The new generation: Joseph & Sylvestre Mosse!

More Awesome Juice - 2018 & 2019 Loire Valley Reds! All Organic or Biodynamic, All Inexpensive!!

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Last summer we sent an article entitled "Awesome Juice: 2018 Loire Valley Reds" and OMG "it's déja vu all over again" as 2019 has produced another superb crop of beautifully ripe and delicious red wines from our favorite producers in Anjou and Touraine, all perfect for chilling and grilling this summer!

Both vintages were marked by long dry summers that were quite warm but without the extreme heat of 2003, for example, so the wines retained freshness and good levels of acidity. The winter of 2019 was quite warm with early bud break - frosts in early April and again on May 5th caused serious losses in some vineyards. A cool and rainy period in late May/early June caused some difficulties with flowering, also lowering yields. Then a long warm dry period beginning in mid-June, through mid-September, brought generally ripe and healthy grapes despite a bit of sun damage in some regions. Happily the reserves of moisture in the soil were adequate, and late periods of rain were helpful, allowing the grapes to ripen properly despite the near drought conditions. Overall, 2019 is another excellent year for Loire Valley reds, especially the juicy blends of Grolleau, Gamay, Pineau d'Aunis and Cab Franc featured in today's article. In general they are a bit denser than the 2018s, with perhaps a bit more alcohol and a little less acidity - They are insanely delicious and will give joyful drinking over the next few years!

Les Vins Contes:

Eben with Olivier and Cecile (Photo: Isaac Rosenthal)

Olivier Lemasson was a sommelier who became passionate about natural wines and trained at Marcel Lapierre’s winery in Morgon, first by picking grapes four years in a row, then by working for a year in his vines and cellar, and finally becoming a winemaker in Touraine. Les Vins Contes started in 2002 as a negociant business with Hervé Villemade using organic purchased grapes, often seeking the obscure varieteis of Touraine like Menu Pineau and Pineau d'Aunis. In 2016 he was finally able to purchase his own land, nine hectares of vines he had previously been buying grapes from. The wines are all made in an intentional "vin de soif" style; the whites are direct-pressed, vibrant and bright while the reds are for the most part short macerations and meant to be drunk fruity and young. Two cuvées, Gama-Sutra (from 100+ Gamay vines) and Cheville de Fer (from 100+ Côt vines), are made to age, though both are often easy-drinking on release. Tasted in France last winter, the 2019s were vibrant and beautiful with superb brighness and elegance in this very ripe vintage. A word from the estate about sulfur-dioxide "There is no sulfur in any of the 2019's: thanks to the balance between high ripeness and acidity...the decision about sulfur depends on the vintage and on what happened in the cellar."  Quantities are limited...

Les Mosses:

Agnès & René Mosse

Agnès and René Mosse have been leaders in the production of natural wines in Anjou since their acquisition of vineyards in Saint-Lambert du Lattay in 1999. Their philosophy: "Only the combination of organic cultivation and natural winemaking makes it possible to produce authentic wines. Wine results, on one hand, from work in the vineyard - organic agriculture permits us to obtain plants in good condition and with healthy fruit, fit for consumption, and contributes to the preservation of the environment and ecosystem - and on the other hand, from the vinification: our method of vinification is "natural," banishing interventionist oenology. All that's needed is very ripe grapes, carefully chosen, and perhaps a little sulfur." Best known for their superb Chenin Blancs such as "Le Rouchefer" and "Les Bonnes Blanches," and their reds from Cabernet, today's email feautures a deliciously different white, "Magic of Ju-Ju" (a great recording by Archie Shepp from 1967) and two vibrant reds - "Chico" which is 100% Cot in carbonic maceration and "Bisou," a light and gulpable red made from Grolleau Noir, Pineau d’Aunis, Cot, Gamay, Grolleau Gris and Cabernet Franc - serve them cool and be happy! It's great to see the estate reaching new heights with their sons Sylvestre and Joseph who are partners since 2018. Says importer Jules Dressner "...they’ve brought a youthful sense of experimentation to the estate while maintaining the great work already done. The Le Gros and Chico cuvées came about when they started making the wines, and making a Macerated Chenin, a carignan from the Languedoc or a tavel style rosé called “travel” shows they are open minded to trying new things. Every year there seems to be a new experiment or cuvée like 2019’s Bisou or a Cabernet with 2 years élevage."

Hervé Villemade:

Hervé Villemade (Photo: Isaac Rosenthal)

"Since I began visiting the Loire Valley in 2011, I have always held high esteem for Hervé Villemade," says Eben, "he is a focused, professional winemaker, and an open-minded and fun-loving colleague and friend. His wines have both defined and defied the Cheverny appellation for me, teaching me of tradition and then occasionally throwing it out the window. Year after year, I have found myself returning to the Villemade line-up when I feel like pure-fruited, honest, un-manipulated wines. You could call them "natural," but I've always liked this quote of his, from an interview with Jules Dressner: "I am not a fan of categorizations: I make wine that I want to make, and that's that. As far as I'm concerned, that means making wine from clean grapes and nothing else. Once that's done, I filter because the wines need it. I add a little sulfur at bottling (and let's not forget that I'm highly allergic!) because the wines need it. If they don't need it, which does occasionally happen, then I don't add any sulfur. It's as simple as that. I drink wine everyday, and a lot of it is my own, so it's in my best interest that they suit my tastes!"

Rounding out today's email are some of our favorite easy-drinking reds from the Loire: The beautiful, light-bodied "La Chaussée Rouge" from La Grange aux Belles; the perfectly delicioius "Vin Rouge Gamay" from Thierry Puzelat; the wonderfully gulpable "Le Telquel" from Pierre-O Bonhomme; the brilliant Pineau d'Aunis "Le Patapon" from Le Briseau, and Lise and Bertrand Jousset's elegant "Y a Rien qui Presse." We urge you to try them all!  Wines arrive Thursday, June 18, please allow extra time for processing and shipping.

Tue-Boeuf 2019 Vin de France Vin Rouge Gamay

100% Gamay. As for their entry-level white Vin Blanc, the Vin Rouge is made with sourced, organically farmed fruit from friends in the Cher Valley (the Puzelats' home turt in the Touraine) as well as in Beaujolais in this vintage. The bunches are kept whole and fermented spontaneously and carbonically with a short maceration and no sulfur. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and bottled with a maximum of 20 mg/l of SO2. In 2019, this is some gorgeous glou-glou, showing lovely round black raspberry and blackberry fruit, supple, sapid and refreshing, really a perfect thirst-quenching Gamay. There is not much of this beautiful juice to go around, so don't delay.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 36 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Vins Contés (Lemasson) 2019 Vin de France R 19

The 2019 version of Les Vins Contés  R is a blend of 40% Grolleau and 60% Cabernet Franc which undergoes a 7-day co-fermentation. It sees no added sulfur during production. Out of all the reds from Olivier Lemasson this vintage, I found it to be packed with the most youthful exuberance. Pronounced red fruits on the nose, like sliced strawberries and cherries, created the base for more delicate aromas of cinnamon and mint.  The flavor profile was a medley of black and red forest fruit, tart beach plums, and menthol. Definitely a wine I'd suggest enjoying now for its lovely drinkability. I'd also suggest giving it a slight chill. Makes me think of summer in a shaded garden by the ocean. David Hatzopoulos

  • red
  • 10 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Vins Contés (Lemasson) 2019 Vin de France Poivre et Sel

In 2019 the "Poivre et Sel" is 80% Pineau d'Aunis and 20% Gamay and sees no added sulfur. Full of dark fruit on the nose and palate but, like the other reds from Olivier Lemasson, its strength is in its lean, though expressive, vivacity. Aromatically, the wine delivers layers of fruit like black cherry, blackberry, and ripe plum, with tender forest shrubs and leaves. On the tongue, there is a unique note of bitter spice, like barely steeped black tea, that seems to work hand-in-hand with the wine's soft touch of tannin. Clove and cracked pepper add to the fruit of plush dark cherry. Medium acidity. A dynamic mix of flavors wrapped into a very drinkable Loire red, highlighting the exciting style of Vins Contés. One of my favorites of Olivier's 2019s. David Hatzopoulos

  • red
  • 19 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Vins Contés (Lemasson) 2019 Vin de Table Cheville de Fer

100% Côt (aka Malbec). The fruit from these 70-year-old Vins Contés vines is vinified just like all of the other reds: whole clusters, carbonic maceration, natural-yeast fermentation, no sulfur, no filtration. But like the Gama Sutra bottling, it is aged for 6 months in used barrels and bottled later in the spring following the harvest. Of all of the Vins Contés wines, this is the most structured and the least vin de soif in style. The nose is full of plums and flowers, accented with spicy black pepper and loamy earth. The palate is similar in fruit, with flavors of deep purple stone fruits and berries. There are subtleties of forest shrubs, warm green herbs, milled raw coffee, and a thread of dark minerality. A wine with both strength and finesse, I think it'll find its true balance over the next year, and will continue to mature for the next decade. A wonderfully pronounced wine from our friend Olivier Lemasson. David Hatzopoulos

  • red
  • 27 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Vins Contés (Lemasson) 2019 Vin de Table Gama-Sutra (Gamay VV)

The 2019 Gama-Sutra is from Olivier Lemasson's oldest Gamay vines at 80-100 years old, on clay-silex soils and many on their  own roots (aka ungrafted or franc de pied). Carbonic maceration, natural yeasts, no sulfur, no filtration.  A deliciously bold Gamay, delivering a glass full of wild fruits and earth - both refreshing and substantial in flavor and mouthfeel. The tertiary nose hinted towards herbs and soil, with freshly stripped bark, red and black licorice, and a whiff of healthy moss. More tannic than I'd expected, the structure offered a satisfying chew, with flavors of crushed red cherry, blackberry, savory baking spice, and birch. A faint  but sappy finish showing a faint herbaceous/digestif character was kept lifted by a satisfying level of medium acidity. Enjoy today, but should develop beautifully over the next 5-10 years. David Hatzopoulos

  • red
  • 14 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Vins Contés (O. Lemasson) 2019 Vin de France P'tit Rouquin (Gamay)

100% Gamay. From Olivier’s “young”, which means 40-year-old, vines. Whole clusters, short carbonic maceration, natural yeasts, no sulfur and no filtration. This is a happy wine, young though, and I think it will be better even with a few more months in the bottle. At the moment, there is very pleasant red fruit and some red apple skin structure, but generally not a tannic wine.The finish is not particularly complex or long, but the material is there and it should be a really together bottle of red later this summer. Drink with a chill with all your summer BBQ fare.  -Eben

  • red
  • 10 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur

Mosse, Agnes et Rene 2019 Vin de France Magic of Ju-Ju

The Ju-Ju is back! Named after Archie Shepp's record from 1968 (which David Lillie bought on release!), this years iteration is 40% Chenin Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Muscadelle. Tropical notes of guava and lychee abound, and the Chenin provides nice density in the mid-palate. I have a feeling that an ice bucket and a bottle of this should make your day a lot smoother. That's the Magic of the Ju-Ju.    -EL

  • white
  • 16 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Mosse 2018 Vin de France Le Rouchefer

The Mosse family is making superb natural wines in Anjou, and the 2018 Vin de France Rouchefer is a classic example. From a 1.6 ha parcel of 50 year-old massale selection vines in soils of clay and quartz over schistes, the wine is produced with minimal SO2 (total 20mg/l) and is aged in barrel. The  wine shows beautiful floral aromas of quince, pear, citrus, almond and stone. The palate is quite ripe, expressive and elegant without being heavy, and the lovely fruit is backed by firm acidity, herbal and mineral flavors, with terrific length  - a real Chenin of terroir that will accompany a wide range of seafood and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool, but not too cold, over the next ten to fifteen years. David Lillie

  • white
  • 10 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Mosse, Joseph & Sylvestre 2019 VDF Le Bisou

The 2019 "Le Bisou" frm the Mosse famly is an blend of Grolleau Noir, Pineau d'Aunis, Cot, Gamay, Grolleau Gris and Cabernet Franc, vinified in carbonic maceration.  It'a very light-bodied red - or a dark rosé - showing lovely aromas of raspberry and red currant with floral notes. The palate is bright, light and refreshing with a lovely melange of red fruits leading to a clean, lively finish. Serve quite cool as an aperitif or with any light meals and charcuterie this summer.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 10 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Anges et Rene Mosse 2018 VDF Chico (Cot)

The Mosse 2018 "Chico" is 100% Cot (Malbec) grown on clay and gravel soils on schist in Saint Lambert du Lattay. The wine undergoes a 10-day carbonic maceration and  ages for 8 months in old barrels. On opening, there are some very familiar, vibrant, granular, bright red fruit notes, and within 10-15 minutes, the darker, more savory character of the Malbec shines through.A solid bottle of wine, and truly medium bodied, with ample weight and spice.   -EL

  • red
  • 1 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Villemade, Herve 2019 Cheverny Rouge

(60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay grown on sandy clay and flint soils over limestone in Cellettes, Chitenay and Fougères sur Bièvre, AOC Cheverny; 15-day whole cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels. Yields of 25 hl/ha, 14.5% alc in 2019.)  "The Gamay brings its freshness and red fruits, the Pinot Noir its silky texture and licorice notes with sometimes a touche 'fumé. Together, the two varieties design a red quite delicioius and precise, nuanced of prune and black cherry, a bit spicy depending on the vintage, always refreshing." (Villemade.net) This has become one of favorite values from the Loire Valley, always full of character and lovely bright fruits. Tasted last January, we found the 2019 to be beautifully perfumed and complex, with deep dark fruits and terrific length. Enjoy, serve a bit cool with just about anythng.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 23 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Villemade, Herve 2019 Vin de France Bovin (Liter)

"1 Litre à boire d'une traite" - A bottle to drink in one go - We think the message makes things pretty clear: this is a fresh, fun bottle of Gamay that is dangerously easy to drink. Mineral, with spicy red fruits and well worth a light chill. A bovine beverage that's "Vachement Delicieux!" Tasted with Hervé last January, our notes contained one word: "Perfect!" EL

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Villemade, Herve 2019 Vin de France Rosé

The incredibly delicioius  2019 Rosé from Hervé Villemade is made from Grolleau, Gamay and  Cot (with maybe some Pineau d'Aunis?) It's a bit darker and riper than usual in this extraordinary vintage, but don't let that scare you away - the wine is fantastic, or as our colleague Michelle would say "freakin' yummy!" I plan to consume quite a few of these over the summer...  David Lillie

  • rosé
  • 10 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Villemade, Hervé 2018 Cheverny Les Ardilles

Our friend Hervé Villemade made another gorgeous "Les Ardilles" in 2018. Made from 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Gamay grown on sandy  clay with silex over limestone in Cheverny with yields of about 25 hl/ha. There was a 20-day maceration with light extraction followed by aging in  old barrels, with no added SO2 during vinificaton. Thee wine is particularly ripe and expressive in the excellent 2018 vintage, showing very pretty intriguing aromas of wild strawberry and plum puree, orange peel, white pepper, violet, licorice and rose. The palate is light but dense with plum and blackberry fruit, quite meaty and mineral with citrus and spice notes. Black fruits, licorice and spice linger in the long finish. This is a unique and delicious natural wine - bravo Hervé!

  • red
  • 39 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Villemade, Herve 2018 Cheverny Blanc

Hervé Villemade's 2018 Cheverny Blanc is a lovely and versatile wine, made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay grown on flinty sand and clay soils. The wine shows pretty aromas of pear, citrus, almond and stone with hints of boxwood and white flowers. The palate is supple with white and yellow fruits,  ripe citrus, a bit of anise and herbal flavors and is nicely balanced with firm acidity. This is a delicious and refreshing everyday white that will accompany most seafood dishes, chicken, white meats and goat cheeses.  David Lillie

  • white
  • 42 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Bonhomme, Pierre-Olivier 2019 Vin de France Le Telquel

This "poil dur" is wagging its tail again in 2019, 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, even with the increased density in 2019, 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

  • red
  • 46 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Le Briseau 2018 Vin de France Patapon Rouge

A very lovely Pineau D'Aunis with deep, round spicy red fruits and hints of white pepper. Serve cool!

  • red
  • 12 in stock
  • $30.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Jousset, Lise et Bertrand 2018 Vin de France Y a rien qui presse...

A light red from the Loire is a great choice for Thanksgiving... The  2018 "Y a rien qui presse" is 50% Gamay and 50% Grolleau from the Jousset's one hectare of red grapes in and around Montlouis. In English the name says "there's nothing pressing" and the label indicates "Vin de Table - de Chevet" meaning table wine, but bed-table wine. We have to ask the Joussets what that's all about...at any rate the wine is delicious! The superb 2018 vintage in the Loire Valley has brought us some very lush, delicious "glou-glou" wines for immediate enjoyment and the Y rien qui presse is one of the best, showing a bright garnet color and lovely aromas of ripe black raspberry, red currant and cherry with hints of violet, spice and mint. The palate is silky and refreshing with darker black cherry and red currant fruit backed by meaty earth and mineral flavors, with a finish that is fresh, sappy and long. This is simply delightful and will accompany charcuterie, of course, and any mild chicken or white meat dish and cow cheeses. Highly recommended - only 60 btls available.  David Lillie

  • red
  • 29 in stock
  • $24.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Grange aux Belles 2019 Vin de France La Chausée Rouge

I look forward to this wine every year! La Grange aux Belles is a small production run by young and ambitious winemaker, Marc Houtin in Anjou. His approach is to make wines that are lighter, lower in alcohol, and less tannic than many of the typical wines of the region. 'La Chaussée Rouge,' named after the vineyard site (once a battleground), is a blend of Grolleau, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested early and put through carbonic maceration. Distinctly earthy on the nose with notes of dried leaves, freshly turned earth and a mix of raspberry purée and cassis. On the palate the raspberry is fresher and brighter, almost spritely, with tart cranberry, and peppery shiso leaves. If this tells you anything my first tasting note for this vintage reads, "freakin yum". Drink this with a chill and pair with almost anything! Michelle DeWyngaert

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur