Jump Starting the February Sale
The Royal Family of the Southern Rhone?
Regis Forey – Secret Star of Burgundy
New Wine Spectator Reviews for Dry German Rieslings
US Exclusive: The Next Keller?
First Offer: 2018 Entry Level Dönnhoff
Last Call on the January Sale!
The month has yet to start and already we’ve slashed prices on Tuscan icons, great red Burgundy and classic Cote Rotie. It’s an amazing way to begin the month (provided you like excellent deals on outstanding wines) and we’re excited to bring you more in the days/weeks ahead. As with all of our Sale Wines—these prices are limited to stock on hand, so once we sell out, the sale pricing is gone forever. We have all the new additions below, but you can also view the full list in our web store by clicking here.
In Stock Now:
Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano, Tuscany 2001 375ML ($219.95) Was $199, Now $169 February Sale Special
Wine Advocate 98 points “The 2001 Vin Santo di Montepulciano (375 milliliters) is a divine and superbly delicious sweet blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and Grechetto. The results are super concentrated and simmered down to a virtual reduction sauce of deliciousness. There are so many aromas to name, but some of the most evident highlights include candied orange peel, almond marzipan, caramel, toasted coffee bean, vanilla stick, mocha, dark honey and fragrant yellow rose. The mouthfeel is creamy, rich and deeply layered. I’m suggesting a slightly shorter drinking window here compared to the Occhio di Pernice. But, the truth is: I have no idea. I’m pretty sure these wines will outlive anyone of legal drinking age.”
Burghound 91-93 points “This is completely different with its brooding and reserved nose of ripe extract of black cherry along with plenty of earth, floral and sauvage hints. The powerful and concentrated middle weight plus flavors possess a lush and velvety mouth feel while displaying ample muscle on the structured, serious and impressively persistent finale. Like the Clos de l’Ecu, this moderately rustic effort will need patience.”
Now it’s even lower!
Wine Spectator 93 points “Dark tones of black currant, blackberry and violet mark this broad, muscular red, which is burly on the compact finish, with an earthy aftertaste. Best from 2022 through 2037.”
Wine Advocate 92+ points “One of the highlights of the range this year, the 2015 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Porêts-Saint-Georges offers up a brooding bouquet of crushed currants, currant leaf, rich soil and grilled game bird. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, deep and chewy with bright, crunchy fruit but a formidable chassis of fine-grained tannins which will demand a good decade in the cellar. For those with patience, this should be a fine proposition.”
Burghound 90-93 points “A pretty if restrained nose speaks of various wild red berries, earth and once again sauvage nuances. The supple yet concentrated medium weight flavors possess both fine volume and detail on the punchy and lightly mineral-inflected finale that is less rustic than usual. What is entirely typical though is the expected aging curve as this is almost certainly to be extremely long-lived.”
VinopolNote: Made from vineyards originally belonging to Domaine Jamet (and kept in his split from the domaine). The 2013 is the first vintage for Jean-Luc Jamet and a promising start that shows the class of the terroir he’s working with.
Wine Advocate 95+ points “Il Poggione is a Brunello superstar and a vintage like this reveals every reason why that affirmation is true. From the second the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino pours into the glass, you know you are in for something special. The wine is darkly saturated and rich in appearance. Absent are those slightly amber or browning hues you often get with Sangiovese in a hot vintage. Nor does the wine show flat or tired characteristics. Instead, the quality of fruit is vibrant and rich. This is a healthy, generous and exuberant Brunello with dark density and succulent fruit flavors that are followed by integrated spice and tobacco. The balance is impressive and one thing you get here is fresh acidity. This is not to be underestimated, because the acidity quota in the 2012 vintage across the appellation is not as high or evident as usual. This is one of the year’s best Brunellos.”
Ian D’agata – Vinous 93+ points “Good full red. Medicinal red cherry, raspberry, sweet spices and mint on the fresh, precise nose. Bright and sweet, with a penetrating, austere quality to its flavors of red fruits, minerals and medicinal herbs. Harmonious acidity nicely frames the pure, long, youthfully tight finish. Lovely young Brunello that will repay cellaring.”
Gilbert & Gaillard 92 points “Beautiful ruby-red. Ripe, raspberry-dominant nose that reveals itself more after swirling. The palate is well-structured and firm yet lively. Lovely fruit expression with lots of refinement and freshness. An adolescent wine that needs lengthy cellaring.”
Now it’s even lower!
James Suckling 97 points “So much dried-flower character on the nose with dark fruit and zest of orange peel. Full body, soft and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. So sexy and delicious already. A little more than 100 cases made. Drink or hold.”
James Suckling 98 points “So perfumed and aromatic with fabulous character of flowers, dark berries and chalk. Full-bodied and voluptuous. Ripe and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. A wine with great potential and depth. Flamboyant. Drink in 2022.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2015 Romanee St Vivant les Quatre Journaux Grand Cru is a lovely wine, and one which is likely to surprise in blind tastings in a few years’ time. A pretty nose of rose petal, ripe red cherry, dark chocolate, anise and incipient smoked duck introduces a full-bodied, supple wine with a lavish, expansive attack, good depth, and an ample chassis of fine-grained tannins. The finish is deceptively long. This wine seems likely to be one of the more approachable 2015 grand crus and should give pleasure throughout a broad window.”
James Suckling 95 points “Incredible aromas of crushed strawberries, blueberries and flowers. Full body, full and linear tannins and a silky, caressing finish. Always compressed and refined. Drink in 2021.”
Now it’s even lower!
The Bruniers own and make wine from the venerable Chateau la Roquete, which the family purchased in 1986. Best known for big, rich white wines, the estate sits on the Piedlong plateau and is the source for the new “Piedlong” bottling from the family. Where Telegraphe sits in the La Crau subzone of Chateauneuf du Pape and is known for stern, powerful wines, Piedlong is best characterized by the elegance its sandy soils provide the wines. Rayas’ Pignan bottling is probably the best known example, and the Brunier wine shares a lot of the same traits with its much more expensive neighbor, including exceptional early drinkability and gorgeous aromatics. We just recently received fresh stock on all of the different Chateauneufs—perfect for winter drinking.
In Stock Now:
Domaine La Roquete Chateauneuf-du-Pape Clos La Roquete Blanc, Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $36 special
Wine Spectator 94 points “Intense, with creamed papaya, Cavaillon melon and Jonagold apple flavors pouring forth, underscored by heather honey, almond and salted butter notes. The long finish has a bitter citrus hint to help the length match the weight. Drink now through 2019. 100 cases imported.”
The average price is $47
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau, Rhone 2015 750ML ($79.95) $69 special
Wine Spectator 95 points “This has a lovely, perfumy mix of savory, mint, tobacco, blood orange, cherry and bergamot notes, with finely beaded acidity and silky but ample structure. Long, mineral- and shiso leaf-infused finish. Best from 2020 through 2035.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The flagship wine, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 5% other permitted varieties. It features delicate floral scents and ample cherry and licorice aromas. Somehow, it manages to be full-bodied and almost creamy in texture but without much weight, then it ends powerfully, with a flourish of rich Mexican chocolate on the long, silky finish. It should drink well for up to 20 years.”
Piedlong Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
James Suckling 95 points “10 hectares of elevated Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is an hommage to grenache with just a hatful of mourvèdre. Ripe raspberry and red plum pastry aromas. Super silky, plush and layered. Extremely impressive. Shows fluidity and balance, density and lightness. 50% stalks (crushed).”
The average price nationally is $53
Secret Star of Burgundy
We’re expecting the wines (especially the Grand Cru wines) to disappear quickly, but it’s a rarity for wines of this quality and rarity to even be offered on the newsletter like this. The 2016 vintage is, of course, a great year and more importantly it’s a year that plays into the style of the house. These look to be monumental wines. They arrive in March, but if you want anything in particular, you’d be well advised to grab them well before then.
“Régis Forey describes the 2016 vintage as “a massive struggle for the first half of the season and one of cautious optimism for the second.…The fruit was as clean as it was in 2015, which is to say largely spotless so there was not much sorting to be done. Better still, the fruit was quite ripe with potential alcohols that ranged between 12 and 13% so there was little chaptalization. I used around 40% whole clusters during what was an easy vinification and then used more new wood than I usually do, which is to say between 50 and 80%. As to the wines, they are structured and serious but more classic than say 2015 is. In fact the 2016s remind me quite a bit of a more concentrated version of 2014.” As I often do given Forey’s straightforward opinions, I agree with his view of his 2016s. They offer excellent quality and are fashioned in a robust style with a dollop of new wood that usually requires 2 to 5 years to ultimately integrate.” – Burghound
Arriving ETA March
Domaine Forey Pere et Fils Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2016 750ML ($219.95) $189 pre-arrival special
Burghound 92-94 points “This is actually aromatically similar to the Echézeaux if slightly earthier and not quite as spicy. There is by contrast both more volume and more concentration as well to the bold, robust and broad-shouldered flavors that possess a velvety mid-palate that contrasts markedly with the distinctly firm and even mildly rustic and warm finish that is fashioned in a take-no-prisoners style. This is also potentially excellent but while the Ech could be approached young, this is a Clos de Vougeot that will definitely need extended cellaring.”
Burghound 92 points “Here too there is a touch of reduction that pushes the notes of red currant, cherry, violet and spice elements to the background. There is though good freshness to richer and even more full-bodied flavors that possess outstanding concentration thanks to the abundance of dry extract that coats the palate and buffers the slightly less structured finale that also offers fine length and solid depth. As pretty as this is though, it can’t match the evident class of the Gaudichots good as it is.”
Burghound 93 points “There is perhaps the most floral-inflected wine in the range with its aromas of lavender, rose petal, lilac and violet as well as black pinot fruit, sandalwood and Asian-style tea. There is good freshness and the palate impression is at once lavish but focused with finely detailed, powerful and wonderfully energetic large-scaled flavors that culminate in a dusty, austere and strikingly long finish. This is potentially outstanding as it has everything it needs to mature into a sublime Gaudichots.”
Burghound 89-92 points “Once again the nose is exuberantly fresh, evidencing red currant, raspberry, lavender and a hint of wood spice. The vibrant, detailed and utterly delicious flavors are not particularly dense but I like both the mouthfeel and the refreshing finale that is sufficiently complex to make this quite an attractive effort overall, plus it could be enjoyed young.”
Burghound 90 points “Moderate wood surrounds the relatively high-toned aromas of various red berries and markedly floral-infused aromas that include violet, lavender and rose petal. The sappy and sleekly textured medium weight flavors exude a fine bead of minerality on the impressively long and reasonably firm and mildly austere if slightly warm finale. Thanks to the relatively fine-grain of the supporting tannins this is a Nuits of comparative refinement if not actual finesse.”
for Dry German Rieslings
Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten ‘Im Breumel’ Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($59.95) $45 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 94 points “Extremely elegant and precisely crafted, with notes of star anise and lavender framing the core of crunchy pear and blood orange flavors. The acidity is appreciable, fueling the flavors and spice accents. Savory mineral details linger on the finish. Best from 2021 through 2031.”
The next best price is $59.98
That’s a difference of nearly $15/bottle!
Wine Spectator 93 points “Multilayered, featuring well-sculpted and concentrated flavors of baked apple, gooseberry, roasted pineapple and vanilla bean. Acidity cuts through, delivering freshness midpalate and presenting ripe melon and quinine notes on the finish. Best from 2022 through 2030.”
The next best price is $64.38
That’s a difference of over $15/bottle!
Wine Spectator Insider Hot Wine!
Carl von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Mosel 2017 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Carl von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Mosel 2017 1.5L ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 95 points “This gorgeous dry Riesling has an exotic character, with elderflower and tropical fruit notes allied to passion fruit flavors that are accented by grapefruit, vanilla, and spice and mineral elements, which display depth and complexity, supported by the supple texture and vibrant acidity. Best from 2021 through 2034.”
The Rheinhessen’s Rising Star
for Spatburgunder and Riesling
The big difference is that while Pinot Noir from Keller is coveted but scarce, it’s a major part of the Thörle portfolio, coming from a number of different grand cru terroirs and doing one of the best Cote d’Or impressions you’ll see. Thörle’s top wines would be at home in a tasting of top Premier and Grand Cru red Burgundies—except that they’re priced $50+ below their peers in France. Likewise, the top Riesling, from the Hölle vineyard, is every bit the equal of the top GG’s from Dönnhoff, Wittmann, and other top producers in Germany, but is still less than $37 by the six-pack. These wines are currently not listed for sale anywhere else in the US and arrive this summer, so if you want a chance at them, act quickly—in a few years these prices are going to seem ridiculously low.
Arriving ETA June:
Thorle Saulheimer Holle Riesling, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($44.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Thorle Saulheimer Holle Riesling, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($259.95) $219 pre-arrival special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 96 points “Still youthful, but this has a complex stone-fruit nose. Concentrated and racy with great energy at the very long, chalky finish. Great aging potential. Drink or hold.”
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 94 points “Still quite yeasty from long maturation on lees, but that accentuates the smoky and herbal complexity of this remarkable dry silvaner. Just a hint of oak in support of the creamy, mid-weight body and long, silky finish. Drink or hold.”
Thorle Saulheimer Holle Spatburgunder, Rheinhessen 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 96 points
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 95 points Still quite closed on the nose, because this has just been bottled. However, on the palate there’s a sensational harmony of fine-grained tannins and perfectly ripe fruit, yet the wine has just 12.5 per cent alcohol. Great, chalky dry finish.”
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 94 points “This has a ravishing black cherry note with hints of leather and smoke. For a pinot noir in this price category, there’s great concentration, polished tannins and a long, complex finish. Drink or hold.”
2018 Entry Level Dönnhoff
“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 in May, perfect for drinking over the summer (if we’re being realistic) or aging for a decade (optimism).
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.”
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. 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.”