The WineSpeed Blog

DOMAINE DE LA TAILLE AUX LOUPS 2015 Montlouis “Les Hauts de Husseau”

(Montlouis sur Loire, Loire Valley, France) $30

Montlouis (and Vouvray) in France’s Loire Valley make the world’s greatest chenin blancs—wines of intensity and such crispness they almost seem crunchy. (Phenomenally fresh on a hot night). In France, such snappiness is sometimes called nervosité which translates as “nervy,” but what is really meant is a kind of kinetic energy (tasting is believing). Domaine de la Taille aux Loups (domaine of the wood where the wolves gather) is owned by Jacky Blot, one of the most extraordinary producers of bone dry chenin blanc with all of its natural acidity (no malolactic fermentation). The vines that make this stellar white are 70 years old. (12.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Hi-Time Wine Cellars

Toast the Revolution

To celebrate tomorrow’s 229th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (a turning point in the French Revolution), consider popping open the most beautiful Champagne bottle ever designed—Perrier-Jouët’s Art Nouveau-style “flower bottle.”  The bottle, decorated with enameled anemones, was first designed in 1902 by glassmaker Emile Gallé as an homage to La Belle Époque (the artistic period from the late 1800s to 1914). However, due to the difficulty making them, the bottles were soon abandoned.  In the early 1960s, Pierre Ernst, former president of Perrier-Jouët, found an enamel specialist who could manufacture the bottles en masse. The modern version of the flower bottle premiered in 1969 and held the 1964 vintage of the House’s prestige cuvee called Belle Epoque. In 2012, a hundred years after its creation, the famous flower bottle was updated by Japanese floral designer Makoto Azuma, who added golden vines and delicate dotted flowers to the classic pattern.

A. The pulverized volcanic material found in the soils of the Rutherford appellation within the Napa Valley

B. The dirt (and in summer, very dusty) roads that were built in the late 1870s in order to construct Inglenook, the palatial chateau-style winery founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum in Rutherford in the Napa Valley

C. The unique dirt-like smell and taste of the wines made in the Rutherford appellation of the Napa Valley

D. The grainy sediment found in well-aged bottles of cabernet sauvignon from the Rutherford appellation of the Napa Valley


Some mystery still surrounds the term “Rutherford Dust” and its creator. That said, in his book “Private Reserve” about the history of Rutherford’s iconic Beaulieu Vineyards, the late writer Rod Smith recounts the first time André Tchelistcheff tasted the 1936 Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon (which later became the first vintage of the winery’s Georges de Latour Private Reserve bottling).  He writes, “The most intriguing thing about the wine was a whiff of clean dirt with a high-toned note something like pencil shavings.  André recognized it as the expression of a distinctive terroir—the very fragrance of Rutherford. To describe it, he would later coin the term ‘Rutherford dust’.” Tchelistcheff, considered by many to be the “father of California winemaking,” was Beaulieu’s chief winemaker and vice president from 1938 to 1973. Rob Davis, winemaker at Jordan winery, and a mentee of Tchelistcheff’s adds, “If there is one thing that André repeated over and over again was the importance of terroir.  He spent a lot of time tasting grapes in Beaulieu’s vineyards and felt that the blocks in Rutherford had a special taste, smell and structure.” My thanks also to Joel Aiken (Beaulieu’s winemaker from 1985 to 2009, and another Tchelistcheff mentee) for help with this research.

“It seems almost a moral obligation [in the Napa Valley] to make wines with a life, because you can’t do that everywhere. It’s a gift.”

―Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, as quoted in Wine Revolution by Jane Anson

―Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, as quoted in Wine Revolution by Jane Anson


A type of restaurant in Lyon, France, known for serving traditional Lyonnaise dishes, which are often rich and hearty. The goal of a bouchon is not haute cuisine but a friendly and personal atmosphere. There are about 20 certified bouchons in Lyon, although many more proclaim themselves to be. A bouchon also refers to a stopper for a wine bottle, most often a sparkling wine or Champagne, as it prevents the bubbles from escaping.

Flute Flaunt

Well isn’t this brilliant. Just when flutes increasingly find themselves the object of Champagne-lovers’ dismay (even disdain), it’s beer to the rescue. The German Beer company Beck’s has just released beer in a can shaped like a flute. It’s not that far-fetched really. Historically, many traditional beer glasses were shaped like Champagne flutes, and both beverages derive some of their pleasure from bubbles. Curiously, one of the reasons the flute is in disfavor for Champagne is that it isn’t ideal for appreciating the wine’s aroma. (Because you can’t easily swirl the wine in a flute, volatile aromatic compounds aren’t easily released and the wine is rendered less “smellable.”) Leading us to wonder: are beer lovers less aromatically inclined?


Weight (in ounces) of a standard Champagne bottle, down from 31.7 ounces before 2010. The change was part of the Champagne region’s sweeping plan to lower its carbon footprint. Champagne’s lighter bottles have had an impact on emissions said to equal 8,000 fewer cars on the road for each of the last 8 years.


Number of sheep found on the Faroe Islands, an archipelago north of Scotland, according to The New Yorker. Sheep outnumber humans by a staggering 20,000! In fact, there are so many sheep on the islands that in the spring, wool often must be burned for lack of a better use. (And no, we’re not pulling the wool over your eyes on this).


Number (in millions) of 14-sided cells that make up a cork’s structural composition. Cork is four times lighter than water, can withstand 14k pounds of pressure per cubic inch, is impervious to air, is almost impermeable by water, is difficult to burn, and is resistant to temperature changes and vibration. No wonder it’s been the main bottle stopper for centuries.

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