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A Memorial Day reminder about some of our favorite Loire Valley wines that are back in stock, or about to disappear...
We'd like to feature the simply outstanding 2019 Vouvray "Les Déronnières" from Domaine Pinon. First produced in 2014, the grapes used to be included in the "Silex Noir," but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. Chenin Blancs from the Loire are certainly among the world's greatest white wines, coming from a fascinating range of superb terroir, and made in a wide variety of styles. The Pinon "Les Déronnières" belongs in the highest category of these wines as anyone tasting it can attest, made by François and Julien Pinon in a style unique to their estate and their terroir.
The details from Julien: From a 1 hectare vineyard facing south on the "premier cote calcaire" with vines averaging 60 years of age. Harvested in the second week of September 2019 in sunny weather, three passes through the vineyard to select only the best grapes, futher selection on a "table de tris" and again before going into the press. Three month fermentation in oak barrels, no SO2 or added yeasts, aged on the lees in barrel, bottled in April 2020, with a light filtration, 5,000 bottles produced. Alcohol 13.5%, residual sugar 7 grams/liter, acidity 4.9 gr/liter, pH 3.10. Cellar for 15 - 20 years or more, serve not too cold with shellfish, oysters, grilled fish, choucroute de la mer, vegetable terrines, charcuteries, rillons, rilletes.
A few notes on CSW/importer stock: 2019 Pinon "Les Déronnières" 6 cases available; 2019 Pinon "Sec" 6 cs available; Pinon 2017 Brut, last case; Pinon 2020 Pet Nat Rosé, last 2 cases; Pinon 2012 Brut Non-Dosé, last case (really!), Pépière 2019 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clisson, last 5 cases; Pépière 2017 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Monnières, last case; Baudry 2019 Le Clos Guillot, last 4 cs; Baudry 2019 "Les Grezeaux" 1.5 L, last 10 btls; Baudry 2019 "Domaine," last ten cases of this beautifull wine; Baudry 2020 Les Granges, last 3 cases; We wish we could offer more Baudry 2021 Rosé, but don't be sad, we have plenty of the "particulièrement gouleyant" 2021 Olga Raffault Chinon Rosé - case quantities are possible...!
Wines Arrive Wednesday, June 2nd
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!
The 2017 Pépière Cru Communal Monnières - Saint-Fiacre is from a parcel of old vines on bedrock of gneiss, rich in minerals such as feldspar, mica and iron, with sandy limestone topsoils. The Cru is in the heart of the Muscadet region, bordered on the north by the Sevre river and to the southeast by the Maine. Notes from Remi Branger: "In 2017 there was frost in some parcels of Château Thebaud and Clisson but almost none in Monnières-Saint-Fiacre. 2017 is a very beautiful vintage where we find great freshness and structure. We harvested the Monnières parcel on September 7th and after two months of fermentation the wine spent 3 years sur-lie, during which time we performed 3 batonnages - we bottled it in November 2020. I don't know if you remember but at the salons (Jan - Feb 2020) the samples showed beautifully and were all in delicacy. The wine remains in that style, very pure and fine with notes of citrus with a bit of iodine and very lightly fumé." The wine is less dense than "Clisson" and "Château Thebaud" but our notes from 2020 indicate an equally great Muscadet - ethereal, classy, pure and very long. A great wine for drinking over the next ten to fifteen years. David Lillie
One of the most pleasurable red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux is from a unique parcel of sixty year-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. The 2019 shows a dark black/purple color with quite floral blackberry and strawberry aromas, with a bit of earth, spice and citrus. Very silky and supple on the palate with deep stony black fruits, meaty, chalky and long. Good acidity in the finish with graphite and velvety black fruits, quite elegant, very sapid and long. This is a lovely "Les Grézeaux" and is highly recommended for early drinking or ten to twenty years of cellaring. David Lillie
The Baudry Chinon "Domaine" is always one of our favorite reds from the Loire Valley and it's a sensational value as well. 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 cement with almost no added SO2. The 2019 Domaine shows a deep red/black color and beautiful fresh aromas of ripe red and black fruits with hints of earth, roast meat, black pepper and violet. The palate is dense and sapid with supple strawberry and blackberry liqueur, lacking a bit of the sweet, lush character of the 2018, but showing more underlying mineral flavors lifted by bright acidity. The fruit is quite ripe but the wine is beautifully balanced - it's delicious now and will be singing in 2031 as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
(Five cases are available) The grapes for "Les Déronnières" from Francois and Julien Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec, but in recent vintages the RS level has been below 10 gr/l making it dry, in Vouvray anyway...
Our friends Francois and Julien Pinon produce sensational Vouvray at their estate in Vallée du Cousse and the 2018 Silex Noir is another superb example. From approximatley 40 year-old vines on soils of clay and flint over limestone in the vineyards of Terné and Batailleries. The wine shows beautiful aromas of white fruits, citrus, wildflowers earth and honey. Chalky white fruits, earth, lemon and stone on the palate with a creamy texture typical of 2018, with nice finishing acidity and mineral flavors. A bit of residual sugar brings out all the best in this lovely Chenin Blanc, delicious now - decant a few hours in advance if possible - or cellar 20 to 30 years. Serve with rillettes and rillons, fish in sauce, lobster, langoustines and scallops, chicken in cream sauce, too. (26 g/L RS, 4.1 g/L total acid.)
Many of you may instinctively reach for the Pinon Vouvray Non-Dosé, and while that is an excellent and refreshing example of sparkling Chenin Blanc, you should absolutely not dismiss the utter deliciousness of the Brut! The Chenin's of Pinon are some of the best in Vouvray due to their impeccable farming, diversity of clay, limestone, and silex soils, and deliberate, albeit low-intervention, cellar work. The Vouvray Brut comes from ~45 year-old vines that are hand-harvested during the first pass of the season. It is made in the traditional method with two to three years resting on the lees before disgorgement with 10 g r/s. On the nose is a just baked pie with pear and apricot, a bit of honey and dried chamomile, and on the palate are soft, persistent bubbles (it even stayed alive after two days in the fridge!) and a textured mineral-driven finish. Perfectly balanced to be just the slightest bit off-dry owing to the vibrant acidity, it will be delightful as an aperitif or with a selection charcuterie and cheese. Michelle DeWyngaert
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
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
"Clos Guillot 2019 : Warm millésime but fresh wine with very elegant tannins. Even if the wine is a bit shy aromatically, it is one of the greatest Clos Guillot we have made. Not as big as CG 2018 but great potential and a lot of finesse. The second half of June, as well as July and August, were extremely hot and dry, with temperatures often over 40 °C. Fortunately, the vines benefited from some long-awaited rainfall around the end of September. The grape-harvest started on September 30 and lasted until October 8. The reds, though not quite as spicy as the 2018s, are generous and redolent of red fruit and violets. The savory character of the 2019 reds seduced us from the onset. The tannins are well-integrated, and the wines are remarkably balanced."Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone and the vines are relatively young, planted from 1993 to 2000. (Some franc de pied vines are still alive in the sandier section) Fermentation is in wooden cuves, with 12 months of aging in three to ten year-old barriques, and 9 - 12 additional months in unlined cement vats.This is a wine for the cellar, best 2026 - 2045.
From 30 to 35 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils with a bit of clay near the Vienne river in organic agriculture. Hand harvested, fermented with wild yeasts, ages for 8 to 10 months in cement vats, minimal addition of SO2 only prior to bottling. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. The wine shows aromas of ripe raspberry and bluberry with hints of earth, stone, pepper and herbs, really an old school Cab Franc. The palate is quite mineral with firm stony acids underlying lush berry fruits, and is beautifully balanced at 12.5% alcohol. Quite structured for "les Granges," this is delicious now, served cool, with roast chicken, white meats, charcuterie and mild cheeses and will improve with 3 to 5 years of aging.
The Olga Raffault Chinon is a rosé de saignée, after a 12-hour maceration on the skins, followed by a slow low-tempreature fermentation with wild yeasts. The grapes come from gravel soils which brings a bit more density of fruit to the wine which is elegant and perfectly balanced in 2021 Lovely bright pink color, hints of raspberry and strawberry fruit, very dry and balanced on the palate with a bit of peach and red berries in the finish with crisp saline acidity. "Particulièrement gouleyant" it says on the label and we couldn't agree more!