Wine Offerings

Fresh, Easy-Drinking Cru Beaujolais from Juliénas & White Mâconnais

These weeks leading into the holidays have us thinking about the affordable and refreshing wines that work so well with the great variety and abundance of food on the table during gatherings of friends and family. This Saturday we are featuring two beautifully fresh wines from the south of Burgundy.

Jean Montanet is leading a quiet, peaceful revolution in Vézelay. He helped found, and was nominated president, of the local cave coopérative, which saw its first vintage bottled in 1990, and helped to put the region on the map. In the first handful of years at the coopérative he worked alongside Bernard Raveneau, one of the leading producers in Chablis. It was Raveneau that reminded the growers that wine was made in the vineyard, not the cellar.

As the decade closed, Jean was introduced to the wines and winemaking philosophy of Marcel Lapierre, now a legend in the Beaujolais Cru of Morgon. Jean’s direction seemed to be clear after that meeting. While still part of the coopérative he began experimenting with minimal sulfite additions and in 2000 he turned to organic cultivation in his vineyards.

With the coopérative seemingly headed in a different direction and Jean with superb cellar skills learned from Bernard Raveneau, he split from the group in 2004 to produce under his own label, Domaine de la Cadette. His son, Valentin, joined the domaine in 2010 and is presently the manager. Valentin continues the philosophy started by his father of organic farming and natural vinification to produce refreshing, mineral-laden whites and reds.

La Sœur Cadette is the “négoce” label under which the family uses purchased organic fruit from trusted growers. All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix-and-match)

 

 

~$24 La Sœur Cadette (Mâcon-Villages 2016)

Bordering Beaujolais to the south, the warmer climate of the Mâcon-Villages hillsides gives its wines a subtle softness not found in appellations further north. From 30 year old vines on clay and limestone La Sœur Cadette Mâcon-Villages is nicely balanced, with a refreshing texture and finish, floral and citrus aromas, and orchard fruit flavors. The wine sees primary and secondary fermentation in stainless steel tank and is then aged for six to ten months in stainless steel before bottling.

 

 

$27 La Sœur Cadette (Juliénas 2016)

The Cru Juliénas encompasses the four villages of Juliénas, Jullié, Emeringes and Pruzilly. The wine gets its earthy, sappy characteristics from the region’s granite-based soils and ancient alluvial deposits. Sourced from organically grown 30 to 45 year old vines La Sœur Cadette Juliénas is intoxicatingly aromatic and juicy without being simple, precisely the qualities one should be looking for in the type. The wine sees primary fermentation in stainless steel tank and is then aged for nine to ten months in 228L barrel before bottling.

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Posted on 2018.11.15 in Beaujolais, Burgundy, France, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Bold & Balanced Red from an Emerging Sub-zone in the Languedoc

Domaine Saint Sylvestre Red (Terrasses du Larzac 2014)
20% Discount 6-Pack Price: $216 ($36/bottle)

One of the most exciting wine regions in France right now is Terrasses du Larzac. Newly minted with appellation status in 2014, the area is distinguished for its unique climate that benefits from both the warm Mediterranean sea and the cool air that blows down from the Larzac plateau on summer nights, creating wines that are fresh, yet delicate, with silky tannins, and the earthy garrigue aromas characteristic of the Languedoc. It is a region that can be described as something like a marriage of the ripeness of Southern Rhône with the energy of Northern Rhône all wrapped in an herbal vibe all its own.

Situated to the northwest of Montpellier, and symbolized by Mount Baudile which peaks at 2,800 feet, the Terrasses du Larzac has one of the highest concentrations of ambitious producers in the south of France. This is partially due to the unique climate conditions but also the vast range of soil types in a small area. Indeed, one might travel through vineyards composed of schist, sand, horizontal layers of red ruffes, clay/limestone, and galets roulés in the course of a few miles. The best producers know precisely which vines will produce the highest quality fruit depending on the specific soil type, exposure, and altitude of the plot, resulting in some of the most profound wines in the world.

There are few better examples of this type of laser-focused winemaker in the Terrasses du Larzac than Vincent Guizard of Domaine Saint Sylvestre. Together with his wife Sophie, Vincent is cultivating less than 20 acres of prime vineyards set in the wooded hillsides above the enchanting village of Puéchabon and surrounding the 12th century church of Saint Sylvestre after which the domaine’s name is taken. Nearby are some of the biggest names in the Languedoc: Domaine de La Grange des Pères, Domaine d’Aupilhac, Mas de Daumas Gassac, and Domaine de Montcalmès.

Indeed, after cutting his teeth working with the renowned Olivier Jullien at Mas Jullien in Montpeyroux, Vincent was part owner of Domaine de Montcalmès, producing world-class wines with some of the fruit from Vincent’s own vineyards. In 2010 Vincent decided to break away from Montcalmès, taking 17 acres of vines with him, and creating Domaine Saint-Sylvestre with its first vintage release in 2011.

Vincent and Sophie employ a sustainable approach to viticulture, along the lines of “lutte raisonnée” (the reasoned struggle) and use no synthetic fertilizers or herbicides in the vineyards. Fermentation is completed using only indigenous wild yeasts. Domaine Saint Sylvestre Terrasses du Larzac Red is a blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre aged for two years in used French oak barrels from Burgundy before blending and bottling without fining or filtering. It exudes an intoxicating nose of blackberry, garrigue, raw red meat, violets, and a curl of wood smoke. A sip explodes with flavor, sappy and warm, filled with complex fruit and balanced by a lengthy streak of minerality. It’s truly a beautiful wine capable of standing up to the richest of holiday meals but a few tucked away in the cellar will also reward a patient drinker for years to come.

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Posted on 2018.11.08 in France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Radiant, Biodynamic Red from Arid Central Spain

These weeks leading into the holidays have us thinking about the affordable and refreshing wines that work so well with the great variety and abundance of food on the table during gatherings of friends and family.

Uva de Vida “Latitud 40” (Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2015)
Special 6-pack Price: $124 (~$21/bottle)

When the wife-and-husband team of Carmen López and Luis Ruiz began the Uva de Vida project in 2005 their intention was merely to be farmers and cultivate vineyards without the use of synthetic chemicals that they could sell at a better price than the typical cooperative producer. They almost immediately discovered that buyers weren’t all that interested in higher quality grapes so the couple decided to produce the wine themselves.

But when Carmen was diagnosed with a severe illness the family’s philosophy took a further turn. Struggling with the ravaging effects of chemotherapy she decided that she would try and establish a harmony with nature by using strict biodynamic viticultural practices both in the vineyards and the cellars. Indeed, Uva de Vida is one of just a few Spanish winemakers belonging to the group Renaissance des Appellations, the prestigious association of biodynamic producers chaired by Nicolas Joly, one of the pioneers of the biodynamic movement in the Loire Valley of France.

The couple own 33 acres of vines planted at 1,600 feet of altitude in the clay-based soils near the tiny village of Santa Olalla in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, just up the road from the city of Toledo. Uva de Vida employs minimal intervention techniques from start to finish. The fruit is collected by hand in small boxes to keep it intact until fermentation is started spontaneously with indigenous yeasts. Aging for the “Latitud 40” is completed in stainless steel vats before bottling without fining, filtering, or the addition of sulfites. The risk a winemaker runs with this type of minimal intervention is that the wines can show aromatic and flavor characteristics that have nothing to do with the terroir and everything to do with bacteria in the cellar. That is certainly not the case at Uva de Vida.

They have harnessed the soul of the land to produce wines of purity, brilliance and energy, expressing the native grape of Graciano, a key variety of the Gran Reservas in Rioja that contributes higher aromatics and brightness. 100% Graciano and nearly opaque deep red, a glass of “Latitud 40” radiates aromas of cherry fruit leather, dark chocolate, herbs, and salty, sun-baked earth. These heady scents merge seamlessly into a mid-weight sip of blackcurrant fruit with a long and juicy finish. Only 3,300 cases produced.

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Posted on 2018.11.06 in Saturday Sips, Spain DO  |  Read more...

 

Legends Old & New in the Beaujolais and Mâconnais Regions of Burgundy

These weeks leading into the holidays have us thinking about the affordable and refreshing wines that work so well with the great variety and abundance of food on the table during gatherings of friends and family.

Jean-Jacques Robert is one of the few winemakers in the Mâconnais held in the same esteem as those to the north in Burgundy’s famous Côte de Beaune. In 1988, Jean-Jacques took over 12 acres of his grandfather’s vines just outside the village of Fuissé. Influenced by Marcel Lapierre, one of the great producers in Morgon, Jean-Jacques soon began to work his vineyards and cellars with the philosophy that the wines should reflect the place that they come from. He achieves this through organic viticulture practices and minimal intervention in the cellar.

The domaine now covers almost 25 acres of remarkably old vines across more than 30 parcels in the appellations of Mâcon-Fuissé, Mâcon-Solutré, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Véran, and Beaujolais-Villages. In 2007, Jean-Jacques elder son, Nicolas, joined the domaine after studying viticulture and working in the field internationally. 2013 saw his other son, Antoine, begin work at the domaine after a stint with Nicolas Potel in the Côte de Beaune.

All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix-and-match)

~$28 Domaine Robert-Denogent “Cuvée Jules Chauvet” (Beaujolais-Villages 2015)
“Cuvée Jules Chauvet” is made from a three acre parcel of Gamay vines in a 15 acre vineyard that was owned by the late Jules Chauvet – a legend for his pioneering work with organic viticulture in Beaujolais and his leadership in the French natural wine movement. The wine is made with rigorous sorting in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar and then aged for 16 months in seven-year-old barrels. The aromatics are all strawberries and cinnamon, the telltale of a semi-carbonic maceration process that keeps the wine light and lively. A sip is fresh and bursting with berry fruit, a downright pleasure to drink.

~$31 Domaine Robert-Denogent Mâcon-Villages (2015)
Mâcon-Villages is 100% Chardonnay blended from different vineyards and parcels with clay and limestone soils. The grapes are harvested by hand, pressed gently by pneumatic press, and fermented naturally with indigenous yeasts. Mineral notes precede aromatics of citrus and honey. On the palate the wine is rich and opulent with a mix of orchard and exotic fruits, a touch of brine, and a lengthy finish.

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Posted on 2018.10.25 in Burgundy, France, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Pure & Succulent Chardonnay from Burgundy’s Viré-Clessé

The Mâconnais region of southern Burgundy is white wine country and the Chardonnay variety is particularly at home on these limestone slopes with just a bit more warmth than the Côte d’Or.

One of the top producers in the region, third generation winemaker Jean-Marie Chaland, owns a little over 20 acres of vineyards mostly planted with vines aged 50 to 100 years old in and around Viré-Clessé. With organic certification since 2006, fermentation with indigenous yeast, and only the top cuvées maturing in a tiny proportion of new oak barrels, Jean-Marie’s wines are pure, complex, and expressing all of the fleshiness of this unique subzone.

The composite of two top communes in the Mâconnais, Viré-Clessé was recognized in the late 1990s with appellation status for its superior quality Chardonnay-based wines. What makes Viré-Clessé so special is a combination of chalky clay soil over limestone as well as hillside vineyards with favorable exposition to the sun. In the right hands the result are wines plump with fruit yet balanced by a streak of minerality. At their best, they are as close to a properly matured Côte de Beaune white you can get for a fraction of the price and without spending years in a cellar.

The wines of Jean-Marie Chaland are fresh, well-balanced, and joyful. From the easy drinking Mâcon-Villages to the complex single-vineyard, old-vine Viré-Clessé to the elegantly sparkling Crémant, Jean-Marie’s wines all offer heady aromatics and typicity of place.

The holidays are closing in fast and the crowd-pleasing, food-friendly wines of Jean-Marie Chaland are an ideal addition to any gathering.


 

The Wines of Jean-Marie Chaland

 

All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix-and-match)

 
~$33 Domaine Sainte Barbe “ Perle de Roche” (Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Nature) SPARKLING
From a parcel of 45 year old vines on a shallow limestone slab in the commune of Viré. The bottles are cellared for two to three years before disgorgement. No dosage is added. The wine is only produced once every two years for a total of about 3,200 bottles.

 
~$22 Domaine Sainte Barbe “Les Tilles” (Mâcon-Villages 2016)
From a 3.75 acre plot of vines planted in the late 1960s situated on the silty, clay-limestone plateau of Montbellet. It is fermented with indigenous yeast and matured on fine lees for eight months in stainless steel tanks. 3,000 bottles produced.

 

~$25 Domaine des Chazelles “Vieilles Vignes” (Viré-Clessé 2016)
From a five acre plot of 60+ year old vines that’s well protected from prevailing winds, allowing an advanced ripeness.

 

~$32 Domaine Sainte Barbe “L’Epinet” (Viré-Clessé 2016)
From a 1.75 acre plot planted in 1940 on a southeast facing hilltop in the commune of Clessé. Fermentation and aging on lees in barrels for one year (with only one new barrel added per year). 4,500 bottles produced.

 

~$38 Domaine Sainte Barbe “Thurissey” (Viré-Clessé 2016)
From a gently sloping, southeast facing 1.3 acre plot of 95+ year old vines in the northern zone of Viré-Clessé. Fermentation and aging on lees in barrels for one year (with only one new barrel added per year). 2,000 bottles produced.

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Posted on 2018.10.17 in Burgundy, France, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 


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