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What's an Alsace section without a Gewurztraminer! This one has the perfect level of sweetness. It's not cloying or sticky, but is instead balanced and fresh, with white flowers and other classic Gewurz aromatics, a rich and textured palate, and great underlying acidity which lends well to the dreamy and majestic finish. Laurent is very careful about sulfur use, with minimal amounts added, so this may not be a wine to age (due to the residual sugar), but why wait? Drink on it's own or with any of your favorite spicy dishes. Or try it with a trout pate or cured salmon, where the slight density and sweetness play off against the higher salt content and perfectly cushion the drier, smoked flavor of the fish. Lox bagels for Sunday brunch, anyone? Eben Lillie/Karina Mackow
From four hectares of massale-selection, high density plantings ranging from 50 to 100 years of age in the lieu-dits of Chenes, Corcelette, and les Martillets. Vigneron Jean-Claude Chanudet works the vineyards organically but does not seek certification. The 2014 Clos de Lys shows complex aromas of strawberry and black cherry, pepper, blood orange and musk with hints of earth and graphite. The palate is dense but not at all heavy with equal parts dark fruits and earthy flavors that continue in the long finish. After long aeration, the aromas are more focused and elegant while the palate remains a bit austere with earthy berry fruits, quite well structured, predicting good aging potential. Fans of Lapierre or Foillard should definitely try the wines from Chamonard, which are certainly among the finest of the Chauvet-style Beaujolais - this is a lovely natural Morgon that will benefit from decanting if drinking now, and will probably show best (as usual with Chamonard) at between five and ten years of age.
The Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" is consistently one of our favorite Beaujolais, coming from a high-density vineyard of 60+ year-old vines adjacent to Moulin-a-Vent. The wine is always quite elegant, even a bit austere in it's youth, due to the less extractive winemaking of the Chignards. The 2014 is a bit more expressive and full-bodied on opening, showing intriguing aromas of ripe strawberry, blackberry, plum, citrus and earth with hints of white pepper and spice - really lovely. There is fairly dense blackberry fruit on the palate with earth and mineral notes and firm acidity with berry fruits and mineral notes lingering in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. This is a potentially great mature Fleurie, best perhaps 2019 to 2025. Hats off to Cédric Chignard for his two beautiful 2014s!
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are always among our favorite Beaujolais, and we're very happy to finally have the lovely 2014s in the store! A difficult growing season that was saved by good weather at the end of summer, 2014 produced beautifully balanced and very expressive wines in Beaujolais. The Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows floral, spiced strawberry and blackberry fruit, with hints of graphite, earth and citrus. Bright plum, strawberry and black fruits on the palate with rose and citrus, textured and mineral with nice length of berry fruits, bright acidity and earth in the finish. This is a lovely, beautifully balanced Chiroubles, at 12.5% alcohol, that is delicious now, best perhaps 2020 - 2025. DL
This is an extremely pretty Morgon, showing subtle high-toned black raspberry and tart cherry aromas with plum, violet, citrus and brown spice, really lovely. The black and red fruits continue on the palate with complex notes of blood orange, earth, mint and spice. The wine is dense and structured but bright and balanced, finishing with refreshing acidity and mineral flavors. Delicious now, this should be superb in three to five years, and should drink well till 2027. DL
The 2015 Descombes Brouilly shows a deep red/black color, with aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry liqueur, with violet, black pepper and citrus - quite lush and pretty. Dark and earthy black fruits on the supple, velvety palate, with good length of sappy fruit that is balanced by refreshing acidity in the finish. This is certainly one of the prettiest and most balanced of the 2015s, really quite delicious in the riper style of the vintage. DL
Georges Descombes, one of the finest producers in Beaujolais, captured the lush fruit of the 2015 vintage with moderate alcohol (13%), lovely aromas and silky, supple fruit on the palate. Blackberry, red currant and violet aromas with hints of meat and chocolate; the palate is quite ripe and pretty with nice balancing acidity and freshness - we miss the more delicate, complex fruit of the 2014, but this is a delicious Morgon in a riper style that will drink beautifully over the next five years. Serve with charcuterie, grilled pork and roast chicken, slightly chilled. DL
This delicious Regnié shows a vivid red/black color and lush aromas of blackberry liqueur with hints of violet, bitter chocolate and citrus. Ripe, supple berry fruits coat the palate, which is quite well-balanced for a 2015, blackberry and black cherry with lovely length of fruit lingering in the finish which is lifted by firm acidity. This is a great success for the vintage and will provide joyful drinking for the next five years! DL
The Mont Brouilly, a volcanic "bump" in the granite bedrocks of the Beaujolais, is a terroir of mineral-rich bluish rock with little or no soil, giving a quite different character to the wines. The Lapalu 2012 is from a one hectare parcel of old vines with northeast exposure, so late to ripen. The fruit was 80% destemmed and 20% whole cluster carbonic maceration, with 10 mg/liter of SO2 added only before bottling. This is a quite different style than the 2015s, showing a lovely garnet color and bright, complex aromas of red currant, raspberry, citrus, rose, earth and spice. The palate shows vibrant red fruits, quite dense and complex and lifted by firm acidity. The finish is very long with bright red fruits and mineral flavors coating the palate - this is an exuberant and delicious Beaujolais that is beautiful now and should really sing in three to five years. Drink until 2027. Thank-you Jean-Claude Lapalu!
The 2015 Beaujolais Villages is a selection of old vines (50 to 80 years-old) from several plots with a density of 11,000 plants per hectare. Mostly mid-slope, south-east facing early ripening parcels on sandy granite soils. Whole cluster carbonic fermentation in stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts, maceration of 10 to 12 days, aged on the fine lees for 7 months in concrete vats. 10 mg/liter of SO2 added only before bottling. The wine is an elegant, bright, and pure varietal expression that fills out the palate with dried black cherry, cherry pit, and tangy black raspberry along with top soil and dried herb undertones. A remarkable expression of Beaujolais at an excellent price. Jonas Mendoza
The Cuvee des Fous, coming from the oldest vines (planted in 1900) in Jean-Claude Lapalu’s possession, is one of his most engaging wines. The grapes were 90% destemmed and then undergo a three to four week cuvaison. The wine ages in ten year-old barrels and is bottled without filtration and with no sulfur added. A high mark for the extremely warm and ripe 2015s, this is a wine of considerably more poise, restraint and elegance than some other efforts we’ve tasted from this hate it or love it vintage. It offers notes of a dark shade of red berry fruit, black cherry, cherry pit, soft baking spices, with mineral undertones. With good acidity and quite firm tannins for Gamay, this is a beautiful wine - I wouldn’t hesitate pairing this with a juicy cut of red meat, but also didn’t mind drinking it on its own. Oskar Kostecki
From vines averaging 70 years of age in the lieu-dit "La Croix des Rameaux" on a steep south-west facing slope with various degradations of granite. 90% of fruit was destemmed with a 21 to 24 day cuvaison. The free run and pressed wines were assembled just before final fermentation of sugars. Approximately two weeks later, the wine was transferred into neutral barrels (average age of 10 years) for elevage of 10 months. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2015 La Croix des Rameaux shows a bright red-black color, with meaty aromas of ripe blackberry and earth with a bit of violet and black cherry. The palate is dense and a bit closed, showing deep black fruits with hints of citrus, earth and bitter chocolate, very textured and long. Certainly an impressive wine and better balanced than most 2015s at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. This should be very interesting when mature, best perhaps 2022 to 2030.
2014 proved to be an excellent vintage for many growers in Beaujolais, and we are thrilled to announce the arrival of Joelle and Roland Pignard’s wines! The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of their home in Villié-Morgon. The nose offers plummy, dusty fruit, with hints of cranberry, raspberry seed, and savory herbs. Over time it plumps up a bit showing lovely wild strawberry and morello cherry aromas along with a hint of graphite and a gamey quality. High-toned red berry fruit comes forward on the palate along with damp earth and red cherries backed by silky tannins and a crunchy minerality. Very pretty served quite cool now, but there is no doubt that this would age well over the next few years. Tim Gagnon (Tasted again in November, 2016, the wine shows deeper, sappy cherry fruit that coats the palate, and is much more supple and forward. Really a lovely Morgon that's beginning to open up - delicious right now, this will soften and develop over the next five to eight years.)
While the “regular” Morgon is aged entirely in concrete vats before release, Tradition has an extended elévage in neutral barriques before release (think Griffe du Marquis from Alain Coudert). This serves to add depth to the wine, while also softening and rounding it, making for a very unique expression of the Pignards’ terroir. Exuberant on the nose with bright red and black cherry fruit, red licorice, brown spice, and strawberry compote rising from the glass. The palate is broad and supple with bright red fruit flavors along with a hint of fresh cream, tangerine peel, ample minerality, and fine-grained tannins. This wine is definitely structured to age, probably best in 5-10 years, but is lovely now in its energetic youth paired with steaks, game birds, or pork. Tim Gagnon
The Pignards work 4.5 hectares in and around Morgon and Regnié. Biodynamic farming, natural fermentations and minimal SO2. We've walked through their vineyards, which are absolutely beautiful — "wine is made in the vineyard" say the Pignards and it shows in the gorgeous fruit and mineral character in their wines. The 2015 Beaujolais-Villages is from 40 to 60 year-old vines on decomposed granite soils in high-elevation parcels above Morgon. The wine shows very bright aromas of strawberry and cherry fruit with violet and citrus, quite pure and lovely. The palate is beautifully balanced for a 2015, at 13 % alcohol, with pretty berry fruits backed by saline minerals and firm acidity. This is "gouleyant" - simply delicious and easy-drinking! Serve quite cool with just about anything, and leave a few in the cellar, as this wine has the structure to age for a few years as well.
Roland and Joëlle Pignard make a small quantity of Regnié from fifty year-old vines in a vineyard with clay and stones over granite, always giving a dense and mineral wine. The Pignards made a superb Regnié in 2015, very well balanced, even with the higher ripeness in this sunny vintage. The wine shows deep blackberry, red currant and plum aromas with hints of earth, graphite, violets and citrus peel. There is a lovely melange of black and red fruits on the palate backed by firm acidity and saline mineral flavors, quite full and ripe but nicely balanced at 13 % alcohol. This is a great glass of Beaujolais in the richer style of 2015 - delicious now but should develop nicely over the next five to eight years. And it's a fabulous value at $18.99! DL
Jean-Paul Brun's Côte de Brouilly, from Domaine des Terres Dorées, is always a lovely wine, showing unique and very pretty aromas in a medium-bodied style. In the very ripe vintage of 2015, the wine shows elegant red currant, tart cherry and blackberry aromas with hints of earth, meat, citrus and pepper. Blackberry and black cherry fruit continue on the very earthy and mineral palate. Jean-Paul's Burgundy vinification seems to have suited the vintage, as the wine is well balanced, though certainly darker and more structured than usual. Serve cool with a steak or grilled pork and lamb, or cellar for three to five years as the wine will definitely benefit from aging. DL
Certified organic and biodynamic, this 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon wine made by the Barthe family is delectable. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with native yeasts in small stainless steel tanks. There is no pumping or filtration here and the wine is aged in oak for at least 12 months. This is an elegant wine with great length and a beautiful bouquet of ripe dark berries and cassis with slight tobacco and earthy notes. The body is full with a pretty roundness to it and the tannins are supple. This is a delicious wine that can be consumed now or aged for a few years (5 years). A perfect companion to your memorial weekend, pair this wine with braised pork or barbecued ribs. Caroline Coursant
This is an oustanding Pomerol from Chateau Bellegrave, which was in conversion to organic certification in 2010. While it shows the depth and structure of this excellent vintage in Bordeaux, the wine is surprisingly supple and forward making it a delicious wine for current drinking. The aromas are ripe and rich with black fruits, cassis and blackberry with sous-bois, cocoa, spice and floral notes. The palate is firm but round, deep and elegant with complex fruit flavors backed by earth and mineral notes with good freshness and silky tannins. Decant this lovely wine a few hours in advance if possible or cellar for five to fifteen years
Château Cartier, the second label of Chateau Fonroque, has been certified organic since 2006 and biodynamic since 2008. The grapes are harvested by hand and macerated slowly. After fermentation with indigenous yeasts, the wine is aged in oak (30% new) for 16 months. On the palate, this 100% Merlot wine displays a rich bouquet of dark and red plums, cassis, ripe red currant with violet and chocolate notes. With high mineral notes on the nose and palate, the wine has some blood and iron overtones. The body is full with smooth tannins. This is a luscious wine that will pair fantastically with grilled meats or barbecued chicken. Caroline Coursant
Château Massereau, an estate located in Barsac, has been farming organically since its acquisition by the Chaigneau family in 2000. The estate is fully committed to natural winemaking and it shows in the quality of the wine. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermented in concrete vats and then aged in neutral barrique for 18 months with minimal addition of sulphur at bottling. Made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, planted in alluvial soils, the wine displays a bouquet of dark berries and plums with dried green herbs, menthol notes and a hint of violet, tobacco leaf and cedar notes. This elegant wine has a beautiful structure with firm acidity and smooth tannins. A great wine at a beautiful price, this wine will pair fantastically with racks of lamb, kebabs, steaks or pork chops. Caroline Coursant
Michel Théron moved to Bordeaux in 1988 from the Languedoc in the south of France to study winemaking. His original plan was to complete his studies there, and then move back to the Languedoc to take over the family estate, but love prevailed when he met his Bordelaise wife. Not long after, the couple purchased a small parcel in the village of Cantenac in the Haut-Médoc in 1993 and produced their first vintage in 1994. The estate is now certified biodynamic and covers 7 hectares in Cantenac, Arsac, and Margaux on soils of gravel, sand, and some clay. This beautiful Haut-Médoc is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with sumptuous red berry fruits, a hint of smoke, cedar, and fresh tobacco on the nose. The palate is rather lifted, showing vibrant fruit and a touch of earth, and it is very approachable. It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon
A magnum of incredibly delicious Bordeaux! It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon
Deyrem-Valentin is consistently one of the great values in Crus Bourgeois. The 2011 vintage is no exception. There are pretty floral aromas, spice box, and red fruits on the nose. The mid-weight palate offers flavors of red cherry, black raspberry, with gravelly soil notes, framed by ripe tannins and bright acidity. This is pretty rather than powerful as befits Margaux, with structure resolved enough to give immediate pleasure. John McIlwain
Chateau Falfas located in the Côtes de Bourg appellation has been practicing organically and biodynamically since 1988 - one of the first in Bordeaux. This merlot wine (with 25% cabernet sauvignon) made by Véronique Cochran represents this ideology. Fully desteemed with a maceration of about 15-25 days, the wine is aged in steel, with minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. The wine is elegant with good acidity and minerality (clay and limestone soil). Its bouquet of ripe dark fruits, violet and light spices is vibrant and fresh on the palate. This is full body wine with a nice texture and moderate tannin. Pair it with dishes such as stuffed tomatoes, ratatouille, duck and pork chops. A great value wine at a great price. Caroline Coursant
The La Grolet " Cuvee Jeanne" is the Hubert family's first wine aged in amphora, made from old vines of Merlot and Cabernet at Chateau La Grolet. The wine shows a deep black/red color with ripe aromas of cassis and blackberry with hints of bitter chocolate, brown spice and citrus peel. The palate shows silky ripe fruits, quite dense but very supple with soft tannins - cassis and blackberry with licorice, earth and spice. Wonderfully elegant and long, this is a superb Bordeaux to enjoy with a steak or grilled pork and lamb. Delicious now, with a unique silky texture, this should drink beautifully over the next ten to fifteen years. DL
From clay and gravel soils over limestone in the Côtes du Bourg comes this lovely Bordeaux, roughly 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, certified organic and Biodynamic and produced entirely without sulfur-dioxide or other additives. Pure juice! The 2015 Sans Sulfites Ajoutés is an opaque red/black color with lovely aromas of ripe cassis, red currant and spiced plum with hints of cocoa and earth. The palate is dense and supple with blackberry liqueur, plum skin and ripe red fruits, finishing with firm, refreshing acidity. This is a pure and fruit-forward Bordeaux that's ready to drink - serve cool with anything from Coq au Vin to Steak Frites and flavorful cheeses, or simply enjoy by itself. DL
A delicious wine from Fronsac, next to Pomerol and St. Emilion, in Bordeaux. Paul Barre has been applying biodynamic principles since 1990 and has been certified DEMETER since 1998. Paul Barre no longer uses any pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard and introduced horse plowing in 2013. A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the wine displays a bouquet of ripe dark plums, cassis and menthol notes. With bright acidity, integrated tannins, and smooth texture, the wine has a lovely structure with a persistent finish. A fantastic wine to say the least, I truly enjoyed it. You may drink it now or age it for a several years (+5 years). Caroline Coursant
Though Château Langlais, located in Puisseguin Saint Emilion, has been certified organic since 1996, the vines have never been treated with herbicides or insecticides. The 2000 vintage is showing beautifully, with aromas of cassis, blackberry, and cigar box. The tannins are resolving but there is plenty freshness on the long velvety finish. This is a fine value in an aged Bordeaux and a testament to great farming.
Certified organic since 2009 and biodynamic since 2013, this second label from the domain Maison Blanche is a secret to discover. Vibrant with tension, firm tannins and bright acidity, this wine will accompany many of your meals from casual to fancy. The palate is full of blackberries, cassis, plums with savory, mineral and herbal notes. The finish is long and beautiful. A great wine. Drink it now or age it for several years (7 years). Caroline Coursant
ARRIVES TUE. 5/23 - The Hubert family are owners of Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours in Blaye and Chateau La Grolet in Bourg. The farming here is among the best in Bordeaux, certified organic and biodynamic. The vineyards are a fantastic oasis of greenery compared to the rest of Bordeaux, and are located on slopes of clay over limestone giving the wines good concentration and firm minerality. The Quintessence of Peybonhomme is a selection of the best juice from tastings each year and is primarily Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, a portion of which is aged in new oak. The 2012 is a beautiful and lively Bordeaux showing deep aromas of ripe cassis, blackberry, black cherry, cocoa, spice and earth. The palate is supple and ripe, lifted by cool acidity, with complex black fruits, earth and mineral flavors with a long finish. The wine broadens and gains complexity with time open so decant if possible. A versatile food wine, this beautifully balanced Bordeaux will accompany anything from roast chicken to pork dishes to steak. Put a few in your cellar for a mature experience, best 2020 to 2025.(Featured in the NY Times "20 Wines for Under $20" October, 2016) DL
What's atypical about this delicious wine? It's a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc rather than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, giving the wine a more supple palate and quite different fruit character. The 2015 has lovely, deep blackberry and cassis aromas with red currant, cassis and cherry on the supple, lush palate, with hints of earth and smoke. More "forward" than most Bordeaux, and showing the ripeness and beautiful fruit of the 2015 vintage, this versatile wine will pair beautifully with almost any beef, pork or lamb dish and is a fabulous value!
Biodynamic farming, native yeasts, wild fermentations, good value –all phrases not typically associated with Bordeaux. Yet, each year the Hubert family provides us with just that in their staple cuvee from the Côte de Blaye. The Cru Bourgeois is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Malbec. Generously aromatic owing to the rich clay soils in which it is grown, the 2015 offers crushed violets, cassis, and rhubarb on the nose. The palate shows the warm vintage with finesse. Cascades of ripe red fruit, blackcurrant, and spice, with supple tannins and an undercurrent of chalky minerality. This is a great addition to the dinner table alongside grilled meat or sipped on its own. Amanda Bowman
Didier Michaud works 1.7 hectares in the Medoc with 30 to 100 year-old vines on limestone with thin soils of clay with sand and stones. He has old vines of Merlot Queue Rouge and massalle selection Cabernet Sauvignon, farmed organically with just a little compost and shallow plowing. Vinification with wild yeasts, no extraction and usually no added sulfur. This is one of the most "natural" and deliciously old-fashioned wines of Bordeaux. DL .... This is quintessential left bank Bordeaux, with black fruit and cassis notes, fascinating minerality and integrated tannin. It has enough elegance to drink young, but should age beautifully as well. It's always a treat to have a wine from a historic region such as Medoc, made naturally, without additives, over extraction, or new wood. This is truly a beautiful wine that seems to me to be an authentic version of what classic old-school Bordeaux was all about. Eben Lillie
This Bordeaux wine from Château Valentin, a Haut-Médoc estate practicing organic farming, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (10%) and Petit Verdot (10%). Hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented in cement vats with native yeasts and then aged in oak for 12 months, with light filtration (egg white fining). On the palate, the wine is delicious, showing a vibrant bouquet of black currant, berries and black cherries with light savory herbs and tobacco leaf notes. Well-balanced, the wine displays a lively minerality (thanks to the vineyard's ancient glacial soils) and elegant tannins. A classic Bordeaux-style wine at a superb price, bring it to your Memorial Day party - it will be a great companion to grilled meats and barbecue. Caroline Coursant
(From half-bottle.) Though not considered a legendary vintage for Yquem, the 1981 has plenty of verve and class to recommend it. The nose shows apricot, orange marmalade, honey and brunt sugar and notes of vanilla. The palate is rich though, perhaps not as unctuous as more lauded vintages, offering flavors of burnt orange, crème brulée, pineapple, and honey. This is mature yet still has plenty of energy and freshness provided by the still lively acidity which carries through on the long and pleasingly bitter finish. John McIlwain
Chateau Couronneau is a certified organic and Biodynamic estate located east of Saint-Emilion and south of Saint-Foy, producing wines in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Saint-Foy apellations. Made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris, the 2016 Bordeaux Blanc shows aromas of pear, fines herbes, citrus and boxwood. The palate is ripe but refreshing with pear, quince, ripe citrus and mineral flavors. This is an outstanding value that shows the organic and Biodynamic vineyard work in the pure fruit and mineral flavors - a delicious and versatile everyday white that will accompany seafood, chicken and pork dishes. DL
ARRIVES MON. 5/22 - Catherine and Jean-Luc Hubert's estate on clay and limestone soils in the Côte du Blaye is certified Biodynamic. For Le Blanc Bonhomme, whole clusters of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon undergo a 24 hour maceration before a slow pressing and wild-yeast fermentation. The wine shows ripe aromas of pear, fig and citrus fruits with honeysuckle and brioche. The palate is round and full with white fruits, herbs, fig and mineral flavors. This will be a lovely aperitif and will accompany fish in sauce, white meats, Asian foods and mild cheeses. This is a versatile and delicious white Bordeaux and a great value!
This is a delicious Chablis from Samuel Billaud. Crisp, mineral with some great acidity, this wine is lively and fun on the mouth with classic flavors of lemon, green and yellow apple, and pear and a touch of tropical and saline notes in the background. This is a lean wine with some good tension that will be the perfect companion to salads and grilled fish. Caroline Coursant
From the hillside 1er cru climat of Grésigny, whose shallow soils are mostly comprised of Jurassic limestone. Fermented with native yeast in a combination on used and new barrels. The 2014 is shows white flowers and fruit with aromas of lemon oil, citrus peel, and lemon blossoms. The palate is briskly mineral, with stony, salty flavors giving way to flavors of green apple, tangerine, and quince, with a racy, snappy finish. Like many of the 2014 white Burgundies, there is a sensational combination of energy and complexity and this over-delivers at the price point. A fine aperitif and a lovely choice for scallops, roast oysters, or fresh flounder. John McIlwain
Domaine Anne Bavard-Brooks is located in Puligny-Montrachet and has been organic and biodynamic since 2005. The "La Combe" vineyard is in the village of Puligny with 35 year-old vines on silt and clay soils over limestone, 200 cases made. The 2015 is a lovely, complex, white Burgundy showing ripe aromas with hints of exotic fruit, citrus, pear and stone. The palate is round and dense with flavors of pear, fines-herbes, almond, citrus, honeysuckle and brown spice. The finish is long and ripe with citrus and stone flavors that linger. This is a quite complex and well-balanced Burgundy that will accompany a wide variety of seafood and poultry dishes and mild cheeses. Drinking beautifully now, this will cellar nicely over the next 5 years or more. Excellent value!
White flowers, lemon balm, honeysuckle, apple blossom on the nose; also Meyer lemon peel and acacia honey. A discreet kiss of wood. Ripe but focused, great balance, bracing tension between ripe stone fruit and dusty minerality. Real poise and another data point for grower over vintage.
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Macon-Villages from certified organic parcels in Chardonnay, Montbellet and Viré-Clessé on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. Incredibly aromatic, with wildflower, lime blossom, green apple peel, beeswax and spiced poached apple and pear. Supple and ripe in this rather warm vintage with 13.5% alcohol, it’s balanced by excellent acidity and minerality with more orchard fruit, apricot, and salted peach. Remarkably textured and long with succulent fruit, toasted almond, citrus, and saline minerals and pear on the finish. Totally unlike the usual Macon Villages, this is a delightful wine that will accompany grilled fish, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses - and it's delicious to enjoy by itself. TG & DL
As easy as it is to forget the quality of Auxey-Duresses Blanc, it's just as easy to overlook the sensational quality of Domaine Lafouge. The Auxey-Duresses Blanc Les Hautés (from the lieu dit situated next to Les Vireuils in Meursault) displays a fine balance of white floral aromas (acacia and honeysuckle) with white orchard fruits on the nose. The palate is racy and mineral with pear and nectarine fruit vying for attention with a good degree of mineral cut. This is pretty and a fine value in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
"Les Boutonniers" is contiguous with Meursault "Meix Chavaux" on shallow soils of clay, high in iron, over the limestone bedrock, usually giving a somewhat lean and very "mineral" white Burgundy. The 2015 shows very floral aromas with pear, citrus and stone. The palate is crystalline and dense with subtle white fruits leading to a long finish with citrus peel, spice and mineral flavors. This is a lovely, very refreshing Burgundy to enjoy with grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. It's delicious now and will cellar nicely for eight to ten years. DL
The Meursault lieu-dit Les Casses Têtes is located on the hillside above the premier cru Les Gouttes d'Or and next to Le Tesson. The soils are thin and rocky producing wines of great energy and lift. The 2015 Lafouge is a very pale gold color with aromas of wet stone, pear, fresh herbs and lemon peel with hints of oak - showing a bit more richness and fruit aroma than usual in this ripe vintage. The palate is crystalline and vibrant with stony acidity and flavors of marcona almonds, bitter lemon, dried pear, anise and saline minerals. This is a beautifully structured Meursault to drink now in its rather intense youth with crab, broiled sole, flounder and cod, or cellar for ten to fifteen years or more. Highly recommended. David Lillie
From eighty year-old vines, in mid-slope on thin well-drained clay/limestone soils, the 2015 Meix Chavaux shows elegant pear, lemon, lime and floral aromas. The palate is rich and ripe with white fruits and exotic citrus covering the chalky core, with firm acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. Serve with full-flavored fish dishes, poultry and white meats, mild cheeses. This is a beautiful young Meursault that is delicious now and over the next ten years.
While there are few bargains remaining in the Côte d'Or, one source of gently priced and vibrant Burgundy is the commune of St. Romain, whose location and soils produce wines of fine minerality and verve. The vineyards, comprised of limestone, clay, and marls produce Chardonnay, which is bright, vibrant and nervy. The 2014 vintage is floral, yellow-fruited and a hint leesy on the nose with hints of nectarine and pear skin. On the palate the wine is amalgam of ripe pear, fine acids, zesty acidity, and has a savory sense of minerality. There's great energy here with a pungent core of stoniness beneath the fruit. John McIlwain
The 2015 Magnien Aligoté is a bright and lively wine, at 11.5% alcohol, showing herbal, lemon-lime, melon and almond aromas, with pear, mirabelle, stone and ctrus flavors on the fresh, very dry palate. Serve with vegetable soups, fish dishes, quiches and mild cheeses - or make the perfect Kir with 1/5 Creme de Cassis.
From an assortment of plots around the village, with vines located near the border with Puligny as well as vines in and around Les Masure, per the winery website. Domaine Bernard Morey is one of the finest growers in Chassagne-Montrachet, producing
A cracking Chassagne-Montrachet from Les Battaudes, a lieu-dit situated beneath the Morgeots premier cru. 20-year-old vines planted in limestone clay soils, farmed organically. The 2013 Battaudes is cool-toned and perfumed on the nose with lime blossom, orange oil and sea spray on the nose with a hint of oak. The mid-weight palate is racy with flavors of stone, lemon curd, and orange oil on a persistent, layered finish. Enjoy this with soft-shelled crab, or fresh spring vegetable risotto. John McIlwain
The wines from the Pernot family in Puligny-Montrachet are well-known throughout the world for classic Puligny and Bâtard style. They have rich concentration and fruit, but more importantly, good acidity that allow them to age gracefully and harmoniously. The 2015 Bourgogne Chardonnay is from vines in the village of Puligny and is an outstanding value in white Burgundy. The color is very pale steely gold, the wine shows lovely aromas of almond, pear, green apple, citrus skin and stone with a bit of lime-flower. The palate is dense but lean with elegant flavors of stone, almond and citrus with a bit of herbal honeysuckle in the end. The finish is very firm with bright mineral acids. This is a lovely junior Puligny that will accompany sole almondine, other fish in sauce, even oysters, and mild goat cheeses. Delicious now, but the 2015 is really worth buying to cellar as well, best 2020 - 2025.
This is a pretty Chablis from Patrick Piuze, one of the youngest stars of Chablis. This wine comes from a single vineyard near 1er Cru Forêts. This Chablis offers a nice balance of fruit and acidity despite the warmth of the 2015 vintage, with a bouquet of ripe fruit and spices. Stone fruit, apple and lemon are the primary fruit flavors with pretty musky notes on the nose and hints of vanilla on the palate. The minerality (clay and limestone) and acidity are quite good. This is a smooth, well-balanced Chablis with a nice finish and a good length. More refined and fresher than the Terroir Découverte, the wine can be served on its own or with a nice dinner. Caroline Coursant
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is high on the slope on the site of an old quarry and much of the sub-soil is limestone tailings, permitting root penetration and drainage, with a topsoil of mixed clay and limestone "marnes blanches." In biodynamic agriculture since 1979, the vineyard is a south-facing semi-circle—a very warm spot giving a full, ripe wine. Light gold/brass color. Lovely aromas of pear, quince, lime-flower and ripe citrus with a bit of oak. The palate is elegant and supple, with white fruits, almond, citrus and caramel framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors, showing good ripeness but finishing with firm stony acidity. Lovely wine. Delicious now, this should age gracefully till 2030 and beyond. DL
Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely wines in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils. Quite racy and bright even in 2015, the wine shows subtle aromas of lemon,almond, stone, pear and apple. Intense, very mineral palate with pear, citrus and stone flavors and terrific length. Decant or open in advance if drinking now, serve with oysters, grilled seafoods, roast chicken and mild cheeses or cellar for 5 to 8 years. This is a real Chardonnay of terroir and a great value!
Jean-Marie Chaland owns two estates in Viré (Macon), Domaine Sainte Barbe and Domaine des Chazelles, both certified organic since 2006. The Sainte Barbe "la Perriere" is made from 35 year-old grapes from a half-hectare parcel near Viré on clay/limestone soils, never treated with herbicides. The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified with wild yeasts, the wine ages for 18 months, half in barrel, have in cuve inox. The 2014 shows elegant, subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, stone, melon, pineapple and honeysuckle. The palate is very mineral, with stone and citrusy acids, dense pear and herbal flavors and terrific length. This should be decanted or opened in advance, or cellar for five to ten years. A lovely white Burgundy at a reasonable price! Serve with asparagus, terrines, scallops, monkfish, halibut. D Lillie
Tasted in January 2017. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length.
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, harvested early at 9% alcohol from NE facing parcels. Elegant white fruit aromas. The palate is very expressive with white fuits, minerals and herbal notes, rich but balanced. (Tasted with 5 grams dosage, our disgorgement is Brut Nature.)
This 2009 is 100% Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit and this really comes across, in the form of stately minerality and structure. It shines a vibrant golden yellow in the glass and sports a finely-beaded mousse. Aromas of spearmint, peppermint, lillies, hazelnuts, and spiced apple custard float up from the glass. The palate is both round, weighty, and alive with minerality with notes of yellow plums and Cortland apples that continue through to an elegant finish.
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear and herbal notes - lovely now and should cellar beautifully.
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “the aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...")
The 1998 Ambonnay Brut has long been a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brüléee transition to notes of Jonagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! David Salinas ((NOTE: This refers to a 2014 disgorgement, the wine shipping now was disgorged in 11/16 or Jan 2017.) (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super good, strong, precise, pure. Great focused nose, good stong body, good minerality, long weaving forest trail...")
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical and laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in *October of 2016 after 14 years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines. *May be a more recent disgorgement
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious, perfect but perhaps less transparent than the 2010 Brut Rosé." Notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017
This full-bodied and robust Rosé Champagne is expressive of Pinot Noir character as well as natural and chemical-free winemaking, a rare combination, especially in Champagne. The nose offers ripe sour cherry, cherry pit, quinine, almost Burgundian earthiness, and an ever so slight note of bitter herbs reminiscent of amaro. Cherry fruit carries through the mid-palate to the finish, which is downright tannic, in the best possible way. There is some dosage here, giving the wine a compelling balance of acid and sweetness. It's a fairly serious Rosé Champagne, one that could accompany a meal, but it doesn't present itself as austere in any way. Unique within our selection of Rosé Champagnes and well-worth trying. (Lot 11A. Disgorged 10/2016.)
Les Beaux Regards is a blend of two parcels of Chardonnay in Ludes on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims planted in 1964 and 1970. The loamy clay soils produce a Champagne more vinous in character, rather than exclusively taut and chalky. The 2012 displays floral and orchard fruit aromas, with delicate notes of spice and Meyer lemon following. The palate is distinctly mineral and racy, with overtly stony notes, cool notes of mint and lemon balm and a long tangy, expressive finish. Great energy and volume here. (Dosage 3g/l.) John McIlwain
For holiday celebrations, Champagne is a must. Not just for the festive association of bubbles, but also because it is truly one of the most versatile wines to grace one's table. The inherent acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the foods, while the bubbles and moderate alcohol invigorate the palate rather than tire it. One of my favorite Champagnes for the table (not just Thanksgiving or Christmas) is Bérêche's Reflets d'Antan. Based on a perpetual cuvée dating from the 1980's, the wine combines the vivid, nervy fruit of a recent vintage with the burnished, textural and aromatic complexity of the aged wines which make up the 'solera.' The secondary fermentation under cork rather than crown cap adds an additional layer of finesse with a delicate bead and soft mousse. This will pair beautifully with most of the foods on your holiday table (skip the marshmallows, please). Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. John McIlwain
Emmanuel Brochet, produces Champagnes of particularly mineral character from the clay and limestone soils of a single lieu-dit called Le Mont Benoit located in the northern part of the Montagne de Reims. The vines are date from 1962 and 1984 and have been farmed organically since 2005 and certified since 2008. The current disgorgement of Le Mont Benoit Extra Brut is based on the the 2013 vintage with reserve wine from the 2012 vintage. The cepage is 39% Pinot Noir 37% Pinot Meunier, and 24% Chardonnay fermented in barrel with native yeasts and bottled with a dosage of 4 grams/L. Newly arrived, the wine is a bit aromatically reticent, though with air reveals pear skin and stony notes. The palate is quite chiseled and vinous, high-lighting a denser rather than chalky minerality or overt fruit. And while powerful, this is quite elegant, if coiled and shows quite long and dry, though not quite austere. Within this structure are lovely notes of blood orange peel, salt, and apricot with hints of autolyse. This is quite young, but has great energy within and will reward mid to longer term aging. John McIlwain
Made from 100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vineyards in Vertus, Le Mesnil, Orger, Avize, and Cramant, the 2009 base Cuvée Vendémiaire is a must for fans of chiseled, chalky Champagnes from the Côte des Blancs. With long lees aging (60 months, partially in oak), low sulfur, and bottling under lower pressure, this shows a more vinous side of Blanc de Blancs, while offering tremendous value. -John McIlwain
Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Montagne de Reims over looking the Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2012 and 2011 vintages and balances nicely the classic richness of Damery with undertones of minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure and the magnum makes us even more inclined to wish everyone a "Fabrice Navidad!" John McIlwain
Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Montagne de Reims over looking the Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms the without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2012 and 2011 vintages and balances nicely the classic richness Damery with undertones of minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. John McIlwain
Though there are fewer than 20 growers of Rosé des Riceys, we tend to think of the wines as a coming from a single terroir. By vinifying separately two different lieux dits, Olivier Horiot shows the possibilities of expression within the appellation. En Barmont is a warm site, whose southerly exposure and marls interspersed with Kimmeridgian limestone produce a ripe Pinot Noir with a broader character than nearby En Valigrain. The 2012 En Barmont has a darker garnet/copper robe, effusive and floral on the nose with wild cherry, cherry blossom, and Red Delicious apple aromas. On the palate, vivid, racy acidity, bright red fruits with hints of crushed herbs, and a fine dusty minerality on a broad expansive finish. This is quite pretty with a generous ripeness and exuberance. John McIlwain
Though famed for their reds and the eponymous rosé, Riceys produces far more Champagne than still wines from its vineyards bordering Burgundy. And though the Kimmeridgian soils mean Pinot Noir in the Aube, they also make a convincing case for the underappreciated Pinot Blanc grape. Sourced from all eight of his terroirs, Olivier Horiot's Métisse, a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc, is based on the 2013 vintage with the balance made up of reserve wine from a perpetual cuvée stored in foudre. The nose is delicate and spritely upon opening with generous notes of white peach, lemon curd, and cool herb tones, opening to reveal aromas of brioche and ginger. On the palate, there is a sense of volume with generous stone fruit flavors underlain with a broad, stony character which lends drive to the long, lingering finish. This would be lovely with pan-roasted scallops, though there's certainly enough texture to accompany risotto with wild mushrooms, or roasted chicken. (Disgorged 3/15/2016, Dosage 2g/L) John McIlwain
Based on a solera, or perpetual cuvée, started in 1982, the Mémoire Extra Brut is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay, aged in foudre and bottled with 3 g/ dosage. The grapes come from all of the various Huré vineyard parcels and the cuvée is considered to be a broad "snapshot" of the domain's terroir and vinification aesthetic. Pale golden yellow in color and with an ultra-fine bead, Mémoire offers soft aromas of Mirabelle plum, dried orange peel, lemon verbena, brown butter, with notes of honey. The palate is creamy, broad, round, and burnished with complex flavors of wild cherry, damson, heather honey, candied ginger, with a pleasing hint of nuttiness on the finish. There are a multiple layers to this Champagne as befits its solera origins and it is better served by enjoying from a wine glass, rather than flute to allow the bouquet to develop fully. - John McIlwain
Entirely Pinot Meunier, this is a notably unique rosé. It's incredibly vinous and is wine — serious wine — before it's rosé or Champagne. But as a saignée Champagne it has delicacy and poise, and yet is serious and structured. It's most curiously savory — our flavor associates included soft cheese, herbs, ferns, sausage, and spices. It is wonderfully dry with chalky minerality on the finish. Not a party Champagne, but one for serious consideration and engagement. Worth contemplation by any serious wine or Champagne lover. MSB
60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay that doesn't go through malolactic fermentation, along with 10% Pinot Noir. There is a delicate red fruit quality — pale plums — but otherwise the high-toned Chardonnay comes through with a delightful lemon tone. Earthy salinity and minerals lead to a dry, mouth-watering finish. A large percentage of Meunier gives this Champagne a broad, rich, earthy character that matches very well with Beau Soleil oysters and Caviar. MSB
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village down by the river where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village, this is particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes, lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Another impressive bottling from Raphaël Bérêche's Crus Sélectionnés, the 2004 Montagne Grand Cru, from Verzenay on the north slope of the Montagne de Reims displays the characteristic richness of the Pinot Noir-dominated wines of the village. With a golden robe and fine mousse, the Champagne is beginning to hit a fine point of maturity. The nose balances aromas of red fruits, beurre noisette, shortbread, and stone. The palate is supple with fine flavors of dried cherry, apricots, brioche, and dried mint, leading to a detailed, persistent, mineral finish. This shows grand cru volume and length while maintaining plenty of complexity and finesse. (disgorged 01/2016, 5g/l dosage) John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs, La Cote Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
Someday soon the Ambonnay Grand Cru lieu-dit of Les Crayères will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Hermitage’s Les Bessards or Alsace’s Clos Sainte Hune. Similarly, Benoît Marguet will be heralded for having preserved and defended the health of his soils and his vineyard workers. These valuations form a positive feedback loop, where greater care and attention to finely delimited vineyards will help these great terroirs shine. Marguet’s Les Crayères is a blend of 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir from an airy, mid-slope vineyard. Light golden in color and starred by a finely beaded mousse, the aromas begin with acacia, ripe raspberries, and honeysuckle before transitioning to Red Delicious and violets. The zero-dosage palate is broad and gripping with notes of dark chocolate, Meyer lemon, and fresh peppermint with a vanilla macaroon and ripe cantaloupe finish. An expressive and uncompromising Champagne of terroir! Disgorged 3/2014. David Salinas
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentations are with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. While the 2011 vintage was difficult for most producers, Marguet's wines were lovely. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is chalky and mineral, showing the power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. This shows citrus blossom and chalky on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. This will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
At least for me, Marguet’s Champagnes have been about power and opulence, which isn’t surprising given winemaker Benoît Marguet has 10 hectares of vines, mainly in the grand crus of Ambonnay and Bouzy. With preserved lemon and powdered ginger notes, the “Shaman” (formerly named “Elements”) finishes with striking flavors of lemon pith and fresh dill. An unwittingly complementary pairing with tzatziki or taramosalata. Disgorged 2/16. Jonas Mendoza
There are no two ways about it. This is a natural Champagne made from biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and then vinified with native yeasts for both the alcoholic fermentation and the prise de mousse. Finally, the Concordance is free of any added sulfur. The Aube's warmer climate and Dominique's great farming have resulted in a Blanc de Noirs that will settle any doubts about the quality of the 2011 base vintage. Pale golden yellow in the glass and sporting a finely beaded mousse, the aromas of the Concordance are strikingly pure and vibrant with notes of ripe Cortland apples, red currants, fresh raspberries and a hint of brioche. The palate is pure with a fine minerality that carries aromas of cranberries and red plums through to a lengthy and savory finish. Beautiful Champagne! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 1/2015). - David Salinas
Over the course of time, Jose Michel's NV Brut has become one of our favorite affordable Champagnes. It's a wine that has something for everyone: accessibility for those who like easy-going bubbles, savory-ness for those who drink Champagne at the table, complexity for those who value it... Some Champagne is rich, some is elegant, but this bottle is explosive and animated. Packed with fruit — peach, raspberry, and strawberry — but held in balance with creamy straw and cashew-y notes, and a strong backbone of acidity. This is an epicurean, food-friendly Champagne that is simply delicious and perfect for toasting. (The price is simply unbeatable.) MSB
The grand cru of Verzy, located on the northeastern slope of the Montagne de Reims, is perhaps best know as a source of racy Pinot Noir-based Champagnes, though the shallow chalky and silex strewn soils on the eastern reaches of the village favor the Chardonnay grape. The new blanc de blancs cuvée L'Angelique by biodynamic grower Mouzon-Leroux is a nervy, filigreed expression of the terroir. The soils of the parcels where the grapes grown are 50cm of light clay and silex over chalk. The initial fermentation is with indigenous yeasts, aging is 50-% in tank, 50% barrel, and the wine is bottled with 2.5g/l dosage.The nose on the 2011 is cool-toned and floral, with aromas of lemon blossom, stone fruit, and smoky notes. The palate is energetic, but broad with a soft mousse and fine bead, offering pretty white and yellow orchard fruit flavors with on a long, stony, sapid, and suave finish. (Sébastien Mouzon tells us that he waited an extra ten days to pick his fruit in 2011, which avoided the resulting green flavors found in others' wines from vintage.) John McIlwain
Sourced from less than a hectare parcel of old-vine Pinot Noir, the Come des Tallants is the jewel of Roland's range. Beginning with a crystalline clear and brilliant golden yellow in the glass and very finely beaded mousse, the nose shows aromas of Greengage, lillies, spearmint, toffee, guava, and some musky tones. The palate is finely chiseled with a nervy minerality, buoyed by a weighty concentration and a full aromatic range of wild flowers, which continues through to a finely pointed finish. A fantastic effort and Champagne from Roland Piollot! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 7/2015). This beautiful Champagne is a superb value and a great way to start, or enjoy during your holiday feast!
An organically-farmed Blanc de Noirs from the eponymous lieu-dit in the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The wine is a notable expression of this terroir, as Fabrice Pouillon reveals by vinifying with only the natural sugars from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir, in addition to only utilizing the indigenous yeasts present in the must. He accomplishes this by chilling unsulfured grape must in tank to a temperature low enough to prevent spoilage or fermentation. This must is then used for the secondary fermentation, as well as the dosage after disgorgement, rather than cane sugars or MCR. The resulting wine is layered and supple with a fine bead, displaying red fruits, blood orange peel, and spices, expressing the vinous character of Pinot Noir grown in the clays of the Grande Vallee de la Marne. John McIlwain
From an organically farmed, single-vineyard parcel at the top of the slope on the western side of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. 50% Pinot Noir fermented in tank, 50% Chardonnay fermented in used barrels. Disgorged in Spring 2016, zero dosage. Though from a premier cru village rather than its grand cru neighbor, Aÿ, the 2008 Les Blanchiens is no less an articulate expression of the calcareous clay soils that make up its terroir. The nose offers toasty brioche, dried orange peel, and bergamot aromas. The palate shows ripe dense fruit on the attack, with an incisive minerality dominating a rich and complex mid-palate. This is manifested by pungent soil notes, which give way to distinctly savory, sapid, and powerful finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means austere. John McIlwain
Located in the hills above Essoyes, Ruppert-Leroy's vines are a study of polyculture, in contrast to most of the vineyards of Champagne. All are adjacent to forest, with dozens of herbs, wildflowers, grasses growing between the rows. In the Spring, there is a riot of color between the vines. Martin-Fontaine is 100% Chardonnay, fermented with native yeasts, bottled without dosage as of the 2013 vintage sees no addition of sulfur. We are lucky to be able to revisit the 2011, which is in a beautiful place at the moment, with a nose redolent of shortbread, lemon curd, and wet stone. The palate is stony, saline, and quite savory with umami notes vying for attention with pure flavors of ripe white orchard fruits. Quite pretty and detailed, this shows the potential of the terroir in this part of the Aube. John McIlwain
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Bénédicte Ruppert of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard. One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.)The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The 2013 Les Cognaux shows red fruit, peach skin, orange peel, and see spray aromas with notes of daishi and fond. The palate balances lush, ripe flavors of apricot, peach, and Rainier cherry with crunchy acidity, compelling umami character and a pungent sense of minerality. The finish is vibrant and luminous. As of 2013 Ruppert-Leroy vinifies and bottles without SO2. John McIlwain
There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic of Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit with a frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009), deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Aurelien's inaugural village releases display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly mineral. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant is richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. The nose offers an intoxicating blend of lemon blossom, sea spray, and apricot aromas, while the palate is incisively chalky, pungently stony, and taut. This is not to say this is austere, rather brisk and punchy with great persistence on the long, sapid finish. John McIlwain
The 2013 vintage is the inaugural release of Aurelien Suenen's Grand Cru Oiry Blanc de Blancs. Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees, and are bottled with 1 g/l dosage. The 2013 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of citrus peel, quinine, and chalk dominating. The palate is chiseled, taut and very dry with racy acidity and an energetic driving finish. Suenen continues to grow with each vintage and this new line up of village designated Champagnes are particularly exciting. The 2013 is especially suited to seafood dishes such as fluke crudo, where the bright acidity sets off the sweetness of the fish, or as a bright foil to pan-roasted monkfish, or skate with brown butter and lemon. John McIlwain
Aurélien Suenen originally trained in the US to become a professional basketball player, but returned to France to take over the estate in 2009 when his father passed away. "MBDA" is one of his first cuvées; besides a longing tribute to four generations of Suenen (Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, Aurélien) that have farmed in Champagne since 1898, it represents a precocious and stunning effort. MBDA is a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir (from Montigny-sur-Velse) and Chardonnay (from grand cru sites Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry). Enticing at first with golden apple, candied ginger, and brioche aromatics, this Champagne fills out the palate with bruised red apple skin, yellow plum, and toast flavors, and then finishes with shaded undertones of dried honey and roasted parsnip. Texturally, the soft mousse floats like a featherweight on the center of the tongue, but then broadly fills out across the palate. Jonas Mendoza
A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Pinot Meunier, the base wine comes from the classic 2008 vintage. For a Brut Nature (Dosage: 0 g/l), this Tarlant combines bracing acidity with remarkable fruit-forwardness. Lemon pith, preserved lemon, red apple flesh and red apple skin flavors sweep across the palate with broad brush strokes and a pleasing effervescence. With big flavors and deep cut, this Champagne definitely needs food to accompany it: caviar or smoked salmon anyone? (Disgorged: 09/14) - Jonas Mendoza
From vines planted in 1939, 1950, 1979 in the limestone and red clays and gravels beneath les Lavières. The Aux Grands Liards is bit muted upon opening, but with 2 hours in the decanter lovely fruit and pungent soil aromas emerge. Aromatically the wine is perfumed and quite pretty with aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, black tea, and brambles. Fine strawberry and mineral flavors build on the mid-weight palate and carry over on an admirably long finish. This is a fine and satisfying Savigny-Les-Beaune and recommended for mid-term cellaring. Decant early or hold 3-5 years to allow elements to integrate.
Bize 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières from vines located above Pernand-Vegelesses planted in 1971 and 1974. Stony, dark fruited, hints of spice, damp earth, bright acidity, savory herb notes, appropriately mineral, good concentration. Still a bit circumspect initially, but maintains a nice balance of structural and fruity elements. Not exactly plush at the moment, but the frank earthiness is compelling. Very pretty after an hour of air. Decant now or hold for 2-5 years when things should blossom. There's plenty here for a Bourgogne and I like the energy and mineral character. John McIlwain
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
This Pinot Noir rosé is a blend of the saignée from villages and 1er cru fruit in Maranges, a straight pressing of Hautes Côtes de Beaune fruit, and pellicular maceration of fruit from Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Pale salmon in color and oh-so-fresh, the 2016 Sakura is a bit lighter than the very ripe 2015, with racy minerality, bright acidity, and vivid fruit. The nose combines fresh strawberry, cherry, and crushed herbs, while the refreshing palate features wild strawberry, savory minerality, and a lively, somewhat spicy finish. Try this perfect summer quaffer with marinated goat cheese, grilled chicken, or a salad made with heirloom tomatoes and fresh local greens. John McIlwain
From a 4.8HA parcel of old vines closer to the center of the village. The 2012 Pommard 1er cru Grand Clos des Épenots shows pretty aromas of strawberry, dark cherry syrup, grilled meat, iron, and anise. Layered flavors of wild cherry, plum, and black tea, with firm ripe tannins and a long, persistent, deeply earthy finish. This is a prime candidate for aging. 10-15 years in the cellar and this should be singing. John McIlwain
La Chapelle is a "climat" within Les Breterins and Reugne, on the steep slope of la Montagne de Bourdon, facing south/southeast. The vines are well-placed in mid-slope and are mostly sixty years-old, giving the most "generous" of the three Lafouge premier crus. The 2014 "La Chapelle" shows a bright red/garnet color and lovely aromas of strawberry and tart cherry - very floral and bright with hints of citrus and earth. There is excellent ripeness on the palate with chalky raspberry and cherry fruit, citrus and mineral flavors - quite elegant and very long with firm acidity, bright red fruits and minerals in the finish. Delicious now served a bit cool with coq au vin, blanquette de veau or rabbit, probably best from 2020 to 2030 - kudos to Jean and Gilles Lafouge for another lovely "La Chapelle!" DL
This is one of our favorite, if somewhat unknown, estates in Burgundy. Jean Lafouge and his son Gilles make classic, balanced, beautiful Burgundies at affordable prices and their village level Auxey-Duresses is always lovely and a great value. The 2014 is slightly riper than usual with lovely aromas of strawberry and tart cherry, with violet, rose, citrus and spice. Medium-bodied, with citrusy red fruits on the palate with great balance and refreshing acidity, the wine shows hints of earth and mineral that will develop nicely with time. Lovely now, especially if decanted well in advance, and a great pairing with poultry, white meats and mild cheeses. This has the weight and structure to cellar well, best perhaps in 5 to 8 years. David Lillie
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. From a small parcel of old vines, the Lafouge 2014 Chanlins shows beautiful aromas of bright red fruits - raspberry, tart cherry and wild strawberry - with earth, citrus, rose, brown spice and game. Lovely tart red fruits on the palate with firm acidity and intense chalky minerality that coats the palate on the long finish. This is a lovely, pure and elegant old-fashioned Burgundy - delicious now with its bright, youthful fruit, best probably 2022 to 2032. DL
Les Duresses, according to Jasper Morris, is the best placed vineyard in Auxey-Duresses, on a steep south-east facing slope that continues into Monthelie. This wine is always well-structured, a bit less forward than Lafouge's La Chapelle and it ages beautifully.
Jean and Gilles Lafouge have produced a delicious "village" Auxey-Duresses in 2015 - those looking for value in red Burgundy should stock-up on this lovely wine! Tasted before bottling in January 2017 the wine showed a lovely bright garnet color with very pretty aromas of tart cherry and wild strawberry with violet and citrus. There is lovely ripeness on the palate with ripe cherry and red currant with nice concentration and balance, and a long finish with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. This will drink beautifully as a young wine, and over the next five to eight years. Given the reasonable price, this is highly recommended! DL
From old vines on fairly deep iron-rich soils south of the village in three different parcels, Les Boutieres, Les Citernes and Les Combes. Always a ripe, powerful wine, the 2014 Rapet Aloxe-Corton is well-structured for aging and beautifully balanced with firm acidity and the pretty fruit of this vintage that was saved by ample sunshine from mid-August into October. The wine shows elegant aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry with hints of violet and earth. On the palate there is an intense fusion of mineral flavors with ripe blackberry and red currant fruit, sappy and long, framed in firm acidity and ample tannin. This is a big, age-worthy Aloxe that will be quite beautiful when mature, best perhaps 2020 - 2030 and beyond. Quite enjoyable now in its intense youth, decant well in advance or open the night before... David Lillie
Upon opening Rapet's Grèves is a bit circumspect: initially showing a lot of hedge fruit, wood smoke, soil notes. Nose and palate open to reveal dark fruits, a bit of bramble, sous-bois, spice, cherry pit, and mineral spice. Some structure here, but with fine poise. There's a lovely sweetness within the tannins which bodes well for some time in the cellar to allow all the elements to knit. Near term patience should be well rewarded. Decant now or cellar for 3-5 years and enjoy over the next 10 years. Made a fine pairing with a salad of frisée, duck confit, toasted pecans, and a sherry vinaigrette. John McIlwain
Ile des Vergelesses is certainly one of the best premier cru vineyards in Burgundy - a perfectly exposed mid-slope vineyard on limestone and iron-rich soils, steep enough for ideal drainage, producing wines that age beautifully for 15 to 20 years - considered by many to be grand cru quality. The 2014s from Vincent Rapet are lovely, beautifully balanced wines. The 2014 Ile des Vergelesses shows very bright perfume of wild strawberry, black raspberry, rose, pepper and licorice. The palate is very dense with elegant, chalky red fruits that coat the palate. This should develop beautifully - it's perfectly balanced at 13% alcohol with firm acidity - well structured for aging. Fun to taste now, especially if decanted or opened the night before, probably best 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
From vines grown in the calcareous clay soils of Les Reversées premier cru toward the bottom of the hill in the center of the slope by Les Teurons. The 2008 shows the cool-toned precision of the vintage. The nose displays dusty black cherry and hedge fruit aromas with notes of herbs and wood smoke. The palate is overtly mineral and savory, with complex soil notes and crushed herbs giving way to more cherry fruit, red currant, orange peel, iron and spice on a mid-weight and persistent finish. This still has a bit of structure to resolve, but it is intriguingly sapid, and satisfyingly earthy. Best now with a decant, better still in 3-5 years. This would pair beautifully with hanger steak and shallots, pasta with wild mushrooms, or roasted guinea hen. John McIlwain
Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2014 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) shows beautiful aromas of cherry and berry fruits with rose, blood orange and brown spice. The palate is chalky, ripe and sapid while remaining light and fresh with berry fruits and tart citrusy acids. This develops nicely with aeration, becoming more supple and round, and finishes with stone, mineral and ripe fruits. Serve this delicious wine a bit cool with any mild chicken or white meat dish and goat cheeses, morbier, tomme de savoie. This should age nicely, best perhaps 2020 - 2026.
Jean-Claude Rateau has a large parcel in the 1er Cru Les Bressandes on a steep slope facing east with pebbly clay/limestone soils, conducted in biodynamic farming since 1979. The soil is warm and well-drained giving ripe, structured wines. There is a 21-day cuvaison with manual cap-punching followed by 18 months in old barrels.Even with the minimal extraction practiced at the estate, the 2015 Bressandes shows a dense red/black color and aromas of black cherry and ripe strawberry, quite deep with sous-bois, violet, graphite and citrus. The palate is dense and chalky with blackberry, earth, cocoa and minerals with terrific length of red currant, earth and juicy acidity. At 14% alcohol the wine still seems balanced and frames the copious fruit in ample acidity and tannin. This is a beautiful wine that will give great pleasure in it's youth and should be a superb mature wine as well, perhaps until 2032 and beyond. DL
Generous black cherry, boysenberry, notes of cherry pit and anise on nose. Ripe mid-weight palate, ripe black fruits, hints of iodine and iron and other soil beneath supple structure. Succulent acidity and savory mineral notes offset the ripeness and lend energy and drive on a rich, palate-coating finish. This has good punch, even if it's more generous than I associate with very young Rateau. The purity of fruit and earth notes are finely balanced and this is an excellent Burgundy for the mid-term. A fine pairing with braised chicken thighs with mustard, tarragon, and shallots. A great value from the pioneer of biodynamic Burgundy! John McIlwain
Bright and high-toned, red-fruited on the nose. Lovely red cherry, ripe raspberry, and wild strawberry flavors on a velvety, lissome palate with a rising, energetic finish. This is a pretty, rather than powerful expression of La Fussière and a delicious natural Burgundy. Tasty now, should make for immensely pleasurable drinking with a few years in the cellar. John McIlwain
From 3 parcels of old vines in clay and limestone soils of the Les Saunières lieu-dit beneath Clos Rousseau. The 2015 Santenay has a medium-dark robe and is densely aromatic, with scents of violets, black fruits, and game. The rich palate is deep and layered offering flavors of blackberry, plum, five-spice, with and underlying mineral character featuring notes of iron and salt on a expressive, lingering finish. This is a sensational Santenay and will pair beautifully with veal scallops and morels, coq au vin, or steak off the grill. If drinking now decant of hold for 7-10 years. John McIlwain
Located beneath Bousse d'Or and between the Champans and En l'Ormeau climats in the center of the village of Volnay, Carelle Sous la Chapelle (the square beneath the chapel) shares some of the fruity character of Champans with a bit more structure. The 2013 has a lovely melange of wild blackberry, black currant, rose petal, and game aromas on the nose. There's a fine balance of fruit and savory minerality on the palate with sappy blackberry vying with soil notes for prominence on the lingering finish. Perhaps not as structured as some vintages, but this has plenty of drive and should be immensely satisfying with a few years in the bottle. This pairs beautifully with braised duck dumplings and is a prime choice to accompany a chicken fricassee with plenty of mushrooms. John McIlwain
The 2013 Volnay Vieilles Vignes from Joseph Voillot is marked by the generosity of the vintage. Pure fruit and freshness (not to mention exuberant energy) are hallmarks of the year. Perfumed with aromas of cherry blossom, Morello cherry, baking spices, and black tea on nose. Positively lovely wild cherry fruit and red currant fruit, with supple tannins and a touch of that mineral zang on the supple finish. This is lifted rather than brooding, but has the stuffing for mid-term aging and should evolve beautifully for the next 7-10 years. John McIlwain
From 50 year old vines in four parcels below the village of Volnay. Cherry, iron, a bit backwards on opening, notes of black tea, freshly turned soil and rose emerge on the nose with air. There is a deft interplay between the bright hedge fruit and stony earth notes on the detailed, mid-weight palate. This is a fine Bourgogne, with enough savory elements in relation to the charm of the fruit, to warrant a couple of years in the cellar. Delicious with a salad of duck confit with bitter greens. John McIlwain
When it comes to Marsannay, Domaine Bart's selection of crus is an embarrassment of riches. Au Champ Salomon, one of their best, is located in a prime spot on the mid-slope, producing wines which marry power with elegance and longevity. The grapes from 35-year-old plus vines are hand harvested, fermented with native yeasts, aged for 18 months in barrel, of which approximately 30% are new. The 2015 Champ Salomon shows its relation to Gevrey-Chambertin next door with aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with earth and spice. The palate is dense and rich, with ripe cherry and blackberry fruit over earthy, mineral-laden acidity. This young Burgundy will accompany a steak or grilled pork, served cool, best held for three to five years for a mature experience...
It's no secret that the Jean Chauvenet's 2012 Nuits St. Georges Les Perrières was one of my favorite red Burgundies of the vintage. The 2013 is another winner for the domaine. Chauvenet's Christope Drag farms a .23 hectare parcel of old vines high on the slope adjacent to Les Poulettes and Les Poirets between the holdings farmed by Henri Gouges and Regis Forey. The particularly stony soils retain heat and Christophe says this is typically the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Personally I find it the most effusively perfumed of his wines with his Vaucrains a close second. The bouquet of the 2013 leaps from the glass, with floral aromas, red fruits, and pretty wild berry aromas, giving way to spices and soil notes. The palate is equally fresh, with red berry, strawberry, Morello cherry, and pipe tobacco flavors giving way to a chalky minerality. There is fine energy and cut to this which carries through on a long, lingering, and building finish. This is certainly a pretty expression of Nuits St. Georges, but has the tannins and acidity to age with grace. John McIlwain
From the vines planted in southern portion of Damodes planted in 1949 and 1956. There are 40cm of brown gravely clay over mother rock. Medium dark robe. The nose is offers an array of dark fruit and floral notes with hints of grilled meat. The palate is distinctly mineral, with salty, reminiscent of iodine flavors giving way to wild blackberry fruit and very fine, velvety tannins. With are the structure builds, but the fruit keeps pace on a long, rising finish. This should drink on the earlier side and pair beautifully with magret of duck or grilled ribeye with herb butter. John McIlwain
From a .17 HA plot of 60-year-old vines in above Perrieres, on a natural wall of calcaire, or limestone. The name Les Poulettes derives from the small game birds found in the area. Christophe Drag notes the site is very warm and sees little wind, so is the first to flower and first harvested. The 2013 shows aromas of blackberry blossoms, dark hedge fruit, and cool herbal notes on the nose. The palate is black-fruited, offering wild blackberry and dark cherry flavors framed by a distinctive mineral edge on a bright, lifted finish. There's a fine balance of structure and fruit and this should drink beautifully in the near term, though I'd wager given time to integrate the elements, there is nice upside for midterm cellaring. Enjoy with mushroom dishes and certainly squab or poussin! John McIlwain
From a .41 HA parcel of old vines next to Chaboeufs on the north side of Vaucrains. The soils are brown, "fat clays make it hard to work the earth" according to vigneron Christophe Drag, with large oolithic stones are the top of the slope. Always the sternest and most majestic of Chauvenet's crus, the 2013 is aromatically dense with layered dark-fruit, game, and spice aromas giving way to pungent soil notes. The palate is similarly complex with pure black cherry, plum, and earthy flavors underlain with distinctively savory, verging on pungent mineral component on a muscular, driving, persistent finish. There are substantial acidity and ripe tannins girding this masculine, but not coarse Vaucrains, which will benefit with time in the cellar. Decant now, better still in 7-10 years when this should sing. A beautiful Vaucrains! John McIlwain
From 90 year-old vines in the village portion of Combe d'Orveau. The 2014 is a classic expression of Chambolle-Musigny with pretty high-toned aromas of red fruit, rose petals, and spice. The mid-weight palate is silken and flavors of ripe red cherry, wild raspberry, and chalk dance on a long, fresh, precise finish. This is lovely and a fine value in Chambolle. John McIlwain
From 45+ year-old vines from 4 hectares in many parcels. 30% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 20% new oak.This is a beautiful Gevrey that can be enjoyed in its youth, showing very floral and bright aromas of morello cherry and wild strawberry with spice and earth, really quite pretty. The palate is beautifully balanced and bright with supple cherry and strawberry fruit, showing lovely ripeness with a finish that is long and pure with berry fruits and stony acids. A lovely wine that is delicious now, best 2020 to 2030+.
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Always giving an earthy and mineral-infused wine, the 2014 is a bit more fruit-forward but is still primarily a Burgundy of terroir. There is reduction when first opened so please decant or open in advance. With aeration the wine shows subtle aromas of red currant, strawberry and tart cherry with violet, brown spice and earth - really quite complex and pretty. The palate is well-structured with chalky mineral flavors underlying the earthy raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is long with firm acidity and mineral notes. This is a lovely and beautifully balanced Burgundy for those who enjoy minerals as much as fruit! Note: The wine improves dramatically over 3 to 4 days, re-corked in the fridge, for those with enough patience - or cellar for five to fifteen years.
From 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2014 Gevrey shows a light red/black color, aromas of morello cherry, red currant and raspberry with hints of earth, stone, violets, black pepper and licorice. The palate is dense but light with cherry, red-currant, earth, citrus and mineral flavors with berry fruits and saline minerals lingering in the finish. Ripe but not a fruit-bomb - a red Burgundy of terroir that is delicious now, but should become a beautiful, old-fashioned wine when mature, best perhaps 2021 - 2030. On day two the wine has deepened with very sappy black and red fruits, quite dense and earthy. Lovely wine from living soils and quite a different style than modern Burgundies. David Lillie
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny", high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Four barrels of 2014 Fonteny were produced, of which one was new. Tasted last February the wine showed dense, deep strawberry and black chery fruit with round supple tannins and a very long firm, palate coating finish. Re-tasted in November 2016, the round strawberry fruit is framed in chalky minerals, quite dense and palate-coating, balanced with soft tannins - a very young wine that will be delightful to drink now but best to wait five to ten years for the velvety complexity to come, best perhaps 2021 to 2035. David Lillie
Jane and Sylvain have done it again! Another beautiful Passetoutgrain from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Gamay, grown near Gevrey-Chambertin, organically farmed and quite delicious! The 2015 shows ripe aromas of tart cherry and raspberry liqueur with earth and violets. The palate is lively and bright with morello cherry and raspberry with stone, tobacco and citrus, quite vibrant and long. Really a refreshing and delicious wine, perfect for picnics and barbecues, served quite cool. This is a fantastic value and highly recommended.
Jane et Sylvain: A refreshingly unpretentious name for a small organic estate in Gevrey-Chambertin. Their Bourgogne Rouge is from young vines in a parcel that has never been chemically treated and always tended organically. The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge shows a brilliant red/black color with lovely tart cherry, raspberry and violet aromas, very high-toned and bright. The palate shows the ripeness of 2015 with pretty strawberry and cherry fruit backed by firm acidity, and it finishes with refreshing citrus and red fruits. Serve this lovely Pinot Noir quite cool over the next five years - it's a delicious wine and a great value!
From low-yielding vines located in Comblanchien (probably more famous for its quarries and eponymous limestone than viticulture), planted in the 1960s by Antoine Lienhardt's grandfather. Les Essards is a short distance from another of Antoine's lieux dits, Les Plantes Aux Bois. There is a thin layer of rocky clay topsoil over Comblanchien limestone and the vine rows run from east to west. A bit circumspect upon opening, decanting reveals red plum and ripe cherry aromas with hints of mustard seed and black tea on the nose. The palate is nervy with bright flavors of brambly red fruit, vibrant acidity, and a pungent, verging on saline minerality on a persistent, and detailed finish. Great lift and purity with wonderful interplay between the pure red fruit and distinctly stony elements. Decant if planning to drink now or cellar for 3-7 years to allow the elements to integrate. John McIlwain
A mere 200 meters from Les Essards, Les Plantes Aux Bois has clay top soils overlying the hard limestone mother rock. The nose is generous, perfumed, and dark-fruited with aromas of black raspberry and plum giving way to notes of game and spices. Flavors of blackberry, cassis, and plum dominate on the ripe, mid-weight palate. There is good freshness, with bright acidity providing lift and drive on a long, lingering, cool-toned finish. Lovely with a quick decant, but plenty of material to justify mid-term cellaring. Delicious! John McIlwain
Les Sentiers premier cru is located on the north side of Chambolle-Musigny, beneath the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru and between the Les Baudes and Les Ruchots premier crus. Medium dark robe. The 2013 Les Sentiers shows a nice balance between fruit and earth. Raspberry, violet, spices, with hints of game and herb on the nose. Dark cherry, black tea, and blood orange peel on the sappy, yet chalky, mineral palate. As befits the cru's proximity to Bonnes Mares, this is a more masculine expression of Chambolle-Musiginy. There's good concentration of fruit here, in addition to distinct terroir delineation; with still more to be revealed as the structure resolves itself further. Decant now or better still, hold for 5 to 15 years. John McIlwain
This is a great Bourgogne Passetoutgrain from the young and very capable Stephane Magnien, whose great vineyard work and un-forced vinifications are producing superb, elegant Burgundies. The 2014 Cuvée Densité is from older vines of Pinot Noir and Gamay and gets a longer élevage than his "regular" Passetoutgrain. The palate is round and elegant with cherry and strawberry compote and earthy flavors but it's well-structured and refreshing with nice finishing acidity—really a lovely everyday Burgundy at a great price! Serve cool and enjoy. Decant for best drinking or open the day before as this "serious" Passetoutgrain will benefit from aging....
This a wonderful expression of Les Sentiers, aromatically expressive and layered. There are bright aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violets, woody herbs, and game on the nose. The mid-weight palate initially shows brambly black fruits, and pungent soil flavors. With time in the glass notes of dark cherry and cherry pit appear along with a savory ferrous minerality and spice notes. The tension between fruit and earthiness is compelling and will gain in complexity with time in the cellar. More expressive on the second day. If enjoying now, decant for several hours or revisit in 7-10 years and enjoy for the decade following. John McIlwain
The young and very talented Stephane Magnien is producing delicious, old fashioned Burgundies from his beautifully tended vineyards in and around Morey-Saint-Denis. The estate has never used herbicides and uses a plowing regimen designed to force the roots deeper into the limestone bedrock. The "village" wine is always one of my favorite recommendations in Burgundy due to its elegance, balance, lovely fruit and great value. The 2014 is particularly beautiful, with lovely aromas of strawberry liqueur, black raspberry, violet, blood orange - very floral with hints of earth, brown spice and oak. Great balance of firm acidity and ripe fruit with a touch of oak on the palate showing strawberry, blackberry, citrus and spice over a core of mineral flavors that linger in the long finish. This delicious young Burgundy is lovely to drink now but has all the elements for great medium-term aging - wait a few years then drink until 2030...
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawbwrry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocaolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035.
From two small parcels in "Aux Eletois" (below Grand Cru Griottes) and "les Epointures" (below 1er Cru Clos Prieur) on the more fine and aromatic side of Gevrey.The 2015 shows a lovely bright red/black color with high-toned aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with violet and graphite. The palate is dense and ripe with tart red fruits, very pure and long with hints of licorice and citrus with a chalky mineral backbone. Drink now to enjoy the lush, bright fruit or cellar five to eight years, then drink until 2030. Lovely wine. DL
We're very excited about the arrival of the superb 2014 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2016 the wine was quite beautiful , if a bit closed, showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. Upon arrival in NY (October 2016), the wine is singing, with aromas of wild strawberry and red currant with white pepper, earth and cocoa. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL (Those who want a bit of the mature experience should: open the bottle, taste - yum - re-cork and put in fridge; wait three days, enjoy!) Featured in the NY Times "20 Wines Under $20" 01/12/17
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In 2014, the Baudrys produced superb wines with perfect balance and lovely, pure fruit. Their precise vinifications, matched to each different terroir, with no new oak, minimal sulfur, and elevage of the right length and in the right barrel, foudre or vat, gave elegant and delicous results. The 2014 Clos Guillot is a black/purple color with red rim, showing intense aromas of red currant, boysenberry, blackberry, fines herbs, citrus and stone with hints of dark chocolate and musk. The palate shows bright, lush, sappy red and black fruits with bright acidity lifting the flavors and coating the palate with citrusy red fruits, saline minerals and wet stone. Beautiful wine! Case quantities are possible, but don't delay. DL
(Tasted in January 2016) From 50 to 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2014 is certainly one of the greatest "les Grézeaux" from this wonderful estate! Beautiful deep red/black color, lush, complex palate of ripe dark fruit with perfect balance and fabulous length, with cool acidity lifting the fruit. As always the "les Grézeaux" is enjoyable young as the gravel soil gives a wine with a silky texture, but it ages beautifully as well, as anyone with the 1989 can tell you. This is a must for any lover of Chinon!
From 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. The wine shows aromas of ripe raspberry and strawberry with hints of earth, stone, pepper and herbs. The palate is quite mineral with firm stony acids underlying lush berry fruits, and is beautifully balanced at 12% alcohol. Quite structured for "les Granges," this is delicious now, served cool, with roast chicken, white meats, charcuterie and mild cheeses and will imporve with 3 to 5 years of aging.
Andre-Michel Bregeon is one of the heros of Muscadet, having continued with hand-harvesting and natural fermentations while everyone else went to machines and chemicals, and is partly responsible for the return to quality of this potentially great region. His last vintage is 2011, as he is now in semi-retirement and the estate is directed by the very capable Fred Lailler. The 2011 Muscadet Reserve spent 30 months sur lie and is a beautiful wine! The wine shows superb, conplex aromas typical of the Gabbro soils, with lemon oil, almond, pear, powdered stone and mushroom. The palate is dense and very mineral with pear, citrus, almond and herbal flavors that continue on the long finish with firm acidity, white fruits and stone. This is a unique and distinctive Muscadet that will drink beautifully over the next ten to fifteen years. Three cheers for Michel Bregeon!!! DL
From old vines on the upper slopes of Bourgueil, where the clay over Turonien chalk gives magnificent long-lasting wines. Vinified with zero sulfur-dioxide, the 2010 Nuits D'Ivresse has deep aromas of strawberry confit, earth and spice. The palate is round but balanced and fresh. Buy a case and drink half now, wait 5 to 8 years for the rest. "It's a search for purity of fruit according to the principals of Jules Chauvet, a wine of "Pure Origine" without additives."
Tasted twice in February 2016 and 2017, the 2011 Les Perrières has impressed both times with it's structure and complexity, showing dense, deep earthy red fruits with meaty and herbal notes. There is ample tannin for aging, but there is good ripeness that opens up nicely with decanting. This superb Bourgueil will accompany grilled pork and beef and full-flavored cheeses. Decant 3 to 4 hours in advance if serving now, or cellar - best perhaps 2020 to 2030. DL
One of our favorite Loire reds, the Breton Nuits D'Ivresse is a selection of old vines on a terroir of clay and limestone. The wine is vinified, aged and bottled without the addition of sulfur, preserving it's lovely fruit aromas. The 2012 has complex somewhat "sauvage" red fruit and earthy notes and a medium-bodied palate. 2012 is a lovely vintage for Loire reds with vibrant fruit and bright acidity making them great food wines — carafe, serve cool and enjoy with charcuterie, pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses...
This delicious Bourgueil is from young vines on clay and gravel soils over limestone, harvested by hand into small baskets and vinified to extract the primary aromas. Trinch is particularly yummy in 2015, a sunny vintage bringing wines with lush, supple fruit, and a bit less acidity than the norm. The color is dense red/black with deep aromas of blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate with a hint of roast meat. Intense black fruits on the palate with earthy, saline minerals, musk and citrus, very supple and ripe with a nice bright finish. This is a great thirst-quenching Bourgueil to serve cool with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses.
The 2010 Le Clos from Vincent Careme is a superb off-dry Vouvray (20 grams/liter of RS) that is a bit softer than the wonderful 2008, showing brilliant aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really lovely! 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 fish or chicken in sauce, foie gras and mild cheeses, or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience...
Our friend Francois Pinon feels that the best expression of Chenin Blanc is often somewhere between sec and demi-sec, sometimes called "Tradition," and this lovely wine, at 14 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol, fits the bill perfectly. The Clos Habert is a 3 hectare parcel on clay with silex stones ("Les Peruches") over the white limestone Tuffeau. Full and elegant with white fruits, citrus and stone, this beautfully structured and crystalline Chenin Blanc will accompany fish and chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses and will age wonderfully for fifteen to 20 years.
The Domaine du Closel "Caillardières" is a demi-sec Savennières that we have enjoyed immensely in the past - we're glad to see it back in the US and we can't wait to try it! "The grapes are harvested later ; the berries are golden, producing wines with aromas of baked apple, exotic fruits, raisins and toasted almonds. That terroir gives the wine a very silky texture, characteristic of these sandstone schist parcels. This wine is vinified and aged in barrels (French oak, 12 months) and reveals through natural micro-oxygenation this slightly bitter aftertaste that will give an interesting body to the wine. Rather smooth on the palate this wine has character. It pairs very well with artichokes or asparagus, other vegetables difficult to pair with wine. It is also popular with sweet and savory dishes such as veal stew with orange, monkfish with honey and cider vinegar, roasted pork with pineapple." - from the Domaine du Closel website.
The 2015 Clos du Papillon has just arrived in NY - it promises to be a great vintage for this wonderful Savennières, certainly one of the top wines of the appellation. We will post a tasting note ASAP, meanwhile here is information from the domain's website: "The Clos du papillon is a small valley at mid slope, beautifully exposed southwest to the light of the Loire. There are schist, rhyolite but also quartz. The topsoil layer is very shallow (60 cm) which provides excellent drainage for rainwater. The vine growing conditions are difficult, forcing it to develop its roots deep in the rock cracks to draw nutrients. The climate in that parcel allows for a level of highly advanced maturity. With grapes that concentrate aromas under the action of Botrytis. The Clos du papillon is harvested in two selections : The first selection during the « Fresh Fruit aroma » period and the second one later with some botrytis during the « cooked fruit, quince and smoked aromas » period. Both selections are put in barrels and assembled 16 months later. The wine then remains a few months in vats. This assemblage of the two styles of grapes results in a full bodied wine, with a citrus finish on very first attack, followed by sensations of ripe and exotic fruit with a very distinguished touch of bitterness or toasted almonds on the finish. The long aging on the lees gives it a nice smoothness. The « brandy » nose is characterized by aromas of evolution. The body and the very long finish make the Clos du Papillon a gastronomic wine to accompany lobster, scallops, smoked fish, Turbots, Saint Peter. It is also interesting with delicate white meats such as veal or capon, along with truffles or mushrooms. Classic mountain cheeses like old Salers, or 5 to 6 years old Comté are equally delicious with this great Savennières."
2015 is a beautiful vintage for the superb Savennières of Domaine du Closel. La Jalousie shows subtle, complex aromas of citrus peel, pear, almond, stone , lime-flower and honeysuckle which follow through on the perfectly balanced palate. The fruit is lush and ripe but there is great acidity and minerality as well - the wine is elegant and very delicious in its youth, - serve with fish in sauce, scallops, monkfish, chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
The Dauny Family has been farming vineyards in Sancerre since 1683, with Nicole and Christian Dauny being the 12th generation to make wine in this famed appellation. The vineyards were converted to organic agriculture in 1964 and the Daunys strive to work as naturally as possible in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. The rosé Pynoz comes from younger vines of Pinot Noir, and is quite a rich, full-bodied and textured expression of rosé. Dominated by red-fruit, strawberry, and under-ripe raspberry, there is a touch of herbaceousness and an underlying stony minerality that balances the wine. Oskar Kostecki
This offering from Deboutbertin is 100% Grolleau from a parcel on Schiste and sandstone, from vines that were planted in 1950. The vineyard is tiny, at 25 ares (a bit more than a half-acre), and yields are quite low, at about 20hl/ha. The 2015 is a bit more elegant than the previous vintage, with really fine tannin and a long finish. There's a hint of "barnyard" on the nose, with plenty of the vibrant fruit on the palate, and though it's relatively dark in the glass, at 10.5% alcohol, it's super easy to drink! Serve with a slight chill. Eben Lillie
Proprietor Denis Jamain has taken this estate to new levels of quality with organic and biodynamic farming. The 2014 Pierres Plates shows lovely aromas of grapefruit and pear with fresh herbs, lime flower and stone. The palate is ripe with dried pear, citrus, herbal, smoke and mineral flavors balanced by firm acidity. This is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc (better than most Sancerres) to serve with broiled fish, chicken, quiches/omelettes and goat cheeses.
The wines of Denis Jamain at the Domaine de Reuilly are getting better and better - his 2016 Rosé of Pinot Gris is from vines in conversion to organic and biodynamic certification, fermented with wild yeasts. The color is a lovely pale onion skin, the aromas are floral and pretty with gooseberry, peach and citrus. Light berry, peach and stone flavors on the palate are framed in firm acidity. With good ripeness, but subtle and balanced, this unique rosé will accompany a wide variety of foods, from fish to grilled meats and Asian foods, and it's lovely to sip by itself!
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Happily, Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in semi-retirement, with his new associate Fred Niger Van Herck. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2015 "Granite" is particularly outstanding. As usual with this cuvée it's a bit musty and closed when first opened — decanting is advised — followed by aromas of lemon peel, dried pear, wet stone and lime-flower with hints of almond and petrol. The palate is dense and very long in this ripe vintage with intense stony flavors, pear, citrus and anis. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2020 to 2029. Serve this summer with oysters, cod and sole, then with richer dishes after the wine matures. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
A delicious demi-sec Chenin Blanc from Alain and Christine Bore! Honey-tinged and luscious on the nose with baked peaches, mango, pineapple, lime zest, heather, red delicious apple skin, and tangerine. Mellow and round on the palate, but balanced with exotic tropical fruits, lemon meringue, salty pineapple, honey, and Marcona almond. Tropical fruit and grapefruit endure on the finish, along with a sweetness that is never cloying. Pair with all kinds of dessert, but a summery fruit tart would be best! Tim Gagnon
This is a full-bodied and very delicious Cabernet Franc from our organic friends Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. The wine shows intense aromas of blackberry liqueur with hints of black pepper, bitter chocolate, roast meats and licorice. The palate is very ripe and supple with blackberry and black-cherry fruit framed in firm acidity. The finish is long with mineral and berry flavors with juicy acidity. Great for current drinking, served cool, or short-term cellaring. Serve with anything grilled, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
This Sauvignon Blanc comes from biodynamically farmed grape vines very close to the more famous appellation of Sancerre in the eastern Loire Valley. A far cry from the crisp and facile Sancerres that have given the appellation and the grape their reputations, this wine offers complex aromas of lemon thyme and lemon balm, a delicious melding of citrus and herbal aromas, and nice density in the mid-palate.
This Brut Nature from Domaine les Grandes Vignes is a blend of Gamay and Groslot in Biodynamic farming, naturally vinified with zero sulfur added. Dark pink garnet color; lovely aromas of red currant, candied strawberry and violets. Soft bubbles with ripe red currant and berry fruits - quite rich but dry and balanced, really delicious! Serve as an aperitif or with a meal - perect at a picnic with chicken or veggies. Bravo to the Vaillant family for great farming and natural vinifications.
If you have a sweet tooth, this Chenin is for you! Bonnezeaux is one of a few sweet wine appellations in the Loire Valley, where grapes are required to be over-ripe, and are sometimes affected by noble rot. "Le Malabé" has about 130 grams of residual sugar, but I honestly thought it was about 80g when I first tasted this wine, thanks to the high acidity and the ample minerality that the schiste soils provide. Just bringing the wine to the nose, one is greeted with honey, quince and with some subtle sweet spice aromas that tickle the senses. On the palate, it's dense, ripe and absolutely delicious. Francois from Grandes Vignes mentioned to me that 2013 was OK for reds in the Loire, very good for their dry Chenin Blanc, and exceptional for the sweet wines. Case in point! Drink now if you're craving sometime sweet, or age for decades. Eben Lillie
This is a Methode Ancestrale sparkling white of Grolleau Gris, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Disgorgement is after about 6 months on the lees, and the wine is made without added sulfur. It's dry and delicious - a great aperitif and a really versatile sparkler that will pair well with a wide variety of foods and is equally enjoyable and charming on it's own. Eben Lillie
Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in amphora with no sulfur added. It's not a common occurrence, but we're very happy to have the opportunity to share this unique wine. The nose is floral, and stony, with hints of stone fruit, but the really fascinating aspect of the wine is the texture. Just letting the wine sit on the palate, I experienced earthiness (possible, but rare for a white wine), crystalline acidity, density in the mid-palate, and a long, mineral finish. Highly recommended for Chenin aficionados and those who are interested in the growing category of amphora wines. Eben Lillie
This is Anjou Cabernet Franc from gravel/schist and sandy clay soils. The grapes undergo 3 days of maceration followed by aging in 2-3 year-old barrels, and the wine is bottled without filtration or added sulfur. It's quite funky on the nose, almost deceivingly so, as it's totally pure on the palate. Plenty of red fruit, spice, eucalyptus, and earth... really classic Cab Franc in many ways, but with a little edginess. Eben Lillie
This is a beautiful Cab Franc from Marc Houtin at la Grange aux Belles in Anjou. In a very diferent style than in Chinon or Bourgueil, the wine shows lovely aromas of black raspberry, strawberry and prune with earth, musk and blood orange. The palate is supple and silky with a melange of black and red fruits, cocoa and violet with nice lifting acidity. Light but dense with good length and a very pretty finish of velvety red fruits and refreshing acidity. Lovely wine! Serve cool over the next five years or so, with roast chicken, pork and middle-eastern dishes.
From 40 to 80 year-old vines on clay over limestone soils around Benais in Bourgueil. Certified organic since 1965! By now the great work of Stephane Guion needs no introduction to CSW customers, but the quality of his 2014 Cuvée Prestige deserves special attention. The wine is perfectly balanced, with the high acidity and mineral content always present in Stephane's wines framed by precisely ripe and supple fruit with depth and elegance. The aromas show raspberry and blackberry liqueur with hints of dark chocolate, earth and licorice, ripe but bright. Supple, ripe berry fruits on the palate with fine tannins and citrusy acids, deep and intense but forward and delicious now. This wine will drink beautifully over the next 20 years or longer and is highly recommended.
From 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). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18 month elevage ; 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. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stephane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2015 Cuvèe Domaine is from young (15 to 40 year-old) vines on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is one of the finest he has made, certainly equaling the delicious 2014 in a riper style. The wine shows aromas of blackberry confit, dark chocolate and violets - very deep and ripe but still bright with ripe raspberry and earthy hints as well. The palate is medium-bodied and fresh with firm acidity and chalky, saline mineral flavors framing the ripe red and black fruits, which continue in the long earthy finish. 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 beautiful wine that transcends its price and at 12% alcohol shows that ripeness, even in a vintage like 2015, can be achieved without high alcohol. Thanks to Stephane Guion!
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 45 gr/l RS. A very graceful wine. Ripe mango, pineapple stalk, candied grapefruit peel, lychee, and a hint of wool rise from the glass. The palate perfectly balances opulent fruit and sweetness with bright acidity and a scintillating texture. Although approachable now, it'd be great in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
"Le Haut-Lieu—The original Huët vineyard is nearly 9 hectares. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay—and the wines are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu." 2015 Le Haut Lieu: 13% alcohol, 6 grams/liter RS, 5.6 gr/l acidity.
Simply put, this is top-shelf Pét-Nat for a picnic-friendly price. From organically farmed Chenin vines (45 years of age on average) in Montlouis-sur-Loire in soils of sand and silex over limestone. All cellar operations are by gravity, without pumping, the fermentation is in 3 to 6 year-old barriques of 225 and 400 liters. The wine is vibrant straw yellow and adorned with a fine mousse. The nose reveals aromas of ripe pear, Granny Smith, lime flower, creamy lemon with heather honey and stone. A finely chiseled palate is a bit off-dry with hints of dried pear, apple and anise over a core of saline minerals with terrific length. This is a thirst-quenching Pet-Nat, made without sulfur, that happens to be a serious and elegant wine!
Chenin Blanc from two terroirs in Montlouis - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, yields of 30 hl/ha, aged in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels. The 2015 Premier Rendez-Vous is a beautiful wine. Pale gold color; the aromas are very floral - iris and lime flower with pear, peach, apricot and citrus; the palate is silky and textured with chalky minerals beneath ripe white fruits and citrus peel; the finish is long and tart with refreshing lemony acidity. A delightful wine that is delicious now and will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years. DL
This is a lovely blend of Chenin and Chardonnay from Lise and Bertrand Jousset, showing lime flower, melon, pear and lemon zest aromas. The palate is round and balanced with white fruits, melon, citrus and herbal flavors backed by firm lemony acidity. A delightful and versatile wine that will compliment a wide variety of fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods and mild cheeses. DL
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70 year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2014 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing pure blackberry fruit with earth and licorice with firm mineral acidity. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 to 2030+. Highly recommended. DL
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and femented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate shows earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate with firm citrusy acids. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will acoompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And at $14.99 it's a fabulous value!
The Chinon "Les Deuxelles" from Patrick Lambert is 100% Cabernet Franc from 20 year-old vines on a mix of gravel, clay and sandy soils over limestone. Fermentation with wild yeasts is followed by 6 to 8 months aging in cuve, stainless or cement. Despite being from the very warm 2015 vintage, the Lambert "Deuxelles" is a quite earthy old-fashioned Chinon showing aromas of strawberry, red currant, citrus and earth. The palate is similarly earthy with red fruits, citrus and soil flavors balanced by bright acidity. This is a fabulous value and should be served cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie and mild cheeses.
Quentin Bourse took over a friend’s estate in Azay-le-Rideau after working with many producers in the Loire Valley (notably Domaine Huet in Vouvray) just in time for the 2013 vintage. The estate was already certified biodynamic which is quite rare in Azay, and covers 12 hectares on clay over silica. This rose is made from 100% Grolleau vinified with direct press to a combination of stainless steel and fiberglass tank, native yeast fermentation, and less than 20ppm total sulfur. And (thankfully) comes in a 1 Liter sized bottle. The return of the bull-dog label, for me, signals summer. This is a zippy rose, packed with invigorating tart raspberry, cranberry, and fresh cucumber flavors. Crisp, mineral and perfect for grilling on a hot evening! Amanda Bowman
Jo Landron of Domaine de la Louvetrie tasted on a bottle of 2009 "Les Houx" (the wine formerly known as Hermine D'Or) last winter in Angers. It was a lovely ripe and mature Muscadet and a small quantity has happily arrived in NY. The wine is showing aromas of spiced pear and apple with earth , grilled almond and floral notes. The palate is round with intriguing flavors of pear, marzipan, honeysuckle and stone and finishes with a nice kick of acidity and mineral flavors. Not the usual flavor profile of Muscadet but a lovely wine to serve with monkfish in sauce, roast chicken and full flavored cheeses.
From a superb hillside vineyard on orthogneiss with clay and quartz stones. A great vintage for Jo's Fief du Breil! Yes, the aromatics are a bit more pronounced than in more austere vintages, and there is more presence of citrus and white fruits on the palate, but the wine retains a superb mineral character and the finish is brisk and very long. Simply a great Muscadet — drinking this alongside the Pepiere Clos des Briords would be a great lesson in the terroirs of the Pays Nantais! Tasted in February 2016, the wine is still youthful although the aromas are opening a bit, with intense minerality on the palate and fabulous length. Delicious now, this will be fabulous in 2025! Brisk enough for oysters and clams, perfect with cod, sole and flounder, complex enough for monkfish and swordfish - hurry down to Blue Moon Fish at the Greenmarket this Saturday!
Jo Landron's Fief du Breil is from a beautiful walled vineyard sloping towards the Sèvre, with clay, sand and quartz stones over a bedrock of orthogneiss. The vines average 40 to 50 years of age, the vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic and gives very low yields. Always one of our favorite Muscadets, even in the difficult 2013 vintage, the wine shows lovely aromas of citrus, pear and almond with hints of fresh herbs and wet stone. The palate shows elegant white fruits and mineral flavors with lemon peel, white pepper and a long stony finish. Drink now with oysters, grilled fish and roast chicken, or hold, not for long-term cellaring but it will open up nicely over the next ten years. (Importer's close-out, sorry no further inventory.)
The vineyards for the Cuvée Domaine are situated on a high plateau with varied soils of sandy clay with amphibolite stones or quartz with subsoils mostly of gneiss, certified organic, with Biodynamic methods. This Spring bottling received 6 months of sur-lie aging and shows the ripeness and balance of 2015, somewhat in the style of 2004. Quite dense with aromas of citrus and white fruits with stone and floral notes. The palate shows pear and stone with citrus and white pepper with firm acidity, quite refreshing. This will accompany shellfish, sushi and mild fish dishes and is full and round enough to enjoy on it's own, or with chicken and other light meals. It's a sensational value!
The Luneau-Papin "L D"Or" is from old vines in a hillside parcel on a south-facing slope with granite subsoil. This is always one of the most elegant and age-worthy Muscadets, which drinks beautifully as a somewhat austere young wine, and opens up gracefully over its 20 to 30 year lifespan. The 2000 shows subtle, quite complex aromas of pear, stone, melon, almond, crême brulée and honeysuckle . The palate shows a firm, youthful structure with citrusy acidity balancing ripe pear, stone and mineral flavors with almond and anise. While not possessing the depth and intensity of the best vintages, this is a lovely 16+ year-old wine that will continue to develop over the next ten years. (Serve cool, not too cold!)
Another superb vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or. It's a bit rounder and riper than the 2007 perhaps, but with more density of fruit and the acidity and structure to age beautifully. (Somewhat similar in style to the 2009 Pépière Chateau-Thébaud, which also combined the richness of the vintage with outstanding balance and acidity) This is drinking well now with complex aromas including citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is silky and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious and with great structure for a 2009. A good candidate for aging, this seems like a somewhat denser and riper version of the 1995.This is Luneau-Papin's only cuvee on a granite subsoil (granit a deux micas) having a different character than the granite soils in Clisson or Chateau Thebaud. DL
A beautiful L d'Or that shows the remarkable combination of ripeness, balance and great acidity in the 2010 vintage. This wine was surprisingly open and aromatic when tasted in January 2012 but possessed of perfect acidity and loads of saline mineral flavors, reminding us of 2002.
From 45+ year-old vines in a 2.5 hectare parcel on micaschistes, in the village of Le Landreau. 2015 is a great vintage for the Luneau-Papin "Clos des Allées," showing subtle aromas of lemon, pear, stone, fines herbes and sea spray. The palate has a nice citrusy brightness followed by brisk stone and mineral flavors with white fruits, citrus with nice concentration and a silky texture. Lovely finish with pear, citrus and bitter mineral notes - this is a very refreshing and stylish Muscadet that will be perfect with oysters, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses.
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the crunch of the 2014 perhaps, but still a very stylish Muscadet for current drinking and medium-term aging as well. The wine shows complex aromas including pear, citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is crystalline and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious, with a nice bit of crisp, bitter acidity in the finish. A good candidate for aging, this is Luneau-Papin's only cuvee on a granite subsoil (granit a deux micas) having a different character than the granite soils in Clisson or Chateau Thebaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2015 would be perfect today with a filet of sole. DL
Vera Cruz is a new cuvée from Luneau-Papin, from 40 year-old vines on a terroir of schistes and gneiss "a deux micas" in Vallet, farmed with organic and biodynamic methods. A wine of terroir rather than fruit, even in the ripe 2015 vintage, the wine shows elegant aromas of pear, grilled almond, stone and citrus. The palate is dense and very mineral, showing more flavor of earth than fruit, with a lovely finish of stone, minerals and white fruit that coats the palate. Perfect now with fine oysters, grilled dorade, sole, cod and scallops with lemon. Or cellar - this wine should be very interesting in 5 to 15 years. Label inspired by Mondrian and the varied terroirs of Muscadet. DL
One of the very few domaines in Pouilly-Fumé to be certified organic, Jonathan Pabiot is making lovely, balanced wines with subtle fruit, firm acidity and good minerality in the finish. The 2015 is a blend of all three terroirs found at the estate: Kimmeridgian marl, chalky Portlandian, and clay-silex on flint. The vines average 30 years of age, and are planted very densely at 10,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are harvested by hand and machine, fermented with indigenous yeasts and minimal SO2 is used. The wine shows subtle aromas of pear and peach, lime-flower, stone and boxwood. The palate is well-balanced with white fruits, citrus and stone with a bit of smoke and mineral flavors. A versatile and very food-friendly wine - serve with almost any seafood dish, chicken and mild cheeses.
Organic farming on Gabbro soils, hand harvetsing and wild yeast fermntations with no chaptalization produce light, very mineral flavored wines at Domaine Parentiere. The 2014 Muscadet Vieilles Vignes shows intriguing aromas of citrus, ripe melon, almond, anise and stone, quite typical of Muscadet from Gabbro soils. Pear, melon, citrus, and stone flavors continue on the palate with an earthy finish of meyer lemon and firm acidity. At 11.4% alcohol it's light but full-flavored, perfect with oysters of course, but will accompany sole, flounder, cod and richer fish like monk and halibut as well, not to mention roast chicken and mild cheeses. A fabulous value!
The Parentière Fraîcheur Iodée de L'Atlantique, which roughly translates as "Atlantic sea-spray" is made from Gros Plant (aka Folle Blanche) grown on gabbro soils near Vallet in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine region. Domaine de la Parentière is a tiny estate which has been practicing organic agriculture for more than 30 years—the grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with wild yeasts and the wines are never chaptalized, remaining light, mineral and refreshing. The 2014 is a bit softer than usual and shows intriguing aromas of ripe melon, bitter lemon, almond, fresh herbs and stone. The palate is lively and light at 10.2% alcohol with pear, citrus, melon and stone flavors with a fresh lemony finish. This will be very refreshing on a hot day, especially with oysters, prosciutto and melon, terrines, salads and fried fish, etc, etc. Did we say this is an amazing value?
Domaine de la Pépière lost most of their crop to frost in 2016 but was able to produce this excellent Muscadet using grapes normally reserved for the Clisson, Chateau Thébaud and Monnières-Saint Fiacre cuvées as well as fruit purchased from neighboring parcels, harvested and selected by Pépière. (This is the only wine from Pépière in 2016 except for a small amount of Clos des Briords and Gras Moutons.) The 2016 La Pépie shows classic Muscadet aromas of pear, citrus peel, almond and stone with a bit of lime-flower. The palate is dense, with nice ripeness, balanced with firm stony acidity, with flavors of dried pear, citrus, stone and white pepper and finishing with good length of citrusy acids and saline minerals. This is a serious Muscadet that echos the characteristics of the estate's top cuvées. The domaine lost almost 85% of the crop in 2016, but the small amount of wine they did produce is lovely. Our thanks to Marc, Remi and Gwènaëlle for this delicious and well-priced Muscadet.
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river. The granite here is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009 and 2010 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2012 is outstnding as well from this somewhat difficult low-yielding vintage. More austere than the previous vintages, the 2012 shows subtle aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus, almond and stone, quite subtle and elegant. The palate has excellent weight and concentration with firm acidity, without the forward fruit of the 2009 - very tight and mineral in style with terrific length. Fabulous served now with oysters, ceviche of cod, flounder and sole, and grilled fish, This should age beautifully for 20 years and more. Highly recommended. Tasted again in December of 2016, this beautiful Muscadet is beginning to open up a bit, with lovely fruit appearing in the aromas and palate, really drinking well, though obviously a wine that will benefit from another five years of aging, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Beginning in 2005, Marc Ollivier has produced this cuvée from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pepiere vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granite is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine. The 2014" Clisson" is subtle, fine and elegant, and at the same time dense and powerful, yet with only 12% alcohol. The wine shows lovely aromas of lemon zest, fresh herbs, stone and dried pear, apple, very elegant, with hints of pineapple, anise and brown spice. The palate shows nice ripeness, density and weight but remains delicate and fresh with pear, citrus and mineral flavors with a finish that is long and lemony and slightly astringent with food-friendly minerality. The 2014 Clisson is a delightful wine - serve as often as possible with oysters, little-necks, grilled seafood and roast chicken. Put some in the cellar to enjoy over its 20+ year evolution. Thank you Marc, Remi and Gwenaelle for another beautiful wine!
The Clos Roche Blanche Cot is back, now made by new proprietor Julien Pineau. The wine shows bright blackberry aromas with cocoa, violet, roast meat, earth and celery, quite pretty, complex and interesting. Dense black fruits on the palate are lifted by bright acidity. The finish is lovely with blackberry and red currant fruits framed in vivid mineral flavors, complex and long. This is a delicious natural wine that happily continues the work of our friends at Clos Roche Blanche, bravo to Julien Pineau!
Among the first releases from Julien Pineau, the new proprietor at Clos Roche Blanche, is this beautiful and somewhat unusual Cabernet Franc. The wine undergoes a three-week whole-cluster fermentation, followed by aging in old barrels with minimal sulfur. The aromas are subtle and deep with blackberry, red currant, violet, spice, licorice and earth. Lovely round blackberry and strawberry fruit on the palate - earthy, smokey and quite mineral. The wine has unique, very pretty aromas and flavors that are not "typical" of Cabernet Franc . It's a lovely natural wine and a fascinating expression of the living soils at this great estate. David Lillie
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
The grapes for this new cuvee from Francois Pinon used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, on a hill-top directly above the Pinon's cave, much deserves to be bottled on it's own. At 18 grams/liter of residual sugar, 12.4% alcohol and strong acidity, the Deronnieres approaches Demi-Sec in style but with superb minerality and balance. The wine shows subtle aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemons and stones. The palate is very saline and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruits, and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great demi-sec with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully!
Another outstanding Vouvray from our friends François and Julien Pinon in Vallée de Cousse, the 2015 "Trois Argiles" shows subtle, complex aromas of lemon, pear, earth, lime-flower, wet stone and almond. There is a hint of sweetness on the palate, perfectly balanced with firm acidity, with mineral flavors, white fruits, lemon peel and herbal notes. The finish is very long with citrusy acids and saline minerals. this is a beautiful young Vouvray that is delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce, Asian cuisnes, vegetable patés, asparagus and mild cheeses. This will gain complexity and become dryer with age, drink at least until 2050... David Lillie
For years we kept seeing small piles of sparkling rosé lining the walls of Francois Pinon's cellar. Finally we asked — is there enough for a small shipment to NY? And so this delicious blend of Malbec and Grolleau - from vines planted by François' grandfather - finally reached Chambers Street! The 2014 is a very pale orange/pink color with lovely aromas of strawberry, red currant and peach. The red fruits continue on the palate, balanced nicely by earth, citrus and mineral flavors that continue in the refreshing finish. This is a beautiful and crowd-pleasing rosé that's wonderful now and will drink beautifully for many years - a 1990 tasted a few years ago was sensational. Highly recommended. DL
From a plot of very old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2014 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, it's delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
Recent tastings of the Olga Raffault "les Picasses" going back to 1979 have consistently revealed light, very complex and beautiful old wines, still possessing a core of red and black fruits with lovely secondary flavors of mushroom, sous-bois, licorice, and graphite with herbal and vegetal notes. Serve with wild mushrooms, truffle omelet, coq au vin....
Since Olga Raffault’s passing, the estate has been run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. Vineyard work and winemaking practices are very traditional: vineyard maintenance is done by hand, native yeast fermentations, and long, slow élevage in large, neutral oak (sometimes chestnut, a local wood in the region) barrels. Les Picasses is their top vineyard with 50-year-old Cabernet Franc vines planted in hard alluvial clay soils with a chalk limestone base on semi-steep slopes facing south. This is the perfect terroir to showcase classic Chinon aromas of black cherry, currant, cool blueberry fruit, white pepper, and a touch of tangerine. The palate is fresh and vibrant with juicy plum and black cherry fruit dotted with spice. Tannins are quite soft, yet present, and the finish is long and mineral with dark berry fruit. This is an outstanding example of what Cabernet Franc can be! 2010 is a great vintage for this wine, with the depth and structure for long-term aging. Tim Gagnon
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2012 was a quite successful vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2012 Raffault "Les Picasses" is a surprisingly full-bodied wine, showing ripe strawberry, blackberry, and cooked prune with a fabulous earthy core of stone and mineral flavors. The palate is dense with blackberry, prune, citrus, earth, licorice and cocoa with a long fresh finish. Ripe and forward enough to drink now with anything from roast chicken to steak, the 2012 should age beautifully, perhaps best 2020 to 2030 and beyond...? David Lillie
From 25 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. The wine shows subtle aromas of lemon verbena, ripe pear, earth and stone, with hints of anise and melon. The palate is very earthy and mineral with ripe white fruits, citrus, caramel and anise, quite dense and long. This will open up nicely with time. Serve now, decant if possible, with halibut, swordfish, monkfish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses, or hold for ten+ years. This is a lovely Jasnières and a great value!
Every Thanksgiving list needs a Pineau d'Aunis and this year's candidate is the superb "La Belle d'Aunis" from our new friend Sebastien Cornille. As Karina says, it's an "aromatically complex light red" that will be lovely on turkey day, served cool. And consider the pretty "La Guinguette" from Roche Bleue that adds a bit of Gamay and there are excellent options from Clos du Tue Boeuf and Olivier Bonhomme as well.Fans of taut, aromatically complex light reds (think Piedmontese Ruché or a well-crafted carbonic Gamay) take note! Sébastien Cornille has hit it out of the park with this 100% Pineau d'Aunis: freshly cracked pepper and generous rose blossoms on the nose lead into crisp red strawberries, cherries, and sweet plum skins. The snap of tannin on the finish is addictive, bracing the palate for more while the earthiness is pleasingly textural, countering soft, sheer aromatics with a cool mineral crunch. This bottling of what is often used as a blending grape takes full advantage of the clay, silex, and limestone soils and meticulous farming at Roche Bleue to craft a terroir and varietal expressive wine that is a must for lovers of floral, lighter-bodied reds. Delicious served with a slight chill. Karina Mackow
This is a beautiful Chenin Blanc from Sébastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue, from 30 year-old vines on slopes and terraces of clay and silex over limestone, certified organic farming with biodynamic methods. The 2015 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - peach, pear, and kiwi with almond, floral and mineral notes. Dried pear, citrus peel, stone and herbal notes on the palate with terrific density and a quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is a scintillating young Chenin that will open up over the next five to ten years. Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. This is a lovey wine and a great value! DL
100% Chenin Blanc, from 10 - 25 year-old vines on a slope of clay/silex soils on limestone, certified organic. Slow pressing of whole clusters; long fermentations, most in 4 to 6 year-old barriques, the younger vines in cuve inox; elevage in 6 year-old barrels. The Roche Bleue 2015 Jasnières shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate reveals almond, pear, stone and chalky minerals that continue in the very long, tart, very mineral finish. This is a crystalline, complex Jasnières that will benefit from decanting and should age well for ten to fifteen years. Serve now with shellfish, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
Frothy pet nat deliciousness from Sébastien Cornille! 100% direct-press Pineau d’Aunis; it is ever-so-slightly pink in the bottle. After pressing, the juices were fermented in 6-8 year old barrels before being assembled at bottling in November. Secondary fermentation occurred naturally in the bottle and it was finally disgorged in July. It is delicate on the nose with aromas of white peach, red currant, orange blossom, and a hint of cherry. The palate is fresh and invigorating, with perhaps the slightest hint of residual sugar, and loaded with subtle red and yellow fruits, tangerine, hints of spice and a honey-tinged stoniness. It’s a simple wine – fresh, fruity, and easy to drink making it an excellent choice for parties of all kinds. To quote a colleague, “This is the perfect breakfast wine!” Tim Gagnon
This beautiful Saumur-Champigny is from a walled vineyard of old vines in Varrains, certified organic and worked with biodynamic methods as well. The wine shows a deep black/red color and ripe aromas of red currant and blackberry with earth, roast meat and citrus framed in a bit of oak, quite lovely. The palate shows lush, textured blackberry and black cherry fruit with earth and bitter chocolate backed by firm acidity that continues in the long finish. Delicious now served with a coq au vin, grilled steak or park stew, this will age gracefully over the next ten to fifteen years.
The lovely Tessier "Point Nommé" is from 100% Pinot Noir, and is made only in the best vintages. In 2015 the wine is superb, with very floral aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, rose, earth and a hint of citrus and spice. The palate is light but with nice density and weight with flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry framed by very earthy, mineral acidity. The finish is long and refreshing with fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Just delightful! Serve cool with grilled pork and lamb and full flavored cheeses. This will benefit from decanting or three to five years of aging. DL
The "Charbonnerie" is Tessier's better cuvée of Cheverny Blanc, mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay, grown on sandy clay soils over the limestone bedrock. As with all the Tessier wines, the grapes are hand harvested and fermentations are natural with wild yeasts. The wine goes through the malolactic fermentation and is fermented and aged in vats, with minimal SO2 added before bottling. This lovely Cheverny shows pretty aromas of apple and pear, lime-flower, almond and stone. The palate shows subtle white fruit and herbal flavors with a beautiful mineral core, and perfect acidity, quite elegant and pure. While very delicious now, this is a young wine that will open up nicely over the next few years. Serve now with full-flavored oysters, sole, flounder and cod as well as chicken and mild cheeses. In a year or two, serve with fuller-flavored fish and chicken dishes. DL
The Tessier Cheverny Rouge "Le Point du Jour" is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grown on clay/limestone soils. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and cinnamon with violet and citrus. There is a lovely melange of cherry, black raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate that is light and lively but with good density and length. The finish is bright and refreshing with tart fruits and mineral flavors. Serve quite cool with charcuterie, grilled meats and mild cheeses - great on a picnic or summer cookout, drink over the next three or four years. DL
Jean-Paul Labaille continues the great work of his father-in-law Claude Thomas, creating one of the finest Sancerres from vines in "les Monts Damnees," an incredibly steep-south facing hillside in Chavignol on Kimmeridgian limestone and red clay. The 2015 is a great example of this wine, with complex, very elegant aromas of lemon oil, dried pear, apple and quince, lime-flower, boxwood, and stone. Really lovely! The palate is ripe and full but with firm acidity, elegant white fruits, saline minerals, citrus and earth, with just a touch of honeysuckle. Lovely finish of creamy pear and apple with firm acidity. This is a great Sancerre that is drinking beautifully now but don't hesitate to cellar for five to ten years. David Lillie
From Pinot Noir grown on the limestone hills of Chavignol. Lovely very pale pink color, pretty aromas of red raspberry, tart strawberry, citrus and melon. The palate is very crisp and fresh with candied red fruits, citrus and stony acids that continue in the juicy and very mineral finish. This is one of the raciest rosés you can find, very elegant and refreshing - serve quite cool on a hot day with anything grilled, or just sip and enjoy....
From a small parcel of clay and silex on limestone, 2/3 Cot and 1/3 Gamay. 35 year-old vines, organic since 1996, aged in old barrels, large and small. Thierry Puzelat was a pioneer of natural wine-making and he continues with this beautiful "Guerrerie" from the lovely 2014 vintage in the Loire Valley. The wine is extravagantly delicious with wild aromas of raspberry, cherry, violets, mint, pepper and earth. Cool red and black fruits on the palate with plum, citrus, pepper and earthy acidity. Just lovely - serve cool and enjoy! (most likely zero sulfur added)
A Cheverny blend of 1/3rd each of Sauvignon Blanc, Fie Gris (a varient of Sauvignon) and Chardonnay - five to fifty year-old vines on clay/flint soils. Eight months in neutral oak barrels before bottling, with minimal sulfur. Fresh aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, spice and minerals. The palate is dense and riper than usual in this exceptional vintage but is very lively and mineral over the flavors of pear, quince, citrus, spice and stone. Forget about Sancerre, the Tue-Boeuf Frileuse is complex, unusual and remarkably delicious! DL
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 2015, 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...?)
Once again, our friend Hervé Villemade has produced an elegant and delicious Sauvignon Blanc that's a great value as well. The wine shows lovely aromas of pear, melon, lime-flower and boxwood, really pretty, with pear and apple on the palate with stone and lemon confit - perfectly balanced and refreshing. This is a very versatile wine that will accompany almost any seafood or chicken dish or appetizers like prosciutto and melon and goat cheeses. DL
Somehow balancing freshness and bright red fruit with serious structure, this is a knockout from Lemasson. 100% Malbec or "Côt," as they call it in the Loire, this is spicy, earthy, and super finessed. There seems to be ample acidity and tannin here for aging. I know the jury's not out on aging no-SO2 wines, but I will note that I drank a bottle of the 2003 Cheville de Fer with Olivier at his home and it was absolutely breathtaking. A beautiful, mature wine, with fascinating aromas, a silky texture, and a never-ending finish. I remember opening my eyes wide after tasting the '03 and looking over to see Olivier simply nodding his head. He raised his finger and reminded me: "No sulfur!" Eben Lillie
From old vines of Gamay, this is a significant wine in 2015. The nose is vibrant and generous, and the palate is full, with black cherry, leather, earth, and hints of baking spice. It's concentrated and deep, but maintains great balance in the finish. Bravo!Eben Lillie
The Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Pierre and Martin Bart is particularly pretty in this excellent vintage, and is nicely balanced despite the higher ripeness of 2015. The wine shows aromas of morello cherry, raspberry and forest floor with hints of citrus and spice. The palate is lush and dense but quite bright with citrusy acids beneath ripe berry fruits with earth and spice flavors. Nice chalky earth and berry fruits continue in the finish. This is a lovely everyday Burgundy to enjoy slightly chilled - please decant or open an hour or two in advance.
The Vignes du Maynes "Cuvée Auguste" is a superb Burgundy made from massale selection Pinot Fin planted in 1964. The parcel, high on the slope in Cruzille, is on Bathonian limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica. Yields of 20 hl/ha, semi-carbonic fermentation, with zero additives, bottled under nitrogen. 2015 is a superb vintage for the Cuvée Auguste! The wine shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and wild strawberry with hints of blood orange, violet and brown spice - really lovely. The palate shows a beautiful melange of blackberry, strawberry and tart cherry with citrus, earth and minerals, very sappy and dense. Elegant finish of earth, stone and red fruits. This is a gorgeous wine, and quite delicious now, but cellaring of ten to twenty years should be possible. Congratulations to Julien Guillot for this beautiful Pinot! DL
Made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2015s here are extraordinary, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, earth, stone and musk and hints of mint, chocolate and spice. The palate is bright and intense with balckberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long mineral finish. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2015 Manganite is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to ten years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL
Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
Every year I taste Brice Omont’s wines I find that I like them even more than the last. This year is no exception! His 2015 Argile Rouge is made of 80% Gamay and 20% Persan (grown biodynamically) and is fermented with native yeasts. The wine then spends nine months in three- to five-year-old barrels before bottling. It is a touch smoky on the nose with red raspberry compote, pomegranate seeds, and a hint of rhubarb. On the palate it is lean and mineral driven with a lip-smacking acidity. This wine is incredibly pure and would pair well with all kinds of fatty foods. I’m thinking grilled pork belly at a barbecue! Tim Gagnon
Michel and Louis Bonzo acquired this estate in 1970 which is situated in St. Anne de Castellet, an area in Bandol with a terroir rich in limestone. This terroir, along with the estate’s desire for maintaining low yields each vintage (never more than 34 or 35 hl/ha), gives structure, balance, and elegance to these wines. Their 2014 Bandol Rouge is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsault and the nose offers classic Bandol funk with layers of sappy blackberry fruit, dark cherries, garrigue, citrus balm, roast meat and licorice. With time in the glass, there are succulent aromas of blueberry, vanilla, cinnamon, and a tinge of peppered beef. Chewy, blue-fruited, lush and with sultry tannins on the palate, this wine is at once ripe and juicy yet structured, possessing a tantalizing savory streak with a touch of smoke, black olive and spice. This wine is a joy to drink now, but can certainly age for 5-10 years. Tim Gagnon
This is a white blend, marrying Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), and Bourbelenc. It's medium - full bodied for a white, with notes of apple compote and baking spice. A prime candidate for wine drinkers who typically prefer reds, and truly a unique expression of the region's diverse grape varieties. Eben Lillie
Made from Gringet grown at 450m in elevation, this is serious stuff. It spends three years on the lees which results in a rich and textured wine, with delicate aromatics. It is quite powerful, and would give any Champagne a run for the money in terms of complexity. Tim Gagnon
Dominique’s Altesse shows a much more delicate side of this grape than most are familiar with, and I think this is a testament to his careful winemaking process. The vines in this parcel are quite young, and the original vines were sourced from the Dupasquier family in Jongieux, further south in the Savoie. Tim Gagnon
Called Le Feu (The Fire) for the bright red, iron-rich clay that litters the incredibly steep vineyards, this is Dominique’s top wine. It is his only single-parcel Gringet cuvée and the vines are situated at 450m in altitude. Tim Gagnon
This cuvée is made with Gringet sourced from two parcels, one being rich in yellow marl and the other with more broken-down limestone. It spends about six months aging in concrete eggs (separated by each different terroir) before being blended together in stainless steel tanks. Tim Gagnon
Jean-Baptiste Menigoz, a former school teacher, started his domaine with 2.4ha of vines in Abergement-le-Petit, west of Arbois, in 2012. Focusing on the classic varietals of the Jura, he makes honest, natural wines in the traditional ways of the region. His Chardonnay is always my personal favorite. Fermented and aged in neutral 600L demi-muid, it showcases the honey-tinged, tropical fruit and citrus that is a hallmark of this wine year after year. On the palate it is a touch nutty with salty, tangy pineapple, and an electric acidity anchored by a piercing mineral core. Perhaps a touch more ripe than past vintages, it maintains focus and precision. Tim Gagnon
I always love this wine, and the 2015 is no exception. Made from a blend of Fer Servadou, Negret de Banhars, and Cabernet Franc sourced from vines that average 30 years old. These grapes go through a 15-day-long carbonic maceration – the longest of all the 2015s. Wild and aromatic, it shows aromas of smashed red raspberry, vine tomato, basil, clementine, tobacco leaf, and iron. The palate has the trademark silkiness of all of Nicolas’ reds, with great tension and fruit. Strawberry liqueur comes to mind with herbs, a good touch of funk, and a smoky, meaty side. Pair with gamey meats (blood sausage!) and heartier fare for a real treat. Tim Gagnon
A deep, dark, and exuberant wine from Faugères! Located just outside of the village Lenthéric, the 28-hectare Clos Fantine estate is run by three siblings Carole, Corinne and Olivier Andrieu. They built their winery in 2000, three years after their father’s passing, and have been making wines the honest way since. All wines are made without any added SO2 and spend 17-20 months in huge concrete vats, depending on the vintage. A blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault (all vinified separately), it exudes classic aromas of savory herbs, black currant, citrus peel, peppered beef, and a wisp of smoke. It has ample fresh fruit and acidity on the palate with just enough earth and funk before finishing with a tinge of pepper and herbs. Tim Gagnon
From our friends at Chateau Colombiere in Fronton, not far from Toulouse in Southern France. This is a local grape called Negrette, blended with Syrah. The Negrette provides bright brambly fruit with nice acidity, and the Syrah gives us some dark supple material to beef up the blend. A great red for any kind of grilled food, and even versatile enough to have with a salad or appetizers. Eben Lillie
Philippe and Diane Cauvin consistently craft wines of balance and terroir in their small corner of the Fronton AOC just north of Toulouse in Southwest France. Made from direct pressing of 100% Negrette, a black-sknned grape grown in the AOC Fronton, north of Toulouse. The estate has organic certification (Ecocert), has been practicing biodynamic since 2006 and has low yielding vines on gravel/silica soils. Wild yeast fermentation, no chaptalization or acidification, and low sulfur, kept on the lees until bottling. The 2016 is as elegant as it is delicious. Dusty rose in the glass, the nose offers white flowers, river rocks, and lush strawberry. The palate has fleshy peach and strawberry fruit, with undercurrents of spice and thyme, and finishes with a nice snap of acidity on a lengthy finish. A complex rose at a fantastic value. Amanda Bowman
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec, this comes from a limestone parcel that Julien is very fond of. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster (not carbonic maceration) and the wine is aged in cement. It has a vibrant nose, with bright red cherry fruit and a little spice on the palate. Very light tannin, and a fresh mineral finish. This may not be as dark as some expect from Malbec, but it's definitely a hearty wine nonetheless. For me it's a perfect all weather wine, substantial enough to satisfy in the winter months, and fresh and lively enough to serve with a slight chill when the grills come out in the summer. Eben Lillie
Nicole and Jean-Marc Dournel’s Cuvée Domaine is a classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon that is vinified with native yeasts in tank and then is aged in the traditional large-format barrels of the Bergerac region. Aromas of cherry liqueur, cedar, and a hint of pipe tobacco rise from the glass. On the palate it is fresh with high-toned red raspberry coming forward before retreating, allowing layers of smoke, toasted earth, and dried flowers to take the stage. This is a serious and structured wine that would give any Bordeaux a run for its money, both in quality and in price! Decant or open well in advance, or cellar 5 to ten years.
When thinking of the Bergerac region of France, high-quality, thirst-quenching wines generally aren't the first things that come to mind. Enter Nicole Dournel of Domaine des Costes, who took over this estate as a tenant farmer in 1992. Her wines are crafted with care using organically farmed grapes and native yeasts to carry out fermentation. This cuvée is made of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon planted in sandy, stony soils over gravel. The result is a more feminine wine with a bouquet of cherry liqueur, dusty red plum, cassis, pomegranate seeds, and a touch of meaty funk. On the palate it is dusty, earthy, and brambly with bright dark berry fruit and fantastic structure. This would be perfect with roasted pork loin and root vegetables! Tim Gagnon
Costes is an old French term for hillsides or slopes, which is very fitting for this hillside vineyard located in Bergerac. The soil is a favorable combination of stone, sandy clay, and rolled gravel over limestone, that suits the primarily Cabernet Franc vines grown on the Domaine des Costes Estate. Nicole and Jean-Luc Dournel took over the estate in 1992, overseeing the vineyard through its organic certification and biodynamic practices. Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this food friendly rose shows fresh red berries on the nose followed by wild strawberries, red currant, and a subtle, peppery finish on the palate. Serve chilled and enjoy with lighter meals all year!
Made from Chasselas planted in clay-rich soils and raised in concrete egg, I find this wine to offer more in terms of layers of texture and in density than his other cuvées. It still maintains a ravishing acidity and ample minerality like all of his wines, but seems a bit more open aromatically with hints of crème brülée, almond milk, and zesty lemon meringue. These luscious aromas coalesce once on the palate with more succulent citrus and sea minerals coming forward. This would be fantastic with hearty poultry dishes (Thanksgiving anyone?) that balance savory and sweet, or with seared monkfish with parsnip purée and hazelnuts for the adventurous home cook. Tim Gagnon
An exciting new arrival from Dominique Lucas! Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 7.5 hectares of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. P’tit Coin de Paradis comes from a small parcel of 25-year-old Chasselas vines planted lower on the slope closer to Dominique’s house (his vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition). The wine is vinified using only native yeasts and is raised in a combination of concrete eggs and neutral demi-muid barrels. This vintage captures the essence of Chasselas with a precise bouquet of lemon zest, tropical fruit, and mountain wildflower. The palate is wonderfully textured, and perfectly balanced with beautiful tension between an intense minerality, bright fruit, and a bracing acidity. Blue Moon Fish at the TriBeCa farmer’s market makes some of the best smoked bluefish I’ve ever had (and has beautiful seafood in general), and I’m thinking this would be fantastic with a simple tartine of bluefish, cultured butter, fresh radish, and a parsley garnish. Tim Gagnon
2010 is in the zone. Expressively aromatic with wildflower, papaya, toasted hazelnuts, and hints of bergamot. The palate is rich and giving with heady flavors of smoked pineapple, herbs, honeycomb, and citrus. Firm minerality carries the fleshy tropical fruit flavors through an extraordinarily long finish. Powerful and finessed, this bottle deserves a place on your dinner table alongside shellfish, grilled fish with creamy, herb sauce, or a traditional raclette. Amanda Bowman
The 2010 is in the zone. Expressively aromatic with notes of wildflower, papaya, toasted hazelnuts, and hints of bergamot. The palate is rich and giving with heady flavors of smoked pineapple, herbs, honeycomb, and citrus. Firm minerality carries the fleshy tropical fruit flavors through an extraordinarily long finish. Powerful and finessed, this bottle deserves a place on your dinner table alongside shellfish, grilled fish with creamy, herb sauce, or a traditional raclette. Amanda Bowman
The 2012 is a captivating wine with true aging potential. Golden straw in the glass with inviting aromas of purple flowers, dried mango, peach skins, citrus peel, and hazelnut. The palate is exquisitely textured with minerals, nervy acidity, and creamy peach, honey, and yellow fruit flavors with hints of cinnamon spice, mountain herbs, and almonds. Very beguiling and complex. If drinking now, decant an hour before serving. This would be delicious paired with creamy cheeses, grilled chicken, or Thai mussels this summer. It will be even better in 3 to 5 years! Amanda Bowman
This a traditionally made Pinot Noir that benefits from sunny days, cool evenings, and long ageing. Like all of Dupasquier's wines, this Pinot Noir is fermented with native yeasts and is aged in foudres for one year before being bottled and aged another year in their cellar before release. The result is a wonderfully approachable Pinot with lovely aromas of bright raspberry, violets, and fresh red fruit. The palate is lean and energetic with grippy acidity. The long elevage lends a gentle, less austere, quality to the tannin. Satisfying notes of crunchy blueberry, black pepper, bramble fruit, and stone on a long finish. A ready-to-drink Pinot Noir at an excellent value. Amanda Bowman
All of the warmth, spice, and grip I love about the Rhone with the mellow spirit of the Beaujolais. What's not to love? The nose offers earthy spice, white pepper, plum, high-toned raspberry and crushed violets. The palate is an exercise in balance. Delightfully lean and light-bodied with energetic acidty from the cool nights to lift the warm flavors of herbs, annis, smoke, and tobacco spice with echoes of red/dark fruit. A great example of the maturing potential of Gamay. Drinking now and will continue to do so for the next couple of years. Amanda Bowman
100% Mourvedre from a small parcel, aged for a year in 6 hl used Austrian barrels (Stockinger), then kept in bottle. This is the most elegant and finessed Mourvedre I've ever tasted. At 12%, it's not light, but it is really charming, with developed earthy flavors, yet free from any chewy tannins. Really quite velvet-like smoothness, and ample complexity, with a long mineral finish. Certainly wins the award for the most 'beautiful' of the Enfants Sauvages offerings. It's a joy to drink, and a great chance to study the oft-blended Mourvedre grape on it's own. Eben Lillie
Roi des Lézards is all Carignan, from vines ranging from 35 - 75 years, aged in a combination of 1500 L Austrian Stockinger barrels, and 500 L used barrels. This is a significant bottle of Carignan, offering dark, purple fruit and good grip. The famous French term "garrigue" immediately comes to mind, even from smelling the wine. Used to describe the aromas typical of the shrubs and fauna of the Mediterranean, such as Thyme, Rosemary and Lavender, one couldn't find a better descriptor for the flavor profile of this wine. Most likely best enjoyed on the dinner table with grilled meats, stews, or other hearty fare. Eben Lillie
Now this is a first: Syrah is pressed like a rosé, then the Cinsault grapes are tossed (whole cluster) into the fermenting juice for 4 - 5 days, without extraction. The wine is then pressed, and kept in stainless steel. My tasting notes provide this information and are then followed by one word: "Yummy." They call it a "wonderful light and fruity summer wine." Combine the two and you get the idea. This is juicy, fresh and very light bodied. Truly a FUN wine, and one that will benefit from a little chill. 11.5% alc. Eben Lillie
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punch over), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punching down), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said, "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
This beautiful wine is made by Isabelle Carles and Franck Pascal at Le Jonc Blanc, an unusual limestone plateau in the Bergerac with shallow clay soils. Natural vinification with wild yeasts, no additives and minimal extraction. Aged in a large foudre, bottled without fining or filtration, no added SO2, certified organic and Biodynamic. The wine shows a very dark red/black color, with lovely fruit and floral aromas - rose, blackberry and raspberry with hints of dark chocolate and earth. Pretty berry fruits on the palate with cocoa and citrus lifted by refreshing acidity and finishing with a mineral core and citrusy black fruits. This is an extraordinary, pure and delicious wine that should be served slightly cool. Perfect with charcuterie, patés, chicken and pork dishes or just quaffed happily by itself. Highly recommended. DL
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
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 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!
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
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 cocolate, 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. $12.99? Our thanks to Isabelle and Franck for their inspiring work.
This is a delightful rosé from our biodynamic friends, Isabelle Carle and Franck Pascal at le Jonc Blanc in Bergerac. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Semillon. The wine shows intriguing aromas of cassis, raspberry, orange peel, rose and spice with lovely cassis, citrus and mineral flavors on the palate that coninue on the long silky finish. This is an unusually delicious rosé that will sell out quickly, only 20 cases for the US! This estate produces outstanding wines through meticulous biodynamic farming and careful low or zero sulfite vinifications - we urge you to try all their wines, each one is delicious and inexpensive.
A beautiful Bandol rosè, primarily Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache. The Mourvedre is pressed and run off directly, the Cinsault and Grenache undergo 24 hours of skin contact. Certified organic grapes from the Bronzo family vineyard in Le Castellet. This is a complex, perfectly balanced wine, a bit brighter than the 2015, with lovely aromas of raspberry, peach, blood orange, rose and spice. The palate is dense with cherry and raspberry fruit, citrus and stone flavors, ripe and full with bright balancing acidity with terrific density and length and a bit of ripe cherry in the finish. Delicious now - please decant or open 1 hour in advance - this will improve over the next few years. Perfect with grilled tuna, Salade Nicoise, pork and chicken, bouillabaisse, of course, and mild cheeses.
This 100% Merlot from La Vrille et le Papillon has a dark, envoloping nose, with cassis and black fruit. There's impressive tannic structure and mineral complexity, and just enough acidity to lend length and lift to the finish. This is a serious full bodied red that is graceful enough to not exhaust your palate on it's own, and would be perfect for a BBQ or similar summer feast. Eben Lillie
Warning: Natural Wine! A light and lovely Viognier from La Vrille et le Papillon in the Ardeche. The wine shows bright floral aromas of lemon, lime-flower, peach, mint and stone, really quite pretty. There is a bit of petillance on the palate with creamy citrus, peach, apricot and hay. Light and refreshing, with citrus, stone and yeasty flavors in the finish, this is a perfect summer quaffer, naturally delicioius!
Meryl and Geraldine Croizier make lovely natural wines on their 5 hectare organic estate in Valigneres, Ardeche. The "Les Fees Papillon" Rosé is made from 100% Syrah, fermented with wild yeasts and with minimal SO2 added. The wine is a very pale pink color showing subtle aromas of peach, rose and stone; the palate is very dry and mineral - a bit austere with hints of peach and raspberry, very earthy and dry. Serve this refreshing rosé with oysters (with vinaigrette), fried or broiled fish, vegetable quiche, Asian foods...
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
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
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...
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
(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!
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Chateau Lapuyade produces a complex, ripe, exotic style of "Sec" and the lovely 2013 is no exception. Pale gold color; ripe aromas of exotic fruit, citrus, butterscotch, honeysuckle and hay; the palate is ripe and round with pear, grapefruit spice and mineral flavors; very bright citrusy acidity in the finish with hay and minerals. This will evolve nicely re-corked in your fridge or with five to ten years of cellaring. Not for everyone perhaps, but this is really a unique and intense bottle of Jurancon! Serve with chicken or fish in sauce, full-flavored cheeses, patés and Asian foods.
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. The soils are primarily "poudingue," a conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposited during the formation of the Pyrenees, with sandy clay topsoil. This bottle, based on the two better white grapes of Jurançon, Gros and Petit Manseng, seriously over-delivers in terms of complexity for the price and is particularly great in 2014. You'll find aromas of pineapple, lemon oil, peach and pear, honeysuckle and caramel apple on the nose, along with a light oakiness that would not work for all white wines, but fits perfectly with this one. The palate is essentially dry with firm acidity with dried pear, spice, citrus, stone and mineral flavors, but leaves an enticing sense of sweetness that makes it an excellent choice for cheeses, especially the sheep's milk cheeses of the Pyrenees. The finish is long and elegant - just delicious! Note: Those with the patience to keep this bottle around for a few days, re-corked in the fridge, will be rewarded with an awesome display of rich, complex fruit. David Lillie
Céline and Steve Gormally farm their 5 hectares in Passenans, to the southwest of Arbois, with strictly biodynamic methods and consistently make stunning natural wines. Arco is 100% Savagnin from 20-year-old vines planted in rocky soils with a limestone base. Vinified and aged in neutral barrels for 9 months, it is a beautiful example of how much care the Gormallys put into all of their wines. Gorgeous tropical fruit aromas abound with delicate hints of walnut, lime blossom, and wildflower. The palate is gently saline with pure fruit, a piercing minerality, and a wonderful texture that leads into a crystalline finish dotted with hints of tangy pineapple stalk. It is absolutely delicious. Tim Gagnon
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2016 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir showing lovely pale pink color with subtle aromas of peach skin, raspberry, orange peel, spice and rose. The palate is light, balanced, dense and long with ripe cherry, peach, citrus, spice and saline mineral flavors. Drinking beautifully now, especially with a bit of aeration, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, fish or chicken, salads and mild cheeses. Great sipped by itself as well, a delicious and "serious" rosé that is highly recommended!
From Michéle and Yves Gros at Domaine Les Fouques, this is the new Pétillant Rosé! Pale hued, perfumed and floral on the nose, with peaches and stone fruit on the palate. Méthode Traditionelle, Extra Brut, with great acidity and a refreshing chalky finish. Eben Lillie
Primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet, this biodynamic red from Provence shows deep plum and blackberry fruit aromas with earth, citrus and Provençal herbs. The palate is ripe and supple with dense black fruits, prune and brown spice lifted by bright acidity. In some vintages this wine can be a bit austere and tannic when young, but the 2014 is bursting with fruit and absolutely delicious for current drinking. Serve with grilled meats and stews, a daube niçoise perhaps, and full-flavored cheeses. Great value!
This vintage of the Cuvée de l'Aubigue Blanc is our favorite to date! A cornucopia of stone fruit and floral aromas. Quince, pear, honeysuckle on the nose, then lemon compote, herbs and mint along with perfect weight on the palate, and a long mineral finish. 80% Rolle (Vermentino), and equal parts Ugni Blanc and Clairette filling out the blend. Eben Lillie
This is one of our favorite Rosés every year and the 2016 Cuvée de l'Aubigue is a sensational wine and a fabulous value! Made from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino grown on soils of clay and schist near Hyères in Provence. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Lovely light salmon color. Subtle and complex aromas with yellow and red fruits, citrus confit, brown spice and floral notes. The palate is full, but balanced and very refreshing with red fruits, citrus, peach, spice and mango that continue on the long finish. A great apéritif and pairs with any light summer foods. DL
We recently opened the 2014 and were pleased to find it's tasting better than ever! Classic white fruit, honeysuckle, and floral notes on the nose, and really nice balance between the acidity and the sun-kissed fruit that is now mellowing out and giving way to a drier and more mineral side of the wine. Maybe a touch softer than the 2015, so perhaps not as worthy of cellaring, but drinking now would be a treat, and I'm sure a few more years will do it well. Eben Lillie
This Roussette de Savoie is from a tiny parcel of old Altesse vines. The nose is expressive, with flowers and white fruits aplenty. On the palate there's ripe orchard fruit, and a pleasant roundness that balances out the fresh acidity. This is a wine that has great versatility. It's great for drinking now with a wide variety of foods, from spicy asian cuisines to local cheeses, and will reward your patience if you decide to put some bottles away. With the minerality, acidity and the ripeness of the fruit in 2015, this surely has a great life ahead of it. Eben Lillie
It's almost as if it were meant to be that Maillet left us with this Mondeuse as his last! Typically the most structured and dark of Maillet's red offerings, 2015 provided ideal conditions to fully express the depth and potential of these selection massale vines (many of which are over 100 years old!). In the glass, it looks more like Syrah than anything we typically see from the Savoie. Vibrant wild blackberry aromas on the nose, with black cherry and cola notes on the palate, and a finish with notable tannic structure and mineral length. We'd recommend decanting a bit in advance or holding this wine for up to 10 years. Eben Lillie
Jacques Maillet is a "grower" in every sense of the word. In 2003, after suffering from a serious illness connected with conventional farming, he reduced the size of his already tiny domaine in order to stop selling his grapes to the local co-op and to begin farming organically. Years later, his wines seem to get better with every vintage. His 2015 Pinot Noir is simply gorgeous. The nose opens with bright, sappy cherry, strawberry liqueur, rose petal, tangerine, and a hint of underbrush. Lithe and lively on the palate, it offers sweet, juicy red raspberry, citrus, smoke, anchored by an intense mineral core. This is no doubt one of Jacques’ most serious wines; structured, long, a bit crunchy, and very elegant. I have a feeling that this would age well over the next 3-5 years, and it is certainly showing beautifully now. Tim Gagnon
A blend of Jacquere and Altesse. I think of this wine as the Muscadet of the Savoie. It's crisp and clean, with acidity that would definitely please fans of Loire Valley whites. Graceful and subtle citrus and white flower aromas, with stone fruit on the palate and a very mineral finish. It might be most suitable in the warmer months of the year, but fans of high-acid whites will surely beg to differ. Eben Lillie
From a parcel of 35-year-old Chardonnay vines planted in limestone-rich soils, the 2015 Les Molates is pure joy to drink. All of their ouillé wines are vinified the same way: direct press into neutral barrels of various sizes for both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and spend eighteen months on the lees before bottling with a touch of SO2. It opens with a luscious nose of orange zest, pineapple, juicy green apple, brown spice, honeysuckle, and butterscotch. Full-bodied but not flabby, it is saline and pure with a bright acidity. This is such a pretty wine, and was a standout at a recent lunch with fried Dungeness crab. Tim Gagnon
Made from an interesting local strain called Savagnin Muscaté, this is a wine unlike any other Savagnin I’ve had. The vines that provide the fruit for this cuvée are between 57 and 60 years old. Heady and floral on the nose with hints of ripe apricot, and a touch of spice, this almost could be mistaken for an Alsatian wine if it weren’t for Savagnin’s distinctive tropical fruit aromas. Compared to the 2014, it is incredibly broad and pretty on the palate with touch of white pepper and brown spice. Long, floral, and supple, this is a beguiling wine that deserves your attention. Tim Gagnon
‘Speciale’ is a blend of 70% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, and 10% Grenache harvested from Jeff’s Font d'oulette parcel in Puimisson, a small village in the Languedoc a few miles away from Béziers. The grapes from this parcel are co-planted with several other local and rare varieties and have been certified organic since 1987. The 2014 is Jeff’s first vintage of this blend, he uses native yeast fermentation, and bottles without any SO2 added. This is a remarkably pure wine. Aromas of lively red fruit, violets and a wild note of sarsaparilla spice lead to quaffable flavors of cherry licorice, fresh brambly fruit and spice on the finish. Serve lightly chilled and pair with barbeque this summer! Amanda Bowman
Organic and Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau de Mayragues produces beautiful wines from local grape varieties, including this delicious red from 100% Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, grown on clay-limestone terroirs above the Tarn river in Gaillac. The wine is a deep red color and shows lovely aromas of ripe plum, red currant, earth, violets and black pepper. Deep earthy berry fruits on the palate that are lifted by fresh acidity. Full-flavored but not at all heavy at just 12% alcohol. This is a unique and delicious "country wine" - bring on the pâtés, rilletes and rillons, pork chops and roast chicken, full-flavored cheeses, too...
Our Biodynamic friends at Chateau de Mayragues make this distinctive white from 100% Mauzac, showing intriguing aromas of apple, pear, hazelnut, citus and spice. The palate shows dense pear, almond, citrus and mineral flavors with a long finish of ripe white fruits, stone and almond. This is a rare and unusual wine that will accompany pork and chicken in sauce, full-flavored fish dishes and goat cheeses.
Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau Mayragues makes beautiful wines from the local grapes, such as this distinctive white from 100% Loin de L'Oeil. Quite ripe in the 2015 vintage, the aromas are of dried pear, almond, honeysuckle and citrus peel. Nice full white fruits on the palate with ripe pear, apple, anise, white pepper, floral and citrus flavors, really quite lovely. This is a beautiful summer aperitif and will accompany a variety of seafood dishes, terrines, mild cheeses and Asian foods. And it's a fabulous value!
2000 Cuvée Prestige. Dark fruit, freshly turned soil, maduro cigar, pretty blackberry and plum notes. Still structured, but certainly open for business. Good freshness, with flavors of game, cassis, black plum, and iron. The oak is beginning to integrate and this is a fine pairing with duck magret, sublime with cassoulet. Decant now or hold 5-10+ years. John McIlwain
From old-vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's beautiful mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. The 2014 is particularly lovely, showing deep ripe aromas of blackberry, plum, coffee and spice. Full, soft palate of spicy red and black fruits, earth and dark chocolate, with good density and supple, palate-coating texture lifted by nice acidity. Perfect for grilled foods or steaks, stews and strong cheeses all year. A sensational value!
Oeillades is an ancient Languedoc variety, probably related to Cinsault. Thierry Navarre, who is proud of his vineyards of "forgotton varieties," produces Terret and Ribeyrenc as well as this lovely light-bodied Oeillades. The 2015 has pretty high-toned red-currant, boysenberry, violet, prune and smokey aromas, quite fresh and appealing. The palate has tart cherry, red currant and plum fruit, it's light to medium-bodied, but with lovely ripeness and depth with refreshing acidity and good length. Good intensity of fruit but low alcohol, 11.5%, which makes it very food-friendly. Serve cool with charcuterie, white meats and cheeses. Highly recommended and a great value! DL
This is a delicious vin doux naturel from Thierry Navarre made from very late-harvested Grenache. We imagine that it's a wine made the way wine used to be made all over the Languedoc before temperature control was an option. A bit sweet and somewhat sherry-like, the aromas are of prune and ripe cherry, with licorice and brown spice. Very long and nutty on the palate, perhaps the best way to imagine this wine is to think of an Oloroso sherry... then extrapolate! Absolutely delicious and a great accompaniment to chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits or simply by itself as an apéritif. Thanks to Thierry for finally making a label and shipping us some of this unique local specialty.
A nice, very crisp white from Gascogne. Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Columbard and Gros Manseng. Hand-harvested, certified organic, with subtle tropical and citrus notes.
This is a really lovely alternative to Champagne and a great value. Montagnieu is a village south of Cerdon, in the Jura, with premières côtes overlooking the Rhône valley. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Altesse and Mondeuse and has complex herbal aromas, nice lemony ripeness on the palate and a long, dry finish. Franck Peillot works well in the vineyard and naturally in the cellar. Well worth a try!
MORE ARRIVING TUE. 5/23 - Our Biodynamic friends, the Hubert family at Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours, have finally made a dry rosé and it's quite delicious. Subtle aromas of strawberry, peach and citrus on the nose that continue on the round but dry and refreshing palate. This gains weight with time (better on the second day) and has surprising length for a rosé. This is a versatile wine to serve as an aperitif or with grilled tuna, melon and prosciutto, grilled chicken or pork and mild cheeses.
This is a beautiful Savagnin from the organic vineyards of Jean-Charles Maire, on Kimmeridgian limestone near the Mont Poupet, at Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. (Elevage is sous-voile.) Opaque pale gold color. Oxidative aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, dried hebs, beeswax, stone and earth. The palate is full and dense with sharp acidity showing dried fruits, citrus, marzipan and stone flavors, with a long intensely mineral and citrus finish. Serve with fish in sauce, chicken with morels, mountain cheeses. Delicious now but five to ten years of aging seems possible, wonderful after three days open.DL
From the tiny appellation of Bugey, due east of Lyon, it is a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. On the nose it is exquisitely vinous with bright aromas of pomegranate seeds, brambly blueberry patch, unripe strawberry, mountain meadow, and tart red raspberry. It is incredibly balanced with an invigorating acidity and lip-smacking red berry fruits with clementine zest and minerals coalescing on the finish. At 8.5% in alcohol with significant sweetness, this would be a perfect brunch companion or as an aperitif! Tim Gagnon
The 2015 Château Renard is a home run. Chardonnay with a bit of Savagnin from parcels planted in clay and limestone soils made in the topped-up, or ouillé, style of winemaking. On the nose it is crisp and clean with delicate aromas of apricot, lime flower, almond skin, and tropical mango. The palate is much more intense with luscious, juicy green apple, cashew, sea salt, and tangy minerals. Long, textured, and a hint nutty on the finish, this would be perfect pairing with many different kinds of foods, especially roasted poultry. Tim Gagnon
A Vin de Liqueur made from Chardonnay with a bit of Trousseau, this is the first vintage of Larmes du Paradis that has been available to us, and we are very excited. Alternatively called Macvin in the Jura, this style of wine is made by arresting the primary fermentation with distilled grape spirit while there is still a fair amount of residual sugar in the wine. The result is a wine with deep golden color that shows aromas of warm golden raisin, fresh fig, hay, dried dates, sweet spice and a hint of cherry liqueur. Lots of depth and concentration on the palate, with excellent balance of sweetness and acidity; the finish is reminiscent of toffee candy with a hint of toasted walnut and an elegant salinity. This is great to have after dinner with cheese, but also makes for a great aperitif served well chilled. Tim Gagnon
The 2014 Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. 62 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.