Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Domaine Terrebrune

Domaine Terrebrun is located near the village of Ollioules in the region of Bandol (Provence) in the sunny, beautiful south of France, not far from the sparkling Mediterranean. The estate had mainly olive trees when it was purchased by Georges Delille, a Paris trained Sommelier. On the advice of Lucien Peyraud, owner of the famed Domaine Tempier who told Georges that there was "gold under the ground at Terrebrune", he began the hard work of clearing, building terraces, and planting vines in the brownish clay and pebbly limestone soils over blue limestone subsoils. The vineyards are mainly south facing on gently terraced slopes, influenced by the winds that funnel in off the sea. The combination of the soils, climate and Reynauds philosophy of natural, organic practices create uniquely expressive wines of beautiful detail and a freshness underpinned by lovely minerality.Today the estate has 30 hectares of vines producing white, red and rose wines.

The estate is certified organic, with no herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The soils are worked by plow and hand hoe, and vines are tended and harvested by hand, with selection happening in the vineyard rather than at sorting tables. Grapes are de-stemmed, gently pressed and fermented only with indigenous yeasts in cool, underground cellars in gravity fed cuves, and are bottled unfiltered and unfined. 

The reds is a blend of 85% Mourvedre, the lynch pin of the reds of this regions, with 10% Grenache and 5% Cinsault. Deep and dark, it nevertheless has a fine structure and elegant balance of firm structure and dark, earthy fruit that varies slightly from vintage to vintage. The 1997 is just passed its more vibrant youthful phase and showing hints of leather and dried fruits of beneficial bottle age.

The white is a blend of Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Bourboulenc, and is fresh and crisp, with white flowers, a good middle core and hints of yellow fruits. 

The Rose, perennially one of my favorites, is fresh, perfumed, and mineral with lovely acidity in 2010. It is versatile and food friendly - perfect for summer dining. Salad nicoise with grilled rare tuna, salumi, olive tapenade, grilled vegetables, ratatouille and grilled fish of all types come to mind as the perfect partners. I can't get enough! And as good as this wine is in its youth, it ages amazingly (something I never really think of with rose) and I have had some very old vintages, with the wine taking on a creamy, complex richness that I am not sure where I would place if I had it blindfolded. AT a recent visit, after tasting through several vintages of the reds, Reynaud disappeared into the deepest part of the cellar and came back with a bottle of the 1994 Rose - lemon creme, supple and viscous on the palate, still quite fresh - a unique and delicious experience! 

And if the outstanding quality of the wine were not enough, there is an excellent restaurant on site called Le Table du Vigneron, where we had a fantastic lunch along with a wide assortment of wines and vintages from the Domaine. Reynaud is a quite, thoughtful person and his nature is reflected in his approach to the estate and its wines. These are not "blockbuster" wines, they are pensive, balanced and exquisitely crafted expressions of the land and region where they are grown. Reynaud has been here with us as well for a wine dinner and I hope he'll come back again! To purchase the wines visit us at 56 Degree Wine online.

Some images from our visit and excellent lunch:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bordeaux 2010

A Classic Claret Vintage

I traveled to Bordeaux in April of 2010 in anticipation of another superb year for the region - rumors abounded, there were rumblings in the press, and all of the factors of weather and growing conditions seemed aligned and pointed in the right direction. After a week of extensive tasting I can report back that indeed it is another great vintage, creating wines with incredible power and concentration, but in a very different style than the excellent 2009's with which it will invariably be compared for decades to come.

Both vintages have no shortage of concentration, depth, tannin and ripeness, yet they are structured very differently. The 2009's are more opulent, perhaps with a touch more alcohol, with chewy, riper and slightly softer feeling tannins. The 2010s are substantially more tightly wound, with higher acidity, firmer tannins and a more compact, linear framework wrapped around their intense core of solid fruit. Both are superb candidates for the cellar, with most of the opinion that perhaps the 2009s with their riper plusher character will shine a little earlier than the more classically structured 2010's. Vintage comparisons abound, with Bordeaux expert Bill Blatch noting the similarities with other softer/firmer historical pairings such as 95-96, 85-86, 29-28 and even 1900-1899, but these are approximations at best. While I can't say I have much experience with the older pairings, I can say that I think 2010 and 2009 are better than either of the more recent examples. Of recent great vintages I would liken the 2010 closest to 2005, but with more tannin and acidity - and yes, even better perhaps. Only time will tell.

Buying Strategy

As good as the vintage is, as with all vintages there is variation in quality and some wines clearly stood out from the rest. As is the norm with nearly every wine we stock, we at 56 Degree Wine prefer to taste for ourselves, make our selections, and offer a specialized culling of what we think is the best on offer rather than the shot gun "whatever-got-90-points-or-higher" approach. During the week I spent in Bordeaux back in April tasting the promising but tough young wines, I made my selections on the wines we plan to offer. The only missing piece of the puzzle is price, and as of today mainly the smaller Chateaux (with a few exceptions) have released prices. Regardless, both at the very top of the price range, and perhaps more importantly in the value category, we are committed to putting our money where our mouth is and selecting and offering only those wines we feel are the best examples of this superb vintage.

The following is a list of wines we have purchased to date. We will be sending offers as we receive pricing and confirmation from now through about the middle of July so keep an eye out as wines are often offered only in limited quantities, and prices can frequently, but don't always, escalate from day to day. Please feel free to contact me personally either at the shop, by phone (908.310.6127 cell) or by email at chris.cree@56degreewine.com if there is a specific wine you are interested in or to discuss strategy for putting a selection of wines from this excellent vintage in your cellar.

For the our complete offer of Bordeaux 2010 futures click here.


Chris Cree MW
56 Degree Wine