Vinopolis Newsletter – Wednesday 12/20/2023

 In This Newsletter:

Champagne Re-arrival Round-up
Restocks of Jose Dhondt, Charles Ellner, Champagne Gatinois, Joseph Perrier
New Arrivals

Pierre Gimonnet, Pierre Peters, GD Vajra, and more!
Close-Out Sales
Featuring Spanish wines… lowest prices in the USA
Collector’s Corner

War of the Wines: Dessert Edition

Champagne Re-Arrival Round-up
If you love grower Champagnes (and we know you do!) you cannot allow yourself to miss out on these quality offerings from Domaine José Dhondt. With vineyards in the Grand Cru villages of Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and the Côte de Sézanne village of Saudoy, they produce wines of character and place.
Jose Dhondt Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $49 special, 24 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 Points “A vibrant blanc de blancs in a harmonious frame, this deftly knits a chiseled spine of acidity with raw silklike texture and flavors of plumped white cherry, salted almond, crystallized honey and white blossoms. Mouthwatering finish.”
Wine Advocate 92 Points “The NV Brut Blanc de Blancs flows with the essence of lemon, white flowers, almonds and pears. It is a bright, focused wine backed up with considerable plushness and generosity in its fruit. The Blanc de Blancs should drink beautifully for a number of years.”
Jose Dhondt Vielles Vignes Blanc De Blancs Grand Cru Les Crayeres, Champagne 2015 750ml $79 special, 24 bottles available
Wine Spectator 94 points “[$78 list] A seamless Champagne, with chopped almond and sea salt meeting ripe and juicy apricot and white cherry fruit flavors. There’s a sense of buoyancy to the acidity, working with the fine, lively mousse to lift the flavor range, which expands on the lasting finish to include accents of blood orange sorbet, ground ginger and candied pink grapefruit peel. Disgorged January 2022. Drink now through 2032. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 550 cases made, 100 cases imported. (11/30/22)”
Winery Note “From the Crayeres vineyard in Oger planted by José’s grandfather in 1949, Slow, gentle pressing of the grapes in a traditional press, followed by a 12 to 24-hour decanting period. Fermentation takes roughly three weeks. Vinification is done in small, temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine spends 5 years on lees.”
Considering the market dominance formerly held by the Grand Marques, there is much to be said about smaller negociants. Often combining their family’s holdings with purchased fruit from other vineyards, negociant champagne represents the juxtaposition of art and science that is assemblage. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example of this expertise than the Charles Ellner portfolio. Originally working as a riddler for the other houses, Charles Ellner decided to hold back some of his family’s production for his own project, and the rest is history.
Charles Ellner’s origin as a passion project is clearly evident even to this day: the wines spend double the required time on the lees yet never undergo malolactic fermentation to keep the wine bright and fresh. The resulting wines capture the beauty of autolysis and the freshness of a current vintage along with the juxtaposing toast, fruit and mineral character.
Charles Ellner Seduction Brut Millesime, Champagne 2007 750ml WAS $69, NOW $59 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 92 points 
“A toasty hint of grilled nut adds savory richness to this bright, light-footed Champagne. The firm acidity is well-meshed to notes of yellow plum, candied ginger and lemon curd. Not a powerhouse, but fresh and balanced. Drink now through 2027.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Charles Ellner Cuvee de Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 375ml Was $28, Now $24 special, 18 half-bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 90 points 
“Refined in texture, with persimmon, lemon meringue pie, pickled ginger and almond paste flavors focused by tang of saline minerality and well-cut acidity. Offers a fresh, open-knit finish.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Charles Ellner Brut Rose, Champagne NV 375ml Was $28, Now $24 special, 16 half-bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 91 points
 “A finely balanced, mouthwatering rosé Champagne, with firm acidity backing flavors of tangy cherry, candied strawberry, toast, smoke and spiced plum. Bright and lively, with a clean mineral finish.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
This small 12th generation producer in the Village of Ay in Vallee de Marne is neighbors with famous names like Bollinger, Gosset, and Deutz but continues to fly under the radar, focusing on quality over production.
As the importer Polaner describes “Marked by black cherries and earth, the Gatinois profile is deeply reflective of Pinot-centric blends from the village of Äy. The lineup begins with their lovely, full-bodied NV Brut Tradition, made of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, and aged sur lattes for three years prior to release. While it routinely drinks well on release, it possesses the capability to age well for twelve to fifteen years.”
We heartily agree. These champagnes are focused and fabulous:
Gatinois Ay Grand Cru Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $59 special, 11 bottles available
Tasting Note “With the classic dark cherry notes of Ay Pinot Noir, this Brut Tradition from historic Gatinois family has incredible depth of fruit and a mineral backbone that makes for easy drinking!”
Gilbert & Gaillard “Golden hue. The nose opens up to wonderful fruity notes of pear flesh and red fruits. Full-bodied, melted palate with fine bubbles showcased by persistent freshness. A long, expressive Champagne with real allure, perfect for parties.”
Only listing in the United States Today!
Gatinois Ay Grand Cru Tradition Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $49 special, 6 bottles available
Gilbert & Gaillard “Light gold with iridescent highlights flirting with orange. Crunchy fruit on the nose (apple flesh, red berry fruits). Fleshy, quite full-bodied palate brimming with freshness. Highly expressive, lingering fruit aromas.”
Gatinois Ay Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne NV 750ml $64.50 special, 24 bottles available
Gilbert & Gaillard “Salmon-pink. Focused, fruit-forward nose of raspberry and strawberry. Full, melted and full-bodied palate with precise, intense fruit expression framed by freshness. A nicely crafted rosé Champagne drinking well from the aperitif through to dessert.”
Located in Châlons-en-Champagne, a village in the Marne region of Champagne, the house was founded in 1825 by Joseph Perrier, remaining family-owned to this day and faithfully committed to the traditional methods that made their House famous.
Their dramatic cellars are dug out of ancient Gallo-Roman chalk pits and, uniquely, they are above ground where their wines are aged on lees for up to 3-5 years.
Year after year, we astonished by the quality of these delicious wines!
Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $59 special, 10 bottles available
Roger Voss-Wine Spectator 90 Points “This stylish wine balances crisp fruit with a mineral texture and well-structured acidity. The wine is still young, with a tight, zesty texture and crispness. It should be better from 2019.”‘
Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Vintage Brut, Champagne 2012 750ml $74.50 special, 12 bottles available
Roger Voss-Wine Enthusiast 93 Points “With its poise between toasty, warm maturity and fresh white fruits, this Champagne is at its peak. It has good depth and touches of spice that add complexity and richness to a wine that is now ready to drink.”
These are the best prices in the USA for these wines!
Joseph Perrier Cumieres-La Cote a Bras Blanc de Noirs Vintage Brut Nature, Champagne 2012 750ml $95 special, 10 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 94 Points “This single-parcel Champagne, rich in mature Pinot fruit, is at its best. Its richness is very much in the house style of Joseph Perrier, giving spice, density and satisfying concentration. Drink now.”
New Arrivals


“Gimonnet’s outstanding wines are built on the strength of the terroir that he and his brother have expanded in the heart of the Côte des Blancs. His Spécial Club, for example, is based on Cramant Grand Cru, and includes their 100+ year old vines in the lieux-dits of ‘Le Fond du Bateau,’ and ‘Buissons.’ “Cramant,” says Gimonnet, is “very expressive and round;” Chouilly is similar in style but slightly less concentrated; Cuis is much more “neutral, acid, fresh, aerial:” this north-facing village is the coolest in the Côte des Blancs. These are sapid, crunchy, refreshing Champagnes of acupuncturally tonic qualities with lingering, salty purity.”
Skurnik Wines
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $54.50 special, 11 bottles available
James Suckling 91 points “This delightful Blanc de Blancs marries excellent depth of character – all the citrus, crisp pear and floral aromas of chardonnay – with charm. Properly dry, but very harmonious, thanks to the excellent balance of citrusy freshness and creaminess. Long, clean finish, accentuated by the lively mousse. A cuvee of 2/3rds 2018 with a third of vintages between 2016 and 2011, disgorged in July, 2021. Drink now.”
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils ‘Oenophile Non Dose’ Premier Cru, Champagne 2018 750ml $84.50 special, 9 bottles available
James Suckling 93 Points “For the extremely warm year this is remarkably fresh with very pure lemon blossom and white flower character. A thread of delicate chalky minerality runs through the focused palate, which the fine mousse accents beautifully. A cuvee of wines that are 45% from Cramant, 30% Chouilly, 22% Cuis and 3% Oger. Disgorged in February 2023. Drink or hold.”
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Oger Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $69 special, 11 bottles available
Vinous 92 Points “The NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Oger Grand Cru is laced with crushed rocks, chalk, white flowers, lemon peel and dried herbs. Intensely mineral and saline, this is a super-classic Gimonnet Champagne. Low dosage (5 grams per liter) adds to an impression of tension that gives the wine its overall impression of tension which gives the wine its shape.”
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Special Club Brut Millesime, Champagne 2015 750ml $99 special, 6 bottles available
Vinous 92 Points “The 2015 Brut Spécial Club Oger Grand Cru is an attractive, powerful wine. Citrus peel, white flowers, chalk and the savory notes typical of so many 2015 are nicely laced together. I would give the 2015 a year or two in the cellar to come together, as it is a bit disjointed at present, but I would not wait too long, as flavors that are savory today may very well develop into more overpowering vegetal notes over time. The Oger is a blend taken from the Terres de Noël, Brulis, Champ Nérons and Fondy lieux-dits. Dosage is 4 grams per liter. Disgorged: October 14, 2019.”

“These are sleek, racy Champagnes, expressing a classic character of Côte des Blancs Chardonnay. They are marked by their fine acidity and prominent minerality, yet while they are always brisk and chalky, they are rarely austere, with the possible exception of certain vintages of the Cuvée Spéciale. All of the wines go through malolactic, due to their naturally high acidities: “We have a lot of acidity and a lot of minerality in all our wines,” says Rodolphe Péters. ‘We want to build the structure of our wines around both acidity and minerality, not acidity alone.’ ” -Peter Liem,
Pierre Peters ‘Reserve Oubliee’ Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $128 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 Points “This vinous Champagne is subtle at first, more about the plushly creamy texture and underlying minerality, but lightly mouthwatering acidity buoys notes of ripe white raspberry, salted almond, macerated cherry and hints of spring blossoms and blood orange zest to expand on the palate. A deftly knit and focused version, with a sense of finesse.”
Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ml $59.50 special, 9 bottles available
Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 1.5L $149 special, 1 bottles available
Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 3L $399 special, 1 bottle available
Wine Spectator 93 Points “[Reviewed 2023] Firm and minerally up front, with well-honed acidity and notes of smoke, chalk and oyster shell transitioning as they’re integrated with a creamy range of crunchy pear, ripe green apple, pink grapefruit pith and almond skin flavors, which expand through the midpalate and lightly spiced finish. Elegant, but with good complexity and focus throughout.”
Importer Note “Anticipated assemblage: 2020 base with 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1995-2019, except ‘99 and ‘03; village/vyd Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru, Cramant Grand Cru, Avize Grand Cru and Oger Grand Cru.”
Pierre Peters L’Esprit Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut Vintage, Champagne 2018 750ml $119 special, 2 bottles available
Winery Notes “Our vintage Champagne’s blend elaborated only during the best harvest years originates from 4 single vineyards located in Le Mesnil, Avize, Cramant, Oger (100 % Grand Cru Chardonnay).”
Pierre Peters L’Etonnant Monsieur Victor Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Champagne 2016 750ml $499 special, 2 bottles available
Winery Notes “L’Etonnant Monsieur Victor is above all a Péters’ family project and adventure. This surprising and extraordinary wine goes against the current trend of single-vintage, single-vineyard Champagnes and is elaborated in accordance with the time-tested Champagne savoir-faire of multi-vintage blends. We called upon the talent and passion our son, Victor, to personalize the labels with his artwork enforcing the truly unique character of each and every bottle.”
Only listing in the USA today!


G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2022 750ml $19.50 special, 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 Points “The G.D. Vajra 2022 Barbera d’Alba is a nicely concentrated effort with dark cherry fruit, blackberry and cinnamon-like sensations from the grape skins. With that extra density comes extra fruit weight and a powerful 15% alcohol content. The wine does carry muscle for sure, but the results are firm and tight.”
G.D. Vajra Barbera-Freisa, Piedmont 2021 750ml $21.90 special, 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 Points “In the bottle with the light blue label, this is a blend of 70% Barbera and 30% Freisa. This is another terrific value wine from G.D. Vajra. The 2021 Piemonte Barbera Freisa reveals floral tones, crushed rose, wild fruit, spice and white pepper. This is the kind of super popular wine that sells out before I can write my review. The low sticker price makes this an irresistible deal.”
Best price in the United States today
G.D. Vajra Viola delle Viole Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Piedmont 2021 750ml $31.50 special, 12 bottles available
Vinous 93+ Points “Just bottled, the 2021 Barbera d’Alba Superiore is fabulous. Rich and inky, with tremendous depth, the 2021 is so vibrant in the glass. Red/purplish fruit, lavender, sweet spice and mocha are all dialed up, with a kiss of French oak that adds raciness.”
Wine Advocate 93 Points “I’m told that this is probably the last vintage in which the 2021 Barbera d’Alba Superiore Viola delle Viole will carry the name Viola delle Viole. In yet another unfortunate nod to climate change, Barbera vines suffer from the floral disease Flavescence dorée that causes the plants to shut down and the fruit to remain unripened. Barbera, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the most hard-hit by the sickness. Freisa and Nebbiolo are resistant, and those varieties are planted around the rims of vineyards today as a protective barrier. As a result, Barbera vines in Bricco delle Viole (one of two sites present in this blend, the other being Bricco Bertone outside the Barolo area) were taken out. Barbera tends to produce wines with high alcohol, but the Vajra team prefers to reach optimal fruit maturity and is less concerned about alcohol. The grape always has high acidity, but that is “a problem that is going away on its own,” says Isidoro Vaira. Bricco delle Viole gives the wine its floral aromas and Bricco Bertone adds a sweet almond-like flavor. There is a seven- to eight-day harvest difference between the two sites. This wine ages in large oak casks for 16 months.”
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2021 750ml $18 special, 20 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 Points “Made only in stainless steel, the 2021 Dolcetto d’Alba shows a purplish color with inky concentration. The bouquet is simple and direct with loads of sweet candied cherry, crème de cassis and bitter almond. This is another terrific take on one of Piedmont’s most versatile grapes.”
G.D. Vajra Coste & Fossati Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2022 750ml $21.50 special, 19 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.”
Best price on the West Coast today
“Kyè: the sun or the moon? To us, this is the seduction of Freisa, an ancient local grape that is distinctive, fierce and untamable.” -Milena and Aldo Vaira.
G.D. Vajra Freisa ‘Kye’ Langhe Rosso, Piedmont 2021 750ml $36 special, 20 bottles available
Not reviewed yet, 2019 review provided for reference.
Eric Guido-Vinous  93+ Points “Langhe Freisa Kyè is a gorgeous, exquisite wine. Picking a bit earlier has resulted in a Freisa that emphasizes energy over the more dense style that was in place here prior to 2015. Orange zest, raspberry, mint, sage and dried herbs. The style is more Nebbiolo-like than the more deep, concentrated and at times rustic Freisas of the past.”
This is the only listing in the United States today
G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2022 750ml $21.90 special, 30 bottles available
Not yet reviewed, 2021 review provided for reference.
Antonio Galloni-Vinous 90 Points “The 2021 Langhe Nebbiolo is another terrific entry-level wine from Vajra. Delicate and gracious in the glass, the Langhe Nebbiolo captures the essence of the house style. Bright red-toned fruit, orange peel, mint, crushed rocks and white pepper lend brightness to this elegant, wonderfully translucent Langhe Nebbiolo.”
Best price on the West Coast today
GD Vajra Langhe Rosso 2022 750ml $15.90 special, 29 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.”
G.D. Vajra ‘Clare J.C.’ Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2022 750ml $21.90 special, 36 bottles available
Vinous 93 Points “A profoundly complex blend of crushed blackberries, violets, spice orange peels and sage makes the 2022 Nebbiolo Clarè J.C. a total knockout on the nose. Silky and enveloping with a pretty inner sweetness up front, this impresses further as a wave of wild berry fruit and exotic spice slowly saturates the palate. The 2022 finishes lightly structured yet full of mouth-watering tension. Licorice and purple-toned inner florals gradually fade. Its deep red color and tremendous depth make it hard to classify the Clarè J.C. as a Rosé. That said, its drinkability factor is off the charts.”
Wine Advocate 93 Points “This is one of my favorite go-to wines for informal nights with family and friends. The G.D. Vajra 2022 Langhe Nebbiolo Claré J.C. opens to a lean appearance with bright ruby highlights. It remains true to the grape, in simple or almost transparent terms, with fresh berry fruit, cassis, blue flower and iris. I love the punchy, electric quality of this wine and its streamlined approach. You’ll love it too (and love the low shelf price).”
Best price on the West Coast today
Poderi Luigi Einaudi Nei Cannubi, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ml $99 special, 24 bottle available
Kerin O’keefe-Wine Enthusiast 95 Points “Critic tasting note: “Intensely fragrant, this offers enticing scents of iris, violet and rose that mix with perfumed berry and botanical herbs. It’s loaded with finesse and flavor, doling out raspberry compote, crushed Morello cherry, licorice and a hint of mocha while taut, fine-grained tannins provide support. Fresh acidity keeps it impeccably balanced. Drink 2023–2035.”
Vinous 93 Points “The 2015 Barolo Cannubi is super-polished and elegant. Rich and ample, in the style of the year, the 2015 has quite a bit of volume, but the aromatics and silky tannins are very clearly those of Cannubi. Rose petal, sweet red cherry, blood orange, spice and mint add lovely top notes. Today, the 2015 gives the impression it will drink well early and mature at a relatively fast pace.”
Wine Advocate 93 Points “In increasing order of intensity and structure, we tasted Poderi Luigi Einaudi’s Baroli from Cannubi, Costa Grimaldi (Terlo) and Bussia. This estate will soon add a new Barolo from the Monvigliero cru in Verduno, and that wine will probably come before Cannubi (at the start of the line) in terms of power when it is ready to be presented. The 2015 Barolo Cannubi is a finessed and light-bodied expression with a light and luminous personality that prizes red berry, cassis, blue flower and white licorice. The tannins are silky and tightly textured.”
Poderi Luigi Einaudi Nei Cannubi, Barolo DOCG 2018 750ml $99 special, 12 bottles available
Vinous 93 Points “The 2018 Barolo Cannubi is another terrific wine in this range from Einaudi. There is an effortless, gracious quality to the Cannubi that is impossible to miss. Expressive aromatics meld into a core of creamy, exquisitely layered Cannubi red-toned fruit. Sweet red cherry, red plum, rose petal, mint and blood orange emerge, but only with great reluctance. The 2018 is pretty closed right now, but
that won’t be an issue in another few years’ time.”

Murrieta Reserva Rioja DOCa, Spain 2018 750ml $24 special, 15 bottles available
CS-6 Murrieta Reserva Rioja DOCa, Spain 2018 750ml $138 special, 2 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 Points “The flagship red 2018 Rioja Reserva was produced with a blend of 86% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano, 4% Mazuelo (a.k.a. Cariñena) and 2% Garnacha selected from their 300 hectares of vineyards that exemplifies the character of the vintage and the place. 2018 was a year with good rain and a cool season that resulted in a late harvest, which started on October 1 and was slow and delivered grapes with good freshness. Each variety and plot fermented separately in stainless steel. and the wines aged separately in American oak barrels for 21 months and then settled in concrete until bottling. It follows the path of the 2016, where I noticed a change that is taken further in this, controlling the power and increasing the freshness. It’s very aromatic, a year completely different from the 2017; it has less structure and more freshness and subtler balance and enough oomph, concentration and power neatly compensated by freshness. I believe 2018 was a very good vintage to implement this change. It’s perfumed, fresh, elegant and medium-bodied, with a velvety texture. Superb!”
Tim Atkin 94 Points “The 2108 release is the latest in a line of stylish Reservas from Marqués de Murrieta, all the more impressive when you know that 1.2 million bottles were made. Combining Tempranillo with 8% Graciano, 4% Mazuelo and 2% Garnacha, all of it aged in American oak. Structured, serious and intense, with lots of perfume, racy acidity, wild herb, plum and red berry fruit and a spicy finish. 2023-2032.”
James Suckling 94 Points “Savory cured-meat, tobacco and grilled-spice notes to the bright plum, red-date, cherry and green-olive aromas. Quite a juicy, medium-bodied Rioja with fresh and extremely silky tannins caressing the zesty orange and crunchy red-berry flavors. Nuanced, fluid and effortlessly drinkable. Long and extremely elegant. A vintage that highlights layering and freshness, rather than power and depth. 86% tempranillo, 8% graciano, 4% mazuelo and 2% garnacha. Delicious now, but will hold well.”
Close-out Sales
Spanish wines are already known for their excellent value. With our special pricing, we have these wines at the best prices in the country!
Bodega Maranones Treinta Mil Maravedies, Madrid 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.”

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Daniel Gomez Jimenez-Landi ‘Las Uvas de la Ira’ Garnacha, Mentrida 750ml WAS $39 NOW $31.90 special, 32 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 Points “The red 2018 Las Uvas de la Ira has been produced with Garnacha from the same five vineyards since the initial vintage (2012) in the village of El Real de San Vicente, which is one of the villages from Méntrida (Toledo) that are part of the Gredos Mountains. The vines range between 40 and 65 years of age, and they are located at around 750 meters in altitude on sandy granite soils with lots of silt. The different vineyards are fermented separately in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and a very gentle vinification, one-third with very long macerations to provide structure and depth, one-third with a very short maceration to provide fragrance, and the remaining third finished the fermentation without skins (like a white) to add juiciness. The élevage is in oak foudres of different sizes, from 1,500 to 4,000 liters. This is a little less aromatic and more austere but very focused and bright, from a village where the wines are serious and have a chalky texture, less floral but more citrus, a bit more backward. It has a compact palate, with very fine tannins and a more chalky finish. It’s interesting to taste it next to wines from other villages, as you clearly see the difference.”
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Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial Reserva, Rioja DOCa 750ml WAS $44 NOW $39 special, 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 94 Points “2018 was a cooler vintage, with a fairly long maturation, which made the wines somewhat fresher and less alcoholic, as showcased by the 2018 Selección Especial, a classical blend of the four red varieties from Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with contained ripeness (14.05% alcohol) and good freshness. It fermented in oak casks with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barrels, 40% of them new, for 26 months. They were not very happy with the vintage and had to sort and discard, but as they didn’t produce Prado Enea, Torre Muga or Haro, those grapes went into this wine. They are reluctant about 2018, but I think it was a vintage capable of the best and the worst, and this 2018 is floral, expressive and elegant. It’s medium to full- bodied, with very fine, chalky tannins, combining power and elegance. Amazing! 187,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2021.”
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Familia Nin-Ortiz ‘Planetes de Nin’, Priorat DOCa 2017 750ml WAS $49 NOW $44.50 special, 36+ bottles available
Wine Advocate 95 Points “The 2017 Planetes de Nin comes from the four hectares of 20-year-old Garnacha and 11-year-old Cariñena in the Planetes vineyard in Porrera at 450 meters in altitude. It’s 60% Garnacha (some of it Peluda) and the rest Cariñena, harvested early. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in 3,200-liter oak vats and one 1,000-liter amphora for 17 months. It has depth and harmony, and the vines are getting older and seem to be better and better balanced. This is not that different from the 2016; it feels quite stable and has its style and character, especially since the 2015 vintage. 9,704 bottles were filled in April 2019.”

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Familia Nin-Ortiz ‘Nit de Nin’ Mas d’en Cacador, Priorat DOCa 2017 750ml WAS $99 NOW $89 special, 36+ bottles available
Wine Advocate 97+ Points “The 2017 Nit de Nin Mas d’en Caçador is a vintage they talk about like this: “We will remember this vintage as one of the most extreme of the decade, along with that of 2012. It is in years like these that the work we do in the field is rewarded. In spite of the climatic exceptionality, we have acidity and pH that seem like a miracle to us. Our vines did not suffer the severe frosts of this 2017.” The wine has lower alcohol than the 2016 but the same pH of 3.3; insultingly young and tender, it doesn’t feel like the wine had a long élevage in oak. It has kept very good freshness and great balance. It’s tasty, pungent and long, with power and elegance and all the components to develop nicely in bottle.”
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Dominio de Pingus ‘Pingus’, Ribera del Duero 2019 750ml WAS $1,199 NOW $1,049 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 99 Points “I tasted the bottled 2019 Pingus two weeks after bottling. Even at this early stage and after the operation, the wine is super harmonious and elegant. They really outdid themselves here and produced an amazingly fresh, aromatic and harmonious wine in a warm vintage. It’s incredibly textured, with refined, very fine-grained and chalky tannins. It’s very balanced, and there’s no excess of anything; it has 14% alcohol, perfect ripeness and a velvety mouthfeel. It gets more floral with time in the glass, getting nuanced and really interesting. It delivers what the barrel sample promised one year ago, when the wine already surprised me. I think the word that best describes this wine is precision—it’s clean, focused, balanced and delineated. Bravo!”
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Bodegas Contador – Benjamin Romeo ‘La Vina de Andres Romeo’, Rioja DOCa 2004 750ml WAS $199 NOW $179 special, 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 98 Points “There are a mere 200 bottles of the 2004 La Vina de Andres Romeo. This wine is tightly wound and remains an infant developmentally. Nevertheless, all the ingredients for greatness are present but it will take a decade of cellaring for them to be full expressed. This sensational effort should easily drink well for 40-50 years like a great first growth Bordeaux.”
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Collector’s Corner
War of the Wines: Dessert Edition
Two of the world’s best dessert wine styles
Two of the top producers in the World!
Kopke Colheita Tawny, Portugal 1999 750ml $59 special, 4 bottles available
Jamie Goode-Wine Anorak 94 Points “Complex, spicy and raising with an appealing saline edge. Some lovely savoury notes developing here. Has warmth and complexity.”
Wine Spectator 92 Points “Quite lively, with energetic acidity rippling from start to finish, allowing the raisin, dried plum, green tea, ginger and roasted almond notes to race along in lockstep. The tightly focused finish has excellent length. Drink now.”
Kopke Colheita Tawny 1978, Portugal 750ml $119 special, 10 bottles available
Nick Room-Iwsc 97 Points “Excellent in all aspects. Caramel and molasses on the nose, palate abundant with deeper toffee, vanilla and ripe prune. Cedar spices combine with fine citrus fruit around a red fruit core. Balanced and with further evolution still to come. Seriously good.”
Mark Squires-Wine Advocate 94 Points “The 1978 Colheita Tawny Port was bottled in 2015 with 119 grams per liter of residual sugar and a bar top cork (typical for the house). It is very graceful for its age, finishing with a wave of sweetness, fruit and sugar. Emphasizing the caramel more than the molasses, this is irresistibly delicious, but it becomes more complex and puts on weight as it airs and warms. The wine shows off its power and hints of Brandy on the rather tense finish, too. Overall, this is a beauty that becomes more impressive the longer you sit with it. Then, you realize that its balance is simply perfect, yet it stands out in most every category. This is very fine and the price is pretty nice for the age and the quality.”
Roger Voss-Wine Enthusiast 94 Points “Not one of the generally declared vintages for Port, this year produced some ripe, sweet single quinta vintages. It also was a good year for rich, sweet tawnies. This is ripe, toffee-like in character packed with ripe raisin and sultana flavors. It is a luxurious wine, of course ready to drink.”
Kopke Colheita Tawny 2007, Portugal 750ml $41.90 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Spectator 91 Points “Warm toffee, cinnamon and ginger notes glide through, enhanced by a light streak of juniper. Ends with accents of dark tea and a flash of bitter almond. Drink now.”
Mark Squires-Wine Advocate 90 Points “The 2007 Colheita Tawny Port comes in with 112 grams per liter of residual sugar. This is a friendly and easy ten-year Tawny, with a bright feel and an elegant mid-palate. It finishes well, tasty and fresh. There’s nothing overly complicated here, but it is impossible to dislike.”
Kopke Colheita Tawny 2005, Portugal 750ml $49 special, 4 bottles available
Wine & Spirits 93 Points “Cool and refined upfront, this is polished and posh with sweet plum and vanilla scents in the middle. Then it gets a sunny lift in the end, lasting on honeycomb and notes of dried apricots. A gracious and refined way to end a holiday meal.”
Royal Tokaji Essencia, Tokaj, Hungary 2009 375ml $999 special, 6 bottles available
Neal Martin-Vinous 99 Points “The 2009 Tokaji Essencia comes in 1,386 individual red lacquer hand-crafted boxes containing a 375ml bottle and an obligatory hand-blown glass spoon, which is not there for decorative purposes. It does enhance imbibement, allowing that enormous hit of sucrosity to land straight on the tongue instead of clinging to the sides of your mouth or gums. It has a surprisingly bashful nose for the first 12 hours. Whereas some burst from the glass, this chooses to unfurl and only as if toying with you, gradually reveals scents of fresh fig, Medjool dates, Seville orange marmalade and Clementines. I notice that the aromatics blossom on the second day as it deftly slips into fifth gear. The palate also meliorates, obviously unctuous and yet paradoxically weightless thanks to that acidity. Again, fig features prominently allied with marmalade, demerara and quince, more desiccated orange peel and syrup towards the harmonious finish. Wonderful precision throughout, this magnificent Essencia that will outlast you and I.”
James Suckling 99 Points ” Wine does not get more concentrated, dense and viscous than this Tokaji Essencia, but alongside the unctuous sweetness, it also has extraordinary freshness. The fruit aromas range from blood to quince jelly, but there’s also a slew of spices and notes of flowers and forest honey. Although it barely has 2% alcohol, it is much more vinous than that figure suggests. Titanic brulee character at the huge finish. Just 1,386 half-bottles were made. Should live longer than any of us! Drink or hold.”
Royal Tokaji ‘Szt. Tamas’ Aszu 6 Puttonyos, Tokaj, Hungary 2017 500ml $112 special, 8 bottles available
Neal Martin-Vinous 95 Points “The 2017 Tokaji Szt. Tamás 6-Puttonyos comes from red-clay topsoils in the commune of Mád. This is more backward compared to the Mézes Mály, and very much more citrus-driven, featuring lemon peel, orange zest and crushed stone aromas; the Aszú element is more discreet. The fresh, vibrant palate is well balanced and harmonious, offering a fine bead of acidity and candied orange peel toward the finish. Edgier than Royal Tokaji’s other 2017s, and perhaps spicier on the finish, this will be fascinating to observe mature in bottle. 3,635 bottles produced.”
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