The Perfect Wines For Spring?
Agathe Bursin’s Alsatian Delights
A Tuscan Focus in the April Clearance Sale
Notable from Napa: Snowden and Bosché Inbound
Incredible Deals on Two Kermit Classics
2015 Gouges—The Best Yet
The Perfect Wines For Spring?
Agathe Bursin’s Alsatian Delights
The Bursin family has been making wines in Alsace for several generations and Agathe has taken the family domaine to new levels. Educated in Burgundy, she worked in Chablis before returning home to the family winery and there is a marked Chablisienne influence on her wines in terms of their clarity of flavor and brightness. All the wines she makes are delicious, and she’s known in Alsace as something of a Sylvaner whisperer, but we’d urge you to check out the entire range!
We think the wines of Alsace are perfect for springtime—they have freshness and elegance that you’re looking for but more weight and gravitas than similar wines across the Voges. They’re great at going with all sorts of bright green flavors that we’re craving after a long winter and the wines themselves have a fruitiness that feels rewarding, especially tempered with the acidity and minerality in them.
Agathe Bursin L’As de B, Alsace 2016 750ML ($21.95) $17 special, 22 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: This wine comes from the lieu-dit Bollenberg and is made from an assortment of grapes that are interplanted and harvested at the same time. Made from a mix of Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, though the exact blend changes depending on the yields in the vintage. This wine is a delightful representation of all of the things we love about Bursin, at a crazy price for its quality.
The next best price is $19.99
Winery note “[Translated] Bollenberg is one of the three arid hills bordering the village of Westhalten. A thin layer of loess lines the hillsides. The soil is a pale yellow loam, very fine and sandy with clayey limestone. This soil is particularly favorable to full expression of the different Alsatian grape varieties. The 44 year old Muscat plot is Muscat Ottonel (80%) and Muscat d’Alsace (20%). The vineyard gives the Muscat Muscat that delicate nose that only this grape can transmit. 17g/L residual sugar, 5.36 g/L total acidity. Drink as an aperitif or pair with asparagus, grilled sardines or shellfish.”
VinopolNote: Classic Alsace Pinot Blanc. Clean, crisp with nice minerality and a touch of nuttiness. This would make an excellent aperitif or a smashing pairing with fish.
VinopolNote: The Disrstelberg vineyard is mostly composed of pink sandstone and is known as a high quality vineyard for a variety of grapes. The wines from the site tend to be linear and crisp, with good varietal character. Unlike many Alsatian producers, Bursin errs on the side of delicacy and raciness rather than pick too late and allow the wines to become rich and flabby for the sake of power.
VinopolNote: The Zinnkoepflé vineyard has been recognized as a top site since the beginning of vine cultivation in Alsace. The road in leading to the vineyard is known as “The Street of Gold” so famed were the wines. The shelly-limestone soils provide for great acidity, so wines from here are always both rich and racy—a rare and impressive combination.
Grapelive 91 points “Brilliantly dry and dusty crisp the pale golden/straw hued 2016 Agathe Bursin Dirstelberg Riesling sings a sirens song with a haunting and alluring beauty with lithe vibrancy, textured mouth feel and mineral charms. I have been trying to get my hands on Bursin’s wines for years. They have been difficult to find in the states, especially in California. I had heard good things, and I was not disappointed. I know I’ll be ordering more. The style is brisk and sharp with loads of inner energy and delicacy of form, but with good dry extract and depth of flavor. Impressively austere in an age of over the top fruitiness, Agathe’s Distelberg is very lifted and tangy fresh with clear and transparent focus and intensity. Grown on pink sandstone this Riesling reminds me of trocken (dry) Muller-Catoir (Riesling) from the Pfalz (also on sandstone) over the border in Germany in some ways with its chalky/stony elements and its lean profile. The nose is still shy at this point with citrus, saline, loam and faint rose water start things here before a light bodied palate of lime, white peach, spring melon, unripe apple, earthy loam and verbena as well as wet rock, briny/salty oyster shell and lemongrass. Picks up a bit of tangerine, tart apricot and spicy chamomile with air, but stays racy with lots of verve from fine acidity that pumps from start to finish in this great value single vineyard wine. Agatha Bursin has been making wine since 2000 and is proving herself to be a huge talent, and is an exciting small producer in the Alsace region. She tends and farms by hand and uses organic methods as well as leaning towards biodynamic treatments in the vines. As far as I can tell she is a traditionally minded winemaker and cares deeply for terroir expression in her lovely wine(s). This 2016 Distelberg Riesling is a soulful and wonderful with food, I really enjoyed it with sushi, but it would great also with oysters, mussels and clams and or cheeses, cured meats or as an aperitif even. Drink over the next 3 to 5 years.”
VinopolNote: The Zinnkoepflé vineyard has been recognized as a top site since the beginning of vine cultivation in Alsace. The vineyard sits in a protected area that allows for exceptional sun exposure while limiting risk of botrytis and other problems. As a result, we always see very pure-fruited wines with a lot of finess coming from this site, owing in part to the shelly-limestone soils which provide for great acidity and nerve.
The next best price is $42.99
VinopolNote: Agathe Bursin is known in Alsace as one of the top producers of Sylvaner. This is one of her top wines and provides a compelling reason to pay attention to the grape. Aromatically really interesting with a bright, mineral palate and great texture. This is a wine worth paying attention to.
Want to see (and buy) all of the Bursin wines? Just click here to see a full list on our website!
A Focus on Tuscany
In the April Clearance Sale
Le Macchiole ‘Paleo’ Bolgheri, Tuscany 2000 750ML ($99.95) $39 Clearance Price
Antonio Galloni 91 points “[Reviewed Apr 2014] Smoke, menthol, licorice, incense and grilled herbs all meld together in the 2000 Paleo Rosso. The 2000 retains good freshness and vibrancy, even if it lacks the personality of the years that follow. Grilled herbs, cassis and plums flesh out on the finish. Overall, the 2000 is a bit on the soft, delicate side, which suggests any remaining bottles should be enjoyed sooner rather than later. The 2000 is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, the highest amount of Franc ever in the blend up to this point. [Vinopolis note: the back label just reads Cabernet Franc] ”
Wine Advocate 91 points “The 2000 Paleo, a classic Bordeaux blend in this vintage, shows a high toast, vanilla-laced nose of cassis, blackberries, and Cabernet Franc herbs, and a supple, well concentrated palate of ripe fruit, minerals, and tar. The depth and intensity of 1999 are not here, but no one else achieved them in 2000 either. Drink: 2005-2018.”
Wine Spectator 90 points “Rich currant, blackberry and bark aromas follow through to a full-bodied palate, with loads of fruit and round, velvety tannins. Very long and rich. Paleo is slowly changing to a classic Bolgheri Cab blend, and the wine is much better. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.”
The next best price is $80.99
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “This Cabernet Franc is beautiful, with incredible succulence, persistence, heat, power and a full plate of enticing fragrances. Coffee, root beer, chocolate, Nutella, graham cracker and cherry liqueur are only a few elements of the wine’s complexity.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Intense aromas of blackberry, rose and rosemary follow through to a full-bodied palate, with ultrafine tannins and a long, long finish. Supersilky and caressing. A gorgeous wine. Cabernet Franc. Best after 2009. 1,960 cases made.”
James Suckling 94 points “This is a big, juicy style of Macchiole, with lots of blueberries and fresh herbs. Full body, rich and round, with chocolate character. Lots going on here. Powerful. Better in 2016, or decant two or three hours before.”
Antonio Galloni 93 points “[Reviewed Apr 2014] The 2004 Paleo Rosso is shaping up beautifully, although it is quite intense and powerful within the context of a year that generally yielded wines on the more finessed side. Still, there is plenty to admire in the wine’s sheer depth and density. Early tertiary notes are right around the corner in a wine that should drink well over the next decade. The 2004 is a gorgeous Paleo Rosso. In this vertical, it is easy to see where the 2004 belongs in the evolution of Le Macchiole. The style is a bit over-extracted, heavy and oaky by today’s standards, but this is a well-made wine for its era.”
The average price is $73
Wine Enthusiast 98 points “Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, Paleo opens with concentrated, sweet-smelling aromas of plum, cherry and cinnamon, which translate to the palate with added notes of spice, leather and tobacco. This is bold, opulent and delicious, and it’s guaranteed to please. Hold for 10 years or more.”
Ian D’agata 94 points “(100% cabernet franc): Good full red-ruby. Knockout nose combines fresh red cherry with richer, riper aromas of raspberry jam, strawberry syrup, milk chocolate, vanilla and candied violet. At once sappy and voluminous, with lovely sweetness and flesh to the red fruit flavors. Very smooth, velvety tannins leave an impression of lingering creaminess on the extremely long finish, which features a seamlesscherry liqueur-like quality. A very ripe, almost candied style of Paleo, but it’s a pretty irresistible wine that will offer plenty of early drinking appeal.”
The next best price is $104.99
Antonio Galloni 95 points “In top vintages the estate’s Scrio makes a case for itself as Italy’s finest Syrah. The 2001 was utterly irresistible. It presented a seductive array of dark cherries, plums, mint, minerals and spices with extraordinary length and purity of expression, closing with a long, resonating finish. Though rich and concentrated it also came across as remarkably light on its feet.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2001 Scrio, 100% Syrah, with an expressive and expansive nose of blackberry fruit, cured meat, mint, and vanilla, is equally important on the palate, round and concentrated and with a warm, dense, and substantial finish. Drink: 2006-2018.”
The next best price is $148
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Collezione Privata is superb. A delicate, nuanced wine in this vintage, the Cabernet Sauvignon speaks in hushed tones. Silky tannins and highly expressive aromatics add to an impression of total finesse. In many vintages, the Cabernet can be quite big, but not in 2013. This is a brilliant showing from Isole and proprietor Paolo De Marchi.”
The next best price is $65.98
Two Notable Napas
Snowden Vineyards The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 750ML ($59.95) $36.60 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Snowden Vineyards The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 750ML ($599.95) $399 pre-arrival special (that’s only $33.25/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch is another gorgeous wine from Snowden. Dark, racy and expressive, the 2014 boasts lovely depth and polish. Dark cherry, plum, spice, mocha and leather are all pushed forward. Gracious and medium in body, with fabulous balance, the 2014 has it all. Best of all, The Ranch is one of the best values readers will find in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Don’t miss it!”
James Suckling 93 points “The blackberry and blueberry character is impressive with hints of walnuts too. Full body, integrated and chewy tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink in 2020.”
The next best price is $39.95
Wine Advocate 96+ points “Very deep garnet-purple colored, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Bosche Vineyard, composed of 94.1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5.9% Merlot, has an expressive, savory nose of black olives, roasted nuts and sandalwood with a core of cassis, blackberry pie and unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied and laden with black fruits, earth and baking spice notions, it has a firm structure of grainy tannins and lovely freshness, finishing long. Forget it for 2-4 years and drink it over the next 25+”
The next best price is $144.95
Two Exceptional Deals
On Kermit Classics
Arriving Friday April 13th:
Albert Boxler Riesling Brand, Alsace Grand Cru 2014 750ML ($79.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 93 points “From a south-facing parcel, the 2014 Riesling Grand Cru Brand displays a pure and flinty bouquet with ripe white and lemony fruit aromas intermixed with herbal flavors. Intense and piquant on the palate, this full-bodied Riesling is dense and complex, still very young but enormously mineral in the finish. The fruit is concentrated and almost tropical and the tannins are adequately firm. This Brand has a remarkable finesse and juicy character, and finishes with power and structure. Still very young but really promising. It is from a less steep plot than in the Sommerberg and from decomposed granite soils where the roots go deep.”
The next best price is $75
Wine Spectator 89 points “Features a fresh red currant and pomegranate fruit core, laced with light chalk, savory and green olive accents, maintaining chalky cut through the light-bodied finish. Approachable, but pure and balanced enough to cellar for a touch. Drink now through 2020. 115 cases imported.”
The next best price is $21.89
The Finest Gouges’ Yet
2015 Brings Out the Domaine’s Best
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 ETA May:
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.”
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.”
“Medium red. Sexy aromas of redcurrant, raspberry and earth, along with hints of leather and menthol. Red fruit and spice flavors show moderate intensity but more flesh than usual for this cuvée. Not a sweet style but should make a very satisfying drink.” – Stephen Tanzer
“A brooding nose is composed of earthy, sauvage and rustic aromas of plum and dark currant. The rich, velvety and mouth coating middle weight flavors that possess fine mid-palate concentration, all wrapped in a lingering finale that is shaped by ripe and firm tannins. Moderate patience suggested”-Burghound
Thank you for reading!