In the Financial Times, Andrew Jefford considers the effects of climate change on the French wine region of Chablis. Damaging spring frosts that "regularly savaged the region" have grown rare, harvests are earlier, and most wines can be drunk sooner. But will a warming world disfigure Chablis's "fine-featured style"?
Jefford concludes that the answer is no, reporting that the increased warmth has given "extra layers of aromatic articulacy" to Domaine Servin's 2009 Les Fôrets Premier Cru. The 2009 Les Clos from the same estate is "intense, dense, mouth-coating, zesty, pithy" – but "still Chablis." Jefford also recommends the 2009 William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos (multi-faceted scents and breadth of flavor), and the 2009 Domaine Raveneau Vaillons (mouth-filling, vivacious and emphatically stony).
Also in the Financial Times, Nick Lander describes a visit to La Beaugravière, a restaurant in the Rhône Valley where diners can enjoy black truffles and an extraordinary wine list. Lander chose a 1992 Patrick Javillier Mersault Les Tillets which combined freshness and richness, and a "quite stunning (for the vintage)" 2002 Domaine Jamet Côte Rôtie Côte Brune.
Elsewhere in France:
In Le Figaro, Bernard Burtschy wonders why French winemakers invest in Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and Australia, yet rarely buy vineyards in other parts of Europe. One unnamed producer tells him it's because "the straitjacket of rules" is the same in Europe as at home, while countries in the New World are more easy going.
However, a small number of producers expand within France. Burschy cites the decision by Louis-Fabrice Latour, the seventh-generation head of Maison Louis Latour in Burgundy, to produce a Grand Chardonnay in the Ardèche, as well as the move by Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of the celebrated Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac, to establish Domaine L'Ostal Cazes in Minervois. In Saint Estèphe, the Charmolue family, long-time owners of Château Montrose, sold their property and moved to the biodynamic Château Romanin in Baux de Provence.
In his weekly recommendations, Burtschy gives the 2008 Château Lynch-Bages 15.5 out of 20, describing it as supple and very harmonious, with some vegetable notes. The 2008 Louis Latour Les Epenots gets 15/20, while the 2010 Château Montrose is awarded 17/20. Burtschy calls it "a superb wine, dense and rich" – one of the great vintages of the château.
In the Montréal Gazette, wine critic Bill Zacharkiw pleads the case for cabernet franc – the lesser-known parent of cabernet sauvignon. He points out that the "connoisseurs' grape" makes up 55 percent of the famous St. Émilion grand cru Cheval Blanc, and says the popularity of cabernet franc is rebounding. Zacharkiw suggests trying the 2009 Domaine de la Butte Bourgueil Mi-Pente and the 2011 Château de Fesles Anjou Vieilles Vignes.
Living in the moment:
On her "Winestorm" blog, British Master of Wine Jane Brocket has been enjoying "a lovely, deep, richly but softly extracted" wine from the Douro in Portugal: the 2010 Quinta do Crasto "Crasto" Duoro Red. Brocket reports that it is light years away from the mouth-puckeringly tannic wines that Portugal used to produce, and perfect to drink while watching cricket on TV.
Brocket also recommends a couple of "easy and breezy wines." She says the 2011 Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio from Australia and the Spanish 2011 Bodegas La Val Vina Taboexa are both clean and lightly fruity, "and would be great with pizza, fish and chips, jigsaws, watching the world go by, and living in the moment."
The latest edition of Austria's Falstaff magazine reports on a blind tasting of 2009-vintage white wines from Burgundy and Austria, led by "Wine Pope" René Gabriel. Three wines achieved the maximum 20 points: Franz Hirtzberger Honivogl Grüner Veltliner Smaragd from Wachau in Austria; Etienne Sauzet Montrâchet Grand Cru from the Côte de Beaune; and FX Pichler Kellerberg Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, also from Wachau.
The South African Wine Index this week named its top wines for 2012. Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay took out white wine of the year, while the red wine trophy went to Rijk's Private Cellar Pinotage, which won by a whisker over Kanonkop Paul Sauer.