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Today's Loire Valley email includes a fantastic melange of returning favorites, great values, last chance offers and some of the most rare and distinctive wines of the region.
Bubbles! Last chance for the great 2012 Brut Non-Dosé from François and Julien Pinon - seven years on the lees - magnificent now, best to wait ten or twenty years. Last chance as well for their delicious Pet-Nat Rosé as there will be no more released for two years...
Rarely available - one of our very favorite Pet Nats, from Simon Tessier, the phabulous Phil-en-bulle, a unique and wonderful blend of Romorantin and Menu Pineau.
New Arrival - the Crémant de Loire Brézé from Arnaud Lambert - "This is terrific for the price. Drink up and open a second!" says Sam Ehrlich...
One of the greatest values in the store is the Delecheneau "Trinqu'ames" - a very cute pun which means "Let's toast to our souls." It's what Sauvignon de Touraine should taste like!
One of the greatest Chenin Blancs in the world is the Francois Chidaine "Les Bournais" Franc de Pied The 2018 is a beautiful wine, only a few bottles are available, please cellar ten years or more!
Two of the most disctinctive wines of Touraine are the Noella Morantin Sauvignon Blanc "Le Bois Lucas" - a vineyard formerly part of the Clos Roche Blanche - and the Grange Tiphaine Cot Vieilles Vignes - don't miss them!
They're back! The wines of Simon and Philippe Tessier Just arrived are the 2020 Cheverny Rouge "Point du Jour" and the vibrant 2020 Cheverny Blanc. "2020 was marked by waves of heat" says Simon Tessier "but much needed rain in mid- August preserved the balance and acidity in the grapes. Harvest began August 31st, the whites are lovely and vibrant, the reds are ripe, supple and fragrant."
Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil produces some of the most soulful and authentic Cabernet Francs of the Loire. The incredibly delicious 2018 "Diptyque" is back in stock and we've included the last of stock of the great 2014s and 2015s from Chevalerie, we hope to have more arriving in time for the summer...
There's lots more to choose from in today's Loire list, but lovers of natural wines should not miss the 2020 Hervé Villemade Menu Pineau "Les Souchettes" - fermented and aged in anfora, with zero added sulfur...
Please allow 3 to 5 days before pick-up or shipping
This is a terrific wine and a great value! The Pinon 2019 Vouvray Sec is from vines in organic farming on clay soils over Turonian limestone. The fermentation lasted for three months, with no added yeast or sugar, and was stopped by chilling the juice, followed by five months of aging in old barrels, on the lees. While 2019 was troubled by frost in spring and periods of drought and heat, in the end the vintage produced balanced whites in Vouvray with good acidity and moderate alcohol. The Pinon 2019 Sec is indeed dry at 8 g/L RS and 12.5% alc and shows aromas of citrus confit, almond, green tea, stone, anise and white fruits. The palate has vibrant acidity with saline mineral flavors, and good density, with green apple and lemon zest, finishing with firm acidity, citrus, apple and wet stone. Give this young wine some aeration (!) or a few years in the cellar then serve with shellfish and oysters, grilled fish, vegetable terrines, seafood choucroute, rillons and rillettes (you may have to go to Touraine for those..) David Lillie
(Finally, our 2nd delivery has arrived, about 5 more cases are available) Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has produced this cuvée from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pepiere vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granite is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine. This note from Gwénaëlle Croix of Pépière: "We bottled the 2019 Clisson in November of 2021, after two years aging on the lies, as we always do. It comes from a hot, sunny vintage, thus the alcohol percentage is relatively high at 13.5%, but one really doesn't sense it. The palate is full and framed in very firm acidity and citrus flavors, with a slight touch of smokiness (un petit côté fumé)." The Pépière Clisson is always one of the most elegant, silky and ethereal of all Muscadet - don't miss it!
Hervé Villemade's new "Les Souchettes" is 100% Menu Pineau, fermented and aged in sandstone amphora, without sulfur. Fascinating aromas of peach, pear, melon and citrus. The palate is very bright with firm acidity and a bit of skin tannin with complex flavors of citrus, almond, stone fruits and white pepper over a firm background of stony acidity. Very "natural" and not for sipping by the pool perhaps, but a great accompaniment to good charcuterie, a full-flavored ceviche, fish or chicken in sauce...
From 30 year-old vines planted at 10,000 vines per hectare, on clay over Kimmeridgian limestone in Menetou-Salon, where the highly valued "Marnes de Saint-Doulchard," rich in fossilized shells, gives particularly outstanding wines. Mostly de-stemmed, 3 week wild yeast fermentation in tronconic wood foudres. 12 months aging on the lees followed by 10 - 12 months in concrete vats. Philippe Gilbert's red Menetou-Salon, entirely from Pinot Noir is "...aromatically sweet, fresh and bright. It offers up smoked cherry infused with a powdery minerality. The palate is polished, fresh, pure and bright, with attractively defined fruit and vigorous acidity. It finishes with some powdery grip... this is really excellent. (The Wine Doctor)
(Pre-arrival, in store week of June 6th) Peu Muleau is located on the upper part of the hill, above the Domaine de la Chevalerie and just below the forest of chestnut, acacia, oak, pine and birch, on Cenozoic eolian sands with iron, clay and altered tuffeau. The vines are around 35 years old, and farmed biodynamically. The maceration last less than 20 days. Aging is done in a mix of tank and large used barrels with less and less oak. This is the earliest drinking single-vineyard cuvée, always on the raspberry and wild violet with very supple tannins, but you can keep it up to 10 years without a problem. 2014 Loire reds are really great wines, despite a tricky vintage for the producers. Yet with the best the wines are delicious, in a classic ligérien style. It means the Peu Muleau from the Caslot in just a winner, a terrific value and such a great Bourgueil to enjoy now! The wine has a unique chalky minerality, subtle and earthy on the palate - the nose explodes with raspberry and cherry blossom, coriander seeds and Sichuan pepper. The ripe, salivating acidity is driving the palate, with supple tannins, and a lingering saltiness. It is ready to drink now, but cellared for 4-5 years you will gain some nice earthy secondary tones. Pair it with a beautiful pâté en croûte, duck rillette or a summer porcini risotto. 100% Cabernet Franc. PL/DL
The Tessier "Phil'en Bulle" is a fabuous Pet Nat (Methode Ancestrale - one fermentation that finishes in the bottle) made from 80% Romorantin and 20% Menu Pineau (Orbois) - two of our favorite grapes! The wine is bottled after one year sur lie, with zero added sulfur. The 2020 version is a knock-out, as usual, showing a pale gold color and vibrant aromas of citrus, honey, almond, and pear with herbal notes. The palate is round, dense and brisk, with citrus peel, almond, white fruits and caramel with herbal notes. The finish is long and refreshing. Serve this terrific Pet Nat with just about anything, it's a perfect aperitif and will be a treat on a warm summer evening...
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
Arnaud Lambert is based in Brézé, in the heart of the Saumur appellation. He makes a series of excellent still and sparkling wines from Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc planted in quite porous chalk soils mixed with clay and sand. He has been certified organic since 2012. His sparkling wines are a perpetual source of incredible value and this latest edition of the Cremant de Loire from Brézé is no different. 75% Chenin and 25% Chardonnay, this is all Meyer lemon and peach pit earthiness on the nose, with little bits of dried honeycomb around the edges. More stone fruit on the palate, with toasted hazelnuts and Melba toast in the finish, with lovely salty mineral notes. This is terrific for the price. Drink up and open a second. Sam Ehrlich
Trinqu'âmes is a very cute pun which means "Let's toast to our souls." It is what Sauvignon de Touraine should taste like! This wine made under the négoce label of Coralie & Damien Delecheneau: for a couple of years now they have been buying organic grapes at the right price from neighbors they helped with the farming transition. This is great négoce wine. The vineyards are located in a perfect spot for Sauvignon Blanc: between Amboise and Oisly, the sandy silex rich soil over clay allows a ripe expression of the grape with loosing its vibrancy. The grapes are hand-harvested with Damien's supervision, pressed directly, settled overnight than fermented spontaneously. The malo happens more and more, but does not affect the freshness of the wine. The wine is aged in cement for 6 months before lightly filtered with a sulfur dioxide adjustment. Don't expect a lean, anemic, expression of Sauvignon blanc. Think more a baby expression of good Pouilly-Fumé (unfortunately they are rare...). You get a bouquet of sage, lemongrass, Tahitian grapefruit with hints of white pepper and passion fruit. The palate has some texture and length allowing a lot of possible pairing, from green tomato & cucumber gazpacho to baked clams to kale caesar salad and young goat cheese. It is a really serious wine (you can even keep 2-3 years) for a ridiculous price! 100% Sauvignon.
The lovely 2020 Tessier Cheverny Blanc is 80% Sauvignon Blanc with 10 % each of Menu Pineau and Chardonnay, farmed organically since 1998 and made with minmal SO2.(Total SO2 20mg/L) Aromatically, there are a lot of textbook Sauv Blanc notes, white and yellow fruits, citrus, lime-flower, but is still far from the intensely grassy and tropical, lychee-driven aromatics of many a yeasted Sauvignon across the globe. What the Cheverny Blanc also has is a bit of texture. It's refreshing, but also broad in the mouth, evolving quite a bit as it's open, but not overly fruity and with vibrant minerality. It's a wine that will disappear quickly thanks to it's crisp drinkability, but will also reward those who take a moment to pay attention.
LBL is a special white that Noella Morantin makes small quantities of, from old vines of Sauvignon Blanc that were originally part of the famed Clos Roche Blanche. The vines were planted in the 1940s and 1960s on a slope of clay/silex soils over limestone. This wine is always good, but in my opinion has never been THIS good! While previous vintages have shown classic Sauvignon Blanc notes, with some lychee, citrus and grassy texture, the 2019 is more reminiscent of Romarantin from Cour-Cheverny, with stone fruit, and subtle density and creaminess. Drink over the course of a couple hours to fully enjoy the concentration and layered minerality! Quite a treat, and a really special Sauvignon Blanc. Along with old bottles of Vatan, the Sancerres from Gaudry or Sebastien Riffault, or the mystifying wines of Chrisophe Foucher (La Lunotte), this is one of the best candidates for convincing that friend who says they don't like Sauvignon Blanc. I personally am not a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but I love this wine. Brava Noella! -EL
Clef de Sol means treble clef and is a tribute to music, Damien being an accomplished clarinetist and Coralie a choir singer. Clef de Sol is a blend of different southern exposed plots located in Montlouis on sandy perruches, i.e. clay and flint over tuffeau. The vines are mostly 80 years old, and farmed biodynamically. Hand-harvested mid-september, the grapes are sorted in the vineyard and the cellar, whole-cluster pressed, then fermented in barrels (225 and 400 l) in the underground cellar. Fermentations are spontaneous and malo occurs, without making the wine lose its tension. The wine is aged for a year on the fine lees, and lightly filtered with a sulfur dioxide adjustment. Clef de Sol is without a doubt a benchmark wine for Montlouis, in the line of François Chidaine’s Les Bournais but drier, with more density and less oak than Jacky Blot’s cuvées.
The Mosse family is making superb natural wines in Anjou, and the 2019 Vin de France Rouchefer is a classic example. From a 1.6 ha parcel of 50 year-old massale selection vines in soils of clay and quartz over schistes, the wine is produced with minimal SO2 (total 20mg/l) and is aged in barrel. The wine shows beautiful floral aromas of quince, pear, citrus, almond and stone. The palate is quite ripe, expressive and elegant without being heavy, and the lovely fruit is backed by firm acidity, herbal and mineral flavors, with terrific length - a real Chenin of terroir that will accompany a wide range of seafood and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool, but not too cold, over the next ten to fifteen years.
From 0.2 hectares of ungrafted vines planted on the edge of the vineyard at Les Bournais. Tasted in January of 2020, the wine showed a very elegant but not expressive nose, austere and closed. Fantastic elegance and freshness on the palate but very tight and subtle, unlike the version from grafted vines which was more open and accessible. We would suggest a minimum of ten years of aging for this wine...
(Please note - arrives Tuesday 3/1) 100% Gamay from Hervé Villemade is as delicious as it should be. Alluring aromas of plum, violets, and spice invite you to take a sip and then another, and another. The 2020 is a bit ripe and lush on the palate, there is a satisfying crunchy texture and beautiful chalky minerality that adds dimension to the brambly fruits, sweet tobacco, and brown spice. Serve with a slight chill and remember to share!
(60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay grown on sandy clay and flint soils over limestone in Cellettes, Chitenay and Fougères sur Bièvre, AOC Cheverny; 15-day whole cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels) 2020 is another excellent vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade; very pretty aromas of cherry, ripe raspberry, violet, earth and blood orange with rose and white pepper; tart cherry and chalky raspberry/strawberry fruit on the palate, light but chalky, sappy and long with earthy citrus and berry fruits in the refreshing finish. This is a delightfully natural thirst-quenching red - serve cool with any chicken or pork dish, charcuterie and mild cheeses
Tessier's Le Point du Jour is a beautiful expression of Cheverny, a blend of 20% Gamay and 80%Pinot Noir from the oldest vines of the estate planted on two types of terroir, clay and sand and sandy clay over limestone. Hand-harvested, the grapes are vinified for 80% whole-cluster, macerated for 2 weeks or so before being aged in a mix of barrels, demi-muids and foudres. Aging is short, the wine is blended in January and bottled a couple of weeks after unfiltered with minimal sulfur dioxide. It is really a round, easy-to-drink wine. For the moment the aromatics of the Gamay are slightly taking over the Pinot's, with lush wild strawberry and pomegranate, some pink peppercorn and fenugreek, and very soft tannins. Serve cool, enjoy over the next five years.
Made from 100% Pinot Noir in the Cheverny appellation near the village of Blois in the Loire. Hand-harvested grapes are fermented traditionally with stems and raised in neutral barrels for six to eight months. By the Cheverny appellation rules, a red must be a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. Since this wine is 100% Pinot Noir, it cannot be labelled Cheverny. The name Vercheny is a play on words of Cheverny. Aromas of cherry, cola, raspberries and roses waft from the glass. The palate is silky with notes of kirsch, plums and berries underscored by an almost saline like minerality and bright acidity. Ethereal and medium bodied, this elegant pinot is a sheer, unexpected delight. Pair with fowl, charcuteries and cheeses.
Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme's new Pineau D'Aunis "La Boissiere" is from a single parcel in the hamlet of the same name near the mighty River Beuvron, south of Blois. A must try for lovers of Pineau d'Aunis, the wine shows a bright red/purple color and aromas of plum, red currant, rose petal, white pepper and earth. There is firm acidity on the palate with dense, sappy strawberry and red currant fruit with citrus, floral and earthy notes. The finish is long and juicy with chalky red fruits, citrus and minerals. This is a beautiful Pineau d'Aunis that will benefit from a few years in the cellar, serve cool with charcuterie, roast chicken and pork dishes.
Coralie and Damien Delecheneau’s Côt Vieilles Vignes is for me one of the greatest Loire Valley red wines. As a Côt, I consider it in the league of Cosse-Maisonneuve’s Marguerite. Côt also known as Malbec is a misunderstood grape: far from being overly tannic, inky, rustic, this variety can reach a superb level of refinement, elegance and quality with the right vegetal material (century years old clones), low yield, limestone based soil and great farming. The Delecheneau have it all, as they are lucky to own probably one of the oldest examples of Côt in France, a 120+ year-old vineyard. The vines are located a 5 min walk from the winery, on the upper hill of Amboise. Damien does not really know when it was planted, but looking at the gnarly vines, the small and loose clusters with their red stems, you know they are from another time. Grown on red clay and flint over limestone, with a southeastern exposition, these couple of rows of vines produce a superb, unique wine. Hand-harvested, the grapes are hand-sorted twice and destemmed. They undergo a long, gentle maceration in a cement tank, then the wine is aged 50% in concrete egg and 50% in 225 l barrel, in order to preserve the fruit without bringing too much reduction, especially in dense vintage like 2019. Last of stock, don't miss it!
A lovely Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil from Domaine du Mortier, an estate doing fabulous organic vineyard work and natural low or no-sulfur vinifications; 40 year-old massale-selection vines in a parcel of gravel/clay soils, aged in cement vat and in old barrels. this is a lovely version of the Mortier "les Graviers" showing pretty, ripe blackberry and red currant aromas, with plum, violet and citrus. The palate is round and supple but with bright acidity, showing lush berry fruits that continue in the long finish with earth and citrus. Delicioius now, served cool, with chicken, rabbit and pork dishes, chacuterie and mild cheeses. Age for five to eight years for a more earthy and complex experience. DL
(Arrives June 1st) 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. 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
(Pre-arrival, in store week of June 6th) The Chevalerie "Galichets" vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoil, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age - similar to the "Chevalerie" parcel but a bit lower on the slope, giving a wine that is more open and easy for early drinking. The 2015 vintage is excellent, with a bit more ripeness and lower acidity than 2014, while retaining the core of minerals and acidity aslways found in the Chevalerie wines. The aromas of black raspberry and blackberry fruit are ripe and floral. The palate is dense and silky, very mineral with ripe red and black fruits and a clean vibrant finish. Still quite youthful, I would open this bottle the night before or give it a long decant, best perhaps 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
(Pre-arrival, in store week of June 6th) Domaine de la Chevalerie's "Les Galichets" vineyard is on the lower part of the Turonian slope just below the "Chevalerie" plot, with clay -alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex, giving a wine that is more open and easy for early drinking. The vines average about 60 years of age. The wine is aged in large old barrels, and bottled after 6 months unfined unfiltered. 2014 Galichets is an archetypal Bourgueil to enjoy now! This wine is a fabulous mix of fruit and minerals, perfectly balanced and with terrific length: dense black/red color, with aromas that blend soil, stone and blackberry fruit with hints of cocoa and violet. The palate is dense and supple and round without any heaviness - a blend of stone and ripe red and black fruits, continuing in the long, graceful mineral finish. This is a beautiful Bourgueil that can be enjoyed now with roast chicken, pork dishes, even a steak - or hold for ten to fifteen years for a mature experience. It's a fabulous value - congratulations to the Caslots! 100% Cabernet Franc. David Lillie / Pascaline Lepeltier (Re-tasted on Jan 3, 2022 - when opened it's very good, but on day 2 it's fabulous, a beautiful mouthful of earth and minerals , a bit of musk and gorgeous dark fruits. I'm buying a case, I suggest you do the same!)
(Pre-Arrival) Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - the Raffault's parcel faces gently south, with clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2016 was a classic vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity, good density and moderate alcohol. The wines are full-bodied and well-structured for aging. The 2016 Raffault Picasses shows a bright, red/black color with aromas of morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and prune with hints of licorice, earth and black pepper. The palate shows silky tannins and sappy red and black fruits with chalky minerals and firm acidity, with a bit of the gamey, musky aspect of old-school Chinon. Earthy prune, plum and cherry fruits linger in the long finish. Please decant two to three hours in advance if drinking now, then serve a bit cool with roast chicken, pork or lamb. This will sing a different song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2028 - 2040.