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Sadly, this is our last offer of the wonderful natural wine made by Didier Michaud at Planquette, as M. Michaud is retiring and the estate is for sale. This is one of the most interesting and extraordinary wines of Bordeaux, regardless of price, a true wine of terroir made with exquisite care in a tiny 1.7 hectare organic garden. The blend is 48% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with 4% of Petit Verdot (massale selection from very old vines in Macao). The terroir is mostly stony clay and silica over the "Dome de Couquèques," a bed of limestone near the surface whch is quite unusual for the Medoc. The grapes are hand-harvested in small baskets (mostly by Didier and his wife) and undergo a long fermentation with wild yeasts, with no attempt to extract - "more of an infusion" says M. Michaud, followed by two years in old barriques. There are no additives or corrections - the finished wine is analyzed at approximately 2 mg/liter total SO2. Certified organic by Ecocert and labeled simply "Planquette" Vin de France as Didier stopped seeking the AOC Medoc in 2007. In his quest to produce true wines of terroir, Didier says that his fermentations proceed almost entirely with the yeasts present in the vineyard, as he strives to keep his cellar and barrels free of other yeast strains. We thank Didier Michaud for twenty+ years of inspiring work at Planquette and wish him well in his retirement.
(Due to delays at the port, we now expect arrival by May 5)
Some of the best values in the store are undoubtably the Bordeaux made by the Hubert family at Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours in Blaye and Chateau La Grolet in Bourg, on the right bank of the Gironde. The family acquired Peybonhomme-les-Tours in 1895 (classified in 1868 as "Premier Cru Bourgeois") and Jean-Luc and Catherine Hubert purchased Château La Grôlet in 1997, immediately converting the estate to Biodynamic farming as at Peybonhomme. Their son Guillaume Hubert re-joined the estate in 2007 and his sister Rachel arrived in 2012, assuring a continuation of style at these great estates and bringing new ideas, including cuvées without sulfur and aging in anfora. The Peybonhomme-les-Tours "Cru Bourgeois" at $16.95, made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec grown on classic clay/limestone terroir is certainly one of the greatest bargains in Bordeaux today.
Laurence Alias and Pascale Choime started their tiny Bordeaux estate, Les Closeries des Moussis, in 2008 - they practice organic and biodynamic farming and vinify naturally with zero or minimal SO2. They make an extraordinary Vin de France, "Baragane," from a .4 hectare parcel of 150 year-old pre-phylloxera vines in Cantenac and a beautiful Haut-Medoc (with zero SO2) from a small vineyard in Senejac. These are both superb natural Bordeaux - we have only a few bottles left...
The Dupuy family at Château Beauséjour in Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion has farmed with organic methods since 1935, finally becoming certified in 1995 by current owner Gerard Dupuy. The estate has 18 hectares of vineyard on the clay and limestone plateau of Saint Emilion planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. There is never chaptalization nor acidification and minimal or zero SO2 is used. A 48 hour cold soaking before a 2-3 week low temperature natural yeast fermentation is the house style. Our favorite wine from Beauséjour is a complex and fascinating 100% Cabernet Franc produced with zero added SO2, bottled unfined and unfiltered. "The nose is beautifully plummy, with smashed raspberries, cherry leaves, graphite, all-spice, and violets..." We urge you to try it!
Chateau La Grolet has been certified organic and Biodynamic since 2000. Double Guyot pruning, spontaneous winter grass cover. Soil tillage during the spring, every other row ploughed. Treatments combining small quantities of Bordeaux mixture with herbal teas such as horsetail or nettle. The blend is 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet-Franc, 5% Malbec. The Hubert family's great farming creates this sensational value Bordeaux which is truly a subtle, complex and profound wine. When young, it is dominated by red and black fruit aromas, then as the years pass, cocoa and mild tobacco notes combine with hints of spice and earth. Can be drunk young but is also a very good wine for laying down, recommended cellaring time: 5 - 10 years.
Didier Michaud works 1.7 hectares in the Medoc with 30 to 100 year-old vines on limestone with thin soils of clay with sand and stones. He has old vines of Merlot Queue Rouge and massale selection Cabernet Sauvignon, farmed organically with just a little compost and shallow plowing. Vinification with wild yeasts, no extraction and no added sulfur (total SO2 less than 2 mg/L). This is one of the most "natural" and deliciously old-fashioned wines of Bordeaux. The 2018 Planquette is considerably riper and more forward than usual, weighing in at 15% alcohol, but retaining it's normal vibrant character - it will be delicious as a young wine, although it will certainly cellar nicely as well. The 2018 shows very ripe cassis and blackberry aromas with licorice, violet, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is dense, deep and velvety, with black fruit liqueur, earth and mineral flavors. The mid-palate is elegant with a core of chalky black fruit and minerals that continues in the long finish. This is a beautiful Bordeaux of terroir, unfettered by additives, over-extraction or new oak, showing lovely flavors of fruit and earth and perfect balance despite the weight and ripeness of the vintage. Delicious now, but perhaps best 2025 to 2035+. Thank you, Didier Michaud! This superb and soulful wine is highly recommended and a great value. David Lillie
Biodynamic farming, native yeast fermentations, superb value – all phrases not typically associated with Bordeaux. Yet, each year the Hubert family provides us with just that in their staple cuvee from the Côte de Blaye. The Cru Bourgeois is a blend of mostly Merlot with Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Malbec. Generously aromatic owing to the limestone/clay soils in which it is grown, the 2018 offers crushed violets, cassis, and rhubarb on the nose. The palate shows the warm vintage with finesse. Cascades of ripe red fruit, black currant, and spice, with supple tannins and an undercurrent of chalky minerality. This is a great addition to the dinner table alongside grilled meat, roast chicken and stews or sipped on its own, drink over the next 5 to 8 years.
What a treat - a beautiful Haut-Médoc with zero added sulfur from certified organic and biodynamic farming! Pascale Choime and Laurence Alias of the Closeries des Moussis have a small parcel with sandy gravel soils (bordered by dense woods providing biodiversity) on the Plateau de Sénéjac, 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, where they produce this pure and vibrant Bordeaux. There is minimal extraction, aging is 16 months in old barrels. We tasted the 2018 last winter in Angers with Laurence - it showed lovely silky red and black fruits, with great purity and length, really an outstanding Haut-Medoc, unburdened by new oak and sulfur-dioxide. Quite delicious for current drinking or cellaring for ten - fifteen years. Highly recommended! David LIliie
The cuvé "Baragane" (named after a type of leek found in the vineyard) comes from approximately 150 year old pre-phylloxera vines located in Cantenac (Margaux) on silty-clay soils, a 0.4ha field blend with forgotten and unknown varieties. Yields rarely go above 10 hl/ha, the grapes are carefully destemmed to keep the berries intact, and transferred to the fermentation tank by gravity. After three weeks of maceration the wine goes into 3 year-old 225 ltr oak barrels for élevage during 15 months. 700 bottles were made, following a light filtration and less than 20mg/l of sulphur added.
One of my favorite bottles of Bordeaux. This 100% Cabernet Franc is made using zero sulfur, from vines that are tended under strict organic measures. The Dupuy family have been farming the same land since 1934, and have done an amazing job creating terrior-driven reds from their healthy grapes. This 2018 dark purple in the glass. The nose is beautifully plummy, with smashed raspberries, cherry leaves, graphite, all-spice, and violets. Flavors range from of blackberries, cranberries, pine, mint, and espresso. Graced by a dynamic level of clean acidity and formidable tannin. An absolute must for any lover of Cabernet Franc, especially if they enjoy examples from the Loire Valley. David Hatzopoulos