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We wouldn't mind being in the Côtes Catalanes right now, drinking regional wines outside under the summer sun. Since that won't be happening any time soon, at least we can share some new arrivals from our friends Carolin and Niko Bantlin, from Domaine Les Enfants Sauvages! This is the second year we've been working with the Bantlins, so some of our customers are already big fans of their reds. We're looking forward to sharing the new vintages, but we're also excited to introduce their dry white - Cool Moon - which has become an instant favorite of the staff here at Chambers.
Carolin and Niko have been making wine since 2002, in a town called Fitou, near the border with Spain in the Côtes Catalanes region of France.
They came to the area from Germany, originally to visit friends, and then, after they fell in love with the region, to settle down and continue their life together. When they purchased an old estate with 7.5 hectares of vines, the idea of working the land and making wine immediately appealed to them. Carolin studied winemaking in France, and she and Niko began revitalizing their vineyards by applying Biodynamic methods, and integrating the vines into a natural organic cycle. After selling their grapes in 2000 and 2001, Carolin interned with Olivier Pithon, who encouraged them to make their own wine rather than selling to the co-op. So the story of Les Enfants Sauvages began!
In the vineyard there are no pesticides or herbicides. Instead, they apply self-made preparations of nettle, chamomile and horsetail. Their vines are cultivated in the traditional "goblet" style, on a terroir of clay and limestone. Grapes are harvested by hand into small crates and wines are aged in cement or barrel, depending on the cuvée. They may not be French, but Carolin and Niko are as open, friendly, and passionate as any of our favorite French winemakers, and the wines are as authentic as they get.
From 85 year old vines of Grenache gris and Grenache blanc, with a small amount of Maccabeu from a 75 year old parcel. Fermented and aged for 9 months in Austrian oak vat (12 hl Stockinger) and smaller used barrels. This is a really fascinating white that has been creating quite a little buzz here at Chambers St. Notes of lemon curd, marzipan and herbs, envoloping in mouth...with mineral cut in the finish, and a touch of spice that lingers after each sip. A must for fans of interesting and unique white wines. Eben Lillie
Roi des Lézards is all Carignan, from vines ranging from 35 - 75 years, aged in a combination of 1500 L Austrian Stockinger barrels, and 500 L used barrels. This is a significant bottle of Carignan, offering dark, purple fruit and good grip. The famous French term "garrigue" immediately comes to mind, even from smelling the wine. Used to describe the aromas typical of the shrubs and fauna of the Mediterranean, such as Thyme, Rosemary and Lavender, one couldn't find a better descriptor for the flavor profile of this wine. This vintage is a touch lighter and more balanced than the '13 so it could be enjoyed on it's own, but will likely be best on the dinner table with grilled meats and veggies, or other hearty fare. Eben Lillie
Now this is a first: Syrah is pressed like a rosé, then the Cinsault grapes are tossed (whole cluster) into the fermenting juice for 4 - 5 days, without extraction. The wine is then pressed, and kept in stainless steel. My tasting notes provide this information and are then followed by one word: "Yummy." They call it a "wonderful light and fruity summer wine." Combine the two and you get the idea. This is juicy, fresh and very light bodied. Truly a FUN wine, and one that will benefit from a little chill. 11.5% alc. Eben Lillie
*What's better than a bottle of Che Chauvio? A Mag! This is ideal for any of your summer parties. Chill and enjoy alone or with food.
If there's a wine that best epitomizes the overall spirit and style of the offerings from Carolin and Niko, the Enfant Sauvage is it. A blend (60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre) from different parcels, fermented and aged in concrete. Whole cluster fermentation, without pigeage (punch over), and one week of maceration before press. A colleague summed it up well when she said "It's complex, without being fussy." It truly is a complex wine, but it's balanced, and easy to drink, with just the right amount of tannin and acidity to pair well with a variety of foods. It's also smooth enough to have with simple snacks or without food altogether! Eben Lillie
A blend of 60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. A truly versatile red, in magnum size! Eben Lillie
100% Mourvedre from a small parcel, aged for a year in 6 hl used Austrian barrels (Stockinger), then kept in bottle. This is the most elegant and finessed Mourvedre I've ever tasted. At 12%, it's not light, but it is really charming, with developed earthy flavors, yet free from any chewy tannins. Really quite velvet-like smoothness, and ample complexity, with a long mineral finish. Certainly wins the award for the most 'beautiful' of the Enfants Sauvages offerings. It's a joy to drink, and a great chance to study the oft-blended Mourvedre grape on it's own. Eben Lillie