In Today’s Newsletter:
Guy Charlemagne’s Rosé is Fit for a King
Staff Pick: “Why is this Still on the Shelf?” Edition
Rosé of the Day!
More May Sale Steals
Trending: Hot Wines of the Week
The Best Gouges Yet? The 2015s Make a Case
Graillot’s Unicorn “La Guiraude” Crozes
Charlemagne’s Rose is Fit for a King
Peter Liem “Charlemagne’s rosé is made with Sézanne pinot noir, which is destemmed and macerated for two to three days before fermentation in order to extract as much fruit flavor as possible without the introduction of tannin. Historically, it’s been blended with 40 percent chardonnay from Mancy, which Charlemagne says is round and approachable, yet the current release is made entirely of pinot noir. This highly regarded estate in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger was created in 1892 by Gustav Charlemagne, who like many others at the time tended other agricultural products in addition to vines, selling his grapes to the négoce. His son Louis began to produce estate-bottled champagnes in the mid-1930s, and Louis’s son Guy Charlemagne expanded the business and the vineyard holdings when he took over in 1953. Since 1988, Guy’s son Philippe has been at the helm of the estate. The Charlemagnes own 15 hectares of vines, much of which lies in the grand cru villages of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger. Six hectares are in the Côte de Sézanne, and a little land is found in Cuis and Mancy, and also in Glannes, near Vitry-le-François. Careful observers will note that Champagne Guy Charlemagne is an SR (société de récoltant) rather than an RM (récoltant-manipulant). This is because Guy Charlemagne (the man) owns some vines, as does Philippe Charlemagne, and both of them “sell” their grapes, in effect, to Champagne Guy Charlemagne (the company). It remains estate-bottled, grower champagne, but it’s simply a different business structure.”
The next best price is $37.50
“Why is This Still on the Shelf?” Edition
(A collection of a few wines that I’m puzzled are still here)
This has been a long time coming. There’s a long running joke in which I complain to whoever else is working that something has been overlooked enough that it’s still on the shelf. Most of these are only available in smaller lots, so it’s always a bit hard to justify the space in the newsletter. No longer, I say. To keep it more space efficient, though, I’ll just give my thoughts on the wines without the points and notes from the critics (you will still find them on the individual wine listings on the website, obviously). They’ll be sorted by a thematic grouping, as well—aka why you should pay attention to these in particular. I’d buy them all if I had the income (and I’ve already done my best to take a chunk out of these), so spare me the temptation and do yourself a favor at the same time.
Set One: Heiligenstein
So let’s get it out of the way—you say it “Hail-ig-in-stein” because German is conveniently phonetic, even if there are a lot of syllables. Now that you know what to ask for, let’s do the “why?” which is also easier than you’d think: Heiligenstein is one of the best Riesling vineyards in the world. If you were in a discussion with any hard-core Austrian wine fan (or Riesling fan in general) and said it were your favorite vineyard, no one would be able to criticize your choice, even if they had other favorites. We have many bottlings in stock, from the top three producers of the vineyard, Brundlmayer, Hirsch, and Gobelsburg (we won’t argue about the order here, but feel free to call or email). We also have back vintages, which is what got me so worked up in the first place. Hirsch’s style is leaner, driven by stainless steel and reduction, while Gobelsburg makes wines that will appeal to lovers of white Burgundy. Brundlmayer’s wines lie somewhere in the middle and probably the most subtle of the set when young, but blossom with age. All of these wines have a long life left, but at least the older vintages give you bit of a head start.
Weingut Willi Brundlmayer Zobinger Heiligenstein Alte Reben Reserve Riesling, Kamptal 2012 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 7 bottles left
The next best price is $75.40
(Antonio Galloni 94+ points)
(Antonio Galloni 95+ points)
(Antonio Galloni 96 points)Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2008 750ML ($79.95) $59 special, 24 bottles left
(Wine Enthusiast 95 points/Antonio Galloni 94 points)
(Antonio Galloni 94 points)
While Gigondas is best known for gutsy, full bodied reds, this delicious rosé from Gour de Chaule is delicate and fresh. Bright and dry, it’s got enough personality to stand up to some grilled foods, but is easy enough to be a porch sipper.
Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Amour de Rose, Rhone 2017 750ML ($28.95) $24 special, 32 bottles in stock now
Importer note “Run today by the searching, intelligent Stephanie Fumoso, Gour de Chaulé produces a Gigondas Rouge almost shocking in its spicy complexity and layered earthiness. Mercifully, it’s about as far from a hot-climate fruit bomb as you can find around these parts–and the “Amour de Rosé” is cut from the same cloth. Produced via direct press with no maceration, it combines Grenache and Cinsault (40% each) with a splash of Syrah, and Stephanie purposefully harvests her rosé grapes a week before those destined for the red wine in order to preserve acidity. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and is bottled in the early spring of the year following harvest. This is a brilliantly colored wine with hues of pink and rose accompanied by flavors and a bouquet dominated by the impression of freshly crushed strawberries. Again, a limited amount of this wine is produced annually, only enough for us to have 1200 bottles per year for the US market.”
There are many great wines with extra great prices in the May Sale. Whether you’re a fan of Austrian Grüner or beautiful Burgundies, powerful Barolo or magnums of Cult California wines, we’ve got something on the clearance sale for you. We’ve got some highlights below, but feel free to click here to view the entire list on our website.
Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2015 750ML ($37.95) Was $29, Now $26.60 Clearance Price
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “The 2015 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes offers the most finesse and elegance of the three cuvees, and is slightly less exotic, yet more refined and pretty. Offering lots of strawberry and framboise fruits, loads of cedary spice, full-bodied richness and building, polished tannin, this terrific wine shines for its purity and finesse. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91-93 points “Dark ruby. Aromas and flavors of ripe red and blue fruits pick up floral and peppery spice nuances as the wine opens up. Smooth and expansive on the palate, showing very good depth as well as energy and spicy back-end lift. The gently gripping, very persistent finish leaves behind hints of candied flowers and licorice.”
Wine Advocate 99 points “More up-front and open-knit, the 2004 Into the Dark (Grenache) checks in as a blend of 84% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah and 1% Viognier that comes mostly from Manfred’s 11 Confessions Vineyard, yet includes small portions from Alban (10%) and Alta Mesa (9%) Vineyard. Reminding me of Clos Saint-Jean’s Sanctus Sanctorum with its incredible bouquet of sweet kirsch, licorice, dried baking spices, graphite and ground pepper, this beauty flows onto the palate with impeccable purity, perfect integration of its fruit, tannin and acidity, and blockbuster length. As is common with this estate’s wine, it’s the purity paired with serious richness that sets it apart. While still youthful and benefiting from a healthy decadence, I think it’s drinking at point and would aim to drink bottles over the coming 4-5 years. It will evolve gracefully for longer, but I see no reason to hold off.”
The next best price is $1725
Wine Advocate 91 points “From the bottom of the Loibenberg and preselections of the single-vineyard Rieslings, the 2015 Riesling Smaragd Dürnsteiner opens with a very clear, intense and aromatic bouquet of crushed stones, smoke, herbs and white fruits. Medium to full-bodied, cool and fresh on the palate, this is a very mineral but also aromatic and fruit-driven Riesling with great elegance and finesse and a long and salty finish with purity and stimulating grip.”
The next best price is $35.94
Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2014 Eggo Blanc de Cal is pure Sauvignon Blanc from two different vineyards in Gualtallary. The full clusters are pressed and the must was fermented and aged in contact with the lees for nine to ten months in their famous egg-shaped cement vats. This is more subtle and earthy, less Sauvignon, with the fruit expressing itself in a lower-pitched voice, more of a baritone. It’s also has a little wider, pungent and powerful character in the mouth. This is only around 13% alcohol, and even though in 2014 it didn’t go through malolactic fermentation, it’s still a very light and fresh wine. Groundbreaking Sauvignon. 4,800 bottles were produced, fruit of two eggs.” LG
Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2014 Eggo Filoso Pinot Noir is produced with fruit from Gualtallary. It fermented after carbonic maceration in cement vats and like the whole Eggo line, it matured in cement eggs for some nine months and never saw any oak. Pale-colored, floral and showing a lactic touch, it is earthier than the Gran Terroir. The palate is medium-bodied, with floral flavors, very good acidity and a fine texture.”
The next best price is $32.99
#75 Wine Of The Year – Wine Spectator Top 100 2017
Wine Spectator 93 points “Supple and elegantly structured, with expressive raspberry and orange zest aromas and polished flavors that pick up depth and momentum toward a spicy finish framed by refined tannins. Drink now through 2023. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 4,000 cases made.”
Antonio Galloni 90 points “The 2011 Barolo Gianetto is expressive and open throughout, with pretty spiced and floral notes that make a positive first impression. The theme of openness continues on the mid-palate, where the wine is expressive, generous and inviting. I don’t expect the 2011 to be especially ageworthy, but it is quite delicious today. Sweet red cherry, plum, tobacco and sweet mint notes grace the finish.”
VinopolNote: Briary with a round mouthfeel but not over the top in fruit or alcohol. This is a blend of mostly Foster Farms Vineyard and one block of Armstrong Vineyard.Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque – Fleur de Champagne Brut Millesime, Champagne 2006 750ML ($159.95) $99 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Cellar Selection.This is a full-bodied and ripe wine, showing some toastiness as well as concentrated apple and peach flavors. There is a crisp edge to this opulent and rich wine. It has a great future: it is drinkable now, but will continue well into the 2020s.” WE
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “This team has made a terrific 2016 Saint-Péray, (50/50 Marsanne and Roussanne aged in 15% new oak) from an appellation that continues to produce more and more outstanding wines. Honeysuckle, white flowers, caramelized peach and white currant notes give way to a pure, elegant, layered white that has terrific purity and length. It’s going to drink beautifully for 3-4 years or more.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91 points “Pale yellow-gold. Fresh and incisive on the nose, displaying vibrant citrus and orchard fruit scents complemented by hints of honeysuckle and chalky minerals. Shows very good depth of flavor but comes off lithe, offering juicy Meyer lemon and bitter pear skin flavors that pick up a spicy ginger note on the back half. Closes very long and precise, delivering a firm snap of minerality and lingering floral character.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “This has a lovely, perfumy mix of savory, mint, tobacco, blood orange, cherry and bergamot notes, with finely beaded acidity and silky but ample structure. Long, mineral- and shiso leaf-infused finish. Best from 2020 through 2035.”JM
Wine Advocate 94 points “The flagship wine, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 5% other permitted varieties. It features delicate floral scents and ample cherry and licorice aromas. Somehow, it manages to be full-bodied and almost creamy in texture but without much weight, then it ends powerfully, with a flourish of rich Mexican chocolate on the long, silky finish. It should drink well for up to 20 years.”Fattoria dei Pagliarese Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni-Vinous 92 points “The 2015 Chianti Classico is a new wine from Fèlsina’s Pagliarese property. For what seems like forever, Giuseppe Mazzocolin has been the ultimate champion of Sangiovese, long before it was fashionable. With Pagliarese, Mazzocolin and Fèlsina return to a super-classic Chianti Classico based on Sangiovese, of course, but with dollops of Canaiolo, Mammolo and Colorino aged in cask. The debut 2015 is fabulous. Bright, red-toned fruit and an array of floral/savory notes are nicely delineated, but the wine’s purity and extraordinary balance elevate it into the realm of the sublime. What a gorgeous wine this is! ”
Domaine Gouges is a legendary name in Burgundy and 2015 is shaping up to be a legendary year, so we’re incredibly excited to get our allocation. These are going to be coveted bottlings—the richness of 2015 plays right into the hands of the Gouges style, which is known for long-lasting wines. Through a combination of the vintage and an evolution of the house style, these are the most approachable Gouges wines in the history of the domaine.
Henri Gouges, who founded the venerable estate, was one of the first in Burgundy to estate bottle—at the time the winery was founded most just sold grapes or wine to negociants. He also was instrumental in creating the AOC system in Burgundy and help to get a vineyard classification worked out. The estate is based in Nuits, with holdings in most of the major crus and an incredible standard of quality across the board. The current generation, Christian and Pierre (grandsons of Henri) are making some of the finest wines in the estate’s history.
Yes, these are not your father’s Gouges wines. The domaine is known for powerful, incredibly long lived wines, often with fierce tannins when young. Yet, when we’ve tasted these wines in the last few vintages, they’re more refined and elegant than ever. You can tell there’s a strong spine that will allow the wines to age for a long time, but they’re surprisingly delicious now. There’s always lots of demand for these wines, but it seems as though the 2015’s are a year to stock up on. Just click here to see the list on our website and buy the wines.
Arriving Later This Month:
Domaine Henri Gouges Bourgogne Pinot Blanc, Burgundy 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
“A relatively fruity nose also exhibits notes of petrol and straw. There is fine volume to the delicious, round and relatively vibrant flavors that exhibit an attractively clean and dry if not especially complex finale.”-Burghound
Burghound 94 points “An exuberantly spicy nose offers up notes of cassis, various black fruit nuances and plenty of earth and game scents. The dense, powerful and brooding big-bodied flavors possess outstanding volume and mid-palate concentration where the abundant dry extract serves to buffer the very firm and imposing tannic spine on the hugely long finish. This is certainly a big wine, in fact it’s borderline massive and not surprisingly it’s going to need a very long time to arrive at its full potential. Recommended.”
Stephen Tanzer 93+ points “(aged in 25% new oak): Bright medium red. Subdued nose shows more red than black fruits, along with complicating notes of spices and red licorice. Wonderfully sweet, spicy and rich, with enough juiciness to give balance and early personality to the tactile, juicy flavors of raspberry, minerals and spices. Very sexy and suave on the long if somewhat youthfully imploded finish. This complete premier cru should last for a long time in a cool cellar. Despite the fact that the Gouges family picked very early in 2015, Antoine Gouges describes the wines as “very ripe but not quite candied or overripe, with the structure for a long life in bottle.” He added that the estate’s ’15s were bottled with around 13% alcohol.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Vaucrains was showing more reduction on the nose compared to the other premier crus, making the nose difficult to read. The palate is medium-bodied with expressive, supple red cherry and raspberry fruit, a little “straight-laced” perhaps, a Nuits Saint-Georges that prefers correctness on the finish rather than flamboyance (at least at the moment). There is certainly good weight on the finish and I can see this repaying those who cellar it for several years.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “On the gruff side, thanks to the dusty tannins, yet offers pure flavors of violet, blackberry and black currant. Shows fine depth and balance, with a terrific aftertaste echoing the dark fruit and upping the ante with a mineral element. Best from 2020 through 2035. 200 cases imported.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges Village, a blend on different small blocks between the south and middle of the appellation, offers a fragrant, well-defined bouquet with red cherries and cranberry fruit. There is impressive mineralité and transparency considering this is a “mere” village cru. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, tart cherries mixed with bergamot and hints of early grey. I appreciate the complexity here and it marks a significant step up from the Bourgogne Rouge.”
Burghound 89-92 points “Gouges noted that in 2015 the blend for this wine contains 40% from the 1er Chênes Carteaux so that there could be sufficient volume for their various markets. A background application of wood frames a similar if more complex and elegant array of ripe aromas. The sleek, round and delicious medium-bodied flavors possess lovely definition before terminating in a saline-inflected finish that is notably finer than it usually is. This offers simply terrific quality for its level and is highly recommended.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Chaignots has a generous, lively bouquet with dark cherries, a hint of blackcurrant and cold stone – very defined with good fruité. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent ripe red cherry and cranberry fruit. It possesses an agreeable sense of reserve towards the second half: more structured with grainy tannins and a chalkiness lingering on the aftertaste. Mugneret-Gibourg aside, Les Chaignots does get better than this. This is an outstanding effort.”
Burghound 90-92 points “Mild reduction doesn’t completely mask the clearly ripe dark berry fruit liqueur-like aromas that are laced with earth and spice elements. There is good energy to the precise and sleek middle weight flavors that possess lovely depth on the dusty and firm but not rustic finale.”
Stephen Tanzer 90-92 points “(also recently racked): Healthy medium red. Spicier on the nose than the basic village offering, conveying scents of red fruits, earth, chocolate and dried flowers. Lovely spicy, saline wine with red and darker fruit flavors framed by harmonious acidity. Slightly rustic in a Nuits way but with noteworthy concentration. Distinctly more tannic and structured than the village offering. The Gouges have been reducing the yields in this vineyard in recent years by forcing the roots deeper. Gregory Gouges noted that the 50% of these vines that were planted in 1985 are quite vigorous and have a natural tendency to overproduce. But the yield in 2015 was a low 26 hectoliters per hectare.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 95-97 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Saint Georges took three or four minutes to unfold…but what a bouquet! Copious black cherry, cranberry jus, pomegranate and bergamot scents all infused with stupendous mineralité. The palate is medium-bodied with saturated tannin, plenty of blood orange infusing the red and black fruit, a keen line of acidity and a gentle grip towards the finish. It constitutes one of the best vintages that I have tasted in recent years. It should be considered a “stunning victory” for the 2015 vintage, but without wishing to sound like a broken record, please cellar this for 5-7 years for it to attain its drinking plateau.”
Stephen Tanzer 92-95 points “Healthy dark red with ruby highlights; the darkest wine of this 2015 collection. Very pure, vibrant aromas of dark raspberry, licorice, violet and minerals. Then fat, broad, dry and deep on the palate, conveying a refined texture and an enticing combination of sweet, almost chocolatey fruit and saline minerality. Less expressive today than the Vaucrains but this very pure wine boasts subtle soil tones and serious incipient complexity. Finishes with substantial broad, fine-grained tannins and terrific subtle length. Only time will tell if this wine will surpass the Vaucrains.”
Burghound 92-94 points “Reductive and wood aromas presently dominate the nose. Otherwise here too there is excellent volume to the succulent yet quite serious medium weight plus flavors that exhibit more evident minerality on the energetic, precise and youthfully austere finale. In contrast to the Vaucrains, this excellent effort is likely to require most of my predicted aging curve before it is accessible.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Domaine Henri Gouges Clos des Porrets Monopole, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru 2015 375ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 95 points “This red combines flavors of cherry, currant, spice and mineral with a core of sweet fruit, a silky texture and firm, chalky tannins. Finishes on the chewy side, with mouthcoating but not astringent tannins. Best from 2023 through 2040. 400 cases imported.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 93-95 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Clos des Porrets Saint Georges has a tightly wound, floral bouquet – hints of violet, strawberry jam, even a light smear of marmalade coming through with time. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and is complex: a mixture or red and black fruit seamlessly knitted together, leading to a concentrated but structured, classically-styled finish with fine salinity. This comes highly recommended, a pure and crystalline Nuits St Georges from one of its best vineyards. It comes highly recommended”
Burghound 93 points “A notably ripe nose of cassis, black cherry, humus and earth possesses fine complexity. There is outstanding volume and mid-palate concentration to the powerful and mouth coating middle weight flavors that exhibit a subtle minerality on the sappy, dusty, energetic and beautifully persistent finish. This is a classic Nuits that is built-to-age and will need it.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 93-95 points “The 2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers has a more feminine, more fruit-driven bouquet than the NSG Clos des Porrets, very pure crushed strawberry, red cherry and cranberry aromas that gain intensity all the time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with blood orange on the entry, plenty of lively red berry fruit with admirable mineralité and tension on the finish. This is a superb les Pruliers from Domaine Gouges and it should give a couple decades worth of drinking pleasure.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “A chunky block of cherry, raspberry, sweet smoke and stone flavors, locked in a grip of tannins, with plenty of rich, ripe fruit to match. Best from 2022 through 2035. 125 cases imported.”
Stephen Tanzer 91-93 points “Good medium red. Very reticent aromas of plum, licorice and menthol hint at a chocolatey ripeness. In a rather rich, fat style, offering good concentration and sappiness to the thick, deep flavors of dark raspberry, spices and bitter chocolate. Comes across as a bit more tannic than the preceding samples, and perhaps a touch warmer at 13.2% alcohol. This fruit was picked two days later than the adjacent Clos des Porrets Saint-Georges.”
Burghound 90-93 points “This too is firmly reduced. The velvety, round and seductively textured medium-bodied flavors also possess excellent volume and mid-palate concentration with a very high level of phenolic maturity to the firm supporting tannins on the moderately austere and rustic finale. This too is very definitely classic Nuits in character that will require plenty of patience.”
Alain Graillot is (rightfully) known as a master of Crozes-Hermitage. A winemaker whose work from a relatively humble appellation stands toe to toe with any wine made in the Northern Rhone. We’re pleased to announce the imminent arrival of some of the 2015 Graillot Crozes-Hermitage “La Guiraude.” This is a barrel selection—his top wine, made only in the best years. While his single vineyard bottlings are good, this is the transcendent wine that lets you see the genius that is Graillot.
The result of this barrel selection is a wine that’s intense, with peppery fruit and good minerality—especially in a vintage like 2015, which was warm and generated wines of great intensity and fruit. Age this like you would any other top tier wine from the Northern Rhone and thank us for buying some in 15 years when it’s the best wine on the table.
Arriving June 1st:
Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude, Rhone 2015 750ML ($79.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “The smaller production cuvée is the 2015 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude, which is richer and more powerful, as well as more opulent. Black raspberries, plums, tons of pepper and crushed rock-like minerality give way to a rich, full-bodied, concentrated Crozes-Hermitage that has a broad, expansive texture and ripe, yet present tannin. Brought up all in used barrels, it’s a blockbuster, plain and simple. Drink it anytime over the coming 10-15 years.”
Josh Raynolds 93 points “Lurid ruby. Sexy, intensely perfumed aromas of dark fruit preserves, smoky minerals, exotic spices and olive paste. Silky and sweet on the palate, offering concentrated blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors enlivened by a jolt of smoky minerality. Shows excellent clarity and spicy lift on the seamless, strikingly persistent finish, which leaves a cherry liqueur note behind.”
Thanks for reading!