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We are often guilty of excessive use of superlatives, like most wine retailers and importers these days, but in this case the praise is well deserved. With vineyards dating back to 910 AD that have been farmed organically since the 1950s, and three generations of experience vinifying without additives, Julien Guillot at the Clos des Vignes du Maynes is producing some of the most unique and delicious natural wines of France. 2015 is a great vintage here, and a new shipment has arrived containing wines from the Clos as well as wines made by Julien from organic and biodynamic vineyards in Macon and Beaujolais. The 2015 Macon-Cruzille "Manganite" is made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium. Tasted last week at Racines NY, the wine was singing and met with unanimous praise - it's a gorgeous wine for current drinking, and it will age beautifully as well - we urge you to try it. Also back in stock are the superb 2015 Bourgogne "Cuvée Auguste," from old vines of Pinot Fin, and the 2015 Macon-Cruzille "Aragonite" from 40 to 80 year-old Chardonnay vines grown on thin soils of mineral-rich clay over crystallized limestone. Both are sensational. And a new vintage has arrived of the lovely Methode Traditionelle "Saint Geneviève" that Julien makes from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 20% Gamay grown at the Clos - it's a delicious and well-priced alternative to Champagne!
From Beaujolais, two new wines from Julien have arrived, the 2015 Beaujolais "Les Pierres Bleues," from very old vines on a volcanic outcropping in Bully, and the dense and complex 2015 Chenas, "Ultimatum Climat." And new inventory has arrived of the extraordinary 2014 Beaujolais-Leynes "Haut de Balmont," from a small parcel of 90 year-old Gamay vines of various old varieties in Leynes, just south of Pouilly-Fuissé. The parcel is at 1200 ft in altitude, with granite soils, giving a light but remarkably intense wine at 11.5% alcohol. Anyone who appreciates great Beaujolais should try these wines! Completing our collection from Julien are two lovely whites, the 2015 Macon-Villages, a delicious Macon from organic parcels in Viré-Clessé, Montbellet and Chardonnay and a very elegant new cuvée, the 2015 Bourgogne Blanc "En Rimont" made from 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. Both these wines offer a purity, freshness and complexity rarely found in less expensive white Burgundies. Please Note: All the reds in todays offering are bottled without added SO2 and the whites receive a minimal dosage, usually between 10 and 20mg per liter. These are beautifully made natural wines that deserve your attention!
(Read on for a bit of technical detail from Julien: "We use the most natural methods possible to vinify our wines: using natural yeasts, no sulphur, no enzymes and no chemical additives. The wooden vats are cleaned thoroughly beforehand, and they are scrubbed with marc de Bourgogne to stimulate the yeasts. During the harvest, which is all done by hand and placed in small containers, we sort the grapes meticulously in order not to damage them during their journey to the winery. For our red wines, we carry out a semi-carbonic maceration, using a very precise method that we have perfected over three generations. The basic principle is to create a multi-layered ‘cake’ built up of of alternate layers of whole clusters and destemmed grapes. The latter will produce the first juice, which will flow out, start fermenting, and thus activate the natural yeasts (with the sugars), which gives the body and smoothness that we are looking for in our wines. At the same time, because the vat is saturated with CO2, an intracellular fermentation also takes place, which brings the elegant floral aromas (rose and peony) that are typical of pinot noir. Then, after four or five days, we do a very light pumping over as well as a punching down of the cap to a depth of around twenty centimetres. The aim of this is to release the sugars and yeasts; that’s the starting signal for the fermentation, which we want to be long so that we can accompany it serenely. All our red wines are then matured in barrels or wooden vats. We do not touch the wine until Easter. We do the racking when the moon is both waning and descending, in order for the wine to be as calm as possible. This is done in order to avoid having to filter the wines. Then they are assembled in one vat per cuvee and left to rest for two full moons. Unless absolutely necessary, we do not add any SO2 to the reds before bottling.
The white wines are matured in large vats in order to maintain their freshness and the CO2 level and to avoid having any oaky overtones, which we are not looking for in our wines.")
Made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2015s here are extraordinary, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, earth, stone and musk and hints of mint, chocolate and spice. The palate is bright and intense with balckberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long mineral finish. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2015 Manganite is a young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL
The Vignes du Maynes "Cuvée Auguste" is a superb Burgundy made from massale selection Pinot Fin planted in 1964. The parcel, high on the slope in Cruzille, is on Bathonian limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica. Yields of 20 hl/ha, semi-carbonic fermentation, with zero additives, bottled under nitrogen. 2015 is a superb vintage for the Cuvée Auguste! The wine shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and wild strawberry with hints of blood orange, violet and brown spice - really lovely. The palate shows a beautiful melange of blackberry, strawberry and tart cherry with citrus, earth and minerals, very sappy and dense. Elegant finish of earth, stone and red fruits. This is a gorgeous wine, and quite delicious now, but cellaring of ten to twenty years should be possible. Congratulations to Julien Guillot for this beautiful Pinot! DL
Carved from vineyards once owned by the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny and farmed organically by Julien Guillot's family since 1954, Clos Vignes du Maynes is one of the most distinctive growers in Burgundy. Aragonite comes from 40- to 80-year-old vines high on the slope, on thin soils of clay, crystallized limestone, and laced with other minerals. This wine is incredibly aromatic upon opening with aromas of golden pear, green apple, apricot, white grapefruit, honeysuckle, and bergamot; there is a hint of earthy heather honey and butterscotch. On the palate it is quite rich and luscious, and much more tropical and salty than in years past. In fact, if tasted blind, I could see this being mistaken for a great Chardonnay from the Jura as it has fantastic acidity, and is beautifully textured, long, and mineral. On day two the aromas have softened a bit, and the palate has gained an added savory note that contributes to a still stunningly long finish. The 2015 Aragonite is not to be missed. Tim Gagnon
The 2014 Sainte-Geneviève is a superb Champagne method sparkling wine made with 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay grown at the Clos des Vignes du Maynes. The wine shows lovely aromas of white and red fruits, spiced pear and honey. The palate is creamy and full, with pear, a hint of red currant, honey, stone and brown spice with fabulous length. This is a beautiful living wine from soils that have never been treated with herbicides, pesticides or modern fertilizers. Highly recommended.
Julien Guillot's 2015 "Les Pierres Bleues" is a gorgeous Beaujolais combining elegance and structure with beautiful fruit, for current drinking and medium-term cellaring. The vines are more than 100 years old, located in the commune of Bully on an ancient volcanic rift. The subsoil is limestone with sandy clay and dark blue metamorphic rocks, giving a strong salinity to the wine. The vineyard is in organic/biodynamic farming and the wine is produced in the Vignes du Maynes carbonic method with zero sulfur added. Deep red/black color: slight reduction then bright blackberry fruit, violet, graphite, earth, licorice and citrus. The palate shows lush blackberry and raspberry fruit, creamy and sapid but backed with firm acidity, with violet, earth and citrus notes that continue in the long supple finish. Really delicious and nicely balanced for a 2015 at 12.5 % alcohol - drink now or cellar for 5 to 8 years for a mature experience. David Lillie
Julien Guillot makes this Chenas from purchased, organically grown grapes, with a label (which we wish he would change) designed for the Copenhagen climat conference in 2009. Unfiltered, no added sulfite. The 2015 version of the Chenas "Ultimatum Climat" is a deep and profound Beaujolais that is delicious now but should improve over the next five to eight years. The wine shows aromas of blackberry and red currant liqueur with violet, cocoa and earth lifted by bright acidity. The palate is rich and textured with berry liqueur, earth and citrus, very supple and sappy. The finish is long with earthy black fruits, stone and citrus with firm acidity. This will be perfect with charcuterie, grilled chicken or pork, or cellar for 3 to five years and drink until 2025.
Julien Guillot of the Clos des vignes du Maynes makes this beautiful Beaujolais from a small parcel of 90 year-old Gamay vines of various old varieties in Leynes, just south of Pouilly-Fuissé. The parcel is at 1200 ft in altitude, with granite soils, giving a light but remarkably intense wine at 11.5% alcohol. The wine shows aromas of ripe blackberry, violets and earth, with hints of citrus and spice. Blackberry, plum and strawberry on the palate with firm citrusy acids, earth and mineral flavors. This is an outstanding natural Beaujolais - serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and full-flavored cheeses. David Lillie
Julien Guillot at Vignes du Maynes makes this elegant white Burgundy from an organic parcel on crumbly limestone that has 15% Pinot Gris and 85% Chardonnay. Just delicious in 2015, the "En Rimont" shows aromas of dried pear and apple, almond and stone with hints of spice, citrus and honeysuckle. The palate is quite elegant with earthy white fruits, hay, almond, white pepper and citrus. Quite supple and pure (vinified with minimal SO2) this is a very food-friendly wine that will accompany full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, chicken and white meats and a wide variety of cheeses. Lovely wine! David Lillie