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Chambers Street is proud to support estates in Bordeaux that practice organic and Biodynamic farming, still unfortunately a very small minority in the region. Today's email focuses on organic estates that also practice more natural styles of winemaking, with minimal intervention in the cellar - wild yeast fermentations, minimal new oak and minimal or zero use of sulfur-dioxide. These are complex, soulful and delicious wines from living soils - we urge you to try them! (All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case.)
The Closeries des Moussis was created in 2009, by oenologist Pascale Choime and ecologist Laurence Alias, with the goal of producing natural wines in Bordeaux. The estate is certified organic and Biodynamic and has recently grown from 2.5 to 4.5 hectares, producing wines in Margaux, Haut Medoc and Blaye as well as from purchased fruit in the Côte de Duras. These are beautifully vibrant wines without the new oak, over-extraction and effects of industrial farming that are still sadly the norm in Bordeaux. Minimal plowing is done, by small tractor and horse, in order to preserve the life of the soil. The superb 2020 Haut-Médoc is from vines on gravel soils on the plateau of Sénéjac, vinified and bottled with zero additives.
During our search for organic and natural Bordeaux back in 2013, we were ecstatic to find Didier Michaud's "Chateau Planquette!" Not exactly a "chateau," M. Michaud farms 1.7 hectares in Saint Yzans and Couquèques in the northern Medoc on high ground of gravel and clay over the limestone plateau, equal parts Cab and Merlot with a small percentage of an old strain of Petit Verdot. It's a tiny artisanal production, a unique and delicious wine of terroir with zero additives, in the midst of a sea of over-oaked, over-extracted, badly farmed Bordeaux...The terroir is mostly stony clay and silica over the "Dome de Couquèques," a bed of limestone near the surface whch is quite unusual for the Medoc. The grapes are hand-harvested in small baskets (mostly by Didier and his wife) and undergo a long fermentation with wild yeasts, with no attempt to extract - "more of an infusion" says M. Michaud, followed by two years in old barriques. There are no additives or corrections - the finished wine is analyzed at approximately 2 mg/liter total SO2. Didier has taken a much-desrved retirement and happily the estate is being continued with the same philosophy by Blandine Prévot and Jérémy Borde - they will be releasing Didier's last two vintages starting with the superb 2019. We're very happy that we will be able to continue offering these unique wines!
Closerie du Chene Catherine and Christian Grebaut decided to move to Saint Christophe des Bardes in the Libournais (Saint-Emilion) and take over a small hectare of vines planted in 1956, on the "cote nord" of the AOC, inherited from Catherine's family. "The idea was to get the best quality grapes to make it as easy as possible to vinify" and so they started "gardening" their plot, hoping to one day make a wine they could all be happy with. The project starts in 2015 when Catherine and Christian start getting their hands dirty, but still had to provide the local cooperative their fruit, tied to a contract. Right away they start converting the plot to organic viticulture. For the next four vintages, she not only converts her terroir to certified organic but makes one of the great wines of her appellation, following the principles of natural winemaking, naturally fermented, low sulfur the first year and zero sulfur in 2019. Being alone and going through some medical issues, Catherine decided to call it quits with the 2020 vintage. Rarely has Saint Emilion been so joyful and drinkable so young. Using a mix of stainless, barriques, and amphora, Catherine managed to strike a fine balance between seriousness, ageability, and immediate pleasure that is not often seen in the grand cru...
Le Puy "Located at the top of the same clay and fossil-rich limestone plateau as Saint-Emilion, overlooking the districts of Pomerol and Saint-Emilion, le Puy dominates the Dordogne Valley. We have sought to create a harmony with our environment by systematically refusing the use of chemical products. From the micro-organisms living in the soil to the various plants, animals and insects on the estate, we maintain and preserve that balance right to the glass of wine on your table. This process within an eco-system is the fruit of a collaboration between all the elements in the chain of life: humans, animals, plants and bacteria live together in symbiosis to bring you the purest and most enjoyable wines. Labouring the ground with our five horses ensures precise and delicate work around the vines and prevents the soil from being compacted with a tractor. Ploughing is prohibited, we simply score the surface of the soil so as not to disturb the mycorrhizal network. We foster the diversity of our vine plants through massale selection and devote close attention to root growth and the microbial life of the soils." The wine ferments naturally with wild yeasts, no additives are used, aging for Emilien is two years in foudres and used barrels.
Chateau Massereau Jean-Francois and Philippe Chaigneau purchased Chateau Massereau in 2000, with the intention of producing natural and authentic wines. Thirty kilometers south-east of Bordeaux they found Château Massereau, former 16th century estate of the Dukes of Epernon. Château Massereau benefits from a specific microclimate at the confluence of the Ciron and the Garonne, with gravel soils in AOC Graves and Bordeaux Superieur. Château Massereau is an extreme viticulture practiced with passion: organic farming, avoiding the use of copper, green cover throughout the year, replanting by massale selection and natural vinifications with minimal SO2. These beautiful natural wines are released at maturity - thus the 2010 Cuvee K and 2012 Graves - with at least ten more years of aging potential.
Of course there are many more estates of note that we will have to share with you soon. At least this is a good start to showcasing the exceptional, REAL wines from Bordeaux!
Didier Michaud works 1.7 hectares in the Medoc with 30 to 100 year-old vines on limestone with thin soils of clay with sand and stones. He has old vines of Merlot Queue Rouge and massale selection Cabernet Sauvignon, farmed organically with just a little compost and shallow plowing. Vinification with wild yeasts, no extraction and no added sulfur (total SO2 less than 2 mg/L). This is one of the most "natural" and deliciously old-fashioned wines of Bordeaux. In the glass, the '19 is rich and plummy in color. The nose is heady, with awesome smells of mint, fresh garden soil, graphite, and pungent dark flowers. Flavors steer towards ripe forest fruits, like blueberry, blackberry, and cassis. Anise and herbs, with crunchy minerals, add flare to the wine's fruit. Great density, a velvety texture with engaging tannins and bright acidity. Definitely a bold Bordeaux, clocking in at 15% ABV, but so delicious, well structured and drinkable. Yum! David Hatzopoulos
What a treat - a beautiful Haut-Médoc with zero added sulfur from certified organic and biodynamic farming! Pascale Choime and Laurence Alias of the Closeries des Moussis have a small parcel with sandy gravel soils (bordered by dense woods providing biodiversity) on the Plateau de Sénéjac, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, where they produce this pure and vibrant Bordeaux. There is minimal extraction, aging is 16 months in old barrels. The 2020 is open and inviting, and clearly worthy of cellaring as well, with lovely silky red and black fruits, and great purity and length. An outstanding Haut-Medoc, unburdened by new oak and sulfur-dioxide. Quite delicious for current drinking or cellaring for ten - fifteen years. Highly recommended!
The Closeries des Moussis, run by Pascale Choime and Laurence Alias, produces this deliciously different Bordeaux (Vin de France, actually) from organic and biodynamic certified Merlot grapes grown on clay/limestone soils in the Cotes de Blaye. There is minimal extraction at low temperature follwed by aging in cuve inox, creating a fresh, vibrant wine that has gorgeous red and black fruits with low alcohol (12%) and bright acidity, that twirls (virevolte) on the palate. This is a unique Bordeaux with zero added SO2 - a must try for any lover of natural wines, fresh and vibrant in 2021.
Catherine and Christian Grebaut decided to move to Saint Christophe des Bardes in the Libournais (Saint-Emilion) and take over a small hectare of vines planted in 1956, on the "cote nord" of the AOC, inherited from Catherine's family. "The idea was to get the best quality grapes to make it as easy as possible to vinify" and so they started "gardening" their plot, hoping to one day make a wine they could all be happy with. The project starts in 2015 when Catherine and Christian start getting their hands dirty, but still had to provide the local cooperative their fruit, tied to a contract. Right away they start converting the plot to organic viticulture. For the next four vintages, she not only converts her terroir to certified organic but makes one of the great wines of her appellation, following the principles of natural winemaking, naturally fermented, low sulfur the first year and zero sulfur the last. Being alone and going through some medical issues, Catherine decided to call it quits with the 2020 vintage.Rarely has Saint Emilion been so joyful and drinkable so young. Using a mix of stainless, barriques, and amphora, Catherine managed to strike a fine balance between seriousness, ageability, and immediate pleasure that is not often seen in the grand cru...
Once upon a time, Julien Guillot (from Vignes du Maynes) was showing me someof his favorite wines at a wine fair in France. When we reached the folks from Chateau Le Puy, he got emotional. "Here," he said, "is the original natural wine from Bordeaux." He wasn't kidding! Le Puy has been working without chemicals since the domaine was born in the 1600s! They have always made wines with minimal additives, natural yeast fermentation and old school vinification. Certified organic and Biodynamic, this estate is located on the same plateau as Saint Emilion and Pomerol. Soils are red clay, silt, and limestone, and vines average 50-75 years. Fermentation happens in concrete over 2 weeks. The nose is woodsy, with tree bark and wild herbs, forest plums and cherries. The palate is tense with dark minerals under a richer layer of black and red fruits, black pepper and earth. The structure is well-placed, medium tannin and medium acidity. Drinking exceptionally now, but will age over the next decade. Grape breakdown is 85% merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec and 1% Carmenere. Emilien is obtained by a 2-year decantation in foudres and used barrels. (Zero free SO2, 25 mg/L total) -EL
The Cuvée K 2010 from Massereau is balanced in a fantastic state of maturity. It is a blend from the estate's organically farmed vines of 25% each Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Dark stone fruits, pitted cherries, and dried blueberries form the wine’s aromatic base, while lighter accents of orange peel and clove add a lifted dimension. The palate is rich, with plum, blackberry, black currants, with a smoky hint of loamy minerality. The wine shows great tannic strength, with a beam of mouthwatering acidity. The finish is long, with a tender sweetness of fresh red berries on the tongue that wraps up each sip. This is a must-buy for Bordeaux drinkers looking for exceptional quality at a great price! Drinking beatifully now or hold for 10 to 15 more years.