Didier in the cellar. Photo: Bert Celce/Wineterroirs.com

New Arrivals From the Loire Valley! Pinon Brut Rosé, Clos Roche Blanche, Puzelat, La Lunotte, Lenoir, Bellivière and More!

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Meeting the Pinon family back in 1981 was a wonderful experience (we drank the 1959 Moelleux!), which led to our long association with Francois and his beautiful wines. His organic vineyard work and thoughtful vinifications produce some of the finest wines in Vouvray. Every year at this time, Francois sends us a little bit of his delicious Touraine Brut Rosé, a blend of Grolleau and Cot, which will enliven your Spring and Summer with its fresh and floral red fruits. We thank Francois for this yearly allocation and we might suggest that buying a case for New Years (or for your cellar) would be an excellent idea!

About twenty years ago, we were introduced to Catherine Roussel and Didier Barouillet at Clos Roche Blanche, who had recently converted the family domaine to organic agriculture. Following their progress over the years has been an inspiration - they consider the health of the soil and its microbial life to be the most important aspect of winemaking. "My natural evolution has led me to spend less and less time in the cellar. And this evolution continues in that today, I almost don't pay any attention to the vines and focus principally on what's happening in the soil." - Didier Barouillet  We're very happy to have their Sauvignon Blancs and Pif back on the shelf.

Other attractions in the Loir-et-Cher, besides the ZooParc de Beauval, are the wonderful wines from Puzelat-Bonhomme in les Montils, Beatrice and Michel Augé at Les Maisons Brulées and Christophe Foucher of La Lunotte. New wines have arrived from each of these great estates, all of which farm organically and vinify with minimal intervention producing pure and delicious "wines of nature."

Traveling west through Touraine, and just down the street from Les Picasses in Chinon, we find the wonderfully traditional estate of Alain and Jerome Lenoir. Farming here is by hand, without chemicals, vinifications are long and slow with wild yeasts, aging is in old foudres and tronconic barrels and the current release is 2005! (See our friend Bert at Wineterroirs.com for a great article on this unique domaine.)

Concluding our tour of the Loire is a detour to the Loir, north of Tours, the meandering stream that wanders through the Coteaux Vendomois, Coteaux-du-Loir and Jasnieres, home of light and lovely Gamays and Pineau D'Aunis made by Emile Heredia and Eric and Christine Nicolas at Domaine Belliviere.

The themes of our travels in the Loire are twofold. First, that small family-owned estates have kept alive the traditional winemaking that was nearly destroyed by the chemical farming, machine harvesting and modern vinifications that have prevailed in Europe since the 1960s. And second, that a new generation of vigneron(ne)s in the Loire have led a resurgence in real farming, ressurecting the importance of the "paysan"  - the farmer who guards the health of his soils and produces wines and foods of terroir. The modest prices of these wines belies their quality and real importance in the necessary movement towards a more sustainable agriculture. -DL

 

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Pinon, François NV (2010) Touraine Brut Rosé

Made from Grolleau and Côt (Malbec) this superb sparkling wine has beautiful deep pink color, lovely high-toned red-currant/strawberry aromas, and a palate of citrusy ripe berry fruits with earth and spice—really delicious! François Pinon is one of the great winemakers of the Loire Valley, doing fabulous organic farming in the vineyards and precise work in the cellar, and his wines are very reasonably priced! Thank you, François! DL

  • Out of Stock
  • rosé sparkling
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  • $20.99

Clos Roche Blanche 2011 Touraine Pif

Super-Bon! A nice vintage for PIF, faithful mouse-hunter and vineyard companion at Clos Roche Blanche. A blend of Cot, Cab Franc and Pineau d'Aunis, it has pretty red and black fruit aromas, and a lovely medium-bodied palate with good acidity and length. Refreshing and thirst-quenching at 12 degrees alcohol, jut the way we like it. Don't delay, quantity is limited. DL

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  • red
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  • $17.99

Clos Roche Blanche 2011 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

2011 was a good harvest At Clos Roche Blanche, with good quantity and moderate alcohol, at 12.5%, perhaps similar to 2002. Very pretty white fruit, floral and herbal aromas, the palate is round with good acidity and mineral character, really a lovely vintage for this soulful Sauvignon, from one of the most beautifully tended vineyards in the world!

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  • white
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  • $19.99

Clos Roche Blanche 2011 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc No. 5

The Sauvignon Blanc # 5 is a selection of the best fruit from the CRB vineyards, fermented and aged in 4 year-old tronconic foudres. This is a dense, pure and stony wine showing lemon, mineral salts and herbal aromas lifted by a hint of oxidation. The palate is intense with sharp citrus and wet stone, very earthy and a bit austere but with terrific density and length. Scintillating now, great with shellfish, ceviche, grilled seafoods, this will be best in 3 to 5 years, or more — don't worry, real cork. Very limited availability.

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  • white
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  • $26.99

Puzelat-Bonhomme 2011 Touraine La Tesniere Menu Pineau/Chenin

A unique and delicious wine, but not for Cali Chard drinkers. Lemon oil, pear, herbal and stone aromas with gripping acidity on the palate and citrus, mineral and yeasty flavors. The finish is long with juicy acids, citrus and spice. This will age and will accompany grilled fish, asian foods, goat cheeses.

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  • white
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  • $23.99

Puzelat-Bonhomme 2011 Touraine Gamay La Probilière

We're exited to have this new bottling of Gamay from Thierry and Pierrot! From a parcel of very old vines in organic agriculture. Beautiful aromas of deep peppery plum and blackberry fruit, with violets and bitter chocolate. The palate is deep and dense but light on its feet, with citrus, earth and spicy blackberry fruit that finishes with juicy acidity. The wine gets darker and deeper with aeration, with firm tannins—this should keep nicely a la Clos Roche Blanche.

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  • red
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  • $21.99

Puzelat-Bonhomme 2011 Vin Petillant de France Petillant Naturel

2011 is a lovely vintage for the Puzelat-Bonhomme Pet Nat. Menu Pineau in organic agriculture, vinified in the "methode ancestral." The wine finishes it's fermentation in the bottle without addition of sugar or yeasts. The 2011 fnished at 12% alcohol, with a soft but persistent mousse. Lovely aromas of candied citrus, white fruits, and caramel; the palate is round with brisk acidity and creamy citrus flavors, white fruits and hay. This is a really fun and refreshing wine — don't delay to grab some as the supply is quite limited...

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  • white sparkling
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  • no discount
  • $18.99

Tue-Boeuf 2010 Cheverny La Gravotte Pinot Noir

This is a very pure, red-fruited Pinot Noir that is unmistakably from the Loire and, more specifically, from the hands of Puzelat, who makes wines very naturally, using grapes of the highest quality and minimal sulfur. The nose offers very bright notes of sour cherry, tart cranberry, and earth. These tangy fruit flavors carry through to the palate, which is reminiscent of cherries with a hint of the pleasant bitterness of the pit. -MSB

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  • red
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Lunotte 2011 Vin de Table La Flou Cabernet Franc

Foucher's 2011 La Flou is pure gulpable Cabernet Franc, light and lovely and much too easy to drink! A combination of carbonic maceration and traditional vinification, with no extraction — light in color and low in tannin with beautful blackberry and strawberry fruit. The wine ages in small, old barriques and is bottled by hand without added SO2. Serve quite cool...

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  • red
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  • $16.99

Lunotte 2011 Vin de France Trio (Sauv/Menu Pineau)

Christophe Foucher is doing great work at his tiny domain near St. Aignan in Touraine. A neighbor of Clos Roche Blanche, he shares their philosophy, working organically in the vineyard and naturally in the cellar, with no added sulfur and no filtration. Trio is a blend of Menu Pineau and Sauvignon Blanc — the 2011 version is outstanding, with earthy herbal, candied citrus, spice and stone aromas. The palate is dense with intriguing citrus, herbal and earthy flavors — this is a unique and delicious wine! Try with a spicy ceviche....

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  • white
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  • $17.99

Lunotte (Christophe Foucher) 2011 Vin de France P'tites Vignes (Sauv. Blanc)

A refreshing and delicious "wine of nature" by Christophe Foucher, bottled by hand without filtration or sulfites, organic farming. Slightly cloudy pale gold with floral, citrus, nettle and white fruit aromas. Herbal citrus and earthy flavors on the palate, with tingly, juicy acids in the finish. Devolps nicely with aeration and a few days, re-corked, in the fridge. A complex and intriguing Sauvignon that will accompany pates, shellfish, goat cheeses and much more,  and goes down very easy on it's own. Fabulous value, too!

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  • white
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  • $12.99

Lunotte (Christophe Foucher) NV Vin de France Rossignoux (Some missing labels)

A delicious Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, from low-yielding old vines on slopes above the Cher river. Christophe is a real artisan whose dedication shows in this dense, complex and balanced wine. Fermentation and aging in small, old barrels gives this wine a beautiful density with great acidity. Lovely aromas of hay, peach, lemon oil and dried herbs with a hint of oxidation. Stone, peach, dried flowers, caramel and herbal flavors on the palate with terrific length — a great food wine and highly recommended. No added sulfites.

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  • white
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  • $16.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Maisons Brûlées (Michel Augé) 2010 Vin de Table Le Herdeleau

This wine gets better every year! Michel Auge, known to friends and winemakers in the Loire as "Master Yoda," creates this cuvee from Pinot Noir, Gamay and Pineau D'Aunis. The grapes are macerated together and there is NO sulfur added. Flavors of black cherry and earth with fresh tannin and a lot of acidity. In the glass this wine is a rich dark violet, not the bright transparent hue we would expect from the blend. The herbal notes from the Pineau D'Aunis are present, but subtle and integrated. This is natural wine making at it's finest. No yeasty finish, just lots of pure terroir and complexity.   EL

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  • red
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  • $18.99

Maisons Brûlées (Michel Augé) 2010 Vin de Table L'Erèbe

For many years we have enjoyed tasting and talking with Béatrice and Michel Augé—a soft-spoken and intelligent couple who farm nine hectares in Pouillé, above the Cher river in Touraine. They are certified biodynamic and use no sugar, yeasts or other additives and bottle without sulfur if the vintage allows. We're proud to have a growing number of their wines in the store. The 2010 L'Erèbe is made from Côt and Cabernet Franc and was bottled without added SO2. "The sulfur used as a preservative annihilates many of the positive effects of wine" says Michel. The wine is aromatically superb with complex black fruits with earth and spice. The palate is full and very expressive, but light in weight with crisp acidity—an invigorating and interesting experience! Highly recommended. (for photos and additional info check-out the wineterroirs.com article from 2005)

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  • red
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  • $19.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • No Sulfur

Maisons Brûlées (Michel Augé) 2011 Vin de France Silenes

We're gald to have one of the fascinating whites from Michel and Beatrice Augé finally on our shelves. This deep gold Sauvignon Blanc has ripe white fruit, tea, clove and citrus peel aromas. The palate is framed by citrusy acids, with apple, peach, spice and red fruit flavors that deepen with air. Made with only 5 mg of SO2 at bottlling, it darkens with exposure to air but remains complex and delicious. Serve with full-flavored fish, poultry and pork dishes. Thank you Master Yoda!

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  • white
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  • $15.99

Montrieux 2011 Vin de France Point G

This is our newest favorite from Emile Héredia of Domaine de Montrieux in the Côteaux du Vendômois. Perhaps most recognized for his Pineau d'Aunis wines, this old vines Gamay (older than 50 years) undergoes a long maceration and about a year in vat before being bottled. There is no sulfur used and the vineyards have been worked organically (and plowed using a horse and mule) since the late 90's. The wine has aromas of red rasberries, a vibrant light red-burgundy hue and a slight cloudiness. Though there is a bit of a natural CO2 tingle, and predictably intense acidity, it reveals a refreshing tannic structure and gradually more complex boquet with some air. The finish is slightly herbaceous, and almost olivey, but most importantly... it makes us want to drink more! You may have reached a point where you can smell a wine and know it's a 'natural,' no sulfur, unfiltered Loire gamay... but it's always nice to try another, especially when it is so pure and quaffable, and free from the imperfections that often plague no-sulfur wines. Serve with a light chill and enjoy! 

 

 

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  • red
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  • $19.99

Lenoir, Alain et Jerome 2005 Chinon Les Roches

This past winter in the Loire I had the good fortune to make a pit stop at the Lenoir cellar. It's an impressive place full of non-uniformly shaped barrels that look as though they have held their places since the dawn of time. The cellar is very cold and there's a healthy layer of moss covering many of the surfaces. The Lenoirs farm 3.5 hectares and they have been organic for a very long time, using only copper and sulfur in the vineyards and experimenting with biodynamics. All fermentations are done with wild yeast; all grapes are hand-harvested, and the wines are stored in cask until they are ready, meaning until the ancient barrels have done their work taming the brusque tannins of Cabernet Franc. Many Lenoir Chinons were tasted that afternoon and notes indicate that 2005 is absolutely delicious, open and ready to drink but certainly cellar-able as well. One of the more expressive bottles we tried, the nose was peppery and ripe, the palate full of dark, tangy fruits. The finish showed some mouth-coating tannins but fully in balance with the wine's other elements. -msb  

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  • red
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  • $25.99

Raffault, Olga 2002 Chinon Les Picasses

On our first visit to Domaine Raffault, a push-pin was put on New York on the world map to show their first export to the US, Olga told a few off-color jokes and Ernest kept bringing older and older bottles from the cellar. I remember thinking how the less than great vintages showed beautifully — light, fragrant, complex, gamey, vegetal? and delicious. 2002, while a great vintage for whites, was a bit less successful for reds in the Loire. The 2002 Les Picasses seemed a bit light on release, but time has revealed a lovely Burgundian Chinon, with pretty citrus, plum and strawberry aromas, with hints of smoke, leather and wet earth. Soft and lovely on the palate with nice depth of gamey, chalky red fruits, tobacco and spice. Lovely, and it will just keep on going...

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  • red
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  • $34.99

  • Organic

Bellivière 2011 Vin de Table de France Pollux (Gamay)

2011 Belliviere Pollux Gamay – Quite herbal and peppery Gamay nose with dark fruits and a hint of cedar or balsam wood. Ripe, almost jammy fruit on the nose as well. Brambly blackberries and blackberry seeds. Full fruited and ripe on the palate. Some sweet, voluptuous fruit but also good acid and even some grippy tannins on the finish. Balanced but also substantial and ripe. Good to have on its own but also a nice match for sausages or charcuterie. Delicious wine...

  • Out of Stock
  • red
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  • $17.99

Bellivière 2011 Vin de Table de France Castor (Cabernet Franc)

Can it be? New red wine cuvées from Eric and Christine Nicolas? And at a fraction of the price of their excellent Pineau d'Aunis bottlings? It sounds too good to be true but it isn't, as this lovely Cabernet Franc shows. We haven't yet had a chance to pick their brains about their new Gamay and Cabernet Franc varietal wines, but we're certainly not disappointed with what we've tasted so far. Gorgeous aromatics that emphasize the grape's more herbal tendencies along with dark fruit and rich spice notes (clove, anise, cinnamon). The palate is a bit rounder than expected and suprisingly less tannic than the Pollux Gamay. This is a contender for best representative of the "friendlier side" of Cabernet Franc. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $17.99

Bellivière 2011 Coteaux du Loire Rouge-Gorge

Always a fascinating and delicious wine, the Rouge Gorge from Eric and Christine Nicolas has occasionally suffered from global warming, but in 2011, at 13.5% alcohol, the wine retains it's brightness and balance with ripe fruit and good acidity. The color is a lovely pale red/purple, the aromas are of ripe raspberry, red currant, white pepper and earth. The palate has citrusy acids, slight petillance, berry fruits, smoky sous-bois, berry fruits, leather and tobacco, with firm acidity and skin tannins in the finish.  Delicious now, but probably best in 5 to 10 years, this is another complex and elegant wine from Domaine Belliviere.

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $36.99