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As 2020 finally stumbles to a close, we welcome some returing favorites from the Northern Rhône, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais which should lift our spirits!
The excellent 2018 vintage in the Northern Rhône brought lush, full-bodied wines and generous levels of alcohol with excellent quality that varied due to late rains which brought balance and better maturation to some areas. In Crozes-Hermitage, altitude and terroir brought out the best qualities of this vintage. The wines of Stéphane Rousset, whose vines are on high slopes of granite, are particularly successful in 2018. According to Stéphane, the wines are full and powerful but a bit less balanced than in 2019, so he shortened the vinification on the classic Crozes and included stems in the "Picaudières" to bring freshness and structure. '"Les Picaudières" is one of my favorite hillsides in the whole Rhône Valley" says John Livingstone-Learmonth - the 2018 is a superb wine that will benefit from a year or two in bottle, then enjoy until 2040+.
The Guillemot-Michel family creates Mâcon Chardonnays with more depth and character than most wines from the Cote D'Or. The estate has been Biodynamic since 1992, vinifications are with wild yeasts, aging is in cement, amphora or old barrels with minimal use of volcanic sulfur. The oldest vines of the domain were planted by Pierrette Michel's grandfather after the First World War - the youngest parcel was planted in the early 1980s. Old vines are replaced one-by-one maintaining an average age of 65 years. The vines are situated on bedrock of limestone from the Jurassic era, planted in high density of 7,000 - 8,000 vines per hectare, and pruned according to the Guyot-Poussard method The resulting wines are extraordinarily elegant and will age beautifully for 20 to 30 years in most vintages. The 2018s here are gorgeous wines, we urge you to try them!
Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Champs de l'Abbaye in the Côte Chalonnaise have been farming with organic and biodynamic methods since 1999. Weve just received four vibrant 2019s frrom vineyards in Aluze, just west of Mercurey and Rully, which show the superb ripeness of the vintage and the bright freshness always found in the wines of Champs de L'Abbaye. Of special note is their new Côte Chalonnaise "Les Claveaux," made from young vines of Pinot Fin, from three different massale selections, with 10% Chardonnay. The palate is light and refreshing, but quite ripe, velvety and sapid in 2019 - really delicious!
We're very happy to announce that an unusual second shipment of Christian Ducroux' 2019 Vin de France "Exspectatia" has arrived in NY and should be in the store by this coming Monday, January 4th! This is one of the world's finest natural wines - drink now and over the next ten to fifteen years. (At a tasting in 2017 of 2009 vintage Beaujolais, including most of the top wines, the 2009 Ducroux was the clear winner) Christian Ducroux's vineyard work is certainly among the finest in France. His 4 hectares in Thulon, in the hills above Régnié, have been organically farmed since the 1980s and are Demeter certified Biodynamic, with a wild proliferation of vegetation between the vines which is minimally controlled by horse-drawn plowing. Christian has been practising this type of regenerative agriculture for 35 years, and he's very happy that more vineyards are now using these methods! (Please order separately! Case quantities are available, 1/04/2021 arrival)
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, a cool, late-ripening terroir with clay, sand and stones over firm granite. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. Although normally overshadowed by the Rousset's superb Crozes "les Picaudieres," the 2018 Saint-Joseph is a great success in this rather forward vintage - and was also vinified with a percentage of stems included to bring freshness and structure. The wine shows a dark black/red color with deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with plum, licorice, earth and smoke - quite ripe but with nice brightness as well. The palate is quite dense and supple with ripe black fruits and hints of blueberry, dark chocolate, black olive and roast meats which continue in the long finish with pronounced mineral flavors and firm acidity. The Rousset Saint-Joseph is normally somewhat austere and tightly structured when young, but the 2018 will be quite delicious as a young wine if decanted for a few hours. Despite the more forward aspect, there is plenty of structure here for aging, best perhaps 2022 to 2036. David Lillie
The 2019 "Les Gardes Rémi" is a new wine for Les Champs de l'Abbaye, coming from a parcel of 75 year-old vines in the Côte Chalonnaise, harvested late at optimum ripeness. (Not yet certified organic) This is "for lovers of mature, opulent Pinot Noir" says winemaker Alain Hasard. The wine was aged in a percentage of new oak to frame the lush fruit.
The Guillemot-Michel "Une Bulle" comes from a tiny parcel of old vines on limestone with red clay, high in iron. The wine is a Pet-Nat (Methode Ancestrale) that is bottled after a short period of fermentation, leaving enough sugar in the wine for the fermentation to continue and create the desired bubbles. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for around 18 months, then riddled and disgorged and re-bottled with a bit more "Une Bulle." The result is a very delicious aged Pet-Nat showing honeyed aromas of pear and white peach with hints of almond, marzipan and brioche. On the palate the mousse is soft and creamy with flavors of peach and quince with lime-flower and minerals and a long finish of white fruits, citrus peel and firm acidity. This is a delightful wine to sip by itself or pair with mild cheeses, patés and terrines, fruit desserts.. David Lillie
2019 "Exspectatia" (approximate blend, tasted in January 2020) Deep, high-toned aromas of black raspberry and raspberry, palate silky, velvety, round, raspberry and plum with darker fruit in the complex finish, plum skin, raspberry, citrus and earth. This is one of the world's finest natural wines - drink now and over the next ten to fifteen years. (At a recent tasting of 2009 vintage Beaujolais, including most of the finest, the 2009 Ducroux was the clear winner) Christian Ducroux's vineyard work is certainly among the finest in France. His 4 hectares in Thulon, in the hills above Régnié, have been organically farmed since the 1980s and are Demeter certified Biodynamic, with a wild proliferation of vegetation between the vines which is minimally controlled by horse-drawn plowing. Christian has been practising this type of regenerative agriculture for 35 years, and he's very happy that more vineyards are now using these methods! David Lillie
Les Picaudières is perhaps the best vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage, formerly owned by Raymond Roure and now tended by Stéphane Rousset. It's a steep slope of granite terraces, isolated in an oak forest facing due south and protected from the wind. (In the opinion of Livingston-Learmonth in "Wines of the Northern Rhône" wine from Les Picaudières is "certainly better" than many Hermitage from the eastern part of the hill.) The vines range from 20 to 80 years-old. The grapes are hand-harvested and mostly de-stemmed. The wine ages 16 months, 40% in foudre, 60% in burgundy barrels, new to 5 year-old. In 2018 Stephane fermented somewhat with whole clusters to bring freshness and structure in this very ripe year. The wine shows a deep red/black color with an elegant melange of ripe blackberry, black cherry and blueberry with bitter chocolate, black olive, earth and menthol. The palate shows bright berry liqueurs with deeper earthy black fruits , black pepper, cocoa and mineral flavors with ample tannins and a long saline finish of black fruits and firm acidity. It's quite well-structured and long even in this rather soft, forward vintage. This is a superb northern Rhône Syrah that can be enjoyed young, especially with grilled foods, but best to wait five to ten years and drink until 2035 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
From hillside vineyards in Erome, Gervans and Crozes, mostly granite with some limestone/clay, average age 45 years, aged 30% in foudre, 70% in one to 7 year-old burgundy barrels. This is no "ordinary" Crozes-Hermitage, but a real wine of terroir from great vineyard sites, all on hillsides. The 2018 is a bit riper than the 2017 with lush aromas of blackberry, blueberry, rose, musk and citrus. The palate is rich and supple, balanced and long, showing ripe red and black fruit liqueur lifted by floral notes and citrusy acids and finishing with nice mineral flavors, smoky notes and supple fruit. This is a very pretty Crozes to drink over the next 5 - 8 years, and a great value! David Lillie
From 85% Marsanne and 15% Roussanne grown on decomposed granite with clay and gravel - great terroir producing this delightful wine from the Rousset family. The Rousset Crozes Blanc is outstanding again in 2018 - the second vintage to include the new planting of Roussanne - and is one of the finest white wine values in the store! The wine shows fresh aromas of white peach, apricot, almond, ceamy lemon and lime-flower with a bit of white pepper. The palate is supple and dense with ripe pear, mineral and citrus flavors, with wet stone and honeysuckle. The finish is ripe and long with firm lemony acidity. Serve with white meats, a ceviche of fluke, full-flavored fish dishes or provençal fish soup and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
This is an oustanding Marsanne from vines planted in 1923, 1933 ad 1965, aged in 10% new, 90% 1 - 3 year-old 400 liter barrels, 8 months on the lees, no batonnage. The 2018 shows elegant aromas of apricot, peach skin, almond, lime-flower, and flint - the palate is round, dense and quite full-bodied, but well-structured with buttery white fruits, almond, stone, anise and mineral flavors with pear, citrus and mineral notes in the long finish. Pair this beautiful wine with full-flavored fish and chicken dishes and goat cheeses. David Lillie
The Hasard’s Bourgogne Blanc is made from hand-harvested and certified organic Chardonnay grown on a limestone/clay parcel in Aluze, next to Mercurey. The native-yeast fermentation lasts 10 months in barrel and only minimal SO2 is added at bottling. The 2019 is more fruit-forward on the nose, with aromas of dried mango, pear followed by ripe yellow fruits and river rocks. The palate is mineral, saline, and layered with notes of dried apricot, fennel, white flowers, and stone on a very generous finish. An excellent value white Burgundy that would pair well with oysters, cheeses, or roast chicken with herbs.
From 10 to 50 year-old vines grown on limestone soils (Middle Jurassic!) in the commune of Aluze, Cotes Chalonnaise, certified organic since 1999. This is a lovely Bourgogne Rouge, showing the ripeness of the 2019 vintage, but in a medium-bodied, balanced and bright style that is quite delicious! Vivid aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet and pepper, with a bright palate of blackberry and spicy red-currant/cherry fruit framed in mineral flavors and firm acidity. Delicious now served cool, it will benefit from decanting or a few years in the cellar as well. DL
The 2019 Côtes Chalonnaise "les Claveaux" is a lovely new cuvée from Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Les Champs de l'Abbaye. Made from young vines of Pinot Fin, from three diffeent massale selections, with 10% Chardonnay. The wine is delicate and delicious and should be served a bit cool. The aromas are vivid and very pretty - tart black cherry, black raspberry, citrus, coffee and violet. The palate is light and refreshing, but quite ripe, velvety and sapid in 2019, with cherry and berry fruits and hints of citrus, spice and earth. Serve with chicken and white meats and save some for grilled foods next summer. Just delicious and only 5 cs for the US... David Lillie
We're extremely happy to have the wines of Guillemot-Michel back at Chambers Street! Along with Jean and Gautier Thevenet, and Julien Guillot at Vignes du Maynes, they are making white Burgundies with more depth and minerality than anything comparably priced in the Cote D'Or. The 2018 Quintaine is a gorgeous white Burgundy, showing a brilliant pale gold color and complex aromas of poached pear, almond, candied lemon, kiwi, stone and lime-flower, elegant and quite beautiful. The palate is round and dense, a bit riper than the 2017, with firm acidity, showing cool stone fruits and citrus with caramel, stone and mineral flavors. The finish is long and very mineral, with chalky white fruits lingering on the palate. This is a young wine, give it some time in a carafe if possible. (At a recent tasting, the 1989 and 1990 were showing beautifully, so put a few in the cellar!) Beautiful wine - congratulations to Pierrette, Marc, Sophie and son-in-law Gautier!
Created in 2017, this cuvee is issued from grapes in the "Champ-Rond" vineyard, vinified in amphora of 800 liters. The 65 year-old vines are grafted on "Riparia Gloire de Montpellier" an old root-stock obtained in 1880, giving very low yields with magnificent small grapes, of a deep gold color. The 2018 Retour a la Terre presents the exotic notes typical of the domaine with an extra dimension of expression due to the respiration of the amphora. The small grapes of "Champ-Rond" ripen beautifully without a high degree of alcohol - they are picked on the last day of the harvest, and the elevage in amphora gives the wine a great purity. Tasted at the domaine in January 2020, the wine showed elegant floral, white fruit, apricot, lemon and stone aromas. The palate was round, dense and silky with fabulous length. This is a superb white Burgundy that is delicious now and will cellar beatifully for fifteen to twenty years. Highly recommended! David Lillie
"First produced in 2016, this cuvée is made from 100 year-old vines planted by Pierrette's grandfather after the First World War. In his honor, we wanted to vinify these vines that he planted as he made it himself, in old demi-muids (600 liter barrels). "Charleston" is thus fermented and aged for one year in a 10 year-old demi-muid. After the next harvest the wine is transfered to a cement vat for 6 additional months of aging." (From the Guillemot-Michel website) The 2018 "Charleston" is a great glass of Burgundy showing elegant white fruits with herbal and mineral notes, very fresh and bright. The palate is pure and very mineral, long and silky, with subtle white fruits, floral and honeyed with terrific length. A product of superb biodynamic farming (since 1992), the vines are situated on bedrock of limestone from the Jurassic era, much of it degraded into silt, planted in high density of 7,000 - 8,000 vines per hectare, and pruned according to the Guyot-Poussard method. Delicious as a young wine, the 2018 "Charleston" will age beautifully and in my humble opinion is a sensational value when compared to a village Puligny, Chassagne or Meursault. David Lillie