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There’s an old saw in Burgundy that the best vintages come in years ending with a five or a nine.  We first heard this when the 1999s arrived, following the also-excellent 1995s. It seemed an amusing superstition, since nature isn’t exactly organized on a base-10 system.  But in 2005 there was a vintage with near-perfect conditions that collectors still hold for great occasions. Then there was 2009, a vintage we still look for in our own cellar for special occasions.  Not enough of a string to prove the claim, of course, and we awaited the certain eventual stumble. But then came 2015, another beautiful vintage that eclipsed those after 2009. Now we are back to a nine again, and it appears we will have to wait even longer to scoff. The just released red Burgundies of 2019 are beautiful.   

The 2019 growing season was just as hot and luminous as 2018, but the flow of the season’s events produced a different result. Yields in 2019 were very low compared to 2018’s bumper crop; and while the sun and heat produced a very ripe vintage, the timing of rain and other weather events made for wines that were also “beautifully fresh and vibrant,” to quote Allen Meadows (“Burghound”); who calls it a “superb vintage” with wines that “belong in any serious collector’s cellar.” William Kelly of the Wine Advocate writes of “a thrilling year for Pinot Noir,” calling the wines “simultaneously serious and immensely charming.” And while ripe vintages generally tend to suppress the impact of terroir, it seems to shine through the ripeness in the 2019s. 

Along with this crop of Burgundies, there are other exciting wines in this Futures Offering. From the Rhône, an affordable Châteauneuf-du-Pape and handful of delicious organic reds from the Clos du Joncuas. From the Loire valley there is wine from a trio of producers: Sanzay for its Saumur and Saumur-Champigny, Martin-Luneau for Muscadet cru, and Nicolas Paget for his dry Chenin and other offbeat offerings. Finally, we venture into Normandy in search of cider from apples and pears.

We expect these wines to arrive in July — for customers that require shipping, we’ll hold your orders for free until shipping weather in the fall if requested. If you find anything of interest, be sure to get your orders in by the Order Deadline of May 16. We will place orders for the wine immediately thereafter.

Wines available the case and half case.


Domaine Pierre Amiot

Morey-St-Denis, Burgundy

The 2019 lineup at the Domaine Pierre Amiot is every bit as impressive as one might hope. First, a note on the 2019 Bourgogne: though we weren’t able to taste that wine this year, we can readily predict an eminently drinkable glass of Pinot Noir, with more fruit and less definition than the Amiot’s other wines, but some earthiness and a nice balance nonetheless. (As usual there’s not much of this to go around.) 

At the village level, the 2019 Gevrey-Chambertin offers a lovely combination of ripe fruit and earthiness. The wine is of middle weight considering the Gevrey range, and shows the attractive freshness that impressed Burghound. There is really good persistence on the palate and a long finish. While the wine should age very well, it will also be more drinkable in its early years than much Gevrey. 

The Amiots’ trio of premier cru Morey St. Denis is excellent this year. “Aux Charmes” is usually the leanest of the Amiots’ premier crus, but in 2019 it offers both density and intensity. Ripe fruit aromas dominate the nose and the dark black currant fruit persists on the palate. There’s an earthiness in there too, and good underlying structure. As usual, Morey St. Denis “Les Millandes” is a big wine, muscular and well-structured. The nose is multi-layered, a blend of oak and fruit.  Burghound praised its “brooding liqueur-like aromas of plum, dark currant, earth and a whiff of Asian-style tea.” In fact this wine won a laurel from “Tastevinage,” the Burgundy trade group that tastes through the vintage each year and singles out particularly noteworthy wines.  “Millandes” always reaches its peak after “Charmes,” but will provide pleasure over many years. Finally, “Les Ruchots” is closer to the Grand Cru level than just geographical proximity (the Clos de Tart lies just across the road). Here the tannins are exceedingly fine grained and knit together, providing a firm base without a hint of roughness. The ripe fruit is almost sweet, making the wine sleek and racy. There’s a long and complex finale, suggesting that this wine will be at its best down the road, perhaps 8 to 12 years after the vintage.

Amiots’ Gevrey 1er cru “Combottes” is a premier cru surrounded on all sides by famous Grand Crus, and in good years could easily be mistaken for one.  2019 is just such a year.  Like “Ruchots” there is an expressive nose of dark fruit with a certain sweetness about it.  In the mouth the wine is both dense and intense.  If the weight is less than a Grand Cru, it is not by much. Very fine-grained tannins come in at the end, and the finish is very long. There is no risk at all that this wine will disappoint.

Of course a year like 2019 is a good one for buying Grand Cru, even if that’s not your usual neighborhood. The Clos de la Roche 2019 is  big and dense, with extraordinary length on the palate. There is dark, sweet fruit and great density, so it’s not for drinking this summer.  But Burghound thought it “one of the best recent vintages that I have seen for this wine,” one that “should amply reward extended keeping.”  If you’ve ever had a bottle of this wine with a few years of age behind it, you’ll know just how special a plot it is.

(case prices)

Bourgogne rouge 2019:   $275
Gevrey-Chambertin 2019:   $595

Morey-St-Denis 1er “Charmes” 2019:   $750
Morey-St-Denis 1er “Millandes” 2019:   $750
Morey-St-Denis 1er “Ruchots” 2019:   $750
Gevrey Chambertin 1er “Combottes” 2019:   $995

Clos de la Roche 2019:   $1,695

Morey-St-Denis 1er “Ruchots” 2019 (6x 1.5L):   $750
Gevrey Chambertin 1er “Combottes” 2019 (6x 1.5L):   $995

Domaine Thomas Morey

Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy

The only thing wrong with Thomas Morey’s 2019s is that there aren’t enough of them. (Even the samples he sent us to taste were docked from our meager allocation.) In his corner of the Côte d’Or there was serious frost early in the growing season, followed by a dry summer, pushing yields down sharply. Yet the wines themselves are all beautiful, and worthy of a place in your cellar. Morey’s style is one of understatement. He picks early, oaks sparingly, and crafts Chassagne cuvées of tension and purity rather than opulence and showiness. 

The St. Aubin 1er cru “Les Castets” showcases Morey’s style: the wine is clean, precise, and perfectly balanced. The nose offers ripe Chardonnay fruit framed by just a touch of oak. In the mouth there is plenty of freshness, and yet no element overwhelms another. Jasper Morris MW called it “a St. Aubin of precision and energy” and praised its “lively fruit on the nose, crisply exciting lemon notes, good weight behind, [and] crystalline limestone character.” The wine is delicious right now, but should also drink well for years to come. Consider it a JV Chassagne for a few bucks less.

Morey’s village Chassagne-Montrachet is a blend of seven village parcels, each vinified separately.  When we visited in 2019, we tasted from barrels of each, seeing more minerality in some, more fruit in others; but the final blend in the bottle is a lovely, well-integrated expression of Chassagne-Montrachet.  It represents a step up in intensity from the St. Aubin, with a very expressive nose of ripe fruit and a beautifully round and balanced mouthfeel. Look for golden fruits and delicate citrus tension; Jasper Morris found both “significant volume of fruit” and “plenty of energy.” This wine drinks well young and ages beautifully too — we’ve yet to cellar a bottle long enough to witness its demise. 

The Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru “Les Embrazees” is opulent and fresh at the same time. The nose is similar to the village: ripe and expressive, with just a hint of wood to complement the fruit. In the mouth it is even more impressive — with plenty of body, rich and mouth filling, but also showing all kinds of complexity and exceptional length. When we last visited Morey, he opened a thirty year old magnum of this wine that was very much alive. It is easy to imagine this vintage living that long as well.

Thomas Morey’s only Puligny-Montrachet, from the premier cru “La Truffiere” vineyard, is always among his most impressive wines. The 2019 is no exception. It has the same precision as the Chassagnes, but shows its minerality more prominently. Morris admired its “steely bouquet” and its “chiseled clear finish.” This Puligny will need a bit more time to hit its stride than the wines from Chassagne, but when it does the beautiful balance among fruit, minerals and oak will be something to behold. Quantities extremely limited.

We weren’t able to taste Morey’s Grand Cru Bâtard-Montrachet 2019, but for those with the budget for it we can recommend it without hesitation.  Morey vinifies his Grand Cru much as he does his premier crus, oaking with a light touch. Jasper Morris awarded the wine 95-97 points, so if you are looking for Grand Cru white Burgundy to put in your cellar, this should be a good one.

Morey’s two red wines are both excellent, the hot growing season having sanded down the hard edges of young Côte de Beaune structure, much as it did for the 2018s.  Good as those 2018s are, the 2019s may have even more promise. They are elegant and perfectly balanced.  The Santenay “Grand Clos Rousseau” has an expressive nose of black cherries with a touch of oak.  In the mouth there is persistence and length, and the wine drips with what a producer in Côte Rôtie once described to us as “la sève de jeunesse” — the “sap of youth.” At the moment it is juicy, energetic, and very easy to drink; in a few years it should settle into a more refined elegance.  The Beaune premier cru “Grèves” is less deeply colored than the Santenay, and the nose is more muted.  While showing similar ripeness, the cherry fruit is a bit redder in this wine, and the structure is more apparent at the moment.  It will integrate and soften in the coming months and years, offering a refined and delicious accompaniment for top notch red meats, such as lamb chops or tournedos of beef.   

(case prices)

St-Aubin 1er “Castets” 2019: $585
Chassagne-Montrachet 2019: $625
Chassagne-Montrachet 1er “Embrazées” 2019: $795
Puligny-Montrachet 1er “Truffière” 2019: $1,095
Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2019: $3000

Santenay 1er “Grand Clos Roussot” rouge 2019: $495
Beaune 1er cru “Grèves” rouge 2019: $525

Domaine Jean Collet

Chablis, Burgundy

With winemaking led by Romain Collet in recent years, the Domaine Jean Collet has become one of the very best sources in Chablis.  The family has a fine collection of properties on both sides of the river that runs through the village, including many premier crus and two Grand Crus, so there is much to work with. Romain uses many methods of elevage — from stainless steel to cement eggs to oak in all sizes — to coax the best from his grapes. The wine press has taken notice; Jasper Morris recently opined that Romain Collet “is moving towards joining the pantheon in Chablis.” Chablis pricing at all levels offers the very best value in white Burgundy, and so buyers of every taste and budget should find something attractive in the Collet lineup. 

At the village level, Collet’s Chablis and the Chablis Vieilles Vignes offer a nice choice. Both wines are raised in stainless, with the old vine cuvée spending just a month longer before bottling. But the wines are distinct, a difference that comes from both vine age and terroir. The vines of the regular cuvée have an average age of about 25 years, and come from a range of soils — some with more clay, some with more limestone. This cuvée features ripe fruit, both a pleasant citrus and bit of orchard fruit, yet it doesn’t lack for freshness. It makes a fine apéritif and a particularly nice match for shellfish. The Vieilles Vignes is from a patch of 85 year-old vines on Portlandian soils, which have more limestone and less clay than the Kimmeridgian soils more widely found in Chablis. The result is a wine that is less exuberantly fruity. There’s more complexity in this wine, with saline and mineral notes joining in. The old vine cuvée offers a particularly nice balance, with the stony elements playing alongside the fruit in an attractive refinement. There’s a place for both of these styles — for oysters on the half shell we would open the regular cuvée, but we might choose the Vieilles Vignes to accompany a lobster risotto or an oven-roasted piece of halibut. Jasper Morris cited its “classicism” and called it “a highly impressive old vine Chablis.”

Chez Collet we are equally enthusiastic about the choices at the premier cru level, three of which we featured in last Sunday’s post. They echo the choice at the village level, with some dominated by exuberant fruit (Montmains, for example) and others (say, Vaillons) offering more of an interplay of elements. For those who missed the post, we’ll reproduce it here:

First Montmains, a cuvée raised entirely in stainless steel. The terroir for this wine is low in clay, which contributes to Collet’s decision to eschew oak entirely. We found the 2019 fresh and delightful — plenty of dry lemon fruit, with hints of stones and shells on the finish. Jasper Morris gave 89-92, finding it “attractive and quite persistent.” Dry, unoaked fruit dominates here, with terrific tension.

Second, Vaillons, located one valley west of Montmains. The Collets farm a very large plot here – 10 hectares – and the soils are particularly heavy in limestone. Romain raises this cuvée in a combination of stainless, old barrels, foudres, which add complexity rather than any notes of oak. The nose offers a hint of dry spice with the fruit, and in the mouth a touch of salinity focuses the wine’s minerality. The result is a wine that’s drier than Montmains, and one in which the stones dominate the fruit. Morris gave this Vaillons 91-93 points, noting “impressive intensity” and finding it “very persistent.” The 2019 is among the best vintages we can remember for this wine, a perfect balance of fruit and minerals.

Third, for those who like their Chablis steely and bone-dry, there’s Forêts. From a subsection of the Montmains hillside, this plot is extremely steep and stony. This cuvée is vinified in cement eggs, which allow a long, slow, cool fermentation. We found the 2019 Forêts electric and vibrant, with muted fruit and a gorgeous fresh salinity. Morris gave it 89-92, finding “white fruit and saline.” Forêts is classically Chablisien, the most delicate and crystalline of the three, with terrific focus and chiseled texture.

There’s a fourth premier cru on offer in 2019, from the celebrated Montée de Tonnerre vineyard, which lies right next to the slope with all the Grand Crus. In elevage, this is the most like the wines of the Côte d’Or, spending 16 months in small oak barrels. This carries through to the palate, where notes of oak play a more noticeable part. This wine is considerably more understated than the first three, and will require some patience — but cellaring should be rewarded with a sophisticated blend of dry fruit and minerals. We think it will reach its best drinking window in the range of 3 to 6 years after the harvest, and however much we have left then, we’ll likely wish it were more.

Finally, we have a small allocation of Valmur Grand Cru. This vineyard is right in the center of the bowl of Grand Crus, with a shape like a valley, hence the name.  Like Montée de Tonnerre, Valmur is raised in small oak barrels like most white burgundy from the Côte d’Or. The 2019 has an expressive nose, with ripe fruit mingling with notes of oak.  As usual, the oak is fairly prominent just after bottling. In our experience, the prominence fades over a year or so, leaving a wine with a lovely balance between oak and fruit. The 2019 shows ripeness, with orchard fruit (white and yellow peaches) mingled with citrus; and the intensity is definitely at Grand Cru level. The best drinking window for this wine is likely to be 5 to 8 years after the harvest.   

One would think that with a Chablis lineup as long and as fine as it is, Romaine Collet might be content to turn out fabulous wine made from Chardonnay.  But talented young winemakers want to apply their talents widely, and Romain couldn’t resist traveling down the road a few kilometers to Saint-Bris, the only appellation in Burgundy where the grape is Sauvignon blanc. It isn’t a shocking idea if you consider that the same Kimmeridgien marls of clay and limestone found in the area around Chablis extend all the way to Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé in the Loire valley. 

Unsurprisingly, Romain Collet’s Sauvignon Saint-Bris 2019 is a very well-made glass of Sauvignon blanc, with lots of fruit and good acidity.  It’s riper and rounder than most Sancerre, more like the Domaine de la Garenne’s regular cuvée than its “Bouffants,” but it’s really a nice example of Sauvignon. Burghound liked its “lemongrass-infused” nose and “fine richness and intensity.” Lovers of this grape might give it a try.

(case prices)

Chablis 2019: $250
Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2019: $275

Chablis 1er “Montmains” 2019: $350
Chablis 1er “Vaillons” 2019: $350
Chablis 1er “Forêts” 2019: $375
Chablis 1er “Tonnerre” 2019: $375

Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2019: $750

Saint-Bris 2019: $195

Clos du Joncuas

Gigondas, Southern Rhône

The Clos du Joncuas has been among our happiest recent discoveries in the Southern Rhône.  Like their neighbor Jacqueline André in Chateauneuf du Pape, sisters Dany and Carol Chastan have run their family domaine for decades according to organic and biodynamic principles. The wines are all beautifully made, with minimal manipulation and no pretense. They practice old school winemaking — 100% whole clusters, ambient yeasts, no fining or filtering. There are no barrels in their cuverie (all the wines are raised in enameled vats) and you could eat off the floor anywhere in the place.

The wines are from three neighbor villages: a red and a white from Séguret, a red from Vacqueyras, and their flagship Gigondas, the Clos du Joncuas.

The Séguret, from the 2017 vintage, is mostly Grenache, with some Carignan and just a touch of Cinsault. It has a lovely plum nose with floral notes of violets. In the mouth it is intense and round, with plenty of supporting freshness. It’s juicy and fruit-forward, with a bit more rugged structure than the rest of the lineup. We find it drinks well immediately and should carry nicely into the fall and winter.  The Vacqueyras is also from the 2017 vintage, mostly Grenache with a bit of Mourvedre. The 2017 Vacqueyras is a generous wine, very rich and smooth on the palate. It is deeper and weightier than the Séguret, with dark notes of prunes and thyme. The wine is fuller and darker than the Séguret, but not softer. Its structure shows up on the finish right now, and some time in a carafe will be advisable for near-term drinking. 

The Clos du Joncuas 2018 is very impressive.  The nose mixes floral notes of violets with strawberry jam.  In the mouth there is plenty of body, but the fine-grained tannins stay in the background while the wine coats the palate. There is very good length and an excellent finish.  When we first visited the domaine, we had the pleasure of tasting through a series of older vintages and saw them put on complexity as they age.  The 2018 is a wine that should age well, adding interest and knitting together even more with time in the bottle. We have high expectations for it. 

Joncuas still has a bit of their 2016 Gigondas, a favorite among Ansonia buyers over the last year. The wine has aged beautifully, and today shows a dark, serious nose with lots of mellow fruit. It’s less juicy than the 2018, trading the exuberance of youth for a more serious, patinaed texture. Pour this into a decanter for an hour and watch the notes of lavender, raspberry, plum tart and leather emerge.

Finally, the Chastans offer a Seguret blanc.  Its base is old-vine Grenache blanc blended with Marsanne and Viognier. The combination is refreshingly different, livelier than most Southern Rhône white. The fruit resembles Bosc pears, both in the nose in the mouth, and the wine is drier than most whites from the neighborhood.  There’s plenty of dry extract, and the Viognier contributes an increasingly expressive nose as the wine warms up in the glass. Fans of whites from the Southern Rhône will find much to like here.   

(case prices)

Séguret 2017:  $235
Vacqueyras 2017:  $250
Gigondas 2018:  $325
Gigondas 2016:  $375
Séguret blanc 2019:   $250

Domaine Mestre

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône

Christophe Mestre and his wife are from old Châteauneuf du Pape families. Like many such families, they own a number of parcels scattered across the town’s remarkably diverse terroir.  About a third of their acreage is among the famous galets roulés, large round stones that lie on the surface and make the vineyards so difficult to traverse that they must be worked with tracked vehicles rather than conventional tractors with tires. Another third is in alluvial sandy soils, and the rest is spread among red and brown soils rich in pebbles and calcium.  Combine these diverse soils with no fewer than 13 grape varieties approved for the appellation, and it is easy to see how the wine of each domaine has its own distinct character. 

Christophe Mestre makes a single red Châteauneuf du Pape each year, vinfiying the different grapes separately and carefully combining them to come up with each year’s vintage.  We have been buying there for five years now, and have watched him consistently craft delicious wine from the varied elements each vintage offers. The 2018 rouge is about 40% Syrah, 30% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, and 5% Cinsault, raised for a total of 18 months, half in cement vats and half in large foudres. It is delicious. There is plum, licorice, and maybe a touch of chocolate in the nose. In the mouth, the wine is rich and round, with plenty of support and no feeling of heat. The finish is plenty long. Its peak drinking window will arrive in the fourth or fifth year after the vintage, but it will likely drink well for well more than a decade. 

The most striking thing about a Châteauneuf of this quality is its price.  The wine is not widely distributed and we think it offers as good a value as can be found in this storied town.   

(case prices)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018:  $350
Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2018 (6x 1.5L): $350

Nicolas Paget

Touraine-Azay le Rideaux, Loire Valley

No region of France is more exciting these days than the Loire Valley. Stretching more than halfway across the country, the Loire is really a collection of sub-regions, each with its own style and charm. The Loire Valley also remains a source for value: of the following eight wines from three producers, not one breaks $21/bot.

Nicolas Paget fits perfectly into the Loire’s philosophy of natural winemaking. His wines are honest, exuberant, and delightful — he practices biodynamics and low intervention winemaking, allowing each cuvée and vintage to make itself. Paget makes a wide array of wines, from sweet to dry, sparkling to still, and just about every color you can imagine. We’ve chosen four of our favorites.

First Melodie, Paget’s dry Chenin blanc. This is the wine that brought us to this address, and it continues to be our favorite. It’s unoaked and unadorned — just pure, perfect Chenin blanc in a clean refreshing package. The 2019 is as good as ever, sporting an almost Chablisien array of grapeskin and minerals. The nose is floral and dry, with faint pear notes and a hint of apple. Even in a warm year Paget has managed to craft a beautiful Melodie — at 13% alcohol it’s a perfect summer sipper, and a refreshing break from the palate-coating wines that dominate the market these days. Serve with fresh goat cheese on crusty bread and rejoice in simplicity.

Nicolas excitedly told us he had changed the formula for Indr et Loire in 2018 — “style vin Jurassien,” he called it in his email. If we had any doubt what he meant, one whiff from the sample he sent cleared it up. This year’s Indr et Loire is Paget’s homage to the Jura — Chenin Blanc raised “sous voile,” under a “veil” of yeast. This style is most famously employed to make sherry in Jerez and Vin Jaune in the Jura  — rather than topping up barrels to prevent oxidation, vignerons allow the wine to evaporate and a thin layer of yeast forms across the surface. If you enjoy fino sherry, you’ll enjoy this wine; if you don’t, you likely won’t.

We found Paget’s sous-voile wine fascinating and delicious. The nose has the classic oxidized, nutty character of a wine made with flor, but with subtle Chenin fruit. The wine is dry, but shows considerably more fruit and texture than the ultra-dry waxy Jura whites made from Savagnin. The mouth is long and full of tension — we found pears, white flowers, almonds, honey and hazelnuts. This is unlikely to be your next house white, but it’s delicious and not even a little boring. Pair this with sashimi or a middle eastern salad. Cover the bottle and you’ll fool every one of your guests.

In red, we’re suggesting Paget’s Jajavanaise, a blend of red grapes produced using carbonic maceration. The blend is Cab Franc, Gamay and Malbec (known locally as “côt”). This is a gritty, punchy young wine with lots of tannin and lots of character — low on finesse, high on fun. The nose is funky with violets, herbs and earth. The mouth is juicy and delicious, with cassis and licorice in a fresh, mouthwatering package. Think of it as Beaujolais’s hipster cousin from the Loire. Pour it cooled at a barbecue this summer — it’ll stand up to just about whatever you throw at it.

Finally we’re suggesting Paget’s 2020 Rosé, made from a local grape called Grolleau. It’s simple, dry, fresh, and a serious bargain. The nose shows strawberries with a hint of earthiness and mint. The mouth is very dry and light, with red currant fruit, excellent freshness and pleasant echo of tannin. Nicolas has managed to keep both alcohol (13%) and bottle price ($14.58) impressively low. Don’t overthink this cuvée and it wont let you down.

(case prices)

Chenin Mélodie 2019: $195
Indr & Loire 2018: $275
Jajavanaise 2018: $195
Rosé Arpège 2020: $175

Domaine des Sanzay

Saumur-Champigny, Loire Valley

At this moment many of you eagerly await the arrival of the Sanzay Saumur Rosé, a crisp, dry rosé made from pure Cabernet Franc. (If you missed this offering in March Futures, fear not – we’ve got some extra on its way across the pond.) We usually advance Sanzay’s Rosé to March Futures so it arrives in time for maximum summer enjoyment, but we’re pleased to offer two more wines from Sanzay in this issue — one white, and one red.

Sanzay’s flagship Saumur-Champigny rouge comes from 40 year old vines, and continues to impress us every time we open a bottle. We tasted some alongside a collection of other Central Loire reds a few weeks ago, and found it easily the most pleasant and drinkable… and the cheapest. We’re offering the 2019 red, as good as the 2018 if not better, and still a remarkable bargain. Made using organic viticulture techniques, this is exactly what you want Loire Cab Franc to be: pure, joyful, unoaked, and refreshing. Clean, juicy fruit bursts from the glass on the nose — think wild cherries and graphite. The mouth is clean, fruit forward, inky, and intense, with a bold and vibrant attack and a quick clean finish. Cool this down and bring it for an August afternoon picnic on the beach.

(Because of bottling and shipping schedules we haven’t had a chance to taste Sanzay’s fancier reds yet, but the samples are on their way. We’ll offer them later this year.)

It has been a few years since we offered Sanzay’s white, but it was too good this year to pass up. Sanzay’s “Coinçons” [kwen-sawn] is pure Chenin Blanc from 50 year old vines. It’s fermented with wild yeasts in large oak barrels, then aged in oak (half new) with regular lees stirring for the élevage. This sounds like a recipe for a rich buttery wine, but somehow it’s not. The oak is there, but it’s handled meticulously — like a white Burgundy made from Chenin. The nose shows quince, pear, toast, and earth; the mouth is dry and perfectly balanced between fruit, acid, and toast. Picture the shimmering golden fruit of a Meursault with the more exotic profile of pear and stones from the Loire. Serve with grilled swordfish or pan-seared scallops.

(case prices)

Saumur-Champigny rouge 2019: $195
Coinçons blanc 2019: $235

Domaine Martin-Luneau

Muscadet, Loire Valley

Part of the fun of importing wine is introducing customers to new regions, and none has been more rewarding than Muscadet. Perched at the mouth of the Loire River near the beautiful but mostly empty Atlantic coast, Muscadet probably wouldn’t even make a Top 10 list of famous wines from France. But it’s become so popular among our readers that we struggle to keep it in stock. All that’s needed to understand why is a cool glass on a warm summer evening.

Muscadet is made from Melon de Bourgogne, a grape varietal light in color and flavor. It’s raised without oak, and fermented completely dry — its complexity comes largely from the time (often 2-3 years) spent on the lees before bottling. For years most Muscadet was simple, one dimensional stuff that pleasantly performed its job of washing down fresh oysters, mussels, and clams. But the Sevre et Maine sub-region has long been known as a notch above, and in the last decade the very best terroirs have achieved formal recognition as Cru Muscadet. The new rules require the Cru wines to spend extra time on the lees, and they limit the terroir to particularly favored sites. In our view these Cru wines are well worth the extra effort to track down for the small additional cost.

We’ve also found that this style of Muscadet improves mightily with only a few extra years in the bottle, and so we were delighted to find last year’s wines – 2016 Gorges and 2016 Clisson – both still available. We’ll be replenishing our cellar with these supremely versatile wines, and we invite you to join us.

Our source for Cru Muscadet is the Domaine Martin Luneau, which owns fine terroir in two cru villages: Gorges and Clisson. Gorges lies on Granite soils, Clisson on Gabbro; and the different rock makes for different profiles not all that far apart. Both 2016 Cru wines in this offer have classic Muscadet fruit — pure, clean honeydew melon in the nose. Both wines integrate a beautiful salinity into the palate. In the mouth, the Gorges is a touch rounder and fatter, perhaps a bit softer. The Clisson shows a little more definition and linear precision — look for dry lemon peel and oyster shells. Gorges has a touch of yeastiness from the lees that Clisson does not. But these are subtle differences — you won’t go wrong with either.


(case prices)

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine “Gorges” 2016:   $195
Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine “Clisson” 2016:   $195

Cidrerie Ribaude

Pays d'Auge, Normandy

As Francophiles we get excited about many expressions of French terroir — wine, of course, but also cheese, butter, chickens, oysters, truffles, mustard. And so when we received samples of Normandy cider and perry recently, we jumped at the chance to taste them.

It’s too cold north of Paris to grow much in the way of grapes, but in Normandy and Brittany they’ve cultivated apples for centuries. With nearly 800 varieties planted across northern France, cidermakers craft their blends based on tannin, sweetness, bitterness, tartness and pH. Our new source is the Cidrerie Ribaude, located in the famous (as cider goes) AOC “Pays d’Auge.” The 9th generation is running the place these days, and we’re beginning with four of their excellent products.  (All of the Ribaude products come in 750 ml bottles)

First, Ribaude’s Organic Dry Cider, made from 30 apple varieties collected in two separate harvests — one in October, one in November. The apples are washed, crushed, and fermented with ambient yeasts. The fermentation takes two months, and reaches an alcohol of between 3 and 5%. The nose is floral and earthy, with notes of dried fruit and dried roses or daisies. The mouth is very dry, with a hint of tannin, relatively low acid, and a faint tartness — notes of black tea, leaves, baked apples, allspice, straw and almonds. (For those of you with long palate memories, this cider is drier and less funky than the one we brought in back in 2014.) Serve this with another Norman delicacy: carefully ripened Camembert.

Next, Ribaude also makes a Rosé cider, made from pink-fleshed apples. It’s not organic like the other cuvées but we found it terrific. It’s particularly well balanced — more tart than the Organic Dry, with both more fruit and more acid. The nose shows notes of ripe tart apples, spices, and orange peel. The mouth is crisp and refreshing, with less funk and a bit more fruit. It’s still not sweet, but not as bone-dry as the Organic Dry. Serve with appetizers at a late-summer dinner party, or with homemade crèpes at your next brunch.

The surprise of the collection was the Perry. Made just like cider but with pears instead of apples, Poiré is less common but no less tasty. Ribaude’s is a blend of 20 varieties, and its alcohol barely breaks 3%. There’s a bit more softness in the perry, but we’d still call it only barely off-dry. The nose is exuberant and delightful, with notes of caramel, pear tart, and baking spice. The mouth is fruity but also crisp and vibrant with nice acidity and notes of honey, herbs and apples. Serve this one with a goat cheese salad for lunch on a summer Sunday.

Ribaude is well known for their Calvados, but alas, the remnants of our Puritan ancestors’ ideology persist, and our license doesn’t cover the really strong stuff. But we’ve got a consolation prize: Pommeau. Pommeau is a blend of ⅔ unfermented apple juice and ⅓ calvados, which is then aged in oak barrels for 2-3 years; (think Port, but with apples). The resulting drink is like a cordial, about 18% alcohol, and usually served chilled in small glasses to begin or end a meal. We love Pommeau, and are excited to have it around the house again soon — we keep a bottle chilled in the fridge and serve it with or as dessert. We even add it to crémant from time to time as a Norman take on the kir. The Ribaude Pommeau is smoother than many we’ve found; the nose shows notes of baked apple, apricots, honey and dried flowers. The mouth is sweet, smooth and warm, with notes of almonds, tarte tatin, toffee, and wild cherries. Serve with blue cheese, foie gras, or camembert — but most perfectly, with an apple dessert.

(case prices)

Cidre Organic Dry: $120
Cidre Rosé: $120
Poiré: $120

Pommeau de Normandie: $240


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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.