Vinopolis Newsletter – Monday 1/8/2024

 In This Newsletter:

Patrice Colin, Giacomo Conterno, Andre Clouet, Donhoff, and more!
Wine of the week
Andre Clouet Chalky
Featured Winery
Bott-Geyl, Alsace
Close-Out Sales
6 Italian stunners for under 80 dollars
Collector’s Corner
More Spanish Treasures than a sunken galleon
Arriving Tomorrow

Patrice Colin Coteaux du Vendomois Gris Bodin Rose, Loire, France 2022 750ml $16 pre-arrival special
VinopolNote “Domaine Patrice Colin sits on a plateau in the northernmost part of the Loire Valley in the Coteaux du Vendômois. The domaine is a historic pioneer for organic viticulture in this region and is now in conversion to biodynamics. This area has some serious terroir for a region on the margins with silex heavy soils (flint) over limestone. The other true treasure of this area in general, and more specifically of this domaine, is the deep historical roots of the idiosyncratic and intoxicatingly delicious Pineau d’Aunis variety. Domaine Patrice Colin has some of the oldest vines of Pineau d’Aunis!
The Gris Bodin is made of grapes from old vines, some up to 95 years of age. It is fermented with native yeast and aged for 5 months in barrel i.e. the polar opposite of many frivolous summer rosés. The wine has the signature wild strawberry and raspberry, red peppercorn and dried flower aromas of the grape. It has a nice concentration and some weight and spice. Perfect for winter!”
Best Price in the USA
New Arrivals

Giacomo Conterno Cerretta Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2021 750ml $84.50 special, 3 bottles available
Vinous 94 Points “The 2021 Barbera d’Alba Vigna Cerretta is bright, focused and nervy. Blood orange, red cherry fruit, spice and mint all race across the palate. There’s tremendous energy and tension running through the 2021. Vibrant saline notes round out the finish.”
Giacomo Conterno Vigna Francia Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2021 750ml $74.50 special, 3 bottles available
Giacomo Conterno Vigna Francia Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2021 1.5L $169 special, 1 magnum available
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 Points “The 2021 Barbera Cascina Francia was tasted from barrel and pours a rich youthful ruby/purple color. Mineral-tinged with graphite, black raspberry, and violets, it is medium-bodied on the palate, with refined tannic structure, great freshness, and a red plum and more violet perfume. Gorgeous and pure, warmth and freshness at the same time, this is as good as it gets for Barbera. Drink 2024-2040.”
Giacomo Conterno Arione, Barolo DOCG 2018 750ml $235 special, 8 bottles available
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94-96 Points “Tasted from barrel, the 2018 Barolo Arione still has another year in botte and time in bottle before its commercial release. However, the wine shows a distinct personality that is immediately gentle and open-knit despite its very young age. With fruit from Serralunga d’Alba, there is ethereal softness here, but this characterization is relative considering the ample power and depth always associated with this site. It feels like this 2018 vintage is still warming up and is slowly putting on volume and weight. Its metamorphosis is far from complete. However, what you can read into the wine now is the quality of its fruit and its classic Nebbiolo aromas of wild berry, pressed violet, rust and blood orange.”
Antonio Galloni-Vinous 95 Points “The 2018 Barolo Arione is an imposing wine. It’s presence alone is impossible to miss. Arione is a wine that demands attention. There is something wild and exotic – almost animalistic – about the Arione and the way it asserts itself. Time in the glass brings out scents of sage, menthol, white pepper and orange peel. A generous kick of Serralunga acidity and tannin punctuates the finish. It’s still early days for Roberto Conterno’s Barolo from Arione. I can’t wait to see how this ages.”

This pours a delicate straw color. The nose has floral aromas of peonies, geraniums, jasmine and mint. There’s a touch of vanilla fragrance like vanilla bean ice cream. On the palate, this is densely flavored with notes of pear tart, Chantilly cream, oyster shells, and white tea. There’s a briskness note here like freshly ground coffee. Overall, this gives an impression of a dry GG Riesling or Chablis. The finish has notes of cultured butter and Maldon sea salt. It’s long and lingering. An incredible value.
Decugnano dei Barbi ‘Mare Antico’ Orvieto Classico Superiore, Umbria 2021 750ml $21.90, 36+ bottles available
Winery Note “Mare Antico is the wine that best represents Decugnano dei Barbi. The name itself refers to that ancient sea on which our vineyards grow today. The grapes come from our oldest vineyards, whose roots lie in sandy and shell-rich soils to capture the soul of the place and transform it into a delicious drop of wine.”
Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany 2019 750ml $34.50 special, 31 bottles available
James Suckling 94 Points ” This has a perfumed nose of wild cherries, strawberries, sandalwood, peppercorns, cloves, rosemary and truffles. Elegant and refined, with firm, fine tannins. Long and deliciously wild, with savory spice notes.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 Points ” Aromatically more intense, the 2019 Chianti Classico Riserva Berardenga is concentrated with candied raspberry, licorice, and menthol. This is true to the palate as well, with a core of cherry fruit, blood orange, and a lasting floral finish. It has a ripe and sunny feel, fine tannin structure, and a cleansing freshness of acidity. Although it is open and generous in its showing now, this will be worth holding onto for the next 8-10 years.”
Decanter 92 Points “At the southeastern limit of Chianti Classico, Fèlsina’s expansive vineyards look towards Montalcino. The annata is assembled from various parcels rising from 320 to 420 metres on rocky calcareous soil with layers of sandstone. As usual, it is more earthy than fruity, bringing in evocative accents of violet, liquorice and pepper. The palate is superbly textured with fine, grainy tannins providing a sensuous grip. Dark fruited and tangy with admirable depth, it will drink well now and over the next decade. Finishes with a sprinkle of cinnamon.”
Kellerei Kurtatsch Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige 2022 750ml $16 special, 36+ bottles available
Winery Notes “The large temperature differences between day and night in these vineyards is the magic that lends the wine its distinctive aroma of white peaches, fresh flowers and citrus fruits. In the mouth, the wine is juicy and round. The creamy texture is complemented by fresh, animating acidity. This is mainly thanks to the higher-elevation Pinot grigio vines. An expressive wine with a mineral, salty finish.”
GD Vajra Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Piedmont 2022 750ml $16 special, 36 bottles available
Winery Note This is a classic Moscato from the village of Asti in Piedmont. Made in the frizzante way with a slight fizz, lower alcohol, and natural sweetness with a floral backbone running through it. As Guiseppe Vajra has said, “this Moscato D’Asti is the Redbull of Piedmont.”
Also Recently Arrived from GD Vajra:
GD Vajra Coste & Fossati Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2022 750ml $21.50 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 Points “This wine is all about fun and good cheer. “Every day that you drink Dolcetto is a good day,” says Isidoro Vaira. The organic 2022 Dolcetto d’Alba Coste & Fossati reveals rich, dark fruit with a pronounced sweet side. There is soft cherry, blackberry and crème de cassis. The wine is quite plump and juicy in character, setting it up for pairing with wood-oven pizza.”
GD Vajra Langhe Rosso, Piedmont 2022 750ml $15.90 special, 11 bottles available
Vinopolnote “Vajra’s field blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto has been described by the family as “a hug from Piedmont.” The nose features cherry fruit with warm floral undertones and bright red fruit on the palette followed by earthy notes and dusty tannins. This is about as perfect of an Italian table red that can be found at this price point.”

Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, Nahe 2022 375ml $66 special, 5 bottles available
Stuart Pigott (Suckling) 97 Points “What a nose of floral honey and dried flowers this fabulous Auslese has. In spite of the abundant richness what makes this stand out is the invigorating mineral freshness. And the further back the wine rolls over your palate the more amazing it becomes. Enormous aging potential. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold.”
A.J. Adam Goldtropfen Grosses Gewachs 2022 750ml $85 special, 8 bottles available
Skurnik Wines Importer Note “Goldtröpfchen lies like a huge amphitheater in the outer loop of the Mosel, which flows around here Piesport. In its orientation, it stretches from southeast to south to southwest. The sunshine duration in the vineyards is long, east and west slope protect the opposite side from wind. With a slope of 30 to 70 percent, their vineyards are sometimes extremely steep. The easily warmed soil is comprised of deep, very weathered, dark Devon slate that contains quartz and minerals. In some places there is a high share of fine earth. The site generally has good available water capacity. The name “Goldtröpfchen” means “gold droplet” and varies theories about its origin exist. It could possible come from the Celtic word for hill or mountain, “col”. Another hypothesis points to the glittery soil or golden drops of liquid that form on the ripe or botrytized grapes as a name source. Then again, even the value of the wine can be compared to gold.”

Wine of the Week
“No matter what I do, chalky soil is stuck to the soles of my shoes.
Its been a part of me since I was a child!”
Jean-François Clouet
As a lover of minerality in wines, this is a true stunner. Salthy, rocky, with fresh acid. According to the winery, “Chalk is the fundamental element of the Champagne terroir ! The history of chalk goes back to the Jurassic era, 200 million years ago when the whole region was covered by the sea. Although poor in nutrients, chalk stores both warmth and water, releasing them regularly, providing the perfect foundation for Champagne vines. Draining off the excess, retaining water enriched by microscopic marine fossils, Chalk nourishes the vine with maternal affection, with minerality and an inimitable salinity! Lastly, chalk is the protector of champagne as it ages, allowing itself to be dug into deep underground cellars, where the precious nectar can safely mature, tucked away from the light and fluctuations in temperature.” They’ve certainly done their homework. Two thumbs up!

Andre Clouet Chalky Brut, Champagne, France NV 750ml $54.50 special, 25 bottles available
James Suckling 93 Points “[Reviewed 2021] Brimming with fresh apple, lemon and wild-berry aromas underlined by a note of freshly baked baguette, this begins so charming, then it turns in a fascinating mineral direction with a pronounced saline quality. The excitement comes from the tension between these two sides of this very distinctive champagne. Very long, chalky finish. 100% chardonnay from the 2013 vintage. Drink now.”
Featured Winery

Domaine Bott-Geyl

Jean-Christophe, the current proprietor of this 300+ year-old domaine has taken the winery back to its traditions in order to preserve its future. With 15 hectares of biodynamically and sustainably farmed vines plus a non-interventionist winemaking style, these wines are natural and authentic, plus refined and delicious. The wines of Alsace used to be known as more off-dry, but at the same time palettes have been changing, warming climates have obliged consumers with much drier styles.
Bott-Geyl Cremant d’Alsace Cuvee Paul-Edouard Extra Brut, France NV 750ml $29 special, 10 bottles available
Bott-Geyl Metiss Blanc, Alsace 2021 750ml $19.50 special, 11 bottles available
Vinous “The 2021 Alsace Métiss is a blend of Muscat, Riesling, Sylvaner, Chasselas and Pinot Blanc, a contemporary take on the Edelzwicker blends of old. It is the only wine in the range that is certified Ecocert rather then Biodyvin, since a small amount of Muscat is bought from a grower for this blend. The nose is scented and fresh, full of spring blossom and lemon. The rounded palate follows suit, presenting fragrant peachiness and lovely, lemony richness – despite the slender body. A light, fragrant, and bone-dry aperitif, ideal for a summer table.”
Bott-Geyl Pinot Gris Sonnenglanz, Alsace Grand Cru 2013 750ml $45 special, 24 bottles available
Vinous 92+ Points “Vivid straw. Knockout nose is redolent of lemon verbena, ripe pear, grilled peach, nectarine and sweet spices complicated by spicy, lemony noble rot. Tactile, rich and utterly seamless in the mouth, with flavors similar to the aromas. I love this wine’s long, textured finish, which shows a spicy honeyed nuance (thanks to the presence of noble rot) that makes it absolutely irresistible. Since 2011, Bott harvests these grapes early to help preserve acidity.”
Bott-Geyl Riesling Schlossberg, Alsace Grand Cru 2018 750ml $51.90 special, 11 bottles available
Vinous 93 Points “The 2018 Riesling comes from a terraced, steep parcel at the top of Schlossberg Grand Cru, at its center, just below the forest, lending coolness. The granitic soils are weathered and poor, yields are small. The nose announces the ripeness and dryness of 2018 with a lifted scent of orange peel, golden apple and candied orange. The palate, likewise, is ripe and rounded, brimming with juicy, ripe Mirabelle that is edged with dried lemon peel freshness. A phenolic edge lends some welcome bitterness and more texture. The finish is dry and lasting, delving deeper into that stone. (Bone-dry)”
Bott-Geyl Riesling Schoenenbourg, Alsace Grand Cru 2018 750ml $51.90 special, 12 bottles available
Vinous 94 Points “The 2018 Riesling Schoenenbourg Grand Cru is from various parcels within the grand cru, between 20, 30 and 60 years old. The nose is totally open and lifted with dried yarrow and dried lemon peel. More air brings hints of dried and fresh yellow pear. The palate is focused, intense, linear and edged with utterly mouth-watering freshness. There is a lovely chalky texture while notions of candied orange peel pop up, yet a completely dry focus drives this to a refreshing finish. Again a contrast between nose and palate delivers intense, chalky length. (Bone-dry)”
Close-Out Sales
Italian Stunners For Under 80 Dollars

Horus ‘Corda Pazza’ Rosso Sicilia, Sicily 2020 750ml WAS $29 
NOW $24 special, 20 bottles available
Importer Notes “Giuseppe used a third each of Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Syrah and aged the wine only in tank to preserve its freshness and soil character. For those accustomed to bigger, darker, sappier expressions of Nero d’Avola (many in the ’90s and 2000s aimed for Shiraz-level intensity), this will be a revelation: It is medium-bodied, silky, and bright, more Burgundian in scale but resolutely Mediterranean in its flavor profile.”
Siro Pacenti PS Pelagrilli, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018 750ml WAS $59 NOW $49 special, 19 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 Points “In an elegantly designed bottle, the Siro Pacenti 2018 Brunello di Montalcino Pelagrilli delivers lots of dark fruit and blackberry, and the quality of the fruit is bold, fresh and still very much alive. The house style prizes concentration and oak spice, but the detailed-minded winemaking is impeccable. The wine is structured and firm and stands apart in a crowd, but alas, it does show an unfortunate 15% alcohol content.”
Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2015 750ml WAS $79 NOW $69 special, 17 bottles available
James Suckling 96-97 Points ” Best Giusto di Notri ever? Full body, ripe and powerful tannins, as well as beautiful fruit. Chewy yet polished tannins and a lingering finish. This is dense and structured with beautifully polished tannins and plenty of currant and blackberry character. Full body and chewy tannins yet refined and juicy. Lots of Mediterranean herbs with the dark fruit. Blend of mostly cabernet sauvignon with merlot and cabernet franc. Pretty barrel sample. This is coming along very nicely. Can’t wait to taste in bottle. Made from organic grapes.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 Points “Here is a high performance wine from Stefano Frascolla and his family. The 2015 Giusto di Notri is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller parts Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine is contemporary, complex and gorgeous from tip to toe. You get a lot of power here and generous oak-driven tones of sweet espresso, chocolate and spice that surround a succulent core of dark fruit and candied cherry. All these elements appear even bigger and bolder in this warm vintage.”
Giovanni Rosso Barolo del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba DOCG, Piedmont 2016 750ml WAS $59 NOW $49 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 96 Points “Iris, woodland-berry and pine-forest aromas shape the nose. On the focused, vibrant palate, mint and star anise notes accent a core juicy Marasca cherry. Taut polished tannins and bright acidity provide balance and a firm lithe structure.”
GD Vajra Bricco delle Viole, Barolo DOCG 2018 750ml WAS $79 NOW $69 special, 12 bottles available
#9 Top 100 Cellar Selections 2022 – Wine Enthusiast
Wine Enthusiast 95 Points “Cellar Selection. Heady aromas of violet, camphor, leather and tobacco lead the way on this fragrant red. On the palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins accompany ripe Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and licorice. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Drink 2025–2035.”
Castello di Volpaia Balifico Tuscana IGT, Tuscany 2018 750ml WAS $85  NOW $74.50 special, 25 bottles available
Vinous 96 Points “The 2018 Balifico, Volpaia’s Sangiovese/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend, is fabulous. Rich and inky, the 2018 offers up a compelling mélange of dark berry fruit, dark spice, licorice and espresso. I especially admire the wine’s textural richness. I imagine the 2018 will drink well for many, many years to come. In this tasting it is a total knock-out.”
Collector’s Corner
Spanish Treasure

There is still no better place to find amazing wines for fantastic prices than Spain. Compare a hundred point wine from Spain to a hundred point wine from France and… well, there is no comparison.

Bodegas Muga Aro, Rioja DOCa 2019 750ml $349 special, 3 bottles available
Jeb Dunnick 100 Points “Pure magic, the 2019 Aro is 70% Tempranillo and 30% Graciano from a plant by plant selection of the Muga family’s oldest vines of Tempranillo, blended with a substantial portion of Graciano. This dense purple behemoth has a primordial bouquet of pure cassis, graphite, crushed stone, lead pencil, new leather, and hints of spring flowers. Building incrementally on the palate, with full-bodied richness, a huge mid-palate, and ripe, velvety tannins, this is one heavenly Rioja that deserves 7-8 years of bottle age and will age like a First Growth from Bordeaux. Hats off to the team at Muga for another incredible wine. Drink 2029-2059. (06/13/22).”
Bodegas Muga Torre Muga, Rioja DOCa 2019 750ml $108.50 special, 22 bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 98 Points “The 2019 Torre Muga is always a more powerful, ripe expression of Rioja that never loses its sense of place. Deep ruby/purple, with a glorious bouquet of cassis, graphite, tobacco leaf, chocolate, and crushed stone, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a deep, pure, multi-dimensional texture, building tannins, and good acidity. It’s young, unevolved, yet oh, so promising. Hide bottles for 7-8 years if you can, and it will cruise for 20-30 years. The blend is 80% Tempranillo and the balance Mazuelo and Graciano, aged 18 months in French oak.”
James Suckling 97 Points “Intense nose of black fruit, ink, roasted espresso, black truffle and dried rosemary. It’s full-bodied with so much power and concentration. Firm but very velvety and integrated tannins. Deep core of black fruit. Yet, it’s not heavy. Long. One for the cellar. Try this from 2027.”
Grapelive 96 Points “This year has been good for Rioja appreciation and Muga has again made an exceptional set of wines, especially their Prado Enea and this Torre Muga, both of which offer distinct character and both of which I highly recommend!”
Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus, Priorat DOCa 2019 
750ml $228 special, 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 98+ Points “The serious and powerful 2019 Clos Erasmus feels quite classical Priorat, with notes of graphite, black fruit and licorice; it’s a solid Priorat with weight, concentration and clout. There are still some smoke, toast and spice notes from the élevage—100% in barrel, some 40% of them new, for around 18 months—and the wine always needs a little bit of time in bottle. Despite the 15.5% alcohol, the wine comes through as balanced and with freshness, there is no heat or sensation of alcohol; you need the tannins and acidity to counterbalance the alcohol, and they are doing that here. This is more balsamic, aromatic and exuberant. It’s showy, hedonistic and rich, a solid Erasmus. The tannins are still quite present and need some more time to be resolved. 3,300 bottles were filled in May 2020.”
Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus, Priorat DOCa 2020 750ml $289 special, 4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 100 Points “The still young and primary 2020 Clos Erasmus feels very floral and ethereal (within Priorat and Clos Erasmus); it’s a fresher and lighter expression but without being weak. It’s still a baby that needs to burn the baby fat (there are still some lactic notes from the malolactic in barrel). The wine is always around 3.2 or 3.3 pH and has some 15% to 15.5% alcohol, but the sensation this year is of a much fresher, more balanced and elegant wine. This should make an elegant bottle of mature Priorat with a decade in bottle, and I guess it will be long lived. Glorian mentioned that a small lot that normally goes to Laurel was added to the blend of Erasmus, resulting in a lot of added freshness and a note of orange blossom, which makes sense to me with the floral character of the wines and the extra freshness I perceived. This is really beautiful. It’s a very special vintage of Erasmus that unfurls incredible complexity and tantalizing aromas with time in the glass—blood orange (talk about freshness!), curry and cassis. It has great purity, complexity, elegance and finesse… A very different Clos Erasmus. Bravo! There are some 3,600 bottles. It was bottled in May 2022.”
 Clos Mogador Vi de Finca, Priorat DOCa 2012 1.5L $399 special, only 1 magnum available
Wine Advocate 98 Points “The 2012 Clos Mogador is nothing short of spectacular. They started in 1999 with some Cariñena, and they gradually increased the Garnacha and reduced the Cabernet. 2012 is possibly the vintage of Mogador with less Cabernet, as it didn’t behave well in such warm year. René Barbier senior tells me it reminds him of the freshness of the 2000 that he generously uncorked for me to compare; they only have a handful of bottles for the old vintages! The nose of this 2012 is still little reticent but not reduced like many vintages in the past, slowly showing a great Mediterranean-Atlantic balance with notes of herbs, wet slate and graphite. The super-elegant palate offers great acidity and freshness with incredibly layered and delineated flavors that have an electric, mineral sensation with tension and really fine tannins. There are no traces of oak and no edges… rugged silk? This is a Mogador for decades. If this is always a bargain for the quality it delivers, it is even more so in 2012!”
Espectacle del Montsant, Montsant (Rene Barbier & Clos Mogador) 2018 750ml $119 special, 21 bottles available
Wine Spectator 98 Points “As with other wines, I also tasted the 2018 Espectacle del Montsant next to the 2017 to catch up, as I last tasted the region some 16 months ago. 2018 was a cooler year of slow ripeness, and the grapes achieved an amazing 16% alcohol. The wine is truly spectacular, true to its name. It has tons of violet notes and aromatic herbs, the palate is gentler, and the tannins are rounder, polished and elegant. It has full body but isn’t heavy. There is a lot of complexity, and the wine developed slowly in the glass, showing nuances of cereals, kirsch, orange peel and lots of spices and herbs. It’s opulent and full, deep and complex. Amazing in its style. Some 6,500 bottles produced.”
Espectacle del Montsant, Montsant (Rene Barbier & Clos Mogador) 2019 750ml $125 special, 32 bottles available
Wine Advocate 99 Points “It’s always an exciting moment tasting a new vintage of the wine from one of the most beautiful vineyards in Montsant, and the 2019 Espectacle del Montsant didn’t disappoint. It’s always Mediterranean, heady and ripe, decadent and hedonistic. 2019 was a warm and quite classical vintage in the zone, with good ripeness (the wine’s label lists 15.5% alcohol), and the wine is hedonistic, nuanced and complex, with very good acidity, which is one of the characteristics that makes this vintage so complete. Despite everything, the wine is medium to full-bodied and comes through as perfumed and ethereal. They do long macerations and long aging in foudre. 2019 is a very serious vintage for this wine; it’s a little closed and needs time in the glass, and it’s tight and seamless, a little austere for what this wine usually is. This is truly spectacular.”
Familia Nin-Ortiz ‘Nit de Nin’ La Coma d’en Romeu, Priorat DOCa 2017 750ml $149 special, 2 bottles available
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 98+ Points “The 2017 Nit de Nin La Coma d’en Romeu is from an extremely dry and early harvest that delivered just five hectoliters per hectare! That means they only produced 1,330 bottles from the 1.5 hectares of Garnacha on those slate terraces at 350 meters in altitude. It was bottled in April 2019. It has a beautiful and subtle nose that’s very spicy (cloves and cumin, curry and pink pepper) and floral, with a palate that feels light but has great depth and inner power, with pungent flavors and subtle minerality.”

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