"New arrivals" from Jean-Christophe Garnier... what, it's only been 8 years!

From our archaic Point of Sale program (that we only stopped using 2 months ago!), it looks like the last time we sold Jean-Christophe Garnier's wines was in 2016. I always enjoyed his wines, and never fail to grab a bottle when I see one in France. Here at Chambers Street Wines, his name rarely comes up - the wines were in short supply and only paid attention by a small community of Loire Valley natural wine-nerds. Though I don't often mention his name, when a customer asks for a cool oxidative wine, I invariably tell them about one of the most fascinating and delicious oxidative wines I've ever had, Garnier's 2005 Bezignon Sous-Voile. From two barrels of Chenin Blanc that Jean-Christophe aged for 5 years without topping up (and with no added sulfites!), it had Fino-sherry aromas which deepened with time into more Chenin-like white fruits, citrus and caramel notes. A few of us remember this wine, and by a few I mean probably three people if you exclude former and current Chambers Street Wines staff. I will offer a prize to anyone who can remember where they were when they drank a bottle of this wine!

Enough reminiscing! We present to you today new wines from Jean-Christophe Garnier! The fine folks at Louis/Dressner/McKenna have brought in some cases (with more on the way, we're told!) and whether you're glossy-eyed with nostalgia or you're curious about this previously unknown producer, today is your day! The reds are low-alcohol, carbonic style, infusion, ready for a chill, and also the prices (!) - they indeed make us nostalgic for the good old days when all Loire wines were under $20 (ok these are just over $20, but still...). The whites are what Garnier is best known for, and fetch a higher penny, but are worth every one. We're not sure if he still presses his Chenin grapes in an old apple-press, but all the info online still describes his prevalence for long pressing of Chenin - often across 2-3 days - with his basket press, which is probably one and the same. Though his top Chenins are not as oxidative as his sous-voile wine was, they will certainly entice your senses with subtle oxidative notes, and soothe your palate with their smoothness and density. They are important in the conversation about Chenin Blanc generally, and the Anjou appellation specifically.

Jean-Christophe Garnier is from Brittany (Bretagne) originally, and got his start in the wine world as a sommelier in France. During his time as a somm in the 1990s, he was exposed to wines made with minimal intervention, loosely called "vins naturels" by a small but growing group of vignerons (folks who spend their lives involved in all stages of winemaking, from pruning, growing, and harvest, through vinification and aging, etc.). These wines thoroughly impressed Garnier over the years, and he made the decision to devote his time to learning how to make wine after about 10 years in restaurants.

Garnier went to wine school in Thouarcé, a small town near Angers in the Loire Valley, and pursued a diploma which involved an internship (or "stage") with a winery in the area. He spent 6 months at La Ferme de la Sansonnière working alongside Marc Angeli, and shortly afterwards he started his own project in 2002, in the town of Saint-Lambert du Lattay, close to the Mosse family. Marc even helped Jean-Christophe by giving him an old press (I wonder if it's the same one he still uses!) and helping him to find a vineyard to work. From his start with 2.3 hectares, he now farms about 10 hectares in total, planted primarily to Chenin Blanc, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay and Pineau D'Aunis. All farming is certified organic, with some bio-dynamic treatments, and winemaking is obviously with native yeast, and with very little or no added SO2 added.

-Eben Lillie



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