Monday Newsletter – 10-21-19

In Today’s Newsletter:

2008 La Grande Dame
Veuve Clicquot’s Top Wine in a Top Vintage

2016 Masseto Arrives This Friday

K Vintners

Staff Pick


Beautiful Beaujolais:
New Reviews from Josh Raynolds of Vinous Media

Carl Loewen:
New Grapelive Review

Vincent Girardin

The Fastest Rising Star in Burgundy
Clos de la Chapelle

2008 La Grande Dame

Veuve Clicquot’s Top Wine in a Top Vintage

“To me, [2008] is one of the best of the last 20 to 30 years” – Dominique Demarville, Chef de Cave of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardan

The 2008 La Grande Dame looks to be a classic, and lovers of the style will want to stock up. It is the top vintage since the ’02 (and possibly since ’96—only time will tell).  2008 was a smaller harvest than normal (see: the pitifully small quantity of 2008 Salon, for example), yet yielded exceptionally high quality wines and so it seems unlikely this vintage will be offered for as long as the ’06 or ’04. The Wine Spectator was enamored by the vintage, interviewing Demarville for a special feature on 2008 Champagnes:

“Advocates for 2008 include Veuve Clicquot’s chef de cave Dominique Demarville. ‘2008 is a year I love, very much,” says Demarville. “I’m not sure I’ll have another possibility in my career to have such a vintage. To me, it is one of the best of the last 20 to 30 years.’ Demarville took a dramatic leap in 2008, shifting to an almost entirely Pinot Noir–dominant blend for Veuve Clicquot’s tête de cuvée label, La Grande Dame. The 2008 is 95 percent Pinot Noir, while the 2006 was only 53 percent (with the rest Chardonnay). The 2008 La Grande Dame (95, $150) shines for its sculpted frame of acidity and minerality finely dressed in a lovely range of black currant and spice notes.” -Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator, 12/2018

Snap up our offer arriving just in time for the holidays!
Arriving ETA Early November:
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Brut, Champagne 2008 750ML ($179.95) $139 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Brut, Champagne 2008 750ML ($999.95) $799 pre-arrival special (that’s only $133.17/bottle!)
Decanter 97 points
“A classic, slow-maturing year picked into October. It’s a pale, pristine hue – a beautifully assembled mix of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Aÿ, Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzy, Verzenay and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, combining saline-wrapped orchard fruits with great Pinot Noir subtlety yet strength. THE aperitif Champagne, but also try with sea trout. Drinking Window 2020 – 2030.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “An elegant Champagne, powered by a sculpted frame of acidity and minerality, this wears the refined, lacy mousse and well-meshed flavors of black currant, lemon curd, toast and marzipan like finely tailored clothing. Fresh and lasting, with hints of spice and smoke on the finish. Disgorged August 2016. Drink now through 2033.”

2016 Masseto Arrives This Friday

More Stock Added

2016 was an all-time-great year in Tuscany and as you’d expect, the 2016 Masseto is special stuff.  We’ve managed to secure additional stock on this wine, so there are now (and just) nine bottles available, arriving Friday.  Italian wine collectors take note—we probably can’t get any more, so once these are gone, they’re gone.

Arriving October 25th

Only nine bottles available
(Ornellaia) Masseto Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($849.95) $759 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 100 points
“Masseto has pulled off back-to-back home runs. This is the first time that an Italian wine has earned 100 points in successive vintages. The 2016 Masseto is a thunderstorm of emotions, but it manages to keep them under perfect control. Like the 2015 Masseto before it, this vintage is a seamless wine of the highest pedigree. It represents an encore performance, continuing the string of successes that is bringing Italy to the forefront of the wine world. The first thing you’ll notice is the thickness and concentration of the fruit that makes an immediate impact on all the senses, in terms of appearance, aroma and mouthfeel. There is no overstating the sheer power and richness of this iconic vintage of Italy’s groundbreaking Merlot. Despite that considerable mass, this Masseto remains delicate and graceful. You gain better perspective as the wine opens in the glass and reveals deeper layers that were not immediately apparent on first nose: dark fruit, spice, sweet tobacco and black cherry. There is great tightness and laser focus to the fruit. I tasted the 2016 and 2015 vintages together for comparison when I scored this wine, and then I tasted this 2016 edition alone about a month later to confirm my impressions. These vintages are identical twins, two perfect wines.-ML”
James Suckling 100 points “This is so solid and powerful with incredible vertical dense that goes down and down on the palate. Compacted and thick with caressing and polished tannins that are powerful yet refined. Super concentration yet agile and energetic. This is a wine that needs time to come together and resolve all of its amazing components. Reminds me of the legendary 2001. Try after 2023.”

K Vintners

Charles Smith’s K Vintners wines need very little introduction, as they are some of our most popular year in and out.  The new releases just arrived and they’re highly praised and highly allocated, as usual.

If you’re unfamiliar with the winery, know that Charles Smith fashions himself a bit of a rock star and he ought to—he used to manage them.  Then, one day, on a motorcycle trip, he rode through Walla Walla and was struck by the majesty of the terrain and the vineyards.  Within a few years, he had returned to open a winery.

His first vintage was 1999 and he produced a mere 300 cases of Syrah under his label ‘K Vintners.’ The winery has grown by leaps and bounds since—by our count, K makes well more than 15 wines, most of them single vineyard Syrah, and that doesn’t count the additional projects he’s involved in such as Substance and Sixto.

At this point, Charles Smith is one of the defining wine makers for what might be the modern Washington style.  His wines are big, rich, and ripe but polished. They show distinct differences between the vineyards and always have a hint of that savory, bacony quality that Syrah can bring to the table like nothing else.  The only thing we can complain about is that they sell out and we can’t carry them more often.

Staff Pick

If there’s one thing that we struggle with as American drinkers, it’s an obsession with grape varieties.  When I’m talking to customers about wines from Italy and Spain, especially, the natural question is “what grape is it made from”—even if the answer doesn’t provide any clues about the wine.  Take today’s pick, made from the grape Mandó in the area near Valencia in Spain.  For a lot of wine lovers, not knowing the grape would be an immediate turn-off, but they’d be missing a fantastic, intriguing wine.

Even within Spain and Spanish wine circles, Mandó is pretty obscure (Jancis Robinson lists it as “nearly extinct” in her book about wine grapes) but it turns out that it’s unusually well adapted to the hot climate of southern Spain, producing wines that hold their freshness and acidity as they ripen.  In the hands of Celler del Roure, this means a wine like their “Safra” can be both dark fruited and slightly herbal and very fresh—a fascinating, moreish combination that leads to quickly emptied bottles.

It’s hard to say exactly what the Safra reminds me of—it has a refreshing quality like Beaujolais, but the fruit profile is more Bandol meets Piedmont, perhaps with a percent or two of amaro thrown in.  More than anything, it tastes of itself—which is something that can be hard to find in an increasingly global, homogenized world.  You can throw a ton of different foods at it (it handles a lot veggies very well, though I’d stay away from white fish) and it seems to meet them at their level.  Oh, it’s also under $20.

In Stock Now:

Celler del Roure ‘Safra’, Valencia 2016 750ML ($24.95) $19 special
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 92+ points
“Only in its second vintage, the 2016 Safrà is already a reference for the winery—it’s more vibrant and livelier than Parotet but produced with the same grape, Mandó, which is complemented here with 10% each Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell. It fermented in stainless steel and stone lagars with 30% full clusters and indigenous yeasts. Malolactic was in amphorae, where the wine matured for some six months. It has plenty of aromatic herbs, balsamic; in a way, it reminded me of a vermouth. At the end of the day, 2016 was a short vintage—the grapes ripened earlier, so they harvested them pretty early, keeping the freshness. The palate is light to medium-bodied but very tasty, with deep flavors and great persistence; it has more concentration than it seems. It’s not as light as the 2015 and feels more complete. They used more stems than in the initial vintage, and that also helped to keep the freshness and balance the juicier fruit. It feels like a good improvement over the previous year, a very good value and the benchmark for Mandó reds. 15,000 bottles were filled in July 2017.”

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

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Staff pick!
Chateau Meyney, Saint-Estephe 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
James Suckling 96 points
“Wild nose. Impressive, deep hue and a wealth of fresh, violet-like aromas, as well as cassis, graphite and dark cherries. The palate has a very sleek, fine, powerful core of tannins that bring a lot of depth and deliver rich dark-fruit flavor. A classic Meyney. Best since 1961! Try from 2023.”
Decanter 94 points “Rich and full, this is very St-Estèphe: round through the mid-palate, with an amazingly tasty balance of richness and freshness leading to salinity and minerality on the finish. It will need another five to eight years before being ready to drink, but it has to be one of the value picks of the vintage.”
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2016 Meyney is a bold, powerful wine. Tobacco, menthol, chocolate, spice and torrefaction notes all add shades of darkness. Meyney is potent and quite broad in feel, and yet everything is very nicely balanced. Although not especially subtle, Meyney delivers the goods, and then some.”

Conversation-stopping dry Riesling.
Markus Molitor Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese ** White Capsule Trocken, Mosel 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Wine Advocate 98 points
“The 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese ** (White Capsule) is a different style of Mosel Riesling compared to the other 2016 Auslesen. Fermented in different oak vats, from barrique size to 3,000-liter vats (including one big Stockinger vat that was new), this is clear, ripe and complex on the nose, with toasty as well as smoky-mineral notes framing the perfectly ripe and elegant stone fruit aromas. Full-bodied, round and complex, with gorgeous sweetness and mind-blowing silkiness and balance, this is a rich yet fine, elegant, highly complex and persistent Auslese from Markus’s most important single vineyard. The 2016 is concentrated yet very clear and elegant, revealing very fine tannins and a very long, complex finish. It already drinks with great wonder, and this wine will even gain more complexity though it’s already hard to resist.”
Stuart Pigott-JamesSuckling 95 points “Still a bit funky from the wild ferment. The power and delicacy are almost exactly matched here, and they are beautifully complemented by notes of nectarines and Mandarin oranges. The finish is long and very graceful. Better from 2019 and decades of aging potential ahead of it.”

One of the best deals in Barolo, Bruna Grimaldi always over delivers. Especially when we offer it for less than half suggested retail!
Bruna Grimaldi Bricco Ambrogio, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 92+ points
“($80) From the less-traveled Roddi township, the 2015 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio is a balanced and pretty expression that shows floral aromas of wild rose and pressed violets, followed by wild berry and blackcurrant. The wine is simple and straightforward in delivery with a clean and accessible personality. Bruna and Franco Grimaldi purchased this vineyard site in 2006, and this wine has improved in complexity and depth with each vintage that I taste. Some 6,000 bottles are made.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
The average price nationally is $43
Lopez always over delivers and the ’09 Cubillo harness the vintage to great effect.
R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza, Rioja DOCa 2009 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Case-6 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza, Rioja DOCa 2009 750ML ($149.95) $133 special (that’s only $22.17/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 92 points
“The red they say was born to go with tapas and sold in local restaurants is the 2009 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza. 2009 was a warm and ripe year, and this blend of Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha (or the masculine Garnacho they like to use) plus 5% each Graciano and Mazuelo from limestone soils with quite a lot of clay, feels juicy and soft. It fermented with natural yeasts in large oak vats and matured in used barriques for three years. This is a bottling that has grown and improved a lot since 2004-2005. It shows very good balance between fruit and more developed aromas, with hints of leather and cherries, spices and smoke, very clean and with good volume in the palate. It’s usually a little riper and with higher alcohol than Tondonia or Bosconia, with the character, finesse and elegance of a classical Reserva. 93,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2013.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
The average price nationally is $29
Entry level Alsatian Riesling that’s dry, crisp and excellent value.
Jean-Baptiste Adam Riesling Tradition, Alsace 2016 750ML ($24.95) $18 special
Case-12 Jean-Baptiste Adam Riesling Tradition, Alsace 2016 750ML ($279.95) $199 special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 90 points
“Bright straw. Aromas and flavors of yellow plums and white pepper are complemented by more luscious notes of lemon curd. Very fresh and clean, with a classically dry (2 g/L residual sugar) finish that is extended by laser-like acidity (7.2 g/L total acidity). Made from grapes grown in four plots located in the area of Ammerschwihr plus one plot in the Letzenberg (as the latter gives a wine that differs greatly from the other Letzenberg wines, Adam chooses to blend it in here to add a little more freshness to the finished wine). Lovely, very good entry-level wine that will also age well.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!
The earliest drinking of the Produttori crus, this is delicious now.
Produttori del Barbaresco Muncagota, Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2013 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Case-12 Produttori del Barbaresco Muncagota, Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2013 750ML ($699.95) $599 special (that’s only $49.92/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“Like most of the wines in this lineup, the 2013 Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota is quite potent. A rush of raspberry jam, wild flowers, white pepper and mint make a strong opening statement. Succulent and yet also structured, the Muncagota has so much to offer. It should be one of the first wines in this range to start opening up, although when that will happen exactly is hard to say.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Powerful yet underlined by racy acidity, driving the black cherry, black currant and mineral flavors. Menthol and tobacco notes add depth, keeping this intense. All the components are here, yet this will need time to really sing. Best from 2024 through 2040.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 94 points “You may remember that this wine was once called Moccagatta. Produttori del Barbaresco reverted to the local Piemontese spelling of the name in 2007 to stay consistent with the geographic mapping of local cru sites. The 2013 Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota stands apart from the nine other single-vineyard Riservas presented by Produttori del Barbaresco this vintage. Of these various wines, this is the most salty and savory. There is less primary fruit intensity here. The bouquet is laced with grilled rosemary and wild sage. This growing site absorbs loads of morning sunshine with southeast-facing exposures. The mouthfeel is characterized by dry tannins and very long, balsam-like persistence. Dried ginger and herbs appear on the menthol-like finish.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “You’ll find aromas of star anise, freshly tilled soil, chopped herb and balsamic notes on this full-bodied red. The smooth, concentrated palate delivers juicy black cherry, raspberry compost, pipe tobacco and licorice accompanied by firm, refined tannins and bright acidity.”
The average listed price is $66

Beautiful Beaujolais: 

New Reviews from Josh Raynolds of Vinous Media

Just in time for your holiday table!

It’s a brilliant time to be a lover of Beaujolais.  The recent string of vintages has been kind to the region (at least in terms of quality—yields are another story) and the relatively affordable prices have created a groundswell of interest.  Josh Raynolds just published a set of reviews in Vinous where he concurred with this assessment, declaring, “There has never been a better time to explore this region’s delicious, approachable wines, especially considering the seemingly endless, often steep, price hikes for most wines from other historically pedigreed regions across the globe…”

With the 2017 vintage, he finds a lot to love in these powerful expressions, which he described as having “more weight and dark fruit than normal” and as being “decidedly richer than their 2018 and 2016 bookends.”  The good news is that the ’17s are a perfect drink-now vintage, with soft tannins and immediate appeal. (Did we mention how perfect these are with fall foods?) If you want to see all 38 different bottlings available for purchase across all vintages, you can head to the full list in our webstore, as well.

Newly Reviewed & Arriving Friday:

Jean-Paul Brun / Domaine des Terres Dorees Moulin-a-Vent, Beaujolais, 2017 750ML ($29.95) $26 pre-arrival special
Josh Raynolds 93 points
“Opaque ruby. Potent, mineral-accented red/dark berry scents are complicated by floral pastille and spicecake flourishes. Sappy, expansive and appealingly sweet on the palate, offering intense raspberry and cherry liqueur and cola flavors given spine by a core of juicy acidity. Sneaky tannins shape the finish, which hangs on with outstanding tenacity and resonating florality.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Jean-Paul Brun / Domaine des Terres Dorees Beaujolais l’Ancien Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($19.95) $17 pre-arrival special
Josh Raynolds 91 points
“Shimmering magenta. Vibrant red/dark berry and floral pastille scents pick up smoky mineral and spicy white pepper accents with air. Juicy and focused in the mouth, offering intense raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a touch of succulent herbs that gains strength on the back half. Closes mineral and long, with a lingering floral note and smooth tannins.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Newly Reviewed & In Stock Now:

Chateau Thivin Brouilly ‘Reverdon’, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91 points
“Vivid ruby. Ripe dark berries and candied flowers on the perfumed nose. Pliant black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show a hint of licorice, and a candied violet nuance adds a sweet touch. The floral note carries steadily through the finish, which is shaped by youthful tannins and sharpened by a building mineral flourish.”

Daniel Bouland Morgon Corcelette Foudre 7 Vieilles Vignes, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($37.95) $29 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 94 points
“Opaque ruby. Pungent dark berry preserve, cherry pit, potpourri and licorice pastille aromas are sharpened by building spice and smoky mineral accents. Offers intense blackberry, boysenberry and bitter cherry flavors that deepen with air while picking up a suave floral pastille nuance. Shows superb clarity and finesse for its power and finishes chewy and extremely long, showing gentle sweetness and steadily building tannins.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Daniel Bouland Morgon Bellevue ‘Schiste’, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($34.95) $27 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Brilliant ruby. A powerful, mineral-accented bouquet evokes ripe red/dark berries, incense, violet and exotic spices. Sappy, pliant and gently sweet, offering concentrated black raspberry, mulberry and spicecake flavors that firm up slowly with aeration. Shows impressive depth as well as energy and finishes smooth, sweet and very long, leaving behind violet pastille and bitter cherry notes.”

Daniel Bouland Cote de Brouilly Cuvee Melanie, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($34.95) $26 special, 19 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Vivid magenta. Powerful cherry, dark berry and game aromas are sharpened by suggestions of cracked pepper and smoky minerals. Broad and fleshy but lively as well, offering juicy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a touch of candied violet. Displays solid dark-fruit thrust, even tannins and lingering spiciness on the impressively long, smoke-tinged finish.”

Daniel Bouland Chiroubles ‘Chatenay’, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($34.95) $27 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Lurid violet. Penetrating red/blue fruit, floral and spice aromas, with a building mineral quality and a hint of earthiness. Intense black raspberry and cherry flavors display excellent clarity, and a deeper licorice quality gains power on the back half. Distinctly lively for the vintage, showing solid dark-fruit thrust on a long, gently tannic finish.”

Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie les Garants, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($31.95) $27 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Vivid ruby. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes dark berry and cherry liqueur, smoky minerals and an exotic touch of incense. Energetic blueberry and bitter cherry flavors show very good depth and pick up a hint of musky rhubarb with air. Supple, harmonious tannins add framework to an impressively long, mineral-tinged finish that leaves behind a sweet touch of dark fruit preserves.”

Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Saint Amour Les Champs-Grilles, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Lurid purple. Intense aromas of raspberry preserves, violet, exotic spices and succulent herbs carry a suave floral overtone. Sweet, deeply concentrated red/blue fruit, spicecake and floral pastille flavors show impressive vivacity and delineation for their heft. At once powerful and elegant, finishing with tight focus, strong persistence and well-integrated tannins.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Moulin-a-Vent Les Trois Roches, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 13 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Shimmering ruby. Deep-pitched, expansive aromas of ripe dark berries, cherry cola, licorice and baking spices are lifted by a smoky mineral quality. Sappy and expansive on the palate, offering intense blackberry, bitter cherry, spicecake and floral pastille flavors that slowly unfurl and become sweeter on the back half. Closes smooth, smoky and very long, with resonating spice and mineral notes and dusty, even tannins adding gentle grip.”

Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie Poncie, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($31.95) $27 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Bright magenta. Highly perfumed aromas of ripe red/dark berries, lavender, candied licorice and smoky minerals. Sappy black raspberry and cherry liqueur flavors display a suave blend of concentration and energy and pick up a spicecake nuance with air. Finishes juicy, sweet and long, displaying lingering fruit and floral pastille qualities and discreet tannins.”

Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Brouilly Pierreux, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Brilliant violet. Ripe red/dark berries on the highly expressive nose, along with suggestions of smoky minerals and pungent flowers. Sappy, mineral-accented black raspberry and boysenberry flavors show excellent clarity and spicy lift. In a nicely concentrated but lively style, finishing very long and appealingly sweet, with supple, harmonious tannins lending shape and gentle grip.”

Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Coeur de Vendanges, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 22 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Shimmering ruby-red. Ripe raspberry and cherry aromas are complemented by a suave floral quality and subtle mineral and spice flourishes. Sweet and seamless on the palate, offering juicy red fruit liqueur, spicecake and rose pastille flavors supported by a spine of smoky minerality. Finishes very long and silky, with repeating florality and just a hint of fine-grained tannins.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Domaine Louis Claude Desvignes Morgon Cote du Py, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($31.95) $26 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Shimmering violet color. An expansive, complex bouquet evokes ripe red/ blue fruits, incense, baking spices and candied flowers. A smoky mineral flourish adds energetic lift. Stains the palate with appealingly sweet boysenberry, black raspberry and dark chocolate flavors that become more lively as the wine stretches out. Shows impressive clarity and floral drive on the long, sweet finish, which is given shape by sneaky, even tannins.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon, Beaujolais 2017 750ML ($41.95) $29 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Limpid magenta. Fresh dark berries, pungent flowers, exotic spices and a smoky mineral nuance on the deeply perfumed nose. Stains the palate with sweet black raspberry, cherry and violet pastille flavors that are energized and given spine by a core of juicy acidity. Powerful yet lively in character, finishing impressively long and smooth, with sneaky tannins lending shape to lingering dark berry and floral notes.”

Carl Loewen:

New Grapelive Review

It’s always nice to see new reviews from Kerry Winslow at Grapelive.  He’s got a sharp palate and a keen sense of history, so his reviews always have fun facts and important information that you don’t often see other places. He highlighted a sneak preview of a 2018 Carl Loewen.

Carl Loewen took over the historic Schmitt-Wagner estate, with its extremely old vineyard holdings, and has elevated it to new heights, returning a slew of historic vineyards back to the esteem they were held to in the 1800’s.  His wines are textural, rich and complex and often from old, ungrafted parcels within vineyards. 2018 continues the estate’s rise and plays into their strengths, as the power and richness inherent in the wines this year complement Loewen’s natural savoriness and acidity.

Weingut Carl Loewen Alte Reben Riesling Trocken, Mosel 2018 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special, ETA December
Grapelive 93 points
“These 2018s by Christopher Loewen are something very special and maybe even a step up on the last few outstanding vintages produced here at Weingut Carl Loewen. [These are] exceptional wines throughout the lineup, especially the top Feinherb and GG bottlings, but his entry level wines are stunning too and, at the price, are Rieslings to stock up on, in particular look for this gorgeous and seriously bone dry Old Vine “Alte Reben” Trocken… Loewen farms mostly in three VDP Grosse Lage sites, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, Thörnicher Ritsch and Leiwener Laurentiuslay. [The estate] is now considered one of the region’s superstars. The rise from solid to stellar has come recently with the generational shift from father to son, as has happened all over the world, and the praise here is incredibly well deserved. Like all the wines Christopher makes, the grapes are all pressed whole cluster and pomace is never moved as to not break the stems, which, as Loewen notes, leads to phenolic flavors and bitterness that he wants to avoid. The juice, he adds, is “browned” or oxidized pre- fermentation, a practice common in Burgundy, and his ferments are completely natural without addition of yeast (known here as Sponti) plus absolutely no enzymes or nutrition is used. This wine, one step up from the entry level estate, is an all stainless wine and while severely dry it manages to be complex and textural. It is a serious Riesling for those that want pure minerallity and racy acidity above all else. This 2018 shows a bit more fullness of form without losing any energy with exciting layers of zesty citrus and orchard stone fruits along with a hint of tropical essences and flinty/stony spiciness with lime, green melon, white peach, tart apricot and tangerine as well as crystalized ginger, wet shale, salty sea shore, white lavender/rose, chamomile and crisp apple skin. Tart and mouthwatering, this Alte Reben is still concentrated and has loads of structural extract, making for a complete Riesling that is zippy and refreshing, but one that can deliver a world class performance with food. It is a sleeper in the latest set from the talented Loewen, but one well worth seeking out! If wine is a story of people and place, it’s wines like this that are a celebration of that image. It is a joy to drink.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Shop our complete list of Carl Loewen wines!

Shop our complete list of Carl Loewen wines!

Vincent Girardin

Vincent Girardin is one of the most reliable producers of Burgundy, both red and white.  His wines leave the cellar with plenty of personality from their vineyards, but also the focus of a clear and steady winemaker who’s hone their craft over decades.  When you combine the quality of the house with the excellent 2017 white Burgundy vintage, these wines become even better

Arriving ETA December:

Vincent Girardin Les Perrieres, Meursault Premier Cru 2017 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92-94+ points
“Another of the portfolio’s high points is the 2017 Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières, which was one of the least evolved wines when I tasted it from barrel. An as yet only partially formed bouquet displays notions of bright citrus oil and crushed chalk, along with some leesy top notes that will dissipate by the time the wine is bottled. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, tangy and incisive with an elegantly satiny attack, racy acids and a long, electric finish. It’s the most tensile wine in the Girardin cellar this year.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Vincent Girardin Les Folatieres, Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru 2017 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 91-94 points
“Bright medium yellow. Aromas of yellow fruits, minerals and flowers, plus a hint of reduction. Conveys an impression of density without weight, with terrific acid tension giving the flavors of citrus fruits, flowers and spicy oak a sharply chiseled character in spite of the wine’s element of reduction. Finishes sappy, savory, tactile and dry, with noteworthy lift. Terrific potential here.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 91-93+ points “The 2017 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Folatières is showing especially well, unwinding in the glass with a classy nose of blanched almonds, ripe citrus fruit, green apple and spring flowers. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, satiny and pure with good concentration, tangy acids and an elegant, integrated profile.”
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Vincent Girardin La Romanee Vieilles Vignes, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2017 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“The 2017 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanée is a decided success, offering up a classy bouquet of green orchard fruits, white flowers and fresh peach that was still quite youthfully reserved when I tasted it. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, elegantly textural and vibrant, with tangy acids, good concentration and structural tension and a long, pure finish. Eric Germain clearly has a fine source in this site, as it’s one of his finest 2017s.”
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The Fastest Rising Star in Burgundy

Clos de la Chapelle

Every now and then, we taste wines from a producer that’s clearly Going Places—like the star student in a high school class, it’s painfully obvious that some domaines are driven in a fundamentally different way from their peers.  The current incarnation of Clos de la Chapelle is clearly one of those estates—the praise keeps coming and it won’t be long until these are thought of (and priced with) wines like D’Angerville, Lafon and Lafarge as some of the top bottlings in Volnay.

That drive comes down to one person, their (American) owner, Mark O’Connell, who bought the domaine in 2011 and has poured money and time into elevating it from an historic (yet perhaps underperforming) producer with excellent holdings to one of the elite domaines in the Cote de Beaune.  The winery now owns land in an array of the top vineyard sites in Volnay, Pommard and Corton and makes truly excellent renditions of each—with moderate whole cluster use, small amounts of new oak and brilliantly balanced ripeness.

This is a domaine that’s only been around in its current incarnation since 2011, and yet has already been a featured winery at La Paulee, with strong reviews from both Burghound and John Gilman.  The original incarnation dates back to the middle of the 19th century, run by a member of the Boillot family up until the recent sale.  The Clos de la Chapelle monopole was always considered to be one of the premier terroirs (it’s right next door to the Clos de la Bousse d’Or and there are records of Louis Pasteur buying 50 bottles of the 1858, so this is not a secret) but it’s mainly since the changeover that the wines have lived up to the promise of the land.

The domaine owns a total of 4 hectares of red and white vineyards, exclusively in Premier and Grand Cru sites and we’re excited to offer them for the first time today. Some of the wines, featured below, arrive early next month and still more arrive towards the end of the year.  Although there are a number of different wines, quantities are limited on each one—and we’re selling them first come, first served.

Highlights Arriving ETA Early November:

Domaine Clos de la Chapelle Corton Rognet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2014 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special, only 7 bottles available
John Gilman 94 points
“The Rognet in 2014 from Clos de la Chapelle was raised in one­third new wood and included fifty percent whole clusters this year. These vines lie just above those of Jean­Nicolas Méo on the slope. The wine really shows the elegant side of the vintage, wafting from the glass in a beautiful aromatic constellation of cherries, red currants, a superb base of minerality, a bit of gamebird, lovely Corton spice tones and a bit of new wood. On the palate the wine is pure, full­bodied and nascently complex, with fine transparency, lovely focus and grip and a very long, ripely tannic and tangy finish. There is a touch of stems here today, but these will become cinnamon­like down the road and just add to the spicy appeal of this lovely Corton. 2025­2075+.”
Burghound 93 points “Sweet Spot. A touch of oak sets off the mildly reduced nose though a note of menthol is evident in the background. There is excellent volume and concentration to the broad-shouldered and muscular flavors that brim with mouth coating dry extract before concluding in an overtly robust and slightly austere finish of outstanding depth and length. This is a classic Rognet that is presently quite compact and it is immediately evident that this is going to need every bit of a decade to unwind the firm tannic spine and 15 years would not surprise me. In a word, impressive.”
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Domaine Clos de la Chapelle Grands Epenots, Pommard Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special, only 15 bottles available
John Gilman 94+ points
“The 2016 Grands Epenots from Domaine de la Chapelle is also a stellar young wine. The aromatic constellation delivers scents of red and black cherries, pigeon, woodsmoke, a very complex base of soil, espresso and cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and potentially very, very complex, with a rock solid core, fine-grained tannins, outstanding focus and balance and a long, youthful and elegant finish. This is every bit as refined in profile as the Chanlins old vine bottling, and will probably just edge it out by a nose over their long lives in bottle. Simply great Pommard in the making! 2028-2065.”
Burghound 93 points “Sweet Spot Outstanding. Here too there is enough wood to notice along with hints of menthol framing the overtly earthy and agreeably fresh aromas of black raspberry and cassis. The generously proportioned and fleshy big-bodied flavors possess excellent volume thanks to the abundant level of dry extract, all wrapped in a markedly structured, austere and backward finale. This is terrific but note well that it will not make for especially inviting early drinking.”

Domaine Clos de la Chapelle En Carelle, Volnay Premier Cru 2010 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special, only 8 bottles available
Winery note
“Deep ruby color with light garnet hues. Finesse and elegance on the nose, with aromas of small red ripe fruits, exotic spices and violets, with a touch of minerality. The palate is full and round, with a generous finish. Delicate and velvety tannins, with nice acidity and length on the finish. The Volnay appellation is found mid-slope in the Côte de Beaune, with Pommard to the north and Meursault to the south. Although there are no Grands Crus here, Volnay’s 30 Premiers Crus are unmatched. Always appreciated for their finesse and beautiful bouquet, Volnays are often regarded as being feminine. The vines for this cuvée are on average 45 years old. This square shaped, “carré = Carelle”, vineyard is located just below the beautiful 16th century chapel of Volnay.”

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Domaine Clos de la Chapelle En Carelle, Volnay Premier Cru 2014 750ML ($99.95) $89 pre-arrival special, only 12 bottles available
John Gilman 92+ points
“The domaine’s vines in En Carelle are planted north­south, which served to shelter the bunches a bit during the hail at the end of June and there was really quite moderate damage done here in 2014. The wine was raised in twenty percent new oak and these fifty­five to sixty year­old vines have produced and excellent wine in this vintage4. The bouquet offers up scents of cherries, red plums, raw cocoa, gamebird, cedar and a lovely topnote of spices. On the palate the wine is fullish, pure and intensely flavored, with a velvety attack, a good core and a long, suavely­tannic finish. Just a lovely wine. 2021­2060.”

Domaine Clos de la Chapelle ‘Clos de la Chapelle’, Volnay Premier Cru 2010 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special, only 3 bottles available
John Gilman 94 points
“The Clos de la Chapelle lies right next door to the Clos de la Bousse d’Or in the center of Volnay. At one point it was part of the Clos de la Bousse d’Or, but sometime back in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, the wall that separates it from the Clos de la Bousse d’Or was built, and it was already a separate vineyard by the time Louis Boillot purchased it in 1865. The 2010 is an absolutely stunning young bottle of Volnay, offering up a deep and classy nose of cherries, red plums, a touch of raw cocoa, vine-smoke, fresh herbs, a beautiful base of soil, a lovely touch of fresh nutmeg and a deft framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and full-bodied, with beautiful transparency, bright, tangy acids, a sappy core of fruit, superb focus and balance and a very long, soil-driven and utterly refined finish that closes with superb grip and outstanding complexity. This is a magical first vintage for the domaine’s flagship wine and this is obviously going to be one of the top premier crus in the commune in the coming years. Do not miss this wine if you have a chance to latch onto a few bottles. Stunning juice. 2020-2060.”

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Domaine Clos de la Chapelle Taillepieds, Volnay Premier Cru 2014 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special, only 9 bottles available
John Gilman 93 points
“The Taillepieds bottling from Clos de la Chapelle was new in 2013. As readers may recall, this hails from a parcel of forty to fifty year­old vines that lie between the rows of Domaines de Montille and Marquis d’Angerville. The 2014 was another very short crop here, as they only produced three casks, whereas in a normal crop, they should have nine! The wine is superb in 2014, delivering a fine aromatic constellation of red berries, red plums, a beautifully complex base of soil tones, gamebirds, pretty spice notes and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is pure, full­bodied, complex and shows good stuffing at the core, with fine focus and grip and a moderately chewy finish. 2024­2060.”

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Other Wines, Arriving ETA December:

Shop the entire collection of Clos de la Chapelle!

Thank you for reading!