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March 01, 2019
New Wines from France and South Africa for Spring and Beyond
During the last days of January, a record-setting cold front hit much of the country (on January 31, the temperature at my house plunged to -11.6 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving many Americans yearning for anything to thaw them out. Tea sales probably doubled. But even in frigid weather, we New Yorkers are always up for a wine tasting, so when a couple caught my fancy, I donned a few extra layers and headed out the door.
At The Modern, Danny Meyer's restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art, Maison Louis Jadot (imported by Kobrand) held its pre-release tasting of 2017 Bourgogne, Chablis, and Beaujolais wines. The vintage was tricky across much of Europe as April frosts stunted bud break – but in Burgundy, according to Jadot Winemaker Frederic Barnier, the problems ended there. ''The nerves of spring gave way to a good growing season that, while cloudy much of the time, stayed dry and produced good fruit," Barnier said before adding that despite lower yields, "across the board the wines came out well. And it's going to be a great vintage for whites, which are showing good concentration and richness, including Chablis."
Reds also showed well at the tasting. A few personal favorites included the Clos Vougeot, Morey-Saint- Denis Clos Des Ormes, and, of course, Jadot's trio of Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Crus: Les Cazetiers, Petite Chapelle, and Clos Saint-Jacques.
Later that day over dinner with Andre Shearer, owner of import company Cape Classics, I tried a duo of Chenin Blanc wines from Loire Valley- based producers Vincent and Tania Careme: one from Vouvray and the other from Tania's home country, South Africa. A longtime Vouvray fan, I was taken by the delightfully fresh Vouvray Chenin Blanc Spring ($20), which showed great acidity and light structure with just a hint of sweetness - hallmarks of a classic Loire Chen in.
Also impressive was the Terre Brulee Chenin Blanc Le Blanc ($16) from Swartland on South Africa's Western Cape. A mostly unirrigated region where bush-trained vines are prevalent, Swartland produces Chenins that tend to present more intensely than those from neighboring regions like Stellenbosch - a trait perfect for showing the grape's more structured side.
Excerpt taken from: Tasting Panel
By David Ransom