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More and more delicious wines from Touraine keep appearing on our shelves from this lovely vintage in the Loire Valley, imported by our good friends at Louis/Dressner Selections. The 2015s from Touraine are beautifully ripe and supple while remaining relatively light and fresh with moderate alcohol - normally 12 to 12.5% - making them superb food wines and great choices for any festive occasion. The growers featured today have mastered the art of making simply delicious wines, which begins in the vines with living soils and organic farming. Fermentations are natural, with wild yeasts, with sulfur added only if necessary at bottling and aging is in neutral vats or old barrels. These growers also work to preserve the region's ancient grape varieties - of particular note in today's list are the outstanding Romorantins from Hervé Villemade, the two delicious Pineau d'Aunis from Julien Pineau and Les Vins Contés, and the distinctive Menu Pineau blend "la Tesnière" from Olivier Bonhomme. While only a few of the wines will benefit from extended aging, they all are drinking well now - they are remarkably refreshing and delicious and we urge you to try them!
Taste these outstanding wines while enjoying a four-course "Diner Tourangeau" (Touraine-style dinner) at Racines NY on Tuesday, December 6th at 7pm, with Jules Dressner on hand for notes and comment. Racines Executive Chef Frédéric Duca is creating some of the finest French cuisine in New York, which will beautifully accompany these vibrant and delicious wines. And we'll include some special guests - a few old bottles from Francois Pinon and our last bottle of the outrageous 2008 Menu Pineau sous-voile from La Lunotte! $110 all-inclusive of dinner, wine, tax and tip.
Join us, along with Jules Dressner, for a festive four-course dinner by Racines NY Executive Chef Frédéric Duca as we taste 12 different Touraine wines from Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Hervé Villemade, les Vins Contés, Olivier Bonhomme and Noella Morantin, with a few surprises from François Pinon and La Lunotte. 7pm, Tuesday, December 6th at Racines NY, 94 Chambers Street.
This is a beautiful Gamay from the talented Noella Morantin, who acquired part of the Clos Roche Blanche vineyard and other parcels above the Cher River in Pouillé, Touraine. The 2015 Mon Cher is from old vines, vinified in carbonic maceration, and shows lovely aromas of morello cherry, strawberry and red currant with hints of rose and forest floor. The palate is lively and bright at 12% alcohol, with ripe sappy red fruits, earth, mineral and citrus flavors that continue in the refreshing finish. This is a very pretty and versatile wine that will accompany charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool and enjoy! DL
For fans of fun, fresh Loire Valley reds, search no further. This is all Gamay, in it's most fresh and vibrant form. 11% alcohol, and ready for a chill. No sulfur added. Eben Lillie
(60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay grown on sandy clay and flint soils over limestone in Cellettes, Chitenay and Fougères sur Bièvre, AOC Cheverny; 15-day whole cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels) 2015 is a great vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade; very pretty aromas of plum, strawberry and blood orange with rose and violet; chalky raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate, light but sappy and long with earthy citrus and berry fruits in the finish. This is a delightful, thirst-quenching red - serve cool with any chicken or pork dish, charcuterie and mild cheeses. DL
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Gamay from a small parcel of clay and flint soils over limestone of Blois. 2015 is a great vintage for the reds from Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat at Clos du Tue-Boeuf as the wines show lovely ripeness while retaining lovely balance and freshness. The 2015 Rouillon shows bright, floral tart plum, raspberry and wild strawberry aromas with citrus and earth. The palate is light but sappy with wild strawberry, plum skin, earth and spice. The finish is long with citrus and mineral flavors and a bit of tannin. Irresistible now, this should be very interesting after a few years in the cellar. 12.5% alcohol, zero or minimal SO2. David Lillie
Pierre-Olivier has made a simply delicious Touraine Sauvignon Blanc again in 2016 - it's a great value for everyday drinking, and it would be fun to put some away a few years as well! The wine shows a pale bronze color with aromas of ripe pear, lime flower, gingerbread and honeysuckle, really lovely. Dry but with lovely ripe pear and apple on the palate framed in firm acidity, with stone, saline mineral flavors and candied fruit in the finish. There's a lot of character in this inexpensive wine - enjoy by itself or with any fish, chicken or white meat dish, great with goat cheeses and Asian foods as well, DL
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
This beautiful Cheverny Blanc is from 5 to 30 year-old vines (70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay) on sandy clay and flint soils giving very low yields. The wine shows complex aromas of ripe pear, hazelnut, grapefruit and stone; the palate is ripe and round, though quite dry, with flavors of apple, pear and citrus framed in firm acidity and "gunflint" mineral notes in the finish. Just delicious - serve with fish or chicken in sauce, goat cheeses or sip happily by itself. DL
A Cheverny blend of 1/3rd each of Sauvignon Blanc, Fie Gris (a varient of Sauvignon) and Chardonnay - five to fifty year-old vines on clay/flint soils. Eight months in neutral oak barrels before bottling, with minimal sulfur. Fresh aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, spice and minerals. The palate is dense and riper than usual in this exceptional vintage but is very lively and mineral over the flavors of pear, quince, citrus, spice and stone. Forget about Sancerre, the Tue-Boeuf Frileuse is complex, unusual and remarkably delicious! DL
This is a lovely Pineau d'Aunis and a worthy successor to the reds and rosés made from this great vineyard by our friends Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet until their recent retirement. Continuing their exemplary vineyard work, the young Julien Pineau (no relation to the grapes of the same name) has a slightly different style in the cellar. This delicious wine undergoes a two-week whole-cluster fermentation in vat with a tiny addition of SO2, but with none added at bottling. The wine shows beautiful aromas of red currant, cranberry, rose, white pepper and plum. The palate is bright and balanced with pretty berry fruits, crisp acidity and terrific length. The Clos Roche Blanche lives on in this beautiful Pineau D'Aunis! David Lillie
This is a lovely, soft and ripe expression of Pineau d'Aunis from Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, from vines adjacent to Clos Roche Blanche on clay with silex in organic and biodynamic farming. Aged in old futs and demi-muids, bottled without filtration, minimal SO2. Floral, beautiful dark cherry fruit with cranberry, white pepper and plum and minimal tannin. Slightly softer and more supple than usual; a wonderful food wine with a perfect balance of fruit and mineral acids that's lovely now and should open up nicely over the next few years.
Mostly Pineau D'Aunis (90%) with a touch of Gamay from sandy/flint soils. It's delightfully floral on the nose, with the fascinating herbal notes that one usually finds from Pineau D'Aunis cuvées. Mineral, and very fresh... with a lingering chalky finish. Eben Lillie
From a small parcel of clay and silex on limestone, 2/3 Cot and 1/3 Gamay. 35 year-old vines, organic since 1996, aged in old barrels, large and small. Thierry Puzelat was a pioneer of natural wine-making and he continues with this beautiful "Guerrerie" from the lovely 2014 vintage in the Loire Valley. The wine is extravagantly delicious with wild aromas of raspberry, cherry, violets, mint, pepper and earth. Cool red and black fruits on the palate with plum, citrus, pepper and earthy acidity. Just lovely - serve cool and enjoy! (most likely zero sulfur added)
Somehow balancing freshness and bright red fruit with serious structure, this is a knockout from Lemasson. 100% Malbec or "Côt," as they call it in the Loire, this is spicy, earthy, and super finessed. There seems to be ample acidity and tannin here for aging. I know the jury's not out on aging no-SO2 wines, but I will note that I drank a bottle of the 2003 Cheville de Fer with Olivier at his home and it was absolutely breathtaking. A beautiful, mature wine, with fascinating aromas, a silky texture, and a never-ending finish. I remember opening my eyes wide after tasting the '03 and looking over to see Olivier simply nodding his head. He raised his finger and reminded me: "No sulfur!" Eben Lillie
Menu Pineau, also known as "Arbois" is described in Wine Grapes (J. Robinson et al.) as "an old variety from the Val de Loire named after it's similarity to Gros Pineau (Chenin Blanc)...although it has nothing to do with the village called Arbois in the Franche-Comté." It is an offspring of Gouais Blanc, along with many other European grapes, and is "a little more rustic, but less acid than Chenin Blanc," according to Thierry Puzelat. The 2015 La Tesnière Blanc by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is from organically-grown vines, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc, in this great parcel that abuts the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Bright pale gold color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, pear, fresh herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is lean, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, stone and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
Hervé Villemade makes delicious natural wines on his organic certified estate in Cellettes, within the Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny appellations. This delightful 100% Romorantin shows lovely aromas of lemon verbena, fines herbes, melon and almond; very firm acidity on the ripe, dense palate with lemon, stone, melon and herbal flavors. Long finish of citrus and mineral flavors. This is an outstanding Romo and a great value - serve with melon and prosciutto, seafood, Asian foods, cheeses and patés.
"Romorantin, the official grape of the Cour-Cheverny AOC, appreciates sandy clay/limestone soils where it offers a wine of great character that mixes elegant vegetal and floral notes (cut grass, violets, a touch of mint), often slightly honeyed with notes of ripe fruit (roast pear) lightly marked by the elevage in old barrels. The finish is fresh, tight with saline minerals and bitter anise. A wine with good aging potential." (Villemade.net) In 2014, the "Les Acacias" is simply outstanding and very distinctive, offering aromas of ripe peach and pear with spice, floral, caramel and oxidative notes. The palate is very round and ripe with stone, peach, earth and almond flavors, with fabulous length with honeyed lemon, anise and minerals. Superb wine, to drink now or in 10 to 20 years. David Lillie