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Dec 20, 2007 06:09 PM

Favorite Boutique French Wines?

Would love to hear your experience with small production wines from France including Organic & Biodynamic wines. I would love to expand my collection. Cheers!

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  1. Two I love, among many:

    Barmes-Buecher: Biodynamic Alsatian grower; finely crafted, traditionally styled wines
    Francois Chidaine: Biodynamic Loire producer; razor-sharp Vouvray and Montlouis

    6 Replies
    1. re: chefdilettante

      I am surprised to read that Barmes Buecher's wines are thought of as traditionally styled. I had always thought of Alsace wines to be vinified dry. As you know, many of Barmes Buecher's offerings are off-dry. Is this traditional?

      1. re: FrankJBN

        Chidaine (Loire)
        Clos Marie (Languedoc)
        Domaine de Montille (Burgundy)
        Roland Schmitt (Alsace)
        Falfas (Bordeaux)

        1. re: FrankJBN

          I agree with you, Frank, that many consider the archetypal Alsatian wines, esp Riesling, to be bone dry, e.g. Trimbach's grand cru wines. There's a good amount of variability; wines of grands cru like Bebleheim and Brand in Turckheim are generally riper, and richer styled. Most would consider Weinbach to be traditionally styled, and I've never thought of the Fallers as making austere wines. Even in Barmes-Buecher's line-up there's variability. The rieslings, esp the Hengst bottlings, tend to be drier than the Gewurtz or their Pinot gris. And let's not forget the great traditions of vendages tardive and selection de grain nobles. IMHO, it's an overgeneralization to think of all Alsatian wines as dry.

          1. re: chefdilettante

            I don't know anyone who knows wines to think of "all" Alsatian wines as dry.

            As you note, there are many who think of Alsatian wines as traditionally finished dry (and writers who describe them as such) , other than Vendage Tardive and SGN wines.

            Although "Y" exists, I don't think it is an over-generalization to think of Sauternes as a dessert wine nor to think of white Bordeaux as dry regardless of Sauternes

            What do you mean by traditionally styled?

            1. re: FrankJBN

              FWIW, Château Yquem roduces two wines for commercial sale" One, Château d'Yquem, is a Sauternes (i.e.: it is produced under the regulations which govern the "appellation Sauternes contrôlée"). Ygrec, or "Château "Y," is NOT a Sauternes (i.e.: it is labeled "appellation Bordeaux contrôlée").

              Sauternes, by the definition of the appellation, must be sweet. This is why Ygrec is not a Sauternes, but rather a Bordeaux Sec, a dry white Bordeaux.


              P.S. The name of the property itself is Château Yquem. The name of the fabled dessert wine made at that estate is Château d'Yquem.

          2. re: FrankJBN

            As you point out, Frank, *most* Alsatian wines are traditionally vinified dry, without residual sugar. The obvious exceptions are those labeled "Vendange Tardive" and "Sélection de Grains Nobles."

            EXCEPT that there are several producers who now DO make their "regular" wines with some residual sugar. Most notable among these is of course Zind-Humbrecht, but there are some others. (This is one of the reasons why ZH is not my favorite producer, although I do find their SGNs to be as fantastic as they are fantastically expensive.) ;^)


        2. Dard et Ribo is organic and they don't use sulphur in bottling. Which actually makes me reluctant to buy more, since I don't like the chances of getting secondary fermentation in the bottles.
          * 2005 Dard et Ribo Crozes-Hermitage - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage (11/2/2007)
          This stuff is Da Bomb! Actually, it some ways it's almost California-like with its fruit forwardness. But still strong acidity and nice structure. The tannins aren't too much. It's drinking well now. The local distributor says its all the rage in the Paris wine bars. Lots of bacon fat like northern Rhones and also violets, olive and some tobacco. Smooth, decent but not spectacular finish. Not something I can afford to drink every day but pretty nice. A Louis/Dressner import. (91 pts.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: SteveTimko

            The importer says Dard et Ribo now uses sulphur.

          2. Marc Kreydenweiss has property in Alsace and Nimes in the south. All of his wines are Biodynamic/Organic. From Alsace, look for his Andlau Riesling, Kritt Gewurtz, and the Moenchenburg (sp?) Grand Cru Pinot Blanc. From the south, the Ansata and Perriers are the best.

            1. In Alsace even Zind-Humbrecht is bio-dynamic. Many of the biggest French names are bio.

              Leroy and Daganau come to mind as does Chapoutier.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jock

                Loire Borgeuil: Cuvée Binette Domaine de la Chevalerie

              2. A handful of other bio-dynamic French producers, all excellent: Tissot from Arbois (incredible wines, perhaps a bit difficult to find); Domaine Viret in the Rhone; Pierre Plouzeau in the Loire.