Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Wine That Says "Let's Get Lost"

Poudre d'Escampette is an old French expression that loosely translates to "escape" or "take to your heels." I think in the context of this particular wine from Le Casot de Mailloles, the phrase is more like "let's get lost."

With just 5 hectares of vines, Le Casot des Mailloles is perhps the smallest domaine in the Banyuls region of Southern France. It was started in 1994 by partners, Alain Castex and Ghislaine Magnier. Today, the domaine has the reputation of being the greatest producer in Banyuls. Quite ironic since none of its wines carry the Banyuls AOC as they are humbly classified Vin de France--this despite all their vineyards being situated within the Banyuls appellation.

Work is done totally manually most of the year by just Alain Castex and Ghislaine. Their vineyards are planted with very old vines, close to 100 years old or more and have been fully organic since 1997. They vinify their wines using native yeasts and without any additives or addition of sulphites. The wines are bottled by hand without filtering. Production is an uneconomic less than 5,000 bottles a year. Clearly the domaine exists because they love what they do.

There are certainly more than enough wine lovers in France and elsewhere in Europe who buy out the domaine's production every year. Its wines have rarely reached the US, and if ever just in dribs and drabs. Last year, a handful of cases, probably no more than 6 cases were imported to the US. I'm wishing this year we would see more.

Meanwhile, I have a few bottles of their haunting 2013 Poudre d'Escampette. Let's get lost.

Vin de France "Poudre d'Escampette", Le Casot des Mailloles 2013 $28.00 (order here)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Man Who Changed Burgundy

The sad passing of Anne-Claude Leflaive last week also made me think of Jean-Claude Rateau. Rateau pioneered biodynamic viticulture in Burgundy in 1979 and was then only the fourth vigneron in all of France to practice biodynamics. His lecture on biodynamics a decade later drew many Burgundy producers including Anne-Claude Leflaive.

Since then most of the top Burgundy vignerons converted to biodynamic viticulture, including, Leflaive, Leroy, DRC, Lafon, Lafarge, De Montille, to name just a few. Amazingly Rateau still remains somewhat undiscovered today. I'm very pleased to help import his Burgundies to the U.S. His wines are not easy to find even in France, so I'm very happy for this new opportunity.

Jean-Claude Rateau is a native of Beaune. After completing wine studies at the Lycée Viticole, he went to train in Beaujolais, where he found out about biodynamics. On his return to Burgundy, he started practicing biodynamics on his vineyards in Beaune in 1979, the first one to do so in Burgundy.

But what differentiates Rateau from other vignerons that farm biodynamcially is that he is just as consistent in the cellar. He vinifies as naturally as possible with native yeasts and with very minimal sulfur. He never uses new oak and usually doesn't filter. The results are wines with obvious energy and transparency. They benefit from at least a few years aging to show their full potential, especially the premiers crus.

Hautes Cotes de Beaune Bourgogne Blanc, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2013 $26.00 (read more)

Hautes Cotes de Beaune Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2013 $29.00 (read more)

Beaune "Clos des Mariages", Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2012 $42.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Les Reversees, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2011 $48.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Les Coucherias Blanc, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2012 $54.00 (read more)

Beaune Premier Cru Bressandes, Domaine Jean-Claude Rateau 2011 $57.00 (read more)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bourgueil Stephane Guion -- Deals and Steals

This has opened up deliciously from just six months ago. If you drink it now you'd be happy. Or you can sit on it more and you'll be amply rewarded. The 2008 from magnum was glorious recently, but alas sold out.

From 40 to 85 year-old Cab Franc vines farmed organically since 1965. Vinified using natives yeasts, without additives and no addition of sulphites until bottling, when a small dose was applied.

We sell it for just $17! One of our Deals and Steals!

Bourguiel "Cuvee Prestige", Domaine Guion 2012 $17.00 (order here)