On Wednesday July 17th 2013, we celebrated the Feast of Saint Thibualt at The Wine Company, our annual thank you to our restaurant and wine retail customers in Minnesota.

We drink, we eat, we raise glasses and toast with friends. Laughter and happiness emanate from our warehouse and patio all evening long and it makes for a wonderful time.

We also serve a tremendous variety of French wines (Saint Thibault being a French saint and all) from all the main regions: Champagne, Burgundy (Cote d’Or, Chablis, and Beaujolais), Rhone Valley, Loire Valley, and more. It’s a great way to show off many of the wines we are most proud of and spend a significant amount of energy bringing to Minnesota.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our Instagram photo recap of the evening.

So what were the standouts from the 2013 feast (besides Larry’s fabulous chicken thighs and pork ribs)? We asked our sales and management staff for their top picks from the dozens of wines we enjoyed, along with a few notes on why. If you are looking for any of these wines in particular feel free to contact us and we can lead you in the right direction.

Drouhin Chablis Reserve Vaudon

2009 Drouhin Chablis “Reserve de Vaudon”: a classic vintage from a great producer, 12 months in oak, bright yellow color, the aromas show some lemon with a touch of saltiness, a very balanced wine with wonderful acidity and minerality. – Mark Nordstrom

The wine that really sticks with me is Drouhin Vaudon “Reserve” Chablis.  I have long been an admirer of the delicacy and elegance of Veronique Drouhin’s winemaking and this wine is a perfect example.  Framed by Chablis’s classic minerality is bell clear, almost preserved lemon fruit that absolutely sings.  Plenty of cut and persistency to the finish make this a truly remarkable wine. – Deb Yanker-Black (DYB) 

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Perrin CDR Reserve

2010 Perrin Cotes du Rhone “Reserve”: 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre, dark red in color, a little spice in the nose with some red fruits, full and rich with good length,  perfect with grilled meats and poultry,   this is a great value!!! – Mark Nordstrom

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Darnaud Crozes Les Trois Chenes

I will say that in a sea of absolutely incredible wines I felt like the “over-performer” of the night was the 2010 Emmanuel Darnaud, Crozes Hermitage “Les Trois Chenes”.  This was simply a stunning bottle of Syrah showing off the fresh, black, spiciness of 2010 in the Northern Rhone. Surrounded by great wines costing 2-3 times more, I thought this showed like one of the screaming deals of the night. – Wil Bailey

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Les Froids Coteaux du Giennois

As usual I taste many favorites at St. Thibault because this French book is matchless and we pour so many exciting treats to thank you at St. Thibault but off the cuff I have to say just how excited I am by the newly discovered Les Froids by Hubert Veneau. It’s a Loire Sauvignon Blanc that is as fresh as the day is long with all the gunflint minerality and citrus we yearn to find in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé but because this is from the lesser known Côteau du Giennois it’s all the more affordable. Be that as it may it remains a taste of that terroir profile because it is an extension of the same hills. In a way this little white also sums up what The Wine Company is all about and has always been all about; in this case: getting to France, tasting through every corner eye-to-eye with the vignerons themselves, and bringing over the small and beautiful to spread the best wines we find without pricing any beyond rhyme or reason. We source wines personally; we sell them personally –and in ways that make sense for everyone along the way. It may be more work on our end but that’s where we find joy and how we provide wines one cannot find anywhere else. – Nicholas Livingston

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Mont Olivet Font des Blanches CRD

Who doesn’t want to drink Châteauneuf-du-Pape on a Côtes-du-Rhône budget? We want floral top notes above garrigue low notes. We love to find meat pan juices mixed up with all the ripe red fruit. Who doesn’t long for a finish that combines all this character with juniper scents and the fragrant scrubland herbs typically reserved for more expensive Châteauneuf-du-Pape or the Syrahs of the Northern Rhône? Judging with the glass in hand, Mont Olivet Font des Blanches Côtes-du-Rhône does just that. Fragrant Grenache is in the driver’s seat with a level headed Syrah as navigator and Cinsault is in the backseat to keep focus and lighten the mood.  Côtes-du-Rhône rouge like Mont Olivet Font des Blanches is a rara avis and sustainable to boot –and but another example of what remarkable wine is out there for those who seek the deliberate growers out there doing things right. – Nicholas Livingston

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Blanchet Cuvee Silice

I have always enjoyed the Sauvignon Blancs from Francis Blanchet.  The 2011 Pouily-Fume “Silices” is no exception.  Bell-tone purity and loads of Loire personality. – Jeff Nelson

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Grands Perrieres Sancerre VV

Grand Perrieres Sancerre “Vielles Vignes”: The older vines used seemed to provide this complex beautiful fruit quality I find very unique. The wonderful minerality that I expect to find in Sancerre is still very evident. This wine seemed to provide that thirst quenching quality that was very much appreciated by many on our very steamy day. Definately a crowd favorite! – Patty Douglas

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Gustave Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d Alsace Brut: First of all, I am super excited to have a few selections that provide some value from Alsace, and this wine is a great example! “Methode Champenoise” bubbles of this quality and this price, are a real gem to have in our book. The creaminess from the lees contact coats your mouth with lushness, and then you get this burst of bright mineral acidity. A second glass is a must! Our entire bubbles/Champagne selections that we offer, have to be the most complete selection available by any company around! – Patty Douglas

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’ Alsace Brut: this wine is straight up da bomb yo! I. Could see poundin this down all night long and just gettin jiggy with it.  Word. – Tom Lloyd

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace Brut: Aroma of brioche French toast with floral tones and citrus zest. Normandy apple and a great mineral chalk note. Finishing with a creamy Mousse mouthfeel. Refreshing, interesting, and engaging. A wonderful value, and a great wine.  – Jim Herrick

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Marc Hebrart Brut

Marc Herbrart Cuvee de Reserve Brut Champagne: Unintimidating bubbles showing dark fruit with a refreshing effervescence. Just another reason champagne should be enjoyed for the occasions of everyday life. This wine is not too serious, and neither should we be. – Robb Ksiazek

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Javillier Meursault Les Tillets

Javillier Meursault Les Tillets 2009: For no other reason than it is fabulous and timeless. It is everything it should be. Clean yet lingering, mineral yet creamy. I could go on… It was the first thing I tasted and the wine I kept re tasting. – Gina Borella

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Foreau Vouvray Brut

Foreau Vouvray Brut: Love, love, love. Always and forever! It has great minerality which good sparkling should have but the underlying earthy, kinda grungy edge is what gets me every time. – Gina Borella

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Carey Potet Aligote VV

2009 Carey Potet Aligotet VV: what a pleasant surprise!  While it’s not often that I taste Aligote, I surely don’t taste 4 year old Aligote, but this is still as fresh as a daisy!  Really nice high tones of lime citrus and kiwi, with a mid-palate of sorbet.  The finish is crisp and mineral, and really a nice wine from its price.  Plus, you can look cool with your friends who think they know everything about wine when you tell them White Burgundy isn’t always Chardonnay (or pricey to boot!). – Chris McDonnell

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Cauhape Jurancon Sec

2011 Cauhape Jurancon Sec “Chante des Vigtnes”: made primarily of Gros Manseng and Petite Manseng, this is flinty, nervy and really direct with lots of acidity, and downright refreshing (notes taken on a 95F day).  It would pair especially well with oysters, mussels or other foods that are fleshy, salty and fatty.  Delicious! – Chris McDonnell

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Gaillard Cote Rotie

2010 Pierre Gaillard Cote Rotie:  I had the unique honor to meet the man who made this wine (a wine I don’t usually get to drink much). He is a hulk of a man with hands as big as my head. Intimidated doesn’t even begin to describe my feeling. However, as he started to talk about his wine a genuine and soft tenor came over him and I saw a love and a gentleness that I have rarely experienced.  His wine is a mirror of the man. Powerful, capable of lasting through the harshness of the conditions but at its core, beautiful, gentle, and truly the very expression of Syrah and Cote Rotie. It is honor to drink this wine because it honors the place and the man who made it. Tom Lloyd

2010 Pierre Gaillard Cote Rotie: Floral notes with the aroma of coffee pepper crusted charred beef, with raspberry and craisin. An  earthy mushroom essence with a dark fruit bass note. Integrated tannin and structure, amazingly balanced. The best description of the structure of this wine would be if someone gave you a firm but comfortable handshake knowing they could crush you like a vise. – Jim Herrick

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Carillon Bourgogne Chardonnay

I spent a joyous chunk of the evening at St. Thibault pouring at the Burgundy table and I really enjoyed pairing two great whites…the Francois Carillon Bourgogne Chardonnay 2010 is plush and deep with that luscious hint of peach that makes you think of Puligny Montrachet – which is no coincidence because Carillon is one of the superstars of Puligny and 50% of the fruit in this “Bourgogne” is actually de-classified Estate grown fruit. A huge value. Paul Daggett

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Girardin Santenay Clos de Tavannes

Then I shared the Vincent Girardin Santenay “Clos de Tavannes” 2010 – lean, lithe and intense, with hyper-mineral scents and flavors of the ocean (fresh clean oyster juice!). Stimulating, bracing, and so appetizing…how could two French Chardonnay grown just a 20 minute hike apart be so wonderfully different?  – Paul Daggett

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Thibault Liger Belair Moulin a Vent VV

What happens when one of our best tiny little Burgundy producers drives south into Beaujolais and makes some wine with Gamay? Only one of the single greatest Beaujolais you’ll ever experience and in my opinion one of the top wines of the year. The 2010 Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-A-Vent Old Vines is jaw-droppingly stunning. I poured this for dozens of discerning buyers at St. Thibault and all of them exclaimed a similar sentiment: This wine redefines what people will think of Gamay. Stunning, detailed, tight, and right. Perfect summertime wine, but I also look forward to this for Thanksgiving. – Jason Kallsen

 

 

 

 

 

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