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As wintry weather arrives we're happy to have the superb Cahors of Sophie and Julien Ilbert at Combel-la-Serre back on the shelves! Their 2019 "Pur Fruit du Causse" will warm you up with its beautifully lush blackberry fruit, but it's round, supple and refreshing as well - real easy-drinking pleasure. A bit more serious is the 2018 "Au Cerisier" - while there is more density and complexity to the fruit and a very earthy, mineral core, the wine remains silky and balanced, perfect to accompany a vegetable tagine, stew or grilled meats on a cold night...
Our Beaujolais section just got a lift from the 2020 Morgons of Domaine Desvignes! Now in the 8th generation of this family of winemakers, siblings Claude-Emmanuelle and Louis-Benoît work their parcels organically and hand harvest their 11 hectares in Morgon, looking for peak ripeness and healthy fruit to make elegant and structural, age-worthy wines. The 2020 "Côte du Py" comes from vines averaging around 70 years of age, planted on manganese-rich schist soils, while the 2020 "Corcelette" is from a famous vineyard with sandy granit soils giving a lighter, vibrant and refreshing style of Morgon. The Georges Descombes Vieilles Vignes bottlings are simply sensational in 2019 and we're glad to have the late-arrival 2019 Regnié Vieilles Vignes joining forces with the Mogon and Chiroubles...
Since taking over the estate from her mother in 2001, Evelyne de Pontbriand has taken the Domaine du Closel in Savennières to the highest level, and now produces some of the worlds' finest Chenin Blancs. Evelyne converted the estate to organic farming, certified in 2006, and to Biodynamic agriculture, certified in 2015. In 2018, a great vintage for the Loire Valley, the domain's top cuvée, the "Clos du Papillon," is particualrly outstanding. Vinified dry, the wine shows extraordinary concentration and depth combined with great minerality and acidity - although it is superb now, the wine should drink beautifully over the next 20 to 30 years. A bit softer and more forward, the 2018 "La Jalousie" is outstanding as well, showing an exuberant nose with aromas of lime zest, white flowers and herbaceousness, while the palate offers flavors of zesty lime and bright pear with a crunchy minerality underpinning it's medium body and lively acidity. Also of note, the declassified Savennières from the Biodynamic master and vine whisperer, Clement Baraut, who has some rows in the famous Roche aux Moines vineyard among his plots. Baraut's Herbes Folles is a beautiful, textbook dry Chenin from schist and clay/schist vineyards in Savennières. An outstanding value at $24!!
We're happy to have a new shipment of Chinons from Patrick Lambert, whose tiny organic estate is around the corner from the Baudrys in Cravant-les-Coteaux. We were able to get a few more cases of his wonderfully old-fashioned 2017 Chinon Vieilles Vignes, and a good quantity of his beautiful 2020 "Cuvée Gourmandise." As the name suggests, this is a lush and vibrant wine that should be served a bit cool - it's super-delicious and might be The World's Best Value in Cabernet Franc!
The 2016 Pierre André Chateauneuf-du-Pape has finally arrived - this is one of the top wines in this great vintage for CDP! Pierre André was a true hero of Chateauneuf, turning to organic and Biodynamic farming and traditional winemaking when chemical agriculture and new oak became the norm. Jacqueline André has continued his great work - we cannot recommend this beautiful, soulful wine highly enough - drink now after a long decant or cellar for 10 to 20 years for a magnificent mature wine.
Our friend Eric Texier is making some of the finest wines in the Rhône Valley, both in the south and the north. His Chateauneuf-du-Papes, red and white, are outstanding, and his work in Brézème and St Julien-en-St Alban has resurrected forgotten vineyards and is producing magnificent wines. On offer today are Eric's superb Domaine Pergaud Vieilles Vignes cuvées 2014. These are beautifully complex, earthy, well-structured wines that can be enjoyed now, with decanting, or cellared for fifteen to twenty years.
While value is relative in the ever more expensive world of Burgundy, perhaps no grower offers as much value as Domaine Jean et Gilles Lafouge. The wines are precise, honest and satisfying at prices that allow for (nearly) everyday drinking as well as cellaring beautifully. There is excellent vineyard work here, in the process to becoming organic, with very short pruning and no green harvest. Hand-harvesting and wild-yeast fermentations of course, about 10 to 25% new oak, minimal batonnage for the whites and natural clarifications. We're happy to offer a small quantity of the Lafouge 2019 whites.
All wines are in the store or warehoue, ready for pick-up or shipping on Wed 12/8
The Desvignes' parcels on the Côte du Py sit near the top of the famed hill. Now in the 8th generation of this family of winemakers, siblings Claude-Emmanuelle and Louis-Benoît work their parcels organically and hand harvest their 11 hectares in Morgon, looking for peak ripeness and healthy fruit to make elegant and structural, age-worthy wines. Grapes for this cuvée come from vines averaging around 70 years in age, planted on manganese-rich schist soils. Semi-carbonic fermentation and further aging on fine lees is in concrete tank. The 2020 Cote de Py shows lovely aromas of ripe blackberry with hints of violet, dark chocolate and earth. The palate is velvety and ripe with blackberry and black currant fruit with a nice chewy, earthy texture. There is nice balancing acidity and earthy mineral flavors to balance the copious fruit - serve cool and enjoy now or hold 5 - 8 years.
The Georges Descombes Regnié VV is a big, beautiful Gamay in this vintage known for ripe, full-bodied wines. The wine shows a deep red/black color and very floral aromas of ripe blackberry and red currant with hints of black cherry, earth and chocolate. The palate is deep and silky with surprisingly bright red currant and black cherry fruit liqueur, meaty and earthy, with a nice mineral kick in the long, lush finish. Serve this delicious Regnié with a steak or grilled meats and put a few in the basement for five to ten years.
100% Malbec. "Au Cerisier" comes from a single 1.2-hectare plot at 350 m. altitude, next door to a cherry orchard for which the Ilberts named this bottling. The certified-organic vines average 40 years old and are planted on red and yellow clay soils over limestone bedrock. This is a quite serious Cahors showing a dark red/black color and beautiful black raspberry and blackberry fruit aromas with hints of dark chocolate and stone. The palate is supple and dense, quite elegant and not tannic, very full-bodied and really showing the clay/limestone terroir, with a long finish of bright red and black fruits. Drink now with a long decant with a steak or stew, best to cellar five to ten years. We tasted this just after botlling in January 2020 - it's a lovely Cahors and highly recommended! David Lillie
This delightful estate uses one-third Syrah, one-third Grenache and one-third Cinsault in their Corbières Rouge, grown on limestone/clay soils in the foothills of Mont Alaric, certified organic since 2007. The wine shows aromas of blackberries, ripe plums, and tiny wild blueberries, as well as notes of balsam wood. Like all the best Languedoc offerings, there's a wild edge here with a bit of funk that is tempered by juicy sleekness. Its excellent balance and wealth of ripe tannins make it a natural at the table - serve with a stew or grilled meats, a coq au vin with farm chicken or guinea hen, and full-flavored cow cheeses.
"Gourmandise" is a beautiful "drink young" cuvée from Patrick Lambert, made from Cabernet Franc vines grown on sandy gravel soils near the Vienne. The wine shows a bright black/red color with lush high-toned aromas of crushed strawberry and black raspberry, with hints of citrus and pepper. The palate is supple and bright with luscious black raspberry and red currant fruit, quite lush and full-bodied in this superb vintage for the Loire but still with refreshing acidity. Serve this lovely wine quite cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken, pork or burgers, it's a perfect quaffing Cab Franc to drink over the next year or two... David Lillie
We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2016 is a beautiful glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, showing fresh, complex aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is perfectly structured, similar to the 2010, with deep blackberry and black cherry liqueur with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. A great CDP for aging, this is delicious now in its vibrant youth, but will repay waiting for ten years and then enjoy until 2050! Very highly recommended. David Lillie
From 70-year-old Syrah/Serine vines located on the west bank of the Rhône on granite soils that had been farmed exclusively by a protestant religious order known as D’Arbistes. There has never been a chemical introduced into this vineyard. "The 2014 St Julien Pergaud is ready to drink" says Eric "enjoy it now for its round tannins, with low alcohol and minimal SO2. My parents love it because it goes well with confit de canard!" The wine shows conplex, earthy aromas of blackberry, rose, black pepper and graphite with animal and smoky notes. The palate is cool and sapid with blackberry, prune, citrus and earth with a long finish with black fruit and mineral flavors. This is a delicious old vine Syrah reflecting the granite terroirs and M. Texier's superb farming and natural vinifications.
The 2019 Lafouge Auxey-Duresses "Les Hautés" is from a north-facing parcel fairly high on the slope next to Meursault Les Vireuils. Thia is a beautifully structured, firm and balanced Chardonnay, even though the vintage was makrked by heat and drought. The wine shows a bright gold color with aromas of spiced pear and apple, melon, honeysuckle, stone, flint and lemon zest. The palate is dense and well structured with ripe white fruits, toasted almond, citrus and flinty mineral flavors - quite ripe but with firm citrusy acids and fabulous length. Serve now with sole meunier, turbot and cod - this will be a beautiful wine with 5 to 8 years of cellaring.
Erte Lage (1er cru) vinyard. This wine derives from a vineyard on the “Loiserberg” wherein one also finds the site “Berg Vogelsang”. The difference is that the Grüner Veltliner from “Loiserberg” grows on a south to southeast facing slope, which is less exposed to the winds. The soil stems from decomposing granite consisting of gneiss, mica-schist, and some clay and loess. The 2019 is an atypical vintage for Loiserberg showing an abundance of herbaceous notes such as vetiver and flint in addition to the green apple and citrus. Extremely mineral and herbaceous on the palate as well, backed with typical green apple and white pepper. Medium body and cool acidity lead to a very savory long finish with a salty echo. A very serious Gruner begging for some hearty winter fare! Giselle Hamburg
Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees. The 2018 was disgorged in June of 2021 and bottled with 3 g/l dosage.
This is the Desvignes family's fourth (?) bottling from the famous climat of Corcelette in northern Morgon. The parcel is made up of 40+-year-old vines on sandy pink granite soils on a southeast-facing hillside in the western part of Corcelette, a vineyard that seems to give a bright and vibrant style of Morgon. This is a full, quite deep-colored Morgon, with punchy black cherry and cooked raspberry fruit and a snap of acidity reminiscent of plum skin. There is plenty of weight and breadth in the mid-palate and the texture is lovely and fine-grained a hall mark of this vineyard site and the sandy soils. Sam Ehrlich
The Combel la Serre "Pur Fruit" is 100% Malbec from seven different sites around their home village of Cournou, which lies on the Causse, a limestone plateau in Cahors at 320m elevation. Planted on clay-limestone soils, the vines are certified organic and average 35 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested and crushed with 20% whole clusters; the juice ferments at cool temperatures with indigenous yeasts in cement tanks with a 10-day skin maceration. The wine is aged on its lees in cement through the winter and bottled in the spring. The 2019 is another vibrant fruit-bomb showing a deep red/black color with aromas of ripe blackberry liqueur with violet and citrus hints. The palate is supple and sappy with dense blackberry and black raspberry fruit, lifted by bright acidity - quite lush and ripe but refreshing and balanced. The cool, sappy fruits continue in the bright finish. Perfect with a steak or stew or just gulped by itself - serve cool and enjoy! David Lillie
100% Chenin Blanc. La Jalousie is a blend of several parcels of younger vines planted in schistous soils on gentle hills. Like the rest of the Closel vines, they are biodynamically farmed, low-yielding and harvested by hand. They are the first of the estate to be harvested, when the grapes are pale yellow, crisp and totally healthy. The bunches are direct-pressed, then fermented with native yeasts and a small amount of sulfur in tank. The wine is tank-aged on its lees, without any exposure to air, for 9 months before bottling. Normally, Jalousie doesn't go through malo but in the warm 2018 vintage, it did so. Jalousie is intended to be a modern rendition of Savennières: approachable and fresh in its youth, as a result of not being over-ripened, botrytis-influenced or long- or wood-aged. An exuberant nose with aromas of lime zest, white flowers and herbaceousness. The palate offers flavors of zesty lime and bright pear with a crunchy minerality underpinning it's medium body and lively acidity. Lithe and lovely! Giselle Hamburg
"The Clos du Papillon is a small valley at mid slope, beautifully exposed southwest to the light of the Loire. There are schist, rhyolite but also quartz. The topsoil layer is very shallow (60 cm) which provides excellent drainage for rainwater. The vine growing conditions are difficult, forcing it to develop its roots deep in the rock cracks to draw nutrients. The climate in that parcel allows for a level of highly advanced maturity, with grapes that concentrate aromas under the action of botrytis. The body and the very long finish make the Clos du Papillon a gastronomic wine to accompany lobster, scallops, smoked fish, Turbots, Saint Peter. It is also interesting with delicate white meats such as veal or capon, along with truffles or mushrooms. Classic mountain cheeses like old Salers, or 5 to 6 years old Comté are equally delicious with this great Savennières." - Domaine du Closel. 2018 is a great vintage for the Clos du Papillon, combining excellent ripeness with bright acidity and great balance - the wine shows beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with honeysuckle, lime-flower and dried herbs with hints of smoke and earth. The palate is superb, very ripe and dense with white fruits, citrus, almond and stone with very firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors. The finish is very long with bitter lemon and saline minerals. Drinking beautifully now, this should age perfectly, peak drinking perhaps to 2040 and beyond. David Lillie
Clement Baraut has access to some great plots in and around Savennieres in the Loire Valley, and this "entry level" Chenin Blanc from Baraut is a clear winner. Clean, balanced, with stone fruit, zero presence of sugar, but with very pleasant body. Get some before it runs out! Grapes are from two plots in Savennières, mostly on schist terroir. Fermentation is with whole clusters in large oak, and the wine is aged for 6 months, again in used barrels. -EL
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55-year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate is deep and ripe, a bit softer and more forward than the 2016, showing earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate and firm structure. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will accompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. While this is drinking beautiflly now, aging of five to ten years will bring an extra dimendion to the wine. David Lillie
The 2020 Lafouge Aligoté is bright and vibrant with citrus, green apple, quince, floral, herbal and mineral notes, with a racy palate showing white fruits, spice, citrus and a very firm mineral/acid core to the long finish, really refreshing! Bring on the oysters, sole and cod and keep some for delightful thirst-quenching next summer...
An explosive, savory take on orange wine made from 100% Semillon in Bergerac.Very herbal and floral. Notes of orange blossom and thyme in addition to lemon, green pear, sea salt and wet rocks. High acid and mineral with a saline finish. An excellent true orange wine that can pair with a wide array of dishes including meat (had it at a French wine bar with a plate of charcuterie and duck rilletes, YUM!). Giselle Hamburg
Thought to be Europe's oldest documented vineyard, the name “Im Weingebirge” dates back to the 5th Century. The wines from this vineyard are known to have impressive depth and minerality. The soil is varied with loess on the higher terraces and deep topsoil over primary rock lower down the slope. The wine ages on its lees in old barrels, giving it a creamy texture. In 2019, the Gruner from this ancient vineyard comes across as sunny, fresh and ebullient. The nose is bright and zesty with lemon oil, stone fruit, stony minerality and crisp herbaceousness. Flavors of citrus and pear mingle with white pepper, a hint of menthol and minerality. Bright acid with a zesty finsh. Super classic and sprightly! Giselle Hamburg
Demeter certified biodynamic farming; 35-60 year old vines on sandy, loam topsoil, volcanic subsoil; made in ancestral method with fermentation continuing in the bottle and bottled unfined/unfiltered under crown cap with a tiny bit of added SO2. From the volcanic soils of Somlo in Hungary near the Austrian border. A delightful Pet-nat made from Harslevelu and Juhfark. The nose explodes with tart green apple, lemonade and wet rocks. The palate is citrusy, mineral with bracing acidity and refreshing bubbles. The ultimate shift drink, for lovers of bone dry Ciders and salty Goses! Giselle Hamburg
This bottling is from Moric's old-vine Blaufrankisch from the Neckenmarket vineyard. These are higher elevation, hillside parcels from 50-90 years old, with some slate and some limestone soils lending the wines their intense minerality. The fruit is organically farmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts in open-top fermenters, and then aged in mix of used French, Slavonian, Austrian, and German barrels. Intensely mineral yet balanced with deep fruit, earth and spice flavors and bright acidity keeping it lively on it's feet. A lengthy,concentrated finish leaves it superbly elegant. For lovers of Mazis-Chambertins, Clos de la Roche and Cote Rotie Cote Blonde. Giselle Hamburg
From a one woman winery in Corinthia: Gleaming an electric lemon hue due to 4 days skin contact, this Assyrtiko still exhibits classic notes of intense lemons, salt and minerality. The palate offers flavors of citrus, and juicy green pear backed with bracing acidity, salinity and minerality. Medium bodied and eminently poundable, this Assyrtiko is almost a doppelganger for Santorini's pricier versions. Great with seafood and white meats, grilled vegetables and salads. Giselle Hamburg
There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic of Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit with a frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009), deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Aurelien's releases display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly chalky. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant tends to be richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. Pale yellow robe with fine bead and soft mousse. Nose offers pretty aromas of golden apple skin, orange oil (that’s the Cramant talking) and apple blossom. The palate is concentrated with flavors of stone fruit, preserved lemon, and toast. In the mouth this is broad and expansive, but not lacking for energy or flair on the incisively chalky finish. This could use a bit of time to knit, but it’s certainly delicious now. The 2018 release was disgorged in June, 2021 and bottled with 4g/l dosage.
Ambyth has been a CSW fave for years now. Their dedication to biodynamics and dry farming is unerring and they make unassuming but supremely expressive wines with little to no sulfur depending on the wine. They have always had a particular affinity for skin-contact white wines and this Riesling is one of two new offerings from the Coquelicot Vineyard. Fermented on the skins in clay amphorae, this is smells like ginger ale and peach pit. On the palate there is more peach, salted candied ginger and lovely earthy notes at the edges. There is nice grip and texture from the long maceration and some zingy Riesling acid to bind it all. Highly recommended for lovers of first-class skin contact wine. Sam Ehrlich
Ambyth has been a CSW fave for years now. Their dedication to biodynamics and dry farming is unerring and they make unassuming but supremely expressive wines with little to no sulfur depending on the wine. They have always had a particular affinity for skin-contact white wines and this Sauvignon is one of two new offerings from the Coquelicot Vineyard. This is extravgantly aromatic wine, bursting with passionfruit and fresh sage and more candied tropical fruit, fresh ginger and nectarine skin, it screams for southern Thai food, pho or even a hot chicken sandwich. Sam Ehrlich