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We're proud to once again offer the wines of Thomas Finot (arriving Tuesday 11/19) a young winemaker who, after experience in different regions of France, discovered abandonned vineyards in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan" (Isère) northeast of Grenoble, and is working to restore the vineyards and the region's potential. With great passion, he is reviving local varieties such as the white Verdesse and the reds Persan and Étraire de la Dhuy as well as working with the appellation's permitted grapes including Jacquère, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Thomas is committed to organic and biodynamic farming to best express the regions quality. The terroir is an ancient valley with soils of glacial stones and sands with limestone scree and clay and the daytime temperatures are among the highest in France, but with very cool nights. Domaine Finot is also producing a small quantity of superb Crozes-Hermitage from his grandfather's 1.8 hectare of vines on great sites in Larnage on both limestone and granite with white clay (kaolin) soils.
The estate also makes delicious everyday wines from varieties found in the area: Tracteur Rouge from Gamay and Pinot Noir with a bit of Persan and Cabernet and Tracteur Blanc, mostly from Jacquère, Chasselas and Chardonnay. The "Tractor" wines are deliciously different and refreshing and will accompany just about anything - our last shipment of Tractors sold out quickly, so don't delay...
Instrumental to the creation of Domaine Finot was the work of a vigneron named Daniel Zegna, who has been cultivating the traditional varieties of the Coteaux du Grésivaudan and has passed on some of his knowledge and some of his vines to Thomas. Étraire de la Dhuy (l'Adui) is a red grape, possible an offspring of Persan, discovered in the early 18th century, with only a few hectares remaining in 2008 (Wine Grapes). The 2017 Finot Étraire de la Dhuy is from a parcel of 70 year-old massale selection vines. The estate has planted additional vines with cuttings from this block. The 2016 Finot Persan is from massale selection plantings by Daniel Zegna in Bernin and Saint Ismier. Persan is a "Rare but high-quality Savoie variety" according to Wine Grapes, which appears in Piemonte as Bécuet where it is a blending grape. About 9 hectares are currently in production and Domaine Finot has made new plantings from the Zegna vines. Again according to Wine Grapes, (thank you Jancis, Julia and José) Verdesse originated in the Vallée du Grésivaudan, but production was down to 2 hectares in 2008. The Finot 2018 Verdesse, vinified dry, is from 2 parcels, one of young vines planted by Zegna and one of 60 year-old vines. And if you're craving some skin contact, you're sure to enjoy the 2017 Macération Cugnète, aka Jacquère (as well as Eben Lillie's new wine Bar "Skin Contact" opening soon at 76 Orchard Street!)
We had the chance to visit Thomas and his family in Bernin for a day. The visit went from his garage winery (pictured in the comic strip below), to his parcels which lie between the majestic Chartreuse mountains to the west and the Alps to the east (see photo above). For a relatively young winemaker, his grasp of the land, the soil types, and the health of his vines was impressive. He's a warm, humorous, and focused vigneron with a great future ahead of him!
Thomas Finot makes this refreshing "tractor white" from Chardonnay, Jacquère and Pinot Gris grown in the Coteaux Grésivaudan, northeast of Grenoble. This is a delightful everyday wine, featuring lovely aromas of pear, quince, almond, hay and brown spice. The palate is ripe but balanced and lively with bright acidity, showing flavors of pear, melon, almond, citrus and stone. Serve happily by itself or with fish in sauce, roast chicken, salads and mild cheeses. David Lillie
Thomas Finot produces this wine from Persan, a rare grape variety indigenous to the Isère, from a blend of massale selection old and young vines. Thomas has made his name in celebrating and resurrecting these local rarities. The high altitude, alpine climate lends this wine a beautiful acidic structure, and imbues it with notes of mint and alpine herbs. On the nose this is spicy, with bright red fruits intermingling with pepper and anise. The palate is bright and crunchy, with notes of cranberry, red currant and red raspberry and structure coming from the bright acidity and the delicate tannins. Underneath the notes of fruit is a beautiful, coolingly mineral core. This is a wine that I can easily imagine at the holiday table, especially with savory poultry or pork dishes. I would open this bottle about an hour before pouring. Ben Fletcher
Thomas Finot makes his "Vin de Macération Cugnète" from purchased fruit grown in Isère and on the Isère/Savoie border, thus Vin de France. The two-and-a-half month skin contact gives the wine a pale bronze color. The aromas are light and pretty - dried flowers, brown spice, citrus peel and white fruits. The palate shows creamy dried pear, mineral, brown spice, almond and citrus notes, quite subtle and with a clean, long finish without harsh skin tannins. This is a fascinating wine that will accompany shellfish, ceviche of many kinds, sushi, goat cheeses and much more. 11% alcohol. Lovely wine! David Lillie Extra facts: Thomas says that Cugnète is an ancient type of Jacquère. Maceration for the 2015 was two-and-a-half months, and aging was in big used barrels from 2005 and 2006. My guess is the maceration was more of a soaking, with little or no punch down or extraction, as the wine appears more like a white than an 'orange,' and only has a delicate and subtle amount of tannin in the back of the palate. -Eben Lillie
According to the hefty Wine Grapes book (Robinson/Harding/Vouillamoz), there were a total of about 2 hectares (5 acres) of Verdesse in the world as of 2008. Thomas Finot now says there is about 3-4 hectares total. Thomas started with an old plantation of about 2 ares (200 square meters, or .05 acres) and now has about 1.5 hectares, mostly of younger vines he planted. Verdesse is a grape that, according to Thomas, is green for a long time, and typically ripens late, gaining a golden and amber color at the "very last moment." The 2018 vintage Verdesse is a gorgeous wine of golden color, with a nose of green apple, hay, and ripe pear. I was blown away by the fresh acidity and plumpness on the palate. Driven by notes of pear, quince and almond, the wine develops over the evening into notes of minerals, brioche, dried apricot and spice. Ideally paired with curry, sushi, or shrimp tempura. A sublime wine of intensity and texture. Bravo, Thomas! John David Crosby
Thomas Finot, who is working with rare local varieties in Isère, also makes this vibrant Pinot Noir from organic grapes in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan northeast of Grenoble. The region is known for very warm days but very cool nights, producing reds that are ripe and sappy but possessing bright acidity and good balance. The 2017 is showing lovely notes on the nose of wild strawberries, cassis, licorice, and some spice. The palate is filled with wild strawberries, violets, crushed tart cherry, red flowers and fruit, and plum. With lovely acidity and good structure, this would go well with coq au vin, hearty soups, boeuf bourgignon or a nice creamy cheese (such as Soumaintrain.). JDC
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). The 2017 Crozes-Hermitage is a delicious Syrah showing pretty of blackberry liqueur, with hints of blueberry, floral and ripe. The palate is elegant with lush, but not over-ripe fruit, and perfectly balanced with red berry fruits and citrus notes in the refreshing finish. This is a stylish Crozes and a great value that will accompany a wide variety of pork and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool. David Lillie
Thomas Finot in the Coteaux Grésivaudan made the vibrant 2018 Tracteur Rouge from 35% Gamay, 35% Pinot noir, 20% Persan and 10% Merlot. The wine shows a lovely bright red color and pretty aromas of strawberry, raspberry and tart cherry with hints of violet, earth and spice. The palate is bright and slightly peppery, a bit more round and full than previous vintages, showing strawberry and red currant fruit with a nice lift of sappy berry fruits, earth and citrus in the finish. It's lovely, served quite cool, with charcuterie, burgers, chicken and cheeses from Comté to Raclette. David Lillie
Étraire de la Dhuy is a rare grape from the Vallé du Grésivaudan in the Isère, with only about 6 hectares currently in production. The 2016 Finot Étraire de la Dhuy is from a parcel of 70 year-old massale selection vines, only 12 btls were available for the US. (We have only tasted the 2015, which impressed us with subtle, earthy black fruits, quite sappy and ripe but with a bright, cool quality. The finish was long and elegant with mineral flavors and firm acidity.) AKA Étraire de l'Aduï. According to Wine Grapes "DNA parentage analysis suggests a parent-offspring relationship between Étraire de l'Aduï and Persan. Indeed, both varieties belong to the Sérine ampelographic group." (12 bottles available for the US)