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Domaine Labruyère, Moulin-à-Vent (Beaujolais, Burgundy, France) "Le Clos" 2016 ($36, Frederick Wildman and Sons)
 I hear it already, “How can you give Beaujolais 95 points?”  First, this is not Beaujolais really; it’s from Moulin-à-Vent, arguable the best of the 10 cru of Beaujolais, which taken together, are in a class by themselves.  Secondly, it’s an outstanding wine, showing the complexity that the Gamay grape planted on granite soil can achieve.  It helps that the winemaker, Nadine Gublin, is a star who also is responsible for the wines at the Domaine Jacques Prieur, a leading Burgundy house.  As is becoming the practice in Moulin-à-Vent and other cru of Beaujolais, producers are bottling individual vineyard wines separately, such as this one, just as is done in the rest of Burgundy.  Le Clos, a single small (2.4-acre) plot with vines that average 50 years of age, is a monopole, that is, owned exclusively by Domaine Labruyère.  The focus of Le Clos is on the mineral aspect that the granite soil imparts, rather than the fruitiness of Gamay.  The hint of bitterness in the finish reinforces that focus.  It’s a long, refined and graceful wine that makes you stop and say, “Wow, that’s not Beaujolais.”  The tannins are fine, which allows for enjoyment now, but it has the presence and balance to evolve beautifully over the next decade.  I’ll stick by my 95-point assessment. 
95 Michael Apstein


Posted by Marguerite Thomas on July 20, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Cocktail Corner: The Date Night

I was “jonesing” for a Manhattan on a recent summery evening.  Of course, I might have had a Brooklyn, a closely related cocktail that calls for rye, plus dry rather than sweet Vermouth, and Maraschino liqueur.   And since we’re on the subject of New York boroughs, instead of a Manhattan I might have put together a Bronx (gin, both dry and sweet Vermouth, plus orange juice); a Queens (like a Bronx, but with pineapple instead of orange); or a Staten Island (rum and pineapple juice).  But pleasing though these variations might be, none of them would quite satisfy my yearning for the soothing, soul-warming mingling of Bourbon and sweet Vermouth.

As I began assembling the fixings for my Manhattan, I was momentarily dismayed to discover that there were no cherries to be found in the house.  But necessity being the mother of invention (especially when it comes to cocktails), I scanned the pantry shelves and found the perfect solution to my problem--dates!  Take my word for this:  If you’ve never tasted a Bourbon-soaked date you are missing out on a great organoleptic experience.

The Date Night

Use whatever whiskey you prefer.  On this occasion I was in the mood for a velvety smooth, sleek and somewhat sweet whiskey such as Eagle Rare Bourbon.  Distilled, bottled and aged (for no less than ten years) at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, this Bourbon offers a complex nose with suggestions of dried orange peel, leather and oak.  On the palate, it is unabashedly forthright, sweet (but not too sweet), and pleasantly oaky, with a clean finish.

2 parts Eagle Rare or other Bourbon

1 part sweet Italian Vermouth

4 drops bitters

1 seedless date

Stir the Bourbon, Vermouth and bitters together with ice cubes.  Muddle the date in the bottom of a cocktail glass.  Strain the liquid ingredients into the glass.  Enjoy!

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Ten Wines that Changed the World
Paul Lukacs

It is a truism bordering on cliché to observe that wine the world over is better than it's ever been. Greater variety coupled with improved quality has made the early twenty-first century a true golden age for wine lovers. Compared to the global scene 50 years ago, when select French wines remained unrivaled as both examples and definitions of excellence, the changes have been revolutionary. Many factors account for them. Some involve production, new approaches to grape growing and winemaking. But others involve consumption. New audiences have embraced wine in new ways. In turn, those audiences have been influenced by new tastes, many of which came to widespread attention because of the success of specific wines. Those specific wines were not necessarily the best ones. Their significance came less from inherent quality and more from the effect they had on consumer perceptions and attitudes. In short, they made wine in general more inclusive than ever before.
Alternatives to Rosé, Even in Provence
Michael Apstein

With apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson, rosé to the left of us, rosé to the right of us, rosé in front of us, and there we were, drinking white wine in the heart of Provence. The sommelier at La Presque'îe, a spectacularly situated restaurant--with food to match--on the outskirts of Cassis overlooking the Mediterranean coast, told me that they sell a lot of rosé, but that, like us, many diners order white wine. After all, this is Cassis, a village and appellation just east of Marseille, where roughly three-fourths of the wine produced is white, unlike the rest of Provence where 85 percent of the wine produced is pink. The terraced vineyards are squeezed between expensive residential real estate on steep hills--limestone calanques--that plunge into the Mediterranean.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Salmon and Corn Chowder

One can argue about whether chowder is more a summer or a winter dish, but the truth is that it's both, depending on how the chowder is made. The difference is subtle, with summery versions being lighter in both flavor and texture while winter chowders call for richer broth and heavier cream, plus a generous hand with seasonings such as bay leaf and paprika. Ham, bacon and/or salt pork are often included in winter chowders, and the soup may be garnished with pork or duck cracklings, or crumbled bacon. In summer we leave out the meat and include more corn in the chowder, and lighter cream. And tomatoes? Much as we love Manhattan clam chowder, we are more apt to follow the lead of purists who insist that the presence of tomatoes disqualifies this dish as a chowder.
On My Table
Loire Valley Inspiration from California
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

The weather was uncomfortably warm and humid when I prepared to taste wine samples, forcing me to scrap my plans to open powerful Australian reds. Fortunately, I had on hand a lovely trio of white wines from Dry Creek Vineyard. Over its 46 years of wine production in Sonoma County, Dry Creek Vineyard has held fast to its original inspiration, the white wines of the Loire Valley region of France -- the sort of wines that are perfect in summer. My tasting involved three wines from the 2017 vintage: Two Sauvignon Blanc wines and a Chenin Blanc. True to the Loire Valley prototype, the two Sauvignon Blanc wines are different in style, one lighter and crisper and the other, a bit fuller and more complex. The Chenin Blanc is made in a dry, medium-bodied style and is a wine that's perennially applauded by wine critics.