In Today’s Newsletter:
The Best Values in Bordeaux Come from Tuscany
Glou Glou Syrah?
Argentina Beyond Malbec
Rose of the Day – Sancerre Edition
Smart Money Burgundy
Only Five Times in Forty Years
Entry Level Dönnhoff: Stock Up While It’s Available
Come from Tuscany
Top quality Bordeaux keeps going up in price. It’s a sad, if inevitable truth in the wine world—which led us to wonder “who’s making the best values in truly top-class Bordeaux out there?” Now, the initial question was directed within Bordeaux, but as we kept throwing out names of Chateaus, the obvious retort would come “well, so-and-so in Tuscany is making better wine, in the same style and it costs $N less.” —so we came to the (logical) conclusion that the best value in Bordeaux is Tuscany.
As Bordeaux estates have modernized their styles and the number of non-Sangiovese Super Tuscans have increased, the Italian wines seem to scratch the same itch for a lot less scratch. We’ve got a list of some of our top picks below. Some are Cab dominant, some are based on Merlot—just like in Bordeaux, but we capped the percentage of Sangiovese at 5% to make sure these were 1:1 comparisons. There’s a lot to love in these wines and while none of them are dirt cheap, they are stunning in comparison to the Bordeaux at the same price points.
In Stock Now:
Big and powerful in the style of Napa meets Left Bank Bordeaux.
Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($99.95) $79 special
James Suckling 97 points “Fantastic aromas of flowers such as violets and roses with dark purple fruits and hints of stones, too. Full body with ultra-fine tannins and a long and linear finish. This is a return to the great Solengos of the mid-1990s. The best since 1997. Cabernet sauvignon 50%, petit verdot 30%, merlot 15% and sangiovese 5%. Drinkable now but better in 2020.”
Classical, dusty and very St. Estephe inspired. Fantastic value considering the age.
Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2008 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “This fabulous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot delivers loads of plush softness and succulent richness. Aromas of chocolate, ripe fruit and spice are distinct and clear, and the wine shows compelling complexity and intensity overall.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2008 Giusto di Notri is wonderfully alive in the glass. Dark red berries, flowers, spices, grilled herbs, licorice and leather are some of the notes that flesh out in this dazzling, vibrant Giusto di Notri. Polished tannins provide the backdrop for the silky, expressive finish. A final blast of red fruit adds freshness and brightness on the close. Giusto di Notri is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.”
The next best price is $69
Petrolo Galatrona Valdarno di Sopra, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
James Suckling 99 points “Terrific aromas of violets, roses and raspberries with hints of strawberries and brown sugar. Full body. Phenomenal layers of focused fruit and polished velvety tannins. This is the Galatrona that everyone has been waiting for. It’s the vintage that shows depth and power yet wonderful finesse and focus. Best ever. Drink from 2023 but already electrifying.”Gaja makes fantastic wines wherever he goes.
Gaja Ca’Marcanda ‘Camarcanda’ Bolgheri, Tuscany 2011 750ML ($179.95) $79 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2011 Bolgheri Camarcanda opens to plump berry notes with apparent ripeness in the form of sun-drenched blackberry and plum. The fruit element in this Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon-Cabernet Franc blend is dark and compelling, and the mouthfeel follows suit with soft tannins and dark concentration. The 2011 vintage is also characterized by a more evident tannic bite that should soften with time.”
James Suckling 94 points “Very attractive raspberry, currant and chocolate character with hints of nuts. Full body, silky tannins and a juicy finish. This needs time to soften. So gorgeous now, but better in 2016.”
Falstaff Magazine 95 points “Rich, deep dark ruby with a lot of purple. Exciting and dark nose with lots of ripe plums, cassis, blackberry leading into licorice and spice in the background. Wonderfully juicy fruit (blackberry and blackcurrant) on the compact palate that opens with a powerful, velvety core of tannins. Very long, reverberating finish.”
The next best price is $129
The average listed price is $149
Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($299.95) $229 special
James Suckling 100 points “This is an extraordinary merlot with such purity and focus. Flowers such as violets and hints of orange peel. It is full-bodied yet incredibly energetic and structured. The finish goes on for minutes. Seamless texture. Fresh yet dense. Contrasty. Best Redigaffi ever. Hard not to drink now but a wine for decades.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Lush and polished, featuring a cashmere texture caressing vanilla, chocolate, black cherry and plum flavors. Well-balanced, with a persistent finish. The harmony hides a solid structure. Decant now. Merlot. Best from 2020 through 2032.”Arriving Later this Month:
#25 Wine of the Year – James Suckling Top 100 in 2018
Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($599.95) $499 pre-arrival special
James Suckling 99 points “Gorgeous floral and deep, dark berry aromas with hints of spices such as cinnamon and hazelnuts. Full body and ultra-fine and strong tannins that are powerful yet so sleek and beautiful. Fantastic length and texture. Deep, dark and profound. Takes you on a long journey and shows you its true character. Better in 2025. Give it time.”
This is very classy, Right-Bank inspired stuff.
Piaggia Cabernet Franc Poggio de Colli Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2015 Cabernet Franc Poggio de’ Colli is another compelling wine from Piaggia. Silky, aromatically precise and wonderfully nuanced, the 2015 has it all. Lavender, blueberry jam and spice are some of the many notes that develop with time in the glass. This powerful, resonant Franc from Piaggia is deeply satisfying from the very first taste.”
Glou Glou Syrah?
Goodfellow’s Unique, Delicious Value
This is one of the most stupendous values ever to come out of Oregon—a wine that’s unlike anything you’d expect but is completely delicious and joyous in its own idiom. This is a Syrah, from the Willamette Valley in a warm vintage, that drinks like some cross between the Northern Rhone and non-Carbonic Beaujolais. It’s delicious and so unexpected that we had to buy all of it that Marcus Goodfellow had left.
2014 was a hot year in Oregon and given Marcus’ track record, you’d expect a dark wine with big body and personality, but he picked early for freshness—and this wine is nothing if it’s not bright and fresh. The best comparison might be Herve Souhaut’s cult-classic Syrahs, with their airy personalities and bright flavors, but if you told us the wine was secretly Stellenbosch Mondeuse, we’d believe you. It’s not as serious as most of his Syrah, but the price isn’t either—this is a wine you can buy and drink by the case.
We’ve got as much as we could (a mere fifteen cases) arriving tomorrow and we’re (read: the staff is) stocking up for summer drinking—this would be perfect with a light chill on it with hamburgers or chicken off the grill. With the case price, you can (and should) make this a wine for all occasions.
Goodfellow Family Cellars Syrah – Viognier, Willamette Valley 2014 750ML ($24.95) $16 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Goodfellow Family Cellars Syrah – Viognier, Willamette Valley 2014 750ML ($269.95) $169 pre-arrival special (that’s only $14.08/bottle!)
In Stock Now:
The wine that the estate is best known for, in a fantastic vintage.
Bodega Aleanna ‘Gran Enemigo’, Mendoza, Argentina 2012 750ML ($79.95) $66 special
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2012 El Gran Enemigo is a blend of some 40% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% each Cabernet Franc and Merlot, quite a different blend from the 2011 vintage, but also all from Gualtallary in the Uco Valley. The idea for this blend is to only use grapes from limestone soils, always a blend, while the single vineyard from Gualtallary is basically a varietal Cabernet Franc. 2012 was a little cooler than 2011, but there’s a lot more Malbec here, and there are less herbal aromas and more floral tones. There’s hardly any oak in these wines now; they are aged in used, well-seasoned, neutral oak barrels and then transferred to cement vats. It feels purer, more defined, aromatic and subtle. This is really superb, with incredible citric acidity that makes you salivate. It keeps changing in the glass, one minute giving more herbal notes, the following minute turning floral, spicier, growing in the glass and developing new nuances. This is an impressive, age-worthy blend, with the telltale chalky tannins and a supple finish. ”
Bodegas Caro ‘Caro’, Mendoza 2012 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
James Suckling 98 points “Incredible aromas of spice, cedar, walnut and dark berry. Floral too. Spectacular nose. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a racy and refined finish. Fresh and succulent. Made from old vines of mablec in Compuertas and cabernet sauvignon from Altamira. Such finesse. Half the normal production. The best wine ever from the Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena winery. Drink or hold.”
Zorzal Eggo Franco Cabernet Franc, Tupungato 2015 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
Wine Advocate 93 points “The second vintage I tasted from this Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Eggo Franco is produced, like many of their wines, with grapes from Tupungato Winelands in Gualtallary. It fermented in cement eggs with some stems and with 50% of the wine kept in contact with skins for some three to four months, then pressed and put back in the eggs to complete its élevage, which lasted some nine months. It shows a mixture of herbal and candied berry aromas, hints of beef blood and iron. The absence of oak shows the naked tannins and provides an earthy side, which to me is very much the wild character of Gualtallary. 6,000 bottles were filled in December 2015 (it was harvested in March).”
Warmer and riper than the 2012, this is a blockbuster
Bodega Aleanna ‘Gran Enemigo’, Mendoza, Argentina 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
James Suckling 95 points “Very tight and beautiful wine with blackberry, blueberry and hints of tobacco, spice, and black tea. Full body, dense and powerful. Energy and intensity to this. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and malbec.”
Casarena Owen’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Agrelo 2015 750ML ($31.95) $26 special
Case-12 Casarena Owen’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Agrelo 2015 750ML ($359.95) $279 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “Tasted side by side with the 2014, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Owen’s Vineyard feels a lot fresher. This is an old, balanced, traditional vineyard that yields wines with very good depth and natural balance. There is perfect ripeness here and a notable absence of those green pepper aromas that often mask the personality of many Cabernets. These old vines yield very concentrated juice and it shows in the tannins and acidity, which show in perfect harmony. 30,000 bottles produced.”
“The nose…almost made me fall from my chair”
Bodega Aleanna ‘Gran Enemigo’ Gualtallary Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Tupungato, Argentina 2012 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Wine Advocate 98+ points “The nose of the 2012 Gran Enemigo Gualtallary Single Vineyard almost made me fall from my chair. It is the expression of elegance and austerity coupled with strong minerality. It is mostly Cabernet Franc from a very chalky vineyard in Gualtallary at 1,430 meters altitude that fermented together with a small percentage of Malbec. In 2012 they fine tuned the élevage and fermentation, which was in rolling 500-liter barrels that were new in 2006 (so by then quite neutral), where the wine was kept for one more year and then transferred to 1,000-liter egg-shaped cement vats for one further year. This reminded me of my favorite Bordeaux, Lafleur, because of the elegance, the refinement of the tannins and length. It has citric, effervescent acidity that makes you salivate. Winemaker and Owner Alejandro Vigil has done a very strict selection of the soils in the field, and only kept the very center of the vineyard where the high density (12,000 plants per hectare) generates a lot of competition, because the plants from the borders have more space in the sides, which means in 2012 he could only fill 1,800 bottles. Awesome, and ultra fresh for a vintage like 2012. Bravo!”
Zorzal Eggo Tinto de Tiza, Tupungato 2015 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 94 points “The one blend in the Eggo range is the 2015 Eggo Tinto de Tiza, which mixes Malbec with 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon fermented in 2,000-liter egg-shaped cement vats where the wine matured for almost one year. This feels quite complete and balanced, with good ripeness while keeping the balance and poise. The palate is juicy and fresh, with fine-grained tannins and a bittersweet finish akin to sour cherries. Very tasty and long. Super. Incredible for the price. 16,000 bottles were filled in January 2016.”
Rosé of the Day
Sancerre is best known for white wines, but the rosés (made from Pinot Noir) deserve broader attention. These are as crisp, bright and refreshing as the whites, but with the delicate red fruit component you’d expect. If you’re looking for extremely dry, pale, refreshing rosé then you should be drinking these wines, including this top example (arriving next week).
Arriving April 18th:
Andre Neveu Sancerre Rose Grands Fricambault, Loire 2018 750ML ($27.99) $24 pre-arrival special
Can’t Wait? Check out these other Sancerre rosés, in stock now:
Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rose, Loire 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special
Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rose, Loire 2017 1.5L ($79.95) $61.90 special
Importer note “Always among our most coveted rosés (and for very good reason), Gilles Crochet’s 2017 Sancerre Rosé (100% direct-press Pinot Noir) is wonderfully classic in character, with tangy strawberries and punchy chalk on the nose, and a soft, mellow, pale pink color in the glass. The fruit is very cool and pure this vintage, with great drive and persistence on the acid-driven yet scrumptious palate. While Sancerre overall experienced around 15% losses due to frost in 2017, Crochet was thankfully spared completely.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 91 points “Brilliant orange-pink. Displays mineral-tinged raspberry and tangerine aromas, with hints of candied flowers and anise in the background. Seamless and dry on the palate, offering lively redcurrant, orange zest and candied rose flavors that deepen as the wine opens up. Smoothly blends power and finesse and finishes with strong, floral-driven persistence and a jolt of chalky minerality.”
“Collotte remains one of the most under the radar growers in Marsannay. At their best, these wines are striking for their purity of fruit and overall sense of harmony.” –Antonio Galloni
A vintage like 2015 isn’t just a great year in Burgundy—it’s a great buying opportunity if you know where to look. While the prices for the top wines from the best producers skyrocketed, the value producers’ prices barely budged. That’s an exceptional opportunity, as the floor rises far more than the ceiling in a warm year like ’15. This is a prime chance to chase the best lower tier wines in 2015—Bourgogne, village wines and wines from less heralded terroirs.
A perfect example? Domaine Collotte’s wines from Marsannay and Fixin. You should be stocking up on these wines, and wines like them, in 2015. They’re reasonably priced, from old vines on good soil and made by a real craftsman. In a cooler year, these wines might be a bit rustic compared to their more famous neighbor, Gevery-Chambertin, but in a warm year like 2015 these are the real deal.
We’ve carried these wines for a few years and are always excited to source them, but there’s a marked step up in quality for the 2015’s. You look at the Wine Spectator reviews for any number of these bottlings and based on the scores they clearly agree with us—these are wines to snatch up. The best part of the equation is the pricing—the entry level wine (made from 70+ year old vines) is under $20 and the top wines he produces under $40.
In the world of Burgundy, those are steals, especially for this level of quality. They should disappear fast, so stock up soon—a vintage opportunity like this doesn’t come along often.
In Stock Now:
From 70+ year old vines!
Domaine Collotte Bourgogne Cuvee de Noble Souche, Burgundy 2015 750ML ($29.95) $19 special
VinopolNote: Surprisingly for an entry-level red, this bottling is from a parcel planted with the oldest vines of the estate: 71 year old vines grown on pebbly Cailloux soil.
Importer note “Bourgogne ‘Noble Souché’ translates to the ‘noble vine’ from [over] 70 year old vines planted in 1947 on Marsannay Cailloux soil from Champforeys. Entirely, de-estemmed, slow fermentation with 5 days of pre-maceration. Aged for 11 months 90% in stainless steel tank, this is a lovely, subtlety rich Côte de Nuits wine.”
The next best price is $24.95
Domaine Collotte Fixin, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($34.95) $28 special
Wine Spectator 91 points “Appealing aromas of burning vine cuttings and sweet spices give way to cherry and currant fruit in this smooth, smoke-tinged red. Long and satisfying, leaving a hint of mint on the finish. Drink now through 2025. 35 cases imported.”
Importer Note “The Fixin is from two parcels of Village Fixin both both with eastern exposition on calcareous clay soil. Aged in oak, 25% new, to round the tannins.”
The next best price is $29.99
Domaine Collotte Fixin Les Crais de Chene, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($44.95) $36 special
Wine Spectator 92 points “A pure dose of cherry, strawberry, sweet spice and mineral marks this harmonious red. Firm and focused, with a lingering finish of spice. Shows plenty of class. Best from 2020 through 2030. 50 cases imported.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Wine Spectator 90 points “The core flavors of black cherry and blackberry are wrapped in oak, lending vanilla and sweet spice details along with a layer of tannins. Just needs a little more time. Best from 2020 through 2028. 110 cases imported.”
Wine Spectator 91 points “Silky, this red evokes cherry, strawberry and graphite flavors, with bright acidity keeping this fresh and focused. Harmonious and long, offering a light chalky feel on the finish. Drink now through 2023. 150 cases imported.”
Importer Note “The Marsannay Champsalomon is from the village of Couchey. The 40+ year old vines are on the marl soil of the Ostrea Acuminata.”
The next best price is $29.98
Domaine Collotte Marsannay En Combereau, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($34.95) $28 special
Wine Spectator 92 points “Round and supple, presenting the ideal foil for the rich cherry and floral aromas and flavors. Features hint of oak and tannins on the lingering finish. Drink now through 2027. 100 cases imported.”
The next best price is $29.98
Grapelive 91 points “Exploring value priced Burgundy usually ends in huge disappointment, but sometimes you find a jewel. The wines of Philippe Collotte are just that, especially his old vine Marsannay, where there are 5 parcels of 50+ year old vines that make up his excellent super-value Marsannay Cuvee Vieilles Vignes. It way over-delivers for the price… He bottles everything unfiltered per his importer’s request (Weygant Metzler). It makes for an expressive and mineral-driven Pinot Noir of wonderful delicacy, but with solid fruit intensity which forms its perception of depth flavors. While starting with classic Burgundy subtly and brightness, things gain a darker feel with air allowing layers of black cherry, strawberry and earthy vine-picked berries to come through on the medium bodied palate. The mouth-feel and length are quite impressive for a wine of this price. Rose petals, chalk dust and cedar notes along with a mixed spice note add to the whole here. There’s no question this will surprise a few people. The vintage with its concentrated ripe profile certainly helped and the old vines give a charm that with put a smile on many a face. It did mine! Drink this Marsannay over the next 3 to 5 years. It’s a no-guilt Burgundy to get by the case!”
The average price is $26
Cave Yves Cuilleron ‘Les Vignes d’a Cote’ Syrah, Rhone, 2017 750ML ($21.95) $18 special
Grapelive 92 points “One of the Northern Rhone’s top guns, Yves Cuilleron, is making some of the best wine of his career… While his 2015 and 2016 were absolutely awesome, this 2017 looks just as good if not better!… While most known for his Condrieu and Cote-Rotie, [Yves] also makes a stellar collection of Saint-Joseph, Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage as well as a line of varietal wines including this 100% Syrah from granite and alluvial soils near his village, Chavanay, near the border with the Crozes zone, in the Collines Rhodaniennes, in a steep parcel of vines… This 2017 Les Vignes d’a Cote is striking and with exceptional varietal character. [It shows] a deep purple/garnet color in the glass with a beautiful perfume of crushed violets, primary black and blue fruits, spices and camphor notes that not only come through on the nose, but transfer to the palate as well. There is ripe blueberry, plum and black cherry fruits as well as subtle creme de cassis, black olive, fresh ground peppercorns, faint cedar and anise. The mouthfeel is richer and more substantial than you’d expect from this bottling, highlighting what looks like a great vintage in the making. The Cuilleron elegance and finesse is on full display. This is a case-worthy, if not more, wine to enjoy over the next couple of years while you cellar your Cote-Rotie, Saint-Joseph and/or Crozes-Hermitage!”This is perfect steak grilling wine. Now (surprisingly) or in a decade—your choice.
Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2015 750ML ($249.95) $188 special
James Suckling 96 points “The aromas of mint, blueberries and blackberries are very intense. Full-bodied, layered and softly textured; yet it delivers a firm and lightly chewy finish. Hot stones, too. This is a wine that will improve with three to four years of bottle aging.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Soy, tobacco and dried herb mark this appropriately named wine, which does indeed have a gravelly, chalky aspect to its texture and taste. From a five-acre vineyard block of the estate, it is endlessly complex and nuanced, despite its full-bodied richness and concentration.”
Winery notes “Our second coolest micro-climate is our five-acre Gravelly Meadow vineyard. Originally a pre-historic river bed, this stony, gravelly soil drains rapidly and the vines struggle for moisture. Gravelly Meadow is our lowest yielding vineyard. The wines are described as “earthy, cedary, jammy and ripe blackberry with a spicy expansive finish.”
Cheerful, delicious and a light touch that’s perfect for the season.
Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie les Garants, Beaujolais 2016 750ML ($29.95) $26 special
Josh Raynolds 92 points “Vivid ruby. Aromas of fresh dark berries, candied violet and smoky minerals pick up a hint of allspice with air. Sweet and nicely concentrated, offering juicy boysenberry and blackberry flavors and a touch of licorice. Finishes sappy and smooth, showing excellent persistence, lingering spiciness and dusty tannins that sneak in slowly.”
VinopolNote: Although the recent press for the Moulin-a-Vent has pushed it to the forefront of the Vissoux collection, the two Fleuries from Pierre-Marie Chemette have traditionally been the estate’s calling card. The Garants vineyard is on what the Domaine describes as “noble granite soil” and is the more structured, age-worthy of the two Fleuries (the soil has a definite Morgon influence on the wines). This is rich and structured, with some of the classic perfume of Fleurie, but also an iron-rich depth in its core.
Stellar value bubbly from an up-and-coming producer.
Perseval-Farge C. de Pinots Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Importer note “The “C. de Pinots” is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A gentle pressing is done with a vertical press and the juice is vinified in stainless steel vats and in barrels (not new). A part of the wine goes through a malolactic fermentation. This cuvée is typically a blend of several vintages with at least 40% being reserve wine. The Champagne rests 48 months “sur lattes” before being disgorged. The dosage is 7g/L.”
Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Reserve VII IX X, Rhone NV 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Wine Advocate 96 points “While I reviewed this NV Châteauneuf du Pape La Reserve VII IX X (a blend from the 2007, 2009 and 2010 vintages) last year, I was able to taste it again this go around, and it still blew me away. Fabulously full-bodied and decadent, with loads of lavender, incense, black raspberry and cured-meat nuances, it’s still youthful and vibrant, with notable freshness and purity. Enjoy this brilliant wine through 2028.”
Newton Vineyard ‘Skyside-Red Label’ Claret, North Coast 2016 750ML ($24.95) $16 special
Case-12 Newton Vineyard ‘Skyside-Red Label’ Claret, North Coast 2016 750ML ($299.95) $169 special (that’s only $14.08/bottle!)
Wine Enthusiast 90 points “Mint, chocolate and cherry flavors intermingle in this dry, full-bodied and firmly tannic wine blended from Bordeaux grape varieties. It offers plenty of blackberry notes shaded by black pepper and smoke and will stand up to the juiciest protein you can order.”Unpretentious Portuguese table reds are lots of fun.
Conceito Contraste Tinto, Douro 2014 750ML ($19.95) $14 special
Wine Advocate 89 points “The 2014 Contraste Tinto is mostly a field blend from 40-year-old vines, with some separated grapes, aged for 18 months in French oak (third and fourth use). Over the years, this second label has become increasingly interesting on its own. This is a rather respectable performance at this price level in a very shaky vintage. It is actually impressive in structure, showing fine grip on the finish and a bright feel. The mid-palate has respectable depth, too. What it seems to lack, at least now, is the typical flavor and vivid fruit that the bottling often has. Perhaps it will open more. I doubt it will ever be the best of the brand, but you can’t really go wrong at this price for a serious house pour. It will be a fine food wine.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay Riesling, Mosel 2011 750ML ($59.95) $33 special
Wine Advocate 91+ points “Carob and toasted nuts inflect baked apple and vanilla on the nose of Selbachs’ block-picked 2011 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay, which comes to the palate expansive, creamy, and buoyant (at 8.5% alcohol), its apple joined by almost overripe Persian melon. Hints of pip and botrytis bitterness add interest, but there is not the subtle interaction of flavors or the layer of primary juiciness that rendered the corresponding Anrecht bottling so memorable, but instead a more dominantly honeyed, soothingly rich personality. This long-finishing beauty may well – as its author suggests – just need some time to reveal its multiple layers.”
The next best price is $43.99
Adriano Marco e Vittorio Barbaresco “Basarin”, Barbaresco DOCG 2015 750ML ($34.95) $28 special
Wine Spectator 93 points “A streak of cherry bisects the supple texture and sleek structure in this elegant red. Hints of licorice, menthol, leather and tobacco add depth as this plays out on the chewy, resonant finish. Best from 2022 through 2038.”
Five Times in Forty Years
Heidsieck’s Blanc de Millenaires
Imagine there was a Champagne, produced by a top tier, historic house. Imagine that Champagne was a blanc de blancs, from some of the top Grand Cru villages and aged for an extended time on the lees before release. Further still, this mythical Champagne has only been released five times in the last forty years—truly, only the best vintages made the cut. You’d think this wine would be outlandishly expensive and impossible to acquire. You’d be wrong, though, because we’re offering Charles Heisieck’s Blanc de Millenaires for about the same price as a bottle of NV Krug. If you want great Champagne to taste like Grand Cru White Burgundy with fine bubbles, this is something you need to jump on.
Charles Heidsieck is one of the great, historic houses of Champagne, but because of their small size, they tend to be overlooked in conversations about elite wines in the region. That’s unfair on so many levels, from their excellent and inexpensive NV to this wine, the top-of-the-line Blanc des Millenaires, produced only in the (truly) best years. Millenaires is a white whale of the Champagne world. Even most “picky” houses declare 5-6 vintages a decade, but Heidsieck will only release this wine under the most perfect of circumstances (the last vintage released was the epic 1995). The resulting wine is powerful, intense but beyond elegant, as only Chardonnay given extended lees aging can provide. We’ve secured a small parcel arriving this summer and are excited to offer it at exceptional pricing. The winery has been mum on how long it will be until the next release, so this may be your best chance at this wine for some time.
Arriving ETA June:
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires, Champagne 2004 750ML ($199.95) $169 pre-arrival special
Decanter 97 points “It says much that Charles Heidsieck went for the 2004, not the richer 2002, as the long-awaited successor to the epic 1995 Millenaires – the ’04 has an admirable beauty and finesse in the classic mould that fits the style of this wine so well. It’s an intriguing blend of great Chardonnays from Oger, Mesnil, Avize and Cramant, but also from Vertus, a premier cru punching above its weight. Vanilla and butter flatter this wine famously, but there’s no oak. It has controlled richness, with precision and purity ruling over the green and tropical fruits. A magnificent champagne with impressively elegant acidity, a triumph now and for years to come. Disgorged in 2016. Drinking Window 2020 – 2035.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “A seamless Champagne, showing a texture of raw silk, this weaves vibrant acidity with an expressive range of glazed apple and poached white cherry fruit flavors, with pickled ginger and saffron spice details and rich notes of pastry cream, toast and coffee liqueur. More about finesse than power, this is long and creamy on the mineral-tinged finish. Drink now through 2028. [Reviewed Dec 2018]”
“I should acknowledge that I’ll never really understand these remarkable wines. I can reach the point of explaining how (and why) I fall short. But Helmut’s and Cornelius’ wines are ultimately inexplicable. They do not quite add up. And so they fill me with longing, and render me mute.
“Long-time readers and drinkers will perhaps be familiar with what I’m talking about, and with a certain shimmer of spirit that imbues the wines. Younger readers only need to know this: the wines of this miraculous domaine show an incomparable purity allied to unfathomable expressiveness. They are tender but not demure, or another way to say it is, they are forceful but always tender. As a rule, if you have wines of this kind of galvanic intensity, they are textured so as to pierce your palate. But Dönnhoff’s wines have a more silken profile; they seem to want to make you sigh, to loosen your shoulders and take a deep breath, to return a caress. They are themselves caressing, but you don’t know how this can be, and there’s no one you can caress in return. So then, maybe, you look for words to explain this phenomenon, or merely to register and remember it. If you’re like me, you won’t quite find them. The wines are as close to the nature of music as any wines can be. ” –Terry Theise
The wines that Cornelius and Helmut Dönnhoff are making need little in the way of introduction. They’re considered, at worst, a top-five estate in Germany and many connoisseurs feel as though they’re the premier wines in the country. Based in the Nahe, which lies in between the Mosel and Rheingau, the wines seem to combine the richness and power of the latter with the bright acidity of the former. Throw in a mind-boggling number of soils (often within a single vineyard) and you have a recipe for complexity and profundity in Riesling.
We offer these wines every year, always wondering how the family will top the previous vintage. Every year we taste the wines and are blow away at the quality. While the top end wines from Dönnhoff are still very far from being available, we’ve secured our allocation of the entry level wines from the vaunted estate and they live up to the family name (again). If you’ve only tried the to end wines, we’d urge you to buy—and age—the “baby” bottles as they improve remarkably with 5-10 years in bottle. It’s a tough ask, what with limited cellar space and how delicious these are young, but the results will surprise you. The wines arrive next month, perfect for drinking over the summer (if we’re being realistic) or aging for a decade (if you have lots of self control).
Arriving ETA May:
Weingut Donnhoff Riesling Trocken, Nahe 2018 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Weingut Donnhoff Riesling Trocken, Nahe 2018 750ML ($299.95) $219 pre-arrival special (that’s only $18.25/bottle!)
Importer note “At once fine and elegant with delicate peach and citrus aromas, but also unusually powerful for the humble category and this producer. Long, ripe and crisp finish. From organically grown grapes. Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold. Screw cap.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Case-12 Weingut Donnhoff Tonschiefer Riesling Trocken, Nahe 2018 750ML ($379.95) $275 pre-arrival special (that’s only $22.92/bottle!)
Importer note “Tonschiefer – The slate influence lends this classic Riesling a delicate and balanced acidity! The Leistenberg vineyard lies in a small side valley of the Nahe just outside Oberhausen. Th e name is a double play on words. “Leisten ” means “achieve ” in German, and the Leistenberg perpetually lives up to its name. “Lei ” is also a regional word for slate, and these warm, decomposed clay slate soils and steep terraced hillsides provide ideal conditions for Riesling to thrive. Th e southeast-facing slope basks in the morning sun, which dries out any excess moisture and promotes healthy fruit. Th e afternoon sun is less powerful, nurturing a long ripening period and moderate alcohol levels. An ideal vineyard for Kabinett wines of high minerality and sophisticated elegance.”
Case-12 Weingut Donnhoff Riesling, Nahe 2018 750ML ($299.95) $219 pre-arrival special (that’s only $18.25/bottle!)
Importer note “The geology of the middle Nahe is notably shaped by its eons-old clay slate formations and rich volcanic soils. The concentration of porphyry and melaphyre stone in and around the old Oberhausen vineyards – Kieselberg and Felsenberg, help provide the perfect berry base for Gutsriesling.”
Case-12 Weingut Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett, Nahe 2018 750ML ($379.95) $275 pre-arrival special (that’s only $22.92/bottle!)
Importer note “The Leistenberg vineyard lies in a small side valley of the Nahe just outside Oberhausen. The name is a double play on words. “Leisten ” means “achieve ” in German, and the Leistenberg perpetually lives up to its name. “Lei ” is also a regional word for slate, and these warm, decomposed clay slate soils and steep terraced hillsides provide ideal conditions for Riesling to thrive. The southeast-facing slope basks in the morning sun, which dries out any excess moisture and promotes healthy fruit. The afternoon sun is less powerful, nurturing a long ripening period and moderate alcohol levels. An ideal vineyard for Kabinett wines of high minerality and sophisticated elegance.”