Welcoming Special Guest Jennie Mass
Martine’s Wines: “Martine was born in Paris. Although she lived and attended school there, she spent every summer vacation at her aunt’s home in Prissé, near Mâcon. Her aunt owned a winery with approximately 10 acres of vineyards planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The winemaker lived in the farm next door with his wife and children. The pinnacle of the summer vacation was the harvest time. By the age of 10, Martine was fascinated with the preparation of the cellar, the wine press, the fermenting vats and, of course, being part of the harvesting team.
When Martine moved to the United States in 1964, she started to look for some local California wines. In 1965, she drove to Beaulieu Vineyards, knocked on the door and was lucky enough to meet the great André Tchelistcheff. He told her in his good French that if she wanted good Pinot Noir, she had to go to Burgundy to get it! The seed was planted in her mind.
A few years later, Martine was offered the job of selecting wines for an importer/distributor in San Francisco. Still dismayed by the absence of many of her favorite wines, she started making buying trips to France. In the spring of 1969, she flew to Burgundy, bought a small VW bug, and started her tour and career. At first, she kept close to familiar sources, namely Beaujolais, Mâcon and Pouilly-Fuissé, but eventually she ventured into the Côtes-du-Rhône on the lookout for some Châteauneuf-du-Pape… In 1979, Martine incorporated her business and made it official: Martine’s Wines was born!
In December 2012 — 33 years after founding her company — she passed the torch to a new generation of owners. “I wanted to leave my legacy to someone who would take care of it. I thought, ‘It has to be a Frenchman,’” Martine says. During a meal at her home, she and Gregory Castells, a Provence native and renowned wine expert, realized they were a perfect fit. They struck a deal, and today, Gregory leads the company, with Martine remaining on board to ensure the valued relationships she forged over so many years endure through the transition and beyond.”
Jennie on Martine’s Wines: “History, culture, and travel have always been important to me. My first trip abroad was to France and there has been no looking back since. Martine’s Wines is about our growers and their stories, and the adventures of meeting people from all over. I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be.”
“Berthet-Bondet is tucked away in the foothills of the Alps near the Swiss border. Just 50 miles from Burgundy, Jura is quirky, charming and serene, with wines to match. Long obscure, the region has become very popular in recent years. It is also the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, and the area is known for its intentionally oxidized wines. Their Château-Chalon, for example, slowly and gently oxidizes in oak barrels for more than six years. The resulting wines taste nutty, of marzipan and cooked apple, yet are fresh and vibrant. They also produce traditional wines, including a beautiful crémant, Chardonnay and Ruby, a lovely red.”
“The wine growing area of the Jura represents only 1% of the production of fine wines in France. It is though, the jewel of Jurassian agriculture, and the range of red and white AOC wines, including the main specialities of the region the Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille (straw wine) are real gems.”
Berthet-Bondet Cotes du Jura Chardonnay 2012
Jura, France. Organic. “Made from chardonnay grapes alone, this wine is obtained after one year of barrel aging. This wine expresses itself with finesse and minerality, slightly woody touch giving it additional complexity. It may be kept for 5 years and tasted fresh (12 °) with fish and white meats.”
“Domaine Laporte is the result of a perfect blending of two renowned Sancerre families. Founded in 1850 in the village of Saint-Satur, Domaine Laporte was run until 1986 by René Laporte. A visionary chair of the Sancerre appellation for 20 years, René was a pioneer in producing low-yield, high-quality Sancerre during a time of overproduction. Laporte is a certified organic producer and the wine here is made in a very traditional, natural way, employing organic methods and always ensuring a sense of purity and excellence. In addition to Sancerre, Laporte produces beautiful Pouilly-Fume, Quincy and Chateaumeillant.”
“The terroir is the impression of a wine. “Le Rochoy”, from a hill of very singular sharp flint stones, offers a wide array of flavours. Delicately and exclusively mineral, it signs the beauty of this wine. “When finesse and elegance mean virility.””
Domaine Laporte Sancerre ‘Le Rochoy’ 2012
Loire Valley, France. “The colour is pale yellow with a silvery glint. The wine is crystal and clear. The nose shows beautiful white flowers and yellow fruit, ripe with a touch of angelic (small candied fruit). The mouth has a very expressive and balanced freshness. The flinty minerality springs with a light smoky taste in the mouth. “Le Rochoy” beautifully extends its aromas with amazing generosity.”
Gilles-Robin: “With a family history of winegrowing spanning four generations, Gilles Robin started in the wine business the way many in the Rhône do: His family sold grapes to the local cooperative. Nestled against the hillsides of Hermitage and St. Joseph in the appellation of Crozes–Hermitage, the estate was first planted in the late 1940s by Gilles’ grandparents, and it is this fruit that makes up his Cuvée Alberic Bouvet, named for his grandfather. This cuvée is aged in oak barrels, of which 20% are new. The Cuvée Papillon is the product of vines Gilles planted in 1996; it is aged entirely in tank to preserve its fresh and delicate fruit.”
“Papillon is a concentrate of young Syrah grapes. This bottle is an approach of the feminine and spicy style of the Cuvée Albéric Bouvet. In fact, this Syrah comes from approximately 10 years’ old vines which will, in the future, elaborate the blending of the Cuvée Albéric Bouvet whose elegance and finesse is solely based on old vines. Papillon is a wine whose fruit is pure and crunchy. To elaborate this cuvee each year, a role of composition is required as the estate selects the best plots to get a young fruity wine, decides how long it should age in barrels and creates the ideal blending of various terroirs.”
Gilles-Robin Crozes-Hermitage ‘Cuvee Papillon’ 2012
Rhone Valley, France. “Deep and ruby colour, with a frank and charming nose. Small black fruits, cherry and sweet spices build a nice harmony. On the palate, this wine is round and firm, then develops a beautiful clear and precise structure made of ripe fruits. This refreshing wine is vibrant, enhanced by white pepper and liquorice notes. Tannins, still young, are silky and will develop over the next 2-3 years. Fruity and delicate, this wine finishes with slightly oaky notes showing its young age.”
“Féraud-Brunel began in 1998 with a partnership between two celebrated winemakers: Laurence Féraud of Domaine du Pégau and André Brunel of Domaine Les Cailloux. At their own estates, they make highly regarded Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Through the Féraud-Brunel label, they source old-vine Grenache from the best growers in the Côtes-du-Rhône, turning them into some of the best-value wines in the region.
Laurence and André work as diligently for the Féraud-Brunel label as they do for their own estates. After harvest, Féraud-Brunel wines are fermented and aged at André’s cellar in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and bottled without fining or filtration.”
Robert Parker writes: “As I have written many times in the past, Domaine du Pegau is well-known as one of the reference points for traditionally styled wines. One only has to spend a half hour or so talking with father Paul Feraud, or his ambitious and brilliant daughter, Laurence, to understand that they will not make any compromises, nor change their winemaking or upbringing styles to suit the whims of the fickle consumer. Paul, who is in incredible physical condition for his age (he still rides a motorcycle), was a schoolmate of Henri Bonneau. However, his parents were so poor that he was forced to drop out of school at age 14 to work in order to help the family. For that reason, he has always believed that debt is the greatest danger to the success of a small domaine. He is one of those rare individuals who basically pays cash for everything. I doubt that this philosophy has changed much since his daughter, Laurence, took control of the estate. She has added two negociant lines, the Selection Laurence Feraud and the Feraud-Brunel wines, but even with the introduction of several new cuvees (Cuvee da Capo since 1998 and the non-vintage Plan Pegau), this estate continues to go from strength to strength.”
Feraud-Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages 2012
Rhone Valley, France. “The old-vine Grenache (75 percent) provides red fruit aromas, juiciness and charm, while Syrah (25 percent) offers earthy, dark fruit flavors as well as notes of white and black pepper. The sweet nose of black raspberry and black plum is intermixed with hints of white pepper, licorice and dried citrus rind. The palate, loaded with the juicy fresh fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry and warm plum, is highlighted by incense-like spices, lingering citrus notes and distant whiffs of game and smoke. It is bright and exuberant, with genuine Rhône character.”
Feraud-Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape 2011
Rhone Valley, France. “The most aromatic and intense of the lineup, the Féraud-Brunel Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a beauty. Loaded with sweet red and black fruits, tobacco, saddle leather, and peppered steak like qualities, it flows onto the palate with a medium to full-bodied, lively, yet structured feel. Quite traditional, with chewy tannin and a spine of acidity that shines on the finish.” 91 Wine Spectator– “Mellow, with a subtle cinnamon, black tea and singed cedar frame that mingles with the core of lightly steeped currant and plum fruit. Perfumy, revealing an incense note that weaves through the finish. Drink now through 2017. 120 cases imported.”
“Trénel’s Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne “Maison de Lamartine” has been named in honor of the famous 19th century poet, diplomat and historian, Alphonse de Lamartine. His ‘maison d’enfance’ (family home) is featured on the label. Burgundy is the cassis (black currant) capital of the world (its most renowned crop after grapes) and Trénel Fils (of Beaujolais fame) is one of the finest producers of this amazing, sweet, dense liqueur. Founded in 1928 by Claude-Henri Trénel, later joined by his son André, the estate is now run by Hervé de Boissieu who is assisted by Bruno Chambe, nephew of André Trénel. The cassis (black currant) fruit for the Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne liqueur comes from the limestone-rich soil of Burgundy, which produces both grapes and black currants with intense flavor. With a crème there’s no disguising the quality of the fruit.”
Maison de Lamartine Cassis de Bourgogne NV 500ml
Burgundy, France. 100% Black Currant. “Maison de Lamartine’s Crème de Cassis de Bourgogne is a grape-based liqueur from the village of Charnay-les-Macon in the Burgundy region of France.” “What goes in almost completely determines the final taste as the fruit doesn’t ferment — it’s simply crushed a bit, and put into neutral spirits to macerate for 1-6 months before straining, pressing and filtering. Sugar is then added to produce a liqueur ready for bottling. To keep up their reputation, reputable Burgundian makers, like Trénel, concentrate their efforts on improving the quality of the fruit. Crème de cassis is traditionally used for kir or kir royale white and sparkling wine apéritifs. The rich and wonderfully fruity cassis of Trénel is also perfect over vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet.”