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Domaine de la Chevalerie
It's no secret that we love the Bourgueils from Stephanie Caslot and her family at Domaine de la Chevalerie. Just arrived are three sensational wines that any lover of Loire reds should try - the 2015 "Les Galichets," the 2015 "Chevalerie" and - drum roll please - the 2014 "Grand-Mont!" "Grand-Mont" is a new wine for the Caslots, having acquired the parcel in 2009. It's one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a high, south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. After 5 years of biodynamic farming and with their superb no-nonsense vinification, the 2014 "Grand-Mont" joins the ranks of great Loire Reds and is a superb candidate for long-term cellaring - only 60 bottles are available as the production of this wine is extremely small. The "Chevalerie" vineyard is a mid-slope parcel with clay and alluvial soils over the limestone, giving a well-structured wine for ten to fifteen-plus years of aging that is also delicious in it's youth. Particularly ripe and round in 2015, it's a superb Bourgueil at a very reasonable price. The nearby "les Galichets" parcel is a little lower on the hill, giving a more forward wine - it's always one of our favorite Bourgueils to drink young and it's a fantastic value...
Domaine Bernard and Matthieu Baudry
2018 is proving to be a great vintage for the reds of Touraine - there is superb ripeness and depth, with a vibrant character and good acidity. The wines to drink young are simply delicious and the ageworthy wines show perfect balance and structure, with a bit more alcohol than usual - all this by way of introduction for the wonderful 2018 Baudry Chinon "les Granges!" The vines were planted between 1985 and 1988 in sandy gravel soils near the Vienne river. I think I've tasted every vintage of this wine, which seems to get better almost every year as the vines age, and the 2018 is definitely the most impressive to date. Served a bit cool it's a sheer delight to drink over the next five years. 2016 gave beautifully structured Chinons for aging and one of the best is the Baudry "Le Clos Guillot." This will be a profound mature wine, best perhaps 2030 - 2045. Not much is left and yes, our case discount applies...
Domaine Vincent Gaudry
The thoughtful and good-natured Vincent Gaudry has quietly been making some of the very finest wines in Sancerre for many years. The domaine, based in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic since 1993 and was perhaps the first certified Biodynamic estate in Sancerre. There are 9 hectares of vines, eight of Sauvignon Blanc and one of Pinot Noir and Pint Fin, on the three main soil types of Sancerre. New plantings are all massale selection from a parcel of 90 year-old vines, harvesting is by hand, fermentations are with wild yeasts and aging is in vat or old barrels. Just arrived are the superb 2019 Sancerre "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" from 50+ year-old vines on clay/limestone (Terres Blanches) soils and the 2019 "Constellation du Scorpion," from a small parcel of old massale selection vines on silex soils over limestone that is fermented and aged in old barrels.
Vincent makes two outstanding Sancerre rouges: the sensational all Pinot Fin "La Garenne" (coming this winter) and the delicious "Vincengétorix" made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Fin. The 2017 Vincentgétorix has just arrived - the great farming at Gaudry really brings out the earth and mineral notes in the wine, along with the lovely floral and spicy cherry fruit, making this a treat for any lover of red Burgundy! These are my favorite Sancerres, I hope you will try them! David Lillie
"Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Benais - a high, south-facing slope on yellow 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. They started to produce it in 2009, and they consider it their grande cuvée. The wine ages in a one-year-old barrel and several older barrels for 7 months, bottled unfined unfiltered. 2014 Loire reds are superb - it was not an easy vintage for the winemakers, but the results were often fabulous, especially at Chevalerie, with a perfect balance of ripe black and red fruits with firm earthy acidity. The 2014 "Grand Mont" shows a very dark black/purple color with elegant aromas of black raspberry and blackberry 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 flavours. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last, really a perfect Bourgueil that will become a profound mature wine in ten to fifteen years - then drink until 2045 and beyond. Open the day before if drinking now, paired with a confit rabbit with cardamon & juniper served with roasted celeriac, or a coq-au-vin. 100% Cabernet Franc. David Lillie / Pascaline Lepeltier.
The Chevalerie "Galichets" vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoil, 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, while retaining the core of minerals and acidity aslways found in the Chevalerie wines. The aromas of black raspberry and blackberry fruit are ripe and floral. The palate is dense and silky, very mineral with ripe red and black fruits and a clean vibrant finish. Still quite youthful, I would open this bottle the night before or give it a long decant, best perhaps 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
La Chevalerie is located between the Galichets and the winery, slightly higher on the slope, with more clay on the top part. The Turonian tuffeau is not even three feet below. The oldest vines date from 1903 and 1922, the average being 75 years. The sandier part of the plot goes into the Galichets. This cuvée is a perfect introduction to the more “serious” tuffeau driven bottlings of the domaine. You still get the flesh and texture brought by the sand, you also pick up the racy, salty and fresh acidity typical of the tuffeau. The 2015 is now showing all its potential, after a quick decanting. An easier, more complete vintage compared to 2014 according to Stéphanie Caslot, the wine is showing concentration yet a lot of delicacy, with a noticeable floral bouquet, and more red berries as it ages. A little sweetness on the attack indicates a perfect ripeness, then you feel the limestone backbone on the terroir, with a juicy sandy flesh and lingering chalky tannins make it ultra appealing. The fruit is a nice mix of red and black plum and cherry, with Chinese badiane and coriander seed, finishing with a great mix of salt, smoke and leather. Without a doubt a great bottle at a terrific price, you can cellar it for 5 years and more, then enjoy until 2035, or serve it in large glass, quickly decanted, with any red meat with a poivre sauce, or a rack of lamb in Provençale herbs crust. 100% Cabernet Franc. Pascaline Lepeltier.
From 30 to 35 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay and limestone near the Vienne river in organic agriculture. Hand harvested, fermented with wild yeasts, ages for 8 to 10 months in cement vats, minimal addition of SO2 prior to bottling. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. In the great 2018 vintage the wine is a sheer delight! 10 to 20% of the crop was lost to mildew, and the remaining berries were small but very ripe. Tasted at the domain in January 2019, the wine showed a deep black purple color with vibrant, lush aromas of cassis, red currant and boysenberry with deep sweet black raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate, surprisingly bright and balanced given the extra ripeness of the vintage. This is a superb Chinon to drink a bit cool over the next five to eight years - there should be a good quantity available but don't delay in trying this very special "basic" wine! David Lillie
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful southeast-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 permits a tiny production from franc de pied vines) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barrels (most purchased in Burgundy and untreated with sulfur), 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since its first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In the low-yielding 2016 vintage Le Clos Guillot is particularly elegant and age-worthy, showing floral aromas of Italian plum, black cherry and blackberry. The palate is perfectly balanced, dense and deep but not fat with elegant chalky black fruit and mineral flavors that continue in the very long finish. A bottle opened a day before showed more complex, floral aromas, but a tighter palate - of course this wine can be enjoyed young but peak drinking will be 2027 - 2045+. Given the reasonable price, this belongs in your cellar! (Normal case discounts apply) Another Bravo! to Matthieu and Bernard Baudry... David Lillie
The extra weight and density brought by the sunny 2018 vintage, combined with great minerality, makes this Sancerre a beautiful and crowd-pleasing choice for Thanksgiving. The extraordinary "Constellation du Scorpion" is from a small parcel of old massale-selection vines on silex soils over limestone and is fermented and aged in old barrels. The wine shows subtle aromas of dried pear and apple, almond, lemon verbena, wet stone, honeysuckle and white pepper - ripe but very fresh and bright. There is a very mineral attack on the palate with flint and earth flavors, grilled almond, dried pear, lemon peel, anise and apricot with lovely ripeness and a saline, mineral aspect in the finish which is elegant, clean and long with lingering white fruits. This is a young and racy Sancerre that will accompany oysters, shellfish, grilled fish and white meats and should develop beautifully with three to five years of cellaring - it's an outstanding Sancerre and a great value at this price. David Lillie
Domaine Vincent Gaudry, located in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic and Biodynamic certified beginning in 1993. The 2017 "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" is from 50+ year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and is fermented naturally with wild yeasts. This is an outstanding Sancerre showing elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince, almond, citrus and lime-flower, really quite lovely. The palate is fresh and lively with dried pear, flint, smoke and herbal flavors, very silky and elegant and happily unlike most modern Sancerres. The stone and subtle fruit flavors continue in the refreshing finish, making this a superb food wine with anything from oysters to grilled fish and fish and chicken in sauce. And Crottin de Chavignol, of course. Highly recommended and a good value! David Lillie
This Sancerre Rouge from Vincent Gaudry is the perfect introduction to fall. Drinking and breathing in this wine is like a walk through a well-manicured forest. The nose is all dried leaves, dried roses, and tree bark with moss, and the palate brings ripe and dried red fruits. "Vincengétorix" is a beautiful example of what Pinot Noir, and particularly the rarely found Pinot Fin clone, is capable of. The wine is biodynamically farmed, with whole-cluster fermentation, minimal SO2, and aged in used barrels, which allows it to truly display the terroir of Sancerre, more famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, but was historically known for its Pinot Noir. More concentrated and structured than many of today's Sancerre Rouge, it has plush tannins, a softer acidity, and a clean, stony finish. I know this wine will only continue to evolve with years of cellar-aging, but it is a pleasure to enjoy right now. Michelle DeWyngaert