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March 2012

Tasting at Domaine de Chevalerie

Domaine de Chevalerie was pretty much every bit as awesome as the expectations I had developed. Devenish has been working with Chevalerie for a bit over a year and we were wowed by some very limited 2001 and 1996 Bourgueils they released to us. Laurent loves them and had thoroughly educated us about their 13th generation history, passion, biodynamic farming, and amazing cellars and then Brendon went to visit and brought back great stories last year. They are located in the town of Restigne, just down the road from Laurent and have vineyards up above the Loire on gravelly soils that offer excellent exposure and drainage. That improved drainage from the porous gravel produces wines with more tannin and dark earthy qualities. Nearer the river the soil is sand and clay which hold more water and produces softer wines that are more suited for drinking young.

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Pierre and Stephanie with the new label for the 2011 domaine blend Bonnaire

Anyway, when Laurent and I got over there Pierre and his daughter Stephanie Caslot were just preparing some bottles of the not yet released 2011 vintage for submission to a magazine tasting. Stephanie was pretty focused on getting the samples corked, as she is in charge of sales, and Pierre was all smiles, ambling around waving his arms and making jokes. He was an unabashedly happy guy, overjoyed in life in general it seemed, but the warm weather and spring in particular; and at having people to taste with. He looked just like farmers I know in Maine; round belly, gregarious, rough hands, and full of life.

Once the samples were taken care of Stephanie, Laurent, and I walked down the sloping driveway that leads into their massive wine cave beneath the winery. Originally excavated as a subterranean quarry in the 1100's it is now a huge (nearly an acre) cavern under the winery. This surplus of space allows them the luxury to hold wines indefinitely; until they really feel the wine is properly matured and ready to drink.

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The entrance to the Chevalerie cellar

I don't know how long we were in the cellar. Chevalerie has at least 5 different unique terroirs that they produce and bottle individually, but there are also blended cuvees and experimental wines each year. Considering they're still holding vintages from the mid 2000's and earlier it was a lot of wine to taste through. I'll try to cover the high lights.

First up was the 2011 domaine blend. This is Chevalerie's more approachable drink now wine that comes from some sandy vineyards sites. The Caslots come up with a different name for it each year that in some way encapsulates the vintage. This year it is named “Bonnaire”. I forget why. It's something about being happy. I think. Despite only just being bottled it was delicious, bright, vibrantly cherry flavoured, pretty, and smooth. And the label is great. See the first picture for a preview.

Then we tasted a selection of the 2009s that were still aging and drinking pretty young at this point. One was from a more sandy site and was more elegant, another was from a gravel plot that was lower and had some tea flavors and more tannin. The Breteche vineyard was big but already showing it's trade mark developed fruit and smooth texture. The 09 Chevalerie was darker, smokier, and serious. It was fun to be able to taste all these unique vineyards and see their separate characters developing. I was really interested in a vineyard called Busardieres that I hadn't tasted before. Apparently it has more limestone in it and produces wines that are brighter, racy, and more aromatic. The 09 Busardieres had more raspberry and a kind of wintergreen like white heat in the aroma.

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The cellars are dark.  Seriously.  This was the best picture I took.

Then the 08s. They were all more developed with better integrated tannins. The Busardieres in 08 had a foundation of sweet fruit, but then hints of pine and aromatic herbs that jumped out. I wrote that the tannins sheathed the wine like the wings on a beautiful jeweled beetle. I might not have been spitting everything at this point but I remember the wine and stand by that analogy. I think the 08's were more aromatic and racy across the board; even the Chevalerie.

In comparison to the 08s the 07s were bigger and more powerful, more confidant and forceful. The Chevalerie 07 had a killer perfume like aroma of plum and cherry with an undertone of charred wood and smoke. Some how the tannins were still powerful but seemed to also have finess to me. I'll be importing some of this. The Busardieres also struck me and was noticeably darker with some coffee aromas.

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Pierre looking at his new vegetable garden in front of the winery.

The 2006 Chevaleie showed even more definition in the flavors. There was a subtle aromatic spice to the aroma and a supple fresh cherry. The Busardieres in 06 had softer tannins, some dark licorice loitering behind the fruit, and a hint of dry chalk. Then the tannins that I had thought were softening ambushed me on the finish and strangled me. Last was a late harvest version of the Breteche, I guess to experiment with riper grapes and possibly a more international style. Pierre said the fermentation for this had taken 2 years! This late harvest Breteche was an animal; literally. It was furry, spicy and had a tobacco aroma. I thought it was sexy, but the tannins just would not let go. They hung on and I could still feel their dry sensation for minutes afterwards.

At one point an elderly french couple came into the cave to taste with Pierre. The woman spoke some English and when it was explained I was an American wine distributor she began asking me about Parker and America's taste in wine. We had a good talk about American's evolving interest in wine and their growing inquisitiveness. She said she and her husband had been coming to Chevalerie for about 30 years now to buy wine. They didn't buy bottles, they just brought 10L plastic tanks to fill up with whatever they liked and then bottled it themselves. Pierre filled the tanks himself from the different specific barrels they picked out. It was a great demonstration of the differences between America and France's wine cultures.

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Pierre, Stephanie, and I outside with the new Bonnaire label.

I eventually stumbled out into the fading sun shine with Laurent. I could have just lain down in the vineyard to nap. Instead we jumped into the car to go visit Pierre Gauthiere and Domaine Bel Air, just down the road! More on that later....

Being able to make wine in the way that Chevalerie does is both a rarity and a luxury. Unlike many wineries they have that huge cavern underground providing the space. Much of their land has been in the family for 100s of years so the capital investments of buying and building the original winery were paid off long ago. Probably most importantly though they're acknowledged as one of the best and so people seek them out looking for excellent older Bourgueil and are willing to pay for it. Irregardless, Chevalerie is in a unique position that allows them to produce beautiful wines free from many of the headaches suffered by other wineries. This is a gem and in many ways embodies what Devenish seeks in a wine.

Domaine des Terres Blanches Ancestral Brut

Disclaimer: I have since visited Terres Blanches and was really impressed. I'll have notes about Benoit, the wine maker and how they operate online in the near future.

OK!  Great!  I don't know anything about Terres Blanches and I just unloaded it from the truck today so I have nothing to go on but the quirky French website I used Google translator on.  As you can see it didn't really work out so well.  So, um, I guess I'll just have to taste extra hard.

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Terres Blanches was created in 2004 by Celine and Benoit Blet.  The winery is about 8 ha in the town of Oiron in Poitou-Charentes.  I don't know where that is really, but I know it's not in any of the big name established Loire appellations.  Land in the reputable, famous places was far to expensive and formal for the Blets so they took over this small out of the way vineyard. 

This is 100% Chenin grown biodynamically by them on raw quartz and marl soil.  Terres Blanches hand harvested and fermented the grapes in cement tanks, then bottled to finish fermenting with no sulfur added, disgorged, and then resealed.

Aroma: caramel apple.  That's the first and easiest aroma.  It's a combo of effervescent green vividness and toasty baked warmth.  I also get a whiff of creme brulee, if creme brulee wasn't sweet smelling- anyway, the caramelized sugar part at least.  It also has a delicate ginger aroma.  Maybe more ginger cookie, really, as it's not particularly spicy smelling.  It's a rich, dynamic, delicate kind of aroma that is very different from most all the Methode Champenoise wines I've had.  This is so much softer and doesn't have the aggressive edge.  The more subdued effervescence is probably partially responsible for that; it looks to only be about 2/3 to 1/2 as sparkling as Champagne.

Taste: Prickly texture and ripe golden honeycrisp apple fill your mouth at first go, as well as some of the richness of roasted spring dug parsnips (if you've never had them you've never lived).  A tiny bit of honey comes in on the mid-palate just before the bubbly dry finish comes in and closes the show down.  The Ancestral is impressively refined in how these flavours tease your palate and slowly flow into one another.  It's certainly a very interesting and unique sparkling wine, but it isn't aggressive or bombastic as it goes about it's business.  The Terres Blanches Ancestral's complexity is so effortless and undemanding that it's dangerously easy to drink.  

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I'm shocked that it's so refined and integrated.  My expirience with natural wines like this is that they're generally more lovely for their quirks and idiosyncrasies; not just flat out lovely.  Anyway, this is really bad ass natural wine.  I have polished off the entire bottle and feel fantastic, like "I should go running" fantastic.  I am going to stock pile it for myself.  Maybe I'll sell some if you're nice.  I quite look forward to meeting these people next week.

This is now available at the Freepirt Cheese and Wine shop and the Rosemont market on Brighton Ave.

Domaine Chardon Organic Wines from Touraine

Touraine is a larger catch-all kind of appellation that lacks the prestige of Sancerre or Bourgueil, but because of that you can find some great values and hidden gems if you're willing to hunt for them a bit.  I think I've found one in Domaine Chardon, an organic family winery that Laurent and I are just starting to work with.  We went on Wednesday morning to meet Sophie and Thierry.  Thierry had grown up on vineyard in Touraine and his family had made wine for generations, but his father was forced to sell the vineyard.  Thierry and Sophie lived away and Thierry became a fire fighter, but eventually they decided to move their family back to Touraine and try to buy a vineyard.  Thierry actually went to work for the new owner of his families old estate and gained experience there before moving one to their own operation.

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We walked out to the edge of their vineyard, looking out over the gently sloping plateau.  They switched over to organic agriculture fully in the late 2000's after experimenting on several plots.  The vines that were organically farmed ended up healthier, although it was more work so they made the commitment. 

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 This particular vineyard location seemed to have good drainage because of the slope, and a high amount of schist and flinty rock as well.  You can see some of it in the picture above.  The bright white thing is schist. 

We tasted through their line up in the winery starting with their focus, the Sauvignon Blanc.  The 2011 that they had just bottled was bright and vibrant, driven by it's acidity, but with a tasty and slightly salty minerality on the finish and a richer rounder texture than most Touraine.  The flavors were all cleanly expressed and had good definition, by which I mean the different tastes were all clearly delineated on my palate.  There was also a whiff of spicy aromatic herbs that added another dimension.  This will be a great refreshment this summer.

I was also excited about their Gamay.  Most people just associate Gamay with Beaujolais but it is traditional in the Loire as well.  This was a perfect red counterpart to the Sauvignon Blanc with the same bright, fun, liveliness and very fresh and clean definition.  Like if the wine was talking it would be enunciating and pronouncing each syllable very carefully. The Gamay was dominated by intensely vivid raspberries but also had a hint of pepper and a shade of something darker and a bit animally on the mid-palate.  The tannins were young and there, but not aggressive.  Gamay is uncommon in the US, but this is a great light summer red that will be great with a chill.  I'll try to import it.

I also tasted a malbec and a Cabernet Franc of theirs.  Both were good and had those same similar qualities of freshness and clean, bright definition.  It was very encouraging to be able to taste the same characteristics across their wines, making me think that Thierry has a pretty good idea of what he's doing as a wine maker and that their land has specific qualities that shine through regardless of the grape.

These are really delicious satisfying wines that can be anjoyed everyday.  I'm very excited to have these this summer.

Detours from Wine on my Loire trip

My trip to the Loire was pretty much just wine, wine, and more wine. but there were a couple detours from meeting wine makers and tasting in caves with them.  Here are some of the other wacky things I managed to get into.

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Laurent and I were driving back from Touraine and he decided to stop to show me a famous cathedral on the banks of the Vienne river.  I think it was the Cathedral of St Martin.  It was cool and all, but then we walked down to the Vienne river.  I'd been threatening to jump into the Loire, but Laurent hadn't believed me and I decided that I might not get a better opportunity during the trip than this. I don't know why, but I just had this feeling that visiting the Loire would be more real if I jumped into it. 

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Here I am considering the idea.

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In process

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and into the water. 

It really was actually pretty nice, but I didn't stay in for long.  We had more places to go and I'd accomplished my goal, or close enough, the water in the foreground is the Vienne. Technically the Loire is on the far side of the sand bar.

That night Laurent's children stayed with friends so we could go out for dinner at a little wine bar in Bourgeuil: Cafe de la Promenade. They served mostly just charcuterie and cheese for food and had a huge room off at one end of the bar stocked with wines from floor to ceiling; almost all local.  You could just go in, pick up a bottle, and bring it to the bar to be opened.  There happened to be a good selection of open older bottles on the bar that wine makers had dropped by, most weren't even labeled and just had names and vintages written on them with a grease pen. The owner just kept pouring things, we didn't know what they were but it was a lot of delicious mature Cab Franc.  We ordered and after some baked escargot (snails) I had this huge Foie Gras Hamburger.

Foie Gras Hamburger

As I was working my way through this mass of beef, mushrooms and foie I realized I'd had nothing but cured meats, cheese, and bread all day.  Oh well.  I went into the wine room and ended up selecting a Bourgueil that looked interesting.

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Laurent said it was from a producer named Pierre Breton who was in fact a very good wine maker, but who had a tendency to moon people a lot.  I was intrigued and I launched into a discussion on how funny mooning people can be and listed some of my proudest moonings.  I was all for going to visit the winery and then mooning Pierre but in the end Laurent talked me out of it.

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A big componant of the bar was the personal service from Dorothee, who was more quintessentially French than a rooster crowing the Marseillaise.  She and Laurent got talking about different local wine makers until she totally forgot the apple dessert pizza and burnt it.  See above.  It was served with flaming Calvados poured on it and still hit the spot, even slightly brulee.

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Jean Pierre Robinot Natural Wine in Jasnieres

Tuesday the 20th and we went by Jean Pierre Robinot's in Jasnieres.  I liked this place from the moment Laurent and I drove up and there were old empty bottles and an over grown computer monitor lying around out front of the wine making shed.  Robinot's looked like a real functioning farm with all the debris that goes along with it; it felt similar in a way to some of the small super passionate farms I've visited in Maine.  Jean Pierre has built a reputation as alternately an eccentric, a maniac, or a genius depending on who you talk to.  He previously owned a bistro wine bar in Paris that highlighted natural wines, but eventually sold it to buy the hills he had been eyeing for vineyards since a boy.  He sold the bistro around the end of the century when the property he wanted came up for sale, bought it as well as the surrounding woods, and set about planting from scratch.  Jean Pierre's partner Noella was on hand to show us around as Jean Pierre was off at a wine show in Italy. 

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Noella and I outside the winery

We walked back through a tiny tasting room/office/kitchen and stepped down into a long, low, semi lit cave.  Noella first pulled a sparkling Chenin that had just been disgorged a few says ago.  It was young; tight and angular, not really together yet.  That was followed by a Chenin and Pineau d'Aunis rose blend that had been in bottle a while longer and was a bit more refined, a bit more elegant.  Then we launched into their many cuvees and vintages of Chenin. 

First was a 2007 that had spent 48 months in acacia barrels.  They had not done one thing to it in those 48 months.  No sulfur, no fining, no filtration, no switching it to another barrel, they hadn't even stirred it.  After 48 months of tasting it every now and again Jean Pierre decided it should be bottled.  So it was.  That's how he works; seemingly totally on his senses and instinct by being constantly in the vineyards and tasting the wines as they age.  The wine was definitely young and angular to me, and very foreign from what I'm used to.  It was distinctly lemony, flowery as well as floury, and had a slightly spicy oxidative quality that reminded me of Vin Jaune or sherry.

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The winery office.

Second a 2009 Chenin that had spent just 12 months in barrel.  This was more focused and earthy with a hint of petrol, also almonds.  this was made to be drunk younger and I think Noella said it was called Bistrology.  She felt it would improve with some more time to rest in bottle.

The third wine changed direction.  Where the first two were made from vines Jean Pierre Robinot had planted himself, this (called Charmes) was from a 60 year old plot of Chenin Jean Pierre had purchased in Jasnieres.  This 2008 vintage Chenin was riper and rounder with a rich, long finish that made Laurent open his eyes and exhale in surprise.  The big, generous palate was a mix of baked lemon pannacota and nuts with a hint of sherry like spice.  The finish changed the tone though with a more focused chalky quality that lingered and lingered. 

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An eroded hillside at jean Pierre Robinot's showing all the Tuffeau rock  

Fourth was the Cuvee Juliette from 2006.  Juliette is the name of Jean Pierre's daughter and is the flagship cuvee; only 1-2 barrels are made and that just in excellent vintages.  This was a prettier wine with wild flowers and something reminiscent of dry cider on the nose.  This again tasted younger-like it wasn't quite integrated yet, but had intriguingly pleasurable flavors of cooked ginger and aromas of Cinnamon that were beginning to develop.  The mid palate was a bit shut down-lacking the richness and dynamism of the front and finish, making me think this could use more time.

At this point my feet were dead and vaguely painful from the cold seeping out of the stone floor and my hands were stiffening.  There was no refrigeration, of course, just the natural temperature of the cave, but I could see our breath and it felt colder than any wine cellar I had been in.  Noella explained that sometimes barrels of wine take 5-6 years to finish fermenting.  That's pretty crazy in the wine world; but the extremely cold temperature of the cellar must slow everything down.

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Laurent and Noella walking down to the cave.

Thankfully for my feet at this point we walked back out and into another room that was completely dominated by a couple upright wine tanks.  Noella cracked the spigot on one and poured us a sample of the 2011 Concerto, a Pineau d'Aunis.  I will never view Pineau d'Aunis the same and have a new found respect for it.  The musky, spicy, animaly aroma that hit my nose was an instant turn on; I'm not going into specifics, but believe me, it was a very pleasurable aroma in an intensely private and kind of dirty way.  That aroma was heady and pretty persistent; I could smell it while holding the glass at my waist, but on the palate the wine had more bright vivid young cranberry and cherry fruit.  As the wine was exposed to air and warmed the aroma turned more floral rose and violet over it's animal quality and added a hint of black olive.  This was fantastic in a totally unexpected way. 

The Concerto was followed by the 2010 Regard, another Pineau d'Aunis that had already spent some time in barrel and then been racked back to the tank.  This was markedly different from the Concerto.  It was richer, darker, and less aromatically racy; but had more developed fruit.  More concentrated midsummer strawberries, seeds and all.

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This had already been more involved than any other winery I'd experienced thus far.  We walked outside.  I thought we were done.  No! we were just walking across the road to the other cave.

First off Noella opened a lovely older sparkling Chenin & Pineau d'Aunis rose.  I think it was about 90%  Chenin and just 10% Pineau d'Aunis.  The color was extremely pale, as you'd expect, but refined and reserved.  Finely balanced and with very small bubbles and smooth effervescence.  It was a lovely floral wine that just seemed inappropriate for the cave so I took it outside into the sunny ivy surrounded entry. 

From there we tasted a series of older Chenin that were all in various stages of development and ranged from very young to starting to come together.  Then Noella pulled an older Pineau d'Aunis that she said was Jean Pierre Robinot's flagship red.  I think it was a 2006.  This was nothing like either Laurent or I expected.  It was a completely ripe, lush red with great finesse, totally integrated tannins, and fresh and vibrant fruit.  I would have placed this as a Pinot Noir if I didn't know better.  A rustic Pinot Noir, but a rustic Burgundian Pinot with serious concentration and potential.

These wines aren't for everyone.  Most weren't really ready to drink according to Noella but it seemed like they've made great progress over the past few years.  Jean Pierre Robinot's wines may not be things you can just open and drink with a light meal while hanging out with friends.  These are very demanding and complex wines that challenge your palate and require attention.  And they made me question my palate and my preferences.  I was impressed and I think the wines are worth the interest and buzz; particularly as they start to mature and Robinot gains more experience.  Regardless of whether you personally like them you have to respect Jena Pierre Robinot and Noella for their commitment and faith.  They gave up everything in Paris, planted this vineyard, built a winery, and have devoted years of their lives to making wines that still aren't really ready to drink. 

I bought some for myself personally and will try to get them into maine simply for my own satisfaction.  I really loved them and it's the least I can do in return for Jean Pierre's massive personal commitment and faith.

Terroir in Chinon II

Second stop of Monday afternoon was Bernard Baudry.  Bernard is regarded as one of the finest producers in Chinon and I was struck by the balance and purity that he achieved in his wines ranging from his 2011 Chinon rose to a 1996 single vineyard.  First we tasted a couple of his 2011 Chinons that were still aging in tank and Foudre.  For being so young Bernard Baudry's 2011 Domaine cuvee and les Granges vineyard were both very pure and enjoyable tasting.  Then we went on to the tasting room and tasted through all of Baudry's 2009s.  The Domaine and les Granges were smooth and approachable; still obviously Chinon, but with just enough polish that you could easily taste all the components.  They had bright young cherry & raspberry fruit, black pepper, integrated tannins, nice acidity; pretty much just what you'd want in a nice drink now Chinon. 

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Bernard Baudry and his son standing in front of their cave for maturing wine.

Then we started tasting the other single vineyards.  The Bernard Baudry les Grezeaux comes from a vineyard planted on gravely soil over a clay sub soil.  Like the gravel based Rouet Chinon it had more tannin and acidity.  The les Grezeaux was a more structured and complex wine even though the wine making is identical to the les Granges.  I asked Bernard's son and he said it was always this way, the Grezeaux vineyard always produced wine that was spicier and more tanninic.  They didn't seem to have a theory as to why or what the process was; it was simply enough that it had always been and always would be this way. 

talking about these radical differences in wines that are made in the same way lead me to ask how they defined terroir.  They seemed to have a stricter defenition of terroir as simply te vineyard's soil and the climate & weather of a particular vintage.  He agreed that wine making is important for preserving terroir and allowing it to speak but they seemed to simply see the wine maker as a conduit to allow the vineyard to speak.

Then we tasted another single vineyard: Clos Guillot.  This vineyard is planted on south east facing hillsides of limestone wit some clay near the top.  Again this was radically different from Bernard Baudry's other vineyards.  The Clos Guillot was a much more broad shouldered wine.  Bigger in every way and a bit more aggressive on the palate, the clos Guillot was darker and chewier than Baudry's other offerings.

Finally they pulled out a les Grezeaux from the 1996 vintage.  This was kind of a revelation to me.  It was very supple and smooth, round, balanced, and had great finesse.  The tannins were soft and very integrated with the smooth mature cherry fruit.  My first reaction was "wow, this has the balance and finesse of a 7-8 year old Pommard or other richer Burgundy"  And then I remembered that Baudry had gone to school in Beaune for 6 years and studied oenology there.  I think I'll stick by my assertion that there is a human element in terroir.

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You want terroir?!  There's terroir!  On the walls of my room!  All the buildings here are made from tuffeau, or in English white limestone.  Tuffeau is under all the vineyards here at varying depths.  How could that not effect the wines?


Terroir in Chinon I

On the first day in the Loire I hit the ground running, going straight fromt the plane to Tours and out into Chinon.  Laurent and I visited Domaine Rouet first and then Bernard Baudry. 

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Here's a picture of Laurent's awesome old Renault.  What could be more authentic to tear around touring wineries in!  Pulling up in this gave us way more credibility than a Mercedes or BMW.

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Here I am in the cellar with Jean Francois Rouet.  He's a sixth generation wine maker who farms biodynamically on about 22 acres next to the Vienne river.  Chinon has a wide range of soils ranging from sand and sedimentary soil down near the river to gravel and then tuffe rock and clay rising up to the plateau.  His 2010 Chinon was made from a blend of sandy and sedimentary vineyards and was very balanced, linear, and approachable.  Then we tasted a 09 vintage Chinon that had come from a more gravel dominated vineyard.  It was bigger, denser, had more tannin, and seemed like it needed more time to mellow out.  So of course we tried the 2005 vintage of the same wine.  The 2005 was a bit less tannic and aggressive, it had indeed mellowed out, but it was still tight seeming and had some spicy earthy qualities.  The 2005 Rouet Chinon still seemed young.  So we opened a 1989 Domaine Rouet Chinon that had been made by his mother.  The 1989, also from the gravel dominated part of their vineyard was gorgeous but still powerful.  The 89 Chinon still had dark, dense black cherry fruit and didn't taste old at all, but it was more integrated, the tannins were perfectly balanced, and it was showing more of a mocha flavor on the finish as opposed to the spicier qualities of the younger wines. 

We took that home.



Tetramythos Mavrokalavryta 2010

And now for something completely different.  And what's more different than a nearly extinct Greek red variety that comes from a mountain at the southern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula? 

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Tetramythos is a smaller, organic winery on the slopes of mount Helmos.  Mount Helmnos is a 3,000+ ft peak right on the edge of the gulf of Corinth.  Years ago they noticed some over grown bush vines at the edge of their vineyard and wondered what they were.  They started trimming and cultivating them; eventually nursed them back to health and began experimentally propagating some of the vines.  Eventually they had an enologist come and examine the vines and they turned out to be Mavrokalavryta: a local grape variety that had been presumed lost.  They kept experimenting and planting and now have about 1 acre planted, from which they produce 300ish cases per year. 

Aroma: Cherry Raspberry, raspberry jam, floral, violet,

Pallet: ripe, dark black cherry and black berry fruit.  The wine has sufficient acidity to make this dark fruit fresh seeming and it is focused.  There's not really any earth to divert your attention, but the wine has a subtle dry volcanic minerality on the finish.  The tannins are very soft and do not play a real part in the wine; surprising for how ripe and focused the fruit is. It is a very cleanly defined wine.  The acidity and light finish give the wine a clean sense of purpose that is impressive.

Though ripe and dark this wine is very focused and excellently balanced.  The developed fruit doesn't over whelm the wines structure.  This is an intriguing Greek red with great balance and the ability to pair with a lot of foods from Tuna to Pork.  This is available for $14.99 at the Rosemont Market on Munjoy Hill, Lakonia, Whole Foods, and RSVP.

Joseph Cattin Dry Riesling 2010


Joseph Cattin is a family producer in the upper Rhine region of Alsace.  Lately I've become a big fan of their dry Riesling, and let me clarify, it is in fact dry.  This comes exclusively from their estate vineyards in Voegtlinshoffen and the vines are planted at particularly high density (5500 per ha) in order to naturally limit their yields.

The aroma is intense but not so powerful you smell it from across the room.  Fresh and not too ripe Pineapple is the first thing that hits me, followed by a hint of sweet tart, some yellow peach, candied lemon, and even just a whiff of fresh hay.  It's a bright, fun aroma that almost sparkles, in an aromatic kind of way. 

The palate is one of those cool juxtapositions that I like: ripe tropical fruit grounded with intense acidity.  There's a hint of the Riesling spice there too that builds into the finish alongside the acidity.  It's smooth in texture, but not too full, kind of medium bodied.  I can taste fresh tart apple of, lets see if anyone even recognizes it, the tiger stripe variety.

This is a really good wine for pork roasts and ham.  It is a great pair that provides zest and zing to cut the fat and smoky qualities of a pork roast or the saltiness of ham.  Easter's coming!  This is available at the Scarborough Meat House, Downeast Beverage, and Aurora Provisions.

Ribeira Sacra at De Maison Selections | T. Edward Wines

Tucked away inside of eastern Galacia, in northwestern Spain, sits D.O. Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Banks), which runs along the River Miño and the River Sil.  Located between neighboring DOs Ribeiro and Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra is home to ancient vineyards of impossible steepness whose terraces were originally excavated by the Romans, 2,000 years ago.  An area that’s been “off the grid” for perhaps just as long, Ribeira Sacra produces wines that were rarely exported, until André Tamers of De Maison Selections came along.


The wines from Galicia are altering Spains whole wine culture. These are really vibrant and extremely terroir driven wines.