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Across France vignerons are coming in the middle of the traditional 100 day growing season between flowering and harvest.  Reflecting on this year’s by and large successful passage through the dangers of spring frost, we are reminded that a lot else can still go wrong, including hail, rainfall, insects, and maladies such as mildiou and oidium. Yet as we reported after our March visit, there’s a bit more bounce in the vignerons’ steps this year, since the generous and largely trouble-free 2022 vintage brought many back from views of the precipice due to catastrophically low yields in 2021.  There’s an old saying in Burgundy that a vigneron needs always to have three vintages: one in the vineyard, one in the cellar, and one in the bank.

July Futures offers a wide range of ideas for provisioning your pantry for the coming months and for building your cellar for the coming years.  As usual there’s lots of Burgundy, with both top-ranked wines from the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, and easy to drink wines of less exalted pedigrees.  We are pleased to showcase the wines of young innovators, from Gautier Desvignes in the Côte Chalonnaise, to Frederic Berne and Dupré-Goujon in the Beaujolais, to Nicolas Haeni in the hills of Provence.

From the Rhône valley we offer long-lived wines from Cornas and gorgeous Chateauneuf du Pape from one of its most accomplished producers.  From the Loire valley, there is Chenin blanc from the area near Chinon and Sauvignon blanc from Pouilly-sur-Loire. Finally, fans of Champagne can stock up on creamy, sophisticated bubbly from the Côte des Blancs.

As always, we hope to have included something for every taste and budget. If you find anything of interest, be sure to submit your orders, in case or half-case lots, by the Order Deadline of Sunday July 16. We will place orders for the wine immediately thereafter.

Dupré-Goujon / Berne

Domaine du Couvent

Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy

Philippe Chéron navigated the many shoals of the 2021 growing season as well as anyone in the Côte d’Or. His Domaine du Couvent has produced delicious and ageworthy wines of much character, and we are delighted to present them to you. 

The names Philippe Chéron and the Domaine Clos du Couvent will be new to many of you, though much of the terroir may not be.  Chéron’s family was a silent partner in Gilbert Hamel’s Domaine des Varoilles, whose wines we bought for many years. When Hamel withdrew from the enterprise a few years ago, the Chéron family acquired full ownership of many of the Varoilles properties and combined them with their existing holdings in Chambolle, Nuits St. Georges and the Clos Vougeot to create the newly named Domaine du Couvent. After tasting the wines from 2020 and 2021, Allen Meadows (“Burghound”) dubbed it “a domaine to watch.” 

One could argue that it was easy to make successful wine in 2020, where abundant ripeness and heat led to a clean (if small and atypical) harvest. Not so in 2021, and we think Cheron’s success in this most recent vintage is a marker of unusual talent. His unmarked cuverie is hidden down a back street in Nuits-St-Georges, and Cheron himself is quiet and pensive. But his wines more than speak for themselves.

The Bourgogne rouge 2021 is from the Gevrey parcels that made up the Bourgogne from the Domaine des Varoilles, and they show much Gevrey character — bigger and denser than most wines of the genre. Burghound called it a “quality effort” and found that its “distinctly earthy nose features aromas of the sauvage, red berries and a floral top note.” Jasper Morris MW thought it “very pretty with a lively finish,” finding “rose petal perfume and white pepper spice.” It will be a versatile red that you won’t have to wait long to drink.

In Chambolle-Musigny we first recommend the village level Clos de L’Orme 2021.  There is fine complexity in the nose. Burghound found “notes of dark currant, a plethora of floral elements and pretty spice wisps.” The wine should become expressive aromatically quite soon, and we think the structure and length will carry it for many years. Cheron used 50% whole clusters, and the deep silky structure melts perfectly into the background. We think this drinks closer to a premier cru than a village.

In Gevrey, Cheron owns vines in the premier cru “Champonnet” vineyard, and the 2021 has excellent intensity and depth, with a distinctly mineral line and the promise of evolution in the bottle. The nose is complex — Burghound found “notes of wild dark berries, leather and a hint of the sauvage,” and Jasper Morris found “a depth of sweet fruit,” with “cherries and raspberries with a small touch of strawberry mixed in” and awarded 90-93 points. There is excellent length here, and there should be no rush to drink this one up.

At the other end of the Côte de Nuits, Chéron also made a delicious 2021 Nuits St. Georges 1er cru from “Aux Murgers,” a vineyard near the border with Vosne-Romanée. It was vinified from 100% whole bunches, which gave it a terrific intensity and depth. The nose is inky and dark with cassis and violets, the mouth long and sleek. Morris gave 92-95 points, finding “a gorgeous, airy, floral note to the bouquet, and the little dryness at the back which will soon disappear into the sweet cherry fruit.” The vines were planted in the mid nineteen-forties, and the special intensity and length of wine from truly old vines shows through.  

Back up in Gevrey, the beautifully-situated premier cru monopole “La Romanée” had a tiny yield in 2021: only 1500 bottles from a hectare of vines. The little wine there is, however, is excellent.  It is big and dense, but at the same time offers a certain elegance. Burghound called its flavors “sleek and beautifully detailed,” finding aromas of “berries, crushed fennel and a discreet touch of wood.” Cheron told us he found this cuvée perfectly suited to the vintage, and we agree – the balance of dark fruit and chiseled structure are dynamic and enticing. We think this will improve for many years. 

Couvent’s newest Chambolle is a beautiful premier cru from “Les Feusselottes.”  Cheron told us this vineyard has always been a favorite of his, and he was thrilled to have acquired some at last. It didn’t come free – he traded a piece of his Charmes-Chambertin Grand cru to acquire it – but we can confirm his enthusiasm is well founded.  We thought it magnificent, with distinctly floral aromas of violets and briary blackberries. Burghound awarded 90-93 points, as well as his “outstanding” distinction, finding “a wafting, airy and elegant nose [that] displays perfumed notes of rose petal, herbal tea, spice and essence of red cherry.” He concluded: “This is classic Feusselottes.” A very impressive wine.

Finally, the Domaine du Couvent now has two Grand Cru red wines: the Cheron family’s long-owned vines in the Clos Vougeot, and the former Varoilles parcel in Mazoyeres, part of Charmes-Chambertin.  

The Clos Vougeot 2021 is beautifully dense, with finely detailed tannins that Burghound found to produce “excellent volume.”  He found that the wine’s “very earthy aromas include those of red pinot and dark currant along with a floral wisp.” Look for notes of gingerbread, toffee, game and earth; this is bold and impressive wine that is not for the faint of heart. Morris called it simply “a classic Clos Vougeot.”

The Charmes-Chambertin “Aux Mazoyeres” Grand Cru 2021 is just as big. Burghound called it “a lovely Charmes combining finesse and power,” and found it “very rich, even velvety.”  There’s more finesse here, but it floats above a muscular, solid core – look for notes of strawberries, plums, cassis and toast.

Burghound awarded both wines 91-94 points, and Morris awarded 92-95 to the Clos Vougeot and 93-95 to the Charmes.  Both of these are big wines that will need time in the cellar to develop their full character, but such is the nature of Grand Cru red Burgundy.  Any collector should be happy to have either of them in the cellar.

(case prices)

Bourgogne rouge 2021:   $450
Chambolle-Musigny “Clos de l’Orme” 2021:   $995

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er “Champonnet” 2021:  $995
Nuits-St-Georges 1er “Aux Murgers” 2021:  $1,095
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er “La Romanée” 2021:  $1,195
Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru “Fusselottes” 2021:   $1,295

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2021:  $2,395
Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2021:   $2,595

Domaine Bohrmann

Meursault, Burgundy

It is a paradox of Burgundy today that the warming climate has made spring frosts more of a problem than less, particularly for white wine producers.  The problem is that mild winters cajole the Chardonnay buds to break earlier, so tender shoots are near their most vulnerable when the frosts arrive.  The 2021 growing season had this problem in spades, and we were shocked to see the near-empty barrel rooms in the white-centric Côte de Beaune during our visits to taste those wines.

The consolation, if there is one, is the quality of the tiny quantity of the little wine produced. Along with the other excellent producers, Sofie Borhmann made delicious wine in the 2021 vintage.  We found two whites particularly impressive.  Typically Sofie makes three St-Aubin premier cru cuvées, but the dramatic loss (on average 85% down across her whole domaine) meant she only had enough for a single cuvée. The blend of three of St. Aubin’s best vineyards – Le Puits, En Remilly, and Murgers des Dents de Chien – is very impressive. There’s just a whisper of oak (elevage was in a single foudre), and it fits the medium weight of the vintage beautifully. As with all 2021 whites, there is plenty of freshness, but this wine is pleasantly round, with good persistence on the palate.  

Our other recommendation in white is the Puligny-Montrachet “Grands Champs,” which is once again elegant and ageworthy.  The wine has lovely concentration and richness and excellent length, the product of the vines 60 to 70 years of age. The chiseled, regal nose gives way to a beautiful, surprisingly rich mouth, with a clean and tension-filled finish. It’s a relative bargain in its category, and will provide good drinking over many years.  

The 2021 Bourgogne rouge “Entrecoeur” comes from vines in Pommard, and is another success.  The particular virtue of Entrecoeur is always a lovely nose of Pinot fruit, and those delightful strawberries make their appearance again in this vintage.  The wine’s dark color confirms its Pommard origin, and though the weight is medium there is plenty of texture. Expect this to be another versatile red, excellent with food but also pleasant for quaffing.   

(case prices)

St-Aubin 1er cru 2021:   $695
Puligny-Montrachet “Grands Champs” 2021:   $850

Bourgogne rouge 2021:   $395

Domaine Desvignes

Givry, Burgundy

When Burgundy’s leading critic singles you out as one of a “leading light” in the region, you could argue that you’d made it. But Gautier Desvignes – who in just eight short years has taken his humble family domaine from ordinary to outperforming – is not one to rest on his laurels. Each year we visit he has a new series of vineyard and cellar improvements to share and explain. In the words of Aaron Burr, “the man is non-stop.”

And it shows. The 2021 Red Burgundies have a reputation as inconsistent and tricky, but someone forgot to tell Gautier. His lineup of 2021 Givrys is outstanding top to bottom, with each cuvée perfectly balanced and crafted – ripe plummy fruit, gorgeous floral aromatics, and sleek, polished textures. They’re among the most successful wines we tasted from the vintage, including those from much fancier towns.

William Kelley credits the improvements in Gautier’s wines to the use of manure for fertilizer, a more careful oak regime, lighter filtration, and longer elevage. Wherever combination of variables is the one making the difference, the advances in quality are obvious. Gautier’s prices have yet to catch up, making his wines some of the best value red Burgundies we know. We’re thrilled to see the success of this emerging superstar, even if it means his yearly cellar dispatch to us has changed from “our price list” to “your allocation.” 

First up is the 2021 Givry village. This is open, delicious, and lovely. Gautier dialed back the extraction for this cuvée, and it perfectly matches the intensity of the fruit. The nose is red fruited with cherries and raspberries; the mouth is delicate and silky with mid-to-low tannin and an easy finish. It immediately called to mind his terrific 2017 village-level Givry, a wine known to evaporate from the dinner table with shocking ease. If accessible red Burgundy is on your shopping list, grab a case of this and cross it off.

As anticipated, last Sunday’s Givry 1er cru Grand Berge offer sold out, but Desvignes produces two other excellent premier crus from even better terroir. The Givry 1er cru Clos Charlé is seriously classy red Burgundy, and a steal at under $35/bot Futures. The nose is deep and beautiful, with wild cherries, chocolate, baking spice and cinnamon. Again the extraction is masterful – just enough armature to match the material. It’s noticeably longer than the village, but not a bit harsh, with tannins that are subtle, papery, and fine. 

The Givry 1er cru Clos du Vernoy is a monopole of the domaine, and one boasting an average vine age over 60 years. There’s more intensity and seriousness here, a result of lower yields from the old vines. The fruit is darker too – cassis and plum over toasty earth. This is more ambitious, and undoubtedly succeeds in its mission – seriously impressive and another remarkable bargain. Put this next to a $75 village-level Gevrey-Chambertin and it’d be a tough choice.

Finally the 2021 Givry blanc. Vignerons with Chardonnay vines were particularly hard hit in 2020, and Desvignes was no exception. “Thank god we’re mostly red, or the vintage would have been catastrophic,” he told us. After frosts, hail, mildew and rot, the remaining grapes from all his plots were enough to blend into a single small cuvée. Ever the upbeat farmer, Gautier named it Les Survivants (“the survivors”). The wine itself is terrific – open and expressive with an exotic notes of white flower and apples. The mouth clearly shows the premier cru vines blended in, and its pure waxy texture carries it over a long and elegant finish. We hope Gautier doesn’t have to make a “survivors” cuvée again any time soon, but it’s nice to know he can.

(case prices)

Givry rouge 2021:   $325
Givry 1er cru “Clos Charlé” 2021:   $395
Givry 1er cru “Clos du Vernoy” 2021:   $395

Givry blanc “Les Survivants” 2021:   $395

Dupré-Goujon & Berne

Beaujolais, Burgundy

The Beaujolais is an epicenter of innovative winemaking these days. Young, passionate winemakers have found the region well suited to their projects – particularly when compared with the rest of Burgundy. The land is cheaper, the rules are fewer, and the pulse more exciting. We’re delighted to have found two terrific sources here last year: Domaine Dupré Goujon and Frederic Berne. Both winemakers are fervent believers in biodynamic viticulture – their vines share the earth with a startlingly diverse array of other plants (see photo). In the cellar, their winemaking is low-intervention but carefully controlled, and the resulting wines are clean, complex, vibrant and delicious expressions of their verdant origin.

We drink Beaujolais year round – its fresh, lively texture makes it an excellent match for food. But we’ll admit it’s most perfectly suited to the fall, as an accompaniment to tailgates, sweaters, and Thanksgiving. We expect July Futures in by week three of the NFL season, just in time for autumn enjoyment.

Fred Berne made some terrific wines in 2020 and 2021, but sadly in miniscule quantities. The first of his 2022s have just been bottled, and we were quite taken with one in particular during our visit back in March. Berne is an evangelist for the Lantignié appellation, and believes it will someday become the 11th Cru Beaujolais. Whatever the status or reputation of the town, the wine Berne makes from it speaks for itself. This year we’re suggesting the 2022 Beaujolais-Lantigné “Pierre Bleue,” named for the unusual blue granite found in the earth at the site. The nose is deep and floral with cool purple fruits mixed with precise, linear minerals. The mouth is dense and fresh, middleweight and highly drinkable. We plan to serve this with abandon all fall – a fresh, smooth delicious sub-$20 red.

Our other source is Dupré-Goujon, a collaboration between Guillaume Goujon and Sebastien Dupré, just down the road from Berne in Côtes de Brouilly. Dupré has a lighter touch than Berne in the cellar, and the wines have less extraction and more finesse. This year we’re offering the latest vintage of their Démarrante, and re-offering their two wildly popular other cuvées from 2020, “631” and “Heronde.”

La Démarrante 2022 (“the starter”) is a classic, uncomplicated Gamay. Goujon described it as something you’d find in a “bar à vin,” a refreshing, juicy, Beaujolais embodying the region’s jubilant spirit. The 2021 was crisp and lively, but the 2022 has a bit more meat on the bones. It’s fruit-forward and floral with bright red plums in the nose alongside hints of chalk and spice. The mouth is smooth and easy with low tannin and a clean, refreshing finish.

“631” Côte de Brouilly 2020 is a blend of the domaine’s three terroirs, and in 2020 it is simply gorgeous – more complex than Démarrante, with a deep perfume of violets and roses, and a fruit profile somewhere between Pinot and Syrah. This wine quickly sold out from stock last year, and we managed to email Sebastien in time to reserve the rest of their stock. The mouth is sturdier and more complex than the Démarrante, with perfectly coated tannin and a dark, crackling finish. Kelley awarded 92 points, finding “Aromas of sweet berries, spices and loamy soil [in a] fleshy and lively wine framed by sweet, powdery tannins.”

“Heronde” 2020, from older vines and with a two-year elevage, has everything the La 631 has but in a more sophisticated, complex package. The nose is deeply floral, with notes of hyacinth, blackberry and wild herbal honey. The mouth is fuller and longer, with an exquisite blend of chalk, peony, plum and cassis. Kelly also gave this wine 92 points, finding it broad and enveloping, with a fleshy core of fruit, tangy acids and an expansive finish.” This is among the the finest, most polished Beaujolais we’ve ever had, and a terrific value at the price.

(case prices)

BERNE Beaujolais-Lantigné “Pierre Bleu” 2022:   $235

DUPRE-GOUJON “Démarrante” 2022:   $295
DUPRE-GOUJON “631” 2020:   $350
DUPRE-GOUJON “Heronde” 2020:   $395

Domaine Nicolas Paget

Touraine Azay-le-Rideau, Loire Valley

Nicolas Paget continues to produce excellent, dry, delicious organic Chenin Blanc from the central Loire Valley. From his small, humble domaine not far from the Loire River, Paget produces a wide range of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, all full of energy and life. This year we’re offering an old favorite, and an exciting new upgrade.

First Melodie, Paget’s simple flagship wine that’s everything you want from a dry Chenin Blanc. The 2021 is delightful, and a return to its usual clean, refreshing self. The nose shows pear and flint, with an easy, approachable profile. The mouth is crisp and very refreshing with apple and citrus fruit, and white flowers. At 13% alcohol it’s summer weight, and perfect for warm weather – think a Petit Chablis from an orchard-fruit grape.

Our newest idea from Paget is a white Chinon from 2020 – it’s also pure Chenin Blanc but from more impressive terroir and deeper soils. This nose is perfumed and beautiful, with notes of yellow apples and pear compote. The mouth is rich, smooth and very long with notes of grapefruit, honey, lime and apricot. It sees a few months in old oak barrels, which add a smoothness and spice to the lush fruit. If a Meursault were made from Chenin Blanc it might taste like this.

(case prices)

Melodie 2021:   $195
Chinon blanc 2020:   $250

Domaine Frederic Michot

Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

The many fans of Frederic Michot’s Pouilly Fumé will find much to like in the 2022 vintage.  Pouilly Fumé is not to be confused with Burgundy’s Pouilly-Fuissé. It is a delicious Loire valley Sauvignon blanc, an equally fine choice to pair with shellfish or for quaffing on the patio while your fin fish cooks on the grill. 

Most wine lovers know Sancerre, widely regarded as the global reference for Sauvignon. Good Sauvignon from Sancerre features beautiful grapefruit aromas without the grassiness that often accompanies Sauvignon from Bordeaux. Pouilly-sur-Loire is Sancerre’s next-door neighbor in the Loire valley, just a couple of kilometers up the river on the other bank. 

Frederic Michot makes two delicious cuvées of Pouilly-Fumé, both of which are strikingly well priced.  In 2022, the regular cuvée is round and generous, featuring classic Sauvignon fruit in a smooth, accessible  wrapper. The ripe fruit dominates, but though the 2022 delivers roundness, there is plenty of freshness to support the wine. 

The old vine “Cuvée Sainte Clara” offers more punch and freshness and greater length. It might be at its best with a meal, where its greater energy complements the dish.  There’s still plenty of roundness in the 2022 vintage, however, and the additional freshness yields greater definition rather than harshness. 

At just under $15 and just over $16 per bottle, these two wines offer remarkable value. You won’t go wrong with either.

(case prices)

Pouilly-Fumé 2022:   $175
Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes 2022:   $195

Domaine Pierre André

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley

Wine writer Jon Bonné’s recent book “The New French Wine” has Jacqueline André just right.  Picking the benchmark producers for each of France’s wine regions, he writes: 

Jacqueline André has quietly been upholding the extraordinary quality of her family’s domaine in a manner that legitimately earns the word “artisan.”  . . .  Jacqueline has, in a way, continued the work of her father Pierre — the first vigneron in Chateauneuf du Pape to certify in organics (in 1980), then in biodynamics a dozen years later. … The wines … are about old fashioned subtlety: whole clusters, light extraction from pumpovers, mostly concrete vats for aging, and always at least 80% grenache.

We have written often about the patch of 140 year old vines that she calls her “grandes dames,” but we should remember that the extraordinary quality of her single cuvée of Chateauneuf du Pape also comes from the inclusion of some minor grapes of the appellation and the remarkable diversity of soils on which her 18 hectares grow.  The average age is 75 years, and the vines are spread among lieu dits across the appellation. 

All of this contributes to the crafting of wine like the exceptional Chateauneuf du Pape rouge 2020.  The wine is surprisingly integrated at this early moment in its life — beautifully balanced with a silky mouthfeel and subtle aromatic complexity already. The 2020 red is not massive yet plenty rich and round. The beautiful Grenache fruit blends with darker tones and a fine mineral line to produce an extraordinary nose. This elegant wine will be a great choice for tracking across many years of evolution, beginning with its arrival in a few months. 

There is just a tiny available quantity of white Chateauneuf du Pape 2021. It’s made from Clairette and Bourboulenc, and Jacqueline blocks the malolactic, preserving purity of fruit and just enough freshness.  This is a wine of finesse, a fine example of the genre. Look for notes of pineapple, white pepper, leechee, and green tea. As always, Jacqueline has gotten the most out of the vintage.      

(case prices)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape rouge 2020:   $595
Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc 2021:   $625

Domaine Malmont

Séguret, Rhône Valley

Seguret is a postage-stamp-pretty village pasted against a hill along the eastern edge of the broad alluvial plain that is host to Chateauneuf du Pape, near Sablet, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Rasteau. The Domaine Malmont is hidden away from most of these towns’ vineyards, up in the hills behind Seguret, at the eastern boundary of the appellation. Nicolas Haeni cleared and terraced a rocky hillside there just over a decade ago, and his special vineyard is now coming into its own. 

The location offers particular advantages, capturing the same intense provençal sun as its lower neighbors, but staying far cooler with its elevation and excellent air drainage. The result is grapes with skins at full maturity, but alcohol levels of 13% and 13.5% in an area where producers struggle these days to keep the alcohol south of 15%.

We’re suggesting two fine reds today. The first Séguret, from younger vines, is called Petit Rouge.  Syrah dominates this wine (88%) with Grenache making up the balance. All the grapes are destemmed and the elevage is in tank. The wine has a crisp structure and good freshness, with the Syrah contributing floral aromas of violets and adding peppery notes to the dark ripe fruit. This wine is a great choice to accompany whatever meat comes off your autumn grill. 

The second Séguret is called “Rouge.” It has the full benefit of the vineyard’s original Grenache vines, at 60% vs 40% Syrah.  After a slow, cool maceration, the wine is raised in a vat of French oak.  This is a bigger, rounder wine with plenty of muscle but also finesse.  The Grenache’s pretty strawberry fruit is much in evidence, mingling nicely with the violet and pepper notes of the Syrah. This wine will match up well with fine lamb chops au jus, and is a good choice for drinking year-round when you want a Southern Rhône valley wine of refinement. 

(case prices)

Séguret Petit Rouge 2021:   $235
Séguret Rouge 2021:   $295

Domaine Dumien-Serrette

Cornas, Northern Rhône Valley

The miniscule appellation of Cornas (145 hectares in total) is home to fewer than 50 vignerons, each making small quantities of inky black syrah. These wines age beautifully, and given time in the cellar collect an other-worldly array of exotic notes and aromas. There’s no experience in wine quite like plunging your nose into an aged glass of Cornas.

Our primary source here is Dumien Serrette, where fifth generation winemaker Nicolas Serrette carefully farms his 1.8 hectares of old-vine Syrah. The domaine’s size belies the polish and sophistication of their wines. Their two cuvées could be named “old vines” and “older vines” — the younger of the two (Patou) boasts an 80-year-old average age; the older (Henri) is from centenarians. We have extremely limited quantities, and there’s rarely any left in our allocation after Futures –  so if there’s any interest, don’t delay.

Frost hit Cornas in 2021 for the first time in decades, the same early April strike that devastated much of the rest of France. The surviving buds produced a small but relatively healthy crop that was harvested near the end of September. The resulting wines are elegant and classic – concentrated from the spring frost losses, but without the heat and viscosity of recent scorching vintages. Elegance used to be the calling card of Northern Rhône Syrahs, and while the past few years have blurred this attribute a bit, this vintage is a return to tradition. Writing for Berry Brothers’ blog, Master of Wine Catriona Felstead writes “I cannot shout loudly enough about how much I adore this vintage. With its forward fruit, depth of flavour, balanced alcohols and beautiful freshness, this is ‘my’ kind of Rhône.”

The 2021 Cornas “Patou” is beautiful – a gorgeous floral nose of spice and dried roses wafts from the glass. The mouth is detailed and delicately structured, with the oak nicely integrated into the fine-grained tannins. We found notes of cassis, gingerbread, and violets. The combination gives an almost Burgundian feel to the wine, at once soaring and grounded in earth. You wouldn’t mistake this for Pinot, but the souls of the two would get along.

The 2021 Cornas “Henri” features everything in the Patou, only more so. The nose is deeper and more intense, with additional savory notes of game and minerals. The mouth is bold, chewy, smooth and very long. This will require, and handsomely reward, patience. There are only 2 barrels of this made in a normal year – in 2021 there was just one.

(case prices)

Cornas Patou 2021:   $525
Cornas Henri 2021:   $750


Cramant, Côtes des Blancs, Champagne

Michel Chauvet and his son are the winemakers at the Domaine Lancelot-Royer, a tiny house in Cramant in the heart of Champagne’s Côtes des Blancs. All of their wines come from grapes they grow themselves, and their vineyards are 100% Chardonnay from exclusively Grand Cru vineyards. Everything here is done by hand, from harvesting and riddling to disgorging, dosing and labeling. 

The family’s cellars (see photo) are a remarkable maze of caves carved into the moist chalk soil. Chauvet told us that whatever the temperature outside – 95° or 15°F – the conditions in the cellar remain 50° with 50% humidity. A visitor from 1922 would recognize just about every part of the Lancelot-Royer operation today.

Our favorite wine from last year was their Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut “Cuvée des Chevaliers” NV. The base of this wine (around two thirds) is from the 2018 vintage, with the rest from barrels of reserved older wines. After four years on the lees this is rich and toasty, with a lovely nose of pear, apple and buttery croissants. The mouth is crisp and delicious with plenty of richness amid the energetic freshness – look for notes of dried flowers and lemon zest.

It’s a terrific value, and drinks like a far fancier wine. Along with Jacques Robin (rich, chewy Pinot-Noir Champagnes from the Côtes des Bar) and Pascal Bardoux (smooth, complex, fruit-forward blends from Montagne de Reims), Lancelot-Royer’s precise, elegant blanc de blancs complete a trio of three unique Champagne sources in our portfolio.

We’re also excited to offer this wine in magnum this year. Because magnums age more slowly, Chauvet holds them back longer before disgorging, so the base of this wine is two years older (2016). We think this is a steal under $100 – if there’s any entertaining on your schedule this fall or winter, we can say from experience that a magnum of Champagne will liven up a room like little else.

(case prices)

Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru “Cuvée des Chevaliers” NV:   $595
Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru “Cuvée des Chevaliers” NV (6x 1.5L):   $595


We expect these wines in September/October 2023.

If you have any trouble submitting the new order form, you can always email us your order. Or give us a call with questions: 617-249-3657, or

The deadline to place orders for this issue is: SUNDAY, JULY 16.

Questions? Need advice? Call us: (617) 249-3657.

Pick-up in Massachusetts. We store our inventory at our new warehouse in Newton: 12 Hawthorn St, Newton MA 02458. Futures customers can pick up their orders here during Saturday open hours, or by appointment.

Shipping elsewhere. In most states we can arrange for shipping at an additional cost that varies by location ($3.50 per bottle to the addresses west of Chicago; $2.50 per bottle east of Chicago). If shipping interests you, let us know the state and we will figure out if it can be done.