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Monthly Newsletter—Featuring the Wines of the Loire Valley - 05/27/2019 - Monthly Newsletter

The Loire Valley is France's most diverse wine region. It offers a breathtaking range of appellations, varietals, and unique stylistic approaches. For the oenophile yearning to expand his or her horizons, there’s simply no better region in which to delve. From serious age-worthy reds to refreshing summertime sippers and everything in between, there’s a wine for every palate.

This month's newsletter looks closely at the bounty of the Loire Valley’s many appellations. Our buyer, Keith Mabry, kicks things off with a look at recent vintages and some of the challenges the region’s producers have worked hard to overcome. While quality is undoubtedly up, lower yields persist. After Keith’s introduction, Chris DePaoli takes the reigns with an assessment of the “light, refreshing, and uplifting” Sancerres of Aurore Dezat. Cameron Hoppas considers the delicious and age-worthy Vouvrays of Florent Cosme, while Keith wraps things up with articles on the many delights of sweet wines of Domaine du Petit Clocher Coteaux, and a reflection on the fleshy and intense Sancerre Rosé from Côtes Blanches. If the wines of the Loire aren’t already a regular in your rotation, this month’s newsletter makes a strong case for why they should be. Featured below are a few of our top finds from this singularly inspiring region.

Vintage Item Name Score Retail Link
2017 Bernier Chardonnay Val de Loire $8.99 View
2017 Franck Millet Menetou-Salon (Previously $17) Price: Hidden View
2015 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes (Previously $18) Price: Hidden View
2017 Domaine Tabordet "Les Petites aux Bues" Pouilly-Fumé (Previously $25) Price: Hidden View
2018 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre $18.99 View
2016 Florent Cosme "Utopie" Vouvray Demi-Sec 93 $24.99 View
2016 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rouge 91 $34.99 View
1997 Couly Dutheil "Clos de l'Olive" Chinon $46.99 View
2015 Domaine Vacheron "Belle Dame" Sancerre Rouge $59.99 View
1989 Couly Dutheil "Clos de l'Olive" Chinon (Previously $85) $79.99 View

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2017 Bernier Chardonnay Val de Loire ($8.99)

Wine Enthusiast: "This soft wine offers simple apple and apricot flavors. Everything is in balance to give a gentle, smooth wine that is ready to drink." (12/2018)

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2017 Franck Millet Menetou-Salon (Previously $17) Price: Hidden

The wines of this family domaine have been a staple here at K&L since the 1994 vintage when Franck and Betty Millet drove from Sancerre to Bordeaux (a long way) to meet Clyde and crew to present the wines. The wines were great even in that tough vintage, and the rest is history. We love these wines for their freshness, charm and affordability. They consistently make our best value Sancerre in the store, and their Menetou-Salon from just down the road bears all the hallmarks that made us fall in love with this domaine 25 years ago.

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2015 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes (Previously $18) Price: Hidden

The winemakers at family estate Joël Taluau say that they cultivate pleasure above all else, truly care for the soil and grapes, and make wine in a natural way. Winery note: "The vintage Vieilles Vignes comes from vines aged over 35 and up to 80 years old, planted on clay-limestone soils. These are tannic wines with aromas of very ripe red fruits: depth, complexity and elegant tannins ensure a long life. They are to consume, preferably, 4 to 5 years after their bottling and will age about ten years according to your cellar."

Staff ImageKeith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 21, 2018

I tend to cook a fair amount of braised dishes this time of year as well as a standing rib roast or two, but Bordeaux seems too obvious a choice. But, Im a huge Cabernet Franc fan. Something like the 2015 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes fits me like a loud Christmas sweater. Its an off-the-radar region and it has spot-on varietal character. Its also from a great vintage so the wine has ripe black cherry fruit but also notes of crushed herbs like sage and rosemary. Its an outstanding complement to my style of cooking.

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2017 Domaine Tabordet "Les Petites aux Bues" Pouilly-Fumé (Previously $25) Price: Hidden

Nestled in the village of Verdigny, Domain Tabordet is run by brothers Yvon and Pascal Tabordet, who took the reins back in 1981. When the two brothers first took over the estate, it consisted of three hectares (7.4 acres) in Sancerre. By 1988, they had added another 4.5 hectares of Sancerre and another 12 hectares (29.7 acres) in neighboring Pouilly-Fumé, just across the Loire River. The soils here have a similar character to those of Sancerre, but one of the defining characteristics of Pouilly-Fumé wines is the smoky, flinty aromas (fumé), which result from the high concentration of silex, a.k.a. flint, found in the soil here. By taking a very simple but well-focused approach to farming and vinification, Domaine Tabordet does a really fantastic job of letting the grape and all of its character shine through.

2018 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre ($18.99)

Domaine Côtes Blanches was established in the 1930s by Bernard and Pierre Millet. In 1980, it was time for the second generation to take the reins, so François and Monique expanded the estate to 21 hectares of vines (15 Sauvignon, 6 Pinot Noir). After returning from his studies in Beaune five years ago, Nicolas (son of François and Monique) joined the family-run estate and brought a new energized passion. The family is dedicated to the land and the environment by which they are surrounded. All farming is done organically, harvest dates are dictated by nature rather than the calendar, and only gravity systems are used in the winemaking--no pumps--and all wines are allowed to rest 6-8 weeks in bottle before release.

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2016 Florent Cosme "Utopie" Vouvray Demi-Sec ($24.99)

93 points John Gilman: "The 2016 Vouvray 'Utopie' Demi-Sec from Florent Cosme comes from his oldest parcel of vines, which are more than seventy years of age. The wine is raised similarly to the la Motte Sec in four hundred liter, four-to-eight year-old barrels. The wine delivers a fine aromatic constellation of sweet quince, a touch of pineapple, incipient honeycomb, flinty soil tones and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with great mid-palate depth, bright, zesty acids and excellent length and grip on the complex finish. The old vines here really give this wine an extra element of dimension on the palate, with stellar backend energy! Great juice. 2018-2050+." (09/2018)

92 points Wine Spectator: "Plump and lush in feel, with a mix of warm apple, dried peach, quince and fig paste flavors inlaid liberally with warm piecrust and ginger notes. The finish lingers with some elegance despite the unctuous feel overall. Drink now through 2026. 150 cases imported. (JM)" (05/2018)

K&L Notes: Florent Cosme grew up in a Vouvray family but sadly did not inherit any of the vines of his grandfather. Slowly building up his own holdings, he has acquired several tiny parcels in the important Premiere Cote portion of Vouvray (regarded as the best growing area, famously occupied by such greats as Clos Naudin and Huet). For his day job, Florent works with Vincent Careme (another great noteworthy producer) as a vineyard manager and on the weekend tends to his own vines. Working in biodynamics, he was recently certified. The Utopie is a classic Demi-Sec made from vines about 70 years old, all grown on clay and silex (flint) soils. He uses all indigenous yeasts and no malolactic frementation to preserve the complexity of the vineyard and freshness of the wines. With its rich apple notes and light tropical profile, this is a perfect wine for savory and spicy foods.

Staff ImageJohn Majeski | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 31, 2019

Chenin Blanc is a capricious grape, depending on how long it is allowed to hang on the vine and unravel its mutable charms. We recently discovered Florent Cosme, a new winemaker in the heart of Vouvray who grew up in the region and is highly attuned to the personality of this versatile grape. His biodynamic-certified wines are all about the purity and integrity of the beautiful fruit, and he achieves remarkable results, as clearly evident in his evocative Utopie Vouvray Demi-Sec, born from 70 year old vines grown on clay-silex soils. Aromas and flavors permeate and inspire, from fleshy pineapple, to white pear, apple, quince and persimmon, and the finish resonates a gentle sweetness held in thrall by fine acidity. A wonderful wine to complement dishes from Thai to Tempura. And to be honest, an incredible value as well.

Staff ImageDavid Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 23, 2019

While the sec from Cosme is one of the best values in the shop right now, his demi-sec is the sort of thing that changes peoples mind. It's almost unfortunate that we have to sell this as demi-sec because so many people will turn their nose up at the idea of drinking something sweet, but this is not any sweeter than some of the big boy chardonnays coming out of California. The nose is massive bouquet of tropical fruit, waxy orchard fruit, subtle exotic spice. The palate is wonderfully textured, coating every last bit of the tongue and not letting go. The acidity waves of any semblance of cloying sweetness with ease leaving incredible balance mineral driven finish. A truly wonderful wine built to develop in the cellar for a decade or enjoy now with a wide array of excellent pairings (Thai, Indian, fried chicken, foie gras, etc.)

Staff ImageKeith Mabry | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 20, 2019

Chenin is an all-star grape that doesn't always get the recognition that it deserves. Some of the best examples come from the region of Vouvray. And, especially in the highly capable hands of someone like producer Florent Cosme, it can reach its full potential. The literal sweet spot for me are the Tendre/Demi-Sec wines of the region. That beautiful layered sweetness (subtle but present), supported by vibrant acidity along with the richness of Chenin Blanc, yields balance and longevity to some of the most underrated wines in the world. Florent's Demi-Sec, the "Utopie," is brimming with flavors of roasted pineapple, passion fruit, quince paste and crushed rocks. It is long and silky on the palate but the acidity in the wine keeps it focused and pure. This sits alongside the likes of Domaine Huet's magnificent line-up which is one of Vouvray's best. But since Florent doesn't have quite the history or recognition, his wines are half the price. Now is definitely the time to visit or revisit Chenin Blanc and the region of Vouvray with one of its most promising producers.

Staff ImageGreg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: March 12, 2019

The nose of this wine is exotic, perfumed, wild and full of intrigue. On the palate the wine shows breadth, there is a bit of residual sugar but I don't find it sweet it just gives a broader texture to the feel. The flavors are multiple types of spiced apples, full of baking spices, caramelized and extraordinarily aromatic. There is a long finish and I mean long, it does show a bit of residual sugar but paired with the right cheese or dish, this wine is dynamite!

2016 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rouge - 0 available ($34.99)

91 points Wine Enthusiast: "The entry-level Pinot Noir from this red-wine specialist reveals ripe and juicy red-berry flavors and a core of tannins. The wine has structure, density and rich fruit all within a balanced structure. (RV)" (12/2018)

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1997 Couly Dutheil "Clos de l'Olive" Chinon ($46.99)

Working in wine retail, we are often asked about what wines to age and how long one should age them. Truth be told, it depends. Chinon, for example, produces both wines that are intended to be drunk young and fresh and wines that are built to age for ten or more years. In step with the French notion of terroir, Cabernet Franc from Chinon heavily reflects the soil in which the vines are grown. The soil of Chinon can be divided into three main types: alluvial silt terraces composed of gravel and sand that sit along the banks of the Vienne River; Turonian chalk outcrops also along the banks of the Vienne; and flinty Senonian clay and tuffeau limestone on the hillsides. The sand and gravel soils on the banks of the Vienne River produce lighter, elegant wines for early drinking while the richer clay and tuffeau limestone soils of the hillsides produce a fuller-bodied wine with more structure, better for longer periods of aging.

2015 Domaine Vacheron "Belle Dame" Sancerre Rouge ($59.99)

Stephan Reinhardt writes: "Certified as a biodynamic wine producer for ten years now, Domaine Vacheron is surely one of the highlights in the Sancerrois. Lead by Jean-Dominique and his cousin Jean-Laurent, the family domaine produces a range of different single vineyard Sancerres in white, red and pink that reflects not just the rich variety of the terroirs in the region, but the concept of the cousins who seem to demonstrate that the Sancerreois is no less fascinating than the Côte d'Or. In fact, the rich and powerful whites (38 of the 50 hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc) belong to the best Sancerres you can find, especially when you have the patience to give the crus the time they need to develop."

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1989 Couly Dutheil "Clos de l'Olive" Chinon (Previously $85) ($79.99)

Direct from the Estate!!! Made from 100-year-old cabernet franc vines, growing on unique limestone and clay soil, this wine is dense and extremely complex. A magnificent example of a fine Loire red from what is arguably Chinon's greatest producer. Great aging potential, too. Full bodied and concentrated, a great vintage for Clos de L'Olive with abundant fruit, sweet rich mouthfeel and ripe juicy tannins. Very impressive wine for drinking now till 2010+. These wines evolve into the pinnacle of elegance, with haunting aromas of rich plummy fruit, sweet herbs, spice and earth, yet still very fresh, vibrant, and complex with intensity and length unmatched by all but the top properties in Bordeaux. I can't recommend them highly enough, though I will say that you should let the older wines rest at least 4-6 weeks before drinking them as they literally just got off the boat.