The village of Arbois and surrounding vineyards - Photos from Villet website: www.domaine-villet.fr

Introducing Domaine Villet from Arbois, and new arrivals from Marnes Blanches!

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Earlier this year after a fantastic visit with Jean-Claude Rateau in Burgundy I headed east to Jura, to visit a few estates. Having only been in the region on a misty, snowy day in January years ago, I was excited to experience this part of France in the Spring. Of course, as luck would have it, it was a gray, rainy day, but somehow it didn't detract from the magic and charm of the surroundings. When I reached Arbois I could tell right away that this was a special place. Tucked away amongst the impressive rolling green hills of the Jura, this quaint village is punctuated by the iconic bell tower of the Saint-Just Church, and to a visitor like myself, it feels like stepping (or driving) into a time warp… Only fitting then that I would end up visiting a domaine that has been making wine in Arbois since 1900.

Christine and Gérard Villet

Domaine Villet is located on a quiet side-street in the center of town. I arrived and met Christine, who is one half of the team that is comprised of herself and her husband Gérard, who seems to prefer being in the vineyards to handling the business details. Christine was humble, laid-back, very warm and funny, and she had a particularly entertaining sense of humor, which became apparent when our discussion turned to issues of agreement between organic certification in Europe and the U.S. Essentially the Villets have to remove any evidence of their organic certification from bottles destined for the U.S., due to new changes to the definition of organic wine. It's a pain for small growers with small budgets, and frustrating for folks like the Villets, who had been organic for nearly 30 years, but Christine seemed entertained by the absurdity of it all. We talked and we tasted. She opened bottle after bottle of various vintages. After tasting about 17 different wines and a Mac Vin (sorry we don't have any this time around, but we're working on it!), I was left with the impression of an estate that is producing wines with finesse and focus, steeped in the traditions of the Appellation, and with an exemplary approach to agriculture and vinification.

Harvest in 1907 and 1950

As mentioned, Domaine Villet is a family estate that was started in 1900, and was converted to organic viticulture in 1988, making them one of the first estates in the region to do so. Gérard felt the results were better with organic agriculture, so he eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fungicides, favoring the use of manure, compost and organic elements. Around the turn of the (21st) century, the only treatments used in the vineyard were copper (bouillie bordelaise) for mildew, and sulfur for oïdium. Since then, they have been minimizing the use of the copper and sulfur in the vineyard and relying instead on plant extracts, such as tea nettle, prêle (horsetail), willows, dandelions, and the like. Gérard believes firmly that vignerons must be working in the vines throughout the year in order to be attentive to the health of the vines and to reduce risks. He lets natural grasses grow but tills to limit proliferation. He only uses natural yeast in vinification, as he feels yeasts that are introduced are standardized and lead to a uniformity of taste, whereas natural yeasts allow the terroir to be fully expressed. Sulfur is used in moderation (typically 20 mg per liter added at bottling to cover transport).

We are very excited to have the wines from Gérard and Christine Villet at Chambers Street and invite you to try them! We are also happy to have some new cuvées from one of our favorite estates in the Jura,  Domaine des Marnes Blanches!

 

Eben Lillie

Villet, Gerard & Christine 2011 Arbois Tradition

The Tradition white from the Villets consists of 60% Chard ouillé (topped up) and 40% Savagnin sous voile. The wine is kept for 2 years in large barrels. It's deliciously oxidative with pretty floral aromas, white peach notes, and a graceful finish.  Eben Lillie

  • white
  • 10 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic
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Villet, Gerard & Christine 2011 Arbois Chardonnay

From vines that Christine's father planted about 40 years ago, this was an instant hit with our staff and local customers alike. As is typical of the Villet Chardonnay offerings, the wine is not made in a sous-voile style, but vinified traditionally. It's fresh, mineral, and marked by a textural complexity that is compelling and exciting to the palate.   Eben Lillie  

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $15.99

  • Organic

Villet, Gerard & Christine 2009 Arbois Chardonnay

The 2009 Chardonnay from Villet is certainly a contrast to the more straightforward 2011 bottling. Where the 2011 is ready to go, the '09 is a bit more contemplative and needs time to breath. There's a bit of gas, and it is slightly toasty upon opening, but this blows off eventually to reveal aromas of baked apples and spice, with creamy lemon in the mid-palate, and white stone fruit in the finish. This is a richer Chardonnay, one that sits longer in the mouth, and lingers longer in the finish, but it is still marked by a pronounced mineral quality and sharp acidity that are a trademark of the Villet style.  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic

Villet, Gerard & Christine 2011 Arbois Savagnin (Sous Voile)

Christine calls this Savagnin: “typique” (typical). Aged - in a traditional Jura fashion - sous voile for 3 years in large barrels. It jumps out of the glass with pronounced oxidative notes. Bright, nutty, fresh, and though it is typical for Savagnin from the Jura, to me there was a kind of elegance when I first tasted it that I felt was unique among many other sous voile wines I've tasted. I mentioned this to Christine after tasting, and she said that she found the sous voile Savagnin from Arbois to differ from the rest of Jura, saying simply that they are “oxidative, but not aggressive.”  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic

Villet, Gerard & Christine 2012 Arbois Savagnin (Ouille)

A complete contrast to the 2011 Savagnin, the 2012 is topped up (Ouillé), and aged in 1000L barrels. It's almost as if you can smell the herbs and thistles growing in the vineyard when you bring the glass to your nose. The subtle aromas lead to bright, ripe fruit that is suspended through the mid palate and into the finish. Then, at the last moment, there is the slightest hint of an oxidative note. Maybe it's the yeasts that are floating around in the cellar that sneak in to this cuvée, or maybe it's a result of the long aging in large barrels, but the effect is mesmerizing. Wait for it... wait for it... and there it is! As much as I love sous voile Savagnin, it's fun to experience the characteristics of the grape, and it's flavor profile, separate from the effects of oxidation. Enjoy over many days.  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

  • Organic

Villet, Gerard & Christine 2011 Arbois Tradition Rouge

The Tradition rouge is a blend of Trousseau, Poulsard and Pinot Noir. Reds make up about a third of the total production at Domaine Villet, and their vines have seen some tough times in the past few years, so the Tradition bottling is essentially the only red they bottled in 2011. It's not as dense as a Trousseau, but the flavors are there, and it definitely has the bright tweak of a Poulsard and the red fruit and structure of a Pinot Noir. The wine is a bit reductive at first, and though it blows off quickly, it's best to give it a little time to open up.  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic

Villet, Gerard & Christine NV Vin Mousseaux de qualité

A Cremant in everything but name, this Vin Mousseaux (a general term that refers to sparkling wines) is 100% Chardonnay Extra-Brut. There is no dosage so it's particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), this is perfectly refreshing (think Summertime), super 'digestif' and great for an apero or with food.  Eben Lillie

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Marnes Blanches (Geraud Fromont) 2014 Cotes du Jura Savagnin En Quartre Vis

Although the 2015 vintage of this wine just became available, we wanted to highlight the 2014 as it is drinking beautifully right now. The Savagnin for this cuvée is sourced from a few different parcels, all of them vinified separately in neutral barrique before being blended together in stainless steel tank before bottling. It has all of the classic lusciousness that Savagnin can offer while also displaying wonderful purity and tension. This wine definitely has the structure to age well, as long as you have the will power! Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Marnes Blanches (Geraud Fromont) NV Cotes du Jura Cremant Reserve

Now we go a step further: the Fromont’s Crémant Reserve is also 100% Chardonnay, but sourced from a parcel of old vines that was planted in 1955 in soil rich with white marl. The base wine is entirely from the 2013 vintage (all of the base wines they use are single vintage; they do not use reserve wine) and is fermented partially in stainless steel before being racked to neutral barrique. This spends a minimum of 24 months on the lees, and is also bottled with zero dosage. It is stony and deep, with hints of orange peel and blossom; apricots and marzipan come forward with time in the glass. It is more broad and textured on the palate, with orchard fruit, sea salt, and a deep, borderline savory minerality. Long, elegant, and immensely drinkable. Tim Gagnon

  • Out of Stock
  • white sparkling
  • 0 in stock
  • no discount
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur