Gattinara, Piemonte

Mauro Franchino, helped by his talented nephew Alberto Raviciotti, is producing distinctive Gattinara from 3 plots in some of the best vineyards in the appellation. 
100% Nebbiolo planted in the vineyards of Lurghe, Castelle and Guardia.  These vineyards offer very shallow, acidic soils derived from the decomposition of the porphyry of the alps. 
He crafts his wine in a very old cellar in the center of Gattinara, following traditional methods taught to him by his father. 
Mauro is a skilled artisan with a reverence for his land and its viticultural traditions and combines his experience in viticulture and winemaking along with a great palate to interpret the best from every vintage.

Wines available:
Gattinara DOCG
Gattinara Riserva DOCG

Domaine Vaquer
Tresserre, Roussillon

Lyle Railsback, France+Western Importer: "Sometimes the best things happen by accident. And so it was with reconnecting with Frédérique Vaquer and her delicious, high-elevation Roussillon masterpieces.

Located in the Pyrenees mountain town of Tresserre at 650 feet elevation, from Domaine Vacquer you can see down to Collioure and the Mediterranean sea. The vicious Tramontane wind of the region whips through Frédérique’s garrique-covered vines, including old plantings of Carignan, planted just after WWII en gobelet (bush vines planted close to the ground) and worked without machines, only by hand.

As in Collioure and across the border in Spanish Catalonia, Rancio-style Rivesaltes is the more historical wine of this area, which is often compared to Vin Jaune of the Jura, aging sous voile to protect it from total oxidation. While a small amount of textbook solera Rivesaltes is still made at the Domaine Vaquer, since Frédérique studied in Burgundy she is consequently fixated on terroir-revealing elegant reds and dry, saline whites with a remarkable sense of precision beyond what you'd expect from the region.

Her new releases are brimming with energy, and with our US allocation she has generously agreed to part with some library bottles from her cellar that show the incredible aging potential of her terroir, so we will have several cases of 1985 and 1986 to offer this year. We shared a bottle of her 1985 Rouge at Bistrot Paul Bert in Paris and I would have believed that it was an older Vieux Télégraphe from a great vintage with pristine provenance."

Wines avaialable:
Côtes de Roussillon Blanc
Cuvée Bernard Vaquer
2017 Côtes de Roussillon
2013 Côtes de Roussillon
1986 Côtes de Roussillon
1985 Côtes de Roussillon

Florence & François Bachelier
Villy, Chablis, Burgundy

Lyle Railsback, France+Western Importer: "Florence and François. A love story for the ages. And Chablis. A wine that like the best of stories can take a while to unfold.

The fourteen years that I spent working for other US importers of French wine were my greatest education in the wine trade, and I will be forever grateful for all the opportunities they gave me over those years, particularly when it comes to the wines of Chablis.

The first wine that one of my mentors ever tasted and ordered in France was a Chablis-- specifically the 1973 vintage from Maurice Fèvre, and long before he discovered François Raveneau who was later described in one of his early newsletters as "coldhearted," and "the crusty old misanthrope" who would only sell his Premier Cru Chablis to the U.S. before eventually offering some Grand Cru Valmur.

Raveneau also played an early role in my wine career as I was lucky to discover it during my retail days in Portland, Oregon (back when you could actually buy a few bottles). It was the Chablis that introduced me to Chablis. At the time I never dreamed that I would someday visit the cellars of Raveneau, later get to know Isabelle and her father Bernard (François' son), and then actually import some Chablis of my own finding one day.

In the spirit of my adventure in Chablis, I am super excited to now introduce the Chablis from Florence and François Bachelier to our shores. Florence is a cousin to another producer I used to work with in Chablis, and with her husband François they are 8th generation farmers of eighteen hectares in Villy. Most of their vines are over 60-year-old vines -- and included in their modest holdings is a tiny slice of the Chablis Premier Cru "Les Fourneaux." Their old-vine and Premier Cru bottlings are aged in mostly old barrels, while their textbook AOC Chablis is aged exclusively in tanks.

Given the short yields in 2021 they are only releasing a small amount of 2020 and 2019 now, holding back some cases to have something to sell next year. We are loading the entirety of our allocation from these two vintages onto a container as soon as possible, so please sign up for our newsletter to be advised of their arrival."

Wines available:
Chablis Premier Cru "Les Fourneaux"
Chablis Vieilles Vignes

Jean-François Jacouton
Saint Joseph, Northern Rhône 

Lyle Railsback, France+Western Importer: "My heartfelt thanks to Jean Gonon, who with his brother Pierre has turned the Saint-Joseph appellation on its head, and who is one of the most joyful vignerons I’ve met in France. Jean was kind enough to introduce me to some new names in St Joseph, who this past April I met with and tasted. Of them, one stood out as the clear winner, and whose work we are thrilled to introduce in America: Jean-François Jacouton.

As a young boy, Jean-François worked alongside his grandfather, in their family parcels in the Saint Joseph lieu-dit Sainte Epine (just above Raymond Trollat's legendary old vines which now go into Gonon’s Vieilles Vignes bottling) in the village of Saint-Jean-de-Muzols. Jean-François fully took over the family vineyards in 2003, while also working in Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Savoie, and then began Domaine-bottling in 2010. His Saint Joseph holdings include older vines (in lieux-dits Les Goutelles, Verset Est Paradis, and Tinal) that produce a stunningly dense Saint Joseph Rouge he labels Pierres d'Isserand. Farming lutte raisonnée with horses and hand plowing, Jean-François is a true vigneron, spending almost all of his time in the vines. He is also reconstructing some of the old stone terraces that went to forests after phylloxera, similar to what Thierry Allemand is doing in the Chaillot terraces of Cornas.

Jacouton also still farms apricots, cherries, and peaches (which has been the history in this region with Verset, Chave, and others) so beneficially his wine cellar is an old fruit warehouse on the granite plateau above the vines. The temperature of this cellar can be dropped to zero degrees Celcius, allowing him to work with lower levels of SO2 while maintaining cleanliness and precision. His vinification and aging is in cement, amphora, demi-muids, and larger foudres, and done parcel by parcel using only 15-25% new wood so the whites are sexy and polished but still show restraint (a tiny production of Condrieu being in the earlier-harvested school of raciness and minerality), the reds are classic and old-school but also clean and precise, the older vines having more density, chewiness (also with greater inclusion of whole bunches) and ageability. His entry-level IGP cuvées come from lieux-dits above Vion (the red at 120m-390 meters and whites up to 428 meters of elevation) and might be the best value wines I have tasted from the region."

Wines avaialble:
IGP Collines Rhodaniennes Blanc "Cuvée Granit"
Saint Peray Blanc
St Joseph Blanc "Souvenir d'André"
IGP Ardeche Rouge "Cuvée A Deux Pas"
St Joseph Rouge "Sortilège"
St Joseph Rouge "Pierre d'Isserand"

Domaine Justin Boxler
Niedermorschwihr, Alsace

Lyle Railsback, France+Western Importer: "Since the Robert Chadderdon era, our knowledge of the fabled Boxler estate was through the wines that Jean Boxler is now producing under his grandfather Albert’s label. For me, they have always been the standard bearer for the Great Wines of Alsace. During our last visit to Champagne, I fortuitously met Jean’s cousins Charlotte and Florent, who are now farming their allotment of the family inheritance, and making their own equally delicious wines. Bottling under their grandfather’s label, DOMAINE JUSTIN BOXLER, their wines offer a fresh take on this legendary place, and I am honored to introduce them in the US later this year.

Blessed with holdings in the Grand Crus Brand, Wineck-Schlossberg, and Sommerberg, along with lieu dit Pfoeller and other parcels in Niedermorschwihr, their approach is of the drier more old-school style (think Léonard Humbrecht or Théo Faller in the 1970s) but still full-flavored, tightly-wound and indicative of serious time spent in the vines. Another A-list vigneron in Alsace told me that he thought they were doing some of the best work among the younger generation, and after tasting through several recent vintages I am in full agreement with the work being done here.

The move to organic farming was ten years ago and with this coming 2022 harvest, they will be certified organic. Given the recent change in leadership and their relatively unknown status in France, the price of their wines is extremely attractive given such a high level of quality. While I can’t promise it will remain this way for long, I am honored to now represent them exclusively in the United States, and we will begin with a small allocation that arrives in New York this fall."

Wines available:
Jardin des Vignes
Pinot Auxerrois
Riesling Lieu-dit Pfoeller
Riesling Grand Cru Sommerberg
Riesling Grand Cru Brand
Pinot Gris Grand Cru Sommerberg
Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Wineck-Schlossberg