Tuesday Vinopolpick 9-19-17

Mountain Wines of the Jura; The Silky and Sublime Occhipinti Wines; Antoniolo’s Towering Nebbiolo of Gattinara; Introduction to Etna: Terre Nere’s Everyday Bottlings; Araujo, Forman, Ramey—Three Napa Titans; The 98+ Point Ermitage Le Pavillon of Chapoutier


Mountain Wines of the Jura

Resting between Burgundy and the border of Switzerland in eastern France is the less-obscure-than-it-used-to-be wine producing region of the Jura.  It’s a small area, as vineyards are mostly planted in a 50 mile strip along the lower-lying western section of the Jura Mountains, though it used to be much more prominent in the world of wine—the  vineyard land today is still only one-tenth of its historic pre-phylloxera size.

Due to the region’s isolation, much of its traditional winemaking techniques are still in common practice and its three traditional grape varieties still dominate the landscape.  Historically, the most famous wine to come from the region was Vin Jaune, “yellow wine,” which takes its color (and characteristic flavors) from the fact that it’s not topped up during elevage.  A wild yeast forms a veil on top of the wine (the same as the flor that forms on some sherries) and protects the wine from excessive oxidation, while creating savory, rich tones in the wine.  Vin Jaune shows lots of this character, but other whites in the region are aged for shorter periods of time and so come across as a cross between something like a white Burgundy and their more extreme cousins.

The reds of the Jura are also worth noting—light and perfumed, these are wines that have been attracting serious outside interest, as a few big names from Burgundy have started to make wine in the region.  Trousseau and Poulsard are the big names here, though Pinot Noir has been used increasingly often and sometimes shows up in blends, as well.

One way or another, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites from this special, special region.

Oxidized Whites:

Benedicte & Stephane Tissot Chateau-Chalon, Jura 2008 620ML ($99.95) $79 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points “When tasted next to the other vin jaunes from the same vintage, the 2008 Château Chalon felt very different, and you noticed the extra freshness of Chalon compared to Arbois. It has more green hazelnut, citrus and morel aromas, and is already showing some notes of curry. It is fine, straight and elegant. This is simply superb.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $104.99

Benedicte & Stephane Tissot Arbois Vin Jaune ‘La Vasee’, Jura 2008 620ML ($89.95) $79 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2008 Arbois Vin Jaune La Vasée was closed and austere — a fresh style of vin jaune. It is salty, so this would be ideal with oysters. This is both powerful and concentrated with lots of iodine; it is a very salty, marine, characterful wine, and is sharp.”

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Domaine de Montbourgeau Vins Blancs de L’Etoile, Jura 2013 750ML ($34.95) $28 special, 22 bottles in stock now
Importer note “This cuvée is the classic white wine of Montbourgeau. It is usually bottled after 24 to 30 months of elevage in barrel. Chardonnay is the dominant grape but an occasional Savagnin vine is found within the Chardonnay plantings, an addition which adds a touch of complexity to the ultimate blend. The fermentation occurs in stainless steel but, after malolactic, the wine is racked into small barrel and demi-muids for two years. At that point, the entire production is assembled and left for several months in cuve before being bottled.”

Michel Gahier Arbois Les Crets Chardonnay, Jura 2012 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 5 bottles in stock now
The grapes for this cuvée are sourced from a hilltop vineyard (Les Crets meaning “crest of the hill”) where the Chardonnay has been grafted onto the rootstock of the local grape variety known as “Melon Queue Rouge”.  The wine is aged for about fifteen months in large foudre and is then racked into the smaller format (600 liter) demi-muid for another year of elevage.

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Michel Gahier Arbois La Fauquette Chardonnay, Jura 2011 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Importer’s Note:  This cuvée, again from a single vineyard in Montigny, is aged for one year in large foudres at which point it is then racked into smaller barrel for an additional three years “sous voile”.  Called Chardonnay, the vines are of the local variety known as “Melon Queue Rouge”, a white grape the skin color of which bleeds towards red as it approaches the stem.

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Domaine Daniel Dugois Arbois ‘Sous Voile’ Savagnin, Jura 2012 750ML ($31.95) $28 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 92 points “Very distinctive, with singed Brazil nut aromas imparting a Sherry-like profile before revealing richer apple, melon and pear nuances midpalate. The long finish picks up paraffin, brioche, salted butter and dried lemon rind notes, with everything flowing harmoniously over a dry, nervy underpinning. Drink now through 2022.”

Domaine Jean Francois Ganevat Cotes du Jura Cuvee Prestige Savagnin 2006 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 3 bottles in stock now


Michel Gahier Arbois Trousseau La Vigne du Louis, Jura 2015 750ML ($44.95) $38 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Importer note “This vineyard in Montigny has a northeast exposure which requires a harvest later than the other “cru” reds. The vines are forty years old (as of 2011). Gahier likes this cuvée with about four or five years of age to it.”

Michel Gahier Cotes du Jura La Vigne de Fort, Jura 2015 750ML ($31.95) $27 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Importer note “10% PN, 90% Trousseau. 15% of a 2.0 ha parcel (the rest is planted to Chard).”

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Domaine Jean Francois Ganevat Cotes du Jura Cuvee Julien 2010 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 89-90 points “From what he calls a “pinot fin” selection planted not long after World War II, Ganevat’s 2010 Cotes du Jura Pinot Noir Cuvee Julien – which I assessed from tank just before bottling – went into its conical wooden fermentor with its stems having been removed by hand and with scissors! “It’s not supposed to be structured grand vin,” he cautions, “but rather about minerality, droiture, and the finesse of Pinot.” Well, it certainly wouldn’t have fooled me even without that introduction! But if you approach this the way you might a really top-notch Sancerre Pinot from old vines (say, Gerard Boulay’s rose or Edmond Vatan’s “red”) it may seem faintly familiar, not to mention distinctively delicious. Fresh sour cherry, rose hip, hibiscus, and toasted almond inhabit the nose and palate of this delicate, infectiously juicy libation whose salinity, piquancy, and tart fruit skin tang make for a delightfully exhilarating as well as persistent finish…” DS

Champ Divin Champ d’Etoiles Cotes du Jura Pinot Noir 2013 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
Winery note “Intense ruby-pink colour.  Fresh morello cherry aromas.  Elegant, upstanding and beautifully structured fresh feel in the mouth.  An explosion of ripe plum and cherry flavours, with a hint of licorice.  Organic and biodynamic with low sulfur.”

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Occhipinti Pre Arrival- Here Friday 22nd

Arianna Occhipinti has become one of the most sought after winemakers whose wines we offer.  If you’re not familiar with the wines, this might be surprising—are there any other winemakers from southern Sicily whose wines disappear and leave loads of eager fans waiting for more?  No, she’s unique, as are her wines.

Sicily is a region blessed with warmth and sunshine, so power comes naturally to many wines from the island.  Elegance and delicacy, the hallmarks of the Occhipinti wines, are somewhat harder to achieve, but she pulls that off in spades.  Her wines are perfumed, silky and delicious, from the Frappato that she’s come to be known for to her Nero d’Avola that still manages excellent finesse.

We’re also getting in the TAMI wines, which she makes in collaboration with a friend who owns a wine bar.  These are great ways to see the Occhipinti style and, while less complex, are delicious wines that are amazing on the table.

Arriving Friday:


Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Bianco Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
VinopolNote: A Blend of Albanello and Zibbibo (Moscato di Alessandria). Fermented on the skins for a few weeks, but not an ‘orange’ wine, this is pretty and perfumed, with bright, sparkling acidity and slight herbal notes overlayed across stone fruit flavors.  A really standout Sicilian white.

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti ‘Tami’ Grillo Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($19.95) $16 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!


Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2015 750ML ($47.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2015 750ML ($499.95) $419 pre-arrival special (that’s only $34.92/bottle!— the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Ian D’agata–Vinous 94 points “Bright red. Perfumed red cherry, minerals and fresh flowers on the captivating nose. Then rich and thick, with clean flavors of red berries and candied violet boasting noteworthy inner-mouth perfume. Finishes long and fresh, with a repeating note of violet and a hint of strawberry. This light-bodied, perfumed, lovely red is yet another in a long line of delicious Frappato wines from this producer; it’s a wine that offers a ton of flavor, bright acids and floral lift, but only 13% alcohol. Well done.”

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Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti ‘Siccagno’ Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2014 750ML ($47.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 93+ points “Good full ruby. Deep, spicy and sweet aromas and flavors of plums and vanilla complicated by botanical herbs and flint. Peppery acids and polished tannins frame the flavors nicely on the perfumed back end, that features hints of violet and lingering salinity. Another great red from Arianna Occhipinti this year. (13% alcohol)”
Winery note “Siccagno is my Nero d’Avola, born from those concentrated grapes which we precisely call Siccagna. Nero relates mostly Sicily, that it is wild, but it is also fresh and elegant and it is red fruit flavoured. That it has something noble and aristocratic, but it is also melancholic as a poet or a philosopher. That it is passionate, full of warmth and contrasts. The Nero which is the grape of our fathers and unites Sicily from corner to corner and it better gathers the spirit for centuries. A wine which I deeply love and since the first year it has always been with me.”

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Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti SP68 Sicilia Rosso IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 pre-arrival special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 93 points “Dark ruby. Archetypal Frappato aromas that are pungently floral and bright, complicated by hints of dried herbs and spicy red berries. Then fresh, bright and lovely, with blackberry, raspberry and delicate herb flavors that are very complex and multilayered. Finishes long, mineral and juicy. Arianna Occhipinti has the Frappato variety nailed down and rarely makes anything but a great wine with it, so this blend comes up aces, offering a ton of flavor and only 12.5% alcohol.”

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Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti ‘Tami’ Frappato Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($19.95) $16 pre-arrival special

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti ‘Tami’ Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($19.95) $16 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!


Antoniolo:  The Towering Wines of Gattinara

The Piedmonte outside of Barolo and Barbaresco remains a bit of a paradox: lovers of big, collectible Nebbiolo will readily concede that there are some amazing wines made there, but then turn around and proceed never to buy any, despite the fact that the best wines are outstandingly cheap!  Well, hopefully that stops today (at least in a small little way).  We’re here to tell you that if you love Barolo and Barbaresco, you should be paying real (fiscal) attention to the wines made in Piedmonte outside of the big two.

The wines we’re focusing on today are from Gattinara (which is one of the two or three best known regions outside of Barolo/Barbaresco.  The big advantage this region has on its side right now is the changing climate.  In an older climate paradigm, you couldn’t always count on the northerly regions in the Piedmonte to get fully ripe every year, so often you had very light wines with very stern tannins.  Now? It’s like Gattinara and co. have hit the jackpot.

The wines of Gattinara tend to be more compact and more aromatic than Barolo (Volnay vs Nuits, in Burgundy, is a good comparison).  They age forever, it seems, but with a good decant you shouldn’t have any problem drinking the wines now (or at least from the lower tier).  The best part?  The prices.  We’re offering wines here that are between $30-60 and you’re probably saving 30-50% vs. a wine of comparable quality that has the Barolo tag (and the branding behind it). Sure you don’t get to brag about the Barolo you bought, but if you’re in it for the wines themselves, this is where you want to be.

Antoniolo remains the flagship producer of Gattinara, the winery by which others in the region are judged.  We’ve got a selection of the 2012’s coming in—a great Piedmonte vintage by any stretch and one where Antoniolo excelled.  These are some great wines that are going to make you, and whomever you share them with, very happy.

Arriving September 29th:

Antoniolo Gattinara DOCG, Piedmont 2012 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Antoniolo Vigneto Castelle, Gattinara DOCG 2012 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special

Antoniolo ‘Osso San Grato’, Gattinara DOCG 2012 750ML ($89.95) $79 pre-arrival special

Antoniolo San Francesco, Gattinara DOCG 2012 750ML ($79.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 91 points “This is a special wine with its own cult following. The 2012 Gattinara San Francesco stands apart for its apparent fruit intensity and the extra density and richness that it so generously offers to the palate. Dark cherry and blackberry drive a long and exuberant finish.”

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Terre Nerre: Red, White and Rosato

From Etna’s Slopes

The single vineyard wines from Terre Nere are wines that, for many, define the center line for what Etna wines should be like (like Rousseau in Gevery or Latour in Paulliac). While the high end wines are certainly special, their entry level bottlings are exceptional values.  They are wonderful wines that show immediately why the wines of Etna have become so beloved, so quickly.  These are wines that combine the grace of Burgundy with a wildness that is a bit hard to pin down, on both the red and white side.  The rosato, too, is exciting—serious enough that it will age and gain complexity over the next few years, but fresh and delicious so that you can drink it tonight with your swordfish.  An excellent trio of bottles, arriving soon.

Arriving Friday:

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Bianco Etna, Sicily 2016 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 90 points “Bright straw. Harmonious, lively aromas and flavors of white stone fruit and aromatic herbs. Bright and juicy, with a refreshing saline bite on the long smooth finish. Less concentrated than some past vintages of Etna Bianco from Terre Nere, but remarkably fresh and easy to drink. A lovely Etna Bianco that mercifully doesn’t taste of Chardonnay or other varieties that have no place on Etna. This is a steal for the price.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso Etna, Sicily 2015 750ML ($24.95) $19 pre-arrival special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 90 points “Bright red. The very fruity nose is complicated by notes of rhubarb and aromatic herbs. Then both ripe and mineral, with an underlying earthtone to its sweet luscious and ripe flavors of red fruit and wild herbs. Finishes long with noteworthy spicy bite.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2015 Etna Rosso is mostly Nerello Mascalese with some Nerello Mantellato. Old vines range from 40 to 140 years in age. This is the estate’s blended red. It does not see fruit selected from a single Contrada. Instead, this wine offers a panoramic expression with fruit from various sites, soil types and altitudes. The wine displays a moderate ruby hue and offers mild aromatic intensity. You get wild berry, ash and dried rose petal, but the delivery is subdued and understated. The mouthfeel is polished and tight.”

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosato Etna, Sicily 2016 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 93 points “Copper-tinged pale pink. Enticing nose and flavors of fresh red berries, botanical herbs, sweet spices, aromatic oils and woodsy spices. Sneaky concentration and size with wonderful sugar-acid balance and a welcome saline twist. Best rosato from Terre Nere in years. A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Mantellato.”

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Araujo, Forman and Ramey

Three Napa Legends’ Top Wines

Arriving Next Month

We don’t need a whole lot of excess verbiage with this one, so we’ll cut to the chase.  We have the top wines from three legendary estates in Napa arriving next month.  Araujo’s Eisele Estate Cabernet is one of the benchmarks for what’s possible—as good or better than as any wine made in Napa Valley, from a legendary vineyard. Ramey’s Pedregal Vineyard Cabernet comes from a vineyard they planted and have worked since 1990 and is the best Cabernet from a winemaker known for breathtakingly good Cab.  Finally, Ric Forman’s classy, under the radar gem, from a winemaker who’s had an impressive enough career to be a legend twice over.  Quantities on these wines are limited (we buy everything we can get our hands on), so act quickly if you’re interest.

Arriving in October:

Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 750ML ($549.95) $479 pre-arrival special
James Suckling 99 points “Intensely scented dried flowers on the nose in the rose to lilac spectrum. Raspberry and blackberry undertones. Rose perfumes. It’s full-bodied, yet everything’s in finesse. Superfine tannins coat your palate and give you incredible length, and it all last for minutes on the palate. Great resonance. Not the power of 2013 but intellect and persistence prevails here. A joy to taste now, but this will improve for decades ahead.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Forman Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95+ points “A weightless, translucent wine, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon exudes class. Vibrant and finely sculpted, the 2014 possesses striking nuance from start to finish. Scents of lavender, rose petal, mint and sweet spice notes give the 2014 its brightness and sense of energy. Today, the 2014 is a bit compact relative to how it showed from barrel. I expect the wine will put on a bit more weight during its aging. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2014 at least a few years. Even today, though, the 2014 is a very pretty and pure wine.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $124

Ramey Pedregal Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2013 750ML ($199.95) $159 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard has turned out beautifully. It is also much more accessible young than I expected, despite its considerable size. Bright red stone fruit and pomegranate notes are pushed forward. There is plenty of tannin, but it is nearly buried by the sheer intensity of the fruit. There is plenty of stuffing and potential here.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
The average price is $184



Chapoutier: Ermitage Le Pavillon

A Reference Hermitage

Arriving in October

Chapoutier is one of the hallmark producers of the Rhone.  Only Jaboulet can match them for history and breadth, though Chapoutier’s wines have been much better in the last 20+ years.  Founded in 1808, the winery has grown slowly and steadily ever since, with holdings in every major important vineyard in the Northern Rhone.

The wines are definitely powerful, the Chapoutier trademark, but with a depth and levity to them that makes them engaging and refreshing. These are wines that have a magnetic field around them—dense and complex.  They have all of the qualities one expects from Syrah and are frequently cited by winemakers as being the source of inspiration.  Their “Le Pavillon” bottling comes from the most privileged part of the Hermitage vineyard and is remarkable, year in and out.

In other words, a touchstone producer, a touchstone wine.

M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon, Rhone 2013 750ML ($249.95) $219 pre-arrival special
Case-6 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon, Rhone 2013 750ML ($1499.95) $1199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $199.83/bottle!)
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.”


Last Minute 100 Point Addition

Almaviva 2015 Prearrival Offer

Anticipated Arrival: February of 2018

This Franco-Chliean project continues to impress since its inception in 1998. The collaboration celebrates the elegance and winemaking skill of the Rothschilds and the Chilean thumbprint that only the most singular terroir could provide. This is a truly harmonious wine that will belong in your cellar for a very long time. We currently have the lowest price listed in the US on what will certainly be a benchmark wine among collectors for decades to come.

Vina Almaviva, Puente Alto, Chile 2015 750ML ($149.95) $119 prearrival special
100 POINTS JAMES SUCKLING “A glorious and complex nose of tobacco, blackberries and hints of stones and flowers. Hints of bitter chocolate. Full-bodied, very tight and compacted. Linear backbone gives this form and tension. It has the same character on the palate as well as cayenne and other spice. Loved the 2014 but this shows more fine-grained tannins. So balanced and harmonious. A blend of 69% cabernet sauvignon, 24% carmenere, 5% cabernet franc and 2% petit verdot. Needs four or five years in bottle but a joy to taste now.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Thank you for reading!