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Today's email features wines that really make us happy - produced from living soils in longtime organic and Biodynamic farming and natural vinifications with no additives. First up are new arrivals from Stephane Guion, whose vines have been certified organic since 1965...
We've been enjoying the superb Bourgueils of Stéphane Guion for almost 15 years. Domaine Guion was created by Stéphane's father in the 1950's and was certified organic beginning in 1965, and Stéphane is proud to announce that 2021 is his first year of conversion for Demeter Biodynamic certification. The estate's 8 hectares are all in Benais mostly on Turonien limestone with varied depths of clay topsoil. The parcels are just west of Domaine de la Chevalerie and Domaine Breton, in the northern sector of Benais, on slopes facing south and southwest, which is prime real estate for ageworthy, mineral-laden Bourgueils! Only 15% of the vines are on gravel topsoil (in "La Ruée") used primarily for the rosé and a small amount for the Cuvée Domaine.
Just arrived is the new 2019 Cuvée Authentique! The new Cuvée Authentique replaces the Cuvée Prestige (we're not sure why) coming from vines averaging 50 years-old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in the parcels "Grand Mont," "les Marquises," le Vlaudons," "le Maupas," "les Caveries," "Petit Mont" and "Chavannes," terroirs that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2019 was another hot, dry year in the Loire Valley, but light rains in September and early October brought balance to the grapes, producing wines that are ripe and generous, with firm acidities and moderate alcohol. Tasted in France last February the 2019 Authentique showed gorgeous aromas of red and black fruits with floral, earth and herbal notes, quite pretty and ripe. The palate showed deeper black fruits, earth, spice and stone with the intense mineral character and firm acidity always present in Stéphane's wines. 13% alcohol. This superb wine will benefit from a long decant or a few years in the cellar, enjoy until 2040.
Another new release from Stéphane is the 2021 Bourgueil Rosé! It's always rosé season at Chambers Street, especially for Stéphane Guion, as his rosés typically take a few years to soften and mature. The 2021 shows bright, vivid raspberry fruit and terrific length - it's very refreshing and a great food pairing as well!
The return of the Bete de Benais! The first release of Guion's Methode Traditionelle Rosé sold out quickly last spring - grab some for the holidays, 10 cases are available.
Philippe and Simon Tessier, Part Two!
Our first allocation from Philippe and Simon Tessier disappeared rapidly, but happily the importer was able to offer additional inventory, so after initially receiving only 6 bottles of some wines, we can now offer larger quantities. We're especially glad to offer 24 additional bottles of the three Cour-Chevernys - the Tessiers are justifiably proud of their work with Romorantin, both in preserving the vines and in producing these extraordinaly wines, both for current drinking and for cellaring.
While all the wines offered again today show fabulous texture, purity and elegance, we have to especially mention the 2022 Cheverny Rouge which developed beautifully after aeration - it's an outstanding and very elegant wine. And another nod to the 2022 Rosé which is just gorgeous in this vintage!
We have great respect for the work of the Tessier family and we really admire their minimal use of SO2 - and their complete transparency - with the complete technical data for each wine appearing on their website. Don't miss these beautiful wines!
One More Beautiful Bourgueil (and Bubbles)
We recently had the pleasure of sharng a bottle of the Domaine de la Chevalerie 2014 "Cuvée Breteche" with friends! What a fantastic and immensely pleasurable wine! While the maturity may very slightly from one bottle to the next, we can promise you an outstanding glass of Cabernet Franc that is really opening up and softening wonderfully. At the ridiculously low price, please consider buying a case to enjoy over the next ten years...
As at Domaine Guion and Domaine Tessier, the Caslot family at Chevalerie produces a superb range of honest and just plain delicious wines through Biodynamic farming and natural vinifications - and they just produced their first ever sparkling wine, the somewhat strangely named "Bulles de Fort." (It has somethng to do with petanque.*) Not for everyone perhaps, but this deeply colored sparkling Cabernet Franc is insanely delicous...to some people, anyway. Try it!
(*A traditional game of the Loire valley and especially the Anjou region, the « boule de fort » game is the only sport you play wearing slippers. It is unique in France and listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The rules are similar to petanque, but the conditions are totally different: the game is played indoors and in silence, on a curved field with asymmetric and lopsided boules. It’s really not easy to place a boule close to the “maître” (jack).) - thanks to Parc Naturel Regional Loire Anjou Touraine.
All wines discount 10% on a case or mixed case. Please allow until Tuesday 10/31 for pick-up/shipping, Wed 11/1 for delivery.
2019 brings us another superb wine from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. The new Cuvée Authentique replaces the Cuvée Prestige (we're not sure why?) coming from vines averaging 50 years-old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in the parcels "Grand Mont," "les Marquises," le Vlaudons," "le Maupas," "les Caveries," "Petit Mont" and "Chavannes," terroirs that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2019 was another hot, dry year in the Loire Valley, but light rains in September and early October brought balance to the grapes, producing wines that are ripe and generous, with firm acidities and moderate alcohol. Tasted in France last February the 2019 Authentique showed gorgeous aromas of red and black fruits with floral, earth and herbal notes, quite pretty and ripe. The palate showed deeper black fruits, earth, spice and stone with the intense mineral character and firm acidity always present in Stephane's wines, with a moderate 13% alcohol, and a fabulous cool and sapid mineral finish. This superb wine will benefit from a long decant or a few years in the cellar, it should open up beautifully in five years or so, enjoy until 2040+ David Lillie
(10 cases left of the 2018 Prestige) 2018 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 45 years old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in Benais, a terroir that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2018 is a great vintage for Loire reds, despite the very warm and humid spring that brought attacks of mildew. The summer was perfect, warm and dry, without spikes of heat, and the soils retained enough moisture to bring freshness to the very ripe grapes. Tasted with Stéphane in February 2020, the 2018 Prestige showed elegant intensely perfumed aromas of red and black fruit liqueurs. The palate was complex and earthy, very calcaire, dense but not heavy with beautifully supple ripe red and black fruits, with a long finish of saline and mineral flavors quite present below the sappy fruit. We look forward to a more thorough tasting after the wine rests from its voyage, but it's quite clear that this will be delicious to drink as a young wine, and - although it may seem crazy to cellar a $17 wine for 20 years - those that do will be rewarded with a unique expression of this great terroir. I'm hoping to live to be 100 to have that experience myself! David Lillie (2010 Prestige 10/28/23 - Red/black color with red rim; aromas of crushed berries, red currant, earth, minerals; palate sapid, dense, black fruits and soil, firm acidity, terrific length of fruit/mineral/acid...)
From 70-80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2018 is a magnificent vintage for this wine! Tasted July 2022, the wine showed a deep red/black color and lush aromas of ripe cassis and black raspberry with hints of brown spice and oak. The palate is a lovely combination of ripe black fruits and bright acidity, dense and supple with graphite and saline minerals under the deep fruits in the very long finish. Forward enough to enjoy now, this will need time to unfold its mysteries and will be a very complex and beautiful mature wine, best to wait 5 years then drink until 2042 and beyond.
This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stéphane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2020 Cuvèe Candide (Formerly Domaine) is from not-so-young (15 to 40 year-old) vines, on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is equal to the superb 2018 and 2019 perhaps even better! The balance is just perfect at 12% alcohol. The wine shows a deep, vivid black/red color with bright rim with intense, pure aromas of cassis, black raspberry and blackberry confit (a little bighter than the 2019), stone and violets - very deep and ripe but still bright with earth and minerals as well. The palate is medium-bodied, finely textured, sappy and very fresh with firm acidity and chalky, saline mineral flavors framing the very pure blackberry and black cherry liqueur fruits, which continue in the long chalky finish, which somehow remains light and balanced. Great wine! Drink now, served cool, with grilled chicken and pork, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses, or hold 5 to 8 years for a velvety mature experience. This is a brilliant wine, especially given the ridiculous price - enjoy! David Lillie
The 2021 Guion Bourgueil Rosé shows plenty of minerality, with stone fruit, a hint of spring strawberries (think more tart, less fruity), tangerine, and spice. This is a very complex dry rosé, showing earthy red fruits and stone flavors that are still developing in its second year. Really tastes of the limestone terroir and the Guion's 50 years of organic farming, with a long finish and ample acidity and freshness. Thanks to Stéphane for another great vintage of his super-refreshing Rosé!
Stéphane has made his first ever methode traditionnelle sparking rosé from Cabernet Franc vines in a new parcel on clay/limestone soils in Benais. We can't say that it's equal to the Marie-Courtin "Indulgence," but it's a delightful wine! The color is a pretty very pale pink with subtle aromas of raspberry and earth; the palate is refreshing and dry, but not too dry, with a creamy mousse and classic Cabernet Franc berry fruit and mineral flavors that linger in the finish. $15.99! (The label commemorates (?) a monstrous wolf or wolves who attacked hundreds of people around the village of Benais in Bourgueil in 1693, if we believe the folk-tale. Google "La Bête de Benais" for many accounts in French and English)
The 2021 Tessier Cour-Cheverny is 100% Romorantin from vines grown on sandy clay soils over limestone. The wine goes through the malo and is vinified and aged in vats. This is a beautiful Cour-Cheverny showing the leaner profile of the 2021 vintage, with less ripeness than the 2020, with lower alcohol and a more mineral and bright citrus profile. The wine shows distinctive aromas of pear and citrus fruit, lime-flower, toasted almond and hints of spice, really quite lovely. The palate is scintillating and dry with citrus, pear, herbal, stone and nut flavors, with nice ripeness and density and firm refreshing acidity. The finish is very long, with mineral, citrus and pear flavors that linger on the palate. Perfect as an aperitif or serve with full-flavored fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods, and especially with mild cheeses like Morbier or Raclette, or goat cheeses from the Loire. This will be very interesting with 2 to 4 years of cellaring as well. Lovely wine and a great value! 12.5% alc, 0.54 g/l RS, 37 mg/l total SO2.
We're happy to have "les Sables" back in stock, even if it's only a few bottles! This beautiful, rich but dry Romorantin from Tessier is from 25 to 40 year-old vines on sandy clay soils with silex. The wine ages 10 months in tronconic wooden vats and 5 months in cement and was bottled with minimal SO2. This is a rare and beautiful wine, quite concentrated and incredibly vibrant, with lower alcohol and higher acidity in the very difficult 2021 vintage which gave disastrous yields. The nose is complex, with a lot of pear drops, lime zest, wild flower honey, almond and stone. It is in fact quite aromatic for a Romorantin. On the palate, there is a lot happening, mostly mineral, herbal and citrus flavors and the tangy, acidity has such a backbone. It is really lifted for such a dense wine. Get creative, as this unique wine is a great food pairing for a full-flavered fish or shellfish preparation, or with rabbit and other white meats. We have 6 bottles!? Best to hold for 3 - 5 years. (12.5% alc, 0.54 gr/l RS, 8 mg/l SO2.)
La Porte Dorée - the Golden Gate - is without a doubt one of the best expressions of dry Romorantin with Hervé Villemade's Les Acacias. This cuvée comes for 80% from a specific vineyard called "Porte Dorée" : there is more clay, the soil is cooler, the limestone is closer. The oldest vines are 60 years old. Because of the late ripeness of this plot, and its concentration, it is always aged in barrels to tame the powerful acidity and help with the aromatic development. The 2020 "Porte Dorée" is superb, powerful and dry, with firm acidity, showing complex aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, white pepper, almond. The palate shows ripe pear, quince, citrus, almond and intense mineral flavors that coat the mouth and are very dense and long. This is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or 3 to 10 years of cellaring. 14.5% alcohol, 1.46 gr/L RS, 17 gr/L SO2.
Tessier's 2021 "Le Point du Jour" is a beautiful expression of Cheverny, a blend of 20% Gamay and 80% Pinot Noir from the oldest vines of the estate planted on two types of terroir, clay and sand and sandy clay over limestone. Hand-harvested, the grapes are vinified in 80% whole-cluster, macerated for 2 weeks or so before being aged in a mix of barrels, demi-muids and foudres. Aging was longer this year, the wine was blended in January and bottled in July, unfiltered with minimal sulfur dioxide. With yields of only 15 hl/ha in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage, the wine is light and low in alcohol (12%) and bone-dry, really bright and pretty, showing tart cherry with wild strawberry and pomegranate, hints of cinnamon and almond, and refreshing acidity. Serve cool, enjoy over the next five years.
Toc is a pun for Côt, one of the single-variety cuvées made by Simon and Philippe Tessier in their organic estate of Sologne. Côt, or Malbec, is one of the grapes authorised in the Cheverny AOC but as the appellation has to be a blend, the wine is declassified in Vin de France - one of the meanings of Toc in French is "fake stuff." Vinified like all the other reds in semi-carbonic maceration for 15 days or so, then aged in 500 liter barrique for 8 months, this bottling has a juicy, plush texture balancing really well the natural high acid spine of the variety. Dark purple - the usual colour of Malbec - the 2022 has a lovely bouquet of violet, blueberry, blackberry liqueur, dried thyme and a pinch of funk. On the palate, the attack is lush and bright, with blackberry and cherry fruit, then the vibrant acidity appears, and plays with the gentle tannins, finishing with terrific length of ripe, chalky fruit. Despite this ripeness it is not heavy at all, but quite refreshing and lively so serve quite cool. Delicious wine and highly recommended. Probably best if opened the day before and re-corked.
This will disappeaar quickly on your table for Thanksgiving! Philippe and now Simon Tessier are making really delicious wines from their organic vineyards in Sologne. Under the Cheverny AOC, they make white and red, but also rosé : the sandy clay soil as well as the grapes (2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Gamay) are perfectly suited for the style. Of course, don't expect a boring, insipid, pale salmon whitish rosé. There is always some serious depth and length in their wine! With the 2022 as in 2020 and 2019, you have on top more texture and power than usual: the warm summer led to ripe, concentrated berries. - the wine is ripe but bone-dry at 13.5% alc, under .5 gr/L RS. This bottling is more aromatic than usual, with notes of dried rose, pink grapefruit and pomegranate. The attack is creamy and rich, but the wine quickly balances out the alcohol but a really nice bitter edge of pomelo, and the acidity kicks in at the end. It is the type of rosé that can pair really with pretty much anything, and that will have the texture you want when the days will start to be chilly. Serve it in a white wine glass and pair it with what you be pleased to cook, be it some fried squids with spicy aioli, a chana masala or any kind of cheese. (16 gr/L total SO2 - what a pleasure to enjoy a pure and delicious rosé with almost no sulfur!)
(In the fall of 2023, this wine is really singing and will be wonderful for Thanksgiving!) Bretêche (Domaine de la Chevalerie is the only estate claiming this vineyard name) is the easternmost vineyard, a rented plot on the border of Ingrandes-de-Touraine. On the southwestern exposed upper part of the mid-slope, the vines are planted on a meter-deep heavier clay with high mica content above the Turonian yellow tuffeau. The vines, biodynamically farmed, are between 25 to 55 years old. More powerful than Busardières with broader tannins, the wine maintains a great freshness. Hand-harvested and destemmed, the grapes are macerated for up to 20 days and aged in large used barrels in the magnificent underground cave dug into the yellow tuffeau for roughly 8 to 10 moths. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. 2014 is considered a great classic vintage in the Loire for Cabernet Franc, and it is indeed very good at Domaine de la Chevalerie, with fruit a little darker than the 2015 (this opposite to a lot of other estates in the region). Ruby purple in the glass this cuvée as usual has more freshness, tension and a little austerity - 2014 enhances these typical quality of the wine! More open than the 2015, the nose has distinctive black cherry, elderberry notes, Chinese badiane and spearmint. The palate is still deliciously youthful barely showing any evolution, with lean and brilliant acidity, and oolong-like tannins. It is already very-well structured and poised, not angular at all. Decant it 2 hours and serve it in Bordeaux glasses, or keep it 20 years or so - I would say it will reach another plateau by 2025. Enjoy it with a duck magret, the juice reduced with a touch of raspberry vinegar, or sweetbreads in a madeira sauce. 100% Cabernet Franc. Pascaline Lepeltier
The brand new Domaine de la Chevalerie "Bulle de Fort" is a direct press rosé Petillant Naturel, 100% Cabernet Franc and just incredibly delicious!! Warning, this is not a wimpy pale pink rosé - it shows a deep cherry-red color and a ripe full-bodied palate with beautiful deep red currant/raspberry fruit, a real wine of terroir with bubbles! Really quite sensational, can't wait to bring some home. This will accompany the entire Thanksgiving meal...
The Chevalerie "Galichets" vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoil, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age - similar to the "Chevalerie" parcel but a bit lower on the slope, giving a wine that is more open and easy for early drinking. The 2015 vintage is excellent, with a bit more ripeness and lower acidity than 2014, while retaining the core of minerals and acidity always found in the Chevalerie wines. The aromas of black raspberry and blackberry fruit are ripe and floral. The palate is dense and silky, very mineral with ripe red and black fruits and a clean vibrant finish. Still quite youthful, but drinking beautifully now. David Lillie
(Arrives 5/9) Peu Muleau is located on the upper part of the hill in Bourgueil, just below the forest, on Cenozoic eolian sands with iron, clay and altered limestone tuffeau. The vines are around 35 years old, and farmed biodynamically. The maceration lasts less than 20 days. Aging is done in a mix of tank and large used barrels with less and less oak. This is the earliest drinking single-vineyard cuvée, always on the raspberry and wild violet with very supple tannins, but you can keep it up to 10 years without a problem. Peu Muleau is always more linear than Les Galichets - it does not have the same clay-gravel flesh, dancing on its feet with great elegance. The 2015 shows a bright red color and aromas that are more earth than fruit with subtle raspberry, strawberry, citrus and spice. The palate is a lovely blend of earth and red fruits, fairly tight but quite elegant with firm acidity and mineral flavors blending with raspberry and violet in the finish. Warning - not a fruit bomb and best suited to those who like some rocks in their wine. Best to decant or cellar 3 - 5 years. David Lillie
(We tasted this wine over 4 days - recorked, in the fridge - it got better and better gaining density and complexity - beautiful wine!) The delicious 2022 Tessier Chevery Rouge is from 15 to 40 year-old vines of 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Gamay and 5% Cot grown in sandy clay soils. Wild yeasts, of course, and aging in old barrels with minimal or zero SO2 added, bottled unfiltered. A bit more Pinot Noir than usual in 2022. The yields were surprisingly good in 2022, but the fruit achieved perfect ripeness in this excellent vintage for Loire reds, showing deep cherry and raspberry with plum, rose, citrus and brown spice. The palate is round, velvety, ripe and vibrantly refreshing with chalky spiced berry fruits, plum skin and mineral flavors, ending with sappy red fruits and bright acidity. Serve quite cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and a wide variety of cheeses. Just delicious! (20 mg/L total SO2, 12.69% alc.)
The 2022 "Chemin Noir" is 100% massale selection Pineau d'Aunis (aka Chenin Noir, even though the two grapes are not related). Semi-carbonic fermentation for two weeks or so, then aging in older barrels. In the glass, the wine is a lovely deep cranberry in color. On the nose, there are high-toned floral scents of wild red berries and crisp pomegranate seeds, snappy dark citrus, with a whisper of black pepper. On the palate, bright and juicy cranberry, strawberry, and lean cherry hug a core of enticing minerality. The structure is incredibly refreshing, with great acid and just a touch of tannin - a light grip down the tongue. The finish is a delicious, full of energy, with an ounce of clean, bitter herb. This wine is dangerously drinkable. 12% alc, 0 RS, 26 mg/L SO2.