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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 Baudry Chinon "Domaine" is always one of our favorite reds from the Loire Valley and it's a sensational value as well. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin sandy clay over limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, 2 week wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old barrels or cement vats, bottled two Springs after harvest, with minimal added SO2, unfiltered. The Baudrys are making elegant, soulful, natural wines from their superb terroirs in Chinon. The 2016 Cuvée Domaine is a beautiful wine, showing a deep black/red color with complex aromas of black raspberry and red currant with musk, earth, violet and black pepper. On the palate the elegant black and red fruits are joined by cocoa, bitter chocolate, plum skin and intense mineral flavors that are framed in firm acidity. The texture is silky, yet earthy and stony with a bracing mineral finish and the lingering memory of bright red fruits. In other words, it's a delicious Chinon that will benefit from aeration or a few years in the cellar. Hold a few bottles until 2040 for a nice surprise. David Lillie
"Les Grézeaux" is at the bottom of the slope in Sonnay on a plateau of gravel with sandy clay soils above limestone that slopes gently down towards the Vienne, the vines are 60 to 70 years old. The wine is aged in five to ten year-old barrels with no added SO2, with a tiny amount added prior to bottling. Tasted from barrel in January of 2017 and 2018, the wine showed beautifully with very floral black fruit aromas and lovely density on the palate with black raspberry, spice and earth, firm and balanced but not overly tannic, with lush fruit lingering in the very long finish. This is a bit firmer and should cellar better than the more forward 2015 - it's a beautiful wine but we have about one-third of the normal allocation, so don't delay. Tasted from bottle in November 2018, the aromas seem brighter, crushed raspberry and black raspberry with stone, spice and floral hints. The palate is tighter and sapid with the mineral components firmly backing the dense black fruits, with stone, citrus and blackberries in the finish. Drink the 2015 now and put this away for five years, or give it a long decant if drinking now. Lovely wine. David Lillie
From 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. The wine shows aromas of ripe red currant and cassis with hints of violet, citrus, earth, graphite, pepper and herbs. The palate is quite mineral with firm stony acids underlying lush, chalky berry fruits, and is beautifully balanced at 12% alcohol. Quite structured for "les Granges," this is delicious now, served cool, with roast chicken, white meats, charcuterie and mild cheeses and will imporve with 3 to 5 years of aging.
Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme and Thierry Puzelat used to co-helm a négociant project (aptly named Puzelat-Bonhomme) for a number of years until Thierry had to take on full responsibility of his family's estate, Clos du Tue-Bœuf. Luckily, Pierre-O was poised to take over the reins fully and continues to produce delectable wines from the Cheverny/Touraine region in the Loire. Pierre-O currently works ten hectares and still sources some fruit from trusted friends, also working organically. This vintage of the Vercheny (an anagram of Cheverny) is 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Gamay. Grapes are hand-harvested, whole cluster fermentation occurs in vat, and the wine ages for at least six months in used 500L barrels. A spectrum of red fruits present on the nose, with fresh red cherries slowly evolving into cherry candy syrup as your nose lingers in the glass. This comes alongside initial notes of seaweed, raspberry seeds, and savory cheese rind. The wine is bright with acidity and a touch of structure framing juicy red raspberries, strawberies, cherries and tangy red apple skin on the lingering finish. Cari Bernard
From 50-75 year old vines located in the sweet spot of the Mont Damnés vineyard (bottom of the slope, near Clos La Neore of Vatan), this is usually the most powerful wine from Boulay's lineup. One of the very best Sancerres, drink now or cellar ten to fifteen years.
A price reduction from the importer enables us to sell the last two cases at a lower price - take advantage! "Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Wines from this vineyard are built to age and this rare bottling from Domaine de la Chevalerie is a beautiful example. 2012 Loire reds are not big wines, but they have lovely bright fruit and are beautifully balanced with refreshing acidity. The 2012 "Grand Mont" shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with violet, earth, dark chocolate, citrus and game. The palate shows silky tannins and complex red and black fruits - beautifully balanced with bright acidity and mineral flavors. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last. Open the day before if drinking now, this will be a beautiful mature wine. 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 topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. 2014 is a superb vintage for the Cuvee Chevalerie which shows a lovely deep red color and fresh ripe black raspberry and cassis with black pepper, stone, prune and roast meat. The palate is well-structued 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 2030 and beyond. Highly recommended. David Lillie
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
This Cabernet Franc from Chateau de Coulaine is a lovely wine. Coming from 15-year old organically farmed grapes planted on yellow tuffeau stone and sandstone, the wine displays a nice structure of minerality, acidity and elegant tannin. The grapes are fermented with native yeast and aged in large oak barrels with small addition of sulfur at bottling. With a beautiful bouquet of pyrazine, black raspberry, dark cherry, white pepper, rose and savory notes, the wine has a fine energy with a luscious texture. Enjoy this wine with duck, grilled meat, stews or nutty cheeses. Caroline Coursant
Domaine Dauny in Crézancy has been organic since 1964 - Nicole and Christian are the twelveth generation at the estate! The Dauny Clos du Roy is from 40 year-old vines in this famous limestone vineyard. The 2017 shows ripe pear and apple aromas with fig, lemon and lime-flower. The palate is round, ripe and balanced with white fruit, herbal and mineral flavors backed by crisp acidity. The finish is long with dried pear, stone and anise flavors. This is a lovely Sancerre from an excellent vintage that will accompany almost any seafood dishes, chicken and white meats as well.
2015 was a difficult vintage for Chenin Blanc in the Loire, from my experience. Many naturally vinified wines made without temp control (or other shortcuts) didn't finish fermentation. The heat and dryness of the vintage caused challenges compared to milder years with higher acidity and more freshness. There were of course exceptions, and some producers came out of 2015 with some dense and impressive expressions of Chenin Blanc. Philippe Delmee's Patience is one of these exceptions. Just beginning to really sing, it has the potential to age beautifully for many years to come. There is a firm mineral backbone that gives structure and lingers long into the finish. On the palate, it has nice medium weight and density. We recommend letting this Chenin breath for a while. It's worth the patience!Eben Lillie
This is a gorgeaous Sancerre Rouge, a product of Vincent Gaudry's wonderful biodynamic farming. Wild yeast fermentation, aging 12 months in used barrels. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, violet and spice, with a vibrant mineral character on the palate from the limestone soils. The fruit is sappy and dense but not heavy, with plum skin, black cherry and earthy flavors. The finish is long with bright chalky red fruits and refreshing acidity. Drink now, served quite cool, with roast chicken, grilled meats, veal tartare and mild cheeses or hold for five to ten years for a mature experience. This is a delicious Pinot Noir from a great terroir in Sancerre and it would be a great choice for Thanksgiving! David Lillie
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-plus 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 2017 Aubinaie from Grandes Vignes shows the silky and generous side of Cabernet Franc, along with it's funky 'barnyard' side. It's probably our favorite vintage of the wine yet, as it's effortlessly drinkable, satisfying, chillable yet still dark with ripe black berry fruit, and with very elegant and integrated tannins. 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.
Stéphane Guion's superb Bourgueil Rosé will differ from year to year, even finishing slightly sweet in certain vintages. In 2017, however, the wine is bone dry and tartly refreshing showing subtle and beautiful aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, green apple and rose petal. The palate is light and scintillating but with nice density of raspberry and red currant fruit, with a long finish of stone and citrusy acids. Serve this refreshing rosé with oysters vinaigrette, salade Nicoise, fried or grilled fish, roast chicken or turkey and mild cheeses. We don't get very much, so grab some now, and save a few bottles for next spring. Thanksgiving? Absolutely - it will go with everything on the table....David Lillie
Huet's Vouvray "Le Mont" is one of the great white wines of the world, especially in the Demi-Sec and Moelleux iterations, and 2002 is a classic vintage for sweet wines in the Loire. There is an extraordinary balance between vibrant fruit, perfect acidity and a firm mineral core that makes this wine delicious now or in twenty years.
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
The Jousset Vilain P'tit Ch'nin is a delightfully fresh and delicious Chenin Blanc at a great price. The wine shows bright citrus, pear, honeysuckle, fines herbes and stone aromas. The palate is vibrant and refreshing with stone, pear and saline mineral flavors with firm acidity in the bright, clean finish. This is a delicious aperitif and a versatile accopaniment for anything from sole to sushi, Asian foods and white meats.
"Mosquito" scratches that itch for a sublime bottle of thirst-quenching bubbles. The 2017 is made from Muscat grapes that Domaine Danjou-Banessy (Roussillon) generously gifted to the Jousset's after they lost most of their harvest to hail and frost. This is a pet-nat made by friends to share with friends. At 12% it's just a touch off-dry with aromas of exotic orange citrus, nutmeg, salty peach and honeycomb. There is a touch of Chenin Blanc which lends flavors of juicy pear and tart acidity. Try it with tangy goat cheeses, salads, or on its own. Amanda Bowman
We are very proud to offer the beautiful wines of Lise and Bertrand Jousset, whose goal is to make "living wines" from living soils and healthy vines in a balanced environment. All of their wines share a vivacity and natural complexity making them a joy to drink - due to great farming and careful vinifications with minimal intervention and minimal or zero added sulfur. The Montlouis "Singulier - Clos aux Renards" is a dry Montlouis 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. This is a wonderfully elegant Chenin Blanc showing a bright pale-gold color and beautiful aromas of creamy citrus, dried pear, fresh herbs, stone and smoke. There is an impression of sweetness but the palate is dry with ripe pear, peach and apricot fruit with stone and mineral flavors, chalky texture and fabulous length. Beautiful now, it will develop nicely with ten to fifteen years of cellaring. David Lillie
This unique Loire Valley Chardonnay is from 35 year-old old vines on sandy clay/limestone soils and was aged 24 months in barrel in the Jousset's "cave troglodyte," vinified and bottled with zero added SO2. The 2015 Les Audoines shows a pale gold/bronze color and aromas of ripe pear and quince with almond, lemon zest, brown spice and honeysuckle. The palate is full and round but with lemony acidity, showing creamy pear and white peach with hints of grapefuit and earth with a long finish of ripe pear and citrus. This is a full-bodied Chardonnay that will pair with a fish ceviche with coriander, fish or chicken in sauce, sole with almond. Lovely wine. DL
The Joussets have made a lovely natural Pinot Noir from Biodynamic fruit grown by Philippe Gilbert in Menetou-Salon - harvested, vinified and bottled by the Joussets. (40 year-old vines on kimmeridgian soils, zero added SO2) The wine shows a bright, clear dark red color, with aromas of ripe strawberry, black raspberry and violet, with a bit of cocoa and white pepper. There is ripe black raspberry and black cherry fruit on the palate, very fresh and bright with chalk and earthy flavors in the finish with lingering ripe fruits. This is a beautifully pure and delicious Pinot that is lovely now - serve cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken or pork. Aging for five to ten years might be very interesting. HIghly recommended! David Lillie
Simply put, this is top-shelf Pét-Nat for a picnic-friendly price. From organically farmed Chenin vines (45 years of age on average) in Montlouis-sur-Loire in soils of sand and silex over limestone. All cellar operations are by gravity, without pumping, the fermentation is in 3 to 6 year-old barriques of 225 and 400 liters. The wine is vibrant straw yellow and adorned with a fine mousse. The nose reveals aromas of ripe pear, Granny Smith, lime flower, creamy lemon with heather honey and stone. A finely chiseled palate is a bit off-dry with hints of dried pear, apple and anise over a core of saline minerals with terrific length. This is a thirst-quenching Pet-Nat, made without sulfur, that happens to be a serious and elegant wine!
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70 year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2014 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing pure blackberry fruit with earth and licorice with firm mineral acidity. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 to 2030+. Highly recommended. DL
La Haute Tradition is a beautiful Muscadet from our friend Jo Landron that is rarely seen in the US. The grapes are from old vines in the "Les Houx" vineyard on iron-rich clay over subsoils of orthogneiss with quartz, giving a dense powerful Muscadet that is aged for about a year in wooden foudres.The wine shows elegant aromas of lemon peel, stone, ripe pear, almond, anise and honeysuckle. While it's similar to Jo's superb Fief du Breil, the palate shows more ripeness - quite round and full for a Muscadet, with sapid white fruits, citrus, anise and licorice, with terrific density backed by firm acidity. The finish is long and lovely with with bitter lemon, pear, anise and stone. This is a superb Muscadet that should be opened well in advance or decanted if drinking now, or cellar five years then drink until 2035. Serve with fish in sauce, grilled lobster (!), veal, roast chicken and goat or sheep cheeses. David Lillie
Jo Landron's Fief du Breil is from a beautiful walled vineyard sloping towards the Sevre, with clay, sand and quartz stones over a bedrock of orthogneiss. The vines average 40 to 50 years of age, the vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic and gives very low yields. This beautiful twine needs aeration or decanting, then shows aromas of grapefrit skin, pear, lime-flower, candied citrus and almond. The palate is perfectly balanced - showing ripe white fruits, almond, anise and stone flavors with firm acidity and pronounced flavors of stone and saline mineral. This is a bit more forward than the granite based wines - really superb as a young wine served with shellfish, grilled fish and roast chicken. As usual with great Muscadet it will age beautifully and pair with monkfish, lobster and goat cheeses. Very little was imported, don't miss it! David Lillie
Jo Landron's Domaine Louvetrie "Les Houx" (formerly labeled "Hermine D'Or") is from a great parcel of 20 to 50 year-old vines on shallow sandy clay soils, rich with silica, quartz and iron, over a bedrock of gneiss and clay - a great terroir for Muscadet that always gives a dense, complex wine which benefits from medium-term aging. The 2017 is a great example and a sensational value. Lovely pale bronze color. A bit closed when first opened, then showing aromas of ripe pear, apple, lemon peel, a field in the sun, a hint of anise. The palate is dense and long with white fruits, stone, almond, iodine and citrus with perfect bracing acidity. Rather full-bodied for a Muscadet, this will accompany crab, lobster and monkfish as well as chicken, pork, Asian foods and goat cheeses. Or hold for a few years and serve with full-flavored fish dishes. Bravo, Jo Landron!
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 Pépière 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!
Made only in exceptional vintages, the Luneau-Papin "Excelsior - Clos des Noelles" is one of my favorite Muscadets, usually a bit rounder than the granite-soil "L D'Or" but always aromatically complex and with great intensity and length. The massale-selection vines were planted in 1936 on a terroir of "micaschistes a deux micas," (lieu-dit "La Plecisiere") exposed full south. The grapes are hand-harvested and undergo a slow wild yeast fermentation with 36 months of aging on the lees. The 2015 shows subtle, complex aromas of bitter lemon, lime-flower, melon, pear, mint, almond and stone. The palate is silky, crystalline and dense with white fruits, lemon zest, almond, smoke and wet stone with fabulous length of pear, minerals and taut acidity. Please decant if drinking now, serve with any elegant seafood dish. Cellar five to fifteen years and serve with richer fish dishes, white meats, rabbit. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
The superb Luneau-Papin "L d'Or" is from 45 year-old Melon de Bourgogne vines on a parcel of "Granite a deux micas" in Vallet on a south-facing slope. The wine shows a pale gold color and aromas of pear, green apple, almond, lemon confit, lime-flower and wet stone. The palate is dense and crystalline with saline acidity underlying flavors of dried pear, anise, flint and citrus zest with hints of melon and almond. The finish is long with silky pear and earthy citrus fruit and lingering saline acidity. This is very similar to the superb 2014 - it's a breathtaking Muscadet to drink now with oysters, grilled lobster, broiled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses, it will go through a marvelous evolution over the next twenty years and accompany fish in sauce, chicken with morels and older goat cheeses.
(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 Granite 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.) The warm winter and early spring of 2017 in much of France brought early development to the vines, followed by a hard freeze at the end of April that killed the developing leaves and grapes. Losses were high in many parts of France, especially in the Loire Valley, and hot, dry summer weather further lessened the yields. Fortunately the quality of the resulting wines, is frequently outstanding as is the case with the superb 2017 Domaine de la Pépière "Briords." The harvest started two weeks early, on the 29th of August, bringing in ripe grapes with a lovely balance of maturity and acidity. The aromas are classic Briords, with white fruits, citrus rind, almond and stone with hints of white pepper and anise. The palate shows nice ripeness and density, a bit closed, with wet stone and citrus and very firm acidity underlying the tart white fruits. This is a tight and classy Briords that will need a decant if drinking young, preferably wait three to five years and drink until 2035(?). David Lillie
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 underwent a slower fermentation than at Bregeon, and was then aged 42 months on the lees. From Juliette Pope of David Bowler Wines "We tasted the 2014 Gorges out of vat, along with everything else, last January (2018) with Marc and Rémi, and it blew me away. Marc waxed quite poetic, declaring it 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 2014 Gorges is an austere yet dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond, melon and petrol notes in addition to bitter lemon, stone and white fruits. The palate is dense with ripe pear and quince, earth, almond, anise and citrus notes, with stone, lemon peel and white fruits lingering in the finish. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière 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.Tasted in France in January 2018, the wine showed a pale gold color with lovely aromas of dried pear, quince, almond, lemon-confit and stone, ripe but quite fresh. The palate was quite dense, showing firm acidity and mineral flavors supporting white fruits, citrus, anise and almond, with terrific length. This is an excellent "Clisson" with attractive forward fruit for early drinking as well as firm structure for aging of fifteen to twenty years or more. David Lillie
The grapes for this new cuvee from Francois Pinon 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 it's own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beatiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2017 the potential alcohol was not too high, so the Pinons vinified it as a dry wine, with 5.6 grams rs/liter. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very saline and mineral with roundwhite fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great dry 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
From a plot of old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2015 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, Aromas are transcendent to summer days with notes of crushed seashells, honeysuckle, and warm apricot skins. Flavors of briny half-shell, pear, and almond skin cascade with bright lemon and honey comb. This is delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
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! This is very highy recommended! David Lillie
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 differnet song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2026 - 2040.
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 2015 Jasnières "Clos es Molières" is an astonshing 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 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
A good Pineau d'Aunis is a great choice for Thanksgiving and Sebastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue has made a beautiful Belle d'Aunis in 2017. 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 lovely aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry and rose petal with white pepper and earth. The palate shows chalky, sappy raspberry and tart cherry fruit, light but dense 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 "Guinguette" is made from a blend of 80% Pineau d’Aunis and 20% Gamay 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 2017 Guinguette is a superb "vin de soif" offering bright aromas of peppery raspberry, cranberry, tart cherry and violets. The palate shows light but sappy raspberry, plum and red currant fruit with hints of grapefruit, clove and wet stone. The finish is tart and refreshing. Serve this lovely wine slightly chilled with charcuterie, of course, grilled pork and lamb, bluefish (?) and mild cow cheeses. David Lillie
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 2017 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - peach, pear, and kiwi with almond, honeysuckle, lime-flower and mineral notes. Dried peach and pear, citrus peel, stone and herbal notes on the palate with terrific density and a quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is an outstanding and mineral young Chenin that will open up over the next three to five years, and might be quite interesting at ten to fifteen years or age - 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 10 - 30 year-old vines on slopes 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 2017 Jasnières Sec shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower, quince and honeysuckle with hints of chalky stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate seems light in body but is quite intense with dried pear, anise , bitter lemon and saline, chalky minerals that continue in the long finish with firm citrusy acids. This is a crystalline, complex dry Jasnières that will benefit from decanting and should age well for ten to fifteen years. Serve now with shellfish, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses or age to serve with richer dishes. Lovely wine! DL
La Cave se Rebiffe is a crisp and refreshing Pétillant Naturel (the second fermentation occurs spontaneously in the bottle) made of Gamay, and Grolleau from vineyards in Montlouis. A beautiful rosy hue in the glass, the wine is peppery, fruity, and herbal on the nose with notes of raspberry seed, white pepper, and ripe strawberry. On the palate, the wine is clean and balanced with perhaps just a touch of sweetness to balance its ravishing acidity, and delicate, frothy bubbles. Like all of Saumon's wines, it's pretty, with lovely balance - more elegant and serious than your average vin de soif. Tim Gagnon
South of Saumur and west of Chinon (but legally in Anjou) is the sleepy village of Oiron where Benoit Blet at Domaine des Terres Blanches makes superb wines on an interesting terroir of sandstone(grès) under sandy clay topsoils. "Les Hautes Bruyères" is from old vines of Cabernet Franc; the wine undergoes a long slow fermentation with wild yeasts and is then gravity-fed into small 2 to 5 year-old barrriques for 18 months of aging. This is a unique and delicious Cab Franc that shows an opaque black/red color and intriguing aromas of ripe black raspberry and plum with hints of mint, citrus and earth. The palate is ripe and supple with an earthy texture, showing pretty blackberry and cassis fruit with bitter chocolate, citrus and mineral flavors that linger on the long finish. A bit different from either an Anjou or Chinon red, the Hautes Bruyères will accompany a variety of poultry and pork dishes and will be great with grilled foods this summer, served a bit cool. David Lillie
The delicious 2017 Tessier Chevery Rouge is from 15 to 40 year-old vines of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cot grown in sandy clay soils. Wild yeasts, of course, and aging in old barrels with minimal SO2 added, bottled unfiltered. The yields were very low in 2017, about 15 hl/ha, giving a wine that is light, at 12% alcohol, but with lovely density of fruit, showing bright aromas of tart cherry and raspberry with plum, rose, citrus and brown spice. The palate is bright and refreshing with chalky, spiced berry fruits, plum skin and mineral flavors, ending with sappy red fruits and firm acidity. Serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
Jean-Paul Labaille continues the great work of his father-in-law Claude Thomas, creating one of the finest Sancerres from vines in "les Monts Damnees," an incredibly steep-south facing hillside in Chavignol on Kimmeridgian limestone and red clay which is perhaps the best vineyard site in Sancerre. The 2017 shows aromas of dried pear, flint, grapefruit skin, lime-flower, almond and stone. The palate shows firm acidity and flavors of grapefruit, pear and almond - refreshing and vibrant, the wine finishes beautifully with crystalline mineral flavors and lemony acids. Pair this with oysters, ceviche of sole, grilled fish and mild goat cheeses. Cellar for five to ten years and serve with fish in sauce, roast chicken with herbs... David Lillie
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. The 2017 has just arrived (March 1st 2018) and benefits from aeration, then shows subtle aromas of pear and quince with tart citrus and herbal notes. The palate is refreshing and bright with white fruits, gooseberry, fig and citrus flavors framed in firm acidity. If drinking now, open an hour in advance if possible - this should open up nicely by late spring for delicious drinking with a wide variety of fish and chicken dishes, salads and goat cheeses.
Hervé Villemade's 2017 Cheverny Blanc is a lovely and versatile wine, made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay grown on flinty sand and clay soils. The wine shows pretty aromas of pear, citrus, almond and stone with hints of boxwood and white flowers. The palate is supple with white and yellow fruits, ripe citrus, a bit of anise and herbal flavors and is nicely balanced with firm acidity. This is a delicious and refreshing everyday white that will accompany most seafood dishes, chicken, white meats and goat cheeses. David Lillie
(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) 2017 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
100% Gamay from Hervé Villemade is as delicious as it should be. Alluring aromas of plum, violets, and spice invite you to take a sip and then another, and another. Light and fresh on the palate, there is a satisfying crunchy texture and beautiful chalky minerality that adds dimension to the brambly fruits, sweet tobacco, and brown spice. Serve with a slight chill and remember to share! Amanda Bowman