In Today’s Newsletter:
First Offer: A California First Growth
New Arrivals from Setti Ponti
The Last Round of 2017 Muller Catoir
New Wine Spectator Insider Reviews
Rose of the Day: Classic (Pink) Sancerre
The Washington Insider’s Pick – Force Majeure
Summerweight Syrah: Goodfellow’s Delicious Value
The Most Overlooked Great Northern Rhone Estate?
Nothing “Normale” About It
May Sale Roundup
A California First Growth
Our first offer today is from one of the greatest wineries in the world—but its wines aren’t priced that way. Mayacamas makes Cabs that outclass First Growth Bordeaux and Chards that get confused with Grand Cru Burgundy—and at prices that are half what their competition charges. We have our allocation of these special wines arriving Friday and wanted to offer them to our newsletter before they hit the store.
Mayacamas is a true Napa First Growth—an unquestioned, top-5 historical producer of legendary Cabernet (and fantastic Chard) that is still at the top of the game. Unlike most of their peers from the 70’s and 80’s who have faltered, been sold or moved to lower market segments, Mayacamas is still devoted to producing absolute top quality wines from one of the most exceptional estate vineyards in Napa.
These are Cabs that are completely Californian but with a personality and structure of fine, old-school Bordeaux. Vintages from the 70’s and 80’s are still in their peak today and current releases are at least as good—and probably better made than their older counterparts. The Chardonnay also ages well—a non-malo style that emphasizes freshness and minerality but still has plenty of texture.
Unfortunately, the wine world is wising up to how good these wines are. The winery was purchased by Charles Banks a few years ago and prices have started to tick upwards (slowly, for now) while quantities on the market become more scarce. The current releases look truly special and we are offering all we could get, which is unfortunately not that much.
Only twelve bottles available
Mayacamas Vineyards Chardonnay, Mount Veeder 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2016 Chardonnay is fabulous. A vivid, textured wine, the 2016 possesses remarkable finesse and intensity in all of its dimensions. Lemon oil and white flowers are amped up by the natural intensity of these old vines. The 2016 was fermented and aged in neutral oak, with no malolactic fermentation. Mayacamas is setting a new standard for what California Chardonnay can be. Don’t miss it.”
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Editor’s Choice. From the mighty dry-farmed site within the secluded appellation, this incredible wine is expressive in tones of flint, fig, pear and lemon peel, with lasting acidity that brightens and freshens the palate. Medium bodied, it’s soft in feel yet structured, balanced and complex.”
Only twelve bottles available
Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder 2014 750ML ($137.95) $119 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 96+ points “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon shows the best qualities of the year to great effect. Powerful, incisive and tannic, yet also medium-bodied in structure, the 2014 is laser-focused and exceptionally beautiful. Precision and finely sculpted, the 2014 is going to need at least a few years to come into its own, but it is incredibly vivid and poised, even at this early stage. Red fruit, wild flowers, orange peel and chalk add brightness throughout.”
James Suckling 97 points “Aromas of blackcurrant, mushroom, wet earth and bark follow through to a full body, chewy tannins and a stone, berry, chili and spice aftertaste. Muscular and chunky. Very serious. Almost no new oak. This shows the Mayacamas DNA. October 2018 release.”
New Arrivals from Setti Ponti
Setti Ponti is one of our go-to estates for superb value in the Super-Tuscan arena. On both their lower end (Crognolo) and top bottlings (Oreno) these wines deliver tremendous value. Based in the heart of Tuscany, these have tremendous potential to age in the cellar but are always delicious young. Both Oreno and Crognolo are fantastic pairings with anything grilled, but if you put away a six-pack or two for winter, we think that’d be a smart idea too.
In Stock Now:
#25 Wine of the Year – James Suckling Top 100 in 2018
Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 special
Case-6 Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($599.95) $499 special
James Suckling 99 points “Gorgeous floral and deep, dark berry aromas with hints of spices such as cinnamon and hazelnuts. Full body and ultra-fine and strong tannins that are powerful yet so sleek and beautiful. Fantastic length and texture. Deep, dark and profound. Takes you on a long journey and shows you its true character. Better in 2025. Give it time.”
Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($39.95) $26 special
James Suckling 95 points “Aromas of rosewood, cherries and blueberries follow through to a full body, tight and focused tannins and a long and flavorful finish. This is linear and bright. The tannins are wonderfully polished and poised. Hard not to drink now, but it will improve beautifully in the bottle. A blend of mostly sangiovese with a touch of merlot. Drink or hold.”
The Last Round of 2017 Muller Catoir
The 2017 vintage was a marked success at Muller-Catoir and we finally received the last tranche of wines from the venerable estate. These are spectacular wines, with all of the pedigree of the landmark estate in a vintage that was kind to Germany on the whole and the Pfalz in particular.
Every wine region in the world has one or two estates that immediately come to mind when you hear the name of the region: Chateau Margaux in Margaux, Romanee-Conti in Vosne-Romanee, and Donnhoff in the Nahe. Muller-Catoir occupies that space in the Pfalz region of Germany.
The Pfalz as a region focused on powerful, dry wines long before it was fashionable. The wines we’re highlighting today are some of the best values in the world for breathtakingly mineral wines. Muller-Catoir owns some of the greatest vineyards in the region and has a special touch with them.
From grand, aristocratic Riesling to wild and exciting Scheurebe to the best Pinot Blanc (Weisburgunder) in the world, Muller-Catoir’s wines are top of the class in every category—and excellent value as well. 2017 was an exceptional vintage, even by recent German standards, and the wines are powerful, focused and intense—the perfect sort of year for the Pfalz. The final set of wines has just arrived, just in time for summer drinking (or a long cellar sleep).
Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spatlese, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling 95 points “Stunning nectarine, peach and papaya character, together with lovely succulence and enormous vitality, make this a breathtaking sweet Spätlese with a finish that’s straight as a laser beam and super-clean. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling 93 points “Ripe white and yellow peaches and just enough acidity to lift the medium-full body and give the long finish some real drive. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling 92 points “Wonderful pink-grapefruit and muscat nose that bowls you over. So joyful and really rather subtle for a seriously aromatic grape variety. Very bright finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink now.”
Terry Theise note “I’ve often said you have to go to the Grand Cru Goldert from ZH to fins a Muscat equal to Catoir’s, but lately the Alsace wine’s been flirting with overripeness, while the Catoir never does. Clearly I adore Muscat, but if it has a claim to stake on greatness, this is where. The ’17 is clean, brisk, shimmering, salty and gigglesome. Forget the sleek salty substance; just suck on the Thai-basil leaf while you wiggle your toes….”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling 93 points “The whiff of smoke gives the cassis nose of this wine an extra dimension. Concentrated and racy with a dangerous amount of energy. So juicy and vibrant with a long and very clean finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Terry Theise note “A gooseberry note feints towards Sauvignon Blanc but pink grapefruit pulls it back; finely angular, with a sort of woodruff-like charred-leaf thing; obdurate length; the finish is like the embers of a campfire in your mouth.”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling 95 points “All the heads turned when this beauty walked into the room. Ripe and fresh, deep yet very clean and delicate, this is a superb pinot blanc. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Wine Spectator 93 points
“A wine with presence and a tight but refined core of bright acidity and tannins, framed by expressive rose petal, raspberry and river stone accents. Best from 2020 through 2027-TF”
The next best price is $67.99
Arriving ETA Fall:
Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($279.95) $259 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 96 points “Black currant, plum, cedar, lead pencil and toasty, spicy elements highlight this intense red. Muscular tannins line the extended finish, leaving a peppery impression. The parts are all there but need time to integrate. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2023 through 2043. From Italy.—B.S
Grand Cru Burgundy in Oregon form.
Cameron Winery ‘Abbey Ridge’ Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2016 750ML ($79.95) $66 special
VinopolNote: Abbey Ridge is one of the most hallowed sites in the Willamette Valley. Planted in 1975, the Pinot Noir here is own rooted and at one of the highest elevations in the Dundee Hills. The elevation and classic Jory soils give the wine an intense personality—high toned, elegant and tensile, with good power and a strong voice. This bottling has been one of the defining Oregon Pinots since John Paul started making it.
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Wine Spectator 96 points “Though saturated with black currant and blackberry fruit and backed by opaque tannins, this red is pure and balanced. Thyme, iron, leather and tar notes give this complexity, while the finish goes into overtime. Best from 2023 through 2040. 2,500 cases imported.”
Henri Prudhon & Fils Les Rouges Gorges, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2015 750ML ($41.95) $36 special
Case-12 Henri Prudhon & Fils Les Rouges Gorges, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2015 750ML ($479.95) $389 special (that’s only $32.42/bottle!)
Importer (Neal Rosenthal) Note “his wine is produced from two separate parcels: one on a hillside above the hamlet of Gamay and the other from a parcel between Saint Aubin and Chassagne Montrachet. The average age of the vines is 50 years (as of 2011). A classic wine of this sector with compelling notes of animal and wild berries. The elevage is about 18 months before bottling; again, very little new oak is used.”
Burghound 87-90 points “Here the expressive nose is spicier still with its layered array of various red berries, soft earth and pretty floral nuances. There is a bit more volume to the slightly richer, seductive and caressing medium weight flavors that exude a subtle minerality onto the mildly austere and rustic finale. This could use a few years to round out.”
Marques de Caceres Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2012 1.5L ($59.95) $28 special
Case-6 Marques de Caceres Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2012 1.5L ($319.95) $159 special (that’s only $26.50/magnum!)
Wine Spectator 93 points “Black cherry, currant and floral notes are expressive and alluring, balanced by loamy earth, tobacco and mineral elements that add a savory quality. Firm, well-integrated tannins give support to the polished texture, while orange peel acidity fuels the fresh finish. Drink now through 2027.”
The next best price is $43.97
Ca’ del Baio ‘Autinbej’, Barbaresco DOCG 2015 750ML ($34.95) $28 special
Case-12 Ca’ del Baio ‘Autinbej’, Barbaresco DOCG 2015 750ML ($419.95) $299 special (that’s only $24.92/bottle!)
James Suckling 94 points “Sweet berry and cherry aromas with hints of flowers following through to a full body, with lots of fruit and chewy tannins. A long and rich finish. Needs four to five years of bottle age. Try in 2022.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “A briny mineral note in the aroma signals this high-tension red. There is ample fruit and flesh on the palate, with cherry, strawberry, stone and white pepper flavors. Tightens up again on the finish. Best from 2021 through 2038.”
Grapelive 93 points “The 2015 Autinbej was traditionally crafted and fermented with maceration on the skins from 9 to 15 days in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures to preserve aromatics and fresh detail. The Grasso’s try to use only native yeasts and low sulfur in their wines, along with the sustainable vineyard practices are looking to make as a natural expression as possible. In the case of this Autinbej, it’s a blend of different crus….The resulting Barbaresco matured for 24 months in large Slavonian oak barrels (boti) followed by bottle aging for at least four months before its release, and while like most Nebbiolo based wines in the region it can and will age extremely well and effortlessly for a long time, but this one, especially in this vintage with it’s heady flavors and smooth tannins can be drunk young. This is a winery on the rise, in 2016 Giulio received a great honor, he was named “Viticulturist of the Year” by the very prestigious Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide….There is a lot to love here with this Nebbiolo showing a raw sex appeal in the glass with a cascade of flavors and sensations including rose petals, minty herbs, strawberry preserves, damson plum and kirsch along with black licorice, mineral, cedar, coco and hint of orange rind. The palate is chewy and youthful, but air allows this ruby/garnet and dark brick hued Barbaresco unwind and flow seamlessly in the mouth, this is impressive stuff, especially with matching cuisine and robust food choices. If this one is anything to go by then I’m going to be thrilled by the single cru bottlings and the Asili Reserva, as well as the basic Langhe Nebbiolo, if you haven’t heard of Ca’ del Baio, you should search some out soon.”A fantastic price for an iconic Brunello estate.
Pian dell’Orino ‘Vigneti del Versante’, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2011 750ML ($119.95) $69 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “This wine is now identified by a single vineyard designation but was once the estate’s annata Brunello. The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino Vigneti del Versante (with vines planted in 1997) shows some signs of the vintage heat, but really only in terms of textural roundness and general softness. The bouquet sings loud and clear with red fruit aromas of cherry and blackberry. The fruit is nicely balanced by those elegant, ethereal notes of blue flower, balsam herb, cola and crushed pine nut that are characteristic of aged Sangiovese.”
The average listed price is $81
Sancerre is best known for white wines, but the rosés (made from Pinot Noir) deserve broader attention. These are as crisp, bright and refreshing as the whites, but with the delicate red fruit component you’d expect. If you’re looking for extremely dry, pale, refreshing rosé then you should be drinking these wines, including this top example. A notable local winemaker recently called this his favorite rosé this year, and for good reason. We have a few cases left and this is worth stocking up on.
In Stock Now:
Andre Neveu Sancerre Rose Grands Fricambault, Loire 2018 750ML ($27.99) $24 special
Winery note “The color of ripe redcurrants, with the faintest of hints of orange, perfectly limpid. The smell is delicate and the aromas reveal themselves more upon aeration. There are some lactic notes on the first nose, which then develops into aniseed and mint. The attack is round and supple. Overall it is soft and well balanced by a touch of tannin at the finish. The lingering finish shows spicy notes of pepper and thyme.”
Force Majeure is a total Washington State insider’s wine. The name doesn’t come up as often as a winery like Cayuse, but these estate grown gems are typically completely sold out to a rabid mailing list. It’s a tough winery to source—and for good reason. These are big, bold, dense wines that have just enough elegance to keep them in beautiful proportion. Winemaker Todd Alexander made his name at Bryant Family in Napa before being enticed to Washington and he’s making those epic Cult-style wines for Force Majeure as well.
What really sets Force Majeure apart from many other top Washington producers, though, is their site. It’s relatively rare to have an estate vineyard in Washington (like in Napa, many producers buy grapes from a variety of sites). To have an estate in the tiny Red Mountain AVA of this quality, though, is a truly special thing—a secret weapon in creating some of the finest wines in the state.
We’re pleased to announce that we’ve secured one case each of their high scoring, hard to get bottlings and are eager for you to get your hands on them.
Force Majeure Parabellum Red Mountain, Washington 2014 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck-Wine Advocate 93 points “Checking in as a blend of 61% Syrah and 39% Mourvedre, the 2014 Rhone Parabellum sports a vibrant purple, semi-opaque color to go with fabulous notes of black raspberries, cassis, cedary spice and hints of pepper. This is a rich, elegant, incredibly polished red that has terrific purity, ripe, sweet tannin, a graceful personality and a great finish. It’s an entry-level wine that surpasses most estates’ top cuvees.”
The average listed price is $55
Wine Advocate 93-96 points “It’s going to be interesting to see if the 2015 Estate Syrah matches the 2014, and they both showed similar from barrel. The 2015 is a big, full-bodied Syrah that has tons of chalky minerality in its classic Syrah notes of blackberries, licorice and smoked meats. With good acidity, fine tannin and terrific elegance and purity, it will keep for 15+ years. Led by winemaker Todd Alexander, Force Majeure has now officially moved away from their Collaboration Series releases and is focusing exclusively on their estate vineyards on Red Mountain. The lineup is stacked with incredible wines, and I expect the quality to only go up from here as their vineyards age and they fine-tune the winemaking. The 2015s were structured and tannic, and while they’ll certainly be more polished from bottle, I suspect short term cellaring will be your friend. These are great wines, and even at their prices, these represent killer values.”
The average price nationally is $78
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Moving to the reds, the Mourvèdre-dominated 2015 Parvata GSM is a smoking effort loaded with deep, rich aromas and flavors of blackberries, currants, cured meats, and a hint of chocolate. It’s full-bodied, deep, concentrated, and perfectly balanced, and is a sensational wine.”
James Suckling 94 points “A fascinating nose of earth, brambles, forest floor, blackberries, herbs, black pepper, some animal and freshly cut herbs and tobacco. Full-bodied with firm, sturdy tannins, a wealth of bark and dark fruit, a lot of power, fresh acidity and an underbrush finish. Washington’s answer to the Southern Rhone! GSM blend. Drink in 2020.”
The next best price is $83
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “A Pomerol look-alike, the 2015 Epinette is mostly Merlot, yet includes 30% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. It’s another rich, mouthfilling effort and offers lots of darker, plummy fruits, chocolate, and scorched earth aromas and flavors. With building tannin and serious structure, it isn’t for those looking for instant gratification and is going to need a solid 3-5 years of bottle age.”
The next best price is $89.99
This is one of the most stupendous values ever to come out of Oregon—a wine that’s unlike anything you’d expect but is completely delicious and joyous in its own idiom. This is a Syrah, from the Willamette Valley in a warm vintage, that drinks like some cross between the Northern Rhone and non-Carbonic Beaujolais. It’s delicious and so unexpected that we had to buy all of it that Marcus Goodfellow had left.
2014 was a hot year in Oregon and given Marcus’ track record, you’d expect a dark wine with big body and personality, but he picked early for freshness—and this wine is nothing if it’s not bright and fresh. The best comparison might be Herve Souhaut’s cult-classic Syrahs, with their airy personalities and bright flavors, but if you told us the wine was secretly Stellenbosch Mondeuse, we’d believe you. It’s not as serious as most of his Syrah, but the price isn’t either—this is a wine you can buy and drink by the case.
We’ve got as much as we could (a mere fifteen cases) arriving tomorrow and we’re (read: the staff is) stocking up for summer drinking—this would be perfect with a light chill on it with hamburgers or chicken off the grill. With the case price, you can (and should) make this a wine for all occasions.
In Stock Now
Goodfellow Family Cellars Syrah – Viognier, Willamette Valley 2014 750ML ($24.95) $16 special
Case-12 Goodfellow Family Cellars Syrah – Viognier, Willamette Valley 2014 750ML ($269.95) $169 pre-arrival special (that’s only $14.08/bottle!)
This is the only listing in the USA today!
The Most Overlooked Great Northern Rhone Estate?
Delas is one of the most notable landholders in the Northern Rhone, with holdings in some of the best vineyards in every major AOC, yet they still manage to be overlooked when people put together collections of wine from the region. We’d like to remedy that, so permit us a few seconds to sing their praises.
Delas makes wines that are a) delicious and well-made and b) more than reasonably priced. This combination means that it’s possible to drink your way up and down the Northern Rhone, trying fantastic wines from fabled appellations, and you can still afford your next car payment. Sure, the wines aren’t collectible, but if you’re buying to drink, rather than to resell, give these a look. We’re proud to present a broad assortment of their wines here for your future enjoyment and winery-cellared vintages for now:
In Stock Now:
A rich, broad style of Condrieu.
Delas Freres Condrieu Clos Boucher, Rhone 2016 750ML ($89.95) $69 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 95 points “Pale green-hued yellow. Penetrating, mineral-tinged aromas of fresh citrus and pit fruits are complemented by chalky minerals, violet and fennel accents. Juicy, focused and concentrated, offering intense pear nectar, Meyer lemon and honeysuckle flavors that show outstanding clarity and minerally lift. The mineral and floral notes carry emphatically through a silky, appealingly sweet finish that hangs on with superb focus and tenacity.”
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “A step up, the bigger, richer 2016 Condrieu Clos Boucher is blockbuster stuff, offering serious notes of crushed rock, buttered citrus, orange blossom, and a smoky, meaty, mineral character that’s hard to describe. Possessing full-bodied richness, beautiful mid-palate concentration and a seamless texture, this beauty will be even better this time next year and keep for 4-6 years.”
The next best price is $75.99
The average listed price is even higher!
Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes-Marquise de la Tourette, Rhone 2015 750ML ($89.95) $69 special
Case-6 Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes-Marquise de la Tourette, Rhone 2015 750ML ($479.95) $369 special
Wine Spectator 95 points “This is loaded with well-defined loganberry, blackberry and boysenberry pâte de fruit flavors, flecked with anise and black tea notes and carried by a fine iron streak that lingers wonderfully. A wine of cut, purity and precision. Best from 2020 through 2035. From France.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “A blend of Syrah grapes from several lieux-dits, including Les Bessards, the 2015 Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes is aged in new and second use barrels. It’s a dark, concentrated wine, meaty, rich and tannic but with a bright beam of cassis fruit that lifts it and gives it great definition and shape on the palate. Give this medium to full-bodied wine at least 5 years in the cellar and drink it over the next 15.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “While the Les Bessards gets all the attention, the 2015 Hermitage Domaine Des Tourettes isn’t far behind and is unquestionably the value play. Beef blood, cassis, blackberry liqueur and loads of crushed rock nuances all emerge from this ripe, concentrated, full-bodied Hermitage that has a classic, structured profile. It’s well worth a case purchase and will keep for two to three decades. As always, this cuvée comes from two parcels, the lower part of the Bessards lieu-dit and the Les Grandes Vignes located at the highest point on Hermitage Hill. It’s completely destemmed and sees 16 months in 30% new French oak.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Enticing hints of sweet spice, black pepper and bacon fat seduce on the nose of this rich but balanced Hermitage. Blackberry and cherry flavors are fresh and juicy but structured by firm tannins and brisk acidity. A polished wine already, it should intensify its savory, smoky complexities well through 2030.”
Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon, Rhone 2015 750ML ($44.95) $38 special
Case-6 Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon, Rhone 2015 750ML ($279.95) $199 special
Wine Advocate 93 points “Inky and concentrated, the 2015 Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon is no easy-drinking Saint-Joseph. It’s smoky, herbal and ashy all at once, yet it’s buoyed by ample black cherry fruit and vibrant acidity. This medium to full-bodied Syrah has plenty of tannins, but they’re ultimately silky and most apparent on the long, licorice-tinged finish. This is approachable now but should be even better in 3 years and should drink well for at least another 10 after that.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “Both Saint Joseph releases are brilliant in 2015. The 2015 Saint Joseph François De Tournon comes vines around Tournon, Mauves, Saint-Jean-de-Muzols, and Vion, and is always destemmed and aged in 30% new barrels. This full-bodied, rounded, sexy beauty shows the power and fruit of the vintage. With classic notes of black and blue fruits, violets, incense and pepper, drink this textured, expansive, terrific Saint Joseph over the coming 10-15 years.”Back vintage Hermitage from a prime parcel.
Delas Freres Hermitage Les Bessards, Rhone 2004 750ML ($199.95) $119 special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 94 points “Ruby-red. Very pungent, deep aromas of tobacco- and underbrush-laced red and blackcurrant. Powerful and rich, showing impressive sweetness to its potent cassis and blackberry flavors. Really stains the palate, finishing with exceptional purity and mineral tones. Whatever tannins are here (and you know there are plenty) are completely absorbed by the sheer fruit mass.”
Delas Freres Hermitage Les Bessards, Rhone 2015 750ML ($249.95) $219 special
Jeb Dunnuck 100 points “The top cuvée from Delas is the 2015 Hermitage Les Bessards, and it’s always 100% Syrah from the steep, broken granite soils of the Bessards lieu-dit. Aged 18 months in 30% new barrels, its purple/plum color is followed by a huge nose of blackcurrants, graphite, toasted spice, crushed rocks and saddle leather. Powerful, massively concentrated, and tannic, it has a broad, expansive, heavenly texture, a thick mid-palate (you could almost use a fork for this beauty), and a great finish. Despite the richness level, it stays balanced and graceful on the palate, and is never over the top or heavy. It’s a perfect Hermitage that will start to shine with 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for three decades or more. Bravo!”
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Cellar Selection! There’s a striking balance here calibrating bold, almost muscular ripeness against an invigorating granite edge. This wine is plump and full bodied, full of supple blackberry and plum flavors balanced by pert acidity and taut, penetrating tannins. It should be in peak from 2020–2035 but hold further.”
Wine Advocate 95-97 points “The top cuvée is the 2015 Hermitage les Bessards, which comes from the middle to lower portion of the steep, granite hillside known as Bessards, unquestionably one of the best terroirs for Syrah in the world. Its inky purple color is followed by a full-bodied, rich, thrillingly concentrated red that has huge tannin, bright acidity and a solid mid-palate concentration. It still tastes like it just came from the press and will need to be forgotten for a decade. As normal, it’s completely destemmed and will see 18 months in 30% new oak.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 96 points “Inky ruby. A highly aromatic bouquet evokes candied black and blue fruits, along with complicating suggestions of smoky minerals, candied flowers, olive and vanilla. Deep, chewy and expansive in the mouth, offering impressively concentrated dark berry liqueur, fruitcake and salty olive flavors that are complicated by a hint of smoky minerality and a building floral pastille note. Distinctly rich and powerful but surprisingly graceful as well, showing noteworthy clarity and mineral-driven thrust on the strikingly long finish.”The prestige cuvee from St. Joseph. This is from a prime lieu-dit.
Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Sainte-Epine, Rhone 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Wine Spectator 94 points “Dark and winey, featuring a deep core of red and black currant fruit steeped gently with anise and apple wood notes. The finish lets a bright iron edge run through. There’s lots to like here. Drink now through 2026. 500 cases made.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93-95+ points “The 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte Epine comes from the cool, fine, granite soils of the Sainte Epine lieu-dit located just outside of Saint-Jean-de-Muzols. Its deep purple color is followed by a sensational perfume of crème de cassis, black pepper, graphite and crushed flowers. Full-bodied, elegant and seamless, with incredible purity, it’s going to be one of the superstars of the vintage.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “Impressively dark and saturated in color, the 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte-Epine showcases its granite origins, boasting scents of crushed stone on the nose, along with hints of plummy fruit and grilled meat. It’s medium to full-bodied, framed by firm yet ripe tannins and classy notes of pencil shavings that linger through the long, silky-textured finish.”-JC
2014 was not an easy growing season in Tuscany, but you look hard, you can find truly exceptional wines—like in the case of Casanova di Neri’s Brunello. They decided not to produce any of their higher end wines (Tenuta Nuova or Cerretalto) and so all of those barrels went into the “normale” Brunello. The resulting wine is super-charged relative to normal—this effectively represents a best barrels selection of the entire estate (they declassified the usual amount of wine to the Rosso, as well). The resulting wine is the best of both worlds—it has the early drinkability of the 2014 vintage without a loss of complexity or depth. This isn’t a wine and cellar for multiple decades, but it’s a beauty right now and should improve over the next 5-10 years. We have as much as we could get our hands on arriving in June and it’s a wine you should be buying in bulk as well.
Arriving ETA June:
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2014 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 93 points “Bright deep red. Perfumed nose of red cherry, Oriental spices, flint and graphite. Rich, dense and suave on entry, then lighter and more linear in the middle, but with a plush juicy mouthfeel that makes it hard to put the glass back down once you’ve started tasting it. Very pure black/red cherry and spice flavors linger impressively on the long, refreshing finish. A knockout 2014 Brunello that lacks the size of the bigger vintages (very appropriately, I may add, given what the 2014 growing season was like) but showcases enchanting purity and grace. Vey well done”
Wine Advocate 92 points “This is the white label Brunello from Giacomo Neri and his son Giovanni. The 2014 Brunello di Montalcino is faithful to the vintage with a compact and streamlined style that suggests a near or medium-term drinking window. In general, I am hesitant to recommend this vintage for any significant cellar aging, and one reason is because these wines perform nicely straight out of the gate. The same goes for this relatively easy expression that is redolent of wild berry, rose hip, blue flower and moist potting soil. Because the Brunelli Tenuta Nuova and Cerretalto were not made in this vintage, this wine represents a blend of fruit from across the estate. This is the first time this has happened at Casanova di Neri. Bottle production is 75,669 strong. -ML”
James Suckling 92 points “Wild red fruit and orange zest with cedar and wild herbs. The cherries here are fresh and lively and the tannins cut a sturdy, even frame around impressively long, fresh flavors. The only Brunello made here in 2014; there are no single vineyard bottlings. Drink or hold.”
May Sale Roundup
May is almost over and there are a ton of great deals in our May Sale! You can view highlights below or click here to see the full list of May Sale Wines in our web store!
In Stock Now:
Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau, Rhone 2015 750ML ($79.95) Was $69, Now $59 May Sale Special
Wine Spectator 95 points “This has a lovely, perfumy mix of savory, mint, tobacco, blood orange, cherry and bergamot notes, with finely beaded acidity and silky but ample structure. Long, mineral- and shiso leaf-infused finish. Best from 2020 through 2035.”JM
Wine Advocate 94 points “The flagship wine, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 5% other permitted varieties. It features delicate floral scents and ample cherry and licorice aromas. Somehow, it manages to be full-bodied and almost creamy in texture but without much weight, then it ends powerfully, with a flourish of rich Mexican chocolate on the long, silky finish. It should drink well for up to 20 years.”
The average listed price is $81
James Suckling 95 points “10 hectares of elevated Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is an hommage to grenache with just a hatful of mourvèdre. Ripe raspberry and red plum pastry aromas. Super silky, plush and layered. Extremely impressive. Shows fluidity and balance, density and lightness. 50% stalks (crushed).”
The average listed price is $53
Wine Spectator 95 points “($48) Loads of chalky grip keeps this wrapped up tight, but the core of steeped plum, fig and blackberry fruit is brimming with energy, while bay leaf, licorice root and charcoal notes chomp at the bit on the finish. Cellaring will rein this in. Best from 2021 through 2035. 700 cases made.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “Produced from 30-year-old vines and aged in 20% new oak, the 2015 Cornas Empreintes features classic Cornas notes of crushed stone, bloody meat and red plums. It’s full-bodied, rich and packed with fruit and tannin but supple at the same time. It’s mouth-filling and round, then finishes long, dry and mouthwatering.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93+ points “The 2015 Cornas Empreintes is unique in the lineup as it comes 30% from more limestone soils. It’s 75% destemmed and aged in 20% new French oak. It’s more elegant and focused than the opulent Premices and gives up lots of blackberry and cassis fruits, leather, crushed rock and pepper aromatics. Deep, rich, beautifully concentrated and pure, it needs short-term cellaring but is a brilliant wine that’s going to impress for 10-15 years.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points “Opaque ruby. Spice-accented dark fruit, violet and olive scents, along with suggestions of smoky bacon and cracked pepper. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering densely packed cassis, blueberry and spicecake flavors that become livelier as the wine opens up. Rich yet energetic in style, showing excellent delineation and dark fruit thrust on a very long, smooth finish framed by velvety tannins.”
The next best price is $44.94
Wine Spectator 93 points “Offers a ripe, dark profile, with a core of steeped blackberry and plum fruit that picks up bay, white pepper and iron accents through the finish. Shows solid depth and fruit for the vintage, displaying excellent energy. Best from 2018 through 2029. 1,500 cases made.”