Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Extraordinary Experience at Delas Freres...

Until that moment it had been a normal winery tour…

We had arrived on time, been warmly greeted at Delas, had gone through an interesting tour of the processing pad, the tanks, and the barrel room. Along the way the winemaker, Jacques Grange, had joined us, and we had ended up in a functional little display room with a wine bar.

Modest, unassuming and understated outside---all belying the remarkable tasting experience we would soon enjoy inside.

Then, everything changed.

Jacques announced, in his quiet and reserved way, that since we had seemed earnest in our desire to truly learn about the wines of the Rhone, he had decided to do the tasting portion a bit differently. Jacques had pulled three different vintages of three of the best of Delas terroirs: Cote Rotie, Hermitage, and Cornas. A triple-triple vertical, as it were, awaited us at the bar. All made by Jacques, who would narrate for us.

Jacques Grange, Winemaker, in the Barrel Maturation Cellar

The wines were:

Côte-Rôtie, Siegneur de Maugiran, Delas Vintage 2005, 2006, 2007
-a blend of Syrah from the Côte Brune (70%) and Côte Blonde (30%).

Hermitage, Marquise de Tourette, Delas. Vintage 2005, 2006, 2007
-From the Domaine de Tourette parcels of l’Ermite, le Sabot, and the famous Les Bessardes.

Cornas, Chante-Perdrix, Delas. Vintage 2005, 2006, 2007
-a Cornas cuvee of 100% Syrah.

At Jacques' suggestion, we tasted from north to south, and from oldest to youngest.

My theory, with which I’ve bored countless people, is that in any good wine you look for three elements of expression: the grape, the place, and the winemaker’s style…and when possible the vintage variations. This was a perfect occasion to practice that theory on----and it worked superbly (he said, modestly).

Each wine clearly showed the difference of terroir—the place---quite openly. The Cote-Rotie was more plummy/blueberry, with black fruits and a distinctive note of black olives showing consistently through. The Hermitage was softer, more elegant, less sumptuously endowed than the Cote-Rotie but more refined. The Cornas was a powerful brute, with robust tannins and a hard, tight core of wild black fruit and intense pepper-spice and earth, but tightly, tightly bound and slow to yield.

The wines were clearly reflective of vintage too. The 2005s were full to bursting with flavor and fruit, silky textured, and fat and luscious in their first ‘coming out’. The 2006s were less exuberant, on a lighter framework, not as effulgent, leaner. The 2007s were more like the 2005s---but not as expressive, not as fat, not as silky, and much leaner, though not stingy as the 2006s were tending. Of the three vintages, I would favor the 2005; but the 2007 was close behind. Only the 2006 lacked the essential focus, and that primarily in the Hermitage; the Cote-Rotie had a smoky element that made it interesting; and the Cornas, though restrained, was still a brute.

But the winemaker style was evident as well. During the tour Jacques had expressed that philosophy, telling us his approach was to intervene as little as possible, to not ‘show his hand heavily’ in the wine, but to allow it to express itself in each instance. He wanted little to no evident and expressive oak in the wine, seeing the oak only as a vessel to allow the wine to age and develop gracefully without ever overwhelming the fruit. He also looked for lower alcohols, lean and racy acidity, and relatively moderate tannins (always expecting more tannic expression in Cornas, as a nature of the place.)

That exactly and precisely sums up the Delas wines. The same reserved and balanced tone Jacques shows in conversation; the same thoughtful, precise, and measured approach he shows in his behavior; the same deliberation without drama---all that is in the wine.

All thanks to Jacques for presenting this stunning expository tasting of the wines of Delas. It was a memorable experience for all.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coming out...

I have a confession to make.

I love rosé.

No, it’s not the “Sure, Hoke, everyone likes a little pink wine every now and then,” or “Gee, Hoke, rosé is nice in summer when it’s hot ; everybody knows that,” or even “Well, yeah, it’s okay for a picnic wine, maybe.” Not what I mean at all.

I mean that I really love rosé.

I always have, actually. Just hid that love away, kept it a secret, never talked about it much, and indulged in it only now and then in public. It was white wine and red wine--- that stuff of whatever size and color known vaguely as “serious wine”---that was what everyone wanted to drink and to talk about until your ears bled.

Never rosé. Rosé could never be discussed as “serious wine” (insert deep frown here). After all, it was pink.

But now I’m out, and I’m pink (and coral and orange and peach), and I’m proud. I love rosé. Notice I said “rosé”, though. Not blush. As much as I’m fond of pink wine, I don’t think that pink should have noticeable sugar. I know some often have a little residual sugar to round out the wine, sure---I just don’t want sugar in mine. I want mine to be as dry as possible. So that rules out White Zinfandel and White Merlot, and stuff like that. I’m talking aromatic, dry, rosé; that’s what I love and want to drink more of!

I hope my example will encourage others to shake off the vinous shackles of conformity and raise their voices in support of rosé too! On the other hand, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for that. Just as well, too, because it keeps the price down on most of them.

But rather than bend your ear about rosé until they (it?) bleed/bleeds, let me give you a case in point that tells the story of my love: Last night.

Went over to have dinner with friends in Berkeley. It was one of those absolute picture-perfect days you generally only hear described in tourist brochures. Bright summer sun, but only about 70 degrees, barest little puffs of breezes to keep the air moving and fresh, slight smell of salt tang in the air from the Bay. And as soon as I walk in the door, my friend Jason shoves a glass in my hand filled with a robustly reddish-pink rosé! Now, knowing Jason as I do, I realize this is not going to be some standard variety, or be from some standard place. That would be too easy. But I sniff: definitely, I say, based on the bold, deep color and the fruity smell, a saignée rose (more about that later), probably new world, but I’m not even going to try to guess anything beyond that.

With bottle unveiled, I see it is York Creek Mendocino Touriga Nacional Rosé. (I told you about Jason’s quirks, didn’t I!) The bold, bright color is belied by the soft and easy fruit…and yes, it has a touch of sugar, but not enough to be annoying. A good, light, refreshing wine to start with on such a lovely afternoon.

Then I see the first course that awaits, and Jason wonders what wine we should match with it. Hmmm. Plump, gorgeous, whole boiled scampi (Rip they little heads off…). Sections and arms and claws of fresh Dungeness Crab (!!!!). Bucheron, a goat cheese I never did identify, and a well-aged Gouda, with sesame crackers.

“What wine?” he asked. C’mon, you know what I said, don’t you? Yep. I pulled out a Chateau Bas L’Alvenergue Coteaux d’Aix en Provence 2008 Rosé. And you know what? It was perfect. A delicious perfume of aromatics belying the delicate pink-orange-peach color, and staunchly dry and briskly crisp and acidic on the palate with tart raspberry, tart cherry, some pear, some peach, a little mango. I’m thinking Grenache, Syrah…but those are fairly safe grapes to think, since this is Provence, after all, and those are two of the mainstay grapes for the region. Perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the Dungeness and scampi, as well as the fat glossiness of the rich cheeses.

This is food wine, people! It’s not some sippy little inconsequential pinkoblush wine, not on your life. This is…I’m gonna go ahead and say it---serious wine. Seriously tantalizing in the nose, seriously satisfying in the taste. There was no want, there was no need for more---no red wine needed, and no white wine would have been quite as appetizing with the food, the occasion, and the evening.

(Pssssst! Don't go shouting it out everywhere, but this little darlin' cost a whole $8.)

You’ll be hearing a lot more about this in the future. And not just in the summer either! So get used to it.

And you can call me by my new nickname: M’sieur Rosé. I like it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

RRV Pinot: Changes In Attitude?

There are sure and certain signs of maturity in the Russian River Valley these days.

I was at the Rutherford Grill last weekend with some Pinot-loving friends, and had occasion to try two different Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley. Both were 2006. It was an interesting comparison, as one wine was from an icon of the RRV and another was sourced from the RRV but apparently made over in St. Helena, in that valley to the east of Sonoma.

It's cold in them thar' rollin' hills---especially out close to the coast. And that makes for good Pinot Noir. Whether a Single Vineyard in a special location, or a judicious blend of different sources to attain a particular stylistic expression, the Russian River Valley is continuing to mature and develop as a prime area for Pinot Noir in the New World.

The Terra Valentine RRV 2006---made in St. Helena, but purportedly from three different vineyard sources in the RRV---was surprisingly lean, tart and focused for its source. Winemaker style or the appearance of vineyard maturity? Hard to say from such little data, but I’ll choose to interpret this as a sign that the RRV might be reaching the point where it’s less about show and more about substance.

This may be a yearning on my part for more balanced wines and less of the extravaganzas of gobbiness that have been the rage for the last several years, but then, I am an incurable optimist.

Mind you, the Terra Valentine would never be mistaken for a Burgundian—and neither should it be, for it isn’t. It’s very much a Russian River Valley Pinot in that it has some succulent fruit---black cherries, mostly---with some cola and a touch of spiciness. So it is wine of a place, but more restrained, less overly perfumed and jammy than has been the norm, and very much more pleasantly drinkable (as in, you could imagine a second glass, a thing unimaginable in some of the more egregious examples of type). As I said, a hopeful sign.

The second wine, Merry Edwards Coopersmith Vineyard RRV 2006, was built on a markedly bigger frame. Ms. Edwards has never been shy in her style, and she has focused on some vineyards that give fruit that respond to her desires, and this particular vineyard is close to her vinous heart. All in the family, so to speak. The Coopersmith pushes closer to the big, strapping, audacious style---but still, thankfully, shows careful restraint. No jam here, and certainly no “Pinot Syrah” either; simply bold, spicy (think clove and allspice) and tart cranberry/cherry fruit wrapped around a sturdy, acidic structure. Velvety soft texture as well, which adds to the drinkability of this very impressive Pinot.

So maybe we’re entering a lovely new era for RRV Pinot, where excess and aggrandizement aren’t necessarily the order of the day, and where a maturation of style---either from maturing vineyards or from maturing winemakers---is more the norm?

As I said, I’m an optimist.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

M. Chapoutier, Le Pavillon, Tain l'Ermitage

Chapoutier has a great tasting room. It’s less than a block from our hotel in Tain; right off the main drag, yet quiet and peaceful. The building is quaint and attractive, and it is very slick and professionally done inside. One of the most striking impressions is to step into the entrance and see, embedded in the floor under heavy glass, a series of pits filled with soils, each pit labeled with the appellation and the particular vineyard it comes from. Hey, it’s one thing to say “this is grown in shingle and clay soils” and it’s something totally different to stand there and look down at a shingle and clay soil.

And this display drives home the message of how important the soils are to the appellation system, and how and why the finished wines will taste and smell and feel.

But Chapoutier, for all its biodynamic story and its soil displays---not to mention the gorgeous hill of Hermitage that looms behind it---is a hustle bustle of business. There’s a constant flow of small groups, many in business attire, coming and going in different directions. And the staff, rather cool and matter of fact---one suspects this is a constant thing--- handles it all with aplomb. Chapoutier is an interesting mix of tradition, biodynamic farming, efficiency, and excellent business acumen.

In a reversal of what we did at Domaine Alain Voge, here we’ll see a short video, then taste a series of wines, and then stroll through the streets and up the slopes to the famous Le Pavillon vineyard of Hermitage.

Chante-Alouette Hermitage Blanc 2006
100% Marsanne. Oak in the lead; mouth filling, rich, figgy aromas and flavors; slightly hot; shows its alcohol of 14.5%.

Saint Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2006
Also 100% Marsanne, and completely different from the preceding wine. Softer, distinctly floral, creamy in the mouth, less noticeable alcohol heat.

Ermitage Les Greffieux 2006
From a 3.5 ha parcel of shingle and clay soils. Finished at 15% abv. A Big Boy wine with French Roast coffee, vanilla and caramel. Young and tight.

Ermitage Le Pavillon 2006
From the vineyard we will soon be standing in. Young, hard, tight, ripe fruit still bound up in severe tannins, grudgingly opening up and expanding with some spiciness and some roasted fruit and coffee, but with years to go before it will reveal itself.

Ermitage Le Pavillon 2001
Ah, okay! With some bottle time, this 2001 is softer, more tame, with dark fruits, roasted meats and elegant, restrained tannins, offering more support and less containment. Slightly hot finish, but withal an excellent and lovely wine.

It’s a short stroll to the Chapoutier Le Pavillon vineyard, and then a walk up a gentle slope. The workers are in Le Pavillon, with bundles of long straw ties at their waists, methodically going down the rows and tying up the Syrah canopies from the Gobelet-pruned vines. In other vineyards, plastic or metal ties might be used, but this is biodynamic farming so Chapoutier uses straw that can serve the same purpose, and when finished, can be tugged on until it breaks and then left in the vineyard to be recycled into compost eventually. It’s one of the more sensible and elegant and harmonious practices of organic/biodynamic viticulture.

Another characteristic of biodynamic farming is the vitality of life---not just the vines, mind you, but the profusion of flowers and cover crops, with the beauty of huge bushes of fresh, pungent lavender, and red poppies and white alyssum, and fat bees buzzing industriously, and sleek red hawks wheeling and stooping above the rows, alert for field critters. Le Pavillon is a constant hum of biodynamic activity of all sorts, and one can see it---and feel it---in the vines now bursting with green life.

One can also see the intricacies of the soils from here, and parse out the subtleties of slope and facing and inclination, and begin to understand the components of terroir in an intimate and personal way. Scuffing the soil with a shoe exposes the underlayers of fine gravel from degraded granite, alongside the white limestone, which is nothing more than compressed minerals of countless billions of miniscule sea fossils from eons past. All of this, the soil from ages past, the bright sun glowing down, the wisps of wind ruffling through the rows, the gnarled and scaly old vines, and the new, verdant growth with all its color and vibrancy of life---all of this is transmuted, somehow, someway, through the mysteries of life into a berry, which becomes a grape, which becomes a wine.

Sorry. Wine does that to me sometimes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Domain Alain Voge, with Alberic Mazoyer

Alberic Mazoyer is a very intense man. That’s the first thing you notice about him. He constantly scans his environment, alert to everything around him, and he is constantly moving, even when he’s standing still. This is a man charged with energy---he puts the dynamic in biodynamic---and he pours all of that into his craft of winemaking.

As we stroll into the small courtyard of Alain Voge in Cornas, Alberic greets us warmly, then wastes no time at all getting us organized and focused. (Alberic Mazoyer is Alain Voge’s partner and operating winemaker; the legendary man himself is older, and infirm at the moment, and cannot attend our visit.)

Any winemaker worth his salt will opine the old standard of “wine is made in the vineyards,” but

Mazoyer embodies that maxim by immediately taking us out to the vineyards. We take the van up to the hills above the village, then clamber up a winding steep semi-trail, hardly a path at all, and drag ourselves to the top of the hill, where we see a panoramic view of Cornas stretching out in every direction around and below us.

From here we can see the craggy ruins of Chateau de Crussol at the southern border, and the Rhone plain stretching away, and we can see the convolutions of the steep internal valley slopes and hilltop vineyards on one side, as well as the more open and gently declining slopes descending down towards the quiet village on the other. All of Cornas in one wheeling scan.

Alberic then provides an amazing dissertation on Cornas and the entire Northern Rhone wine region, a university semester in a morning’s talk. Ever restless, ever moving, he picks up a stick and waves it around as a pointer to illustrate his message. It seems altogether fitting that a high and capricious wind has suddenly come up and is whipping around, tugging at our hair and clothes, tossing the vine canopies, as Alberic talks about soils and vines and nature, waving his stick around like a sorcerer’s wand.

But Alberic is no sorcerer when it comes to the wine, not really. He’s hard-headed, and practical and pragmatic, and knows the value of tradition as well as the need to allow innovation.

When we descend from the hill and return to the winery, Alberic has prepared an intensive (would we expect anything else) tasting of St. Peray, Saint Joseph, and Cornas, thus completing the university semester.

Alain Voge Saint-Peray Harmonie 2007
Rounded, silky, herbs and fruit, with nutty undertones and a touch of honey.

Alain Voge Saint-Peray Terres Boisées 2006
Vigorous nose and flavor; fresh pear, quince; higher acids and more structure, more power; distinctly mineral notes in the tight but lingering finish.

Alain Voge Saint-Peray Fleur de Crussol 2006
From 70 year old Marsanne vines; made with frequent batonnage to enhance the flavor and intensity; rich, silky in texture, expansive on the palate; lemon/lime and honeysuckle fruits; a notable wine.

Alain Voge Saint-Joseph Les Vinsonnes 2006
14 months on oak---but no new oak, only used barrels. Spice jar wine! (And I love spice jar wine.) Fresh, coarse ground black pepper and allspice, with the perfume of violets and a whiff of black licorice. A very natural wine, freely exposing itself---call it “naked wine.” Or honest expression of terroir. Yet another reason for people to love Saint Joseph

Alain Voge Cornas Les Chailles 2006
My quickly scrawled notes say this was more like the Cote Rotie we tasted earlier. Some softer berry fruit in here---blueberries----and mild tannins for a Cornas. Cornas in a friendly and amiable mood.

Alain Voge Cornas Les Vielle Vignes 2006
Okay, now the gloves are off! This is old-style Cornas, tight to the core, stubborn to yield up its treasures, but reluctantly showing black fruit and mint; tight tannins won’t let go, and this wine will require years of aging to show what it’s got.

Alain Voge Cornas Les Vielles Fontaines 2006
The big boy. Granite soil, 80 year old vines, 2 years in barrel. But even with that time in barrel, the wood, while present, doesn’t come close to dominating. That granitic, mineral, rock-hard element is there to give it structure; the fruit and spice (but more spice than fruit) is there to add firm flesh; the tannin is noticeably there, and needs softening with time; so the oak toast is only one element. And I think this wine needs it. A wonderful combination of earth, rock, mature vines, fruit, spice, oak, acid and tannin on a big, big frame.

All too soon, our time at Voge is over. We're reluctant to leave, but the schedule calls. It has been an interesting day, and we leave with newfound understanding about this area, and specifically about the magic of Cornas. Alberic Mazoyer is a great teacher. So is Cornas.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Domaine Yves Cuilleron, Condrieu

Yves Cuilleron is a study of contrasts. Quite a serious man, possessed of a sense of gravity, he is also quick to flash a broad smile of honest pleasure. Sturdy and compact, with sensibly close-cropped hair and dressed in straightforward farm clothes, he is nonetheless neat and elegant in posture and movement, and his eyes light up with instant passion when he begins to talk about his wines. And he’s quite comfortable being surrounded by adoring women peppering him with questions, it seems.

We joined Yves in Côte Table, at Le Cercle des Vignerons in Ampuis, and dawdled with him over a leisurely lunch in the land of

slow food, accompanied by three of his wines. Yves, somehow, ended up being flanked by those adoring women, which didn’t hurt his disposition at all. And he was justly proud to show off his splendid wines.

Côte Table sets a pretty good table---it’s a casual place that wine tourists should definitely schedule on their itinerary. (www.lecercledesvignerons.com)

Yves served three of his wines.

Yves Cuilleron Condrieu La Petite Cote 2005
Lightly floral, slight honeydew character, seems medium-bodied at first but has a pleasing touch of baby fat (in a 2005!). Yves informs us it’s direct press, with no maceration; as a consequence, it’s a direct and straightforward wine with mellow fruit, with a short, clean finish.

And it nicely suits the first course, an impressive triple layer of salad greens, topped by thin

slices of ham, then topped with a light pastry stuffed with hot, herbed goat cheese.

Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Vertige 2006
From a single south-facing vineyard on a steep slope---hence the reference to vertigo. Much more full bodied than the Petite Cote, showing some vanilla lacing around the flowers, white peaches, melons and honeysuckle. More structure, from the 18 months on the lees in barrique. Works beautifully with a river fish sautéed in a butter/herb sauce and tinged with lemon, with rice and grilled eggplant alongside. The wine is sturdy and steps up to the food quite nicely. For those few who still think Viognier is a pleasant, flowery and insubstantial little sipping wine for cocktails, think again: this Viognier has structure, a leesy richness and sufficient acidity to work well with food. Great combination!

Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Liquoreux Ayguets 2007Now this wine is just plain damned fun! Imagine a flower box, stuffed full of ripe peaches and apricots, and you’ll get close to the smell of this wine. But at first sip the suffused sweetness with a tangy bite of spice kicks in to induce some lip-licking and repeated sipping. Delectable wine, balanced, harmonious, never cloying or oversweet (alcohol and rs are about the same level); with the mildest possible nod to the more stately botrytised behemoths from elsewhere. Wouldn’t mind at all having a few (dozen) bottles of this little sweetie stashed away.

Stuffed to the gills, perfumed with wine, we wander out to the street and chit-chat with our new friend Yves, then dodge the traffic of Ampuis---which takes both agility and speed, not our forté at the moment---- and collapse into the van to continue our vinous journey of the amazing Rhone Valley wine region.

Next stop: Domaine Alain Voge in Cornas!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rhone Valley: Cote Rotie, La Turque, and Philippe Guigal

23 years ago, I had stood in this same spot on the Cote Rotie with Marcel Guigal, looking over the vines clinging precariously to the slopes above Ampuis. That fiercely determined man was then establishing himself as the uncompromising champion of the Northern Rhone, and E. Guigal was beginning its rise to the giddy heights of world wine cultdom. Now, I was standing there with his son, Philippe, heir to vinous royalty.

Philippe was confident, assured and polished, quite at ease with his visitors, and eager to tell the many stories and answer the countless questions. We stood and looked at the famous La Turque vineyard, straddling the crest of the slope at precisely the spot where the combination of sun, soil and Syrah (with a percentage of Viognier mixed in) combined to produce one of the most consistent and consistently revered wines of France, E. Guigal Cote Rotie “La Turque”.

After traipsing through the Cotes Brune et Blonde, we ended up in the cellar and tasted a few of the wines that E. Guigal produces. We began with a floral and fruity, but crisply dry, Viognier and ended with---what else?---La Turque!

Philippe G.---apparently a USC Trojan fan(?)

Guigal Condrieu 2007 No residual sugar, and at 14% abv getting to the limits of where Viognier should reside (according to moi, but maybe not according to global warming these days). The varietal typicity is there, and so is the regional typicity. A decent, well made bottle of Viognier.

Guigal Chateau La Doriane 2008Fresh and lively and obviously newly in bottle, this is a definite step up. It’s one third barrel fermented, two thirds stainless steel fermented. Aggressively floral, creamy on the entrance, then chewy in the middle of the palate. Quite nice.

We’re in luck! Philippe informs us he has pulled three Cote Rotie wines, and they are all 2005 (yay), even though the La Turque is really nowhere close to being ready.

Bring it on!

Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde 2005A blending of several different plots from both major slopes, this is pretty much the ‘basic’ Guigal Cote Rotie. Forward, light violets leap out of the glass, then obvious but not outrageous oak, then chewy in the middle. Like Pere Marcel and the AOC standard: loyal, local and consistent. A good reference of Cote Rotie.

Guigal Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis 2005
38 months in oak, and it shows. A blend of seven vineyards, this is more dense, more compacted, with deeper tones of black fruit, toasty vanilla and caramel, a touch of char, and a gamy, meaty style.

Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque 2005
42 months in oak, and it shows in this wine---which, as Philippe promised, is not even close to knitting together as yet. It is heavy, heavy in smoky oak, deep, tightly bound, with roasted meats and dried flowers and herbs and hot brush the only things emerging from its careful confines. It would be fascinating to track the arc of this wine---although I realize that mortality being what it is, it will most certainly outlive and outlast me.

Guigal, and Philippe, uphold the high standards of the house, and the tasting simply confirms why they are held in high esteem. Cote Rotie is one of the special places in the world of wine geeks; who better to see it with than Guigal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's In A Name? 3 Germans, 1 French

Liebfraumilch, the famous Rhine blend, took its name from the “original” producer, the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of the Holy Mother) near Worms. Hence the name Liebfraumilch—“Milk of the Blessed Mother”. And yes, those nuns did wear colorful blue smocks…cassocks…whatever it is that nuns wear.

Zeller Schwarze Katz, the well-known German Mosel wine, is from the small town of Zell. Apparently, at one time there was a black cat hanging around the cellar. Another lesser-known oddity is a bottle showing a zaftige mother whaling away on the naked backside of a young boy. It’s called Krover Nacktarsch, or “spanking the bare bottom”.

And while we’re speaking of bottoms, we should mention the wine from Burgundy that comes from the vineyard called Montre Cul. That politely translates as “show your bottom”. The story goes that this vineyard in the northern Cotes de Nuits is so steeply terraced that all you see of the vineyard workers is their, um, nether regions.

Here’s a tongue twisting name, and maybe one of the longest (but once you learn it, it has kind of a nice flow to it): Staatliche Weinbaudomane Schloss Bockelheimer Kupfergrube Kabinett, Nahe. Let’s try that phonetically: STAHT-litch VIGHN-baow-doh-mane SCHLOHS BACH-ul-high-mur KOOP-fur-groo-buh KAHB-ee-net NAH-huh. Hard to say; easy to drink. Practice helps. Both speaking and drinking before speaking.