December 2022 | Terroir Wine Clubby Caileen Brison
Andre Robert NV Les Jardins du Mesnil Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc
From North Berkeley
The story of André Robert Champagne goes back five generations, rooted in the chalk-rich, grand cru soils of Le Mesnil sur Oger. Henri Robert was a pioneer in the village, organizing its first growers’ association. His son, the eponymous André, purchased the estate house under which a hand carved, 19th-century cellar now ages the family’s complex, barrel-aged wines. Bertrand Robert, his wife Colette and daughter, Claire, together tend sustainably some 35 acres of grand and premier cru terroir in the Côte des Blancs, a true grower-producer family dedicated to the elegant and expressive character of pure Mesnil Champagne.
When people say this wine has “minerality”, I think what they are trying to convey is this wine. On the nose is a beautiful bouquet of lemon oil, saltine cracker, and soy cracker type of umami. On the palate the bubbles are slightly aggressive in their youth but given time in bottle and glass the sparkle becomes more integrated and the body of the wine creates a delicate and silky mouthfeel. There is a note-worthy palate of riverbed that flirts the line between sourdough (mother) water and actual mineral water. This mineral water finish is intense, and the body of the wine only grows with time. While I fully understand that 99.9% of people are going to consume this in the first two hours it’s open, if you have the chance to try this wine on day two, the wine becomes more resolved, more savory, and more integrated. Drink from now – 2032, serve in all-purpose stemware, and serve chilled. Serve alongside confit, roast chicken, and pommes frites.
Leo Steen 2021 Ascona Vineyard Cabernet Franc
From Leo Steen
Vineyard: Ascona Vineyard is located on a sloping plateau at an elevation of 2,400 feet in the Santa Cruz Mountains (home to such famed wineries as Ridge and Mt. Eden). Though Ascona gets abundant sunshine, its elevation keeps it cool. This, and the site’s well-draining decomposed sandstone and shale soils, provide ideal conditions for growing Cabernet Franc, allowing the grapes to ripen without getting overly sweet.
Tasting Notes: This electric nose displays aromas of black currant, graphite, and black licorice, as well as layers of pink peppercorn. On the palate, creamy texture loaded with energy and freshness. The age worthy tannins underscore a savory mix of dark fruit and lovage.
Ascona vineyard is a vineyard near and dear to my heart off Bear Creek Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This Cabernet Franc nicely expresses the cool climate and long growing season of Ascona with pronounced structure yet ripeness of fruit. Right off the pop are notes of vibrant cherry and black bramble that shine alongside a texture driven by flint, graphite, and cracked pink peppercorns. There is a lot of life in this wine with structure guided by perceived (regardless on winemaking) whole cluster work that brings in a stemmy, cedar box profile. After the initial wave of fruit, the wine opens to violets, menthol, and eucalyptus. The wine really starts to shine after a few hours of bring open and still sings well into day two with deep cherry pie and raspberry tarte, juicier aromas, and an enveloping profile. Drink (now or) 2023 – 2034, serve in all-purpose stemware, and serve just above cellar temperature. Enjoy alongside carnitas, or anything spicy and fatty.
Verzier “Authentic” 2020 Condrieu
From Beaune Imports
Verzier’s house just happens to be right above one of the prime white wine growing areas in the world. Just down the slope from his old syrah vines are the magnificent terraced vineyards of Condrieu, the appellation where the Viognier grape is ideally suited. Every other wine-making region in the world attempts to make good viognier, and a few are successful in the hands of only the most adept wine-makers. Nowhere else does this grape reach the heights that it does in Condrieu.
This is classic Condrieu with the tell-tale nose of apricots, peaches and honeyed jasmine. On the palate, the wine is bright and fresh with crisp acidity. Great richness follows with a wine that is at the same time honeyed and viscous while possessing excellent balance.
This is a dynamic yet textbook representation of Condrieu (or Viognier from the Northern Rhône). Immediately upon opening the bouquet explodes with honeysuckle, gardenia, and honey (all expected aromas from Viognier). Alongside these notes are invigorating notes of pine sap, saffron, and cinnamon smoke. The profile overall is nicely integrated into an oily and soft palate that is dynamic from front palate to the back palate. While I think the wine retains the overall character into day two, this is really a wine I enjoy more on day one and would prefer to drink young to retain the vibrancy of the spice driven notes. Drink now – 2026, serve in all-purpose stemware, serve chilled, and enjoy alongside a ham with whole grain mustard (maybe even make yourself a fancy sandwich for an A+ picnic).