Roque Colombe (Region: Chateauneuf du Pape): Beautifully situated vineyards slightly northeast of the village (and directly south of the vineyards of Chateau Rayas) which produce very elegant and perfectly balanced Chateauneuf du Papes. The expressiveness and elegance of their wines is from a broad variety of soil types in the vineyards which include sandy soils, sandstone, terraces of river stones, marls, limestone, and "safres" - a locally unique terroir of compacted sand which adds balance and minerality to their wines.
Domaine des Capes (Region: Gigondas): The Daniel family has grown grapes in the area since 1753. Their Gigondas vineyards are located in my favorite part of the appellation in the upper valley between the "capes" of the two Dentelles de Montmirail that are above the village. The rockier soils in this area are full of minerals which produce the rich deep flavors in their wines.
Domaine de la Cheneraie (Region: Beaumes de Venise): Perfectly located south facing vineyards above the village produce an incredibly rich wine. The Domaine's name is from the truffle oaks that once bordered the vineyards (chene means oak in French). Although there are not truffles in the wine, there is a little "something extra" as on my first tasting I recognized the Cote Rotie hints and then verified that they do add some Viognier to the blend each year.
Passe Colline (Region: Ventoux): Very delightful vineyards in the Ventoux appellation which produce very food friendly, perfectly balanced, and minerally "GSM" red blends (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre).
Legende des Toques Cotes du Rhone (Region: Southern Rhone): An interesting consortium of leading "cusiniers" of France choose the blend for this very food friendly Cotes du Rhone each year.
Heritage Cotes du Rhone (Region: Southern Rhone): All of our wines are wonderful expressions of their local "terroir" but this goes further with expressing the long traditions and heritage of the Southern Rhone. This is a special "cuvee" produced each year by a collaboration of family vignerons whose vineyards are mainly on the minerally slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The result is a rich, deeply flavored, and food friendly wine that follows the traditions of local wines that have been enjoyed for centuries in this area.
Domaine Pierre Ravaut (Region: Burgundy): This was another fun and unexpected surprise as I didn't originally intend to import any wines from Burgundy given how many Burgundy wines are exported to the U.S. But, I love visiting Burgundy and so I planned to spend the night in Aloxe-Corton while on my way from Alsace to the Southern Rhone. On my way to dinner in Ladoix, I also noticed the sign of a local vigneron (Pierre Ravaut) on the wall of his Domaine and then also saw some of his wines offered by the glass at the local restaurant I selected that night. All of the Ravaut wines I tasted that night were really well made (and delicious too!) and so I visited the Domaine the next morning. The reality of Burgundy, however, is that there is also a pretty limited supply of wine. Pierre seemed amused at my attempts to speak French, however, and enjoyed talking about wine and so he graciously offered to let me import some of his wines.
Vignoble Angst (Region: Chablis): Vignerons are unfortunately full of angst each year about their vignobles (the places where those noble grapes are grown!), particularly in Chablis with its annual bouts with the two G-forces of gelee (frost) and grele (hail). This is an example of double Angst, however, with the talented team of Antoine & Celine Angst producing beautifully balanced and expressive wines such as their Premier Cru Cote de Jouan, AOC Chablis, and a Bourgogne Blanc each year.
Domaine de l'Oriel (Region: Alsace): This Domaine has vineyards in three of the more prominent Alsatian Grand Cru sites (Sommerberg, Brand, and Florimont) that are in a valley to the west of Colmar. Their very minerally and crisp Grand Cru Rieslings are heavenly and the Domaine also produces very good Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Silvaner, and the local specialty Edelzwicker each year.
Chateau Moulin Rouge (Region: Bordeaux - Haut Medoc): This mid-peninsula "left bank" chateau produces beautifully balanced, supple, and food friendly Bordeaux blends each year.
Chateau La Mothe du Barry (Region: Bordeaux - Entre Deux Mers): The very talented and meticulous vigneron Joel Duffau produces very fully flavored and perfectly balanced Bordeaux blends each year from his organically farmed vineyards that have been owned by his family for over 300 years. Located only six miles from St. Emilion, this Chateau is producing top quality "right bank" wines each year but which are great values at only a fraction of typical St. Emilion prices.
Chateau Ponzac (Region: Cahors): Beautiful hilltop vineyards west of Cahors produce one of the most pure expressions of Malbec that I have ever tasted. The very creative viticulturalist and vigneron team of Matthieu and Virginie Molinie blend their separately vinified parcels of Malbec each year into wines that you can enjoy either "maintenant" or well into the future.
Vignerons du Quercy (Region: Coteaux de Quercy): This is very interesting area about 20 miles south of Cahors where its limestone plateau is a great place for growing Cabernet Franc. Other Bordeaux varietals can also be used in each year's blends but overall this area provides a very interesting expression of Cabernet Franc and I've selected two reds and also a very delightful rose.
Southwest France (Regions: Cahors and Gaillac): I've selected two very good Malbecs that are produced by a consortium of Cahors area vignerons from their older "vieilles vignes" vineyards, a white wine from Gaillac, L'Infini, that is made from an indigenous local white grape from the region (Loin de l'Oeil), and a fun red blend that is made from seven local indigenous grapes.
Domaine de Bel Air (Region: Loire - Pouilly sur Loire): In my search for interesting native varietals, I found an excellent and very minerally Chasselas from this producer in the Upper Loire. The village of Pouilly sur Loire is not as well known as the town of Sancerre which is about five miles to the northwest and on the opposite side of the river but, in my opinion produces, the village produces better wines from its better vineyard locations on the north side of the Loire. Aside from Chasselas, however, Sauvignon Blanc is by far the dominant varietal in the area and I have also selected an excellent (and very small production) Pouilly Fume from this producer.
Chateau de Brissac (Region: Loire - Brissac): I selected a special cuvee from this producer that is one of the most interesting Loire Valley Cabernet Francs that I have ever tasted. Rich with minerals and balanced with perfect tannins, this is a very food friendly wine.
Famille Mahieu (Region: Loire - Vouvray): I've selected a delightful and very food friendly "demi-sec" Vouvray from this producer whose family has been farming their mineral rich Vouvray vineyards for over 200 years.