On the Trail

Buying Direct from Châteauneuf du Pape

Keith Mabry

There are a number of reasons we love to buy wines directly from noteworthy producers. First, we save a lot of money. Second, we can offer prices at significant savings when we eliminate an importer and distributor, thus offering you greater savings. Third, after putting together container after container of large orders, we gain access to allocations of gems like the Chante Cigale Châteauneuf Blanc when they get the critical recognition they deserve. Perhaps one of the greatest values to be had in a CDP Blanc, the 2015 Chante Cigale is a blend of equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, and Bourboulenc, capturing the essence of the white varietals from the south of France with its expressive and vibrant nature. Most CDP Blanc is on the heavy side—fatter and richer on the palate—but the Chante Cigale is pure freshness spending most of its life in tank with just a tiny fraction in barrel. Crunchy stone fruit of nectarine and peaches harmonize with flavors of star fruit and Anjou pear. Light floral notes of honeysuckle add dimension and the wine finishes long with notes of wet stone. It's a great example of terroir, a great example of a high-quality white Rhone wine, and the best possible example of why we love to bring wines to you through our direct import program.

We've been buying directly from Chante Cigale since 2001 when our owner Clyde Beffa first began negotiating with the estate's owner Alexandre Favier on a trip through France's Rhône region. The property dates back to the 1870s when it was first named after the chirping or "singing" cicadas—a Provencal insect similar to a grasshopper—whose males spend the warm summer nights singing to find their mate. Over the last fifteen years, Chante Cigale has become one of our most beloved red Châteauneuf du Pape labels, offering customers a serious bang for their buck via our direct pricing, and as the Rhône buyer at K&L I've continued that relationship. This is the first time, however, I can recall being more excited by the white expression than the classic red. Made entirely from a five hectare vineyard located in the village of Travaillan, the grapes for the blanc are harvested entirely by hand, fermented at a low temperature, and aged on the lees for up to six months. The output is simply minuscule when compared to the red wine production numbers at Chante Cigale. They only make a small amount each year, and—considering the high scores and positive critical reviews thus far—we expect the 2015 to be the most popular vintage of the wine we've ever carried. 

It's only our long history of buying reds directly from Chante Cigale that allowed us our allocation of the blanc in the first place. It also doesn't hurt that our pricing is also about 30% less! 

-Keith Mabry