Private Collection: Jura, Beaujolais, Loire and More

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Arretxea 2016 Irouleguy Haitza

Haitza means oak in Basque. This is the flagship cuvée of the Riouspeyrous, a gorgeous blend dominated by Tannat, with a touch of Cabernets Franc & Sauvignon which can vary depending on the vintage - over the years, there are less and less. Organically grown on a diversity of soils - sandstones, schists, ophites - with very little clay, it is a great terroir to tame the natural power of Tannat: its acidity and tannins are softened up without losing their personality. Grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed, vinified separately, with a gentle maceration lasting for 3 weeks or so. Fermentations are spontaneous. The wine is then aged for 18 months minimum in foudres, then in bottle and sold when ready to drink - they don’t necessarily release them in chronological order. This is a baby Haitza you can enjoy now if decanted, or keep in your cellar for 10 to 20 years! The vintage being warmer, the wine has less acidity than usual - but still plenty, and has a delightful amiability particularly enjoyable now that Fall weather is on us. The nose is an explosion of violet, fresh red and black currant, and liquorice, with a touch of bitter chocolate. Once again, the palate is more savory with a lot of mountain herbs, smoked tobacco and potting soil. With more Tannat than usual - and not Cabernet Sauvignon - one can admire the work done by the Riouspeyrous in mastering the tannic structure in such an elegant way! Served in large Bordeaux glass, you need a little bit of fat and texture : think rack of lamb, beef briskets with confit red pepper or a slow roasted hen-of-the-wood with Bordelaise sauce. 80% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc. 

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Baudry 2012 Chinon Domaine

The Baudry Cuvée Domaine has changed a bit over the years, now made mostly from parcels in Saint-Louans on classic limestone/clay soils with the addition of juice from gravel terroir, giving a more structured wine that ages beautifully but also drinks well young. ("Chameaux" and "Molière" in Saint-Louans and "Clos Testu" in Chinon near Le Clos Guillot.) In 2012 the Baudry reds are low in alcohol, with lovely purity and fabulous mineral expression. It's an excellent vintage for the Domaine cuvée, showing deep black/red color with aromas of blackberry, prune, violet, menthol, pepper and smoke. Deep black and red fruits on the palate, very dense but relatively light at 12.5% alcohol and framed in cool acidity. This is really showing the terroir - a beautiful blend of graphite, stone and black fruits in the long finish. Lovely now in a somewhat austere style, this should be very interesting in five to ten years or more. (After three days re-corked in the fridge, the wine has fattened up with sweet blackberry and cassis followed by a nice mineral finish - really delicious!) Less wine is available this year so don't delay putting away a case! (Organic farming, natural composts, hand harvested, wild yeast fermentation, aging in five to ten year-old vat and barrel.) David Lillie

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Baudry 2012 Chinon Les Grézeaux

One of the great red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux is from a unique parcel of old vines near the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. (Harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in 3 to 5 year-old casks.) Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, combined with the ability to age beautifully in good vintages. While not as "big" as 2009 and 2010, the 2012s at Baudry have wonderful purity and freshness in a medium-bodied frame that accentuates the beauty of the fruit and the underlying minerality. The 2012 Les Grézeaux has lovely deep blackberry and strawberry fruit with earth, musk and spice. Dark fruit compote on the palate with vibrant acidity framed by flavors of graphite and stone. Becomes deeper and velvety with a few days open — really a beautiful blend of fruit and terroir with perfect balance. Enjoy it now or in 25 years...DL

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Baudry 2012 Chinon Le Clos Guillot

Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves with pigeages, 15 months of aging in two to five year-old barriques. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. (Tasted twice from barrel) Beautiful red/black color with elegant aromas of blackberry liqueur, earth, violet and minerals. The supple, elegant palate shows deep black fruits infused with earth and saline minerals with great freshness and fabulous length. A beautiful wine. Needs five years, best perhaps 2020 - 2035.

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Baudry 2012 Chinon La Croix Boissée

Mature Chinons from the Baudrys are perhaps my favorite wines (although old bottles of Clos Rougeard Coteaux de Saumur aren't bad either). I'm hoping that my wife will give me some of the 2012 Croix Boissée to cellar - it's a near-perfect wine and will be a joy to drink in 2030! From a small parcel of clay over limestone on a south-facing slope above Cravant. 24 months of aging in 2 to 4 year-old barriques. (Over the years, the Baudrys have moved to a more gentle extraction on this wine and have lengthened the barrel aging, never in new oak) This is a great Croix Boissée, rivaling in a lighter frame, the superb 2010. Brighter and more floral, this is an amazingly beautiful Chinon, lovely, lively and wonderfully balanced, with firm acidity and very pronounced saline minerals. A wine to marvel at, not to write about - thanks to the Baudrys for their artistry! David Lillie

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Baudry 2018 Chinon Le Clos Guillot

 Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in three to ten year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. It's become incrreasingly difficult to write superlatives about this wine, as each vintage since 2014 has been superb in it's own way. And now 2018, a vintage the Baudrys describe as "magnificent!" The ripeness of fruit in this vintage diplays a different side of Cabernet Franc with the more traditional light raspberry/strawberry aromatics enhanced by darker fruits: blackberry, black raspberry and boysenberry with violet and earth, that remain vibrant and bright. The color is deep black with a purple rim. The palate shows sensational purity, freshness and elegance with a fabulous dense, silky, calcaire texture and fabulous length of pure black fruits and minerals. While this wine is amazingly delicious now, it should be very interesting with long cellaring as well. Highly recommended!  David Lillie

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Breton, Catherine et Pierre 2014 Bourgueil Les Perrieres

The Bretons "Les Perrières" is one of the most beautiful red wines of the Loire. From 70 year-old vines in a great mid-slope parcel with sandy clay on the surface, then clay and limestone tuffeau below. The wine's excellence wine comes from the Bretons long experience with this parcel, their 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming and a masterful vinification and élevage, with minimal SO2, which allows great terroir expression and ageability.   The Les Perrieres shows the perfect balance of the 2014s with delicate aromas of chalky cassis and red currant, very floral with mineral with black pepper and earth, quite elegant. The palate is silky with soft chalky tannins enveloped by berry fruits, earth, musk and mineral flavors. The finish is long, elegant and intriguing, leading to the next taste, and the next... Please decant well in advance if drinking now. (Some details: Hand harvested into small boxes; 7 day cool maceration, wild yeast fermentation in Grenier oak vat without addition of SO2, progressively warmer over 15 - 24 days; no chaptalization, minimal extraction; aged in used barrels for two years with one racking; bottled after 2 1/2 years on a "flowering" day. 13% alc.) DL

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Grange Tiphaine 2017 Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Epinays

Since 2016, Damien has produced a single-vineyard wine from a part of Montlouis he considers well-suited for complex, age-worthy still dry chenin. He replanted the vineyard 15 years ago to be able to express the terroir at its best. The soil is sandier with more flints than other parts of the appellation, but you still find the perruches over tuffeau typical of the area. With its southern exposition, ripeness can be perfectly achieved. For such young vines, the result is already very impressive, which implies farming and terroir matter as much as age. Hand-harvested mid-september, the grapes are sorted in the vineyard and the cellar, whole-cluster pressed, then fermented in a 25 hl foudre. Fermentations are spontaneous and malo occurs, without making the wine lose its tension. The wine is aged for 18 months on its fine lees in foudre and in concrete egg, and lightly filtered with a sulfur dioxide adjustment.  2017 was an intense vintage, especially at harvest as the weather started to be rainy. Grapes were sorted precisely in order to avoid any botrytis. There is a lot in this wine, and for having tasted it multiple times over the last year, I can say the bottle aging is very important for this cuvée. So it is a great thing to be able to offer you the 2017 now! Compared to Clef de Sol Blanc, Les Epinays is less broad, more linear and saltier, more floral and savory. The fruit is present but in the background - crabapple, white peach, tangerine zest. The wine is definitely dry, but with a great creamy texture. If you like the densest expression of Chinon or Saumur Blanc, you will enjoy this cuvée very much. Cellar it for 10 years, or enjoy it today in a Burgundy glass not too cold. You want a dish with iodine or umami for this wine : scallop carpaccio with yuzu, soy sauce and radish, or a porcini ravioli with chicken and mushroom jus. 100% Chenin. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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Pépière 2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Cru Château Thébaud

  The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard with great terroir sloping down towards the river Maine. The granite here (Granit de Château Thébaud, oddly enough) is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way.  2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2014 will stand out as perhaps the finest yet due to the perfect combination of great density and minerality with the very firm acidity of this superb year for Muscadet - those of you lucky enough to have the 2014 Pépière Clisson in your cellar understand just what a special vintage this is. From Remi Branger at Pépière: "As the wine aged we performed three bâtonnages and after three and a half years sur lie, in April 2018, we decided to bottle it. We then decided to leave it  another year in bottle before offering it for sale. For us, the 2014 Château Thébaud is a wine with a great potential for cellaring. In its youth, the wine was very austere but the prolonged élevage sur lie allowed it to develop well and it benefited further from the additional year in bottle. Recent tastings of the wine confirm to us that we made the right choice for the aging, because it has the balance we hoped for with a finish of power and tension."

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Pépière 2015 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clisson

 Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has produced this cuvée from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pepiere vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granite is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine.Tasted in France in January 2018, the wine showed a pale gold color with lovely aromas of dried pear, quince, almond, lemon-confit and stone, ripe but quite fresh. The palate was quite  dense, showing firm acidity and mineral flavors supporting white fruits, citrus, anise and almond, with terrific length. This is an excellent "Clisson" with attractive forward fruit for early drinking as well as firm structure for aging of fifteen to twenty years or more. David Lillie

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Pinon, François 2012 Vouvray Brut Non-Dosé

The re-release of the Pinon 2012 Brut Non-Dosé is drinking beautifully now, after 7-plus years on the lees. Even at my advanced age, I plan on cellaring a case of this very special wine for another ten to twenty years. Here is our original review: François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex. The fermentation lasts 4 to 6 weeks without added yeast or sugar. 2012 is a beautiful year for this wine as the bright fruit and firm acidity of the vintage contribute to the elegance and structure of this cuvée. The wine shows aromas of creamy lemon, pear, brioche, fines herbes and stone, with pear, green apple. mineral, herbal and bitter lemon flavors on the palate. The mousse is fine and refreshing and there is fabulous length of dried herbs, citrus pear and stone flavors on the finish. This very young wine will develop nicely in the glass and will cellar beautifully for twenty years or more - a few years ago we tasted a 1976 that was sensational.  David Lillie

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Tue-Boeuf 2018 Touraine Le Brin de Chèvre

The unique and vibrantly delicious 2018 "Brin de Chèvre" is 100% Menu Pineau grown on clay soils with silex and gravel, 70% 65-80 year-old and 30% young vines, aged for 12 months in demi-muid and Burgundy barrels, 15mg/L SO2. This is always one of my favorite Loire whites with it's combination of ripe, dense pear and quince, with sharp herbal flavors and bracing citrusy acidity with fabulous length. It's a wine to sip and contemplate, perhaps with some halibut, monkfish or full-flavored ceviche. Don't serve it too cold and please decant or cellar for ten years. 18 bottles available.

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Tue-Boeuf 2019 Touraine Le Brin de Chèvre

The unique and vibrantly delicious  "Brin de Chèvre" is 100% Menu Pineau grown on clay soils with silex and gravel, 70% 65-80 year-old and 30% young vines, aged for 12 months in demi-muid and Burgundy barrels, 15mg/L SO2. This is always one of my favorite Loire whites with it's combination of ripe, dense pear and quince, with sharp herbal flavors and bracing citrusy acidity with fabulous length. It's a wine to sip and contemplate, perhaps with some halibut, monkfish or full-flavored ceviche. Don't serve it too cold and please decant - or cellar for ten years.

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Coquelet 2015 Chiroubles

Damien Coquelet has made an elegant, balanced and quite mineral tasting Chiroubles in this frequently over-ripe vintage. The aromas are a bit earthy and floral with black fruits and hints of spice and citrus. The palate is dense and saline with blackberry and black cherry, quite restrained and earthy for a 2015, and with only 12.5% alcohol. Give this wine some time to open up and serve with any grilled meat, roast chicken and charcuterie.

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Coquelet 2016 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes

The step-son of Georges Descombes, Damien Coquelet has worked alongside him since early childhood. Damian's  2016 Chiroubles VV is a beautiful wine showing bright aromas of ripe raspberry, morello chery, violet and citrus, really quite pretty. There is a lively mineral attack on the palate with earthy plum, cherry and raspberry fruit that is sappy, earthy and long. Quite lovely now, this should really sing after a few years of cellaring. Highly recommended! David Lillie

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Ducroux 2018 Vin de France Patience

 "Patience" (including the "Paradis," the first of the press wine, and the last of the press wine) is always extraordinary. Deeper and more tannic than the "Exspectatio," it benefits from 5 - 6 years of aging before opening. The 2013, tasted at the shop in Jan 2023, was gorgeous, still youthful and bright, with fabulous pure berry fruits and earthy flavors. Sorry, 2 bottle maximum, please.

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Ducroux, Christian 2019 Vin de France Exspectatia

2019 "Exspectatia" (approximate blend, tasted in January 2020) Deep, high-toned aromas of black raspberry and raspberry, palate silky, velvety, round, raspberry and plum with darker fruit in the complex finish, plum skin, raspberry, citrus and earth. This is one of the world's finest natural wines -  drink now and over the next ten to fifteen years. (At a recent tasting of 2009 vintage Beaujolais, including most of the finest, the 2009 Ducroux was the clear winner) Christian Ducroux's vineyard work is certainly among the finest in France. His 4 hectares in Thulon, in the hills above Régnié, have been organically farmed since the 1980s and are Demeter certified Biodynamic, with a wild proliferation of vegetation between the vines which is minimally controlled by horse-drawn plowing.  Christian has been practising this type of regenerative agriculture for 35 years, and he's very happy that more vineyards are now using these methods! David Lillie

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Ducroux, Christian 2019 Vin de France Cuvée Thibault

From massale selection Riesling and Pinot Gris, grown in Ducroux' high altitude parcel above Thulon, second year of production from 5 year-old vines. Subtle aromas of pear and hay, lovely white fruits with almond, apricot, citrus and brown spice with good length, just delicious and pure, with a nice mineral finish. Three bottle limit please. Zero SO2 of course.

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Lapierre 2018 Morgon

2018 is a great vintage for the Morgon from Mathieu and Camille Lapierre. The wine shows lovely deep aromas of blackberry liqueur and earth, and there's an underlying complexity to this wine that is perhaps overshadowed by the joyful, smile-inducing fruit that jumps out of the glass. Though a candidate for aging 5 to 8+ years, it's drinking beautifully now and will be perfect with upcoming holiday meals with a light chill.    -EL

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