In Today’s Newsletter:
Hot New Bordeaux Offer
The “Sleeper of the Vintage”
A Solid Value for Old Vine Cab
New Arrival Special Feature
What’s the Best Value in Burgundy?
Classic, Structured, Undervalued Burgundy
From Chandon de Briailles
The Ne Plus Ultra of Mosel Wine
The “Sleeper of the Vintage”
A Solid Value for Old Vine Cab
We’re always on the hunt for older Bordeaux that offers good value. Generally, we’re looking for wines made in traditional styles from good, but not “epic” years. The more famous the vintage, the less likely it is that we can pick up wines for way below their true (drinking) value. Plus, there are barely “off-vintages” these days—a mid-tier vintage from the 00’s would have been top class in the 80’s due to the change in climate and vinicultural practices.
With that in mind, we were beyond excited when we got this offer from a trusted import partner. They’ve been spot on in acquiring older Bordeaux and discovering “overlooked” estates that are not going to clean up at auction but will leave quite the impression next to a roast chicken. They do a nice job talking about the offer, so we’re going to pass the microphone over, so to speak. The wine arrives at the end of the week.
“This wine is a game-changer. A true knockout epiphany wine for anyone claiming to be allergic to ‘off vintages’ from Bordeaux. It is an absolutely delicious drinking wine and will likely remain so for quite some time. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success with many ‘off vintage’ ex-chateau parcels approaching maturity; we’ve also been strong supporters of Haut Bergey and its serious pedigree-to-value ratio. But this is our first ‘off vintage’ Haut Bergey parcel, and we are pretty stoked to have found and imported this parcel after its restful decade-long slumber in the Chateau’s cellar. [They] are notorious for rigorous viticulture and being strong luminary figures for organic, natural and conscientiously-made Bordeaux. All facts which I presume many may already be familiar with. Haut Bergey’s ~30ha of clay and gravel-based vineyards (planted 55% Cab Sauv / 45% Merlot, though the 2007 has much more Cab Sav in its blend) have been exclusively farmed 100% organically for decades, long before gaining official organic certification in 2017.
“While I am sure that any 2007 Bordeaux offer may take some convincing for those who have been brainwashed to overlook non-Parker vintages, we are confident this will prove to become one of those textbook off-vintage epiphany wines for many who take the plunge (notwithstanding multiple legitimate scores plus Haut-Bergey’s renowned viticulture practices and pedigree-to-value ratio)….While this is clearly a very well-made wine, for context it is worth noting that 2007 is a vintage where the very top scoring reds ‘only’ received 93 or 94pts – including nearby Pessac-Leognan stars Haut Brion ($400+), Mission H-B ($250+) & Domaine de Chevalier.. plus Lafite, Petrus, Lafleur, etc… So at <$40 bucks this seems like a very solid amount of value for old vine Cabernet-driven Bordeaux.” – Importer Note
Arriving ETA March 8th:
Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan 2007 750ML ($39.95) $28 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan 2007 750ML ($389.95) $299 pre-arrival special (that’s only $24.92/bottle!)
Decanter 18/20 – Four Stars “Inky dark. Nose sooty, mineral, smoky. Palate has sweet fruit and firm tannins. Good concentration of flavour here. Very good fruit sweetness and ripeness of flavour, allied with fresh acidity. Very stylish wine. Long, fruity, mineral finish. Drink 2016-23. 4 stars.”
Robert Parker 89 points “A sleeper of the vintage, this constant over-achiever’s 2007 exhibits notes of plum sauce, soy, spice box, and unsmoked, high class cigar tobacco. This round, generous sleeper of the vintage shows good density, medium to full body, and a silky, smooth style. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.”
Stephen Tanzer 89 points “Full medium ruby. Wild if subdued aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate, licorice, game and leather. Juicy and intense but a bit youthfully bound-up, with fresh acidity perking up the concentrated, chewy mid-palate. A bit extractive but plenty rich for the year, and not green. The wine’s building tannins call for a few years of patience.”
The only other listing is a case of twelve for $372Our top trending pick for in-stock Bordeaux?It’s flying:
Case-12 Chateau Bel-Air Pomerol 2010 750ML ($419.95) $299 special (that’s only $24.92/bottle!)
Grapelive 92 points “The vintage shows through here without question, a great year makes this lovely Pomerol a terrific value and wonderfully textured wine from Chateau Bel-Air. This dark and full bodied Pomerol hits all the right notes and does so with class, vitality and verve. It shows beautiful detail and complexity in a forceful, but elegantly pure Merlot. This is really seductive stuff in the glass, holding its own against far more expensive labels with ease and poise. The rich layers of fruit, mineral tones and sweet tannin give decadence and refined structure, highlighting Merlot’s promise in a world that sometimes lacks the respect of this often maligned varietal. Chateau Bel-Air has captured in the bottle the right bank’s charm and beauty in this 2010, it shows terroir, with subtle loamy/earth, plummy dense mouth feel and stylish silken length with a wine that has the potential to age another 10 to 15 years, but is pretty darn good right now too. The lead off here is dark floral tones a hint of smoky cedar and black cherry fruit with blackberry, plum, dark kirsch liqueur along with a touch of mint, dried clay, a touch of cigar wrapper and vanilla. This fine Bordeaux delivers well beyond its price and is wonderful with food choices that range from duck breast, lamb, roast pork, wild mushroom dishes to prime rib, and or any comforting winter fare really, and it can also be enjoyed with cheeses or on its own. This is the kind of wine that brings you back to Bordeaux, and certainly makes you wonder why you don’t drink more Merlot. Drink this Chateau Bel-Air Pomerol from 2016 to 2028.”
The next best price is $39.99
New Arrival Special Feature
Let’s begin with a short digression about Cornas. When I first read Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route, the section that stuck most with me was the heartbreaking story of the lost vines of Cornas. As winemakers increasingly elected to seek their fortunes elsewhere rather than work the rustic and difficult slope of Cornas or chose to farm on the easier valley floor, weeds, trees and eventually houses took over the terraced vineyards. Vineyards were abandoned as modernity took root, and something was lost.What does this have to do with the neighboring appellation of Cote Rotie? Well, such a loss is not limited to Cornas alone. The abandonment of backbreaking work in difficult terrains happens elsewhere, too, including in Cote Rotie.
Yet, against all logic and practicality, it seems, some brave souls are not only continuing the work in their families’ vineyards, these hardy few are even seeking out abandoned vineyards to reclaim the former glory of these forgotten times. Crazy? Illogical? Romantic? Perhaps. But far be it from me to argue with the results.
If you’re unfamiliar with Domaine Garon, know that the family goes back hundreds of years in and around Ampuis. The domaine as we know it was started in the early 80’s, as they began to reclaim old, abandoned vineyards in Cote Rotie. The replanted vineyards were farmed carefully and sustainably, and for years the fruit was sold to negociants. Once the restored vineyards were old enough, the family started bottling the “Les Triotes.” Various higher-tier cuvees followed as the years progressed.
These are wines that appeal to the head, the heart and some instinctive sense of nostalgia. The quality of the fruit is evident from first sip—there’s a power and complexity to the wines that only comes from premier sites farmed by a master. The wines are mostly destemmed, with some, but not too much new oak and as a result these can be delicious and polished when young. With age, they turn into some of the greatest wines of Cote Rotie. These beauties just arrived, straight from the importer, and belong in any collector’s cellar.
In Stock Now:
Domaine Garon Condrieu La Vieille Maison, Rhone 2017 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Domaine Garon Cotes du Rhone ‘La Part des Vivants’ 2017 750ML ($21.95) $16.60 special
Domaine Garon ‘Les Grandes Parcelles’ Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes 2017 750ML ($29.95) $24 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 88-90 points “Lurid violet. Aromas of fresh, spice-accented black and blue fruits and licorice are given a spicy edge by a peppery flourish. Silky and appealingly sweet, offering juicy blueberry and cassis flavors that firm up steadily on the back half. Finishes on a subtly tannic note, featuring lingering blue fruit and pepper notes.”
Domaine Garon Cote Rotie Les Triotes, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Domaine Garon Cote Rotie Les Triotes, Rhone 2016 1.5L ($149.95) $119 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points “(40% new oak) Opaque ruby. Smoky, mineral-accented cherry and blueberry scents are complicated by hints of vanilla, Indian spices and licorice. Supple and broad on the palate, offering pliant blackberry and bitter cherry flavors that become sweeter as the wine opens up. A sexy floral pastille note emerges on the clinging finish, which shows excellent clarity and gentle, slow-building tannins.”
Jeb Dunnuck 91-93 points “From a mix of the La Triotes, Mollard, Combard, and Lancement lieux-dits, the 2016 Côte Rôtie Les Triotes is charming and elegant, with lots of black raspberries, vanilla oak, candied flowers and hints of meatiness. Medium to full-bodied, elegant and silky on the palate, it’s going to drink nicely right out of the gate, yet should evolve gracefully on its balance.”
Wine Advocate 90-92 points “The 2016 Cote Rotie Les Triotes is a blend of the domaine’s parcels in the Côte Blond that will spend 18 months in oak. It doesn’t have the excitement of the lieu-dit wines, but it’s solidly made, offering hints of cedar and vanilla over red berries. It’s medium to full-bodied, with a plush texture and a long, velvety finish.”
This is the only listing in the USA today for the magnum!
Domaine Garon Cote Rotie Lancement, Rhone 2016 750ML ($179.95) $138 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 94 points “(50% new oak and 50% whole clusters) Vivid purple. Candied cherry, blueberry, Moroccan spices and olive paste on the exotically perfumed nose. Silky, seamless and sweet on the palate, offering juicy, spice-laced black and blue fruit, floral pastille and spicecake flavors that tighten up slowly on the back half. A smoky mineral note comes up on the strikingly long finish, which is framed by smooth, well-integrated tannins.”
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The medium to full-bodied 2016 Cote Rotie Lancement is a stunning, seductive example of Cote Rotie, with fine herbal notes entwined around ripe blueberries and cracked spices. It’s creamy through the mid-palate and onto the plush finish, where it picks up hints of mocha and mint.”
Jeb Dunnuck 92-94 points “The most aromatic of the lineup is the 2016 Côte Rôtie Lancement, 100% Syrah that was 70% destemmed and will see 20 months in French oak. It’s loaded with notes of incense, dried violets, white pepper and assorted red and blue fruits. Medium to full-bodied, elegant and seamless on the palate, with building, fine tannin, it shines for its purity and length and is an impressive barrel sample.”
Domaine Garon Cote Rotie Les Rochins, Rhone 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points “(40% new oak) Bright violet. Smoke- and mineral-accented aromas of dark berries, cherry pie and vanilla, along with a hint of olive in the background. Supple, broad and sweet on the palate, offering concentrated black raspberry, spicecake and violet pastille flavors and a snap of smoky minerality on the back half. Shows impressive energy and detail and reveals no rough edges. Finishes velvety and quite long, displaying excellent focus, even tannins and lingering spiciness.”
Jeb Dunnuck 92-94 points “The 2016 Côte Rôtie Les Rochins from Garon is a more modern styled beauty that has plenty of toasty oak and vanilla, yet also has ample classic black raspberry, spice and floral nuances. It’s ripe, medium-bodied, beautifully balanced and polished, and is loaded with charm. This cuvée is 100% Syrah and includes 20% stems.”
Domaine Garon Cote Rotie La Sybarine, Rhone 2017 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 90-93 points “Brilliant purple. Ripe dark berries, olive and hints of camphor and cracked pepper on the fragrant nose. Sweet and energetic on the palate, offering juicy black and blue fruit flavors that pick up succulent floral and spice notes as the wine opens up. In a lively, precise style, showing very good clarity and length on a gently tannic finish that leaves olive paste and cassis notes behind.”
“Star bright pale gold in color thinning to a transparent rim. On the nose at open: earthy green tea and damp wool quickly gives way to a blast of pineapple fruit followed by nice graham cracker/brioche and honey notes. With medium sweetness and full body, it’s dense and unctuous on the palette. Starfruit, pineapple, grapefruit and butterscotch dominate fanning out to lemon zest, ginger and baked almonds on the finish. Lacking the electricity and pizazz of the epic 2001 vintage but at age seventeen it’s still youthful, and a lovely Sauternes.”Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes 2002 375ML ($29.95) $18 special
Chateau Raymond-Lafon, Sauternes 2002 750ML ($49.95) $29 special
Robert Parker 92-94 points “I suspect most readers will find it hard to get excited about the 2002 vintage for the sweet wines of Barsac and Sauternes after what appears to be a prodigious 2001. However, 2002 is a very fine year for this region, possibly superior to any of the vintages between 2000 and 1991. The wines possess plenty of botrytis, but neither the impressive definition nor supreme elegance of the 2001s. This is a sweet, full-bodied, fat, concentrated, intense effort that was showing well in September, 2003.” (Oct 2003)
VinopolNote: Raymond Lafon has always represented exceptional value in Sauternes. Some of the estate’s vines used to belong to Yquem and it wasn’t included in the 1855 classification, largely because it was founded in 1850. Raymond Lafon’s wines tend to be age worthy and exceptional value.
The average price is $36 for the 750ml
Classic, Structured, Undervalued Burgundy
From Chandon de Briailles
The wines of Chandon de Briailles are old-school Burgundies and brilliant because of it. Made with lots of whole clusters and an age-worthy approach, they are wines that need time but pay off in a big, big way. The estate has been a bit of an insider secret for years, as these wines are fantastic for their prices.
Speaking of those prices—the Burgundy market tends to reward wines that drink well on release and/or come from prestige appellations. These wines are neither (though Corton was quite the glamorous location a few hundred years ago). They require time to come into their own, putting on weight and texture in bottle until you open them up and they show up every other wine on the table (including many that released at triple the price). They’re special wines, which we’re offering at very special pricing . If you like structured, old-school Burgundy, don’t pass these up.
In Stock Now:
Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2015 750ML ($199.95) $119 special
Burghound 92-95 points “Sweet Spot. A markedly ripe yet elegant nose that consists of rose petal, plum liqueur, lilac, spice and wet stone aromas is trimmed in enough wood to notice. The very rich, intense and wonderfully vibrant big-bodied flavors evidence obvious minerality on the mouth coating and impressively long finish. This is a big and refined effort that is very much built-to-age so patience required.”
The next best price is $140
The average price is $168
Wine Spectator 94 points “This needs air to reveal the deep cherry and raspberry flavors. Pure, with mineral and earth details adding grace notes. Though balanced, this will require time for the structure and flavors to meld. Fine length. Best from 2020 through 2035. 367 cases made.”
Burghound 93 points “Reduction presently dominates the nose and I would again strongly suggest decanting this first if you’re going to sample a bottle before 2 to 3 years of age. On the palate there is a seductive texture to the velvety, complex and attractively mineral-inflected medium weight plus flavors that possess a fine sense of balance and deliver excellent finishing persistence along with impressive depth. This too is textbook.”
The next best price is $99.97
The average price is $112
Burghound 91-93 points “This too is quite reduced yet from barely perceptible fruit seems fresh. As is usually the case there is slightly finer mouth feel to the broad-shouldered flavors that also possess fine mid-palate concentration, all wrapped in a firmly structured but not hard finish. This is youthfully austere with just a hint of rusticity and this too will definitely require patience.”
Wine Spectator 91 points “This is spicy, with sandalwood, vanilla, green olive and wild berry flavors building from start to finish. Balanced in a lean, tightly wound style, presenting a lingering, spicy aftertaste. Best from 2018 through 2032. 334 cases made.”
The next best price is $110
Wine Spectator 93 points “Though concentrated, this is also lean and chewy, with big, dusty tannins framing blackberry and blueberry fruit. Good acidity keeps this focused, though this will need some time for the structure to resolve. Fine length. Best from 2022 through 2036. 15 cases imported.”
Burghound 91-94 points “This too manages to be at once very ripe but attractively fresh with its liqueur-like aromas of dark currant, plum, lilac and warm earth. The powerful yet sleek medium weight plus flavors brim with dry extract thanks to the concentrated amount of sappy dry extract that imparts a velvety mouth feel to the hugely long finale. This is less rustic than it usually is though with that said, it’s less refined than its two big boy stablemates.”
The next best price is $135.99
The Ne Plus Ultra of Mosel Wine
If collectors know one name in the Mosel, it’s JJ Prum. If they know two, it’s probably Willi Schaefer. The irony is that the Schaefer wines are every bit as good as those from Prum (and better in many years) and always drink well from a young age—something very much not true for their rivals in Wehlen. By all metrics, Schaefer should probably be the most sought after producer in the Mosel and some years they are—most of the 2017’s sold out in a flash. Nevertheless, we still have a number of excellent 2015’s and 16’s in stock that bear highlighting.
As with many things involving the wines of the Mosel, it’s best to let Terry Theise do the rest of the talking. He imports the wines from Willi Schaefer, but we don’t find his prose to be hyperbolic in the slightest. Ok, perhaps a touch, but seriously not by a lot—the wines are that good. Here’s what he has to say:
“For many tasters, these are the Ne Plus Ultra of Mosel wine, and they have attracted an almost religious following. Thus my most frustrating agency, as there is never enough wine. It is hard to put a finger on exactly what it is that makes these wines so precious. There is a candor about them that is quite disarming. They are polished too, but not brashly so. They are careful to delineate their vineyard characteristics, and they offer fruit of sublime purity. They are utterly soaring in flavor yet not without weight. What many of you seem to have warmed to is their clarity, precision and beauty of fruit, so maybe I’ll leave it at that!
“If you’re new to all this, there’s a reason these wines are so beloved. Part of it is they’re so scarce; the estate is all of 4 hectares with no desire to grow. Part of is the wines themselves; they’re silly with deliciousness. And as crystalline as they are, as ethereally complex and limpidly clear, they have a quality of calm; they don’t fuss at you how amazing they are. They are, dare I say, affectionate; they just sit in the glass and love you. And so we love them back. We banish all the unruly beasts of our ragged natures, and slip into the warm pool, and let ourselves, for once, be happy.” –Terry Theise
In Stock Now:
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($37.95) $33 special
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “Apple blossom, honeysuckle and clover on the nose reemerge as seductive inner-mouth perfume on a polished palate, accompanied by a juicy abundance of fresh apple, grapefruit and white peach. The delicacy and refreshment, not to mention lusciousness of fruit, conveyed on this Kabinett’s lingering finish render it almost impossible for me to spit. “It was like that already in February,” remarked Christoph Schaefer with a grin.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 91 points “The 2016 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett displays a stony and floral bouquet with ripe white fruit aromas. Round, lush and sweet, with a refreshing and grippy minerality, this is a charming Riesling with mouthwatering salinity and precision in the very salty, titillating finish.”
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($44.95) $39 special
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points “Scents of ripe pear and pineapple garlanded in heliotrope set the stage for a polished, subtly creamy palate performance at once luscious, invigoratingly tangy, and loaded with seductive inner-mouth perfume. I thought the corresponding Kabinett exquisitely delicate, but this Spätlese seems virtually weightless. The lingering finish is almost like an inhalation of flowers and wet stone, save for the tingling impingement of pear skin, a faint tang of pineapple core and a nip of cress. I sense that I may be in the minority, but I perceive 2016 as one of those vintages chez Schaefer where Himmelreich gives Domprobst a very serious run for its money.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese is clear and precise on the deep and flinty nose that also shows some floral aromas. Round, lush and sweet on the palate, with delicate acidity and lingering salinity, this is an elegant and already very accessible Spätlese with a very fine, aromatic, mineral, piquant and salty finish. A classic.”
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #10, Mosel 2015 750ML ($44.95) $37 special
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “Scents of flowers and spontaneous fermentation quickly give way to riper and creamy fruits such as yellow peach, apricot and mango. The wine proves succulently light and fresh on the palate. This feeling of lightness carries nicely over into the juicy and smooth finish. One is left with a delicately creamy feel of herbs in the long after-taste. This proves plain gorgeous. 2025-2035.”
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #10, Mosel 2016 750M ($44.95) $39 special
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2016 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese (AP #10) is one of three Spätlesen that were selected in 2016. The wine has a very clear and smoky bouquet of perfectly ripe, healthy Riesling berries and yellow-fleshed stone fruits. Round, lush and piquant, this is a very elegant and stimulating Spätlese with lingering, mouthwatering salinity. The wine is complex but not all too intellectual. It has a ripe but coolish-elegant character with a long, well-structured finish.”
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #5, Mosel 2016 750ML ($54.95) $49 special
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points “Ripe apple and pear garlanded in honeysuckle entice the nose, accompanied by high-toned suggestions of almond and pistachio extracts. A subtly creamy palate displays luscious fruit, heady inner-mouth perfume and rich nuttiness. There is less counterpoint or refreshment here than in the corresponding A.P. #10, but greater opulence has not precluded a delectable sense of delicacy, and the seductively soothing, superbly sustained finish offers a reassuring whisper of wet stone.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese (AP #5) has a lovey clear, piquant and still reductive nose that indicates tremendous complexity and richness. Round, super lush and elegant on the palate, this is a beautifully balanced and harmonious Spätlese that has an even riper and more textured character compared to the Spätlese #10.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “This offers a gorgeous nose of slightly yellow fruits, ginger and earthy spices. The wine proves quite lively and nicely focused on the palate, with zesty acidity driving the aromatic profile. The wine is nicely elegant and well balanced in the focused and yellow peach infused finish. This is a gorgeous Spätlese in the making. 2026-2041”
Weingut Willi Schaefer Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2015 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Mosel Fine Wines 94 points “This “maiden wine” comes from the “new” parcel in the central part of the vineyard which was replanted after the 2011 vintage. This shows a quite smoky nose at first and only gradually reveals a fruity side driven by apricot and orange as well as mint and yellow peach. The wine is creamy and smooth on the palate, with just the right amount of acidity to keep things interesting. The unctuous feel to the finish in the finish adds to the pleasure of enjoying this deep and direct expression of Sonnenuhr Auslese. 2025-2040”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points ““This was the one place where we had early botrytis,” explained Willi Schaefer, “but that was simply because of the replanting and young vines that had so few clusters, with berries so tiny and thin-skinned that they were vulnerable to botrytis and needed early picking regardless.” Mango and passion fruit wreathed in heliotrope and lily make for a head-turningly heady nose, then pick up a welcome bit of fresh apple juiciness and tartness on the expansive, buoyant palate. The lingering, lusciously fruited finish is soothing and enveloping, yet not without refreshment. Given the amazing focus, clarity and energy that characterize so many wines in the Schaefers’ 2015 collection, one has to recalibrate to appreciate the manifest but very different virtues of this Wehlener – almost the alter-ego of the corresponding Himmelreich rendered from later-picked, wind-desiccated berries.”
The next best price is $64.98
Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese #4, Mosel 2015 1.5L ($179.95) $149 special
Mosel Fine Wines 95 points “This starts off on the toffee side before fresher scents grapefruit, orange, lime, smoke, incense and tar kick in. A superb streak of acidity cuts right through the palate into the very long, fresh and focused finish, providing a gorgeous balance to a powerful and delicately creamy structure. The finish is intense and very long. While amazing now, this Auslese Eiswein styled wine should prove stunning in a decade or two. 2025-2045”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 94 points “Apple blossom and honeysuckle feature on a surprisingly understated nose, which only hints at the lime and lemon that subsequently burst like a cymbal crash on the palate. The feel is firm and palpably extract-rich, yet displays delightful delicacy to complement the wine’s brightness, invigoration and penetration. A seedy, crunchy tang of cassis and blackberry reinforces the animating effect, leading into a vibrantly electro-charged, rapier and ultra-refreshing finish such as you won’t often encounter in an Auslese. The acid-concentrating effect of lightly desiccated, healthy berries is decidedly evident. This is going to be exciting to follow.”
Vilmart & Cie ‘Coeur de Cuvee’ Premier Cru Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($179.95) $115 special, 35 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “A racy, exuberant wine, the 2009 Coeur de Cuvée offers up a super-appealing mélange of apricot, butter, baked apple tart and vanillin. The combination of the ripe, warm vintage along with fermentation and aging in small French oak barrels yielded an especially opulent Coeur de Cuvée with plenty of exotic and tropical overtones. The 2009 will be ready to drink with minimal cellaring.”
Scott Paul D122 Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge 2014 750ML ($39.95) $24 special, 33 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 93 points “Bright ruby-red. A strongly perfumed bouquet displays scents of black raspberry, gingerbread and potpourri. Sappy, incisive red and dark berry flavors are framed by silky tannins and perked up by a nervy orange zest quality. Becomes more heady with aeration, picking up an exotic Asian spice note that carries through the impressively long finish. There’s lots going on here already.”
Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Grapelive 94 points “Louis Barruol’s Saint Cosme [is] most famous for [the] Gigondas, [yet the] negociant series is one of the great values in the wine world. His northern Rhone lineup especially impresses, with his Crozes-Hermitage always a stand out. This 2016 is no exception with the vintage’s amazing combination of power and poise showing a deep character, but with a lovely freshness of detail and inner energy. Barruol’s deep/dark purple/garnet hued Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Serine clone (a local and an ancient variety of Syrah)… [It’s] a rich, ripe and vivid Crozes-Hermitage Rouge with a pure and earthy Syrah personality and a classic regional terroir core and character with a loaded palate of black and blue fruit, spice and savory elements with a raw tannic grip as well as the vintage’s nice acidity that gives this wine an exciting kick in the ass! Barruol notes that his growers… in Tenay, Habrard and Batits sit behind [the] Hermitage hill itself, with the oldest vines having the ability to produce wines that can compete with Hermitage! I do not doubt that and you can feel their presence in vintages such as this, no question. Again this wine is an absolute steal for the price. The Saint Cosme 2016 Crozes surprises for the width and textural feel with beautiful layers of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and black cherry/kirsch fruits along with light camphor/embers, violets, mission fig, cinnamon, black licorice, creme de cassis, peppercorns, and a hint of crushed rock and leather. There is a lot going on here, and the finish is exceptionally lengthy and smooth. It has serious palate impact, while still fresh in details at 13% natural alcohol. It is medium/full in body, perfectly weighted, and I can see it getting better over the next 3 to 5 years, too. Very impressive. It’s a Syrah that delivers on its promises. Delicious stuff. Give [it] air or decant for best results, but [it’s] absolutely magic when paired with rustic/robust cuisine. Drink this Crozes over the next 5 to 10 years.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “I loved the 2016 Crozes Hermitage, which comes from granite terroirs located behind Hermitage hill. It offers layers of blackberry fruit, olive tapenade, ground pepper, and violet aromas and flavors. Deep, medium to full-bodied, and seamless, it shows the purity and finesse that’s the hallmark of this vintage.”
James Suckling 93 points “White pepper and graphite here and a very spicy, stony attitude. Blackberries, a fragrant edge and plenty of sweet spice. The palate delivers a succulent array of bright, red and black fruit. Supple, even and long. Drink or hold.”If this was a Burgundy, it’d be ten times the price. Unreal value and sheer deliciousness. A staff favorite producer year in, year out.
Weingut Alfred Merkelbach Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese Halbtrocken #7, Mosel 2016 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “I harbor fond memories of halbtrocken Merkelbach Würzgartens long past, so perhaps you’ll think I was overly influenced simply by having once again seen those words on a bottle of their Riesling. But its contents certainly left me wishing that they would let this happen in their cellar more often. A classic Würzgarten nose of fresh strawberry and lime adds hints of more Erden-typical tarragon and sassafras. Subtly silken in feel, this finishes buoyant and lusciously long, with animating, bright primary juiciness and transparency to shimmering impingements of stones and mineral salts. Incidentally, it weighs in at a mere 10% alcohol, a reminder that the Merkelbachs pick for Spätlese at must weights that most of today’s top Mosel growers would deem appropriate for Kabinett. A prime example of what I call “hidden sweetness” – residual sugar playing a supportive and catalytic role while not engendering any overt sense of sweetness – this will perform brilliantly at table as well as in your cellar.”
The next best price is $29.99
A.R. Valdespino Don Gonzalo Oloroso Viejo VOS Sherry, Andalucia 375ML ($26.95) $19.90 special, 36+ half-bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 95 points “The NV Don Gonzalo Oloroso 20 Anos VOS, produced with Palomino grapes from the Carrascal vineyards, is fermented in stainless steel and aged for over 20 years in oak botas. It is a very serious Oloroso, even if it’s not totally dry. It offers bitter almonds, hazelnuts, incense, Cuban cigar ash, and dark chocolate as well as a complex, a very intense, round and ample palate. This wine really fills your mouth. Very intense and with great acidity, it represents very good value for the quality it delivers. A tamed beast. Drink 2013-2019.” WA
In the world of collectible wines from the Veneto, there are two names: Quintarelli (of course) and our hero today, Dal Forno. Where the Quintarelli wines are built on finesse, Dal Forno is all about power, richness and concentration. This is a wine that enthusiasts and professional reviews fell in love with and we think you will, too.
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 98 points “This is a deeply communicative and articulate wine that boasts immense power and persistence. The 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta is a creation of enormous beauty and unflinching intensity. The wine speaks at loud volumes with black cherry, spice, tarry smoke, barbecue marinade and grilled rosemary. Those balsam notes add length and continuity to the bouquet. In the mouth, the wine is complete and penetrating. It wraps thickly over the palate to soothe and entice your taste buds. Yet there is enough crispness to keep it from feeling cloying or too heavy. There is a point of tannic astringency on the finish that will accompany this wine over the next decade of its aging evolution. For that reason, it’s best to wait before popping the cork on this memorable vinous experience.”
James Suckling 97 points “Aromas of roses and other flowers with a deep fruit intensity. Full-bodied, dense and ultra-fine with a beautiful texture. Lots of new wood now but this will amalgamate with time into the wine. Fabulous potential. Drink or hold.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Like a gymnast, this focused red shows both power and grace. Finely meshed flavors of blackberry puree, fig cake and Earl Grey tea leaf are framed by refined, dusty tannins, with a lasting finish expands on the palate with spice and smoky mineral details. Drink now through 2030. 450 cases imported.”Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Valpolicella Superiore, Veneto 2011 750ML ($99.95) $85 pre-arrival special
James Suckling 94 points “A powerful and dense red with so much concentration of fruit and chocolate undertones. Hints of toasted oak. Full body and a velvety texture. Fantastic and dense red as usual. Drink now.”
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2011 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta is a darkly concentrated but carefully balanced expression that only the most expert vintner can pull off with success. Consider that the dry extract is a massive 48 grams per liter. In fact, there is some minor precipitation of color matter even at this relatively young age. This wine was aged in new oak for two years (instead of the standard three years) with four years bottle (instead of three). That extra year in glass served to help the wine integrate and to reduce micro-oxygenation. The bouquet is bright and fragrant with floral notes of rose and violet that are rare to find in Valpolicella. There are faint tertiary notes as well that add to the complexity. You will find cured leather and savory spice. The finish offers enough acidity to refresh the palate, following that considerable density and thickness.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “Mulled cherry, spice box, dried rose and leather flavors are an aromatic entry to this rich and grippy Valpolicella. Full-bodied yet silky on the palate, with a long, saturated finish of fruit, tarry smoke and balsamic notes. Drink now through 2028.”
The average price is $98
Wine Advocate 94+ points “Built like a tank, the 2009 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta is a masterful achievement. This wine shows so beautifully, especially in a warm but balanced vintage like 2009. The fruit is expressive and articulate with deep layers of blackberry preserves, dried cherry, dark chocolate, espresso bean, mesquite smoke and soy sauce. The mouthfeel is super rich and concentrated as the Dal Forno signature style would dictate. The tannic bite is still strong and this wine needs a few more years to stretch out its muscular build. I’d suggest drinking it after 2018.”
The average price is $99
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