John Otterbeck, owner and founder of JAO Imports, and his wife Dominique are especially well known for the very high quality wines they bring in from boutique, family run domaines in Burgundy. While focused on Burgundy, they also venture a bit north and south to find wines of character from Champagne and the Rhône. We recently tasted new releases from these areas and were impressed with their overall quality and value. Three wines merit special attention. The Legret NV Ultra-Brut is a very fairly priced and an excellent zero dosage Champagne. The Dumazet Côte Rotie is an incredible value; it’s very difficult to find a Côte Rotie this good at this low a price. And the Sorrel Hermitage Le Greal is an exceptional wine, period. It’s not cheap, but it’s an affordable luxury for those who like very fine wine.
Domaine Jean-Pierre Legret NV Ultra-Brut Champagne ($43) 92 Packed with complex aromas and flavors, the Legret Ultra-Brut shows a toasty, autolytic nose with a brioche note that carries through to the palate with good acidity and brightness and a very long finish. A great wine for pheasant or rabbit.
Domaine Jean-Pierre Legret 2000 Brut Champagne ($53) 91+ This golden vintage Brut will please those who like the toasted hazelnut, mushroom, and yeast notes that grace a fine vintage Champagne with a bit of age on it. It’s richly flavored with a refined character and a very long, fine finish. A blend of 1/3 each Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. 4 g/L RS
Domaine Les Alexandrins 2011 Intuition Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes ($21) 90 Dark ruby red. An easy drinking 100% Gamay showing red plum and pomegranate. Soft on the attack, it’s full-fruited, well-balanced and reminiscent of a very good Beaujolais.
Domaine Marie-Paule Dumazet 2010 La Muzolaise St. Joseph ($29) 90 Opaque black ruby. This 100% Syrah is big and full, softly textured, and revealing black fruit with dark chocolate and loam earth notes. A fat wine with good intensity but not a lot of nuance. Partially destemmed and aged in 500 L casks.
Domaine Marie-Paule Dumazet 2010 Côte Rotie ($69) 91+ Ruby purple. Still young at heart, this is a solid Côte Rotie with an especially beguiling bouquet of dark fruit, red rose petals, and an earth-like note. It has a lovely, silky mouth feel with good flavor density, fine firm tannins, and very good length. A blend of 90% Syrah from 45 year old vines and 10% Viognier aged 20 months in 500 L oak barrels.
Domaine Marc Sorrel 2011 Crozes Hermitage Rouge ($35) 90+ Medium ruby red. This 100% Syrah is delicious, easy drinking, offering notes of dusty herbs and dark red plum on a pure, balanced palate, finishing with soft, round tannins. Aged 12 months in used oak barrels.
Domaine Marc Sorrel 2011 Hermitage ($86) 92+ Medium ruby red. An exotically aromatic wine revealing spice and forest floor notes that complement the rich, underlying fruit. It has an elegant, silky smooth palate and an ultra long finish. 100% Syrah aged 12 months in used oak.
Domaine Marc Sorrel 2011 Hermitage Le Greal ($161) 94 Opaque ruby red. A very rich and complex wine offering a vibrant perfume of plum, cherry, violet and a hint of anise. It’s a big, rich wine, densely flavored of fruit with notes of underbrush. A field blend of 92% Syrah and 8% Marsanne aged 12 months in used oak. Perfect for autumn cassoulet.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler