2014 Rostaing Ampodium
A Excellent Deal Gets Better
No, 2014 was a very good year in Cote Rotie, qualitatively, but yields were way down—60% off of normal in the case of Rostaing. As a result, he made only one Cote Rotie, declassifying the Landonne and Cote Brune into the Ampodium bottling (which used to be known as “Classique” if you’ve been following the wines for a while). Stylistically, the vintage compares to 2006—a year that was overshadowed by the “legendary” 2005 and is absolutely stunning today.
If you aren’t familiar with Rene Rostaing, he’s one of the landmark producers in Cote Rotie, in the Northern Rhone. He’s one of the winemakers who serves as a reference point for traditionally made wines in the AOC (the Jamet brothers being the other standard bearer). The Cote Blonde and La Landonne are the top (single vineyard) wines, with the Ampodium representing a blend of a number of different parcels and offering earlier drinkability.
Rostaing tends to use a mix of barriques and larger barrels, with a very small percentage of new oak compared to more modern-styled producers like Guigal. These are wines for classicists and the 2014 Ampodium is a wine to stock up on, especially at this price.
Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote-Rotie Cuvee Classique Ampodium, Rhone 2014 750ML ($89.95) Was $79, Now $69 special
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 93 points “Bright violet. Heady, smoke-tinged blueberry, cherry and violet aromas pick up a hint of olive as the wine opens up. Sweet and energetic on the palate, offering concentrated dark berry and floral pastille flavors complemented by a suggestion of spicecake. The impressively long, blue-fruit-dominated finish delivers strong minerally cut and fine-grained tannins that sneak in late and add shape.”
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 92-94 points “Youthful violet. Vibrant, spice- and mineral-laced black and blue fruit scents show excellent focus and pick up suggestions of cola and violet with air. Sappy, concentrated and pure, offering juicy blueberry and boysenberry flavors firmed by a spine of tangy acidity. Blends power and vivacity with a deft hand and finishes very long and minerally, with supple tannins building steadily and in harmony with the wine’s fruit. All of the fruit from Rostaing’s Côte Blonde and La Landonne holdings are in this bottling this vintage.”
Quality Batard-Montrachet Under $150?
Jouard at the Best Price in the Country
Domaine Vincent & Francois Jouard Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune 2013 750ML ($219.95) $128 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 92 points “From Jouard’s 0.12-hectares parcel of vine that this year yielded 2½ barrels, the 2013 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru has an attractive bouquet of fresh lime, lemon zest, orange blossom and light granitic scents. The palate is well balanced with a keen line of acidity, the oak just a little conspicuous at this early stage, although that will be assimilated with time. This has a satisfying weight in the mouth, even if it does not quite possess the complexity or race of some of its peers. This stands alongside the excellent 2012.”
The next best price is $185
That’s $57 per bottle more expensive!
Vintage Napa At Peak Form
The “Peak Series” of wines in California are Mr. Terlato’s way of paying tribute to the Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux. “Angel’s Peak” is the first in the series, geared towards the wine stylings of Pomerol, where Merlot takes center stage. 2009 was an excellent vintage in Napa and this wine is in the peak of its drinking window. We scored an incredible deal on this wine—the Angel’s Peak “lists” for $70+ and represents the peak of Terlato’s Napa wines (we couldn’t help it, sorry). It can be easy to forget that Merlot is/was a noble grape, capable of profound wines, and this is a gentle reminder that it’s worth paying attention to in Napa.
Terlato Family Vineyards Angel’s Peak, Napa Valley 2009 750ML ($69.95) $28 special, 36+ bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points “Soft and fleshy on entry, showcasing fine depth, focus, purity and a range of flavors, with crushed rock, red berry, spice and mineral notes that turn elegant and silky on the finish. Drink now through 2022.”
The next best price is $52.50
The average price is $54
Enter Thierry Triolet’s Champagnes. The grapes are grown in the Cote de Sezanne region of Champagne. The clayey soils and warmer weather help produce grapes that are sought out by the Grande Maisons for their vibrant fruity aromas. In the hands of Thierry and his wife, Frederique, the wines offer the depth and complexity you’d expect from a Grower-Producer who also sells to Krug & BIllecart Salmon.
These are my definition of crowd-pleasing Champagnes: fun, friendly, balanced and highly drinkable. The acidity is never overbearing nor do these need years in your cellar to show well. And I adore the herbal nuances that surround the aromas of fresh picked apples, citrus and flowers.
Arriving Friday, December 8th:
Thierry Triolet Carte Noire Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($31.95) $28 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Thierry Triolet Carte Noire Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($179.95) $149 pre-arrival special (that’s only $24.83/bottle!)
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90 points “(90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir; 10 g/l dosage): Light yellow. Vibrant, mineral-accented aromas of fresh citrus and orchard fruits, with suave floral and candied ginger notes adding complexity. Fleshy and broad on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering juicy green apple and orange zest flavors and a touch of white pepper. Closes silky and smoky, with good clarity and length.”
The average price is $38
Case-6 Thierry Triolet Cuvee Grande Reserve Blanc de Blancs, Champagne NV 750ML ($219.95) $179 pre-arrival special (that’s only $29.83/bottle!)
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “Pale gold. Intense citrus and orchard fruit aromas are complicated by notes of honeysuckle, tarragon and iodine. Chewy tangerine and pear skin flavors become silkier and spicier with aeration. Shows a seductive floral quality on the clinging finish, which features a dusty mineral nuance and a touch of buttered toast.”
The average price is $38
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 90 points ” Light orange-pink. Ripe, spice-accented cherry and tangerine on the fragrant, vinous nose. Fleshy and broad in the mouth, offering pliant red berry and orchard fruit flavors and a hint of candied rose. Seems like there’s a lot more pinot in this blend. Closes chewy and firm, with building spiciness and a hint of bitter orange pith.”
The average price is $45
Jose Michel & Fils Brut, Champagne 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Jose Michel & Fils Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($219.95) $179 pre-arrival special (that’s only $29.83/bottle!)
Jose Michel & Fils Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($21.95) $18 pre-arrival special
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 91 points “(70% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay; 9 g/l dosage): Light yellow-gold. Fresh tangerine, pear and sweet butter on the fragrant nose. Smooth and weighty in the mouth, offering pliant orchard fruit and melon flavors and a bracing kick of bitter citrus zest. A minerally element adds lift and cut to the penetrating finish, which leaves a suave floral note behind.”
Isole e Olena’s Powerful Cepparello
Isole e Olena was created in the 1950s when the De Marchi family purchased and joined together two hilltop estates “Isole” and “Olena” in the Chianti region. The original Isole portion of the estate was founded in the 1700s as a farm growing a range of goods including grapes and olives. The 50 hectares of top-quality vineyards are on hillsides in Chianti, about 450 meters above sea level.
Paolo de Marchi took over the estate in 1976 and has been the driving force ever since. The estate manages to do what is usually impossible: balance the use of French grapes in the estate to make wines that are still classically Tuscan and also produce varietal wines of non-Tuscan grapes of the highest class.
Cepparello, a wine made from 100% Sangiovese, has long been the estate’s calling card, but everything from the basic Chianti to the Gran Seleczione is among the best in its class. The Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are also worth paying attention to if you like Bordeaux or wines of California. In short, it’s hard to find a winery, anywhere in the world, that does as many things well as Isole e Olena and we’re excited to showcase the wines for you today.
Arriving Friday, December 8th:
Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2014 750ML ($79.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2014 750ML ($479.95) $389 pre-arrival special (that’s only $64.83/bottle!) – This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2014 1.5L ($179.95) $149 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 95-97 points “Isole e Olena’s 2014 Cepparello is mind-blowingly beautiful. The product of a long, cool growing season with perfect weather at the end of the fall. Dark, savory and intensely mineral, the 2014 possesses remarkable depth and intensity. In 2014, the grapes reached full maturity at lower sugars than is the norm today. I tasted the 2014 from an assortment of barrels. If the finished wine is like the wine I tasted from barrel, the 2014 Cepparello will be one of the big surprises of the vintage. I love the mid-palate depth here.”
I admit to being a new transplant to Oregon. Having recently left the Napa-dominated California I’m just now taking in the Oregon wine scene in all of its depth. Cameron is fast becoming one of my favorite wineries here. I love their dedication to a Burgundian approach to Pinot Noir, to the long view in terms of the age ability of the wines as well as to their un-irrigated vines. And while they’re at it, why not make wine from the classic Piedmont varietal, Nebbiolo. This wine does not disappoint: rich nose, great structure with tart acids, dusty tannins all balanced with just enough fruit and hints of cranberry. This should pare great with braises or a classic tagine. At our $39 price tag this wine is a steal! Get it while you can!
Cameron Winery Nebbiolo, Dundee Hills 2013 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 18 bottles in stock now
Winery note “Our 2013 Nebbiolo is denominated “Willamette Valley” because the wine is a blend of fruit from Clos Electrique (Dundee Hills AVA) and Foster Farms (Ribbon Ridge AVA). It is garnet red, with a complex bouquet of tart cherries, rosehips, tobacco and dried orange peel. The palate has bright acidity, a long finish and firm “sand on the teeth” tannins that typify the Nebbiolo grape. Just like the “real deal” from Northern Piedmont!”
Case-12 Bodegas Nanclares Dandelion Albarino, Rias Baixas 2016 750ML ($299.95) $235 special (that’s only $19.58/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!), 1 case in stock now
92 points Grapelive “Beautiful pure and almost Kabinett/Feinherb Riesling like (intensity of form) with generous flavors in the mouth this gloriously delightful Albarino from Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto is vivid, saline and textured with bright green apple, tangerine and peachy stone fruit on the crisp palate, with wet stones and light spices, it’s so well balanced you’d think it might be slightly off dry, but with brisk energy giving it a cat like taught muscle like focus! The unpretentious and humble Nanclares is one of Albarino’s great stars from the Cambados area of the Rias Baixas region in the Atlantic influenced Galica, his wines all from organic grapes show a leesy depth, while still being mineral driven and salty, with this Dandelion cuvee coming from 30 to 60 year old vines near Val do Salnés grown on sand and granite soils, right at sea level with locally historic pergola training. The Dandelion is fermented with native yeast, naturally, in stainless steel with no malo and aged a year on the fine lees, it is unfined and unfiltered allowing the complete capture of every nuance and terroir elements, and this 2016 is the best yet, that I’ve tried on this wine, it’s detail and varietal vitality is fantastic, especially for the price. This wine will be killer with crab this holiday season and is an amazing sea food cuisine partner, from oysters to grilled baby octopus as well as mackerel and sardines, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! Drink it now and often, not easy to find, Silvia and Alberto have a cult following, I got my bottles from Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland, Oregon, and it’s well worth the search as is their estate bottlings as well as is their super rare Mencia (Ribeiro Sacra) offerings, imported by Jose Pastor Selections, these are not to be missed wines from Galicia.”
Grapelive 93 points “An earthy pure Syrah from Vincent Paris, the 30 stands for the degree of slope, giving lots of terroir, but with the ripe flavors of the vintage with a rich vein of black fruit and lovely detailing throughout making for a fine example of varietal and region. Hints of game, anise and spicy notes lead on the nose while the palate unfolds with damson plum, blackberry/boysenberry, tart currant, blueberry and cherry backed up with wild mushroom, flinty stones, tapenade, cedar, leather and sweet kirsch. Air brings a more dense feel in mouth and though young the tannins are rounded allowing a textural pleasure and generous length, this Syrah has good form and is performing really well. ….This cuvee is fermented two thirds in barrel and one third in stainless steel then raised in most used French oak for about a year, with only about 1,000 cases made….With the price of Cornas rising, Vincent Paris is making some great values, and I believe very cellar worthy, drink is lovely 2015 over the next decade.”
Ampeleia Alicante Costa Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($34.95) $27 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Grapelive 91 points “Wildly sweet and sour this Alicante Nero (true Grenache or Alicante Bouschet?) from Elisabetta Foradori tastes like Cru Beaujolais meets Jura Trousseau/Poulsard. [It has] fresh and vibrant flavors and a light to medium body picking up substance and ripe character with air, while still having a charming old world earthy/savory core. This is part of Ampeleia’s ‘Monovarietali’ single varietal project. [It comes] from a small plot of organic estate vines known as “Vigna della Pieve”, grown on Tuscany’s coastal sandy soils and strewn with pebbles at about 800 feet above sea level. [The wine] sees native ferments and [is] aged only 6 months in cement tank. This pretty Mediterranean red has bright flavors and is wonderful fresh and vibrant with layers of medium bodied fruit and ripe textural mouth feel shows sour plum, cranberry, brambly raspberry, mini backyard strawberries, minty herbs, a hint of leather, dusty stones and snappy anise. Turns a bit more lush with air and gives a warm impression, gaining in style and complexity with every minute in the glass, while all the while still being vivid, transparent and elegantly focused. This is lovely expressive wine that highlights the diversity and uniqueness of this sleepy little part of Tuscany. Interesting, the winery (and many places in Italy) often refer to Alicante as a form of Grenache, though it really is not the same grape. Alicante Bouschet was an old crossing of Petit Bouschet, which was [an] earlier crossing of Teinturier du Cher and Aramon, and Grenache Noir which has been cultivated in France since around 1866 and is now found around the world, though used mainly as a blending grape or found in heritage field blends. Alicante Bouschet is one of the few red grapes that actually has red juice and pulp. It has a thick skin and does well in almost any climate. It’s in Spain, in the western Galicia where it’s known as Garnacha Tintorara and blended with Mencia; it’s also in Alentejo Portugal as well as in old vine vineyards in California, where it is usually blended into Zinfandel blends, like Ridge Lytton Springs and I believe Bedrock and Bucklin’s Old Hill Ranch. In some ways Alicante reminds me of Cinsault or Trousseau, though usually darker in color, but this one has a Gamay like juiciness and a bit of tannin and floral notes that are like Petit Verdot too. Drink this lively fun wine now and often, it’s naturally delicious and is a great food wine.”
VinopolNote: Elisabetta Foradori, the legendary producer from the Dolomiti region, has brought her practice of all-natural and biodynamic style to the Tuscan Coast for a project named Ampeleia along with Thomas Widmann and Giovanni Podini. The focus is on Rhone varietals that flourish in the warm sunshine: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Alicante Bouschet and Marsellan. This wine is grown in sandy soils, topped by small pebbles, at a high elevation. The cool, dry nights help the grapes maintain their fresh acidity while allowing for the long and slow development of Grenache’s juicy flavors. The result is an opulent but supremely drinkable red.
Arriving December 15th
Substance (K Vintners) Powerline Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2014 750ML ($51.95) $44 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 94-96 points “Like with the Syrah, the new 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Powerline is a new cuvee based around a vineyard in the southern part of Walla Walla. Harvested from tiny yields and aged in mostly neutral barrels, this full-bodied, luxuriously textured, seamless beauty gives up lots of classic Cabernet notes of creme de cassis, licorice, toasted spice and graphite. There’s an undeniably sexy style here, and while it will certainly be approachable on release, my money’s on it evolving gracefully for 15-20 years. [Going forward, the K Vintners label will be for the Rhone inspired blends, and all Bordeaux blends will be moved to the Wines of Substance label.]”
Still at the Top of the Game
The Swan wines aren’t trendy and never have been—they epitomize the idea of classicism and have been made in the same style no matter whether the winds of fashion favored the huge and ripe or the light and lean. The one constant for Swan has been the idea that the vineyard speaks for itself. Over the course of many decades, they’ve collected an incredible set of vineyards to work from, especially in Zinfandel, where Rod Berglund does some of his best work.
The Joseph Swan Zinfandels are many things, but easy to pin down and describe they aren’t. Depending on the growing conditions and the vineyard, they can be lighter, spicier wines or bigger, powerful and fruit driven. They’re never marked by new oak, though, so they always seem to be flexible and comfortable at the table. If you can’t wait until the 2012’s come in, we also have a few older vintages left in stock (with notes at the end).
Joseph Swan Vineyards Bastoni Vineyards Zinfandel, Sonoma County 2012 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 22 bottles in stock now
“Located in what I refer to as the Riebli Valley, just a few miles east of Hwy 101, this sight has been farmed by the Bastoni family since 1906. Martha Bastoni and her husband, Russ Messanna currently farm it. Although the old vines are gone, the replants are going strong and are meticulously cared for: Deep ruby color. Although we have only been making wine from this vineyard for three years, it exhibits what I have come to view as a classic Bastoni nose of deep blue tinged fruit, like a cross between boysenberries and blueberries. There is also a slight hint of cooking spice, perhaps cardamom, and much less pepper than we see in the lower Russian River Valley zins. Good but not overwhelming tannin and acidity and medium to full body.”–Winery Notes
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2012 Zinfandel Mancini Ranch has a medium garnet color and nose of raspberry preserves, cherry pie and baking spices, plus a waft of anise. Light to medium-bodied, soft, fresh and spicy on the palate, it has lovely poise and expression.”
“Blackberry, white pepper floral hints, bit of lushness. Complex balanced, elegant. A classic old style zinfandel made with new age sensibilities. And, it is under 13% alcohol!”–Winery Notes
Joseph Swan Vineyards Ziegler Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley 2011 750ML ($31.95) $28 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Winery note “Tasting notes: Medium deep garnet color. Aromas of dark berry compote with hints of fig, baking spices and black pepper. In the mouth the aromas are echoed but with a bit more brightness due to its excellent acidity. Still fairly tannic. Decanting and/ or opening a couple of hours ahead of drinking is highly recommended for this young pup!”
“Boysenberry and the usual black pepper aromas are there but there is also cardamom, a bit of allspice and dried rose petal. It is super complex. At only 13% alcohol, almost as low as Mancini, it is not lacking at all for body. Our favorite Zeigler in a long while.”–Winery Notes
Thank you for reading!