Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Seasonal Wine Club - Spring 2012

We recently sent out our first shipment of the Spring Wine Club USA – but it makes more sense to call it the Spring Seasonal Wine Club, since the wines are shipped three times per year in Spring, Fall, and early Winter, and of course we can ship the wines anywhere. 

The next official shipment will leave in the fall, but we can still send out the Spring selection for the next few weeks until it becomes too warm.

If you’d like to join, you can sign up on this page, or just send us an email.

Keep reading below to learn more about the wines we sent out. I tried to make a selection that had a balance of wines from different regions, known and less well-known, as well as my favorites from some of the winemakers that I've had the pleasure of getting to know since I moved to France a few years ago.  Please share comments on the wines if you've had them, or ask any questions if you'd like to know more! 

2006 Côtes-du-Jura ‘BB1’
Chais du Vieux Bourg

Ludwig Bindernagel fell in love with wine while working as an architect for Jean Nouvel in Paris. He decided to buy a vineyard to make wine ‘as a hobby’ in 2004, and a month later quit his job and moved to the Jura.  Today he makes wine from a miniscule 2.5 hectares (6 acres) of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir scattered in several parcels around the town of Arlay. Except for the harvest, when friends come help out, he literally does everything himself, including hand bottling and hand labeling.  Vines are grown in a fashion that is beyond a simple organic certification – Ludwig has never used any chemicals in the vineyard, and often leaves the grass and weeds to grow between the rows of vines which creates a picturesque biotope (though not so convenient for harvesting).

The cuvée BB1 is typically a blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin, but in 2006 the small Savagnin harvest resulted in a 100% Chardonnay. Like all of Ludwig’s wines, it’s aged in barrels until he finds it ready—in this case, 48 months! I call this the gateway jura wine, because it’s an easy way to get hooked on wines from the Jura. Unlike many other whites from the region, the BB1 does not have the typical oxidative flavors (think sherry). This a great all-purpose food wine- I’d recommend it as a white with a seafood-based first course, or else at the end of a meal with a good piece of Comté cheese.

16.00€ TTC / 13.38€ per bottle              
172.80€ TTC / 144.48€ HT per cas

2008 Saumur Blanc ‘Brezé’
Domaine Guiberteau

Romain Guiberteau’s winery is located at the end of the fittingly named “Impasse du Cabernet’ in the town of Saint-Just-sur-Dive, just outside of Saumur, where his family has been making wine at the same address since Romain’s great-great grandfather started the winery in the beginning of the 20th century. The domaine has long had a history of innovation: the early success was due to a custom-built transport cart that allowed Cément Mainguin (the domaine’s founder) to quickly transport two busses of wine (just over 500 L) directly to local cafés. In 1939, Cément’s son-in-law Robert Guiberteau was one of the first people to use cement vats for the storage of wine – the same vats now serve for the fermentation of the red wines. When Romain took over in 1996, he began a conversion to organic viticulture, and today has a combined 9.5 hectares of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.

The terroir of Brezé is one of the most famous vineyards in the Loire Valley, known especially for producing minerally white Chenin Blanc. Guiberteau’s vineyard is a 1.2 hectare plot of 50 year old vines in the Southern part of the vineyard, and only 6000 bottles are produced each year. The wine is bone-dry, racy, and is delicious young, but has a possibility of ageing for 8-10 years.

32.00€ TTC / 26.76€ HT per bottle        
345.60€ TTC / 288.96€ HT per case

2009 Fitou ‘La Cadette’
Domaine Les Mille Vignes

Domaine Les Mille Vignes is somewhat of an insider’s domaine in the appellation of Fitou, just north of the town of Narbonne, overlooking the Mediterranean sea. The domaine was started in 1979 by Jacques Guérin, after he “retired” from teaching viticulture in Orange. He purchased his first 1000 vines (hence the name), and began an ambitious project of creating exceptional wines from a long-overlooked terroir.

The domaine is run today by his daughter Valérie, who has the same near-obsessive dedication to quality, backed up by a very healthy dose of confidence in herself and her wines. Fitou has one of worst reputations for an appellation, so I suppose it takes such confidence to succeed in producing exceptional bottles in a region where most growers are churning out kilos of unripe grapes destined to be sold by the liter at the local co-op. 

According to Valerie, the cuvée La Cadette is the “balance between three Mediterranean grapes”: 40% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, and 30% Carignan. There is an intense aroma of violets in the wine, along with an inky-purple color and an unexpected freshness. Despite the fact that La Cadette is the cuvee with the most production, the total is still only 8000 bottles, a literal drop in the ocean of Languedoc red, but quite a fine drop nonetheless. This is perfect wine to open for a barbeque, and could benefit from 2-5 years in the cellar.

25.00€ TTC / 20.90€ HT per bottle                    
270.00€ TTC / 225.75€ per case

2008 Nuits-Saint-Georges ‘Aux Allots’
Domaine Bertrand Machard de Gramont

Axelle Machard de Gramont took over winemaking from her father in 2004. She never wanted to be a winemaker, and was working in Paris while her sister took over the family domaine. However, her sister didn’t enjoy working in the vineyards, and Axelle volunteered to change her life and move back to Burgundy. Inspired by winemaker friends Catherine and Pierre Breton from the Loire, she began converting the vineyards to organic farming and adopted a noninterventionist approach in the cellar.

The winery is located way off the beaten trail in the town of Curtil-Vergy in the beautiful Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits, but the vines are mostly in small, lesser-known plots in the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, plus a tiny parcel of Vosne-Romanée, and a bit of Aligoté that is planted on a beautiful hillside next to the Abbaye St-Vivant. For me, Axelle’s wines represent all my favorite aspects of Burgundy: elegance, terroir, humanity, and joy.

Like all reds from Nuits-Saint-Georges, the Aux Allots vineyard is planted to 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is located on the north side of town, closer to Vosne-Romanée, which gives more perfumed reds. “Aux Allots” gives wines that have aroma, but also a bit of bite to them—try at cellar temperature with a rich fish dish, or with poultry. 2008 is vintage to enjoy now or in the next few years.

32.00€ TTC / 26.80€ HT per bottle                    
345.00€ TTC / 288.96€ HT per case

2008 Côtes-du-Marmandais ‘Clos Baquey’
Elian Daros

The Côtes-du-Marmandais is located 30 km southeast of Libourne, and is technically considered part of the great Southwest. In 1998, when Elian Da Ros built his simple winery with ambitions to make exceptional wines, the local co-op produced 100% of the wines from the appellation. Today, the co-op produces 99% of the wines from the appellation, so you can’t exactly say he started a trend.

Before building his winery in the middle of the family vines, Elian worked for five years with Olivier Humbrect at domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, where he absorbed Olivier’s dedication to quality and attentive work in the vines. There’s an interesting mix of grapes in the Côtes-du-Marmandais—Bordeaux varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc; a unique local grape called Abouriou; and even a bit of Syrah. When Elian’s father and uncle planted the vineyards, they didn’t have the money to afford the newest types of vines, and had to “make do” with the old selection massale vines. This turned out to be a stroke of luck, as selection massale vines are now highly sought after for producing the best grapes.

The Clos Baquey comes from the domaine’s best vineyards, which are located on a small band of limestone that runs through the vines. The blend is Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Abouriou. Give this wine 5-10 years in the cellar, or at least a few hours in a carafe before serving with rich meaty dishes.

32.00€ TTC / 26.80€ HT per bottle
345.00€ TTC / 288.96€ HT per case

2009 Lalande-de-Pomerol
Château Samion

In 2007, Jean-Claude Berrouet retired as the technical director for Petrus after 44 years. It’s a well-kept secret that as a retirement project, he runs a small winery with his youngest son Jean-François just outside of Saint-Emilion. They make two wines: a Lalande-de-Pomerol under the label Château Samion, and a Montagne-Saint-Emilion called Vieux Château Saint André. It’s definitely a discreet operation – there is not even a sign indicating the name of the estate.

The wines are made following the same techniques and philosophy at Petrus—every year is different and there are no rules. Fermentation is in small concrete tanks, and then the wines are aged in new and used oak barrels for 16 months. The goal is to make the best wine every year by observing what is happening in the vineyard and in the winery, reflecting, and then reacting.

It would be completely wrong to call this a baby Petrus- the terroir is not so noble. But it would not be wrong to call the wines of Château Samion an example of the best that the terroir of Lalande-de-Pomerol can produce.Yet the comparison is interesting, as this wine is also 100% Merlot, yielding a rich, soft red wine that is for the red wine lovers out there. This could easily age 4-5 years, and would be great with a filet au poivre.

25.00€ TTC / 20.90€ HT per bottle                    
270.00€ TTC / 225.75€ per case

If you would like to sign up for the Seasonal Spring Wine Club and receive a case of our favorite wines 3 times per year, just fill out this form


  1. I just received my Spring shipment and tried the Aux Allots last night. Lovely! I felt as if I were right back in France. Thank you so much for sourcing such awesome finds and at least now I can feel as if I have a little bit of Spring Boutique in Southern California.


  2. Am drinking the 2006 Côtes-du-Jura ‘BB1' now. LOVE it!!

    1. Hi Mimi,
      I'm glad you're enjoying the wines. Thanks for commenting on the post! I'm working on next selection now.