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The Loire Valley continues to amaze us with the quality, diversity and general food-friendly deliciousness of its wines! Our hit-parade of new releases includes: The re-release of the fabulous and almost mature 2008 Olga Raffault Chinon "Les Picasses;" the ripe and rocky 2015 Luneau-Papin Muscadet "Terre de Pierre" (chosen by Eric Asimov in the recent NY Times "20 under $20); Superb biodynamic 2015 Chinons from Chateau de Coulaine, only available in the US at Chambers Street; the return of the earthy and soulful Bourgueil from Domaine de la Chevalerie; the beautiful bargains from Alain Boré at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou, and more. Stay tuned for Part Three as new vintages from Stéphane Guion and Patrick Lambert are arriving soon!
This fascinating wine is from a relatively new parcel, La Butte de la Roche, high on a dome of igneous rock (serpentinite) with quartz stones overlooking the marshes of Goulaine. First produced in 2008 from vines planted in 1974 which are being tended by Pierre Luneau with organic methods. The serpentine rock creates a very poor soil, giving wines that are normally somewhat austere and marked by intense minerality. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with wild yeasts; the wine then spends about 18 months sur-lie before bottling. The 2015 "Terre de Pierre" shows the ripeness of the vintage with pear and creamy citrus aromas and hints of stone and dried herbs. The palate is round and supple with pear, almond and citrus flavors, and the terroir kicks in nicely with intense mineral notes and firm acidity that tingles the palate. The finish is long with viscous white fruits and saline minerals. Serve this lovely Muscadet now with shellfish, cod and sole or cellar a few years and serve with monkfish, lobster and fish and chicken in sauce. David Lillie
The last shipment of this beautiful Muscadet has finally arrived - we're very happy to have this lovely wine and sensational value back in stock! Domaine Louvetrie "Les Houx" (formerly known as "Hermine D'Or") is from a great parcel of thin sandy clay soils, rich with silica, quartz and iron, over a bedrock of gneiss and clay. Kept on the lees for 12 months. Normally one of the most scintillating and mineral of Muscadet, the 2015 is riper and rounder but equally delicious in a fuller-bodied more forward style. The wine shows lovely aromas of ripe pear, stone and anise that open nicely with aeration. The palate is round and supple but framed in firm acidity with ripe white fruits, citrus, stone and licorice and there's a nice mineral kick in the finish. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next few years, and will accompany oysters and grilled seafood, from flounder to monkfish, roast chicken and mild cheeses. David Lillie
This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons, a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, produces lovely, classic Muscadet. A wine to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. In 2016 the majority of the grapes were lost to frost, but the portion that remained made a beautiful wine showing pretty herbal, citrus, and white fruit aromas. The palate is elegant and bright with pear, quince, lime-flower and lemon backed by silky lemony acidity and mineral flavors. Perfect with oysters, mild flavored fish and chicken dishes and goat cheeses. David Lillie
About 40 kilometers south of Saumur, on clay soils with silex and quartz over limestone "marnes" are the vines of Domaine des Terres Blanches in Oiron. Celebrated by Curnonsky in the early 20th century as a great terroir for Chenin Blanc, the vineyard was purchased by Benoit and Céline Blet in 2004 and is conducted in organic and biodynamic farming. We tasted with Benoit twice in January and February 2017 and found the wines to be unique and delicious. The 2015 Anjou Blanc "Les Hospices" is a delightful Chenin showing complex, bright aromas of citrus, pear, stone, almond, mint and honey. The palate is lean and mineral with white fruits, earth and citrus flavors, quite unique and refreshing. The finish is long and lively with citrus, herbal and mineral notes. This is a delicious Chenin Blanc from a unique terroir and great farming - great value, too! David Lillie
We love Cabernet Franc on Thanksgiving and we love the Raffault "Les Picasses!" The Domaine Olga Raffault Chinon "les Picasses" is one of the most famous wines in the region - a wine that is delicious young but that cellars beautifully for ten to twenty years, even longer in a good vintage. Under the direction of Eric de la Vigerie and Sylvie Raffault, quality here has been maintained, and improved, with the adoption of organic farming. The vines averaged about 40 years-old in 2008, a vintage that was cool much of the summer but after a sunny and warm September the grapes were harvested on October 10th with beautiful maturity and concentration, combined with the firm acidity found in this vintage.The wine shows a slightly mature red/black color with aromas of ripe blackberry, strawberry and prune with, orange rind, earth and musk. The palate is supple and deep with ripe blackberry liqueur and hints of pepper, cocoa, licorice, earth and minerals. The finish is long and sappy with firm acidity. This great Chinon in mid-life cries out for a nice steak, coq au vin (or turkey!) or pork ribs. Drink now after decanting or cellar for ten to twenty more years.
The 2011 Olga Raffault Les Picasses is a softer "drink-young" version of this wine, although it may be delicious twenty years from now as well. Deep garnet/black color, aromas of earthy strawberry, blackberry, prune and smoked meat, with violet, licorice and cocoa. the palate is fairly soft, with ripe berry-fruit liqueur, citrus and earth. Ripe and supple but with firm acidity. Enjoy now, slightly cool, with roast chicken, pork chops, steak, lapin aux pruneaux...or cellar indefinitely.
This is a sensational "les Picasses" from Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure at Chateau de Coulaine, who have been practising organic and biodynamic agriculture since taking charge in 1988. The parcel is at the top of the vineyard with southern exposure, on the classic clay/limestone "tuffeau" in Beaumont-en-Veron. This quite dense and powerful Chinon is aged in one-third new barrels and barrels of one and two wines.The wine shows a dark red/black color with beautiful aromas of ripe strawberry and black-raspberry with earth, citrus and spice, really deep and pretty. The palate is quite dense and a bit tight, with dark berry fruits framed in a touch of oak. The fruit is elegant and deep and the wine finishes with black fruits, earth, firm acidity and elegant tannins. This is a "serious" Chinon of terroir that will age beautifully, best 2022 to 2035. David Lillie
The Chateau de Coulaine has been in continuous production since 1300 (AD, that is) and is now directed by Etienne de Bonaventure who took charge in 1988 and quickly converted the domaine to organic and Biodynamic agriculture. Only available in the US at Chambers Street, the 2014 La Diablesse (named after Marie Madeleine de Vassé, Marquise de la Rochebousseau, known for her nasty temper and the murder of her brother-in-law in the time of Louis the Fifteen) is a beautiful old-vine Chinon from clay/limestone and sandy clay soils near "Les Picasses." The wine shows the beautful fruit and perfect balance of the 2014 Chinons, with a bright red/black color and aromas of ripe raspberry with violet and spice, quite cool and vivid, with hints of earth and musk. The palate is dense and ripe but not at all heavy, at 12.5% alcohol, showing elegant red and black fruits with hints of menthol, graphite and earth; ending with firm acidity and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a very pretty Chinon showing great depth and balance from the 40 to 80 year-old vines. Decant a few hours if drinking now, and serve a bit cool, best 2022 - 2032. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic vineyards on their varied terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. The lovely 2012 Chevalerie shows vivid aromas of berry liqueurs, bitter chocolate, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense and supple with ripe blackberry, cocoa, earth and mineral flavors balanced by cool acidity. The finish is long and lush with blackberry, prune, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-school Bourgueil to drink over the next 15 years - delicious now perhaps best from 2020 to 2025.
This is a delightful wine from Philippe Tessier in Cheverny - a delicious blend of Cot, Gamay and Pineau d'Aunis that is perfectly balanced, round and supple with intriguing berry fruits, somehow showing what we love about all three of these grapes. Only a few cases were available, so grab a few bottles, chill slightly and enjoy! DL
50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau grown by Alain and Christine Bore, the sixth generation on their organic estate in Anjou. This unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Grolleau is sensational in 2016 showing a bright red/black color and lush aromas of ripe blackberry aand raspberry with dark chocolate, violet, brown spice and citrus. The palate is supple and juicy with deep berry fruits backed by bright acidity - a great combination of ripeness and bright refreshment. The finish is long and lush. Serve this super-delicious wine quite cool with charcuterie, mild cheeses, chicken and pork dishes - just about anything. Drink happily over the next 2 years, highly recommended! Did we mention that it's a fantastic value? DL
This humble wine has been a local favorite here at Chambers Street since we started working with Alain Bore a couple of years ago. It's not like many of the Gamay offerings we typically have from the Loire... it's made with a more traditional maceration, and has some tannin as a result. Though still providing bright red fruit and zippy acidity, it also shows some black cherry, and isn't too light. Medium bodied, graceful and pretty, while at the same time structured and dark as well. Truly one of the best values at Chambers Street! Eben Lillie
"A Rosé Can Bloom in Winter, too" said Eric Asimov in the NY Times (Jan 26, 2011) and the Fresche 2016 Rosé de Loire is the perfect candidate. 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau, organic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Beautiful aromas of ripe raspberry, peach and rose with a hint of spice. The palate is lush and dense with raspberry and red currant liqueur backed with firm acidity and mineral flavors. The finish is long and lovely with ripe berry fruits and citrusy acids. This full-bodied rosé is insanely delicious and a great value. Serve with pork chops, roast chicken, middle eastern foods, salads and cheeses or just sip by itself. DL
Fresche bubbles! This is a blend of Cab and Grolleau, with no dosage. There's very subtle amount of fruit here, but it betrays it's rosey hue and drinks more like a sparkling white, with more stones and minerality than red fruit. It's totally dry, and refreshing, with a bit of structure in the back palate. All in all, a fantastic sparkling option for only $15! Eben Lillie
The blend for "les annees folles" has changed over the years - it might have been 2009 when it was first made from Chenin Blanc and Pineau d'Aunis. The 2015 version is sensational, showing a slightly pink bronze color and lovely Chenin aromas of pear, almond and citrus tinged with raspberry and floral notes, really intriguing. The palate is creamy and bright with white fruits, peach, a bit of berry fruit and nice citrusy acidity. The finish is clean and refreshing. This is a beautiful natural wine - zero SO2 and 100% delicious!