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We're very excited about the arrival of the superb 2014 Chinon "Cuvee Domaine" from Bernard and Matthieu Baudry. All Cabernet Franc of course, a blend of 75% from a parcel in St. Louans, where the thin clay/limestone soils give earthy well-structured wines, with 25% from gravel soils near Cravant, giving supple fruit and freshness. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentation, aging in 5 to 10 year-old wooden vats and casks. Tasted from barrel in February of 2016 the wine was quite beautiful , if a bit closed, showing lovely pure red fruit aromas with a supple, ripe palate, very deep and long and framed in perfect earthy acidity. Upon arrival in NY (October 2016), the wine is singing, with aromas of wild strawberry and red currant with white pepper, earth and cocoa. The palate is fresh and balanced with pretty red fruits, earth and citrus notes, really long and lovely. This will be a superb and unique Chinon, both to drink young and for cellaring of fifteen to twenty years. Serve cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie, green vegetables and mild cheeses. Highly recommended. DL (Those who want a bit of the mature experience should: open the bottle, taste - yum - re-cork and put in fridge; wait three days, enjoy!) Featured in the NY Times "20 Wines Under $20" 01/12/17
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In 2014, the Baudrys produced superb wines with perfect balance and lovely, pure fruit. Their precise vinifications, matched to each different terroir, with no new oak, minimal sulfur, and elevage of the right length and in the right barrel, foudre or vat, gave elegant and delicous results. The 2014 Clos Guillot is a black/purple color with red rim, showing intense aromas of red currant, boysenberry, blackberry, fines herbs, citrus and stone with hints of dark chocolate and musk. The palate shows bright, lush, sappy red and black fruits with bright acidity lifting the flavors and coating the palate with citrusy red fruits, saline minerals and wet stone. Beautiful wine! Case quantities are possible, but don't delay. DL
(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 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. The wine shows aromas of ripe raspberry and strawberry with hints of earth, stone, pepper and herbs. The palate is quite mineral with firm stony acids underlying lush berry fruits, and is beautifully balanced at 12% alcohol. Quite structured for "les Granges," this is delicious now, served cool, with roast chicken, white meats, charcuterie and mild cheeses and will imporve with 3 to 5 years of aging.
From old vines on the upper slopes of Bourgueil, where the clay over Turonien chalk gives magnificent long-lasting wines. Vinified with zero sulfur-dioxide, the 2010 Nuits D'Ivresse has deep aromas of strawberry confit, earth and spice. The palate is round but balanced and fresh. Buy a case and drink half now, wait 5 to 8 years for the rest. "It's a search for purity of fruit according to the principals of Jules Chauvet, a wine of "Pure Origine" without additives."
Tasted twice in February 2016 and 2017, the 2011 Les Perrières has impressed both times with it's structure and complexity, showing dense, deep earthy red fruits with meaty and herbal notes. There is ample tannin for aging, but there is good ripeness that opens up nicely with decanting. This superb Bourgueil will accompany grilled pork and beef and full-flavored cheeses. Decant 3 to 4 hours in advance if serving now, or cellar - best perhaps 2020 to 2030. DL
One of our favorite Loire reds, the Breton Nuits D'Ivresse is a selection of old vines on a terroir of clay and limestone. The wine is vinified, aged and bottled without the addition of sulfur, preserving it's lovely fruit aromas. The 2012 has complex somewhat "sauvage" red fruit and earthy notes and a medium-bodied palate. 2012 is a lovely vintage for Loire reds with vibrant fruit and bright acidity making them great food wines — carafe, serve cool and enjoy with charcuterie, pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses...
This delicious Bourgueil is from young vines on clay and gravel soils over limestone, harvested by hand into small baskets and vinified to extract the primary aromas. Trinch is particularly yummy in 2015, a sunny vintage bringing wines with lush, supple fruit, and a bit less acidity than the norm. The color is dense red/black with deep aromas of blackberry, violet and bitter chocolate with a hint of roast meat. Intense black fruits on the palate with earthy, saline minerals, musk and citrus, very supple and ripe with a nice bright finish. This is a great thirst-quenching Bourgueil to serve cool with charcuterie, roast chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses.
The 2010 Le Clos from Vincent Careme is a superb off-dry Vouvray (20 grams/liter of RS) that is a bit softer than the wonderful 2008, showing brilliant aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really lovely! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with fish or chicken in sauce, foie gras and mild cheeses, or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience...
Our friend Francois Pinon feels that the best expression of Chenin Blanc is often somewhere between sec and demi-sec, sometimes called "Tradition," and this lovely wine, at 14 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol, fits the bill perfectly. The Clos Habert is a 3 hectare parcel on clay with silex stones ("Les Peruches") over the white limestone Tuffeau. Full and elegant with white fruits, citrus and stone, this beautfully structured and crystalline Chenin Blanc will accompany fish and chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses and will age wonderfully for fifteen to 20 years.
The Domaine du Closel "Caillardières" is a demi-sec Savennières that we have enjoyed immensely in the past - we're glad to see it back in the US and we can't wait to try it! "The grapes are harvested later ; the berries are golden, producing wines with aromas of baked apple, exotic fruits, raisins and toasted almonds. That terroir gives the wine a very silky texture, characteristic of these sandstone schist parcels. This wine is vinified and aged in barrels (French oak, 12 months) and reveals through natural micro-oxygenation this slightly bitter aftertaste that will give an interesting body to the wine. Rather smooth on the palate this wine has character. It pairs very well with artichokes or asparagus, other vegetables difficult to pair with wine. It is also popular with sweet and savory dishes such as veal stew with orange, monkfish with honey and cider vinegar, roasted pork with pineapple." - from the Domaine du Closel website.
The 2015 Clos du Papillon has just arrived in NY - it promises to be a great vintage for this wonderful Savennières, certainly one of the top wines of the appellation. We will post a tasting note ASAP, meanwhile here is information from the domain's website: "The Clos du papillon is a small valley at mid slope, beautifully exposed southwest to the light of the Loire. There are schist, rhyolite but also quartz. The topsoil layer is very shallow (60 cm) which provides excellent drainage for rainwater. The vine growing conditions are difficult, forcing it to develop its roots deep in the rock cracks to draw nutrients. The climate in that parcel allows for a level of highly advanced maturity. With grapes that concentrate aromas under the action of Botrytis. The Clos du papillon is harvested in two selections : The first selection during the « Fresh Fruit aroma » period and the second one later with some botrytis during the « cooked fruit, quince and smoked aromas » period. Both selections are put in barrels and assembled 16 months later. The wine then remains a few months in vats. This assemblage of the two styles of grapes results in a full bodied wine, with a citrus finish on very first attack, followed by sensations of ripe and exotic fruit with a very distinguished touch of bitterness or toasted almonds on the finish. The long aging on the lees gives it a nice smoothness. The « brandy » nose is characterized by aromas of evolution. The body and the very long finish make the Clos du Papillon a gastronomic wine to accompany lobster, scallops, smoked fish, Turbots, Saint Peter. It is also interesting with delicate white meats such as veal or capon, along with truffles or mushrooms. Classic mountain cheeses like old Salers, or 5 to 6 years old Comté are equally delicious with this great Savennières."
2015 is a beautiful vintage for the superb Savennières of Domaine du Closel. La Jalousie shows subtle, complex aromas of citrus peel, pear, almond, stone , lime-flower and honeysuckle which follow through on the perfectly balanced palate. The fruit is lush and ripe but there is great acidity and minerality as well - the wine is elegant and very delicious in its youth, - serve with fish in sauce, scallops, monkfish, chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
The Dauny Family has been farming vineyards in Sancerre since 1683, with Nicole and Christian Dauny being the 12th generation to make wine in this famed appellation. The vineyards were converted to organic agriculture in 1964 and the Daunys strive to work as naturally as possible in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. The rosé Pynoz comes from younger vines of Pinot Noir, and is quite a rich, full-bodied and textured expression of rosé. Dominated by red-fruit, strawberry, and under-ripe raspberry, there is a touch of herbaceousness and an underlying stony minerality that balances the wine. Oskar Kostecki
This offering from Deboutbertin is 100% Grolleau from a parcel on Schiste and sandstone, from vines that were planted in 1950. The vineyard is tiny, at 25 ares (a bit more than a half-acre), and yields are quite low, at about 20hl/ha. The 2015 is a bit more elegant than the previous vintage, with really fine tannin and a long finish. There's a hint of "barnyard" on the nose, with plenty of the vibrant fruit on the palate, and though it's relatively dark in the glass, at 10.5% alcohol, it's super easy to drink! Serve with a slight chill. Eben Lillie
Proprietor Denis Jamain has taken this estate to new levels of quality with organic and biodynamic farming. The 2014 Pierres Plates shows lovely aromas of grapefruit and pear with fresh herbs, lime flower and stone. The palate is ripe with dried pear, citrus, herbal, smoke and mineral flavors balanced by firm acidity. This is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc (better than most Sancerres) to serve with broiled fish, chicken, quiches/omelettes and goat cheeses.
The wines of Denis Jamain at the Domaine de Reuilly are getting better and better - his 2016 Rosé of Pinot Gris is from vines in conversion to organic and biodynamic certification, fermented with wild yeasts. The color is a lovely pale onion skin, the aromas are floral and pretty with gooseberry, peach and citrus. Light berry, peach and stone flavors on the palate are framed in firm acidity. With good ripeness, but subtle and balanced, this unique rosé will accompany a wide variety of foods, from fish to grilled meats and Asian foods, and it's lovely to sip by itself!
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
This is a full-bodied and very delicious Cabernet Franc from our organic friends Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. The wine shows intense aromas of blackberry liqueur with hints of black pepper, bitter chocolate, roast meats and licorice. The palate is very ripe and supple with blackberry and black-cherry fruit framed in firm acidity. The finish is long with mineral and berry flavors with juicy acidity. Great for current drinking, served cool, or short-term cellaring. Serve with anything grilled, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
This Sauvignon Blanc comes from biodynamically farmed grape vines very close to the more famous appellation of Sancerre in the eastern Loire Valley. A far cry from the crisp and facile Sancerres that have given the appellation and the grape their reputations, this wine offers complex aromas of lemon thyme and lemon balm, a delicious melding of citrus and herbal aromas, and nice density in the mid-palate.
This Brut Nature from Domaine les Grandes Vignes is a blend of Gamay and Groslot in Biodynamic farming, naturally vinified with zero sulfur added. Dark pink garnet color; lovely aromas of red currant, candied strawberry and violets. Soft bubbles with ripe red currant and berry fruits - quite rich but dry and balanced, really delicious! Serve as an aperitif or with a meal - perect at a picnic with chicken or veggies. Bravo to the Vaillant family for great farming and natural vinifications.
If you have a sweet tooth, this Chenin is for you! Bonnezeaux is one of a few sweet wine appellations in the Loire Valley, where grapes are required to be over-ripe, and are sometimes affected by noble rot. "Le Malabé" has about 130 grams of residual sugar, but I honestly thought it was about 80g when I first tasted this wine, thanks to the high acidity and the ample minerality that the schiste soils provide. Just bringing the wine to the nose, one is greeted with honey, quince and with some subtle sweet spice aromas that tickle the senses. On the palate, it's dense, ripe and absolutely delicious. Francois from Grandes Vignes mentioned to me that 2013 was OK for reds in the Loire, very good for their dry Chenin Blanc, and exceptional for the sweet wines. Case in point! Drink now if you're craving sometime sweet, or age for decades. Eben Lillie
This is a Methode Ancestrale sparkling white of Grolleau Gris, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Disgorgement is after about 6 months on the lees, and the wine is made without added sulfur. It's dry and delicious - a great aperitif and a really versatile sparkler that will pair well with a wide variety of foods and is equally enjoyable and charming on it's own. Eben Lillie
Chenin Blanc fermented and aged in amphora with no sulfur added. It's not a common occurrence, but we're very happy to have the opportunity to share this unique wine. The nose is floral, and stony, with hints of stone fruit, but the really fascinating aspect of the wine is the texture. Just letting the wine sit on the palate, I experienced earthiness (possible, but rare for a white wine), crystalline acidity, density in the mid-palate, and a long, mineral finish. Highly recommended for Chenin aficionados and those who are interested in the growing category of amphora wines. Eben Lillie
This is Anjou Cabernet Franc from gravel/schist and sandy clay soils. The grapes undergo 3 days of maceration followed by aging in 2-3 year-old barrels, and the wine is bottled without filtration or added sulfur. It's quite funky on the nose, almost deceivingly so, as it's totally pure on the palate. Plenty of red fruit, spice, eucalyptus, and earth... really classic Cab Franc in many ways, but with a little edginess. Eben Lillie
This is a beautiful Cab Franc from Marc Houtin at la Grange aux Belles in Anjou. In a very diferent style than in Chinon or Bourgueil, the wine shows lovely aromas of black raspberry, strawberry and prune with earth, musk and blood orange. The palate is supple and silky with a melange of black and red fruits, cocoa and violet with nice lifting acidity. Light but dense with good length and a very pretty finish of velvety red fruits and refreshing acidity. Lovely wine! Serve cool over the next five years or so, with roast chicken, pork and middle-eastern dishes.
From 80 year-old vines in "Petits Monts" and "Grand Monts" towards the top of the slope above Benais, facing roughly south-west, clay over Turonien limestone (tuffeau, craie micacée). This is the terroir giving the most elegant and age-worthy Bourgueils. 18 month elevage ; 40% in cuve inox, 20% in one new 400 liter barrel, 20% in one-year and 20% in two-year old barrels, assembled two months before bottling. Tasted in February 2016, the wine was fairly closed and tight, with deep, pure black fruits and perfect balance. This will be a sensational mature wine, best to wait eight to ten years, or more, then drink until 2040.
This is another beautiful wine from the shy and affable Stephane Guion who is quietly making some of the best wines in Bourgueil. His 2015 Cuvèe Domaine is from young (15 to 40 year-old) vines on clay/limestone terroir in Benais and is one of the finest he has made, certainly equaling the delicious 2014 in a riper style. The wine shows aromas of blackberry confit, dark chocolate and violets - very deep and ripe but still bright with ripe raspberry and earthy hints as well. The palate is medium-bodied and fresh with firm acidity and 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 and at 12% alcohol shows that ripeness, even in a vintage like 2015, can be achieved without high alcohol. Thanks to Stephane Guion!
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
"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.
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 fermentation 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!
Chenin Blanc from two terroirs in Montlouis - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, yields of 30 hl/ha, aged in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels. The 2015 Premier Rendez-Vous is a beautiful wine. Pale gold color; the aromas are very floral - iris and lime flower with pear, peach, apricot and citrus; the palate is silky and textured with chalky minerals beneath ripe white fruits and citrus peel; the finish is long and tart with refreshing lemony acidity. A delightful wine that is delicious now and will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years. DL
This is a lovely blend of Chenin and Chardonnay from Lise and Bertrand Jousset, showing lime flower, melon, pear and lemon zest aromas. The palate is round and balanced with white fruits, melon, citrus and herbal flavors backed by firm lemony acidity. A delightful and versatile wine that will compliment a wide variety of fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods and mild cheeses. DL
This beautiful Chinon is from 65 to 70 year-old vines in sandy clay soils over limestone in Sonnay, near Cravant. The wine ages for 18 months in old barrels, less than 200 cases are made. The 2014 Ame D'Antan shows a deep black/garnet color with elegant aromas of ripe blackberry and strawberry with hints of violet, prune, citrus and crushed stone. The palate is dense but bright, with a silky texture, showing pure blackberry fruit with earth and licorice with firm mineral acidity. Good length with lingering berry and mineral flavors. Delicious now, it will age beautifully, probably best 2020 to 2030+. Highly recommended. DL
The delicious Chinon Vieilles Vignes of Patrick Lambert is from 55 year-old vines on sandy clay soils over limestone. Hand harvested and femented with wild yeasts, as are all of Lambert's wines, the Vieilles Vignes gets 12 months of aging in old barrels. The wine shows a deep red/black color and ripe blackberry and strawberry aromas with pepper, earth and citrus. The palate shows earthy blackberry and strawberry compote with prune and bitter chocolate with firm citrusy acids. This is a complex, old-fashioned Chinon that will acoompany roast chicken and anything off the grill, served a bit cool. Age for five to ten years for a mature experience. And at $14.99 it's a fabulous value!
The Chinon "Les Deuxelles" from Patrick Lambert is 100% Cabernet Franc from 20 year-old vines on a mix of gravel, clay and sandy soils over limestone. Fermentation with wild yeasts is followed by 6 to 8 months aging in cuve, stainless or cement. Despite being from the very warm 2015 vintage, the Lambert "Deuxelles" is a quite earthy old-fashioned Chinon showing aromas of strawberry, red currant, citrus and earth. The palate is similarly earthy with red fruits, citrus and soil flavors balanced by bright acidity. This is a fabulous value and should be served cool with roast chicken, pork dishes, charcuterie and mild cheeses.
Quentin Bourse took over a friend’s estate in Azay-le-Rideau after working with many producers in the Loire Valley (notably Domaine Huet in Vouvray) just in time for the 2013 vintage. The estate was already certified biodynamic which is quite rare in Azay, and covers 12 hectares on clay over silica. This rose is made from 100% Grolleau vinified with direct press to a combination of stainless steel and fiberglass tank, native yeast fermentation, and less than 20ppm total sulfur. And (thankfully) comes in a 1 Liter sized bottle. The return of the bull-dog label, for me, signals summer. This is a zippy rose, packed with invigorating tart raspberry, cranberry, and fresh cucumber flavors. Crisp, mineral and perfect for grilling on a hot evening! Amanda Bowman
Jo Landron of Domaine de la Louvetrie tasted on a bottle of 2009 "Les Houx" (the wine formerly known as Hermine D'Or) last winter in Angers. It was a lovely ripe and mature Muscadet and a small quantity has happily arrived in NY. The wine is showing aromas of spiced pear and apple with earth , grilled almond and floral notes. The palate is round with intriguing flavors of pear, marzipan, honeysuckle and stone and finishes with a nice kick of acidity and mineral flavors. Not the usual flavor profile of Muscadet but a lovely wine to serve with monkfish in sauce, roast chicken and full flavored cheeses.
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!
Jo Landron's Fief du Breil is from a beautiful walled vineyard sloping towards the Sèvre, with clay, sand and quartz stones over a bedrock of orthogneiss. The vines average 40 to 50 years of age, the vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic and gives very low yields. Always one of our favorite Muscadets, even in the difficult 2013 vintage, the wine shows lovely aromas of citrus, pear and almond with hints of fresh herbs and wet stone. The palate shows elegant white fruits and mineral flavors with lemon peel, white pepper and a long stony finish. Drink now with oysters, grilled fish and roast chicken, or hold, not for long-term cellaring but it will open up nicely over the next ten years. (Importer's close-out, sorry no further inventory.)
The vineyards for the Cuvée Domaine are situated on a high plateau with varied soils of sandy clay with amphibolite stones or quartz with subsoils mostly of gneiss, certified organic, with Biodynamic methods. This Spring bottling received 6 months of sur-lie aging and shows the ripeness and balance of 2015, somewhat in the style of 2004. Quite dense with aromas of citrus and white fruits with stone and floral notes. The palate shows pear and stone with citrus and white pepper with firm acidity, quite refreshing. This will accompany shellfish, sushi and mild fish dishes and is full and round enough to enjoy on it's own, or with chicken and other light meals. It's a sensational value!
The Luneau-Papin "L D"Or" is from old vines in a hillside parcel on a south-facing slope with granite subsoil. This is always one of the most elegant and age-worthy Muscadets, which drinks beautifully as a somewhat austere young wine, and opens up gracefully over its 20 to 30 year lifespan. The 2000 shows subtle, quite complex aromas of pear, stone, melon, almond, crême brulée and honeysuckle . The palate shows a firm, youthful structure with citrusy acidity balancing ripe pear, stone and mineral flavors with almond and anise. While not possessing the depth and intensity of the best vintages, this is a lovely 16+ year-old wine that will continue to develop over the next ten years. (Serve cool, not too cold!)
Another superb vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or. It's a bit rounder and riper than the 2007 perhaps, but with more density of fruit and the acidity and structure to age beautifully. (Somewhat similar in style to the 2009 Pépière Chateau-Thébaud, which also combined the richness of the vintage with outstanding balance and acidity) This is drinking well now with complex aromas including citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is silky and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious and with great structure for a 2009. A good candidate for aging, this seems like a somewhat denser and riper version of the 1995.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. DL
A beautiful L d'Or that shows the remarkable combination of ripeness, balance and great acidity in the 2010 vintage. This wine was surprisingly open and aromatic when tasted in January 2012 but possessed of perfect acidity and loads of saline mineral flavors, reminding us of 2002.
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the crunch 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. DL
Vera Cruz is a new cuvée from Luneau-Papin, from 40 year-old vines on a terroir of schistes and gneiss "a deux micas" in Vallet, farmed with organic and biodynamic methods. A wine of terroir rather than fruit, even in the ripe 2015 vintage, the wine shows elegant aromas of pear, grilled almond, stone and citrus. The palate is dense and very mineral, showing more flavor of earth than fruit, with a lovely finish of stone, minerals and white fruit that coats the palate. Perfect now with fine oysters, grilled dorade, sole, cod and scallops with lemon. Or cellar - this wine should be very interesting in 5 to 15 years. Label inspired by Mondrian and the varied terroirs of Muscadet. DL
One of the very few domaines in Pouilly-Fumé to be certified organic, Jonathan Pabiot is making lovely, balanced wines with subtle fruit, firm acidity and good minerality in the finish. The 2015 is a blend of all three terroirs found at the estate: Kimmeridgian marl, chalky Portlandian, and clay-silex on flint. The vines average 30 years of age, and are planted very densely at 10,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are harvested by hand and machine, fermented with indigenous yeasts and minimal SO2 is used. The wine shows subtle aromas of pear and peach, lime-flower, stone and boxwood. The palate is well-balanced with white fruits, citrus and stone with a bit of smoke and mineral flavors. A versatile and very food-friendly wine - serve with almost any seafood dish, chicken and mild cheeses.
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?
Domaine de la Pépière lost most of their crop to frost in 2016 but was able to produce this excellent Muscadet using grapes normally reserved for the Clisson, Chateau Thébaud and Monnières-Saint Fiacre cuvées as well as fruit purchased from neighboring parcels, harvested and selected by Pépière. (This is the only wine from Pépière in 2016 except for a small amount of Clos des Briords and Gras Moutons.) The 2016 La Pépie shows classic Muscadet aromas of pear, citrus peel, almond and stone with a bit of lime-flower. The palate is dense, with nice ripeness, balanced with firm stony acidity, with flavors of dried pear, citrus, stone and white pepper and finishing with good length of citrusy acids and saline minerals. This is a serious Muscadet that echos the characteristics of the estate's top cuvées. The domaine lost almost 85% of the crop in 2016, but the small amount of wine they did produce is lovely. Our thanks to Marc, Remi and Gwènaëlle for this delicious and well-priced Muscadet.
The Domaine de la Pépière Château Thébaud "Clos des Morines" comes from old vines on a beautiful vineyard sloping down towards the river. The granite here is fissured and permeable by the vine roots which have access to water during dry spells and absorb micro-nutrients along the way. 2009 and 2010 here were among the best of the vintage in Muscadet and the 2012 is outstnding as well from this somewhat difficult low-yielding vintage. More austere than the previous vintages, the 2012 shows subtle aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus, almond and stone, quite subtle and elegant. The palate has excellent weight and concentration with firm acidity, without the forward fruit of the 2009 - very tight and mineral in style with terrific length. Fabulous served now with oysters, ceviche of cod, flounder and sole, and grilled fish, This should age beautifully for 20 years and more. Highly recommended. Tasted again in December of 2016, this beautiful Muscadet is beginning to open up a bit, with lovely fruit appearing in the aromas and palate, really drinking well, though obviously a wine that will benefit from another five years of aging, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Beginning in 2005, Marc Ollivier 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. The 2014" Clisson" is subtle, fine and elegant, and at the same time dense and powerful, yet with only 12% alcohol. The wine shows lovely aromas of lemon zest, fresh herbs, stone and dried pear, apple, very elegant, with hints of pineapple, anise and brown spice. The palate shows nice ripeness, density and weight but remains delicate and fresh with pear, citrus and mineral flavors with a finish that is long and lemony and slightly astringent with food-friendly minerality. The 2014 Clisson is a delightful wine - serve as often as possible with oysters, little-necks, grilled seafood and roast chicken. Put some in the cellar to enjoy over its 20+ year evolution. Thank you Marc, Remi and Gwenaelle for another beautiful wine!
The Clos Roche Blanche Cot is back, now made by new proprietor Julien Pineau. The wine shows bright blackberry aromas with cocoa, violet, roast meat, earth and celery, quite pretty, complex and interesting. Dense black fruits on the palate are lifted by bright acidity. The finish is lovely with blackberry and red currant fruits framed in vivid mineral flavors, complex and long. This is a delicious natural wine that happily continues the work of our friends at Clos Roche Blanche, bravo to Julien Pineau!
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
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
The grapes for this new cuvee from Francois Pinon used to be included in the Silex Noir, but this wonderful vineyard, on a hill-top directly above the Pinon's cave, much deserves to be bottled on it's own. At 18 grams/liter of residual sugar, 12.4% alcohol and strong acidity, the Deronnieres approaches Demi-Sec in style but with superb minerality and balance. The wine shows subtle aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, lemons and stones. The palate is very saline and mineral with bitter lemon, white fruits, and herbal notes with impressive density and length. A great demi-sec with fantastic minerality that will age beautifully!
Another outstanding Vouvray from our friends François and Julien Pinon in Vallée de Cousse, the 2015 "Trois Argiles" shows subtle, complex aromas of lemon, pear, earth, lime-flower, wet stone and almond. There is a hint of sweetness on the palate, perfectly balanced with firm acidity, with mineral flavors, white fruits, lemon peel and herbal notes. The finish is very long with citrusy acids and saline minerals. this is a beautiful young Vouvray that is delicious now with fish or chicken in sauce, Asian cuisnes, vegetable patés, asparagus and mild cheeses. This will gain complexity and become dryer with age, drink at least until 2050... David Lillie
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 2014 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, it's delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
Recent tastings of the Olga Raffault "les Picasses" going back to 1979 have consistently revealed light, very complex and beautiful old wines, still possessing a core of red and black fruits with lovely secondary flavors of mushroom, sous-bois, licorice, and graphite with herbal and vegetal notes. Serve with wild mushrooms, truffle omelet, coq au vin....
Since Olga Raffault’s passing, the estate has been run by her granddaughter Sylvie and her husband Eric de la Vigerie. Vineyard work and winemaking practices are very traditional: vineyard maintenance is done by hand, native yeast fermentations, and long, slow élevage in large, neutral oak (sometimes chestnut, a local wood in the region) barrels. Les Picasses is their top vineyard with 50-year-old Cabernet Franc vines planted in hard alluvial clay soils with a chalk limestone base on semi-steep slopes facing south. This is the perfect terroir to showcase classic Chinon aromas of black cherry, currant, cool blueberry fruit, white pepper, and a touch of tangerine. The palate is fresh and vibrant with juicy plum and black cherry fruit dotted with spice. Tannins are quite soft, yet present, and the finish is long and mineral with dark berry fruit. This is an outstanding example of what Cabernet Franc can be! 2010 is a great vintage for this wine, with the depth and structure for long-term aging. Tim Gagnon
Les Picasses is one of the greatest vineyards in Chinon - a south-facing slope of clay over porous limestone that retains water and nutrients, nourishing the vines. While the wine is amply fruited and enjoyable young, it has firm acidity and structure for long-term aging, up to 30 years and more depending on the vintage. 2012 was a quite successful vintage for Loire reds, which generally showed vibrant fruit, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. Not a "big" vintage but one of very pretty, well-balanced wines. The 2012 Raffault "Les Picasses" is a surprisingly full-bodied wine, showing ripe strawberry, blackberry, and cooked prune with a fabulous earthy core of stone and mineral flavors. The palate is dense with blackberry, prune, citrus, earth, licorice and cocoa with a long fresh finish. Ripe and forward enough to drink now with anything from roast chicken to steak, the 2012 should age beautifully, perhaps best 2020 to 2030 and beyond...? David Lillie
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!
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
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 terrific density and 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
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. The Roche Bleue 2015 Jasnières shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate reveals almond, pear, stone and chalky minerals that continue in the very long, tart, very mineral finish. This is a crystalline, complex 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. Lovely wine! 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
This beautiful Saumur-Champigny is from a walled vineyard of old vines in Varrains, certified organic and worked with biodynamic methods as well. The wine shows a deep black/red color and ripe aromas of red currant and blackberry with earth, roast meat and citrus framed in a bit of oak, quite lovely. The palate shows lush, textured blackberry and black cherry fruit with earth and bitter chocolate backed by firm acidity that continues in the long finish. Delicious now served with a coq au vin, grilled steak or park stew, this will age gracefully over the next ten to fifteen years.
This is a lovely Chenin Blanc from our organic friends at La Source du Ruault. Ripe but subtle aromas of pear, apple, citrus, lime-flower, hay and earth lead to the palate which is very mineral, with ripe lemony white fruits, almond, stone and herbal flavors and a very long intense chalky finish. A beautiful and very young Chenin that is scintillating and delicious now, best after a few days open or ten years in the cellar. Highly recommended and a great value!
The lovely Tessier "Point Nommé" is from 100% Pinot Noir, and is made only in the best vintages. In 2015 the wine is superb, with very floral aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, rose, earth and a hint of citrus and spice. The palate is light but with nice density and weight with flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry framed by very earthy, mineral acidity. The finish is long and refreshing with fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Just delightful! Serve cool with grilled pork and lamb and full flavored cheeses. This will benefit from decanting or three to five years of aging. DL
The "Charbonnerie" is Tessier's better cuvée of Cheverny Blanc, mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay, grown on sandy clay soils over the limestone bedrock. As with all the Tessier wines, the grapes are hand harvested and fermentations are natural with wild yeasts. The wine goes through the malolactic fermentation and is fermented and aged in vats, with minimal SO2 added before bottling. This lovely Cheverny shows pretty aromas of apple and pear, lime-flower, almond and stone. The palate shows subtle white fruit and herbal flavors with a beautiful mineral core, and perfect acidity, quite elegant and pure. While very delicious now, this is a young wine that will open up nicely over the next few years. Serve now with full-flavored oysters, sole, flounder and cod as well as chicken and mild cheeses. In a year or two, serve with fuller-flavored fish and chicken dishes. DL
The Tessier Cheverny Rouge "Le Point du Jour" is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grown on clay/limestone soils. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and cinnamon with violet and citrus. There is a lovely melange of cherry, black raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate that is light and lively but with good density and length. The finish is bright and refreshing with tart fruits and mineral flavors. Serve quite cool with charcuterie, grilled meats and mild cheeses - great on a picnic or summer cookout, drink over the next three or four years. DL
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
From a small parcel of clay and silex on limestone, 2/3 Cot and 1/3 Gamay. 35 year-old vines, organic since 1996, aged in old barrels, large and small. Thierry Puzelat was a pioneer of natural wine-making and he continues with this beautiful "Guerrerie" from the lovely 2014 vintage in the Loire Valley. The wine is extravagantly delicious with wild aromas of raspberry, cherry, violets, mint, pepper and earth. Cool red and black fruits on the palate with plum, citrus, pepper and earthy acidity. Just lovely - serve cool and enjoy! (most likely zero sulfur added)
A Cheverny blend of 1/3rd each of Sauvignon Blanc, Fie Gris (a varient of Sauvignon) and Chardonnay - five to fifty year-old vines on clay/flint soils. Eight months in neutral oak barrels before bottling, with minimal sulfur. Fresh aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, spice and minerals. The palate is dense and riper than usual in this exceptional vintage but is very lively and mineral over the flavors of pear, quince, citrus, spice and stone. Forget about Sancerre, the Tue-Boeuf Frileuse is complex, unusual and remarkably delicious! DL
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 2016 is a bright and refreshing Sauvignon, showing subtle fruit aromas of peach and pear with almond, lime-flower and citrus. The palate shows lovely pear, apricot and almond flavors with lemony minerals in the long finish. This is a refreshing, stylish wine to serve quite cool this spring and summer with seafood and poultry dishes, asparagus, crudites and mild cheeses.
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