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Drinking Saint Bris

To the Southwest of Chablis, along the cut of the River Yonne, in the heart of Auxerrois sits the darling appellation of Saint Bris – darling because of its uniqueness, darling because of its smaller size, darling because the mere idea of it carries ineffable charm. The subzone of Saint Bris proves to be the only AOC in Burgundy to grow Sauvignon, the presence of which in that celebrated region is a surprise to many.

As if the idea of Burgundian Sauvignon isn’t enough, make sure to place it in Kimmeridgian limestone, near its eponymous medieval city of Saint Bris that includes what are apparently the most intricate and remarkable limestone cellars in the region of Burgundy (I haven’t seen them personally but how I’d love to).

A mere 133 hectares grow in the Saint Bris AOC. It’s been a recognized appellation since 2003. The variety found its way to the area sometime after the phylloxera blight devastated the now-obscure white varieties then growing in the region. Until that time the village of Saint Bris was actually part of Chablis but the radical change to viticultural health as a result of the louse infestation led to geographical reassignments as well, even with the still Chablisienne soils. Enter Sauvignon. By the 1970s it was being officially recognized for quality.

With its relatively small size and moderate obscurity, the area still hosts smaller production, hands on, family farmers. The Goisot family is one such example. Father and son farmers, Jean-Hughes and Guilhem, dedicate their time to the viticulture then keeping a less interventionist approach, to beautiful effect, in the cellar. The wines are stunning.

While Goisot also produces Bourgogne blanc – a Chablisienne Chardonnay, and also a classic while friendly Aligote – it was their Saint Bris I had to get my hands on. The wines are simultaneously charming and serious, full of refreshing minerality and impressive complexity. It was exciting too to taste the side by side.

Goisot 2014 Saint Bris: Exogyra Virgula and Corps de Garde

The aromatics of these wines carries the chalky signature of its region while the palate on both is mouthwatering, sophisticated and full of length. In both there is an impressive natural density to the core of the palate and a luscious mouthfeel full of mineral freshness and mouthwatering while delicate acidity. They are both impressively elegant wines with delicious length.

The Exogyra Virgula focuses on Sauvignon Blanc vines of the family estate with half approaching 40 years of age, and the other half around 15 years thanks to replanting. The vines grow entirely in Kimmeridgian lime, and are farmed biodynamically. Once in the cellar the wine is vinified in stainless with ambient yeast fermentation and a focus on freshness, then aged on fine lees also in stainless.

The nose hints at Sauvignon Blanc aromatics with a flash of fresh, pure fruits accented by wispy hints of fresh floral greenery but on the palate the wine feels like rolling river rocks through the mouth – full of not-quite-salty palate stimulation – with a satisfying balance of mouthwatering acidity and enough flesh to let the wine have presence across the palate from open to close. The elegance with texture, sophistication with easiness of this wine really impressed me. Definitely enjoy it alongside food as it would love white seafoods.

In the best vintages Goisot also produces the Corps de Garde bottling made from the family’s vines of Fie Gris, an ancestor of Sauvignon Blanc also referred to as Sauvignon Gris. The variety apparently naturally produces lower yields than its Blanc relation, which reduced its popularity among farmers, while also more readily retaining freshness. The Goisot family remains one of the few to preserve the variety in the region. They grow it too in Kimmeridgian lime, biodynamically, then vinify it in stainless steel with ambient yeasts and full malolactic conversion. The result is beautiful.

More savory, and intense compared to the more delicate Exogyra Virgula, the Corps de Garde offers wonderful complexity with elegance and an impressive detailing of flavors. There are inherent exotic spices, hints of wax, wispy floral greenery and a lot of mineral persistence throughout. Most of all I love the mouthfeel, the chalky accents, and the mouthwatering length. It’s a lovely and special wine that would enjoy more time in bottle to age.

Copyright 2017 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

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Drinking in La Paulée Off-Grid, SF

Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend the La Paulée Off-Grid tasting in San Francisco, organized by the inimitable trio, Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello, and Josiah Baldivino, and sponsored by the American Express Invitation Only program. The tasting included wines of Burgundy selected by some of San Francisco’s top sommeliers. Some favorites from San Francisco’s food scene were also present with fine foods from The Slanted Door, and Piperade, cheeses and charcuterie from Andante Dairy, and Del Monte Meat Co, and breads from Bar Tartine.

Today, La Paulée launches the program for La Paulée de San Francisco happening March 12-15, 2014. The occasion will include the celebrated Burgundy Week as well, with restaurants and shops in both NYC and San Francisco participating.

The La Paulée celebration began thanks to the work of Daniel Johnnes, a James Beard Award Winner for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional, and Wine Director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group. Johnnes started La Paulée de New York in the year 2000 out of his appreciation for the original La Paulée celebrations in Burgundy. The tradition there began as a community event bringing together winemakers, vineyard workers, and family with the wines of the region, and food of the harvest. The event has since expanded to other cities throughout the United States, with an annual rotation of San Francisco, and New York alternating hosting privileges for the large annual festival. La Paulée de New York, and de San Francisco have reached iconic status with the best sommeliers of both cities serving some of the stars of Burgundy. Robert Parker described it as “the tasting/dinner of a lifetime.”

Josiah Baldivino, Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Capiello

from left: Josiah Baldivino, Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello

The Off-Grid tasting is designed to bring to the fore the community spirit of the original La Paulée, as well as give a teaser to get people excited for the Winter festivities. Patrick Cappiello has been working with La Paulée almost since its inception, and now serves as Chef Sommelier, also helping select the rest of the sommelier team for La Paulée de New York. As Cappiello explained, With the Off-Grid tasting, “we wanted to design a more inclusive event. Burgundy can be thought of as exclusive, but there is enough Burgundy for everybody.”

Josiah Baldivino, of Michael Mina, worked with Daniel Johnnes at Bar Boulud in New York before moving to San Francisco. In focusing on the West Coast festivities, then, Johnnes and Cappiello chose Baldivino to select sommeliers. “Josiah has been a real asset. He knows the local [SF] community, and has been working with La Paulée for several years. We wanted to tap into talent here, so we’ve relied on Josiah both for his palate and his relationships with people.” Johnnes explained.

Baldivino, Johnnes, Capiello

Baldivino flashing the sign for West Coast Represent (that also confusingly looks East Coast–well played, Baldivino. Well played.) w Johnnes and Cappiello–I love the playfulness and mutual regard that shows in this photo

Towards these ends, Baldivino selected some of the best sommeliers in San Francisco to design the Off-Grid tasting. Each was assigned a region of Burgundy, including Beaujolais, and Chablis, and asked to select 10-12 bottles celebrating a more affordable price range of wines available through distribution in San Francisco.

For Baldivino, La Paulée Off-Grid has been especially fun to help organize thanks both to the enthusiasm of everyone working the event, and the selection of wines they chose. As Baldivino describes, the tasting offered wines that “are affordable, really good, and from off the beaten path. They’re wines any of us pouring would actually drink at home ourselves.” The list, then, serves as a guide to some of the best approachable, and intriguing wines of one of the most celebrated regions in the world of wine.

Stevie Stacionis

Stevie Stacionis

Stevie Stacionis, Director of Communications for Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York City, was selected for the Off-Grid tasting as the sommelier in charge of presenting the Côte de Nuits. As part of the overall program, sommeliers were asked to choose two favorites to present in Sommelier Corner. There Stacionis discussed her appreciation for Régis Bouvier’s 2011 Marsannay, and Frédéric Magnien’s Côte de Nuits-Village 2010 Croix Violette. Listening to Stacionis, it’s clear that stories behind the people, and their regions are part of what Stacionis loves about wine.

After, I ask her to talk to me about her experience selecting wines for the event. “It was a lot of fun getting to think through how to show the range of styles and potential of the area, the Côte de Nuits.” She tells me. As part of the Côte de Or, the limestone ridge that runs through Burgundy, the Côte de Nuits is a well-known wine-producing region. She continues. “The Côte de Nuits is a region that everyone knows. It’s pretty cool to get to ask myself, how do I pick wines that are not obvious, and also pick from areas of it that are lesser known and really high quality.”

Asking Johnnes about what he most enjoys in developing La Paulée, he mentions the people involved. “It is a real honor to see how much time people put in to study these wines for a small three-hour event. It is touching to see them making that kind of commitment.”

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To view the just announced La Paulee de San Francisco 2014 program: http://lapaulee.com/programs_tickets.php

To read up on Burgundy Week: http://lapaulee.com/burgundyweek

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Thank you to Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello, and Josiah Baldivino.

Thank you to Stevie Stacionis.

Thank you to Jessica Saraniero, and Alyssa Vitrano.

Thank you to the American Express Invitation Only program.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com