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There are a slew of delicious Pet-Nats emerging from Alsace, as younger generations experiment with the newly popular "methode ancestrale." The Geschickt version is 100% Pinot Auxerrois, and will be an instant hit with fans of saisons and farmhouse ales, and an eyebrow raiser for wine aficionados. It's totally dry, and a bit opaque, but clean and direct. There's a hint of pineapple on the palette, and perfect acidity carrying the fine bubbles. The mouthfeel is soft and gentle and finish is subtle. Just an all around fun wine and the new kid on the block for all you thirsty pet-nat drinkers. **fun note: there is apparently also a pet nat made by Jean Ginglinger called the "Dark Nat" that is part of a funny joke between Geschickt and Ginglinger - to me it was a look into how awesome the winemaker community is in Alsace. ** Eben Lillie
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
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.
The Descombes Regnié Vieilles Vignes is superb in 2014, showing lovely aromas of red currant and strawberry, violet, orange peel, brown spice and soil. There is velvety strawberry and blackberry compote on the palate with rose, pomegranate, earth and citrus. The finish is long with lemony acidity, mineral flavors and pretty red fruits. This is a complex and beautifully balanced Regnié that is delicious now, with aeration, and it should be superb from 2020 to 2026+. Highly recommended. David Lillie
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
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes makes this beautiful Beaujolais from a small parcel of 90 year-old Gamay vines of various old varieties in Leynes, just south of Pouilly-Fuissé. The parcel is at 1200 ft in altitude, with granite soils. From the warm 2015 vintage, the wine shows ripe blackberry aromas with earth, mint, cocoa and game; the palate is dense with supple blackberry fruit framed in firm acidity and strong flavors of earth, citrus and minerals. This is a complex and delicious Gamay that will accompany grilled foods this summer, stews and tagines throughout the year. Cellaring for five to eight years would be interesting. David Lillie
Known for the Vignes du Maynes wines from Cruzille, in the south of Burgundy, Julien Guillot has had the chance over the years to take long term leases on a few vineyards south of Macon in the Beaujolais. Due to issues with frost and hail in 2016, and to the loss of a rental vineyard to an old owner who decided to tear out vines, this vintage of the "Climat" is a combination of grapes from Chenas and from a vineyard called "Pierres Bleues" which is near Villefranche. Chenas is all granite, and Pierres Bleues is limestone. The wines fermented and aged separately and were blended a few months before bottling. From what I percieve, there's hint of granitic spiciness from Chenas, and some lift and energy from the limestone site. There's lovely fresh rasberry fruit on the attack, and a very mineral, stony finish. Fresh and elegant at 12.5%. Eben Lillie
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
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
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!
Located in the village of Charnay in southern Beaujolais, Jean-Paul Brun quietly makes some of the most classic wines of the region on his family’s 40-acre estate. All of the wines are allowed to ferment with native yeasts and minimal amounts of sulfur are employed ensuring fresh, lively wines. Brun’s Beaujolais Blanc is made from 100% Chardonnay that comes from 80+-year-old vines planted in clay and limestone soils. On the nose luscious green apple fruit mingles with poached pear and citrus zest. The palate does have some weight, but this is a lean, sharp wine with a sturdy mineral backbone. It’s really quite amazing to drink such a precise wine for such a value.
Jean-Paul Brun of Domaine des Terres Dorées has 2 parcels of 50 year-old vines on a steep section of Mont Brouilly with a south-east exposition at about 1,000 ft of altitude. The thin soil is almost entirely stones of granite with a high iron content. (A more interesting terroir than the thicker, damper soils of Brouilly.) This is a gorgeous wine! Lovely, ripe blackberry and raspberry/strawberry fruit aromas with a touch of violets and earth.
From a small parcel in the southern Beaujolais on clay and silica soils over limestone. Direct press, one day maceration, wild yeast fermentation, no chaptalization, minimal SO2. The 2017 Les Griottes shows light herbal raspberry, rose and stone aromas. The palate is light but long with stone, raspberry and citrus fruit, crisp acidity and a nice mouth-coating finish. A lovely very dry rose with enough depth and character to accompany anything from oysters to chicken!
Here's a first: this is Gameret, a cross between Gamay and a Swiss grape called Reichensteiner. It's funky and fresh, with no sulfites added and a bit of barnyardy character on the nose, with pure ripe berry fruit on the palate. Fun and curious. Drink with a slight chill. Eben Lillie
The wines of Jean-Pierre Boyer at Chateau Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre, are made in the lighter "claret" style of the 19th century. The 1995 shows a light red/garnet slightly mature color with pretty aromas of sweet red-currant, cassis and prune with sous-bois, licorice, tobacco, citrus and spice. The palate is delicate and silky, with a firm core of red currant/cassis fruit, framed in firm acidity. Very earthy with fruit liqueur, smoke, mint and minerals in the long finish. Decant a few hours in advance to enjoy this very unusual and beautiful Margaux. Another 5 to 10 years of cellaring would be interesting. David Lillie
(Five hour decant) The 1998 is a complex and unusual Bordeaux in mid-life, showing more secondary and mineral qualities than the riper 2000. The wine shows a light, slightly browning garnet color; the aromas are quite floral and earthy with spicy black currant, clove, graphite and citrus peel. The palate shows dark earth and mineral flavors yielding to bright black currant and cassis fruit with dark spice and sous-bois flavors backed by very firm acidity. The wine held up well with an additional few hours open and will obviously benefit from another ten to twenty years of aging. 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. 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
What a fantastic Claret from Coutet! This Saint Émilion estate, certified organic since 2012, does not use any chemical treatments on the land and the results show on the quality of their wines. A Claret, the wine shows off a gorgeous dark pink color with purple hue. On the nose, the bouquet of juicy red raspberry, ripe strawberry, and dark rose petal notes is enticing. The palate is complex and luscious with notes of red berry fruit, yellow plum, wild flower and mint lingering on the finish, and with a beautiful texture and pretty acidity. Drink this wine by itself or with blackened salmon, light roasted chicken or steak tartare. Caroline Coursant
Our biodynamic friends, the Hubert family, make this lovely Bordeaux with the best juice from Chateau La Grolet, coming from old vines of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec. The 2015 shows lovely aromas of ripe cassis and blackberry with cedar, brown spice and earth, really quite pretty. The palate is elegant and well-structured with cassis and red fruits over firm acidity with earth and mineral flavors. This is a real Bordeaux of terroir that is delicious now especially if decanted many hours in advance or opened the night before. Cellaring for ten to fifteen years will create a lovely mature wine. David Lillie Please carafe before serving.
What a beautiful fresh Bordeaux! Certified organic since 2012, this estate has been making outstanding wines since the beginning, showing the expertise of the Clauzel family and superb terroir. This 2014 wine (a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc) is elegant and vibrant with a gorgeous bouquet of black and red berries, plum, oriental spices, leather and cedar box notes. On the palate, the wine is bright with acidity and minerality, and shows supple tannins with a long fresh finish. This is a vibrant Bordeaux which can accompany casual to fancy meals. Pair this wine with hamburgers, seared lamb, or with more elaborated dishes, such as, roast beef or braised duck. A delicious wine to drink now or cellar it for a few years. Caroline Coursant
This delicious wine comes from the Domaine Les Trois Petiotes, a 3-hectare estate in the Côtes de Bourg, a proponent of "less is more" on the field and in the cellar. The grapes, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, are fully destemmed, fermented in stainless steel tank, and then aged in neutral oak for a few years with minimal addition of sulfur at bottling. Lighter and more vibrant than the 2011 vintage, the wine is full of energy and freshness with a beautiful smooth texture coming from the supple tannins. Notes of red plum and cherry, green tobacco, mint and rose petals are prevalent on the nose. On the palate, the superb minerality (sand, clay, limestone and gravel soils) and bright acidity lift the wine. Pair this wine with barbecued meat, steak, and roasted lamb. This is a perfect Bordeaux to enjoy during the summer! Caroline Coursant
Château Peybonhomme-les-Tours is a fantastic organic- and biodynamic-certified estate located in Blaye on slopes of clay over limestone. The Quintessence is the top cuvée of the domaine and reflects the beautiful philosophy of wine making of the Hubert family. Typically a blend of Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), the wine has nice structure with supple tannins, great acidity, and firm minerality with a long finish.
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!
Biodynamic farming, native yeasts, wild fermentations, good value –all phrases not typically associated with Bordeaux. Yet, each year the Hubert family provides us with just that in their staple cuvee from the Côte de Blaye. The Cru Bourgeois is a blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and a bit of Malbec. Generously aromatic owing to the rich clay soils in which it is grown, there's ripe red fruit, black currant, and spice, with supple tannins and an undercurrent of chalky minerality. This is a great addition to the dinner table alongside grilled meat or sipped on its own. Amanda Bowman
Made from nearly equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a smattering of Cabernet Franc, farmed organically. The vines are grown on a gland of gravel and sand over limestone and clay. The 2015 is classic Graves with red and black fruits, notes of tobacco and cassis, with a fine core of minerality and ripe tannins on a medium weight, lifted finish. Delicious now, with a nice upside for mid-term aging. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops in a red wine sauce or hanger steak with an anchovy butter. John McIlwain
This is the eight vintage of the Hubert family's "Blanc Bonhomme"which seems to get better every year. The vines are now 12 years old, 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon, certified organic and Biodynamic. The grapes are hand-harvested in the early morning, pressed gently, fermented with native yeasts and the wine is aged partly in new oak, mostly in cement vats. Only 650 cases are made. The 2017 shows elegant pear, lemon, herbal and dried flower aromas, with pear, citrus and chalky mineral flavors on the palate. A bit less ripe than previous vintages, this really shows the terroir with crisp acidity, lovely white fruit, a hint of pineapple and oak and stony flavors in the finish. Really a lovely, balanced and food-friendly wine - serve with anything from oysters to grilled fish to roast chicken. David Lillie
Domaine Anne Bavard-Brooks is located in Puligny-Montrachet and has been organic and biodynamic since 2005. The "La Combe" vineyard is in the village of Puligny with 35 year-old vines on silt and clay soils over limestone, 200 cases made. The palate is round and dense with flavors of pear, fines-herbes, almond, citrus, honeysuckle and brown spice. The finish is long and ripe with citrus and stone flavors that linger. This is a quite complex and well-balanced Burgundy that will accompany a wide variety of seafood and poultry dishes and mild cheeses. Drinking beautifully now, this will cellar nicely over the next 5 years or more.
From a .35 HA parcel of organically farmed 51-year-old vines just opposite of the property. The 2014 Domaine Chevrot Bougogne Tilleuls is a lovely old vine expression of Aligoté. The plot is farmed organically with the soils worked by horse, the fermentation and aging is in barrel with native yeasts. An Aligoté to cellar, the wine is coiled and nervy with citrus and herbal notes leading on the nose followed by hints of sea spray. The palate is densely mineral and textured with stony acidity and bright Meyer lemon fruit on the attack and a long richly earthy finish. This is lovely and will age beautifully as well as pair with denser fish such as halibut or better still, some sea scallops from Blue Moon Fish with braised greens, citrus segments, brown butter, capers. -John McIlwain
The De Moors suffered terrible loses due to frost and hail in 2016 and 2017 - They have been aided by friends in the south and have made delicious "Vendangeurs Maqué" wines, this one with Grenache Blanc from Julie Brosselin and Eric Pfifferling, Viogniers from Gérald Oustric and Gramenon, Roussanne from Eric Texier and Clairete from Pierre Pradel.
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
A blend of 57% Puligny villages with 43% Puligny 1er Truffière. Nexe Flore is a play on words, per Allen Meadows, of next floor, implying a step up from the Puligny villages tout court. John McIlwain
Julien Guillot at Vignes du Maynes makes this elegant white Burgundy from an organic parcel on crumbly limestone that has 15% Pinot Gris and 85% Chardonnay. Just delicious in 2015, the "En Rimont" shows aromas of dried pear and apple, almond and stone with hints of spice, citrus and honeysuckle. The palate is quite elegant with earthy white fruits, hay, almond, white pepper and citrus. Quite supple and pure (vinified with minimal SO2) this is a very food-friendly wine that will accompany full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, chicken and white meats and a wide variety of cheeses. Lovely wine! David Lillie
A new wine from Julien Guillot at the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, the 2016 Macon "Clos Fourneau" is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Gris. The wine shows floral, honeyed aromas of pear, white peach and candied citrus. Ripe stone fruits on the palate are wrapped in bright citrusy acids with chalky mineral flavors that continue in the finish with lemon and stone. Try this with melon and prosciutto or a full flavored fish such as halibut or monkfish. This will improve with a long decant or three to five years in the cellar.
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
From 2.5 hectares of younger vines, farmed organically and fermented with native yeasts in steel tank. The 2016 Moreau-Naudet Petit Chablis is bright and floral, with aromas of jonquil, honeysuckle, apple blossom, Meyer lemon, rainwater. White orchard fruits, lemon oil, Golden Delicious apple, and salt on the palate. Ripe, but racy. Long, succulent, and snappy on an incisively mineral finish. Lovely! Always an over-performer of a Petit Chablis. Moreau-Naudet is a wonderful domaine whose great farming results in terrific wines. A splendidly fresh aperitif and just fabulous with a salad of white beans, red onions, spring lettuces, and Spanish tuna packed in oil. John McIlwain
Located toward the bottom of the slope beneath Beaune Grèves and adjacent to Les Cents Vignes, Clos des Mariages is a mix of young and very old vines planted in clay and limestone soils. The lovely 2017 Blanc shows high-toned aromas of lime-flower, melon, pear, wet stone and honeysuckle. The palate is light and silky with pear, apple and citrus flavors with chalky minerals and herbal flavors in the refreshing finish. Serve with fish in sauce, scallop crudo, Asian foods and mild cheeses.
Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely Biodynamic wines in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils. Quite racy and bright even in 2017, the wine shows subtle aromas of lemon, almond, stone, spiced pear and apple. Intense, very mineral palate with pear, citrus and stone flavors and terrific length. The antithesis of fat, oaky Chardonnays, this food friendly wine will accompany everything from oysters and grilled seafoods to roast chicken and mild cheeses. Delicious now or cellar for 5 to 8 years. This is a real Chardonnay of terroir and a great value! David Lillie
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
From 40 to 80 year-old massale-selection Chardonnay vines high on the slope in Cruzille on limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica, never treated with chemicals, certified biodynamic. Fermentation is in 600 liter barrels with wild yeasts, aged 10 months sur-lie without racking, no SO2 until a small dosage (10 - 20 mg/l) before bottling. The 2016 "Aragonite" is a superb, well structured white Burgundy that will age beautifully. The wine shows elegant aromas of pear, lemon confit, lime-flower, toasted almond and stone, really lovely. The palate is intensely mineral and framed in firm acidity, with white fruits, citrus, spice and stone flavors. The living soils of the Clos give this wine an extra dimension of acidity and saline minerals that will contribute to a long life for this lovely wine, perhaps best 2025-2035, but it's delicious as a young wine as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
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
Tasted in January 2017 at the estate. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length. (This shipment disgorged in June 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 brulée 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 yet laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium-bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in March 2017 after 14 years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines.
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious..." 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 a fine line of sapid minerality on the supple and rich palate. This shows a fine interplay between power, tension, and a suave, supple finish. This is one heck of an Ambonnay and a fine bottle of Beaufort! (Disgorged June 2017) John McIlwain
The new Beaufort Polisy Reserve Brut Nature NV is from the 2014 vintage and was disgorged in November of 2017. (Organic farming since 1971, wild yeast fermentations, minimal SO2.) This lovely Champagne shows a pale gold/bronze color with aromas of brioche, pear, lime flower, apricot and vanilla with a bit of brown spice and anise. Full, soft mousse on the palate with creamy pear, citrus, stone and herbal flavors, with hints of raspberry and red currant emerging. A bit soft and ripe for a Brut Nature, at 12% alcohol, but well balanced with refreshing acidity in the finish. Serve with a ceviche of squid or scallop, fish in sauce, goat cheeses or perhaps with berry or citrus desserts. David Lillie
We're fans of the Champagnes of Beaufort for a number of reasons. The farming at this historic Domaine is impeccable and the winemaking is classical and refreshingly old school. The 2013 base Ambonnay Grand Cru in handy half bottle is a pocket-sized example of Beaufort's distinctive character. Aromas of ginger, brioche, ripe golden fruit and almond lead to similar flavors on the elegant, generous and honeyed palate which finishes with beautifully firm acidity and mineral flavors. This has the brightness and acidity to accompany oysters and shellfish, but enough weight and grip to serve with grilled fish, caviar and goat cheeses. Also, please note that while the label reads "Polisy" it is in fact the Ambonnay Grand Cru Reserve. Amanda Bowman
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 2014 displays lemon and apple blossom and stone fruit aromas, with delicate notes of spice and citrus peel following. The palate is distinctly nervy and racy, with overtly stony notes, cool notes of orange oil and lemon balm and a long tangy, expressive finish. There's a penetrating minerality here matched by equally vivacious fruit. Delicious! (Dosage 3g/l., disg. 01/18) John McIlwain
The Rive Gauche bottling from Bérêche is 100% Pinot Meunier from vines planted in 1969 in the north facing parcel Le Misy in Port-á-Binson near Mareuil-le Port in the Marne. The north-facing slopes and old vines keep in check Meunier's tendency to over-exuberance, preserving the mineral expression of the variety. The 2014 exhibits floral, citrus peel, stone fruit scents on the nose with aromas of acacia blossom, peach skin, and marzipan dominating. The palate is ripe, but racy, with flavors of white peach, orange oil, ginger, and salted plum on a mouth-watering, driving, insistent finish. For fans of the Rive Gauche bottling, this is more linear than the generous 2013 edition, but a compelling expression of this terroir. (3 grams dosage/ disgorged 10/17) John McIlwain
Made from 100% Pinot Noir planted in 1971 in Les Maillons, a lieu-dit located in Barbonne-Fayel, whose soils are made up of chalk and heavy red clays. From his cellars in Congy, located to the southwest of the Côte des Blancs, Olivier Collin produces serious, vinous, Champagnes of terroir. His "Les Maillons" bottling is one such wine. The 2013 is ripe, dense, rich, and complex. With a faint copper hue, and fine bead; the nose is redolent of ripe red fruits, such as sour cherry, pomegranate, and wild raspberry. The palate is concentrated, stony, and bracingly dry. The power and poise of this wine are impeccably balanced, and this should knit beautifully with 5-10 years in the cellar. 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
From organically-farmed Chardonnay vines in Vertus, Mont Aime, Villeneuve, the current disgorgement of Arpège is a blend of 15% 2010, 50% 2009, 35% 2008 vintages bottled in 2012, recently disgorged with 5g/l dosage. Arpège (French for Arpeggio) is a great introduction to Pascal's wines. It combines the incisive chalkiness with pure fruit and a longer lees aging and is a delicious expression of his Côte des Blancs terroir. The nose offers white flowers, citrus peel, ginger and cool herb aromas. The palate is decidedly stony, with a chalky minerality leading the attack followed by notes of Meyer lemon, white peach skin, and Bosc pear flavors. The finish is long, bright, and sapid. This a perfect Champagne for an aperitif, but has the verve to pair with oysters and other seafood dishes. John McIlwain
From the "Les Clos" parcel, this wine contains all seven legal Champagne grapes, field-blended, farmed biodynamically, and vinified in barrel as its own cuvée. The wine has lots of savory notes, hazelnuts, and the edgy rusticity of Pinot Meunier, which comes through in handsome spades. The fruit is rose-hip-red, and the wine finishes with textured, dry minerality. All our eyes got big and wide and happy when we tasted this! WOW. JBT
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. The amphitheater-shaped vineyard is something of a sun trap and produces Champagnes of power and precision in Vincent's able hands. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village (near the bottom of the slope down by the river), where the soils are chalk rather than the clays of other portions of the village. This is a particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral, displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentation is with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is deeply chalky and mineral, displaying the characteristic power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. The 2012 is deeply pitched with pungent quinine, lemon rind, salt, and iodine notes on a full-bodied, tightly-coiled palate. This shows citrus blossom and chalk on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. With air, nearly kaleidoscopic layers of citrus and green apple fruit and chalk flavors reveal themselves on a long, elegant, precise and vibrant finish. The 2012 will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
The inaugural release of biodynamic vigneron Benoît Marguet's Coteaux Champenois Blanc, the 2015 was aged for 19 months in barrel. Bosc pear, lemon blossom, honeycomb on the nose. The palate is textured and waxy with good acidity lending freshness and brightness to a rich, layered finish redolent of nectarine, lemon curd, and acacia honey. With time in the glass, a deep minerality is revealed. This is magnificent Coteaux Champenois and a great expression of Ambonnay terroir. Bravo Benoît! John McIlwain
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
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
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
High-toned, floral and fresh with bright red fruit notes and zesty acidity. A wine of energy and lift rather than mass, this racy Bourgogne shows the buoyant nature of the difficult, but excellent 2016 vintage. Pablo Chevrot and his family make beautiful and fairly-priced Burgundy in every vintage, and are a great domaine for value. Enjoy with roasted chicken, fricasséed mushrooms, tempura, or milder cheeses. John McIlwain
This Pinot Noir rosé is a blend of the saignée from villages and 1er cru fruit in Maranges, a straight pressing of Hautes Côtes de Beaune fruit, and pellicular maceration of fruit from Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Pale pink, effusive on the nose with aromas of cherry blossom (of course), wild strawberry, cherry, and chalk. Palate is ripe, racy and juicy. Ripe stone fruit and savory herbal notes lend interest. Lip-smacking finish. This is nearly incandescent with bright fruit and crackling energy. A fabulous rosé for an aperitif or with dinner outdoors on a warm Summer evening. 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
Dark forest and hedge fruits on nose, earthy and brooding with game aromas. Taut and mineral, with a core of pungent soil notes of black tea, cherry pit, spice and stone on a dense mid-weight palate. Tightly wound, energetic, on the attack; savory and dark-fruited on the finish. This is a bit reserved at the moment and benefits from a substantial decant or 4-7 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
When life gives you lemons (or the worst frost in decades) you make a cuvée from your lieux-dits most devastated by Mother Nature, whic is exactly what Rateau did with the 2016 vintage. Fortunately the resulting Cuvée Ronde is delicious! Strawberry, pomegranate, crushed herbs and beetroot on the nose. On the racy, lithe palate flavors of wild strawberry, red currant, chalk, and raspberry seed, vie for attention with savory notes of thyme, freshly turned soil, and black tea on a lifted, fresh, cool-toned, succulent finish. Not a bruiser, but there’s loads of charm, sap, and detail here. Old-fashioned in the best sense and a vibrant expression of 2016. Try this with grilled salmon or roasted chicken. John McIlwain
Jean-Claude says this wine, sourced from lieux-dits Beaux and Bons on the Pommard side of Beaune, always shows aromas of "cerises noires" (black cherries). There is indeed a beautiful nose of bright red cherry with some eucalyptus and floral notes as well. Fresh acidity and very pretty fruit. Truly an elegant and lean expression, without ripe extracted fruit or any oak notes. Fine tannin and a long finish.
Jean-Claude Rateau makes this lovely, light-bodied Burgundy from a small parcel of 50 year-old vines in AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune, certified biodynamic, "lyre ouverte" pruning. The 2016 shows a bright red/garnet color, with very pretty aromas of tart cherry and raspberry with hints of rose, spice and violet. The palate is light but sapid and beautifully flavored with bright cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit supported by fresh acidity. There is excellent length of berry fruits, mineral flavors and citrusy acids in the finish. This is an elegant Pinot Noir to serve cool with chicken and game birds, fish in sauce, grilled pork and mild cheeses - just delicious! David Lillie
From vines planted in Santenots du Bas dating from as far back as the 1920s. The 2015 Nicolas Rossignol Volnay Santenots makes a convincing case for the virtues of this sunny vintage. The wine has a dark ruby robe and a nose redolent of black cherry, red cherry, lavender, exotic spices, and violets. The medium weight palate shows good sap and ripe tannins with concentrated cherry and raspberry flavors overlying a dense core of minerality. There's terrific density and persistence on a long, detailed, layered finish without any sense of excessive weight, which marks some of the wines of the vintage. Great Santenots! John McIlwain
From 50 year old vines in four parcels below the village of Volnay. Cherry pit, iron, and spice box with notes of black tea on the nose, freshly turned soil and violets emerge with air. There is a deft interplay between the bright hedge fruit and stony earth notes on the detailed, mid-weight palate. This is a fine Bourgogne, with enough savory elements in relation to the charm of the fruit to warrant a few years in the cellar. John McIlwain
40+ year-old vines. Adjacent to Mazoyères on the Gevrey side of the the village. One of the cooler locations with a long ripening period. 15% new oak in 2016. This is a step up in class from the village level wines with a similar intensity, if different character than Les Millandes premier cru. Effusively perfumed with aromas of violets, hedge fruits, cassis, black tea and baking spices, mustard seed, and turned earth on the nose. The mid-weight palate is a bit cooler-toned than Millandes, with mouthwatering pure berry fruits and tangy minerality. Great persistence and sap on a finely-detailed, succulent, classy finish. This verges on cerebral, were it not for the equipoise between earthy and fruit notes. Doesn't shout, but speaks eloquently in paragraphs. A great Cheseaux that should age effortlessly! John McIlwain
45+year-old vines in clay limestone soils. 15% new oak. The 2016 Arlaud is a sensational expression of Les Millandes. On the nose it offers pure-fruited, pretty aromatics with ultra-ripe (not over ripe) pure cherry and violet aromas. Coltish and nervous on the palate, this shows great energy, ripe fruit flavors, with a tactile mineral spine, ripe tannins, generous fruit, with a long, driving mineral finish. This is excellent. Beautiful after-aromas and a good amount of the 'peacock's tail.' Lovely now, but this has the elements to age for 10-15 years and beyond. John McIlwain
60+year-old vines planted in a walled clos on Chambolle side of Morey beneath Bonnes Mares and Clos de Tart. 15% new oak. More structured, deeper-pitched, and masculine than Les Millandes. Pure plummy black cherry fruit with sauvage/animale elements and a frank, ferrous minerality within. Great density and agility. You can taste the proximity to Sentiers and Bonnes Mares. This is dynamite! Nearly painfully long, stony, palate-staining finish. This isn't a wine to enjoy in its callow youth, but will reward with 12-15+ years in the cellar. Patience is a virtue here. John McIlwain
Domaine Bart in Marsannay made no rosé in 2016 due to the very low yields, so we're very glad to have this lovely Pinot Noir available again from the 2017 vintage. The wine shows a bright pink color and pretty aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry, rose and citrus. The palate shows ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit with earth and mineral notes, as befits the limestone terroir of Marsannay. The finish is long and refreshing. This is light enough to serve with fish dishes and salads but has the depth and complexity to accompany grilled foods this summer.
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
Red and black cherry, floral and spicy on the nose, perfumed with notes of black tea, and five spice. Mid-weight palate offers flavors of red cherry and black raspberry, raspberry syrup, overlaying spicy mineral tones and fine precision and poise. This is pretty, but has gravitas within. Decant or better still hide in cellar for 3-5 years to allow elements to knit. A fine Charmes and a pleasure to drink! John McIlwain
Earthy and perfumed. Tension between bright red and black fruits and pungent core of minerality is exquisite. Lifted and grounded. Generous and precise. Needs a bit of time for the elements to knit, but this is just lovely. John McIlwain
Also known as Henri Felettig, this tiny domaine is run by brother and sister Gilbert and Christine Felettig, The domaine dates from 1970 and has a fine lineup of premier crus and village wines in Chambolle-Musigny as well as small holdings in Vosne Romanée and Nuits St. Georges. The wines are aromatically fine, pure-fruited, and terroir specific.
We are happy to have just received (July 2018) a few more cases of the 2014 CDN Villages, as this wine really benefits from some time in the bottle and decanting. Always an earthy and mineral-infused wine, the 2014 is a bit more fruit-forward but is still primarily a Burgundy of terroir. There is reduction when first opened so please decant or open in advance. With aeration the wine shows subtle aromas of red currant, strawberry and tart cherry with violet, brown spice and earth - really quite complex and pretty. The palate is well-structured with chalky mineral flavors underlying the earthy raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is long with firm acidity and mineral notes. This is a lovely and beautifully balanced Burgundy for those who enjoy minerals as much as fruit! Note: The wine improves dramatically over 3 to 4 days, re-corked in the fridge, for those with enough patience - or cellar for five to fifteen years. (Note from Sept 2016)
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!
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
Jane et Sylvain: A refreshingly unpretentious name for a small organic estate in Gevrey-Chambertin. Their Bourgogne Rouge is from a parcel that has never been chemically treated and always tended organically. Yields were very low in 2016 in most of Burgundy - Jane and Sylvain lost most of their Bourgogne Rouge to mildew and hail, but the small quantity produced is outstanding, showing a deep red/black color and lovely aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry with violet, earth, citrus and spice. The palate is sappy and dense, but balanced with firm acidity, at 13% alcohol, showing chalky black fruits, earth and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish. Decant or open in advance if drinking now, best to cellar three to five years. This is a serious Bourgogne Rouge at a great price!
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
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 very old vines planted by Stéphane's grandfather, the rare and beautiful Magnien Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes is a lovely combination of finesse and ripeness.
From two small parcels in "Aux Eletois" (below Grand Cru Griottes) and "les Epointures" (below 1er Cru Clos Prieur) on the more fine and aromatic side of Gevrey. The midweight palate is lithe, racy, and offers up vibrant flavors of dark fruits, crushed herbs, game, and salty soil notes. Great lifted acidity and core of minerality overlain by an assortment of wild berry fruits. This is another great example of the combination of perfume, pure fruit, and detailed earthiness that is a hallmark of the 2016 vintage. Great tension and verve and a bargain at the price. Wonderful with veau aux champignons. John McIlwain
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
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
Stéphane Orieux's father Joseph converted the estate to organic agriculture back in 1967, and Stéphane has continued (now certified by Ecocert) the great vineyard work of his father. The grapes are hand-harvested, fermentations are with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur is used. The 2017 Bregeonnette is from vines on both schist and granite soils and is a beautiful example of a young, vibrant Muscadet from organic farming. The aromas are classic Muscadet: pear, green apple, citrus, fresh herbs and wet stone with floral hints. The palate is refreshing with subtle white fruits and citrus with hints of mineral and almond, with firm citrusy acids in the finish. This is a delicious and versatile Muscadet to serve with shellfish and white fish such as cod, haddock and sole and it's a nice aperitif as well. David Lillie
From old vines of Cabernet Franc on the clay/limestone upper slopes in Benais (Grandmont) and Restigné (Le Peu Muleu), it is fermented, aged and bottled without the use of sulfur dioxide, according to the winemaking principles of Jules Chauvet. 2015 is a great vintage for the Nuits D'Ivresse which shows lush aromas of red currant, black raspberry, violets, earth and black pepper. The palate is ripe and dense with strawberry and raspberry confit, balanced by citrusy acids. The finish is tart and juicy and very long with firm acidity and saline minerals. This is a beautiful young Bourgueil, with zero added SO2 - carafe if drinking now, best to wait three to five years and we think longer cellaring would be interesting, even without the sulfur! David Lillie
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
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. Wines from this vineyard are built to age and this rare bottling from Domaine de la Chevalerie is a beautiful example. 2012 Loire reds are not big wines, but they have lovely bright fruit and are beautifully balanced with refreshing acidity. The 2012 "Grand Mont" shows elegant aromas of black raspberry and strawberry with violet, earth, dark chocolate, citrus and game. The palate shows sliky tannins and complex red and black fruits - beautifully balanced with bright acidity and mineral flavors. This is really elegant and Burgundian, very long and built to last. Open the day before if drinking now, this will be a beautiful mature wine. David Lillie
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
Repesenting a new generation in Muscadet, Manuel Landron (son of Jo Landron) and Marion Pescheux are making lovely wines on their 9 hectares of mostly Orthogneiss/Amphibolite soils."La Croix Mroiceau" is from a one-hectare parcel just east of La Haye Fouassière. The 2017 shows a pale gold color and aromas of dried pear, candied lemon, almond and fines herbes. The palate is round and supple with firm acidity, with ripe white fruits, toasted almond, anise and mineral flavors that linger in the finish. This is a bit fuller-bodied than most Muscadet , but still expressing the Orthogneiss terroir with a firm structure good acidity. Serve with baked or broiled fish, roast chicken, vegetables and mild cheeses. Lovely wine! David Lillie
2014 is a beautiful vintage for the Clos de Turpenay, a vineyard of clay/limestone on a well-exposed slope that has been in vines since the 13th century. The current vines were planted in massale selection about 50 years ago and generally give a very structured wine that ages well. As with the best of the 2014 Chinons, The Clos de Turpenay shows a beauriful combination of supple ripe fruits, freshness, and great terroir expression. The aromas are complex and pretty - black raspberry, cassis and strawberry, quite fresh, with earth, pepper, rose and citrus. The palate is a lovely mix of red and black fruits with earth, sous-bois, citrus and chalky mineral flavors that continue in the long sappy finish. This is a subtle and elegant Chinon - carafe 1 to 2 hours in advance or cellar 15 to 20 years. Serve with stews, Guinea hen with peaches (!), salade magret de canard, roast chicken.
Beautiful dense and long expression of Chenin Blanc from around the Anjou appellation. Eben Lillie
The Domaine du Fresche is a certified organic estate in Anjou producing delightful, fresh, vivacious wines from Chenin, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Grolleau. This lovely rosé of Grolleau and Pinot Noir comes from hand-harvested fruit and is vinified with wild yeasts giving pretty aromas of ripe red currant, blood orange and strawberry. The palate shows silky, pure fruit - red currant with hints of watermelon and citrus and finishes with round red fruits and juicy acidity. A lovely wine and a great value. Thanks to Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche!
Guy Bossard's groundbreaking Biodynamic estate is now in the capable and energetic hands of Fred Niger Van Herck, who is continuing Guy's fabulous work and introducing new wines vinified in amphora. The 2016 "Granite" is a bit more austere than the 2015, showing pronounced mineral and saline aromas with dried pear, citrus and herbal notes. The palate is crystalline and pure with good density with citrus, earth and white fruits. The finish is long with pear, iodine, citrus and firm acids. Decant or open in advance for current drinking, serve with oysters, other shellfish, white fish sushi, scallops and richer fish dishes as well. Drink till 2030+
50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau grown by Alain and Christine Bore, the sixth generation on their organic estate in Anjou. This unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Grolleau is lovely and refreshing in 2017 showing bright aromas of ripe boysenberry and black Raspberry with citrus, black pepper and earth. The palate is supple and soft with cool black raspberry, black plum and cocoa, earth and mineral flavors. The finish is supple and ripe - serve cool with pork and chicken dishes or sip by itself.
Tasted with Pascaline Lepeltier, MS at the Salon Demeter last winter in Angers, this wine was absolutely sensational! 100% Pinot Fin, the small berried old version of Pinot Noir, whole cluster fermentation. Beautiful aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and violet; palate chalky and dense with black raspberry and cherry fruit, velvety and long. Not inexpensive, but worth the price, just a brilliant Pinot Noir. (only in the US at Chambers Street and Racines NY) David Lillie
This is a gorgeaous Sancerre Rouge, a product of Vincent Gaudry's wonderful biodynamic farming. Wild yeast fermentation, aging 12 months in used barrels. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, violet and spice, with a vibrant mineral character on the palate from the limestone soils. The fruit is sappy and dense but not heavy, with plum skin, black cherry and earthy flavors. The finish is long with bright chalky red fruits and refreshing acidity. Drink now, served quite cool, with grilled meats, veal tartare and mild cheeses or hold for five to ten years for a mature experience. This is a deliciouis Pinot Noir from a great terroir in Sancerre! David Lillie
Vincent Gaudry began organic and biodynamic farming in 1993 and the results show beautifully especially in his vibrant 2017s. The "Constellation du Scorpion" is from silex soils over limestone and is fermented and aged in old barrels. The wine shows subtle aromas of almond, lime-flower, grapefruit and stone - very fresh and bright. There is a very mineral attack on the palate with flint and earth flavors, grilled almond, dried pear, blood orange and apricot with a saline, mineral aspect in the finish which is elegant, clean and long with lingering white fruits. This is a young and racy Sancerre that will accompany oysters, shellfish, grillled fish and white meats this summer. This should develop beautifully with three to five years of cellaring - it's an outstanding Sancerre and a great value at this price. David Lillie
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.
When we started with Stéphane Guion, selling the 2005 Cuvée Prestige, we referred to the Revue Vin de France article on this unknown domaine - "These are not fashionable wines, due to the dynamic acidity, but for those who love the flavors of terroir they are a priority discovery that are a credit to the Loire." Indeed, organic farming going back to 1965, and a regimen of shallow plowing that keeps soil ph low, gives Stephane's wines a unique bright acidity and high mineral content underlying the beautiful fruit of his old vines. And in 2015 there was gorgeous fruit in Chinon and Bourgueil, despite the late rains that softened the wines at some estates. The 2015 Cuvée Prestige, from forty to eighty year-old vines in parcels around Benais, is a vibrant, joyous wine that shows a bright deep garnet color and elegant, ripe aromas of strawberry and red currant liqueur with hints of violet, dusty stone and black pepper. The palate is sapid and ripe but lifted by refreshing acidity, with lush berry liqueurs, saline minerals and citrus. The finish is long with lingering sappy fruit, earthy acidity and spice. Thanks to the Guion family for this soulful and delicious wine! (Aging potential of twenty to thirty years, but it's so delicious now that leaving it in the cellar will be difficult.) David Lillie
From 15 to 40 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils in Benais, in organic agriculture since 1965. The 2016 vintage shows quite deep red/black color with bright aromas of ripe black raspberry, black cherry, pepper, earth and clove. The palate is sapid and bright, with the firm acidity always present in Guion's wines. The black raspberry and red currant fruit is light and bright, at 12% alcohol, and the finish is refreshing and mineral. This young and vibrant wine will benefit from decanting well in advance (or opening the night before). Serve cool with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork chops and burgers. Thanks to Domaine Guion for two generations of organic agriculture and natural winemaking! DL
Stéphane Guion's superb Bourgueil Rosé will differ from year to year, even finishing slightly sweet in certain vintages. In 2017, however, the wine is bone dry and tartly refreshing showing subtle and beautiful aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, green apple and rose petal. The palate is light and scintillating but with nice density of raspberry and red currant fruit, with a long finish of stone and citrusy acids. Serve this refreshing rosé with oysters vinaigrette, salade Nicoise, fried or grilled fish, roast chicken and mild cheeses. We don't get very much, so grab some now, and save a few bottles for next spring... David Lillie
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 unique Loire Valley Chardonnay is from old vines and was aged 24 months in barrel in the Jousset's "cave troglodyte."
Lise and Bertrand Jousset began the "Exilé" project with fruit purchased from nearby friends who share their commitment to organic farming. The "Exilé" rose is a pétillant made from 100% Gamay and it's one of our favorites. The 2016 is decadent with coastal aromas of salty pineapple core, fleshy melon, almond skins, and lilac. At 12% it is almost completely dry with a lacy mineral structure framing rich flavors of bosc pear, creamy pineapple, and subtle hints of white tea and orange peel. The finish is long and fabulously mineral. Serve with salade niçoise, cheese, or as a life-affirming aperó after a long day. Amanda Bowman
Rose á Lies is a beautiful Petillant Naturel Rosé from Lise and Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis-sur-Loire. Made from 40 year-old organic Gamay and Grolleau vines grown on sand and silex soils over limestone. Fermented in used barriques, the wine is bottled at 15 grams of sugar and finishes at less than 5 grams. The wine has toasty aromas of red currant and raspberry with creamy red fruits on the palate balanced with bracing acidity. The finish is clean, refreshing and long - a perfect Pet Nat for any special or everyday occasion!
The Joussets have made a lovely natural Pinot Noir from Biodynamic fruit grown by Philippe Gilbert in Menetou-Salon!
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70 year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2014 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing pure blackberry fruit with earth and licorice with firm mineral acidity. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 to 2030+. Highly recommended. DL
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and fermented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate shows earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate with firm citrusy acids. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will accompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And at $14.99 it's a fabulous value! DL
Up until this vintage, the only rosés available from Les Capriades were off-dry, but now there is finally a bone-dry cuvee! Made entirely from Gamay, it strikes a perfect balance of fruit and minerality which results in a zesty, refreshing wine awash in red berries, flowers, tangerine zest, and tart cranberries. This is the perfect sparkler to ring in the new year with. Tim Gagnon
Amphibolite - a metamorphic stone generally formed from gabbro or basalt, with a high concentration of iron and magnesium, prevalent in the vineyard, over a bedrock of gneiss. The wine from this vineyard is low in alcohol (normally about 11 - 12%) and high in acidity and mineral salts. Bottled after 4 months sur-lie aging and retaining a bit of CO2 from the fermentation, the Cuvée Amphibolite is refreshing, stimulating and a perfect complement to shellfish and light seafood dishes. Despite another difficult year for the vines, Jo Landron made a superb, scintillating Cuvée Amphibolite in 2017! The wine shows fresh aromas of dried pear, lemon zest, lime-flower, wet stone, fines herbes , almond and white pepper. The palate is vibrant and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruit and stone flavors with surprising density for a light-bodied wine at 12% alcohol. Terrific length with citrus, pear and mineral salts in the finish. Pair with oysters and other shellfish, grilled fish, chicken dishes and goat cheeses - or just sip by itself on a hot day. David Lillie
A good candidate for aging, this is Luneau-Papin's only cuvee on a granite subsoil (granit a deux micas) having a different character than the granite soils in Clisson or Château Thébaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2016 would be perfect today with a filet of sole. The wine shows elegant aromas of salt air, almond, pear, melon and lemon peel. The palate is very mineral and silky with pear, stone, bitter lemon - a bit austere, finishing with earth, mineral and citrus notes. A beautiful wine of terroir - serve with oysters and grilled fish, céviche of scallops - hold for five years then drink with lobster and fish in sauce, drink till 2038. David Lillie
The Moussamoussettes is back! A Chambers Street favorite, this years rendition is a blend of Grolleau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet. Flavorful and vibrant, pulsing with ripe red berry fruit, yet still totally dry. A rejuvenating Pet-Nat from our friend Agnes and René Mosse.
(First produced in 1988, this great Muscadet is made from a three hectare parcel of old massale-selection vines (all over 60 years old, with a high percentage much older) on a slope above the Maine. The bedrock is Granite de Château Thébaud, a fissured rock that allows the vines to penetrate deeply, with ideal thin topsoils of clay, with sand and gravel allowing good drainage.) The warm winter and early spring of 2017 in much of France brought early development to the vines, followed by a hard freeze at the end of April that killed the developing leaves and grapes. Losses were high in many parts of France, especially in the Loire Valley, and hot, dry summer weather further lessened the yields. Fortunately the quality of the resulting wines, is frequently outstanding as is the case with the superb 2017 Domaine de la Pépière "Briords." The harvest started two weeks early, on the 29th of August, bringing in ripe grapes with a lovely balance of maturity and acidity. The aromas are classic Briords, with white fruits, citrus rind, almond and stone with hints of white pepper and anise. The palate shows nice ripeness and density, a bit closed, with wet stone and citrus and very firm acidity underlying the tart white fruits. This is a tight and classy Briords that will need a decant if drinking young, preferably wait three to five years and drink until 2035(?). David Lillie
"The 2017 "La Pépie" comes mainly from the central 10-hectare vineyard of the estate on sandy, granite-based soils, with a small amount of purchased fruit from neighbors due to the very low yields, again, in 2017. Farming is organic and harvesting is by hand, as for all of the estate vines. The fruit is direct-pressed and the juice settled naturally for 12 hours. It is then fermented in stainless steel tanks with natural yeasts; the wine is aged on its lees in large, underground vats until bottling without fining or filtering. Use of sulfur is moderate to very little. For the Sur Lie bottling, Pépière bottles and releases it in several stages, so the first tranche sees about 4 months on the lees before release, increasing up to 6-8 months for the last tranche." (David Bowler Wines) The 2017 "La Pépie" shows a very pale gold color and bright aromas of dried pear, quince, fines herbes, grapefruit and stone. The palate is light and refreshing with wet stone, pear, tart citrus, almond and mineral flavors. The finish is long and clean with citrus, a hint of anise and saline minerals. This is a light, bright and refreshing Muscadet that will be perfect with oysters, grilled fish, roast chicken, Asian foods and mild goat cheeses. Thanks to Marc, Gwénaëlle and Rémi for another delicious "Pépie!"
We're exstatic to have this superb new Muscadet from Pépière. The product of an exchange of juice with Fred Lailler at Domaine Bregeon (pressed at Bregeon), the wine underwent a slower fermentation than at Bregeon, and was then aged 42 months on the lees. From Juliette Pope of David Bowler Wines "We tasted the 2014 Gorges out of vat, along with everything else, last January (2018) with Marc and Rémi, and it blew me away. Marc waxed quite poetically, declaring it his favorite of his bottlings right now, along with the Château-Thébaud." Bregeon's vines on Gabbro with clay topsoils (in conversion to organic) always give an austere yet dense and beautifully structured wine, with unique aromas showing almond and petrol notes in addition to citrus, stone and white fruits. Although vibrant and delicious now, we would recommend waiting for eight to ten years before opening for peak enjoyment.
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
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
François and Julien Pinon make some of the finest sparkling wines in the Loire Valley. The superb Brut Non-Dosé comes from 45 year-old Chenin Blanc vines on Turonien limestone with topsoils of clay with silex. The fermentation lasts 4 to 6 weeks without added yeast or sugar. 2012 is a beautiful year for this wine as the bright fruit and firm acidity of the vintage contribute to the elegance and structure of this cuvée. The wine shows aromas of creamy lemon, pear, brioche, fines herbes and stone, with pear, green apple. mineral, herbal and bitter lemon flavors on the palate. The mousse is fine and refreshing and there is fabulous length of dried herbs, citrus pear and stone flavors on the finish. This very young wine will develop nicely in the glass and will cellar beautifully for twenty years or more - a few years ago we tasted a 1976 that was sensational. David Lillie
50% Cot and 50% Grolleau, organically farmed in Vouvray by Julien and François Pinon. This is an elegant and very delicious Pet Nat that will accompany just about anything and is delightful as an aperitif by itself. The aromas are quite pretty with ripe raspberry and red currant with hints of rose and blood orange. The palate is fresh and creamy with raspberry and tart strawberry with a nice mineral kick and sappy fruit in the refreshing finish. Grab this before it's gone... David Lillie
From 25 - 30 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. Sébastien Cornille has quickly become one of the finest producers of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc on his 7 hectare estate in the Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières. The 2015 Jasnières "Clos es Molières" is an astonshing dry Chenin showing a bright pale gold color and subtle aromas of pear, dried herbs, almond, citrus and white pepper. The palate is dense but crystalline and intensly mineral with white fruits, almond, citrus and stone flavors that continue in the scintillating finish. Serve now with an elegant shellfish or fish preparation or hold for ten to fifiteen years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. Beautiful wine! David Lillie
(On Sale through June 9th Was $19.99) This is an extremely dry and bright Chenin Blanc from Sébastien Cornille at Domaine de la Roche Bleue, from 30 year-old vines on slopes and terraces of clay and silex over limestone in the Coteaux du Loir, certified organic farming with biodynamic methods. The wine shows subtle, high-toned aromas of citrus, stone, pear, almond and fines herbes. The palate is lean and bright with dried pear, citrus and mineral notes with very firm acidity. Warning - this is a vibrant, high-acid Chenin! Serve with oysters, grilled fish and goat cheeses or cellar for ten to fifteen years. David Lillie
100% Chenin Blanc, from 10 - 25 year-old vines on a slope of clay/silex soils on limestone, certified organic. Slow pressing of whole clusters; long fermentations, most in 4 to 6 year-old barriques, the younger vines in cuve inox; elevage in 6 year-old barrels. More austere than the 2015 vintage, the 2016 Jasnières Sec from Sébastien Cornille is now opening up nicely, showing intriguing aromas of dried pear, pineapple, lime-flower, honey and stone. The palate is lean and mineral with citrus, dried apple and pear, wet stone and fines herbes. The finish is bone dry, mineral and long with firm acidity. Serve this scintillating Chenin Blanc with oysters, grilled and fried seafood, white meats and goat cheeses. Cellaring of five to ten years will reval a locely mature wine... David Lillie
Sebastien Cornille's lovely "Guinguette" is made from a blend of 80% Pineau d’Aunis and 20% Gamay sourced from 30+-year-old vines in biodynamic farming. It undergoes semi-carbonic maceration for 20 days in tank before the Pineau d’Aunis is pressed off to be aged in neutral barrique and the Gamay in tank. The 2017 Guinguette is a superb "vin de soif" offering bright aromas of peppery raspberry, cranberry, tart cherry and violets. The palate shows light but sappy raspberry, plum and red currant fruit with hints of grapefruit, clove and wet stone. The finish is tart and refreshing. Serve this lovely wine slightly chilled with charcuterie, of course, grilled pork and lamb, bluefish (?) and mild cow 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.
This is a lovely Chenin Blanc from our organic friends at La Source du Ruault. Ripe but subtle aromas of pear, apple, citrus, lime-flower, hay and earth lead to the palate which is very mineral, with ripe lemony white fruits, almond, stone and herbal flavors and a very long intense chalky finish. A beautiful and very young Chenin that is scintillating and delicious now, best after a few days open or ten years in the cellar. Highly recommended! David Lillie
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
"La Porte Dorée" is from 40 to 90 year-old Romorantin vines grown on clay soils with limestone bedrock. The juice undergoes a long, slow alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, and the wine ages in old foudres and barriques. Minimal SO2 is added before bottling. The 2015 "Porte Dorée" shows complex aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, white pepper, almond and caramel, with a very slight oxidative character. The palate shows ripe pear, quince, citrus, almond and intense stony flavors that coat the mouth and are very dense and long. This is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or 3 to 10 years of cellaring. Serve now with fish or chicken in a cream sauce and with a wide variety of full-flavored cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
Philippe Tessier, veritable master of Romorantin in Cour-Cheverny, presents this rosé from Pineau D'Aunis, an equally rare and elusive grape from the Loire Valley. It's delicate and mineral with a very pretty lightly floral nose (rose-water, orange blossom). A perfect accompaniment to the final months of summer. EL
Domaine Vacheron is one of the few organic and Biodynamic estates in Sancerre. The 2017 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 more ripeness than the 2016. The palate is silky and crisp, showing stone and mineral flavors that underly white fruits, citrus peel, almond and mineral flavors, leading to a very clean, long 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.
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
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 a lovely Pinot Noir, a bit rounder and riper that previous vintages - the 2017 shows aromas of ripe black cherry, earth, roast meat and violets. The palate is bright but lush with ripe raspberry and cherry fruit, earth and mineral flavors with ripe, sappy fruit in the finish. It's a great value in Red Burgundy - serve cool with chicken and pork dishes, mild cow cheeses. Decant if possible or hold two to five years. David Lillie
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes has made a superb Macon Rouge in 2016, from organic grapes, and vinified without SO2. The wine shows a quite dense black/red color with aromas of ripe blackberry, candied cherry, violet, citrus and white pepper. The palate is dense but balanced and sapid with blackberry and cherry fruit lifted by firm acidity. The finish is very long with saline minerals and berry fruits and refreshing acidity. This is a somewhat intense but beautiful and complex Gamay that will be superb with grilled foods this summer and should develop nicely over the next few years. 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. The 2016 Cuvée 910 was a bit awkward on arrival last winter, but has settled down to sing it's light and lovely song. The wine is showing a light red/garnet color. There's a bit of reduction then lovely raspberry and wild strawberry aromas with hints of citrus, spice and rose. The palate shows subtle cherry and raspberry fruit with floral, stone and citrus flavors. The finish is long, sapid and intriguing with bright berry fruits, earth and saline notes - quite lovely and a good match with fish in sauce, white meats, charcuterie, mild cow cheeses. NO added SO2, best consumed the day opened. David 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
The Vignes du Maynes "Cuvée Auguste" is a superb Burgundy made from massale selection Pinot Fin planted in 1964. The parcel, high on the slope in Cruzille, is on Bathonian limestone with a great deal of calcium carbonate crystal (aragonite) with thin topsoils of clay and silica. Yields of 20 hl/ha, semi-carbonic and normal alcoholic fermentations, with zero additives, bottled under nitrogen. Yields were quite low in 2016, but as with much of Burgundy, the 2016 Cuvee Auguste is a classic, well structured wine that should age beautifully. The wine shows beautiful aromas of tart cherry, rose, earth, orange peel and spice. The palate is dense and earthy with a core of deep berry fruit, silky and elegant with notes of citrus, licorice and roast meat. The finish is long and sapid with chalky minerals, citrus, spice and berry fruits. This is a gorgeous living wine - decant a few hours if drinking now or cellar five to ten years or more. A very small quantity is available of this rare and beautiful wine. David Lillie
If you'll forgive, the flight of fancy, Savoie whites tug at the heartstrings. A snowmelt swollen mountain stream overflowing its banks and washing thru a meadow of wildflowers fresh. Shimmering afternoon sunlight thru leaves, a suspicion of a breeze, Springtime in the glass! John McIlwain
A reserved 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. The 2017 has a coppery, salmon-colored robe. The nose, initially backward, offers an array of stone fruit and savoy herb notes, with garrigue and ripe peach aromas vying for attention with time in the decanter. The palate offers peach skin, orange oil, and earthy flavors leading to a long, persistent, sapid finish. This is newly arrived and should take a month or two to unwind. Better with a decant or a day open. (Happily, in mid-August the young Bastide Blanche has opened up and is beggining to sing it's complex and beautiful song of Bandol - drink now and over the next three years.)
This is a white blend, marrying Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), and Bourbelenc. It's medium - full bodied for a white, with notes of apple compote and baking spice. A prime candidate for wine drinkers who typically prefer reds, and truly a unique expression of the region's diverse grape varieties. Eben Lillie
"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
"QV d'Etoiles" is 100% Chardonnay from 35-year-old vines planted in the fossilized "star" scattered soils of the l'Étoile AOC. This appellation is famous for it's incredibly long-lived oxidative wines and vin jaune, but this bottling is made in a topped-up (ouillee) style, making this one of the more fascinating cuvées from Ludwig "Lulu" Bindernagel. The aromas are heady with vivid notes of comté and toasted walnuts. Even though the nose hints at oxidative flavors, the body is energetic with fine minerality, bright lemon zest and a persistent salty finish. Only 900 bottles of this vintage were made so we are excited that it's still around to enjoy with some bottle age. Amanda Bowman
Each year the Andrieu family chooses the best grapes of the vintage for their Cuvée Courtiol. In 2015 it's predominantly Mourvedre from bush-trained, 30 year-old vines grown on beautiful schist vineyards in Faugères. The grapes are hand-harvested into small crates, and as always, the fermentation is long and slow with indigenous yeasts then bottled with no fining, filtration or added SO2. Deep red/black color in the glass, like the "Tradition" the 2015 has less "sauvage" aromas than past vintages. Elegant notes of plum, cherry liqueur, violets and roasted herbs develop on the nose as the wine aerates. The palate shows dense blackberry fruit with hints of tart cherry, anise seed and bitter chocolate framed by firm, earthy tannins. This is a beautiful natural wine that the Andrieu family recommends holding for 5-10 years or decant two hours before drinking if you don't want to wait! Amanda Bowman
While we’ve always loved Clos Fantine due to their impeccable farming, thoughtful cellar work, and the wines’ wild soulfulness, we’re especially enamored by the juicy and pure 2016 Tradition. This cuvée is a harmonious blend of de-stemmed Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache vinified separately in large vats with indigenous yeasts, then assembled and aged in cement before bottling with no sulfur. Slightly more polished than previous vintages, this year is singing, with a nose that is bursting with aromas of wood smoke, baked red apple skins, citrus and garrigue. The wine shows a deep purple in the glass. The palate is lifted by cool minerality and structured with powdery tannins with flavors of juicy plum, cinnamon spice and dried herbs on the finish. This is a satisfying wine that would pair beautifully with grilled sausages and wild rice. Amanda Bowman
"Valcabrières" is made from ancient white grapes native to the Languedoc called Terret Blanc and Terret Gris. The vines are planted gobelet style (bush vines) in horizontal black schist and are around 100 years old. The big bunches are resistant to disease and thrive in the windy and warm climate of Faugères. All of Clos Fantine's wines are vinified in large vats with ambient yeasts, which means that fermentation times will vary each year. For example, the 2016 vintage finished at the same time as the 2017, so the two vintages were blended together and bottled without SO2. The robe is a hazy lemon drop color in the glass. The nose offers tangy grapefruit peel aromas with faint notes of ripe melon, dried herbs and stone. The mid-weight palate is etched with salty minerals, bright acidity, tropical melon, and savory leesy notes on the finish. We enjoyed this with a plate of fried chicken recently, but it pairs nicely with summer vegetables and goat cheeses too. Best served chilled and consumed the same day it's opened. Amanda Bowman
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
100% Braucol from a parcel planted in soils rich with clay, limestone and gravel, which Stéphane Lucas pressed after 12 days of maceration, fermented with native yeasts, and aged for 10 months in stainless steel tanks with minimal added sulfur. If you enjoy Cabernet Franc from the Loire, then you might enjoy this Braucol for its fresh bramble fruit flavors, earthiness, and mineral structure without all the weight. Highly recommend with a slight chill. This should be perfect alongside goat cheese, sausages, or hearty lentils. Amanda Bowman
As the story goes, Abouriou was discovered growing on the walls of ruined castle in the South-West of France in the mid-1800s. It's cultivated in small amounts in the Cotes du Marmadais appellation, not far from Bordeaux. Either a grandparent or half-sibling of both Merlot and Cot (Malbec), it's a darker skinned variety, with gamey flavor and a touch of spice. We love this expression from Elian da Ros, who is admittedly more famous than the appellation he calls home. It's medium bodied, not over-extracted, and a nice introduction to a very rare cepage.
Roi des Lézards is all Carignan, from vines ranging from 35 - 75 years, aged in a combination of 1500 L Austrian Stockinger barrels, and 500 L used barrels. This is a significant bottle of Carignan, offering dark, purple fruit and good grip. The famous French term "garrigue" immediately comes to mind, even from smelling the wine. Used to describe the aromas typical of the shrubs and fauna of the Mediterranean, such as Thyme, Rosemary and Lavender, one couldn't find a better descriptor for the flavor profile of this wine. This vintage is a touch lighter and more balanced than the '13 so it could be enjoyed on it's own, but will likely be best on the dinner table with grilled meats and veggies, or other hearty fare. Eben Lillie
From 85 year old vines of Grenache gris and Grenache blanc, with a small amount of Maccabeu from a 75 year old parcel. Fermented and aged for 9 months in Austrian oak vat (12 hl Stockinger) and smaller used barrels. This is a really fascinating white that has been creating quite a little buzz here at Chambers St. Notes of lemon curd, marzipan and herbs, envoloping in mouth...with mineral cut in the finish, and a touch of spice that lingers after each sip. A must for fans of interesting and unique white wines. Eben Lillie
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 - in this case the Tracteur Rouge, a light, refreshing blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The wine shows a lovely bright red color and pretty aromas of strawberry, raspberry and tart cherry with hints of violet, earth and spice. The palate is bright and slightly peppery showing strawberry and red currant fruit with a nice lift of earth and citrus in the finish. It's lovely, served quite cool, with charcuterie, burgers, chicken and cheeses from Comté to Raclette. David Lillie Quick facts: in the 70s, the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine) wanted to study conventional grapes, so they planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Gamay in the region. Thomas has gone about recuperating some of these vineyards, and uses the fruit for the fabulous Tracteur rouge! 35 gamay/35 pinot/20 merlot/10 cab -Eben Lillie
Thomas Finot has made a beautiful 2015 Persan, from a blend of old vines planted by vigneron Daniel Zegna and young vines planted by the Finots, all massale selection. The warm days and very cool nights in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan, Isère, produced a gorgeous wine with deep black/red color and aromas of blackberry liqueur, graphite and roast meat with hints of rose and pepper. The palate is sapid and dense with meaty blackberry and red currant fruit, with pepper, licorice, mint and herbal notes. The finish is long with elegant texture and ripe, earthy berry fruits that linger on the palate. This would be lovely with a piece of Charolais beef, and aging of ten to fifteen years should be interesting. Bravo to Thomas Finot - for this unique wine and for his project of replanting and resurrecting vineyards in Isère! -David Lillie Extra note: I spoke to Thomas about my favorite Persan, from Nicolas Gonin, and asked what differences he saw. He's also a big fan of Gonin's wines, and explained that the difference most likely comes down to 'elevage' (or ageing.. i.e. how they bring up the wine). Finot chooses a long aging, whereas Gonin's elevage is shorter, so there's less structure and a bit more freshness of fruit. I really enjoy both styles, so I can now officially say I have TWO favorite Persans! - 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
Isabelle and Franck Pascal make this beautiful natural wine from Cabernet and Merlot grown on their Biodynamic estate near Felines, in Bergerac. The wine is aged sur-lie 12 months in barrel, and is bottled without filtration or added sulfur.The 2015 vintage has a dark robe. The nose displays the generosity of the vintage with aromas of ripe blackberries, black currants, and Italian plums with hints of cedar and graphite. The palate is rich, ripe, and deft with a good tension between the beautiful fruit and deep earth notes on a long, persistent, lifted finish. Fabulous with a grilled hanger steak, better still with magret of duck and strong cheeses. This is a tremendous value and should improve over 5-8 years. Delicious! John McIlwain
The 2015 Pure "T" is another beautiful natural wine from Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carles at Jonc Blanc! Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on shallow soils over limestone ("Calcaire de Castillon"), two year elevage in 18 hl Stockinger foudres, bottled without fining or filtration and with zero added SO2. The wine shows a very deep black/purple color with lush, vibrant aromas of cassis and blackberry with brown spice citrus, violet and black pepper. The palate is supple and rich but with bright acidity, showing ripe cassis fruit, with earth, coffee, cocoa and sappy fruit liqueur. The finish is lush, complex and long. This is a superb natural Cabernet, a joyful wine to serve slightly cool with grilled foods, stews and charcuterie, or just to sip by itself late at night with a good book.... Highly recommended. David 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 near Bergerac. No SO2 is used except a tiny addition before bottling. The 2016 Les Sens du Fruit shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, spiced pear, melon, almond and honeyed citrus. The palate is round and ripe with stone and earthy flavors underlying ripe pear and creamy lemon fruit and is backed by firm acidity. The finish is long, ripe and refreshing. This is a complex and delicious natural wine that will shine with shellfish, a platter of cheeses or a fish or chicken in sauce, just delicous! David Lillie
A beautiful natural wine from Isabelle and Franck Pascal at Jonc Blanc. Always a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, raised in large 1500L barrels. The 2016 is super aromatic, with cocoa and earth on the nose, a deep purple hue in the glass with rich silky blackberry fruit. For anyone who is searching for natural wines but prefers to drink Cabs, Malbecs and the like, this is the wine for you! Biodynamic farming, no sulfur added... it's a natural wine through and through (yes not every natural wine is 11% alc. carbonic Gamay!). Just fresh enough to drink on it's own, this will be a knockout with a light chill and paired with grilled food this summer. Eben Lillie
The vineyards of Jonc Blanc were hit by a devastating freeze in April of 2017. From parcels that were 100% lost, the tiny secondary berries were harvested to make this amazing sparkling rosé! Yields were 6.5 hl/ha at 11% alcohol; bottled at 25 grams of RS per liter, it has turned into a beautiful and complex Bulles Rosé. The wine shows intriguing aromas of wild strawberry, tart cherry, rose, orange peel and brioche. The palate is creamy, light and pretty with tart cherry, rose-water, citrus and melon with a soft, refreshing finsh...could I have another glass? DL
Syrah and Carignan blend with no SO2 added. Vibrant and lifted, with subtle tannin. (On Sale through June 9th Was $17.99)
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 delightful wine from our new friends Meryl and Géraldine at "La Vrille et le Papillon" was imported for Chambers Street. We're pleased to see that it was the highest-ranked choice in the New York Times Thanksgiving wines article!! It's a light and lovely Viognier from the Ardeche that shows bright floral aromas of lemon, lime-flower, peach, mint and stone, really quite pretty. There is a bit of petillance on the palate with creamy citrus, peach, apricot and hay. Light and refreshing, with citrus, stone and yeasty flavors in the finish, this is a delightful and food-friendly wine!
We're happy to have another vintage of this delicious Merlot from Meyrl and Géraldine Crozier in the Ardeche - in the hills just west of the Rhône river, near Montelimar. The 2016 Chapeau Melon shows a dense black/garnet color and aromas of ripe blackberry and cassis, with floral and earthy notes. The palate is dense but not heavy with bright blackberry, cherry and cassis fruit backed by firm acidity and with flavors of soil and stone. This is a lovely natural Merlot of terroir that will be a great pairing with grilled foods this summer. Serve cool - it's a great value and is made with little or no SO2 for those who want to avoid additives in their wine...
Z Blanc is 100% Viognier grown by Géraldine and Meryl Crozier at La Vrille et le Papillon in the Ardeche. This is a lovely natural Viognier that shows a slightly cloudy pale gold color and a bit of reduction when first opened, then lovely very floral aromas of lime-flower, lemon, earth and pear. The palate is light and pretty with citrus, herbal and pear flavors; the finish is refreshing and long with white fruits and minerals. Organic farming, unfiltered and bottled with minimal SO2. David Lillie
Geraldine and her brother Meryl Crozier have a lovely estate situated just west of the Rhone river in Ardeche. The "Z" Rouge is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Merlot and shows wild rose and black fruit aromas with wafts of gravel, earth, and blood orange. The palate is light but complex and supple with dense plum and cool blackberry fruits, anise and earth that linger on the long finish. An excellent natural wine that is perfect with a slight chill and served with just about anything right off the grill. Amanda Bowman
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is made from equal parts Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and a small addition of Macabeu. Each parcel is hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented separately with native yeasts and raised in used demi-muid. This superlative cuvée is a fascinating showcase of the Roussillon's mighty terrior. The acidic soils of decomposed granite give this wine excellent mineral tension that deepens with time in bottle. Aromas are intricately woven with notes of bright lemon oil, verbena, sage, and salty seashells. The palate is supple and round with generous flavors of pear, white flowers, thyme, and almond framed by pure mineral acidity. This is a fantastic wine that is delicouis now but will develop a beautiful honeyed texture and rich flavors after 5-10 years in bottle. Eric recommends pairing this with sardines on toast, goat cheeses, and roasted chicken. Amanda Bowman
"Eos Blanc" is a rewarding discovery for anyone seeking an intriguing wine of terrioir at an affordable price. Eric Laguerre's vineyards are planted at high-altitude in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet, where the acidic soils are composed of gneiss and broken-down granite with some pockets of quartz. This composition forms a sturdy backbone of dense minerality and abundant freshness to this "entry-level" cuvée -- a testament to Eric's excellent farming. The 2017 is made from direct press juice, aged in neutral demi-muid for about eight months with minimal added S02 before bottling. The wine shows pale gold in the glass and immediately charms with bright citrus aromas that evolve into notes of ripe pear, hazelnut, garrigue, and warm apricot skins on the palate. This was the first vintage that the Laguerres harvested in August due to the extreme heat in 2017. Despite this, the wine drinks pure and fresh with an invigorating mineral acidity that lingers on the herbal finish. A fantastic every day wine with potential to age 3-5 years, though we're happily drinking this now with or without salad and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is a layered blend of de-stemmed and whole cluster Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre from soils of decomposed granite and gneiss. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented separately and aged for 12 months in barrel, then assembled in fiber tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. This vintage is evocative of the 2014 with softer, finer tannins compared to the robust 2015. The aromas are complex and redolent of savory herbs (thyme, garrigue), game, black peppercorn, blood orange, and dark chocolate. The palate is balanced with mouth-coating, powdery tannins, dried herbs, black pepper, and an energetic, long mineral finish from the granite soils. Best served with a slight chill alongside grilled meat, charcuterie, cheese, or veggies roasted with Moroccan spices. This is drinking well now, but should be even better in 5-8 years. Amanda Bowman
"Le Passage" is a hardy blend of 65% Syrah (de-stemmed) and 35% Carignan from Eric Laguerre's highest parcel (1,700 feet), on soils of decomposed granite. The grapes are pressed into fiber tank for fermentation with native yeasts, then aged in concrete with minimal added SO2. This cuvee is fuller-bodied than his "EOS Rouge," with the high-quality of his low-yielding Carignan on full display. The robe shows a deep purple in the glass with enticing aromas of lavender, blood orange, and plum aromas. The dense palate has a silky texture with supple, bitter cocoa tannins. The flavors of blackberry, stone, and plum finish with a fresh citrus acidity that is especially delicious when served with a chill. Drink now or save for 2-3 years for a more mature experience. Amanda Bowman
Eric Laguerre's "Eos Rouge" is an elegant blend of 80% Grenache from 40-year-old gobelet-trained vines, with some Carignan and Syrah from soils of decomposed granite, gneiss, and some veins of quartz. Like "Le Passage," the grapes are fermented in fiber tanks with native yeasts for about two weeks, then aged in concrete. The 2017 is strikingly pure-fruited, with vibrant strawberry and red cherry aromas underpinned by earthy spice, red-currant, and bitter chocolate notes. The peppery tannins and mineral acidity from the high mountain clime form its exquisite structure (Eric says that after 2 years in bottle, you might think it's Pinot Noir). This is a balanced wine that should pair wonderfully with grilled sausages, lentils, or goat cheeses. Open an hour before serving if drinking now, or hold for up to 10 years. Amanda Bowman
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!
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 2017 is a beautiful wine, lighter and brighter than the 2016 in style. The wine shows a lovely pale pink/salmon color with elegant aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, peach and rose with hints of spice. The palate shows creamy raspberry, peach and red currant fruit with citrus peel and mineral flavors. The finish is long and refreshing with berry fruits, citrus and firm acidity, just lovely. This wine will gain complexity over the next six months and will drink beautifully through 2019. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
Primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet, this biodynamic red from Provence shows deep plum and blackberry fruit aromas with earth, citrus and Provençal herbs. The palate is ripe and supple with dense black fruits, prune and brown spice lifted by bright acidity. In some vintages this wine can be a bit austere and tannic when young, but the 2014 is bursting with fruit and absolutely delicious for current drinking. Serve with grilled meats and stews, a daube niçoise perhaps, and full-flavored cheeses. Great value!
The Cuvée Aubigue Blanc from Les Fouques is made from 80% Rolle (Vermentino) with 10% Clairette and 10% Ugni Blanc. It's a delicious, full-flavored Provençal white with complex aromas of apple and pear liqueur and hints of dried flowers, almond and herbs. The palate is round and ripe with white fruits, candied citrus and dense mineral and stone flavors with good acidity. A great aperitf or accompaniment to full-flavored fish dishes and asian foods. Certified biodynamic (Demeter), wild-yeast fermentation. (The wine received a well-deserved gold medal at the 2017 Concours des Vignerons Independants)
This is one of our favorite Rosés every year - the 2017 Cuvée de l'Aubigue is a sensational wine and a fabulous value! Made from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino grown on soils of clay and schist near Hyères in Provence. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Lovely light salmon color. The nose carries beautiful aromas of delicate strawberry and white peach, along with nectarine, pink grapefruit, and white blossom. The palate on the 2017 is slightly denser and juicier than the 2016, but it is still framed by good acidity and a hint of minerality, making this a crisp and delicious everyday summer rosé. Oskar Kostecki
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
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
"Les Normins" (topped-up Chardonnay) is a new cuvée for us and a most welcome addition. From 75-year-old vines planted in white marl under limestone in the Fromont's first holdings in Cesancey. After a direct press, they allow spontaneous fermentation, then age the wine for 23 months in neutral oak barrel with minimal added sulfur. The wine is a golden hay color in the glass and offers heady aromas of white flowers, honeycomb, walnut and zesty lemon curd. The body has a waxy texture with powdery minerals and crackling acidity. At 14% ABV it is high in alcohol, but deceptively so (until you stand up!). The flavors are hedonistic with classic notes of Comté and, surprisingly, ripe red fruits. This is a powerful wine that should age well for years to come. Amanda Bowman
"En Quartre Vis" (topped-up Chardonnay) is sourced from a few different parcels, all of them vinified separately in neutral barrel then blended together in stainless steel tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. The robe is a cheerful lemon color in the glass and offers vivid aromas of clementine, fresh mint, honey, and crisp apple skins. The body is light and nervy with taut acidity beneath layers of tangy citrus and salted melon on the long finish. The flavors continued to evolve on the second day; this wine should shine in 3 years. Amanda Bowman
"Les Molates" is a bright and honeyed, topped-up Chardonnay that comes from the Fromont's younger vines (around 35-years-old) planted in red marl under limestone in Sainte-Agnès. After a direct press, the wine is allowed to ferment spontaneously, and is then aged in neutral oak for 18 months before bottling with minimal added sulfur. The robe is a golden straw color in the glass and the aromas offer a sweet vernal freshness with notes of white flower, beeswax, lemon meringue, and chamomile. On the palate, the body is leaner than past vintages with delicate citrus acidity carrying notes of ripe yellow apple over a pleasing, salty mineral finish. Amanda Bowman
Le Blanc is the only white Coutelou made in 2016 and it is the first of his whites we've carried at Chambers Street. This is a fresh and summery blend of 40% Macabeu, 30% Grenache Gris, 20% Clairette, 10% Muscat à Petits Grains from parcels planted near the seaside. Lifted floral aromas, lemon pith, and pleasantly leesy notes mingle with tangy ripe fruits. The palate is full and round from the Macabeau but there is an energetic freshness from the Clairette to buoy the rich stonefruit flavors. The finish is refreshing with a lingering note of bitter almond. This is a bottle we'll be happy to revisit all summer long. Amanda Bowman
Thierry Navarre's touchstone "Laouzil" is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah from old vines planted on brown schist ("Laouzil" in the local dialect) soils in the rugged mountains of Roquebrun (Saint-Chinian). The grapes are de-stemmed and aged in neutral barrel before bottling with minimal sulfur. The robe is a lovely red/black in the glass. The wine shows seductive aromas of spiced plums, dried rosemary, and deeper notes of coffee and dry earth. The rich palate is bursting with black fruit flavors, peppercorn, and savory herbs with a structured texture of dense minerals and bright acidity on the long, persistent finish. This is a fascinating wine of terroir that Thierry says will be perfect in 5 years (though it is delicious now). Amanda Bowman
An almost extinct grape grown in the Languedoc, in southern France, Ribeyrenc has been preserved mostly due to the work of Thierry Navarre and his father before him. It’s thin-skinned and yields a fresh and vibrant red wine that could easily pass for a dark rosé. Fresh, floral, and unlike anything else! EL
Thierry Navarre is one of the few people who still grow Oeillades - a nearly extinct grape that has a long history in the Langudedoc and is thought to be an old cousin of Cinsault. Thierry's Oeillades grows on the rugged mountainsides above Roquebrun in Saint-Chinian. The 2017 shows a beautiful wild strawberry and purple-tinged color in the glass. The nose offers abundant strawberry and orange aromas with delicate notes of lavender, cardamom and dried rose petals. The palate is light and wonderfully lifted with flavors of ripe strawberry, herbal tea, and refreshing exotic citrus on the finish. A balanced rosé with plenty of aromatic complexity and crunchy acidity to pair with a variety of dishes. We recently enjoyed this with Mediterranean-inspired fried food - a highly recommended pairing! Amanda Bowman
Lledoner Pelut is a relatively unknown variety, related to Grenache (and known as Garnacha Peluda in Spain). Philippe Wies farms Lledoner Pelut and Grenache Noir in the Catalan hills of France, in a special part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region with soils of decomposed black schist. Philippe finds 2013 to be much like 2017, which was a warm year that didn't require long aging. The wine was ready after 8 months in large Alsatian barrels (Philippe is originally from Alsace) and was then moved to fiberglass tank for one month before bottling. Thanks to a very gentle vertical press (that Philippe built by hand), there is very little extraction here. It's 13.5%, with lovely finesse and a touch of funk. No SO2 added. (On Sale through June 9th Was $18.99) EL
Grenache from schist soil in Maury, nestled near the Pyrenees mountains. Loustics is from an arid north-facing parcel, and always has a nice freshness to it. The shist soils don a particular mineral aroma and finish to the wine, blending well with the natural tannin to give some rustic character to the wine. In the end, it's an easy drinking, gentle and a bit "sauvage" expression of Grenache. Drink with a slight chill. No SO2 added. (On Sale through June 9th Was $16.99)
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
"Les Brûlées" comes from Fabrice Dodane's vineyard planted on a hill rich with limestone near his cellar in Montigny. 2015 was the first vintage for this cuvée and Fabrice's first experiment with making white wine with zero added sulfur -- we think it's an applause-worthy success. The seductive aromas of smoky gun flint and yellow apple skins mingle with lightly oxidative notes of walnuts and comté. On the palate the wine is dense and textured with powerful mineral acidity that finishes with a lingering salty nuttiness. An expressive wine that is drinking now but should continue to evolve over the next decade. Amanda Bowman
This is a crisp and vibrant rose from the French island of Corsica. From 25-year-old vines of Niellucciu which (per J. Robinson) is a red grape native to Corsica and is genetically identical to Sangiovese. The vines are planted in schist and limestone soils and are farmed using strict organic and some biodynamic treatments. Thomas Santamaria meticulously selects the grapes for this rosé during his first pass through the vines that will later be used to to make his Patrimonio Rouge cuvée . Like all of his wines, he allows the rosé to ferment with native yeasts in stainless steel with minimal added sulphur. The wine shows a lovely light pink in the glass with fresh aromas of ripe strawberries, peach skins, red cherry and stone. The palate is light and thirst-quenching with crunchy acidity and flavors of tart cherry, stone fruit and a slight note of bitter herbs on the finish. This is a classic and refreshing Mediterranean rosé that should pair wonderfully with grilled vegetables or salad Niçoise. Amanda Bowman
Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Vermentino! Yep. that's right. And no sulfur added? And gulp-ably delicious, but with those bold flavors of Provence? Yes, please.
From clay/limestone soils in the Jura, south-west from Arbois. West exposition. Definitely deserving of a decant, this is a fantastic deal for a Chardonnay that has a real sense of place. (On Sale through June 9th, was $19.99)
This is a beautiful ouillé (topped up i.e. NOT oxidative) Savagnin from young winemaker Eric Thill in the Jura. Eric is originally from Alsace and finds Savagnin reminds him of Sylvaner a bit. I see the resemblance, as his Savagnin has nice stone fruit aromas, and impressive density on the palate. A real treat and a unique expression of the variety. (On Sale through June 9th, Was $23.99)
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.
An exceptional, terroir-driven Chardonnay from the heavy clay soils of Stéphane Tissot's Mailloche vineyard. The 2015 is wonderfully fresh and characteristically spicy with invigorating lemon citrus, smoky flint, salted almond skin and golden apple on the complex nose. The palate is powerful yet feels light on its feet with a firm backbone of spicy mineral acidity, flavors of orange citrus, nutmeg with bitter almond on the long finish. I recently enjoyed this with mushroom risotto but it should be fantastic with chicken and swiss cheeses as well. It would be interesting to revisit this wine in a few years. Amanda Bowman
2016 was a difficult year for red wine in the Jura, but you wouldn't know it by Tissot's Trousseau Singulier. Elegant, concentrated and fresh with fine tannins -- this is a masterful Trousseau from one of Jura's best. 80% of the grapes come from young vines of selection massale Trousseau from the famous Sous Curon site. The vines yield few but big bunches for a fruity character with snappy acidity. The remaining grapes come from older vines grown on Liassic clay. All de-stemmed and fermented for one month in open tank with a few gentle pump-overs, then aged in 600 L demi-muid. The nose offers pretty notes of wild strawberry, blood orange, and earthy spice. Polished tannins elevated by bright and cool brambly fruit flavors make this marvelous on its own or perfect for cheeses, charcuterie, mushrooms or poultry. Amanda Bowman
An abiding staff favorite from Stéphane Tissot's biodynamic estate in Arbois, this crémant is a blend of 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Poulsard and Trousseau. The interplay between the dry, mineral complexity and rich generosity make this an incredible Champagne-alternative. Opulent aromas of raw honey and baked red apple lead to flavors of tangy yellow fruit, crisp apple, toasted almond, and quince on the persistent finish. A versatile wine that keeps getting better every time we open a bottle (which is often). Amanda Bowman
Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignan, aged for six years or more in ancient barrels, bottled without fining or filtration. Jean-François Deu at Domaine du Traginer makes elegant, complex and beautifully balanced Banyuls at his organic and biodynamic estate. The 2008 Banyuls Grand Cru shows fabulous aromas of burnt orange, prune, lemon peel, rose, earth and aged cheese...for starters. Very deep and complex. The palate is ripe and a bit sweet, but refreshing and balanced by bright acidity with prune, red currant, rose and deep berry confit with citrus, brown spice and earth. Beautiful wine - great to sip by itself or serve with fruit desserts and chocolate. Highly recommended. DL
An outstanding and unusual white made by Jean-François Deu at the organic/biodynamic estate, Domaine du Traginer (Mule-driver) in Banyuls and Collioure. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Malvasia from low-yielding vines, on steep slopes of schistes above the Mediterranean.
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
Jean-Francois Deu makes beautiful wines on his biodynamic estate in Collioure, including this outstanding 2015 Rosé "Le Gourmand." The wine shows a pretty pink/orange color, with aromas of red currant and strawberry with hints of prune, orange peel, rose and spice. The palate is round and ripe with deep black cherry and strawberry liqueur, but nicely balanced by firm acidity and has beautiful length. Serve this full-bodied rosé with grilled chicken and pork or with an appetizer of olives, cheeses and charcuterie. Lovely wine! DL
Equal parts Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from the steep schist terraces of Banyuls-sur-Mer, this is a pure and concentrated expression of this dramatic coastal stretch of the Roussillon. Dark black red color. Lush aromas of blackberry, black plum, bitter chocolate, licorice, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense, ripe and supple with blackberry, strawberry compote, earth, licorice, ginger and spice, with cool citrus and red currant in the long finish. This is a beautiful Collioure that will accompany a steak, grilled meats, stews, grilled vegetables and tagines. Highly recommended. DL
The Traginer Banyuls Rimage (Vin Doux Naturel) at 17% alcohol is an insanely delicious wine as an apéritif or with deserts of chocolate or fruit (figs especially) and goat cheeses. The 2016 shows a deep black/red color and vivid aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, licorice, violets, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is ripe and lush with blackberry, citrus and cocoa, but very bright and refreshing as well, just delicious. It finishes with citrusy acids and black fruits that linger on the palate - serve cool and enjoy! DL
This superb wine is made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, aged for 15 years in small, very old barrels. Complex aromas of citrus, tea, prune, flowers and caramel. The palate is balanced, with a pretty melange of citrus, white fruits, earth and secondary flavors, very long and lifted by nice acidity. A gorgeous vin doux naturel that will accompany aged cheeses, figs and foie gras, and it's sensationally beautiful by itself. Really a unique and delicious wine. DL
Domaine Turenne produces beautiful wines in Provence through many years of organic farming, hand harvesting and wild yeast fermentations. The elegant rosé Cuvée Gravoches is made from 70% Mourvedre with 15% Grenache and 15% Cinsault, similar to the blend in nearby Bandol. The 2016 shows a lovely bight pink/orange color and aromas of tart raspberry, orange peel, peach and brown spice. The palate is supple and dense with mineral flavors underlying ripe berry and stone fruits - it's quite well-structured and very long, a young wine that will open nicely with aeration or with a few years of aging. A rosé of cuisine, serve with white meats, grilled pork with Provencal herbs, chicken in sauce, bouillabaisse, tagines and goat cheeses. David Lillie
The Domaine Turenne "Antoine" is an extraordinary Provençal white made with 50% Vermentino and 50% old vines of Petite Clairette du Var, dating from 1903! Organic farming, hand harvesting and wild yeast fermentations. Pale gold color with green hints; aromas of almond, pear, hay, lemon zest, verveine, anise...you get the idea. The palate is very mineral and dense, with firm acidity, showing anise, white fruit liqueur, stone and citrus, supple and long, really a lovely wine and a great value! This versatile wine will accompany shellfish and grilled fish, white meats, salads, goat cheeses and much more... David Lillie
Domaine Turenne, northeast of Bandol in Provence, produces this lovely rosé from 80% Cinsault, 10% Grenache and 10% Syrah, certified organic. The terroir is a unique bed of limestone and sandstone debris with sand/clay stones called "Gavroches" which bring a pronounced minerality and good drainage to the vines. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and the wine is bottled with minimal SO2. The 2017 "Camille" is a pretty, very pale pink/orange color with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, rose and citrus, with a hint of stone fruits as well. The palate is light and elegant with subtle berry fruits, a hint of citrus and stone, and has nice density and length. This is a light and lovely rosé for summer enjoyment, sipped by itself or with grilled fish, white meats, salade Niçoise and mild cheeses - and it's a fabulous value! David Lillie
This subtly structured Chardonnay is a fantastic introduction to the world of skin contact whites. Here, the skins are kept with the juice until fermentation is finished, at which point there is a press, and then aging. This is not actually a very long period of maceration, but it's enough to lend a faint orange hue to the wine and it's evident from the mouthfeel that the wine has some structure to it. When I first opened this wine, I was expecting the textural characteristics and the flavors I've associated with orange wines in the past, but I was surprised by how beautifully aromatic the wine was. I forgot about the orange wine bit, and just let the Chardonnay do the talking, with flowers, earth, spice, and orchard fruit all intermingling on the nose. Really a unique wine in the layers to the experience, and recommended for those who are curious about skin-contact whites (aka orange wines), but don't necessarily want to dive all the way in. Eben Lillie
A few years back, Luc and Marie at Zelige-Caravent decided to make a blanc de noirs from a healthy harvest of Cinsault grapes. They were happy with the wine and have continued to make it each year. There is no color here, save a subtle opacity to the wine. Lovely floral and spicy nose, full bodied for a white, and unlike anything else on the shelf! ... Side note: Marie hand paints every label with this wine, so each bottle is different! (On Sale, was $19.99)
The 2012 “Cuvée Millepertuis” from Christian and Nadia Charmasson at Balazu des Vaussieres is made from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, which undergoes an approximately two month carbonic maceration, followed by pressing and 3 years in vat (no wood). The wine shows a deep black/red color and complex earthy aromas of black cherry and blackberry from old-vine Grenache, with a cool, fresh aspect, a real product of living soils. The palate is complex and beautiful with dense black cherry, blackberry, earth, citrus, rose, cocoa and licorice with a long tart, earth and mineral finish. Anyone who appreciates natural wines should try this! Our thanks to Christian and Nadia for their beautiful work... David Lillie
The Balazu des Vaussieres 2013 Rouge “Dent de Lion” was made with Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache with 25% of Grenache Blanc and Clairette. No chemicals are used in the vines and no additives are used in the winemaking - a long carbonic maceration followed by pressing and three years in vat. Even though it was a root day when we visited last winter, the wine showed exuberant aromas of red currant, blackberry, plum, violet, spice, cocoa and orange peel, bringing a smile to our faces. The palate shows a cool, light aspect, a bit similar to the L'Anglore reds, with dense, brambly red currant and blackberry lifted by bright acidity and a bit of tannin, with spicy berry fruits lingering in the finish. This is a beautiful natural wine, serve cool and enjoy! David Lillie
The 2015 “Vin Libre” is predominantly Grenache Blanc and Clairette with Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Bourboulenc. A complex and elegant wine of the south, at 14% alcohol, the wine shows a deep gold/hay color with complex aromas of peach skin, dried flowers, lemon confit, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense and ripe with white peach and pear, citrus, mineral and earthy flavors. There is a bit of skin tannin and firm acidity in the very long finish. This is an extraordinary and soulful natural wine from the stony soils of Tavel and Roquemaure - perfect with bouillabaisse with aioli, monkfish in sauce and white meats, or just sip and contemplate. Highly recommended. On the label of the Blanc and Rosé is the Berber Flag from North Africa (Nadia’s heritage) with the symbol of the free man and three colors representing Berbers who lived by the sea, in the mountains and in the desert. David Lillie
The Barou family makes delicious wines, and grows cherries and apricots on their mixed-use organic estate in the hills around Saint-Joseph and Condrieu. Their 2016 "Rendez-Vous" is 100% Marsanne grown in granite soils. The grapes are 80% de-stemmed and then macerated on the skins for 10 to 12 hours. The fermentation is in barrels at low temperature followed by nine months of aging in 4 to 5 year-old barriques. The wine shows a pale gold color and pretty aromas of citrus, lime-flower, spiced pear, almond and hay. The palate shows nice freshness with ripe pear, quince, almond and citrus fruits supported by firm acidity, finishing with refreshing fruit and mineral flavors. This is a well-balanced and food friendly Marsanne that will pair with fish in sauce, Asian foods and chicken and pork dishes. It's a nice aperitif as well and a sensational value! David Lillie
Blonde is a wine that Andréa Calek has produced for many years now. At times it's been bubbly, other times still. This time around, it's a still wine, made from Viognier. There's a delicate lemony note on the palette, with some herbs (cloves and allspice), and nice density. There's a subtle funky quality that floats around, but never settles into an actual fault or flaw. All in all a very balanced and enjoyable expression of a oft-underappreciated grape. Eben Lillie
The Charvin Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé comes from a 1.5 hectare parcel planted to mostly Grenache and Cinsault. The grapes are grown organically and fermented with indigenous yeasts. The vines are planted on sandy soils with clay and galets roulés (the famous round rocks covering the soil of Chateauneuf-du-Pape) and are an average age of 40 years. The 2017 exhibits notes of strawberries and cream, raspberry and ripe peach. The fruit is balanced by a slight herbaceous character, a lingering mineral quality and steely texture. A perfect pairing for summer salads and days by the pool, yet I also wouldn't hesitate having this with some heartier fare: a tuna burger comes to mind. Oskar Kostecki
Clos de la Bonnette is a relatively new estate - their first vintage was 2009 - but they have great terroir in Condrieu (and a small parcel in Cote-Rotie) and are one of the few truly organic domaines in the AOC. The 2016 "Legende Bonnetta" is a superb Condrieu showing a pale gold/bronze color and subtle aromas of apricot, almond, peach, iris and stone, really quite lovely. The palate has a saline, mineral introduction, then elegant stone fruits, white flowers, citrus, almond and stone - quite rich but with firm acidity and a very mineral finishwith citrus and white fruits. This is a beautiful Condrieu that is all about the terroir rather than the winemaking or elevage. "It's the only Condrieu I can drink" says Eric Texier. Lovely now, better with 3 to 5 years of aging. David Lillie
Clos de la Bonnette is one of the few organic estates in Condrieu and Cote Rôtie. This lovely Syrah is from old vines on granite with clay soils in Tartaras, above Ampuis. A real wine of terroir, the 2016 VV shows very earthy aromas of black raspberry with violet and roast meat with cool mint and stone. The palate also shows a very earthy and mineral character with a lovely mix of black and blueberry fruit with hints of citrus. This junior Cote-Rôtie will be perfect with grilled lamb and pork and is light enough to pair well with roast chicken and vegetarian dishes.
This is a special red from Clos des Boutes, made from 100% Carignan. Medium bodied, with bright crushed berry fruit, and a touch of herbs/spice characteristic of Carignan. Served slighlty chilled, this is a lip-smacking and very fun wine to drink! Eben Lillie
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
2015 is a great vintage for Dany and Carole Chastan at the Clos du Joncuas, and their 2015 Esprit de Grenache is simply outstanding. Since 1900 the estate has been farmed organically and the winemaking here is completely traditional with whole-cluster fermentations and aging in old foudres. Tasted at the estate in January of 2017, the wine showed dense elegant black fruit aromas with licorice and earth. The palate is pure and long with deep blackberry flavors with olive, earth, citrus and bitter chocolate - just fantastic! As with all the 2015s here, the wine is delicious in its youthful fruit and intensity, but ten to fifteen years of aging will reveal a truly great southern Rhone Grenache. Very highly recommended! DL
70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered. The 2015 Seguret shows a very dark red/black color, with aromas of ripe cherry and strawberry liqueur, prune, earth, stone and provençal spices. The palate is quite dense and supple with black berry, prune and earth with red currant and floral notes backed with firm citrusy acids, very saline and long in the finish. This is a big, solid wine that has opened up nicely over the past year, becoming softer, velvety and complex - just delicious! It will accompany steaks, chops and burgers, a daube niçoise, tagines and full flavored cheeses. It's a fabulous value for drinking over the next five years. David Lillie
50% Clairette, 25% Roussanne, 25% Viognier, always organically farmed, wild yeast fermentation, aged in enamel vat. Subtle aromas of dried pear, lime-flower and stone. Ripe pear, peach, stone, herbal and citrus flavors on the palate. This is a bit brighter and more balanced than the 2015 - really a delicious "food" wine that will pair with a wide variety of full-flavored fish and shellfish dishes, white meats, Asian cuisines and goat cheeses.
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. Dany and Carole Chastan have made another superb Vacqueyras in 2016, a bit brighter than the opulent 2015 version, showing dark black/red color and bright aromas of blackberry, black olive and licorice with plum skin, garrigue, violet and bitter chocolate. This young wine is showing deep black fruits with firm acidity and terrific length with chalky mineral notes, earth, citrus and olive. This will be fantastic with grilled foods this summer and will improve over the next few years - drink happily until 2030. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
This beautiful Cotes du Rhone from Pablo Hocht at Creve Coeur is made from 60 to 70 year-old vines of Grenache, with an interesting mix of semi-carbonic and traditional fermentations with whole-cluster and de-stemmed grapes. The wine shows aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry liqueur with garrigue and meaty notes. The palate is deep and ripe with lush cherry and berry fruits, earth and spice - supple and round with good length of sappy black fruits and firm acidity. This is a perfect match for grilled foods this summer served cool - it's a lovely wine and a great value! David Lillie
(From 60 to 70 year-old vines in "Le Planis," 80% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre) The 2016 Creve Coeur Sablet has all the elements we love in sothern Rhone wines: organic/biodynamic farming, old school fermentation in foudre and concrete, stem inclusion. Dark-toned, nearly heady aromatically, with black and blue fruits, lavender, blackberry, cherry pit on the nose. Dense purple robe. Plum, cassis, blackberry, black pepper and garrique on the palate. Real sense of the structural elements from the stems and limestone soils. Medium tannins and good poise for a decidedly southern wine. Long finish. Good energy for the concentration with a fine core of minerality within. Fabulous with pan-roasted lambchops and sheep's milk cheese. Delicious now, but should gain in complexity with time in the bottle. John McIlwain
Pablo Hocht of Domaine de Creve Coeur has 3 hectares of 60+ year-old vines in Seguret on sandy limestone marl soils, 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvedre. As with his lovely Sablet, the Seguret is certified biodynamic, fermented slowly with wild yeasts with the stems included. Aging is partly in one to five year-old barriques, partly in vat. In other words, great farming and old-fashioned winemaking, similar to that of the Gonons in Saint-Joseph. The 2016 Seguret shows a deep red/black color and aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry and red currant, with earth, garrigue and cocoa - dark and rich but with good freshness. The palate is dense and round with a supple, grainy texture with ripe blackberry and black plum, showing the high percentage of Mourvedre, with hints of chocolate, citrus and provencal herbs. The finish is long with cool acidity and earthy black fruits. Serve this beautiful Seguret a bit cool after a decant of a few hours or cellar five to ten years. Great with stews and tagines, grilled meats and game. David Lillie
The Dard & Ribo Crozes Blanc is 50-67% Roussanne (1986), 33-50% Marsanne (1986) from Les Bâties at Larnage.
"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from organic grapes grown on the best terroir at Domaine des Amphores in Chavanay, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels. The 2015 shows a deep black/red color that coats the glass with aromas of black raspberry liqueur, quite ripe, with violet, spice, black olive and bitter chocolate. The palate is lush and supple with black fruit liqueur, menthol, spice, earth and mineral flavors, quite intense but very bright, lifted by firm acidity and quite balanced at 12.5% alcohol. This is a pure and delicious Syrah, showing the great organic and biodynamic farming of Philippe and Veronique Grenier. Please decant or open well in advance if drinking now, best probably 2020 - 2025. David Lillie
Domaine des Amphores has a small, steep hillside parcel on granite soils in Condrieu, organic since 2002 and now farmed with biodynamic methods as well. Philippe and Veronique Grenier have made a lovely 2016, 100% Viognier of course, showing a pale gold color and aromas of lime-flower, pear, stone, lemon zest, almond and hay. The palate is dense and sapid with a firm center of mineral and stone flavors underlying apricot and pear fruit with almond and citrus. Rather full-bodied for a Condrieu but not in a cloying way, this should open up nicely over the next few years - serve with fish in sauce, Asian foods and white meats or as a superb aperitif with fois gras, patés and goat cheeses. David Lillie
The Detour Blanc is a a beautiful blend of Roussanne, Clairette, and Marsanne from the Collines Rhodaniennes. The nose is fresh and lively with notes of grapefruit, tangerine, nectarine, white peach, honeysuckle and acacia. The palate is soft, round, and plush, with a hint of an herbal character, maybe sage, to compliment the aromatic fruit and floral elements of the wine. A perfect pairing for picnic sandwiches, summer salads, and carefree evenings on the patio. Oskar Kostecki
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now with biodynamic methods as well. The 2016 "Les Iris" Syrah shows lovely bright aromas of blackberry and raspberry with citrus and earth. The palate shows round, chalky blackberry and plum fruit. The finish is fairly soft and round making this a very versatile wine to serve with chicken, pork and mild cheeses or do sip by itself, slightly chilled.
Since its inception in 1992, Philippe and Véronique Grenier have practiced organic farming on their tiny estate in Chavanay, in the AOC Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. Their 2016 "Altitude 300" is a beautiful white Saint-Joseph made from 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne.The wne shows subtle, fresh aromas of pear, almond, hay, bitter lemon, stone and lime-flower. The palate is refreshing and bright with creamy citrus, pear, thyme, flint and stone, with nice density and length and firm acidity. Drink now with fish in sauce, chicken and white meats and cow cheeses. A lovely wine and a great value! David Lillie
(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they have added biodynamic methods as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. 2016 is the best vintage yet for the domain's "regular" cuvée, now called "les Sept Lieux." The wine shows subtle aromas of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, violet, mint and spice with meat, earth and mineral notes. The palate is dense and well balanced, not a fruit bomb, but with a core black fruits, earth and citrus with a long cool finish of earthy black fruit and firm acidity. While it's delicious now, it should open up nicely over the next few years and drink well until 2025 - 2030. This is a great value in Saint-Joseph from the northern zone and is highly recommended! David Lillie
We're not sure about the spelling, but Véronique and Philippe Grenier's "Sphé-érique" is a lovely "natural" Saint-Joseph, fermented and aged in a round concrete vat, and bottled with zero added sulfur. The wine shows lovely aromas of cool blackberry and blueberry fruit with violet, mint and citrus aromas, really quite complex and pretty. The palate is balanced and earthy with bright black fruits and firm acidity with stone and berry flavors in the refreshing finish. Aromatically very complex, the palate may need a few years to open up. Serve this light and lovely Saint-Joseph with lamb, pork, guinea hen and of course with caillettes ardechoises. (Like most no-sulfur wines, it is best to consume on the day opened.)
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). It's a great terroir, and the Cuvée Claude, homage to Thomas' uncle, is a superb Crozes from old vines showing a deep red/black color and elegant aromas of pure black fruits with hints of graphite, earth, bitter chocolate, menthol and clove. The palate is dense but not heavy with blackberry and red currant fruit, showing a bit of oak with citrus, mineral and pure fruits in the long finish. Delicious now, the wine will benefit from 4 to 6 hours of decanting, or cellar for a few years then enjoy until 2030. David Lillie
Thomas Finot, who is resurrecting forgotten vineyards and varieties in the Isère, is also making brilliant wines from his tiny family vineyard in Crozes-Hermitage. He has 1.8 hectare of old vines in Larnage on a hillside with granite and limestone subsoils under interesting soils of white clay (kaolin). It's a great terroir, and the Cuvée Claude, homage to Thomas' uncle, is a superb Crozes.
This well-known family estate produces excellent Tavel from certified organic vineyards and includes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Mourvedre! The 2017 Lafond Tavel is a lovely wine - fairly full-bodied as Tavel Rosé tends to be, but with nice freshness and very pretty fruit. The aromas are tart cherry and raspberry with citrus peel, peach and rose. The palate is round and supple with cherry and strawberry fruit, with citrus and mineral notes that linger on the long finish with refreshing acidity. Sip this smooth and delicious rosé by itself or serve with Salade Nicoise and grilled foods. DL
From parcels in Pied la Vigne, Mazards, Combes and Chaillot, with vines from 40 to 105 years old, certified organic. Wild-yeast whole-cluster fermentations, cap-punching by foot, aged in 2 - 8-year-old 228 and 600-liter barrels. Deep black-red color. Subtle, complex aromas of black fruits, violets, stone and musk, quite elegant. (This includes the last crop of Serine from 1919) This is very much in the style of 2009, but a bit fresher, showing ample fat with cherry and blackberry liqueur with hints of earth, game and citrus. Beautiful old fashiond Cornas, best 2025 to 2035+ David Lillie
Domaine de Marcoux farms about 18 ha in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. There is a wide range of soil types from sandy soils in Charbonnières, to red clay and galets in L’Arnesque and Les Bouquets, to limestone and marl in Les Esquirons and Beaurenard, to red clay and gravel in Gallimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes. They grow mainly Grenache, with an average vine age of 50 years old, with smaller amounts of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault. There is a four week wild-yeast vinification with minimal extraction followed by aging in cement vats and large barrels. The 2015 Marcoux shows a dense garnet/black color with meaty blackberry and black cherry liqueur with floral, spice and pepper. The palate is dense and sappy, quite supple and ripe with bright red currant and berry fruit that is lifted by firm acidity and that continues in the long well structured finish. As with all the 2015 Châteauneufs, the lovely fruit makes this delicious now, but three to five years of aging will really open the wine which should drink well for 15 to 20 years. This is a wine with great character and authenticity, well done Domaine de Marcoux! David Lillie
From 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah on limestone with sandy clay soils, organic cultivation. The 2015 "2 Monardes" shows a deep garnet color and ripe cherry and plum aromas with garrigue and violet and hints of blueberry from the Syrah. There is supple, lush fruit on the palate - black cherry, blackberry and red currant with garrigue and spice flavors and good balancing acidity. Drinking well now this supple and delicious Rhône red will go beautifully with grilled foods, stews and tagines and anything on the barbecue this summer.
This rosé from Vacqueyras is a prime candidate for any summer grill and barbecue. Primarily Grenache (with 30% Cinsault), farmed without chemical products in the vineyard, hand harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Winemakers Martine and Christian Vache vinify half of the wine for their rosé in the saignée (bleeding) method, taking juice from red grapes after about 10 hours of maceration and fermenting this separately. The other half is a direct press of partially de-stemmed grapes. Once fermented, the two wines are blended and aged on the lees for 6 months before bottling. The result is a wine of a beautiful pale hue that provides kick and crispness, brambly fresh berry fruit, and a touch of spice. Super dry, and satisfyingly refreshing, it's perfect with salads and snacks, and has enough body to stand up to richer, tangier flavors and grilled meats. E.L.
Domaine Pélaquié makes this lovely Tavel rosé from young vines of Cinsault and Grenache. The wine shows a deep pink color with lush aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and red currant with violet, citrus peel and spice. The palate is deep and ripe but nicely balanced with bright acidity, showing black cherry, ripe raspberry, brown spice, citrus and mineral flavors, with a nice supple finish. This will accomany grilled tuna, chicken and burgers this summer as well as salads and cheeses.
For my money one of the great producers of white wines in the Rhône. Andre Perret makes a trio of beautiful Condrieus: Chery (tense, deeply mineral, gras, ageable), Clos Chanson (ample, exotic, floral, supple), and Condrieu AC (generous, ripe, aromatic, stony and fresh). All are lovely and expressive, and the ‘basic’ bottling offers a beautiful combination of floral and stone fruit aromas, with fine sap on the palate (midweight, ripe, and salty!) and a veritable cornucopia of stone and orchard fruit flavors on a long clinging mineral finish. This has great energy, freshness, detail, and none of the flab associated with many Viogniers. There’s light here, if not heat. A fantastic aperitif and a fine pairing with a salad of favas, spring onions, and fresh pecorino. Lovely stuff! John McIlwain
We consider Domaine Pierre André to be one of the greatest estates in Châteuneuf-du-Pape. Organic since 1980 (one of the first in the AOC) and Biodynamic since 1992. The red is 90% Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vacarese, Counoise, Muscadin and Picpoul. Some parcels are over 100 years old, with the average vine age around 65 years. The 2010 is a tighter and more structured wine than the voluptuous 2009, an elegant Chateauneuf-du-Pape that is built to last! Tasted last winter, it showed aromas of ripe blackberry with cherry, spice, rose, earth, tar, smoke and floral notes. Fabulous palate with deep black fruits with spice, garrigue, earth and saline minerals. Terrific length and density, just opening slightly but ideally give this wine at least three more years and enjoy until 2035. Just a great bottle of Châteauneuf, one of our favorites from this great vintage! Highly recommended. David Lillie
From a one-half hectare parcel of 60 year-old vines in "Les R