And Now for Something Completely Different
And now, in the immortal words of Monty Python, for something completely different.
Shedding a light on the beautiful and lesser-known blended wines from Albert Boxler, with last week's ‘Boxler’s Bewitching Blends’, inspired this week’s discovery case. More specifically, it got us thinking about all of the unique, quirky, unusual and simply inspired blends, from winemakers that we love, that are often misunderstood and can get overlooked because they don’t fit neatly into an easily identifiable box. As you will know, every appellation has its own standards of practice, and list of boxes a cuvée has to check in order to achieve A.O.C status, and be designated as a ‘Lirac’, for example. From the grapes allowed in the mix, to the vineyards those grapes must come from, to the methods of vinification and age of vines etc. This is obviously all to achieve a consistent ‘identity’ and level of quality for an area, and cuvées that do not meet the criteria are obviously designated IGP’s or VdFs. This is why each individual winemaker’s story is so important, and it is one of the reasons why we at Gauntley’s have always felt it as important to talk about ‘people’, as it is to talk about ‘place’, when it comes to wine. I’m sure you’ll be aware that many, when passing bottles on a shelf labelled IGP or VdF, would automatically assume them to be lesser quality than the A.O.C labelled wines, and sometimes that would be the correct assumption. However, in the case of today’s discovery mixed case, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is one of the many things that can be confusing and difficult to navigate when it comes to the world of wine, however, at the same time it’s also why it’s is so interesting, varied and exciting. It’s not straightforward, and you’re always discovering and uncovering something new. The wines we bring to you today, are produced by masterful winemakers, some of whom have helped define their respective appellations in the eyes of the wine world. These cuvées are simply aiming for something different to their respective ‘classic’ appellation styles, and can’t be neatly designated or put into a box. Make no mistake, these are wines of incredible quality and craftsmanship, wines that we love. We are delighted to share some of the stories behind these ‘humble’ IGP’s and VdF’s with you. Let’s dive into our ‘And Now for Something Completely Different’ Mixed Case.
If you would like to learn more about any of the winemakers showcased here or take a gander at a few of their other wines, simply click the Domaine name and that will take you to their page on our website.
Loïc Mahé’s domaine may be in its infancy, compared with many of the historic estates in the highly revered appellation of Savennieres, having only planted the vines for his vineyard in 2000. However, having begun by working alongside the highly respected, Damien Laureau, Loïc is now blazing his own trail and is undoubtedly one of the most exciting producers in the appellation today. Following organic and biodynamic principles, Loïc's wines possess a fabulous purity, expression and balance, with a dynamic life and energy. His intriguing blends below, are a true delight to experience.
Due to the extreme conditions at flowering in 2017, Loïc lost a large percentage of his crop. Turning a catastrophe into a triumph, Loïc made the decision to try something new, truly thinking ‘outside the box'. Joining forces with two of his great friends in Alsace and Bordeaux, he selected grapes from their estates to blend with his own, to produce this fabulous pair of wines. Perfectly named, ‘L’Echapée Belle’ literally translates to ‘The Beautiful Escape’.
Made from Chenin Blanc from vineyards south of the Loire, blended with Pinot Gris grapes from his friend in Alsace, Philippe Brand, this is a unique and exciting wine. Philippe shares the same organic principles of viticulture as Loïc, but is also biodynamic. There is great depth to the pale gold colour in the glass and a very aromatic bouquet. The aromas are slightly oxidative, but very enticing with orchard fruits, pears and quince combined with a mouth-watering, saline minerality. The palate has the same intensity and depth as you’d expect after the nose, with lovely clean pear fruits and the same saline mineral notes again. The balancing acidity adds a real vibrance to the wine and the palate is full of life and energy. Everything is perfectly balanced and in tune and the length is fantastic. The Chenin and Pinot Gris prove a great partnership here and will pair superbly with seafood, poultry and vegetable dishes. A serious, classy wine, offering a refreshingly different expression from each individual varietal.
As with the 2017 L'Echappée Belle Blanc, Loïc ventured outside the appellation to produce this refined red wine. Here Loïc has blended Cabernet Franc from vineyards south of the Loire, with Merlot and Malbec grapes from his vigneron friends: Bruno and Christine Duhamel, who share his same organic philosophy and dedication to quality, in Bordeaux. Again, the unexpected blend marries beautifully, offering lovely pure blackberry fruits, with secondary aromas of subtle spice, cedar, mineral and bramble fruits. The addition of the Merlot and Malbec really adds a subtle depth and roundness to the palate, giving it a very different feel to classic Loire Cabernet Franc reds. The balance is truly harmonious and the tannins are fine and seamlessly integrated. There is surprising sophistication here, gorgeous purity and ample amounts of charm. Both the red and the white are unusual blends perhaps, certainly something very different, however, the results are utterly delicious!
This is one of the most unique domaines you are likely to come across. From the most southernly vineyards in the Loire valley, winemaker Christian Chabirand, crafts exquisite wines using Bordeaux grape varieties! What some might say shouldn’t work, in Christians assured hands, emphatically does. He is miraculously able to balance the power and complexity of his Bordeaux grape varieties with the minerality and elegance that we associate with the Loire. It truly is the best of both worlds.
For his Prima Donna white, Christian took his inspiration from one of France's other great appellations, opting for what he describes as, the most famous and successful blend for white wine in the world, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. However, he also believes that Champagne is an 'industrial' wine, which requires the addition of sugar to achieve secondary fermentation. By contrast, he is looking for the optimum ripeness in his grapes and a natural balance. The result is spectacular, with a fabulous depth and intensity, with the same richness of flavours of a fine, mature Champagne, with hints of honey, brioche and apple fruits, but with a mouth-watering salinity and clean drive of acidity. Everything is in tune here. Possessing real poise and sophistication, the wine dances on the palate maintaining its line and energy throughout its impressively long finish. With undoubtedly more years left to delight, now in her prime, this Prima Donna is worthy of her name and status and will make a great partner to a wide variety of dishes, from sushi or shell fish, poultry and white meat dishes or fromage a chevre.
Christian's whole range is superb; however, it reaches its true culmination with his 'Orfeo' Cuvée. This is a truly wonderful wine that exhibits fabulous intensity and stylish complexity, offering aromas of ripe blackberries, spice and very subtle hints of liquorice, but still with restraint and finesse. It is made from the Domain's oldest vines and is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a smattering of Negrette for spice. You have the power, complexity and richness of those wonderful Bordeaux grapes, harmoniously matched with the minerality, acidity and finesse of his limestone and chalky Loire terroir. It truly is a match made in heaven and this sumptuous cuvée really shines. Decanting a short while before drinking is the best way to truly experience this wine properly.
Domaine du Pegau is one of the oldest and most established estates in Chateauneuf du Pape. We have been working with them for 40 years and have seen their legendary rise in the stratosphere of the wine world, under the assured leadership of the tenacious Laurence Feraud. Plan Pegau, has always been a firm favourite, beautifully capturing the 'essence' of Pegau's classic style and offering exceptional value. Produced from vineyards outside the appellation, including today, those from 'Chateau Pegau' in Sorgues, which has been somewhat of a passion project for Laurence over recent years
Moving away from the classic Southern Rhone GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) mix, with this cuvée Laurence opted to go for something a little different. The Plan Pegau is a mix of 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and the 20% balance a mix of old-vines Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is also a reserve blend of 3 different vintages: 2015, 16 and 17 (If you look at the clock icon on the bottleneck you can see what vintages have been used). Laurence wanted to create a cuvée that reflects the hallmark personality and style of Pegau, whilst also being an approachable VDF for everyday wine buyers. The result is a rich, meaty red, which captures the essence of the Southern Rhône Valley, with layers of red and dark fruit character, soft supple tannins from the merlot, and complex spice notes from extended aging in small oak barrels. It offers a true and loud echo of the traditional Pegau style and profile, and is the “little brother” of the Domaine du Pegau Cuvée Réservée Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Enjoy with game, hearty stews, and grilled meats.
Often referred to as ‘The Genius of Gigondas’, by fellow winemakers of the region, Louis Barruol is a special winemaker. Under his leadership, Chateau St Cosme has become the flagship domaine for Gigondas around the Globe. However, never one to rest on his laurels and always looking to branch out and experiment, he has explored and mastered countless different terroirs through his negoce wine businesses, all over the Rhone Valley, and his winery in the Finger Lakes in America. A master of his craft and one of the most versatile winemakers in the world, he never stops playing and constantly develops new and exciting cuvées.
This is a stunning cuvée, new in 2017, produced from 40% viognier, 30% Marsanne and 30% Picpoul (certainly an unusual but intriguing mix!). Always looking to branch out and experiment, this is, in Louis’ words, an answer to the market's increasing demand for interesting, good quality and good value Rhone white wines. Vinified from grapes in his newly purchased Saint Martin Vineyards in Violes, this was a real little passion project for Lois. The soils here have an incredible concentration of limestone and that is reflected in the wine. Wonderful freshness, aromatic finesse and salinity. A meditative nose that one could contemplate for hours with dried apricot, marshmallow, heirloom rose and mint shining through and the palate is no less spectacular! The uncompromising and often self-critical Louis has said that he is extremely proud of this wine, the outcome is beautiful. We are very happy to be able to share it with you today. Do not think twice about the ‘IGP’ on the label, simply technicality, this is a world-class, exotic and unctuous white wine. It is easily paired with dishes that feature creamy sauces, white fish, and roasted pork or chicken. Picpoul brings acidity to the blend and gives this wine salinity, making it a superb choice for cooked or raw shellfish. However, honestly this just scratches the surface of what this wine could potentially accompany. Honestly, go crazy. Get creative!
This special offer mixed case comes as a six-bottle case with 1x each of the following wines, or as a twelve-bottle case, containing 2x each of the following wines:
Six-Bottle Mixed Case
Normal Retail Price - £118.20
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL PRICE - £106.50 (10% Discount)
Twelve-Bottle Mixed Case
Normal Retail Price - £236.40
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL PRICE - £199.95 (15% Discount)