French Wine Club
French Club - February
One of the highlights, if not the highlight of my recent French wine buying trip was meeting with Jean-Marc Joblot of Domaine Joblot in Givry, in the Côte Challonaise. Jean-Marc was a refreshing and not at all dogmatic winemaker, who makes deep and profound wines from an area of Burgundy that is not at all well-respected by the cognoscenti.
His wines have a core of fruit, depth, acidity, and provenance that scream that they come from a place, not a style. These are wines that can be appreciated now, but which will bring you great pleasure if you wait a year or five.
Your allocation this month is for a bottle of Domaine Joblot Givry "Clos de la Servoisine" Premier Cru, either the 2007 or 2008 vintage.
French Club - November
This month we present another outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe from the exciting 2009 vintage. Your allocation is for one bottle of the Domaine de la Charbonniere Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe Les Hautes Brusquières Cuvée Speciale 2009.
Domaine de la Charbonniere was created in 1912 when Eugene Maret bought the property as a gift for his wife, the daughter of a local wine grower. Their son Fernand Maret maintained the estate and his son Michel Maret is now proprietor.
Maret’s estate of 45+ acres is primarily in the eastern and northern sectors of the appellation, with large holdings in La Crau and the well-known lieu-dit of Brusquières. These are classic, traditional styles of Châteauneuf du Pâpe.
Les Hautes Brusquières Cuvée Speciale is sourced solely from les Brusquières. Situated on an elevated plateau in the northwest portion of the AOC with vines ranging from 30 to 50 years old, Les Brusquières is one of the best sites in the AOC. The vineyard is studded with galets, the famous round stones of the region, sitting above clay subsoil. Clay soils retain excess moisture much better than other soils, especially important in dry years like 2009.
French Club - September
This month we present another iconic French wine, Grange des Pères.
Founded in 1992, Grange des Peres has quickly become arguably the greatest and most respected domaine in the entire Languedoc region. Located in the village of Aniane, the estate is run by former physiotherapist Laurent Vaillé. His impeccable resumé includes stints with Gerard Chave and Francois Coche-Dury, and, as Andrew Jefford writes in The New France, "...this background in wine-craftsmanship is evident in every bottle that comes from his cellar." The red sees up to two years in wood, but the oak comes across as seamlessly integrated even upon release. Extremely conscientious viticulture -- low-cropping young vines, harvesting ripe and healthy fruit -- are de rigeur here.
Robert Parker: "Voluptuously-textured, with superb concentration, this full-bodied, beautifully pure, intense, layered wine is a dead-ringer for a top-notch Chateauneuf du Pape or Coteaux de Baux. Availability is limited, but readers who have access to it should consider buying it by the case. This estate’s wines are terribly hard to locate in the United States, selling out instantly upon arrival on our shores. Nevertheless, it is important for The Wine Advocate to report on them as doing so may inspire young winemakers in the Languedoc to follow in the footsteps of Laurent Vaille, the dedicated, highly talented winemaker of Domaine La Grange des Peres."
French Club - October
We're pleased to present the first of the stunning 2009 Chateauneuf du Papes, with wines from Cuvée du Vatican. Your allocation is for one bottle of either Cuvée du Vatican Chateauneuf du Pape 2009 or Cuvée du Vatican Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Sixtine 2009.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape (70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and the rest Mourvedre, Cinsault and other grapes) was given the same upbringing as the 2008. Its dark ruby/plum color is followed by sweet aromas of raspberries, black cherries, forest floor and Provencal herbs. Attractive and soft with light to moderate tannin as well as medium to full body, it should drink nicely for 10-12 years. 92 points
Far more structured, with significant minerality, power and tannin is the dense ruby/purple-colored 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Sixtine (45% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 25% Mourvedre). This cuvee is always aged in 100% small barrels, of which 9-10% are new. A backward wine for the vintage, it reveals serious structure, powerful tannin and abundant mineral notes backed up by full body and impressive layers of fruit and structure. It requires 4-5 years of cellaring, and should last 15-20 years thereafter. 94 points
About Cuvée du Vatican Winery The Diffonty family goes as far back as 1673. At that time, they were already involved in agriculture and cultivated vines as well as olive and cherry trees. Gradually, the vines became the dominant culture. There is typical rich French history with this estate. In 1900 the Diffonty family owned a mere 2 hectares of vineyards and over the years grew their holdings steadily. In 1958 the Cuvee du Vatican trademark was created and blessed by the Pope.
French Club - 8th Allocation
This month we present another iconic wine from Chateuaneuf du Pape - 2008 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf du Pâpe. The wine is a bit spendy ($140 per bottle, so we offer as an alternative a bottle of 2008 Cuilleron St Joseph L'amarybelle ($56).
“One estate, one wine” - that was Paul Avril’s philosophy at Clos des Papes. Unlike some other notable estates in the region, Avril did not believe in creating a luxury cuvée above and beyond his regular Châteauneuf du Pape bottling. Instead, he created the best wine he could with what each vintage gave him, and any juice that didn’t meet his exacting standard was sold in bulk to négociants. Avril’s son Vincent now makes the wines at Clos des Papes, continuing a family winemaking tradition that stretches back 200 years.