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We're happy to feature new arrivals from Lise and Bertrand Jousset, two of the nicest vignerons we have ever met, who make beautiful wines of nature from their 11 hectares in and around Montlouis-sur-Loir. Primarily working with Chenin Blanc in Montlouis, they also grow Gamay, Grolleau and Chardonnay on parcels in Touraine.The vines are between 30 and 130 years old, with even some franc de pieds! Their approach is simple: "We want to make wines that express their character and their origins - in other words 'living wines.' For this we need living soils with great microbial activity and living vineyards with a balanced animal and vegetal life in our parcels."
Featured today are five Chenins from Montlouis-sur-Loire, including the rare and beautiful 2017 "Singulier - Clos aux Renards" from old vines in clay soils called "Aubuis" over Turonian limestone, certainly one of the most elegant Chenins of the Loire. Tasted in January 2020, the 2018 "Trait d'Union" was particularly delicious, with great length and minerality and is the only wine that is off-dry at about 28 gr/l RS.
And now for an orange wine - the 2018 "Chenin de Maceration!" Chenin Blanc grapes from 50 year-old vines on clay/silex soils were de-stemmed, macerated for ten months, followed by six months in old barrels, and bottled without SO2. Extremely complex but less tannic than most orange wines...only 24 btls. The Jousset's's wines all possess a wonderful purity and vivacity due to the character transmitted through the living soils of their vineyards and to the precise, hand-off vinifications with minimal added sulfur. Lise and Bertrand have a wonderful attitude and sense of humor towards their wines and their role as winemakers - "As a glass with friends or a companion at table, wine is meant to be drunk and shared - it's up to us to make wines for these moments." We urge you to try their delightful wines!
Heading west through Touraine, to the Land of Cabernet Franc, we encounter new shipments from our friends Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil and Patrick Lambert in Chinon. These two wonderful vignerons quietly produce superb wines, with great modesty and pride in their work, bringing us joyful everyday wines as well as "serious" wines capable of aging beautfully for 20 to 30 years!
For those who have missed our dozen or so emails about Stéphane here is the full story. And here is Stéphane about the 2018 vintage: "The wine benefited from a damp climate in the spring and early summer, then sunshine through the summer and fall without excessive heat or hydric stress. We have then a wine from beautifully mature grapes giving superb aromas of very ripe black fruit confit with a savory mineral character on the palate, accompanied and enveloped by firm, ripe tannins with wonderful length, giving a very balanced wine and promising long cellaring. For me a magnificent vintage that I will want to revisit frequently!" Happily, we have reserved a good quantity of this wine which will be immensely enjoyable over the next few years, and grab some 2014 or 2017 "Cuveé Deux Monts" for drinking in 20 - 30 years as well!
We once asked Matthieu and Bernard Baudry about their favorite growers in Chinon (we always need more Chinon!) and they immediately suggested their friend Patrick Lambert, whose domaine is around the corner from their own, on the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. The Patrick Lambert estate (as opposed to Pascal Lambert) dates back to 1990, but was restructured in 2005, as Patrick "downsized" to 6 hectares of the best terroirs. The soils are plowed or left with grasses, according to the parcels and the estate is certified organic by Ecocert. Vinifications are traditional with wild yeasts and the wines age either in vat or in small old barrels in his cold cellar cut into the limestone hillside. Patrick has just sent us his two "drink young" cuvees from 2019 - "Gourmandises" and "Les Deuzelles," both of which are incredibly delicious and should be consumed without moderation over the next couple of years! For something a bit more "serious," the 2016 "Vieilles Vignes" has just arrived - from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay over limestone, this classic Chinon can be enjoyed now or cellared for ten years or more. Many of you have come to appreciate Patrick's lovely Chinon Rosé, made very much in the style of his neighbors, the Baudrys - we just received ten cases of the 2019, fresh from the Lambert cellar - the wine is just delicious and will drink beautifully through 2021!
All wines are in stock with additional inventory arriving week of March 8th.
This is a Chenin Blanc that makes me picture spring meadows. Lise and Bertrand Jousset have created this wine from two organically farmed terroirs in Montlouis sur Loire - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils. "Premier Rendez-vous," which translates to 'the first encounter,' is all about freshness and vibrancy. The nose shows notes of ripe cantaloupe, yellow peach, and budding flowers, and the palate has a beautiful texture and acidity brought on by the limestone and silex soils. The Joussets prefer to use as little sulfur as possible and have aged this wine in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels, giving this energetic wine slightly softened edges. Michelle DeWyngaert
Lise & Bertrand's 'Version Longue' is sourced from the same two terroirs in Montlouis as the Chenin Blanc for their regular 1er Rendez-Vous but with an extra year of elevage in large used barrels. Vines are a mix of 40 and 70 years old; soils are a combination of sand, silex, and clay over limestone. The 2017 is very bright and mineral, with persistent fruits of dried calimyrna figs, husky green pear skin, wildflower honey, and ripe Meyer lemon throughout. The palate is just off-dry with a high and persistent acidity that keeps the wine feeling fresh and supple into a lengthy finish. Harmonious and elegant now, this will develop deliciously in the cellar for another 10 years.
The 2017 "Singulier - Clos aux Renards" is a brilliant dry Montlouis and certainly one of the finest dry Chenins of the Loire, made from 60 to 80 year-old Chenin vines on clay soils called "Aubuis" over Turonian limestone. All cellar functions are by gravity without pumping, fermentation is in two and three year-old 400 and 600 liter barrels. (The Joussets have banned all mechanization from this beautiful vineyard since 2015 - only people, horses and wheelbarrows allowed!) Best if decanted two hours in advance, the wine shows complex mineral infused aromas of citrus, pear, lime-flower and honey. The palate is lean and mineral with white fruits, racy citrus flavors and fresh herbs framed in saline acids. Serve this crystalline Montlouis with shellfish, scallops, foie gras, chicken with cream sauce and aged cheeses.
The 2018 Trait d'Union is a wonderful demi-sec Chenin from our friends Lise and Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis. The vines are 60 to 80 years old, on sand and silex soils over limestone giving yields of 20 to 25 hl/ha. Wild yeast fermentation, aging in 1 to 8 year-old barriques. The wine is a lovely pale gold/bronze color with aromas of earth, lemon, honey, brown spice, lime-flower and ripe pear. The palate is round, ripe and delicate with saline mineral flavors blending with lemon compote, white fruits and stone. Dense but light on its feet, this is a beautiful accompaniment to fois gras or pâtés, scallops, veal stew and goat cheeses.
The Lise and Betrand Jousset 2018 Menu Pineau (aka Arbois or Orbois) is a balanced and beautiful expession of this unusual grape, complete with enigmatic label by Michel Tolmer. A probable native of the Loire, similar to Meslier according to some and sharing some characteristics with Savagnin, the grape has generally low acidity but quite distinctive sharp aromas and flavors of bitter citrus, dried herbs, caramel, dried white fruits and white flowers. The Jousset's 2018 version is not a maceration as in 2017, but a more straightforward expression of the grape as noted above with a hint of oxidation and a long stony, citrusy finish. Great with halibut with garlic and dill, perfect with a grilled fish or spicy ceviche. David Lillie
Simply put, the Jousset's 2018 "Bubulle" is top-shelf Pét-Nat for a picnic-friendly price. From organically farmed Chenin vines (45 years of age on average) in Montlouis-sur-Loire in soils of sand and silex over limestone. All cellar operations are by gravity, without pumping, the fermentation is in 3 to 6 year-old barriques of 225 and 400 liters. The wine is vibrant straw yellow and adorned with a fine mousse. The nose reveals aromas of ripe pear, Granny Smith, lime flower, creamy lemon with heather honey and stone. A finely chiseled palate is rich and elegant with hints of dried pear, apple and anise over a core of saline minerals with terrific length. This is a thirst-quenching Pet-Nat, made without sulfur, that happens to be a serious and elegant wine!
This lovely Petillant Naturel is made from purchased, organically-grown fruit. It's 100% Gamay from 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils and 100% dry, delicate and delicious, with a little extra density in 2019, showing subtle aromas of raspberry, strawberry, rose and citrus. The palate is light and creamy with subtle red fruits, citrus and mineral flavors that continue in the long, clean finish. Really delightful and very affordable, too - thanks to Lise and Bertrand Jousset!
The 2019 "Gourmandise" is a beautiful "drink young" cuvée from Patrick Lambert, made from Cabernet Franc vines grown on sandy gravel soils near the Vienne. The wine shows a bright black/red color with lush high-toned aromas of crushed strawberry and black raspberry, with hints of citrus and pepper. The palate is supple and bright with luscious black raspberry and red currant fruit, quite lush and full-bodied in this superb vintage for the Loire, light but deep and long with hints of bitter chocolate and cocoa, but still with refreshing acidity. Serve this lovely wine quite cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken, pork or burgers, it's a perfect quaffing Cab Franc to drink over the next 2 years - and a fabulous value! David Lillie
The wines of Patrick Lambert have been a staple in our shop for some time now. His wines are classic, expressive, and made exclusively from his organically farmed estate. The 'Deuzelles' is selected from his ~25 year old vines planted on gravel, clay with silex, and sandy soils. The juice is fermented in concrete vats for 15-18 days, then aged in old barriques for 3 to 6 months. This is one of the best values I can find for excellent Cabernet Franc. This bottling is denser and more concentrated than the 'Gourmandises' but just as pleasurable and easy-drinking. The nose has notes of blackberry and raspberry bramble, freshly turned soil, and savory herbs, and the on the palate the wine is juicy with supple tannins. This was lovely when I tasted it on day one, and even better on day two, so if you have the time, give this some air before you enjoy! Michelle DeWyngaert
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate shows earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate with firm citrusy acids. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will accompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And it's a fabulous value! DL
This delightful Chinon Rosé comes from Patrick Lambert's 6 hectares of organic vines in Cravant, around the corner from his friend and mentor, Bernard Baudry. Hand harvested from 20+ year-old Cabernet Franc vines on gravel and sandy clay soils over limestone. The 2019 is just delightful, showing a very light pale pink color and lovely aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, raspberry, citrus and rose; the palate is ripe and pretty with raspberry, citrus and stone flavors with nice density and texture, a bit dryer and lighter than the 2018, with juicy acids, berry flavors and minerals in the finish. This is drinking beautifully now and will open up nicely through the spring and summer and will be quite delicious through 2021. (March 2021 - this is yummy new inventory just arrived from Patrick's cellar) This is a fabulous value and highly recommended! David Lillie
From 15 to 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils in Bourgueil, in organic agriculture since 1965. This is always one of the best values in the store and the 2018 happily rivals the 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 vintages for absolute awesomeness, even at the Trump Tariff price of $15.49! Beautiful red/black color. Lovely deep pure red currant and blackberry aromas with violets, pepper, earth, bitter chocolate, licorice and leafy notes. The palate is round and supple with deep berry fruits framed in firm chalky acids, earth flavors, cocoa and saline minerals. Terrific length - this is just a superb young Bourgueil! At 13% alcohol it's beautifully structured and delicious to drink now, and will be even better in 5 to 10 years. Thanks to the Guion family for two generations of organic farming and great wines at modest prices! Serve cool with chicken, pork, charcuterie and full-flavored fish dishes as well...
(Arrives 7/26) 2018 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 45 years old on thin topsoils of sandy clay over limestone (tuffau jaune) in Benais, a terroir that produces some of the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 2018 is a great vintage for Loire reds, despite the very warm and humid spring that brought attacks of mildew. The summer was perfect, warm and dry, without spikes of heat, and the soils retained enough moisture to bring freshness to the very ripe grapes. Tasted with Stéphane in February 2020, the 2018 Prestige showed elegant intensely perfumed aromas of red and black fruit liqueurs. The palate was complex and earthy, very calcaire, dense but not heavy with beautifully supple ripe red and black fruits, with a long finish of saline and mineral flavors quite present below the sappy fruit. We look forward to a more thorough tasting after the wine rests from its voyage, but it's quite clear that this will be delicious to drink as a young wine, and - although it may seem crazy to cellar a $17 wine for 20 to 30 years - those that do will be rewarded with a unique expression of this great terroir. I'm hoping to live to be 100 to have that experience myself! David Lillie
(Arrives 7/26) Our review from July 2020: Of course we love the great Cabernet Franc rosés from the Loire and a special favorite of ours is the vibrant Bourgueil from Stéphane Guion in Benais. Organic since 1964, the estate produces superb wines on the limestone/clay soils, and this year's rosé is perhaps his best ever! The color is a lovely pale pink and the raspberry and red currant fruit is supple, complex and refreshing, remaining light but with lovely complex fruit, herbal notes and a particularly long and focused finish with firm acidity. It's an amazing value at $14.99, and will drink beautifully for many more years, case purchases are recommended!
(Last 60 btls of the 2014, arrives 7/26) From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils and 2014 is a particularly good vintage for Loire reds to age. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
From 70-year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18-month élevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Our first taste of the 2017 "Deux Monts" revealed it to be a superb wine, quite deep and ripe but still light on its feet and with a particularly long and focused finish. Says Stéphane "the weather in 2017 was quite warm in spring and summer with a bit of rain in september - the wine is quite floral with ripe red fruits and mineral flavors on the palate with round, supple tannins and the limestone terroir quite present in the finish." It's a beautiful wine showing the old vines and great terroir...