Mid-Week Vinopolpick 1-7-2020

In Today’s Newsletter:

Evening Land Subscriber Special

A Fantastic New Arrival from Abruzzo

New Wines from Mario Vanucci

Trending Wines

Brovia’s Impressive, Still Undervalued, Barolo

Collector’s Corner

2005 Defaix Chablis Returns


Evening Land Subscriber Special

We’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Evening Land wines here at Vinopolis—though not out of a lack of love for the wines themselves.  No, while we’ve always admired and enjoyed the wines Evening Land has made, the winery has occasionally taken exception to our low prices on their wines. Luckily for us and you, the new vintage of these beauties is back and we’re offering you an unlisted Subscriber Special on these wines while they’re pre-arrival.

Evening Lands was founded by an all-star team, headlined by Dominique Lafon, who secured a long term lease on the fabled Seven Springs vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills.  Running it as an estate property, Evening Lands has elevated the historic site, modernizing some of the viticulture and replanting diseased blocks.

The current team, led by Sashi Moorman and Raj Parr, has taken the label and the vineyard to new heights, with the wines displaying previously unseen levels of fineness and elegance.  We’re offering their base wines, the 100% Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, at some of the best prices on the West Coast.  These arrive Friday and are very much worth paying attention to if you love Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay.

Subscriber Special: 10% Off the Displayed Price on All Evening Land Wines
Subscriber-Special pricing will not display online.
We will manually adjust prices before finalizing your order.
Evening Land Subscriber Special valid until 10AM Friday, January 10th

Arriving Friday:

Evening Land ‘Seven Springs Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Eola-Amity Hills 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 Displayed Price, $29.70 Subscriber Special
Winery Note
“In a world dominated by Pinot Noir, the Chardonnays of Evening Land have quietly earned a loyal following. The bright, clean, and lively Seven Springs Chardonnay grows in the rockier areas of the vineyard’s mid-slope, offering a precise wine of clarity and finesse.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Evening Land ‘Seven Springs Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 Displayed Price, $29.70 Subscriber Special
Winery Note
“Of all our bottlings, the Seven Springs Pinot Noir tells the story of our vineyard. Built around a core of own-rooted, Pommard and Wädenswil vines planted in 1984, this bottling is a hearkens back Oregon’s winegrowing infancy, when savoriness, smokiness, and nuance brought curious and adventurous Burgundy lovers to our region in droves.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Evening Land ‘Seven Springs Vineyard’ Gamay Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 Displayed Price, $29.70 Subscriber Special
Winery Note
“We’re proud to farm some of the oldest Gamay vines in North America. The combination of our volcanic soils and the Gamay grape matched with a traditional Beaujolaise approach in the cellar make this wine our most drinkable bottling from the entire vineyard.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Subscriber Special: 10% Off the Displayed Price on All Evening Land Wines
Subscriber-Special pricing will not display online.
We will manually adjust prices before finalizing your order.
Evening Land Subscriber Special valid until 10AM Friday, January 10th

A Fantastic New Arrival
There are very few wines that are in the same class as Valle Reale’s 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  Only bottlings from legendary producers like Valentini (2012 – 94+ Vinous, $300+) or Emidio Pepe (2016 – 94 Vinous, $80+) have scored as highly as the 94 points that Ian d’Agata awarded to Valle Reale’s most recent release.  The big difference between those two and Valle Reale? Price. Valle Reale’s 94 point bottling costs just $14, or $12.42 by the case.

That’s an incredible savings compared to the big names of Abruzzo and a testament to the incredible work that Valle Reale is doing to vault themselves into the top tier of producers in their region.  Located in a nature preserve, their young estate (founded 2000) has been making waves for over-delivering on the quality front.  We have their 94 point Montepulciano arriving on Tuesday and this looks to be a (very) early contender for our wine of 2020.  Stock up while we can get it.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 750ML ($17.95) $14 special
Case-12 Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 750ML ($179.95) $149 special (that’s only $12.42/bottle—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 94 points
“Bright red. Red cherry and flowers on the perfumed nose; much more fragrant than the 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Then fresh and juicy, with bright red fruit repeating in the mouth. Finishes long and savory, showcasing notable purity. Outstanding cool-climate Montepulciano of noteworthy refinement. Very, very well done; I’m not sure readers fully realize just how hard it is to obtain a result of this level in a cold-weather environment such as that of Popoli. This success speaks loudly of the capability and talent of owner Leonardo Pinzolo and his Valle Reale technical team.”



New Wines from Mario Vanucci

“If there is one estate that embodies the potential of Carmignano, Piaggia just might be it.” – Antonio Galloni

What is Carmingano? One of the greatest regions in Tuscany that no one’s ever heard of. This classic appellation was growing international varieties such as Cab Sauv way back before the signing of the Declaration of Independence—basically making their wines the original Super Tuscans. In modern times, it was lumped into the Chianti region for decades until local wine-makers successfully petitioned the government to create a separate DOC. In 1990, it was elevated to DOCG. The wines are a minimum of 50% Sangiovese, with Canaiolo Nero, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc allowed, too.

There’s no better producer than Piaggia, founded by the legendary Mauro Vannucci. The estate  produces intense, rich reds with an Italian soul and international class and style.  They have been one of our most popular Tuscan wineries for good reason and we’re excited to share the new releases with you this week!

Arriving Friday:

Piaggia Il Sasso Carmignano, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($37.95) $29 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 93 points
“Dedicated to the estate’s paternal figure Mauro Vannucci, the 2016 Carmignano Il Sasso (with 40,000 bottles produced) is a compelling blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. This vintage delivers ample power, yet the wine remains smooth and elegant from a tactile point of view. Sangiovese’s identity emerges with aromas of wild berry, tilled earth and rose hip. The two international grapes serve to shape the firmness and structure of the mouthfeel. This wine is fermented in oak and later aged in medium-toast neutral barrique for 12 months.-ML”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2016 Carmignano Il Sasso is a veritable explosion of aromas, flavors and textures. A rush of dark red and purplish berry fruit makes a strong opening statement. The interplay of rich fruit, expressive aromatics and brightness makes for a wonderfully complete, vibrant Carmignano that will be impossible to resist upon release. The 2016 is a wine of pure and total pleasure.”

Piaggia Poggio de Colli Cabernet Franc Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($59.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points
“The 2015 Cabernet Franc Poggio de’ Colli is another compelling wine from Piaggia. Silky, aromatically precise and wonderfully nuanced, the 2015 has it all. Lavender, blueberry jam and spice are some of the many notes that develop with time in the glass. This powerful, resonant Franc from Piaggia is deeply satisfying from the very first taste.”

Piaggia Carmignano Riserva, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Importer Note
” The Carmignano Riserva is the flagship wine of Piaggia, first made by Mauro Vannucci in 1991. All of the grapes are from the family’s 50 year old vines in 2.5 hectares in the Piaggia cru near Pogetto, over clay and galestro soils on a south-west facing exposure at 250 meters above sea level. Made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc (the French varieties were propagated from cuttings made at Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Pauillac). Fermentation on the skins lasts up to 4 weeks with indigenous yeasts. Aging occurs in French oak (no more than 10% new) for 24 months. The wine is racked occasionally during aging but is otherwise unfined and unfiltered prior to bottling. The wine rests six months in bottle before release. Approximately 2500 cases produced annually.”
Winery Note ” Carmignano Riserva Piaggia, the winery’s standard-bearer, is the result of rigorous selection in an old vineyard near Poggetto, where the grapes make high quality wines that enhance the characteristics of the appellation to the full. The Riserva Piaggia is our modern interpretation of Carmignano, a wine that is made giving special attention to the finest detail: nothing is left to chance, either in the vineyard or in the cellar, because we believe our grapes deserve particular care and attention and because we want to offer the consumer a thrill that tells of the beauty of our vineyards and the aromas of our land. The Piaggia Riserva is a wine that can be aged for many years while maintaining its organoleptic qualities intact and can liven up the tables of the most demanding consumers all over the world.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!


Trending Wines
Big, bold Dolcetto from two cru Barolo vineyards.  
G.D. Vajra Coste & Fossati Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“The 2017 Dolcetto d’Alba Coste & Fossati is a wine of extraordinary and arresting beauty. Intense and yet also remarkably delineated, the Coste & Fossati is a terrific example of the heights Dolcetto can reach in skilled hands. Readers will find a gorgeous, beautifully layered wine endowed with tremendous energy and focus. Dark plum, graphite, smoke, menthol and licorice all build in this super-expressive and nuanced wine from Vajra. I loved it.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
This is an excellent value Northern Rhone Syrah from an excellent vintage.
Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph, Rhone 2017 750ML ($37.95) $29 special
Case-12 Saint Cosme Saint-Joseph, Rhone 2017 750ML ($419.95) $299 special (that’s only $24.92/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points
“A step up, the 2017 Saint Joseph offers another level of class and purity. Beautiful blackberry, black raspberries, cured meats, and pepper notes give way to a medium to full-bodied Saint Joseph that has subtle oak, a seamless texture, and fine tannins. It’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Kern is always one of our favorite Lauer bottling—this drinks like a Kabinett with extra intensity.
Peter Lauer ‘Kern’ Ayler Kupp Fass 9 Riesling, Mosel2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling .com 94 points
“Tropical and creamy, but it also shows a very firm core — Kern means core in German. This is another stunningly original wine from Peter Lauer. A lot of power at the finish. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Kern Fass 9 comes from old vines in a prime south-west-facing part of the original Ayler Kupp hill situated well into the side valley and was fermented down to almost fruity levels (40 g/l of residual sugar). It offers a delicately vibrant nose of candied grapefruit, cassis, lemon zest, ginger and fine herbs. The wine is beautifully focused and just fruity-styled on the palate and leaves a vibrant feel of zesty acidity and bitter lemon in the long and delicately tart finish. This is a beautiful expression of fully off-dry tasting Riesling in the making! 2022-2032.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
2015 has been an standout year for mid-tier Rioja like this.  Absolutely delicious.
Marques de Murrieta Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2015 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special
Case-12 Marques de Murrieta Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2015 750ML ($299.95) $235 special (that’s only $19.58/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 93 points
“The red blend 2015 Rioja Reserva is 80% Tempranillo with 12% Graciano, 6% Mazuelo and 2% Garnacha, a little more Graciano and Mazuelo, something logical in ripe and warm years like 2015. It’s produced with grapes from a diversity of the 30 different plots within the estate, to represent the character of if. It fermented in stainless steel and matured in American oak barrels for 18 months. It’s spicy and somewhat balsamic, with some dusty tannins. It’s a ripe and powerful vintage that only suffers next to the 2016 I tasted next to it when there’s a jump in precision and finesse.-LG”

Varner turns out excellent values in Chard every year, but this is better than usual.
Varner El Camino Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special
Case-12 Varner El Camino Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2016 750ML ($299.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 92 points
“Bob and Jim Varner’s 2016 Chardonnay is terrific. Orchard fruit, white flowers, mint, tangerine oil and light tropical overtones infuse the 2016 with notable character. Los Alamos Chardonnays tend to be a bit more lifted, but there is plenty of depth here. Most of the wine was aged in large foudre, which further helps in retaining energy.”
Polaner Selections note “The wine was fermented 100% in stainless steel then aged in a combination of new Francois Freres puncheons (26%) for 6 months and the remainder (74%) in stainless steel on the lees with no malolactic fermentation.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Sardinia is home to some of the best values in big, profound red wine.
Ferruccio Deiana Sileno Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, Sardinia 2014 750ML ($31.95) $27 special
Case-6 Ferruccio Deiana Sileno Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, Sardinia 2014 750ML ($179.95) $146 special (that’s only $24.33/bottle!)
Decanter 97 points
“A lovely juicy fresh nose of sour cherry and red plum, the palate has a really plush feel with layers of rich concentrated red and black fruit, with herbal savoury hints and lovely gentle tannin.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
It’s always rosé season, especially for great values like this.
Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cote du Rhone Rose, Rhone 2018 750ML ($17.95) $14 special
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 90 points
“Light vivid orange. Deeply perfumed raspberry, tangerine and candied rose scents are accompanied by a slowly building hint of succulent herbs. Broad and fleshy on the palate, offering bitter cherry and red berry preserve flavors and a refreshingly spicy touch of white pepper. Finishes velvety and long, displaying resonating florality and an energizing jolt of dusty minerals.”
VinopolNote: Spicy and citrusy, like a squeeze of lemon and spicy rub on your grilled fish & chicken. 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 7% Mourvèdre, 3% Counoise from 25 year old vines. Biodynamic.

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Brovia’s Impressive, Still Undervalued, Barolo
Despite being in the top echelons of Barolo, prices for Brovia’s wines have yet to seriously escalate. They stand with any producer’s collection of Baroli and yet are priced below many ‘name’ producers that are making wines of less character and interest.  For traditionally made Barolo, these are some of the best wines you can buy (at any price, really, but especially for the price).

If you’re new to Brovia, here’s the scoop:  Wonderful, expressive wines made and farmed in traditional methods.   They hit all the right notes in terms of thoughtful vineyard management (organic without certification, careful pruning, and hand harvesting) and are unapologetically classic in their winemaking (long and slow fermentation and long aging in large barrels and, subsequently, in bottle).

Brovia has an assortment of excellent vineyard holdings that are mostly in Serralunga.  Rocche and Villero are obviously top vineyards that are well known, but the other gem in the portfolio is the Brea “Ca’Mia” which is a wine that stands out in any lineup for its combination of Serralunga power and elegance.

We try and carry as many of their wines as we can and the 2015 Barolos are notable successes.  Brovia’s normal style is lean and coiled, so the extra warmth of the vintage pushed the wines to be a little grander than usual.  These are all wines that are shaping up to be epics and are also wines that you’ll look back on and wish you had bought more of (especially the way Brovia’s star/pricing is rising).

Just Arrived In Stock Now:

Brovia Rocche di Castiglione, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Brovia Rocche di Castiglione, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($269.95) $219 special
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 95 points
“The Brovia 2015 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione (the last wine I tasted in this series of cru expressions) opens to the darkest color of this series, with a firm core of black fruit. This wine is silky and satiny in terms of texture—one of the trademarks of this sandy-soil cru in Castiglione Falletto—but don’t underestimate that structural firmness that holds it tightly together. It would take nicely to veal involtini with asparagus.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “Brovia’s flagship 2015 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione is a decidedly full-bodied wine. The richness of this warm vintage comes through loud and clear in an ample, resonant Barolo endowed with serious textural depth. Lifted floral and spice notes add an attractive upper register as the 2015 starts to open up in the glass. Even so, the Rocche stands out for its volume and sheer size, both of which are unusual for this Castiglione Falletto site, where the wines tend to be more lithe. The Rocche appears to be the Barolo most shaped by the growing season in this range.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $104
Brovia Brea ‘Vigna Ca’ Mia’, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($99.95) $88 special
Brovia Brea ‘Vigna Ca’ Mia’, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($249.95) $199 special
Antonio Galloni 94+ points
“The 2015 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia captures all the best the vintage has to offer. Black cherry, plum, espresso, sage, menthol, licorice and leather are all kicked up a few notches in a decidedly dark, strapping Barolo that screams with Serralunga character. Exotic, dark and totally alluring, the 2015 has a very bright future, but readers should be prepared to be patient, as the tannins clearly need time to soften.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 93 points “The Brovia 2015 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia offers good balance and an authentic representation of the vintage. You can sense some of the heat of the growing season here, thanks to the wine’s open and accessible persona; it enters the palate with softness and elegance. This was the first of the single-vineyard wines from Brovia released this year that I tasted in a flight meant to increase in intensity.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $104
Brovia Garblet Sue Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2015 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Brovia Garblet Sue Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2015 1.5L ($219.95) $189 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“The 2015 Barolo Garblèt Sue’ is dense and powerful in the glass. A rush of black cherry, plum, lavender, iron and sage literally burst from the glass. Ample, full-bodied and intense, the Garblèt Sue’ is another stellar wine in this range. The typically incisive Garblèt Sue’ tannins are nearly buried by the sheer richness of the fruit. Today, the Garblèt Sue’ is distinguished by its wild, feral profile and huge core of fruit. In this vintage, the Garblèt is the overachiever in the range relative to how it shows in most vintages.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 94 points “Showing some immediate softness, the 2015 Barolo Garblèt Sue’ is beautifully approachable and generously accommodating, even at this early stage in the wine’s drinking window. Bring it out with a selection of goat cheeses. It’s interesting to note that, at 40 years old, the vines of this cru in Castiglione Falletto actually rank as some of the youngest held by the Brovia estate, founded in 1863, before the unification of Italy.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today for the magnum!
Brovia Villero, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($99.95) $88 special
Brovia Villero, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($249.95) $199 special
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2015 Barolo Villero offers richness and darkness with fruit from Castiglione Falletto, and it’s one of the more intense wines I tasted within this selection. The Villero is a balanced and polished Barolo that opens to nicely integrated fruit and spice tones, expertly interwoven and united. The wine has a beautiful entry to the palate. Indeed, this pretty wine presented a united front, with seamless and graceful integration.”
Antonio Galloni 93+ points “The 2015 Barolo Villero is a very pretty, mid-weight wine. Silky tannins and beautifully expressive aromatics give the Villero considerable finesse. On the palate, though, the 2015 is far less expressive. That is not entirely surprising, as the Villero often needs a few years to truly blossom. Sweet floral and spice notes start to open with time in the glass, but the Villero is not an especially forthcoming 2015 Barolo.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today for the magnum!
Brovia Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Importer Note
“Always a stunning value and a perfect encapsulation of the Brovia house style, their Barolo “normale” is comprised 60% of a portion of their holdings in Brea (the oldest and best-exposed vines are bottled separately as “Ca’Mia”—see below) and 40% of the younger vines of their three crus in Castiglione Falletto. One feels both the spicy, boisterous generosity of Serralunga d’Alba and the mineral thrust of Castiglione Falletto in this wine, and the 2015 is a particularly layered, dynamic version, offering excellent concentration but relative accessibility at this early stage.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $56
Brovia Sori del Drago Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($35.95) $31.90 special
Importer note
“This Barbera is produced from grapes harvested in the “Garblet” vineyard (also known as “Fiasco”) of Castiglione Falletto from a 0.8 hectare plot on a south-southeast facing slope at 250 meters altitude. The major part of the vineyard was planted in 1970 with a portion being replanted in 1993. The “Sori del Drago” is fermented at 28 degrees Celsius for slightly more than a week. The wine is then racked into stainless steel tank and is aged for 15 to 18 months before being bottled (unfiltered). Approximately 4500 bottles are produced annually with 2400 allocated to us for the US market.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
We offer 50+ Barolos in stock now – shop the complete list on our web store!

Collector’s Corner

Bernstein keeps threatening to become the next DRC, but right now his wines are still obtainable.
Olivier Bernstein Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2016 750ML ($869.95) $779 special
Wine Spectator 97 points
“($865) Expressive, even flamboyant, this red features red and black cherry, sandalwood, stony mineral, earth and spice flavors. Larger than life, with a boisterous personality, yet there’s no denying the intensity and complexity. Shows superb structure and length. Best from 2023 through 2046. From France.”-B.S.
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 93-96 points “(Bernstein works with two strips of vines that extend from the bottom to the top of the cru on the Chambolle side, thus giving him both red and white soil influences): Healthy dark red with ruby suggestions. Reticent, pure aromas of musky raspberry, spices and rocky minerality, lifted by a floral topnote. Boasts terrific precision and inner-mouth mineral grip but this is youthfully imploded today and less accessible than the Clos de la Roche, with a touch of peppery stems contributing to the impression of tension. The very long, building finish stimulates the salivary glands, leaving behind notes of black and white pepper in the empty glass. This wine, too, should be long-lived. Bernstein vinified in 2016 with an average of 50% whole clusters but this one was more like two-thirds.”

Gaja is always a welcome presence in the cellar or at the table—the ’11’s are delicious, as well.
Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Langhe-Barbaresco, Piedmont 2011 750ML ($499.95) $399 special
Antonio Galloni 97+ points
“The 2011 Sorì San Lorenzo boasts massive depth, intensity and power. Black fruit, smoke, tar, licorice, savory herbs and leather are some of the many notes that emerge from the glass. Regardless of the year, the personality of Sorì San Lorenzo always comes through, which is why this is one of the great sites in Barbaresco, Piedmont and Italy. In 2011 the contours are a bit softer, which gives the wine a level of accessibility that is quite rare in Sorì San Lorenzos when the wines are young. Why is Sorì San Lorenzo one of the world’s most profound vineyards? Because its personality simply can’t be denied.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “The exciting 2011 Sori San Lorenzo is a wine of enormous beauty and grace. Gaia Gaja classifies her three single vineyard Langhe Nebbiolo wines as follows: Costa Russi is “flowers;” Sori Tildin is “fruit;” and San Lorenzo is “plant” (with more structure and a more compact feel). San Lorenzo does indeed boast a strong mineral component of pencil shavings and crushed granite, followed by red cherry and soft spice. The wine’s tannins start off harder than the other wines, but soften with time. Drink: 2018-2040.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
This is a pretty incredible price for Gaja’s flagship Barolo.
Gaja Sperss Langhe – Barolo, Piedmont 2014 750ML ($319.95) $219 special
James Suckling 95 points
“More forward and in a more earthly realm than the dizzying heights of the Conteisa this vintage, but it’s so endearing and immediately delights. The aromas range from elderberries and black cherries to brambleberries and Chinese spices. Full-bodied and structured with powerful tannins that encase bright and forthright blue fruit, which is polished over by a sheen of glimmering acidity. Long finish. Delicious now, but better in 2022.”
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Underbrush, tobacco, toasted hazelnut, menthol and grilled herb aromas slowly take shape on this focused red. On the structured elegant palate, taut refined tannins and fresh acidity provide an ageworthy framework for raspberry compote, juicy Marasca cherry, orange zest, white pepper and star anise. It already has layers of depth and loads of finesse, but hold for even more complexity. Drink 2022–2030.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “This is a slightly more subdued vintage of this legendary wine, albeit just as sophisticated as past editions. The 2014 Barolo Sperss opens to gorgeous aromas of dark fruit, wet earth and white truffle. The vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba produced much less fruit than average and suffered from bouts of downy mildew during the rainy seasons. But Serralunga d’Alba fruit is also harvested late, and that extra time was important for achieving grape ripeness targets. The wine presents depth and complexity within the context of a thinner vintage. Having said that, the bouquet is spectacular.”
Decanter 94 points “Sperss comes from two crus in Serralunga, and like Gaja’s Barbarescos it’s aged in a combination of barriques and large barrels. As so often is the case, it’s a wine that combines power and finesse. It has a subdued cherry nose with a touch of oak, leading to a palate which is rich, powerful and tannic, but not too assertive. It’s well balanced and fleshy, with lots of velvety texture and grain, and there’s still an underlying freshness and finesse. Very long finish.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average listed price is $292
This spent 84 years in barrel. It’s an incredible bottle for so many reasons—taste first among them.
Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Convento Seleccion, Montilla-Moriles 1931 750ML ($399.95) $279 special
Wine Advocate 98 points
“If someone told you they kept a wine for 84 years in barrel before bottling, you’d think they are nuts, right? Well, that’s what the folks at Toro Albalá in Aguilar de la Frontera – in the province of Cordoba, part of the Montilla Moriles appellation – did with their 1931 Don PX Convento Selección. This is part of what they call ‘vinos olvidados,’ which means ‘forgotten wines.’ The border is amber, with green tints that denote very old age. Such old age provides an array of unusual aromas and flavors, including iodine and salt that compensate the sweetness (403 grams) and even the alcohol (18%). It’s terribly balsamic, with notes of dry herbs and spices, cigar ash, carob beans (algarrobas), incense and noble woods. The palate is very, very sweet and concentrated, unctuous, dense, with a chewy texture. This goes beyond a glass of wine, a drop of it is like having a piece of cake. I don’t think this reaches the complexity and depth of the 1946, which remains the benchmark for these old sweet PX, but it’s truly terrific!… bottles were filled in June 2015.”

Schrader is one of the hardest wines for us to acquire and for good reason: it’s at the top of the Napa food chain.
Schrader Cellars RBS To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 ($419.95) $399 special
Jeb Dunnuck 97-100 points
“One of the more opulent, sexy wines in the lineup, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard RBS boasts a deep purple color and a huge, sweet nose of blue fruits, white flowers, cassis, and spice. This full-bodied 2016 has incredible purity of fruit, a rich, layered texture, no sense of weight or heaviness, and sweet tannin. It’s going to flirt with perfection on release and cruise for 20+ years.”
Wine Advocate 97+ points “Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon RBS gives beautiful scents of lilacs and dried lavender over wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries, blackberry pie and eucalyptus with a touch of pencil shavings. Full-bodied and built like a brick house, it has a solid frame of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness to lift the densely packed, muscular fruit, finishing very long.”

Only four bottles available of the peak of Dujac’s lineup.
Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2016 750ML ($699.95) $579 special
Jasper Morris, MW 95-97 points
“A satisfactory yield approaching 45 hl/ha. Medium deep purple. Refined, reserved and really classy. Do not expect an explosion from Clos de la Roche but do expect something to make a long term classic. The balance on the palate is exquisite and subtly nuanced, as always it is a drier style but the fruit is infused throughout. Exceptional persistence. Magical. (Jan 2018)”
John Gilman 95 points “The 2016 Clos de la Roche from the Seysses family was really singing at the time of my visit. The bouquet jumps from the glass in a refined blend of red plums, cherries, gamebird, a touch of fresh nutmeg, superb soil tones and a deft base of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and very elegant out of the blocks this year, with a sappy core of fruit, outstanding backend soil signature, ripe, suave tannins and a long, complex and tangy finish. I love the balance and breed this exudes this year. 2030-2075. (Nov/Dec 2017)”


2005 Defaix Chablis Returns
Daniel-Etienne Defaix releases Chablis when he believes the wines are ready. This can mean 10+ years after harvest, in the case of the 2005’s.  We offered these earlier this year and they sold like crazy—which makes sense given their age and prices.  We’ve been able to secure a second round of these excellent bottles, arriving later this month.

They’re not really ex-cellar or library release, but represent the current vintage on offer (and imported by Rosenthal, so you know it’s good).  After spending 11 years in tank, these wines were bottled in 2016 and then only released earlier this year, when Defaix thought it appropriate.  These are magnificent bottlings that have just reached their peak maturity window. What could you possibly expect to pay for such an experience? At Vinopolis – under $50/bottle!

The quantities of each wine are smaller this time, though.  As you might guess, nearly fifteen year old Chablis doesn’t grow on trees, so if you want to restock (or you missed out earlier), time is not your friend. Exactly the opposite of the wines themselves.

“These are textural, complex wines that evoke the white Burgundies of yesteryear, and they may confuse consumers habituated to the tart, brittle, processed wines that are often passed off as expressions of region’s “terroir.” Their potential to develop in bottle and their capacity to pair with a thrilling variety of foods, however, make them fascinating, at least to this writer. Much of the production is sold to France’s best restaurants, but what reaches the export market is well worth seeking out.” – William Kelley, Wine Advocate

Re-Arriving ETA January:

Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Vaillon, Chablis Premier Cru 2005 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
William Kelley – Wine Advocate 92 points
“The 2005 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon is drinking beautifully, wafting from the glass with a pretty bouquet of honey, buttered citrus and confit lemon. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and bright, with a generous, textural attack, vibrant acids and a charming, open-knit profile that belies its evident capacity to age. It will be well worth seeking out when it’s released.”
Importer Note “The astute reader will notice the singular “Vaillon” instead of the more commonplace “Les Vaillons” on Defaix’s label. The boundaries of this vineyard were extended in 1976 to take advantage of its popularity in the market, but the Defaix family owns a prime parcel of old vines (45 years of age) in the original cru—the Vaillon. The steep 28-degree gradient and iron-rich soils of this southeast-facing site render a wine of spicy richness, and Danny’s 2005 is a real powerhouse. Showing both remarkable concentration and excellent acidity, this wine has a luscious quality that contrasts gently with the more chiseled crus below. At thirteen years old, it still feels downright youthful, such is its density of fruit and commandingly long finish. It’s an authoritative, hugely impressive wine that should continue to blossom for many years to come.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Cote de Lechet, Chablis Premier Cru 2005 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
William Kelley – Wine Advocate 93 points
“The 2005 Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet is more complex than the Vaillon, unfurling with complex aromas of honeycomb, mandarin oil, fresh mushroom, almond paste and oyster shell. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, rich and gourmand, with a satiny attack, a deep, concentrated core and tangy balancing acids. It’s a textural, sapid Chablis that will work well at the table.”
Importer Note “In fascinating contrast to “Vaillon” above, Defaix’s “Côte de Lechet” is a master class in mineral precision. This remarkably steep site (a 45% gradient) with very poor soil produces a wine that Danny describes as embodying “the real, true mineral expression of Chablis,” and even the generosity of the 2005 vintage cannot dull the blade of this limestone scythe. Freshly blasted chalk dominates the nose, with notes of candied lemon, acacia honey, and fresh herbs lurking underneath; still, this is a wine of minerality first and foremost. The palate is strikingly broad, but with a strictness and linearity that carries the intense limestone of the nose all the way through the lengthy finish like an ice luge. This is a wine of immense tension and mouth-watering salinity that, like the “Vaillon” above, also comes across as youthful, but offers a great deal of secondary pleasure at the moment as well. The family owns a 3.5-hectare parcel of 45-year-old vines in this distinctive cru, most of which are planted within a parcel known as the “Clos des Moines.””

Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Les Lys, Chablis Premier Cru 2005 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
William Kelley – Wine Advocate 93 points
“Dramatic aromas of blanched almonds, beeswax, honey and preserved lemon introduce the 2005 Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys, a full-bodied, textural wine that’s rich, concentrated and structured, with a tight-knit core, tangy acids and a stony finish. Like Defaix’s other 2005s, it’s very much in its prime and will be well worth seeking out when it reaches the marketplace.”
Grapelive 93 points “Daniel-Etienne Defaix … continues [his family’s] tradition of wine growing, which has been working the vines around Chablis since the 1500s. He manages 26 hectares planted exclusively to Chardonnay, which most all there vines in a selection of Premier Crus. Defaix, a natural minded vigneron whose family is from Avallon, not far from Chablis, he uses largely self-taught methods to craft his wines with ideas passed down and learned from his own experiences. His severe selections of grapes and his long fermentations highlight his deft and gentle touch in the cellar, which shows here in his latest release of Les Lys from the 2005 vintage. [This] is a gorgeous Chablis with incredible texture, mineral notes, remarkable lively character from this warm vintage and polished depth. This 2005 gives a subtle floral perfume, hints liquid rock, clarified cream, apple, pear and lemon preserves as well as wet stone (chalk), acacia honey, hazelnut and lingering fleshiness of form. It is a seamless Chardonnay of great class and detail. The Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys comes from a monopole plot known as ‘Clos du Roi’ and the average age of the vines is close to 45 years. [The vines are planted] on a sloping hillsides that has a near perfect southwest exposure allowing warm ripe flavors and richness, while the Kimmeridgian (limestone) soils give fabulous structure, acidity and minerallity. Daniel Defaix ferments 100% de-stemmed grapes in stainless steel tank using 100% natural yeasts at cold temps, which takes close to three weeks, and then the wine is rested almost three years on the lees, again in stainless (only) and goes through natural malos, then racked again back to stainless tanks to aged up to ten years before bottling! The results are amazing and this 2005, which shows the benefits of that regime and the age delivers a great performance in the glass with a sexy layered mouth feel and secondary elements beginning to shine through. The ‘Les Lys’ Premier Cru vineyard, part of the Vaillons, is located on the left bank of the Serein River, overlooking the villages of Chablis and Milly, making for an intriguing terroir, one of the most rare in the series of Premier Crus from Chablis and with a stony personality, but with a softer tone than some of neighboring sites. This Defaix version is wonderfully elegant, especially now.”


Thanks for reading!