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Filtering by Tag: Loire

Dom. de la Pépière Muscadet Clisson

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There's been a lot of recent hype about Marc Olivier's Muscadet Clisson. For good reason. His 2010 vintage is truly as good as it gets for Muscadet, combining the crisp and focused pleasantries of Melon de Bourgogne with the the hard-edged, mouth-ripping minerality of Clisson's low-lying granite soils. Clisson is a city just southwest of Nantes, around which the Muscadet appellations are centered. It's soils drain quickly, leaving too little water for thirsty grape vines, making the vines dig deeper and deeper into the subsoils and developing crazy complexities for the fruit in the process. If you've had the wines of Domaine de la Pépière in the past, you know to expect quality and refreshment. But even us seasoned veterans of these wines have been blown away by the potential of the 2010 Clisson. It's aged 2 years on lees, supplying ample richness to balance the puckering acidity. Salty, citrusy, lean, vivacious—you'll want to take this one to bed, or at least wake up next to it in the morning.

Wine Terroirs has a great lengthy article on Marc Olivier and the Pépière project in general. The NY retailer Crush recently wrote a love letter to the wine. Get it, hold it, build a shrine. 2010 Muscadet Clisson is a shining example of what real wine can be—thirst quenching, radiant & transportive.

Pepiere Clisson Muscadet

The Wines

Domaine de la Pépière "Clisson" Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Clisson 750ml — $25 1.5L — $50

Vive Vouvray!

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In late June, hail the size of hen's eggs swept across the regions of Chinon and Vouvray in the central Loire Valley of France. The storm came quickly in the night, catching farmers off-guard. By dawn the devastation was clear. Dozens of estates suffered critical losses. It's a harsh reminder of an often overlooked but essential point: wine is an agricultural product, and drinking wine (to modify a Wendell Berry quote) is an agricultural act. No one was hit worse than vigneron François Pinon, who lost 100% of his crop. His vines were stripped of their grapes and even, in some places, their canopy and cane growth. It's insult to injury for Pinon, who got hit extremely hard last year as well.

Josefa Concannon, representative with U.S. importer Louis/Dressner Selections, told me this in an email: "In 2012 [François] lost most of his crop to hail and frost and was only able to make a small amount of his sparkling wine." And next year looks hardly better. The damage to the vines from this year's storm was so severe it will inhibit yields through 2014, even if Pinon is blessed with improved weather.

With any business model, agricultural or otherwise, three straight years of little-to-no revenue would be an existential threat. With vignerons—farmers who own the land, tend the vines and make the wine themselves—whose product is based  on achieving high quality through decades of meticulous care and years of bottle aging, overcoming such hardship seems nearly impossible. Especially considering the small production and relatively low cost of the wine. To be fair, I'm holding out hope. And the folks at Louis/Dressner are hoping to take action.

Concannon went on to say, "We have not yet heard much about how things stand but we are trying to get some of his library wines such as the molleaux, and offer them... as a fundraiser."

In recent history, François Pinon's wines have been widely praised as exemplars of Vouvray; they've certainly been a favorite at this shop for many years. Just this week we received shipment of two of his wines from a previous vintage. We're hoping it's not the last we see of this modern classic.

Taste François's wines Saturday from 3 to 5. Support a struggling farmer. Drink Vouvray!

The Wines

François Pinon Vouvray Brut Non Dosé—$20 Super dry with a hint of waxy richness from extended lees contact. Sparse fruit profile: quince, pear, wet stone.

François Pinon Vouvray "Les Trois Argiles" 2010—$20 A delicate sweetness in the approach gives way to spicy, citrusy flavors with power and length.

*Note: If you'd be interested in buying older vintages of Pinon as part of the Louis/Dressner fundraiser, please let us know and I'll pass it along. While it's only an idea at this point, an early show of support can't hurt.

Èric Chevalier

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Èric Chevalier is an unlikely hero. When he took over his father's estate in 1995, he did so reluctantly. Slowly, over the past two decades, Èric has begun to embrace his fate and allowed his passion to grow. Today he makes some of the most exciting wines in all the Nantais. And with his first vintage of Grolleau rosé 2013 looks to be his year. Chevalier

Chevlier's wines have impressed us here in the shop, year over year, by their deceptively simple focus and their nervy character (read: brightly acidic with an intensity of fresh fruit and refreshment).

Before, it's been all about the whites. We always get a few cases of his delicious, if oddball, Chardonnay. Ditto his Muscadet, a perennial staple. But this is the first time he's made the little gem of a rosé wine from a "widely planted though little recognized" grape called Grolleau. Wine Grapes tells us that it ain't easy to create "the relatively pale, light-bodied, supple, expressive, red-fruited" wines like this exemplar. Consider M. Chevalier a natural then, because his first crack is a masterpiece of freshness that leaves me wanting more, and more, and more...

 

The Wines of Èric Chevalier

Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu sur lie — $15 Grolleau Rosé 2012 — $16

Free tasting, Saturday April 27 | 3-5pm

 

 

Domaine de la Chanteleuserie

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To many, it's an obscure outpost of obsolescence. For the willing, however, Bourgueil offers some of the most precise, price-friendly and powerful reds in all of the Loire. Domaine de la Chanteleuserie is one of the best examples available. This from acclaimed importer Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant:

Bourgueil is among the most age-worthy of the Loire Valley’s reds, and the wines from Domaine de la Chanteleuserie are no exception: their 1976 still drinks well today! Despite their structure, these wines have a suppleness and generosity of fruit that set them apart from most wines produced in the area...

The name Chanteleuserie means something like "place where the larks sing." It's a poem of a name, upbeat but mysterious, evocative of all that is important to the vigneron: the land and the vines and the joy of wine. The domaine makes 100% varietal wines from Cabernet Franc. Yields are kept low and the southern exposure of the hillside vines (most of which are more than 40, some which are up to 80 years old) provides perfect conditions to express the Bourgueil terroir.

Along the road to understanding wine, Bourgueil may seem like a detour at first. But from experience I can promise, once there you'll stay for days.

For technical information, visit the Domaine de la Chanteleuserie section of the Kermit Lynch website.

The Wines

Domaine de la Chanteleuserie "Cuvée Beauvais" — $18 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie "Cuvée Alouettes" — $16 (OUT OF STOCK)

La Pépière

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4 Things You Might Not Know About Muscadet

As proprietor and vigneron at La Pépière, Marc Olivier takes his time. He takes pride in the long history of Muscadet, the wines that have made him famous throughout the world. He harvests all his grapes by hand, uses only natural yeasts for fermentation, and waits until the wine becomes ready on its own before bottling. It's a rarity these days in a appellation where most producers have turned increasingly to mechanized and industrialized production.

To honor Mssr. Olivier, I thought I'd lay out a few broadstrokes about the people, places and wines of his homeland.

1.  It's a Wine, Not a Grape Although the word Muscadet sounds a little like Muscat or Moscato, it bears little resemblance to the two latter terms, which are wine grape varietals that tend to be made into sweet wines. Muscadet is the name of a wine from a growing region centered around the city of Nantes along the Atlantic coast of France. The wines there are made with a grape called Melon de Bourgogne and are typically very dry with a crisp minerality.

2.  Fish Out of Water The Muscadet appellation is part of the greater Loire Valley, a region better known for its Sauvignon Blanc (white) and Cabernet Franc (red). Muscadet is different for historical rather than geographical reasons: the old province of Brittany, where Muscadet is made, developed an early wine culture independently from its inland neighbors in Anjou, where Loire wine is at its most prominent.

3.  Pearly Whites Maybe it's a product of my upbringing on the Atlantic Coast, but cold weather months find me craving cold water oysters, and absolutely nothing washes down fresh oysters quite like a glass of Muscadet. It's one of those quintessential pairings, one that really shows off the potential of a flavor combination which, if done right, is much more than the sum of its parts.

4.  Boom Town Muscadet is a modern, commercial success story for French wine. From the 1970s to the current era, the appellation has more than doubled its production. That has led to some dubious practices though, which makes old-school vignerons like Marc Olivier all the more valuable for those of us who love these delicate wines.

These are two exemplars of the style from Domaine de la Pépière. We just got the new vintages and they're as beautiful as ever.

Domaine de la Pépière — $14

Pépière's base-level Muscadet offering is a shining light in the world of affordable, everyday wines. It's good all the time: on it's own, with a light meal, in summer and winter. Made from vines that are more than 40 years old and are original to the property—Olivier is the only farmer/producer in the region without clones from other estates.

La Pépière "Clos des Briords" — $16

This was the first cuvée Olivier made beyond the base-level Domaine wine. It is made from a single plot of vines, the oldest on his estate at 80+ years, where the topsoil is much deeper and contains a more clay than elsewhere. The terroir of this wine makes it one of the boldest, most robust Muscadets made today. Pure delight.