Sometimes we lose track of some of our favorite French wines--wines we've been drinking for years. We began to ask, "Are they as good as we remember?" And fortunately, for us, the answer is a resounding yes.
2016 Domaine de Fontainerie Vouvray Sec (Dry)
Catherine-Dhoye-Deruet took over winemaking duties from her father in 1990 and ever since, the family estate (founded in 1712) has been producing soulful wines ever since. Her winery is carved out of the tuffeaux soil underneath her Le Coteau vineyard, and you can see roots protruding from the limestone ceiling dripping water. She never chapitilizes. Instead, she crushes her grapes, then allows the wine to be made naturally. That's why her dry wines have such an unforced aspect about them. The just-released 2016 Sec is a classic. Clean, with a hint of honey, round on the palate and a persistent finish.
$17.99 per bottle
2017 Goisot Bourgogne Aligoté
When you stand in Goisot's nearly 900 year old cellar near the northernmost part of Burgundy, you begin to realize that wine has been made here every vintage since medieval times. The estate is in Saint-Bris, known for rare Burgundian Sauvignon Blanc, but Goisot also produces one of the most appealing of all Aligotés. Called "poor man's Burgundy", Aligoté doesn't have the weight or the majesty of Chardonnay, but it can offer a simpler, compelling take on dry white wine. Goisot's Aligoté reveals a little matchstick in the nose which quickly blows off with a little swirling. In the mouth there is a full, bracing minerality, not as severe as Muscadet, and an intriguing aroma and flavor component, perhaps sandalwood.
$17.99 per bottle
2017 Manciat-Poncet Pouilly Fuissé
The most revered appellation of the Maconnaise is Pouilly-Fuissé, because of its wine's superior structure, fuller fruit flavors and distinctive minerality. At one time, the Chardonnay-only appellation produced the most popular dry white wines from Burgundy. Trying to capitalize on its popularity, less-than-meticulous importers rushed to acquire anything with Pouilly-Fuissé on the label, and the oceans of cheap, characterless wine flooded the market in the 1980s, which just happened to be the exact time of the ascendency of California Chardonnay in the U.S. market. Newer wine drinkers would never see a Pouilly-Fuissé on a wine list, so they were unaware that in the right hands, these can still be pretty compelling wines.
One small Pouilly-Fuissé estate we've supported for over two decades is Manciat-Poncet, which you may recall also produces our popular Mâcon-Charnay. Once a staple in The Wine Country, Manciat Poncet's Pouilly-Fuissé had dropped off our radar in recent years, but we are happy to report the new vintage is back again, and as pleasurable as ever. With a lovely perfume, with a touch of white flowers, it offers a round, moderately fleshy texture framed by a well-structured body. Ample fruit is in perfect balance in this dry, generous wine, and its oak is way in the background. It's great to have this wine back.
$25.99 per bottle
2016 Camus-Bruchon Bourgogne Pinot Noir
One look at the translucent light ruby appearance, and I became wistful for the days when Pinot Noir was a more delicate, feminine wine. Indeed, this delicate, somewhat shy wine reveals itself slowly, with a flavor of dry red cherries bordered by just enough tannin to offer structure. Serve with roast chicken, roast pork, or any other lighter meats.
$22.99 per bottle
2016 Camus-Bruchon Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru Les Narbantons
This has always been this delightful estate's finest bottling, offering firm, generous flavors of classic bing cherry. The 2016's aroma offers considerable depth, black and red cherry flavors, and a lovely round texture framed by a modestly tannic grip. You can cellar this wine for a decade if you wish, but if you love primary Pinot Noir fruit, you can enjoy this wine tonight.
$44.99 per bottle
2015 Chateau Peyredon Lagravette Haut Médoc
One of our most popular Bordeaux estates is Chateau Sainte-Marie, producers of the crisp white Entre-Deux-Mers and the dependable Bordeaux Superieur. Owners Stephane Dupach and his wife Laurence acquired this small estate in the Haut-Médoc in recent years and in 2015 produced a red wine that just screams for a medium-rare rib eye. Composed of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot, this nearly opaque, dark wine is all-Bordeaux, from its familiar aroma to the fullness in the mouth, to its cab-dominant flavor. Great value.
$25.99 per bottle