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Ah Spring. Our strolls are more colorful, our days are longer, and our thirst is stronger. It's time for dining al fresco, for picnics, and kicking up your galoshes for a tipple or two! We know that you are busy planting, cleaning, and planning -- so we handpicked some french wines for you to enjoy with the lighter fare and open air! Amanda Bowman
From the south-facing Bollenberg lieu-dit in Orschwir, a hill that stands apart from the foothills of the Vosges. The soils are iron-rich clays. The vines are farmed biodynamically, the grapes undergo extreme selection before fermentation with native yeasts and aging in large Vosges casks. The 2014 Sylvaner Bollenberg offers enticing aromas of apricot, cool crushed herbs, golden apple skin, and apple blossoms. The palate is fresh and lively, with flavors of perfectly ripe stone fruit, faint tropical notes, a bracing herbaceousness, and an incisively savory finish. The 2014 embodies the charm of Sylvaner, while expressing enough stoniness to captivate the most ardent rock fan. A fine pairing with poached chicken with salsa verde and grand with a ripe triple crème cheese, this would enliven lighter fish preparations and make for a splendid apéritif. John McIlwain
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2015 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own.
"Aligo-Rythm" is 100% Aligote from our friend Julien Guillot in the Mâcon. This low S02 (1g!), bone-dry, saline treat is the perfect match for oysters. The 2017 shows a bit hazy in the glass and offers aromas of lime blossom, green pear, and funky seaweed. The palate is bracingly dry with flavors of lime zest, sea salt, and Granny Smith apple. A fun wine to help you keep cool as the weather warms up! Amanda Bowman
The Moussamoussettes is back! A Chambers Street favorite, this years rendition is a blend of Grolleau Gris and Gamay. The 2018 is totally dry with flavorful and vibrant strawberry and tart cherry fruit. A rejuvenating Pet-Nat from our friend Agnes and René Mosse.
80% Pinot Gris and 20% Riesling from Philippe Brand in Alsace. There's a delicate floral aroma here, and plenty of orchard fruit on the nose (apples and pears). Ripe, with long mineral finish and a subtle oxidative lean, it should be a welcome addition to a picnic - flavorful enough to stand up to food, and with plenty of acidity to cleanse the palate! EL
If you'll forgive, the flight of fancy, Savoie whites tug at the heartstrings. A snowmelt swollen mountain stream overflowing its banks and washing thru a meadow of wildflowers fresh. Shimmering afternoon sunlight thru leaves, a suspicion of a breeze, Springtime in the glass! John McIlwain
Thomas Finot makes this refreshing "tractor white" from Chardonnay, Jacquère and Pinot Gris grown in the Coteaux Grésivaudan, northeast of Grenoble. This is a delightful everyday wine, featuring lovely aromas of pear, quince, almond, hay and brown spice. The palate is ripe but balanced and lively with bright acidity, showing flavors of pear, melon, almond, citrus and stone. Serve happily by itself or with fish in sauce, roast chicken, salads and mild cheeses. David Lillie
In 2007, the energetic and talented Thomas Finot discovered the terroirs of the Coteaux Grésivaudan - a valley with steep mountainsides extending northeast from Grenoble, just north of Savoie. Here he is rescuing local grape varieties such as Verdesse, Persan and Etraire de la Dhuy and also making delicious and affordable vin de soif - in this case the Tracteur Rouge, a light, refreshing blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The 2017 shows a lovely ruby red color in the glass and offers pretty aromas of muddled strawberry, raspberry and tart cherry with hints of violet, earth, and spice. The palate is bright and slightly peppery showing strawberry and red currant fruit with a nice lift of earth and citrus in the finish. It's lovely, served quite cool, with charcuterie, burgers, chicken and cheeses from Comté to Raclette. David Lillie
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). The 2016 Crôzes-Hermitage is a delicious Syrah showing pretty of blackberry liqueur, with hints of blueberry, floral and ripe. The palate is elegant with lush, but not over-ripe fruit, and perfectly balanced with red berry fruits and citrus notes in the refreshing finish. This is a stylish Crôzes and a great value that will accompany a wide variety of pork and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool. David Lillie
"Eos Blanc" is a rewarding discovery for anyone seeking an intriguing wine of terrioir at an affordable price. Eric Laguerre's vineyards are planted at high-altitude in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet, where the acidic soils are composed of gneiss and broken-down granite with some pockets of quartz. This composition forms a sturdy backbone of dense minerality and abundant freshness to this "entry-level" cuvée -- a testament to Eric's excellent farming. The 2017 is made from direct press juice, aged in neutral demi-muid for about eight months with minimal added S02 before bottling. The wine shows pale gold in the glass and immediately charms with bright citrus aromas that evolve into notes of ripe pear, hazelnut, garrigue, and warm apricot skins on the palate. This was the first vintage that the Laguerres harvested in August due to the extreme heat in 2017. Despite this, the wine drinks pure and fresh with an invigorating mineral acidity that lingers on the herbal finish. A fantastic every day wine with potential to age 3-5 years, though we're happily drinking this now with or without salad and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is made from equal parts Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and a small addition of Macabeu. Each parcel is hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented separately with native yeasts and raised in used demi-muid. This superlative cuvée is a fascinating showcase of the Roussillon's mighty terrior. The acidic soils of decomposed granite give this wine excellent mineral tension that deepens with time in bottle. Aromas are intricately woven with notes of bright lemon oil, verbena, sage, and salty seashells. The palate is supple and round with generous flavors of pear, white flowers, thyme, and almond framed by pure mineral acidity. This is a fantastic wine that is delicouis now but will develop a beautiful honeyed texture and rich flavors after 5-10 years in bottle. Eric recommends pairing this with sardines on toast, goat cheeses, and roasted chicken. Amanda Bowman
(Was $13.99) Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinification and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended!
We're very excited about the Cuvee Dentelle from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 10 cases for the US allocation.The 2016 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, dried herbs, almond, mint, apricot, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with a bit of botrytis. The finish is very long and intense with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
Samuel Billaud's 2016 is a classically styled Chablis. White flowers, ground oyster shells, and sea spray on the nose. Flinty, mineral with salty and citrus notes on the precisely detailed, layered palate. This is a fine Chablis to grace the table. Give this a touch of air and enjoy with a plate of oysters, pan-roasted scallops, or better still, skate wings with brown butter, ramps, and capers. John McIlwain
"1 Litre à boire d'une traite" - A bottle to drink in one go - We think the message makes things pretty clear: this is a fresh, fun bottle of Gamay that is dangerously easy to drink. Mineral, with spicy red fruits and well worth a light chill. A bovine beverage that's "Vachement Delicieux!" EL
Hervé Villemade's 2017 Cheverny Blanc is a lovely and versatile wine, made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay grown on flinty sand and clay soils. The wine shows pretty aromas of pear, citrus, almond and stone with hints of boxwood and white flowers. The palate is supple with white and yellow fruits, ripe citrus, a bit of anise and herbal flavors and is nicely balanced with firm acidity. This is a delicious and refreshing everyday white that will accompany most seafood dishes, chicken, white meats and goat cheeses. David Lillie
From multiple parcels in limestone clay soils (Les Millerands, En Monatine, Les Herbeux, Les Malpoiriers, per the importer). Biodynamically farmed and fermented with indigenous yeasts. There's a bit of reduction on opening—a splash decant helps it blow off, revealing a perfumed nose with aromas of honeysuckle, lemon blossom, citrus peel, ripe pear, and spice. The palate is bright and racy with notes of lemon curd, green apple, and wet stone. There’s a fine bit of the electricity, vibrancy, and precision of the 2016 vintage present and plenty of charm to this snappy Bourgogne. John McIlwain
A 100% Pinot Noir from certified organic Domaine Robert Barbichon in Gye sur Seine in the Côte des Bar, the 2014 Coteaux rouge is a bright, racy wine that offers aromas of wild strawberry, pomegranate, wild cherry, and forest floor. The palate is lithe, stony, and fresh with succulent red fruit flavors and a fine-grained minerality. The wine has great panache and is an invigorating, thirst-quenching option for dining al fresco. John McIlwain
A fabulous Crémant made from Chardonnay and Savagnin from Peggy and Jean-Pascal's beautiful organic vineyards in La Combe de Rotalier. True to the style of this limestone-rich part of the Jura, their wine shows much more lean and mineral than oxidative. The nose shows invigorating aromas of tart apple, green tea, and white flowers. The palate is taut with a linear quince spice acidity with savory notes of sea salt, apple, and lemon curd. A delicious, mouth-watering sparkling wine to pair with salty fried foods, cheeses, or as an apéro! Amanda Bowman