It's time to head back to France.
I had to come back from Australia to get a few new casks distributed, run the Maker's Mark event, and deal with the new Ardbeg/Glenmorangie allocations, but now that the spirits department is settled I'm needed back over on the wine side. Burgundy at K&L has always been solid, but it's played fourth fiddle to Bordeaux, California, and the Rhône over the years. There's a lot of great wine over there and a lot of potential for new discoveries, but it needs a new presentation. The problem with Burgundy has always been its dependability. You'd have one bottle that would change your life, then another one that would ruin it. Back in the seventies and eighties, if you wanted to drink fine wine you didn't have a choice; it was Bordeaux, Burgundy, and maybe a few German rieslings in the cellar. Today, however, the world has begun to catch up to France's foundational regions and the choice isn't nearly as clear. Pinot noir and chardonnay are being made around the globe at this point. Australia and New Zealand have made plenty of arguments as to why their pinot noir and chardonnay selections should be considered top class, as have the winemakers in Oregon, Sonoma, and California's central coast.
The question you have to ask yourself is: what makes Burgundy so special?
That's a query that I'm hoping to clarify a bit this week. There are plenty of wine skeptics who think the deference given to the Côte d'Or is ridiculous, especially given its dependence upon the vintage. What some people call earthy terroir, other people consider to be flawed winemaking. "Tell those guys they need to learn how to ripen their grapes," one of my colleagues said to me before I left yesterday. I get it. There's a core of Francophile apologists out there that simply wants to believe in Burgundy—its history, its romanticism, and its quality—but that often argues itself into a corner when the conversation turns to price and drinkability. The problem as far as I see it is that Burgundy often has as many disappointments as it does wonders. It's a veritable mine field of inconsistency and it's not cheap to play.
But there's a middle ground, in my opinion. There's a road that divides those two extremes and it's not all that hard to navigate if you do a little research. That's the road I'll be staying on this week over at On the Trail, so make sure you check in there. I'll post a few tidbits here as well as I move along.
A few things before I go:
– I goofed up yesterday adding the Michter's rye into the category of MGP liquids; a fact the heads of Michter's didn't let squeak by. President Joe Magliocco emailed me to remind me that Michter's sources its rye whiskies from Kentucky, not from Indiana. My apologies there. That's been corrected (of course, if I knew for sure where it came from I probably wouldn't have made that mistake—wink, wink).
– Speaking of ryes with a clear-cut origin, the new Whistle Pig "Farm Stock" just landed this week and is the first from the company to actually use some of their own distillate in the recipe. There's a chart on the back that breaks it all down: 20% 1 year old Whistle Pig, 31% 12 year old MGP, and 49% 5 year old Alberta. I actually really enjoyed it when I tasted it recently. They did a great job of balancing the potent pepperiness of the young rye with the richness from the two older ingredients. It's expensive, but what isn't these days?
– We're going to do a grappa dinner with Jacopo Poli on April 3rd at Donato in Redwood City. I haven't put tickets on sale yet, but I'll do so as soon as I get back on the 20th. We've got the man himself, Mr. Poli, coming into town that night, so expect a very small group (less than twenty) and an intimate affair with a chance to taste some incredible Italian spirits.
– I hope you all like Aberlour A'Bunadh because I just bought a lot of it. It's expected to take a pretty big jump in price next month, so if this is one of your house favorites it's a good time to load up. It might be around the $100 mark by the end of the year. I see it's already that price on the East Coast. It will remain where it is at K&L until I'm forced to rebuy.
That's it! I'm off to the airport in a bit. I've got a lot of French to review on the plane. Time to switch languages in my head. It's not always easy! I'm juggling four different ones up there now and I don't think there's enough room sometimes. I was ordering tacos at the truck near our Redwood City store this week and I ended up telling the guy "oui, c'est vrai" when he asked if I wanted it "para llevar."
Ich denke, daß je dois etudier mucho mas. Something like that. My brain is a mess right now.