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From a 1.75 hectare single vineyard called "Fontanieu", north facing, on a slope near la Cadiere d' Azur on a unique red clay soil over limestone that naturally provides a mineral tension and raciness complemented by notes of nutmeg and violet. Aged in large foudre, 4,000 bottles produced. The 2014 Fontanéou shows a dark black/purple color and aromas of ripe blackberry and back cherry liqueur with smoky garrigue, citrus peel, violet and cocoa. The palate shows supple, spicy black fruits, bitter chocolate, garrigue, black olive and spice - quite ripe but surprisingly well-balanced with cool, earthy acidity. The finish is long with sappy black fruits and mineral flavors - a beautiful Bandol for current drinking that will soften nicely with 5 to 15 years of cellaring. David Lillie
One of a few collaborations between Patrice Beguet and a friend (from the Landron family) in Ancenis, close to Muscadet in the Loire Valley. This is 90% Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet grape) blended with Chardonnay and Savagnin from the Jura. Already showing beautiful stony fruit but leaning towards a touch of 'mousiness' after being opened for an hour or so, I think this wine will be a real treat in 2019, and plenty fun(ky) with a nice chill and a few friends anytime before that. Eben Lillie
"Valcabrières" is made from ancient white grapes native to the Languedoc called Terret Blanc and Terret Gris. The vines are planted gobelet style (bush vines) in horizontal black schist and are around 100 years old. The big bunches are resistant to disease and thrive in the windy and warm climate of Faugères. All of Clos Fantine's wines are vinified in large vats with ambient yeasts, which means that fermentation times will vary each year. For example, the 2016 vintage finished at the same time as the 2017, so the two vintages were blended together and bottled without SO2. The robe is a hazy lemon drop color in the glass. The nose offers tangy grapefruit peel aromas with faint notes of ripe melon, dried herbs and stone. The mid-weight palate is etched with salty minerals, bright acidity, tropical melon, and savory leesy notes on the finish. We enjoyed this with a plate of fried chicken recently, but it pairs nicely with summer vegetables and goat cheeses too. Best served chilled and consumed the same day it's opened. Amanda Bowman
100% Malbec (aka Auxerrois in local parlance). Combel's Château Cuvée comes from estate plots totalling 3 hectares around their home village of Cournou on the limestone plateau known as the Causse at about 320m altitude. The soils for this bottling are mainly red clay with some limestone rock. The organically farmed vines average 40 years old and are kept to a yield of 40 hl/ha. Because of the clay-heavy terroir and winemaking and aging choices, the Château Cuvée marks a signficant step up in body, tannin and complexity compared to the lighter, softer Pur Fruit bottling. This is a beautiful Cahors showing elegant ripe blackberry aromas with a bit of earth, musk, cocoa citrus and violet - the palate is pure and focused with good acidity and ripe, sapid blackberry and cassis fruit, floral, chalky and long. Delicious now, this will develop nicely over the next five years or more. Enjoy with pork chops, a grilled steak, a hearty stew and full-flavored cheeses.
"MacAline" is Aline Hock's wine of Macabeu grown biodynamically on the black schist terroirs of the Agly Valley associated with Roussillon's Maury region. Aromatically rich and pungent (as fuller-bodied and higher alcohol Macabeu tends to be), it shows generous ripe citrus, honey and dried apricot on the nose. Given the fruit-driven intensity of the aromatics, its full-bodied palate is surprisingly nutty and savory, with notes of almond intermingled with dried apricot, finishing with iodine and sea salt. Drink with crab, shrimp and grits, cheddar cheeses, or bacon-wrapped dates. Ben Fletcher
This wine from Aline Hock in the Agly Valley of Roussillon is produced from the Muscat grown biodynamically on schist soils. Vinified on the skins, it pours a hazy yellow in the glass. On the nose it bursts with classic Muscat aromas: orange blossom, fresh grapes, honeydew melon and chamomile. "Mine de Rien" is full-bodied and shows bright mandarin orange, minerality and a gentle herbal note on the palate and finishes dry and saline. The wine has an exciting tension between density and bright citrus and salinity, complemented by its exuberantly fruit and flower driven aromatic character. Drink now with lighter Mediterranean food or warmly spiced chicken dishes: think olives and feta, tagines, or even jerk chicken. Ben Fletcher
"Mus'Cachou" is an off-dry expression of Muscat produced from grapes grown biodynamically on the schist terroir of Roussillon's Agly Valley. Extremely aromatic, this wine shows bright lychee, crushed sweet grape, and freshly pressed orange juice. The palate is dense and honeyed with mandarin orange, candied almond, and fig; opulent at first, the wine finishes with clean bitter orange and fresh acidity. Open after dinner with a cheese course that features highly flavorful cheese like Roquefort or Gorgonzola, or with fruit or cheese-based desserts. This natural, low-sulfur, off-dry wine shows best immediately after opening, and should be served quite cool. Ben Fletcher
A terrific value from Haut-Savoie! "Quintessence" is made from 100% organic chasselas sourced for Dominique Lucas' new négociant project. A simple and immensely pleasurable wine with summery aromas of wildflower honey, bergamot, and golden fruit. The palate is light and fresh with exquisite mineral tension beneath subtle flavors of apricot and alpine herbs. The finish is persistent, salty and delicately mineral. A lovely wine to serve as an apero or pair with salads, white fish, or ham sandwiches. Amanda Bowman
From young Jura newcomer Guillaume Gilet, this is Chardonnay from organic vineyards that overlook the town of Arbois. Very fresh, with notes of lemon curd, cantelope, apples and herbs. Guillaume uses no SO2 during winemaking (sometimes bottling with none added) and tries to preserve some natural CO2 gas to protect his wines in the absence of SO2. This blows off within a few minutes, so decanters are not necessary. There's a driving mineral spice that shines through the finish, and an overall very clean and pure natural wine. Eben Lillie
100% Altesse (locally called Roussette) that comes from the steep Marestel Cru situated high above Jongieux on the western side of Mont du Chat; Marestel is one of four appellations within the winding Roussette de Savoie AOC. The steep, southwestern facing slope provides abundant sun exposure for the vines, which aids the ripening in the cool mountain clime. The yields from this site are low and provide very concentrated fruit. The grapes are harvested meticulously by hand and fermented wtih native yeasts in concrete vat before aging on the fine lees in large foudres for a year. After bottling, the wine spends 18 months resting in glass before market release. The 2013, with 2 grams of residual sugar (for the first time ever!) adds a pleasant honneyed sweetness to the ripe melon and toasted hazelnut aromas. The palate is characteristically rich and full with distinct flavors of mint, lemon zest, almond, and wildflower honey. This is a bold and fascinating wine that should only improve with age. Amanda Bowman
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
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
Oh Yeah is Savagnin Ouillé (the term in Jura for a 'topped up' white wine without any oxidative flor or 'voile' character). Patrice has 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of Savagnin in Menay, even less in the Cotes de Feule, and a miniscule amount in Les Corvées. 10% of the fruit is macerated on the skins for a short period and the wine is mostly aged in fiberglass, with a small amount in old barrique. The nose is intriguing, with honey dew melon and lemon verbena notes. On the palate its driven by minerality, white stone fruit, and dry honeysuckle. The wine isn't fined or filtered, so there’s a delicate viscosity in the mid-palate and some texture that gently leads into a sharp, crisp finish. A fascinating white wine that should be included in everyone's professional or recreational study of the Savagnin grape. Eben Lillie
The 2015 Pure "T" is another beautiful natural wine from Franck Pascal and Isabelle Carles at Jonc Blanc! Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on shallow soils over limestone ("Calcaire de Castillon"), two year elevage in 18 hl Stockinger foudres, bottled without fining or filtration and with zero added SO2. The wine shows a very deep black/purple color with lush, vibrant aromas of cassis and blackberry with brown spice citrus, violet and black pepper. The palate is supple and rich but with bright acidity, showing ripe cassis fruit, with earth, coffee, cocoa and sappy fruit liqueur. The finish is lush, complex and long. This is a superb natural Cabernet, a joyful wine to serve slightly cool with grilled foods, stews and charcuterie, or just to sip by itself late at night with a good book.... Highly recommended. David Lillie
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir near Bergerac. No SO2 is used except a tiny addition before bottling. The 2016 Les Sens du Fruit shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, spiced pear, melon, almond and honeyed citrus. The palate is round and ripe with stone and earthy flavors underlying ripe pear and creamy lemon fruit and is backed by firm acidity. The finish is long, ripe and refreshing. This is a complex and delicious natural wine that will shine with shellfish, a platter of cheeses or a fish or chicken in sauce, just delicous! David Lillie
A beautiful natural wine from Isabelle and Franck Pascal at Jonc Blanc. Always a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, raised in large 1500L barrels. The 2016 is super aromatic, with cocoa and earth on the nose, a deep purple hue in the glass with rich silky blackberry fruit. For anyone who is searching for natural wines but prefers to drink Cabs, Malbecs and the like, this is the wine for you! Biodynamic farming, no sulfur added... it's a natural wine through and through (yes not every natural wine is 11% alc. carbonic Gamay!). Just fresh enough to drink on it's own, this will be a knockout with a light chill and paired with grilled food this summer. Eben Lillie
The vineyards of Jonc Blanc were hit by a devastating freeze in April of 2017. From parcels that were 100% lost, the tiny secondary berries were harvested to make this amazing sparkling rosé! Yields were 6.5 hl/ha at 11% alcohol; bottled for the second fermentation at 25 grams of RS per liter, it has turned into a beautiful and complex Bulles Rosé. The wine shows intriguing aromas of wild strawberry, tart cherry, rose, orange peel and brioche. The palate is creamy, light and pretty with tart cherry, rose-water, citrus and melon with a soft, refreshing finsh...could I have another glass? DL
The 2015 comes from Catherine Hannoun's parcels of gray marl in Pupillin. Sometimes she makes this cuvée sous-voile but this vintage is topped-up for a fresher style that is fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel then raised in neutral barrel for over a year. An age-worthy Chardonnay with fascinating aromas of spicy redcurrant, honey, and melon. Like the Savagnin, it is quite compact at first and takes some time to open up, but once it does, complex flavors of tropical melon, blackberry, and honey unfurl on a bed of spicy mineral acidity. It should be interesting to see how this evolves with a few years in the cellar. Amanda Bowman
Z Blanc is 100% Viognier grown by Géraldine and Meryl Crozier at La Vrille et le Papillon in the Ardeche. This is a lovely natural Viognier that shows a slightly cloudy pale gold color and a bit of reduction when first opened, then lovely very floral aromas of lime-flower, lemon, earth and pear. The palate is light and pretty with citrus, herbal and pear flavors; the finish is refreshing and long with white fruits and minerals. Organic farming, unfiltered and bottled with minimal SO2. David Lillie
The Fees rosé returns, and is the perfect rosé to carry you through the fall and winter, on nights when you want a flavorful wine without going for a big red. The 2017 is a bit more concentrated than the last vintage, with more spice and kick, though it's still balanced at 12.5% All Syrah from a vineyard on the 'Route d'Albas,' with one part of the vineyard close to a river bank on clay and limestone soils. It gets hot in the Ardeche, but the proximity to the river keeps the vineyard cool and the wine fresh.
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is made from equal parts Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and a small addition of Macabeu. Each parcel is hand-harvested, the grapes are fermented separately with native yeasts and raised in used demi-muid. This superlative cuvée is a fascinating showcase of the Roussillon's mighty terrior. The acidic soils of decomposed granite give this wine excellent mineral tension that deepens with time in bottle. Aromas are intricately woven with notes of bright lemon oil, verbena, sage, and salty seashells. The palate is supple and round with generous flavors of pear, white flowers, thyme, and almond framed by pure mineral acidity. This is a fantastic wine that is delicouis now but will develop a beautiful honeyed texture and rich flavors after 5-10 years in bottle. Eric recommends pairing this with sardines on toast, goat cheeses, and roasted chicken. Amanda Bowman
"Eos Blanc" is a rewarding discovery for anyone seeking an intriguing wine of terrioir at an affordable price. Eric Laguerre's vineyards are planted at high-altitude in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet, where the acidic soils are composed of gneiss and broken-down granite with some pockets of quartz. This composition forms a sturdy backbone of dense minerality and abundant freshness to this "entry-level" cuvée -- a testament to Eric's excellent farming. The 2017 is made from direct press juice, aged in neutral demi-muid for about eight months with minimal added S02 before bottling. The wine shows pale gold in the glass and immediately charms with bright citrus aromas that evolve into notes of ripe pear, hazelnut, garrigue, and warm apricot skins on the palate. This was the first vintage that the Laguerres harvested in August due to the extreme heat in 2017. Despite this, the wine drinks pure and fresh with an invigorating mineral acidity that lingers on the herbal finish. A fantastic every day wine with potential to age 3-5 years, though we're happily drinking this now with or without salad and goat cheeses. Amanda Bowman
Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinification and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended!
"Le Ciste" is named after a flowering bush that grows around the Laguerre's steep, organic vineyards in Saint-Martin de Fenouillet. The 2016 is a layered blend of de-stemmed and whole cluster Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvèdre from soils of decomposed granite and gneiss. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented separately and aged for 12 months in barrel, then assembled in fiber tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. This vintage is evocative of the 2014 with softer, finer tannins compared to the robust 2015. The aromas are complex and redolent of savory herbs (thyme, garrigue), game, black peppercorn, blood orange, and dark chocolate. The palate is balanced with mouth-coating, powdery tannins, dried herbs, black pepper, and an energetic, long mineral finish from the granite soils. Best served with a slight chill alongside grilled meat, charcuterie, cheese, or veggies roasted with Moroccan spices. This is drinking well now, but should be even better in 5-8 years. Amanda Bowman
Eric Laguerre's "Eos Rouge" is an elegant blend of 80% Grenache from 40-year-old gobelet-trained vines, with some Carignan and Syrah from soils of decomposed granite, gneiss, and some veins of quartz. Like "Le Passage," the grapes are fermented in fiber tanks with native yeasts for about two weeks, then aged in concrete. The 2017 is strikingly pure-fruited, with vibrant strawberry and red cherry aromas underpinned by earthy spice, red-currant, and bitter chocolate notes. The peppery tannins and mineral acidity from the high mountain clime form its exquisite structure (Eric says that after 2 years in bottle, you might think it's Pinot Noir). This is a balanced wine that should pair wonderfully with grilled sausages, lentils, or goat cheeses. Open an hour before serving if drinking now, or hold for up to 10 years. Amanda Bowman
Chateau Lapuyade produces this courtly Sec from their lush, Biodynamic estate in the foothills of the Pyrenées -- the formation of which created the unique conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposits beneath the sandy clay topsoil of the Jurançon, south of Pau. The 2016 is based on the dynastic white grapes, Gros and Petit Manseng, which are fermented dry as the hot winds coursing over the mountains from Spain. The nose is resplendent with faraway notes of pineapple and cinnamon, framed by ripened Bosc pear, almond, and lemon pith. Sophisticated and self-possessed, the palate offers tropical citrus and undertones of quince and brown spice. The finish persists with piquant lemon notes and lingers on a bed of dense minerals. A mesmerizing wine befitting a variety of cheeses, especially sheep’s milk, roast chicken breast, or fish in sauces. Amanda Bowman
Domaine les Fouques has been has been certified Biodynamic (Demeter) for over 20 years, and also raises sheep, ducks, chickens and guinea-hens on their old-fashioned mixed-use farm. La Londe is their best rosé from old vines of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle. Unlike the majority of Provencal rosés, it is made naturally with wild yeasts, giving a more subtle expression of fruit and terroir. The 2017 is a beautiful wine, lighter and brighter than the 2016 in style. The wine shows a lovely pale pink/salmon color with elegant aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, peach and rose with hints of spice. The palate shows creamy raspberry, peach and red currant fruit with citrus peel and mineral flavors. The finish is long and refreshing with berry fruits, citrus and firm acidity, just lovely. This wine will gain complexity over the next six months and will drink beautifully through 2019. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
The Cuvée Aubigue Blanc from Les Fouques is made from 80% Rolle (Vermentino) with 10% Clairette and 10% Ugni Blanc. It's a delicious, full-flavored Provençal white with complex aromas of apple and pear liqueur and hints of dried flowers, almond and herbs. The palate is round and ripe with white fruits, candied citrus and dense mineral and stone flavors with good acidity. A great aperitf or accompaniment to full-flavored fish dishes and asian foods. Certified biodynamic (Demeter), wild-yeast fermentation. (The wine received a well-deserved gold medal at the 2017 Concours des Vignerons Independants)
This is one of our favorite Rosés every year - the 2017 Cuvée de l'Aubigue is a sensational wine and a fabulous value! Made from Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino grown on soils of clay and schist near Hyères in Provence. Biodynamic farming, wild yeast fermentation. Lovely light salmon color. The nose carries beautiful aromas of delicate strawberry and white peach, along with nectarine, pink grapefruit, and white blossom. The palate on the 2017 is slightly denser and juicier than the 2016, but it is still framed by good acidity and a hint of minerality, making this a crisp and delicious everyday summer rosé. Oskar Kostecki
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
Made from 100% Chardonnay grown in the same vineyard as Les Molates and fermented entirely in stainless steel before spending twelve to sixteen months on lees, this is a serious first foray into the sparkling wines from Domaine des Marnes Blanches. All of the base wine is from the 2014 vintage and this is the first year that this has been released without dosage. The nose is bright with honeysuckle, mango, and lime flower. On the palate it has a fine mousse with an almost toothsome texture; it is bone dry with hints of marmalade, exotic fruit, and a fresh, zesty acidity. This is simply the perfect apéritif. Tim Gagnon
Now we go a step further: the Fromont’s Crémant Reserve is also 100% Chardonnay, but sourced from a parcel of old vines that was planted in 1955 in soil rich with white marl. The base wine is entirely from the 2013 vintage (all of the base wines they use are single vintage; they do not use reserve wine) and is fermented partially in stainless steel before being racked to neutral barrique. This spends a minimum of 24 months on the lees, and is also bottled with zero dosage. It is stony and deep, with hints of orange peel and blossom; apricots and marzipan come forward with time in the glass. It is more broad and textured on the palate, with orchard fruit, sea salt, and a deep, borderline savory minerality. Long, elegant, and immensely drinkable. Tim Gagnon
"En Quartre Vis" (topped-up Chardonnay) is sourced from a few different parcels, all of them vinified separately in neutral barrel then blended together in stainless steel tank before bottling with minimal added sulfur. The robe is a cheerful lemon color in the glass and offers vivid aromas of clementine, fresh mint, honey, and crisp apple skins. The body is light and nervy with taut acidity beneath layers of tangy citrus and salted melon on the long finish. The flavors continued to evolve on the second day; this wine should shine in 3 years. Amanda Bowman
"Les Molates" is a bright and honeyed, topped-up Chardonnay that comes from the Fromont's younger vines (around 35-years-old) planted in red marl under limestone in Sainte-Agnès. After a direct press, the wine is allowed to ferment spontaneously, and is then aged in neutral oak for 18 months before bottling with minimal added sulfur. The robe is a golden straw color in the glass and the aromas offer a sweet vernal freshness with notes of white flower, beeswax, lemon meringue, and chamomile. On the palate, the body is leaner than past vintages with delicate citrus acidity carrying notes of ripe yellow apple over a pleasing, salty mineral finish. Amanda Bowman
"Levrette" is a topped-up Chardonnay from older vines (around 60-years-old) from the Fromont's limestone and Gryphées (fossil-rich) soils in the Vincelles vineyard. After direct press, they allow the wine to spontaneously ferment, then age in old oak for 18 months before bottling with minimal added sulfur. Amanda Bowman
Biodynamic since 1999, Chateau Mayragues makes beautiful wines from the local grapes, such as this distinctive white from 100% Loin de L'Oeil. Quite ripe in the 2016 vintage, the aromas are of dried pear, almond, honeysuckle and citrus peel. Nice full white fruits on the palate with ripe pear, apple, anise, white pepper, floral and citrus flavors, really quite lovely. This is a beautiful summer aperitif and will accompany a variety of seafood dishes, terrines, mild cheeses and Asian foods.
This beautiful Languedoc red is from very old vines of Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. This is a big Languedoc red that is light on it's feet - nice with a coq au vin as well as heftier stews and grilled meats. Decant well in advance if drinking now or open the night before - or cellar for five to ten years. Thanks to Thierry Navarre for his beautiful natural wines that are great values.
An almost extinct grape grown in the Languedoc, in southern France, Ribeyrenc has been preserved mostly due to the work of Thierry Navarre and his father before him. It’s thin-skinned and yields a fresh and vibrant red wine that could easily pass for a dark rosé. Fresh, floral, and unlike anything else! EL
Thierry Navarre is one of the few people who still grow Oeillades - a nearly extinct grape that has a long history in the Langudedoc and is thought to be an old cousin of Cinsault. Thierry's Oeillades grows on the rugged mountainsides above Roquebrun in Saint-Chinian. The 2017 shows a beautiful wild strawberry and purple-tinged color in the glass. The nose offers abundant strawberry and orange aromas with delicate notes of lavender, cardamom and dried rose petals. The palate is light and wonderfully lifted with flavors of ripe strawberry, herbal tea, and refreshing exotic citrus on the finish. A balanced rosé with plenty of aromatic complexity and crunchy acidity to pair with a variety of dishes. We recently enjoyed this with Mediterranean-inspired fried food - a highly recommended pairing! Amanda Bowman
"Porcellese" comes from a parcel of 52 year-old, gobelet-trained Niellucciu vines planted in alluvial soils. The grapes are fermented whole-cluster in concrete tank with daily pump-overs, and then spend two years aging in concrete before being bottled with small amounts of sulfur. The 2014 is an elegant and layered expression of Nieullucciu. The nose offers seductive aromas of cherry, cocoa, black olives, and violets. The palate is more black-fruited than the earlier-drinking, limestone-based "Cantina di Torra" bottling. Firm, fine-grained tannins provide elegant structure to the bold flavors of black plum skins, tart cherry, cassis, game, and espresso. Recently this paired excellently with pan-seared pork. Amanda Bowman
This 100% Vementinu is rich and complex after spending 12 months on the lees in tank and then bottled unfiltered with a small amount of added S02. The aromas are effusive with wafts of salty stone, orchard fruit, lime blossom, and thyme rising from the glass. The palate is supple and round with flavors of apricot, fresh herbs, and salt on the finish. This is one of the most unique examples of Corsican Vermentinu we've tasted. The 2016 shows less intense acidity and is wonderfully fruit-driven with a compelling chalky texture.This is a fascinating wine that will stand up to poultry and seafood. Amanda Bowman
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.
Maccabeu and Grenache Gris from black schist soils of Maury, in the Roussillon, bordering Spain and the Pyrenees Mountains. There's great density and body to the wine, balanced by a mineral finish. I'm personally a big fan of Maccabeu and find wines made from this grape have really nice weight and good cut as well. This is the wine I immediately recommend to everyone who walks in to Chambers looking for a full bodied white that would work for Thanksgiving! EL
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
"Autrement" is Fabrice Dodane's modern take on Savagnin. The wine is made ouillée or "topped-up" for a less oxidative (traditional) expression of the variety. The style may be considered modern, but the aromas are classic Jura: crushed seashells and toasted walnuts give way to bright notes of freshly cut apple and lemon peel on the nose. The palate is laser-like yet dense with tightly woven mineral acidity that cuts through the rich flavors of walnut oil and lemon curd. The finish is persistent and deliciously salty. Highly recommend for fans of the nerviness and tension found in Albariño! Amanda Bowman
From clay/limestone soils in the Jura, south-west from Arbois. West exposition. Definitely deserving of a decant, this is a fantastic deal for a Chardonnay that has a real sense of place. (On Sale through June 9th, was $19.99)
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. Don't worry about the low price - this is a sensational dessert wine that will really please a crowd on Thanksgiving!
Soil here is clay from Triassic period, and the parcel is East-facing. It's a great introduction to Vin Jaune, and quite easy to drink.
From a vineyard with East exposition on old degraded Lias soil. There's a touch of orange citrus, and a nice balance of rusticity and subtle bitterness, with some cereal character.
North-facing parcel on Trias soil. La Vasée is silkier and creamier than Tissot's other Vin Jaunes, and has almost a salty and oily feel. Nice structure, with a subtle nutty and almost whiskey-like finish.
The special "W" bottling is aged in used whiskey barrels from Michel Couvreur. Couvreur makes a special whiskey aged in Vin Jaune casks too, in a kind of perpetual collaboration with Tissot. Not as marked by whiskey notes as one might expect, but it nevertheless does lend the Vin Jaune an interesting character.
Stephane Tissot's 2015 Savagnin spends 3 years on its lees, 6 months in barrel, then 2.5 years under the veil and shows all of the jaunty, ebullience of youth: so pure, expressive, and confident in its place in the world. So new that upon the first nosing, one can easily conjure the tranquil Cuisance river and nutty Comte from its hometown of Arbois. It is so like its maker, Stephane, bursting with energy and detailed information about where it's from. The ripe vintage is a flavor circus of winter citrus, nutty cheese, crème brûlée, and wild strawberries. The finish is propelled by quince spice and salty stones, and persists like a commercial airliner on a generous runway. An exceptional wine from an exceptional producer. A wine that we will eagerly greet again in 15-20 years. Amanda Bowman
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. Tasted in January of 2018, the 2014 Blanc was showing beautifully with aromas of pear, apricot and citrus with hints of white flowers, stone and spice that continue on the palate which is round, dense, very mineral and long with good acidity, complex and delicious. Serve with a fish stew, fish in sauce, white meats and a wide variety of cheeses.
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
Equal parts Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah from the steep schist terraces of Banyuls-sur-Mer, this is a pure and concentrated expression of this dramatic coastal stretch of the Roussillon. Dark black red color. Lush aromas of blackberry, black plum, bitter chocolate, licorice, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense, ripe and supple with blackberry, strawberry compote, earth, licorice, ginger and spice, with cool citrus and red currant in the long finish. This is a beautiful Collioure that will accompany a steak, grilled meats, stews, grilled vegetables and tagines. Highly recommended. DL
The Traginer Banyuls Rimage (Vin Doux Naturel) at 17% alcohol is an insanely delicious wine as an apéritif or with deserts of chocolate or fruit (figs especially) and goat cheeses. The 2016 shows a deep black/red color and vivid aromas of ripe blackberry, prune, licorice, violets, bitter chocolate and earth. The palate is ripe and lush with blackberry, citrus and cocoa, but very bright and refreshing as well, just delicious. It finishes with citrusy acids and black fruits that linger on the palate - serve cool and enjoy! DL
This superb wine is made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc and Muscat, aged for 15 years in small, very old barrels. Complex aromas of citrus, tea, prune, flowers and caramel. The palate is balanced, with a pretty melange of citrus, white fruits, earth and secondary flavors, very long and lifted by nice acidity. A gorgeous vin doux naturel that will accompany aged cheeses, figs and foie gras, and it's sensationally beautiful by itself. Really a unique and delicious wine. DL
The Domaine Turenne "Antoine" is an extraordinary Provençal white made with 50% Vermentino and 50% old vines of Petite Clairette du Var, dating from 1903! Organic farming, hand harvesting and wild yeast fermentations. Pale gold color with green hints; aromas of almond, pear, hay, lemon zest, verveine, anise...you get the idea. The palate is very mineral and dense, with firm acidity, showing anise, white fruit liqueur, stone and citrus, supple and long, really a lovely wine and a great value! This versatile wine will accompany shellfish and grilled fish, white meats, salads, goat cheeses and much more... David Lillie