Morrell Wine Bar

Archives: June 2014

Biodynamic Farming in Corton-Charlemagne, Burgundy

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Domaine Bonneau du Martray is one of the stars of the Cote de Beaune—both for remarkable size of the family’s holding and the consistently high quality of the wines. Today led by Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière, the domain has over 20 acres of Chardonnay vines in Corton-Charlemagne, all in a single piece and 3.5 acres in Corton.

It was a treat therefore, for us that Jean-Charles stopped by Morrell Wine Merchants to showcase his great white wine, Corton-Charlemagne. Completely charming, Jean-Charles communicates a boyish enthusiasm for the detail of wine making and the mysteries of the soil and grapes. He explained the domain’s gradual move into biodynamic cultivation, which he believes has resulted in superior wines.

One example: vastly reducing herbicides and pesticides in the vineyards has allowed the ground between the vines to become more porous and better able to absorb rain, halting the chronic erosion that had been washing away much of the top soil.

Among other benefits, Jean-Charles is sure that some of native weeds that have returned between the vine rows have anti-mildew properties that protect the vines. “There’s no question that the vineyard is healthier,” he said. “And the wines are better, more consistent as a result.”

The results, he feels, can be seen in the consistency and high-quality of the wines, especially in challenging vintages, such as 2011, which was hit with bouts of hail and rain throughout the growing season. Ever the experimenter, he’s willing to try just about anything to keep the vineyard’s grapes healthy. As he told Allen Meadows in Burghound, when rain drenched the vineyard in 2011 close to the picking, he leased a helicopter to fly low in the vineyards to dry out the fruit before it was picked: “And this worked very well.”

Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Moriniere speaks about Corton-Charlemagne

The Summer of Rosé

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The season of summer may as well be called the season of rosé. The color and light refreshing taste of the wine has come to be synonymous with the perfect summer wine, and it’s food-friendly versatility makes it ideal any summer occasion. (Hint, hint: Fourth of July!) If you haven’t been by the wine bar for a glass on the patio, now is the time check out our great by the glass selection…and a few we feel extra passionate about.

It would be almost impossible to make a list of great rosés without mentioning the region of Provence. Chateau d’Esclans Cotes de Provence France 2012 and Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle Cotes de Provence France 2012 are two of our favorites stemming from the famous region. Chateau d’Esclans offers a pure, unadorned style with white peach, warm paving stone, and cherry pit that glide along to an elegant finish, while Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle offers a fresh and full-bodied rosé with golden highlights and notes of peach, lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla. These wines evoke the essence of the region, giving us two rosés that feel simply iconic.

From France’s Loire Valley, the Gerald Boulay Sancerre Loire is another rosé we find remarkably delightful. It’s made of 100 percent of 25-to-40-year-old Pinot Noir vines with the unique “terre blanche” soil. The rosé is an elegant wine with fine fruit, saline minerality, and a sustained finish.

With an increase in rosé popularity, production of the wine has spread from its original origins. Two of our favorites come from the United States are the Isabel Mondavi Napa Valley 2013 and Wolffer Estate “Summer in a Bottle” 2013. Mondavi offers a rosé with captivating aromas of strawberry, cranberry, and red apple, which fill the glass with the perfect amount of acidity to complement the juicy finish. The light wine makes enjoying a glass almost too easy. Wolffer Estates’ “ Summer in a Bottle” 2013, from the North Fork of Long Island, puts into words the common coupling between the season and the wine; the rosé is rich and lush, with bright notes of sun-drenched fruit, including strawberry, lychee, cantaloupe, white peach, and rhubarb pie.

Each of these wine exhibits individuality due to production and place, and what better time than summer to explore the wonderful world of Rosé.

Here is a full list of the roses by the glass available at Morrell Wine Bar:

Château d’Oupia Minervois, France 2012 $12
Château de Manissy Cuvée des Lys Tavel, France 2012 $13
Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine Vissoux Les Griottes Beaujolais, France 2012 $13
Rose de Chevalier Bordeaux, France 2013 $13
Bastide Blanche Bandol, France 2013 $14
Triennes Provence, France 2013 $14
Isabel Mondavi Napa Valley, California 2013 $15
Wolffer Estate “Summer In a Bottle” North Fork of Long Island, New York 2013 $15
Copain Tous Ensemble Anderson County, California 2013 $16
Cune Rosado Rioja, Spain 2013 $16
Miraval Côtes de Provence, France 2013 $18
Vie Vite Côtes de Provence, France 2013 $19
Chateau d’Esclans Côtes de Provence, France 2012 $20
Gerard Boulay Sancerre Loire, France 2013 $21
Domaine Ott Château de Selle Côtes de Provence, France 2012 $25

Special Tasting of Champagne Charles Heidsieck

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Last week, we hosted a special tasting of five wines from Champagne Charles Heidsieck, guided by Chef de Caves Thierry Roset. I tasted with him in Reims earlier this year in February—Roset possesses a wealth of knowledge and information on Champagne, and our guests were riveted as he led them through his wines.

First up was the Brut Reserve, with its lovely brioche nose and dried fruit notes. One of my favorite rosés was next, the Rosé Reserve, with its aromas of warm fresh strawberry jam leaping from the glass, along with sweet cinnamon notes. The Brut Milleseme 2000 is redolent with floral and spice notes leading to red berry fruits on the palate, and was quite lovely.

It is always a pleasure to try the Blanc de Millenaires 1995—100-percent Chardonnay—which has hints of both fresh and dried fig, hazelnuts, and a lingering finish. Tonight it tasted very special, especially in the context of other wines from the House.

The grand finale for the evening was Champagne Charlie 1982, poured from magnum. The wine has transformed to one of golden hues and complex dried fruit flavors, with a lovely notes of French pastries, nuts, and sweet spice, with many layers. There’s great length on the palate, with plenty of energy left thanks to its mineral profile and acidity. Old, well-cellared Champagne is an extraordinary pleasure that I hope everyone gets to try at least once.

During my visit to the Charles Heidsieck crayères in February, I selected a bottle of the 1979 from their oenotheque, which I enjoyed over lunch with Thierry and my other hosts. Champagne Charlie 1979 and 1982, along with the 1981, are available on special order from Morrell, if you want to try it for yourself!

-Mark Smith, General Manager, Morrell & Company Wine & Spirits Merchants

Morrell Wine Auction Highlights

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On June 11th, Morrell Fine Wine Auctions hosted a live sales of 200 lots from a single cellar, including standouts 2005 Petrus, 2005 Le Pin, 1982 La Mission Haut-Brion, 2005 Haut-Brion Blanc, 2003 Ausone. The auction, led by Master of Wine David Molyneux-Berry, took place at Morrell Wine Merchants alongside glasses of Morrell-exclusive Gosset-Brabant Champagne, with a Grand Post-Auction wine dinner at Morrell Wine Bar.

Check out some of our favorite moments!

Roberta Morrell at the Morrell Fine Wine Auctions Grand Post-Auction Dinner

Auctioneer and Master of Wine David Molyneux-Berry kicking off the auction

Gosset-Brabant Champagne for the auction guests

Morrell Fine Wine Auction bidders

Morrell Wine Auctions Grand Post-Auction Wine dinner wines

Guests at the Grand Post-Auction Wine dinner at Morrell Wine Bar

Morrell Fine Wine Auctions Grand Post-Auction Wine dinner at Morrell Wine Bar

Wines for the Grand Post-Auction Dinner at Morrell Wine Bar

Sud de France Tasting Today

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Today, Morrell Wine Merchants is proud to host a tasting in collaboration with the Sud de France Festival, a celebration of southern France’s culinary and arts culture. We’re tasting three wines that most accurately represent the region: Jean-Louis Tribouley Orchis 2010, Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem 2012, and L’Oustal Blanc Minervois Giocoso 2009. All three reds have earned scores of 91 or higher from multiple wine publications, and give guests a taste of the superior quality the region offers. We’re proud to join Sud de France festivities—what better way to enjoy authentic French culture without leaving Manhattan?

In case you didn’t know, the Sud de France Featival runs for three weeks, offering cultural events from dinners and wine tastings to concerts and boat tours—all inspired by the incomparable allure of southern France. The wine of the Languedoc-Rousillon region can be traced back to vineyards of the fifth century B.C., and the unique land and climate produce a wine different from any other area of France. Definitely worth a try.

The tasting will be held at Morrell Wine Merchants, One Rockefeller Center, from 4pm to 7pm, on June 12th.

Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 1999 Now By The Glass

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With the weather getting hotter, our June prestige Champagne by the glass feature is making our transition into summer as smooth and delightful as possible: Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 1999. And the story behind these bubbles is as compelling as the unbeatable quality.

Bruno Paillard’s family involvement in Champagne production traces back to 1704, so his interest in the industry was not unforeseen. What made Paillard a pioneer, though, was the creation of a new brand (in 1981), which the region hadn’t seen in nearly a century. When asked why he pursued the risky endeavor, Bruno Paillard explained, “I had a dream. A dream of creating a Champagne of a very specific kind. Of a purity and minerality that did not exist on the market because everyone was trying to follow the style of the market leader.”

Also unique in the market, Paillard provides the date of disgorgement on every bottle to disprove the belief that Champagne cannot age. It also allows the consumer to explore the complexity and mystery of post-disgorgement aging.

Wine Spectator honored the Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 1999 with 93-points, and the house’s particular style combines purity, elegance, and complexity while maintaining the lightness essential to Paillard. The Champagne’s success has grown exponentially since its unpredictable beginnings just more than 30 years ago, but never at the cost of his original mission of quality and precision. Reading reviews of the classic vintage evokes the sensation of enjoying a glass, but words hardly describe the individual personality of this boutique wine.

Bruno Paillard N.P.U. 1999 will be available at Morrell Wine Bar & Café for the month of June.

A Lineup of Large Format, Vintage Barolos

Vintage Barolos
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Just before Memorial Day, we celebrated the redesign of Morrell Wine Bar with an open house for close friends and family. From rare, old Barolos to our standby Gosset-Brabant Champagne, guests tasted a some of our favorite current vintages and a selection from the expanded cellar, known as the Rare Wine Vault, in both the retail store and the wine bar spaces.

Morrell Fine Wine Merchants’ general manager Mark D. Smith offers a few notes on the large-format, vintage Barolos he decanted and poured as guests perused the brand-new, all-glass Rare Wine Vault in the newly redesigned retail store: 1961, 1970, 1971, and 1976.

First up was the Fontanafredda Barolo 1961, which “sadly, wasn’t up to snuff,” he says. “It was past its best, with very muted flavors, oxidized notes, and a complete lack of acidity.” Luckily, it was pulled from the lineup early on in the evening, so that guest could focus on the more vibrant Barolos, all of which showed quite well.

With classic notes of dried roses and dried cherries, the Borgogno 1970 fared well, with a hint of baked biscotti and fennel seed. The following, the Denigri Lorenzo 1971, was one of Smith’s favorites of the night. Smith explained it was in a much better place considering its age, featuring “dried cherry notes and some licorice, with a nice softness on the palate.”

The overwhelming favorite, by Smith and guests alike, was the Marchesi di Barolo 1976. “[It] had a lovely purity, being very clear,” Smith explained of this bottling. “The other wines, as lovely as they were, had a slight cloudiness.”

And while the 1976 displayed the character of a mature Barolo, it maintained its acidity. “Its acidity gave it a good liveliness and nicely balanced the wine against the mature aromas and flavors of dried fruits, flowers and tar.”