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Shipments from two more of our favorite French estates are just arriving in New York - the vibrant Roussillon wines of Eric Laguerre, from his dramatic high-altitude granite terroirs, and the bold, authentic Languedoc wines of Thierry Navarre, products of the steep slopes of brown schist above Roquebrun in Saint-Chinian. (All wines arrive by Tuesday May 5th, please allow extra time for processing and shipping)
Domaine Thierry Navarre - 12 hectares of vines planted on terraces of schist, in a circle of mountains covered with oaks, flowering shrubs, heather, ciste, rosemary and thyme - the countryside is a jewel of the haut-Languedoc. Besides being one of the nicest people we know, Thierry is also a rescuer of ancient varieties and traditional styles, making some of the most unique and delicious wines of the Languedoc. For example his Vin de Grenache, a local style of naturally sweet wine from Grenache "passerillé," perfect as an aperitif or with chocolate or fruit - try it if you dare! Also in this shipment is Thierry's unique and marvelous 2018 Ribeyrenc - an old variety from the 18th and 19th centuries discovered in his vines and replanted in three parcels on schist, giving a light and delicate red that is amazingly complex and delicious. Not to mention his fascinating "Lignieres" Blanc made from Ribeyrenc Blanc (!), Grenache Gris and Clairette, and his two superb Saint-Chinian reds - soulful blends of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grown organically in his montainside vineyards. Quantities are very limited in this shipment, so don't delay, but we have more wine on the way, including Thierry's insanely delicious 2019 "Oeillades" and his vibrant 2019 Ribeyrenc Rosé!
Domaine Eric Laguerre
This is one of our favorite 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 vineyards at 500 - 600+ meters. Here the granite and gneiss 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, 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 bright earthy acidity present in all the Laguerre wines.
New in this shipment:
2014 "Oxy" and a new Eos Rosé!
Eric has once again made a small quantity of "Oxy" - his extraordinary Grenache Blanc that spends five years sous-voile. The current vintage is 2014 - for any lover of Vin Jaune, or anyone making chicken with Vin Jaune and morels, this is a must buy! The wine shows lovely herbal, stone, citrus peel and strong oxidative aromas. The oxidation is less apparent on the palate which is extremely elegant and of course shows an intense minerality, with flavors of lemon zest, stone and dried pear, finishing with terrific length. We have 60 bottles and we hope to get 60 more in our next shipment - don't delay!
2019 Eos Rosé - We've always loved Eric's rather full-bodied rosé, made from Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, but this year he decided to make a lighter, fresher wine from Grenache Gris and Carignan and it's really delicious! it shows a pretty, pale pink color with subtle aromas of rose and raspberry. The palate is fresh, light and round with lovely red and yellow fruit flavors, quite crisp and long. (We have 20 cases) The Eos Blanc and Eos Rouge are superb in 2019 as well - anyone looking for an everyday wine that is soulful and distinctive should buy them by the case...
Every few years Thierry Navarre makes a new batch of his late-harvest "Vin de Grenache" - this version is outrageous - it's an oxidative orange wine (!) showing a dark orange color and aromas of dried fruits - apricot and prune - brown spice, walnut, honey and wildflowers with slightly sweet palate of ripe black cherry, dried apricot, brown spice and minerals. (It can be kept for weeks re-corked in the fridge) Serve with dried fruits and nuts, strong cheeses or just enjoy by itself - only 36 bottles for the US. David Lillie
Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc is terrific in 2019! From high-altitude vineyards in the Roussillon, approximately 65% Grenache Blanc and 35% Macabeu, harvested by hand into small baskets, with low yields, certified organic by Ecocert. Subtle, floral, pear, stone, citrus and herbal aromas with an elegant, round and balanced palate of citrus, white fruits, hay and stone with crisp acidity. Really an elegant, refreshing and unique wine and a great price!
"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
We've always loved Eric's rather full-bodied rosé, made from Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, but this year he decided to make a lighter, fresher wine from Grenache Gris and Carignan and it's really delicious! it shows a pretty, pale pink color with subtle aromas of rose and raspberry. The palate is fresh, light and round with lovely red and yellow fruit flavors, quite crisp and long. This is a complex, refreshing and delicious rosé and a sensational value! David Lillie
Eric Laguerre's "Eos Rouge" is an elegant blend of 90% Grenache from 40-year-old gobelet-trained vines, with 10% 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 2019 is strikingly pure-fruited, with vibrant strawberry and red cherry aromas underpinned by earthy spice, red-currant, and bitter chocolate notes. Strawberry and cherry continue on the palate with peppery tannins and mineral acidity from the high mountain climat. (Eric says that after 2 years in bottle, you might think it's Pinot Noir). This is a balanced wine that should pair wonderfully with grilled sausages, lentils, or goat cheeses. Open an hour before serving if drinking now, or hold for 3 to 5 years.
From a vineyard co-planted with old varieties - Ribeyrenc Blanc, Grenache Gris and Clairette du Languedoc - Thierry Navarre made the 2018 "Lignières." It's a delighful wine with slightly spicy and floral aromas of white peach, almond, pear and honeysuckle, dry and dense on the palate though a little riper than the 2017, with mineral, herbal and dried stone fruit flavors with firm acidity - really lovely, a great aperitif or serve with fish or chicken in sauce, salads, sheep and goat cheeses. David Lillie
An almost extinct grape grown in the Languedoc, in southern France, Ribeyrenc has been preserved mostly due to the work of Thierry Navarre and his father before him, planted on slopes of schist, exposure south-east. It’s thin-skinned and yields a fresh and vibrant red wine that could easily pass for a dark rosé. The aromas are complex with red fruits, spice, herbs, tobacco, rose petal and tea-leaf. Low-alcohol and light-bodied and a bit delicate with plum, red currant, spice and smoke on the palate, with a long finish - fresh, floral, and unlike anything else, really a lovely wine ! EL
Thierry Navarre's touchstone "Laouzil" is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah from old vines planted on brown schist ("Laouzil" in the local dialect) soils in the rugged mountains of Roquebrun (Saint-Chinian). The grapes are de-stemmed and aged in neutral barrel before bottling with minimal sulfur. The 2017 has a beautiful robe of deep red/black. The nose shows decadent aromas of spiced plums, blackberry patch, sage, and deeper notes of espresso. The palate is creamy with fine powdery tannins. Perhaps a bit softer than the 2016, with less high-toned acidity, but wonderfully balanced and accessible for drinking now. Flavors of black fruits, peppercorn, and savory herbs cling to a core of dense minerals on the long, persistent finish. This is a fascinating wine of terroir that Thierry says will be perfect in 5 years (though it is delicious now). Amanda Bowman
Thierry Navarre's Cuvée Olivier is a blend from old vines of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah in Thierry’s 12-hectare practicing organic estate situated in the AOC of Saint-Chinian, grown in brown schist soils that give density to the finished wine. On the nose it is deep and complex with dusty dark plum, boysenberry, pink peppercorn, sage, lemon oil, and clementine zest. The palate is poised and structured, leaning towards more smoky and mineral flavors but is balanced by fresh fruit. Blackberries, citrus, and savory herbs come to mind on the finish that lingers on the palate. On day two the palate is beginning to open up with more fruit redolent of pomegranate seeds and minerals. Drink now or cellar for 10 to 15 years. Truly a great wine, perfect with grilled meats, tagines and stews and a fantastic value.
Eric has once again made a small quantity of "Oxy" - his extraordinary Grenache Blanc that spends five years sous-voile. The current vintage is 2014 - for any lover of Vin Jaune, or anyone making chicken with vin jaune and morels, this is a must buy! The wine shows lovely herbal, stone, citrus peel and strong oxidative aromas. The oxidation is less apparent on the palate which is extremely elegant and of course shows an intense minerality, with flavors of lemon zest, stone and dried pear, finishing with terrific length. We have 60 bottles and we hope to get 60 more in our next shipment - don't delay!
"Le Passage" is a hardy blend of 65% Syrah (de-stemmed) and 35% Carignan from Eric Laguerre's highest parcel (1,700 feet), on soils of decomposed granite. The grapes are pressed into fiber tank for fermentation with native yeasts, then aged in concrete with minimal added SO2. This cuvee is fuller-bodied than his "EOS Rouge," with the high-quality of his low-yielding Carignan on full display. Robust and rustic, with notes of blackberry, brown spice, plum and black currant on the nose which carry over to the palate. The slight citrus tang from the acid is delightful along with some soft tannins. This pairs fantastically with roast lamb, ribeye, and sheep cheeses.
Eric Laguerre's parcels for this cuvée are planted on plateaus fringed with flowering "ciste" bushes and wind swept trees. The Pyrénées loom in the distance and the afternoon sun reflecting off the decomposed granite gives his vineyards a sort of shimmering quality. Eric's bottling of "Le Ciste" is a faithful interpretation of each of these elements plus Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre - some de-stemmed and some fermented on whole-clusters, separately, then aged for a year in barrel before being blended together in fiber tank. The 2017 has all of the bold flavor and texture of grapes that were allowed to fully ripen without any worry about lost acidity. At his altitude and with the help of granitic soils, Eric has little reason to pick early; his wines are vibrant and always have a marvelous backbone of mineral acidity. This is his fullest wine, with rich tannins and brooding flavors of fresh thyme, black pepper, bitter chocolate, and blood orange buoyed by ripe cherry. And while this is a handy and humble "grab n' go" for barbecues, Moroccan-themed dinners, etc., this wine has all of the potential to make us giddy and glad that we saved a few for 2030. Amanda Bowman