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Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
This is a white blend, marrying Roussane, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle (Vermentino), and Bourbelenc. It's medium - full bodied for a white, with notes of apple compote and baking spice. A prime candidate for wine drinkers who typically prefer reds, and truly a unique expression of the region's diverse grape varieties. Eben Lillie
This is 100% Syrah, from clippings that Christophe took from the Gonon family in St. Joseph. "Textbook" Syrah, with blackberry, roasted meat, and spice notes. Full and rich, with soft acids and plenty of earth. Definitely a wine for fans of full bodied and dark fruited reds, and a prime candidate for grilled meats and other Southern fare.
Made from Gringet grown at 450m in elevation, this is serious stuff. It spends three years on the lees which results in a rich and textured wine, with delicate aromatics. It is quite powerful, and would give any Champagne a run for the money in terms of complexity. Tim Gagnon
Called Le Feu (The Fire) for the bright red, iron-rich clay that litters the incredibly steep vineyards, this is Dominique’s top wine. It is his only single-parcel Gringet cuvée and the vines are situated at 450m in altitude. Tim Gagnon
Les Perles du Mont Blanc is made from the Belluard's biodynamically planted Gringet in the alpine village of Ayse. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast and there is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry wine with fascinating complexity. The autumnal aromas of pine forest, baking spice, and toasted hazelnuts give a festive quality to this wine. On the palate it is rich, with creamy flavors of bosc pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and green apple. The invigorating acidity makes this a very versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with potatoes au gratin, green bean casserole, or cheese this Thanksgiving. Amanda Bowman
Jean-Baptiste Menigoz, a former school teacher, started his domaine with 2.4ha of vines in Abergement-le-Petit, west of Arbois, in 2012. Focusing on the classic varietals of the Jura, he makes honest, natural wines in the traditional ways of the region. His Chardonnay is always my personal favorite. Fermented and aged in neutral 600L demi-muid, it showcases the honey-tinged, tropical fruit and citrus that is a hallmark of this wine year after year. On the palate it is a touch nutty with salty, tangy pineapple, and an electric acidity anchored by a piercing mineral core. Perhaps a touch more ripe than past vintages, it maintains focus and precision. Tim Gagnon
Clos Ste. Magdeleine is located on the slopes of the dramatic Cap Canaille just east of Cassis, where vineyards date back to the ancient Greeks, and the vines grow on stony limestone soils. The current estate was founded in the late 19th century and has been in the same family since 1920 - the estate is certified organic. The Cassis Blanc is made up of 40% Marsanne, 30% Ugni blanc, 25% Clairette and 5% Bourboulenc. The 2015 shows lovely aromas of dried pear, almond and stone with floral and herbal hints, with a bit of candied citrus and exotic fruit. The palate is round and supple and quite elegant with ripe pear, apricot and almond, citrus peel and marzipan. The finish is long and balanced with firm acidity and mineral flavors. (This would be a great option for Thanksgiving dinner, being elegant and dry but with enough weight and fruit to pair well with turkey and all the sides. A crowd pleasing choice...)
When thinking of the Bergerac region of France, high-quality, thirst-quenching wines generally aren't the first things that come to mind. Enter Nicole Dournel of Domaine des Costes, who took over this estate as a tenant farmer in 1992. Her wines are crafted with care using organically farmed grapes and native yeasts to carry out fermentation. This cuvée is made of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon planted in sandy, stony soils over gravel. The result is a more feminine wine with a bouquet of cherry liqueur, dusty red plum, cassis, pomegranate seeds, and a touch of meaty funk. On the palate it is dusty, earthy, and brambly with bright dark berry fruit and fantastic structure. This would be perfect with roasted pork loin and root vegetables! Tim Gagnon
Made from Chasselas planted in clay-rich soils and raised in concrete egg, I find this wine to offer more in terms of layers of texture and in density than his other cuvées. It still maintains a ravishing acidity and ample minerality like all of his wines, but seems a bit more open aromatically with hints of crème brülée, almond milk, and zesty lemon meringue. These luscious aromas coalesce once on the palate with more succulent citrus and sea minerals coming forward. This would be fantastic with hearty poultry dishes (Thanksgiving anyone?) that balance savory and sweet, or with seared monkfish with parsnip purée and hazelnuts for the adventurous home cook. Tim Gagnon
An exciting new arrival from Dominique Lucas! Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 7.5 hectares of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. P’tit Coin de Paradis comes from a small parcel of 25-year-old Chasselas vines planted lower on the slope closer to Dominique’s house (his vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition). The wine is vinified using only native yeasts and is raised in a combination of concrete eggs and neutral demi-muid barrels. This vintage captures the essence of Chasselas with a precise bouquet of lemon zest, tropical fruit, and mountain wildflower. The palate is wonderfully textured, and perfectly balanced with beautiful tension between an intense minerality, bright fruit, and a bracing acidity. Blue Moon Fish at the TriBeCa farmer’s market makes some of the best smoked bluefish I’ve ever had (and has beautiful seafood in general), and I’m thinking this would be fantastic with a simple tartine of bluefish, cultured butter, fresh radish, and a parsley garnish. Tim Gagnon
This special and striking Altesse comes from one of the only recognized "crus" in the Savoie: the very steep, south-facing slope of Marestel. A rich, powerful, and oxidative wine, the nose offers ripe apple, caramel, fennel, anise seed, and some sweet aromatics that are reminiscent of Riesling. The palate is broad, honeyed, but well-balanced and long with a firm, dusty mineral finish. Even with a few years of bottle age, this is only the beginning of this wine's life. MSB
The 2010 is expressively aromatic with notes of wildflower, papaya, toasted hazelnuts, and hints of bergamot. The palate is rich and giving with heady flavors of smoked pineapple, herbs, honeycomb, and citrus. Firm minerality carries the fleshy tropical fruit flavors through an extraordinarily long finish. Powerful and finessed, this bottle deserves a place on your dinner table alongside shellfish, grilled fish with creamy herb sauce, or a traditional raclette. Amanda Bowman
A blend of 60% Carignan 30% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. A truly versatile red, in magnum size! Eben Lillie
Now this is a first: Syrah is pressed like a rosé, then the Cinsault grapes are tossed (whole cluster) into the fermenting juice for 4 - 5 days, without extraction. The wine is then pressed, and kept in stainless steel. My tasting notes provide this information and are then followed by one word: "Yummy." They call it a "wonderful light and fruity summer wine." Combine the two and you get the idea. This is juicy, fresh and very light bodied. Truly a FUN wine, and one that will benefit from a little chill. 11.5% alc. Eben Lillie
Jacquère, Chasselas and Chardonnay, with a touch of Viognier and Marsanne. Aromas of white peach and stone fruits on the nose, medium weight and stony in the mid-palate (I always find Jacquère reminds me of the Melon de Bourgogne grape from Muscadet), with a dry and subtly structured finish. Though delightful on it's own, it has great potential to pair well with salads, poultry, and even creamy dishes as well. Did we mention it's $12.99? Drink up! You just found your new table white.Eben Lillie
In 2007, the energetic and talented Thomas Finot discovered the terroirs of the Coteaux Grésivaudan - a valley with steep mountainsides extending northeast from Grenoble, just north of Savoie, Here he is rescuing local grape varieties such as Verdesse, Persan and Etraire de la Dhuy and also making delicious and affordable vin de soif from other grapes - in this case the Tracteur Rosé. Made from Gamay, the wine shows a pretty light pink color and aromas of red currant, raspberry, watermelon and rose. The palate is light and lovely at only 11% alcohol with subtle mixed-berry fruits and hints of spice backed by mineral flavors and refreshing acidity. Serve well-chilled all year-round with salads, charcuterie and white meats. Quick facts: Destemmed, into cuve, kept cold for 24 hours, then to the press... Doing a maceration of about 24 hours gives the rosé more material, and color. It's the way Thomas likes his rosés! - Eben Lillie
Thomas Finot has made a beautiful 2015 Persan, from a blend of old vines planted by vigneron Daniel Zegna and young vines planted by the Finots, all massale selection. The warm days and very cool nights in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan, Isère, produced a gorgeous wine with deep black/red color and aromas of blackberry liqueur, graphite and roast meat with hints of rose and pepper. The palate is sapid and dense with meaty blackberry and red currant fruit, with pepper, licorice, mint and herbal notes. The finish is long with elegant texture and ripe, earthy berry fruits that linger on the palate. This would be lovely with a piece of Charolais beef, and aging of ten to fifteen years should be interesting. Bravo to Thomas Finot - for this unique wine and for his project of replanting and resurrecting vineyards in Isère! -David Lillie Extra note: I spoke to Thomas about my favorite Persan, from Nicolas Gonin, and asked what differences he saw. He's also a big fan of Gonin's wines, and explained that the difference most likely comes down to 'elevage' (or ageing.. i.e. how they bring up the wine). Finot chooses a long aging, whereas Gonin's elevage is shorter, so there's less structure and a bit more freshness of fruit. I really enjoy both styles, so I can now officially say I have TWO favorite Persans! - Eben Lillie
Thomas Finot, who is working with rare local varieties in Isère, also makes this vibrant Pinot Noir from organic grapes in the Coteaux du Grésivaudan northeast of Grenoble. The region is known for very warm days but very cool nights, producing reds that are ripe and sappy but possessing bright acidity and good balance. The 2015 Pinot Noir is a lovely wine showing aromas of ripe black cherry and strawberry with a bit of oak, violet and citrus. The palate is dense and supple with slightly roasty cherry and red currant fruit with brown spice, plum. pepper and citrus. The finish is ripe and long with lingering red fruits and firm acidity. Serve cool with coq au vin, steaks and grilled foods, stews and tagines, cellaring of three to five years should be interesting. David Lillie
According to the hefty Wine Grapes book (Robinson/Harding/Vouillamoz), there were a total of about 2 hectares (5 acres) of Verdesse in the world as of 2008. As of my conversation with Thomas Finot in June, the number is now between 3 and 4 hectares total. Thomas started with an old plantation of about 2 ares (200 square meters, or .05 acres) and now has about 1.5 hectares, mostly of younger vines he planted. Verdesse is a grape that, according to Thomas, is green for a long time, and typically ripens late, gaining a golden and amber color at the "very last moment." From Thomas' experience, Verdesse typically rests with a small amount of sugar, and has a good deal of richness. The grapes were harvested in October and the wine rests at 8 grams residual sugar. Luckily Verdesse has acid for days, so the effect is more of delicate richness and ripe stone fruit, and the sugar is barely perceptible. A fascinating white and a great opportunity to taste a truly obscure and rare variety. -Eben Lillie
Thomas Finot makes his "Vin de Maceration Cugnete" (aka Jacquère) from purchased fruit grown in Isère and on the Isère/Savoie border, thus Vin de France. The long skin contact gives the wine a pale bronze color. The aromas are light and pretty - dried flowers, brown spice, citrus peel and white fruits. The palate shows creamy dried pear, mineral, brown spice, almond and citrus notes, quite subtle and with a clean, long finish without harsh skin tannins. This is a fascinating wine that will accompany shellfish, ceviche of many kinds, sushi, goat cheeses and much more. 11% alcohol. Lovely wine! David Lillie Extra facts: Thomas says that Cugnete is an ancient type of Jacquere. Maceration for the 2015 was 2 and a half months, and aging was in big used barrels from 2005 and 2006. My guess is the maceration was more of a soaking, with little or no punch down or extraction, as the wine appears more like a white than an 'orange,' and only has a delicate and subtle amount of tannin in the back of the palette. -Eben Lillie
"Glaneurs" is made from Jean-François Nicq's plot of 40 year old vines planted in the foothills of the eastern Pyrénées. 100% Grenache on granite, vinified in carbonic maceration for four weeks in three-year old oak barrels, then bottled at the end of spring with no added SO2. The 2016 has aromas that are almost hedonistic, with notes of dried figs, tart cherry, and sun-ripened dates. The palate is lush and mouth coating with flavors of blueberry, plum, fresh strawberries and framed by a nervy minerality. A serious wine with stunning depth that should be given some time to open up. Amanda Bowman
The Jonc Blanc 2014 PURE T is 100% Merlot grown on a small parcel of "marnes á astrea," a limestone conglomerate with seashells with thin clay topsoil. The wine is made with zero sulfur dioxide or other additives, fermented with wild yeasts and aged for two years in 1200 liter Taransaud foudres. Less than 300 cases are made of this beautiful wine that shows a dark black/red color and deep aromas of blackberry, cassis and bitter chocolate with roast meat and floral hints. There are lush black fruits on the palate, very silky and pure with good freshness, with firm acidity, berries and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a gorgeous wine that will accompany anything off the grill, pork stew and coq au vin. Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carle are doing beautiful work at Le Jonc Blanc and their wines deserve your attention. DL
Isabelle and Franck Pascal make this beautiful natural wine from Cabernet and Merlot grown on their Biodynamic estate near Felines, in Bergerac. The wine is aged sur-lie 12 months in barrel, and is bottled without filtration or added sulfur.The 2015 vintage has a dark robe. The nose displays the generosity of the vintage with aromas of ripe blackberries, black currants, and Italian plums with hints of cedar and graphite. The palate is rich, ripe, and deft with a good tension between the beautiful fruit and deep earth notes on a long, persistent, lifted finish. Fabulous with a grilled hanger steak, better still with magret of duck and strong cheeses. This is a tremendous value and should improve over 5-8 years. Delicious! John McIlwain
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
This 100% Merlot from La Vrille et le Papillon has a dark, envoloping nose, with cassis and black fruit. There's impressive tannic structure and mineral complexity, and just enough acidity to lend length and lift to the finish. This is a serious full bodied red that is graceful enough to not exhaust your palate on it's own, and would be perfect for a BBQ or similar summer feast. Eben Lillie
Meryl and Geraldine Croizier are making lovely natural wines at their small estate in the Ardeche. The "Z" Rouge is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Merlot and shows pretty black fruit aromas with rose, earth and citrus. The palate is silky and supple, light but with nice density, with cool, complex black fruits and hints of bitter chocolate, licorice and earth that continue in the long complex finish. Serve this delicious natural wine quite cool this summer with grilled foods, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses. DL
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, grown in Eric and Corinne Laguerre's organic, high-altitude vineyards on granite soils in the Roussillon. 2015 is a great vintage for the Le Ciste Rouge, showing aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, roast meat, dark chocolate and earth.The palate is dense and supple with ripe berry fruits, licorice and spice supported by firm acidity with an elegant finish of earth, minerals and black fruits. This is a beautiful wine - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains - and a great value. Serve slightly cool with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses or cellar five to ten years. Highly recommended! DL
2016 is a great vintage for Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc! From 30% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, very crisp and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and will be very refreshing by itself on a warm summer day. DL
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah grown in the Roussillon on very high-altitude vineyards of decomposed granite. Hand-harvested in small crates, yields of 20 hl/ha) The 2016 EOS Rouge shows bright aromas of tart cherry and blackberry, with dark chocolate and very floral notes, really bursting with fruit. The palate is supple and bright with cherry and red-currant fruit with acidity that coats the mouth. Very long finish of red fruits and juicy acids, quite elegant with nice tannic structure. This will go very well served cool with grilled meats and will benefit from short-term cellaring. An interesting wine that really shows the influence of the granite soils. A fabulous value!
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. The soils are primarily "poudingue," a conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposited during the formation of the Pyrenees, with sandy clay topsoil. This bottle, based on the two better white grapes of Jurançon, Gros and Petit Manseng, seriously over-delivers in terms of complexity for the price. You'll find aromas of pineapple, lemon oil, peach and pear, honeysuckle and caramel apple on the nose, along with a light oakiness that would not work for all white wines, but fits perfectly with this one. The palate is essentially dry with firm acidity with dried pear, spice, citrus, stone and mineral flavors, but leaves an enticing sense of sweetness that makes it an excellent choice for cheeses, especially the sheep's milk cheeses of the Pyrenees. The finish is long and elegant - just delicious! Note: Those with the patience to keep this bottle around for a few days, re-corked in the fridge, will be rewarded with an awesome display of rich, complex fruit. David Lillie
This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses, and for apple and mince pies on Thanksgiving! Absolutely superb! (The wine improves for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2012 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (72 grams/liter RS) Highly recommended! David Lillie
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 40 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 10 cases for the US allocation.The 2015 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, apricot, almond, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with a bit of residual sugar. The finish is very long with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
"Bottle Neck" is equal parts Syrah and Grenache on sandy loam soils in Saint-André near the Pyrenees. Vinified in carbonic maceration for 15 days, pressed, then aged in barrels for six months and bottled without S02. Aromas of game, earth, violets, and redcurrants. The tannins are gentle, with an almost effervescent effect from the carbonic maceration. Flavors of red cherry, saddle leather, spiced blueberries, and a yeast-y note on the finish. A playful, vin de soif perfect to serve chilled alongside grilled burgers, lental dal, or on its on. Amanda Bowman
Céline and Steve Gormally farm their 5 hectares in Passenans, to the southwest of Arbois, with strictly biodynamic methods and consistently make stunning natural wines. Arco is 100% Savagnin from 20-year-old vines planted in rocky soils with a limestone base. Vinified and aged in neutral barrels for 9 months, it is a beautiful example of how much care the Gormallys put into all of their wines. Gorgeous tropical fruit aromas abound with delicate hints of walnut, lime blossom, and wildflower. The palate is gently saline with pure fruit, a piercing minerality, and a wonderful texture that leads into a crystalline finish dotted with hints of tangy pineapple stalk. It is absolutely delicious. Tim Gagnon
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2016 Rosé La Londe is a beautiful wine and a real rosé of terroir showing lovely pale pink color with subtle aromas of peach skin, raspberry, orange peel, spice and rose. The palate is light, balanced, dense and long with ripe cherry, peach, citrus, spice and saline mineral flavors. Drinking beautifully now, especially with a bit of aeration, it will improve over the next year or two and accompany an elegant ceviche, fish or chicken, salads and mild cheeses. Great sipped by itself as well, a delicious and "serious" rosé that is highly recommended!
From Michéle and Yves Gros at Domaine Les Fouques, this is the new Pétillant Rosé! Pale hued, perfumed and floral on the nose, with peaches and stone fruit on the palate. Méthode Traditionelle, Extra Brut, with great acidity and a refreshing chalky finish. Eben Lillie
Primarily Grenache, with Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet, this biodynamic red from Provence shows deep plum and blackberry fruit aromas with earth, citrus and Provençal herbs. The palate is ripe and supple with dense black fruits, prune and brown spice lifted by bright acidity. In some vintages this wine can be a bit austere and tannic when young, but the 2014 is bursting with fruit and absolutely delicious for current drinking. Serve with grilled meats and stews, a daube niçoise perhaps, and full-flavored cheeses. Great value!
The Cuvée Aubigue Blanc from Les Fouques is made from 80% Rolle (Vermentino) with 10% Clairette and 10% Ugni Blanc. It's a delicious, full-flavored Provençal white with complex aromas of apple and pear liqueur and hints of dried flowers, almond and herbs. The palate is round and ripe with white fruits, candied citrus and dense mineral and stone flavors with good acidity. A great aperitf or accompaniment to full-flavored fish dishes and asian foods. Certified biodynamic (Demeter), wild-yeast fermentation. (The wine received a well-deserved gold medal at the 2017 Concours des Vignerons Independants)
This is one of our favorite Rosés every year and the 2016 Cuvée de l'Aubigue is a sensational wine and a fabulous value! Made from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino grown on soils of clay and schist near Hyères in Provence. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Lovely light salmon color. Subtle and complex aromas with yellow and red fruits, citrus confit, brown spice and floral notes. The palate is full, but balanced and very refreshing with red fruits, citrus, peach, spice and mango that continue on the long finish. A great apéritif and pairs with any light summer foods. DL
Loreline's Ploussard is the color of crimson tinged leaves in the glass. The second thing you'll notice is the rustic quality lacking in the polite and polished aromas of modern Ploussard. After being open for half an hour, the barnyard smoke lifts to reveal the sweet fragrance of raspberries, forest, fresh cut strawberries, and tangy redcurrants. From Loreline's 30 year-old vines on red, iron-rich clay/limestone in her organic vineyard below the Côte de Feule in Pupillon.Vinified in partial carbonic maceration, the palate is balanced with supple tannins, flavors of morello cherry, anise, sweet raspberry, and bramble fruit. Delicious now, serve chilled with Gruyère, roasted salmon with herbs, or smoked ham. Amanda Bowman
The Trousseau was a standout the first time we tried it alongside the rest of Loreline's cuvees. So much so that I almost doubted my first impressions and decided to revisit, just to be sure. I can confirm that it remains so pure in its Jura-ness that it induces giddiness. From Loreline's organic vineyard of 60 year-old vines on blue and gray marne , the 2015 benefited from the warm, sunny vintage. The bold, earthy spiciness and hint of reduction on the nose place this wine immediately. After being open for an hour, aromas of rose petals, spiced raspberries, and alpine herbs reveal a serious nature. The palate begs for food with dark stone fruit, and grippy tannins that sneak up on the mid-palate and finish with a hint of bitter anise. Serve slightly chilled with salty swiss cheeses, charcuterie, or wild mushrooms. Amanda Bowman
100% Chardonnay on clay and limestone in Pupillon, vinified with minimal SO2 and aged for 6 months in foudres. A joyful bottle with a fine mousse bursting with aromas of dry hay, iris, toasted hazelnut, Comté, and ripe orchard fruit. The palate has an elegant frame of mineral acidity. Flavors are gently oxidative with floral undertones, ginger, and cherry pit. A delicious bottle to serve with raclette, peking duck, or on its own! Amanda Bowman
This Roussette de Savoie is from a tiny parcel of old Altesse vines. The nose is expressive, with flowers and white fruits aplenty. On the palate there's ripe orchard fruit, and a pleasant roundness that balances out the fresh acidity. This is a wine that has great versatility. It's great for drinking now with a wide variety of foods, from spicy asian cuisines to local cheeses, and will reward your patience if you decide to put some bottles away. With the minerality, acidity and the ripeness of the fruit in 2015, this surely has a great life ahead of it. Eben Lillie
It's almost as if it were meant to be that Maillet left us with this Mondeuse as his last! Typically the most structured and dark of Maillet's red offerings, 2015 provided ideal conditions to fully express the depth and potential of these selection massale vines (many of which are over 100 years old!). In the glass, it looks more like Syrah than anything we typically see from the Savoie. Vibrant wild blackberry aromas on the nose, with black cherry and cola notes on the palate, and a finish with notable tannic structure and mineral length. We'd recommend decanting a bit in advance or holding this wine for up to 10 years. Eben Lillie
A blend of Jacquere and Altesse. I think of this wine as the Muscadet of the Savoie. It's crisp and clean, with acidity that would definitely please fans of Loire Valley whites. Graceful and subtle citrus and white flower aromas, with stone fruit on the palate and a very mineral finish. It might be most suitable in the warmer months of the year, but fans of high-acid whites will surely beg to differ. Eben Lillie
Organic and Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau de Mayragues produces beautiful wines from local grape varieties, including this delicious red from 100% Braucol, aka Fer Servadou, grown on clay-limestone terroirs above the Tarn river in Gaillac. The wine is a deep red color and shows lovely aromas of ripe plum, red currant, earth, violets and black pepper. Deep earthy berry fruits on the palate that are lifted by fresh acidity. Full-flavored but not at all heavy at just 12% alcohol. This is a unique and delicious "country wine" - bring on the pâtés, rilletes and rillons, pork chops and roast chicken, full-flavored cheeses, too...
Thierry Navarre, based in Saint-Chinian in the Languedoc, is one of the few vignerons growing Oeillades, an obscure and ancient variety native to Mediterranean France. Similar to Cinsault, here it produces a fine, juicy, approachable rosé perfect for these warm summer evenings. Deep salmon in color, the nose is reserved, with soft notes of crushed berries and ripe cantaloupe. On the palate this wine is round and refreshing, with good minerality and delicately etched acidity. Red berry fruit and cherry dance elegantly around a tensile mineral core. Excellent with thinly sliced prosciutto, popcorn, grilled seafood, or assorted mezze. Drew Farquhar
This is a delicious vin doux naturel from Thierry Navarre made from very late-harvested Grenache. We imagine that it's a wine made the way wine used to be made all over the Languedoc before temperature control was an option. A bit sweet and somewhat sherry-like, the aromas are of prune and ripe cherry, with licorice and brown spice. Very long and nutty on the palate, perhaps the best way to imagine this wine is to think of an Oloroso sherry... then extrapolate! Absolutely delicious and a great accompaniment to chocolate, fruit tarts, dried fruits or simply by itself as an apéritif. Thanks to Thierry for finally making a label and shipping us some of this unique local specialty.
A nice, very crisp white from Gascogne. Sauvignon Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Columbard and Gros Manseng. Hand-harvested, certified organic, with subtle tropical and citrus notes.
80% Chardonnay and 20% Savagnin grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. 12 month sous-voile elevage in old barrels. Slightly oxidative aromas of lime-flower, dried pear, spiced citrus and almond, quite complex and pretty. The plate shows dried herbs, quince, citrus peel, spice and pear with saline mineral flavors and form acidity. The finish is long with sharp mineral flavors that linger on the palate. Lovely wine - serve with sole almondine, chicken in cream sauce, aged Comté and full-flavored goat cheeses. David Lillie
80% Pinot Noir and 20% Trousseau grown near Salins-les-Bains on Kimmeridgian soils, organic since 1992. The 2015s were made by the capable Emilie Gerard who has taken over from Jean-Chalres Maire. The 2015 Tradition shows aromas of strawberry liqueur with hints of blackberry, cherry, earth and rose. The palate is quite firm and dense, with saline mineral flavors and earthy black fruits. This is a unique and delicious Jura red that's lovely now, and should age nicely for 8 to 10 years. DL
From a 1/2 hectare parcel on Kimmeridgian limestone in Marnoz, northeast of Arbois. 11.3% alcohol. Very pale garnet color, really a rosé. Lovely aromas of red-currant, tart cherry, strawberry, earth and beach rose, a hint of spice. The palate is tart and light with red-currant, earth and stone, with nice length and intensity of fruit. This opens up nicely on day 2 and should age well. Congratulations to the capable Emilie Gerard, who has taken over after the untimely passing of Jean-Charles Maire.
A delicious blend of Gamay and Poulsard from the tiny appellation of Bugey. At 8.5% this delicately sweet pét-nat is the breakfast of champions or an invigorating aperitif to sip on while you prepare your Thanksgiving feast. The nose is absolutely beautiful with vivid aromas of wild flowers, ripe raspberries, and hints of grapefruit zest. The palate offers sweet raspberry and crunchy blueberry fruit on the attack then finishes with thirst-quenching minerality. A purely enjoyable bottle at a great value. Serve chilled alongside pecan pie, dark chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon, or with creamy or tangy cheeses. Amanda Bowman
A Vin de Liqueur made from Chardonnay with a bit of Trousseau, this is the first vintage of Larmes du Paradis that has been available to us, and we are very excited. Alternatively called Macvin in the Jura, this style of wine is made by arresting the primary fermentation with distilled grape spirit while there is still a fair amount of residual sugar in the wine. The result is a wine with deep golden color that shows aromas of warm golden raisin, fresh fig, hay, dried dates, sweet spice and a hint of cherry liqueur. Lots of depth and concentration on the palate, with excellent balance of sweetness and acidity; the finish is reminiscent of toffee candy with a hint of toasted walnut and an elegant salinity. This is great to have after dinner with cheese, but also makes for a great aperitif served well chilled. Tim Gagnon
Domaine Terrebrune is situated on a unique terroir of fissured Triassic limestone with pebbly brown clay, givng a very structured and elegant Bandol capable of long-term aging. The grapes are harvested by hand and fed into the pressoir by gravity, fermentation is with wild yeasts and elevage is in used 600 liter foudres. The 2011 Bandol Rouge is from 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache and 5% Cinsault and shows an opaque black/red color with subtle aromas of blackberry, black cherry and prune with crushed stone, black olive, game and violets. The palate is dense and firm with elegant blackberry and red currant fruit, with bitter chocolate, stone and licorice. The finish is very long with fruit liqueur, mineral flavors and citrusy acids. This is an oustanding and well-structured Bandol that will age beautifully - decant well in advance if drinking now and serve with grilled red meats or cellar for peak drinking 2025 - 2045!
The 2014 Domaine Tinou Jurançon Cuvée Tradition is made from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, grown in Serge Hondet's beautiful vineyard near Lasseube, certified organic since 1964. The soils are essentially sandy clays with stones and gravels from the Pyrenees, over the local limestone, "Calcaire de Lasseube." The wine shows lovely pale gold color, vivid aromas of lemon, pineapple, honeysuckle, stone and brown spice, elegant and subtle. Creamy lemon, pear and stone flavors on the palate, balanced by citrusy acids. 62 grams of RS per liter, but seems dryer. Lovely finish of lemon, exotic fruit and minerals. Serve this lovely wine with foie gras, patés, full-flavored cheeses and lemony desserts or just sip by itself. Highly recommended.
Finally we've convinced Serge Hondet to send us a little of his lovely Jurançon Sec, made from 85% Gros Manseng and 15% "Laousset," a rare variety with only a few hectares still in production. The estate is certified organic since 1964! The wine shows a very pale gold color with subtle aromas of pear and apple with more exotic fruits emerging and hints of hay, stone and white pepper. The palate is fairly dense and sapid with spiced pear and mineral flavors, raw almond, citrus and hay. It seems delicate and powerful at the same time, with nice length and firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored fish dishes, chicken, pork and mountain cheeses. Lovely wine. David Lillie
Serge Hondet at Domaine Tinou makes a tiny quantity of lovely dry rosé from Cabernet Franc grown on his 3 hectare organic estate in the southern part of Jurançon. The wine shows a very pale pink color with delicate aromas of raspberry and red currant. The palate is light and bone-dry with subtle flavors of red fruits, citrus and rosewater that continue in the long finish. A bit like the Baudry Chinon Rosé, it will accompany terrines and patés, chicken and pork dishes. And while its delicous now, don't hesitate to put some away for next summer... David Lillie
From Stéphane Tissot's Biodynamic vineyard in Arbois, named for Stéphane's father, Andre "DD" Tissot. This is a delicious blend of Trousseau, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir co-fermented in 2000L foudres. 2016 was a difficult and low-yielding vintage that ended on a warm and sunny note for Stéphane. Aromas of violets, spice, and wild herbs usher in redolent notes of bramble fruit. At 12% (a degree higher than last vintage) the palate feels light on its feet, with lush flavors of raspberry, bright, ripe cherry and hints of purple flowers and spice. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy with a variety of cheeses, roasted chicken, or on its own! Amanda Bowman
Cuvée Octobre is made from equal parts Black Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah from vines raised on steep slopes in the Collioure AOC. The organic vineyards are situated high above Banyuls-sur-Mer and are picked late which adds some warmth and depth to the cool minerality from the schist soils. The nose offers aromas of blackberry, thyme, and black-cherry. After being opened for a few days, the layers of aromatics deepened with notes of dried herbs, spice, and red fruit. The palate is round and supple with layers of blackberry, smoke, and hints of citrus, and rosemary on the lengthy finish. This is a food-friendly wine and would pair nicely with braised lamb or grilled steak. Complex and highly enjoyable. Amanda Bowman
Equal parts Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from the steep schist terraces of Banyuls-sur-Mer, this is a pure and concentrated expression of this dramatic coastal stretch of the Roussillon. Dark black red color. Lush aromas of blackberry, black plum, bitter chocolate, licorice, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense, ripe and supple with blackberry, strawberry compote, earth, licorice, ginger and spice, with cool citrus and red currant in the long finish. This is a beautiful Collioure that will accompany a steak, grilled meats, stews, grilled vegetables and tagines. Highly recommended. DL
This is a gorgeous Banyuls Blanc, that is to say a Vin Doux Naturel (at 17% alcohol) made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Muscat grown in Traginer's organic vineyards above Banyuls. Beautiful aromas of lime flower, apricot, citrus, pear and almond. Very floral. The palate is deep and medium-sweet with candied citrus, apriot and stone flavors and terrific length. Serve not too cool, as an apéritif or with desserts of peach, apricot, pear and melon. Absolutely delicious! DL
A great and interesting choice for Thanksgiving, the delicious Traginer Collioure has the weight and density to accompany everything on the table! An outstanding and unusual white made by Jean-François Deu at the organic/biodynamic estate, Domaine du Traginer (Mule-driver) in Banyuls and Collioure. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Malvasia from low-yielding vines, on steep slopes of schistes above the Mediterranean. Light gold color. The 2015 is ripe but well-balanced with intense and beautiful aromas of dried white fruits, lime-flower, lemon, stone, almond and pine with hints of spice. Quite complex! The palate is supple and dense with mineral flavors, white and yellow fruits, citrus, pine and brown spice that linger in the very long finish with firm acidity. This is a delicious and versatile wine that will accompany shellfish, grilled fish, chicken in sauce, Asian foods and more. Highly recommended! David Lillie
The Traginer Banyuls Rimage (Vin Doux Naturel) at 17% alcohol is an insanely delicious wine as an apéritif or with deserts of chocolate or fruit (figs especially) and goat cheeses. The 2016 shows a deep black/red color and vivid aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, licorice, violets, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is ripe and lush with blackberry, citrus and cocoa, but very bright and refreshing as well, just delicious. It finishes with citrusy acids and black fruits that linger on the palate - serve cool and enjoy! DL
The Traginer Banyuls Ambré would be an unusual and delicious way to end your feast, pairing well with the pies and delicious to sip when the meal is over...This superb wine is made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, aged for 15 years in small, very old barrels. Complex aromas of citrus, tea, prune, flowers and caramel. The palate is balanced, with a pretty melange of citrus, white fruits, earth and secondary flavors, very long and lifted by nice acidity. A gorgeous vin doux naturel that will accompany aged cheeses, figs and foie gras, and it's sensational beautiful by itself. Really a unique and delicious wine. DL
The Tradition white from the Villets consists of 60% Chard ouillé (topped up) and 40% Savagnin sous voile. The wine is kept for 2 years in large barrels. It's deliciously oxidative with pretty floral aromas, white peach notes, and a graceful finish. Eben Lillie
This Macvin is made from Chardonnay grapes (from 2013), and a homemade marc (or brandy) that is added to the juice before fermentation. It's a specialty of the region, and a curiously delicious one at that. Subtle oxidative notes, burnt orange, dried fruit, with the slightest touch of sweetness. Perfect with regional cheeses like Comte, lighter deserts, or on it's own. As it's higher in alcohol and has a bit of residual sugar, this will keep for longer than a normal bottle of wine. Keep it in the fridge and enjoy over several weeks. Eben Lillie
A Cremant in everything but name, this Vin Mousseaux (a general term that refers to sparkling wines) is 100% Chardonnay Extra-Brut. There is no dosage so it's particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), this is perfectly refreshing (think Summertime), super 'digestif' and great for an apero or with food. Eben Lillie
Made from 100% Cinsault grown on poor soils composed of gravel and limestone pebbles in the Languedoc Pic St. Loup AOC. The nose offers lively aromas of blueberry compote, raspberry, and tobacco leaf spice.Luc and Marie go for a very elegant and forward style, with very little tannin, and great acidity. Will be perfect with all of the tangy and savory Thanksgiving flavors, and fresh enough to help get through all of your epic holiday meals!