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Although it might not be completely reasonable to pair a wine region with a holiday, I think it is fair to say, that when consumers think Christmas, the wines of Bordeaux are almost always at the top of their lists. Today, we're offering a handful of our favorites; some new additions to our shelves, and some that have enjoyed a few merry seasons at the store in the past. All delicious, all well-farmed, and all suited for the spirited day at the end of December... or the tiny celebrations we'll be having to bring in 2021.
A few months ago, when I first tasted the 2015 Montagne-Saint-Émilion from Château Rocher Corbin, I had that moment when a drinker looks at his or her glass in astonishment. The first sip was that engaging - with rich dark berries, herbaceous pine, and a long finish of freshly ground espresso. My company and I couldn't not finish the bottle that night. Luckily, Philippe Durand of the Rocher Corbin estate makes the type of wine that we like to support. He has a little more than 10 hectares on the western side of Mont Calon, planted to clay and limestone. Most of his vines average 45 years of age, a good bit are 80, and he owns a group of Merlot vines that are said to be 150 years old. Durand works his fields organically. The wine is fermented naturally, mostly in cement, and sees 50% new oak, giving it fantastic structure and density. Such a treat to drink and will age well over the next decade, without question.
The Closeries des Moussis was created by two women in 2009, oenologist Pascale Choime and ecologist Laurence Alias, with the goal of producing natural wines in Bordeaux. The estate is certified organic and Biodynamic and has recently grown from 2.5 to 4.5 hectares, producing wines in Margaux, Haut Medoc and Blaye as well as from purchased fruit in the Côte de Duras. These are beautifully vibrant wines without the new oak, over-extraction and effects of industrial farming that are still sadly the norm in Bordeaux. Minimal plowing is done, by small tractor and horse, in order to preserve the life of the soil. The delicious 2019 Virevolte is made from 100% Merlot grown on clay/limestone soils in Blaye (Bordeaux); the superb 2018 Haut-Médoc is from vines on gravel soils on the plateau of Sénéjac. Both were vinified and bottled with zero additives - we urge you to try them!
Chateau Beausejour in Puisseguin, a satellite region of Saint-Émilion, is owned by Gerard Dupuy, but the 12 hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon have been in the family since 1934. From the start, it has been a chemical-free estate. Even Gerard's otherproperties (he's expanded the family business) all follow the guidelines of organic viticulture and most are certified, including Chateau Beausejour. Dupuy's zero-sulfur Cabernet Franc is one of a kind. It has flashy mineral tones, but also deep fruit of blackberries and raspberries. Plump but so clean. The 2015 Pusseguin Saint-Émilion is a tender, red fruited wine, with a core of concentrated cherry liqueur. Always satisfying. Some of the liveliest, most upfront bottles of Bordeaux we've enjoyed recently.
We're proud to offer two vintages of Pomerol from the 2nd generation estate, Chateau Bellegrave, and the man at the helm, Jean-Marie Bouldy. Located in the southern reaches of the region, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines are planted to gravel and red-clay. Jean-Marie's father never took up the industrial methods of his neighbors, and Jean-Marie continues that by keeping yields low, hand-harvesting the fruit, and vinifying with ambient yeasts. The estate is certified organic by Ecocert. The 2010 is a special wine, showing both full, generous aromas and flavors of spicy plums and flowers, as well as the structure of woven tannins and fresh acidity. The 2015 is firmer in mouthfeel, and denser in fruit - displaying black cherry, birch, and an awesome peak of delicious acidity. A wonderful couple to taste side-by-side.
Alain Moueix, one of Bordeaux's most well-known organic/biodynamic personalities, has a hand in creating the wines at Château Mazeyres, Château Cartier, and Château Fonroque. The first vintage of Mazeyres that I ever tasted was the 2013, and I was so impressed with how well-formed the wine was, coming from what is considered a less important vintage. The 2014 that we offer today shows the same fantastic structure, but has more stuffing - deep black fruits, wintery flavors of warm cedar and baking spice. I will forever have my eye on the Pomerols coming from Château Mazeyres. From Saint-Émilion, Cartier is the second label of Fonroque. First being certified organic, and then achieving biodynamic certification in 2008, Fonroque is the perfect example of how low-intervention vineyard and cellar work can produce wines that are rich, dark, and full of the characters that many Bordeaux drinkers find essential in the bottles that they buy. The 2015 Fonroque has this type of boldness. The 2016 Cartier is slightly less dramatic in profile. It is bright, floral, and very accessible.
So, cook up a storm, open a few bottles of lovely Bordeaux, and celebrate the perseverance of our communities, the resilient joy of this difficult holiday season, and the coming of a bright New Year. David Hatzopoulos
One of my favorite bottles of Bordeaux. This 100% Cabernet Franc is made using zero sulfur, from vines that are tended under strict organic measures. The Dupuy family have been farming the same land since 1934, and have done an amazing job creating terrior-driven reds from their healthy grapes. This 2018 dark purple in the glass. The nose is beautifully plummy, with smashed raspberries, cherry leaves, graphite, all-spice, and violets. Flavors range from of blackberries, cranberries, pine, mint, and espresso. Graced by a dynamic level of clean acidity and formidable tannin. An absolute must for any lover of Cabernet Franc, especially if they enjoy examples from the Loire Valley. David Hatzopoulos
Château Bellegrave's 2015 Pomerol doesn't tip-toe like the shier, more accented 2010. Yes, it takes the same amount of time as the older vintage to come together, but the concentration and strength of the wine is noticeable the instant the cork is popped. At its prime, it has a fantastic nose of dark cherry, woodsy spice, and a rich smell of birch and cinnamon. The palate is equally as powerful, displaying flavors of plum and blackberry, along with spicy flavors of fennel and caraway seeds.The mouthfeel is tannic, but a wash of clean acidity keeps the wine from being gritty or overly chewy. The most stand out quality of this wine was the smell I took before my last sip, which was a pungent smell of Autumn, intense with the scent of maple. A good pairing with roast chicken, but definitely qualifies for heartier, oilier meats, like lamb. This ripe wine is delicious today, but has many years ahead. David Hatzopoulos
Produced by Philippe Durand from 10.5 hectares of stunning, clover covered vineyards on the western slope of Mont Calon in Montagne. Vine age ranges, with most being an average of 45 years, though 15% are 80 years old and there are some Merlot vines that were planted 150 years ago. Strict berry picking is done to remove all withering grapes. Fermentation is done naturally, mostly in cement. The wine is aged for 12-14 months in 50% new oak. Black-red color in the glass. On the nose the wine shows squashed blackberry, pine needles, black tea, graphite. A real pleasure aroma-wise. The palate has black plum, black cherry, and long finish of bitter espresso that ends with a quick shift to a softer flavor of dark chocolate. Firm tannin and medium acidity. Such a great bottle to drink - random encounter that proved to be delicious. Should drink well over the next decade. David Hatzopoulos
What a treat - a beautiful Haut-Médoc with zero added sulfur from certified organic and biodynamic farming! Pascale Choime and Laurence Alias of the Closeries des Moussis have a small parcel with sandy gravel soils (bordered by dense woods providing biodiversity) on the Plateau de Sénéjac, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, where they produce this pure and vibrant Bordeaux. There is minimal extraction, aging is 16 months in old barrels. We tasted the 2018 last winter in Angers with Laurence - it showed lovely silky red and black fruits, with great purity and length, really an outstanding Haut-Medoc, unburdened by new oak and sulfur-dioxide. Quite delicious for current drinking or cellaring for ten - fifteen years. Highly recommended! David LIliie
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
The 2010 Château Bellegrave is something serious. Not an outright meaty wine, it's savory in more of an alluring, herbaceous, mint-and-tobacco way. An hour open reveals a nose of red fruit, flavors of dark minerals and plum, and a bracing structure of lean edges and good acidity. The crucial stuffing, the attractive, semi-plump middle, forms after three hours or so of air. At this point, the wine's aromas and flavors have expanded, too. Dashes of extra-dark cocoa and dried cherries hum under more pungent and lasting aromas of black pepper, leather and smoke. A subtle, bitter kiss of ground espresso and an even subtler peck of mint give pleasurable nuance to a palate of dates, plum, and red currants. No cellaring needed, drink this today - just open it at 5 if your meal begins at 8. David Hatzopoulos
Another compelling vintage from Chateau Mazeyres in Pomerol. A blend of mostly Merlot, with about a quarter Cabernet Franc and just a tiny amount of Petit Verdot planted on clay soils, with some plots having additional layers of sand and gravel. Hand-harvested, fermented in steel and concrete, aged in wood (40% new), for 14 months. On the nose, there are deep black fruits, hints of spice and rich woodsy aromas. On the palate, the texture is warm and generous, with bold plum and black cherry, with accents of herbs and mint. Delicious now, but should be prime in just under a decade. David Hatzopoulos
The second label to Chateau Fonroque, this Merlot-based red comes from limestone/clay soils in St. Emilion. Vines average 35 years of age and fruit is harvested by hand. The nose delivers scents of dark flowers and rich baked fruit. The palate shows deep red and black cherry and plum, with accents of warm cedar and herbs. There is great minerality, which lends the wine a structure of supreme freshness. David Hatzopoulos