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2013 PORTFOLIO TASTING


The loire From its humble beginnings southwest of Lyon (in an area not far from the Northern Rhone) to where it gently glides out to sea in the Atlantic, the Loire river cuts through some of the most diverse and complex soil structures of any wine region in the world. As it slowly moves north through the C么te Roannaise just west of Beaujolais, it passes sand and clay banks on which old vines of Gamay and Pinot Noir are planted, picking up bits of earth for the journey. As it passes Sancerre and Pouilly it scratches out limestone and flint from the hillsides and carries these deposits to the Southwest as it makes the turn for Vouvray. There, bits of tuffeau chalk fall away into the current and are swept downstream toward Bourgueil where the sandy marl of the hillsides waits. Under the Saumur castle, it turns north again on the way to Angers. At Savenni猫res, it takes more work to wrestle deposits of schist from the rocky hills, but occasionally the Loire succeeds, moving these downstream toward the sea. Around Nantes, as a sort of farewell present, the earth gives up bits of granite and gneiss to the fleuve. And then it is gone, mingling with the salty depths of the Northern Atlantic as it has for centuries.! ! From a historical perspective, the Loire is as rich a region as almost any area in Western Europe. The armies of Julius Caesar conquered most of it in 52 BC. The Vikings made a stab at it a few hundred years later. The English ruled parts of it at various points in history (sometimes because of marriage and sometimes at the point of a sword). Imposing fortresses were built on high points along the river to keep the good guys in and the bad guys out (like the Chateau de Clisson above).


The loire French kings, because of love, lust, pursuit of power, the occasional midlife crisis, or, more frequently, just plain old royal showboating, built glorious gleaming white chateaux for themselves and their courts throughout the Loire. And such is the powerful irony of this region; the Loire is essentially a rural, agrarian river valley of poor farming villages dotting the landscape, which is occasionally interrupted by displays of extravagant wealth and privilege. The Loire was the playground of French kings in much the same way that Marie Antoinette's peasant village at Versailles allowed her to "play" peasant. Kings went here to hunt, "farm", and eat of the fat of the land.! ! And everyone, from Romans to royals and from priests to parishioners, planted vines. ! ! From a viticultural perspective, the Loire is a multifarious grouping of wine regions. Yes, most of the appellations are within a few miles of the Loire river itself but that is often the only thing that binds them together. Although Sancerre is as close to the Loire river as any appellation, it really has more in common with Burgundy (Chablis in particular) than it does with the rest of the Loire. The former ocean bed that makes up much of the soil in this region is from the same period as that of the great Grand Cru hillsides of Chablis or the Kimmeridgian foothills of the Aube. ! ! Muscadet is another good example. The solid granite mass that lies just inches or feet below the vines is part of the massive granitic mountain chain that is the bedrock of Brittany, not most of the Loire valley. It is part of the Loire in wine-speak because, well, there's a river nearby called the Loire. The Fièfs VendÊens, a scattering of vineyard parcels within sight of the Atlantic ocean, is made up of pink slate and quartz which is found virtually nowhere else in the Loire. Why is it part of the Loire? Because it's faster to get to Angers than it is to Bordeaux. !


The loire But in spite of all of these differences, there is a sense of purity to the wines of the Loire that is difficult to explain. Perhaps it's the cold or the fact that much of the vineyard soil is basically 90% rock with a little dirt holding it together or maybe it's some combination of these and other things. But the fact remains that wines from the Loire have a purity and precision that have made them special for centuries. ! The river has spawned vineyards that produce the greatest diversity of wines anywhere in France, and perhaps in the world. These are wines, when produced from older vines and crafted by artisans, that define elegance and restraint in the glass. These are wines that stay in the background, waiting to be noticed, and when they are, they make us wonder why we never tasted them before. These are wines that deserve to be tasted by lovers of wine. These are wines that I love.


Table 1

| MICHEL DELHOMMEAU MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE

Brittany, parts of Normany, and the western part of the Loire valley are essentially built on a foundation of cooled lava and magma. Over millions of years this lava has metamorphosed into many kinds of geological structures. The most common in the Loire is granite, and in Muscadet, it’s everywhere. Vineyards are carved out of its hard surface and the hallmark minerality that it helps to produce makes Muscadet one of the great white wines of the world. In one village in the Muscadet region, Monnières, this cooled lava didn’t change into granite. Instead, it stayed in relatively unchanged fashion and today is called gabbro. It is one of the purest forms of molten magma as it is formed underground, and without an espcape route, turns crystalline. Michel and Nathalie Delhommeau, a young couple making some of the most crystalline Muscadets you can find, own 27 hectares of vines planted on this gabbro. Some of their holdings are old vines planted before World War II. The property, which is in conversion to organic certification, is one of the few in the region to vinify by parcel and use indigenous yeast. The wines here are simply made but not simple. There is no wood aging. There is very little lees stirring. There are no fancy techniques. The grapes are harvested, they are gently crushed, they ferment naturally, and then they take a long winter’s nap until March. It is, above all, the gabbro that is the loudest voice in this conversation. Recently Michel and Nathalie have started buying small amounts of vines on other soils types like the hard granite of Monnières Saint Fiacre and Clisson which they will separate out into new cuvées. These, along with the higher-end current wines, will spend a longer time in tank to help develop the structure before bottling.


Table 1

| MICHEL DELHOMMEAU MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE “SAINT VINCENT” 2012 100% Melon de Bourgogne from gabbro and gneiss soils in the village of Monnières. Fermented and aged in tank until the first week of March after harvest. Small amount of lees stirring.

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE “HARMONIE” 2012 100% Melon de Bourgogne from dense gabbro soils (and a single clos) in the village of Monnières. Fermented and aged in tank until the first week of March after harvest. Small amount of lees stirring.

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE “CLOS ARMAND” magnum 2011 100% Melon de Bourgogne from a single clos of old vines on gabbro in the village of Monnières. Fermented and aged in tank at least 9 months and then 6 months in bottle before release. Small amount of lees stirring.

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE “CLOS ARMAND” magnum 2010

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE MONNIERES SAINT-FIACRE 2009 100% Melon de Bourgogne from 45+ year old vines in the villages of Monnières and Saint Fiacre. One of the new “crus” of Muscadet. Produced from vines on gneiss soils. Fermented in tank and aged for at least 30 months on its lees before bottling.


Table 2

| DOMAINE DE LA FRUITIERE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE

Granite rock was used for centuries to build the massive fortresses that dot the landscape of Muscadet. Its density and structure were rarely breached by arrow, cannonball, or the good ‘ole medieval siege. Because of its density and the fact that it is everywhere in Muscadet, its unclear why anyone would think that this was the place to plant hectares and hectares of vines. That’s what riverbeds are for, right? Well, the Romans might have gotten a few things wrong in France (see the 1st century BC through the 5th century AD for reference) but they did get something right: they planted a ton of grapevines on this lunar rock of a landscape. Today, this area is called Muscadet and is home to over 8,000 hectares of vines of Melon de Bourgogne. Domaine de la Fruitière farms over 40 hectares of this and produces both Muscadet Sèvre et Maine as well as Vin de Pays from grapes such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Regardless of the varietal, the vines are planted on rock, and in most cases, sheer cliffs of rock through which the roots have to bury for meters for any hydric source. The vines, and the wines, are fed by water that is awash in wet rock. It’s not a big shock that the wines smell and taste more like rock and minerals than fruit or flowers. Combine this with the cold Atlantic breezes and you’ve got an amazing cool climate, high cut, precise bottle of white wine. The Lieubeau family owns the domaine and takes great care to vinify the wines according to exposition, density of granite, and harvest date. Domaine de la Fruitière is certified Terra Vitis (a rarity in Muscadet) and keeps yields as low as possible to produce wines that express the varietal and not just acid. These are delicious, vibrant wines that are easily among the best values in the book.


Table 2

| DOMAINE DE LA FRUITIERE MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE “PETIT M” 2012 100% Melon de Bourgogne from granite and gneiss soils in and around the village of Chateau-Thebaud. Fermented and aged in tank until the first week of March after harvest. VDP DE LOIRE-ATLANTIQUE “LES VIGNES BLANCHES” 2012 50% Melon de Bourgogne, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc from granite and gneiss hillsides in Chateau-Thebaud. Fermented and aged in tank for at least 5 months before release.

VDP DE LOIRE-ATLANTIQUE “LES VIGNES BLANCHES” 2011

VDP DE LOIRE-ATLANTQUE CHARDONNAY 2012 100% Chardonnay from dense granitic soils in Chateau-Thébaud. Fermented and aged in tank for at least 5 months before release. Unoaked, mineral Chardonnay.

VDP DE LOIRE-ATLANTQUE CHARDONNAY 2011

MUSCADET SÈVRE ET MAINE CRU CHÂTEAU THEBAUD “L’AULNAYE” 2007 100% Melon de Bourgogne, aged 40 months on the lees in glass-lined underground tanks.


Table 3

| DOMAINE DES HUARDS CHEVERNY & COUR-CHEVERNY

Michel Gendrier is on a mission to make sure the world knows about Romorantin. After inheriting vines of the varietal that his grandfather planted starting in 1922, Michel and his wife Jocelyne have been experimenting with this little-known grape with astounding results. The texture of the wine produced from these old-vines is amazing with a waxy, oily component and beautiful balancing acidity that keeps them very fresh. These are wines for lovers of wine. One of the first in the Loire to convert his property to organic viticulture (the property was certified long before it was fashionable to do so), Michel simply wants to get back to what his grandfather’s wines tasted like in the late 1920’s. Since that period, the property has grown to 35 hectares of which 8 hectares are planted to Romorantin (appellation Cour-Cheverny), 9 to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for Cheverny Blanc, 17 hectares to Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc for the production of Cheverny Rouge, and 1 hectare of Chardonnay for the Crémant. The whites are entirely vinified in stainless steel tank to preserve the fresh, vibrant minerality that makes Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny so appealing. There is very little lees stirring. Only indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation. This is low intervention winemaking at its best. While the unique Cour-Cheverny and the vibrant Cheverny are what the property has historically been known for, the Cheverny rouge is a sleeper hit. Little known outside of the region, it is the Loire’s version of a Burgundian Passetoutgrain without the Burgundy price tag. Michel & Jocelyne’s son Alexandre (who was a JDHS intern) will return to the domaine after his studies to learn from his parents and eventually take over the domaine. Unlike so many other sons and daughters taking over the family farm, Alex doesn’t have big plans for change. The wines are exactly where he wants them. Smart boy.


Table 3

| DOMAINE DES HUARDS CHEVERNY & COUR-CHEVERNY

CHEVERNY BLANC “PURE” 2012 From sand and chalk soils in the village of CourCheverny. 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Chardonnay. Aged in tank for at least 6 months before release. Certified organic.

CHEVERNY BLANC “PURE” 2011

COUR-CHEVERNY “ROMO” 2011 From clay and limestone soils in the village of CourCheverny. 100% Romorantin. Aged in stainless steel tank for at least 6 months before release. Certified organic. Released young but these wines can age for many years. Older vintages are always available.

COUR-CHEVERNY “ROMO” 2010

CHEVERNY ROUGE “LE PRESSOIR” 2010 From clay and limestone soils in Cour-Cheverny. 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay. Aged for at least 7 months in tank and barrel.


Table 4

| JEAN-FRANCOIS MERIEAU TOURAINE

It sometimes seems like Jean-Francois Merieau’s mind goes faster than his hands. Although he already produces some of the most respected and sough-after wines of the Touraine, he’s still not satisfied and is constantly looking for new ways to express the old vines and rich landscape that is the Domaine Jean-Francois Merieau. Based in the tiny village of Saint-Julien-deChédon (which doesn’t seem much changed since the 17th century), Jean-Francois’s property stretches to almost 35 hectares planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cot, Pineau d’Aunis, Gamay, and Chardonnay. Many of the vines are quite old including the Pineau d’Aunis which is over 100 years old and the Cot (the youngest of which are 50 years old and the oldest over 100.) Unlike most Touraine producers, the vineyards are plowed and the property is in conversion to organic certification. No commercial yeasts are used in the vinification. The winery is based on a rich history that stretches back for generations. It’s not unusual to see three generations in the winery at the same time. Much of the winery and tasting room is in a cave that was carved during the time of the Knights Templar (14th century). The “new” structure that houses many of the tanks was used by American soldiers during World War I and some left inscriptions on the walls. The wines, however, are anything but old-fashioned. The Sauvignon Blanc bottlings benefit from the rich clay and limestone soil and are exotic and often rich with underlying brightness and acidity. The old vine Gamay and Cot are snappy with delicious, lingering fruit. The sparkling is hand-harvested, vintage Touraine with little dosage. It’s the real deal in Touraine.


Table 4

| JEAN-FRANCOIS MERIEAU TOURAINE

TOURAINE SPARKLING “BULLES” 2008 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay from limestone soils in SaintJulien. Harvested by hand. Aged for 12 months in tank and then at least 24 months in bottle before release. This wine is always produced from a single vintage and is bottled with a light dosage.

TOURAINE SAUVIGNON “LES HEXAGONALES” 2012 From limestone and granitic soils in the Touraine. Some of the bottling comes from estate fruit and some from land owned by others. Aged for at least 5 months in stainless steel tank. High cut and bright.

TOURAINE SAUVIGNON “L’ARPENT DES VAUDONS” 2012 100% Sauvignon Blanc from clay and limestone soils and 10 to 60 year old vines. Indigenous yeast used for fermentation and aging in stainless steel tanks for at least 5 months before release.

TOURAINE SAUVIGNON “L’ARPENT DES VAUDONS” 2011


Table 4

| JEAN-FRANCOIS MERIEAU TOURAINE

PINOT NOIR “LES HEXAGONALES” 2011 100% Pinot Noir from Saint Pourcain, one of the most interesting terroirs for Pinot Noir in the Loire.

TOURAINE GAMAY “LE BOIS JACOU” 2011 100% Gamay from limestone and clay soils on a southeastfacing hillside. The lieu-dit means “the Jacou forest”. Hand harvested. Aged in tank for at least 8 months before release.

TOURAINE CÔT “CENT VISAGES” 2010 100% Malbec (called Cot in the Touraine) from limestone and clay soils. The bottling name means “100 faces” in reference to the many names of Malbec in France. Hand harvested from old vines. Aged in tank for at least 9 months before release.

TOURAINE CABERNET FRANC “LES GRANDS CHAMPS” 2009 100% Cabernet Franc from clay and limestone soils in Saint Julien. Hand harvested. Indigenous yeast used for fermentation. Aged in tank and barrel for at least 12 months before release.


Table 5

| Domaine vacheron SANCERRE

Domaine Vacheron is one of Sancerre’s elite properties, producing both white and red Sancerre of amazing purity and definition. The domaine has been completely transformed over to biodynamic farming (certified by Biodyvin in 2005) with two young cousins, Jean-Laurent and JeanDominique Vacheron, at the helm. No synthetic material is used in the vineyard, harvests are carried out exclusively by hand, and the only fertilizer used is produced from the compost pile. Yields are kept extremely low. Having inherited some of the most coveted parcels in the appellation (and being smart about current land purchases), the cousins are trying a Burgundian approach to Sancerre winemaking, with parcels being vinified by terroir and blends varying from year to year. Pinot Noir is not an afterthought chez Vacheron, but a focus, and on soils just a couple of hours west of Burgundy, the cousins are making grand, expressive bottlings from the varietal. Vacheron is primarily a “silex” producer. Silex (flint) is found primarily in the eastern part of the appellation (and also across the river in Pouilly Fumé) and almost all of Vacheron’s holdings are on this hard, minerally soil type. Flint produces vertical, long-aging Sancerre bottlings and the Vacheron boys’ biggest aim is to let this shine. The “basic” Sancerre blanc from the property comes from vines planted on the fault line between silex and caillottes (hard shards of limestone). Jean-Dominque and Jean-Laurent currently farm 34 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and 11 hectares of Pinot Noir. Starting with some rows in the famous Les Romains vineyard, the property has slowly begun acquiring small amounts of vines in the most coveted lieu-dits in the appellation including Guigne Chèvre, En Grands Champs, Paradis, and Chambrates. As Jacqueline Friedrich opened her description of Domaine Vacheron in her just-released book on the Sancerre/Pouilly region, “Here is a domaine that goes from strength to strength. And shows no signs of stopping.”


Table 5

| Domaine vacheron SANCERRE

SANCERRE BLANC 2012 From both silex and limestone soils in the village of Sancerre. Aged in tank. The first bottlings take place in January of the year after harvest.

SANCERRE BLANC 2011

SANCERRE BLANC “GUIGNE CHÈVRES” 2011 From a north-facing vineyard with silex on top of limestone and clay. One of the lowest-yielding parcels in Sancerre (about 20 hl/ha). Aged in large Austrian upright wooden tanks (Stockinger) for at least 12 months.

SANCERRE BLANC “PARADIS” 2011 From hard limestone soils on a very steep south-facing lieu-dit. Aged in large wooden vats for at least 12 months.

SANCERRE BLANC “CHAMBRATES” 2011 From limestone soils with rich red clay near the surface. Aged in large wooden vats and barrel for at least 12 months.


Table 6

| CLAUDE RIFFAULT SANCERRE

At barely 30 years old, Stéphane Riffault (Claude’s son and now owner of the estate) is turning out Sancerre bottlings that are the envy of many producers twice his age. As David Schildknecht put it, “make no mistake: this address in the hamlet of Maison Salle (Sury-en-Vaux) is now one of the five or six most exciting estates in the Sancerre appellation.” Given that Stéphane’s holdings represent 4 tenths of 1 percent of the appellation, this kid is clearly doing something right. Based in the village of Sury-en-Vaux, the domaine works 33 different parcels in 6 different lieu-dits spread across 4 villages. The 13.5 hectares of vines are plowed and no synthetic material is used (the property is in the process of being certified organic). Unlike most Sancerre producers, the entire harvest is carried out by hand and an extensive sorting takes place before the grapes are crushed. Stéphane’s wife, Benedicte, leads the harvest team while Stéphane manages the sorting and press during harvest. Most of the domaine’s holdings are planted on the soft limestone rock called terres blanches with some parcels on caillottes and silex. Small, judicious uses of oak help to add length to the already precise and vertical bottlings. All of the parcels are vinified separately. exception of the rosé, all of the wines are unfiltered.

With the

Having studied and worked in Burgundy (and closely with Olivier Leflaive), it’s easy to see the Burgundian influence in Stéphane’s wines. The mastery of minerality standing shoulder-height with the wood is rarely duplicated in Sancerre. Regardless of the exposition of his parcels (many are south-facing), Riffault’s wines are always crisp and high cut with a jeweled sort of delineation that speaks to the precision and attention these wines get. These are not your daddy’s (or his daddy’s) Sancerres.

!


Table 6

| CLAUDE RIFFAULT SANCERRE

SANCERRE BLANC “LES BOUCAUDS” 2012 Les Boucauds is the largest lieu-dit that Riffault owns and is composed of soft limestone (terres blanches). Hand-harvested and sorted. Aged for at least 7 months in tank (about 90%) and barrel (about 10%). Bottled without filtration.

SANCERRE BLANC “LES BOUCAUDS” 2011

SANCERRE BLANC “LES CHASSEIGNES” 2012 From hard limestone (caillottes) soils at the top of a south-facing hillside. Hand-harvested and sorted. Aged for at least 8 months in tank (70%) and barrel (30%).

SANCERRE BLANC “LES CHASSEIGNES” 2011

SANCERRE BLANC “LES CHAILLOUX” 2012 From 40 million year old silex soils in the lieu-dit of “Les Chailloux”. Hand-harvested and sorted. Aged for at least 7 months in demi-muids.

SANCERRE BLANC “LES DENISOTTES” 2012 From a kimmeridgian lieu-dit with clay and limestone deposits. Southfacing and 40 year old vines. Hand-harvested and sorted. Aged for 9 months in barrel and demi-muids.


Table 6

| CLAUDE RIFFAULT SANCERRE

SANCERRE ROSÉ “LA NOUE” 2012 Pinot Noir from soft limestone soils and Kimmeridgian terroir. Hand harvested and sorted. The rosé is made from a mixture of a bleed from the red and a direct press after 612 hours of maceration. Aged in concrete tanks for 6 months before release.

SANCERRE ROUGE “LA NOUE” 2010 Pinot Noir from soft limestone soils and Kimmeridgian terroir. Hand harvested and sorted. Aged for at least 12 months in concrete tanks and barrel.


Jon-David Headrick Selections is proud to announce a new national partnership with European Cellars and the Eric Solomon Selections. Both Jon-David Headrick Selections and Eric Solomon Selections will operate under the European Cellars umbrella and as such will share warehouse space, a national sales force, and all logistics, operations, and sales efforts. This new partnership means that the combined portfolios will present the best that viticultural France has to offer, from Muscadet to Provence and from the Roussillon to the northern stretches of Champagne. Please join us in celebrating this exciting news.


Table 7

| ERIC SOLOMON SELECTIONS

DOMAINE LAFAGE, CÔTES DU ROUSSILLON, CUVÉE CENTENAIRE 2011 | 80% Grenache Blanc & Gris, 20% Roussanne from soil of rolled pebbles from maritime terroir of the Canet hills. Aged 30% in new French barrels. Fermented and aged with weekly batonnages, Fermented on fine lees for 3 months. DOMAINE DE L'HORTUS, CÔTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC/VIN DE PAYS DU VAL DE MONTFERRAND, “LA BERGERIE” BLANC 2011 40% Roussanne, 20% Viognier, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Chardonnay, 5% Petit Marseng from limestone soils. Aged in stainless steel. “l’Hortus” is the Latin translation for “The Garden,” as a homage to the land and its tradition. CASTELL D’ENCUS, COSTERS DEL SEGRE, “EKAM” 2011 From sandy soil (caused by degradation of the granite substratum) in Catalan Pyrenees. 90% Riesling, 10% Albarino. Hand-harvested in small boxes. Fermented in different materials: wooden vats and vats of stainless steel and natural stone, giving very different tones and shades, and great aromatic complexity.

CASTELL D’ENCUS, COSTERS DEL SEGRE, “TALEIA” 2011 From sandy soil (caused by degradation of the granite substratum) in Catalan Pyrenees. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon. Hand-harvested. Fermented in steel tank, new French oak barrel and stone lagars. 30% aged in barrel for 5 months. “Taleia” is a Catalan word that means “obsession.”


Table 7

| ERIC SOLOMON SELECTIONS

RAFAEL PALACIOS, VALDEORRAS, “SABREGO” 2011 100% Godello. The soils of the vines are very distinct, and were developed through the degradation of the granite substratum. The result is a low-fertile, acidic soil prone to erosion. The name “sabrego” comes from the fact that the vines are planted on granite soils known locally by that name. Aged 4 to 5 months in tank on the lees.

PAZO DE SEÑORANS, RIAS BAIXAS , “SELECCION DE ANADA” 2005 100% Albariño. Selección de Añada is only made in superior vintages, where grapes are selected from a low yielding plot ,located in the highest area of the estate with sandy soils. Aged over 30 months in stainless steel on the lees and 12 months in bottle.

EQUIPO NAVAZOS, NAVAZOS NIEPOORT 2011 100% palomino fino. Aged in traditional sherry butts, filled up to 5/6, and preserved under ‘flor’ yeast film for 9 months before bottling.


Table 8

| DAMIEN LAUREAU SAVENNIÈRES

One of the smallest appellations in France, Savennières is comprised of only 146 planted hectares. Chenin Blanc is the only allowable varietal. Because of its size and rarity, starting a new domaine in the appellation is nearly impossible without a sizeable bank account. The fact that the young Damien Laureau was able to do it attests to the sheer force of his personality and persistence. Originally a pear farmer (he specialized in pears in glass bottles for Poire Williams), Damien Laureau got into the Savennières business by accident. His uncle owned some vines and Damien was using his facility as a base for the pear operation. When his uncle, a small Savennières land owner, wanted to retire, he asked Damien if he was interested in taking over the vines. Damien agreed without not really knowing much about this prestigious appellation. The fact that Damien came to this appellation as an outsider has served him well. Tradition dictates that Savennières be harvested slightly before physiological maturity to ensure that very high acidity that helps these wines to age for decades. This early harvest also meant that the wines were austere and closed for years following release. Damien began harvesting just as the grapes became yellow and just at maturity. The acidity levels are still very high, but with this slightly later harvest comes vibrant fruit flavors that lend polish and elegance to his wines. For years Damien worked out of a small shed but has since built a small and simple winery. He works mostly alone but will hopefully be able to count on one or more of his six children to help out on the farm. The domaine currently is spread out over many small parcels on 7 hectares of schiste, phtanite, and sand. Damien uses no synthetic products in his vineyards and will be certified organic in the next few months. Harvest is by hand. No commercial yeasts are used to begin fermentation. Aging is long, slow, and uncomplicated in tank and barrel. Called “undoubtedly the future star of Savennières” by the Revue de Vin de France, Damien has a lot to live up to for a guy who got into one of the smallest and most prestigious French appellations by accident.


Table 8

| DAMIEN LAUREAU SAVENNIÈRES

SAVENNIÈRES “LES GENETS” 2011 100% Chenin Blanc from sand and silt soils on one of the highest points in the appellation. Harvested by hand in small batches and fermented in tank using indigenous yeasts. Aged in fiberglass tank and barrel for at least 18 months.

SAVENNIÈRES “LES GENETS” 2010

SAVENNIÈRES “BEL OUVRAGE” 2011 100% Chenin Blanc from schist and phtanite soils and older vines. Harvested by hand during multiple passes and fermented in tank using indigenous yeasts. Aged in barrel for at least 12 months and then in tank for 6 months before bottling.

SAVENNIÈRES LA ROCHES-AUX-MOINES 2011 100% Chenin Blanc from the famous cru of La Roches-Aux-Moines on the hillsides of the Loire river. From pure and dense schist soils. Harvested by hand and fermented in tank and barrel using indigenous yeasts. Aged in barrel for at least 12 months and then in tank for 6 months before bottling. Very limited.


Table 8

| DOMAINE DU VIKING VOUVRAY

In the early part of the 20th century, most of Vouvray (like much of viticultural France) was worked by farmers in polyculture. Cows, sheep, and grain were raised alongside vines. Such was the case for the land belonging to Lionel and Francoise Gauthier, the owners of Domaine du Viking. Francoise’s grandparents owned just 2 hectares of vines in the early 1940’s along with animals and cereals. Winemaking was something that was done for family and local consumption. All of that changed on August 11, 1944 when Francoise’s grandfather, Maurice, was killed by Nazi soldiers after being caught trying to blow up some train tracks. His young son, Francoise’s father, was suddenly in charge and in an effort to keep the family afloat, converted all of the land into vineyards. The rest, as they say, is history. Most of Lionel and Francoise’s 13 hectares are not on the famous chalk (tuffeau) soils that make up over 90% of Vouvray but on the hard silex soils of the northern tip of the appellation. This silex produces crisp, mineral, and long-aging Vouvrays that bring to mind great Riesling. The style chez Le Viking (as he refers to himself with only a small degree of irony) is called sec tendre. This “tender dry” style allows for the sugar levels of a demi-sec but with the acidity level of a great Sancerre or Chablis. If you’re into Riesling, you’re probably going to like this style. The winery itself isn’t so much of a winery as it is a garage. Chestnut is favored for the barrels although more and more wine is being vinified in tank these days. Indigenous yeasts start fermentation and there is little manipulation. These are wines that simply happen. As such, the sugar levels can vary wildly from year to year. Acidity and minerality, however, are always very present. It is fair to say that Lionel Gauthier is a bit of a misfit in Vouvray. The son of a butcher from Nantes, Lionel doesn’t come from the area, has (or had at one point) blond hair that is atypical in Vouvray, and eats like a Viking. At least that is what his friends thought when they started calling him the “Viking” several years ago. After a few years, the name “Viking” had stuck, so in 1989, Lionel decided to rename the property. It can be said without any equivocation that Lionel Gauthier can eat more sweetbreads than you can. Besides that, the man can make a serious Vouvray.


Table 8

| DOMAINE DU VIKING VOUVRAY

VOUVRAY “LA CRAIE” 2011 From limestone soils in the village of Reugny. “La Craie” means chalk in French. Heavy sorting at harvest and indigenous yeast used for fermentation. Aged in tank for at least 9 months before release. This wine is a custom bottling for JDHS.

VOUVRAY “LA CRAIE” 2010

VOUVRAY SEC TENDRE 2011 100% Chenin Blanc from silex (flint) soils in the village of Reugny. Heavy sorting at harvest and indigenous yeast used for fermentation. Aged in tank for at least 12 months before release.


Table 9

| LOUIS DE GRENELLE SAUMUR

Deep under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of caves wind their way through the soft limestone that was used to build so many Loire chateaux. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor (often by men caught for smuggling salt) under the direction of the king of France. There are so many “streets” underground that they outnumber the actual streets in this beautiful town. One of the last remaining family-owned sparkling wine houses in Saumur, Louis de Grenelle owns about 2 kilometers of these caves. All of the sparkling wine produced by the property is stored in these cool caverns, many of which were used during World War II by the French resistance. If you are lucky, you will one day get to sit in the king’s chair in the secret cave at the end of one of these caverns. Only if you’re lucky. The grapes used to produce the sparkling Saumur and Crémant at Grenelle are grown on the hillsides surrounding the town and in the small hamlets just outside of Saumur. They are pressed and flow by gravity into underground tanks at the winery. All of the wines are made in the Champagne method and are bottled with little dosage to preserve the freshness of the cabernet franc and chenin blanc varietals.


Table 9

| LOUIS DE GRENELLE SAUMUR

CRÉMANT DE LOIRE “PLATINE” NV 85% Chenin Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Cabernet Franc from limestone hillsides outside of Saumur. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged for 18 months. Bottled with a 7 gram dosage. Champagne Method.

CRÉMANT DE LOIRE “LOUIS” NV 34% Chenin Blanc, 33% Chardonnay, 33% Cabernet Franc from limestone hillsides outside of Saumur. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged for 15 months. Certified organic.

SAUMUR SPARKLING ROSÉ “CORAIL” NV 100% Cabernet Franc from vines planted on the chalk hillsides outside of Saumur. Fermented in stainless steel tank and then aged for at least 12 months. Bottled with a 6 gram dosage to preserve the freshness and character of the varietal. Champagne Method.


Table 9

| CHAMPAGNE DOSNON & LEPAGE CÔTE DES BAR (AUBE)

A model for the future of small, artisinal Champagne houses, Champagne Dosnon & Lepage is the brainchild of Davy Dosnon and Simon-Charles Lepage, who grew up together in this beautiful region of rolling hills, wheat fields, and champagne vines. While Davy studied viticulture and worked in top Burgundy wine houses before moving back to Champagne, Simon-Charles studied criminal law in Paris, but moved back to the village of Lingey in the Côte de Bars region of Champagne for the peace and quiet. Simon-Charles has since left the winery for a life back in Paris but Davy has quietly kept building this tiny Champagne house into one of the most exciting properties in the region today. The wines of Dosnon & Lepage are masterfully mineral, vinous bottlings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fermenting entirely in former Puligny-Montrachet barrels, the champagnes might as well be Chablis with bubbles for all of their mineral-packed goodness. Dosages are very low (in some cases as little as 4 grams per liter) and the wines benefit from the restraint. None of the wines is fined or filtered. Located just a half hour north of the Burgundian village of Chablis, this region of the Aube valley has more in common with northern Burgundy than with the rest of Champagne. The soil is Kimmeridgian like the great Grand Cru hillsides of Chalis. Fossilized oyster shells litter the vineyards as this was once an ocean bed. Owning just 2 hectares, Davy farms 5 additional hectares that he doesn’t own (and can’t afford to own because of today’s land prices). The combination of Kimmeridgian soil and the precision in the barrel work has meant that the bottings, in the words of Peter Liem (of ChampagneGuide.net) “bring to mind fine jewelry in some way, not ornamental but somehow ornate, combining a plush opulence with precision and grace.” Really masterful work from a lost region of Champagne.


Table 9

| CHAMPAGNE DOSNON & LEPAGE CÔTE DES BAR (AUBE)

CHAMPAGNE BRUT “RÉCOLTE NOIRE” NV 100% Pinot Noir from Kimmeridgian parcels in Avirey-Lingey. Harvested by hand in small baskets. Fermented and aged in former Puligny-Montrachet barrels. 40% vin de reserve. Current dosage is 9 grams.

CHAMPAGNE BRUT “RÉCOLTE BLANCHE” NV 100% Chardonnay from Kimmeridgian parcels in Avirey-Lingey. Harvested by hand in small baskets. Fermented and aged in former Puligny-Montrachet barrels. 40% vin de reserve. Current dosage is 5 grams.

CHAMPAGNE BRUT “RÉCOLTE ROSE” NV 90% Pinot Noir from Kimmeridgian parcels in Avirey-Lingey and 10% Pinot Meunier from hillsides in Polisy. Harvested by hand in small baskets. Fermented and aged in former PulignyMontrachet barrels. 40% vin de reserve. Current dosage is 7 grams.


Table 9

| CHAMPAGNE FRANÇOISE BEDEL MARNE VALLEY

In 1982, Francoise Bedel, a single mother of two sons and a new winery found herself in a tight spot. Her oldest son was very sick and she could find no doctor or hospital that could cure him. There were many weeks and months searching for an answer. As a last desperate measure, she took him to see an older couple in a nearby village who practiced homeopathic medicine. Under their guidance, Vincent, Francoise's son and the current winemaker at the estate, was on the mend. She swore off modern medicine and within months had removed every chemical or synthetic material from her tiny winery. Francoise became a biodynamic winemaker before virtually anyone in the wine trade had ever heard the term. Today, the estate is still small (8 hectares) and the Francoise is still doing things her own way. While others champion the better- known Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals, she is in love with Pinot Meunier and it features heavily in her wines. She is patient with her Champagnes and it's not uncommon for a wine to spend 6 years on the lees. Low or zero dosage is the rule chez Bedel. Located on the margins of Champagne, Bedel farms in the village of Crouttes-sur-Marne, a village on the western end of the Marne Valley. The soils are dominated by clay with touches of limestone and gravel. This, combined with the Pinot Meunier varietal, lead to wines with heft and weight with long, lingering acidity. We don't often think of decanting Champagne but these are wines that are transcendental when exposed to air. Wines of great soul and depth.


Table 9

| CHAMPAGNE FRANÇOISE BEDEL MARNE VALLEY

BRUT NATURE “DIS, VIN SECRET” NV 86% Pinot Meunier, 8% Pinot Noir, and 6% Chardonnay from clay and limestone hillsides in Crouttes-sur-Marne. Fermented in tank and barrel and aged sur latte for at least 7 years before release. Bottled with no dosage.

BRUT “ENTRE CIEL ET TERRE” NV 100% Pinot Meunier from clay and limestone hillsides in Crouttes-sur-Marne. Fermented in tank and barrel and aged sur latte for at least 8 years before release. Bottled with a 6 gram dosage.

EXTRA BRUT “L’AME DE LA TERRE” 2003 67% Pinot Meunier, 17% Pinot Noir, and 16% Chardonnay from clay and limestone hillsides in Crouttes-sur-Marne. Fermented in tank and aged in French oak. Aged in bottle for at least 8 years before release. Bottled with a 3 gram dosage.


Table 10

| DOMAINE DE LA NOBLAIE CHINON

A trip to Domaine de la Noblaie is like stepping back in time. For starters, the Crusaders used to live in their back yard. It is still called “The Place of the White Coats” to this day as this parcel of vines was once home to a taxing station used to finance the Christian crusades. The house was started sometime in the 15th or 16th century. They still use a chalk vat that was dug around the 16th or 17th centuries. From the top of the Les Chiens-Chiens parcel you can look out across the river to the Chateau de Chinon where Joan of Arc asked Charles VII for the chance to lead his army. Things didn’t work out so well for her. Today, the domaine is home base for four generations (grand-mère usually holds court in the living room while holding her new iPad.) It is Jerome Billard, the son of Francois and Madeleine Billard, who leads the property now. Jerome was fortunate to earn an internship at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux while still in school and then to earn a spot at Dominus in California. I met Jerome in Chinon just days after his return to Chinon from California in 2003 and saw enormous potential. He has certainly lived up to that and more. Noblaie sits at one of the highest points of the Chinon appellation and is essentially two long, sloping hillsides covering 24 hectares. The soil is mostly limestone (some of it quite deep) covered with clay and limestone shards. The property is certified organic by Ecocert and has been working this way since about 2005. All harvests are carried out by hand (rare in Chinon) and in multiple passes through the vines. Unlike many other properties that hand harvest, Noblaie has the same team year after year and the vineyard and winery triage is quite severe. The point is not to produce green or vegetal Cabernet Franc but to find that perfect razor’s edge maturity that privileges the earthiness and spiciness of the varietal while showing off the fruit and elegance at the same time. Vinifications are long and slow with indigenous yeasts used exclusively. Some of the wines are fermented in stainless steel, some in barrel, and some in chalk. Yes, chalk. Cabernet Franc + Rocky Soil + Rocky Tank = Happiness.


Table 10

| DOMAINE DE LA NOBLAIE CHINON

CHINON BLANC 2012 100% Chenin Blanc from tuffeau (soft limestone) soils in Ligré. 50 year old vines. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, indigenous yeasts, and fermentation and aging in stainless steel tank for 5 months before bottling. No malolactic fermentation.

CHINON ROSÉ 2012 100% Cabernet Franc from tuffeau (soft limestone) soils in Ligré. Harvested by hand from young vines in multiple passes, indigenous yeasts, and fermentation and aging in stainless steel tank for 5 months before bottling.

CHINON ROUGE “LES CHIENS-CHIENS” 2009 100% Cabernet Franc from an old parcel on tuffeau (soft limestone) and clay. Harvested by hand from 30 year old vines in multiple passes, indigenous yeasts. Fermentation and aging in 400 liter barrels for 12 months then 8 months in tank before bottling.

CHINON ROUGE “PIERRE DE TUF” 2010 100% Cabernet Franc from a parcel planted just prior to World War II on clay and silex (flint) soils. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, indigenous yeasts. Fermentation in a chalk tank dug sometime before or during the 17th century, aging in 500 liter barrels for 12 months, then 8 months in stainless steel tank before bottling.


Table 10

| FREDERIC MABILEAU ST NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL

The tiny village of Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil has been planted to vines since at least the times of the Romans. They, and the Catholic church after them, found that this former river bed of sand and silt was an ideal place for grape growing and in the year 990, the Abbaye of Bourgueil (in the neighboring village and appellation) began a wide planting over the entire region. Today, Saint Nicolas is home to only 1100 people, almost all of whom are involved in the wine trade. The wine trade in this town is devoted (by love and by law) to Cabernet Franc. 90% of the appellation is on a former river bed of silt and sand which produces soft, fruity style wines while the rest of the appellation is on dense clay and limestone on the hillsides overlooking the town. Frederic Mabileau and his wife Nathalie farm 27 hectares in Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil and the neighboring AOC of Bourgueil. They are one of the only farms to harvest by hand, to be certified organic (by Ecocert), and to harvest at maturity. This last part is very important in this region and also for the grape. Most producers in this area harvest on the first day they are allowed to harvest (called the “ban de vendanges� in French) regardless of maturity. This results in highly acidic, green, and vegetal Cabernet Franc that is best consumed heavily chilled. Chez Mabileau, the harvest comes in when it is ready and there are multiple passes through the vines. The parcels are separated for fermentation and not every wine is made every year. The grape bunches are half the size of the bunches of Mabileau’s neighbors and the grapes themselves are tiny. The goal is to harvest little grapes at optimal maturity. In my portfolio there are many winemakers who are obsessed with the quality of grape that is brought into the cellar but perhaps none more so than Frederic Mabileau. The wines that are from parcels on sand and silt are mostly aged in tank to preserve the freshness and released relatively early. For those grown on the hillsides of chalk and clay and also on the more structured soils of Bourgueil, the wines age in foudre and barrel for at least a year before bottling.


Table 10

| FREDERIC MABILEAU SAINT NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL

SAINT NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL “LES ROUILLERES” 2012 100% Cabernet Franc from 35-40 year old vines on sand and gravel. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, severe winery sorting, and then fermentation using natural yeasts. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel for 7 months before release.

SAINT NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL “LES PETITS GRAINS” 2010 100% Cabernet Franc from young vines on sand and gravel. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, severe winery sorting, and then fermentation using natural yeasts. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel for 7 months before release. Some of this bottling comes from vines that are farmed (but not owned) by Mabileau.

BOURGUEIL “RACINES” 2011 100% Cabernet Franc from 40-50 year old vines on dense limestone and clay soils. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, severe winery sorting, and then fermentation using natural yeasts. Fermentation and aging in 600 liter wooden barrels (4 year old) for 11 months with no racking.

SAINT NICOLAS DE BOURGUEIL “ECLIPSE” 2010 100% Cabernet Franc from 60+ year old vines on dense limestone and clay soils from the hills overlooking the village. Harvested by hand in multiple passes, severe winery sorting, and then fermentation using natural yeasts. Fermentation and aging in 600 liter demi-muids for 12 months. Not made every vintage.


Table 11

| Le paradou SOUTH OF FRANCE

The south of France is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. In the summer, grapes grow along sunbaked hillsides. Fields of sunflowers and lavender dot the landscape. The smell of wild rosemary is in the air. It really is a magical place. It’s not hard to grow grapes here as there is plenty of sun and often ideal conditions. It is, however, difficult to grow grapes that express freshness, elegance, and purity. In general, this must be done at higher elevations and on terraces that are cool during the otherwise hot summer nights. Harvesting at exactly the right moment to preserve freshness is extremely important. The two young brothers who make the wines of Le Paradou are focused entirely on expressing these principles of freshness, elegance, and purity in the wines. Alexandre Chaudière has worked extensively with coolweather varietals in the Rheingau and Burgundy. Frédéric Chaudière, his older brother, brings his experience with the family’s benchmark Rhone property, Chateau Pesquié. Together they produce two lovely wines of outstanding value. The Le Paradou Viognier is produced from rocky hillsides in the hills north of Montpellier. Very porous, limestone soils from the Jurassic period help to make this wine slightly mineral and bring out the bright acidity. The style is high-toned and cut as opposed to many viognier bottlings which are rich and dense. It is aged entirely in tank to retain the freshness and purity. The Le Paradou Grenache is grown on slightly richer limestone soils on the terraces of the Minervois. Produced from vines at an average altitude of 250 meters, the wine is at once rich but fresh and lively. Small pebbles from the Quaternary period fill the vineyard which makes for extremely poor soil and more structure to fill out the rich fruit. It is aged entirely in tank. The name Le Paradou comes from an old mill on the property owned by Frédéric and Alexandre’s family. Begun in the 12th century, the mill has since been converted into a large Provencal mas (farmhouse) that one can often see dotting the Provencal landscape.


Table 11

| Le paradou SOUTH OF FRANCE

VIOGNIER 2012 100% Viognier from limestone hillsides just north of Montpellier. Fermented in stainless steel tank and aged for 5 months in tank before bottling. Very little lees stirring to preserve the crispness that these higher altitude vines produce.

VIOGNIER 2011

GRENACHE 2010 100% Grenache from the stony terraces of the Minervois. Fermented in stainless steel tank and aged for 7 months in tank before bottling.


Table 11

| CHĂ‚TEAU VINCENS CAHORS

High up on the upper terraces of the Cahors appellation lies one of the most exciting new discoveries to the JDHS book. Chateau Vincens, owned and managed by the young and dynamic Philippe Vincens, has quickly become a leader in Cahors thanks in large part to the viticultural practices as well as their hilltop exposition. The winds are so strong at these higher elevations that the vines remain quite dry and don't suffer from the mold and rot issues that vines further down the hillsides are subjected to. The property grows primarily Malbec grapes, with some Merlot. The design of the vineyards responds to the innate structure of the land. The ground between the vines alternates between soil and grass – grass retains water and heat, but leaches nutrients. The property uses sustainable farming methods. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and then from some, are put into new and old oak barrels for aging. The wines are lush and pure examples of the malbec varietal that smell and taste like the soil of France. The wildness of the terrain and this lost region of France is obvious in the wines which is one of the many reasons we love them so much.


Table 11

| CHÂTEAU VINCENS CAHORS

MALBEC, CAHORS, “L’INSTANT” 2012 100% Malbec, harvested from vines growing high in the Cahors region of Southwest France.

MALBEC, CAHORS, “ORIGINE” 2010 100% Malbec, harvested by hand in small baskets, indigenous yeast. Fermented in tank and aged in barrel for 14 months before bottling.


Table 11

| DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY

You learn a lot about a man by his compost pile. One of the few producers in the appellation of Saumur-Champigny to farm naturally, Thierry Germain is extremely proud of his, reaching into the heart of his compost to show off the smoking debris to visitors. While others are pumping as much synthetic fertilizer into their vineyard as possible to reach the highest potential yields, Thierry Germain is going the other direction, using his compost only when necessary, and asking the vines to suffer to produce much, much less fruit. The end results are stunning. Originally trained in Bordeaux, Thierry brings his sensibility to the noble Cabernet Franc grape to what is arguably some of the most suitable terroir for it in the world, the Saumur-Champigny appellation in the central Loire valley. The special combination of clay, limestone, flint, and alluvial soils helps to produce wines with power and elegance at the same time. When cropped at low levels, these vines produce Cabernet Franc with wonderful purity, length and precision which can age for decades. Domaine des Roches Neuves has become a benchmark producer from Saumur-Champigny, harvesting completely by hand in over 30 parcels, all of which are vinified separately. While yields of most properties average upwards of 60 hectoliters per hectare, Roches Neuves averages just shy of 30, with some bottlings as low as 15. The difference in flavor, color, ageability, and complexity is enormous. By farming biodynamically and using only limited amounts of natural fertilizers, Thierry is able to manage what are, in essence, “wild” vines which produce miniscule amounts of fruit. Most of the vineyards are now worked by horse and plow and no commercial yeasts are used during fermentation. Thierry has established a “conservatory” of Carbernet Franc clippings from old vineyards from which he aims to select the top 50 or so for new plantings. This is a man obsessed with Cabernet Franc. After fermentation in stainless steel and concrete tanks, the upper level wines travel down the steep steps into the old chalk cave under the house for 12 to 24 months depending on the bottling.


Table 11

| DOMAINE DES ROCHES NEUVES SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY 2011 100% Cabernet Franc from young vines (25+ years) planted on soft limestone soils. Harvested by hand, indigenous yeasts, and aged in tank for 5 months before release.

SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY “TERRES CHAUDES” 2011 100% Cabernet Franc from limestone soils on the famous hillside of Les Poyeux. Harvested by hand from 35-50 year old vines. Fermentation in tank and then 12 months aging in small oval tanks and larger 60 hl wooden tanks.

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SAUMUR BLANC “INSOLITE” 2011 100% Chenin Blanc from dense limestone soils on the hillsides just outside of Saumur. Harvested by hand in multiple passes through the vines. Fermented and aged in wooden oval Austrian (Stockinger) tanks for 12 months before bottling.


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