In Today’s Newsletter:
Vaudieu’s Charming 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape
Rare Back Vintage Champagne from de Venoge
Anne-Sophie Dubois Beaujolais
2017 Cheval des Andes
Vaudieu ‘s Charming 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape
The estate sits on a confluence of soils and the myriad of terroirs yield exemplary complexity in the wines, which are made by the all-star team of Laurent Brechet and Philippe Cambie. The wines show Cambie’s trademark style, with big, opulent fruit and power to spare. This is one of the truly elite producers in all of the Southern Rhone and it’s always a treat to sell you these wines.
Featured this week at Subscriber Special pricing, Vaudieu ‘s charming 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape. A wine that is drinking beautifully today, offering layers of red and black fruit with characteristic floral and mineral notes, but also built to age gracefully for another decade. At less than $40 a bottle, this is a wine to stock up on.
Famille Brechet Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2017 750ML ($49.95) Was $41.90, Now $38
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Moving to the 2017s and starting with the base Châteauneuf Du Pape, it’s a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was brought up mostly in demi-muids. Revealing a ruby/purple hue as well as notes of black raspberries, kirsch, garrigue, incense, and loamy soil and earth, this beauty hits the palate with beautiful depth of fruit, a layered, rounded, sexy texture, no hard edges, remarkable purity, and just tons of charm. Drink it any time over the coming decade or more.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 91-92 points “Deep red. Highly perfumed red berry and floral aromas are complemented by suggestions of cracked pepper and smoky minerals. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering ripe raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. In a seamless, energetic style, displaying a smooth blend of richness and finesse and finishing gently sweet and impressively long, with even tannins and building spiciness.”
Also in stock now from Famille Bréchet’s Château de Vaudieu:
Famille Brechet Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G, Rhone 2017 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Amiral G. is, as always, all Grenache brought up all in demi-muids. It’s unquestionably the most opulent, sexy, and expansive in the lineup, with overflowing notes of kirsch and blackberry fruits, incense, dried garrigue, and spice, full body, and no hard edges. Its incredible opulence and decadence are delivered with no sensation of weight or heaviness. This magical, thrilling beauty needs to be tasted to be believed. It’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for 15+ years or more.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “Like the l’Avenue, the 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Amiral G is 100% Grenache aged in demi-muids. Unlike the l’Avenue, the Amiral G is more about opulence and power. It’s full-bodied, ripe and plush, with impressive layers of black cherries, stone fruit, licorice and chocolate spice cake. Concentrated and chewy on the finish, it has all the ingredients for greatness—and it should get there relatively quickly, then drink well for at least a decade.-JC”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95-96 points “Lurid ruby-red. Assertive red berry and cherry liqueur aromas are complemented by building Asian spice, incense and vanilla accents. Concentrated and fleshy in the mouth, offering alluringly sweet raspberry, cherry pie, cinnamon and star anise flavors and hints of bitter chocolate and cola. Becomes more energetic with air and finishes with fabulous, floral-tinged persistence and velvety tannins that fold smoothly and quickly into the wine’s sweet, clinging fruit.”
Famille Brechet Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G, Rhone 2016 1.5L ($299.95) $219 special
Jeb Dunnuck 99 points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G. is based all on Grenache and comes from a single plot of very old Grenache vines (all rolled stone soils) that was destemmed and brought up in demi-muids. Just screaming “Grenache!” at the top of its lungs with its sweet bouquet of black raspberries, candied violets, baking spices, and crushed rock-like minerality, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness and density, a weightless texture, no hard edges, and awesome length. It’s a sensational, borderline perfect wine that has everything you want from a bottle of wine. Give it a year or three, and it’s going to cruise for 15+.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “This exemplary estate, owned by Laurent Brechet, has been on a roll. The 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape Amiral G, 100% Grenache aged in demi-muids, is a full-bodied, lush wine jammed with complex notions of tree bark, cola, allspice, anise and plummy fruit. At 15.4% alcohol, there’s plenty of power, but the wine never seems warm or heavy, instead feeling rich and velvety on the palate and ending long and spicy. With just 5,000 bottles produced, it may be tough to find, but it will be worth the search.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 96 points “Lurid ruby. A highly complex bouquet evokes red and dark berry preserves, candied lavender, sandalwood and smoky minerals, with Asian spice and vanilla notes in the background. Sappy and alluringly sweet, displaying palate-staining raspberry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors and slow-building florality. Shows impressive power on the sappy, penetrating finish, where the lavender and spice notes come back emphatically.”
Famille Brechet Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue…, Rhone 2016 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Jeb Dunnuck 97+ points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue is all Grenache sourced from a single parcel near the estate and aged 18 months in demi-muids. This deeply colored beauty boasts a huge perfume of black raspberries, blackberries, dried flowers, bouquet garni, and sandy/loamy soil notes. With a powerful, concentrated, structured style, incredible purity of fruit, and tons of tannin on the finish, hide bottles for 3-5 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following decade or more.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape l’Avenue is entirely Grenache from the lieu-dit Vaudieu, aged in demi-muids. Loaded with black cherries, cedar and vanilla, it’s a full-bodied, plush sexpot of a wine. Velvety, intense, long and layered, this wine has it all. If only there were more than 350 cases of this elixir.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “Intense, with a gorgeous core of crushed plum, boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruit flavors, inlaid liberally with fruit cake, licorice snap and graphite notes. Fruit pumps through the finish while a graphite edge lends support and a black tea hint checks in. Best from 2020 through 2040. 75 cases imported.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95 points “Glistening ruby-red. Powerful red and blue fruit, floral pastille, exotic spice and incense aromas pick up a smoky mineral nuance as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and expansive in the mouth, offering spice- and smoke-inflected raspberry, boysenberry, lavender pastille and succulent herb flavors and a touch of candied licorice. Finishes seamless, sweet and impressively long, with an echo of juicy red fruit and delicate tannins that add discreet grip.”
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Rare Back Vintage Champagne from de Venoge
78 bottles in stock now:
De Venoge Louis d’Or Brut, Champagne 1996 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 1996 Louis d’Or Brut Millésimé is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir from Verzenay, Ambonnay, Mailly and Bouzy and 50% Chardonnay from Avize, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly. Fermented in stainless steel, with malolactic, and it was disgorged in March 2016 with a dosage of six grams per liter. This luxurious, golden colored vintage Champagne offers a beautifully complex, matured and vinous bouquet with lovely brioche, mushroom and yeasty flavors. The visual CO2 is gone quickly, but on the palate it gives this lean and steely yet enormously complex Millésime a tight structure and enormous length. It is tastes bone dry so that you can fully concentrate on the very complex and mineral character and the lovely austere finish. This is great a Champagne for purists, and the finish is enormous, reminding me of matured dry Rieslings from the good old Rheingau. Many of our readers may eventually ask for more roundness and charm here… But first: this is 1996. And second: this is Louis d’Or, and there is no Champagne like this.-SR”
De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millesime, Champagne 1996 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 19 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 96 points “This is really complex, old Champagne with puff-pastry, dried-apple, spice and salted-nut aromas and flavors. Full body. Ultra fine bubbles with an extremely fine and creamy mouth feel. Extreme edge to it. This spent 21 years on the lees. Disgorged in 2018. Every year they disgorge 3,000 bottles”
De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millesime, Champagne 2006 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points “The assemblage of the 2006 Louis XV Brut Millésimé is about the same as the 1995 and 1996—composed of 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, all from grand cru villages. The only difference is that the Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (10% of the assemblage) spent 12 months in oak barrels. Disgorged in January 2017 (dosage: six grams per liter), the 2006 has a golden color and opens with a deep, ripe, elegant and vinous bouquet with toasty and chalky lemon and fresh white fruit flavors. On the palate, this is an intense, round, fresh and complex Louis XV with great purity and finesse. The wine opens on the palate like a soufflé, coating the whole palate without any pressure or weight—gorgeous! This is a delicate and fresh yet well-structured and persistent Louis XV whose intense and long but weightless finish reveals lovely, almost juicy fruit concentration with perfectly integrated freshness and lasting minerality that seems to give additional structure. The 2006 shows a lot of Chardonnay features right now and drinks perfectly today; however, it can be kept under perfect conditions for decades. Just keep it in the box, because the bottle is white and nothing makes a Champagne age faster than exposure to daylight. (Tasted in November 2017 from Lot LL15067017BT.)-SR”
De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millesime, Champagne 2008 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, 22 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 95 points “This is really punchy and broad-shouldered with muscular structure and citrusy undertones. Full body. Lightly tannic and a fresh and vivid finish. This is the first vintage without malolactic fermentation ever. One for the cellar. Better in 2022.”
Wine Advocate 93+ points “The straw-yellow/white-golden colored 2008 Louis XV Brut Millésimé blends 50% Chardonnay (20 % from Avize, 15% from Oger and 15% from Mesnil) with 50% Pinot Noir (41.5% from Verzenay and 8.5% from Bouzy). Disgorged in January 2018 with a dosage of six grams per liter, the 2008 displays a clear, pure, fresh, chalky-tinged and vinous nose with lemon, white fruits, brioche, hazelnuts, white blossoms and some caramel notes. Pure, lean, fresh and elegant on the palate, with a lingering hazelnut flavor, this is a straight yet complex cuvée with grip and a long, well-structured and textured finish. This 2008 is still terribly fresh and should benefit from further bottle aging. For the moment, I am missing the mouth-filling generosity of the 2006 and 1995. Mind that this is the first vintage of de Venoge’s prestigious Louis XV where the base wines didn’t undergo malolactic fermentation! Total production: 10,326 bottles. Tasted October 2018.”
De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Extra Brut Rose Millesime, Champagne 2002 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points “Harmonious, with fine intensity, offering rich notes of spice cake, toasted almond, dried cherry, grilled plum and smoky mineral. Almost velvety in texture, with juicy acidity that brings you back for another sip. Delicious. Drink now through 2022. 54 cases made.”
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Anne-Sophie Dubois Beaujolais
Over the past decade, despite a wealth of great wines available, there has been one notable standout in the cru of Fleurie. Anne-Sophie Dubois, a Champenois native with her training in Volnay, is making some of the most perfumed and elegant wines off of her 20-acre hilltop vineyard. While she makes a ‘young vine’ semi-carbonic wine (Les Cocottes – delicious in its own right), her two wines of note are the Alchemiste and Les Labourons. The wines come from 40 and 60+ year old parcels, respectively. Alchemiste is fully destemmed fruit, macerated for approximately 3 weeks with native yeasts, then aged for 13 months in both cement tanks and some larger, oak casks. Les Labourons, formerly known as Clepsydre, marks the transition to fully organic (mostly biodynamic) practices in her vineyard. This wine is comprised of the best fruit from the oldest parcel of vines on the estate. The vinification is the same, though the wine is aged completely in neutral barrels rather than partially in tank. Anne-Sophie says that the wine shows more concentration and depth due to the age of the vines and the truly beautiful fruit that is available. While both will age nicely, the Labourons should be the wine you lay down for 10+ years.
As unabashed Anne-Sophie fans, we have been looking forward to the 2019 vintage with serious anticipation. Her wines, even in difficult years, yield perfumed, vibrant wines with substance and backbone. 2019 was a difficult spring with frosts after budbreak, but led to a hot and dry summer with a late rain that refreshed the fruit approximately 2 weeks before harvest. This resulted in lowering alcohol and acidity, and presents a wine that is pleasantly ripe and delicious, yet not overpowering. It will be a vintage that is terrific on the table and holds well in the cellar. The arrival is scheduled for spring; just in time to welcome back the sun. Secure it now to have some for the long haul, and a few to enjoy next summer.
In Stock Now:
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2018 750ML ($37.95) $33 special
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2018 1.5L ($79.95) $66 special, 2 magnums in stock now
Grapelive 94 points “The 2018 L’Alchimiste Fleurie by the hard working and talented Anne-Sophie Dubois is a gorgeous and textural pure Gamay with beautiful terroir driven elegance and nuance showing distilled lilacs, cinnamon spice and earthy tones behind a deep core of classic fruit with smooth and concentrated plum, wild strawberry and red currant flavors on the seamless and rounded medium bodied palate. This brilliant effort is every changing in the glass gaining detail and complexity with every sip, this dark ruby and purple Fleurie really turns on the charm with air, improving with an impressive satiny richness as well as adding some serious style along with touches of anise, cedar and sweet kirsch, finishing with expressive knowing smile, meaning it lingers with a confidence of a truly great wine! Dubois has really upped her game in recent vintages since I first started following her and this one takes her to the next level and puts her in the premier league of Cru Beaujolais with some of the regions iconic producers, this wine is right up there with Dutraive, Thevenet, Thivin, Foillard, Chanrion and Lapierre, which are a few of the legends of Gamay, putting her in some fabulous company quality wise! Anne-Sophie Dubois looks to be a longtime star and gift with Gamay is not in doubt, her 2018s are proof and I love this L’Alchemiste, I highly recommend getting in on it and allowing this young winemaker, this is really exciting times for Gamay lovers and Dubois has a studied collection of sublime wines from which to choose, including this one that has a profound sense of place and clarity of flavors. She went with 100% de-stemmed grapes, that came from her 40 year old vines, for this edition, and while Anne-Sophie does use whole-cluster and carbonic maceration in another bottling, went with classic winemaking here, this one benefits from her approach allowing the inner beauty to shine. The L’Alchemiste was aged for close to 15 months in a combination of cement and a range of different sized neutral French oak barrels and casks with the final blend being bottled unfined and unfiltered, it shows Dubois’ very gifted touch with beautiful transparency and purity.”
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Labourons, Beaujolais 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
VinopolNote: Les Labourons is the climat that all of the estate’s wines hail from. This new top cuvee represents one of the best wines that the Beaujolais rising star has made.
Pre-Arrivals ETA Spring 2021:
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2019 750ML ($37.95) $31.90 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2019 750ML ($219.95) $175 pre-arrival special
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2019 1.5L ($79.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2019 3L ($199.95) $179 pre-arrival special
Importer note “From southwest facing vineyards in Fleurie AOC. Soils are highly granitic. Dark berried fruits, tempered by mineral and black tea nuances. Seamless and very elegant.”
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Labourons, Beaujolais 2019 750ML ($39.95) $36 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Labourons, Beaujolais 2019 750ML ($219.95) $199 pre-arrival special
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Labourons, Beaujolais 2019 1.5L ($89.95) $79 pre-arrival special
Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Labourons, Beaujolais 2019 3L ($239.95) $199 pre-arrival special
Importer note “Formerly known as `Clepsydre`, now re-named and carrying the name of its Lieu Dit starting with the 2017 vintage. Whereas previously the wine was a selection of the oldest fruit, Anne-Sophie has decided to take the selection one step farther and make it a selection of the best fruit from the old vine parcel. Les Labourons is the name of the lieu dit in Fleurie. In 2017, after recieving her organic certification, she wanted to rename the wine and have a new label drawn to showcase the new chapter in her winemaking. Despite the label and name change, Anne Sophie’s approach to vinification is the same as vintages past. It is 100% destemmed and aged for around 13 months in 228L neutral oak barrels.”
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Castello di Camigliano Poderuccio Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2018 750ML ($21.95) $18 special
Case-12 Castello di Camigliano Poderuccio Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2018 750ML ($249.95) $189 special
James Suckling 90 points “Lots of blackberries and tar, together with black-olive character on the nose and palate. Full-bodied and structured. A little raw, but should come around nicely with bottle age. Drink from 2020.”
The best vintage ever for this wine according to Wine Spectator
Rocca di Frassinello ‘Le Sughere di Frassinello’ Maremma Toscana, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
VinopolNote: Such a wildly popular wine, we convinced our importer to send us more!
Wine Spectator 93 points “Wild rosemary, thyme and camphor aromas lead off, with concentrated flavors of blackberry and black currant. An iron edge sinks in as this unfolds to the long, staining finish. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2020 through 2032. 11,000 cases made, 5,500 cases imported.”
A Sangiovese-dominant Super Tuscan from a Valdarno di Sopra star
Petrolo Torrione Valdarno di Sopra, Tuscany 2014 750ML ($39.95) $21.90 special
Case-12 Petrolo Torrione Valdarno di Sopra, Tuscany 2014 750ML ($449.95) $236 special
James Suckling 92 points “A refined and silky rendition of this wine with pretty berry, citrus and light chocolate. Medium body. Chilled and delicious. Drink now.”
An insane value from a staff favorite producer
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso Etna, Sicily 2018 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
Wine & Spirits 92 points “Best Buy. Produced from a mix of young and old vines on Etna’s north slope, this wine unfolds with flavors of wild strawberry and blood orange accented by notes of crunchy herbs. High-toned and transparent, it gains depth with air, developing a dark current of smoke and tar that offers a superb introduction to Etna Rosso.”
Winery note “Made from very fine Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards (35 Hl. Per hectar), both young and old. The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation. The wine then continues its life in wood until bottled roughly one year after harvest. Even young it is a distinguished wine. Fresh, fragrant, beautifully slender and with a fine grip, it has a natural polish, a stage presence, as it were. And, in aging, as its weave gathers into rich complexity, it is a wine for gentlemen. It is an aristocratically liberal wine: enjoy it with whatever food you wish, as long as its properly cooked.”
A seamless Spanish stunner
Ferrer Bobet Vinyes Velles, Priorat DOCa 2015 750ML ($74.95) $36 special
Case-12 Ferrer Bobet Vinyes Velles, Priorat DOCa 2015 750ML ($699.95) $389 special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “The old vine 2015 Vinyes Velles checks in as a Carignan-dominated blend from vines just outside the village of Porrera that includes one-third Grenache, all of which spent over a year in French oak. It’s a bigger, riper, sexier wine than the Ferrer Bobet cuvée and boasts a deep purple color as well as rocking notes of black plums, black licorice, ground pepper, violets, and new leather. Ripe and full-bodied, with moderate acidity and terrific balance, it’s a seamless Priorat to enjoy over the coming 7-8 years or so.”
James Suckling 94 points “This really captures the freshness of the carignan grape with its bright cherry character. Medium-to full-bodied with spice from the grenache and excellent vitality on the long, crisp finish. Drink or hold.”
Tenuta Fanti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
James Suckling 95 points “There’s a beautiful interplay between bright, primary florals, such as rose petals and tulips and dust, hay bale and dried raspberries. The palate suggests a ripe, powerful persona with chewy, juicy tannins and a fine line of pretty acidity. Best ever. Drink in 2022.”
Vajra consistently over-delivers, especially in classic vintages like 2016
G.D. Vajra ‘Coste di Rose’, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Wine Spectator 95 points “Dusty cherry, black currant, eucalyptus and hay aromas and flavors highlight this energetic red. There is purity to the beam of fruit, and while the structure is muscular, the lasting impression is of sweet fruit. Best from 2023 through 2045.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2016 Barolo Coste di Rose is plump, juicy and forward – all qualities that make it one of the more approachable wines in the Vajra range. Plump dark cherry, plum, licorice, spice and menthol all flesh out in a racy, juicy Barolo that will drink well right out of the gate. Plush fruit and silky tannins add to the wine’s voluptuous feel and early accessibility. This is very good, but it is not particularly complex.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “Boasting a lithe, mid-weight style and a very silky finish, the G.D. Vajra 2016 Barolo Coste di Rose is fragrant, floral and delicate. The bouquet here is almost all wild rose, violet and honeysuckle or jasmine. The fruity component of the wine is fine and light with cassis, white cherry and cranberry. Fruit comes from a 1.5-hectare parcel inside the Coste di Rose cru with a high percentage of well-draining sandy soils that contribute to the wine’s graceful textural embroidery. There is a hint of cherry or raspberry sweetness on the finish. A mere 4,800 bottles are hitting the market now. This is the second vintage produced.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Red berry, rose, dark spice and menthol form the nose while the graceful palate offers juicy Marasca cherry, strawberry compote and licorice. Bright acidity and polished tannins provide support and impart finesse. Drink through 2031. – Kerin O’Keefe”
James Suckling 95 points “This has some very attractive rose perfume and anise spice with raspberry, redcurrant and red-cherry aromas. Blueberry pastry, too. So perfumed. The palate has very fine, almost crystalline tannins and such intense, juicy and vivaciously delivered flavors of essence-like red fruit. So precise. Drinkable now, but with potential for long-term cellaring.”
A celebrated wine from a classic Oregon producer
Cristom ‘Marjorie Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2017 750ML ($79.95) $66 special
Case-6 Cristom ‘Marjorie Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2017 750ML ($479.95) $376 special
Cristom ‘Marjorie Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2017 375ML ($39.95) $33 special, 3 half bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds 95 points “Translucent red. A wild, highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red fruits, exotic spices and candied flowers, with smoky mineral and incense notes that acquire strength as this youthful wine gains its footing. Stains the palate with vibrant raspberry, bitter cherry, star anise and rose pastille flavors that show a compelling blend of depth and litheness. Fine-grained tannins build slowly on a strikingly long, finely etched finish that features baking spice, floral and subtle earth notes.”
James Suckling 95 points “An earthy thread here with more savory, herbal and gently spicy notes, as well as graphite. Latent red cherries, too. The palate has a very sleek and succulent feel with evenly cast, sturdy tannins that harness great length and depth. Powerful yet measured and all about the earth. Try from 2023.”
Erin Brooks – Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2017 Pinot Noir Marjorie Vineyard was made with 51% whole clusters and aged 18 months in 75% new French oak. Medium ruby, it has a very pretty nose: nuances of crushed stone, Campari, earth and blood orange mingle over a core of red and black cherries, rhubarb and cranberry. The medium-bodied palate has lovely, nuanced, amaro-laced flavor layers with a softly chalky frame and seamless freshness, finishing long and perfumed. 384 cases produced.”
2017 Cheval des Andes
As for Terrazas De Los Andes, it would be on the short list for grand cru status if Argentina ever considered implementing their own classification system. A pioneer of high elevation viticulture, Terrazas De Los Andes was one of the first producers to demonstrate Argentina’s potential for cool-climate winemaking. Hailing from a country best known for high alcohol, bombastic wines, Cheval des Andes zigged while others zagged. Today their wines are considered some of the continent’s most elegance, complex and age-worthy.
Always one of the South America’s most sought after wines, the 2017 Cheval des Andes is poised to become the most collectable vintage ever. In awarding the wine a perfect 100-point score, James Suckling didn’t mince words: “This is the greatest Cheval des Andes ever.”
Pre-Arrival ETA January 2021:
Terrazas de Los Andes ‘Cheval des Andes’, Mendoza 2017 750ML ($99.95) $89 pre-arrival special
James Suckling 100 points “This is the greatest Cheval des Andes ever. The integration of fruit, tannins and acidity is fantastic. Full-bodied, tight and solid with beautiful depth and integrity. Extremely long and exciting. Complex and compelling. Available in September 2020. Better after 2024.”
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 97+ points “In the last few years, a handful of wines from Chile and Argentina—often French owned—have been released in September through the Place de Bordeaux, the network of négociants that sell most of the Bordeaux wines and some of the leading wines from other regions. The 2017 Cheval des Andes is one such wine. 2017 saw an early harvest, but they started picking on the 6th of March and continued until the 10th of April, more or less normal dates, early but not so much. The varietal break down this vintage comes to 62% Malbec and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wine is slightly riper and higher in alcohol than 2016 (this 2017 is 14.2% alcohol). The different plots fermented separately with selected yeasts, and the élevage lasted for 15 months and was in 50/50 new and second use barrels, 90% of them French and the rest made with wood from Eastern Europe. They used 45% Bordeaux barrels, 45% 400-liter barrels and, for the first time, a 2,500-liter oak foudre. This is clearly the darkest of the trio of vintages I tasted together here—2015, 2016 and 2017—but all three have the elegant and powerful profile, the luxurious and creamy character found in the best Bordeaux wines in the last few years, wines of power with precision, concentration, energy and finesse. This seems to combine the clout of the 2015 and the freshness of the 2016 and feels something in between those two vintages. Their work in the vineyard toward the maturity of the tannins meant the challenge in 2017 was to not let the grapes ripen too fast and too early. The work is different for Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, to get round tannins in Cabernet and get some tension in Malbec, the contrary of the normal tendency of the varieties. 2017 has less ripeness than the 2015 but more density than the 2016. The texture is velvety, precise and harmonious. This year, they introduced a larger foudre for 10% of the wine, with the aim to reach 20%, so that volume is increasing every year. I think this is showing more precision, and in a more challenging year, they managed to keep the quality on par with 2016. They have changed the label this year, to a cleaner and more elegant label that also reflects the direction the wine is going in. 81,500 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2019.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 95 points “The seventeenth vintage of Cheval des Andes, a wine that has undergone a model transformation. I recently tried the 2007, and it’s fascinating to trace the different stages of its evolution, all of which say something about the contemporary history of Argentine wine. To sum up, it started out with a French love of concentration and ripeness and ended up with an equally French love of equilibrium and local terroir. The 2017 is a new beginning in itself. A blend of Malbec with 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, it presents a bold nose of fresh fruit such as sweet and sour cherry with fleshy aromas and a touch of white pepper over a bold, woody backdrop. A fluid wine, slightly taut on the palate with medium structure, a delicate feel and active tannins well integrated into the terse texture, overall it is nuanced and full of flavor. Possesses a balance that respects the concentration of the vintage without ever letting it get out of hand. An Argentine wine made with more than a nod to French expertise.”
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