Litaud’s Chardonnay

Jean-Jacques Litaud's vineyards are nestled beneath the colossal cliff of Vergisson in the tiny hamlet of Les Membrets. The soils are limestone mixed with a rich red soil. Why red? Well, they're said to be stained red by the blood of countless animals which were driven off the cliffs by stone age hunters. And archeological digs have found lots of wooly mammoth skeletons at the base of those giant rocks. Some of the vines are almost 100 years old – old, but much younger than the Woolly Mammoth blood.  These magnificent cliffs in the Macon region are stunning. If you're a reader of Asterix and Obelix, you'd be interested to know that they were holy sites for the Druids. Readers of Libération may ... Read More »

Sauvignon Blanc: An FAQ

What is Sauvignon Blanc? It is a white wine grape variety. It's "home" is in the Loire Valley, but it is one of the French grapes, like Chardonnay, that has become a widely planted and widely consumed "international" grape variety. As many consumers decided that Chardonnay was too "oaky and buttery", many of them moved to Sauvignon Blanc, which is typically crisper, more fruit forward, and more herbaceous. Where is it grown? The most famous Sauvignon Blancs continue to be produced in the Loire Valley, mostly in the AOCs of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It also make popular varietal wines in California, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand, and to a lesser extent Austria, Northern Italy ... Read More »

House Wine: Sancerre Rosé Edition

Back in the early 1980s I ran a wine bar in DC called Suzanne's. There was the first time I had Sancerre Rosé, and I was immediately struck by how grassy, crisp, and mineral it tasted. So refreshing! Still pretty new to wine, I wondered what grape it was made of.... and was very surprised when I learned that it was 100% Pinot Noir! We had a Valentine's Day dinner and served Sancerre Rosé with Coulibiac of salmon. It was a big hit! Sancerre is now virtually synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc, but it used to be mostly a red-wine town? It’s true: the Pinot Noir from this special spot of Kimmeridgian soils used to be famous. However, after the American soil louse, phylloxera, hitched a ride over ... Read More »

Chinons of Philippe Alliet

One of the great things about Cabernet Franc is its dichotomy of pleasure. This noble grape rewards the intellect with its subtlety, but also delivers a very simple satisfaction that talks directly to our brain stems. Responsible for high-flyers in Bordeaux like Château Cheval Blanc, Cabernet Franc also finds glorious expression in the central Loire regions of Saumur, Bourgueil, and Chinon. Last week in our newsletter, we were excited to offer the new releases from a producer in the Chinon vanguard: Philippe Alliet. When Philippe took over his father's estate in 1985, he also took on his uncle's, thereby reuniting his grandfather's parcels. He has worked hard in the vineyard and cellar ... Read More »

Burgers and Chinon in the neighborhood

Flatiron Wines is surrounded by some of the finest restaurants in the United States, indeed - some of the best on the world.  It is true - in New York you can get whatever you want. Sometimes though, you just want something simple and pleasing. I have discovered that Chinon and Cheeseburgers are about as satisfying as can be. A neighborhood insider tip - If you go to Shake Shack at 4:30 or 5 there is NO ONE IN LINE!  A little knowledge  is a dangerous thing... Recently Susannah and I enjoyed the new Shake Shack limited edition Parkburger.  Then we tried the new Roadside Shack Burger with caramelized onions simmered in beer and bacon. Susannah had hers with no cheese because ... Read More »

Terroir will conquer all: the brilliant Coulee de Serrant

Terroir has a way of re-asserting itself over time. You see this in the life-time of a bottle of wine. Wine-makers make mistakes. Say they submit Grand Cru Burgundy to too much new oak, and all you can taste when you drink the wine is vanilla and smoke. Open the same bottle 15 years later and something special has happened: the wine now tastes of Grand Cru Burgundy, and not the wine-making process. The French believe that, given enough time, terroir will conquer all, whether it's poor wine-making or unusual vintage conditions. I'm now wondering if you see this over the life-time of a winery as well. Let's talk about Nicolas Joly and Coulee de Serrant. In the case of Coulee de Serrant, ... Read More »

10 Top Vintages to Get Ready For Now

Collectors, how will you allocate your budget in the buying season coming up? Here would be my top picks based on what's available or coming into the marketplace these days. 1.  2014 Loire Valley.  True, there are still 86 years left, so it's too early to declare 2014 to be the "vintage of the century" in the Loire Valley, but it is certainly being widely recognized as the best vintage so far.  Both reds and whites are stunning.  Buy Sancerre from top producers.  Buy Chinons and Saumurs.  Buy lots of Vouvray. Buy Muscadet. 2.  2014 Beaujolais.  2014 was pretty good across France.  Beaujolais, like the Loire, was a special highlight, and the 2014s are just starting to come on to the ... Read More »

The Joys of Joguet

Joguet, a jewel in the Kermit Lynch portfolio, is a domaine situated just between the Loire and Vienne Rivers in the AOC of Chinon. When young Charles assumed control of the family estate in the late 1950s, he was savvy enough to recognize the value of the distinctive soil types that were spread over their various holdings. Right away, he halted the practice of selling the harvest to negociants and began vinifying these unique parcels separately, on-site. Now overseen by winemaker Kevin Fontaine, Joguet's wines (most of which merit grand cru or premier cru classification) fall into one of two categories: those meant for early consumption, and those meant to age. Examples of each will be open ... Read More »

Loire Valley Tasting Series Part III: Pouilly-Fume, Reuilly and Revisiting Sancerre

Once again, we're exploring the wines of the Loire Valley, starting with the classic (and perpetual house favorite) Sancerre from Yves Martin. Vines for this cuvee hail from the famous hamlet of Chavignol and are split between its two great terroirs, "Caillottes" (stony and chalky) and "Terres Blanches" (clay and limestone). Sancerre is also famous for it's rose and we'll also be sampling an exquisite old-vine Pinot Noir expression from Gerard Boulay. Moving on to the right bank of the Loire River, Pouilly-Fume is a region devoted exclusively to the production of white wine. Both the Chasselas and the Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive in these limestone soils, and the wines bear a trademark minerality, ... Read More »

Loire Valley Tasting Series Part II: Focus on Sancerre, Menetou-Salon and Quincy

Luckily the Loire is a source of bright, fresh and racy wines that pair perfectly with all sorts of July 4th fare. So before you flee the city for the holiday weekend, be sure to pop into the shop for the second installment of our Loire Valley tasting series! Our focus this time will be on the Centre-Loire, the exact geographical center of France where grapes have been grown for over 2000 years. Included in this department is the highly regarded and well-recognized appellation of Sancerre, home to some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the entire world. Next, we'll explore Quincy, another fine source of dry, mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc located on the left bank of the Loire. Soils of sand, silt ... Read More »