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Always around 50% Pinot Auxerrois (fermented separately), with Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and a touch of Riesling. The idea here is to make a wine that is easy to drink, says Laurent, and he nails it! There's a subtle touch of spice on the palate, with a crystalline minerality in the finish, thanks to the granite soils. Eben Lillie
Occasionally Laurent will make this old vines Pinot Auxerrois, and it's always a remarkable wine when he does! In 2015, Laurent had some Auxerrois that was meant to be sparkling, but he noticed that the quality was so good that he ended up separating it. On top of that, he also wanted the best juice for this cuvée, so he didn't use any juice from the beginning or the end of the press. The result is a beautifully structured wine, simultaneously charming and serious, with ripe stone fruit on the nose and ample acidity on the palate. A rare and special treat! Eben Lillie
This Gewurztraminer is technically from the Grand Cru Steinert vineyard, but Pierre simply didn't want to present this wine as a Grand Cru, so he calls it "Steiner." To me, it's a perfect Gewurz; a little sweet (22g residual sugar), fresh, floral and clean, with a touch of mint and herbs. I had a bottle that lasted for about a week, and I really enjoyed tasting it every day. I consider this a classic Gewruztraminer, and a great introduction to the grape and it's characteristics. Eben Lillie
Bergweingarten is a vineyard of brown limestone, with South-East exposition in the middle of a hill. Pierre says there's a touch of sandstone influence, which dons a type of crystalline freshness and structure to the wines from this site. There's some stone fruit here, and a nice level of ripeness, with hints of mandarin orange, almond, and spice. Aged on the lees for 11 months in large 100 year old barrels, with 19g S02 total. I wouldn't call this a completely dry Sylvaner - even though the residual sugar is only 1.4g, it's ripe and flavorful and has some lingering fruit in the finish. A very tasty wine, and quite versatile with a variety of foods. Eben Lillie
Though it seems like a relatively new category, it turns out winemakers in Alsace have been making skin contact wines for some time. The first may have been Bannwarth, who experimented with qvevri (georgian clay anforae). Then, along with the Fricks, JF Rietsch, Patrick Meyer, and Bruno Scheuller. From the Grand Cru Vorbourg vineyard, this is Pinot Gris with 12 days of skin contact with no sulfites added. The color is a deep auburn/ruby in the glass, almost reminiscent of a light red. On the palate, it's balanced and clean, with faint tannin, peach fuzz, and subtle red fruit. Eben Lillie
A tasty Cremant d'Alsace, 100% Pinot Blanc, with no sulfites added. It's bright and fresh, but also marked by straw notes and some yeasty overtones. It's a touch funky on the palate but overall very rejuvenating and complex. Eben Lillie
Julie Balagny makes fun natural organic Beaujolais wines. Established in Romanèche-Thorins (near Fleurie) after moving from Paris, Julie has a total of 5 hectares in Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent. Using whole bunches, the grapes are naturally fermented followed by cold carbonic maceration and slow pressing by hand. Julie ages her wines in old barrels with no filtering and no addition of sulfur. Moulin-à-Vent “Docteur Buchaille” comes from over 100-year old vines located in Moulin-à-Vent on a steep parcel of decomposed granite and quartz with north-east exposition. The 2016 Moulin-à-Vent “Docteur Buchaille” has a beautiful structure and floral notes reminiscent of Fleurie. The wine is fresh and vibrant with great acidity and soft tannins. With some oriental spices undertones, the wine displays notes of red and dark berries, tart cranberries, and roses. This is a fun and fresh natural wine to enjoy with light fare, oriental cuisine or roasted chicken. Caroline Coursant
From 80 year-old vines in "Saint-Joseph" and "Grand Cras"on sandy granite soils, farmed organically. Vinification is a two - three week carbonic maceration with wild yeasts, with minimal SO2 added only at bottling, without fining or filtration. Breton makes among the most elegant of Beaujolais and the 2016 Morgon VV shows lovely tart cherry and raspberry aromas with rose, citrus and spice. Pretty high-toned red fruits continue on the palate that is also quite spicy and floral. This will improve with aeration or a few years in the bottle - lovely wine.
Guy Breton's Regnié is from 35 year-old and 100 year-old vines on shallow sandy soils over decomposed granit.The 2016 is exuberantly floral on the nose, redolent of violets and cherry blossoms, with notes of wild strawberry, mustard seed, and spice. The palate is supple and racy, with ripe red and black fruits, black tea, and granitic spice on a bright, high-toned finish. While this is charming now, there's a nice midterm upside for those who prefer a little age on their Beaujolais. John McIlwain
The Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" is from a parcel of 60 year-old vines, wedged into Moulin-a-Vent, with granite soils rich in manganese. The 2016 is an outstanding wine, quite dense and well-structured, showing black cherry and blackberry aromas with violet, citrus and spice.The palate is firm with deep black fruits and mineral flavors with terrific length and balance. This is a beautiful Fleurie, more of a Moulin-a-Vent, actually, that should be decanted or opened well in advance if drinking now. This will accompany grilled meats and coq au vin, and will cellar well, perhaps best 2021 - 2028. David Lillie
This is a lovely Beaujolais from the Chignard family, better known for their Fleurie "Les Moriers." Possessing the bright fruit and balance of the 2016 vintage in Beaujolais, the Julienas "Beauvernay" shows a pretty red/black color, with elegant aromas of red currant and tart black cherry with violet, blood orange, earth and stone. It's ripe and sapid but with lively acidity and perfectly proportioned at 12.5% alcohol. Tart cherry, plum and red currant fruit with saline minerals, earth and spice coat the palate and continue in the earthy finish. Quite lovely now, this should soften and gain complexity with three to five years of aging, drink till 2025-2028. DL
The step-son of Georges Descombes, Damien has worked alongside him since early childhood. L earning everything from Descombes in the vines and shared cellar has instilled the same values in Damien's work ethic: organic viticulture, hand harvesting, native yeasts, zero intervention in the cellar and little if any sulfur at bottling.The 2016 Chiroubles is a particularly pretty, old fashioned Beaujolais! Weighing in at 12% alcohol, the wine shows gorgeous aromas of raspberry and rose with spice and citrus notes. The palate shows sappy raspberry fruit, really lovely, ripe and persistent but light and balanced with refreshing acidity. There is nice length of earthy berry fruit in the long finish. Serve cool with chicken and white meats, and anything grilled this summer. Lovely wine! David Liliie
Damien Coquelet, working in the same stlye as his step-father Georges Descombes, has created some beautifully old-fashioned Beaujolais in 2016. The Morgon Cote de Py shows lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry, citrus and rose, very pretty and bright. The palate shows a bit more stucture and darker fruit than the Damien's Chiroubles, with sappy strawberry fruit, a bit of citrus and a more earthy character. The finish is refreshing and long with juicy berry fruit and firm acidity. Serve quite cool with chicken and white meats, grilled foods and charcuterie. Lovely wine.
Alain Coudert, who took over from his father in the late 80s, produces some of the finest wines in Fleurie. Originally classified as Moulin-a-Vent, the Clos de la Roilette vines produce a somewhat more structured wine with more black fruit aromas than a "normal" Fleurie. The 2015s here, as in much of Beaujolais were high in alcohol and extremely ripe, a bit awkward in their youth and needing a few years to calm down. The 2016 Clos de la Roilette has returned to form showing a bright red/garnet color and aromas of crushed raspberry, violette and brown spice with hints of blackberry, citrus and earth. The palate retains the floral character with creamy raspberry fruit and hints of spice, leather and greens, with nice sappy length. Delicious now and quite easy to drink, although it will benefit from decanting. Serve with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork dishes and mild cheeses. As always the Coudert Clos de la Roilette will benefit from 3 to 5 years or more in the bottle as well.
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are among the very finest Beaujolais produced, and despite the added ripeness in 2015, the wines are oustanding both for current drinking and for aging 10 to 15 years. The 2015 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows ripe black raspberry and blackberry aromas with spice, violet, rose, earth and citrus, quite deep and complex. The palate has a deep, supple, grainy texure and lush black raspberry liqueur that coats the palate. The finish is long with elegant fruit liqueur and firm acidity. Enjoy with a grilled steak this summer, but put some away for future enjoyment as well. David Lillie
The Descombes Morgon Vieilles Vignes is made from 60 to 100 year-old vines from numerous sites on granite soils; semi-carbonic fermentation then aging 6 - 8 months in Burgundy barrels and one year in bottle before release. Dense and dark, this wine has formidable concentration. Some nice floral notes on the nose, with some vegetable ash and herbal characteristics wrapped around the dense dark fruit core. Deep and intense blackberry compote character on the palate is supported by inky tannin. This is a full-blooded Beaujolais that will benefit from a decade in the cellar, though right now its incredibly concentrated dark fruit and raw power should be enticing to those who love their wine with youthful strength. An excellent companion to sweet and sour pork, peking duck, or veal marsala. Andrew Farquhar
Georges Descombes has once again made a light and lovely Morgon in 2016 that will be a joyful drink this summer and over the next few years. The wine shows a bright garnet color with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and rose with a bit of citrus peel and spice. The palate is light but nicely sapid and ripe with supple red fruits with hints of citrus, earth and spice. The finish is ripe and refreshing with juicy acidity. Serve cool and enjoy, this very pretty wine is highly recommended! David Lillie
The 2016 shows a pretty garnet in the glass and offers elegant aromas of violets, black cherry, pepper, and blackberry patch. The vibrant acidity and fine minerality are evocative of the lean 2014 vintage. Flavors of tart red currants, supple blueberry, earth and brown spice finish with tangy orange citrus and cherry pit. Another classic vintage from Georges Descombes! Amanda Bowman
With a total of 13 hectares in Morgon, the Desvignes family has been doing wine since the 18th century. Organically farmed, the grapes are harvested by hand and traditionally vinified with partial destemming, semi-carbonic fermentation, slow maceration, and aging in concrete vats with minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. The Morgon Javernières cuvée comes from 30-year old Gamay vines on a beautiful parcel located on the lower side of Côte de Py, which I visited a month ago. The soil is a mix of decomposed granite with sand and iron-rich red clay. The 2015 Morgon Javernières cuvée is elegant and luscious with notes of dark cherry, blackberries, violet and rose layered with earthy, white peppery and spices undertones. With pretty acidity and supple tannins, the wine has a beautiful and long finish. This is a fantastic wine to enjoy now or in several years. Pair it with roasted light fare, Asian cuisine or vegetarian meals. Caroline Coursant
From a small hillside parcel of 50-plus year-old vines in Brouilly, certified organic. Carbonic maceration with no addition of SO2, followed by foot-pressing, gravity fed into large barrels or foudres for aging. Light Garnet/black color. The 2016, at 12.5% alcohol, is back to the style of the lovey 2014, showing pretty aromas of raspberry and red currant with bright citrus notes and smells of earth and stone. The palate is light but intense with bright raspberry and tart cherry flavors over firm acidity with citrus and earth. The finish is refreshing with lingering citrus and mineral flavors. Serve with charcuterie, fish in sauce, chicken and pork dishes or hold for 5 to 8 years as this should be a very pretty mature wine. David Lillie
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.
The 2016 Lapalu "Eau Forte" is a selection of old-vine juice from Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Organic farming; the whole clusters are pressed in a traditional basket press and fermentation is with wild yeasts in concrete vats (not carbonic). There is a gentle maceration to extract color but with no pigeage or remontage to minimize extraction of tannins. Two-thirds of the wine is moved to older, neutral barrels to complete fermentation while one-third remains in concrete. The wine then stays in barrel or vat for five months before final assemblage and is not fined or filtered before bottling, with only 10mg/Liter of SO2. This wine is not meant to be a vin de garde like the Lapalu Brouilly Croix des Rameaux or Côte de Brouilly - it's a beautiful natural wine showing aromas of blackberry and violet with tart plum orange peel and spice, bright and pretty. The palate has a light feel but is quite intense with dense black raspberry fruit framed in very firm acidity with hints of mint, earth and citrus. This is serious "glou-glou," quite unique and delicious - get some saussisons or grill some pork and enjoy! David Lillie
We are big fans of the 2014 vintage in Beaujolais and we were very happy to get another shipment of the lovely 2014 Regnié from Joëlle and Roland Pignard. (January 1st, 2018) The wine is opening up nicely with pretty aromas of ripe strawberry and black cherry mingling with earth, rose, truffle and brown spice. The palate has softened a bit with bright strawberry, cherry and red currant over the saline minerals and earth with citrus and herbal notes. The wine is subtle and perfectly balanced at 12% alcohol - a real Regnié of terroir that will continue to improve over the next few years. Delicous wine! (Notes from August 2016 below)The Pignards' Regnié is from 50 year-old vines on alluvial clay soils, always giving a well-structured wine. The 2014 shows subtle aromas of ripe red currant and strawberry, very floral and pure. The palate is less fruity, showing stone and mineral flavors with lighter raspberry/strawberry fruit, quite elegant, and finishing with stony acidity. This will need a few years to show at its best but is delicious now in its purity and restraint. Decant if drinking now, best probably 2019 - 2023.
We're very proud to have the lovely Morgons of Roland Pignard at Chambers Street. 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 the hamlet of Saint-Joseph above Villié-Morgon. Biodynamic farming, with no SO2 added until a minimal dose before bottling. The fermentation is with wild yeasts with a relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. The 2015 Morgon shows a vivid deep red color with complex aromas of ripe black cherry and black raspberry, wild flowers, earth and black pepper. The palate is ripe and supple with black raspberry and cherry fruit, brightened by firm acidity with hints of orange peel and brown spice. The finish is long and ripe with lingering black fruits, citrus and mineral flavors. At 13% alcohol, this beautiful Morgon shows the ripeness of the 2015 vintage but in a balanced and nuanced style with a complexity and mineral character found in few of the 2015s. Delicious now, best 2020 to 2025, but who will wait? David Lillie
The Pignard's Morgon Cuvée Tradition is ripe, dense and delicious in 2015! Good friends with Christian Ducroux, the Pignards practise similar methods of biodynamic farming and natural vinifications. Produced from hillside vineyards of sandy clay over limestone in "Les Charmes," the wine ferments naturally, with only 10mg of SO2 added before bottling and spends a year in vat followed by a year in old barriques. The wine shows aromas of blackberry liqueur with earth, spice, citrus and herbal notes. The palate is silky and supple with ripe black fruits, bitter chocolate, earth, spice and citrus - having some aspects of northern Rhone wines in this very warm, dry vintage. The finsh is long with fruit liqueur, spice and citrusy acids. This shows the density and darker fruit flavors of the 2015 vintage but in a more balanced frame at 13% alcohol. Delicious now in it's youthful intensity, probably best from 2020 to 2025. David Lillie
The Pignard's Beaujolais-Villages is from a high-elevation parcel with 40 year-old vines in sandy clay over decomposed granite. There is a very short carbonic-maceration to preserve the fresh fruit and only a tiny addition of sulfur before the bottling. The 2016 ias a subtle, elegant and well-structured Beaujolais, showing pretty aromas of raspberry, plum and tart cherry, with hints of violet, citrus and herbs. The palate shows firm acidity and saline mineral flavors, framing the blackberry and raspberry fruit, with hints of mint, spice and citrus. This is a real Beaujolais of terroir that is elegant and delicious now and will improve over the next few years. David Lillie
We were lucky enough to taste this at La Dive Bouteille last winter - the wine showed beautiful floral raspberry aromas with a refreshing light and lovely palate showing subtle raspberry and cherry fruit. Very long and elegant with a sapid, refreshing finish. A little bit of Volnay in Saint-Amour!
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-Pierre Boyer makes Margaux that resemble the wines of the distant past. His 2000 shows a slightly maturing red/black color with bright aromas of red currant, cassis and raspberry with cedar, rose, citrus and earthy sous-bois notes, really lovely and complex. Relatively light for a Margaux, the palate is deep and velvety with firm tannins under lovely blackberry and cassis fruit with earth, licorice and mineral flavors. It's delicate and powerful at the same time and very long. Delicious now with three to four hours in carafe or after another ten to twenty years in the cellar. David Lillie
A Margaux like no other, more akin to a 19th century claret than to a modern Bordeaux.The 2004 from Jean-Pierre Boyer shows a lovely deep garnet color and smoky red-currant aromas with earth, violet, licorice, spice and citrus peel. The palate is dense and mineral with firm structure, but showing velvety blackberry, cassis and red currant with earth and mineral flavors and a bit of bitter licorice. The finish is long and firm. Suspend your ideas of Bordeaux and enjoy this complex and Burgundian Margaux. Carafe four hours in advance or cellar ten to twenty years.(On day 2 the wine has deepened and softened into a lovely Burgundian Bordeaux)
The 2009 BAMA shows bright deep red/black color with lovely high-toned red fruit liqueur - strawberry, black-currant and cassis, with violet and earth. The palate is dense and ripe with bright acidity - not at all heavy, but with intense black and red fruits backed by flavors of mineral and earth. On day two the bright deep fruits have become more focused and linger on the palate in the long and very mineral finish. This is quite enjoyable as a young wine, especially after a day open, unencumbered by over-extraction and new oak - but beware, this style is for those who like some earth in their Bordeaux! Best to cellar for a very long time...
The 2010 Bel Air Marquis d'Aligre is from very old vines and also from approximately 50 year-old vines planted by M. Boyer at 10,000 plants per hectare. One of the two parcels abuts Chateau Margaux. There is a long fermentation without extraction, the juice remains in cuve until spring, then spends 6 months in old barrels followed by two to three years in cement vat. These are wines made in the lighter "claret" style of the 19th century, although the 2010 shows an incredible density of flavor, given the less-extracted style. Upon opening the wine shows subtle aromas of earth, red currant and cherry fruit with licorice and brown spice. The palate is deep and quite expressive with black cherry, strawberry, earth, licorice and mineral flavors, quite Burgundian in texture. The finish is very long with lingering tart cherry, sous-bois and mineral flavors. After two days open (re-corked) the aromas have broadened with prune, ripe cherry, tobacco, spice and rose and the palate is intense with red and black fruit liqueur, spice box and earth and ending with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. Delicious now with a long decant, this will be an extraordinary mature wine, best perhaps 2035 - 2050. David Lillie
This is an outstanding 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
Château Cartier, the second label of Chateau Fonroque, has been certified organic since 2006 and biodynamic since 2008. The grapes are harvested by hand with long maceration. After fermentation with indigenous yeasts, the wine is aged in oak (30% new) for 16 months. On the palate, this 100% Merlot wine displays a rich bouquet of dark and red plums, cassis, ripe red currant with violet and chocolate notes. With high mineral notes on the nose and palate, the wine has some sanguine and iron overtones. The body is full with smooth tannins. This is a luscious wine that will pair fantastically with grilled meats or barbecued chicken. Caroline Coursant
The 2013 Maison Blanche is a superb blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from at least 45-year-old vines on clay. With low yields, use of native yeast, a combination of old and new oak, and little addition of sulfur at bottling, this wine has an elegant structure with bright acidity, great minerality, and supple tannins. The wine is elegantly complex with a gorgeous bouquet of cassis and plums, dark chocolate, tobacco, cedar box, earthy and purple floral notes. On the palate, the wine is luscious with a long and beautiful finish showcasing its finesse. This is a delicious wine that can be cellared for several years (8+ years). Pair it with beef stew, braised beef, spare ribs or lamb. Caroline Coursant
Château Massereau, an estate located in Barsac, has been farming organically since its acquisition by the Chaigneau family in 2000. The estate is fully committed to natural wine making and it shows in the quality of the wine. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermented in concrete vats and then aged in neutral barrique for 18 months with minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. Made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, planted in alluvial soils, the wine displays a bouquet of dark berries and plums with dried green herbs, menthol notes and a hint of violet, tobacco leaf and cedar notes. This elegant wine has a beautiful structure with firm acidity and smooth tannins. A great wine at a beautiful price, this wine will pair fantastically with racks of lamb, kebabs, steaks or pork chops -- a crowd-pleasing choice! Caroline Coursant
This delectable, organic Bordeaux from the Fédieu family is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. On the nose, the wine displays notes of dark berries, cassis, menthol, dried rose petals, violets, yellow tobacco, young leather and oriental spices. On the palate, the balance between acidity, tannin and oak is beautiful; with great minerality coming from the gravelly sandy soils, the wine shows some weight with a bright freshness. Complex without being too much, this lively wine strikes the right balance between a table wine and a wine for more special occasions. Drink with meat recipes such as steak au poivre, ragouts, lamb kebabs, or braised pork. Caroline Coursant
This certified organic wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The wine offers a bouquet of ripe berries, plums and cherries with some light savory herbs and spice notes. This wine has a good acidity and minerality (thanks to the vineyard's limestone soil) giving a pleasant freshness and brightness to the wine. The Cru Godard is an enjoyable pairing with various dishes from grilled pork chops to the classic hamburger. Caroline Coursant
Château Gombaude-Guillot, a renowned Pomerol estate, owned by the Bélevier family for several centuries, is the perfect illustration of classic, gorgeous Pomerol. Surrounded by illustrous estates (Chateau La Gay, Vieux Chateau Certan), the domaine has a superb terroir of gravel, flint, and clay. The estate is certified organic and follows biodynamic practices. Claire Laval, who currently manages the estate, believes in authentic farming with no use of herbicides or fungicides, low yields, and a clear respect of the ecosystem. The Pomerol is a blend of Merlot (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%) from 40-year-old vines and shows off the beautiful gravel minerality of the terroir. All grapes are harvested by hand and fully destemmed. After natural fermentation in concrete and stainless steel vats for 3-4 weeks, the wine is aged in French oak barrels (around 50% new oak) for an extended period, with no filtering and minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. The resulting wine is rich, complex and luscious with an elegant bouquet of rich dark berries and plums, earth, spice, gorgeous gravel minerality, nice acidity and silky tannins. The finish is long and beautiful. A superb wine for great occasions. Drink now or age it for 10+ years. Caroline Coursant
Dark red color, cassis and plummy nose, lots of sweet fruit, good tannin, nice maturing Bordeaux. About 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot & Petit Verdot. La Lagune has always fermented using the indigenous yeasts from the vineyard. It is always one of the very best of the Haut Medoc and is very, very long lived.
Le Colombier de la Métairie is Maison Blanche's second label. Certified organic and biodynamic, this label is known for its accessibility while keeping a beautiful structure. The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from about 45-year-old vines, located in Montagne, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Libourne. The soils are clay-based, with a subsoil of limestone and gravel. Fermented with native yeast, the wine is aged for 15 months in cement vats and old barrels with minimal sulfur added before bottling. Le Colombier de la Metairie 2014 has a bright and fresh structure with great acidity, superb minerality, and smooth tannins. The nose is full of dark berries and plum notes, with some wood, spice, dry tobacco, herbal and floral undertones. On the palate, the wine is quite enjoyable with plenty of energy, savory notes, and a nice finish. This is a great, fresh wine that can accompany many different meals from the classic hamburger to spare ribs or herb-roasted lamb. A fantastic value to drink now or age for a few years. Caroline Coursant
We are excited to add this delicious certified organic wine to our Bordeaux selection! Domaine Les Trois Petiotes, a 3-hectare estate in the Côtes de Bourg owned by Valérie Godelu, has been a proponent of "less is more" on the field and in the cellar for more than a decade. Fully destemmed with stainless steel tank fermentation, the wine is aged in neutral oak for 4 years with minimal sulfur addition. The result is a very expressive wine with a beautiful structure combining vibrancy and texture. The wine, a blend of Merlot (around 65%), Cabernet Franc and Malbec, shows pretty notes of red plums, black and blue berries, wooden cigar box, and violets with menthol and savory undertones. With a superb minerality coming from the soil, a mix of sand, clay, limestone and gravel, supple tannins, and bright acidity, the wine is welcoming and exciting. Pair this wine with classic dishes, such a steaks, beef stews and barbecued pork. A delicious wine at a great price. Caroline Coursant
The Peybonhomme-les-Tours "Energies" is a selection of the best grapes, vinified with wild yeasts and aged for 12 months in terra cotta amphorae, 60% Merlot, 30% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine shows a dense red/black color with ripe blackberry and cassis aromas with stone and earth. The palate is supple, sapid and ripe with blackberry liqueur, red currant, bitter chocolate and stone. The finish is long with saline mineral flavors and firm acidity. The "Energies" is an elegant glass of Bordeaux that is lovely now with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses. Or cellar for ten years as this should age beautifully. Congratulations to the Huberts for this beautiful natural wine!
(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
A rarity we see all too infrequently. We recommend decanting ahead for maximum enjoyment.
A rarity we see all too infrequently. We recommend decanting ahead for maximum enjoyment.
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.
Viré Classé is a privileged location in the Macon that enjoys a fantastic exposure to the sun on a slight slope. This yields wines that have an added weight and complexity compared to your run-of-the-mill Macon-Villages. At Chazelles organic vines with over 50 years of age broadcast dense flavors of golden apple and stone fruit with an invigorating touch of acid. This is a great Chardonnay with concentration and freshness that could age beautifully for years.
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
The Montmains vineyard lies on the left bank of the Serein River a bit south of Vaillons. The 2015 has a ripe nose redolent of white flowers, orchard fruit, and citrus oil. The palate offers ripe golden apple, and Meyer lemon flavors underlain with subtle notes of sea spray and dusty minerality on a persistent finish. John McIlwain
Located on the right bank of the Serein, Montée de Tonnerre is one of the more structured premier crus, distinctly mineral and long-lived. The 2015 Duplessis Montée de Tonnerre is a classic expression from the site. Crushed herbs, lime zest, flint, and sea spray on the effusive nose. The palate shows incisive minerality with pungently saline character offset by cool-toned apple and citus notes. this is deeply stony with driving energy on an impressively long and palate-staining finish. Excellent now with a quick decant, better still in 3-5 years. John McIlwain
Located on the left bank of the Serein, the name Vaugiraut derives from “Vaul Girault,” which means Girault's valley, likely the name of a local owner. Aged entirely in cuve (stainless steel tank), Duplessis' 2015 Vaugiraut offers pretty aromas of white flowers, honeysuckle, white peach, and crushed herbs. The palate displays flavors of white peach, citrus, and salt with hints of green tea and quinine on the stony, precise finish. John McIlwain
The Jobard Rully "En Villerange" is from a 2 hectare parcel facng south-south-east with old vines in clay/limestone soils. This is an elegant and well-priced white Burgundy showing aromas of ripe pear, lemon confit, lime-flower and almond framed in a bit of oak. The palate is supple and ripe with white fruit, herbal and mineral flavors framed in firm acidity and nicely rounded by the fermentation and elevage in barrel. Quite ripe and nicely balanced, it's delicious now and over the next 5 to 8 years.
"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
From a north-facing parcel fairly high on the slope next to Meursault Les Vireuils. Subtle, rather delicate aromas of lime-flower and citrus, with white fruits, stone and honeysuckle. The palate is fresh and bright with mineral flavors predominating, with pear, lemon peel and herbal notes, quite pure and refreshing. The opposite of an oaky fruit-bomb, this is a light and lovely Chardonnay of terroir that will accompany shellfish, sole, flounder, cod and young goat cheeses.
While the 2014 vintage resulted in a number of stellar white Burgundies graced with energy and complexity, some of the most striking have come from Chablis. Moreau-Naudet was especially successful and the wines show class from the basic villages thru the premier and grand crus. The 2014 Vaillons is a radiant example of the terroir, with airy aromas of stone fruit, citrus peel, honeysuckle, and wet stone. The palate is vibrant with minerality and punchy acidity, with smoky flint vying with cool-toned citrus, and spice flavors on a concentrated, tactile finish, which is just a shade broader than that of the Forêts. Lovely now, but there's plenty of dimension which bodes well for aging (if you can resist drinking your bottles in the near term). John McIlwain
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. The 2016 "Coucherias" is an extraordinary wine showing elegant aromas of almond, lemon confit and pear with subtle spice and mineral notes. The palate is deep and concentrated but beautifully balanced by firm acidity, very sapid and pure with a perfect finish of stone, pear, lemon and herbal flavors. This is a beautiful white Burgundy that is superb now but will be even better after a few years in the cellar, probably best 2021 - 2030. Highly recommended. David Lillie
From vines dating from the 1920s and 1940s. Organically farmed, and vinified in used oak barrels. The 2014 is a beautiful expression of Pouilly-Fuissé fusing the bright minerality of the old vines with the sunny richness of the appellation. The robe is a green gold hue. The nose is redolent of stone fruit and citrus peel. The palate is racy on the attack, with a pungent stony character giving way to a supple ripeness building on a long, lingering finish. This is lovely and a great candidate for cellaring in the mid-term, say 8-10 years, though one could certainly tuck into a bottle earlier. John McIlwain
The 2015 Cos Varambon is a beautiful Pouilly-Fuissé to drink over the next five to eight years. The aromas show lovely pear, peach, honeyed lime-flower and citrus. The palate is round and ripe with dense pear and citrus fruit, very calcaire and supported by firm acidity despite the ripeness of the vintage. Serve with fish in sauce, white meats and mild cheeses or sip happily by itself, delicious wine!
The Pouilly-Fuissé cuvée Pierrefolle is made from the only vineyard situated outside the Clos at Rontets: this plot is set only 500 meters south and is warmer because of its plain East exposure and the sheltered position from the North wind. This climat has older geological origins, preceding the Jurassic era: it sits on a granitic bedrock and its soil has no clay or limestone. This is why at the beginning of the 1970s it was planted using the Riparia rootstock, which has low vigor and guarantees limited yields and very good quality grapes. All these characteristics produce wines with lower acid, compared to those produced within our Clos. Although larger and somehow more generous, Pierrefolle is always sustained by a precise mineral expression and citrus aromatic note. In the warm 2015 vintage, the Pierrefolle shows ripe aomas of white and exotic fruits with a bit of spice and earth. The palate, however, remains very mineral with firm saline acidity underlying the pear and citrus fruit. The finish is long with mineral flavors lingering on the palate. This is a beautiful Burgundy and a great food pairing - drinking well now, but five to ten years of aging will be very interesting. Highly recommended. David Lillie
This beautiful Pouily-Fuissé is from old vines in the Clos on hard limestone with very thin silty clay topsoil. Certified organic farming, long slow fermentations with wild yeasts and aging in large oak barrels, none new. The wine shows bright aromas of pear, lemon confit, herbs and stone. The palate shows creamy white fruits and citrus flavors with firm very chalky acidity and a hint of oak. The wine is beautifully balanced and refreshing, drinking wonderfully now, but it will improve with 5 to 8 years of aging. This is a lovely White Burgundy, comparing favorable at the price with wines from the Cote d'Or.
This is a superb, subtle and very mineral Chardonnay from a replanted parcel at the very top of the Clos, abandoned since 1896, with thin clay soils rich in iron over limestone. A great terroir, never chemically treated and worked in biodynamic farming by Alain and Julien Guillot. The 2015 "les Chassagnes" is a beautiful wine, a bit fuller than the 2014 but still quite racy and stony with hints of white fruits, spice and honey. The palate is silky and crystalline - all minerals with subtle citrus and white fruits, very long and elegant. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Sourced from a small plot within La Fosse, planted in 1959, Venus is named after the draft horse that plowed the vines. The soils are exceptionally chalky relative to the soils of other parts of Avize which have more clay, per Peter Liem. Aged under cork rather than crown cap and bottled without dosage, Venus is profoundly mineral and a study in chalk, with the old vines' deep roots preserving that sense of terroir even in warmer or 'off' vintages. John McIlwain
Mineral is a vintage-dated blend of Chardonnay from two particularly chalky lieux dits within the grand cru villages of Cramant and Avize, with the grapes from Bionnes (Cramant) vinified in demi-muid and Le Champ Bouton (Avize) vinified in tank and blended in equal parts.Sea spray, peach skin, grapefruit peel on the nose. Bright and fresh on the palate with good cut, incisively mineral with pungent chalk notes on the long driving finish. Delicious now, perhaps better still with a few years to allow the structural elements knit. John McIlwain
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...") (new inventory disgorged June 2017)
(NOTE: This refers to a 2014 disgorgement - this wine, from the same lot, was disgorged in 2017.) 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
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.
2002 is a "magnificent vintage for Champagne" says Jancis Robinson and the 2002 Beaufort Policy Demi-Sec (disgorged in June 2017) is a beautiful example. The aromas are a lovely melange of honeyed citrus, pear and exotic fruits and floral notes with chalk, caramel and anise. The palate is a treat of sweet white fruits and citrus backed by earth and stone flavors with just enough acidity. The finish has a nice mineral balance and terrific length. Superb now, this will be very interesting in ten years or more, as after fourteen years on the lees it seems youthful and firm. (last of stock) David Lillie
The 2006 Ambonnay Brut Grand Cru shows subtle mature aromas of pear, almond, marzipan and citrus, very earthy with hints of exotic fruit and spice and wet stone. Give this some time to open up. The palate shows a delicate, creamy mousse with complex earthy white fruits, herbal notes and mineral flavors with nice acidity in the finish. A lovely wine of contemplation. (Disgorged June 2017)
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious..." Anonymous notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017 (Disgorged April, 2017)
For those of a classical bent who prefer not to shop at the big Champagne houses, André Beaufort is a wonderful alternative. Longtime organic farming and extended lees-aging produce rich wines of uncommon detail and complexity. The 2010 Ambonnay offers aromas of white flowers, orange peel, bergamot, and chalk on the nose. Bright acid, salted plum, citrus oil, and fine line of sapid minerality on the supple and rich palate.This shows a fine interplay between power, tension, and suave, supple finish. This is one heck of an Ambonnay and a fine bottle of Beaufort! (Disgorged June 2017) John McIlwain
André Beaufort 2010 Polisy Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, disgorged in June, 2017. This is a youthful and brilliant Blanc de Noirs from Amaury Beaufort and family that is sensationally vinous and complex, reflecting the decades of organic farming and low yields at this extraordinary estate. The wine shows aromas of raspberry, peach, lime-flower, citrus, hazelnut and stone. The palate is ripe and firmly structured with citrusy acids enveloping red fruits, thistle and creamy lemon with stone, white fruit, floral and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a young and beautiful wine that will accompany a meal such as fish in sauce or chicken with morels, and of course delicious as an aperitif. Rich, but quite age-worthy, perhaps best 2020 to 2030. DL
The 2012 Polisy Rosé needs a bit of aeration, then shows aromas of red currant, rose, earth, citrus and white pepper.The palate shows earthy raspberry fruit wild cherry, and cool hints of delicate herbs. There's a fine interplay between brambly hedge fruit and soil notes. Enjoy this with confit tuna or roasted salmon with salsa verde. John McIlwain
A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the Montagne de Reims, partially destemmed, fermented in barrel, and bottled without fining or filtration. The 2014 Bérêche Coteaux Champenois offers aromas of wild cherry, black raspberry, brambles and roasted nuts. The palate shows good density with dark fruits, crushed herbs, an underlying iodine-like soil note, and a fairly packed and somewhat dense lingering finish. This is a bit inscrutable at the moment and will benefit with a couple of hours of air or some time in the cellar. All the elements are here for further development: a serious Coteaux worthy of mid-term cellaring. John McIlwain
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. Reflets is 2/3 reserve wine and 1/3 from the 2012 vintage. The current release has a golden yellow robe and a super fine bead. The nose features aromas of shortbread, ripe apple, orange zest and baking spice. The palate is round and broad with an underlying mineral tension and a cool, vibrant, rising finish. Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. A fine pairing with richer seafood dishes, roast poultry, or enjoy with a fine Comté. John McIlwain
Les Beaux Regards is a blend of two parcels of Chardonnay in Ludes on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims planted in 1964 and 1970. The loamy clay soils produce a Champagne more vinous in character, rather than exclusively taut and chalky. The 2013 displays floral and stone fruit aromas with lemon blossom, brioche, and nectarine giving way to citrus peel and green apple. The palate is distinctly chalky and racy, with overtly mineral flavors, cool notes of mint and quinine, and a long tangy, sapid finish. (Dosage 3g/L) John McIlwain
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. Reflets is 2/3 reserve wine and 1/3 from the 2012 vintage. The current release has a golden yellow robe and a super fine bead. The nose features aromas of shortbread, ripe apple, orange zest and baking spice. The palate is round and broad with an underlying mineral tension and a cool, vibrant, rising finish. Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. A fine pairing with richer seafood dishes, roast poultry, or enjoy with a fine Comté. John McIlwain
100% Pinot Meunier from the single parcel La Ruedes Noyers, farmed biodynamically, fermented in barrel. The 2013 Coteaux Blanc from Benoît Déhu has a lovely nose combining aromas of fresh stone fruit, sea spray, salted plum, and spice. The palate is racy and ripe with good richness (for a Coteaux Champenois). Flavors of fresh apricot, Rainier cherry and citrus peel vie with mineral notes for attention on a long sapid finish. This is a lovely Coteaux with just the right tension between the bright fruit notes and savory character. Delicious! John McIlwain
100% Pinot Meunier, fermented in barrel with native yeasts bottled with low sulfur. From the Rue des Noyers parcel. Violets and hedge fruits on the nose. Brambles and black raspberry on the palate with spice notes and a distinctly stony energetic finish. This has great lift and drive and is fascinating to taste alongside the Coteaux Blanc and Champagne from the same parcel. Le terroir parle! 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 2013 vintages and balances nicely the classic richness of 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 table with its balance of generous fruit and earthy structure. 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
Benoît Marguet has long been one of our favorite vignerons. Not only is he passionate about biodynamics and terroir, but one can't overlook the fact that his wines are positively delicious. Imagine our delight when he opened a bottle of his Coteaux Champenois for us in Ambonnay last year! Dark ruby robe. Effusively aromatic displaying aromas of violets, Morello cherry, and Pinot spice. The palate offers waves of bright cherry and red plum fruit, with notes of black tea and spice, deftly framed by ripe tannins and fresh acidity. This shows great poise and balance between gorgeous ripe fruit and a pungent, nearly saline sense of minerality. Wonderful now, but this should really blossom with 5-7 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier offering aromas of wild strawberry, wild cherries, a supple red-fruited palate, and delicate, fine-grained minerality. A lovely wine for cheeses or a fine apéritif with a light chill. Pretty and graceful, rather than powerful. John McIlwain
An organically-farmed Blanc de Noirs from the eponymous lieu-dit in the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The wine is a notable expression of this terroir, as Fabrice Pouillon reveals by vinifying with only the natural sugars from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir, in addition to only utilizing the indigenous yeasts present in the must. He accomplishes this by chilling unsulfured grape must in tank to a temperature low enough to prevent spoilage or fermentation. This must is then used for the secondary fermentation, as well as the dosage after disgorgement, rather than cane sugars or MCR. The resulting wine is layered and supple with a fine bead, displaying red fruits, blood orange peel, and spices, expressing the vinous character of Pinot Noir grown in the clays of the Grande Vallee de la Marne. John McIlwain
Côte de Béchalin, formerly known as La Parcelle when part of the Inflorescence lineup, comes from a meticulously farmed .73 hectare parcel in Celles-sur-Ource. Where previously Bouchard sold wines made by the former owner, then vinified the wines in those cellars, 2007 was the first vintage where the wines were made completely in Bouchard's cellars. While these champagnes have seemed to have a broader palate with more exotic fruit, they maintain poise with pinpoint acidity. One can certainly enjoy this now, but some time in the cellar to further knit the elements of structure and fruit should pay off handsomely. -John McIlwain
Les Ursules is a Blanc de Noirs from a single parcel of less than a hectare of the same name in the Côtes des Bars. As always Cédric Bouchard’s aesthetic is vineyard expression above all. This single vineyard, single vintage Pinot Noir is raised in stainless steel, to avoid any influence of wood that would mask the character of the terroir. The long, slow secondary fermentation and bottling without dosage produces a vinous, savory champagne that benefits from decanting and serving in a wine glass rather than a flute to better appreciate the concentrated, earthy character of the Pinot Noir grown in this vineyard. John McIlwain
Formerly known as Infloresence, as of 2012, Val de Vilaine, this blanc de noirs comes from a south-facing 1.49ha plot of vines in Polisy planted in 1974 owned by Cédric's father. If there's such a thing as an 'entry level' Champagne in Bouchard's lineup, this is it. Historically more approachable when young than Bouchard's other wines, Val de Vilaine, is now more tightly wound and concentrated as the already small yields were nearly halved to 26hl/ha bringing it in line with the other cuvées of Roses de Jeanne. Here you'll find a classic expression of Polisy terroir. -John McIlwain
Aurelien Suenen is one of the bright young stars of the Côte des Blancs, whose Champagnes seem to improve with every new release. His 2014 based Oiry Blanc de Blancs is a beauty. Wines from the village 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 2014 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of yuzu, Meyer lemon, 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 2014 will make a fine aperitif and shiny brightly with crudo or sashimi. John McIlwain
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
Domaine Gabriel Billard is now directed by Claudie Jobard. The four hectares of parcels in and around Beaune and Pommard have a very high percentage of old vines. While not organic, only natural composts are used, with minimal treatments in the vines and regular light tilling ("griffage") and wild-yeast fermentations. The 2015 Cuvee Milliane "Vieilles Vignes" is from vines near Pommard and shows complex aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry, with violets, orange peel, earth and smoke. There are dense red fruits on the palate, quite sappy, also very earthy and mineral, and quite balanced for a 2015 at 13% alcohol. The finish is long and well-structured - the wine will obviously benefit from 3 to 5 years of aging, but it's quite delicious now in it's intense youth. This is a "serious"Bourgogne rouge at a great price!
The Simon Bize 2015 Savigny Les Bourgeots is higher-toned and more tightly wound than the Bourgogne Perrières. The nose is in a cool register: vine smoke, black cherry skin, wild blackberry cassis, mint, and a hint of brambly wet bark. The palate is tightly wound and nervy, but offers a fine tension between cool ripe fruit and a pungent, sapid mineral character. This needs plenty of air to come together, but the purity of fruit and energy that's implied within the structure is intriguing. Decant now or cellar for 3-5 years to allow the elements to integrate. Should be interesting to follow over the next 7-10 years. Quite enjoyable with pasta and a sausage and mushroom ragu, and should work beautifully with pork in a mustard sauce, or with crispy duck confit and a salad of bitter greens. John McIlwain
Aux Grands Liards is located beneath the Les Lavières premier cru. Its soils are comprised of limestone, ferrous clay, and gravel. Per the Domaine, the vines were planted in 1939, 1950, and 1979. The 2015 Aux Grands Liards is a bit more backwards than Les Bourgeots on opening. With air, the nose expands to reveal pure wild cherry, black currant, pomegranate, and an array of baking spice aromas, with just enough earthy notes to remind you that this is Savigny. The palate—equally circumspect on opening—also gains expressiveness and complexity with air. Lovely flavors of red and black cherry, hedge fruits, and game are counterbalanced by savory mineral and spice notes on a vibrant and velvety finish, with a sneakily racy acidity, and ripe tannins framing the whole affair. You could certainly enjoy this young, but there is fantastic potential here for aging into something special. One heck of a Savigny-Les-Beaune for those with patience! 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
Certified organic and farmed with biodynamic methods, Domaine Chevrot is one of the gems of Maranges. The lieu-dit Sur le Chêne is a south-facing plot on gravelly limestone on the eastern side of the appellation. The fruit from the 50-60 year old vines is hand-harvested, fermentation is 50% whole cluster, and the wine aged for 11 months in 15% new oak. The 2014 has aromas of red fruits, black tea, and orange peel with hints of smoke and spice. The medium weight palate balances red cherry and raspberry flavors with earthy notes and medium-grained tannins on a medium long finish. This offers a nice balance of fruit and Maranges minerality at an affordable price point. Decant now before serving or cellar for 5-9 years. -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
The Pernand-Vergelesses vineyard "Les Belles Filles" is a northern extension of "Iles des Vergelesses" and "En Carradeux" facing east and usually producing an elegant, very pretty light-bodied Burgundy. In 2015, the hot, dry conditions gave this vineyard (and others in Auxey-Duresses for example) their moment in the sun with wines of balance and firm acidities but showing the ripeness of the vintage. The 2015 "Belle Filles" is quite beautiful, beginning with the usual floral tart cherry and raspberry aromas found in this wine; with aeration, the aromas deepen into earthy black cherry with hints of licorice and graphite. The palate shows ripe black cherry and strawberry fruit with earth and mineral flavors, quite dense and deep but still light on its feet and balanced with firm acidity. Three days later, the wine is really singing with terrific depth and length of black fruits and saline minerals. This is a great vintage for "Belles Filles." Decant well in advance if drinking now, best to cellar five to eight years and drink till 2033. David Lillie
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
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 a .41 hectare parcel planted in 1940 and 1984. Les Vaucrains is situated upslope of the premier crus Les St. Georges and Les Cailles in the middle portion of Nuits St. Georges. The soils are a blend of brown clay, limestone, sand, and rock producing vigorous, powerful, and elegant wines of great ageablity. Vigneron Christoph Drag says of the climat, “the fat clays make it hard to work the earth.” Domaine Chauvenet’s 2014 Vaucrains has a darker robe than Les Perrières. The nose is effusive, offering a kaleidoscopic mélange of black fruit aromas, cassis, brown spices, game and iron; over time notes of crushed blackberry, grilled meat, and wet stone emerge. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied and supple, offering flavors of ripe blackberry, Italian plum, iodine, game, and wood smoke on a long, layered, and mouth-watering finish. There is plenty of power and intensity here, without a sense of weight; deft acidity offers a sense of lift and freshness. This is a beautiful and complex Vaucrains and exciting wine in the making, with a sensational interplay of pure, ripe fruit and savory minerality. While one could enjoy this now, it has the structure and balance to age harmoniously for years. 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
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 shallow red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentations with minimal SO2. The 2015 Jane et Sylvain Côte de Nuits-Villages is a superb and unusual Burgundy showing intense aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry with rose leaf, brown spice and herbal notes as well as dusty stone and mineral smells which are typical of this vineyard. With aeration the aromas become more pure and fruit-driven and the palate shows lovely black cherry, strawberry and red currant fruit, quite dense and ripe, with a finish that's extraodiarily long and pure. Decant 4 to 6 hours in advance if drinking now or cellar for 3 to five years and drink till 2027. Highly recommended for those who enjoy some minerals in their Burgundy!
This lovely Gevrey by our organic friends, Jane et Sylvain, is 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2015 shows very pretty high-toned ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit with violet, soil, graphite and citrus peel. The palate is dense and balanced, with a mineral aspect missing in most modern Burgundies, with supple ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with citrus and herbal notes. The finish is very long with red fruits, spice, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-fashioned Burgundy that is delicious now and should age nicely, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
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. Beautifully balanced for a 2015 and built to age, the wine shows subtle, complex black fruits with hints of spice, citrus and earth. The palate is supple and well-structured with red and black fruits backed by firm acidity and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Certainly enjoyable now with a long decant, best held for five to eight years then enjoy until 2035. Lovely wine. David Lillie
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
Les Faconnières, planted in 1948, is located beneath Clos St. Denis. 50% whole cluster. This is always the most stylish of Virgile Lignier's premier crus. More floral and denser on the palate than Les Chenevery, with a good deal of the class of the grand crus. The 2015 is effusively perfumed with heady aromas of black and red hedge fruits, wild cherry, and spice. The palate is distinctly mineral, framing lush flavors of sweetly ripe cherry and blackberry, with notes of game and mustard seed on a tense, vibrant finish. As with others of Lignier-Michelot's 2015s, the effusive ripeness in underlain by good structure and bodes well for long-term cellaring. John McIlwain
Les Faconnières, planted in 1948, is located beneath Clos St. Denis. 50% whole cluster. This is always the most stylish of Virgile Lignier's premier crus. More floral and denser on the palate than Les Chenevery, with a good deal of the class of the grand crus. The 2015 is effusively perfumed with heady aromas of black and red hedge fruits, wild cherry, and spice. The palate is distinctly mineral, framing lush flavors of sweetly ripe cherry and blackberry, with notes of game and mustard seed on a tense, vibrant finish. As with others of Lignier-Michelot's 2015s, the effusive ripeness is underlain by good structure and bodes well for long-term cellaring. John McIlwain
Like the rest of the 2015 Lignier-Michelot lineup, the Clos de la Roche combines beautiful soaring aromatics with beautiful pure fruit, and a savory sense of earthiness. The nose is explosively perfumed with beguiling aromas of ripe black cherry, red plum, violets, exotic spices, and roasted game. Supple palate shows impressive concentration, with dark fruit flavors, and layers of minerality on a long, driving finish. This has a all the elements to age effortlessly and should reward 10-15 years in the cellar and beyond. 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
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 strawberry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocolate 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. David Lillie
The young and very talented Stéphane 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 2015 is particularly beautiful, showing a bit more depth and ripeness than the excellent 2014, with aromas of blackberry and strawberry liqueur, violet, brown spice, orange peel, smoke and earth. The palate is dense, but not over-ripe, with earthy black fruits, bitter chocolate, citrus and spice with a core of firm acidity and mineral flavors. Quite delicious as a young wine, this ripe and elegant Morey-Saint-Denis will be at its best from approximately to 2022 to 2030. Those looking for value in a 2015 red Burgundy should consider buying a case of this lovely wine. David Lillie
From two premier crus, Les Gruenchers and Clos Baulet, mid slope in Morey Saint-Denis, giving a slightly fuller wine than Faconnieres. As with all of Stephane's parcels, there is a high percentage of old vines of "pinot tordu." The wine is more structured due to the deeper clay soils and gets less pigeage. The 2015, tasted in January 2017, was less aromatic than the Faconnières with very deep ripe red and black fruits, with herbal and mineral flavors and terrific length. This will need time in the cellar but should be a superb mature wine. David Lillie
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey-Saint-Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2015 Faconnières was the star of the premier crus tasted at the estate last January, with lovely aromas of black fruits and violets. The palate was dense, elegant, and chalky with black fruits, earth and mineral flavors that continued in the very long finish. 20% new oak. Hold for 5 to 6 years minimum, said Stéphane, best at 7 to 15 years. Fabulous wine! David Lillie
Organic since 2001, Taupenot-Merme, located in Morey St. Denis (with substantial holdings in St. Romain) produces classically styled Burgundies. The 2015 Bourgogne Rouge was fermented in tank and raised in older barrels. The nose is effusive and dark fruited, with aromas of black cherry, cherry stone , and violets, with notes of game and earth. The mid-weight palate similarly displays flavors of bing cherry, damson plum, underbrush and spice with good drive and life on a persistent, bright finish. Enjoy with roasted pork, or braised chicken, and strong cheeses. John McIlwain
Le Gros is from Grolleau Noir, Grolleau Gris and Gamay grown on shist with clay and gravel, certified organic, vinified naturally, with little or no SO2 added. The 2016 Le Gros needs some aeration then shows floral, peppery raspberry aromas, quite bright and lifted by firm acidity. The palate is fresh and medium-bodied with earthy raspberry and red currant fruit that continues in a long juicy finish. This natural wine is best decanted in advance and served with charcuterie and pork or chicken. 12% alcohol.
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
The Baudry Chinon "Domaine" is always one of our favorite reds from the Loire Valley and it's a sensational value as well. 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 with minimal added SO. The 2014 "Cuvée Domaine" was a sensational wine and really built to age, while the 2015 is a bit more round and forward, and even more delicious for current drinking. The wine shows a deep red/black color and beautiful aromas of ripe red and black fruits with hints of earth, roast meat, black pepper and violet. The palate is dense and sapid with supple strawberry and blackberry liqueur and mineral flavors lifted by bright acidity. The fruit is quite ripe but the wine is well balanced at 12.5% alcohol. This is a superb "Domaine" that is a bit less structured than the 2014 - it's delicious now and will be singing in 2027 as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
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 permits a tiny production from franc de pied vines) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barrels, 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. The 2015 Le Clos Guillot is absolutely beautiful, showing elegant aromas of blackberry liqueur, violets, stone and roast meat, a bit darker than Les Grézeaux, lovely and ethereal. The palate is dense and silky with blackberry and black raspberry fruit, ripe and sapid, perfectly balanced and bright with a firm mineral core. The finish is long and pure. While this is beautiful now, cellaring of seven to ten years should reveal a profound mature wine, then drink until 2035+ David Lillie
From 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 5 year-old barrels. Dark black/purple color with quite floral blackberry and strawberry aromas, with a bit of earth, spice and citrus. Very silky and supple on the palate ("We don't extract anymore" said Matthieu) with stony black fruits, meaty, chalky and long. Good acidity in the finish with graphite and velvety black fruits, quite elegant and closer to the 2014 in style than the other cuvées. This is a lovely "Les Grézeaux" and is highly recommended for early drinking or ten to fifteen years of cellaring. David Lillie
From 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well.The nose is full of dark cherry, raspberry, bell pepper, crushed violets, and a touch of graphite. The palate is fresh, yet elegant, with a core of plush dark forest fruit with an underlying layer of herbasciousness and that wonderful Cab Franc pyrazine quality. A knockout wine to pair with roast chicken. This is drinking very well now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding onto it for a few more years.
From 30 to 45 year-old vines on beautiful clay/limestone terroir in Saint-Louans, on slopes above the Vienne. The 2011 Saint-Louans received 30 months of aging in used barrels. This is an elegant wine, very marked by the limestone and rounded nicely by the extended aging. The aromas are complex and lovely with slightly spicy red fruit and earth tones. The palate is balanced with delicacy and power, indicating long aging potential. Carafe if drinking now, best perhaps 2025 - ?
The Clos Sénéchal is a south-facing mid-slope vineyard, with soils of clay and limestone over the Turonian limestone bedrock. The vines are 35 to 50 years old, replaced slowly by massale selection. The grapes are hand-harvested into 20 kilo crates, there is a three-week alcoholic fermentation with wild yeasts, no added SO2. Two year elevage in Grenier foudres with minimal SO2 added before bottling. The 2014 is a superb example of Clos Sénéchal showing a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry and cassis with earth, violet, pepper, spiced citrus and animal notes. The palate is deep and ripe with fantastic density of fruit but perfectly balanced with firm acidity at only 12.5% alcohol. There is a fine-grained, intense texture with pure black fruits, earth, graphite and dark chocolate that continue in the long, focused finish. This is a wine of earth and elegance that is enjoyable in its youth, decanting advised - or hold for 5 to 8 years, perhaps best 2025 to 2040 and beyond. Save your money on C*** R******* and put some Clos Sénéchal in your cellar!
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
Stéphanie, Emmanuel and Pierre Caslot are the current proprietors of this 400 year-old estate in Bourgueil. With excellent parcels on all the varied terroirs of Bourgueil they produce delicious old-school wines with great organic farming and natural vinifications with low sulfur. "Grand Mont" is one of the greatest sites in Bourgueil - a south facing slope on turonian limestone with shallow sandy clay soils, rich in mica. Though not considered a great vintage, the 2011s from the best sites in Bourgueil are turning out beautifully, such as the Breton "Les Perrieres" and the Chevalerie "Grand Mont." Denser and more opulently fruited than the 2012, the 2011 "Grand Mont' shows a deeper, darker color and ripe aromas of blackberry, black plum, violet, earth, game, and blood orange. The palate is round and supple with quite earthy red and black fruits with a lovely finish of dense red fruits, earth and citrusy acids. I would drink this sooner than the 2012 - delicious now with a long decant, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. Beautiful wine. David Lillie
The Chevalerie "Diptyque" is from sand and gravel soils in Bourgueil, producing a wine to drink young, served cool - 100% Cabernet Franc, of course. The 2014 is particularly good, with lovely aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with hints of violet, pepper and earth. The palate is balanced and pretty with supple raspberry/strawberry fruit in a bright frame, typical of this excellent vintage for Loire reds. Serve a bit chilled with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. DL
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."
2015 is a beautiful vintage for the superb Savennières of Domaine du Closel. La Jalousie shows subtle, complex aromas of citrus peel, pear, almond, stone , lime-flower and honeysuckle which follow through on the perfectly balanced palate. The fruit is lush and ripe but there is great acidity and minerality as well - the wine is elegant and very delicious in its youth, - serve with fish in sauce, scallops, monkfish, chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
This is a sensational "les Picasses" from Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure at Chateau de Coulaine, who have been practising organic and biodynamic agriculture since taking charge in 1988. The parcel is at the top of the vineyard with southern exposure, on the classic clay/limestone "tuffeau" in Beaumont-en-Veron. This quite dense and powerful Chinon is aged in one-third new barrels and barrels of one and two wines.The wine shows a dark red/black color with beautiful aromas of ripe strawberry and black-raspberry with earth, citrus and spice, really deep and pretty. The palate is quite dense and a bit tight, with dark berry fruits framed in a touch of oak. The fruit is elegant and deep and the wine finishes with black fruits, earth, firm acidity and elegant tannins. This is a "serious" Chinon of terroir that will age beautifully, best 2022 to 2035. David Lillie
This Cabernet Franc from Chateau de Coulaine is a lovely wine. Coming from 15-year old organically farmed grapes planted on yellow tuffeau stone and sandstone, the wine displays a nice structure of minerality, acidity and elegant tannin. The grapes are fermented with native yeast and aged in large oak barrels with small addition of sulfur at bottling. With a beautiful bouquet of pyrazine, black raspberry, dark cherry, white pepper, rose and savory notes, the wine has a fine energy with a luscious texture. Enjoy this wine with duck, grilled meat, stews or nutty cheeses. Caroline Coursant
This is a delicious fresh wine from Chateau de Coulaine, a 12-hectare estate operated by Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure, who have been practicing organic and biodynamic farming since 1988. This 100% Cabernet Franc wine comes from the youngest vines near the Chateau, along the Vienne river, grown on clay/limestone and sandy clay soils. Harvested by hand, the grapes are macerated at cold temperatures and aged in concrete vats with little extraction and fining. Sulfur is added at minimal dosage at bottling. The nose shows a pretty aromatic bouquet of dark and red cherry, dark raspberry, strawberry, violet, chocolate, dark tobacco, light pyrazine and savory notes. The palate is vibrant with fresh acidity and silky tannin. A wine full of energy, drink it with light fares such as grilled pork chops, roasted chicken and light cheese. Caroline Coursant
Chenonceaux is a charming little commune that overlooks the river Cher, a tributary of the Loire River. It’s considered by many to be the best spot in the Touraine appellation for Sauvignon Blanc, and we may have to concur. Simon Tardieux has a long history in the Loire, going back to his teenage days working with Catherine Roussel and Didier Barouillet at Clos Roche Blance. His neighbor, Alain Courtault, farms his vineyards organically, and has joined Simon to create their small estate nestled in the Loire et Cher. There is a beautiful density to this wine, and no notes of grapefruit or lychee that are often found in the Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre, to the east. Organic/biodynamic farming and careful hand harvesting, aging with old wood, no new oak. Highly recommended! Eben LillieP.S. This is perfect wine to try on people who say they don't like Sauvignon Blanc!
The Dauny Family has been farming vineyards in Sancerre since 1683, with Nicole and Christian Dauny being the 12th generation to make wine in this famed appellation. The vineyards were converted to organic agriculture in 1964 and the Daunys strive to work as naturally as possible in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. The rosé Pynoz comes from younger vines of Pinot Noir, and is quite a rich, full-bodied and textured expression of rosé. Dominated by red-fruit, strawberry, and under-ripe raspberry, there is a touch of herbaceousness and an underlying stony minerality that balances the wine. Oskar Kostecki
Beautiful dense and long expression of Chenin Blanc from around the Anjou appellation. Eben Lillie
This is a superb Savennières-Roche aux Moines, reminding me a bit of the old-fashioned style with it's intriguing herbal, honeyed white fruit aromas. The palate shows the more modern style, with lovely ripeness of white fruits, pear and quince, backed by firm acidity and the wonderful stony mineral character of Savennières, with terrific length. This is a fascinating wine and highly recommended. David Lillie
Fresche bubbles! This is a blend of Cab and Grolleau, with no dosage. There's very subtle amount of fruit here, but it betrays it's rosey hue and drinks more like a sparkling white, with more stones and minerality than red fruit. It's totally dry, and refreshing, with a bit of structure in the back palate. All in all, a fantastic sparkling option for only $15! Eben Lillie
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2016 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of dried pear, fresh herbs, hay, earth and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, pear, stone and citrus flavors that continue in the long finish. A bit "drier" and more mineral tasting than the previous two vintages, this is a simply delicious Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc...
Domaine Vincent Gaudry, located in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic and Biodynamic certified beginning in 1993. The 2015 "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" is from 50-plus year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and is fermented naturally with wild yeasts. This is an outstanding Sancerre showing elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince, citrus and lime-flower, really quite lovely. The palate is fresh and lively with dried pear, stone and herbal flavors, very elegant and happily unlike most modern Sancerres. The stone and subtle fruit flavors continue in the refreshing finish, making this a superb food wine with anything from oysters to grilled fish and fish and chicken in sauce. And Crottin de Chavignol, of course. Highly recommended and a good value! David Lillie
Upon visiting Fernand Girard back in the early 90s we were happy to find someone who harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeasts - a rarity in Sancerre at the time and still sadly in the minority today. More than 20 years later we are still happy to feature the Sancerre produced by Fernand and Alain Girard, coming from their 2.5 hectare plot on a steep slope in Chaddoux on stony clay over limestone soils. The 2016 shows a bright pale gold color with aromas or pear and quince with hints of exotic fruit and lime-flower. The palate is a nicely balanced blend of mineral flavors with citrus and white fruits, with good density and firm acidity. This is a classic Sancerre in a more mineral style that will accompany a wide variety of seafoods, chicken dishes and white meats, and it's a good value as well.
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
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.
Tasted February, 1997: "50 grams per liter residual sugar, 5.65 gr/l acidity. Big creamy, lemon, herbal, honeyed aromas, full on the palate with great acidity and length, perfect balance, will keep" Subsequent years have confirmed the unique character of 1996, a vintage with good ripeness but with very high acidity giving medium-bodied wines with superb elagance and freshness. While drinking beautifully now, this wine will keep for a long, long time...
A great vintage for Huet's sweet wines — lacking the high sugars of 1997 but ripe enough and with perfect acidity which will carry them a long way. The Le Mont 1er Trie is just beginning to open up and would be great fun to drink now, but better yet, put it away for another 20 years and find a reason for living! 67 gr/l RS, 5.9 gr/l acid, 12.5 % alc. ("de très longue garde" says the Huet website!)
Forward and open which is unusual for Constance. Beautifully knit palate and very long with exceptional purity and at least 75 years ahead of it. DL
85 grams/liter RS, 12.8 % Alc 50% Passerillage, 50% Botrytis. A lovely, balanced Moelleux that will age nicely, peak drinking probably 10 to 30 years away. Yummy now if you can't wait, a great wine.
*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.
Typically made from organic grapes that Lise and Bertrand source from the Loire Valley, this vintage of the Exilé blanc is the result of a literal backpacking/grape harvesting mission that Bertrand went on in 2016, when the vines in the Loire were hit hard by frost and hail in the summer. The blend is Chenin Blanc, Mauzac and Chardonnay, with most of the grapes coming from a little known region called Limoux. There's a density and marked minerality that the Chenin blanc provides, with mid-palate weight of the Chardonnay. Herbal notes, quince, and spice and the subtle oxidative notes come from Mauzac. It's crisp at first, then becomes rounder, with notes of apricot, and citrus. Truly a unique wine! Eben Lillie
Warning! This wine is not for everyone, but if you like natural wines that are outrageously delicious, complex and full of character, then you will love the Rossignoux 2015. From vines just east of the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Pale gold color. Intriguing aromas of dried pear, quince, ripe melon, hay, lemon confit and white pepper. The palate is dense and ripe with pear, lemon, caramel and mineral flavors backed with firm acidity. The finish is long with citrus and white fuits. Zero SO2 and 100% delicious - another beautiful natural wine from Christophe Foucher! DL
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
This is Liv's exceptional Cremant de Loire, aged sur latte for 16 months, 100% Chenin Blanc from Schiste soils. It's Extra Brut, but tastes like a Brut Nature...clean and mineral with great density and a long finish. This was a hit when we opened it for an in-store tasting and is a welcome addition to our collection of Loire Valley sparkling wines. 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
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
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!
Vera Cruz is a new cuvée from Luneau-Papin, from 40 year-old vines on a terroir of schistes and gneiss "a deux micas" in Vallet, farmed with organic and biodynamic methods. A wine of terroir rather than fruit, even in the ripe 2015 vintage, the wine shows elegant aromas of pear, grilled almond, stone and citrus. The palate is dense and very mineral, showing more flavor of earth than fruit, with a lovely finish of stone, minerals and white fruit that coats the palate. Perfect now with fine oysters, grilled dorade, sole, cod and scallops with lemon. Or cellar - this wine should be very interesting in 5 to 15 years. Label inspired by Mondrian and the varied terroirs of Muscadet. DL
Agnes and Rene Mosse have made another lovely Chenin Blanc in 2016, despite losing much of their crop from frost. The 2016 Chenin shows elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince and exotic fruit with lime flower, stone and honey. There is bright fruit on the palate with firm mineral and earth flavors with tart lemon and pear fruit. The finish is bright and long with bright acidity - serve with fish or chicken in sauce, goat cheeses and Asian foods. DL
For those who want a dryer style wine on Thanksgiving, this lovely Muscadet is opening up nicely and has the right weight and density to match the turkey and sides. (And the superb new 2015 Luneau-Papin "Vera Cruz" would be lovely as well) The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river. The granite here is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009 and 2010 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2012 is outstnding as well from this somewhat difficult low-yielding vintage. More austere than the previous vintages, the 2012 shows subtle aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus, almond and stone, quite subtle and elegant. The palate has excellent weight and concentration with firm acidity, without the forward fruit of the 2009 - very tight and mineral in style with terrific length. Fabulous served now with oysters, ceviche of cod, flounder and sole, and grilled fish, This should age beautifully for 20 years and more. Highly recommended. Tasted again in December of 2016, this beautiful Muscadet is beginning to open up a bit, with lovely fruit appearing in the aromas and palate, really drinking well, though obviously a wine that will benefit from another five years of aging, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Beginning in 2005, Domaine de la Pépière has produced this cuvée from a small parcel of 50 to 110 year-old vines within the Pepiere vineyard. Originally called "Granite de Clisson" after the unique bedrock in the vineyard, Marc has changed the name to "Clisson" to agree with the new INAO Cru Communal classification. The granite is covered with gravel and clay with large stones, ensuring good drainage and deep penetration by the roots into the fissures in the bedrock, bringing the mineral elements indispensable to this wine.Tasted in France in January 2018, the wine showed a pale gold color with lovely aromas of dried pear, quince, almond, lemon-confit and stone, ripe but quite fresh. The palate was quite dense, showing firm acidity and mineral flavors supporting white fruits, citrus, anise and almond, with terrific length. This is an excellent "Clisson" with attractive forward fruit for early drinking as well as firm structure for aging of fifteen to twenty years or more. David Lillie
Domaine de la Pépière has produced this superb Cru Communal, in the new appellation Muscadet Monnières-Saint Fiacre from old vines on gneiss terroir with topsoils of sand and gravel, formerly part of the Cuvée Eden and Gras Moutons. Slow two month fermentation followed by 24 months of aging on the lees. Similar in style, but a bit softer and more aromatic than the lovely 2015 Clisson, the Monnières-Saint Fiacre shows a bit more fruit in the lovely aromas of pear, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is round and ripe with pretty white fruits, citrus, stone and herbal flavors, and the finish is round and supple with white fruits and minerals. This is a gorgeous Muscadet to drink over the next ten years with everything from oysters to sole, cod and monkfish, even with lobster.
100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon's only still, white, demi-sec wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaces the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. The vines average 40 years in age, are certified-organic and were hand-harvested from October 10-18. Fermentation took place spontaneously with natural yeasts and lasted 2-3 months in wood vats. The wine was aged 4-5 months on its fine lees in old tonneaux (large oak barrels) and gently filtered before bottling in April 2017 with 22.4 grams/liter of residual sugar (with pH 3.07). Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone . Technically a Demi-Sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray. David Lillie
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!
This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.
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
Warning This bears no resemblance to "modern" Sancerre! Sauvignon Blanc from fifty year-old vines on Kimmeridgian limestone, late harvest, 20 hl/ha yields, aged sur lie for two years in old barrels, no added SO2. The 2013 "Sauletas" was harvested very late, with botrytis and ripe skins - the color is gold/bronze, that will darken with aeration. The aromas show very ripe peach and apple with floral, orange zest, spice and caramel notes. The palate shows spiced pear with citrus peel, fruit compote and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish with firm acidity. This is a complex and fascinating natural wine that might be paired with a full-flavored ceviche, monkfish in sauce or strong cheeses. David Lillie
From thirty-five year-old vines on clay over Portlandian limestone, with two years aging sur lie, 10mg SO2 before bottling. Sebastien Riffault makes Sancerres that compare with wines made fifty years ago. Organic farming, hand harvesting, wild-yeast fermentations, minimal sulfur and harvesting late, when ripe with two years aging in old barrels. The 2014 "Quarterons" shows a bright pale-gold color and floral peach, pear, citrus and caramel aromas. There is some botrytis here and hints of oxidation. Ripe peach and pear flavors continue on the palate, with stone, orange zest, brown spice and earthy flavors backed by firm acidity. This is a unique and delicious Sancerre, similar to the late-harvested wines of many years ago. This will please lovers of natural wines and will accompany full-flavored fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods and goat cheeses. David Lillie
This beautiful Saumur-Champigny is from a walled vineyard of old vines in Varrains, certified organic and worked with biodynamic methods as well. The wine shows a deep black/red color and ripe aromas of red currant and blackberry with earth, roast meat and citrus framed in a bit of oak, quite lovely. The palate shows lush, textured blackberry and black cherry fruit with earth and bitter chocolate backed by firm acidity that continues in the long finish. Delicious now served with a coq au vin, grilled steak or pork stew, this will age gracefully over the next ten to fifteen years.
Jean-Noêl Millon is making superb wines at his organic estate in Saumur-Champigny, including the delicious "Le Champ Fou" from a "clos" of old Cabernet Franc vines on clay/limestone soils. The wine receives an approximately 30 month elevage in one to three year barrels and is bottled with minimal sulfur. The 2014 shows very elegant aromas of strawberry and raspberry, rounded by a touch of oak, with hints of blackberry, pepper and earth. The palate is supple and ripe with berry fruits, quite chalky but rounded by the elevage, the finish is ripe and long with supple red fruits lingering on the palate. Decant and serve cool if drinking now, or cellar a few years then drink until 2030 and beyond.
Jean-Noêl Millon at La Source du Ruault has 13 hectares on turonian limestone in Saumur-Champigny, organic since 2007 and using biodynamic methods. The "regular" Saumur-Champigny is from younger vines on clay and sandy soils over the limestone; the wine is hand harveted, fermented with wild yeasts, aged in stainless steel vat and bottled with zero or minimal sulfur depending on the vintage. The 2015 is a beautiful wine and a superb value, showing lovely aromas of ripe raspberry and strawberry with violet, orange peel, pepper and brown spice. There is a nice chalky density on the palate with lush berry fruits, earth, citrus and spice with a juicy, supple finish balanced with firm acidity. This delicious and versatile wine will accompany chicken and pork dishes, grilled foods, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses. Serve cool and enjoy! David Lillie
South of Saumur and west of Chinon (but legally in Anjou) is the sleepy village of Oiron where Benoit Blet at Domaine des Terres Blanches makes superb wines on an interesting terroir of sandstone(grès) under sandy clay topsoils. "Les Hautes Bruyères" is from old vines of Cabernet Franc; the wine undergoes a long slow fermentation with wild yeasts and is then gravity-fed into small 2 to 5 year-old barrriques for 18 months of aging. This is a unique and delicious Cab Franc that shows an opaque black/red color and intriguing aromas of ripe black raspberry and plum with hints of mint, citrus and earth. The palate is ripe and supple with an earthy texture, showing pretty blackberry and cassis fruit with bitter chocolate, citrus and mineral flavors that linger on the long finish. A bit different from either an Anjou or Chinon red, the Hautes Bruyères will accompany a variety of poultry and pork dishes and will be great with grilled foods this summer, served a bit cool. David Lillie
Gamay de Bouze "the first red-juiced Gamay to be observed, in the village of Bouze, near Beaune, in the nineteenth centrury" says Jancis Robinson. Whatever it is, the resulting wine from Benoit Blet at "Les Terres Blanches" is quite delicious, showing bright aromas of black currant liqueur with dark chocolate and mint and herbs with earthy, slightly gamey bright black fruits on the palate with hints of cocoa. Very refreshing with nice length of bright berry fruits and mineral flavors in the finish. This is a lovely and distinctive Gamay - serve cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and burgers off the grill. (And it's tied with Donneurs du Temps for label of the year!)
From 65 to 80 year-old Menu-Pineau vines on clay with silex, sand and gravel; aged in large and small used barrels. Always a distinctive wine, the 2015 Brin de Chevre shows sharp herbal and citrus aromas with powdered stone and honey. Dense citrus, dried pear, almond and stone flavors on the palate with briar, honey, anise and saline minerals with very firm acidity. Unique and delicious! Drink now or cellar five to ten years, or more?
Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat make this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from a one hectare parcel in Pouillé, with sand and gravel over limestone, giving very low yields. An intense and beautiful wine in 2015, with aromas of lemon peel, pear, dried herbs, lime flower and pine resin. The palate is dense and ripe with dried white fruits, lemon oil and earth backed by firm acidity. Beautifully structured and very long, this is an outstanding and unusual Sauvignon Blanc to serve with fish or chicken in sauce and full-flavored goat cheeses. Delicious now, the wine should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. Highly recommended. (The name literally translated is "squalid bush" but we hope it refers rather to the limestone of Pouillé...?)
The place called "Tue-Boeuf" was known in the middle-ages, as was the Puzelat family, land-owners there since the 15th century. Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat took over the vines in 1990 and were certified organic in 1996. The 100% Gamay "la Butte" is from a one-hectare parcel of old vines on clay/flint soils. The wine shows deep blackberry fruit aromas with rose, citrus, earth and musk. The palate is balanced and bright with ripe berry fruits backed by intense saline minerals and firm acidity. Serve cool, decanted well in advance if possible, with pork dishes, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses. This will benefit from 3 to 5 years of aging and should drink well through 2025
Domaine Vacheron is one of the few organic and Biodynamic estates in Sancerre. The lovely 2016 is from 30 to 50 year-old vines on both chalk and silex hillside parcels. The grapes are hand-harvested, the fermentation is wth wild yeasts and the wine is aged in tank. The wine shows a pale bronze color and subtle armoas of pear, quince, lime-flower and stone with a bit of honeysuckle. The palate is light and crisp, showing stone and mineral flavors that underly white fruits, citrus peel, almond and mineral flavors, leading to a very clean and refreshing finish. Light enough to pair well with oysters, this will accompany any mild flavored fish or chicken dish and goat cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in Quincy at least since the 15th century and produces a particularly distinctive wine on the gravel and silex soils of the Domaine de Villalin's vineyard "Les Grands Vignes." The estate is clearly the finest in Quincy, farming with organic methods, plowing (sometimes with horses), harvesting by hand and fermenting with wild yeasts. The 2017 has just arrived (March 1st 2018) and benefits from aeration, then shows subtle aromas of pear and quince with tart citrus and herbal notes. The palate is refreshing and bright with white fruits, gooseberry, fig and citrus flavors framed in firm acidity. If drinking now, open an hour in advance if possible - this should open up nicely by late spring for delicious drinking with a wide variety of fish and chicken dishes, salads and goat cheeses.
Hervé Villemade's 2016 Cheverny Blanc is a lovely and versatile wine, made from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay grown on flinty sand and clay soils. The wine shows pretty aromas of pear, citrus, almond and stone with hints of boxwood and fine herbes. The palate is supple with white fruits, citrus, a bit of anise and herbal flavors and is nicely balanced with firm acidity. This is a delicious everyday white that will accompany most seafood dishes, chicken, white meats and goat cheeses. David Lillie
From 10 to 50 year-old vines grown on limestone soils (Middle Jurassic!) in the commune of Aluze, Cotes Chalonnaise, certified organic since 1999. This is an approachable Pinot Noir, showing lively raspberry fruit, violets, and hints of mint on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with bright wild cherry, spice, tart blackberry and pepper over bracing mineral flavors. Delicious now, best served chilled and with some aeration. Amanda Bowman
The 2016 Côtes Chalonnaise "les Claveaux" is a lovely new cuvée from Alain and Isabelle Hasard at Les Champs de l'Abbaye. Made from young vines of Pinot Fin, with 10% Chardonnay, the wine is delicate and delicious and should be served a bit cool. The aromas are vivid and very pretty - tart cherry, raspberry, citrus and violet. The palate is light and refreshing with cherry and berry fruits and hints of citrus and earth. Serve with chicken and white meats and save some for grilled foods this summer...
Certified organic, from a limestone terroir rich in seashells, with iron-rich soil, just below the 1er Cru Clos des Miglands. Very low yields, 80% de-stemmed, wild-yeast fermentation, one-year aging in 40% new fine-grained barrels, bottled by gravity, no fining or filtration. The 2016 Marcoeurs shows subtle aromas of black cherry with plum skin, earth, graphite and hints of violet and citrus. The palate is very mineral and saline with flavors of earth and tart black cherry that are intense and long, finishing with firm acidity. This shows the intensity of the 2016 Burgundies and is delicious now with a long decant, or cellar for five years and enjoy until 2030. David Lillie
From the biodynamically farmed high altitude Les Sous Roches lieu-dit on the northwest slope in Monthélie composed of thin stony clay soils over limestone. 2016 is a great vintage for the Monthelie "Les Sous Roches" from Alain and Isabelle Hasard showing the classic structure and density of this excellent vintage. The wine shows vibrant aromas of fraise des bois and cherry liqueur with earth, mint and citrus. The palate is dense and sapid with bright blackberry and black cherry fruit, spice, earth and firm acidity. Impressive length with sappy balck fruits, mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Delicious now if a bit intense - perhaps open the night before and re-cork - best to cellar 5 years and drink until 2030+. Serve with mushroom pappardelle, roast veal, grilled meats. David Lillie
This special cuvée is a commemoration of eleven hundred years of winemaking, the vineyards in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes having been planted around AD 900 and wine first produced for the Abbey of Cluny around 910. This "medieval" wine is a field blend of Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir, including the old varieties Gamay Petit Grain and Pinot Fin. The grapes were transported in carts pulled by Charolais bulls, then pressed by foot, vinified and aged without sulfur and bottled by hand in the spring. ... Back to put a smile on your face, the 2016 Cuvee 910 is lively, wild on the nose, and delivers the bright funky fruit that made it such a favorite here at Chambers Street. From my extended experience consuming bottles of 910, I would recommend letting this one sit for a while. It just arrived (12/1/17) and I think it would benefit from a month or two of RE-harmonizing in the bottle before the drinking begins. Not that you won't enjoy it if you open a bottle tonight (or a mag with your holiday feast), but I feel it will show better with some time. Eben Lillie
Made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2015s here are extraordinary, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, earth, stone and musk and hints of mint, chocolate and spice. The palate is bright and intense with balckberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long mineral finish. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2015 Manganite is a young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL
Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
Bastide Blanche, one of the few organic domains in Bandol, produces this beatiful wine from old vines of 92% Mourvedre and 8% Grenache. The wine is hand-harvested in multiple passes, with very low yields, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old foudres. The 2013 Estagnol shows very deep aromas of blackberry, plum and blueberry with floral, animal, fig, garrigue and earthy notes. The palate is full, round and powerful, but has good brightness and balance, with black fruits, fig, spice and earth - . with time open chocolate, provencal herbs and black olive as well, really lovely.
'Mont Blanc' is named for the snow-capped mountain 30km away from Dominique's winery. This cuvée is built to age but that requires personal discipline. 100% Gringet from vines planted at 450m elevation, the 2014 was aged for three years on the lees before disgorgement. The delicate nose offers elegant floral aromas and comes across as quite austere at first. By the time you slice the soppressata and collect the Comté from the fridge, the nose will have blossomed with honeysuckle, orange zest, nuts and orchard fruits. The palate has exquisite cut with powerful minerals driving fresh pear and apple flavors. An excellent vintage that should shine in 2-3 years. Amanda Bowman
All things being relative, this cuvée made me reconsider every wine that I have previously described as balanced. "Le Feu" comes Dominique's oldest, low-yielding Gringet vines planted on steep, iron-rich slopes at 450m above sea level. Incredibly well-knit acidity adds energy and freshness to wild herbal flavors that form a continuous loop across the palate. This wine is luminous. Amanda Bowman
"Les Alpes" is a blend of two parcels - one close to Dominique's home on marl soils and the other rich in limestone. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs before it's blended in tank and bottled with minimal sulfur. The 2016 is a lovely wine that shows pretty white flowers, tangy pineapple and orange blossom. Salty minerals and tart acidity give this a wonderful texture that is evocative of a briny Albariño from Northwestern Spain. Amanda Bowman
This Mondeuse comes from a tiny parcel on Dominique Belluard's estate. Usually this wine is made entirely in amphora but the 2016 was made using concrete eggs, 70% de-stemmed, and the rest whole cluster with a five-week maceration. The finished wine has an elegant silky texture with mouth-coating tannins. Aromas of smoky peppercorn and jasmine compliment supple flavors of juicy black raspberry, thyme, and black cherry. For best results, serve at cellar temperature and allow the wine to breathe for an hour before serving. Amanda Bowman
Les Perles du Mont Blanc is made from biodynamically farmed Gringet and spends two years on the lees before disgorgement. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast and there is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry wine with fascinating complexity. This bottling is richer than in years past, but still intensely mineral with heady aromas of pine forest, baking spice, and toasted walnuts. The palate is decadent, with creamy flavors of pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and bright lemon curd. The invigorating acidity makes this a versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with roasted chicken, oysters, charcuterie, or cheese. Amanda Bowman
The Bordelet pear and apple ciders are a big hit on Thanksgiving, low alcohol too, so the kids get a sip or two. Also arriving on Tuesday: Poire "Granit" and Poiré Authentique. An apple cider from one of Normandy’s best, Tendre combines classic orchard flavors of ripe apples (Kermerien, Douce Moene, Frequin Rouge, Damelot, Marie Menard and 25 more) and a savory/sweet undercurrent of barley and dark honey. Compared to Bordelet’s pear offerings I find this to be more “beer-esque” than “wine-esque” so bring on the brats, or in true Norman fashion blood sausage, tripe, or perhaps for a lighter meal: crêpes. As with all his ciders, the farm is certified biodynamic and fermentation finishes in the bottle for a complex texture filled with small vivacious bubbles. John Rankin
Jean-Baptiste Menigoz, a former school teacher, started his domaine with 2.4ha of vines in Abergement-le-Petit, west of Arbois, in 2012. Focusing on the classic varietals of the Jura, he makes honest, natural wines in the traditional ways of the region. His Chardonnay is always my personal favorite. Fermented and aged in neutral 600L demi-muid, it showcases the honey-tinged, tropical fruit and citrus that is a hallmark of this wine year after year. On the palate it is a touch nutty with salty, tangy pineapple, and an electric acidity anchored by a piercing mineral core. Perhaps a touch more ripe than past vintages, it maintains focus and precision. Tim Gagnon
Clos Ste. Magdeleine is located on the slopes of the dramatic Cap Canaille just east of Cassis, where vineyards date back to the ancient Greeks, and the vines grow on stony limestone soils. The current estate was founded in the late 19th century and has been in the same family since 1920 - the estate is certified organic. The Cassis Blanc is made up of 40% Marsanne, 30% Ugni blanc, 25% Clairette and 5% Bourboulenc. The 2015 shows lovely aromas of dried pear, almond and stone with floral and herbal hints, with a bit of candied citrus and exotic fruit. The palate is round and supple and quite elegant with ripe pear, apricot and almond, citrus peel and marzipan. The finish is long and balanced with firm acidity and mineral flavors. (This would be a great option for Thanksgiving dinner, being elegant and dry but with enough weight and fruit to pair well with turkey and all the sides. A crowd pleasing choice...)
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec by Julien Libert at Combel-la-Serre, this comes from a limestone parcel with 35 year-old vines. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster and the wine is aged in cement.The 2016 Pur Fruit du Causse is just that, beautiful supple pure fruit - the color is quite dark and coats the glass, showing deep aromas of blackberry liqueur, quite bright and fresh, with hints of stone and earth. The palate is lush with blackberry and black cherry liqueur, lifted by cool acidity, really delicious! The finish is bright and refreshing making this a great match for charcuterie and grilled meats, chicken and mild cheeses - and lovely to slurp by itself, served quite cool! Bravo to Julien Libert for this juicy, fresh and delightful wine!
100% Malbec (aka Auxerrois in local parlance). Au Cerisier comes from a single 1.2-hectare plot at 350 m. altitude, next door to a cherry orchard for which the Ilberts named this bottling. The certified-organic vines average 40 years old and are planted on red and yellow clay soils over limestone bedrock. This is a quite serious Cahors showing beautiful black fruit aromas, bright and ripe. The palate is tight and dense, quite full-bodied and really showing the clay/limestone terroir. Drink now with a long decant with a steak or stew, best to cellar five to ten years. Lovely wine.
100% Malbec (aka Auxerrois in local parlance). Combel's Château Cuvée comes from estate plots totalling 3 hectares around their home village of Cournou on the limestone plateau known as the Causse at about 320m altitude. The soils for this bottling are mainly red clay with some limestone rock. The organically farmed vines average 40 years old and are kept to a yield of 40 hl/ha. Because of the clay-heavy terroir and winemaking and aging choices, the Château Cuvée marks a signficant step up in body, tannin and complexity compared to the lighter, softer Pur Fruit bottling. This is a beautiful Cahors showing elegant red and black fruit aromas - the palate is pure and focused with good acidity and bright black raspberry and red currant fruit, floral and long. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next five years or more.
Costes is an old French term for hillsides or slopes, which is very fitting for this hillside vineyard located in Bergerac. The soil is a favorable combination of stone, sandy clay, and rolled gravel over limestone, that suits the primarily Cabernet Franc vines grown on the Domaine des Costes Estate. Nicole and Jean-Luc Dournel took over the estate in 1992, overseeing the vineyard through its organic certification and biodynamic practices. Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, this food friendly rose shows fresh red berries on the nose followed by wild strawberries, red currant, and a subtle, peppery finish on the palate. Serve chilled and enjoy with lighter meals all year!
Coupe Roses is an organic estate high up on the limestone plateau near the village of Minerve - a more interesting terroir than the majority of other Minervois. The 2016 "Bastide" shows bright black cherry and red currant fruit with floral hints. The palate is ripe and supple, lifted by bright acidity, showing blackberry and red currant liqueur that lingers in the refreshing finish. Serve cool with grilled pork and lamb - perfect with burgers this summer.
Thomas and Jean-Daniel are the team at Domaine Ozil. Brothers with a shared interest in producing honest, drinkable Ardèche wines, they have hit quite a stride in recent years. The "Gourmandise" is a perfect example. Primarily Grenache, with 30% Syrah and 5% Viognier, this is a joyful, tingly "glou-glou" wine. No sulfites added, it's clean, and ridiculously chug-able. Some may note a touch of volatile acidity as the wine opens up, but from my experience with many bottles, this blows off quickly. It may even help lift the spicy, brambly, crushed raspberry aromas. All in all, it's fun in a bottle, at a very reasonable price. Drink with a slight chill! Eben Lillie
From young Jura newcomer Guillaume Gilet, this is Chardonnay from organic vineyards that overlook the town of Arbois. Very fresh, with notes of lemon curd, cantelope, apples and herbs. Guillaume uses no SO2 during winemaking (sometimes bottling with none added) and tries to preserve some natural CO2 gas to protect his wines in the absence of SO2. This blows off within a few minutes, so decanters are not necessary. There's a driving mineral spice that shines through the finish, and an overall very clean and pure natural wine. Eben Lillie
Les Donneurs du Temps is a tiny estate put together by Guillaume Gilet in Arbois, with a little help from his friends, who generously gave their time, and even parcels of vines, to help him get started. (Hence the name, literally "the givers of time.") The 2015 Poulsard "Marnes Grises" is the real deal with everything we love about Jura reds. The wine shows a slightly cloudy pale garnet color, with lovely Poulsard aromas of raspberry, rose, white pepper,and plum skin, very pretty and fresh. The palate is light and lovely with red currant and raspberry fruit, earth, clove, rose petal and orange peel. The finish has sneaky length, very refreshing, with a bit of tannin and peppery red fruits. Could I have some more, please? David Lillie
In 2007, the energetic and talented Thomas Finot discovered the terroirs of the Coteaux Grésivaudan - a valley with steep mountainsides extending northeast from Grenoble, just north of Savoie, Here he is rescuing local grape varieties such as Verdesse, Persan and Etraire de la Dhuy and also making delicious and affordable vin de soif from other grapes - in this case the Tracteur Rosé. Made from Gamay, the wine shows a pretty light pink color and aromas of red currant, raspberry, watermelon and rose. The palate is light and lovely at only 11% alcohol with subtle mixed-berry fruits and hints of spice backed by mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Serve well-chilled all year-round with salads, charcuterie and white meats. Quick facts: Destemmed, into cuve, kept cold for 24 hours, then to the press... Doing a maceration of about 24 hours gives the rosé more material, and color. It's the way Thomas likes his rosés! - Eben Lillie
According to the hefty Wine Grapes book (Robinson/Harding/Vouillamoz), there were a total of about 2 hectares (5 acres) of Verdesse in the world as of 2008. As of my conversation with Thomas Finot in June, the number is now between 3 and 4 hectares total. Thomas started with an old plantation of about 2 ares (200 square meters, or .05 acres) and now has about 1.5 hectares, mostly of younger vines he planted. Verdesse is a grape that, according to Thomas, is green for a long time, and typically ripens late, gaining a golden and amber color at the "very last moment." From Thomas' experience, Verdesse typically rests with a small amount of sugar, and has a good deal of richness. The grapes were harvested in October and the wine rests at 8 grams residual sugar. Luckily Verdesse has acid for days, so the effect is more of delicate richness and ripe stone fruit, and the sugar is barely perceptible. A fascinating white and a great opportunity to taste a truly obscure and rare variety. -Eben Lillie
Poulsard from the Côte de Feule vineyard in Pupillin. Several other growers we admire have some plots here, such as Granges Paquenesses, Domaine de la Borde, and we're quite certain Houillon and Overnoy as well (it's a pretty well known vineyard site in Pupillin). The hue of this red is still very light, but there's a deeper burgundy shade and a bit more material than the Ploussard bottling from Patrice. Fresh, vibrant, and beguiling. Eben Lillie
Cheerful, fresh, funky... VERY light, and quite clean and balanced for a no SO2 offering. We're very happy to have this and other wines from Patrice, as a welcome addition to our Jura section. Serve with a slight chill! Eben Lillie
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
A beautiful Bandol rosè, primarily Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache. The Mourvedre is pressed and run off directly, the Cinsault and Grenache undergo 24 hours of skin contact. Certified organic grapes from the Bronzo family vineyard in Le Castellet. This is a complex, perfectly balanced wine, a bit brighter than the 2015, with lovely aromas of raspberry, peach, blood orange, rose and spice. The palate is dense with cherry and raspberry fruit, citrus and stone flavors, ripe and full with bright balancing acidity with terrific density and length and a bit of ripe cherry in the finish. Delicious now - please decant or open 1 hour in advance - this will improve over the next few years. Perfect with grilled tuna, Salade Nicoise, pork and chicken, bouillabaisse, of course, and mild cheeses.
The 2015 comes from Catherine Hannoun's parcels of gray marl in Pupillin. Sometimes she makes this cuvée sous-voile but this vintage is topped-up for a fresher style that is fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel then raised in neutral barrel for over a year. An age-worthy Chardonnay with fascinating aromas of spicy redcurrant, honey, and melon. Like the Savagnin, it is quite compact at first and takes some time to open up, but once it does, complex flavors of tropical melon, blackberry, and honey unfurl on a bed of spicy mineral acidity. It should be interesting to see how this evolves with a few years in the cellar. Amanda Bowman
This Savagnin comes from Catherine's parcel in Pupillin famous for its rich clay soils. The 2015 is made ouillé style and is raised in neutral barrique for up to 24 months. With a gentle decant, floral aromas blossom on the nose. A leaner style of Savagnin, with crisp flavors of orange citrus, mango and salty, slightly briny minerals. Decant if drinking now but worth the wait. Amanda Bowman
100% Trousseau grown in clay and limestone-rich parcels in Arbois then fermented in tank and raised in neutral barrique with no added sulfur. The wine is dark red in the glass and shows bright black raspberry, pepper, and gamey aromas just moments after opening. The 2016 is lovely with flavors of vibrant, high-toned red fruit. Firm tannins buoyed by crunchy acidity provide a backbone to flavors of black raspberry, orange peel, white peppercorn and game on the palate. Delicious now but should be even better with a couple years in the cellar. Amanda Bowman
I recently made monkfish from Blue Moon, simply braised in the oven with a bit of white wine, olive oil, chopped fennel and herbs of Provence - it was perfect with the complex mineral/herbal flavors of this beautiful wine! Eric Laguerre's "Le Ciste," (named after a flowering bush in and around his vineyards) is certainly one of the most distinctive whites of the Roussillon. Grown in Eric's high-elevation vineyards on acidic soils of decomposed granite, the wine is made from Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu. Yields are about 20 Hl/Ha, harvesting is by hand in small baskets, fermentation (wild yeasts) and aging is in small barrels. Complex aromas of lemon oil, thyme, hay and white fruits—a lovely melange with contributions from each variety and especially showing the Marsanne and Roussanne in 2015. The palate is dense, stony and saline with herbal, citrus, almond and white fruit flavors. The finish is long with mineral acids and white fruits that linger on the palate. Complex and distinctive as a young wine, this will accompany grilled fish as well as fish and chicken in sauce and goat cheeses, and should develop nicely with a few years of cellaring. Really a Grand Cru of the Roussillon and a great value! DL
Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The 2016 EOS Rosé is a bit lighter and brighter than the 2015 with a lighter pink color and subtle aromas of raspberry, rose, peach and earth. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinifications and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended! DL
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, grown in Eric and Corinne Laguerre's organic, high-altitude vineyards on granite soils in the Roussillon. 2015 is a great vintage for the Le Ciste Rouge, showing aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, roast meat, dark chocolate and earth.The palate is dense and supple with ripe berry fruits, licorice and spice supported by firm acidity with an elegant finish of earth, minerals and black fruits. This is a beautiful wine - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains - and a great value. Serve slightly cool with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses or cellar five to ten years. Highly recommended! DL
2016 is a great vintage for Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc! From 30% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, very crisp and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and will be very refreshing by itself on a warm summer day. DL
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah grown in the Roussillon on very high-altitude vineyards of decomposed granite. Hand-harvested in small crates, yields of 20 hl/ha) The 2016 EOS Rouge shows bright aromas of tart cherry and blackberry, with dark chocolate and very floral notes, really bursting with fruit. The palate is supple and bright with cherry and red-currant fruit with acidity that coats the mouth. Very long finish of red fruits and juicy acids, quite elegant with nice tannic structure. This will go very well served cool with grilled meats and will benefit from short-term cellaring. An interesting wine that really shows the influence of the granite soils. A fabulous value!
This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses, and for apple and mince pies on Thanksgiving! Absolutely superb! (The wine improves for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 10 cases for the US allocation.The 2015 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, apricot, almond, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with a bit of residual sugar. The finish is very long with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2016 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir showing lovely pale pink color with subtle aromas of peach skin, raspberry, orange peel, spice and rose. The palate is light, balanced, dense and long with ripe cherry, peach, citrus, spice and saline mineral flavors. Drinking beautifully now, especially with a bit of aeration, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, fish or chicken, salads and mild cheeses. Great sipped by itself as well, a delicious and "serious" rosé that is highly recommended!
100% Chardonnay on clay and limestone in Pupillin, vinified for 6 months in large foudres. This is a joyful bottle with a fine mousse bursting with aromas of dry hay, iris, toasted hazelnut, Comté, and baked orchard fruit. The palate has an elegant frame of mineral acidity. Flavors are gently oxidative with floral undertones, ginger, and cherry pit. A delicious bottle to serve with raclette, Peking duck, or on its own! Amanda Bowman
A delicious blend of 60% Jacquere and 40% Altesse (Roussette). Marie and Florian pick grapes from a early ripening parcel of Altesse, and a mature parcel of Jacquerre, and harvest, press and vinify together, as they like the harmony that is achieved through co-fermentation. I love the electric side of this wine, paired with the subtle texture that develops with some aeration. Drink now or hold. Light filtration before bottling, minimal SO2 added. Eben Lillie
A blend of mostly Gamay (about 80%), with Pinot Noir and Mondeuse from vineyards in the commune of Chautagne de Serrieres and Cellier des Pauvres. Though they will likely make a bit less of the 'Autrement' in the future, this is their homage to the first "natural" wine that Jacques Maillet produced, back in 2003. It is an expression of the Savoie, and reflects Maillet's philosophy of cultivating healthy vineyards without the use of chemicals, and producing authentic wines that show the potential of the region. Like their other reds, maceration is whole cluster, without pump over or punch down, 9 months lees aging, and a light filtration and only 1g/hl (hectoliter) of SO2 at bottling. Delicious wine! Eben Lillie
The Chautagne is a blend of Gamay and Mondeuse (about 70/30) from the commune of Motz. Maceration is whole cluster for a period of about 6 weeks, without pigeage (pushing down of the cap) or remontage (pumping over), so it's more a gentle infusion than an extraction. The wine is aged on the lees for approximately 9 months. Florian mentioned that the old vines of Gamay produce less - and often less concentrated - grapes, but they are always more "gouleyant" (roughly translated, it means "tasty" or "really good"). All in all a very tasty, complex, and harmonious expression of Gamay and Mondeuse. Eben Lillie
Fresh tasty Jacquere from Marie and Florian Curtet! This is a perfect aperitif/salad/snack wine, definitely on the higher acid side. I always liken Jacquere (especially from Maillet - and now the Curtets) to Melon de Bourgogne, because it reminds me so much of the stony, mineral wines from Muscadet in the Loire Valley. Drink now or stock up for warmer weather, as this is a perfect thirst quencher. Eben Lillie
Wow! A Pinot Noir that truly stands out. I did NOT guess this was Pinot when I tasted it, instead thinking it was their old vines Mondeuse. In any case, I was impressed. Marie and Florian are impressed too, but maybe less surprised. As they say, Pinot Noir has a a particular graphite quality (describing the minerality in the mouthfeel) due to the Molasses soil in their region. Combined with a small and very ripe harvest, this is a rich and expressive Pinot! Ripe cherry, blackberry, and spice, with plenty of fruit and a long mineral finish framing it all. It's only 13%, so it's not "big," it just has a lot of character! Eben Lillie
Organic and Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau de Mayragues produces beautiful wines from local grape varieties, including this delicious red from 100% Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, grown on clay-limestone terroirs above the Tarn river in Gaillac. The wine is a deep red color and shows lovely aromas of ripe plum, red currant, earth, violets and black pepper. Deep earthy berry fruits on the palate that are lifted by fresh acidity. Full-flavored but not at all heavy at just 12% alcohol. This is a unique and delicious "country wine" - bring on the pâtés, rilletes and rillons, pork chops and roast chicken, full-flavored cheeses, too...
Thierry Navarre, based in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc, is one of the few vignerons growing Oeillades, an obscure and ancient variety native to Mediterranean France. Similar to Cinsault, here it produces a fine, juicy, approachable rosé perfect for these warm summer evenings. Deep salmon in color, the nose is reserved, with soft notes of crushed berries and ripe cantaloupe. On the palate this wine is round and refreshing, with good minerality and delicately etched acidity. Red berry fruit and cherry dance elegantly around a tensile mineral core. Excellent with thinly sliced prosciutto, popcorn, grilled seafood, or assorted mezze. Drew Farquhar
This is a delicious vin doux naturel from Thierry Navarre made from very late-harvested Grenache. We imagine that it's a wine made the way wine used to be made all over the Languedoc before temperature control was an option. A bit sweet and somewhat sherry-like, the aromas are of prune and ripe cherry, with licorice and brown spice. Very long and nutty on the palate, perhaps the best way to imagine this wine is to think of an Oloroso sherry... then extrapolate! Absolutely delicious and a great accompaniment to chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits or simply by itself as an apéritif. Thanks to Thierry for finally making a label and shipping us some of this unique local specialty.
80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. 12 month sous-voile elevage in old barrels. Slightly oxidative aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, spiced citrus and almond, quite complex and pretty. The plate shows dried herbs, quince, citrus peel, spice and pear with saline mineral flavors and form acidity. The finish is long with sharp mineral flavors that linger on the palate. Lovely wine - serve with sole almondine, chicken in cream sauce, aged Comté and full-flavored goat cheeses. David Lillie
80% Pinot Noir and 20% Trousseau grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. The 2015 Tradition shows aromas of strawberry liqueur with hints of blackberry, cherry, earth and rose. The palate is quite firm and dense, with saline mineral flavors and earthy black fruits. This is a unique and delicious Jura red that's lovely now, and should age nicely for 8 to 10 years. DL
From a 1/2 hectare parcel on Kimmeridgian limestone in Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. 11.3% alcohol. Very pale garnet color, really a rosé. Lovely aromas of red-currant, tart cherry, strawberry, earth and beach rose, a hint of spice. The palate is tart and light with red-currant, earth and stone, with nice length and intensity of fruit. This opens up nicely on day 2 and should age well. Congratulations to the capable Emilie Gerard, who has taken over after the untimely passing of Jean-Charles Maire.
"Les Travers de Marceau" is a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 25% Carignan, 15% Cinsault planted at the highest elevation in the Saint-Chinian AOC. This appellation is divided by its soil composition - in the north, the soils are rich in schist, in the south there is only heavy limestone and clay soils. Jean-Marie Rimbert's vineyards are in Berlou, in the north western half of the AOC. This soil composition and high elevation give his much-beloved wines a light, early drinking quality. The nose offers complex, exotic aromas of dried apricot, tree bark, savory spices, and undercurrents of crushed blueberry and pomegranate. The palate is silky and dusted with mineral acidity. Flavors of dense blue fruit and umami spices give way to star-anise and hints of fennel on the finish. This pairs perfectly with saucisson, cassoulet, and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
This is Chardonnay with no sulfites added, from Sylvain Bock, a winemaker who grew up in the Northern Rhone and developed his chops working at Domaine Mazel in the Ardèche. For a wine with no added SO2 and a "cooky" label, this really impressed me. I was expecting something a bit wacky, and instead was greeted with beautiful stone fruit aromas, and a mouthfeel that combined the richness and finesse of Chardonnay with its herbaceous and mineral side. Totally clean (even 8 hours later) and a great example of a natural wine that could fool the critics! Eben Lillie
100% Chardonnay, "zero zero," as they say in France for bubbles that have no dosage and no sulfites added. The Thill Cremant is toasty and crisp, with bright golden fruit on the nose, subtle texture and a refreshing finish. 21 months on the lees before disgorging give the wine depth and richness. All in all, this is a ridiculous deal for a really complex, pure (and clean) natural Cremant from the Jura. Get some while it lasts! Eben Lillie
The 2014 Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. 62 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.
Serge Hondet at Domaine Tinou makes a tiny quantity of lovely dry rosé from Cabernet Franc grown on his 3 hectare organic estate in the southern part of Jurançon. The wine shows a very pale pink color with delicate aromas of raspberry and red currant. The palate is light and bone-dry with subtle flavors of red fruits, citrus and rosewater that continue in the long finish. A bit like the Baudry Chinon Rosé, it will accompany terrines and patés, chicken and pork dishes. And while its delicous now, don't hesitate to put some away for next summer... David Lillie
This is a gorgeous Banyuls Blanc, that is to say a Vin Doux Naturel (at 17% alcohol) made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Muscat grown in Traginer's organic vineyards above Banyuls. Beautiful aromas of lime flower, apricot, citrus, pear and almond. Very floral. The palate is deep and medium-sweet with candied citrus, apriot and stone flavors and terrific length. Serve not too cool, as an apéritif or with desserts of peach, apricot, pear and melon. Absolutely delicious! DL
A Cremant in everything but name, this Vin Mousseaux (a general term that refers to sparkling wines) is 100% Chardonnay Extra-Brut. There is no dosage so it's particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), this is perfectly refreshing (think Summertime), super 'digestif' and great for an apero or with food. Eben Lillie
This is a charming and comforting red from our friends Luc and Marie Michel of Zélige-Caravent, in the Pic-St-Loup appellation of the Languedoc. Primarily old-vines Grenache, with a touch of Syrah and Cinsault, it's full-bodied and silky, with crushed dark berry fruit and subtle grip. This is truly a satisfying red, and the perfect remedy for a cold winter night. Smooth enough to be enjoyed without food, this will shine with roasted meats, stews, spicy foods, or any hearty meal. Eben Lillie