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We're happy to offer another delicious group of new arrivals and returning favorites from the Loire Valley, featuring three great mature examples of the beautiful Chinon "Les Picasses" from Domaine Olga Raffault! And the vibrant and juicy 2018 Loire reds keep coming with a special nod to the superb 2018 "La Guerrerie" from the Clos du Tue-Bœuf, two-thirds Cot and one-third Gamay, a beautiful natural wine made with zero additives.
For a fascinating overview of the Loire Valley, Racines NY will present a selection of six wines from some of our very favorite producers, each wine will be a different varietal, showcasing the diversity of styles and grapes in this most fascinating of wine regions: 2018 Vincent Gaudry Sancerre "Constellation du Scorpion" (Sauvignon Blanc), 2017 La Lunotte (Christophe Foucher) Vin de France "Haut Plessis" (Menu Pineau), 2017 François Chidaine Montouis-sur-Loire "Les Bournais" (Chenin Blanc), 2018 Domaine de la Roche Bleue Coteaux du Loir "La Belle d'Aunis" (Pineau d'Aunis), 2014 Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil "Grand Mont" (Cabernet Franc) and the Tessier "Roger Tessier" (Romorantin) Moelleux! This Tuesday night at 6, 8 and 10pm, six half-pours $40, to reserve click here.
Domaine Olga Raffault
We're happy to again feature the beautiful Chinons of our friends Sylvie Raffault and Eric de la Vigerie at Domaine Olga Raffault, who are doing great work at this important Loire Valley estate, now practicing organic farming. The Raffaults have once again released a small quantity of older wines, giving us a unique and wonderful opportunity to experience mature Chinon from good vintages. Prices have crept up a bit, but these bottles, direct from the cellars in Savigny-en-Véron, are a beautiful taste of history. Although I would not equate 1985 with 1989 and 1990, I've tasted many superb Loire reds from this vintage, notably from Pierre Breton and Stéphane Guion. 1989 is regarded as the great Loire vintage of that era - in this first of two sunny, warm vintages, the soils retained adequate moisture to give balanced wines with superb fruit and firm acidities. In 1990 the wines were a bit softer, but with beautiful ripeness, and they are drinking beautifully as they age. 2014 is one of my favorite recent vintages for Loire reds - not big wines, but possessing perfect acidity and balance and pure, bright fruit - the 2014 Picasses is delicous now and will cellar beautifully. (Wines arrive Monday 10/28)
Clos du Tue-Bœuf & Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme
The Puzelat brothers, Thierry and Jean-Marie, and their former partner, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, make superb natural wines in and around Les Montils in eastern Touraine. The three wines offered today capture the beautiful lush fruit of the 2018 vintage in the Loire Valley and show the characteristics of the region's unique flinty clay soils. The Tue-Boeuf "La Guerrerie" is two-thirds Cot (Malbec) and one-third Gamay. 2018 is a great vintage for this wine, and is quite liimited in quantity - Loire lovers should grab some to drink now or over the next ten years. Made from 45 - 70 year old vines, the Tue-Bœuf "La Butte" is one of the most beautiful Gamays of the Loire and is simply outstanding in 2018. It shows the ripeness of the vintage but remains refreshing and bright. (Both Tue-Bœuf wines are produced without added SO2). From Pierre-O Bonhomme, "Le Telquel" is always one of the most vibrant vin-de-soif you can find, and in 2018 it's especially delicious, made from 80% Gamay and 20% Cabernet Franc. This is currently in short supply so don't delay in grabbing a case or two!
Julien Pineau (Clos Roche Blanche)
Julien Pineau took over one-half the Clos Roche Blanche, one our favorite Loire Valley domains, producing his first vintage in 2015, working with 6 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Côt, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and, appropriately, Pineau D'Aunis. In the vines, the inherited greatness of the Clos's terroir remains respected: the land is worked by horse and the soils are permitted to exist in harmony with the hundreds of plants and insects that inhabit them. Julien's wife is an agronomist, so future plans for the land include fruit trees and free-roaming animals to push poly-culture to the next level. In the cellar, no addition of sulfur is used at any point and Julien favors long élevages of his cuvées, often releasing them 12 to 24 months after harvest. The 2017 "Ecume de Nuits" is normally all Cabernet Franc, but due to frost and tiny yields, Julien used all his Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cot in this cuvée. Very earthy and complex with a core of dense black fruits laced with saline minerals, it's a wine of contemplation that will benefit from decanting and should age extremely well. Julien's 2018 "Sucettes a l'Aunis" is more forward and juicy, displaying the unique bright fruit of Pineau d'Aunis in an earthy, natural style. Lovers of natural wines, or the Clos Roche Blanche, should try both these fine efforts from Julien! (Wines arrive Monday 10/28)
Domaine Francois and Julien Pinon
We particularly enjoy adding "and Julien" to Domaine Francois Pinon, as Julien's grandparents were in charge when we first visited in 1981! The young Julien, a former city planner, rejoined the estate a few years ago and is making great contributions at this superb domain, organic since 2003, and certainly one of the finest producers in Vouvray. Domaine Pinon makes a Vouvray Sec and a variety of moelleux wines, but the estate's most important productions are three 'tradition" or demi-sec wines from different soils and parcels, all on turonian limestone bedrock: "Les Trois Argiles" from sandy clay soils; "Silex Noir" from clay with black flint, and "Les Deronnières" from very shallow flinty clay soils in a beautiful parcel above the winery. All by way of introduction to the 2016 "Le Seize." Due to tiny yields caused by frost, then by hail, the Pinons produced only one wine blended together from the three parcels in 2016 - with yields of only 11 hl/ha, the wine is dense, complex and perfectly structured, with the slight sweetness balanced by very firm acidity and mineral flavors. While this wine is delicious now, it will age beautifully and is a worthy candidate for long-term cellaring. Speaking of long-term cellaring, we have tasted many old vintages of the Pinon's Vouvray Brut and we can assure you that the 2015 Brut Non-Dosé will be a sensational mature wine - and of course it's superb now, certainly one of the World's Greatest Values in sparkling wine! (2015 Brut Non-Dosé arrives 10/29)
100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon's only white wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaces the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. The vines average 40 years in age, are certified organic and were hand-harvested from October 10-18. Fermentation took place spontaneously with natural yeasts and lasted 2-3 months in wood vats. The wine was aged 4-5 months on its fine lees in old tonneaux (large oak barrels) and gently filtered before bottling in April 2017 with 22.4 grams/liter of residual sugar and 5.5 g/L total acid. Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone . Technically a Demi-Sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray. 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.
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.
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...
1985 was a vintage for Loire reds that showed bright red fruits with aromas of bell-pepper and firm acidity. As is often the case with less sunny vintages in the Loire, the 1985s improved steadily over the years and we have tasted many superb examples, with the complex secondary aromas and flavors of dark fruits, sous-bois, mushroom and spice supported by the bright acidity.
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, with a bit of the gamey, musky aspect of old-school Chinon. 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 Domaine cuvée from Olga Raffault is made up mostly of young vines from the Barnabes vineyard, planted on sandy soils right by the Loire River. This is a fresh and easy-drinking Chinon, displaying notes of red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, plum, crushed violet, cracked black pepper, and green bell pepper. Very approachable with soft, medium tannins, this a great wine to drink while the Picasses is maturing. Oskar Kostecki
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 friendd Agnes and René Mosse and family.
From a small parcel of clay and silex on limestone, 2/3 Cot and 1/3 Gamay. 40 year-old vines, organic since 1996, aged in old barrels, large and small, zero added SO2. Thierry Puzelat was a pioneer of natural wine-making and he continues with this beautiful "Guerrerie" from the lovely 2018 vintage in the Loire Valley. The wine shows a bright red/black color, with beautiful lush blackberry and black raspberry aromas, floral, minty, ripe and deep; the palate is sappy and supple with bright blackberry and red currant liqueur, very long and balanced with lemony acidity - just a beautiful wine - luscious now but it should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of aging. Highly recommended! David Lillie
100% Gamay on clay and flint over limestone, organic and biodynamic farming. The 2018 La Butte shows a level of ripeness never seen before in this wine with bright, deep strawberry and raspberry aromas with pretty floral notes. Quite dense red fruits on the palate, supple and textured, really lovely with the lush fruit lifted by refreshing acidity. This is just plain yummy and will accompany just about anything. David Lillie
This "poil dur" is wagging its tail again in 2018, showing the extra ripeness of this great vintage in the Loire Valley, with juicy aromas of blackberry, rose, spice and citrus. It's Gamay with a bit of Cabernet Franc in this vintage, with an extra layer of ripeness, and nice density of bright blackberry fruit, a bit floral and spicy. Quite refreshing with good length of lush berry fruits and citrusy acids in the finish. Serve a bit cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork - just delicious! David Lillie
From Jullien Pineau, new proprietor of vines at the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine, comes this earthy and beautiful Pineau d'Aunis, organic farming of course and zero added sulfur. The wine shows lovely aromas of bright raspberry fruit with citrus peel, rose petal and white pepper; there is a prety blend of raspberry, cranberry and red currant fruit on the palate with flavors of earth and minerals backed by refreshing acidity. This is a delightful natural wine that will accompany a wide variety of lighter meat dishes, served cool. David Lillie
The 2017 "Ecume de Nuits" is normally all Cabernet Franc, but due to frost and tiny yields, Julien used all his Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cot in this cuvée. Very earthy and complex with a core of dense black fruits laced with saline minerals, it's a wine of contemplation and a great expression of this famous vineyard that will benefit from decanting and should age extremely well.
From a plot of old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2015 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, Aromas are transcendent to summer days with notes of crushed seashells, honeysuckle, and warm apricot skins. Flavors of briny half-shell, pear, and almond skin cascade with bright lemon and honey comb. This is delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex. The fermentation lasts 4 to 6 weeks without added yeast or sugar. 2015 is a beautiful year for this wine as the good weight and density of the vintage are balanced by firm acidity, contributing to the elegance and structure of this cuvée. The wine shows aromas of citrus peel, pear, green apple brioche, fines herbes, white flowers and stone, really quite elegant. The palate is creamy and dense, with pear, parsnip(?), stone, anise, mineral, herbal and bitter lemon flavors on the palate. (Sorry for the overwrought description, but the wine is extraodinary!) The mousse is fine and refreshing and there is fabulous length of white fruits and stone flavors lingering in the finish. This very young wine is superb now but is a great candidate for extended aging - for twenty years or more - a few years ago we tasted a 1976 Pinon Brut that was sensational! Highly recommended! 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
This is usually our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "Les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray and without the silex present in most Montlouis terroirs. The 2017 is a beautiful example of this wine with lovely aromas of lemon confit, kiwi, pear, lime-flower, honey and earth, with subtle hints of crushed raspberry as well. The palate is dense and creamy with chalky ripe pear and citrus fruits with a long, lush finish of stone, white fruits, anise and citrus. (Lush but dry at only 2.3 gr RS/L) This is a beautiful Montlouis that will perfectly accompany lobster, fish or white meats in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses. It's delicious now, and should be very interesting after ten to fifteen years in the cellar. David Lillie
This is a superb Menu Pineau from Christophe Fouche at La Lunotte, combining density of fruit with the unusual high-acid character of the grape. From very low-yielding vineyards above the Cher river, near St Aignan in Touraine, it's a richer style than those of Villemade and Tue-Boeuf. Christophe transfers his wines from tank into small barrels as soon as the fermentation is under way, where they stay until bottling by hand without filtration. The 2017 is a bright pale gold/bronze color with beautiful aromas that combine slight oxidation with lemon, pear, almond, anise, and mineral notes; on the palate the wine is rich and sappy backed by the very high acidity with flavors of toasted almond, dried pear, citrus, caramel and wildflowers. Serve this unique wine with full-flavored oysters, fish and white meat dishes, or just sip and enjoy! David Lillie
The talented Sébastien Cornille is making some of the most beautiful wines in Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir - The 2018 "Belle d'Aunis" is 100% Pineau d'Aunis from old vines in clay with silex soils over limestone in the Coteaux du Loir; 15 day semi-carbonic maceration, slow pressing and assembly with the "jus de goutte" followed by aging in 3 to 4 year-old barrels. The wine shows a bright red/garnet color with elegant aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose petal with white pepper and earth. The palate shows chalky, sappy raspberry and tart cherry fruit, light but dense, elegant and long with earthy acidity lingering in the finish. Refreshing and delicious now, this should be quite interesting after three to five years in the cellar. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The 2015 "Roger Tessier" is a super Moelleux Romorantin, at 37 grams RS per liter, showing fabulous aromas and flavors of white fruits, citrus peel, melon, hay, almond... Just a beautiful wine, a rare and delicious example of Romorantin!