MidWeek VinopolPick 11-17-18

In Today’s Newsletter:

Austrian for Thanksgiving

Screaming Eagle’s “The Flight”

Barbaresco Beyond the Produttori

Rousseau: Grand Crus and Beyond

New Wine Spectator Insider Review

Champagne Focus – Hebrart

Peter Lauer Pre-Arrival Special

3×100 Points (Perfect from all Sides)


Austrian Whites for Thanksgiving

A Perfect Pairing

One perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner is a richer white wine.  Sure, red wines get all of the attention, with Beaujolais and Zinfandel leading the way, but a full bodied, complex white matches with most of the foods on the table in a way that Zin can only dream of.  The classic wine for this scenario is Chardonnay, either in white Burgundy or new world form, but we’d like to point you in the direction of something a bit more, well, Austrian for your Thanksgiving table.

The whites of Austria are some of the best in the world.  They’re dry and powerful—a product of plenty of sunshine and careful farming.  Austrian Riesling combines the power and dryness of Alsace with minerality and texture in spades and Grüner, well, it’s hard to think of a white grape that manages to be so savory with as much delicious fruit as it has—a perfect complement to anything on a Thanksgiving table.

If you weren’t thinking of Austria first, you aren’t alone—despite the brilliance of the wines, they aren’t as recognized in the US as they are in Europe.  That’s good news if you’re in the know—lower prices than they should be, even (especially) on the higher end wines.  If you’re looking to expand your Thanksgiving pairings beyond the usual these are wines that you should be putting on your table.

In Stock Now:

F.X. Pichler Durnsteiner Kellerberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, Wachau 2015 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “Like the Liebenberg from weathered granite and gneiss soils, but in a higher and cooler spot, the 2015 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Kellerberg opens with an intense and herbal-flavored, rather spicy and stony bouquet of ripe and concentrated bright fruits. Full-bodied, ripe and piquant on the palate, this is a rich and powerful, well-concentrated and elegant Kellerberg with a rich extract and a long and persistent finish. The 2015 should be cellared for at least another 3-5 years.”

F.X. Pichler Durnsteiner Liebenberg Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, Wachau 2015 750ML ($69.95) $48 special
Wine Advocate 93-94 points “The 2015 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Dürnsteiner Liebenberg comes from 70- to 80-year-old vines on a rare calcareous slate soil. The wine displays a very clear and pure, pretty open and lovely spicy, crystalline and flinty bouquet with ripe pip fruit aromas. Very distinguished and rather coolish in its expression. Full-bodied, round and elegant, with tension, salt and grip in the finish, this is a charmingly ripe and juicy but also challenging mineral and piquant Veltliner from one of the most exciting terroirs. The finish is powerful and complex but also fresh and stimulatingly piquant. Pichler has bottled this wine since 2010.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
F.X. Pichler Loibner Oberhauser Riesling Smaragd, Wachau 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
David Schildknecht–Vinous 92 points “A site-typical meld of apricot and lime is garlanded with iris on the nose and reprises with wonderful purity and vivid freshness on a silken-textured, expansive palate. Piquant apricot kernel and a lick of wet stone lend counterpoint on a lusciously lingering finish that irresistibly calls forth the next sip.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “Lush, displaying apricot, peach, grapefruit and mineral flavors backed by a vibrant structure, this stays true to its core of orchard fruit, adding accents of elderflower and citrus on the long aftertaste. Drink now through 2023.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Schloss Gobelsburg Langenlois Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal 2016 750ML ($31.95) $20.90 special
Bin end sale !!!
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2016 Langenlois Kamptal Grüner Veltliner is sourced from different vineyards of the village including Redling, Geppling, Spiegel, Thal and others and opens with a clear, deep, fresh and slightly flinty bouquet of ripe fruits. Very elegant and mineral on the palate, this is a lovely, mineral, well structured, pretty complex and aromatic Grüner Veltliner that combines the character of the fruity-elegant loess and the vital, racy and gravelly Grüner Veltliner expressions. The wine shows good mineral structure, stimulating salinity on the finish and comes along as a pretty complex wine already.”
Terry Theise note: “I was wary. Yet another wine? Sure, I understand this is a “village” wine to lead in to the Crus coming up, and I appreciate how Michi didn’t want to jump from the negoç wine directly to Steinsetz. But whew, we got a lot of skus as it is…The first sip demolished my concerns. It contains young-vines juice from the sites Redling, Thal, Lamm (!), Renner and Grub, which makes those wines even better. This is more “physical” and earthy than the above—“like an AOC chicken” I wrote—plus wild lavender and other dark flavors, boxwood, balsam, Timut peppers and guava. Yet as it feints toward sternness it finishes with a giggle of freshness (and a chortle of charm); a perfect mid-weight GV prototype.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Schloss Gobelsburg Zobing Riesling, Kamptal 2016 750ML ($37.95) $21.90 special
Bin end sale !!!
James Suckling 90 points “Cooked apple and lime aromas with hints of loam. Full body, layered and rich with lots of fruit. A big and fruity style. Lightly sweet. Medium finish. Drink now.”
Terry Theise note: “This is racy and herbal, but not exactly juicy; more of a stretched stony-fennelly tautness, ore and nettle; brisk but not brusque, with a mizuna snap on the finish.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Weingut Hirsch Zobing Riesling, Kamptal 2014 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Terry Theise “The village-wine, basically young vines from the two Crus. It’s clean, nubby and mineral in ’14; iris-y but less riotously  flooralsweet than, say, the 13 was; it needs air, and after a few minutes the wisteria scents started appearing, and the minerality clarified.”
David Schildknecht–Vinous 89 points “Bittersweet, iris-like perfume wafts all the way through this exuberant performance of pronounced yet bracing phenolic piquancy and infectious, bright juiciness. Lean and long, this cuvée gained a delightful sense of mineral interplay over the course of its first six months in bottle.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Those were just some highlights!
Click here if you want to see all 105 Austrian wines in stock right now!
Screaming Eagle’s

The Flight

Screaming Eagle needs very little in the way of introduction.  The most sought after wine in California, their Cabernet is hard to get and incredibly pricy.  The Flight is their “second” wine—a 97 pointer that would be the top wine and pride of almost every other winery in California.  Three bottles just arrived and more won’t be available until next year.

In Stock Now:

Only three bottles available
Screaming Eagle “The Flight” Proprietary Red, Napa Valley 2015 750ML ($799.95) $699 special
Wine Advocate 97 points “Very deep purple-black, the 2015 The Flight (a blend of 61% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 37% Cabernet Sauvignon) opens with electric notes of black and blue fruit sparks—wild blueberries, fresh blackberries and crushed black plums—with nuances of lavender, violets, pencil shavings, tilled soil, yeast extract and a waft of cinnamon stick. Medium to full-bodied, it hits the palate with tons of energy and freshness supported by firm, finely grained tannins, finishing with tons of fragrant earth layers.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Barbaresco Beyond the Produttori

No prestigious appellation of any size may be more associated with a single producer than Barbaresco with the Produttori.  That’s both good and bad—certainly the quality standards for the co-op have been extremely high and the pricing fair, but it also means that many deserving producers have a hard time getting noticed.

That’s bad for them, but great for pricing on the wines.  With a few exceptions, many producers in Barbaresco seem to have artificially deflated pricing.  Given the rising interest in Barbaresco (as Barolo gets more expensive) we’re sure this can’t last for too many more years, but right now, here are a collection of noteworthy wineries that deserve your attention.

Socré is an estate that’s been under the radar almost solely because of its size—they own a mere three hectares in Barbaresco, in the cru of Roncaglie, which is just below Gaja’s Sori Tilden.  Three hectares doesn’t go a long way, so only the most in the know have tried them.  We’re stocking two different vintages of their Barbaresco normale, which is sourced entirely from the Roncaglie cru.  Both wines are exceptional, especially for the price—it’s a cru Barbaresco for a normale tariff.

Socre Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont 2012 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2012 Barbaresco is dark, plummy and absolutely delicious, with plenty of up-front fruit and pure appeal. Sweet tobacco, rose petal, mint, cherries and licorice open up in the glass. The tannins retain a touch of firmness, but otherwise, this is a hugely appealing Barbaresco, especially considering it is the estate’s entry-level wine.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Socre Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont 2013 750ML ($41.95) $36 special
Grapelive 92+ points “The 2013 Socre Barbaresco is a pure and ripe Nebbiolo with striking profile and rich character… Socre’s Barbaresco comes from estate vines in the sub zone of Roncaglie that form the heart and soul of the winery. The soils are formed by 50 million year old deposits of alluvial material, with a composition that is a majority clay, with a limestone base derived from the ancient seabed. I’ve always admired what I’ve tasted from Socre and this 2013 does not disappoint with the vintage’s open knit palate and sweet tannins. It’s a great value to for such pleasing Barbaresco. This winery near the tiny hamlet Tre Stelle, which is a village of Barbaresco, not far from the historic town of Alba, is a label to discover if you’ve not done so. Heady on the nose and richly opulent in the mouth this Barbaresco leads with classic earth, flowers, cedar and minty herbs along with its deep cherry, damson plum and distilled strawberry fruits adding a touch of tar, anise and mineral with air. While 14% natural alcohol, it remains lively and sharply detailed delivering everything in seductive layers and with plenty of charm and vigor. The Socre 2013 is an impressive wine and a real winner for the price. It can be enjoyed now and certainly will be rewarding Nebbiolo for another 5 to 10 years easy.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “Socré’s 2013 Barbaresco is a terrific example of the vintage at its best. The aromatics alone are enticing. Sweet dark cherry, plum, sage, lavender, rose petal mint and licorice give the 2013 a dark, mysterious quality that is hard to fully describe. Deep and yet also weightless as only Nebbiolo can be, the 2013 hits all the right notes. This is a vivid and impeccable Barbaresco from Socré.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Sottimano is one of the reference point modern producers of Barbaresco.  As Antonio Galloni said “Sottimano shows a level of commitment to excellence I wish were more the rule rather than the exception in these parts.”  That desire to make the best possible wines, with no expense spared, is immediately on display when you taste the wines.  They’re balanced, broadcasting their terroirs while providing ample power and age worthiness.  We have a motley assortment of 9 different wines in stock, including a number of vintages going back to 2007.  The quantities on many of them make listing them impractical here, but you can view a full list on our web store by clicking here.

Sottimano Pajore, Barbaresco DOCG 2012 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2012 Barbaresco Pajoré is a wine that exudes balance and harmony. The wine is absolutely intact in all its elements and there’s a sense of continuity here that sets it apart. As it warms in the glass, this beautiful Barbaresco takes on greater aromatic intensity with its floral tones that blossom brighter and the fruity tones that emerge steadily from the bouquet. Spice, leather and grilled herb linger delicately at the back. The Barbaresco Pajoré is a beautiful wine.” ML
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2012 Barbaresco Pajoré shows the pedigree of this great site in its balance of fruit, acidity and tannin. Like all the wines in this vintage, the Pajoré is a mid-weight Barbaresco, but here it is the wine’s textural finesse that impresses above all else. Chalky tannins underpin flowers, spices, tangerine peel and star anise on the expressive, floral finish.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Sottimano Cotta, Barbaresco DOCG 2012 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Wine Enthusiast 93 points “Aromas of red berry, tilled earth, menthol and dark cooking spice unfold in the glass. The structured, elegant palate doles out ripe wild cherry, mint, licorice, blood orange and chopped herb alongside firm, fine-grained tannins. It’s still tight so let it unwind for a few more years.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2012 Barbaresco Cottà shows its typical profile of round, ample fruit and generosity, but with a touch less richness than is the norm. Broad, ample textures fill out the wine’s frame nicely. Pine, menthol and dark spices wrap around a core of super-expressive dark red stone fruits. All of the typical Cottà signatures are in place, but in miniature, which is to say this is a highly representative wine for the year.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
The Elia family purchased their vineyards in 1796. From atop the hill where the winery sits, you can overlook the two main vineyard sites and understand the difference in microclimate, soil type and techniques for farming. The Bricco di Nieve side of the hill is steep, breezy and has beautiful older vines that produce the gorgeous sori Paitin Barbaresco. The other side of the hill has the looser iron rich soil that is the Serra vineyard. Tasting the two Barbaresco side by side is a lesson in site location and the unique qualities that can be shown, just a stone’s throw away.  Dante Scaglione, famed Giacosa enologist, consults here and has helped push quality even higher, all while remaining true to the traditions and terroirs of Nieve.

Paitin di Pasquero-Elia ‘Serra’, Barbaresco DOCG 2014 750ML ($41.95) $33 special
Wine Spectator 92 points “Currant, strawberry, cherry, floral and leafy flavors are the highlights of this racy, elegant red. Balanced on the firm side, with excellent length. Best from 2020 through 2032. 800 cases made.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Paitin di Pasquero-Elia ‘Sori Paitin’, Barbaresco DOCG 2014 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Wine Spectator 95 points “Intense aromas and flavors of pure cherry, raspberry and flowers introduce this silky, delicate red, which is firmly structured, with dusty, assertive tannins. Notes of tobacco and mineral are woven into the long, detailed aftertaste. Best from 2021 through 2033. 1,200 cases made.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Paitin di Pasquero-Elia ‘Sori Paitin Vecchie Vigne’, Barbaresco DOCG 2010 750ML ($89.95) $69 special
Antonio Galloni 95+ points “The 2010 Barbaresco Sorì Paitin Vigne Vecchie hits the palate with fabulous depth and intensity. Savory herbs, smoke, tobacco, incense, menthol and licorice race out of the glass in an intense, structured Barbaresco loaded with class, energy and pure power. There is plenty to look forward to, once the tannins soften a bit. The 2010 has closed down pretty dramatically since the last time I tasted it, about a year ago. Readers will have to be patient. The 2010 spent a total of 30 months in cask.”

Castello di Verduno
The Castello di Verduno, as you might guess, is a historically important producer of Barolo, located in Verduno, but also owns a cellar and important vineyard property in Barbaresco.  The estate is owned by Gabriella Burlotto and Franco Bianco, who have made it a mission to create some of the finest wines in the region.  Their holdings are heavily skewed towards great vineyards, with Rabaja and Faset in Barbaresco, meaning their entry level wines show incredible class and purity as well.  Everything they do is very traditionally vinified, with aging in older barrels (or stainless) and no new or small-format oak.

Castello di Verduno Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont 2015 750ML ($47.95) $38 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points “Castello di Verduno’s 2015 Barbaresco is a potent wine. A swath of tannins enshrouds this powerful, structured Barbaresco. Crushed flowers, sweet tobacco, rose petal, dried cherry and mint are all suggestive of a wine that is a touch forward, and yet there is so much fruit and tannin here to make me think the 2015 will drink well for a number of years. The 2015 is a super-classic, expressive Barbaresco endowed with real personality and class. It is also one of the very best wines I have tasted from the estate in some time.”
Importer Note “The village Barbaresco from Verduno is a model of its type, showing absolutely typical aromas and flavors of redcurrant, fraise de bois, sandalwood and rose. Elegant, delicious when young but will age for many years in a good vintage. The grapes come from the Faset and Rabajà vineyards; vinification is traditional, with 21 days on the skins, and the wine is aged for 19 months in large Slovenian oak barrels (made by Stockinger, an artisan cooper from Austria) before bottling. (Barbaresco is only required to be aged in wood for 12 months, and I think this extra time in large barrels makes a difference.)”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Castello di Verduno Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2016 750ML ($26.95) $21.90 special
Importer Note “If you want a preview of Barbaresco without spending $70 or more, or if you just love good red lip-smacking red wine, try this Nebbiolo. All of the grapes come from the Barbaresco vineyards Faset and Rabajà, the vinification is shorter than that of the Barbaresco (7 days) and the wine is aged for 2 months in large casks and 6 months in stainless steel, no wood.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!



Grand Crus and Beyond

The wines of Rousseau have no peer in Gevrey-Chambertin. No other grower has produced wines with their level of profundity and a similar track record over the decades. From top to bottom, they are the class of the village. We are always on the hunt for their wines—as you’d expect they’re maddeningly scarce and correspondingly expensive, but we recently hit the jackpot and now have 30 different bottlings arriving this month.

View a selection of highlights below, or click here to shop the whole list. Act quickly, though—most of these wines are limited to a bottle or two each. If there’s something that looks enticing, well, it’s first come, first served.

Arriving This Month:

Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2007 750ML  $1,899 pre-arrival special, only 1 bottle available
Stephen Tanzer 94+ points
“Good full red-ruby. More reserved on the nose than the Beze, with terrific sappy verve to its aromas of dark fruits, violet, crushed stone, iron and camphor. Juicy, tightly wound and very intense on first pour, but opened spectacularly in the glass to show outstanding creamy depth without any loss of energy. Today the wine’s saline earth tones and minerality have the upper hand over its fruit. There’s less easy sweetness here than the Clos de Beze is displaying, but the slow ripening of the vintage is apparent, and the finishing flavors go on and on. It would be a rare (and expensive) treat to try these two wines side by side in 2020 or so.”
Burghound 94 points “By contrast to the Clos St. Jacques and the Bèze, the Cham has already eaten its wood which allows free rein for the spicy, pure, elegant and restrained earthy red pinot fruit with animale hints and ample mineral notes to dissolve seamlessly into dusty, textured, precise and palate staining big-bodied flavors that are exceptionally tight on the linear but hugely long finish. At present, the Bèze appears to have slightly better underlying material but we’ll see in time as both are sensational plus the Cham has a long demonstrated ability to add weight in bottle.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Chambertin Clos-de-Beze Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2002 750ML  $2,699 pre-arrival special, only 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 94-96 points
“The 2002 Chambertin Clos de Beze bursts with spicy red cherry aromas. This medium to full-bodied wine has an exceptionally spicy personality that is crammed with red licorice (Twizzlers), candied raspberries, Asian spices, and blackberries. Wonderfully focused and armed with substantial depth, this medium to full-bodied wine’s exceedingly long finish displays awesomely ripe tannin. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2020.”
Burghound 94 points “(with thanks to Steve Baum and opened from personal storage). While not nearly as reserved as it once was the beautifully spicy and well-layered nose is on the restrained side with a distinctly earthy character to the elegant mix of both red and dark pinot fruit aromas that are just now beginning to display secondary hints. There is fine concentration to the utterly delicious flavors that are exuberant, big, rich, round and seductively sappy before culminating in an explosive and strikingly persistent finish. This remains an exciting wine of exceptional purity and balance. For my taste this is very much still on the way up and while it can certainly be drunk with pleasure it seems quite clear that this is nowhere yet near its apogee and as such, I would recommend allowing this to continue to slumber. Multiple and consistent notes save for one bottle that was initially reduced but quickly opened up.”
Stephen Tanzer 94+ points “Good ruby-red. Black raspberry, licorice and chocolatey oak on the nose. Offers compelling lushness, sweetness and fat for a 2002; wonderfully harmonious from the outset. Very suave, clearly defined flavors of blackberry and blueberry retain their shape through to the very long aftertaste. Tannins are quite fine.”

Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Clos Saint-Jacques, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru 2010 750ML  $1,399 pre-arrival special, only 3 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 97 points
“Rousseau’s 2010 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques takes things into the stratosphere. A model of extreme purity and grace, the Clos St. Jacques leaves the room speechless, and understandably so. Here the fruit is impossibly sweet, perfumed and resonant. If there is one wine in this tasting that encapsulates what makes Burgundy so compelling, this is it. In a word: magnificent!”
Burghound 95 points “Moderate amounts of wood frames wonderfully fresh, airy, perfumed and beautifully complex aromas of red currant, warm earth, stone, crushed herbs and spice hints. The excellent depth of the nose continues onto the equally cool and brilliantly refined mineral-inflected medium-bodied flavors that possess outstanding depth of material and simply stunning length. We gave this an hour’s worth of air first and it helped enormously as it was quite closed at first. While I wouldn’t suggest opening a bottle now as there is sitll so much unrealized upside development potential remaining, if you do decide to pop one anytime soon, then be sure to decant it first for at least 30 minutes. In sum, this is a strikingly beautiful CSJ that should live for a very long time.”
Neal Martin-Wine Advocate 95-97 points “The 2010 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques flows across the palate with fabulous depth and richness. Dark red fruit, licorice, smoke and exotic spices all come together in the glass, while the intensity of the fruit covers every corner of the palate. This huge, powerful wine will require considerable patience, but it is impeccable, not to mention stunning in its beauty. Anticipated maturity: 2025-2045.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Lavaux Saint-Jacques, Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru 2012 750ML  $249 pre-arrival special, only 3 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 90-92 points
“Hard candy, sweet red berries and flowers are some of the notes found in the 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin Lavaux St. Jacques. Here it is the wine’e energy and brilliance that stand out most. My impression is that the 2012 will drink well pretty much upon release given its mid-weight personality.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “Tasted blind at the annual “Burgfest” tasting in Beaune. The 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques from Domaine Armand Rousseau has an intriguing bouquet, quite complex with subtle tertiary scents infiltrating the brambly red berry fruit. This is well defined, a little laconic at first but it grows in confidence, becomes less tight-lipped. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy tannin, a little disjointed at the moment and the oak needs time to assimilate. At the moment, the nose deserves a better palate, yet it will surely coalesce into a superior wine than it is at present.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru ‘Clos des Ruchottes’ Monopole, Cote de Nuits 2001 750ML  $799 pre-arrival special, only 1 bottle available
Burghound 89-92 points
“Wonderfully complex nose of plumy, intensely earthy fruit infused with subtle notes of truffle and dried herbs leading to bright, vibrant, medium weight, round and extremely pure flavors that are utterly delicious and seductive. The finish is solidly structured, rich, extremely elegant and pure with outstanding precision. I very much like this as it’s stylish yet with real substance.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Domaine Armand Rousseau Pere et Fils Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru ‘Clos des Ruchottes’ Monopole, Cote de Nuits 2005 750ML  $1,199 pre-arrival special, only 1 bottle available
Neal Martin-Wine Advocate 96 points
“The 2005 Clos des Ruchottes is far too young to approach at the moment and like many others, it appears to be closing up. Here, the aromatics are closed, broody and stubborn pre-arrival special, only reluctantly offering fleeting glimpses of black cherries, incense and minerals. The palate is very pure but distant at the moment, a prodigy without a tongue. But the signs are all here: a firm backbone, layer upon layer of fruit, but a wine that is more impressive than pleasurable at the moment. Got some in your cellar? Keep it there, you lucky thing. Drink 2020-2040+. Tasted September 2013.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

New Wine Spectator Insider Review

For a Vintage Port Classic in the Making

Arriving ETA November:
Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, Portugal 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 98 points “This is packed with raspberry, blackberry and blueberry fruit flavors that play off one another, melding with anise, fruitcake and ganache notes. A warm tarry edge coats the finish, revealing an echo of bramble. A seriously grippy, strapping Port, this revels in its power. Best from 2032 through 2055.”



Champagne Spotlight:

Marc Hebrart

“Again and again I confront these Champagnes, tasting them there with him, tasting them elsewhere with you, drinking them at home, and every time I’ve had them in my glass for the past several years I’ve found myself thinking ‘Does Champagne really get any better than this?’ “- Terry Theise

Jean Paul Hebrart has transformed his family domain from a reliable producer of tasty Champagne to a true powerhouse in very top tier of quality in the region.  These are wines that have a generosity and power that make them obviously great, in the best way possible.  They shake you by the shoulders and say “hey buddy, over here, this is what you should be paying attention to.” From the bottom to the top, Hebrart makes wines worthy of extra attention.

Arriving Later This Month:

Champagne Hebrart Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 91 points “Crushed cherry, slivered almond, pomegranate and lemon curd flavors are underscored by a streak of salinity in this creamy and balanced blanc de blancs Champagne.” [Review is for March 2017 disgorgement]

Champagne Hebrart Cuvee Reserve Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 92 points “Pretty floral and spice aromas lead to ripe crushed cherry and peach fruit flavors on the palate of this mouthwatering, elegant Champagne. Well-knit and lacy in texture, with toast, citrus and chalk accents lingering on the finish.” [Review is for Sept 2017 disgorgement]

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Champagne Hebrart Cuvee Rose Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Terry Theise note “At first quite Pinot before it breaks out into whorls and eddies and rivulets of almost indescribable complexity, paragraphs’ worth, as the osmanthus-scented Chard steps into the light. Only a slight—believe me, slight—brevity in the finish precludes the third plus. Another 100% Mareuil, and if you want to know why many people think this commune should be Grand Cru, you need only taste this one wine. The blend is, as always, complex. 55% CH from 2015 (zero grassiness!), 38.5% PN from 2014-2013, and 6.5% still PN made in cask, from 2014. I don’t repeat my “horny librarian” trope any more, apt though it was, but this is a wine that’s crazy-sexy and wants to show you how smart it is, or else crazy-smart and wants to show you how sexy it is.”

Champagne Hebrart Selection Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Champagne Hebrart Selection Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($29.95) $26 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 91 points “Rich and creamy in texture, with mouthwatering acidity providing a firm frame for flavors of glazed apricot, lemon pastry cream and candied ginger. Elegant and balanced, offering spice and floral accents on the finish.” [Review is for March 2017 disgorgement]

Champagne Hebrart Special Club Millesime Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2013 Brut Premier Cru Special Club Millesime offers a fresh and intense bouquet of ripe and stewed white fruits with a hint of butter. Pure, fresh, fine, ripe and intense on the palate, this is a very fruity but also pure and tensioned blend of 55% Pinot Noir from Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and 45% Chardonnay from Oiry and Chouilly. It has a fresh and aromatic but somewhat reductive finish. It needs time. Disgorged in August 2017 with a dosage of 6.5 grams per liter.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Peter Lauer

King of the Kupp
“For purists, there is nothing like the Saar. It is arguably one of the greatest, most unique wine-growing regions on earth. The core of greatness in the Saar is intensity without weight, grandiosity without size. Frank Schoonmaker put it best in his 1956 tome The Wines of Germany: “In these great and exceedingly rare wines of the Saar, there is a combination of qualities which I can perhaps best describe as indescribable – austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse, an incomparable bouquet, a clean, very attractive hardness tempered by a wealth of fruit and flavor which is overwhelming.”

“Yes, this is the Saar and Florian Lauer is currently one of the greatest winemakers in this sacred place.

“Florian’s general style is exactly the opposite of his famous Saar neighbors Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. At Lauer, the focus is on dry-tasting Rieslings as opposed to the residual sugar wines of the latter two. Employing natural-yeast fermentations, Lauer’s wines find their own balance. They tend to be more textural, deeper and more masculine. They have a preternatural sense of balance, an energy that is singular. Yet the hallmarks of the Saar are there: purity, precision, rigor, mineral.

“Florian’s playground is the breathtaking hillside of the Kupp, pictured above. Though the many vineyards of this mountain were unified (obliterated?) under the single name “Kupp” with the 1971 German wine law, it has been Florian’s life’s work to keep the old vineyard names alive, to keep these voices alive. He has been fighting this fight since his first vintage in 2005 and only with an update to the law in 2014 can he now legally use the older vineyard names such as Unterstenberg, Stirn, Kern and Neuenberg.” –Vom Boden

Arriving This Month:

“The most important category of Lauer wines we’ll call the “terroir” wines. These are the Rieslings that have made Lauer so famous. These wines eschew the whole Prädikat system (Kabinett, Spätlese, etc) completely. They ferment spontaneously with natural yeasts and thus they find their own balance. In most cases they have a bit more residual sugar than a purely dry wine, yet not nearly enough sugar to be considered sweet. Let’s call them dry-tasting to off dry. First, there is the appellation-level Barrel X. This is Lauer’s Platonic ideal of what a Saar Riesling should be. If we were in Burgundy this would be the equivalent of a Bourgogne Blanc. As an appellation-level wine, it is sourced from multiple vineyards in three different villages of the Saar. This is always a thrilling off-dry and a silly value.

“Next up the hierarchy is the “Senior.” While Lauer considers this a village-level wine (and prices it thusly), it is in fact a single-vineyard wine sourced completely from the Ayler Kupp. With an average vine age of around 70 years and a plethora of ungrafted vines, this is a wine that punches well above its price. Although there can be vintage variation, this wine is normally dry tasting.

“The remaining wines in this category, the bottles with the golden circles on the labels, are the “Grand Cru” terroir wines. What is important here is the vineyard site: Unterstenberg, Stirn, Kern and Neuenberg. Each of these vineyards has its unique voice. Taste Unterstenberg next to Stirn. The difference in distance is only 300 feet, yet the wines are night and day.” –Vom Boden

Peter Lauer ‘Kern’ Fass 9 Ayler Kupp Riesling, Mosel 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival 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 only listing in the USA today!

Peter Lauer ‘Neuenberg’ Fass 17 Riesling, Mosel2017 750ML ($59.95) $46 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 93-94 points “Still a bit compact and monolithic, but there’s excellent ripeness. A long finish with cool, wet stones and lemons. Better from 2019, but it also shows long-term aging potential.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92-93 points “The 2017 Ayler Kupp Neuenberg Riesling “Fass 17″ offers a deep, pure and flinty bouquet with floral and stony aromas and beautiful mineral freshness. Piquant and lush on the palate, this is a light to medium-bodied, very pure and mineral Riesling with refreshing acidity. The wine has a stimulatingly grippy finish with lush tropical fruit in the aftertaste. Excellent. Tasted March 2018.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “The 2017er Ayler Kupp Neuenberg Fass 17 comes from this prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, central part of the original Kupp and was fermented down to just off-dry levels (13 g/l of residual sugar). It offers a slightly ripe nose made of mirabelle, vineyard peach, apricot blossom, gooseberry and a hint of licorice wrapped into some herbs and smoky slate. The wine develops the presence of a dry-tasting Auslese with great tension between spicy flavors and a creamy structure on the palate. The finish is multi-layered, smooth, delicately zesty and hugely complex. A hint of power in the after-taste is still in need of integration. 2020-2032.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Peter Lauer ‘Stirn’ Fass 15 Ayler Kupp Riesling, Mosel 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 95 points “Not for the faint of heart, this has a magical nose of dew-laden herbs and wet stones. A breathtakingly balance of bright mineral acidity, juicy citrus and a slew of herbal character. Amazing intensity at the finish. Better from 2019, but it should hold for a couple of decades.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Stirn Fass 15 comes from the prime south-west-facing, upper-front part of the original Ayler Kupp hill and was fermented down to almost fruity levels (40 g/l of residual sugar). This offers a gorgeous nose of candied grapefruit zest, greengage, mirabelle, herbs and spices. The wine develops the full fruity vibrancy of a light Spätlese on the mouthwatering palate, where zesty acidity mingles with gorgeous citrusy fruits and a nice touch of fruity sweetness. A floral side adds to the elegance and vibrancy of the finish. The after-taste is tart and driven by candied grapefruit and delicately bitter lemon. This only needs a few years to integrate its sweetness and shine. 2022-2037.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp “Unterstenberg”Fass 12 Riesling, Mosel 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 94 points “Smoky, but also packed with nectarine and peach aromas. Although this is a concentrated and powerful wine, it shows so much vitality that there’s no hint of heaviness. A long, complete finish with great mineral freshness. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Ayler Kupp Unterstenberg Fass 12 comes from this prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, front part of the original Kupp and was fermented down to just off-dry levels (13 g/l of residual sugar). It develops a gorgeous nose made of delicately creamy notes of mirabelle, grapefruit, greengage, herbs and spices. The wine is gorgeously complex, silky and multi-layered on the palate and leaves a stunning feel of tart fruits and minerals in the long and persistent finish. A gorgeous floral side emerges in the after-taste and freshens up the whole experience. This beautiful piece of dry-tasting Riesling only needs a little bit of bottle age to shine. 2020-2032.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92-93 points “From the bottom of the Kupp, so on deeper slate soils, and bottled with 12 grams of residual sugar, the 2017 Ayler Kupp Unterstenberg “Fass 12″ has a clear and aromatic bouquet with clayey slate and refreshing citrus aromas. Piquant, pure and fresh on the palate, this is a lush and round yet dry and mineral Riesling with a long, aromatic, powerful yet finessed finish with salty and mouthwatering minerals. Tasted March 2018.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Fass 2 Riesling Extra Trocken, Mosel 2017 750ML ($31.95) $26 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 91-92 points “Although this is a serious Saar riesling for the acid hounds, it has plenty of smoky and candied-citrus character. Generous substance, too. Better from 2019.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Peter Lauer Senior Fass 6 Riesling, Mosel 2017 750ML ($29.95) $24 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 93 points “A stunning medium-bodied dry riesling that’s brimming with herbal aromas. It also has a great structure. A long and intense finish with a pronounced wet-stone character. Better from 2019, but you can also hold and wait.”

Peter Lauer ‘Barrel X’ Saar Riesling, Mosel 2017 750ML ($24.95) $19 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

“When the vintage allows it, Florian will craft Prädikat wines, the Kabinetts, Spät and Auslesen that we all know and once loved. As the focus of Lauer’s production is clearly on the dry and dry-tasting wines, the Prädikat wines are only made when the vintage is perfect for such wines. It is possible to have a vintage with only a Kabinett, or only a Spätlese. In nearly all cases, these wines are sourced from the Kupp and represent in fact a pre-selection of grapes. In other words, Lauer selects out the grapes that are ripening too quickly, or showing botrytis for these wines. The remaining grapes are left on the vine for the drier wines.” –Vom Boden

Peter Lauer Fass 8 Ayler Kupp Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2017 750ML ($34.95) $28 pre-arrival special
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Ayler Kupp Kabinett Fass 8 was made from fruit harvested at a comparatively low 80° Oechsle on the original Kupp hill. It offers a superb nose of candied grapefruit, lemon zest, cassis, white flowers and chalky minerals, all wrapped into some residual scents from its spontaneous fermentation. The wine develops the presence of a beautiful Spätlese but with the light-footed and focused structure of a Kabinett on the palate. The finish is vibrant, pure, precise, fruit-driven and above all incredibly persistent and deliciously fruity and tart. This stunning expression of fruity Riesling will prove irresistible at maturity. 2027-2042.”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 92 points “A strong Kabinett but also a very vibrant one. This has wonderful lemony freshness at the long finish. A great wine for spicy food. Drink now or in 2019 and 2020.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Peter Lauer Lambertskirch Kabinett, Saar 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 94 points “If you ever wondered what a bolt of lightning would taste like, try this one. It is the equivalent of that in the form of Saar riesling. In spite of generous analytical sweetness, dangerously fresh and mineral with an almost dry finish. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Ayler Lambertskirch Kabinett Fass 14 was made from fruit harvested at a comparatively low 79° Oechsle in this steep, south-east facing Lieu-Dit overseeing the Saar. It offers a complex nose of pear, ripe apple, grapefruit and slate, all wrapped into a hint of whipped cream. The wine is deliciously pure and delicately zesty on the grapefruit puree and ginger infused palate. The finish develops the full presence of a light Spätlese, but does this with great focus and by leaving one with a gorgeous tart-sweet feel in the after-taste. This is a great fruity-styled wine in the making. 2027-2042.”

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

Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Fass 7 Riesling Spatlese, Mosel 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Mosel Fine Wines 95 points “The 2017er Ayler Kupp Spätlese Fass 23 develops a magnificent nose of grapefruit, yellow peach, pineapple, pear, ginger, herbs, slate and spices. It proves still rather backward on the gorgeously light-footed but intense palate and leaves an elegant and superbly balanced feel in the very long finish. This is a stunner in the making but one which will need some time to integrate all its elements. 2027-2047.”
Stuart Pigott – JamesSuckling.com 94 points “Exotic and creamy with a touch of floral honey. The balance of grape sweetness and vibrant acidity is spot on. A long and expressive finish. Drink or hold.”

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

3x 100 Points!

Perfect From All Sides

2015 Canon

Arriving ETA May:

Chateau Canon, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015 750ML ($399.95) $349 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 100 points “From the very beginning, the 2015 Canon has made an eloquent case for itself as one of the wines of the vintage. Multiple tastings from bottle only confirm what several early tastings hinted at: the 2015 Canon is simply extraordinary in every way. Sumptuous and exotic, with no hard edges and exceptional balance, the 2015 grabs hold of all the senses and never lets up. A rush of red fruit intermingled with floral notes, spice and smoke notes effortlessly runs up the wine’s vertical structure as the 2015 thrills with every twist and turn. The 2015 Canon is a rare wine that is both hedonistic and intellectual – well, maybe it is a bit more hedonistic-leaning. It doesn’t matter. Don’t miss it. This 2015 is masterpiece from General Manager Nicolas Auderbert and his team at Canon.”
Neal Martin 100 points “The 2015 Canon was a benchmark wine that seemed to revitalize this historic estate. I was crossing my fingers that it would not disappoint in bottle and I am glad to say that it delivers the goods. It has a very intense bouquet (just as it showed out of barrel) with laser-like precision offering wild strawberry, raspberry preserve, wet limestone and hints of truffle. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, clean and fresh with pure black and red fruit whose every atom appears infused with minerals. The mouth is tingling long after the wine has exited and your brain is thinking…when is the next sip coming? It is frankly heads and shoulders above almost every Saint Émilion this vintage, to reaffirm, a benchmark for this historic estate that will give pleasure to many over the coming years. Astonishing.”
James Suckling 100 points “Seductive. The nose draws you in deep: It’s like staring into a well of pristine dark cherries, dark plums, blackberries and mulberries. All the oak is perfectly subsumed. The palate’s flawless with immense depth and power and it’s so balanced as to appear to float. Immaculate fresh dark-berry and plum flavors. Silky and deep, ribbon-like finish. Perfect. Best from 2022.”

Thanks for reading!