Château de Montfaucon Rhône Valley
What do you get when you combine a historic Rhône Valley winery that boasts 100-year old vines and an owner who studied wine making in France, Australia and California? That's easy - you get Rudi Le Pin and a bunch of crazy good wines with loads of personality, character and complexity. The history of Château de Montfaucon dates back to the 11th Century when the castle's first tower was built. The castle winery was built in 1520 where all the wine was made until 1936. Today, there is a completely remodeled winery but Rudi still uses the old vaulted cellar for barrel aging his top reds. This year Rudi purchased a small Clairette vineyard not far from his winery. Here's the really cool part - this vineyard was planted circa 1872. Have you ever seen a gnarly old vine like this almost 150 years old? The elderly woman who owned the vineyard wanted Rudi to have it because she knew all too well how passionate he is about his craft. So gush all you want about the pompous lads across the river in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But unless you're prepared to spend upwards of $75 and more, you might want to keep an eye on Château de Montfaucon - the quality is state-of-the-art; the prices are a flat out bargain!
Château du Coing Loire Valley Muscadet France
With big importers like Kermit Lynch constantly on the hunt for premium French wines, it’s great fun for little guys like us to sneak a high-caliber property in under the radar from time to time. Château du Coing boasts 100+-year old vines and some of the best Muscadets in the Loire Valley. We couldn't be more thrilled to serve as Château du Coing's west coast importer. With its dry, mineral style and kickin' acidity it's no wonder that locals call for Muscadet when a plate of fresh oysters hit the table. It is certainly one of the finest food pairing wines on the planet and for under $15, we think you'll be hard-pressed to find a tastier appetizer or seafood complement. Zippy with mouth-puckering acidity and a finish that I would call similar to a dry, Brut style like you find in sparkling wine, Muscadet is not sweet though it is often confused with the grape called Muscat that certainly is. Try this dry, white wine full Granny Smith apple flavors and a freshness that delivers big time with good cheeses, seafood and all kinds of cool appetizers.
Domaine de la Verpaille Mâconnais France
When you find a producer making gorgeous Chardonnay from a crazy old vineyard planted around 1910 in southern Burgundy, you can't help but stutter and ask for more. Such was the case when we met Baptiste Philippe in the early spring of 2016 on a hunt for affordable Chardonnay that would knock us off our feet. Mission accomplished! After tasting Baptiste's amazing, old world Chardonnay, we were absolutely floored. Baptiste works his ancient vineyard meticulously and with a focus on producing natural, organically farmed vines. He and his wife, Estelle, are passive in the cellar and allow for a slow fermentation with native yeasts without stirring the lees in order to keep a fresh and mineral style. This stunning chardonnay sees no oak at all - only stainless steel - can I hear an amen? It's crisp, bright and floral. The richness of ripe stone fruit and apple bring you in while great acidity keeps it all quenched up. This is tasty, balanced white Burgundy at a super price. But you should know that Baptiste's ancient vineyard only produces around 300 cases of wine. So, there isn't a whole lot of this to go around. We have been allocated only 50 cases of the 2014 vintage for the entire west coast. Enough said!
Domaine Rosier Limoux Sparkling Wine France
If you're a champagne lover it might surprise you to learn that the first true champagne was made in a place more than 550 miles to the south. In a small town called Limoux tucked up next to the Pyrenees in southwestern France, folklore claims that a Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon was taught how to make sparkling wine by his fellow brethren. In these parts, sparkling wine is known as Blanquette de Limoux and the men of the cloth began making bubbles here in 1531 - a long time before the Champagne region anointed itself as the king of sparkling wine. Blanquette is made using the Methode Champenoise method just like Champagne, but in Limoux, the grape known as Mauzac holds center stage and is often blended with small portions of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The wine is typically made in a dry, Brut style showing off flavors of ripe Granny Smith apples. Popping the cork will get you feeling pretty festive and when you find out it only costs $15, you'll feel like you just got bumped up to first class and a very tasty ride.
Domaine Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé Loire Valley France
What is important to know about Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is that Sancerre is not the only game in town. There are additional vineyards just up the river grown in the beautiful hills of Pouilly-sur-Loire on the same soil compositions. These vineyards produce "the other" Loire Sauvignon Blanc known as Pouilly-Fumé and for us, we get the best of both worlds because Annick Tinel-Blondelet crafts delicious Sauvignon Blanc from both locales. Annick's Fumé is something special made from the highly acclaimed vineyard called Arrêt Buffatte with vines approximately 50 years old. But still, it's not unusual to hear aficionados claim that only Sancerre can bring out the vibrantly crisp and mineral personality so unique to Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. But after working with Annick, I can't help but call BS on this notion because the Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé is a lovely terroirs-driven Sauvignon Blanc that exudes the citrus, brisk acidity and firm minerality that SB's are known for from this region. And in fine Bloodhound Wines tradition, we bring it in for about half the price. Now that's what I'm talking about!
Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas France
Jean Baptiste Meunier is revving up the reputation of Gigondas by focusing on his relentless pursuit of quality. After taking over the family winery in 1988 he worked tirelessly in the vineyard to improve the quality of his twenty-five parcels. Most of the vines are 60-65 years old and some of the vineyard parcels are even older. Following a complete renovation of the cellar in 2003, the modern winery now exemplifies what state-of-the-art wine making is all about. Jean Baptiste makes two gorgeous wines that highlight the character and personality of old vine Grenache and Syrah from Gigondas. The "Tradition" is a blend of 80% old vine Grenache, 10% Cinsault and 10% Mourvedre. No longer hiding in the shadows of its more famous neighbor Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas is quietly making big strides toward its rightful place as a world-class wine.
Jean-Marc Burgaud Beaujolais Cru France
Jean-Marc Burgaud is exactly the kind of winemaker an importer hopes to meet along the way. He is a genuine and passionate sole, it doesn't take long to figure out Jean-Marc knows exactly what he's doing. You take your first sip and the perma-grin on your face continues long after the last bottle is gone. We're in Gamay country - Beaujolais, to be exact - and Jean-Marc is treating us to some stylish reds made from his Cru vineyards near the small town of Morgon. The great wines in this region are made from vineyards located in the hills of the 10 Beaujolais Crus. As Burgundy and Bordeaux have their Cru classifications, so does Beaujolais. These are delicious wines with all the complexity and seriousness that goes into great Burgundy. They're complex and extremely age-worthy. On a chilly afternoon in March 2016 we had the pleasure of tasting and hanging out with the extremely talented winemaker Jean-Marc Burgaud. He makes fantastic wine and most notably, he makes beautiful Morgon from his old vines on Côte du Py - the coveted hill that is Beaujolais' answer to Hermitage. These ancient soils of schist and granite impart deep flavors of cherry and plum to the old Gamay vines on Côte du Py famous for producing some of the best wines in the region. This wine absolutely blew me away and I'm thrilled to say we are now Jean-Marc's importer. Stunning reds. I promise!
Les Vignobles Foncalieu Languedoc France There is nothing we like more than to partner up with family producers whose winemaking goes back generations. But we also recognize that great wines are coming from many sources and that quality co-ops should not be overlooked. The wine world has never been more competitive than it is today so the old days of co-op mediocrity are mostly behind us. Foncalieu is a professional wine cooperative based near Carcassonne in southwestern France holding nearly 1100 hectares of vineyard property through southern France from the Spanish border to the Rhône Valley. They also produce artisan batches of ultra-premium wines from their best parcels and oldest vines so they know what competing in the wine market place is all about. For us, Foncalieu offers a unique partnership that allows us access to a host of different products at incredible prices as well as the opportunity to incorporate custom labels into our portfolio. The quality to price ratio offered by a wine like our Picpoul de Pinet is almost criminal but it's because of special relationships like we have with Foncalieu that we are we're able to import even better wines at better prices for our customers.
With big importers like Kermit Lynch constantly on the hunt for premium French wines, it's good fun for little guys like us to sneak a high-caliber property in under the radar from time to time....
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If you've got Champagne on your radar but are sick up to here with the high prices, I urge you to try Blanquette de Limoux from the region that started...
It's a sweet luxury when you work with a winemaker who does double duty between her vineyards in Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre crafting compelling wines from both. We've been singing high...
When my mouth begins to water just thinking about a wine, I know all the tasting and spitting was worth it! Tracking down the good stuff isn't easy but sitting...