Domaine de Poulvarel – Terrific Values from the Costières de Nîmes

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Pascal and Elisabeth Glas with your selfless taster
We’re back and ready to go with some fabulous new wines. Such is certainly the case with the elixirs from Domaine de Poulvarel, located in the AOC Costières de Nîmes. These are simply outstanding, exceedingly delicious wines, particularly when one considers their very reasonable prices. So, it is with great pleasure and thirsty anticipation that we offer you nine absolutely scrumptious wines (and two samplers) from this terrific producer.

We found out about these marvellous wines about five years ago from a familiar source – Christian Esparza, our long-time friend, purveyor of fine wines in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and enthusiastic co-conspirator in the discovery of great wines for our wine club. Those of you who ordered these wines over the past four years have clamoured for more. They are so good and so reasonably priced, it is no wonder. Included this time are the ‘Wine Advocate’ 90 rated 2013 Les Perrottes and the amazing 2013 Les Agapans Rouge that is conjured up from Grenache vines averaging more than 100 years of age.

Domaine de Poulvarel

Your tireless tippler at the Poulvarel Gates
Domaine de Poulvarel is owned by Pascal and Elisabeth Glas. In 2004 Pascal, after working with various wine producers for twenty-five years, convinced Elisabeth that it was time to take the big plunge and create their own winery on the old grape growing properties that their families had owned for generations. The estate is located just outside Sernhac, an old Saracen village found near the majestic Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard (pictured at the beginning of this Bulletin). The vines are old, yields are kept low, the grapes are hand-picked and sorted and the wines are impeccably made in the new state-of-the art winery. Pascal and Elisabeth make very, very good wines that are attracting the attention of the wine press and foreign buyers. They have received 90 pluses from the ‘Wine Advocate’, three stars from the ‘Guide Hachette’ and a Coup de Coeur from ‘La Revue des Vins de France”. And, James Molesworth of the ‘Wine Spectator’ deems them to be a “Top Producer” of the Costières de Nîmes.

Costières de Nîmes

The Costières de Nîmes was established in 1989 and is, to quote Jancis Robinson in ‘The Oxford Companion to Wine’, “… the generally reliable and well-priced southernmost appellation of the Rhône. In French wine politics, it used to be considered part of the eastern Languedoc but the climate, soil, topography – and wines – are closer to those just over the river in the southern Côtes du Rhône vineyards. This is an important zone for the production of Vin de Pays. As in the nearby southern Rhône, Grenache is an important vine variety here, and must represent at least 25% of any red (to qualify as AOC Costières de Nîmes). Syrah and Mourvèdre are becoming increasingly popular in many of the best wines and must each total at least 20 per cent of the blend. This is an appellation in transition, not just geographically between the Languedoc and the Rhône, but temporarily between a bulk wine producer and a source of genuinely characterful, well-made wines”. Excellent examples found at the LCBO are the very good wines made by Mas de Bressades.

Vin de Pays d’Oc 

Jancis continues, “The most single important vin de pays is Vin de Pays d’Oc, which is France’s prime source of varietal wine. About 85 per cent of all vin de pays come from Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, or the southern Rhône. The pioneer was Mas de Daumas Gassac, an internationally famous wine which is sold merely as a departmental Vin de Pays de l’Hérault. But there are now scores, if not hundreds of equally ambitious producers of vin de pays, especially in the Languedoc-Roussillon area, making some of the best value wines in the world.”

The Wines of Domaine de Poulvarel

We have a delicious rosé, three yummy whites and five heavenly reds for you, each carefully crafted by Pascal and Elisabeth. In addition, Elisabeth and Pascale have created two samplers for us – one featuring their three new Le Bouquet wines, the other their reds. All come in six-bottle cases. The final day to order these fabulous wines will be Friday, May 27th.

Don’t let the low prices or the unfamiliar appellation deter you. These are terrific wines from very good vintages and I enthusiastically suggest that, at the very least, you order each of the Samplers so that you too can revel in the yumminess of the Domaine de Poulvarel wines.

The Three Le Bouquet

Pascal has created three new, splendid, well-priced wines called Le Bouquet; a white, a rosé and a red. Whimsical labels designed by local artist Jean-Pierre Desclozeau  adorn their bottles belying the very serious wines within. Each is comprised of five different grape varieties resulting in complex, luscious and satisfying quaffs. Perhaps the best part is that they are just $17 each. And, Pascal is offering us  a six-bottle mixed case of two of each of these fine potables.


2015 Le Bouquet  Blanc – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                       $17/$102 six-bottle case
This gorgeous white wine is a blend of five different grape varieties - 25% Grenache Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Viognier and 10% Muscat. As a note, 2015 was a very good vintage in the Costières de Nîmes.  It is a pale straw colour with glints of silver. The nose is fruity, fresh and alive with aromas of passion fruit, pineapples, clementines and a hint of gooseberries. It is round and full in the mouth, thirst quenching with a clean finish that includes a final note of limes. Excellent acidity. This is a great sipping white, a lovely apéritif and a marvellous match for grilled fish, roast chicken and chèvre. It is drinking beautifully now and will continue to do so for another two to three years. At only $17, this is a veritable steal. Order your irresistible dollop of sunshine now.


2015 Le Bouquet Rosé – 13.0% Alc./Vol.                                         $17/$102 six-bottle case
This most refreshing marvel is comprised of 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Mourvèdre. A clear light salmon colour, it offers up enchanting aromas of strawberries, red cherries, rock candies and citrus fruits. It is clean, refreshing and vibrant in the mouth with a delightful, satisfying finish. This most convivial wine is also a great sipper for the patio or dock on those late summer days and will go wonderfully well with tapas, summer salads, Asian cuisine and all white meats. It wants to be drunk young, but will still be a delightful thirst-quencher next summer. Order your sensational pink sipper now.

2014 Le Bouquet Rouge – 14.5% Alc./Vol.                                      $17/$102 six-bottle case
This absolutely delicious red is crafted from 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 25% Merlot, 15% Marselan (a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a deep, bright garnet colour. The heady nose offers up exotic aromas of red fruits, elderberries, peppercorns, liquorice, spices and a hint of mint. It possesses a lovely, round mouth feel that is almost sweet with lively, smooth tannins and a somewhat chocolaty finish. It would be a smashing partner for roast beef or lamb chops. I would decant it an hour or so before drinking and expect it to keep nicely for another five years. This is a stellar value. Order your very well-priced, delicious red now.

Le Bouquet Sampler – 13.0-14.5% Alc./Vol.                                                $17/$102 six-bottle case
You get two bottles each of the 2015 Le Bouquet Blanc, 2015 Le Bouquet Rosé and 2014 Le Bouquet Rouge in one handy six-pack. What a great way to try all three of these very interesting new wines and what a great gift for that wine lover of yours! Order your six bottles of pure Poulvarel pleasure now.

2015 Poulvarel Domaine Blanc – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                           $19/$114 six-bottle case
This AOP Costières de Nîmes is made from a third each of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier and is a medium straw colour. This has a big nose that includes loads of lively fruit (candied lemon, apricots and peaches), honey and floral scents. It is simply wonderful in the mouth – generous, unctuous, and beautifully balanced with a lovely, long citrus aftertaste. This to me is a food wine that chilled will go brilliantly with creamed chicken, fish in sauce and goat cheese such as pélardon. It too will keep nicely for two or three years.  I challenge you to find a more enjoyable white wine for under $20! Order this expressive beauty now.

2015 Les Cantarelles Blanc – 13.0% Alc./Vol.                                  $26/$156 six-bottle case
This stunning Vin du Pay d’Oc is crafted from 30% Grenache Blanc, 30% Viognier, 30% Roussanne and 10% Sauvignon from vines averaging 40 years of age. It rested eight months on its lees in small oak barrels. A clear, brilliant light golden colour, it has an expressive, lively nose of peaches, green apples, pineapple, white flowers, candied lemon and minerals. In the mouth it is big, beautifully balanced and complex, full of finesse with a gorgeous lingering finish. It is simply screaming out to be paired with a poêlée de coquilles Saint Jacques persillées. It will keep nicely for up to five years. This is definitely a connoisseur’s wine, but at this price, the rest of us can enjoy it too. In fact, we chose the preceding vintage as the white wine at daughter Kate’s wedding. Order this elegant lip smacker now.

2014 Merlot – 14.0% Alc./Vol.                                                          $16/$96 six-bottle case
Made 100% from Merlot averaging thirty plus years of age and with a yield of less than 27 hl./ha., this Vin du Pay d’Oc is a dark ruby/purple. The pronounced nose is chock-full of jammy cherries and blackberries, exotic spices, cocoa and a trace of new leather. All of this carries through in the mouth to be joined by silky smooth, soft tannins, excellent depth and surprising length. I love it and no wonder it is the top selling wine at Christian Esparza’s shop in Saint-Rémy. It will be drinking perfectly when it arrives in three months and will go smashingly with grilled or roasted meats, pasta dishes, charcuterie and medium cheeses. It is hard to believe that you can get a wine this good at this price … but you can! Order your marvellous Merlot now.

2014 Poulvarel Domaine Rouge – 14.5% Alc./Vol.                         $19$114 six-bottle case
Made from 65% Syrah and 35% Grenache, this AOP Costières de Nîmes has all of the savoury aspects of a top notch Côtes du Rhône to which it is closely related. It is a brilliant dark plum colour with ruby glints. The full nose is of black cherries, raspberries, black currants, black olives, truffles, mocha, saddle leather and just a hint of black pepper. In the mouth it is simply hedonistic - big, smooth and round with lovely tannins and a long, lingering aftertaste that one prays never goes away.  I can only imagine how good it is going to be in a year or two. At present it needs to be decanted a couple of hours before serving with rib steaks, roasts or game. Order an incredible red wine value now.

2013 Les Perrottes Rouge – 13.5% Alc./Vol.                                               $26/$156 six-bottle case
This beauty, ‘awarded a rating of 90/100 by the Wine Advocate’ is a classic southern Rhône blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Grenache from vines averaging fifty years of age. All hand-picked, the yield is a low thirty-five hl/ha. It was aged half in oak and half in concrete tanks for 12 months. A deep purple/brick colour, it is perfumed and very aromatic with loads of pretty red and black fruit, underbrush, violets, cacao, spices and black pepper on the nose. Medium-bodied and supple on the palate, it is wonderfully fresh and lively, possesses juicy acidity and finishes long with wood and spice undertones. This truly lovely red will go splendidly with roast beef or lamb and with most pasta dishes. Drinking wonderfully now (be sure to decant it), it will continue to evolve positively for at least the next five to eight years.  Only 13,000 bottles produced. Order your truly delicious, highly praised red now.

2013 Les Agapans Rouge – 14.5% Alc./Vol.                                     $44/$264 six-bottle case
Ready for an extraordinary treat?? The 2013 Les Agapans is a very special and rare wine, released to us as a special treat for the Members of Arthur’s Cellar Wine Club. This AOP Costières de Nîmes elder citizen is made from 100% Grenache from vines averaging well over 100 years of age (talk about gnarly) with a yield of only fifteen hectolitre per hectare. It is 100% aged in small old oak barrels (one, two and three years old) for twenty-four months. It is a very dark purple, almost inky. The aromas explode from the bottle – stewed plums and black cherries, black currant jam, fine cigar tobacco, exotic spices, just a hint of pepper and saddle leather. It is a real pleasure in the mouth where the aromas persist – round, full, complex, voluptuous and very long. It is drinking marvellously right now and will last for at least another decade. This really does taste like a top-notch Châteauneuf du Pape! Sip it like good Cognac or partner it with a well-aged rib steak – crisp on the outside and not too well done inside mind.  Only 1,200 bottles made. Order your smashing centenarian now.

The Poulvarel Red Wine Sampler – 13.5/14.5% Alc./Vol.              $25/$150 six-bottle case
You receive three bottles of the 2014 Domaine Rouge, two bottles of the 2013 Les Perrottes Rouge and one bottle of the 2013 Les Agapans all wrapped up in one neat carton. This is a no brainer for anyone who loves well-priced, superb red wine. Order this sublime red wine six-pack now.

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.

Why?

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.

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