05-18-22 Wednesday Newsletter

In This Newsletter:

Clouet’s Classic Champagnes

Caruso e Minini:
Gem of the Tyrrhenian

Trending Rose 

Cellar Del Roure:
Rarity of Valencia

Collector’s Corner:  
Get Schisty with Clos Erasmus



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Clouet’s Classic Champagnes
While Vinopolis doesn’t have a “house” Champagne, we seem to recommend two more than any others, André Clouet’s Grand Réserve and Silver Brut Nature. These have been stalwarts of our sparkling wine section for quite some time and are the wines that we measure all new value-minded Champagnes. 

What makes the Grand Réserve and the Silver so good? For starters, they’re both 100% Grand Cru Pinot Noir, despite not being labeled as Blanc de Noirs. Both wines are perfectly balanced between supple and lively, making them a great reflection of the winemaker Jean-François Clouet. Jean-François believes that good winemakers need to be “very self-centered, a little bit paranoid and a touch schizophrenic…” And the wines that he creates have an energy and personality rare in sub-$75 Champagne, let alone sub-$35.

The Grand Réserve is easy Champagne to love. It’s lightly toasty, citrusy and bright, with a texture to the palate that adds an irresistible tension. It is also an incredible wine to pair with food. We’ve had great success pairing it with everything from oysters to Merguez sausage, and it never fails to add something to the meal.

The Silver Brut Nature is a different, but equally intriguing wine. While the Grand Réserve is drawing 50% from solera and reserve, the Silver is 66% vintage. Jean-François selects complimentary reserve wine and makes certain that the personality of this wine is very direct and delicious. While many zero dosage wines can seem austere, the Silver has clear notes of dried fruits and warm pie crust. And the Pinot Noir shines through with aplomb. While this wine is not shy, it is well-balanced and delivers delicious flavor without seeming flabby.

Did you know that Tête de Cuvee’s can also be non-vintage? While it’s true that non-vintage bottlings are every champenois “Bread and butter” there can still be top offerings made from them. Often done for a stylistic decision rather than economic, the goal is to create “The perfect year” through assemblage.

Andre Clouet crafts their 1911 cuvee from the 10 best plots in their portfolio in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. The village shares borders with 3 other Grand Cru villages and specialized in powerfully structured Pinot Noir. As such, the 1911 is entirely Pinot Noir and exemplifies the village’s reputation beautifully. Comprised of a single vintage that’s at least 7 years old and a solera based reserve wine that was started in 1998, this is champagne that encapsulates both maturity and youthful vigor. Complex doesn’t begin to cover this wine with the solera aging for the reserve wine portion adding incredible nuance like white truffle, rose petal, ground coffee, and miso to the flavor profile. The aromas are equally compelling, delivering a spectrum of white flowers like jasmine and orange blossom against a chalky backdrop.

Andre Clouet Selections in stock now: 

Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut Champagne NV 750ML ($39.95) $36 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut Champagne NV 750ML ($239.95) $206 special, (That’s only $34.33 per bottle)! 
Case-12 Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut Champagne NV 750ML ($479.95) $389 special (That’s only 32.41 per bottle!)
Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut Champagne NV 3L ($319.95) $279 special, 3 double magnums available 
Decanter 92 points
 “[Reviewed 2021] Incredible value for a blanc de noirs (100% Pinot Noir) grower Champagne from the grand cru vineyards of Bouzy. It shows gorgeous aromas of stone fruit, citrus and strawberry, with complex brioche nuances, remarkable balance, ongoing elegance and a rich, refined, persistent finish. Drinking Window 2021 – 2026.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 91 points “[Reviewed Apr 2021] The NV Brut Grand Réserve Grand Cru is a pure Pinot Noir from Bouzy. It’s pure, fresh, fine and aromatic on the nose and round and delicate on the palate. The fruit-intense finish is chalky-mineral and stimulatingly fresh in its salty finesse and elegant yeastiness. Nice lemon juice flavors give an extra kick of refreshment. This is a picture-book NV Brut. No indication of disgorgement given.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature Champagne NV 750ML ($39.95) $36 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature Champagne NV 750ML ($239.95) $206 special, (That’s only $34.33 per bottle)! 
Case-12 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature Champagne NV 750ML ($479.95) $389 special (That’s only 32.41 per bottle!)
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature Champagne NV 3L ($349.95) $279 special, 20 double magnums in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92+ points
 “[Reviewed Apr 2021] Clouet’s NV Silver Brut Nature Grand Cru is a pure Bouzy Pinot Noir that was disgorged without any dosage. This disgorgement displays a medium intense golden color and a complex and refined bouquet of ripe and pureed apples and discreet chalky as well as brioche aromas. The palate is elegant, straight and fresh, very pure and salty on the finish. This is a challenging Brut Nature that needs to be aged for two or three years to gain complexity and finesse and to smooth its current edges. The finish is mineral, limestone and salty but also a bit drying at this moment.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Andre Clouet Chalky Brut Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 15 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 93 points
 “[Reviewed 2021] Brimming with fresh apple, lemon and wild-berry aromas underlined by a note of freshly baked baguette, this begins so charming, then it turns in a fascinating mineral direction with a pronounced saline quality. The excitement comes from the tension between these two sides of this very distinctive champagne. Very long, chalky finish. 100% chardonnay from the 2013 vintage. Drink now.”

Andre Clouet The V6 Experience Brut NV Champagne 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93+ points 
“Aged for six years on the second lees, the yellow-golden NV Brut The V6 Experience is a Bouzy Pinot Noir that displays great purity and intensity but also reduction on the mineral-scented nose. This is deep and complex, but it needs all our patience and perhaps even a decanter or at least a big glass and lots of aeration. The palate is rich and powerful, firmly structured, very tight and still astringent on the finish, but there is so much finesse paired with power, concentration and fruit, which give the V6 a promising future. The wine just starts a bit slowly (like a rocket, which is pictured on the label), but it will most probably go very steep in a couple of years. I have ever had this cuvée before, so I can only guess, though.”

We have an extensive collection of Clouet Champagnes currently in stock, including a number of large formats, Rose and Vintage bottlings! 


Caruso e Minini:

Gem of the Tyrrhenian

When you think of Sicilian wine, your mind probably goes to Mt. Etna right off the bat. However the whole island of Sicily produces wine, including the world famous fortified wine Marsala. Located only 12 miles from the ocean, Caruso has been making wine since the late 1800’s. However it wasn’t until the 1990’s did they ever bottle their own wine, previously contracting out to the cooperatives of Marsala. With holdings encompassing almost 300 acres at almost 1000 feet above sea level these are some of the best examples of “New Sicily” winemaking and production. Their portfolio is entirely composed of indigenous Sicilian varietals, including the exceedingly rare Perricone. Liked to Barbara by wine writer and critic, Jancis Robinson it’s a juicy yet herbaceous red that is spectacular with pizza or anything else based in red sauce. 

Caruso E Minini in stock now: 

Caruso & Minini Naturalmente Bio Catarratto Sicilia Sicily 2020 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 17 bottles in stock now
No reviews available for the 2020 vintage. 2019 review provided for reference.
Wine Enthusiast 90 points
 “Made entirely with organically framed Catarratto grapes, this zesty white opens with aromas of Spanish broom, chamomile and white stone fruit. The savory, linear palate offers juicy Meyer lemon, honeydew and Bartlett pear alongside bright acidity. It closes on an almond note. -Kerin O’Keefe”
This is the only listing in the USA today!

Caruso & Minini Naturalmente Bio Nero d’Avola Sicilia Sicily 2019 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 30 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 88 points
 “Made with organic grapes, this has aromas of ripe black-skinned berry, new leather and crushed Mediterranean herb. On the medium-bodied palate, polished tannins accompany ripe Marasca cherry, star anise and a hint of carob. Bright acidity keeps it fresh. Drink through 2022. -Kerin O’Keefe”

Caruso & Minini ‘Naturalmente Bio’ Perricone Terre Siciliane IGT Sicily 2019 750ML ($21.95) $16 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
This is the only listing in the USA today!

Trending Rose 

Situated at over 1,000 feet above sea level between the legendary St. Tropez and the village of Aix-En-Provence the blend is comprised of the traditional varietals Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon as well. As you can expect this is a perfectly quaffable rose at a guilt free price point. Pair with sunny days and picnics.   

Chateau Routas Coteaux Varois en Provence Rose France 2020 750ML ($17.95) $13 special
James Suckling 91 points
 “Pale peach color with aromas of fresh strawberry, watermelon and peach stone. Some sea salt, too. It’s medium-bodied with bright acidity and a fresh finish. Drink now. Screw cap.” 
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Schloss Gobelsburg, a Cistercian monastic estate, is one of the oldest wineries in the Austrian Danube area with a documented history that dates back to 1171. All the vineyards are located on slopes and terraces around the valley of the river Kamp near the town of Langenlois and the village of Gobelsburg. 

Gently vinified in steel and gravity fed in the winery, this is a rose that emphasizes the lighter and more delicate character of rose. There’s a mixed plate of fruits ranging from white nectarine and strawberry, with additional notes of cherry blossom, yarrow and cranberry. The electric acidity of the Cistercien rose brings the fruit characters together in a quffable, kids punch esque way with a savory finish redolent of dried fruit tea. Compatible with flavorous cuisine at any stage in the meal like Tagines, Tabbouleh, Galbijjim, Ramen or Macarons.   

Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg Cistercien Rose, Niederosterreich 2020 750ML ($21.95) $17 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Winery note
 “The valley of the Danube and its side-valleys belong to the ‘Cool climate’ areas of Austria. Some vineyards are even too cold for red wine making. Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the cooler sites of Gobelsburg and Langenlois are used for this wine.”
Skurnik Wines note “Region: Kamptal. Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir. Appellation: Niederösterreich. Vineyard: Multiple cooler site vineyards. Soil Type Loess. Age of Vines (Average) 20 years. Sustainable. Fermentation and elevage in stainless steel.” 
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Bandol rosé has taken the world by storm and for good reason: it’s delicious! Bandol became famous as a source for dense reds from Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Cinsault. Today, the rosé revolution has commandeered the lion’s share of production, now commanding almost 3/4s of total production.

To exemplify the richer style we can’t think of a better example than Domaine de la Bastide Blanche, who delivers a harvest basket full of blood orange, sorbet, mandarin orange, fresh raspberry, hibiscus, lavender and sage that’s all underscored by a chalky minerality. Made from a minimum of 75% Mourvèdre, Bastide Blanche is considered a benchmark producer of Bandol rosé, with the estate being originally founded to compete with the best of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the north. Also known for being one of the few roses that benefits from bottle age, the texture of the wine becomes almost tea-like on the finish with the fruit also softening as well. Bastide Blanche is a “red wine drinker’s rosé.”

In Stock Now:

Domaine de la Bastide Blanche Bandol Rose Provence 2020 1.5L ($69.95) $59 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points 
“Limpid orange-pink. Expressive red berry, blood orange and pit fruit aromas are accompanied by building mineral and floral nuances. Taut and energetic in the mouth, offering sappy strawberry, orange zest and lavender flavors braced by a spine of chalky minerality. Finishes silky and impressively long, with repeating mineral and floral notes.”
Weygandt-Metzler Import note “Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette. Organic. Clay, limestone & cailloux. Tasting note: Dense cherry and raspberry fruit with citrus and stone flavors. Full body with a perfectly balanced and long finish.”

Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rose Provence 2020 750ML ($37.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Rosenthal Wine note
 “The Bandol Rosé from Pradeaux is perhaps the most serious wine in this category. Robust, rich, and complex with an ability to age gracefully, this wine is based on Cinsault (50%) and Mourvèdre (50%), taking its slight orange tint from the latter cépage. The younger vines of the domaine (average age: 25 years) are utilized to produce a rare rosé with staying power and exceptional complexity. The Rosé is vinified by a direct pressing for 24 hours followed by fermentation in cement tanks at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees Celsius for about 15 days; the malo-lactic fermentation is blocked and the wine is usually bottled in mid-April of the following year. 

Chateau Pradeaux ‘Vespree’ Rose Vin de France 2019 750ML ($47.95) $39 special, 25 bottles in stock now
Rosenthal Wine note
 ““Vespree,” meaning evening in Provençal and Occitan, presents a full, swaggering nose of quince paste, white pepper, and coarse-ground Indian spices, and the big, richly textured palate possesses a structural tension that heavily underlines its potential for aging—though it is fresh, tense, and very delicious right in its youth. It is exceedingly difficult to find rosé of this caliber and character, even from Bandol—and, in a twist of irony, this wine which is so purely and deeply Bandol to its very core was denied appellation status on three separate occasions, and is thus labeled a “Vin de France.” But, in an appellation that has seen production shift from 70% red wine to 85% rosé over the years in response to market trends, this is perhaps more depressing than surprising. In any event, we are proud of the wine, and proud to work with such a courageous and iconoclastic family—and we know “Vespree” will delight those who appreciate Pradeaux’s ruggedly uncompromising sensibility.”

Cellar Del Roure: Rarity of Valencia 

Founded by Pablo Calatayud in 1995, Cellar Del Roure has made a name for itself by bucking tradition. This is no better illustrated than by Safra, made with the indigenous varietal Mando, using traditional lagar and amphorae during fermentation to preserve the natural structure and earthy flavors. Mando is described as being similar to Pinot Noir or Mencia and is largely extinct even within Valencia. This is largely due to Valencia’s history as breadbasket for Spanish agriculture, producing massive quantities of wine, olive oil and most famously oranges. This led to  massive plantings of grapevines meant for bulk wine production, at the cost of historically premium sites and varietals. 

Celler del Roure ‘Safra’Valencia 2019 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 94 Points 
“The 2019 Safrà was produced with a base of Mandó, but it’s a different Mandó from Parotet, livelier and more fluid. They say it’s a red with the soul of a white. In any case, both wines change in 2019 with the addition of Arcos. They harvest the grapes early and use some 30% stems for the vinification in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. This 2019 is a blend with 30% Arcos, an almost forgotten grape they are recovering and to which they are paying very much attention. Like many of the other wines, it matured in ancient buried 2,600-liter tinajas in their impressive 17th-century cellar. I’ve always liked the floral and aromatic expression of this wine, which has nice aromas and complexity, developing beautiful notes of sour cherries; and in the palate, it’s more serious than you expect, longer, deeper and very tasty. This is more ethereal than Vermell and less spicy that Parotet. I think it has gained in freshness and complexity with the addition of Arcos, which is part of the blend for the first time in 2019. In fact, this is better than ever! 20,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2020.”
Decanter 93 Points “Mainly Mandó grapes with Arcos (rather than Garnacha Tintorera as in previous blends) – a change that brings greater finesse to this aromatic wine. Bright, mid-weight, juicy, with sour cherries and cranberries and the faintest rasp of tannin. Fermented in stainless steel and matured in buried clay amphorae in the remarkable cellar. Organic. Drinking Window 2021 – 2024. -Sarah Jane Evans MW.”


Collector’s Corner:  

Get Schisty with Clos Erasmus

Priorat or Tarraconensis as it was once called has cultivated winegrapes since the Roman Empire first occupied the area, but it was Clos Erasmus and their collegues who transformed Priorat from sleepy backwater to a global wine powerhouse in the 1980’s and 90’s. Farming biodynamically since their inception Clos Erasmus has maintained very low production throughout the stratospheric rise of the region, and rarely exceeds 140 cases per year from their 25 acres in production. Limited does not begin to describe the scarcity of these wines, with these bottles being the crown jewel of wine lists around the world. Daphne Glorian, the estate’s founder and winemaker describes Priorat as “Burgundy in reverse, same soils and different climate versus different soils and the same climate” 

Clos Erasmus Wines in stock now: 

Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus Priorat DOCa 2018 1.5L ($699.95) $579 special only 1 magnum in stock now
Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus Priorat DOCa 2018 750ML ($249.95) $219 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate Luis Gutierrez 99 points
 “A blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah, 2018 Clos Erasmus comes from a year with good yields and enough rain for good ripeness of the grapes. The vines are now 36 years old on average, and the grapes fermented after a cold soak in 1,000-, 1,500- and 2,000-liter oak vats with indigenous yeasts and a five-week maceration. It matured in new and second use Burgundian 228-liter oak barrels, with around 40% new oak. This is a very elegant and perfumed vintage for Clos Erasmus, a wine that reveals a bright ruby color and a exotic nose that mixes flowers with tons of sweet spices. It is still very young and influenced by the élevage in oak, with something herbal and fresh, reminiscent of pine needles. The palate is textured and velvety, lace and dust, with fine-grained tannins that bring back the memories of the slate rocks; it is pure and detailed and has terrible balance, focus, inner strength, filigree and subdued minerality. I’d wait a little bit for the oak to get integrated before pulling the cork. It has the ingredients, stuffing and balance to develop nicely in bottle for a long time. 3,319 bottles and 100 magnums produced. It was bottled in May 2020.”

Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus ‘Laurel’ Priorat DOCa 2018 1.5L ($179.95) $149 special, 4 magnums in stock now 
Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus ‘Laurel’ Priorat DOCa 2018 750ML ($79.95) $59 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “The second wine here and one that is easier to drink, the 2018 Laurel was produced with fruit from the younger vines, a couple of barrels that are declassified from Clos Erasmus and the Cabernet Sauvignon, more or less 70% Garnacha and 15% each Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has good ripeness and still a pH of 3.3. It fermented mostly in oak vats and 2,000-liter concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and matured for 18 months in 20,000-liter oak and concrete vats, second use barriques and some clay amphorae. It’s a bright translucent ruby color and has a perfumed and delicate nose with notes of orange peel and flowers; this is the most elegant and ethereal vintage of Laurel as far as I can remember, with red rather than black fruit and a kind of cranberry quality. The palate is medium-bodied, textured and fluid, with subtleness, balance and very fine tannins. The oak is perfectly integrated, and the wine is easy to drink, approachable and very pleasurable right now. It’s a fresh vintage with energy and finesse, quite different from previous vintages. I love it. 22,825 bottles and 515 magnums produced. It was bottled in May 2020.”