Recently I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Robert Kacher Marquee Tour, featuring four premier French growers with offerings from both the Rhône Valley and Burgundy. The winemakers themselves have been traveling around the States for a week, offering tastings of the various wines they produce in their respective vineyards. This was a rare opportunity to gain some first hand knowledge of the terriors and vines, the fermentation process, and how best to enjoy the final product. Though all of the wines I tried were delicious, I’ve highlighted some of my favorites from the tasting.
Domaine de Fondréche (Rhône Valley)
The tasting took place in Boulder’s Kitchen upstairs on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. I started the day off fittingly with one of the lighter wines, the Domaine de Fondréche 2013 Rosé ($21.99) a reasonably priced rose grown on the picturesque foothills of Mount Ventoux in the village of Mazan in the Rhône Valley. The friendly winemaker Sébastien Vincenti is actually a protégé of André Brunel, and though young, he is very talented and ambitious. The shortly fermented Rosé was much drier than typical, but aromatic and crisp, allowing for a very refreshing, easy drinking wine. This wine would be fabulous poolside, or delicious in a summery wine cocktail.
My personal favorite from Domaine de Fondréche was undoubtedly the 2012 Persia ($39.99). Vicenti told me would make a great wine for aging as the tannins will continue to soften, although I found the wine to be really drinkable now— rich and full bodied with a nice balance of red berries and coffee flavor that I would pair with roast lamb. As an added bonus, all of the wines Vicenti produces are certified organic.
Domaine André Brunel (Rhône Valley)
Fabrice Brunel was here representing the wines him and his father make at Domaine André Brunel, also located in the Rhône Valley. The standout for me was the 2010 Sommelongue Cotes Du Rhône Rouge (19.99), made with all estate fruit. This wine had delicious hints of strawberry and licorice, and with 85% Grenache there is a bit of pepper as well. This solid wine is also reasonably priced, making it a great option. If you’re looking for a bit of a splurge or you are interested in aging your wine, the 2007 Châteauneuf Du Pape Centenaire (199.99) makes a fabulous option. The vines for this one are 125 years old, yielding a smooth, silky wine with plenty of fruit and less acidity than most from this southern Rhône appellation.
Domaine Lécheneaut (Burgundy)
Moving out of the Rhône Valley and into Burgundy, Domaine Lécheneaut had some excellent young wines for us to try. Philippe Lécheneaut (who farms with his brother Vincent) was here with maps at the ready to really guide us to the exact location of his farms 22 hectares. Since the vineyards stretch into multiple appellations, he made it a point to show us where exactly each wine was grown and talk about the differing terroirs. The Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Pruliers (199.99) had a bold masculine elegance, with plenty of minerality that comes through due to the limestone and clay, the old vines on the top slope of this appellation where the Léchenault brothers farm. Also delicious was the very different 2011 Morey-Saint-Denis (19.99), which was light bodied, with minerality framing the red fruit and blackberry flavors.
Domaine Xavier-Monnot (Burgundy)
Last but not least, we have Domaine Xavier-Monnot, who hails from a winemaking heritage dating back to 1723. He makes wines that truly define the Côte de Beaune region, like the Beaune Premier Toussaints (71.99), with juicy black cherry and an earthy finish that continues to linger. This intense and powerful wine would pair well with game and heartier beef dishes. For a steal, try the 2012 Bourgogne Blanc (34.99), made with all chardonnay grapes, it’s perfumey, with a very light oakiness and great creaminess. This would be a slam-dunk with a light shellfish dish.
Overall, Robert Kacher continues to curate fantastic wines by forging strong relationships directly with the winemakers themselves. His hands on approach has made sure that anything in his collection is high quality and authentic. Bringing the growers to tour the states and talk about their wines is a great way for them to communicate their passion and dedication to their work.