The winemaking region of Alsace — located in far eastern France, on the border of southern Germany — is perhaps the most geologically complex in all of France. Much like Burgundy, the vineyards of Alsace lie on the western side of an escarpment that holds a mosaic of soil types and microclimates. A range of east-facing hillsides, sunny days, and protection from moisture by the Vosges Mountains make for an ideal environment to grow vines. Unlike Burgundy, the wines of Alsace are known more by grape variety than vineyard name, making it slightly more difficult to presume quality based on a label alone.
Third-generation winemaker Félix Meyer’s Domaine Meyer-Fonné has been one of the top performers in contemporary Alsace. The winery and family home are based in the village of Katzenthal, known for its distinctive granite soils, situated just east of the city of Colmar about 15 miles from the border. The estate boasts 34 acres of vines in a mosaic of parcels (including five Grands Crus). The majority of their holdings are located on hillsides and planted to the noble varieties, producing wines of great energy and depth.
The main focus at Domaine Meyer-Fonné is raising fruit of the highest quality. Cultivation is practicing organic as no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides are used. Winemaking is traditional with fermentation taking place through native yeasts. The wines are kept on the lees until May (Alsace AOC) or September (single vineyards) before bottling. All of Félix Meyer’s wines are characterized by heady aromatics and seductive textures attached to a frame of mineral tension.
All prices are based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).
$27 “Vignoble de Katzenthal” Riesling (Vin d’Alsace 2017)
100% Riesling from a two acre vineyard of granite with mica and calcareous marl planted in 1985 and 2009. This cuvée also includes some fruit from declassified Grand Cru and lieux-dit sites. With a lovely bouquet of orchard fruits, chalky lemon, flowers, and wet stones, this is no ordinary or “frooty” Riesling. A sip is dry yet filled with crisp, ripe fruit balanced by a long and nervy finish. It is a classic Alsace Riesling worth stocking in your cellar for when the occasion calls.
~$40 “Altenbourg” Pinot Noir (Vin d’Alsace 2017)
100% Pinot Noir planted in 1996 in a 1.7 acre plot of marly limestone. This cuvée was first introduced to the Meyer-Fonné lineup in 2015. The wine ages in neutral oak for 15 months and then three months in tank before bottling. Fans of Pinot Noir from the Jura region will find elements in this wine that are both familiar and surprising. Cherry and herb aromas dominate the nose while a sip is sleek and racy. With fine tannins and a lengthy mineral finish, this an ideal summer red.
~$40 “Wineck-Schlossberg” Riesling (Alsace Grand Cru 2016)
100% Riesling from 2.4 acres planted in 1958 and 2010. The Wineck-Schlossberg Grand Cru has a south-facing exposure rising above the village of Katzenthal and is characterized by a crumbly binary mica granite known as “de Turckheim.” A pure and delicate nose exudes spicy and mineral notes intermixed with ripe citrus. Feminine and ethereal on the palate, drink it now by candlelight, or throw a few in the cellar for future romantic evenings that call for a gorgeous bottle of white.
$45 “Schoenenbourg” Riesling (Alsace Grand Cru 2017)
100% Riesling planted in 1995 from a tiny plot around a third of an acre in size. The “Schoenenbourg” Grand Cru is the jewel of the charming, medieval village of Riquewihr. Its south-facing slope is established on unique “Keuper” soils of green-colored marl. With a voluminous palate, and a nose stacked with flowers and spice, this is a wine worth laying down for a few years or opening for a special meal.
Just in time for a withering heat wave here in Detroit, we’ve received a new shipment of wines from one of our favorite Italian producers. Cristiana Tiberio is based in the Cugnoli area of Pescarese (one of the four winemaking zones of Abruzzo). Her wines are characterized by a balanced freshness made possible by mild sea breezes drifting in from the Adriatic and the cool air currents flowing down the slopes of the Majella and Gran Sasso mountains.
It’s thrilling to watch Cristiana’s star rising so fast. She has only been fully responsible for the winemaking at her family’s 74 acre estate since 2011. Yet she is already mentioned among the top producers of the region, consistently being awarded the coveted “Tre Bicchieri” (Three Glasses) by Gambero Rosso, the world’s leading authority on Italian wine. Her training in chemistry, along with stints in Champagne and Australia, backed by repeated visits to the Mosel and Chablis, inform her work in the cellar. And if you happen to follow her on Instagram, you would see that she is regularly educating her palate by drinking some of the world’s most significant wines.
Abruzzo’s sunny hills, limestone soils, and aforementioned sea and mountain air currents, are more than capable of producing outstanding wines. Unfortunately, the reality is that too often many farmers find it convenient to join cooperatives and force production well beyond the limits of quality. A new generation of grower/producers in the region aims to show the world what’s possible when the focus is on creating wines that speak of place.
Indeed, the primary goal of the estate is to produce wines that clearly express the characteristics of the land they come from and the specific varieties that have adapted there. In Cristiana’s words: “One of the most important things for me in being a vigneron and making wines is to work just with massal selections. What is so unique in my wines are my biotypes, because they are the historical and authentic clones for each variety that I saved and propagated in order to express and respect the original flavors and aromas. These biotypes are unique and belong just to me, so they today represent the identity of my wines.”
A key figure in maintaining the authenticity of the vines is Cristiana’s brother, Antonio. As the estate’s viticulturalist, he is responsible for tending the vines. Together, the two are producing some of the most exciting Abruzzo wines available.
All prices are based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).
~$21 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP 2016)
Cristiana and Antonio seek to express freshness of fruit in this wine made from over 50-year-old Montepulciano vines grown in clay-calcareous soil. With intense aromas of cherry fruit, violets, flint, and a snappy finish, this is a red wine that won’t become ponderous in the heat of summer. The 2016 season was cool and moist, exactly as Cristiana likes it to produce fruit with ideal ripeness. Subsequently, the 2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is vibrant, refined, and elegant. Its silky tannins play alongside loads of fruit.
~$21 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (DOP 2018)
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo isn’t exactly a rosato. It is an official denomination and appellation to cover the cherry-red (Cerasuolo roughly translated means cherry-like), brightly flavored wines of Abruzzo made from the free-run juice of the Montepulciano grape with a short maceration prior to fermentation apart from the grape skins. Tiberio’s Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is fleshy, with aromatics of flowers and citrus peel, and flavors of wild strawberries, cranberries, pomegranate, and rhubarb. 2018 was another cool and moist vintage. The Montepulciano grapes were harvested ripe but while the skins were still crunchy, producing a classic, juicy Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.
~$22 “Pecorino” (Colline Pescaresi IGP 2017)
Despite its name, there is no direct link between the Pecorino grape and Pecorino cheese. According to local legend, Pecorino gets its name from the sheep (pecora) that would snack on the grapes in the vineyards. The variety was thought to be extinct until it was found growing wild just north of Abruzzo in Marche and began a revival in the 1980s. Tiberio’s seven acres of Pecorino vines are planted on 20 foot deep limestone soils over clay and compacted sand and are some of the oldest in the region. The vines are naturally low yielding with a high total acidity so while production is low, the wines show a thrilling combination of rich texture and energy, green grass, flowers, salt, stone, and sunshine. The 2017 season was the hottest and driest of the past 50 years. The Pecorino yield was extremely low and produced wines that are exceptionally rich and concentrated. In this unique vintage, the traditional botanical flavors of Pecorino are expressed more toward thyme and lemon curd while the wine maintains its salinity.
~$22 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (DOP 2016)
Tiberio’s Trebbiano Abruzzese vines are especially noteworthy, not only because they are among the oldest in Abruzzo, but also because true Trebbiano Abruzzese is rare. Much of Abruzzo’s vineyards are actually planted to Bombino Bianco, Mostosa, and Trebbiano Toscano which were until very recently routinely confused with Trebbiano Abruzzese. While the four share similar features, they are distinct varieties. Trebbiano Abruzzese is the most noble of the four, producing wines that, while delicate and light-bodied, have greater depth and complexity. Lively and elegant, the 2016 shows exceptional balance with flavors of citrus and apricot, and notes of spicy white pepper. A couple of years from its release now, it is beginning to develop a touch of hazelnut that is typical of the variety.
Although the island of Corsica is France’s most southerly vineyard area, it is surprisingly not its hottest. Elevation and wind modify the realities of latitude, demonstrated by the remarkable freshness of the best of Corsica’s white wines, and the almost Burgundian grace of its best reds. With a rediscovery of indigenous grape varieties and a focus on quality production, Corsica is one of the most exciting wine regions in France right now.
Easily one of the top producers in Corsica, Jean-Charles Abbatucci creates majestic and fiercely unique wines from the granitic western coast of Corsica. He has created a pristine poly-culture ecosystem on his estate south of Ajaccio that includes groves of olive trees on ancient terraces, and large swaths of untouched forests. Jean-Charles believes in following even the most offbeat biodynamic practices to the letter. He goes so far as to drive a tractor around his vineyards, playing traditional Corsican polyphonic songs over loudspeakers to the vines and the herds of sheep foraging through them.
Located in southern Corsica, in the heart of the Taravo Valley, and at an altitude of about 300 feet, many of the estate’s vines come from cuttings of indigenous varieties sourced decades ago by his father (then President of the Chamber of Agriculture of Corsica) from peasant farmsteads in the mountainous and remote interior of the island.
Jean-Charles is so dedicated to the idea of returning to the culture of traditional Corsican vines that he has completely eschewed the appellation system and currently bottles all of his wines under the Vin de France label. In a recent interview, he says, “At first I didn’t leave completely, I just began the Cuvée Collection of old varieties and bottled them as Vin de France. But five years ago I decided the system was just too restrictive, too limited. We are in a time where agriculture is disappearing and we need to support the traditions that make us who we are.”
Indeed, Jean-Charles’ wines express not only a balanced ripeness of fruit, but also the aromas of Corsican maquis — particularly camphor notes of myrtle and the multi-layered, sexy scents of immortelle (sometimes called the curry plant for its intoxicating aromatics).
All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix and match).
~$35 Faustine Rouge (Vin de France 2017) RED
The blend is predominately Sciaccarellu with a healthy portion of Niellucciu. The 2017 vintage includes 10% Carcajolu-Neru due to low yields of Sciaccarellu. The fruit is hand-harvested and sorted in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification takes place in concrete and stainless steel vats and the wine is aged on fine lees six months before bottling. The result is a highly aromatic, lighter red wine ideal for summer drinking. If you don’t spend all of your time inhaling the gorgeous scents emanating from the glass, you’ll get mouthfuls of generous ripe fruit balanced by a lively spine of lengthy minerality.
The Domaine Comte Abbatucci Cuvée Collection wines all come from a single, five acre parcel planted by Jean-Charles’ father, Antoine Abbatucci, in the early 1960s.
~$89 Ministre Impérial (Vin de France 2016) RED
Ministre Impérial is a blend of Sciaccarellu, Niellucciu, Carcajolu-Neru, Montanaccia, Morescono, Morescola, and Aleatico. The grapes are crushed by foot and macerate for 15 days before aging in older 600 liter demi-muids for 12 months and then stainless steel tank before bottling. From a glass of Ministre Impérial rise aromas of ripe cherries on hot gravel, pear skins, and dusty fruit orchards. Although medium in weight there is a concentration of fruit that travels along a wave of persistent minerality and it all expands throughout the bottle until the last sip when you are not only basking in the beauty of this wine but the beauty of wine itself. This cuvée was named after Jacques-Pierre-Charles Abbatucci, a leading military figure under Napoléon Bonaparte’s Premier Empire.
~$89 Général de la Révolution (Vin de France 2016) WHITE
Général de la Révolution is a blend of Carcajolu Biancu, Paga Debbiti, Riminese, Rossola Brandica, Biancone, and Vermentinu, all vinified in 600 liter demi-muids and 1,200 liter foudre. Maturation occurs on gross lees for nine months, then in vats for two months after assembly of the best batches. Its powerful and persistent nose opens with notes of fresh white fruits and citrus. On the palate, freshness and acidity are balanced by a deep richness. This cuvée was named after Jean-Charles Abbatucci, a military hero of the French Revolution of 1789, who became a Brigadier General at age 25 and was killed that same year on the battlefield. His name is engraved as an “Officer of the Empire” on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
~$89 Diplomate d’Empire (Vin de France 2016) WHITE
Diplomate d’Empire is a blend of Vermentinu, Rossola Bianca, Biancu Gentile, Genovese, and Brustiano, all vinified in 600 Liter demi-muids. Maturation occurs on gross lees for nine months, then in vats for two months after assembly of the best batches. The nose reveals ripe yellow and exotic fruits with heady scents of the maquis. A natural freshness is expressed as power and length. This cuvée was named after Il Calvalière-Don Jacques-Pascal Abbatucci, a childhood friend of Napoléon Bonaparte, who served under the Empire and spent several years as a diplomat in Naples.
If we ever questioned why Laurent Vaillé‘s Domaine de la Grange des Pères Red has attained cult status, a recent tasting of an early 2000s vintage presented us the answer. It was near perfection. Layers of earthy, herbal complexity balanced by sweet, joyous, mature dark fruits and all the hallmark aromatics of the Languedoc terroir including garrigue, olive, and spice, to name just a few. It was truly one of the most complex yet exuberant wines ever to pass our lips.
Laurent’s 25 acre property is situated near the village of Aniane, next to the late Aimé Guibert’s Mas de Daumas Gassac (another superstar of the region). Many believe that Laurent has eclipsed his neighbor in wine terms. Indeed, it took dynamite and bulldozing to clear twice the amount of limestone, boulders, and glacial scree that is found in neighboring vineyards to reveal Laurent’s exceptional terroir. This is an area of the Languedoc that is known to produce some of the greatest wines in the region. Laurent’s vineyards are technically within the rising appellation of Terrasses du Larzac but since he uses a portion of grape varieties that are not allowed he has declassified the wine to Vin de Pays de l’Hérault.
The path to glory started with training under such masters as Jean-François Coche-Dury (Meursault), Gérard Chave (Hermitage), and Eloi Dürrbach (Domaine Trévallon, Provence). This background in wine-craftmanship is evident in every bottle that comes from his cellar. It also helps that he sourced his Syrah cuttings from Chave and his Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine Trévallon.
Laurent employs organic practices in the vineyard and his south-facing vines yield small amounts of fruit, making for highly concentrated wines. The blend for his red wine is generally around 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Counoise. All varieties are harvested and vinified and then aged in 228 liter barrels separately. Laurent will then master the blend in a proportion that satisfies him before bottling. For the white, the blend is 80% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 10% Chardonnay, and the juice is blended before being put into barrels for secondary fermentation, then aged in demi-muids
With an annual production of less than 3,000 cases Laurent’s wines are highly allocated so we have a very limited supply. All prices based on the purchase of a 6-pack (mix and match).
Available sizes and vintages of Domaine de la Grange des Pères RED:
$135 Grange des Pères (2012)
$117 Grange des Pères (2013)
$117 Grange des Pères (2014)
$126 Grange des Pères (2015)
$261 Grange des Pères (2011)
$261 Grange des Pères (2013)
$261 Grange des Pères (2014)
$261 Grange des Pères (2015)
Available sizes and vintages of Domaine de la Grange des Pères WHITE:
$126 Grange des Pères (2015)
$261 Grange des Pères (2014)
$261 Grange des Pères (2015)
If your holiday weekend plans have you staying home to work in the yard or watch players sweat it out on the courts at Wimbledon, take a break and join us this Saturday to taste a few wines in the cool comfort of Elie Wine Co.
This time of year parties tend to start early and last long after the sun has gone orange behind the trees. Firing up the outdoor grill is all but mandatory and the last thing you want to do is run out of wine. So whether you’re planning your own backyard bash, or you just want to make sure you’re generously provisioned when you arrive at a friend’s home (Who isn’t glad to see the person that shows up with arms full of wine?), we’re offering special prices on every wine in the shop when you purchase six bottles or more.
Here are but a few examples of some fantastic summertime patio wines we have to offer:
~$18 Arianna Occhipinti “SP68” Bianco (IGT Terre Siciliane 2017)
“SP68” Bianco is named after the road that runs near Arianna’s home vineyard in Vittoria. It is a blend of 40% Albanello and 60% Zibibbo (aka Muscat of Alexandria, believed to be one of the oldest genetically unmodified vines still in existence). The first thing you’ll notice about SP68 Bianco is its glowing, deep yellow color from the extended skin contact. The aromatics are off the chain with melon, candied-grape, randy flowers, and just a hint of salted black licorice. A sip is round, bone-dry yet honied, with a vigorous finish, again telling the tale of extended skin contact. You won’t find a more complex white wine for under $20.
~$22 Thierry Germain Cuvée “Thierry Germain” (Saumur Champigny 2016)
100% Cabernet Franc from the small enclave of Saumur Champigny on the left bank of the loire — a region known to produce some of the most refreshing expressions of this grape variety. Although receiving accolades nearly from the start, Thierry’s winemaking style has gone through several stages over the years, ultimately eschewing big new oak and blowsy fruit for precision and sense of place, and eventually becoming known as one of the elite producers in the Loire. Indeed, his biodynamically farmed Saumur Champigny wines have set a new standard.
~$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.