In This Newsletter:
New Vinous Brunello Review:
Mad for Musar:
Best in Bekka Valley
The First Growth of Hochheim:
New Kunstler arriving this summer
New Vintage of Roserock Chardonnay:
Value of Vaudieu
Taittinger’s Comtes De Champagne
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Chateau Routas Coteaux Varois en Provence Rose France 2020 750ML ($17.95) $13 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
*No Review for 2020 found, 2019 substituted*
James Suckling 93 points “The nose here is immediately captivating with its freshness, focus and interest. It suggests sea salt, thyme, freshly squeezed nectarines and a touch of well-executed, lifted citrus. The palate shows some good density and the fruit/acid balance is played out nicely. Medium-bodied and sleek and refreshing. Makes you come back for more. Routas on the money as always. Drink now.”
Salvioni Cerbaiola Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Tuscany 2017 ($249.95) $199 pre-arrival special
Eric Guido – Vinous 94 Points “Roses upon roses, wild strawberries, dusty cedar spice box, mint leaf and a hint of wet stone open the stage for the 2017 Brunello di Montalcino from Salvioni. This is beauty personified in wine, and it’s completely atypical for the harshly warm and dry vintage conditions. It fleshes out across the palate like fine silk, concentrated and poised, yet without a hard edge in sight, as cherries and plums give way to mounting minerality and sweet tannins toward the close. The 2017 boasts a crystalline structure and dramatic inner floral perfumes, as hints of cranberry and clove taper off. While this may not show the impeccable grace of the most classic vintages, it’s a darling all the same and has medium-term cellaring potential.”
These skillsets converge to create a dead ringer for a blanc de blanc Champagne, delivering a very similar plethora of fruit, nut and mineral flavors. Unlike Chardonnay however, Chenin Blanc tends to deliver a fruit character that is more along the lines of pears, yellow apples and soursop, accentuated by a smokey minerality associated with the tuffeau soils only found in the Loire.
Alain Robert wines in stock now:
Alain Robert Vouvray ‘Troglodyte’ Brut, Loire NV 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Rebecca Gibb MW-Vinous 89 points “A finely balanced NV Brut Troglodyte that’s spent around 18–24 months on lees. It’s a well-balanced, gentle style with attractive weight in the mouth and just the right amount of roundness. There’s nice tension on the finish, too, making for a great vinous drink with a fine bubble. Excellent value. (Drink between 2021-2027).”
Importer note “Christiane and Alain Robert founded the domaine in 1973. They are located in Chancay, just east of Vouvray. Their 38 hectares of vineyards, situated around the estate and in the neighboring village of Noizay, are mostly planted with Chenin Blanc, on silex and clay-limestone soil. Chardonnay, Grolleau and Chenin Noir (Pineau d’Aunis) are also cultivated on a few parcels. Their son Cyril, who trained in Champagne, joined them in 2000, followed by his sister Catherine two years later. Catherine brought with her ten years of experience gained in the Loire, including working alongside Jack Blot at Domaine de la Taille aux Loups.”
Prosecco is unfairly maligned for being one note and sickly sweet, but much like Zima and the Rolodex that’s all in the past. After decades of reworking the appellation requirements, the Italian government now labels Prosecco in a pyramidal way, with the best sites and practices now labeled as such. The Prosecco Superiore is now considered the calling card of the region, featuring aspects of the quality revolution at a budget friendly price.
Gasparini’s iteration illustrates this concept in spades, with the wine being sourced from a single vineyard of old vines planted in 1969. Fermented with native yeasts for nine months prior to bottling, there is no sugar added beyond what is left in the juice as it stops fermentation. The confluence of old vines and low fermentation temperature give the finished Prosecco tremendous length and dimension, offering a bouquet of white flowers ranging from pommes, citrus and anise.
Gasparini in stock now:
Loredan Gasparini Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Veneto NV 750ML ($17.95) $14 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
James Suckling 92 points “[Reviewed Oct 2021] Lots of initial froth here, which takes a while to subside and allow the lovely lemon and lemon blossom aromas to rise out of the glass. There are hints of licoricy chalk here, too. On the rather dense palate, the chalk turns to fresh cream and the lemon is absorbed into the creamy mineral texture with enough fizz to keep the sparkle up. Lovely, enduring and creamy yet biting finish. This is very fine Prosecco. Drink now.”
German Riesling is probably the favorite wine category amongst the staff here at Vinopolis, and for good reason! You’d be hard pressed to find so many styles of wine in one place, with sparkling being the latest to make waves in the wine world! Sekt as it’s called in Germany has been around on the market for a while and has seen a quality revolution alongside the rest of the country’s production. Climate change has also been a notable influence as well with Germany experiencing some of the best yields and growing years ever recorded.
Selbach-Oster Sekt in stock now:
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Sekt Extra Trocken, Mosel 2018 750ML ($34.95) $28 special, 22 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: Selbach-Oster is known as one of the best Riesling houses in the entire Mosel River Valley. Based in the Mittelmosel they estimate 55% of their grapevines are still ungrafted and entirely planted on mind-bendingly steep slopes. These factors converge with generations of winemaking talent to make some of the most compelling examples of Riesling in the world, be they sweet, dry or sparkling. Their Sekt is no exception, which undergoes champagne-style fermentation in the bottle as opposed to the more standard tank method. This creates a finer bubble, additional complexity and aging potential in the bottle, at half the price of what grower champagne is selling for these days!
One of the most beloved producers amongst the staff, Stein makes incredible wines from abandoned vineyards in the Mosel River Valley. Among these sites, Dr. Stein discovered one of the oldest plantings of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the entire valley and currently uses them as the backbone for his rose program. These are fascinating examples of terroir featuring the ethereal body, slatey minerality and exceptionally long finish of a classic Mosel wine re-interpreted through reds. If that’s not enough there’s even a sparkling version! Fermented in tank so as not to alter the flavors with autolysis, it’s almost too drinkable with notes of cherry juice, fresh cranberries, nasturtium, and rose water. There’s a definite Mosel character on the finish that’s reminiscent of wet river rock and mist, which makes it wholly unique in the literal sea of options on the market.
Wein-Erbhof Stein Secco Sparkling Rose, Mosel 2020 750ML ($29.95) $26 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Steep slate soils. Second fermentation in tank. Pinot Noir with approximately 20% Cabernet and Merlot, élevage all stainless.”
Cesarini Sforza is no beginner operation either, having been founded in 1974 by Count Lamberto Cesarini Sforza of the Duchy of Milan. Working almost entirely with Chardonnay, all of their grapes are grown organically on the traditional pergola trellis. The combination of high altitude and multi-layered soils contribute a crisp and clean minerality in addition to alpine-esque aromatics. Aged for over two years on the lees prior to disgorgement you also get some autolytic notes of brioche and sweetbread dough that bring to mind Key lime pie. The rose presents additional flavors of orange peel, oregano, and cinnamon against green strawberry and white peach.
Cesarini Sforza in stock now:
Cesarini Sforza Spumante Metodo Classico Brut Trento doc Trentino-Alto Adige NV 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Decanter 94 points “Impressive biscuity notes intertwined with lush ripe peaches and apples; smoky and toasty with a mouthwatering freshness and perfect acidity. Drinking Window 2020 – 2024.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 90 points “The NV Brut Metodo Classico wafts up with intensity, as savory spices and incense give way to dried flowers and apricot. This is round and soothing in feel, balancing a pretty inner sweetness with acidic tension. Mineral-tinged apples give way to enriching hints of hazelnut. It leaves the palate completely refreshed, tapering off with medium length. This non-vintage Trentodoc is a value in its category and a pleasure to taste.”
Cesarini Sforza Spumante Rose Brut Trentino-Alto Adige NV 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Eric Guido-Vinous 91 points “The NV Brut Rosé Metodo Classico is a pretty and vibrant shade of pink, with a bouquet of smoke and crushed stone that gives way to young peach and a spritz of lime. This fills the palate with silken bubbles and savory minerals which nicely contrast its mix of ripe strawberry and baked apple. It tapers off persistent, with a salty flourish and red inner florals that linger on. Nicely done.”
Mad for Musar:
Best in Bekka Valley
Founded by Gaston Hochar in 1930, his son Serge took the world by storm in the late 1970’s after leaving Bordeaux for the Bekka Valley. Lebanon is one of the world’s first producers of wine that dates back over 6,000 years and was mentioned throughout antiquity for its quality, but has seen almost constant unrest since World War 2. The Hochar family has reported driving finished wines through minefields, witnessing the spillover of the Syrian Civil War, and delaying harvest in 2017 because ISIS and the Lebanese army were on their vineyard’s doorstep!
In spite of that, Musar has consistently delivered exceptional reds, whites and rose year after year to the international market. This is in part from their vineyards located in the Bekka Valley of Lebanon, a high elevation region between Mt. Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The elevation and mountainous conditions allows for massive temperature shifts during the evenings, allowing for the grapes to slowly ripen with good acidity.
Working exclusively with old vines that have always been farmed organically, Musar makes a fantastic single village wine named after Gaston in addition to their Cuvee that’s made them world famous. Working with a blend of varietals including Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvigion for reds, the reds are built for serious aging and collecting. Expect all the power and nuance of a super Tuscan, with the lift of Bandol and a totally unique frankincense, oud, cumin and sumac character that is definitively Middle Eastern.
In spite of the extensive history growing winegrapes, there are only two indigenous varieties that see commercial production anymore. Obaideh and Merwah as they’re called are white varietals produced in highly limited qualities and are famous for their age worthiness. Musar theorizes that the varietals are native to the mountains and describes them as “perfectly suited for the Lebanon, requiring no irrigation, canopy management or agrochemical application”. Full bodied and textured the Musar Blanc exhibits a creamy and spiced character underscored by Meyer lemon, black lime, frankincense, apricots and beeswax with high acidity and incredibly long finish.
Chateau Musar wines in stock now:
Chateau Musar Blanc Bekaa Valley 2013 750ML ($69.95) $57 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Winery note “In their youth: yellow-gold, subtly oaky, and creamy-textured, rich yet dry and intensely citrusy, with honeyed nuances. Wholly unique, the style has been described as resembling ‘dry Sauternes’ or mature white Graves. Chateau Musar Whites develop tawny hues and mellow spicy characters as they age. The cellars at Ghazir hold bottles of this wine dating as far back as 1954. Seven years in the making, Chateau Musar White is a blend of ancient grape varieties Obaideh and Merwah, indigenous to the mountains of Lebanon and said to be related to Chasselas Chardonnay and Semillon. The Obaideh vineyards are in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountains on stony, chalky soils, while the Merwah vines are on the seaward side of Mount Lebanon, on calcareous gravels. Yields are very low for these untrained bushvines: 10 – 20 hl per hectare. At high altitude (around 1400m) they are still on their own roots, among very few vineyards in the world of this calibre.”
Chateau Musar ‘Hochar Pere et Fils’ Red Bekaa Valley 2017 750ML ($34.95) $28 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Decanter 91 points “This single-vineyard wine, from Aana, is made in a modern style: concentrated and slightly reductive. It shows notes of new oak barrels, lovely red berry fruit (reminiscent of Grenache) and garrigue aromas. So Mediterranean on the palate, with sweet tannins, spices and a meaty hint on the aftertaste. A very friendly, easy-to-drink and enjoyable wine. It becomes even better and more refined a day after the bottle is opened. I would recommend decanting it.”
Antonio Galloni 90 points “The 2017 Hochar is powerful and dense in the glass. Ripe flavors and incisive tannins give the 2017 much of its brooding personality. Readers should plan on opening the 2017 at least an hour or two in advance, as the tannins are rather grainy at the outset. With time ripe black cherry, spice, leather and licorice flavors emerge nicely. The blend is 55% Cinsault, 35% Grenache and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Chateau Musar Bekaa Valley 2015 750ML ($69.95) $54.50 special, 25 bottles in stock now
New Kunstler arriving this summer
The Rheingau is synonymous with German wine history having their wine being first mentioned by writers from the Roman and Holy Roman Empire. Production hit a new scale with the arrival of the Benedictine and Cistercian monks, who found the hillside vineyards they planted beside their monasteries to produce exceptional wine. These events pale in comparison to the economic impact of a visit made by Queen Victoria herself on vacation, sparking a country-wide proclivity for German Riesling that catapulted their prices to above even Burgundy. If that wasn’t enough the Rheingau is also credited with inventing and implementing the the Prädikatswein system that is still in use today throughout Germany.
Kunstler makes fabulous Rheingau Riesling of grace and openness that “are very pure, clean and precise, without tasting as though they’ve been sanitized and had the character stripped out of them. They are detailed and meticulous, but also delicious and satisfying,” to borrow more from Theise. Kunstler’s best wines reminds us of the days when ‘hock’ wine was prized above Bordeaux.
Kunstler wines arriving September 2022:
Kunstler Hochheimer Holle Riesling Erste Lage, Rheingau 2020 750ML ($39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Weingut Kunstler Hochheimer Holle Riesling Grosses Gewächs Rheingau 2020 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott 98 points “The deep, peach and apricot nose leads you into this enormously concentrated yet graceful dry riesling that’s got the stature to stand next to almost any Grand Cru white Burgundy. Enormously long, beautifully balanced finish that pulls your hand magnetically back to the glass. Drink or hold.”
Weingut Kunstler Hochheim Kirchenstuck Riesling Grosses Gewächs Rheingau 2020 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Weingut Kunstler Kostheimer Weiss Erd Riesling Grosses Gewächs Rheingau 2020 750ML ($69.95) $49 pre-arrival special, 36+ bottles arriving
Stuart Pigott 97 points “A masterpiece from an almost unknown vineyard site. The cool and deep nose pulls you into this very concentrated and supple dry riesling GG that has so much power, packed into a sleek silhouette. Long, silky and chalky finish. Drink or hold.”
New Vintage of Roserock Chardonnay:
Roserock Chardonnay 2019 arriving April 5th, 2022
Roserock Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills 2019 750ML ($39.95) $36 pre-arrival special
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 99 points “The 2019 Chardonnay from Domaine Drouhin Roserock is absolutely stunning, and I simply can’t put it down. It explodes with singular scents of fenugreek, sage and dried flowers streaked with graphite, and it glides across the palate like satin, an integrated tang drawing out lemongrass-like accents that add a touch of exoticism to this cuvée. It finishes with extraordinary length.”
Value of Vaudieu
Château de Vaudieu is owned and helmed by the dynamic Brechet family—the same clan that run Domaine de Bosquets, one of our best-selling Gigondas. This is a family hell-bent on quality and the pursuit of perfection. The family purchased Vaudieu in the 1950’s in a state of disrepair and has driven the historic Château to the prominence it held in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The estate sits on a confluence of soils and the myriad of terroirs yield exemplary complexity in the wines, which are made by the all-star team of Laurent Brechet and Philippe Cambie. The wines show Cambie’s trademark style, with big, opulent fruit and power to spare. This is one of the truly elite producers in all of the Southern Rhone and it’s always a treat to sell you these wines.
Vaudieu Wines in stock now:
Famille Brechet Chateau de Vaudieu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone 2017 750ML ($49.95) $44.50 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Moving to the 2017s and starting with the base Châteauneuf Du Pape, it’s a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was brought up mostly in demi-muids. Revealing a ruby/purple hue as well as notes of black raspberries, kirsch, garrigue, incense, and loamy soil and earth, this beauty hits the palate with beautiful depth of fruit, a layered, rounded, sexy texture, no hard edges, remarkable purity, and just tons of charm. Drink it any time over the coming decade or more.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 91-92 points “Deep red. Highly perfumed red berry and floral aromas are complemented by suggestions of cracked pepper and smoky minerals. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering ripe raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. In a seamless, energetic style, displaying a smooth blend of richness and finesse and finishing gently sweet and impressively long, with even tannins and building spiciness.”
Famille Brechet Chateau de Vaudieu Chateauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue… Rhone 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 97+ points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue is all Grenache sourced from a single parcel near the estate and aged 18 months in demi-muids. This deeply colored beauty boasts a huge perfume of black raspberries, blackberries, dried flowers, bouquet garni, and sandy/loamy soil notes. With a powerful, concentrated, structured style, incredible purity of fruit, and tons of tannin on the finish, hide bottles for 3-5 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following decade or more.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape l’Avenue is entirely Grenache from the lieu-dit Vaudieu, aged in demi-muids. Loaded with black cherries, cedar and vanilla, it’s a full-bodied, plush sexpot of a wine. Velvety, intense, long and layered, this wine has it all. If only there were more than 350 cases of this elixir.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “Intense, with a gorgeous core of crushed plum, boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruit flavors, inlaid liberally with fruit cake, licorice snap and graphite notes. Fruit pumps through the finish while a graphite edge lends support and a black tea hint checks in. Best from 2020 through 2040. 75 cases imported.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95 points “Glistening ruby-red. Powerful red and blue fruit, floral pastille, exotic spice and incense aromas pick up a smoky mineral nuance as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and expansive in the mouth, offering spice- and smoke-inflected raspberry, boysenberry, lavender pastille and succulent herb flavors and a touch of candied licorice. Finishes seamless, sweet and impressively long, with an echo of juicy red fruit and delicate tannins that add discreet grip.”
Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne
In the classic novel and subsequent film, From Russia with Love, James Bond famously says “I’ll take Taittinger blanc de blancs….. It is not well known, but it is the best Champagne in the world” when asked for his drink order. Representing the top selection from the Tattinger estate vineyards, it is entirely Chardonnay (the favorite grape of the house) and aged for a minimum of ten years before disgorgement. There is also a rose bottling largely comprised of Pinot Noir with a dash of Chardonnay as well, with the inclusion of 15% Pinot Noir added in for color and additional flavor. The Pinot Noir used is a mix of techniques including vinification as a red in addition to a Blanc de Noir style typically employed with non-rose offerings.
Taittinger describes the house style as emphasizing “Lightness and natural, elegant wines expressive of their origin” with as little dosage added as possible to allow the fullest character of their fruit to come through in the finished product. The house has some of the largest estate holdings of grapevines in all of Champagne, the majority of them predominantly in the illustrious Cote Des Blancs.
2007 was the first vintage that saw the Tattinger family resuming complete control over the operations of the house after repurchasing controlling interest. The dominance of Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs combined with the extended time en tirage (on the lees) makes for an incredibly nuanced expression of the varietal, terroir and house. With a lean fruit profile, layers of tertiary character and an electrifying minerality; this is a liquid work of art.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne in stock now:
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 2004 750ML ($349.95) $279 special, 29 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 96 points “I am thrilled with the way the 2004 Comtes de Champagne continues to evolve in bottle. A few years ago, the 2004 was quite focused and linear, in the style of the vintage, but more recently, the wine has begun to fill out beautifully. The 2004 remains bright, with a full range of citrus, white flower and mineral nuances that dance on the palate. A brisk, saline-infused finish rounds things out beautifully in a Comtes that impresses for its crystalline purity. I expect the 2004 will always remain a bit cool next to the more opulent 2002, but it is still drop-dead gorgeous.”
Decanter 96 points “It was a dry vintage up to August, which turned exceptionally wet and cool. September saved the vintage with the ideal weather conditions – low rainfall and cool nights. The graceful nose opens to white flowers, ripe apricot and citrus hints. It is tense and refined, with a vivid mineral core balanced by pristine acidity and some toasted notes on the finish. It’s not the most expressive today, but wait for it to awaken. This is built for cellaring. Drinking Window 2025 – 2040.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “A rich and enticing aroma of roasted hazelnut heralds this elegant blanc de blancs, with flavors of pastry, poached apple, crystallized honey and candied ginger riding the finely detailed mousse. This is a touch smoky, presenting a resonant minerality on the finish. Drink now through 2029. 500 cases imported. — AN”
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Brut Rose Champagne 2007 750ML ($299.95) $239 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 97 points “The 2007 Comtes de Champagne Rosé is a total knock-out. Racy and exuberant in the glass, the 2007 wraps around the palate with stunning textural depth and resonance. The 15% still Pinot adds structure and persistence to a creamy, inviting Rosé Champagne that will leave readers weak at the knees. Hints of rose petal, dried cherry, cinnamon and dried flowers meld into the sublime finish. This is about as good as it gets. Wow!”
Decanter 97 points “The Comtes de Champagne Rosé is composed of 30% Chardonnay (Grands Crus from Côtes de Blancs), 70% Pinot Noir (Grands Crus from Montagne de Reims, including 15% Pinot Noir from Bouzy, vinified as red wine). It has strawberry, mint, rose petal and cherry notes on the exuberant nose. The palate is racy and creamy, very compact and fresh, with a delicate salty note on the finish.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 96 points “This bottle of Taittinger’s just-released 2007 Brut Comtes de Champagne Rosé was disgorged in December 2018, and it’s showing brilliantly, unfurling in the glass with a complex bouquet of blood orange, minty raspberries, red plums, dried flowers and warm brioche. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, chalky and tensile, sharing a racy, chiseled profile with its Blanc de Blancs cousin. Deep, concentrated and tightly wound, the wine concludes with a long, sapid finish. This is an intense, racy Comtes Rosé with a long future ahead of it. As has been the norm chez Taittinger for several years now, the blend is based upon 70% Pinot Noir and includes 15% still red wine from Bouzy.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “This harmonious rosé Champagne offers quiet grace, with a pleasing juiciness to the sleek acidity, framing finely knit flavors of raspberry, peach, brioche and candied pink grapefruit zest. Showing a raw silk–like texture, this caresses the palate through to the fresh, ginger-laced finish. Drink now through 2027. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 550 cases imported. — AN”