In This Newsletter:
New Cru Produttori Arriving Friday
Mad for Musar:
Best in Bekka Valley
Caruso e Minini:
Gem of the Tyrrhenian
Fabulous Field Blends
The Marne’s Master of Meunier
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New Cru Produttori Arriving Friday
“[Produttori del Barbaresco is] one of the most important and quality-minded co-operatives in the world…” –Jeb Dunnuck
“I’ve written this many times before, but it bears repeating: Produttori del Barbaresco is one of Italy’s ultimate values for your money.” –Monica Larner, Wine Advocate
Produttori del Barbaresco is revered for producing classically-styled Barbaresco and Riservas of uncompromising quality and transparency. It’s a miracle that these wines are still affordable and available, especially when compared to the skyrocketing prices of Barolo.
You’d be hard-pressed to find such consistent quality and complexity out of such an extensive range of single-vineyard Nebbiolos anywhere else. 2017 is being compared to the legendary 2015 harvest, with a warm and dry growing season against cool nights and timely rains making for ripe but not overwrought wines. This was on account of the season’s early warmth, which contributed to smaller leaves during the vegetative growth period according to Gaia Gaja of the eponymous cult label. The smaller leaves meant for slower sugar accumulation, resulting in wines that were able to maintain balance.
Produttori Cru Riserva’s arriving Friday, June 17th:
Produttori del Barbaresco Asili Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Asili is a real stand out. It captures all the sensuality of the year while retaining the translucence and freshness of Nebbiolo. Rose petal, crushed red berry fruit, cinnamon and spice develop with a bit of coaxing. This is another gorgeous wine from the Produttori. Asili is widely regarded as one of the best vineyards in Barbaresco, maybe the best. This wine shows why.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Montefico Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Montefico is one of the stand-outs in this range. It shows the piercing tannins typical of this site, and yet has more than enough fruit to balance those tannins, certainly moreso than wines like the Rabajà. This exposed site benefits from cooling winds from the north, clearly a benefit in 2017. Even in the early going, the balance here is terrific. In 2017, the Montefico is one of the clear stand outs in the range.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $75 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 93+ points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano is a potent, savory wine. Today, the fruit is very much in the background. A brooding, backward Barbaresco, the Montestefano clearly needs time, it is a somber, imposing Barbaresco. Dark plum, earthiness, cloves, menthol and licorice infuse the finish with notable gravitas. There’s plenty of Montestefano breadth and resonance.”
Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Muncagota’ Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $71.90 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota is one of the lighter wines in this range. Floral and medium in body, the 2017 gives the impression of a wine that will open earlier than some of the others. It, too, has pretty imposing tannins though, so a few years in bottle are advisable. Crushed flowers, sweet red cherry, mint and white pepper linger.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Ovello Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $85 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello is a heady, explosive wine. I don’t think I have ever tasted an Ovello from the Produttori with this much heft. The strong mineral and saline accents typical of this site are present, but they are matched pound for pound by notable mid-palate richness and intensity in its fruit. The 2017 is a brooding powerhouse that needs time to unwind.”
Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Paje’ Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni-Vinous 94 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Pajè is a fine choice for readers who enjoy wines of freshness, verve and energy. Dark fruit, menthol, spice, pine and crushed rocks are beautifully delineated. This is an especially chiseled wine in the range of 2017 Riservas. I very much like the balance of richness and vibrancy. In a word: classic.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Pora Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $75 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Pora is rich, creamy and layered, with a bit more generosity than is typically the case. Sweet red cherry, red plum, spice and rose petal are amplified in a radiant, open-knit Barbaresco that will start drinking well in a few years’ time.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Rabaja Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $85 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Rabajà is a potent, searingly tannic wine that will need a few years to come together. Brooding and backward, even for young Rabajà, the 2017 is painfully young today. It will be interesting to see what time brings. Today, the 2017 is a real powerhouse. Black fruit, menthol, licorice, melted road tar, game and menthol develop in the glass, but only with great reluctance.”
Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $75 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2017 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo shows the natural intensity of the year, and yet retains a good bit of the aromatic lift that is so typical of Nebbiolo at its best. Silky, perfumed and poised, the Rio Sordo is impressive in this tasting. Spice and floral notes lift a core of red-toned fruit in this mid-weight yet packed Barbaresco from the Produttori. This has very fine potential.”
Mad for Musar:
Best in Bekka Valley
Looking for a cult producer that’s still affordable? There are very few producers who are synonymous with the production of their entire region’s output. Dal Forno in Valpolicella, Dönnhoff and the Nahe, Cayuse and Walla Walla, the list is as long as there are production zones. In that same vein you cannot talk about Lebanese wine without mentioning Chateau Musar.
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.
Chateau Musar in stock now:
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
Caruso e Minini:
Gem of the Tyrrhenian
Caruso E Minini in stock now:
Caruso & Minini Naturalmente Bio Catarratto Sicilia Sicily 2020 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 12 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”
Caruso & Minini Naturalmente Bio Nero d’Avola Sicilia Sicily 2019 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 24 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
Fabulous Field Blends
Chateau Routas in stock now:
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.”
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.
Schloss Gobelsburg in stock now:
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.”
North Canterbury has especially caught our eye with their reputation for cool-climate experimentation, and a hotbed of new winemaking talent. “The coolest little wine region in the country” as the region bills is home to clay-limestone soils that are a dead ringer for top tier Burgundy, and a climate particularly conducive to bright and ageworthy wines. Hermit Ram is taking the wine world by storm with their field blends and Pinot Noir, hybridizing traditional Burgundian practices with “New wave” techniques like low intervention in the cellar, amphora for fermentation and stem inclusion over new oak.
Their field blend Rose is a completely unique and compelling iteration of the style. Primarily Riesling with Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon there’s tremendous aromatic punch and length that speaks to the limestone rich growing conditions of North Canterbury Reminiscent of a rose from Tavel there’s a deep color and pervasive aromatics that speak to the component grapes in a way that doesn’t wash the individual elements out. Presenting a symphony of red fruits like fresh raspberry, cranberries and redcurrants against saline minerality and rosehip tea this is a rare bottling that’s equal parts compelling and compatible with a variety of food. Perfect as a “Red wine drinkers Rose” or something for the natural wine fan in your life.
Hermit Ram in stock now:
The Hermit Ram Field Blend Rose North Canterbury 2020 750ML ($44.95) $39 special
Riesling/Pinot Noir/Cab Sauv/Gewurz
Winery note “The act of fermenting which ever varieties are planted in your vineyard together is intriguing and the results can be delicious and a really unique picture of a particular vineyard site and region. This wine is a field blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer. It comes from one of North Canterbury’s earliest planted vineyards. It presents itself like a delicate pinot with insane aromatics. The fruit was picked on the proportions it grows in the vineyard. It was destemmed and naturally fermented on skins for 6 weeks. Pressed off in to Amphora and allowed to go through a natural malolactic ferment. This wine was bottled with no fining, filtration or Sulphur.”
The Saar is one of the coldest areas in the entire Mosel, and has one of the smallest production footprints compared to the other sub-areas. This is largely due to the exposure to the frigid east winds, which causes temperatures to drop precipitously almost as soon as the sun sets. This results in a race to harvest in most vintages, but is rapidly changing due to climate change.
In previous decades this was a growing area known for producing a good vintage 3-4 times every 10, not unlike the Port and Champagne region’s in the same time window. Due to the challenge of ripening the majority of the styles of wine coming from this area feature high acids, delicate stonefruit character and a steely minerality with plenty of age potential regardless of how much sweetness is still present at bottling. We carry a number of producers from this area including Lauer, Molitor and Haart!
Peter Lauer ‘Kern’ Ayler Kupp Fass 9 Riesling Mosel 2017 750ML ($49.95) $33 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling.Com 94 points “Tropical and creamy, but it also shows a very firm core — Kern means core in German. This is another stunningly original wine from Peter Lauer. A lot of power at the finish. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Kern Fass 9 comes from old vines in a prime south-west-facing part of the original Ayler Kupp hill situated well into the side valley and was fermented down to almost fruity levels (40 g/l of residual sugar). It offers a delicately vibrant nose of candied grapefruit, cassis, lemon zest, ginger and fine herbs. The wine is beautifully focused and just fruity-styled on the palate and leaves a vibrant feel of zesty acidity and bitter lemon in the long and delicately tart finish. This is a beautiful expression of fully off-dry tasting Riesling in the making! 2022-2032.”
Markus Molitor Alte Reben Riesling Trocken Mosel WK 2018 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 36 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92+ points “The 2018 Riesling Alte Reben Saar offers a clear, pure and spicy, quite deep and intense bouquet with slatey pastry notes. Round and juicy on the palate, this is a complex, elegant and long yet still slightly astringent Riesling with enormous power and richness. The wine has a positive astringency that is crystalline and phenolic and asks for patience. Tasted at the domain in September 2020.”
Markus Molitor Alte Reben Riesling Trocken Mosel 2019 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “Molitor’s 2019 Alte Reben Saar opens with a pure and concentrated flinty bouquet of crushed slate and lemon zest as well as floral aromas. Round, lush and with salty piquancy as well as fine and juicy fruit concentration that intermingles perfectly with the finessed acidity and mineral backbone, this is an excellent and highly stimulating picture-book Saar Riesling with a delicate grip of slate and tannins. Perhaps the finest Saar old-vines Riesling I have had from Molitor. Tasted in May 2021.”
Julian Haart Riesling, Mosel “1,000L” 2020 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Importer Note: As with Lauer, it makes sense to speak of the “terroir wines” and the “Prädikat wines” as two distinct categories. The terroir wines are those that ferment naturally, finding their own balance that is nearly always dry tasting, though the wines might have a lil’ more sugar than would allow them to be legally called “Trocken,” or dry. In this grouping of wines we begin with the “1000L.” This wine is made from Fuder(s) of Julian’s wines that he doesn’t think are good enough for any of the above classifications. Thus I buy the entire Fuder (the traditional 1,000 liter barrel of the Mosel) and call the wine “1000L.”
Julian Haart Riesling, Mosel “1,000L”2021 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 24 bottles in stock now
The Marne’s Master of Meunier
Representing the 8th generation of champenois vigneron in the family, Benoit Dehu first cut his teeth at the Grand Marquis house Bollinger before striking out on his own in 2010, with his first release the following year. Working off of his family holdings in the Marne, with barrels made from the forest bordering the property, these are grower champagnes at their finest. The majority of his grapes are sourced from his Rue De Noyers vineyard, which has recently expanded into a small assortment of Pinot Noir beyond its exclusive planting to Meunier. Dehu has been blessed with the characteristic terroir of the Marne that contributes to his wine’s incredible aromatics and structure, namely the green clay overlaying pure limestone chalk. Eschewing new oak for aging, dosage for flavoring and intervention in general, these are some of the purest expressions of terroir you’ll ever find.
Working with less than 2 hectares of estate the production is incredibly small yet meticulous, incorporating biodynamic farming and almost 70% plowed by horse. At less than 4,000 cases made every year, it’s a small miracle we were even able to acquire the amounts we did. We are offering a range of Dehu’s flagship wines, from his 100% Meunier Rose De Saignee and Rue des Noyers to his Pinot Noir-included project: Initiation. The Rose is especially rare having been made only once prior in the history of the vineyard! Given the majority of Pinot Meunier at play with these wines, you can expect a mineral and spice driven champagne that has decades of aging potential ahead of them (If you can wait that long we won’t judge). For the serious collector we also have a smattering of magnums from the Rue Des Noyers, but quantities are extremely limited.
In Stock Now:
Benoit Dehu Cuvee de La Rue des Noyers Rose Champagne NV (2018) 750ML ($149.95) $128 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The NV (2018) Rosé Saignée Cuvée La Rue des Noyers is airy and weightless, but also pretty tightly wound at this stage. I would give it another 6-12 months in bottle. A whole range of savory, floral and earthy notes are pushed forward, while the expression of fruit is pretty quiet. No dosage. Disgorged: September, 2020.”
VinopolNote: 100% Pinot Meunier from the legendary 2018 vintage, and the second ever iteration of the bottling.
Benoit Dehu ‘La Rue des Noyers’ Champagne NV (2015) 750ML ($119.95) $89 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The NV (2015) Extra Brut Cuvée La Rue des Noyers speaks with real authority, and yet the 2015 is one of the more delicate versions of this cuvée so far. Time in the glass allows the wine to blossom nicely. Dried pear, smoke, herbs and dried flowers fill out the wine’s creamy frame effortlessly. Once again, the Rue des Noyers is one of the most distinctive wines in Champagne. Dosage is 1 grams per liter. Disgorged: July 2017.”
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