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The Domaine de Ferrand CDR Cuvée Antique is one of the greatest values in the southern Rhone - in 2019 it's particulary outstanding and worth buying by the case to enjoy over the next ten years. It drinks like a good Chateauneuf-du-Pape but at one-third the price.
The team at Les Pallieres in Gigondas is now creating powerful yet elegant wines from this superb site on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montimirail. (well worth a visit) Drink now or hold 25-30 years. (Back in stock, with more available)
Laurent Habrard has been quietly producing lovely organic wines on great terroirs in Crozes-Hermitage. His 2019 Grand Classique was produced with no added sulfur and is remarkably complex, silky and delicious. Serve cool over the next five years...
The delicious Dumein-Serrette "Le Moulin" is from young vines of Syrah on galet stone covered soils next to the Rhône, near Cornas. This will satisfy your craving for Northern Rhone Syrah at a modest price!
Marie-Agnes and Emmenuel Barou make beautiul organic wines in Saiint-Joseph and Condrieu - their refreshing Vin de France Chardonnay is simply delicious! $13.99! 4 cases left...
The Chignard family is best known for their Fleurie "Les Moriers" but we find their Julienas "Beauvernay" to be equally delicious. The bedrock of "Beauvernay" is diorite, rather than granite, locally called "roches bleues." It's an interesting terroir of volcanic origin with more clay and rich in magnesium, giving complex well-structured wines. And speaking of great Cru Beaujolais, the Chateau Cambon Brouilly, made by Jean-Claude Chanudet and his wife Geneviève, is outstanding again in 2019!
We're happy to welcome a new vintage of the Domaine 2 Anes Corbières "Fontanilles" - a superb value from the Languedoc, as well as another astonishing Fer Servadou from the Domaine du Cros in Marcillac!
We think that the 2019 is the best Irouléguy Rouge ever produced by the wise and talented Peio Espil at Ilarria - and it's delicous as a young wine which is not always the case! As for Peio's Irouléguy Blanc "This is oustanding, totally unique and delicious wine," says our friend Pascaline and we couldn't agree more...
Champagne! Don't miss the superb Pinot Meunier based Champagne from Laurent and Michelle Bénard's tiny organic estate in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ!
A new arrival from Christian Bourmault is his Champagne Brut Lettre à Terre - 100% old vine Chardonnay from 2 lieux-dits in Cuis. "This has great flair and brio and should gain in nuance with time in the cellar, provided one can keep their hands of their stash. Highly recommended" says John McIlwain.
Moving on... A new year brings new wines from Eastern Europe. As we find ourselves in the throes of arctic blasts and snow squalls, we look for winter whites that can stand up to heartier fare and colder climes. These wines still have their characteristic higher acidity but are coupled with weightier mouthfeel, body, texture and flavor. Two newcomers from the Wachau: Pichler Krutzler and Hogl. A new vinatge of Zierfandler from the Thermenregion and a Roter Veltliner from Wimmer Czerny in the Wagram. Moving south to Greece, we travel up into the mountains of Macedonia for a perfect winter Assyrtiko from Thymiopoulos. Prost/Opa!
2019 is a great vintage for the beautiful Ferrand Cuvée Antique - 90% Grenache from 85 year-old vines just outside Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with 5% Syrah, 2% Cinsault, 2% Mourvèdre, 1% Grenache blanc, Clairette blanche. From DrinkRhone: "dark red; the bouquet has a deep setting of plum fruit with a crushed nutshell air above, is locked up, plenty of potential on board to expand and diversify. The attack is well sturdy, agreeably thorough, covers the ground well, sustaining into a lingering close, the juice lasting well. The Grenache plum fruit has verve and a fluid intensity, does a really good job, while the tannins are fresh, too." This drinks like good CDP but at half the price, enjoy over the next ten to fifteen years.
The Les Pallieres "Racines" is 80-85% Grenache (average age 70 years), 5-7.5% Syrah & 5-7.5% Cinsault, 5% Clairette blanche from vineyards near the cellars at 250 metres, 80% destemmed, gentle crush, 30-35 day concrete, oak vat vinification, large oak vat aged 10 months, then large 60 hl barrel 7-9 months, unfined, unfiltered, Domaine Les Pallières is undeniably one of the greatest, longest-running properties of the Southern Rhône — outside the village of Gigondas, woven into the foothills of the beautiful and brooding Dentelles de Montmirail. The domaine had been a continuously running farm within the same family since the fifteenth century! From DrinkRhone: "full red robe; there’s real depth on the nose, beef, bulls blood, intense black berry jam, Southern/sudiste tones, black olives. The palate gives a constant surge attack, a very good wheel of rolling black fruits, is well together, ends with a fine note of stylish juice, precision from the tannins there. It’s both elegant and full, well extended, a very good bottle, has a real upholstered finish." Drink this beautiful Gigondas over the next 30 years.
Presenting a vibrant and delicious Syrah with zero added SO2! The 2019 Habrard Crozes-Hermitage Grand Classique Sans Soufre - In the glass, the wine shows a deep plum color, with clear violet edges. The nose is a mix of red berries and savory citrus peel, with a dose of healthy earth and salty, firm olives. On the palate, bright cherry fruit provides a platform for flavors of smoke, soy, and ginger, and lighter essences of black pepper and smoke. Medium tannin focused straight down the tongue and lovely acidity offer a refreshing mouthfeel. Really a superb Crozes-Hermitage for current drinking and over the next five years. (33% from Pont de l’Isère (southern zone, alluvial soils), 67% from Erôme, Gervans (northern zone, granite, loess, clay soils), Syrah from 1940s–late 1990s, 95-100% destemmed, 15-20 day vinification in wood vats, no SO2, daily foot punching of the cap, aged in concrete vat, and old barrels, unfined, filtered.)
The delicious Dumein-Serrette "Le Moulin" is from young vines of Syrah on galet stone covered soils next to the Rhône, near Cornas, 40% destemmed, aged in 6-8 year-old 228 liter oak casks. This is indeed a lovely junior Cornas for current drinking.The calendar says Spring, but the weather says "Smarch." More raw than ramps and rebirth, but I try to drink and eat seasonally where possible and sometimes that’s CSA carrots, French lentils, and pastured pork sausage from Marlow and Daughters. And given that there was an untasted bottle of Syrah from Dumien Serrette it seems high time to check in. Nicolas Serrette works organically in Cornas and those wines are not just delicious, but a tremendous value displaying more gutsy old-school Cornas character than showing a longing to make Chambolle or Fleurie. And the 2020 ‘Moulin’ is cut from the same sturdy cloth—think corduroy rather than linen—and balances pure Syrah fruit with a savory mineral core. The robe has a dark ruby, hinting a purple hue. The nose offers a pretty array of wild violet, blue and black fruit aromas, with just enough grilled meat and Tellicherry peppercorn to place this near Cornas. The palate is similarly rough and tumble (but by no means coarse) and carries fine red fruit and iron/gamy flavors on a long and expansive finish. The incisively savory, mineral spine, juicy blue and black fruits, and mouthwatering acidity make this a prime choice for grilled meats, pan-roasted sausage, mushroom ragu with polenta, or even cassoulet for the ambitious home cook. This sings with sausage and lentils, but with an aged hunk of Mimoulette it’s an aria. Well worth a look. John McIlwain
Only 4 cs left of this surprisingly delicious northern Rhone Chardonnay from vines planted in 2000 on granite soils on the plateau, above the Saint-Joseph AOC, destemmed, 24 hour skin maceration, fermented at 20°-21°C, aged in 6-7 year-old 228-litre oak casks for 9-10 months, malo completed, The nose is subtle and surprisingly elegant with pear, ripe granny smith and floral aromas, with a bit of buttery apricot and nice brightness. The palate has a nice mineral attack from the granite soil, with pear, apricot, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the clean, well-balanced finish. Chardonnay from the Northern Rhone? Yes, it's delicious! David Lillie
This is a lovely Beaujolais from the Chignard family, better known for their Fleurie "Les Moriers." Possessing the ripe fruit, depth and surprising balance of the 2019 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. 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, serve cool. DL
(Arrives Tuesday 2/22) The Chateau Cambon Bouilly and Beaujolais began as a project of three friends: the late Marcel Lapierre, Jean-Claude Chanudet and Joseph Chamonard, now in the hands of Jean-Claude Chanudet and his wife Geneviève (the daughter of Joseph Chamonard) . From vines planted on 2 hectares of granitic and clay soils (Briante & Bel Air), the grapes are hand-harvested and rigorously sorted in the vineyard. Our friend Josh Raynolds is a big fan of the 2019 Brouilly: "Bright violet. A complex bouquet evokes mineral-accented red berries and cherry liqueur, along with suggestions of pungent flowers and baking spices. Silky and animated in the mouth, offering sappy black raspberry, cherry cola, spicecake and rose pastille flavors braced by a core of smoky minerality. Supple tannins sneak up slowly on the impressively persistent finish, which shows fine clarity and lingering red fruit and spice notes." Yum, serve cool, over the next 5 years.
"Fontanilles" comes from old vines of Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache Noir grown in Mediterranean bedrock and limestone scree in the Corbieres AOC. Magali Terrier works this plot using biodynamic methods and uses her intuition and deep knowledge of the local climate to pick at the perfect moment before Carignan becomes too ripe and austere. All de-stemmed, this blend showcases the softer side of Carignan, and with the addition of Syrah and Grenache - the 2019 is a virtual trip to the Mediterranean. Aromas of violets and peppery spice lead to flavors of cocoa, thyme grown on windswept hills, with a bitter orange peel on the finish. A wonderfully balanced wine from the Languedoc that is made to enjoy now with a variety of food. As the weather warms up, this will be our BBQ go-to!
The Domaine du Cros vines lie at elevations as high as 450 meters on a few different hillsides that surround the village of Clairvaux, in the western Auvergne. Much of the vineyard is terraced and the soil is an iron rich clay known locally as “rougier” with outcroppings of limestone. 100% Fer Sevadou, AKA Braucol if you're in Gaillac. Similar to the 2018 with a bit more density, showing a deep red/purple color with vivid aromas of black fruits - cassis, black plum - with pepper, floral and mineral notes. The palate is bursting with fruit, supple and round, but remarkably fresh and bright as well, finishing with a deep and long melange of bright peppery black fruits and minerals. Serve this rather astonishing wine quite cool with grilled pork and lamb, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
In the French Basque hills, enveloped by Spain, Peio Espil tends his family’s estate with impressive care. Peio, after careers in both Sauternes and Jurancon, returned to Irouleguy to work sustainably, and received complete organic certification in 2008. Here he strictly adheres to a Fukuoka-inspired way of organic farming, with biodiversity in the vineyards and no plowing, with the overall health of the soil being his number one concern. The 2019 Rouge is 55% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc and it's a sensational vintage for this unique wine, being a bit rounder than usual and quite delicious for current drinking. Deep black/red color with bright rim. The nose seems dominated by the Cabernet Franc, with deep black raspberry fruit, chocolate and herbal flavors, echoing the Chinon Clos Guillot of Baudry, but with a backbone of stony black fruits from the Tannat. The palate is dense and mineral showing ripe, intense black fruits framed in perfect firm acidity and stone flavors that continue in the tight, elegant finish. Enjoy now with grilled lamb, pork or hearty stews, best to wait 5 years when this wine should really sing. PL/DL
This is an oustanding, totally unique and delicious wine! From organically certified vineyards, 1 ha dedicated to Petit Manseng and 1 ha to Petit Courbu, permaculture-pioneer Peio Espil offers a very unique interpretation of Irouléguy Blanc as he is one of the few growing grapes on Trias limestone. No tilling, use of ewes to graze the spontaneous vegetation and compost the soils leads to balanced yields of very concentrated grapes which see some skin maceration (6 hours or so for the Petit Courbu, 12-14 hours for the Petit Manseng) in order to extract aromatic compounds and structure. Long fermentations are preferred for texture. Then the wine stays untouched on its fine lees with racking if needed for up to 18 months, and doesn’t need to be filtered before bottling. As in 2018, the 2019 has a bit more depth and roundness than usual for this wine, but retains the intense mineral/herbal backbone that makes it so unique. It has a surprising density with so many layers: a very complex nose of passion fruit, chamomile, yellow plum, marsipan and smoked salt, the palate is very savory with a saline quality, with ripe pear and quince, roasted lemon and intense anise seed and chalky mineral flavors. It is a salivating wine with so much to give, that you want to sip on it little by little. Enjoy it today in large Burgundy glass or keep it for 10 years. For pairing, a rabbit agnolotti with dried sage or a cauliflower panna cotta with crab meat flesh and grapefruit segment.
Laurent and Michelle Bénard farm just under 3 hectares in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, a small commune in the Marne. They have been farming organically for decades and have been certified organic since 2012. La Clé de Sept Arpent is a blend from a few small parcels, and is mostly Pinot Meunier (66%), with the rest of the blend being equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The base is from the 2014 vintage, with some reserve wine used as well. Extra-Brut, with only 2 g/l dosage. Dry, elevated, and very 'Meunier,' with some mushroomy notes on the nose and nice mousse. Recommended for any fan of Pinot Meunier based Champagnes or really any fan of Champagne in general, considering the price point and quality. -EL
A new-ish grower for Chambers Street Wines, Christian Bourmault from Avize works organically with some parcels certified. The Champagne Brut Lettre à Terre is 100% old vine Chardonnay from 2 lieux-dits in Cuis. Fermented in barrel, bottled with 3g/l dosage. The nose offers pretty aromas of white flowers (jonquil and lemon blossom) and chalk. The palate is nervy and stony on the attack with ripe orchard fruit and citrus oil flavors and hint of creaminess before culminating on a driving chiseled finish. This has great flair and brio and should gain in nuance with a time in the cellar, provided one can keep their hands of their stash. Highly recommended. John McIlwain
In the 1970s, Hirsch started organic farming and in 2006, he was one of the founding members of Respekt – a new biodynamic certification started as an alternative to Demeter, which was then the only certification. Respekt has branched out from Austria and now covers “German speaking areas” including Northern Italy and Germany. The winery is located in Kammern in the Kamptal, a short distance from the vineyards, so the fruit is pressed a very short time after it’s picked. Yields here are very low. Grapes are always whole cluster pressed without crushing. ‘Hannes favors a long pressing rather than a short one, echoing fellow respect member Bernhard Ott’s feeling that the stems are “part of the wine too”. The Hirschvergnugen (meaning "deer delight") is a lovely entry level gruner showcasing the terroir and climate of the Northern Kamptal. The nose showcase aromas of wet rocks, lime, white flowers and green apples. The palate confirms an intense mineralty, green notes like asparagus with a hint of white pepper on the long, crisp finish. Giselle Hamburg
A 9 hectare family estate for the last 3 generations, all of whom still live and work on the land, the winery is situated in the Western edge of the famous Wachau region, in the Spitzer Graben - a steep valley branching off from the Danube vale. Son Georg Högl, father Josef Högl and grandfather Högl, work together to create outstanding, crisp white wines from the highest and coolest sites in the Wachau. This region is marked by extreme geological and climatic conditions. The extremely steep locations of the vineyards and the idiosyncratic climate are its dominant features. Terraces are colder and more barren, rugged and more stony than most others in the region.These Rieslings are precise, powerful, juicy, crystal clear and concentrated. The 2020 federspiel displays intense aromas of chalk, slate, citrus and white peach. The palate is mineral with laser like acidity and an initial slight spritz leading to a long, slightly saline finish. Lipsmackingly good, a perfect foil to shellfish, white meats. goat cheeses and greens. Giselle Hamburg
Pichler -Krutzler is a wine royalty couple; Elizabeth is the daughter of F X Pichler and Erich is from a famous estate in Sudburgenland. Because he still has vineyards there, they aren't part of the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus . This allows them to follow more natural winemaking practices and longer hang times in addition to organic viticulture.The single vineyard Ried Klostersatz located in the village of Oberloiben is one of the oldest vineyards in the entire Wachau – it has been first documented in the year 860, then owned by the archbishop of Salzburg. Attributable by its position in the Danube river bend at Oberloiben, the sediments are fine-grained on the top and the pebbles coming from the Alps build the drainage underneath. This fact and over 45 year old vines result in a very spicy and a kind of athletic wine showing promising aging potential. The 2018 vintage shows a pale, lemon green robe. The nose is intensely herbaceous, with pronounced minerality, and aromas of green apple & lime. The palate is extremely mineral with the high acidity of citrus flavors. The wine is medium bodied, with white pepper on the long finish. Singularly elegant with it's flinty, savory profile, it requires roasted fowl, pork veal and stong cheeses as accompaniment. Giselle Hamburg
Zierfandler is one of 2 main white grapes of the Thermenregion 20 minutes south of Vienna. Dating back to the Habsburg empire, it was a favorite of the emperors and court. For lovers of dry rieslings, kerner and dry chenins with explosive aromas of lemon, quince, wet rocks, fresh herbs, meadow flowers with a touch of petrol. The palate is zingy with intense flavors of lemon, pear, herbaceousness and chalky minerality. Medium bodied with an almond bitterness balanced by citrus oil acidity. Whole cluster pressed, spontaneous fermentation in large wood tanks and four months on the lees lend a certain velvety creaminess and firm structure. An absolute delight and eminently pairable with a wide variety of fish, vegetables, greens and cheeses. End of stock! Giselle Hamburg
ATMA, the Greek word for “soul”, is a new range of wines from Apostolos Thymiopoulos. 100% Assyrtiko – 50% from Apostolos’ high altitude vineyards in the Fytia Village at 500-600m above sea level. The remaining 50% of Assyrtiko are from vineyards in nearby Amyndeon prefecture. These cool climate and high altitude vineyards produce a a mineral driven style of Assyrtiko from Macedonia that is easy to drink, yet shows the unique characteristics of the variety. The nose is redolent of lemons, wet rocks and savory herbs. The palate confirms the zippy citrus and stony minerality.The wine is medium to full bodied with high acidity and a lingering, saline finish, just begging for oysters, grilled fatty fish, octopus and shellfish like lobster and crab. Giselle Hamburg