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Organic Champagne Focus: Introducing Lelarge-Pugeot

As much as we love Champagne, we know that the region produces way too much lackluster fizz.  One of the main reasons is that the area’s many growers are actually incentivized to bolster yields through chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Champagne probably has more underachieving, over-compensated vignerons than anywhere else in France.  Fortunately, this bleak status quo is being challenged by a growing cadre of grower- producers, who strive to grow the best possible Champagnes through organic and biodynamic viticultural practices.  Of course working without an arsenal of modern sprays and treatments in the damp, chilly confines of Champagne takes plenty of  courage and know-how. A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting Clemence Lelarge whose father Dominique is one of these brave “natural” grape growers. Clemence, who is barely old enough to legally drink wine, is the 8th generation of her family to work in the Champagne business.  Since the 18th Century, the Lelarge family has developed a profound attachment to the local soil and, to use her words, “...the beautiful work of growing grapes.”  Today, the family controls just over 20 acres of vineyards, mainly located around the Premier Cru village of Vrigny along with some plots in Gueux and Coulommes-La-Montagne. Pinot Meunier is the dominant grape here and Vrigny provides an excellent basis for this underrated variety. Vinification is a mixture of enameled steel tanks and wood.  These Lelarge-Pugeot Champagnes have a certain gravitas and authenticity that makes them a cut above their big brand competition while being priced way less.

 

LELARGE-PUGEOT BRUT TRADITION

A blend of 65% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, and 15% Chardonnay from the 2009 vintage with an additional dollop of reserve wine from 2008. This cuvee was given three full years aging on the yeast which is about twice the time most other “entry-level” Champagnes get.  The following notes from Wine Enthusiast are right on the mark, “…The family’s non-vintage Champagne is soft, rounded and creamy.  It has fresh citrus and tangy orange zest fruits that are tight, crisp and with a direct line of acidity. It’s totally ready to drink.  89 Points.”  Here then, is very savvy choice for “drop in” entertaining scenarios.

$28.95 750ml [377899] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LELARGE-PUGEOT 2004 BRUT 1ER CRU “QUINTESSENCE”

While the Brut Tradition is the consummate “crowd pleaser”, the firm’s Quintessence will impress even the most jaded Champagne aficionados. Simply put this bottling is a true revelation that can go to toe with a host of tete-de-cuvee that sell for more than twice its modest price.    It’s a symphony of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier base wines that are all drawn from the best part (“Coeur de Cuvee”) of the press.  One half of the blend was “raised” in neutral oak barrels for six months.  After bottling this cuvee “rested” in the family’s cellars on the yeast for eight years.  Last December Wine Enthusiast published this rave:  “Made from 50-year-old vines, this is a fine wine with a steely minerality. Partial fermentation in oak casks gives it complexity without detracting from its elegant fruitiness. Floral notes and white and yellow fruits are balanced by a hint of toast.  It’s ready to drink now, but will improve of the next few years.  94 Points.”

$44.95 750ml [377336] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Spring in Vrigny - "Since 2010, we have decided to get back to the good old times and bring horses back to the winery to do the plowing. Hervé and his wonderful horses come work in our vineyard from March until October. The pros of the plowing are unquestionable, not displease those who cite only this approach to be folklore or a marketing tool! Even though, we would like to share with you, some of the unquestionable advantages of bringing horses back in vineyards: The horse is completely suitable for any type of elevation and old plots where it is difficult (and sometimes impossible) to do it with a tractor. You can’t argue with Mother Nature and the way she decided to elevate the soils… Horses prevent soil compaction and help to aerate the microbial life. So it stimulates the roots of the vines way deeper… Deep roots = Great wines. Our main goal is to give our wines a better and longer life. Finally, when Hervé comes with Ursulle and Samba (our favorite horses) it’s also a beautiful moment of conviviality and friendship but more importantly a beautiful communion between nature and human. And then, when the weather allows us, we get to share a Champagne picnic in the vineyard, and we surely love those!" - http://champagnelelarge-pugeot.tumblr.com/


Cult Burgundy
Natural Winemaker
Philippe Pacalet, Beaune

“We work without sulphites in vinification, no added yeasts and with whole grapes. This means we need grapes that are at their top, and for that we need a good job in the vineyards so we are able to succeed in our process.” -Philippe Pacalet

Philippe Pacalet is not your typical natural winemaker.  If you look at his shock of curly hair and at pictures of his employees treading on grapes you might say that he gives the appearance of one-- but beware, this is not a guy who can be pigeonholed. Pacalet is based out of downtown (if there is such a thing) Beaune. He does not own any vineyards – who can afford buying any vineyards in Burgundy these days? – but rents parcels from all over Burgundy. Lest you think that is not exactly the way a true terroirist makes wine, Pacalet would rather not be tied down to one specific site but have the freedom to explore the various climats to be found throughout the region. He learned how to do this well through one of his mentors, Jules Chauvet, who many consider to be the father of the natural wine movement.

The nephew of Marcel Lapierre, a revered Beaujolais producer and Chauvet compatriot, Pacalet was schooled to think of terroir first and foremost from a young age.  He worked with Chauvet for three years before the latter’s death in 1989. Between Lapierre, his uncle’s friend, the legendary Jacques Néauport and Chauvet, he built a solid foundation before crossing the border in 1991 to Domaine Prieuré-Roch in Burgundy.  Here, Pacalet was exposed to new perspectives, applied what he had learned about natural winemaking and deepened his knowledge of the different appellations in the Côtes de Nuits. Even though his family has been making wine since 1780, Pacalet was not fortunate enough to inherit property, which meant that in order to start his own label he would have to purchase a vineyard or buy fruit. By the time he was ready to set up shop, the price of land was off the charts so he made the decision to follow Chauvet’s path and rent vineyards that meet his extremely high standards. Despite not holding title to the fruit, Pacalet controls the way his grapes are farmed. No chemicals are used in the vineyards he rents. He also has his own team hand harvesting. They sort as they pick, looking for a perfect level of ripeness. In total, he works with nine hectares, just over 22 acres, in both the

Côtes de Nuits and Côtes de Beaune. - After harvest, the grapes are loaded into open top fermenters of different sizes. These vats are covered with a black plastic tarp to minimize the oxygen exposure and keep the CO2 in. The process of partial or complete carbonic maceration allows the wine to ferment and age without the addition of sulphur. For Pacalet, fermentation is the key as he believes:
- “A living soil has a good fermentation.”
- “Wine fermentation is wild yeast fermentation.”
- “A person who drinks our wine has a good fermentation too.”

After a couple of weeks, the grapes are transferred, via pitchfork, to the press. This is where the stomping begins. Pacalet also has a low-tech mechanical press that he uses for some wines. Using gravity and a rubber hose, the juice from both the initial maceration and press are transferred to older barrels where the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. The whites are aged on their lees. Pacalet does not rack or filter his wines. Before bottling, minimal sulphur is added. Starting in 2001, Pacalet worked out of three different facilities simultaneously before purchasing a 19th century building from the DeMontille family in 2007. All of his needs, from fermentation, to bottling to storage and shipping are under this one roof, situated just a couple of minutes from the Beaune train station. Known for their aromatics and finesse, Pacalet’s wines make a great study of terroir. His winemaking techniques vary little from one wine to the next, so the differences in terroir between the 30 wines he makes is clear though all of his stamp. Very limited quantities available.

 

PHILLIPPE PACALET 2011 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN

BURGHOUND 89 POINTS “OUTSTANDING” - “There is the same floral character present though the red berry, earth, humus and underbrush-suffused scents are even cooler and more restrained. There is an interesting contrast with the almost delicate mouth feel and the sauvage character of the medium-bodied flavors that culminate in a firm, delicious, complex and well-balanced finish that displays excellent persistence for a villages level wine. Worth considering.”

$79.95 750ml [333581] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

PHILLIPPE PACALET 2010 POMMARD

BURGHOUND 87-90 POINTS - “This is also quite floral with spice and earth nuances that add interest to the very fresh red currant aromas. There is a real feeling of energy to the detailed, intense and muscular flavors that avoid any hint of rusticity on the moderately complex but solidly persistent finish. This is clearly a Pommard but it’s not fashioned in a seriously structured and austere old school example.”

$79.95 750ml [333582] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

PHILLIPPE PACALET 2010 NUITS-ST.-GEORGE

BURGHOUND 92 POINTS “OUTSTANDING, TOP VALUE” - “A notably smoky and intensely floral nose also evidences notes of game, earth and spices on the red currant and blue pinot fruit aromas. There is impressive richness and power to the full-bodied, muscular and intense flavors that are very Nuits in character yet there is only mild rusticity to the wonderfully persistent and complex finish. I like the balance because while the tannins are quite firm they’re not hard or dry and this should amply reward extended cellaring. 92/2022+”

eROBERT PARKER 88-90 POINTS - “The 2010 Nuits St. Georges wraps around the palate with layers of expressive fruit. This is a subtle wine very much in the Pacalet style that nevertheless shows plenty of village character. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022."

$82.95 750ml [333584] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

PHILLIPPE PACALET 2010 PULIGNY MONTRACHET

A beautiful bouquet of honey, wet stones and citrus flavors lead to a palate which is quite rich and lush. The wine shows great balance and a rather zappy acidity. Beautiful wine, will definetely get even better with some cellar age.

$98.95 750ml [333597] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


2013 Rosé - Part Two

LE CENGLE 2013 PROVENCE ROSE

33% Syrah, 33% Grenache Noir and 33% Mourvèdre.  Delicate pale salmon color. It exudes the warmth and aromas of the Provence region with spontaneous, crisp, fresh, balanced citrus flavors with a hint of berries and brioche. The Syrah and Grenache grapes endow the wine with an elegant, aromatic balance. An amazing Grenache/Syrah Rosé. Foods to pair with: tapenade, stuffed mushrooms, braised ham, lobster stew, grilled trout, grilled salmon, veal sauté.

$12.95 750ml [322699] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LUCIEN CROCHET 2013 SANCERRE ROSE

Made exclusively of Pinot Noir hand-harvested from several parcels… a mix of Oxfordian “caillottes” and Kimmeridgian “marne”. This Rosé is made using the direct press method with the whole berries entering the pressoir, fermentation lasted for approximately 20 days. The musts ferment in temperature-controlled cuves (85%) as well as a small percentage in older barrels (15%). The fermentation occurs over three weeks. The wines is bottled in the spring of the following year. It is round with lovely length. A very pleasant and delectable wine, perfect to serve throughout an entire meal. Goes very well with spicy, exotic dishes, or with fish or barbecued meats.

$25.98 750ml [305691] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

MAS DE GUIOT 2013 ROSE

The wines of Mas Guiot have become reference points for the appellation of Costières de Nîmes. The Cornut family works together as a team, with Sylvia in the winery, Francois and their twin sons, Alexis and Numa, in the vineyard. The Cornut estate consists of 120 hectares on the rolling slopes of Costieès de Nîmes, on clay and limestone soils peppered with insulating galet roules. The family always picks late and harvests entirely by hand. 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah.  Strawberry and raspberry notes, spice and blossom aromas with medium weight of fruit, clean and mineral acidity and a vibrant sweet red currant finish. A great value rosé.

$9.99 750ml [311156] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

MAS CARLOT 2013 COSTIERES DE NIMES ROSE

The vineyards were planted in the 1950s and 1960s to the current varietals. The vines are trained using a system called Cordon de Royat, which helps maintain lower fruit production. Mas Carlot limits yields to around 45hl/ha, which is one-third below what the appellation allows. Nathalie likes to wait during harvest - picking late to obtain the maximum maturity for each grape varietal. This Rosé is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah all of which have been bled from tank. This is a gorgeous Rosé, loaded with wonderfully intermingled flavors of strawberries and graced by hints of spring flowers and spice. It’s lush on the palate, with a long, harmonious finish.

$9.99 750ml [318747] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE DUPUY DU LOME 2013 "LA MATELOTE" ROSE

50% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah The hill of “La Matelote” is located on top of the Ollioules gorges and overlooks the Protected Geographical Indicator Mont Caume vineyard. In bio dynamic conversion, no synthetic herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers used. Green harvest, Hand harvest and strict hand sorting. Tasting Notes: “Crushed strawberry and raspberry. Citrus notes. Very gourmand and accessible.” Ideal for aperitifs, appetizers, charcuterie and cheese plates, provençal vegetable stews.”

$13.99 750ml [322072] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE DUPUY DE LOME 2013 BANDOL ROSE

70% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, 10% Cinsault.  In bio-dynamic conversion, no synthetic herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers used. Green harvest, Hand harvest and strict hand-sorting. Tasting Notes: “Refined, elegant with a long refreshing finish. Medium body. Pink grapefruit, lemon zest, dried apricot. Silky texture. Energy and complexity in the glass!” This is a fantastic rosé to accompany fine meals. Ideal with fish prepared with intense flavors from Provence or exotic, also with white meat.”

$21.99 750ml [322073] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

MAS BRESSADES 2013 COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES ROSÉ

This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault and is vinified completely in tank. The Grenache vines here are between 25 and 60+ years old and the Syrah and Cinsault are in their 30s. The yields for this wine are between 35 and 40 hectoliter per hectare. With vivid and pale color, it always shows extraordinary bright fruit and spice in the nose. Fat in the mouth, it is a well-balanced rosé with very precise aromas. A real pleasure! You may drink it by itself for your apéritif or pair with summer meals, like grilled fish or meat.

$10.95 750ml [323125] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

DOMAINE MABY 2013 TAVEL ROSE LA FORCADIERE

57% Grenache, 27% Cinsault and 16% from a blend of Bourboulenc, Carignan, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Mourvedre and Syrah from 45-year-old vines. Brilliant, clear, pink with ruby hues. Fine nose of red fruit with a touch of minerality. On the palate, it is dry, creamy, yet fresh. Lingering finish with a bit of spice. Delicious young!

$17.99 750ml [333314] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

CHÂTEAU VANNIERES 2013 BANDOL ROSÉ

Exotic aromas with orange zest, rose petals, coconut, cantaloupe melon and minerals. Decisive attack bringing notes of toasted almonds, spices and finishing with integrated acidity and minerality. A very complex rosé.

$25.99 750ml [333702]

 

BREEZETTE 2013 PROVENCE ROSE

80% Cinsault 20% Mourvedre.  “Definitely in the salmon-colored field, Breezette’s nose was loaded with all kinds of peach nuances which carried over to the palate. Peaches! Lovely, lovely peaches. Add to that a dash of fruit cocktail syrup, light mineral touches and a dash of sea salt, all brightened by cleansing acidity, and you have a winner, indeed!”

$14.95 750ml [323130] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

SAINT TROPEZ 2013 CUVÉE DE GOLFE ROSÉ

The 2012 edition was a staff favorite and the 2013 looks to once again capture our hearts and palates! 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 10% Carignan. The color is a beautuful shiny salmon pink; subtle floral aromas on the nose lead to soft fruits and a very light minerality on the palate leading to a long-lasting, dry finish: very balanced, full of grace and finesse.

$12.99 750ml [323126] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LA DOMITIENNE 2013 ROSE SUR LE SUD

70% Cinsault, 15% Grenache, 15% Syrah.  A definite staff favorite, the nose on La Domitienne is loaded with tropical notions: green melon, papaya, plantain and a pithy, fruit skin note; very rounded and attractive. The palate is viscous and lush, fat but balanced with proper acidity. Tropical fruits dominate with green melon and watermelon in the foreground, a touch of grapefruit citrus in the back. Hints of sea salt, smoke and minerality lend a bit of depth as the finish lingers pleasantly. It’s really no wonder that we’ve done so well with dry French rosés the last few years and La Domitienne is proof: the wine is outstanding, reasonably priced and perfect for the season. If the morning shows a bit of fog this will still brighten the day (hey! Breakfast wine!)...

$9.99 750ml [333398] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

JULIE BENAU 2013 PICPOUL ROSÉ

Made from a very rare grape, Picpoul Noir grown in Languedoc Roussillon where only a tiny number of vines remain planted. Picpoul Noir is also permitted as a minor component in the famous Rhone Valley Chateauneuf du Pape Appellation. Julie Benau, known for sinking barrels of White Picpoul into the Mediteranean sea for maturation is one of the very few producing Picpoul Rosé. Pink Salmon color with orange rim varation, this rosé shows aromas of orange peel, Cantaloupe Melon, a stony minerality supported by cherry and white peaches with an hint of salinity. Dry flowers and well integrated acidity accompanying a long lasting finish. A very unique wine matching perfectly summer dishes like Melon and Prosciutto.

$14.99 750ml [333703]

 

YVES CUILLERON 2013 SYRAH ROSÉ VDP DES COLLINES RHODANIENNES

A pure Rhône syrah vinified as rose by Yves Cuilleron. This is robust and fruity with a touch of spicy strawberry that makes it a fine companion at the picnic table. Simple, straight-foward and satisfying... a fine value. This Rosé is sourced 100% from Syrah grown within the confines of the village of Chavanay. It is produced by the “saignée” method after a brief maceration of several hours. The fermentations are in stainless steel and the elevage continues for about six months before bottling in the spring following harvest.

$15.99 750ml [322232] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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