Eric and Clement Nicolas of Domaine Bellivière

Champions of Chenin: Domaine Bellivière, Domaine Vincent Carême, Domaine Pinon!

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Some truly exciting Chenin Blanc's have just arrived, from established domains that practice impecccable Biodynamic and organic farming and natural vinifications, creating white wines at the highest levels of quality from superb limestone/clay/silex terroirs. These are indeed three of the world's greatest producers of Chenin Blanc!

Domaine Bellivière  Eric and Christine Nicolas, wih their son Clement, make some of the worlds most elegant Chenin Blancs on their 14 hectares, scattered over 65 parcels within 6 villages, on hillsides of clay over limestone in the cool climates of Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loir north of Tours. They use sélection massale vines rather than clones, and plant at a density of 9,300 vines per hectare. Though organic from the start, the Nicolas came to be firm believers in biodynamic viticulture and have been certified since 2011. Fermentations are always done with native yeasts, and often they will not finish all of the grapes' sugars. The Nicolas have chosen to embrace this reality, letting the vintage decide how dry each cuvée will be. Occasionally the wines can be demi-sec, but more often they are off-dry, with perceptible sugars that integrate seamlessly and add complexity.

Belliviere vines in Janieres

The incredibly delicious Bellivière 2022 Jasnières Prémices has just arrived!

"Prémices" is a selection of the most fruit-forward barrels and is the first release in any given vintage. The fruit comes from vines ranging from 10-40 years old, planted on variations of flinty clay soils over tuffeau (soft limestone).  The wine ferments with native yeasts and minimal sulfur, then ages in barrel for about a year. There is usually residual sugar, as fermentation is never pushed and stops short of dryness in this cool cellar and clime. The 2022 Prémices finished at a sec-tendre level of sweetness with 10 grams/liter of residual sugar (and 3.82 grams/liter of acidity).  Here is the domain's description: 2022, finally a vintage that rewards all our efforts! The vines developed peacefully in weather very favorable for the flowering. Good management of the cover crops and good aeration of the soil the previous fall and in the spring permitted the vines to flourish even in the heat and dryness of the summer. Thus we obtained an ample harvest of beautiful grapes." Indeed, the wine is simply beautiful! Grab a case or two of this gorgeous wine, to drink over the next 8 to 10 years...

The 2021 Jasnières "Les Rosiers" and Coteaux du Loir "L'Effraie" The cool, low yielding 2021 vintage produced wines that are lighter and brighter, with firm acidities and great terroir expression. The 2021 L'Effraie finished dry and is "absolutely enchanting" says Wine Doctor, while the Jasnières "Les Rosiers" finished at 21 grams of RS per liter - sec tendre or demi-sec in style - beautiful as always and a great pairing for richer seafood and white meat dishes.

Domaine Vincent Carême

Vincent Careme

Vincent Carême grew up among the vines of Vouvray, but spent many years working in other regions and in South Africa before returning to the family's 5 hectares in 1999.  The farming was converted to orgainic in 2002 and Vincent added important new vineyards, bringing the total to the current 17 hectares. the most prized possessions are three vineyards on the premiere cote, principally the beautiful "Le Clos" on a steep slope in Vernou with shallow clay soils over the Turonian limestone, "Clos de la Roche Vouvray," adjacent to "Le Clos" and "Le Peu Morier."

The 2021 Carême Vouvray "Le Clos" is a brilliant dry Chenin from this difficult vintage, showing firm acidity under vibrant fruit and superb saline mineral flavors. The wine is beautiful now but best to wait 10 years for a more mature expression, drink until 2040 and beyond...

Vincent makes an excellent Vouvray Brut, in the Champagne method, but his most serious sparking wine is the L'Ancestrale - an elegant Pet Nat (methode ancestrale) that receives zero dosage, derived from a single block of 50-year-old trellised bush vines. While ordering the 2021 "Le Clos" last week, we were astonished to find a few cases of the brilliant 2014 Vouvray L'Ancestrale!! Needless to say, we are thrilled offer this superb sparkling Chenin, and of course we will drink a few ourselves. 3 bottle maximum please, so that more Chenin lovers can experience this lovely wine...

Despite making some of the finest wines of the Loire Valley, Vincent, who is not one for self-promotion, remains somewhat under the radar. So we feel it's appropriate to offer this assessment of his work from Chris Kissack aka The Wine Doctor:  "It is not an exaggeration to suggest that Vincent is the heart and head of a new Vouvray revolution. (His wines) are no longer just great examples of Chenin Blanc, but should be considered as great wines against any competition, from Burgundy, Bordeaux or beyond."  (A subscription to thewinedoctor is highly recommended!)

2022 Pinon Vouvray "Buvez du Bon Pinon"

Original label from the 1950s

Also just arrived at Chambers Street is the second bottling of Julien Pinon's brilliant Vouvray "Buvez du Bon Pinon!" 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.'  Aging potential of 15 to 20 years, serve with shellfish, oysters, cold fish, vegetable terrines, choucroute de la mer, rillettes and rillons." 2022: 13.2% alcohol, 1 gr/liter RS (totally dry!), 4.8 gr/liter total acidity. The 2020 "Bon Pinon" is a great Vouvray, but one that needs more time to reveal its mysteries. The 2022, on the other hand, shows the more forward fruit character of the vintage, with bright acidity,. and will provide more enjoyable, food-friendly drinking from the start. In other words - stock-up!!

And to accompany the beautiful Careme L"Ancestrale, why not add a few bottles of the extraordinary Vouvray Brut 2019 and Brut Non-Dosé 2018 made by Julien Pinon and his father? These are equally superb examples of sparkling Chenin that compare favorably to Champagnes at twice the price! And don't forget the amazing 2018 Goutte D'Or and Frizzanté!!

Wines will be available for pick-up and shipping on Friday, March 22. Mix a case for a 10% discount!

Bellivière 2021 Coteaux du Loir L'Effraie

 "L'Effraie" is from Bellivière's younger Coteaux du Loir vines, across 11 parcels totaling 3.5 hectares. These gobelet-pruned, 10-30 year-old vines are planted on flinty, sandy clay soils over tuffeau (soft limestone), are certified-biodynamic  "This young vines cuvée opens with a nose of crystalline mirabelle and rose petals; it is absolutely enchanting. The palate presents a supple and lightly grained texture, dainty and light-footed, with a core of delicately spiced white peach dusted with a sprinkling of cinnamon powder. This is charming, the residual sugar is 3 g/l  (sec) and the alcohol on the label 13%." Wine Doctor  Flashing an almost neon chartreuse yellow green hue , the nose is electric with minerality, herbaceousness and green mirabelle/pear. Electric acidity on the palate with more cool minerality underscored by green fruit paired with a silky body belies it's 13% abv from a very cool vintage in a cooler Loire subregion. Effraie means scary which I guess, given it's tone in 2021, is aptly named for it's ghostlike greenish profile! GH

  • white
  • 3 in stock
  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Pinon 2022 Vouvray Buvez du Bon Pinon

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." 2022: 13.2% alcohol, 1 gr/liter RS (totally dry!), 4.8 gr/liter total acidity.

  • white
  • 23 in stock
  • $31.99

  • Organic

Pinon, François & Julien 2019 Vouvray Brut

This classic dry Chenin is the perfect sparkling wine for Thanksgiving! 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...)

  • white sparkling
  • 8 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic

Pinon, François & Julien 2018 Vouvray Brut Non-Dosé

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

  • white sparkling
  • 16 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic

Pinon, François 2018 Vouvray Goutte d'Or 750ml

"Goutte d'or 2018, Raisins séchés par le vent et le soleil" The grapes were harvested in one pass on October 26th in the "L'Arpent" parcel of 55 year-old vines on clay over lower turonian limestone, facing south-west, with yields of 15 hl/ha. "We have been able to make this cuvee only three tines in our history," says Julien, "in 1989, 1990 and 2018. It requires extreme weather conditions which make it exceptional." The fermentation lasted from the end of October to the begnning of January, with only wild yeasts "which participate in the expression of terroir." Two hundred 750 ml bottles were produced, there will be another release in 500 ml. (123 grams per liter residual sugar, 11.8% alcohol.)

  • white sweet
  • 10 in stock
  • $83.99

  • Organic

Pinon, François 2018 Vouvray Frizzante 500ml

This is a unique and very unusual sweet Vouvray, as descibed by Chris Kissack in The Wine Doctor: "Poured from a 50cl bottle, this presents a modest golden hue, it not yet having taken on the rich patina of age. The nose is gloriously fresh yet clearly richly concentrated, with layers of pressed apple, sweet peach and redcurrants, with light veins of black tea leaf, herbal tea and smoke, some of which suggest a healthy botrytis infection. While the nose speaks softly of freshness, the palate drives this home with a fresh and forceful conviction. Here it marries sweet peach and confit apple with a vivacious streak of acidity which gives this a brilliant sense of energy. Of course, the question you are asking is this; is it sparkling? No, not really. There is just a faint prickle of carbon dioxide to it, the subtle not-quite-pétillance you find if you taste a young wine at the end of the malolactic fermentation, and as a consequence I think Frizzante is a good choice of name for this cuvée (you certainly would not call it pétillant or mousseux). This little prickle works rather well, alongside the acidity, it balancing the wine’s dense and concentrated sweetness, which dances in a light-footed style across the palate, leading to a long and confident finish. All in all, this is a quite remarkable wine. Curious, but remarkable all the same. And a recommendation from me. The alcohol on the label 13.5%"

  • white sweet
  • 5 in stock
  • $54.99

  • Organic
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Bellivière 2022 Jasnières Prémices

The Belliviere Jasnieres "Prémices" is a selection of the most fruit-forward barrels and is the first release in any given vintage. The fruit comes from vines ranging from 10-40 years old, planted on variations on flinty clay soils over tuffeau (soft limestone). . The bunches are direct-pressed into tank, where the juice settles overnight; it is moved by gravity into barrel, where it ferments with native yeasts and minimal sulfur. The wine ages in barrel for about a year. There is usually residual sugar, as fermentation is never pushed and stops short of dryness in this cool cellar and climat. The 2022 Prémices finished at a sec-tendre level of sweetness with 10 grams/liter of residual sugar (and 3.82 grams/liter of acidity). The wine shows a lovely gold color and beautifully ripe aromas of quince, lemon verbena, lime-flower and stone. The palate is elegant, round and silky with  citrus, white fruit, chamomille, chalk and mineral flavors, perfectly balanced, with the RS blending with the firm acidity. Just a beautiful wine. This wonderfully affirms the style of demi-sec or sec-tendre Chenin on limestone/clay soils, which many growers feel is the perfect expression of grape and terroir. Enjoy immensely over the next 8 to 10 years.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $28.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Bellivière 2021 Jasnières Les Rosiers

The Nicolas have been crafted unique, chiseled Chenins from the terroirs of silex, sand clay over tuffeau in the little valley of the Loir, 40 miles north of the more famous Loire with "e",  Within a couple of miles, they grow this grape over 2 appellations and 10 different variations of soils, leading to multiple cuvées. Les Rosiers is made from multiple plots of 50 year-old vines in Jasnières. It is always one of the broadest Chenins they produce due to the terroir. In 2021, a concentrated vintage, with very low yields and firm acidity, the wine has more residual sugar than usual (21 g/l, technically a little more than off-dry) but you don't really feel it with the good amount of acidity. The nose is typical for the region, with this mix of quince, crabapple,  petrichor and dried chamomile. If you cellar the wine, the feeling of sweetness will decrease over the years  If the attack enhances the fruit, the finish is more herbal, with hints of gentiane and some smokiness. Open it now, serve it in medium size glassware, and pair it with poached lobster!!

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $39.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Carême, Vincent 2014 Vouvray Ancestrale

Vincent Carême's L’Ancestrale is an elegant sparkling wine that receives zero dosage, derived from a single block of 50-year-old trellised bush vines.  Bunches are small which results in low yields. The thin topsoil consists mainly of clay and flint over the limestone bedrock. Vincent takes this Petillant Naturel very seriously - it's a brilliant, age-worthy Chenin Blanc from a great vintage for Loire Valley whites, possessing vibrant fuit and firm acidity making it suoerb now and a good candidate for further aging.   "The wine is made using the méthode ancestrale, where the bottling interrupts the first (and only) fermentation so that there is continued carbon dioxide production in bottle, delivering the iconic pétillant style that the appellation is justly famous for. The residual sugar in the cuvée has varied a little, although in every vintage since 2012 the style has been dry. The 2014 shows a delightfully fresh, pale straw-gold hue with a plentiful and very fine bead. The nose is no less delightful than the wine’s appearance, with delicate but confident scents of dried peach slices, apricot stone and citrus zest, with touches of honey and elderflower, white peonies and subtle vanilla flowers, while the stronger vanillin elements expressed in its youth (in some bottles, at least) has certainly faded. The palate is just superb, a delicate blend of citrus fruits, floral elements, chalky minerals which seem to take on more energy with air, and a very precise frame of acidity, so beautifully composed, elegant and complete. There is a little twist of that vanillin note here, delicately intertwined around a delicate thread of toasty hazelnut, and it is long and bright. A brilliant example of the méthode ancestrale style in Vouvray." Wine Doctor tasted in 2021 (3 bottle max please)

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • $34.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur

Carême 2021 Vouvray Le Clos

The 2021 "Le Clos" from Vincent Careme is from a great "premiere cote" vineyard of very thin clay soils over the turonian limestone.  This is one of the best wines of Vouvray - it was brilliant as a demi-sec in 2008 and 2010 and the dry 2021 is equally beautiful, showing lovely aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really pretty! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with a wide variety of elegant cuisines -  or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience.

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $35.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur