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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 (most purchased in Burgundy and untreated with sulfur), 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In the low-yielding 2016 vintage Le Clos Guillot is particulary elegant and age-worthy, showing floral aromas of Italian plum, black cherry and blackberry. The palate is perfectly balanced, dense and deep but not fat with elegant chalky black fruit and mineral flavors that continue in the very long finish. A bottle opened a day before showed more complex, floral aromas, but a tighter palate - of course this wine can be enjoyed young but peak drinking will be 2027 - 2045+. Given the reasonable price, this belongs in your cellar! (Normal case discounts apply) Another Bravo! to Matthieu and Bernard Baudry... David Lillie
The lovely 2017 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry is all Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2019 the wine was quite pretty showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL
One of the great red wines of the Loire Valley, the Baudry Chinon Les Grézeaux is from a unique parcel of old vines near the bottom of the slope in Sonnay (near Cravant-les-Coteaux) on a bed of gravel over a base of clay, sand and limestone. (Harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in 3 to 5 year-old casks.) Les Grézeaux always has an elegant silky texture and wonderful freshness, combined with the ability to age beautifully in good vintages. While not as big as 2015 and 2016, the 2017s at Baudry have wonderful purity and freshness in a medium-bodied frame that accentuates the beauty of the fruit and the underlying minerality. The 2017 Les Grézeaux has lovely raspberry and strawberry fruit with earth, musk and spice. Pretty floral red fruits on the palate with vibrant acidity framed by flavors of graphite and stone. Becomes deeper and velvety with a few days open — really a lovely blend of fruit and terroir with nice balance. Enjoy it now or in 10 to 15 years...DL
Menu Pineau, also known as "Arbois" is described in Wine Grapes (J. Robinson et al.) as "an old variety from the Val de Loire named after its similarity to Gros Pineau (Chenin Blanc)...although it has nothing to do with the village called Arbois in the Franche-Comté." It is an offspring of Gouais Blanc, along with many other European grapes, and is "a little more rustic, but less acid than Chenin Blanc," according to Thierry Puzelat. The 2017 La Tesnière Blanc by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is from organically-grown vines, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc, in this great parcel that abuts the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Bright pale gold color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, pear, dried herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is austere and stony, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, earth and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with sushi, grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
This "poil dur" is wagging its tail again in 2018, showing the extra ripeness of this great vintage in the Loire Valley, with juicy aromas of blackberry, rose, spice and citrus. It's Gamay with a bit of Cabernet Franc in this vintage, with an extra layer of ripeness, and nice density of bright blackberry fruit, a bit floral and spicy. Quite refreshing with good length of lush berry fruits and citrusy acids in the finish. Serve a bit cool with charcuterie, chicken and pork - just delicious! David Lillie
Fred Lallier is now in charge at Domaine Bregeon and doing great work at this important estate - one of the leaders in the return to quality in Muscadet, now in conversion to organic farming. The 2017 Muscadet is from Gabbro terroirs in and around Gorges - it shows distinctive aromas associated with this terroir - stone, petrol and mushroom, as well as citrus, anise and white fruits with floral and herbal notes. The palate is dense and complex with citrus, earth, pear and anise followed by terrific length with firm acidity and mineral flavors. Lovely now, this will improve nicely over the next 3 to 5 years, and is an interesting contrast to the granite-based wines of their neighbor, Marc Ollivier at Pépière. 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 2018 Bregeonnette is from vines on both schist and granite soils and is a beautiful example of a young, vibrant Muscadet from organic farming.
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic vineyards on their varied terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. The 2014 vintage in Bourgueil and Chinon is excellent and the 14s at Domaine de la Chevalerie are absolutely superb! This wine is a fabulous mix of fruit and minerals, perfectly balanced and with terrific length: dense black/red color, with aromas that blend soil, stone and black-raspberry fruit with hints of cocoa and violet. The palate is dense and supple and intensely mineral - a blend of stone and cool red fruits lifted by firm acidity, with the bright fruit continuing in the long mineral finish. This is a beautiful Bourgueil that can be enjoyed now with roast chicken, pork dishes, even a steak - or hold for ten to fifteen years for a mature experience. It's a faulous value at $19.99 - congratulations to the Caslots! David Lillie
The Chevalerie "Diptyque" is from sand and gravel soils in Bourgueil, producing a wine to drink young, served cool - 100% Cabernet Franc, of course. The 2015 is particularly good, with lovely aromas of black raspberry and crushed strawberry with hints of violet, mint, pepper and earth. The palate is balanced, ripe and pretty with supple black raspberry and red currant fruit in a bright frame, a bit softer and more forward than the 2014. Serve a bit chilled with charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. DL
This is usually our favorite wine from François and Manuela Chidaine, long-time champions of organic and biodynamic farming in the Loire Valley. Named after the soil type "Les Bournais," a unique clay topsoil over limestone (tuffeau blanche) also found across the river in Vouvray and without the silex present in most Montlouis terroirs. The 2017 is a beautiful example of this wine with lovely aromas of lemon confit, kiwi, pear, lime-flower, honey and earth, with subtle hints of crushed raspberry as well. The palate is dense and creamy with chalky ripe pear and citrus fruits with a long, lush finish of stone, white fruits, anise and citrus. (Lush but dry at only 2.3 gr RS/L) This is a beautiful Montlouis that will perfectly accompany lobster, fish or white meats in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses. It's delicious now, and should be very interesting after ten to fifteen years in the cellar. David Lillie
Francois Chidaine has been one of the leading proponents of biodynamic farming in the Loire valley and has had a profound influence on the resurgence of Montlouis. Les Choisilles is vinified dry, from parcels of 30 to 90 year-old vines on clay and silica soils over limestone "tuffeau." The soils are kept covered with beneficial plants growing in the rows and only organic composts are used. Fermentation of Les Choisilles can last up to six months, with wild yeasts, no malo-lactic, aging on the lees in large barrels. The 2017s at Chidaine are studies in terroir with the young wines showing intense acidity and mineral flavors eclipsing, for now, the elegant white and yellow fruits that coat the palate. Though delicious now, served with grilled fish, fish and chicken in sauce and shellfish, the Les Choisilles will open nicely over the next ten to fifteen years and should be considered for the cellar. David Lillie
2016 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
In 2017 Domaine du Closel lost 90% of their fruit to a devastating frost, but were able to purchase organic grapes from an estate on the other side of the Loire, on a great terroir of shale, to make this lovely Chenin. The wine shows ripe quince and pear aromas with floral hints, while the palate is ethereal and quite dry with firm acidity and saline mineral flavors under the subtle fruit. This will pair nicely with oysters and delicate seafood preparations, and should develop well with five to ten years of aging.
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 beautiful 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.
Grown on a 1/4 hectare parcel on a slope of clay over limestone where there is enough sand to discourage phylloxera, the vines are now 15 years-old and produce this distinctive wine, quite saline and with intriguing complexity. Drink this lovely Chinon, served cool, over the next five years.
This is a superb "les Picasses" from Jean, Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure at Chateau de Coulaine, who have been practising organic and biodynamic agriculture since taking charge in 1988. The parcel is at the top of the vineyard with southern exposure, on the classic clay/limestone "tuffeau" in Beaumont-en-Veron. This quite dense and powerful Chinon is aged in one-third new barrels and barrels of one and two wines.The wine shows a dark red/black color with beautiful aromas of ripe strawberry and black-raspberry with earth, citrus and spice, really deep and pretty. The palate is quite dense and a bit more round and open than the more austere 2014, with dark berry fruits framed in a touch of oak. The fruit is elegant and deep and the wine finishes with black fruits, earth, firm acidity and elegant tannins. This is a "serious" Chinon of terroir that will drink well young and will age beautifully as well, best 2022 to 2040.
Chateau de Coulaine is producing a ripe and vibrant Chenin Blanc from a south-facing slope just across the Vienne from Coulaine (AOC Touraine) with interesting terroir of granitic gravel and fossils over white limestone. The 2016 "Les Pieds Rotis" is a dry but very ripe and full-bodied Chenin, with beautiful white fruit, earth and citrus flavors. The wine went through malolactic fermentation, and finished quite dry at only 1.8 grams RS. Aging is in 2 to 8 year-old 400 liter foudres and minimal SO2 is used. It's a great apéritif or serve with white meats, Asian food and mild cheeses.
This is a delicious fresh wine from Chateau de Coulaine, a 12-hectare estate operated by Jean and Pascale de Bonnaventure, which has been certified organic since 1997 and uses biodynamic practices as well. This 100% Cabernet Franc wine comes from the youngest vines near the Chateau, along the Vienne river, grown on clay/limestone and sandy clay soils. Harvested by hand, the grapes are macerated at cold temperatures and aged in concrete vats with little extraction and fining. Sulfur is added at minimal dosage at bottling. The nose shows a pretty aromatic bouquet of dark and red cherry, dark raspberry, strawberry, violet, chocolate, dark tobacco and savory notes. The palate is vibrant with fresh acidity and silky tannins with a very pretty finish. A wine full of energy, drink it over the next few years with light fare such as grilled pork chops, roasted chicken and mild cheeses. Caroline Coursant
The 2016 Roche aux Moines from Tessa Laroche is a superb Chenin Blanc showing elegant aromas of pear and quince with limeflower and citrus, quite complex and pretty. The superb shist terroir of "Roche aux Moines" is fully captured in this wine which has fabulous depth of white fruit and mineral flavors with very firm acidity and citrus, anise and stone in the long finish. Wonderful now with a full-flavored fish dish, this wine will cellar beatifully for twenty years and more. David Lillie
The wines of Denis Jamain at the Domaine de Reuilly are getting better and better - his 2018 Rosé of Pinot Gris is from vines in organic and biodynamic farning, fermented with wild yeasts. The color is a lovely pale onion skin, the aromas are floral and pretty with gooseberry, peach, dried apricot and citrus peel, really lovely. Light berry, peach, green tea and stone flavors on the palate are dense and creamy but framed in firm acidity. With good ripeness, but subtle and balanced, this unique rosé will accompany a wide variety of foods, from oysters with vinaigrette, fish, grilled pork and chicken and Asian foods, and it's lovely to sip by itself! David Lillie
We know that we're not supposed to like off-dry or demi-sec rosés, but this wine is so delicious we're going to drink it anyhow, served with grilled foods, Asian foods, mild cheeses or sipped by itself as a yummy aperitif on a warm summer day. Mostly Cabernet Franc, it's bursting with lovely red-currant and berry fruit with just enough sweetness to make it go down oh so easy. And it's a sensational value at $12.99!
Guy Bossard has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in (semi) retirement, with the new owner Fred Niger Van Herck. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2017 "Granite" is particularly outstanding, amazingly elegant with a wonderful combination of delicacy and depth. The wine shows beautiful floral aromas of lemon peel, dried pear, wet stone and lime-flower with hints of almond and anise. The palate is dense and very long in this difficult but ripe vintage with intense stony flavors, pear, citrus and earth. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2022 to 2035. Serve this summer with oysters, cod and sole, then with richer dishes after the wine matures. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
100% Cabernet Franc. The six-hectare Grande Vignolle lieu-dit sits on a chalk cliff on calcareous clay soils, set back from the Loire River on a high plateau. The vines are 35-40 years old and lie at the northern limit of the Saumur-Champigny appellation. The fruit is hand-harvested, destemmed and fermented with natural yeasts in steel tank, with a maceration of approximately 2 weeks. The wine is aged in steel tank and is bottled unfiltered. Always a juicy and delicious Saumur-Champigny, the 2017 Grande Vignolle shows ripe crushed black raspberry fruit with floral and earthy notes, quite pretty! The palate is vibrant with firm acidity below lush berry fruits with a refreshing, bright finish. This is a great charcuterie pairing or with grilled chicken and pork and soft cow cheeses - enjoy it now served a bit cool and celaring of five to eight years would be interesting. David Lillie
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2017 Anjou Blanc (Chenin) is superb, with lovely aromas of pear and apple, fresh herbs, lime-flower and honey. The palate is round and supple but nicely balanced with firm acidity, showing green apple, dried pear, stone and honeyed citrus and minerals that continue in the long finish. A simply delicious dry Chenin that will accompany seafood, grilled or in sauce, chicken, goat cheeses, etc... DL
Philippe Gilbert makes beatiful wines in Menetou-Salon, which abuts Sancerre, including lovely rosé and red from Pinot Noir and superb Menetou-Salon blanc from Sauvignon Blanc, certified Biodynamic by Demeter. The living soils are evident in this lovely wine, showing elegant aromas of pear, fig, citrus peel, lime flower, anise and stone. The palate is very mineral with firm chalky acidity unerlying pear, almond, citrus, stone and herbal flavors. This is a great pairing with any mild fish preparation and goat cheeses and it's far superior to most Sancerres in this price range. David Lillie
Upon visiting Fernand Girard back in the early 90s we were happy to find someone who harvested by hand and fermented with wild yeasts - a rarity in Sancerre at the time and still sadly in the minority today. More than 20 years later we are still happy to feature the Sancerre produced by Fernand and Alain Girard, coming from their 2.5 hectare plot on a steep slope in Chaddoux on stony clay over limestone soils. This is a classic Sancerre in a more mineral style that will accompany a wide variety of seafoods, chicken dishes and white meats, and it's a good value as well.
Marc Houtin founded La Grange aux Belles near Anjou in 2004, having studied geology and worked at Château d’Yquem making Sauternes. He recruited viticulturist Julien Bresteau in 2006 and their first vintage was released in 2008. There is no filtering, fining, or sulfur added, but the wine is devoid of any sediment. What you do have is a beautifully expressive Chenin, mouthwatering, tangy apples and great minerality. Perfect with fish or poultry, or even an ashen goat cheese.
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.
2016 brings us another great Cuvée Prestige from Stéphane Guion in Bourgueil, whose domaine has been certified organic since the 1960s. From vines averaging 50 to 70 years old on classic soils of clay over limestone. 2016 was a very difficult vintage in the Loire Valley with many growers suffering huge loses to f rost on the 27th of April, followed by periods of intense mildew attacks until early July that further lowered yields. Weather in the summer and fall, however, was near perfect with dry sunny conditions prevailing and just the right amount of rain in September. Comparisons can be made to the 2002 and 2010 vintages. The 2016 Guion Prestige shows wonderful brightness and balance with lovely high-toned aromas of strawberry compote with floral, herbal and musky notes, with hints of roast coffee and bitter chocolate. There is intense material on the palate which is elegant and ripe with fine tannins, with bright strawberry and cherry fruits encased in brisk, very earthy acids. A brilliant wine that needs five years or more in the cellar, peak drinking perhaps 2023 to 2040. If drinking now decant well in advance or open/taste/re-cork two or three days beforehand. 1989 and 1990 tasted recently at the domaine were fantastic — given the low price, this is one of the world's great values to cellar. Thank you, Stéphane! (Arrives Monday March 4th)
This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stephane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2017 Cuvèe Domaine is from young (15 to 40 year-old) vines on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is simply delicous, a bit softer and more foward than the vibrant 2016. The wine shows aromas of raspberry and red currant liqueur, violets and citrus - very ripe but still bright with earthy hints as well. The palate is medium-bodied and fresh with firm acidity but more supple than usual for the Cuvée Domaine, with chalky, saline mineral flavors framing the ripe red and black fruits, which continue in the long earthy finish. Drink now, served cool, with grilled chicken and pork, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses, or hold 5 to 8 years for a velvety mature experience. This is a beautiful wine that transcends its price point - Thanks to Stephane Guion! David Lillie
Forward and open which is unusual for Constance. Beautifully knit palate and very long with exceptional purity and at least 50 years ahead of it. DL
Le Mont is a 19 acre vineyard just above the Loire with a pebbly, "green" clay and silex soil over the limestone. The 2017 Le Mont Demi-Sec was the hit of our tasting at Racines NY, showing smoky mineral notes with pear, citrus peel, almond and wet stone aromas. The palate shows earthy white fruits with intesnse mineral flavors with great freshness and density, not showing much sweetness. The finish is long and earthy with quince, stone and citrusy acids. Serve now with very saline oysters or grilled fish, best to cellar, drink until 2050 and beyond... David Lillie
Certified organic since 2007, the Chateau du Hureau produces this beautiful Cabernet Franc on it's best parcel, "la Corde," from vines planted in 1953 and 1991 in clay soils over the "tuffe" limestone. This 2014 bottling of "Lisagathe"is a reminder for why we love Cabernet Franc from Saumur. The aromas show attractive notes of red cherry, tobacco, dried rose, and blueberries. The palate is supple with deft tannins. Pure flavors of cherry and tobacco spice are lifted by tart red currant and blackberry on the finish. This wine has a long life ahead but is wonderfully complex and elegant in its youth. This paired exceptionally well with fresh pork sausages with herbs, leeks, and asparagus. Amanda Bowman
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 2015 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe black raspberry and red currant with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing earthy, ripe strawberry confit with black raspberry and licorice with firm mineral acidity and a bit less tannin than the 2014. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2023 to 2035+ David Lillie
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 is deep and ripe, showing earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate and firm structure. 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 $16.99 it's a fabulous value! David Lillie
"Gourmandise" is a beautiful Spring cuvée from Patrick Lambert, made from young Cabernet Franc vines grown on sandy gravel soils near the Vienne. The wine shows a bright black/red color with lush high-toned aromas of crushed strawberry and black raspberry, with hints of citrus and pepper. The palate is supple and bright with luscious black raspberry and red currant fruit, quite lush and full-bodied in this superb vintage for the Loire but still with refreshing acidity. Serve this lovely wine quite cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken, pork or burgers, it's a perfect light summer red! DL
This delightful Chinon Rosé comes from Patrick Lambert's 6 hectares of organic vines in Cravant, around the corner from his friend and mentor, Bernard Baudry. Hand harvested from 20-year-old Cabernet Franc vines on gravel and sandy clay soils over limestone. The 2018 shows lovely aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, citrus and rose; the palate is ripe and pretty with raspberry, citrus and stone flavors with nice density and texture, a bit more weight and ripeness than the 2017, with juicy acids, berry flavors and minerals in the finish. This is drinking beautifully now and will open up nicely through the spring and summer and will keep well into 2020. This is a fabulous value and highly recommended. DL
La Haute Tradition is a beautiful Muscadet from our friend Jo Landron that is rarely seen in the US. The grapes are from old vines in the "Les Houx" vineyard on iron-rich clay over subsoils of orthogneiss with quartz, giving a dense powerful Muscadet that is aged for about a year in wooden foudres.The wine shows elegant aromas of lemon peel, stone, ripe pear, almond, anise and honeysuckle. While it's similar to Jo's superb Fief du Breil, the palate shows more ripeness - quite round and full for a Muscadet, with sapid white fruits, citrus, anise and licorice, with terrific density backed by firm acidity. The finish is long and lovely with with bitter lemon, pear, anise and stone. This is a superb Muscadet that should be opened well in advance or decanted if drinking now, or cellar five years then drink until 2035. Serve with fish in sauce, grilled lobster (!), veal, roast chicken and goat or sheep cheeses. David Lillie
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. Tasted in January 2019, the 2018 Amphibolite showed more white fruit aromas than usual with notes of dried pear, lemon zest, lime-flower, wet stone, fines herbes , almond and white pepper. The palate remains vibrant and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruit and stone flavors with surprising density at about 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
"Caradras" is a rare and lovely sight, only made in the best vintages, we've not had the pleasure of drinking this wine since 2015! The new release was well worth the wait. The 2018 is 88% Cab Franc and 12% Cot from various parcels on silex and clay within Quentin Bourse's estate. Bourse describes himself as "neurotic" because he is highly meticulous in the vineyards as well as the cellar (during harvest he employs 1 person per hectare to ensure only the best bunches are selected). Neurotic or not, his fastidiousness pays off in the marvelous expressions of his 2018s. This is exquisitely balanced and wonderfully textured. The fruit was selected from parcels with various vine ages in order to give extra dimension and concentration to the flavors and structure. The nose offers dusty plum, soil, cocoa, and blue bramble fruit. The palate is lively and lifted by crunchy acidity framing the ripe high-toned blue fruits, juicy plum flesh, and earthy spices. This is drinking well now but could age for at least 3-5 years. Amanda Bowman
Made only in exceptional vintages, the Luneau-Papin "Excelsior - Clos des Noelles" is one of my favorite Muscadets, usually a bit rounder than the granite-soil "L D'Or" but always aromatically complex and with great intensity and length. The massale-selection vines were planted in 1936 on a terroir of "micaschistes a deux micas," (lieu-dit "La Plecisiere") exposed full south. The grapes are hand-harvested and undergo a slow wild yeast fermentation with 36 months of aging on the lees. The 2015 shows subtle, complex aromas of bitter lemon, lime-flower, melon, pear, mint, almond and stone. The palate is silky, crystalline and dense with white fruits, lemon zest, almond, smoke and wet stone with fabulous length of pear, minerals and taut acidity. Please decant if drinking now, serve with any elegant seafood dish. Cellar five to fifteen years and serve with richer fish dishes, white meats, rabbit. Beautiful wine! 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 Mosse family is making superb natural wines in Anjou, and the 2017 Vin de France Rouchefer is a classic example. From a 1.6 ha parcel of massale selection vines in soils of clay and quartz over schistes, the wine is produced with minimal SO2 (total 20mg/l) and is aged in barrel. The wine shows beautiful floral aromas of quince, pear, citrus and stone. The palate is full and elegant without being heavy, and the lovely fruit is backed by firm acidity and mineral flavors - a real Chenin of terroir that will accompany a wide range of seafood and chicken dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool, but not too cold, over the next ten to fifteen years. David Lillie
The Moussamoussettes is back! A Chambers Street favorite, this years rendition is a blend of Grolleau Gris and Gamay. The 2018 is totally dry with flavorful and vibrant strawberry and tart cherry fruit. A rejuvenating Pet-Nat from our friend Agnes and René Mosse.
The 2016 Mosse Cabernet Franc comes from 40 year-old vines on schistes soils with clay and gravel. The soils bring a unique mineral character to the Cab Franc and the wine is bone dry with zero residual sugar. Not a fruit bomb, but quite elegant and long with earthy red currant and black raspberry fruit. Enjoy, served slighty cool, over the next ten years with a nice cut of meat...
The 2016 Mosse Cabernet Franc comes from 40 year-old vines on schistes soils with clay and gravel. The soils bring a unique mineral character to the Cab Franc and the wine is bone dry with zero residual sugar. Not a fruit bomb, but quite elegant and long with earthy red currant and black raspberry fruit. Enjoy, served slighty cool, over the next ten years with a nice cut of meat...
La Paonnerie is a Biodynamic estate in Anjou, producing all their wines totally naturally with zero additives. The 2015 Jacquerie is from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grown on schistes of Ancenis and bottled with zero added sulfur. The wine shows ripe red currant and black raspberry aromas that are quite complex, very earthy and meaty. That palate shows ripe black fruits, with earth and mineral flavors and firm tannins, with a bit of earthy funk in the finish. It's a complex and fascinating Anjou red that will appeal to lovers of natural wines. David Lillie
Our first 2018 comes from our friends Rémi, Gwénaëlle and Marc at Domaine de la Pépière - the 2018 "Cuvée Pépie." This first bottling of "Pépie" shows a bit more apple and pear fruit and a softer palate than normal, as 20 - 30% of the juice went through the malo-lactic conversion. It's a delicious Muscadet in a rounder style which will be a great match for any seafood and white meat dishes this spring and summer.
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
This lovely wine clearly illustrates the difference between the granite and gneiss terroirs in Muscadet. Gras Moutons, a great parcel on gneiss with clay and amphibolite stones, produces lovely, classic Muscadet. A wine to drink over the next 5 to 8 years, it has a more herbal and floral bouquet than the granite-based wines and the palate, although refreshing and bright, is softer and more open. In 2017 the majority of the grapes were lost to frost, but the portion that remained made a beautiful wine showing pretty herbal, citrus, and white fruit aromas. The palate is elegant and bright with pear, quince, lime-flower and lemon backed by silky lemony acidity and mineral flavors. Perfect with oysters, mild flavored fish and chicken dishes and goat cheeses. David Lillie
In 2017 yields were so low due to frost and mildew that all the grapes of the domaine were used in this single cuvee - Gamay, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vinified together. The vines are grown on sandy granite soils at 1200 ft altitude in the Roannaise, in organic and Biodynamic farming. The grapes are hand-harvested into 30 kilogram baskets, pressed, pigeage by foot, and zero sulfur or other additves are used. The Picatier Un Jour, Picatier Toujours shows bright aromas of ripe raspberry with hints of earth, meat, pepper and citrus. On the palate there is vibrant black raspberry fruit with floral, earth, mineral and citrus flavors, quite natural but not "mousy" with firm citrusy acids in the finish. This needs food - bring on the charcuterie, rillettes and rillons, grilled pork and lamb to enjoy with this fascinating natural wine. David Lillie
The grapes for this new cuvée from Francois Pinon used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, the Pinon's best parcel on a hill-top directly above their cellar, much deserves to be bottled on its own. The soil is clay over Turonian limestone, and the beautiful exposure gives ripe fruit that is normally vinified as a demi-sec. In 2017 the potential alcohol was not too high, so the Pinons vinified it as a dry wine, with 5.6 grams rs/liter. The wine shows elegant aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemon zest and stones. The palate is very saline and mineral with round white fruits, citrus and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great dry Vouvray with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully! Normally thought of as a fish wine, the flavors and texture of this wine will make it pair beautifully with poultry and white meats as well. Highly recommended. David Lillie
The 2017 Trois Argiles has 17 grams of residual sugar, but more than enough acidity to balance that out. Coming from the heavier clay soils, this wine is slightly deeper and broader than the Silex Noir (black flint) with a rounder palate. Notes of citrus and orchard fruit, with white blossom, honey, and slight hints of candied ginger. A beautiful pairing with poached fish. Oskar Kostecki
From a plot of old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2015 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, Aromas are transcendent to summer days with notes of crushed seashells, honeysuckle, and warm apricot skins. Flavors of briny half-shell, pear, and almond skin cascade with bright lemon and honey comb. This is delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
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, strawberry 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
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2014 was an excellent vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2014 Raffault Picasses shows a bright, red/black color with aromas of morello cherry, red currant, blackberry and prune with hints of licorice, earth and black pepper. The palate shows silky tannins and sappy red and black fruits with chalky minerals and firm acidity. Earthy prune, plum and cherry fruits linger in the long finish. Please decant two to three hours in advance if drinking now, then serve a bit cool with roast chicken, pork or lamb. This will sing a different song after 6 to 8 years of aging, best perhaps 2026 - 2040. DL
The Domaine cuvée from Olga Raffault is made up mostly of young vines from the Barnabes vineyard, planted on sandy soils right by the Loire River. This is a fresh and easy-drinking Chinon, displaying notes of red cherry, black cherry, raspberry, plum, crushed violet, cracked black pepper, and green bell pepper. Very approachable with soft, medium tannins, this a great wine to drink while the Picasses is maturing. Oskar Kostecki
The Olga Raffault Chinon rosé has gotten better and better over the past few years, perhaps it's their move towards organic farming and the fine work of Sylvie Raffault and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. 100% Cabernet Franc, 10-hour maceration and slow wild-yeast fermentation. The 2018 is round and ripe and simply delicious, quite crisp and refreshing showing lovely bright pink color, hints of raspberry and strawberry fruit, ripe but dry and balanced on the palate with a bit of peach and red berries in the finish with bright saline acidity. "Particulièrement gouleyant" it says on the label and we couldn't agree more!
This is a dry Chenin Blanc from Nicolas Réau, who has 7 hectares in Anjou. There's great density to the wine, and a clean, mineral finish. Vines were planted in 2003 on 3 hectares of clay/limestone terroir. The wine was aged for 6 months in old wood with the lees, and vinified with minimal sulfur. I find this to be a really classic expression of Chenin Blanc, with subtle texture and richness, balanced by crisp acidity. Perfect with a variety of cuisines, and showing nice evolution over several days open. Eben
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
This is a beautiful 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, certified organic farming with biodynamic methods. The 2017 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - peach, pear, and kiwi with almond, honeysuckle, lime-flower and mineral notes. Dried peach and pear, citrus peel, stone and herbal notes on the palate with terrific density and a quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is an outstanding and mineral young Chenin that will open up over the next three to five years, and might be quite interesting at ten to fifteen years or age - it's a superb value as well. Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. DL
100% Chenin Blanc, from 10 - 30 year-old vines on slopes 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. The Roche Bleue 2017 Jasnières Sec shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower, quince and honeysuckle with hints of chalky stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate seems light in body but is quite intense with dried pear, anise , bitter lemon and saline, chalky minerals that continue in the long finish with firm citrusy acids. This is a crystalline, complex dry Jasnières that will benefit from decanting and should age well for ten to fifteen years. Serve now with shellfish, grilled fish, roast chicken and goat cheeses or age to serve with richer dishes. Lovely wine! DL
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, dark chocolate and earth. The palate is firm and elegant with an earthy texture, and a core of stony, mineral flavors, a bit austere, showing pretty blackberry and cassis fruit with bitter chocolate, citrus and minerals 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, or cellar for five to ten years. David Lillie
The Puzelat brothers at the Clos du Tue-Boeuf produced a lovely Sauvignon Blanc in 2018, from organic grapes with almost no SO2 added - it's naturally delicious! The wine shows ripe aromas of pear, fig, almond, lemon confit, fines herbes and stone. The palate is ripe and round but balanced by firm acidity and mineral flavors framing the ripe white fruits. The finish is long and juicy with bright acidity and chalky minerals. This will accompany just about anything this summer from fish to chicken to pork, and great with any mild cheeses. David Lillie
Domaine Vacheron is one of the few organic and Biodynamic estates in Sancerre. The 2018 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 2015 or 2016 due to the sunny condions and low rainfall in 2018. The palate is silky and crisp, showing stone and mineral flavors that underly ripe 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.
(60% Pinot Noir, 40% Gamay grown on sandy clay and flint soils over limestone in Cellettes, Chitenay and Fougères sur Bièvre, AOC Cheverny; 15-day whole cluster fermentation, aged in old barrels) 2018 is another great vintage for this light and lovely Cheverny Rouge from Hervé Villemade; slight reduction then very pretty aromas of plum, strawberry and blood orange with rose and white pepper; tart cherry and chalky raspberry/strawberry fruit on the palate, light but sappy and long with earthy citrus and berry fruits in the refreshing finish. This is a delightfully natural thirst-quenching red - serve cool with any chicken or pork dish, charcuterie and mild cheeses. DL
Just arrived is Hervé Villemade's very delicious Pet Nat Rosé What's Up? Made from Grolleau, Pineau D'Aunis and a bit of Menu Pineau for added zing, this is an absolutely delicious wine for gulping with abandon all summer. Don't delay in grabbing some, and thank you Hervé, for this bubbly pink treat!
90% Pineau d'Aunis with 10% Gamay, this wine is a beautiful bright ruby in the glass, with the nose and palate showing a wonderful mélange of red fruit, spice, and floral notes of rose and violets. The wine is fresh and mouthwatering, though there is some structure here, with the tannins quite apparent, but very well integrated. Once again, Olivier Lemasson was able to keep alcohol levels incredibly low (11%) and overall this is incredibly pretty. A perfect way to start an evening, this is also a very versatile food wine, and it paired particularly well with soba noodle stir fry. Oskar Kostecki