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From young vines in Les Côtes & La Lègre, whole bunch 2-week fermentation, wild yeasts, manual cap punching, aged in 7-8 year 600-litre casks for 14 months, unfined, unfiltered. Dark black red color; aromas of very ripe blackberry/blueberry liqueur with a deep earthy center, violet, citrus and animal notes as well. Black fruits on the palate, with earth, licorice and mineral flavors framed in firm acidity and round tannins, quite deep, pure and long. This is fascinating and delicious now, perhaps best 2020-2025.
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 2014 Saint-Joseph "Un Autre Monde" is astonishingly pretty with lush, deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, dark chocolate, blueberry and raspberry, warm earth and musk - you get the idea! The palate shows black fruits, firm acidity and mineral flavors with hints of cocoa, licorice and mint, supple and cool with a lovely finish of black fruits and minerals. Perhaps the best Saint-Joseph yet from Emmanuel and Marie-Agnes Barou - drink over the next three to five years, simply delicious!
The Barou family family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in Charnas, in the northern section of the AOC Saint-Joseph. Their 2015 Vin de Pays Marsanne is a simply superb everyday wine! Light bronze/gold color. Aromas of almond, lime-flower, honeysuckle, lemon peel and hay, really quite pretty. Ripe stone fruits on the palate, primarily peach and dried pear with lemon, spice and saline mineral flavors with good balancing acidity in the long finish. Serve this lovely wine with chicken, full-flavored fish, mild cheeses and Asian foods. This is a unique and delicious wine and an extraordinary value - highly recommended!
(98% Grenache with Cinsault, Clairette, Bourboulenc, 60 to 90 years old, picked late. 50% de-stemmed, aged in large barrels, casks and vats) As the name suggests, this is old-school CDP, almost all Grenache, not over-extracted or softened with Syrah and Mourvedre. "Bright ruby. Musky, expansive aromas of raspberry, strawberry compote and fresh flowers. Accentuated by a penetrating quality and impressive grip to the black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors. Finishes with alluring perfume and mounting tannins." JR Drink from 2014 to 2027.
Mostly from 80 to 100 year-old Grenache vines, with Syrah and Mourvedre. Whole-cluster fermentation, aged in a combination of old and young barrels (no new) and concrete vat. A great Chateauneuf, showing ripe, supple black fruits, spice, earth and licorice. Quite elegant and balanced. Really beginning to drink well now, and will improve over the next ten years. Look no further for a special bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape...
This is Gigondas at its finest! 100% Grenache from old vines, fermented in cement, and aged in large oak vats before being bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal added sulphur. It gives you that classic Grenache mustiness – like blackberries and blueberries smashed onto the forest floor – but also more fresh and delicate notes of nutmeg and strawberries. Hints of grapefruit peel, vine tomato and pine offer added depth. Given its age, it is still incredibly energetic on the palate with wonderfully resolved tannins and ripe black berry fruit. Truly a complex and delicious wine with a long life ahead of it! Tim Gagnon
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.
(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!
(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 backed with firm citrusy acids, very saline and long in the finish. This is a big, solid wine that will accompany steaks, chops and burgers, a daube niçoise and full flavored cheeses. It's a fabulous value and will benefit from decanting well in advance or a few years in the cellar. DL
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 this winter and anything from the grill next 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
From one of the few organic estates in Crozes Hermitage. The vines are 25 to 75 years old, most in Erome and Gervans on slopes of decomposed granite, some in Pont d'Isere on sand and gravel. No SO2 during vinification, aged in vat and in 2 - 5 year-old small barrels. The 2015 Habrard is a lovely wine, showing a bright red/black color; lovely aromas of ripe black cherry, blackberry and blueberry with hints of roast meat, mint and dark chocolate, quite pure and elegant. The palate shows dense, supple blackberry fruit with earth, smoke, black olive and licorice, nicely balanced with citrus and spice and finishing with terrific length of berry fruits, saline minerals and cool acidity. Lovely wine! Delicious now, served cool, or hold for 5 to 8 years. DL
Though perhaps not the most well-known of the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Saint Maurice has a long history of wine making with evidence of winemaking dating back to the Romans. The vines are a planted in clay limestone soils at 350 meters, the coolness of the altitude lending freshness to the 95% Syrah, 5% Grenache blend. The nose offers aromas of cassis, blackberry, with hints of game, anise, and garrigue. The palate is a medley of black fruit, mineral expression, and cool-toned herbal notes with good persistence and lift. Try this with lamb or grilled sausage. John McIlwain
Mostly from Petite Serine planted in the 1950s on Chavaroche, a superb parcel of granite and schist soils with clay and sand (just west of Cote Brune) a very warm terraced plot sheltered from the north wind. Whole-bunch fermentation, aged one year in old barrels, one year in 15% new, 85% old casks. The 2009 Chavaroche is a magnificent Côte-Rôtie with surprising structure and acidity for the vintage - in fact Nicole Levet suggests drinking the 2010 before the 2009. Superb, elegant nose of deep black fruits, stone and game with hints of cocoa. (Albert Dervieux-Thaise once told me that a good Côte-Rôtie should smell like "le ventre d'un lièvre chaud" - the gut of a warm hare.) This is not that rustic, but definitely has distinctive aromas. The palate is bursting with stony blackberry fruit, with brown spice, citrus, smoke and licorice. This seems softer than the 2010 to me but there is ample lifting acidity and freshness to carry the wine into old age. This is a big, gorgeous Côte-Rôtie that will be a joy to drink over the next 15 to 20 years! David Lillie
Jacqueline André made another superb Chatauneuf-du-Pape in 2011, much more enjoyable as a young wine than the firmer-structured 2010, but the wine will age beautifully as well. The aromas are typically ripe and complex, showing berry liqueur, smoke, garrigue, cassis, earth and stone. The palate shows deep, round black fruits, earth, tobacco, spice and citrus notes with tannins that are soft and round. This is a lovely CDP to drink now, that shows the great farming and traditional winemaking of the André family and is highly recommended. Hold for ten to fifteen years for a mature experience. (Organic since 1980 (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.)
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.
Les Picaudières is perhaps the best vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage, formerly owned by Raymond Roure. It's a steep slope of granite terraces, isolated in an oak forest facing due south and protected from the wind. (In the opinion of Livingston-Learmonth in "Wines of the Northern Rhône" wine from Les Picaudières is "certainly better" than many Hermitage from the eastern part of the hill.) The vines range from 20 to 80 years-old. The grapes are hand-harvested and mostly de-stemmed. The wine ages 16 months, 40% in foudre, 60% in burgundy barrels, new to 5 year-old. 2014 is another excellent vintage at Domaine Rousset thanks to the great vineyard and cellar work of Stephane and his father Robert. The 2014 Les Picaudières shows deep pure aromas of blackberry, black cherry and red currant with hints of violets, earth and licorice, a bit riper and more forward than the 2013. The palate is dense and well-structured with black fruits, mint and saline minerals, but soft enough to be absolutely delicious as a young wine. This is a serious wine of terroir - a very elegant Crozes that should be decanted if drunk now, best 2020 to 2030+.
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
"The Corps de Loup vineyard has not ceased to surprise us for the elegance and finesse of the wines it produces. It’s hard to imagine a more ethereal and delicate expression of Syrah than this 2014 Côte-Rotie. Don’t be fooled: if the subtleness of the tannins make it an approachable wine today, 10 to 15 years will bring it to new horizons of minerality and salinity. It might be like the wines of Albert Dervieux Theize, so tender in their youth that no one pays attention. But, as a recently drank 1985 proved, his Côte-Roties age remarkably. Aged 18 months in Burgundian barrels of 5 wines, total SO2 equals 25 mg/l at bottling. 12.5%. – 540 bottles and 12 magnums. " - Eric Texier
The 2014 Brézème from Eric Texier is a playful Syrah showing a nice balance between fruit and savory characteristics without being overbearing. The nose is a little tight upon opening but after an hour rich red berries and red raspberries peak out with orange zest, woody herbs and a touch of sweet spice. The palate is quite full with light but grippy tannins and serious acidity. Showing more peppery and earthy on the palate but driven by dark red fruit with a slight floral tone on the finish. Fresh but not delicate, this wine would pair well with shepherd's pie, lamb sausage, or chicken fried steak with plenty of gravy. Andy Paynter
"As with all our 2015 whites, Adèle is the polar opposite of what we expected from the vintage: bright, balanced, not heavy and with all the finesse of the Northern Rhône’s Clairettes. Native yeasts, aged in concrete vats, 30 mg/l of SO2 at bottling. – 4000 bottles." - Eric Texier. Tasted 10/12/16, the 2015 Adèle is a lovely and very versatile wine showing subtle aromas of almond, lime-flower, pear, citrus pith and stone. The palate is round and balanced with silky white fruits, citrus and stone with a hint of anise, with a long refreshing finish. Lovely wine - serve with anything from grilled fish to pork chops! DL
A blend of 50% Clairette and 50% Roussanne, fermented in stainless steel with native yeasts and has malolactic fermentation blocked, the 2013 Vieux Donjon displays the nervier side of Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc. The robe is a pale yellow, and with gold highlights. This nose is a bit subdued upon opening but blossoms to reveal lovely aromas of ripe white stone fruits, acacia honey, and candied lemon peel, with hints of stone and smoke. The mid-weight palate offers flavors of white peach, nectarine, toasted almond, and bergamot. There is nice acidity lending a sense of freshness, offsetting the supple texture. This is really pretty, though it benefits from decanting a for couple of hours to allow the aromatics to harmonize. Best served just below cellar temperature. John McIlwain
Resolutely old-fashioned in the best possible sense, Vieux Donjon makes Châteauneuf that harkens back to an era before super-cuvées, fancy cooperage, and points. The 2014 is comprised of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, Counoise, Clairette from old vines averaging over 70 years old. The wine has a ruby to violet robe, the nose is a melange of red and black fruits, eastern spices, garrigue, and tobacco aromas, blessedly free of notes of toasted oak or torrefaction. The mid-weight (for CDP) palate offers a complex blend of flavors ranging from wild strawberry, black cherry, five spice, and roasted game, girded by a spicy mineral foundation. This is generous and fresh, but has the structure for aging. Enjoy this with game, pot au feu, or for the adventurous crispy duck chow fun. John McIlwain
A tiny fraction of Vieux Donjon's organically farmed estate in Châtueaneuf-du-Pape is planted to stately white varieties Roussanne and Clairette, which combine for a supple, full-bodied, exotic, and languorous southern French white. Still quite young, fabulously spicy and round (especially compared to the more chiseled 2013), with aromas of yellow apple, wild flowers, kiwi, and fennel that lilt onto the shimmering palate of stone fruit, ripe pears, husk cherries, ginger root, white peppercorn, and crunchy mineral soil. The white wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are famously fascinating with age, but offer great pleasure in their youth, as unique pairings for silky seafood dishes, poultry, veal, and cheeses. Ariana Rolich