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Spare yourselves the blah blah blah and go right to the wine list below, but...it's no secret that our favorte importer and largest supplier is Louis/Dressner Selections, whose creative and delicious portfolio has been providing superb organic, biodynamic and natural wines to the US since 1988. At last week's trade tasting we were able to meet and taste with many old friends and reacquaint ourselves with their beautiful wines, many of which are featured below and in subsequent offers over the next few weeks. Today's offer includes some old favorites, but also many unique and quite special wines that rarely appear on our shelves - we hope you try them all!
We're happy to have the superb Cahors of Sophie and Julien Ilbert at Combel-la-Serre back on the shelves! Particularly impressive at last weeks tasting was the 2020 "Chateau" from estate plots totalling 3 hectares around their home village of Cournou on the limestone plateau. This really showed beautifully - dense, sapid and pure, very focused with good acidity and bright black raspberry and red currant fruit, mineral, floral and long. A bit more serious is the 2020 "Au Cerisier" - while there is more density and complexity to the fruit and a very earthy, mineral core, the wine remains silky, very elegant and balanced, perfect to accompany a vegetable tagine, stew or grilled meats on a cold night or a summer evening...
Domaine François and Julien Pinon, Vouvray
Julien Pinon had come home to work alongside his father, when Francois passed away suddenly in January of 2021. What followed was a terrible year for Julien with most of the crop lost to frost and mildew. 2022 happily brought excellent quality and quantity, and Julien was looking forward last week to his first visit to NY in many years, with a tasting and dinner planned at Chambers. Sadly, Julien spent the week in a hotel room in Chicago instead, with Covid, missing the trade tasting and dinner - but he will be back next year, hopefully with some samples from 2022! (Despite his absence the wines at the dinner showed beautifully - our favorites were the brilliant Cuvee Botrytis 1996, the 1964 Demi-Sec and the lovely 2012 Brut Non-Dosé.) Happily, many of the Pinon's wines are currently available and we'd like to feature the 2019 Vouvray Brut and the 2020 Buvez du Bon Pinon. This was our first taste of the 2019 Brut and it impressed with its density, complexity and beautiful fruit in a dryer style than usuual for this wine - delicious now or in 20 years. And the sensational "Buvez du Bon Pinon" is beginning to open up slightly and show its greatness - drink now if you must but best to wait 10 years and enjoy until....?
The Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon Methode Ancestrale has been a perrenial favorite at Chambers Street for its amazingly delicious sweet fruit and delicate bubbles. The estate is now producing new versons of their Cerdon, that are even more delicious and old-fashioned than before - and as of the 2022 vintage, the wines are certified Biodynamic. These were a big favorite at last week's tasting!
The first "new" release is the non-vintage (2022) Bugey Cerdon "Initiale" - made primarily with Gamay, Elie says it reminds him of what the estate was producing 20 years ago: fruity, "glou glou" Cerdon to knock back with abandon. Creamy, round and delicious with aromas of red and black fruits and spice, the wine is sappy and refreshingly sweet with ripe strawberry and raspberry compote in the finish. It's insanely delicious!
The 2022 Bugey Cerdon, the estate's new "normal" cuvée, has a much higher percentage of Poulsard (58% Gamay and 42% Poulsard) which gives the wine a lighter, dryer feel, even though the sugar level remains about the same. With beautiful ripeness and fabulous pure raspberry fruit, just a gorgeous wine, with the Poulsard contributing an earthy complexity to the bright Gamay fruit.
"Comfortably hidden in the foothils of Jura between Lyon and Geneva, the tiny village of Merignat emerges at a bend of the road. Under its austere face of a small medieval town, it hides in its cellars a sparkling natural wine that unveils part of its mystery when the bottle is opened, revealing its color." Elie and Christelle are incredibly nice people who make delicious, authentic wines - we hope you will try them!
Quinta do Infantado, Porto
The Ports of João Roseira at the Quinta do Infantado are truly otstanding and quite different in style and quality from the wines offered by the major houses. We're very happy to feature the 2016 Vintage Port and the 2011 Cohleita Tawny, which were really oustanding at last week's tasting. and look out for Joao's new Organic Reserve Ruby and Organic Reserve Tawny, arriving soon...
Quinta do Infantado was founded in 1816 in the Cima Corgo sub-region of the Douro--considered its finest zone for both Port and dry wines--by the Portuguese crown heir D. Pedro IV, hence the name of the estate: “Infante” is Portuguese for "prince". The Roseira family has owned it since the end of the nineteenth century. Today, Infantado is run by third generation João Roseira, winemaker and vineyard manager. Up until the 1970’s, like most small growers, Infantado sold their wines off to large shippers; they then made the radical decision to go it alone, becoming the first estate to not sell or buy fruit or wine and to exclusively bottle estate-grown wines.
Port is highly regulated and those regulations are built around an A-to-F vineyard classification scale. Infantado owns exclusively A-grade sites, which is the Douro equivalent of having nothing but grand cru vineyards. Theirs are mainly the classic steep, schistous, terraced, old-vine parcels of the traditional mixed plantings of local varieties. Unlike other port producers, Infantado harvests by hand into small baskets and the grapes are brought carefully to the nearby winery where they are fermented slowly with wild yeasts, to a point of less sugar and more alcohol and a reduced need for fortification—thus their wines contain around thirty percent less brandy than a standard Port. These are superb and well-balanced Ports with great elegance, in a dryer style that will be appreciated by any lover of fine wines...
Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet
It was great to see Rémi Branger of Pépière at last weeks event, and also great to taste three superb Cru Communal wines side-by-side, a rare occurrence! The 2019 Gorges, from unique gabbro soils, is a complex, dense and beautifully structured wine with aromas showing almond, smoke and petrol notes in addition to stone, pear, quince and mushroom. The palate is dense and intensely mineral. The 2020 Clisson was powerful and pure, with classic, vibrant aromas of almond, pear, citrus and stone, with a dense very mineral palate with subtle white fruits and a long bright stony finish. The newly arrived 2019 Monnières was the most fine and delicate of the three - Rémi said that it spent three years on the lees before bottling "less fat, more mineral than usual in 2019" - crystalline and delicious now, but best to wait. These are beautiful wines and superb values for aging - it's a real treat to pull an old Pépière Muscadet out of your cellar!
Éric Texier, Rhône
Éric and Laurence Texier were there, holding court with their usual dry humor, pouring a dozen wines from Brézème, St. Julien-en-St. Alban and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. "Purity and precision take precedence over power, hence whole-cluster fermentations with native yeasts in cement vats; short macerations; no extractive techniques like punch-downs or pump-overs; no battonage; no racking; gentle pressing; cement and old oak for aging, and little to no sulfur." We've included a half-dozen of our favorites. Warning - the 2020 Le Clau is a brilliant and fascinating wine made from an unknown pre-cursor to modern Syrah, but it has closed up very tightly since our tasting last year. Please open a day or two in advance or cellar five years before drinking!
All wines are in stock or arrive April 6th, 10% case/mixed case discount applies...but sparkling wines do not discount.
(Arrives 8/22) From the estate's website: "This is the renaissance of a cuvée created by my great-grandfather - a dry wine from our oldest parcel, planted in 1945 on soils of silex noir and vinfied in our oldest foudres - old 'tonneaux' from Porto purchased by my grandfather. We're using the label from the 1950s as well as the name of the cuvée - the famous 'Buvéz du Bon Pinon.' The fermentation lasted 2 to 3 months with only wild yeasts, which participate in the effect of 'terroir.' The fermentation was stopped by chilling the juice, followed by a soutirage, the wine then aged for 5 months in the old tonneaux. Aging potential of 15 to 20 years, serve with shellfish, oysters, cold fish, vegetable terrines, choucroute de la mer, rillettes and rillons." 7 grams/liter RS, 13.5% alcohol. This superb and elegant Vouvray is quite a contrast from the more open and expressive 2020 Sec. The "Buvez du Bon Pinon" is all elegance and depth, but quite closed, and just slightly opening on day two. The aromas are deep and creamy with subtle white peach, quince, earth, almond and stone, really needs time... The palate is dense and full with white and yellow fruits blending with earth, almond, anise and mineral notes. The wine is showing density and perfect balance but will need many years to really emerge - like the Huet Le Mont Sec, for example, give it ten years before drinking if possible - or a 12 hour decant if drinking now. Of course it's delicious today but try to wait... David Lillie
(Arrives 8/22) 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, from four parcels; Les Haut de Terne, Les Hauts de Mortiers, Chopet and Les Planches Favettes. The 2018 was hand-harvested in three passes in order to select the best grapes, with two additional selections - on a "table de tri" and again before the press. Thus the best and ripest grapes are selected, enabling this cuvée with no addition of sugar, as in a Champagne Brut Nature. Aged sur-lies for more than 3 years. This beautiful wine shows elegant aromas of ripe white and yellow fruits, floral and earthy with almond and bitter lemon. The palate is creamy and dense, round and ripe but with firm underlying acidity, with almond, earth and mineral notes lingering in the long finish. Enjoy it now for its beautiful depth and balance, but peak drinking will be 2032 - 2050. A profound Chamapgne of Chenin! David Lillie
(Arrives 4/6) The Bugey Cerdon "Initiale" is a new release from our friends Elie and Christelle at Renardat-Fache - made primarily with Gamay, Elie says it reminds him of what the estate was producing 20 years ago: fruity, "glou glou" Cerdon to knock back with abandon. Creamy, round and delicious with aromas of red and black fruits and spice, the wine is sappy and refreshingly sweet with ripe strawberry and raspberry compote in the finish. The 2022 vintage is just beautiful, floral and fresh with a lip-smacking finish - keep one of these in the fridge at all times!
The 2022 Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon shows the more serious side of Cerdon, with 42% Poulsard bringing higher-toned red fruits and a more earthy complexity to this joyous wine. 2022 is a great vintage for this wine with vibrant red currant, cherry and raspberry fruit aromas and a dryer, more elegant palate, with the Poulsard bringing a touch of bitterness and more structure in the long finish. Just a beautiful wine from the artisanal winemaking and Biodyanamic farming of Elie and Christelle Renardat-Fache!
Touriga Franca/Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz plus mixed-variety old vines. From exclusively Class A parcels (Serra Douro and Serra de Baixho) totaling 7.5 hectares on poor schist soils—the vines are 50 years or older. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented exclusively in lagar; fermentation is stopped with 77-degree wine brandy. The wine is aged for 2 years in a variety of tonel and balseiro, which are tall wooden tanks from 3,000-60,000 liters with thick staves that slow down oxidation. The 2016 finished at a modest 19.5% alcohol and 72 g/liter RS. In the glass, the wine shows a beautiful red/purple plum in color. The nose is full of fruity cassis and smoke, anise, fennel, and cherry. After a moment, you can detect a subtle aroma of sweet cocoa. The palate is generous, with bold flavors of plum and black cherry, plus a refreshing edge of bitter herb. Plump in structure, cut by a dash of medium acidity. A lovely dose of simple and elegant sweetness, as well. A long finish ends with an essence of dried cherries and espresso. This is a port for all drinkers - complex and tasty!
(Arrives June 13th) This sensational Cru Communal Clisson spent more than 2 years on the lees before bottling. Rémi Branger on the 2020 vintage "We harvested the 2020s very early, beginning on August 24th, it was a precocious vintage. Maturities advanced quickly but we were able to keep good freshness and some nice bitter notes that were missing a bit in 2018 and 2019." The 2020 Clisson, tasted last month in the Loire, is a great success featuring classic, vibrant aromas of almond, pear, citrus and stone, with a dense very mineral palate with subtle white fruits and a long bright stony finish. This will provide superb early drinking, especially with shellfish and baked cod or sole, but please put some away as 10 to 20 years of cellaring will create something special. David Lillie
(Arrives 5/23) We're ecstatic to have another vintage of this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon from a tiny parcel of old vines on Gabbro bedrock with clay rich in quartz. The wine undergoes a slow fermentation and is then aged 36 months on the lees. (Marc Ollivier considers this a favorite of Pepiere's bottlings, along with the Château-Thébaud.) The 2019 Gorges is a complex, dense and beautifully structured wine, with a bit more brightness and acidity than than the superb 2015. The Gabbro terroir brings unique aromas showing almond, smoke and petrol notes in addition to stone, pear, quince and mushroom. The palate is dense and intensely mineral with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the very long finish. If drinking young please give the wine a lengthy decant to release the unique character of this wine - best to wait at least 5 - 6 years before opening, then enjoy until 2042 and beyond. David Lillie
(Arrives April 6) Combel's Château Cuvée comes from estate plots totalling 3 hectares around their home village of Cournou on the limestone plateau known as the Causse at about 320m altitude. The soils for this bottling are mainly red clay with some limestone rock. The organically farmed vines average 40 years old and are kept to a yield of 40 hl/ha. Because of the clay-heavy terroir and winemaking and aging choices, the 2019 Château Cuvée marks a signficant step up in body, tannin and complexity compared to the lighter, softer Pur Fruit bottling. This is a beautiful Cahors showing elegant, earthy red and black fruit aromas - the palate is dense, sapid and pure, very focused with good acidity and bright black raspberry and red currant fruit, mineral, floral and long. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next five years or more.
100% Malbec. "Au Cerisier" comes from a single 1.2-hectare plot at 350 m. altitude, next door to a cherry orchard for which the Ilberts named this bottling. The certified-organic vines average 40 years old and are planted on red and yellow clay soils over limestone bedrock. This is a quite serious Cahors showing a dark red/black color and beautifull black raspberry and blackberry fruit aromas with hints of dark chocolate, violet and stone. The palate is supple and dense, quite elegant and not tannic, very full-bodied but not heavy and really showing the clay/limestone terroir, with a long finish of bright red and black fruits. Drink now with a long decant with a steak or stew, best to cellar five to ten years. This was oustanding at the March 2023 tasting - it's a lovely Cahors and highly recommended! David Lillie
(Arrives 4/6) 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 a 6 g/l dosage. The 2019 Brut is a delightful wine showing elegant aromas of quince, pear, brioche, citrus and mint, bright and fresh, but with more ripeness and density in this excellent vintage. The palate shows an elegant mousse with superb density and weight, with flavors of white fruits, quince, peach and honey with firm chalky acidity, and finishing with white fruit, almond and mineral notes, quite clean and refreshing. Lovely wine, and capable of long aging. (Please serve in a white wine glass, not a flute, in order to enjoy the complex aromas...)
(Arrives 4/6) Old-vine field blend of over twenty varieties, made in the best vintages rather than from a blend of vintages. The Infantado Colheita is always a superb wine, a bit more distinctive and rich than the regular 10-year. It comes from exclusively Class A parcels (Vale de Moinhos and Castelos) totaling 3.5 hectares on poor schist soils. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented exclusively in lagar; fermentation is stopped with seventy-seven-degree wine brandy. The wine was aged for ten years in a combination of very old tonel or balseiro (tall wooden tanks from 3,000-60,000 liters with thick staves that slow down oxidation) and the classic Port pipa (550-liter horizontal casks with thinner staves that promote oxidation). The 2011 is a gorgeous wine with a lovely fairly dark tawny color . The aromas are pure and elegant with dried red currant and raisin, rose petal, blood orange peel, clove. The palate is silky and supple with very pure focused flavors of dried fruits, earth, citrus and brown spice that continue in the very long finish which is sustained by firm acidity. This is a simply outstanding Colheita that will pair with fruit deserts and full-flavored cheeses and is a delight to sip by itself. This happily avoids the excess sweetness and brandy notes of Colheitas from the more commercial houses. Highly recommended and a bargain at the price! David Lillie
Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional are the predominant varieties in this certified-organic, 2-hectare vineyard called Pousado planted by the estate in 1998. Like all Infantado vineyards, this one is ranked "Class A ", the highest classification in the Douro. The wine is made just like its other dry red blend: the bunches are hand-harvested, mainly destemmed and fermented spontaneously with native yeasts in stainless steel lagares with robotic treaders built to mimic the gentleness of the old tradition of foot treading. The wine is aged for 18 months in 300-liter French oak barrels (little to none of it being new) and bottled without fining or filtration. Sensational value!
(Arrives 4/6) The 2019 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: "After many tastings we decided to keep it three years on the lees before bottling - less fat, more mineral than usual in 2019." The wine is less dense than "Clisson" and "Château Thebaud" but our notes indicate an equally great Muscadet - subtle, ethereal, classy, pure and very long. A great wine for drinking over the next ten to fifteen years. David Lillie
(Arrives 4/6) 100% Roussanne. From Texier's young vines in the cooler, more limestone-driven vineyard area of Brézème (marnes calcaires). Whole cluster, direct press, native yeast fermentation, aging on lees in concrete, no stirring, 30 mg/l of SO2 at bottling. Selection massalle from the very old Roussanne vines of Domaine Pergaud, planted in 2003. Beautiful purity of yellow fruits, citrus, almond and saline minerals.
2019 Chateauneuf-du-Pape VV - From old vines of Bourboulenc and Clairette on galets roulés in "Bois Sénéchaux," facing north. Flashing a medium gold hue, the nose offers fabulously complex aromas of quince, cantaloupe, orange marmalade and orange blossom, with almond, citrus, dried flowers and chamomille, lifted by a slightly oxidative character. The palate is full bodied with concentration from the old vines, showing ripe pear and yellow fruits with meyer lemon, almond and intense saline minerals, finishing with firm acidity and fabulous length. A true winter weight Rhone white meant for heartier dishes and colder climes. GH/DL "2019 Chateauneuf blanc : very hot and ripe year, similar to 2017. Even the bourboulenc was very ripe. We did some oxydation on the must before fermentation to avoid too much oxydative notes in the finish wine. In the end like for any super ripe vintage, we do have a touch of oxydation (should please the Jura kids...), but the wine has a great potential for imaginative pairings with food. Really amazing with marinated poultry (acidic marinade - lime, lemon... based). For drinking now, unlike 2018 or 2020 that will need years, imo.." Eric Texier
(Arrives 4/6) The Texier CDP Vieilles Vignes is 100% Grenache from 80+ year-old vines on alluvial gravel of glacial origin called ‘galets roulés’ on the northern slopes of "la Crau." The wine shows a bright red/black color and astonishing aromas of violet, red currant and crushed raspberry over deep plum liqueur, just beautiful. The palate is lush and supple with bright acidity, with gorgeous round red and black fruits that coat the mouth and linger on the long finish with firm acidity, citrus, earth and mineral notes under the exuberant fruit. On day two, more typical notes of garrigue and black cherry emerge... Like a great red Burgundy made with Grenache, pair it with an elegant cuisine (or drink it for breakfast). Long term aging is certainly possible, but we recemmend drinking it now, without restraint... DL "2020 Chateauneuf rouge : reminds me of 2000. In one word : balance. Between fruit and structure, acidity and roundness, aromatic expression and aging potentiel. This wine pleases me a lot. Unusual lately... Harvested late September under perfect conditions. Whole cluster of course, 18 months in demi muids. A tiny bit of grenache blanc in it, since we forgot to harvest 2 rows when we did the whites! 1956 bottles and 24 magnums." Eric Texier
(Arrives 4/6) Made primarily from 80 to 90 year-old vines of Serine, grown in a small hillside parcel of limestone marl soil in Brézème, generally regarded as an old version of Syrah (which evolved from Mondeuse Blanc and Dureza) with smaller berries which survived through massale selection, principally in Cote Rotie. Serine gives a more aromatic and elegant wine that the larger berried modern Syrah. "Probably the last "classic" vintage of my life" says Éric "old school, harvested in October, classic balance but gentler than 2013, so very approachable. One of my personal favorite Brézème Pergaud, unmistakably Brézème. No sulfur." The wine shows a dark garnet/black color with subtle, elegant aromas, floral, then gamey, then dense high-toned blackberry, a bt of blueberry with stone and spice. The palate is lean and youthful with firm acidity, dense but weightless. Elegant red fruits need time to emerge. The finish is long , all minerals and saline acids. Approachable, perhaps, but I would put this away for 5 to 8 years then drink until 2042. David Lillie
(Arrives 4/6) 100% Syrah/Serine. From 70+ year-old vines of an old, pre-clonal variety of Syrah known as "Serine" planted on a south-facing slope on granite soils in St-Julien-en-St-Alban, organically farmed and harvested by hand. The vinification and aging are identical to Texier's Brézème Serine bottling and thus purely expressive of the much warmer, sunnier microclimate and granite-rich St. Julien terroir: whole-cluster fermentation with indigneous yeasts and no sulfur in wooden vats with an 8-10-day maceration; no extraction technqiues, only a submerged cap for a gentle infusion of color and flavor; aging in foudres for 36-48 months on the fine lees without racking; bottling without fining or filtration and generally no sulfur.
(Arrives 4/6) "From a handful of rows in our 0.5 ha of a very particular strain of Serine. Planted in the 1930’s in the Masson parcel of Saint-Julien en-Saint-Alban in the lieu-dit Le Clau. They present unique ampelographic qualities, very different from the Serines we find in Brézème or other Northern vineyards, notably very low alcoholic degrees when in full maturity. All replacements here have been done through marcottage, without the introduction of any clones. We are still not sure of their exact nature, and certain ampelography experts believe it may not even be Syrah. It may actually be Bravade or Exbrayat. We've decided to vinify these separately and the result is unique. We’ve discovered a very particular personality, and it’s an immense pleasure to share this with you.Whole-cluster, with a light treading for 20% of the grapes. 6-8 days of maceration with an immersed cap, no extraction. Native yeasts. Aged 18 months in demi-muids. No filtration or fining. No sulfur was added at any point during vinification, aging or bottling." (The following note is from our June 2022 tasting - the wine has closed up (March 2023) and wll need aeration or aging before drinking) The 2020 Le Clau shows an inky black/purple color with bright rim. Vivid black fruit aromas (boysenberry, blackberry) with black peppercorn, earth, mint, garrigue - develops quickly with aeration. The wine is intense but not heavy with a very mineral attack and very firm acidity with bright cassis and blackberry fruit that emerges with air. A fascinating melange of black fruits, anise and minerals lingers lightly on the palate in the very long finsh. This is an extraordinary wine that is great fun to taste now but 5 years in the cellar, and perhaps much longer, should create something quite unique. David Lillie