New Arrivals from the Rhône Valley: Clos du Joncuas, Dard and Ribo, Matthieu Dumarcher and Levet!

5/31/14 -

(Côte-Rotie in winter)

It's become more and more difficult to find "traditional" winemaking in the Rhône Valley, north or south, so we're very happy to re-introduce the wines of Clos du Joncuas to New York. This estate, which has farmed with organic methods since the early 1900s, is making some of the most authentic and delicious wines of the southern Rhône - as if they were the Domaine Gonon of Gigondas! Hand harvesting and wild-yeast, whole-cluster  fermentations, aging in vat and old barrels, bottling unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wines are strutured and complex and need time in bottle before drinking - they are held at the estate until somewhat ready. These are big wines which will benefit from decanting or further aging, and the rosé, by the way, is fantastic!

Another newcomer from the southern Rhône is the talented Matthieu Dumarcher who is making wonderfully elegant Grenache and Carignan based-wines in La Baume de Transit, northwest of Visan. Organic from his start in 2006 and certified since 2009. The winemaking here is very much in the "natural" style, with minimal extraction and very low SO2, about 20mg/L. These are more northern than southern rhone in style and are meant to be drunk relatively young at cellar temperature - perfect with grilled foods this summer!

Speaking of the Northern Rhône, we had the chance to taste through the 2012s from Dard and Ribo last winter and we were extremely impressed by the wines, especially the "regular" Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes "les Baties." Dard and Ribo have been quietly producing "natural" wines since 1984, sometimes with sometimes without SO2, mostly with whole-cluster fermentations and minimal extraction. "René-Jean Dard says that they're not looking to make great wines, their focus is to make wines that let themselves drink well, there's a Japanese word for that, he adds : Nomiyasui, which could be translated as drinkability" (quoted in Wineterroirs.) "Digeste" is perhaps the best word in French, but whatever it is, these 2012s have it, and will benefit from about five years of cellaring if you can resist drinking them.

Last but certainly not least, we've brought in a bit more of the superb 2007 Côte-Rotie "la Chavaroche" from Bernard Levet. This is a classic, very traditional wine that is beautiful now and will cellar wonderfully for another ten to fifteen years!

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