Encore une Fois ... The Over-Achieving Wines from Domaine Camp Galhan!

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 Lionel Pourquier
Four years ago we ‘discovered’ Domaine Camp Galhan, producers of divine red and white IGP Vin de Pays des Cévennes, IGP Pays d’Oc and AOP Duché d’Uzès from the heart of the vast Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in southern France. We ran across Lionel Pourquier, co-owner (along with his brother Alain) and operator of the winery, when he was sharing a booth with Patrick Chabrier of Domaine Chabrier Fils at the VinIsud 2012 wine fair in Montpellier. We had time to kill, so we tried his wines and were totally enchanted. We weren’t the only ones. Robert M. Parker, Jr. remarked in issue 173 of the ‘Wine Advocate’, “Lionel and Alain Pourquier defy their entitlement to only a Vin de Pays appellation with wines of extraordinary value.” (Note: since then, several of Lionel’s wines have earned AOP Duché d’Uzès status).

We adore Lionel’s wines and are delighted to bring you the latest vintages of his vinous treasures – the bargain-priced 2015 les “Frigouliers” blanc and rouge, the equally-well priced and delicious 2015 Chardonnay, the brilliant 2014 Amanlie blanc, the magnificent 2015 Ripa Alta blanc, the lovely 2014 Pérassières rouge and the stunning 2011 Ripa Alta rouge. And, Lionel has created a mixed case sampler that contains each of these featured wines except for the Chardonnay.

By the way, the Pourquier family also produces delicious strawberries and asparagus.

Domaine Camp Galhan

Located near the commune of Ribaute les Tavernes, which is between Nîmes and Alès, the Camp Galhan vineyard is situated high above the banks of the Gardon River in the foothills of the bucolic Cévennes Mountains. The winery gets its name from the Roman camp, ‘Galhan’, that was located next to the present winery. The 40 hectare property and vineyards have been in the Pourquier family since the early twentieth century and they have long been renowned for their superb grapes that were sent each year to the local co-op. But Lionel and Alain tired of giving their great grapes to the co-op only to have them made into mediocre wines. So, in 2001 they built a modern winery into the side of a hill, designed so that gravity moves the grapes and juice during vinification (thus avoiding the use of harsher mechanical pumps) and started to produce their own wines.

Your hard-working tippler with the Pourquier’s treasures
As they say, at least eighty percent of great winemaking occurs in the vineyard. The Pourquiers have worked hard to isolate the best vineyard sites in the hillsides above the valley and to update their vinification techniques. They farms their vineyards using organic methods in the ‘lutte raisonnée’ (the ‘reasoned struggle’ in English) – basically, an absolute minimum use of chemicals; but not quite the organic manner and they green harvest (eliminate some of the grape bunches from each vine) in the spring to decrease yields. Lionel then hand selects only the best fruit to go into his wines, which most recognize as being among the very best in the region (along with Domaine Chabrier Fils and Les Vignes du Lys, to our way of thinking!).

By the way, in addition to great asparagus, Lionel also grows durum wheat in the valley which he sells to high-end pasta producers, most in Italy.

The Glorious Wines of Domaine Camp Galhan

We are truly delighted to bring you the vinous treasures from Domaine Camp Galhan. There are four whites – the 2015 les “Frigouliers” blanc, the 2015 Chardonnay, the 2014 Amanlie Blanc and the 2015 Ripa Alto blanc; three reds – the 2015 les “Frigouliers” rouge, the 2014 Pérassières Rouge and 2011 Ripa Alta rouge and; The Camp Galhan Sampler that gives you a taste of all but the Chardonnay. Each is drinking wonderfully now, but the reds will reward you with a year or two of patience.  They come in convenient six-bottle cases. The final day to order these really, really good wines will be Friday, August 12th.  

2015 Les Frigouliers Blanc - 12.5% Alc./Vol.                                                 $17/102$ for 6

This refreshing beauty, an IGP Pays des Cévennes is crafted from 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Chardonnay and 10% Viognier from vines averaging 25 years of age. The grapes were harvested at night and the juice rested on its lees in large vats at controlled temperatures. A clear light yellow/straw colour, it offers up a delightful bouquet of tropical and citrus fruits, wet pebbles and exotic spices. It is quite complex, medium-bodied and nicely crisp. Ready to drink upon arrival, it will go delightfully well with cold meats, sushi, shellfish, calamari, mussels and French fries! It will also a be splendid sipper whenever the urge arises. Serve chilled. Order your happiness in a bottle now.

2015 Chardonnay – 13.0% Alc./Vol.                                                             $17/$102 for 6

This dry, crisp IGP Pays des Cévennes marvel is fashioned from 100% Chardonnay lovingly raised on vines more than twenty-seven years old. It is a brilliant yellow colour with golden highlights. This beauty sees no oak. On the nose it offers up expressive aromas of apples, tropical fruits and a hint of white flowers. It is very smooth with a light, buttery note, is elegant in the mouth where the apple and passion fruit sensations persist joined by a nice minerality. It is round, generous and surprisingly long on the finish. Served around ten degrees Celsius, it will go wonderfully well with fish terrines, mussels marinière, grilled white fish and poultry, particularly turkey. Or, it will serve nobly as a most delightful sipping wine whenever the occasion presents itself. This is meant to be consumed young – over the next year or two. Order your most refreshing white delight now.

2014 Amanlie Blanc – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                                          $21/$126 for 6

The lovely 2014 Amanlie Blanc is made from 70% Viognier and 30% Grenache Blanc from vines averaging more than 25 years of age. The average yield is only 30 hl/ha. This delicious AOP Duché d’Uzès is a clear golden colour with glints of lime green. On the nose there are pronounced aromas of peaches, grapefruit, rich tropical fruit, apricots, acacia and honeysuckle.  It is round and powerful in the mouth, flavourful with excellent balance, dry and crisp. This is simply delicious – jam-packed with mouth-watering  flavours, beautifully made and completely satisfying. Ready to drink as soon as you get it, it will keep nicely for the next three years. It will go wonderfully with roast chicken, lobster bisque, fried fish, vegetarian pasta dishes and most shellfish. I just love it! Order your glorious white wonder now.

2015 Ripa Alta Blanc – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                                         $26/$156 for 6

The terrific 2015 Ripa Alta Blanc (high banks)  is made from 100% Chardonnay from vines averaging more than 50 years of age and the yield is a low 30 hl/ha. It rested in new and previously used oak for nine months. This amazing IGP Vin de Pays d’Oc (please don’t let this deter you) is a lovely golden colour and offers up pleasant aromas of peaches, pineapple and honey with mineral aftertastes. This splendid, elegant white is beautifully balanced and medium bodied with lovely acidity and a long, creamy finish. It is a very well made wine that will go splendidly with creamed poultry dishes, coconut shrimp (oh, sweet heaven!), lobster Newburg or au gratin (drool!) and mussels.  Order your over-achieving Vin de Pays blanc now.

2015 Les Frigouliers Rouge - 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                               $17/$102 for 6

This IGP Pays des Cévennes red is crafted from 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, the classic southern France blend. The vines average a little more than fifteen years of age and the juice underwent a short maceration to preserve the fruitiness. It is a brick red with purple highlights and offers up an intense bouquet of red fruits (raspberries, cherries and strawberries) and sweet spices. In the mouth it is round, full and generous with soft tannins and good length. It can be happily consumed now and over the next couple of years, preferably slightly chilled with steak, roast chicken, steak tartar or red berry desserts. Order your fresh, fruity and delicious little treasure now.

2014 Pérassières Rouge – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                                   $22/$ 132 for 6

The 2014 Pérassières is composed of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache, the mainstay varietals of southern France. The vines average over 50 years of age. It sees no oak. This IGP Duché d’Uzès is a rich purple colour with deep violet accents and offers up aromas of black currants, blackberries, raspberries, new leather, pepper, exotic spices and just a hint of licorice. In the mouth it is smooth, round, medium-bodied and lively with excellent length and impressive tannins. This luscious, unfiltered, unoaked wine seems to have been bestowed upon us by the barbeque gods. Drinking delightfully now, it will age gracefully for at least another five years.  Order your classic southern French red now.

2011 Ripa Alta Rouge – 13.3% Alc./Vol.                                                       $34/$204 for 6

This magnificent IGP Duché d’Uzès red is comprised of 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache from vines averaging more than 50 years of age. It is a deep ruby colour with cherry red highlights. Wonderful aromas of strawberry jam, cedar, leather, coffee and violets leap from the glass. It is big, bold, full and very well-balanced with gentle tannins and a most pleasant long, lingering after taste. This reminds me of a very good Côte Rôtie! With five years already under its belt, this stunner is ready to drink (please decant) and will keep happily for another eight to ten years. This is really, really good stuff.  Order your stunning Syrah now!

The ‘Camp Galhan’ Sampler - 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                             $23/$138 for 6

This is a great way to try six different Domaine Camp Galhan vinous treasures. You get a bottle each of the 2015 les “Figouliers” blanc and rouge, 2014 Amanlie Blanc, 2015 Ripa Alto blanc,  2014 Pérassières rouge, and 2011 Ripa Alta rouge. I do hope that every one of our members will order this Sampler to taste for themselves the great values that come from Camp Galhan and southern France. Order your six-pack of pure drinking pleasure now.

What’s Up with Hélène’s Tours de Provence?!

http://www.arthursellers.com/images/ofclip_image014.jpgWe had a wonderful stay at the castle – Hélène and Jim did an amazing job of organizing everything. The company, the tours, the food and, of course the wine were all outstanding. We would love to do it again and see all the places we missed.”   Bruce –Vancouver, B.C., 2014

A number of wine club members and guests from previous years have asked when Hélène’s next Tour de Provence will occur. Here’s the scoop.

For a variety of reasons, Hélène isn’t able to pre-book a tour on spec any more. However, she would be delighted to organize and lead a tour if ten to twelve people got together and asked her to do so. The beauty of this is that they could choose the time of year for their Provençal explorations and she could tailor the tour to match the group’s specific preferences.

Hélène has been conducting her small, intimate tours to southern France for the past eleven years. Her extensive knowledge of Provence, superb organizational skills, eye to detail and winning personality makes these adventures truly remarkable.

Her usual home base for the week is Le Château de Goult, a lavishly restored 14th Century castle in the hilltop town of Goult in the Luberon (Peter Mayle country). Each day brings a different nearby destination ranging from village markets to vineyard tours and boat rides on the Mediterranean. Dinners at the Château feature wines from local purveyors to Arthur’s Cellar.

My husband and I have never been on an organized tour for travel before. Our experience with Hélène and Jim has left us excited to do it again. Provence is beautiful and full of history but without Hélène guiding us to all the right spots and taking care of all the details we would never have discovered most of them. The stay in the chateau was a highlight and set the stage for much laughter, delicious meals and easy connection with the other guests. Jim with his expertise in wine kept us informed and in good ‘spirits’. If you have always wanted to explore Provence, this is definitely the way to do it; a trip of lifetime!   Susi and Steve –White Rock, B.C., 2014

What a great way to celebrate a special occasion or stage a get-together with old friends and family.  Please contact Hélène for all the delicious details. We’d love to create a Tour de Provence just for you.

Hélène with her Tour de Provence 2015 guests

Winery Updates

There have been several changes to our supplier line-up over the past couple of years and I thought I should bring you up-to-date.

Château Saint Jacques d’Albas

Our old friend Graham Nutter decided that he requires bigger and better distribution for his wines in Ontario. We are very sad to see him leave our fold. His were the first wines we featured when we began our wine club over ten years ago. Since then we have, on behalf of the wine club, placed eighteen orders for over 5,000 bottles of wine with Château Saint Jacques d’Albas. I know that many of you have come to enjoy Graham’s wines. They might continue to be available in Ontario. Please contact Graham for more information.

No need to despair over the loss of this fine Minervois winery. We have another that is equally as good, Les Cuvées du Firmament and we will be featuring them next month.

Château des Gimarets

This is a strange one. Eric and Nathalie Boyer approached us a couple of years ago asking if we would represent their excellent winery located in the Moulin-à-Vent region of Beaujolais. We tried some samples here, visited them at their winery and decided to give it a go, knowing orders would be limited. We offered their wines on two occasions to limited response. Imagine our surprise when they informed us that they were going with another agent who had secured a listing for them at Vintages! The kicker was that they sold it to the LCBO for less than half the price they sold it to us. “A distress sale,” they said. But why not to us so we could have passed along the savings (and built up brand image) to our Members and offered it to Vintages as well? Oh well, such is the world of wine. We are unlikely to look for a replacement in Beaujolais.

Château Romanin

This well-known biodynamic winery is located literally in the Alpilles (tiny mountains) outside of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in southern France. It was recommended to us by our old friend Christian Esparza who operates a wonderful wine emporium in Saint-Rémy. We struggled to generate sales for a few years but kept trying. Then the winery switched marketing managers. We were unable to establish a decent business relationship with the replacement, so decided to terminate our representation. However, something good came of the association. Jean-Jacques Quinsac of Le Sélect Bistro visited our booth when we represented Château Romanin at a trade show. Since then we have supplied this excellent restaurant with many of our wines.

Domaine des Les Terres de Velle

This one really hurts! We had a long and pleasant relationship with Sophie and Fabrice Laronze, first when they worked with Alex Gamble at Maison Alex Gamble and then when they started their own winery in the Côtes de Beaune in Burgundy. They make very, very good wine, but Burgundies are expensive and the Laronze’s were forced to significantly hike their prices due to scant harvests. This predictably resulted in very small order quantities from our members which in turn rendered the association unviable.

Domaine Vincent Stoeffler

Scan0005Several years ago when we asked a sommelier at a restaurant in Strasburg to recommend an up-and-coming Alsatian winery, he immediately pronounced, “Domaine Vincent Stoeffler.” So we visited the winery and were smitten by Vincent Stoeffler’s Pinot Gris, Rieslings and Gewurztraminers. Unfortunately, it turned out that they were too unctuous (oily) for Canadian tastes and, as the result, repeat orders were disappointing. Regrettably, we had to terminate our dealings with them.

The 2015 Vintage in Southern France
We spent some time in southern France this past May sampling many young, fresh 2015 wines from the area (it is truly a selfless task we perform on behalf of our wine club Members), some recently bottled and others from tanks and casks. They were generally terrific – both reds and whites. The 2015 growing season had been close to ideal (hot in July and part of August with little rain) and harvesting was a bit earlier than usual under favourable conditions. Last fall, during the vendange, I had predicted that 2015 was going to be a very good year for Grenache and it turned out I was right. But, to my surprise, the Syrah turned proved to be every bit as good if not better. In that these are the two principle grapes for the reds from southern France, the resulting wines are very, very good, not unlike those of 2009 at this stage of their development. My two 2015 favourites were the Domaine Palon Vacqueyras and the Domaine Roger Sabon Châteauneuf du Pape ‘Prestige’.

Important Note
The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

LCBO Delivery Notices!

The LCBO has started to mail out delivery notices to all our Members who order wine. This notice is being sent when the wine has arrived from overseas and has been cleared for delivery by the LCBO. The form letter is two sided, one with the numeric details of the transaction and the other with pick-up instructions. Please note - the pick-up instructions do not apply to our Members.


First, they instruct our Member to pick up the wine at the LCBO’s warehouse loading docks at 33 Freeland Street in Toronto. Our Members don’t have to do this – we either cause the wine to be sent to an LCBO retail store that is conveniently located near our Member or we personally deliver the wine.

Second, they infer that our Members owe them for the wine and warn that they will be penalized if the wine is not picked up within a prescribed period of time. Our Members have already paid for their wine and don’t owe any additional money. We look after payment for them.

Please disregard these form letters when you receive them.

We have requested that the LCBO either correct the message or not send it at all. We also asked that they send the message electronically (they have the e-mail addresses of everyone who orders) to save money and be environmentally responsible. They have thanked us for our suggestions and we hope they will act on them.

Why is the LCBO sending out these notices?

When we inquired, we were told that this has always been their procedure; they just haven’t been following it.

We can surmise that it is in response to last year’s ruling by the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario (IPC) ruling that the LCBO stop taking personal information from wine club customers. In a subsequent Ontario Superior Court of Justice appeal hearing, the case was remitted back to the IPC for reconsideration, i.e., the LCBO and the other involved parties were told to work out their issues between themselves. A key point in the ruling was, “it is not clear whether the IPC actually made a clear or consistent finding on the issue of whether the LCBO's customer is the club or the club member.” Since then, the LCBO has been determined to make certain that we are all fully aware that it is they who control the customer relationship when it comes to the purchase of beverage alcohol in the Province of Ontario.

To reinforce this point, they have instructed us to prominently post the following wherever we display our prices:

The LCBO is the only entity authorized to sell beverage alcohol in Ontario. Arthur Sellers & Company and Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club do not sell or markup beverage alcohol, but rather, arrange for customers to purchase it from the LCBO. Our prices indicated above and on our website include the LCBO sale price plus a fee to cover the cost of sourcing, handling and marketing the wine. The LCBO’s sale prices are available on request.

If you have any comments for the LCBO, please address them to Margaret Plant, Supervisor, Private Ordering (margaret.plant@lcbo.com) and copy Archie Karanxha, Acting Manager, Specialty Services (arqile.karanxha@lcbo.com) and Geoff Allaire, General Manager Operations, Toronto Retail Service Centre, Vintages Warehouse (geoff.allaire@lcbo.com).

All this reminds me of a very old joke. It seems that a little devil was involved in a most unfortunate tangle with one of Toronto’s Red Rockets that resulted in his tail being severed. He was rushed to the Toronto General Hospital but was refused admission. The ER receptionist explained, “I am afraid you will have to take him to the LCBO ... they are the only ones in Ontario allowed to retail spirits.”

Kate joins the team!
We are delighted to announce that our eldest daughter Kate (shown here with a bottle of Penfolds Grange from her birth year!) has officially joined the Arthur Sellers & Company team. She is an avid wine enthusiast with a very fine palate and is renowned for her frequent thirsty assaults on Arthur’s Cellar. Kate will be assisting us with the day-to-day operation of our wine club and will introduce our fine wines to her market demographic (recognizing that this old tippler needs a little help marketing to the younger aficionados of the fruit of the vine). Please join us in welcoming Kate to our wonderful world of wine.

Where’s My Wine??
Generally, it will take three to four months from the time you order your wine till it is delivered. To find out where your next treasure is on its long journey from Europe, just click on Delivery Status in the side bar to the left. We update it regularly.

About our website

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