We love the name of Heidi and Jeremy Holmes's cellar to glass wine retailing business, d'Or to Door. They specialise in the wines of Burgundy, which they import and sell directly to wine lovers without any middlemen taking an extra cut. It's a dead clever monicker paying both respect to the land of the greatest pinot noir and chardonnay wines on earth – Burgundy's Côte d'Or – and at the same time conveying exactly the service that the business provides.So thought Heidi Holmes when she experienced the inspired branding lightbulb moment, but she concedes: "…it is tricky to spell over the phone, with our website spelling being www.dortodoor.com. First 'dor' ONE 'o'! Many people have been known to call it Dior to Door." Which is not an entirely inappropriate malapropism as it happens.
In addition to bringing fine burgundy to Australia the Holmeses ship wines from other regions of France. One of the producers they represent is Albert Seltz of Alsace which they were put onto by Margaret Lehmann while cataloguing the Lehmann family cellar. When we caught up recently to talk and taste Jeremy told me: "She [Margaret] said she had a good friend in Alsace called Pierre Seltz. So he contacted us and introduced us to Albert, his son. He came to visit us to where we staying in Meursault with some wines and that was that."
The wines of Seltz are almost all superb, the '14 Riesling Réserve ($25) and '14 Gewürztraminer Réserve Personelle ($39) especially, both being perfectly understated yet still rich-fruited examples of their respective cultivars. d'Or to Door ships older Seltz vintages too and a '97 Vieilles Vignes Sylvaner (poured blind) blew me and several others away with its freshness, vitality, and complexity. Most thought the wine to be barely a decade old, not almost turning 20! According to Jeremy Holmes, Albert Seltz almost single-handedly fought for 20 years for sylvaner's right to be labelled as grand cru, which he finally achieved for the 2005 vintage. And speaking of labelling, don't be put off by Seltz's somewhat lurid packaging. As Holmes joked: "You wouldn't buy it off the shelf. That's why we do it all online."
If that '97 sylvaner wasn't special enough I was then poured a taste of something truly remarkable. The wine smelled sweet and deep, with shiny black fruit, gentle spiciness, and bottle-developed woodsy undergrowth: star anise also. It was all this in the mouth and incredibly slinky on the tongue – deep and concentrated – with chewy density, and complex aged jamon flavours. A beautiful, mature red. I gave it 98/100 on my empiric scale and 10/10 on my hedonic.It turned out to be a 1978 Château de Beaucastel. For the second time in a month I was raving about Châteauneuf-du-Pape from France's Southern Rhône.
On the last occasion the subject was the wine of Famille Brunier including Domaine du Vieux Télégraph (correctly spelled this time around).So how come the Holmeses were pouring me a fine old Rhône released several decades ago? Well, in addition to the selection of their own portfolio of French producers (they represent the wines of Champagne Marc Chauvet, Thomas Morey, Daniel Rion and Jean Fournier) they also acquire wines from well-maintained European cellars. The '78 Beaucastel is from one such and there are eleven more bottles still to be had from d'Or to Door. For $599 a bottle, which is a great price for a wine of such quality, provenance and vintage. Moreover, as Holmes puts it: "If the wine is not drinking as it should, we give 100 per cent money back."
Your correspondent has purchased several bottles of '73 Barolo from Marchese di Barolo and Marcarini recently (my partner's birth year) and the two bottles opened thus far have been in impeccable condition (and an incredibly reasonably price). I've just ordered a couple more Saltram '73s from the Lehmann Cellar.On which subject you'll find much detail in the latest edition of the Holmeses' eating, drinking and travelling publication, repast, which they issue twice yearly. Repast ($28) is packed with personal recommendations of where and what to eat and drink in Europe, south-east Asia, at home, and elsewhere. And while some of the writing is not really my style, the feeling of the words and the intent is. Something to admire and respect. Heidi and Jeremy's innate good taste wins similar kudos. In summary: J'adore d'Or to Door, and the Holmeses deliver.
WHAT TO DRINK CELLAR GREATS FROM D'OR TO DOOR
Jean-Claude Boisset Chambertin Grand Cru 2005 [Chambertin, Burgundy]This is developing beautiful, getting deciduous forest sous bois, but still with a deep core of raspberry and wild strawberry. Gets a little orange peel and dried spice as it sits in the glass. Fabulous texture, silky and tongue-coating, but framed by persistent dusty tannins. Mouth-aromas of sourdough bread crust. Still years ahead of it. 95/100, $499. Under screwcap
Château Clerc-Milon 1982 [Pauillac, France] Smells of fruit cake and autumn leafy cabernet sauvignon and with sweet flake tobacco and wafts of cigar box: classic left bank Bordeaux. Crisp medium-weight juicy claret on the tongue, delicious currants through the middle, mouth-sucking and flinty to finish. Perfect balance. Could drink this all day. 94/100, $249
Barale Barolo 1978 [Piedmont, Italy]Not the most complex old mature Barolo, but has incredible forest berry intensity and purity. The fruit belies its age. So deep and dense. Sweet, curranty and deep in the mouth with massive depth and length. Classic wet tannin structure. 91/100, $150. Cork.