This is an outstanding Beaujolais from the Chignard family, better known for their lovely Fleurie "Les Moriers." Possessing the lovely fruit and balance of the 2014 vintage in Beaujolais, the Julienas "Beauvernay" shows a pretty red/black color, with elegant aromas of blackberry and red currant with violet, blood orange, earth and stone. It's ripe and sapid but with lively acidity and perfectlty proportioned at 12.5% alcohol. Morello cherry and red currant fruit with saline minerals, earth and spice coat the palate and continue in the earthy finish. Quite lovely now, this should become a beautiful mature wine with three to five years of aging, drink till 2023-2025. Highly recommended. DL
Damien Coquelet has made an elegant, balanced and quite mineral tasting Chiroubles in this frequently over-ripe vintage. The aromas are a bit earthy and floral with black fruits and hints of spice and citrus. The palate is dense and saline with blackberry and black cherry, quite restrained and earthy for a 2015, and with only 12.5% alcohol. Give this wine some time to open up and serve with any grilled meat, roast chicken and charcuterie.
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are always among out favorite Beaujolais, and we're very hapy 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 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
Christian Ducroux' 5 hectare estate has been certified organic and biodynamic since 1985, and has operated as a nearly self-sufficient farm, producing its own fertilzer and compost, and plowing and harvesting almost entirely without machinery. The vines average over 60 years of age and are replaced by massale selection, giving extremely low yields. The 2015 Exspectatia (the wine formerly known as Regnié) shows a deep opaque red/black color. Slight reduction, then vivid aromas of blackberry liqueur, blood orange, rose, black pepper, brown spices, earth and licorice. On the palate the wine is very complex with blackberry and red currant fruit, earth, spice and citrus with a long intense finish of black fruits and earth that lingers on the palate. Only 12.5% alcohol, even in this very ripe vintage. Bravo to Christian Ducroux for his beautiful farming and for this complex, expressive natural wine! Re-tasted in October 2016, the wine showed beautifully, with remarkable complexity, intense aromas of ripe blackberry, violet, musk, pepper, licorice and earth, that continue with a dense, earthy texture on the palate. Really a profound wine of terroir that expresses the incredilble farming and winemaking of Christian Ducroux - certainly one of the finest natural wines of France.(Decanting advised, no added sulfur - consume on the day opened)
Sourced mainly from younger Merlot vines planted in the gravelly, sandy soils of Macau, with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; this is a fresher, softer wine from Michel Théron. This cuvée sees a bit more new oak than his other wines, which tempers the dark, terroir-driven berry fruits and allows for hints of spearmint, cocoa, and damp earth to shine through. The palate is rather silken, showing dark fruits and minerals with great structure. Pure, unadulterated, and unbelievably delicious Bordeaux with a bit of bottle age (the current vintage is 2013) makes me very happy. Tim Gagnon
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! 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
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
It's always a pleasure to drink a great Bordeaux such as Château La Grolet’s Tête de Cuvée, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec; it has complex fruit with deep savory layers not clouded by new oak and is certified biodynamic. The nose is dense with intense notes of strawberries and dark cherries with hints of red currants followed by turned earth and resinous herbs. The palate is soft with smooth tannins and fair acidity, showing more of a floral tone of violets and slight notes of leather. After some time open the wine begins to reveal itself; dark red fruit with figs, strong herbal character, and more pronounced florals with delicate tannins. An exciting Bordeaux that could pair well with leaner steak, pork chops on the grill, or savory chicken dishes. Andy Paynter
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
This 100% Merlot made from young vines in the Biodynamic vineyards at Chateau La Grolet is a delicious and versatile wine, showing lovely ripe cassis aromas with a soft palate of red fruits with plum and spice. Created to drink well young and particularly round and ripe in the 2015 vintage, serve lightly cool with charcuterie, stews, chicken and pork. Produced and bottled with no added sulfites - pure juice!
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
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. From 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec. Natural, wild yeast fermentations. Extraordinary quality here for the price. The 2014 Cote de Blaye Cru Bourgeois is a bit more forward than usual, showing deep cassis and red currant aromas, pure and ripe with hints of coffee, prune and spice. The palate is supple and deep with blackberry fruit, chalky minerals and terrific length. Serve slightly cool with anything from roast chicken to steak and full-flavored cheeses. Did we say this is a great value?
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!
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 grapes undergo spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts before being pressed into concrete vats where it will continue on, and ultimately finish, its journey to becoming a beautiful wine. Their white cuvée is an elegant blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sémillon. Wonderfully aromatic with white peach blossom and slight hints of tangerine rising from the glass. A deep, chalky minerality takes over on the palate and is accompanied by white fruit and a citrus-tinged acidity. It would pair well with numerous dishes and is very generous enjoyed on its own. An excellent value for an outstanding wine. Tim Gagnon
From Chardonnay grown on an excellent limestone/clay parcel in Aluze, next to Mercurey. Certified organic, hand-harvested, low yields, very long (10 month) wild-yeast fermentation in barrel, bottled by gravity, unfiltered. This is an outstanding Chardonnay of terroir thanks to the great farming and vinifications at Champs de l'Abbaye. Subtle aromas of stone, white fruits, lemon peel and herbs with a bit of new oak. The palate is intense and crystalline with strong mineral flavors, white fruits, citrus, spice and oak. (We are reminded of the Bourgogne Chitry by De Moor) The finish is dense and long with citrus, pear and stone - this is a serious glass of white Burgundy that will accompany oysters, grilled fish, roast chicken and much more. Not for lovers of Napa Chardonnay....
From a 1/2 hectare parcel of 35 year-old vines in Rully on clay/limestone soils. Aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus and stone with lime flower and new oak. Intense stone and mineral flavors typical to Rully on the palate with citrus and white fruits. Fabulous stony finish. This is an austere and elegant white Burgundy to drink now in its scintillating youth with oysters, grilled seafod, chicken and goat cheeses. Hold 5 to 10 years for a mature experience.
Comprised of fruit from Bressandes (2/3) which per Claude de Nicolay lends richness and Chaumes, located beneath Les Pougets (1/3) which lends a degree of “saltiness.” The 2014 Corton Blanc shows a lovely balance between power and elegance. Aromatically it shows yellow flowers, orange peel and hints of sea spray and wet stone. The palate displays pretty flavors of stone fruit, Meyer lemon, and apple overlying an overt, if not overwhelming minerality on a medium weight (for Corton) palate. This shows plenty of energy and drive, if not mass, on a long, detailed, and mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
This wine comes from Duplessis’ sole Grand Cru vineyard (with 25 hectares of vines). Les Clos is the largest of the Grand Cru vineyards within Chablis and dates back from at least 1267. The wine was aged for six months in oak and twelve months in tank. This wine shows a pretty bouquet on the nose and palate with white flowers, honey, apple, orange, ginger and soft saline notes. It has an elegant acidity with a great tension and a finish leaving us with beautiful notes and texture. This is a splendid wine which can be aged for a good decade. Caroline Coursant
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
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.
This wine comes from a single 2.5 hectare vineyard of 25 year old vines with southwest exposure and on Kimmeridgian soils (as opposed to the most common Portlandian soils for Petit Chablis). The wine shows quite a nice minerality with saline and flint notes. The bouquet is full of citrus, yellow apple and stone fruit notes with some hints of vanilla. The wine has great acidity for this warm vintage. This is a delicious Chablis for a great price. Caroline Coursant
Patrick Piuze, one of the youngest stars of Chablis, offers nicely balanced wines with this 2015 vintage. This wine comes from a parcel called Des Couverts which is adjacent to the 1er cru Vaulorent, on the north-facing side of the Grand Cru hill. The vineyard is usually harvested last due to its cooler location. 2015 was a warm vintage in Burgundy and the wine shows it. The fruit components on the nose and palate have a touch of tropical notes, as you can taste a hint of pineapple juice, followed by ripe red and yellow apple and citrus notes. Ginger spices with some vanilla accents are quite prevalent on the nose and more subtle on the palate. The acidity and minerality (limestone) are good considering the warmth of the vintage. This is a “big” Chablis with a good length and I would recommend serving it cold with a nice dinner of roasted chicken or with some cheeses. Caroline Coursant
Another cracking 2014, Rapet's Combottes has bright aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, citrus pith. The mid-weight palate offers layers of stone fruit, chalk, lemon peel, and quinine, which persist on the long, lithe finish. This is great Combottes and a bargain in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
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
This is a superb, subtle and very mineral Chardonnay from a replanted parcel at the very top of the Clos, abandoned since 1896, with thin clay soils rich in iron over limestone. A great terroir, never chemically treated and worked in biodynamic farming by Alain and Julien Guillot. The 2014 "les Chassagnes" is a beautiful wine! Yields of 18 hl/ha, giving a racy, stony wine with hints of white fruits, spice and honey, the palate is silky and crystalline - all mineral with subtle citrus and white fruits, very long and elegant. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Sourced from a small plot withing La Fosse, planted in 1959, Venus is named after the draft horse that plowed the vines. The soils are exceptionally chalky relative to the soils of other parts of Avize which have more clay, per Peter Liem. Aged under cork rather than crown cap and bottled without dosage, Venus is profoundly mineral and a study in chalk, with the old vines' deep roots preserving that sense of terroir even in warmer or 'off' vintages.
Mineral is a vintage-dated blend of Chardonnay from two particularly chalky lieux dits within the grand cru villages of Cramant and Avize, with the grapes from Bionnes (Cramant) vinified in demi-muid and Le Champ Bouton (Avize) vinified in tank and blended in equal parts.
Terroirs is a blend of Chardonnay from multiple parcels like the 7 Crus cuvée, but from older vines planted in mid-slope chalk and clay soils and aged longer on the lees, with some barrel-aged reserve wine lending another layer of complexity.
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.
This is a new version of the Polisy Brut Reserve, coming from the 2013 vintage and produced with zero added SO2. As with all the Beaufort wines, there is terrific length and concentration due to their many years of organic farming and low yields. The lack of SO2 in the wine also contributes to its purity, and the Kimmeridgian soil gives a wonderful, crystalline minerality. The Beaufort family planted vines in Polisy in the 1960s and the results we've tasted since our relationship with Beaufort began have been stunning. Great value — and a great food wine as well, serve with fish, white meats and full-flavored cheeses...
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...")
"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
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! (*Disgorged 10/2016) Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..."
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.)
Bérêche's Campania Remensis is a consistently fascinating rosé Champagne, in a category fraught with uninspiring wines. The 2012 base is 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 5% still red wine from Ormes on the western side of the Montagne de Reims. This year the robe is more of a salmon pink rather than copper color of previous vintages. The nose is redolent of wild strawberry, blood orange zest, vanilla bean, raspberry, and ginger. The palate balances whip-crack acidity with layers of ripe fruit flavors and savory undertones. The balance here is impeccable and the finish textured and nuanced. This is a beautiful and deft rosé! John McIlwain
A blanc de blancs with luxurious weight and depth from "Les Monts Fournois," a parcel with the premier cru of Ludes in the Montagne de Reims. With an extremely fine bead, there are intensely rich flavors of lemon drop meringue and candied red fruits (strawberry, cherry) that finish with subtle wisps of dried ginger and dried tarragon. Disgorged 11/15. Jonas Mendoza 2012 is the inaugural vintage of Les Monts Fournois from Bérêche. Sourced from a lieu-dit on the northern end of Ludes with particularly thin soils over pure chalk, and a southern exposure planted with massale-selected Chardonnay in 1961. Fermented in barrel with native yeast and aged under cork, Les Monts Fournois deftly combines power and precision in this blanc de blancs. The nose displays citrus peel, white flowers and wet stone, while the old vines, sunny exposure, and chalky soils lend a distinctly mineral core to the wine on the vigorous, verging on sinewy, palate while not sacrificing elegance. For lovers of chalky, powerful Champagnes, Les Monts Fournois is a delight. Bottled with 3g/L dosage. John McIlwain
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
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) John McIlwain
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) 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
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
Les Houtrantes Complantés is Geoffroy's most viticulturally ambitious and complex Champagne. Sourced from a field blend of old vines of all the allowed Champagne cultivars, there is not enough juice to make a cuvée each year, so JB stores reserve wine from previous vintages in magnums. This first release is a blend of 25% 2008, 35% 2009, and 40% 2010. Quite simply this is one of our most fascinatingly elegant and aromatically beguiling Champagnes. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass, adorned with a minutely beaded mousse. The nose unpacks an aroma box of linden flowers, sage, hyacinths, fresh mint, followed by Doyenne pears, Reine Claude plums, and a hint of smoky tones. The palate is refreshing stream of minerality, impeccably balanced and ripe for a Brut Nature, that glides and shifts to a saline and savory finish. One can't help but thinking of Rieslings from the great vineyards of Saar Valley. Simply stunning Champagne! (Disgorged 6/2015). - David Salinas
In the sometimes treacherous passage from grapes to wine, Geoffroy's flagship cuvée has been gifted every advantage. 50-year-old vines, on average, from JB's finest plots are used in the 2004's final blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. At pressing, only the "tête de cuvée" juices, the best juice from the first press, are used. The prise de mousse occurs under cork, not capsule, and the 2004 has aged for almost ten years on it lees to delicious results. It shines a medium golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a discrete mousse. Initial smoky tones, on the nose, give way to aromas of Cortland apples, honeysuckle, Mirabelle plums, and tamarinds. The palate is rich, round, and weighty with notes of green apples, greengages, and vanilla before a tart and smoky finish. (Disgorged 5/2014). - David Salinas
From the En Valingrain lieu dit, this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc makes a compelling case for the gôut de terroir of Riceys. The soils are a combination of marls and Kimmeridgian limestone, akin to the soils in nearby Chablis. A pale green gold robe, lemon oil, tangerine rind, rain water and sea spray on the nose. The mid-weight palate has a tangy, nearly briny, sense of minerality, with citrus flavors taking a back seat to the stony detail on the long, persistent, pungent finish. I love the energy and drive on this wine and would love to pair it with raw tuna and citrus or grilled swordfish with capers. 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
If the Rosé des Riceys from En Barmont is generous, verging on sensuous in nature, En Valingrain offers more linear, bordering on cerebral, pleasures (both are fantastic, I hasten to add). A pale light garnet robe, with hints of copper on the edges; the 2012 En Valingrain displays high-toned red fruit aromas, wild strawberry, cranberry, and rose hips, with a hint of brambles in the background. With air, the nose becomes more perfumed with pretty notes of wild roses, tangerine peel, and sandalwood. The palate is a bit reserved, in comparison to En Barmont, but has a fine mineral core and nervosity with wild strawberry and red cherry flavors giving way to a pungent earthiness. The finish is long and linear with an admirable persistence. Decant now or cellar for a few years to allow the elements to integrate. This is a lovely wine in the making and a fine expression of Rosé des Riceys! 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 six of his vineyards, 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
This is one of the best Champagnes I've ever had. No joke. From old vines grown on very dry chalky soil between Bouzy and Tauxières, the wine is equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made without dosage or sulfur, all from 2009 fruit. There are very few producers in Champagne who make a bottling totally without added sulfur. It's a risky thing to do, however in this case the results are absolutely breath-taking. Super aromatic with rich, mouth-filling and very sensuous fruit, the wine shows fully as much intense, taught minerality as it does succulent and voluptuous fruit. It's a wine that will change constantly as it's open, and deserves attention as it unfolds. Peter Liem has descrived the 2008 Violaine (the first vintage of this wine) as "one that speaks to the emotions as much as it does to the intellect." I'd say that's an apt assessment. (disgorged 1/13) -msb
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
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
A rich and effervescent rosé (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir) with all the fruit sourced from the Grand Cru of Ambonnay. There are delicate notes of wild red cherry and fresh strawberry tops, which sharply unfurls with richly concentrated flavors of ripe Tri-Star strawberries and candied cherry. Bold and powerful enough to have with a rare steak! 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
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
Hubert Soreau is is a vigneron whose wine exemplifies the dedication of small growers to producing distinctive Champagnes of terroir. Farming .49 ha near Epernay without chemicals, he produces tiny amounts of wine which ages in wood, sees long less aging under cork, and extended time in the cellar before release. The current Release of Le Clos l'Abee (base 2008 with this bottling) is vinous, waxy, layered, and burnished with plenty of savory and umami notes complementing the incisive minerality from the terroir. The aromatics balance yellow fruit and citrus peel with brioche and soil notes. This is a treat for fans of leesy, chalky Champagnes. There is a fine bead and a long, broad, elegant finish. (Dosage 5g/l; Disgorged Fall 2015) 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. 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
The cuvée Milliane Bourgonge rouge from grower Gabriel Billard offers everyday value in red Burgundy combining fruit with both substantial structure and complexity. Earthy rather than overtly fruity on the nose, it shows damp soil, red florals and a whiff of leather followed by faint cherries. Dark red fruit is dense on the palate and high-toned with fuji apples, bing cherries, and raspberry along with woody herbs. Quite tannic and aromatically tight when freshly opened, the structure softens and the fruit becomes more prominent with an hour or so in a decanter. I served it with braised chicken legs and mushrooms brightened with lemon and spring herbs but it would be excellent with cedar plank salmon or a burger right off the grill. Open early and enjoy! - Andy Paynter
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
While the jewel of the premier crus of Pernand-Vergelesses, like Les Lavières, the Ile de Vergelesses vineyard suffered substantially from the hail of 2013. Another in a series of what Claude de Nicolay refers to as “virtual vintages” only half the normal crop was harvested in the 2014 vintage. In light of the vintage character, fermentation was 40% whole cluster with a somewhat shorter elevage to emphasize the beautifully pure fruit. Here the nose shows a blend of black fruits, wood smoke, baking spices, and faint hints of anise. The mid-weight palate features blackberry, cassis, and blood orange flavors giving way to a pungent, nearly saline minerality, which carries thru on the persistent, sapid finish. This has impeccable balance, if not the power of more blockbuster vintages. This is attractive and has plenty of drive and detail to frame the pure, pretty fruit. John McIlwain
After serious devastation by hail in 2013 when Les Lavières was not bottled (but made into something akin to a vin doux naturel, which has yet to be bottled) 2014 produced a lovely, if substantially reduced crop from the cru. 20% whole cluster fermentation with no chaptalization and bottled at 12.3% abv. The 2014 Les Lavières is pretty and detailed, rather than powerful. The aromas are cool-toned and red-fruited, with hints of strawberry and wild cherry. The racy, supple palate has flavors of red raspberry, cherry, and pomegranate supported by fine, ripe tannins and bright acidity. And while this is no heavyweight, the purity of the fruit and the lively energy makes this a pleasure to taste and the structure certainly bodes well for mid-term ageability for this agréable à boire Burgundy. 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
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
From a steep clay/limestone slope facing east in the 1er Cru Les Bressandes, this is an old fashioned wine of terroir. It's subtle on the nose, but smells elegantly perfumed and structured. On the palate, dried fruit, herbs, and earth. This is not a tough wine, rather finessed in fact without overly ripe tannins, but it is a serious wine, and one that stands out amongst the more red-fruit driven 2015s. Perhaps due to how hot 2011 was early on (it was one of about 6 recorded years since the 1700s when harvest began in August in Burgundy), the fruit here is mature, and quite developed, but balances perfectly with the earthiness and mineral qualities of the wine. It's in a great place now, as it really reminds us of aged Burgundy, but it will be even better when it IS aged Burgundy! We'd recommend drinking now or holding 5-10 years.
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.
Located toward the bottom of the slope beneath Beaune Grèves and adjacent to Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Mariages is a mix of young and very old vines planted in clay and limestone soils. The 2015 expresses the prettier character of Beaune, with lovely wild strawberry, raspberry, and spice aromas giving way to notes of turned earth. The silky mid-weight palate shows sour cherry, wild raspberry, brambles, black tea, and chalky minerality on a long, supple, layered finish. There is a good sense of freshness, energy, and sap here. And while this is generous with its fruit at present, the balance is there for mid-term aging. Perfect for grilled pork medallions or braised chicken in mustard sauce. John McIlwain
From a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune, certified biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. Lovely light garnet color; subtle, delicate aromas of red fruits and flowers - quite complex and pretty with good ripeness in this excellent vintage - raspberry, tart cherry and blackberry. The palate is light but full-flavored and lovely with pure ripe red fruits, finishing with bright acidity and saline minerals. This is a subtle and delicious glass of Burgundy, at only 12% alcohol even in 2015 - enjoy now served cool or wait 5 to 8 years for a mature experience.
From vines averaging 40 years old from the lieux-dits Bussières, Chardannes, Les Herbues and Les Gamaires. Certified biodynamic. Domaine Arlaud's 2014 Chambolle-Musigny shows plenty of high-toned red fruit on the nose with aromas of pomegranate, wild cherry, and strawberry with hints of wood smoke and floral notes. On the sappy, mid-weight palate, pure red fruit flavors are underlain by a pungent chalky minerality which persists through on the long, fresh, tangy finish. This is classically Chambolle: stylish and pretty with good depth. Give this 3-5 years and enjoy for the next 10-15. John McIlwain
Maybe not a bruiser, but what a beauty! Wild strawberry, pomegranate, brown spices, super-pretty red fruits, herbal hints. Mid-weight palate, bright acid, luminous fruit, good volume and persistence on the finish-not just a little bit of that classic Burgundy peacock's tail. John McIlwain
From .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality. The 2012 Les Perrières is effusively floral with cherry blossoms and white flowers giving way to bright, pure cherry aromas and notes of spice. In the mouth it shows pretty black cherry, herb, and minerals on a medium bodied, but fine, palate with good sap and excellent energy following through on the lilting finish. John McIlwain
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 McIlwainFrom .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality
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
From mixed limestone and clay soils in premier crus Clos Baulet and Les Gruenchers, which bracket Clos Sorbe beneath the village of Morey-Saint-Denis. Another lovely wine from Stephane Magnien. Ruby in color and medium-bodied. This is quite perfumed immediately upon opening; red fruits and flowers dominate. Wild strawberry, red plums, dried rose aromas are followed by hints of bergamot and spices. The energetic palate balances ripeness and structure. There is lovely rich fruit here with offsetting earthiness. The dry extract and ripeness buffer ripe tannins and there is a beautiful purity of fruit. The finish is long and complex with discreet oak. Enjoyable now, but should become lovely with a few years in the cellar. JCM
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...
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey St. Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2014 is truly lovely and perfumed, displaying floral and red fruit aromas of bright cherry, wild strawberry and violets, with a hint of game and wood smoke. Beautiful, pure red fruits carry over on the palate, with flavors of perfectly ripe Morello cherry, strawberry, and mineral spice, with lip-smacking acidity and a savory tannic spine. This shows layers of fruit with a mineral foundation beneath. This is a beautiful and harmonious Faconnières and while delicious now, will be marvelous from 2025 on. John McIlwainBurgundy at Thanksgiving - Of course! We have a wide variety of delicious Pinot Noirs from the ripe and lovely 2014 Burgundy vintage in stock that will also grace your Thanksgiving table, starting at around $20 - give us a call for assistance in your selection.
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.
A touch of reduction on opening. An hour in the decanter reveals black cherry, black fruits, spices, and a kiss of anise on the nose. Not quite silken but softly textured, with ripe tannins and acid bringing up the finish. More blue-fruited on the palate with a good bit of earth just beneath the pretty fruit and spice. Soil notes become more prominent on second day as wine builds in weight and complexity. Very Vosne, if not flamboyantly so. This should be a compelling mid-weight Vosne with 5-6 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
Grolleau from Agnès and René Mosse! This is an all around fun and unique wine, with a vibrant nose, lots of character, and very light body. There's a bit of natural CO2 tingle , which seems to serve the wine well by lifting the bright fruit and preserving the freshness, a touch of pepper and a long mineral finish. We recommend a light chill and an open mind. Eben Lillie
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 a tiny parcel in La Croix Boissée, with 15 to 25 year-old Chenin vines on thin sandy clay soils over limestone. Slow fermentation in 500 liter tonneaux until "sec" - under 2 grams per liter of residual sugar. With lovely ripeness in the 2015 vintage, the wine shows aromas of lime-flower, stone, dried pear and apple, with a hint of hazelnut and spice. The palate opens with aeration to show intense dried pear, anise, beeswax and strong mineral flavors in a quite ripe and round frame with firm acidity. The intense citrus oil and dried herbs in the finish are typical of white Chinon. This is a beautiful and really unique expression of Chenin Blanc. Decant or open 1-2 hours before serving. Highly recommended!
Menu Pineau, also known as "Arbois" is described in Wine Grapes (J. Robinson et al.) as "an old variety from the Val de Loire named after it's similarity to Gros Pineau (Chenin Blanc)...although it has nothing to do with the village called Arbois in the Franche-Comté." It is an offspring of Gouais Blanc, along with many other European grapes, and is "a little more rustic, but less acid than Chenin Blanc," according to Thierry Puzelat. The 2015 La Tesnière Blanc by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is from organically-grown vines, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc, in this great parcel that abuts the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Bright pale gold color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, pear, fresh herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is lean, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, stone and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
(Our original review) One of our favorite Loire Valley reds is the Pierre and Catherine Breton Bourgueil Les Perrieres, and we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 2010. As opposed to the heavier and more forward 2009, the 2010 is lighter and medium-bodied, perfectly balanced with earthy, bright acidity and obviously built to last — a "grand vin!" From 70+ year-old vines in mid-slope on soil of clay and silica over limestone. Deep black/red color; elegant aromas of black fruits, earth and mint, subtle and beautiful. Intense fruit on the palate but not at all heavy — blackberry, red currant, black pepper, bitter chocolate and mint with a hint of oak, framed in cool acidity with a tannic structure that will carry this wine for twenty years or more. Powerful and complex yet balanced and elegant at 12.5% alcohol. This beautiful wine comes from the Bretons long experience with this parcel, their 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming and a masterful vinification and élevage, with minimal SO2, which allows great terroir expression and ageability. I will be putting this wine in my cellar, along with my 2010 Baudry Croix Boissee, and, if I can afford it, a 2010 Clos Rougeard, for a nice tasting in 2034! (Some details: Hand harvested into small boxes; 7 day cool maceration, wild yeast fermentation in oak vat without addition of SO2, progressively warmer over 15 days; no chaptalization, minimal extraction — one pumping over, no cap punching; aged in 10% new, 90% one-year-old barrels for two years with one racking; bottled after 2 1/2 years on a "flowering" day.) 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
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
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2015 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, dried pear, stone and honeyed citrus and minerals that continue in the long finish. A simply delicious dry Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc... DL
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.
50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau grown by Alain and Christine Bore, the sixth generation on their organic estate in Anjou. This unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Grolleau is really lovely - it's a bit riper and fuller than the 2014 version with lush aromas of blackberry and plum. The palate is round and supple with cool blackberry, cherry and raspberry fruit - quite ripe but lifted by fresh acidity. Serve a bit chilled with chicken, pork, vegetable dishes and mild cheeses. DL
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.
The 2012 Varenne de Combre is the more meditative and linear of the two Anjou whites from Grandes Vignes. Totally dry and crystalline, with great precision and a long mineral finish. This wine should age beautifully, but is also a treat with a little air. Textbook dry Chenin on schist soil... what more could you want? Eben Lillie
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
A beautiful Chenin Blanc, from a great vintage for Loire whites. There's a nice amount of weight and roundness in the mid-palate, so don't expect enamel-stripping acidity, but don't worry either... it's still totally dry. Vines are around 20 years old on average, from soils of schist and sandstone in the valley of Arcison, a small tributary of the Layon river. Pressed at low pressure, light racking of 12 hours with light lees recovery. 400L new wood for alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. Kept in old wood for 10 months. Golden yellow, with a touch of quince, and white peach. Just plain delicious Chenin Blanc. 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
Cabernet Franc with 6 weeks maceration in clay amphora, followed by 12 months of aging in amphora. Though it's a new experiment for the folks at Grandes Vignes, it's already a great success. Aromas of black cherry, dried herbs, and roses, with a broad and enveloping palate. With some time open, some smokey notes emerge, lending another dimension to the wine. Drinking this wine over the course of a few hours really broadened my understanding of the versatility of Cabernet Franc, and further convinced me of the great talent for wine making that the Vaillant family has. 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
Yum! This is a very gulpable Cab Franc from the folks at Domaine les Grandes Vignes. This has very little tannin, and a healthy amount of acidity and ripe red fruit, so it's a shoo-in for the chillable red category. There's nice density and richness, which can be missed with some Loire Valley natural wines (always good to have a medium bodied option in that category). There's no funk here, just pure fruit, so it's an easy fit for the dinner table, even for less "adventurous" palates. Eben Lillie
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 equalling 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.
Lise & Bertrand's 'Version Longue' is sourced from the same two terroirs in Montlouis as the Chenin Blanc for their regular 1er Rendez-Vous but with an extra year of elevage in large used barrels. Vines are a mix of 40 and 70 years old; soils are a combination of sand, silex, and clay over limestone. The 2014 is very bright and mineral, with persistent fruits of dried calimyrna figs, husky green pear skin, wildflower honey, and ripe Meyer lemon throughout. The palate is just off-dry with a high and persistent acidity that keeps the wine feeling fresh and supple into a lengthy finish. A great pairing for bloomy rind cheeses such as Camember or Brie, richer, not overly spicy Pakistani or North Indian cuisine, and any dish with wild mushrooms. Harmonious and elegant now, this will develop deliciously in the cellar for another 10 years. Drink with only a moderate chill. Karina Mackow
L'Appetillant is the Joussets' sparkling Montlouis, 100% Chenin Blanc, Champagne method (or should we say "Methode Traditionelle") made with no sulfur and no dosage. All cellar functions by gravity, no pumping, fermentation in one to seven year-old barrels, approximately 12 months on the lees. From 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone. This version is absolutely delicious with lovely aromas of pear, lime-flower, stone and caramel, quite subtle and complex. White fruits, citrus and stone on the palate with nice chalky, lemony length. Drink over the next three years. This is a beautiful wine and is highly recommended!
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 fermentaion 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
Up until this vintage, the only rosés available from Les Capriades were off-dry, but now there is finally a bone-dry cuvee! Made entirely from Gamay, it strikes a perfect balance of fruit and minerality which results in a zesty, refreshing wine awash in red berries, flowers, tangerine zest, and tart cranberries. This is the perfect sparkler to ring in the new year with. Tim Gagnon
One case of this lovely old Muscadet is available -not a great vintage to be sure, but a fascinating wine just the same and a testament to Jo Landron's great farming and natural vinifications. Open one to two hours in advance. Aromas of citrus peel, ripe yellow fruits, marzipan, almond and pepper. The palate is dense and full with ripe peach, stone, candied lemon, burned caramel and pear. Very high acidity combined with ripe mature fruit. A wine to sip with langoustines in sauce, monkfish with fennel, a full-flavored raw milk cheese...DL
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!
Domaine Louvetrie "Les Houx" (formerly known as "Hermine D'Or") is from a great parcel of thin sandy clay soils, rich with silica, quartz and iron, over a bedrock of gneiss and clay. Kept on the lees for 12 months. Normally one of the most scintillating and mineral of Muscadet, the 2015 is riper and rounder but equally delicious in a fuller-bodied more forward style. The wine shows lovely aromas of ripe pear, stone and anise that open nicely with aeration. The palate is round and supple but framed in firm acidity with ripe white fruits, citrus, stone and licorice and there's a nice mineral kick in the finish. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next few years, and will accompany oysters and grilled seafood, from flounder to monkfish, roast chicken and mild cheeses. David Lillie
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the weight 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.
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
Christophe Foucher makes brilliant natural wines on his 5 hectare estate, La Lunotte, in Couffy, on the southern bank of the Cher River, near St. Aignan, just a short distance from our friends at Clos Roche Blanche. Christophe grows Sauvignon Blanc, Menu Pineau, Cabernet Franc, Cot and Gamay, farmed with strict organic methods and vinified without sulfites or other additives and bottled by hand, unfiltered. The 2014 Rossignoux is a lovely natural Sauvignon that needs aeration for an hour or two before tasting. The wine is an opaque gold color and shows yellow fruit aromas with herbal and leafy notes, stone, pear and white pepper. The palate is rich and dense with peach, ripe pear, stone and earthy flavors athat develop nicely with time open. Serve this unusual and delicious wine with monkfish, chicken with mushrooms, full-flavored cheeses... Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines.
It’s been two years since we’ve seen any red wine from Christophe Foucher of La Lunotte, and we are thrilled to have it back! An engineering teacher-turned-winemaker, Christophe began farming his in-laws’ 5.5 hectares of vines in Couffy (within the Touraine AOC, though he declassifies his wines as Vin de France) full-time in 2000. Conversion to organic farming began only a year later, and he committed fully to the natural wine movement soon after. La Flou is 100% Cabernet Franc that is partially destemmed, fermented with native yeasts, and bottled without the use of SO2 or other additives at any time during the winemaking process. Compared with the last release of this wine, the 2015 offers more density and texture with dusty, plummy fruit on the nose along with aromas of white pepper, violet petals, and savory rhubarb. The palate is deep and dark with a fair amount of structure, pure blackberry fruit, and baking spice. A bit more serious than your average glouglou, serve with a slight chill and pair with roasted chicken, cured meats, or pork loin. Tim Gagnon
"Les Pichiaux" is a single vineyard plot of Sauvignon Blanc, with clay and limestone soils and vines around 35 years old. The grapes are direct pressed and élevage is on the lees in large, used barrels. Bright on the nose with notes of grapefruit and honeyed orange zest, the palate is juicy, fruity and not grassy! Think salty lemonade, ruby red grapefruit zest, fresh tropical acidity, and a stony minerality. Cari Bernard
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?
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!
Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, giving a rounder, more aromatic wine than Pepiere's granite terroirs. Tasted in February, the Gras Moutons sample from vat showed beautifully, very bright and lively with herbal, white fruit and citrus flavors and very firm acidity with good length. We're happy to report that 2015 is an excellent vintage for Gras Moutons, showing lovely aromas of lemon, almond, lime-flower, pear and dried herbs. The palate is less expressive now, showing stone and saline minerals with white fruits and herbal flavors, quite ripe but balanced with firm acidity. This is a lovely and very versatile wine - serve with anything from oysters to chicken. Delicious now, it will improve over the next five to eight years. DL
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
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!
Our friends Francois and Julien Pinon produce sensational Vouvray at their estate in Vallée du Cousse and the 2015 Silex Noir is another superb example. From approximatley 40 year-old vines on soils of clay and flint over limestone in the vineyards of Terné and Batailleries. The wine shows beautiful aromas of white fruits, citrus, wildflowers earth and honey. Chalky white fruits, earth, lemon and stone on the palate with nice finishing acicity and mineral flavors. A bit of residual sugar brings out all the best in this lovely Chenin Blanc, delicious now - decant a few hours in advance if possible - or cellar 20 to 30 years. Serve with rilletes and rillons, fish in sauce, lobster, langoustines and scallops, chicken in cream sauce, too... DL
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
The Olga Raffault "Champ Chenin" has always been one of the great white Chinons, often needing 10 years of aging before it would reveal its mysteries. Happily, the wine is now made in a more approachable style, without losing the intensity and ability to age of this lovely Chenin. The 2015 shows striking aromas of pear and apple liqueur, dried herbs and white pepper with hints of exotic fruits. The palate is elegant and firmly structured, with subtle white fruits, citrus peel and stone flavors. The finish is long, with lemony acids, stone and saline mineral flavors. This is a lovely and very distinctive Chenin Blanc that will accompany grilled fish, roast chicken and mild cheeses - or hold for five to twenty years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. 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 of 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
From a "clos" of older vines on clay and limestone soils, 28 days of fermentation, aged one year in three year-old barrels. The 2012 Champ Fou shows deep black/red color and ripe aromas of blackberry liqueur and red currant with hints of blueberry, chocolate and mint. The palate is cool and ripe with very supple black fruits beautifully balanced with juicy acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. The palate deepens with time open, the fruit becomes more lush and deep. Really lovely for current drinking, this will improve with three to five years in the cellar. Fabulous value! - David Lillie
This is a lovely Chenin Blanc from our organic friends at La Source du Ruault. Ripe but subtle aromas of pear, apple, citrus, lime-flower, hay and earth lead to the palate which is very mineral, with ripe lemony white fruits, almond, stone and herbal flavors and a very long intense chalky finish. A beautiful and very young Chenin that is scintillating and delicious now, best after a few days open or ten years in the cellar. Highly recommended and a great value!
The 2014 Source du Ruault is a beautiful and very affordable Saumur-Champigny, a product of thoughtful organic farming, and made with no added SO2! The wine shows lovely red/black color and deep aromas of strawberry and red currant liqueur. The palate is balanced and ripe with a lovely melange of red fruits, finishing with lingering fruit, earth and refreshing acidity. Serve cool and enjoy with pork and chicken dishes, charcuterie and mild cheeses. This excellent value is highly recommended!
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...?)
(60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay grown on sandy clay and flint soils over limestone in Cellettes, Chitenay and Fougères sur Bièvre, AOC Cheverny; 15-day whole cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels) 2015 is a great vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade; very pretty aromas of plum, strawberry and blood orange with rose and violet; chalky raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate, light but sappy and long with earthy citrus and berry fruits in the finish. This is a delightful, thirst-quenching red - serve cool with any chicken or pork dish, charcuterie and mild cheeses. DL
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
Lovely pale pink color, fresh, subtle aromas of crushed raspberry and blood orange, firm mousse with tart red fruits and citrus with refreshing acidity — a light and simply delicious sparkling rosé that's a fabulous value!
From a 1/2 hectare parcel of 35 to 40 year-old Pinot Noir vines on poor chalky soil with clay/limestone below, certified organic since 1999 and with biodynamic methods. Yields of 20 hl/ha, elevage in barrique, 50% new. The great farming of Isabelle and Alain Hasard gives wines of great density and character and the 2014 Mercurey "Brigadiere" is a great example. A bit of toasty oak frames deep strawberry and ripe cherry aromas with violet, blood orange and spice. The palate is supple and bright with lush, earthy blackberry and strawberry fruit that lingers in the long finish framed in saline minerals and good acidity. At 12% alcohol the wine combines ripeness and density but retains a bright refreshing character. Enjoy now served cool with roast chicken and lighter beef and pork dishes. Best perhaps 2018 to 2025 - lovely wine!
From 10 to 50 year-old vines grown on limestone soils (Middle Jurassic!) in the commune of Aluze, Cotes Chalonnaise, certified organic since 1999. This is a lovely Bourgogne Rouge, showing the ripeness of the 2015 vintage, but in a medium-bodied, balanced and bright style that is quite delicious! Vivid aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet and pepper, with a bright palate of blackberry and spicy red-currant/cherry fruit framed in mineral flavors and firm acidity. Delicious now served cool, it will benefit from decanting or a few years in the cellar as well. DL
Julien Guillot made beautiful wines in 2014 and this Pinot Noir is no exception, showing fabulous complexity, finesse and freshness. The lovely aromas are of raspberry, blood orange, tart plum, brown spice, earth and tea, for starters. The palate is soft, silky and refreshing with black fruits mingled with earth, citrus, stone and tea with tart plum and raspberry emerging in the finish. Any lover of natural wine should try this! 12.5% alcohol, no added SO2, 100% delicious. David Lillie
Claudie Jobard makes this lovely wine from 45 year-old vines on a south-east facing slope of pebbly clay/limestone soils near the Chateau de Rully in the Côte Chalonnaise between Mercurey and Bouzeron. Although not certified organic, the soils are plowed and farming is sustanable. The wine shows lovely bright aromas of morello cherry and raspberry, with floral and mineral notes. There is nice depth of fruit on the palate - blackberry and cherry - with earth and citrus. The fruit lingers on the refreshing finish. This is a lovely Pinot Noir for current drinking that will deepen and soften over the next three to five years. Serve with any grilled meat, especially lamb or duck, roast chicken and mild cheeses. DL
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
Bella Parra is a blend of primarily Cinsault, with some Syrah. There's something about Cinsault that offers bright red fruit, and a spicy, gamey character. I often describe it as "playful," as I find it stands out among many of the heartier and perhaps more heavy handed red varieties in the South. Here, it's given extra backbone through the addition of some Syrah, but the spirit is intact. This is a fun medium-bodied red, and a perfect carry over from the hot days of Summer into the Fall. Eben Lillie
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
Les Perles du Mont Blanc is an exciting and esoteric bottle of wine that shows the capabilities of Gringet. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast. There is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry and very complex wine that is sometimes reminiscent of Christmas spice and nuts, sometimes of apples and honey. On the palate it is rich, honey-tinged with dried white flowers, golden plums, and green apple matched with a bracing acidity. Serious enough for the geeks, but perfect for everyone. 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
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
"From one of those rare parcels of Cinsault du Roussillon on a correct terroir. This variety, which made the reputation of certain wines of the South before phylloxera, has been neglected or badly planted since. Ubac is a parcel on a 70% slope of gneiss facing due north with 40 year-old vines worked by hand and by horse. It's the Pinot Noir of the South for me! Fine material, very delicate, with length and a strong signature of the terroir. Whole berry maceration of ten days, then foot-tread and put in vat, with stems for the fine tannins they provide. 20 month aging in Austrian demi-muid, bottled by gravity." (Yields of 15 Hl/Ha, approx 20 mg SO2, 14% alc) 2012 looks to be a great vintage for L'Ubac. Tasted before bottling, the wine showed superb elegance and structure with fabulous length - opened on arrival in NY, the wine shows slight reduction then hints of cool blackberry and red-currant fruit with bitter chocolate and earth, but really quite closed. The palate is quite intense with deep black fruits, very firm acidity and fine tannins with dusty stone in the finish. No gobs here, but a sense of power and elegance to come. This is certainly one of the most interesting and profound reds from the South of France. Not for current drinking, probably best 2020 to 2030. DL
The vineyard work of Cyril Fhal is among the finest in France - his living soils and delicate vinifications produce brilliant natural wines that are in a class by themselves.The "Jeunes Vignes" is from 30 year-old Grenache vines in a parcel on gneiss subsoil called Mont-Redon. Hand-harvested into small baskets, foot pressing followed by three month vinification in wooden vats, then 8 months aging in stainless steel. 13% alcohol, bottled retaining some of the natural CO2. "An infusion of grapes, allowing an expression of the delicacy of the variety" Aromas of rose petal, wild strawberry, blackberry and spice, with citrus and animal notes. The palate is supple, fresh and very earthy with firm acids framing lovely strawberry, plum and spice flavors. This is an unusually pretty and complex Grenache, to be enjoyed over the next 3 to 5 years, serve quite cool.
Carbonic Malbec! Grown on a mix of limestone, clay, and small galets (pudding stones), the grapes go through a six-day carbonic maceration, and élevage is in cement tank for six months before bottling with a nominal amount of sulfur. The nose is bright with a mix of fresh strawberries, red cherries, and raspberries and just a touch of sweet spice. The palate is lightweight with integrated tannins and juicy red fruit. Would be great served with a slight chill! Cari Bernard
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
A thoroughly elegant wine that truly shows its Savoie roots! This wine is fermented and aged half in concrete egg à la Belluard, his very good friend, and half in used barrel. The result is a much more chiseled and ethereal interpretation of Chardonnay that you don’t get in either the Jura or Burgundy. Think soft aromas of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and mountain wildflower on the nose, yet the palate is much more invigorating and opens up with a bit of lush fruit anchored by laser sharp acidity, a slightly waxy, mouth-coating texture, and tangy minerals. Try this with sushi made from fattier fish. Tim Gagnon
In my opinion, David Dupasquier’s Mondeuse is his piece de resistance. The sunny clime and wide diurnal range naturally results in healthy vines and perfectly ripe grapes which the Dupasquier family masterfully makes into seriously delicious wines. This wine is deep with a dark purple robe and exhibits spicy blackberry fruit, black peppercorn, dried violet petals, and a touch of meaty funk reminiscent of northern Rhône Valley Syrah. The year spent in large neutral oak helps to soften the tannins and the year spent in bottle before release allows the fruit to integrate well with the spicy and savory flavors present on the palate. Pair this with grilled lamb or cheeseburgers! Tim Gagnon
I am always thrilled to have the wines of David Dupasquier in the shop. He consistently crafts fantastic, terroir-driven wines from his 15 hectare estate in Aimavigne. Here the climate seems more northern Rhone than Savoie with warm, sunny days and cool nights that ultimately benefit the vines. The Dupasquier’s vines are all planted in clay and limestone soils on southern facing slopes which lead to optimal ripening conditions in a region known for lean and mineral-driven wines. This Pinot Noir is fermented with native yeasts and is aged in huge old barrels for one year before being bottled and aged another year in their cellar before release. It shows bright, brambly red berry fruits with an irony edge on the nose and has a juicy acidity along with redder berry fruits on the palate. This is a fantastic, traditional wine! Tim Gagnon
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
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
Although the exact origins of this grape variety are unknown, the earliest mention of Persan was in 1846 in the department of Isère. This is exactly what has brought Nicolas Gonin to work with this variety. Nicolas farms 5.5 hectares in the village of Saint-Chef and spends his time between his own domaine and working in a nursery tracing the lineage of ancient grapes and trying to bring back the lost varieties of his region. Gonin’s Persan is harvested by hand and destemmed before it is fermented with native yeasts in enamel vats. The nose is rife with dark, smoky berries, graphite, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries. There are also even deeper hints of tar, pine resin, tobacco, violet petals, and pepper – almost brooding. The palate takes a different tone with bright, tart fruit and damp earth; pepper and herbs come forward and are backed by bold tannins and high-toned black berries on the finish. Serve slightly chilled alongside grilled lamb, cheeseburgers, or roasted duck breast. Tim Gagnon
The blend for Nicolas’ Blanc Classique cuvée changes every year and this vintage is a lip-smacking and delicious combination of Viognier, Altesse, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris planted in mainly gravel soils. Waxy lemon peel, green herbs, clementine, and anise abound on the nose, while the palate skews bright and mineral laden. Perhaps a bit more ripe than 2014, but perfectly balanced, it is much more mineral and high-acid than fruit-forward; green apple and fresh-squeezed orange pulp come through on the finish. Tim Gagnon
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 color is a dark red/black; the wine shows vivid aromas of ripe cassis and boysenberry with earth, musk, brown spice, violet and graphite. The palate is lush, ripe and very complex with cassis, prune, chocolate, earth and spice lifted by cool acidity that continues in the long, citrusy finish. Wow, delicious! Serve with grilled pork or beef, a daube provencal, strong cheeses and charcuterie or cellar for 5 to 8 years.
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
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!
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan and 15% Mourvedre grown in granite soils in Eric Laguerre's high-altitude vineyards in the Roussillon. Normally Eric's most dense and tannic red, the 2014 Le Ciste Rouge is a softer and immediately friendly wine that is delicious now and over the next 5 to 8 years. The aromas are a lovely melange of red fruits; red currant, tart cherry and blackberry with hints of earth, cocoa and spice. The palate is quite pretty and bright with raspberry and red-currant fruit, violets and licorice with soft tannins and refreshing acidity. At 12.5% alcohol it's balanced and versatile, perfect with roast or grilled chicken, grilled pork, charcuterie and mild cheeses, serve cool and enjoy!
From 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Maccabeu and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. Very pale bronze color. The wine shows intriguing aromas of stone, dried pear, citrus and almond that deepen on the palate. Quite dense and backed with firm acidity and stone flavors, this is a real wine of the mountains, echoing the granite soils of Muscadet. This intriguing young wine will drink well over the next three to five years - it's an everyday white of great character that will accompany a wide variety of seafood and chicken dishes, goat and sheep cheeses as well. A fabulous value and highly recommended!
Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. Lovely pink/garnet color, aromas of raspberry, red currant, blood orange and spice. Beautiful bright red fruits on the palate with citrusy acids in a very firm, mineral frame and good length, really delicious! This is a real rosé of terroir that will gain complexity over the next few months and drink well through 2017. Perfect with a salade niçoise, grilled fish, chicken and pork and great to sip by itself. Highly recommended!
This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses. Absolutely superb! (The wine improves for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)
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. 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
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 12 cases for the US allocation. This beautiful dry (or almost dry) Jurançon shows a lovely pale gold color with elegant aromas of lemon, lime-flower, almond, stone, honeysuckle and brown spice. There is fabulous density on the palate with dried fruits, citrus, spice, stone and mineral flavors with scintillating, firm acidity. This is a very unusual and outstanding dry Jurançon - serve with fish or chicken in sauce, patés, and a wide variety of cheeses. Put a few in the cellar and re-visit in ten years. 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
We always have a bottle or two of good rosé on the Thanksgiving table, and it's funny how they're the first bottles to disappear! We're very proud of our rosé selection at Chambers Street - all fermented with wild yeasts and organically farmed, giving distinctive wines that pair beautifully with the autumnal flavors of Thanksgiving. We love the Les Fouques, but there are many more and all priced for a holiday crowd - try Ferme St Martin, Laguerre, Peybonhome, Fresche, Madonna Grazie, Romeo del Castello and many more...The 2015 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir! Made from 70% Cinsault and 10% each of Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino, the 2015 La Londe is a lovely pale pink/orange color with subtle aromas of peach skin, citrus, brown spice, raspberry and rose petal. The palate is light, balanced and long with red currant, raspberry and yellow fruits, blood orange, spice with saline mineral flavors and creamy fruit in the long finish. Drinking beautifully now, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, grilled tuna or chicken, salads, mild cheeses and berry desserts. Great sipped by itself as well - really delicious and 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
This vintage of the Cuvée de l'Aubigue 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
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
This is Maillet's blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Mondeuse (turns out, before the AOC was created for Savoie, reds in the region were often blended like this). The vines are around 50 years old on average, and yields are anywhere from 15 to 35 hl/ha (hecto-liters per hectare). Deep and dark on the nose with sultry blackberry and black licorice notes alongside more delicate aromas of strawberry seeds, pomegranate, and savory herbs. The palate is quite fresh and is a bit more straightforward than in years past, with dark berries, smoked meats, white pepper, and a juicy acidity. The finish leans towards the earthy, savory side, making me think that this would be perfect with gamier foods such as venison or lamb. Serve cool and decant. Tim Gagnon
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
Crispy, clean, fresh... a few adjectives that jump to mind when I think about this electric little Jacquere from Jacques Maillet. It's a joyful white wine, with subtle herbal undertones, and a touch of salinity that pair perfectly and keep us coming back for another glass. It's not a "simple" wine, but it is definitely simple to drink. Eben Lillie
2008 marks the first vintage of Vin Jaune ever produced by Domaine des Marnes Blanches. In short, it is beautiful. The nose is lively, almost ethereal, with aromas of toasted cashew, burnt orange rind, eastern spice, pine, and mango skin. Texturally speaking, it is one of the most interesting Vin Jaunes that I have tasted; it offers exquisite fruit with a touch of smoke on the palate and is lithe, intense, incredibly long, and elegant. Lovers of Vin Jaune, look no further: this is the wine for you. Tim Gagnon
For their sous voile wines, Geraud and Pauline Fromont have a separate, three-story cellar that creates an environment conducive to healthy layers of flor. It is dark and humid, with no temperature control, and different levels of humidity on each level influencing the wines in barrel differently. They put the wines in barrel (which are never sulfured) on hot days to assure that the flor develops quickly and they will not be moved again until after a minimum of three years. The Savagnin vines for this cuvée are 45 years old. Much like the 2011, the 2012 Savagnin is classic and precise with an emphasis on balance and freshness. Tropical fruits abound with fenugreek, curry powder, honey-baked walnuts, and saline pears. The palate is sharp and focused with a tangy saltiness and fresh fruit with nuts followed by dried flowers rushing forward on the finish. It is an impressively crafted wine that opens up beautifully at the table and would be perfect with a main course of veal or roasted chicken and also the Comté that will follow! Tim Gagnon
Although the 2015 vintage of this wine just became available, we wanted to highlight the 2014 as it is drinking beautifully right now. The Savagnin for this cuvée is sourced from a few different parcels, all of them vinified separately in neutral barrique before being blended together in stainless steel tank before bottling. It has all of the classic lusciousness that Savagnin can offer while also displaying wonderful purity and tension. This wine definitely has the structure to age well, as long as you have the will power! Tim Gagnon
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
Chardonnay sourced from a single parcel of old vines (the same parcel of vines is used to make the Crémant Reserve) in Ste-Agnès planted in white marl. A bit more delicate on the nose than Les Molates, it shows captivating aromas of tropical fruit and a hint of sea breeze. The palate possesses incredible depth and power; more mineral than fruit-forward at first. With time open on the table, it is firing on all cylinders with enticing flavors of lychee, white peach, jasmine, and salty pineapple stalk. Absolutely decant if drinking now, and this will also reward with time in the cellar. 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
Made from 100% Chardonnay grown in the same vineyard as Les Molates and fermented entirely in stainless steel before spending twelve to sixteen months on lees, this is a serious first foray into the sparkling wines from Domaine des Marnes Blanches. All of the base wine is from the 2014 vintage and this is the first year that this has been released without dosage. The nose is bright with honeysuckle, mango, and lime flower. On the palate it has a fine mousse with an almost toothsome texture; it is bone dry with hints of marmalade, exotic fruit, and a fresh, zesty acidity. This is simply the perfect apéritif. Tim Gagnon
A delicious wine from Jean-Francois Coutelou’s organic estate (certified in 1987) in the village of Puimisson in the Languedoc! Made from Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, the 2015 is a touch more rich than the past couple of vintages, yet is still fruit-driven with ample finesse and structure. It opens with a garrigue-tinged nose with licorice, black currant, and brambly blackberry with a lifted acidity on the palate. A perfect wine to pair with lamb burgers and rosemary roasted potatoes! Tim Gagnon
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...
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, 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!
100% Braucol from the Geddes family, who have been working biodynamically since 1999. My father and I tasted this and the dialogue went a bit like this: DL: "mmm.. tart rasberries, red currant, even some cranberry..." EL: "Jolly Rancher!" DL: "Nope" (but when was the last time he had a watermelon Jolly Rancher?) DL: "Well we can all agree it tastes and smells like roses." EL (nodding): "That's for sure." Now I've had the bottle open for several hours and the fruit is opening up a bit, showing even some strawberry notes on the palate. Dry it is, but mostly in the finish, which is particularly mineral and sharp, to me a perfect complement to the intense bright red fruit encountered in the attack. The folks at Mayragues waited on this wine, their 2015, which had a production of only 1,800 bottles, as they wanted it to be harmonious and balanced. We're glad they did. It's a lot of fun and complexity in a bottle for only $13.99! -Eben Lillie
This beautiful Languedoc red is from very old vines of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, grown in Thierry Navarre's mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. A bit softer than usual in 2014 the Cuvée Olivier shows lovely aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, red currant and dark chocolate with Provençal herbs and citrus. The palate is supple, soft and balanced - quite pretty with black and red fruits, earth, smoke and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Delicious now with a daube Niçoise, grilled meats or a Morrocan tagine, or cellar for 5 to 10 years. DL
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.
Tasted first week of February in France - the wine showed more fruit than usual, really lovely white and yellow fruits with floral and citrus notes, with an ample but very mineral palate and a beautiful chalky finish. We look forward to trying this again on March 12th - certainly an excellent vintage for Franck's Altesse!
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!
Anne-Marie Lavaysse farms this tiny estate in the Minervois in Biodynamie (certified Demeter) and uses no copper sulfate in the vines and no sulfur-dioxide in vinification. This is a wild and beautiful wine made from Muscat planted on a high plateau with rich limestone soils. Intoxicatingly pretty on the nose with bold floral notes mingling with musky tropical melon, waxy citrus peel, and salty pineapple stalk. Beautifully textured, citrus, white pepper, green herbs, and luscious mango linger on the tongue with ample acidity for balance. This would be the perfect aperitif, or would be great with rich, spicy fish dishes. Tim Gagnon
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 strqwberry, 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.
The 2012 Les Marnieres is a lovely Trousseau from the beautiful organic vineyards of Jean-Charles Maire, this parcel, "les Riantes," on scree on the slopes of Mont Poupet, as opposed to the Kimmeridgian limestone present in his other vineyards. Very pale garnet color. Lovely aromas of prune, rose, red currant, morello cherry and citrus peel. The palate is light but with good length and density, showing red currant, earth, spice and mineral flavors, finishing with tart cherry and saline minerals. Lovely wine! (Will keep a few more years but best consumed the day opened, very easy to do...)
From a 1/2 hectare parcel on Kimmeridgian limestone in Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. 11% alcohol. Very pale garnet color, really a rosé. Austere nose with subtle aromas of red-currant, strawberry, earth and beach rose. The palate is tart and light with red-currant, earth and stone, very crystalline and long. This is a wine of contemplation and definitely not a fruit-bomb! DL
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 old vines in "le Calise" on a hillside in Marnoz on a typical Jura "marnes" soil. The wine shows bright garnet/black color with earthy/meaty blackberry and tart cherry aromas with hints of citrus and spice. Bright blackberry fruit on the palate with nice density and firm earthy acidity, with minerals and blackberry/cherry fruit and a bit of tannin in the finish. Lovely now with grilled Charolais, charcuterie, young goat cheeses. Best after three to five years. 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
Les Gaudrettes is also made from Pinot Noir; however the grapes are vinified using carbonic maceration. The result is an invigorating wine rife with sappy red berries, white pepper, blood orange, cherry pit, and a hint of underbrush on the nose. More pretty red fruits and citrus shine through on the palate with a touch of salty minerals. Meatier tannins offer the wine a fair amount of structure, and more high-toned red fruits abound on the finish. This is an excellent vintage for this cuvee, and it is downright delicious. 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.
This is a delicious wine from Stéphane Tissot’s Biodynamic estate in Arbois! It is a blend of Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir that ferments and ages in 100-year-old, 2,000L foudre. It doesn’t see any SO2 at any time during the fermentation, and at 11% alcohol it is incredibly pure and fresh! Lots of red berry fruits mingle on the nose, and there is ample minerality on the palate accompanied by more berry fruits and a surprising amount of structure. Serve slightly chilled, and pair with summery foods of all kinds! Tim Gagnon
Finally! It’s been some time since we’ve had Tissot’s Poulsard on the shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited to have it back. 2015 was an excellent vintage for Stephane (and many other growers in France), and he says this may be his favorite Poulsard he’s made to date. Sourced from three parcels of 45- to 90-year-old vines planted in clay soils, vinified with only native yeasts, and no SO2 is added at any time! It has all of the high-toned, crunchy mineral purity (without the reduction!) that I love about this grape and the palate carries smoky berries, blood orange, iron, and juicy red plum flavors. It is a bit more structured and tannic than some other wines made with Poulsard (no doubt a characteristic of the old vines) making it a solid choice for charcuterie or heartier meats where you would want some cut. This is downright excellent. Tim Gagnon
Evelyn and Pascal Clairet craft this cuvée from 20-30-year-old Ploussard vines planted in clay and marl soils. The grapes are then hand-sorted and lightly pressed before undergoing full carbonic maceration in stainless steel tanks. Once this period is over, the juice is racked into neutral oak barrels where it will rest for three to four months before being bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without sulphur. The resulting wine is incredibly light and fresh with enticing aromas of strawberry jam and crushed red flowers. The palate offers more a bit more ripeness than the 2014, with bright red fruits that are also found on the nose, along with minerals and lip-smacking acidity. It is a pure joy to drink slightly chilled before a meal and is great alongside grilled chicken, vegetable dishes, or charcuterie! Tim Gagnon
Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignan, aged for six years in ancient barrels, bottled without collage (fining) or filtration. High-toned red fruits, blood orange, brown spice, tobacco and cocoa aromas, really complex and lovely. Chalky red fruits, earth and cocoa with fresh acidity on the palate. Ripe and deep but fresh and light as well, really balanced and lovely. A wonderful aperitf and of course with fruit desserts and chocolate. Bravo to Domaine Traginer! DL
(This full-flavored white would be fabulous with a Bouillabaisse made with seafood from Blue Moon Fish - or perhaps monkfish in a wine sauce) An outstanding and unusual white made by Jean-François Deu at the organic/biodynamic estate, Domaine du Traginer (Mule-driver) in Banyuls and Collioure. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Malvasia from low-yielding vines, on steep slopes of schistes above the Mediterranean. Light gold color. Intense and beautiful aromas of peach, lemon, stone, almond and pine with hints of red fruits and earth. Quite complex! The palate is supple and dense with mineral flavors, white and yellow fruits, citrus, pine and brown spice that linger in the very long finish with firm acidity. This is a delicious and versatile wine that will accompany shellfish, grilled fish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and more. Highly recommended! David Lillie
This is an unusual Collioure Rosé made by Jean-François Deu at the biodynamic Domaine du Traginer from one-third each Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Made with minimal sulfites, the wine is reductive and needs decanting or aeration, then shows opaque onion-skin color, aromas of ripe peach, raspberry, earth and ripe melon with brown spice. The palate is dense with peach, blood orange, stone and dried herbs, intriguing and very long. The wine deepens nicely with time open—really an itriguing natural rosé that will accompany a fish soup, grilled tuna, chicken and pork dishes. Recommended for lovers of natural wines.
The 2009 Chardonnay from Villet is certainly a contrast to the more straightforward 2011 bottling. Where the 2011 is ready to go, the '09 is a bit more contemplative and needs time to breath. There's a bit of gas, and it is slightly toasty upon opening, but this blows off eventually to reveal aromas of baked apples and spice, with creamy lemon in the mid-palate, and white stone fruit in the finish. This is a richer Chardonnay, one that sits longer in the mouth, and lingers longer in the finish, but it is still marked by a pronounced mineral quality and sharp acidity that are a trademark of the Villet style. Eben Lillie
From vines that Christine's father planted about 40 years ago, this was an instant hit with our staff and local customers alike. As is typical of the Villet Chardonnay offerings, the wine is not made in a sous-voile style, but vinified traditionally. It's fresh, mineral, and marked by a textural complexity that is compelling and exciting to the palate. Eben Lillie
The Tradition white from the Villets consists of 60% Chard ouillé (topped up) and 40% Savagnin sous voile. The wine is kept for 2 years in large barrels. It's deliciously oxidative with pretty floral aromas, white peach notes, and a graceful finish. Eben Lillie
This is a charming and comforting red from our friends Luc and Marie Michel of Zélige-Caravent, in the Pic-St-Loup appellation of the Languedoc. Primarily old-vines Grenache, with a touch of Syrah and Cinsault, it's full-bodied and silky, with crushed dark berry fruit and subtle grip. This is truly a satisfying red, and the perfect remedy for a cold winter night. Smooth enough to be enjoyed without food, this will shine with roasted meats, stews, spicy foods, or any hearty meal. Eben Lillie
Domaine Barou has been organic since the 1970s and also produces cherries, apricots and peaches. The Saint-Joseph vines are in Limony, on thin granite soils. Shallow plowing ("griffage") is done in the summer, with rye and clover growing between the rows in winter. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed, fermentations are with wild yeasts, aging is primarily in old barrels. The 2014 Saint-Joseph "Un Autre Monde" is astonishingly pretty with lush, deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, dark chocolate, blueberry and raspberry, warm earth and musk - you get the idea! The palate shows black fruits, firm acidity and mineral flavors with hints of cocoa, licorice and mint, supple and cool with a lovely finish of black fruits and minerals. Perhaps the best Saint-Joseph yet from Emmanuel and Marie-Agnes Barou - drink over the next three to five years, simply delicious!
The Barou family family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in Charnas, in the northern section of the AOC Saint-Joseph. Their 2015 Vin de Pays Marsanne is a simply superb everyday wine! Light bronze/gold color. Aromas of almond, lime-flower, honeysuckle, lemon peel and hay, really quite pretty. Ripe stone fruits on the palate, primarily peach and dried pear with lemon, spice and saline mineral flavors with good balancing acidity in the long finish. Serve this lovely wine with chicken, full-flavored fish, mild cheeses and Asian foods. This is a unique and delicious wine and an extraordinary value - highly recommended!
(98% Grenache with Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, 60 to 90 years old, picked late. 50% de-stemmed, aged in large barrels, casks and vats) As the name suggests, this is old-school CDP, almost all Grenache, not over-extracted or softened with Syrah and Mourvedre. "Bright ruby. Musky, expansive aromas of raspberry, strawberry compote and fresh flowers. Accentuated by a penetrating quality and impressive grip to the black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors. Finishes with alluring perfume and mounting tannins." JR Drink from 2014 to 2027.