FRANCE’S MOST APPELLATION NUMEROUS REGION OFFERS DIVINE CLASSICS AS WELL AS AFFORDABLE BLISS
by Neil Shrodo
IRISH WHISKEY EXPANDS IN CASKS AND KINDS
Irish whiskey is one of the fastest growing spirit categories in the U.S., largely fueled by new options that showcase complexity and quality. Classic producers like Jameson, Tullamore Dew, and Bushmills are offering more options like barrel finished products, while newcomers such as Proper No. Twelve, Slane, and Teeling are rolling out a diversity of styles, flavors, and price points.
This type of whiskey tends to be smoother and more gentle than scotch, due to its malt not being peat smoked (though there are exceptions). Traditionally, Irish whiskey is made in a pot still, though several styles, like single grain, utilize a coffey still. Blended types are often a mix of both methods. Some standouts:
Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey:
MMA fighter Conor McGregor’s product is a blend of malt and grain. Vanilla bean scented with flavors of orchard fruit and honey, with a kick of white pepper. $26.99
Teeling Irish Whiskey Single Grain:
This gem, aged in California Cabernet casks, presents flavors of honeyed apple and red grapes (with gently sweet treacle) that finishes light and buttery. $49.99
Jameson Cask mates Stout Finish 1L:
Aged in stout barrels, this has aromas of wood spice and chocolate and flavors of orchard fruits with a hint of vanilla cream, chocolate, and a floral note. $39.99
TRUSTING IN TERRIOR
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir two of the most popular grapes among consumers over the past half century are, interestingly, both from the same region of France Burgundy, where some of the most prized reds and whites on earth are produced.
Grapes have been grown in this east central region of France as far back as the second century, AD, and by 560 its wines were considered among the best in the known world. Extensive plantings were made by the Catholic Church, with many monastic orders incorporating still famous vineyards like Clos de Vougeot, which was established in 1336. This particular power of the clergy waned, however, and after the French Revolution, most vineyards were sold to private owners.
Burgundy, like so many legendary vinicultural regions, is driven by the concept of terroir unique flavor imparted by a particular area’s combination of vine types, soil, water, and other environmental factors. This is one reason why, on Burgundy labels, you rarely see grape types, but often a town or village name, vineyard name, even the name of a parcel within a vineyard.
White burgundy varieties of note include Corton Charlemagne, Chablis, and Puligny and Chassagne Montrachet, along with Meursault and Pouilly Fuissé all made almost exclusively from Chardonnay (with a few minor exceptions). The top vineyards are generally considered to be in Côte de Beaune, though Chablis and the Mâcon both have their appeal. Flavors include apple, golden pear, quince, and yellow plum, as well as secondary flavors of nuts, brioche, and minerals.
Red Burgundies are made from Pinot Noir grapes (with the exception of Beaujolais, which are made from Gamay). Notable towns are Gevrey Chambertin, Vosne Romanée, Nuits Saint Georges, Pommard, and Vougeot many of these with world famous vineyards such as Romanée Conti, Le Chambertin, and Clos de Vougeot prized for their quality, and with prices to match.
Not everything from the region is expensive, however. Look for values in Village level wines from Chablis or Pouilly Fuissé for whites, Fixin or Côte de Beaune for reds. You might also want to investigate Bourgogne Blancs or Bourgogne Rouges, which are often a blend of villages or regions.
Laboure Roi Pouilly Fuissé 2017:
What a bargain! Soft and gentle, with ripe pear and apple layered with hints of marzipan and roasted hazelnuts. Merveilleux! $19.99
Latour Giraud Bourgogne Blanc 2017:
Like a mini Meursault at half the price, this stunner is packed with juicy melon and succulent stone fruit layered over a ripe citrus and white flower finish. $34.99
Pierre Ravaut Corton Charlemagne 2016 (seen here):
scents of pears and fresh almonds powerful in the mouth and loaded with texture and flavors of ripe pear and dried apricots. $99.99
Henri Latour Hauts Côte de Beaune 2017:
Packed with black cherry flavor, with a mineral finish. $19.99
Lignier Michelot Bourgogne Rouge 2017:
A blend of three vineyards, this offers berryscented floral notes with a medium bodied earthy finish that’s just delicious. $34.99
Daniel Rion & Fils VosneRomanée Les Chaumes 2015 (seen here):
Vibrant, with a long building flavor of sandalwood and cherry, as well as wood spice and loam. Complex, and will age nicely. $79.99
Super Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, 575 Manila Avenue, Jersey City, 201.239.1200, buyritewines.com