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Today we feature new arrivals and returning favorites from the southern Rhône with special attention to the 2018 Côtes-du-Rhône "Le Poutet" from Laurent Charvin - every year this is one of the greatest values and most delicious wines of the region, and in the 2018 vintage it's nothing short of sensational! Every wine in this email is pretty sensational, actually, and the value one finds in these superb Grenache-based wines, particularly the Côtes-du-Rhône and CDR Villages, is really exceptional. Hopefully we can share them with friends and family, carefully distanced, with some grilled foods this summer...
Domaine Charvin: "It is one of the unsung top addresses, the quality super consistent, the authenticity of the wines beyond reproach." (DrinkRhone) We've always found the Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Laurent Charvin to be one of the most unforced and expressive wines of the AOC, a product of organic farming, whole-cluster fermentations with wild yeasts and aging in concrete. Charvin's Côtes-du-Rhône "Le Poutet," however, made in the same style, is a star in it's own right, a junior CDP that offers great value and delightful drinking year after year. The wine is made from average 50 year-old vines (some are 90 years-old!) of 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan in vineyards that abut Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Maucoil in the northwest and Campovin and Boislauzon in the northeast. The soils are sandy clay/limestone with galets stones. The grapes undergo a 15 to 20-day whole bunch fermentation with daily pumping-overs, the wine then spends 18 months in concrete vat and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is equal to many Châteauneuf-du-Pape, offering complex aromas of garrigue and spicy red fruits with the structure to evolve and drink well over ten to fifteen years. The 2018 "Le Poutet," tasted with Laurent Charvin in January, 2020, was incredibly delicious and quite remarkable with gorgeous floral aromas of strawberry and blackberry and vibrant, supple black fruits on the palate with round juicy tannins - delicous already but with enough brightness and structure to provide beautiful drinking over the next ten years! (Limited supply, don't delay)
Pablo Hocht at Domaine de Crève Coeur is making beautiful wines at his 5 hectare estate in Sablet and Séguret. "I created the Domaine in 2010 to live my passion: that of wine, of nature and of respect for terroir. The vines cultivated in organic and Biodynamic agriculture produce authentic and original wines." After tasting the 2018s and 2019s with Pablo last winter, we couldn't agree more as the wines are deep, complex and elegant and they are sensational values - wonderful examples of Grenache-based Rhone wines at their best. The estate has very old vines of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault - The Sablet and Séguret are both blends of Grenache and Mourvedre, which undergo a four-week whole-cluster vinification with wild yeasts followed by 12 months in used barrels and the Rosé du Coucou is a subtle and delicious direct-press of Grenache and Cinsault. All of these wines will drink wonderfully with grilled foods this summer as well as with steaks, chops and stews in colder weather. The young M. Hocht is doing great work at Crève Coeur - we hope you will try his artful wines. Pablo quotes Van Gogh "Art, it's man added to nature."
Marcel Richaud comes from a vine-growing family in Cairanne who sold their grapes to a cave cooperative - at 19 years-old Marcel left the coop and made his own wine from vines belonging to his aunt. One of the first in the region to practice organic farming and low or zero sulfur winemaking, he quickly made a name for himself in the Parisian natural wine scene of the early 90s. His vineyards include equal parts of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, with some Cinsault, Counoise and Carignan which contributes to the wines balance and complexity. The Cairanne is from 50 - 75 year-old vines and is a blend of semi-carbonic and traditional fermentation, aged in concrete vat and large used barrels. The wines are never fined or filtered, and only a small amount of sulfur is added at bottling. Some wines, such as the vibrant 2017 Cairanne offered today, are made with zero added SO2. We always love the CDR "Terre de Galets" which is particularly beautiful in 2018, ripe and complex with gorgeous supple fruit, perfect for grilled foods this summer. This is one of the great natural wine estates of the Southern Rhône, now capably run by Marcel's children Thomas, Claire and Edith.
We're very happy to have received a new shipment from our friends Carole and Dany Chastan at the Clos du Joncuas. Founded in 1920 by Pierre Auguste Chastan, the estate has been organically farmed "depuis toujours" and has been certified since 1980. Currently run by sisters Dany and Carole Chastan, the estate's Gigondas vines are on slopes below the Dentelles de Montmirail, on soils of clay with dolomite and gypsum over the limestone of the Dentelles, and average 40 to 90 years old. Vinifications here are entirely old-school; whole-clusters fermented with wild yeasts in cement and aged in old barrels. While recent vintages here have been uniformly good, the 2015 and 2016 Gigondas are particularly excellent, both for current drinking in their rather full and muscular youth and for cellaring to enjoy at maturity over the next 15 to 20 years. The estate's Vacqueyras, produced on stony limestone soils, is outstanding in 2016 and a great value for drinking now and cellaring until about 2030 - 2032. While we enjoy the big and bold Joncuas Seguret Rouge, we are big fans of their Seguret Blanc, made primarily from Clairette, with many of the vines over 100 years-old - it's a very complex and full-flavored white that is perfect with fish, in sauce or stews, and pork and chicken dishes as well.
Our tasting with Laurent Charvin was at the end of a long day and he was obviously a bit tired, even when we heaped praise on his wines. But when I mentioned that another favorite Châteauneuf-du-Pape was Domaine Pierre André, his face lit up with a big smile and he exclaimed "Yes, Jacqueline is wonderful and her wines are among the very best!" (loosely translated...) Our shipment, announced in April, has finally arrived, and we urge Rhône lovers to put a few in the cellar. To me the wines of Jacqueline and her son Vincent are the Châteauneufs with the most elegance, character and terroir expression of any being produced today, and we continue to offer special web pricing of $49.99 for the 2017, $53.99 for the 2016 and 108.99 for the magnums of 2016.
The Creve Coeur "Coucou" is a beautiful direct-press rosé made with old vines of 60% Grenache and 40% Cinsault. The 2019 shows a very pale onion skin color with floral aromas of raspberry, peach, citrus and stone. The palate is very light, silky and elegant with subtle raspberry fruit with hints of melon and earth, finishing with nice length of mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. This is a very lovely wine at a great price! David Lillie
(From 60 to 70 year-old vines in "Le Planis," 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre) The 2018 Creve Coeur Sablet has all the elements we love in sothern Rhone wines: organic/biodynamic farming, old school fermentation in foudre and concrete, stem inclusion. Dark-toned, nearly heady aromatically, with black and blue fruits, lavender, blackberry, cherry pit and cocoa on the nose. Dense purple robe. Plum, cherry, blackberry, black pepper and garrique on the palate. Real sense of the structural elements from the stems and limestone soils. Pablo has lightened the extraction so the wine is well structured but with finer tannins than the 2016 and 2017. Good energy for the concentration with a fine core of minerality within. Fabulous with pan-roasted lambchops and sheep's milk cheese. Delicious now, but should gain in complexity with time in the bottle. John McIlwain
Pablo Hocht of Domaine de Creve Coeur has 3 hectares of 60+ year-old vines in Seguret on sandy limestone marl soils, 60% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah. As with his lovely Sablet, the Seguret is certified biodynamic, fermented slowly with wild yeasts with the stems included. Aging is partly in one to five year-old barriques, partly in vat. In other words, great farming and old-fashioned winemaking, similar to that of the Gonons in Saint-Joseph. The 2018 Seguret shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry and plum, with earth, garrigue and cocoa - dark and rich but with good freshness. The palate is dense and round with a supple, grainy texture, a bit softer than the Sablet this year, with ripe blackberry and black plum liqueur, quite floral and showing the high percentage of Mourvedre, with hints of chocolate, citrus and provencal herbs. The finish is long with cool acidity and earthy black fruits. Serve this beautiful Seguret a bit cool after a decant of a few hours or cellar five to ten years. Great with stews and tagines, grilled meats and game. David Lillie
The Richaud 2017 Cairanne is a gorgeous wine made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, and this cuvée is made and bottled entirely without SO2. The color is inky black/red with lush aromas of black cherry, blackberry, prune and floral notes with earth, licorice and dark chocolate. The palate shows lush, bright fruit - a beautiful and intense melange of black and red berries, round and deep, lifted by cool acidity and mineral flavors with fabulous length and purity of fruit. Bravo to Marcel Richaud! Serve this lovely wine a bit cool with just about anything! Cellaring for ten years would be interesting as well... David Lillie
70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered. The 2016 shows a medium garnet/black color with aromas of red currant and blackberry liqueur, plum skin, spice and black pepper. The palate shows nice density of chocolately black fruits with berry liqueur and a sappy, chalky texture, with a bit of tannin in the firm finish. Serve with a pork stew, Morrocan tagine or grilled steak.
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. The 2016 is another beautiful Gigondas from the Clos du Joncuas, perhaps with less fat and density than the 2015 but quite elegant and more Burgundian in style. The aromas sing of black cherry liqueur, licorice, black olive and garrigue; the palate is dense and focused with blackberry, cherry, black olive, bitter chocolate and earth with nice sappy length with firm acidity. Drinking well now, decant if possible, or hold for five years, then drink until about 2035. David Lillie
(Note: 2016 Pierre André Special Price is $53.99) We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2016 is a beautiful glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, showing fresh, complex aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is perfectly structured, similar to the 2010, with deep blackberry and black cherry liqueur with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. A great CDP for aging, this is delicious now in its vibrant youth, but will repay waiting for ten years and then enjoy until 2050! Very highly recommended. David Lillie
(special pricing $47.99) Tasted in Montpellier Jan. 2020: dark black/red color, very aromatic with red currant, strawberry, spice, earth; palate is round, dense, good acidity, deep black cherry, red currant, plum, earth, minerals; very long but softer than the 2016, great finish. Delicious now or cellar 15 to 20 years. DL "Full, dark red. The bouquet is promising, well varied already, with a beef stock, loganberry, deep black fruit presence. There is a shimmer of dusty heat from it. The palate is rich and rolling right from the start, engages very well with a flourishing length and spiced notes in the sparky, full finish. Lots of life blood here, a nourishing wine with genuine typicity, good vigour and cut. Not much more praise can be added. This lights my fuse, sure thing." DrinkRhone Oct 2018
(Note: Pierre André 2016 Magnum Special Price is $108.99) We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2016 is a beautiful glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, showing fresh, complex aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is perfectly structured, similar to the 2010, with deep blackberry and black cherry liqueur with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. A great CDP for aging, this is delicious now in its vibrant youth, but will repay waiting for ten years and then enjoy until 2050! Very highly recommended. David Lillie
The Laurent Charvin "Le Poutet" is made from average 50 year-old vines (some are 90 years-old!) of 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan in vineyards that abut Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Maucoil in the northwest and Campovin and Boislauzon in the northeast. The soils are sandy clay/limestone with galets stones. The grapes undergo a 15 to 20-day whole bunch fermentation with daily pumping-overs, the wine then spends 18 months in concrete vat and is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is equal to many Châteauneuf-du-Pape, offering complex aromas of garrigue and spicy red fruits with the structure to evolve and drink well over ten to fifteen years. The 2018, tasted with Laurent Charvin in January, 2020, was quite remarkable with gorgeous floral aromas of strawberry and blackberry and vibrant, supple black fruits on the palate with round juicy tannins - delicous already but with enough brightness and structure to provide beautiful drinking over the next ten years. This is truly "gouleyant" and should be purchased by the case - at $19.79 per bottle it's a sensational value! David Lillie
This is what I'd call 'Châteauneuf-du-Pape-on-a-budget'! Domaine Charvin is a very traditional winemaker with only ~10 hectares of vines in the CdP appellation which he farms organically, and is considered one of the best in the region. The "Poutet" is a very similar blend to his CdP bottling with 81% Grenache, 7% Mourvèdre, 5% Carignan, and 7% Syrah from 40+ year-old vines grown on sandy soils with galets roulés. He ferments traditionally with all whole-cluster fruit and native yeasts. Perhaps less traditionally, the wine never sees any wood, fermented in concrete and then aged in vats.The nose is intense and savory with dried violets, plum, and a peppery spice, and the palate is clean, silky, and leaves you with the taste of dried herbs and crushed cherry. Michelle DeWyngaert
From DrinkRhone: "Full red; this has a comely, rounded nose, blackberry fruit, coulis version, crème de menthe, sweetness, some meat gravy, musk of dried flowers, India ink. The palate pushes out on suave filling, has thorough heart, live tannins, inner punch, some velvet outside. There is good iron present, despite the vintage, and it comes along with some stealth. The tannins contribute energy. Drink until 2045-47." In a vintage that produced big but rather awkward wines, the Charvin 2017 CDP stands out for it's elegance and balance. It needs a few years to open, then will provide superb drinking for another 20 years. DL
The Charvin Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé comes from a 1.5 hectare parcel planted to mostly Grenache and Cinsault. The grapes are grown organically and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The vines are planted on sandy soils with clay and galets roulés (the famous round rocks covering the soil of Chateauneuf-du-Pape) and are an average age of 40 years. The 2019 exhibits notes of strawberries and cream, raspberry and ripe peach. The fruit is balanced and bright with lovely purity, a lingering mineral quality and steely texture. A perfect pairing for summer salads and days by the pool, yet I also wouldn't hesitate having this with some heartier fare: a tuna burger comes to mind.
(Marcel Richaud has been making "natural wine" for over 40 years, since taking over from his father in the 1970s. Organic farming, low yields, hand-harvesting for perfect fruit and fermentations with wild yeasts with little or no sulfur.) From Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Counoise and Mourvedre on gravel, sandy, galet stone covered soils, semi destemmed, 8-10 day vinification - the Carignan in semi carbonic maceration, traditional fermentation for the rest, aged in concrete vats 6-12 months, unfined, unfiltered. The 2018s from Richaud are simply outstanding! The Terre de Galets shows lovely aromas of ripe red currant, black cherry and black raspberry with spice and violets. Very supple, fresh palate with black plum, ripe cherry liqueur, citrus and black pepper with smooth tannins and bright acidity. Very long with ripe fruits, bitter chocolate and citrusy acids lingering in the finish. Lovely wine - serve cool with grilled meats, chicken, fulll-flavored cheeses. David Lillie
Terres d'Aigles comes from Marcel Richaud's younger vines of Grenache and Carignan along the Aigues river in Cairanne. Each of the varieties is vinified separately in cement, before blending and aging in old oak casks. Marcel never fines or filters, and only a very small amount of sulfur is added at bottling. The nose is vibrant and open, with notes of cherry liqueur, cassis, wet stone, and violet. The palate is structured but refined, showing blackberry and raspberry around a savory core of earthiness and stone. There's plenty of refreshing acidity here, with nice smooth tannins that frame the palate. Ben Fletcher
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. Dany and Carole Chastan have made another superb Vacqueyras in 2016, a bit brighter than the opulent 2015 version, showing dark black/red color and bright aromas of blackberry, black olive and licorice with plum skin, garrigue, violet and bitter chocolate. This young wine is showing deep black fruits with firm acidity and terrific length with chalky mineral notes, earth, citrus and olive. This will be fantastic with grilled foods, stews and tagines and will develop nicely over the next 10 - 15 years. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
50% Clairette (some vines 100 years-old) with Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat. Floral dried pear, apricot, hay, thyme aromas. Ripe pear, stone, caramel, lemon, anise on the palate. A complex, ripe wine with a supple palate but with good acidity that will pair with fish stews, shellfish, pork and chicken dishes as well as full-flavored goat cheeses. This is an outstanding Southern Rhône white and a great value! David Lillie