The Origins of Chardonnay with North Berkeley Imports
The Chardonnay grape is one of the most universally loved, interpreting every vineyard on which it grows in the Bourgogne winegrowing region with sophistication and style. The Chardonnay grape is a direct descendant of Pinot Noir, from the Noirien family of grapes. This family is one of the ancient varietals. This grape family originated in the Bourgogne region but can now be found in all corners of the world. Unlike his cousin, the Pinot Noir grape, the Chardonnay grape thrives and adapts easily to different environments. Chardonnay vines produce small, elongated bunches. The berries are loose and spaced out, taking on a magnificent golden hue on ripening. They produce fairly abundant juice. The leaves are bright green in color can either be entire or with five shallow lateral sinuses. Chardonnay is an early varietal, budding early, which makes it susceptible to spring frosts. Although the Chardonnay grape can be found around the world due to its strong capacity to adapt, it is on the marl limestone of the Bourgogne winegrowing region that this varietal is most happy, and where it expresses itself best. The characteristics of the terroir where it grows allow the Chardonnay grape to reveal a multitude of personalities. The aromatic complexity is then enhanced through the expertise of the winegrowers of the Bourgogne winegrowing region. Through vinification and ageing techniques acquired over centuries, these men and women are able to produce the great white wines of the Bourgogne region.
Bringing wines like White Burgundy to the States is an arduous process. This process is made possible by small importers that work directly with wine growers throughout the world. North Berkeley Imports wears three unique yet interconnected hats in the fine wine market. An importer first and foremost, with a distinct focus on wines from France and Italy. They are also a wholesaler with a national distribution network, with selections appearing in many of the country’s top restaurants and wine bars. North Berkeley Imports started in 1979 as a small neighborhood wine shop in Berkeley, California. From North Berkely; “We like to say that great people make great wine. For more than 25 years, we’ve witnessed this firsthand. We’ve shared family dinners with growers after a long day in the fields, laughing over shared stories and crying over shared tribulations. We’ve witnessed the changing of generations, as fathers hand the reins of an estate to daughters and sons. We’ve helped pick grapes at harvest and tasted alongside from barrels of early wine. We support and trust our growers; and in turn, they support and trust us.”
2015 Remoissenet Pere et Fils, Puligny-Montrachet :: $104 Sale $94
Remoissenet Père et Fils was founded in Burgundy in 1877, and was established in a 14th century building in Beaune. In recent years, the company was run by larger-than-life Roland Remoissenet for around 30 years. In 2005, Remoissenet started the next chapter in its generations-long history. With new owners and renewed leadership under Pierre-Antoine Rovani (formerly of the Wine Advocate) and Bernard Repolt (Maison Louis Jadot), the estate is bringing more vineyards under its own roof and importantly, raising the qualitative bar for itself and its vine-growing partners across the board.
2015 Paul Durdilly Bourgogne Blanc – Chardonnay :: $26 Sale $23
Domaine Paul Durdilly is a small father and son team with some of the highest vineyards in the generic Beaujolais appellation. This is one of the few 100% estate-bottled, hand harvested, indigenous yeast basic Beaujolais available in the United States. If you follow a topographical map of the Cru villages southward to the tiny hamlet of Le Bois d’Oignt you understand why this is the logical extension of the chain of hills that give us the world’s finest Gamay. The vineyards here are a geological mix of granite, schist, river debris and clay that vary remarkably from site to site in the hills around Le Bois d’Oingt. Paul’s finest parcels that make up our blend have a higher proportion of granite and limestone than the average Beaujolais. Aromas of white owers, crushed stones, lemon zest. Bright, tangy and delicate; avors of white fruit and citrus.
2016 Domaine Perraud, Macon-Villages Vieilles Vignes – Chardonnay :: $24 Sale $20
Brothers Stephane and Vincent Perraud are the third generation to run this estate in Clisson, just southeast of Nantes. A number of varietals are farmed but the most important is the Melon de Bourgogne. This wine is hand-harvested. The grapes are pressed full-cluster then fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Aged primarily in tank; some 10% of the wine is aged in older French oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Aromas of fresh herbs, ripe lemons, crushed stones, lime zest. Ripe and balanced; thirst-quenching. It pairs well with salads; shellfish (oysters or clams) and roasted chicken with fresh herbs
2014 Daniel & Julien Barraud, Macon-Fuisse – Chardonnay :: $38 Sale 34
Domaine Daniel et Julien Barraud is not only the source of Vergisson’s finest organic wines but also sets the standard for world-class white Burgundy from the Mâconnais.
The petit hamlet of Vergisson, with its limestone soils and high-altitude vineyards, is where the region’s finest wines are made. Here, families like the Barrauds have for generations preserved their craft in its most honest form, making wine by hand from well-tended organic vineyards and aging their wines in small, old-fashioned cellars. Theirs are wines that without fail can stand tall next to comparable bottles from the Côte d’Or, yet still offer extraordinary value.
In the Barraud family cellars, you’ll find collected a pile of seashells and other fossils that Daniel and his son, Julien, have found in their vineyards. (The enormous twin cliffs, the Roche de Vergisson and the Roche du Solutré, are basically ancient coral reefs.) Barraud wines still retain the pristine, mineral influence of this prehistoric ocean, expressed as a touch of sea salt on the finish.
We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it! Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl and #Neverabadbottle so we can CHEERS!
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