Wine Offerings

Another Rising Star and Another Gem of a Red Wine from Southern France

The River Hérault rises out of the Cévennes mountain range, carving a path through limestone before flowing south across the fertile plain west of Montpellier and finally emptying into the Mediterranean. It cuts through the heart of the winemaking region of Terrasses du Larzac, past the communes of Puéchabon, Aniane, St Jean de Fos, and St Saturnin de Lucian, where young Frédéric Pourtalié of Domaine Montcalmès cultivates about 54 acres of vines to produce a single red wine that is truly a testament to the terroir of this region — easily one of France’s most exciting at present.

Newly minted with appellation status in 2014, Terrasses du Larzac is distinguished for its unique climate that benefits from both the warm Mediterranean sea and the cool air that blows down from the Cévennes, creating wines that are fresh, yet delicate, with silky tannins, and the earthy garrigue aromas characteristic of the Languedoc. It’s a region that can be described as something like a marriage of the ripeness of Southern Rhône with the energy of Northern Rhône.

Until 1998, this family-owned domaine sold all its fruit to a local cooperative. That year Frédéric, and his father Jean-Marie, decided to create their own cellar. In 1999 Frédéric and his sister Muriel took the helm of Domaine Montcalmès, and for the first time produced and bottled wine from their own vineyards, a little over 400 cases.

But Frédéric was not just a farmer determined to make his own wines. He had already cut his teeth working with legends like Alain Graillot, the Alary family at L’Oratoire St. Martin, and his neighbor, Laurent Vaillé at La Grange des Pères. Today, Domaine Montcalmès is a leading producer in the south of France. In 2012, they started converting the entire estate to organic cultivation. From the 2015 vintage, all production is certified organic.

~$43 Domaine Montcalmès Terrasses du Larzac (2015) RED
Special price based on purchase of 6-pack

A blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 20% Mourvèdre from low-yielding vines aged 30 years on average. The Syrah and Grenache vines are planted on slopes in Puéchabon that are oriented to the north, on a plateau of lacustrine limestone deposits (sedimentary rock formations which formed in the bottom of ancient lakes). The Mourvèdre comes from plots facing south and north-west near Aniane and filled with round stones (galets) much like Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All grape varieties are vinified separately and on indigenous yeasts. Aging takes place in a mix of once, twice used, and older barrels for 24 months.

The result is a full-bodied wine of great concentration and polish. Heady aromatics of dark and juicy fruits intermingle with spicy garrigue and leather. On the palate, plump fruit gives way to soft and velvety tannins. It’s perfect for any holiday gathering where red meat is involved.

Also available are small amounts of previous vintages:

$47 Domaine Montcalmès Terrasses du Larzac (2012) RED
$49 Domaine Montcalmès Terrasses du Larzac (2013) RED
$50 Domaine Montcalmès Terrasses du Larzac (2014) RED

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Posted on 2019.12.05 in France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Turkey Day Beaujolais

As always, our first rule for selecting Thanksgiving wine is not to freak out searching for a flawless pairing. The typical feast is far too diverse with textures, flavors, and aromas. There is no reason to kill yourself striving for perfection.

The wines you choose should be light, refreshing, energetic, with moderate alcohol, lots of fruit, and a lively acidity. In other words, versatile enough to complement everything from the roast bird to Aunt Ruby’s marshmallow yam yums. Think of the wine almost like a tasty, liquid cranberry sauce with the added bonus of providing extra mirth.

Our second rule for selecting Thanksgiving wine is that you should have plenty of it. Thanksgiving is a time for celebration and the wine should be as bountiful as the food.

Beaujolais checks all the boxes. Made from 100% Gamay from the southern end of Burgundy, it is a wine that is somehow simultaneously uncomplicated and consequential, all while being inexpensive enough to stock up — and do we have some gems.

Stop by this Saturday to sample a few different Beaujolais wines ideal for your Thanksgiving celebration. We’ll be offering special discounts on all featured wines.

Besides the wines listed below, we also carry other producers from the area, including Damien Coquelet (Chiroubles, Chénas, and Morgon Côte du Py), Jean Foillard (Morgon Côte du Py), George Descombes (Régnié), and father & Son Jean-Paul Thévenet (Morgon) and Charly Thevenet (Régnié).

 

All prices based on purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match). 

Louis-Claude Desvignes

Claude-Emmanuelle and her brother Louis-Benoît Desvignes are 8th generation winemakers. Their 32 acres of vines (averaging 70 years old) lie exclusively in the cru of Morgon, which produces some of the region’s most complex wines, partially due to high concentration of schist and manganese in its soils. Farming is organic, harvesting is done by hand, and aging for all of their bottlings is completed in concrete vats. The results are gorgeously concentrated wines that speak of the greatness of Beaujolais.

 ~$18 “La Voûte Saint-Vincent” (Morgon 2017) 

A blend from vines averaging 60 years old growing in various estate parcels in the climat of Douby. Douby has deeper, sandier, granitic soils and yields a more supple style of Morgon.

~$24 “Montpelain” (Morgon 2018)

From a single parcel of 80 year old vines on silty soils of sand and clay on the eastern edge of Morgon near Fleurie.

~$39 “Les Impénitents” (Morgon Côte du Py 2017)

From Desvignes’ three oldest parcels planted in 1912 and 1914 in the historic lieu-dit of Javernières at the foot of the famous hill of Côte du Py.

Terres Dorées – Jean-Paul Brun

Jean-Paul Brun started Terres Dorées in 1979 and is one of the region’s champions of what might be described as traditional Beaujolais. His wines are fermented with natural yeast and he has also always eschewed the relatively modern technique of carbonic maceration in favor of traditional Burgundian vinification. His commitment to purity of expression of fruit and site is clear in all of his wines.

~$19 Côte de Brouilly (2017)

Vines ranging from 40 to 55 years old, facing east and midway up a steep slope on poor soils of hard granite and iron.

~$22 Moulin-à-Vent (2017) 

30 to 45 year old vines whose roots are forced to go deep by thin, sandy, pink-granite top soils.

~$28 “Grille Midi” (Fleurie 2016)

The famous lieu-dit of Grille Midi is a south-facing amphitheater of vines on poor, sandy, decomposed-granite soils over hard granite rock.

Thibault Liger-Belair

Cousin to Vicomte Liger-Belair of La Romanée fame, in 2001 Thibault Liger-Belair took over storied family property in Nuits-Saint-Georges, reclaiming vineyards which had been contracted out to various sharecroppers and creating a new domaine under his own name. In 2008, Thibault decided to deploy his talent and knowledge in the Cru Beaujolais appellation of Moulin-à-Vent. The vineyards of Moulin-à-Vent reminded him of the Burgundian terroirs and he purchased several different parcels with the goal of producing wines that reflect their individual climat.

~$30 “Deux Terres” (Bourgogne Gamay 2016)

The cuvée “Deux Terres” (the two lands) is produced from roughly two-thirds gamay (from Beaujolais Cru fruit) and one-third Pinot Noir from the greater Burgundy region.

~$41 “Les Vieilles Vignes” (Moulin à Vent 2016)

Thibault’s flagship Moulin à Vent is a blend of nine parcels across 17 acres planted between 1910 and 1955.

~$53 “La Roche” (Moulin à Vent 2016)

Thibault considers the 5.5 acre plot “La Roche,” planted between 1920 and 1945, the most beautiful parcel of his domain.

~$53 “Champ de Cour” (Moulin à Vent 2016)

The “Champ de Cour” parcel is planted with vines that are over 80 years old. It is a superb terroir with an eastern exposure and granite surface rocks that force the roots to dig deep to seek their nutrients creating a beautifully concentrated wine.

Domaine Robert-Denogent

In 1988, Jean-Jacques Robert took over 12 acres of his grandfather’s vines in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy just outside the village of Fuissé and soon came under the influence of one of the masters of terroir-focused Beaujolais, Marcel Lapierre. The wines are made with rigorous sorting in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar.

~$28 “Cuvée Jules Chauvet” (Beaujolais Villages 2015)

“Cuvée Jules Chauvet” is made from a parcel leased from the niece of another Beaujolais legend, Jules Chauvet.

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Posted on 2019.11.21 in Beaujolais, France, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Power and Silkiness, Red Wines from Domaine du Gros ‘Noré in Bandol — the Grand Cru of Provence

Do a little digging into the work of Alain Pascal of Domaine du Gros ‘Noré and the first thing the wine pundits want you to know is how much of an outsized character he is. While it is true that Alain — a burly former amateur boxer and enthusiastic hunter — is quite the personality, it is mainly his exceptional wines that speak of sunny Provence, and the rolling hillsides around La Cadière-d’Azur, that define him.

Born in a small house set among the vineyards of Bandol, Alain always knew he wanted to be a farmer. At first, Alain sold most of his precious fruit to Domaine Ott and Château de Pibarnon, only producing wine for his family to consume. After the death of his father, Honoré, he decided to make his own wine and built a cellar dedicated to him, whose nickname was Gros Noré, due to his ample build. He bottled his first estate wines in 1997.

From the very beginning, Alain produced his wines with minimal intervention — bottled without filtering and fermented with indigenous yeasts. Initially he made a name for the estate by producing ripe and full-bodied wines. Over the years he has strived to push his wines toward more freshness and complexity. To accomplish this, harvesting is being completed slightly earlier while whole-cluster fermentations and less extraction are employed allowing Alain to produce wines that are both balanced and robust.

Today the estate is a total of 42 acres and Alain is helped by his brother Guy and nephew Jordan. Cultivation is essentially organic, as no chemicals are used on the vines. Most parcels are located on slopes that receive the optimal sunshine that the Mourvèdre grape loves, with a moderating Mistral wind. Although production totals only about 6,000 cases annually (mostly red), Domaine du Gros ‘Noré is considered one of the top estates in the Grand Cru of Provence.

We are offering multiple vintages of two different cuvées.
Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)

~$42 Bandol (2016)

AND

~$71 Bandol (2011) LIBRARY RELEASE

Bandol appellation law demands that each blend includes at least 50% Mourvèdre. To provide more power and concentration Alain uses 80% (mostly whole-cluster) in this, his flagship cuvée. The rest of the blend is 15% Grenache and 5% Cinsault. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats and then aged for 18 months in large oak foudres. The 2016 vintage has a lovely, elegant nose of jellied black cherry fruit and mediterranean herbs. It’s bold yet supple on the palate with concentrated fruit, clean earth, stone, and refined tannins. With a few years of maturity, the 2011 vintage shows similar characteristics, but has softened and integrated a bit more.

~$89 “Antoinette” (Bandol 2010) LIBRARY RELEASE

AND

~$89 “Antoinette” (Bandol 2013) LIBRARY RELEASE

The cuvée “Antoinette” comes from Alain’s highest parcel that he planted while he was a very young man. Since 2008, he has used this fruit from 40+ year old vines on 2.5 acres for this cuvée, named for his mother, Antoinette. The blend is 95% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache, providing loads of power to pair with plenty of finesse. A taste of the 2013 vintage reveals all of the regular cuvée’s attributes even more intensely. Add to this some red meat, eucalyptus, and smoldering earth for a special cuvée, indeed. While both vintages of “Antoinette” are approachable now, they likely have another 10-15 years of development ahead of them.

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Posted on 2019.11.14 in France, Provence, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 

Combel-La-Serre Cahors — Superbly Balanced, Old-World Malbec from its Homeland in Southwest France

Before the Malbec grape variety became the darling of Argentina, it was the most commonly planted vine throughout southwest France, including Bordeaux. That is until the severe winter of 1956 killed off a large portion of the vines. While Bordeaux replanted more glamorous varieties, the appellation of Cahors (starting about 50 miles from the western boundary of Bordeaux) stuck with Malbec, better known there as Côt or Auxerrois.

Cahors has been famous for the depth and longevity of its wines since the Middle Ages. Often called “black wines” due to their deep color, Cahors are generally more tannic and structured than the more common Argentine Malbecs, which tend to be more plush in texture, and often get oak-flavor treatment.

Young Julien Ilbert of Combel-la-Serre is one of the regions forward thinking vignerons. His wines offer superb value and are neither the alcoholic and heavyweight versions that are the norm in Argentina, nor are they the rustic style of Cahors that might turn off a modern wine enthusiast.

Vines have been in the Ilbert family for generations, with the fruit being sold to a local cooperative. It wasn’t until 1998 that Julien became the first of his family to start his own estate. At first he provided fruit to another producer making high-quality wines but Julien eventually began producing under his own label in 2005.

Today, the estate is about 60 acres of Malbec planted on a diverse amount of terroirs, and has been certified organic since the 2015 vintage. The regulations for Cahors stipulate a minimum of 70% of Malbec yet Julien’s wines are all comprised of 100% of the variety as he believes it is the only grape suitable to create the proper balance he is aiming for in his red wines — wines of aromatic power, without overripeness, and the more ambitious cuvées possessing the structure and intensity to mature brilliantly.

 

Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)

 

~$15 “Le Pur Fruit du Causse” (Cahors 2018)

100% Malbec from seven different sites around the village of Cournou. The vines average 35 years old and the soils are clay and limestone. A traditional, low temperature vinification is employed with indigenous yeasts for a short period of time to extract maximum fruit. The wine ages over winter on its lees in cement tanks. It is then bottled quickly to best preserve its rollicking and youthful fruit. It’s a thirst-quenching “vin de soif” with a brilliant acidic lift, bright black fruit, and a lovely floral scent.

 

~$19 “Château Combel-La-Serre” (Cahors 2017)

A step up in body, tannin, and complexity compared to the crushable Le Pur Fruit, the cuvée Château is 100% Malbec from three different sites around the village of Cournou. The vines average 40 years old and the soils are mainly red clay with some limestone. Vinification is employed with indigenous yeasts in a mix of cement, fiberglass, and steel. The wine matures in 500 liter wood barrels for a year. Wild herbs, mint, and plum define the aromatics while generous fruit and lively acidity define the palate.

 

~$24 “Au Cerisier” (Cahors 2017)

100% Malbec from a single, three acre parcel next door to a cherry orchard which gives this cuvée its name. The vines average 40 years old and the soils are mainly red and yellow clay over limestone bedrock. Vinification is employed with indigenous yeasts and the wine matures in cement tank for 12 to 14 months. Even more ambitious in substance than the cuvée Château, “Au Cerisier” shows a bit more floral aromatics alongside sweet plums and herbs. A sip is concentrated, with even more fruit, yet superbly balanced.

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Posted on 2019.11.07 in France, South West  |  Read more...

 

Piedmont Red & White from a Pioneer of the Biodynamic Movement

“An agricultural product is a flower that blossoms from the encounter of love between the creativity of nature and that of man.” — Stefano Bellotti

The Italian town of Gavi lay in the easternmost reaches of the Monferrato hills at the foot of the Ligurian Apennines mountain range. It is a region historically linked to Genoa and still expresses that city’s Mediterranean influence in customs, speech, and even climate. Hailing from a Genoese family, influential biodynamic winemaker Stefano Bellotti spent much of his youth in a nearby farming community and never gave up his love for agriculture and the countryside.

Stefano was only 11 years old when he began participating in the harvest at his small, family farm of Cascina degli Ulivi near the village of Tassarolo, just a few miles north of Gavi and at the time more of a hobby garden than an estate. At 17 years old he managed a harvest on his own, with the help of his elderly neighbor, Pietro Toccalino, who was illiterate yet full of winemaking knowledge. It was then that Stefano decided to move to Cascina degli Ulivi permanently and become a full-time farmer.

He had immediate aspirations to grow wheat and vegetables for sale but the ferrous red clay soils were not particularly suitable for those types of crops, presenting a challenge in terms of income. He decided to focus on the vines. In this regard, he was lucky enough to be guided by the last of the area peasants, “heirs of ancient knowledge and custodians of ancestral practices.”

A man very much in touch with what he understood as freedom and authenticity, Stefano respected the ways of his ancestors, and was one of the first winemakers of the modern era to implement biodynamic practices in the early 1980s, before they were trendy. Today, the estate is around 40 acres and works as a self-sufficient farm, growing their own vegetables and cereals, breeding animals for milk, meat, and eggs, and making bread and cheese. Sadly, Stefano passed away a little over a year ago but we can still enjoy some of the wines made under his unwavering belief in producing wine expressive of place and without artifice.

Special prices based on purchase of 6-pack (mix-and-match)

Stefano Bellotti advised letting his wines breathe in the glass, “Discovering a good wine is like making a meeting full of promise,” he says, “I want to leave the wine the time it takes to open up and let me discover its wonders little by little. The wine will be different after 15 minutes, it will evolve after 30 minutes, and its flavors will change again after an hour. We must not be in a hurry, let the charm act naturally!”

~$34 “Nibiô” (Vino Rosso 2013) RED

Declassified Monferrato DOC, “Nibiô” is the name for the red-stemmed Dolcetto grape in the local dialect. The wine is 100% Dolcetto fermented with indigenous yeasts, macerated on the skins for four weeks, and then aged for 24 months in 2,500 and 5,000 liter wood barrels. No sulfites are added. “Nibiô” is no simple Dolcetto. The nose is redolent of decaying flowers and juicy, wild orchard fruit. A sip expresses concentrated summer berries with a streak of wet stone and some gentle tannins to balance the wealth of fruit. The earthiness of this wine might pair exceptionally well with a goat cheese and mushroom pizza.

~$34 “Montemarino” (Vino Bianco 2017) WHITE

Declassified Monferrato DOC made from 100% Cortese, “Montemarino” is the name of a vineyard located on top of one of the highest hills in Gavi. The clay and limestone parcel receives full sun due to its southern exposure as well as maritime winds blowing in from the Mediterranean. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts in 1,500 liter wooden vats “sur lies” for 11 months. No sulfites are added. Aromas of ripe apple, pear, and a wisp of apricot, hover above subtle notes of hazelnut. It is round on the palate yet not overly fat, with a finish just acidic enough to make for a superbly balanced wine.

~$34 “Filagnotti” (Vino Bianco 2017) WHITE

Declassified Gavi DOCG made from 100% Cortese, “Filagnotti” is named after a parcel located near the town of Tassarolo with southwestern exposure and ferrous, red clay soils. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts in 2,500 liter acacia wood vats “sur lies” for 15 months. No sulfites are added. The aromas are reminiscent of hawthorn blossoms and citrus. On the palate there is a ferrous minerality with notes of fresh lemon and honey. It’s dense yet drinkable.

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Posted on 2019.10.31 in Italy, Piedmont, Saturday Sips  |  Read more...

 


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