Champagne Louis Nicaise - Vallée de la Marne

France - Champagne and Sparkling

Champagne Louis Nicaise is located in the heart of Hautvillers, the village made famous by Dom Perignon and known as the birthplace of champagne. They produce about 6,000cs per year. Grower-Producers, the Nicaise family have been making champagne for 4 generations from their 9 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards, all in Hautvillers, but it is only very recently the arrival at the domaine in 2007 of the new generation represented by Laure Nicaise-Préaux and her husband, then 25 year old Clement Préaux. Clémént apprenticed at Anselme Selosse and work at the co-op of Mailly before becoming part of the Louis Nicaise family. As his father-in-law has given him more control, Clémént has reduced the dosages on the wines and pushed the quality upwards.

Delavenne Pere et Fils - Bouzy

France - Champagne and Sparkling

or 4 generations the Delavenne family has been producing distinctive Champagne cuvees from their 9 hectare estate in the Grand Cru villages of Bouzy, Cramant and Ambonnay. All the vineyards are Grand Cru and every effort is made to retain the pure expression of the terroir. All fermentations are done in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks as it is felt that barrels would detract from the transparency of terroir. None of the wines are put through malolactic fermentation to maintain the exceptionally bright, fresh and clean, knife-edge acidity. All cuvees are aged a minimum of three years in bottle. The estate produces their own liqueur from cane sugar mixed with older wines. Vintage wines are hand-riddled; non-vintage are riddled by machine. Agriculture is mostly organic and no herbicides are used. Annual production is 70,000b and 300,000b are kept in the cellars. The end result is a set of fascinating cuvees with a distinct style combing crystalline acidity, brilliant purity of fruit and a sense of Grand Cru quality.

Champagne Jean Pernet - Le Mesnil sur Oger

France - Champagne and Sparkling

Champagne Jean Pernet is a superlative family owned estate of 40 acres centered in Le Mesnil sur Oger with vineyards in Vertus, Chouilly, Epernay, Chavot and Leuvrigny. 35% of the vineyards are Grand Cru. 60% is Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. Yearly production is 125,000b with a storage capacity of 450,000b. 80% of sales are exports. Agricultural practices are sustainable and the grapes are harvested by hand. The limestone soils are an average of 32 years old. The estate produces 5 excellent cuvees.

Varichon and Clerc

France - Champagne and Sparkling

Since 1901, the winery of Varichon and Clerc has been producing traditional sparkling wines from local and international varieties to great acclaim. Much of the Savoie area is mountainous, allowing very little room for land possible to farm. Despite that, and the regions huge climate extremes (again, Alpen foothills) the region has a growing reputation for crafting intriguing wines from local and international varieties; vibrant whites being the most noteworthy.

Agathe Bursin - Westhalten, Alsace

France - Alsace

In 2000, at the age of 24, Agathe Bursin created a 3.4ha domaine from vineyards belonging to members of her family. Declared in 2004 by Cuisine and Vin to be one of the future stars of the region.Very limited quantities. She usually sells out of her wines before the end of the year.

Gerard Metz - Itterswiller, Alsace [NJ Only]

France - Alsace

The Domaine Gerard Metz stretches over 12 hectares of vineyard on the vosgean buttress, located on the wine road between the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg and the Mount Sainte-Odile, halfway between Strasbourg and Colmar, the center of Alsace. The vineyard is composed of : 20% vines that are 10 to 20 years old, 40% vines 20 to 30 years old, 33% vines more than 30 years old and 7% of vines are young and recently planted.

Michel Libeau - Domaine de La Landelle - Le Loroux Bottereau, Muscadet

France - Loire

Michel Libeaus, Domaine de la Landelle has 19 ha of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine with Melon de Bourgogne grape variety, 3 ha of Gros Plant with Folle Blanche grape variety and 2 ha of Gamay. Vines are ploughed in rotation, so that the roots can draw on the minerals of the schistose soil. The low pruning increases the sun’s reflection that gives the grapes the perfect degree of ripeness. The entire harvest is done manually selecting the best grapes to optimize the quality of each vintage.

Domaine Guidon - Muscadet

France - Loire

Pierre Guindon owns a 49 ha domaine composed of many different parcels located around four different villages: 13ha in Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, 2ha in Gros Plant and 13ha in Coteaux d’Ancenis. The soil is primarily clay-granite-schist on hillsides. All of the vines are harvested by hand, something of a rarity in Muscadet. In Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire, Pierre makes three and sometimes four different cuvees.

Domaine Serge et Bruno Sourdais - Cravant-les-Coteaux, Chinon

France - Loire

This family-owned, picturesque estate in the predominantly red wine producing Loire appellation of Chinon works 50 hectares of vines with clay/sand and clay/limestone soils and vines up to 80 years old. Each vineyard is vinified separately producing a range of styles from forward and lush with bright fruit and soft tannins to wines that are dense and rich with layers of complex fruit and tannins that improve dramatically with age. Elevage is in stainless steel and old foudres. Natural winemaking.

Jean Benoit Brazilier - Thoré-la-Rochette, Coteaux du Vendômois

France - Loire

Located in the heart of appellation Coteaux du Vendômais, Jean Brazilier and his son Benoît represent the seventh generation of Braziliers to have worked vineyards in Thoré-la-Rochette. Together, they farm 25 hectares of vines, a significant holding in these parts. Ten of these are family owned and mostly replanted by Jean himself over the past 25 years. For the appellation wines, they tend four hectares of Chenin Blanc, five of Pineau d’Aunis and seven of Cabernet Franc. There are also a couple of hectares of Pinot Noir planted as well. Coteaux du Vendômois attained AOC status in May 2001

Domaine des Roy - Pontlevoy, Touraine - Certified Organic

France - Loire

After earning degrees in viticulture in Nantes and oenology in Bordeaux in 2005, Anne-Cecile Roy took over the family domaine of 10 hectares in the Cher Valley. The domaine on clay-silex soils is certified organic. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented with natural yeasts. The wines have been noted by the Revue des Vins de France, Guide Hachette and other publications. David Schildknecht took note of them in the August 2010 Wine Advocate, The new generation that is organically farming the family Domaine des Roy seem to be on their way to achieving noteworthy quality.

Domaine Brunet - Vouvray

France - Loire

The Brunet family has farmed 14 hectares of clay, limestone and flinty soils in the Loire town of Vouvray for 8 generations. In their 3 cellars cut into the hillsides they produce a full range of Chenin Blanc from the very crisp, dry and mineral Sec to the very sweet, age-worthy Moelleux. Bursting with tart, green apple fruit and given complexity by the gout de terroir of limestone, flint and minerals, these wines are lively, bright and fresh and take age exceedingly well. The 2007’s are just coming into their own.

Domaine Mollet-Maudry - Saint Satu, Pouilly Sur Loire, Organic

France - Loire

The Mollet-Maudry family is one of the most ancient winegrower of Pouilly sur Loire with more than 10 generations of wine farmers. Since 2000, the eldest son in the family, Florian, took over the estate with the firm will to make it one of the finest Domaines in the area. The estate has 11,5 hectares including the famous Clos du Roc vineyard in Sancerre. Approx. 70% of all Sauvignon Blanc wines are matured in stainless steel vats and about 30% in oak barrels.

Domaine Alphonse Dolly - Thauvenay En Sancerr, Sancerre

France - Loire

This family-owned estate in Sancerre produces crisp wines of great freshness and purity. The generic Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from vineyards just outside the Sancerre appellation are classic examples of these varietals with great aromatics and bright fruit backed by vibrant acidity and a clean finish. The Sancerre and Pouilly Fume are special cuvees made only from flint (Silex) soils which gives them a fascinating layer of minerality in the nose and on the palate that make them superb and unique food wines.

Benoît Chauveau - Les Cassiers, Pouilly Fumé

France - Loire

Benoit Chaveau took over this family domaine of 12ha in 1998. They produce great value Pouilly Fumés from a mix of soils - one cuvée is from silex soils and one from caillottes.

Domaine Jean-Marc Burgaud - Morgo, Beaujolais

France - Burgundy

Jean-Marc Burgaud created this domaine in 1989. He produces wines from Beaujolais Villages (5 ha) and Régnié (1 ha), but most of his production is in Morgon (13 ha). The estate itself is, literally, within the confines of the Côte du Py vineyard. In the vineyard Jean-Marc works traditionally, ploughing the soil.  He’s not certified organic, but his philosophy is both traditional and manual.  He hasn’t used chemical insecticide for 10 years

Domaine Gry-Sablon

France - Burgundy

The beginnings of the estate date back to the early1900s. Mr. Besson, Dominique Morel’s great-grandfather, moved to the town of Émeringes. A man of his time, Besson was the inventor of the first filter press, for which he won a bronze medal at the Concours Lépine in 1910. He set up a distillery and a cooperage near the small 2-hectare (5-acre) vineyard.

Domaine Mallory and Benjamin Talmard

France - Burgundy

This lovely Macon-Villages is 100% Chardonnay grown in the village of Chardonnay in the heart of Burgundy’s Cote Maconnais by a small, family-run, artisanal estate. It is aged exclusively in stainless steel tanks which preserves the brightness and purity of apple, pear and quince fruit characteristic of the Chardonnay grape as well as a crisp, clean finish on the palate. A refreshing line of minerality in the aromas and on the palate help make this a delightful aperitif or fine accompaniment for food.

Lamblin and Fils - Maligny

France - Burgundy

et up in the town of Maligny, Lamblin Fils is one of the oldest Domaine in the Chablis region. The first traces of this family on this land date back 1690...

Domaine Seguinot-Bordet - Maligny

France - Burgundy

Vibrant young winemaker Jean-Francois Bordet’s family has been making wine in Chablis since 1595. The estate includes 14 hectares and in addition buys Vaillons and Vaudesir from neighbors. Except for the Grand Cru, all elevage is done in stainless steel. The wines exhibit the classical style of Chablis with clean fruit, fresh, bright acidity, and a clear sense of minerality from the abundance of fossil shells in the Kimmeridgian limestone soils.

François Raquillet - Mercurey

France - Burgundy

Over the past five years François has been recognized by the french press as one of the top growers in Mercurey. The Wine Advocate noted that he is relentlessly pushing the envelope on Côte Chalonnaise quality and in the process offering Burgundian Pinots of excellent price/quality rapport. Regularly noted in the Guide Hachette, he received a coup de coeur in the 2010 edition.

Domaine Latour-Giraud - Meursault

France - Burgundy

Domaine Latour-Giraud is one of the premier producers of Meursault today. Tremendous efforts have been made by winemaker Jean-Pierre Latour to reduce yields and refine cellar techniques to increase quality. These are classic white Burgundies: stylish and powerful, layered and balanced. The village wine, Cuvee Charles Maxime, combines lemon-pear-quince fruits with the characteristic mineral qualities of the soil in Meursault. Organic agriculture (not certified) and natural winemaking.

Domaine Michel Caillot - Meursault

France - Burgundy

The Caillot domaine was established in the village of Meursault in 1962 by Roger Caillot, the father of Michel. The estate includes 13 hectare of vineyards, seven in white wines and six in red, ranging from 20 to 65 years of age. The focus of white wine production is in Meursault with some production in Puligny Montrachet, Bâtard Montrachet and Santenay. The reds are located in Pommard, Volnay, Beaune and Monthelie. Roger's son Michel began working in the vineyards in the late 1980s and took over élevage in the mid 1990s. Under Michel's management, the Caillot estate practices organic agriculture and does not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Through pruning and green harvesting, yields are kept low at the level of 25-40 hectoliters per hectare. In the cellar, Michel is a fanatic for quality and is committed to the principles of non-interventionist winemaking. Fermentation is accomplished with whole clusters and natural, wild yeasts. The winery has three levels to facilitate all movement of wines by gravity. Pumps are never used for racking or bottling. Michel uses little to no SO2, preferring CO2 as an antioxidant. The wines are kept on their lees as long as possible and racked once before bottling. The whites are fined, but not filtered and generally are aged in 30% new oak barrels, except for the 1er and grand cru which get 50-70% new barrels. The reds are not fined or filtered and are aged in 30-60% new barrels. All are bottled by hand. Michel's wines have a clear house style. The whites are beautifully balanced, combining pure, clean lemon-citrus fruit, the fascinating minerality of the soil, a fine, creamy texture and a crisp, long and complex finish. The vanilla oak is in the background, but does not obtrude, and the individual character of the different vineyards is allowed to show through. The reds are smooth and supple with pure berry and cherry aromas, soft, round tannins and lush, ripe fruits on the palate.Domaine Latour-Giraud is one of the premier producers of Meursault today. Tremendous efforts have been made by winemaker Jean-Pierre Latour to reduce yields and refine cellar techniques to increase quality. These are classic white Burgundies: stylish and powerful, layered and balanced. The village wine, Cuvee Charles Maxime, combines lemon-pear-quince fruits with the characteristic mineral qualities of the soil in Meursault. Organic agriculture (not certified) and natural winemaking.

Le Bon Pasteur - Maillet, Pomerol

France - Bordeaux

This 7 hectare property is composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc situated on clay, gravel and sandy soils. The average age of the vines is 30+ years. The wine is fermented in small stainless steel tanks before being aged in new French oak barrels for 15-18 months dependant on the vintage.

Château Couffin du Perier - Côtes de Bourg, organic

France - Bordeaux

This tiny, certified organic, estate of 1.5 hectares is appended to its sister property, Château Castaing , just across the Medocand composed exclusively of Merlot. Château Couffin du Perier has risen to the top rung of this satellite appellation as a result of the careful attention paid to yields and the rigorous work done in the vineyards. All combine to showcase the attributes of this incredible terrain.

Château Castaing - Saint Ciers de Canesse , Côtes de Bourg

France - Bordeaux

Vignobles Bonnet and Fils overlooks the Gironde estuary and offers magnificent views over the COTES DE BOURG vineyards. The 30-hectare (74-acre) estate with its rich history has been in the same family since 1876 and five generations of accomplished wine growers and coopers have passed their skills on to Christophe Bonnet, who took over from his father Jean. In modern times when performance and speed are of paramount importance, Vignobles BONNET and Fils is a haven far from fashionable bustle and the madding crowd where a return to established traditions is quite natural. The 10 hectare vineyard from which Ch. Castaing is produced is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from 40 year old vines!

Château Jarr - Fosses and Baleyssac, Bordeaux - Certified Organic / Biodynamic

France - Bordeaux

28 hectare domaine in the heart of the Entre-Deux-Mers, organic for over 40 years, producing inexpensive Bordeaux rouge and blanc.The red is made from Merlot (45%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Malbec (25%) and the white from Sauvignon (75%) and Semillon (25%).

Roucas Toumba - Vacqueyras

France - Rhone Valley

Eric Bouletin's father died when he was 15 and one year later he left school to help his mother at the domaine. He sold the grapes from the  domaine, which has owned the parcel of Les Restanques de Cabassole since 1723, to the co-op until 2000 when he began to make his own wine. He produces less than 300cs of Vacqueyras from 1.5ha of old vine (some planted in 1915) Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre with yields of about 30hl/ha. In 2012, he has released an entry level Vacqueyras, La Grande Terre more approachable in its youth than the Restanques. Very elegant wines, almost more Burgundian than Rhodanien.

France - Rhone Valley

This domaine was created in 2009 by Irishman Neil Joyce, owner with his French wife of Château Dalmeran in Baux en Porvence, and Frenchman Arnaud Ferrier. The VDP shows pretty cherry and black fruits and cardamon type spice elements. A very satisfying wine with a surprising amount of interest, especially for the price. The CDR has more depth (not surprising with yields of 16.5hl/ha) and is finer. (Grenache/ Cinsault and a little Syrah). The 3 cuvées of Chateauneuf du Pape were noted by Robert Parker in October 2010.

Nicolet Freres- Chante Perdrix

France - Rhone Valley

The Château de Montmirail encompasses two properties: one inherited, the other purchased by Gabriel Archimbaud in the 1960s. The Archimbaud family is the largest vineyard land owner in both villages, farming 24 hectares in Gigondas and 20 in Vacqueyras on clay and limestone soils. Today, Gabriel’s daughter, Monique Archimbaud, her son Philippe Bouteiller, and her daughter Sylvie run the estate. Although they sell off a fair amount of their production to the bulk market, they bottle the best of their grapes under their own label, frequently winning juried competitions for their traditionally styled wines.

Domaine la Blaque - Pierrevert, Provence

France - Rhone Valley

Coteaux de Pierrevert is a little known appellation of 450ha created in 1998. The vineyards located in the Alps of Haute Provence are among the highest in France. The 60ha Domaine La Blaque is recognized as the leading estate of the appellation. David Schildknecht observed in the Wine Advocate #178 that the obscure appellation of Coteaux de Pierrevert is capable of generating some striking, remarkably late-harvested results with Syrah...The Blaque rouge 2007 offers striking personality and sensational value. Vividly recalling Cornas - One Star in the 2009 Guide Hachette.

Patrick LeSec

France - Rhone Valley

An impressive collection of wines from the most important villages in the Southern Rhône is bottled under the Patrick Lesec Selections label. They are in fact all estate-bottled wines, vinified in the cellars of the properties that Patrick Lesec has contracted to work with. Patrick makes great efforts to search out the finest terroirs, the best soils with old vineyards — and thus the finest sources of grapes — in each appellation. These are often growers who own parcels of the best sites, but who may not bottle wine under their own label. Historically, these growers have sold their production to negociants who blend and market their own cuvées. Once Patrick has located and made agreements with these growers, he works closely with them to produce the highest quality possible using his principles of non-interventionist winemaking. First, he tastes through all the barrels and tanks and makes a strict selection of components he wishes to blend into his final cuvee. The variables in this process include different grape varieties, different vineyard sites, and even different lots of the same wines (since each tank or barrel has its own unique character). Once the lots have been selected for the final blend, Patrick specifies how he wants the élevage done. Some lots will be kept in tank to preserve the freshness of their fruit; others will be aged in barrels to add richness, texture and complexity. He continues to visit the cellars and taste the lots to monitor their progress. Adjustments are made, as necessary or desirable. Patrick's cuvées are usually treated with as little sulphur as possible. The wines are not fined or filtered, and are hand-bottled where possible. Patrick's cuvées of Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau and Vacqueyras clearly reflect the style of their respective appellations and terroirs. They have in common lovely aromatics, a distinctive purity of fruit flavors, soft, round tannins and long, pleasant finishes. His cuvées are fresh, natural and vibrant. They generally represent great values.

Chateau Fantou – Preyssac, Cahors

France - Misc

Since 1870 and over five generations, the Aldhuy family has made wine at Chateau Fantou in the village of Preyssac in the Cahors appellation. Lying midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, this ancient and venerable viticultural area is sheltered from harsh weather and benefits from warm autumns which allow full ripening of the harvest. Chateau Fantou now comprises 21 hectares of vineyard on the first and 3rd terraces of the Lot River comprised of gravellyand alluvial soils. The vines are 30-35 years old. The estate has been organic since 2009. As is typical for Cahors, the noble Malbec is the primary production of the estate, providing intense color, long tannins, dense fruit and long term age-ability. A small amount of Merlot is blended in to add roundness and supple texture to the finished wine. All the grapes are destemmed and the wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 2-3 weeks. The more elegant cuvees are aged in older barrels while elevage for the more concentrated Grands Terrasse is in new barrels. These classic Cahors cuvees should be served slightly chilled when young to bring forward the fruit and mask the tannins. They will improve dramatically with age and develop great aromatic complexity and sweetness of fruit.

Chateau Vannieres – Castellet, Bandol

France - Misc

With cellars dating from the 16th century near the village of Castellet, Chateau Vannieres is one of the great domaines in Provence. It consists of 47 hectares, 33 of which are planted to vines, with clay-limestone soil and an average age of 35 years. Agriculture is sustainable. Eric Boisseaux and his son (the family hails originally from Burgundy) craft exceptionally expressive wines from the traditional varietals of the area: Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault. All the grapes are harvested by hand and destemmed. Each varietal and each parcel are fermented separately so that the estate can retain maximum flexibility in blending the different elements of each cuvee. Made primarily from Mourvedre, the substantial Bandol Rouge is fermented in epoxy-lined cement tanks and aged in foudre and barriques for 20-24 months when they are bottled. These are long-lived wines of class and distinction.

Bruno and Fabienne Schenck - Domaine du Grand Arc - Cucugnan, Corbières

France - Misc

The vineyards are among the highest in Corbières which contributes to wines which are fresh and lively. The May 2004 issue of Revue du Vin de France cited Grand Arc as one of the top ‘new talents’ in Corbières and David Schildknecht noted in the Wine Advocate #178 that Fabienne and Bruno Schenck – originally from Alsace – are crafting some outstanding values, all of them wines I would plan to enjoy 12-18 months from their release. and in #184 wrote that they continue to render some generous and distinctive reds ideal for enjoying within a year or two of bottling.

Château Viranel - Saint Chinian

France - Misc

Located in Saint Chinian, Chateau Viranel consists of 40 hectares where the Bergasse family tends their vines and olive trees. The vines, which count an average age of thirty years, are farmed sustainably on their limestone terraced vineyards at the foot-hills of the Massif-Central.

Dom Clavery

France - Misc

Domaine Clavery is situated in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon. The wines produced there come from carefully selected plots and are assembled and prepared with the french know-how. The result is this lovely blend of Viognier and Vermentino.