French Classics
June 2018

When Rogers & Company was founded in 1984, our first winery partners were from France’s Loire Valley. Over 30 years later, we continue to source wines from some of the best artisan, family-owned, and estate wineries in France. Listed below are eight wines that might pique your interest. This is a small selection: our portfolio includes 28 wineries from France alone!

 

If you have a cottage or a farm where you spend a lot of the summer, let us know. We can arrange delivery wherever you are in Ontario.

 

Questions? Feel free to call me. I’m always happy to “talk wine”: 647 955 8872 or [email protected]. I hope to hear from you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Chris

Champagne Vilmart & Cie

Grand Cellier Brut NV

$90.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

“When I first tasted Vilmart in 1981 it was nothing special. But after it introduced oak in the late 1980s, a sea change in quality occurred. By 1991, I declared Vilmart to be ‘Poor man’s Krug’, ‘Mini Krug’ and ‘The greatest grower Champagne I know.’  – Tom Stevenson, Decanter, 2007

 

A “grower” Champagne house is one that owns and maintains all its own vineyards, in contrast to the more famous “Grand Marque” Champagne houses (think Veuve Clicquot, Moët, Pol Roger, etc.) that buy fruit from all over the Champagne region. Grower Champagne is generally wonderful, hand-crafted, exceptional value wine, and Vilmart is widely considered the best of the best. Frankly, we’d argue that it is among the best wines in the entire Champagne region.

 

“A mouthwatering, seamless Champagne that caresses the palate like raw silk, with vibrant acidity framing rich and finely meshed flavors of nectarine, chopped almond, fleur de sel and honey. Offers a long, chalky finish of lime blossom and spice. Disgorged December 2015. Drink now through 2022.” – 93 points, Wine Spectator, Dec 2017

 


Domaine Christian Moreau Pere et Fils.

Chablis Vaillon 1er Cru 2016

$58.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

“Moreau and his son have built Domaine Christian Moreau Père & Fils into one of the best sources of Chablis in the region, alongside names such as Raveneau, Dauvissat, William Fèvre and Patrick Piuze. Moreau’s wines tend to have more flesh but retain the steely core and mineral, iodine elements. Most importantly, they reflect their individual vineyard origins.” – “His Own Man”, Wine Spectator on Domaine Christian Moreau, Sept 2016

 

My absolute favourite white wine is Chablis: captivating, crisp, refreshing, and minerally. No wine starts a meal off better. No wine goes better with cold, raw seafood. Few whites age as well, though I like to drink them young.

 

“This vineyard, on the left, cooler bank of the River Serein, has produced a crisp, intensely fruity wine, with something of the steely character that marks out many Chablis. Along with that, a riper style brings out peach and pear flavours. Drink the wine soon for the fruit, although it will be even better from 2021.” – 93 points, Wine Enthusiast, June 2018

 

The 2017 has yet to be reviewed, but The Wine Advocate’s reviews for the previous five vintages (2016 – 2012) were consistently strong: 90, 93+, 91+, 91+, and 92 points respectively.


 

Masson-Blondelet

Pouilly-Fumé “Villa Paulus” 2015

$36.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

“Villa Paulus” is a kimmeridgian clay vineyard, the kind of soil usually associated with Chablis, not Pouilly-Fumé. The Sauvignon Blanc grown here displays noticeable richness and depth as a result.

 

Domaine Masson-Blondelet’s Villa Paulus plantings are between 25 and 40 years old, grown on a south-east facing slope. The Domaine takes great care to nurture the vineyard, practicing organic viticulture and using no herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides. Fruit is destemmed gently, quickly pressed, then fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine rests sur lie for a period of time, and malolactic fermentation is prevented. This wine does not see oak at any point in time: that smokey flintiness you’ll notice is pure terroir!


Pellé Sancerre

“La Croix au Garde” 2016

$37.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Across the Loire from Pouilly-Fumé, you find Sancerre, the epicentre of Sauvignon Blanc excellence. The Pellé family has been cultivating four hectares (around ten acres) of La Croix au Garde in the village of Montigny since 1982.

 

Sauvignon Blanc grown in La Croix au Garde’s Caillote soil (a sort of pebbly clay-limestone) consistently produces beautiful, fine-textured wines.

 

Following a cool fermentation, the wine rests sur lie in steel tanks and in old oak vats. This produces a wine with plenty of amplitude without imparting any oak character. La Croix au Garde is an aromatic Sancerre with a nose and palate that shows citrus and floral notes underpinned by a delicate minerality.

 

“This is the Ingrid Bergman of Sancerres – ravishing, polished and effortlessly elegant. In great years, besides having perfect tension between acidity and fruit, the wine has a unique kind of purity and clarity, with absolutely vivid smokey/minerally flavours. Pellé himself was considered one of the masters of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, and now his family carries on, making wines that are highly admired. The Pellé estate is perhaps best known for its extraordinary, rich, dramatic Menetou-Salon, which is also where the estate is located.” – Karen McNeil, “The Wine Bible”, 2016

 


Domaine Brusset

Rasteau “La Bastide” 2016

$32.95 per bottle, cases of 12

Rasteau is an appellation north of Gigondas in the southern Rhône Valley. The combination of Grenache and Mourvèdre yields a full, dark, spicy, earthy, polished red. If you enjoy Aussie Shiraz, or Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this may be your style of wine. You can cellar it over six to eight years, but I do recommend drinking it anytime!

 

“The 2016 Rasteau “La Bastide”, a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvèdre, is a step up from the impressive 2015. It’s riper and richer yet doesn’t come across as warm or overdone, dishing out aromas and flavours of licorice and dark fruit before ending long and supple.” – (90-92) points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017

 


Château Corbin

Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 2010

$79.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

“Nose starts with fresh brewed coffee, cedar and chocolate toffee. With a bit of air it shows ripe plum, sweet licorice and fresh leather. Wonderful dark round fruit on the palate with velvety caressing tannins. Full with a long finish with lots of dark fruit. Succulent wine.” – 93 points, JamesSuckling.com, Feb 2013

 

“Lush, concentrated black currant and kirsch-like fruit, a hint of licorice and some floral notes and subtle background oak jump from the glass of this blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. It is another relatively large-scaled Saint-Emilion at 15% natural alcohol, but the good news is that there are nearly 4,500 cases of this wine in the marketplace. The purity, sumptuous texture and seductive nature of this wine will endear it to most readers. Its is certainly a sleeper of the vintage, as Corbin has rarely made a wine of this intensity and richness, at least not in many a year. Drink it over the next 15+ years. This 2010 is a spectacular wine from Annabelle Cruse-Bardinet from her 33-acre vineyard in the lieu-dit of Corbin (hence the name of the chateau).” – 92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Feb 2013

 


Alain Graillot

Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2016

$44.95 per bottle, cases of 12

 

Founded in 1985, Alain Graillot’s wines quickly became the most in-demand wines of Crozes-Hermitage. The wine is 100% Syrah, grown on the flat plain between the Rhône and Isère Rivers. The vines are tended by hand, farmed organically, fermented by native yeast, and aged in old oak barrels purchased from top domaines in Burgundy.

 

The wine deftly walks a line between structure and elegance, and ageability is remarkable. This is a “must-have” for any serious Rhône collector.

 

“Graillot’s 2016 Crozes-Hermitage (tasted from tank) will be bottled at the end of January. It’s floral and stemmy, with dark berry fruit and some tea-like notes on the silky finish. This medium to full-bodied wine should be almost ready to drink upon release and drink well for up to a decade. 2020-2030.” – (91-93) points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Dec 2017


Clos Bellane

Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Urgonien” 2015

$68.95 per bottle, cases of 6

 

Clos Bellane makes really cool wines. Literally. The estate is in the northernmost village in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the highest in elevation at over 400 metres. The vineyard faces east, catching morning light without retaining scorching afternoon heat. The soils are limestone, the farming is organic. The wines are gorgeous!

 

Winemaker Stephane Vedeau’s extractions are super gentle, which allows that cool terroir to express itself fully. He used indigenous yeasts and ages 80% of the the wines in concrete, and the other 20% in one and two-year-old barrels. The blend is 75% Grenache, the balance Mourvèdre (a very high proportion). The Mourvèdre (also called Mataró and Monastrell), gives a funky, sultry quality to the wine.

 

You’ll know this isn’t your average Châteauneuf-du Pape by the nose alone: blackberry and mixed herbs; lavender, fennel, garrigue, and cinnamon. The palate matches the nose, with black cherry and fig and licorice and pepper. Fresh, lively acidity and polished tannins lead into a long, clean finish. This is a surprising, beautifully complex, utterly delicious Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

 

“The deep ruby/purple coloured 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée “Urgonien” gives up outstanding notes of plums, strawberries, violets and spice, as well as a beautifully textured, layered style on the palate. The tannin is present, yet sweet and nicely polished, which will keep this drinking nicely in its youth.” – (90-92) points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2016