Wine Flight to France
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
1- Haut Bourg, Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu
Grape: Melon de Bourgogne
Geography: Loire Valley, France
Appellation: Muscadet-Côtes de Grandlieu
Located in the heart of the Muscadet appellation Côtes de Grandlieu, the Domaine du Haut Bourg was built by four generations of vignerons. The first vine was planted in 1945 and today brothers Hervé and Nicolas Choblet run their 40 hectares estate together.
Fourteen kilometers southeast of Nantes, the "Côtes de Grandlieu" AOC is formed by nineteen townships that surround the Lac de Grandlieu, a wildlife preserve housing 250 species of birds, and is the largest natural lake in Europe and spans 6,300 hectares at its widest in winter. The appellation, founded in 1994, benefits from the distinct microclimate created by the Lac de Grandlieu in the south, the Loire River to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Being uniquely sandwiched between these three bodies of water creates a phenomenon whereby the Cotes de Grandlieu is often spared from the storms that attack the Muscadet appellations of Sevre et Maine and Coteaux de la Loire. Additionally, low temperature differences between day and night allow for early harvest which helps retain the generous acids typical of Muscadet.
Tasting notes: "If you’ve ever wondered what an ancient-vine Muscadet from an excellent grower would taste like after spending a decade underground in tank, here’s your opportunity. From 70-year-old vines in a gravelly, cobbled, quartzite-rich site over a bed of schist and amphibolite, this leads with pungent aromas of lemon peel and bruised apple skin. Hints of moss, iodine and alkali emerge on a polished but firm palate, leading to a finish exuberantly assisted by fresh lemon and reprising the aforementioned mineral themes. The evolution here has not been in a softening direction but instead toward attractive austerity.” Vinous 89
3- Domaine de Villargeau, Coteaux du Giennois Blanc
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Geography: Loire Valley, France
Appellation: Coteaux du Giennois
The Côteaux du Giennois is a small appellation just north of Pouilly Fumé on the way to Auxerre. While the appellation produces tiny quantities of wine, it stretches 50 kilometrers in length with small parcels spread over 200 hectares of clay-limestone and silex dominant terrain. In the Giennois, Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme and shares some of the the clean, flinty, mineral characteristics of nearby Pouilly Fumé.
In the micro-hamlet of Villargeau sits a stone farm house and two cattle barns built circa 1730 as well as the fine estate of Domaine de Villargeau which was founded in 1991 by brothers Jean-Fernand and Francois Thibault. The family has a long history as cattle farmers and grain growers, with special emphasis on cereals and corn, specifically for the production of corn-based biodegradeable materials for use in place of plastics. With a passion for wine and polycultural farming, they added vinegrowing to their roster of metiers. The new winery, adjecent to a nearly 300 year old stone barn, is fully insulated and powered by solar panels -- a clear nod to the family's desire to merge the old and new.
Tasting notes: “Visual: clear, yellow, slightly golden. Nose: expressive, lemony and white-flower aromas when young, developing citrus fruits and peach aromas. Palate: a nice amount of fruit, with freshness balancing smoothness and providing lovely length on the palate.”
2- Sulauze, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Galinette Blanc
Grapes: Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, and Vermentino
Geography: Provence, France
Appellation: Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence
Features: Organic, Biodynamic
Karina and Guillaume Lefevre are two of the loveliest and warm-spirited people you would ever meet. He is from Marseille and she from Brazil. They purchased this property in Coteaux D’Aix en Provence in 2004, and began immediately to convert the 37 Ha of vineyards into Organic viticulture. They are now certified organic, and are also incorporating Biodynamic practices into their vineyard work.
They cultivate 29 hectares of vines, 24 of which fall under the AOC Côteaux d'Aix. They grow a variety of classic, Provencal red and white varietals (Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Calladoc, Cinsault, Marselan, Rolle, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc), resulting in an average annual production of 15,000 cases: 50% red wine, 40% rosé, and 10% white wine. They adhere to traditional methods, guarding the authenticity of terroir with care and passion.
Tasting notes: “Lovely aromas of citrus and stonefruit. Crisp, with bright acidity on the palate.”
4- Champy, Mâcon-Villages
Geography: Burgundy, France
Features: Biodynamic, Sustainable
Champy is a small family-run, boutique negociant that consistently produces artisanal wines that express the nuances of the Burgundian terroirs.
Champy was founded in 1720 as the first established wine house of Burgundy, and it is considered a pioneer of Burgundian winemaking for its organic and sustainable farming methods.
The property is comprised of twenty-five hectares of vines in the Côte de Beaune. The estate produces about 500,000 bottles per year and is in the process of becoming entirely organically certified. Champy is also one of the major producers of the Pernand-Vergelesses appellation, alongside the Domaine Laleure-Piot,
Dimitri Bazas –Champy’s winemaker since 1999 – oversees general management with Pierre Beuchet, who has been the owner and majority shareholder since 2012.
Tasting notes: "A beautiful white gold color with golden glints. A nose of citrus, grapefruit, mango and white flowers with a nice aromatic intensity. Well delineated and supple on the palate. It has the typical minerality of the north of Mâconnais coupled with the opulence of Chardonnays from the south. Fresh and mineral finish."