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We've been enjoying the superb Bourgueils of Stéphane Guion for 14 years now, since discovering his wines, with a little help from Marc Olivier of Domaine de la Pépière, at the "Levée de la Loire" in Angers.
This shipment introduces the 2018 Cuvée des Deux Monts, Stéphane's finest wine, first produced in 2009, from 70-80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils - 2018 is an exceptional vintage for reds in the Loire as the wines possess superb ripeness and depth making them delicious to drink young, with the freshness and structure to enable long-term cellaring. Tasted in January of 2020, the wine showed beautifully - tasted on arrival last Tuesday, the forward fruit of the 2018 vintage was wonderfully evident, but the wine is a baby with a long and lovely life ahead of it. We recommend buying a case (or two) to enjoy over the next 30 years. And for those, like myself, who love the 2014 vintage in the Loire, the estate's last 60 btls of 2014 Deux Monts are included in this shipment.
Stephane's "Cuvée Prestige" is always one of our favorite Loire Cabernet Francs, and the vintages 2009, 2010 and 2014 were particularly outstanding. 2018, however, may be the best he has made, and we're happy to have additional inventory! "... a wine from beautifully mature grapes" says Stephane "giving superb aromas of very ripe black fruit confit with a savory mineral character on the palate, accompanied and enveloped by firm, ripe tannins with wonderful length, giving a very balanced wine and promising long cellaring. For me a magnificent vintage that I will want to revisit frequently!"
And yes there is more 2019 "Cuvee Domaine" included in this shipment "It’s a great drink and a superb value" said Eric Asimov in the NY Times last January and we couldn't agree more!
2019 and 2020 Bourgueil Rosé? Absolutely - it takes a few years for Stephane's Rosé to shed a bit of its bracing acidity and for the ripe berry fruits to fully emerge. A product of serious limestone/gravel terroir, this is the perfect wine for grilled chicken on a hot day this summer - and all year-round.
Domaine Guion was created by Stéphane's father in the 1950's and was certified organic beginning in 1965. The estate's 8 hectares are all in Benais mostly on Turonien limestone with varied depths of clay topsoil. Only 15% of the vines are on gravel topsoil, in "La Ruée," used primarily for the rosé (arriving end of July) and a small amount in the Cuvée Domaine. The parcels are just west of Domaine de la Chevalerie and Domaine Breton, in the northern sector of Benais, on slopes facing south and southwest, which is prime real estate for ageworthy, mineral-laden Bourgueils! The Cuvée Prestige is from vines averaging 45 years of age in the parcels "Grand Mont," "les Marquises," le Vlaudons," "le Maupas," "les Caveries," "Petit Mont" and "Chavannes."
The "Cuvée Deux Monts" is from the estates oldest vines, averaging 70 years of age, in the parcels "Grand Mont" and "Petit Mont." This wine is produced only in the best vintages - the new release is 2017 as Stéphane felt the 2015 lacked the necessary tannin and acidity, and the yield was too small in 2016. 2017 was another quite warm vintage, with some vignerons comparing it to 2009, producing full-bodied relatively forward wines. Our first taste of the 2017 "Deux Monts" revealed it to be a superb wine, quite deep and ripe but still light on its feet and with a particularly long and focused finish. Says Stéphane "the weather in 2017 was quite warm in spring and summer with a bit of rain in september - the wine is quite floral with ripe red fruits and mineral flavors on the palate with round, supple tannins and the limestone terroir quite present in the finish." It's a beautiful wine showing the old vines and great terroir...
The estates 55 years of organic farming are supplemented by Stéphane's no-nonsense winemaking - hand harvesting, fermentations with wild yeasts, a small addition of SO2 only after the malo and aging in cuve for the "Domaine" and "Prestige," aging in cuve and barrels for the "Deux Monts." The wines are always marked by firm acidity and fantastic minerality - Stéphane blushes when I tell him this, but tasting with him is equal to any of the great visits we make on our winter trip. Bravo to Stéphane Guion!
From 70-80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2018 is a magnificent vintage for this wine! Tasted July 2022, the wine showed a deep red/black color and lush aromas of ripe cassis and black raspberry with hints of brown spice and oak. The palate is a lovely combination of ripe black fruits and bright acidity, dense and supple with graphite and saline minerals under the deep fruits in the very long finish. Forward enough to enjoy now, this will need time to unfold its mysteries and will be a very complex and beautiful mature wine, best to wait 5 years then drink until 2042 and beyond.
2018 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 45 years old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in Benais, a terroir that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2018 is a great vintage for Loire reds, despite the very warm and humid spring that brought attacks of mildew. The summer was perfect, warm and dry, without spikes of heat, and the soils retained enough moisture to bring freshness to the very ripe grapes. Tasted with Stéphane in February 2020, the 2018 Prestige showed elegant intensely perfumed aromas of red and black fruit liqueurs. The palate was complex and earthy, very calcaire, dense but not heavy with beautifully supple ripe red and black fruits, with a long finish of saline and mineral flavors quite present below the sappy fruit. We look forward to a more thorough tasting after the wine rests from its voyage, but it's quite clear that this will be delicious to drink as a young wine, and - although it may seem crazy to cellar a $17 wine for 20 to 30 years - those that do will be rewarded with a unique expression of this great terroir. I'm hoping to live to be 100 to have that experience myself! David Lillie
The World's Best Value in Cabernet Franc is back! - This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stéphane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2019 Cuvèe Domaine is from not-so-young (15 to 40 year-old) vines, mostly on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is equal to the superb 2018 with perhaps a bit more brightness to the fruit. The wine shows a vibrant black/red color and lush aromas of raspberry and blackberry confit, dark chocolate and violets - very deep and ripe but still bright with earthy hints as well. The palate is medium-bodied and very fresh with firm acidity and chalky, saline mineral flavors framing the very ripe, chalky red and black fruits, which continue in the long sappy finish. Drink now, served cool, with grilled chicken and pork, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses, or hold 5 to 8 years for a velvety mature experience. This is a beautiful wine and a sensational value! David Lillie
Last bottles - (Retasted in September 2022 - the wine is showing beautifully, with fabulous complexity of fruit and mineral notes, with a great finish - drink over the next 2 years.) 50 years of organic farming and great traditional winemaking give this refreshing, perfectly balanced rosé from our friend Stephane Guion in Bourgueil. The wine shows bright strawberry/raspberry aromas with citrus, rose and earth. Raspberry, blood orange, melon and earthy flavors on the bone-dry palate which is framed in firm acidity and saline minerals. This is a real rosé of terroir, dry and balanced with moderate alcohol which needs a bit of time to open up. Drink now and through 2024, with grilled tuna, roast chicken, grilled pork and charcuterie.
(Last 60 btls of the 2014, arrives 7/26) From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2014 is a particularly good vintage for Loire reds to age. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
(Arrives 7/26) Our review from July 2020: Of course we love the great Cabernet Franc rosés from the Loire and a special favorite of ours is the vibrant Bourgueil from Stéphane Guion in Benais. Organic since 1964, the estate produces superb wines on the limestone/clay soils, and this year's rosé is perhaps his best ever! The color is a lovely pale pink and the raspberry and red currant fruit is supple, complex and refreshing, remaining light but with lovely complex fruit, herbal notes and a particularly long and focused finish with firm acidity. It's an amazing value at $14.99, and will drink beautifully for many more years, case purchases are recommended!