We have 3 new wine packs this week. The new sipper 6-pack is part one of two: “French Discoveries.” Let’s be honest though we didn’t “discover” them here on the corner of SE 8th Avenue and Burnside. What we mean by discovery is that it is a wine that is either completely new to us, or it’s one that makes us look at a grape or a region in a new way, or perhaps it is a newer producer who is making wines in a way that makes us take notice. We hope that these discoveries pique your interest and quench your thirst as much as they have ours!
Next is a 3-pack of Loire Valley Gems; a Muscadet that was aged on the lees for 3.5 years before bottling. Chenin Blanc that tastes like no other, and a 2008 Cab Franc that is just beginning to sing its solo.
Finally a 3-pack of something new for your palate to discover. 3 smoking good wines from Hungary, yes Hungary. You can’t travel to a new place these days, so why not try some juice that is brand-spanking new to you?
TO ORDER select your wine bundle of choice, follow the steps to securely order your wine. All payments will be processed ahead of time through our website.
Once you order they will be available for pickup at Le Pigeon beginning Wednesday the 12th at noon. Then Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12:00pm to 4:00pm. You can pick them up from our front door, or we can bring them out to your car. If those times do not work for you, please let us know and we can arrange an alternative.
We are all in this together, and when you’re drinking good stuff, well hey, you’re keeping it classy.
French Discoveries (Part 1), $135 per 6-pack
We taste many many wines in order build the wine lists at Le Pigeon and Canard. While we taste wines from around the world, wines from France are a high proportion of them. Amongst them are great wines, mediocre wines, and a few total clunkers, but the most fun are the ones that feel like a discovery. Let’s be honest though we didn’t “discover” them here on the corner of SE 8th Avenue and Burnside. Someone decided to grow the grapes, make the wine a certain way, and an intrepid importer “found” the wine and brought it to us. What we mean by discovery is that it is a wine that is either completely new to us, or it’s one that makes us look at a grape or a region in a new way, or perhaps it is a newer producer who is making wines in a way that makes us take notice – which is not to say unusual or wacky, it may just be extra precise or extra delicious. With that in mind these are some wines that to us are French “discoveries.” We hope that these discoveries pique your interest and quench your thirst as much as they have ours!
Pineau d’Aunis, Méthode Ancestrale, Perles Grises, Dom. Patrice Colin, NV, Loire Valley
We love Pet-Nat in the summer time! This sparkler is produced using the oldest way of making sparkling wine – by bottling the wine early while fermentation is still being completed. This creates a delicate fizz in the wine. Pineau d’Aunis is a Loire varietal that reminds us a lot of Gamay, but more delicate and a little lighter. Its fruity and herbal notes make for a perfect, ice cold porch sipper.
Saint Pourçain Blanc, Trésaille, Domaine des Bérioles 2018, Loire Valley
Most of the 600 hectares of vines in the village of Saint Pourçain in the Loire Valley are machine-harvested and destined for bulk production through the local co-op. Domaine des Bérioles are one of 17 independent producers in the area. Tréssallier is a scarce variety, there are only 30 hectares currently planted in the world, of which the domaine grows 1.5 hectares. This bottling uses 10% Chardonnay to add a little bit of weight to the racy and mineral-driven Tréssallier, which makes up 90% of the blend.
Tursan, Les Pentes de Barène, 2017, Sud-Ouest
Tursan is a tiny appellation in the Southwest of France located just 45 miles from the Atlantic, and Pentes de Barène’s 4-acre holdings make them the smallest producer in the region. The 5,000 bottles they produce are a labor of love. Husband and wife team Daniel and Gaelle Vergnes do all the vineyard and winery work themselves. This singular white wine is 59% Baroque (a variety that is only grown in the Tursan area) 32% Gros Mansang and 9% Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is versatile and generous, it smells of spiced pears, white flowers, and honey. It has enough weight to make it a perfect pairing for poultry or fatty fish.
Cioran, Roc des Anges, NV, Roussillon
Marjorie and Stéphane Gallet met while attending agronomy school in Montpellier where they bonded over their love of wine and horses. Many of their weekends were spent touring the vineyards of nearby Roussillon on horseback, and when they graduated in 2003 they settled there and began producing wine. This blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Macabeu really showcases the dry and warm climate of the Roussillon. The grapes are picked early to retain acidity and freshness, but the couple ages this wine for up to 6 years in used Burgundian barrels. A layer yeast (flor) develops over the wine in the barrels – think sherry or Jura – which brings out a lot of savory notes to balance the intense orchard fruits prominent in the wine. The complexity of this wine is enthralling with the flor influenced notes, the lush fruit, the weight and the freshness all being evident.
Saumur Rouge, Brendan Slater West, 2018, Loire Valley
Brendan Slater-West, who happens to be a native Oregonian, was teaching English in France when he caught the wine-bug in a major way. He enrolled in some wine courses, and through a dogged effort landed a job as the assistant winemaker to Romain Guiberteau, who eventually helped Brendan start his own project. This 100% Cabernet Franc comes from the Ripaille parcel (of Collier fame) of Bréze and has ideal southwestern exposure and sandy clay soils. This pure lightly extracted red is fermented and aged in stainless steel to accentuate the juicy red berry and black cherry fruits in the wine. The peppery notes of the cab franc make it a great compliment to summer cooking.
Vin de France, Alliance, Domaine l’Iserand 2018, France
Jean-François Malcert’s domaine is based in St. Joseph where he produces lovely wines from old vines. He has recently begun sourcing fruit from other regions to produce wines that are a bit more playful but equally delicious. This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache from Corbières in the Languedoc, and 15% Gamay from Sécheras in the Northern Rhone. This 200 case production wine has rich, dark fruits but it is medium bodied with delicate tannins and incredible perfume. Best enjoyed just a little under room-temperature.
Loire Valley Star-Studded 3-Pack, $115 per 3-pack
We have long championed the wines of the Loire Valley of their versatility, food friendliness, and overall DELICIOUSITY. These 3 producers have been at the forefront of a revolution in quality that has been decades in the making. Each wine shows the uniqueness of varietal and growing site from their respective terroirs. Each represents the pinnacle of quality for the grapes. Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin Blanc, and Cabernet Franc…we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Gorges, Domaine de la Pépière, 2015
Over the past few decades Marc Ollivier has been a dynamic force in the world of Muscadet and has helped usher in a period of unprecedented appreciation for both the domaine and the region as a whole. The estate does not hold vines in Gorges but sourced fruit from highly regarded grower Michel Brégeon. The mother rock in Gorges is gabbro, a volcanic formation also known as basalt. The wines from Gorges are among the firmest, most structured, and mineral of all of the Muscadet crus, hence the 42 months on its lees at Pépière before bottling. That is 3 and a half years people! The 2015 smells of yellow apples, Meyer lemon, crushed stones, and sea spray. It is drinking great today but this wine will continue to improve for years.
Savennières, Les Vieux Clos, Nicolas Joly, 2014
Nicolas Joly is not only the eponymous owner of the domaine, he is seen by many as the godfather of biodynamic viticulture. At the time he took over running the family domaine he began using chemical fertilizers having been convinced by salesmen that he would save money without compromising on the quality of the fruit. He quickly noticed that his vineyards were turning brown, the grass between the rows was dying and there was a lack of biodiversity. He began to study biodynamics and since and become the godfather of biodynamic viticulture in France. Joly’s Chenin Blancs are some of the most unique in the Loire…unlike any other Savennières. They simultaneously encapsulate all the characteristics of the appellation, yet exist in a parallel dimension. They explode from the glass aromatically and wrap around your palate with incredible texture only to be balanced by racing acidity. Joly’s wines are famously variable based on the characteristics of each vintage and growing site. This Vieux Clos bottling comes from an east facing vineyard with schist and quartz soils. It’s just beginning to break out of its shell with 6 years of bottle age and smells of spiced pears, honeycomb and wet rocks, and perhaps a tad funky, in the best way!
Chinon, Ls Picasses, Domaine Olga Rafault, 2008
The Chinon “les Picasses” is one of the most famous wines in the region – a wine that is delicious young but that cellars beautifully for ten to twenty years, even longer in a good vintage. Under the direction of Eric de la Vigerie and Sylvie Raffault, quality here has been maintained, and improved, with the adoption of organic farming. The vines averaged about 40 years-old in 2008, a vintage that was cool much of the summer, but after a sunny and warm September the grapes were harvested with beautiful maturity and concentration, combined with the firm acidity found in this vintage. The wine exhibits aromas of ripe blackberry, strawberry and prune with, orange rind, earth and leather. The palate is supple and deep with ripe blackberry liqueur and hints of pepper, cocoa, licorice, earth and minerals.
Intro to Hungary 101 3-Pack, $75 per 3-pack
Hungary has emerged from the post-communist era as a dynamic wine-growing country. Producers throughout the country are both embracing the historic varietals of the past, while studying the techniques of modern winemaking in other parts of Western Europe and the New World. We have begun to take notice of singular wines being produced by passionate producers who place a premium on the quality of fruit coming from vineyards farmed with a respect for the environment and the land which they are grown. These wines represent a tremendous value because their qualities rival the best of France, Italy, and the United States but they still fly under the radar of the average consumer and wine buyer. We’ve chosen a few of our favorites to share with you and we’re confident that you will catch the Hungarian wine bug just like we have.
Furmint, Hatari, Samuel Tinon, 2016, Tokaji
The Tokaji region in the Northeast corner of Hungary has been renowned for its sweet, botrytis-affected wines since the 1650’s, and to many wine drinkers “Tokaji” is a wine, not a place. It was the first of Hungary’s regions to receive major investment a in the post-Soviet era because of the sweet wine. However, in recent years they are experiencing a new revolution centering around dynamic producers who are making terroir driven dry wines. Samuel Tinon is at the forefront of this movement. He was born in France but settled in the area with his family believing that the region is capable producing wines that rival Burgundy and Bordeaux in quality and complexity. This vineyard’s soils are comprised of 15-million year old volcanic obsidian with clay and limestone intermixed. The vine density is 10,000 plants per hectare which forces the vines roots to dig deep into the bedrock and really express the terroir. The Furmint vines are 90 years old and have never been treated with pesticides. This wine is great for lovers of French Chenin Blanc or Premier Cru Chablis, it is focused and mineral-driven with power but also great elegance and unique savory notes.
Hárslevelű, Lonyai, Kikelet, 2017, Tokaji
Hárslevelű (HARSH-lehveh-LOO) means “linden leaf.” It is used as a minor blending component in the sweet wines of Tokaji as it is treasured for its perfume and high-toned fruit. The potential of Hárslevelű as a stand-alone dry wine is beginning to be explored and people are taking notice! Stéphanie Berecz (like Samuel Tinon) is a French native who eventually settled with her husband in the village of Tarcal where his family has lived for over 200 years. Stéphanie always manages to bring out the mineral character in her white wines which helps to balance the floral notes and intense aromas of lime and orchard fruits. The dry wine is unctuous at first with ripe pear and spice. The palate shows a lovely minerality and balancing lift and brightness.
Kékfrankos, Heiman & Fiai, 2018, Szekszárd
The Heiman family settled in southern Hungary in 1758 and brought their winemaking expertise with them, having come from Swabia in southern Germany. This wine hails from the Szekszárd region of Southern Hungary which is characterized by its warm summers and loess soils. Kékfrankos, also known as Blaufränkisch, was once widely planted in Hungary, but almost became extinct under Communism. The wine ferments in a mix of neutral oak and stainless steel with 25% whole bunches. The whole bunch fermentation provides both fresh fruity notes as well as savory spice. It smells of raspberries and strawberries with earthy notes and hints of tobacco. The balance of primary and secondary flavors is amazing fro such a young wine.