In Today’s Newsletter:
Port Perfection: 2003 Taylor Fladgate
New Week – New Arrivals
(Lucien Crochet, Cellared Remizieres & more!)
Great Grand Cru Riesling: Newly Reviewed Kruger-Rumpf
May Sale Highlight:
Newly Added – Il Poggione
Best Rioja in 2013? Muga, Of Course!
Muga Reserva: Wine of the Vintage Lands Friday
Staff Pick on Fenocchio: Superior Superiore
Perrier-Jouet / Chateau Quinault & Chateau de L’Ou
New Praises from Wine Spectator for Domaine Collotte
BBQ Best Bets
Altos Las Hormigas
On the Docket – ETA Friday
Our Top Picks & Greatest Hits from the May Clearance Sale
Featured New Arrival
Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, Portugal 2003 1.5L ($299.95) $249 special
Robert Parker – Hedonist’s Gazette 100 points “I noticed the Chinese love to have both a sweet wine and a vintage port at the end of a meal, which is pretty much over-kill for me. However, I was blown away by the 2003 Taylors vintage port. The Great Wall of China, Black Tie Dinner.”
New Week – New Arrivals
Winery note “Initial aromas of minerals, strawberries, peaches, lemon, and cacao. With time, further notes of peach, lemon blossom, salt and cacao. On the palate, a sense of savoriness and minerality is complemented with notes of cream and stone fruit which are presented in a vibrant, savory and silken display.”
Importer note “This rosé is cut from a more aristocratic ilk. You can almost imagine it being sipped leisurely by an elegant couple at a fancy hotel-restaurant in the Cote d’Azur with a bowl of local Bouillabaisse. The wine is typically a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Rolle (Vermentino). The wine was fermented in tank after a short maceration giving a lovely bright pink color and an enticing nose of little red berries with a touch of watermelon and lemon peel. The palate is full, with good acid balance and the presence to stand up to food. Less a quaffer, and more for the table (BYOB…Bring Your Own Bouillabaisse :).”
Provence Wine Council “Located in the Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire sub-appellation, the Domaine de Saint Ser occupies an exceptional landscape high on the Sainte Victoire mountain. The vineyard benefits from the area’s characteristic rocky argilo-calcareous soil and from a southern exposure, which favors the production of quality grapes. The domaine is in the process of converting to biodynamic agriculture to help preserve the environment and the soil, and to capture in the wines the optimum concentration of aromas from the terroir.”
Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rose, Loire 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special
Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rose, Loire 2017 1.5L ($79.95) $61.90 special
Importer note “Always among our most coveted rosés (and for very good reason), Gilles Crochet’s 2017 Sancerre Rosé (100% direct-press Pinot Noir) is wonderfully classic in character, with tangy strawberries and punchy chalk on the nose, and a soft, mellow, pale pink color in the glass. The fruit is very cool and pure this vintage, with great drive and persistence on the acid-driven yet scrumptious palate. While Sancerre overall experienced around 15% losses due to frost in 2017, Crochet was thankfully spared completely.”
Chateau la Mascaronne Cotes de Provence Quat’Saisons Rose, Provence 2017 3L ($119.95) $99 special
Chateau la Mascaronne Cotes de Provence Quat’Saisons Rose, Provence 2017 750ML ($24.95) $19 special
VinopolNote: Our most popular rose is back! La Mascaronne is the true Miraval. Yes Miraval, that delightful Provence Rose that tasted far above its price-point; until the winery was acquired by a certain Hollywood couple and the new management proceeded to stick the wine in a bulbous bottle and hike the price up and up. But we have a secret to share with you. The original owner of Miraval kept his best vineyard, and that is La Mascarrone.
These are the only listings in the USA for the magnum and double magnum!
Winery note “Aromas of lemon blossom, tangerine, salt, peach, crushed rock are complemented with undertones of fresh cream, lime and passion fruit. On the palate, notes of tangerine, and meyer lemon are wrapped up in a savory, bright, and chewy yet lithe frame. The finish carries on with an echo of minerals, cream, and citrus.”
Grapelive 92 points “This is a wine I’m always drawn to. It’s a brilliant and fresh white that delivers the varietal characteristics of a dusty dry Muscadet Sevre et Maine, but with its own unique added dimension. This 2016 vintage rises above expectations with heightened energy and mineral depth. Scott Frank is making some America’s best Loire Valley-inspired wines. He naturally crafts expressive wines of great definition and distinction using primarily organic grapes and with no additions or but tiny amounts of sulfur. These are fun and pure wines that are easy to love with a certain old world and rustic charm, but deliver serious details and are exceptional values… These 2016’s by Bow & Arrow have reached a new level of quality, easily exceeding the outstanding 2014 and 2015 wines. [The Johan Vineyard is] situated on the southern edge of the Van Duzer corridor, west of Salem. It gets cool sea breezes and wonderful exposure, set on marine sedimentary soils, which help give this wine its freshness, nervy verve and stony character. This striking white starts with crisp brightness with a touch of straw, oyster shell, citrus flowers leading to a light to medium bodied palate of brisk green apple, mixed citrus and steely morning melon fruits as well as chalky wet rock, a hint of citron/herb, mouth-watering saline and quinine tanginess. This wine gains a certain roundness with air. It possesses an intriguing impact. It’s somewhat Chablis-like in its form and performance. It highlights Oregon’s potential for alternative white wines with Melon really coming of age. The finish here leans on lemony tones, kiwi and a hint of lees along with a white peach element that adds a bit more complexity to this savvy and fine white. It is an alluring wine that will make a lot of people happy, in particular [when paired] with seafood and or goat cheeses. This is a crunchy, vibrant Melon that should be enjoyed young in its refreshingly brilliant and racy prime, even though its structure and acidity should allow graceful aging for at least 3 to 5 years. If you’ve not had Bow & Arrow, you should search out this Portland-based winery!”
The average price is $20
Importer note “It is well known that gifted winemaker Jacques Thienpont has a knack for sourcing unique and exceptional properties. His latest acquisition reaches beyond the ultra-premium micro-cuvees he is known for with Chateau Le Pin and Chateau L’If. Chateau Goubau (to be renamed Chateau l’Hetre with the 2016 vintage) matches exception quality with value, and naturally, a unique microclimate within the Cotes de Castillon appellation. At 100m on the Saint Philippe d’Aiguilhe plateau, the property is situated at the highest point in Bordeaux. Produced from 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, the clay and chalk subsoil is perfectly suited to the biodynamically-farmed vines. Here is an exclusive opportunity to explore M. Theinpont’s first vintage with the property, which is all but certain to go up in value in vintages to come… as demonstrated by Thienpont’s l’If, which has more than tripled in price since the first release in 2012.”
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 95 points [Reviewed Dec 2016 “A big, beautiful, concentrated effort that delivers on all accounts is the 2003 Hermitage Cuvee Emilie. Brought up all in new barrels, it has profound notes of blackcurrants, asphalt, bouquet garni and chocolate all soaring from the glass. These carry over to the palate and this blockbuster-styled beauty has a stacked mid-palate, as well as sweet, integrated tannin and full-bodied richness. Drink it anytime over the coming 20+ years.]”
Robert Parker 93+ points “The 2005 Hermitage Cuvee Emilie has also turned out better than I thought from cask. A wonderfully intense bouquet of licorice, graphite, blackberry liqueur, and stone is followed by a full-bodied wine with superb concentration, and chewy, deep flavors of espresso roast, smoke, licorice, and creme de cassis. With plenty of tannin, this wine looks set to enjoy 20 or more years of aging potential.”
Jeb Dunnuck – Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2006 Hermitage Cuvee Emilie is more classic in style than the flamboyant 2009 and offers lots of darker fruits, game, olive and underbrush characteristics. Medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and still youthful, with notable tannin and acidity, it opens up nicely with time in the glass and has another two decades of life. [Reviewed Dec 2016]”
The next best price is $73.65
James Suckling 95 points “Expressive nose of black fruit, cacao, coffee, medicinal herbs and earthy notes. Full-bodied with fine-grained, silky tannins. Rich and concentrated mid-palate here leads to a long, salty and cedar finish. A decadent yet refined wine. Drink now.”
Wine Advocate 92+ points “The 2012 Corimbo is pure Tempranillo from the Burgos part of Ribera del Duero (La Horra, Roa, Sotillo, Gumiel); it was fermented in stainless steel tanks, went through malo in French oak vats and matured in some 10-20% new oak barrels, mostly French but with some 20% American. After some 14 months, the wines are transferred from barriques to oak vats where they stay for a further six months. The color is bright ruby with a nose that shows red fruit and nicely integrated oak, with a spiciness that shows not only the usual vanilla and cinnamon, but also some more exotic aromas reminiscent of curry, plus plenty of wild flowers and Mediterranean herbs. 2012 was extremely dry, but there was around 20 liters of rain in each of the months of July, August and September, which clearly provided the much needed water to balance the grapes and provide fresher wines. This Corimbo clearly shows the profile of the growing season, and the wine is more floral and a little lighter with good freshness; it’s a more approachable wine. The oak is very nicely integrated and the wine is balanced, fresh and with medium body. A lighter, approachable style of Ribera del Duero.”
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 92 points “(aged for a year in new and used French and American oak) Deep ruby. A complex, highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, incense and vanilla, with a sexy floral overtone. Sweet, seamless and penetrating on the palate, offering intense blackberry and cherry-vanilla flavors that are given spine and sharpened by juicy acidity. Rich yet vibrant, with excellent closing thrust and harmonious tannins building slowly and lending structure.”
Great Grand Cru Riesling
Newly Reviewed by Grapelive
Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Spatlese, Münsterer Dautenpflänzer, Nahe Germany 2004 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Grapelive 93 points “Deep, golden and mature in character, the opulent and beautiful 2004 Münsterer Dautenpflänzer Spatlese from Kruger-Rumpf is in a wonderful window. It may just be the peak period for this vintage with layers of apricot, quince jelly, candied pineapple, marmalade notes and vinous textural charm along with nice salinity, mineral, rose led florals and light earthy and petrol fume notes in a classic Nahe Riesling. In recent years I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to re-visit some 2004’s and they have really blossomed, losing the year’s awkward form, going from an almost an ugly duckling into a swan in bottle with age. This is especially true in some late releases by Schlossgut Diel and this Weingut Kruger-Rumpf Münsterer Dautenpflänzer Spatlese, both of which can still be found if you look, a well worth it exercise. The VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) Münsterer Dautenpflänzer, a tiny parcel within Kapellenberg, is set on quartzite and loess-clay based soils, which in my humble opinion highlights fruit detail and brings out a yellow fruit profile along with crystal clear mineral intensity with this wine bringing out baked peach core on the palate with hints of honey, fig and liquid stone. Georg Rumpf is moving towards organic in most of the vines with his vineyards being farmed to sustainable practices with hand harvesting employed to ensure that only optimally ripe grapes are selected. There is intense attention to detail here. I was here at harvest in 2016 and saw the team in action as well as the vines, which are steep and well cared for. Rumpf goes for native (spontaneously with ambient yeast) on the cru trockens (dry) and fruity (off-dry and sweeter) Rieslings and he uses large old stuckfass (oak casks) with extended lees aging. This all adds to the wines purity, extract and concentrated depth. This such a steal, I highly recommend searching for a few bottles, drink now.”
Newly Added to Our May Sale
Case-6 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2012 750ML ($519.95) Was $336, Now $299 Clearance Price (that’s only $49.83/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 95+ points “Il Poggione is a Brunello superstar and a vintage like this reveals every reason why that affirmation is true. From the second the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino pours into the glass, you know you are in for something special. The wine is darkly saturated and rich in appearance. Absent are those slightly amber or browning hues you often get with Sangiovese in a hot vintage. Nor does the wine show flat or tired characteristics. Instead, the quality of fruit is vibrant and rich. This is a healthy, generous and exuberant Brunello with dark density and succulent fruit flavors that are followed by integrated spice and tobacco. The balance is impressive and one thing you get here is fresh acidity. This is not to be underestimated, because the acidity quota in the 2012 vintage across the appellation is not as high or evident as usual. This is one of the year’s best Brunellos.”
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 93+ points “Good full red. Medicinal red cherry, raspberry, sweet spices and mint on the fresh, precise nose. Bright and sweet, with a penetrating, austere quality to its flavors of red fruits, minerals and medicinal herbs. Harmonious acidity nicely frames the pure, long, youthfully tight finish. Lovely young Brunello that will repay cellaring.”
Best Rioja in 2013?
Ummm, of course it’s from Muga!
Bodegas Muga Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2013 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Bodegas Muga Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2013 750ML ($299.95) $219 pre-arrival special (that’s only $18.25/bottle!)
James Suckling 92 points “This is an excellent 2013 with such purity and finesse. Cherry, stone and light cedar aromas follow through to a full body, very fine tannins and a fresh and clean finish. Hints of cedar. It shows a focused energy. Drink now.”
The average price is $27
Giacomo Fenocchio is a Barolo producer who manages to stay just below universal acclaim—the wines are traditionally made, powerful and excellent values, but aside from his cru bottlings, which disappeared quickly, the wines remain too overlooked, at least on the west coast. I wanted to highlight his Barbera and his Barolo normale, both wines of great depth and power for their price. The Barbera is a much more serious wine than you might expect at the price—it comes from vines planted in the Barolo cru of Bussia and has the power and dynamism you’d expect of the cru. Rather than being a light, bright, pizza wine, it has the power and depth to age for several years and practically begs for an extended decant. The Barolo falls into the same category, as well—a powerful wine that will age into something spectacular. It’s a sleeper in the category and the price reflects it, but if you’re a fan of the entry level Brovia or Vietti bottlings, this is one to grab a half case of and drink over the next two decades.
Giacomo Fenocchio Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2015 750ML ($21.95) $18 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Importer note “The color is a deep ruby red with garnet reflections. It has a rather intense bouquet, with scents typical of the vine and a full bodied and dry flavor, with a distinct and pleasing acidity. It becomes mature with aging, acquiring a full and balanced flavor.”
Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2013 750ML ($41.95) $36 special, 21 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 93 points “Very refined and polished with gorgeous berry, spice and light leather character. Medium body, firm and silky tannins and a lightly chewy, tannin background. Hard not to drink now. Better in three years.”
The average price nationally is $42
Luminous Label Edition
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Cellar Selection.This is a full-bodied and ripe wine, showing some toastiness as well as concentrated apple and peach flavors. There is a crisp edge to this opulent and rich wine. It has a great future: it is drinkable now, but will continue well into the 2020s.” WE
The average price is $153
The next best price on the West Coast is $139.95
James Suckling 93 points “A soft and fruity wine, with orange peel and berries and plums. Full body, with super fine tannins and a fruity finish. Refined and very pretty. Structured in the end. Fresh. Succulent. A style away from the over extracted one a few years ago. Try after 2018.” JS
Wine Spectator 92 points “This is very distinctive, with live-wire acidity running through the core of damson plum, linzer torte and blackberry fruit that’s framed by a mouthwatering roasted apple wood note. The long and driven finish has a piercing iron edge and a smoldering tobacco note that adds to the dramatic profile. Best from 2015 through 2025.” WA
Case-12 Chateau de L’Ou ‘Secret de Schistes ‘ Rouge, IGP Cotes Catalanes 2015 750ML ($549.95) $419 special (that’s only $34.92/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Wine Advocate 96 points “Saturated black in color, the 2015 IGP Côtes Catalanes Secret de Schistes is reminiscent of Manfred Krankl’s SQN Syrahs with its deep, unctuous, layered profile. Cassis, chocolate, licorice, smoked herbs and ample minerality all emerge from this full-bodied, sexy beauty that just begs to be drunk. Possessing ripe tannin, a stacked mid-palate and a great finish, it will be better in a year or two and keep for a decade.”
One Tiny Island, Two Distinctive Styles
From the cool climate peak of Mount Etna to the warm Mediterranean vibe of the island, Sicily offers two distinctive styles of wine to entice and impress the most jaded of wine drinkers. We’re focusing today our two of our favorite estates producing wines from these two categories: Passopisciaro for its Burgundian balance and polish from the Nerello Mascalese grape and Gulfi for its stunning and serious representation of Nero d’Avola.
One constant on the island of Sicily is the looming shadow of Mt. Etna, the highest and most active volcano in Europe. Though Etna giveth, and Etna taketh away (abruptly). And yet, the appeal of revitalizing the vineyards – some half buried by recent lava flows – is too great to resist. Nerello Mascalese is so perfectly paired to its place that there is no place on earth that could even begin to replicate the results achieved here.
Despite the cool temperatures, often 20-30 degrees cooler than at the coast, the vines are healthy and active due to the sunlight that reflects off the seas below. Passopisciaro is balanced, polished and definitely a refined take on a grape that was viewed as quaint for its rusticity for decades. The Passorosso, a blend of the five contrada that Franchetti works with, is viewed as one of the best introductions available to the wines of Etna, with 2014 being hailed by Ian d’Agato of Vinous as the best vintages yet for this wine.
We had this wine available for a hot second last year—the score plus the price meant that the wine sold out before it arrived. We were lucky enough to secure a second tranche that arrives at the end of this month. Like before, we expect it to go quickly. If you’re among the many who emailed requesting more, jump on this now. We also finally have magnums available, which offer the same tremendous value in an even more celebratory package.
Passopisciaro In Stock Now:
Passopisciaro ‘Passorosso’ Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2014 750ML ($59.95) $39 special
Case-6 Passopisciaro ‘Passorosso’ Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2014 750ML ($299.95) $219 special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Passopisciaro ‘Passorosso’ Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2014 1.5L ($99.95) $79 special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 97 points “Bright red-ruby. The captivating nose combines strawberry, raspberry, minerals, violet and flint aromas. Creamy-sweet but amazingly light on its feet, offering palate-staining, perfumed flavors of soft red berries, ripe red cherry, vanilla, aromatic herbs and crushed rock. Rich, ripe and suave, but displays a penetrating, saline and energetic quality that gives this beauty a three-dimensional mouthfeel and a light-on-its-feet quality. Finishes with great length and wonderfully polished tannins. Absolute knockout wine: from a memorable vintage on Etna, this is most likely the best Passorosso ever (in earlier vintages, it used to be called simply Passopisciaro). Mainly Nerello Mascalese.”
“Since 1996, we have been making the wines we love at Gulfi. We never accepted irrigation, we always have considered the best practices of other organic and biodynamic environments. We went our own way like the best wine estates have done in different parts of the world. Of course we are influenced by the most delicate burgundy wines as well as by the greatest Rhone Valley wines, particularly Chateauneuf du Pape, but our wines have first of all a taste of their true origins, of their deep Sicilian roots.” – Vito Catania, owner of Azienda Gulfi
Gulfi first came to prominence as a champion of Nero d’Avola—the rich dark grape that they proved could be a transparent expression of terroir. The single vineyards Nero’s that Gulfi made changed perceptions of the grape and have helped lead to the current renaissance of Sicilian viticulture.
Gulfi’s Nero d’Avola is typically extracted and rich, with subtle nuances reflecting the vineyard locations spread around the southeastern corner of the island. Variations in altitude and proximity to the sea influence the delicate aromatics, as ripeness is certainly not the issue. Salinity and sea breeze influences are present and add nuance to the ripe, roasty, smoky characteristics. These are great wines for those looking to add a little spice box variety to a collection that might be a little too concentrated in the new world and we’re excited to offer them to you today.
Top Picks from Gulfi, including the 2010 Sanlore:
Gulfi Nerosanlore Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2010 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Gulfi Nerosanlore Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2010 1.5L ($119.95) $99 special, 3 magnums in stock now
Ian D’agata–Vinous 95 points “Fully saturated ruby. Pure, very deep aromas of black cherry, red plum, medicinal herbs and minerals. Rich, dense and suave, with complex flavors of saline red berries and dark plum complicated by repeating botanical herb and balsamic nuances. Finishes seamless an long. A wine of noteworthy purity, with an excellent balance of sweetness, acidity and tannins. This is Gulfi’s closest vineyard to the sea and almost always gives the estate’s most elegant, refined wine.”
Gulfi Nerosanlore Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2011 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 94 points “Fully saturated ruby-red. Super-ripe aromas of black cherry, raspberry jelly, incense and coriander are very typical of the Sanloré site. Then surprisingly light on its feet, offering vibrant flavors of red and black cherry, tar, licorice and pomegranate liqueur. The finish is bright and juicy and features a lingering saline nuance. Knockout Sanloré that manages to be at once powerful and graceful, the latter a quality not always evident in wines from this site, which are usually known for their richness and size.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “Deep ruby. Perfumed and juicy, offering sweet candied blueberry pie, sweet spices and faded flowers on the nose and in the mouth. Very smooth texture and clean, ripe flavors have pretty floral lift and vibrancy. A knockout NeroJbleo, one of the best in years, in fact.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2011 Neromàccarj is the wine that, in my opinion, best encompasses the overall winemaking philosophy at Gulfi. Like the other Nero d’Avola selections presented, this wine boasts a super enriched and concentrated style. On top of black fruit and cherry marmalade, the bouquet offers Teriyaki, barbecue smoke and asphalt-like aromas. Neromàccarj presents a more balanced and complete picture because its large bulk is spread evenly in proportioned elements. In other words, the opulence of the bouquet is perfectly matched to the large footprint left on the finish.”
Gulfi Reseca Rosso Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2008 750ML ($49.95) $33 special
Wine Spectator “The ripe black cherry puree mixes with soft raisin, cocoa powder and loamy earth accents in this juicy, medium-bodied red. Light grip and a hint of black licorice drop shows on the finish. Nerello Mascalese.”
The next best price is $40
Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti ‘Grotte Alte’, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG 2013 750ML ($89.95) $79 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Winery note “Grotte alte is a territory: the limestone ridges on which Vittoria, my hometown stands. But it is also a wine, my Cerasuolo Di Vittoria, the result of Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes, the summary of my Sicily. It is a mediterranean wine that preserves the taste of the sea and all the air and the Iblei Mountains thermal excursions. It is harmonious and it has experienced a long ageing. Perhaps it is the most ambitious of my wines. Elegant and proud.”
New Praises from Wine Spectator
“Collotte remains one of the most under the radar growers in Marsannay. At their best, these wines are striking for their purity of fruit and overall sense of harmony.” –Antonio Galloni
“The vineyards of Marsannay lie at the northern end of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits, almost in the suburbs of Dijon, in the villages of Chenôve, Marsannay-la-Côte and Couchey. The area gained its reputation early on for rosé, but today is producing some of the best values for Pinot Noir in the Côte de Nuits. There are no premiers crus, but some excellent single vineyards (lieux-dits)… Au Champ Salomon [and] Le Clos de Jeu… are among the best sites.” –Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator
We’ve carried the wines from Phillipe Collotte for a few years now and each release reminds us of both what a star he is and how good the wines from Marsannay and Fixin can be. These are stunning values from Burgundy, made from “humble” terroir, but old vines, and with a steadied hand. Additionally, the newly released 2015’s show why this is the exact sort of vintage to buy.
Capital “G” Great Vintages, like 2015, are wonderful times to go exploring the less famous villages of Burgundy. Historically, the vineyard (and village) classifications have been based on consistent ripeness and power, as well as complexity, so in a warm year the “lesser” sites often show much more dramatic improvement over their baseline quality than a “great” vineyard will.
We don’t mean to suggest that Phillippe Collotte is some hack winemaker who got lucky in 2015, either. He’s a serious talent with old vines and a very attentive touch in the cellar. These are wines that over deliver in every vintage. Just ask Bruce Sanderson of the Wine Spectator!
Wine Spectator 93 points “Linear and intense, featuring cherry, raspberry and mineral flavors defined by the taut structure. Balanced and long, with a spicy aftertaste. Best from 2021 through 2030. 100 cases imported.”
The next best price is $31.99
Wine Spectator 92 points “Round and supple, presenting the ideal foil for the rich cherry and floral aromas and flavors. Features hint of oak and tannins on the lingering finish. Drink now through 2027. 100 cases imported.”
The next best price is $32.99
Wine Spectator 91 points “Appealing aromas of burning vine cuttings and sweet spices give way to cherry and currant fruit in this smooth, smoke-tinged red. Long and satisfying, leaving a hint of mint on the finish. Drink now through 2025. 35 cases imported.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “A pure dose of cherry, strawberry, sweet spice and mineral marks this harmonious red. Firm and focused, with a lingering finish of spice. Shows plenty of class. Best from 2020 through 2030. 50 cases imported.”
Wine Spectator 91 points “Silky, this red evokes cherry, strawberry and graphite flavors, with bright acidity keeping this fresh and focused. Harmonious and long, offering a light chalky feel on the finish. Drink now through 2023. 150 cases imported.”
Wine Spectator 90 points “The core flavors of black cherry and blackberry are wrapped in oak, lending vanilla and sweet spice details along with a layer of tannins. Just needs a little more time. Best from 2020 through 2028. 110 cases imported.”
The next best price is over 25% more @ $20.99!!
Antonio Galloni-Vinous 92 points “The 2015 Chianti Classico is a new wine from Fèlsina’s Pagliarese property. For what seems like forever, Giuseppe Mazzocolin has been the ultimate champion of Sangiovese, long before it was fashionable. With Pagliarese, Mazzocolin and Fèlsina return to a super-classic Chianti Classico based on Sangiovese, of course, but with dollops of Canaiolo, Mammolo and Colorino aged in cask. The debut 2015 is fabulous. Bright, red-toned fruit and an array of floral/savory notes are nicely delineated, but the wine’s purity and extraordinary balance elevate it into the realm of the sublime. What a gorgeous wine this is! ”
Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2015 750ML ($37.95) Was $29, Now $26.60 Clearance Price
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “The 2015 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes offers the most finesse and elegance of the three cuvees, and is slightly less exotic, yet more refined and pretty. Offering lots of strawberry and framboise fruits, loads of cedary spice, full-bodied richness and building, polished tannin, this terrific wine shines for its purity and finesse. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91-93 points “Dark ruby. Aromas and flavors of ripe red and blue fruits pick up floral and peppery spice nuances as the wine opens up. Smooth and expansive on the palate, showing very good depth as well as energy and spicy back-end lift. The gently gripping, very persistent finish leaves behind hints of candied flowers and licorice.”
James Suckling 92 points “Very ripe, bright, black fruits and tar aromas pour from the glass. Big and juicy, but the tannins are stronger than the sweet stuff. Long, clean finish and a lot of potential.”Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly Cuvee des Fous, Beaujolais 2015 750ML ($41.95) $36 special
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The 2015 Brouilly Cuvée des Fous had been racked the day before my visit to the domaine and I tasted this directly from vat. It has an intense dark cherry, cassis and iodine-scented bouquet with gorgeous raspberry ripple scents lurking just underneath. The palate is very well balanced with fine, very lithe tannin. The acidity here is perfectly judged, as it sashays towards a composed and very pure and long finish. Wow – this is going to turn into one sensual and compelling Beaujolais.”
The average price is $39
Altos Las Hormigas
Malbec from the Sky
Case-6 Altos Las Hormigas Gualtallary Malbec, Tupungato 2014 750ML ($239.95) $189 special (that’s only $31.50/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 95 points “The other appellation Malbec comes from the hottest place (not in temperature, but in terms of market demand) in the Valle de Uco, where the grapes for the 2014 Malbec Appellation Gualtallary are grown. This is significantly cheaper than most wines of this quality. I was a little disappointed with the performance of this wine in 2013 and was looking forward to 2014. The soils here are rich in calcium carbonate, but in the shape of caliche (a kind of marl with plenty of chalky material, iron and clay), which provide for more tannic wines. The destemmed grapes fermented in small concrete vats with indigenous yeasts without the use of any pumps. The wine matured in used, untoasted 3,500-liter French oak foudres for a period of some 18 months. It feels fresher, perhaps a little herbal and definitely more ethereal than the Altamira. Yes, it’s more tannic, because the tannins are abundant, but they feel very fine-grained. This year I favor Gualtallary over Altamira. There is more complexity here. 9,333 bottles produced and filled after a light filtration in January 2016.”
Stephen Tanzer – Vinous 94 points “Bright medium ruby. Musky dark berries, molten chocolate, leather, meat and espresso on the nose, lifted by a touch of violet florality; this struck me as a bit like Syrah from the northern Rhône. Very suave, fine-grained, dry wine with insidious intensity and nuance–not to mention lift–to its dark fruit and mineral flavors. Classically dry in an Old World style, showing a sexy mocha reduction today and no excess weight. Finishes with horizontal, fine-grained tannins and outstanding length. This is not quite as tightly wound as the 2013 version last year, but no complaints here! Finishes with dusty tannins and chalky suggestions. Not thick or fleshy wine, just a superb Malbec of terroir. In fact, I wonder if I’m underrating it. This wonderfully concentrated, layered wine finishes extremely long, with fine-grained tannins.”
The average price is $38
Wine Advocate 93 points “There is quite a jump in price for the 2014 Malbec Reserve. Here the grapes are grown on chalky soils with round stones in Altamira, Gualtallary and a touch of Vista Flores (that they are not using anymore) that fermented with indigenous yeasts and without any acid correction. The wine was aged in untoasted 3,500-liter oak foudres for 16 months. There is also a jump in quality, a serious wine where the minerality and freshness rule. This wine will please more advanced drinkers, with its subtle minerality, its balance and tasty, almost salty finish. This is a sleek, fine and elegant representation of the limestone soils of the Valle de Uco. To me this wine should be the one called terroir, and the previous wine should be the ‘reserve’—this feels purer. But there you go. 80,760 bottles produced.”
Case-12 Domaine Jean Masson & Fils Savoie Apremont Vieilles Vignes Traditionelle 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $16.58/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Importer note “The VV bottling is the entry bottling, but the vines are over 60 years old, thus the VV designation. He does two bottlings and I always wait for the 2nd bottling so that the wine has more lees time. At the 2nd bottling the wine has spent 8-9 months on the lees. The wine has great texture and mouthfeel, closer to Muscadet than most Jacquere. On the palate you get citrus and herbs.”
VinopolNote: The Massons own some of the highest and oldest vines in the appellation, including some planted by Jean-Claude’s grandfather that are over 100 years old. At a whopping 450 meters above sea level, the family is always the last to harvest in the area. The resulting wines are fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel.
Case-12 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2015 750ML ($279.95) $199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2015 Loureiro (bottled January 19, 2016) is unoaked, dry and comes in at 11.5% alcohol. I’ve been talking a lot about the great 2015s and also about how well this estate has performed over the years. (Check out the reviews of library wines this issue.) If it seems that the fates are pointing in this direction–you bet. The category, perhaps, also deserves some reevaluation upwards, but right here, right now, this has to go down as one of the best moments for the “regular” Loureiro in this fine estate’s history. (Admittedly, as I see some older ones continue to age and notably improve with age, the competition is increasingly stiff. They’ve exceeded expectations.) In any event, this 2015 is astonishingly wonderful, gloriously fresh and alive. It is one of the more aromatic wines I’ve had from Ameal. It is fun to just smell in its youth, very floral and almost exotic. It is also remarkably powerful. If it seemed quite nice on the first day, then on the second day the big acidic core took over, a hint of herbs popped up and it became even more powerful. The fine tension on the finish allows the fruit to linger and grip the palate. The juicy finish can make you drool. Reasonable in body for the grape, which in some years is more on the ethereal side, it seems multilayered, transparent and bursting with controlled flavor. As good as it was on the first two days, it seemed like the essence of Loureiro on the third day. As much as I preferred the library versions this issue for drinking now, here is an example of how delicious and exciting they can be when young, too. In that regard, this is built to age and we might have to wait a few years to be sure how truly great it is. If you don’t know top-end Vinho Verde and Ameal, you may be shocked at that. This will become more complex and (I suspect) flesh out over the next few years. It is, if anything, a bit too aggressive just now. You get this amazing value only because owner Pedro Araújo labors in Vinho Verde, where the top wines are undervalued. Take advantage. This is something you can buy a case (or two) of and likely drink happily over the next 15+ years. It will be something different and wonderful every time you come back to it.”
Grapelive 95 points “Done as a special project for an anniversary of Chateau Pradeaux [and] being imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, this Bandol X is an amazing red from one of the regions great producers. It’s unique in it was raised in oak cask for a full 10 years, but it’s what shows up in the glass which is really special here. This Mourvedre based Bandol Rouge is still fresh and vibrant, a wondrous wine of class and length. The Château Pradeaux, founded in 1752, is situated on the outskirts of the town of Saint Cyr-sur-Mer that lies directly on the Mediterranean Ocean between Toulon and Marseilles. There is almost no other place on earth vines would rather be [and] the view of the sea must be heavenly. The estate has been in the hands of the Portalis family since before the French Revolution, with Cyrille Portalis is the current head of the family’s winery… While their lovely Chateaux Pradeaux Bandol Rosé is 50% Cinsault and 50% Mourvedre, the Rouge bottlings are between 95% and 100% old vine Mourvedre as this special X is. The winemaking is traditional with organic grapes, ferments with native yeasts in concrete tanks using whole cluster, and while the regular bottling gets 48 months in large cask, the X went a full ten years in the big French oak barrels. Grown on the regions southern exposures and slopes of clay and limestone soils, the Pradeaux X Bandol Rouge is a magical terroir driven wine that shows a remarkably youthful bright garnet/ruby hue in the glass with a heightened perfume and subtle earthy tone with a hint of animal and dark fruit coming through on the bouquet. The palate is seamless with layer after layer unfolding. This is just stunning stuff right up there with First Growth Bordeaux in substance and style. Its big tannins show a refined velvety class. There’s a lot to admire here. The mouth feel is excellent and rewarding with blackberry, black cherry, dusty plums and strawberry fruits, a touch of leather, well resolved stemmy elements, salted black licorice, dried violets, lavender, graphite, minty basil, cedar and lingering kirsch. This outrageously good and transparent Bandol Rouge is a thrilling wine that has retained vitality with lifting acidity. [It] remains true to its sense of place and history. It’s everything you’d expect and want, and, while this is a rarity, don’t miss their regular Bandol Rouge and especially the Pradeaux Bandol Rosé.”
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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.”
The next best price is 10% higher at $209
The average price is over 50% higher at $323!!
Wine Advocate 98 points “The 1973 Vina Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva is so sublime, so complete and natural that it may bring tears to the eyes. It has a complex bouquet of beeswax, lanolin, lemon curd and almond that is effortlessly combined. The palate is nigh-perfectly balanced with very good weight. It has a seamless waxy texture and a peacock’s tail of almond, creme brulee, marzipan and dried apricot. There is a beguiling sense of completeness here. Heaven in a glass, and one of the finest Tondonia Blancos I have encountered. Drink now-2020+”
The average price is $751
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The 2015 Gigondas Cuvee Louisiane comes from a site located just beside the domaine, which is a mix of clay and sandy soils. Aged all in foudre, it boasts terrific notes of framboise, spring flowers, black raspberries and orange blossom (which I normally find more in the Les Souteyrades release). This full-bodied, deep, layered 2015 has a big mid-palate, is impeccably balanced and shows the purity and finesse that’s common in the vintage.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “My pick of the cuvées in 2015 is the 2015 Gigondas La Louisiane, a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and the rest Cinsault and Syrah. From south-facing slopes of red clay and sand, this shows incredible detail in its aromas of garrigue and raspberries, then folds in richer notes of dark chocolate. This is full-bodied and velvety in feel, with just a hint of warmth on the finish. It should drink well for a decade, possibly longer.”
Wine Advocate 99 points “More up-front and open-knit, the 2004 Into the Dark (Grenache) checks in as a blend of 84% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah and 1% Viognier that comes mostly from Manfred’s 11 Confessions Vineyard, yet includes small portions from Alban (10%) and Alta Mesa (9%) Vineyard. Reminding me of Clos Saint-Jean’s Sanctus Sanctorum with its incredible bouquet of sweet kirsch, licorice, dried baking spices, graphite and ground pepper, this beauty flows onto the palate with impeccable purity, perfect integration of its fruit, tannin and acidity, and blockbuster length. As is common with this estate’s wine, it’s the purity paired with serious richness that sets it apart. While still youthful and benefiting from a healthy decadence, I think it’s drinking at point and would aim to drink bottles over the coming 4-5 years. It will evolve gracefully for longer, but I see no reason to hold off.”
The next best price is $1725
David Schildknecht–Vinous 92 points “This blend from numerous sites (not rendered in vintage 2014 due to paucity of fruit) brims with luscious, juicy white peach and grapefruit, and its combination of citricity, green herbal pungency and stony underpinnings puts me as much in mind of Riesling as of Grüner Veltliner. Silken and enveloping on the palate, it retains its sense of energy and brightness through an invigoratingly peach-kernel-inflected, tinglingly stone-infused and mouthwateringly salt-tinged finish. Despite harboring 13.5 percent alcohol, the wine also conveys a subtle and attractive sense of lift.”
The next best price is $34.99