L’opera des Vins ‘les années folles’ Vin de France 2015

Winery: A native of the Loire Valley, Jean-Pierre Robinot began crafting wine in 2002, prior to that he owned a natural wine bar in Paris and was the co-founder of the renowned independent wine publication: “Le Rouge et Le Blanc”. He has 10 hectares of vineyards in Jasnieres and Coteaux du Loire, and also purchases grapes from friends and neighbors that share the same winemaking philosophy and principles. His wines are known for their clarity of fruit, complexity and true expression of terroir.

Winemaking: All vineyards are farmed organically. Zero chemicals or additives of any kind are used. Only indigenous yeasts are used, sulphur is not added at all, no filtering or refining. Wines are not released until Robinot believes they are ready to drink.

Tasting Notes: Golden amber in colour with heady aromas of sea spray, seashells, honey, apricot and a trace of graham cracker. Delicate apricot, pear, peach and a shake of cinnamon are glossed by citrus acidity. Consistent, fine bubbles carry thru to the very end, chalky minerality and a squeeze of tangerine linger between each sip. Engaging, refreshing with an elegant edge, this is spectacular on its own, or with interesting foods. [I enjoyed it on its own, then with raw provolone and homemade bread and salty butter.]

Blend of Chenin Blanc and Pineau d’Aunis
Vin de France
France
Bottled by L’opera des Vins, Jean-Pierre Robinot
12% Alcohol
$32
Enjoy now thru 2019

Prosper Maufoux Chablis 2016

Estate: Passionate about winemaking, Prosper Maufoux founded the Burgundian estate in 1860. Located in the village of Santenay, in the heart of the southern Côte d’Or, the estate has a long history of crafting high quality, terroir driven wines. Today the company is headed by Eric Piffaut, whose family’s winemaking roots in Burgundy go back to 1898. Winemaker Nadine Gublin is at the helm, receiving many accolades, including being named the first female “Winemaker of the Year” by France’s leading wine magazine, La Revue du Vin de France.

Winemaking: Grapes are gently pressed with the juice clarified at low temperature to preserve its freshness. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, followed by ageing on fine lees in a stainless steel for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of flinty minerals, honeysuckle and lemon. Yellow apple, pear and lemon meld with a flinty mineral core, fresh acidity highlights pink grapefruit on the dry, mineral driven finish. Elegant and svelte, excellent on its own or as a companion to a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Dishes featuring cream sauces and softer cheeses, poultry, roasted fish.

100% Chardonnay
Chablis AOC
France
Bottled at Rully by Prosper Maufoux
12.5% Alcohol
$27 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2021

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Chateau Maris ‘Le Carignan de Maris’ 2015

Estate: Named the “The Biodynamic Apostles of the Languedoc” by Wine Spectator, Chateau Maris is located at the eastern edge of the village of La Livinière at the foot of the Montagne Noire Mountains, in the Languedoc region of southern France. With a goal of “creating “grand cru-level” wines from La Livinière in the Minervois appellation, winemaker Robert Eden took over the estate in 1996. Eden converted the entire estate to biodynamic farming after trying different methods to revitalized the soils that had been rendered unusable due to the previous owner’s overuse of chemicals. Over the years his green approach and biodynamic processes have gained much recognition. He has built “the world’s first hemp cellar” that functions carbon neutrally. The hemp bricks not only capture carbon dioxide, but also maintain temperature and humidity so that heating or cooling is not needed.

Winemaking: Hand harvested from vines with a mixed soil of sandstone and clay, fermented for 1 month with natural yeasts in large concrete tanks.

Tasting Notes: Garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, raspberry, brambly vegetation, peppery spice and a shake of funk. Ripe, juicy fruit [blackberry cherry cranberry] is accented by a savoury streak, fresh acidity and good tannins. Crushed rock minerality, black pepper and a trace of licorice comprise the lengthy finish. Easy drinking on its own or with a wide variety of dishes, a phenomenal value. [It was fantastic with soy chorizo, roasted pepper, mushroom, ricotta, mozzarella  and cotija pizza.]

100% Carignan
IGP Coteaux des Peyriac
France
13.5% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now thru 2019

Xavier Benier ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Vin de France 2016

Estate: Xavier Bénier is part of the young, pioneering group of winemakers in Beaujolais that are responsible for the return of vintage specific wine from village and cru Beaujolais. A proponent of natural winemaking, he farms organically and without any chemicals, likewise for the cellar. Currently he has 6.5 hectares of vineyards in the south of Beaujolais, just above Saint-Julien.

Winemaking: Grapes are from a 1.7 hectare vineyard with schist soil, with vines over 100 years in age. Fermented with natural yeasts in neutral oak with 25 days maceration. Aged in foudre [large wood casks] for 8 months. Unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour, with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry, bramble, flinty minerals and a drop of fruit liqueur. Raspberry, black currant, red currant and blackberry envelop a spicy, herbaceous core. Finishing dry and fruity, keeping you reaching for more and more.

100% Gamay
Vin de France
France
12.5% Alcohol
$22
Enjoy now thru 2020

Gérard Bertrand ‘Cote des Roses’ Rosé Languedoc 2017

Estate: Gérard Bertrand grew up assisting his father on the family’s estate in the sub-appellation of Corbiѐres in the Languedoc Roussillon. He took over the domaine upon his father’s death in 1987, and today presides over nearly 1000 acres of vineyards across the varying Languedoc Roussillon terroirs. He also heads a négociant business that partners with local growers and co-ops. A well-known proponent of sustainable farming, he is one of the largest producers of organic wine in Southern France. His flagship estate Château l’Hospitalet is carbon neutral, and many of his vineyards follow biodynamic practices and are certified by DEMETER. In addition to being recognized for his fantastic wines at excellent prices, Wine Enthusiast bestowed him with the European Winery of the Year award in 2011, stating “He fully understands the movement toward expressive, well-balanced and elegant wines that remain accessible and affordable.” Cote des Roses is the name of the coastal area near the village of Gruissan.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from varied soils, but predominately hard limestone and schist, “but also gravel transported by the rivers of the Languedoc region”. {The bottle is an original design created by a young designer from the Ecole Boulle.]

Tasting Notes: Light coral pink in colour, highly aromatic with summery, ripe strawberry, raspberry, pink grapefruit, white flowers, candied rose petal and dash of white pepper. The flavours follow the aromas; delicate strawberry, raspberry and pink grapefruit accented by citrus acidity, finishing dry and fruity with a streak of chalky minerality and a zippy kick of citrus zest. Fantastically refreshing on its own or with snacks and light dishes.

Enjoy at 50°F [10°C]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Ideal as an aperitif or with subtly spiced dishes and shellfish.

Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah
Languedoc
France
Shipped and Bottled by Gérard Bertrand
13% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now