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It's a sad and bizarre situation that American consumers and many of our favorite winemakers - producers of superb, reasonably-priced organic/biodynamic and natural wines - are being punished for the twisted trade subsidies that keep aircraft manufacturers from crashing, both in the EU and America. The 25% tariffs that went into effect on October 18th on French, Spanish and German wines are working their way through the import and distribution chains as existing stocks are depleted and new shipments arrive. Importers are struggling as they have been forced to pay the tarifs on arrival but could not pass the increase through to their customers (that's us - and you) until December 1st due to NYS pricing rules. Anyway it's a big mess and a huge problem for our importer friends, as retailers making large purchases in November forced importers, some of whom work on small margins, to foot the bill.
And of course the tariffs apply only to wines that are 14% alcohol or less - an old definition of "table wine" - which is nice for growers in Châteaneuf-du-Pape, but not so nice for our friends in the Loire and Burgundy. The list below includes a few of our favorite wines whose prices will be going up during the months of December and January, hopefully in a way that fairly absorbs these ridiculous tariffs, between the importer, distributor, retailer and consumer. And please write, call, email and text your elected representatives and urge them to call on our government (?) to rescind the tariffs!!
The grapes for this new cuvée from Francois Pinon (first made in 2014) used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2018 it's fabulously ripe, dense and complex, and finished dry (for Vouvray) in 2018, with a technically sec level of 8 grams RS and 4.7 grams acidity. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very supple and ripe, saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great Vouvray with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully! Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
(Please note - This is the very last inventory of 2018 "La Pépie" - The 2019 has arrived will be available as well. Tasted last January, it showed a bit more expessive and floral aromas than the 18 and a slightly fuller palate, a different but equally lovely wine and great value!) Domaine de la Pépière 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie "La Pépie" is now from the second bottling, with grapes from older vines that were picked later - the wine is denser with more minerality and acidity than the first bottling - really a delicious and well-structured Muscadet. Don't delay in grabbing a case or two before it disappears...!
(Please note - This is the very last inventory of 2018 "La Pépie" - The 2019 has arrived will be available as well. Tasted last January, it showed a bit more expessive and floral aromas than the 18 and a slightly fuller palate, a different but equally lovely wine and great value!)
Domaine de la Pépière 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie "La Pépie" is now from the second bottling, with grapes from older vines that were picked later - the wine is denser with more minerality and acidity than the first bottling - really a delicious and well-structured Muscadet. Don't delay in grabbing a case or two before it disappears...!
This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons is a great parcel on gneiss, in layers that permit a deep penetration by the vines, with sandy clay and amphibolite stones. The vines are at the top of a hill and on the south-facing slope overlooking the Maine. (The name, by the way, does not refer to fat sheep, but rather in local dialect, to the hilltop vineyard site.) This terroir produces lovely, classic Muscadet to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. The 2018 Gras Moutons is a sensational Muscadet showing a pale bronze color and beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with hints of anise, stone and almond; The palate is very dense and mineral with ripe pear and white peach, quite supple and ripe but framed in firm acidity. The finish is long and dense with white fruits, citrus and an almost bitter mineral aspect - this will pair beautifully with a full-flavored fish or chicken dish. Five to eight years of aging will bring out the complexity of this lovely wine. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
(Will be 30.99) Our friends Francois and Julien Pinon produce sensational Vouvray at their estate in Vallée du Cousse and the 2017 Silex Noir is another superb example. From approximatley 40 year-old vines on soils of clay and flint over limestone in the vineyards of Terné and Batailleries. The wine shows beautiful aromas of pear, green apple, honeysuckle, almond, lemon, kiwi and stone. The palate is lemony and tart, but also ripe and complex with flavors of pear and peach, tea, toasted almond and saline minerals. A bit of residual sugar brings out all the best in this lovely Chenin Blanc, which is a delicous combination of ripeness and firm tart acidity. Delicious now - decant a few hours in advance if possible - or cellar 20 to 30 years. Serve with rilletes and rillons, fish in sauce, lobster, langoustines and scallops, chicken in cream sauce, too... David Lillie
A beautiful Vouvray Sec from our friends Julien and François Pinon, which rarely makes its way to the US. The 2018 is a bit riper than usual at 9 grams/liter RS, with bright aromas of lemon zest, stone, quince and honeysuckle. There is very firm acidity on the palate with citrus, stone, pine, earth and bitter almond with terrific structure and length. This should ideally be decanted or opened in advance if drinking now, and will be lovely in 10 years, or 20 years... David Lillie