Jean Thévenet - Domaine de la Bongran Viré-Clessé

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"The master of Mâcon." Robert Parker

Jean Thévenet’s family roots in the town of Viré in Mâconnais go back some five hundred years. His grandfather was among the first to suggest a special appellation for these two villages, Viré and Clessé that produce superior wines. The appellation of Viré-Clessé was finally approved and ironically Jean Thévenet was not included in the new superior appellation. The reason was that his ripe, rich and concentrated wines did not fit the mould of the prototypical Mâcon wine, and some suspect they were too highly praised by wine critics! 

Unlike many of his neighbours, Thévenet severely limits his yields to concentrate the juice of the grapes, and he picks the grapes very late and harvests by hand. This concentrated juice is fermented in low temperatures which take as long as one or two years developing tremendous complexity in his two hundred-year-old foudres (old, large oak barrels that can hold more than a thousand litre wine which imparts no flavour unlike new oak). Resulting rich, powerful Chardonnay wines are atypical of a region of Mâcon better known for light plonk wines. 

Although authorities claim that Jean Thévenet’s wines are atypical of this region, after extensive research he suggests that the old Mâcon Virés were made in almost exactly the same way as his own, similar levels of alcohol and sugar. “We are the ones upholding tradition” he claims. His wines indeed classics that can age for decades and comparable with the best Cote d’Or whites.

These are some of the few praises by prominent wine critics and writers;

Robert Parker

"... these are the wines of a genius ... Jean Thevenet makes the finest wine of the Maconnais region"

"I think, for my part, that these are the finest wines of Mâconnais. The Mâcon-Clessé of vintages 86, 89 and 90 have reached the level of a great vintage of the Côte-d’Or."

Neal Martin

"These wines are complex and fascinating, as age-worthy as many white Burgundy wines, perhaps even more so. Their high residual sugar levels are part of Thévenet's DNA, something that he believes is intrinsically related to terroir expression; on more than one visit he reminded me that historically wines from this region contained similar levels of sweetness. Prices remain a fraction of what you would have to pay for a top Côte de Beaune, and I cannot recommend these highly enough." 

Wine Spectator

“He's obsessed with quality and makes terrific, highly distinctive white Burgundy.” 

Bettane & Desseauve

“Jean Thévenet is the undisputed leader in quality in Mâconnais. Admittedly, it benefits Clessé 
a privileged microclimate, which allows him to harvest grapes enriched by noble rot and therefore
produce sweet wines or liquoreux absolutely amazing. But its simplest vintages already have the richness of constitution of a beautiful Pouilly-Fuissé and attest to the class of hillside lands. The new Viré-Clessé appellation is ridiculous by banning the production of wines with residual sugar and outlawing the most beautiful vintages produced on its territory. We are ashamed of the prestige of France.


Sources: Domaine de la Bongran, Bacchus and Me- Jay McInerney, Wine Advocate, Wine Searcher

Olivier Merlin

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“As I have suggested repeatedly in these pages, if you're not familiar with the Merlin wines, you owe it to yourself to try a few.” Allen Meadows, Burghound

Olivier Merlin is widely regarded as being one of the very finest winemakers in the Mâconnais.

He started his winemaking career in Napa Valley California where he spent two years before coming back to Mâcon and bought a 4,5 hectares vineyard which was in need of a serious makeover. Merlin uses a mix of new and old oak barrels both for ferment and ageing. 

Balance, purity, depth, harmony... four words to describe Merlin wines. 

His white and red wines come from the terroir of southern Burgundy, Mâconnais and Moulin a Vent in Beaujolais perfectly reveal the grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Gamay. 

His wines express the fruit, the aromatic richness, without hardness but with a lot of finesse and complexity. Domaine Olivier Merlin offer wines of character that always deliver an intense pleasure.

"He has established a reputation as one of the region’s most dynamic growers, a reference point for the Maconnais. The whites demonstrate Olivier's exceptional winemaking talents from lowly appellations. They are frequently taken for Côte d'Or wines if tasted blind. His Bourgogne Rouge is at its best after 2 to 3 years when the fruit expresses itself fully. "  Jasper Morris MW, author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.

“In Olivier Merlin we have one of the region’s most experienced and thoughtful vignerons, one whose wines are extremely well-priced.” Neal Martin

We are huge fans of Olivier Merlin’s wines – but our favourite by far is his Moulin a Vent ‘La Rochelle’ that you can find the great 2015 in our shop.

Agricola Punica Barrua 2013, "Sardinian Sassicaia", Reviewed by Monica Larner- Robert Parker

 Sebastiano Rosa, Agricola Punica

Sebastiano Rosa, Agricola Punica

This beautiful wine received 93 points. From the first sip, you feel it is made by the best winemakers. Great quality, price and pleasure ratio!    

93 points, Monica Larner- Robert Parker Wine Advocate - "Created by the same folks behind Tuscany's legendary Sassicaia, this is an all-Sardinian blend of 85% Carignano, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. The 2013 Barrua is a beautifully balanced and seamless expression with dark fruit aromas that flow effortlessly from the bouquet. Those tones of blackberry, prune and dried fig segue to spice, tar, licorice and black olive. This vintage really works in terms of the intensity and the precision of the bouquet. The tannins are integrated, and the wine is layered and long lasting. Some 125,000 bottles were produced." 29 December 2017, The Wine Advocate Issue 234

Matt Dees of Jonata

"...this is one of California’s most exciting new wineries. What they are accomplishing with Bordeaux varietals is mind-boggling….” Robert Parker, the Wine Advocate

From the owners of iconic Screaming Eagle, quite possibly California's next Cult Winery.



Here is the story...

Frédéric Engerer of Bordeaux’s Château Latour visits the property as a consultant, after seeing the sandy soil unlike other Santa Ynez vineyards the first-growth’s CEO tells them better off grow asparagus! Luckily they did not take his advise.

Known as prodigy of wine, Matt Dees was barely 25 years-old when he was hired at Jonata. Dees describes himself dirt geek, with a degree in soil science from the University of Vermont and winemaking experience gained at New Zealand’s Craggy Range and Napa Valley’s Staglin Family Vineyard. Dees is a winemaker who’s emotionally and intellectually connected to structure, texture and tannin and explores these elements deeply in his wines.

In 2007, only a few years after founded in 2004, Jonata wines received substantial critical acclaim from Robert Parker, Jeb Dunnuck, Antonio Galloni and Stephen Tanzer.

Nearly 242 hectares of Jonata, only the 33 hectares planted vine, is owned by the sports mogul Stan Kroenke who also owns the iconic Screaming Eagle. Estate was planted with a host of varieties that are rarely cultivated side-by-side, Bordeaux varieties, Syrah and Sangiovese.

Jonata is committed to sustainability. After several vintages, Dees and Vineyard Manager Solorzano began to suspect that the vines could be healthier if the entire property operated as a greater ecosystem. Jonata integrates and revolves livestock (chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs and sheep) in their farming model, which naturally enhances the soil and health of their land and absolutely no pesticides or herbicides are used on the estate. 

Charles Smith of K Vintners

"These latest releases from Charles Smith check in at the top of the pyramid and are flat out incredible wines that I wish every reader could taste." Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Advocate
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Charles Smith developed his taste for wine while he was touring Europe as a manager of a rock band. When he is back to US, on a pleasure trip visiting some of the state's top wineries, by chance, sits next to Frenchman Christophe Baron who makes Washington's outstanding Cayuse Syrahs, at a wine dinner. There was a click between them, Baron offers to give Smith grapes to get started making wine. After only a couple of vintages, his Syrahs were being recognised and finally his 2002 vintage was exceptional! 

His wines are not only recognised by their eccentric labels, but also by highly praised reviews by prominent wine critics. Smith was awarded the "Winemaker of the year 2009" and was the first receiving 100 points rating in Washington. 

He has a passion especially for Syrah and makes great wines for every occasion, every day and every moment.

Dave Phinney of Orin Swift

Robert Parker - “Orin Swift is the brainchild of a brilliant young man by the name of Dave Phinney"

Dave Phinney, the founder and winemaker of cult Orin Swift, is one of the great winemaking talents of our time. 

Robert Parker has raved of Phinney’s talents, saying;

“Orin Swift is the brainchild of a brilliant young man by the name of Dave Phinney. His Midas touch with grapes from seemingly anywhere in the world, is unusual, but the brilliance of the wines, his creativeness and unparalleled blending talents have built an incredible portfolio right out of the gate.” and goes on to say “Readers looking for personality filled wines of considerable character and complexity need to check out the Orin Swift offerings.”  “If you are like me and believe that a wine is to be judged on just how delicious it is, you will be as impressed as I have been with the Orin Swift products.” 

As well as a great winemaker, Dave Phinney, is a visually creative person whose aesthetic was shaped as a child by his parents, two professors who lived in different cities around the world, exposing him to a myriad of sights and cultures. He is the creator of all of his wines' labels.