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The Clos du Tue-Boeuf in Les Montils (AOC Cheverny) is one of the most important domains of the Loire Valley, particularly for those who value organic farming and natural vinifications with zero or minimal added sulfur. Winemaking at the Clos dates back to the middle ages - the wines were enjoyed by King Francois 1er in the 16th century. The Puzelat family has been present in Les Montils since the 15th century - it was Jean and Solange Puzelat who took over the estate in 1947, and transformed the polyculture farm principally into vineyards. Their sons Jean-Marie and Thierry grew up in the vines, and after working at estates in France and abroad, returned to take over the family domaine, first Jean-Marie in 1989, joined by Thierry in 1994. Quickly becoming part of the growing natural wine scene in France, the brothers stopped all additives in their vinifications in 1994 and became certified organic in the vines in 1996.
The affable Jean-Marie has now supposedly retired, and Thierry's daugher Zoé has officially taken her place in the family cellar. We tasted many of these wines in Angers last winter - it was a fabulous tasting with wines ranging from simply delicious to unique, complex, fascinating and age-worthy. We are excited to offer these outstanding wines, but we're sorry that many are in short supply. These are among our very favorite natural wines of France.
Benoit Courault "I can't and won't hide I am a very big fan of Benoit Courault. I documented the reasons why here in details, but to sum up I think he is a dedicated, humble, super-hard working farmer with a sensitivity in the cellar I have rarely seen. And he is also fundamentaly nice and fun, loves rock n'roll and Texan barbecue, and makes chenin on schist. What's not to love? Today the domain covers 6.5 ha. 5.5 ha in production over multiple plots, and 1 ha planted 2 years ago. Most of the vineyards are around the house and in the Clos des Mailles, and its extension Le Prieuré where he makes Gilbourg (1.30 ha), Le Petit Chemin (0.70 ha), Les Rouliers (1.30 ha), La Coulée (0.5 ha), and Les Tabeneaux (1 ha). Ben also has some vineyards on the plateau for his Eglantine, as well as near the Layon, neighboring the plot of his dear friend Richard Leroy (where Richard makes his Rouliers) and in Le Plessis on the way to the famous site Mont Benault (Les Guinechiens, 0.62 ha). In total, Ben has 50% of Chenin, 30% of Cabernet, 15% of Grolleau and 5% of young Pineau d’Aunis (and a couple of experiments)." (Thanks to Pascaline Lepeltier)
These early releases are just beautiful for current drinking, elegant, silky and vibrant, but keeping for five to eight years will be very interesting for these seriously delicious wines!
Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is best known for his insanely delicious and affordable Vin de France Gamay "Le Telquel," but Pierre-O makes a wide range of superb and distinctive wines from Pineau d'Aunis, Menu Pineau, Meslier, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cot, Romorantin, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (!) as well. Just arrived, from the beautiful 2022 vintage, is one of the most fascinating whites of the Loire, Pierre-O's La Tesnière Blanc, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc, from this great parcel that abuts the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Bright pale gold color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, pear, fresh herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is lean, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, stone and brown spice. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines! And we're very happy to have two beautiful Pineau D'Aunis from M. Bonhomme, the 2022 "La Tesniere" and the 2022 "Boissiere." "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.
Hervé Villemade Last but not least, we're offering two 2022s from the affable Monsieur Villemade which have just arrived in NY - his gorgeous 2022 Cheverny Rouge ( 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay) and his deliciously thirst-quenching 2022 Cheverny Blanc, 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay, grown on flinty sand and clay soils. Hervé hails from a farming family that originally settled in Celettes, in the Loire valley, in the 1930’s. Hervé’s father took over in the 60’s, focusing the polyculture on vines, vegetables and grains. Wines were bottled under the Villemade name since the 1970’s and in the late 90’s, Hervé and his sister Isabelle took over, taking the estate organic, and only using natural treatments in the vineyard. Grapes are hand harvested and sorted, juice ferments with indigenous yeasts, and the wines typically receive a small dose of sulfur at bottling. The farming really is impeccable here, treatments are only used when necessary, and limited to sulfur and copper only. Otherwise, grass is allowed to grow, and wild herbs and flowers contribute to biodiversity. Most of the vineyards are tranquil, enclosed plots, surrounded by forest and shrubbery.
These two Chevernys possess the gorgeous fruit of the 2022 vintage, paired with bright acidity, making them brilliant food wines or aperitifs to enjoy over the next 3 to 5 years - they are superb values and highly recommended!
All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case, please allow until Tuesday 8/22 for pick-up or shipping
100% Chenin Blanc. Pineau de la Loire is the local historical name for Chenin Blanc, which is in this case is sourced from AOC Touraine friends who farm their vines organically. Tue Boeuf harvests the fruit by hand, presses it in whole clusters and ferments it with natural yeasts in large wood tanks. The wine is aged in barrel on its lees and bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulfur. Rumor has it that the Puzelat's source the Chenin Blanc for this wine in Vouvray, from old vines, but wherever it's from it's a unique and delicious wine with very bright acidity, vibrant fuit and beautiful minerality.
100% Sauvignon Blanc. Tue Boeuf has been sourcing from this site known as Petit Buisson on the north bank of the Cher since 2003. It is an organically farmed, hand-harvested, 1.4-hectare parcel of 35-40-year-old vines on flinty clay-limestone soils. Typical of Tue Boeuf whites, Petit Buisson fruit is whole-cluster-pressed and allowed to ferment spontaneously with native yeasts and without sulfur in large oak tanks. The wine ages for around 6 months in used Burgundy barrels, without racking and with occasional stirring of the lees; it is bottled without fining or filtration. The 2022 is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc with vibrant pear and melon fruit, very supple and ripe but with firm acidity. Most Sancerres are dulled by excess sulfur-dioxide, but this wine is pure, long and delicious with only a tiny addition of SO2 before bottling. Serve with any full-flavored fish dish, white meats and goat cheeses, lovely wine.
Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat make this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from a one hectare parcel in Pouillé, with sand and gravel over limestone, giving very low yields. An intense and beautiful wine in 2022, with aromas of lemon peel, pear, dried herbs, lime flower and pine resin. The palate is dense and ripe with dried white fruits, lemon oil and earth backed by firm acidity. Beautifully structured and very long, this is an outstanding and unusual Sauvignon Blanc to serve with fish or chicken in sauce and full-flavored goat cheeses. Delicious now, the wine should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. Highly recommended. (The name literally translated is "squalid bush" but we hope it refers rather to the limestone of Pouillé...?)
Benoit Courault's 2022 "Verger de L'Etang" is a delightful blend of Grolleau and Pineau D'Aunis vinified with minimal extraction to preserve the beautiful cherry/berry fruit. Vibrant and refreshing with light, silky red fruits with a hint of white pepper from the Pineau D'Aunis, finishing with vibrant fruit and brisk acidity, just delicious!
Benoit Courault's 2022 "Ephemeres" Petillant is a beautifully refreshing, pure and incredibly delicious sparkling Chenin Blanc, grab some before it disappears...
This is a light and lovely expression of Pineau d'Aunis from Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, from vines near the Cher river on clay with silex in organic and biodynamic farming. Aged in old futs and demi-muids, bottled without filtration, minimal SO2. The 2022 shows a pretty light red color with subtle aromas of ripe raspberry, citrus, white pepper and violets, really pretty. A touch deeper than the 2021, it nonetheless delivers on the Pineau D'Aunis promise of peppery and bright rustic flavors. Lip-smacking acidity and a beautifully refreshing finish of minerals, earth and pretty red fruits. This is a delightfully refreshing version of Pineau d'Aunis - serve cool!
Menu Pineau, also known as "Arbois" is described in Wine Grapes (J. Robinson et al.) as "an old variety from the Val de Loire named after its similarity to Gros Pineau (Chenin Blanc)...although it has nothing to do with the village called Arbois in the Franche-Comté." It is an offspring of Gouais Blanc, along with many other European grapes, and is "a little more rustic, but less acid than Chenin Blanc," according to Thierry Puzelat. The 2022 La Tesnière Blanc by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is from organically-grown vines, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc. The wine shows a bright pale gold color, with subtle aromas of grapefruit, dried pear and apple, dried herbs, nettle, lemon peel, stone and caramel. The palate is austere and stony, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, earth and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with sushi, grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
(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) 2022 is another great vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade, similar to 2018 and 2020 but perhaps a bit brighter, really lovelu! Slight reduction then very pretty aromas of plum, strawberry and blood orange with rose and white pepper; tart cherry and chalky raspberry/strawberry fruit on the palate, light but 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. DL
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Gamay from small parcels of clay and flint soils over limestone of Blois. "Rouillon" is our favorite red from Cheverny, always delicate and pretty even in ripe years like 2018 - 2020 - 2022, showing bright, floral tart plum, raspberry and wild strawberry aromas with citrus and earth. The palate is ripe and sappy with wild strawberry, plum skin, earth and spice. The finish is long with citrus and mineral flavors and a bit of tannin. Irresistible now, this should be very interesting after a few years in the cellar. Zero or minimal SO2. (Only a few cases are available)
The 2022 Tue-Boeuf "La Gravotte is a very pure, red-fruited Pinot Noir, with a bit of Gamay, that is unmistakably from the Loire and, more specifically, from the hands of Puzelat, who makes wines very naturally, using grapes of the highest quality and minimal sulfur. The nose offers very bright notes of sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry and earth. The palate is light but with great purity and sapid cherry and berry fruits with a beautiful refreshing finish, really a lovely wine!
La Caillère is a 1.35-hectare estate plot of 35-to40-year-old Pinot Noir vines planted on very deep clay over limestone. The argilo-silex soils are sandy and rocky and in fact the parcel takes its name from caillasse, meaning "hard rocks." Vinification begins as semi-carbonic for 10 to 14 days, then finishes traditionally after pressing followed by 10 to 12 months aging in demi-muids and old barriques. The 2022 shows very complex ripe cherry, red-currant, violet and earth aromas, quite pretty and with more ripeness than usual in this vintage. The palate is intense but light with fascinating black cherry, blood orange and spice flavors that linger with earthy acidity in the very long finish. This is an unususal and delicious Pinot that should develop well over the next 5 to 8 years. Minimal, or perhaps zero added SO2.
Le Petit Chemin means the "little path," of course a pun, to describe Benoit Courault's "baby Chenin," his Chenin from younger vines. In 2022 this is a very serious Chenin on schist, that could hold comparaison with quite a lot of top cuvées of the region. The younger vines of the domain are used for this wine, but they grow on beautiful, top decomposed schist soils in Faye d'Anjou. This is historically a world-class terroir for botrytis wines, and is becoming also a superb site for dry versions of Chenin. Hand-harvested, the grapes are whole-cluster pressed, then vinified in large foudre for 6 months before being bottled with no sulfur. Malo happens, but the acidity remains bracing! On the nose, the wine has a really enticing combination of smoky reduction and a touch of spicy oxidation with a lot of yellow plum, papaya and freesia, with a hint of apple pie. On the palate, the wine is dense but really focused, and certainly lingering. It becomes more savory, loosing the oxidative notes of the nose to become more reductive. Its backing bitterness - think pear skin - makes it even more salivating. Really a top Chenin for the price! Keep it 5 years without any problem, or enjoy it now in larger glasses.
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.
Hervé Villemade's 2022 Cheverny Blanc is a lovely and versatile wine, made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay grown on flinty sand and clay soils. The wine shows pretty aromas of pear, green apple, citrus peel, almond and stone with hints of white flowers. The palate is vibrant and fresh with good density, with white and yellow fruits, ripe citrus, a bit of anise and herbal flavors and is nicely balanced with firm acidity. This is a delicious and refreshing everyday white that will accompany most seafood dishes, chicken, white meats and goat cheeses. Very low SO2.