Vinopolis Newsletter – Wednesday 10/25/2023

 In This Newsletter:

Special Arrival Friday
Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle
New Arrivals
Larmandier- Bernier, Clos de Sarpe, Leoville-Poyferre, Racines, Schafer-Frohlich,
Wagner-Stempel, and more!

Best Releases to Date? YOU Decide!
Castello dei Rampolla’s Sammarco 2017
Castello dei Rampolla’s Sammarco
The Best Release to Date?
Close-out Sales
Deals from Argentina, United States, Spain
Collector’s Corner

Howell-ing About La Jota
Special Arrival Friday
Champagne Laurent Perriere

Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle no. 26 NV 750ml $219 special, 6 bottles available
James Suckling 100 Points “This is really something. Electric on the palate. The aromas are so complex with sliced fresh and dried ginger, subtle pie crust, tarte tatin and hints of nutmeg with some salted caramel. Toasted bread, too. Always subtle. The palate is full- to medium-bodied yet hemmed-in with a freshness and balance that draws you back. Savory and vibrant. It’s full of energy. Spectacular. Fascinating. Symphonic blend of 2012, 2008 and 2007. 65% of the 2012, 25% of the 2008 and 10% of the 2007. Eight grand cru. Chardonnay 58% and 42% pinot noir. Disgorged February 2023. 10 years on the lees. 7g/L dosage. Drink or hold.”
Janis Robinson 19.5/20 “Powerful aroma of orange peel and something in the putty/chalk spectrum. It somehow manages to be both tight yet approachable, dense in terms of flavour concentration yet filigree in terms of texture. As usual, it’s so Chardonnay! Overriding citrus character and quite amazingly long, a mouthful tingling on the palate for minutes not seconds. Enormous finesse. Massive pleasure. This would make the most luxurious aperitif. Michel Fauconnet, having welcomed the new chef de cave in January 2023, must be especially proud of this wine.”
New Arrivals Landing Tomorrow
Pierre and Sophie Larmandier, of Larmandier-Bernier, having holdings in the Côte des Blancs region of Champagne, including in the grand crus villages of Cramant, Chouilly, Oger, and Avize. The estate is meticulously run (by hand) at this small, independent estate. The moderate yields are harvested by hand, and the grapes undergo gentle pressing and a long settling process on the lees, with native yeast fermentation. The wines rest in in family’s chalk caves, awaiting hand disgorgement before going to market after a period of settling.
The results are the Champagnes of depth, transparency, and precision, with notes of “striking salinity,” “deep and vinous” layers, and a plethora of “wines-of-the-vintage.” We’re excited to restock on two exquisite vintage Champagnes that sold out here previously, arriving tomorrow.
Larmandier-Bernier Les Chemins d’Avize Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2013 750ml $149 pre-arrival special, only 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points “Revisited from the October 2019 disgorgement, Larmandier-Bernier’s 2013 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Chemins d’Avize continues to show brilliantly, offering up complex aromas of argan oil, fresh apricot and crisp yellow orchard fruit, complemented by hints of fresh walnuts and almond paste. Full-bodied, deep and vinous, it’s layered and elegantly fleshy, with a concentrated core of ripe fruit, racy acids and a long, mineral finish. As I wrote last year, Pierre Larmandier invariably excels in cool, late-growing seasons, so the 2013 vintage was perfectly adapted to his talents.” -William Kelley
Vinous 94 points “The 2013 Extra Brut Les Chemins d’Avize Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is floral and gracious, much more so than is common in Avize Champagnes, which tend to have more body. The 2013 is beautifully perfumed and ethereal from start to finish, with striking beams of salinity that confer tension. Candied lemon peel, white flowers, spice, hazelnut, dried flowers and chamomile are some of the many notes that are laced together. This subtle, wonderfully nuanced Champagne has so much to offer. It is the most restrained wine in this range. The Chemins d’Avize is a blend of fruit from Chemin de Plivot and Chemin de Flavigny, done in neutral oak. Dosage is 2 grams per liter. Disgorged: October, 2019.” –Antonio Galloni
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $168
Larmandier-Bernier Vieilles Vignes du Levant Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2011 750ml $119 pre-arrival special, only 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points “Revisited from the June 2019 disgorgment, Larmandier-Bernier’s 2011 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vieille Vigne du Levant continues to drink superbly, bursting from the glass with aromas of pear, peach, toasted almonds, white flowers, fresh bread and oyster shell. Full-bodied, layered and concentrated, it’s deep and fleshy, with superb concentration, racy acids and a long, saline finish. I have previously contended that Pierre Larmandier produced Champagne’s wines-of-the-vintage in 2011, and every bottle I open seems to confirm that. Indeed, if one were to taste only his wines, along with those produced by a small handful of other growers, one could easily think very differently about this unheralded year.” -William Kelley
Decanter 95 points “This masterful Champagne comes from the superb Bourron du Levant vineyard, whose oldest vines were planted more than 80 years ago. Brown butter, hazelnut and brioche lead the initial attack, but this never loses sight of freshness and purity, with a crystalline depth and harmonious balance. Fermented in cask with eight years on the lees, this should last for decades. Drinking Window 2020 – 2050.”
This is the only listing in the USA today by the bottle!
Also available Now from the Larmandier family:
Guy Larmandier Cramant Grand Cru BDB Brut NV, Champagne $59 special, 26 bottles available
Importer’s Note “From Chardonnay vines in the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The total absence of any sense of sweetness in this Brut Zéro allows the limestone to take center stage, and it presents in a more piercing and saline manner than in Larmandier’s Brut wines. Despite its relative rigorousness and austerity, however, this is by no means a difficult wine. Rather, it will appeal to those who relish the sort of palpable, intense mineral character Champagne is capable of when made in such a straightforward fashion. Aged 3 years sur lattes.”
Lowest listing in the USA by the bottle!
Chateau Clos de Sarpe is a tiny estate tucked in the northeastern park of St. Emilion. Here, the soil is layered with limestone and chalk beneath a dusting of clay. Aged on the lees for six months in new oak, these Merlot-dominated blends are powerful and impactful, with rich tannic structure and a vibrant mineral core. In style, these wines are, to quote the Wine Cellar Insider, a “throwback to the ancient days of Bordeaux winemaking.” They promise to reward after a long sleep in the cellar, or, to those impatient folks, there are rewards to be found in late-release magnums!
Chateau Clos de Sarpe, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2003 1.5L $119 pre-arrival special, only 6 magnums available
Wine Advocate 92 points “Medium garnet-brick colored, the 2003 Clos de Sarpe has quite an opulent nose with notes of powdered cinnamon, cloves and fenugreek over a core of baked cherries and dried mulberries with a waft of dusty soil. Medium-bodied, finely crafted and surprisingly elegant, it has a chewy frame and loads of perfumed fruit, finishing long and refreshing.” -Lisa Perrotti-Brown
This is the only listing in the USA today for the magnum!
Chateau Clos de Sarpe, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2016 750ml $89 pre-arrival special, 35 bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “An off-the-hook Saint-Emilion, the inky colored 2016 Château Clos de Sarpe is mostly Merlot but includes 15% Cabernet Franc. A beautiful, floral character gives way to more blueberry, raspberry, spice, and cedar notes, and it’s medium to full-bodied, fresh, and elegant on the palate, with thrilling purity of fruit. It’s still tight and reserved at the moment, with a focused feel on the palate, but has tons of potential. Give bottles 5-7 years of bottle age and enjoy over the following 15+.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “Medium to deep garnet-purple in color, the 2016 Clos de Sarpe (composed of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc) is a little closed to begin, opening out to reveal provocative Black Forest cake, Chinese five spice and cigar box notes with nuances of sandalwood, kirsch, rose hip tea and pencil shavings. Full-bodied, rich and opulent in the mouth, the palate is oh-so-seductive with a beautiful velvety texture and tons of freshness lifting the decadent fruit to a long spicy finish.
Vinous 94 points “The 2016 Clos de Sarpe is an exotic, full-throttle wine. Expressive floral, white pepper and espresso notes add a super-appealing upper register of aromatic intensity to a core of ripe, red cherry/plum fruit. Sumptuous and racy, Clos de Sarpe remains one of the most distinctive wines being made in Bordeaux today. The 2016 is a bit less over the top than some of the vintages that precede it, but Clos de Sarpe still pushes the outer edges of ripeness and overall intensity. I find it absolutely compelling, but there is no question Clos de Sarpe is not a wine for all palates.” -Antonio Galloni
What Saint-Julien lacks for in first growth estates, it more than makes up for it in the three Léovilles of Barton, Las Cases, and Poyferré. Beloved for centuries, these estates and this terroir offer an experience that, especially when price is considered, rivals the Moutons and Latours. Perhaps not a household name, Poyferré is known among Bordeaux insiders as producing a “voluptuous” wine, to quote Jane Anson of Decanter. She attributes this in part to its high proportion of Merlot. These are hedonistic and deeply rewarding, wines to convince the most stubborn of American-only Cab drinkers that there’s life and joy to be found in Bordeaux.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Saint-Julien 2018 750ml $169 pre-arrival special, only 12 bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 100 points “Every bit as good as the 2009, and I think better than the 2010 and 2016, the 2018 Château Léoville Poyferré is a total thrill that tops out my scale. Based on 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, its dense purple hue is followed by an incredible, full-bodied monster of a wine that, despite massive amounts of fruit, tannins, and extract, still stays weightless and ethereal, with incredible purity. Loaded with notions of crème de cassis, spring flowers, tobacco, violets, charcoal, and cedar pencil, it’s extraordinarily concentrated, flawlessly balanced, and has a finish that won’t quit. This is a legendary wine in the making. Give bottles 7-8 years, a decade would be even better, and it will keep for 40-50 years. Hats off to the Cuvelier family for another extraordinary wine!”
Wine Advocate 97 points “A blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc, aged in 80% new oak barriques, the 2018 Léoville Poyferré comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant scents of Morello cherries, plum preserves and blackberry pie, giving way to nuances of cedar chest, unsmoked cigars, vanilla pod and sassafras, plus a waft of crushed rocks. The palate is full-bodied, rich and decadent, delivering hedonic black fruits and lots of spicy accents with a velvety texture and seamless freshness, finishing long and satisfyingly savory. This is a very impressive showing that is delicious out of the gate but has the backbone to give a good 30 years or more of pleasure.” -Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Decanter 97 points “Deep, silky, and satiny in texture, you can practically stroke this in the glass! The round mouthfeel tells of ripe fruit and generous alcohol but there’s not a trace of heat, and the balance is gorgeous. Tannins match you step for step, stopping for breath in all the right places. They keep the luscious black cherry, liquorice and dark chocolate all in place. The 2016 vintage was almost one degree less in alcohol, and certainly this is a little less architectural in its construction, but that extra percent has clearly gone a long way to covering the tannins in silk. 3.7pH. IPT90. Tasted several times.”
Wine Spectator 97 points “Waves of warmed cassis, mocha and warm tar aromas lead the way, while the core of macerated plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit waits its turn, showing admirable breadth and depth when it arrives, with roasted apple wood, bramble and cast iron buried deeply through the finish. This is a powerfully rendered wine with a cashmere scarf as accent. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2024 through 2040. 15,000 cases made.”
“This is a very fine 2010 Sauternes” –Neal Martin
Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes 2010 750ml $79 pre-arrival special, only 18 bottles available
Ex-Chateau release
Decanter 95 points “[Reviewed 2021] Tropical fruit flavors on the nose, caramelized pineapple with bright candied lemon alongside wonderfully sweet floral notes and a hint of burnt edges running through the wine from start to finish. This has a really characterful flavour with orange marmalade and a touch of enjoyable bitterness on the finish giving depth and roundness. Strong and robust, definitely a wine to enjoy with food be it sweet or savory. A blend of 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, aged 50% in new barrels, 50% from barrels of one vintage for 20 months. Drinking Window 2021 – 2048.”
Vinous 95 points “[Reviewed 2020] The 2010 Suduiraut has an attractive bouquet with notes of Mirabelle, jasmine and saffron infusing the upfront honeyed fruit. This is no shy retiring wallflower. The palate is well balanced with a viscous opening, lightly spiced with a pleasant bitter note that lends tension on the finish. Good length, this is a very fine 2010 Sauternes. Tasted blind at Farr Vintners 10-Year On Bordeaux horizontal.” -Neal Martin
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Cellar Selection. This is a gorgeously ripe, opulent wine that shows a rich fruit-salad ripeness, as well as darker notes of botrytis. The wine is full and very ripe with flavors of honey, fennel and lemon, with sweetness balanced by acidity. This is a wine that could be drunk soon but will age magnificently. Drink from 2016. -Roger Voss”
2016 was an excellent year across much of Europe, and the vintage produced Brunello di Montalcino of exceptional quality. Even for a region known for world-class wines, these are all-timers. Lucky for you, we were able to source more of this incredible 2016 from this tiny boutique winery: Cerbaia. It’s just about to enter its prime drinking window, so buy a few for the cellar and decant what you can’t keep your hands off of.
Cerbaia Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2016 750ml $49 pre-arrival special, 36 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93+ points “The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is a dark and rich expression with a generous delivery of dark fruit—prune, plum and black cherry. The vines are planted in galestro soils with clay and shale in a 3.5-hectare plot, resulting in a 14,000-bottle production. Winemaking is simple, with fermentation in steel and aging in botte grande for three years. There is some extra density or heaviness to the fruit that feels reinforced by the oak notes and ultimately by the wine’s tannins. This wine will be released in April 2021, and that sounds about right because it needs more time.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “The 2016 Cerbaia is lifted with notes of raspberry, sour cherry, thyme, and dusty earth. The palate is brisk with fresh red fruits and tea leaf, while structured with lingering tannin and driving acidity. It needs time to loosen its grip and will be welcome over several years to come. It was aged for three years in large Slavonian oak and is sourced from Cerbaia’s largest vineyard, planted in 1989. Drink 2025-2036.” -Monica Larner
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
Arriving Friday
“Racines, Sta Rita Hills: The closest things to Burgundy and Champagne you’ll find in The USA”
Inspired by their mutual love of travel, Étienne Montille of Burgundy’s Domaine de Montille and Rodolphe Péters of Champagne Pierre Peters travelled all around Oregon and California searching for their first business venture outside of their own, but it was not until they walked the land and felt the cool air in the Santa Rita Hills, that they were inspired to put down roots.
The name they chose, Racines, literally means “Roots” in French and is the perfect distillation of what makes this winery so special: a pure and joyous celebration of Santa Rita Hill’s old vines, the cultural traditions of French wine, and the storied heritage of the producer’s families and Chateaus.
Racines Grand Reserve Sparkling Chardonnay NV $66 pre-arrival special, 36 bottles available
Decanter 96 Points “This is the best American sparkling wine I’ve ever tasted. The 2019 vintage base also includes 25% reserve wines from the 2017 and 2018 harvests. This Grand Reserve Chardonnay made from the cool Sta Rita Hills is crafted with a Champagne pedigree, and it shows. This Blanc de Blancs from across renowned Sta Rita Hills vineyards has undeniable Old World charm and sophistication. The aromatics boast ample toasted biscuit notes and great yeasty complexity from the 30 months on lees. The palate has a fantastic depth of fruit, spiced pear, cardamom, nutmeg and bruised apples. There is a subtlety of savoury biscuits and hints of almond cream. Elegant, yet bold and wildly delicious.”
Vinous 94 Points “The NV Sparkling Wine Grand Reserve is the first release in Racines’ sparkling wine project, done in collaboration with Rodolphe Peters. The first thing about the Grand Reserve readers Central Coast need to know is that it is a serious wine that greatly benefits from aeration. In fact, it only improved over the several days I followed it in bottle. My initial impression, however, was far less positive. So patience is key. Rich, ample and creamy with air, the Grand Reserve shows the rich, phenolic, mineral side of Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay to great effect. Moreover, it has all the elements that are so often missing in the new wave of California sparkling wines, namely a fine mousse, good mid-palate depth and a long finish. The Racines sparkling wine is a work in progress, but the debut release is hugely promising.”
Racines Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 750ml $99 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
Decanter 96 Points “This Santa Rita Hills-focused label between Justin Willett and Étienne de Montille takes a ‘low and slow’ approach to the winemaking process, contrasting the relatively delicate, high-toned style of the Tyler wines. Pinot Noir at La Rinconada Vineyard tends to exude a burly and structured style, as is the case with the 2018 Racines bottling. Sourced from a plot just feet away from that which supplies Tyler, a savoury and soft nose introduces a weighty, wide and tannic showing that is built to last. Drinking Window 2022 – 2045.”
Racines Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2020 750ml $99 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
Decanter 95 Points “The historic Chardonnay parcel of original and own-rooted plantings dates back to 1971. These Chardonnay vines are the oldest vines in the Santa Rita Hills Racy, yet richly textured and effusively aromatic, this wine shows a serious old vine complexity and the coastal influence of Santa Barbara county terroir. Aromatics of bruised apples and petrichor are punctuated by notes of sea foam and smoke. The palate is energized by savoury briny citrus and crushed chalk. Electric acidity amplifies the wines mineral character with hints of smoke and crushed limestone with hints of grilled lime and green mango. A revelatory California Chardonnay.”
Racines Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2020 750ml $115 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Decanter 94 Points “Sanford & Benedict vineyard is the Santa Rita Hills’ highest calling for Pinot Noir grapes. Made from three parcels within the site, including some own-rooted vines from 1971. This Pinot Noir is indelibly marked by pungent and stirring floral aromatics accented by frankincense, leather and smoke. The palate shows a generosity of fruit, but a significant amount of the whole cluster gives this wine savoury edges. Notes of crushed basalt, thyme and wild sumac envelop a core of blue and red fruits. Clove, five-star anise and a hint of cassia bark accompany this wine through its finish, measured in 5-minute intervals.”
Racines Sainte-Rose Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2020 750ml $79 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Decanter 94 Points “From organic vineyards along the Santa Rosa Road corridor, this Pinot Noir from Racines is a straightforward cooler site Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills. Aromas of strawberry fruit leather give way to notes of turned earth and crushed black basalt. The palate is savoury, with underlying dried fruit flavors. Montmorency cherries, garden soil and clove, evolve into notes of savoury herbs and streaks of graphite minerality.”
Racines Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay 2020 750ml $55 pre-arrival special, 36 bottles available
Decanter 93 Points “A wonderfully complex wine with ample texture. The Santa Rita Hills Cuvée is sourced from some of Santa Barbara’s top Chardonnay sites. The wine sees very little new oak and, as a result, shines forth with delicate brilliance—classically cool climate Chardonnay aromatics of soft white florals, crushed chalk and a touch of mint. The palate has verve and energy with savoury petrichor-driven minerality coming to the fore, followed on by bruised apples, a touch of cardamom and honey to finish adding depth and complexity along the way.”
Racines Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2020 750ml $54.50 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
Vinous 93 Points “The 2020 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Cuvée is a terrific introduction to the range. Crushed red berry fruit, mint, spice, rose petal and a touch of whole cluster savoriness are all beautifully delineated. This is such a gorgeous and expressive Pinot.”
Racines Wenzlau Chardonnay 2020 750ml $89 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
Decanter 95 Points “Beguiling complexity, depth and beauty mark this outstanding Chardonnay from the Wenzlau Family Vineyard in the Sta Rita Hills. In a year when so many of California’s wine regions were devastated by smoke, this wine shows a fresh, airy poise—delicate and precise aromas of crushed chalk, petrichor, sweet white flower pollen and hints of seaspray. The palate is exquisite; a sophistication of flavors and textures collide. A savoury, briny minerality outlines apricot skin, early-season nectarine and subtle hints of bee pollen. The finish is fine, filigreed and fresh.”
Vinous 94 Points “The 2020 Chardonnay Wenzlau Family Vineyard is one of the highlights in this range from Racines. Bright and dynamic, the 2020 is fresh, complex and also quite structured, making for a wonderfully complete wine that captures the essence of this rugged Sta. Rita Hills site. Readers should expect an intensely mineral, savory Chardonnay. I loved it.”
Schafer-Frohlich Stromberg GG Riesling, Nahe 2021 $115 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles arriving
Wine Advocate 98-99 points “The 2021 Stromberg GG offers a bright and pure, enormously radiant and earthy/herbal bouquet of crushed porphyry rocks and concentrated Riesling berry aromas intermingled with iodine notes. Great purity mixed with intensity and complexity. Full-bodied, refined and enormously salty on the palate, this is a compact, fresh and challenging dry Riesling with elegant and rich fruit, great density and no makeup at all. This is a bone dry but juicy wine that represents a long-distance runner with salty grip and tension. Tasted as a sample at the domaine in July 2022. Drink: 2027-2070. (Aug 2022)”
-Stephan Reinhardt 97 points “Take a trip under the volcano! Still a touch of youthful, leesy funk, but that doesn’t distract from the fascinating hibiscus, flint and wild-herb aromas. How this concentration of minerality can be crammed into a silhouette this sleek is also a mystery to me, but clearly it’s possible! Diamond-bright finish that must be tasted to be believed. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drinkable now, but best from 2023. (8/8/22)” -Stuart Pigott
Schafer-Frohlich Felsenberg GG Riesling, Nahe 2021 1.5L $259 pre-arrival special, 3 bottles arriving 97 points “Welcome to the smoke-hole of radically mineral dry riesling! Here is the dark side of the force, in spite of the yellow-grapefruit zest. Very slowly but steadily opens with aeration. So ripe, yet so savagely original, so precise and subtle. The finish is like licking a samurai sword from the hilt to the tip. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drinkable now, but best from 2023. (8/8/22)” -Stuart Pigott
Wine Advocate 96-97 points “From porphyry soils, the 2021 Felsenberg GG offers a pure yet intense and elegant, darker toned and flinty bouquet of crushed stones with plummy notes, delicate spices and herbal notes. Full-bodied, pure and fresh on the palate, with fine tannins and ripe and refined acidity, this is a lush and round but finely tannic and aromatic Felsenberg with enormously salinity on the intense and aromatic, crisp and crunchy finish. Tasted as a sample at the domaine in July 2022. Drink: 2022-2050. (Aug 2022)” -Stephan Reinhardt
Wagner-Stempel Heerkretz GG Riesling, Rheinhessen 2022 $99 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
James Suckling 99 points “Still very young, but with a combination of great concentration, great tension and great minerality, this incredible dry riesling marries all of this with an astonishing gracefulness. With aeration in the glass aromas of a wide spectrum of exotic fruits, curry leaves and Thai basil develop. In spite of this extravagance on the mid-palate it is a prima ballerina standing en pointe. So pure and precise at the super-salty mineral finish you can’t resist. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Wagner-Stempel Hollberg GG Riesling 2022 $79 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
James Suckling 98 Points “The first thing that strikes you is the huge stone fruit ripeness in the nose, but then comes the striking exotic fruit and herb freshness, and when you take the first sip the wet stone intensity and vibrancy are truly staggering. Breathtakingly brilliant mineral finish that’s austere in the best possible way. From organically grown grapes. Drinkable now, but best from 2025.”
“Casa Castillo’s Las Gravas”
“2020 is an exceptional vintage here, the finest they have ever produced” -Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate
In Jumilla, ancient Monastrell vines grow among stony, sparsely-populated hills as though they’ve been neglected since before the Phylloxera outbreak. It seems a land that time and modernity, with all its fickle insistencies, forgot. The results are what might be one of the best sources for unadulterated, rustic flavors in any of the major wine producing countries in Europe. These head trained vines offer up nothing but pure fruit that seems drawn from the core of the plateau and mountains that lift the vineyards above the baking heat of the interior. While there are both low- and high-end representations from this DO, finding quality producers that are making affordable, yet well-crafted and delicious, bottles is difficult. This is where Casa Castillo is hitting the mark.
Originally purchased in 1941, the current owner José Maria Vicente and his father started to revitalize the property and some of their ancient vineyards. The first expansions to the property saw the family experiment with Cabernet Sauvignon (gone now, grafted over to Garnacha) and Syrah (with plant material obtained from JL Chave). But the most important decision was to obtain more high-quality Monastrell. This enabled Casa Castillo to fine tune their style with special blends based upon the different sites and the way the fruit reflected the terroir. These included vineyards with beautiful chalk soils, sites with lovely limestone, and some sites the entirety of which look like a ball pit of sunbaked stones.
The Las Gravas, one of the winery’s old-vine Monastrell bottlings, is both the weightiest bottling yet still comes across as floral and full of life. This is a fun cellar addition as the initial intensity will temper while the softness comes to the fore. Per Luis Gutiérrez of the Wine Advocate, this 2020 may be the best vintage ever produced, showing an unachieved-before ethereal quality that accentuates the inherent minerality and verve from a “classic Mediterranean vintage.” Not only is that reflected in the final score of 98, the highest ever for this wine, but also in his glowing praise:
“Their 2020s represent the finest wines they have produced since they started in 1991. Even the musts showed balance and elegance, and that continued throughout the fermentation and upbringing of the wines that are elegant and fine, with less color and extraction than normal but with great character and depth…”
-Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate
Casa Castillo Las Gravas, Jumilla 2020 750ml $69 pre-arrival special, only 29 bottles available
Wine Advocate 98 points “The phenomenal 2020 Las Gravas was produced with 92% Monastrell from 30- to 40-year-old vines on north-facing gravel soils (hence its name) complemented with 8% Garnacha. It fermented with 30% full clusters and indigenous yeasts in underground stone lagares and matured in a combination of 500-liter barrel and 5,000-liter foudres for 16 months. It has classical parameters, 14.5% alcohol, a pH of 3.47 and 4.87 grams of acidity per liter. The wine is super perfumed and floral, really showy, elegant, nuanced and refined, with the notes of pine needles and wet soil much subtler than in the 2019. There is an ethereal character to the 2020s that I haven’t found in any previous vintage here, but at the same time, the wines are very mineral and have lots of energy and light. There is precision, cleanliness, definition and elegance like I hadn’t seen before and refined tannins with a pungent mineral sensation in the textured finish. This is an incredible wine for the price asked. 35,500 bottles produced. There was a single bottling in February 2022.” -Luis Gutiérrez, Wine Advocate
Arriving November 3rd
“Domaine Bott-Geyl, Alsace”

While Alsace itself has been transferred between France and Germany numerous times over hundreds of years thanks to multiple wars, Domaine Bott-Geyl has been tended by the same family since 1795. With 15 hectares of biodynamically and sustainably farmed vines, current vigneron Jean-Christophe Bott is taking the winery back to its traditions in order to preserve its future.
Bott-Geyl Cremant d’Alsace Paul-Edouard X Brut NV $29 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
Bott-Geyl Metiss Alsace Blanc 2021 750ml $19.50 pre-arrival  special, 24 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 Grand Cru 2013 750ml $45 pre-arrival 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 Grand Cru 2018 750ml $51.90 pre-arrival special, 12 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 Grand Cru 2018 750ml $51.90 pre-arrival 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)”

Best Releases to Date? You Decide!
Castello dei Rampolla’s Sammarco
Arriving Tomorrow

Castello dei Rampolla is one of our go-to estates for big, bold wines from Chianti.  Whether their flagship Chianti Classico or their top-tier “Sammarco,” the wines deliver impressive complexity, depth and power at prices that make them must-have for lovers of Bordeaux, Brunello and everything in between.
Castello dei Rampolla is blessed with some of the best holdings in Panzano’s Conca d’Oro—a warm sub-region of Chianti that allows for naturally powerful wines.  They combine that privileged site with some of the more meticulous biodynamic farming in the region, all in the service of wines with depth, texture and complexity.
The Sammarco is their crown jewel—a Bordeaux-inspired blend that uses a dollop of Sangiovese to bring Cabernet and Merlot to a new level.  The 2017 rivals our recent stock of the 2015 for power and complexity. No need to just take our word for it, just read the reviews:
Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2017 750ml $69 pre-arrival special, only 24 bottles available
James Suckling 98 points “Such beautiful balance and refinement to this legendary red with cherries, chocolate, walnuts, hazelnuts and autumn leaves. It’s medium to full-bodied with wonderful, creamy tannins and a persistent and complete finish. Better than the exquisite 2015? A blend of cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and merlot. Needs three to four years to show all it has. Definitely one for the cellar.”
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Merlot, this delicious, juicy red offers inviting aromas of new leather, blue flower, ripe black-skinned fruit and grilled herb. On the smooth, savory palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins seamlessly support fleshy black cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and tobacco before closing on a mocha note. Drink through 2029.” -Kerin O’Keefe
Vinous 95 points “The 2017 Sammarco is heady, exotic and totally beautiful. It is also not anywhere near ready to show all it’s got. Iron, smoke, red cherry fruit, leather, blood orange and spice are some of the many notes that infuse the 2017 with layers of complexity. Firm, muscular tannins are going to need time to soften. Even so, the 2017 is a rare Sammarco that will require only minimal cellaring, which is why the estate decided to release it ahead of the 2016.” -Antonio Galloni
Wine Advocate 95 points “Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a tiny part Sangiovese, the 2017 Sammarco is lush, generous and soft. This wine captures the spirit of generosity and richness that characterizes this sunny vintage. It reveals softer lines and more pliant contours compared to some of the cooler vintages of the past, and you get a generous down pouring of dark fruit, dried blackberry, cinnamon spice and cured leather or tobacco. The tannins are quite robust, but the wine also shows an immediate and accessible approach that distinguishes this growing season. You might notice that my review for the 2016 vintage is missing. That’s because the 2016 vintage will be released after 2017 when that older wine has benefitted from more cellaring.” -Monica Larner
Close-Out Sales

Vaglio Blanco Tupungato 2020 750ml WAS $16  NOW $14 special, 36+ bottles available
Vaglio Blanco Tupungato 2020 Case of 12 750ml  WAS $169  NOW $149 special, 4 bottles available
Brazos Wine Importer Note “This is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Semillon from El Peral in the Uco Valley, Mendoza. The nose is lively and bright with notes of green apple, pear, whites flowers, and a little green pea. The palate is well balanced with dense fruit and crisp acid.”
Vaglio Chacra Malbec 2018 750ml WAS $16 NOW $14 special, 36+ bottles available
Vaglio Chacra Malbec 2018 Case of 12 750ml bottles WAS $169 NOW $149 special, 4 bottles available
James Suckling 93 Points “A dense, compact malbec with intense, blackberry and wet-earth character. Full body. Creamy texture. Tangy and delicious on the finish. Ends with green tobacco and tar. Excellent.”
Vaglio Temple Malbec 2018 750ml WAS $16 NOW $14 special, 36+ bottles available
Vaglio Temple Malbec 2018 Case of 12 750ml WAS $169 NOW $149 bottles available
James Suckling 93 Points “This is always a delicious red with lots of crushed-berry and walnut character. Full-bodied, dense and juicy. Lots of old-vine character. Succulent.”

United States 
Screaming Eagle The Flight 2019 750ml WAS $1099 NOW $999 special, 5 bottles available
James Suckling 99 Points “Extremely floral and aromatic with violets and lavender throughout. Black olives, too. It’s medium-to full-bodied with firm, very fine-grained tannins that run the length of the wine. Goes on for minutes. A greenish undertone comes out at the end with some spearmint, green tea and green olive. About two-thirds merlot. Best after 2028, but already stunning.”
Caballus Cellars Pinot Noir WV 2014 750ml WAS $79 NOW $59, 30 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 95 Points “Co-winemakers Véronique Drouhin-Boss and Isabelle Dutartre call this “the story of our friendship in a bottle,” and what a fine bottle it is. It’s a full throttle wine, thoroughly expressing the richness and power of the best Oregon Pinot Noirs. Dense and detailed around potent black cherry fruit, it extends itself with lovely threads of toast and coffee, from fermentation with native yeasts, and aging in roughly one-third new French oak.” -Paul Gregutt
Avancia Godello Nobleza VV 2020 750ml WAS $59 NOW $49 special, 9 bottles available
Vinous 94 Points “Pale gold. Intensely perfumed pear nectar and orange zest qualities on the nose; honeysuckle and mineral notes add lift. Juicy, penetrating and sharply focused on the palate, offering concentrated citrus and orchard fruit and floral flavors along with suggestions of salty minerals and bitter quinine. Deftly melds depth and vivacity and finishes extremely long and briny, with outstanding clarity and repeating florality.”-Josh Raynolds
Avancia Mencia VV 2019 750ml WAS $31.90  NOW $29 special, 14 bottles available
James Suckling 92 Points “Dark plums, blackcurrants, grilled herbs, roasted coffee and smoked meat on the nose. Medium-to full-bodied with firm, velvety tannins. Smoky, rich and concentrated. Very smooth-textured. Drink or hold.”
Bodegas Maranones 30,000 Maravedies 2016 750ml WAS $24  NOW $20.90 special, 21 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91+ Points “The fully developed, aromatic and open 2016 30.000 Maravedíes, with nice aromatics and a very pleasant palate. It’s fragrant and elegant, with pungent flavors and very good persistence. This is a superb showing for this bottling. 39,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in July 2017.” -Luis Gutierrez
Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial Rioja 2018 750ml WAS $44  NOW $39 special, 35 bottles available
Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points “The 2018 Muga Selección Especial is 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and the rest Graciano y Mazuelo. It shows the fresher style of the vintage yet has good richness in its cassis and black raspberry fruit profile as well as notes of tobacco leaf, violets, and spicy oak. Straight-up gorgeous on the palate, it shines for its purity, has ultra-fine tannins, and a great finish. I’m a fan.”
Collector’s Corner

La Jota

Rising dramatically from the surrounding fog, Howell Mountain keeps cooler than the Napa Valley below during the day thanks to its altitude, but also keeps warmer at night because of less exposure to moisture. This provides an ideal climate to develop elegant red varietals and the Mountain’s soil is made up of volcano ash that naturally limits yield in the vineyard and focuses flavor.
Founded on Howell Mountain by a European immigrant in 1898, La Jota was later shuttered by the effects of Prohibition, and revived in 1974 as a forward thinking, yet traditional California winery, exchanging zinfandel vines for mostly Bordeaux varietals and exchanging its rusticated Redwood barriques for French Oak.
La Jota W.S. Keyes Chardonnay 2020 750ml $109 special, 6 bottles available
Winemaker’s Note “The 2020 W.S. Keyes Chardonnay opens with a complimentary nose of white peach and other orchard fruit, jasmine, and almond. On the palate, a mineral-drenched core of red and green apples is complicated by maple butter, white pepper, and toast. The overarching compilation of fruit, floral, savory, and spice is remarkable, conveying both energy and richness in this complex bottle.”
La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Franc 2019 750ml $119 special, 12 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 Points “Still based on Bill Smith’s original block from the 1970s, plus some additional plantings, the 2019 Cabernet Franc Howell Mountain is 100% Cabernet Franc. Gentle florals and herbal notes of bay leaf and sage appear on the nose, adding savory complexity to the black cherries and red raspberries. Medium to full-bodied, silky, fine and elegant, this is a perennial favorite, drinkable on release and for a decade or more afterward.”
La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 750ml $128 special, 10 bottles available
Wine Advocate 97 points “A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain was aged for 22 months in oak barrels, 84% new. Deep garnet-purple colored, it explodes from the glass with bombastic black currants, black cherries and boysenberries notes plus underlying hints of violets, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a solid structure of firm, grainy tannins and tons of freshness, finishing long and fragrant.”
James Suckling 96 points “Aromas of pine needles, asphalt, graphite and black fruit follow through to a full-bodied and chewy palate with so much tannin, giving this real Howell Mountain character. It goes on and one. Muscular and in need of time in the bottle to soften. Better after 2024.”
La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 750ml $169 special, 6 bottles available
Vinous 96 Points “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is another superb wine from La Jota. Rich and explosive, the 2019 possesses tremendous density and plenty of mountain power. A Rush of black cherry, blackberry, licorice, spice and menthol builds into the huge finish. This is a fabulous vintage for the La Jota Cabernet.”
La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot 2019 750ml $99 special, 18 bottles available
James Suckling 95 Points “Lots of black olives with some conifer and mushrooms. Raspberries, too. Full-bodied with soft and round tannins. Really savory. Juicy. Drink now.”
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