J-F Chéné Amazones 2008
A late pick of Chenin Blanc from one of the absolute masters of the game, who stopped making wine after the 2018 vintage, and whom the Japanese only seem to care about. Amazones was bottled in 2017 after nine years of untopped elévage, and yet the oxidative qualities are more integrated and less obvious than one would think. This is a powerful wine and an absurdly good expression of nobly rotten Chenin Blanc that is truly quite unlike anything else. It is recommended to open at least an hour before drinking, and the wine, as rich and concentrated as it is, will stay good for weeks after opening.
Saurigny 21 2-Pack
Red & White Blend
2021 sees Jerome Saurigny hitting form once again, after—although I wouldn’t say lackluster—but maybe not the most inpsired 2020 vintage. Piu is classic Sau stylings, an insanely aromatic cocktail like tonic vinified infusion style that makes it impossible to tell whether this wine is made up of majority red or white grapes. It doesn’t really matter, though as it’s simply delicious. Grold is maybe the more enigmatic of the two; Chenin showing its wild ginger side. A year or so ago this felt a little more delicate, but recently more muscular and nonetheless insanely drinkable.
Anders Frederik Steen
Parfois je monte... (L. PN.18)
Pinot Noir, Alsace + Ardeche, France
Oh Anders, you confuse me. To be fair, this is as experimental as it gets with liquids meant to be put into one’s body that I’m pretty sure don’t do (that much) harm—Pinot Noir chez Bannwarth pressed directly and raised untopped—a sort of vin jaune in the style of Steen’s previous master Jean-Marc Brignot. But where Brignot’s oxidative white wines (the top tier Jura IMO) sit aplomb with fruit, an integration that only few are capable of, like say in J-F Chéné’s l’02 Vigne cuvée—just masterful—or Schueller’s Zero Default, Steen’s wine here feels less fruit forward, relying mostly on its combination of an oxidative halo and an acidic backbone, leaving me searching for the pleasure I get from those other said wines. That’s not to say this is bad wine—it’s not at all, but considering the hype around these wines, from, to be fair, mostly younger drinkers, I’m left scratching my head sometimes, waiting for that moment where I’m just completely taken aback from Steen’s wines rather than having to intellectualize them. It did happen once to me at ZJ’s house a couple of years ago when he popped Sweet Beginning of A Better End, a more or less simple but highly soulful GSM blend made with Brignot from 2013 that felt so appropriate coming from its Ardechoise terroir; a grand vin non compliqué.
Gamay, Beaujolais, France
It’s difficult to think about a Beaujolais in which northstar wildling Julie Balagny doesn’t exist anymore, but at least we still have one of her mentors, Yvon Metras still producing uncompromising Gamay every year sans fuss—a rare wine that all camps tend to agree on.
Plein Sud 2020 MAGNUM
Trousseau, Jura, France
It’s not that I don’t like the Jura, it’s just that I’m particular, and maybe a little bit fussy about producers and cuvées. I tend to not love a lot of Ganevat, but then there’s what I consider his benchmark red wine, Plein Sud, a near picture perfect Trousseau from the south of the region whose lightness belies its absolutely incredible depth. This is a wine meant to be shared out of magnum, and 20 is already showing superbly.
l’Arbre Blanc 3-Pack
Les Orgues 2017
Les Fesses 2018
Pinot Gris / Sauvignon maceration
Ma Carotte 2018
Sauvignon Blanc direct press