In This Newsletter:
New Arrival Special Feature: Hirtzberger
Sweet like Nonna:
Italian Dessert Wine Selections
New Grower Champagne:
Huet’s Cornucopia of Chenin
This Shop Never Closes: www.vinopoliswineshop.com
We’re Open for In-Store Shopping!
10AM – 6PM Daily
We also offer Curbside Pickup
Order Online / By Phone / By Email
Did you know that Central Europe was one of the first regions in Europe that saw widespread viticulture? Archeological evidence shows that the Smaragd was making wine as early as the 9th century with the arrival of the Roman Empire. Much like the Languedoc in France and Campania in Italy you can still see the stone terraces that were built by the Romans to prevent erosion. Hirtzberger has dedicated themselves to restoring and maintaining these sites, as the vast majority were abandoned due to the extensive labor required to farm them.
Despite of this storied history and, as well as being the birthplace of Biodynamic farming and the strictest farming standards in the European Union, the wines of Austria remain critically undervalued. With the strictest production laws in the world, Austrian wines are required to show no oak influence and reach a minimum alcohol level depending on their classification. These laws were drafted by a consortium of producers not unlike the VDP in Germany.
The Vinea Wachau as its known recognizes 3 quality levels and can include Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Hirtzberger produces wines across all quality levels recognized by law entirely from their terraced vineyards. With the minimum slope of 33 degrees and going as high as 90, the vines are quite literally clinging to the rocks. These precipitous conditions create a level of mineral expression paired with phenolic ripeness in a way that is wholly unique. These juxtaposing characteristics make them perfect for a variety of cuisines, with vegetable courses being the traditional pairing.
Hirtzberger wines in stock now:
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Pluris Grauburgunder Smaragd Wachau 2018 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2018 Ried Pluris Grauburgunder Smaragd comes from deep and clayey soil and shows a clear and coolish, fine and elegant bouquet. Picked on September 17, this is a delicate, very elegant, lush and salty Pinot Gris with remarkable purity, elegance and finesse. It’s an aromatic and crystalline cool-climate version of the grape variety. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Wosendorfer Kirchweg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($49.95) $39 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2018 Ried Kirchweg Wösendorfer Grüner Veltliner Smaragd is clear, deep, intense and slightly crystalline and flinty on the elegant nose. Full-bodied and sweetish on the palate but fresh and elegant, with fine mineral grip, this is a charming Veltliner with a refined and elegant, aromatic and nicely grippy finish. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Rotes Tor Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Wachau 2018 ($39.95) $29 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 90 points “Assembling the fruit from several vineyards that were picked in the first half of October, the 2018 Spitz Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Rotes Tor offers a clear, ripe and elegant nose of tropical fruits intermixed with elegant and flinty terroir notes. Ripe and piquant on the crystalline and salty palate, this is an elegant and already pretty complex Veltliner with an aromatic and refreshing, elegant finish with good grip. 12.5% alcohol. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Rotes Tor Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($69.95) $59 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott 94 points “The nose here has a very restrained and rocky feel with such intense aromas of ripe citrus fruit, pepper and pears. The palate is dry, sheer and linear with good, fresh acidity drive and a smoothly rendered finish. Drink or hold.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2018 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Rotes Tor is entirely based on the fruit from Spitz (the vineyards below the red gate) and opens with a deep, precise and flinty bouquet that shows a coolish-mineral and darker-toned character with rather discreet fruit aromas. On the palate, this is a lush and mouth-filling, very fine and elegant Grüner with a long, intense and refreshing crystalline and salty finish. Excellent grip. From pure, weathered gneiss soils. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Spitzer Donaugarten Gruner Veltliner Steinfeder Wachau 2018 ($29.95) $24 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate“Hirtzberger’s 2018 Spitz Grüner Veltliner Steinfeder was picked between October 17 and 19 and opens with a ripe and elegant, fruit-intense and charming nose with delicate crystalline aromas. Round and salty-piquant on the palate, this is a mouth-filling and refreshing Grüner bottled with 11.5% alcohol. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.” –
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Setzberg Riesling Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($69.95) $59 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93+ points “From the Spitzer Graben, and thus picked pretty late on October 21, the 2018 Ried Setzberg Riesling Smaragd is intense and concentrated but coolish and spicy on the elegant and promising nose that represents the weathered gneiss soils and its coolish terroir perfectly. Precise ripe apricot aromas on the nose lead to an elegant fine and balanced, almost silky-textured, full-bodied palate, with lush and ripe but precise and elegant fruit and a long and intense, well-structured and salty finish. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Singerriedel Riesling Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($99.95) $89 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott 96 points “Stunning depth, but also purity to this complex riesling that is bursting with life. Cascades of honeysuckle, melon and prosciutto, green mangoes, riper papaya, crushed gunpowder and asphalt. Dense layers of peaches and citrus fruit ride the creases of the palate, filling every corner in bright colors of flavor and acidity. Long, structured and focussed. Drink now or hold.”
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Mandarin orange, clementine and tangerine vie for attention on the nose with their ripe, aromatic and almost heady juiciness. The palate adds a note of peach and pith to those citrus aromas, adding flesh and direction. The pithiness has a welcome textural element that, along with aromatic, citric freshness, gives both outline and backbone that seems to have corralled all of this fruit into the bottle. Drink 2025–2045. -Anne Krebiehl MW”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 95 points “Picked between October 5 and 31, the 2018 Ried Singerriedel Riesling Smaragd is clear, deep, pure, precise and flinty on the concentrated and piquant apricot nose with aromas of broken gneiss. Lush and round on the palate, this is a very elegant and balanced Singerriedel with immensely fine and juicy fruit, very fine tannins and great finesse. The acidity is ripe and refined and perfectly integrated and delivers persistent and stimulating salinity. A gorgeous Riesling and perhaps the finest 2018 I tasted in Austria last year. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Steinterrassen Riesling Federspiel Wachau 2018 ($41.95) $36 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 91 points “From the fruit grown in terraced single vineyards and predominantly from younger vines, the 2018 Riesling Federspiel Steinterrassen is still somewhat untamed and reductive but very clear on the nose that reminds me of the Rieslings from Tim Fröhlich (Weingt Schäfer-Fröhlich, Nahe). Flinty, fresh, very precise and refined, this is a remarkably fine and elegant Riesling with intense and elegant, really refined and piquant apricot fruit. Excellent! Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Ried Steinporz Riesling Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($79.95) $59 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Tangerine and peach unite on the nose in a quite disarming fashion. The palate comes in with more peachy juiciness and adds overtones of ripe passion fruit with both its tartness and tropicality. A lovely seam of vivid, zesty freshness cuts through the generous, abundant and juicy fruit, always with exotic highlights, always with zesty aromas. This has life and drive, energy and brio. Enjoy 2025–2045. -Anne Krebiehl MW”
Decanter 95 points “Franz Hirtzberger is the most esteemed grower in Spitz, and his wines can be surprisingly voluptuous. Often Singerriedl is the source of his top Riesling, but in 2018, I prefer the Steinporz, which grows on weathered gneiss soils. The stone-fruits nose is rich and opulent without being blowsy. Creamy, very ripe, it’s a touch broad but that ripeness is cut by a stony minerality. Resplendent fruit, fine depth and impressive length. Drinking Window 2020 – 2035.”
Stuart Pigott 94 points “So much going on here from the outset, the nose suggesting mango pastries, papaya dessert and then fresher sensations of gin and tonic and jasmine. Full-bodied, very intense and oily, but linear and vertical at the same time. The acidity crafts a wiry shape, amidst powerful tropical notes. Drink now.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93+ points “Picked on September 24, so a month earlier than in 2017, the 2018 Ried Steinporz Riesling Smaragd is intensely aromatic and spicy on the concentrated nose that is reminiscent of apricot chutney. Round and lush on the mouth-filling palate, this is an intense and juicy, very charming and generous but still elegant and refined Riesling with a long and complex, tightly woven and spicy-flavored finish. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Steinporz Weissburgunder Smaragd Wachau 2018 ($54.95) $41.90 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “Grown on loess and picked on September 19, the 2018 Ried Steinporz Weissburgunder Smaragd offers a coolish and precise bouquet with flinty aromas of crushed stones. Lush and round but precise, piquant and elegant on the palate, this is another impressive Pinot Blanc from Franz Hirtzberger. Everything is finely interwoven and perfectly balanced, while the finish is crystalline, salty-piquant and provided with fine tannins. Tasted at the domain in September 2019.”
Cristom ‘Marjorie Vineyard’ Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2015 375ML ($37.95) $33 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 95 points “Brilliant red. Powerful red berry liqueur, Asian spice and incense aromas are brightened by a smoky mineral nuance that builds steadily in the glass. Sappy, sweet and penetrating in the mouth, offering vibrant raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors joined by lively five-spice powder and white pepper accents. Spicy and seamless on the finish, showing silky, harmonious tannins and superb, floral-dominated persistence.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 94 points “Pale to medium ruby-purple, the 2015 Pinot Noir Marjorie Vineyard leaps from the glass with notes of cherry cordial, violets, rose hip tea and chocolate box plus wafts of forest floor and black pepper. Medium-bodied, the palate is tautly structured with firm, grippy tannins and a great backbone of lively acidity, finishing with lingering earthy notes.”
Decanter 93 points “Unusually, the rows in the 3.44ha Marjorie vineyard, planted in 1983 at a lower density, run north to south and are planted on their own rootstocks. Native yeasts and 50% whole-cluster fruit are both part of the winemaking approach, and this is another impressive, pure and profound effort. The 2015 has vivid freshness, with sweet raspberry and cream coulis notes alongside a dusting of spice box. The tannins are chalky and fine but provide plenty of flesh and structure. Drinking Window 2018 – 2026.”
Cristom ‘Paul Gerrie Vineyard’ Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2019 750ML ($89.95) $75 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 97 points “Paul Gerrie is the newest vineyard at Cristom, planted from 2016–2019; it’s 28 acres of mostly Pinot Noir and smaller portions of Chardonnay and Gamay. The 2019 Pinot Noir Paul Gerrie Vineyard combines power and precision. It opens with a pleasant touch of sweet balsamic, with Morello cherries, bergamot and loamy earth. The medium-bodied palate is surprisingly intense, all that powerful fruit accented by swirls of savory and spicy nuance. It flows through the mouth with a silky, weightless texture and finishes very long and layered.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Cristom ‘Estate’ Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills 2019 750ML ($44.95) $36 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2019 Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills is characterized by broad, intense flavors foiled by tangy acidity. It offers aromas of apple pie, honeycomb, toast and white blossoms and is intensely flavored, ripe and textural, finishing with energetic freshness.”
Wine Enthusiast 92 points “Wonderfully floral on the nose, sappy and rich on the palate, this expressive wine is packed with flavorful fruits perfectly set against tangy acidity. White peach, Asian pear and a touch of lime combine on a full-bodied midpalate. The juicy fruit flavors energize the wine and set the taster up for sip after sip. -Paul Gregutt”
Cristom Louise Vineyard Chardonnay, Eola-Amity Hills 2019 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 94+ points “The 2019 Chardonnay Louise Vineyard is scented of white peaches, spring honey and hazelnuts, which seem in 2019 to capture the alluring essence of just-ripe Willamette Valley Chardonnay, tinged with tones of graphite and mushroom powder. The palate is youthfully citrusy and tangy, gaining volume and depth on the extended, honeyed finish. That racy acidity will help this age gracefully, and it will benefit from 2-3 more years in bottle.”
Wine Enthusiast 93 points “This wine is from a vineyard that sports 25-year-old Dijon clones. The flavors range from citrus to peach to pineapple, with bright natural acidity heightening the impact. It’s crystal clear, fresh and crisp, with a penetrating finish that brings a touch of wet stone. -Paul Gregutt”
Cristom Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2020 750ML ($29.95) $27 special, 24 bottles in stock now
France – Alsace
Domaine l’Agape Expression Pinot Gris Alsace 2018 750ML ($24.95) $19.90 special, 36 bottles in stock now
Domaine l’Agape Expression Riesling Alsace 2018 750ML ($24.95) $19.90 special, 36 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 90 points “The reine-claude plum and mirabelle aromas pull you into this charming, light and bright Alsace dry riesling that’s so refreshing and has the balance to be an all-rounder with lighter dishes. Drink now.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Le Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Le Caillou’ Rhone 2017 750ML ($49.95) $44.50 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case- Le Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Le Caillou’ Rhone 2017 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, (That’s only 41.50 per bottle!)
Case-12 Le Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Le Caillou’ Rhone 2017 750ML ($499.95) $479 special, (that’s only $39.92/bottle!)
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91-92 points “Glistening ruby-red. Pungent cherry pit and black currant aromas, along with hints of licorice, musky herbs and cracked pepper. Chewy and focused on the palate, offering slow-to-open bitter cherry and dark berry flavors braced by an undercurrent of juicy acidity. Shows firm tannic grip on the persistent finish, which leaves suggestions of candied licorice and cherry preserves behind. This is a pretty serious example of a “basic” bottling, and it deserves some patience.”
Jeb Dunnuck 90 points “Kirsch, blackberry, ground pepper, and incense notes all dominate the bouquet of the medium to full-bodied 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Le Caillou. It offers beautiful purity of fruit, a rounded, mouthfilling texture, and a great finish. Drink it over the coming decade.”
Spain – Catalonia
Agusti Torello Mata Brut Reserva Cava Catalonia 2018 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Decanter 90 points “A blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo from organic vines aged 30-40 years. Subtle aromas of green apple, apricot pastries and ripe lemon. Evolved honeyed notes on the palate, alongside fresh apple and lemon citrus, with a creamy texture, gentle bubbles and a fresh lift of grapefruit acidity on the finish. Good value for money. Organic and suitable for vegans. Drinking Window 2021 – 2023.”
Agusti Torello Mata Trepat Rosat Brut Cava Catalonia 2019 750ML ($27.95) $24.40 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Winery note “Vintage 2019: One of the best harvests with the right amount of rain that led to an excellent sugar and acidity balance giving notes of red fruit to this vintage. Tasting notes: Notes of strawberry, wild berries and cherries. An aromatic, fresh and agile cava to accompany appetizers, starters, fruits, fresh cheeses, or puff pastry sweets.”
Germany – Mosel River Valley
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese 11 Mosel #11 20 375ML ($59.95) $49 special, 6 half bottles in stock now
Mosel Fine Wines 97 points “The 2020er Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese AP 11 was made from fully ripe grapes harvested with little botrytis in the Fergert sector of the vineyard and was fermented down to noble-sweet levels of residual sugar. It offers a backward yet stunningly airy nose made of pear, quince, whipped cream, carraway, and subtly honeyed elements. The wine is gorgeously light-footed on the palate and leaves the most incredibly complex, discreet yet intense feel in the long and hugely persistent finish. A hint of almond enhances the flavors in the aftertaste. This Auslese is a huge success and shines through its marvelous delicate style! 2030-2060.”
James Suckling 97 points “In spite of the ripeness, which edges in a caramelized direction, this retains dramatic freshness that builds and builds as it flows across the palate. The concentration is underplayed, so that the whole composition comes across as extremely delicate. Lime freshness and floral delicacy at the finish. Who can resist these charms? Drink or hold.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 96 points “Picked on October 17, the 2020 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese #11 represents the finish of the harvest and is the only Auslese and the highest predicate that was produced last year chez Willi Schaefer. Based on ripe, intense and concentrated yet healthy berries, this Auslese opens with a very clear, precise and fresh, finely flinty bouquet. Lush and round on the palate, this is a dense yet filigreed and beautifully balanced Auslese with a long, intense and stringent finish. The acidity is highly finessed and stimulatingly salty. A gorgeous Riesling filled into 375-milliliter bottles. 7.5% alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted in September 2021.”
Italy – Montalcino
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Tuscany 2016 750ML ($49.95) $44.50 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 96 points “Ripe, sweet cherry and raspberry fruit are accented by floral, mineral and wild herbs in this alluring red. A backbone of dense, dusty tannins provides support, and the ripe fruit returns on the savory finish. Excellent length. Best from 2023 through 2043. 15,000 cases made, 8,500 cases imported. — BS”
Tenuta di Arceno Arcanum Toscana IGT Tuscany 2008 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Case-6 Tenuta di Arceno Arcanum Toscana IGT Tuscany 2008 750ML ($599.95) $449 special, (That’s only $74.83 per bottle!)
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2008 Arcanum is a monumental achievement and my favorite wine in an already impossibly impressive collection. The blend sees Cabernet Franc (77%), Merlot and a very small part of Cabernet Sauvignon. Like many Tuscany growers, Tenuta di Arceno is betting on Cabernet Franc’s performance in the warmer corners of Tuscany. The integration here is absolutely beautiful and the wine glides smoothly over the palate with the perfect balance of extraction, glycerin, residual sugar and acidity. The aromas span the spectrum, from bright cherry to dark chocolate. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2030.”
New Zealand – Marlborough
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2020 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 33 bottles in stock now
Decanter 94 points “Powerful, precise and classic Dog Point Sauvignon: stylish and mineral nose of citrus and tropical fruit and an abundance of fresh herbs. All the attributes displayed in the bouquet come alive on the silky, fresh, salivating and fruity palate. A lively, refreshing example; well made, lengthy and tasty. Drinking Window 2021 – 2026.”
Vermouth – Italy
Antica Distilleria Quaglia ‘Vermouth Del Professore’ Chinato Italy 2018 750ML ($37.95) $31.90 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Antica Distilleria Quaglia ‘Vermouth del Professore’ Classico Bianco Italy NV 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Antica Distilleria Quaglia ‘Vermouth Del Professore’ Rosso Italy NV 750ML ($29.95) $26 special, 6 bottles in stock now
The top offerings of Chianti Classico are sourced from hilltop plantings, which allow for temperature mitigation during the occasionally sweltering growing season in addition to providing a higher degree of ripeness. Often featuring older vines and élevage in new oak these are among the most bold and age worthy examples of Sangiovese in the world and are the blueprint for domestic efforts by producers like Leonetti. The Flaccianello by Fontodi exemplifies that perfectly, being a cuvee of the best blocks from the Fontodi estate. Organically farmed on the Conca d’Oro hill at an average height of 1,000 feet above sea level, these would be cult wines selling for thousands if the vineyard was in Napa or Bordeaux. Built for the long haul not unlike a Brunello, this is a perfect Sangiovese for a long-term cellaring.
In stock now:
Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT Tuscany 2017 750ML ($199.95) $149 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 97 points “The 2017 Flaccianello della Pieve is fabulous. Dark, sensual and enveloping, the 2017 captures the essence of the house style in its textural richness and baritone inflections. Black cherry, plum, spice, new leather, licorice and chocolate infuse the 2017 with tremendous richness. The 2017 spent 18 months in barrique followed by 6 months in cask, the same aging regime as the Vigna del Sorbo, but with a bit more new oak. That approach worked very well, as the Flaccianello stands out for its exceptional textural elegance and finesse. It is a positively stellar wine.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “The Fontodi 2017 Flaccianello della Pieve is a standout wine of the dry vintage. This pure Sangiovese opens to a dark garnet color with more visible concentration and density compared to recent past editions. This is a beautiful wine with pliant tannins, dark fruit richness, balanced acidity and a fruit-forward 15% alcohol content. The wine is big and bold when weighed on the Flaccianello scale (and even more so when weighed on the Sangiovese scale) with dark cherry, plum, spice, violet, chalk and campfire ash. Despite that power and inner opulence, this wine adds that zesty Sangiovese character with fresh acidity and an energized approach. This Flaccianello is whole and complete with the natural firmness and structure to hold it steady during the aging process. A small part of amphorae-aged fruit is added to the blend.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “There’s fine purity to the black cherry, black currant and blackberry flavors in this expressive red, with refined tannins. Everything is in the right proportion as this remains vibrant and focused, with iron and oak spice accents adding depth as this builds to a lingering aftertaste. Best from 2022 through 2040.”
James Suckling 95 points “Very high-toned and muscular red with crushed cherries, blackberries and walnuts. Some dried earth. It’s full-bodied and chewy with solid tannins that form the wine. Beautiful ripe fruit in the center palate. Needs time to soften. Try after 2022.”
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!
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Italian Dessert Wine Selections
Have you ever experienced the traditional Italian digestif of sweet wine and Biscotti? Much like olive oil and wine production it is one of the great “unifiers” of Italian culture, with examples seen from Sicily to the northern reaches of the Veneto. Traditionally sourced from local varietals, there are a number of techniques that have been developed over the centuries to make these wines, with their use largely being confined to celebrations and welcoming guests.
The main styles are Passito, Recioto and Vin Santo with the latter being first mentioned by Ancient Roman writer Pliny the Elder. There is a dizzying assortment of producers, sweetness levels, and varietals used with only a handful making it to the United States. Most examples feature medium-to-high levels of residual sugar, with a medium of acidity and an incredibly full body that can be almost syrupy.
In addition to all three being late harvested wines another shared characteristic is the drying that happens pre fermentation. Passito and Recioto wines involve adding dried or raisinated grapes to a batch of wine that’s still fermenting. This results in a wine high in alcohol with a healthy dose of residual sugar, and a dollop of tannins to round out the whole thing. Vin Santo in comparison is much more variable, with the final sugar content being determined by when the fermentation stops. This variance is on account of the use of wild yeasts, which stop fermenting at unpredictable times.
Across the board the wines tend to be medium to full bodied, with flavors becoming more textured and nuanced as they age in bottle. After 5-10 years after their vintage date they take on flavors like hazelnut, almond, dried orange peel, cloves and earth with their color darkening from gold to bronze. The time needed to late harvest, dry the grapes, slowly press and ferment make these some of the most labor intensive dessert wines in the entire world.
Highlights in stock now:
Arnaldo-Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG Italy 2016 375ML ($69.95) $59 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wilson Daniels tasting note “AROMA: The sweetness arrives first to the nose with scents of blackberry and strawberry jam, revealing vanilla and cinnamon. TASTE: warm and sweet, soft and intense. The tannins work to balance the sugars and leave the palate cleansed, ready for another taste.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Feudo Montoni Passito Rosso, Cantabria NV 375ML ($39.95) $33 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 94 points “Bright deep red with an orange rim. The nose really opens with aeration to offer sweet red plum, dehydrated red cherry, cinnamon and raisins. Then similar flavors to the aromas lifted by juicy, harmonious acidity. Finishes very long and suave with saline nuances and repeating notes of raisins. Lovely, light on its feet dessert wine that seems less sweet than it really is thanks to its piercing acidity. One of the best sweet wines I have tasted so far this year. This is a blend of air-dried Nero d’Avola and Perricone aged in wood barrels for seven months and then twelve months in bottle prior to going on sale.”
Vin Santo in stock now:
Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano Tuscany 2001 375ML ($219.95) $169 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 98 points “The 2001 Vin Santo di Montepulciano (375 milliliters) is a divine and superbly delicious sweet blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia and Grechetto. The results are super concentrated and simmered down to a virtual reduction sauce of deliciousness. There are so many aromas to name, but some of the most evident highlights include candied orange peel, almond marzipan, caramel, toasted coffee bean, vanilla stick, mocha, dark honey and fragrant yellow rose. The mouthfeel is creamy, rich and deeply layered. I’m suggesting a slightly shorter drinking window here compared to the Occhio di Pernice. But, the truth is: I have no idea. I’m pretty sure these wines will outlive anyone of legal drinking age.”
Rocca di Montegrossi Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Tuscany 2006 375ML ($149.95) $119 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “Rocca di Montegrossi often makes one of the richest Vin Santos in Chianti Classico. The 2006 is a bit less opulent than is often the case, but that just means the Vin Santo is not a blockbuster. Voluptuous and beautifully layered throughout, the 2006 offers an attractive infusion of dried herbs, wild flowers, coconut, mint and leather, all wrapped around a core of dark, deeply spiced fruit.”
Rocca di Montegrossi Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Tuscany 2009 375ML ($99.95) $89 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2009 Vin Santo is a rich, exotic wine, as it always is. Readers will find one of the richest most intense Vin Santos being made today. Plush, tropical and ample in feel, Rocca di Montegrossi’s Vin Santo is bold and racy to the core. The 350 grams of residual sugar leave the wine with tremendous textural plushness.”
Castello di Volpaia Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Tuscany 2015 375ML ($69.95) $59 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Wilson Daniels tasting note “Scintillating amber. It is a full, balanced wine with intense flavors of cane sugar, apricot jam and sultan grapes. Warm and luscious with an almond finish.”
We carry a wide variety of dessert wines in stock including Port, Sauternes and Tokaji
Waris-Larmandier is a tiny estate founded in 1989. You’ll be forgiven for not having heard of it. It encompasses just over five hectares (all 32+ year old vines) and most of its understated production is snapped up in France and the UK. But the family is in good company, with close familial ties to Larmandier-Bernier, Pierre Gimonnet, and Guy Larmandier. Based in Avize, they tend vines in several Cote des Blanc villages as well as tiny parcels of Pinot Noir and Meunier in the Montagne de Reims, Côte des Bar, and the Aube. The base wines are aged in neutral barrels with liqueur de tirage and dosage made exclusively from estate vines, if added at all. Officially certified biodynamic just last year, these are structured wines bottled at a lower pressure to best showcase Chardonnay’s skill at conveying terroir.
Larmandier-Bernier ‘Longitude’ Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Extra Brut Champagne NV ($69.95) $59 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The NV Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Longitude 1er Cru sizzles with tension and energy. Chalk and limestone soils in the villages of Vertus, Cramant and Oger give birth to a Champagne endowed with so much vibrancy. Citrus, yellow flowers, spice and baked apple tart add aromatic nuance, but it is the wine’s pure drive and texture that stand out most. This is a fabulous showing. The current release is based on 2016, with 40% wines from a perpetual reserve that dates back to 2004. Dosage is 4 grams per liter. Disgorged: October, 2019.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points “Another lovely wine from Larmandier-Bernier, the 2017-base NV Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Longitude was disgorged in April 2020 with three grams per liter dosage. Mingling aromas of citrus oil, green apple and pear with hints of white flowers and fresh bread, it’s medium to full-bodied, elegantly enveloping and precise, with a more mineral, chiseled profile than the Latitude bottling, reflecting its origins in optimally situated parcels in Vertus, Oger, Avize, Cramant. As I’ve written before, this is one of the finest non-vintage bottlings to be found in Champagne, and it comes warmly recommended.”
Waris-Larmandier Particules Crayeuses Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Champagne NV ($89.95) $73.50 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Particules Crayeuses is Waris-Larmandier’s flagship Blanc de Blancs cuvée, sourced from the estate’s biodynamically farmed, old-vine chardonnay plots in the Grand Cru villages of Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs. The Waris-Larmandier family utilizes natural and regenerative agricultural practices. Particules Crayeuses is certified organic and biodynamic Champagne. The Waris-Larmandier style is terroir-focused, understated, structured, and ultra-elegant.”
Waris-Larmandier ‘Racine de Trois’ Brut Champagne NV 750ML ($79.95) $59 special, 19 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Cuvée Racines de Trois represents the “three roots” of Waris-Larmandier: the contribution of the three siblings to the project, and their use of three grape varieties (chardonnay, pinot noir, and meunier), coming from three regions of Champagne (Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and Côte des Bar). Together they form the base of Waris-Larmandier’s entry-level Champagne, which combines the structure of chardonnay with the red-fruit characteristics from the two pinots in an incredibly food-friendly, drinkable package. The Waris-Larmandier family utilizes natural and regenerative agricultural practices to cultivate their old-vine Grand Cru vineyards near their village of Avize in the Côte des Blancs. Racines de Trois is certified organic and biodynamic Champagne. The Waris-Larmandier style is terroir-focused, understated, structured, and ultra-elegant.”
Waris-Larmandier ‘L’Istant de Passion’ Brut Rose Champagne NV ($89.95) $75 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Importer note “L’Instant de Passions Rosé is sourced from the estate’s biodynamically farmed, old-vine chardonnay plots in the Grand Cru villages of Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs and pinot noir from the Côte des Bar. The Waris-Larmandier family utilizes natural and regenerative agricultural practices—L’Instant de Passions Rosé is a certified organic and biodynamic Champagne. The Waris-Larmandier style is terroir-focused, understated, structured, and ultra-elegant. L’Instant de Passions Rosé is a very limited, complex œil de perdrix rosé with mellow, earthy mushroom nuances, melting into strawberries, pink grapefruit, saline notes, and baking spices. The harmonious palate has a savory, smooth and creamy texture and a long, elegant and supple finish. A rosé that can be enjoyed before a meal but also has the tension to pair beautifully with food.”
Larmandier wines arriving Mid-February:
Larmandier-Bernier Les Chemins d’Avize Grand Cru Extra Brut Champagne 2013 750ML ($179.95) $149 pre-arrival special
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 96 points “Revisited from the October 2019 disgorgement, Larmandier-Bernier’s 2013 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Chemins d’Avize continues to show brilliantly, offering up complex aromas of argan oil, fresh apricot and crisp yellow orchard fruit, complemented by hints of fresh walnuts and almond paste. Full-bodied, deep and vinous, it’s layered and elegantly fleshy, with a concentrated core of ripe fruit, racy acids and a long, mineral finish. As I wrote last year, Pierre Larmandier invariably excels in cool, late-growing seasons, so the 2013 vintage was perfectly adapted to his talents.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2013 Extra Brut Les Chemins d’Avize Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is floral and gracious, much more so than is common in Avize Champagnes, which tend to have more body. The 2013 is beautifully perfumed and ethereal from start to finish, with striking beams of salinity that confer tension. Candied lemon peel, white flowers, spice, hazelnut, dried flowers and chamomile are some of the many notes that are laced together. This subtle, wonderfully nuanced Champagne has so much to offer. It is the most restrained wine in this range. The Chemins d’Avize is a blend of fruit from Chemin de Plivot and Chemin de Flavigny, done in neutral oak. Dosage is 2 grams per liter. Disgorged: October, 2019.”
Larmandier-Bernier Vieilles Vignes du Levant Grand Cru Extra Brut Champagne 2011 ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 97 points “Revisited from the June 2019 disgorgment, Larmandier-Bernier’s 2011 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vieille Vigne du Levant continues to drink superbly, bursting from the glass with aromas of pear, peach, toasted almonds, white flowers, fresh bread and oyster shell. Full-bodied, layered and concentrated, it’s deep and fleshy, with superb concentration, racy acids and a long, saline finish. I have previously contended that Pierre Larmandier produced Champagne’s wines-of-the-vintage in 2011, and every bottle I open seems to confirm that. Indeed, if one were to taste only his wines, along with those produced by a small handful of other growers, one could easily think very differently about this unheralded year.”
Decanter 95 points “This masterful Champagne comes from the superb Bourron du Levant vineyard, whose oldest vines were planted more than 80 years ago. Brown butter, hazelnut and brioche lead the initial attack, but this never loses sight of freshness and purity, with a crystalline depth and harmonious balance. Fermented in cask with eight years on the lees, this should last for decades. Drinking Window 2020 – 2050.”
Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Non-Dose Champagne 2014 750ML ($89.95) $79 special, 24 bottles in stock now
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 94+ points “Disgorged in January 2020, the 2014 Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Terre de Vertus is a fine follow-up to the excellent 2013 and 2012 renditions. Unwinding in the glass with scents of white flowers, citrus oil, crisp orchard fruit, fresh pastry and almonds, it’s full-bodied, layered and vinous, with more richness and mid-palate amplitude than the tauter 2013, underpinned by racy acids and chalky structuring extract.”
New Grower Champagne:
Members of the family started making champagne in the early 20th century. Pertois-Lebrun was created with the marriage of Paul Pertois of Cramant with Françoise Lebrun of Le Mesnil sur Oger. When they retired, their daughter Odile took over, but significantly reduced the amount of wine she bottled. In 2007, her nephew Clement, born in 1979, arrived at the domaine, followed in 2013 by his younger brother Antoine. Together, they decided to push the quality to new levels by working the soils ( they no longer use synthetic herbicides or insecticides), separating parcels, using only the cuvee juice for the wines that they sell in bottle, and ageing the bottles for at least 4 years on the lees.
The domaine has 44 parcels spread over 9 hectares of vineyards all in Grand Crus vineyards in the Côte des Blancs : Cramant, Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, Chouilly, Oiry, and Oger. While in the past they produced “traditional” blends, they have released their first single vineyard cuvee, Le Fond du Bateau(Chouilly) . Bettane & Dessauve : “From the harvest 2009, this is a real achievement for this new cuvée with a broad attack typical of Chouilly and a nice energetic and saline finish.” They will be releasing a Le Chetillon cuvee from Le Mesnil in the future. With their vineyard holdings, their enthusiasm, and their desire to produce top-quality champagnes, this is a domaine that will quickly gain international recognition.
Lebrun wines in stock now:
Pertois-Lebrun L’egoiste Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2013 750ML ($79.95) $66 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Petrois Lebrun L’extraverie Blanc des Blancs, Champagne NV 750ML ($54.95) $47.50 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Pertois-Lebrun ‘Derrire le Mont Aigu’ Chouilly Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne BDB NV ($99.95) $79 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Huet’s Cornucopia of Chenin
Huet makes some of the most undervalued great wine in the world. Take any metric you’d use to adjudicate greatness (complexity, age-worthiness, terroir, aromatic intensity, world-wide praise, etc) and Huet’s Vouvray is on the list, at prices far below almost anything else in their class.
The estate has long been ahead of its time. This is one of France’s pioneers in biodynamic viticulture. Today, horses still plough between the rows, and in the winery the recipe remains relatively simple. Fermentation takes place half in stainless steel, half in old oak, without malolactic fermentation. After only six months, the wines are bottled and then laid to age in a cellar dug from tuffeau rock, no air conditioning required. From here the Huet work is done: the rest is up to nature, and what eventually tastes like divine intervention.
Few producers anywhere in the world make better off-dry to sweet white wines than Domaine Huet. These are wines that offer near-unmatched flexibility at the table, and Domaine Huet’s reputation guarantees long ageing potential. Made according to tradition and terroir, with utmost respect for nature, Huet wines can keep for decades.
Huet wines in stock now:
Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Clos du Bourg’ Demi-Sec Loire 2016 750ML ($59.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points “Gorgeous, with creamy-edged nectarine, yellow and green apple, pear and quince flavors that are brightly defined from start to finish, flecked with verbena and honeysuckle hints and backed by a off-dry edge on the finish. Stays fresh and pure throughout. Tempting now but there’s no rush. Drink now through 2032.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “From 30-year-old vines on calcareous loam soils, the 2016 Vouvray Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec offers a clear, pure, fine and intensely aromatic bouquet with tropical fruit and chalky aromas. Round, lush and exotic on the palate, with a silky texture and salty piquancy on the finish, the 2016 needs up to a decade to integrate the 19 grams of residual sugar. The finish is lovey, concentrated, juicy and well structured, with a lingering and stimulating salinity. Tasted February 2018.”
Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Clos du Bourg’ Demi-Sec Loire 2020 750ML ($49.95) $44 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Rebecca Gibbs Mw-Vinous 97 points “Drinking the 2020 Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec is like taking your shoes off at the end of a long day of walking and soaking them in warm water: there’s just satisfaction and relaxation. The 2020 has a sense of volume but not weight, filling the mouth with depths of pure fruit before the acid pours forth like a canal lock being opened. You can expect a hint of spice and crème caramel alongside apple and florals. I am utterly seduced.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2020 Vouvray Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec is concentrated, deep and still somewhat untamed on the clear, fresh and lemon-fruity yet darker-toned nose compared to the Haut-Lieu. Round and refined yet still with a pretty firm tannin structure, this is a rich and powerful yet elegant and persistently salty Chenin with tension, grip and a sustainable, highly promising finish. The 2020 Clos du Bourg pairs juiciness with finesse and purity with complexity. Tasted as a tank sample shortly before bottling in April 2021.”
Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Le Haut Lieu’ Moelleux Loire 2016 750ML ($59.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points “Gorgeous crystallized ginger, dried quince, glazed pear and warm persimmon notes are seamlessly interwoven here, gliding through a lengthy finish that picks up a lilting green tea accent. Frankly off-dry but wonderfully pure. Drink now through 2035.”
Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Le Mont’ Sec Loire 2020 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Rebecca Gibbs Mw-Vinous 96 points “White flowers, pineapple and just-ripe pear combine in the 2020 Le Mont Sec from Huet, which offers just enough youthful puppy fat on the concentrated midpalate before finishing with mouthwatering acidity providing precision and line. It delivers intensity of fruit, yet it’s light on its feet. Fine phenolics offer a delicate but self-assured sense of structure and poise. Delightfully balanced, and better a day after opening.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 95 points “The only dry wine from the vintage is the 2020 Vouvray Le Mont Sec, whose tank sample shows a classy, pure, precise and chalky/lemony bouquet with bright and perfectly healthy fruit and some herbal as well as yeasty aromas. On the palate, this is a dense, fabulously juicy, fruity and elegant Chenin whose immediate attraction and pure finesse initially reminds me of Riesling, whereas the texture is too rich and the salty and finely tannic finish too intense and powerful for Riesling. With more aeration, the Le Mont gets more and more intense and complex but also, tannic-wise, more wild. The 2020 has great tension, energy and grip and is highly promising. Tasted a few days before bottling in April 2021.”
Check out our full assortment of wines by Huet today!