In This Newsletter:
Raymond Usseglio & Fils Cuvee Girard
On-sale until February 21st, 2022
Staff Picks: New School Grower Champagne
New Arrivals from Poderi Aldo Conterno
New Oregon Arrivals
Titan of the Terrassenmosel:
Montée de Tonnerre: Hill of Value
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Raymond Usseglio & Fils Cuvee Girard
On-sale until February 21st, 2022
For those lacking in cellar space, Usseglio’s Cuvée Girard is a Châteauneuf that doesn’t require years of patience to be enjoyed. Made of 90% Grenache, with Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, and Counoise blended in, it is one of the best deals in the region: a $36/bottle powerhouse that’s ready to go from the pull of the cork.
Usseglio wines on sale now:
Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Girard Rhone 2019 750ML ($54.95) $39 special, 33 bottles in stock now
Case-6 Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Girard Rhone 2019 750ML ($324.99) $222 special, (That’s only $37 per bottle)
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Quite different than the base cuvée (which isn’t always the case), the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Girard is a special blend that usually includes more Mourvèdre. Lots of red and black fruits, peppery garrigue, and spice dominate the bouquet, and this beauty is medium to full-bodied and brings lots of fruit and richness, yet it stays balanced, light on its feet, and a joy to drink. Drink it over the coming 15+ years.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 92 points “Bright ruby. Fragrant red berry, cherry pit and lavender aromas are sharpened by smoky mineral and cracked pepper notes. Sappy and pliant in texture, offering ripe, spice-tinged raspberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that show very good depth as well as vivacity. Finishes smoky and precise, displaying gentle tannic grip and building florality.”
Matt Walls – Decanter 92 points “Very full-bodied, concentrated but not overextracted, with considerable grip. Powerful wine, very Châteauneuf. Well balanced for a punchy style, it’s retained its freshness and energy. Unfiltered. 80% Grenache; 20% Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise and Cinsault.”
Other Usseglio wines in stock now:
Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Imperiale Rhone 2019 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 23 bottles in stock now
96 points James Suckling: “Deep, spicy and fragrant, this is a very concentrated and elegant Chateauneuf-du-Pape with remarkably fine tannins and floral delicacy alongside its earthy primacy. Mainly produced from grenache vines planted in 1901 and 1902. From Demeter-certified biodynamically grown grapes. Drink or hold. (11/4/21)”
Jeb Dunnuck 95+ points: “The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Impériale is almost all Grenache (there’s 5% of other varieties), and it’s another gorgeous wine from this estate. Reminding me of a great Gevrey-Chambertin with its darker red and black fruits, peppery herbs, earth, and flowery incense, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness and has ripe tannins, wonderful balance, and a great finish. This pure, unadulterated, incredibly compelling Grenache needs 2-4 years of bottle age and will deliver the goods for upwards of two decades. Drink: 2023-2044. (11/3/21)”
Josh Raynolds (Vinous) 95 points : “Saturated magenta. Highly perfumed raspberry and cherry liqueur, exotic spice, incense and potpourri aromas are complicated by hints of musky herbs and smoky minerals. Juicy, seamless and energetic on the palate, offering pliant red berry, cherry cola, allspice and lavender flavors that show superb definition and back-end lift. Polished, even tannins lend grip to a strikingly long, penetrating finish that echoes the floral and mineral notes. These vines were reportedly planted in 1901 and 1902. Drink: 2026-2036. (Oct 2021)
We carry selections from throughout the Rhone including Chateauneuf, the Northern Rhone and Gigondas!
Staff Picks: New School Grower Champagne
Bérêche & Fils
Few growers are as lauded as Bérêche & Fils. Having made Champagne as a house since 1847, Raphaël and Vincent Bérêche apprenticed under their father before taking over the estate in 2004 and changing the domaine into what it’s known for today. Already practicing organic, the brothers introduced biodynamic practices and phased out the use of all chemical based inputs, including herbicide.
The house is meticulously traditional in the cellar as well, using ambient yeast for primary fermentation, and cork for secondary in the bottle instead of the industry standard crown cap. What this does for the champagne is allow for micro-oxygenation, allowing for the aromatics and flavors to polymerize together. This creates incredible complexity both on release and after bottle age. Their brut reserve is considered the “calling card” of the house and offers a transcendent look at what’s possible with meticulous practices and generations of ancestral knowledge.
Bérêche & Fils wines in stock now:
Bereche et Fils Brut Reserve Champagne NV 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Disgorged June 2021. L18
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92 points “Disgorged in July 2020 with seven grams per liter dosage, the NV Brut Réserve (2018 base) is the latest rendition of this wine. Bursting with aromas of orange oil, crisp orchard fruit and fresh bread, it’s medium to full-bodied, fleshy and gourmand, with tangy acids and an enveloping, pillowy profile. [Review is for prior disgorgement of the same base year.]”
Alexandre Chartogne is single handedly credited with reviving the reputation of his home village of Merfy. Located just northwest of Riems in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, Alexandre Chartogne took over his family’s 28 acres in 2006 after apprenticing under legendary Champenois, Jacques Selosse. At its peak acclaim in the Middle Ages, there were more grapevines planted in Merfy than the entire Marne region of Champagne thanks to the local monks.
Alexandre instituted organic farming methods, horse plowing and restorative cover crops, while phasing out all chemical based inputs on the estate. Call it technical skill, or exceptional farming either way his entry level easily hits at a $75-$100 price point.
Comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a splash of Pinot Meunier from his estate holdings, there is a full spectrum of Citrus, Mashed quince, Golden Apple and a finish that is savory and salty, redolent of yellow miso.
Chartogne Taillet in stock now:
Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Ste Anne, Champagne NV 750ML ($51.95) $44 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Ste Anne, Champagne NV 750ML ($299.95) $249 special (that’s only $41.50/bottle —the lowest listed price in the country!)
John Gilman 90+ points “The current release of Alexandre Chartogne’s Cuvée Ste. Anne non-vintage Brut is from the base year of 2017. The vins clairs were raised in a combination of both stainless steel and oak and the wine was not bottled up for secondary fermentation until July of 2018. The cépages is its customary blend of nearly equal parts of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and the wine was disgorged in February of 2020, with a finishing dosage of just over five grams per liter. The wine offers up a vibrant bouquet of apple, white peach, a fine base of soil tones, brioche, gentle smokiness and a topnote of white flowers. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a good core, elegant bubbles, fine balance and grip and a long, zesty and quite classy finish. This seems a touch longer on the backend to me than the last couple of iterations of this bottling that I have tasted and is first class, non-vintage Brut. But, this is still a fairly young wine and I would be inclined to give it some bottle age to let it start to blossom properly. 2022-2040.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90 points “The latest release of Chartogne’s NV Brut Sainte Anne is based on the 2017 vintage, complemented by 40% reserve wines. Disgorged in September 2020 with five grams per liter dosage, it opens in the glass with aromas of crisp yellow orchard fruit, white flowers and fresh pastry. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, it’s elegantly textural, bright and precise, with a seamless, harmonious profile.”
Disgorgement date may vary from reviews.
New Arrivals from Poderi Aldo Conterno
Poderi Aldo Conterno Bussia, Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($99.95) $89 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 92 points “The Poderi Aldo Conterno 2017 Barolo Bussia shows a dark but busy quality of fruit that speaks more to the power of this hot vintage than it does the nuanced side of Nebbiolo. In this respect, the wine is quite typical of the 2017 growing season. It takes a while before the wine finds focus in the glass, but it does slowly come together to reveal broad layers of dark cherry, cassis and plum. There is some tannic tightness that leads to sour berry. A bit awkward at this young stage, it needs a few more years of cellar age to flesh out and reach balance.”
Poderi Aldo Conterno Bussia Cicala, Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($219.59) $179 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points “A solid, powerful style, this expressive red is well-marked by new oak, with plum, cherry, cigar box, menthol and sun-kissed hay flavors. Balanced and lively, with refined tannins and a long, spice-infused finish. Best from 2025 through 2042. —B.S.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 91 points “The Poderi Aldo Conterno 2017 Barolo Bussia Cicala reveals a deep garnet color with some dark copper. Like the other 2017 wines from this celebrated producer, I can’t help but suspect that these areas of Bussia suffered from the heat and some of the other weather challenges associated with this growing season. A clear note of overt ripeness comes across as dried strawberry or sweet crème de cassis. The finish is similarly weighed down by the fruit weight and oak tannins.”
Poderi Aldo Conterno Colonnello, Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94+ points “The Poderi Aldo Conterno 2017 Barolo Bussia Colonnello shows good focus, structure and a sharper character that is often the distinguishing factor in this wine. The bouquet is redolent of dark fruit and plum, but it also shows a solid framing of iron ore and dark stony mineral. These give the wine greater lift and contoured edges. This is not the first time that Colonnello is my favorite wine in this lineup, and I suspect it won’t be the last.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Offering plum, cherry, iron, eucalyptus and black pepper aromas and flavors, this broad red has absorbed the oak treatment pretty well already, with a dense matrix of tannins and lively acidity. Balanced and long, ending with elements of mineral and spice. Best from 2025 through 2043. —B.S.”
Shop our additional bottlings from Poderi Aldo Conterno, including the 2017 & 2018 Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile!
New Oregon Arrivals
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2019 Pinot Noir Dundee Hills is ethereal and perfumed this vintage. It offers pure scents of raspberry preserves, bergamot, tangerine and Angostura with wafts of sweet balsamic. The palate is soft, bright and super silky, with layer after layer of sweet fruit, spice and citrus, and it finishes long and perfumed.”
Beaux Freres Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2019 750ML ($69.95) $55 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds 94 points “Saturated garnet. Energetic, finely etched red fruit and floral scents pick up smoky mineral, blood orange and baking spice flourishes with air. In a lively style, showing excellent clarity and spicy lift to the juicy raspberry, mulberry and cherry cola flavors. Puts on weight with air, with no loss of energy, and finishes impressively long and precise, the floral and spice notes repeating.”
Colene Clemens Vineyards ‘Dopp Creek’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2019 750ML ($39.95) $28 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points “Slowly unfurls, opening with taut raspberry and stony mineral, then drawing in a rich and plush texture that glides toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2030. -T.F.”
Josh Raynolds 91 points “Full magenta. Musky red and blue fruits, lavender, succulent herbs and a hint of spiciness on the fragrant nose. Smooth and open-knit, offering sweet cherry cola and boysenberry flavors and a smoky topnote. The floral and spice notes recur on a long, subtly chewy finish framed by well-knit, even tannins. 15% new French oak.”
Patricia Green Cellars Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2019 750ML ($36.95) $33 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds 93 points “Deep, brilliant red. Spice-accented raspberry, boysenberry and candied rose aromas are complicated by suggestions of star anise and incense. Silky, sweet and fleshy in the mouth, offering plush red and blue fruit preserve and exotic spice flavors that pick up floral pastille and botanical herb nuances as the wine opens up. Round, even tannins add shape to a long, supple finish that leaves behind sappy red berry liqueur, floral and spice notes. 5% new French oak.”
Shea Wine Cellars Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2018 750ML ($59.95) $39 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points “Deep magenta. Spice-laced red and dark berry, cherry cola and floral pastille scents take on a savory herb quality with air. Shows very good depth and breadth on the palate, which offers appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve, mocha and black tea flavors and a hint of allspice. Gains energy with air and repeats the floral note on a long, gently tannic finish that leaves a bitter cherry note behind.”
The average price nationally is $42
His winemaking magic isn’t constrained to just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir either, with Cameron winery being one of the few producers in Oregon utilizing white grapes for field blends. Stylistically drawing from Northern Italy, these are among the most refreshing and food friendly wines in the valley. The only drawback is their limited production volumes, given that John Paul rarely sources beyond his estate vineyards.
Cameron wines in stock now:
Cameron Winery Dundee Hills Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2020 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Winery note “This delicious chardonnay is a blend of grapes from Abbey Ridge and Clos Electrique vineyards, deeming it worthy of the Dundee Hills appellation. It displays aromas of vanilla, lime leaf and lemon crème brûlée in the nose and has a rich and tasty mouth with moderate acidity. Perfect for sipping while you prepare dinner and a splendid accompaniment for almost any dish. Consider it a gateway drug for our single vineyard chardonnays!”
Cameron Winery Giuliano White Oregon 2020 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 15 bottles in stock now
Grapelive 93 points “The light and crisp Giuliano, an Italian inspired white blend, is from Cameron’s Dundee Hills estate vineyards, Clos Electrique and White Oak. It is a delicious wine, one that has become one of my favorites, when I can get it of course. All of these Cameroni (the Italian style wines) are highly sought after by fans of the legendary John Paul, famous for his Pinots, but who is an Italian wine fanatic himself, so they sell out fast, especially this one. Highly refreshing, slightly effervescent from the capture of CO2 during tank fermentation and with a lovely white flowers bouquet the latest Giuliano delivers a zingy palate of racy citrus, green apple, bosc pear and tart quince fruits, saline infused wet rock, sweet and sour herbs, spearmint and lingering mineral tones. This is a wine to enjoy with oysters, sushi and or linguine pasta with Manila claims. It is jazzy stuff that gets more interesting with food and is rather more than the sum of its parts. The nose, the fruit and tanginess mixed with the stony dimension and orange blossoms add up to a very compelling white wine that gains texture and spice with air highlighting the volcanic Jory soils. Those that like the whites and or field blends of Northeastern Italy will find this wine faithful if not a riveting new world example, full of personality with no pretense and with a raw transparency that is wonderfully addictive…”
Cameron White Oak Cider Poire, Ribbon Ridge, Oregon 2020 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 7 bottles in stock now
VinpolNote: European style cider sourced entirely from cider apples grown at White Oak Estate.
Cameron Winery ‘Abbey Ridge’ Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2018 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 35 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: Abbey Ridge sits high atop the Dundee Hills; a collection of vines planted on their own roots in the mid-70’s. It’s unquestionably one of the most special sites in the Willamette Valley and though it’s better known for Pinot Noir, the Abbey Chard is fantastic. This is the most limited of the Chardonnay bottlings from Cameron and isn’t produced every year.
Cameron Winery ‘Abbey Ridge’ Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2019 750ML ($89.95) $65 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: Abbey Ridge sits high atop the Dundee Hills; a collection of vines planted on their own roots in the mid-70’s. It’s unquestionably one of the most special sites in the Willamette Valley
Titan of the Terrassenmosel:
These are Rieslings that feature incredibly high acids, pervasive minerality and a plethora of secondary flavors like hoshigaki persimmon, saffron and ginger. From a stylistic perspective these are “serious” wines that are usually bone dry, with some sweet examples to be found in exceptional years. They require bottle age to even begin expressing their potential, with the best having almost unlimited life in the bottle. Most of their production is dry, but sweeter versions are made when the vintages conditions permit.
In stock now:
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘R’ Winninger Uhlen Roth Lay Auslese Goldkapsel Mosel 2007 375ML ($99.95) $49 special, 16 half-bottles in stock now
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘R’ Winninger Uhlen Roth Lay Auslese Goldkapsel Mosel 2010 750ML ($199.95) $89 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘B’ Uhlen Blaufusser Lay Mosel 2016 750M ($69.95) $49 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93+ points “The 2016 Riesling Uhlen B ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ is pure, fresh and rich at the same time, with flinty aromas on the nose. Full-bodied, precise and piquant on the palate, this is an elegant, fresh and salty Riesling with a lot of tension and length. Powerful. Long.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “This offers a gorgeous nose of candied grapefruit zest, some star fruit, ripe pear and apple, all wrapped into the telltale classy touch of fine spices and herbs so typical of the Estate. The wine is medium-bodied on the palate and leaves a beautifully pure, spicy and mineral-loaded feel in the long and delicately powerful finish. This is a gorgeous wine in the making with a hint of power and nice saltiness in the after-taste.”
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘L’ Uhlen Laubach Grosses Gewachs Riesling Mosel 2016 750ML ($69.95) $49 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “From a slate soil with 10% chalk, the 2016 Riesling Uhlen L ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ shows licorice, flinty and bright fruit aromas on the nose. Juicy, piquant and tensioned on the palate, this is an intense and complex Riesling with lush and intense fruit. The finish is long and promising. Tasted February 2018.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92+ points “This offers a stunning even if still rather reduced nose of pear, grapefruit, start fruit, ginger and smoky elements. The wine is beautifully balanced on the palate, where creamy fruits are nicely wrapped into a hint of acidity and some superb mineral and herby elements. The delicately powerful after-taste oozes refinement, under-toned freshness and multi-layered complexity. This is a gorgeous Uhlen L in the making and one with great upside potential as the wine gains in elegance at maturity.”
Montée de Tonnerre: Hill of Value
Much like her sister Burgundy, the vineyards of Chablis can have Premier and Grand Cru sites within a stone’s throw of one another. Also like in Burgundy you can have one producer’s row of grapevines average in the hundreds of dollars per bottle, with the next producer being a fraction of that within same vineyard. The differences are usually minor, especially in light of climate changes effect’s on viticulture.
The Montée de Tonnerre is one such example, with an ancient Roman road dividing the vineyard from the Grand Cru Blanchot. When comparing the two vineyards you find that Blanchot produces the lighter and less fruit driven wine than those of Montée de Tonnerre which exhibits more ripeness as a result of the greater sun exposure. Both vineyards feature layers of fossilized seashells and white clay, with Blanchot’s name being derived from the name “White hill”. If you’re a fan of Chablis that’s weightier and more textured than the Montée de Tonnerre is for you, especially in the hands of Samuel Billaud.
Samuel Billaud Montee de Tonnerre Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Neal Martin-Vinous 92 points “The 2016 Chablis Montée de Tonnerre, which underwent 15 months in barrel, has a lovely dried honey and beeswax scented bouquet that gains intensity with aeration. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, fresh and vibrant with a tangy, saliva-inducing saline finish that feels very persistent. Excellent.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 90-93 points “The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre comes from two parcels, one in the titular vineyard and the other in Chapelot, not far from Raveneau. It has quite a stern, focused, flinty bouquet that needs coaxing from the glass. The palate is (again) well balanced with a fine line of acidity. There are subtle notes of white peach and orange zest in situ, although perhaps not quite exuding the persistence of the Mont de Milieu on the finish. Still, this will merit three or four years in bottle.”
Domaine Louis Michel & Fils Montee de Tonnerre Chablis Premier Cru 2019 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special, 10 bottles in stock now
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92+ points “The 2019 Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre opens in the glass with notes of pear, green apple, wet stones, iodine and fresh pastry. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and layered, it’s taut and concentrated, with bright acids and a long, saline finish. It’s derived from holdings in Chapelot.”
Burghound 90-93 points “Outstanding. An airy, expressive and beautifully layered nose speaks of smoky citrus, white flowers, iodine and shellfish. The round, seductive and vibrant medium-bodied flavors possess a succulent yet sophisticated mid-palate texture while delivering fine length on the clean, moderately dry and sneaky long finish. This too will need to add depth over time, but it has the underlying material with which to do so if allowed the chance.”
Shop our complete selection of Chablis on our web store now!
Opus One in stock now:
Opus One Napa Valley 2018 750M ($389.95) $365 special, 6 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 99 points “Extremely perfumed and floral with lavender, lilacs and violets to the sweet, ripe berries, such as blackberries and blackcurrants. Some slate and graphite, too. It’s full-bodied, yet ever so balanced and refined, with super fine tannins that last for minutes. Fresh herbs, such as bay leaf and lemon grass highlight the dark fruit. The quality of tannin is exquisite with wonderful polish and refinement. Lasts for minutes. So wonderful to taste now, but better after 2026.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 98 points “Very deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Opus One soars out of the glass with bright, bold boysenberries, warm cassis and ripe, juicy black plums notes, plus emerging nuances of lilacs, oolong tea, cinnamon stick, tilled soil and black truffles. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is packed with tightly wound layers of crunchy black fruits, supported by firm, grainy tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing with lifted fruitiness and on a lingering mineral note.”
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “The 2018 Opus One is a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This deep purple-hued effort leans to lively, fresher side of the vintage but has a brilliant, utterly classic style in its crème de cassis and blue-tinged fruit as well as notes of lead pencil, candied violets, damp earth, and chocolate-like nuances. With a Pomerol-like elegance and purity, it’s medium to full-bodied and has wonderful tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. It plays in the finesse-driven end of the spectrum yet is concentrated and seamless, with serious length. It offers pleasure today but should benefit from 4-5 years in the cellar, and my money is on it evolving for 30 years or more.”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2018 Opus One is incredibly elegant and polished, right out of the bottle. Silky tannins and lifted, perfumed aromatics add to an impression of finesse that distinguishes the 2018 from some of the preceding vintages in a pretty big way. It will be interesting to see if the 2018 gains body with a bit of time in bottle. It is pretty rare for Opus One to be so approachable at this stage.”