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 is among the famous galets roulés, (pictured above). Another third is in alluvial sandy soils, and the rest is spread among red and brown soils rich in pebbles and calcium.
The Clos du Joncuas might be the most exciting recent find in our portfolio. Based in Gigondas in the Southern Rhône, sisters Dany and Carol Chastan learned their craft from their parents and grandparents, and have themselves been farming organically for 40 years.
Chenin blanc has an enormous range of expression. It can be anywhere from bone dry to very sweet depending on vintage, terroir, and winemaker. Vouvray is the original source for Chenin Blanc, but the surrounding towns in the central Loire Valley produce excellent examples as well.
Most of Burgundy’s vineyards lie in a North-South line between Dijon and Lyon. Chablis is the exception – this satellite region sits an hour and a half northwest of the rest of Burgundy. Culturally, Chablis has been part of Burgundy for over 500 years, but geographically it’s a world apart.
The Loire Valley continues to be the epicenter of natural winemaking in France. We’ve found ourselves opening more and more Loire Valley wines recently, whatever the occasion. Organic viticulture, balanced wines, and affordable prices have all become the default in the Loire, a trend we celebrate enthusiastically.
Thomas Morey is a master of subtlety. Even amid a regional trend towards more tension and less opulence, Morey’s wines stand out as studies in understatement. His family has lived in Chassagne-Montrachet since 1643, and his father Bernard’s wines were considered a reference point for the town. But Thomas’s brand is unmistakable and unique.
Climate change has affected many aspects of winemaking in France. Most changes have proven challenging, such as spring frosts, hailstorms, and overripeness. But others have been beneficial. For instance, in Burgundy the malady-prone Pinot Noir vines have become healthier in warmer, drier weather. (See our Ansonia Journal article for more on climate change and winemaking.)
The Loire River is the longest in France, and the valley that surrounds it is home to the country’s most diverse winemaking region. The Loire Valley produces just about every type of wine there is — sweet, dry, sparkling, still, traditional, modern, and in every hue imaginable.
In the dozen years since he took over his family’s domaine, Romain Collet has elevated its reputation as fast as any new generation we’ve witnessed. We’ve noticed it ourselves, but we’re not alone — writers from Vinous, Burghound and Robert Parker have noted a “higher level of refinement” and a “significant upsurge in quality.” Jasper Morris MW writes that Romain Collet “is moving towards joining the pantheon” in Chablis.
In just over a decade, winemaker Romain Collet has turned his family’s reliable if unremarkable domaine into one of the very best sources in Chablis. With a focus on lower sulfur, a transition to organics, and modernized cellar practices, the domaine has begun to realize its full potential. The wine press has taken notice too; William Kelley finds “a lot to admire here,” and Jasper Morris recently opined that Romain Collet “is moving towards joining the pantheon in Chablis.”
Praise continues to pour in for the Domaine Patrick & Christophe Bonnefond. Their Northern Rhône reds are pure syrah, and display an exquisite balance of texture, fruit, subtlety and depth. The wines continue to improve each year — Josh Raynolds of Vinous declared his tasting this year “the single most impressive set of bottlings I have had here.”
Not far from the mouth of the Loire, where France’s longest river meets the windswept Atlantic coast, sits the appellation of Muscadet. For centuries its signature product – a classic, bone-dry white wine – has appeared by the carafe in the oyster bars of Paris, London, and New York. It’s refreshing, abundant, and inexpensive — a perfect glass to wash down a plate of crustaceans.
As hot, dry summers become the norm across much of France, winemakers in the south in particular are constantly in search of freshness for their wines. Some have adjusted viticulture techniques, others have altered their blends to re-balance freshness.
“Oak is good… but wine is better.” That’s how one of our vignerons answered a question a few years ago about how he uses oak. We know what he means, and we still see too many winemakers fall into the trap of overoaking.
Patrick and Christophe Bonnefond’s wines somehow keep getting better. They’ve enjoyed a string of excellent recent vintages in the vines, but they also seem to be hitting their stride in the cellar. Once firmly in the ripe, oaky, “extroverted” camp that made them a darling of Robert Parker, the domaine has shifted towards subtler expression in recent years: less time in oak, larger barrels, and earlier harvests.