Beaujolais: not just wannabe Burgundy.

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2015 at 12:35 am

Apologies to anybody reading this who doesn’t have a solid understanding of Burgundian geography, I tried writing this in super-explanatory terms for beginners, but it was way too long and it was annoying me, so I started over. If and when I get around to writing a related post about Burgundian geography, a link to that article will replace this sentence.

Beaujolais is like the Rodney Dangerfield of French wine; it gets no respect.

I really hate that sentence, but I stand by the comparison.

And sure, a substantial factor in the underrating of Beaujolais has to do with the fact that fully 50% of Beaujolais is Nouveau, and while you will just about always find a bottle of Nouveau on my family’s thanksgiving table, I’ve never had one that blew my skirt up.

But village Beaujolais is another story, and I had the opportunity to taste several last week that….I don’t want to use the skirt metaphor again…just let’s say they were good.

For many years I’ve heard, and participated in the discussion that the best wines of Beaujolais can compete with the generally more respected Pinot Noirs of the Cote d’Or. However, I’d like to humbly suggest that the conversation should be about the unique individuality of Beaujolais in its own right.

I tasted a lineup of 2013s from Stephane Aviron and Domaine Labruyere, and rather than feeling like the wines were doing a good job seeming like Pinot Noir, I was blown away with the uniqueness from village to village, as well as the distinctive terroir and varietal character. These weren’t Gamay doing it’s best to seem like Pinot Noir. They were Gamay just trying to be the best that Gamay can be.

Now, in terms of wine and food pairing, this doesn’t change the substantial functional overlap between Cote d’Or Burgundy at Village level and below, and top-tier offerings from Beaujolais. In terms of weight and fruit profile, they’re still going to be often interchangeable. But the discussion I’d like to foster is in the direction of letting Beaujolais, and Gamay have their own identity, rather than constantly assessing them in the light of their similarities to Pinot Noir and Burgundy.

Top 10 ways to be the worst at wine tastings.

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Before I start, let me say this: please go to more wines tastings. Seriously. I’m about to get profoundly sarcastic, but I am being sincere here. Tasting is the only way to learn. Please go to more wine tastings.

That being said, here are my top 10 ways to make sure the person pouring for you hates you.

1) Be picky. Particularly when the tasting is free, and in a public place, and even more so when there are a lot of people waiting to taste. Insist on descriptions of the wines before you allow them to be poured into your glass.
2) Know one thing about wine, and keep bringing the conversation back to that. Have you been to Sonoma and visited wineries there? Definitely use the fact that I’m pouring German Riesling as an opportunity to tell that story then.
3) Tell me how much to pour. This one works both ways. If you’re concerned that the 1.5 ounce pours I’m giving out are going to get you too tipsy, definitely tell me when to stop. Even better, raise your glass quickly and urgently, allowing me to spill on the bar. Definitely do not use the dump bucket that is provided explicitly for discarding excess wine. If you feel that I’m not giving you enough wine for you to get day-drunk for free, definitely say so, and the louder the better. Maybe wink at me, because we are definitely sharing a joke here, and I definitely do not think you’re a boorish asshole.
4) Do not look at me. Seriously. I am not a person, and you definitely shouldn’t treat me like one. When I say hello, that is your cue to push your glass in my face and say “Cabernet”. You get extra points if none of the wines I’m pouring are Cabernet.
5) Be picky. Again. ESPECIALLY when the tasting is free. And definitely refuse to taste anything you don’t already know you like, because the point of this tasting is definitely not to introduce people to new things.
6) Don’t listen. Do not. Not under any circumstances should you pay attention to anything I say. Make me repeat myself.
7) Be vague. Don’t ask specific questions, no matter what. Do your best to make me wonder if you even speak English.
8) Tell me you don’t drink red wines because you are allergic to sulfites.
9) If you are a man, act like any wine that isn’t red is for women, and you don’t drink woman wine because women are weak and stupid. Bonus points if your wife is right next to you.
10) Make sure I know you know more than me about wine. Definitely do not acknowledge that this is my actual job that I do full time, and any time I say anything that is completely over your head, bring the conversation back to all the times you’ve been to wine country. Especially if you’re from California. Please tell me about how living in California makes you a wine expert. Please.

The 1855 classification by commune.

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2014 at 9:24 am

I’m studying Bordeaux this week, and while it is relatively easy to fine complete lists of all the classified Crus from the 1855 Classification of the Medoc. And while I found it pretty easy to find resources that listed them by their classification number, I couldn’t find one resource that listed them by commune, which seemed to me like it would be helpful, so I rearranged them accordingly, starting with Margaux, which has the most.


Château MARGAUX – 1er, Château RAUZAN-SÉGLA – 2eme, Château RAUZAN-GASSIES – 2eme, Château DURFORT-VIVENS – 2eme, Château LASCOMBES – 2eme, Château BRANE-CANTENAC – 2eme, Château KIRWAN – 3eme, Château d’ISSAN – 3eme, Château GISCOURS – 3eme, Château MALESCOT SAINT-EXUPÉRY – 3eme, Château BOYD-CANTENAC – 3eme, Château CANTENAC BROWN – 3eme, Château PALMER – 3eme, 3eme, Château DESMIRAIL – 3eme, Château FERRIÈRE – 3eme, Château MARQUIS d’ALESME – 3eme, Château POUGET – 4eme, Château PRIEURÉ-LICHINE – 4eme, Château MARQUIS de TERME – 4eme, Château DAUZAC – 5eme, Château du TERTRE – 5eme.


Château LAFITE-ROTHSCHILD – 1er, Château LATOUR – 1er, Château MOUTON ROTHSCHILD – 1er,
Château DUHART-MILON – 4eme, Château PONTET-CANET – 5eme, Château BATAILLEY – 5eme, Château HAUT-BATAILLEY – 5eme, Château GRAND-PUY-LACOSTE – 5eme, Château GRAND-PUY DUCASSE – 5eme, Château LYNCH-BAGES – 5eme, Château LYNCH-MOUSSAS – 5eme, Château d’ARMAILHAC – 5eme, Château HAUT-BAGES LIBÉRAL – 5eme, Château PÉDESCLAUX – 5eme, Château CLERC MILON – 5eme, Château CROIZET-BAGES – 5eme.

St Julien

Château LÉOVILLE LAS CASES – 2eme,
Château LÉOVILLE-POYFERRÉ – 2eme, Château LÉOVILLE BARTON – 2eme, Château GRUAUD LAROSE – 2eme,
Château DUCRU-BEAUCAILLOU – 2eme, Château LAGRANGE – 3eme, Château LANGOA BARTON – 3eme, Château SAINT-PIERRE – 4eme, Château TALBOT – 4eme, Château BRANAIRE-DUCRU – 4eme, Château BEYCHEVELLE – 4eme

St Estephe

Château COS d’ESTOURNEL – 2eme, Château MONTROSE – 2eme, Château CALON-SÉGUR – 3eme, Château LAFON-ROCHET – 4eme, Château COS LABORY – 5eme.

Haut Medoc

Château LA LAGUNE – 3eme, Château LA TOUR CARNET – 4eme, Château CANTEMERLE – 5eme, Château BELGRAVE – 5eme, Château de CAMENSAC – 5eme.

Pessac Leognan, Graves

Château HAUT-BRION – 1er.

Listrac and Moulis are the two remaining communes of the medoc, neither contain any classified growths.


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