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From young and old vines in a superb south-facing hillside vineyard of thin clay over limestone soils in Cravant. 24 months of aging in 2 to 4 year-old barriques. The difficult vintage of 2013 gave very low yields and less alcohol than usual, but the 2013 Croix Boissée is a superb, elegant Chinon that will age well and resembles a light, old fashioned Burgundy. The aromas are lovely and very floral with raspberry and red currant fruit. The palate is extremely mineral, not fat but with pretty red fruit, spice and earthy flavors over firm acidity. Given the vintage, this is an astonishingly good Chinon, but not exactly a fruit-bomb, that should be superb when mature, perhaps 2025 to 2035, and delicious young for those who appreciate more terroir than fruit in their Chinon.
We're very excited about the arrival of the superb 2014 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2016 the wine was quite beautiful , if a bit closed, showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. Upon arrival in NY (October 2016), the wine is singing, with aromas of wild strawberry and red currant with white pepper, earth and cocoa. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL (Those who want a bit of the mature experience should: open the bottle, taste - yum - re-cork and put in fridge; wait three days, enjoy!) Featured in the NY Times "20 Wines Under $20" 01/12/17
(Tasted in January 2016) From 50 to 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2014 is certainly one of the greatest "les Grézeaux" from this wonderful estate! Beautiful deep red/black color, lush, complex palate of ripe dark fruit with perfect balance and fabulous length, with cool acidity lifting the fruit. As always the "les Grézeaux" is enjoyable young as the gravel soil gives a wine with a silky texture, but it ages beautifully as well, as anyone with the 1989 can tell you. This is a must for any lover of Chinon!
From a tiny parcel in La Croix Boissée, with 15 to 25 year-old Chenin vines on thin sandy clay soils over limestone. Slow fermentation in 500 liter tonneaux until "sec" - under 2 grams per liter of residual sugar. With lovely ripeness in the 2015 vintage, the wine shows aromas of lime-flower, stone, dried pear and apple, with a hint of hazelnut and spice. The palate opens with aeration to show intense dried pear, anise, beeswax and strong mineral flavors in a quite ripe and round frame with firm acidity. The intense citrus oil and dried herbs in the finish are typical of white Chinon. This is a beautiful and really unique expression of Chenin Blanc. Decant or open 1-2 hours before serving. Highly recommended!
100% Chenin Blanc from vines under 50 years-old in 4 different parcels with flinty clay soils over limestone, very low yields in 2014. Aromas of peach, pear, lime-flower, brown spice; the palate is very mineral, round but with firm acidity with white and yellow fruits and a beautiful stony finish. Delicious now or cellar 10 years or more, serve with full-flavored fish such as halibut or monkfish. Lovely wine!
This is a lovely, soft and ripe expression of Pineau d'Aunis from Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, from vines adjacent to Clos Roche Blanche on clay with silex in organic and biodynamic farming. Aged in old futs and demi-muids, bottled without filtration, minimal SO2. Floral, beautiful dark cherry fruit with cranberry, white pepper and plum and minimal tannin. Slightly softer and more supple than usual; a wonderful food wine with a perfect balance of fruit and mineral acids that's lovely now and should open up nicely over the next few years.
Pierre-Olivier has made a simply delicious Touraine Sauvignon Blanc in 2015 - it's a great value for everyday drinking, and it would be fun to put some away a few years as well! The wine shows a pale bronze color with aromas of ripe pear, lime flower, gingerbread and honeysuckle, really lovely. Dry but with lovely ripe pear and apple on the palate framed in firm acidity, with stone, saline mineral flavors and candied fruit in the finish. There's a lot of character in this inexpensive wine - enjoy by itself or with any fish, chicken or white meat dish, great with goat cheeses and Asian foods as well, 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 it's 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 2015 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, fresh herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is lean, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, stone and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
100% Romorantin, from a mix of old and young vines grown on clay and silica soils over limestone. The 2014 Cazin Cour-Cheverny shows a bit more ripeness and round white fruits than usual - less aromatic but deeper on the palate. This will need some time to open up, but shows ripe pear, almond and stone aromas with hints of lime-flower and white pepper.The palate is firm and very mineral, with round white fruits and herbal flavors, quite subtle and with good length. Decant if drinking now, or let it spend a few days re-corked in the fridge. Drink until 2030 and beyond....
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic vineyards on their varied terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. The lovely 2012 Chevalerie shows vivid aromas of berry liqueurs, bitter chocolate, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense and supple with ripe blackberry, cocoa, earth and mineral flavors balanced by cool acidity. The finish is long and lush with blackberry, prune, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-school Bourgueil to drink over the next 15 years - delicious now perhaps best from 2020 to 2025.
"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 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." - Domaine du Closel. 2014 is a great vintage for Loire whites, combining excellent ripeness with bright acidity and great balance - the Clos du Papillon shows beautiful aromas of ripe pear and quince with honeysuckle, lime-flower and dried herbs with hints of smoke and earth. The palate is superb, very ripe and dense with white fruits, citrus, almond and stone with very firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors. The finsih is very long with bitter lemon and saline minerals. Drinking beautifully now, this should age well, peak drinking perhaps 2020 to 2025 and beyond. David Lillie
This year we're featuring Chenin Blanc in our Thanksgiving email with two great choices from the Loire Valley. These beautiful wines are great food pairings due to their unique combination of ripe fruit, firm acidity and saline minerals that complement the full-flavored dishes of the holiday table. The 2014 La Jalousie is a particularly great choice as the vintage gave the wine luscious ripeness while retaining the bright acidity so important for balance and freshness. Evelyn de Pontebriand took over her parents’ estate in 2001 after a long career teaching French literature all over the world. As a lover of all things botanical, it did not take long for her to convert the estate to strictly organic farming and she continues to experiment with different vineyard management techniques in her quest to highlight Savennière's austere terroir. Her work in the cellar is very traditional with fermentations occurring naturally with indigenous yeasts and SO2 is used in miniscule doses only if needed. The Chenin Blanc vines from the La Jalousie parcel are 15-20 years old and are planted in sandstone and decomposed quartz schist soils. On the nose it shows classic Savennières aromas of stone fruits, papaya, mango, and waxy citrus fruits. The palate is quite full-bodied and offers luscious tropical fruit anchored by minerals and more juicy citrus. The 2014 is the finest La Jalousie in many years - beautifully balanced and delicious now, but would be interesting to taste in 5-10 years! Tim Gagnon
Guy Bossard is one of the heroes of French viticulture, having rejected modern chemical farming upon assuming the family estate, becoming certified organic in 1972, then progressing to Biodynamic farming in 1996. And this in a region where there was little recognition or financial reward for his intense work and the higher quality of his wines. Happily, Guy has been an inspiration for many growers in the region and is still producing superb wines, while in semi-retirement, with his new associate Fred Niger Van Herck. 2012 and 2013 were problematic in one way or another for growers in Muscadet, but the wines from 2012, a very low-yielding year, are by far the best with great density, lovely fruit and superb mineral expression. The Domaine de l'Ecu 2012 "Granite" is particularly outstanding. As usual with this cuvée it's a bit musty and closed when first opened — decanting is advised — followed by aromas of dusty stone, lemon flower and pear. The palate is dense and vibrant with flint, saline minerals, bitter almond and sharp herbal/citrus flavors with firm acidity in the long stony finish. A bit more open and accessible than some vintages of Granite but with ample structure and acidity for aging — perhaps best 2019 to 2029. Bravo to Guy and Fred!
The Domaine de l'Ecu "Granite" is always among the greatest of Muscadets and a testament to the heroic efforts of Guy Bossard - certified organic in 1975 and Biodynamic in 1998. Frequently a bit musty and closed in it's youth, the 2014 Granite shows surprisingly ripe aromas of dried pear, lime-flower, candied almond, citrus and stone. (On day two, the aromas have become more elegant, complex and quite beautiful) There is ample cool acidity on the palate framing the complex white fruits, stone, citrus and almond flavors that continue on the long very mineral finish. This is a great vintage for Granite - absolutely wonderful now and over the next fifteen years or more...
A delicious demi-sec Chenin Blanc from Alain and Christine Bore! Honey-tinged and luscious on the nose with baked peaches, mango, pineapple, lime zest, heather, red delicious apple skin, and tangerine. Mellow and round on the palate, but balanced with exotic tropical fruits, lemon meringue, salty pineapple, honey, and Marcona almond. Tropical fruit and grapefruit endure on the finish, along with a sweetness that is never cloying. Pair with all kinds of dessert, but a summery fruit tart would be best! Tim Gagnon
Alain and Christine Boré produce delicious organic wines on their estate in Anjou that are sensational values for everyday enjoyment. Their 2015 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
Alain and Christine Bore, the sixth generation of the family at the Domaine du Fresche, produce beautiful certified organic wines on their estate at La Pomeraye, Anjou. The 2015 Anjou Gamay is a fabulous "vin de soif" (easy-drinking, thirst-quenching wine) which shows lovely aromas of ripe raspberry and red-currant with black pepper, violet and citrus. The palate is dense and ripe with red-currant and blackberry fruit but light on its feet with refreshing acidity and perfectly balanced at 12.5% alcohol. A bit deeper and more "serious" than the 2014, this is a simply delicious Gamay to serve quite cool with charcuterie, chicken, grilled pork and mild cheeses and it's a fabulous value at $11.99!
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 really lovely - it's a bit riper and fuller than the 2014 version with lush aromas of blackberry and plum. The palate is round and supple with cool blackberry, cherry and raspberry fruit - quite ripe but lifted by fresh acidity. Serve a bit chilled with chicken, pork, vegetable dishes and mild cheeses. DL
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!
The 2012 Varenne de Combre is the more meditative and linear of the two Anjou whites from Grandes Vignes. Totally dry and crystalline, with great precision and a long mineral finish. This wine should age beautifully, but is also a treat with a little air. Textbook dry Chenin on schist soil... what more could you want? Eben Lillie
Yum! This is a very gulpable Cab Franc from the folks at Domaine les Grandes Vignes. This has very little tannin, and a healthy amount of acidity and ripe red fruit, so it's a shoo-in for the chillable red category. There's nice density and richness, which can be missed with some Loire Valley natural wines (always good to have a medium bodied option in that category). There's no funk here, just pure fruit, so it's an easy fit for the dinner table, even for less "adventurous" palates. Eben Lillie
"Groslot" (which loosely translates to "jackpot") is a humorous play on the name of the grape here, which is known officially as Grolleau Noir. The Vaillant family has definitely hit the jackpot with this wine, one of a lineup of reds without any SO2 added. Grolleau is a grape with plenty of fruit, ample acidity level and a noticeable tannic structure, though the style here is light-handed and fun, so there is barely any grip to this wine. Really vibrant and fresh on the palate with crushed berries and a silky finish. Drink with a chill! Eben Lillie
From 40 to 80 year-old vines on clay over limestone soils around Benais in Bourgueil. Certified organic since 1965! By now the great work of Stephane Guion needs no introduction to CSW customers, but the quality of his 2014 Cuvée Prestige deserves special attention. The wine is perfectly balanced, with the high acidity and mineral content always present in Stephane's wines framed by precisely ripe and supple fruit with depth and elegance. The aromas show raspberry and blackberry liqueur with hints of dark chocolate, earth and licorice, ripe but bright. Supple, ripe berry fruits on the palate with fine tannins and citrusy acids, deep and intense but forward and delicious now. This wine will drink beautifully over the next 20 years or longer and is highly recommended.
From 80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18 month elevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 45 gr/l RS. A very graceful wine. Ripe mango, pineapple stalk, candied grapefruit peel, lychee, and a hint of wool rise from the glass. The palate perfectly balances opulent fruit and sweetness with bright acidity and a scintillating texture. Although approachable now, it'd be great in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux 1er Trie: 11.5% alc, 90 gr/l RS. Gorgeous tropical melon, Meyer lemon, and orange blossom at firston the nose with undertones of baked pear, walnut, and wildflower honey. You do get a sense for the botrytis, with more luscious orange marmalade and very ripe pineapple as well. On the palate it is honeyed, tropical, and almost salty, with an invigorating acidity balancing out the residual sugar. Long and very pretty; this is no doubt a beautiful wine, it will need quite a long time in the cellar to really open up. Tim Gagnon
"Le Haut-Lieu—The original Huët vineyard is nearly 9 hectares. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay—and the wines are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu." 2015 Le Haut Lieu: 13% alcohol, 6 grams/liter RS, 5.6 gr/l acidity.
2015 Le Mont Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 60 gr/l RS. A bit more decadent than the Haut-Lieu Moelleux, it shows notes of lemon meringue, marzipan, orange peel, pear skin, and green apple on the nose. Unctuous and powerful on the palate, the residual sugar is more perceptible, but remains balanced by a dense minerality and a chalky intensity. Grab a few for the cellar and don't think about them for ten or more years! Tim Gagnon
L'Appetillant is the Joussets' sparkling Montlouis, 100% Chenin Blanc, Champagne method (or should we say "Methode Traditionelle") made with no sulfur and no dosage. All cellar functions by gravity, no pumping, fermentation in one to seven year-old barrels, approximately 12 months on the lees. From 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone. This version is absolutely delicious with lovely aromas of pear, lime-flower, stone and caramel, quite subtle and complex. White fruits, citrus and stone on the palate with nice chalky, lemony length. Drink over the next three years. This is a beautiful wine and is highly recommended!
The 2014 Trait d'Union is a wonderful demi-sec Chenin from our new friends Lise and Bertrand Jousset in Montlouis. The vines are 60 to 80 years old, on sand and silex soils over limestone giving yields of 20 to 25 hl/ha. Wild yeast fermentation, aging in 1 to 8 year-old barriques. The wine is a lovely pale gold/bronze color with aromas of earth, lemon, honey, brown spice, lime-flower and ripe pear. The palate is round, ripe and delicate with saline mineral flavors blending with lemon compote, white fruits and stone. Dense but light on its feet, this is a beautiful accompaniment to fois gras or pâtés, scallops, veal stew and goat cheeses.
Simply put, this is top-shelf Pét-Nat for a picnic-friendly price. From organically farmed Chenin vines (45 years of age on average) in Montlouis-sur-Loire in soils of sand and silex over limestone. All cellar operations are by gravity, without pumping, the fermentaion is in 3 to 6 year-old barriques of 225 and 400 liters. The wine is vibrant straw yellow and adorned with a fine mousse. The nose reveals aromas of ripe pear, Granny Smith, lime flower, creamy lemon with heather honey and stone.. A finely chiseled palate is a bit off-dry with hints of dried pear, apple and anise over a core of saline minerals with terrific length. This is a thirst-quenching Pet-Nat, made without sulfur, that happens to be a serious and elegant wine!
A fantastic Cabernet Franc from Quentin Bourse! His dogmatism for perfectly clean, fresh, and delicious wines of nature is as apparent in his farming practices (his estate has been certified biodynamic for over 10 years) as it is in the cellar where all fermentations occur naturally and no SO2 is used for the red wines; a miniscule amount for the whites. Dusty dark plum, cranberry, and a mélange of black berry fruits rise from the glass, with even darker tones of cocoa, licorice, anise, and damp soil. Pleasantly ripe on the palate, dark fruit gives way to earth and pepper backed by sturdy tannins. This is on the short list for the ultimate wine to pair with roast chicken and root vegetables. Tim Gagnon
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
From a superb hillside vineyard on orthogneiss with clay and quartz stones. A great vintage for Jo's Fief du Breil! Yes, the aromatics are a bit more pronounced than in more austere vintages, and there is more presence of citrus and white fruits on the palate, but the wine retains a superb mineral character and the finish is brisk and very long. Simply a great Muscadet — drinking this alongside the Pepiere Clos des Briords would be a great lesson in the terroirs of the Pays Nantais! Tasted in February 2016, the wine is still youthful although the aromas are opening a bit, with intense minerality on the palate and fabulous length. Delicious now, this will be fabulous in 2025! Brisk enough for oysters and clams, perfect with cod, sole and flounder, complex enough for monkfish and swordfish - hurry down to Blue Moon Fish at the Greenmarket this Saturday!
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the weight of the 2014 perhaps, but still a very stylish Muscadet for current drinking and medium-term aging as well The wine shows complex aromas including pear, citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is crystalline and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious, with a nice bit of crisp, bitter acidity in the finish. 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 Chateau Thebaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2015 would be perfect today with a filet of sole.
Christophe Foucher at La Lunotte makes brilliant natural wines on his tiny estate in Coufy, near our friends at Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. He practices uncompromising organic work in the vineyard and vinifies without sulfur and bottles by hand. His 2014 Menu Pineau "Haut Plessis" is wonderful, as usual, but suffering a bit from it's relative youth and the ripeness of the vintage. Give the wine many hours in a carafe, or open the night before if drinking soon. With aeration the wine shows intriguing aromas of thistle, lemon zest and dried pear. The palate shows creamy lemon, stone, pear, caramel and earth flavors. Serve with vegetable soups, fish or chicken is sauce, goat cheeses.
Christophe Foucher makes brilliant natural wines on his 5 hectare estate, La Lunotte, in Couffy, on the southern bank of the Cher River, near St. Aignan, just a short distance from our friends at Clos Roche Blanche. Christophe grows Sauvignon Blanc, Menu Pineau, Cabernet Franc, Cot and Gamay, farmed with strict organic methods and vinified without sulfites or other additives and bottled by hand, unfiltered. The 2014 Rossignoux is a lovely natural Sauvignon that needs aeration for an hour or two before tasting. The wine is an opaque gold color and shows yellow fruit aromas with herbal and leafy notes, stone, pear and white pepper. The palate is rich and dense with peach, ripe pear, stone and earthy flavors athat develop nicely with time open. Serve this unusual and delicious wine with monkfish, chicken with mushrooms, full-flavored cheeses... Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines.
It’s been two years since we’ve seen any red wine from Christophe Foucher of La Lunotte, and we are thrilled to have it back! An engineering teacher-turned-winemaker, Christophe began farming his in-laws’ 5.5 hectares of vines in Couffy (within the Touraine AOC, though he declassifies his wines as Vin de France) full-time in 2000. Conversion to organic farming began only a year later, and he committed fully to the natural wine movement soon after. La Flou is 100% Cabernet Franc that is partially destemmed, fermented with native yeasts, and bottled without the use of SO2 or other additives at any time during the winemaking process. Compared with the last release of this wine, the 2015 offers more density and texture with dusty, plummy fruit on the nose along with aromas of white pepper, violet petals, and savory rhubarb. The palate is deep and dark with a fair amount of structure, pure blackberry fruit, and baking spice. A bit more serious than your average glouglou, serve with a slight chill and pair with roasted chicken, cured meats, or pork loin. Tim Gagnon
This is a beautiful Gamay from the talented Noella Morantin, who acquired part of the Clos Roche Blanche vineyard and other parcels above the Cher River in Pouillé, Touraine. The 2015 Mon Cher is from old vines, vinified in carbonic maceration, and shows lovely aromas of morello cherry, strawberry and red currant with hints of rose and forest floor. The palate is lively and bright at 12% alcohol, with ripe sappy red fruits, earth, mineral and citrus flavors that continue in the refreshing finish. This is a very pretty and versatile wine that will accompany charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool and enjoy! DL
Organic farming on Gabbro soils, hand harvetsing and wild yeast fermntations with no chaptalization produce light, very mineral flavored wines at Domaine Parentiere. The 2014 Muscadet Vieilles Vignes shows intriguing aromas of citrus, ripe melon, almond, anise and stone, quite typical of Muscadet from Gabbro soils. Pear, melon, citrus, and stone flavors continue on the palate with an earthy finish of meyer lemon and firm acidity. At 11.4% alcohol it's light but full-flavored, perfect with oysters of course, but will accompany sole, flounder, cod and richer fish like monk and halibut as well, not to mention roast chicken and mild cheeses. A fabulous value!
The Parentière Fraîcheur Iodée de L'Atlantique, which roughly translates as "Atlantic sea-spray" is made from Gros Plant (aka Folle Blanche) grown on gabbro soils near Vallet in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine region. Domaine de la Parentière is a tiny estate which has been practicing organic agriculture for more than 30 years—the grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with wild yeasts and the wines are never chaptalized, remaining light, mineral and refreshing. The 2014 is a bit softer than usual and shows intriguing aromas of ripe melon, bitter lemon, almond, fresh herbs and stone. The palate is lively and light at 10.2% alcohol with pear, citrus, melon and stone flavors with a fresh lemony finish. This will be very refreshing on a hot day, especially with oysters, prosciutto and melon, terrines, salads and fried fish, etc, etc. Did we say this is an amazing value?
This Muscadet "la Pépie" from Domaine de la Pépière is a "negoce" wine that combines the last bottling of the 2015 Pépière with purchased juice from a neighboring vineyard. The wine shows ripe aromas of pear and citrus with stone and herbal notes. The palate is a bit rounder than the 2015 Pépière with pear, melon and stone flavors. While this lacks the focus and length of the previous versions, it's still a nice bottle of Muscadet that will help make up for the tiny quantity produced in 2016 due to frost.
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river. The granite here is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009 and 2010 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2012 is outstnding as well from this somewhat difficult low-yielding vintage. More austere than the previous vintages, the 2012 shows subtle aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus, almond and stone, quite subtle and elegant. The palate has excellent weight and concentration with firm acidity, without the forward fruit of the 2009 - very tight and mineral in style with terrific length. Fabulous served now with oysters, ceviche of cod, flounder and sole, and grilled fish, This should age beautifully for 20 years and more. Highly recommended. Tasted again in December of 2016, this beautiful Muscadet is beginning to open up a bit, with lovely fruit appearing in the aromas and palate, really drinking well, though obviously a wine that will benefit from another five years of aging, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
(First produced in 2008, 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 2015 vintage was a great relief to vignerons in the Loire and elsewhere as generally sunny, dry weather brought an ample harvest with good yields for the first time since 2010. In the words of Remi Branger: "For a description of the 2015 vintage, we had a quite beautiful growing season and dry weather in August (the grapes were lacking a bit of water), then at the end of August we had rain, but a bit too much, and this swelled the grapes. Fortunately the grapes stayed healthy and the harvest was beautiful, on September 10th, with good acidity, but a bit less concentration than in 2014. The 2015 Briords has developed well - personally, I find it quite fine and precise." Fine is a good description for the 2015 Briords. It shows subtle aromas of white fruits - pear and apple, nice ripeness, with wet stone and herbal notes. The palate is predominantly minerals with citrus and stone flavors, dried pear and thyme, with good length, quite focused and very elegant, with a crystalline structure and very firm acidity in the finish. At 12% alcohol, the wine has lovely balance and will drink beautifully young - it should develop the secondary aromas and flavors of mature Muscadet at 5 to 8 years and drink well for another 10 years. Thanks to the team at Pépière for another lovely Clos des Briords!
Among the first releases from Julien Pineau, the new proprietor at Clos Roche Blanche, is this beautiful and somewhat unusual Cabernet Franc. The wine undergoes a three-week whole-cluster fermentation, followed by aging in old barrels with minimal sulfur. The aromas are subtle and deep with blackberry, red currant, violet, spice, licorice and earth. Lovely round blackberry and strawberry fruit on the palate - earthy, smokey and quite mineral. The wine has unique, very pretty aromas and flavors that are not "typical" of Cabernet Franc . It's a lovely natural wine and a fascinating expression of the living soils at this great estate. David Lillie
Ever since we heard the news that Julien Pineau and Laurent Saillard would each be taking over half of the famed Clos Roche Blanche estate upon Catherine and Didier's retirement last summer, we were excitedly awaiting the 2015s. Julien’s wines have now arrived and are absolutely fantastic! This pét nat is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and is a refreshing, yet somewhat savory wine that is very intriguing. It is high-toned and quite exotic on the nose with notes of red currant, tangerine pith, tamarind, and brown spice. The palate is gently sparkling, juicy, and tart with a lip-smacking acidity, almost like biting into a mandarin orange. There is also a strong presence of red berries and a hint of peach. Tim Gagnon
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
This is a lovely Pineau d'Aunis and a worthy successor to the reds and rosés made from this great vineyard by our friends Catherine Roussel and Didier Barrouillet until their recent retirement. Continuing their exemplary vineyard work, the young Julien Pineau (no relation to the grapes of the same name) has a slightly different style in the cellar. This delicious wine undergoes a two-week whole-cluster fermentation in vat with a tiny addition of SO2, but with none added at bottling. The wine shows beautiful aromas of red currant, cranberry, rose, white pepper and plum. The palate is bright and balanced with pretty berry fruits, crisp acidity and terrific length. The Clos Roche Blanche lives on in this beautiful Pineau D'Aunis! David Lillie
After a disastrous hail-storm in 2012 and tiny yields in 2013, Francois Pinon finally has wine to sell and from an outstanding vintage. Tasting through samples of his 2014s in February we were thrilled by these beautiful wines, clearly among the very best of the appellation. The Silex Noir is from parcels of clay over limestone with black flint, giving wines with a unique mineral character and complex, open aromas. The 2014 is superbly balanced at 12.1% alcohol and 15 grams of RS with very firm acidity. Lovely citrus, dried pear, licorice and floral aromas with full-bodied palate of minerals, white fruits and citrus, finishing with good acidity. Though quite delicious now, this is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or aging, perhaps best 2025 to 2035.
For years we kept seeing small piles of sparkling rosé lining the walls of Francois Pinon's cellar. Finally we asked — is there enough for a small shipment to NY? And so this delicious blend of Malbec and Grolleau - from vines planted by François' grandfather - finally reached Chambers Street! The 2014 is a very pale orange/pink color with lovely aromas of strawberry, red currant and peach. The red fruits continue on the palate, balanced nicely by earth, citrus and mineral flavors that continue in the refreshing finish. This is a beautiful and crowd-pleasing rosé that's wonderful now and will drink beautifully for many years - a 1990 tasted a few years ago was sensational. Highly recommended. DL
From a plot of very old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2012 and it's their best ever - a bit dryer than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, it's delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
A lovely young Chinon Picasses with the beautiful aromatic profile of this great vineyard — tart cherry, strawberry compote, earth and white pepper — really lovely. Earthy red and black fruits on the palate with the usual bracing acidity. Nice finish of "sous-bois," fruit compote and earth with juicy acids. A great food wine, perfect with roast chicken. We thank the young Eric de la Vigerie who is doing great work at Domaine Olga Raffault, and we remember wonderful tastings with Ernest Zenninger, partner and winemaker for Olga Raffault from 1947 till the late 1980s.
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2012 was a quite successful vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2012 Raffault "Les Picasses" is a surprisingly full-bodied wine, showing ripe strawberry, blackberry, and cooked prune with a fabulous earthy core of stone and mineral flavors. The palate is dense with blackberry, prune, citrus, earth, licorice and cocoa with a long fresh finish. Ripe and forward enough to drink now with anything from roast chicken to steak, the 2012 should age beautifully, perhaps best 2020 to 2030 and beyond...? David Lillie
The Olga Raffault "Champ Chenin" has always been one of the great white Chinons, often needing 10 years of aging before it would reveal its mysteries. Happily, the wine is now made in a more approachable style, without losing the intensity and ability to age of this lovely Chenin. The 2015 shows striking aromas of pear and apple liqueur, dried herbs and white pepper with hints of exotic fruits. The palate is elegant and firmly structured, with subtle white fruits, citrus peel and stone flavors. The finish is long, with lemony acids, stone and saline mineral flavors. This is a lovely and very distinctive Chenin Blanc that will accompany grilled fish, roast chicken and mild cheeses - or hold for five to twenty years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce. David Lillie
From 25 year-old Chenin Blanc vines in a mid-slope parcel of thin clay and silex soils on limestone, yields of 25 hl/ha, certified organic with biodynamic methods as well, fermented and aged in 4 to 6 year-old barriques. The wine shows subtle aromas of lemon verbena, ripe pear, earth and stone, with hints of anise and melon. The palate is very earthy and mineral with ripe white fruits, citrus, caramel and anise, quite dense and long. This will open up nicely with time. Serve now, decant if possible, with halibut, swordfish, monkfish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses, or hold for ten+ years. This is a lovely Jasnières and a great value!
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. This lovely Jasnières shows subtle aromas of earth, citrus, lime-flower, pear, anise and wet stone with a hint of honeysuckle. Hints of yellow and white fruits on the palate with very firm acidity and saline stone flavors with bitter citrus and earth in the finish. This is a beautiful young Jasnières to enjoy now with grilled fish, shellfish, roast chicken and goat cheeses - or cellar five to ten years and serve with fish or chicken in sauce and aged cheeses. This is a fabulous value and highly recommended!
Every Thanksgiving list needs a Pineau d'Aunis and this year's candidate is the superb "La Belle d'Aunis" from our new friend Sebastien Cornille. As Karina says, it's an "aromatically complex light red" that will be lovely on turkey day, served cool. And consider the pretty "La Guinguette" from Roche Bleue that adds a bit of Gamay and there are excellent options from Clos du Tue Boeuf and Olivier Bonhomme as well.Fans of taut, aromatically complex light reds (think Piedmontese Ruché or a well-crafted carbonic Gamay) take note! Sébastien Cornille has hit it out of the park with this 100% Pineau d'Aunis: freshly cracked pepper and generous rose blossoms on the nose lead into crisp red strawberries, cherries, and sweet plum skins. The snap of tannin on the finish is addictive, bracing the palate for more while the earthiness is pleasingly textural, countering soft, sheer aromatics with a cool mineral crunch. This bottling of what is often used as a blending grape takes full advantage of the clay, silex, and limestone soils and meticulous farming at Roche Bleue to craft a terroir and varietal expressive wine that is a must for lovers of floral, lighter-bodied reds. Delicious served with a slight chill. Karina Mackow
While we were already in love with the whites from Sébastien Cornille at Domaine de Roche Bleu, we weren’t sure what to expect from the reds. In short, we were blown away. They were lithe and energetic with underlying earthy, mineral notes and exuberant fruit. My personal favorite was La Guingette. Made from a blend of 80% Pineau d’Aunis and 20% Gamay sourced from 30+-year-old vines, 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. Compared to La Belle d’Aunis, it offers more density with velvety black cherry and strawberry fruit on top of white pepper, grapefruit pith, crushed violet petal, and a hint of sage. Tim Gagnon
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 2015 L'Orée de la Berterie shows lovely ripe aromas - peach, pear, and kiwi with almond, floral and mineral notes. Dried pear, citrus peel, stone and herbal notes on the palate with a quite firm citrus and mineral finish. This is a scintillating young Chenin that will open up over the next five to ten years. Serve with ceviche of fluke, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses. This is a lovey wine and a great value! DL
Frothy pet nat deliciousness from Sébastien Cornille! 100% direct-press Pineau d’Aunis; it is ever-so-slightly pink in the bottle. After pressing, the juices were fermented in 6-8 year old barrels before being assembled at bottling in November. Secondary fermentation occurred naturally in the bottle and it was finally disgorged in July. It is delicate on the nose with aromas of white peach, red currant, orange blossom, and a hint of cherry. The palate is fresh and invigorating, with perhaps the slightest hint of residual sugar, and loaded with subtle red and yellow fruits, tangerine, hints of spice and a honey-tinged stoniness. It’s a simple wine – fresh, fruity, and easy to drink making it an excellent choice for parties of all kinds. To quote a colleague, “This is the perfect breakfast wine!” Tim Gagnon
Frantz Saumon consistently makes some of the most compelling wines in Montlouis. The soils here are shallow, but rich in clay and silex with a limestone base, making for chiseled wines that with an emphasis on purity and minerality. Minéral+ is made from 100% Chenin Blanc sourced from all of Frantz’s parcels in an effort to showcase all terroirs present in Montlouis. The nose is rife with yellow citrus fruits, honeysuckle, and smoked sea salt. The palate is much more airy and cerebral, very dry as well, with a punch of citrus and tangy minerals framed by a racy acidity and fleshy texture. I find it to be an incredibly polished wine, begging to be served with your Thanksgiving, be it a traditional feast or something more exotic involving seafood or spicy Schezuan cuisine. Did I mention that this is a magnum? Tim Gagnon
From a "clos" of older vines on clay and limestone soils, 28 days of fermentation, aged one year in three year-old barrels. The 2012 Champ Fou shows deep black/red color and ripe aromas of blackberry liqueur and red currant with hints of blueberry, chocolate and mint. The palate is cool and ripe with very supple black fruits beautifully balanced with juicy acidity and mineral flavors in the finish. The palate deepens with time open, the fruit becomes more lush and deep. Really lovely for current drinking, this will improve with three to five years in the cellar. Fabulous value! - David Lillie
From one hectare of Chenin Blanc on clay soils over Turuonien limestone. The 2013 La Coulée d'Aunis is a somewhat austere but beautiful wine showing subtle aromas of pear, stone, citrus, fine herbs and honeysuckle. The palate is lean and mineral with chalk and stone flavors framing pear, almond and citrus. This is a really lovely Chenin of terroir that will accompany shellfish, crab, grilled fish, roast chicken and mild cheeses. Cellar for ten years for a mature experience...
Jean-Paul Labaille continues the great work of his father-in-law Claude Thomas, creating one of the finest Sancerres from vines in "les Monts Damnees," an incredibly steep-south facing hillside in Chavignol on Kimmeridgian limestone and red clay. The 2015 is a great example of this wine, with complex, very elegant aromas of lemon oil, dried pear, apple and quince, lime-flower, boxwood, and stone. Really lovely! The palate is ripe and full but with firm acidity, elegant white fruits, saline minerals, citrus and earth, with just a touch of honeysuckle. Lovely finish of creamy pear and apple with firm acidity. This is a great Sancerre that is drinking beautifully now but don't hesitate to cellar for five to ten years. David Lillie
Jean-Paul Labaille makes this lovely Sancerre from parcels in Chavignol, In the warm 2015 vintage the wine shows pretty aromas of lime-flower, white fruits, melon, herbs and citrus. The palate shows lovely ripe fruit and a supple texture and is nicely balanced by firm acidity with nice stone and saline mineral flavors in the finish.
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Gamay from a small parcel of clay and flint soils over limestone of Blois. 2015 is a great vintage for the reds from Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat at Clos du Tue-Boeuf as the wines show lovely ripeness while retaining lovely balance and freshness. The 2015 Rouillon shows bright, floral tart plum, raspberry and wild strawberry aromas with citrus and earth. The palate is light but sappy with wild strawberry, plum skin, earth and spice. The finish is long with citrus and mineral flavors and a bit of tannin. Irresistible now, this should be very interesting after a few years in the cellar. 12.5% alcohol, zero or minimal SO2. David Lillie
Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat make this outstanding Sauvignon Blanc from a one hectare parcel in Pouillé, with sand and gravel over limestone, giving very low yields. An intense and beautiful wine in 2015, with aromas of lemon peel, pear, dried herbs, lime flower and pine resin. The palate is dense and ripe with dried white fruits, lemon oil and earth backed by firm acidity. Beautifully structured and very long, this is an outstanding and unusual Sauvignon Blanc to serve with fish or chicken in sauce and full-flavored goat cheeses. Delicious now, the wine should be very interesting with 5 to 10 years of cellaring. Highly recommended. (The name literally translated is "squalid bush" but we hope it refers rather to the limestone of Pouillé...?)
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 mostly organic methods, plowing (sometimes with horses), harvesting by hand and fermenting with wild yeasts. The 2015 is quite delicious, showing pretty aromas of lemon, exotic fruit, lime-flower and stone, with a bit of extra ripeness in this very warm vintage. The palate is balanced with firm acidity and saline minerals framing lemon, guava and white fruits with a long, dry and mineral finish. This is a very stylish Sauvignon Blanc and a great value. DL
"Romorantin, the official grape of the Cour-Cheverny AOC, appreciates sandy clay/limestone soils where it offers a wine of great character that mixes elegant vegetal and floral notes (cut grass, violets, a touch of mint), often slightly honeyed with notes of ripe fruit (roast pear) lightly marked by the elevage in old barrels. The finish is fresh, tight with saline minerals and bitter anise. A wine with good aging potential." (Villemade.net) In 2014, the "Les Acacias" is simply outstanding and very distinctive, offering aromas of ripe peach and pear with spice, floral, caramel and oxidative notes. The palate is very round and ripe with stone, peach, earth and almond flavors, with fabulous length with honeyed lemon, anise and minerals. Superb wine, to drink now or in 10 to 20 years. David Lillie
Hervé Villemade makes delicious natural wines on his organic certified estate in Cellettes, within the Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny appellations. This delightful 100% Romorantin shows lovely aromas of lemon verbena, fines herbes, melon and almond; very firm acidity on the ripe, dense palate with lemon, stone, melon and herbal flavors. Long finish of citrus and mineral flavors. This is an outstanding Romo and a great value - serve with melon and prosciutto, seafood, Asian foods, cheeses and patés.
Mostly Pineau D'Aunis (90%) with a touch of Gamay from sandy/flint soils. It's delightfully floral on the nose, with the fascinating herbal notes that one usually finds from Pineau D'Aunis cuvées. Mineral, and very fresh... with a lingering chalky finish. Eben Lillie
Our friend Olivier Lemasson crafts this blend of Grolleau and Côt (Malbec), from organically farmed vineyards in the Loire Valley. Carbonic maceration, with minimal sulfur added at bottling. This is extremely drinkable, with black cherry on the nose, vibrant herbal and vegetal notes, and subtle tannin. A joy to drink!
Somehow balancing freshness and bright red fruit with serious structure, this is a knockout from Lemasson. 100% Malbec or "Côt," as they call it in the Loire, this is spicy, earthy, and super finessed. There seems to be ample acidity and tannin here for aging. I know the jury's not out on aging no-SO2 wines, but I will note that I drank a bottle of the 2003 Cheville de Fer with Olivier at his home and it was absolutely breathtaking. A beautiful, mature wine, with fascinating aromas, a silky texture, and a never-ending finish. I remember opening my eyes wide after tasting the '03 and looking over to see Olivier simply nodding his head. He raised his finger and reminded me: "No sulfur!" Eben Lillie
From old vines of Gamay, this is a significant wine in 2015. The nose is vibrant and generous, and the palate is full, with black cherry, leather, earth, and hints of baking spice. It's concentrated and deep, but maintains great balance in the finish. Bravo!Eben Lillie
For fans of fun, fresh Loire Valley reds, search no further. This is all Gamay, in it's most fresh and vibrant form. 11% alcohol, and ready for a chill. No sulfur added. Eben Lillie