Monday Newsletter 1-20-2020

In This Newsletter:

Hidden Treasures of the Rhone

Staff Pick
Willi Schaefer 2016s

Collector’s Corner



Hidden Treasures of the Rhone

When you read the words “Southern Rhone” you probably think of Chateauneuf du Pape: rocky fields or hills that are warm and produce big, rich wines.  What if we told you there was an unexplored area of the Rhone which looked different but also produced powerful wines which were undervalued because of their home turf?

The Ventoux is a massive swath of the Rhone, east of the river and on the other side of the Dentelles from Gigondas.  It sits between the heart of the Southern Rhone and Provence, and the wines have that wild, slightly untamed character that you often find in wines from the mountainous regions of Provence.  Furthermore, Ventoux is attracting some top-tier talent because of the affordability of its vineyard land.  Old vines on interesting soils are still available here, so young, driven winemakers are increasingly leaving Chateauneuf and Gigondas to striking out on their own in Ventoux.

We’re highlighting three top class producers today, all of whose wines deserve your attention.  These are all excellent values (even at the top end!) because they lack more glamourous names for their AOC.  Savvy shoppers would do well to pay attention to these and stock up while they can. These won’t be an insider secret for long.

St. Jean du Barroux

The wines Philippe Gimel makes under the St. Jean du Barroux label are fantastic and unique.  He was able to buy a touch over 12 hectares of old, interesting vineyards in Ventoux—something he’d never to be able to afford in a more prestigious part of the Rhone. These old vines, combined with long elevage in neutral vessels, mean these read as very “old school” in tone, but with cleaner flavors and vivid aromatics.  The earliest released of his wines sees 18 months in tank before release and his top bottlings are held for two to three years before they’re bottled—a cash flow nightmare, but something that Gimel does out of a perfectionist drive common to the best winemakers in the world.

In Stock Now:

Saint Jean du Barroux L’Argile, Ventoux 2016 750ML ($29.95) $26 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Decanter 94 points
“Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault. Yields 20hl/ha, hand-harvested and 75% destemmed. Light reduction on the nose calls for a decant. Gently serrated tannic weave, with taut, juicy acidity and a saline dimension that spreads across the palate like an electric current. Real intensity of searching fruit flavour and a textured finish. It’s about texture and feel at this stage – aromatic fireworks to follow in time. drinking Window 2019 – 2026.”
Importer Note “After working at Chateau Beaucastel and Domaine de la Janasse Philippe Gimel purchased 12.5 hectares of vines in the unheralded Ventoux. After years of working in abject penury devoting his energies into organic farming, tending his vines by hand and working (and living!) out of a makeshift cellar Philippe is beginning to get the attention that his talent and hard work deserves. The rocky clay soils of his vineyards are devoted to producing a wine he calls l’Argile which is a blend of Grenache and Syrah with small proportions of Carignan and Cinsault. Thoroughly old school, he ferments and ages his wine in concrete tanks for a very long time before bottling – in the cases of L’Argile, at least two years. Naturally he also waits to release the wines after an additional time in bottle; when he feels they are drinking well.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $29

Saint Jean du Barroux La Source, Ventoux 2016 750ML ($24.95) $19.50 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Saint Jean du Barroux Ventoux La Source, Rhone 2016 750ML ($299.95) $219 special (that’s only $18.25/bottle!)
Importer Note
“The name La Source, comes from the natural artesian spring located near the vineyards of Saint Jean du Barroux. Philippe’s approach to farming encourages low yields but there are scattered pockets of more vigorous vines which set more clusters with larger berries. Rather than drop fruit or try to force these vines to crop lower yields, they are harvested separately and used to make a more fruit-forward and frank expression of Philippe’s terroir. Harvested by hand and destemmed, this cuvée which is naturally lower in tannin only sees a short maceration and fermentation by indigenous yeasts. It is bottled “early” by Philippe’s standards usually after 18 months in tank.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Saint Jean du Barroux La Pierre Noire, Ventoux 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Importer Note
“La Pierre Noire, or “the black stone,” is a cuvée made from Grenache and Syrah grown on clay limestone soils marked by abrupt appearance of black gravel. So sudden and noticeable is this change in the vineyard that Philippe has always known that this site was its own cuvée. At once more stern but contradictorily more elegant, La Pierre Noire is fermented and aged in concrete for at least 36 months before bottling and released only when Philippe feels it’s ready.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Chateau Pesquie

If Ventoux has a Grand Name, it would be Chateau Pesquie. That’s quite a feat for a winery that was founded 31 years ago, but it speaks both to the quality of their wines and the emerging nature of Ventoux as an appellation.  These are bold wines that manage the trick of being rich, ripe and seductive without a veneer of new oak—they should please both classicists and modern drinkers alike.  We’re lucky enough to have built a vertical of Pesquie’s “Artemia,” a cuvee they only produce in absolutely top vintages.  The ’16 and ’17 are both stunning wines that will blossom with more age and the older vintages are in glorious form right now.  

In Stock Now:

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
“A blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache that saw roughly 20% stems and a year in 50% new, larger format oak, the 2017 Artemia has a Côte Brune-like perfume of dark fruits, smoked meats, black olives, and chocolate. Full-bodied, smoky, meaty, and powerful, it’s another rock star of a Syrah from the Chaudière family that has incredible character.”
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “A tank sample of the 2017 Ventoux Artemia looked promising, although a bit different in character from previous vintages. It’s 75% Syrah and only 25% Grenache, with peppery, cool-climate Syrah notes, blueberryish fruit, ample weight and a clean, crisp, lively finish.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2016 750ML ($299.95) $219 special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Decanter-World Wine Awards 97 points
“This is stacked with the black fruits of the region, plus violets, thyme, lavender, dried herbs and tannins that are ripe and of the appropriate proportion. Still very youthful and will flourish with time in bottle. Modern and very classy indeed. Genius wine, very long and intense, its purity magnificent.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Made from equal parts Syrah and Grenache, the 2016 Ventoux Cuvee Artemia is another terrific vintage for this cuvee. Still young, backward and unevolved, it has tons of potential in its blue fruits, graphite, crushed rock and violet-tinged aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated, with terrific purity of fruit, and fine, building tannin, it needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will keep for a decade or more.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “A 50-50 blend of Grenache and Syrah, aged in 50% new oak, the 2016 Ventoux Artemia is a tremendous effort. It combines blueberries and stone fruit with cedary notes and then underscores those attractive aromas and flavors with a full-bodied, velvety texture and a bright, crisp finish. Lovely stuff.”

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2014 750ML ($49.95) $33 special, 19 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 92 points
“A seriously good 2014 that’s always a mix of equal parts Grenache and Syrah, the 2014 Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee Artemia was showing beautifully on this occasion, even though it had just been bottled a few weeks ago. Possessing a finesse-driven, elegant, moderately concentrated, yet sexy style, with tons of black raspberry, violets and spice, it’s ideal for drinking in its youth while you wait on the more structured, concentrated vintages to get some bottle age.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2009 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 96 points
“[Reviewed Oct 2016] Shockingly good, the 2009 Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee Artemia is in the top handful of wines I’ve tasted from this appellation. Just insanely perfumed, with tons of incense, Provencal herbs, garrigue, smoked meats and violets, this full-bodied beauty has a stacked mid-palate, building, sweet tannin and a killer finish. Hello beautiful, why didn’t I buy more of you.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Artemia, Rhone 2007 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 97 points
“[Reviewed Oct 2016] While I questioned if the 2009 Artemia was the greatest wine I’d tasted from Ventoux in my notes, I know for a fact the 2007 Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee Artemia is the greatest wine I’ve tasted from the estate, and the appellation! A wine that would stand toe to toe with some of the greatest Chateauneuf du Papes out there, this utterly profound Ventoux offers awesome aromatics of incense, blackberries, crushed flowers, licorice and cured meats. Pure, full-bodied, silky and weightless, yet packed with character and flavor, it’s a truly sensational wine that readers shouldn’t miss!”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Ascensio, Rhone 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“Mostly Grenache (5% Syrah) made with 30% stems, brought up all in concrete, the 2016 Ventoux Ascensio sports an inky purple color as well as sensational notes of blackberries, plums, licorice, violets, and crushed rocks. It’s deep, full-bodied, pure, and primordial, with ample tannin and a great finish. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age but is blockbuster stuff.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Terrasses, Rhone 2016 750ML ($17.95) $14.75 special
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points
“A year in, year out no-brainer is the Terrasses cuvee from this estate, and the 2016 Ventoux Terrasses is no exception. A blend of 70/30 Grenache and Syrah, it offers a terrific perfume of black cherries, wild herbs, dried flowers, and spice. This gives way to a plum, sexy, beautifully textured red that has surprising minerality, medium-bodied depth and richness and fine tannin. I finished a case of the 2005 just last year, and it was still going strong, so while there’s no need to cellar bottle, it will keep nicely for 7-8 years.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “A bit more “serious” than the Edition 1912M, the 2016 Ventoux Terrasses delivers what longtime admirers have come to expect from the estate: ample fruit, complexity, weight and charm. Peppered raspberries and hints of garrigue drive the wine from start to finish, bolstered by fine, silky tannins and balanced acids. This solid value blend of Grenache and Syrah should drink well for 4-5 years from vintage.”

Domaine de Fondreche

If you love big, powerful red wines and you’ve never had the top wines of Domaine de Fondreche, you need to rectify that situation soon.  These are some of the gutsiest, most expressive wines in the Rhone, with incredible critical praise and a price tag that’s equivalent to mid-tier CdP.  From their mostly Syrah “Divergente,” which puts a lot of $80 Hermitage to shame, to their “Il Etait Une Fois,” a Chateauneuf destroyer, their wines represent excellent values and compelling drinking experiences. Because of the obscurity of Ventoux, these aren’t as expensive as they probably should be, despite a multitude of scores in the high 90’s for their wines (case in point, 97 and 95 for the pair today)

Arriving ETA March:

Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Divergente, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Divergente, Rhone 2016 750ML ($419.95) $333 pre-arrival special (that’s only $55.50/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points
“Reminding me of one of the Sélections Parcellaires Hermitage from Michel Chapoutier, the 2016 Ventoux Divergente is 90% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre that was mostly destemmed and brought up in foudre. Crème de cassis, black raspberries, peppered meats, graphite, and liquid rock notes all flow to a fat, unctuous, sexy Syrah that has beautiful acidity, fine tannin, and a huge finish. It’s a true “Wow” wine that needs to be tasted to be believed. Put this in a blind lineup of top Hermitage and shock all your friends.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “Less immediately showy and approachable than the 2016 Persia, the 2016 Ventoux Divergente is tight and focused, deserving of a couple of years in the cellar. Smoke, black olive and plum notes dominate this full-bodied wine, picking up hints of espresso on the long, tannic finish.-JC”

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

Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Il Etait une Fois, Rhone 2016 750ML ($59.95) $46 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“The flagship is the 2016 Ventoux Il Etais Une Fois, which is mostly Grenache with tiny amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre brought up all in foudre. Violets, red and black fruits, spice, and dried earth/limestone minerality all give way to an elegant, medium to full-bodied Grenache that gains depth, freshness, and purity with time in the glass. It has fine, building tannin, a seamless texture, and a great, beautiful finish. Over the previous few years, the quality of this cuvée has soared, and this is one of the finest to date.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “Coming in at the top end of the range I projected for it last year, the stunning 2016 Ventoux Il Etait Une Fois is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah. It’s a voluptuous, full-bodied mix of black cherries and subtle spice notes, all carried by a seamless, plush, creamy-textured palate through a long, concentrated finish. Wow.-JC”

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

Shop our extensive Southern Rhone selections on our web store!
Staff Pick

Willi Schaefer 2016s

It remains mind-blowing to me that we still have two 2016 Willi Schaefer Spatlesen on the shelf.  Schaefer is one of my absolute favorite producers—and I’m far from alone.  The allocations are always one of the smallest we get and the wines often sell out quickly, which makes sense—the entire estate is only 4.2 hectares, small enough that the family can work it themselves.  Now, the ’17’s came and went in a flash (yields were down 50%) but it seems like no one (other than me) has been back-filling ’16’s so far.  Y’all should change that soon.

2016 is one of the most charming, delightful vintages in recent memory in the Mosel.  The wines are not big and bombastic nor screamingly acidic, but they seem to have a harmony and balance that makes them perfect for drinking now and over the short term (relatively—let’s say over the next 20 years).  It’s a vintage that played right into Schaefer’s hands, as well.  They value purity and precision in their wines and the three bottlings I’m highlighting are absolutely brilliant bottles of Spatlese.

Graach, where these hail from, is a grand cru village of the Mosel, home to beautifully exposed, blue slate vineyards.  They show more white and green fruited than Wehlen or Piesport’s orangey tones, which mean that in a year like this, they’re absolutely perfect.  Terry Theise describes the #10 (the crunchier, more mineral bottling compared to the dramatic #5) as smelling “like a roomful of hyacinths and one quince with attitude. [And tasting like] Stones and salts and a vein of iron.”  I couldn’t say it better myself and you owe it to yourself to see what we’re talking about.

In Stock Now:

Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($44.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points
“Scents of ripe pear and pineapple garlanded in heliotrope set the stage for a polished, subtly creamy palate performance at once luscious, invigoratingly tangy, and loaded with seductive inner-mouth perfume. I thought the corresponding Kabinett exquisitely delicate, but this Spätlese seems virtually weightless. The lingering finish is almost like an inhalation of flowers and wet stone, save for the tingling impingement of pear skin, a faint tang of pineapple core and a nip of cress. I sense that I may be in the minority, but I perceive 2016 as one of those vintages chez Schaefer where Himmelreich gives Domprobst a very serious run for its money.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese is clear and precise on the deep and flinty nose that also shows some floral aromas. Round, lush and sweet on the palate, with delicate acidity and lingering salinity, this is an elegant and already very accessible Spätlese with a very fine, aromatic, mineral, piquant and salty finish. A classic.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #10, Mosel 2016 750ML ($44.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2016 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese (AP #10) is one of three Spätlesen that were selected in 2016. The wine has a very clear and smoky bouquet of perfectly ripe, healthy Riesling berries and yellow-fleshed stone fruits. Round, lush and piquant, this is a very elegant and stimulating Spätlese with lingering, mouthwatering salinity. The wine is complex but not all too intellectual. It has a ripe but coolish-elegant character with a long, well-structured finish.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “Golden Delicious apple and honeydew melon draped in hyacinth make for an imposingly ripe nose and a luscious, perfumed, seductively silken-textured palate. A cooling hint of wintergreen and a gentle nip of apple skin add appeal to a soothingly and refreshingly lingering finish.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $49

Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #5, Mosel 2016 750ML ($54.95) $49 special, 17 bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points
“Ripe apple and pear garlanded in honeysuckle entice the nose, accompanied by high-toned suggestions of almond and pistachio extracts. A subtly creamy palate displays luscious fruit, heady inner-mouth perfume and rich nuttiness. There is less counterpoint or refreshment here than in the corresponding A.P. #10, but greater opulence has not precluded a delectable sense of delicacy, and the seductively soothing, superbly sustained finish offers a reassuring whisper of wet stone.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese (AP #5) has a lovey clear, piquant and still reductive nose that indicates tremendous complexity and richness. Round, super lush and elegant on the palate, this is a beautifully balanced and harmonious Spätlese that has an even riper and more textured character compared to the Spätlese #10.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “This offers a gorgeous nose of slightly yellow fruits, ginger and earthy spices. The wine proves quite lively and nicely focused on the palate, with zesty acidity driving the aromatic profile. The wine is nicely elegant and well balanced in the focused and yellow peach infused finish. This is a gorgeous Spätlese in the making. 2026-2041”

Did you know Vinopolis offers one of the largest selection of in stock German Rieslings in the country?

Shop all 392 selections on our web store!

Collector’s Corner


Delamotte is best known as the more affordable arm of Salon—the original luxury-collectible single vineyard Blanc de Blancs from Le Mesnil.  While that’s understandable, it tends to ignore the fact that Delamotte is a Champagne house of note in its own right (it’s much easier for other merchants to shout “Salon for Cheap” than to sell the Champagne on its own merit).  If one were making a case for Delamotte as a great producer on their own, you could look no further than their “Collection” wines.

These are the peak of the Delamotte range, held on the lees longer and disgorged late to capture the full glory of mature Champagne.  They have the racy brightness of their Cote de Blancs origins balanced against toasty, rich flavors that only come with age.  The best comparison for these wines might be Bollinger’s “RD” series, except that Bollinger always works from a place of power and Delamotte from elegance and finesse.

The only challenge with these wines is finding them—they’re extremely rare and so when we discover a parcel of them, we jump on it as quickly as we can.  We’ve managed to secure a few different vintages, which just arrived, and lovers of the finest Champagnes shouldn’t hesitate to put these on their tables ASAP.

In Stock Now:

Delamotte Collection Brut, Champagne 1999 750ML ($249.95) $219 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 94 points
“From a very warm and generous year, the 1999 Blanc de Blancs Collection (disgorged in October 2015) offers a rich and intense bouquet of ripe Chardonnay and buttercup. Rich, super ripe and intense, but also precise on the palate, this is a full-bodied, complex, mineral and fresh Champagne. It is very well-defined and even finesse-full, with great tension. This is at perfect maturity. It is a simply a great vintage Champagne that has been produced only in the vintages of 1964, 1970, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1990, 1999, 2000 and 2002.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “Flavors of baked plum, lemon preserves, biscotti and crystallized honey are enlivened and focused by well-cut acidity that firms this harmonious Champagne. Lacy in texture and fresh, with a zesty finish of delicate spice and mineral details. Disgorged 2018. Drink now through 2024. 25 cases imported.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 1999 Brut Vintage (Collection) is a gorgeous wine that will especially please readers who enjoy Champagnes with the nuance that develops with time in bottle. Apricot jam, orange peel, hazelnut, dried flowers and lightly honeyed notes all develop in a rich, burnished Champagne endowed with tons of nuance intermingled with the freshness that Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs expresses so eloquently. Certainly, the 1999 is a bit rustic relative to recent vintages here, but it nevertheless offers fine drinking.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Delamotte Collection Brut, Champagne 2000 750ML ($249.95) $219 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Delamotte Collection Brut, Champagne 2000 1.5L ($599.95) $499 special, 10 magnums in stock now

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Delamotte Collection Brut, Champagne 2002 750ML ($249.95) $228 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Delamotte Collection Brut, Champagne 2002 1.5L ($599.95) $499 special, 3 magnums in stock now
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2002 Blanc de Blancs Millésimé Collection is showing superbly, bursting from the glass with aromas of lemon curd, lime zest, white flowers, praline and walnut oil. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, ample and fleshy, with muscular structuring extract, incisive acids and a long, complex finish. This is a beautifully complete, expressive vintage Delamotte that is beginning to drink well.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Additional noteworthy & mature Champagne, just arrived and in stock now:

Duval-Leroy Femme de Champagne 2000 1.5L ($349.95) $299 special, 33 magnums in stock now
Wine Spectator 94 points
“A rich version, with beautiful integration and mouthwatering acidity that seems to amplify the flavors of toasted raisin bread, black currant, candied orange zest and salted almond. Fresh and focused, showing hints of oyster shell and spice on the lasting finish.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Pommery Cuvee Louise Brut Millesime, Champagne 2002 750ML ($149.95) $128 special, 32 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 95 points
“This well-aged wine from a top Champagne vintage is just now ready to drink after 12 years. It has a touch of toast, but it’s the rich, complex texture and fine structure that set it apart. It’s not a dry wine, it feels soft. It is so well integrated, elegant with hints of apples, a layer of minerality and still-fresh final acidity.”
James Suckling 94 points “A beautifully seductive and creamy nose with plenty of honey and clotted cream across lemon and grapefruit. Some white peach too, really alluring. The palate’s nicely orchestrated and balanced; it builds in stages and delivers pithy lemon and grapefruit flavor amid assertive driving acidity, good depth and concentration. Another great ’02. Drink now or in five or more years.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2002 Cuvée Louise Brut is dressed in an intense citrus colored robe and offers – as if it was a Pfalz Riesling – ripe yellow fruit aromas of pineapples, oranges and ripe peaches along with noble yeasty layers in the background. Full-bodied, rich and fresh on the palate, Madame Louise is a firm and almost mineral structured, persistent Champagne of complexity, finishing with a refreshing citric aroma as well as a stimulating salinity and purity. Good length and balance.”

De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Extra Brut Rose Millesime, Champagne 2002 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Harmonious, with fine intensity, offering rich notes of spice cake, toasted almond, dried cherry, grilled plum and smoky mineral. Almost velvety in texture, with juicy acidity that brings you back for another sip. Delicious. Drink now through 2022. 54 cases made.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $200

Shop our complete selection of 156 Champagnes in stock and on the way on our web store!


This is one of the best under-$30 Malbecs we’ve seen.
Luca Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina 2016 750ML ($39.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
#42 – Top Cellar Selections in 2018 – Wine Enthusiast
Wine Enthusiast 94 points
“Cellar Selection. Pure berry and cassis aromas are concentrated and show no holes. This Uco Valley Malbec feels pure, direct and linear, albeit with slightly scratchy tannins that should dissipate in due time. Blackberry and dry spice flavors finish full and grabby, with muscularity. Drink through 2028.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $30

“If you ever wondered what a bolt of lightning would taste like, try this one”-Stuart Pigott
Peter Lauer Lambertskirch Kabinett, Saar 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott – James Suckling 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 in the USA today!
The next best price is $35.99

Brilliant Syrah from one of N. America’s masters of the grape.
Pax Castelli-Knight Ranch Syrah, Russian River Valley 2015 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 22 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“The 2015 Syrah Castelli-Knight Ranch is sensual, open-knit and quite inviting. Blood orange, star anise and spice add gorgeous aromatic nuance to the rich, layered fruit. Ample, silky and creamy, the 2015 is a real pleasure to taste today. The combination of a north-facing site with a warm microclimate yields a wonderfully complete and nuanced wine. All the elements simply fall into place in a refined, gracious Syrah that will drink well upon release.”
Winery Note “Our 15th Vintage working with this exceptional site and the exceptional people that own the vineyard and farm the land. The bright orange Haire Clay soils that cling to the slopes of this site are a godsend in warm dry vintages like 2015.  Black pepper and intense black currants hold down the deep and brooding aromas. Brown spices, pink peppercorn, blackberries and black cherries show up with air. This Syrah is dense and concentrated but lifted by natural acidity and firm aromas and flavors from the stems. Not quite as fleshy as the 2012 (in a good way), but very enjoyable and approachable on release and guaranteed to improve in your cellar like every other Castelli-Knight Ranch before it.”

Champagne is an all year beverage and Coutier’s BdB is a stellar wine.
R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 92 points
“Coutier’s NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is bright, focused and nuanced, not to mention incredibly delicious. The energy of Chardonnay and structure of Ambonnay yield a Champagne that is singular, classy and bursting at the seams with character. This release is based on 2016, with 40% reserve wines. I would give it another 6-12 months in bottle, although, truthfully, it is pretty hard to resist now. Dosage: 6.5 gr/L. Disgorged: July, 2019.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $47

Bold and powerful Gros’ Noré might be making the best reds in Bandol.
Domaine du Gros’ Nore Bandol, Provence 2016 750ML ($49.95) $33 special, 32 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93 points
“One of my favorite 2016s, Gros Noré’s 2016 Bandol is a complex, savory offering with at least 15 years of life ahead of it. Dark, plummy fruit picks up notes of mocha, roasted meat and mushrooms on the medium to full-bodied palate. Rich and velvety from start to long, long finish, this is nice, nice stuff, a blend of 80% Mourvèdre with 15% Grenache and 5% Cinsault aged in foudres.”
Importer Note “A visit with Alain Pascal in La Cadière d’Azur in June confirmed that his vintage 2016 rouge is one that will grace my California table often. Most likely as Jim Harrison might have enjoyed it, with copious quantities of crushed garlic and red meat (wild game, if I can get my hands on some—my southern roots are distant out here in California—I need to find someone who will trade me hunting rights for wine!). Alain’s largely whole-cluster Mourvèdre in 2016 is a dark beauty, a tapenade of black olives infused with wild southern herbs, earth, and stones, with a glorious tannin that shows no aggression.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $39.98

A stellar value for a bistro-style Chinon that’s perfect refreshment from winter fare.
Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches, Loire 2016 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Case-12 Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches, Loire 2016 750ML ($359.95) $219 special (that’s only $18.25/bottle—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Domaine Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches, Loire 2016 1.5L ($59.95) $49 special, 3 magnums in stock now
Importer Note
“When Charles Joguet took over the family vineyards in 1957, he set out to do something that was unheard of in the Loire Valley. Rather than blending all the fruit from his varied parcels, he opted for a more Burgundian approach and began vinifying each individually, highlighting Chinon’s diversity of soils and exposures and playing with the nuances of vine age to propose a gamut of different wines of unique character. It is in this spirit that the domaine’s current vigneron, Kevin Fontaine, crafts the cuvée Les Petites Roches, named for the estate’s gravelly terroirs. Given light treatment in the cellar, this wine shows off Cabernet in its most delicate, charming form, rife with aromas of roses, damp earth, and little red berries, along with a gentle tannin holding it all together. This classic representation of Cabernet Franc from Chinon can be enjoyed over the next five or so years with roast chicken, pork chops, or game.”

This is the only listing for a magnum in the USA today!

The best version of this we’ve tasted in…ever? Which is saying something for this value champ.
Crowley Chardonnay, Willamette Valley 2018 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 11 bottles in stock now
This wine is 100% from the Four Winds vineyard, a cool site in the coastal foothills.  This year’s bottling includes some of the new Draper clone in the mix and which seems to give it a touch more power to go along with the customary brightness and vibrancy.  Another don’t-miss vintage of one the best values in WV Chard.

This is the only listing in the USA today!

The ’11 Brunellos continue to delight and Lisini
Lisini Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG, Tuscany 2011 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 94+ points
“I have not seen a Riserva from Lisini for a while, so this wine comes as a pleasant surprise. The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva takes us back to one of the warmest vintages in re-cent memory. However, this wine holds nicely with plenty of lush primary fruit to keep it smelling and tasting younger than its years. Dark cherry and dried blackberry rise to the top. Soon to follow are layers of spice and sweet tobacco. The mouthfeel is thickly layered but vel-vety smooth all the while”.

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $73

Thank you for reading!