To secure this future Tuesday night Hall of Famer, we had to get way way off the Rue Nationale Finding value takes work and knowledge of the back roads of wine country because it’s never right in front of you. This time, we had to go south and west of Sancerre on the winding roads that lead to the village of Reuilly.
Climate change has been kinder to growers of Pinot here, certainly way more than those in Oregon, again, just ask Chad. In a place where a generation ago red grapes didn’t fully ripen every year, Valéry Renaudat is now producing knocked-out, vibrant Pinot that put to the shame most simple Bourgognes that are double the P’tit Renaudat price.
Valéry represents the third generation of his family’s wine growing. His grandad must have been some kind of visionary as he was the first to plant Pinot Noir in the limestone laden vineyards of Reuilly. That limestone is key as it isn’t just sunny days that makes Pinot great. Limestone, like we find all over Burgundy, lends freshness and tension to Pinot that make it great with food and better with air, giving that all that generous fruit a real sense of crunch.
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The 2020 Savigny-les-Beaunes Rouge, is the product of ancient vines, upwards of 75 years old in the lieux-dits of Planchots and Connardises. It’s a blockbuster red Burg, blasting out of the glass with an aromatic profile of spiced red berries with just a touch of savory anise.
Once again dialing up fruit from 1000-1500ft in elevation in the Dundee Hills, Chad’s 2021 is juicy, laser focused and roaring out of the gates. Chad tells me that similar wines (very similar wines) off this vineyard are raising their prices up to $55/bottle from $45 this year due to 2020’s lost year. But where most people are raising prices to recoup last year’s losses, the CHAD Pinot Noir price is somehow lower. A true gift from our favorite winemaker.
The 2022 Juliana Layla has finally made it in. Named after our now 13-year old daughter, her latest in a line of worthy Pinot Noirs leads with cherry cola notes, blackberry juice, and violet notes with a hint of baking spice. It’s a pure-fruited, high-toned Pinot Noir with a great mid-palate, silky tannins, and a lot of focus. Only 56 cases (two barrels) of this wine were made. This is truly one to get your hands on in abundance.
Labet fully destems the fruit and then ages it, two-thirds in stainless steel and one-third in French oak, before bottling. That helps it become highly well-balanced and approachable in its youth, with some spice and blue and red fruits as well as earthy and rocky notes. On top of the ripe core of fruit, there’s some Mediterranean herbs and a hint of anise and French oak spice. The bright, clean finish reflects the wine’s rocky, high-country terroir with juicy, silky tannins and a snap of tangy acidity that packs a punch.