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Anjou last year, Vin de France this year (the mystery of the Appellation board!), this is Chenin Blanc from Anjou, whether or not it's on the label. Dense, and crystalline, witn mint flower and and cooked apples on the nose, a touch of honeysuckle and vanilla on the palate. Stones, herbs, and a touch of refreshing salinity in the super long finish. This is truly a young wine, and a big expression of Chenin. A fascinating bottle to have over several days. One really gets the sense that this young Thomas Batardiere is getting very comfortable and connected with his vineyards.Drink now with a proper decant or put it away for a while! Eben Lillie
The lovely 2017 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry is all Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2019 the wine was quite pretty showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL
One of the great red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux is from a unique parcel of old vines near the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. (Harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in 3 to 5 year-old casks.) Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, combined with the ability to age beautifully in good vintages. While not as big as 2015 and 2016, the 2017s at Baudry have wonderful purity and freshness in a medium-bodied frame that accentuates the beauty of the fruit and the underlying minerality. The 2017 Les Grézeaux has lovely raspberry and strawberry fruit with earth, musk and spice. Pretty floral red fruits on the palate with vibrant acidity framed by flavors of graphite and stone. Becomes deeper and velvety with a few days open — really a lovely blend of fruit and terroir with nice balance. Enjoy it now or in 10 to 15 years...DL
From 30 to 35 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay and limestone near the Vienne river in organic agriculture. Hand harvested, fermented with wild yeasts, ages for 8 to 10 months in cement vats, minimal addition of SO2 prior to bottling. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. In the great 2018 vintage the wine is a sheer delight! 10 to 20% of the crop was lost to mildew, and the remaining berries were small but very ripe. Tasted at the domain in January 2019, the wine showed a deep black purple color with vibrant, lush aromas of cassis, red currant and boysenberry with deep sweet black raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate, surprisingly bright and balanced given the extra ripeness of the vintage. This is a superb Chinon to drink a bit cool over the next five to eight years - there should be a good quantity available but don't delay in trying this very special "basic" wine! David Lillie
Pierre-Olivier has made a simply delicious (and just a bit peculiar) Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. The wine shows a pale bronze color with aromas of ripe pear, lime flower, gingerbread and honeysuckle. Dry but with lovely ripe pear and apple on the palate framed in firm acidity, with stone, saline mineral flavors. It's both crisp, but also round and tropical, with almost an oxidative touch. All in all, there's a lot of character in this inexpensive wine - enjoy by itself or with any fish, chicken or white meat dish, great with goat cheeses and Asian foods as well.
This "poil dur" is wagging its tail again in 2018, showing the extra ripeness of this great vintage in the Loire Valley, with juicy aromas of blackberry, rose, spice and citrus. It's Gamay with a bit of Cabernet Franc in this vintage, with an extra layer of ripeness, and nice density of bright blackberry fruit, a bit floral and spicy. Quite refreshing with good length of lush berry fruits and citrusy acids in the finish. Serve a bit cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork - just delicious! David Lillie
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic/biodynamic vineyards on their superb terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoil, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. Slightly deeper and darker than the superb 2014, the 2015 Cuvée Chevalerie shows a lovely deep red/black color and elegant ripe blackberry and plum skin with black pepper, stone, prune and roast meat. The palate is well-structured, round and quite concentrated with complex black fruit liqueur, spice, bitter chocolate, licorice and truffle, with a long finish of sappy fruit and mineral flavors. This is a beautiful Bourgueil of terroir that con be enjoyed now with coq-qu-vin, steak au poivre and grilled lamb, best to wait 3 - 5 years, then drink until 2035 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
In 2017 Domaine du Closel lost 90% of their fruit to a devastating frost, but were able to purchase organic grapes from an estate on the other side of the Loire, on a great terroir of shale, to make this lovely Chenin. The wine shows ripe quince and pear aromas with floral hints, while the palate is ethereal and quite dry with firm acidity and saline mineral flavors under the subtle fruit. This will pair nicely with oysters and delicate seafood preparations, and should develop well with five to ten years of aging.
Grown on a 1/4 hectare parcel on a slope of clay over limestone where there is enough sand to discourage phylloxera, the vines are now 15 years-old and produce this distinctive wine, quite saline and with intriguing complexity. Drink this lovely Chinon, served cool, over the next five years.
This is a superb "les Picasses" from Jean, Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure at Chateau de Coulaine, who have been practising organic and biodynamic agriculture since taking charge in 1988. The parcel is at the top of the vineyard with southern exposure, on the classic clay/limestone "tuffeau" in Beaumont-en-Veron. This quite dense and powerful Chinon is aged in one-third new barrels and barrels of one and two wines.The wine shows a dark red/black color with beautiful aromas of ripe strawberry and black-raspberry with earth, citrus and spice, really deep and pretty. The palate is quite dense and a bit more round and open than the more austere 2014, with dark berry fruits framed in a touch of oak. The fruit is elegant and deep and the wine finishes with black fruits, earth, firm acidity and elegant tannins. This is a "serious" Chinon of terroir that will drink well young and will age beautifully as well, best 2022 to 2040.
From a 30 are (think REALLY small) parcel, from old vines of Cabernet Franc in goblet, that yielded about 10-15 hl/ht (think REALLY small yields). Nice material, dark and concentrated with lovely mineral structure from Schiste soils on a plateau in Faye D'Anjou. No SO2 added.
This Sancerre Rouge from Vincent Gaudry is the perfect introduction to fall. Drinking and breathing in this wine is like a walk through a well-manicured forest. The nose is all dried leaves, dried roses, and tree bark with moss, and the palate brings ripe and dried red fruits. "Vincengétorix" is a beautiful example of what Pinot Noir, and particularly the rarely found Pinot Fin clone, is capable of. The wine is biodynamically farmed, with whole-cluster fermentation, minimal SO2, and aged in used barrels, which allows it to truly display the terroir of Sancerre, more famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, but was historically known for its Pinot Noir. More concentrated and structured than many of today's Sancerre Rouge, it has plush tannins, a softer acidity, and a clean, stony finish. I know this wine will only continue to evolve with years of cellar-aging, but it is a pleasure to enjoy right now. Michelle DeWyngaert
Domaine Vincent Gaudry, located in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic and Biodynamic certified beginning in 1993. The 2017 "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" is from 50+ year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and is fermented naturally with wild yeasts. This is an outstanding Sancerre showing elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince, almond, citrus and lime-flower, really quite lovely. The palate is fresh and lively with dried pear, flint, smoke and herbal flavors, very silky and elegant and happily unlike most modern Sancerres. The stone and subtle fruit flavors continue in the refreshing finish, making this a superb food wine with anything from oysters to grilled fish and fish and chicken in sauce. And Crottin de Chavignol, of course. Highly recommended and a good value! David Lillie
The extra weight and density brought by the sunny 2018 vintage, combined with great minerality, makes this Sancerre a beautiful and crowd-pleasing choice for Thanksgiving. The extraordinary "Constellation du Scorpion" is from a small parcel of old massale-selection vines on silex soils over limestone and is fermented and aged in old barrels. The wine shows subtle aromas of dried pear and apple, almond, lemon verbena, wet stone, honeysuckle and white pepper - ripe but very fresh and bright. There is a very mineral attack on the palate with flint and earth flavors, grilled almond, dried pear, lemon peel, anise and apricot with lovely ripeness and a saline, mineral aspect in the finish which is elegant, clean and long with lingering white fruits. This is a young and racy Sancerre that will accompany oysters, shellfish, grilled fish and white meats and should develop beautifully with three to five years of cellaring - it's an outstanding Sancerre and a great value at this price. David Lillie
Upon visiting Fernand Girard back in the early 90s we were happy to find someone who harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeasts - a rarity in Sancerre at the time and still sadly in the minority today. More than 20 years later we are still happy to feature the Sancerre produced by Fernand and Alain Girard, coming from their 2.5 hectare plot on a steep slope in Chaddoux on stony clay over limestone soils. This is a classic Sancerre in a more mineral style that will accompany a wide variety of seafoods, chicken dishes and white meats, and it's a good value as well.
From old vines of Cabernet Franc on schist, most planted in 1953, de-stemmed, short fermentation with no extraction, bottled with minimal or zero SO2. The 2018 "53" shows a bright, deep red/purple color with lovely, very pure aromas of cassis and black raspberry with rose and a hint of spice, really lush and pretty. The palate is supple, round and ripe with dense cassis and berry fruit backed by firm acidity. The alcohol is a bit high, at 14%, but there is nice freshness to the wine and the fruit is extraordinarily pretty. Yum, serve cool and enjoy!! David Lillie
Coralie and Damien Delecheneau, from Domaine Grange Tiphaine, source fruit from four different parcels close to their winery in Montlouis, in the Loire Valley. Though three of four vineyards are certified organic, they are all practicing bio-dynamic. Aged in concrete tank for 5-6 months, the palate has perfect weight and the flavor profile is less exotic or citrus-driven. Instead, it's lean, and crisp, but textured, with stone fruit and lingering minerals in the finish. -EL
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.
2016 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 50 to 70 years old on classic soils of clay over limestone. 2016 was a very difficult vintage in the Loire Valley with many growers suffering huge loses to f rost on the 27th of April, followed by periods of intense mildew attacks until early July that further lowered yields. Weather in the summer and fall, however, was near perfect with dry sunny conditions prevailing and just the right amount of rain in September. Comparisons can be made to the 2002 and 2010 vintages. The 2016 Guion Prestige shows wonderful brightness and balance with lovely high-toned aromas of strawberry compote with floral, herbal and musky notes, with hints of roast coffee and bitter chocolate. There is intense material on the palate which is elegant and ripe with fine tannins, with bright strawberry and cherry fruits encased in brisk, very earthy acids. A brilliant wine that needs five years or more in the cellar, peak drinking perhaps 2023 to 2040. If drinking now decant well in advance or open/taste/re-cork two or three days beforehand. 1989 and 1990 tasted recently at the domaine were fantastic — given the low price, this is one of the world's great values to cellar. Thank you, Stéphane!
From 15 to 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils in Bourgueil, in organic agriculture since 1965. This is always one of the best values in the store and the 2018 happily rivals the 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 vintages for absolute awesomeness, even at the Trump Tariff price of $15.49! Beautiful red/black color. Lovely deep pure red currant and blackberry aromas with violets, pepper, earth, bitter chocolate, licorice and leafy notes. The palate is round and supple with deep berry fruits framed in firm chalky acids, earth flavors, cocoa and saline minerals. Terrific length - this is just a superb young Bourgueil! At 13% alcohol it's beautifully structured and delicious to drink now, and will be even better in 5 to 10 years. Thanks to the Guion family for two generations of organic farming and great wines at modest prices! Serve cool with chicken, pork, charcuterie and full-flavored fish dishes as well...
The 2018 Bourgueils of Stephane Guion, tasted in early February 2019, are just extraordinary, with an extra layer of vibrant fruit, beginning with this gorgeous Rosé. 50 years of organic farming and great traditional winemaking give this refreshing wine its perfect balance with beautiful fruit and great earthy expression of the limestone/clay terroir. The wine shows lush strawberry/raspberry aromas with citrus, rose and earth. Raspberry, blood orange, melon and earthy flavors on the ripe but dry palate which is framed in firm acidity and saline minerals. This is a real rosé of terroir, and for lovers of Cabernet Franc it's one of the greatest values around - drinking beautifully now and through 2020, with burgers, roast chicken, grilled pork and charcuterie. David Lillie (Sorry, arrival delayed until 8/1)
Forward and open which is unusual for Constance. Beautifully knit palate and very long with exceptional purity and at least 50 years ahead of it. DL
2018 Clos du Bourg Moelleux 1er Trie: 12.6% alc; 78 g/l RS; 3.8 g/l total acidity; pH 3.41
As a special Thanksgiving treat, we're happy to offer the rare and beautiful 2018 Huet Vouvray "Clos du Bourg" Sec. In this superb vintage for Vouvray, Domaine Huet produced very little dry wine, prefering to make Demi-Sec and Moelleux in this ripe vintage, but the small amount they made is absolutely gorgeous with lovely aromas of white fruits, flowers and stone. The palate is crystalline and elegant with white fruits and sensational minerality - just a great Chenin and a superb accompaniment to your feast! 2018 Clos du Bourg Sec: 13.7% alc; 4 g/l RS; 4.4 g/l total acidity; pH 3.16
2018 Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux 1er Trie: 12.6% alc; 79 g/l RS; 3.8 g/l total acidity; pH 3.37 The 2018 dessert wines from Huet are superb - this delicious Le Haut Lieu will be a perfect ending to your Thanksgiving....
2018 Le Mont Moelleux: 12.9% alc; 60 g/l RS; 3.7 g/l total acidity; pH 3.34
2018 Le Mont Moelleux 1er Trie: 12.5% alc; 95 g/l RS; 3.6 g/l total acidity; pH 3.45
The 2016 "Singulier - Clos aux Renards" is a brilliant dry Montlouis and certainly one of the finest dry Chenins of the Loire, made from 60 to 80 year-old Chenin vines on clay soils called "Aubuis" over Turonian limestone. All cellar functions are by gravity without pumping, fermentation is in two and three year-old 400 and 600 liter barrels. (The Joussets have banned all mechanization from this beautiful vineyard since 2015 - only people, horses and wheelbarrows allowed!) Best if decanted two hours in advance, the wine shows complex mineral infused aromas of citrus, pear, lime-flower and honey. The palate is lean and mineral with white fruits, racy citrus flavors and fresh herbs framed in saline acids. Serve this crystalline Montlouis with shellfish, scallops, foie gras, chicken with cream sauce and aged cheeses.
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.
This is Lise and Bertrand's foray into the 'orange wine' (skin contact) category. Here, they take the obscure Menu Pineau grape and let it sit with the skins for 9 weeks. The wine is then aged 11 months in barrel and an additional 2 months in tank. This is a fascinating wine, with notes of bergamot, burnt orange, eucalyptus and black tea. A touch of pleasant fruit and acidity provide balance, and the palate has fine tannins and structure. No sulfites added!
This is a Chenin Blanc that makes me picture spring meadows. Lise and Bertrand Jousset have created this wine from two organically farmed terroirs in Montlouis sur Loire - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils. "Premier Rendez-vous," which translates to 'the first encounter', is all about freshness and vibrancy. The nose shows notes of ripe cantaloupe, yellow peach, and budding flowers, and the palate has a beautiful texture and acidity brought on by the limestone and silex soils. The Joussets prefer to use as little sulfur as possible and have aged this wine in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels, giving this energetic wine slightly softened edges. Michelle DeWyngaert
Lise and Bertrand Jousset have crafted a delightful dry Chenin, "Vilain P'tit Chenin." The wine has an extremely complex nose, with notes of green apple, melon, sea breeze, and green olive. The wine's palate is rather dry, with vibrant acidity throughout. The tartness from the nose is certainly present in a citrus-driven palate, along with a lovely note of brioche, and a slightly savory brine.
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70-year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2015 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe black raspberry and red currant with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing earthy, ripe strawberry confit with black raspberry and licorice with firm mineral acidity and a bit less tannin than the 2014. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2023 to 2035+ David Lillie
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55-year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate is deep and ripe, showing earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate and firm structure. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will accompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And at $16.99 it's a fabulous value! David Lillie
We don't have Bernard Baudry's Chinon Rosé to offer for Thanksgiving, but this lovely wine from his neighbor Patrick Lambert is a delicious and worthy replacement. - This delightful Chinon Rosé comes from Patrick Lambert's 6 hectares of organic vines in Cravant, around the corner from his friend and mentor, Bernard Baudry. Hand harvested from 20-year-old Cabernet Franc vines on gravel and sandy clay soils over limestone. The 2018 shows lovely aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, citrus and rose; the palate is ripe and pretty with raspberry, citrus and stone flavors with nice density and texture, a bit more weight and ripeness than the 2017, with juicy acids, berry flavors and minerals in the finish. This is drinking beautifully now and will open up nicely through the spring and summer and will keep well into 2020. This is a fabulous value and highly recommended. DL
Christophe Foucher's 2017 "Rossignoux" (Sauvignon Blanc) is an outrageously delicious natural wine showing a bright gold color and slightly oxidative aromas of ripe pear, citrus, stone, hay and caramel. The palate is dense and creamy with sapid, ripe stone fruits framed in very firm saline minerals and earthy acidity. The finish is dense and long with dried pear, pine, lemon and herbal flavors lingering on the palate. Christophe is making beautiful, artisanal wines that are completely unique - we have 20 cases that will disappear quickly. Highly recommended! David Lillie
A first pass of Gamay yielded juice that Christophe found a bit lacking in material for a red, so he made this one-off rosé, vinified as always with no added SO2. A bit wild on the palate, with wild cherry and pomegranate notes, and a subtle 'funkiness' that is becoming less pronounced as the wine spends more time in bottle. -EL
Christophe Foucher is doing great work at his tiny domain in Couffy, near St. Aignan in Touraine. A neighbor of Clos Roche Blanche, he shares their philosophy, working organically in the vineyard and naturally in the cellar, with no added sulfur and no filtration. Trio is a blend of Menu Pineau and Sauvignon Blanc — the aromas are of honeyed pear and apple, dried herbs, white pepper and citrus peel, very earthy with a bit of spice and a hint of oxidation. On the palate there is ripe honeyed lemon confit, pear and stone and there is considerable weight with a bitter kick at the earthy finish. Serve with a full-flavored ceviche, fish in sauce or chicken with morels, Asian foods and strong cheeses - really fascinating and complex and highly recommended to any lover of natural wines. David Lillie
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 2018 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, fermented with indigenous yeasts and minimal SO2 is used. This is a beautiful Pouilly-Fume showing a very pale gold color and subtle aromas of lime-flower, lemon zest, white peach and pear, wet stone and a hint of exotic fruits. The palate shows ripe stone fruits - pear/peach/apricot - with a nice core of minerals. The finish brings firm acidity and strong mineral flavors under ripe stone fruits, and has nice purity partially due to the minimal dose of SO2. A lovely wine that will pair with a full-flavored fish dish, chicken in sauce, vegetable soups and goat cheeses, and it's a beautiful aperitif as well. David Lillie
First produced in 1988, this great Muscadet is made from a three hectare parcel of old massale-selection vines (all over 60 years old, with a high percentage much older) on a slope above the Maine. The bedrock is Granit de Château Thébaud, a fissured rock that allows the vines to penetrate deeply, with ideal thin topsoils of clay, with sand and gravel allowing good drainage. 2018 was a vintage of sunshine despite rains and mildew in the spring that lowered yields. The 2018 "Briords" shows vivid aromas of dried pear, bitter lemon, anise and herbs with surprising hints of exotic fruit backed with earth and mineral notes. The aromatic ripeness is more restrained on the palate which shows beautifully supple and dense pear and ripe apple fruit with quite firm acidity and finishing with nice grip and mineral flavors that linger on the palate. This is a beautiful "Briords," reminding me of 2009 - irresistible now but with enough acidity and structure to be a fabulous mature wine in 2029. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Domaine de la Pépière 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie "La Pépie" will go up in January to $16.49 (still a great value!) but the main reason to buy it now is that the current release is from the second bottling, with grapes from older vines that were picked later - the wine is denser with more minerality and acidity than the first bottling - really a delicious and well-structured Muscadet. Don't delay in grabbing a case or two in December from our pre-tariff inventory...!
We're exstatic to have this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon (pressed at Bregeon), the wine undergoes a slow fermentation and is then aged 42 months on the lees. Marc Ollivier considers this his favorite of his bottlings right now, along with the Château-Thébaud. From Bregeon's vines on Gabbro with clay topsoils (in conversion to organic) the 2015 Gorges is a complex, dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, smoke and petrol notes in addition to stone, pear, quince and mushroom. The palate is dense and intensely mineral with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the very long finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! David Lillie
(Will be 22.99 in December) This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss, in layers that permit a deep penetration bty the vines, with sandy clay and amphibolite stones. The vines are at the top of a hill and on the south facing slope overlooking the Maine. (The name, by the way, does not refer to fat sheep, but rather in local dialect, to the hilltop vineyard site.) This terroir produces lovely, classic Muscadet to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. The 2018 Gras Moutons is a sensational Muscadet showing a pale bronze color and beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with hints of anise, stone and almond; The palate is very dense and mineral with ripe pear and white peach, quite supple and ripe but framed in firm acidity. The finish is long and dense with white fruits, citrus and an almost bitter mineral aspect - this will pair beautifully with a full-flavored fish or chicken dish. Five to eight years of aging will bring out the complexity of this lovely wine. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
100% Cabernet Franc from the Pépière 10-hectare "home" vineyard in Clisson, where the rocky, granite-rich soils yield top-tier Melon de Bourgogne; the black grapes are in a section with a gentle slope and southwestern exposure. As with the Côt, the Cabernet Franc is harvested by hand, destemmed and crushed, with only the free-run juice used for the wine. It is fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeasts, followed by around five months of aging in stainless steel. The 2018 shows peppery Cab Franc aromas of ripe red currant and black raspberry, lush and earthy. The palate is ripe and round with bright acidity and deep red currant fruit with hints of licorice, mint, smoke and earth with a nice sappy finish. Serve with charcuterie, rilletes and rillons, pork and chicken dishes. Lovely wine! David Lillie
From Jullien Pineau, new proprietor of vines at the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine, comes this earthy and beautiful Pineau d'Aunis, organic farming of course and zero added sulfur. The wine shows lovely aromas of bright raspberry fruit with citrus peel, rose petal and white pepper; there is a prety blend of raspberry, cranberry and red currant fruit on the palate with flavors of earth and minerals backed by refreshing acidity. This is a delightful natural wine that will accompany a wide variety of lighter meat dishes, served cool. David Lillie
(Will be 30.99) Our friends Francois and Julien Pinon produce sensational Vouvray at their estate in Vallée du Cousse and the 2017 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 pear, green apple, honeysuckle, almond, lemon, kiwi and stone. The palate is lemony and tart, but also ripe and complex with flavors of pear and peach, tea, toasted almond and saline minerals. A bit of residual sugar brings out all the best in this lovely Chenin Blanc, which is a delicous combination of ripeness and firm tart acidity. 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... David Lillie
(Will be $32.99) The grapes for this new cuvée from Francois Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2018 it's fabulously ripe, dense and complex, with approximately 20 grams of RS per liter. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very supple and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great Vouvray with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully! Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
(Will be $27.99) A beautiful Vouvray Sec from our friends Julien and François Pinon, which rarely makes its way to the US. The 2018 is a bit riper than usual at 9 grams/liter RS, with bright aromas of lemon zest, stone, quince and honeysuckle. There is very firm acidity on the palate with citrus, stone, pine, earth and bitter almond with terrific structure and length. This should ideally be decanted or opened in advance if drinking now, and will be lovely in 10 years, or 20 years... David Lillie
François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex. The fermentation lasts 4 to 6 weeks without added yeast or sugar. 2015 is a beautiful year for this wine as the good weight and density of the vintage are balanced by firm acidity, contributing to the elegance and structure of this cuvée. The wine shows aromas of citrus peel, pear, green apple brioche, fines herbes, white flowers and stone, really quite elegant. The palate is creamy and dense, with pear, parsnip(?), stone, anise, mineral, herbal and bitter lemon flavors on the palate. (Sorry for the overwrought description, but the wine is extraodinary!) The mousse is fine and refreshing and there is fabulous length of white fruits and stone flavors lingering in the finish. This very young wine is superb now but is a great candidate for extended aging - for twenty years or more - a few years ago we tasted a 1976 Pinon Brut that was sensational! Highly recommended! David Lillie
50% Cot and 50% Grolleau, organically farmed in Vouvray by Julien and François Pinon. This is an elegant and very delicious Pet Nat that will accompany just about anything and is delightful as an aperitif by itself. The aromas are quite pretty with ripe raspberry, strawberry and red currant with hints of rose and blood orange. The palate is fresh and creamy with raspberry and tart strawberry with a nice mineral kick and sappy fruit in the refreshing finish. Grab this before it's gone... David Lillie
1985 was a vintage for Loire reds that showed bright red fruits with aromas of bell-pepper and firm acidity. As is often the case with less sunny vintages in the Loire, the 1985s improved steadily over the years and we have tasted many superb examples, with the complex secondary aromas and flavors of dark fruits, sous-bois, mushroom and spice supported by the bright acidity.
1989, the first of two dry, sunny seasons, is the best vintage for Loire reds since 1947. With terrific ripeness, the wines also had firm acidities leading to beautiful balance and the ability to age for twenty to thirty years and more. We haven't tasted this wine recently but it remains our favorite vintage for "Les Picasses," with 1990, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2010 following behind, though of course we like them all...
Another great vintage for the Raffault "Les Picasses," 1990 was the second of two hot, dry summers, producing wines that were lush, round and very ripe but lacking the perfect balance of the 1989s. Having said that, many people have preferred this vintage to 1989, finding it more velvety and forward.
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2014 was an excellent vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2014 Raffault Picasses shows a bright, red/black color with aromas of morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and prune with hints of licorice, earth and black pepper. The palate shows silky tannins and sappy red and black fruits with chalky minerals and firm acidity. Earthy prune, plum and cherry fruits linger in the long finish. Please decant two to three hours in advance if drinking now, then serve a bit cool with roast chicken, pork or lamb. This will sing a different song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2026 - 2040. DL
The Domaine cuvée from Olga Raffault is made up mostly of young vines from the Barnabes vineyard, planted on sandy soils right by the Loire River. This is a fresh and easy-drinking Chinon, displaying notes of red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, plum, crushed violet, cracked black pepper, and green bell pepper. Very approachable with soft, medium tannins, this a great wine to drink while the Picasses is maturing. Oskar Kostecki
From 25 - 30 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. Sébastien Cornille has quickly become one of the finest producers of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc on his 7 hectare estate in the Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières. The 2017 Jasnières "Clos des Molières" is a beautiful dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, dried herbs, almond, citrus and white pepper. The palate is dense but crystalline and somewhat austere - intensly mineral with white fruits, almond, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the scintillating finish. Serve now with an elegant shellfish or fish preparation or hold for ten to fifiteen years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
The talented Sébastien Cornille is making some of the most beautiful wines in Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir - The 2018 "Belle d'Aunis" is 100% Pineau d'Aunis from old vines in clay with silex soils over limestone in the Coteaux du Loir; 15 day semi-carbonic maceration, slow pressing and assembly with the "jus de goutte" followed by aging in 3 - 4 year-old barrels. The wine shows a bright red/garnet color with eleganr aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose petal with white pepper and earth. The palate shows chalky, sappy raspberry and tart cherry fruit, light but dense, elegant and long with earthy acidity lingering in the finish. Refreshing and delicious now, this should be quite interesting after three to five years in the cellar. Highly recommended. David Lillie
Sebastien Cornille's lovely 2018 "Guinguette" is made from a blend of 70% Pineau d’Aunis, 20% Gamay and 10 % Cabernet Franc sourced from 30+-year-old vines in biodynamic farming. It undergoes semi-carbonic maceration for 20 days in tank before the Pineau d’Aunis is pressed off to be aged in neutral barrique and the Gamay in tank. The 2018 Guinguette is a superb "vin de soif" offering bright aromas of peppery raspberry, cherry and violets, a bit riper than the 2017. The palate shows light but sappy raspberry, plum and red currant fruit with chalky minerals, spice and citrus. The finish is long and refreshing. Serve this lovely wine slightly chilled with charcuterie, of course, grilled pork and lamb, bluefish (?) and mild cow cheeses. David Lillie
The extra ripeness of the 2018 vintage makes this a great choice for Thanksgiving - 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 2018 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - honeyed pear, peach and kiwi with almond, floral and mineral notes, elegant and pure. Dried pear, citrus peel, almond, stone and herbal notes on the round and ripe palate with terrific density and a long, quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is an outstanding young Chenin that will open up over the next five to ten years, and it's a superb value as well. Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. DL
100% Chenin Blanc, from 15 - 30 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 2018 Jasnières shows pale bronze color with ripe aromas of pear, quince, almond, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate shows more fruit than the 2017, quite round and ripe, revealing almond, pear, stone, lemon and chalky minerals that continue in the long, very mineral finish. This is a young, complex Jasnières from a beautiful vintage that will benefit from decanting and should age well for ten to fifteen years. Serve now with shellfish, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
The 2015 "Roger Tessier" is a super Moelleux Romorantin, at 37 grams RS per liter, showing fabulous aromas and flavors of white fruits, citrus peel, melon, hay, almond... Just a beautiful wine, a rare and delicious example of Romorantin!
The lovely 2018 Tessier Cheverny Blanc is 80% Sauvignon Blanc with 10 % each of Menu Pineau and Chardonnay, farmed organically since 1998 and made with minmal SO2. Aromatically, there are a lot of textbook Sauv Blanc notes, but is still far from the intensely grassy and tropical, lychee-driven aromatics of many a yeasted Sauvignon across the globe. What the Cheverny Blanc also has is a bit of texture. It's refreshing, but also broad in the mouth, evolving quite a bit as it's open. It's a wine that will disappear quickly thanks to it's crisp drinkability, but will also reward those who take a moment to pay attention.
A new offering from the Tessiers, 100% Pineau D'Aunis. The name is a reference to the lesser known name for Pineau D'Aunis, Chenin Noir. Philippe planted the vines 7 years ago and had problems with weather in the first few years of potential production, so this is the first time the red was made. Still young, and showing some volatile acidity (that should be less present with 6 or more months in the bottle) there are darker fruit notes than we usually expect from Pineau D'Aunis. There's not as much bright red fruit here, but nonetheless a very expressive nose, with spice, and notes of crushed violets. We're looking forward to trying this once it's been stateside for a bit.
From a small parcel of clay and silex on limestone, 2/3 Cot and 1/3 Gamay. 40 year-old vines, organic since 1996, aged in old barrels, large and small, zero added SO2. Thierry Puzelat was a pioneer of natural wine-making and he continues with this beautiful "Guerrerie" from the lovely 2018 vintage in the Loire Valley. The wine shows a bright red/black color, with beautiful lush blackberry and black raspberry aromas, floral, minty, ripe and deep; the palate is sappy and supple with bright blackberry and red currant liqueur, very long and balanced with lemony acidity - just a beautiful wine - luscious now but it should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of aging. Highly recommended! David Lillie
The Puzelat brothers at the Clos du Tue-Boeuf produced a lovely Sauvignon Blanc in 2018, from organic grapes with almost no SO2 added - it's naturally delicious! The wine shows ripe aromas of pear, fig, almond, lemon confit, fines herbes and stone. The palate is ripe and round but balanced by firm acidity and mineral flavors framing the ripe white fruits. The finish is long and juicy with bright acidity and chalky minerals. This will accompany just about anything this summer from fish to chicken to pork, and great with any mild cheeses. David Lillie
Domaine Vacheron is one of the few organic and Biodynamic estates in Sancerre. The 2018 is from 30 to 50 year-old vines on both chalk and silex hillside parcels. The grapes are hand-harvested, the fermentation is wth wild yeasts and the wine is aged in tank. The wine shows a pale bronze color and subtle armoas of pear, quince, lime-flower and stone with a bit more ripeness than 2015 or 2016 due to the sunny condions and low rainfall in 2018. The palate is silky and crisp, showing stone and mineral flavors that underly ripe white fruits, citrus peel, almond and mineral flavors, leading to a very clean, long and refreshing finish. Light enough to pair well with oysters, this will accompany any mild flavored fish or chicken dish and goat cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in Quincy at least since the 15th century and produces a particularly distinctive wine on the gravel and silex soils of the Domaine de Villalin's vineyard "Les Grands Vignes." The estate is clearly the finest in Quincy, farming with organic methods, plowing (sometimes with horses), harvesting by hand and fermenting with wild yeasts.
(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) 2018 is another great vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade; slight reduction then very pretty aromas of plum, strawberry and blood orange with rose and white pepper; tart cherry and chalky raspberry/strawberry fruit on the palate, light but sappy and long with earthy citrus and berry fruits in the refreshing finish. This is a delightfully natural thirst-quenching red - serve cool with any chicken or pork dish, charcuterie and mild cheeses. DL