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Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
Every year I taste Brice Omont’s wines I find that I like them even more than the last. This year is no exception! His 2015 Argile Rouge is made of 80% Gamay and 20% Persan (grown biodynamically) and is fermented with native yeasts. The wine then spends nine months in three- to five-year-old barrels before bottling. It is a touch smoky on the nose with red raspberry compote, pomegranate seeds, and a hint of rhubarb. On the palate it is lean and mineral driven with a lip-smacking acidity. This wine is incredibly pure and would pair well with all kinds of fatty foods. I’m thinking grilled pork belly at a barbecue! Tim Gagnon
Michel and Louis Bonzo acquired this estate in 1970 which is situated in St. Anne de Castellet, an area in Bandol with a terroir rich in limestone. This terroir, along with the estate’s desire for maintaining low yields each vintage (never more than 34 or 35 hl/ha), gives structure, balance, and elegance to these wines. Their 2014 Bandol Rouge is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsault and the nose offers classic Bandol funk with layers of sappy blackberry fruit, dark cherries, garrigue, citrus balm, roast meat and licorice. With time in the glass, there are succulent aromas of blueberry, vanilla, cinnamon, and a tinge of peppered beef. Chewy, blue-fruited, lush and with sultry tannins on the palate, this wine is at once ripe and juicy yet structured, possessing a tantalizing savory streak with a touch of smoke, black olive and spice. This wine is a joy to drink now, but can certainly age for 5-10 years. Tim Gagnon
This is a white blend, marrying Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), and Bourbelenc. It's medium - full bodied for a white, with notes of apple compote and baking spice. A prime candidate for wine drinkers who typically prefer reds, and truly a unique expression of the region's diverse grape varieties. Eben Lillie
Made from Gringet grown at 450m in elevation, this is serious stuff. It spends three years on the lees which results in a rich and textured wine, with delicate aromatics. It is quite powerful, and would give any Champagne a run for the money in terms of complexity. Tim Gagnon
Dominique’s Altesse shows a much more delicate side of this grape than most are familiar with, and I think this is a testament to his careful winemaking process. The vines in this parcel are quite young, and the original vines were sourced from the Dupasquier family in Jongieux, further south in the Savoie. Tim Gagnon
Called Le Feu (The Fire) for the bright red, iron-rich clay that litters the incredibly steep vineyards, this is Dominique’s top wine. It is his only single-parcel Gringet cuvée and the vines are situated at 450m in altitude. Tim Gagnon
This cuvée is made with Gringet sourced from two parcels, one being rich in yellow marl and the other with more broken-down limestone. It spends about six months aging in concrete eggs (separated by each different terroir) before being blended together in stainless steel tanks. Tim Gagnon
Jean-Baptiste Menigoz, a former school teacher, started his domaine with 2.4ha of vines in Abergement-le-Petit, west of Arbois, in 2012. Focusing on the classic varietals of the Jura, he makes honest, natural wines in the traditional ways of the region. His Chardonnay is always my personal favorite. Fermented and aged in neutral 600L demi-muid, it showcases the honey-tinged, tropical fruit and citrus that is a hallmark of this wine year after year. On the palate it is a touch nutty with salty, tangy pineapple, and an electric acidity anchored by a piercing mineral core. Perhaps a touch more ripe than past vintages, it maintains focus and precision. Tim Gagnon
I always love this wine, and the 2015 is no exception. Made from a blend of Fer Servadou, Negret de Banhars, and Cabernet Franc sourced from vines that average 30 years old. These grapes go through a 15-day-long carbonic maceration – the longest of all the 2015s. Wild and aromatic, it shows aromas of smashed red raspberry, vine tomato, basil, clementine, tobacco leaf, and iron. The palate has the trademark silkiness of all of Nicolas’ reds, with great tension and fruit. Strawberry liqueur comes to mind with herbs, a good touch of funk, and a smoky, meaty side. Pair with gamey meats (blood sausage!) and heartier fare for a real treat. Tim Gagnon
A deep, dark, and exuberant wine from Faugères! Located just outside of the village Lenthéric, the 28-hectare Clos Fantine estate is run by three siblings Carole, Corinne and Olivier Andrieu. They built their winery in 2000, three years after their father’s passing, and have been making wines the honest way since. All wines are made without any added SO2 and spend 17-20 months in huge concrete vats, depending on the vintage. A blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault (all vinified separately), it exudes classic aromas of savory herbs, black currant, citrus peel, peppered beef, and a wisp of smoke. It has ample fresh fruit and acidity on the palate with just enough earth and funk before finishing with a tinge of pepper and herbs. Tim Gagnon
From our friends at Chateau Colombiere in Fronton, not far from Toulouse in Southern France. This is a local grape called Negrette, blended with Syrah. The Negrette provides bright brambly fruit with nice acidity, and the Syrah gives us some dark supple material to beef up the blend. A great red for any kind of grilled food, and even versatile enough to have with a salad or appetizers. Eben Lillie
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec, this comes from a limestone parcel that Julien is very fond of. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster (not carbonic maceration) and the wine is aged in cement. It has a vibrant nose, with bright red cherry fruit and a little spice on the palate. Very light tannin, and a fresh mineral finish. This may not be as dark as some expect from Malbec, but it's definitely a hearty wine nonetheless. For me it's a perfect all weather wine, substantial enough to satisfy in the winter months, and fresh and lively enough to serve with a slight chill when the grills come out in the summer. Eben Lillie
Nicole and Jean-Marc Dournel’s Cuvée Domaine is a classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon that is vinified with native yeasts in tank and then is aged in the traditional large-format barrels of the Bergerac region. Aromas of cherry liqueur, cedar, and a hint of pipe tobacco rise from the glass. On the palate it is fresh with high-toned red raspberry coming forward before retreating, allowing layers of smoke, toasted earth, and dried flowers to take the stage. This is a serious and structured wine that would give any Bordeaux a run for its money, both in quality and in price! Decant or open well in advance, or cellar 5 to ten years.
When thinking of the Bergerac region of France, high-quality, thirst-quenching wines generally aren't the first things that come to mind. Enter Nicole Dournel of Domaine des Costes, who took over this estate as a tenant farmer in 1992. Her wines are crafted with care using organically farmed grapes and native yeasts to carry out fermentation. This cuvée is made of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon planted in sandy, stony soils over gravel. The result is a more feminine wine with a bouquet of cherry liqueur, dusty red plum, cassis, pomegranate seeds, and a touch of meaty funk. On the palate it is dusty, earthy, and brambly with bright dark berry fruit and fantastic structure. This would be perfect with roasted pork loin and root vegetables! Tim Gagnon
Costes is an old French term for hillsides or slopes, which is very fitting for this hillside vineyard located in Bergerac. The soil is a favorable combination of stone, sandy clay, and rolled gravel over limestone, that suits the primarily Cabernet Franc vines grown on the Domaine des Costes Estate. Nicole and Jean-Luc Dournel took over the estate in 1992, overseeing the vineyard through its organic certification and biodynamic practices. Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this food friendly rose shows fresh red berries on the nose followed by wild strawberries, red currant, and a subtle, peppery finish on the palate. Serve chilled and enjoy with lighter meals all year!
Made from Chasselas planted in clay-rich soils and raised in concrete egg, I find this wine to offer more in terms of layers of texture and in density than his other cuvées. It still maintains a ravishing acidity and ample minerality like all of his wines, but seems a bit more open aromatically with hints of crème brülée, almond milk, and zesty lemon meringue. These luscious aromas coalesce once on the palate with more succulent citrus and sea minerals coming forward. This would be fantastic with hearty poultry dishes (Thanksgiving anyone?) that balance savory and sweet, or with seared monkfish with parsnip purée and hazelnuts for the adventurous home cook. Tim Gagnon
An exciting new arrival from Dominique Lucas! Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 7.5 hectares of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. P’tit Coin de Paradis comes from a small parcel of 25-year-old Chasselas vines planted lower on the slope closer to Dominique’s house (his vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition). The wine is vinified using only native yeasts and is raised in a combination of concrete eggs and neutral demi-muid barrels. This vintage captures the essence of Chasselas with a precise bouquet of lemon zest, tropical fruit, and mountain wildflower. The palate is wonderfully textured, and perfectly balanced with beautiful tension between an intense minerality, bright fruit, and a bracing acidity. Blue Moon Fish at the TriBeCa farmer’s market makes some of the best smoked bluefish I’ve ever had (and has beautiful seafood in general), and I’m thinking this would be fantastic with a simple tartine of bluefish, cultured butter, fresh radish, and a parsley garnish. Tim Gagnon
2010 is in the zone. Expressively aromatic with wildflower, papaya, toasted hazelnuts, and hints of bergamot. The palate is rich and giving with heady flavors of smoked pineapple, herbs, honeycomb, and citrus. Firm minerality carries the fleshy tropical fruit flavors through an extraordinarily long finish. Powerful and finessed, this bottle deserves a place on your dinner table alongside shellfish, grilled fish with creamy, herb sauce, or a traditional raclette. Amanda Bowman
The 2010 is in the zone. Expressively aromatic with notes of wildflower, papaya, toasted hazelnuts, and hints of bergamot. The palate is rich and giving with heady flavors of smoked pineapple, herbs, honeycomb, and citrus. Firm minerality carries the fleshy tropical fruit flavors through an extraordinarily long finish. Powerful and finessed, this bottle deserves a place on your dinner table alongside shellfish, grilled fish with creamy, herb sauce, or a traditional raclette. Amanda Bowman
The 2012 is a captivating wine with true aging potential. Golden straw in the glass with inviting aromas of purple flowers, dried mango, peach skins, citrus peel, and hazelnut. The palate is exquisitely textured with minerals, nervy acidity, and creamy peach, honey, and yellow fruit flavors with hints of cinnamon spice, mountain herbs, and almonds. Very beguiling and complex. If drinking now, decant an hour before serving. This would be delicious paired with creamy cheeses, grilled chicken, or Thai mussels this summer. It will be even better in 3 to 5 years! Amanda Bowman
This a traditionally made Pinot Noir that benefits from sunny days, cool evenings, and long ageing. Like all of Dupasquier's wines, this Pinot Noir is fermented with native yeasts and is aged in foudres for one year before being bottled and aged another year in their cellar before release. The result is a wonderfully approachable Pinot with lovely aromas of bright raspberry, violets, and fresh red fruit. The palate is lean and energetic with grippy acidity. The long elevage lends a gentle, less austere, quality to the tannin. Satisfying notes of crunchy blueberry, black pepper, bramble fruit, and stone on a long finish. A ready-to-drink Pinot Noir at an excellent value. Amanda Bowman
All of the warmth, spice, and grip I love about the Rhone with the mellow spirit of the Beaujolais. What's not to love? The nose offers earthy spice, white pepper, plum, high-toned raspberry and crushed violets. The palate is an exercise in balance. Delightfully lean and light-bodied with energetic acidty from the cool nights to lift the warm flavors of herbs, annis, smoke, and tobacco spice with echoes of red/dark fruit. A great example of the maturing potential of Gamay. Drinking now and will continue to do so for the next couple of years. Amanda Bowman
100% Mourvedre from a small parcel, aged for a year in 6 hl used Austrian barrels (Stockinger), then kept in bottle. This is the most elegant and finessed Mourvedre I've ever tasted. At 12%, it's not light, but it is really charming, with developed earthy flavors, yet free from any chewy tannins. Really quite velvet-like smoothness, and ample complexity, with a long mineral finish. Certainly wins the award for the most 'beautiful' of the Enfants Sauvages offerings. It's a joy to drink, and a great chance to study the oft-blended Mourvedre grape on it's own. Eben Lillie
Roi des Lézards is all Carignan, from vines ranging from 35 - 75 years, aged in a combination of 1500 L Austrian Stockinger barrels, and 500 L used barrels. This is a significant bottle of Carignan, offering dark, purple fruit and good grip. The famous French term "garrigue" immediately comes to mind, even from smelling the wine. Used to describe the aromas typical of the shrubs and fauna of the Mediterranean, such as Thyme, Rosemary and Lavender, one couldn't find a better descriptor for the flavor profile of this wine. Most likely best enjoyed on the dinner table with grilled meats, stews, or other hearty fare. Eben Lillie
Now this is a first: Syrah is pressed like a rosé, then the Cinsault grapes are tossed (whole cluster) into the fermenting juice for 4 - 5 days, without extraction. The wine is then pressed, and kept in stainless steel. My tasting notes provide this information and are then followed by one word: "Yummy." They call it a "wonderful light and fruity summer wine." Combine the two and you get the idea. This is juicy, fresh and very light bodied. Truly a FUN wine, and one that will benefit from a little chill. 11.5% alc. Eben Lillie
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punch over), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punching down), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said, "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
This beautiful wine is made by Isabelle Carles and Franck Pascal at Le Jonc Blanc, an unusual limestone plateau in the Bergerac with shallow clay soils. Natural vinification with wild yeasts, no additives and minimal extraction. Aged in a large foudre, bottled without fining or filtration, no added SO2, certified organic and Biodynamic. The wine shows a very dark red/black color, with lovely fruit and floral aromas - rose, blackberry and raspberry with hints of dark chocolate and earth. Pretty berry fruits on the palate with cocoa and citrus lifted by refreshing acidity and finishing with a mineral core and citrusy black fruits. This is an extraordinary, pure and delicious wine that should be served slightly cool. Perfect with charcuterie, patés, chicken and pork dishes or just quaffed happily by itself. Highly recommended. DL
The Jonc Blanc 2014 PURE T is 100% Merlot grown on a small parcel of "marnes á astrea," a limestone conglomerate with seashells with thin clay topsoil. The wine is made with zero sulfur dioxide or other additives, fermented with wild yeasts and aged for two years in 1200 liter Taransaud foudres. Less than 300 cases are made of this beautiful wine that shows a dark black/red color and deep aromas of blackberry, cassis and bitter chocolate with roast meat and floral hints. There are lush black fruits on the palate, very silky and pure with good freshness, with firm acidity, berries and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a gorgeous wine that will accompany anything off the grill, pork stew and coq au vin. Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carle are doing beautiful work at Le Jonc Blanc and their wines deserve your attention. DL
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
Isabelle and Franck Pascal make this beautiful natural wine from Cabernet and Merlot grown on their Biodynamic estate near Felines, in Bergerac. The wine is aged sur-lie 12 months in barrel, and is bottled without filtration or added sulfur.The 2015 vintage has a dark robe. The nose displays the generosity of the vintage with aromas of ripe blackberries, black currants, and Italian plums with hints of cedar and graphite. The palate is rich, ripe, and deft with a good tension between the beautiful fruit and deep earth notes on a long, persistent, lifted finish. Fabulous with a grilled hanger steak, better still with magret of duck and strong cheeses. This is a tremendous value and should improve over 5-8 years. Delicious! John McIlwain
We're proud to be working with Isabelle and Franck Pascal, who make beautiful natural wines on their small estate near Félines in Bergerac. The estate is situated on a unique rectangular hill of two different limestones with very thin clay soils - really a great terroir, enhanced by superb Biodynamic farming. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Rouge is an outstanding wine, produced with zero added sulfur, a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. The color is dark black/red; the aromas are elegant, high-toned ripe blackberry and red currant with bitter chocolate, prune, spice and violets. The palate is deep and cool with supple black fruits, dark cocolate, earth, licorice and spice. The finish is long and pure with black fruits and firm acidity. Just delicious, but a bit tight - decant if possible or open a few hours in advance. Serve cool with charcuterie, grilled foods, stews, full-flavored cheeses. $12.99? Our thanks to Isabelle and Franck for their inspiring work.
This is a delightful rosé from our biodynamic friends, Isabelle Carle and Franck Pascal at le Jonc Blanc in Bergerac. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Semillon. The wine shows intriguing aromas of cassis, raspberry, orange peel, rose and spice with lovely cassis, citrus and mineral flavors on the palate that coninue on the long silky finish. This is an unusually delicious rosé that will sell out quickly, only 20 cases for the US! This estate produces outstanding wines through meticulous biodynamic farming and careful low or zero sulfite vinifications - we urge you to try all their wines, each one is delicious and inexpensive.
A beautiful Bandol rosè, primarily Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache. The Mourvedre is pressed and run off directly, the Cinsault and Grenache undergo 24 hours of skin contact. Certified organic grapes from the Bronzo family vineyard in Le Castellet. This is a complex, perfectly balanced wine, a bit brighter than the 2015, with lovely aromas of raspberry, peach, blood orange, rose and spice. The palate is dense with cherry and raspberry fruit, citrus and stone flavors, ripe and full with bright balancing acidity with terrific density and length and a bit of ripe cherry in the finish. Delicious now - please decant or open 1 hour in advance - this will improve over the next few years. Perfect with grilled tuna, Salade Nicoise, pork and chicken, bouillabaisse, of course, and mild cheeses.
This 100% Merlot from La Vrille et le Papillon has a dark, envoloping nose, with cassis and black fruit. There's impressive tannic structure and mineral complexity, and just enough acidity to lend length and lift to the finish. This is a serious full bodied red that is graceful enough to not exhaust your palate on it's own, and would be perfect for a BBQ or similar summer feast. Eben Lillie
Meryl and Geraldine Croizier are making lovely natural wines at their small estate in the Ardeche. The "Z" Rouge is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Merlot and shows pretty black fruit aromas with rose, earth and citrus. The palate is silky and supple, light but with nice density, with cool, complex black fruits and hints of bitter chocolate, licorice and earth that continue in the long complex finish. Serve this delicious natural wine quite cool this summer with grilled foods, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses. DL
Warning: Natural Wine! A light and lovely Viognier from La Vrille et le Papillon in the Ardeche. The wine shows bright floral aromas of lemon, lime-flower, peach, mint and stone, really quite pretty. There is a bit of petillance on the palate with creamy citrus, peach, apricot and hay. Light and refreshing, with citrus, stone and yeasty flavors in the finish, this is a perfect summer quaffer, naturally delicioius!
Eric Laguerre's "Le Ciste," (named after a flowering bush in and around his vineyards) is certainly one of the most distinctive whites of the Roussillon. Grown in Eric's high-elevation vineyards on acidic soils of decomposed granite, the wine is made from Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu. Yields are about 20 Hl/Ha, harvesting is by hand in small baskets, fermentation (wild yeasts) and aging is in small barrels. Complex aromas of lemon oil, thyme, hay and white fruits—a lovely melange with contributions from each variety and especially showing the Marsanne and Roussanne in 2015. The palate is dense, stony and saline with herbal, citrus, almond and white fruit flavors. The finish is long with mineral acids and white fruits that linger on the palate. Complex and distinctive as a young wine, this will accompany grilled fish as well as fish and chicken in sauce and goat cheeses, and should develop nicely with a few years of cellaring. Really a Grand Cru of the Roussillon and a great value! DL
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, grown in Eric and Corinne Laguerre's organic, high-altitude vineyards on granite soils in the Roussillon. 2015 is a great vintage for the Le Ciste Rouge, showing aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, roast meat, dark chocolate and earth.The palate is dense and supple with ripe berry fruits, licorice and spice supported by firm acidity with an elegant finish of earth, minerals and black fruits. This is a beautiful wine - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains - and a great value. Serve slightly cool with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses or cellar five to ten years. Highly recommended! DL
Eric Laguerre's "Le Passage" is from his highest parcel, at about 2,000 feet, on soils of decomposed granite. Organic farming, natural vinification, aged in used barrels. 80% Carignan with Syrah and Grenache. The 2015 is a lovely dark red/black color with deep aromas of blackberry, earth, dark chocolate brightened with violet and pepper. Dense, velvety black fruits on the palate - blackberry, prune and cocoa lifted by bright citrusy acids and finishing with a mineral kick. This is a beautiful expression of Eric's mountainside vineyards - showing the quality of his low-yielding Carignan. Drink now, served cool, with grilled meats, stews, and full-flavored cheeses, or hold a few years for a mature experieince...
2016 is a great vintage for Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc! From 30% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, very crisp and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and will be very refreshing by itself on a warm summer day. DL
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah grown in the Roussillon on very high-altitude vineyards of decomposed granite. Hand-harvested in small crates, yields of 20 hl/ha) The 2016 EOS Rouge shows bright aromas of tart cherry and blackberry, with dark chocolate and very floral notes, really bursting with fruit. The palate is supple and bright with cherry and red-currant fruit with acidity that coats the mouth. Very long finish of red fruits and juicy acids, quite elegant with nice tannic structure. This will go very well served cool with grilled meats and will benefit from short-term cellaring. An interesting wine that really shows the influence of the granite soils. A fabulous value!
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Chateau Lapuyade produces a complex, ripe, exotic style of "Sec" and the lovely 2013 is no exception. Pale gold color; ripe aromas of exotic fruit, citrus, butterscotch, honeysuckle and hay; the palate is ripe and round with pear, grapefruit spice and mineral flavors; very bright citrusy acidity in the finish with hay and minerals. This will evolve nicely re-corked in your fridge or with five to ten years of cellaring. Not for everyone perhaps, but this is really a unique and intense bottle of Jurancon! Serve with chicken or fish in sauce, full-flavored cheeses, patés and Asian foods.
Céline and Steve Gormally farm their 5 hectares in Passenans, to the southwest of Arbois, with strictly biodynamic methods and consistently make stunning natural wines. Arco is 100% Savagnin from 20-year-old vines planted in rocky soils with a limestone base. Vinified and aged in neutral barrels for 9 months, it is a beautiful example of how much care the Gormallys put into all of their wines. Gorgeous tropical fruit aromas abound with delicate hints of walnut, lime blossom, and wildflower. The palate is gently saline with pure fruit, a piercing minerality, and a wonderful texture that leads into a crystalline finish dotted with hints of tangy pineapple stalk. It is absolutely delicious. Tim Gagnon
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2016 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir showing lovely pale pink color with subtle aromas of peach skin, raspberry, orange peel, spice and rose. The palate is light, balanced, dense and long with ripe cherry, peach, citrus, spice and saline mineral flavors. Drinking beautifully now, especially with a bit of aeration, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, fish or chicken, salads and mild cheeses. Great sipped by itself as well, a delicious and "serious" rosé that is highly recommended!
From Michéle and Yves Gros at Domaine Les Fouques, this is the new Pétillant Rosé! Pale hued, perfumed and floral on the nose, with peaches and stone fruit on the palate. Méthode Traditionelle, Extra Brut, with great acidity and a refreshing chalky finish. Eben Lillie
Primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet, this biodynamic red from Provence shows deep plum and blackberry fruit aromas with earth, citrus and Provençal herbs. The palate is ripe and supple with dense black fruits, prune and brown spice lifted by bright acidity. In some vintages this wine can be a bit austere and tannic when young, but the 2014 is bursting with fruit and absolutely delicious for current drinking. Serve with grilled meats and stews, a daube niçoise perhaps, and full-flavored cheeses. Great value!
This vintage of the Cuvée de l'Aubigue Blanc is our favorite to date! A cornucopia of stone fruit and floral aromas. Quince, pear, honeysuckle on the nose, then lemon compote, herbs and mint along with perfect weight on the palate, and a long mineral finish. 80% Rolle (Vermentino), and equal parts Ugni Blanc and Clairette filling out the blend. Eben Lillie
We recently opened the 2014 and were pleased to find it's tasting better than ever! Classic white fruit, honeysuckle, and floral notes on the nose, and really nice balance between the acidity and the sun-kissed fruit that is now mellowing out and giving way to a drier and more mineral side of the wine. Maybe a touch softer than the 2015, so perhaps not as worthy of cellaring, but drinking now would be a treat, and I'm sure a few more years will do it well. Eben Lillie
This Roussette de Savoie is from a tiny parcel of old Altesse vines. The nose is expressive, with flowers and white fruits aplenty. On the palate there's ripe orchard fruit, and a pleasant roundness that balances out the fresh acidity. This is a wine that has great versatility. It's great for drinking now with a wide variety of foods, from spicy asian cuisines to local cheeses, and will reward your patience if you decide to put some bottles away. With the minerality, acidity and the ripeness of the fruit in 2015, this surely has a great life ahead of it. Eben Lillie
It's almost as if it were meant to be that Maillet left us with this Mondeuse as his last! Typically the most structured and dark of Maillet's red offerings, 2015 provided ideal conditions to fully express the depth and potential of these selection massale vines (many of which are over 100 years old!). In the glass, it looks more like Syrah than anything we typically see from the Savoie. Vibrant wild blackberry aromas on the nose, with black cherry and cola notes on the palate, and a finish with notable tannic structure and mineral length. We'd recommend decanting a bit in advance or holding this wine for up to 10 years. Eben Lillie
Jacques Maillet is a "grower" in every sense of the word. In 2003, after suffering from a serious illness connected with conventional farming, he reduced the size of his already tiny domaine in order to stop selling his grapes to the local co-op and to begin farming organically. Years later, his wines seem to get better with every vintage. His 2015 Pinot Noir is simply gorgeous. The nose opens with bright, sappy cherry, strawberry liqueur, rose petal, tangerine, and a hint of underbrush. Lithe and lively on the palate, it offers sweet, juicy red raspberry, citrus, smoke, anchored by an intense mineral core. This is no doubt one of Jacques’ most serious wines; structured, long, a bit crunchy, and very elegant. I have a feeling that this would age well over the next 3-5 years, and it is certainly showing beautifully now. Tim Gagnon
A blend of Jacquere and Altesse. I think of this wine as the Muscadet of the Savoie. It's crisp and clean, with acidity that would definitely please fans of Loire Valley whites. Graceful and subtle citrus and white flower aromas, with stone fruit on the palate and a very mineral finish. It might be most suitable in the warmer months of the year, but fans of high-acid whites will surely beg to differ. Eben Lillie
From a parcel of 35-year-old Chardonnay vines planted in limestone-rich soils, the 2015 Les Molates is pure joy to drink. All of their ouillé wines are vinified the same way: direct press into neutral barrels of various sizes for both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and spend eighteen months on the lees before bottling with a touch of SO2. It opens with a luscious nose of orange zest, pineapple, juicy green apple, brown spice, honeysuckle, and butterscotch. Full-bodied but not flabby, it is saline and pure with a bright acidity. This is such a pretty wine, and was a standout at a recent lunch with fried Dungeness crab. Tim Gagnon
Made from an interesting local strain called Savagnin Muscaté, this is a wine unlike any other Savagnin I’ve had. The vines that provide the fruit for this cuvée are between 57 and 60 years old. Heady and floral on the nose with hints of ripe apricot, and a touch of spice, this almost could be mistaken for an Alsatian wine if it weren’t for Savagnin’s distinctive tropical fruit aromas. Compared to the 2014, it is incredibly broad and pretty on the palate with touch of white pepper and brown spice. Long, floral, and supple, this is a beguiling wine that deserves your attention. Tim Gagnon
‘Speciale’ is a blend of 70% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, and 10% Grenache harvested from Jeff’s Font d'oulette parcel in Puimisson, a small village in the Languedoc a few miles away from Béziers. The grapes from this parcel are co-planted with several other local and rare varieties and have been certified organic since 1987. The 2014 is Jeff’s first vintage of this blend, he uses native yeast fermentation, and bottles without any SO2 added. This is a remarkably pure wine. Aromas of lively red fruit, violets and a wild note of sarsaparilla spice lead to quaffable flavors of cherry licorice, fresh brambly fruit and spice on the finish. Serve lightly chilled and pair with barbeque this summer! Amanda Bowman
Organic and Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau de Mayragues produces beautiful wines from local grape varieties, including this delicious red from 100% Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, grown on clay-limestone terroirs above the Tarn river in Gaillac. The wine is a deep red color and shows lovely aromas of ripe plum, red currant, earth, violets and black pepper. Deep earthy berry fruits on the palate that are lifted by fresh acidity. Full-flavored but not at all heavy at just 12% alcohol. This is a unique and delicious "country wine" - bring on the pâtés, rilletes and rillons, pork chops and roast chicken, full-flavored cheeses, too...
Our Biodynamic friends at Chateau de Mayragues make this distinctive white from 100% Mauzac, showing intriguing aromas of apple, pear, hazelnut, citus and spice. The palate shows dense pear, almond, citrus and mineral flavors with a long finish of ripe white fruits, stone and almond. This is a rare and unusual wine that will accompany pork and chicken in sauce, full-flavored fish dishes and goat cheeses.
Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau Mayragues makes beautiful wines from the local grapes, such as this distinctive white from 100% Loin de L'Oeil. Quite ripe in the 2015 vintage, the aromas are of dried pear, almond, honeysuckle and citrus peel. Nice full white fruits on the palate with ripe pear, apple, anise, white pepper, floral and citrus flavors, really quite lovely. This is a beautiful summer aperitif and will accompany a variety of seafood dishes, terrines, mild cheeses and Asian foods. And it's a fabulous value!
2000 Cuvée Prestige. Dark fruit, freshly turned soil, maduro cigar, pretty blackberry and plum notes. Still structured, but certainly open for business. Good freshness, with flavors of game, cassis, black plum, and iron. The oak is beginning to integrate and this is a fine pairing with duck magret, sublime with cassoulet. Decant now or hold 5-10+ years. John McIlwain
From old-vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's beautiful mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. The 2014 is particularly lovely, showing deep ripe aromas of blackberry, plum, coffee and spice. Full, soft palate of spicy red and black fruits, earth and dark chocolate, with good density and supple, palate-coating texture lifted by nice acidity. Perfect for grilled foods or steaks, stews and strong cheeses all year. A sensational value!
Oeillades is an ancient Languedoc variety, probably related to Cinsault. Thierry Navarre, who is proud of his vineyards of "forgotton varieties," produces Terret and Ribeyrenc as well as this lovely light-bodied Oeillades. The 2015 has pretty high-toned red-currant, boysenberry, violet, prune and smokey aromas, quite fresh and appealing. The palate has tart cherry, red currant and plum fruit, it's light to medium-bodied, but with lovely ripeness and depth with refreshing acidity and good length. Good intensity of fruit but low alcohol, 11.5%, which makes it very food-friendly. Serve cool with charcuterie, white meats and cheeses. Highly recommended and a great value! DL
This is a delicious vin doux naturel from Thierry Navarre made from very late-harvested Grenache. We imagine that it's a wine made the way wine used to be made all over the Languedoc before temperature control was an option. A bit sweet and somewhat sherry-like, the aromas are of prune and ripe cherry, with licorice and brown spice. Very long and nutty on the palate, perhaps the best way to imagine this wine is to think of an Oloroso sherry... then extrapolate! Absolutely delicious and a great accompaniment to chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits or simply by itself as an apéritif. Thanks to Thierry for finally making a label and shipping us some of this unique local specialty.
This is a really lovely alternative to Champagne and a great value. Montagnieu is a village south of Cerdon, in the Jura, with premières côtes overlooking the Rhône valley. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Altesse and Mondeuse and has complex herbal aromas, nice lemony ripeness on the palate and a long, dry finish. Franck Peillot works well in the vineyard and naturally in the cellar. Well worth a try!
MORE ARRIVING TUE. 5/23 - Our Biodynamic friends, the Hubert family at Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours, have finally made a dry rosé and it's quite delicious. Subtle aromas of strawberry, peach and citrus on the nose that continue on the round but dry and refreshing palate. This gains weight with time (better on the second day) and has surprising length for a rosé. This is a versatile wine to serve as an aperitif or with grilled tuna, melon and prosciutto, grilled chicken or pork and mild cheeses.
This is a beautiful Savagnin from the organic vineyards of Jean-Charles Maire, on Kimmeridgian limestone near the Mont Poupet, at Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. (Elevage is sous-voile.) Opaque pale gold color. Oxidative aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, dried hebs, beeswax, stone and earth. The palate is full and dense with sharp acidity showing dried fruits, citrus, marzipan and stone flavors, with a long intensely mineral and citrus finish. Serve with fish in sauce, chicken with morels, mountain cheeses. Delicious now but five to ten years of aging seems possible, wonderful after three days open.DL
From the tiny appellation of Bugey, due east of Lyon, it is a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. On the nose it is exquisitely vinous with bright aromas of pomegranate seeds, brambly blueberry patch, unripe strawberry, mountain meadow, and tart red raspberry. It is incredibly balanced with an invigorating acidity and lip-smacking red berry fruits with clementine zest and minerals coalescing on the finish. At 8.5% in alcohol with significant sweetness, this would be a perfect brunch companion or as an aperitif! Tim Gagnon
The 2015 Château Renard is a home run. Chardonnay with a bit of Savagnin from parcels planted in clay and limestone soils made in the topped-up, or ouillé, style of winemaking. On the nose it is crisp and clean with delicate aromas of apricot, lime flower, almond skin, and tropical mango. The palate is much more intense with luscious, juicy green apple, cashew, sea salt, and tangy minerals. Long, textured, and a hint nutty on the finish, this would be perfect pairing with many different kinds of foods, especially roasted poultry. Tim Gagnon
A Vin de Liqueur made from Chardonnay with a bit of Trousseau, this is the first vintage of Larmes du Paradis that has been available to us, and we are very excited. Alternatively called Macvin in the Jura, this style of wine is made by arresting the primary fermentation with distilled grape spirit while there is still a fair amount of residual sugar in the wine. The result is a wine with deep golden color that shows aromas of warm golden raisin, fresh fig, hay, dried dates, sweet spice and a hint of cherry liqueur. Lots of depth and concentration on the palate, with excellent balance of sweetness and acidity; the finish is reminiscent of toffee candy with a hint of toasted walnut and an elegant salinity. This is great to have after dinner with cheese, but also makes for a great aperitif served well chilled. Tim Gagnon
The 2014 Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. 62 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.
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 or more in ancient barrels, bottled without fining or filtration. Jean-François Deu at Domaine du Traginer makes elegant, complex and beautifully balanced Banyuls at his organic and biodynamic estate. The 2008 Banyuls Grand Cru shows fabulous aromas of burnt orange, prune, lemon peel, rose, earth and aged cheese...for starters. Very deep and complex. The palate is ripe and a bit sweet, but refreshing and balanced by bright acidity with prune, red currant, rose and deep berry confit with citrus, brown spice and earth. Beautiful wine - great to sip by itself or serve with fruit desserts and chocolate. Highly recommended. DL
Cuvée Octobre is made from equal parts Black Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah from vines raised on steep slopes in the Collioure AOC. The organic vineyards are situated high above Banyuls-sur-Mer and are picked late which adds some warmth and depth to the cool minerality from the schist soils. The nose offers aromas of blackberry, thyme, and black-cherry. After being opened for a few days, the layers of aromatics deepened with notes of dried herbs, spice, and red fruit. The palate is round and supple with layers of blackberry, smoke, and hints of citrus, and rosemary on the lengthy finish. This is a food-friendly wine and would pair nicely with braised lamb or grilled steak. Complex and highly enjoyable. Amanda Bowman
Equal parts Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from the steep schist terraces of Banyuls-sur-Mer, this is a pure and concentrated expression of this dramatic coastal stretch of the Roussillon. Dark black red color. Lush aromas of blackberry, black plum, bitter chocolate, licorice, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense, ripe and supple with blackberry, strawberry compote, earth, licorice, ginger and spice, with cool citrus and red currant in the long finish. This is a beautiful Collioure that will accompany a steak, grilled meats, stews, grilled vegetables and tagines. Highly recommended. DL
This is a gorgeous Banyuls Blanc, that is to say a Vin Doux Naturel (at 17% alcohol) made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Muscat grown in Traginer's organic vineyards above Banyuls. Beautiful aromas of lime flower, apricot, citrus, pear and almond. Very floral. The palate is deep and medium-sweet with candied citrus, apriot and stone flavors and terrific length. Serve not too cool, as an apéritif or with desserts of peach, apricot, pear and melon. Absolutely delicious! DL
Jean-Francois Deu makes beautiful wines on his biodynamic estate in Collioure, including this outstanding 2015 Rosé "Le Gourmand." The wine shows a pretty pink/orange color, with aromas of red currant and strawberry with hints of prune, orange peel, rose and spice. The palate is round and ripe with deep red currant and strawberry liqueur, but nicely balanced by firm acidity. Serve this full-bodied rosé with grilled chicken and pork or with an appetizer of olives, cheeses and charcuterie. Lovely wine! DL
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. The 2015 is ripe but well-balanced with intense and beautiful aromas of dried white fruits, lime-flower, lemon, stone, almond and pine with hints of spice. 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
The Traginer Banyuls Rimage (Vin Doux Naturel) at 17% alcohol is an insanely delicious wine as an apéritif or with deserts of chocolate or fruit (figs especially) and goat cheeses. The 2016 shows a deep black/red color and vivid aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, licorice, violets, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is ripe and lush with blackberry, citrus and cocoa, but very bright and refreshing as well, just delicious. It finishes with citrusy acids and black fruits that linger on the palate - serve cool and enjoy! DL
This superb wine is made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, aged for 15 years in small, very old barrels. Complex aromas of citrus, tea, prune, flowers and caramel. The palate is balanced, with a pretty melange of citrus, white fruits, earth and secondary flavors, very long and lifted by nice acidity. A gorgeous vin doux naturel that will accompany aged cheeses, figs and foie gras, or beautiful by itself. Really a unique and delicious wine. DL
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
A blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard, this is a dark and flavorful Cremant du Jura, a bit reminiscent of a Rosato Lambrusco in it's color and light tannic structure. Red and black currant notes, and a really long mineral finish. This is a great sparkling rosé to have with food, though it's definitely got enough character to stand alone! Eben Lillie
This Macvin is made from Chardonnay grapes (from 2013), and a homemade marc (or brandy) that is added to the juice before fermentation. It's a specialty of the region, and a curiously delicious one at that. Subtle oxidative notes, burnt orange, dried fruit, with the slightest touch of sweetness. Perfect with regional cheeses like Comte, lighter deserts, or on it's own. As it's higher in alcohol and has a bit of residual sugar, this will keep for longer than a normal bottle of wine. Keep it in the fridge and enjoy over several weeks. Eben Lillie
A Cremant in everything but name, this Vin Mousseaux (a general term that refers to sparkling wines) is 100% Chardonnay Extra-Brut. There is no dosage so it's particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), this is perfectly refreshing (think Summertime), super 'digestif' and great for an apero or with food. 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