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If you'll forgive, the flight of fancy, Savoie whites tug at the heartstrings. A snowmelt swollen mountain stream overflowing its banks and washing thru a meadow of wildflowers fresh. Shimmering afternoon sunlight thru leaves, a suspicion of a breeze, Springtime in the glass! John McIlwain
A reserved Bandol rosè, primarily Mourvedre with Cinsault and Grenache. The Mourvedre is pressed and run off directly, the Cinsault and Grenache undergo 24 hours of skin contact. Certified organic grapes from the Bronzo family vineyard in Le Castellet. The 2017 has a coppery, salmon-colored robe. The nose, initially backward, offers an array of stone fruit and savoy herb notes, with garrigue and ripe peach aromas vying for attention with time in the decanter. The palate offers peach skin, orange oil, and earthy flavors leading to a long, persistent, sapid finish. This is newly arrived and should take a month or two to unwind. Better with a decant or a day open. (Happily, in mid-August the young Bastide Blanche has opened up and is beggining to sing it's complex and beautiful song of Bandol - drink now and over the next three years.)
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
"Les Alpes" is a blend of two parcels - one close to Dominique's home on marl soils and the other rich in limestone. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs before it's blended in tank and bottled with minimal sulfur. The 2016 is a lovely wine that shows pretty white flowers, tangy pineapple and orange blossom. Salty minerals and tart acidity give this a wonderful texture that is evocative of a briny Albariño from Northwestern Spain. Amanda Bowman
"QV d'Etoiles" is 100% Chardonnay from 35-year-old vines planted in the fossilized "star" scattered soils of the l'Étoile AOC. This appellation is famous for it's incredibly long-lived oxidative wines and vin jaune, but this bottling is made in a topped-up (ouillee) style, making this one of the more fascinating cuvées from Ludwig "Lulu" Bindernagel. The aromas are heady with vivid notes of comté and toasted walnuts. Even though the nose hints at oxidative flavors, the body is energetic with fine minerality, bright lemon zest and a persistent salty finish. Only 900 bottles of this vintage were made so we are excited that it's still around to enjoy with some bottle age. Amanda Bowman
Each year the Andrieu family chooses the best grapes of the vintage for their Cuvée Courtiol. In 2015 it's predominantly Mourvedre from bush-trained, 30 year-old vines grown on beautiful schist vineyards in Faugères. The grapes are hand-harvested into small crates, and as always, the fermentation is long and slow with indigenous yeasts then bottled with no fining, filtration or added SO2. Deep red/black color in the glass, like the "Tradition" the 2015 has less "sauvage" aromas than past vintages. Elegant notes of plum, cherry liqueur, violets and roasted herbs develop on the nose as the wine aerates. The palate shows dense blackberry fruit with hints of tart cherry, anise seed and bitter chocolate framed by firm, earthy tannins. This is a beautiful natural wine that the Andrieu family recommends holding for 5-10 years or decant two hours before drinking if you don't want to wait! Amanda Bowman
While we’ve always loved Clos Fantine due to their impeccable farming, thoughtful cellar work, and the wines’ wild soulfulness, we’re especially enamored by the juicy and pure 2016 Tradition. This cuvée is a harmonious blend of de-stemmed Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache vinified separately in large vats with indigenous yeasts, then assembled and aged in cement before bottling with no sulfur. Slightly more polished than previous vintages, this year is singing, with a nose that is bursting with aromas of wood smoke, baked red apple skins, citrus and garrigue. The wine shows a deep purple in the glass. The palate is lifted by cool minerality and structured with powdery tannins with flavors of juicy plum, cinnamon spice and dried herbs on the finish. This is a satisfying wine that would pair beautifully with grilled sausages and wild rice. Amanda Bowman
"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
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% Braucol from a parcel planted in soils rich with clay, limestone and gravel, which Stéphane Lucas pressed after 12 days of maceration, fermented with native yeasts, and aged for 10 months in stainless steel tanks with minimal added sulfur. If you enjoy Cabernet Franc from the Loire, then you might enjoy this Braucol for its fresh bramble fruit flavors, earthiness, and mineral structure without all the weight. Highly recommend with a slight chill. This should be perfect alongside goat cheese, sausages, or hearty lentils. Amanda Bowman
As the story goes, Abouriou was discovered growing on the walls of ruined castle in the South-West of France in the mid-1800s. It's cultivated in small amounts in the Cotes du Marmadais appellation, not far from Bordeaux. Either a grandparent or half-sibling of both Merlot and Cot (Malbec), it's a darker skinned variety, with gamey flavor and a touch of spice. We love this expression from Elian da Ros, who is admittedly more famous than the appellation he calls home. It's medium bodied, not over-extracted, and a nice introduction to a very rare cepage.
Roi des Lézards is all Carignan, from vines ranging from 35 - 75 years, aged in a combination of 1500 L Austrian Stockinger barrels, and 500 L used barrels. This is a significant bottle of Carignan, offering dark, purple fruit and good grip. The famous French term "garrigue" immediately comes to mind, even from smelling the wine. Used to describe the aromas typical of the shrubs and fauna of the Mediterranean, such as Thyme, Rosemary and Lavender, one couldn't find a better descriptor for the flavor profile of this wine. This vintage is a touch lighter and more balanced than the '13 so it could be enjoyed on it's own, but will likely be best on the dinner table with grilled meats and veggies, or other hearty fare. Eben Lillie
From 85 year old vines of Grenache gris and Grenache blanc, with a small amount of Maccabeu from a 75 year old parcel. Fermented and aged for 9 months in Austrian oak vat (12 hl Stockinger) and smaller used barrels. This is a really fascinating white that has been creating quite a little buzz here at Chambers St. Notes of lemon curd, marzipan and herbs, envoloping in mouth...with mineral cut in the finish, and a touch of spice that lingers after each sip. A must for fans of interesting and unique white wines. 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 - in this case the Tracteur Rouge, a light, refreshing blend of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The wine shows a lovely bright red color and pretty aromas of strawberry, raspberry and tart cherry with hints of violet, earth and spice. The palate is bright and slightly peppery showing strawberry and red currant fruit with a nice lift of earth and citrus in the finish. It's lovely, served quite cool, with charcuterie, burgers, chicken and cheeses from Comté to Raclette. David Lillie Quick facts: in the 70s, the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine) wanted to study conventional grapes, so they planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Gamay in the region. Thomas has gone about recuperating some of these vineyards, and uses the fruit for the fabulous Tracteur rouge! 35 gamay/35 pinot/20 merlot/10 cab -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
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
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
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
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 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
Syrah and Carignan blend with no SO2 added. Vibrant and lifted, with subtle tannin. (On Sale through June 9th Was $17.99)
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
This delightful wine from our new friends Meryl and Géraldine at "La Vrille et le Papillon" was imported for Chambers Street. We're pleased to see that it was the highest-ranked choice in the New York Times Thanksgiving wines article!! It's a light and lovely Viognier from the Ardeche that shows bright floral aromas of lemon, lime-flower, peach, mint and stone, really quite pretty. There is a bit of petillance on the palate with creamy citrus, peach, apricot and hay. Light and refreshing, with citrus, stone and yeasty flavors in the finish, this is a delightful and food-friendly wine!
We're happy to have another vintage of this delicious Merlot from Meyrl and Géraldine Crozier in the Ardeche - in the hills just west of the Rhône river, near Montelimar. The 2016 Chapeau Melon shows a dense black/garnet color and aromas of ripe blackberry and cassis, with floral and earthy notes. The palate is dense but not heavy with bright blackberry, cherry and cassis fruit backed by firm acidity and with flavors of soil and stone. This is a lovely natural Merlot of terroir that will be a great pairing with grilled foods this summer. Serve cool - it's a great value and is made with little or no SO2 for those who want to avoid additives in their wine...
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
Geraldine and her brother Meryl Crozier have a lovely estate situated just west of the Rhone river in Ardeche. The "Z" Rouge is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Merlot and shows wild rose and black fruit aromas with wafts of gravel, earth, and blood orange. The palate is light but complex and supple with dense plum and cool blackberry fruits, anise and earth that linger on the long finish. An excellent natural wine that is perfect with a slight chill and served with just about anything right off the grill. Amanda Bowman
"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
"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
"Le Passage" is a hardy blend of 65% Syrah (de-stemmed) and 35% Carignan from Eric Laguerre's highest parcel (1,700 feet), on soils of decomposed granite. The grapes are pressed into fiber tank for fermentation with native yeasts, then aged in concrete with minimal added SO2. This cuvee is fuller-bodied than his "EOS Rouge," with the high-quality of his low-yielding Carignan on full display. The robe shows a deep purple in the glass with enticing aromas of lavender, blood orange, and plum aromas. The dense palate has a silky texture with supple, bitter cocoa tannins. The flavors of blackberry, stone, and plum finish with a fresh citrus acidity that is especially delicious when served with a chill. Drink now or save for 2-3 years for a more mature experience. 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
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!
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
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 - 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
A delicious blend of 60% Jacquere and 40% Altesse (Roussette). Marie and Florian pick grapes from a early ripening parcel of Altesse, and a mature parcel of Jacquerre, and harvest, press and vinify together, as they like the harmony that is achieved through co-fermentation. I love the electric side of this wine, paired with the subtle texture that develops with some aeration. Drink now or hold. Light filtration before bottling, minimal SO2 added. Eben Lillie
The Chautagne is a blend of Gamay and Mondeuse (about 70/30) from the commune of Motz. Maceration is whole cluster for a period of about 6 weeks, without pigeage (pushing down of the cap) or remontage (pumping over), so it's more a gentle infusion than an extraction. The wine is aged on the lees for approximately 9 months. Florian mentioned that the old vines of Gamay produce less - and often less concentrated - grapes, but they are always more "gouleyant" (roughly translated, it means "tasty" or "really good"). All in all a very tasty, complex, and harmonious expression of Gamay and Mondeuse. Eben Lillie
Fresh tasty Jacquere from Marie and Florian Curtet! This is a perfect aperitif/salad/snack wine, definitely on the higher acid side. I always liken Jacquere (especially from Maillet - and now the Curtets) to Melon de Bourgogne, because it reminds me so much of the stony, mineral wines from Muscadet in the Loire Valley. Drink now or stock up for warmer weather, as this is a perfect thirst quencher. Eben Lillie
Wow! A Pinot Noir that truly stands out. I did NOT guess this was Pinot when I tasted it, instead thinking it was their old vines Mondeuse. In any case, I was impressed. Marie and Florian are impressed too, but maybe less surprised. As they say, Pinot Noir has a a particular graphite quality (describing the minerality in the mouthfeel) due to the Molasses soil in their region. Combined with a small and very ripe harvest, this is a rich and expressive Pinot! Ripe cherry, blackberry, and spice, with plenty of fruit and a long mineral finish framing it all. It's only 13%, so it's not "big," it just has a lot of character! Eben Lillie
"Les Normins" (topped-up Chardonnay) is a new cuvée for us and a most welcome addition. From 75-year-old vines planted in white marl under limestone in the Fromont's first holdings in Cesancey. After a direct press, they allow spontaneous fermentation, then age the wine for 23 months in neutral oak barrel with minimal added sulfur. The wine is a golden hay color in the glass and offers heady aromas of white flowers, honeycomb, walnut and zesty lemon curd. The body has a waxy texture with powdery minerals and crackling acidity. At 14% ABV it is high in alcohol, but deceptively so (until you stand up!). The flavors are hedonistic with classic notes of Comté and, surprisingly, ripe red fruits. This is a powerful wine that should age well for years to come. Amanda Bowman
"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
Le Blanc is the only white Coutelou made in 2016 and it is the first of his whites we've carried at Chambers Street. This is a fresh and summery blend of 40% Macabeu, 30% Grenache Gris, 20% Clairette, 10% Muscat à Petits Grains from parcels planted near the seaside. Lifted floral aromas, lemon pith, and pleasantly leesy notes mingle with tangy ripe fruits. The palate is full and round from the Macabeau but there is an energetic freshness from the Clairette to buoy the rich stonefruit flavors. The finish is refreshing with a lingering note of bitter almond. This is a bottle we'll be happy to revisit all summer long. Amanda Bowman
Thierry Navarre's touchstone "Laouzil" is a blend of equal parts Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah from old vines planted on brown schist ("Laouzil" in the local dialect) soils in the rugged mountains of Roquebrun (Saint-Chinian). The grapes are de-stemmed and aged in neutral barrel before bottling with minimal sulfur. The robe is a lovely red/black in the glass. The wine shows seductive aromas of spiced plums, dried rosemary, and deeper notes of coffee and dry earth. The rich palate is bursting with black fruit flavors, peppercorn, and savory herbs with a structured texture of dense minerals and bright acidity on the long, persistent finish. This is a fascinating wine of terroir that Thierry says will be perfect in 5 years (though it is delicious now). Amanda Bowman
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
Lledoner Pelut is a relatively unknown variety, related to Grenache (and known as Garnacha Peluda in Spain). Philippe Wies farms Lledoner Pelut and Grenache Noir in the Catalan hills of France, in a special part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region with soils of decomposed black schist. Philippe finds 2013 to be much like 2017, which was a warm year that didn't require long aging. The wine was ready after 8 months in large Alsatian barrels (Philippe is originally from Alsace) and was then moved to fiberglass tank for one month before bottling. Thanks to a very gentle vertical press (that Philippe built by hand), there is very little extraction here. It's 13.5%, with lovely finesse and a touch of funk. No SO2 added. (On Sale through June 9th Was $18.99) EL
Grenache from schist soil in Maury, nestled near the Pyrenees mountains. Loustics is from an arid north-facing parcel, and always has a nice freshness to it. The shist soils don a particular mineral aroma and finish to the wine, blending well with the natural tannin to give some rustic character to the wine. In the end, it's an easy drinking, gentle and a bit "sauvage" expression of Grenache. Drink with a slight chill. No SO2 added. (On Sale through June 9th Was $16.99)
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
"Les Brûlées" comes from Fabrice Dodane's vineyard planted on a hill rich with limestone near his cellar in Montigny. 2015 was the first vintage for this cuvée and Fabrice's first experiment with making white wine with zero added sulfur -- we think it's an applause-worthy success. The seductive aromas of smoky gun flint and yellow apple skins mingle with lightly oxidative notes of walnuts and comté. On the palate the wine is dense and textured with powerful mineral acidity that finishes with a lingering salty nuttiness. An expressive wine that is drinking now but should continue to evolve over the next decade. Amanda Bowman
This is a crisp and vibrant rose from the French island of Corsica. From 25-year-old vines of Niellucciu which (per J. Robinson) is a red grape native to Corsica and is genetically identical to Sangiovese. The vines are planted in schist and limestone soils and are farmed using strict organic and some biodynamic treatments. Thomas Santamaria meticulously selects the grapes for this rosé during his first pass through the vines that will later be used to to make his Patrimonio Rouge cuvée . Like all of his wines, he allows the rosé to ferment with native yeasts in stainless steel with minimal added sulphur. The wine shows a lovely light pink in the glass with fresh aromas of ripe strawberries, peach skins, red cherry and stone. The palate is light and thirst-quenching with crunchy acidity and flavors of tart cherry, stone fruit and a slight note of bitter herbs on the finish. This is a classic and refreshing Mediterranean rosé that should pair wonderfully with grilled vegetables or salad Niçoise. Amanda Bowman
Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Vermentino! Yep. that's right. And no sulfur added? And gulp-ably delicious, but with those bold flavors of Provence? Yes, please.
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)
This is a beautiful ouillé (topped up i.e. NOT oxidative) Savagnin from young winemaker Eric Thill in the Jura. Eric is originally from Alsace and finds Savagnin reminds him of Sylvaner a bit. I see the resemblance, as his Savagnin has nice stone fruit aromas, and impressive density on the palate. A real treat and a unique expression of the variety. (On Sale through June 9th, Was $23.99)
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.
An exceptional, terroir-driven Chardonnay from the heavy clay soils of Stéphane Tissot's Mailloche vineyard. The 2015 is wonderfully fresh and characteristically spicy with invigorating lemon citrus, smoky flint, salted almond skin and golden apple on the complex nose. The palate is powerful yet feels light on its feet with a firm backbone of spicy mineral acidity, flavors of orange citrus, nutmeg with bitter almond on the long finish. I recently enjoyed this with mushroom risotto but it should be fantastic with chicken and swiss cheeses as well. It would be interesting to revisit this wine in a few years. Amanda Bowman
2016 was a difficult year for red wine in the Jura, but you wouldn't know it by Tissot's Trousseau Singulier. Elegant, concentrated and fresh with fine tannins -- this is a masterful Trousseau from one of Jura's best. 80% of the grapes come from young vines of selection massale Trousseau from the famous Sous Curon site. The vines yield few but big bunches for a fruity character with snappy acidity. The remaining grapes come from older vines grown on Liassic clay. All de-stemmed and fermented for one month in open tank with a few gentle pump-overs, then aged in 600 L demi-muid. The nose offers pretty notes of wild strawberry, blood orange, and earthy spice. Polished tannins elevated by bright and cool brambly fruit flavors make this marvelous on its own or perfect for cheeses, charcuterie, mushrooms or poultry. Amanda Bowman
An abiding staff favorite from Stéphane Tissot's biodynamic estate in Arbois, this crémant is a blend of 55% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 10% Poulsard and Trousseau. The interplay between the dry, mineral complexity and rich generosity make this an incredible Champagne-alternative. Opulent aromas of raw honey and baked red apple lead to flavors of tangy yellow fruit, crisp apple, toasted almond, and quince on the persistent finish. A versatile wine that keeps getting better every time we open a bottle (which is often). Amanda Bowman
Grenache, Grenache Gris and Carignan, aged for six years or more in ancient barrels, bottled without fining or filtration. Jean-François Deu at Domaine du Traginer makes elegant, complex and beautifully balanced Banyuls at his organic and biodynamic estate. The 2008 Banyuls Grand Cru shows fabulous aromas of burnt orange, prune, lemon peel, rose, earth and aged cheese...for starters. Very deep and complex. The palate is ripe and a bit sweet, but refreshing and balanced by bright acidity with prune, red currant, rose and deep berry confit with citrus, brown spice and earth. Beautiful wine - great to sip by itself or serve with fruit desserts and chocolate. Highly recommended. DL
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.
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
Jean-Francois Deu makes beautiful wines on his biodynamic estate in Collioure, including this outstanding 2015 Rosé "Le Gourmand." The wine shows a pretty pink/orange color, with aromas of red currant and strawberry with hints of prune, orange peel, rose and spice. The palate is round and ripe with deep black cherry and strawberry liqueur, but nicely balanced by firm acidity and has beautiful length. Serve this full-bodied rosé with grilled chicken and pork or with an appetizer of olives, cheeses and charcuterie. Lovely wine! 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
Domaine Turenne produces beautiful wines in Provence through many years of organic farming, hand harvesting and wild yeast fermentations. The elegant rosé Cuvée Gravoches is made from 70% Mourvedre with 15% Grenache and 15% Cinsault, similar to the blend in nearby Bandol. The 2016 shows a lovely bight pink/orange color and aromas of tart raspberry, orange peel, peach and brown spice. The palate is supple and dense with mineral flavors underlying ripe berry and stone fruits - it's quite well-structured and very long, a young wine that will open nicely with aeration or with a few years of aging. A rosé of cuisine, serve with white meats, grilled pork with Provencal herbs, chicken in sauce, bouillabaisse, tagines and goat cheeses. David Lillie
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
Domaine Turenne, northeast of Bandol in Provence, produces this lovely rosé from 80% Cinsault, 10% Grenache and 10% Syrah, certified organic. The terroir is a unique bed of limestone and sandstone debris with sand/clay stones called "Gavroches" which bring a pronounced minerality and good drainage to the vines. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and the wine is bottled with minimal SO2. The 2017 "Camille" is a pretty, very pale pink/orange color with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, rose and citrus, with a hint of stone fruits as well. The palate is light and elegant with subtle berry fruits, a hint of citrus and stone, and has nice density and length. This is a light and lovely rosé for summer enjoyment, sipped by itself or with grilled fish, white meats, salade Niçoise and mild cheeses - and it's a fabulous value! David Lillie
This subtly structured Chardonnay is a fantastic introduction to the world of skin contact whites. Here, the skins are kept with the juice until fermentation is finished, at which point there is a press, and then aging. This is not actually a very long period of maceration, but it's enough to lend a faint orange hue to the wine and it's evident from the mouthfeel that the wine has some structure to it. When I first opened this wine, I was expecting the textural characteristics and the flavors I've associated with orange wines in the past, but I was surprised by how beautifully aromatic the wine was. I forgot about the orange wine bit, and just let the Chardonnay do the talking, with flowers, earth, spice, and orchard fruit all intermingling on the nose. Really a unique wine in the layers to the experience, and recommended for those who are curious about skin-contact whites (aka orange wines), but don't necessarily want to dive all the way in. Eben Lillie
A few years back, Luc and Marie at Zelige-Caravent decided to make a blanc de noirs from a healthy harvest of Cinsault grapes. They were happy with the wine and have continued to make it each year. There is no color here, save a subtle opacity to the wine. Lovely floral and spicy nose, full bodied for a white, and unlike anything else on the shelf! ... Side note: Marie hand paints every label with this wine, so each bottle is different! (On Sale, was $19.99)