2009 Camille Giroud, Pommard Les Epenots, Premier Cru
Since the once-in-a-lifetime vintage of 2005, very fine red Burgundies have been scarce in this club, and actually pretty hard to find in Seattle. We’re glad to see that a few local distributors are beginning to bring back into the market excellent producers, like Camille Giroud, that have not been seen here since their 2005 releases. The Giroud family started making and selling wine in the late 1890’s, and over the years became well known for their tremendous cellar of aged wines, sort of a local repository for the history of Burgundian wine. Their “house style” was to make tough, chewy, dense wines, particularly from the premier cru sites of Nuits-St.-Georges. Alas, this style fell out of a fashion in the 1990’s, and in 2002 a controlling interest in the winery was sold to an American wine group, who promptly installed a young winemaker, David Croix. While he continues to work with the Giroud family, he is more attentive to the nuances of particular vineyard sites. David’s wines have been very well received by critics, whether traditionalists like Allen Meadows or those of the more “international” persuasion. If this beautiful Pommard, the star of a recent Burgundy tasting, is any example, the winery is clearly on an upward trajectory. Les Epenots is a rather young vineyard in the commune of Pommard, as the average age of the vines is only 25 years. As a result, the wine is aromatic and beguiling, yet still full-bodied with a touch of the pepperiness you expect from Pommard. It’s beautiful now, but can definitely age another five or six years. Try it with braised oxtail or duck confit. It is $70 and very limited, as only five cases made it to Seattle.
2011 Eric Texier, Côtes du Rhône Brézème, Roussanne
Like the Giroud family, Eric Texier got his start as a négociant, some one who buys grapes in addition to owning his own vineyards. This wine, however, comes from his own property in Brézème, a small viticultural area in the northern Rhone, not far from Hermitage. Vintners in the area have generally preferred to use the vigorous, hearty Marsanne as their main white grape, and all Hermitage Blanc is 100% Marsanne. Roussanne is known as a difficult grape, due to its susceptibility to powdery mildew, its tendency to ripen late or not at all, and its uneven yields. However, Roussanne seems to flourish in the rocky soil of this tiny southwest facing vineyard, enclosed by an ancient wall. The vines average around 25 years of age, and were planted after Brézème was granted its appellation status in 1974, mostly due to the fine quality of the two Syrah vineyards. Eric is the only producer in Brézème to plant Roussanne, and we were very pleased to discover this little known gem. The wine itself is full bodied and a soft golden color, with a nose of honey, rose and fresh mint tea, and it has a discernible touch of earth on the palate. It would pair well with such hearty fare as crawfish, sole, trout and goat cheese. It’s ready to drink, only $26, and still available in very limited quantities.