Wednesday, August 20, 2014


GEEKING OUT to truly great wine by Amy Dixon CSW

One of the MANY things I LOVE about wine is its ability to challenge me on an intellectual level.  The wines I remember most over my 20 year career are the ones that give me great pause, and I take about 15 minutes before ever even bringing the glass to my eager lips.  Wines where every wonderful waft produces another stimulating scent.  Layer upon layer of spices, fruits and earth that keep challenging my mental ‘scent wheel’ to identify WHAT it is that I’m about to consume.  Having tasted thousands and thousands of wines allows me to have great fun in identifying wines in my mind’s Rolodex to see which wine I’ve historically tasted that reminds me of the one currently in my glass.  I like to call it, “Wine Detective Work”, which on many levels, it truly is. 
Honestly, when I did my homework before an impending supplier appointment to taste this property, I was biased.  I thought to myself, ok, here’s yet another example of an over-priced wine from some obscure region that a famous winemaker (Domaine Leflaive) is doing ‘for fun’ as a sort of artistic experiment;  relegated only to those wineries that have great fortunes and wads of income to indulge their every whim to grow wine in odd places with bizarre grape varieties.  I was happily mistaken.  God bless Leflaive for taking a ‘flyer’ and producing the three wines I had yesterday.  They are game-changers. 
The cool thing about Clau de Nell, Domaine Leflaive’s new Biodynamically farmed property in the Loire Valley, is that EACH WINE is SO different from one another.  Of the three wines I tasted, they each presented a unique education in the glass.  An experience unlike most others.  I got giddy, and eagerly held my glass out for the next wine, and the next.  I am SO excited to share with you my geeky side.  The side I only get to share with fellow retailers and sommeliers.  But I adore you all so much, these wines are too cool NOT to share, so here you go.  I took 3 of each for myself.  You should too.

Just to give you a ‘taste’ of the quality in each and every glass, the wines are from 30-90 year old vines in Anjou, and  the yields in these vineyards are LESS than 2.2 tons per acre (GRAND CRU Burgundy level yields), meaning they DROP a lot of fruit on the ground to keep the quality at its absolutely utmost.  ONLY 18 BOTTLES EXIST IN CT and I HAVE THEM! Oh yeah, only 250 cases made- SUPER TINY. 

Clau de Nell Cabernet Franc 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
Depth rarely found outside Bordeaux from one of my favorite all-time grape varieties.  Chewy, structured, and Very, very focused with freshness that keeps it from bogging down on your palate in any way.  It persists without being rounded in any way.  This is a study in angles of wine.  Overwhelms the nose with cola and cherry (Dr. Pepper?)   Hard to believe that Cabernet Franc can have this much stature and structure, but then I start thinking about Margaux and Graves, and I realize that yes, this is how good Cabernet Franc really is supposed to taste.  Drinks like a $200 bottle of great classified Growth Bordeaux. 
Clau de Nell Grolleau Noir 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
This grape varietal is traditionally used to produce Rose d’Anjou.  Here, it BLEW MY MIND.  125 delectable cases are made of this insanely good wine.  The nose takes precious time to come around (remember this is geeky stuff, so patience is required).  It AMPLY rewards you by starting off from tar and super- WEIRD petroleum power, then moves into grilled steak au Poivre.  It just kept changing, and I loved every second of the journey this wine took me on.  I literally couldn’t figure out WHERE this wine was taking me, but I sat back and totally geeked out over it for an entire hour.  You should too. 
Clau de Nell Grolleau Noir 2011 MAGNUMS (1.5 Liter)- $110 (3 available)- YAY YAY!  Lucky me!

Clau de Nell Violette (Cab Franc/ Cab Sauv) 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
Hello baby!  The most powerful of the bunch.  Less than 2 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grows on this estate, and the yields are TINY.  Almost HALF of the yields from Bordeaux’s Pessac Leognan region.  What does this tell me?  This could be the next GREAT region for high quality Cabernet, albeit very, very small in production.  Alas… This has the deftness and agility that is Loire valley Cabernet Franc, with the powerful structure and mouth-coating tannins of great Cabernet Sauvignon.  Yet, NOTHING is clumsy or heavy about this wine.  I really, really makes me happy and hopeful for more of this wine in the future.  Although I believe it’s just a fun labor of love for the Leflaive family, so I doubt we will ever see production in the thousands of cases.  So I will grab it right now.  This is a wine to watch!

Call Nicholas Roberts Wines for these wines- 203-656-9463- we ship almost anywhere and free CT Delivery.  

Amy Dixon CSW