The Powerful “Super-Rhônes” of Chêne Bleu

I had the good fortune of meeting and having lunch with Nicole Rolet of Chêne Bleu (“Blue Oak” in French) on her recent trip to New York. I didn’t know much about the wines before we met, but I was immediately taken away by her story. She and her husband had renovated La Verrière, a Medieval property in Provence, high in the mountains above the Gigondas region in the Southern Rhône.

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Txakolí: Summer’s Coolest Wine

Even though I was born and raised in Atlanta, I’ve never tolerated hot weather very well. I kept my childhood room as cold as a meat locker, and now as an adult, I seek out more grown-up ways to stay cool. Nothing snaps me out of my heat-induced stupor like a cold, zippy wine late in the haze of the day. This summer, my perfect refreshing wine has been Txakolí, the effervescent, bone-dry Basque white that makes an ideal toast to the last days of the season.

I discovered Txakolí (pronounced cha-co-lee) a few years ago during a meal at Mercat, a Barcelona-inspired Spanish restaurant in downtown New York City, where the bartender suggested I try it when I asked for something crisp and dry. To enhance its natural effervescence (it’s not quite as bubbly as Champagne, but there’s definitely fizz in there), the wine is traditionally poured with one hand holding the bottle far above your head, and the other hand holding the glass far below. A T-shaped spout helps aerate the wine even more, and brings the bubbles to life. Sitting at the bar at Mercat, I was amazed while watching my bartender pour, impressed that she let not a single drop fall to the floor. Continue reading