French Wine- Various Regions
Loire Valley, Provence, Minervois (Languedoc), Rhone Valley and Bordeaux
“One of the new stars of the Loire, Jean-François Merieau is as ambitious as they come. Before coming back to settle at his family’s property in the Touraine just east of Tours, he wandered the world tasting wine and spent time working at several wineries outside of France including an extended stay in South Africa. It was this exposure that drives his creativity today. Instead of blending his wines, Jean-François produces most of the varietals with which he works in single varietal bottlings, often from a single parcel. This terroir-specific approach allows us to taste singular wines of great expression. He is converting the entire production to organic viticulture. Without exception, all of the wines produced at this property offer tremendous value. The sparkling Touraine is aged a for 3 years before release and it is still less than a third of the price of most Champagnes. The Sauvignon de Touraine rivals many of the great Sancerre wines being produced today at half the price. Crisp, delicious wines.”
Francois Merieau Sauvignon Blanc l’arpents des Vaudons 2013
Touraine, Loire Valley. “100% Sauvignon Blanc from a single parcel of old vines (60 years old). Harvested by hand, fermented and aged in stainless steel tank for 7 months. Some lees stirring. The area around the old French city of Tours in the Loire Valley is called the “Garden of France”, a fertile, verdant area which is home to vines and fruit trees alike. It is also the area that was liked so much by French royalty and aristocrats that they built many castles along the river (think Chambord and Chenonceau) to name a couple. While the geographic region of Touraine includes the famous vineyards of Vouvray, Montlouis, and Chinon, there is also an AOC Touraine which produces white, red, and sparkling wines. Touraine is one of the few places in France that allows wine varietals to be placed on the front label.” Imported by Jon-David Headrick.
“A wine innovator, explorer, marathon runner and New York hipster, Charles Bieler has an eye for the creative opportunity, an ability to spot an opening before it materializes, and a knack for combining outrageous propositions into a winner. Charles spent his formative wine business years in Provence, France, including several years at Chateau Routas. At a time when rosé was considered gauche, he travelled the U.S. in a pink Cadillac to promote the Routas rosé and helped light a fire under what is now a highly respected category.
Charles continues to beat the pink drum, turning out Bieler Père et Fils, a Coteaux d’Aix en Provence rosé with his father, and the eponymous Charles & Charles, produced with Charles Smith of Washington’s K Vintners & Charles Smith Wines. Recent projects include Sombra, a highly lauded, artisanal Oaxacan mezcal made in partnership with Master Sommelier Richard Betts, and the Gotham Project, making Riesling exclusively packed in kegs for wine on tap. Charles lives in Harlem, New York City.”
Bieler Pere et Fils Rose 2013
Coteaux d’Aix en Provence. “This rich, deeply colored rosé from 5 hillside vineyards of Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is Syrah-driven (55%) blended with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Grenache, 3% Cinsault and 2% Rolle. Made in the traditional Provencal way. Direct to press within two hours of picking so very limited skin juice contact to emphasize freshness over density. Fermentation is in stainless steel and concrete tanks. Lees are stirred during and after fermentation to add some body. Bieler Pere et Fils Rosé is soft cranberry-red in color with a gorgeous nose of raspberry, bing cherry, wild strawberry and spicy minerality. It is beautifully crisp and flavorful on the palate with medium body and notes of red berries, bing cherries, spice and no oak. The finish is long and refreshing.”
“The Chateau Massiac has a long history that dates back to the Roman Empire when this area was colonized by the Romans using the nearby Mediterranean port (30 kilometers) of Narbonne as an access point. In the 17th Century, two brothers from Massiac in the Auvergne region traversed the area in service to the King of Spain and eventually settled at this spot situated almost precisely halfway between the clock towers of the villages of Azille and Rieux Minervois. During the French Revolution, the “chateau” was burned to the ground.
Bernard Boudouresques and his family recently revived the domaine, planting vineyards and converting the estate to organic viticulture. Production from the estate is now (2012) certified organic. Massiac encompasses 21.5 hectares of vineyards, 8.5 of which produce the Minervois Rouge and 5 of which are the source for the two white wines classified as Vin de Pays d’Oc. The domaine lies at the extreme south of the Massif Centrale, effectively in the gently sloping foothills that lead to the Mediterranean coast which is not terribly distant. The subsoils are essentially limestone and clay with silex and marble infusions, all of which was formed during the Lutecian geologic era. This soil has particularly good drainage which accounts for the superior concentration that Massiac achieves in its wines. As well, the site is exposed both the winds that sweep north from the Mediterranean and the cooling northwest wind coming from the mountains known as Le Cers which consistently dries the vineyard and makes it less vulnerable to the maladies of the vine. At the moment (this is written in early 2012), Massiac bottles approximately 55,000 bottles of wine per annum.”
Domaine Massiac Viognier 2012
Vin de Pays d’Oc, Languedoc. “The Viognier cuvée is handled in a manner precisely similar to that of the Sauvignon Blanc: early morning harvest to take advantage of the cool morning hours, fermentation and elevage in tank, contact with the fine lies and some batonnage; bottling takes place during the spring season following harvest. The Viognier yields are in the neighborhood of 50 hectoliters per hectare. We purchase in the neighborhood of 7200 bottles annually.” Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant.
Chateau Massiac Rouge 2010
Minervois, Languedoc. A blend of mostly Syrah (approx. 60%) and the remainder Carignan. “This is the most important wine of the estate, a serious red vinified to reflect its capacity to age. The grapes are harvested at a point of slight “surmaturité” which captures the profound scents and flavors of the surrounding hillside “garrigue”. The cuvaison continues for at least a month; then, the wine is racked into tank for aging. The wine is bottled twenty to twenty-four months after harvest. As the wine ages in bottle, it develops enticing notes of juniper, rosemary and thyme as well as the savory flavors of wild berries and a hint of the “animal” … all in all, one of the more compelling values in our portfolio. Depending on harvest levels, we purchase between 9,000 and 12,000 bottles per vintage.” Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant.
Domaine de Fenouillet: “The brothers Soard, Patrick and Vincent, own and operate this impeccable domaine the cellars of which are situated in the village of Beaumes de Venise, in the shadows of Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail. They trace their lineage as vignerons back to their great-grandfather, Casimir Soard, whose wines were winning medals as early as 1902. Their grandfather, Louis Soard, specialized in the production of the celebrated Muscat de Beaumes de Venise during the 1950s and his son, Yvon, father to Patrick and Vincent, continued to work and expand the vineyards in Beaumes de Venise and the surrounding communes, although he rendered his grapes to the local cooperative rather than vinifying and commercializing the wines of the domaine. In 1988, Patrick and Vincent, with the encouragement of their mother, Nicole, decided to renew the fame of the estate and constructed the chai and cellars necessary to vinify and bottle the full range of appellations available. In 1989, at the outset of this project, we had the good fortune to encounter the family and we immediately engaged to be their importer for the American market.
The vineyards of the domaine are scattered over seven different communes, including, of course, Beaumes de Venise and the surrounding villages. The appellations include Vin de Pays de Vaucluse, Ventoux (vineyards in the communes of Saint Hippolyte, Piniere, Aubignan and Barroux), Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and Beaumes de Venise (vineyards in Beaumes de Venise, La Roque Alric and Suzette). The Soard family has always farmed with great concern for the environment and now all of the wines produced at the domaine are certified “organic”.”
Domaine de Fenouillet Ventoux 2012
Ventoux, Southern Rhone. “This cuvée is a blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 5% Carignan. It is sourced from three separate “terroirs”: the stony silex-infused plateau of Saint Hippolyte, the silex dominated soils of the hill of Piniere in Aubignan and the clay-limestone mix in the soils of the commune of Barroux. The parcels are harvested and vinified separately and the final blend is created before the bottling which occurs prior to the next year’s harvest. Annual production is in the neighborhood of 16,000 bottles of which about half (7800 bottles) are shipped by us for distribution in the USA.” Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant.
Chateau Saint Julian: “The story behind the estate is not necessarily romantic, but it does convey a certain truth of the Bordeaux region. The owner is a former businessman from Paris who made his fortune selling high quality hair products. Dreaming of producing his own Bordeaux, he bought the Château in 2004. His young and dynamic team revived the estate with the tremendous ’05 vintage, truly putting the beautiful terroir of the Entre-deux-Mers to good use. The owner also has a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru – the Château La Grangère – and a Graves de Vayres – the Château Tillede.”
Chateau Saint Julian Grand Vin Bordeaux 2010
Bordeaux Superieur. “With holdings of 30ha in the Entre-deux-Mers region, Ch. St. Julian’s vines are grown on clay-limestone with an average age of 30 years. The wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc. Aged for 12 months in oak, 30% new.”