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What's an Alsace section without a Gewurztraminer! This one has the perfect level of sweetness. It's not cloying or sticky, but is instead balanced and fresh, with white flowers and other classic Gewurz aromatics, a rich and textured palate, and great underlying acidity which lends well to the dreamy and majestic finish. Laurent is very careful about sulfur use, with minimal amounts added, so this may not be a wine to age (due to the residual sugar), but why wait? Drink on it's own or with any of your favorite spicy dishes. Or try it with a trout pate or cured salmon, where the slight density and sweetness play off against the higher salt content and perfectly cushion the drier, smoked flavor of the fish. Lox bagels for Sunday brunch, anyone? Eben Lillie/Karina Mackow
This is the first wine from Kumpf et Meyer made using Biodynamic methods. Julien Albertus makes this wine from direct press Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Gris. The initial pour from "Restons Nature" resembles The Matrix - with columns of uniformed beads racing to the surface, then bursting with aromas of wet stone and tangy citrus. By the second glass, the lees contact creates a thick haze like something from the Swamp Thing. This pet-nat is certainly a double feature. The palate offers juicy orchard fruit packed with acidity then viscous, pulpy citrus fruit and river rocks . For best results, keep the bottle upright and resist the urge to stir the sediment. Serve with fried chicken, cornbread, or on its own! Amanda Bowman
From four hectares of massale-selection, high density plantings ranging from 50 to 100 years of age in the lieu-dits of Chenes, Corcelette, and les Martillets. Vigneron Jean-Claude Chanudet works the vineyards organically but does not seek certification. The 2014 Clos de Lys shows complex aromas of strawberry and black cherry, pepper, blood orange and musk with hints of earth and graphite. The palate is dense but not at all heavy with equal parts dark fruits and earthy flavors that continue in the long finish. After long aeration, the aromas are more focused and elegant while the palate remains a bit austere with earthy berry fruits, quite well structured, predicting good aging potential. Fans of Lapierre or Foillard should definitely try the wines from Chamonard, which are certainly among the finest of the Chauvet-style Beaujolais - this is a lovely natural Morgon that will benefit from decanting if drinking now, and will probably show best (as usual with Chamonard) at between five and ten years of age.
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are always among our favorite Beaujolais, and we're very happy to finally have the lovely 2014s in the store! A difficult growing season that was saved by good weather at the end of summer, 2014 produced beautifully balanced and very expressive wines in Beaujolais. The Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows floral, spiced strawberry and blackberry fruit, with hints of graphite, earth and citrus. Bright plum, strawberry and black fruits on the palate with rose and citrus, textured and mineral with nice length of berry fruits, bright acidity and earth in the finish. This is a lovely, beautifully balanced Chiroubles, at 12.5% alcohol, that is delicious now, best perhaps 2020 - 2025. DL
This is an extremely pretty Morgon, showing subtle high-toned black raspberry and tart cherry aromas with plum, violet, citrus and brown spice, really lovely. The black and red fruits continue on the palate with complex notes of blood orange, earth, mint and spice. The wine is dense and structured but bright and balanced, finishing with refreshing acidity and mineral flavors. Delicious now, this should be superb in three to five years, and should drink well till 2027. DL
The 2015 Descombes Brouilly shows a deep red/black color, with aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry liqueur, with violet, black pepper and citrus - quite lush and pretty. Dark and earthy black fruits on the supple, velvety palate, with good length of sappy fruit that is balanced by refreshing acidity in the finish. This is certainly one of the prettiest and most balanced of the 2015s, really quite delicious in the riper style of the vintage. DL
Georges Descombes, one of the finest producers in Beaujolais, captured the lush fruit of the 2015 vintage with moderate alcohol (13%), lovely aromas and silky, supple fruit on the palate. Blackberry, red currant and violet aromas with hints of meat and chocolate; the palate is quite ripe and pretty with nice balancing acidity and freshness - we miss the more delicate, complex fruit of the 2014, but this is a delicious Morgon in a riper style that will drink beautifully over the next five years. Serve with charcuterie, grilled pork and roast chicken, slightly chilled. DL
This delicious Regnié shows a vivid red/black color and lush aromas of blackberry liqueur with hints of violet, bitter chocolate and citrus. Ripe, supple berry fruits coat the palate, which is quite well-balanced for a 2015, blackberry and black cherry with lovely length of fruit lingering in the finish which is lifted by firm acidity. This is a great success for the vintage and will provide joyful drinking for the next five years! DL
(We're getting to the end of Ducroux's complex and supernatural Exspectatia 2015 - be sure to grab some before it disapears. Happily we have 2015 Patience and 2016 Exspectatia on the way.) Christian Ducroux' 5 hectare estate has been certified organic and biodynamic since 1985, and has operated as a nearly self-sufficient farm, producing its own fertilizer and compost, and plowing and harvesting almost entirely without machinery. The vines average over 60 years of age and are replaced by massale selection, giving extremely low yields. The 2015 Exspectatia (the wine formerly known as Regnié) shows a deep opaque red/black color. Slight reduction, then vivid aromas of blackberry liqueur, blood orange, rose, black pepper, brown spices, earth and licorice. On the palate the wine is very complex with blackberry and red currant fruit, earth, spice and citrus with a long intense finish of black fruits and earth that lingers on the palate. Only 12.5% alcohol, even in this very ripe vintage. Bravo to Christian Ducroux for his beautiful farming and for this complex, expressive natural wine! Re-tasted in October 2016, the wine showed beautifully, with remarkable complexity, intense aromas of ripe blackberry, violet, musk, pepper, licorice and earth, that continue with a dense, earthy texture on the palate. This is a living, changeable and profound wine of terroir that expresses the incredible farming and winemaking of Christian Ducroux - certainly one of the finest natural wines of France.(Decanting advised, no added sulfur - consume on the day opened.)
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's 2014 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.
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 grilled foods this summer, or cellar for 3 to five years and drink until 2025.
The 2015 Beaujolais Villages is a selection of old vines (50 to 80 years-old) from several plots with a density of 11,000 plants per hectare. Mostly mid-slope, south-east facing early ripening parcels on sandy granite soils. Whole cluster carbonic fermentation in stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts, maceration of 10 to 12 days, aged on the fine lees for 7 months in concrete vats. 10 mg/liter of SO2 added only before bottling. The wine is an elegant, bright, and pure varietal expression that fills out the palate with dried black cherry, cherry pit, and tangy black raspberry along with top soil and dried herb undertones. A remarkable expression of Beaujolais at an excellent price. Jonas Mendoza
From vines averaging 70 years of age in the lieu-dit "La Croix des Rameaux" on a steep south-west facing slope with various degradations of granite. 90% of fruit was destemmed with a 21 to 24 day cuvaison. The free run and pressed wines were assembled just before final fermentation of sugars. Approximately two weeks later, the wine was transferred into neutral barrels (average age of 10 years) for elevage of 10 months. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2015 La Croix des Rameaux shows a bright red-black color, with meaty aromas of ripe blackberry and earth with a bit of violet and black cherry. The palate is dense and a bit closed, showing deep black fruits with hints of citrus, earth and bitter chocolate, very textured and long. Certainly an impressive wine and better balanced than most 2015s at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. This should be very interesting when mature, best perhaps 2022 to 2030.
Matthieu and Camille Lapierre continue the beautiful work of their father, producing an elegant Morgon in the difficult, very ripe 2015 vintage. The wine shows lovely deep aromas of blackberry liqueur and earth lifted by hints of citrus, violet and mint. The palate is ripe and supple with plum, blackberry, earth, spice and citrus. The finish is ripe, soft and lovely. We would recommend drinking this juicy Morgon, served quite cool, over the next five years, but longer term aging might be possible as well.
2014 proved to be an excellent vintage for many growers in Beaujolais, and we are thrilled to announce the arrival of Joelle and Roland Pignard’s wines! The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of their home in Villié-Morgon. The nose offers plummy, dusty fruit, with hints of cranberry, raspberry seed, and savory herbs. Over time it plumps up a bit showing lovely wild strawberry and morello cherry aromas along with a hint of graphite and a gamey quality. High-toned red berry fruit comes forward on the palate along with damp earth and red cherries backed by silky tannins and a crunchy minerality. Very pretty served quite cool now, but there is no doubt that this would age well over the next few years. Tim Gagnon (Tasted again in November, 2016, the wine shows deeper, sappy cherry fruit that coats the palate, and is much more supple and forward. Really a lovely Morgon that's beginning to open up - delicious right now, this will soften and develop over the next five to eight years.)
While the “regular” Morgon is aged entirely in concrete vats before release, Tradition has an extended elévage in neutral barriques before release (think Griffe du Marquis from Alain Coudert). This serves to add depth to the wine, while also softening and rounding it, making for a very unique expression of the Pignards’ terroir. Exuberant on the nose with bright red and black cherry fruit, red licorice, brown spice, and strawberry compote rising from the glass. The palate is broad and supple with bright red fruit flavors along with a hint of fresh cream, tangerine peel, ample minerality, and fine-grained tannins. This wine is definitely structured to age, probably best in 5-10 years, but is lovely now in its energetic youth paired with steaks, game birds, or pork. Tim Gagnon
The Pignards work 4.5 hectares in and around Morgon and Regnié. Biodynamic farming, natural fermentations and minimal SO2. We've walked through their vineyards, which are absolutely beautiful — "wine is made in the vineyard" say the Pignards and it shows in the gorgeous fruit and mineral character in their wines. The 2015 Beaujolais-Villages is from 40 to 60 year-old vines on decomposed granite soils in high-elevation parcels above Morgon. The wine shows very bright aromas of strawberry and cherry fruit with violet and citrus, quite pure and lovely. The palate is beautifully balanced for a 2015, at 13 % alcohol, with pretty berry fruits backed by saline minerals and firm acidity. This is "gouleyant" - simply delicious and easy-drinking! Serve quite cool with just about anything, and leave a few in the cellar, as this wine has the structure to age for a few years as well.
Roland and Joëlle Pignard make a small quantity of Regnié from fifty year-old vines in a vineyard with clay and stones over granite, always giving a dense and mineral wine. The Pignards made a superb Regnié in 2015, very well balanced, even with the higher ripeness in this sunny vintage. The wine shows deep blackberry, red currant and plum aromas with hints of earth, graphite, violets and citrus peel. There is a lovely melange of black and red fruits on the palate backed by firm acidity and saline mineral flavors, quite full and ripe but nicely balanced at 13 % alcohol. This is a great glass of Beaujolais in the richer style of 2015 - delicious now but should develop nicely over the next five to eight years. And it's a fabulous value at $18.99! DL
Jean-Paul Brun's Côte de Brouilly, from Domaine des Terres Dorées, is always a lovely wine, showing unique and very pretty aromas in a medium-bodied style. In the very ripe vintage of 2015, the wine shows elegant red currant, tart cherry and blackberry aromas with hints of earth, meat, citrus and pepper. Blackberry and black cherry fruit continue on the very earthy and mineral palate. Jean-Paul's Burgundy vinification seems to have suited the vintage, as the wine is well balanced, though certainly darker and more structured than usual. Serve cool with a steak or grilled pork and lamb, or cellar for three to five years as the wine will definitely benefit from aging. DL
Jean-Paul Brun releases small quantities of this Beaujolais rosé each year, and it's always a treat. Strawberries, bright red fruit, and a tangy side that contributes to its joyful drinkability. The finish is mineral and crisp, with a very subtle tartness that keeps the impression of a flavorful but overall dry rosé. Eben Lillie
This is an oustanding Pomerol from Chateau Bellegrave, which was in conversion to organic certification in 2010. While it shows the depth and structure of this excellent vintage in Bordeaux, the wine is surprisingly supple and forward making it a delicious wine for current drinking. The aromas are ripe and rich with black fruits, cassis and blackberry with sous-bois, cocoa, spice and floral notes. The palate is firm but round, deep and elegant with complex fruit flavors backed by earth and mineral notes with good freshness and silky tannins. Decant this lovely wine a few hours in advance if possible or cellar for five to fifteen years
This is the most important wine in Michel’s line-up, as it is what Margaux was once known for and what it can be again if winemakers revert to the old-school traditions. It is sourced from older vines (some over 100 years old!) and is rife with aromas of purple flowers, blackberry, espresso, and cocoa. The palate is big-boned, yet has very pretty fruit and spice coming through before a long, high-toned finish. In terms of aging, this wine seems indestructible, but holds true that the wines from Clos du Jaugueyron are more than enjoyable at every stage of their life. It is serious and contemplative with unparalleled beauty. Give this a decant before dinner, and you’ll be thrilled. Tim Gagnon
Michel Théron moved to Bordeaux in 1988 from the Languedoc in the south of France to study winemaking. His original plan was to complete his studies there, and then move back to the Languedoc to take over the family estate, but love prevailed when he met his Bordelaise wife. Not long after, the couple purchased a small parcel in the village of Cantenac in the Haut-Médoc in 1993 and produced their first vintage in 1994. The estate is now certified biodynamic and covers 7 hectares in Cantenac, Arsac, and Margaux on soils of gravel, sand, and some clay. This beautiful Haut-Médoc is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with sumptuous red berry fruits, a hint of smoke, cedar, and fresh tobacco on the nose. The palate is rather lifted, showing vibrant fruit and a touch of earth, and it is very approachable. It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon
From clay and gravel soils over limestone in the Côtes du Bourg comes this lovely Bordeaux, roughly 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, certified organic and Biodynamic and produced entirely without sulfur-dioxide or other additives. Pure juice! The 2015 Sans Sulfites Ajoutés is an opaque red/black color with lovely aromas of ripe cassis, red currant and spiced plum with hints of cocoa and earth. The palate is dense and supple with blackberry liqueur, plum skin and ripe red fruits, finishing with firm, refreshing acidity. This is a pure and fruit-forward Bordeaux that's ready to drink - serve cool with anything from Coq au Vin to Steak Frites and flavorful cheeses, or simply enjoy by itself. DL
A delicious wine from Fronsac, next to Pomerol and St. Emilion, in Bordeaux. Paul Barre has been applying biodynamic principles since 1990 and has been certified DEMETER since 1998. Paul Barre no longer uses any pesticides and herbicides in the vineyard and introduced horse plowing in 2013. A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the wine displays a bouquet of ripe dark plums, cassis and menthol notes. With bright acidity, integrated tannins, and smooth texture, the wine has a lovely structure with a persistent finish. A fantastic wine to say the least, I truly enjoyed it. You may drink it now or age it for a several years (+5 years). Caroline Coursant
Biodynamic farming, native yeasts, wild fermentations, good value –all phrases not typically associated with Bordeaux. Yet, each year the Hubert family provides us with just that in their staple cuvee from the Côte de Blaye. The Cru Bourgeois is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Malbec. Generously aromatic owing to the rich clay soils in which it is grown, the 2015 offers crushed violets, cassis, and rhubarb on the nose. The palate shows the warm vintage with finesse. Cascades of ripe red fruit, blackcurrant, and spice, with supple tannins and an undercurrent of chalky minerality. This is a great addition to the dinner table alongside grilled meat or sipped on its own. Amanda Bowman
Didier Michaud works 1.7 hectares in the Medoc with 30 to 100 year-old vines on limestone with thin soils of clay with sand and stones. He has old vines of Merlot Queue Rouge and massalle selection Cabernet Sauvignon, farmed organically with just a little compost and shallow plowing. Vinification with wild yeasts, no extraction and usually no added sulfur. This is one of the most "natural" and deliciously old-fashioned wines of Bordeaux. DL .... This is quintessential left bank Bordeaux, with black fruit and cassis notes, fascinating minerality and integrated tannin. It has enough elegance to drink young, but should age beautifully as well. It's always a treat to have a wine from a historic region such as Medoc, made naturally, without additives, over extraction, or new wood. This is truly a beautiful wine that seems to me to be an authentic version of what classic old-school Bordeaux was all about. Eben Lillie
This Bordeaux wine from Château Valentin, a Haut-Médoc estate practicing organic farming, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (10%) and Petit Verdot (10%). Hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented in cement vats with native yeasts and then aged in oak for 12 months, with light filtration (egg white fining). On the palate, the wine is delicious, showing a vibrant bouquet of black currant, berries and black cherries with light savory herbs and tobacco leaf notes. Well-balanced, the wine displays a lively minerality (thanks to the vineyard's ancient glacial soils) and elegant tannins. A classic Bordeaux-style wine at a superb price, bring it to your Memorial Day party - it will be a great companion to grilled meats and barbecue. Caroline Coursant
(From half-bottle.) Though not considered a legendary vintage for Yquem, the 1981 has plenty of verve and class to recommend it. The nose shows apricot, orange marmalade, honey and brunt sugar and notes of vanilla. The palate is rich though, perhaps not as unctuous as more lauded vintages, offering flavors of burnt orange, crème brulée, pineapple, and honey. This is mature yet still has plenty of energy and freshness provided by the still lively acidity which carries through on the long and pleasingly bitter finish. John McIlwain
Chateau Couronneau is a certified organic and Biodynamic estate located east of Saint-Emilion and south of Saint-Foy, producing wines in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Saint-Foy apellations. Made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris, the 2016 Bordeaux Blanc shows aromas of pear, fines herbes, citrus and boxwood. The palate is ripe but refreshing with pear, quince, ripe citrus and mineral flavors. This is an outstanding value that shows the organic and Biodynamic vineyard work in the pure fruit and mineral flavors - a delicious and versatile everyday white that will accompany seafood, chicken and pork dishes. DL
ARRIVES MON. 5/22 - Catherine and Jean-Luc Hubert's estate on clay and limestone soils in the Côte du Blaye is certified Biodynamic. For Le Blanc Bonhomme, whole clusters of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon undergo a 24 hour maceration before a slow pressing and wild-yeast fermentation. The wine shows ripe aromas of pear, fig and citrus fruits with honeysuckle and brioche. The palate is round and full with white fruits, herbs, fig and mineral flavors. This will be a lovely aperitif and will accompany fish in sauce, white meats, Asian foods and mild cheeses. This is a versatile and delicious white Bordeaux and a great value!
Amaury Beaufort, with help from his brothers, is making superb natural wines in Tonnerre on steep hillsides with Kimmeridgian soils near the village of Junay. (Northwest of the city of Tonnerre) Cête de Junay is a steep parcel requiring all vineyard work by hand. Yields are about 15 hl/ha, at 11.5% in 2015. The wine shows delicate but complex aromas of lime-flower, dried white fruits, almond and stone with hints of chamomile and dried herbs. The palate is crystalline and bone dry with citrus, stone and dried pear - light, but with great density and length and finishing with stone, anise, pear and lemon peel over saline minerals. No added SO2. Congratualtions to the Beauforts for this unique and scintillating wine! Serve with oysters, sushi, fresh goat cheeses, grilled sole or cod.
From a .58 HA parcel of vines planted in 1970-75. Fermented with native yeasts, aged 80% in tank 20% cask. The 2014 Samuel Billaud Mont de Milieu is floral, yellow-fruited, generous and pretty on the nose. There's a fine tension between the pretty citrus flavors and a snappy oyster shell saltiness on the brisk, energetic palate. A fabulous Chablis and a good value! Enjoy with fluke crudo, or garlicky steamed clams. John McIlwain
Domaine Anne Bavard-Brooks is located in Puligny-Montrachet and has been organic and biodynamic since 2005. The "La Combe" vineyard is in the village of Puligny with 35 year-old vines on silt and clay soils over limestone, 200 cases made. The 2015 is a lovely, complex, white Burgundy showing ripe aromas with hints of exotic fruit, citrus, pear and stone. The palate is round and dense with flavors of pear, fines-herbes, almond, citrus, honeysuckle and brown spice. The finish is long and ripe with citrus and stone flavors that linger. This is a quite complex and well-balanced Burgundy that will accompany a wide variety of seafood and poultry dishes and mild cheeses. Drinking beautifully now, this will cellar nicely over the next 5 years or more. Excellent value!
Sea spray, green apple, white flowers, fine stony detail on palate; cool lifted, slightly herbal finish. Plenty of flint in the tank still. Drink and hold. John McIlwain
White flowers, lemon balm, honeysuckle, apple blossom on the nose; also Meyer lemon peel and acacia honey. A discreet kiss of wood. Ripe but focused, great balance, bracing tension between ripe stone fruit and dusty minerality. Real poise and another data point for grower over vintage.
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
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Macon-Villages from certified organic parcels in Chardonnay, Montbellet and Viré-Clessé on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. Incredibly aromatic, with wildflower, lime blossom, green apple peel, beeswax and spiced poached apple and pear. Supple and ripe in this rather warm vintage with 13.5% alcohol, it’s balanced by excellent acidity and minerality with more orchard fruit, apricot, and salted peach. Remarkably textured and long with succulent fruit, toasted almond, citrus, and saline minerals and pear on the finish. Totally unlike the usual Macon Villages, this is a delightful wine that will accompany grilled fish, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses - and it's delicious to enjoy by itself. TG & DL
As easy as it is to forget the quality of Auxey-Duresses Blanc, it's just as easy to overlook the sensational quality of Domaine Lafouge. The Auxey-Duresses Blanc Les Hautés (from the lieu dit situated next to Les Vireuils in Meursault) displays a fine balance of white floral aromas (acacia and honeysuckle) with white orchard fruits on the nose. The palate is racy and mineral with pear and nectarine fruit vying for attention with a good degree of mineral cut. This is pretty and a fine value in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
"Les Boutonniers" is contiguous with Meursault "Meix Chavaux" on shallow soils of clay, high in iron, over the limestone bedrock, usually giving a somewhat lean and very "mineral" white Burgundy. The 2015 shows very floral aromas with pear, citrus and stone. The palate is crystalline and dense with subtle white fruits leading to a long finish with citrus peel, spice and mineral flavors. This is a lovely, very refreshing Burgundy to enjoy with grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses. It's delicious now and will cellar nicely for eight to ten years. DL
The Meursault lieu-dit Les Casses Têtes is located on the hillside above the premier cru Les Gouttes d'Or and next to Le Tesson. The soils are thin and rocky producing wines of great energy and lift. The 2015 Lafouge is a very pale gold color with aromas of wet stone, pear, fresh herbs and lemon peel with hints of oak - showing a bit more richness and fruit aroma than usual in this ripe vintage. The palate is crystalline and vibrant with stony acidity and flavors of marcona almonds, bitter lemon, dried pear, anise and saline minerals. This is a beautifully structured Meursault to drink now in its rather intense youth with crab, broiled sole, flounder and cod, or cellar for ten to fifteen years or more. Highly recommended. David Lillie
From eighty year-old vines, in mid-slope on thin well-drained clay/limestone soils, the 2015 Meix Chavaux shows elegant pear, lemon, lime and floral aromas. The palate is rich and ripe with white fruits and exotic citrus covering the chalky core, with firm acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. Serve with full-flavored fish dishes, poultry and white meats, mild cheeses. This is a beautiful young Meursault that is delicious now and over the next ten years.
While there are few bargains remaining in the Côte d'Or, one source of gently priced and vibrant Burgundy is the commune of St. Romain, whose location and soils produce wines of fine minerality and verve. The vineyards, comprised of limestone, clay, and marls produce Chardonnay, which is bright, vibrant and nervy. The 2014 vintage is floral, yellow-fruited and a hint leesy on the nose with hints of nectarine and pear skin. On the palate the wine is amalgam of ripe pear, fine acids, zesty acidity, and has a savory sense of minerality. There's great energy here with a pungent core of stoniness beneath the fruit. John McIlwain
This is a pretty Chablis from Patrick Piuze, one of the youngest stars of Chablis. This wine comes from a single vineyard near 1er Cru Forêts. This Chablis offers a nice balance of fruit and acidity despite the warmth of the 2015 vintage, with a bouquet of ripe fruit and spices. Stone fruit, apple and lemon are the primary fruit flavors with pretty musky notes on the nose and hints of vanilla on the palate. The minerality (clay and limestone) and acidity are quite good. This is a smooth, well-balanced Chablis with a nice finish and a good length. More refined and fresher than the Terroir Découverte, the wine can be served on its own or with a nice dinner. Caroline Coursant
Beaune 1er Cru "Les Coucherias" is high on the slope on the site of an old quarry and much of the sub-soil is limestone tailings, permitting root penetration and drainage, with a topsoil of mixed clay and limestone "marnes blanches." In biodynamic agriculture since 1979, the vineyard is a south-facing semi-circle—a very warm spot giving a full, ripe wine. Light gold/brass color. Lovely aromas of pear, quince, lime-flower and ripe citrus with a bit of oak. The palate is elegant and supple, with white fruits, almond, citrus and caramel framed in firm acidity and mineral flavors, showing good ripeness but finishing with firm stony acidity. Lovely wine. Delicious now, this should age gracefully till 2030 and beyond. DL
Jean-Marie Chaland owns two estates in Viré (Macon), Domaine Sainte Barbe and Domaine des Chazelles, both certified organic since 2006. The Sainte Barbe "la Perriere" is made from 35 year-old grapes from a half-hectare parcel near Viré on clay/limestone soils, never treated with herbicides. The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified with wild yeasts, the wine ages for 18 months, half in barrel, have in cuve inox. The 2014 shows elegant, subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, stone, melon, pineapple and honeysuckle. The palate is very mineral, with stone and citrusy acids, dense pear and herbal flavors and terrific length. This should be decanted or opened in advance, or cellar for five to ten years. A lovely white Burgundy at a reasonable price! Serve with asparagus, terrines, scallops, monkfish, halibut. D Lillie
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.
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
"Most Champagne" Agrapart told us "is 95% juice, and 5% other things: water, sugar, sulfur, and yeast." With this wine, the aim is to make a Champagne that is 100% "jus de raisin," which requires a second fermentation using cellar yeast and must from the current vintage rather than the sugar and neutral yeast combination used to create bubbles in virtually every other Champagne under the sun. This is the fifth time Agrapart has made this cuvée, and it's the first time he's been allowed to label it as "Champagne" because in every other edition, the CIVC (Champagne's regulating body) did not deem it Champagne-like enough to earn appellation status. Last year it was Agrapart's Complantée bottling that had us sprinting for our email to make a reservation with the supplier. This year it was Expérience. As memorable a bottle as you'll ever taste, this wine has gorgeous, chalky minerality, impeccable balance despite its lack of dosage, and vivid aromas of sweet, ripe Chardonnay. Not necessarily a Champagne to be cellar-ed, but a Champagne to be reveled in over the course of a meal.
Tasted in January 2017. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length.
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, harvested early at 9% alcohol from NE facing parcels. Elegant white fruit aromas. The palate is very expressive with white fuits, minerals and herbal notes, rich but balanced. (Tasted with 5 grams dosage, our disgorgement is Brut Nature.)
This is classic Beaufort, balanced, rounded and finely filigreed with a judicious dosage. In truth, the 2009 Ambonnay Grand Cru tastes very dry for a Brut, closer to an Extra Brut in style. It shows a burnished golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a finely beaded and generous mousse. The nose offers notes of brioche, cardamom, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, white flowers, and honeysuckle. The palate is powerful and broad, accented with aromas of Cortland apples, apple pie, and nutmeg that lead to a lingering, herbal finish. The 2009 Brut shows the pedigree of its Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit. It's delicious now, but it also has real aging potential. (Lot #09A. Disgorged 9/2015.) David Salinas
This 2009 is 100% Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit and this really comes across, in the form of stately minerality and structure. It shines a vibrant golden yellow in the glass and sports a finely-beaded mousse. Aromas of spearmint, peppermint, lillies, hazelnuts, and spiced apple custard float up from the glass. The palate is both round, weighty, and alive with minerality with notes of yellow plums and Cortland apples that continue through to an elegant finish.
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear and herbal notes - lovely now and should cellar beautifully.
This is a new version of the Polisy Brut Reserve, coming from the 2013 vintage and produced with zero added SO2. As with all the Beaufort wines, there is terrific length and concentration due to their many years of organic farming and low yields. The lack of SO2 in the wine also contributes to its purity, and the Kimmeridgian soil gives a wonderful, crystalline minerality. The Beaufort family planted vines in Polisy in the 1960s and the results we've tasted since our relationship with Beaufort began have been stunning. Great value — and a great food wine as well, serve with fish, white meats and full-flavored cheeses...
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “the aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...")
The 1998 Ambonnay Brut has long been a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brüléee transition to notes of Jonagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! David Salinas ((NOTE: This refers to a 2014 disgorgement, the wine shipping now was disgorged in 11/16 or Jan 2017.) (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super good, strong, precise, pure. Great focused nose, good stong body, good minerality, long weaving forest trail...")
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical and laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in March 2017 after 14 years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines.
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious, perfect but perhaps less transparent than the 2010 Brut Rosé." Notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! (*Disgorged 10/2016) Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..."
100% old-vine Pinot Meunier sourced from the lieu-dit Le Misy, located in Port à Binson on the southern bank of the Marne river. Fermented with native yeasts in barrel and aged under cork, Bérêche's 2013 base edition of Rive Gauche makes a convincing case for Champagnes made from the oft-underestimated Pinot Meunier grape. The old vines restrict the sometimes overly exuberant quality of the variety, and while the wine shows lovely ripeness, there is a fine, bracing minerality framing the generous fruit. The nose shows lovely aromas of stone fruits and white flowers: white peaches, Rainier cherry, and russet apple, along with notes of honey and orange oil. Similar fruit notes appear on the medium-bodied palate, with a layered mineral complexity lending structure and energy, not to mention a fine sapidity on the lingering zesty finish. A fine aperitif, but better still at the table with rare tuna, veal tartare, or for a bit of old school fun, clams casino. John McIlwain
For holiday celebrations, Champagne is a must. Not just for the festive association of bubbles, but also because it is truly one of the most versatile wines to grace one's table. The inherent acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the foods, while the bubbles and moderate alcohol invigorate the palate rather than tire it. One of my favorite Champagnes for the table (not just Thanksgiving or Christmas) is Bérêche's Reflets d'Antan. Based on a perpetual cuvée dating from the 1980's, the wine combines the vivid, nervy fruit of a recent vintage with the burnished, textural and aromatic complexity of the aged wines which make up the 'solera.' The secondary fermentation under cork rather than crown cap adds an additional layer of finesse with a delicate bead and soft mousse. This will pair beautifully with most of the foods on your holiday table (skip the marshmallows, please). Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. John McIlwain
In many ways Bolorée is as much an expression of Cedric Bouchard's aesthetic as it is an expression of terroir. It is made in tiny quantities from 50-year-old parcel of Pinot Blanc planted on chalk rather than the typical argilo-calcaire (clay and limestone) of the Aube. And while Pinot Blanc can be a bit vapid in some cases, Bouchard's has a taut, mineral, and nervy architecture beneath the richness of the fruit. John McIlwain
80% Pinot Noir from Bouzy, 20% Chardonnay from Chouilly. (Disgorged 5/15.) The Paul Clout Brut Rosé has a pale salmon hue. The nose is redolent of strawberries and fresh raspberries with secondary notes of toast and chalk. The broad palate offers substantial red fruit and mineral flavors on a rich and persistent finish. John McIlwain
Filaine is one of our favorite Champagne houses. And the singular Fabrice Gass is one of our favorite Champagne characters. His wines are made up of Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier from the south-facing village of Damery on the slope of the Montagne de Reims over looking the Marne. The wines are made in the manner of 100 years ago. Fabrice farms the without chemicals, ferments in wood, and due to the age of his barrels, avoids malolactic fermentation. This disgorgement is based on the 2012 and 2011 vintages and balances nicely the classic richness Damery with undertones of minerality. Aromatically the wines offer up aromas of baked apple, spices, and soil notes. On the palate flavors of ripe red fruit and a pervasive sense of chalkiness vie with with a creamy texture on the broad, rich finish. This is a perfect wine for the holiday table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. John McIlwain
Though there are fewer than 20 growers of Rosé des Riceys, we tend to think of the wines as a coming from a single terroir. By vinifying separately two different lieux dits, Olivier Horiot shows the possibilities of expression within the appellation. En Barmont is a warm site, whose southerly exposure and marls interspersed with Kimmeridgian limestone produce a ripe Pinot Noir with a broader character than nearby En Valigrain. The 2012 En Barmont has a darker garnet/copper robe, effusive and floral on the nose with wild cherry, cherry blossom, and Red Delicious apple aromas. On the palate, vivid, racy acidity, bright red fruits with hints of crushed herbs, and a fine dusty minerality on a broad expansive finish. This is quite pretty with a generous ripeness and exuberance. John McIlwain
Though famed for their reds and the eponymous rosé, Riceys produces far more Champagne than still wines from its vineyards bordering Burgundy. And though the Kimmeridgian soils mean Pinot Noir in the Aube, they also make a convincing case for the underappreciated Pinot Blanc grape. Sourced from all eight of his terroirs, Olivier Horiot's Métisse, a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc, is based on the 2013 vintage with the balance made up of reserve wine from a perpetual cuvée stored in foudre. The nose is delicate and spritely upon opening with generous notes of white peach, lemon curd, and cool herb tones, opening to reveal aromas of brioche and ginger. On the palate, there is a sense of volume with generous stone fruit flavors underlain with a broad, stony character which lends drive to the long, lingering finish. This would be lovely with pan-roasted scallops, though there's certainly enough texture to accompany risotto with wild mushrooms, or roasted chicken. (Disgorged 3/15/2016, Dosage 2g/L) John McIlwain
60% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay that doesn't go through malolactic fermentation, along with 10% Pinot Noir. There is a delicate red fruit quality — pale plums — but otherwise the high-toned Chardonnay comes through with a delightful lemon tone. Earthy salinity and minerals lead to a dry, mouth-watering finish. A large percentage of Meunier gives this Champagne a broad, rich, earthy character that matches very well with Beau Soleil oysters and Caviar. MSB
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village down by the river where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village, this is particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes, lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs, La Cote Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
Someday soon the Ambonnay Grand Cru lieu-dit of Les Crayères will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Hermitage’s Les Bessards or Alsace’s Clos Sainte Hune. Similarly, Benoît Marguet will be heralded for having preserved and defended the health of his soils and his vineyard workers. These valuations form a positive feedback loop, where greater care and attention to finely delimited vineyards will help these great terroirs shine. Marguet’s Les Crayères is a blend of 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir from an airy, mid-slope vineyard. Light golden in color and starred by a finely beaded mousse, the aromas begin with acacia, ripe raspberries, and honeysuckle before transitioning to Red Delicious and violets. The zero-dosage palate is broad and gripping with notes of dark chocolate, Meyer lemon, and fresh peppermint with a vanilla macaroon and ripe cantaloupe finish. An expressive and uncompromising Champagne of terroir! Disgorged 3/2014. David Salinas
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentations are with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. While the 2011 vintage was difficult for most producers, Marguet's wines were lovely. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is chalky and mineral, showing the power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. This shows citrus blossom and chalky on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. This will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
At least for me, Marguet’s Champagnes have been about power and opulence, which isn’t surprising given winemaker Benoît Marguet has 10 hectares of vines, mainly in the grand crus of Ambonnay and Bouzy. With preserved lemon and powdered ginger notes, the “Shaman” (formerly named “Elements”) finishes with striking flavors of lemon pith and fresh dill. An unwittingly complementary pairing with tzatziki or taramosalata. Disgorged 2/16. Jonas Mendoza
There are no two ways about it. This is a natural Champagne made from biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and then vinified with native yeasts for both the alcoholic fermentation and the prise de mousse. Finally, the Concordance is free of any added sulfur. The Aube's warmer climate and Dominique's great farming have resulted in a Blanc de Noirs that will settle any doubts about the quality of the 2011 base vintage. Pale golden yellow in the glass and sporting a finely beaded mousse, the aromas of the Concordance are strikingly pure and vibrant with notes of ripe Cortland apples, red currants, fresh raspberries and a hint of brioche. The palate is pure with a fine minerality that carries aromas of cranberries and red plums through to a lengthy and savory finish. Beautiful Champagne! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 1/2015). - David Salinas
The grand cru of Verzy, located on the northeastern slope of the Montagne de Reims, is perhaps best know as a source of racy Pinot Noir-based Champagnes, though the shallow chalky and silex strewn soils on the eastern reaches of the village favor the Chardonnay grape. The new blanc de blancs cuvée L'Angelique by biodynamic grower Mouzon-Leroux is a nervy, filigreed expression of the terroir. The soils of the parcels where the grapes grown are 50cm of light clay and silex over chalk. The initial fermentation is with indigenous yeasts, aging is 50-% in tank, 50% barrel, and the wine is bottled with 2.5g/l dosage.The nose on the 2011 is cool-toned and floral, with aromas of lemon blossom, stone fruit, and smoky notes. The palate is energetic, but broad with a soft mousse and fine bead, offering pretty white and yellow orchard fruit flavors with on a long, stony, sapid, and suave finish. (Sébastien Mouzon tells us that he waited an extra ten days to pick his fruit in 2011, which avoided the resulting green flavors found in others' wines from vintage.) John McIlwain
From an organically farmed, single-vineyard parcel at the top of the slope on the western side of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. 50% Pinot Noir fermented in tank, 50% Chardonnay fermented in used barrels. Disgorged in Spring 2016, zero dosage. Though from a premier cru village rather than its grand cru neighbor, Aÿ, the 2008 Les Blanchiens is no less an articulate expression of the calcareous clay soils that make up its terroir. The nose offers toasty brioche, dried orange peel, and bergamot aromas. The palate shows ripe dense fruit on the attack, with an incisive minerality dominating a rich and complex mid-palate. This is manifested by pungent soil notes, which give way to distinctly savory, sapid, and powerful finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means austere. John McIlwain
Located in the hills above Essoyes, Ruppert-Leroy's vines are a study of polyculture, in contrast to most of the vineyards of Champagne. All are adjacent to forest, with dozens of herbs, wildflowers, grasses growing between the rows. In the Spring, there is a riot of color between the vines. Martin-Fontaine is 100% Chardonnay, fermented with native yeasts, bottled without dosage as of the 2013 vintage sees no addition of sulfur. We are lucky to be able to revisit the 2011, which is in a beautiful place at the moment, with a nose redolent of shortbread, lemon curd, and wet stone. The palate is stony, saline, and quite savory with umami notes vying for attention with pure flavors of ripe white orchard fruits. Quite pretty and detailed, this shows the potential of the terroir in this part of the Aube. John McIlwain
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Bénédicte Ruppert of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard. One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.) The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The 2013 Les Cognaux shows red fruit, peach skin, orange peel, and see spray aromas with notes of daishi and fond. The palate balances lush, ripe flavors of apricot, peach, and Rainier cherry with crunchy acidity, compelling umami character and a pungent sense of minerality. The finish is vibrant and luminous. As of 2013 Ruppert-Leroy vinifies and bottles without SO2. John McIlwain
There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic of Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit with a frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009), deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Aurelien's inaugural village releases display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly mineral. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant is richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. The nose offers an intoxicating blend of lemon blossom, sea spray, and apricot aromas, while the palate is incisively chalky, pungently stony, and taut. This is not to say this is austere, rather brisk and punchy with great persistence on the long, sapid finish. John McIlwain
The 2013 vintage is the inaugural release of Aurelien Suenen's Grand Cru Oiry Blanc de Blancs. Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees, and are bottled with 1 g/l dosage. The 2013 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of citrus peel, quinine, and chalk dominating. The palate is chiseled, taut and very dry with racy acidity and an energetic driving finish. Suenen continues to grow with each vintage and this new line up of village designated Champagnes are particularly exciting. The 2013 is especially suited to seafood dishes such as fluke crudo, where the bright acidity sets off the sweetness of the fish, or as a bright foil to pan-roasted monkfish, or skate with brown butter and lemon. John McIlwain
Aurélien Suenen originally trained in the US to become a professional basketball player, but returned to France to take over the estate in 2009 when his father passed away. "MBDA" is one of his first cuvées; besides a longing tribute to four generations of Suenen (Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, Aurélien) that have farmed in Champagne since 1898, it represents a precocious and stunning effort. MBDA is a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir (from Montigny-sur-Velse) and Chardonnay (from grand cru sites Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry). Enticing at first with golden apple, candied ginger, and brioche aromatics, this Champagne fills out the palate with bruised red apple skin, yellow plum, and toast flavors, and then finishes with shaded undertones of dried honey and roasted parsnip. Texturally, the soft mousse floats like a featherweight on the center of the tongue, but then broadly fills out across the palate. Jonas Mendoza
A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Pinot Meunier, the base wine comes from the classic 2008 vintage. For a Brut Nature (Dosage: 0 g/l), this Tarlant combines bracing acidity with remarkable fruit-forwardness. Lemon pith, preserved lemon, red apple flesh and red apple skin flavors sweep across the palate with broad brush strokes and a pleasing effervescence. With big flavors and deep cut, this Champagne definitely needs food to accompany it: caviar or smoked salmon anyone? (Disgorged: 09/14) - Jonas Mendoza
Made from low-yielding biodynamically-farmed Chardonnay planted in the Kimmeridgian marls in the west-facing vineyard site of Biaunes, Blanc d'Argile is a blanc de blancs any many ways closer in character to Chablis than the chiseled Champagnes of the Marne. The distinction between the two types of chalky soil is palpable in the pungently mineral Blanc d'Argile. The nose is briny and citrus-inflected, with savory herbal notes. This cool-toned fruitiness (indicative of the 2011 vintage) carries over on the palate with a range of yellow fruit, seashell, and flinty sapidity. Typically, the long ripening period afforded by the vineyard manifests itself in a denser, richer, nearly flamboyant fashion; this vintage shows a leaner cut highlighting the Kimmeridgian pedigree. (Disgorged 5/2014).
From vines planted in 1939, 1950, 1979 in the limestone and red clays and gravels beneath les Lavières. The Aux Grands Liards is bit muted upon opening, but with 2 hours in the decanter lovely fruit and pungent soil aromas emerge. Aromatically the wine is perfumed and quite pretty with aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, black tea, and brambles. Fine strawberry and mineral flavors build on the mid-weight palate and carry over on an admirably long finish. This is a fine and satisfying Savigny-Les-Beaune and recommended for mid-term cellaring. Decant early or hold 3-5 years to allow elements to integrate.
Bize 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières from vines located above Pernand-Vegelesses planted in 1971 and 1974. Stony, dark fruited, hints of spice, damp earth, bright acidity, savory herb notes, appropriately mineral, good concentration. Still a bit circumspect initially, but maintains a nice balance of structural and fruity elements. Not exactly plush at the moment, but the frank earthiness is compelling. Very pretty after an hour of air. Decant now or hold for 2-5 years when things should blossom. There's plenty here for a Bourgogne and I like the energy and mineral character. John McIlwain
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
This is ripe and full of red fruit with silky tannins and great acidity and intensity and length. A powerful wine, Grands Epenots is one of the greatest of all Pommard 1er Crus, just a step behind the Rugiens-Bas.This was vinified with 33% whole clusters, a decision made based on the ripeness of the stems. JBT
The Beaune-Grèves is more powerful than the Aigrots; it is earthier and has darker fruit. There is a lot of mouth-weight and tannin, and that wonderful 2011 acidity that comes out on the finish. Like most of Lafarge's wines, this could age for a long time. A great effort! JBT
The 1er Cru Les Aigrots is on the mid-to-upper slope on the Pommard side of Beaune, as opposed to the Savigny-les-Beaune side. Aigrots is bordered by Les Clos des Mouches, Les Vignes Franches, Pertuisots, Les Sizies, and Champs Pimont. Domaine Lafarge's vines are about 40 years old and Frederic Lafarge says the vines are very unusual; they are growing in a different way from vine to vine to vine, some are very bushy and some have sparse foliage, which may be because of the great variety of plant material in this vineyard. He said that while some growers removed leaves to promote better air circulation, he likes to leave them on to protect the grapes from the near inevitability of a hailstorm. This wine has great fruit upfront and then tannins and astringency—a big structure and all of the components for a long life. JBT
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. From a small parcel of old vines, the Lafouge 2014 Chanlins shows beautiful aromas of bright red fruits - raspberry, tart cherry and wild strawberry - with earth, citrus, rose, brown spice and game. Lovely tart red fruits on the palate with firm acidity and intense chalky minerality that coats the palate on the long finish. This is a lovely, pure and elegant old-fashioned Burgundy - delicious now with its bright, youthful fruit, best probably 2022 to 2032. DL
La Chapelle is a "climat" within Les Breterins and Reugne, on the steep slope of la Montagne de Bourdon, facing south/southeast. The vines are well-placed in mid-slope and are mostly sixty years-old, giving the most "generous" of the three Lafouge premier crus. The soils here are partially "marnes blanches"which seems to contribute to the more supple and elegant style of wines from this site. David Lillie .................... Tasted in January, the Chapelle impressed me with immediate pretty red fruit on the nose, then dried fruit and cassis on the palate, with a lovely long finish. This should age nicely. Eben Lillie
Jean and Gilles Lafouge have produced a delicious "village" Auxey-Duresses in 2015 - those looking for value in red Burgundy should stock-up on this lovely wine! Tasted before bottling in January 2017 the wine showed a lovely bright garnet color with very pretty aromas of tart cherry and wild strawberry with violet and citrus. There is lovely ripeness on the palate with ripe cherry and red currant with nice concentration and balance, and a long finish with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. This will drink beautifully as a young wine, and over the next five to eight years. Given the reasonable price, this is highly recommended! DL
Black and blue fruits, game, mustard seed, violets on nose. Black tea, plum skin, and a whack of ferrous earth on the dense, verging on brooding palate. Medium tannins and ripe, persistent finish. This is not lightweight, but a firm, strapping Chanlins and quite the wine for lamb, game, or daube. Though rich, this is by no means coarse and shows plenty of class. Good with a decant, better still with 7-10 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
Ripest red cherry and wild strawberry on the nose. Silken with ripe red fruits on a medium-weight palate, with a long, bright chalky finish. Simply lovely. Drink and hold. John McIlwain
From old vines on fairly deep iron-rich soils south of the village in three different parcels, Les Boutieres, Les Citernes and Les Combes. Always a ripe, powerful wine, the 2014 Rapet Aloxe-Corton is well-structured for aging and beautifully balanced with firm acidity and the pretty fruit of this vintage that was saved by ample sunshine from mid-August into October. The wine shows elegant aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry with hints of violet and earth. On the palate there is an intense fusion of mineral flavors with ripe blackberry and red currant fruit, sappy and long, framed in firm acidity and ample tannin. This is a big, age-worthy Aloxe that will be quite beautiful when mature, best perhaps 2020 - 2030 and beyond. Quite enjoyable now in its intense youth, decant well in advance or open the night before... David Lillie
Upon opening Rapet's Grèves is a bit circumspect: initially showing a lot of hedge fruit, wood smoke, soil notes. Nose and palate open to reveal dark fruits, a bit of bramble, sous-bois, spice, cherry pit, and mineral spice. Some structure here, but with fine poise. There's a lovely sweetness within the tannins which bodes well for some time in the cellar to allow all the elements to knit. Near term patience should be well rewarded. Decant now or cellar for 3-5 years and enjoy over the next 10 years. Made a fine pairing with a salad of frisée, duck confit, toasted pecans, and a sherry vinaigrette. John McIlwain
Ile des Vergelesses is certainly one of the best premier cru vineyards in Burgundy - a perfectly exposed mid-slope vineyard on limestone and iron-rich soils, steep enough for ideal drainage, producing wines that age beautifully for 15 to 20 years - considered by many to be grand cru quality. The 2014s from Vincent Rapet are lovely, beautifully balanced wines. The 2014 Ile des Vergelesses shows very bright perfume of wild strawberry, black raspberry, rose, pepper and licorice. The palate is very dense with elegant, chalky red fruits that coat the palate. This should develop beautifully - it's perfectly balanced at 13% alcohol with firm acidity - well structured for aging. Fun to taste now, especially if decanted or opened the night before, probably best 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
From vines grown in the calcareous clay soils of Les Reversées premier cru toward the bottom of the hill in the center of the slope by Les Teurons. The 2008 shows the cool-toned precision of the vintage. The nose displays dusty black cherry and hedge fruit aromas with notes of herbs and wood smoke. The palate is overtly mineral and savory, with complex soil notes and crushed herbs giving way to more cherry fruit, red currant, orange peel, iron and spice on a mid-weight and persistent finish. This still has a bit of structure to resolve, but it is intriguingly sapid, and satisfyingly earthy. Best now with a decant, better still in 3-5 years. This would pair beautifully with hanger steak and shallots, pasta with wild mushrooms, or roasted guinea hen. John McIlwain
Jean-Claude Rateau's domaine has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2014 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) shows beautiful aromas of cherry and berry fruits with rose, blood orange and brown spice. The palate is chalky, ripe and sapid while remaining light and fresh with berry fruits and tart citrusy acids. This develops nicely with aeration, becoming more supple and round, and finishes with stone, mineral and ripe fruits. Serve this delicious wine a bit cool with any mild chicken or white meat dish and goat cheeses, morbier, tomme de savoie. This should age nicely, best perhaps 2020 - 2026.
Jean-Claude Rateau has a large parcel in the 1er Cru Les Bressandes on a steep slope facing east with pebbly clay/limestone soils, conducted in biodynamic farming since 1979. The soil is warm and well-drained giving ripe, structured wines. There is a 21-day cuvaison with manual cap-punching followed by 18 months in old barrels.Even with the minimal extraction practiced at the estate, the 2015 Bressandes shows a dense red/black color and aromas of black cherry and ripe strawberry, quite deep with sous-bois, violet, graphite and citrus. The palate is dense and chalky with blackberry, earth, cocoa and minerals with terrific length of red currant, earth and juicy acidity. Even with the weight and ripeness of the vintage, the wine still seems balanced and frames the copious fruit in ample acidity and tannin. This is a beautiful wine that will give great pleasure in its youth and should be a superb mature wine as well, perhaps until 2032 and beyond. DL
Generous black cherry, boysenberry, notes of cherry pit and anise on nose. Ripe mid-weight palate, ripe black fruits, hints of iodine and iron and other soil beneath supple structure. Succulent acidity and savory mineral notes offset the ripeness and lend energy and drive on a rich, palate-coating finish. This has good punch, even if it's more generous than I associate with very young Rateau. The purity of fruit and earth notes are finely balanced and this is an excellent Burgundy for the mid-term. A fine pairing with braised chicken thighs with mustard, tarragon, and shallots. A great value from the pioneer of biodynamic Burgundy! John McIlwain
Red/black fruit on the nose. A bit bosky. Bright acid, succulent fruit good balance of bramble and animale on the periphery. Medium tannins. Fresh, punchy attack, lifted mid-palate, good length. There's beautiful poise here between rustic and suave. Good now. Better still in 3-5 years. As always, Rollin remains a solid value in Burgundy and a worthy addition to one's table and cellar. John McIlwain
From Domaine des Rouges-Queues' original hectare of 85-year-old vines. The soils are comprised of heavier clays giving the wines a broader, richer character. The 2014 Maranges Vieilles Vignes is dark-fruited on the nose with aromas of bing cherry and black raspberry, with top notes of game and spices. The medium-bodied palate displays flavors of plum skin, cassis, and soil with firm, but ripe tannins and a long, lingering finish. The interplay between fruit and earth is compelling and begs for heartier fare such as wild mushrooms, grilled meats, and ripe cheeses. Decant now or cellar for 5-7 years to allow the elements to knit. John McIlwain
Bright and high-toned, red-fruited on the nose. Lovely red cherry, ripe raspberry, and wild strawberry flavors on a velvety, lissome palate with a rising, energetic finish. This is a pretty, rather than powerful expression of La Fussière and a delicious natural Burgundy. Tasty now, should make for immensely pleasurable drinking with a few years in the cellar. John McIlwain
From 3 parcels of old vines in clay and limestone soils of the Les Saunières lieu-dit beneath Clos Rousseau. The 2015 Santenay has a medium-dark robe and is densely aromatic, with scents of violets, black fruits, and game. The rich palate is deep and layered offering flavors of blackberry, plum, five-spice, with an underlying mineral character featuring notes of iron and salt on a expressive, lingering finish. This is a sensational Santenay and will pair beautifully with veal scallops and morels, coq au vin, or steak off the grill. If drinking now decant of hold for 7-10 years. John McIlwain
Located beneath Bousse d'Or and between the Champans and En l'Ormeau climats in the center of the village of Volnay, Carelle Sous la Chapelle (the square beneath the chapel) shares some of the fruity character of Champans with a bit more structure. The 2013 has a lovely melange of wild blackberry, black currant, rose petal, and game aromas on the nose. There's a fine balance of fruit and savory minerality on the palate with sappy blackberry vying with soil notes for prominence on the lingering finish. Perhaps not as structured as some vintages, but this has plenty of drive and should be immensely satisfying with a few years in the bottle. This pairs beautifully with braised duck dumplings and is a prime choice to accompany a chicken fricassee with plenty of mushrooms. John McIlwain
The 2013 Volnay Vieilles Vignes from Joseph Voillot is marked by the generosity of the vintage. Pure fruit and freshness (not to mention exuberant energy) are hallmarks of the year. Perfumed with aromas of cherry blossom, Morello cherry, baking spices, and black tea on nose. Positively lovely wild cherry fruit and red currant fruit, with supple tannins and a touch of that mineral zang on the supple finish. This is lifted rather than brooding, but has the stuffing for mid-term aging and should evolve beautifully for the next 7-10 years. John McIlwain
When it comes to Marsannay, Domaine Bart's selection of crus is an embarrassment of riches. Au Champ Salomon, one of their best, is located in a prime spot on the mid-slope, producing wines which marry power with elegance and longevity. The grapes from 35-year-old plus vines are hand harvested, fermented with native yeasts, aged for 18 months in barrel, of which approximately 30% are new. The 2015 Champ Salomon shows its relation to Gevrey-Chambertin next door with aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with earth and spice. The palate is dense and rich, with ripe cherry and blackberry fruit over earthy, mineral-laden acidity. This young Burgundy will accompany a steak or grilled pork, served cool, best held for three to five years for a mature experience...
It's no secret that the Jean Chauvenet's 2012 Nuits St. Georges Les Perrières was one of my favorite red Burgundies of the vintage. The 2013 is another winner for the domaine. Chauvenet's Christope Drag farms a .23 hectare parcel of old vines high on the slope adjacent to Les Poulettes and Les Poirets between the holdings farmed by Henri Gouges and Regis Forey. The particularly stony soils retain heat and Christophe says this is typically the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Personally I find it the most effusively perfumed of his wines with his Vaucrains a close second. The bouquet of the 2013 leaps from the glass, with floral aromas, red fruits, and pretty wild berry aromas, giving way to spices and soil notes. The palate is equally fresh, with red berry, strawberry, Morello cherry, and pipe tobacco flavors giving way to a chalky minerality. There is fine energy and cut to this which carries through on a long, lingering, and building finish. This is certainly a pretty expression of Nuits St. Georges, but has the tannins and acidity to age with grace. John McIlwain
From the vines planted in southern portion of Damodes planted in 1949 and 1956. There are 40cm of brown gravely clay over mother rock. Medium dark robe. The nose is offers an array of dark fruit and floral notes with hints of grilled meat. The palate is distinctly mineral, with salty, reminiscent of iodine flavors giving way to wild blackberry fruit and very fine, velvety tannins. With are the structure builds, but the fruit keeps pace on a long, rising finish. This should drink on the earlier side and pair beautifully with magret of duck or grilled ribeye with herb butter. John McIlwain
From a .17 HA plot of 60-year-old vines in above Perrieres, on a natural wall of calcaire, or limestone. The name Les Poulettes derives from the small game birds found in the area. Christophe Drag notes the site is very warm and sees little wind, so is the first to flower and first harvested. The 2013 shows aromas of blackberry blossoms, dark hedge fruit, and cool herbal notes on the nose. The palate is black-fruited, offering wild blackberry and dark cherry flavors framed by a distinctive mineral edge on a bright, lifted finish. There's a fine balance of structure and fruit and this should drink beautifully in the near term, though I'd wager given time to integrate the elements, there is nice upside for midterm cellaring. Enjoy with mushroom dishes and certainly squab or poussin! John McIlwain
From a .41 HA parcel of old vines next to Chaboeufs on the north side of Vaucrains. The soils are brown, "fat clays make it hard to work the earth" according to vigneron Christophe Drag, with large oolithic stones are the top of the slope. Always the sternest and most majestic of Chauvenet's crus, the 2013 is aromatically dense with layered dark-fruit, game, and spice aromas giving way to pungent soil notes. The palate is similarly complex with pure black cherry, plum, and earthy flavors underlain with distinctively savory, verging on pungent mineral component on a muscular, driving, persistent finish. There are substantial acidity and ripe tannins girding this masculine, but not coarse Vaucrains, which will benefit with time in the cellar. Decant now, better still in 7-10 years when this should sing. A beautiful Vaucrains! John McIlwain
From 90 year-old vines in the village portion of Combe d'Orveau. The 2014 is a classic expression of Chambolle-Musigny with pretty high-toned aromas of red fruit, rose petals, and spice. The mid-weight palate is silken and flavors of ripe red cherry, wild raspberry, and chalk dance on a long, fresh, precise finish. This is lovely and a fine value in Chambolle. John McIlwain
From 45+ year-old vines from 4 hectares in many parcels. 30% whole cluster fermentation, aged in 20% new oak.This is a beautiful Gevrey that can be enjoyed in its youth, showing very floral and bright aromas of morello cherry and wild strawberry with spice and earth, really quite pretty. The palate is beautifully balanced and bright with supple cherry and strawberry fruit, showing lovely ripeness with a finish that is long and pure with berry fruits and stony acids. A lovely wine that is delicious now, best 2020 to 2030+.
Medium ruby, hinting at garnet robe. Strawberry, Morello cherry, iron, salt, cinnamon. Still a bit tannic, good acid, but resolving and pretty generous for the grower. This ain't your father's Gouges! Good length and detail. Pretty delicious now, but I'd like to revisit this in five to eight years. (Tasted 8/2017) John McIlwain
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Always giving an earthy and mineral-infused wine, the 2014 is a bit more fruit-forward but is still primarily a Burgundy of terroir. There is reduction when first opened so please decant or open in advance. With aeration the wine shows subtle aromas of red currant, strawberry and tart cherry with violet, brown spice and earth - really quite complex and pretty. The palate is well-structured with chalky mineral flavors underlying the earthy raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is long with firm acidity and mineral notes. This is a lovely and beautifully balanced Burgundy for those who enjoy minerals as much as fruit! Note: The wine improves dramatically over 3 to 4 days, re-corked in the fridge, for those with enough patience - or cellar for five to fifteen years.
From 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2014 Gevrey shows a light red/black color, aromas of morello cherry, red currant and raspberry with hints of earth, stone, violets, black pepper and licorice. The palate is dense but light with cherry, red-currant, earth, citrus and mineral flavors with berry fruits and saline minerals lingering in the finish. Ripe but not a fruit-bomb - a red Burgundy of terroir that is delicious now, but should become a beautiful, old-fashioned wine when mature, best perhaps 2021 - 2030. On day two the wine has deepened with very sappy black and red fruits, quite dense and earthy. Lovely wine from living soils and quite a different style than modern Burgundies. David Lillie
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny", high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Four barrels of 2014 Fonteny were produced, of which one was new. Tasted last February the wine showed dense, deep strawberry and black chery fruit with round supple tannins and a very long firm, palate coating finish. Re-tasted in November 2016, the round strawberry fruit is framed in chalky minerals, quite dense and palate-coating, balanced with soft tannins - a very young wine that will be delightful to drink now but best to wait five to ten years for the velvety complexity to come, best perhaps 2021 to 2035. David Lillie
Jane and Sylvain have done it again! Another beautiful Passetoutgrain from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Gamay, grown near Gevrey-Chambertin, organically farmed and quite delicious! The 2015 shows ripe aromas of tart cherry and raspberry liqueur with earth and violets. The palate is lively and bright with morello cherry and raspberry with stone, tobacco and citrus, quite vibrant and long. Really a refreshing and delicious wine, perfect for picnics and barbecues, served quite cool. This is a fantastic value and highly recommended.
Jane et Sylvain: A refreshingly unpretentious name for a small organic estate in Gevrey-Chambertin. Their Bourgogne Rouge is from young vines in a parcel that has never been chemically treated and always tended organically. The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge shows a brilliant red/black color with lovely tart cherry, raspberry and violet aromas, very high-toned and bright. The palate shows the ripeness of 2015 with pretty strawberry and cherry fruit backed by firm acidity, and it finishes with refreshing citrus and red fruits. Serve this lovely Pinot Noir quite cool over the next five years - it's a delicious wine and a great value!
From low-yielding vines located in Comblanchien (probably more famous for its quarries and eponymous limestone than viticulture), planted in the 1960s by Antoine Lienhardt's grandfather. Les Essards is a short distance from another of Antoine's lieux dits, Les Plantes Aux Bois. There is a thin layer of rocky clay topsoil over Comblanchien limestone and the vine rows run from east to west. A bit circumspect upon opening, decanting reveals red plum and ripe cherry aromas with hints of mustard seed and black tea on the nose. The palate is nervy with bright flavors of brambly red fruit, vibrant acidity, and a pungent, verging on saline minerality on a persistent, and detailed finish. Great lift and purity with wonderful interplay between the pure red fruit and distinctly stony elements. Decant if planning to drink now or cellar for 3-7 years to allow the elements to integrate. John McIlwain
A mere 200 meters from Les Essards, Les Plantes Aux Bois has clay top soils overlying the hard limestone mother rock. The nose is generous, perfumed, and dark-fruited with aromas of black raspberry and plum giving way to notes of game and spices. Flavors of blackberry, cassis, and plum dominate on the ripe, mid-weight palate. There is good freshness, with bright acidity providing lift and drive on a long, lingering, cool-toned finish. Lovely with a quick decant, but plenty of material to justify mid-term cellaring. Delicious! John McIlwain
From old vines planted in three different lieux-dits in Morey Saint Denis (Chenevery, Clos Solon, and Porroux). There's plenty to like here. Violets, cherry pit, iodine, game on nose. Palate layered and suave with some structure to resolve. Flavors of plum skin, cherry pit, rose hip, iron.Good freshness and density. Decant now or cellar for 5-7 years to allow elements to integrate. John McIlwain
Les Sentiers premier cru is located on the north side of Chambolle-Musigny, beneath the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru and between the Les Baudes and Les Ruchots premier crus. Medium dark robe. The 2013 Les Sentiers shows a nice balance between fruit and earth. Raspberry, violet, spices, with hints of game and herb on the nose. Dark cherry, black tea, and blood orange peel on the sappy, yet chalky, mineral palate. As befits the cru's proximity to Bonnes Mares, this is a more masculine expression of Chambolle-Musiginy. There's good concentration of fruit here, in addition to distinct terroir delineation; with still more to be revealed as the structure resolves itself further. Decant now or better still, hold for 5 to 15 years. John McIlwain
This a wonderful expression of Les Sentiers, aromatically expressive and layered. There are bright aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violets, woody herbs, and game on the nose. The mid-weight palate initially shows brambly black fruits, and pungent soil flavors. With time in the glass notes of dark cherry and cherry pit appear along with a savory ferrous minerality and spice notes. The tension between fruit and earthiness is compelling and will gain in complexity with time in the cellar. More expressive on the second day. If enjoying now, decant for several hours or revisit in 7-10 years and enjoy for the decade following. John McIlwain
The young and very talented Stephane Magnien is producing delicious, old fashioned Burgundies from his beautifully tended vineyards in and around Morey-Saint-Denis. The estate has never used herbicides and uses a plowing regimen designed to force the roots deeper into the limestone bedrock. The "village" wine is always one of my favorite recommendations in Burgundy due to its elegance, balance, lovely fruit and great value. The 2014 is particularly beautiful, with lovely aromas of strawberry liqueur, black raspberry, violet, blood orange - very floral with hints of earth, brown spice and oak. Great balance of firm acidity and ripe fruit with a touch of oak on the palate showing strawberry, blackberry, citrus and spice over a core of mineral flavors that linger in the long finish. This delicious young Burgundy is lovely to drink now but has all the elements for great medium-term aging - wait a few years then drink until 2030...
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawbwrry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocaolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035.
From two small parcels in "Aux Eletois" (below Grand Cru Griottes) and "les Epointures" (below 1er Cru Clos Prieur) on the more fine and aromatic side of Gevrey.The 2015 shows a lovely bright red/black color with high-toned aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with violet and graphite. The palate is dense and ripe with tart red fruits, very pure and long with hints of licorice and citrus with a chalky mineral backbone. Drink now to enjoy the lush, bright fruit or cellar five to eight years, then drink until 2030. Lovely wine. DL
Cecile Tremblay's Morey Saint Denis Tres Girard is from a vineyard located right by the steps of the Clos des Tart in the village of Morey Saint Denis. Black fruits, mure, very Morey St Denis. It is as different from the Chambolle Musigny as strawberries are from blackberries.
The “AK 400” Gamay comes from a beautiful .3 hectare parcel of un-trellised vines near the village of Monthou-sur-Cher. The vines, planted by Bruno’s grandfather, are between 40 and 50 years old, and grow on a combination of clay/limestone and silex. Rather interestingly, they are not the typical Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc vines found in Beaujolais and much of the Loire, but an ancient offshoot called gamay teinturier, which is typically much darker and richer. Indeed, this an intense and brooding example of Loire Valley gamay, with rich, dark berry fruit framed by relatively firm tannins (for gamay) and a lovely bright acidity. This showed really well with a Japanese curry dish, the slight honey in the sauce revealing an earthy molasses note in the wine, and I wouldn’t hesitate pairing it with your summer barbeque. Oskar Kostecki
We always enjoy the festive wines from Bruno Allion. This one is made from Côt, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Pineau d'Aunis. In the glass this cuvée shows a dusty red rose with a fringe of bubbly lace. The palate is off-dry, with just a light touch of sweet florals pinned to an elegant structure. Notes of wild strawberry, and subtle hints of tart blackberry make for a great pairing with creamy, and salty cheeses and charcuterie. Amanda Bowman
Anjou last year, Vin de France this year (the mystery of the Appellation board!), this is Chenin Blanc from Anjou, whether or not it's on the label. Dense, and crystalline, witn mint flower and and cooked apples on the nose, a touch of honeysuckle and vanilla on the palate. Stones, herbs, and a touch of refreshing salinity in the super long finish. This is truly a young wine, and a big expression of Chenin. A fascinating bottle to have over several days. One really gets the sense that this young Thomas Batardiere is getting very comfortable and connected with his vineyards.Drink now with a proper decant or put it away for a while! Eben Lillie
* This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
The 2014 Croix Boissée Rouge is a magnificent wine. We have tasted the wine from barrel on three different occasions and it's definitely one of the best wines the Baudrys have ever made ("our best since 2010,"says Matthieu), and one of the very best reds of the Loire Valley in 2014. The wine received a more than two year elevage in young barrels, none were new, and was bottled with only 10mg of SO2. Last tasted in January of 2017, the wine showed superb, pure aromas of black fruits and violets. The palate was dense and chalky, with meaty black fruits with remarkable purity and length and perfect structure for aging. This will obviously open up to become a complex and beautiful mature wine, probably best from 2025 to 2040. We look forward to opening a bottle on arrival for a more detailed description. 3 bottle limit, please. (While one may not think of the Baudrys as "natural" wine producers, their farming is totally organic, their vinifications are without extraction, and without SO2 added until bottling - only 10 mg per liter. David Lillie
We're very excited about the arrival of the superb 2014 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2016 the wine was quite beautiful , if a bit closed, showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. Upon arrival in NY (October 2016), the wine is singing, with aromas of wild strawberry and red currant with white pepper, earth and cocoa. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL (Those who want a bit of the mature experience should: open the bottle, taste - yum - re-cork and put in fridge; wait three days, enjoy!) Featured in the NY Times "20 Wines Under $20" 01/12/17
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In 2014, the Baudrys produced superb wines with perfect balance and lovely, pure fruit. Their precise vinifications, matched to each different terroir, with no new oak, minimal sulfur, and elevage of the right length and in the right barrel, foudre or vat, gave elegant and delicous results. The 2014 Clos Guillot is a black/purple color with red rim, showing intense aromas of red currant, boysenberry, blackberry, fines herbs, citrus and stone with hints of dark chocolate and musk. The palate shows bright, lush, sappy red and black fruits with bright acidity lifting the flavors and coating the palate with citrusy red fruits, saline minerals and wet stone. Beautiful wine! Case quantities are possible, but don't delay. DL
The Belliviere Coteaux du Loir Vieilles Vignes Eparses is a great Chenin Blanc, often equal in quality to the Jasnieres Calligramme. From 50 to 80 year-old vines on limestone with flinty clay soils, with yields of 25 hl/ha. Beautiful floral, herbal white fruit aromas. The palate is ripe and complex but with terrific acidity and mineral flavors and great length, Really a great Chenin that can be enjoyed now and it will age beautifully. Not inexpensive but very much worth the price... This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
The Belliviere Calligramme is one of the greatest Chenin Blancs of France and it's superb in 2011, showing less residual sugar than in some vintages but still quite full and ample in style. From old vines on south-facing slopes of clay and flint over limestone descending to the Loir. 20 months in 600 liter used barriques. Remarkably complex herbal, floral, stony white fruit aromas. Sensational balance, length and mineral acidity on the palate.This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
"Thibaud Boudignon is originally from Bordeaux - he honed his winemaking craft while working at Philipe Charlopin in Gevrey-Chambertin during the early 2000s. He was shortly thereafter hired by Savennières producer Chateau Soucherie to be their winemaker in the late 2000s. His first and most important contribution to the estate was the introduction of strict organic practices in the vineyards which, along with his immense winemaking skills, elevated this already historic domaine to new heights. It was in 2009 that he began to make wine under his own name from a scant 3.5 ha in the heart of Anjou and Savennieres. Knowing that the quality of his fruit was of most importance, he committed himself absolutely to the health of his vines, choosing to farm organically and spends the majority of his time in the vineyards. His devotion paid off quickly, for in just a few vintages, his name began to circulate among Loire growers, eventually to top restaurants in Paris, and finally overseas. The speed at which he has garnered so much praise speaks to the remarkable quality of his wines. The Savennieres is of course 100% Chenin Blanc, from the lieu-dit of ‘Les Fougerais’ in the heart of Savennieres – near Coulée de Serrant and La Roche aux Moines. High density plantings of 45 year old vines grown on grey schist and rhyolite (volcanic soil). Indigenous yeast fermentation, no malo." - Importer Michael Skurnik (This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.)
This delicious Bourgueil is from young vines on clay and gravel soils over limestone, harvested by hand into small baskets and vinified to extract the primary aromas. Trinch is particularly yummy in 2015, a sunny vintage bringing wines with lush, supple fruit, and a bit less acidity than the norm. The color is dense red/black with deep aromas of blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate with a hint of roast meat. Intense black fruits on the palate with earthy, saline minerals, musk and citrus, very supple and ripe with a nice bright finish. This is a great thirst-quenching Bourgueil to serve cool with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses.
The 2010 Le Clos from Vincent Careme is a superb off-dry Vouvray (20 grams/liter of RS) that is a bit softer than the wonderful 2008, showing brilliant aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really lovely! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with fish or chicken in sauce, foie gras and mild cheeses, or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience...
This is usually our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "Les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray. The 2014 is a beautiful example of this wine with lovely aromas of lemon confit, kiwi, pear, lime-flower, honey and earth, with even a bit of red fruit as well. Chalky ripe pear and citrus on the palate with terrific length of stone, white fruits and lemon peel. This is a great Montlouis that will perfectly accompany fish or chicken in sauce, Asian foods and mild cheeses. It's delicious now, and should be very interesting after ten to fifteen years in the cellar...
The Chidaines's Montlouis "les Tuffeaux" is superb in 2015 with firm acidity giving brightness to the honeyed white fuits and citrus flavors. This is a delicious and beautifully balanced demi-sec at 16 grams of residual sugar per liter - it will accompany fish in sauce, pork and veal dishes and Asian cuisines. (This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.)
From 3 hectares of clay and silex soils over limestone, vines of 30 to 90 years old. Biodynamic farming with varieties of beneficial plants between the vines, long wild-yeast fermentation in 600 liter barrels. Approximately 3 grams per liter RS. This very dry cuvée from the Chidaines showed beautifully, (Feb 2017) with elegant subtle aromas of stone, citrus peel and dried white fruits. The palate is scintillating and tight showing more mineral flavors than fruit, with terrific length. Serve now with oysters and grilled fish, or wait a few years to serve eith fish and chicken in sauce. A great Value! David Lillie This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.Our friend Francois Pinon feels that the best expression of Chenin Blanc is often somewhere between sec and demi-sec, sometimes called "Tradition," and this lovely wine, at 14 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol, fits the bill perfectly. The Clos Habert is a 3 hectare parcel on clay with silex stones ("Les Peruches") over the white limestone Tuffeau. Full and elegant with white fruits, citrus and stone, this beautfully structured and crystalline Chenin Blanc will accompany fish and chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses and will age wonderfully for fifteen to 20 years.
We list the "Les Argiles" as Vouvray, but technically it's Vin de France as the Chidaines dare to vinify it in Montlouis rather than in Vouvray. From 40 year-old vines on deep clay soils over the limestone "tuffeau." The wine is lovely, quite dry with less than 2 grams RS, really elegant, with aromas of citrus, dried herbs, pear and stone. The palate shows pear and quince, with saline stone flavors and excellent length. (This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.)
The Domaine du Closel "Caillardières" is a demi-sec Savennières that we have enjoyed immensely in the past - we're glad to see it back in the US and we can't wait to try it! "The grapes are harvested later ; the berries are golden, producing wines with aromas of baked apple, exotic fruits, raisins and toasted almonds. That terroir gives the wine a very silky texture, characteristic of these sandstone schist parcels. This wine is vinified and aged in barrels (French oak, 12 months) and reveals through natural micro-oxygenation this slightly bitter aftertaste that will give an interesting body to the wine. Rather smooth on the palate this wine has character. It pairs very well with artichokes or asparagus, other vegetables difficult to pair with wine. It is also popular with sweet and savory dishes such as veal stew with orange, monkfish with honey and cider vinegar, roasted pork with pineapple." - from the Domaine du Closel website.
The 2015 Clos du Papillon has just arrived in NY - it promises to be a great vintage for this wonderful Savennières, certainly one of the top wines of the appellation. We will post a tasting note ASAP, meanwhile here is information from the domain's website: "The Clos du papillon is a small valley at mid slope, beautifully exposed southwest to the light of the Loire. There are schist, rhyolite but also quartz. The topsoil layer is very shallow (60 cm) which provides excellent drainage for rainwater. The vine growing conditions are difficult, forcing it to develop its roots deep in the rock cracks to draw nutrients. The climate in that parcel allows for a level of highly advanced maturity. With grapes that concentrate aromas under the action of Botrytis. The Clos du papillon is harvested in two selections : The first selection during the « Fresh Fruit aroma » period and the second one later with some botrytis during the « cooked fruit, quince and smoked aromas » period. Both selections are put in barrels and assembled 16 months later. The wine then remains a few months in vats. This assemblage of the two styles of grapes results in a full bodied wine, with a citrus finish on very first attack, followed by sensations of ripe and exotic fruit with a very distinguished touch of bitterness or toasted almonds on the finish. The long aging on the lees gives it a nice smoothness. The « brandy » nose is characterized by aromas of evolution. The body and the very long finish make the Clos du Papillon a gastronomic wine to accompany lobster, scallops, smoked fish, Turbots, Saint Peter. It is also interesting with delicate white meats such as veal or capon, along with truffles or mushrooms. Classic mountain cheeses like old Salers, or 5 to 6 years old Comté are equally delicious with this great Savennières."
This offering from Deboutbertin is 100% Grolleau from a parcel on Schiste and sandstone, from vines that were planted in 1950. The vineyard is tiny, at 25 ares (a bit more than a half-acre), and yields are quite low, at about 20hl/ha. The 2015 is a bit more elegant than the previous vintage, with really fine tannin and a long finish. There's a hint of "barnyard" on the nose, with plenty of the vibrant fruit on the palate, and though it's relatively dark in the glass, at 10.5% alcohol, it's super easy to drink! Serve with a slight chill. Eben Lillie
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Happily, Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in semi-retirement, with his new associate Fred Niger Van Herck. 2012 and 2013 were problematic in one way or another for growers in Muscadet, but the wines from 2012, a very low-yielding year, are by far the best with great density, lovely fruit and superb mineral expression. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2012 "Granite" is particularly outstanding. As usual with this cuvée it's a bit musty and closed when first opened — decanting is advised — followed by aromas of dusty stone, lemon flower and pear. The palate is dense and vibrant with flint, saline minerals, bitter almond and sharp herbal/citrus flavors with firm acidity in the long stony finish. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2019 to 2029. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Happily, Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in semi-retirement, with his new associate Fred Niger Van Herck. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2015 "Granite" is particularly outstanding. As usual with this cuvée it's a bit musty and closed when first opened — decanting is advised — followed by aromas of lemon peel, dried pear, wet stone and lime-flower with hints of almond and petrol. The palate is dense and very long in this ripe vintage with intense stony flavors, pear, citrus and anis. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2020 to 2029. Serve this summer with oysters, cod and sole, then with richer dishes after the wine matures. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
A delicious demi-sec Chenin Blanc from Alain and Christine Bore! Honey-tinged and luscious on the nose with baked peaches, mango, pineapple, lime zest, heather, red delicious apple skin, and tangerine. Mellow and round on the palate, but balanced with exotic tropical fruits, lemon meringue, salty pineapple, honey, and Marcona almond. Tropical fruit and grapefruit endure on the finish, along with a sweetness that is never cloying. Pair with all kinds of dessert, but a summery fruit tart would be best! Tim Gagnon
The Domaine du Fresche is a certified organic estate in Anjou producing delightful, fresh, vivacious wines from Chenin, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Grolleau. This lovely rosé of Grolleau and Pinot Noir comes from hand-harvested fruit and is vinified with wild yeasts giving pretty aromas of ripe red currant, blood orange and strawberry. The palate shows silky, pure fruit - red currant with hints of watermelon and citrus and finishes with round red fruits and juicy acidity. A lovely wine and a great value. Thanks to Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche!
If you have a sweet tooth, this Chenin is for you! Bonnezeaux is one of a few sweet wine appellations in the Loire Valley, where grapes are required to be over-ripe, and are sometimes affected by noble rot. "Le Malabé" has about 130 grams of residual sugar, but I honestly thought it was about 80g when I first tasted this wine, thanks to the high acidity and the ample minerality that the schiste soils provide. Just bringing the wine to the nose, one is greeted with honey, quince and with some subtle sweet spice aromas that tickle the senses. On the palate, it's dense, ripe and absolutely delicious. Francois from Grandes Vignes mentioned to me that 2013 was OK for reds in the Loire, very good for their dry Chenin Blanc, and exceptional for the sweet wines. Case in point! Drink now if you're craving sometime sweet, or age for decades. Eben Lillie
Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in amphora with no sulfur added. It's not a common occurrence, but we're very happy to have the opportunity to share this unique wine. The nose is floral, and stony, with hints of stone fruit, but the really fascinating aspect of the wine is the texture. Just letting the wine sit on the palate, I experienced earthiness (possible, but rare for a white wine), crystalline acidity, density in the mid-palate, and a long, mineral finish. Highly recommended for Chenin aficionados and those who are interested in the growing category of amphora wines. Eben Lillie
This is classic Pineau D'Aunis, but with considerable structure compared to many of the ethereal, light expressions of the variety. Notes of black currant, and brambly red rasberry, with stony minerality and a tannic backbone. A bit reminiscent of the Pineau D'Aunis from Eric Nicolas at Domaine Belliviere, it'll be interesting to see how this wine develops in the bottle over the next 3-5 years. I probably won't be holding onto any, but those with more self-control will likely be rewarded. Eben Lillie
A superb and seamless blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Gamay. A melange of red and black fruits, forward and supple but with good balancing acidity. This is a great value — serve cool with roast chicken, charcuterie, goat cheese... Young Coralie and Damien Delecheneau are working as naturally as possible and making lovely wines in Montlouis and Touiraine.This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
From 40 to 80 year-old vines on clay over limestone soils around Benais in Bourgueil. Certified organic since 1965! By now the great work of Stephane Guion needs no introduction to CSW customers, but the quality of his 2014 Cuvée Prestige deserves special attention. The wine is perfectly balanced, with the high acidity and mineral content always present in Stephane's wines framed by precisely ripe and supple fruit with depth and elegance. The aromas show raspberry and blackberry liqueur with hints of dark chocolate, earth and licorice, ripe but bright. Supple, ripe berry fruits on the palate with fine tannins and citrusy acids, deep and intense but forward and delicious now. This wine will drink beautifully over the next 20 years or longer and is highly recommended.
From 80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18 month elevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.Usually the most forward and appropriate for early drinking, this wine is beautifully balanced with lovely mineral infused apple/quice fruit and a long finish. Drink it young if you must, but put some away if you can...DL.
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 45 gr/l RS. A very graceful wine. Ripe mango, pineapple stalk, candied grapefruit peel, lychee, and a hint of wool rise from the glass. The palate perfectly balances opulent fruit and sweetness with bright acidity and a scintillating texture. Although approachable now, it'd be great in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.Le Haut-Lieu—The original Huët vineyard is nearly 9 hectares. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay—and the wines are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu." 2015 Le Haut Lieu: 13% alcohol, 6 grams/liter RS, 5.6 gr/l acidity.
*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day."Undisputably a grand cru vineyard, Le Mont enjoys a choice site on the Première Côte. With less clay and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu, including a high content of green mica, Le Mont yields young wines of intense minerality and often the most linear and precise wine in the Huet lineup. With age, the wines develop great length and finesse." 2015 Le Mont Sec: 13% alc, 7 gr/l RS, 5.5 gr/l acidity.
Lise & Bertrand's 'Version Longue' is sourced from the same two terroirs in Montlouis as the Chenin Blanc for their regular 1er Rendez-Vous but with an extra year of elevage in large used barrels. Vines are a mix of 40 and 70 years old; soils are a combination of sand, silex, and clay over limestone. The 2014 is very bright and mineral, with persistent fruits of dried calimyrna figs, husky green pear skin, wildflower honey, and ripe Meyer lemon throughout. The palate is just off-dry with a high and persistent acidity that keeps the wine feeling fresh and supple into a lengthy finish. A great pairing for bloomy rind cheeses such as Camembert or Brie, richer, not overly spicy Pakistani or North Indian cuisine, and any dish with wild mushrooms. Harmonious and elegant now, this will develop deliciously in the cellar for another 10 years. Drink with only a moderate chill. Karina Mackow
Chenin Blanc from two terroirs in Montlouis - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, yields of 30 hl/ha, aged in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels. The 2015 Premier Rendez-Vous is a beautiful wine. Pale gold color; the aromas are very floral - iris and lime flower with pear, peach, apricot and citrus; the palate is silky and textured with chalky minerals beneath ripe white fruits and citrus peel; the finish is long and tart with refreshing lemony acidity. A delightful wine that is delicious now and will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years. DL
This is a lovely blend of Chenin and Chardonnay from Lise and Bertrand Jousset, showing lime flower, melon, pear and lemon zest aromas. The palate is round and balanced with white fruits, melon, citrus and herbal flavors backed by firm lemony acidity. A delightful and versatile wine that will compliment a wide variety of fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods and mild cheeses. DL
Christophe Foucher at La Lunotte makes brilliant natural wines on his tiny estate in Coufy, near our friends at Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. He practices uncompromising organic work in the vineyard and vinifies without sulfur and bottles by hand.This is a superb Menu Pineau, combining density of fruit with the unusual high-acid character of the grape. From very low-yielding vineyards above the Cher river, near St Aignan. It's a richer style with more skin contact than those of Puzelat/Tue-Boeuf. Christophe transfers his wines from tank into small barrels as soon as the fermentation is under way, where they stay until bottling by hand without filtration. More of an "orange wine" in 2015, the wine shows complex aromas of citrus peel, pear, peach and almond with dried fruits and brown spice. The palate is ripe and full, with firm acidity, showing candied citrus, hay, ripe pear, apricot and stone with white fruits and minerals in the finish. This is an unusual and delicious natural wine - serve with fish or chicken in sauce, full-flavored sushi, and flavorful cheeses. David Lillie
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70 year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2014 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing pure blackberry fruit with earth and licorice with firm mineral acidity. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 to 2030+. Highly recommended. DL
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and femented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate shows earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate with firm citrusy acids. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will acoompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And at $14.99 it's a fabulous value!
This fun Vin Mousseaux (the general term for sparkling wine) has gained a following among Liv's neighbors in Rochefort-sur-Loire, for good reason: It's a delicious sparkling Chenin Blanc that is very easy on the wallet. Methode Ancestrale, from mostly younger vines and including grapes from a tiny parcel of old vines (planted in 1950) for extra character. It's dry, with an interesting texture and flavor profile reminiscent of raw honey. For the quality to price, it's pure gold! Eben Lillie
Classic dry Chenin from schist soils up above Rochefort-sur-Loire overlooking the Loire river with the coulees of Savennieres visible in the distance. Liv combines grapes from her oldest vines (planted in 1940) and and her younger 10 year old vines, with great result. There's very pleasant and inviting fruit up-front, and with some time open, the wine reveals an impressive mineral backbone. For only the second vintage of this cuvée, Liv is doing a great job, and we're looking forward to drinking plenty of the Raguenet in the years to come! Eben Lillie
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and a touch of Grolleau. It's darker hued than many rosés, but totally dry, with a perfect amount of tannin in the finish - very subtle and not mouth coating, more the type you feel at the back of your tongue. With some dark berry fruit and the lovely structure, it's an immediate shoe-in for pairing with food, including but not limited to any of your summer barbecues! Eben Lillie
One case of this lovely old Muscadet is available -not a great vintage to be sure, but a fascinating wine just the same and a testament to Jo Landron's great farming and natural vinifications. Open one to two hours in advance. Aromas of citrus peel, ripe yellow fruits, marzipan, almond and pepper. The palate is dense and full with ripe peach, stone, candied lemon, burned caramel and pear. Very high acidity combined with ripe mature fruit. A wine to sip with langoustines in sauce, monkfish with fennel, a full-flavored raw milk cheese...DL This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
Tasted at the domaine in the fall of 2008, this wine showed fabulously, with lovely aromas of lemon confit, white fruits, mushrooms and earth. The palate was very mineral with stone and gun-metal, mushroom, earth and citrus. Really a lovely wine which should be in full maturity now. Thank-you, Jo Landron! This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
Le Fief du Breil — a great hillside vineyard of clay and quartz stones over orthogneiss, tended in organic and biodynamic farming. 2004 is a great vintage for this wine, which we have enjoyed dozens of time over the years. The vintage in the Pays Nantais was better than in the eastern Loire as good weather held through the harvest, giving wines of excellent ripeness, but with a higher than usual level of acidity — the perfect combination for Muscadet! Re-Tasted in February 2016: Wow, a beautiful wine, packed with dried fruits, citrus, floral and mineral flavors, great balance and length, still young. 12% alc, unchaptalized, drink till 2030? We thank Jo for releasing a bit more of this super wine from his tiny stock of back vintages... This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
From a superb hillside vineyard on orthogneiss with clay and quartz stones. Jo Landron's Fief du Breil is always one of the greatest Muscadet and although the 2005 is a bit less intense than the brilliant 2004, it's still a beautiful wine that's lovely to drink now - and it will improve over the next 5 to 10 years. Pale bronze color, vivid aromas of lime-flower, ripe pear, lemon confit, stone almond and earth. The palate shows stone, mushroom, citrus and white fruits backed by fresh acidity. Long chrystalline finish with citrus and saline minerals. This will accompany any seafood preparation including full-flavored fish such as monkfish and halibut... This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
From a superb hillside vineyard on orthogneiss with clay and quartz stones. A great vintage for Jo's Fief du Breil! Yes, the aromatics are a bit more pronounced than in more austere vintages, and there is more presence of citrus and white fruits on the palate, but the wine retains a superb mineral character and the finish is brisk and very long. Simply a great Muscadet — drinking this alongside the Pepiere Clos des Briords would be a great lesson in the terroirs of the Pays Nantais! Tasted in February 2016, the wine is still youthful although the aromas are opening a bit, with intense minerality on the palate and fabulous length. Delicious now, this will be fabulous in 2025! Brisk enough for oysters and clams, perfect with cod, sole and flounder, complex enough for monkfish and swordfish - hurry down to Blue Moon Fish at the Greenmarket this Saturday!
The vineyards for the Cuvée Domaine are situated on a high plateau with varied soils of sandy clay with amphibolite stones or quartz with subsoils mostly of gneiss, certified organic, with Biodynamic methods. This Spring bottling received 6 months of sur-lie aging and shows the ripeness and balance of 2015, somewhat in the style of 2004. Quite dense with aromas of citrus and white fruits with stone and floral notes. The palate shows pear and stone with citrus and white pepper with firm acidity, quite refreshing. This will accompany shellfish, sushi and mild fish dishes and is full and round enough to enjoy on it's own, or with chicken and other light meals. It's a sensational value!
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
"Ich i go" means strawberry in Japanese - for whom this Pet Nat was initially bottled. This is a rosé made from direct press Pineau d'Aunis and Gamay grown in clay and lime stone. The palate is soft with mild acidity and pleasant sweetness. Flavors of late-picked strawberries and crushed raspberries on the attack and a lingering bitter almond finish. A comforting go-to for watching the sun sink or for an apéro! Amanda Bowman
The Luneau-Papin "L D"Or" is from old vines in a hillside parcel on a south-facing slope with granite subsoil. This is always one of the most elegant and age-worthy Muscadets, which drinks beautifully as a somewhat austere young wine, and opens up gracefully over its 20 to 30 year lifespan. The 2000 shows subtle, quite complex aromas of pear, stone, melon, almond, crême brulée and honeysuckle . The palate shows a firm, youthful structure with citrusy acidity balancing ripe pear, stone and mineral flavors with almond and anise. While not possessing the depth and intensity of the best vintages, this is a lovely 16+ year-old wine that will continue to develop over the next ten years. (Serve cool, not too cold!)
From a small "clos" in La Chappelle Heulin with 55 to 60 year-old vines on a terroir of gneiss with quartz stones. We're happy to have the "Pierres Blanches" back again - it's a small production from Luneau-Papin that rarely makes its way to the US. The 2014 shows beautiful pear and apple aromas with citrus and herbal notes. The palate is silky and refreshing with lovely white fruits, stone and lemon flavors blending together - a bit rounder and softer than the granite based "L d'Or." This is quite delicious now or over the next five years, served with any mild-flavored fish or chicken dish, quiches, goat cheeses and much more.
The Parentière Fraîcheur Iodée de L'Atlantique, which roughly translates as "Atlantic sea-spray" is made from Gros Plant (aka Folle Blanche) grown on gabbro soils near Vallet in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine region. Domaine de la Parentière is a tiny estate which has been practicing organic agriculture for more than 30 years—the grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with wild yeasts and the wines are never chaptalized, remaining light, mineral and refreshing. The 2014 is a bit softer than usual and shows intriguing aromas of ripe melon, bitter lemon, almond, fresh herbs and stone. The palate is lively and light at 10.2% alcohol with pear, citrus, melon and stone flavors with a fresh lemony finish. This will be very refreshing on a hot day, especially with oysters, prosciutto and melon, terrines, salads and fried fish, etc, etc. Did we say this is an amazing value?
The Clos Roche Blanche Cot is back, now made by new proprietor Julien Pineau. The wine shows bright blackberry aromas with cocoa, violet, roast meat, earth and celery, quite pretty, complex and interesting. Dense black fruits on the palate are lifted by bright acidity. The finish is lovely with blackberry and red currant fruits framed in vivid mineral flavors, complex and long. This is a delicious natural wine that happily continues the work of our friends at Clos Roche Blanche, bravo to Julien Pineau!
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
The grapes for this new cuvee from Francois Pinon used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, on a hill-top directly above the Pinon's cave, much deserves to be bottled on it's own. At 18 grams/liter of residual sugar, 12.4% alcohol and strong acidity, the Deronnieres approaches Demi-Sec in style but with superb minerality and balance. The wine shows subtle aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemons and stones. The palate is very saline and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruits, and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great demi-sec with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully!
Another outstanding Vouvray from our friends François and Julien Pinon in Vallée de Cousse, the 2015 "Trois Argiles" shows subtle, complex aromas of lemon, pear, earth, lime-flower, wet stone and almond. There is a hint of sweetness on the palate, perfectly balanced with firm acidity, with mineral flavors, white fruits, lemon peel and herbal notes. The finish is very long with citrusy acids and saline minerals. this is a beautiful young Vouvray that is delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce, Asian cuisnes, vegetable patés, asparagus and mild cheeses. This will gain complexity and become dryer with age, drink at least until 2050... David Lillie
*This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.Tasted in January 2017: Bitter lemon, stone, caramel, honey, anise. Palate dense with mineral, earth, pear, very mineral finish with firm acids. Not with the legnth of the 2002, but still very, very good.
From a plot of very old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2014 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, it's delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
The Plouzeau Chinon Rosé is made from 100% Cabernet Franc vines in conversion to organic certification. A direct press rosé with six hours of maceration on the skins, the wine shows lovely aromas of raspberry and strawberry with hints of orange peel, rose and spice. The palate is dry and refreshing with good density showing berry fruits, peach, citrus and minerals. The finish is clean and refreshing with nice length. Serve quite cool with any casual meal this summer, even grilled foods, or as a refreshing aperitif.
Since Olga Raffault’s passing, the estate has been run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. Vineyard work and winemaking practices are very traditional: vineyard maintenance is done by hand, native yeast fermentations, and long, slow élevage in large, neutral oak (sometimes chestnut, a local wood in the region) barrels. Les Picasses is their top vineyard with 50-year-old Cabernet Franc vines planted in hard alluvial clay soils with a chalk limestone base on semi-steep slopes facing south. This is the perfect terroir to showcase classic Chinon aromas of black cherry, currant, cool blueberry fruit, white pepper, and a touch of tangerine. The palate is fresh and vibrant with juicy plum and black cherry fruit dotted with spice. Tannins are quite soft, yet present, and the finish is long and mineral with dark berry fruit. This is an outstanding example of what Cabernet Franc can be! 2010 is a great vintage for this wine, with the depth and structure for long-term aging. Tim Gagnon
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2012 was a quite successful vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2012 Raffault "Les Picasses" is a surprisingly full-bodied wine, showing ripe strawberry, blackberry, and cooked prune with a fabulous earthy core of stone and mineral flavors. The palate is dense with blackberry, prune, citrus, earth, licorice and cocoa with a long fresh finish. Ripe and forward enough to drink now with anything from roast chicken to steak, the 2012 should age beautifully, perhaps best 2020 to 2030 and beyond...? David Lillie
Gamay from the warm and friendly Rémi Sédès, who has been part of a tiny natural wine renaissance in the Coteaux d'Ancenis, just east of Muscadet in the Loire Valley. Rémi spends countless hours in the vineyards, plows with a horse, and makes wines without any added sulfur. The 2015 is pretty, and very accessible. It doesn't strike me as an obvious "natural wine," it's just really delicious and pure-fruited. I met Noé (Rémi's son) this year while tasting with Rémi in France. Noé emerged from under the table and led me to his wine, which he recommended I try. Though he's only about 5 years old, he's off to a very promising start helping his father with the family business! Eben Lillie
From 25 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. The wine shows subtle aromas of lemon verbena, ripe pear, earth and stone, with hints of anise and melon. The palate is very earthy and mineral with ripe white fruits, citrus, caramel and anise, quite dense and long. This will open up nicely with time. Serve now, decant if possible, with halibut, swordfish, monkfish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses, or hold for ten+ years. This is a lovely Jasnières and a great value!