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A second installment, the property of a Passionate Collector; removed from professional storage.
(Pre-arrival, in store week of June 6th) Bretêche (Domaine de la Chevalerie is the only estate claiming this vineyard name) is the easternmost vineyard, a rented plot on the border of Ingrandes-de-Touraine. On the southwestern exposed upper part of the mid-slope, the vines are planted on a meter-deep heavier clay with high mica content above the Turonian yellow tuffeau. The vines, biodynamically farmed, are between 25 to 55 years old. More powerful than Busardières with broader tannins, the wine maintains a great freshness. Hand-harvested and destemmed, the grapes are macerated for up to 20 days and aged in large used barrels in the magnificent underground cave dug into the yellow tuffeau for roughly 8 to 10 moths. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. 2014 is considered a great classic vintage in the Loire for Cabernet Franc, and it is indeed very good at Domaine de la Chevalerie, with fruit a little darker than the 2015 (this opposite to a lot of other estates in the region). Ruby purple in the glass this cuvée as usual has more freshness, tension and a little austerity - 2014 enhances these typical quality of the wine! More open than the 2015, the nose has distinctive black cherry, elderberry notes, Chinese badiane and spearmint. The palate is still deliciously youthful barely showing any evolution, with lean and brilliant acidity, and oolong-like tannins. It is already very-well structured and poised, not angular at all. Decant it 2 hours and serve it in Bordeaux glasses, or keep it 20 years or so - I would say it will reach another plateau by 2025. Enjoy it with a duck magret, the juice reduced with a touch of raspberry vinegar, or sweetbreads in a madeira sauce. 100% Cabernet Franc. Pascaline Lepeltier
This is a lovely Beaujolais from the Chignard family, better known for their Fleurie "Les Moriers." Possessing the bright fruit and balance of the 2016 vintage in Beaujolais, the Julienas "Beauvernay" shows a pretty red/black color, with elegant aromas of red currant and tart black cherry with violet, blood orange, earth and stone. It's ripe and sapid but with lively acidity and perfectly proportioned at 12.5% alcohol. Tart cherry, plum and red currant fruit with saline minerals, earth and spice coat the palate and continue in the earthy finish. Quite lovely now, this should soften and gain complexity with three to five years of aging, drink till 2025-2028. DL
We have had the pleasure of selling every vintage of Alain Coudert's "Cuvée Tardive" since it's creation in 1994 (or was it 1995?) and the 2018 is certainly one of the best! It's better balanced than the very ripe 2009, a bit prettier than the well-structured 2010, a bit denser than the beautiful 2014...maybe it's the best yet? From average 80 year-old vines in clay with manganese in addition to granite soils near Moulin-A-Vent, fermentation in whole clusters with native yeasts in open-top, neutral wood vats with the cap kept submerged; the maceration for Tardive is approximately 18 days, aging takes place in old foudres. The 2018 shows a dark black/red color, with astonishing aromas of ripe cassis and black cherry with bitter mocha, violet, licorice, earth and smoke. The palate is deep and velvety with black cherry, blackberry and strawberry liqueur, licorice and spice, backed by firm acidity and gritty mineral flavors. While the wine is ripe and supple enough to drink young, it will repay a few years of aging and should be very interesting in 2030 to 2035. Very little is available, 6 bottle maximum, please. David Lillie
Sandwiched between the appellations of Morgon and Fleurie, Chiroubles is slightly less famous than its two neighbors, and can occasionally be referred to as producing wines of less complexity, with a more immediate and obvious charm. Yet there is no lack of excitement in the vielles vignes (old vines) offerings from Georges Descombes, and the 2018 Chiroubles is no exception, and showing quite beautifully right now, though a decant definitely helps. The nose shows wonderful deep fruit notes of dark cherry, cherry liqueur, blackberry, dark forest fruit, raspberry, raspberry leaves, blackcurrant tea, and a hint of baking spice and nutmeg. The palate is fresh and energetic, with vibrant acidity and is both expressive and showing great intensity of flavor. The fruit of the nose translates well, though slightly more red fruit tinged, and introduces a hint of orange zest and apple peel. There is also a bit of earthiness and minerality, which balances well with the fruit and spice notes. A delicious bottle now, this will only get better in the next 10 years. Oskar Kostecki
Pretty young to be checking in on the old vines cuvée, but these are unusual times to say the least. Dark ruby, verging in purple robe. Dusty crushed blackberries, violets, and a brambly note on the nose. Nothing roasted or overripe here, despite the black fruit. The palate is mid-weight and has fine sap and vigor, with succulent ripeness and plenty of dry extract to buffer the firm—not stern—tannins. There’s good tension between the bright, ripe, concentrated fruit and the substantial mineral core. The finish is long and layered with good lift and fine persistence. There’s good structure here and while this has plenty of charm now, this ought to dazzle with 5-7 years in the cellar and beyond. And while the prices have crept up, this is a steal given its breed and rivals plenty of very good villages wines from my beloved Côte d’Or in character and complexity. John McIlwain
David Reynaud's "Domaine les Bruyères" has been certified organic and Biodynamic for many years. "Les Croix" is from a parcel of 6o year-old vines on a sandy clay/limestone terroir, covered in small stones. The grapes are hand harvested into small crates, vinification is in cement vat with wild yeasts, aging is in four and five year-old barrels. The wine shows a bright red/black color with vibrant, cool aromas of morello cherry, blueberry and cassis, with black olive, licorice and floral notes. The palate shows darker black fruits, with licorice, garrigue and mineral flavors. The texture is silky but framed in firm acidity, with grippy black fruits in the earthy finsh. This is a serious Crozes that is quite ripe and delicious for early drinking, but 5 to 8 years in the cellar should really make it sing. Drink until 2030.
(Arrives 3/29) 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!
This is Gigondas at its finest! 100% Grenache from massale selection old vines, fermented in cement, and aged in large oak vats before being bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal added sulphur. 2015 is a great vintage for Dany and Carole Chastan at the Clos du Joncuas, and their 2015 Esprit de Grenache is simply outstanding. Since 1900 the estate has been farmed organically and the winemaking here is completely traditional with whole-cluster fermentations and aging in old foudres. Tasted at the estate in January of 2017, the wine showed dense elegant black fruit aromas with licorice and earth. The palate is pure and long with deep blackberry flavors with olive, earth, citrus and bitter chocolate - just fantastic! As with all the 2015s here, the wine is delicious in its youthful fruit and intensity, but ten to fifteen years of aging will reveal a truly great southern Rhone Grenache. Very highly recommended! DL
100% Syrah, 60% from Chavaroche (1940s), 40% from Mollard, Côte brune, Côte Blonde (1978-80), whole bunch fermentation, 3 week vinification in 50 hl concrete vats, cap is immersed, twice daily pumping overs, held at 29°C aged 30% new, 70% used oak casks, barrels 24 months.From Importer Neal Rosenthal: "The crown jewel of the Levet family’s holdings is a 1.2-hectare parcel of old vines at the very summit of the great La Chavaroche vineyard, and the wine they summon from this dizzying slope is among the most iconic in our entire portfolio. Always arrestingly wild, “La Chavaroche” possesses an unmistakable musk: a warm-animal profile that feels somehow ancient and unknowable, a sort of profound riddle of terroir." Drink over the next 20 to 30 years.
This classic Cornas is from vines averaging 60 years old on granite "gores" in the vineyards of "Combe," "Patou," "La Cote," "les Mazards" and "Chaillots." The grapes are partially de-stemmed, fermentation is with wild yeasts, aging is 20 months in barrique 15% new. The aromas are elegant and bright with red currant and black raspberry, earth and stone. The palate is dense with ripe black fruits, licorice and earth, with a beautiful, very long finish of black fruits with intense minerality. "Terroir in the glass here, for lovers of The Real Thing" says Drinkrhone and we couldn't agree more. Drink this superb Cornas over the next 15 to 20 years. David Lillie
The lovely 2017 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry is all Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2019 the wine was quite pretty showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL
The Baudry "Cuvee Domaine" is near and dear to my heart, and not just because of the modest price. 75% of the blend is from a parcel in Saint-Louans, a spot where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, and which has been the source of some of my favorite Chinons, such as the legendary Clos du Parc de Saint-Louans of Louis Farou. 25% of the blend is from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. This is a great combination, making the wine enjoyable to drink young but with the structure and minerality of the more "serious" terroir. The 2017, for example is delicious to drink now, the 2010 is really singing and the 1989... if you can find one, let me know. The 2018 Domaine is a bit unusual in that the fermentation finished with 1.7 gr/liter of residual sugar, still a dry wine but forcing them to filter, which the Baudrys never do. At any rate, the wine is sensational - floral and elegant with aromas of black raspberry liqueur; the palate shows high-toned ripe black fruits, with violet and stone and a very long ripe finish. Enjoy in its exuberant youth or hold for ten years and more as the terroir shines through. David Lillie
One of the most pleasurable red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux is from a unique parcel of old vines near the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. The grapes are harvested by hand of course and fermented with wild yeasts with zero SO2 added during vinification. Beginning in 2017, the wine ages in large cement vats by Nico Velo, which are slightly porous. Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, making it delicious as a young wine, combined with the ability to age beautifully for 20 years and more in good vintages. (Assembled wine tasted in January 2020) The 2018 is an astonishing wine showing a deep black/red color with slight reduction then bright beautiful aromas of black raspberry, blackberry, violets and earth. The palate is silky and elegant with vibrant cassis and black raspberry fruit with a sensational finish of palate coating black fruits and minerals with perfect acidity and terrific length. In short a great vintage for Les Grézeaux that will drink beautifully at any point in its 20 - 25 year evolution. Chris Kissack, one of the leading writers on all things Loire, sums it up nicely: "This is a truly stunning Les Grézeaux, surely the best I have ever tasted. Great potential here, and a must-have for fans of Chinon and this domaine." I will be putting a case or two in my crawl-space, while making sure there is room for the 2018 Baudry "Domaine," "Le Clos Guillot," and "La Croix Boissée." David Lillie
The Heritage Red from Bedrock Vineyard is from a Zinfandel-based blend composed of 22 inter-planted varieties planted in the 1880s in Red Hill clay-loam soils, using no-till cover crop farming, and native yeast fermentation. Zinfandel really shines from these old, gnarled vines. The concentration of flavor that you get from the very low yields adds richness to the wines without having to pick them late and overripe. The nose shows a mix of violet, minty eucalyptus, and ripe, but not syrupy, purple plum. The palate shows additional complexity with a touch of cocoa powder, black tea, and black cherry. Rich and comforting, this will be excellent in the colder months! Michelle DeWyngaert
A new bottling (with the very cool label used for the old Cantina del Camino) in honor of the founder of Vallana, this is a blend from Nebbiolo vines in Boca and Gattinara. We've been tasting a lot of wine from the region lately, and this really tastes like Vallana, with much more finesse than the competition. It's certainly drinking very young now and will repay some time in the cellar. JW