In Today’s Newsletter:
E. Pira – March Clearance Sale
Trend Alert: Muga
Appellations of the Northern Rhone: Crozes Hermitage
Catena’s Epic Single Vineyard Malbec
More March Clearance Sales!
Burgundy: By the Vintage / Buy the Vintage
February Clearance Sale: Ends in Two Days!
There’s no ‘E’ in March
But there’s an ‘E’ in our March Clearance Sale
Arriving March 2nd
And On Clearance Now
VinopolNote: Serious Dolcetto – 100% from Barolo Cru vineyards in Monforte d’Alba: Ravera (15 yr old vines), Le Coste (25 yr old vines), and Mosconi (50 yr old vines).
The average price is $22
James Suckling 97 points “Pure roses on the nose. Hints of raspberries and lemon rind. So pure. Full body and ultra-fine tannins. Powerful yet so ethereal and soul-touching. A fabulously crafted Cannubi. Better in 2020.”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2012 Barolo Cannubi is super-finessed, open-knit and gracious, with striking aromatic lift and plenty of precision. Bright red stone fruit, chalk and white pepper give the 2012 its distinctive aromatic signatures. Soft tannins and exceptional balance add to the wine’s considerable appeal. The 2012 is a bit more buttoned up than it was last year, but every bit as beautiful. This is a gorgeous Barolo from Chiara Boschis.”
The average price is $95
Antonio Galloni 95 points “A dark, brooding wine, the 2011 Barolo Mosconi captures the sense of this Monforte site in its intense flavors and broad, ample frame. Black cherries, savory herbs, mint, tobacco, smoke and incense all flesh out in the glass as this opulent, virile Barolo shows off its personality. While the Cannubi is purely silk and sensuality, the Mosconi is all muscle. It will therefore hold more appeal to readers who like massive, powerful Barolos.”
The next best price is $79.93
The average price is $94
Antonio Galloni 95+ points “A gorgeous, totally striking wine, the 2012 Barolo Via Nuova opens with compelling, captivating aromatics. Deep, fleshy and powerful, the 2012 has blossomed beautifully over the last year, suggesting it still has room to improve. Tasted next to the Cannubi and Mosconi, the Via Nuova is a bit deeper than the former but more polished than the latter. Herb, smoke, licorice and menthol meld into the powerful, savory finish.”
The next best price is $79.94
The average price is $88
Keep reading to see more March Clearance Sale wines below!
Arrives in May
Already Trending Today:
James Suckling 99 points “The wonderfully silky texture with an added juiciness is what makes this wine so very special. The flawless and seamless nature to the wine is so impressive that it takes your breath away. Plenty of beautiful fruit but what mouthfeel. Drink now and forever.”
Decanter 96 points “Only made in the best vintages, and they don’t get any better than 2010, this is a brooding, ageworthy blend of mostly Tempranillo with 20% Garnacha and 10% Mazuelo. It’s rich, dark and complex with stylish tannins and scented oak.”
Case-12 Bodegas Muga Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2013 750ML ($299.95) $219 pre-arrival special (that’s only $18.25/bottle!)
James Suckling 92 points “This is an excellent 2013 with such purity and finesse. Cherry, stone and light cedar aromas follow through to a full body, very fine tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Hints of cedar. It shows a focused energy. Drink now.”
The average price is $27/bottle!
Appellations of the Northern Rhone
Welcome to a new series in our newsletter where we go through the appellations of the Northern Rhone. We’ll be talking about the styles, the major players and the terroir in a region we love (that doesn’t get the respect it deserves).
First up on the list is Crozes-Hermitage. Why Crozes to start off? First and foremost, it’s a great entry point into the Northern Rhone if you don’t have a lot of experience with the wines. These are attractively priced, great value wines that still show of the soul and character of the region and grape.
The primary reason for this attractive pricing is that the appellation is large—it extends 10 miles north and south from Hermitage, against which it’s constantly judged. This size means a lot of variability, both in terms of producer effort and in the land that they farm. Picking Crozes at random can be a tricky exercise, but because of this, even the wines from the very top producers are modest in price (and we prefer only to carry the good stuff).
Crozes has both hills that resemble the more famous AOCs of the region and also flatter areas, with deeper soils that have more clay in them. The difference in wines can be huge—those deep soils give wines massive fruit but little of the mineral depth we look for in the Northern Rhone. As a result, the key is to find great farmers on shallower soils (though almost all Crozes has more fruit than something like St. Joseph). We’ve done a lot of that pre-selecting for you, though, so know everything here has some serious merit to it!
Featured Wine from Crozes Hermitage
Arriving in May
Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck-Rhone Report 97 points “The finest vintage to date, better even than the stellar 2010, the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Domaine De Thalabert is a gorgeous, deep, layered, and incredibly satisfying Crozes. Blackcurrants, olive tapenade, truffles and earthy notes all emerge from this full-bodied, gorgeously textured and seamless 2015. With fine tannin and no hard edge, it can be drunk today or cellaring for 15-20 years.”
Delas Freres Crozes-Hermitage Le Clos, Rhone 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93+ points “Similar to the Domaine des Grands Chemins, yet with additional structure, the inky purple/ruby colored 2013 Crozes Hermitage le Clos has lots of minerality in its smoky, meaty, dark fruited profile. Medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, structured yet balanced, give it 2-4 years of cellaring and enjoy over the following decade or more.”
Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage ‘Au Fil du Temps,’ Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points “Possibly the wine of the appellation and a true “wow” wine, the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Au Fil Du Temps offers sensational notes of cassis, toasted spice, vanilla and blackberry jam. Full-bodied, concentrated and polished, with perfect balance, it’s a gorgeous, seamless beauty that ranks with the finest Crozes-Hermitage I’ve ever tasted. It should be capable of lasting for 10-15 years.”
Wine Advocate 93-95 points “The top cuvée of the estate (which isn’t made in every vintage) is the 2015 Crozes Hermitage Au Fil Du Temps, which is 100% Syrah from the Les Saviaux lieu-dit (near the village of Glun), raised in once-used demi-muids. Like all the cuvées here, it sports an inky purple/opaque color and has a sensational bouquet of blueberry, strawberry, black cherry, graphite and smoked herbs. Full-bodied, rounded, seamless and impeccably balanced, it’s hands down one of the most impressive Crozes out there.”
Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage Les Trois Chenes, Rhone 2015 750ML ($31.95) $24 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “The 2015 Crozes-Hermitage Les Trois Chênes is the entry-level wine from Darnaud, but man, what a wine! Cassis, toasted spice, licorice and hints of violets flow to a ripe, pure, polished Crozes-Hermitage that has sweet tannin, a pure texture, and a great finish. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “Lovely, with warm, lush layers of fig, boysenberry and blackberry confiture coursing through, inlaid with a bolt of graphite and echoing warm fruitcake and licorice details through the finish. Best from 2018 through 2025.”
Emmanuel Darnaud Crozes-Hermitage Mise en Bouche, Rhone 2015 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 13 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 90 points “His entry-level effort is the wonderfully fruity, rounded and sexy 2015 Crozes Hermitage Mise En Bouche, which is already hard to resist. It offers tons of black and blue fruits, peppery herbs and hints of cured meats. I love its purity and it’s ideal for drinking over the coming 6-7 years.”
The average price is $21
Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2015 750ML ($29.95) $26 special, 14 bottles in stock now
Grapelive 92+ points “The Louis Barruol Saint Cosme Crozes Hermitage is as terroir driven and pure as it get for Northern Rhone Syrah with exceptional detail and seductive laters of earthy spicy elements with leather, salty stone, violets and a heady mix of black, blue and red fruits on the medium weighted palate. While known and famous for his estate Grenache based wines of Gigondas, Barruol has a gifted talent for making great value Syrah wines, like this one especially, but also, it’s a little revealed fact that his basic Cotes du Rhone is 100% Syrah, and his Sant-Joseph and Cote-Rotie bottlings are awesome. This wine nails down the classic Northern Rhone profile with boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and light cassis notes leading the way on the medium full bodied palate along with graphite/camphor, iron, anise, a touch of game/leather and faint cedar all lifted by peppercorns and ripe tannins. Saint Cosme makes some absolutely thrilling wines, and this one is really good and highlights the vintage’s richness and warm feel to perfection, while still being traditional and balanced in form and style. Look for this Crozes-Hermitage to gain and evolve over the next 3 to 5 years in bottle, though even drinking nicely right now, you can open this one without much quilt.”
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91-93 points “Bright violet. Vibrant dark berry, violet and licorice aromas are complemented by suggestions of olive and woodsmoke. Palate-staining blackberry and bitter cherry flavors are joined by peppery spice and mineral qualities that build on the back half. Manages to be at once rich and energetic, carrying no excess fat. The very long, juicy finish is framed by harmonious tannins and leaves behind a sappy dark berry note.”
Vincent Paris Selection Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 36 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote “This negociant bottling represents incredible value in the world of Northern Rhone Syrah. Purple-fruited with nice spice and a touch of bacon, the wine shows the balance and weight you’d expect from a producer like Paris. Although it’s delicious now, giving it a year or five would do the wine a lot of good—which isn’t something we can always say about a wine at this price.”
In Stock Now!
Catena’s Epic Single Vineyard Malbec
Catena is the standard bearer for what we think of as classical, high end Malbec, you know–the stuff that rivals Bordeaux and California. We scored an incredible deal on some of their top wines. The Wine Advocate and James Suckling loved the Nicasia, and we think you will, too. The average price on Wine Searcher is over $100 and we’re not far from half of that lofty figure. These is a stupendous wine and, for the price, an unbelievable value.
In Stock Now from Catena Zapata
Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyards Malbec, La Consulta, Argentina 2012 750ML ($129.95) $69 special
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2012 Malbec Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard feels fresher and more harmonious than the 2011, when in reality the vintage character is the opposite. It is sourced from the vineyard that names the wine and that is located in Altamira. The Malbec grapes fermented in open barrels and cement vats with 15% whole-cluster Cabernet Franc. There is one extra level of precision and harmony here. It has an elegant nose and the palate almost reflects the tension in the skin of the grapes with its a velvety texture and great acidity. This is really tasty and long, it could be the best Nicasia ever produced.”
James Suckling 95 points “Vivd aromas of currants and blackberries. So much dark fruit. Violets too. Full body, yet buttressed with a center palate of salty acidity and firm tannins. From grapes grown in Altamira. Persistent and vibrant. Drink or hold.”
The average price nationally is $109
Getting a Jump Start
On Our March Clearance!
It may be the end of February, but we wanted to get March started right. We’ve started off our March Clearance Sale with a bang—tons of great deals, including on a few German Auction wines. Also don’t miss our pricing on back vintage Deiss ! Also, if you’ve been debating anything on the February Clearance Sale, you only have a few days left to grab them, so act quickly.
Weingut Joh. Bapt. Schafer Burg Layer Schlossberg Riesling Spatlese, Nahe 2015 750ML ($69.95) Was $59, Now $49 special
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2015 Burg Layer Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese was auctioned in Bad Kreuznach in September 2016. Sourced from vines that are less than 30 years old, it opens with a very clear, ripe and almost tropical fruit aroma intertwined with delicate, flinty notes from the reddish/silvery slatey clay soils. This is another reductive styled, racy, piquant and finesse-full Riesling with tropical fruit aromas, some toasted speck and date flavors. Its combination of finesse and lush fruit texture reminds me of red slate Rieslings from the Mosel such as Ürziger Würzgarten or the red slate parts of the Pünderich Marienburg. The finish is full of tension and grip. A gorgeous Spätlese of which 400 liters have been produced.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “Made from a 25-year-old parcel and harvested at 94° Oechsle, this delivers a nice set of fruity and juicy aromatics including yellow peach, quince star anise, rose water and grapefruit juice. The wine starts off on the light side on the palate but creamy fruits paired with rich Auslese GK styled sweetness quickly take over before some pear, pineapple and peach lead the way to a juicy and creamy long finish. This is a nicely creamy and clean Auslese GK styled Riesling. 2022-2035”
Mosel Fine Wines 89+ points “The bright-white colored wine offers a piquant nose of lime, white minerals, aniseed seeds and herbs. The wine is fruity and focused on the palate and the finish is rather sharp. This slender expression of Spätlese will need time to develop harmony and blossom aromatically. 2025-2040”
13% alcohol, 101g/L residual sugar, 5.32g/L total acidity
Wine Advocate & Stephen Tanzer 92 points “(pinot gris and muscat) Full orange-gold. Pungent, high-toned aromas of orange, spices and medicinal herbs; conveys a strong botrytis character. A very sweet, energetic fruit bomb in the mouth, with brisk acidity giving grip to the rather exotic flavors of tangerine, apricot, yellow peach, botanical herbs and spices. Big and broad but not heavy. Finishes long, tactile and slightly phenolic, showing its pinot gris side today.” ST
Now it’s even lower!
The next best price is $63.99Want to see all of the wines on the February/March Clearance Sales?Just click here to head straight to the website!
By the Vintage / Buy the Vintage
Memory of the previous vintage – a difficult, though ultimately satisfactory one – was ripe once the 2008 season came around. Early summer seemed to be a mess of fluctuating weather, leading to a July full of mildew issues and loss of fruit. September of 2008 came and saved the day, with plenty of sun and rather brisk winds which dried out the weathered vines. Stunningly low yields were almost uniformly reported, though the quality of clusters which survived shone through brightly. Accordingly, the successes of 2008 can be laid at the hands of a careful harvest and an ever closer edit on the sorting tables.
Burgundy often plays out like theatre, abounding with suspense, shock, heartbreak, and triumph. In the instance of this vintage, the hero has endured a formidable villain.
“The better wines offer classic Burgundy intensity without weight, an impression of tightly coiled energy, and sappy fruit lifted by ineffable high notes of flowers, minerals and spices, not to mention sharply defined site character. The best may surprise with their longevity.” – Vinous Media 2008 Vintage Review
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points “Palish medium red. Medicinal red cherry, minerals, crushed stone, violet, rose petal and white pepper on the noble nose. Wonderfully silky and pure, with ineffable flavors of red fruits, spices, flowers and minerals. This is wonderfully delicate, and not a fleshy wine, yet saturates every square millimeter of the palate with flavor. The long, sweet, rising finish offers terrific cut and floral lift. Should make a worthy successor to the outstanding 2007, which also transcends its village. Hervet says that this will be bottled by hand, without filtration.”ST
The next best price is $129.99
Stephen Tanzer 91 points “Good deep red. Black cherry, licorice and herbs on the nose, given punch by strong peppery spices. Sweet, supple and nicely concentrated if a bit less complex and high-pitched than the 2009 version. Lovely black cherry fruit displays a tangy sweetness. The very long finish features dusty, fine-grained tannins. The crop level here was just 18 hectoliters per hectare, according to Boillot.” ST
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2008 Beaune Les Aigrots is another beautifully complete, harmonious wine. This deceptively mid-weight Beaune blossoms on the palate with a textured personality and tons of class. The gorgeous inner perfume flows through nicely to the intense, complex finish.”
Wine Enthusiast 93 points “Impressively rich and dense, with dark plum and sweet fruits signalling opulence. The wine has power and intensity although it never loses the acidity of the vintage.” WE
Wine Spectator 92 points “A red full of macerated cherry, vanilla, sweet spices and mineral, this is both stylish and powerful. Still a bit rigid, but well-proportioned, with grip on the finish. Just a bit rustic in the end. Best from 2014 through 2030. 15 cases imported.” WS
The next best price is $189.99
Burghound 93 points “A reserved but fresh and very pretty nose of primarily red berries cut with hints of earth and oak that complements well the rich, full-bodied and powerful broad-schouldered flavors that are supported by a firm tannic spine and excellent dry extract levels that coat the palate on the beautifully long finish. This is head and shoulders above the rest of the range but note that patience will be required.”
Burghound 89-92 points “Mild wood influence does not compromise the transparency of the fresh and earthy red pinot fruit nose that exhibits a slight sauvage character that can also be found on the energetic, detailed and tautly muscled middle weight flavors that possess good richness and more refinement than usual on the serious, long and linear finish where a touch of austerity can also be seen.” BH
The next best price is $115
February Clearance Sale
Ends in Two Days!
Here’s Our Guide:
Top Willamette Valley Pick:
VinopolNote: From the Heritage Block within the estate Nuestro Sueno Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills appellation. Aged in 40% new oak barrels from 18 months and bottled in April 2014. 58% Pommard clone and 42% Wadenswil clone. An expressive, earthy and fruity red from one of our favorite value producers!
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Top Washington Pick:
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2015 Syrah la Cote Rousse is a blockbuster Syrah from Red Mountain that’s from the Ranch at the End of The Road and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. It’s a mix of four different clones and is brought up in barrel. This deep, inky, seriously black Syrah gives up Hermitage-like notes of scorched earth, charred meats, graphite and licorice. It’s a big, concentrated effort that’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring and keep through 2035.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!Top Californian Picks:
Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2015 375ML ($149.95) Was $125, Now $99 special, 12 half-bottles in stock now
Winery notes: “Volcanic Hill is comprised of 8 acres of south facing hillside vineyard. It is the warmest of all our micro-climates. The color of the soil is gray, and the consistency is that of fluffy, volcanic ash, originally deposited from the eruption of Mt. Konocti 8 million years ago. Volcanic Hill is the longest lived of our wines. Our winemaker describes these wines as “full bodied, loaded with intense ripe berry fruit, cassis, violets and a smoky richness, finishing with good length and firm tannins. The Volcanic Hill bottling includes a small amount of the extra-ordinary Petit Verdot grape.”
Antonio Galloni 95+ points “A weightless, translucent wine, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon exudes class. Vibrant and finely sculpted, the 2014 possesses striking nuance from start to finish. Scents of lavender, rose petal, mint and sweet spice notes give the 2014 its brightness and sense of energy. Today, the 2014 is a bit compact relative to how it showed from barrel. I expect the wine will put on a bit more weight during its aging. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2014 at least a few years. Even today, though, the 2014 is a very pretty and pure wine.”
The average price is $112Top Burgundy Pick:
Case-6 Domaine Faiveley Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2010 750ML ($1199.95) $899 February Clearance Sale special, 2 six-packs in stock now (that’s only $149.83/bottle!)
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 93-96 points “(just 20 hectoliters per hectare produced): Good deep red. Very pure, complex nose melds black cherry, minerals, black pepper, wild herbs and an earthy nuance. Large-scaled, sweet and rich, with a strong mineral underpinning to the flavors of black cherry and spices. A very powerful and impressive Clos Vougeot with outstanding persistence. The crop-limiting effect of the December frost has produced a wine with stunning concentration.”
Burghound 92-95 points “This is unusually elegant in 2010 with its refined nose of raspberry and earth though there are background notes of grilled meat and smoke. The supple, mouth coating and utterly delicious broad-shouldered flavors possess a silky texture yet there is plenty of power and punch to the very firmly structured finish. While there is a certain delicacy present, this will still need all of 15 years to realize its full potential. Drink 2025+.”
The average price is $179Top Loire Pick:
Wine Advocate 97 points “What there was in this vintage of botrytis, Foreau reports, essentially went into his 2009 Vouvray Moelleux Reserve. Brown-spiced pear liqueur and quince preserves dominate the proceedings – wreathed in perfume of freesia and lily – and there are buoyancy and elegance, despite viscosity, enormous richness of texture and residual sweetness, that indeed point to the magic nobility rot can convey. Its sense of lift – when combined with luscious, still juicy suggestions of grapefruit and blood orange familiar from the corresponding demi-sec – wards off any risk of palate fatigue. Mysterious botrytis manifestations of stale bread, truffle, and white raisin emerge from the empty glass. This extraordinary achievement will stand with such past great Foreau moelleux reserves as 2005, 2003, and 1989-90 and is likely to merit 30 or more years of consideration. In direct comparison, what strikes one about the 2005 today is its more obvious sense of botrytis and its slightly diminished sense of acidity and lift. But it maintains the edge in sheer complexity.” WA
The average price is $88Top Piedmont Pick:
Wine Spectator 96 points “A wealth of cherry flavor is surrounded by cut grass, tar, tobacco and iron notes in this complex, intense red. There is plenty of tension and a long aftertaste of licorice, tar and mineral. Balanced yet austere, this needs time to integrate fully. Best from 2023 through 2042.”
Antonio Galloni 94+ points “The 2012 Barolo Cerretta is intriguing to taste next to the Francia, as it is much more shut down and affected by its recent bottling. Today the tannins are searing and large-grained, a characteristic this wine did not show from barrel. The clay-rich soils in Cerretta tend to give a broader style of Barolo compared to Francia, where limestone is prevalent, and that is very much what comes through today. Hints of dark red cherry, plum, smoke, leather, tobacco and licorice struggle to emerge from a wall of tannin. Today, the Cerretta is a brute, with little of the perfume and finesse it showed in cask. Readers will have to be patient. The only question is how much.
Wine Advocate 94 points “To be released in October 2016, the 2012 Barolo Cerretta opens to a profound and buoyant bouquet that is particularly driven by menthol freshness, as well as pretty nuances of balsam herb and forest fruit with licorice, tilled earth and truffle. The wine is balanced and ethereal. It’s so difficult to achieve this level of aromatic definition (especially in a warm year like 2012), but Roberto Conterno has done so with a deft hand. This is a complete expression of Barolo with aromatic intensity that is matched by an enduring sense of structure and medium-weight appeal.”
The average price is $227Top Austrian Pick:
David Schildknecht–Vinous 95-96 points “A pungently smoky, incisive, savory mélange of sage, dark tobacco and black pepper is allied to ripe peach and garlanded with heliotrope in a head-turningly intense nose. That full range of elements reprises on a polished palate, whose textural caress and sweet sense of ripeness are combined with welcome, tangy, chewy counterpoint of peach skin and a refreshingly juicy squirt of fresh lime. The finish offers a mouthwateringly prolonged, kaleidoscopic interaction of fruity, savory and smoky elements – plenty rich, yet with rare cut and animation for its vintage.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “Peach, apple and brown spice flavors mingle in this opulent yet structured Riesling, whose vivid acidity offsets the flesh. Underlying citrus and stone elements emerge on the finish. Drink now through 2023.”
The average price is $81
Thank you for reading!