2005 Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, Meursault Rouge, Les Criots
Most Burgundy fans can immediately identify Les Criots as one of the top vineyards in the village of Meursault, home to some of the richest white wines in the world. Far fewer, however, know that it is also one of only three Meursault vineyards where Pinot Noir is also planted. (The others are the obscure sites Les Malpoiriers and Les Dressoles.) This smooth and well-balanced Pinot is made by Jean-Michel Gaunoux, who took over his family’s estates from his father in 1990. Gaunoux has been one of the pioneers of “minimalist” wine-making in Meursault, eschewing the heavy use of oak seen in other top producers. Of course, Gaunoux also makes very elegant white wines, but it’s his red Meursault that has been a standout among the wines of the elite importer Robert Chadderdon Selections. A bit darker and more robust than the other Meursault reds, it was tasting beautifully at an industry tasting earlier in the year, but could still age for another five to ten years. A perfect partner for poultry, game, or sharp cheeses, it’s a bargain for Burgundy, only $46. And it’s still in pretty decent supply, even though it is from 2005, Burgundy’s “vintage of the century.”
2006 Chalk Hill, Estate Bottled Chardonnay
The white wines of Chalk Hill in the Russian River Valley have always been among Bear’s favorite wines, thanks to their elegance and good acidity. The estate is incredibly well tended and sustainably farmed, and winemaker Jordan Fiorentini is a highly regarded UC Davis grad. The 2006 Chardonnay is consistent with these high standards and unanimously wowed our Tuesday tasting team. It’s barrel fermented with native yeasts, and bottled without fining or filtration. The result is a creamy, complex wine, with beguiling aromas of honeysuckle, ginger and white peach. The creaminess of the wine (from sur-lie aging and 100% malolactic fermentation) is balanced with an earthy, wet-stone minerality. Some of the estate’s own food pairing suggestions include pan-seared scallops, baked goat cheese, and herbed potatoes. It’s ready for your holiday table, in good supply, and $48.