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ALSACE BEAUJOLAIS/CRU 2011 BORDEAUX 2012 BORDEAUX BORDEAUX
BURGUNDY (RED) BURGUNDY (WHITE) CHAMPAGNE JURA LOIRE VALLEY
RHONE (RED) RHONE (WHITE) ROSE SAUTERNE SUD

TARLANT:
CHAMPAGNE's BRUT ZERO HERO

This past July we conducted an enlightening tasting at the Wine Bar called “Low Dosage Champagnes: Fad or Fabulous?”  The decisive verdict was that all ten bottles were fabulous in their own right and bore little resemblance to the anemic and painfully acidic non-dosed Champagnes that plagued the market just  a decade or so ago.   Notably absent at this tasting were the Champagnes of Benoît Tarlant who is arguably Champagne’s leading proponent of sugar free fizz.  Always a bit outspoken, Tarlant asserts: “I am not a cane sugar or beet sugar maker, I produce grapes.”  He contends that dosage masks the terroir of his Champagnes which he labors so hard to capture.

Omitting Tarlant’s Champagnes in our Wine Bar event was simply due to the fact they have been unavailable to us in recent years.  Thankfully things have finally changed and the firm has secured a quality importer for California.  Though our experience with Tarlant dates back to late 1990s, we must say these latest releases are their best yet.   While global warming may be playing a role, the real key to this improvement is the family’s relentless tweaking of their farming and winemaking practices.  Great zero dosage Champagnes require pristine grapes that are picked considerably riper than the Champagne norm.   At Tarlant, viticulture is conducted with respect for the environment firmly in mind, and no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are ever used.  Benoît’s father, Jean-Mary, implemented working with cover crops between the vine rows back in 1996.  Another one of Benoît’s prime goals is, “to show the wine naturally with its natural acidity”, so malolatic fermentation is always avoided.  To harmonize the malic acid without relying on dosage, Tarlant employs several alternative strategies such as using barrel fermented wines in his blends for textural richness.  Batonnage (lees stirring) was conducted on these barrel fermented wines imparting additional mouthfeel while helping them complete their first fermentation.  Extended aging on yeast after the second (bottle) fermentation contributes further roundness and depth.  These, and a host of other techniques, have given birth to this impressive trio of bone-dry Champagnes that dazzle the palate with an uncommon precision, intensity and refinement.

 

TARLANT BRUT ZERO

This, Tarlant’s signature cuvée, is a tri-lateral blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay composed of 55% 2007 harvest (fermented in stainless steel) with barrel fermented reserve wine from 2006 (15%), 2005 (15%), and 2004 (15%).  Champagne authority Peter Liem tasted this Champagne in 2012 a month after disgorgement with the following comments:  “While this is full-bodied and rich in flavor, it’s driven by a vibrant, racy undercurrent of malic acidity, enlivening the aromas of apricot, pear, guava and fig.  It feels tense and linear, particularly since it was only disgorged in September of 2012, yet it also appears exceptionally complete for a non-dosé, its fruit flavors complicated by a savory, earthy minerality.”  Our sample, which was disgorged in September of 2013, and had benefited from nearly a year of cork aging, was not at all austere.  We were most taken with its perfectly meshed orchard fruit, citrus and chalk flavors that were deliciously accented by undertones of cinnamon and other savory brown spices.  A tremendous ultra Brut that still has room for improvement.

$49.98 750ml [379506] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

TARLANT BRUT ZERO ROSÉ

Tarlant is one of the few producers in Champagne with the courage and expertise accept the challenge of making a non-dosé rosé.  As Benoît says, “The question with zero dosage rosé was how to get the acid and tannin to live together.” One of his secrets is to blend in fully physiologically ripe Pinot Noir possessing soft, mature tannins.  Once again Peter Liem’s comments are from a freshly disgorged bottle.  He writes:  “For the first time, Tarlant has included a portion of Pinot Noir in the base blend of the Rosé Zéro, vinified as white wine. This accounts for about 20 percent of the white portion of the wine, with the rest Chardonnay, and about 13 percent of the total blend is composed of red wine made from both Pinot Noir and Meunier. As expected for being based on 2008, this is brisk and racy, showing tart, high-toned notes of cranberry, redcurrant, lemon peel and grapefruit pith. It remains pervasively citrusy throughout the long, stony finish, kept tense and focused by bright acidity.  Give it some time to settle down, or else serve it alongside fatty foods to bring out more harmony. Last tasted: 11/12.”  Our sample bottle, which was disgorged in June of 2013, delivered effusive aromas of wild strawberries, Swiss Miss Cocoa and vanilla curd while the palate crackled with raspberry and strawberry sensations that eventually morphed into lemon-kissed carob notations in its gentle, long tapering finish.

$59.98 750ml [377481] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

TARLANT EXTRA BRUT CUVÉE LOUIS

Tarlant’s tête de cuvée, Cuvée Louis, is simply a stunner.  This is a prodigious, broad-shouldered wonder that earned a near perfect score on our tasting sheets.  It is named for Benoît’s great-great-grandfather, Louis Tarlant, who began estate-bottling Champagne after the First World War.  It’s a 100% barrel-fermented, single-vineyard Champagne crafted from vines over 50 years old in Les Crayons, a chalky parcel in in the village of Oeuilly near the Marne River that’s planted with a 50/50 mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Anotnio Galloni tasted this current incarnation of “Louis” back in May inking this rave:  “Apricots, dried pears, spices, flowers, honey and hazelnuts meld together in the NV Cuvée Louis.  Warm, toasty and resonant to the core, the 1999 is built on gorgeous breadth and pure volume. Readers who like rich, oxidative Champagnes will love the Cuvée Louis.  This release is based on the 1999 vintage, with 15% reserve wine from the previous release (1998, 1997, 1996), equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  94 Points.”  This bottle was disgorged in February 2014 with a scant 2 grams/liter dosage.

$84.98 750ml [325831] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Wines of France

CARONNE STE GEMME 2005 HAUT MEDOC

A Hi-Time Favorite is back in stock!

WINE ADVOCATE 88-90 POINTS - “Space limitations did not allow complete tasting notes for this Cru Bourgeois, but 2005 is the finest vintage for these wines since 1982. The range of scores for these wines should give readers an idea of just how consistent this vintage is at this level. Given the style of the vintage, most of these wines should be accessible young yet evolve for a decade or more because of their concentration and tannic structure.”

$34.99 750ml [306559] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Phillipe Chavy

Philippe Chavy is the epitome of Burgundian charm. Wise, funny, incredibly modest and utterly approachable, one can easily imagine spending the afternoon chatting with him while enjoying a bottle of his expansive, rich and structured Pulignys and Meursaults. Philippe’s instincts are not solely based on tradition, nor are they based on innovation. Rather, he straddles the line between the two philosophies with a strong sense of pragmatism and a relentless desire to question. While his research and experiments in biodynamic farming are proving to be successful, he is no fool when it comes to understanding the challenges of the Burgundian climate, and he believes ...“one must always remain open to whatever comes,” even if that means compromising ideals to save a crop. That said, Philippe is a natural seeker, and his passion continues to push him to new heights. One walk through the tiny village of Puligny and one is likely to cross several members of the Chavy family! Brothers, sisters, cousins and second cousins grace the name of many a label. However, Philippe’s family domaine was originally founded by his grandfather, Henri Chavy, who began by purchasing his own vineyards throughout Puligny. By the 1950s, Philippe’s father, Albert, began to replant. When Odile Ropiteau of Meursault’s famous Ropiteau family married Albert, she brought her own vineyards to the domaine from Meursault, changing the domaine’s name to Chavy-Ropiteau. For decades, the Chavys sold most of their finished and aged wines to the négoce Bouchard Père et Fils in Beaune. Very limited supply!

PHILIPPE CHAVY 2011 BOURGOGNE BLANC $26.99 750ml [333767] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button
PHILIPPE CHAVY 2011 PULIGNY MONTRACHET LES CORVEES $89.99 750ml [333769] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button
PHILIPPE CHAVY 2011 MEURSAULT NARVAUX $74.99 750ml [333768] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button
PHILIPPE CHAVY 2011 MEURSAULT LES CHARMES 1ER CRU $114.99 750ml [333770] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE JOUSSET 2012 EXILE BLANC TRANQUILLE SEC

Fashioned from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes planted primarily on schist soil from a variety of plots including Savennieres, Angers and Samur from vines ranging from 20-70 years old. The fruit aromas flavors of this still wine are more muted than some of their bubblies (as one would expect) but over time this white opens nicely to reveal hints of nectarine, white peach and pippin apples on the nose. In the mouth this wine is taut, yet well textured with an old-vine density with leads to a long inter play of juicy orchard fruits and deep seated mineral flavors on the back palate. A serious, yet versatile wine for summer’s lighter fare.

$19.99 750ml [333577] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE COULET 2006 CORNAS BILLES NOIRE

ROBERT PARKER 91 POINTS - “Blacker-colored and more broodingly backward, the 2006 Cornas Billes Noires exhibits a touch of toasty new oak in its full, layered, concentrated, stunningly long personality. This is a superb quasi-modern style of Cornas that should be ready to drink in 2-3 years, and last for over a decade. Proprietor Matthieu Barret is another member of Cornas’ younger generation of producers who have embraced the use of smaller barrels as well as more sanitary vinification techniques. The results are wines imbued with good purity, sweeter tannins, appellation typicity, and more approachable styles that retain 15 or more years of aging potential.”

$59.99 750ml [322164] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Southern France

Here are two more wines from one of our favorite importers of French wines, Aliane Wines. They do an amazing job of finding great wines for great prices. Other selections include Patrick Piuze, Pascal Marchand, Pithon Paille and Phillipe Chavy (from Burgundy wines above).

 

LA MATELOTE 2012 DUPUY DE LOME MONT CAUME

Blending in stainless steel tanks before aging for 10 months in fourdre casks before bottling. Light or no filtration depending on vintage. No fining. Deep blue red color. We find blackberries and the typical regional garrigue (sage and lavender) on the nose. Intense black fruit provides weight and structure, balanced with freshness from the grapes grown on Northern exposure. We find fine tannins on the lingering finish. A great food wine!

$15.99 750ml [333604] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE DUPUY 2011 BANDOL ROUGE

Blending for 2 to 3 months in stainless steel tanks before aging for 18 months in fourdre casks before bottling. Light or no filtration depending on vintage. No fining. Deep red color. We find black fruit, licorice, mint and truffle on the nose. Black cherries burst in your mouth. Intense on the palate. Rich and complex with the weight of the mourvedre balanced with freshness from the grapes grown on Northern exposure. Lingering finish has hint of mint.

$29.99 750ml [333010] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

PUECH HAUT 2009 QUERCUS

WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - “Puech-Haut’s 2009 Coteaux du Languedoc Saint-Drezery Quercus – named for a prominent oak tree at this spot in their vineyards, not for oak employed in elevage – represents their exploration of pure Grenache, vinified without de-stemming. Violet and rose petal mingle with scents of strawberry and black raspberry preserves, whose sweet juices richly and caressingly coat the palate, tinged with tamarind and licorice and underlain by a saliva-inducing impression of salted roast meat pan drippings such as I would more have expected from a Syrah- or Mourvedre-dominated cuvee. What’s more, there is a faintly but insistently tart edge to the berries here that offers a sense of excitation. That said, these virtues have to work against considerable sense of alcoholic heat in an otherwise luxuriant finish, even though we’re dealing here with a grape in general notoriously welcoming of high must weights. It should be fascinating to see how this develops over the next several years, but I’m not going to try to handicap it beyond then until I see for myself.”

$53.99 750ml [311138] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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