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This is a great Cornas and certainly one of the best wines of this very good vintage in the Northern Rhône. Franck Balthazar is one of the few truly organic and natural producers in the region and, like the Gonons, he practices whole-cluster fermentations with wild yeasts and ages in old (5 years and older) large barrels. The "Chaillot" cuvée is from vines planted in 1914, with a small percentage from "Mazards" planted in 1960. There is an approximately 18 month elevage and the wine is bottle unfined and unfiltered with a small dosage of SO2. The 2015 shows old-vine intensity and terroir expression along with the beautiful ripeness of the vintage. The wine is a very deep red/black color with elegant aromas of blackberry and red currant liqueur with violet, pepper, roast meat and earth, The palate is intense and densely structured with mineral and black fruit flavors, black olive, graphite and licorice. Very elegant with perfect acidity and firm tannins with slightly bitter black fruits and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a classic, unforced, unspoofilated Cornas that will age beautifully, best perhaps 2025 to 2040. Highly recommended. David Lillie The 2015 Chaillot from Balthazar displays the ripeness of the vintage, with pure black fruit and violet aromas, with hints of Malabar peppercorn, garrigue, and game. The densely-fruited palate offers flavors of blackberry, ripe plum, and cassis, with savory notes of meat and granitic spice enveloping a vibrant core of minerality. The interplay of pure fruit, bright acidity, and firm, ripe tannins bodes well for long aging. This should be magnificent with 7-10 years in the cellar. A truly beautiful Cornas! John McIlwain
Domaine Barou has been organic since the 1970s and also produces cherries, apricots and peaches. The Saint-Joseph vines are in Limony, on thin granite soils. Shallow plowing ("griffage") is done in the summer, with rye and clover growing between the rows in winter. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed, fermentations are with wild yeasts, aging is primarily in old barrels.The 2015 Saint-Joseph shows gorgeous aromas of blackberry and blueberry liqueur with violet, spice, citrus and roast meat. Quite pure and lovely. Ripe black fruits, bitter chocolate, earth, licorice and citrus continue on the lush palate which is framed in perfect, bright acidity. The finish is long and shows firm acids and mineral flavors. This is absolutely delicious now but has the structure to age nicely for ten to fifteen years. A sensational value and highly recommended!
The 2015 'La Bonne Etoile" Viognier shows ripe, complex aromas of peach, citrus, mango and lime-flower. The palate is lush and dense with peach, pineapple and pear - a cornucopia of ripe fruits framed in firm stony acidity. Just delicious! Not for oysters perhaps, but a beautiful aperitif, and perfect with patés, seafood, Asian cuisines and goat cheeses.
From 40 year-old Syrah vines in Charnay, just outside the Saint-Joseph AOC, on living soils tended organically for forty years by Marie-Agnès and Emmanuel Barou. Plowing by tractor or weeding by hand on the steep slopes. Hand-harvested, wild-yeast fermentations, aging one year in 4 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2015 Cuvée des Vernes is simply sensational and one of the best values in the store! The wine shows deep black/red color with lush aromas of blackberry liqueur, licorice, blueberry and musk with cool minty notes - really lovely! The palate shows cool dense black fruits with dark chocolate, blueberry, earth, smoke and citrus with a beautiful, refreshing finish of minerals and fruit. This is an outstanding Syrah, equal to many many Saint-Josephs and simply delicious for current drinking. Serve a bit cool with almost anything from roast chicken to pork, rabbit, charcuterie and lamb, or just enjoy by itself. Case quantities are available. Highly recommended! DL
Aromas of night-blooming jasmine, almond flower, pear skin on the nose. Reine Claude, green almond, white honey on the medium rich palate. There's a good balance on minerality, freshness, and gras to the long supple finish. A lovely Condrieu! Drink and hold. John McIlwain
Clos du Joncuas, founded in 1920 by Pierre Auguste Chastan, has always farmed with natural methods and has been officially organic since 1980. Currently run by sisters Dany and Carole Chastan, the estate's Gigondas vines are on slopes below the Dentelles de Montmirail on soils of clay with dolomite and gypsum over the limestone of the Dentelles and average 40 to 90 years old. 80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. The 2012 Gigondas is a bit lighter and brighter than the norm at Clos du Joncuas with high-toned black fruit, mineral, spice and licorice aromas. The palate is elegant and fresh showing deep supple black fruits with hints of graphite, garrigue and brown spice. After three days, recorked in the fridge, the wine has deepened impressively with pure blackberry, bitter chocolate and licorice aromas, great density on the palate with black fruit liqueur, red currant, earth and anise. A beautiful wine! Serve cool and decant many hours if drinking young, or cellar for five to fifteen years.
(70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered.) Dense red/black color. Vivid aromas of blackberry and black cherry liqueur with hints of cocoa, citrus peel and licorice. The palate is dense and supple with berry liqueur, cherry pit and firm citrusy acids, fairly bright and cool in the finish. This beautiful young wine will benefit from decanting or 5 years of aging, serve with grilled foods, North African cuisine, strong cheeses. Great value!
(50% Clairette, 25% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat) Floral dried pear, apricot, hay, thyme aromas. Ripe pear, stone, caramel, lemon on the palate. A big, ripe wine with a supple palate but with good acidity that will pair with fish stews, shellfish, pork and chicken dishes as well as full-flavored goat cheeses. Particularly good in 2015, the Clos du Joncuas (Domaine la Garancière) Seguret Blanc is an outstanding value and highly recommended. DL
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 it's youthful fruit and intensity, but ten to fifteen years of aging will reveal a truly great southern Rhone Grenache. Very highly recommended! DL
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.
This beautifully poised rosé from our friends at Clos du Joncuas is a textbook example of a powerful wine wearing a velvet glove. Its weight and 14% alcohol are balanced out by lively acidity and a persistent minerality that folds itself seamlessly into a long and textured finish. The nose and the attack on the palate is all ripe fruit: tangerine, kumpquat, passion fruit, orange zest, and a hint of honeydew (but the part right up against the rind.) Then the bright acidity kicks in and the wine dances across the palate with vibrant energy. As it resolves, a note of wet granite lingers. Pair it with salade Nicoise or hot dogs, or shout "So What" like P!nk and drink this delicious rosé by itself all summer long, any day, anytime. Oskar Kostecki
The Vieilles Vignes is bottled exclusively for the US. Karis describes it as having a bit more Grenache than the Chateauneuf classique.
12 hectares of vines. The Vieilles Vignes is 100% Grenache, from 80-100 year old vines, aged 18 months in older barriques, and bottled unfiltered.
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting. The Amphores Syrah "les Iris" shows lovely blackberry and blueberry aromas with citrus and floral notes. The palate is light and refreshing with very pretty fruit - the flavors of Northern Rhone Syrah in a bright ready-to-drink style. This will be a great accompaniment to grilled foods and picnics, served quite cool.
"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
Jérôme Bressy took over his father's estate in 1996 when he was just 23 years old. They farm 13 hectares of certified organic vines and even achieved biodyanamic certification with Demeter in 2008. Traditional winemaking practices are employed here, and they only release three wines each vintage: a white, a rosé, and a red. The grapes for this wine come from 30- to 100-year-old gobelet-trained vines that are grown in chalky marl soils with northwest and southwest exposures. Bright ruby with garnet edges in the glass, it exhibits lifted red berry fruits, plum, damp earth, fresh sage, clementine zest, and sweet spice alongside that classic Rasteau funk. The palate is ripe with brambly red raspberries, more herbs, and a meaty, savory streak which last onto the finish. This would be a good match for steak, roasted capon (for the adventurous), or beef bourguignon. Tim Gagnon
Dumien-Serrette is a happily old-fashioned estate in Cornas with 1.5 hectares in the Patou vineyard, which has primarily granitic soils; the remainder, .3 hectares, is located in Les Savaux. The vines in Patou date back to the 1920’s, with some even exceeding 100 years old. Since the 2010 harvest, half of the fruit has been de-stemmed; grapes are pressed with an old-fashioned basket press and aged 2 years in 2 to 7-year-old barrels. The estate’s total annual production is around 300 cases (600 in 2014). The 2014 is old-fashioned Cornas with aromas of ripe blackberry and black cherry with violet, graphite, citrus, earth and spice. The palate is very earthy and mineral with ripe black fruits, really a wine of the soil. This will drink beautifully with grilled meats and will benefit from decanting or a few years of cellaring. Drink over the next ten to fifteen years. DL
A great Beaumes-de-Venise from Guy and Thomas Julien at La Ferme Saint-Martin. The estate has been working with organic methods for many years, with natural fermentations and minimal use of sulfur. The Costancia 2015 is from old vines of Grenache and Syrah grown at 1,500 ft in Suzette, on limestone/clay soils. Deep red/black color. Blackberry aromas with red currant, earth and bitter chocolate lifted with cool menthol and floral notes. The palate is deep and ripe with blackberry, coca, citrus and earth with firm acidity and ripe tannins. This is a beautiful Rhône red to serve now with grilled foods, stews and tagines - or hold for 5 years then drink until 2032, as this will age beautifully. A fantastic value and highly recommended. David Lillie
From parcels of clay/limestone, rich in iron, on hillsides surrounded by woods and hedges, 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah. Like all the Ferme Saint-Martin wines, it's from organic grapes and bottled with minimal SO2. The 2015 Terres Jaunes shows lovely deep berry liqueur aromas - mostly red currant with hints of bright raspberry, with floral and earthy notes. The palate is round and supple showing ripe blackberry and red currant flavors with minerals, citrus and dark chocolate, that continues on the long refreshing finish. This is a big but bright and balanced Côtes du Rhône that shows the lush fruit and concentration of the 2015 vintage - it's the best Terres Jaunes ever and a great value! Serve with stews, steaks and chops or anything from the grill this summer. DL
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. "Le Blanc" 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. The 2015 shows soft aromas of tangerine, lime flower, almond butter, and anise along with deeper notes of exotic tropical melon. The palate is broad and textured with a melange of fruit reminiscent of white peach, pineapple, mandarin orange, and apricot balanced by a gentle acidity and the most subtle suggestion of tannin. This would be fantastic with rich fish dishes, pork, and poultry of all kinds. Tim Gagnon
Guy Jullien at the Ferme Saint-Martin is one of the pioneers of organic and natural winemaking in the southern Rhône, and his great work continues under his son Thomas. Made from hand-harvested young vines of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the 2016 "Romanins" has deep, complex aromas of crushed blackberries with red currant, violet, licorice and spice. The palate shows dense red and black fruits, with strawberry, earth and mineral notes - more structured than the 2015, but remains balanced and pretty, with bright acidity, good length and lovely fruit lingering in the finish. This lovely, great value Côtes-du-Rhône will be perfect with a stew or steak, or anything grilled. Serve slightly chilled. (Bottled with minimal SO2, not fined or filtered.)
"Very dark color; the nose is destined for appreciation at a second stage of maturity, since it is strongly oaked and full right now, with a glimmer of black berry fruit within. This is serious Crozes, not the bar drinking school at all. The palate has viscous black fruit, Morello cherry, nice and dark. Oak shows on the late stages, will absorb. High quality here. We are close to Hermitage in style. Has a long, sustained, fresh close. From mid-late 2016. Drink until 2024-25" Drink Rhone
Origines: Grenache 50%, Mourvedre 30%, Syrah 20%, from 65+ year old vines; aged in new barriques and bottled after a light filtration.
14.5 hectares of vines. Chateauneuf is Grenache 70%, Syrah 20%, Mourvedre 10%, aged 12 months in barriques, and bottled with a light filtration.
Origines: Grenache 50%, Mourvedre 30%, Syrah 20%, from 65+ year old vines; aged in new barriques and bottled after a light filtration.
The Gripa 2015 Saint-Joseph Blanc is 70% Marsanne and 30% Roussanne from 35 year-old vines. Drink over the next ten years, decanting recommended.
The Gripa Saint-Joseph "le Berceau" is from the vineyard called "Saint-Joseph" in Tournon, one of the best sites in the appellation, with the Gripas having a full-south exposure and vines planted mostly in the 1920s. The soils are granite with clay and stones. The fermentation is with 30 to 40% whole clusters, with aging in one to six year-old barrels. This is an outstanding old-vine Saint-Joseph that should ideally be cellared for about 5 years and should drink beautifully for fifteen to twenty years.
The 2015 Gripa "Le Berceau" Blanc is 100% Marsanne frm 60+ year-old vines in the "Saint-Joseph" vineyard above Tournon. 215 cases made, a rare and beautiful wine. "This imposes, and is a kingly wine with its steady assertion of ripe flavour and near red wine structure." (DrinkRhone) Drink over the next fifteen years.
Laurent Habrard is making superb organic wines in the Northern Rhone and is blessed with a tiny parcel in Hermitage "Les Rocoules," whose vines, 99.9% Marsanne, range from approximately 50 to 100 years old! The wine ages 7 months in 1 to 3 year-old barriques and finishes in vat. The 2014 shows a bright gold color and complex ripe aromas of peach, pear, citrus peel, lime-flower, hazelnut, caramel and stone, really extraordinary. The palate is ripe and round with white and yellow fruits, hay, stone, menthol and citrus, rich and long in the finish. Serve this beautiful wine over the next ten years with fish or chicken in sauce, goat cheeses and foie gras. DL
With 4.5 hectares in vines, Mordoree is one of the smallest producers in Chateauneuf. Reine du Bois: Grenache 80%, Mourvedre 10%, Syrah, Counoise, and Vaccarese 10%, from 60+ year old vines; aged 10 months, 60% in tank, the balance in barriques, of which 40% are new. Bottled unfiltered.
The Paris Cornas "Granit 60" is from 100 year-old vines in "Les Mazards," 65 year-old vines in "Patou" and 24 year-old vines in "Sauman." The grapes are partially de-stemmed then undergo a 2-3 week vinification with wild yeasts. The wine ages in two to ten year-old barrels and is bottled un-filtered. About 400 to 500 cases are produced.
13.6 hectares of vines. The Reserve des Vieilles Vignes is Grenache 70%, Syrah 15%, Mourvedre 10%, Counoise 5%. Aging is 11-13 months with 80% in partly new barriques, and the rest in large barrels. Bottled unfiltered.
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
The Richaud 2014 Cairanne is a gorgeous wine made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, partly made with carbonic maceration. The aromas are ripe and vivid with black cherry, red currant and floral notes backed by earth and dark chocolate. The palate shows lush, bright fruit - a beautiful and intense melange of berries lifted by cool acidity and mineral flavors with fabulous length. Three days later the wine is showing beautifully with a bit more spice in the aromas and fabulous minty black fruits on the palate, very long and complex. Bravo to Marcel Richaud! Serve this lovely wine quite cool with just about anything!
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les Rivoires" on the lower slope in Tournon, sandy granite soils. Aged 12 months, 30% foudre, 70% 2 to 5 year-old barrels. This "serious" Saint-Joseph shows lush, bright aromas of blackberry liqueur, with blueberry, violet, citrus, spice and roast meats. The palate is a bit tight and quite elegant with red currant, blackberry and blueberry fruit with firm acidity and mineral flavors. This is an elegant, earthy and well-structured Saint-Joseph that will age beautifully - best probably 2021 to 2030, decant if drinking now.
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
From 60 to 90 year-old vines in the hillside vineyards of "les Vedias" and "Tout" in Erome, decomposed granite with clay and gravel - great terroir producing this serious but overlooked wine from the Rousset family. The Rousset Crozes Blanc is outstanding in 2015 and is one of the finest white wine values in the store! It's an intense and delicious Marsanne showing elegant aromas of lemon, stone, dried pear, almond, apricot and hay - really lovely. The palate is dense, mineral and balanced by firm acidity with citrus, pear, grilled almond, anise and herbal flavors, with a long stone and citrus finish. Delicious in its youth, this will benefit from a few years in the cellar and should be quite interesting in 2025. Serve with white meats, full-flavored fish dishes or provençal fish soup and a wide variety of cheeses. David Lillie
16 hectares of vines. Prestige is Grenache 60%, Syrah 15%, Mourvedre 10%, and the balance Cinsault, Terret Noir, Vaccarese, and Muscardin, from vines over 90 years old. Aged 65% in large barrels, and 35% in mostly new barriques. Bottled unfiltered.
Tardieu-Laurent works with purchased fruit. The Vieilles Vignes is Grenache 80%, and Syrah and Mourvedre 10% each; aged 24 months in partly new barriques, and bottled unfiltered.