June 30, 2017
Notes from the importer and producer: Martin Mittelbach is the sixth generation to lead this winery. It is his declared goal to use the vineyards’ enormous potential to produce unique and distinguished wines: “Following ancient traditions, we select our grapes for their agility and vitality. Quality comes before quantity. Our wines reflect our values: they impress through their expression of vineyard and grape variety rather than their alcohol of sugar content. Their finesse comes naturally from a combination of soil, climate, and traditional viticulture.”
This wine comes from up to 50 year old vines planted on sandy soil. Apples, pears, flowers and wild herbs are backed up by a lively mineral core and crisp, refreshing acidity.
La Grange de Piaugier Cotes du Rhone Blanc, 2015
Jean-Marc Autran, took over the winery from his father Marc in 1985, who had previously inherited it from his father, Alphonse. Jean-Marc acquired more vineyards and, with the assistance of his wife Sophie, developed the sale of his wines in bottle. The winery soon became too small and they extended it in 1995 to enable them to mature and store the wines in the best possible conditions. Today, Sophie and Jean-Marc cultivate 3.5 hectares within the Gigondas AOC, 12.5 hectares in the Sablet AOC and 14 hectares of Côtes du Rhône vineyards. Farming is organic.
This is a delicious little white counterpart to the Sablet rouge we’ve been loving for so long. It’s a new addition for Piaugier, and is a blend of mostly Grenache, Roussane and Viognier, fermented and aged in concrete. It’s lush and plush, but not flabby; there’s lots of vibrant acidity here! Honeysuckle and ripe, spiced pear mingle with oranges and crisp apples. It’s a delicious, full-bodied white that will go nicely with creamy dishes with a hint of sweetness, grilled veggies, and shrimp and other seafood.
Château des Sarrins 2016 Rosé, Côtes de Provence
This property is owned by Champagne producer Bruno Paillard. It’s an organic blend of mostly Cinsault along with four other grapes, from a gravity fed winery at 800 feet elevation between Marseille and Nice. It’s light and crisp (just like Bruno’s Champagne!) and red-berry fruit driven. Drink it like we drink rosé: FTW.
Paterna il Rosso 2016, Tuscany
Paterna is a 15 hectare fully functioning farm in the Tuscan hills, established in 1985 by a group of friends looking to get away from the tourist market that Tuscany had become. In addition to grapes (indigenous only), they cultivate local products like cheese, honey, salumi, etc. The farm has been organic since the beginning, but they go beyond that by working naturally in the cellars as well, with only indigenous yeast, and little to no sulfur.
Il Rosso is a blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo, fermented outdoors in cement tanks, without temperature control. This is a lively wine, with lots of cherry, red fruit, and zesty, food friendly acidity, but also an iron-like streak of minerality and rustic tannins that make it perfect for your outdoor table full of cured meats, cheeses, olives and paisans.
June 16, 2017
Val de Mer is Patrick Piuze’s second winery, co-owned with François Moutard, of Champagne Moutard. Patrick Piuze made wine in Chablis for more than a decade for producers such as Olivier Leflaive, Verget, and Jean‐Marc Brocard; in 2008 he started his own label. Demand for his wine was great, especially in the US, but Patrick was not interested in increasing production. He had an idea of doing another small project of the same quality just for the US market, but he didn’t have the capital to make this happen. Then in 2010 François Moutard purchased a few hectares of vineyards in Tonnerre, a village about 20 minutes outside of Chablis. François asked Patrick to help manage the vineyards and make the wine, and out of this partnership, Val de Mer was created. Farming here is the same, essentially organic, though not certified, and the winemaking is very similar at both properties: hand-harvesting, spontaneous fermentation, and élèvage in used barrels for 1er Cru and Grand Cru, and tanks for entry-level. Some of you are probably familiar with the non-dosage Cremant, which we’ve been loving since last fall… But now for the bad news: Val de Mer was hit hard by hail last year, and the future of the property is not certain. We’ve purchased what’s available to us, but there’s no guarantee of procuring the wine in the future. This is what divides the small farmer from the factory producer, and why we’ll continue to support the little guy every chance we get; when mother nature comes stomping through their vineyards, these producers can’t call on their investors and lab managers to make it right, they live and die by that year’s harvest, and sometimes they can’t recover. And every year, the wild weather and hail just seems to get worse and worse. Anyway, enjoy this wine (and the sparkling) while you can, and remember that these winemakers aren’t trying to build empires, they’re just doing what they love and sharing what they love with us.
AOC Petit Chablis forms one of the rings of the Chablis area, with soils dating from the Tithonian age (152-145 million years ago), a little more recent than those of the other appellations in the region. The soil is usually hard, brown limestone, and sometimes silty or sandy. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, and typically tangy and evocative of the sea, even though the AOC is inland. Flowers, flint and citrus on the nose are coupled with a little bit of fatness on the palate that’s balanced by refreshing acidity. This is a perfect seafood wine: sushi, sashimi, shrimp, lobster, oysters…it’s a lovely little white.
Marc Pesnot (Domaine de la Sénéchalière) “Miss Terre” Melon de Bourgogne 2015
Marc Pesnot organically farms 13 hectares of fifty-plus year old Melon de Bourgogne vines near the city of Nantes, on the western edge of the Loire, in the Muscadet appellation. His old vines thrive in schist rich soils, adding depth and character to his wines.
Miss Terre is from vines that are 50 to 80 years old. This wine is set apart from Pesnot’s other melon de bourgogne, La Boheme, because it undergoes malolactic fermentation, which adds a touch of softness to this minerally wine, as well as depth and substance. There’s still lots of lively acidity, along with savory notes and pithy fruit on the finish.
Gauthier (Domaine de Bel Air) Bourgueil “Jour de Soif” 2015
Catherine and Pierre Gauthier have been making wine on their 18 hectare property in the heart of Bourgueil since 1979. They’ve been certified organic since 2000, and in 2005 their son Rodolphe officially joined the domaine, ensuring their lineage for at least the next generation. They were friends with famed and too-soon-departed Didier Dagueneau, who recommended these “masters of cab franc” to a US importer. Work in the vineyard and the cellar is all by hand and meticulous. Their cellar was in fact carved directly out of one of their vineyards, providing it with natural temperature control. All fermentation is with native yeast.
Jour de Soif is meant for early consumption. It’s soft, dark fruit, refreshing acidity, pretty violets and subtle foliage notes. Put a little chill on it and enjoy.
Triennes, Provençal Rouge “St. Auguste” 2013
Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac, and Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, are the partners behind this 46 hectare property established in 1989 in Provence. Just a little bit of name recognition there….this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot from organically farmed vines grown on clay and limestone. It’s fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 12 months in french barrels seasoned at Domaine Dujac. It’s lightly fined, and unfiltered.
This wine is pretty delicious. Lots of raspberry, blackberry, with a touch of black licorice and fresh black tea leaves. It’s got body, depth and fine tannins. This is your cozy wine for cool nights, but it would also be lovely with sunny southern french fare, like a big bowl of bouillabaisse.
We feel pretty special that Hank will be in the shop sharing his La Clarine Farm wines with all of us; definitely don’t miss this! Thursday, June 22nd, 4:30-6:30PM.
This is always one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, and it’s also one of the most fun. This Friday will be extra-special (and extra fun!) since we’ll have the guys from Farmer Willie’s with us, followed by a French wine tasting with Leigh of Wine Traditions. Our Saturday beer tasting will feature a visit from CT’s Thimble Island Brewing Co. Swing on by, grab some sips. And happy graduation, happy long weekend!
FRIDAY 3-5PM: FARMER WILLIE’S Alcoholic Ginger Beer
FRIDAY 5-8PM WINE TRADITIONS with Leigh Ranucci
SATURDAY 3-6PM: THIMBLE ISLAND BREWING
May 19, 2017
Domaine Philemon Perlé Gaillac Blanc
Perlé Gaillac Blanc is all fresh deliciousness. It’s 60% Loin de L’oeil, 20% Muscadelle and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The property in southwest France has been in the Vieules family for over 200 years; today Mathieu Vieules grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportion.
This wine is the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to warm-weather food: it’s lively, citrusy, ever-so-slightly spritzy, and balanced out by a bit of garden herbs and green apple. And it’s well under 15 bucks.
AJ Adam Riesling Trocken 2015, Mosel
Here’s a good telling of the Andreas Adam story. And here are more notes from the importer (clearly we’re too hot for writing): This Estate Trocken (Gutsriesling) is entirely from Dhron. Like a good Bourgogne Blanc it’s sourced from several top vineyards to make a wine that speaks to the vintage, region and style of the producer. The fruit harvested was very clean and at about 79 oechsle, similar to his Hofberg Kabinett. Fermented with spontaneous yeast in stainless steel and a bit of old fuder, the fermentation stopped at 7 grams of RS, “where it finds it’s balance”.
Champagne Moutard Brut Grand Cuvée NV
The Moutard family has been farming in Buxeuil, in the Côte des Bar since 1642, and has been making wine since 1927. In addition to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, they also grow heirloom varieties Petit Meslier and Arbanne on their 20 hectares of vines. Grand Cuvée is 100% Pinot Noir, and like all the champagne produced at Moutard, it spends a minimum of 3 years on the lees. It’s a rich, ripe, and approachable style, with nuts and brioche on the nose, and a creamy texture. At under $40, it’s very affordable farmer fizz.
Étienne Courtois L’Icaunais 2013, Loire
Notes from the importer: Claude Courtois has created a small farm which exempliﬁes what biodynamic is in terms of biodiversity and self-sufficiency, although he does not consider himself to be a biodynamic grower. He farms a balanced & completely chemical free 13-hectares of vines in the heart of the VDP Sologne. Courtois also grows organic wheat, which he feeds to his cows. “Nothing comes into my vineyard,” he says, meaning no chemicals ever. He has created a well-balanced, bio-diversity with trees, fruit trees, vines, woods, and ﬁelds. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic chemicals of any kind are allowed on the vines or in the soil of the vineyards. He has his own methods for promoting the diverse life of the soil. The grapes—Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Côt (Malbec), Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc & Pineau d’ Aunis—are harvested by hand and only indigenous yeasts are used during fermentation. Claude regards the soil on his farm as a living organism. He lives in harmony with nature and the wines he crafts are a pure and vibrant testament to outstanding Biodynamic winemaking.
Claude, who is growing older, has started to pass off the winemaking to his son Etienne, who is already showing immense promise…read more.
May 12, 2017
Tonight Peter Buckley of Vineyard Road is in the shop with two French producers. We’ll taste a couple wines from Gilles Bonnefoy in Cotes de Forez, and another two from Domaine Leliévre in Lorraine.
Gilles Bonnefoy’s Les Vin de la Madone is situated so far on the Loire River that it’s actually closer to Beaujolais. Côtes du Forez is located on a geological fault formed in the Tertiary Period when Africa pushed into Europe and formed the Alps. There are up to 105 volcanoes in the greater area of AOC Volcanique Du Massif Central; thirty of them are in Côtes du Forez, and Gilles’ vineyards (in both Cotes du Forez and Urfé) are situated around two of them. So volcanic soil plays a big role here. Gilles has been tending vines here since 1997. He biodynamically farms 8 hectares in the village of Champdieu. Seventy-five percent of his vines are planted on volcanic soils of Urfé, the rest are on clay and granite.
Domaine Lelièvre is located in Cotes de Toul, Lorraine. The Lelièvre family goes back generations here, to the time when Romans first planted vines. At one time Cotes de Toul, situated just 60 miles south of the German border, was a thriving wine-production region, covering parts of Alsace and Lorraine. It was famous for Riesling (this makes sense, as it’s located on the western banks of Moselle River–follow it north and you’re in Mosel, Germany) and as a source of base wine for Champagne. Unfortunately the region was ravaged by phylloxera, war, rabid industrialization and poor vineyard management. During the First World War the German occupation, and subsequent liberation by the Allies, left most of the vineyards as battle trenches. The final blow came in 1919, when a law was passed restricting the name champagne to the wines made from grapes grown in the region of Champagne. By 1951 there were only 30 hectares of vineyards left and most of the wine was bottled by negotiants. In 1998, a handful of remaining vignerons fought for and won AOC status. The Lelièvres were one of the producers to champion the region. After the famous 1971 vintage, Jean Lelièvre decided to no longer sell to negotiants and to bottle everything at the estate. From there the family started to rebuild, replant and recapture the glory of Lorraine. It is still an obscure little region, with most of the wine staying within the area, and very little of it leaving France. Lelièvre makes about 1100 cases annually, and they’re one of the most well known producers in the area.
The wines, not necessarily in order:
Madone Sauvignon Gris et Blanc de Madone, VdP Urfé, 2014
60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sauvignon Gris, this is an elegant, clean, mineral-driven beauty. Delicate, rocky, with echoes of Sancerre and Aligoté. Think seafood and summer, should we ever see the sun.
Gamay de Bouze and Gamay Noir de Madone, Gamays sur Volcan VdP Urfé, 2014
A blend of two varieties of teinturier (red-fleshed) Gamay, this is a vibrant wine full of cherries, bright acidity, barely-there tannins, and a touch of dried herbs. Sauçissons, roast chicken, fresh and grilled veggies…
Domaine Lelièvre Gris de Toul Rosé, 2015
A blend of 90% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir from the producers best plots located in Lucey, Bruley, Blénod les Toul and Buligny. The well-drained clayey slopes are protected from the wet winds coming from the West. Grapes were hand-harvested and vinified separately in stainless steel, matured briefly on the lees, and then assembled just before bottling. This wine is salty, tart, tangy, bright; pink grapefruit up front and a dash of cherry on the finish. Delicious. It might be a little too delicate to handle spicy food, but it’s game for just about anything else. Just fill a glass!
Domaine Lelievre, Sparkling Gamay Rosé Leucquois
Come on, it’s fizzy Gamay with a bunny on the label. Fun, crushable, puts a little hop in your step in the midst of grey days. Glug-glug!
May 5th, 2017
We’ll have Elena Brugnera of Perlage Organic Winery in the shop. Perlage is one of the first Italian organic sparkling wineries; the Nardi family produces Prosecco Valdobbiadene here using both tradition and innovation. We’ll have just the Prosecco Sgajo for sale, but we’ll taste a couple others that will be available for pre-order. Joining Elena will be Justin DeWalt of Chartrand Imports, representing our friends John & Nicole Bojanowski, and their beautiful wines from Minervois.
The Perlage winery is located in the town of Farra di Soligo in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area, home to the famous Prosecco region, in northeastern Italy. The vineyard property has been in the Nardi family for more than a century, when Giordano Nardi established an “Azienda Agricola” of vineyards, arable land and cattle breeding. It was in 1981, however, when the 7 Nardi brothers, encouraged and assisted by their parents, Tiziano and Afra, began converting the property to organic agriculture, and then in 2005 began implementing biodynamic practices. Ivo Nardi, the president and CEO, is a graduate in Agricultural Science from the University of Florence, and Claudio Nardi vineyard manager, received his diploma is technical design with specialized course work. Perlage’s organic cultivation is controlled and certified by CODEX S.R.L. In addition to growing their own 20 hectare vineyards (abut 50 acres) the winery also purchases grapes from other certified organic vineyards. Chartrand currently imports 7 Perlage wines and will soon begin importing the first No Sulfite Added prosecco, Animae!
In addition to the Sgajo Prosecco Spumante DOC Treviso (vegan), we’ll have a couple other Perlage wines available to taste and for pre-order, with a special tasting discount.
Justin DeWalt will also be in the shop representing Clos du Gravillas. Here’s Chartrand’s notes on the winery:
In 1996 John and Nicole Bojanowski, a young Franco-American couple, purchased Clos de Gravillas in the Minervois region of southwestern France and embarked upon a journey of making wine to best reflect the terroir of limestone gravel of their vineyards where grapes have been grown for hundreds of years.
Perched on a plateau at an elevation of almost 1000′, this 15-acre winery lies between the St. Chinian and Minerve canyons in the Parc Naturel of the Haut Languedoc just south of the Black Mountains. This location provides cool evening winds that let the grapes better retain their acidity and the hot summer temperatures assure the development of the necessary alcohol to balance acidity. This element of their terroir helps the grapes develop maximum depth of flavor.
The estate’s oldest vines are carignan, dating to 1911 and 1970 and a small parcel of grenache gris. In 1996 they planted syrah, cabernet, and mourvedre, with the first harvest taking place in 2006.
We’ll taste “a Fleur de Peau“, a skin contact Muscat (the name refers to a French expression indicating someone who wears their expressions on their sleeve) of which only 83 cases were made, and “Rendez-vous Sur la Lune” Rouge, a blend of equal parts Carignan and Syrah, with a balance of 10% Grenache. 583 cases produced.
April 14, 2017
The beautiful weather has got us a little distracted, so we’re still deciding on which wines to taste tonight. Except we do know that we’re opening up Château la Colombière “Le Grand B” Bouysselet. Philippe and Diane Cauvin work this family-owned property in Fronton organically (certified), and ferment with wild yeast, and little to no sulfur. We love their Negrette (maybe we’ll open that too) which is soft and approachable, with lots of dark fruit and depth. Bouysselet is pretty much on no ones radar. Philippe and Diane were researching the history of winegrowing in their appellation when they stumbled across this grape they didn’t even know existed. They found two 200-year old vines on their property, and through Selection Massale and grafting, have slowly turned those two vines into one acre. So this wine is from the only acre of these vines known to exist in the world. That’s pretty special. The wine itself is lush and tropical, with beautiful acidity, and a finish that hangs around and makes your mouth water for more food and wine. It’s a great pair for seafood and shellfish. Definitely stop in to try some if you can.
In addition the Colombiere, we got some other new wines from MFW, and Dressner is arriving today, more rosés are rolling in…so we have many delicious choices for tonight’s tasting. But we’re keeping you in suspense!
March 24, 2017
Klaus Peter and Julia Keller’s dry Rieslings are considered by many to be amongst the greatest expressions of the grape; Jancis Robinson calls them the “Montrachets of Germany”. But they don’t make just high end, hard to find wines; they also make entry-level wines that are just as meticulously made, but won’t break the bank – like this one. The organically farmed vineyards on the slopes of the Rhine River have been in the Keller family since 1789. The soil on these rolling hills is limestone rich, adding mineral intensity, vibrant aromatics, and gem-like purity. Gruner Silvaner is what they call Silvaner here (literally “Green Silvaner”, and not the same grape as Austria’s Gruner Veltliner). Silvaner is the offspring of Savagnin, a grape mostly known for vin jaune in the Jura, and Traminer, aka Savagnin Blanc (a relative of Gewurtztraminer).
This 2015 Silvaner is beautifully balanced and bursting with flowers, peaches, and stony mineral freshness. It will pair perfectly with spring, should it arrive.
Swick Rosé of Pinot Noir Pétillant Naturel 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon
This is Rhode Island, Joe Swick’s home away from home, so we probably don’t need to tell you the Swick story. But if you want it, here’s the short version.
In any event, we are really happy to snag some of this Pét-Nat rosé. We tasted the barrel sample with Joe back in October, and loved it then for its juicy, grapefruity fabulousness. This is day-drinking fizzy, and it would be a go-to summer bottle, but alas, there will be none left. Only 33 cases were produced, so get it now or don’t get it at all.
It’s from grapes that are hand-harvested, then pressed as whole bunches. Indigenous yeast fermentation is for 3 weeks in 6-year old barrels. The wine was bottled with a small amount of residual sugar, and finished fermenting in the bottle with no filtration and no sulfur added. It was then hand-disgorged, recapped, and sent out into the world.
Domaine La Réméjeanne “Les Chèvrefeuilles” Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2014
François Klein established Domaine La Réméjeanne in 1960 on 5 hectares near the town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze in the Gard. It’s now operated by his son Remi, and grandson Olivier. Remi diversified the property with olive groves and fig trees, and worked over the years to convert the domaine to organic farming; it’s now 38 hectares and has been certified organic since 2010.
Les Chèvrefeuilles is 70% Syrah, 10% Grenache and Mourvedre, 5% old-vine Carignan, and 5% Marselan (a cross of cabernet sauvignon and grenache noir). This wine is soft and fruity up front with blackberries, a touch of plums, and hints of chocolate and mint. Tannins are fine-grained, and the finish is long and pleasant. Pair it with poultry, grilled meat, roasted vegetables; the fresh and fruity character can handle a bit of spice and umami too.
Domaine de la Noblaie “Les Temps des Cerises” Chinon 2014
This property, 24 hectares situated at one of the highest points in Chinon, dates back to the 15th or 16th century. The domaine now houses four generations of the same family; Jérome Billard is the current winemaker. He earned his chops as an intern at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, and Dominus in California. He returned to Chinon and the family domaine in 2003; in 2005 the property was certified organic.
Aside from the high slopes upon which it is situated, Noblaie also sits upon soils of limestone, clay and chalk. All harvests are carried out by hand, and by the same crew year after year. The wines here are fermented and aged in stainless steel, some in barrel, and some in chalk vats carved out of the earth. That’s pretty darned cool.
Les Temps des Cerises (Cherry time!) is from vines averaging 30 years old, grown on tuffeau. Wild yeast fermentation, 8 months in tank, no sulfur during production, little to none added at bottling. This is pure Loire Cab Franc, with all the telltale traits you know and love: medium-bodied, with a little bit of raspberry, a touch of lead pencil, a dash of brambly forrest floor, and sure, cherries too.