Vinopolis Newsletter -Tuesday 01-10-22

In This Newsletter:

Monday Arrivals: An Adam Lee exclusive 

Rhône Roundup: Southern 
Domaine Charvin’s Champion Single Cuvee

Saint Cosme:
So good across the board you’ll think it’s sanctified 

Santa Duc: Saintly Gigondas

St. Damien and the Glory of Grenache

Rhône Roundup: Northern

Delight with Delas: Single Village Syrah

Monday Arrivals: An Adam Lee exclusive 

You’re familiar with Siduri, and their state spanning portfolio of California and Oregon Pinot Noir but did you know there’s another boutique operation? Enter Beau Marchais, collaboration between Adam Lee and the late Philippe Cambie of France. Building off the work done at Siduri, Beau Marchais is sourced entirely from the Santa Rita Hills. One of the vineyard sources is right next door to the legendary Gary’s Vineyard and managed by the same family. Stylistically these are Pinot Noir’s that walk the line of Californian ripeness with an almost Oregonian elegance. As you can expect with their limited sourcing, these are highly allocated wines that are only being supplied to retail wine shops as chosen by the winery. 

Beau Marchais wines in stock now: 

Beau Marchais Clos Pepe Vineyard Est Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills 2020 750ML ($99.95) $89 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 points 
“While there won’t be any releases from Santa Lucia due to smoke, they were able to release their Clos Pepe Pinot Noirs. The 2020 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Est Vineyard saw 25% stems, 48 days on stems, and aging all in new barrels. Lots of mulberry, chocolate covered strawberries, and plum fruits as well as notes of orange blossom and spice emerge from the glass, and it’s a rich, full-bodied, textured beauty that packs one heck of a mid-palate. With ripe tannins and an expansive, supple texture, drink this hedonistic, sexy Pinot Noir on release and over the following 7-8 years.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!

Beau Marchais Clos Pepe Vineyard Ouest Pinot Noir Sta Rita Hills 2020 750ML ($99.95) $89 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 95-97 points
 “The 2020 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Ouest Vineyard comes from the western side of the vineyard, which sees slightly smaller berries and yields due to being hammered by the winds. It tends to be a riper Pinot Noir yet always seems more structured and focused than the Est Pinot Noir. Similarly deep purple-hued, with a beautiful bouquet of blue fruits, iron, candied orange zest, and spice, it’s another rich, full-bodied, concentrated Pinot Noir that stays beautifully balanced and has ripe, building tannins as well as a great finish. While it’s not for the Burgundy lovers out there (although you might be surprised), it has depth, structure, and is a brilliant Pinot Noir!”
Vinous-Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2020 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Ouest is terrific. Powerful and ample in the glass, the 2020 possesses tremendous richness right out of the gate. Luscious red/purplish berry fruit, blood orange, spice and pomegranate are all dialed up. The super-sized Santa Barbara Pinot offers tons of immediacy and yet retains a good deal of energy as well. The Ouest is a noticeably bigger wine than the Est. “
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Beau Marchais Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2019 750ML ($99.95) $89 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
 ” loved these wines from barrel last year, and they didn’t disappoint from bottle. Starting with the Santa Lucia Highlands release, the 2019 Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard has a deep, nuanced yet powerful style that offers impressive black raspberry and red currant fruits to go with lots of spice, loamy soil, spring flower, and earthy forest floor notes. Gorgeously textured on the palate, this medium to full-bodied Pinot has ripe, polished tannins, a great mid-palate, and the fruit and opulence to drink nicely today yet also evolve for a good 7-8 years, if you’re so inclined.”
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “This collaboration between California’s Adam Lee and the Rhône Valley’s Phillipe Cambie yields a rich, spicy wine. Heavy aromas of cola, root beer, baked cherry and boysenberry gummies lead into a multi-layered palate of cardamom, clove, nutmeg and baked fruit, framed by polished tannins.”
Wine Advocate-Erin Brooks 92-94 points “I tasted the 2019 Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard as a final blend while still in barrel, aging in about 90% new oak. Medium ruby-purple, it’s loaded with dark fruits and nuances of bitter chocolate, mint leaves, charcuterie and fragrant earth. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied with a firm, grainy frame and good freshness, opening up to brighter fruits on the long finish. This is shaping up to be a concentrated, savory and structured Pinot Noir. This is due to be bottled sometime around August 2020.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Rhône Roundup: Southern

The Rhône is among the most storied and distinctive wine regions in the world. Characterized by the emblazoned bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, these were some of the first regions to produce cult wines. These wines carried such a personality that the rivaling villages prohibited bringing the wines to their towns, as famously declared by the Duke of Burgundy. 

Divided between the North and South, there are two primary styles that emerge; with the Southern Rhône largely comprised of field blends and the north being a single varietal expression. Both feature extensive plantings of Syrah, the varietal’s ancestral home. Grenache leads in the South however, with Syrah playing second chair with her sister Mourvèdre. GSM as it’s widely abbreviated dominates the blending atmosphere in the south, with Châteauneuf allowing for 13 different grapes to be included in the final mix. While the lion’s share of wine made is red, there are small plantings of Viognier, Rousanne and Marsanne that often draw comparisons to White Burgundy or Napa Chardonnay.   

Beyond the differences in winegrowing and vinification, there are also dramatic differences in the soil types of the Rhône. In the north you find the soils are largely comprised of clay and granite, with glacial rock deposits found in areas closer to the river itself. The proportions of river rock and silt increase the further south you go, with Châteauneuf-du-Pape being the most famous recipient of the galets, or pudding stones.

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Domaine Charvin’s Champion single cuvee

Domaine Charvin is a quintessential Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer originally founded in 1851. Producing only a single cuvee from their estate, their bottling is among the most complete pictures of the regions terroir. With an average vine age of 35 years old, organic farming practices and 5 different component grapes; delightful doesn’t begin to cover the experience of their wines. Located in the northern section of the village, there is a mix of soil types that further exemplify the wine as a benchmark in the classic garrigue and mineral components. 

Charvin Wines in stock now: 

Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone 2018 750ML ($79.95) $52.50 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 94-96 points
 “Dark glistening red. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, baking spices, garrigue and candied flowers, and a smoky mineral flourish appears as the wine opens up. Sappy, sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering juicy black raspberry, cherry and lavender pastille flavors joined by hints of allspice and bitter chocolate. Smooth and seamless in texture, showing superb finishing clarity, gently gripping tannins and strong, spicy persistence. This is a somewhat more brawny wine than usual for Laurent Charvin, but it still retains the domaine’s trademark balance and energy.”
James Suckling 95-96 points “A very tidy array of fresh strawberries, raspberries and poached, red plums. Sweet perfume and light, sappy, spicy complexity, too. The palate delivers an array of succulent, smooth tannins that offer fluid, suave, textural allure. Silky. Barrel sample.”

Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone 2019 750ML ( $69.95) $59 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Case-6 ($419.95) $333 special, (That’s only $55.50 per bottle!) 
Matt Walls – Decanter 95 points 
“Dark fruited but so alive and bright on the nose. Plums, damsons, and their crushed stones. Very rounded and generous this year, it has strong inner architecture to back up the fruit, and a long, structured and textural finish from the stems. Ends proud and mineral. This will be very good indeed when it’s ready – structured and fresh enough to stay the course and give complexity when the time comes. 82% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah, 4% Counoise, 4% Vaccarèse. Organically grown at the north-west of the appellation, lieux-dits Cabrières and Maucoil, galets roulés and sand. It’s fermented and then aged for 21 months in concrete using indigenous yeasts, then bottled unfiltered.”
Saint Cosme:
So good across the board you’ll think it’s sanctified 

Saint Cosme is one of the rare producers that delivers consistent quality across their regional bottlings. Considering their range spans the entirety of the Rhône this is a downright herculean achievement. Whether you’re looking for fruit, minerality, high acid or low, Red or white wine; Saint Cosme has a wine for you. And these wines do appeal to just about anyone. Ask James Molesworth at Wine Spectator, Joe Czerwinski at the Wine Advocate, Josh Raynolds at Vinous Media, Matt Walls at Decanter Magazine, Anna Iijima of the Wine Enthusiast, Jeb Dunnuck,  James Suckling, and Kerry Winslow of Grapelive – all of whom have declared the greatness of the wines in recent vintages.

Saint Cosme Wines in stock now: 

Chateau de Saint Cosme Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rhone 2018 750ML ($54.95) $45 special, 36+bottles in stock now
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
 “Brilliant violet. Pungent red berry and cherry aromas are complemented by emerging floral and succulent herb nuances. Alluringly sweet and juicy on the palate, offering concentrated black raspberry, cherry and candied lavender flavors that deepen through the back half. Finishes supple, spicy and long, with lingering floral and cherry notes and gentle tannic grip.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau de Saint Cosme Cote Rotie Rhone 2018 750ML ($89.95) $69 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 92-95 points 
“One of the gems in the Northern Rhône lineup is the 2018 Côte Rôtie, which, as with all of Louis’ wines, wasn’t destemmed and was brought up in 30-40% new oak. Stunning aromatics of black raspberries, olive tapenade, ground pepper, violets, and assorted meat notes all flow to a medium to full-bodied, opulent, seamless Côte Rôtie that has a smoking good texture. Count me impressed.”
Importer Note “Côte-Rôtie is produced from 100% Sérine, an ancient and local variety of Syrah that is markedly different from modern selections. It is more oval, with lots of space in the bunch, resulting in a very aromatic wine. It is sourced from the schist soils of Le Plomb, Besset, La Viallière, and Neve climats. These hillsides are among the steepest in France with an incline as much as 55 degrees. On the palate, it reveals a fresh attack followed by an ample, structured, long-lasting finish. The wine unfurls in successive stages and ends with top-quality tannins produced by whole cluster fermentation. It features aromas and flavors of smoked ham, violet, graphite, graphite, and licorice.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux Rhone 2018 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 95-97 points 
“Everything about the all-Grenache 2018 Gigondas le Claux is big. From the huge black cherry and blackberry fruit, to the insane levels of concentration, the rich, velvety tannins and the never-ending, licorice-tinged finish, this beauty should evolve positively for at least a decade and a half.-JC”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Quite ripe, with waves of warmed plum sauce and blackberry preserves rolling through, wrapped liberally with licorice root, sage and lavender notes. Iron minerality runs through the finish, letting the fruit and savory notes meld wonderfully. Built for the cellar. Best from 2022 through 2035.”
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “Coming from a site just across the road from the Hominis Fides vineyard, the 2018 Gigondas Le Claux was not destemmed and brought up mostly in used, larger barrels. Beautifully Provençal notes of black raspberries, camphor, flowery incense, and peppery spice and emerge from the glass and this beauty is reminds me of a Grand Cru Red Burgundy on the palate with its seamless, elegant, layered texture. It’s not a blockbuster like the 2016 and 2017 yet shines for its complex aromatics and flawless balance. It also has more than enough structure to evolve for two decades.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Rhone 2019 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special, 32 bottles in stock now
Wine Specator 95 points
 “Dark and winey, this structured offering packs red and black currant paste flavors together with threads of charcoal, warm stone, bay leaf and savory, ending with a long tug of cast iron through the finish. A blue chip for cellaring. Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault. Drink now through 2035.”.—J.M.
Matt Walls-Decanter 94 points “Great sense of concentration and vibrancy with acidity that is marked for the vintage and the oak well integrated. Extremely vibrant, dark fruited this year, damson, shot through with very fine tannins. All whole bunch fermented in concrete with natural yeasts, then aged in concrete, recently used barriques and some new ones (around 20%).”
Jeb Dunnuck 93-95 points “Starting off the 2019 barrel samples, the 2019 Gigondas reveals a deeper ruby/plum color to go with a rich, powerful, medium to full-bodied and concentrated style that carries lots of classic dark fruits, ground pepper, and scorched earth-like aromas and flavors. This rich, dense 2019 will reward 3-5 years of bottle age and have two decades of prime drinking.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Hominis Fides Rhone 2019 750ML ($129.95) $119 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 97-99 points
 “Lastly, the 2019 Gigondas Hominis Fides is another wine that’s going to flirt with perfection. Deep purple/ruby hued, with a stunning bouquet of crème de cassis, kirsch liqueur, scorched earth, and loads of violet and floral nuances, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, building tannins, no hard edges, and one hell of a great finish. There is certainly no shortage of tannins and this needs 4 to 5 years of bottle age, but it will be one of the longest-lived of wines in the vintage.”
Matt Walls-Decanter 97 points “A seriously upright and skybound style, so much energy and very long. It’s a seriously tannic wine this year, but elegant with it – and such freshness. Little spicy note in the background accentuates its natural freshness and pep. Grenache planted in 1902 on Miocene calcareous sand. Single vineyard. No destemming. 12 months maturation in French oak barriques: 30% new, 30% one-year-old, 30% two-year-old. Unfiltered.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “A brick house, this brims with cassis, blackberry reduction and fig preserve flavors supported by a strong spine of cast iron notes and laced throughout with bay, dried garrigue and racy chalky minerality. Muscular and rugged in temperament through the finish, but the well-defined pieces are in. Some patience is all that’s needed. Best from 2024 through 2040. —J.M.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux Rhone 2019 750ML ($129.95) $119 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 97 Points 
“This is packed together, with taut iron cables providing a platform for mouthwatering bitter plum, cassis and blackberry reduction flavors. Sage, bay tobacco and warm earth notes play equally important roles, adding superior range and depth. Everything pulls together through the finish, though the end point takes some time to reach. Best from 2025 through 2040. —J.M.”
Jeb Dunnuck 97-99 points “Also all Grenache from a single vineyard just down from the estate, the 2019 Gigondas Le Claux offers more minerality as well as structure and is another 2019 that’s going to benefit from bottle age. A complex bouquet of redcurrants, loamy soil and dried garrigue, camphor, and licorice emerges from the glass, and this beauty has building tannins, flawless balance and a great, great finish.”
Decanter 96 points “Very dense, somewhat earthbound for now with an extremely dense tannic structure. Great energy and salinity, very vibrant with a lovely acid structure. Will take a long time to come round but will be good. Organically grown Grenache planted in 1870, planted on Miocene marls and yellow clay. Fermented in concrete, no destemming, indigenous yeasts, and matured 100% in barriques; 30% new, 30% second use, 30% third use.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Chateau de Saint Cosme Cote Rotie Rhone 2019 750ML ($79.95) $66 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points
 ” A racy, high-pitched, mineral-driven style, with raspberry and damson plum coulis notes pierced with savory and sanguine accents. The long, tight-grained, iron-edged finish resonates. Best from 2022 through 2034.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

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Santa Duc: Saintly Gigondas
Gigondas’ is the finest source of value for profound wine in the Rhone. The top estates deliver wines that compete with the very best wines in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but at prices that are a fraction of their competition. Our feature today, Santa Duc, is one of the very best in the region and our pricing on most of their wines is the best in the country—a killer combination.

Santa Duc is perhaps the only estate who can match Saint Cosme as the “Most Important Winery in Gigondas.”  Owners of some of the finest vineyards in the Southern Rhone, Santa Duc is a legendary producer that more than lives up to their reputation. Unlike Saint Cosme, though, their top wines aren’t yet commanding triple-digit pricing.  In fact, their most expensive Gigondas bottling is still under $50—and is an absolute stunner.

Santa Duc manages to make Gigondas taste aristocratic—taming the wild mountain personality of the Dentelles into something that is at once both intensely powerful and also nuanced and complex. This is attributable to their exceptionally old vines, with their “Youngest” being over 50 years old!

These are wines that manage the neat trick of being absolutely delicious now while having a track record of aging gracefully.  Recent notes for older bottles like the ’95 and ’98 Hautes Garrigues are glowing, yet the wines can be on your table tonight and impress.  In the last decade or so, the winery has extended its holdings into Chateauneuf and those wines are as brilliant as you’d expect, as well.

Santa Duc Wines in stock now: 

Domaine Santa Duc Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Le Pied De Baud’ Rhone 2015 750ML ($69.95) $45 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 94 points 
“The 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Le Pied de Baud, a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault, offers compelling scents of rose petals and raspberries on the nose. While not as richly textural as some of the other cuvées, it’s still a lovely, hauntingly fragrant example of Châteauneuf du Pape.”
James Suckling 94 points “This has an array of darker berry and plum fruits with a brambly, lightly spicy edge, too. The palate delivers impeccably fresh, lithe and detailed tannin texture, as well as blue fruit flavors. Juicy and energetic. Long finish. Try from 2020.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine Santa Duc Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Les Saintes Vierges’ Rouge Rhone 2015 750ML ($69.95) $51.90 special, 22 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Saintes Vierges is the most flattering of Santa Duc’s current releases, offering lushness and generosity on the palate, notes of cherries and licorice, creamy-supple tannins and a mouthwatering finish. It’s a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise.”

Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Clos Derriere Vieille Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $38 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 92-94 points
 “The 2015 Gigondas Clos Derrière Vieille (80% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre) comes from the wall vineyard located just beside the village. It offers terrific notes of dusty earth, dried cherries and herbes de Provence, medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannin and a beautiful texture. Like the other 2015s, it’s going to drink nicely for 10-15 years.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas Aux Lieux-Dits 2015 Rhone 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 35 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “Ripe but fresh, with a slightly high pitch to the mix of damson plum, cherry and rooibos tea aromas and flavors, backed by singed vanilla, tobacco and licorice root notes that give this a darker shade through the finish. Best from 2020 through 2030. 2,400 cases made, 700 cases imported.”
This is the only listing in the USA today!

St. Damien and the Glory of Grenache

What they lack in centuries of history and breadth of portfolio is a head-turning, traditionally-styled wine experience in the three reds on offer (and a “magnificently mustachioed Joël Saurel at the helm,” to quote Joe Czerwinski of the Wine Advocate). This humble, family-owned domain is ready to rumble with old-vine Grenache-based blends that show deep, earthy flavors and superior style due to their intensely rigorous quality standards. We love their wines so much that we jumped at the first opportunity to acquire their next vintage!

The 2019 is being lauded as one of the rare vintages that captured both phenolic ripeness and elegance thanks to cool evenings and perfectly timed rains during the season. The exceptionally old vines on the St. Damien estate were able to weather the heat spells and drought conditions well. The house style of utilizing whole clusters during fermentation paid off tremendously this vintage, with the stems being perfectly ripe and contributing further tannic structure.

St Damien wines in stock now

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes Rhone 2018 750ML ($34.95) $28 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes Rhone 2018 2018 750ML ($219.95) $159 special, (That’s only $26.50 per bottle!) 
Wine Advocate 92-94 points 
“The 2018 Gigondas Classique Vieilles Vignes shows impressive levels of black cherry fruit, joined by hints of garrigue and licorice. It’s full-bodied, silky and easy to drink, finishing long, briny and savory.”
Jeb Dunnuck 92-94 points “The base Gigondas, the 2018 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes is a blend from both the La Louisiane and Pigière lieux-dits near the estate (due to the dismal yields, there’s no Souteyrade cuvée in 2018) and is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah brought up in foudre. It has a wonderful flowery incense and blue fruit quality as well as medium to full body, a ripe, rounded mid-palate, and a great texture. It’s a more forward, charming, sexy wine that’s going to drink nicely in its youth yet also evolve gracefully.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas Vieilles Vignes Rhone  2019 750ML ($34.95) $28 special 36+ bottles in stock now
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 91-93 points
 “The 2019 Gigondas Classique Vieilles Vignes shows a touch of cedary oak on the nose—nothing obtrusive, but enough to notice alongside the black cherries and subtle garrigue notes. Full-bodied and generous, with a smooth, silky feel on the palate, it ends with a gentle wash of dusty tannins and an attractive hint of licorice.”
Jeb Dunnuck 91-93 points “Moving to the three Gigondas I was able to taste, the 2019 Gigondas Vieilles Vignes comes from a mix of terroirs on the lower plain, around the estate, and is mostly Grenache brought up in larger, very old foudre and concrete tanks. Deep purple/ruby hued, with a beautiful perfume of black raspberries, candied flowers, and sweet garrigue, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a silky texture, great tannins, and plenty of length on the finish. This is a more finesse-driven, silky, elegant wine than past vintages and it’s going to drink nicely for over a decade.”

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas La Louisiane Vieilles Vignes Rhone 2018 750ML ($41.95) $36 special, 25 bottles in stock now
Grapelive 96 points
 “The Domaine Saint-Damien, founded back 1821, is a small family winery in the southern Rhone based in the famed Gigondas AOC and is run by Joel and Amie Saurel with their son Romain who is the current winemaker. This is one of the Rhone’s great properties and treasures, especially for me. These wines are some of my personal favorites like this fantastic and nearly perfect 2018 old vine La Louisiane… This vintage has more vitality and fresh detail than the warmer and more lavish 2017s, which don’t get me wrong were incredible wines too, it is just that extra sense of purity and the mineral notes really stand out here and there is excellent fruit dimension and definition that is fully on display here. These old vines give outstanding concentration without overt jamminess or heat of alcohol. In fact this 2018 delivers a performance that would rival the best from either Burgundy or Bordeaux for elegance, presence and complexity, while still be a soulful and ultra pleasure filled wine. Influenced by its terroir in the des Dentelles de Montmirail, the Domaine Saint-Damien, named for the Christian martyr, has vines set in the rocky hillsides on marls, a mix of limestone and hardened clay soils, in terraced vineyards that get plenty of warm sunshine through the days and high elevation coolness at night that allows for perfect ripening of the grapes, which include mainly Grenache of course as well as Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. This wine is beautifully proportioned and divinely textural revealing succulent layers of black raspberry, plum, pomegranate and a deep sense of creme de cassis along with violets, peppercorns, dried herbs, a hint of baked earth, cedar and anise accents that dance on the full bodied palate. This is riveting stuff that is surprisingly well integrated at this point, which makes it drink stylishly and with subtle rustic notes and this Gigondas should prove to be a stunning age worthy wine with its velvet covered muscles and underlying structure, depth and energy… I really am taken with this 2018 Saint-Damien and the mineral tone it has, as well as the opulent mouth feel and its lively pop of spice and lingering kirsch note, don’t pass up a chance to try this opaque purple/garnet hued and top notch Gigondas!”
Wine Advocate 95-97 points “The 2018 Gigondas La Louisiane looks to be another terrific example of this cuvée. Raspberries, black cherries, tea leaves and violets all appear on the nose, while the full-bodied palate is rich, velvety and long on the finish.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 93-95 points “Vivid magenta. Highly perfumed raspberry and cherry preserve aromas are complicated by potpourri and exotic spice nuances and a smoky mineral note builds in the glass. Juicy and appealingly sweet, displaying intense red/blue fruit, spicecake and lavender pastille flavors and supple, seamless texture. Balances richness and vivacity smoothly and finishes extremely long and spicy, with harmonious tannins and a resonating echo of candied flowers.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas La Louisiane Vieilles Vignes Rhone 2019 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 94-96 points
 “The 2019 Gigondas La Louisiane hails from a south-facing slope of clay and sand and is a blend of 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah and Cinsault, all aged in foudre. Loaded with black cherries and mixed berries, it’s a big, full-bodied effort that drinks surprisingly well already yet has the concentration, length and structure that should enable it to age another 15 years or more.”

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas ‘Les Souteyrades Vieilles Vignes’ Rhone 2019 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 points 
“Also showing considerable elegance, the 2019 Gigondas Les Souteyrades sports a ruby/purple hue to go with beautiful and exotic notes of black raspberries, kirsch, candied orange, violets, and peppery garrigue. Beautifully balanced, medium to full-bodied, and downright silky on the palate, this heavenly Grenache should be snatched up by readers. It’s going to keep for 15 years.”
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 93-95 points “Not as effusive on the nose as the La Louisiane, the 2019 Gigondas les Souteyrades is drier, sterner stuff—not as immediately approachable, with more savory notes of black olives and earth. There are still notes of ripe plums and raspberries in this full-bodied effort but also a firm core of dusty tannins to ensure more than a decade of longevity. It’s a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre from a clay-rich, north-facing slope.”

Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas ‘Les Souteyrades Vieilles Vignes’ Rhone 2019 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 points
 “Also showing considerable elegance, the 2019 Gigondas Les Souteyrades sports a ruby/purple hue to go with beautiful and exotic notes of black raspberries, kirsch, candied orange, violets, and peppery garrigue. Beautifully balanced, medium to full-bodied, and downright silky on the palate, this heavenly Grenache should be snatched up by readers. It’s going to keep for 15 years.”
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 93-95 points “Not as effusive on the nose as the La Louisiane, the 2019 Gigondas les Souteyrades is drier, sterner stuff—not as immediately approachable, with more savory notes of black olives and earth. There are still notes of ripe plums and raspberries in this full-bodied effort but also a firm core of dusty tannins to ensure more than a decade of longevity. It’s a blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre from a clay-rich, north-facing slope.”

We carry over 204 different bottlings from the Southern Rhone on our web store

Rhône Roundup: Northern
Moving north beyond the classic areas of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the landscape changes from pudding stones and alluvial sand to layers of granite and clay. This is also where the valley shape takes place in the Rhone, forming a natural wind tunnel that cools the grapes in the evening in addition to thickening their skins. These growing conditions lend themselves naturally to Syrah over her sister Grenache that dominates in the south, largely due to Grenache not responding favorable to anything but sunny and dry weather.

While they all grow the same varietal, these are not monolithic expressions with the villages up the spine of the Rhone valley allowing for varying amounts of white grape inclusions. Not unlike Chianti, the inclusion of white grapes moderates the tannic structure and increases the aromatics. If that wasn’t enough differences the northern villages feature some of the steepest vineyards in the world, with some sites exceeding a 50% slope. This stands in stark contrast to the much flatter southern regions, which result in them having higher alcohol and fruit characteristics. In the North you will find a much more botanical and mineral expression, with a classic tobacco leaf character as well.     

Delight with Delas: Single Village Syrah

Delas is one of the most notable landholders in the Northern Rhone, with holdings in some of the best vineyards in every major AOC, yet they still manage to be overlooked when people put together collections of wine from the region.  We’d like to remedy that, so permit us a few seconds to sing their praises.

Delas makes some of the most powerful, intense wines in the Northern Rhone at prices that make them one of the superior values in the region. Density and richness are a hallmark of both the reds and the whites—there are no shrinking violets in the lineup.  We turn to them for big, bold wines that often show very well young—a remarkable trait in their part of France.

For whatever reason, the market has yet to catch up to the quality coming out of Delas’ cellar.  The Northern Rhone has turned into one of the hottest markets in the wine world, with many wineries getting expensive overnight.  That hasn’t happened to Delas—yet.  With the quality of recent vintages and the scores involved, we definitely see it happening soon, though, so if you love these wines now is the time to back up the truck.

Delas wines in stock now: 

Delas Freres Condrieu Clos Boucher Rhone 2017 750ML ($99.95) $69 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points 
“Slightly deeper and richer, the 2017 Condrieu Clos Boucher offers beautiful notes of tangerine, honeyed limes, citrus, and brioche. It’s another fresher, elegant Condrieu that has bright acidity, medium body, and sensational balance. It’s as drinkable as they come and one of the gems in the vintage.”
Josh Raynolds 94 points “Pale, shimmering gold. Incisive aromas of fresh citrus and orchard fruits, ginger and violet are complemented by suggestions of chalky minerals, fennel and white pepper. Juicy and sharply focused on the palate, offering concentrated pear, melon, white peach and Meyer lemon flavors that show impressive clarity and mineral drive. The pit fruit and floral notes come back emphatically on the vibrant finish, which hangs on with excellent, mineral-driven tenacity.”
“Owned by the Louis Roederer/Deutz Champagne firm, Delas Frères is another largely negotiate estate that is fashioning brilliant wines from throughout the Rhône Valley. The incredible quality has been led by Burgundian Jacques Grange, who joined Delas Frères in 1997, and he’s assisted by the talented Claire Darnaud. The 2015s, reviewed last year, are some of the finest wines ever from this estate (same league as the 2009s and 2010s). They’ve done a fine job in 2016, with the wines showing more elegant characters, missing the density or structure of a top year, yet offering balanced, very drinkable profiles. The 2017s should surpass the 2016s, but also have upfront charming characters. It’s worth noting that this estate has seen a progression in style since 2005, where the wines were more extracted and oaky, to the 2016s and 2017s today, which could be seen as more mid-weight and elegant.”

Delas Freres Crozes-Hermitage Le Clos Rhone 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93+ points
 “Similar to the Domaine des Grands Chemins, yet with additional structure, the inky purple/ruby colored 2013 Crozes-Hermitage le Clos has lots of minerality in its smoky, meaty, dark fruited profile. Medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, structured yet balanced, give it 2-4 years of cellaring and enjoy over the following decade or more.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes – Marquise de la Tourette Rhone 2011 750ML ($119.95) $89 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck-Wine Advocate 95+ points 
“Starting off the 2011s, both of which were tasted out of bottle numerous times, the 2011 Hermitage Domaine de Tourettes is another blockbuster from this producer. Full-bodied, rich, layered and voluptuously textured, it offers up a beautiful bouquet of smoked herbs, leather, ground pepper and assorted meaty nuances that are grounded by a rich core of cassis and darker berry fruit. While a big wine, it has remarkable freshness and purity, serious mid-palate depth and silky tannin, all of which allow it to dish out loads of pleasure, even now. Enjoy it over the coming 15-20 years.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes – Marquise de la Tourette Rhone 2015 750ML ($89.95) $66 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Falstaff Magazine 96 points
 “[Translated] Very closed, blackberry jam, hints of balsamic spice. Creamy start, immediately present minerality, extremely high density with fine but not too silky tannins, an elegance at the maximum of what fits in 14 percent by volume, minerally seasoned, all components seamlessly integrated, ripe, well-bearing acidity, very expressive.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “This is loaded with well-defined loganberry, blackberry and boysenberry pâte de fruit flavors, flecked with anise and black tea notes and carried by a fine iron streak that lingers wonderfully. A wine of cut, purity and precision. Best from 2020 through 2035. From France.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “A blend of Syrah grapes from several lieux-dits, including Les Bessards, the 2015 Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes is aged in new and second use barrels. It’s a dark, concentrated wine, meaty, rich and tannic but with a bright beam of cassis fruit that lifts it and gives it great definition and shape on the palate. Give this medium to full-bodied wine at least 5 years in the cellar and drink it over the next 15.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “While the Les Bessards gets all the attention, the 2015 Hermitage Domaine Des Tourettes isn’t far behind and is unquestionably the value play. Beef blood, cassis, blackberry liqueur and loads of crushed rock nuances all emerge from this ripe, concentrated, full-bodied Hermitage that has a classic, structured profile. It’s well worth a case purchase and will keep for two to three decades. As always, this cuvée comes from two parcels, the lower part of the Bessards lieu-dit and the Les Grandes Vignes located at the highest point on Hermitage Hill. It’s completely destemmed and sees 16 months in 30% new French oak.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Enticing hints of sweet spice, black pepper and bacon fat seduce on the nose of this rich but balanced Hermitage. Blackberry and cherry flavors are fresh and juicy but structured by firm tannins and brisk acidity. A polished wine already, it should intensify its savory, smoky complexities well through 2030.”
Richard Hemming-Jancis Robinson 18/20 “Smokier and firmer than their Bessards Hermitage. Dense, furry tannins and loads of savoury liquorice flavour. This is classic Hermitage: burly, powerful, grainy and heady – superb clarity of fruit. Faultless balance.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Delas Freres Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes – Marquise de la Tourette Rhone 2017 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Wine & Spirits 96 points
 “Delas Frères owns 24 acres on the Hermitage hill, including some small parcels of marsanne planted in 1912 and 1918. Since 2013, Jacques Grange has been converting the farming here and in the domaine’s other vineyards to organic, a move he says he’s found to increase the energy in the wines. The performance of the wines we tasted for this issue gives credence to his impression, with this wine a standout example. The vintage was a difficult one, replete with heat waves, hail storms and drought, and yet the wine feels radiant. Fermented with ambient yeasts, it opens gradually, the initial wood tones fading as the wine grows golden and opulent in flavor. Honeysuckle scents and lemony acidity play around the juicy Cavaillon melon flavors, adding delicacy to the wine, while bitter-almond and mineral notes add a deep savor. It’s glorious now, but deserving of another decade in the cellar to harmonize.”
Wine Enthusiast 94 points “This intensely ripe but vibrant Syrah highlights plump black-currant and blackberry flavors as well as delicate notes of toasted nut, smoke and cedar. Fine, feathery tannins and an ample fruit profile suggest an expression of Hermitage that’s approachable in youth but will continue to gain perfume and depth with age as well. -Anna Lee C. Iijima”

Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Sainte-Epine Rhone 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 94 points
 “Dark and winey, featuring a deep core of red and black currant fruit steeped gently with anise and apple wood notes. The finish lets a bright iron edge run through. There’s lots to like here. Drink now through 2026. 500 cases made.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Always one of the wines of the appellation, the 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte Epine from Delas comes from a terrific terroir just north of Tournon. This is a sunny yet cooler, windy region of pure granite soils, and the wine spent 16 months in new and once-used barrels. Saturated purple-colored, with lots of cassis, crushed violets, and liquid rock aromas and flavors, it’s seamless and elegant on the palate, with beautiful finesse in its tannins and rocking purity of fruit. This beauty just glides across the palate, is medium-bodied, impeccably balanced, and a classic Northern Rhône Syrah that will keep for a decade.”
Wine Advocate 93-points “Impressively dark and saturated in color, the 2016 Saint Joseph Sainte-Epine showcases its granite origins, boasting scents of crushed stone on the nose, along with hints of plummy fruit and grilled meat. It’s medium to full-bodied, framed by firm yet ripe tannins and classy notes of pencil shavings that linger through the long, silky-textured finish.”-JC
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon Rhone 2015 750ML ($44.95) $28 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93 points 
“Inky and concentrated, the 2015 Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon is no easy-drinking Saint-Joseph. It’s smoky, herbal and ashy all at once, yet it’s buoyed by ample black cherry fruit and vibrant acidity. This medium to full-bodied Syrah has plenty of tannins, but they’re ultimately silky and most apparent on the long, licorice-tinged finish. This is approachable now but should be even better in 3 years and should drink well for at least another 10 after that.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “Both Saint Joseph releases are brilliant in 2015. The 2015 Saint Joseph François De Tournon comes vines around Tournon, Mauves, Saint-Jean-de-Muzols, and Vion, and is always destemmed and aged in 30% new barrels. This full-bodied, rounded, sexy beauty shows the power and fruit of the vintage. With classic notes of black and blue fruits, violets, incense and pepper, drink this textured, expansive, terrific Saint Joseph over the coming 10-15 years.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points “Dark ruby. High-pitched red and dark berry and violet aromas show excellent focus and pick up hints of cracked pepper and sandalwood with air. Sappy and seamless in texture, offering fresh black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of candied licorice. Turns sweeter on the penetrating, impressively long finish, which features smooth, even tannins and lingering boysenberry and floral qualities. “
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Delas Freres Saint-Joseph Francois de Tournon Rhone 2016 750ML ($44.95) $33 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
 “The 2016 Saint Joseph François De Tournon comes from more schist and gneiss soils and spent 10-14 months in mostly used barrels, with a small part in tank to preserve more freshness. It’s another ruby/purple-colored effort from this estate and gives up lots of blackberry and blueberry fruits intermixed with earthy minerality, ground pepper, and hints of damp earth. Rich, layered, and textured, it will be better in a year or two and keep for 8-10, if not longer.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “Features a solid core of dark currant and blackberry fruit, inlaid with notes of tar, anise and warm tobacco leaf. Reveals a tug of iron through the fruit-laden finish. Best from 2020 through 2026. 1,033 cases made, 123 cases imported. — JM”
James Suckling 92-93 points “This has fragrant and floral character with wild raspberries and red plums. The peppery palate has a vibrant array of ripe, red and purple fruit. Good depth and drive here. Barrel sample.”         
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

The Pacific Northwest has no shortage of vignerons seeking to emulate the majesty of the Rhone, with Marcus GoodfellowChris Peterson and Charles Smith all making stellar examples of the varietals for your consideration.