Thirty years ago, in the midst of starting Martine's Wines, the economic situation was not very different than it is today. I remember the anticipation of waiting for my first container full of wine from France...The first container, which included allocations from Chateau Rayas, Francois Jobard, Henri Jayer, Fernand and Kiki Coffinet, August Morey (nicknamed Pappy, father of Pierre, who was taking care of the vineyards of Comte Lafon), finally arrived on July 4th, 1979, Independence Day. Since that time, Martine's Wines has survived two recessions and September 11th. I never thought that I would celebrate my 30th anniversary in the present economic turmoil. However, I still have confidence that I can sail through this new storm along with my new generation of producers. Denis Mortet would be proud of his son Arnaud; Henri Jayer and Jacques Reynaud of their nephews, both named Emmanuel. This is my 7th Grand Tasting, and as always you will discover some new wineries, such as Domaine Remy Gresser in Alsace, Domaine Vernay in Condrieu, Terre d'Aromes from Claire Forestier, Cambrico in Spain, Muhr-Van der Niepoort in Austria, Audry Cognac and the Champagne of the Coquillette family.
On Monday, March 16, I attended a very important annual tasting event in SF's Park Presidio rubbing elbows with some of the hottest producers from France, as well as many of the "who's who" in the wine business.
Over a hundred wines sampled. Here are our thumbs-up with quick'n'dirty notes - it's hard to go wrong with any of these within their individual price ranges. (The bolded bullet items are our "best of show" selections).
Champagne Stephane Coquillette
- NV Champagne Carte D'Or Brut 1er Cru - good
- 2004 Champagne Carte Bleue Brut - great autolytic character, really good!
Jean-Marc Brocard (Chablis)
- 2007 Chablis "Vaulorent" 1er Cru - round, good
- 2007 Chablis "Bougros" Grand Cru - nice bright creamy nose, big, oily, influence of oak, great balance, finesse - very good!
Chevalier Pete et Fils (Burgundy)
- 2007 Ladoix Blanc "Bois de Grechons" - nice nose, elegant balance with just a touch of bitterness that is tasty, good!
- 2007 Ladoix Blanc "Les Grechons" 1er Cru - intense, peach, nice acid, good!
- 2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru - creamy, balanced, fresh, good!
- 2007 Puligny-Montrachet "Les Charmes" - good!
- 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet "Les Chenevottes" 1er Cru - really good, elegant!
- 2000 Bourgogne - solid leather, ham, dark, barn
- 2006 Savigny Les Beaune - intense dark berry, dust, tannin
- 2003 Chorey-Les-Beaune - good, spice, dark berry, dust, medium body
- 2000 Cotes de Beaune Villages - red fruit, intense, ageable
Denis Mortet (Burgundy)
Alex Bernardo, Iron Chevsky, and Arnaud Mortet - late Denis Mortet's son who took over the wine making duties at the Denis Mortet estate beginning with the 2006 vintage.
- 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin - nice mouthfeel, red berries, concentrated
- 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St Jacques - nice texture, thick, medium acid, similar to Gevrey, but slightly more plush and earthy.
Chateau Rayas / Chateau de Fonsalette (CdP)
- 2006 Fonsalette Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc - nice nose, nice acid, peach, good!
- 2006 Pignan Chateauneuf-du-Pape - fresh nose, light pepper, tannin, very good!
- 2006 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape - elegant, fresh, aroma of bright tea, medium acid, nice!
George Vernay (N.Rhone)
- 2007 Condrieu Coteau de Vernon - big body and flavor, thick, good!
- 2007 Cote du Rhone "Ste Agathe" - 100% Syrah from Condrieu, pepper, concentration, balance, good!
- 2007 Cote Rotie "Maison Rouge" - great nose, nicely integrated oak, very good!
- TIARA Branco red - slight port-like aroma, but dry, good
- 2005 Vintage Port - soft, bright, delicious
Great tasting - even Wine Spectator's Matt Kramer was excited about a couple of unusual and impressive Portuguese whites from Neipoort and Spanish reds from Cambrico!