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With the coming Spring and the likelihood of widespread vaccine availability by summer, there’s growing optimism across this country that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. The same hope is no doubt stirring in the vineyards of France, if perhaps at an earlier stage. Because we couldn’t get there ourselves to taste and share a glass with our French friends this spring, we sent some Ansonia baseball caps and a bit of New England maple syrup to producers this winter. The response was as enthusiastic as it was unsurprising: they’re every bit as tired of this pandemic as we are, and just as anxious to resume normal lives, both in the vines and in their villages.

Despite all the trouble, there have been at least two compensations. First, the weather has continued to produce ripe, high quality vintages, and maladies of the grapes and vines have been less widespread than they often are. We have been pleased to find a wide range of wines showing beautifully, and we are delighted to offer them here.

And second, if the prices in this issue look particularly attractive, you’ve got a sharp eye. After 16 months of tariffs on a majority of the wines we import, relief arrived just days ago in the form of a temporary (we hope eventually permanent) reprieve. We hope that between excellent values and spreading immunity, we’re all able to enjoy the relaxing summer we need and deserve.

March Futures always features a grab-bag of wines, and 2021 is no exception — 36 wines to choose from this year, from a dozen winemakers. In Burgundy we feature wine in both colors, including a few with a couple of years under their belts. From the Loire Valley we have Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from Sancerre, and Cabernet Franc from Chinon. We also have terrific dry whites from Alsace, classic Cornas from the Northern Rhône, an exciting new natural source in the Roussillon, and some old favorites in Bordeaux. And as usual in March, we’ve come up with four rosés to help you get ready for the summer season. We think there should be something here for every palate and budget; we expect the wines to arrive in May.

If you find anything of interest, be sure to get your orders in by the Order Deadline of March 21. We will place orders for the wine immediately thereafter.

Encores: Amiot/Gros

Domaine Michel Prunier

Auxey-Duresses, Burgundy

Like St. Aubin, Auxey-Duresses lies just up a side valley that intersects with the rest of the Côte de Beaune; and like St. Aubin, Auxey (“oh-SAY”) is often overshadowed by a better known neighbor (in this case, Meursault). But the lesser prominence often brings good value, and particularly in the 2018 vintage, this is true in both colors at the Domaine Michel Prunier et Fille, among the best producers in the village.

We always find much to like in the Pruniers’ white wines, and this year is no exception. Meursault is a large appellation with a significant diversity in elevation between its up-slope vineyards and those down on the flat. In our view, Meursault’s up-slope vineyards (Narvaux and Tillets, for example) usually produce their most attractive wines in hotter, sun-drenched years like 2018. The Pruniers’ white wine vines are just across the Meursault-Auxey border at these higher elevations, and we found them particularly nice in 2018 as well.

The regular cuvée of Auxey-Duresses blanc has a lovely, expressive nose in which a touch of oak blends beautifully with the Chardonnay fruit. There’s enough freshness to carry the wine for some time, and while there’s maybe not quite as much gras (“fat”) as in a Meursault, the wine is plenty ripe and round, with good persistence on the palate. The Auxey-Duresses Vieilles Vignes is similar to the regular cuvée in body, but offers noticeably more complexity and greater length. The nose is more floral, alongside notes of honey and straw.  There is more minerality to play against the fruit — it’s less juicy, but seriously classy.

The Pruniers’ 2018 reds benefited even more from the very hot year. Côte de Beaune reds often show their structure for a while after bottling, and so often need a year or so more than comparable wines from the Côte de Nuits to knit together. But the 2018 season seems to have knocked off those rough edges, producing wines that offer pleasure from the get-go across the range. The Bourgogne rouge offers pretty Pinot fruit, more on the order of ripe red cherries than strawberries. There’s a nice touch of oak in the nose, with pleasant roundness in the mouth. It’s a versatile wine that will be particularly nice in the in-between seasons of Spring and Fall. For a punchy weeknight red Burgundy, look no further.

At the village level, the 2018 Auxey-Duresses rouge is the most drinkable young Auxey we have seen in years. There’s an expressive nose of dark cherry fruit and the wine is ripe enough on the palate to feel almost rich. The tannins are ripe and fine-grained, suggesting a wine that could age quite well. Look for a lovely mix of cassis and anise, and a delightfully chewy finish. The Auxey-Duresses 1er cru is a step up in intensity and class. The fruit is darker (as is the color), and the wine is riper and fuller. The tannins are a bit less prominent than in the village red, but the premier cru has plenty of stuffing. The nose shows a perfect balance of fruit, flowers, and earth. This wine is very likely to age well.

Volnay is always the most elegant red of the Côte de Beaune, and the Pruniers’ Volnay 1er cru “Caillerets” is elegance personified, with fine-grained tannins and dark ripe fruit wrapped together into a wine that is smooth but not punchy. Caillerets is considered the finest vineyard in Volnay, and this cuvée shows why. This is what Volnay is supposed to be, and fans of the appellation will find much to like here.

(case prices)

Auxey-Duresses blanc 2018:   $450
Auxey-Duresses Vieilles Vignes blanc 2018:   $495

Bourgogne rouge 2018:   $295
Auxey-Duresses rouge 2018:   $425
Auxey-Duresses 1er cru rouge 2018:   $495
Volnay 1er cru “Caillerets” 2018:   $895

Domaine Ravaut

Ladoix, Burgundy

When people think of Grand Cru white Burgundy, they nearly always think about Montrachet and its satellite Grand Crus, which are nestled together on the border between Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet at the southern end of the Côte de Beaune. But there’s another Grand Cru white from the Côte de Beaune: Corton-Charlemagne, which lies on the tonsured Hill of Corton at its very northern end.

The Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut is our source there, in the modest town of Ladoix at the base of the famous hill. We like their reds as well, but they are on a different bottling schedule, and quantities of the famous whites are so limited that we always offer them separately. Hence just white in this offering (look for their 2019 reds in September).

At the value end of the spectrum, we have two ideas. First, as we suggested in last Sunday’s post, their Bourgogne blanc is particularly nice in the 2019 vintage. It offers an intensity rarely found in Bourgogne. There’s plenty of roundness and a rich mouthfeel but enough freshness to support the lemony Chardonnay fruit and its subtle notes of oak. This is a versatile wine that will be nice for quaffing by itself and will be easy to match with lots of dishes. At a few dollars less than the Bourgogne, the Aligoté is also very attractive in 2019. It has the grape’s characteristic freshness (which helps it marry nicely with Crême de Cassis in a kir), but there’s nothing harsh about the acidity. The fruit dominates this wine, and there’s more body than shows up in most Aligoté. Pair the Bourgogne with roasted chicken; the Aligoté with sushi.

Down the slope from the Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne the Ravauts produce an undervalued white Burgundy from the appellation Ladoix — we find that it more than holds its own alongside better known whites from Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne. The Ladoix blanc 2019 is a relative bargain in this category, offering vanilla notes married with deep, ripe fruit in the nose — look for beeswax alongside lovely golden fruit. On the palate it is very round, but with good supporting acidity. There is a lot going on in the glass and a long, lingering finish. Writer Bill Nanson called the Ravauts’ Ladoix blanc a “baby Corton-Charlemagne,” and we can see why he did.

If you have the budget for the real thing, consider the 2019 Corton-Charlemagne. It represents a step up in each category: there’s definitely Grand Cru intensity, combining citrus, white peach and apple fruit with focused minerality and plenty of supporting freshness. This wine will need a couple of years to knit together and let its complexity develop, but when it does it should be something to behold.

(case prices)

Aligoté 2019:  $235
Bourgogne blanc 2019:  $295
Ladoix blanc 2019:  $475
Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019:   $1,295

Encores: Gros, Amiot

Côte de Nuits, Burgundy

There’s very little to like about the Covid pandemic, but the disruption in the markets for fine wine has meant that we have access to more encores at our favorite producers. We’ve been in touch with the Domaines Michel Gros and Pierre Amiot to see what few bottles might still be available, and have selected some for you that we know to be really good.

We’ll begin with Pierre Amiot, whose wines have delighted many readers of late. A recent all-Amiot Zoom tasting was a reminder of what a terrific family of winemakers they are, and just how special their terroir is. First we’re restocking on their 2017 MSD 1er cru “Aux Charmes,” an always-silky wine made even more so by a precocious vintage. The combination of the early-drinking 2017 vintage and simply charming fruit profile (the plot of vines borders the famous Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin) makes this wine hard to put down even today. Look for soft notes of silk, earth, strawberries, and cinnamon.

We’re also picking up some magnums from the “Ruchots” vineyard, generally considered the best premier cru in Morey-St-Denis. Located just across the street from Grand Crus Clos de Tart and Bonnes Mares, Ruchots punches way above its weight. The 2018 vintage produced ripe, intense fruit and inky tannins; we expect it to age beautifully over the next 5-8 years. A 750ml of 2018 Clos de Tart will run $650+ — for a Burgundy fan, at $132/magnum this 2018 Ruchots is a steal.

Finally we’re re-upping on the 2018 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru in 750s — a magnificent wine that will both require and reward cellaring. We loved this wine in 2018, and weren’t surprised to see it win a prestigious Coup de Coeur from the Guide Hachette, who wrote of its “refined tannins,” “perfectly mastered woodsiness,” and notes of “rose, cassis, and tobacco.” If you have room in the back of your cellar, consider putting away some of this.

Down the road in Vosne-Romanée, we’re revisiting some favorites from the Domaine Michel Gros from 2016. Ever in the shadow of the epic 2015 vintage, the 2016 red Burgundies have recently begun to be recognized for the excellent vintage they are. If the warm summer / early harvest trend of 2018-2020 becomes the “new normal” as some speculate, 2016 may be seen as one of the final “classique” vintages in red Burgundy. We’ve chosen two of our favorites still available.

In their early years, Michel’s three wines from the Hautes-Côtes show noticeable but subtle differences. But as they age the differences between the cuvées expand — in our view, this is where the Fontaine-Saint-Martin plot begins to really shine. The 2016 is gorgeous today — pure, elegant, and subtle. There’s still plenty of fresh fruit, but its youthful juiciness and bright tannin have given way to a refined delicacy.

Gros’s most famous wine is his Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Clos des Réas,” and it’s deserving of all of the praise it receives. The 2016 was simply gorgeous, and we were thrilled to see it still available. Burghound called it “round, velvety, and very rich,” concluding, “Whether [Gros’s 2016s] are as good as his first-rate 2015s remains to be seen but if they’re not, it won’t be by much.”

(case prices)

Amiot Morey-St-Denis 1er cru “Aux Charmes” 2017:   $750
Amiot Morey-St-Denis 1er cru “Ruchots” 2018 (6x 1.5L): $750
Amiot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2018:  $1,695

Gros Hautes-Côtes “Fontaine-St-Martin” rogue 2016:  $395
Gros Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Clos des Réas” 2016:  $1,495

Domaine Charles Frey

Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace

The Domaine Mersiol in the Alsatian town of Dambach-la-Ville was an early adopter of organic farming, and we have bought more than ten vintages of their wines. In 2018 they combined with the Domaine Charles Frey, a neighboring producer with a similar philosophy. For a time they sold wines under both labels, but going forward, their wines will all be sold under the name Charles Frey. Some of the wines are exactly the same, others similar, but the style is what it always has been.

Fans of Mersiol’s Auxerrois need not worry that it’s not on today’s list — though “Auxerrois” is off the label, the very same wine is now sold as Domaine Frey Pinot Blanc (Auxerrois being a variant of the more widely grown Pinot Blanc). The Frey Pinot Blanc 2019 “Rayon de la Lune” is as delicious as ever, and maybe better. The pleasantly expressive nose still sports that attractive white peach and pear aroma – fruit with a floral touch. In the mouth it is round rather than bone-dry, and fills the palate nicely. For years we have suggested the Auxerrois as a delightful end-of-the-workday summer sipper, and we think the 2019 will be a great way to ease into a muggy August evening.

The Riesling “Granite” 2019 has a leaner, dryer feel and just the slightest touch of petrol in the nose. It is precise and mineral, and its delicious Riesling fruit provides a very attractive core. There’s plenty of freshness and great clarity here; the wine should be terrific with an Asian stir-fry or as a foil for any fried dish. It’s lightweight and full of tension — and like most Riesling of this kind, there’s no rush to drink it.

The Pinot Gris “Symbiose” 2019 is an ever-so-drinkable example of the grape. The expressive nose offers plenty of yellow peach and other stone fruit, and the mouth provides the full roundness that attracts fans of Alsatian Pinot Gris. It’s a soft wine, not sweet, but definitely not dry. Frey’s Pinot Gris is a bit less unctuous than the grape often is, but the medium weight gives it a sort of elegance often missing from Pinot Gris. We think this wine should be enjoyed over the next couple of years.

Finally, we have found a lovely dessert wine. The Frey Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardive (late harvest) 2017 offers a beautiful floral bouquet of apricot, peach, and mandarin orange. In the mouth it is sweet, but the sugar levels are on the order of fifty grams — about half the level of many other dessert wines. What is more, the underlying acidity prevents any cloying sweetness. Get this out at the end of a fine meal and it will surprise and delight your guests.

(case prices)

Pinot Blanc “Rayon  de Lune” 2019:   $195
Riesling “Granite” 2019:   $195
Pinot Gris “Symbiose” 2019:  $195
Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives 2017:   $350

Domaine de la Garenne

Sancerre, Loire

The Domaine de la Garenne has developed an enthusiastic following among our customers over the past four years or so. Many think that Sancerre is home to the finest expressions of the Sauvignon grape, and the domaine makes three distinct wines from Sauvignon blanc there. Each offers particular charms.

The Domaine de la Garenne Sancerre 2020 has a bright and expressive grapefruit nose. In the mouth, the wine opens fresh, then smooths out to fill the mouth nicely. It has the classic dryness for which Sancerre is known, but in this regular cuvée it is the fruit that jumps out of the glass. We’ve struggled to keep this wine in stock recently — even at retail pricing its price-value ratio is irresistible. With a Futures price around $20, this is a no brainer for your everyday Sauvignon.

Some of the most celebrated terroir of Sancerre lies along a ridge that runs north from the village in the direction of Chavignol. The “Monts Damnés” is the most famous sector in this line, but “Bouffants” lies just beside it. The clay/limestone soils of this terroir produce a wine in which a noticeable minerality joins the fruit. In the mouth there’s more intensity than in the regular cuvée, but despite the minerals the wine is surprisingly ample. It’s persistent on the palate, with a bone-dry finish. The 2020 may be the best Sancerre Bouffants that we have seen — we’ll plan to enjoy it all summer long.

The third wine in the group comes from soils filled with flint (silex). The Domaine’s Sancerre “Infidèle” goes into the bottle a bit later, so the vintage for sale is still the 2019 that many of you have in your cellars. It’s strikingly good right now. The nose adds to the fruit and minerals the smoky, gunflint aroma that gave its name to Pouilly-Fumé. This wine is very rich for sauvignon blanc, but also continues to show plenty of energy. Very dry, very intense, very mineral — in sum, very tasty.

Red Sancerre is made from Pinot Noir, which takes well to clay/limestone soils. These wines rarely show the complexities of the reds from Burgundy, but they can offer much enjoyment nonetheless. The Domaine de la Garenne makes two: a regular Sancerre rouge and a more serious version, “L’Esprit de la Garenne. They are quite different. The Sancerre rouge 2019 has very attractive fruit with lovely aromas of wild strawberries. In the mouth it’s on the light side, dominated by the pinot fruit. For this wine, the words “fun” and “refreshing” will come to mind rather than “profound.” Served cool on a hot day in the middle of the summer, this could be just the right choice to pair with chicken on the grill. For other seasons, or when more is demanded of the wine, L’Esprit de la Garenne 2018 will be the better choice. This is a bigger, more extracted wine, with oak notes joining the fruit along with a pleasant earthiness. The fruit is darker, too — think cherries rather than strawberries. This is a versatile, pleasant Pinot Noir. While it can’t match the Côte d’Or’s reds for complexity, there is much to like here.

Finally we’re excited to offer Garenne’s 2020 Sancerre Rosé this year. Made from pure Pinot Noir, and all using “pressurage direct” method, this is dry, crisp, and lovely. The nose is savory and herbal, with dried fruits, olives, strawberries and stones — the mouth is crisp and light, with lively minerality and very dry fruit. Serve this with sushi and summer salads when the weather turns warm. (Note that we have three other rosés on offer in a section below.) It may not feel like rosé weather where you are today, but come spring you’ll want to have some of this around.

(case prices)

Sancerre 2020: $250
Sancerre “Bouffants” 2020: $275
Sancerre “Infidèle” 2019: $350

Sancerre rouge 2019:  $250
Sancerre “Esprit” rouge 2018:  $295

Sancerre Rosé 2020:  $235

Domaine de Doulaye

Chinon, Loire Valley

There’s one more encore in this Futures offering. We have been in touch with Fabien Demois, a young winemaker whose 2015 old-vine Chinon developed a strong following among our clients. Chinon is Cabernet Franc from the town of that name in the Loire Valley. Much of it is for drinking young and relatively light in weight, and it can be an excellent value.

But the wine that captured so many hearts was the 2015 from an old-vine patch in the hamlet of Cravant-le-Coteaux along the alluvial plain. It was denser and more intense than most reds from Chinon, and the dark ripe fruit was woven in with notes of chocolate, smoke, and graphite. We thought that the 2017 vintage might be worth exploring, and asked Fabien to send us samples. The 2017 arrived damaged, but Fabien had included a bottle of that same old-vine 2015, now labeled Domaine de Doulaye Chinon “Vieilles Vignes.” We were struck by just how well it has developed. It is still surprisingly rich and delicious, and though mature it retains its fruit and its complexities. We’re looking forward to a season or two more of enjoyment from this wine, and we invite you to join us in sharing Fabien’s last few bottles of it.

(case prices)

Chinon Vieilles Vignes 2015:   $235

Jean-Louis Tribouley

Latour-de-France, Roussillon

Based on a tip from a longtime customer, we acquired some samples from Jean-Louis Tribouley, a small organic winemaker based in the Roussillon. We were seriously impressed with the wines, and are excited to make our first purchase this month — we invite you along for the ride.

For regular readers, an offer of low-intervention Languedoc wines may call to mind a similar source in the Ansonia portfolio, the Mas Foulaquier. And indeed the two domaines share varietals (carignan, grenache, syrah), and an unwavering commitment to organic, biodynamic winemaking. But in fact the styles are quite different — Foulaquier’s wines are rugged and intense, with rich mouthfeel and bolder tannins that age beautifully. Tribouley’s are lighter and less dense, with smoother textures and more vibrant aromatics.

Tribouley is located deep in Roussillon in the foothills of the Pyrenees, less than an hour from the Spanish border. Craggy rocks and gnarled olive trees speckle the hillsides among rows of sundrenched vines, with many road signs in both French and ancient Catalan. Tribouley’s vines are on schist and gneiss/granite, and range from 40 to 70 years old.

Tribouley used to make several cuvées exclusively for US importer Peter Weygandt, and so his winemaking reputation precedes him — we found the wines terrific, and real bargains. His ability to wrestle freshness and lift from such a warm climate is remarkable — his wines burst with fruit and tension, a mark of careful viticulture and low yields (12-15 hl/ha). He ferments with ambient yeasts, and neither fines nor filters. We’ve chosen three of our favorite cuvées to begin:

Copines 2019 is jubilant, fresh, easy, and delightful — a perfect spring/summer red. The blend is 70% grenache, 20% syrah, 10% carignan, aged all in tank (no oak). The nose bursts with strawberry-watermelon fruit and dried violets, with a mouth full of fresh fruit and earth. This light on its feet and full of exuberance — just what natural wine should be.

His Elepolypossum 2019 is pure carignan grown on gneiss, and offers a more substantial mouthfeel but no less fun. There’s more funk here, notes of garrigue, animale, pepper and a bit of leather, but accompanied by gorgeous dark fruit — black cherry, cassis, and plum. This is much darker in complexion than Copines, but just as refreshing and smooth.

Finally, Alba 2018, a blend of mostly Carignan with some Grenache and Syrah thrown in. This is more savory than the other two — the fruit is there (dark berries), but it’s the spice that makes this wine unique. Look for olives, garrigue, black tea and lavender in the nose, with a raspberry mouth that’s deeper, more intense, and more extracted. A perfect pairing for grilled or smoked foods in a few months.

We’re (fingers crossed) looking forward to spending lots of time with friends outside this summer, and we expect to bring some Tribouley wherever we go. Serve Copines on a Saturday afternoon picnic in the park; unwind with Elepolypossum on your front step or back porch after a long Friday at your desk; and serve Alba to friends you haven’t seen in a year with some burgers or sausages from the grill.

(case prices)

Les Copines 2019:   $195
Elepolypossum 2019:  $235
Alba 2018:  $235

Domaine du Tunnel

Cornas, Northern Rhône

2019 was the fifth consecutive excellent vintage in the Northern Rhône. Like 2018, it was hot and dry, but unlike 2018, the grapes developed thick skins and less juice. This reduced yields but offered the promise of higher quality in 2019 if the fruit was handled right.

Our first 2019s from the Northern Rhône are as usual from the Domaine du Tunnel, Stephan Robert’s celebrated domaine with a long-abandoned railroad tunnel for a barrel room. With so much demand for their wine, the Roberts feel no need to ship samples around the globe, and so the Covid-confined Ansonia crew couldn’t travel to taste them. But Vinous’s Josh Raynolds made it there about this time last year, and got an early look. He loved both of the wines in our allocation, projecting a score of 92-94 for the Cornas and 93-95 for the Cornas “Vin Noir.”

Tunnel’s wines are pure, inky syrah — a blend of Northern spiciness (think Bonnefond’s Côte Rôties) and southern sun. Raynolds found the 2019 Cornas “in a juicy, fruit-driven style, offering appealingly sweet cherry, blackberry and cassis flavors;” and its finish “very long and smooth, with just a hint of fine-grained tannins and persistent spiciness.” In the Vin Noir he found that “a complex, deeply perfumed bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, cherry liqueur, potpourri and olive, along with a spicy quality.” On the “very long finish” he found “lingering floral and mineral notes.”

Our allocation for these wines is truly tiny, so if you’re interested don’t tarry in placing your order. First come, first served.

(case prices)

Cornas 2019:   $625
Cornas “Vin Noir” 2019:  $750

Chateau Ramafort

Medoc, Bordeaux

We’re going back to Chateau Ramafort this year for another shot at the 2016 vintage. Chateau Ramafort, you may recall, is a Cru Bourgeois in the Medoc on Bordeaux’s left bank. Since 2010 this category gets reviewed annually (versus ten years in St. Emilion and never for the left-bank Grand Crus Classé). Vinous’s Neal Martin singled Ramafort out in a piece on the 2016 Cru Bourgeois, about which 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.” Many of you have this wine in your cellars already, but (probably because of that) we don’t — so we’re heading back for a restock.

This is a full-bodied and rich Médoc from equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s still a young wine, and today benefits from an hour or more in a carafe. But it is definitely integrating, and we expect to see positive evolution for many years. Here again is what Martin wrote about it: “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!”

(case prices)

Médoc Cru Bourgeois 2016:   $250

Chateau Voigny

Sauternes, Bordeaux

No serious collector’s cellar is complete without Sauternes, the iconic dessert wine from Bordeaux. For centuries in this particular corner of France, winemakers have welcomed damp, humid conditions in the fall which bring on the pourriture noble (“noble rot”), a slightly more appetizing name for a fungus called Botrytis cinerea. While the appearance of the mold isn’t exactly appealing, the flavors it produces are extraordinary.

Sauternes’s most famous Chateau is Yquem, collected for centuries by Old and New World aristocracy — presidents Jefferson and Washington were enthusiastic patrons. Our source in Sauternes is somewhat humbler, but no less authentic. The Bon family makes delicious, affordable Sauternes that regularly wins awards from the Guide Hachette. We were thrilled to see their excellent 2017 still in stock, and are pleased to offer it today.

The Chateau Voigny’s is a particularly vibrant Sauternes, unusually lively for a dessert wine. The 2017 Sauternes has a very 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. A recent glass proved that its dry herbal extract has moved even more into the spotlight, accompanying the golden sweetness. 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.

Keep a half-bottle cold in the back of your fridge — when the moment strikes you after a particularly grand meal, pour yourself a glass, and imagine your home as your very own Monticello.

(case prices)

Sauternes 2017 (375ml):  $195

Three Rosés

Loire & Rhône Valleys

And finally, as we usually do with in March, we’re suggesting a collection of rosés. It may too cold where you are to imagine rosé today, but 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.

Two of these rosés are class of 2020 — they’re being bottled as we speak, and so we haven’t tasted them. But they’re familiar (both to us and many readers), so we have unreserved confidence in their authors.

We’ll begin in the Loire with Domaine des Sanzay’s Saumur Rosé 2020. This is pure cabernet franc from 40 year old vines, made using the “skin contact” or “pressurage direct” method (rather than “saigné” or “bled). The resulting wine is perfumed, smooth, and delicious. Last year’s cuvée sold out in weeks, and we expect similarly great things from this years. Look for crushed strawberries with a hint of mint in the nose, with a dry mouthfeel that’s floral and lively. Serve this on its own by the pool, or with a plate of sushi.

Second we’re returning to Provence for Nicolas Haeni’s Malmont Séguret Rosé 2020. This one is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, and more serious than the Sanzay. It’s a blend of pressing (85%) and saigné (15%), which gives it a bit more spice in the nose and complexity in the mouth. We expect a floral bouquet with wild strawberries alongside lavender and berries. The mouth is dry but with lovely texture and a long, clean finish. Pair with a summer salad, perhaps with duck confit or pâté.

Our friend Florence Cartier in Gigondas didn’t make a rosé in 2020 (the grapes were too good to set aside from the red), but she’s set aside the rest of her excellent 2019 Rosé de Flo for us, which has held up beautifully. It’s the lightest of the three, with a nose of dry strawberries and lime zest; the mouth is light, clean, refreshing and delightful. (There’s not much of this, so fans from last year should act quickly.) Serve with fresh goat cheese on crackers.

(case prices)

Sanzay Rosé 2020:   $185
Malmont Rosé 2020:   $195
Goubert Rosé 2019:    $185


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 21.

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 Pennsylvania. Many of those who aren’t near Boston will choose to collect their wine in Sharon Hill, PA. For such people, we offer pickup at a new storage location for a month after arrival.

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.