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Cazes 'Ego' Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2017 (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cazes 'Ego' Côtes Du Roussillon-Villages 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified organic and biodynamic estate in France. It was founded in 1895 by Michel Cazes and the wines are made by the fourth generation of winemakers, headed up by Emmanuel Cazes. The family makes a range of interesting dry wines alongside the regional specialities, Vin Doux Naturels. They took the decision to move to organic and biodynamic viticulture in 1997. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar.

Maison Cazes is set in the sunniest French region. Since the family started farming biodynamically, they have found that the vineyards are healthier and the vines are stronger, with longer roots. Vines grow on clay and limestone soils, covered by 'galets roulés' (the 'pudding stones' also found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape). The low yielding vines are about 30 years old, and produce 30 hectolitres per hectare.

2017 was a very early vintage thanks to the good water reserves in the soil and the mild temperature from February. The warmer temperatures in July and August aided the vegetative cycle. The grapes were picked early, when the optimal sugar and acidity levels had been obtained.

40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Mourvèdre. The three varieties were 100% de-stemmed and before being put in separate stainless steel vats. Only naturally occurring yeasts were used; no yeast was added to the must. Fermentation was temperature controlled at 28°C. The residual matter was circulated by pump-overs and the sediment was broken up by hand twice a day to extract the best qualities. The wine was macerated for four weeks before pressing after which it underwent malolactic fermentation.

As well as being biodynamic and organic, this wine is suitable for vegans.

The palate is bright with ripe red and black fruit aromas and rich liquorice notes, balanced by delicate tannins. This wine has a remarkable balance, thanks to its good acidity and freshness. Long finish with white pepper flavours.

£14.85

Chateau De Chambert Cahors Malbec 2014 (1x75cl)

Château de Chambert lies 30 kilometres west of the town of Cahors, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Owned and run by Philippe Lejeune since 2007, with the additional support of consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt, the estate has already garnered considerable attention in France and is top critic Michel Bettane’s ‘One to Watch’. The elegant, modern wines are made from the deep-coloured Malbec variety, which traditionally produced the ‘black wines’ of Cahors.

Vineyards are planted with 85% Malbec and 15% Merlot at the highest part of the South Quercy limestone plateau (causse), at an average altitude of 300 metres above sea level. The soil contains two distinct geological components; red clay with high concentration of red which lends the wine power, spice and black fruit aromas; and white clay with limestone similar to that of Chablis, which produces minerality and finesse. Located between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, the unique mesoclimate takes effect especially towards harvest when hot winds from Africa aid grape ripening. Careful leaf-thinning and green harvesting ensure well exposed fruit. The vines are 25 years old and yields are low at around 28 hectolitres per hectare. The grapes are hand-harvested.

Warm weather early in the year brought the 2014 bud-burst forward to 19th March, two weeks earlier than average. Summer began with a beautiful, dry June, but July and August suffered from intermittent rain, which increased disease pressure and slowed ripening. A warm, dry September allowed full sugar and phenolic ripeness, and healthy vines, with the long growing season encouraging complexity and concentration. The harvest started with on 3rd October, and was completed by the middle of the month.

The grapes are separated by parcel and vinified spearately. After a pneumatic press, the free-run juice and pressings were separated. Fermentation took place with ambient yeasts at controlled temperatures of 25-30°C, and the cap was managed by a combination of pump-overs and plunging. The fermenting must spent 25 days on skins. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrel. The wine was matured for 12 months in french oak, 20% of which were new.

This wine is beautifully dark and intense in colour. On the nose, it has refined ripe fruit aromas of blueberry and violet. On the palate, the tannins are silky and round and the mineral character on the finish balances the black fruit and ripe flavours.

£21.80

Clau de Nell Grolleau 2015 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 review of Festive Wines (see blue link below).

Clau de Nell Grolleau 2015 - January 2019 Decanter review

The vineyards at Clau de Nell have been cultivated biodynamically since 2000. A period of financial difficulty led the previous proprietors to seek help from the late Anne-Claude Leflaive and her husband, Christian Jacques. In 2008, the Leflaive-Jacques family purchased Clau de Nell, which at the time had not produced any wine for three years. Since then, Clau de Nell has enjoyed a successful revival with ex-sommelier Sylvain Potin making the wine and Christian running the domaine.

The domaine is situated in Anjou and is comprised of 8.5 hectares of red varieties planted on a south-facing knoll at 90 metres altitude. The vines range in age from 30 to 90 years old and are low yielding (on average 25 hl/ha). There are five hectares of Cabernet Franc, two hectares of the native Grolleau and one hectare of Cabernet Sauvignon. They also planted 1.5 hectares of Chenin Blanc in 2012 which produced its first vintage in 2015.

All the grapes were hand harvested and 100% destemmed. Fermentation was carried out using indigenous yeasts in oak barrels with gentle punch downs. The wines were then aged for 18 months in old barrels purchased from Domaine Leflaive. The wines were bottled without fining or filtration on fruit days, according to the biodynamic calendar. Minimal sulphur dioxide was used because Sylvain says he likes his wine to taste clean and ‘like wine’.

This wine is 100% Grolleau.

The Grolleau is crisp and fragrant with blueberry and blackberry aromas. It has a bright acidity with a lingering attractive spice on the finish.

£27.45

Domaine Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone La Sagesse 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2016 vintage was awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter at an En Primeur Rhone tasting in October 2017.

Domaine Gramenon 'La Sagesse' 2016 - October 2017 Decanter review

Domaine Gramenon was created in 1978 and is situated in Montbrison-sur-Lez in Drôme provençale, at the bottom of the first pre-Alps foothills, the domain stands at a 350 m altitude in the most northern part of the southern Côtes du Rhône area. The vineyard has been cultivated in a natural and organic way since its creation in 1978. They also felt that they should adopt biodynamic techniques and were certified as biodynamic in 2010. They believe each piece of their land to be specific and have its own identity.

This wine is 100% Grenache.

See blue link below for the excellent, 2017 fiche technique / technical note from the winemakers at Domaine Gramenon.

Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse - fiche technique

The La Sagesse reveals stony notes mixed with spices and red and black fruit aromas. The palate is full and dense, offering fruit flavours and a long, powerful finish.  This wine would be a good match with beef rib, red meats or smoked crab and paprika chowder.

£25.55

Domaine Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone Sierra Du Sud 2017 (1x75cl)

The 2015 vintage was awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter as part of their article Southern Rhone 15: Cotes du Rhone Crus and more - part 2 in April 2017.

Domaine Gramenon Sierra du Sud 2015 - April 2017 Decanter review

Domaine Gramenon was created in 1978 and is situated in Montbrison-sur-Lez in Drôme provençale, at the bottom of the first pre-Alps foothills, the domain stands at a 350 m altitude in the most northern part of the southern Côtes du Rhône area. The vineyard has been cultivated in a natural and organic way since its creation in 1978. They also felt that they should adopt biodynamic techniques and were certified as biodynamic in 2010. They believe each piece of their land to be specific and have its own identity.

This wine is 100% Syrah.

See blue link below for the excellent fiche technique / technical note from the winemakers at Domaine Gramenon.

Domaine Gramenon Sierra du Sud - fiche technique

Amidst the power of this wine you will find a delightful delicacy: cassis mingled with tapenade, Provençal herbs, minerals and flowers. The Sierra du Sud goes well when matched with rack of lamb, grilled meats or mature cheese.

£21.75

Domaine Leon Barral Faugeres La Valiniere 2015 (1x75cl)

Didier Barral represents the thirteenth generation to grow grapes in the tiny hamlet of Lenthéric, within the confines of the Faugères appellation deep in the heart of the Languedoc. While his forebears made a living off of cultivating the vine, Didier took the family business to the next level when he began estate-bottling and commercializing his wines on a larger scale in 1993. Named for Didier's grandfather, Domaine Léon Barral is a beacon of revolutionary winegrowing: shortly after founding the domaine, Didier decided that biodynamic practices were the best choice for farming his thirty hectares of vineyards. He has pioneered numerous innovative agronomic techniques with the goal of establishing his vineyards as a self-sustaining ecosystem. This Renaissance man, naturalist, and biodynamic expert commands tremendous respect among his peers for his visionary approach to topics like soil management, pest control, and drought mitigation in his vineyards.

Didier Barral is one of the champions of the biodynamic movement in France and is highly respected among his peers for his uncompromising respect for the environment in which he lives and works—meaning the entire ecosystem surrounding his vineyards. Didier’s red Faugères, grown in rugged schist soil, displays power, rusticity, and incredibly fresh, pure fruit. Treat it as you would the wines of Gramenon and Magnon—organic, living beings that demand care and respect. His Faugères ages beautifully in a good cellar.

A superb biodynamic wine, La Valinière is a blend of 80% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah and is one of the finest wines to emerge from the south of France in the past few years. Maceration takes place for 3 to 4 weeks with regular, manual punch-downs in cement tanks. After maceration, the must is lightly pressed with an old, wooden, vertical basket press. This wine is aged for 24 to 26 months in barrel (10% new oak). The Syrah in this cuvée comes from a north-facing parcel of vines.

Didier Barral produces wines of great depth and character, of which La Valinière is a typical example. As with many Mourvèdre-dominated wines, La Valinière is intense and velvety with savoury and 'gamey' flavours. There are also notes of cloves and cinammon. The Syrah completes the package by contributing black fruit and a touch of pepper. The acidity and tannins are well balanced making this an ideal food wine.

£48.60

Domaine Stephane Otheguy Cote-Rotie 2012 (1x75cl)

Since 1994, Stéphane Otheguy has leased 1.5 hectares of vineyards from Vincent Gasse that are divided between the three northern Rhône appellations of Côte Rôtie , Condrieu and Saint Joseph.  Stéphane left a career in education to study eonology at Macon after which he began working for Vincent Gasse. He spent seven years with Vincent farming in the organic and bio-dynamic methods that he espoused and in 1994 when Vincent decided to retire, Stéphane Otheguy took over and began making wine from these same vineyards. 

Stéphane is a member of Nature et Progres, an organization that oversees and certifies organic farming. The vineyards that Stéphane cultivates are among the most difficult in France to farm organically. They are extremely steep and rocky, making the use of machinery impossible and requiring a great deal of intensive manual labor. His winemaking techniques are traditional or natural. The domaine has been worked organically since it has been taken over in 1984.

The Côte-Rôtie comes from parcels at Ritolas, Leya, Côte Rozier and Rozier. The vines are a minimum of twenty-five years old and are situated on micaschists oriented south and south east. The vinification takes place in cement betons. There is a preferment maceration for three to four days then an opentopped fermentation on the indigenous yeasts. Pigeage takes place once a day with regular pumping over. Long elevage in barrels, but no new oak. The wine is neither filtered nor fined and only has the smallest addition of sulphur.

The nose develops with notes of burnt wood, violets and blackberries and exhibits a kind of cool smokiness. The mouth embracing theses flavours, is vital and tonic, and displays a dynamic minerality. A very pretty Côte-Rôtie, fresh and stylish, naturally expressing the terroir. Serve with a piece of grilled beef or roasted aubergines with thyme and spices and confit shoulder of lamb.

£44.05

Languedoc Syrah Grenache Maris 2017 (1x75cl)

Robert Eden, a biodynamic winemaker, has built the world’s first hemp cellar with Château Maris.

When the vineyard was purchased in Languedoc, the initial yields were lower than expected. The soil was dead, due to the previous farmer’s overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, so we looked at ways of rejuvenating it, using compost.  Biodynamic preparations were added to one organic compost pile and another was left alone. After a while the biodynamic pile container far more living organisms so the decision was then made.

It was a business decision since the vines are now healthier and grow longer – and the quality of grapes is better.  The entire estate is certified by both Demeter and Biodyvin. The fertilizer is compost made from local cow and sheep manure plus some horse manure.  Yields are 32 hl/ha on average and the entire estate is hand harvested. Chateau Maris is now a 79-acre Biodynamic and Organic Estate (certified by Demeter since 2008, Biodyvins since 2004, Ecocert since 2002 and NOP) divided into a multitude of small vineyards on the hillside above the village of La Livinière, the first cru classé of the Minervois, in the Languedoc region.

When you purchase any Château Maris wine, you are really getting great tasting wines that are produced and brought to you with minimal environmental impact, at the best price possible in the most ethical way possible.

To see the winemakers' tasting note for this wine, please click on the blue link below.

Languedoc Syrah Grenache Maris 2017 - fiche technique

In previous years, an AOC Minervois, declassified to AOC Languedoc in 2017.

£13.15

Domaine Catherine & Dominique Derain Mercurey Rouge, La Plante Chassey 2013 (1x 75cl)

Catherine & Dominique Derain are biodynamic producers in Burgundy with vines in a number of different Burgundian appellations. Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels but decided, instead, to study wine making in Beaune where he met Catherine, his wife. In 1988 he and Catherine purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically and making their wines in a very non-interventionist way.

The Derains always adopt a minimalist approach. They farm biodynamically, hand harvest, do not chaptalize or acidify and use the barest amount of sulphur in their winemaking approach. All the fruit is hand-picked and they destem 90% of their red grapes before fermentation, which occurs in wooden vats. After fermentation the wine is aged in old oak casks for 12-18 months. The couple never use SO2 during the winemaking process, adding only a small amount at bottling for stabilization.

Their thrilling Mercurey from old biodynamically-tended vines (100 years old) reaches an altogether different level. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Beurrot (related to the Pinot Gris).

There is a silky nature to this Mercurey giving it a supple mouthfeel and a detailed range of raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of pomegranate. It has lovely spice notes and touch of lavender on the nose. Striking elegance, complexity and length.

£37.85

Domaine Catherine & Dominique Derain Mercurey Rouge, La Plante Chassey 2017 (1x75cl)

Catherine & Dominique Derain are biodynamic producers in Burgundy with vines in a number of different Burgundian appellations. Dominique Derain started his career making wine barrels but decided, instead, to study wine making in Beaune where he met Catherine, his wife. In 1988 he and Catherine purchased 5.5 hectares of vineyards in Saint Aubin just south of Beaune and began tending the vines biodynamically and making their wines in a very non-interventionist way.

The Derains always adopt a minimalist approach. They farm biodynamically, hand harvest, do not chaptalize or acidify and use the barest amount of sulphur in their winemaking approach. All the fruit is hand-picked and they destem 90% of their red grapes before fermentation, which occurs in wooden vats. After fermentation the wine is aged in old oak casks for 12-18 months. The couple never use SO2 during the winemaking process, adding only a small amount at bottling for stabilization.

Their thrilling Mercurey from old biodynamically-tended vines (100 years old) reaches an altogether different level. It is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Beurrot (related to the Pinot Gris).

There is a silky nature to this Mercurey giving it a supple mouthfeel and a detailed range of raspberry and cherry fruit with a touch of pomegranate. It has lovely spice notes and touch of lavender on the nose. Striking elegance, complexity and length.

£44.10

Domaine Le Roc Des Anges Cotes Du Roussillon Villages Rouge Segna De Cor 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their August 2019 edition article on organic and biodynamic wine production in Languedoc-Roussillon (see blue link below).

Domaine Le Roc Des Anges Cotes Du Roussillon Villages Rouge Segna De Cor 2017 - August 2019 Decanter review

Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet, both incomers from other parts of France (Côte-Rotie and Normandy, respectively), have constructed a biodynamic wine sanctuary (certified 2014) in the Vallée de l’Agly, a nearly deserted vineyard land dominated by co-ops and famous for producing fortified wines. The locals continue to abandon vines every year because the yields are tragically low and make it one of the most difficult places in France to make a living in vineyards.

Since she began the project in 2001 (at age 23), Marjorie’s intuitive and peaceful contemplation have resulted in wines that carry a signature of purity, focus and elegance unlike anything made in the region. They are low alcohol, hands-off, mind-on wines bottled by varietal from single sites on specific and unique soil compositions. In smell and taste, their structure and style more closely resemble that of their earthy and salty cousins from the middle of France’s Loire Valley.

Roc des Anges’ biodynamically farmed (since 2011) vineyards sit in one of the lowest yielding areas of the Roussillon in the Vallée de l’Agly, a north-facing amphitheater closer to the mountains than the sea and between the villages, Latour-de-France and Cassagne. Cool air from the mountains rushes in at night, creating an extreme diurnal shift, which contributes to the development of complexity in the grapes. Margorie said that the nighttime cold also makes it almost impossible to have a dinner outside, even during the summer. The sun, the intense winds and the nutrient-spare but character filled soils (mostly schist) all contribute to the concentrating of the grapes and their resulting wines. 

Segna de Cor ('Blood of the Heart') is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah produced from the estate's youngest vines (15-30 years of age).

Technical: Whole bunch, manual harvest. A traditional press is used, exerting the mildest of pressure, extracting juice. Vinification is in concrete tanks ranging between 24 and 50hl, and the shape of the tanks and the level of the fill determine appropriately gentle extraction. Ageing takes place in two types of containers; concrete – which exalts the aromatic purity and freshness of the wine - and wood (for about 30-40% of the elevage) in the form of one-to-three year old barrels.

Dark cedar in colour.  Aromas of blackcurrant, cassis and dark chocolate on the nose. These are joined by black cherry and spicy notes on the palate. Ripe tannins and a very smooth mouthfeel make this an excellent match with rustic stews and roast meats.

£15.70
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