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Domaine des Aphillanthes is near Gigondas in the Southern Rhone and has been certified Biodynamic since 2007. "Le Cros" is all Syrah from 40 to 50 year-old vines, grown on pebbly clay and limestone soils, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barriques. Expressive dark berry fruit mixes with gamier notes of hide and smoked meat on the nose. A little rounder and softer than Northern Rhone syrah, the palate has fine tannic grip, great concentration of fruit, and a strong backbone. Subtle notes of garrigue and bitter chocolate articulate the long mineral finish.
The Barou family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in the hills around Saint-Joseph and Condrieu. Their 2016 "Rendez-Vous" is 100% Marsanne grown in granite soils. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed and then macerated on the skins for 10 to 12 hours. The fermentation is in barrels at low temperature followed by nine months of aging in 4 to 5 year-old barriques. The wine shows a pale gold color and pretty aromas of citrus, lime-flower, spiced pear, almond and hay. The palate shows nice freshness with ripe pear, quince, almond and citrus fruits supported by firm acidity, finishing with refreshing fruit and mineral flavors. This is a well-balanced and food friendly Marsanne that will pair with fish in sauce, Asian foods and chicken and pork dishes. It's a nice aperitif as well and a sensational value! David Lillie
Blonde is a wine that Andréa Calek has produced for many years now. At times it's been bubbly, other times still. This time around, it's a still wine, made from Viognier. There's a delicate lemony note on the palette, with some herbs (cloves and allspice), and nice density. There's a subtle funky quality that floats around, but never settles into an actual fault or flaw. All in all a very balanced and enjoyable expression of a oft-underappreciated grape. Eben Lillie
Chapelle Saint-Theodoric is a joint venture between the Grangeon family of Domaine de Cristia and their USA importer Peter Weygandt. Le Grand Pin is all Grenache from the Pignan vineyard on sandy soils. Whole-cluster fermentation in concrete vat with wild yeasts, minimal extraction, aged in 4 to 10 year-old large casks. This is a beautiful old-fashioned Chateauneuf that is all finesse and beauty, very Burgundian in style and absoulutely delicious. The wine shows elegant aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet, roast meat, graphite, citrus and Provencal garrigue, quite complex. There is intense sappy fruit on the palate with elegant cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate and earth. Very long, dense and ripe but balanced and bright, not at all heavy or over-extracted. The finish is lovely with sappy fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Delicious as a young wine, this should cellar beautifully, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. DL
Chapelle Saint-Theodoric is a joint venture between the Grangeon family of Domaine de Cristia and their USA importer Peter Weygandt. Le Grand Pin is all old-vine Grenache from a parcel in the Pignan vineyard on sandy soils. Whole-cluster fermentation in concrete vat with wild yeasts, minimal extraction, aged in 4 to 10 year-old large casks. A bit fuller-bodied than the lovely 2012 Grand Pin, the 2013 still shows great elegance and Burgundian finesse in a delightfully old-fashioned style. The color is a clear medium-red with bright aromas of ripe raspberry, elegant and pure with darker fruit, violet and hints of roast meat with aeration. On the palate there is ripe fruit liqueur, sappy and bright with earth and mineral notes, garrigue and firm citrusy acids. Terrrific length with dense red fruits and mineral flavors that persist. Drink now for it's youthful elegance, preferably with a long decant or opening the night before - best to hold 5 to 8 years then drink until 2030 - 2035. David Lillie
In the 2014 vintage, it was decided to put all of the La Guigasse and some of the Grand Pin into Les Sablons, because of the more forward style of 2014." The 2014 "Les Sablons" is indeed a very lovely Châteauneuf, showing beautiful ripe red currant and black cherry aromas with hints of brown spice, rose, earth and musk. The palate is light and fine but very dense with sappy red fruits, citrus, earth and mineral flavors with hints of licorice and prune. The finish is long and lingering, with firm acidity showing good aging potential. Elegant and delicious now - serve slightly cool - perhaps best 2020 to 2030. Three cheers to Peter Weygandt and Baptiste Grangeon for producing this lovely old-school Châteaneuf-du-Pape!
The 2015 "La Guigasse" is a beautiful CDP in an old-fashioned style, from a parcel with very old vines on sandy soils next to Pignan. The aromas are very floral and complex with bright cherry and raspberry but with a dark meaty, spicy side as well. This lacks a bit of the finesse of the Grand Pin but has old vine intensity, and will need some time. There are deep berry fruits on the palate, quite dense and with firm tannins, with earthy mineral notes. Terrific length and weight, not as immediately enjoyable as the Grand Pin, but give it 5 years to open, then drink until 2035.
From vineyards below the magical hills of Condrieu, this is a balanced and graceful Syrah, made with a gentle extraction, and no new wood. It provides all the characteristics of classic northern Rhone Syrah, but without too much power or concentrated fruit. Perfectly medium bodied and great for fall meals.
Gigondas can be a bit of a minefield. It can produce great value wines which express distinctive Southern Rhône terroir, conversely it is the source of many wines which are more expressive of expensive cooperage and ambition. The resolutely old-school Clos du Joncuas produces the former. They farm organically, ferment whole cluster with native yeasts in concrete, then age the wine in large used oak casks. The ripe fruit is balanced by fairly stern tannins when young, without the sheen imbued by new oak. This is Gigondas which benefits from time in the cellar, revealing a rustic elegance. The 2005 Gigondas is in beautiful place. The rich, plummy, black fruit on the nose is balanced by notes of garrigue, meat, and a hint of coffee. The palate is rich and sappy (though not heavy), with warm, concentrated black fruits, leather, spices, and savory minerality. The tannins are still present, framing the ripeness of the fruit without drying out on the finish. A generous, sunny wine with an underlying sense of earthiness, this should be superb with cassoulet, game, or braised meats. John McIlwain
What do we have here? Old-fashioned Gigondas? We are seldom fortunate enough to taste these. Clos du Joncuas farms organically, vinifies whole-cluster in concrete, and does élevage in old large casks. The color of the 2006 is a bright intense ruby. The nose is floral, black-fruited, plummy with savory hints of animale and garrigue. This evolves into spicy and earthy notes without losing any sense of ripe-not overripe-fruit. There is good richness to the palate; the ripe fruit is at the forefront with a significant counter-balance of earth. Black pepper, violets, leather follow on the mostly-resolved, long finish. There is a hint of dryness, perhaps from the old oak, but no sense of austerity. Consider it refined rusticity. Was lovely paired with grilled lamb and Borlotti beans.
What a pleasure to have some mature Gigondas on the shelf! Reviewed in 2008, Drink Rhone said, "A typical Grenache nature for the bouquet. The palate starts with clean-cut black fruit that has plenty of body. It stretches out well, the fruit keeps going and the palate ends on some mildly crisp tannin. The fruit has a mature taste, and the aftertaste reflects licorice. A traditional, no-nonsense wine that persists well. There is good style in the fruit, and the wine is authentic. Drink until 2019." Tasted in January 2017, we thought it was lovely, with mature black fruit aromas, earth, plum, blood orange, licorice and spice - really drinking beautifully. Limit 3 per customer, please. DL
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. This is a dense, old-school Gigondas that needs time. Dark purple/black color, deep blackberry aromas with earth, brown spice, prune and licorice. The palate is deep and dense with blackberry, garrigue, earth and mineral flavors framed in firm tannins and acidity Long finish of earthy minerals and black fruits. (April 2015) Tasted in January 2017 at the estate, the wine showed fabulous aromas of berry liqueur, earth, mint, garrigue and licorice; the palate was beautifully structured, deep, elegant and balanced with firm acidity and a great finish. Ten years from maturity but beautiful now with a steak if you can't wait... Bravo to the Chastan family for continuing to make wines like this!
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
2015 is a great vintage for Dany and Carole Chastan at the Clos du Joncuas, and their 2015 Esprit de Grenache is simply outstanding. Since 1900 the estate has been farmed organically and the winemaking here is completely traditional with whole-cluster fermentations and aging in old foudres. Tasted at the estate in January of 2017, the wine showed dense elegant black fruit aromas with licorice and earth. The palate is pure and long with deep blackberry flavors with olive, earth, citrus and bitter chocolate - just fantastic! As with all the 2015s here, the wine is delicious in its youthful fruit and intensity, but ten to fifteen years of aging will reveal a truly great southern Rhone Grenache. Very highly recommended! DL
70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered. The 2015 Seguret shows a very dark red/black color, with aromas of ripe cherry and strawberry liqueur, prune, earth, stone and provençal spices. The palate is quite dense and supple with black berry, prune and earth with red currant and floral notes backed with firm citrusy acids, very saline and long in the finish. This is a big, solid wine that has opened up nicely over the past year, becoming softer, velvety and complex - just delicious! It will accompany steaks, chops and burgers, a daube niçoise, tagines and full flavored cheeses. It's a fabulous value for drinking over the next five years. David Lillie
50% Clairette, 25% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat. Subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower and stone. Ripe pear, peach, stone, herbal and citrus flavors on the palate. This is a bit brighter and more balanced than the 2015 - really a delicious "food" wine that will pair with a wide variety of full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, white meats, Asian cuisines and goat cheeses.
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. Dany and Carole Chastan have made another superb Vacqueyras in 2016, a bit brighter than the opulent 2015 version, showing dark black/red color and bright aromas of blackberry, black olive and licorice with plum skin, garrigue, violet and bitter chocolate. This young wine is showing deep black fruits with firm acidity and terrific length with chalky mineral notes, earth, citrus and olive. This will be fantastic with grilled foods this summer and will improve over the next few years - drink happily until 2030. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
After losing much of their crop to frost in 2016, Alice and Olivier De Moor purchased grapes from friends in the south - Clairette and Grenache Blanc from Emile Heredia in the Languedoc and Viognier from Gérald Oustric in the Ardeche to produce this lovely "Melting Potes."
Since its inception in 1992, Philippe and Véronique Grenier have practiced organic farming on their tiny estate in Chavanay, in the AOC Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. Their 2015 "Altitude 300" is a beautiful white Saint-Joseph made from 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne. The lovely aromas show the Roussanne, with hay, stone, pear, almond, brown spice and lime-flower. The palate is ripe, round and balanced showing stone, peach, apricot, citrus and dried herbs — really pretty, with saline acidity and white fruits lingering in the finish. This is an outstanding northern Rhone white to drink over the next 5 to 8 years and a superb value!
"Detour" is made from a blend of Roussane, Marsanne and Clairette from the Northern Rhone. The aromas are layered with white peach, nectarine and a hint of baking spice. The palate is supple and round with ample flavors of peach skin, ripe apricot, and zesty citrus balanced by a wonderful brightness and mineral quality from the Clairette. This wine was still delicious after being open for three days - not that we expect there to be too many half-finished bottles this vintage! Amanda Bowman
"Les Iris" is made from organically tended Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC. The 2015 is elegant and balanced with a powerful minerality. Pale lemon in the glass, the nose offers opulent aromas of peaches, nutmeg, and cut lime flowers. Creamy flavors of peach, touches of brown spice, and lemon zest develop into more tropical notes of mango, tangerine, and stone on the long finish. Forget what you think you know about Viognier and pair this one with chicken, fish or mild cheeses this summer. Amanda Bowman
What a great replacement to the Vieille Ferme Blanc! A blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Viognier, this wine is a great example of affordable wines showing respect to the terroir with great minerality expressions. Biodynamically and organically farmed, the grapes are co-fermented slowly in stainless steel tanks using only native yeast. The wine displays summery white peach, pear and lemon notes with saline undertones. With good acidity and minerality, the wine has a nice finish with a pretty texture. A great value to say the least, pair this wine with light fares, such as fish, salad or grilled meat, or drink it by itself! Caroline Coursant
From Syrah planted in 1913 in the lieu-dit "Patou" on granite soils in the southern sector of Cornas. Whole cluster fermentation, aged two years in one to three year-old barrels, approximately 600 bottles produced. The 100 year-old vines in Patou produced a beautiful Cornas in 2014 - lacking the ripeness and weight of the 2015, but lovely in it's own way, showing a bright, deep black/red color with roasty blackberry and blueberry fruit, game, rose and spice-box. The palate shows black fruits, very deep and textured, framed in bright acidity with old-vine density and length. This is an elegant Cornas that can be enjoyed now with a steak or stew, but will age beautifully as well, best perhaps around 2030. David Lillie
"Patou" is a vineyard in the southern portion of Cornas with vines planted from the 1920s to the 1990s on granite soils. The grapes are mostly de-stemmed, fermentations are with wild yeasts and the wine ages for approximately 2 years in 3 to 7 year-old barrels. While we don't like using other people's notes, we love what our friend John Livingstone-Learmonth wrote about this wine: "dark red robe. The nose is grilled, meaty, has a primal nature, real entrails in the glass, with pine, basil. The palate also gives pine woven into its plump blackcurrant content, and a broad, rounded mass. The tannins are ripe, supple, well entered. This is full-blooded, STGT (wine of terroir) Cornas, big on character, for the aficionados. It goes well long. Stand back: a freight train is coming! 13.5° alc." While it's quite impressive now, best to wait a few years then drink until 2035.
Guy and Thomas Jullien make a small quantity of fascinating and delicious white Cotes du Rhône on their organic estate in Suzette, on the slopes of the Dentelles near Beaumes-de-Venise. "Carlina" is made from 45% Clairette, 45% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc grown at high altitude on clay/limestone soils, vinified with some skin contact and with minimal SO2. Bright pale gold color, with aromas of spiced pear, anis, lemon peel and almond. The palate is round and ripe but nicely balanced, really showing the Roussanne with lemon confit, pear, hay and herbal flavors, with stone and mineral notes. This is quite delicious and complex, perfect with fish in sauce, Asian foods, chicken and pork dishes and full-flavored cheeses. David Lillie
A lovely rosé of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault grown in the Ventoux by Guy and Thomas Jullien at their beautiful organic estate in Suzette, above Beaume-de-Venise. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermented with only wild yeasts and the wine is bottled with minimal SO2. The 2016 shows lovely aromas of cherry, raspberry and rose with hints of spice and citrus. Beautiful palate with firm acidity and mineral flavors with hints of red currant, raspberry, peach and brown spice, with good density and length. This is a real rosé of terroir, which should open up nicely with aeration or a few months in bottle. A fabulous value!
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). It's a great terroir, and the Cuvée Claude, homage to Thomas' uncle, is a superb Crozes from old vines showing a deep red/black color and elegant aromas of pure black fruits with hints of graphite, earth, bitter chocolate, menthol and clove. The palate is dense but not heavy with blackberry and red currant fruit, showing a bit of oak with citrus, mineral and pure fruits in the long finish. Delicious now, the wine will benefit from 4 to 6 hours of decanting, or cellar for a few years then enjoy until 2030. David Lillie
This is a lovely traditional Gigondas - The fermentation is with whole-clusters and aging is in concrete vats and old barrels, the blend is approximateley 80 - 85% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre. The aromas are quite pretty, showing ripe cassis, strawberry and black cherry with hints of violet, spice and garrigue. The palate shows peppery ripe fruit, cassis and strawberry, with earth, spice and citrus. This is drinking well now and will be a great accompaniment to pork or lamb chops and anything grilled this summer. Serve a bit cool.
This well-known family estate produces excellent Tavel from certified organic vineyards and includes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Mourvedre! The 2017 Lafond Tavel is a lovely wine - fairly full-bodied as Tavel Rosé tends to be, but with nice freshness and very pretty fruit. The aromas are tart cherry and raspberry with citrus peel, peach and rose. The palate is round and supple with cherry and strawberry fruit, with citrus and mineral notes that linger on the long finish with refreshing acidity. Sip this smooth and delicious rosé by itself or serve with Salade Nicoise and grilled foods.
Domaine de Marcoux farms about 18 ha in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. There is a wide range of soil types from sandy soils in Charbonnières, to red clay and galets in L’Arnesque and Les Bouquets, to limestone and marl in Les Esquirons and Beaurenard, to red clay and gravel in Gallimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes. They grow mainly Grenache, with an average vine age of 50 years old, with smaller amounts of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault. There is a four week wild-yeast vinification with minimal extraction followed by aging in cement vats and large barrels. The 2015 Marcoux shows a dense garnet/black color with meaty blackberry and black cherry liqueur with floral, spice and pepper. The palate is dense and sappy, quite supple and ripe with bright red currant and berry fruit that is lifted by firm acidity and that continues in the long well structured finish. As with all the 2015 Châteauneufs, the lovely fruit makes this delicious now, but three to five years of aging will really open the wine which should drink well for 15 to 20 years. This is a wine with great character and authenticity, well done Domaine de Marcoux! David Lillie
From 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah on limestone with sandy clay soils, organic cultivation. The 2015 "2 Monardes" shows a deep garnet color and ripe cherry and plum aromas with garrigue and violet and hints of blueberry from the Syrah. There is supple, lush fruit on the palate - black cherry, blackberry and red currant with garrigue and spice flavors and good balancing acidity. Drinking well now this supple and delicious Rhône red will go beautifully with grilled foods, stews and tagines and anything on the barbecue this summer.
This is a beautiful Viognier from our friend Jean-Pierre Monier in the hills near Saint-Desirat in Saint-Joseph. A true "garagiste" Jean-Pierre's tiny estate produces sensational Saint-Josephs and three Vins de Pays that are truly delicious. The 2016 Viognier shows a bright pale bronze color and elegant, delicate aromas of white flowers, dried pear, stone, orange peel and almond, really quite pretty. The palate is stylish and light, with good density ad length, with pear, citrus, tea and mineral flavors; the finish is long with lemon, pear and stone flavors lingering on the tongue. This is an elegant and food friendly Viognier that will accompany grilled fish with herbs, chicken in sauce and mild cheeses - and it's perfect sipped by itself... David Lillie
This is a lovely expression of pure Roussanne from our friend Jean-Pierre Monier in Saint-Joseph. The aromas are delicate and complex, showing green tea, mint, hay, citrus and apricot/peach fruit. The palate is pure and stony with citrus, hay, quince and pear with a smoky, mineral hint at the finish.This is a lovely aperitif or serve with fish in sauce, goat cheeses, mild Asian foods. DL
We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vacarese, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2010 is a tighter and more structured wine than the voluptuous 2009, an elegant Chateauneuf-du-Pape that is built to last! Tasted last winter, it showed aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. Fabulous palate with deep black fruits with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. Terrific length and density, just opening slightly but ideally give this wine at least three more years and enjoy until 2035. Just a great bottle of Châteauneuf, one of our favorites from this great vintage! Highly recommended. David Lillie
Jacqueline André makes this superb white Chateauneuf-du-Pape from one hectare of vines - 40% Clairette planted in the 1920s, with 30% Bourboulenc, 20% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc. Biodynamic farming, aged in vat, malo blocked. Fabulous aromas of pear and green apple with lemon blossom, stone and dried fruits. Very saline and mineral on the palate with intense flavors of dried pear, apple, hazelnut, anise and stone. very dense and long with firm acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. Terrific wine - delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce and full flavored cheeses, or cellar, perhaps best 2020 to 2030. DL
This lovely Saint-Joseph from Benoit Roseau is from 20 year-old vines on granite soils, fermented with the stems with wild yeasts and aged in large, old barrels. The aromas are bright and pretty with blackberry, blueberry and violet, with hints of black olive, earth and licorice. The palate shows earthy black fruit liqueur with flavors of roast meat, bitter chocolate, olive and garrigue with a nice mineral kick in the long finish, with firm acidity and lingering black fruits. This is a complex, subtle and well-balanced Saint-Joseph that is drinking beautifully now, and over the next five to eight years. David Lillie
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, a cool, late-ripening terroir with clay, sand and stones over firm granite. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. Although normally overshadowed by the Rousset's superb Crozes "les Picaudieres," the 2015 Saint-Joseph is a great wine of terroir and one of the better Saint-Josephs we've tasted from this vintage. The wine shows a dark black/red color with deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with plum, earth and smoke - quite ripe but with nice brightness as well. The palate is quite dense and supple with ripe black fruits and hints of blueberry, dark chocolate, black olive and roast meats which continue in the long finish with pronounced mineral flavors and firm acidity. The Rousset Saint-Joseph is normally somewhat austere and tightly structured when young, but the 2015 will be quite delicious as a young wine if decanted for a few hours. Despite the more forward aspect, there is plenty of structure here for aging, best perhaps 2020 to 2030. David Lillie
From hillside vineyards in Erome, Gervans and Crozes, mostly granite with some limestone/clay, average age 45 years, aged 30% in foudre, 70% in one to 7 year-old burgundy barrels. This is no "ordinary" Crozes-Hermitage, but a real wine of terroir from great vineyard sites, all on hillsides. 2015 is an excellent vintage in the northern Rhone with great ripeness balanced by some rain before harvest. The Rousset 2015 Crozes-Hermitage shows a deep black/purple color with deep aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with hints of earth, bitter chocolate and musk. The palate is dense but brightened by firm acidity with black fruits, licorice, earth and mineral flavors. Black olive and red currant emerge with aeration, really lovely. This is a delicious Syrah from great terroir that will accompany grilled foods, stews, tagines and full-flavored cheeses over the next 5 to 8 years. David Lillie