Top Three Wines: Northern Burgundy and California


Top Three WinesThis past month’s cascade of fascinating wines helped bid adieu to the nasty 2013 New England Spring season and usher in the familiar comforts of summertime drinking. From Napa to Chablis, three wines stubbornly replay like broken records in the piece of my brain that clings to memorable drinking vignettes. These wines, all intense values, include a 2009 California Cabernet that demonstrates unusual restraint and pleasant drinking at a price permitting everyday Napa Cab indulgence.  A unique rosé from last year’s San Francisco Chronicle’s winemakers of the year rocked my world when my friend Rich Schnitzlein thankfully shared a small piece of his personal Arnot-Roberts spring allocation with me.  Rich’s serious palate is also behind an increasingly compelling inventory at Sudbury Wine and Spirits and the 2010 Chablis I bought from him for just over $20 has me refiguring Chardonnay back into my white wine drinking regimen.

Arnot-Roberts Rose

2012 Arnot-Roberts Rosé  ***½ $25  A blend of a couple of Portugese grapes, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cão grown in California’s north central Lake County, this rosé is like a fresh summer fruit salad hiding inside a very serious bottle of wine. Complex juicy summer fruit aromatics are supported by abiding structure so ripe watermelon, mushy sweet peach, and bubble gum flavors combine with pomegranate and tangy blackberry for delicious complexity.  On one hand, the wine is pure fun. On the other, it is a really serious work produced by a couple of guys that the San Francisco Chronicle named wine makers of the year in 2012.  If you move quickly, and click the Arnot-Roberts link at the head of this paragraph, you might be able to secure some of the remaining bottles at Chambers Street Wines.

Clos du Val2009 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon *** $28  Really fine California Cabernet for under $30?  Young Cabernet Sauvignon that won’t blow your hair backwards nor fill you mouth with gobby fruit, vanilla wood, nor intense heat?  This is a manageable wine, gorgeous in its airiness but serious in its spices and varietal representation.  Coffee dominates the initial aromatics, giving way to wafts of flowers that marry beautiful clean berry flavors.  If more California Cabernet were this pretty at this price point, it would be a lot easier to avoid converting my wine dollars to Euro.  And, it’s a great summer drinking choice with its light weight and pretty flavor profile.

Servin 2010 Chablis Les Pargues2010 Domaine Servin Chablis Les Pargues **** $23 The economics around this wine are upside down.  While twenty something bucks almost never delivers a wine of this quality and enjoyment, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised since drinking-bud Rich at Sudbury Wine and Spirits has a knack for flushing these wines out.  This 2010 Servin has me making mental notes to drink more 2010 Chablis.  The vintage apparently started off cold and damp, staying irregular through the summer months, but finishing with good weather leading up to and through harvest.  Clive Coates suggests that the growing season reduced yields and increased concentrations when it came to the Grand Crus.  The pinpoint clarity of citrus and flint flavors combine with lemon and fresh flower aromatics with just the right amount of saliva inducing acidity to qualify this as a world class wine. Chardonnay like this can make me forget about Riesling and Chenin Blanc for a really long time. At $23, you can make this your summer house wine and feel like heroic gentry every time you open another bottle.