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We love the 2014 vintage in the Loire Valley, especially for the great reds of Bourgueil and Chinon, and we're very happy to offer a small quantity of the rare and beautiful Pierre and Catherine Breton 2014 Bourgueil "Les Perrières!" The wine is from the Breton's oldest vines, averaging about 70 years-old, in a beautiful south-facing mid-slope parcel with well-drained sandy clay over denser clay and limestone "tuffeau" below. Unlike some of the more highly extracted reds of the Loire, the Bretons (and the Baudrys in Chinon) practice minimal extraction, producing wines with magnificent fruit and density but with a lightness and transparency that perfectly expresses their diferent parcels. And of course the Breton's practice exemplary farming, being among the first to convert to organic and Biodynamic farming in the Loire. "In addition to the right climate, topography and geology, we need invisible but complex life in our soils. The fauna (earthworm, roots, micro organisms) air the soil, participate in its structure and develop water penetration and mineral substance assimilation. To assure the development of the vine, soils need to be organically active. Phytosanitary products and chemical products disturb completely this amazing system. That’s why we decided to work in an organic way."
While the 2014 "Les Perrières" may be enjoyed in its youth, after a long decant, we would still recommend cellaring of ten to fifteen years, with the wine reaching its peak of aromatic complexity and secondary flavors on the palate with longer aging. Think of the 1989 Loire reds that are now in their prime. While 2014 is not as concentrated a vintage as 1989, the 2014s possess a perfect balance of acidity, tannic structure and fruit that will make them quite beautiful, velvety and delicate when mature. Normal case discounts apply - we suggest you add some of the other wonderful 2014s or library wines offered below!
Please join us at Racines on Tuesday, December 11th, as we taste some of our favorite recent releases of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and a mature wine as well. We'll taste the 2013 Clos Rougeard "Clos" along with great wines from Baudry, Breton, and others TBD. Blind tasting - 6 half pours for $75, please reserve by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
From 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. 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.
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2014 was an excellent vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2014 Raffault Picasses shows a bright, red/black color with aromas of morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and prune with hints of licorice, earth and black pepper. The palate shows silky tannins and sappy red and black fruits with chalky minerals and firm acidity. Earthy prune, plum and cherry fruits linger in the long finish. Please decant two to three hours in advance if drinking now, then serve a bit cool with roast chicken, pork or lamb. This will sing a different song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2026 - 2040. DL
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
One of our favorite Loire reds, the Breton Nuits D'Ivresse is a selection of old vines on terroirs of clay and limestone. The wine is vinified, aged and bottled without the addition of sulfur, preserving it's lovely fruit aroma. The 2014 Nuits d'Ivresse is simply sensational, showing the depth of fruit, balance and elegance of this great vintage for Loire reds. The wine shows a dark red/black color and gorgeous ripe aromas of strawberry and blackberry liqueur, a bit of musk, damp earth, violet and citrus peel, quite lovely and fresh. The palate is quite dense with meaty ripe berry fruit lifted by bright acidity and herbal notes. The finish is refreshing and long with black fruits, mineral flavors and citrusy acids. Serve cool - absolutely delicious now or cellar five to ten years. Epaulé Jeté! David Lillie
2014 is a beautiful vintage for the Clos de Turpenay, a vineyard of clay/limestone on a well-exposed slope that has been in vines since the 13th century. The current vines were planted in massale selection about 50 years ago and generally give a very structured wine that ages well. As with the best of the 2014 Chinons, The Clos de Turpenay shows a beautiful combination of supple ripe fruits, freshness, and great terroir expression. The aromas are complex and pretty - black raspberry, cassis and strawberry, quite fresh, with earth, pepper, rose and citrus. The palate is a lovely mix of red and black fruits with earth, sous-bois, citrus and chalky mineral flavors that continue in the long sappy finish. This is a subtle and elegant Chinon - carafe 1 to 2 hours in advance or cellar 15 to 20 years. Serve with stews, Guinea hen with peaches (!), salade magret de canard, roast chicken.
The Chevalerie "Galichets" vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age - similar to the "Chevalerie" parcel but a bit lower on the slope, giving a wine that is more open and easy for early drinking. The 2015 vintage is excellent, with a bit more ripeness and lower acidity than 2014. This wine is a fabulous mix of fruit and minerals, perfectly balanced and with terrific length: dense black/red color, with aromas that blend soil, stone and blackberry fruit with hints of cocoa and violet. The palate is dense and supple and round - a blend of stone and ripe red and black fruits, continuing in the long, supple mineral finish. This is a beautiful Bourgueil that can be enjoyed now with roast chicken, pork dishes, even a steak - or hold for ten to fifteen years for a mature experience. It's a faulous value - congratulations to the Caslots! David Lillie
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic/biodynamic vineyards on their superb terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. 2014 is a superb vintage for the Cuvee Chevalerie which shows a lovely deep red color and fresh ripe black raspberry and cassis with black pepper, stone, prune and roast meat. The palate is well-structured and quite concentrated with complex black fruit liqueur, spice, bitter chocolate, licorice and truffle, with a long finish of sappy fruit and mineral flavors. This is a beautiful Bourgueil of terroir that can be enjoyed now with coq-qu-vin, steak au poivre and grilled lamb, best to wait 3 - 5 years, then drink until 2030 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
"Busardieres" is a great vineyard fairly high on the slope in Bourgueil on Middle Turonian limestone with shallow topsoils of clay with pebbles of limestone with mica, always giving a wine that is a bit austere in its youth, very mineral and built to age. The 2014 is a superb example that showed sensationally when tasted with Stephanie Caslot in February 2018. Re-tasted in September, the wine shows a deep red/black color with aromas of ripe morello cherry, black raspberry and elderberry, quite deep and meaty with hints of menthol, juniper, dark chocolate and black pepper. The palate shows dense, chalky, ripe black raspberry, cherry and black plum liqueur, beautifully balanced and fresh, with hints of cocoa, citrus peel, humus and minerals with a beautiful finish of bright, sappy fruit and stone flavors. This is a beautiful wine - a bit intense for drinking now, but with a long decant it will be lovely. Best after three to five years, drink till 2035 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
A price reduction from the importer enables us to sell the last two cases at a lower price - take advantage! "Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Wines from this vineyard are built to age and this rare bottling from Domaine de la Chevalerie is a beautiful example. 2012 Loire reds are not big wines, but they have lovely bright fruit and are beautifully balanced with refreshing acidity. The 2012 "Grand Mont" shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with violet, earth, dark chocolate, citrus and game. The palate shows silky tannins and complex red and black fruits - beautifully balanced with bright acidity and mineral flavors. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last. Open the day before if drinking now, this will be a beautiful mature wine. David Lillie
1989, the first of two dry, sunny seasons, is the best vintage for Loire reds since 1947. With terrific ripeness, the wines also had firm acidities leading to beautiful balance and the ability to age for twenty to thirty years and more. We haven't tasted this wine recently but it remains our favorite vintage for "Les Picasses," with 1990, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2010 following behind, though of course we like them all...
Another great vintage for the Raffault "Les Picasses," 1990 was the second of two hot, dry summers, producing wines that were lush, round and very ripe but lacking the perfect balance of the 1989s. Having said that, many people have preferred this vintage to 1989, finding it more velvety and forward.
The Baudry Chinon "Domaine" is always one of our favorite reds from the Loire Valley and it's a sensational value as well. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin sandy clay over limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, 2 week wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old barrels or cement vats, bottled two Springs after harvest, with minimal added SO2, unfiltered. The Baudrys are making elegant, soulful, natural wines from their superb terroirs in Chinon. The 2016 Cuvée Domaine is a beautiful wine, showing a deep black/red color with complex aromas of black raspberry and red currant with musk, earth, violet and black pepper. On the palate the elegant black and red fruits are joined by cocoa, bitter chocolate, plum skin and intense mineral flavors that are framed in firm acidity. The texture is silky, yet earthy and stony with a bracing mineral finish and the lingering memory of bright red fruits. In other words, it's a delicious Chinon that will benefit from aeration or a few years in the cellar. Hold a few bottles until 2040 for a nice surprise. David Lillie
"Les Grézeaux" is at the bottom of the slope in Sonnay on a plateau of gravel with sandy clay soils above limestone that slopes gently down towards the Vienne, the vines are 60 to 70 years old. The wine is aged in five to ten year-old barrels with no added SO2, with a tiny amount added prior to bottling. Tasted from barrel in January of 2017 and 2018, the wine showed beautifully with very floral black fruit aromas and lovely density on the palate with black raspberry, spice and earth, firm and balanced but not overly tannic, with lush fruit lingering in the very long finish. This is a bit firmer and should cellar better than the more forward 2015 - it's a beautiful wine but we have about one-third of the normal allocation, so don't delay. Tasted from bottle in November 2018, the aromas seem brighter, crushed raspberry and black raspberry with stone, spice and floral hints. The palate is tighter and sapid with the mineral components firmly backing the dense black fruits, with stone, citrus and blackberries in the finish. Drink the 2015 now and put this away for five years, or give it a long decant if drinking now. Lovely wine. David Lillie
This rare and beautiful Chenin Blanc is from the top of the "Croix Boissée" parcel on eroded limestone. The wine ferments very slowly in 500 liter toneaux until dry - less than 2 g/l residual sugar. The 2017 Croix Blanc is superbly elegant with aromas of pear, white peach, almond and lime-flower. The palate is supple, with lovely ripe fruit, but also shows firm acidity and chalky minerals. Delicious now, but ten to fifteen years of aging will be very interesting. Serve with fish or chicken in sauce and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie