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K&L Staff Recommendations
Joël Taluau is a fabulous grower in St. Nicolas de Bourgueil known for making some of the purest expressions of Cabernet Franc in the Loire, which are unmarred by the intrusion of oak. He was also the first producer in the appellation to begin domaine bottling. These days, Joel makes wines with the help of his son-in-law, Thierry Foltzenlogel. Their "Expression" comes from vines up to 35 years old, planted on a hillside with clay and limestone. The terroir is perfect for a youthful expression of Cabernet Franc that's immediately drinkable and fresh, with... Read More »
Always a favorite value-priced Chinon, perfect for everyday drinking. The color of polished garnets, it has bright red and black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of a violet and pepper, and a vein of spice threaded carefully through from start to finish. Perfect with charcuterie, cool weather braises or grilled lamb chops with gremolata.
From the importer: "Les Hautes Noëlles fun loving rouge! To enjoy slightly chilled with grilled meats, fish, and heartier (think duck) salads. Gamay imparts fresh, crunchy red fruits, while the Grolleau Noir lends a touch of pepper and spice. The traditional vinification and addition of Cabernet Franc provides just the right amount of structure on the finish. A great wine to say hé ho! Gamay & Grolleau Noir are vinified via carbonic maceration. Cabernet Franc is destemmed and follows a traditional fermentation with 5 days maceration in stainless steel ta... Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Delicate scents of heather and elegant citrus notes carry a kiss of sweetness through this wine. The flavors are all withheld, the finish quiet and pretty, focused on mineral and floral notes. This should develop well over the next several years." (4/2014) Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The cherry-colored regular 2012 Chinon Cabernet Franc has a lovely clear and fresh acerbic cherry aroma mixed with raspberries. It is a light to medium-bodied, fruit-driven, silky textured, refreshing red wine with a brisk acidity, ideal for a summer lunch at high noon or with some snacks in the afternoo ...Read More »
From 100% estate biodynamically farmed vines, this is a very promising wine. Known primarily for making some of the greatest white wines in the Loire region, Chidaine has been farming these vineyards for several years. Good dark concentration of fruit where neither varietal dominates, but rather complements the others. The faintly mineral nose shows notes of pepper melded with the red fruit and leads into a wine with medium tannins, good concentration and length. Not a heavy wine, it has plenty of character, and bright acidity, which makes it a classic f... Read More »
Joël Taluau is a fabulous grower in St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, known for making some of the purest expressions of Cabernet Franc in the Loire. All his hand-harvested cuvees are based on vine age and soil composition, and the wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel with a light fining and no filtration before bottling. The Vieilles Vignes, from a single plot planted in 1934, has power, depth and grace; this, their flagship wine, will improve for the next 7-9 years but can be enjoyed now for those of you who like a mouthful of wine.
The Château du Hureau is located in the small town of Dampierre sur Loire, about four miles east of Saumur and 15 miles west of Chinon. The Château itself is an impressive sight, with its 18th-century Mansard roof and octagonal tower topped by a boar-headed weathercock, from which the domaine takes its name--a hureau is an old, solitary wild boar. Behind the Château sits the winery carved out of the limestone cliffs in the 13th century and overlooking the Loire river. For wine lovers, the cave is even more impressive than the Château, with numerous paths... Read More »
The nose is teeming with loads of red fruit up top and a slightly denser core of blue fruits underneath. The chalk of the soil comes through on the mid-palate while the classy fruit texture of the Pinot Noir envelops a silky tannin structure which leads into a tasty finish that lingers on the palate for quite some time. This is definitely a denser and more concentrated version of the regular Cheverny Rouge and would greatly benefit with about three years of bottle aging, or a good hour of decanting.
93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Deep, dark ruby with a dense core. Black cherry and blueberry aromas are complemented by cool, chalky verve. At once lush and bright, showing sublime breadth to the dark berry and mineral flavors. This stylish wine saturates the palate on the long finish, with suave tannins and a hint of herbal coolness pleading for patience. With only 12.5% alcohol, this Chinon proves that Cabernet Franc does not need to be overripe to bring forth great wines." (12/2014) K&L Notes: One of Chinon's oldest and most famous sites, Clos du Chêne Vert is located in the actual town of Chin... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Offers a racy feel, with graphite framing the black cherry, tobacco and sage notes, melding pleasantly through the finish. (Web Only—2013)" K&L Notes: Yet another fantastic example of what happens when you have a winemaker who cares about the land, the vines, the region and the ancient craft which they were born to do. Frédéric Mabileau has just 27 hectares under vine across the appellations of St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil, Saumur and Anjou in the Loire Valley, all farmed organically since 2007. Frederic works mostly with his passion varietal, Cabernet Franc w... Read More »
Joël Taluau is a fabulous grower in St. Nicolas de Bourgueil known for making some of the purest expressions of cabernet franc in the Loire. All is hand harvested, cuvees are based on vine age and soil composition. Then the wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel, with a light fining and no filtration before bottling.
This is an everyday Cabernet Franc from organic and biodynamic growers Pierre and Catherine Breton. (Their name, coincidentally, is also the local word for Cabernet Franc.) Made from their younger vines grown on gravelly soils, this is the perfect introduction to this producer's range--youthful, with bright cherry fruit, spicy black pepper and savory herbs. Delicious!
This comes from the little known AOC of Côte Roannaise, which was established in 1994 and sits about 50 kilometers west of Lyon in the Loire Valley. The granitic soils of this southern appellation are well-suited to Gamay, and especially to the family-owned Domaine Robert Sérol, now being run by the fifth generation. The domaine's namesake, Robert, was the first in the family to bottle the wines, and he can be still found wandering the property today, though it is his son Stéphane who has been managing their 20 hectares since 2000. The Vieilles Vignes co... Read More »
91 points Wine & Spirits: "Bretêche is higher up the slope than Galichets (recommended below), its soils layering clay and limestone over tuffeau. The Caslot family ferments their wines without added yeast and ages them for two or more years in 400- to 500-liter oak casks. This is an ambitious wine, powerfully extracted, clean in its highlights of blue fruit, warm and ripe in the finish. It’s a mouthwatering, juicy pleasure, suited to aging or to decanting for roast meats." (4/2015) Antonio Galloni: "Medium ruby. Floral aromas of redcurrant, graphite and tobacco. Supple on the attack, then juicy on t ...Read More »
Praise from the Wine Advocate: "There has seldom, if ever, been a finer pair of vintages back to back here than 2010 and 2011, which among other things fully vindicates Boulay’s decision – which might initially have seemed too eager – to proliferate progressively more expensive cuvees. At the same time, the basic bottlings from this address...remain consistently outstanding values. It’s a pleasure to witness the buzz beginning at last to collect both in France and abroad around this diligent grower whose wines for so long far-excelled his modest reputati... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
J.M. Jean-Maurice Raffault’s famed Chinon estate is now run by his son Rodolphe. The family has been vignerons in Chinon since 1693 and the estate now comprises 40 hectares spread over 6 communes. Raffault prefers to harvest his cabernet Franc as late as possible and then vinifies each parcel separately. The fermentation process can last up to a month and he incorporates a daily pump over for maximum extraction of flavor and color. Then the wines get to rest in Bordeaux casks inside his 54 degree limestone cellar while the magic happens.
Catherine and Pierre Breton are the real life bon vivants vignerons of lore. They are passionate about what they do, they enjoy sharing it with others, and they entertain with a generosity and charm. That they make great wine with such integrity makes our appreciation of them complete. The Bretons farm eleven hectares of vines just east of Bourgueil in the village of Restigné. They produce Chinon and Bourgueil, as well as a bit of Vouvray, creating honest wines for both early consumption and longer aging. The Bretons first introduced biodynamic practices... Read More »
An average vine age of fifty years old and from the outstanding vintage of 2009 - especially good for Cab Franc. Ripe fruit with good depth and concentration throughout. Ripe tannins and fantastic length. Drinking nice now but, can be cellared for many more years. Over all, pretty wine with a darker core. (Eric Story, Loire Buyer)
Only 300 cases produced and just happens to be the first vintage of Gamay produced by Xavier. I absolutely love Gamay from this region of the world. It has a rich depth of color and fruit structure, good spicy aromatics but light and easy to drink without being overly serious. Try it with grilled sausages or an herb marinated skirt steak. (Eric Story, Loire Buyer)
This bottling is the finest red wine bottling from Domaine Breton and a top expression of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. The single hectare of old vines in Bougueil yield a mere 20 hectoliters/hectare annually. Breton practices strict organic and biodynamic viticulture with a focused eye on terroir in this particular bottling. Les Perrières was bottled after a full two years in barriques.
100& Pinot Noir, from vines aged 10-40 years planted to the calcareous clay and limestone soils of Sancerre. A cold maceration and fermentation was followed by ageing for 8-9 months in a combination of half stainless, half used (1-5 year old) barrique, resulting in a bright, cherry and raspberry-fruited expression with soft tannins and hints of baking spice. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, there is nice texture on the midpalate and a silky finish. From the importer: "Domaine du Pré Semelé lies in a tiny valley a few miles northwest of the hilltop town of... Read More »
Good, honest Chinon in a box - it doesn't get much better than this! We love this fruity, easy-drinking Cabernet Franc from husband and wife team Pascal and Beatrice Lambert. Not only is it organically certified and free of sulphur additives, but it is elegantly balanced and a great match for a variety of foods, from light picnic fare and cheeses to heartier smoked and grilled meat dishes.
Wine Spectator: "Features dark olive and singed juniper notes around the core of black cherry and plum fruit. A light charcoal hint holds the finish, though the structure is modest overall. Drink now. 60 cases imported. (Web Only - 2015)" K&L Notes: From vines over 25 years old planted mid-slope in soils that are composed of clay and sand. Aged in neutral barrels and tank, this beautifully balanced Cabernet Franc has a dark, brooding nose of plums, minerals and some berries. Fairly thick on the palate, the ripe tannins are quite present, but also coated by a fairly large dose of red... Read More »
Cédric Garreau began his modest 2.7 acre domaine in 2010 with a commitment to organic farming. That year, he secured two parcels of established, organically farmed vineyards. The Gar'O'Vin Anjou Rouge is 100% Cabnernet Franc which was farmed with small yields of 30 hl/ha and an emphasis on quality. It was macerated and fermented on native yeasts for a period of three weeks with no chapitalization before being aged for 10 months in barrique. It offers an aromatic profile with red fruit and excellent mouthfeel and fine tannins.
In 2008, the famed Loire Valley vigneron Jo Pithon, his wife Isabelle, Isabelle's son Joseph Paillé and his wife Wendy, joined together to start Pithon-Paillé--a négociant not unlike those in the Rhône Valley or Burgundy. "Grand Monts" is an organically grown, ripe, full yet fresh Loire Cab Franc. From the domaine: "This Bourgueil comes from slopes descending into the Loire River close to the town of Benais. This is considered the most beautiful terroir of the appellation. Old vines grow on thin top soil on top of tuffeau. The wine is deep, concentrated ... Read More »
Notes about the Winery: "The Domaine de l'R is a fairly new, it was founded by Frédéric Sigonneau in 2007, and it is already counted by Chinon amateurs among the ones where cabernet franc shines. Frédéric and his parents have been living next door to Bernard Baudry, he was a childhood friend of Mathieu, Bernard's son. He then worked at Fabrice Gasnier, an organic (and now biodynamic) vigneron 4 km away. Then at the end of the wine school in 2002 he went to Spain where he stayed 2 years, working on biodynamicly-farmed ungrafted vineyards. Back in France... Read More »
50% Malbec, 50% Cabernet Franc
100% Cabernet Franc. Biodynamically farmed and certified organic. La Folie comes from plots in the village of Champigny itself with vines ranging from 15-50 years in age. Clay and limestone soils. Hand-harvested. Native yeast fermentation in 50 hl concrete vats for 4 weeks. Aged for 12 months in half 38 hl foudre and half in 4-5 year old barriques. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
In 2008, the famed Loire Valley vigneron Jo Pithon, his wife Isabelle, Isabelle's son Joseph Paillé and his wife Wendy, joined together to start Pithon-Paillé--a négociant not unlike those in the Rhône Valley or Burgundy. The "Dessus Narçay" is sourced from 50-year-old Cabernet Franc vines, in the process of being converted to organic farming, in the commune of Cravant les Coteaux. A bright, vibrant Cab Franc from Chinon, a great picnic red for cold cuts.
91 points Wine Spectator: "Mature, with softening blackberry and cassis fruit caressed by elegant spice, toast and mineral notes. Plush, smoky finish allows the fruit and toast to mingle nicely." (5/2006)
Antoine Foucault (yes, son of Chalry Foucault of Clos Rougeard) and Caroline Boireau found the estate in 1999. Located in the village of Breze their 6 hectares of vineyards (Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc only) are farmed on the biodynamic principals and are given nothing but optimum attention all the while letting Mother Nature do her thing. The wines are all fermented and rested barrel, of various ages and types, for two to three years and only bottled when the wine is ready. Domaine du Collier represents hard work and simplicity at its finest. These ar... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Quite dark, featuring roasted bay leaf and charcoal flavors running through a core of dark plum and blackberry fruit. Stays fresh despite the profile, with a sweet tapenade note enlivening the finish. Not for everyone." (8/2013) K&L Notes: Savory Loire Cabernet Franc from an historic property (the château dates to the 11th century).
French Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy? Quelle...interesting diversion! This Reuilly Rouge, from a sommelier turned vinter, is made from Pinot Noir grapes.
This goes thru a long cold soak in small amphora and then also fermented and aged (12mnths) in amphora. Clos de l'Elu is an older property which was taken over in 2008 by Thomas Carsin and Gregoire du Bouexic. It is located in the small village of Saint Aubin de Luigne not too far from the city of Angers. Under the inspiration of growers such as Jo Pithon they have converted all of their holdings over to biodynamic farming and continue to acquire vineyards and convert as they grow. These wines are at the higher end of what the all too often Anjou region ... Read More »
Antonio Galloni: "Deep ruby. Aromas of redcurrant, dried flowers and graphite. Suave and juicy on the palate, with bitter cherry fruit complicated by notes of tar, tobacco and leather. Finishes firmly tannic, with enticing spices lingering on the aftertaste." (12/2014)
From the importer: "80% Pinot Noir, 20% Gamay. The name of this cuvée refers to the shape of the stones that are found in these vineyards. Less structured, this wine shows more finesse than structure and can pair well with lighter dishes. It will age gracefully for 10-15 years in the bottle."
Rocfontaine's Saumur Champigny rouge is sourced from 15-20 year-old Cabernet Franc vines planted in calcareous clay. Grapes are hand-harvested, and the individually managed lots are fermented quickly to extract a generous fruit profile without hard tannins. The result is a fine Loire red, which happens to be wonderfully drinkable and food-friendly in its youth.
92 points Wine Spectator: "Nice robust beam of black currant, fig and olive flavors, with briary tannins, toast, tobacco and mineral driving the finish. A broad-shouldered Bourgueil." (11/2006)
Joël Taluau is a fabulous grower in St. Nicolas de Bourgueil known for making some of the purest expressions of Cabernet Franc in the Loire, unmarred by the intrusion of oak--which he hasn't used in production since 1986. He was also the first producer in the appellation to begin domaine bottling. The Vieilles Vignes, from a single plot of Cabernet Franc planted in 1934, is prized for its power, depth and grace. This flagship wine is meant to age, and the large format bottle will have helped to preserve freshness. Enjoy now!
100% Cabernet Franc for the lover, enthusiast and collector of Cab Franc. Only being produced in superior years, this comes from 80 - 100 year old vines planted in the clay and limestone earth that is Saumur Champigny. The harvest is 100% de-stemmed then vinified in cement for 20-30 days before being moved into barrique (mostly old but some new) for up to 6 months and then bottle aged deep within the safe cool surroundings of a limestone cellar. Although fairly tight this wine shows the seductive beauty Cab Franc can have. Lots of perfumed violets and fr... Read More »
Inventory: San Francisco
Antonio Galloni: "Dark ruby. Wild aromas of raspberry, mocha and pistachio. Supple on the attack, showing a restrained sweetness to the flavors of red fruits, graphite and vanilla. The tannins are slightly herbal but avoid turning dry on the finish. Almost Beaujolais-like in style, this Cabernet Franc will only be released next year. (JP)" (12/2014) K&L Notes: The is a delicious Cabernet Franc from the Domaine de Saint Just, established by Yves Lambert and his son Arnaud in 1996. The organically farmed vines are planted in iron-rich soils that lend the wine minerality, power and spici... Read More »
Wine Spectator: "Firm, with a nice structured edge to the black cherry, olive, tobacco and iron notes. There's solid length through the finish. (Web Only—2009)"