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I first met Céline Tripoz this past January at a tasting in Angers. A few months later, I received an email from her asking for help finding her daughter a place to stay when she came to visit New York. I was happy that she had remembered our short conversation at the massive Salon des Vins de Loire, where she probably had spoken with hundreds of other people just like me, and also that I was actually able to arrange something once her daughter arrived later that month. From there the email chain drifted into a thread about the frosts and devastating hailstorms that pummeled many areas of Burgundy this spring, the work that we do here at Chambers Street, and life in general. It was great to catch up, and felt less like two professional people talking solely about wine (which in this line of work happens very frequently), and more like chatting with a friend, albeit a friend who happens to make some of the best wine in the Mâconnais.
Céline and her husband, Laurent, started their estate in 1986 by acquiring vines in and around the small village of Loché, where their home and cellar are located. At first they were selling grapes to the local coop, but quickly decided that they could produce higher quality wines from their fruit, and so they released their first vintage in 1990. All of their 11.5 hectares of vines are planted in clay soils rich with limestone and have been farmed organically and biodynamically since the late 1990s (they are certified by Agriculture Biologique and Demeter); some of the newer parcels have never been treated with herbicides or pesticides at all. As you can imagine, this means meticulous work in the vines with severe pruning, de-budding, and leaf pulling to achieve concentrated, healthy fruit that will be harvested at optimum maturity. In the cellar, Céline and Laurent believe that working the natural way is crucial to obtaining the maximum amount of quality from terroir that they see as being less prestigious than parts of Burgundy further north meaning that all fermentations occur naturally with the only addition being a touch of SO2 for some cuvées.
These wines are consistently some of the most thoughtful, pure, and precise wines to come out of the Mâconnais, and they rarely stay around for long. Now knowing them a bit more personally, this is no doubt a reflection of Céline and Laurent, whose passion and dedication to their land is apparent in each bottle. My notes on these wines from January certainly affirm that. With all of this in mind, I know I’ll be stocking up on quite a few of these. Tim Gagnon
****Stop by the store this Friday, September 9th, from 5-7pm to taste these fantastic wines!
Also made from 100% Chardonnay with zero dosage, this wine spends a full 27 months on the lees before disgorgement. The result is a broad and powerful wine with tropical fruit, green apple, pineapple stalk, orange peel, and a hint of spearmint and lime blossom on the nose. The palate is rich and lush with mango, mandarin orange, and a hint of spicy green walnut coming forward, balanced by a dense mineral core. In fact, it actually reminds me of some of my favorite Champagnes (but for half the price). Céline and Laurent don’t make much of this wine and we are thrilled to have it in magnum size! An elegant but no-fuss wine that should always have a place on your dinner table or at your New Year's Eve party, it would pair well with creamy poultry dishes, whole-roasted fish, or soft, tangy cheeses. Tim Gagnon
This wine is pure and simple in the best possible way. Fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel, it has all of the spunk and racy acidity that I love about Aligoté. It is crisp, bright, and intensely mineral with hints of lime zest, sea breeze, and white flower. With time open, it softens a bit, revealing hints of mandarin orange and traces of honeydew melon but it maintains a persistent minerality. In short, a fantastic wine. Tim Gagnon
As far as village-level wines from the Mâconnais go, this is by far one of the most complex that I have tasted. It is made from Chardonnay that is fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel tanks to showcase purity and terroir. It is bright and mineral-laden, showing pretty aromas of orchard fruit, fresh cream, and lime blossom. With a pleasant roundness on the palate, it shows the balance and richness that seem to typify the 2014 vintage. It finishes long with saline minerals and delicate hints of green apple skin. Tim Gagnon
Sourced from a single parcel of old vines within the village, this is the only Mâcon Loché wine that sees elévage in neutral wood barrels yielding a deep and profound wine that certainly has the potential to age longer than the “basic” cuvée. Exotic tropical fruit, citrus, marshmallow, and pine needle abound on the nose; it is concentrated and decadent without going overboard. The palate is rich, textured, and mineral-driven with toasted walnut, tangerine peel, and baked Granny Smith apple. There is also a saline quality that seems to build on the finish. Decant if drinking now, this should be singing in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
A lovely natural wine made from 100% Gamay grown in clay soils with broken down limestone. This wine satisfies my cravings for that lean and mineral style of Gamay, but with an additional layer of high-toned red berry fruit and a hint of brown spice. The palate is soft and plummy – a really great mouthfeel – with more red berry fruits, a touch of resin, and great length. This wine has enough substance to pair with heartier foods, but would also be a great companion with Asian foods as well. Serve slightly chilled. Tim Gagnon