Louis Dressner Selections Louis Dressner Selections Blog http://louisdressner.com/ Mon, 30 May 2016 21:19:07 GMT Jules Dressner <![CDATA[New Visit: Causse Marines in Vieux!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/3/28/317/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/3/28/317/ Mon, 28 Mar 2016 27:55:57 GMT

To many, Causse Marines is an enigma. Why do they have clown noses on their labels? Why have do you literally know NONE of the grapes they work with? Why do they hate badgers?

Well, let's start off by answering the badger question. Badger translates to blaireau in French, which is slang for, well, an asshole. France also has this rather ridiculous, and very obligatory law that forces every bottle of alcohol to sport a barred out pregnant woman in an effort to instruct them to not drink during those nine months.

With no accompanying text and often less than half an inch in size (proving the pregnant stomach very hard to spot), there is a long running joke amongst vignerons that the logo basically looks like the government telling us that women are not allowed to drink. Highlighting this absurdity, Maisons Brûlées recently spoofed this with their Dernier Née cuvée, making the barred out pregnant woman the actual label.

Virginie Maignien and Patrice Lescarret, proprietors of Causse Marines, don't like assholes or the stupid barred pregnant lady logo, so they created their own logo: a barred blaireau, aka badger, aka asshole.

Sorry assholes: this wine's not for you...

Anyhow, if you want the details on the history of the estate, I recommend reading Causse Marines' profile and Virginie's in-depth interview. In this recap we'll be focusing on the vines. And dog pics.

On a hot July day, we set off to visit the entirety of Causse Marine's holdings.

Today, the vines are all within walking distance of the house. But when Patrice bought the farm in 1993, he had 10h spread all over the place.

eFor years, I was playing monopoly, buying pieces of land I didn't want to later exchange with ones I did.i

The first parcel we visited is a mix of Mauzac planted in 1928 and Muscadelle planted in 1932.

A large part of this plot is being torn out to replant Mauzac in massale.

Further down, we spotted some Mauzac from the 50es as well as old Prunelard.

Right around here, Patrice recently replanted some Verdanel, yet another indigenous grape no one has ever heard of.

"Before re-planting, Plageoles was the only one to have any!"

Causse Marine's soils are all clay and limestone, though different parts vary in their amount of limestone and rock, which at times can get very chunky.

We visited a lot of vineyards along the way, some of which weren't photographed. Amongst them, old vine Duras that produces Rasdu or Du rat des Paquerettes, Petit Manseng planted in 98, Chenin Blanc planted from Mark Angeli and Huet's massale trimmings (specifically from the Le Bourg parcel), an isolated clos of low yielding Muscadelle that are great for noble rot and, last but not least:

At 0.8 h of Ondenc, you are now laying eyes on the biggest Ondenc parcel IN THE WORLD. If you've never heard of Ondenc, and who can blame you, check out all the synonyms for the grape: Austenq, Béquin, Bergeracois, Blanc de Gaillac, Blanc Select, Blanc Selection Carrière, Blanquette, Blanquette Sucrée, Chaloche, Chalosse, Cu de Brecherou, Doudant Blanc, Doundent, Dourec, Dourech, Fronsadais, Gaillac, Irvine's White, Mauzac, Œil de Tour, Ondain, Ondainc, Ondent, Ondin, Oundenc, Oundenq, Oustenc, Oustenq, Oustenque, Piquepout de Moissac, Plant de Gaillac, Prendiou, Prentiou, Primai, Primaic, Primard, Printiou, Riverain, Sable Blanc, Semis Blanc, Sencit Blanc, Sensit Blanc, and Sercial.

Thanks Wikipedia!

Ok, time for some cellar talk!

From listening to Patrice and Virginie in the cellar, their never-ending goal seems to be the quest for freshness. Both acknowledge that they live in a hot place, and that picking earlier for whites and extracting less for reds have, after years of trial and error, yielded increasingly satisfying results. The cellar remains as experimental as ever, as we tasted skin macerated Mauzac, single varietal vinifications of Duras, Ondenc an absolutely delicious Syrah based Causse Toujours.

After all that tasting, it was time to relax on the hammoc with Tito the dog and Virginie and Patrice's adorable son Abel.

Everything was going great, but a slight disagreement with Abel about the French dubbing of Kung Fu Panda 2 quickly turned ugly:

While I was rushed to the hospital, Kevin and Denyse got to try some old dessert wines from the Causse:

Kevin also got to spend some quality time with Tito.

<![CDATA[Sicily MADNESS!!!!!!! Amazing I Vignieri Video and THREE Occhipinti Harvest Reports!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/3/4/316/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2016/3/4/316/ Fri, 04 Mar 2016 28:39:17 GMT

Forgive our lack of updates, shit's been crazy over here.

Anyhow, watch this amazing video of the traditional Palmento vinifications in Etna!

And guess who sent us not one but THREE harvest reports!

Arianna's 2015!!!!!

Arianna's 2014!!!!!

Arianna's 2013!!!!!

Louis/Dressner Selections: We've Got Internet Contentu]]>
<![CDATA[New Batch of 2015 Harvest Reports from Aganum, Bellivière and Domaine de Bongran!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/12/30/315/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/12/30/315/ Wed, 30 Dec 2015 22:43:15 GMT

A few pics of Agnanum!

A short and sweet recap from Domaine de Bongran and Domaine de Roally!

An incredibly in depth recap from the ever philosophical Eric Nicholas of Domaine de Bellivière!!!]]>
<![CDATA[New Estate: Chuteau Combel-la-Serre in Cornou!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/12/22/314/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/12/22/314/ Tue, 22 Dec 2015 5:07:45 GMT

Cahors. We'll be the first to admit the region doesn't exactly scream "exciting natural wine". For most, Cahors equals rustic, tannic and structured offerings meant to cellar and age for decades. So when we got an email from a friend of Matthieu Baudry asking us if we'd be interested in his wines, we were expecting either hipster carbonic glou-glou or super structured, dark as night teeth stainers.

What we got instead was something delightfully in between. Lo and behold, something's been bubbling in the village of St-Vincent-Rive-d`Olt, more specifically in the hamlet of Cornou!

This is Julien Ilbert, the proprietor of Combel-la-Serre:

We'd never met Julien, and other than immediately co-signing his excellent taste in T-shirts, didn't really know what to expect when showing up at his doorstep. That's because the Combel la Serre story has been steadily evolving over the last 17 years.

Vines have been in the Ilbert family for a very long time, but always as part of a larger poly-cultural whole. Before Julien took over in 1998, his father Jean-Pierre owned 40 hectares of cereals, 25 hectares of vines and 22 cows for meat and dairy. The grapes all went to the local cave coopérative. And right up to his retirement, Jean-Pierre worked the entirety of his land by himself, never hiring an employee. Think about that the next time you're complaining about your shitty day at work...

Before I give you any more Combel-la-Serre history, here's a picture of their dog UV to break up all this text:


In 1998, Julien split from the cave coopérative in hopes of starting his own estate. But a chance meeting with Matthieu Cosse at a rugby match (check Julien's shirt, he's an avid fan and player) quickly led to a commercial partnership. For seven years, Julien sold the majority of his grapes to Matthieu, making a small amount of uncommercialized wine on the side.

In 2005, the two split amicably and Julien reset his sights on independent production. A decade later, he finally feels that all the hard work in the vines and cellar has really begun to pay off and is ready to share the (literal) fruits of his labor outside of France!

We began our vineyard tour with the parcel that produces:

Such a sweet label. For those who are French readers/and or hip to natural wine slang, you will have seen both the word CARBO and the term "vin de soif" on this label and will therefore say: "Hey, I thought you said these wines weren't carbonic!" Well, I LIED. But not really, because this is the only carbonic wine Julien makes, and its represents a tiny part of his production.

The wine is called La Vigne Derière chez Carbo, and besides the obvious reference to vinification, is actually right behind the house of a certain Monsieur Carbonier! Well played, Julien. Well played.

The 1.3h of vines are planted in red clay and are 25 to 30 years old. The northern exposition makes this parcel the coolest Julien works. It's also the only Combel parcel where you can find a ton of galets roulées all over the vineyard:

"These characteristics give the wine an unprecedented freshness and playful fruit, which is why I've chosen to make a carbonic wine here."

Next, we visited young vines planted in Vermentino.

Vermentino is not typical for the region, but Julien planted 1 hectare because he loves the grape and wanted to break out from the Sauvignon and Viognier mold typically produced in this part of the South-West. He also thinks the vines will react well to the soils, as they are heavy in limestone:

Next, we visited a lieu-dit called Peyre Levade, which means "standing stone" in Occitan.

These are the most limestone heavy soils Julien works.

We ended our vineyard run the the Lac-aux-Cochons, aka "Pig Lake".

Not much of a curveball, but this parcel produces:

Also a sweet label. Here is the famous Pig Lake!

Ok, I know it's not that exciting. At least I tried!

Pig Lake is 2 hectares of Julien's oldest vines, most of them clocking around 90. The limestone subsoils here really fuel the grapes with minerality, and he considers it to be his best parcel.

After all that vineyard hopping, it was time to check out the cellar. And who else was there to greet us but barrel man!

Barrel man was built in 1948 by the village barrel maker.

The cellar is mostly large concrete tanks and oak barrels, though Julien occasionally uses stainless steel and fiberglass for certain vinifications.

If you want to read up on the wines, go check out the Chuteau Combel-la-Serre profile here.

It was lunch time, and Julien and his lovely wife Sophie cooked us an incredible meal of local delicacies, which of course involved foie gras and a ton of black truffles. At the table, Julien started opening a lot of great bottles, confirming that he's just as passionate about drinking wine as making it. At first, he even refused to have his wines at the table!

"At my house, we drink the wines of others at the table. I'm around my wines everyday, and there is so much amazing stuff out there. It would be a shame drinking the same thing every day!"

Still, he realized we were familiarizing ourselves with his cuvées and made an exception by letting us re-taste them alongside the food.

But next time, we're cracking open some Ganevat! And Baudry! And Egly-Ouriet!]]>
<![CDATA[René-Jean Dard of Dard & Ribo Interview!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/19/313/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/19/313/ Thu, 19 Nov 2015 26:21:29 GMT
photo via Wine Terroirs.

"Ieve been making sulfur-free wines since I was 15. I didnet even know you could add sulfur to wine until going to oenology school! "You have to", they said! My dad never sulfured the wines and I basically just followed in his footsteps."

"The truth is that sulfur is the vignerones sleeping aid: you put that in the bottle and everything stays put! Us on the other hand, ites constant sleepless nights! But ites the risk you take."

René-Jean Dard is a very elusive man. In fact, we've just blessed the internet with his only interview.

Read it here!!!]]>
<![CDATA[Some More 2015 Harvest Reports from Les Vins Contés, François Cazin and Jean Manciat!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/12/312/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/12/312/ Thu, 12 Nov 2015 26:00:13 GMT

Le Lemasson harvest team remains the most, um, interesting bunch in the game.

Les Vins Contés!

François Cazin!

Jean Manciat!

<![CDATA[New Visit: Domaine du Possible in Lansac!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/2/311/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/11/2/311/ Mon, 02 Nov 2015 14:41:08 GMT

Recognize these distinctive, colorful labels?

Well, if you drive up a certain long, winding road through the mountains of the Roussillon, you just may find yourself in Jajakistan, the magical land of their provenance.

Don't bother googling it: this fictional territory is actually Domaine du Possible proprietor Loïc Roure's playful nickname for the tiny village of Lansac.

"My friend came up with the name. Lansac really feels like a tiny, forgotten world. It is also very barren and dry, which inspired the fictional middle-eastern name."

We'd arrived just a few days after the big music festival Loïc has been organizing for almost a decade. From looking around his cellar, it becomes evident that art and music are a huge part of his life:

Notice that the colors on his walls match the labels on his wines?

We began our visit tasting through Loïc's 2014's. At the risk of sounding like a huge schnook, this feels like his breakthrough vintage to me. Yes, the conditions of 2014 were favorable and overall have produced excellent wines throughout France. But it's also been over 10 years since Loïc embarked on this his vinous adventures: the work in the vines and experience in the cellar are really starting show in the wine.

After our tasting, we drove almost half an hour to vines that border the Corbières appellation.

This vineyard consists of 100+ year old Carignan (actually from 1905!) planted on decomposed gneiss.

Currently, Loïc works 1.8 hectares here, though he plans to plant an additional 2.5 over the next two years. He's not sure what grapes he'll want to plant, but believes this land will lend itself well to a Syrah rosé.

From the old Carignan, we hopped back in the van and drove to the breathtaking vineyard that produces Coum Acò.

Oh yeah, Jorge was there!

The vines here are all Syrah, extremely shriveled and very low yielding:

Look at how small those bunches are! The soils consist of gorgeous schist:

Directly across from the Coum Acò vineyard, Loïc pointed out another plot planted in Maccabeu, Grenache Gris and Carignan Noir.

The final parcel we visited was yet another long drive (almost 20 minutes) to see the Grenaches that produce C'est Pas La Mer a Boire.

This area consists of 1 hectare planted in 1966. The constant winds and surrounding panorama make this Loïc's favorite parcel to work.

After that, big surprise: we ate a delicious lunch and hung out for a while.]]>
<![CDATA[Harvest Reports from Domaine Desvignes, A la Vôtre! and Altura!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/10/24/310/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/10/24/310/ Sat, 24 Oct 2015 25:27:41 GMT

2015 is looking good my friends!

Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes!

A la Vôtre!


<![CDATA[Harvest Reports from Eric Texier, Maison Pierre Overnoy, Chateau D'Oupia and Alice et Olivier De Moor!!!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/10/2/308/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/10/2/308/ Fri, 02 Oct 2015 25:14:38 GMT

Eric Texier!!!

Maison Pierre Overnoy!!!

Chuteau d'Oupia!!!

Alice et Olivier De Moor!!!]]>
<![CDATA[Sylvie Esmonin Interview!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/24/307/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/24/307/ Thu, 24 Sep 2015 27:57:46 GMT
photo source: Justerinis

"The other parallel I draw to Bordeaux (in Burgundy) is the fact that estates are getting bigger and more disconnected with the land and even the very essence of being a vigneron. Youeve got people hired to work the vines, people hired to work in the cellar, to sell the wines, etc... Where is the vigneron who knows how to do it all, and even if he isnet isnet the best in one task he makes up for it with another? In the end, he may not be perfect at every task, but the wine you taste will be unique for those very reasons! Youell taste the vigneron's character in the wines."

Sylvie Esmonin is not someone who puts herself in the limelight, but if you get the chance to talk to her you'll quickly learn that she is an incredibly sharp, talented and fascinating woman with great insight and opinions. One of my favorite interviews ever.

Go read it!!!

<![CDATA[It's That Time of the Year: 2015 Harvest Reports!!!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/17/306/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/17/306/ Thu, 17 Sep 2015 26:27:04 GMT

Best harvest video of all time? Duh!

Get hyped on 2015 by reading up on:

Fabbrica di San Martino!!!

Franco Noussan!!!

Francis Boulard et Fille!!!
<![CDATA[New Visit: Julie Balagny in Romanèche-Thorins!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/2/305/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/9/2/305/ Wed, 02 Sep 2015 26:33:46 GMT

This visit with Julie Balagny took place in August, 2015.

Words and photos by Jules Dresssner.

Julie Balagny has a new house!

And a new cellar!

There is no temperature control in here, but there is foosball:

More importantly, she was able to transfer her beautiful old manual press and concrete tanks from the previous space she was renting.

In what used to be a stable, a small enclave is reserved for Julie's barrel aging.

This is for the 100+ year old vines only.

For some reason, Julie has a 3 month old sheep called George living in her backyard.

George thinks he's a dog. More on that later.

On a totally unrelated note, did you know that for some reason, Converse sneakers apparently don't have the trademarku Red-Stripe® in Europe? And cost like 60 euro? That's why I bring all our vignerons mint pairs upon request:

After checking out the new house and bribing Julie with shoes, we sat down to drink taste the 2014 Chavot.

Loving that label. Plus it was going down like Grenadine.

Oh wait, that's actually Grenadine...

Hey, at least it's organic... Ok, ok, this is what Chavot actually looks like:

Chavot, for those who have been following Juliees past releases, is a blend of 30 year old vines on basalt that occasionally produce Cayenne and 40-70 year old vines on decomposed and solid granite that occasionally produce En Simone. For a reminder of what Julie's magnificent Fleurie parcel looks like, reread my recap from three years ago.

The wine needed a moment to open up, but when it did it had deep and subtle berry tones on the nose and palate, with spicy structure and a long finish. It was so good it made Zaggy get the crazy eyes.

Chavot is named after the village drunk, Bruno Chavot. He would always be hammered and making a fool of himself, so it became insider slang to use his last name as a verb after a big night of drinking.

"You were so Chavot last night"

"I love getting Chavoed while tailgating at the Giants game."

For the record, no one at LDM wines has ever been to a tailgate. EVER. Also, Bruno Chavot just moved back in with his mom at 55 years old.

Moving on...

The big news for Julie is that she has acquired an hectare of 40 year old AOC Beaujolais between Fleurie and Bornard, as well as 70 ares of Moulin-a-Vent! And we visited both!

We started at the Moulin-à-Vent parcel.

As you can see, it's quite steep. The soils here are decomposed granite with fat chunks to go around as well:

The vines here are pretty old, all over 50:

A North-West exposition and constant winds are, according to Julie, favorable to elegant, fresh wines. Though she is surrounded by conventional farming, the parcel borders a large ravine so it's not too bad for second hand chemical residue.

France went through a serious heat wave in 2015. Check out how dried all of this looks:

By now, we know that after almost three months of no rain, August showers saved the day for most of France. OUUFF!

Next we visited the Beaujolais parcel:

The hill you can spot in the back is Juliénas. The soil here consists of clay, pebbles and sand. As we walked around, Julie started ripping out these big plants from the ground:

eWhen you stop using herbicides, the plants that inevitably come back are erigerons and morelle noire."

They two plants are hyper-invasive because they produce a ton of seeds.

Upon returning to the vines, we sat down to drink taste a Cayenne 2013, a wine that never made it stateside. All of a sudden, George decided to show up!

I guess George thinks he's a dog, because started sniffing all the other dogs' butts (as dogs do) and playing with them.

Our dog Zaggy is terrified of everything, including sheep. She scurried away into the house while Denyse distracted George and Harrison.

When we sat down to finish the wine, George came under the table with the rest of the gang.]]>
<![CDATA[Old Stuff from the Cellar 2015: Volume 2!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/8/24/304/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/8/24/304/ Mon, 24 Aug 2015 23:49:35 GMT Agnès et René Mosse Anjou Rouge 2000:

Check those old labels! Upon opening, a bit of a metallic nose but great, dusty fruit that made me feel the blend was more Cabernet Franc heavy. The finish was rather short and the wine was not too tannic. Quite nice.

Luneau-Papin le L D'Or 1998:

I didn't find my notes for this but we finished it at lunch and I remember it being fresh and good.

François Pinon Cuvée Tradition 1998:

This was before François started making the 3 Argiles and Silex Noir cuvées, so the wine is a blend of both terroirs. Youthful color, good structure, a hint of sugar and distinct Chenin fruit. Drinking well.

Claude et Catherine Maréchal Chorey-les-Beaunes 1999:

Tasting stunningly young. Light body and captivating fruit; I would DARE to call it glou-glou. Light tannins, balanced acidity.

Bernard Baudry Les Grézeaux 2005:

A lot of the people at the table thought the wine was "hard, but I really liked it. 2005 was a very hot, solar vintage. The wine certainly wasn't fruity, though I liked its rustic charm and structure. The green pepper became more pronounced halfway through the bottle. Personally I think the wine needs more time to age.

Also, here's a picture of a comically large Saint-Nectaire we enjoyed at the lunch with the Baudry.

The 97 Pépière in the back was corked...

<![CDATA[The Many Dogs of LDM Travels, Part 1.]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/8/19/303/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/8/19/303/ Wed, 19 Aug 2015 22:29:05 GMT


If you've been following Louis/Dressner Selections for a while then you know we're kind of obsessed with dogs. It all started from the pooch pictured above, Buster. Buster was the best, so much so that rare, revered one off cuvées are named after him!

"The Many Dogs of LDM Travels" will be an off and on series, and is basically an excuse for me to streamline content so that Denyse Louis and our office manager Sheila don't have to skip though all the vineyard pictures and boring terroir talk of my blog posts to get straight to the good stuff: DOGS!

Here is Andrea Zafei of Cerreto Libri's dog Porcupine. She enjoys long runs through the vines and homemade lasagna.

Elena Pantaleoni's magnificent dog Rocco was once shot by a local for trespassing. How many dogs do you know with such a high CUTE to GOT SHOT ratio? You can even see the gunshot wound on his chest!

Baxter over here lives at a lovely bed and breakfast somewhere in Emilia-Romagna. If you don't feed him at the breakfast table, he makes this face:

This sneaky lil' fella was abandoned before the Bera family found him and his twin sister in a shoe box. Those people are assholes!

This is my neighbor Megan's dog Reilly. She is pint sized and very hard to capture photographically cause she's always moving a mile a minute. But I snapped a good one of her!

Stay tuned. So many more dog pics...]]>
<![CDATA[It's Back! Old Stuff from the Cellar!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/7/25/302/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/7/25/302/ Sat, 25 Jul 2015 21:05:12 GMT

How do some old favorites hold up? Let's find out!

Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune 1996:
This was opened at least two years ago, and was tucked back in the corner of the kitchen. Only a glass was left. I remember it being delicious two years ago, but it was overly oxidized and not showing great.

Pouchoullin Brézème Rouge 1997:
For those who aren't Eric Texier historians, Mr Pouchoulin was his inspiration for reviving the completely forgotten region. Mr. Pouchoulin was a factory worker, but had always kept an hectare of red and a little of bit of Roussane that he vinified traditionally himself. Eric somehow discovered him, was mesmerized by the wines and place and decided he had to work there.

A slightly dusty and musky nose at first, followed by pepper spice and balance on nose. Translucent but developed color. Medium body, nice acidity that lasts on finish. Pepper on mid-palate. Overall a fantastic bottle that kept getting better. Decanted an hour and half before drinking.

Franck Peillot Roussette du Bugey Altesse 2001:

Golden, advanced color without notes of obvious oxidation. Petrol on nose, which apparently Franck doesn't like but I found nice. Also Peach pit (God I hate writing about wine like this..). Rich, round body, slight petrol on mid-palate, great acidity and long, long finish. Another winner.

2004 Roilette Cuvée Tardive 2004:

Bottle was a Tardive even though the label doesn't mention it. This was pretty closed off when Alain opened it in his cellar, but got real good quick. The Roilette wines get a little dusty with age, particularly on the nose, but once the fruit came out it was unstoppable. Brownish color:

Total "pinotisation". Yum.]]>
<![CDATA[Summer Hiatus.]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/6/15/301/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/6/15/301/ Mon, 15 Jun 2015 20:06:29 GMT Have A Great Summer

For the first time in the three and a half years since our new site launched, I am taking a summer hiatus from writing the blog. While there may be sporadic posts here and there (at this point I've forgotten what NOT writing here feels like), they will be inconsistent at best.

The good news is that this extended break will only mean an accumulation of new interviews and visits, but also time for us to reflect on new forms of content for the producers we (and hopefully you!) love. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for our grand entrance into a popular form of digital expression we've been mysteriously absent of for so long...

Have a great summer everybody!]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Les Maisons Brûlées in Pouillé!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/21/300/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/21/300/ Thu, 21 May 2015 27:47:46 GMT

When I harvested at Clos Roche Blanche back in October, I got to hang out and get to know Les Maisons Brûlées' new proprietors, Paul and Corinne Gillet. As it turns out, they are super cool. This recap will confirm that.

We began our visit with Paul giving us an introduction of the estate. 8 hectares of vines are co-planted with nine varietals: Gamay and Sauvignon Blanc represent about 50% of the plantings, but Chardonnay, Menu Pineau, Pinot noir, Pineau d'Aunis, Côt, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are also grown. The soils are clay and flint topsoils with limestone subsoils. Most of the vines are right around the house, on the hillsides of the Cher valley. Another 2.5 ha are on a lower plateaux. The hillsides are some of the best terroirs in the area as they are on mother rock and have great exposition.

Paul and Corinne took over the estate in 2013 from Michel Augé, a pioneer of organic and biodynamic viticulture in the area. Biodiversity in the vineyard was his life's work; Michel used to have a lot more vines, but realized that ones closest to his house had almost no neighboring vines and were surrounded by woods, meaning no chemical overlap and a better environment for biodiversity.

After walking past some 55 year old Gamay and Pineau d' Aunis, you reach the plateau at the bottom of the hill.

The area was mostly pruned, although Paul left several plants untouched in order to practice selection massale and replace dead vines. As you can see from some of the pictures, the area is surrounded by woods, which helps enormously with microbial biodiversity, encouraging the right bacteria to grow into the root systems.

Michel had planted a little bit of Gamay and Sauvignon here in franc de pied. This was an experiment. The vines are about ten years old, so the next few years will be integral in seeing if it works out on this type of soil, since it's usually around 10 years of age that vines begin to experience issues with phylloxera.

From the plateau, we started walking over to the Herdeleau coteau. But before that, we had to say hello to Paul's horse Danseur!

Am I the only one that feels like his mane is dyed like an 80's heavy metal bro?

Keep in mind he's not even three yet and this is what he looked like when he was born:

They grow up so fast.

Anyway, we then found ourselves on the beautiful Herdeleau coteau!

Depending where you are on the hill, you get closer or further from calcareous sub soil. On the hillsides the soils are fairly poor, which is why vineyards have been planted here for centuries, as nothing else would grow on them. Old Pinot noir, Pinot d'Aunis and Gamay are grown here and produce the R2L'O cuvée, as well Côt and Cabernet Franc that produce Érèbe.

We then walked back to the vinification cellar, which is tiny. Check out that sweet caricature of Paul done last year at
Vini Circus.

Here we tasted 2014 R2L'O which was INSANE, some Sauvignon and an orange wine experiment called Ça Me Plait:

About ten kilometers away, Paul barrel ages his wines and stores his bottles in this gorgeous quarry:

Tuffeau limestone from this quarry helped build much of the local landscape in the 19th century, then became a mushroom growing space in the 1930's. The quarry is HUGE, and goes on for about 5 kilometers! Paul and Corinne only use the front of it, but technically rent the entire thing. Paul offered us a tour through this veritable labyrinth, but warned there was no light and we'd need to use our phones to get around.

Fascinatingly, many archives of the mushroom's growing schedules are still painted and pencilled on the walls:

Perfect setting for a horror movie.

It was time to taste bottled wines and eat lunch. We started with Alterité, a pet nat made with Cabernet Sauvignon.

For those of you who are fans of the estate from the Michel Augé days, here's a glimpse of the new Maisons Brûlées labels:

Corinne had set up a beautiful long table for us to taste and eat.

Along with grilled sausages, potato and lentil salads, the group was sated with one of the biggest bowls of rillettes I've ever seen.

And let's not forget the biggest cheese OF ALL TIME.

]]> <![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Agnès et René Mosse in St-Lambert-du-Lattay!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/5/299/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/5/5/299/ Tue, 05 May 2015 23:57:17 GMT

Upon arrival to Mosse headquarters, we kind of freaked out these two journalists who were there to write a piece about the estate.

After a big hello with Agnès and René, their son Joseph took us out to the vineyards.

Joseph is the young man on the left of the picture above. He's 25, had just returned from working with Louis-Antoine Luyt for a year, is obsessed with sneakers and is poised to take over when his parents retire.

When we told him that my car had gotten obsessed with "Fresh Prince" by Soprano (click that hyperlink if you're a fan of the Will Smith sitcom. Totally worth it), he told us that that song was terrible commercial rap and played us something really good that I forgot. Though it was reminiscent to one of my favorite french rap songs of all time, "La Rue Cause" by Karlito (RIP DJ Medhi).

The Mosse family doesn't have any dogs, so here is a picture of one of their chickens.

The first vineyard we visited was a parcel of 10 year old vines that contributes to the production of the base Anjou Blanc.

Joseph explained that the majority of the region is defined by clay topsoil with schist subsoils, with the amount of topsoil schist composition (chunks, pebbles, sand) varying on where you are on the hillsides. There are lots of grains grown in the area as well as a fair amount of cattle raising. For the young vines, they do a very short pruning in order to limit yields from the get go. This helps to avoid having to green harvest later in the year.

All of the Mosse's vineyards are located in the Coteaux-du-Layon, an area defined by the abundant hillsides that curve and bend alongside the Layon river. The hills help induce humidity in the morning but also make for very warm afternoons; this helps botrytis thrive, which explains why the area has historically produces sweet wines from noble rot.

From the young parcel, we drove to Le Rouchefer, a parcel that sees its own cuvée.

Le Rouchefer is a 1.6 hectare parcel of 40 year old Chenin Blanc grown on iron heavy clay and gravel on schist, with pebbles and quartz at bottom. As you can see from the photo below, large chunks of schist are easily found on the top-soil.

Directly across the road from the Le Rouchefer, one finds the lovely Marie Besnard vineyard.

These crazy vines are over 100 years old!!!

René briefly made a Marie Besnard cuvée, but the vines have become so low yielding that he now blends them with Le Rouchefer. Also, for reasons unknown to Joseph, the vineyard is named after Marie Besnard, a local woman accused of poisoning 12 people from 1927 to 1949. If you're curious about her, you can get an in-depth bio on her murderpedia page.

The final vineyard we visited was Les Bonnes Blanches, from an area widely considered to be the best terroir in the Layon.

As you can see, this was the only vineyard the Mosse hadn't yet pruned.

The reasons why this is considered the best is two-fold: first is its geologically ideal proximity to the Layon. This is one of the rare vineyards that can produce an excellent Coteaux-du-Layon every year, but the Mosse intentionally harvest earlier to produce dry whites. The second is that the soils are composed of shallow decomposing schist and quartz on schist rock, so the roots of the vineyards' 40 year old vines can get exceptionally deep, providing an unparalleled amount of minerality in the wine.

After a solid vineyard tour, we got to taste all the 2014 barrel samples as well as some yet to be released 2013's (many of which have now hit the market).

Everything is smack dab delicious, including a CURVEBALL TWIST with the 2014 Magic of Juju, which is now 90% Melon de Bourgogne (WAAAAA????)!!!

More importantly, we ate the ultimate casse-croute lunch thanks to this butcher:

In that pot were some fantastic rillettes. But the ham, rillons, cheese and butter were nothing to scoff at!

So simple. So hearty. So good.

After lunch, we checked out the cellar.

The entirety of the Mosse production ferments and ages in old oak barrels, often for a really long time. Malo is a prerequisite on the whites, and often happens on the reds as well. The extended lees contact on the whites gives it a weight and unctuousness that take the wines to the next level. Also, René leaves a radio on 24/7/365 so that the barrels can listen to music at all times.

As we set up to say goodbye, the whole thing got very hug-centric:

<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Thomas-Labaille in Chavignol!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/27/298/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/27/298/ Mon, 27 Apr 2015 27:59:07 GMT

RIP to Buster, the best dog ever.

If Louis/Dressner Selections was a band with a greatest hits album, Thomas-Labaille's Cuvée Buster would probably be Track 3.

We didn't have much of a sunlight window, so after a big group greeting with Jean-Paul Labaille, we headed straight to Sancerre's best and most terryfying vineyard, Les Monts Damnés.

Before getting into any details about Les Monts Damnés, we need to talk about Jean Paul's jacket. It is without a doubt the freshest jacket ever worn by a human being. And if its insane color combinations weren't enough, the brand's "manifesto" on the back is all the proof you need:

That is the best testimony for the life itself. Fact.

If you've never met Jean-Paul, the act of so effortlessly pulling off this jacket should cue you in to his extremely confident nature. Because let's face it; that shit is hard to pull off.

Ok, so have you seen or heard of this Mont Damnés vineyard? It's shockingly steep!

Monts Damnés is within the commune of Chavignol, and faces full South. About 80% of the vineyards in Chavignol are planted on steep hillsides, and are intentionally planted with grass to avoid erosion. Monts Damnés is the most extreme example of this steepness. Along with a majority of Sauvignon Blanc, a little bit of Pinot is planted on the hill's red clay. Due to the steepness of the hill, everything is done either by hand or with a mechanized hand-tiller that is still a ton of work. When they prune the vines, they leave the cuttings on the ground in order to create a natural fertilizer.

From Les Monts Damnés, we headed over to a vineyard called Cul du Beaujau.

Jean-Paul doesn't own this vineyard, but considers it one of the best views of Chavignol (which you can easily spot in the above pictures' backgrounds) and an apt contrast between the village's Southern and Northern hills, with the latter pictured below.

Of course, there's two sides to every story, so we then drove to the northern vineyards to check those out.

Here's a good pic of the view of the southern vineyards:

The sun was setting, so we decided to head to the cellar.

When you enter the relatively new Thomas-Labaille cellar (the facility is barely three years old), you immediately bear witness to this glorious work of art:

Some things you can't un-see...

Still, if you don't at the very least find this painting amusing, I don't know if we can ever be friends. I can only imagine the reaction of prudish tourists visiting the winery for the first time! Kudos to Jean-Paul for owning the boldest jacket AND self portrait IN THE UNIVERSE.

It was time to taste the 2014's!

The vast majority of Jean-Paul's production ferments and ages in these fiberglass tanks:

"They're not the most beautiful things in the world, but they get the job done!"

As with the rest of the Loire in 2014, everything was showing really well. Unsurprisingly, the highlights were the barrels of Monts Damnés, particularly the Cuvée Buster from a single barrel from Jean-Paul's best parcel of old vines within the "damned hill".

Someone spotted and decided to photograph this inspirational calendar:

After tasting the 2014 juices, we were treated to a truly next-level tasting of back vintages.

Jean-Paul pulled out all the stops. We tasted 12, 08, 06 and 01 Monts Damnés, 97, 96 88 and 85 Sancerre (later renamed L' Authentique), as well as a 99 and 97 Cuvée Buster. 1997 was the first ever Cuvée Buster, so this was an especially special bottle to try.

If having such an amazing tasting wasn't enough, Jean-Paul's wife Laurence prepared us a true feast that was one of the best meals of the trip!

Look at the size of that cheese plate!!!

When I complemented Laurence after the meal, she told me:

"It's easy. I'm used to it."

Oh my god can she cook! Jean-Paul was in a really good mood, and ended the night with 85 Mirabelle marc and 83 grape marc that happened to be kicking around.

Man that was a fun night.]]>
<![CDATA[Winter Bonanza 2015: Domaine Fernand Girard in Chaudoux!]]> http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/16/297/ http://louisdressner.com/date/2015/4/16/297/ Thu, 16 Apr 2015 27:57:36 GMT

Someway somehow, I'd never visited Alain and Fernand Girard. I'm not really sure why; we've been working with them so long that they definitely fall into the "We are going to drag 5 year old Jules and 3 year old Alyce all around France and bore them to death by visiting vignerons for two weeks straight." era of Louis/Dressner Selections. You see, there was a time when Joe and Denyse would spend their entire summers in France visiting growers. And because we were too young to stay at the house by ourselves, that meant we were obligatorily included in these insanely boring road trips. Plus French TV in the summer only played reruns of MacGyver and Knight Rider (aka K-2000)!

So yeah, I wasn't the biggest fan of summer vacation growing up...

But I'm not here to bore you with the past. I'm here to write about WINE STUFF.

Before heading to the vines, Alain Girard gave us a quick introduction to the estate. He took over from his father Fernand about 20 years ago, and is the fifth generation working his land. Here's a great picture from that era:

14 hectares of vines are spread over five communes with three distinct terroirs: gravely soils, flint and heavy clay.

We began the visit checking out the flint soils of Saint-Satur:

This next picture isn't really necessary, but I like how it highlights my R698 EVO's:

Louis/Dressner Selections: We Wear Nice Sneakersu

Alain explained that these soils have much later maturities than the others, bringing roundness and tension to the final blend.

Next up, the caillottes, or gravely soils:

The caillottes were formed millions of years ago when the land the vines grow on was an ocean. This terroir brings fruit to the blend.

Last but not least, we visited the beautiful coteaux of Verdigny to check the grosses terres, or heavy clay:

Back in the nineties, the village of Verdigny decided to completely redo this hillside in order to make larger, more regular plots with better drainage. This was done to avoid flooding of the town on the bottom of the hillside (which you can spot in the pics). Prior to this change, many owners had micro-parcels all over the hillsides like in Burgundy. But in order to make this restructuring work, vignerons had to exchange parcels so that their land was more coherent.

After a lovely tour of the vineyards, we got to check out the cellar. As it is so happened, a shipment was on its way to our NY/NJ/PA distributor David Bowler wines!

We began by tasting from many pre-blended 2014 tanks. Alain co-vinifies parcels with similar characteristics in stainless steel vats:

That's right: Alain owns a parcel called "piss pot".

2014 was a tough year due to a very rainy summer. Fortunately, an Indian summer in the fall saved the crop, and the wines have proven very satisfactory.

While tasting these distinct, unblended terroirs, I asked Alain's father Fernand if he'd ever considered making single vineyard or terroir driven cuvées.


- Why not?

- The blend is nice.

-But you never felt some parcels could make a great single vineyard wine?

- I like the blend.

- Have you ever been to the US?


- Have you ever wanted to visit?


Fernand Girard: a man of conviction. A man of few words.

We also got to do a fun flight of Sancerre from the last decade:

As well as this special treat:

Before leaving, we had to pet Alain's girlfriend's dog Gypsy.