Rhône, and the fruit a bit redder — the extra two years in the bottle give it a silkier texture and a bit more cohesiveness. It’s versatile as well, complementing hearty soups and stews, and just about anything from the grill. (We neglected to offer this wine last year and received more than a few complaints — we won’t make the same mistake again.)

The village of Beaumes de Venise is nestled up against the Dentelles de Montmirail, just around the corner from Gigondas. It is best known for its vin doux naturel of Muscat, but the Cartiers have a plot that produces a big, rich red from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. When winter rages outside, consider pairing this wine with a Daube Provencale or a Pot Roast braised in red wine and aromatic vegetables. Look for notes of provençal spice and tobacco laid over dark jammy fruit and earth. It’s astonishingly complete wine for under $17/bot.

The Domaine les Goubert is in Gigondas, and its signature wines are from this village. This is among the very best wines of the Southern Rhône, with more than a passing resemblance to Châteauneuf du Pape. It’s on the opposite side of Chateauneuf’s alluvial plain, and its slightly higher elevation produces wines with more freshness and cut. Goubert’s classic Gigondas cuvée is a blend of five grapes — Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Clairette. Elevage is for 12 months, half in cement vats and the other half in older oak barrels. The result is a generous, complex, silky wine that sports a blend of ripe fruit overlaid with notes of spice and tobacco. The 2017 vintage is excellent. Vinous’s Josh Raynolds called it “juicy, focused, and light on its feet, offering bitter cherry, raspberry, lavender pastille flavors and a touch of back-end spiciness.” He praised its “suave floral nuance” as the wine opens up.

Jean-Pierre and Mireille Cartier were fans of the Burgundian style, and early in their careers they decided to make a luxury cuvée raised in Burgundy-sized oak barrels. They named it Cuvée Florence for their daughter, and used equal parts Grenache and Syrah from their best locations. Half of the barrels are new oak.This wine benefits from time in the bottle, and we are pleased to have the 2015 vintage to offer here. Cuvée Florence 2015 is a big wine that even now will benefit from an hour in a carafe before serving. This wine is big, bold, and hard not to like — it’s got more depth than many a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Vinous gave 92 points, finding “a powerful, exotically perfumed bouquet” and calling it “sweet and expansive in the mouth, offering pliant blueberry and bitter cherry.”

Magnums add a touch of celebration to any occasion, and we enjoy having them at the ready in our cellar. They age more slowly than bottles, so peak maturity will be further out than the comparable bottle. In this offering we have Goubert’s Gigondas 2016 and 2017 — the 2016 vintage of Gigondas was bigger and denser than the 2017, with similar aromatic and flavor profiles.

(case prices)

Côtes du Rhône 2019:  $150
Sablet 2017:  $165
Beaumes-de-Venise 2018:  $195
Gigondas 2017:  $285
Gigondas “Cuvée Florence” 2015:  $495

Goubert Gigondas 2016 (6x 1.5L):  $295
Goubert Gigondas 2017 (6x 1.5L):  $295

Domaine Coulange

Bourg-St-Andèol, Rhône

Need a house red? Look no further than Christelle Coulange’s Côtes du Rhône “Cuvée Mistral 2018. The Domaine Coulange is in Bourg St. Andéol, at the northern frontier of the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Its vines sit high on a hill overlooking the Rhône from the west — the views are spectacular (stretching to Mont Blanc on a clear day) and superb air drainage keeps the vines healthy whatever the growing season brings. Cuvée Mistral is a vat-raised blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, made simply and in good quantity. But nonetheless it captures the beautifully ripe fruit on which it relies, adds just a bit of minerality, and offers a surprisingly complete glass.

The 2018 may be our favorite vintage of Cuvée Mistral. The wine is juicy and pleasant and remarkably easy to drink. The French have a saying “the first glass calls for the second;” and if there ever was a wine to prove the maxim, this is it. And the most surprising thing about the wine is how well it keeps — we’ve opened a bottle four or five years after the vintage, and we’ve not yet encountered a tired one.

Cuvée Mistral 2018 is a wine to buy in quantity and to drink early and often. However much you buy, you’re likely to wish you had bought more.

(case prices)

Côtes du Rhône “Mistral” 2018:  $150

Domaine Michot

Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

Winemaker Frederic Michot is as brisk and energetic as his wines. He talks (and drives) fast, and sports the no-nonsense attitude found in a glass of his Pouilly-Fumé: pure Sauvignon blanc, no oak, clean and crisp. Michot’s side of the river may be less famous than his neighbor Sancerre, but he isn’t willing to concede it any advantage. His wines are delicious Sauvignon blanc — precise, focused, unoaked, and bursting with clean dry fruit, and beautiful tension.

We brought in his 2019 Pouilly-Fumé regular cuvée earlier this year after the rush of spring orders, but our entire stock evaporated before the summer was out. As the readers who bought us out will tell you, it’s just delightful — pure, delicious Sauvignon blanc fruit. The warm year gives it extra weight to support the refreshing grapefruit aromas. Serve it with goat cheese, particularly Crottin de Chavignol.

As usual, Michot’s 2019 Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes is even better. The vines are from the 1940s, and produce intense, concentrated juice that Michot crafts into simply beautiful wine. The nose is more floral than the regular cuvée, with more grapefruit, chalk, and cream in the mouth. Like the first cuvée, it sees no oak. We only hope we’re turning out work half this good when we turn 80.

At $195 and $225, both cases are great options for a house white.

(case prices)

Pouilly-Fumé 2019:  $195
Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes 2019:  $225

Chateau Lafont-Menaut

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Bordeaux has plenty of wines that require decades of patience and a second mortgage. But we’re also fans of the simpler stuff — hearty, well-made wines with character and stuffing. The 2018 vintage in Bordeaux produced truly exciting wines, with loads of ripe fruit and beautiful texture.

Château Lafont-Menaut is the second property of the famous Chateau Carbonnieux, run by winemaker Phillipbert Perrin. It’s long been one of our go to sources for inexpensive Bordeaux, and the 2018 Lafont-Menaut rouge is lip smackingly good. It overperforms because it doesn’t overpromise — the nose shows inky plums, tobacco, lavender, and cassis. The mouth is dense and full, with rugged but beautifully integrated tannins. Master of Wine Jane Anson called it “great stuff” with “well-handled extraction” and “a sure-value pick.”

Like the Frederic Michot wines above, Lafont-Menaut’s 2019 Pessac-Leognan blanc is pure Sauvignon blanc — but the gravel-heavy terroir produces an entirely different wine. It’s less lush and more serious than the Pouilly-Fumés, with beautiful citrus and tropical notes alongside herbs and stones. Serve with mussels this fall.

(case prices)

Pessac-Leognan rouge 2018:  $250
Pessac-Leognan blanc 2019:  $250

Pascal Bardoux

Montagne-de-Reims, Champagne

The French may have gotten a fast start with the Minitel in the 1980s, but they’re not exactly leading the communications race today. Most of our winemakers have websites now, but many haven’t been updated in years. We communicate with most of them by email, but the pace is distinctly un-American. (Yes, yes — they’ll probably live happier and longer lives, but we have thirsty readers to please.)

One particularly inaccessible vigneron is Pascal Bardoux, our source for delicious grower Champagne in Montagne-de-Reims. Over months of back and forth by email this summer with his export agent in Beaune (the only way to reach him), we learned that only one cuvée was available this year, and not until November. No explanation, no debate.

The good news, though, is threefold: the price is still excellent, our president’s tariffs don’t apply to bubbles, and the available cuvée is everyone’s favorite, the Brut Traditionnel. With a Futures price under $40/bot, this is among the best values we source.

Bardoux’s Brut Traditionnel NV is a blend of 60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir. This wine has the complexity and depth to match the finest bottles from Burgundy or Bordeaux. The nose shows plum, chalk, lime zest, and buttered biscuits; the mouth is dry, elegant, and smooth, with notes of apple and toast.

It takes a while to make good Champagne, and even longer to get Pascal to send us some, but we promise it’s worth the wait. Unless something goes wrong we expect this to arrive in time for Christmas, when you can pour yourself a glass and turn off your phone too.

(case prices)

Champagne Brut Traditionnel NV:  $475

Weingut Franz Dahm

Bernkastel, Mosel, Germany

No serious wine collector’s cellar is complete without German Rieslings. A marriage of slate-covered vertiginous slopes with a grape capable of unparalleled crystalline precision, the Rieslings of Germany are one of the wine world’s oldest and most iconic products.

Their bad rap is partially deserved — cheap sweet Rieslings and extremely confusing labels cause many wine drinkers to throw up their hands and avoid them entirely. But these chronically overlooked wines are nearly unmatched in price, longevity, and food adaptability, and we’re excited to offer them again for the first time in several years.

Weingut Franz Dahm is in Bernkastel, an ancient town perched on the steep banks of the Mosel River. Dahm’s vines are located next to the famous Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard, considered among the best in Germany. We’re suggesting four wines this time — two dry, one off-dry, and one sweet.

The first is Dahm’s Mosel Riesling kabinett trocken 2014. This is classic, bone-dry German Riesling — the nose is smoky and beautiful showing slate, grapeskin, lime, and dry melon. The mouth is crisp and refreshing, with notes of orange peel, salt spray, and smoke. Pair it with sushi or other raw seafood like oysters or scallops

Next, the Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese trocken 2003. With over 15 years in the bottle, this has picked up the classic petrol notes of older German rieslings. It’s refined and beautiful, completely dry, with exceptional depth and mouthfeel. Look for dried green apples, petrol, and lemon zest in the nose.

Our third suggestion is Dahm’s Bernkasteler Bratenhofchen Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken 2008. Halbtrocken means half-dry, but we might call this “dreivierteltrocken” (three-quarter dry) — a small splash of residual sugar makes it start soft and finish dry. This nose is beautiful and delicate, showing bright apple and lime zest. The mouth begins soft and round, but finishes with a burst of beautiful mineral texture. To borrow a phrase from wine writer Eric Asimov, this is “thrillingly tense.” We think it makes beautiful aperitif.

Finally, an Auslese — a late harvest wine made only in years with excellent quality grapes. The 2005 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese is sweet but beautifully balanced. With 68 grams per liter of residual sugar, it’s far less sweet than Sauternes (80-120 g/L) or Eiswein (160-220 g/L). We think this makes an excellent choice to serve with dessert, rather than in place of it. Look for notes of flowers, apple tart, dried oranges, and a hint of petrol. The mouth is mid-sweet with nice minerality, soft acid, and a clean finish that’s not cloying or heavy.

(case prices)

Riesling Kabinett trocken 2014:  $195
Riesling Spätlese trocken 2003:  $265
Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken 2008:  $195
Riesling Auslese 2005:  $365



Though we can’t guarantee it, we expect these wines to be in before Christmas. Our best guess is the first or second week of December.

If you have any trouble submitting the new order form, you can always email us your order. Or give us a call with questions: 617-249-3657, or

The deadline to place orders for this issue is: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25.

Questions? Need advice? Call us: (617) 249-3657.

Pick-up in Massachusetts. We store our inventory in a basement in Newton (437 Newtonville Ave), and open it up to the public on Saturday afternoons. Futures customers can pick up their orders here during Saturday open hours, or by appointment.

Pick-up in Pennsylvania. Many of those who aren’t near Boston will choose to collect their wine in Sharon Hill, PA. For such people, we offer pickup at a new storage location for a month after arrival.

Shipping elsewhere. In most states we can arrange for shipping at an additional cost that varies by location ($3.50 per bottle to the addresses west of Chicago; $2.50 per bottle east of Chicago). If shipping interests you, let us know the state and we will figure out if it can be done.