Private Collection: France

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Lapalu 2017 Brouilly La Croix des Rameaux

From vines averaging 70 years of age in the lieu-dit "La Croix des Rameaux" on a steep south-west facing slope with various degradations of granite. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2017 La Croix des Rameaux shows a bright red-black color, with meaty aromas of ripe blackberry and earth with a bit of violet and black cherry. The palate is dense and a bit closed, showing deep black fruits with hints of citrus, earth and bitter chocolate, very textured and long. Certainly an impressive wine and well balanced at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. Drink over the next 5 - 8 years.

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  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur
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Bonnefond 2017 Côte-Rôtie Cote Roziers

Patrick and Christophe Bonnefond make very pure, concentrated wines (both Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie) with the top cuvées, Rochains and Côte Rosiers, both adjoining La Landonne on either side, built for long aging. "very dark red, black centre to the robe. Smoked bacon, cordite, lines of shiny blackcurrant fruits show on the nose, which has a pure strength. There is good immediate thrust on the palate, which goes directly, has rich appeal. There is slight grilling, and a firm, packed foundation. It lengthens solidly. This is masculine,  is a promising, well charged Rôtie."  (drinkrhone.com) Enjoy until 2035 - 2040.

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Bouland, Daniel 2017 Morgon Delys Vieilles Vignes

Daniel Bouland is a great producer of old-fashioned Morgon.  From less than 7 hectares of old vines in the Douby, Côte de Py, and Delys, lieux of Morgon, plus small parcels in Chiroubles and Cote de Brouilly, he makes wines that can age 20 years, and are comparable to fine Côte de Nuits Burgundies.  De Lys (between Corcellette and Ville Morgon) was planted in 1926, on sandy granite soils.  All his grapes are hand-harvested and vinified with full clusters in order to extract all the organoleptic qualities, and bottled unfiltered. The 2017 is drinking beautifully, but cellaring of 5 to 8 more years would be very interesting.

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Descombes, Georges 2014 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes

The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are always among our favorite Beaujolais, and we're very happy to finally have the lovely 2014s in the store! A difficult growing season that was saved by good weather at the end of summer, 2014 produced beautifully balanced and very expressive wines in Beaujolais. The Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows floral, spiced strawberry and blackberry fruit, with hints of graphite, earth and citrus. Bright plum, strawberry and black fruits on the palate with rose and citrus, textured and mineral with nice length of berry fruits, bright acidity and earth in the finish. This is a lovely, beautifully balanced Chiroubles, at 12.5% alcohol, that is delicious now, best perhaps 2020 - 2025. DL

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Descombes, Georges 2015 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes

The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are among the very finest Beaujolais produced, and despite the added ripeness in 2015, the wines are oustanding both for current drinking and for aging 10 to 15 years. The 2015 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows ripe black raspberry and blackberry aromas with spice, violet, rose, earth and citrus, quite deep and complex. The palate has a deep, supple, grainy texure and lush black raspberry liqueur that coats the palate. The finish is long with elegant fruit liqueur and firm acidity. Enjoy with a grilled steak this summer, but put some away for future enjoyment as well.  David Lillie

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Descombes, Georges 2015 Regnié Vieilles Vignes

The Georges Descombes Regnié VV is a big, beautiful Gamay in this vintage known for ripe, full-bodied wines. The wine shows a deep red/black color and very floral aromas of ripe blackberry and red currant with hints of black cherry, earth and chocolate. The palate is deep and silky with surprisingly bright red currant and black cherry fruit liqueur, meaty and earthy, with a nice mineral kick in the long, lush finish.  Serve this delicious Regnié with a steak or grilled meats and put a few in the basement for five to ten years. David Lillie

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Descombes, Georges 2016 Saint-Amour Vieilles Vignes

Georges Descombes lost a great deal of his crop to frost in 2016, but was able to find grapes to his liking in Saint-Amour for this unique Vieilles Vignes cuvée. The wine shows beautiful aromatics of ripe black raspberry, black cherry and plum with rose and violet and hints of citrus. The palate is supple and sappy with earthy black raspberry and red currant fruit, with a lovely texture and firm saline acidity and stone flavors in the finish. While the wine is quite delicious now, two to five years of aging will bring a softer and more complex expression. Lovely wine. David Lillie

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Baudry 2018 Chinon Cuvée Domaine

The Baudry "Cuvee Domaine" is near and dear to my heart, and not just because of the modest price. 75% of the blend is from a parcel in Saint-Louans, a spot where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, and which has been the source of some of my favorite Chinons, such as the legendary Clos du Parc de Saint-Louans of Louis Farou. 25%  of the blend is from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. This is a great combination, making the wine enjoyable to drink young but with the structure and minerality of the more "serious" terroir. The 2017, for example is delicious to drink now, the 2010 is really singing and the 1989... if you can find one, let me know. The 2018 Domaine is a bit unusual in that the fermentation finished with 1.7 gr/liter of residual sugar, still a dry wine but forcing them to filter, which the Baudrys never do. At any rate, the wine is sensational - floral and elegant with aromas of black raspberry liqueur; the palate shows high-toned ripe black fruits, with violet and stone and a very long ripe finish. Enjoy in its exuberant youth or hold for ten years and more as the terroir shines through.  David Lillie

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Grange Tiphaine 2018 Montlouis-sur-Loire Clef de Sol Blanc

Clef de Sol means treble clef and is a tribute to music, Damien being an accomplished clarinetist and Coralie a choir singer. Clef de Sol is a blend of different southern exposed plots located in Montlouis on sandy perruches, i.e. clay and flint over tuffeau. The vines are mostly 80 years old, and farmed biodynamically. Hand-harvested mid-september, the grapes are sorted in the vineyard and the cellar, whole-cluster pressed, then fermented in barrels (225 and 400 l) in the underground cellar. Fermentations are spontaneous and malo occurs, without making the wine lose its tension. The wine is aged for a year on the fine lees, and lightly filtered with a sulfur dioxide adjustment. Clef de Sol is without a doubt a benchmark wine for Montlouis, in the line of François Chidaine’s Les Bournais but drier, with more density and less oak than Jacky Blot’s cuvées. 2018 is a superb, powerful expression of the wine, yet the weight is really well balanced by the chalky acidity. Think Savennières meets Brézé, with specific smoky notes coming from the Montlouis flint. Aromatically, this Chenin shows more its floral side, with a lot of lemon-verbena and linden, quinine, peach pit and salt. The oak is very well balanced, with just a hint of white tobacco. The finish is really impressive. I would recommend to cellar this bottle for a year or two before drinking (at least, it will also be great in 15 years). If you open it today, serve it a Burgundy glass not too cold. Pair it with grilled crayfish with tarragon butter, artichokes barigoule or mild blue cheese. 100% Chenin. Pascaline Lepeltier.

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Pépière 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Les Gras Moutons

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

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Domaine des Amphores 2016 Saint-Joseph Les Mesanges

"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from 40 to 50 year-old organic Syrah vines on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of Pecher and Vauturerie at Chavanay, 60-70% destemmed, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels. The 2016 Les Mesanges is a more elegant and earthy wine of terroir than the fleshier 2015, showing aromas of black raspberry, earth, a bit of blueberry, Italian plum and rose.  The palate has an earthy texture with red currant and black raspberry fruit framed in firm acidity and saline minerals. Not a fruit bomb, but showing the Biodynamic farming in its elegant minerality. Open well in advance or wait 2 - 3 years then drink until 2032.  David Lillie

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  • Organic
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Beaucastel 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Château de Beaucastel remains one of the few Châteauneuf estates with a high percentage of Mourvedre, the current blend being 30% Mourvedre and 30% Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise and all other permitted varieties. The estate has been organic since the 1950s and biodynamic since 1979. The 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a lovely wine that will drink beautifully over the next 20 to 25 years, showing a solid red/black color and aromas of chalky blackberry, plum and red currant. The palate is lush and full with intriguing black fruit, earth, garrigue and mineral flavors which should develop nicely over the years, and is lifted by cool, earthy acidity with hints of game and citrus. Superb wine. (Note: Those who have tasted the 2016 Beaucastel report that it's a dense and sappy wine, perhaps more built for long-term aging, while the 2015 may be more enjoyable while relatively young.)

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Clos des Papes 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

From Drink Rhône "...dark red colour. Has a spiced, ripely fruited nose, blackberry and blueberry together, pockets of mystery, scope, oiliness. The spice is provided by the Mourvèdre. The palate is unctuous, beau, holds very good inside mass, well packed and thorough. There are flecks of flowers, rose hip, sweet touches; it’s rich with spice and sustained length. There is good sève (sap) in this. It’s very long. “What pleases me is the profound nature – it is long and deep,” Vincent Avril. Drink until 2050

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  • Organic

Clos du Joncuas 2010 Gigondas

80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. This is a dense, old-school Gigondas that needs time. Dark purple/black color, deep blackberry aromas with earth, brown spice, prune and licorice. The palate is deep and dense with blackberry, garrigue, earth and mineral flavors framed in firm tannins and acidity  Long finish of earthy minerals and black fruits. (April 2015)  Tasted in January 2017 at the estate, the wine showed fabulous aromas of berry liqueur, earth, mint, garrigue and licorice; the palate was beautifully structured, deep, elegant and balanced with firm acidity and a great finish. Ten years from maturity but beautiful now with a steak if you can't wait... Bravo to the Chastan family for continuing to make wines like this!

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Dard & Ribo 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Les Bâties

From old vines in the vineyard of the same name in Larnage, on granite with clay and rolled stones. Whole-cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels, about 150 cases made.

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Dard & Ribo 2016 Crozes-Hermitage Les Bâties

Made from 1940s-late 1980s Syrah grown  on southeast facing red clay and rolled stone soils at Les Bâties at Larnage. Mostly whole bunch fermentation, pumping overs, raised in used oak casks for 10 months, unfined, unfiltered.

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Levet 2017 Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche

100% Syrah, 60% from Chavaroche (1940s), 40% from Mollard, Côte brune, Côte Blonde (1978-80), whole bunch fermentation, 3 week vinification in 50 hl concrete vats, cap is immersed, twice daily pumping overs, held at 29°C aged 30% new, 70% used oak casks, barrels 24 months.From Importer Neal Rosenthal: "The crown jewel of the Levet family’s holdings is a 1.2-hectare parcel of old vines at the very summit of the great La Chavaroche vineyard, and the wine they summon from this dizzying slope is among the most iconic in our entire portfolio. Always arrestingly wild, “La Chavaroche” possesses an unmistakable musk: a warm-animal profile that feels somehow ancient and unknowable, a sort of profound riddle of terroir." Drink over the next 20 to 30 years.

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Michel, Robert 2005 Cornas Cuvée des Coteaux

(Mostly from 30 year-old vines on Chaillot, partially de-stemmed, aged in old 228 and 600 liter barrels) Solid brick/red color. Needs decanting or time open, then subtle aromas of blackberry, prune, brown spice and musk with dusty stone. The palate is soft and balanced, but with good acidity and freshness, showing pretty red fruits with hints of tea, orange and spice. A more delicate, subtle wine than La Geynale that should improve nicely as secondary aromas and flavors develop, perhaps best 2016 to 2021. DL

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Michel, Robert 2006 Cornas La Geynale

Based mostly from vines in the La Geynale parcel on Reynards planted in 1910. Still youthful brick red/black; lovely cherry, tart berry and blood orange fruit with violet, pepper, musk and stone. Citrusy acids on the palate, not at all heavy, with smoky floral red fruits, earth and stone with a hint of lifting volatility. This is an elegant, silky, burgundian Côte-Rôtie that will benefit from 3 to 5 more years of cellaring, or decant and drink now with a steak! On day two this is still showing very firm structure and acidity - give this wine some time, probably best 2020 to 2030.

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Voge, Alain 2016 Cornas Vieilles Vignes

This classic Cornas is from vines averaging 60 years old on granite "gores" in the vineyards of "Combe," "Patou," "La Cote," "les Mazards" and "Chaillots."  The grapes are partially de-stemmed, fermentation is with wild yeasts, aging is 20 months in barrique 15% new. The aromas are elegant and bright with red currant and black raspberry, earth and stone. The palate is dense with ripe black fruits, licorice and earth, with a beautiful, very long finish of black fruits with intense minerality. "Terroir in the glass here, for lovers of The Real Thing" says Drinkrhone and we couldn't agree more. Drink this superb Cornas over the next 15 to 20 years.  David Lillie

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  • Organic
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Voge, Alain 2017 Cornas Vieilles Vignes

This classic Cornas is from vines averaging 60 years old on granite "gores" in the vineyards of "Combe," "Patou," "La Cote," "les Mazards" and "Chaillots" and in 2017 this bottling includes the fruit from Les Vieilles Fontaines.  The grapes are partially de-stemmed, fermentation is with wild yeasts, aging is 20 months in barrique 15% new. The robe is a dark ruby, verging on purple. The nose is effusive with aromas of blackberry, violets, tree bark, black tea and plum skin. The concentrated palate boasts an array of ripe black fruit flavors and notes a grilled meat and earth  girded by firm tannins and focusing acidity. The finish is long and involved with lingering layers of earth, bramble, and black berry liqueur. There's fine nascent complexity here and this should gain in sophistication as the abundant fruit integrates with the underlying structure. John McIlwain

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