Côte-Rotie in winter

New Arrivals from the Northern Rhone: Levet, Lionnet and Gilles; Dinner at Racines with Sophie Barrett October 20th!

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We're proud to offer the lovely 2012s, recently arrived, from these three outstanding producers of traditional Côte-Rotie and Cornas. 2012 was a somewhat difficult year for the vigneron with rainy periods in June and July followed by good weather in August and September and a few days of high heat - growers had to be vigilant!. Yields were low but some outstanding wines were produced marked by bright, pure fruit, great balance and excellent potential for medium-term aging, with similarty to 2010 with a bit less density. Guilhaume Gilles sums it up, "The 32-35 hl/ha yield was ideal, and the harvest was healthy, even stunning - very, very ripe, very charged in sugar, and the potential degree above 13.5°, which I didn’t expect. We finished on 22 September after four days of harvesting. Overall, 2012 is a year of quality that I didn’t expect. The tannins are quite serious." The three wines offered today show surprising depth and power, gorgeous fruit and classic structure for aging. The Lionnet, more Burgundian and restrained, the Gilles more ripe and powerful and the Levet, as always, a beautiful old-school Côte-Rotie that will be a great pleasure to drink over the next 20 years or more. What unites these three growers, other than their association with Neal Rosenthal, is their whole-cluster vinifications, gentle extraction and elevage in minimal or zero new oak. The wines have structure, balance and the complexity and depth achieved from old vines, great vineyard sites and fine traditional wine-making.

Also on offer today are the excellent 2011s from Levet and Gilles, wines that are somewhat fuller and softer than the 2012s - big, complex wines that will drink beautfully quite soon and will benefit from ten to fifteen years of aging. 2009s from Levet and Lionnet are also on offer - these two estates produced fabulous wines in 2009, very balanced and well-structured in this ripe vintage - really topnotch classic wines that will be at their best from 2025 to 2030. If these are not in your cellar consider grabbing some before they disappear. And for current drinking the Lionnet 2008 is a great value in a true Cornas of terroir - a great success in this somewhat austere vintage with lovely medium-bodied fruit and fine tannins. Wines will be ready for pick-up or local shipment on Wednesday 10/14. (Note: A limited number of magnums are available for all wines except the 2008 Lionnet - please call or email with your requests.) All wines discount 10% on case or mixed case orders!

The Dinner

Join us on Tuesday, October 20th as we taste each wine in today's email, led by Sophie Barrett of Rosenthal Wine Merchant (formerly manager of Chambers Street!) as well as (wow) the 1998 Levet. We'll also try the 2012 Pierre Gonon Saint-Joseph for a contrast in terroir and we'll switch valleys with an aperitif of 2007 Foreau Brut Réserve. And  of course we'll enjoy a superb dinner by Chef Frédéric Duca, who is crafting some of the finest French cuisine in New York. Should be a great event! Racines NY, 94 Chambers Street at 7pm. $155 all inclusive.

No Longer Available

Lionnet 2012 Cornas Terre Brulée

From parcels in Pied la Vigne, Mazards, Combes and Chaillot, with vines from 40 to 105 years old, certified organic. Wild-yeast whole-cluster fermentations, cap-punching by foot, aged in 2 - 8-year-old 228 and 600-liter barrels. Deep black-red color. Subtle, complex aromas of black fruits, violets, stone and musk, quite elegant. The palate has great balance and mineral weight with supple fresh black/blueberry fruit - a very Burgundian Cornas that should age gracefully. The finish is long and more mineral than fruit, this should be really lovely when it opens up - wait three years perhaps and drink till 2030. Domaine Lionnet is doing great work in the style of Jean and Pierre Gonon. Highly recommended!

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  • $47.99

  • Organic

Gilles, Guillaume 2012 Cornas Chaillot

While working for Robert Michel, Guillaume Gilles began with one-half hectare inherited from his grandfather in 2002 and then took over the 1.5 hectares of Robert Michel on Chaillot in 2007. As at Lionnet, the soils are worked by tractor and by hand without herbicides. Fermentations are whole-cluster with wild yeasts and last three weeks or more, at relatively low temperature due to the cold cellar. Minimal pumping over, manual cap punching, aged in 4 to 14-year-old 400 and 600-liter casks.Guillaume is fortunate to have superb terroir in the heart of Chaillot, with soils both of decomposed granite and of clay/limestone, giving a unique purity and saline minerality to his wines. The 2012 Gilles Cornas shows bright aromas of red currant, blackberry and blueberry fruit, floral and elegant with stone and musk. The high-toned aromas contrast with dense black fruits on the palate, surprisingly deep and ripe with a bit more alcohol than normal for this wine. Firm acidity and elegant tannins frame the long finish with minerals and bright fruits lingering on the palate. This is an excellent Cornas combining brightness and power, and built to age, best perhaps 2023 to 2030.

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  • $61.99

Levet 2012 Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche

(Mostly from Petite Sérine planted in the 1950s on Chavaroche, a superb parcel of granite and schist soils with clay and sand, (just west of Côte Brune) a very warm terraced plot sheltered from the north wind. Whole-bunch fermentation, aged one year in old barrels, one year in 15% new, 85% old casks.) The 2012 Chavaroche shows the complex aromas of fine Côte-Rôtie with red-currant, black cherry, blackberry, plum and citrus, with earth and "hung game". Earthy red and black fruits on the palate with plum and violet, chalky and dense but not heavy - balanced, showing the brightness of the vintage. This should age beautifully, but it will be lovely early drinking as well due to the bright, silky fruit. Bravo!

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  • $59.99

Gilles, Guillaume 2011 Cornas Chaillot

Mostly from 40 year-old vines in Chaillot from parcels high on the slope on granite (Les Terasses) and lower on limestone and clay, (Les Grands Murs). Whole cluster fermentation with wild yeasts, minimal pumping over, manual cap punching, aged in 4 to 14 year-old 400 and 600-liter casks. In general, 2011 Cornas tends to be more supple and gentle than the normal "black wine" style. Certainly with good ripeness but lacking aggressive tannins and having round attractive fruit for early drinking. “We had 60 mm (2.4 in) of rain on 26 August when the crop was already at 13° to 13.5°. The grapes lost their depth, so I waited for them to re-concentrate. I harvested two plots on 5 September, and waited some more, then finished on 20 September. It is a very aromatic year, with the fruit well-juiced from the kick-off." - Guilhaume Gilles. The wine shows lovely red fruits as well as blackberry, surprisingly round and quite pretty. Not exactly Pinot Noir, but a more Northern expression of Syrah. Quite full and harmonious in the finish - drink now and through 2025 and beyond.

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  • $59.99

Levet 2011 Côte-Rôtie La Chavaroche

The 2011 vintage in Cote-Rotie was marked by uneven weather - a warm spring followed by swings of hot and cold and some rain in September, which produced wines lacking the perfect balance and structure of 2010 but which show good ripeness and rounder structure - wines that will drink well young but with surprising ability to age as well. The Levet 2011 Chavaroche shows deep black fruits, a bit riper and more open than 2010 or 2012, with floral, spice and meat aromas - less elegant perhaps but riper and more extravagant. The palate has fine mineral character underlying the ripe fruits with some light touches of plum, citrus and herbs over the dense fruit. The finish is long and complex showing a good future for this wine despite the more ripe and forward style. Drink soon and until 2025 to 2030.

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  • $58.99

Lionnet 2009 Cornas Terre Brulée

Domaine Lionnet was certified organic in 2009, after many years of conversion - plowing by horse or "chenillette" (tiny caterpillar tractor), all vineyard work by hand and only organic treatments. The 2009 Cornas shows the ripeness of the vintage, with a bit more alcohol than the 2012, but is well balanced and backed with firm acidity and tannin. The nose is opening with dense blackberry fruit, smoke, musk and spice, the palate is ripe and deep, black fruits and minerals. This needs another five years to drink at its best and should age beautifully. A worthy investment!

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  • $46.99

  • Organic

Levet 2009 Côte-Rôtie Chavaroche

Mostly from Petite Serine planted in the 1950s on Chavaroche, a superb parcel of granite and schist soils with clay and sand (just west of Cote Brune) a very warm terraced plot sheltered from the north wind. Whole-bunch fermentation, aged one year in old barrels, one year in 15% new, 85% old casks. The 2009 Chavaroche is a magnificent Côte-Rôtie with surprising structure and acidity for the vintage - in fact Nicole Levet suggests drinking the 2010 before the 2009. Superb, elegant nose of deep black fruits, stone and game with hints of cocoa. (Albert Dervieux-Thaise once told me that a good Côte-Rôtie should smell like "le ventre d'un lièvre chaud" (the gut of a warm hare) This is not that rustic, but definitely has distinctive aromas). The palate is bursting with stony blackberry fruit, with brown spice, citrus, smoke and licorice. This seems softer than the 2010 to me but there is ample lifting acidity and freshness to carry the wine into old age. This is a big, gorgeous Côte-Rôtie that will be a joy to drink over the next 15 to 20 years!

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  • $62.99

Lionnet 2008 Cornas Terre Brulée

No, 2008 was not a great vintage in Cornas, or anywhere in France for that matter. What we have here is a remarkable success in a difficult year that gives a great deal of Cornas pleasure for current drinking. The color is lighter than usual and the floral red and lack fruits have a peppery aspect, fresh and quite delicious. Medium body with good black fruits and light fine-grained tannins. Serve a bit cool with lighter than usual fare, best over the next 3 to 5 years.

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  • $36.99

  • Organic