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2018 has brought us new arrivals from some of our favorite domains in France - estates that practice beautiful organic farming and natural vinifications, producing distinctive and delicious wines of terroir at very reasonable prices. All these wines offer sensational value and crowd pleasing quality so stock up for everyday enjoyment and vinous get-togethers through the winter!
Domaine Eric Laguerre is one of the finest estates in the Roussillon, with high-altitude mountain vineyards producing superb wines of terroir. A visit to Eric in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet requires steep climbs through a mountain pass up to the highest vineyards in the Roussillon. Here the granite soils, cooler climate, very low yields and Eric's superb organic farming produce distinctive, balanced wines with bright fruit and firm acidities. Eric's 2015 "Le Ciste Blanc" is a unique blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu, and is one of the most interesting whites of southern France.
Domaine du Fresche in La Pommeraye (Anjou) has been in the Bore family for six generations. Alain Bore took over from his parents in 1989 and converted the estate to organic farming beginning in 2000. Yields here are kept quite low and picking is done by hand with many passes through the vines seeking optimum ripeness. Their 2016 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is a particularly great value, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, dried pear, stone and honeyed citrus and minerals that continue in the long finish.
Véronique and Philippe Grenier at Domaine des Amphores are located on the hillsides of Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, where they produce Saint-Joseph red and white, a lovely Condrieu and delicious Vins de Pays that are sensational values. Organic since their beginning in 1992, they now practice biodynamic farming as well. During our recent visit, Philippe took great pride in showing us the vines and discussing their health and vigor and the benefits of biodynamic farming for their wines. Although the reds here are supple and delicious, it is the whites perhaps that stand out, grown on granite terroirs in and around Condrieu. Their 2014 Condrieu "La Cote," 2015 Saint-Joseph Blanc "Altitude 300" and the 2015 Vins de Pays "les Iris" (Viognier) and "Detour" (Roussanne, Marsanne and Clairette) are all simply delicious and deserve your attention.
Emmanuel and Marie-Agnès Barou, currently have about 3 hectares in Saint-Joseph, 1 hectare in Condrieu and 6 hectares of Vin de Pays in Charnas from which they produce elegant, unforced traditional wines - along with delicious organic cherries and apricots. Their farming is exemplary, using their own compost, keeping the soil covered, plowing as little as possible and avoiding even the organic treatments against mildew, as they can harm soil fauna. The Saint-Joseph parcels are in Limony, on de-composed granite, and Charnas, on stone covered firm granite. The Condrieu vineyard is on a steep south-facing granite slope with clay soil. Everything here is highly recommended, but for lovers of full-flavored whites, the 2016 Collines Rhodaniennes Marsanne is absolutely sensational, and for an everyday Syrah, the 2016 Cuvée des Vernes is fabulous!
We're very happy to have a new shipment from Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carle at le Jonc Blanc in Bergerac. The estate is located about 15 miles east of Saint-Emilion on a unique outcropping of limestones with shallow topsoils. The reds are made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot grown on the shallow calcaire soils, while Sauvignon Blanc and Semilon for the whites are grown on slightly deeper, cooler soils. The estate is certified organic and biodynamic and does fantastic vineyard work, including grains planted between the vines and flowering bushes throughout for a diverse flora and fauna. Their natural work continues in the cellar with wild yeast fermentations, zero or minimal added sulfur and aging in cuve inox or foudres by Taransaud or Stockinger. Franck and Isabelle are creating beautiful natural wines that have become enormous favorites of the Chambers Street staff - we urge you to try these delicious, soulful wines that offer extraordinary quality and value.
2016 is a great vintage for Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc! From 30% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, very crisp and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and will be very refreshing by itself on a warm summer day. DL
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec by Julien Libert at Combel-la-Serre, this comes from a limestone parcel with 35 year-old vines. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster and the wine is aged in cement.The 2016 Pur Fruit du Causse is just that, beautiful supple pure fruit - the color is quite dark and coats the glass, showing deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, quite bright and fresh, with hints of stone and earth. The palate is lush with blackberry and black cherry liqueur, lifted by cool acidity, really delicious! The finish is bright and refreshing making this a great match for charcuterie and grilled meats, chicken and mild cheeses - and lovely to slurp by itself, served quite cool! Bravo to Julien Libert for this juicy, fresh and delightful wine!
Since its inception in 1992, Philippe and Véronique Grenier have practiced organic farming on their tiny estate in Chavanay, in the AOC Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. Their 2015 "Altitude 300" is a beautiful white Saint-Joseph made from 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne. The lovely aromas show the Roussanne, with hay, stone, pear, almond, brown spice and lime-flower. The palate is ripe, round and balanced showing stone, peach, apricot, citrus and dried herbs — really pretty, with saline acidity and white fruits lingering in the finish. This is an outstanding northern Rhone white to drink over the next 5 to 8 years and a superb value!
"Detour" is made from a blend of Roussane, Marsanne and Clairette from the Northern Rhone. The aromas are layered with white peach, nectarine and a hint of baking spice. The palate is supple and round with ample flavors of peach skin, ripe apricot, and zesty citrus balanced by a wonderful brightness and mineral quality from the Clairette. This wine was still delicious after being open for three days - not that we expect there to be too many half-finished bottles this vintage! Amanda Bowman
"Les Iris" is made from organically tended Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC. The 2015 is elegant and balanced with a powerful minerality. Pale lemon in the glass, the nose offers opulent aromas of peaches, nutmeg, and cut lime flowers. Creamy flavors of peach, touches of brown spice, and lemon zest develop into more tropical notes of mango, tangerine, and stone on the long finish. Forget what you think you know about Viognier and pair this one with chicken, fish or mild cheeses this summer. Amanda Bowman
The Barou family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in the hills around Saint-Joseph and Condrieu. Their 2016 "Rendez-Vous" is 100% Marsanne grown in granite soils. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed and then macerated on the skins for 10 to 12 hours. The fermentation is in barrels at low temperature followed by nine months of aging in 4 to 5 year-old barriques. The wine shows a pale gold color and pretty aromas of citrus, lime-flower, spiced pear, almond and hay. The palate shows nice freshness with ripe pear, quince, almond and citrus fruits supported by firm acidity, finishing with refreshing fruit and mineral flavors. This is a well-balanced and food friendly Marsanne that will pair with fish in sauce, Asian foods and chicken and pork dishes. It's a nice aperitif as well and a sensational value! David Lillie
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
Eric Laguerre's "Le Passage" is from his highest parcel, at about 2,000 feet, on soils of decomposed granite. Organic farming, natural vinification, aged in used barrels. 80% Carignan with Syrah and Grenache. The 2015 is a lovely dark red/black color with deep aromas of blackberry, earth, dark chocolate brightened with violet and pepper. Dense, velvety black fruits on the palate - blackberry, prune and cocoa lifted by bright citrusy acids and finishing with a mineral kick. This is a beautiful expression of Eric's mountainside vineyards - showing the quality of his low-yielding Carignan. Drink now, served cool, with grilled meats, stews, and full-flavored cheeses, or hold a few years for a mature experieince...
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah grown in the Roussillon on very high-altitude vineyards of decomposed granite. Hand-harvested in small crates, yields of 20 hl/ha) The 2016 EOS Rouge shows bright aromas of tart cherry and blackberry, with dark chocolate and very floral notes, really bursting with fruit. The palate is supple and bright with cherry and red-currant fruit with acidity that coats the mouth. Very long finish of red fruits and juicy acids, quite elegant with nice tannic structure. This will go very well served cool with grilled meats and will benefit from short-term cellaring. An interesting wine that really shows the influence of the granite soils. A fabulous value!
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, grown in Eric and Corinne Laguerre's organic, high-altitude vineyards on granite soils in the Roussillon. 2015 is a great vintage for the Le Ciste Rouge, showing aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, roast meat, dark chocolate and earth.The palate is dense and supple with ripe berry fruits, licorice and spice supported by firm acidity with an elegant finish of earth, minerals and black fruits. This is a beautiful wine - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains - and a great value. Serve slightly cool with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses or cellar five to ten years. Highly recommended! DL
I recently made monkfish from Blue Moon, simply braised in the oven with a bit of white wine, olive oil, chopped fennel and herbs of Provence - it was perfect with the complex mineral/herbal flavors of this beautiful wine! Eric Laguerre's "Le Ciste," (named after a flowering bush in and around his vineyards) is certainly one of the most distinctive whites of the Roussillon. Grown in Eric's high-elevation vineyards on acidic soils of decomposed granite, the wine is made from Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu. Yields are about 20 Hl/Ha, harvesting is by hand in small baskets, fermentation (wild yeasts) and aging is in small barrels. Complex aromas of lemon oil, thyme, hay and white fruits—a lovely melange with contributions from each variety and especially showing the Marsanne and Roussanne in 2015. The palate is dense, stony and saline with herbal, citrus, almond and white fruit flavors. The finish is long with mineral acids and white fruits that linger on the palate. Complex and distinctive as a young wine, this will accompany grilled fish as well as fish and chicken in sauce and goat cheeses, and should develop nicely with a few years of cellaring. Really a Grand Cru of the Roussillon and a great value! DL
This humble wine has been a local favorite here at Chambers Street since we started working with Alain Bore a couple of years ago. It's not like many of the Gamay offerings we typically have from the Loire... it's made with a more traditional maceration, and has some tannin as a result. Though still providing bright red fruit and zippy acidity, it also shows some black cherry, and isn't too light. Medium bodied, graceful and pretty, while at the same time structured and dark as well. Truly one of the best values at Chambers Street! Eben Lillie
This is a full-bodied and very delicious Cabernet Franc from our organic friends Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. "Red wine for cellaring, powerful and rich" says the back label, and indeed this is a ripe and well-structured Cabernet Franc that is delicious now and will benefit from five to ten years of aging. The wine shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry liqueur with hits of violet, black pepper and citrus. The palate is supple and dense but balanced by bright acidity under the ripe berry fruits. Serve cool with roast chicken, stews and grilled meats and put a few in the cellar for five or ten years. David Lillie
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2016 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of dried pear, fresh herbs, hay, earth and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, pear, stone and citrus flavors that continue in the long finish. A bit "drier" and more mineral tasting than the previous two vintages, this is a simply delicious Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc...
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting. The Amphores Syrah "les Iris" shows lovely blackberry and blueberry aromas with citrus and floral notes. The palate is light and refreshing with very pretty fruit - the flavors of Northern Rhone Syrah in a bright ready-to-drink style. This will be a great accompaniment to grilled foods and picnics, served quite cool.
(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they have added biodynamic methods as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. The 2015 Saint-Joseph shows a lovely melange of blackberry, black cherry and blueberry aromas with violet, rose, roast meat and earth. The palate is dense and complex with earth and mineral notes framing ripe black fruits with licorice citrus and spice. The finish is long with earthy black fruits and mineral flavors. This is a lovely combination of ripe complex fruits with earth and minerals, making it a superb food wine with a variety of grilled and roast meats, North African cuisine and full-flavored cheeses, not to mention "Caillottes." Along with Domaine Barou, winner of the 2015 CSW Best Value in Saint-Joseph!
This delicious Syrah is from 30 to 40 year-old vines in the "Les Vernes" vineyard near Charnas (Saint-Joseph). The grapes are 80% de-stemmed and undergo a two-day cold maceration followed by an 18-day fermentation. The wine ages for 9 months in 4 and 5 year-old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry and blackcurrant with hints of mint, violet, spice and meat. There is lovely ripe blackberry and blueberry fruit on the palate with nice focus and depth, framed in firm acidity and finishing with good length and mineral flavors. Thanks to Emmanuel and Marie-Agnès Barou for this lovely wine which is one of the best values in the store! David Lillie
We're proud to be working with Isabelle and Franck Pascal, who make beautiful natural wines on their small estate near Félines in Bergerac. The estate is situated on a unique rectangular hill of two different limestones with very thin clay soils - really a great terroir, enhanced by superb Biodynamic farming. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Rouge is an outstanding wine, produced with zero added sulfur, a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. The color is dark black/red; the aromas are elegant, high-toned ripe blackberry and red currant with bitter chocolate, prune, spice and violets. The palate is deep and cool with supple black fruits, dark chocolate, earth, licorice and spice. The finish is long and pure with black fruits and firm acidity. Just delicious, but a bit tight - decant if possible or open a few hours in advance. Serve cool with charcuterie, grilled foods, stews, full-flavored cheeses. $13.99? Our thanks to Isabelle and Franck for their inspiring work.
Isabelle and Franck Pascal make this beautiful natural wine from Cabernet and Merlot grown on their Biodynamic estate near Felines, in Bergerac. The wine is aged sur-lie 12 months in barrel, and is bottled without filtration or added sulfur.The 2015 vintage has a dark robe. The nose displays the generosity of the vintage with aromas of ripe blackberries, black currants, and Italian plums with hints of cedar and graphite. The palate is rich, ripe, and deft with a good tension between the beautiful fruit and deep earth notes on a long, persistent, lifted finish. Fabulous with a grilled hanger steak, better still with magret of duck and strong cheeses. This is a tremendous value and should improve over 5-8 years. Delicious! John McIlwain
The Jonc Blanc 2014 PURE T is 100% Merlot grown on a small parcel of "marnes á astrea," a limestone conglomerate with seashells with thin clay topsoil. The wine is made with zero sulfur dioxide or other additives, fermented with wild yeasts and aged for two years in 1200 liter Taransaud foudres. Less than 300 cases are made of this beautiful wine that shows a dark black/red color and deep aromas of blackberry, cassis and bitter chocolate with roast meat and floral hints. There are lush black fruits on the palate, very silky and pure with good freshness, with firm acidity, berries and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a gorgeous wine that will accompany anything off the grill, pork stew and coq au vin. Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carle are doing beautiful work at Le Jonc Blanc and their wines deserve your attention. DL