Thursday Vinopolpick 5-31-18

In Today’s Newsletter:

Cult Cabernet Overload
Staff Pick: Anne-Sophie Dubois
Rose of the Day: Beautiful Burgundy
Hubert Lignier’s Incredible 2015’s
Servin: Star of Chablis
The Rayas of Margaux
Last Days of the May Sale
Balthazar’s Elite Cornas
Alaine Jaume’s Grand Veneur: Explosive Chateaunuef

Cult Cabernet Overload

We scored some epic Cabernet (plus a little Bionic Frog).  We don’t need to say too much—these are rare wines at incredible prices.  As you might expect, quantities are limited and they’ll be going fast.

OWCs are available for the Harlan, Hundred Acre and Shafer, but cannot be guaranteed unless all the bottles of any given wine are purchased.

In Stock Now:

Harlan Estate, Napa Valley 2002 750ML ($1199.95) $999 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Robert Parker 100 points
“The extraordinary Harlan Estate, which I awarded 100 points seven years ago, offers no justifiable reason to doubt its perfect score. It is still a baby, with an inky purple color and notes of smoky camphor intermixed with creme de cassis, Asian soy and a hint of cedar beginning to emerge as well as some espresso and subtle damp forest floor notes. The wine has awesome intensity, a full-bodied mouthfeel, a skyscraper-like texture, and a finish that goes on for close to a minute. This is a perfect wine, still youthful and young, and not even in full adolescence as of 2012. It has 40 or more years ahead of it, but should hit its plateau of full maturity in another 5-10 years. It is certainly one of the most showy , flamboyant and remarkable Harlan Estates made to date. (More recently, the 2007 tends to resemble this wine more than any other vintage I can think of.) Kudos to Bill Harlan!” RP

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $1175

Hundred Acre ‘Ark Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain 2014 750ML ($499.95) $399 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Robert Parker 98-100 points
“From Howell Mountain, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Ark reveals the mulberry, chocolate, graphite and an incredibly dense bluish black color, massive fruit extract and richness, but without a hard edge to be found. All three of these are extraordinary wines, which is what we’ve come to expect from Jayson Woodbridge.”

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The average price is $497

Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2002 750ML ($619.95) $549 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Robert Parker 100 points
“Shafer’s flagship wine is the 2000 case cuvee of Hillside Select. Aged 32 months in 100% new French oak prior to bottling, it is one of the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvigons. The perfect, incredibly flamboyant and aromatic 2002 is one of the most profound California Cabernets I have ever tasted. Boasting an inky/purple color as well as an extraordinary perfurme of projected aromas of smoke, black currants, flowers, licorice and subtle oak, it possesses phenomenal intensity, a multilayered mid-palate, and a finish that lasts for over a minute. This is as profound as Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon can be, combining extraordinary power, texture, richness and depth with remarkable complexity, elegance and seamlessness. Drink this over the next 25+ years.”RP

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Cayuse Vineyards Bionic Frog Syrah, Walla Walla Valley 2009 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 97+ points
“Like the 2009 Cailloux, the 2009 Syrah Bionic Frog was closed aromatically, yet offered incredible depth, richness and purity on the palate. Reluctantly giving up lots of dark fruits, chocolate, mineral and roasted herbs, as well as more exotic notes of blood orange and mint, this inky colored, full-bodied, beautifully concentrated Syrah should be forgotten for 3-4 years, yet will have 20 years or more of overall longevity.”

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Cayuse Vineyards ‘Widowmaker’ En Chamberlin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2008 750ML ($179.95) $149 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 96 points
“Superb sculpture and definition in this compact and lightly funky evocation of pure Cabernet Sauvignon. The deep, dense, super ripe berry flavors are framed within a bouquet of dried herbs, pepper, mineral, astringent tannins, and a crisp mix of earth, wood and plant flavors. Superb length and ageability.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The Cayuse En Chamberlain 2008 Widowmaker is an essence of cassis laced with sloe berry as well as floral distillates that would seem remarkable for any wine from Cabernet Sauvignon, let alone when subjected – as was the bottle in question this March – to side-by-side comparison with Baron’s Bionic Frog of the same vintage. There is a remarkable creaminess of texture and sheer melted fondue of tannins here that I wouldn’t have believed possible. Is this seductive Cabernet Sauvignon as complex as the greatest examples of its variety? Hardly, I think. But it finishes with extraordinary length and there are stony and bittersweet herbal nuances as well as a hint of chocolate to parallel its persistent florality and intensely luscious fruit. Look for at least a decade of delight.”

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Staff Pick:

Anne-Sophie Dubois

When I look back through years of tasting notes I see certain words resurfacing on favorite wines. Lift, balance, elegance, backbone, electricity; but the keyword on the wines I have loved the most, Feminine. While I could bring all of these words to bear on Anne-Sophie’s wines, Feminine is a tough one. Her wines are the most energetic of the 2016 Beaujolais that I have tasted, and while Feminine is in the notes, it is often accompanied by a question mark. Dubois is willing to let that question mark hang out there, while letting her wines be unapologetically delicious.

Anne-Sophie is a bit tough to nail down. Born and raised in Champagne, she took her wine training in Burgundy, and after working in Volnay, she took the reins at her family’s non-champagne outpost in Fleurie. The vines she inherited are all approximately 60 years old planted on beautifully decomposed pink granite on a gently sloping southwest facing hillside. The nooks and crannies of these hills are a patchwork of vineyards, some more cared for than others. The first thing I notice about the vineyard is that it’s one large parcel, almost 20 acres uninterrupted, following the contours of the hill. Throughout, the soil and vines are extremely healthy and alive, clearly reflecting the care in the winemaking.  The time in the vineyard is extensive, and here she loudly proclaims 80% of the work is done.

If the remaining 20% of the winemaking is a direct result of her work, then it is the most rewarding fifth of anything I have tasted in quite some time. The push-pull of her Fleurie is most certainly feminine, but athletic – racy and very fit. This accounts for the question marks – trying to nail down these wines doesn’t seem very likely. I am a big fan of these wines and will accept the task of deciphering her wines every chance I get. Cocottes is her light and absolutely chuggable entry level wine, that still offers enjoyment beyond my expectations for a Gamay of this style. When you get into the Alchemiste and Clepsydre, you see her Volnay background clearly. The wines are layered and need time to go their full distance, but the 2016 Alchemiste may be an early contender for my wine of the year.

Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Clepsydre, Beaujolais 2016 750ML ($31.95) $27 special, 23 bottles in stock now
: Clepsydre is the French word for ‘water clock’ and denotes the most age-worthy of the wines that Dubois makes.  It still has her trademark elegance but with more richness and power than her other wines.  One to lay down or decant before opening, for sure.

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Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Clepsydre, Beaujolais 2015 750ML ($31.95) $28 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds 93 points
“Lurid ruby. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red fruits, Indian spices, incense and smoky minerals. In a rich yet distinctly elegant style, offering concentrated, alluringly sweet raspberry and cherry liqueur, floral pastille and spicecake flavors that show excellent clarity and back-end thrust. Suave and seamless in texture, but possesses impressive structure thanks to a core of juicy acidity. The long, floral-dominated finish is shaped by supple tannins and shows serious tenacity.”
Grapelive 93 points “One of the newest stars on the Beaujolais seen, Anne-Sophie Dubois makes deeply pure and flavorful expressions with this one from the Cru Fleurie that gives wonderful floral perfume and a vintage, in 2015 that is ripe and concentrated, but with elegant class and texturally beautiful. The Clepsydre, named after an ancient water clock, once used in old Egypt, because Anne-Sophie believes it needs time to fully develop and blossom, is grown on pink granite soils, from a 60+ year old plot of high density vines, which gives a stylish mineral streak and heightened aromatics, she destemmed this 100% Gamay, with native yeast, cold ferments and neutral cask (4-7 old barrels) aging for about 13 months, all unfined and unfiltered. This 2015 is hedonistically dark in color with a black/purple saturation in the glass and a clear bouquet of violets and red rose petals which leads to a full palate of black plum, sweet cherry, strawberry and lingering tangy currant with a hint of walnut, mure and star anise. This is a weightless sensation that hides the density of mouth feel and a burst of energetic natural acidity that brightens the whole wine, everything is gloriously seamless and it’s personality and charm is quite additive, Dubois, imported by Thomas Calder (Pruf Rock) and Sacred Thirst, has a lovely touch with Gamay and this Fleurie is almost to Dutraive quality! This is a winemaker to keep an eye on, and if you are a Gamay fan you’ll want to explore her wines, especially this one, it should go for a decade with ease, I love this stuff!  ($28 Est.)”

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Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie Les Cocottes, Beaujolais 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 special, 14 bottles in stock now
: This is Dubois’ entry level bottling and the only one of the range to be made with carbonic maceration.  Bright, fresh and eminently gulpable, it shows the terroir of Fleurie and an approachable, attractive form.

Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie l’Alchimiste, Beaujolais 2016 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
: This is Dubois flagship wine, from a southwest-facing section of Fleurie on mostly granite soils.  The wine is clearly a product of a Burgundy-style vinification (as opposed to carbonic maceration) but seems to channel the soul of Fleurie with dark and red fruits, foral notes and pretty spice flavors. Delicious.

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Rose of the Day!

Domaine Collotte’s Burgundy Beauty

Marsannay is the only village in Burgundy that permits rosé bottled under its AOC.  As you might expect, the rosé from the village is outstanding stuff and Domaine Collotte’s offers excellent value (just like their reds, for what that’s worth).  Made from 100% Pinot Noir, the Marsannay rosé shows the dry and serious side of the genre, while managing to be delicious and fresh at the same time.  If you love Pinot rosé from the Willamette Valley, you owe it to yourself to try the original.

Domaine Collotte Marsannay Rose, Cote de Nuits 2017 750ML ($21.95) $16.60 special
100% Pinot Noir. Sustainable.


The Transcendant 2015’s

Of Hubert Lignier

Hubert Lignier is one of the finest names in Burgundy.  The wines have been a core of the Neal Rosenthal portfolio since the 1978 vintage and have always been one of the jewels of the portfolio.  These are some of the defining wines of Morey-St. Denis, different from Dujac stylistically but no less important or profound.

We have the 2015 vintage arriving next week—a truly epic year across Burgundy and the wines chez Lignier are no exception.  These promise to be amongst the best wines of the vintage, per usual, and the standard for 2015 is very, very high.  Somewhat surprisingly, though, the prices have remained steady.  If you’re already familiar with these wines, just click here to head straight through to a list on our website.  If you aren’t you should browse below and make sure to try a bottle or two.

Arriving June 8th:

Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains, Burgundy 2015 750ML ($29.95) $26 pre-arrival special
Winery note “Produced from two varieties: Gamay planted in 1960 and Pinot Noir planted in 1998. From a vineyard covering [.4ha] in the commune of Morey St Denis, this wine offers immediate drinking pleasure and can be enjoyed with everyday meals.”

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Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne Pinot Noir Grand Chaliot, Burgundy 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
“The 2015 Bourgogne Grand Chaleot, which is the name of the lieu-dit on the other side of the Route Nationale, includes 10% new oak. It has a pretty bouquet of cranberry and redcurrant jus. The palate is nicely balanced with fleshy cranberry and raspberry fruit and a composed, quite natural, what you might call “light-hearted” finish. Enjoy this over the next 3-4 years.” -Wine Advocate

Domaine Hubert Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis Tres Girard, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special
Burghound 87-90 points “Somewhat curiously this is aromatically more refined than either of the two Chambolle villages examples with its cool, pretty and airy nose of pomegranate, plum, violet, anise and soft earth nuances. The delicious, rich and relatively full-bodied flavors possess a seductive, even caressing mouth feel while delivering good length if only average depth on the delicious finish where a hint of rusticity appears.”

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Domaine Hubert Lignier Morey-Saint-Denis Trilogie, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($119.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2015 Morey Saint Denis “Trilogie” hails from old vine “Pinot Fin” in the lieux-dits of Chenevery, Clos Solon and Porroux, giving a nice composite picture of Morey. Beautiful notes of plums, black cherry and spice introduce a full-bodied, richly structured wine with great depth and persistence, underpinned by wonderfully fresh acids. You really sense the creamy concentration from the old vines, which yielded a mere 26 hectoliters per hectare in this vintage. It would be difficult to find a better Morey villages than this superb wine from Laurent Lignier.”

Domaine Hubert Lignier Les Chaffots, Morey-Saint-Denis Premier Cru 2015 750ML ($179.95) $149 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The 2015 Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru les Chaffots, located just up from Clos Saint-Denis, has an expressive bouquet with ebullient red cherries, crushed strawberry and subtle undergrowth scents, the 20% whole bunch fruit neatly entwined and barely noticeable. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine tannin, a crisp line of acidity that binds together an elegant yet powerful finish that linger long in the mouth. I would wager that there can be few premier cru wines from Morey-Saint-Denis better than this gem.”

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Domaine Hubert Lignier Chambolle-Musigny Les Bussieres, Cote du Nuits 2015 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 89-91 points “The 2015 Chambolle-Musigny Les Bussières includes a small proportion of whole bunch fruit. It has a harmonious bouquet with red cherries and pomegranate aromas. I appreciate the definition and precision here. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp and crunchy red berry fruit, very natural in style, pure and tensile with a dash of spice on the finish. This should give ten years of pleasure, possibly more.”
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Domaine Hubert Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special
Burghound 88-91 points “This was somewhat flat in that the nose lacks a bit of freshness to the earth and sauvage-inflected red and dark pinot fruit aromas. Otherwise there is excellent richness to the velvety and caressing medium weight flavors that culminate in a firm and mildly austere finish. This possesses good acidity and thus my predicted range offers the benefit of the doubt that the nose will recover its freshness.”

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Domaine Hubert Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Seuvrees, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($129.95) $89 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 90-92 points “The 2015 Gevrey-Chambertin les Seuvrées comes from vines that tend to produce small berries and includes 20-25% whole bunch fruit this year. It has a very seductive redcurrant and pomegranate-scented bouquet with a tangible underlying mineralité. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-integrated new oak (20%) with a harmonious, slightly chalky finish that lingers in the mouth. This is very fine.”
Burghound 88-91 points “Like the straight Gevrey villages the nose lacks a bit of freshness but there is good complexity to the dark pinot fruit, earth, game and underbrush-inflected aromas. There is fine volume, richness and density to the relatively powerful, dusty, serious and well-balanced finish where the supporting tannins are clearly riper. Once again my range offers the benefit of the doubt that this will recover its freshness and verve as the underlying material appears to be excellent.”

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Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2015 750ML ($599.95) $499 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 96+ points “The 2015 Clos de la Roche Grand Cru from Domaine Hubert Lignier is one of the high points of the vintage, wafting from the glass with aromas of red and black fruits, pencil lead, cinnamon, cedar, blood orange, dark chocolate and violets. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, sappy and stunningly complete, its formidable chassis of tannin entirely cloaked in a bottomless core of fruit, striking for its mouth-filling amplitude and magical alliance of richness and energy. This will require a decade of bottle age, and ideally more, to realize all its immense potential. Ten-and-a-half barrels were produced.”

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These wines are made in tiny quantities that result in even smaller allocations.  As a result, only a few bottles are available on some of these wines—act quickly if you’re after something in particular.
Servin Stars in Chablis

Domaine Servin is one of the oldest and most prestigious estates in Chablis, with 32 hectares of vines spread throughout the region and much of it in top vineyards. The Servin family has been in Chablis since 1654, though the wines they’re making now are the finest in the family’s history.

Francois Servin, along with his Australian brother-in-law Mark Cameron, has been single-minded in his focus on quality above everything else.  The domaine has resumed hand harvesting of grapes over most of the Premier Cru and all of the Grand Cru vineyards. The estate has gone through and replanted struggling portions of the vineyard and extra care is taken in farming of the land.

The grapes are sorted with extra attention and the wines are aged in a mix of stainless steel and wooden barrel, depending on the cuvee, and bottled without filtration.  This is an estate that has made a wholesale commitment to quality and it shows in the wines.  Conveniently, though, prices have yet to catch up with the quality on display here—they remain bargains amongst the top-tier Chablis producers.  We have quite the assortment in, perfect for summer seafood or an extended stint in your cellar.

Domaine Servin Blanchot, Chablis Grand Cru 2014 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Burghound 92-94 points
“The refined and admirably pure nose is comprised by white flower, tidal pool and subtle spice aromas that are followed by citrus and mineral-infused flavors that are attractively textured, precise and explosive on the hugely long and very dry finish. This beauty is a lovely combination of power and finesse while delivering buckets of Chablis character. In a word, lovely.”
Stephen Tanzer–Vinous 91+ points “Very pale yellow. Delicate, high-pitched aromas of peach, ginger and white pepper. Wonderfully penetrating and pure but very tight today and not yet showing the detail of the Monteé de Tonnerre. Strong lemony acidity (4.7 grams per liter, according to Cameron) contributes to an impression of chalky austerity and carries the wine’s finish. Still an infant and likely to merit an even higher score as it matures in the cellar.”

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Domaine Servin Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2014 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“The 2014 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, which like the Bougros was extracted from a new barrel, has a potent mineral/wet pavement bouquet that gains vigor in the glass. The palate is fresh and crisp with a fine line of acidity, brushing off the new oak with ease and fanning out wonderfully on the poised finish. This is a more sophisticated proposition than the Bougros at the moment – harmonious, intense and with great breeding.”
Stephen Tanzer–Vinous 93+ points “Very pale yellow with a green tinge. Wonderfully subtle nose combines orchard fruits, lime blossom, white pepper, wet stone and gunflint. Conveys captivating sweetness to its penetrating flavors of white peach, flowers and saline minerality, with perfectly integrated acidity accentuating the impression of clarity. The high-pitched spicy, floral finish features terrific limey thrust and length.”

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Domaine Servin Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2015 750ML ($79.95) $66 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer–Vinous 94 points
“(bottled in April): Bright, light yellow-green. Ineffable scents of lime, white peach, fresh apricot, white pepper and crushed stone. Surprisingly intense and sweet on the palate, with lovely supporting minerality and acidity to frame the seamless orchard fruit and spice flavors. Not an austere Clos–in fact almost friendly–but beautifully balanced. Its tight, very long finish suggests that it will evolve gracefully in bottle.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2015 Chablis Grand Cru les Clos has a very composed bouquet with white citrus fruit, orange blossom, limestone and a touch of flint. It is harmonious and detailed, shrugging off the warmth of the growing season. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity. There is fine focus here, good body and depth with a hint of fresh fig interlacing the citrus fruit on the saline finish. This is a classy offering from Domaine Servin and winemaker Marc Cameron.”

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Domaine Servin Les Preuses, Chablis Grand Cru 2013 750ML ($79.95) $59 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90+ points
“(30% oak): Bright pale yellow with a green tinge. Spicy, slightly high-toned aromas of orange oil and white peach. Pliant and concentrated, offering good inner-mouth energy and minerality to the intense soft citrus and floral flavors. Very rich but in need of a couple years in the bottle to gain in complexity. Slightly phenolic on the back end, showing subtle chalk and saline qualities.” JR
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Domaine Servin Les Preuses, Chablis Grand Cru 2014 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
“The 2014 Chablis Grand Cru les Preuses, which Marc Cameron told me is now the last of the grand crus to be bottled, has a well-defined bouquet that is clean and pure, but perhaps needing a little more spiciness to articulate this vineyard. The palate is better with crisp acidity, nicely poised with fine salinity toward the finish. Keep this in the cellar for 4 or 5 years and this will evolve into a formidable Les Preuses.”

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The Rayas of Bordeaux

The Elegant, Old- School Margaux

Of Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre

“The vinification is distinguished by a bias of naturalness and lack of sophistication which is at the antipodes of all that Bordeaux has been practicing for a number of years: no sorting table, cement vats, no winemaking piloted by computer, no oenologist-advice, no aging in barrels, very long tank farms. Just a “man-orchestra who plays pretty much all the instruments but is virtuoso of none. “Who, alone, away from everything and all develops a wine like no other, totally idiosyncratic, a little like a Rayas de Margaux.  Except that Mr. Boyer is not called Mr. Raynaud and the whole world does not move here to try to negotiate an allowance. With this difference, due to the psittacism of men, the parallelism is striking”Jacques Perrin

“Jean-Pierre Boyer’s energy belies the fact that he is about to turn eighty-five – nothing unusual there. Many winemakers work until they are physically incapable. What is remarkable is that Jean-Pierre is embarking upon his 68th vintage at the same property. That is not a typo. Sixty-eight vintages. Think about that for a moment.… Even more astonishing is that his modus operandi, his tenets and practices, remained unaltered from his first day to this. It is forgotten Bordeaux made corporeal and if you don’t believe me, then I guarantee you will by the time you finish reading this article….

“The vines. Wow. I have visited most of the major vineyards in Bordeaux and never encountered any like these. “I have vines that are over 100-years old, maybe dating back to the 1870s on their own roots,” Boyer tells me, vanquishing the idea that the only Gallic vines on their original roots lie chez Bollinger. Winemakers often boast about the age of their vines, exaggerating and adding a few years. Inspecting these veterans close-up, they must constitute not just some of the oldest in Bordeaux, but in France.

“….To my left are Jean-Pierre’s barrels. Forget your endless rows of bespoke François Frères or Cadus. There are eight, well, seven and a half barrels in total. I am not sure of their age but they have seen a few vintages for sure. Behind are stacks of unlabeled bottles, not because they remain unsold, but because Jean-Pierre does not sell en primeur and hold vintages back until he is ready to put them into market….

“Each side of the [vat] room is dominated by terraces of large cement vats that have clearly fermented Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre since time immemorial, so dark and gloomy grey they seem to absorb light. He switches on a rudimentary electric bulb so that I can see them better and then turns them off because he does not want to waste electricity. Underneath each vat are large format bottles tilted at 45° and a handful of demi-jeans in wicker baskets. These are not a library stock of ancient bottles but Jean-Pierre’s only means of manually topping up the vats. Presumably he tilts a ladder against the vat, hoists up what looks like rehoboams and pours them in from the top. That’s your maceration. The wines spend two or three years in these cement vats, a similar approach to Château Gillette in Sauternes.”Neal Martin, Vinous

Arriving ETA Late June:

Chateau Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre, Margaux 1995 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special
Neal Martin – Vinous 91 points “The 1995 Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre has an exquisite, gentle, almost Burgundy-like bouquet with wonderful purity and delineation. This is a mixture of red and black fruit, developing pressed violet aromas that direct you back to Margaux. The palate is medium-bodied with a structured entry, a fine line of acidity, black fruit mixed with iodine and sea salt that leads to a linear, Pauillac-like finish. This is a very fine Margaux that is ageing gracefully at 23-years of age. Tasted at the Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre dinner.”

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Chateau Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre, Margaux 2000 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Neal Martin – Vinous 93 points “The 2000 Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre is like the 1986 on the nose: backward and broody, demanding coaxing from the glass. There are moss-like, undergrowth scents, a touch of morels emerging with time and then, after an hour, the nose blossoms and finds its groove. The fruit belatedly surfaces and you find yourself bewitched by the bouquet. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin. This is not a complex millennial Margaux however there is a beguiling sense of effortless class and poise that plenty of its Margaux colleagues crave. Towards the finish there are subtle notes of tobacco and terracotta that lend another layer of complexity. I just love this wine – one of the best vintages from Jean-Pierre Boyer. Tasted at the Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre dinner.”

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Last Day of the May Sale!

June starts tomorrow, so consider this a final warning to stop procrastinating and get after those deals you’ve been dreaming about.  We’ve got a few highlights below, but you can click here to see all 46 wines in the Clearance Sale on our website!

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Crau Blanc, Rhone 2016 750ML ($79.95) Was $66, Now $59 Clearance Price
Jeb Dunnuck 95+ points “Slightly fresher than the La Roquete release (I always taste this cuvee after the la Roquete which is also made by the Brunier family), the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc gives up lots of lemon and grapefruit characteristics as well as a terrific, salty minerality that makes you salivate. Medium to full-bodied, tight, fresh and clean, it needs 2-3 years of bottle age and will singe for 2 decades or more. As with the 2015, it’s a candidate for the finest white made at this estate.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Ripe and rich, but focused, with verbena, bitter almond and wet stone notes threading through the core of creamed yellow apple, pear and melon flavors. Very long, with a gorgeous salted butter echo. Drink now through 2020.”JM

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The average price is $71
Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2014 750ML ($54.95) Was $38, Now $33 Clearance Price
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 92-94 points “Brilliant ruby. A powerfully scented bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, incense and pungent flowers, and a smoky Indian spice nuance builds in the glass. Fleshy and broad on entry and then tighter in the middle, offering juicy, concentrated black raspberry and boysenberry flavors given spine by juicy acidity. Rich yet energetic, finishing with outstanding clarity and sweet persistence and shaped by smooth tannins.”
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The average price nationally is $42
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon, Rhone 2013 750ML ($249.95) Was $219, Now $199 Clearance Price
Wine Advocate 98+ points “The star of the show in 2013 is the 2013 Ermitage le Pavillon. Coming from the west and eastern edges of the Bessards lieu-dit and aged in 30% new French oak, its sensational black/blue color is followed by the awesome bouquet of cassis, smoked earth, graphite and caramelized meats that could come from no other terroir in the world. Full-bodied, massive, dense, sexy and with a liquid rock-like character that comes out with time in the glass, it has sweet tannin and a blockbuster finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It needs 5-6 years of cellaring and will have 30-40 years of more of ultimate longevity.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is 10% higher at $209
The average price is over 50% higher at $323!!

Cavallotto Bricco Boschis, Barolo DOCG 2013 750ML ($89.95) Was $66, Now $59 Clearance Price
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 96+ points “Cavallotto is on a roll with some very impressive new releases. The 2013 Barolo Bricco Boschis is a tremendous effort that has an edge on the excellent 2010 vintage in my view. The wine shows a beautifully exuberant but elegant bouquet with the ethereal and undertone fruit and spice aromas you get with Nebbiolo. Although the wine is never overdone, it does show silky persistence and a long finish that comes from the noble nature of the tannins and the wine’s textural finesse. Yet, it is playfully deceiving in a way because behind that polished grace, it delivers impressive depth and power.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “This is packed with sweet cherry, currant, floral and spice flavors. The vivid acidity drives the intensity, while dense tannins lend support. This will take some time to harmonize, but should be well worth the wait. Best from 2022 through 2040.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2013 Barolo Bricco Boschis is terrific. Dense and powerful in the glass, the 2013 offers notable energy and muscle in its dark-toned Nebbiolo flavors. Smoke, graphite, rose petal, licorice and menthol develop in what is a decidedly brooding, inward Bricco Boschis. There is real staying power and persistence to the 2013. I wouldn’t plan on touching a bottle anytime soon.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
The average price nationally is $72
Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe, Barolo Riserva DOCG 2011 750ML ($119.95) Was $99, Now $88 Clearance Price
Monica Larner – Wine Advocate 95 points “The Cavallotto 2011 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe is an exceptional wine that really shows the best of Castiglione Falletto, home to some of Barolo’s most consistent and age-worthy wines. This bottle offers enormous complexity coupled by power and linear, classic lines. Maceration stopped at 20 days, otherwise the winemaking team feared the results would be overdone and too bold. The bouquet opens quickly to reveal dark fruit, spice, anise seed and licorice. The effect is ethereal and lasting. It would be hard to pin this wine down as being from the warm 2011 vintage in a blind tasting. The acidity is fresh and nicely folded into the background.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Balanced and expressive, this Barolo features maturing aromas and flavors of cherry, licorice, tobacco and mineral. Builds to a long, detailed aftertaste. Altogether savory and fresh. Best from 2020 through 2033.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “Cavallotto’s 2011 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe is powerful and dense. The more roasted, ripe side of the year is very much in evidence. There is no shortage of richness to the black cherry, smoke, tobacco, menthol and licorice flavors. At times, though, the 2011 comes across as a bit heavy. I would have liked to see a little more freshness, although, admittedly, that was hard to come by in 2011.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $104

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Balthazar’s Elite Cornas

“Over the last decade, the soft-spoken Franck Balthazar has emerged as one of the most consistently top-notch winemakers not just in Cornas, but in the entire Rhone Valley. Winemaking here is very traditional, utilizing whole clusters and only 10% to 15% new oak ‘just to maintain the usual rotation of wood, not for aroma or flavor.’ Balthazar’s Cornas bottlings are some of the most elegant of the appellation, but their light touch can be deceiving. They have also proven to be excellent cellar candidates even though they show a highly seductive character in their youth.”

“Most of the ‘16s show wonderful up-front vivacity and clean, lucid fruit. This might lead one to believe that it’s an early-maturing vintage that should be enjoyed for its come-hither character rather than buried in the cellar. I have a feeling, though, that these wines, many of which are still in barrel, will continue to put on weight and gain in structure over the coming months, and that they will age positively for quite some time – but more on balance than on underlying backbone or mass. Yields in 2016 were healthy but not excessive, so there’s no lack of concentration to the wines, especially those from the best producers.” Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Arriving ETA July:

Franck Balthazar Cornas Sans Soufre Ajoute, Rhone 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Franck Balthazar Cornas Cuvee Casimir Balthazar, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot, Rhone 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Powerful, Praised and Value-Driven

The Wines of Alain Jaume

Alaine Jaume & Fils have become known over the last few decades as one of the preeminent producers of wines in the Southern Rhone.  They’re best known for the two estates they manage, Domaine Grand Veneur (Chateauneuf) and Domaine du Clos de Sixte (Lirac) but they’ve also created a number of excellent projects from leased vineyards, as well.  In addition to monster scores and high quality, the Jaume wines are known for being excellent value—it’s hard to beat the quality/points to price ratio of these across the board.

Arriving ETA October:

Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2016 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 97-99+ points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes is sensational, with notes of blackberry jam, blueberries, crushed flowers, licorice, and graphite all soaring from the glass. Deep, rich, unctuous and still structured, with masses of tannin, it’s a beast of a wine, yet stays impeccably balanced, pure and clean. It’s going to need 4-5 years of cellaring.”

Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Fontaine Blanc, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The flagship 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc La Fontaine is a more substantial, serious effort that offers notes of caramelized citrus, brioche, honeysuckle and orange blossom. Rich, layered and concentrated, yet also fresh and lively, it’s a terrific white that’s going to sing on the dinner table. Drink it anytime over the coming 4-5 years (it will keep even longer).”

Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine du Clos de Sixte Lirac, Rhone 2016 750ML ($29.95) $26 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 93+ points “The 2016 Lirac Domaine du Clos de Sixte is a terrific wine, easily the rival to many Châteauneufs from across the river, starting with its alluring aromas of flowering garrigue and ripe cherries. A blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre, this full-bodied wine is lush and concentrated on the palate, then turns velvety on the long finish. I’d treat it like a Châteauneuf du Pape in terms of cellaring: hold it for a few years, then drink it over the next 15.”

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Alain Jaume & Fils Gigondas Terrasses de Montmirail, Rhone 2016 750ML ($39.95) $29 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “Looking like a future star, the 2016 Gigondas Terrasses de Montmirail is full-bodied, lush and creamy. Black cherry and vanilla flavors finish with savory tannins, an enticing bit of licorice and no heat at all. Very promising.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!
Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Le Miocene Rouge, Rhone  2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 91-93 points “The entry-level effort is the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Le Miocène and it’s primarily Grenache with smaller amounts of Syrah and Mourvèdre. It offers a classic, fresh, beautifully focused style in its raspberry, garrigue, flower and spice aromatics. This gives way to a medium to full-bodied, deep, rich, layered red that has the underlying tannic grip and structure of the vintage. It’s going to keep for 10-15 years.”

Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Origines, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.59) $59 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96+ points “Possibly the finest vintage of this cuvée to date, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Origines (50% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, and the balance Syrah) offers a full-bodied, unctuous, yet thrillingly pure style in its black raspberry, cassis, licorice and spice aromas and flavors. It has a smoking good mid-palate, building, ripe tannin and a huge finish.”


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