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A Pair of Top-Selling Picks for the Holidays and Beyond... - 12/12/2017 - French Regional Wines

When we first offered the 2015 Chateau de L'Ou "Secret de Schistes" on pre-arrival this past June, it took the world by storm. With 96-points and unalloyed praise from the critics, it quickly became our top selling red wine of 2017. Jeb Dunnuck was so enthralled that he compared it to the the cult bottlings from Sine Qua Non. This is exceptionally high praise when you consider SQN sells in the range of $300 to $1000 plus, while the "Secret de Schistes" can be had for just over $30 (and the best price you’ll find anywhere). The quality and value here is indisputable.

While we could go on and on about the past success of Novellum Chardonnay, we’ll cut to the chase and point out that Jeb Dunnuck compared this $10.99 bottle with the collectible, cult Chardonnays of Mark Aubert. In other words, this Chard which comes in just under $11 is on the same level as wines that cost five times that price. This is high praise to say the least! Of course accolades this over-the-top beg the question: Is the wine really that good? To that we will simply answer: yes. Wildly expressive, unctuous, and richly textured, this very well could be the best Chardonnay going in the under $15 range. Winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage knows a thing or two about crafting world-class wines no matter the price point, and the 2016 Novellum is irrefutable proof. A perfect joining of old world and new world approaches, it is the kind of Chardonnay that everyone will love, making it the perfect candidate for all your holiday gatherings. Past vintages have always sold at an impressive clip and we expect no less from this stunning 2016. Make sure to stock up now on what will surely be your next go-to white.

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2015 Château de L'Ou "Secret de Schistes" Côtes Catalanes (Elsewhere $40) ($31.99)

96 points Jeb Dunnuck: "I was blown away by the IGP Côtes Catalanes Secret de Schistes, and its unquestionably my favorite vintage of this cuvee to date (Ive compared this wine to a Syrah from Manfred Krankls SQN in the past). Notions of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, roasted herbs and crushed rock nuances give way to a full-bodied, gorgeously textured red that has terrific concentration and a great, great finish. Like all the cuvees here, its 100% Syrah that was fermented and aged all in barrel. Count me as a fan. (JebDunnuck.com)" (08/2017)

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "Saturated black in color, the 2015 IGP Côtes Catalanes Secret de Schistes is reminiscent of Manfred Krankls SQN Syrahs with its deep, unctuous, layered profile. Cassis, chocolate, licorice, smoked herbs and ample minerality all emerge from this full-bodied, sexy beauty that just begs to be drunk. Possessing ripe tannin, a stacked mid-palate and a great finish, it will be better in a year or two and keep for a decade. (JD)" (04/2017)

K&L Notes: Séverine Bourrier came to winemaking through her own passion for the subject, not having the family history associated with so many winemakers. She studied oenology in school and worked in Bordeaux for a decade. After meeting her husband, they relocated to a property an hour outside of Perpignan in the Roussillon. They began restoring an old château and did some replanting, rechristening the estate L’Ou, which is Catalan for "egg." The property is in an oval-shaped valley that was used as a rest area by herd animals and likely the Knights Templar on their way to various crusades. The estate consists of three primary terroirs: the alluvial marl soils that make up the valley, and two higher-elevation sites, one made up of black schist and the other brown. Their key grape variety is Syrah but Séverine also grows the classic regional varieties like Grenache and Carignan. For white grapes, they grow Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Muscat and of all things, Chardonnay, which is renowned for being one of the best in the region.

Staff ImageKeith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 21, 2017

I recently had the chance to revisit the "Secret de Schistes" and what a rockstar this wine is! I was with friends and we did a mixed grill of ribeyes and pork chops plus some roasted sunchokes and kabocha squash. The wine unfolds immediately, dripping with rich black fruit and copious spices. Throughout the evening, I kept checking in and tasted as the tannins mellowed and the flavors expanded into savory, smoky and layered fruit. By the end, it was a dead ringer for a Cote-Rotie worthy of three times the price. With stellar reviews, this wine overwhelmed our fulfillment center with pre-arrival requests well before it arrived in the US. The wine is here and it has more than delivered on its promise of greatness. All the wines from Chateau de L'Ou are organic, artfully made and delicious. The "Schistes" is the top expression of the property's brown schist vineyard site. Because we are the importer of record, we have and continue to have the best price in the market. After my dinner, it was not a difficult decision to add a half dozen more of these to my wine cellar (I already had a half dozen there). With so much going for it, it will continue to please for years and maybe even decades to come.

Staff ImageJohn Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 08, 2017

OK, ready? Strap yourself in, lie back, get comfortable while I adjust the tricky knobs and dials, and take you on a sedimental journey through time, back 1.65 millions years to the Pliocene era and the sweeping view of prehistoric life and surging riverbeds carved by great mountainous glaciers that forever left their mark on the then-unnamed Roussillon plain. Now zoom ahead, to a more sedate landscape covered in vines that plunge their roots into the ancient alluvial soils, lending their complex mineral expression to the fruit. The Secret de Schistes, grown on higher slopes, is a spellbinding Syrah, all barrel-aged, deeply concentrated and elemental, with pure flavors of cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate, garrigue and licorice. A strikingly seductive wine that will likely send you back though time.....

Blake Conklin | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 14, 2017

It's no secret that the Secret De Schistes is one killer bottle of Syrah. The structure in this Syrah, which all comes from brown schistes soils on the estate of Chateau De L'Ou is very well balanced, yet it's deeply complex. The finish is packed with dark stone fruit, chocolate, and baked spices. This bottle was always more driven to be terroir focused, and it showcases beautifully in this 2015 vintage.

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2016 Domaine Lafage "Novellum" Chardonnay Pays d'Oc ($10.99)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A sensational wine that will compete with wines five times the price, the 2016 Novellum Chardonnay is the real deal and actually reminded me of a Chardonnay from Mark Aubert in California's Sonoma County. White peach, crushed rocks, spice and brioche notes all emerge from this medium to full-bodied Chardonnay that has depth, layered texture and length. Buy it. (JD)" (04/2017)

Staff ImageGary Norton | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 20, 2017

Hands down, this is one of the best pound-for-pound Chardonnays in the store right now. Boasting notes of grapefruit, white nectarine, chamomile and a touch of oily richness - there is no reason that this value white should not be featured on your Thanksgiving dinner table. It's the perfect dinner companion for any occasion really, but especially those coming up in the next few months!

Staff ImageAlex Pross | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 17, 2017

Easily one of the best white wine values I have tasted this year, the 2016 Domaine Lafage Novellum is the epitome of what the Languedoc/Roussillon is capable of producing. This rich, textured and complex white is layered in tropical fruit notes and baked apple flavors. The wine unfolds with a seamless feel as fruit note after fruit note blends with soft oak nuances. This is an outstanding value that pretty much blows away anything from California that is even remotely close to its price.