Last Sunday was the funnest wine tasting I’ve ever done! It was my delight to join Tessa Leung and her staff at Sontes in Rochester, MN. Over the course of about 5 hours, we tasted 42 wines. We tasted wines available by the glass and wines from their Captain’s List and everything in between. It was wildly fun and tremendously educational. We spoke with Bryce, Trevor and Joel from the kitchen, who shared great insights on what they look to pair and highlight in their delicious creations… which are all served Tapas-style. Annie, Staci, Mike, Kaylea, Megan, Dawn, Jodi, Karen, Kim, and Mel talked about their “Sontes Regulars.” Tessa has a great staff and they’ve followed her lead in listening to their customers and knowing what they like, don’t like, and, importantly, how to recognize a “teachable moment” to introduce them to a new offering or pairing.
Wine has been around for 8,000 years and the culture around it has constantly evolved during that time. It made an appearance at the Last Supper (Gospel of Luke 22:19) and since then has been used in the Christian rite of the Eucharist. The Greek god Dionysus used it as a sacramental entheogen to induce a mind-altering state. The Zen Buddhists used it for meditation. The Egyptian pharaohs were entombed with it.
21st century American college co-eds enjoy it too…
The past few weeks I have been tasting quite a few lovely wines. The following are notes from a few that particularly stood out among the rest!
Domaine Ramonet Chevalier Montrachet
Grand Cru: Chevalier Montrachet
Average Price: $350
Rating: 3.5 tastevins of 5
Cellaring: I recommend another 8-15 years aging (2017-24)
Winery: Vincent Girardin
Varietal: Pinor Noir
Oak: 16 months 33% new French
Average Price: $32.00
For Pierre Morey – the former (and legendary) winemaker of Domaine Leflaive, and proprietor of his own Domaine Pierre Morey in Burgundy, France – farming biodynamically (his vineyards Biodyvin certified since 1997) is a matter of stewardship: turning over vineyards from one generation to another at the peak of health and productivity.
Morey is particularly known for his white wines, with family holdings in Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet in Burgundy’s Cote de Beaune, the original home, and center of the universe, as far as any producer of Chardonnay is concerned. But if you are drawing the conclusion that these white wines espouse enormous body, power and concentration of Chardonnay character, let me gently say: it is in the expression of the terroir, rather than grape, that the wines of Domaine Morey excel. As eloquently portrayed in this film, entitled Generations In Harmony:
There are a few types of tasting opportunities any wine lover should never pass up. Burgundy is certainly at the top of the list. The relationship between burgundy wines and those who seek them out is love hate. The wines can be some of the greatest in the world and they are priced as such. Not all burgundy wines are great, in fact some are serious underperformers; Throw in a hefty price tag and you have a paradox. There is no magical answer key, burhound.com will not solve your problems and neither will I. There is some crucial advice I can pass on to you however, taste as much as you can and “always” write notes. Save your notes and re read them, study them. More than any other wines in the world burgundy needs to be studied and reviewed. Your own taste needs to be developed of course but baseline knowledge is of the utmost importance to build. In addition to tasting notes, vintage notes are important to read and put to memory. Try out a few different publications, ask some knowledgeable friends, ask me! Find credible sources but gather a general consensus of average, good, great, and not so great vintages. Knowing your basics of burgundies’ geography and vintages will save you a great deal of money and despair.