Domaine Maurice Schoech Pinot Auxerrois Vielle Vigne 2014, Alsace
The Schoech family traces its roots in the vineyards of Ammerschwihr back to 1650; The current 11 hectare estate was established by Maurice Schoech in 1971, and is today operated by his sons, Jean-Léon and Sebastien Schoech.
Pinot Auxerrois is a somewhat fuller, less acidic version of Pinot Blanc, widely planted in Alsace, and frequently blended with Pinot Blanc. At Schoech, Pinot Auxerrois accounts for over 10% of the domaine’s production in most vintages and is the first parcel harvested each fall. The older vines, all in excess of 35 years, add structure and depth. This is a good wine to pair with soft cheese, salads, fish, and roasted poultry.
Domaine Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2015, Corbieres, France
Fontsainte Gris de Gris is always one of the first rosés to arrive every year. It’s a true reminder that spring is right around the corner, even if we are about to get walloped with snow!
Yves Laboucarié established Fontsainte in its current incarnation in 1971 – though his family’s links to winemaking in Boutenac date to the 17th century. He inherited vines, bought parcels and became a Corbières pioneer of quality – being among the first to practice carbonic maceration, harvest by hand, and age wines (using 600-litre casks). Fontsainte’s vineyards, just 95m in altitude, benefit from a pristine environment (far from industrial or urban developments) and alternating Mediterranean and oceanic influences.
The Gris de Gris is a blend of 70% Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan, 10% Cinsault. Fresh, ripe red fruit on the nose follows through on the palate. This is a vibrant and zesty rosé, with just a touch of fleshy fruit on the long finish.
Chateau Valcombe Ventoux Rouge “Les Hautes de Valcombe” 2013
About 15 years ago, Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer Paul Jeune of Domaine Monpertuis purchased this 28 hectare domaine in the heart of the Ventoux. The region has never been exactly known for producing exceptional wines, but Paul Jeune saw potential, and valued the property for the old vines & the excellent exposure of the vineyards on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux. Over the next decade he made wines of increasingly excellent quality; as he neared retirement, he trained his successors Luc and Cendrine Guénard, to whom he eventually sold the estate. 2009 was their first vintage and it was clear that they were very good students.
Both red and white grapes are grown here (Syrah, Carignan, Grenache & Cinsault and Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Bourboulenc, respectively). Vines average from 50 years old to some Carignan and Grenache that’s over 75 years old.
Harvest is exclusively by hand with strict sorting in the vineyard. The domaine is in the process of gaining organic certification.
The Ventoux rouge is full of deep, dark spicy fruit, blackberries, crushed stone, lively acidity, and straight up deliciousness.
Domaine Clos de l’Elu Anjou Rouge, Loire, 2013
Domaine de l’Elu is an old 22 hectare property taken over in 2008 by Thomas Carsin and Gregoire du Bouexic. Thomas was a consultant in Champagne and Provence when this domaine became available. He and Gregoire jumped at the chance to purchase it and put their farming and winemaking philosophies into practice. They grow eight different varieties here including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis, and Grolleau. New plantings are done via selection massale, farming is organic (transitioning to biodynamic), harvest is by hand, only wild yeast is used, and none of the wines are filtered or fined. Sulphur is avoided, and only used in tiny amounts when deemed necessary.
Most of the red wines here are whole cluster fermentations, macerations are long and the wines age in tank, barrel or amphora. This is 100% Cabernet Franc grown on slate and quartz, fermented semi-carbonic, no sulphur added. It’s ripe and bright while retaining the earthy, slightly vegetal, nervy minerality of Cab Franc.