CH. MARIS and MARIS: Delicious Terroir-driven Organic and Biodynamic Wines

Ch. Maris is a 79-acre estate planted to Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan in the Minervois cru La Liviniere. Minervois is one of the villages of the Languedoc with itss own applellation producing some of the best wines of the Languedoc. La Liviniere has long been considered the best part of the appellation of Minervois and has stricter rules for wines labeled “Minervois La Liviniere” than for wines labeled simply as “Minervois”. Ch. Maris is an estate growing grapes using organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard and making wines in and environmental masterpiece of a winery (made from hemp bricks) with a focus on organic practice and a clean but not sterile biome to make wines ranging from fine to stunning. The 79 acres (divided into a non-contiguous patchwork of plots and blocks) is a good-sized estate for the area.

Although founded earlier, the modern history of Ch. Maris began in 1997 when the current ownership group bought the winery and installed Robert Eden (one of the ownership group) as winemaker. Under Eden’s guidance, Ch. Maris moved away from commercial chemical farming toward first organic and then Biodynamic vineyard practices. As they did, life returned to the soil, the vine got heathier, and the quality of the grapes improved. Ch, Maris gained EcoCert status in 2002, Biodyvin since 2004 and Demeter in 2008. Ch. Maris was certified a “BCorps” in 2016. All these certifications remain in effect. Minervois has never tasted so good. La Liviniere has never tasted so good.

British-born Robert Eden is the winemaker and co-owner of Ch. Maris. He has lived in France since 1994 after traveling in Australia, Italy, Burgundy, Spain and California where he worked with renowned winemakers. Since 1997, he has pursued organic and biodynamic viticulture at Chateau Maris. Robert has been actively involved in the protection of the environment going so far as to build the first hemp cellar that passively consumes Co2. He regularly presents on the advantages of biodynamic viticulture and the importance of taking steps to reduce the impact on the environment in the wine industry.

All well and good but how are the wines? In a word: Stunning. I was expecting this tasting in my office to be a courtesy appointment ending sooner rather than later in a “Thanks for coming by.” Instead, it stretched out over two hours as I tasted wine after wine that both surprised and delighted me. I’ve been tasting wines from Minervois (and its Languedoc neighbors) for over 30 years and I have never tasted wines like these. I have never before thought that this area could produce a wine I would score 97 or 98 points. I was both stunned and elated. Please see my notes below. And come taste the wines for yourself on Monday October 14th (7pm) at the Wine School at l’Allaince Française.

MY NOTES (Wines arriving at Spec’s on Thursday October 10th):
MARIS Vermentino, Pays d’Oc , 2018
100% Rolle (Vermentino) from all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract) pressed off before fermentation and 4 months aging in concrete tanks.  Straw color with well-formed legs; dry, light-bodied with refreshing acidity and scant phenolics with a long finish.     Fresh with more lemon and lemon peel fruit with a hint of fruit stones with mineral earth. Light, bright, and alive.   BearScore: 90+.
126827   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $13.99

MARIS Rouge Organic, Pays d’Oc , 2018
An Organic Wine from all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract). 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache fermented and aged 4 months in concrete tanks.  Deep-red color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-light phenolics with a long finish.     Supple, fresh, easy drinking red fruit with some spiciness and a subtle mineral earthiness.   BearScore: 91.
126828  Spec’s Cash Bottle: $13.99

MARIS Le Zulu, Vin de France, 2018
An all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract) blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache fermented and aged 4 months in concrete tanks. No sulfur added  SO2 at bottling was 2 parts per million. No fining / light filtration.    Magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics with a long finish.     Supple fresh, lively, chewy red fruit accompanied by garrigue and black pepper spice.   BearScore: 91+.
126830   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $15.99

CHATEAU MARIS La Touge, Minervois La Liviniere, 2017
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 60% Syrah 40% Grenache. The Syrah was fermented in foudre and pressed in a basket press before 12 months aging  in 500 liter demi-muits. Grenache was fermented in concrete, basket pressed, and aged in concrete eggs for 12 months before blending. The blended wine is then aged 6 months more in concrete eggs before bottling. No fining/filtering. (SO2: 54 ppm).     Red-purple color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really long finish.     Fresh and lively red fruit with spicy garrigue. Bright fresh and alive. Vivid.   BearScore: 92+.
126831   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $18.99

CHATEAU MARIS Les Planels, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache. Syrah fermented in Foudre, basket pressed, and aged 12 months in 500 liter demi-muits. The blended wines is then aged 3 months in concrete eggs before bottling.      Red-purple color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really long finish.     Supple, fresh, lively but full of red fruit flavor with hints of spice and garrigue. Layered-Textured-Dimensional.   BearScore: 93+.
126832   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $24.99

CHATEAU MARIS Savoir Vieillir, Minervois, 2018
An estate grown, certified biodynamic 100% Syrah Organic Wine that is in fact an earlier-bottled, no-sulfite version of “Les Planels”. Stabilized and bottled in Dec/Jan to avoid oxygen. As it is bottled early, it is classified as Minervois AOP. Since it is labeled “Minervois” and not “Minervois La Liviniere,” it does not need to have the normal 5% Grenache as part of the blend. Sulfites at bottling: 3 ppm.   Red-magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with balanced-plus acidity and medium-plus phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Lovely pure, fresh red and darker red raspberry fruit with black and white pepper spice. Fresh and focused. Thrilling in the mouth.   BearScore: 93+.
126837   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $24.99

CHATEAU MARIS Las Combes, Minervois , 2017
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 100% Grenache fermented in 1500-liter wooden egg then aged 4 months in a concrete egg. Bottled early so declassified from Minervois La Liviniere to Minervois AOP. SO2 at bottling: 35 ppm.     Red-magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Lovely pure sweet red fruit with only hints of garrigue and spice. Ethereal feel with a certain weightlessness in the mouth.   BearScore: 94.
126833   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $27.99

CHATEAU MARIS les Anciens, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Carignan and 5% Grenache. Basket Press. Fermented and aged in concrete eggs. No fining/filtering.  500 bottles made.  Deep-purple color with very-well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Vivid, fresh, lively, slightly dusty red and darker red fruit with spice and liquid mineral. Wow and wow. Absolutely stunning. Layered-Textured-Dimensional.   BearScore: 97.
126835   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $31.99

CHATEAU MARIS Dynamic, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache fermented in foudre, basket pressed, and aged 18 months 224-liter oak barrels. No fining/filtering. Only 500 bottles made.     Red-magenta color with very-well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really quite long finish.      Fresh, ethereal, alive. Vivid red fruit with an almost crystaline structure. Thrilling in the mouth with lots of lingering flavors. Lasts and lasts. Layered-Textures-Dimensional.   BearScore: 97.
126834   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $75.99

CHATEAU MARIS les Amandieres, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache fermented in foudre, basket pressed, and aged in oak barrels. No fining/filtering. 500 bottles made.  Deep-purple color stains the glass with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Has the fruit of Australia, the structure of Cote Rotie, and the ethereal weightlessness of a fantasy.  I have never had a Syrah like this before. Dark and darker red fruit with hints of coffee grounds and black pepper spice with a trill of white pepper. Vivid fruit with a finish that goes on and on. Oh, what a thrill. Layered-Textured-Dimensional. Would love to taste this next to Hill of Grace.  BearScore: 98.
126836   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $75.99

Ch. MARIS Wine Class and Tasting Featuring Robert Eden, Maris Winemaker and Co-Owner

On Monday, October 14th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming Robert Eden, winemaker and co-owner of Ch. Maris to The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a discussion and tasting of his organic and biodynamic wines from the Minervois cru of La Liviniere. I have recently tasted through this range and found them to be some of the most interesting and delicious wines I have tasted over the last five years. These are wines of purity and depth ranging in price from $13.99 to $75.99. These may well be the best wines you’ve never heard of.

The line-up includes:
Maris Vermintino 2018
Maris Rouge Organic 2018
Maris Zulu Organic 2018
Chateau Maris Les Combes 2017
Chateau Maris La Touge 2017
Chateau Maris Savoir Vieillir 2018
Chateau Maris Les Planels 2016
Chateau Maris Les Anciens 2016
Chateau Maris Dynamic 2016
Chateau Maris Les Amandiers 2016

This Ch. Maris Tasting will cost $40.00 per person (cash or check) or $42.10 regular. The class meets on Monday, October 14th at 7pm at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

About Robert Eden:
Robert Eden, winemaker and co-owner of Château Maris has been in France since 1994 after having spent some time in Australia, Italy, Spain and California, where he worked with a number of famous winemakers. Robert is strongly committed to sustainable agriculture. Since 1997, Château Maris has strictly followed organic and biodynamic principles. He is a reference for organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Languedoc and very often gives lectures about how to reduce the negative impact on the environment in the wine industry.

About Ch. Maris:
Approachable, pure fruit, elegant style of wine.
Top-rated bottles from the South of France reaching up to 97 Pts by the Wine Advocate.
One of the pioneers in sustainability, Certified Biodynamic for 20 years.
The first and only European winery to achieve B Corp status.
Ranked as one of the top greenest wineries in the world.
UPCOMING WINE EVENTS
10/14 – Monday … Ch. Maris class and tasting (all organic and biodynamic wines – pure, fresh, and exciting) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/17 – Thursday … Royal Oporto Tasting (with David Smith and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/21 – Monday … Bordeaux Value (sponsored by Sopexa) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/25 – Friday … An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba
12/02 – Monday … Symington (Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Quinta do Vesuvio) Vintage Port Tasting at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
01/16 – Thursday … 2017 Bordeaux Vintage Preview at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice.

In addition, we’ll be scheduling some sparkling wine and Champagne classes and another general Port class as well as at least one dinner.

Exploring White Burgundy Class and Tasting With Burgundy Importer David Smith and Bear Dalton

On Monday, Octoberber 7 at 7pm, please join me in welcoming my good friend and Burgundy expert extraordinaire David Smith to The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tag-team (with me) class and tasting exploring the white wines of Burgundy. We’ll taste representative wines from five domaines from the Cote de Beaune (Pernot Belicard, Fontaine Gagnard, and Vincent Latour), Chablis (Dampt), and the Cote Chalonnaise (Baron Thenard). All of the wines are imported by David Smith. The lovely Miss Carol (aka the Missus) doesn’t generally like Chardonnay but she loves white Burgundy. Come find out why.

The line-up includes:
Pernot Belicard Bourgogne Blanc 2016
Pernot Belicard Pulginy Montrachet 2016
Pernot Belicard Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet 2016
Dampt Chablis 2017
Dampt Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet
Dampt Chablis 1er Cru Rouchaume
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 2015
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagnie Montrachet 1er Cru Boudriottes 2015
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Clos St Jean 2015
Baron Thenard Givry Cellier des Moines 1er cru 2015
Vincent Latour Bourgogne Chardonnay 2016
Vincent Latour Meursault Pellans 2015
Vincent Latour Meursault 1er Cru Goutte D’Or 2015

This Exploring White Burgundy Class and Tasting will cost $50.00 per person (cash or check) or $52.63 regular. The class meets on Monday October 7th at 7pm at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your tickets, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.


UPCOMING WINE EVENTS
10/03 – Thursday … Women Of Wine Grand Tasting at the Czech Museum   (http://www.wowcharities.org/events-happy-hours/2019-grand-tasting-october-3/)
10/07 – Monday … Mostly White Burgundy Tasting (Fontaine Gagnard, Pernod Bellicard, etc. – David Smith and me) –  at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/14 – Monday … Ch. Maris class and tasting (all organic and biodynamic wines – pure, fresh, and exciting) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/17 – Thursday … Royal Oporto Tasting (with David Smith and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/21 – Monday … Bordeaux Value (sponsored by Sopexa) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
12/02 – Monday … Symington (Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Quinta do Vesuvio) Vintage Port Tasting at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française

In addition, we’ll be scheduling some sparkling wine and Champagne classes and another general Port class as well as at least one dinner.