Monday, January 15, 2018

To Hell With Burgundy -- Just Kidding!

Etienne Julien

It's pretty hard to not covet Burgundy wines.They're just so irresistibly damn good! 

    Even though the winemakers themselves sell their liquid heritage for a pretty penny, they're always quietly ballistic over the stratospheric prices achieved later by middlemen in the secondary market.That's where you and I come in. Way later. 

    To get the very top Burgundy wines you have to buy each bottle bundled together with ten or eleven distantly related siblings and even then you need to be an industry insider or a plutocrat. 

    Sure you can buy Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines from around the world, and some of it's pretty fine, if that's good enough for you. Another way is to contact boutique importing agencies like CGU Fine Wines in Ontario. 

    Among their current offerings are an interesting Cremant de Bourgogne sparkler from Meursault made by Domaine Francois Mikulski coming this spring at around $30.Think Blanc de Blancs (i.e. pure Chardonnay) Champagne dry and toasty at half the price.

    In the red Pinot realm, Domaine Gerard Julien & Fils has a superb 2013 Cote de Nuits on offer at CGU for $50. Velvety and earthy with that magical Pinot 4th dimension that only comes from this sliver of limestone-flint terroir.

    Just to the south, in Beaujolais, is Domaine Labruyere, owner of a precious piece of Moulin-a-Vent that yields one of the best Crus Beaujolais anywhere, for under $30. Called Coeur de Terroirs, it's all black berries, violets, licorice, smoke and spice!

    Find out more at

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's A New Old Year

1943 is my favorite vintage -- even though I was a very small part of it. 

    The fabulous wine grapes of that vintage all the way across Europe were carefully picked by hard-working farm girls and their moms because all the brave and terrified young men that year were far, far away, fighting for freedom/defence/liberation/country/you name it. It was War. 

    That's the vintage when I was born. Along with George Harrison, Janis Joplin, Sharon Stone, Bobby Fischer, Arthur Ashe, Mick Jagger, Catherine Deneuve, Billie Jean King and Keith Richards. 

    It was a a good wine year, one of the best of World War II. I celebrate it every year with a wine of 1943 and a fine dinner with my old friend Alan Gardner, a man of the same vintage and British heritage (and same off the wall humor). 

    This year we enjoyed a palate cleanser of Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne, impeccable as always. Then a precise and thrilling old Chardonnay, a mere 10-year-old Coche-Dury Burgundy 2007 with our lobster. Big guns followed with the roast leg of lamb and Yorkshire pudding: Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 1943, opening from tight chalky tannins into ethereal red and black berry fruit in the glass, then a 1943 vintage Port just now coming into its own. 

    It's a birthday tradition around here. May it long continue!