In Today’s Newsletter:
Brovia: Top Echelon Traditional Producer
Vinopolis Champagne Extravaganza:
Comte de Vogue
Two Icons of Napa Cabernet
Featured New Arrival
Brovia: Top Echelon Traditional Producer
(But Not in Price!)
Despite being in the top echelons of Barolo, prices for Brovia’s wines have yet to seriously escalate. They stand with any producer’s collection of Baroli and yet are priced below many ‘name’ producers that are making wines of less character and interest. For traditionally made Barolo, these are some of the best wines you can buy (at any price, really, but especially for the price).
If you’re new to Brovia, here’s the scoop: Wonderful, expressive wines made and farmed in traditional methods. They hit all the right notes in terms of thoughtful vineyard management (organic without certification, careful pruning, and hand harvesting) and are unapologetically classic in their winemaking (long and slow fermentation and long aging in large barrels and, subsequently, in bottle).
Brovia has an assortment of excellent vineyard holdings that are mostly in Serralunga. Rocche and Villero are obviously top vineyards that are well known, but the other gem in the portfolio is the Brea “Ca’Mia” which is a wine that stands out in any lineup for its combination of Serralunga power and elegance.
We try and carry as many of their wines as we can and the 2015 Barolos are notable successes. Brovia’s normal style is lean and coiled, so the extra warmth of the vintage pushed the wines to be a little grander than usual. These are all wines that are shaping up to be epics and are also wines that you’ll look back on and wish you had bought more of (especially the way Brovia’s star/pricing is rising).
Just Arrived In Stock Now:
Brovia Rocche di Castiglione, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Brovia Rocche di Castiglione, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($269.95) $219 special
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 95 points “The Brovia 2015 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione (the last wine I tasted in this series of cru expressions) opens to the darkest color of this series, with a firm core of black fruit. This wine is silky and satiny in terms of texture—one of the trademarks of this sandy-soil cru in Castiglione Falletto—but don’t underestimate that structural firmness that holds it tightly together. It would take nicely to veal involtini with asparagus.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “Brovia’s flagship 2015 Barolo Rocche di Castiglione is a decidedly full-bodied wine. The richness of this warm vintage comes through loud and clear in an ample, resonant Barolo endowed with serious textural depth. Lifted floral and spice notes add an attractive upper register as the 2015 starts to open up in the glass. Even so, the Rocche stands out for its volume and sheer size, both of which are unusual for this Castiglione Falletto site, where the wines tend to be more lithe. The Rocche appears to be the Barolo most shaped by the growing season in this range.”
The average price nationally is $104
Brovia Brea ‘Vigna Ca’ Mia’, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($249.95) $199 special
Antonio Galloni 94+ points “The 2015 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia captures all the best the vintage has to offer. Black cherry, plum, espresso, sage, menthol, licorice and leather are all kicked up a few notches in a decidedly dark, strapping Barolo that screams with Serralunga character. Exotic, dark and totally alluring, the 2015 has a very bright future, but readers should be prepared to be patient, as the tannins clearly need time to soften.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 93 points “The Brovia 2015 Barolo Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia offers good balance and an authentic representation of the vintage. You can sense some of the heat of the growing season here, thanks to the wine’s open and accessible persona; it enters the palate with softness and elegance. This was the first of the single-vineyard wines from Brovia released this year that I tasted in a flight meant to increase in intensity.”
The average price is $104
Brovia Garblet Sue Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2015 1.5L ($219.95) $189 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2015 Barolo Garblèt Sue’ is dense and powerful in the glass. A rush of black cherry, plum, lavender, iron and sage literally burst from the glass. Ample, full-bodied and intense, the Garblèt Sue’ is another stellar wine in this range. The typically incisive Garblèt Sue’ tannins are nearly buried by the sheer richness of the fruit. Today, the Garblèt Sue’ is distinguished by its wild, feral profile and huge core of fruit. In this vintage, the Garblèt is the overachiever in the range relative to how it shows in most vintages.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 94 points “Showing some immediate softness, the 2015 Barolo Garblèt Sue’ is beautifully approachable and generously accommodating, even at this early stage in the wine’s drinking window. Bring it out with a selection of goat cheeses. It’s interesting to note that, at 40 years old, the vines of this cru in Castiglione Falletto actually rank as some of the youngest held by the Brovia estate, founded in 1863, before the unification of Italy.”
Brovia Villero, Barolo DOCG 2015 1.5L ($249.95) $199 special
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2015 Barolo Villero offers richness and darkness with fruit from Castiglione Falletto, and it’s one of the more intense wines I tasted within this selection. The Villero is a balanced and polished Barolo that opens to nicely integrated fruit and spice tones, expertly interwoven and united. The wine has a beautiful entry to the palate. Indeed, this pretty wine presented a united front, with seamless and graceful integration.”
Antonio Galloni 93+ points “The 2015 Barolo Villero is a very pretty, mid-weight wine. Silky tannins and beautifully expressive aromatics give the Villero considerable finesse. On the palate, though, the 2015 is far less expressive. That is not entirely surprising, as the Villero often needs a few years to truly blossom. Sweet floral and spice notes start to open with time in the glass, but the Villero is not an especially forthcoming 2015 Barolo.”
Importer Note “Always a stunning value and a perfect encapsulation of the Brovia house style, their Barolo “normale” is comprised 60% of a portion of their holdings in Brea (the oldest and best-exposed vines are bottled separately as “Ca’Mia”—see below) and 40% of the younger vines of their three crus in Castiglione Falletto. One feels both the spicy, boisterous generosity of Serralunga d’Alba and the mineral thrust of Castiglione Falletto in this wine, and the 2015 is a particularly layered, dynamic version, offering excellent concentration but relative accessibility at this early stage.”
The average price nationally is $56
Importer note “This Barbera is produced from grapes harvested in the “Garblet” vineyard (also known as “Fiasco”) of Castiglione Falletto from a 0.8 hectare plot on a south-southeast facing slope at 250 meters altitude. The major part of the vineyard was planted in 1970 with a portion being replanted in 1993. The “Sori del Drago” is fermented at 28 degrees Celsius for slightly more than a week. The wine is then racked into stainless steel tank and is aged for 15 to 18 months before being bottled (unfiltered). Approximately 4500 bottles are produced annually with 2400 allocated to us for the US market.”
Vinopolis Champagne Extravaganza
Marc Hebrart: Coiled Power
“an utter masterpiece of weightless concentration, as huge and yet as penetrable as a cumulous cloud.” – Terry Theise
Jean Paul Hebrart has transformed his family domain from a reliable producer of tasty Champagne to a true powerhouse in the very top tier of quality in the region. They manage to have intensity, generosity and length while presenting as finessed from the first sip.
We carry as broad a variety of them as we can and each one has merit. The reasonably priced bottlings are among the classiest of their peers. The high end bottlings, particularly the Rive Gauche/Rive Droite and the new Noces de Craie, are overtly powerful, with enough elegance and classicism to provide tension and keep the wines absolutely thrilling. From the bottom to the top, Hebrart makes wines worthy of extra attention and we’ve loaded up to give you an excellent selection.
“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
Arriving November 22nd
Marc Hebrart Cuvee Reserve Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $44 pre-arrival special
Importer note “50% ’16, 20% ’15, 20% ’14, 10% ’13”
Terry Theise note “I cannot fathom how there could be a “better” NV Brut than this, anywhere in Champagne. The assemblage is complex. 80% Pinot Noir (from Mareuil, Avenay Val D’Or, Mutigny and Hautvillers), and 20% Chard (Bisseuil and Mutigny). It’s 50% 2016, 20% ’15, 20% ’14 and 10% ’13. Deg. 9/2018. Other than its miraculous quality, clarity and breed, it’s also 80% Pinot Noir, and as such it’s a flavor-gesture of PN such as I have never tasted elsewhere. Is anything clearer, or more deft? Is there an NV Champagne that more brilliantly squares the circle between fruit, precision and character? Are these things more important than—god help me—“buzz” factor? Is the whole idea of “buzz factor” repulsive to any mature mind? If ya’ll ain’t buzzin’ over this sterling beauty, then your buzz is on the fritz.”
Marc Hebrart Selection Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($29.95) $24 pre-arrival special
Importer note “50% ’15, 50% ’14”
Terry Theise note “The vines range from 40 to 55. Very often this Champagne is something of a guilty secret, because it’s a ludicrous VALUE and if everyone knew about it you’d be dissuaded from trading up to Club. Maybe. I don’t really see this as a “superior NV Brut” so much as the entrée into the Têtes-de-Cuvées, analogous to Vilmart’s Grand Cellier. Why buy this, though, when the NV is so good? First, it is two years older. The vines are older. There’s more Chardonnay in it. It’s all Mareuil, so mono-communal, more terroiré. The aromas are also white; white flowers, white tea, chalk, jasmine rice, lemon blossom, and the wine is creamier, more rapturous and euphoric. Many growers’ top wines don’t come near to this. Pleasure-for-Dollar, this is as good as it gets. And this year it flirts with sublimity. This year’s masterpiece is 50/50 2015/2014. It’s 70% PN (markedly higher than usual) from Mareuil and Avenay, and 30% Chard from Bisseuil. Deg 10/2018. Even with more PN it still has the lemony lift and length we know; it’s less different from the NV than it is a refinement of that wine, a different emphasis; springier, more lithe, more patisserie, with an almost buttery finish.”
The average price nationally is $52
Terry Theise note “The very best “NV Blanc de Blancs” in this portfolio, challenged only by the best editions of Péters. It’s 60% 2015 (and is entirely without grassiness), 25% ’14 and 15% ’13—it’s 12% from Oiry/Chouilly (Grand Cru) with the balance from Mareuil (ought to be Grand Cru!), deg. 9/2018.”Marc Hebrart Cuvee Rose Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Importer note “50% ’16, 50% ’15”
Terry Theise note “This edition is more fruit-forward than usual, after a relatively restrained aroma, and yet the nature of that fruit is for the up-front PN to almost tangibly dissolve and leave the most delicate wash of Chard, white, tea, and balsam and blossom—like the parting of a curtain. It’s 58% Chard in fact, from Mareuil, all 2016. Then 35% PN, also Mareuil, all 2015. Finally 7% still red, from Mareuil, 2015, vinified in barrel. Deg 7/2018.”
The average price nationally is $58
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points “The NV Brut Premier Cru Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes is a new cuvée for Hébrart that’s well worth seeking out, derived from superior, south-facing sites in Mareuil-sur-Ay that also inform his Special Club bottling. The inaugural released, based on the 2014 vintage, is showing very well, wafting from the glass with aromas of apples, pears, tangerine, white flowers, spice and pastry cream. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, concentrated and nicely structured, with good cut and dry extract, as well as all the charm that defines the house style.”
Terry Theise Note “[+++]The facts first—It is 75% PN from Mareuil, 25% Chard also from Mareuil. Old vines, massale selection. Deg 4/2018. 60% 2014, 20% 2013, 20% 2012. It’s from his favorite parcels in Mareuil, and is intended as a tribute to its terroir. It has a truly noble PN fragrance, leading to an utter masterpiece of weightless concentration, as huge and yet as penetrable as a cumulous cloud. Mareuil is clearly great but it’s also somewhat inscrutable; it has some of the malt of Aÿ, some mirabelle confiture, an almost gingery spice and top notes of chalk. This wine has great, gossamer opulence.”Marc Hebrart ‘Noces de Craie’ Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut, Champagne 2015 750ML ($149.95) $109 pre-arrival special
Terry Theise note “…this preview bottle was extraordinary, following on the heels of the masterly 2012. It’s 100% Aÿ PN, from Cheuzelles, Longchamp, Pierre Robert, Pruche and Chauffour. Another Coeur de Cuvée, massale selection, deg 9/2018. Our “marriage of chalk” is surprisingly lapidary and ready. More seductive than the “Favorites” and also fruitier. It has a huge adamant length you did not expect—all the power is in the back, it only seems to yield. Like a sweet-natured person who always seems to prevail, or a sideways strength you don’t feel being used. A wonderful, surprising work of genius.”
Marc Hebrart Rive Gauche Rive Droite Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($149.95) $125 pre-arrival special
Holiday Season Note
Need wines to arrive in time for your November & December fêtes?
Purchase now and ship ASAP to ensure you’re ready for your holiday entertaining and gift giving.
For clients on the East Coast, don’t forget prime shipping temperatures won’t last much longer!
Comte de Vogue
Grand Cru, Ex-Cellar, Library Wines
These are library wines released by winery through their national importer and exclusively offered here. These are not grey market or from a private collector—just straight from Comte de Vogue’s cellar.
Arriving ETA November 12th:
Only six bottles available
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru 2009 750ML ($699.95) $549 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2009 Bonnes-Mares is quite big and powerful yet also possesses a seamlessness that is very 2009. Waves of black fruit, spices, menthol and licorice saturate the palate as this large-scaled, dramatic wine opens up in the glass. The Bonnes-Mares boasts a tremendous combination of fruit and sheer structure. The 2009 is more approachable than the 2010 and nearly as dazzling. It will still require quite a bit of time, however, readers need to be patient.”
Burghound 95 points “This is very deeply colored. A notably riper nose of kirsch, spice and earth plus an herbal hint that is also picked up by the powerful and tautly muscled broad-shouldered flavors that possess buckets of extract that buffer the very firm tannins that impart a dusty texture on the superbly long finish. This intensely floral effort is presently quite austere but it has everything that it needs to be great in time. In a word, sensational.”
Jancis Robinson 18/20 points “On red clay from the south-east corner of Bonnes Mares. Rather darker than the Amoureuses though still transparent cherry red. Quite solid and rich – sweet and a little gamey. Solid, with some obviously density and structure, should make delicious old bones – not at all off-puttingly tannic now.”
In Stock Now:
Only two bottles available
Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru ‘Cuvee Vieilles Vignes’ 2008 750ML ($799.95) $645 special
Antonio Galloni 97 points “The 2008 Musigny Vieilles Vignes is a wine I could smell all day. The explosive bouquet literally jumps from the glass, followed by deep, beautifully delineated layers of fruit. This shows terrific concentration and depth, dazzling finesse, and a nicely pointed, direct finish. It is an eternal wine.”
John Gilman 97 points “At this point in the festivities, I could not believe what I had been tasting, and then the Musigny comes along and takes everything up yet another level. This is a simply profound bottle of Musigny in the making, as the wine soars from the glass in a hauntingly pure and complex blend of cherries, pomegranate, blood orange, wild strawberries, a glorious base of complex soil tones, citrus zest, a touch of spicy oak and a faint topnote of woodsmoke on the breeze. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, long and very intensely flavored, with a great core, perfect focus and balance, ripe, silky tannins and stunning length and grip on the dancing finish. Just a great Musigny. (Drink between 2020-2070).”
Burghound 96 points “Don’t Miss! This is also quite reserved at present with an elegant, airy, cool and pure nose that is kaleidoscopically complex as it offers red currant, plum, black cherry and a panoply of floral and spice notes, in particular violet and anise, before marrying seamlessly into mineral-driven and alluring big-bodied flavors that explode on the powerful and almost painfully intense finish that delivers genuinely stunning length. I love the way Musigny can so effortlessly combine a silky palate impression with serious muscle. This should be quite impressive in time though note that it will need a minimum of 18 to 25 years of cellar time.”
Jancis Robinson 19/20 points “The produce of the vines more than 25 years old goes into this (as opposed to the younger-vine Chambolle Premier Cru). Very dense and introvert. Not nearly as expressive in November 2009 as the domaine’s Bonnes Mares. Extremely serious, ambitious wine. An intriguing floral note that took me straight back to the smell of my grandmother’s flower arrangements. Rich, powerful attack on the palate. Wonderful precision. Sinewy. Then great nuances. This wine has such finesse! Yet it is dense and muscular too and just races away on the palate. Sweetness of fruit at the beginning and then absolutely dry and correct on the finish. Neat, reserved but clearly very special indeed. 19/20 points (JR).”
The average price is $736
Spottswoode makes one of the most iconic wines in Napa from their beautiful estate vineyard. Their wines have been some of the most collectable, age-worthy wines in Napa since the 80’s and are sold almost exclusively to their mailing list. The wines easily compete with cult bottlings twice their price and are worth the trouble we have to go through to secure even these modest allocations—these are stunning bottles. The new vintage, 2016, is a double-hundred pointer and one of the best wines of the vintage in Napa—at any price. It’s hard to believe that Spottswoode is still sub-$250 when most of their competition has escalated to $400 and up. We only get a few cases and they arrive in the middle of next month, so now’s your chance to grab this Napa gem.
Arriving ETA Mid-November:
Spottswoode Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena 2016 750ML ($249.95) $219 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 100 points “Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is still very tight and youthful, slowly unfurling to reveal a multifaceted wine with tons of black, blue and red fruit sparks—plums, cherries, black currants and red currants—with dark chocolate, cedar chest, black tea and red roses in the background plus wafts of pencil lead and prosciutto. Medium-bodied and firmly textured by superbly ripe, grainy tannins, it has a fantastic core of intense, complex layers, finishing on an edifying mineral note. Wow!”
Jeb Dunnuck 100 points “A perfect wine is the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot, which is a classic blend from this incredible estate. Sporting a deep purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of ultra-pure creme de cassis, blueberries, camphor, scorched earth, and licorice, with subtle background oak, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, deep, powerful texture that carries sweet tannins and blockbuster length. With a stacked mid-palate, straight-up awesome purity of fruit, and a huge finish, it’s as classic and brilliant as it gets. Reminding me of the 2013 with its pure yet backward style, give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and it will keep for 3-4 decades. Hats off to the team at Spottswoode for this legend in the making!”
Karen MacNeil-Decanter 97 points “Spottswoode, nudged about against Spring Mountain is situated on an ancient alluvial fan. The tiny vineyard has been owned and run by the Novak family since 1972. President Beth Novak and winemaker Aron Weinkauf are known for crafting Cabernets that paradoxically possess gentility and vivid concentration at the same time. The reverberating flavours always remind me of the sound of a church bell that someone has just struck hard. Wonderful exotic, spicy mulberry and cranberry notes. Fine tannin. Drinking Window 2019 – 2045.”
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant, plush and silky, like the 2012, but with a little more of everything. Dark cherry, plum, licorice, leather and espresso are all nicely lifted by the natural freshness of the year. At present, the 2016 is a bit shy, but it undoubtedly has a very bright future. Floral, perfumed notes add the closing shades of nuance. Spottswoode’s Cabernet is quite gracious in 2016, not to mention incredibly delicious.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “Beautifully rendered, with a focused beam of gently mulled red and black currant fruit that glides through atop a subtle but persistent loamy structure. Light tea and alder notes fill in throughout, ending with a wave of fruit that is alluringly lined with latent mineral tension. Best from 2021 through 2040. 4,030 cases made.”
The average price nationally is $232
Dunn Vineyards Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, California 2014 750ML ($149.95) $128 pre-arrival special
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 96+ points “Dark ruby. Captivating violet lift to the aromas and flavors of cassis, kirsch, licorice and mocha. Plush and fine-grained; extremely deep in the middle palate but this extremely rich wine impresses as much for its finesse as for its sheer density and power. Finishes with wonderfully harmonious tannins and great slow-mounting length. Owing to its sheer density and baby fat, the wine is edge-free from the start, but it’s likely to evolve at a snail’s pace and last for decades.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain has an incredibly evocative nose of crème de cassis, plum preserves and fresh wild blueberries with touches of chocolate mints, tilled soil, yeast extract, chargrill and scorched earth. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with fresh, crunchy black fruit, framed by firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long with bags of energy.”
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Trending Wines of the Weekend
Cameron Winery Reserve Chardonnay, Dundee Hills 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
VinopolNote: The ‘Reserve’ level of Cameron Chardonnay is an incredible deal. Made of declassified barrels of Clos Electrique and Abbey Ridge, so without the new oak that the lower level bottling sees, this wine shows facets of the grace and intensity of Abbey and the Clos without the price tag of those higher end bottlings.
Domaine D’Henri 821 Chardonnay Brut Nature, Burgundy 2017 750ML ($31.95) $26 special
VinopolNote “Domaine d’Henri has emerged as one of our favorite Chablis producers, so when we heard they (now) made bubbles, we had to get some. It lives up to expectations, too. This is Blanc de Blancs done in a Brut Nature style, with great minerality and distinct Chablis chalk in its veins.”
Chateau Coutet, Barsac 2014 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Wine Spectator 96 points “This shows the vivid, racy side of Barsac, with streaming flavors of pineapple, yellow apple, green plum and white ginger, displaying lovely energy from start to finish. Ends with enough honeysuckle and orange blossom notes to balance the richness. Best from 2020 through 2035. 4,000 cases made.”Why wait, indeed?
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($31.95) $24 special
Case-12 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($289.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle!)
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “Opening with nice reduction but precise and ripe fruit as well as crunchy slate aromas on the nose, the 2016 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett is pure and flinty, well-structured and quite aristocratic (though a frivolous aristocrat), with a firm structure, lush fruit and a lovely lightness and buoyancy. Very stimulating and mouthwatering, but it’s far too young to appreciate the full complexity it will deliver in a couple of years. Salty, grippy and fruity—just a perfect Kabinett.”
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling 91 points “Super-fresh and vibrant with a cool, mineral-herbal personality and a very clean, long finish. You could drink it any time during the next decade, but why wait?”
Cantina del Pino Albesani, Barbaresco DOCG 2015 750ML ($69.95) $55 special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “One of the many highlights in this range, the Cantina del Pino’s 2015 Barbaresco Albesani is a wine of real gravitas and vertical power. A whole range of floral and savory notes develop in this statuesque, potent Barbaresco. Dried flowers, herbs, cedar, tobacco and mint add myriad shades of nuance. The Albesani is one of the most reticent wines in this lineup today, but it has an explosive energy that is just waiting to emerge. Time in the glass reveals a Barbaresco of exquisite beauty.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “Of the single-vineyard Barbarescos presented by Cantina del Pino, the 2015 Barbaresco Albesani shows the darkest color and richest appearance. The wine is svelte and tight with dark fruit nuances of wild blueberry, spice, tobacco and moist earth or black truffle. This is a beautiful, solid and tight wine that will open nicely with a few more years of cellar age. Only 3,000 bottles were made.”
Felsina Berardenga Rancia, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Felsina Berardenga Rancia, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2016 1.5L ($119.95) $99 special
Decanter Magazine 97 points “The south-facing Rancia vineyard reaches altitudes of 420 metres, overlooking the lower-lying vineyards of Colli Senesi. It boasts complex soils of calcareous clay layered with the chalky white limestone-like alberese and schistose galestro. This 2016 vintage is simply stunning. It’s stately yet gracious, with personality for days, leading with a sumptuous nose of smoke, exotic spice and iron-rich earth. Ripe fruit coats the mouth yet it remains buoyant and tangy as chalky tannins charge in to frame the palate. A seductive wine with an appetising, savoury edge and a long, long life ahead. Drinking Window 2023 – 2041.”
Antonio Galloni 96+ points “The 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is powerful, rich and explosive, with tremendous drive. Even so, several bottles have been quite closed. That is probably a very good sign for the long-term, but readers should not plan on touching a bottle anytime soon. A wine of vertical drive and aromatic nuance, the 2016 Rancia is super-complexed. Only with a few hours of air does it show the nuances and layers that were so evident from barrel. The 2016 is a painfully stubborn wine in the early going, but it will offer superb drinking pleasure for those who can wait.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia knocks it out of the park. Like the other new releases from Fèlsina, this pure expression of Sangiovese needs more time to evolve and improve with bottle age. But even at this young stage, you are made fully aware of the beautiful intensity and complexity of the quality fruit at its core. There is so much energy and tension here, further reinforced by the fresh acidity of the vintage. There are vibrant tones of wild cherry, raspberry and spice, followed up by white truffle and tilled earth.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “This features ripe, juicy black cherry and black currant fruit, with licorice, earth and tobacco flavors. Firm tannins frame the elements, imparting structure and complexity for the long haul. Terrific texture. Best from 2022 through 2042.—B.S.”K Vintners produced a winning single vineyard Cab in 2016!
Substance ‘Cs’ Vineyard Collection Powerline Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
The average listed price is $45
Case-12 Varner El Camino Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County 2016 750ML ($299.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Antonio Galloni 92 points “Bob and Jim Varner’s 2016 Chardonnay is terrific. Orchard fruit, white flowers, mint, tangerine oil and light tropical overtones infuse the 2016 with notable character. Los Alamos Chardonnays tend to be a bit more lifted, but there is plenty of depth here. Most of the wine was aged in large foudre, which further helps in retaining energy.”
Polaner Selections note “The wine was fermented 100% in stainless steel then aged in a combination of new Francois Freres puncheons (26%) for 6 months and the remainder (74%) in stainless steel on the lees with no malolactic fermentation.”Bevan Cellars Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 special
Wine Advocate 97+ points “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard is very deep purple-black in color with an earthy, meaty, broody nose with notes of mocha over baked plums and crème de cassis plus wafts of spice box and mincemeat. The palate is full-bodied, concentrated, rich and earthy with great vibrancy on the finish. 839 cases produced.”
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “From a steep hillside in Oakville, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard offers a more savory, masculine, layered style as well as a huge nose of red and black fruits, dried herbs, chocolate, and earth. It hits the palate with a full-bodied, mouthfilling style that carries plenty of tannins, a deep, concentrated mid-palate, and a great finish. I like it today, yet it’s going to continue drinking brilliantly for two decades.”
Bevan Cellars Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard, Oakville 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 special
Wine Advocate 98 points “A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard is scented of pure plums and ripe blueberries with redcurrants and touches of lavender, roses, bay leaves and dusty earth. The palate is medium to full-bodied, firm, fine-grained, vibrant and refreshing, finishing long and perfumed. 1,403 cases produced.”
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “The 2016 Tench Vineyard EE Red Wine checks in as a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Merlot, which is the smallest amount of Cabernet Franc to date. Brought up in new barrels, it has gorgeous blue fruits, violets, spring flowers, and damp earth. Medium to full-bodied, elegant, and just about as seamless and silky as it gets, this is a magical wine to drink over the coming 15 years or more.”
Bevan Cellars ‘Ontogeny’ Red, Oakville 2016 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Case-6 Bevan Cellars ‘Ontogeny’ Red, Oakville NE 2016 750ML ($719.95) $569 special (that’s only $94.83/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “While the 2016 Ontogeny Red Wine might be the least expensive wine in the lineup, it’s unquestionably at the same quality level as the top tier releases. Boasting a saturated purple color and sensational notes of plums, currants, chocolate, and graphite, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, incredible opulence and decadent, no hard edges and perfect overall balance. It’s the real deal, and readers should snatch up this beauty.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “Blended of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 15% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot, the deep purple-black colored 2016 Ontogeny Proprietary Red Wine gives pure blackberries, black cherries and blueberries with bay leaves and black pepper plus a touch of cedar. The palate is medium to full-bodied, fresh, grainy and harmonious, finishing long and juicy. 2,963 cases produced.”
R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Disgorged July 2019. No reviews for this disgorgement. Review for May 2018 disgorgement:
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is especially bright and tense in this release, whereas it has previously been a bit more creamy. No matter, this Coutier’s 100% Chardonnay from vineyards in Ambonnay remains one of the best wines in the range, as well as a hidden gem in Champagne. Lemon peel, mint and freshy cut white flowers add energy to a gorgeous Champagne loaded with both character and distinction. This release is 60% 2013 and 40% reserve wines. Dosage is 6 grams per liter. Disgorged: May 2018.”Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($419.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90 points “The latest release of André Clouet’s NV Brut Grand Réserve Grand Cru is showing well, exhibiting a nicely integrated bouquet of red apple, ripe citrus fruit, honeycomb and blanched almonds, followed by a medium to full-bodied, enveloping palate with a fine mousse, ripe but racy acids and an elegant, understated profile, concluding with a well-defined finish. This is a stylish, harmonious wine that makes for a fine introduction to the Clouet portfolio.” [Reviewed April 2019]
Case-12 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($419.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle!)
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 3L ($349.95) $289 special
John Gilman 90 points “I believe that this bottle of André Clouet “Silver” Blanc de Noirs non-vintage Brut Nature is from the base year of 2013, as it has a small code printed on the back of the neck label that says “LS13”. In any case, the wine is quite good, showing that lovely structural rounding from a bit of additional aging in the cellars. The bouquet offers up scents of apple, nectarine, bread dough, a good base of soil and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and nicely balanced, with refined mousse, bright, nicely-integrated acids and a long, complex finish. This is a quite good bottle of Brut Nature. 2019-2030+.”
The average price is $46
Case-12 Andre Clouet Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne NV 750ML ($499.95) $444 special (that’s only $/bottle!)
Andre Clouet Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne NV 1.5L ($119.95) $99 special
Andre Clouet Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne NV 3L ($379.95) $319 special
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90 points “The latest release of Clouet’s deeply colored NV Brut Rosé No 3 Grand Cru is showing well, opening in the glass with notes of blood orange, red berries, ripe apples and oatmeal. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, broad and vinous, with ripe acids, a frothy mousse and a moderately intense finish. This is an attractive, gastronomic rosé that hails exclusively from Bouzy.” [Reviewed April 2019]
The average price is $50
Case-6 Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($394.95) $279 special (that’s only $46.50/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2009 Brut Dream Vintage is a very pretty, expressive Champagne. Hazelnut, dried flowers, spices, mint, chamomile and lightly honeyed notes are all wonderfully laced together. Medium in body, radiant and quite open, the 2009 will drink well upon release.”
Case-6 Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2012 750ML ($399.95) $299 special (that’s only $49.83/bottle!)
The next best price is $61
Wine Spectator 89 points “This juicy, full-bodied red features a licorice-tinged core of cherry tart and red currant flavors, with details of violet and mineral. Tangy elements linger into the moderately tannic finish. Drink now through 2025.”
Case-6 Ramos Pinto 20 Year Old Quinta do Bom Retiro Tawny Port NV 750ML ($399.95) $369 special (that’s only $61.50/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Decanter 98 points “From a single estate where a quarter of the vines are more than 80 years old: soft and seamless, boasting waves of dates, dried figs, brazil nuts and toasted almonds. Suave silky texture and wonderful savoury- sweet length. Supremely good.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Old gold in color, this is the most complete style of aged tawny. The long barrel aging (in old barrels) has given concentration, a touch of oxidation and a wonderful spicy character. It is rich, luscious and beautifully ready to drink.”
Case-6 Ramos Pinto Late Bottled Vintage Port ($169.95) $136 special (that’s only $22.67/bottle!)
Decanter 95 points “A ripe, intense, full-flavoured vintage-a-like with rich juicy plums and berries, earthy spice and opulent tannins. Elegant, complex and plenty of wine for the money!”
Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2013 Late Bottled Vintage Port is a traditional LBV, unfiltered and bottled with a long cork in 2017. It is a blend of 51% Touriga Franca and 36% Touriga Nacional, the rest being Sousão and a field blend. It comes in with 95 grams per liter of residual sugar. When I saw this the first time around, when it was not quite bottled, it seemed rather fruity and forward for a relatively dry LBV. With some time in the bottle, that has changed, as I expected. It shows beautiful structure now, real but controlled tannins. The fruit has dried a little to give this a somewhat sterner feel, but its exuberant beginnings are nicely replaced by a more nuanced finish laced with blackberries and dried herbs. There are some cistus aromatics up front too. This should develop more over the next 5-10 years and hold for another decade or more beyond that, without problem. This is another fine LBV from Ramos Pinto.”
Case-6 Ramos Pinto Tawny Port, Portugal NV 750ML ($109.95) $89 special (that’s only $14.83/bottle!)
Importer Note “Ramos Pinto’s wood-aged ports are blended from several vintages and several quintas. Unlike the majority of port houses, Ramos Pinto owns almost all of its own vineyards and controls the grape quality from pruning to harvest. The Tawny is a three to five-year-old blend obtained by blending wines with different degrees of maturity brought about by the ageing process in barrels and hogshead casks. This is a tawny red with a topaz meniscus. The first aroma gives the impression of buoyancy and develops into a great smoothness acquired from having been matured in wood. In the mouth, it feels light, warm and very soft as a result of its ageing. This adolescent Port is mature and fruity, with a complex and delicate character. Its finish is perfectly balanced, giving it some delicateness.”
Importer Note “The Lágrima is a special port made from extremely ripe grapes which confer body and density to the wine. It is a favorite of the Portuguese, who enjoy it at any time of day. This is the sweetest of all Port wines with around 140 grams of sugar per liter. This port has a predominantly golden color. Within its characteristic fruit and sweetness, floral aromas of chamomile and orange blossom stand out with hints of honey. It has a light, unctuous palate with flavors of ripe fruit surrounded by an intense freshness. It has a rich, persistent finish with a pleasant touch of honey.”
I had the privilege of tasting through an extensive lineup of the new Champagne releases that will be hitting our shelves over the next few weeks. Highlights included the 2008 Roederer Cristal, new releases from one of my all-time favorite growers (Pierre Gimonnet), and the ever-popular best-priced Bereche NV (the 2016-base is stunning!).An unexpected stand out was newish-to-the-shop grower Doyard, a small RM from the Côte des Blancs village of Vertus. Their entry-level Vendemieire Blanc de Blancs NV is very pretty, and a rival for Bereche’s spot as my favorite $40 Champagne this year. Like Bereche and Roederer, the estate works low to no-malo and dosage, so acids tend towards the green apple (malic) over buttery (lactic). To keep things balanced, the wines have a deep core of minerality and the body you’d expect from a Côte des Blancs estate. The Vendemieire is crisp and tart with a palpable minerality and a lovely structure. I’ll be laying down a six pack for sipping over the next five or so years.
The top wine tasted was the Clos de l’Abbaye Blanc de Blancs 2013. This is a vintage that I’ve been particularly excited about for Champagne. It was one of the latest harvests in decades, with painfully slow (read: classic) maturity. Fortunately, Champagne avoided the rain and other nasty results of a cool year. The Côte des Blancs in particular produced, in the words of Antonio Galloni “drop-dead gorgeous” Champagnes.
The Clos de l’Abbaye is a single, walled vineyard farmed biodynamically by the estate. The 2013 is a crystalline and crunchy Champagne with elegance and verve tempered with body and minerality. Unlike some of the more austere low-dosage/ non-malo Champagnes from 2013, this has a backbone of deep minerals that keeps it from becoming overwhelmingly tart and screechy. Minty coolness and floral citrus offset white flowers and a suggestion of hazelnuts. This is a Champagne to cellar; a show-stopper now, it will improve greatly with 10+ years. Of course, when you compare this bottling to other Cote des Blancs clos (cough, cough, Krug Clos du Mesnil) bottlings, the price is an obscene value.
Doyard Clos de l’Abbaye Premier Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
60+ year old vines. Clos de l’Abbaye is a true clos worked biodynamically in Vertus 1er Cru, just behind the Doyard estate.
The average price is $104
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 95 points “Fermented in used barrels with blocked malolactic, Doyard’s 2008 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru saw 108 months on the lees before it was disgorged with three grams per liter dosage. Wafting from the glass with a complex bouquet of gingerbread, warm biscuits, citrus oil, dried white flowers and a delicate hint of olorosso sherry, it’s medium to full-bodied, deep and incisive, with an racy spine of acidity, a concentrated core of fruit and a long, searingly intense and delicately sapid finish. The subtle oxidative qualities lend it an appealingly old fashioned feel. As Doyard followers may know, this cuvée derives from Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cramant, Avize and Oger.”
50+ y/o vines. 70% Avize Grand Cru, 10% Oger Grand Cru, 10% Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru, 10% Cramant Grand CruDoyard Oeil de Perdrix Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne 2013 750ML ($139.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 95 points “Doyard’s 2013 Grand Cru Extra Brut Millésime Œil de Perdrix is showing superbly, bursting from the glass with an expressive bouquet of honeyed red apples, brown sugar, confit citrus fruits and warm, exotic spices that speak of mature grapes. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, broad and vinous, with tangy acids, a deep core of ripe, concentrated fruit, a frothy mousse and a long, sapid finish.”
The next best price is $115
John Gilman 92 points “The Cuvée Vendémiare from Champagne Doyard is not marked on the label as a Blanc de Blancs, though it is composed entirely of chardonnay. The wine was finished with a dosage of four grams per liter after aging sur latte for fifty-six months. The wine is from the base year of 2013, but with only half of the blend from that year and thirty percent from 2012 and twenty percent from 2010. Forty percent of the vins clairs for this bottling are now barrel aged in older Burgundy casks. The wine offers up a superb nose of pear, apple, brioche, almond, chalky minerality and a gently smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and rock solid at the core, with excellent mineral drive, frothy mousse and excellent length and grip on the poised, balanced and complex finish. This cuvée has a great track record for aging in my experience and this new release will be no exception. It is quite tasty already, but it is a young wine and will be even better if tucked away in the cellar for five to ten years! 2019-2045+.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 91 points “(Reviewed Apr 2019) Disgorged with four grams per liter dosage after 56 months sur lattes, the latest release of Doyard’s NV Brut Premier Cru Cuvée Vendémiaire bursts with lively aromas of green apple, lemon oil, wet stones and blanched almonds. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, bright and incisive, with a crisp, elegantly tight-knit core of fruit, ripe but tangy acids and a vibrant, delicately chalky finish. It’s entirely Chardonnay, from Vertus, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Cramant.”
Importer note “50% ’13, 30% ’12, 20% ’11”
Thank you for reading!