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Anyone who knows about Chambers St. Wines knows that our fascination and love for Loire Valley wines is longstanding. With that in mind, and as our duty to the wine-drinking public, we present some delicious new arrivals from two of our favorite domains!
Though we have only worked with Philippe Delmee for two years now, it feels as if we've known him and his wines for a long time. One part of this is his kindhearted and welcoming nature, and the other is how much his wines remind us of some of our favorite producers from the area. It's no wonder that Philippe worked alongside Benoit ("Beni) Courault, for example, as the aromatics and energy of his wines are reminiscent of Courault's. A math teacher in his former life, Philippe became interested in wine in the early 2000's, and after studying for 2 years, began commuting from Brittany to Angers, in the Loire Valley.
He worked with the aforementioned Benoit Courault and at Domaine des Griottes, before eventually making his start with one hectare (about 2 acres) that Courault helped him find in Faye D'Anjou. He now has about 6 hectares total, spread over multiple small vineyard parcels. His approach has always been low-intervention, with the use of only copper and small amounts of sulfur in the vineyard, along with biodynamic and plant-based treatments. Most of his wines are started with a "pied de cuve," which is a small batch of wine that is introduced to a larger vat of fresh juice once there are healthy yeast populations going. Though he uses a fraction of a mg/l of SO2 (usually around .5 or even less) with the pied de cuve, he does not add at any other stage, during aging or at bottling. His reds have always been vibrant, zingy, and thirst quenching. The whites, all from Chenin Blanc, are serious and structured, owing much of their minerality to the schiste soils of Faye d'Anjou. The Pet-nats are just plain fun! We don't have all of his bottlings available at the moment, but we did just receive a shipment and the wines are tasting great.
Lise and Bertrand Jousset make superb natural wines at ther small estate in Montlouis-sur-Loire, and we're happy to offer some returning favorites as well as two delicious new wines. Like many other growers in the Loire, the Joussets have been hit by severe frosts in 2016 and 2017 which have destroyed a large percentage of their crop. Forced to look elsewhere for grapes, Lise and Bertrand have created new wines in their "Exilé" series, with the help of organic and biodynamic growers in other regions, such as thier vibrant and delicious 2017 Menetou-Salon Exilé Rouge. Using grapes from 40 year-old vines in biodynamic farming on Kimmeridgian soils purchased from Philippe Gilbert, the Joussets harvested the grapes and vinified and bottled the wine (with zero added SO2) at the Gilbert estate in Menetou-Salon. The result is pure juice with no additives that is 100% "gouleyant," as the French would say - very little wine is available, be sure to try it! Another new release is the 2015 Chardonnay "Les Audouines" from the Joussets vines on sandy clay soils in Touraine, recently bottled after two years in old barrels, also with no added SO2. It's a unique, quite complex and full-bodied Chardonnay that will be a great pairing with a spicy ceviche and fish or chichen in sauce. And of course we're happy to have three of the Jousset's superb sparkling wines back in stock - two Pet Nats and a Methode Traditionelle, all of which are incredibly delicious - don't miss them!
Article co-authored by Eben & David Lillie
2015 was a difficult vintage for Chenin Blanc in the Loire, from my experience. Many naturally vinified wines made without temp control (or other shortcuts) didn't finish fermentation. The heat and dryness of the vintage caused challenges compared to milder years with higher acidity and more freshness. There were of course exceptions, and some producers came out of 2015 with some dense and impressive expressions of Chenin Blanc. Philippe Delmee's Patience is one of these exceptions. Just beginning to really sing, it has the potential to age beautifully for many years to come. There is a firm mineral backbone that gives structure and lingers long into the finish. On the palate, it has nice medium weight and density. We recommend letting this Chenin breath for a while. It's worth the patience!Eben Lillie
Grolleau and Cabernet Franc blend in Pet Nat form, and a ridiculously charming label. It's pure and mineral with fresh acidity and a bit of funk on the palate, but a clean finish (even hours later). This has become a local favorite and doesn't last very long on our shelves! A bit fuller and more flavorful than the 2016 vintage, but still very dry and really fun to drink. Fun fact: the rad white and pink airstream on the label actually exists! It's in Philippe's front yard. The pet-nat drinking Centaur, however, does not exist.
This is a very friendly Cab Franc from Philippe Delmee. The name takes the phrase "ca fait" (it takes/makes) and incorporates a reference to Philippe's home in Faye d'Anjou, a small commune in the Loire Valley that was recently merged into a new commune called Bellevigne-en-Layon. The "douze" (twelve) in "Ca Faye douze" is a reference to the alcohol (which is technically 12.5%). Semi-carbonic maceration, and gently macerated at that - more of an infusion style without extraction or pressing. The result is a silky and juicy red that has an inviting vibrant color and tangy acidity, with very little tannin or grip. Drink with a chill. Pure juice!EL
"Les Vieux de la Vieille" is a French film about 3 mischievous old pranksters who move to a retirement home, much to the joy and relief of their village. Hilarity ensues when they grow bored of the retirement home and return to the village to cause havoc. Philippe is a fan of the film and likes the idea of these 3 old men who love to drink, eat and joke their way through life. Not so easy to compare the theme to the wine, but I do love the dark and more concentrated (old man) expression of Cabernet Franc that's balanced with energetic lift and "natty"/wild (mischievous) aromatics. Vines for this cuvée are about 40 years old, and there is some pigeage and a bit more of a traditional maceration which yields a fuller and more meaty style of Cab Franc, compared to Philippe's juicy and light "Ca Faye Douze" bottling.
This unique Loire Valley Chardonnay is from 35 year-old old vines on sandy clay/limestone soils and was aged 24 months in barrel in the Jousset's "cave troglodyte," vinified and bottled with zero added SO2. The 2015 Les Audoines shows a pale gold/bronze color and aromas of ripe pear and quince with almond, lemon zest, brown spice and honeysuckle. The palate is full and round but with lemony acidity, showing creamy pear and white peach with hints of grapefuit and earth with a long finish of ripe pear and citrus. This is a full-bodied Chardonnay that will pair with a fish ceviche with coriander, fish or chicken in sauce, sole with almond. Lovely wine. DL
Rose á Lies is a beautiful Petillant Naturel Rosé from Lise and Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis-sur-Loire. Made from 40 year-old organic Gamay and Grolleau vines grown on sand and silex soils over limestone. Fermented in used barriques, the wine is bottled at 15 grams of sugar and finishes at less than 5 grams. The wine has toasty aromas of red currant and raspberry with creamy red fruits on the palate balanced with bracing acidity. The finish is clean, refreshing and long - a perfect Pet Nat for any special or everyday occasion!
Lise and Bertrand Jousset began the "Exilé" project with fruit purchased from nearby friends who share their commitment to organic farming. The "Exilé" rose is a pétillant made with 100% Gamay from 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and it's one of our favorites. The 2016 is decadent with coastal aromas of salty pineapple core, fleshy melon, almond skins, and lilac. At 12% it is almost completely dry with a lacy mineral structure framing rich flavors of bosc pear, creamy pineapple, and subtle hints of white tea and orange peel. The finish is long and fabulously mineral. Serve with salade niçoise, cheese, or as a life-affirming aperó after a long day. Amanda Bowman
"Mosquito" scratches that itch for a sublime bottle of thirst-quenching bubbles. The 2017 is made from Muscat grapes that Domaine Danjou-Banessy (Roussillon) generously gifted to the Jousset's after they lost most of their harvest to hail and frost. This is a pet-nat made by friends to share with friends. At 12% it's just a touch off-dry with aromas of exotic orange citrus, nutmeg, salty peach and honeycomb. There is a touch of Chenin Blanc which lends flavors of juicy pear and tart acidity. Try it with tangy goat cheeses, salads, or on its own. Amanda Bowman
The Joussets have made a lovely natural Pinot Noir from Biodynamic fruit grown by Philippe Gilbert in Menetou-Salon - harvested, vinified and bottled by the Joussets. (40 year-old vines on kimmeridgian soils, zero added SO2) The wine shows a bright, clear dark red color, with aromas of ripe strawberry, black raspberry and violet, with a bit of cocoa and white pepper. There is ripe black raspberry and black cherry fruit on the palate, very fresh and bright with chalk and earthy flavors in the finish with lingering ripe fruits. This is a beautifully pure and delicious Pinot that is lovely now - serve cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken or pork. Aging for five to ten years might be very interesting. HIghly recommended! David Lillie