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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
Bastide Blanche, one of the few organic domains in Bandol, produces this beatiful wine from old vines of 92% Mourvedre and 8% Grenache. The wine is hand-harvested in multiple passes, with very low yields, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old foudres. The 2013 Estagnol shows very deep aromas of blackberry, plum and blueberry with floral, animal, fig, garrigue and earthy notes. The palate is full, round and powerful, but has good brightness and balance, with black fruits, fig, spice and earth - . with time open chocolate, provencal herbs and black olive as well, really lovely.
'Mont Blanc' is named for the snow-capped mountain 30km away from Dominique's winery. This cuvée is built to age but that requires personal discipline. 100% Gringet from vines planted at 450m elevation, the 2014 was aged for three years on the lees before disgorgement. The delicate nose offers elegant floral aromas and comes across as quite austere at first. By the time you slice the soppressata and collect the Comté from the fridge, the nose will have blossomed with honeysuckle, orange zest, nuts and orchard fruits. The palate has exquisite cut with powerful minerals driving fresh pear and apple flavors. An excellent vintage that should shine in 2-3 years. Amanda Bowman
All things being relative, this cuvée made me reconsider every wine that I have previously described as balanced. "Le Feu" comes Dominique's oldest, low-yielding Gringet vines planted on steep, iron-rich slopes at 450m above sea level. Incredibly well-knit acidity adds energy and freshness to wild herbal flavors that form a continuous loop across the palate. This wine is luminous. Amanda Bowman
"Les Alpes" is a blend of two parcels - one close to Dominique's home on marl soils and the other rich in limestone. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs before it's blended in tank and bottled with minimal sulfur. The 2016 is a lovely wine that shows pretty white flowers, tangy pineapple and orange blossom. Salty minerals and tart acidity give this a wonderful texture that is evocative of a briny Albariño from Northwestern Spain. Amanda Bowman
This Mondeuse comes from a tiny parcel on Dominique Belluard's estate. Usually this wine is made entirely in amphora but the 2016 was made using concrete eggs, 70% de-stemmed, and the rest whole cluster with a five-week maceration. The finished wine has an elegant silky texture with mouth-coating tannins. Aromas of smoky peppercorn and jasmine compliment supple flavors of juicy black raspberry, thyme, and black cherry. For best results, serve at cellar temperature and allow the wine to breathe for an hour before serving. Amanda Bowman
Les Perles du Mont Blanc is made from biodynamically farmed Gringet and spends two years on the lees before disgorgement. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast and there is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry wine with fascinating complexity. This bottling is richer than in years past, but still intensely mineral with heady aromas of pine forest, baking spice, and toasted walnuts. The palate is decadent, with creamy flavors of pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and bright lemon curd. The invigorating acidity makes this a versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with roasted chicken, oysters, charcuterie, or cheese. Amanda Bowman
The Bordelet pear and apple ciders are a big hit on Thanksgiving, low alcohol too, so the kids get a sip or two. Also arriving on Tuesday: Poire "Granit" and Poiré Authentique. An apple cider from one of Normandy’s best, Tendre combines classic orchard flavors of ripe apples (Kermerien, Douce Moene, Frequin Rouge, Damelot, Marie Menard and 25 more) and a savory/sweet undercurrent of barley and dark honey. Compared to Bordelet’s pear offerings I find this to be more “beer-esque” than “wine-esque” so bring on the brats, or in true Norman fashion blood sausage, tripe, or perhaps for a lighter meal: crêpes. As with all his ciders, the farm is certified biodynamic and fermentation finishes in the bottle for a complex texture filled with small vivacious bubbles. John Rankin
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
"Printemps" is a delicious and fruit-driven sans soufre Malbec (or Côt as it is locally known) from Simon Busser. From 30 year old vines planted in high terraces on limestone and quartz, this is a sensational Malbec perfect for transitioning from cool nights to warm days. After studying natural winemaking with Oliver Cousin in the Loire, Simon returned to his grandfather's land in Cahors to craft his own wines. Oliver's influences can be observed in the way Simon works his land by horse only and treats his vines using homeopathic methods with no additives in the cellar. The 2016 is a knockout. The nose is redolent with black plum, sweet tobacco, anise, saddle leather and ripe cherry. Medium-bodied with dusty tannins, there is plenty of refreshing mineral acidity to make this light enough to drink by itself but juicy enough to accompany a BBQ. Flavors are ripe with red fruits, leather, and a touch animal on the finish. A serious value! Amanda Bowman
Clos Ste. Magdeleine is located on the slopes of the dramatic Cap Canaille just east of Cassis, where vineyards date back to the ancient Greeks, and the vines grow on stony limestone soils. The current estate was founded in the late 19th century and has been in the same family since 1920 - the estate is certified organic. The Cassis Blanc is made up of 40% Marsanne, 30% Ugni blanc, 25% Clairette and 5% Bourboulenc. The 2015 shows lovely aromas of dried pear, almond and stone with floral and herbal hints, with a bit of candied citrus and exotic fruit. The palate is round and supple and quite elegant with ripe pear, apricot and almond, citrus peel and marzipan. The finish is long and balanced with firm acidity and mineral flavors. (This would be a great option for Thanksgiving dinner, being elegant and dry but with enough weight and fruit to pair well with turkey and all the sides. A crowd pleasing choice...)
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec by Julien Libert at Combel-la-Serre, this comes from a limestone parcel with 35 year-old vines. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster and the wine is aged in cement.The 2016 Pur Fruit du Causse is just that, beautiful supple pure fruit - the color is quite dark and coats the glass, showing deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, quite bright and fresh, with hints of stone and earth. The palate is lush with blackberry and black cherry liqueur, lifted by cool acidity, really delicious! The finish is bright and refreshing making this a great match for charcuterie and grilled meats, chicken and mild cheeses - and lovely to slurp by itself, served quite cool! Bravo to Julien Libert for this juicy, fresh and delightful wine!
100% Malbec (aka Auxerrois in local parlance). Au Cerisier comes from a single 1.2-hectare plot at 350 m. altitude, next door to a cherry orchard for which the Ilberts named this bottling. The certified-organic vines average 40 years old and are planted on red and yellow clay soils over limestone bedrock. This is a quite serious Cahors showing beautiful black fruit aromas, bright and ripe. The palate is tight and dense, quite full-bodied and really showing the clay/limestone terroir. Drink now with a long decant with a steak or stew, best to cellar five to ten years. Lovely wine.
100% Malbec (aka Auxerrois in local parlance). Combel's Château Cuvée comes from estate plots totalling 3 hectares around their home village of Cournou on the limestone plateau known as the Causse at about 320m altitude. The soils for this bottling are mainly red clay with some limestone rock. The organically farmed vines average 40 years old and are kept to a yield of 40 hl/ha. Because of the clay-heavy terroir and winemaking and aging choices, the Château Cuvée marks a signficant step up in body, tannin and complexity compared to the lighter, softer Pur Fruit bottling. This is a beautiful Cahors showing elegant red and black fruit aromas - the palate is pure and focused with good acidity and bright black raspberry and red currant fruit, floral and long. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next five years or more.
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!
Coupe Roses is an organic estate high up on the limestone plateau near the village of Minerve - a more interesting terroir than the majority of other Minervois. The 2016 "Bastide" shows bright black cherry and red currant fruit with floral hints. The palate is ripe and supple, lifted by bright acidity, showing blackberry and red currant liqueur that lingers in the refreshing finish. Serve cool with grilled pork and lamb - perfect with burgers this summer.
Thomas and Jean-Daniel are the team at Domaine Ozil. Brothers with a shared interest in producing honest, drinkable Ardèche wines, they have hit quite a stride in recent years. The "Gourmandise" is a perfect example. Primarily Grenache, with 30% Syrah and 5% Viognier, this is a joyful, tingly "glou-glou" wine. No sulfites added, it's clean, and ridiculously chug-able. Some may note a touch of volatile acidity as the wine opens up, but from my experience with many bottles, this blows off quickly. It may even help lift the spicy, brambly, crushed raspberry aromas. All in all, it's fun in a bottle, at a very reasonable price. Drink with a slight chill! Eben Lillie
From young Jura newcomer Guillaume Gilet, this is Chardonnay from organic vineyards that overlook the town of Arbois. Very fresh, with notes of lemon curd, cantelope, apples and herbs. Guillaume uses no SO2 during winemaking (sometimes bottling with none added) and tries to preserve some natural CO2 gas to protect his wines in the absence of SO2. This blows off within a few minutes, so decanters are not necessary. There's a driving mineral spice that shines through the finish, and an overall very clean and pure natural wine. Eben Lillie
Les Donneurs du Temps is a tiny estate put together by Guillaume Gilet in Arbois, with a little help from his friends, who generously gave their time, and even parcels of vines, to help him get started. (Hence the name, literally "the givers of time.") The 2015 Poulsard "Marnes Grises" is the real deal with everything we love about Jura reds. The wine shows a slightly cloudy pale garnet color, with lovely Poulsard aromas of raspberry, rose, white pepper,and plum skin, very pretty and fresh. The palate is light and lovely with red currant and raspberry fruit, earth, clove, rose petal and orange peel. The finish has sneaky length, very refreshing, with a bit of tannin and peppery red fruits. Could I have some more, please? David Lillie
In 2007, the energetic and talented Thomas Finot discovered the terroirs of the Coteaux Grésivaudan - a valley with steep mountainsides extending northeast from Grenoble, just north of Savoie, Here he is rescuing local grape varieties such as Verdesse, Persan and Etraire de la Dhuy and also making delicious and affordable vin de soif from other grapes - in this case the Tracteur Rosé. Made from Gamay, the wine shows a pretty light pink color and aromas of red currant, raspberry, watermelon and rose. The palate is light and lovely at only 11% alcohol with subtle mixed-berry fruits and hints of spice backed by mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Serve well-chilled all year-round with salads, charcuterie and white meats. Quick facts: Destemmed, into cuve, kept cold for 24 hours, then to the press... Doing a maceration of about 24 hours gives the rosé more material, and color. It's the way Thomas likes his rosés! - Eben Lillie
According to the hefty Wine Grapes book (Robinson/Harding/Vouillamoz), there were a total of about 2 hectares (5 acres) of Verdesse in the world as of 2008. As of my conversation with Thomas Finot in June, the number is now between 3 and 4 hectares total. Thomas started with an old plantation of about 2 ares (200 square meters, or .05 acres) and now has about 1.5 hectares, mostly of younger vines he planted. Verdesse is a grape that, according to Thomas, is green for a long time, and typically ripens late, gaining a golden and amber color at the "very last moment." From Thomas' experience, Verdesse typically rests with a small amount of sugar, and has a good deal of richness. The grapes were harvested in October and the wine rests at 8 grams residual sugar. Luckily Verdesse has acid for days, so the effect is more of delicate richness and ripe stone fruit, and the sugar is barely perceptible. A fascinating white and a great opportunity to taste a truly obscure and rare variety. -Eben Lillie
Poulsard from the Côte de Feule vineyard in Pupillin. Several other growers we admire have some plots here, such as Granges Paquenesses, Domaine de la Borde, and we're quite certain Houillon and Overnoy as well (it's a pretty well known vineyard site in Pupillin). The hue of this red is still very light, but there's a deeper burgundy shade and a bit more material than the Ploussard bottling from Patrice. Fresh, vibrant, and beguiling. Eben Lillie
Cheerful, fresh, funky... VERY light, and quite clean and balanced for a no SO2 offering. We're very happy to have this and other wines from Patrice, as a welcome addition to our Jura section. Serve with a slight chill! Eben Lillie
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 2015 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!
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.
The 2015 comes from Catherine Hannoun's parcels of gray marl in Pupillin. Sometimes she makes this cuvée sous-voile but this vintage is topped-up for a fresher style that is fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel then raised in neutral barrel for over a year. An age-worthy Chardonnay with fascinating aromas of spicy redcurrant, honey, and melon. Like the Savagnin, it is quite compact at first and takes some time to open up, but once it does, complex flavors of tropical melon, blackberry, and honey unfurl on a bed of spicy mineral acidity. It should be interesting to see how this evolves with a few years in the cellar. Amanda Bowman
This Savagnin comes from Catherine's parcel in Pupillin famous for its rich clay soils. The 2015 is made ouillé style and is raised in neutral barrique for up to 24 months. With a gentle decant, floral aromas blossom on the nose. A leaner style of Savagnin, with crisp flavors of orange citrus, mango and salty, slightly briny minerals. Decant if drinking now but worth the wait. Amanda Bowman
100% Trousseau grown in clay and limestone-rich parcels in Arbois then fermented in tank and raised in neutral barrique with no added sulfur. The wine is dark red in the glass and shows bright black raspberry, pepper, and gamey aromas just moments after opening. The 2016 is lovely with flavors of vibrant, high-toned red fruit. Firm tannins buoyed by crunchy acidity provide a backbone to flavors of black raspberry, orange peel, white peppercorn and game on the palate. Delicious now but should be even better with a couple years in the cellar. Amanda Bowman
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
This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses, and for apple and mince pies on Thanksgiving! Absolutely superb! (The wine improves for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 10 cases for the US allocation.The 2015 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, apricot, almond, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with a bit of residual sugar. The finish is very long with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
100% Chardonnay on clay and limestone in Pupillin, vinified for 6 months in large foudres. This is a joyful bottle with a fine mousse bursting with aromas of dry hay, iris, toasted hazelnut, Comté, and baked orchard fruit. The palate has an elegant frame of mineral acidity. Flavors are gently oxidative with floral undertones, ginger, and cherry pit. A delicious bottle to serve with raclette, Peking duck, or on its own! Amanda Bowman
A delicious blend of 60% Jacquere and 40% Altesse (Roussette). Marie and Florian pick grapes from a early ripening parcel of Altesse, and a mature parcel of Jacquerre, and harvest, press and vinify together, as they like the harmony that is achieved through co-fermentation. I love the electric side of this wine, paired with the subtle texture that develops with some aeration. Drink now or hold. Light filtration before bottling, minimal SO2 added. Eben Lillie
A blend of mostly Gamay (about 80%), with Pinot Noir and Mondeuse from vineyards in the commune of Chautagne de Serrieres and Cellier des Pauvres. Though they will likely make a bit less of the 'Autrement' in the future, this is their homage to the first "natural" wine that Jacques Maillet produced, back in 2003. It is an expression of the Savoie, and reflects Maillet's philosophy of cultivating healthy vineyards without the use of chemicals, and producing authentic wines that show the potential of the region. Like their other reds, maceration is whole cluster, without pump over or punch down, 9 months lees aging, and a light filtration and only 1g/hl (hectoliter) of SO2 at bottling. Delicious wine! Eben Lillie
The Chautagne is a blend of Gamay and Mondeuse (about 70/30) from the commune of Motz. Maceration is whole cluster for a period of about 6 weeks, without pigeage (pushing down of the cap) or remontage (pumping over), so it's more a gentle infusion than an extraction. The wine is aged on the lees for approximately 9 months. Florian mentioned that the old vines of Gamay produce less - and often less concentrated - grapes, but they are always more "gouleyant" (roughly translated, it means "tasty" or "really good"). All in all a very tasty, complex, and harmonious expression of Gamay and Mondeuse. Eben Lillie
Fresh tasty Jacquere from Marie and Florian Curtet! This is a perfect aperitif/salad/snack wine, definitely on the higher acid side. I always liken Jacquere (especially from Maillet - and now the Curtets) to Melon de Bourgogne, because it reminds me so much of the stony, mineral wines from Muscadet in the Loire Valley. Drink now or stock up for warmer weather, as this is a perfect thirst quencher. Eben Lillie
Wow! A Pinot Noir that truly stands out. I did NOT guess this was Pinot when I tasted it, instead thinking it was their old vines Mondeuse. In any case, I was impressed. Marie and Florian are impressed too, but maybe less surprised. As they say, Pinot Noir has a a particular graphite quality (describing the minerality in the mouthfeel) due to the Molasses soil in their region. Combined with a small and very ripe harvest, this is a rich and expressive Pinot! Ripe cherry, blackberry, and spice, with plenty of fruit and a long mineral finish framing it all. It's only 13%, so it's not "big," it just has a lot of character! Eben Lillie
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...
Thierry Navarre, based in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc, is one of the few vignerons growing Oeillades, an obscure and ancient variety native to Mediterranean France. Similar to Cinsault, here it produces a fine, juicy, approachable rosé perfect for these warm summer evenings. Deep salmon in color, the nose is reserved, with soft notes of crushed berries and ripe cantaloupe. On the palate this wine is round and refreshing, with good minerality and delicately etched acidity. Red berry fruit and cherry dance elegantly around a tensile mineral core. Excellent with thinly sliced prosciutto, popcorn, grilled seafood, or assorted mezze. Drew Farquhar
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.
80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. 12 month sous-voile elevage in old barrels. Slightly oxidative aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, spiced citrus and almond, quite complex and pretty. The plate shows dried herbs, quince, citrus peel, spice and pear with saline mineral flavors and form acidity. The finish is long with sharp mineral flavors that linger on the palate. Lovely wine - serve with sole almondine, chicken in cream sauce, aged Comté and full-flavored goat cheeses. David Lillie
80% Pinot Noir and 20% Trousseau grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. The 2015 Tradition shows aromas of strawberry liqueur with hints of blackberry, cherry, earth and rose. The palate is quite firm and dense, with saline mineral flavors and earthy black fruits. This is a unique and delicious Jura red that's lovely now, and should age nicely for 8 to 10 years. DL
From a 1/2 hectare parcel on Kimmeridgian limestone in Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. 11.3% alcohol. Very pale garnet color, really a rosé. Lovely aromas of red-currant, tart cherry, strawberry, earth and beach rose, a hint of spice. The palate is tart and light with red-currant, earth and stone, with nice length and intensity of fruit. This opens up nicely on day 2 and should age well. Congratulations to the capable Emilie Gerard, who has taken over after the untimely passing of Jean-Charles Maire.
A delicious blend of Gamay and Poulsard from the tiny appellation of Bugey. At 8.5% this delicately sweet pét-nat is the breakfast of champions or an invigorating aperitif. The nose is absolutely beautiful with vivid aromas of wild flowers, ripe raspberries, and hints of grapefruit zest. The palate offers sweet raspberry and crunchy blueberry fruit on the attack then finishes with thirst-quenching minerality. A purely enjoyable bottle at a great value. Serve chilled alongside fruit tarts, dark chocolate, or with tangy cheeses. Amanda Bowman
"Les Travers de Marceau" is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 15% Cinsault planted at the highest elevation in the Saint-Chinian AOC. This appellation is divided by its soil composition - in the north, the soils are rich in schist, in the south there is only heavy limestone and clay soils. Jean-Marie Rimbert's vineyards are in Berlou, in the north western half of the AOC. This soil composition and high elevation give his much-beloved wines a light, early drinking quality. The nose offers complex, exotic aromas of dried apricot, tree bark, savory spices, and undercurrents of crushed blueberry and pomegranate. The palate is silky and dusted with mineral acidity. Flavors of dense blue fruit and umami spices give way to star-anise and hints of fennel on the finish. This pairs perfectly with saucisson, cassoulet, and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
This is Chardonnay with no sulfites added, from Sylvain Bock, a winemaker who grew up in the Northern Rhone and developed his chops working at Domaine Mazel in the Ardèche. For a wine with no added SO2 and a "cooky" label, this really impressed me. I was expecting something a bit wacky, and instead was greeted with beautiful stone fruit aromas, and a mouthfeel that combined the richness and finesse of Chardonnay with its herbaceous and mineral side. Totally clean (even 8 hours later) and a great example of a natural wine that could fool the critics! Eben Lillie
100% Chardonnay, "zero zero," as they say in France for bubbles that have no dosage and no sulfites added. The Thill Cremant is toasty and crisp, with bright golden fruit on the nose, subtle texture and a refreshing finish. 21 months on the lees before disgorging give the wine depth and richness. All in all, this is a ridiculous deal for a really complex, pure (and clean) natural Cremant from the Jura. Get some while it lasts! Eben Lillie
The 2014 Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. 62 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.
This is a 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
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