Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc

Wine of the Week – 2010 Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc

It’s definitely starting to feel like summer out there, and I predict it’s going to be a hot one………..I hope I’m wrong, but if it is, this is the perfect wine to serve nice and cold on a hot day.

Chateau Magneau has been owned and operated by the Ardurat family since the reign of Henry IV.  Today, Henri and Brigitte Ardurat run the estate with their two sons.  Their vineyards are located in Graves, in southern Bordeaux, so named because of the deep gravelly soils of the region.  All of the vineyard and cellar work is done by hand – no chemical pesticides are used in the vineyard and all fruit is hand harvested and sorted prior to fermentation.

The wine is a blend of 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle, and the average age of vines is around 30 years.  It is a completely harmonious wine in the sense thatthe Semillon contributes ripe stone fruit flavors and rich texture while the Sauvignon Blanc adds tangy, zippy citrus and melon notes……….oh yeah, the Muscadelle (no relation to Muscadine or Muscat) adds a beautiful floral component to the wine.

All in all, it is a wine that drinks well above it’s price point with or without food.  If you like to cook, try this one with flaky white fish, roasted vegetables or a good friend or loved one on your back porch.  You will thank me!


$14.39/bottle in a mixed 6 pack 

$13.59/bottle in a mixed case

Friday Winedown – Red, White and Pink Wines From France

If you live in Asheville and like wine, you must stop by our little store on Friday, May 4.  Rick Bowman from Bordeaux Fine and Rare will join us to pour 7 new wines to the store.  From Bordeaux to Gascogne to the Rhone Valley, we’ll sample a couple whites, a couple of new and fresh dry rosés and some delicious reds.  Even better, all of the wines come from small, family owned and operated wineries where the production levels are small, but the prices are more than fair.  We’ll cap the tasting off with a real “Wow Wine”, but it’s a surprise!

Join us from 4 to 6:30 p.m. to sample some of the best wines your money can buy in Asheville.  The cost for the tasting is $5/person or it’s free if you’re a Grape Nut.

1. Chateau Magneau Graves Blanc – Château Magneau is an ancient property that has been run by the Ardurat family since before the reign of Henri IV…………that’s a long time!  They are certified organic and this blend is made from 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 45% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle, and the average age of the vines is 30 years.  The wine is zippy, tangy and absolutely delicious with notes of grapefruit, lime zest, green apple and mineral.

2. Domaine des Cassagnoles “Cuvée Gros Manseng” – Gilles Baumann’s Domaine des Cassagnoles consistently produces one of the best white wine values in the world……………and you will get to try it!  The estate is located in Gascogne, in southwestern France, and the same grapes that are used to make Cognac and Armagnac are also fermented into delicious, dry, lively white wines.  The grape here is Gros Manseng, and it produces a fleshy, beautifully aromatic white wine with aromas and flavors of white peach, apricot, pear and honey.  You will love it!

3. Domaine les Aphillanthes Cotes du Rhone Rosé – Robert Parker had this to say about this biodynamically farmed estate: “In 1999, I discovered one of the finest estates in the southern Rhone, the Domaine Les Aphillanthes owned by Daniel Boulle. His oenologist is none other than Philippe Cambie, one of the finest in all of France.”  Their dry Rosé is a blend of 60% Cinsault with Grenache, Counoise and Mourvedre rounding things out.  It is a pretty wine with fresh aromas of strawberries, earth, and spice, good acidity, medium body, loads of fruit, and a dry style.

4. Domaine les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone les Trois Soeurs Rosé – Marc Besnardeau is from Paris originally and before he met Mireille Farjon, he was a sommelier at one of the better restaurants in Paris.  He has obviously adjusted to his new surroundings and profession very well as every year his wines garner great reviews from all of the leading wine periodicals.  Their dry rosé is composed of two-thirds Grenache, one-fourth Carignan and the rest Cinsault from vines that average 60 years in age. It is a medium rose-colored, flowery offering with good body and freshness and flavors of  strawberry and framboise intermixed with a hint of Provencal herbs.

5. Domaine du Cros Marcillac “Lo Sang del Pais” – Domaine du Cros, with its 22 hectares, is the largest independent producer in the appellation of Marcillac, in southwestern France and Philippe Teulier and his family have been instrumental in reestablishing the reputation of Marcillac’s wines.  His wines are made from one grape type, the local grape of Marcillac, Fer Servadou.  The wine is rustic and wild with notes of brambly berries, herbs, earth and mineral – perfect for serving with grilled sausages.

6. Domaine St. Damien Cotes du Rhone “Vieilles Vignes” – Young proprietor Joel Saurel is another client of the brilliant oenologist, Philippe Cambie and his estate is another of the finest in the southern Rhone.  Vintage 2010 was a great one in the region and this wine is entirely Grenache with the average age of vines around 50 years.  Strawberry, black cherry, lavender, pepper and dusty, loamy, sandy soil aromas jump from the glass of this deep plum/purple-tinged wine. Ripe and medium to full-bodied, it is ideal for consumption over the next 3-4 years.

7. Surprise Wine – All I’m telling you is that this stuff is naughty good!

Drink The Pink!

Go anywhere in France or Spain during the warm seasons, and every restaurant and wine bar you walk by is packed with people drinking pink wines, aka dry rosés.  Being that our wonderful little city is often referred to as “The Paris of the South”, I think it’s time that more of us start drinking like Parisians, and that means drinking a lot more of the pink stuff, and I’m not talking about White Zin.   Whether you’re looking for a refreshing glass of wine at 5 Walnut, a great accompaniment to your swordfish at Table Restaurant, or a fantastic back porch wine for sipping and serving this spring and summer, embrace pink wine and realize that it’s hip to drink it!

For most of the Baby Boomers, pink wine conjures up nostalgic memories of drinking sweet blush wines such as Sutter Home White Zinfandel, Mateus and Lancer’s.  These wines were introduced to Americans  in the 1970’s when wine consumption in this country was just beginning to surge.  Wineries discovered that many young wine drinkers preferred sweeter wines, and wines like White Zin swept the country.  There are still plenty of great folks out there who love these wines, but more and more Americans have embraced drier styled pink wines.

This is not dry rose!

That is where dry rosés come into the picture.  These wines are made by leaving the skin in contact with the juice of the grape for a very short period of time, thus giving them their pinkish hue.  The important thing to understand is that most of the rosés produced in Europe are completely dry.  The wines manage to capture the subtle characteristics of a red wine with delicate red fruit nuances, but they also deliver the crisp and refreshing characteristics of a white wine.   They work incredibly well with all sorts of dishes, including spicy Asian fare, grilled vegetables and fresh seafood, but they also make great sunny day back porch sippers.  All of the major European wine producing countries make them, but France makes the finest and the most.

Perfect for Dry Rose

A Provencal fish stew - perfect for dry rose.

In France’s southeastern corner, you have the wonderfully bright and fruity rosés produced from a series of villages know as Cotes du Rhone.  Try the ones from producers Les Grands Bois or Domaine Les Aphillanthes; both are dry and packed with lovely strawberry, cherry, peach and white pepper notes.  If you want to take a step up, you must try a wine from the village of Tavel which is a “Rosé Only Zone”, meaning that dry rosé is all they make here.  The wines are typically blends of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and other regional grapes and they are usually darker and more fruit packed than their counterparts produced in other regions.  Every year, one of the best Tavels comes from Chateau de Segries.  Moving further south, we come to Provence where more dry rosé is commonplace.  The rosés here tend to be paler in color and more delicate with more watermelon, cherry and cranberry notes, along with a hint of roasted herbs.  Try the one from Domaine Sainte Lucie, simply called “MIP”, short for “Made in Provence” it looks like it’s going to taste like nothing with a very pale salmon hue, but once it hits the glass, it explodes with notes of wild strawberry, cherry and cranberry fruit.  We stock all of these at the store, so stop by and let us turn you onto them!

At the end of the day, drinking pink wine is cool again.  Don’t let your preconceived notions spoil your chance to try something new and delicious.  Happy eating and pink wine drinking on Planet Asheville!

2009 Bordeaux – Vintage of a Lifetime!

None other than Robert Parker has said that 2009 in Bordeaux “might turn out to be the best vintage I have tasted in 32 years of covering Bordeaux”.  From what I’ve tasted so far, I would agree that it is a super vintage full of great wines at a variety of price points.  Much like vintages such as 1959, 1961, 1982 and 2000 (to name a few), the region enjoyed warm, dry weather resulting in opulent wines that will boggle the senses.

On Bordeaux’ Right Bank, the Merlot-driven wines are ripe, fleshy and flamboyant with a variety of drinking windows, whereas on the Left Bank, the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines are full of ripe fruit, but they are firmer and more structured and will require some patience.  All in all this is a vintage for the true Bordeaux lover, but the ripe personality of the wines will also appeal to those who like big Napa-styled wines. 


Nicely ripened Merlot grapes on Bordeaux' Right Bank.

Read on below, and please call the store at828.505.8588 to place your orders.  I will stock some of these, but I believe that distributor supplies of these wines will be depleted rather quickly……… fact, one of the wines on the original list is all ready sold out and wine #5 is almost gone.  Act now or forever hold your peace!

All of the wines are being offered at 10% off by the bottle, 15% off in mixed six packs and 20% off in mixed cases.   

1. Chateau de Brondeau Bordeaux Superieur – This is just sheer drinking pleasure – great right out of the bottle, it should hold up for at least another 3 years.  “A sleeper of the vintage, this opaque purple-colored 2009 reveals oodles of black currant and boysenberry fruit intermixed with notions of graphite, smoke, and velvety tannins.”
80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc – drink now or over the next 3 years.
88-89 points – Robert Parker

Regular Price: $17.99/bottle
Pre-Sale Price: $16.19/$15.29/$14.39 

2. Chateau Brisson Cotes de Castillon: This is consistently one of Bordeaux’ top values and the 2009 is no exception.  “Richly fruity with plenty of black cherry, black currant, cedar, spice box, and earth characteristics, it is a deep, medium to full-bodied, luscious Cotes de Castillon.”
100% Merlot…….drink over next 3 to 5 years.
87-89 points – Robert Parker

Regular Price: $19.99/bottle
Pre-Sale Price: $17.99/$16.99/$15.99 

3. Chateau Tour Saint-Bonnet Medoc: We move to the Left Bank with Tour Saint-Bonnet, one of the most consistent Cru Bourgeois producers in the history of Bordeaux.  “This has been one of the most reliable wines in Bordeaux over the last 30+ years, and the 2009 may turn out to be the best they have ever made. This inky purple-colored wine offers up notes of creme de cassis, spring flowers, and forest floor that seem to have more in common with a classified growth than a petite chateau.”
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot – drink over the next 10 years.
88-90 points – Robert Parker

Regular Price: $22.99/bottle
Pre-Sale Price: $20.69/$19.54/$18.39

4. Domaine de Courteillac Bordeaux Superieur: This wine is made under the supervision of superstar winemaker Stephane Derenocourt who consults for some of Bordeaux’ finest estates. “It exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color and an elegant nose suggesting a confiture of red and black fruits, spice box, licorice, and a hint of mint. It is lush, rich in fruit, and a delicious wine.”
70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc – drink over next 5 to 6 years.
88-89 points – Robert Parker

Regular Price: $24.99/bottle
Pre-Sale Price: $22.49/$21.24/$19.99  

5. Chateau Cap de Faugeres Cotes de Castillon: This relatively new estate has fashioned their best wine yet – it is the equivalent of a great St. Emilion at a fraction of the price.  “It is a full-bodied, super-concentrated effort displaying excellent purity as well as lots of minerality and floral notes imbedded in black and blue fruits. The oak is totally masked, the tannins are prominent but sweet, and the wine is fresh and precise.”
85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon – drink over the next 10 to 12 years.
90-92 points – Robert Parker

Regular Price: $34.99/bottle
Special Price: $31.49/$29.74/$27.99

A Primer On Chateauneuf du Pape

No discussion concerning the wines of the Rhone River Valley is complete without some sort of reference to Chateauneuf du Pape.  So what is this wine and what does it have to do with the Pope?  Way back in 1308, Pope Clement V relocated the papacy to Avignon, located in the southern/Provencal region of France.  For the next 70 years, the papal seat remained here and the Popes that occupied this seat were great lovers of wine.  The grapevine had been cultivated in this region for several years by the Bishops of Avignon, but with the new prestige brought increased interest and investment in the nearby vineyards.  The wines gradually increased in quality and under John XXII, they were labelled “Vin du Pape”, which later became Chateauneuf du Pape.  In 1378, the papal seat moved back to Rome, but the course of history for these vineyards was all ready set.

Enough with the history, what the heck is the wine right?  Well, simply put, it is a blended red wine – a white version is made as well, but for today, we’ll just focus on the red type.  Chateauneuf du Pape can be made with 13 different grapes, but typically the blend is primarily Grenache with smaller amounts of Syrah and Mourvedre.  This is the same blend typically found in many of the red wines of the Southern Rhone, including Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas and Vacqueyras, but the wines produced in Chateauneuf du Pape are typically the fullest, the most complex and the longest lived.  One of the unique characteristics of the vineyards here is the galets or softball-sized rounded stones that the vines protrude from – these act to hold heat during the day which is later released at night, thereby helping to ripen the grapes.

The galets of Chteauneuf du Pape

The galets of Chateauneuf du Pape.

So what does a Chateauneuf taste like?  There are a variety of  “house styles”, depending on producer, but in general the descriptors associated with good Chateauneuf would be seductive, gamy, spicy, rich and on and on.  In many instances, you’re dealing with vines that are at least 50 years old and the resulting low yields produce wines with ample color, body and structure.  Like the great wines of Bordeaux, these wines are capable of aging and improving for considerable amounts of time. Famed wine critic Robert Parker counts the wines among his favorites and was his favorable praise of the wines in the 1980’s that brought them to the attention of the world and more particularly the U.S.  Some of the finest wines of the region can fetch $100+ dollars (Chateau Beaucastel, Chateau Rayas, et al) but the silver lining is the fact that a really good bottle of Chateauneuf can be had for $45-$50 or less.  For a world class wine that “goes to the same school” as the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy, this is a relative deal in the grand scheme of things.  If you’re not sure yet, start with a good Cotes du Rhone and inch your way up to a Vacqueyras or Gigondas before you take the plunge – you’ll gain a sense for what the Rhone Valley is all about without spending blowing your wine budget all in one go.

Roasted leg of lamb loves Chateauneuf du Pape!

A young Chateauneuf or any of the above mentioned Rhone reds love lamb, game and other grilled pieces of meat and don’t be shy with the olive oil, garlic and herbs and/or olives.  In fact, these wines really shine with this sort of rustic, Provencal cuisine and act to improve the flavors of the food while the food improves the flavor of the wine.  I highly recommend a 30 minute to 1 hour decant of the wine before consuming as well.  At the end of the day, a taste of Chateauneuf du Pape will provide you with a virtual Provencal getaway, if only for a night, and a bottle of wine is a lot cheaper than a plane ticket to France these days. Happy eating and drinking in Asheville my friends.

Eric Solomon Asheville Wine Tasting

Friday Winedown – Selections From Eric Solomon

Friday, September 30 at Table Wine – South Asheville’s Best Wine Shop
4 to 7 p.m.
$5 per person…… for Grape Nuts

Table Wine will be the best place in Asheville to taste wine on Friday, September 30.  Mike Kolker of Freedom Beverage will join us to pour wines from importer Eric Solomon’s portfolio.  Eric is based in Charlotte, and his company European Cellars is one of the premiere importers of wines from Spain and France.  In fact, in 2007 Eric was named U.S. importer of the year by Food and Wine magazine.

If you like 90+ point rated Robert Parker wines, you won’t want to miss this one!  I can think of no other importer whose Spanish and French wines receive as many high marks as Eric’s across all price points.  You’ll get to sample 8 wines from both Spain and France along with light palate cleansers.  Here is the lineup:

Eric Solomon Asheville Wine Tasting

1. 2009 Domaine Lafage “Cote Est” Roussillon, France – This blend of stainless steel fermented Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne is always one of the top white wine values in the world.  It is crisp and refreshing and the 80 year old Grenache Blanc really stands out – delightful honeysuckle, peach, apple and citrus notes abound in this easy-to-drink white from the south of France.

2. 2009 Rafael Palacios “Louro do Bolo” Valdeorras, Spain –  Rafael Palacios is the brother of Alvaro Palacios, one of Spain’s top producers………let’s just say good wine runs in their blood.  He started this project a few years back to expose the world to the virtues of old, low yielding Godello from Spain’s northeastern region.  If you like good white Burgundy, but don’t like to pay the price, you will very much like this wine – white peach, spring flowers, liquid minerality and baking spices all come together in this medium to full bodied white wine.  Delicious!  91 points – The Wine Advocate

3. 2009 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha Calatayud, Spain – Eric Solomon knows how to pick good Grenache/Garnacha, whether it be from Spain or France, and Evodia is his personal project.  Grapes are sourced from vineyards averaging 80 to 100 years of age and the wine is plump, juicy and loaded with ripe black cherry and raspberry fruit.  90 points – Josh Raynolds

4. 2009 Casa Castillo Monastrell Jumilla, Spain – Monastrell is the grape variety and Jumilla is the dry, hot and rugged region in southeastern Spain.  Known as Mourvedre in France and used primarily as a blending grape (the great wines of Bandol being the exception), the grape takes center stage here yielding a wine with tons of ripe and rounded blueberry and black raspberry fruit and subtle spice and chocolate notes.  90 points – The Wine Advocate

5. 2009 Chateau Pesquie Cotes du Ventoux “Cuvée des Terrasses”, France – This might be one of Solomon’s top red wine values in his entire portfolio.  Composed of 70% Grenache (from 60-year-old vines) and 30% Syrah (from 30-year-old vines), aged in neutral oak, and bottled unfined and unfiltered, it tastes “more like a Chateauneuf du Pape than an inexpensive Cotes du Ventoux” according to Robert Parker.  Full bodied and meaty, it is lush and textured with flavors of black cherry, pepper, meat juices and lavender.  90 points – Robert Parker

6. 2007 Creta Ribera del Duero “Roble”, Spain – Creta wines are made by the young and talented Isaac Fernández Montaña, nephew of Mariano Garcia who is one of Spain’s most legendary winemakers.  The wine is 100% Tempranillo from a 40 year old vineyard in the dry and barren region of Ribera del Duero.  It is full bodied and tastes like a wine that costs a lot more money – black fruits, violet, spice box and mineral bring to mind a $30 bottle of Ribera, not a $17 one!
90 points – The Wine Advocate

7. 2008 La Peira en Damaisela Orbriers de la Peira, France – This is the kind of freakish wine I sometimes buy more with my heart than my head, but I don’t regret it one bit.  The wine is made up of old, low yielding, organically farmed Carignan and Cinsault – let’s just say these aren’t two of the “hippest” varietals at the moment.  It is aged for 24 months in French oak, and the resulting wine is  stunning but a bit funky, offering up a wild bouquet of perfectly ripe cherry and berry fruit, cocoa powder, walnut and pungent herbs. Only 500 cases made.  91 points – The Wine Advocate

8. Mystery Wine – What will Mr. Kolker bring us?  You’ll have to stop by to find out.

10% off on mixed 6 packs and 15% off on mixed cases 

Best Wine Tasting Asheville

A Farmer’s Wine Dinner

Thursday, September 29 at Table Wine
7 to 9 p.m.
$25 per person………$20 for Grape Nuts
RSVP and Pre-Payment Required

This guarantees to be a fun and tasty evening of organic foods and wines.  George Lowe and myself will be preparing all of the food using organic ingredients, with a focus on vegetables from Farmer Tom Kousky of Hominy Valley Organic Farms.

As with the foods, all of the wines are organic and from small French wineries with a family farm mentality.  For $25 a head, this is one of the best deals in town.  It is guaranteed to sell out quick, so call us at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot. We’ll take 32 lucky folks for this one.


The store transformed into a bistro.


Juicy Pork Roast
Slow braised in  Mexican spices and herbs – fall apart tender!

Vegetable Lasagna
With Puttanesca Sauce and Pesto Oil

Vegetable Medley
Steamed Butternut Squash, Potatoes and Green Beans Drizzled With Lemon/Herb Vinaigrette

Summer Crisp Salad
Drizzled With Balsamic Vinaigrette

Crusty Bread

The Wines

1. Domaine de Martinolles Blanquette de Limoux
Welcome Wine

2. Domaine du Pas St. Martin Saumur Blanc
100% old vine, dry Chenin Blanc.

3. Domaine du Prieuré Savigny les Beaune Blanc
Rich, layered and complex Chardonnay.

4. Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais “Pierre Chermette”
Earthy, rich, cherry fruited Gamay at its finest.

5. Clos La Coutale Cahors
Big, dark fruited Malbec blend from southwestern France.

6. Chateau Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc
93 point Robert Parker rated Grenach/Syrah blend.

South Asheville’s Best Free Wine Tasting

This Saturday at Table Wine – South Asheville’s Best Wine Shop
2 to 5 p.m. and free to the public!

The best way to learn about wine is to taste it, and we give you many opportunities to do so.

We’ll follow up our tasting of Portuguese wines on Friday with a great free tasting featuring some great values from France. Join us from 2 to 5 and try before you buy some great wines from France.  Here are 4 reasons to head to Table Wine this Saturday – remember, we are dedicated to stocking, promoting and selling the best wines from small family producers and farms.

Now, we’re also dedicated to selling the best vegetables from small family farms!  Tom Kousky of Hominy Valley Organic Farm sets up shop every Saturday from 2 to 3:30 at the store with the best deals in town on locally grown veggies.  You really can’t lose here folks.

Free Wine Tasting

1. Domaine de la Salette Gascogne Blanc
Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng make up this refreshing, tangy white wine from southwestern France.  Similar to Sauvignon Blanc with zesty citrus and apple notes. 

2. Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine
Marc Ollivier makes some of the best Muscadet in the world.  No, this is not Muscadine or Moscato – it’s one of the great dry white wine values in the world. 

3. Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais “Pierre Chermette”
If you know Josh, you know he loves Gamay for its fun-natured personality.  This is pure drinking pleasure – no hard edges or bite – just pured juicy red fruits.  An ideal summertime red! 

4. Mystery Wine
This will be brownbagged and delicious………I promise!  It’s always fun to put your palate to the true test by trying wines “blind”, and that is exactly what we’ll do this week.

We offer aggressive volume discounts on wine of 10% off of 6 bottles and 15% off of 12.

2009 Michel Gahier Trousseau Arbois “Grands Vergiers”

Red Fruits and Perfumed Dirt
Available at Table Wine – South Asheville’s Premiere Wine Shop

Gahier Troussea
At Table Wine, we strive to carry the best wines from all of the major growing regions of the world, even if we know we’re going to have to hand sell every bottle. When the quality is there, we buy, and this recent discovery still has me buzzing…….no pun intended.  Michel Gahier is a farmer with holdings in some of the top spots in Arbois, east of Burgundy on the French/Swiss border.  If you’re not familiar with any wines from here, that’s completely understandable, as there aren’t many of these wines floating around in these North Carolina mountains.  Go to New York or San Francisco though, and the wines are widely and openly consumed with reckless abandon.

Jacques Puffeney

The enigmatic Jacques Puffeney

The undisputed king of Jura is a guy named Jacques Puffeney, and Michel is not only his neighbor, but he was Jacque’s pupil for a number of years.  His training has paid off, as this is one of the more singular wines I’ve tried this year.  Trousseau is an old grape variety that is also known as Bastardo………it is also used in the production of Port, but in the Jura, the wines produced from it tend to be lively, fresh, nervy and gorgeously complex when made by a good producer.  This is definitely one of those!  One of the keys to the success of this wine is Mahier’s vineyards, which are located in the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, a wine village just outside of Arbois where the graviers gras (fat gravel) soils are perfectly suited to Trousseau.  Unsurprisingly, Puffeney’s Trousseau grows here as well.

There is one term that best describes this wine – WILD!  Organic farming and non-interventionist winemaking are very common in Jura, especially if you were a pupil of Puffeney.  The nose is a bit backwards at first, but with some aggressive swirling, the fruit begins to pop.  I get notes of pomegranate, cherry, autumn leaf and complex spices………almost Burgundy-like, but a bit more angular and masculine.  The palate is where the magic happens, as this is one of those wines that just snaps, crackles and pops on the palate.  Red fruit galore, floral notes, liquid rock and so much more………I could drink this all day, but I won’t because I only have 6 bottles to sell.  This one would be great now with some grilled pork chops and some sort of root veggies or you could lay it down for 7 to 10 years.  The wine is brought to North Carolina by the Haw River Wine Man and imported from France by Neil Rosenthal.  Kudos to both of these forward thinking, progressive companies!

Baumard Savennieres

A Haunting and Cerebral White

2007 Domaine des Baumard Savennieres
Loire Valley, France

Domaine des Baumard

I just tasted this wine yesterday and ordered a case immediately upon smelling it.  I then tasted it, and my palate agreed with my nose thank God.  Of all of the white wines that we stock at Table Wine, South Asheville’s top wine store, this might just be the most complex and the best in my opinion for the money. 

The Baumard family have been major players in the Loire villages of Savennieres and Anjou for many years, but they’ve especially risen to prominence in the past century.  These days, Florent and Isabelle Baumard run the estate with great care and attention to their vineyards.  Their wines are consistently judged as some of the best in the appellation by the wine lovers and writers all over the world.  Savennieres, along with Vouvray, is regarded by most in the know as the top spot(s) in the world for Chenin Blanc.  The key difference is that, while Savennieres began as a sweet wine, and has since confidently developed into one of the Loire’s finest dry whites, Vouvray has retained its multiple personalities, sometimes to its detriment unfortunately.

Florent has modernized the estate in a number of ways since taking over the reigns from his father Jean in 1990.  In particular, in 2006 Florent surprised almost everybody with a whole-scale move to Stelvin screwcap for even his top wines.  This is an interesting development from my point of view as Savennieres is a wine noted for its capacity to age for many years, and there is still little proof that wines bottled with this enclosure age the same way as those bottled under natural cork.  Fortunately, the current release of this wine is so amazingly good that I really could care less.

As I said, the aroma of this wine was absolutely intoxicating, seductive and memorable, and I’ll have no problem drinking several bottles over the course of the next couple of years.  To understand Loire Valley Chenin Blanc and its aromatics, one has to understand the soil.  The dirt here is marked by gravelly, free-draining topsoils with a deep bed of tuffeau – the highly porous limestone-rich sedimentary rock deposited all over the Loire region during the Turonian geological age.  The resulting wines are highly limestone-influenced with an aroma reminiscent of water running over stone in a young river.  Vintage 2007 was a warm one in the Loire, so Florent was able to pair this minerlity with a beautiful purity and intensity of fruit, namely musky pear, apple, peach and quince.  There is something haunting and cerebral about this wine that can’t really be put into words………..the best I can come up with is “World Class White Wine” – I know that sounds pretty generic, but for $22.99/bottle, it’s definitely worth taking the “risk”.  Enjoy it now or over the next several years with fresh seafood or river fish cooked seared or baked very simply in olive oil and herbs.  You won’t be disappointed.