French Wines from Vintage 59 Imports

French Wines From Vintage 59 Imports

I first met Roy Cloud, founder of Vintage 59 Imports, back in the fall of 2006. I was working for a distributor who carried the wines that he imported, and I was told that Roy would be riding with me and that we’d be showing his wines. I must admit that I wasn’t too excited about this prospect, as much of my previous experience with importers was not exactly positive. Often brash, pompous, and arrogant, I found this breed of “wine character” to be not to my liking. I couldn’t have been more wrong about Roy Cloud. My car had broken down, and instead of cancelling, he drove his Saab………all the way to Highlands, NC and back. We enjoyed each other’s company, and I deeply enjoyed the wines that Roy had selected. I knew that Vintage 59 Imports was destined for success, and I knew that I wanted to keep in touch with this guy. We still talk once or twice a year, and his portfolio of small growers and producers has expanded.

Thus, it comes with great pleasure and pride that I offer you the opportunity to taste through Roy’s wines. Roy picks wines that have a story to tell, and we’re going to tell you that story. In his own words, “At Vintage ’59 we work with growers who manage small domaines and make captivating wine. Some embrace organic or biodynamic values, some take a common-sense sustainable path; none adhere to conventional agro-chemical standards intent on volume. They are serious, to say the least, about their vineyard work, which they consider more fundamental than any post-harvest wizardry that may be employed to turn grape juice into wine. These folks are minimalists in the cellar, and they don’t think highly of the Houdini bag of modern enological tricks. They do, however, think deeply of land, tradition, and kinship.” Join us this Friday, November 7th between 4 and 7 p.m. to go on a French wine adventure, minus the air ticket. The cost to taste all 5 wines is just $5 and the prices range from $11 to $23. Even better, all of the tasting wines will be discounted 10% by the bottle, 15% if you mix six of them, or 20% if you buy twelve or more.

The Wines

1. 2013 Chateau Haut-La Pereyere Bordeaux Blanc: Olivier Cailleux is the sixth generation to manage his family’s vineyards and winery. Located in the Haut-Benauge appellation of Bordeaux, this area is comprised of the the coveted high ground inland from the historic river town of Cadillac. Olivier’s white wine is made in very small amounts and is composed of all three of the allowable grapes for White Bordeaux: 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, and 10% Muscadelle. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the wine is made with extensive lees contact. Super zesty and mouthwateringly delicious, this pure, citrus and green apple flavored wine keeps you coming back for sip after sip.

2. 2012 Domaine Sylvaine and Alain Normand Macon La Roche-Vineuse: Alain Normand works eleven hectares (27 acres) in La Roche-Vineuse, an old village nestled on the steep flank of the huge limestone outcropping that gives name to Vineuse. From his hillsides in Vineuse, Alain crafts this Chardonnay in a truly artisan fashion. Fermented with native yeast in vat and aged extensively on its fine lees, this is fresh, zesty, spicy Chardonnay that always overdelivers.

3. 2012 Closerie des Lys Vin Rouge: Since 1997, this hardworking little domaine has been owned and managed by childhood friends Christian Collovray and Jean-Luc Terrier. Located roughly fifty miles west of Carcassonne in a lovely, isolated mountain valley, their vineyard parcels start at the village, but the majority climb the heights of the south-facing flanks, growing between 280 and 530 wind-swept meters above sea level in meager limestone soils. The red is a blend that includes Merlot, both Cabernets and a bit of Syrah and it is fermented entirely in concrete. Fresh, juicy, lively and spicy, this is comfort wine, house wine, good wine, whatever you want to call it…….and at less than $12 a bottle, it’s one helluva’ deal!

4. 2012 Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois “La Bastide”: This was the first wine of Roy’s that I fell in love with. Françoise Le Calvez and her enologist husband Pascal Frissant work their domaine with passion and acumen high in the Mediterranean hinterlands. Their vineyards are at the higherst part of Minervois, and you can taste that elevation and the ensuing cooler temperatures in their wines. Their La Bastide blends equal parts Grenache and Carignan with a little bit of Syrah. In Roy’s own words: “A great buy for an eminently honest wine (that is, one made without modern cellar shenanigans and without any additives–has anyone ever told you that the hugely popular Aussie wine named after a yellow marsupial is not a healthy beverage?). In Bastide, you can often find high-toned blueberry notes underpinned by Carignan’s tarry black fruits.” I love this guy!

5. 2012 Chateau Haut-La Pereyere Bordeaux Rouge: Olivier’s red is a blend of roughly 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, made in tank and bottled without filtration. Unlike so much of inexpensive red wine today, this is not an industrially produced wine that tastes like fruity Kool-Aid. This is a domaine wine with an aromatic profile of graphite and earth that speaks clearly of Bordeaux. Some 4,500 cases are made each year.