100% Roter Veltliner planted in 1979 near the top of Gaisberg (Zöbing side). Known more for being a top site for growing Riesling than Roter Veltliner, Martin and Anna Arndorfer purchased this vineyard in 2010 (after being warned not to do so by relatives). The primary rock up there (300+ meters, south facing) is predominately Gfohler Gneiss along with Mica-Schist. Both 2012 and 2013 had very similar vinifications: few hours of maceration, aged in a mix of oak and stainless steel, with ten months on the lees and no fining. 2012 was the first vintage of this wine, boasting a beautiful, aromatic nose of brown butter and rich toffee with golden apple and citron. On the palate the wine has an opulent texture, rich and soft, with notes of candied citron, ginger, pear, yellow apple, and salted caramel. Cari Bernard
100% Roter Veltliner planted in 1979 near the top of Gaisberg (Zöbing side). Known more for being a top site for growing Riesling than Roter Veltliner, Martin and Anna Arndorfer purchased this vineyard in 2010 (after being warned not to do so by relatives). The primary rock up there (300+ meters, south facing) is predominately Gfohler Gneiss along with Mica-Schist. Both 2012 and 2013 had very similar vinifications: few hours of maceration, aged in a mix of oak and stainless steel, with ten months on the lees and no fining. We are very lucky to have two different vintages to choose from, ultimately showcasing the influence of the vintage. Reflecting some similar development on the nose as the 2012 (salted toffee/brown butter), there is also a brighter note of Seville orange zest, and the palate reveals a higher acidity, with tangy orange/lemon oil, and brighter vegetal tones alongside the pear and apple fruit. Not austere by any means, but the 2013 does come off as stonier and edgier than the 2012. Cari Bernard
Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe are making a 'family' of wines in Burgenland, Austria. Emmeram is 100% Gewurtztraminer grown biodynamically on a mix of limestone and sand. Grapes are hand harvested and ferment in large, used oak barrels. The élevage is also in used oak (500 L barrels), and like their other wines, there is no batonnage, no fining or filtration, and no added sulfur. This vintage of Emmeram finished fermenting with a touch of residual sugar, which lends a balance and textural richness to the piquant, young ginger and white pepper spice along with flavors of ripe pineapple and juicy pears. Cari Bernard
Weingut Jurtschitsch is the oldest winery (est. 16th century) in the Kamptal region of Austria and has been in the family since 1868. Vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2006 and all 60 hectares have been certified organic since 2009. The Brut Sekt Rosé is mostly Zweigelt with the balance made up of Pinot Noir and Sankt Laurent, from cooler vineyard sites with calcareous soils. The wine spends 2 1/2 years on the lees and receives 7 g/L dosage. Light, antique pink in the glass, the nose is fragrant with roses, blueberries, and raspberries. On the palate juicy red berries mingle with stony and salty minerality. Cari Bernard
This is 100% Sankt-Laurent, and after fermentation and maturation in 900L concrete eggs for a full year, it is also the darkest and most concentrated of the three Meinklang wines we carry. To point out that a wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs is no empty showmanship of hipster wine-speak: it is a method that allows tiny, controlled amounts of oxygen to slowly seep in through minute pores and develop a wine without introducing any external flavors. What this interaction does do is give a subtle, entrancing quality of texture and allows for a clear expression of minerality. Deeply purple in color, the palate is supple with blackberry and black cherry fruits grounded by a cool backbone of wet stone and chalk. The nose is floral, fruity, and very pure. This would be a great red pairing for Mediterranean feasts, chicken liver pâté, sweetbreads, and rillettes of any kind. Karina Mackow
This is the first Gemischter Satz from Bernhard Ott: a field blend of Welshriesling, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc from newly acquired vineyard plots. Harvested together, carbonically macerated, and aged in stainless steel together, they form a chorus of vibrant, refreshing acidity, great tension and texture, with floral notes on both nose and palate, along with white cherry fruit, brisk minerality, and a touch of the savory. Cari Bernard
Sourced mainly from younger Merlot vines planted in the gravelly, sandy soils of Macau, with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; this is a fresher, softer wine from Michel Théron. This cuvée sees a bit more new oak than his other wines, which tempers the dark, terroir-driven berry fruits and allows for hints of spearmint, cocoa, and damp earth to shine through. The palate is rather silken, showing dark fruits and minerals with great structure. Pure, unadulterated, and unbelievably delicious Bordeaux with a bit of bottle age (the current vintage is 2013) makes me very happy. Tim Gagnon
A magnum of incredibly delicious Bordeaux! Michel Théron moved to Bordeaux in 1988 from the Languedoc in the south of France to study winemaking. His original plan was to complete his studies there, and then move back to the Languedoc to take over the family estate, but love prevailed when he met his Bordelaise wife. Not long after, the couple purchased a small parcel in the village of Cantenac in the Haut-Médoc in 1993 and produced their first vintage in 1994. The estate is now certified biodynamic and covers 7 hectares in Cantenac, Arsac, and Margaux on soils of gravel, sand, and some clay. This beautiful Haut-Médoc is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with sumptuous red berry fruits, a hint of smoke, cedar, and fresh tobacco on the nose. The palate is rather lifted, showing vibrant fruit and a touch of earth, and it is very approachable. It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon
What's atypical about this delicious wine? It's a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc rather than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, giving the wine a more supple palate and quite different fruit character. The 2015 has lovely, deep blackberry and cassis aromas with red currant, cassis and cherry on the supple, lush palate, with hints of earth and smoke. More "forward" than most Bordeaux, and showing the ripeness and beautiful fruit of the 2015 vintage, this versatile wine will pair beautifully with almost any beef, pork or lamb dish and is a fabulous value!
From a 1/2 hectare parcel of 35 year-old vines in Rully on clay/limestone soils. Aromas of dried pear, herbs, citrus and stone with lime flower and new oak. Intense stone and mineral flavors typical to Rully on the palate with citrus and white fruits. Fabulous stony finish. This is an austere and elegant white Burgundy to drink now in its scintillating youth with oysters, grilled seafod, chicken and goat cheeses. Hold 5 to 10 years for a mature experience.
Comprised of fruit from Bressandes (2/3) which per Claude de Nicolay lends richness and Chaumes, located beneath Les Pougets (1/3) which lends a degree of “saltiness.” The 2014 Corton Blanc shows a lovely balance between power and elegance. Aromatically it shows yellow flowers, orange peel and hints of sea spray and wet stone. The palate displays pretty flavors of stone fruit, Meyer lemon, and apple overlying an overt, if not overwhelming minerality on a medium weight (for Corton) palate. This shows plenty of energy and drive, if not mass, on a long, detailed, and mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
Julien Guillot of the Clos des Vignes du Maynes, makes this lovely Macon-Villages from certified organic parcels in Chardonnay, Montbellet and Viré-Clessé on Bathonian limestone with clay, rich in silica. Incredibly aromatic, with wildflower, lime blossom, green apple peel, beeswax and spiced poached apple and pear. Supple and ripe in this rather warm vintage with 13.5% alcohol, it’s balanced by excellent acidity and minerality with more orchard fruit, apricot, and salted peach. Remarkably textured and long with succulent fruit, toasted almond, citrus, and saline minerals and pear on the finish. Totally unlike the usual Macon Villages, this is a delightful wine that will accompany grilled fish, fish in sauce, roast chicken and mild cheeses - and it's delicious to enjoy by itself. TG & DL
As easy as it is to forget the quality of Auxey-Duresses Blanc, it's just as easy to overlook the sensational quality of Domaine Lafouge. The Auxey-Duresses Blanc Les Hautés (from the lieu dit situated next to Les Vireuils in Meursault) displays a fine balance of white floral aromas (acacia and honeysuckle) with white orchard fruits on the nose. The palate is racy and mineral with pear and nectarine fruit vying for attention with a good degree of mineral cut. This is pretty and a fine value in white Burgundy. John McIlwain
2014 is a good vintage for white Burgundy, a very good vintage for Chablis, and an excellent vintage for Moreau-Naudet. Everything seems to sing across the board, even this excellent, organically farmed villages. White flowers, sea spray, salted lemon peel on the nose. Whip-crack acidity and minerality, hints of green tea, quinine, and white peach, with good concentration and a great persistence. This is just coming out of the gates and should make for sensational drinking over the next 5-7 years. Pair this lively Chablis with raw oysters, fluke meunière, or a perhaps a goat cheese tart. John McIlwain
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, harvested early at 9% alcohol from NE facing parcels. Elegant white fruit aromas. The palate is very expressive with white fuits, minerals and herbal notes, rich but balanced. (Tasted with 5 grams dosage, our disgorgement is Brut Nature.)
This 2009 is 100% Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit and this really comes across, in the form of stately minerality and structure. It shines a vibrant golden yellow in the glass and sports a finely-beaded mousse. Aromas of spearmint, peppermint, lillies, hazelnuts, and spiced apple custard float up from the glass. The palate is both round, weighty, and alive with minerality with notes of yellow plums and Cortland apples that continue through to an elegant finish.
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear and herbal notes - lovely now and should cellar beautifully.
This is a new version of the Polisy Brut Reserve, coming from the 2013 vintage and produced with zero added SO2. As with all the Beaufort wines, there is terrific length and concentration due to their many years of organic farming and low yields. The lack of SO2 in the wine also contributes to its purity, and the Kimmeridgian soil gives a wonderful, crystalline minerality. The Beaufort family planted vines in Polisy in the 1960s and the results we've tasted since our relationship with Beaufort began have been stunning. Great value — and a great food wine as well, serve with fish, white meats and full-flavored cheeses...
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “the aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...")
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious, perfect but perhaps less transparent than the 2010 Brut Rosé." Notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! (*Disgorged 10/2016) Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..."
Bérêche's Campania Remensis is a consistently fascinating rosé Champagne, in a category fraught with uninspiring wines. The 2012 base is 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 5% still red wine from Ormes on the western side of the Montagne de Reims. This year the robe is more of a salmon pink rather than copper color of previous vintages. The nose is redolent of wild strawberry, blood orange zest, vanilla bean, raspberry, and ginger. The palate balances whip-crack acidity with layers of ripe fruit flavors and savory undertones. The balance here is impeccable and the finish textured and nuanced. This is a beautiful and deft rosé! John McIlwain
A blanc de blancs with luxurious weight and depth from "Les Monts Fournois," a parcel with the premier cru of Ludes in the Montagne de Reims. With an extremely fine bead, there are intensely rich flavors of lemon drop meringue and candied red fruits (strawberry, cherry) that finish with subtle wisps of dried ginger and dried tarragon. Disgorged 11/15. Jonas Mendoza 2012 is the inaugural vintage of Les Monts Fournois from Bérêche. Sourced from a lieu-dit on the northern end of Ludes with particularly thin soils over pure chalk, and a southern exposure planted with massale-selected Chardonnay in 1961. Fermented in barrel with native yeast and aged under cork, Les Monts Fournois deftly combines power and precision in this blanc de blancs. The nose displays citrus peel, white flowers and wet stone, while the old vines, sunny exposure, and chalky soils lend a distinctly mineral core to the wine on the vigorous, verging on sinewy, palate while not sacrificing elegance. For lovers of chalky, powerful Champagnes, Les Monts Fournois is a delight. Bottled with 3g/L dosage. John McIlwain
Les Beaux Regards is a blend of two parcels of Chardonnay in Ludes on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims planted in 1964 and 1970. The loamy clay soils produce a Champagne more vinous in character, rather than exclusively taut and chalky. The 2012 displays floral and orchard fruit aromas, with delicate notes of spice and Meyer lemon following. The palate is distinctly mineral and racy, with overtly stony notes, cool notes of mint and lemon balm and a long tangy, expressive finish. Great energy and volume here. (Dosage 3g/l.) John McIlwain
For holiday celebrations, Champagne is a must. Not just for the festive association of bubbles, but also because it is truly one of the most versatile wines to grace one's table. The inherent acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the foods, while the bubbles and moderate alcohol invigorate the palate rather than tire it. One of my favorite Champagnes for the table (not just Thanksgiving or Christmas) is Bérêche's Reflets d'Antan. Based on a perpetual cuvée dating from the 1980's, the wine combines the vivid, nervy fruit of a recent vintage with the burnished, textural and aromatic complexity of the aged wines which make up the 'solera.' The secondary fermentation under cork rather than crown cap adds an additional layer of finesse with a delicate bead and soft mousse. This will pair beautifully with most of the foods on your holiday table (skip the marshmallows, please). Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. John McIlwain
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) John McIlwain
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) John McIlwain
Emmanuel Brochet, produces Champagnes of particularly mineral character from the clay and limestone soils of a single lieu-dit called Le Mont Benoit located in the northern part of the Montagne de Reims. The vines are date from 1962 and 1984 and have been farmed organically since 2005 and certified since 2008. The current disgorgement of Le Mont Benoit Extra Brut is based on the the 2013 vintage with reserve wine from the 2012 vintage. The cepage is 39% Pinot Noir 37% Pinot Meunier, and 24% Chardonnay fermented in barrel with native yeasts and bottled with a dosage of 4 grams/L. Newly arrived, the wine is a bit aromatically reticent, though with air reveals pear skin and stony notes. The palate is quite chiseled and vinous, high-lighting a denser rather than chalky minerality or overt fruit. And while powerful, this is quite elegant, if coiled and shows quite long and dry, though not quite austere. Within this structure are lovely notes of blood orange peel, salt, and apricot with hints of autolyse. This is quite young, but has great energy within and will reward mid to longer term aging. John McIlwain
Les Houtrantes Complantés is Geoffroy's most viticulturally ambitious and complex Champagne. Sourced from a field blend of old vines of all the allowed Champagne cultivars, there is not enough juice to make a cuvée each year, so JB stores reserve wine from previous vintages in magnums. This first release is a blend of 25% 2008, 35% 2009, and 40% 2010. Quite simply this is one of our most fascinatingly elegant and aromatically beguiling Champagnes. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass, adorned with a minutely beaded mousse. The nose unpacks an aroma box of linden flowers, sage, hyacinths, fresh mint, followed by Doyenne pears, Reine Claude plums, and a hint of smoky tones. The palate is refreshing stream of minerality, impeccably balanced and ripe for a Brut Nature, that glides and shifts to a saline and savory finish. One can't help but thinking of Rieslings from the great vineyards of Saar Valley. Simply stunning Champagne! (Disgorged 6/2015). - David Salinas
In the sometimes treacherous passage from grapes to wine, Geoffroy's flagship cuvée has been gifted every advantage. 50-year-old vines, on average, from JB's finest plots are used in the 2004's final blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. At pressing, only the "tête de cuvée" juices, the best juice from the first press, are used. The prise de mousse occurs under cork, not capsule, and the 2004 has aged for almost ten years on it lees to delicious results. It shines a medium golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a discrete mousse. Initial smoky tones, on the nose, give way to aromas of Cortland apples, honeysuckle, Mirabelle plums, and tamarinds. The palate is rich, round, and weighty with notes of green apples, greengages, and vanilla before a tart and smoky finish. (Disgorged 5/2014). - David Salinas
Based on a solera, or perpetual cuvée, started in 1982, the Mémoire Extra Brut is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay, aged in foudre and bottled with 3 g/ dosage. The grapes come from all of the various Huré vineyard parcels and the cuvée is considered to be a broad "snapshot" of the domain's terroir and vinification aesthetic. Pale golden yellow in color and with an ultra-fine bead, Mémoire offers soft aromas of Mirabelle plum, dried orange peel, lemon verbena, brown butter, with notes of honey. The palate is creamy, broad, round, and burnished with complex flavors of wild cherry, damson, heather honey, candied ginger, with a pleasing hint of nuttiness on the finish. There are a multiple layers to this Champagne as befits its solera origins and it is better served by enjoying from a wine glass, rather than flute to allow the bouquet to develop fully. - John McIlwain
This is one of the best Champagnes I've ever had. No joke. From old vines grown on very dry chalky soil between Bouzy and Tauxières, the wine is equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made without dosage or sulfur, all from 2009 fruit. There are very few producers in Champagne who make a bottling totally without added sulfur. It's a risky thing to do, however in this case the results are absolutely breath-taking. Super aromatic with rich, mouth-filling and very sensuous fruit, the wine shows fully as much intense, taught minerality as it does succulent and voluptuous fruit. It's a wine that will change constantly as it's open, and deserves attention as it unfolds. Peter Liem has descrived the 2008 Violaine (the first vintage of this wine) as "one that speaks to the emotions as much as it does to the intellect." I'd say that's an apt assessment. (disgorged 1/13) -msb
Entirely Pinot Meunier, this is a notably unique rosé. It's incredibly vinous and is wine — serious wine — before it's rosé or Champagne. But as a saignée Champagne it has delicacy and poise, and yet is serious and structured. It's most curiously savory — our flavor associates included soft cheese, herbs, ferns, sausage, and spices. It is wonderfully dry with chalky minerality on the finish. Not a party Champagne, but one for serious consideration and engagement. Worth contemplation by any serious wine or Champagne lover. MSB
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village down by the river where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village, this is particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes, lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs, La Cote Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
Someday soon the Ambonnay Grand Cru lieu-dit of Les Crayères will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Hermitage’s Les Bessards or Alsace’s Clos Sainte Hune. Similarly, Benoît Marguet will be heralded for having preserved and defended the health of his soils and his vineyard workers. These valuations form a positive feedback loop, where greater care and attention to finely delimited vineyards will help these great terroirs shine. Marguet’s Les Crayères is a blend of 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir from an airy, mid-slope vineyard. Light golden in color and starred by a finely beaded mousse, the aromas begin with acacia, ripe raspberries, and honeysuckle before transitioning to Red Delicious and violets. The zero-dosage palate is broad and gripping with notes of dark chocolate, Meyer lemon, and fresh peppermint with a vanilla macaroon and ripe cantaloupe finish. An expressive and uncompromising Champagne of terroir! Disgorged 3/2014. David Salinas
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentations are with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. While the 2011 vintage was difficult for most producers, Marguet's wines were lovely. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is chalky and mineral, showing the power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. This shows citrus blossom and chalky on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. This will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
At least for me, Marguet’s Champagnes have been about power and opulence, which isn’t surprising given winemaker Benoît Marguet has 10 hectares of vines, mainly in the grand crus of Ambonnay and Bouzy. With preserved lemon and powdered ginger notes, the “Shaman” (formerly named “Elements”) finishes with striking flavors of lemon pith and fresh dill. An unwittingly complementary pairing with tzatziki or taramosalata. Disgorged 2/16. Jonas Mendoza
There are no two ways about it. This is a natural Champagne made from biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and then vinified with native yeasts for both the alcoholic fermentation and the prise de mousse. Finally, the Concordance is free of any added sulfur. The Aube's warmer climate and Dominique's great farming have resulted in a Blanc de Noirs that will settle any doubts about the quality of the 2011 base vintage. Pale golden yellow in the glass and sporting a finely beaded mousse, the aromas of the Concordance are strikingly pure and vibrant with notes of ripe Cortland apples, red currants, fresh raspberries and a hint of brioche. The palate is pure with a fine minerality that carries aromas of cranberries and red plums through to a lengthy and savory finish. Beautiful Champagne! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 1/2015). - David Salinas
Over the course of time, Jose Michel's NV Brut has become one of our favorite affordable Champagnes. It's a wine that has something for everyone: accessibility for those who like easy-going bubbles, savory-ness for those who drink Champagne at the table, complexity for those who value it... Some Champagne is rich, some is elegant, but this bottle is explosive and animated. Packed with fruit — peach, raspberry, and strawberry — but held in balance with creamy straw and cashew-y notes, and a strong backbone of acidity. This is an epicurean, food-friendly Champagne that is simply delicious and perfect for toasting. (The price is simply unbeatable.) MSB
Sourced from less than a hectare parcel of old-vine Pinot Noir, the Come des Tallants is the jewel of Roland's range. Beginning with a crystalline clear and brilliant golden yellow in the glass and very finely beaded mousse, the nose shows aromas of Greengage, lillies, spearmint, toffee, guava, and some musky tones. The palate is finely chiseled with a nervy minerality, buoyed by a weighty concentration and a full aromatic range of wild flowers, which continues through to a finely pointed finish. A fantastic effort and Champagne from Roland Piollot! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 7/2015). This beautiful Champagne is a superb value and a great way to start, or enjoy during your holiday feast!
An organically-farmed Blanc de Noirs from the eponymous lieu-dit in the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The wine is a notable expression of this terroir, as Fabrice Pouillon reveals by vinifying with only the natural sugars from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir, in addition to only utilizing the indigenous yeasts present in the must. He accomplishes this by chilling unsulfured grape must in tank to a temperature low enough to prevent spoilage or fermentation. This must is then used for the secondary fermentation, as well as the dosage after disgorgement, rather than cane sugars or MCR. The resulting wine is layered and supple with a fine bead, displaying red fruits, blood orange peel, and spices, expressing the vinous character of Pinot Noir grown in the clays of the Grande Vallee de la Marne. John McIlwain
From an organically farmed, single-vineyard parcel at the top of the slope on the western side of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. 50% Pinot Noir fermented in tank, 50% Chardonnay fermented in used barrels. Disgorged in Spring 2016, zero dosage. Though from a premier cru village rather than its grand cru neighbor, Aÿ, the 2008 Les Blanchiens is no less an articulate expression of the calcareous clay soils that make up its terroir. The nose offers toasty brioche, dried orange peel, and bergamot aromas. The palate shows ripe dense fruit on the attack, with an incisive minerality dominating a rich and complex mid-palate. This is manifested by pungent soil notes, which give way to distinctly savory, sapid, and powerful finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means austere. John McIlwain
Located in the hills above Essoyes, Ruppert-Leroy's vines are a study of polyculture, in contrast to most of the vineyards of Champagne. All are adjacent to forest, with dozens of herbs, wildflowers, grasses growing between the rows. In the Spring, there is a riot of color between the vines. Martin-Fontaine is 100% Chardonnay, fermented with native yeasts, bottled without dosage as of the 2013 vintage sees no addition of sulfur. We are lucky to be able to revisit the 2011, which is in a beautiful place at the moment, with a nose redolent of shortbread, lemon curd, and wet stone. The palate is stony, saline, and quite savory with umami notes vying for attention with pure flavors of ripe white orchard fruits. Quite pretty and detailed, this shows the potential of the terroir in this part of the Aube. John McIlwain
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Bénédicte Ruppert of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard. One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.)The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The 2013 Les Cognaux shows red fruit, peach skin, orange peel, and see spray aromas with notes of daishi and fond. The palate balances lush, ripe flavors of apricot, peach, and Rainier cherry with crunchy acidity, compelling umami character and a pungent sense of minerality. The finish is vibrant and luminous. As of 2013 Ruppert-Leroy vinifies and bottles without SO2. John McIlwain
Hubert Soreau is is a vigneron whose wine exemplifies the dedication of small growers to producing distinctive Champagnes of terroir. Farming .49 ha near Epernay without chemicals, he produces tiny amounts of wine which ages in wood, sees long less aging under cork, and extended time in the cellar before release. The current Release of Le Clos l'Abee (base 2008 with this bottling) is vinous, waxy, layered, and burnished with plenty of savory and umami notes complementing the incisive minerality from the terroir. The aromatics balance yellow fruit and citrus peel with brioche and soil notes. This is a treat for fans of leesy, chalky Champagnes. There is a fine bead and a long, broad, elegant finish. (Dosage 5g/l; Disgorged Fall 2015) John McIlwain
The 2013 vintage is the inaugural release of Aurelien Suenen's Grand Cru Oiry Blanc de Blancs. Wines from the village of Oiry are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees, and are bottled with 1 g/l dosage. The 2013 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of citrus peel, quinine, and chalk dominating. The palate is chiseled, taut and very dry with racy acidity and an energetic driving finish. Suenen continues to grow with each vintage and this new line up of village designated Champagnes are particularly exciting. John McIlwain
Aurélien Suenen originally trained in the US to become a professional basketball player, but returned to France to take over the estate in 2009 when his father passed away. "MBDA" is one of his first cuvées; besides a longing tribute to four generations of Suenen (Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, Aurélien) that have farmed in Champagne since 1898, it represents a precocious and stunning effort. MBDA is a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir (from Montigny-sur-Velse) and Chardonnay (from grand cru sites Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry). Enticing at first with golden apple, candied ginger, and brioche aromatics, this Champagne fills out the palate with bruised red apple skin, yellow plum, and toast flavors, and then finishes with shaded undertones of dried honey and roasted parsnip. Texturally, the soft mousse floats like a featherweight on the center of the tongue, but then broadly fills out across the palate. Jonas Mendoza
Bize 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières from vines located above Pernand-Vegelesses planted in 1971 and 1974. Stony, dark fruited, hints of spice, damp earth, bright acidity, savory herb notes, appropriately mineral, good concentration. Still a bit circumspect initially, but maintains a nice balance of structural and fruity elements. Not exactly plush at the moment, but the frank earthiness is compelling. Very pretty after an hour of air. Decant now or hold for 2-5 years when things should blossom. There's plenty here for a Bourgogne and I like the energy and mineral character. John McIlwain
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
While the jewel of the premier crus of Pernand-Vergelesses, like Les Lavières, the Ile de Vergelesses vineyard suffered substantially from the hail of 2013. Another in a series of what Claude de Nicolay refers to as “virtual vintages” only half the normal crop was harvested in the 2014 vintage. In light of the vintage character, fermentation was 40% whole cluster with a somewhat shorter elevage to emphasize the beautifully pure fruit. Here the nose shows a blend of black fruits, wood smoke, baking spices, and faint hints of anise. The mid-weight palate features blackberry, cassis, and blood orange flavors giving way to a pungent, nearly saline minerality, which carries thru on the persistent, sapid finish. This has impeccable balance, if not the power of more blockbuster vintages. This is attractive and has plenty of drive and detail to frame the pure, pretty fruit. John McIlwain
After serious devastation by hail in 2013 when Les Lavières was not bottled (but made into something akin to a vin doux naturel, which has yet to be bottled) 2014 produced a lovely, if substantially reduced crop from the cru. 20% whole cluster fermentation with no chaptalization and bottled at 12.3% abv. The 2014 Les Lavières is pretty and detailed, rather than powerful. The aromas are cool-toned and red-fruited, with hints of strawberry and wild cherry. The racy, supple palate has flavors of red raspberry, cherry, and pomegranate supported by fine, ripe tannins and bright acidity. And while this is no heavyweight, the purity of the fruit and the lively energy makes this a pleasure to taste and the structure certainly bodes well for mid-term ageability for this agréable à boire Burgundy. John McIlwain
This is one of our favorite, if somewhat unknown, estates in Burgundy. Jean Lafouge and his son Gilles make classic, balanced, beautiful Burgundies at affordable prices and their village level Auxey-Duresses is always lovely and a great value. The 2014 is slightly riper than usual with lovely aromas of strawberry and tart cherry, with violet, rose, citrus and spice. Medium-bodied, with citrusy red fruits on the palate with great balance and refreshing acidity, the wine shows hints of earth and mineral that will develop nicely with time. Lovely now, especially if decanted well in advance, and a great pairing with poultry, white meats and mild cheeses. This has the weight and structure to cellar well, best perhaps in 5 to 8 years. David Lillie
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. From a small parcel of old vines, the Lafouge 2014 Chanlins shows beautiful aromas of bright red fruits - raspberry, tart cherry and wild strawberry - with earth, citrus, rose, brown spice and game. Lovely tart red fruits on the palate with firm acidity and intense chalky minerality that coats the palate on the long finish. This is a lovely, pure and elegant old-fashioned Burgundy - delicious now with its bright, youthful fruit, best probably 2022 to 2032. DL
Ile des Vergelesses is certainly one of the best premier cru vineyards in Burgundy - a perfectly exposed mid-slope vineyard on limestone and iron-rich soils, steep enough for ideal drainage, producing wines that age beautifully for 15 to 20 years - considered by many to be grand cru quality. The 2014s from Vincent Rapet are lovely, beautifully balanced wines. The 2014 Ile des Vergelesses shows very bright perfume of wild strawberry, black raspberry, rose, pepper and licorice. The palate is very dense with elegant, chalky red fruits that coat the palate. This should develop beautifully - it's perfectly balanced at 13% alcohol with firm acidity - well structured for aging. Fun to taste now, especially if decanted or opened the night before, probably best 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
From a steep clay/limestone slope facing east in the 1er Cru Les Bressandes, this is an old fashioned wine of terroir. It's subtle on the nose, but smells elegantly perfumed and structured. On the palate, dried fruit, herbs, and earth. This is not a tough wine, rather finessed in fact without overly ripe tannins, but it is a serious wine, and one that stands out amongst the more red-fruit driven 2015s. Perhaps due to how hot 2011 was early on (it was one of about 6 recorded years since the 1700s when harvest began in August in Burgundy), the fruit here is mature, and quite developed, but balances perfectly with the earthiness and mineral qualities of the wine. It's in a great place now, as it really reminds us of aged Burgundy, but it will be even better when it IS aged Burgundy! We'd recommend drinking now or holding 5-10 years.
Jean-Claude Rateau's domain has been Biodynamic since 1979 and produces lovely light-bodied, old fashioned Burgundies. The 2014 Beaune Les Prévoles (a lieu-dit below 1er Cru Chouacheux and les Tuvilains) shows beautiful aromas of cherry and berry fruits with rose, blood orange and brown spice. The palate is chalky, ripe and sapid while remaining light and fresh with berry fruits and tart citrusy acids. This develops nicely with aeration, becoming more supple and round, and finishes with stone, mineral and ripe fruits. Serve this delicious wine a bit cool with any mild chicken or white meat dish and goat cheeses, morbier, tomme de savoie. This should age nicely, best perhaps 2020 - 2026.
From vines averaging 40 years old from the lieux-dits Bussières, Chardannes, Les Herbues and Les Gamaires. Certified biodynamic. Domaine Arlaud's 2014 Chambolle-Musigny shows plenty of high-toned red fruit on the nose with aromas of pomegranate, wild cherry, and strawberry with hints of wood smoke and floral notes. On the sappy, mid-weight palate, pure red fruit flavors are underlain by a pungent chalky minerality which persists through on the long, fresh, tangy finish. This is classically Chambolle: stylish and pretty with good depth. Give this 3-5 years and enjoy for the next 10-15. John McIlwain
Maybe not a bruiser, but what a beauty! Wild strawberry, pomegranate, brown spices, super-pretty red fruits, herbal hints. Mid-weight palate, bright acid, luminous fruit, good volume and persistence on the finish-not just a little bit of that classic Burgundy peacock's tail. John McIlwain
It's no secret that the Jean Chauvenet's 2012 Nuits St. Georges Les Perrières was one of my favorite red Burgundies of the vintage. The 2013 is another winner for the domaine. Chauvenet's Christope Drag farms a .23 hectare parcel of old vines high on the slope adjacent to Les Poulettes and Les Poirets between the holdings farmed by Henri Gouges and Regis Forey. The particularly stony soils retain heat and Christophe says this is typically the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Personally I find it the most effusively perfumed of his wines with his Vaucrains a close second. The bouquet of the 2013 leaps from the glass, with floral aromas, red fruits, and pretty wild berry aromas, giving way to spices and soil notes. The palate is equally fresh, with red berry, strawberry, Morello cherry, and pipe tobacco flavors giving way to a chalky minerality. There is fine energy and cut to this which carries through on a long, lingering, and building finish. This is certainly a pretty expression of Nuits St. Georges, but has the tannins and acidity to age with grace. John McIlwainFrom .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Always giving an earthy and mineral-infused wine, the 2014 is a bit more fruit-forward but is still primarily a Burgundy of terroir. There is reduction when first opened so please decant or open in advance. With aeration the wine shows subtle aromas of red currant, strawberry and tart cherry with violet, brown spice and earth - really quite complex and pretty. The palate is well-structured with chalky mineral flavors underlying the earthy raspberry and strawberry fruit. The finish is long with firm acidity and mineral notes. This is a lovely and beautifully balanced Burgundy for those who enjoy minerals as much as fruit! Note: The wine improves dramatically over 3 to 4 days, re-corked in the fridge, for those with enough patience - or cellar for five to fifteen years.
Jane et Sylvain have a superb, tiny parcel of Gevrey 1er Cru "Fonteny", high up in the southwest corner, separated from Grand Cru Ruchottes by a dirt track, certified organic. Four barrels of 2014 Fonteny were produced, of which one was new. Tasted last February the wine showed dense, deep strawberry and black chery fruit with round supple tannins and a very long firm, palate coating finish. Re-tasted in November 2016, the round strawberry fruit is framed in chalky minerals, quite dense and palate-coating, balanced with soft tannins - a very young wine that will be delightful to drink now but best to wait five to ten years for the velvety complexity to come, best perhaps 2021 to 2035. David Lillie
Les Sentiers premier cru is located on the north side of Chambolle-Musigny, beneath the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru and between the Les Baudes and Les Ruchots premier crus. Medium dark robe. The 2013 Les Sentiers shows a nice balance between fruit and earth. Raspberry, violet, spices, with hints of game and herb on the nose. Dark cherry, black tea, and blood orange peel on the sappy, yet chalky, mineral palate. As befits the cru's proximity to Bonnes Mares, this is a more masculine expression of Chambolle-Musiginy. There's good concentration of fruit here, in addition to distinct terroir delineation; with still more to be revealed as the structure resolves itself further. Decant now or better still, hold for 5 to 15 years. John McIlwain
The young and very talented Stephane Magnien is producing delicious, old fashioned Burgundies from his beautifully tended vineyards in and around Morey-Saint-Denis. The estate has never used herbicides and uses a plowing regimen designed to force the roots deeper into the limestone bedrock. The "village" wine is always one of my favorite recommendations in Burgundy due to its elegance, balance, lovely fruit and great value. The 2014 is particularly beautiful, with lovely aromas of strawberry liqueur, black raspberry, violet, blood orange - very floral with hints of earth, brown spice and oak. Great balance of firm acidity and ripe fruit with a touch of oak on the palate showing strawberry, blackberry, citrus and spice over a core of mineral flavors that linger in the long finish. This delicious young Burgundy is lovely to drink now but has all the elements for great medium-term aging - wait a few years then drink until 2030...
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey St. Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2014 is truly lovely and perfumed, displaying floral and red fruit aromas of bright cherry, wild strawberry and violets, with a hint of game and wood smoke. Beautiful, pure red fruits carry over on the palate, with flavors of perfectly ripe Morello cherry, strawberry, and mineral spice, with lip-smacking acidity and a savory tannic spine. This shows layers of fruit with a mineral foundation beneath. This is a beautiful and harmonious Faconnières and while delicious now, will be marvelous from 2025 on. John McIlwainBurgundy at Thanksgiving - Of course! We have a wide variety of delicious Pinot Noirs from the ripe and lovely 2014 Burgundy vintage in stock that will also grace your Thanksgiving table, starting at around $20 - give us a call for assistance in your selection.
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawbwrry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocaolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035.
A touch of reduction on opening. An hour in the decanter reveals black cherry, black fruits, spices, and a kiss of anise on the nose. Not quite silken but softly textured, with ripe tannins and acid bringing up the finish. More blue-fruited on the palate with a good bit of earth just beneath the pretty fruit and spice. Soil notes become more prominent on second day as wine builds in weight and complexity. Very Vosne, if not flamboyantly so. This should be a compelling mid-weight Vosne with 5-6 years in the cellar. John McIlwain
Acquired in 2014, Dhroner Has'chen is a terraced monopole of ungrafted vines planted in 1933, east-facing and slightly cooler, being shaded from the sun from mid-afternoon onward. High-toned, green, fresh scents on the nose with notes of white cherry and pink grapefruit, the palate is a touch more tropical, yet still has a lightness and edge. Cari Bernard
Andreas is working around 30 different plots on this mostly south-facing hill, a small portion of which remains terraced. No ungrafted vines remain, but these are still old vines, being planted in 1953. Andreas spoke about the grapes for the Spätlese as being small in size, but not in compact bunches, with violet skins. 2015 gave grapes with no botrytis, which was perfect for Andreas, who believes Spätlese with botrytis can verge on being 'baroque'. This is a Spätlese with lift: incredibly floral on the nose with a vibrant palate bursting with peach, mango, honey and stone, candied orange peel and grapefruit zest. Cari Bernard
Rothenpfad hails from the old-vine Riesling grown in red slate parcels of the Marienburg hillside. Deeply golden in color, the nose is a veritable spice box of aromas including cinnamon, cardamom, red peppercorn, juniper, cedar, and mace. The palate is mouth-coating but with an underlying minerality that carries notes of spiced pears and cinnamon through to a beautifully long finish.
Encouraged by the interest shown for the the initial release of his wines, Jochen agreed to send a limited number of magnums stateside. The 2010 Geyersberg in this larger format shows all minerality, one would expect from the vintage and all the added depth of flavor that magnums can offer. It shines a rich, brilliant golden yellow in the glass, while the nose is equally compelling. Aromas of lilacs, ripe red peaches, starfruit, and lemon zest are interlaced with star anise, freshly ground ginger, and smoky tones. The palate is refined, ethereal, and its towering minerality glides effortlessly. Fine floral notes are followed by a crescendo of Meyer lemon, cardamom, and star anise leading to a smoky, perfectly ripe nectarine finish. This is powerful and nuanced, dry Riesling! - David Salinas
Müller-Thurgau from both estate vineyards and fruit from Stefan Steinmetz, fermented on 25% of the skins for 5-6 months. Tropical aromatics and orange oil on the nose, the palate is tart and savory with notes of golden raisin, yellow apple, sandalwood, and juicy pineapple. Cari Bernard
Eva Fricke's journey from child of doctors in Northern Germany to winemaker in the Rheingau with ten leased hectares (only seven currently in production) and going for organic certification for the 2016 vintage is quite the story. Eva has worked at wineries in South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Australia, and also holds a degree in Oenology from Geisenheim as well as a Masters in Business Management from Oestrich-Winkel. During her seven-year tenure working with Johannes Leitz, she slowly began to branch out into her own vineyard plots and winery, officially leaving Leitz in 2011. Her determination and dedication to quality is inspiring. During her tasting in the store this past February, she spoke excitedly about the importance of organic farming, and the positive influence it has on her vines, even in difficult vintages. By choosing to work the steep slopes organically in the Rheingau, she has taken on a challenge rarely even considered in the region. 2015 was a stellar vintage for Eva, and across the board her wines have pitch-perfect clarity and vibrant acidity. The Lorcher Riesling trocken has grapes from both Schlossberg and Kapellenberg vineyards, grown on slate with loess and quartzite. The wine is stony and salty on the nose, with notes of citrus zest and dark slate; focused yet still has a sense of fullness across the mid-palate, with flavors of tart white grapefruit, juicy apricot, and a firm mineral structure. This wine should open up nicely in three to five years. Cari Bernard
The Wisperwind cuvée is named after the cooling wind that results from a high pressure system moving through the Wisper Valley near the town of Lorch. The wine spends six months on the lees in stainless steel. Technically a feinherb, or off-dry Riesling, the residual sugar is just (wait for it) a whisper on the palate. Orange blossoms and rich, heady orange oil on the nose, the wine has wonderful balance and medium weight, with the lift of fresh orange and grapefruit zest, greengage plum, and malic notes of apple skin. Drinking very well right now, apologies we don't have more to offer! Cari Bernard
Gernot’s part of the Ellergrub lies just to the left of Weiser-Künstler’s parcel, which is great because they also work without chemicals in the vineyards. The 2.2 hectares of vines are 80 years and older and are ungrafted. The 2013 is having a moment right now, (re-tasted in 03/2017) showing development on the nose with deep honeysuckle notes, mirrored on the palate, along with ripe juicy peach, wildflower honey, and dark stones, managing to be both ethereal and powerful. Cari Bernard
Eight terraces of old-vine Riesling planted in weathered gray slate, along the steep slope of the Starkenburger hang, provide the fruit for this pale straw yellow single-vineyard wine. Aromas of sultanas, hickory, and hyssop give the Zeppwingert a distinctly memorable nose. The palate is lifted by a zippy minerality that carries notes of cinnamon and coconut water through to a bitter orange pith finish. David Salinas
This wine is sourced from a portion of a 1.1 hectare monopol within the Zeppwingert; created during the winters of 1841-1845 by blasting through the gray slate with gunpowder charges. This area of the slope is extremely dry, with cooler temperatures and lower yields (~25hL/ha). The wine can definitely take a decant; at first sip tart and salty, with a distinct stoniness balanced by the light fruitiness of white peach, underripe pineapple, and a touch of white flowers. Cari Bernard
Viewable from the estate, Steffensberg is the warmest site, boasting both gray and red slate with deeper soil. Gernot works a total of 1.5 hectares spread between some of the finest plots with mostly ungrafted vines. Portions of the hillside have been partially replanted due to Flurbereinigung (a remodeling/restructuring of the vineyards, adding access roadways and consolidating plots) starting in the 1960s. The warmth of Steffensberg comes through as fragrant, ripe peach and mango on the nose. The palate is structured with some weight, with notes of slightly less-ripe peach and strawberry, lemon zest, and green herbs. Cari Bernard
Although the Zeppwingert surrounds the Batterieberg on three sides, this wine is only made from grapes harvested on the eight terraces jutting out on the right flank of the Batterieberg. Soils are richer here, with dark gray slate and ungrafted vines upwards of 100-years-old and beyond. Tasted after being opened for three days, the wine is highly expressive, with notes of peaches, stone, citrus oil, beeswax, and orange blossom on the nose. The wine is vibrant and balanced, with hints of green herbs, mango, peach, and dark stone--showing great power and length. Cari Bernard
A cuvée of all Grand Cru vineyards boasting mostly ungrafted vines with a minimum age of 60 years. The 2015 is not tropical like 2014 Escheburg was, this vintage is bright with shimmering acidity, showing more peach and apricot notes on the palate, clover blossom and orange oil on the nose. Cari Bernard
Hailing from their Saumagen vineyard, south to southeast-facing with a blend of predominately limestone with marl, the must spontaneously ferments and ages in used, German oak of various sizes. Delicate straw, stoniness, and salt on the nose, the palate shows bright acidity, notes of honeysuckle, mango, peach candy, and citrus peel with great balance and tension. Showing quite well now (re-tasted June 2016) but as expected from Koehler-Ruprecht, can definitely age. Cari Bernard
Grey sandstone and pebbles mark the Steinacker vineyard, which sits just across the road from the Saumagen vineyard, Koehler-Ruprect's grand cru site. Grapes grown in the Steinacker lend themselves well to the off-dry style of wines. Rich citron and white blossoms burst forth on the nose and palate, the wine has great balance with silky sweet peach, punchy acidity, and a lingering finish. Cari Bernard
A mix of different vineyard sites from Kallstadt and Bad Dürkheim in the Pfalz, with average vine age of twelve years, aged for 24 months in a mix of old barrels and one 2500L new barrel. The new oak isn't obvious on the nose, with notes of high-toned red cherry skin and rich soy sauce, almost vegetal at first smell. On the palate the oak is finely integrated: juicy cherries and red flowers are softly balanced with just a touch of sweet spice and structure. Should be stellar with roasted chicken, duck and earthy mushrooms, a vast range of cheeses, you name it! Cari Bernard
Lambertskirch is a parcel, not too far from Schonfels, that during its long history has gone from vines to fruit trees and forest overgrowth. Florian cleared and replanted the 0.2 hectares in 2012. 2015 is the second vintage from this predominately southeast-facing site where large, gray slate stones litter the ground between the vines. Floral with nectarine skin on the nose, the wine is practically vibrating, shimmering with acidity and tension. The palate is a touch more linear and lighter than the Fass 8 Kabinett, with fresh flavors of ripe nectarine, floral stems and petals, salinity and finely-integrated residual sugar. Cari Bernard
Long considered the finest vineyard in the Pfalz, the sandy-loam, basalt, and limestone soils of the Kirchenstück are known for yielding Rieslings with tremendous verve and tension. Markus' Kirchenstück is no exception with aromas of orange blossom, pine, hazelnuts, lime zest, and petrol tones. Yet, the palate retains a light touch with a lively minerality and aromas of apricots, spiced peaches, and thyme leading to a finely dry finish. A Riesling worthy of the vineyard and the grower.- David Salinas
Beneath a layer of sandy-loam, Pechstein's soils hold basalt or pitched stone, the source of this vineyard's name. Along with the Jesuitengarten this wine was one of the clear stand-outs of Markus' 2014 campaign. It shines a golden honey yellow in the glass and welcomes with aromas of lilacs, chrysanthemums, grilled pistachios, lavender, and cranberries. The palate shows a fine minerality, offering tremendous length with notes of white truffles prior to a linden blossom finish. This is nuanced and impeccably detailed, dry Riesling!- David Salinas
The GK stands for Gambacher Kalbenstein, a terraced vineyard site that has concentrations of both colored sandstone and limestone. Because of this duality, Stefan has made two different wines, each one focused on the grapes grown on the predominant soil type. This is the sandstone bottling, which makes for an expressively textural wine. Floral with apricots and peaches on the nose, the palate is savory and spiced with notes of bergamot and yellow apple. Cari Bernard
As the name would suggest, the vines are on terraces with limestone soils with vines at around 30 years of age. Whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in old barrel, unfiltered. Tropical aromas of starfruit mix with freshly milled pine; the palate is lively, fresh, and layered with texture, minerality, flavors of green mango and greengage plum. Cari Bernard
Ungrafted Sylvaner planted in 1934 on a mixture of red sandstone and limestone soils. Evoking thoughts of Chablis with its linear and stony intensity; the palate is bright with tart lemon juice, underripe nectarine, and a chalky minerality. Beautifully nuanced and fresh. Cari Bernard
Made from an assortment of Franconian apple varieties, with second fermentation in the bottle, and no sulfur added; the nose is oxidative, with hints of brown butter and apple blossom. The palate is savory and tart, balanced with notes of burnt caramel, yellow apple and a stony minerality: think savory like Asturian sidra but with more bubbles and darker tones. Cari Bernard
Let's be honest here: this is basically a Beerenauslese, with 140 g/L of residual sugar and 12.5 grams of acidity! 100% botrytis-affected grapes, this wine can (and should) age for quite some time. The nose hints at peach candy, cinnamon, and button mushroom, on the palate the wine shows both intensity and density, rich with honeyed peaches, orange oil, and apricot preserves. A fantastic bottle for those who wait! Cari Bernard
I must say I've been a tad obsessed with 2015 Kabinett and Spätlese wines from the Mosel. This is not to knock Auslese and above, but the vintage made for such intense levels of ripeness and acidity, that many Auslesen need ample time to right themselves, or even 5-10 years to really begin showing their layered complexity. I'm not a patient person by any means, so the possibility of the instant gratification of Kabinett and (at times) Spätlese wines is always tempting! The Goldgrube Kabinett from Vollenweider is a great example of this magical vintage in a bottle. The nose is quite floral with a whisper of tropical fruit; this expands on the palate into exotic mangoes, tart yellow-skinned apple, ripe peaches, with sky-high tension between the acid and residual sugar. Cari Bernard
Forget what you know what you might think about Barbera: that they are all simple, grapy, fruit-driven wines without any character. Instead, consider the savory and complete Barbera Ronco Malo from the Bera’s organic farm in Asti. We first met the Beras through their phenomenal Moscato d’Asti – a phrase we don’t say often — but now have a new tableside companion for risottos and other Piedmont specialties demanding red wine. Native fermentation and a lack of filtration produce a wine with robust aromatics of black cherry, earth, spice, and herbal flavors and a long finish of minerals and black fruits. JR
Significantly more depth than the very fine Barolo classico, with herbs and meaty notes along with notable chalk tang – very fine grained tannins; a bit richer and rounder than the 2010, but lacking none of the finesse that Rocche (and the Brovias) can produce. Jamie Wolff
From the ripe 2009 vintage, Giacomo Conterno's Barolo Cascina Francia avoids the overly rich character of some of the wines of their neighbors. Perfumes of orange oil, earth, grilled meat arise from the glass. The palate while dense and structured shows fine counterpoise between power and elegance, with sweet fruit, soil notes, and savory notes framed by ripe tannins and buoyed by good acidity for the vintage. This is quite pretty and while drinking nicely with decanting, this will benefit from another 10-20 years in the cellar when the fruit and structure should integrate. John McIlwain
We will taste Ai Valloni Boca 1999 and 2001, and also Vallana 1961 Spanna Campi Raudii, Antoniolo 1964 Gattinara, Nervi 1964 Gattinara, and Nervi 1964 Ghemme; Dessilani 1978 Fara, Cantalupo 1978 Ghemme, Travaglini 1985 Gattinara, and Sella 1986 Lessona.
Barbaresco: “Notu” was Fabio’s grandfather, and the name of the wine means “Notu followed the drops of water.” Although it may not be intended, the reference to water makes sense when you taste the wine, which has a kind of crystalline freshness and clarity that reminds one of spring water. Fabio writes: “48 months fining barrel (the wood Fabio use are not really “toasted,” but vaporized with specific volcanic hot rocks (no any creation of toxic elements after this treatment) and after unique mass for 6 months in porcelain jars (Fabio is the designer and the ceramist of his own porcelain jars; very probably the first one winemaker in the world that uses “no breathing ceramics” for winemaking). 1175 bottles made.”The 2011 is an edgy, dynamic wine, showing ripe fruit balanced by great lift and transparency. It stands out in the vintage, and it’s exciting to drink. Jamie Wolff
The color has faded to a soft ruby with rosy hues, but this vintage has aged quite gracefully. Aromatically, it's quite lifted with maraschino cherry fruit and porcini undertones. On the palate, it's a bit denser and structured with stewed cherry, and carob/dark chocolate flavors. Although it's reached maturity, the wine is still quite fresh and could hold on for another 10 years. A testament to Gattinara's oldest producer and the ageability of Nebbiolo in Alto Piemonte. Jonas Mendoza
There's a similar litheness and elegance to Nervi's 1964 Gattinara, but the development is more advanced with darker fruit and richer dark chocolate notes and flavors. The tannins have nicely resolved; a solid birth year wine or a vino da meditazione for Nebbiolo's ability to age. Jonas Mendoza
Although 1965 was a far from acclaimed vintage in the Alto Piemonte, this Nervi wine is a testament that producer can overcome the shortcomings of nature. Quite developed, there's secondary and tertiary flavors of stewed black cherry, pipe tobacco, and beef bouillon cube. The fruit has firmly resolved, but there's still prominent acidity and structure in this more than fifty-year-old wine. Jonas Mendoza
Nervi's cellars had been modernized in the 1960's, and the consistent quality of the wines made in this decade was clearly demonstrated during a recent vertical tasting. A bit reticent at first, the palate unfurls with flavors of black cherry and carob, but also subtle wisps of black pepper, fennel, and anise. The tannins are silky yet firm, and despite its age, would pair excellently with a hearty mushroom risotto or aged charcuterie. Jonas Mendoza
This was among the first vintages after Italo Nervi passed away in 1975 and left the winery to five of his cousins, his secretary Carla Ferrero, and the consulting oenologist Giorgio Aleata. A quite ripe Gattinara with lots of dark fruit on the palate (ripe blackberry, dried black cherry, brandied cherry). A bit weightier than those from from the 1960s. Jonas Mendoza
This Rosso is 90% Barbera and 10% Dolcetto. We will drink some on Thanksgiving – we have a miscellaneous crowd of fellow-orphans, and they represent a wide range of taste and interest in wine, or lack thereof. I am not normally a fan of blends from Piedmont, so it’s surprising to me that I love this wine. There is still plenty of old vine Barbera character, but extra vivacity and complexity from the Dolcetto makes it really delicious and interesting. I anticipate it to be a crowd-pleaser, with enough intrigue for wine lovers, easy drinkability for the drinkers, and a very good pick to play well with the crazy range of Thanksgiving flavors. Jamie Wolff
Mint, balsam, on top of full Nebbiolo aromatics and a lot of minerality; very ripe and firm tannins. This shows that it’s not all about 2010! It’s made from younger vines in Boscareto (see below), usually harvested rather later than the neighbors. Principiano thinks that his organic viticulture has made a huge difference in the health of the vines, even in difficult growing seasons. The wine gets about a month of maceration and then is aged in 20,000 and 40,000 liter barrels. It’s a harmonious and deep wine with a long future. Jamie Wolff
Lovely wine with a deep penetrating nose of leather, spice, mineral, cherry and chestnut. Palate has great inner mouth aromas and nice juicy fruit. Great ripeness with good chewiness. Lovely stuff!
For Christmas this year I would like to be given the Giuseppe Rinaldi 2002 Barolo, in magnum. Please. In Piedmont the summer of ’02 saw unprecedented quantities of rain, cool temps, landslides, hail, and downpours of frogs – just about every bad wet weather thing that can happen, and many producers didn’t even make wine. By way of contrast, Giacomo Conterno bottled only Monfortino; I haven’t tasted it for a while but it was pretty spectacular then (it would be very interesting to taste the 2002 Monfortino blind… does anyone with a bottle want to join the experiment?). And G Rinaldi made really good Barolo, which I was first wowed by in 2007, and then again last May. So I’d like that mag, please. Jamie Wolff
Formerly labeled Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera, this is close to same blend / same wine. Early on (from barrel in 2014) the Tre Tine seemed closer in style to Brunate than usual, sharing a dark core of ripe fruit, and very ripe tannin. A year later there was more obvious difference, with the elegance of Cannubi beginning to shine. Out of about 120 Barolos, this is one of the very best 2011s we've tasted. Jamie Wolff
Nowadays, Grignolino is often made in a fairly heavy, extracted style that mimics something of the structure of Nebbiolo, but this one is old-school: light, fresh, juicy. It’s dry and savory with lovely bright cherry fruit and a foundation of chalky earth. The wine sings! It’s perfect for fall appetizers — salume, crostini, rich soups — or as red-wine-with-fish. This wine is an absolute delight. Jamie Wolff
This single-vineyard wine is from a small vineyard (2.5 hectares, Biodynamic viticulture) tucked into the hills south of Panzano, in Tuscany — prime Chianti Classico terroir. The wine is medium-bodied, with rich and lush/concentrated notes of red and black currants that intermingle with violets, clay and earth with a long finish.
After working in Franciacorta as consultants for a few years, Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi started their own label in 2006. They now have 12 hectares just outside of Coccaglio (limestone and clay) and Capriolo (silt and clay), averaging between 150-330m above sea level. The Dossagio Zero is 100% Chardonnay from vines planted between 1985 and 2008. Even though it says NV on the bottle, the base wine is from the 2012 harvest. The first fermentation takes place in stainless steel using only native yeasts. The second fermentation takes place in bottle, using native yeasts and grape must (not sugar), spending 31 months on the lees. The result is a bright and beautiful fruit-driven sparkling wine. Straw yellow in color, with an intense nose of apples, lemons and refreshing acidity, perfect with grilled pork and fennel or even a mushroom risotto. Or just keep it simple and grab some prosciutto with parmigiano and melon. Jamie thinks it goes with everything. Christine Manula
We sell this Moscato d'Asti because it's one of the best we've ever tasted – a wine with finesse and complexity; layers of apricot, peach, honey, balanced by clean lime-like acidity. Most of the competition is dull and insipid by comparison. The fact that this organic wine is made by some of the nicest people you can imagine has nothing to do with our selecting it for your delectation...
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
According to history, the Camaldolese monks started making wine in the area of San Michele back in 1186. Today La Marca carry on that tradition of making Verdicchio in Le Marche, the eastern Italian region that sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Their vineyards are located on hills of clay and limestone soil 350-400 meters above sea level. The wine stays on the lees for a minimum of six months and is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The result is a medium-bodied full-flavored white, ripe with stone fruit, citrus, herbs and a touch of honey. Try it with roasted flounder, scallops, mushroom risotto or roasted chicken. And if you are looking for a white to age, this would be a perfect candidate. We just opened the 2012 which was still extremely fresh and lively, but rich with dried apricots and honey. Christine Manula
The 2014 Sant’Erasmo Bianco is a striking wine grown on the island of San Erasmo within the lagoon of Venice. Premised on Malvasia Istriana but comprised of a number of other local cultivars all planted on its own root stock, the wine is deeply colored in the glass, with a nose reminiscent of ripe golden apples and honeysuckle undercut by a salty tone. The palate is bold, with an initial attack of juicy orchard fruit and rich texture, followed by a honeyed note giving way to a long savory finish. More than anything else, the Orto shows a stern backbone of minerality bracing its mellow acidity and weight on the palate. I served it with shrimp cooked with their own stock and butter, but this wine would pair beautifully with anything out of the sea, soft cheese, or rich vegetable dishes. Open early and serve slightly chilled. Andy Paynter
Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in two to five year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. In 2014, the Baudrys produced superb wines with perfect balance and lovely, pure fruit. Their precise vinifications, matched to each different terroir, with no new oak, minimal sulfur, and elevage of the right length and in the right barrel, foudre or vat, gave elegant and delicous results. The 2014 Clos Guillot is a black/purple color with red rim, showing intense aromas of red currant, boysenberry, blackberry, fines herbs, citrus and stone with hints of dark chocolate and musk. The palate shows bright, lush, sappy red and black fruits with bright acidity lifting the flavors and coating the palate with citrusy red fruits, saline minerals and wet stone. Beautiful wine! Case quantities are possible, but don't delay. DL
(Our original review) One of our favorite Loire Valley reds is the Pierre and Catherine Breton Bourgueil Les Perrieres, and we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 2010. As opposed to the heavier and more forward 2009, the 2010 is lighter and medium-bodied, perfectly balanced with earthy, bright acidity and obviously built to last — a "grand vin!" From 70+ year-old vines in mid-slope on soil of clay and silica over limestone. Deep black/red color; elegant aromas of black fruits, earth and mint, subtle and beautiful. Intense fruit on the palate but not at all heavy — blackberry, red currant, black pepper, bitter chocolate and mint with a hint of oak, framed in cool acidity with a tannic structure that will carry this wine for twenty years or more. Powerful and complex yet balanced and elegant at 12.5% alcohol. This beautiful wine comes from the Bretons long experience with this parcel, their 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming and a masterful vinification and élevage, with minimal SO2, which allows great terroir expression and ageability. I will be putting this wine in my cellar, along with my 2010 Baudry Croix Boissee, and, if I can afford it, a 2010 Clos Rougeard, for a nice tasting in 2034! (Some details: Hand harvested into small boxes; 7 day cool maceration, wild yeast fermentation in oak vat without addition of SO2, progressively warmer over 15 days; no chaptalization, minimal extraction — one pumping over, no cap punching; aged in 10% new, 90% one-year-old barrels for two years with one racking; bottled after 2 1/2 years on a "flowering" day.) DL
From old vines on the upper slopes of Bourgueil, where the clay over Turonien chalk gives magnificent long-lasting wines. Vinified with zero sulfur-dioxide, the 2010 Nuits D'Ivresse has deep aromas of strawberry confit, earth and spice. The palate is round but balanced and fresh. Buy a case and drink half now, wait 5 to 8 years for the rest. "It's a search for purity of fruit according to the principals of Jules Chauvet, a wine of "Pure Origine" without additives."
Tasted twice in February 2016 and 2017, the 2011 Les Perrières has impressed both times with it's structure and complexity, showing dense, deep earthy red fruits with meaty and herbal notes. There is ample tannin for aging, but there is good ripeness that opens up nicely with decanting. This superb Bourgueil will accompany grilled pork and beef and full-flavored cheeses. Decant 3 to 4 hours in advance if serving now, or cellar - best perhaps 2020 to 2030. DL
One of our favorite Loire reds, the Breton Nuits D'Ivresse is a selection of old vines on a terroir of clay and limestone. The wine is vinified, aged and bottled without the addition of sulfur, preserving it's lovely fruit aromas. The 2012 has complex somewhat "sauvage" red fruit and earthy notes and a medium-bodied palate. 2012 is a lovely vintage for Loire reds with vibrant fruit and bright acidity making them great food wines — carafe, serve cool and enjoy with charcuterie, pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses...
The 2010 Le Clos from Vincent Careme is a superb off-dry Vouvray (20 grams/liter of RS) that is a bit softer than the wonderful 2008, showing brilliant aromas of lime-flower, white and yellow fruits, spice, lemon and stone with a hint of marzipan, really lovely! The palate is very mineral with stone, lemon, honeysuckle and herbal flavors with firm acidity and a long creamy finish. This is a great young Vouvray to serve with fish or chicken in sauce, foie gras and mild cheeses, or cellar for twenty years for a mature experience...
Our friend Francois Pinon feels that the best expression of Chenin Blanc is often somewhere between sec and demi-sec, sometimes called "Tradition," and this lovely wine, at 14 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol, fits the bill perfectly. The Clos Habert is a 3 hectare parcel on clay with silex stones ("Les Peruches") over the white limestone Tuffeau. Full and elegant with white fruits, citrus and stone, this beautfully structured and crystalline Chenin Blanc will accompany fish and chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses and will age wonderfully for fifteen to 20 years.
The Domaine du Closel "Caillardières" is a demi-sec Savennières that we have enjoyed immensely in the past - we're glad to see it back in the US and we can't wait to try it! "The grapes are harvested later ; the berries are golden, producing wines with aromas of baked apple, exotic fruits, raisins and toasted almonds. That terroir gives the wine a very silky texture, characteristic of these sandstone schist parcels. This wine is vinified and aged in barrels (French oak, 12 months) and reveals through natural micro-oxygenation this slightly bitter aftertaste that will give an interesting body to the wine. Rather smooth on the palate this wine has character. It pairs very well with artichokes or asparagus, other vegetables difficult to pair with wine. It is also popular with sweet and savory dishes such as veal stew with orange, monkfish with honey and cider vinegar, roasted pork with pineapple." - from the Domaine du Closel website.
A delicious demi-sec Chenin Blanc from Alain and Christine Bore! Honey-tinged and luscious on the nose with baked peaches, mango, pineapple, lime zest, heather, red delicious apple skin, and tangerine. Mellow and round on the palate, but balanced with exotic tropical fruits, lemon meringue, salty pineapple, honey, and Marcona almond. Tropical fruit and grapefruit endure on the finish, along with a sweetness that is never cloying. Pair with all kinds of dessert, but a summery fruit tart would be best! Tim Gagnon
This is a full-bodied and very delicious Cabernet Franc from our organic friends Alain and Christine Bore at Domaine du Fresche in Anjou. The wine shows intense aromas of blackberry liqueur with hints of black pepper, bitter chocolate, roast meats and licorice. The palate is very ripe and supple with blackberry and black-cherry fruit framed in firm acidity. The finish is long with mineral and berry flavors with juicy acidity. Great for current drinking, served cool, or short-term cellaring. Serve with anything grilled, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
This Brut Nature from Domaine les Grandes Vignes is a blend of Gamay and Groslot in Biodynamic farming, naturally vinified with zero sulfur added. Dark pink garnet color; lovely aromas of red currant, candied strawberry and violets. Soft bubbles with ripe red currant and berry fruits - quite rich but dry and balanced, really delicious! Serve as an aperitif or with a meal - perect at a picnic with chicken or veggies. Bravo to the Vaillant family for great farming and natural vinifications.
If you have a sweet tooth, this Chenin is for you! Bonnezeaux is one of a few sweet wine appellations in the Loire Valley, where grapes are required to be over-ripe, and are sometimes affected by noble rot. "Le Malabé" has about 130 grams of residual sugar, but I honestly thought it was about 80g when I first tasted this wine, thanks to the high acidity and the ample minerality that the schiste soils provide. Just bringing the wine to the nose, one is greeted with honey, quince and with some subtle sweet spice aromas that tickle the senses. On the palate, it's dense, ripe and absolutely delicious. Francois from Grandes Vignes mentioned to me that 2013 was OK for reds in the Loire, very good for their dry Chenin Blanc, and exceptional for the sweet wines. Case in point! Drink now if you're craving sometime sweet, or age for decades. Eben Lillie
This is a Methode Ancestrale sparkling white of Grolleau Gris, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. Disgorgement is after about 6 months on the lees, and the wine is made without added sulfur. It's dry and delicious - a great aperitif and a really versatile sparkler that will pair well with a wide variety of foods and is equally enjoyable and charming on it's own. Eben Lillie
This is Anjou Cabernet Franc from gravel/schist and sandy clay soils. The grapes undergo 3 days of maceration followed by aging in 2-3 year-old barrels, and the wine is bottled without filtration or added sulfur. It's quite funky on the nose, almost deceivingly so, as it's totally pure on the palate. Plenty of red fruit, spice, eucalyptus, and earth... really classic Cab Franc in many ways, but with a little edginess. Eben Lillie
Yum! This is a very gulpable Cab Franc from the folks at Domaine les Grandes Vignes. This has very little tannin, and a healthy amount of acidity and ripe red fruit, so it's a shoo-in for the chillable red category. There's nice density and richness, which can be missed with some Loire Valley natural wines (always good to have a medium bodied option in that category). There's no funk here, just pure fruit, so it's an easy fit for the dinner table, even for less "adventurous" palates. Eben Lillie
From 40 to 80 year-old vines on clay over limestone soils around Benais in Bourgueil. Certified organic since 1965! By now the great work of Stephane Guion needs no introduction to CSW customers, but the quality of his 2014 Cuvée Prestige deserves special attention. The wine is perfectly balanced, with the high acidity and mineral content always present in Stephane's wines framed by precisely ripe and supple fruit with depth and elegance. The aromas show raspberry and blackberry liqueur with hints of dark chocolate, earth and licorice, ripe but bright. Supple, ripe berry fruits on the palate with fine tannins and citrusy acids, deep and intense but forward and delicious now. This wine will drink beautifully over the next 20 years or longer and is highly recommended.
2015 Le Haut Lieu Moelleux: 12.5% alc, 45 gr/l RS. A very graceful wine. Ripe mango, pineapple stalk, candied grapefruit peel, lychee, and a hint of wool rise from the glass. The palate perfectly balances opulent fruit and sweetness with bright acidity and a scintillating texture. Although approachable now, it'd be great in 5-7 years. Tim Gagnon
"Le Haut-Lieu—The original Huët vineyard is nearly 9 hectares. It has the richest soils of the domaine’s three crus—a deep limestone-clay—and the wines are generally the estate’s most approachable. In some vintages, small quantities from nearby estate parcels may be added to Le Haut-Lieu." 2015 Le Haut Lieu: 13% alcohol, 6 grams/liter RS, 5.6 gr/l acidity.
L'Appetillant is the Joussets' sparkling Montlouis, 100% Chenin Blanc, Champagne method (or should we say "Methode Traditionelle") made with no sulfur and no dosage. All cellar functions by gravity, no pumping, fermentation in one to seven year-old barrels, approximately 12 months on the lees. From 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone. This version is absolutely delicious with lovely aromas of pear, lime-flower, stone and caramel, quite subtle and complex. White fruits, citrus and stone on the palate with nice chalky, lemony length. Drink over the next three years. This is a beautiful wine and is highly recommended!
Chenin Blanc from two terroirs in Montlouis - 40 year-old vines on sand and silex soils over limestone and 70 year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, yields of 30 hl/ha, aged in 2 to 8 year-old large barrels. The 2015 Premier Rendez-Vous is a beautiful wine. Pale gold color; the aromas are very floral - iris and lime flower with pear, peach, apricot and citrus; the palate is silky and textured with chalky minerals beneath ripe white fruits and citrus peel; the finish is long and tart with refreshing lemony acidity. A delightful wine that is delicious now and will drink beautifully over the next five to eight years. DL
2015 is another very good vintage for the Luneau-Papin "L" d'Or, lacking the weight of the 2014 perhaps, but still a very stylish Muscadet for current drinking and medium-term aging as well The wine shows complex aromas including pear, citrus and exotic fruit with anise and herbs. The palate is crystalline and long with stone and white fruits, really delicious, with a nice bit of crisp, bitter acidity in the finish. A good candidate for aging, this is Luneau-Papin's only cuvee on a granite subsoil (granit a deux micas) having a different character than the granite soils in Clisson or Chateau Thebaud. Vintages going back to 1989 of the L d'Or are superb now, but this very young 2015 would be perfect today with a filet of sole.
The Parentière Fraîcheur Iodée de L'Atlantique, which roughly translates as "Atlantic sea-spray" is made from Gros Plant (aka Folle Blanche) grown on gabbro soils near Vallet in the Muscadet Sèvre et Maine region. Domaine de la Parentière is a tiny estate which has been practicing organic agriculture for more than 30 years—the grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with wild yeasts and the wines are never chaptalized, remaining light, mineral and refreshing. The 2014 is a bit softer than usual and shows intriguing aromas of ripe melon, bitter lemon, almond, fresh herbs and stone. The palate is lively and light at 10.2% alcohol with pear, citrus, melon and stone flavors with a fresh lemony finish. This will be very refreshing on a hot day, especially with oysters, prosciutto and melon, terrines, salads and fried fish, etc, etc. Did we say this is an amazing value?