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We have just received a second shipment of the delicious 2016 "Cuvée Camelia" from Christian and Nadia Charmasson at Balazu des Vaussières in Tavel. This wine exemplifies all that we love about natural wines - it's a glass of terroir in liquid form, expressed through the medium of the grapes and their fermentation, from vineyards tended with love and respect for the life of the soil.
The estate practices natural winemaking at it's very finest, beginning in the vineyard, where they work with organic and Biodynamic methods (primarily those of Maria Thun) and refuse to apply the permitted organic treatment of copper-sulfate as it is harmful to the life of the soil. As a result, they lost the majority of their crop in 2018, a freakish year for mildew in the southern Rhone. Vinifications here are without additives, essentially semi-carbonic, with the white spending about two years in vat and the red about three to four years, and bottling is without SO2. As we said in our previous article, this is not “laissez-faire” winemaking, but rather the work of intelligent, hard-working people who have the courage of their convictions to produce a pure and healthy wine from living soils. And while the wines may deviate somewhat from “conventional” norms, they can also be wildly delicious and elegant as we found on our visits and with the beautiful "Camelia" on offer today. As Bert Celce points out in "Wine Terroirs," it's "no surprise that with Pfifferling of L'Anglore they're considered the Natural Giants of Tavel..." Each year they produce one red, one white and one rosé, with different blends depending on the character of the vintage. Their current release is the 2016 "Camelia," a field-blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan - it's an extraordinary wine with a fascinating range of earth, mineral and ripe fruit flavors, free from the effects of added sulfur-dioxide, and enjoyable over many days after opening, not to mention after many years of cellaring...
Christian Ducroux works in the same style as the Charmassons, we're happy to offer the last few cases of his 2020 "Esquisse" Rosé.
(Wine is in stock, please allow 7 days for pick-up or shipping as we recover from the holidays...)
The new release of vin rouge from Balazu des Vaussières, the 2016 "Cuvée Camélia," is a field blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. The wine spent about 4 years in vat with zero added SO2. The estate is certified organic and Biodynamic and uses no copper sulfate (the "organic" treatment against mildew) in the vines, nor SO2 in vinification. Pure juice! In the glass, the wine has a dense red core with clear violet edges. The nose is full of character, with dark maraschino cherries and spicy aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon, and birch. Smells of smoke and orange oil add a lighter dimension. Flavors of black plum and cherry add a base to more herbal hints of fennel seeds and mint. There is a wonderful and healthy earthiness, but in the middle is a flashy center of minerality. Medium acidity and just an ounce of tannin. A stony finish of salt and graphite. This wine is an absolute treat! (Note - the Balazu reds usually evolve nicely for a week or more after opening, re-corked and refrigerated)
Christian Ducroux's unique "Esquisse" Rosé is a totally natural wine, made without sulfur-dioxide or other additives or adjustments, 100% Gamay from a high-altitude parcel above Thulon, and usually containing the secondary grapes ("grisemottes") harvested in late October. Low alcohol (11.5%) and ultra-refreshing... The 2020 shows a pale pink/orange color, the aromas show a hint of spice with creamy raspberry fruit with rose petal and citrus. The palate shows subtle, bright berry fruits, citrus and minerals with a touch of earthiness in the finish with firm acidity. Very refreshing, quite naturally delicious, serve quite cool with just about anything....