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Finally, one can now find organic and Biodynamic certified wines among the great growths of Bordeaux - Château Palmer (Troisième Grand Cru Classé), certified Biodynamic (Demeter) can be purchased for about $400 per bottle and Château Latour (Premier Grand Cru Classé) for a mere $1,500 or so. Fortunately for us, the "satellite" regions of Bordeaux, and even the appellation Saint-Émilion, are home to dozens of small estates producing organic, Biodynamic and natural Bordeaux that are healthy, delicious and affordable!
First, a trio of estates practicing organic and Biodynamic agriculture - Château du Champ des Treilles (Sainte-Foy Bordeaux), our friends the Huberts at Château Peybonhomme-les-Tours (Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux) and Chateau Le Geai (Bordeaux Superieur) where Henri Duporge is creating fascinating wines of terroir on his small estate north of Pomerol. The vines at Le Geai are on south-facing slopes above the river Isle with soils of clay with sand, high in iron, over the limestone bedrock. The grapes here are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a large percentage of Carménère Noire. Fermentations are of course with wild yeasts, with minimal or zero sulfur added, and aging is in old barrels or amphora. Unusual at le Geai is the percentage of Carménère Noire - very little of this ancient variety still exists in France and M. Duporge is perhpaps the only French winemaker to produce a pure Carménère. Of special note is the superb 2016 Le Grand G, a beautiful combination of minerals and complex fruit at a modest price.
From all accounts, Château Beauséjour has been producing credible organic wines in Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion long before any market in the world demanded it. The Dupuy family bought the 18 hectares on Saint Émilion’s plateau of clay and limestone in 1934 and have never once treated their vines with chemicals. With a passion for organic practices in both the vineyard and the cellar, third generation winemaker Gérard Dupuy crafts wines that reveal just how refreshing and bright Bordeaux can be. Natural techniques that many currently consider as innovative have been at the core of Château Beauséjour since before WWII- this means we can enjoy old school products that fit the mind and palate of today.
One of the more recognizable Bordeaux estates in the natural wine movement is vigneron Michel Theron’s Clos du Jaugueyron in Margaux and the Haut-Medoc. Theron’s first vintage was in 1993, years after moving to Bordeaux to study winemaking. Under his care, holdings dedicated to Jaugeueyron have grown to 7 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere. He has never treated these vines with herbicides or pesticides and has been certified bio since the 2008 vintage. Though not dense, those seeking highly notched structure and flavor can rely on the boldness of Theron’s creations.
We're happy to offer the wines of four estates in Saint-Émilion, all certified organic, and producing wines with more natural techniques, free of excess extraction and new oak. Chateau Coutet is located on the Saint-Martin de Lazarat hill, not far from the town of Saint-Émilion with neighbors Beausejour-Becot and Bellevue. "We have been organic 'depuis toujours'" (always) says the Beaulieu family, and no weed-killer or pesticide has ever been used (but with certification only in 2012) and indeed the estate is a unique oasis of green with very diverse vegetation, unusual in Bordeaux. The cepages here include 60% massale selection Merlot "Queue Rouge," 30% Cabernet Franc and 5% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. An old wooden press is used on the small-berried Merlot "Queue Rouge" and fermentations are with wild yeasts, also unusual in Bordeaux. The vines here grow on three different terroirs: limestone with thin brown soils on the Saint-Martin plateau; heavier clay/limestone soils on the Côte de Franc, and thin sandy clay with iron at the bottom of the slope next to Chateau L'Angelus. We found the wines here to be remarkably complex and pretty and are happy to offer the 2015 Coutet as well as the "second label," Chateau Belles-Cimes from 2016, both of which offer great value for Saint-Émilion of this quality.
We are also offering the end of our current stock from Château Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre. While not certified organic, both the vineyard work and vinifictions here are closer to the 19th century than the 21st. While we find the wines extraordinary, please note that only curious wine-lovers should purchase the wines as they bear little relation to modern Bordeaux and need many hours (or days) of aeration to reveal their secrets,,,,
And please inquire about gift and holiday dinner wines from estates such as Pichon Lalande, Gruaud Larose, Domaine de Chevalier and others, with more mature Bordeaux (1975 - 1996) available tomorrow, such as 1978 Beychevelle and many more...
This is a unique example of Bordeaux Blanc from one of the first organic and biodynamic properties in the region, located in the lesser-known Sainte-Foy. Corinne and Jean-Michel Comme started to replant these vineyards in 1998 using as little intervention as possible, avoiding pesticides, green harvesting, even tractor plowing, and using neutral oak for aging to allow each vintage to speak for itself. Grown on clay and limestone soils, the Vin de Passion displays a beautiful balance of texture, minerality, and ripe fruits. The blend is 1/3rd Sauvignon Blanc, 1/3rd Semillon, and 1/3rd Muscadelle, which gives the wine a richer, more viscous texture than a typical Bordeaux Blanc, but still maintains a balanced acidity. The nose is full of dried herbs, dried white flowers, and candle wax, and the palate brings green and yellow pear, white grapefruit, and more fresh and dried herbs. Fans of fuller bodied, more textured whites will love this year's 'Vin de Passion'. MD
Henri Duporge makes this unique wine from 100% Carmenere grown on his Biodynamic estate north of Pomerol. Only about 10 hectares of Carmenere still exist in Bordeaux, where it was used widely untill the phylloxera epidemic. Most closely related to Cabernet Franc, it's fascinating to taste the grape in its pure, unblended form, especially when grown on this great terroir of sandy clay, rich in iron, over the limestone bedrock. The 2016 shows a deep red/black color and very high-toned aromas of ripe cassis and red currant with earth, coffee and a hint of oak. The palate is bright and intense with red currant, plum and blackberry fruit, with herbal notes, not heavy, very pure and mineral and with vibrant character to the fruit. This will benefit from five to ten years of aging, but is unique and delicious now. David Lillie
This fantastic organically-farmed Saint Emilion is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, fermented in concrete tanks for 25 days and then aged for 22 months in first- and second-use barrels. With a beautiful minerality of clay and limestone, the wine shows the finesse and elegance of a great vintage. The bouquet is complex with dark berry, prune, plum, dry tobacco, cedar, violet and herbal notes and the palate is luscious with supple tannins, good acidity and a lingering finish. A delicious wine at a great value to drink with brisket, roasted lamb and hamburgers. You can also cellar the wine for several years (+7 years) if you would prefer to consume it later. Caroline Coursant
This is the ninth vintage of the Hubert family's "Blanc Bonhomme"which seems to get better every year. The vines are now 13 years old, 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon, certified organic and Biodynamic. The grapes are hand-harvested in the early morning, pressed gently, fermented with native yeasts and the wine is aged partly in new oak, mostly in cement vats. Only 650 cases are made. The 2018 shows elegant pear, lemon, herbal and dried flower aromas, with pear, ripe apple, citrus and chalky mineral flavors on the palate. A bit riper than previous vintages, but this really shows the terroir with crisp acidity, lovely white fruit, a hint of pineapple and oak and stony flavors in the finish. Really a lovely, balanced and food-friendly wine - serve with anything from oysters to grilled fish to roast chicken. David Lillie
This biodynamic wine from the region of Sainte-Foy in Bordeaux is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The wine offers a bouquet of dark berries and plums with a touch of menthol, iron and spices notes. With good acidity and soft tannins, this Bordeaux wine has a delicious easiness to it. Pair it with a classic "steak and frites" and you will be transported back to a French bistro experience. Caroline Coursant
This year's Quintessence from the famille Hubert's estate in the Cotes de Bordeaux is composed of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from beautiful biodynamically farmed vines on clay limestone soils. The nose is dense and ripe on opening, showing ripe cassis, blackberry and raspberry, with hints of warming spice. With time open, the wine shows increasingly complex aromatic qualities, with more tobacco and earth coming through by hour 4 or 5. On the palate, the fruit is again ripe and dense, with cassis liqueur, ripe blackberry, and black cherry balanced by bristly tannins and limestone minerality on the long finish. After some time open, the palate leans more towards cacao and earth, but the ripe fruit remains dominant. A pleasure now with butter basted rib eye steak or roast beef, it will certainly improve over the next 10 to 15 years for drinking with lighter fare. Ben Fletcher
Château Cru Godard’s vines grow on southerly exposed hillsides adjacent to the Saint-Emilion appellation and geographically closer to Bergerac than to the city of Bordeaux. The wine is fermented by indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks and is then matured 50% in tank and 50% in used barriques that have seen two passages. The 2015 has a dark ruby robe. The nose offers aromas of sweet black fruits, tobacco, and cocoa. The mid-weight palate has soft flavors of black cherry, cassis, blackberry, and coffee framed by savory earth notes and fine-grained tannins. This has good sap and good freshness and cries out for hanger steak with red wine shallot sauce or lamb chops grilled pink on the inside. John McIlwain
Chateau Le Geai is located north of Pomerol on limestone with soils of sandy clay with iron, certified Biodynamic. The 2016 "Grand G" is made with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carmenere, without added SO2 - truly a "natural" Bordeaux. The wine shows a deep garnet/black color with aromas of blackberry and cassis liqueur, very earthy with plum, floral and citrus notes. There is ripe red currant and cassis fruit on the palate with saline mineral flavors, licorice and plum skin - not "fruit forward" but quite expressive and complex with an earthy texture. The finish shows red currants, spice, coffee and firm acidity. Not a wine to gulp, but a fascinating natural wine that will be a great pairing with grilled meats, tagines and stews. David Lillie
Henri Duporge at Château Le Geai makes this unique Bordeaux from Merlot and Malbec, the tradional blend in the northern Libournais in the 1800s. The vines grow in "blue clay" over limestone, fermentation is with wild yeasts and the wine ages 12 months in amfora, with only a tiny addition of volcanic sulfur. Certified organic and Biodynamic. The 2016 Argiles de Pauline shows a deep black/purple color and lush aromas of ripe cassis and red currant with rose, earth, spice and citrus. The palate is deep and ripe with blackberry, cassis and plum, with silky tannins - dense but bright and balanced finishing with black fruits and juicy acids. Drinking beautifully now, this is a perfect pairing for a steak, pork chop or grilled lamb, and aging for eight to ten years should be very interesting. David Lillie
Chateau Beausejour in Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion has never used chemical herbicides or pesticides and was certified organic in 1995, a very rare occurence in Bordeaux! This cuvée is 100% Cabernet Franc and was vinified and bottled with zero added SO2 - it's a truly unique and distinctive Bordeaux showing complex aromas of red currant, cassis, coffee, earth and roast meats. The palate shows lovely round cassis fruit, with hints of mint, earth and minerals, finishing with a real taste of the terroir. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines, it's Bordeaux like it used to be! David Lillie
The vines of Chateau Beausejour live naturally in the Saint-Emilion satellite region of Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion. Unlike many neighbors, the vineyard has never been exposed to pesticides or herbicides, the wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts, and remains unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur. The 2015’s taut structure holds together a generous array of aromas and flavors. A youthful and pronounced set of scents, like sharp dark cocoa, mint, and black cherry come from the glass. Flavors are of espresso, blackberry, plum, and sweet kirsch. Still, there is something very, very refreshing about this red. A perfect addition to a feast among family. David Hatzopoulos
What a beautiful fresh Bordeaux! Certified organic since 2012, this estate has been making outstanding wines since the beginning, showing the expertise of the Clauzel family and superb terroir. This 2014 wine (a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc) is elegant and vibrant with a gorgeous bouquet of black and red berries, plum, exotic spices, leather and cedar box notes. On the palate, the wine is bright with acidity and minerality, and shows supple tannins with a long fresh finish. This is a vibrant Bordeaux which can accompany casual to fancy meals. Pair this wine with hamburgers, seared lamb, or with more elaborate dishes, such as roast beef or braised duck. A delicious wine to drink now or cellar for a few years. Caroline Coursant
The Clauzel family does not disappoint with this vintage! This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, planted on sandy gravelly soils and aged for about 15 months in barrels. Elegant and classic, the nose displays aromas of dark plum, crunchy cassis, prunes, nutmeg, light tobacco, dried violet petals and leather notes. On the palate, the wine is luscious and vibrant with good acidity, beautiful minerality and supple tannins. The finish is long with a delicate bouquet. A delicious Saint-Emilion to drink now or cellar for +10 years. Pair this wine with roast beef, grilled steak, nutty cheese or roasted lamb. Caroline Coursant
Belles-Cimes is the second label of Chateau Coutet in Saint-Emilion, a unique organic estate that has never used herbicides or pesticides, possessing a marvelous diversity of flora and fauna as well as supeb terroir, surrounded by domains such as Beausejour-Becot and L'Angelus.
Never once have herbicides or pesticides touched the vineyards belonging to Chateau Coutet, a certified organic producer located outside the city of Saint Emilion. The property boasts oak trees, fig trees, and orchid meadows as a measure to ensure the land’s health, and thus the quality of its grapes and wines. On the first night open, the 2015 St. Emilion Grand Cru (mostly merlot with small additions of several other Bordeaux varietals) revealed toasted vanilla bean, plum and blackberry, with shades of autumnal earth and leaves. By the second night, it offered expressions of gravel, tobacco, and dark flowers, along with softer black and red fruits. David Hatzopoulos
Michel Théron's 2015 Haut-Médoc is remarkably terroir-driven yet approachable in its youth, even in this ripe vintage. The blend is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc from the classic gravel and sandy soils of the Médoc. Michel's vineyards are farmed using strict organic and biodynamic methods and his precise work in the cellar elevates each variety for a pure expression of Haut-Médoc. He uses up to 25% of new oak which is well integrated and lends structure without dominating. Aromas of crushed violets, saddle leather, and spiced red cherry cascade on the nose. The palate is supple with grippy tannins, flavors of ripe plum, game, brown spice, and dark chocolate on the finish. A lovely wine that should be decanted if drinking now but will evolve over the next decade. Amanda Bowman
The Petit Jaug (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot) is made with fruit from the Petit Jaugueyron parcel in Margaux, planted with younger vines than the adjacent Grand Jaugueyron parcel. Together these two make the Clos du Jaugueyron, which is a true clos (or walled-in vineyard). This bottle seemed to be the most subtle when enjoyed alongside the other wines of Michel Théron. Although the bottle took its time, it mysteriously danced rather than walked into a sophisticated state. By the last glass, smoky aromas of spiced red and black fruit paired with flavors of coffee, cocoa, and healthy earth. The fruit on the tongue matured to woodsy plum and raspberry. Let this bottle air for longer than you might think necessary, and you’ll be rewarded with an elegant wine. (David Hatzopoulos)
This cuvée from Michel Théron is from some of his younger vines (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot) in Macau and sees 50% new oak. However, like all he produces, this bottle isn’t incoherently dense. There is a taut and assertive medley of black and red fruit on the nose, with a unique salty spark. The palate is spicy, with cassis and pepper, and savory, with jerky, miso, and mint. This wine should be experienced while youthfully bright, but it is formidable, with a hearty character that will continue to evolve over the next 15 years or more. (David Hatzopoulos)
The Clos du Jaugueyron Margaux is Michel Théron's top wine and a monument to traditional, old-school winemaking. The blend is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from his parcel of old vines with some Merlot and a bit of Cabernet Franc planted on sand and gravel. All of his parcels are biodynamically farmed and he has never used synthetic treatments of any kind. This unfailing attention to detail in the vineyard carries over to his cellar work, which is precise and masterful. The wine is aged mostly in new wood for up to 18 months before spending another year resting in cuve. The 2014 is built to age but shows wonderfully hedonistic aromas already. Complex notes of sage, violets, and campfire mingle with graphite, coffee, and dark chocolate on the nose. The palate offers powdery, mouth-coating tannins, bright acidity, and cool mineral inflections beneath supple flavors of bitter chocolate, thyme, and plum. Decant 1-2 hours if drinking now or hold for 5-8 years (at least). Amanda Bowman
The 1996 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre is a completely different style of wine than modern Margaux, especially in this rather cool vintage. On opening the aromas are quite subtle, slightly musty, with bright, sweet red-currant fruit with violet, earth and mineral flavors, a bit austere, but lovely. The palate is deep, firm and earthy with red currant, black cherry and mineral flavors, with brown spice, cedar and licorice. We would suggest decanting six to eight hours in advance, or cellar for ten to fifteen more years. David Lillie
The 2009 BAMA shows bright deep red/black color with lovely high-toned red fruit liqueur - strawberry, black currant and cassis, with violet and earth. The palate is dense and ripe with bright acidity - not at all heavy, but with intense black and red fruits backed by flavors of mineral and earth. On day two the bright deep fruits have become more focused and linger on the palate in the long and very mineral finish. This is quite enjoyable as a young wine, especially after a day open, unencumbered by over-extraction and new oak - but beware, this style is for those who like some earth in their Bordeaux! Best to cellar for a very long time...
The 2010 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre is from very old vines and also from approximately 50 year-old vines planted by M. Boyer at 10,000 plants per hectare. There is a long fermentation without extraction, the juice remains in cuve until spring, then spends six months in old barrels followed by two to three years in cement vat. These are wines made in the lighter "claret" style of the 19th century, although the 2010 shows an incredible density of flavor, given the less-extracted style. Upon opening the wine shows subtle aromas of earth, red currant and cherry fruit with licorice and brown spice. The palate is deep and quite expressive with black cherry, strawberry, earth, licorice and mineral flavors, quite Burgundian in texture. The finish is very long with lingering tart cherry, sous-bois and mineral flavors. After two days open (re-corked) the aromas have broadened with prune, ripe cherry, tobacco, spice and rose and the palate is intense with red and black fruit liqueur, spice box and earth and ending with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. Delicious now with a long decant, this will be an extraordinary mature wine, best perhaps 2035 - 2050. David Lillie