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Our friend Lettie Teague reminded us last week in the Wall Street Journal that "Yes, You Can Drink White Wine in Winter. It’s Called Chenin Blanc. That’s because Chenin is a white wine particularly well-suited to winter drinking. It’s fairly full bodied, marked by a bright acidity and delightful aromas of florals and fruit. Incredibly versatile, it pairs well with a wide range of foods, from pork to chicken, fish and all sorts of holiday fare." We couldn't agree more! We'd like to feature a few of the growers mentioned in Lettie's excellent article and offer a few of our favorites as well....
2020 Chidaine Montlouis "Les Bournais" 2020 is another great vintage for the dry Montlouis cuvées from François and Manuela Chidaine, featuring the superb "Les Bournais," now recognized as one of the very finest Chenin Blancs of the Loire! In 1989 François discovered a mostly abandoned vineyard near a cliff overlooking the Loire called "Les Bournais" named after a unique type of clay/limestone soil that doesn't occur elsewhere in Montlouis. He called it a "magical place," and planted vines there in the late 1990s. Even the first vintages from young vines impressed us with complex aromatics (including hints of red and pink fruits!) and a dense and silky palate - it has been a favorite at Chambers Street since the 2005 vintage and we are happy to offer the importer's last stock of the beautiful 2020 at a low net price!
2021 Vincent Careme Vouvray "Le Clos" We are big fans of Vincent Careme and his wines and taste with him as often as possible in France, but the difficulty in ordering his wines has kept them largely off our shelves, until we started with the delightful 2021 Vouvray Sec a few months ago. The 21 Sec is sold-out but the good news is that we were able to get a few cases of "Le Clos," Vincent's best wine and one of the top wines of the appellation. "Le Clos" is a great première cote vineyard of very thin clay soils over the Turonian limestone that produced a dense, vibrant and simply superb Vouvray in 2021 that will be delicious now, or with 10 to 20 years of cellaring.
2020 Domaine de la Roche Bleue Jasnières "Clos de la Molières" Ms. Teague featured the Roche Bleue Coteaux du Loir "Orée de la Berterie" in her article which sold out quickly, but happily we have 2 cs left of the estate's best Chenin, the brilliant Jasnières "Clos des Molières." The 2020 is an astonshing dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, nettle, almond, citrus and white earth. The palate is dense but crystalline and intensly mineral with white fruits, honey, almond, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the scintillating finish. Enjoy now or cellar for 10 to fifteen years. (More inventory of the "Orée de la Berterie" arrives in 6 to 8 weeks.)
2022 Domaine Huet Vouvray "Le Mont" Demi-Sec This is perhaps our favorite wine from Domaine Huet, with the residual sugar balancing the superb mineral character and firm acidity of this great terroir to produce something magical - enjoyable now or for long-term aging.
2020 Domaine Pinon Vouvray "Buvez du Bon Pinon" It's hard to pick one wine out of the great line-up from Julien Pinon, but this is really quite extraordinary! From the estate's website: "This is the renaissance of a cuvée created by my great-grandfather - a dry wine from our oldest parcel, planted in 1945 on soils of silex noir and vinfied in our oldest foudres - old 'tonneaux' from Porto purchased by my grandfather. We're using the label from the 1950s as well as the name of the cuvée - the famous 'Buvéz du Bon Pinon.' The fermentation lasted 2 to 3 months with only wild yeasts, which participate in the effect of 'terroir.'" The wine is showing fabulous density and perfect balance but will need many years to really emerge - like the Huet Le Mont Sec, for example, give it ten years before drinking if possible - or a long decant if drinking now.
2020 Domaine Closel Savennières "La Jalousie" Evelyne de Pontbriand at Closel has been a major force in the transformation of Savennières into a source of some of the greatest Chenins in the world, through Biodynamic farming and constant improvements in vineyard management and winemaking. We're happy to offer her superb 2020 "La Jalousie" for elegant current drinking and mid-term aging.
2019 La Source du Ruault Saumur "La Coulée D'Aunis" Jean-Noel Millon at La Source du Ruault is known primarly for his reds, but also makes this superb Chenin from a beautiful south-facing vineyard near the Loire on Turonian limestone with clay. The 2019 shows a lovely light gold color and aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, anise, lime-flower, almond and stone, very bright and vibrant. Only 18 btls available...
A very good Sancerre... A long, long time ago, before the internet and Google Maps, we visited Pierre Boulay in Chavignol in search of wisdom and wine. The affable M. Boulay sent us up the hill to Claude Thomas who came down from "Les Monts Damnées" in his muddy boots and suspiciously started pouring wine. After some sensational older vintages we tasted the new wines from barrels, including one ancient barrique containing the juice from the oldest vines. Somehow, this became the Thomas-Labaille Chavignol "Cuvée Buster," with the Dressner's odd-looking mutt on the label, which Jean-Paul Labaille has continued making to this day... It's very good.
Today's offer features low net prices, no further discount. Please allow until Friday 12/1 for pick-up or shipping.
This is our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "Les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray and without the silex present in most Montlouis terroirs. First made in a sec-tendre style, recent vintages have been dry, with the 2020 showing power and balance at 3 g/L RS, 14.5% alc and 3.95 g/L total acidity. In the glass, the color is glimmering lemon. The nose is firm with apricot, citrus peel, and oyster shell, with healthy green herbs and lovely grassy aromas. The palate is salty, with a touch of anise, with lime zest and a touch of bitter nectarine. A great swish in the mouth, punctuated by a beam of vibrant acidity. The finish is long and mouthwatering. Delicious!
From 25 - 30 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. Sébastien Cornille has quickly become one of the finest producers of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc on his 7 hectare estate in the Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières. The 2020 Jasnières "Clos es Molières" is an astonshing dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, nettle, almond, citrus and white earth. The palate is dense but crystalline and intensly mineral with white fruits, honey, almond, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the scintillating finish. Serve now with an elegant shellfish or fish preparation or hold for ten to fifiteen years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. Beautiful wine!
13.5% alcohol, 21 gr/l RS, 3.9 gr/l total acidity, ph 3.25 With its green clay and its perfect exposition on the Première Côte de Vouvray just above the winery, Le Mont is an outstanding site for Chenin, and I have to admit often my favorite in the line-up. It has the lift and fruit of the Haut-Lieu, and the gravitas of Le Clos du Bourg, with a very specific wild mint freshness and a smokiness I care very much for: I think the demi-sec version is the paragon of the style! All the still wines at Huet are made the same way, the only difference being the picking, and the balance of the must. Aging happens mostly in larger, older barrels and sometimes partially in tanks, but always blended, to be bottled in April. I always think this style for that site is such a rare treat to taste, as you have such a unique balance rarely found anywhere else in the region, and in the world, between acidity-tannins-sugar. Pascaline Lepetier
The 2021 "Le Clos" from Vincent Careme is from a great "premiere cote" vineyard of very thin clay soils over the turonian limestone. This is one of the best wines of Vouvray - it was brilliant as a demi-sec in 2008 and 2010 and the dry 2021 is equally beautiful, showing lovely aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really pretty! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with a wide variety of elegant cuisines - or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience.
The fruit from "La Jalousie" comes from different parcels across all three main Closel micro-terroirs (plateau, hillsides or coteaux, and valley or coulée). The common theme is sandy, stony schist soils and certified-biodynamic farming. Harvest is by hand, at exactly the point where the grapes are just ripe, with cruncy, yellow-green skins and the freshest, brightest aromatics. The bunches are very gently direct-pressed, followed by a spontaneous fermentation to dryness with native yeasts and without sulfur in fiberglass tanks. The wine generally goes through malo and is aged in horizontal vats for maximum surface contact with the fine lees for around 10 months. The wine is bottled unfiltered, just 0.4 grams RS with 3.8 grams acidity and a 25 hl/ha-yield in 2020. "The bouquet is bright and complex, hopping from the glass in a vibrant mix of sweet quince, flinty, chalky soil tones, citrus peel, lanolin and a gentle floral topnote of white flowers. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and zesty, with a good core of fruit, lovely soil signature, a fine spine of acidity and impressive length and backend lift on the long, complex and well balanced finish. This is lovely young Savennières." View from the Cellar
From the estate's website: "This is the renaissance of a cuvée created by my great-grandfather - a dry wine from our oldest parcel, planted in 1945 on soils of silex noir and vinfied in our oldest foudres - old 'tonneaux' from Porto purchased by my grandfather. We're using the label from the 1950s as well as the name of the cuvée - the famous 'Buvéz du Bon Pinon.' The fermentation lasted 2 to 3 months with only wild yeasts, which participate in the effect of 'terroir.' The fermentation was stopped by chilling the juice, followed by a soutirage, the wine then aged for 5 months in the old tonneaux. Aging potential of 15 to 20 years, serve with shellfish, oysters, cold fish, vegetable terrines, choucroute de la mer, rillettes and rillons." 7 grams/liter RS, 13.5% alcohol. This superb and elegant Vouvray is quite a contrast from the more open and expressive 2020 Sec. The "Buvez du Bon Pinon" is all elegance and depth, but quite closed, and just slightly opening on day two. The aromas are deep and creamy with subtle white peach, quince, earth, almond and stone, really needs time... The palate is dense and full with white and yellow fruits blending with earth, almond, anise and mineral notes. The wine is showing density and perfect balance but will need many years to really emerge - like the Huet Le Mont Sec, for example, give it ten years before drinking if possible - or a 12 hour decant if drinking now. Of course it's delicious today but try to wait... David Lillie
The Source du Ruault "Coulée D'Aunis" is from a beautiful south-facing vineyard near the Loire river on Turonian limestone with clay. The 2019 shows a lovely light gold color and aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, anise, lime-flower, almond and stone, very bright and vibrant. There is very firm chalky acidity on the palate, really a scintillating texture with white fruits, citrus, herbal and stone flavors. The finish is long and extremely mineral, almost bitter, with brisk acidity lingering on the palate. Give this a decant or open the night before if drinking now, serve this bright and vibrant Chenin with shellfish, a full-flavored ceviche, baked cod. Beautiful now, five to ten years of cellaring will be very interesting...
This is old vine Sancerre from the estate of Claude Thomas now run by his son-in-law, Jean-Paul Labaille. The vines are in Les Monts Damnées, in Chavignol, on a similar type of Kimmeridgian marl soil that also shows up in Premier Cru Chablis. Only two barrels are made, from the oldest vines on "Les Monts Damnees." This is one of the best wines of Sancerre and will accompany the most elegant fish and shellfish preparations. (And yes, there's an ugly dog on the label, a joke by importer Joe Dressner on the ridiculous super-cuvées much in vogue in the 90's when this label was designed.) The 2022 is very elegant with subtle aromas of stone, citrus, white fruits and herbs, with a bit more ripeness than usual in the sunny 2022 vintage. The palate shows firm acidity backing dense mineral, citrus and pear flavors that open and grow more complex with air, or time in the cellar. Decant if drinking now, superb wine!