Les Vignobles de Jacques Blanquette de Limoux ($15.99)
From the producer:
"Blanquette de Limoux was created in 1531 in the cellars of the Benedictine Saint Hilaire Abbey when a monk discovered that the wine that he had bottled and carefully corked formed bubbles, after a second fermentation. The first sparkling wine in the world had just been invented in this splendid abbey.
Known as BLANQUETTE for the fine white coating which forms on its leaves, the Mauzac of the Blanquette appellation is the traditional grape variety of the Limoux vineyard. It distinguishes itself by its aromas of green apple, acacia flowers and apricot with toasted nuances. This Blanquette is perfect as an aperitif or with an entrée like marinated salmon.
Grapes : 90 % Mauzac, 10% Chardonnay
We realize that protecting the landscape is very important as well as respecting the biological diversity and we always tried to minimize the treatments. For each of our vines we apply the method of reasoned agriculture by observing the vineyard every day and with the help of a professional technician we know how to use treatments only if it’s really necessary. On the other hand we choose only products that help in protecting the soil : for example we only use organic fertilizer."
I love the idea that this is the original sparkling wine in France, but that it's a fraction of the cost of Champagne. This Blanquette de Limoux is one more wine in the shop that represents my interest in indigenous varietals and in winemakers who seek to explore older styles and techniques. The wine is fresh, bright, and perfect for a summer toast.
Champagne Rene Marie Catel Blanc de Noirs ($31.99)
From the importer:
"Varieties : Pinot Noir 100%
Vinification : Traditional
Aging Bottle: 24-month
Radiant nose, revealing white-fleshed fruits (apple, pear, peach white), citrus (lemon) and floral nuances. Ample in the mouth, combining generosity and subtlety. Full, fresh and crisp.
Coming from families who have been growing grapes in Champagne since 1710, René and Marie-Noelle Dautel started producing their own champagne in 1971. Sylvain Dautel, their son, is now in charge of the vineyard located in Loches-Sur-Ource, a small village in the heart of Côte des Bars. Sylvain is perpetuating the tradition of his ancestors, using environmental friendly practices to create the most delicate, yet intense Champagnes. Cuvée René-Marie Catel is a rare Brut Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), aged for two years on lees before disgorgement."
This wine is incredible value for money. It's a grower Champagne (the people who own the vineyards make the wine), it's 100% Pinot Noir, it drinks like a dream, and it's under $35. This kind of bargain is very hard to find in Champagne, and it is thanks to the source of this product: Côte des Bar in the far south of the region. This used to be considered a second-rate area of Champagne, but in the last decade it has become more prominent, and a place in which winemakers aren't afraid to think outside the box. Read Wine Folly's excellent blurb about it here.
Domaine Octavie Touraine ($15.99)
Loire Valley, France
From the producer:
"Isabelle and Noë Rouballay represent the 5th generation since 1885, succeeding on the family farm to convey the passion for wine. The 30 hectares of vines are located on the renowned terroir of the town of Oisly: the terroir of choice for Sauvignon [Blanc]. The beautiful harmony of sands and flint clay gives wines of character, aromatic, warm and rich in matter.
Passionate, Isabelle and Noë work in respect of the environment according to the specifications of Terra Vitis.
The regular monitoring of the soil and the vine makes it possible to harvest the grapes at an optimal maturity and to express at best the typicity of the varietal. Controlled yields and careful attention to winemaking justify this constant search for optimal quality, using all the advantages of the current technique.
Grape variety: 100% SAUVIGNON
The specialty of Domaine Octavie. This prince of white grape varieties, gives a dry and fine white wine. The bright golden-yellow color with gold highlights opens up to an expressive nose that combines the smells of citrus with notes of white flowers and mineral nuances. The open-faced mouth offers a nice balance with a soft and fresh material and a good aromatic typicity that is revealed on white fruits (peach). This beautiful Touraine delicate and harmonious, served at 8/10 ° with asparagus, seafood, fish and goat cheeses is to drink within 3 years.
GOLD MEDAL at the Mondial du Sauvignon Competition 2019
GOLD MEDAL at the Concours des Vignerons Independants 2019
SILVER MEDAL at the Concours Général Agricole 2019
LIGER DE BRONZE at the Wine Competition of the Val de Loire 2019"
If you love Sancerre, but don't like paying $20+ for a bottle, or if you love Sauv Blanc, but you've only had it from New Zealand, this is the wine for you to try. Crisp, citrus, mineral--perfect for summer!
Jean-Marie Reverdy et Fils "La Villaudiere" Red Sancerre ($22.99)
Loire Valley, France
From the producer:
Planted 40 years ago, our vines are now reaching the pinnacle of their quality potential. 50% is planted in clay-limestone soil locally referred to as «Terres Blanches» and 50% in dry, stony limestone soil called «Caillotes.» Vines on all plots are disbudded and have the leaves thinned. The grapes enjoy ideal conditions for ripening in the summer. We take regular samples of grapes before the harvest to determine the optimum time for picking.
After rigorous sorting, the grapes go directly into tank. A few days cold maceration is then carried out. The cap is kept deliberately submerged. This technique results in a light, fruity wine. The grapes are then pressed and made ready for malolactic fermentation. Following a few months’ ageing on the lees in stainless steel tanks, stabilization and clarification operations are carried out ready for bottling.
With a strong garnet hue with crimson highlights, this wine opens with a bouquet which is a delectable blend of ripe red fruits (blackcurrant, blackberry). Supple on entry, with noticeable maturing tannins on the finish, the wine confirms the elegance of this light, fruity Sancerre on the palate.
Food-wine matching is important. A successful pairing turns a meal into a hospitable and enjoyable occasion. Served between 12 to 14°C, this red Sancerre goes perfectly with white meat, small game or cheese."
RED Sancerre? Oui. It's Pinot Noir. It's light, elegant, completely different than what you've had from California, Oregon, or even Burgundy. This is a perfect summer red.
Mas Becha Roussillon ($19.99)
From the producer:
"This cuvee is based on a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre, which has gone through extended berry maceration to give it a more powerful structure. Depending on the vintage requirement, it is aged in oak barrels for 8 to 10 months. This period of maturation in barrel softens the tannins to their silky texture and makes for a richer structure. The color and its intensity are always relatively pronounced. This wine features a very deep violet red color with a few blue notes in its youth.
The nose shows a beautiful complexity, showing its grape maturity through notes of very ripe black fruits, blueberry and blackcurrant jam, while allying the complexity obtained from its barrel aging through highlighting touches of vanilla, and elegant, lingering wood. The mouth is generous and full, and relatively well concentrated, under- lined by a touch of nerve, which raises fruity notes such as strawberries and ripe raspberries. The natural generosity from its Mediterranean origin gives a beautiful dimension and roundness in the mouth. The ageing softens its tannins, giving them a sweet dimension and making the wine explosive as well as pleasing to drink.
Wine & food pairing : Its aromatic spontaneity and its generous mouth are a sensation to enchant your friends around a glass of wine, but its capabilities are just as able to rejoice your guests with beautiful meat cuts. I favor duck with a cherry jam, a long cooked lamb leg confit or simply a grilled T-bone. Serving temperature : 15 to 17°C
Ageing potential : Even if the pleasure this wine gives is immediate, this cuvee offers a real ageing potential. It should delight your palate for 7 to 10 years."
I was lucky to welcome Charles Perez, the winemaker, to the store last year. He is young and interested in making wines with little intervention that express the terroir of Rousillon in southern France. This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenach, and Mourvedre, and it has a wonderful earthy balance to the dark red fruit tones.