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Although Chambers Street Wines has become known as a great source for properly cellared old and rare wines, we are equally proud to offer organically-farmed, naturally-made artisanal wines that offer superb value for everyday drinking. A new shipment has just arrived from one of our favorite, over-achieving French estates - Domaine Eric Laguerre, one of the finest domains in the Roussillon, with high-altitude mountain vineyards producing superb wines of terroir. A visit to Eric in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet requires steep climbs through a mountain pass up to the highest vineyards in the Roussillon. Here the granite soils, cooler climate, very low yields and Eric's superb organic farming produce distinctive, balanced wines with bright fruit and firm acidities.
The top wines here are named after a flowering bush called Ciste that grows throughout the vineyards, contributing to biodiversity and wind protection. Le Ciste Blanc, recommended to us by Jean Gonon, is a unique blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu, and is one of the most interesting whites of southern France. Le Ciste Rouge is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains, made with Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan - fabulously complex with the ripeness balanced by the earthy acidity present in all the Laguerre wines.
The Eos Cuvées - Rouge, Blanc and Rosé - are particularly distinctive and delicious in 2018 - they represent fantastic value and are worth buying by the case for your summer entertaining and everyday enjoyment. Our thanks to Eric and Corinne for producing such beautiful and affordable wines!
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2017 is made from equal parts Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle, Vermentino and 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 terroir. 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 delicious 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
"Eos Blanc" is a rewarding discovery for anyone seeking an intriguing wine of terroir 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 2018 is made from 40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 20% Rolle (Vermentino). The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, almond, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, round and supple but balanced and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and is a lovely aperitif by itself. DL
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 2018 shows beautiful ripe cherry and red currant fruit with blood orange and spice. The palate is full-bodied, round and ripe with supple red currant and black cherry fruit with citrus, stone and refreshing acidity. Eric's great farming, his natural vinifications and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Serve with grilled tuna, chicken and pork, salad Niçoise or by itself as a lovely apéritif. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Eric Laguerre's "Eos Rouge" is an elegant blend of 80% Grenache from 40-year-old gobelet-trained vines, with some Carignan and Syrah from soils of decomposed granite, gneiss, and some veins of quartz. Like "Le Passage," the grapes are fermented in fiber tanks with native yeasts for about two weeks, then aged in concrete. The beautiful 2018 shows bright aromas of cherry, strawberry and black raspberry with hints of blueberry and musk from the Syrah, quite pretty and pure. The palate shows a potpourri of ripe red and black fruits, with earth, cocoa and spice in a refreshing frame of cool acidity and mineral flavors. The high altitude and the primarily granite soils give Eric's wines a bright and vibrant character that makes them great pairings with a wide variety of foods - we loved it with a grilled burger from grass-fed beef, but grilled pork and chicken would be great as well. This is one of the best values in the store - thanks to Eric and Corinne Laguerre for their great organic farming and delicious, affordable wines! David Lillie
Every day, Eric rambles up the dramatically inclined and winding dirt passage in his 1977 Toyota Land Cruiser to his highest parcel, at about 2,000 feet in the Roussillon. It's fascinating to watch, if you're not in the back seat! "Le Passage" is a charmingly rustic blend of 65% Syrah and 35% Carignan. The 2017 is a deep red color with effusive aromas of ripe blackberries, violets, and black pepper. This cuvée showcases all of the elegant savoriness of Syrah, plus Carignan's "good" side: earthy, firmly tannic, with notes of cocoa, dried herbs, and tangy acidity. This wine is approachable now and pairs with a variety of food. This was recently enjoyed with strong sheep's milk cheese and lamb kebabs. 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 a layered blend of de-stemmed and whole cluster Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre from soils of decomposed granite and gneiss. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented separately and aged for 12 months in barrel, then assembled in fiber tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. This vintage is evocative of the 2014 with softer, finer tannins compared to the robust 2015. The aromas are complex and redolent of savory herbs (thyme, garrigue), game, black peppercorn, blood orange, and dark chocolate. The palate is balanced with mouth-coating, powdery tannins, dried herbs, black pepper, and an energetic, long mineral finish from the granite soils. Best served with a slight chill alongside grilled meat, charcuterie, cheese, or veggies roasted with Moroccan spices. This is drinking well now, but should be even better in 5-8 years. Amanda Bowman