We know how it goes. We all play it safe. We humans are apt to try something that sounds familiar because there’s a certain security in it. So when we’re getting our wine-tasting feet wet, it seems a lot safer to order a Côtes du Rhône than it does a Jura, because we know that those who’ve gone before us have, in large number, declared it a tasty wine and a safe bet. But the lion’s share of you have been tasting with us for a while now, and you know what Burgundy is, and Bordeaux and Côtes du Rhône. This weekend, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Sunday afternoon, October 27th, our old friend Dylan Higgins will show up with six wines from France, but they won’t necessarily be from the places you’ve heard of. They’ll be little splashes from the odd spots of France that don’t get quite the press of the heavy hitters. The tasting begins at 3:30, and if you bring $35 plus tax and tip, you’ll be treated to not only tastes of the six wines, but to little food pairings meant to go with each of them. Call us at 326-9363 to reserve your seat at the table, as web and email reservations won’t hold you a place, but we’d love to have you join us.
Nooks & Crannies of France
2015 Clos Sainte Magdeleine, Cassis Blanc $33.00
The ancient fishing village of Cassis has seen its fair share of visitors over the millennia. The Phoenicians first arrived in the sixth century B.C., and with them came the timeless Ugni Blanc grape and viticultural savvy. The Romans later made their way here, as well as their Barbarian successors, followed by the medieval Counts of Les Baux, all the way to tourists of the modern era looking to escape the cold, dark cities. Cassis is not only an active port, but what Kermit Lynch calls “an earthly paradise.” The vineyards of Clos Sainte Magdeleine are particularly stunning. They jut out on a private cape to meet majestic limestone cliffs, poised spectacularly above the sparkling, azure Mediterranean. With landscapes such as these, it is only fitting that writers and poets alike have found inspiration in Cassis. Only a handful of vignerons today are fortunate enough to produce A.O.C. Cassis, and the small quantities available are largely consumed locally with fresh fish—the best way to enjoy them. The Sack-Zafiropulos family has been making wine here for four generations and has continued to craft wines of grace and finesse, just as they were when founder Jules Savon won the Gold Medal for the domaine at the World’s Fair in 1900.
2018 Les Rocailles – Pierre Boniface, Apremont Vieilles Vignes $19.00
Pierre Boniface wines are produced at Les Rocailles, a true earthly paradise nestled in the French Alps. When Pierre took over from his father he had a modest business, farming 20 acres and buying grapes from another 20 on handshake deals. Les Rocailles is now one of the biggest and best producers in Savoie, with nearly 50 acres owned and grapes purchased from nearly 60 more! Apremont is the signature wine, accounting for 70% of the production, and the vast majority of HPS Boniface sales.
Growers like Pierre usually look forward to passing their domains on to their children, but in this case, it was just not meant to be. His daughter Miriam is a computer systems architect (who recently interrupted her doctoral studies to get an MBA from Wharton) and his son is literally a rocket scientist (with a PhD in ballistics, he now works on jet engine design for Pratt & Whitney). Pierre subsequently sold the business to Guillaume Durand and Alban Thouroude, two young men (born and bred in Savoie) with MBA’s from the University of Grenoble. All of the winery/vineyard staff has stayed on, and Pierre will continue to actively consult for 5 years. We can confidently report that quality has never been better!
2013 Rene Rostaing, Coteaux du Languedoc Puech Noble Rouge $29.00
Rene Rostaing farms close to 20 hectares across 14 parcels in the Northern Rhone inside and outside of the Cote Rotie and Condrieu ACs.
In the late 1990s, Rene and his wife purchased a property in the Coteaux du Languedoc near Nimes. The estate, originally named Puech Chaud, is now known as Puech Noble. Located in a relatively cool microclimate, Puech Noble gave Rene a chance to produce Syrah on the limestone soils so beloved by many French growers. Bolstered with small amounts of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Rolle, Puech Noble is now producing one of the South’s most beautiful wines. The terroir yields a slight garrique character—the only clue you have that this isn’t Northern Rhone wine of the highest order. It may be the best example yet of the Rostaings’ ethic: elegant, yet concentrated; expressive, but subtle; hedonistic, but cerebral.
2016 Yves Leccia, Ile de Beaute Rouge $30.00
Yves Leccia has a certain presence and noble bearing to him, much like his wines. In France they have often been referred to as the “Rolls-Royce” of Corsican wines, a reputation earned after nearly 30 years of making consistently elegant and sophisticated wines.
Raised in a small village in the heart of Patrimonio, Yves worked alongside his father in the vines and cellar at the earliest age he could. The Leccias have been making wine from some of the finest terroirs of Patrimonio for countless generations, and there was never the least doubt in Yves’ mind that he would continue the tradition. Originally working alongside his sister, he decided to branch off on his own in 2004 and focus on the single terroir he felt was the top in Patrimonio. This terroir, “E Croce,” sits on a thin chalk soil above a thick bedrock of pure schist, facing the gulf of St. Florent. Yves is a firm believer in the idea that if you want something done right you need to do it yourself, and thus he tends to his vines alone and works the cellar by himself as well. He keeps his yields low, knows when to harvest, and knows how to let E Croce express itself in the wines. Not a single bottle comes out of the domaine that isn’t meticulously looked after from start to finish.
2016 Chateau Le Puy, Duc des Nauves Cotes de Bordeaux $25.00
The Amoreau family has been making wine at Chateau le Puy since 1610 – longer than there’s been a city of Boston, since before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and before the first Thanksgiving. Located on the highest point in the Bordeaux Cotes-de-Francs AOC it sits strategically above the Dordogne River and atop the “Coteau des Merveilles “, the same rocky plateau which forms the soils of Pommerol and Saint-Emilion. However Jean-Pierre Amoreau and his son Pascal (14th and 15th generations at Le Puy) aren’t content to mimic those appellations to their east insisting that theirs has always been a singular terroir. One which may soon be officially recognized as the INAO is considering creating a new, single-vineyard AOC in Bordeaux: Le Puy.
The harvest is done manually with multiple passes in the vineyard. All fermentations are spontaneous in custom built concrete tanks to allow a submerged cap – no pigeage or pumping over needed. The resulting tannins are exceptionally soft and velvety. Barthelemy is aged in cask by stirring and without addition of sulfites. Lees stirring is used to protect the wines from oxidation. Racking, battonage and bottling of all wines are done during favorable phases of the moon according to the
2016 Vignobles Brunier, Ventoux Rouge Megaphone $35.00
Vignobles Brunier embodies the ensemble of the holdings by the Brunier family, notably Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Domaine La Roquete, Domaine Les Pallieres (along with Kermit), and Le Pigeoulet des Brunier. Vignobles Brunier came to be by brothers Frederic and Daniel Brunier, the fourth generation of their family to farm the land of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The brothers have worked hard to solidify the legacy left by their father, Henri, and their grandfather, Hippolyte. They have
brought their intricate knowledge of the various terroirs of the Southern Rhone to new heights through the expansion of the holdings. Their properties represent a vast variation of soil types, climatic conditions, and grape varietals.
The Bruniers’ vineyards in Chateauneuf-du-Pape are the most pedigreed of the appellation, producing wines of exceptional quality and longevity. The wines of Le Pigeoulet des Brunier complement their portfolio, offering more affordable, everyday cuvees under the designation Vin de Pays de Vaucluse. These wines are fresh, rich in fruit, pleasantly representative of their terroir, and are easy to appreciate young. The value of these wines is truly amazing when one considers the age of the vines (an average of 35 years), the soils (rich in clay, which aids the vines in water retention), and geography. The name “Le Pigeoulet” is derived from the foothills of the noble La Crau plateau. The assemblage combines fruit from the warm flats around Chateauneuf-du-Pape with fruit from the cooler foothills of Mont Ventoux. The department of the Vaucluse is the common denominator which accounts for the designation of Vin de Pays de Vaucluse. This, combined with the savoir faire of the Brunier brothers, assures great quality at a minimal price.