On Tuesday, we waxed-poetic about the amazing Jean-Paul Daumen of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, but what we didn’t mention is his second line of wines, Daumen. Aiming to capture the passion of his younger vine-growing peers, Jean-Paul decided to work with a select few organic growers, including two who used to be employed with the Domaine, whose fruit might best represent the philosophy behind the wines at Vieille Julienne. Released in 2010, Daumen is a winemaking project that gives a home to Jean-Paul’s declassified fruit while allowing him to maintain working relationships with growers in different appellations. “I like the wines to be in the style of Vieille Julienne,” Jean-Paul said of Daumen, who “guides the winemaking process, with the least intervention possible,” to make “modest wines [that are] straight from the heart”. Read more
Posts from the ‘France’ Category
“The most important part of my work is in the parcel. If I find good blending in a parcel after harvest, then 80% of my work is done,” said Jean-Paul Daumen of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne. “If you go often to the parcel, you can feel the maturity. I do the blending in my head, but you have to be a little crazy because it’s all about repetition. Spending time in plots. Watching for change. You get to know the parcels well.” During one particular vintage, Jean-Paul said he tasted 15,000 grapes. “I ate half the harvest,” he added and laughed, explaining that he doesn’t eat during harvest because he tends to eat grapes all day long. And because his fruit has been organically and biodynamically farmed since Jean-Paul took over the Domaine from his father in 1990, he can be sure that his intake is clean.
Gerald Oustric of Domaine Le Mazel (photo credit)
“Natural wines were wild then,” said Byron Bates of Goatboy Selections. “The highs were high, but there wasn’t much consistency.” As the wine director at Amy Sacco’s Bette, Bates assembled a list of natural wines that led Eric Asimov to name it one of his three most favorite restaurants in the city. “We got a big following world wide,” he added. “We were serving some really funky stuff.” Once Bette closed in 2008, Bates went on to later develop a sans soufre wine list at Isa in Williamsburg. “The food coming out of the kitchen was so spectacular, I wanted to do something personal without making it about me, so I experimented with unsulfured wines and found that they matched perfectly.” Attracted to winemakers who are dogmatic about not using sulfur, Byron added, “If they’re fanatic about not using sulfur, they must be fanatic about the wines themselves. This was years after Bette. Now the [natural] wines are stable, clean and focused.” Read more
Francois Mitjavile at Tertre Roteboeuf (Photo credit)
Operating outside of the U.S. press for the past seven years, Francois Mitjavile severed his connection with Robert Parker in 2006. Despite the 98 Parker points that he received for his 2005 vintage, Mitjavile, whose declassified Tertre Roteboeuf is well known in France, had decided to not be beholden to the influence of Big Red. “In France, he’s given the same accolades as the well known St Emilion houses like Cheval Blanc,” said Patrick Burke, our French Portfolio Director, “but here, his wines are unfamiliar. Those who do know the wine consider it a value in comparison to Cheval Blanc and Pavie.” Read more
“They were the third family documented to make wine here,” said Benedicte Bonnet of the family who owned Chateau Maucoil before her parents purchased the estate in 1995. One of the oldest Chateau in the region, Chateau Maucoil’s oldest parts date back to the 1st century, when a Roman legion formed a camp here around a natural spring, today called La Source de Chateau Maucoil. Located in Chateauneuf du Pape in Orange, which is named for the Dutch Prince of Nassau-Orange who resided here in the 13th century when Seigneur Joseph de la Pise first planted vineyards here, the estate is referenced in Pise’s 1,000 page tome entitled, “Tableau de l’Histoire es Princes et Principaute d’Orange”, which sits beneath a glass dome in the winery’s tasting room. It is from this illustrated text that the family drew the inspiration for their wine labels. Read more
At yesterday’s Fall Tasting we uncorked some 50+ bottles of wine along with a number of spirits, and though this bottle of Les Vins de Vienne “Sotanum” Syrah 2008 was near the end of the line, it easily refreshed most any palate with its vibrant waves of undulating complexities and definitive deliciousness. Read more
Luc & Catherine Tardy of Domaine du Murinais
A seventh generation grower, Luc Tardy of Domaine du Murinais lives with his wife Catherine in a house that has been family occupied since it was constructed in 1774. Attached to the house and built around a courtyard in 1683, the currant cellar was once rented by his ancestors to a convent, where the nuns would gather and exchange goods with the monks who lived in an abby in the Alps a few miles away. In another section where barrels now reside, a stable once held horses. Farming organically since 2003, Luc is the first of these seven generations to make and bottle wines from select estate parcels, which for many years had instead supplied fruit to the local co-op (most recently Cave de Tain) in Crozes Hermitage.
Hailing from the village of Fleury, in Languedoc’s AOP La Clape, Château de la Negly “La Falaise” 2010, is a blend of 55% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre. A 50ha estate, Negly overlooks the Mediterranean, which sits past the rows of old-vine Mourvedre that reside in front of the 18th century Château. At the base of the hill La Clape, which was once an island during the Gallo-Roman era, there are rocky soils of sandy loam and decomposing sandstone with alluvial deposits. Home to winemakers since Roman times, Château de la Negly has gone through a few incarnations, owned by the Rosset family for several decades, until Jean Paux-Rosset took the place of his then recently deceased father in 1992.
Investing in the cellars and vineyards, Jean reduced yields and increased the quality of fruit selection, which led to the estate’s production of three high-profile red wines, including “La Falaise” in 1996.
When operating at the tip of any frontier there’s power in numbers. Would Kerouac have had the same impact without his accompanying Beats? Rauschenberg without Warhol? Matthiasson without Petroski? Winogrand without Arbus? Parker without Gillespie?
In Vacqueyras resides Cécile Dusserre of Domaine de Montvac, a one-woman operation sandwiched between Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas, in an AOC that received its status in 1990 with the help of Dusserre’s father who was instrumental in gaining its classification. Long before buyers and consumers came to seek family-run producers from unknown and upcoming regions, Domaine de Montvac was operating as just that. Silently farming and fermenting wines of elegance in a region that stands on the cusp on neighboring Old World regions that have operated across time, Dusserre has persisted in making natural wines that speak to the palate.
Cécile Dusserre of Domaine de Montvac
With the 2012 vintage, the year that Ecocert began to require organic practices in the cellar as well as in the vineyard, Domaine de Montvac yielded half of its normal harvest. The fact that Cécile Dusserre works annually with the same team of harvesters who know the property and her preferences well was no match for the weather, where January was very cold, and the preceding months were mild. The frigid temperatures at the beginning of the year ended up arresting the sap’s descension through the trunks, which caused most all of her 1.1ha of 90-year-old Grenache vines to explode, and forced Cécile to tear them up from the ground. And though the Mistral generally helps keep the vines free of disease, in this particular vintage, the winds appeared during flowering and blew a lot of flowers from the vines, meaning that there likely won’t be a 2012 “Variation”, which is made from 100% old-vine Grenache in only the best of vintages, but luckily we’re stocked with reserves of the wine’s last great vintage–2010.