Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier



It should come as no surprise to regular readers that more and more over the past several years, we’ve come to prefer the wines of small batch, artisanal French producers here at Gang Central. We like to refer to them as “real wine,” because they’re just that. No technical gimmickry goes into making them, and most if not all are produced through sustainable, organic or biodynamic farming. We’re especially fond of those imported by Louis/Dressner and Kermit Lynch, but recently, we’ve come upon a few others bringing in interesting things as well. Here are our impressions of 19 wines we’ve enjoyed recently, several of which have become favorites of ours from previous vintages. We start with two Chardonnays done the way we think Chardonnay ought to be done.


2006 Jean Manciat Mâcon-Charnay Franclieu2006 Jean Manciat Mâcon-Charnay Franclieu, 14.5%, $19.99: Medium straw to pale gold in color; the stony yellow apple and citrus nose leads into more of the same on the palate; rich, with excellent cut and intensity, and like previous vintages, the mineral comes to the fore as it opens in the glass. Like the following Roally Macon Vire-Clesse, this is our kind of Chardonnay. Find this wine

Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

2005 Domaine de Roally Macon Vire-Clesse, 13.5% alc., $24.99: Clean medium straw color, with almost Champagne-like chalky green apple and pear flavors and aromas underscored with just a hint of a yeasty quality; medium full to full bodied, with good cut, weight and length. The minerality and fruit strike a fine balance here, making for as good a version of this wine as we can remember, and we’ve been fond of this label for more than a few vintages now. Find this wine

Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

We’ve become very fond of Gamay over the past five or six years, and while it’s grown in other regions (see the superb selection below from Touraine), it all starts with Beaujolais. Here are 6 selections from 3 of the finest producers, but note that they are not all made from that oft maligned variety.

2007 Domaine des Terres Dorées/J.P. Brun Beaujolais l'Ancien Vieilles Vignes2007 Domaine des Terres Dorees/J.P. Brun Beaujolais l'Ancien Vieilles Vignes, 12% alc., $18.49: Clean ruby red color, with black cherry and raspberry on the nose (not quite as pronounced, or as earthy as the 2007 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Cuvee Gamay, which we tasted on the same occasion, but that’s not to say it doesn’t show a sense of place); on the palate, it offers cranberry, under-ripe cherry and even a bit of beet root. Medium to medium full bodied, and seems to have the structure for 2, 3 or maybe even 5 years of development. We like Brun’s wines a lot. They are totally devoid of guile, pretense or artifice. Find this wine

2007 Domaine des Terres Dorées/J.P. Brun Beaujolais Blanc (Chardonnay), 12% alc., $18.49: Medium straw color, with not much on the nose at first; flavors of yellow apple and pear, rich and moderately ripe, with good minerality and a note of fig. Medium full bodied, with good viscosity and acids, and as it opens in the glass, a hint of banana emerges. This is an interesting take on Chardonnay. It likes air and doesn’t want too much of a chill. Find this wine

Domaine des Terres Dorées/J.P. Brun FRV 100 de Jean-Paul Brun Vin Mousseaux Aromatique de Qualité (Medium Dry) NV, 7.5% alc., $22.99: Salmon pink, with good mousse and fine, very active bead; bright raspberry, strawberry, cherry and subtle mineral flavors aren’t terribly complex, but they are delightful. Almost comes off as sweet, but it’s not really. Gamay bubbly; it tastes like it, and like it I do! Find this wine

Domaine des Terres Dorées/J.P. Brun imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

2006 Domaine Louis-Claude Desvignes Morgon Côte-du-Py2006 Domaine Louis-Claude Desvignes Morgon Côte-du-Py, 13% alc., $26.99: The dark side of Beaujolais; good dark color and not giving much on the nose. Earthy black cherry flavors are actually more earth than fruit at this point, being medium full bodied, with solid structure for a minimum of 3 to 5 years in the cellar. Air helps this some, but there’s no substitute for bottle age, which somewhat diffuses my disappointment, given the producers reputation. All about promise right now, so be patient. Find this wine

2007 Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 12.5% alc., $29.99: Ruby red color, with aromatics of perfumed cherry; a little less forceful on the palate, with cherry, cranberry and pomegranate shaded by subtle smoke and earthy undertones. Medium bodied and very smooth in the mouth; rich, yet almost delicate, and what initially seems like moderate structure may be deceptive, as this should age and develop for 3 to 5 years, if not longer. Find this wine

2005 Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 13% alc., $25.99: Slightly darker in color than the ’07, and a little fuller as well; otherwise, it shows the same basic flavor profile as the younger wine, with a little funk on the nose and some added pepper in the mouth. There’s still good structure here, so while it’s in no danger of fading any time soon, it’s drinking quite well right now and over at least the next 3 or 3 years. Find this wine

Domaine Louis-Claude Desvignes & Guy Breton imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA


Here are wines from 3 producers from the Loire Valley that only hint at the diversity of varieties produced throughout the many appellations of that great region.

2007 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie, 12% alc., $14.99: Pale to medium straw color, with a pleasant melon (no pun intended) and green apple nose that gains a decidedly mineral-based character in the mouth, along with a note of star fruit and a splash of rainwater. More than medium bodied, with the requisite racy acidity. Rich and austere at the same time, and very stony in character, which is the hallmark of any good Muscadet Sèvre & Maine, and this is very good Muscadet Sèvre & Maine and then some. Find this wine

Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

2007 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Cuvee Gamay2007 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Cuvee Gamay, 12% alc. $19.99: Pretty ruby red color, with an earthy black cherry nose; the pretty, almost perfumed flavors echo nicely, and while it’s not exactly ripe and certainly not sweet, there’s a nice, rich core of earthy fruit here. Medium bodied and structured to go for at least a few more years, but much longer? A nice expression of the Gamay experience and a good wine for a bird on the grill. Find this wine

Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

Couly Dutheil Chinon is brought into our area by our good friends at Wines of Distinction/ J & J Importers, and based on brief, but very favorable impressions at a trade tasting a while back, we brought these home to explore further.

2005 Couly Dutheil Chinon Baronnie Madeleine, 15% alc., $17.99: Clean dark color, with earthy, spicy black currant and blackberry flavors and aromas underscored with herbal underbrush. Medium full to full bodied, with big structure; approachable now, but really needs some time in the cellar to be at its best. Try again in 5 years to see where it’s at. Find this wine

2005 Couly Dutheil Chinon Clos de l'Echo2005 Couly Dutheil Chinon Clos de l'Echo, 15% alc., $22.99: Dense and dark in color, almost opaque; just a big dark mouthful of black currant, blackberry, earth and underbrush, with a little coffee and toast creeping in with extended air. Even a few hours in a decanter barely makes a dent in the big, backward character of this wine. Full bodied, with 10 years worth of structure and more, and while it’s not unapproachable, patience is recommended here. Find this wine

Couly Dutheil Chinon imported by J & J Importers, LLC, Bloomfield Hills, MI

We’ve been fans of Chateau d’Oupia for longer than Gang of Pour has been online, and that’s a little over 12 years. Here are the three current offerings from that venerable producer that are available to us.

2007 Chateau d’Oupia Les Heretiques Vin de Pays de l'Herault, 12.5% alc., $11.49: Clean dark garnet color, with a pretty mélange of black berries on the nose that flesh out on the palate to include earthy blackberry, mulberry and black currant. Medium full to full bodied, with good structure and length. Has the guts to cellar for a few years, but already friendly to food and casual drinkers alike. Nothing flashy, just a solid, unpretentious southwestern French red. Find this wine

2007 Chateau d’Oupia Minervois Tradition2007 Chateau d’Oupia Minervois Tradition, 13% alc., $14.99: Not quite inky in color, with pretty black plum, blackberry and black currant aromatics, all of which follows through harmoniously on the palate, but like the last one we reported, it has lost the signature black olive component that it once had only a few vintages back. Medium full to full bodied, with good structure and length, and like Les Heretiques, straightforward and unpretentious, only with more charm. Find this wine

2006 Chateau d’Oupia Minervois Les Barons, 13.5% alc., $27.99: Deep, dark color, with a black currant, blackberry and black olive bouquet accented with a subtle overlay of cedar and saddle leather. Flavors echo, and this has maintained a consistent personality over the years, but it’s pretty tight right now. Full bodied, sleek and silky, with excellent balance and structure. Give it 3 to 5 years in the cellar, than come back to it and see what you have. Past experience suggests that you’ll have a beauty. Find this wine

Chateau d’Oupia imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York, NY

We first tried the following three wines last spring with United Estates Wine Imports, Ltd. honcho Patrick Allen, and like some others from his portfolio, we liked them so well, we bought some and brought them home.

2006 Chateau Virgile Costieres de Nimes Blanc, Marsanne 45%, Roussanne 45%, Viognier 10%, 13.5% alc., $7.99: We went through a case and a half or more of this, and at a closeout price of under $8 a bottle, we should have bought more before it sold out. Clean medium straw in color, with stony mineral, green melon, peach, and yellow apple flavors and aromas accented with a hint of citrus; rich, but not too ripe, medium full bodied, with good cut and length. This makes a nice pairing with pan fried tilapia, as well as a variety of other fish and foul dishes. It’s also serves well as a fine aperitif. Find this wine

2006 Domaine Camp-Galhan VDP Duche d'Uzes Blanc Amanlie, 80% Viognier, 20% Roussanne, 12-14% alc., $15.49: Medium straw color; shows the higher tones of the Viognier anchored by the Roussanne, with ripe apple, pear, melon and citrus flavors and aromas, all underscored with a note of lanolin. Rich and smooth textured, with good density, acids and length. No weak points; it’s all good and works well with a nice cut of pan fried halibut. Find this wine

2003 Mas Des Brunes Cotes de Thongue Cuvee des Cigales2003 Mas Des Brunes Cotes de Thongue Cuvee des Cigales, 60% Syrah, 40%Grenache, 13% alc., $15.49: Here’s another one we went through more than a case of, and we loved every bottle. Good dark color, with just a hint of the barnyard on the nose when first poured, then plenty of earthy black fruit and underbrush with just a little air. Plenty more of the same in the mouth, accented with hints of licorice and violet, being rich, but dry. Full bodied, well structured, balanced and very food friendly, especially with grilled red meats, and like so many, it opens beautifully with air. This is drinking well now, but we should have saved a few bottles, because it’s probably a 10 year wine. Find this wine

Imported by USA Wine Imports, Inc., New York, NY


Champagne J. M. Gobillard et Fils Brut Tradition NV, 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Pinot Meunier; Dosage: 8-9 g/l. Aged for at least 2 years in cellar, 12% alc., $36.99: We’ve been following this wine’s progress for a year and a half now, and it just keeps getting better. Medium straw color, with ample mousse and fine active bead; it features a stony minerality over rich, under-ripe yellow apple shaded with notes of smoke and matchstick. Medium full bodied, with excellent acids and great length. Yumm! Find this wine

Imported by Grape Expectations Wine Imports, Inc., Raleigh, NC



Reporting from Day-twah,

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© George Heritier March, 2009