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There’s always something. January Futures rolled out under the threat of 100% tariffs from our trade-warrior-in-chief, but about the time the wines were ready to sail he backed off the increase (at least for now). It looked to be clear sailing for March Futures, yet as we offer them our French friends’ world has been overturned by a virus. Vignerons are used to dealing with maladies of the vine, which can seem to appear out of nowhere throughout the growing season. But this year, before the buds are even swelling, wine expositions have been cancelled all across Europe, from Burgundy’s Grands Jours de Bourgogne to Germany’s Prowein to Italy’s Vinitaly; and we have had to put off our own Spring pilgrimage to the vines and cellars of our favorite producers. Of course in the context of a contagion, it is hard to complain about the cancellation of events that bring hundreds of people together from all over the world to gurgle and spit in the same rooms; and we’ll continue to find a way to taste the wines for you. Vignerons have been actively adjusting to our warming climate for many years now, and one way or another we can do the same with this disruption. Who was it who coined the ancient curse “May you live in interesting times”?

Pandemics aside, there should be much of interest in March Futures — we expect them to proceed with the same excellent pricing and 8-10 week transit as usual. We continue to roll out the presentation of the eminently drinkable 2017 Burgundies, and to assure a sufficiency of red there is an Encores selection of wines with time in the bottle that are drinking particularly well right now. To help you prepare for warmer weather, we have suggestions from Alsace and Sancerre, as well as four sparkling wines from Burgundy. For those whose thoughts in the Spring turn to steaks on the grill, there’s a left-bank gem from Bordeaux. And now that dry rosé has become a staple of summer, we’re offering a trio, each with its own charms. Finally, we’ll help make sure you’re ready for the end of the meal at your upcoming dinner parties with Sauternes and a late harvest dessert wine from the Alsace.

We earnestly hope you will find something to your taste in our list. If anything is of interest, don’t forget to place your orders in case or half-case lots by the Order Deadline of March 22, 2020. We’ll be moving expeditiously to stay ahead of the next disruption on the trade front.


Prunier (White/Red Burgundy)
Collet (Chablis)
Picamelot (Crémant)
Encores (Red Burgundy)
Mersiol (Alsace)
Garenne (Sancerre)
Ramafort (Bordeaux)
Voigny (Sauternes)
Rosés (Loire/Rhône)

Domaine Michel Prunier

Auxey-Duresses, Burgundy

Michel and Estelle Prunier are father and daughter winemakers in Auxey-Duresses. Jasper Morris MW lists them in the top three producers in the village. They’re a friendly, old-school Burgundy domaine producing more than a dozen cuvées from a handful of appellations. Their low-ceilinged tasting room (neither father nor daughter is much above 5 feet tall) is cozy and decorated with awards and favorite bottles they’ve opened from around the world. The Pruniers make humble, delicious wines of both colors — particularly in 2017, they’re punchy, approachable, and immediately enjoyable.

Prunier’s Auxey-Duresses blanc has been a favorite of readers for years, and we found the 2017 particularly delicious. The nose is gorgeous, showing white flowers and white pepper, with baked lemon beneath. The mouthfeel is round and full, with a long finish full of apple pie and crème brûlée. The Pruniers use only 10% new oak on this wine — all of its depth and texture come from perfectly mature grapes. This is white Burgundy that will require no patience. Cover the label and your guests will think of Santenay or Meursault.

Prunier also produces several reds from their home town, and this year we were taken with their 2017 Auxey Duresses Premier Cru. It’s been years since we’ve imported this wine, but in this vintage it was too good to pass up. The nose is intense and dark, with woodsy, briary notes and lots of depth. The mouth is long and full of cherries, and baked spices. Estelle used 50% whole clusters this year to retain freshness, and the result is a wine with excellent definition. This should age beautifully for 3-5 years, but in a carafe should be a delicious and juicy young Pinot Noir today.

The Pruniers also make a Beaune 1er cru from the Sizies vineyard. It’s a distilled, intense, muscular wine that always requires time. Having spent 18 months in 30% new barrels, this wine shows red fruits rather than purple, and a chiseled beam of minerality. We found notes of rose petals, licorice, bright earth and stones. This is a wine for the back of the cellar — pull it out in three years and drink over the following five.

Finally, our favorite wine from Prunier: their Volnay 1er cru “Caillerets.” Most consider “Caillerets” to be Volnay’s finest vineyard, and one whiff from Prunier’s 2017 explains why. The nose is rich and enticing, showing violets, dark chocolate and raspberries. The mouth is balanced, silky, and very long. Alongside a smooth, chalky minerality, look for notes of cassis and forest floor, with a silky, velvet mouthfeel that’s long, and very fine. This isn’t everyday wine, but in the glass it’s distilled elegance.

(case prices)

Auxey-Duresses blanc 2017:   $495

Auxey-Duresses 1er cru rouge 2017:   $495
Beaune 1er cru “Sizies” 2017:   $695
Volnay 1er cru “Caillerets” 2017: $950

Domaine Jean Collet

Chablis, Burgundy

Chablis has long been a place whose wines greatly exceed popular expectations for quality, but this has become more so as a warming climate allows the region to produce white Burgundies that give the best of the Côte d’Or a run for their money. At the Domaine Jean Collet, as Romain Collet has taken the reins at the family domaine, the wines have gone from strength to strength.

We will be offering the domaine’s 2018s later this year, but as we announced in last week’s email concerning the premier cru Montée de Tonnerre, we have managed to secure a small additional allocation of the delicious 2017s for inclusion in this Futures offering.

“Vaillons” is from the family’s large holding in that vineyard. Under Romain, the wine is vinified in thirds — ⅓ small oak barrels, ⅓ foudres, and ⅓ stainless steel vats. It’s a great recipe. The wine boasts nice freshness and a lovely mouthfeel. Burghound found some exotic fruits with the usual citrus: pineapple, dried apricot, lychee nut and melon. William Kelley praised it as a “charming wine that’s giving and expressive but balanced by lively acids.” As he also said, “It’s already drinking well.” Every time we opened this wine at the warehouse it flew out the door — so much so that we’re entirely épuisé. We invite you to join us as we restock.

The family’s other large premier cru holding is in Montmains. Here Romain has stayed with a more traditional Chablis elevage: 100% in stainless steel cuve. We thought wine was lovely: plenty smooth and rich with very good length and a pleasant finish. William Kelley liked it even better, calling it “a high point in the range, unfurling in the glass with notes of crisp green apple, pear, peach, beeswax and oyster shell.”

The pricing on these wines made us double check our math – it’s hard to imagine better values in Burgundy today. In short, you won’t go wrong with either of these exceptional wines.

(case prices)

Chablis 1er cru “Vaillons” 2017:   $325
Chablis 1er cru “Montmains” 2017:   $325

Maison Picamelot

Rully, Burgundy

Sparkling wine belongs in everyone’s cellar. It is ageworthy and versatile, and pairs well with a remarkable variety of foods. Champagne is the ultimate celebratory drink, of course, but fine sparkling wines are made throughout France, and very much deserve your attention. Good Crémant de Bourgogne in particular offers an attractive relationship between price and quality. Our source for that is in the Côte Chalonnaise: Rully’s Maison Louis Picamelot.

Philippe Chautard, the grandson of the founder, has taken the enterprise to a new level, transforming an old quarry on the edge of the town to a large underground cellar. This lets him give his crémants the time in the bottle he feels they need to develop their full complexity. He offers a wide range of cuvées, from which we suggest four.

Picamelot’s Brut “Les Terroirs” is the regular cuvée. It is a blend similar to most Champagnes, including both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. To reflect faithfully the terroirs of Burgundy, Chautard chooses Aligoté for the third grape. The result is a smooth and drinkable glass of wine, with the fine bubbles that come from raising the wine by the traditional méthode champenoise. Whenever you’re not quite sure what to pair with a dish, crémant is a good choice. We also much enjoy it as a sparkling kir — an apéritif with Crème de Cassis mixed in.

If you like something with notes of fresh strawberry, consider the Crémant Rosé, which comes from 100% Pinot Noir left briefly on the skins. This wine will be a bit more precise than “Les Terroirs,” and a nice match for shellfish, particularly salmon or tuna sushi. Our third suggestion, “Les Reipes,” is made from 100% Chardonnay. It offers an attractive creamy roundness and a touch of bread dough in the nose. It’s equally at home as an apéritif or with food.

Finally, for a wine that rivals first-rate Champagne, consider the flagship Cuvée Jean-Baptiste Chautard. Chardonnay dominates this blend as well, but a third of the base wine is vinified in barrels, adding complexity. A four-year élevage contributes brioche notes and more sophistication. The wine has received much critical acclaim, and tasted blind could easily be mistaken for a fine vintage Champagne.

We’re excited to offer two of these cuvées – the Terroirs and the JB Chatuard – in magnums as well. Both look magnificent on your dinner table, and will wow your guests. And with the first under $40/magnum and the second under $60/magnum, you’ll have budget left for the rest of the meal.

(case prices)

Crémant Brut “Terroirs” NV:   $195
Crémant Rosé NV:  $195
Crémant Blanc de Blancs “Reipes” NV:  $265
Crémant JB Chautard 2013:  $325

Crémant Brut “Terroirs” NV (6x 1.5L):   $225
Crémant JB Chautard 2013 (6x 1.5L):   $350

Encores: Gros, Amiot

Côte de Nuits, Burgundy

As global demand increases, “Vieux Millesimes” are in shorter and shorter supply in Burgundy. Here are four gems that won’t be available much longer.

We begin with Michel Gros’s 2017 Bourgogne rouge. This has to be one of the best Bourgogne-level wines out there. It shows Michel’s signature sleek style, combining dark, briary fruit with smooth tannins and a toasty finish. We were surprised and delighted to find this still available — a healthy 2017 crop makes this the first time in many years we’ve been able to buy it twice. At under $25/bot futures, this is as good a buy as you’ll find in Burgundy. Quantities limited.

The final three wines are from the 2014 vintage. Forever in the shadow of the famous 2015 vintage, the 2014 red Burgundies we’ve opened recently have been simply delicious. Vinous’s Steven Tanzer calls it “a delicious midweight vintage with alluring fruit, juicy supporting acidity, expressive terroir character, supple tannins and considerable early appeal. Best of all, the wines display an attractive natural balance and elegance.”

First, Michel Gros’s 2014 Nuits-St-Georges. Drawn from plots very near the Vosne-Romanée border, this cuvée always shows more elegance than a typical Nuits. This is dark, classic red Burgundy full of sophistication and class. The Wine Spectator awarded 93 points, writing: “A powerful yet smooth red boasting black cherry, black currant, violet and mineral flavors, this is vibrant and focused, with a long aftertaste of stone and spice.” They predicted a drinking window of 2020-2032.

The other two 2014s are Morey-St-Denis premier crus from Jean-Louis Amiot. First, the 2014 Morey St. Denis 1er cru “Aux Charmes” is, as the name suggests, charming. A smoky and sauvage nose precedes a silky mouth full of raspberry and minerals. Burghound found “good freshness,” and called it “wonderfully textured, even seductive” with a “caressing mouthfeel.” We think it is showing beautifully today.

Amiot’s 2014 Morey-St-Denis 1er cru “Millandes” is both more serious and more impressive. From old vines in a vineyard across the road from Clos de la Roche, this is a masculine, tightly wound red Burgundy that always needs more time than Amiot’s other premier crus. With five years already under its belt this has begun to melt together beautifully; but we think it will continue to improve for another 3-5. Burghound awarded 90 points, finding “power and vibrancy,” writing “approachable after only 4 to 5 years but reward at least a decade of cellaring.”

(case prices)

Michel Gros Bourgogne 2017:   $295
Michel Gros Nuits-St-Georges 2014:   $695

Amiot Morey-St-Denis 1er cru “Aux Charmes” 2014:   $795
Amiot Morey-St-Denis 1er cru “Les Millandes” 2014:  $795

Domaine Mersiol

Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace

The Alsace continues to be a source for excellent value in France, and a region at the leading edge of natural-minded winemaking. This issue we visit the Domaine Mersiol, a small domaine using organic viticulture to tend their vines sprouting from granite-laden slopes.

Auxerrois from the Domaine Mersiol is a longtime favorite as a summertime sipper. It’s a similar grape to Pinot Blanc — indeed is often blended with it — but we think the flavor profile is more interesting. There’s a bit of peach in addition to the citrus fruit, and a touch of lemon peel. It’s not a wine to lay down, but rather a pleasant and versatile match for warmer weather. Whether your end of the day wind-down takes place on a backyard patio, a roof deck, or a beach, the 2018 Auxerrois should provide some pleasant moments.

The Frankstein vineyard delivers striking proof of the power of terroir. It sits on hard granite and it lies in a sort of rain shadow made by crenellations in the edge of the Vosges plateau above and to the west. The granite delivers a stony, mineral precision to grapes grown there, and the drier climate enhances the intensity and the body of the wine. The result is a distinctive glass, with plenty of elements and a satisfying presence. The dry 2016 Frankstein Riesling has had a wonderful run with our clients, and we’re pleased to report that the 2017 is a worthy successor. Though it’s a tad riper, the beautiful dry clarity of the fruit and minerals rings through this wine as well, and we dare to hope it will develop as gracefully as the 2016. So compelling has the Frankstein Riesling been that if you’re a fan we suggest you try the Frankstein Pinot Gris as well. The 2018 Pinot Gris is not dry like the Riesling — in fact it’s in the middle between dry and sweet — but its underlying acidity gives it a ringing clarity that is delightful. The fruit here is orchard fruit (peach or apricots, or maybe something more exotic like lychee), ripe and spicy; and the finish is plenty long. An Asian dish with some heat would be a fine match.

For dessert, consider the Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardive 2016. This late-harvested wine is genuinely sweet, with exotic ripe fruit and the grape’s distinctive nose of spice. It’s concentrated and rich, but good acidity supports it so it’s not a bit cloying. Look for notes of mango, roses, spice, ginger and peach. Whether you choose this or the Sauternes described later in these notes, it is always nice to have some dessert wine on hand for when the occasion calls for it.

(case prices)

Auxerrois 2018:   $185
Riesling Grand Cru Fransktein 2017:   $325
Pinot Gris Grand Cru Frankstein 2017:   $325
Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2017:  $495

Domaine de la Garenne

Sancerre, Loire Valley

Sancerre produces the world’s quintessential Sauvignon blanc: grapefruit aroma flowing from a crisp, bone-dry base. We import three different whites from the Domaine de la Garenne, each with its own distinctive charms, so there should be something for every palate.

Last year’s offering, from the 2018 vintage, came from the hottest year ever — until 2019, that is. The 2019s are from the same mold as the 2018s, and offer the same variations on the Sauvignon theme. In the regular Sancerre cuvée, ripe fruit dominates the nose, with just a touch of white peach mixed with the grapefruit. In the mouth it’s round and full for a Sancerre, and easier to enjoy as an apéritif than usual. But the wine should pair well with all the usual suspects, from chèvre on crackers to oysters on the half shell.

If minerals are particularly your thing, consider the Sancerre “Les Bouffants.” This climat lies in a special clay-limestone terroir — the same one as the famous “Monts Damnées” that adjoin it to the west. Here you’ll find the cut and stony zestiness that limestone soils deliver particularly well. The wine finishes longer than the regular cuvée and boasts substantially more complexity.

Finally, the cuvée “Infidèle” comes from limestone soils mixed with flint, and delivers an additional dimension of minerality: that gunflint smoky essence that put “fumé” into next-door Pouilly-Fumé. Infidèle includes a savory element that adds a touch of salinity. Look for notes of crushed seashells, savory spice, and dried apples.

Sancerre’s reds are much less known than its whites. They’re made from 100% Pinot Noir, and resemble Red Burgundies more or less depending on how they’re raised. Our choice this year is the regular Sancerre rouge cuvée. It sees no oak, so it offers a clean palate of ripe strawberry fruit. The extra dose of heat in 2018 made the wine rounder and more mouthfilling than last year’s vintage, and it made the fruit a bit darker and sweeter. Look for a punchy palate full of cranberry and stony cherries. At the price it’s a very attractive way to put delicious Pinot Noir on your dinner table.

(case prices)

Sancerre blanc 2019:   $235
Sancerre “Bouffants” blanc 2019:   $250
Sancerre “Infidèle” blanc 2018:   $295

Sancerre rouge 2018:  $250

Chateau Ramafort

Medoc, Bordeaux

As regular readers will know, in Bordeaux we leave the legendary names to the well-entrenched establishment and actively seek out excellent wines whose prices are less than stratospheric. Last year we added Chateau Ramafort, a Cru Bourgeois from the Médoc.

One of our favorite places to find value in Bordeaux is at the Cru Bourgeois level. This Médoc classification, revived in 2010, is earned each year, and awarded based on the quality of the wine rather than the name of the chateau. The category includes a few hundred wines year, but the best include, to quote Vinous’s Neal Martin, “a clutch of fabulous wines that I bet could be sneaked into a blind tasting of Grand Cru Classé and nobody would notice, at least not until you examine the price tag.”

In this offering we’re pleased to offer Chateau Ramafort from the excellent 2016 vintage. Both the vintage and the wine are among those Martin found particularly impressive recently. As for the vintage, he wrote: “The top 2016 Cru Bourgeois are furnished with sensual pure fruit, and silk-like tannins; they attest to assiduous winemaking and as an added bonus, built-in longevity.” He went on to list the twelve best of the more than 150 Cru Bourgeois he tasted from the vintage, and Chateau Ramafort ranked second. “The 2016 Ramafort has a very attractive bouquet with blackberry, briary and cedar aromas, touches of burnt toast just in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin, very well balanced with beautifully integrated new oak on the silky finish. Yes, yes, yes! “ High praise indeed, and we think it well-merited.

For those who remember the 2010 from last year, the 2016 is richer and more full-bodied, and while the structure reveals a younger and chewier wine, we’ll begin matching this wine up with steaks on the grill just as soon as it gets here. The 2010 was at the peak of its maturity; the 2016 is just starting.

(case prices)

Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2016:   $235

Chateau Voigny

Sauternes, Bordeaux

The world’s great wines involve an alchemy of sorts — through fermentation, extraction, and evolution, fruit becomes something entirely different, a drink with aromas and tastes that can be more than the sum of their parts. Nowhere is the transformation more striking than with Sauternes, in which botrytis cinerea, a particular mold that grows on grapes only under rare conditions of humidity and temperature, works an additional layer of magic. Not only does Sauternes produce some of the world’s longest-lived white wines, their special character has been known for centuries. Thomas Jefferson visited d’Yquem on his visit to France’s vineyards in the late 1700s, and Sauternes was an important part of his cellar.

There are a number of classic pairings for Sauternes, and they are to be found at opposite ends of the meal. The wine pairs beautifully with foie gras: rich savory meat matches rich sweet wine. We more often serve the wine after the rest of the meal, either by itself or with a really good blue cheese like Fourme d’Ambert or Roquefort. Here the salty cheese and the sweet wine complement each other beautifully.

These essential elements of a good Sauternes are both on display in the 2017 Chateau Voigny. While the wine is concentrated and unctuous, its lively acidity provides excellent support for it, keeping it lighter on the palate. The 2017 has a particularly nice balance, with no hint of heaviness — we were amazed at how delicately it danced across our palates, with lively texture seldom found in Sauternes. The Guide Hachette noticed this too, awarding a star and calling it “frank and fresh on the palate.” The flavors and aromas are classic: exotic fruit, dried apricot, touch of orange rind, and the unique spice of botrytis-affected wine. Our Sauternes is priced a touch better than d’Yquem (a half bottle of which will run you $200), and while we’re not really claiming equivalence in all things, we say confidently that there is no better value in Sauternes than Chateau Voigny. For less than $20, you can keep a half-bottle of Chateau Voigny in the back of the fridge, awaiting the moment when you want to pour just a bit more of something or simply want to offer a guest a special finishing treat.

(case prices)

Sauternes 2017 (12x 375ml):  $195

Three Rosés

Loire & Rhône Valleys

And finally, as we usually do with the March Futures issue, we’re suggesting a collection of rosés. We expect these wines to arrive by mid-May, just in time for summery weather. Note that this year we’ll be shipping less frequently during the summer, so customers outside the Boston area should use this opportunity to stock up for the season.

These rosés have been in the bottle only a few weeks, and indeed were grapes on the vines just six months ago — so we’ve not sampled them ourselves. But we have confidence in their authors, and will pass along their tasting notes below.

First, the newcomer: Domaine des Sanzay’s Cabernet Franc rosé 2019 from the Central Loire. We imported this cuvée for the first time last year, and it quickly became a hit among our readers. It’s pure Cabernet Franc from 40 year old vines, and made in the “skin contact” or “pressurage direct” (rather than saigné) style — the resulting wine is intense, perfumed, and full of flavor. Madame Sanzay described to us notes of wild cherries and ripe strawberries. Given the warm summer, this should have a bit more body than last year’s, but otherwise should again be its popular self.

The other two rosés are from neighboring towns in the Rhône Valley: the Domaine les Goubert’s Rosé from Sablet, and the Domaine Malmont’s rosé from Séguret. Goubert’s 2019 Rosé de Flo is a blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre. The nose shows red fruits like strawberry and raspberry, and the mouth is refreshing and brisk — Florence found a “pretty roundness” alongside notes of grapefruit zest and citrus.

Goubert’s rosé is 100% saigné (literally, “bled”) meaning it’s made only from juice that runs off from uncrushed grapes resting in tank. This makes for a more subtle, delicate style, with increased floral notes and a less material in the mouth. This should match a warm summer evening and a plate of goat cheese on crackers in style.

Malmont’s rosé should have more intensity than the Goubert, but a livelier mouth and slightly less ripeness. It’s a blend of Grenache and Syrah (75/25) and a blend of direct pressing and saigné (85/15). This increased pressure brings more spice to the rosé, and more depth to the mouthfeel. Look for a floral nose with wild strawberries and Mediterranean spices. The mouth is earthy, complex and clean, with pleasant minerality and a refreshing, crisp finish.

All three will make fast friends on your next summer picnic.

(case prices)

Sanzay Rosé 2019:   $175
Goubert Rosé 2019:   $175
Malmont Rosé 2019:   $225

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, MARCH 22.

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

Pick-up in Massachusetts. We store our inventory in a basement in Newton (437 Newtonville Ave), and open it up to the public on Saturday afternoons. Futures customers can pick up their orders here during Saturday open hours, or by appointment.

Pick-up in Delaware. Many of those who aren’t near Boston will choose to collect their wine in Delaware. For such people, we set times for pickup at a temporary storage location and the owners pick their wine up there over the course of the two or three weeks after it arrives.

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.