A Changing Landscape: Old Terroir, New Traditions

Astor President Andy Fisher discusses French winemaking and the changes he has witnessed during his time in the business, as well as the efforts of young winemakers to produce tempered, expressive wines from some of France’s lesser-known regions.

For more from Andy, check out his upcoming wine classes at Astor Center.


Be sure to check out his class French Wine: Discoveries from the Astor Cellar on Monday, April 21st. Here’s a sneak preview of the lineup:

Riesling Grand Cru “Frankstein,” Manbach – 2011
An Alsatian Grand Cru vineyard Riesling with meat on its bones. A pretty nose, sapid with peach blossom, gives way to an unctuous palate. This is a dry white wine, complex in its texture and balanced with a granite minerality. The sumptuous quality of this regal wine is due to the warm vintage, perfect for all who look for open Rieslings from this friendly region.

Chardonnet & Fils, “Réserve” Brut – NV
This fine-tuned Champagne makes a grand entrance. A 70/30 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this wine aged on its lees six to seven years. Persistent bubbles carry intense notes of pastry, white pears, and delicate berries. A savory palate of sand, herbs, and flowers is supported by chalk-driven acidity and biscuity undertones. Serve at your next grand gala or family celebration! It is a fine choice for both hors d’oeuvres and first courses, especially with poultry, herbs, and cream.

Chablis, Gilbert Picq – 2012
With yields kept very low, this village-level Chablis has the breeding of a Premier Cru. It is always flinty and minerally, with notes of green apple and grapefruit. This is classic Chablis at its best.

Vouvray Tradition “Trois Argiles,” Pinon – 2011
François Pinon recently renamed his Cuvée Traditon, “Trois Argiles” to highlight the soil composition in his vineyards. It is a very light vin tendre, with sweetness levels between a sec and demi-sec. It has a delicate attack that gives over to a pleasant citrus finish with resonance and length. Flavors reminiscent of apples and quince with a slightly spicy accent dominate. This is a wine that will continue to develop with age, but is affable and charming now.

St. Aubin Rouge 1er Cru “Rouges Gorges,”Prudhon – 2009
Henri Prudhon makes stellar Burgundy, be it from Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. The “Rouges Gorges” Pinot Noir is a more restrained expression of the grape, with fresh, delicate raspberry and violet fruit. Always look to small village wines for value in Burgundy.

Ch. Falfas, Côtes de Bourg – 2009
Great buys abound in the revitalized Bourg hills, where the traditional blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon reigns. Full of dark fruits, structured tannins, and minerals, this is excellent with hard, aged cheeses. It could easily stand some bottle age.

Beaumes-de-Venise Rouge, Ch. Redortier – 2009
A full-bodied red wine based on Grenache then Syrah. This comes from an old estate with vines at the highest part of the Beaume-de-Venise appellation. The temperature is cooler at high elevations, adding vibrant freshness and elegance on the palate.

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