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(We apologize for the overabundance of great wine in this email, arrival Wednesday 8/11)
Domaine les Terres Blanches
South of Saumur and west of Chinon (but legally in Anjou) is the sleepy village of Oiron where Celine and Benoit Blet at Domaine les Terres Blanches make superb organic/Biodynamic wines on an interesting terroir of sandstone (grès) and limestone marnes under sandy clay/silex/quartz topsoils. (This rocky outcrop was born from the confrontation of the Massif Armoricain - schistes - and the Paris Basin - limestone.) We have been fascinated by the subtle and complex fruit and terroir expression of the Terres Blanches wines at recent tastings in France and are happy to offer six of their unique and delicious wines that are rarely available in the US, in addition to the "Trois Poiriers" and "Ancestral Brut" that we normally feature. This is a quite special, relatively unknown estate - we hope lovers of the Loire Valley will try these outstanding wines...
The village of Oiron was cited by Curnonsky for the quality of it's Chenin Blancs - the domaine produces five different Chenins, four of which are offered today. "Les Trois Poiriers" is an elegant, complex dry Chenin that is silky and refreshing for current drinking, served with fish, shellfish and white meats - It's a sensational value! The 2019 Clos Bel Air is from a ancient walled vineyard, one-half hectare, with superb terroir that brings a crystalline purity and mineral character to this scintillating Chenin, for drinking over the next ten to fifteen years. The 2019 "Blet Tendre" is a demi-sec Chenin Blanc with about 45 gr/liter RS, from grapes harvested on the 3rd pass through the vines in late Octobre. The soils are sandstone with quartz and silex which bring a lively acidity balancing the sweetness of the wine. The wine shows bright citrus, pear and white peach aromas with a full silky palate which is beautifully balanced and long. This is a superb demi-sec Chenin that will be a wonderful aperitif and will accompany fruit desserts, patés and full-flavored cheeses. Highly recommended! The 2018 Ancestral Brut is a wonderfully elegant, dry and crystalline Pet Nat showing lovely subtle aromas of pear, peach and grapefruit, with beautiful chalky, stony acidity and terrific length. Just delicious!
Gamay and Cabernet Franc do particularly well in the unique soils of Oiron - the Blets are preserving an old variety, Gamay de Bouze, which produced a deep, dark and delicious wine in 2018 featuring lush, spicey fruit framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors. Serve cool over the next 3 - 5 years.
The estate makes two outstanding Cabernet Francs. The 2019 "Anjou Demon" was vinified to accentuate the sapid fruit of the 2019 vintage, the aromas are earthy, on blackcurrant, ink, graphite, black pepper, with a hint of game-birds. The palate is focused and fresh with a ripe finish of vibrant fruit, reinforced by minty acidity - serve cool over the next few years. From old vines in the "Les Hautes Bruyeres" vineyard, the 2017 Cabernet Franc underwent a long, slow fermentation followed by 18 months in 2 - 5 year-old barriques. It's a unique and intriguing Cab Franc that is delicious now, and over the next 10 - 15 years, and it's a great value!
Chardonnay Sous-Voile from the Loire! "We have 20 ares of Chardonnay. A garden..." says Benoit. "Our various meetings and tastings made us discover the magic of Jura wines. Our wish is to find new aromatic complexities without losing the finesse and tension of our Chardonnay. The entire fermentation and aging phase takes place without topping. At the end of alcoholic fermentation, a yeast skin forms to protect the wine from the air. An 18-month aging under this veil follows." We have only 12 btls of the 2017 - the 2016, tasted in January 2020, showed elegant subtle pear, herbal, citrus aromas, mildly oxidative, with a round, ripe, very elegant palate. This is really unique and worth trying!
New Re-Releases from Domaine Pinon!
We're very excited to have another few cases of the superb 2012 Vouvray Brut Non-Dosé - a special re-release of this beautiful wine, disgorged and re-bottled after 7 years sur lie! This great glass of sparkling Chenin is just beginning to show signs of maturity, very slightly softening the chalky brilliance of this scintillating Brut. It's fantastic now, but those that have the time and space should put some away for another ten to twenty years for a great mature experience. A great way to remember our friend François...
2016 Vouvray "Le Seize" was the Pinon's only white wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaced the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone Technically a demi-sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray...
Back in stock: The beautiful 2018 "Les Deronnieres," a great and very age-worthy Vouvray from the Pinon's best vineyard, and the 2019 Petillant Naturel Rosé - 50% Cot and 50% Grolleau, 100% delicious!
Three sell-outs from last week are back - the naturally refreshing 2020 Moussamoussettes, the light and lovely 2020 Bangarang (second edition) and the unique Anjou/Gaillac blend of the 2020 Magic of Juju - don't miss them! (Last NY stock of Moussamoussettes and Bangarang)
Domaine de la Chevalerie
The Caslot family at Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil regularly makes some of the world's most delicious Cabernet Francs. "Every time I open a bottle of Domaine de la Chevalerie, I can’t help but smile" says our friend Pascaline. The wines of Chevalerie possess a somewhat indescribable quality - a unique balance between fruit and terroir flavors, enhanced by firm, bright acidity, giving the wines a unique feeling of vibrancy and life that seems to echo the vitality of the family itself. Last night I tasted for the first time the 2018 Chevalerie "Diptyque - Franco de Porc." I was expecting a nice wine as the 2018 vintage produced excellent Loire reds, but I was not prepared for the astonishingly dense, complex beauty of this inexpensive "everyday" wine! Buy a case or two and drink over the next five years... And for those seeking one of the finest red wines of the Loire, we have 15 bottles left of the 2014 Chevalerie "Grand Mont," peak drinking 2030 to 2045.
in memory of François and Stéphanie
The Terres Blanches "Blet Tendre" is a demi-sec Chenin Blanc with about 45 gr/liter RS, from grapes harvested on the 3rd pass through the vines in late Octobre. The soils are sandstone with quartz and silex which bring a lively acidity balancing the sweetness of the wine. The wine shows bright citrus, pear and white peach aromas with a full silky palate which is beautifully balanced and long. This is a superb demi-sec Chenin that will be a wonderful aperitif and will accompany fruit desserts, patés and full-flavored cheeses. Highly recommended! David Lillie
South of Saumur and west of Chinon (but legally in Anjou) is the sleepy village of Oiron where Benoit Blet at Domaine des Terres Blanches makes superb wines on an interesting terroir of sandstone(grès) under sandy clay topsoils. "Les Hautes Bruyères" is from old vines of Cabernet Franc; the wine undergoes a long slow fermentation with wild yeasts and is then gravity-fed into small 2 to 5 year-old barrriques for 18 months of aging. This is a unique and delicious Cab Franc that shows an opaque black/red color and intriguing aromas of ripe blackberry, cassis and black plum with hints of dark chocolate, expresso and earth. The palate is ripe and supple with a chalky texture, showing pretty blackberry and cassis fruit with bitter chocolate, citrus and mineral flavors that linger on the long finish. A bit different from either an Anjou or Chinon Cab Franc, the Hautes Bruyères will accompany a variety of poultry and pork dishes and will be great with a steak/frites, served a bit cool. This will age beautifully as well, drink until 2035+. David Lillie
100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon's only white wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaces the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. The vines average 40 years in age, are certified organic and were hand-harvested from October 10-18. Fermentation took place spontaneously with natural yeasts and lasted 2-3 months in wood vats. The wine was aged 4-5 months on its fine lees in old tonneaux (large oak barrels) and gently filtered before bottling in April 2017 with 22.4 grams/liter of residual sugar and 5.5 g/L total acid. Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone . Technically a Demi-Sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray. David Lillie
The grapes for this cuvée from Francois Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2018 it's fabulously ripe, dense and complex, and finished dry (for Vouvray) in 2018, with a technically sec level of 8 grams RS and a very firm 4.7 grams acidity. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very supple and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great Vouvray with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully! (The Pinon 1964 Demi-Sec is extraordiary now...) Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The Chevalerie Bourgueil Diptyque is from vines located on 1 to 2 meters deep sand and gravel intermixed with clay soils on an old alluvial terrace close to the Loire, at the foot of the coteau. This terroir gives supple, fruit driven Cabernet without being green or too simple thanks to the Biodynamic farming of the domain. Maceration is short, aging is usually short (4-5 months) and only in tanks. This is the vin de soif du the domaine - hyper quaffable, you can serve it slightly chilled, pop it open to pair with pretty much every type of food and even keep a couple of years!. If you don’t believe cabernet franc can be delicious, juicy, savoury yet fruity, just try this wine! 2018 was a beautifully ripe and well-balanced vintage for Loire reds - The 2018 Diptyque shows a deep black/red color with aromas of forest floor, black cherry liqueur, black raspberry, bitter chocolate and licorice with bright hints of herbs and citrus peel. The palate is bright, sapid and supple wth dense flavors of earth, black fruits , anise, cocoa and chalky minerals. The finish is long, with lingering black fruits, minerals and earth with very firm citrusy acids and cocoa at the end. Wow, just a delicious and beautiful young Cabernet Franc! Tannins are really gentle yet present, with a licorice root feel. Even if it is the vin de soif, you can drink it over a couple of days - it will only get better! Keep it up to 5 years with no problem. Serve with charcuterie, pork chops or roast chicken and be happy! 100% Cabernet Franc. Pascaline Lepeltier/David Lillie
The lovely pear and apple flavors and silky texture will make this wine a big hit with the friends and family on Thanksgiving! Arrives Monday 11/15. We love the wines of Benoit and Celine Blet at Les Terres Blanches in Oiron, grown on unique terroirs of limestone marls, quarts and sandstone. "Les Trois Poiriers" shows elegant aromas of pear, apple and minerals and a beautifully silky palate with white fruit, herbal, citrus, spice and stone flavors with excellent length. "Elegant" is the key word for this very unique and delicious wine, certainly one of the best values in Chenin Blanc you'll find anywhere. Drink over the next five years. David Lillie
The lovely pear and apple flavors and silky texture will make this wine a big hit with the friends and family on Thanksgiving! Arrives Monday 11/15.
We love the wines of Benoit and Celine Blet at Les Terres Blanches in Oiron, grown on unique terroirs of limestone marls, quarts and sandstone. "Les Trois Poiriers" shows elegant aromas of pear, apple and minerals and a beautifully silky palate with white fruit, herbal, citrus, spice and stone flavors with excellent length. "Elegant" is the key word for this very unique and delicious wine, certainly one of the best values in Chenin Blanc you'll find anywhere. Drink over the next five years. David Lillie
The Clos Bel Air is a ancient walled vineyard, one-half hectare, that was renovated and replanted by Benoit and Celine Blet in 2006, with superb terroir bringing a crystalline purity and mineral character to this lovely Chenin Blanc. The aromas are ripe but elegant with confit of citrus, dried white and yellow fruits and minerals. The palate is bright with fabulous depth and length, really a gorgeous Chenin that is delicious now and will benefit from ten years of cellaring. Serve with fish in sauce, white meats, goat cheeses and aged comté. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Chardonnay Sous-Voile from the Loire! "We have 20 ares of Chardonnay. A garden..." says Benoit. "Our various meetings and tastings made us discover the magic of Jura wines. Our wish is to find new aromatic complexities without losing the finesse and tension of our Chardonnay. During the harvest, the few cases of grapes harvested from the 20 ares are delicately placed in the press. The juices are drained by gravity into 2 to 3 barrels without settling or pump. The entire fermentation and aging phase takes place without topping. At the end of alcoholic fermentation, a yeast skin forms to protect the wine from the air. An 18-month aging under this veil follows."We have only 12 btls of the 2017 - the 2016, tasted in January 2020, showed elegant subtle pear, herbal, citrus aromas, mildly oxidative, with a round, ripe, very elegant palate. This is really unique and worth trying! DL
"Gamay de Bouze, semi-teinturier, with slightly rosé juice and black pulp, from the "La Vacherie" plot, composed of clays and silica with some red and ferrous sandstones. Our predecessor planted it in the 1980s to bring some color to his red wines. When we discovered this tiny plot in 2003, a heat wave year, we tasted grapes with notes of pepper and spices, an incredible discovery! Since then, we have always harvested and vinified this forgotten grape variety, wanting to keep all its complexity - Harvested very ripe, we vat 50% of the harvest in whole bunches and de-stem the remaining 50% in tronconic casks (Vicard cooperage).The maceration is semi-carbonic, one-year aging is done in the cask. The color is very dark garnet, almost opaque. The nose succeeds in being both lush and classy, on candied red and black fruits, cherry stone and fine cocoa-flavored spices. The palate combines fullness and tension, with a dense and velvety enveloping substance of great aromatic freshness. The whole is harmonious, with a distinguished sensuality (the black dress which covers everything but hides nothing). The finish is velvety, freshness and this great distinction, but to a higher degree, underlined by a fine chalky texture, with a persistence on black cherry (and its stone), cocoa." Yum!
Notes from the estate, awkwardly translated: "The 2019 "Anjou Demon" is 100% Cabernet Franc from the Parcelle de la Poulette, at the top of Hautes-Bruyères and Bois Roland. The grapes are harvested at very good maturity, destemmed and infused (macerated) for a month, offering us a concentration of black fruits and blackcurrant. The juice is extracted gently, the touch of the tannins is round and silky. The wine is naturally clarified by racking and bottled in June. Tasting: The color is very very dark purple. The nose is earthy, on blackcurrant, ink, graphite, black pepper, with a hint of game-birds. The palate is focused, firm and deploys a material of an impressive density, while managing to make it sensual, caressing, and very fresh and balanced despite the 14% alcohol which is imperceptible. The finish continues in freshness and balance: it is lively, pleasing, always with a remarkably controlled tannic structure, and a sapid finish of vibrant fruit, reinforced by minty acidity."
Les Terres Blanches Brut Ancestrale is 100% Chenin Blanc from low yielding vines in soils of sandy clay, quartz and limestone. The initial fermentation is in underground cement vats, without SO2, finishing at 22 - 23 gr/liter of sugar. The fermentation in bottle finishes quite dry and there is no dosage at disgorgement. This is a wonderfully elegant and crystalline Pet Nat showing lovely subtle aromas of pear, peach and grapefruit, with beautiful chalky, stony acidity and terrific length. Just delicious!
The re-release of the Pinon 2012 Brut Non-Dosé is drinking beautifully now, after 7-plus years on the lees. Even at my advanced age, I plan on cellaring a case of this very special wine for another ten to twenty years. Here is our original review: François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex. The fermentation lasts 4 to 6 weeks without added yeast or sugar. 2012 is a beautiful year for this wine as the bright fruit and firm acidity of the vintage contribute to the elegance and structure of this cuvée. The wine shows aromas of creamy lemon, pear, brioche, fines herbes and stone, with pear, green apple. mineral, herbal and bitter lemon flavors on the palate. The mousse is fine and refreshing and there is fabulous length of dried herbs, citrus pear and stone flavors on the finish. This very young wine will develop nicely in the glass and will cellar beautifully for twenty years or more - a few years ago we tasted a 1976 that was sensational. David Lillie
50% Cot and 50% Grolleau, organically farmed in Vouvray by Julien and François Pinon. This is an elegant and very delicious Pet Nat that will accompany just about anything and is delightful as an aperitif by itself. The aromas are quite pretty with ripe raspberry, strawberry and red currant with hints of rose and blood orange. The palate is fresh and creamy with raspberry and tart strawberry with a nice mineral kick and sappy fruit in the refreshing finish. Grab this before it's gone... DL
(Last of NY stock) The Moussamoussettes is back and our friend Maya at Louis/Dressner Selections says the 2020 is sensational! A Chambers Street favorite, this years rendition is a blend of Grolleau Noir, Cabernet Franc and Pineau d'Aunis from 35 year-old vines. Fermented in underground vats and bottled with 10 grams RS/liter, finished dry. Flavorful and vibrant, pulsing with ripe red berry fruit with hints of blood orange, grapefruit and sweet spice with lively and refreshing bubbles. Grab some before it disappears...
(Last of NY Stock) The Mosse family's 2nd version of Bangarang in 2020 is 90% Pineau D'Aunis with 10% Cabernet Franc grown on clay/schiste soils in Anjou. 4 day whole-cluster maceration for part of the Pineau D'Aunis, direct press for the rest, 2 week maceration for the Cab Franc. 11.5% alcohol, 26 mg/l total SO2. Clear bright red color, aromas of ripe red fruits and white pepper, the palate is refreshing and bright with red currant, raspberry and earthy flavors with lively acidity - really a perfect match for some good charcuterie and a picnic in the park, just don't get caught with the open bottle..
This year's version of the "Magic of Juju" is 70% Chenin from the Loire and 30% Loin de l'Oeil from Gaillac. The grapes ferment and age on the lees in old barriques for 6 months with the blend done about 6 weeks before bottling. The fruit profile is dominated by honeydew melon, crisp yellow apple and green pear, with a tart salty quality in the mid-palate reminiscent of the best Greek yogurt drizzled with honey. There is good weight and a lovely sense of balance here. All in all, this is delicious. Be the first on your block to taste this unique blend!
"Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Benais - a high, south-facing slope on yellow Turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Wines from this vineyard are built to age and this rare bottling from Domaine de la Chevalerie is a beautiful example. They started to produce it in 2009, and they consider it their grande cuvée. The wine ages in a one-year-old barrel and several older barrels for 7 months, bottled unfined unfiltered. 2014 Loire reds are superb - it was not an easy vintage for the winemakers, but the results were often fabulous, especially at Chevalerie, with a perfect balance of ripe black and red fruits with firm earthy acidity. The 2014 "Grand Mont" shows a very dark black/purple color with elegant aromas of black raspberry and blackberry with violet, earth, dark chocolate, citrus and game. The palate shows silky tannins and complex red and black fruits - beautifully balanced with bright acidity and mineral flavours. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last, really a perfect Bourgueil that will become a profound mature wine in ten to fifteen years - then drink until 2045 and beyond. Open the day before if drinking now, paired with a confit rabbit with cardamon & juniper served with roasted celeriac, or a coq-au-vin. 100% Cabernet Franc. David Lillie / Pascaline Lepeltier.