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October Futures appears in the shadow of a huge increase in the US tariffs on wine imported from France. This is not the first time this year that our government has threatened extra taxes on French wine if France won’t bend its policies to US wishes. In July, when France enacted a tax on digital services, the same threat was made by tweet and later withdrawn the same way. This time the announcement follows a WTO decision having to do with European subsidies for airplanes. Grapes and wine had nothing to do with either dispute, but apparently that doesn’t matter. Will we be rescued by tweet again? We’re not counting on it.

As importers we regularly confront swings in the dollar/euro exchange rate, which can be as hard to predict as our President. Sometimes when the rates spike we absorb the difference, recognizing that from time to time we are helped rather than hurt by exchange moves. Right now there is a bit of a tailwind from the strong dollar. This retaliatory tariff swing, of course, is far larger than what we see in the exchange rate category, but with a bit of a gulp we have decided to absorb most of the impact of these threatened tariffs, at least for now.

As regular buyers know, we like to buy wine from our favorite producers in every vintage. Different vintages are like different members of the same family, and knowing each of them really deepens an understanding of the place from which they come. Our producers, of course, are no more responsible for aircraft subsidies or digital taxes than we are; and they need to work their vineyards in good times and bad. So we hope to stay the course with them and with you, assuming that we’re all in this for the long run. Therefore prices in this futures offering are pretty much they would have been without the punitive tariff. Light a candle for us.

On to happier thoughts. October 2019 Futures includes many of the wines we get most excited about. The 2017 wines from Michel Gros have a particular resonance for Wilcox père because he helped pick the grapes for them. Working the harvest there was like joining a family for an annual celebration. Not that it didn’t produce some achy joints and back muscles, but complaining seemed out of place when the team was full of pickers in their 70s and even 80s, many of whom had come to Vosne-Romanée for twenty, thirty, or even fifty consecutive years. In October Futures we’re also including the exciting Burgundies of Gautier Desvignes, a talented young winemaker from the Côte Chalonnaise whose wines have caught the attention of the wine press.

In white Burgundy, we have the second release of the Domaine Boyer-Martenot’s 2017s, this time with an additional year of cement-egg élevage. From the Loire, we feature pure, no oak sauvignon blanc from Frederic Michot. From the Southern Rhône, we offer reds of our longtime producer, the Domaine les Goubert; and from Bordeaux we offer red and white from Chateau Lafont Menaut. Finally, we’re introducing a new Champagne source we found last spring — a Côtes des Bar domaine with unusually good pricing. We hope there will be something here for every taste and budget.

Domaine Michel Gros

Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy

It’s never hard to say good things about the wines from the Domaine Michel Gros. Year after year they are best in class, as Michel employs the experience of more than forty vintages to coax the best each year from the world’s best terroir for Pinot Noir. Over the course of entertaining this summer, we sampled a wide range of Gros wines and vintages: simpler regional wines, village wines going back to 2005, and premier and grand crus from even earlier. Uniformly, the Gros wines showed complexity and interest that put them at the top of the range in every category. True, some are expensive, but if you’re looking for the best that Burgundy has to offer, this is a good place to go.

The Gros 2017s are excellent. Unlike many of the recent vintages, the 2017 growing season was an easy one, largely without damaging frosts, hail, or vineyard maladies, and the grapes arrived at maturity in excellent health. Wilcox père can certify that the picking went smoothly, without much interruption from showers and without much damaged fruit to be sorted out in the vineyards. (This relative cakewalk contrasts with the rainy and tricky harvest of 2013, when Wilcox fils made Ansonia’s first foray into les vendanges.) We expect the 2017 vintage to be approachable from the start, with the wines becoming open and accessible more quickly than in the average vintage. With Gros’s wines, of course, the issue is only one of timing. Those 2013s from Tom’s harvest wore their structure on their sleeves in the early years, but by now they have softened and integrated and show their terroir clearly and beautifully, becoming a true wine lover’s vintage.

We’ll begin with Michel’s only white wine, the 2017 Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits “Fontaine St. Martin” blanc. This lovely wine, from the same soils as the Hill of Corton, easily competes with more celebrated white Burgundies. The Chardonnay grapes are crushed and destemmed, then soaked overnight before the pressing and the beginning of a slow, cool fermentation, followed by an élevage in the same oak barrels as the reds. Allen Meadows (“Burghound”) found a “mildly toasty nose” and was impressed by its “round succulent, and slightly stony flavors,” its “unusually good volume,” and its “balanced and long” finish. This is delicious white Burgundy at a better price than most of its peers.

At the regional level, there are now four choices in red — Bourgogne from the Côte d’Or (featured in last Sunday’s post), Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits “Au Vallon,” and Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits “Fontaine St. Martin.” The Bourgogne Côte d’Or offers far more complexity than most reds at the Bourgogne level. There are silky tannins, notes of raspberry and plum, and an earthy, complex palate. Burghound found a “fresh and distinctly earthy nose,” and called the wine “supple, round and delicious.” The three wines from the Hautes Côtes will all have a bit more structure and potential for ageing than the Bourgogne. Burghound found the Hautes Côtes regular cuvée “nicely energetic,” with a “slightly finer” mouthfeel than the Bourgogne. Its fruits are a bit darker, and it will offer its best drinking a bit later than the Bourgogne. “Au Vallon” faces the south and so makes riper wine that will show roundness earlier than the regular Hautes Côtes cuvée; over the course of its life it will probably offer a bit more richness as well. Look for red cherry fruit with a low-tannin, cool earthiness. The “Fontaine St. Martin” rouge comes from those Hill-of-Corton soils that offer the promise of impressive mineral complexity. It is likely to peak later than the other regional wines from Gros, so if you like to hold your wine and watch it develop over time, this is your choice.

We have four Gros wines to offer at the village level: Nuits St. Georges, Morey St. Denis, Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanée. The latter two villages are among the most sought-after in Burgundy, and so the prices are noticeably higher than for the first two. But all four are delicious wines that you will be proud to serve to any wine-loving guests at any important dinner. (In fact, just last week we paired Michel’s Chambolle 09 with his Vosne 05 at a family Sunday dinner. We have pulled the corks on many fine bottles of wine in recent months, but this may have been the most impressive pairing of the year. Both wines were absolutely gorgeous and stunningly complex, with plenty of life ahead.)

Gros’s Nuits St. Georges “Les Chaliots” is from a single village vineyard in the heart of the appellation. Like most Nuits, it is more a wine of power more than finesse, with a toasty nose, beautiful dark fruit and a beef stock base. It’s an excellent match for any hearty dish, say a Daube Provençale or a pot roast; it also goes wonderfully well with strip steaks on the grill. This is not to say that the wine lacks subtlety — Burghound was impressed by its “vibrant medium-bodied flavors” and its “complex and lingering finish.” The 2017 Morey St. Denis “En la Rue de Vergy” is more precise and elegant, with a bit less weight than the Nuits. The Morey is usually the first of Gros’s village wines to drink really well, and we thought that this vintage had a particularly silky mouthfeel. Combined with the ripe and toasty nose, it should be showing well before long at all.

While Vosne-Romanée is uniformly hailed as “the greatest pinot noir village on earth,” its tiny neighbor Chambolle-Musigny is not far behind. Michel Gros’s Chambolle is at the village level, but more than half of his Chambolle vines are in a plot that abuts the great Grand Cru “Musigny.” This is an important difference, and we have always thought that tasted blind most professionals would guess the wine to be premier cru. The intensity, depth, and complexity are all a cut above. Like a premier cru, the wine needs more time to reach its peak, but it amply rewards keeping. The Vosne-Romanée is particularly lovely in 2017. Burghound found the nose “attractively ripe and exuberantly fresh,” with notes of red cherry, plum, dark raspberry and a variety of spice nuances. The mouthfeel is elegant and the long finish is particularly impressive. Burghound called it “very Vosne” and predicted that it would “drink well young or with age.”

Of course, Michel’s Vosne premier crus offer a level of complexity, length and elegance that exceeds his superb village level wines. The Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Aux Brûlées” lies on rocky soils right next to the Grand Cru Richebourg. It is always a big wine that needs time to show its character. Burghound noted that “wood frames the spicy aromas that are composed mostly by notes of cassis, violet and anise.” He found the flavors to “brim with minerality” and praised the “long and well-balanced finale.” He also noted: “some patience will be required.” Neal Martin of Vinous awarded 90-92 points, calling it “one of Gros’s better wines in 2017.”

The 2017 Vosne-Romanée Clos des Réas (the family’s flagship vineyard and the only 1er cru monopole in the appellation) is not likely to require quite as much time. As Jasper Morris MW has written, Réas is “supremely elegant” wine, that while approachable young “ages remarkably well.” When we tasted the wine a few months before bottling, it was rich and round, really quite beautiful. Your Clos des Réas will always be among the best bottles in your cellar, a great choice for those who like to stock bottles for special meals.

The Clos de Vougeot is the largest Grand Cru in the Côte de Nuits, with more than 80 owners. Its walls date to the 1300s, and unlike most Grand Cru vineyards, there is a wide variation in the quality of the terroir. The very best locations are at the top of vineyard, and Michel Gros’s vines are there, in the area called the Grand Maupertuis. When Michel takes people to see his vines in the Clos Vougeot, he tells them “I am the smallest landholder in this vineyard.” Apparently his father presented Michel with a few rows for his twelfth birthday. Michel had been hoping for a bicycle, and so was disappointed, but we should all be glad for the disappointment. Not only is the location as good as it gets, but his vines there are at their peak now. The only thing wrong with this wine is that there is so little of it — two barrels, or three in a generous year. For this wine, we’ll accept lots as small as 3 bottles. First come, first served.

(case prices)

HCDN “Fontaine-St-Martin” blanc 2017: $385

Bourgogne Côte d’Or 2017: $295
Hautes-Côtes de Nuits 2017: $350
HCDN “Au Vallon” 2017: $365
HCDN “Fontaine-St-Martin” rouge 2017: $395

Nuits-St-Georges “Chaliots” 2017: $695
Morey-St-Denis 2017: $695
Vosne-Romanée: $875
Chambolle-Musigny: $875

Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Aux Brûlées” 2017: $1,395
Vosne-Romanée 1er cru “Clos des Réas” 2017: $1,595

Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru 2017: $1,995

Propriété Desvignes

Givry, Burgundy

Our relationship with the Domaine Desvignes stretches back to our sabbatical year at the end of the 1990s. But the most significant event there took place just a few years ago when young Gautier Desvignes, the grandson of the winemaker we first dealt with, took the reins at the Domaine. In a remarkably short time he has transformed the place, greatly modernizing the facilities and vineyard practices and bringing about a dramatic improvement in the quality and consistency of the wine. The transformation has not gone unnoticed. A year ago Vinous’s Neal Martin reviewed Gautier’s wines and found them “really quite superb.” More recently the Wine Advocate’s William Kelley joined the parade, calling the domaine “very much a Côte Chalonnaise address to watch,” and advising that “importers looking for a potential future star should beat a path to his door.”

Other importers have indeed taken that advice, and we are glad to have seen the value there before all the fuss began. A good entry point to the wines of the Domaine is the 2017 Givry, which Kelley calls “a delicate, charming Givry adapted to near term consumption.” This medium-weight wine offers lovely cherry fruit in a supple body. It’s classic Burgundian Pinot Noir for drinking over the next few years.

Moving up to the Givry premier crus gets you wine with more body and a longer drinking window. We were impressed with the 2017 Givry 1er cru “Le Vernoy,” from a postage-stamp sized parcel off to the side of the Clos du Vernoy. The wine was a bit brighter than the other 1er crus, with a pleasant touch of bitters. Having tasted the 2016 “Le Vernoy” as we prepared these notes, we are confident that the freshness will serve it well and that the 2017 will round out into a lovely glass soon after it settles down from its voyage.

William Kelley gave his highest score to the 2017 Givry 1er cru “Clos Charlé” (92), finding that “aromas of cassis and cherries mingle with notions of grilled meats, licorice and rich soil.” In his view it was the “fleshiest, broad shouldered red in the range.” We too found the Charlé intense and complex, and think it will benefit from a bit of cellaring. The 2017 Givry 1er cru “Clos du Vernoy” is from the family’s monopole, which lies just behind the family’s home and winery. Kelley called that wine “a decided success,” and praised its “nicely concentrated core of fleshy fruit, succulent acids and powdery tannins.” We found the 2017 Clos du Vernoy’s fruit just a touch darker than that in the Clos Charlé, and were particularly impressed by the length of its finish.

All four reds from Givry offer precise, clear expressions of Pinot Noir. They may not match the finesse of Gros’s reds, but, particularly in 2017, they’re honest, accessible, and delightful. And they come with friendlier price tags as well.

Under Gautier, we also think the white wines worthy of your attention. At the village level, there is 2018 Givry blanc “Les Cheneves,” a very pure expression of Chardonnay with a nice balance between fruit and oak. In the 2017 Kelley found “notes of pear, white flowers and blanched almonds.” The 2018 Givry 1er cru blanc “Grand Vignes” is plenty rich and surprisingly easy in the mouth, reflecting the very ripe 2018 vintage. This wine will likely show very good complexity; look for some tropical fruit aromas to join the regular notes of Chardonnay.

(case prices)

Givry 2017: $285
Givry 1er cru “Le Vernoy” 2017: $325
Givry 1er cru “Clos du Vernoy” 2017: $350
Givry 1er cru “Clos Charlé” 2017: $350

Givry blanc “Chenevres” 2018: $325
Givry 1er cru blanc “Grandes Vignes” 2018: $375

Domaine Boyer-Martenot

Meursault, Burgundy

Vincent Boyer is a brilliant winemaker whom we used to think of as our secret. He took over winemaking at his family’s very fine properties in Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet a little more than a decade ago, and over that time has built the domaine’s reputation from an underperformer to a leading light of those storied appellations. With success like that, many might take their foot off the gas for a few years to enjoy the benefits of their enhanced reputation. Not Vincent Boyer. Instead he has moved forward with a significant innovation to the winemaking process, one that cost him half a year’s revenue. Vincent split the 2017 vintage in half, bottling the first part on the regular schedule — after an élevage of ten months or so in oak barrels. But the second half of the 2017 went into cement eggs for another year of élevage. Oxygenation stops during that period, but the shape of the vessels brings about a gentle, natural stirring of the lees that enhances the complexity and integration of the wine. Why do such a thing? As Vincent explained to us simply, “because the wine will be even better.”

It’s hard to see how his wine could get much better, but in fact when we tasted these 2017s “from the egg” in April they were just terrific. We enthusiastically recommend the second bottling therefore, and look forward to comparing the two bottlings in coming years. That is, of course, if we can keep our hands off them for that long. Commenting on Vincent’s new practices, Burghound called the split 2017s “a very promising start for the domaine.”

One way to judge the skills of a winemaker is to ask how good the petits vins are, and by that standard Vincent couldn’t be better. Aligoté is very much the secondary white grape in the Cote d’Or. Much of it is thin and harsh, best served by adding something to make a kir. Vincent Boyer transforms it into real white Burgundy, with plenty of weight and remarkable balance for a wine from such a modest origin. Burghound called Boyer’s 2017 Bourgogne Aligoté “vibrant, fresh, and utterly delicious.” It’s hard to think of another white Burgundy this good for the price.

Boyer’s village level wines are indeed something special. From Meursault, we have three wines to suggest. The first two are our usual choices: Ormeau from the flat near the village, and Narvaux from up on the slope, just above the premier crus. Each has its particular charms. Ormeau comes from the Domaine’s oldest vines, planted nearly a century ago in 1924. It is always big, opulent wine with lots of volume. The old vines provide plenty of complexity, though: Burghound found “white orchard fruit aromas that are laced with hints of tangerine peel, acacia blossom and jasmine tea.” Narvaux is from a higher vineyard, and so will show more energy and have a drier mouthfeel than Ormeau. Burghound singled Narvaux out as a “very impressive Meursault villages.” He noted its “classic Meursault nose comprised of notes of hazelnut, white orchard fruit and soft floral and citrus nuances,” as well as its minerality. To our usual suggestions we add the Cuvée Fernand Boyer, a blend from four parcels in Meursault. Burghound thought it “delicious,” noting “a subtle touch of matchstick character to the pretty and fresh nose that offers up notes of hazelnut, white peach, acacia blossom and citrus zest.” This wine may have a touch less depth than the other two village offerings, but it is $3 less per bottle.

At the premier cru level we have two egg-raised Meursaults to offer. Meursault 1er cru “Charmes” offers a step up in sophistication from the village level. The nose will have similar aromas to the village wines, but should offer more nuanced complexity over time — what Burghound called a “much finer and more sophisticated texture.” He also praised its “succulent but punchy finish.”

When people argue for a Meursault vineyard to be elevated to Grand Cru status, they most often pick Meursault 1er cru Perrières, which lies along the slope at the same elevation as Montrachet, and which produces wines of extraordinary longevity and stony complexity. Boyer-Martenot’s Perrieres 2017 is precise and clear, with solid doses of both fruit and minerality. It will need a few years to integrate, but all the elements of a great white Burgundy are there.

(case prices)

Aligoté 2017: $195

Meursault “Fernand Boyer” 2017 (egg): $650
Meursault “Ormeau” 2017 (egg): $685
Meursault “Narvaux” 2017 (egg): $685

Meursault 1er cru “Charmes” 2017 (egg): $1,095
Meursault 1er cru “Perrières” 2017 (egg): $1,295

Domaine les Goubert

Gigondas, Rhône Valley

We first visited the Domaine les Goubert in 1993 after reading high praise for its luxury cuvée, Gigondas Cuvée Florence. The cuvée was named for the child who now in her thirties has become the lead winemaker.  Though many years passed before we actually began importing wine, Goubert was one of our first stops when we began to look for wine in the Southern Rhône. The wines of Gigondas resemble those of Chateauneuf du Pape, its better known neighbor across the Rhône’s alluvial plain, but they come with friendlier prices and their own distinct charms. The Domaine les Goubert offers a whole range of delicious wines from the area, from a humble Côtes du Rhône to a hearty red from nearby Beaumes de Venise. For this offering, we have four suggestions.  

The Domaine’s Côtes du Rhône is a wine to keep on hand in quantity. The 2018 is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Brun Argenté, and its long list of grapes makes for a wine that is more interesting, with more character, than an everyday Côtes du Rhône. It is raised entirely in cement vats, which preserves the fruit and freshness. Relatively light in body, it matches effortlessly with a wide range of foods, from pizza to pasta to pork.

If you want more body but would prefer not to move up the price scale all the way to Gigondas, the Beaumes de Venise 2017 is a great choice. From an appellation best known for its fortified dessert wines, this hearty red comes into its own as the weather starts to cool. In it Carignan joins the usual suspects Grenache and Syrah. The wine spends ten more days in vinification than the Côtes du Rhône, followed by six more months of elevage. This yields a wine with plenty of body and the potential to improve over a few years. The nose is gorgeous and floral, with red juicy fruits and a pleasant chewiness in the mouth. It’s a very good choice for the price range.

Gigondas is the Domaine’s go to wine for cold weather. It will be richer, longer, and more complex than the Beaumes de Venises, and can be held for easily five to seven years. In addition to Syrah and Grenache, the wine contains Mourvedre, Cinsault and Clairette. The 2017 was raised for 18 months in cement vats. Look for the Syrah’s notes of violets in the nose of this wine, along with pepper and graphite in the mouth. We expect the wine to round out and become very expressive with a bit of time in the bottle. Goubert’s Gigondas remains one of the most popular and best buys in our cellar, and it’s not hard to see why.

Finally we’re re-offering Goubert’s Gigondas “Cuvée Florence” 2014. Extra time in the bottle always improves this wine, and over the year since we last offered it it has become even more enticing. Dark spices and chocolate now join the intense leathery fruits. The tannins have softened into a gorgeous mouthfeel; tasted blind we’d swear this was early-maturing Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Vinous’s Josh Reynolds awarded it 91-93 points, finding “dark berries, cherry pit, licorice, violet and a hint of cola on the deeply perfumed nose.”

(case prices)

Côtes du Rhône 2018:  $150
Beaumes-de-Venise 2017:  $195
Gigondas 2017:  $285
Gigondas “Cuvée Florence” 2014:  $495

Domaine Frederic Michot

Pouilly-Fumé, Loire Valley

Sauvignon blanc has gained a wide following in recent years, led by lots of well-made and inexpensive wine from New Zealand. With the ubiquity of this wine it is easy to forget that for decades the upper Loire was the source for the most celebrated Sauvignon blanc — in particular wine from the town of Sancerre. That town continues to produce excellent Sauvignon (in France they omit the word “blanc” from the grape name), and we import Sancerre ourselves. But the prices of Sancerre reflect that popularity. Pouilly-Fumé lies just around a bend up the river, about a kilometer or so from Sancerre; and while the quality can equal that of Sancerre, the prices more resemble those in the modest neighboring appellations of Quincy and Menetou-Salon. We are glad to have found an excellent source there.

Frederic Michot produces delicious Sauvignon in two cuvées from vines grown in Kimmeridgian marl and clay/flint soils. Both are terrific wines, dominated by a grapefruit nose and a dry mouthfeel. The old vine cuvée is a bit more refined and mouthfilling, showing a bit more minerality and a longer finish, as well as a touch of the gunflint for which wine grown on Silex is known. But both are clean, pure expressions of the grape, with ripe grapefruit married perfectly with vibrant freshness. Both of these well-priced wines match up with a wide range of dishes, from goat cheese to crustaceans; and serve equally well as an apéritif. In short, you can’t go wrong with either.

(case prices)

Pouilly-Fumé 2018: $175
Pouilly-Fumé VV 2018: $195

Chateau Lafont-Menaut

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Chateau Lafont Menaut joined our portfolio more than a dozen years ago as the result of a stroke of luck. Near the end of a tasting trip in Bordeaux, Ansonia père happened on a bottle of this Graves sitting on the sideboard at the restaurant in which he was dining. He learned from the sommelier that Chateau Lafont Menaut was in Pessac-Leognan and was the rejuvenation project of Philibert Perrin, whose family owns the famous Chateau Carbonnieux just down the road. (Along with Haut Brion and d’Yquem, Carbonnieux was one of a handful of Chateaux that Thomas Jefferson visited when he was in Bordeaux). The wine was exceedingly well-priced and proved delicious, and so found its way into the next importation. It has been a part of the Ansonia portfolio ever since.

The grapes in the rouge are a classic left-bank blend: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and a soupçon of Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon contributes structure and its own distinctive flavors, while the Merlot adds fleshiness. The wine stands up well to the oak barrels in which it is raised and provides excellent drinking soon after it arrives here.

After the Loire, Bordeaux is the other principal region offering white wine from Sauvignon, and Lafont-Menaut makes a small quantity of the wine. It’s different from the Sauvignon of the Loire valley in that it’s barrel raised like the white wines of Chateau Carbonnieux (which is even better known for its white than for its red). This élevage allows for an evolution in which the fruit becomes a bit less exuberant than in the vat-raised Sauvignon of the Loire. It shares the stage with the oak and becomes a wine that shows its best at the table. Look for the herbal, savory side of Sauvignon blanc here. While we might pair a Pouilly-Fumé with fresh goat cheese, we might pick this white to sip alongside a harder cheese like a Brebis from the nearby Basque region or a well-aged goat Gouda.

Both wines are priced to drink early and often, and are a great choice for everyday red Bordeaux.

(case prices)

Pessac-Leognan rouge 2017: $235
Pessac-Leognan blanc 2018: $235

Domaine Jacques Robin

Bar-sur-Seine, Champagne

And finally, in part because it has mysteriously escaped the wrath of our tariff-wielding leader, some new bubbles. For as Winston Churchill once proclaimed about Champagne, “in victory you deserve it; in defeat you need it.”

We’re pleased to introduce a new source for grower Champagne: the Domaine Jacques Robin. Most Champagne, including our primary source Pascal Bardoux, comes from the three main subregions: Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, and Vallée de la Marne. But Robin is in the increasingly popular Côte des Bar, a southern satellite subregion of Champagne about half way between Reims and Dijon.

The Côte des Bar is known for its Pinot Noir cuvées, and both Robin Champagnes we’ve selected are pure Pinot Noir. The soils of this region are the same Kimmeridgian mixture as nearby Chablis — a blend of chalk, limestone, and clay, rather than the chalk-limestone of the rest of Champagne. The addition of clay gives the wines a broader mouthfeel than those from northern Champagne, and we found the Robin wines delightfully rich on the palate.

Our first suggestion is the Champagne “Secret de Sorbée,” a non-vintage cuvée of Pinot Noir. It’s fermented partially in barrel and left on the lees for over two years. The resulting wine is toasty and fresh with lovely apple fruit and floral notes. The Guide Hachette awarded a star, and called it “at once round and tart,” with a “pleasant, intense fruit expression.” With a price tag under $35/bot this is a Champagne to enjoy without reservation.

For a more serious cuvée, consider Robin’s 2007 vintage Champagne “Kimmeridgienne,” also from pure Pinot Noir. This wine will please those with a taste for evolution in their Champagne. After sitting on the lees for a remarkable ten years, this special cuvée was disgorged only recently. We found beautiful notes of caramel and brioche in the nose, with fine freshness balancing the warm, enveloping fruit flavors. The Guide Hachette again awarded a star, calling it “gourmand and harmonious,” with notes of “candied fruits, plum, hazelnut, jam, and smoke.” At less than $60/bot in Futures, we think this cuvée is also a steal. (Quantities quite limited; first come, first served.)

(case prices)

Champagne “Secret de Sorbée” NV: $450
Champagne “Cuvée Kimméridgienne” 2007: $695

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, OCTOBER 27.

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.