New Arrivals from the Ardeche

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In recent years, there's been a good amount of interest growing in France for wines from the Ardèche, and though people aren't flocking to Chambers Street and asking for the regions' wines by name, we thought it was about time to do a small piece for our readers.

The Ardèche is a region located just west of the Rhone Valley, and is named after the Ardèche River, which is a tributary of the Rhone. There are scenic valleys carved throughout the region, and a variety of soil types, from granite-based soils in the western part (ideal for Gamay) to limestone and sandstone further east and south. Varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Viognier are to be expected, but there are plantings of Chardonnay, Merlot, Gamay, Pinot Noir, and several other varieties not typically associated with the Rhone Valley. As the varieties are sometimes unexpected, the winemaking styles are as well. Ardèche winemakers are not pressured by stylistic demands from international markets, so the spirit of experimentation and originality is strong. There are a good percentage of winemakers who farm organically and biodynamically, and pursue a natural approach to vinification. Today we'll highlight a few of these winemakers, and we'll likely return to the topic throughout the year as more wines trickle in.

We also wanted to take a moment to introduce the project of our friend Daisy Merrick, who is leading a tour to the Ardeche this summer. Her project, called SOMA VINES, is centered on experiencing natural wine in a more personal way. Each year, a wine region is chosen and time is divided between visiting winemakers and experiencing the natural and cultural wonders of the area. Meals are sourced from local, organic ingredients, and a healthy lifestyle is cultivated through morning yoga, hikes, bike rides, and sightseeing walks. The planned winemakers this year are: Christophe and Helene Comte (Les Vigneaux), Sylvain Bock, Andrea Calek, Anders Frederik Steen, Gérald and Jocelyne Oustric (Domaine Mazel), Thomas and Jean Daniel Ozil (Domaine Ozil), and Gilles and Antonin Azzoni (Le Raisin et L'Ange). More info is available at https://www.somavines.com

Eben Lillie

 

Sylvain Bock NV Fruit de la Patience (Ardeche)

This is Chardonnay with no sulfites added, from Sylvain Bock, a winemaker who grew up in the Northern Rhone and developed his chops working at Domaine Mazel in the Ardèche. For a wine with no added SO2 and a "cooky" label, this really impressed me. I was expecting something a bit wacky, and instead was greeted with beautiful stone fruit aromas, and a mouthfeel that combined the richness and finesse of Chardonnay with its herbaceous and mineral side. Totally clean (even 8 hours later) and a great example of a natural wine that could fool the critics!  Eben Lillie


  • white
  • 4 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Calek, Andrea 2016 Ardeche VdF 'Blonde'

Blonde is a wine that Andréa Calek has produced for many years now. At times it's been bubbly, other times still. This time around, it's a still wine, made from Viognier. There's a delicate lemony note on the palette, with some herbs (cloves and allspice), and nice density. There's a subtle funky quality that floats around, but never settles into an actual fault or flaw. All in all a very balanced and enjoyable expression of a oft-underappreciated grape.  Eben Lillie

  • white
  • 10 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Domaine Ozil 2016 Ardeche "Gourmandise" (no SO2 added)

Thomas and Jean-Daniel are the team at Domaine Ozil. Brothers with a shared interest in producing honest, drinkable Ardèche wines, they have hit quite a stride in recent years. The "Gourmandise" is a perfect example. Primarily Grenache, with 30% Syrah and 5% Viognier, this is a joyful, tingly "glou-glou" wine. No sulfites added, it's clean, and ridiculously chug-able. Some may note a touch of volatile acidity as the wine opens up, but from my experience with many bottles, this blows off quickly. It may even help lift the spicy, brambly, crushed raspberry aromas. All in all, it's fun in a bottle, at a very reasonable price. Drink with a slight chill!  Eben Lillie

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $16.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur
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Anders Steen 2016 VDF Il Va Ca Va Je Vais Je Sais

Anders Frederick Steen is originally from Denmark, but found his way to the Ardèche many years ago. He first teamed up with Jean-Marc Brignot, a famed winemaker from the Jura, to make wines from grapes grown at Domaine Mazel. As the years went by and Steen realized he had formed a connection to the Ardèche, he decided to move there permanently with his family, and now makes wine on his own. Il va, ca va... is a blend of Carignan, Viognier and Chardonnay. The Carignan is destemmed and fermented with juice of the white grapes. It's something between a dark rosé and a really light red, is perfectly quaff-able, and just the right amount of funky! Enjoy with a slight chill.   Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur