A Taste of the Old World: Lemasson's Vins de Soif

A Taste of the Old World: Lemasson's Vins de Soif

Olivier Lemasson (Les Vins Contes) doesn't make fancy wines — these aren't polished, buttoned up wines you'll find anywhere near a white table cloth. What they are is rustic, soulful, and accessible wines of thirst, or vins de soif. In our experience they satisfy the natural wine itch for both the seasoned wine drinker and those new to low-intervention wine. 

Typically by the time these wines land in NY we've sold through most on a pre-arrival basis. This year, life had different plans. But in this case it's good news: most of these wines are available for immediate purchase (the Chevile de Fer and the P'tit Rouquin arrive in about a month). Better news: we have solid quantity on these wines (particularly the Gama Sutra and the R19), as well as MAGNUMS, so you *might* see them around for a few weeks. Read on for more of the story, and for tasting notes on the new vintage. 



A veteran of Parisian wine shops, Olivier Lemasson landed his first winemaking gig with Marcel Lapierre, a pioneering natural producer in Beaujolais. After five years with Lapierre, he relocated to the Loire, where he partnered with another beloved natural winemaker, Hervé Villemade. They founded a negociant project called Les Vins Contés. Villemade stepped away from the project once Olivier had firm control behind the wheel. 

Les Vins Contés started as a grape buying endeavor, but in 2016 Olivier was able to purchase the vineyards he’d been sourcing from — 9 hectares that he'd been working organically and by hand (no machines, ever). Because of the care Olivier takes in the vineyard, the winemaking is simple: Whites are direct-pressed and don’t see any oak, and the reds are, for the most part, short macerations and meant to be drunk young (with the possible exceptions of the Gama Sutra and the Cheville de Fer). All the wines are bottled unfiltered, mostly un-sulfured, or hit with a miniscule amount at bottling.

The wines are a testament not only to Olivier's stellar mentors, but also to Olivier's commitment to farming, and to the purity and energy that you only find in authentic low-fi wines. 

Matthew Hawkins 

Les Vins Contes Gama Sutra 2019

80 year-old parcel. Simply delicious, lovely, quaffable Gamay that hits you deep in your pleasure centers. Satisfies your lizard brain AND your soul. Fresh violets, grape soda, cumin, and soft texture. Undeniably rustic French table wine, and my favorite every year. It will get funkier after you open, so chill it a bit and drink it fast (don't worry — it won't be hard). 

Buy "Gama Sutra" 2019 | $28
Buy "Gama Sutra" 2019 MAGNUM | $60

Les Vins Contes Poivre et Sel 2019

80% Pineau d'Aunis, 20% Gamay, co-fermented. Incredibly juicy and light enough to float out of your glass. Red fruits (strawberry, watermelon) blend with floral / peppery notes. While lighter than the Gama Sutra, this wine has more punch and follow through— a winemaker in a flow state, effortless. More fruity than the rest of the line up, but in no way overblown. Dialed in. 

Buy "Poivre et Sel" 2019 | $28

Les Vins Contes R19 2019

60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Grolleau, harvested and vinified together. All the brightness of a crisp, fresh bell pepper tempered by an earthy, mushroomy funk. Red fruits dosed with umami and cumin. Grolleau doesn't get a lot of love in the Loire, but here it makes a case for finding pleasure in the rustic. By no means a simple wine, yet not demanding either — savory and high acid, this is a bottle that pairs with anything roasted. 

Buy "R19" 2019 | $24
Buy "R19" 2019 MAGNUM | $54

Les Vins Conts Bois Sans Soif 2019

50/50 blend Chenin Blanc & Menu Pineau. High acid and bright, with a refreshing citric edge. The finish is long and mineral, with a sparkling, clean finish. Perfect with a cheese plate, with white, flaky fish, or with a plate of oysters. 

Buy "Bois Sans Soif" 2019 | $28
The wines below are available for pre-arrival purchase. We will be in touch as soon as the wines arrive. 

Les Vins Contes Cheville de Fer 2019

Means "ankle of iron" because of the vineyard's heavy clay that requires strong ankles. A joyful expression of a typically gnarly Loire Valley grape, Cot. Peppery. Earthy. Deep, dark and cosmic. I spoke to a friend who tasted it in barrel and he says that while it's a toss up, this is most likely the biggest wine in the lineup - 10 day maceration. 


Buy "Cheville de Fer" 2019 | $30

Les Vins Contes P'tit Rouquin 2019

Means "little red head" but is also colloquial for little cheap red wine. All Gamay, most of the vines are 30 years old. Juicy fruit tone with a whisper of funk in the finish. So crushable every year, and always a great entry point to the spirit of the vins de soifs. Reserve now and it'll be like Christmas this summer once they arrive. 


Buy "P'tit Rouquin" 2019 | $21
Buy "Gama Sutra" 2019 MAGNUM | $60

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