• New Dawn in Loire

    New Dawn in Loire

    Loire Chenin Blanc produced in the most natural of methods is something I'm always excited to taste. The bar for excellence is very high, given only the most skilled viticulture can turn out these complex and high-wire achievements. That's why when the importer of Chateau de Bonnezeaux had announced a new domaine, and my interest was piqued.

    Lejeune, like Guyonne Saclier de la Bâtie of Bonnezeaux, worked alongside legendary Chenin Blanc whisperer, Mark Angeli at Ferme de la Sansonniere. Here, Mark taught the skills necessary to produce Anjou Chenin Blanc with minimal intervention.

    Lejeune's two cuvées, first and foremost, offer a value that cannot be overstated. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc from this domaine initially explode on the palate with a soft texture, and open-knit style of fruit met with a mineral grip and tingling finishes that saturate the palate with salinity.

    In its fruit profile, the Chenin Blanc shows ripe orchard fruits and honeysuckle cut with lemon citrus notes that switch this broad attack of ripeness into a mineral delivery system masterpiece. The natural element is abundantly clear with its cardamom spices fully enveloped under a strict spine of chalk and schist-derived minerality.

    With this importer's portfolio covering names like Roumier, Roulot, and D'Angerville, it's exciting to see the juxtaposition of more natural-minded producers coming to the forefront offering the same fastidious methods of work with a more hands-off approach in the cellar. If there's one new name to familiarize yourself with after the Bonnezeaux wines have completely sold out, it would certainly be Olivier Lejeune's Clos des Plantes lineup.

    About the label from Grand Cru Selections: "The illustration for the Chenin Blanc label was made by Magdalena Kaczan, a Polish artist. It depicts the ideas of biodiversity, the ability to establish a human connection to the earth and stars, and the humbling feeling that comes from reflecting on nature’s complexity and the subsequent desire to preserve it."

    Click here to shop Clos Des Plantes wines

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Fleurie's Queen of Hearts

    Fleurie's Queen of Hearts

    In a very short time, Julien Sunier has become one of our favorite producers in a region full of unbelievably talented vignerons. Sunier, originally from Dijon, has worked with wineries all over the globe. You can't help but be reminded of the wines of Chambolle-Musigny when you try his Fleurie, due to their haunting grace and depth. He actually sources his neutral barrels from iconic Chambolle producer, Christophe Roumier, where he first worked.

    Fleurie, by all accounts, is one of the most feminine of the 10 Crus of Beaujolais and referred to as the Queen of Beaujolais commonly. Julien practices organic viticulture and employs 100% whole cluster fermentation of Gamay. His wines are outrageously floral, elegant, energetic, and are capable of developing in the cellar for years after release.

    Visiting with Julien in 2012 put his new domaine on my radar, and over the years since then, I've watched them gain traction with Cru Beaujolais fanatics. His 2019 release raises the bar again. Do not miss Sunier's Fleurie, one that has been a staple of Kogod Wine Merchant since we opened in 2015.

    The Wine Advocate's William Kelley on 2019 Julien:

    "As I wrote last year, Julien Sunier established his own small Beaujolais domaine in 2008 after a stint working with Christophe Roumier in Chambolle-Musigny, and he has rapidly emerged as one of the region's new star producers. Committed to organic farming from the beginning, whole-cluster fermentation in cement vats at low temperature followed by élevage in used Burgundy barrels are the rudiments of his approach. The style is supple, elegant and perfumed, emphasizing grace and charm, and all the cuvées reviewed here come, once again, warmly recommended."

    Click here to shop Julien Sunier wines

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Sancerre's Seamless Trois Terroir

    Sancerre's Seamless Trois Terroir

    Vincent Gaudry delivers the single Sancerre that over delivers vintage after vintage. After the first sip, you'll immediately recognize something is different here given its price tag. There's a refinement in detail, the fruit displayed in the purest and most unadulterated fashion, with an authenticity that screams of terroir.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 Vincent Gaudry Sancerre Le Tournebride.

    Le Tournebride may be Vincent's introductory bottle, but it's always my favorite. Tournebride is sourced from old vines planted in each of the appellation's three main soils: silex, terres blanches, and caillottes. Surprisingly, Vincent is still part of a select group of Sancerre vignerons who employ organic and biodynamic farming. Vincent began this "radical" shift into organics in 1993 and fulfilled the rigorous Demeter certification for biodynamics in 2004.

    There is a quality to Gaudry's wines that just speak to a perfect sense of harmony between the three terroirs assembled here, as well as the structure and contours in play on the palate. Drinking Le Tournebride, I'm more reminded of the sensibilities found in Burgundy, where a sense of place almost overrides Sauvignon Blanc's characteristics.

    Sancerre is famous for simple, crisp, and chuggable whites reliant on its iconic name, but the value realm of the region still has alternatives. Gaudry is that beacon of top-notch quality in Sancerre where—in this case, for $32—you can expect the royal treatment from vine to bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    Long-Distance Runner: 2017 Domaine Hubert Lignier

    The 2017 Hubert Lignier will likely mark the last arrival of Burgundy allocations from this beautifully classic and terroir-driven vintage.

    One new Lignier cuvée you will see below is the 2017 Clos de la Roche MCMLV. This is the first vintage for the production of this wine. MCMLV comes from a special parcel of 1955-planted vines in the Monts Luissants portion of the larger Grand Cru. Just 0.25 hectares in size, the old vines here producing "millerandes" grapes, meaning the grapes are very small and concentrated. 30% whole clusters were used for this inaugural cuvée. Only 433 bottles were produced.

    Lignier has been imported by Neal Rosenthal (Barthod, Fourrier, and Jacques Carillon) since the 1978 vintage, marking one of Neal's earliest and greatest successes. The style of the domaine has always been one that emphasized structure and distinct terroir-driven soil expression. Located in Morey-Saint-Denis, Lignier's wines all display that gorgeous rusted earth, black cherry, and hoisin note that the village is often associated with.

    Each cuvée is unique from the next, and modest levels of new oak keep the focus squarely on site. 20-30% new wood for Villages and Premiers, and 50% for the Grand Crus. All grapes are destemmed, receive a five-day cold soak, and then a relatively long fermentation of 15-20 days. The Villages wines are raised in barrel for 18 months, with Premier and Grand Crus receiving a 24-month elévage.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • "N" Marks the Spot: 2019 Lapierre Non-Sulfured Morgon

    I will always beat the drum for the new vintage of Lapierre Morgon, but when the non-sulphured cuvée is available for California I'm on cloud nine. No producer in Beaujolais surpasses Lapierre's satin texture and explosively juicy Gamay fruit.

    In some years the fruit is deemed to be ideal to exclude sulphur additions during each phase from harvest through fermentation, aging, and bottling. The risky proposition for others has been mastered over the years by Lapierre, and the Morgon from this estate is the model of soundness within this ultra-delicate framework.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2019 Lapierre release.

    2019 is the most exciting vintage in Morgon since 2016, harnessing the energy of that vintage with the intensity of fruit that warmer vintages bring. This is precisely the kind of vintage that I go deep on with Lapierre for my personal cellar.

    The non-sulphured cuvée that's commonly only available in California exuberates Gamay's bright strawberry fruit and granitic mineral core without any restraints. This is Lapierre in high-definition.

    The historical significance of Marcel Lapierre is firmly ingrained into the history books of French winemaking. Since 2010, Marcel's children Matthieu and Camille have carried on the natural approach that had placed their father in the hearts of winemakers and enthusiasts across the globe.

    Marcel Lapierre took over the domaine in 1973 from his father, and in 1981 his encounter with Jules Chauvet set him on a course that would literally change the world of wine. Chauvet's strong words against using pesticides, herbicides, and cultured yeasts launched a shift toward natural viticulture and winemaking in Beaujolais. And along with Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, and Jean-Paul Thévenet, the Gang of Four was unofficially founded. Their practices spread quickly and the proof in the pudding made clear this natural route was one that yielded wines of authenticity and joie de vivre.

    Posted by Max Kogod