Another Winery Distilling Spirits

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Distilled spirits like whiskey, bourbon, brandy, and more have become the rage in the adult beverage world of late. Indiana has been part of the boom with distilleries starting to pop up and more on the drawing boards.

French Lick Winery is the second Hoosier winery to jump into the fray with initial releases of their Spirits of French Lick products this fall.

grape-sense-logo“Ted Huber and I have been talking about this for about 10 years because we both wanted to make bourbon,” said John Doty, owner of French Lick Winery. “I’ll be honest, Ted has a lot more pull in the legislature than I do so he did the lion’s share of getting that law changed in July of 2013. Our distillery has been in the planning ever since.”

Huber’s Orchard and Winery has been in the business for some time and built a building specifically for the distillery. Earlier this year, Ted Huber confirmed more construction is going to be needed for his booming business.

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Fench Lick’s still.

French Lick is uniquely positioned to do just as well as Huber’s, a tourist destination near Louisville but with few other attractions in the area. The French Lick Winery and Distillery is just across the street from the fabulously renovated West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs Hotels. French lick also boasts a a casino, prestigious 18-hole golf course, and a water park.

“A lot of distilleries specialize in just one or two spirits,” Doty said. “We’re going to be unique in that we already have an Italian restaurant and have the winery. We have so many people who come in and want beer or cocktails so we’re going to make a wide selection of spirits so we can pour them in our restaurant.”

John and Kim Doty started small in 2008, and have grown, with the wine lineup now reaching 23. “We’ve always been customer driven with our wines,” he said. “We visit so many wineries and so many wineries are guilty of making wines the winemaker or owner likes. You go to distilleries you see the same thing.

“It doesn’t matter what I like, it’s all about what the customers like. When you come in we want to have something you will like. We want the same with our distillery.”

spirits-of-french-lickTo achieve that goal Doty is determined to offer a variety of spirits. “We’ll concentrate on what we think we can keep up with like the vodka, Aquavit, and specialty bourbons.”

He wants to do some unique offerings like oak whiskey and buckwheat bourbon. “We won’t make a lot of these but enough for our tasting room. Most of our whiskies and bourbons are 51- to 60-percent corns and rest of the flavoring will be these flavoring grains.”

Doty was able to hire a master distiller Alan Bishop who hopes to see the product line expand to fully occupy the 18,000 square feet set aside for the distillery.

The Doty family is growing some of the grain and plans to grow even more. What they can’t grow they plan to source locally whenever possible.

During a late summer visit the vodka was on the winery shelves while other products were tasted for a VIP preview event. The winery plans an Oct. 15 grand opening for the Spirits of French Lick .

 

Black versus Bota Box Wine Battle

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You’re a wine drinker and you’ve passed them in your local grocery. You look at them with curiosity, puzzlement, and perhaps even disdain.

Grape Sense LogoIt’s time to lighten up to box wines and enjoy the often tasty and economical solution to wanting just one glass some nights. Boxed wines are better than ever before and shaking off the past negative images of swill in cardboard.

There is no point trying to convince anyone the grocery boxed wines are super, high-premium wines because for the most part they are not. Some brands will advertise that way but it’s misleading. Two of the most prominent in the Midwest are Black Box and Bota Box.

A definition or two is in order before going any further. The boxed wines come with an air-tight plastic pouch inside with a pour spout attached. Generally, once opened, the wines will last a month. The container holds four bottles of wine.  Different companies do offer different sizes and various price points.

IMG_1521Now some advice about handling the boxed wine. I suggest refrigerating it after opening to make it last as long as possible, particularly if you’re going to keep it four or five weeks. If you’re a regular wine drinker, it’s probably less necessary to stick it in the fridge. The wine is in a sealed plastic pouch so it gets no air whatsoever. No air is a very good thing for storage but not so much for drinking. Pour your glass of wine from the box and let it set a bit before you drink. The box contains 20 five-ounces pours.

Black Box has been a long-time player. Black Box got its start in 2002 with the promise of super-premium wine in an environmentally friendly box. Black Box is a leader in the business and sells for around $23. You can find it for as low as $19.99 in many places.

The Black Box menu includes Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec, Shiraz, a red blend called Red Elegance, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvingon Blanc, and Reisling. The wines have been listed by Wine Enthusiast 27 different times as a “Best Buy.”

Go online for lots of reviews and you’ll see the Merlot is often the highest rated. In small market Indiana, all I’ve found is the Cab and Chardonnay. The Cabernet is a satisfying glass of wine with soft fruit, correct Cabernet flavor, and an ever-so-light hint of tannins. It’s quite drinkable.

The Delicato Family Vineyards company of brands from Manceta, Ca., offers Bota Box. The Bota lineup includes Cabernet, Merlot, Old Vine Zin, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay, a blend called Redvolution, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, and a second blend called Blackhawk.

The Bota Cabernet was a bit sweet but probably likable for newer wine drinkers. I didn’t find it to be correct in flavor profile for Cab but there was certainly nothing wrong with it. I bought the Bota Brick which sold locally for $9.99, a smaller version of the standard box.

Keep in mind most of these wines are blends. In California, for instance, a wine only has to include 75 percent Cabernet to be called Cabernet. And let’s face it, this isn’t Napa Cab.

I’d rate the Black Box significantly better for regular wine drinkers and Bota a good starting point for a beginner. Black wins the nod for overall quality.

Check the blog from time to time as I intend to explore more boxed wines. All stores have them. Many Meijer stores have a large selection.

The best part of boxed wine is enjoying one glass at a time. Don’t underestimate the quality until you’ve tried them. I would love to hear from regular Grape Sense readers if you have thoughts on other brands. I’ll share that in a future column.

 

 

2016 A Strong Hoosier Vintage

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FRENCH LICK, IN. – Learning about wine means spending time in the vineyard. The next best thing is talking with the men and women worrying about rainfall, leaf canopy, and sugars in hot August fields.

Grape Sense LogoThe Indiana Uplands, nine southern Indiana wineries in the state’s only AVA, held its annual Uncork the Uplands tasting event the last weekend in July at the fabulous French Lick Springs Hotel. Muck like plants, flowers or an herb garden in many Hoosier backyards, the 2016 growing season has been a strong one.

“This year everything is growing, growing, and growing,” said Bernie Parker, vineyard manager for the 55-acre Creekbend Vineyard of Oliver Winery. “We’ve been applying some fungicides because of the wet weather. We’ve had more than eight inches of rain in July and we normally have half that.

“We have a great crop out there and as long as it dries out in next five to six weeks, we’re going to be harvesting a great vintage and full crop.”

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Traminette being delivered to Huber winery in 2014. The whites come first.

That’s really good news for the Oliver operation. Late frost cut the 2014 Creekbend crop by 70 percent and the 2015 crop by about 30 percent.

The story is very similar regardless of vineyard size. John Doty, owner of French Lick Winery, said the 2016 crop is going to be excellent. “We’ve had plenty of rain but it can rain another couple of weeks. Then it needs to quit raining; if it quits raining last two weeks of August and first of September I’ll be a happy man. We have a beautiful crop hanging.”

Doty’s 8-acre vineyard is actually in Martin County on family property on the hillside of one of the highest points in the area. The vineyard suffered some trunk damage to Chambourcin vines and lost a planting of Tannat over the past two years with the early chill but 2016 appears to be delivering a stellar crop.

Butler Winery also benefit from location during bad weather years. Butler sits atop a hill just north of Bloomington. Jim Butler said his 6 acre vineyard is better suited to withstand a late frost because of its elevated position.

“We have a great crop,” the veteran Hoosier winemaker said. “We’ve had a lot of rain, but if it dries out, and that’s what we look for in August and September, we’re in great shape.”

Times have been good in recent years for most Hoosier wineries despite the two years of frost damage in a few areas. Wine sales across the country continue to rise and Indiana wine quality continues to improve.

Winemakers across the state are now at a point where they’re ready to push the envelope and try new grapes. Butler is experimenting with the cold-climate Marquette. Doty and others are planting the hardy Norton grape. Ted Huber, in the state’s southern-most region, continues his work with traditional Bordeaux-style varietals.

A warm and dry late summer will apparently deliver one of the best crops of recent vintages for Hoosier wine drinkers.

 

‘Uncork’ Shows Indiana’s Best

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Indiana’s top wine event is unquestionably Vintage Indiana held in Indianapolis in early June each year.

Vintage Indiana brings 30-plus Hoosier wineries to Military Park in Indianapolis and gives thousands an opportunity to sample hundreds of Indiana wines. Unfortunately, the event was nearly drowned out this year with a day of heavy downpours. (Pun intended).

Grape Sense LogoIndiana’s second-best wine celebration might be Uncork the Uplands, Saturday, July 30, French Lick, IN. Uncork celebrates the nine wineries of the Indiana Uplands Agricultural Viticulture Area or AVA.

The AVA thing is significant. The Uplands is the only AVA in Indiana. If you’re a wine drinker and like Pinot think of the Willamette Valley’s Dundee Hills, or Howell Mountain in Napa. An AVA is a federally-recognized agricultural area which produces quality grapes for quality wines.

The 6th annual event runs 4-7 p.m. at the wonderful French Lick Springs Hotel. Last-minute tickets are $60. Wine fans can find a lot more information on the official website uncorktheuplands.com Unfortunately, getting a hotel room in French Lick on this summer weekend might be tough. The two resorts are sold out. But there are other small chain hotels nearby.

The event features wines from all nine wineries. Visitors have the chance to talk to winemakers and winery owners. Past Uncork events featured plenty of small bites of food and even entertainment. The 2016 early evening wine tasting is the first not to be held at Oliver or Huber wineries.

French Lick is a great location, though a bit of an effort to get there in the Hoosier heartland. French Lick Winery will become something of an official/unofficial host. The Doty family has a long history with Indiana wine and the Uplands event. The French Lick Winery is using the Saturday event to introduce its new distillery. The VIP event is sold out but signals another Indiana winery entering the competitive distillery business. Ted Huber has been the real pioneer among Indiana winemakers to jump into the distilled spirits business. French Lick seems like a natural with the two fabulous, Indiana landmark hotels and a bustling casino.

There is another event coming up that seems to get less attention. Indiana wineries pour their wines throughout the Indiana State Fair, 1-9 p.m., each day of the fair, Aug. 5-21.

State Fair attendees, who are also wine fans, should definitely stop by the Grand Hall across from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The event showcases wine and Indiana beer. Attendees must be 21 to enter.

 

 

Celebrating an Important Milestone

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Everyone has milestones in their life. Think of events like birthdays, anniversaries, new job, retirement, a first date, maybe even getting fired or divorced. As a society we’re pretty good at celebrating life’s events.

Grape Sense LogoToday’s Grape Sense represents the 200th piece I’ve written since starting an every-other- week newspaper column in October of 2007. At one point I had 23 newspaper in three states, it is a few less now but something I view as a great achievement and I’m proud of what I’ve done with this idea.

Milestones deserve, no let’s make that require, celebration. How else would Grape Sense propose a celebration – but with wine, of course!

Writing 200 columns about wine hasn’t always been easy but always enjoyable. I don’t really run out of ideas as often as fall short with the proper motivation. I’m working on that.

My celebration wine will be one of two choices. I’ll either open a bottle of Rochioli Pinot Noir from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley or Joseph Phelps’ Napa Valley Cabernet. Those are two great bottles of wine. The final choice will come down to what’s for dinner!

The point here is to celebrate your life and celebrate whether you feel like it or not. Time goes fast and pausing to really reflect on certain points in your life is rewarding and sometimes even educational. No, you don’t have to go out and find a $65 bottle of Cabernet. Just find something you know is really good.

Find a wine you really like and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if it’s red, white or pink. It doesn’t matter if you Happy Milestone Grape Sense readers! Column No. 201 is just two weeks away!

Indiana Restaurant Wine Award Winners

If you’re a foodie and like wine, you certainly appreciate a good wine list. There are plenty of good wine lists in Indiana but not a lot of great ones. I’m often shocked by the number of really bad wine choices.

WineSpectator Best of Award LogoThere were only four Hoosier restaurants recently recognized with a Wine Spectator Best of Award Excellence. That’s the second-highest honor. Indiana had no Grand award winners (the top honor). The awards of excellence went to McGraw’s Steak, Chop & Fish House, South Bend; Peterson’s, Indianapolis; St. Elmo’s, Indianapolis, and The Capital Grille, Indianapolis.

The third-tier ranking of Award of Excellence found a few more restaurants – most of them in Indianapolis including, Black Market, Fleming’s Steakhouse, Fogo de Chao, Harry & Izzys, Morton’s

Steakhouse, Ocean Prime, Seasons 52, Shula’s Steakhouse, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, and Tastings (a wine Award of Excellence winners elsewhere around the Hoosier state, Ciao Bella, Schererville; Heston Supper Club, LaPorte; Ford’s Black Angus, Terre Haute; Janko’s Little Zagreb, Bloomington; Joseph Decuis, Roanoke; LaSalle Grille, South Bend; Tapastrie, South Bend; Carriage House Dining Room & Gardens, South Bend; William B’s, Michigan City.

Gaining an Understanding of Burgundy

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The Grape Sense newspaper column has often focused on introducing new wines, new price points, and an education focus about wine.

There is no bigger educational high point in wine understanding than Burgundy, France. Burgundy is home to a confusing geography, hard to find wines, and most of the world’s most expensive single bottles.

Grape Sense LogoNormally the focus is on value wine. But on occasion a look at other prominent wine regions helps with perspective. Additionally, I just returned from leading a wine tour group in Burgundy – my first-ever visit as well.

Burgundy lies southeast of Paris where the whites of Chablis and silky red and whites of Burgundy have a history going back hundreds of years. Many of the vineyards and wine making facilities date back to the time of Romans. Many of the vineyards and ancient winemaking efforts were started by monks in the early 12th or 13th century.

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Nothing like getting in the vineyard

Burgundy is a place for history. Perhaps the first educational point to get out of the way is a reminder that most all of France doesn’t tell you what grapes are in the wine on their bottles. You have to have a very basic understanding. In Burgundy reds are Pinot Noir and whites are Chardonnay.

After that, it gets complicated. There are approximately 100 specifically designated wine growing regions or AOCs. The wines are named for the region and its growing characteristics or terroir.

An example would be Gevrey-Chambertin which is a small village and surrounding vineyards south of Lyon but north of Beaune, the heart of Burgundy. My group tasted four Gevrey Chambertin wines at Domaine Rene Leclerc. The four wines came from four different vineyards – with a difference in soil, slope, and micro-climate – even though all lie in the same region.

And, the wines had slight differences. The area is known for wines of more structure and slightly more pronounced tannins. We tasted different in the earthiness you get in Pinot Noir and a slightly different level in the spiciness on the wine’s’ finish in your mouth.

Okay, it’s pretty geeky for a wine novice.

A fact that surprised some of us was the production breakdown. In the U.S. if someone says the word Burgundy people think of red wine. Actually Burgundy is planted with 60 percent white wine grapes. The whites were consistently silky and elegant. The better white wines were rich with a full mouth feel while maintaining that silky texture.

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… and then you taste!

Good Burgundy seems to start around $50 or asmore in the U.S. So indeed, not the normal focus of Grape Sense. But they represent some of the best wines in the world and certainly worth a try.

Burgundy is also one of the ultimate trips for wine fans. The walled-village of Beaune is a delightful home base with legendary wine caves beneath the city streets, the famed Hospice de Beaune, and wine tasting shops, Michelin-starred restaurants, and charming hotels throughout the city.

European wine travel requires advance planning. A trip to Burgundy is really the ultimate for real wine fans.

Wine Travel Depends on Region

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For wine lovers nothing is more fun than a day visiting tasting rooms or maybe even wine travel.

Depending on where you go, there are some things you need to know. It can be a Saturday on the road, a trip to the coast, or a dream vacation to Europe to enjoy wine. But all wine trips take a planning.

Grape Sense LogoThe easiest way to start is using the internet to find a wine trail close to home. Indiana has several wine trails. Figure out your geography and plan on visiting no more than about three wineries. That is advice not a standard. Needless to say a designated driver is always a must. But tasting at more than three wineries can impair your judgment. I also find that when I hit a fourth winery in a day I’m suffering ‘palate fatigue.’

After you’ve hit some Hoosier wine trails and you get the tasting room fever, try neighboring states. I admit I’ve visited just a couple Ohio wineries, none in Kentucky or Illinois. But I’ve visited Michigan wine trails three times and they are delightful. You can plan an easy trip into southwestern Michigan and choose from many different wineries. A great weekend trip would be up to Traverse City, a great food town, and visit the really good wineries of Leelanau County and Old Mission Peninsula. The wines are surprisingly good.

If you wish to travel east, check out the wineries of upper New York State, the Finger Lakes Region. Virginia wines are also gathering more accolades with every vintage.

If you’re ready to head west there are more options to cover than space allows. Wine mecca for those of us in the U.S. is Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Napa, in particular, is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. But Napa is very commercial and very expensive. Lean on advice from friends who’s visited Napa to plan your trip. Look at every winery’s website and see what fits your tastes.

Some Napa wineries, the very best, usually accept guests by appointment only. Many welcome walk-in visitors daily as well. But also be aware that the big winery names you know don’t come cheap. All wineries in Napa charge a tasting fee. Many will have 2 or 3 tasting levels.

Be prepared if you want to taste the very best wines or at the very best wineries to shell out big bucks. The better Napa wineries charge $50-$100 for a tasting. And unlike many Midwestern states, that tasting fee will not be refunded with a purchase. But if you’re going, be sure to do at least one premium tasting to learn more about what the fuss is all about.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is an awesome wine tourism region. It’s not as busy as Napa or Sonoma but growing fast. Tasting fees are going up but still nothing like Napa.

Finally, some advice about going to Europe – particularly France or Italy since that’s where I can share the best advice.

Wine tourism remains new for both of Europe’s Old World Wine regions. Planning is essential for winery visits in both countries. Only the biggest, most commercially-motivated, wineries have open tasting rooms as we know them. A call or email is necessary to secure an appointment.

It’s wise, and not cheap, to engage a wine tourism professional to plan your trip and accompany you – especially if you don’t speak the native language. Most wineries vigorously engaged in tourism will have English-speaking staff. But if you want to visit a smaller winery, you can’t count on English-speaking staff. Such wine guides can charge up to $500-$1000 a day but they will take care of every detail.

 

A Few Days In Paris Wraps Trip

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PARIS, France – The wine tour/Burgundy portion of the trip I’m leading ended Thursday. The trip is wrapping up this weekend with the group having three free days in Paris.

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I hate selfies, but what the heck – it’s Paris.

This is my fifth time to visit France but just second time in Paris – unless flying through Charles DeGaulle airport counts. Check out two days of walking around Paris.

It’s a cliche of sorts but Paris really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The architecture is stunning, food and wine superb, and the people – at least the ones in hospitality – are generally very nice.

There is so much to see and do. We’re staying in the 16th Arrondissment (neighborhood) about half way between the Eiffel Tower and the Arc di Triumphe. As part of their registration costs for the trip, each participant was provided a museum, bus, and train pass. If you’re coming to Europe its the most affordable way to get around. A two-day pass was just over 100E per person but well worth it.

I’ve let the group go on their own during the day because that’s the way trip was billed. I’ve explored which I really enjoy.

We wrap up tonight with a group dinner cruise – one of those flat boats on the Seine down the heart of Paris. The river is not as high as some photos you’ve may seen but it remains hight and moving pretty fast. Still, I got a call from the tour company yesterday and they assured me they were sailing.

There are about a dozen photos in the album linked above. I’ll probably have a  few more to add later today. It’s back home for most everyone tomorrow.

Three Great Burgundy Experiences

CHAGNY, France – There are just a few really huge producers in Burgundy. We visited one Wednesday morning. There are hundreds of “farmer wineries,” small operations run by a married couple or family. We visited one Wednesday afternoon. There are even some very old domains and chateau you’ve never heard of making excellent wine. We visited such a chateau to wrap up our wine visits on this tour.

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Tasting the wines of Joseph Drouhin in the underground cellar.

See all of our Wednesday stops in the photo album attached.

The common thread between the three was excellent wines. I think I can speak for the eight people on our trip to say it was the most memorable day of the trip. And oh, we wrapped up with dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The dinner was fabulous.

There are bigger wine operations but few better known than Maison Joseph Drouhin. Drouhin wines are widely available in the U.S. Drouhin’s wine caves and tasting room is in the center of Beaune near the famous Notre Dame Cathedral.

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Touring the historic caves.

There are many caves a visitor can tour beneath Beaune but Drouhin’s are often praised as the best preserved and most interesting. Having done the tour, I can’t imagine a better one. From the centurys’ old winemaking equipment, age of the cave, and the detailed information provided by our guide, the tour was worth every 1E of the 38E we paid.

It was particularly fascinating to hear how Maurice Drouhin built a false wall in the cellars to hide fine wine from the Nazi army during WWII. The famous ‘freedom door’ was a great story of how Maurice escaped the caves and made it to the Hospice de Beaune where nuns helped hide him during the conflict.

We had a great tasting of Drouhin wines in a cave just off the entrance area, including the red Clos des Mouches – Drouhin’s signature Pinot Noir.

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Clemence having fun with our group.

We were then off to the country and drove south through the Cote de Beaune. We cruised through the vineyards and past Chateau Pommard and Chateau Mersault. We drove through the nice little village of Chagny and up a nearby hill to Domaine de la Folie. Folie is actually the first property south of Cote de Beaune in the Cote Chalonnaise.

This long-held family operation is small and has a delightful history you should read. Baptiste and Clemence Dubrulle have taken over the winery. In the few years they’ve run the operation, and moved into the old Chateau, they have gotten some notoriety with a great mention in Wine Spectator. They make three whites and three reds along with some distilled spirits. The whites were simply unbelievable for under 20E. The reds were solid.

Clemence, a delightful and engaging host, prepared a bit of a picnic lunch for us in their charming tasting room. She also took us into the vineyards so we could get a first-hand look at the frost damage from this spring.

The Folie wines were as good as or better than any we tasted. So how could they be so inexpensive? That’s a long answer but to over-simplify an answer, most wine enthusiasts have heard of Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. Mention the Chalonnaise and you’re likely to get a shrug.

The visit to Folie was a big highlight of our entire trip.

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Our hosts Nicolas and his wife..

Finally we were off for our last wine stop in Santenay to visit Domaine Fleurot Larose. The Domaine dates back to the turn of the last century. It was built by the founder of Romanee-Conti.

We started by touring the ancient caves beneath the chateau and winery. The Domaine has a somewhat unusual set of caves beneath a set of caves – or two stories of caves. We saw the moss covered bottles of older vintages and enjoyed the explanation of how the mess protects the older wines.

It was back upstairs to the old tasting room where owner and winemaker Nicolas Fleurot joined us for the tasting. The wines were refined, balanced and tasted as good as anything we had all week.

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Amazing what a Michelin chef can do with chicken and potatos.

Our last full day in Beaune ended with an incredible dinner at Bernard Loiseau Des Vignes. Loiseau’s Beaune restaurant has a Michelin star. He also owns two restaurants in Paris. I hope to get up a review with dinner pics later today or tomorrow.

Yesterday ended the Burgundy portion of our trip. So I’m not so sure I’ll have daily posts. I have several things I’d like to write while it’s all fresh. My travel tour group is off to Paris this afternoon where they will enjoy free time for the duration until Saturday night when we take a Seine River cruise. I breathed a sigh of relieve to see the cruises were resumed this past weekend after all the recent Paris flooding.

For now, au revoir!

 

White Wine Diversity in Chablis

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CHABLIS, France – Who makes the world’s greatest white wine? Is it California’s buttery Chards, the complex white Burgundys, or perhaps the mineral-driven Chardonnay from Chablis?

Chablisiens are rather unabashed saying they make the greatest white wine in the world. While that’s debatable, most would argue they deserve to be in the discussion after tasting the delightful Premier and Grand Cru wines.

Our tour group took a two-hour ride from Beaune north to Chablis Tuesday to learn more about the iconic wine. Our trip has had a great mixture of terroir, large and small producers, and a few in between. In Chablis, we saw one of the biggest in Domaine William Fevre and one of the best known, Billaud-Simon.

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Didier Seguier, Fevre winemaker.

Our visit to Fevre included a winery and cellar tour, tasting, and delightful lunch at the winery’s on-site restaurant. One of the nice surprises was during our tasting with intern Adrian, I spotted winemaker Didier Seguier and asked him if he’d speak briefly to the group.

Seguier was more than gracious and talked about the importance of terroir, not the winemaker. He said his primary goal, as often stated in Chablis and other regions, was to reflect the terroir.

After our lunch, where I had a great hamburger, we were off to Billaud-Simon where I had tasted on a 2012 press tour. I thought those wines were the best I tasted during that visit and they were excellent again yesterday.

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Faviely, the new owner of Billaud-Simon, will renovate the old Chateaux to accommodate guests.

Catherine Leseur led us through a tasting of 4 Grand Cru, 3 Premier Cru, and the lesser Chablis wines.  The Billaud-Simon were again my favorite of the day but much of the group made split evaluations of the two winery stops.

The story about these two wineries isn’t complete without noting they’ve been sold by their namesakes to bigger wineries or corporations in recent years. Selling the family business in France is difficult but happening more and more. Often times there is no next generation interested in the difficult work of farminga nd ups and down of the wine business. Additionally, there is the lure of a huge financial windfall in selling these iconic properties.

Here is a photo album from Tuesday’s Chablis visit.

Today is really filled up. We being our day by touring and tasting at the iconic Maison Joseph Drouhin cellars in the heart of Beaune. Then it’s off to the countryside this afternoon to taste at two small, quirky, and interesting wineries.

I’m hoping to have a more detailed post for tomorrow.