To Beautiful Le Havre in Search of Natural Wines!

3/26/2007 -

Our first tasting was with the affable, mustachioed Jo Landron, producer of pure, delicious organic and Biodynamic Muscadets.  Our favorite was the 2004 Fiefs du Breuil, a remarkably complex wine full of stone and citrus flavors that are just beginning to open up.  It should arrive at Chambers Street by June 1st.  At the next table were the organic Pouilly-Fuissés of Chateau des Rontets.  In an apellation often guilty of over-priced and over-oaked wines, the Rontets wines had lovely pure fruit and chalky minerality with great length.  The 2004 Clos Varambon and the remakable 2004 Cuvée Birbettes Vieilles Vignes have just arrived.        

Perhaps the greatest tasting of the two days was with Alice and Ollivier De Moor, from Chablis.  These young vignerons are making wines with a purity and mineral expression that is unique, subtle and exciting.  They havest by hand, yields are very low, and the aging is careful and without sufites.  The wines will age beautifully, and will benefit from carafing or many days of air if you open them now.  The beautiful 2005s are in stock, including Bourgogne Chitry, Sauvignon St Bris, Bourgogne Aligoté Plantation 1902 (105 year old vines!), Chablis Bel Air et Clardy and Chablis Rosette.

The energetic Joseph Binner, from Alsace, presented a great line-up of organic wines, with fresh, subtle fruit and citrusy minerality, my favorites being the 2004 Pinot Gris and the 2004 Gewurztraminer Kaepferkopf.  These two excellent values have just arrived.  Marc Angeli was at a table nearby, singing theme songs of the American Military (The caissons go rolling along...) and pouring his delicious 2005 Anjou La Lune, a great Chenin Blanc with floral quince, lemon and honey fruit.  Angeli is a leader in Biodynamic farming and winemaking and also a big Thelonious Monk fan.....

Marcel Richaud, one of the greatest winemakers in the Rhône Valley showed his elegant 2005 Cairanne, a dark wine with dense spice and blackberry fruit that will be outstanding with a few years of cellaring.  His 2004 Cairanne L'Ebrescade is truly "Grand Vin" with heavy spiced blackfruits and amazing length. Not cheap, but worth it... 

Thierry Puzelat, the bad boy of Touraine, was punched out by an off-duty gendarme in a Le Havre bar, but he still was there pouring his delicious natural wines, along with his less combative brother, Jean-Marie.  The 2005 La Guerrerie (Gamay and Malbec) was supple with lovely fruit and the 2005 KO Clos de la Roche was deeper with intense herbal black fruits.  The Puzelats continue to produce unique natural wines, made with a minimum of sulfur, or none at all.

Other great tastings included the Morgons of Jean Foillard, Jean Thevenet and Marcel Lapierre, the fabulous Burgundies of Claude Marechal, the lovely Touraine reds of Olivier Lemasson, the delicious Gamay and Grolleau from Domaine Sablonettes in Anjou, the Jasnières from Jean-Pierre Robinot and many, many more.... There were, of course, a few unsuccessful wines, usualy from growers wishing to bottle without sulfites, sometimes without sufficient elevage or racking to clean the wines.  We applaud their intent to preserve the pure, unadulterated fruit of the vine, but the results can be uneven, particularly if subjected to the rigors of export.  All in all, however, this was a great event featuring growers committed to the purest, most naturally made wines; wines which exist outside of the 100 point wine marketing world, which were presented with the enthusiasm, honesty and humor which are the essence of sharing good wine.

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