In This Newsletter:
The Don of Puente Alto:
Don Melchor Cabernet
Flower of Brunello:
The Count of Monte Rosa
San Polino’s Impressive Brunello
From Champagne with Love
Tiffany Blue Treasures
Elite and Ancient Sherry
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The Don of Puente Alto:
Don Melchor Cabernet
You’ve heard of Concha Y Toro and their work establishing Chile as a major wine hub but did you know that they have one of the most awarded Chilean wines in their portfolio as well? Don Melchor is their top cuvee from the Puente Alto region, a high elevation growing area at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Sourced from 30 year old vines (Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) planted in alluvial runoff from the latter mountains, this is a perfect snapshot of Chile’s best terroir. If that wasn’t enough, the 2018 vintage is considered one of the best in recent memory, with no adverse weather and ideal conditions throughout the season. With an élevage entirely in French Oak (75% new) this is a collector’s item built for the long haul.
Don Melchor in stock now:
Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2018 ($139.95) $108 special, 27 bottles in stock now
100 points james suckling “This is amazing. The vibrancy and energy in this wine is stunning. The complexity of aromas are breathtaking with flowers, blackcurrants, raspberries and peaches. Full-bodied, yet ever so refined and polished with impeccable texture and beauty. The length is marvelous. This is a testimony to balance, harmony and transparency in a great red. Drink after 2023.”
Flower of Brunello:
This is a Brunello built for long-term aging, given the ripe fruit profile and richly developed tannins from the 2015 vintage. La Fiorita means “flowery” in Italian and this certainly comes through in the wine with notes of rose petal, rosemary and flowering oregano. These qualities have already been harmonizing during the additional time in vat and bottle required by the Riserva classification. Expect this wine to continue improving for at least 10 years, as even La Fiorita’s entry-level Brunello is famously austere. But if you can’t wait that long, a few hours in a decanter will have it singing.
La Fiorita in stock now:
La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2015 Tuscany ($119.95) $89 special, 18 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 97 points “Highly Recommended. This rich red is energetic and balanced, saturated with black cherry, plum and mineral flavors. Accents of wild rosemary and sage chime in as this remains fresh and long on the iron and underbrush aftertaste. Best from 2024 through 2045. 310 cases made, 100 cases imported.”
The next best price is $99.98
Love Tuscany? We have over 165 different options in stock. Shop the entire selection, including staff favorites like Castell’in Villa, Fèlsina, Fontodi and more, on our web store now.
The Count of Monte Rosa
You see everything from prehistoric marine sediment, schist, fractured limestone, granite and even sandstone. There is so much complexity that only the locals have dared to try classifying the contents of their soil, with Alberto Arlunno of Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo leading the charge. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period according to archeological digs conducted, with winemaking occurring before the incursion of the Roman Empire. The Arlunno family has been farming in their home village of Ghemme since the 16th century, with their vineyards located primarily in Monte Rosa. The high elevation, varying soil types and ancestral knowledge of the site delivers a wholly unique interpretation of Spanna, the local name for Nebbiolo.
The marginal growing conditions combined with the naturally high acid and tannin of Nebbiolo makes these among the most long lived wines in all of Italy. These climactic conditions are also conducive to weathering climate change, with warm vintages still displaying a perfect balance between ripeness and acidity. Cantalupo especially is a master of delivering fruit driven Nebbiolo that’s still loaded with secondary characteristics like botanicals, earth, minerals and truffles. Cantalupo was among the first in the area to label their wines vineyard specifically, not unlike how the Riserva line of Produttori in Barbaresco is classified.
These are benchmark wines that are critically undervalued…for now. As climate change advances Alto Piemonte is considered to be the “Next Barolo” as balance becomes harder and harder to achieve with Nebbiolo’s famous precociousness.
Cantalupo wines in stock now:
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo ‘Cantalupo Anno Primo’ Ghemme DOCG 2012 750ML ($44.95) $36 special, 7 bottles in stock now
“The 2012 Cantalupo Anno Primo is a powerful, dark potent wine. Wild cherry, spice, tobacco and menthol contribute to its brooding, somber rustic personality. The 2012 is very big and dense.” -Antonio Galloni
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae Ghemme DOCG 2013 750ML ($79.95) $55 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Collis Breclemae Ghemme DOCG 2013 1.5L ($149.95) $119 special, 15 magnums in stock now
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2013 Ghemme Collis Breclamae is fabulous. Deep, dark and also translucent, the 2013 possesses magnificent clarity as well as structure. Black cherry, lavender, truffle, mint, spice and new leather all develop in an ample, resonant Ghemme that hits all the right notes. A rich, substantial finish rounds things out in style. The 2013 can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring, but it also has the pedigree to develop in the cellar for many years to come. Each time I come back to the 2013 it is more impressive.”
Love wines from Alto Piemonte? We carry a number of producers from the area including Ar.Pe.Pe, Proprieta Sperino, and Nervi
San Polino’s Impressive Brunello
In the cellar, the wines are crafted with a modern palate in mind. Fruit-forward and full-bodied, these delicious Brunellos offer plenty of lush youthful delight, but enough structure to age gracefully as well. We’ve been singing the praises of Tuscany’s 2016s for some time, and San Polino’s high-scoring wines are everything we love about that legendary vintage. James Suckling summed it up best in describing the 2016 Helichrysum: “Wow.”
San Polino wines in stock now:
San Polino Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($79.95) $66 special, 28 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 97 points “Attractive aromas of cherry, dark mushroom, bark and walnut follow through to a full body with lots of ripe cherry and berry character in the center palate. Firm, chewy tannins draw you down the palate. Extremely long. From organically grown grapes. Better than the superb 2015? Drink after 2023 and onwards.”
San Polino Helichrysum, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
James Suckling 98 points “Wow. This is really complex on the nose with black cherries, mushrooms, dried flowers and cedar. Some crushed stone and dry earth or tile. This is full-bodied and very layered with wonderful depth of fruit and creamy tannins. It’s focused and serene. Better than 2015. From organically grown grapes. Try in 2024 and onwards.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “Made with certified organic fruit, the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Helichrysum opens to full-bodied richness and concentration. It reveals a dark and velvety side to Sangiovese, and it shows the latitude of the grape, thanks to its fresh acidity and tannic structure. This special selection (with 6,000 bottles made) will benefit from more years in the cellar, but among these new Brunello releases from 2016, this wine should also perform nicely in a near or medium-term drinking scenario, maybe at your favorite Italian restaurant with ravioli in wild boar sauce.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 94 points “Exotic, spicy, enticing, sultry; these are just a few of the words that come to mind while taking in the bouquet of the 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Helichuyrum. Sour cherries mix with mint, sage, cedar dust and white smoke to form a seductive display. It’s velvety in texture with ripe polished fruits that seem to come in waves, each time building more and more tension as minerals and fine tannins slowly saturate. The sheer density here nearly masks its structural heft, which is not to say that this lacks balance; in fact, the 2016 Helichuyrum is in perfect form. Lavender, blackberry and a hint of licorice linger long through the dark and dramatic finale.”
Did you know that Cru Barbaresco comes in more shades than red? Sourced from three estate vineyards in the legendary Ovello, Cars and Ronchi Cru’s this is a spectacular value on its pedigree alone. There are buckets of fresh strawberries, cranberries and red cherry, with a slightly minty-spicy finish redolent of Anise Hyssop. The aromas are equally as expressive, with a whole bouquet of elderflower, lemon blossom and orange zest rounding out the exuberance of the fruit.
In a nutshell: explosively fruity and highly aromatic, yet still medium bodied with a slightly tannic and refreshing finish. This would be perfect garden party wine that’s compatible with anything from watercress sandwiches to gumbo.
Luigi Giordano Vino Rosato Alba Piedmont 2020 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Importer note “100% Nebbiolo from family parcels inside Barbaresco crus of Ovello, Ronchi & Cars. Hand-picked in September. Soft pressing followed by 3-hour maceration.
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 red varietals. If that’s not enough it’s even sparkling! 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 with a mineral finish.
In stock and available now:
Wein-Erbhof Stein Secco Sparkling Rose Mosel 2020 750ML ($29.95) $26 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Steep slate soils. Second fermentation in tank. Pinot Noir with approximately 20% Cabernet and Merlot, élevage all stainless.” Sparkling wine.
“The National drink of Swabia, Now available in pink”
Known more by its Italian name Schiava, Trollinger is the most planted varietal in the German region called Swabia and nicknamed the areas “National Drink”. Vinified by local celebrity winemaker Jochen Beurer with a biodynamic field blend of other red grapes including Pinot Noir, Zwigelt, and Portugieser; this is the epitome of easy drinking rose. Made from the saignée method with no filtering or sulfur added, the rose walks the line between fleshy and fresh. With a medium body and a plethora of fruits, citrus and herbs that reminds one of maraschino cherry, fresh squeezed orange juice, and basil. The finish is refreshing and incredibly food friendly, to the point where you don’t want to share.
In Stock Now
Beurer Rose Trocken Wurttemberg 2020 750ML ($24.95) $20.90 special, 10 bottles in stock now
A saignée blend of Trollinger, Portugieser, Zweigelt and Spätburgunder in an eye-popping bottle. Certified biodynamic.
Comprised of Chenin Blanc and Pinotage sourced from a single farm. Grown at over 1,000 feet above sea level, the wine is bottled before fermentation completes, creating bubbles from the last of the remaining sugars. Pinotage takes on a spectrum of blue, black and purple fruits underscored by a tertiary plethora of smoke and earth, with the Chenin contributing beeswax, honeysuckle, chamomile, quince and yellow apple. If one had to summarize the wine in a word: Crushable.
Mother Rock Pet-Nat Rose in stock now:
Mother Rock ‘Force Majeure – Force Celeste’ Cuvee PN Pet Nat Swartland 2021 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Importer note “A Pet-Nat that puts Pinotage in the spotlight. South Africa’s native grape is best known for its bright fruit and deep earthy character, which translate beautifully in this joyful rosé fizz. Slightly hazy salmon-pink in the glass, with aromas of raspberries, blood orange and earthy rhubarb. Fresh in the mouth, with crunchy cranberry fruit and a savoury edge. Delicious and dangerously drinkable at only 11%!”
This is the lowest listed price in the world today!
The high elevation, intense sunshine and marginal soils create an incredible expression of rose Organically farmed Nerello Mascalese without any synthetic inputs, delivering fabulous purity to this wine that speaks to the meticulous practices of Terra Nere. The Rosado delivers a full spectrum of fresh white peach and assorted oranges you find with the varietal; ranging from Blood, Cara-Cara and Dekopon with a subtle note of hibiscus and papaya and valerian flower. The acid is the leading element as you could expect, with a volcanic minerality on the finish that speaks to the stark growing conditions. The character of the wine draws comparisons to Bandol Rose, at a fraction of the price Tempier is selling for these days!
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosato Etna Sicily 2020 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 92 points “Lightly hued, this refined, onion-colored rosato, made with organically grown Nerello Mascalese grapes, has delicate aromas suggesting Mediterranean scrub and wild berries. The dry, savory palate offers pomegranate, peach and citrus before a tangy mineral finish suggesting oyster shell. -Kerin O’Keefe”
Eric Guido-Vinous 91 points “The 2020 Etna Rosato lifts up wonderfully fresh and perfumed, offering notes of sweet peach and white smoke backed by honeyed florals and wedges of candied lime. It’s silky-smooth and round yet spry, washing nuances of ripe pear and nectarine across a core of saturating saline-minerality. There’s simply so much going on here for a Rosato as the 2020 punches well above its class, finishing incredibly long yet juicy, and fizzling out to hints of sour citrus and cheek-puckering green apple.”
From Champagne with Love
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 10 years before disgorgement.
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. . 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.
2007 was the first vintage that saw the Tattinger family resuming complete control over the operations of the house after repurchasing controlling interest. The vintage itself was noteworthy enough to make the Comtes de Champagne Rosé in addition to the standard bottling.
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”
James Suckling 99 points The light rust and amber color is enticing. Aromas of dried rose petals, cinnamon and nutmeg. Hints of dried meat, smoke and sage. Orange peel, too. Full-bodied with a compact, creamy texture. So fine and delicious. Great, subtle and complex flavors. More like a lightly aged, premier-cru Volnay, but with the magic of Champagne. Drink now.
Schatzel: Tiffany Blue Treasures
Much like German wine in general, the Rheinhessen is in the midst of a wine renaissance. While being credited with the first established vineyard in the entire country dating back to the Roman era, the majority of the area was previously too cold to produce Riesling at a satisfying level of ripeness. As a result, the region became largely devoted to bulk wine production post-WW II (most notably the infamous Liebfraumilch). That has all changed largely due to Weingut Schatzel, a family producer that has been growing wine grapes since 1304. The vineyards managed by Schatzel in the Roter Hang (Red Slope) have been compared to the terraces of Côte-Rôtie and the Mosel due to their steepness and distinctive soil. Composed of bright red slate and quartzite that reflects and absorbs heat to assist in ripening, this is the “Grand Cru” of the Rheinhessen.
In order to express the varietal character as well as the terroir differences, Schatzel bottles their wines by vineyard. Encompassing over five separate vineyards within the Rhineterasse, the resulting wines walk a tightrope of minerality between fleshy and austere fruit expression, encompassing a spectrum of flavor ranging from passionfruit, lemon curd, ginger juice and peaches. The cornucopia of jasmine, valerian flower, lavender stem, wet slate, crushed nutmeg and charred grapefruit aromas challenge you to not finish the glass in record time. In spite of drinking beautifully now, these are built to age and should only get more ethereal. These are fabulous examples of why Riesling is considered one of the rare “universal pairing” wines of the world.
Schatzel wines in stock now:
Weingut Schätzel Hipping Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 14 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling.com 94 points “Could a white wine be fresher than this? Fabulous white-peach and herbal character with lots of mineral power at the complex, racy finish.”
Weingut Schatzel Nierstein Riesling Kabinett Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 92 points “So much freshness and energy with tons of elderflowers and white fruit. Super-crisp and very clean palate and a breathtaking finish. Drink or hold. Screw cap.”
Weingut Schätzel Nierstein Silvaner, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 18 bottles in stock now
Winery note “Honeydew melon, white fruits and earthy undertones. Slightly reductive, herbal, nutty and mineral character. Bone dry and juicy on the palate. Extremely complex for 11% vol.”
Weingut Schätzel Olberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling 94 points “Considering this has only 11.5 per cent alcohol, there is extraordinary depth and vitality. The long finish is sleek and fine-grained, without any hint of edginess. Attractive white-fruit aromas, too. Drink or hold.”
Weingut Schätzel Pettenthal Riesling Kabinett Grosses Gewächs, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($89.95) $79 special, 15 bottle in stock now
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling 95 points “Forget the rules, pack your bag, grab this bottle and leave your old life behind! Savage mineral beauty, combined with light body and enormous brightness. Drink or hold.”
Weingut Schätzel Reinschiefer Riesling, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 19 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling.com 92 points “Delicate white-fruit character and a delightful lightness of touch make this rather charming, in spite of its slightly eccentric personality. Long, lemon and mineral finish. A blend of wines from the top sites in Hipping, Ölberg and Pettentha. Screw cap.”
Elite and Ancient Sherry
Bodegas Toro Albalá had its start in 1844 at the helm of Antonio Sánchez Prieto. Winemaking began in a small village called La Noria, with a focus on fino sherries, and moved to an out-of-commission electric power station in 1922. Since its founding, the Bodegas has produced Pedro Ximenez, and now focuses almost exclusively on this treasured dessert wine. There is still a cask from 1844 sitting in the cellar, though we doubt it will ever get past the Albalá family’s dinner table. Even so, we’re fortunate to possess some vintage Pedro Ximénez from Toro Albalá with quite a bit of age. These dark, unctuous sherries are released in tiny quantities, and we rounded out our collection of vintage and aged elite sherries with bottlings pre-dating the Spanish Civil War.
Bodegas Toro Albalá in stock now:
Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Seleccion, Montilla-Moriles 1929 750ML ($459.95) $299 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 95 points “The extreme 1929 Don PX Convento Selección is a thick, dense and unusual, rare sweet beast. It is very dark with a green border, dense, oily and serious full-bodied palate with the profile of a PX from Jerez. With 500 grams of residual sugar per liter, it is a little monolithic, a little heavy and not so easy to drink. Still it is an impressive, very sweet wine that is really unique”
Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Seleccion, Montilla-Moriles 1955 750ML ($379.95) $299 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 98 points “One more single-harvest, old sweet wine, the 1955 Don PX Convento Selección was bottled in September 2014 and it had been aged slowly in very old American oak barrels and getting thick and concentrated through evaporation. Its 320 grams of sugar are (partially) compensated by 6.5 grams of acidity. It has a nose and palate of chocolate-covered candied orange, spices, molasses. I’d say the dominant aromas in the nose are dark chocolate. It’s very dense, developing notes of very concentrated licorice and balsamic, mint, camphor and evolving notes of petrol with time. Complex, rare and unique.”