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
Bella Parra is a blend of primarily Cinsault, with some Syrah. There's something about Cinsault that offers bright red fruit, and a spicy, gamey character. I often describe it as "playful," as I find it stands out among many of the heartier and perhaps more heavy handed red varieties in the South. Here, it's given extra backbone through the addition of some Syrah, but the spirit is intact. This is a fun medium-bodied red, and a perfect carry over from the hot days of Summer into the Fall. Eben Lillie
This is a white blend, marrying Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), and Bourbelenc. It's medium - full bodied for a white, with notes of apple compote and baking spice. A prime candidate for wine drinkers who typically prefer reds, and truly a unique expression of the region's diverse grape varieties. Eben Lillie
Made from Gringet grown at 450m in elevation, this is serious stuff. It spends three years on the lees which results in a rich and textured wine, with delicate aromatics. It is quite powerful, and would give any Champagne a run for the money in terms of complexity. Tim Gagnon
Dominique’s Altesse shows a much more delicate side of this grape than most are familiar with, and I think this is a testament to his careful winemaking process. The vines in this parcel are quite young, and the original vines were sourced from the Dupasquier family in Jongieux, further south in the Savoie. Tim Gagnon
Called Le Feu (The Fire) for the bright red, iron-rich clay that litters the incredibly steep vineyards, this is Dominique’s top wine. It is his only single-parcel Gringet cuvée and the vines are situated at 450m in altitude. Tim Gagnon
This cuvée is made with Gringet sourced from two parcels, one being rich in yellow marl and the other with more broken-down limestone. It spends about six months aging in concrete eggs (separated by each different terroir) before being blended together in stainless steel tanks. Tim Gagnon
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
"From one of those rare parcels of Cinsault du Roussillon on a correct terroir. This variety, which made the reputation of certain wines of the South before phylloxera, has been neglected or badly planted since. Ubac is a parcel on a 70% slope of gneiss facing due north with 40 year-old vines worked by hand and by horse. It's the Pinot Noir of the South for me! Fine material, very delicate, with length and a strong signature of the terroir. Whole berry maceration of ten days, then foot-tread and put in vat, with stems for the fine tannins they provide. 20 month aging in Austrian demi-muid, bottled by gravity." (Yields of 15 Hl/Ha, approx 20 mg SO2, 14% alc) 2012 looks to be a great vintage for L'Ubac. Tasted before bottling, the wine showed superb elegance and structure with fabulous length - opened on arrival in NY, the wine shows slight reduction then hints of cool blackberry and red-currant fruit with bitter chocolate and earth, but really quite closed. The palate is quite intense with deep black fruits, very firm acidity and fine tannins with dusty stone in the finish. No gobs here, but a sense of power and elegance to come. This is certainly one of the most interesting and profound reds from the South of France. Not for current drinking, probably best 2020 to 2030. DL
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
Made from Chasselas planted in clay-rich soils and raised in concrete egg, I find this wine to offer more in terms of layers of texture and in density than his other cuvées. It still maintains a ravishing acidity and ample minerality like all of his wines, but seems a bit more open aromatically with hints of crème brülée, almond milk, and zesty lemon meringue. These luscious aromas coalesce once on the palate with more succulent citrus and sea minerals coming forward. This would be fantastic with hearty poultry dishes (Thanksgiving anyone?) that balance savory and sweet, or with seared monkfish with parsnip purée and hazelnuts for the adventurous home cook. Tim Gagnon
A thoroughly elegant wine that truly shows its Savoie roots! This wine is fermented and aged half in concrete egg à la Belluard, his very good friend, and half in used barrel. The result is a much more chiseled and ethereal interpretation of Chardonnay that you don’t get in either the Jura or Burgundy. Think soft aromas of orchard fruit, lemon curd, and mountain wildflower on the nose, yet the palate is much more invigorating and opens up with a bit of lush fruit anchored by laser sharp acidity, a slightly waxy, mouth-coating texture, and tangy minerals. Try this with sushi made from fattier fish. Tim Gagnon
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
In my opinion, David Dupasquier’s Mondeuse is his piece de resistance. The sunny clime and wide diurnal range naturally results in healthy vines and perfectly ripe grapes which the Dupasquier family masterfully makes into seriously delicious wines. This wine is deep with a dark purple robe and exhibits spicy blackberry fruit, black peppercorn, dried violet petals, and a touch of meaty funk reminiscent of northern Rhône Valley Syrah. The year spent in large neutral oak helps to soften the tannins and the year spent in bottle before release allows the fruit to integrate well with the spicy and savory flavors present on the palate. Pair this with grilled lamb or cheeseburgers! Tim Gagnon
I am always thrilled to have the wines of David Dupasquier in the shop. He consistently crafts fantastic, terroir-driven wines from his 15 hectare estate in Aimavigne. Here the climate seems more northern Rhone than Savoie with warm, sunny days and cool nights that ultimately benefit the vines. The Dupasquier’s vines are all planted in clay and limestone soils on southern facing slopes which lead to optimal ripening conditions in a region known for lean and mineral-driven wines. This Pinot Noir is fermented with native yeasts and is aged in huge old barrels for one year before being bottled and aged another year in their cellar before release. It shows bright, brambly red berry fruits with an irony edge on the nose and has a juicy acidity along with redder berry fruits on the palate. This is a fantastic, traditional wine! Tim Gagnon
100% Mourvedre from a small parcel, aged for a year in 6 hl used Austrian barrels (Stockinger), then kept in bottle. This is the most elegant and finessed Mourvedre I've ever tasted. At 12%, it's not light, but it is really charming, with developed earthy flavors, yet free from any chewy tannins. Really quite velvet-like smoothness, and ample complexity, with a long mineral finish. Certainly wins the award for the most 'beautiful' of the Enfants Sauvages offerings. It's a joy to drink, and a great chance to study the oft-blended Mourvedre grape on it's own. Eben Lillie
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punching down), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said, "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
Although the exact origins of this grape variety are unknown, the earliest mention of Persan was in 1846 in the department of Isère. This is exactly what has brought Nicolas Gonin to work with this variety. Nicolas farms 5.5 hectares in the village of Saint-Chef and spends his time between his own domaine and working in a nursery tracing the lineage of ancient grapes and trying to bring back the lost varieties of his region. Gonin’s Persan is harvested by hand and destemmed before it is fermented with native yeasts in enamel vats. The nose is rife with dark, smoky berries, graphite, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries. There are also even deeper hints of tar, pine resin, tobacco, violet petals, and pepper – almost brooding. The palate takes a different tone with bright, tart fruit and damp earth; pepper and herbs come forward and are backed by bold tannins and high-toned black berries on the finish. Serve slightly chilled alongside grilled lamb, cheeseburgers, or roasted duck breast. Tim Gagnon
This beautiful wine is made by Isabelle Carles and Franck Pascal at Le Jonc Blanc, an unusual limestone plateau in the Bergerac with shallow clay soils. Natural vinification with wild yeasts, no additives and minimal extraction. Aged in a large foudre, bottled without fining or filtration, no added SO2, certified organic and Biodynamic. The wine shows a very dark red/black color, with lovely fruit and floral aromas - rose, blackberry and raspberry with hints of dark chocolate and earth. Pretty berry fruits on the palate with cocoa and citrus lifted by refreshing acidity and finishing with a mineral core and citrusy black fruits. This is an extraordinary, pure and delicious wine that should be served slightly cool. Perfect with charcuterie, patés, chicken and pork dishes or just quaffed happily by itself. Highly recommended. DL
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
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
Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The 2016 EOS Rosé is a bit lighter and brighter than the 2015 with a lighter pink color and subtle aromas of raspberry, rose, peach and earth. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinifications and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended! 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!
This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses. Absolutely superb! (The wine improves for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. The soils are primarily "poudingue," a conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposited during the formation of the Pyrenees, with sandy clay topsoil. This bottle, based on the two better white grapes of Jurançon, Gros and Petit Manseng, seriously over-delivers in terms of complexity for the price and is particularly great in 2014. You'll find aromas of pineapple, lemon oil, peach and pear, honeysuckle and caramel apple on the nose, along with a light oakiness that would not work for all white wines, but fits perfectly with this one. The palate is essentially dry with firm acidity with dried pear, spice, citrus, stone and mineral flavors, but leaves an enticing sense of sweetness that makes it an excellent choice for cheeses, especially the sheep's milk cheeses of the Pyrenees. The finish is long and elegant - just delicious! Note: Those with the patience to keep this bottle around for a few days, re-corked in the fridge, will be rewarded with an awesome display of rich, complex fruit. David Lillie
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 12 cases for the US allocation. This beautiful dry (or almost dry) Jurançon shows a lovely pale gold color with elegant aromas of lemon, lime-flower, almond, stone, honeysuckle and brown spice. There is fabulous density on the palate with dried fruits, citrus, spice, stone and mineral flavors with scintillating, firm acidity. This is a very unusual and outstanding dry Jurançon - serve with fish or chicken in sauce, patés, and a wide variety of cheeses. Put a few in the cellar and re-visit in ten years. David Lillie
Céline and Steve Gormally farm their 5 hectares in Passenans, to the southwest of Arbois, with strictly biodynamic methods and consistently make stunning natural wines. Arco is 100% Savagnin from 20-year-old vines planted in rocky soils with a limestone base. Vinified and aged in neutral barrels for 9 months, it is a beautiful example of how much care the Gormallys put into all of their wines. Gorgeous tropical fruit aromas abound with delicate hints of walnut, lime blossom, and wildflower. The palate is gently saline with pure fruit, a piercing minerality, and a wonderful texture that leads into a crystalline finish dotted with hints of tangy pineapple stalk. It is absolutely delicious. Tim Gagnon
From Michéle and Yves Gros at Domaine Les Fouques, this is the new Pétillant Rosé! Pale hued, perfumed and floral on the nose, with peaches and stone fruit on the palate. Méthode Traditionelle, Extra Brut, with great acidity and a refreshing chalky finish. Eben Lillie
This vintage of the Cuvée de l'Aubigue is our favorite to date! A cornucopia of stone fruit and floral aromas. Quince, pear, honeysuckle on the nose, then lemon compote, herbs and mint along with perfect weight on the palate, and a long mineral finish. 80% Rolle (Vermentino), and equal parts Ugni Blanc and Clairette filling out the blend. Eben Lillie
We recently opened the 2014 and were pleased to find it's tasting better than ever! Classic white fruit, honeysuckle, and floral notes on the nose, and really nice balance between the acidity and the sun-kissed fruit that is now mellowing out and giving way to a drier and more mineral side of the wine. Maybe a touch softer than the 2015, so perhaps not as worthy of cellaring, but drinking now would be a treat, and I'm sure a few more years will do it well. Eben Lillie
This Roussette de Savoie is from a tiny parcel of old Altesse vines. The nose is expressive, with flowers and white fruits aplenty. On the palate there's ripe orchard fruit, and a pleasant roundness that balances out the fresh acidity. This is a wine that has great versatility. It's great for drinking now with a wide variety of foods, from spicy asian cuisines to local cheeses, and will reward your patience if you decide to put some bottles away. With the minerality, acidity and the ripeness of the fruit in 2015, this surely has a great life ahead of it. Eben Lillie
This is Maillet's blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Mondeuse (turns out, before the AOC was created for Savoie, reds in the region were often blended like this). The vines are around 50 years old on average, and yields are anywhere from 15 to 35 hl/ha (hecto-liters per hectare). Deep and dark on the nose with sultry blackberry and black licorice notes alongside more delicate aromas of strawberry seeds, pomegranate, and savory herbs. The palate is quite fresh and is a bit more straightforward than in years past, with dark berries, smoked meats, white pepper, and a juicy acidity. The finish leans towards the earthy, savory side, making me think that this would be perfect with gamier foods such as venison or lamb. Serve cool and decant. Tim Gagnon
It's almost as if it were meant to be that Maillet left us with this Mondeuse as his last! Typically the most structured and dark of Maillet's red offerings, 2015 provided ideal conditions to fully express the depth and potential of these selection massale vines (many of which are over 100 years old!). In the glass, it looks more like Syrah than anything we typically see from the Savoie. Vibrant wild blackberry aromas on the nose, with black cherry and cola notes on the palate, and a finish with notable tannic structure and mineral length. We'd recommend decanting a bit in advance or holding this wine for up to 10 years. Eben Lillie
Jacques Maillet is a "grower" in every sense of the word. In 2003, after suffering from a serious illness connected with conventional farming, he reduced the size of his already tiny domaine in order to stop selling his grapes to the local co-op and to begin farming organically. Years later, his wines seem to get better with every vintage. His 2015 Pinot Noir is simply gorgeous. The nose opens with bright, sappy cherry, strawberry liqueur, rose petal, tangerine, and a hint of underbrush. Lithe and lively on the palate, it offers sweet, juicy red raspberry, citrus, smoke, anchored by an intense mineral core. This is no doubt one of Jacques’ most serious wines; structured, long, a bit crunchy, and very elegant. I have a feeling that this would age well over the next 3-5 years, and it is certainly showing beautifully now. Tim Gagnon
A blend of Jacquere and Altesse. I think of this wine as the Muscadet of the Savoie. It's crisp and clean, with acidity that would definitely please fans of Loire Valley whites. Graceful and subtle citrus and white flower aromas, with stone fruit on the palate and a very mineral finish. It might be most suitable in the warmer months of the year, but fans of high-acid whites will surely beg to differ. Eben Lillie
From a parcel of 35-year-old Chardonnay vines planted in limestone-rich soils, the 2015 Les Molates is pure joy to drink. All of their ouillé wines are vinified the same way: direct press into neutral barrels of various sizes for both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, and spend eighteen months on the lees before bottling with a touch of SO2. It opens with a luscious nose of orange zest, pineapple, juicy green apple, brown spice, honeysuckle, and butterscotch. Full-bodied but not flabby, it is saline and pure with a bright acidity. This is such a pretty wine, and was a standout at a recent lunch with fried Dungeness crab. Tim Gagnon
Chardonnay sourced from a single parcel of old vines (the same parcel of vines is used to make the Crémant Reserve) in Ste-Agnès planted in white marl. A bit more delicate on the nose than Les Molates, it shows captivating aromas of tropical fruit and a hint of sea breeze. The palate possesses incredible depth and power; more mineral than fruit-forward at first. With time open on the table, it is firing on all cylinders with enticing flavors of lychee, white peach, jasmine, and salty pineapple stalk. Absolutely decant if drinking now, and this will also reward with time in the cellar. Tim Gagnon
Made from an interesting local strain called Savagnin Muscaté, this is a wine unlike any other Savagnin I’ve had. The vines that provide the fruit for this cuvée are between 57 and 60 years old. Heady and floral on the nose with hints of ripe apricot, and a touch of spice, this almost could be mistaken for an Alsatian wine if it weren’t for Savagnin’s distinctive tropical fruit aromas. Compared to the 2014, it is incredibly broad and pretty on the palate with touch of white pepper and brown spice. Long, floral, and supple, this is a beguiling wine that deserves your attention. Tim Gagnon
Made from 100% Chardonnay grown in the same vineyard as Les Molates and fermented entirely in stainless steel before spending twelve to sixteen months on lees, this is a serious first foray into the sparkling wines from Domaine des Marnes Blanches. All of the base wine is from the 2014 vintage and this is the first year that this has been released without dosage. The nose is bright with honeysuckle, mango, and lime flower. On the palate it has a fine mousse with an almost toothsome texture; it is bone dry with hints of marmalade, exotic fruit, and a fresh, zesty acidity. This is simply the perfect apéritif. Tim Gagnon
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!
100% Braucol from the Geddes family, who have been working biodynamically since 1999. My father and I tasted this and the dialogue went a bit like this: DL: "mmm.. tart rasberries, red currant, even some cranberry..." EL: "Jolly Rancher!" DL: "Nope" (but when was the last time he had a watermelon Jolly Rancher?) DL: "Well we can all agree it tastes and smells like roses." EL (nodding): "That's for sure." Now I've had the bottle open for several hours and the fruit is opening up a bit, showing even some strawberry notes on the palate. Dry it is, but mostly on the finish, which is particularly mineral and sharp, to me a perfect complement to the intense bright red fruit encountered in the attack. The folks at Mayragues waited on this wine, their 2015, which had a production of only 1,800 bottles, as they wanted it to be harmonious and balanced. We're glad they did. It's a lot of fun and complexity in a bottle for only $13.99! This would be great with some fish on the grill. Maybe it's a bit early to be thinking about grilling, but we're ready! Eben Lillie
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
This beautiful Languedoc red is from very old vines of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah, grown in Thierry Navarre's mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. A bit softer than usual in 2014 the Cuvée Olivier shows lovely aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, red currant and dark chocolate with Provençal herbs and citrus. The palate is supple, soft and balanced - quite pretty with black and red fruits, earth, smoke and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Delicious now with a daube Niçoise, grilled meats or a Morrocan tagine, or cellar for 5 to 10 years. DL
From old-vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's beautiful mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. The 2014 is particularly lovely, showing deep ripe aromas of blackberry, plum, coffee and spice. Full, soft palate of spicy red and black fruits, earth and dark chocolate, with good density and supple, palate-coating texture lifted by nice acidity. Perfect for grilled foods or steaks, stews and strong cheeses all year. A sensational value!
Oeillades is an ancient Languedoc variety, probably related to Cinsault. Thierry Navarre, who is proud of his vineyards of "forgotton varieties," produces Terret and Ribeyrenc as well as this lovely light-bodied Oeillades. The 2015 has pretty high-toned red-currant, boysenberry, violet, prune and smokey aromas, quite fresh and appealing. The palate has tart cherry, red currant and plum fruit, it's light to medium-bodied, but with lovely ripeness and depth with refreshing acidity and good length. Good intensity of fruit but low alcohol, 11.5%, which makes it very food-friendly. Serve cool with charcuterie, white meats and cheeses. Highly recommended and a great value! DL
This is a delicious vin doux naturel from Thierry Navarre made from very late-harvested Grenache. We imagine that it's a wine made the way wine used to be made all over the Languedoc before temperature control was an option. A bit sweet and somewhat sherry-like, the aromas are of prune and ripe cherry, with licorice and brown spice. Very long and nutty on the palate, perhaps the best way to imagine this wine is to think of an Oloroso sherry... then extrapolate! Absolutely delicious and a great accompaniment to chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits or simply by itself as an apéritif. Thanks to Thierry for finally making a label and shipping us some of this unique local specialty.
Tasted first week of February in France - the wine showed more fruit than usual, really lovely white and yellow fruits with floral and citrus notes, with an ample but very mineral palate and a beautiful chalky finish. We look forward to trying this again on March 12th - certainly an excellent vintage for Franck's Altesse!
Franck Peillot gives us a lovely Pinot Noir from the Bugey in 2015 with pretty aromas of red currant and cherry with a it of spice on the palate with juicy berry fruits. Well-structured and balanced and showing earthy fruits, spice and smoke in the finish. This is a lovely everyday Pinot to serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes , and mild cheeses.
This is a really lovely alternative to Champagne and a great value. Montagnieu is a village south of Cerdon, in the Jura, with premières côtes overlooking the Rhône valley. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Altesse and Mondeuse and has complex herbal aromas, nice lemony ripeness on the palate and a long, dry finish. Franck Peillot works well in the vineyard and naturally in the cellar. Well worth a try!
Anne-Marie Lavaysse farms this tiny estate in the Minervois in Biodynamie (certified Demeter) and uses no copper sulfate in the vines and no sulfur-dioxide in vinification. This is a wild and beautiful wine made from Muscat planted on a high plateau with rich limestone soils. Intoxicatingly pretty on the nose with bold floral notes mingling with musky tropical melon, waxy citrus peel, and salty pineapple stalk. Beautifully textured, citrus, white pepper, green herbs, and luscious mango linger on the tongue with ample acidity for balance. This would be the perfect aperitif, or would be great with rich, spicy fish dishes. Tim Gagnon
This wine has a wonderful ability to combine elegance, power, class, and distinction. A blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Grenache, the wine shows peach-y and stone fruit notes on the nose, mingling with the savory earth and iodine character of good Bandol Rosé. The palate offers silky textures, a certain voluptuousness, and a lovely balance of acidity to full ripe fruit. I drank this upon first release with very good results. It's bound to improve over the next few months, not to mention the next few years!
This is a beautiful Savagnin from the organic vineyards of Jean-Charles Maire, on Kimmeridgian limestone near the Mont Poupet, at Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. (Elevage is sous-voile.) Opaque pale gold color. Oxidative aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, dried hebs, beeswax, stone and earth. The palate is full and dense with sharp acidity showing dried fruits, citrus, marzipan and stone flavors, with a long intensely mineral and citrus finish. Serve with fish in sauce, chicken with morels, mountain cheeses. Delicious now but five to ten years of aging seems possible, wonderful after three days open.DL
From old vines in "le Calise" on a hillside in Marnoz on a typical Jura "marnes" soil. The wine shows bright garnet/black color with earthy/meaty blackberry and tart cherry aromas with hints of citrus and spice. Bright blackberry fruit on the palate with nice density and firm earthy acidity, with minerals and blackberry/cherry fruit and a bit of tannin in the finish. Lovely now with grilled Charolais, charcuterie, young goat cheeses. Best after three to five years. DL
From the tiny appellation of Bugey, due east of Lyon, it is a blend of Gamay and Poulsard. On the nose it is exquisitely vinous with bright aromas of pomegranate seeds, brambly blueberry patch, unripe strawberry, mountain meadow, and tart red raspberry. It is incredibly balanced with an invigorating acidity and lip-smacking red berry fruits with clementine zest and minerals coalescing on the finish. At 8.5% in alcohol with significant sweetness, this would be a perfect brunch companion or as an aperitif! Tim Gagnon
The 2015 Château Renard is a home run. Chardonnay with a bit of Savagnin from parcels planted in clay and limestone soils made in the topped-up, or ouillé, style of winemaking. On the nose it is crisp and clean with delicate aromas of apricot, lime flower, almond skin, and tropical mango. The palate is much more intense with luscious, juicy green apple, cashew, sea salt, and tangy minerals. Long, textured, and a hint nutty on the finish, this would be perfect pairing with many different kinds of foods, especially roasted poultry. Tim Gagnon
Les Gaudrettes is also made from Pinot Noir; however the grapes are vinified using carbonic maceration. The result is an invigorating wine rife with sappy red berries, white pepper, blood orange, cherry pit, and a hint of underbrush on the nose. More pretty red fruits and citrus shine through on the palate with a touch of salty minerals. Meatier tannins offer the wine a fair amount of structure, and more high-toned red fruits abound on the finish. This is an excellent vintage for this cuvee, and it is downright delicious. Tim Gagnon
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
A perennial favorite is back! This is a classic Provencal rosé made from Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Rolle, and Mourvedre. Very pale pink color with aromas of peach, orange blossom, strawberry, and hints of cucumber. The wine is dry and mineral-driven on the palate with delicate peach skin and sweet spice. It’s fresh, delicious, and a fantastic value! 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
This is an unusual Collioure Rosé made by Jean-François Deu at the biodynamic Domaine du Traginer from one-third each Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Made with minimal sulfites, the wine is reductive and needs decanting or aeration, then shows opaque onion-skin color, aromas of ripe peach, raspberry, earth and ripe melon with brown spice. The palate is dense with peach, blood orange, stone and dried herbs, intriguing and very long. The wine deepens nicely with time open—really an itriguing natural rosé that will accompany a fish soup, grilled tuna, chicken and pork dishes. Recommended for lovers of natural wines.
The 2009 Chardonnay from Villet is certainly a contrast to the more straightforward 2011 bottling. Where the 2011 is ready to go, the '09 is a bit more contemplative and needs time to breath. There's a bit of gas, and it is slightly toasty upon opening, but this blows off eventually to reveal aromas of baked apples and spice, with creamy lemon in the mid-palate, and white stone fruit in the finish. This is a richer Chardonnay, one that sits longer in the mouth, and lingers longer in the finish, but it is still marked by a pronounced mineral quality and sharp acidity that are a trademark of the Villet style. Eben Lillie
From vines that Christine's father planted about 40 years ago, this was an instant hit with our staff and local customers alike. As is typical of the Villet Chardonnay offerings, the wine is not made in a sous-voile style, but vinified traditionally. It's fresh, mineral, and marked by a textural complexity that is compelling and exciting to the palate. Eben Lillie
The Tradition white from the Villets consists of 60% Chard ouillé (topped up) and 40% Savagnin sous voile. The wine is kept for 2 years in large barrels. It's deliciously oxidative with pretty floral aromas, white peach notes, and a graceful finish. Eben Lillie
100% Chardonnay Cremant du Jura from Gérard and Christine Villet. This is an absolutely delicious Cremant, that is particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), kept in tank for 9 months, and aged sur lie for 18 months before disgorgement. Dosage can range from very low to (at most) 10g/L, but this one seems to be on the low side. There's depth, but it is not a rich wine. Super digestive 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