Brunier Family Values (Royals of the S. Rhone)
The 2016 Vintage in Review
2016 in Germany – Charming, Delicious, Vibrant
2016 in Chablis – Classic, Rich, Mineral
Clouet’s Excellent Value Champagne
Tete de Cuvee
The Top Wines in Champagne
Perfect for New Year’s and Beyond
In Stock Now:
Krug Vintage Brut, Champagne 2004 750ML ($299.95) $248 special
Krug Vintage Brut Gift Box Packaged , Champagne 2004 750ML ($299.95) $259 special
Antonio Galloni 97+ points “Krug’s 2004 Vintage is absolutely mesmerizing. Layers of bright, chiseled fruit open up effortlessly as the wine fleshes out with time in the glass. Persistent and beautifully focused, with a translucent sense of energy, the 2004 captures all the best qualities of the year. Moreover, the 2004 is clearly superior to the consistently underwhelming 2002 and the best Krug Vintage since 1996. Readers who can find it should not hesitate, as it is a magical bottle.”
Wine Advocate 97 points “Combining subtleness with complexity, the coolish Krug 2004 Brut opens with a highly elegant, fascinatingly clear, bright and refreshing bouquet of ripe (apple) fruits. Dense and round, with a delicate mineral soul, the pure but perfectly balanced 2004 reveals great finesse and weightless elegance with a long and round finish. This is a gorgeous Krug vintage that is 14 years old but still on the rise. Tasted from ID 316034 in New York in November 2018.”-SR
Decanter 97 points “This is the current and latest vintage release from Krug, and is a fitting successor to 2002, though it’s very different in style – unusually, the blend contains more Chardonnay than Pinot Noir. Despite this, it is hallmark Krug with its oxidative profile. It has a luminous freshness and good density without heaviness. There’s a controlled power to this poised, vinous, linear 2004, displaying candied fruits, minerals, gingerbread, white chocolate, caramel and marzipan. This has a long, dry autolytic finish, great balance and lovely bead. Disgorged just after the next, and very different, vintage we tasted, the Krug 2003. Drinking Window 2017-2037.”
“nearly impossible to resist”
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne 2007 750ML ($179.95) $159 special
James Suckling 98 points “This is a step up from the linear and fresh 2006. It shows subtle depth and power with a dense block of vivid fruit that’s highlighted with lemon zest, green apples and hints of white peaches. Just the right amount of praline and nuts on the nose. Fine and tight bead give the Champagne a luxurious mouthfeel. One for now or the cellar. Drink or hold.”
Antonio Galloni 96 points “Taittinger’s 2007 Comtes de Champagne will be nearly impossible to resist upon release. Soaring aromatics, mid-weight structure and soft contours give the 2007 its alluring personality. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint, chamomile and green pear add brightness and freshness throughout, with a persistent, clean finish that makes it impossible to resist a second taste. Today, the 2007 comes across as a slightly more open version of the 2004, with freshness that makes that wine so appealing, and a touch of textural richness that recalls the 2002. Although the 2007 does not have the explosive energy or verticality of the profound 2006, it will drink better earlier. The 2007 has been positively brilliant on the three occasions I have tasted it so far.”
Wine Advocate 95 points “Taittinger’s prestigious Comtes de Champagne is composed entirely of Chardonnay grapes from the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger (Côte des Blancs). The citrus-golden colored 2007 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is the fourth in a row after the 2004 vintage (which will be followed by 2008 whereas there will be no Comtes from 2009, 2010 and 2011) and opens with a nobly intense yet nuanced bouquet of ripe fruits, chalk, iodine and a touch of brioche. The wine indicates a coolish and precise character on the clear, flinty nose that develops lemon, pastry and floral notes. On the palate, this is Taittinger at its best: clear, fresh, lush and elegant, offering both sensuality and noble elegance. The 2007 reveals great finesse and is a perfect expression of both the Taittinger style and the Côte de Blancs. The wine (of which 5% has spent four months in oak barrels to give roundness and a touch of toast) is tightly woven, well concentrated and even juicy yet always clear, fresh, pure, fine and elegant. The finish is intense, clean, vivacious and complex, with good grip and lingering salty minerals that indicate good aging potential. Disgorged in October 2017; tasted in May 2018.”
First tranche of Case-6 pricing sold out! Second tranche re-arrives Monday
Dom Perignon Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($199.95) $149 special
Case-3 Dom Perignon Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($499.95) $399 special (that’s only $133/bottle!)
Case-6 Dom Perignon Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($999.95) $769 pre-arrival special (that’s only $128.17/bottle—the lowest listed price in the country!) [Case-6 re-arriving Monday]
Antonio Galloni 97 points “The 2006 Dom Pérignon is a beautifully balanced, harmonious Dom Pérignon that strikes an incredibly appealing stylistic middle ground. Rich, voluptuous and creamy, the 2006 shows off fabulous intensity in a style that brings together the ripeness of 2002 with the greater sense of verve and overall freshness that is such a signature of the 2004. Bass notes and a feeling of phenolic grip on the finish recall the 2003, as the Pinot Noir is particularly expressive today. After an irregular summer that saw elevated temperatures in July followed by cooler, damp conditions in August, more favorable weather returned in September, pushing maturation ahead and leading to a long, protracted harvest. The 2006 falls into the family of riper, more voluptuous Dom Pérignons, but without veering into the level of opulence seen in vintages such as 2002.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2006 Dom Pérignon comes from a very rich vintage with an early ripeness that brought a lot of aromatic maturity. The white-golden prestige cuvée contains a bit more Chardonnay than Pinot Noir and opens with a deep and seductive, pretty accessible nose with intense yet fresh fruit aromas of pineapples, with peaches and tangerines. Lively and elegant on the palate, this is a full-bodied, unusually aromatic and fruity DP with a long and tension-filled expression.”
“A mind-blowing wine”
Dom Perignon Rose, Champagne 2005 750ML ($379.95) $259 special
James Suckling 99 points “A mind-blowing wine. This is super subtle and intense with aromas of peaches, light strawberry and cream. Also shows rose petal and cooked peaches. Medium to full body, with ultra-fine tannins that feel like fine silk. The finish goes on for mintutes. It floats across the palate. The winemaker says the closet vintage to this is the 1990, but I think this is better.”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2005 Dom Pérignon Rosé is intriguing, complex and multi-faceted. Brisk and refreshing, with a slightly herbal (but not unpleasant character), the 2005 is superb today. Over time, the wine has acquired a bit more depth and body than it showed at the outset. Even with all of its depth, though, I would not suggest cellaring the 2005 too long given the challenges of the year. Hints of blood orange, mint, sage and dried flowers add the closing shades of nuance.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “This rosé Champagne is rich and vinous, offering smoky minerality up front, expanding to show dried raspberry, mandarin orange zest, brioche and espresso crème flavors that ride the fine, lacy mousse. Spice and mineral details persist on the racy finish. Drink now through 2027.”
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “This Champagne is beautifully mature, its ripe fruit and soft texture magnified by toast and yeast. Rich and full bodied, its fine acidity keeps it in great condition. With a crisp aftertaste that gives it a delicious lift, it’s ready to drink now.”
Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2004 1.5L ($2199.95) $1999 special
The 2004 vintage was bottled exclusively in magnum. Only 300 magnums were bottled. 100% Chardonnay from two parcels in the Grand Cru of Avise. Disgorged 26 April 2017.
Brunier Family Values
Royals of the Southern Rhone
Any lover of French wine knows the name Vieux Telegraphe. One of the benchmark names in Chateauneuf du Pape, its wines are legendary for their complexity and longevity. Despite the fame of Telegraphe, the other projects from the Brunier family (owners, winemakers, etc. of VT) remain under the radar.
The most notable other property that the Bruniers own and make wine from is the venerable Chateau la Roquete—another producer in Chateaunuef, purchased in 1986. Best known for big, rich white wines, the estate sits on the Piedlong plateau and is the source for the new “Piedlong” bottling from the family. Where Telegraphe sits in the La Crau subzone of Chateauneuf du Pape and is known for stern, powerful wines, Piedlong is best characterized by the elegance its sandy soils provide the wines. Rayas’ Pignan bottling is probably the best known example, and the Brunier wine shares a lot of the same traits as its much more expensive neighbor, including exceptional early drinkability and gorgeous aromatics.
The final estate that the Brunier family (co-)owns is the Gigondas producer Les Pallieres, a joint venture with their longtime importer Kermit Lynch. The Pallieres wines seem to share a direct lineage to VT in style and winemaking—resolutely traditional and long lived. We’re giant fans of everything they produce and stock as many of these wines as we can. We just recently received fresh stock on all of the different Chateauneufs—perfect for winter drinking.
In Stock Now:
Domaine La Roquete Chateauneuf-du-Pape Clos La Roquete Blanc, Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $36 special
Wine Spectator 94 points “Intense, with creamed papaya, Cavaillon melon and Jonagold apple flavors pouring forth, underscored by heather honey, almond and salted butter notes. The long finish has a bitter citrus hint to help the length match the weight. Drink now through 2019. 100 cases imported.”
The average price is $49
Wine Spectator 95 points “This has a lovely, perfumy mix of savory, mint, tobacco, blood orange, cherry and bergamot notes, with finely beaded acidity and silky but ample structure. Long, mineral- and shiso leaf-infused finish. Best from 2020 through 2035.”JM
Wine Advocate 94 points “The flagship wine, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 5% other permitted varieties. It features delicate floral scents and ample cherry and licorice aromas. Somehow, it manages to be full-bodied and almost creamy in texture but without much weight, then it ends powerfully, with a flourish of rich Mexican chocolate on the long, silky finish. It should drink well for up to 20 years.”Piedlong Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
James Suckling 95 points “10 hectares of elevated Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is an hommage to grenache with just a hatful of mourvèdre. Ripe raspberry and red plum pastry aromas. Super silky, plush and layered. Extremely impressive. Shows fluidity and balance, density and lightness. 50% stalks (crushed).”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 92 points “Dark ruby. Candied red berries, cherry compote and potpourri on the highly pungent nose; a mineral element adds vivacity. Energetic black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show excellent clarity and a hint of licorice pastille that builds as the wine opens up. The energetic finish repeats the floral and mineral notes, while supple tannins lend shape and grip.”
Wine Spectator 90 points “Offers a taut, slightly sinewy feel, with cedar-laced grip cutting through the core of dried cherry, red currant and raspberry flavors. Displays a lightly chalky spine on the finish, with an ample tobacco note.”
Enough time has passed that it’s now possible to properly evaluate 2016 and the only conclusion we can draw is that 2016 was a fantastic to legendary vintage nearly everywhere in the wine world. While 2016 brought a lot of tumult and troubles around the world outside of wine, none seemed to visit the quality of the wines produced during that year.
We’ll look back at a number of great regions over the next few newsletters around the New Year, and this edition we’ll be focusing on two fantastic white wine regions from 2016—Chablis and Germany. If you missed our retrospective on the Northern Rhone or the Willamette Valley, you can click here to view that newsletter on our website.
2016 in Germany
Charming, Delicious, Vibrant
In Stock Now:
Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe 2016 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling.com 97 points “The 2016 Hermannshöhle GG from Dönnhoff is once again one of the top dry rieslings of the vintage in Germany thanks to its stunning combination of concentration and finesse. The super-mineral finish tugs at your lapels trying to pull you with it into the distance. Don’t resist! Good for several decades at least.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “From weathered gray carbon slate, the 2016 Nahe Riesling Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle “GG” is excitingly pure, coolish, fresh and crystalline on the nose, where flinty scents are displayed and intermix with ripe, precise and subtle fruit aromas. This is an aristocrat! Full-bodied, intense and lush on the palate, this is a highly elegant Riesling with very fine crystalline acidity and lingering piquancy. Dense and aromatic on the aftertaste but far too young to be enjoyed today, keep it at least for another 5 years.”
Grapelive 96 points “The 2016 Donnhoff Hermanshohle GG starts with subtle white flowers, loads of flinty spicy mineral and stone leading to a brisk youthful palate of steely citrus, peach and green apple with a core of lime, white currant, a hint of gooseberry and citron that highlights the extract. While tight, focused and compact now, it looks set to be a classic. Lingering melon, faint mango, saline and wet stone adds to the complexity of detail in a wine of true potential. I hope I get a chance to re-visit this beauty in 10 years, in the meantime don’t miss Donnhoff’s the Krotenpfuhl Kabinett, a stellar value. This Hermannshohle GG should be in your cellar when released this fall, it has a rewarding future, I’d put it in the same league as Roulot Meursault and Raveneau Les Clos quality wise, drink from 2022-2035.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Case-6 Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese, Nahe 2016 750ML ($399.95) $259 special (that’s only $43.17/bottle—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling.com 96 points “Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that’s still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it’s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably clean in spite of the generous grape sweetness in this masterpiece of elegance. Better from 2018 with decades of ageing potential. Made from organic grapes and Fair’n Green certified.”
David Schildknecht-Vinous 94 points “A fascinatingly multifaceted nose incorporates wet stone, leather and almond extract with more familiar white peach, quince and lime. A seductive aura of lily-like perfume hangs over this entire performance. The palate is palpably dense despite alcoholic levity, and subtly creamy while retaining animating primary juiciness. In common with its Brücke sibling, this leans more toward quince as it launches into a finish of honeyed richness – a function of nearly overripe but also nearly botrytis-free berries – yet retaining freshness as well as transparency to crystalline stony mineral nuances. “Under the right conditions,” observed Dönnhoff, “Hermannshöhle delivers something extra in the realm of sweetness, and for that you need cool nights that preserve slightly harder acidity” – which 2016 delivered in spades. Look for significantly more from this bottling after it’s had a decade or so in bottle.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2016 Nahe Riesling Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Spätlese is bright, fresh and coolish-piquant on the nose, with flinty and slightly reductive aromas. Lush and piquant on the palate, this is a generous, mouth-filling Spätlese with a long, piquant and spicy-mineral finish. The Hermannshöhle is more dense and rich on the palate, the Brücke more light, delicate and finessed.”Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2016 Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken has a lovely clear and flinty-scented white stone fruit aroma with refreshing slate notes. Clear, lush and intense on the palate, this is a light but pretty complex and remarkably well-defined Kabinett in the off-dry style. Very digestible and with stimulating grip and salinity. 10.5% alcohol.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 91 points “On the nose, this displays sea breeze and sweaty salinity, anticipating the savory mineral and animal aspects that follow on a buoyant palate brimming with juicy fresh apple. Tinglingly salty, stony notes and a faintly peppery impingement enliven a buoyant, mouthwatering, refreshing finish that just barely hints at sweetness. Once again, this is a model of its type, and I wish the Selbachs raised other such halbtrocken bottlings that combine levity with efficacious yet genuinely hidden residual sugar.”
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling.com 91 points ” This has the imprint of the sun and shadow, the rain and hot slate stones of the Mosel vineyards in it. A delicate wine with inspiring freshness. Drink any time between now and 2030.”
The next best price is $25.99
Case-12 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($289.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle!)
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “Opening with nice reduction but precise and ripe fruit as well as crunchy slate aromas on the nose, the 2016 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett is pure and flinty, well-structured and quite aristocratic (though a frivolous aristocrat), with a firm structure, lush fruit and a lovely lightness and buoyancy. Very stimulating and mouthwatering, but it’s far too young to appreciate the full complexity it will deliver in a couple of years. Salty, grippy and fruity—just a perfect Kabinett.”
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling.com 91 points “Super-fresh and vibrant with a cool, mineral-herbal personality and a very clean, long finish. You could drink it any time during the next decade, but why wait?”
Mosel Fine Wines 90+ points “The 2016er Zeltinger Schlossberg Kabinett was harvested at 86-87° Oechsle. It develops a slightly ripe nose of pear puree, herbs and spices. The wine is nicely playful and delicately infused with herbs on the palate and leaves a juicy feel in the direct and elegant finish. This is still reduced and will need some time to develop its full potential. 2026-2041.”
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David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “This is the exception to 2016’s relatively narrow range of must weights and acidity chez Merkelbach, having been harvested at 98 Oechsle and finished with only 6.3 grams of acidity. “These were really thin-skinned berries,” explained Alfred Merkelbach, “and as a result there was a lot of shriveling,” albeit without benefit of botrytis. Quince and strawberry preserves on the nose, accompanied by scents of heliotrope and lily, translate into a glycerol-slicked palate performance loaded with inner-mouth perfume. Hints of white raisin as well as a savory suggestion of browned butter add appeal to a lingering finish that compensates for its lack of animating brightness with an invigorating hint of seed-crunching bite. (Amusingly – it couldn’t happen often – the Merkelbachs ended up stopping this at precisely the same 71.4 grams of residual sugar as the A.P. #11.)”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “I harbor fond memories of halbtrocken Merkelbach Würzgartens long past, so perhaps you’ll think I was overly influenced simply by having once again seen those words on a bottle of their Riesling. But its contents certainly left me wishing that they would let this happen in their cellar more often. A classic Würzgarten nose of fresh strawberry and lime adds hints of more Erden-typical tarragon and sassafras. Subtly silken in feel, this finishes buoyant and lusciously long, with animating, bright primary juiciness and transparency to shimmering impingements of stones and mineral salts. Incidentally, it weighs in at a mere 10% alcohol, a reminder that the Merkelbachs pick for Spätlese at must weights that most of today’s top Mosel growers would deem appropriate for Kabinett. A prime example of what I call “hidden sweetness” – residual sugar playing a supportive and catalytic role while not engendering any overt sense of sweetness – this will perform brilliantly at table as well as in your cellar.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “The 2016er Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese AP06 was harvested at a refreshingly light 84° Oechsle in a parcel in the Fischerei sector situated upstream of the village of Ürzig. It offers a gorgeous nose of ripe pear, raspberry melon and spices. A great citrusy feel brings great freshness to the palate where more ripe and juicy fruits come through. The finish is delicate and elegant, with gorgeous fruity and spicy flavors in the after-taste. 2026-2041.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 91 points “Picked at the same low must weight as its A.P. #5 sibling, this offers even more brightness of fresh lime to accompany its site-typical and lusciously ripe kiwi fruit. And like that sibling, the combination here of refreshment, levity and subtle creaminess engenders a flatteringly chiffon-like palate impression. Yet there is a soothing sense of glycerol-richness as well. A glaze of quince preserves enhances the impression of ripeness on the lusciously lingering, subtly wet stone-tinged finish. Incidentally, this comes from some of the few young Merkelbach vines, trained on wires rather than to the traditional single posts.”Weingut Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #10, Mosel 2016 750ML ($44.95) $39 special
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2016 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese (AP #10) is one of three Spätlesen that were selected in 2016. The wine has a very clear and smoky bouquet of perfectly ripe, healthy Riesling berries and yellow-fleshed stone fruits. Round, lush and piquant, this is a very elegant and stimulating Spätlese with lingering, mouthwatering salinity. The wine is complex but not all too intellectual. It has a ripe but coolish-elegant character with a long, well-structured finish.”
Dr. H. Thanisch (VDP) Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Kabinett has a lovely clear and aromatic stone fruit bouquet with coolish, flinty slate aromas. Lush, round and highly attractive on the palate, this is a very elegant and charming Doctor with a seriously mineral, stimulatingly salty finish. Tasted March 2018.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “Musky, sweaty notes mingle with scents of ripe pear, white peach, decadent freesia and lily. The palate impression is lusciously fruity, subtly sweet, faintly creamy and extremely delicate – perfectly suited to the prominence of inner-mouth perfume. The finish features striking lift along with inhalative flavor retention. (Breathing in and out after spitting – or swallowing – it’s almost as if the wine hadn’t left your mouth.)”
Mosel Fine Wines 91+ points “The 2016er Doctor Kabinett offers a gorgeous nose of grapefruit, pear, white peach and aniseed herbs. The wine offers a nice balance on the palate, with great elegance and finesse as minerals, herbs and pear lead the aromatic profile right into the playful finish. This is still slightly broad (as Doctor wines often are in their youth) but the wine hints already at great potential. It could easily exceed our initial high expectations as it gains in focus at maturity. 2031-2046”
In Stock Now:
William Fevre Chablis, Burgundy 2016 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Stephen Tanzer 88-90 points “(just 18 hectoliters per hectare produced): Hazy medium yellow. At once more fruity and more exotic than the Champs Royaux, offering scents of orange zest, lemon, mango and lichee. Fat, round, rather large-scaled wine with serious volume for a village offering, but kept fresh by a streak of limey acidity. Finishes with noteworthy persistence. This will be good in six months but needs time to knit.”
Burghound 88-90 points “A ripe and fresh nose offers up notes of iodine, oyster shell, mineral reduction, pear and plenty of citrus influence. There is fine density to the concentrated and sappy flavors that possess fine volume while delivering very good length and solid depth. Good stuff and worth a look.”
Domaine Louis Michel & Fils Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru 2016 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Stephen Tanzer–Vinous 91-93 points “Healthy pale-medium yellow. Musky lime zest, hazelnut and minerals on the nose, with a suggestion of riper fruits. The most complex of these 2016s in the mouth, displaying lovely breadth, refinement and inner-mouth energy to its rich yellow fruit and mineral flavors. A crushed stone quality gives firmness and cut to the wine’s long finish. Really spreads out and vibrates on the lively back end. Nicely done.”
The next best price is $85
Domaine Faiveley Les Preuses, Chablis Grand Cru 2016 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Samuel Billaud Montee de Tonnerre, Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Neal Martin-Vinous 92 points “The 2016 Chablis Montée de Tonnerre, which underwent 15 months in barrel, has a lovely dried honey and beeswax scented bouquet that gains intensity with aeration. The palate is very well balanced with a fine bead of acidity, fresh and vibrant with a tangy, saliva-inducing saline finish that feels very persistent. Excellent.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 90-93 points “The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre comes from two parcels, one in the titular vineyard and the other in Chapelot, not far from Raveneau. It has quite a stern, focused, flinty bouquet that needs coaxing from the glass. The palate is (again) well balanced with a fine line of acidity. There are subtle notes of white peach and orange zest in situ, although perhaps not quite exuding the persistence of the Mont de Milieu on the finish. Still, this will merit three or four years in bottle.”
Samuel Billaud Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes, Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 91-93 points “The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons Vieilles Vignes comes from 70-year-old vines raised only in stainless steel. I like the aromatics here…this has a sense of purpose with vivid scents of orange zest and a touch of lychee. The palate is tensile right from the start thanks to that killer line of acidity. There is great depth here and the harmonious finish feels assured and elegant. Great potential and for me this is a serious step up from the Chablis Village and certainly worth the few extra dollars.”
Samuel Billaud Mont de Milieu, Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Neal Martin-Vinous 92 points “The 2016 Chablis Mont de Milieu 1er Cru was harvested between 25 and 30hl/ha, with 20% aged in wood the rest in stainless steel for 18 months. The slightly longer élevage engenders a more complex bouquet than the Montée de Tonnerre with yellow fruit, green apple, chalk and light musky scents that are very well defined. The palate is very well delineated with a crisp bead of acidity, poised and saline in the mouth and just when you think it will fan out, it segues into a linear and classically lined, understated finish. Excellent.”
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 91-93 points “The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu comes from three different types of vineyards at different altitudes and vine age that are blended together in the vineyard. It has a slightly austere bouquet with fine delineation: granite and flint scents. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity and is very precise and harmonious, with hints of quince and apricot toward the pretty finish. This is another very elegant wine from Samuel Billaud.”
Burghound 90-92 points “Sweet Spot – Outstanding: Here too there is a whiff of mineral reduction sitting atop the ever-so-mildly exotic aromas of white peach, citrus rind, spice and enough classic Chablis character to be persuasive. There is notably better energy to the bigger, richer and more concentrated flavors that coat the palate with dry extract while also delivering superior depth and persistence. This is lovely stuff and worth checking out.”
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points “(50% fermented in oak; from a yield of 35 hectoliters per hectare): Pale green-tinged yellow. Wonderfully expressive, pungent, classic Kimmeridgian nose offers scents of lime, grilled almond and iodiney minerality. Round, plush and seamless on the palate, with its juicy citrus fruit and ginger flavors lifted by minerality. This silky, sedate, rich wine has no corners and seems almost too easy and expressive today for grand cru. But it also has the stuffing and balance to age, and a finishing element of brown spices provides lift.”
Stephen Tanzer 93-95 points “Very pale green-tinged yellow. Classic Chablis scents and flavors of white peach, ginger, oyster shell, iodine and flint. Highly concentrated, tactile wine offering an impression of strong dry extract and a compelling combination of pliancy and energy. A very powerful, structured Chablis with a long, chewy, saline finish. Really saturates the palate without leaving any impression of weightiness. Offers splendid potential.”
Burghound 92-94 points “A super-fresh, cool and admirably pure nose exhibits notes of iodine, citrus, white rose petal, sea breeze and mineral reduction scents. Like several wines in the range I very much like the lovely texture of the energetic medium weight flavors that also possess fine concentration before terminating in an intensely saline-infused, balanced and wonderfully long finale.”Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2016 750ML ($179.95) $149 special
Stephen Tanzer 93-95 points (just 18 hectoliters per hectare produced owing to frost and mildew): Pale yellow. Lovely brisk citrus and apple aromas complicated by gingery spices, white pepper and iodiney minerality. Large-scaled, dense and quite powerful but not yet filled in, with its very concentrated peach and citrus flavors accented by ginger and white pepper. More glyceral in the early going than the Preuses but showing less personality today. This fruit was picked very ripe, with nearly 13% potential alcohol, according to Didier Séguier.
Burghound 92-95 points “An even more complex nose displays excellent Chablis typicity with its combination of citrus, white orchard fruit, sea breeze, mineral reduction and soft oyster shell nuances. The broad-shouldered flavors are rich and concentrated to the point of opulence while managing to retain reasonably good precision on the citrus and solidly dry finale that really fans out as it sits on the palate. This is one of the few 2016s that may need most of a decade to arrive at its peak. In a word, impressive.”
Domaine William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Montee de Tonnerre 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 special
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points “(23 hectoliters per hectare): Pale, slightly cloudy yellow. Strong mineral notes of shrimp shell and sea breeze currently dominate citrus and white peach on the nose. Densely packed, concentrated and energetic; wonderfully fresh and balanced for the year. Clamps down impressively on the superb, sappy, slowly rising finish, leaving behind piquant notes of grapefruit, lemon zest and minerals. Classically dry, crystalline and taut but not austere. This beauty really spreads out to saturate the palate on the back end.”
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru Preuses 2016 750ML ($149.95) $128 special
Stephen Tanzer 93-95 points “(22 hectoliters per hectare): Pungent but reticent nose hints at pineapple, peach, ginger, menthol and subtle crushed-stone minerality. Rich, spicy and sweet, with its ripe orchard fruit flavors leavened by a floral topnote. Very subtle, elegant yet extract-rich wine with terrific dusty length and lift. Ultimately dry and classic, this wine reverberates on the palate for a minute or more. Vincent Dauvissat’s Preuses is frequently the finest and most complete example of this grand cru but the William Fèvre version is often my #2 choice.”
Burghound 92-94 points “A pungent nose consists of a potent mix of fennel, oak, menthol, mineral reduction and essence of pear. There is excellent density and power to the medium weight plus flavors that still manage to come across as quite refined thanks to hugely long, balanced and sappy finish. This classy effort needs a few years to develop more depth but the material is present for that to happen.”
William Fevre Vaulorent, Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Stephen Tanzer 92-94 points “(all of William Fèvre’s vines in Fourchaume are situated in Vaulorent, where they’re the largest land owner; there’s usually a separate estate bottling labeled as Fourchaume but not in 2016): Pale green-tinged yellow. Musky, complex aromas of citrus fruits, spices, minerals and pepper. Ripe fruit notes are joined by a hint of exotic lichee, but the wine’s pliant texture is nicely supported by pepper, spices and minerals. This fairly large-scaled, savory wine boasts an exhilarating balance of sweetness and acidity. Finishes with explosive length and a strong impression of terroir. The crop level here was just 18 hectoliters per hectare and my notes say that this wine is at the same high level of quality as the Montée de Tonnerre.”
Burghound 91-93 points “Sweet Spot Outstanding! This could be from nowhere else but Chablis with its nose of oyster shell, iodine and strong mineral reduction aromas. The concentrated, mouth coating and serious flavors are at once muscular yet refined, all wrapped in an explosively long and well-balanced finish. As good as the Montée de Tonnerre is, and it’s very good, there is just a bit more overall depth present here.”
What makes them particularly wonderful wines to work with (other than that brilliant packaging) is how obviously good they are. There are some wines whose subtlety leads to disappointment in the casual drinker, but the Andre Clouet wines are obviously delicious Champagne of extremely high quality. These are wines that seasoned wine geeks can enjoy, but so can your mother in-law who normally only drinks White Star (and she’ll think you’ve given her something much more expensive than her usual).
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Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($47.95) $33 special
Case-12 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature NV 750ML ($419.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Grapelive 93 points “This is some sensationally great bubbly! Jean-François Clouet, who was born and raised in Bouzy, still lives in the 18th century village house built by his ancestors. He takes his lineage seriously and respects his family’s traditions and that of the region, [Bouzy, where he] is a renowned grower producer. Clouet makes a full range of intense and stylish Champagnes, all of which come [from] family plots mostly comprised of 100% Pinot Noir from Clouet’s lieux-dits in the Bouzy zone. The André Clouet “Silver” Grand Cru Brut Nature is a non-vintage, zero dosage Champagne of exceptional class and delicacy. It’s a severe and high-toned 100% Pinot bubbly from mid-slopes around the village of Bouzy set on the chalky limestone and clay. It went through full malo and was aged on its lees in neutral French oak barrel. [This adds] to the surprise of its crisp detail, considering its malo/wood winemaking fashion, though like a great Burgundy it changes and gains with time in the glass adding richness to the tight form it initially shows. If ever there was a Champagne that fits all my wants and desires, then this Clouet, fits the bill. I adore Extra Bruts and Non Dosage styles absolutely best of all and this Andre Clouet Silver kills it for the price! Lemony briskness leads the way with hints of hazelnut, brioche and wet river stones adding a touch of white cherry, unripe apple and cool green melon, all lifted by the pure tight beading of its electric mousse. The Pinot Noir gives a bite of extract which makes this a fantastic food Champagne. It is perfect for oysters, sushi and mussels in spicy broth. It’s not for everyone, but damn it’s good. It’s without question a thinker’s sparkler not a crowd pleaser, which just makes it that much more special.”
Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($419.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Importer note “Initially showing a very fresh bouquet of high toned fruits with hints of hazelnuts and yeasty aromas, the Grande Réserve cuvée displays highly structured red fruit notes on the palate for which the area is so famous. Long lees aging, low dosage and Grand Cru Pinot Noir fruit combine for an opulent yet balanced Champagne.”
Andre Clouet Un Jour de 1911 Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($89.95) $75 special
Importer note “The domaine’s tête de cuvée is comprised of 100% pinot noir from Clouet’s ten best lieux-dits in the Grand Cru vineyard of Bouzy. Production is limited to no more than 1911 bottles per disgorgement.”
Andre Clouet Grand Cru Brut Rose, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Importer note “Generous and fine. Another Champagne from Clouet that achieves both structure and opulence, yet remains focused. Plenty of bright red fruit, and very obviously Pinot Noir, yet with the finesse that make a great rosé Champagne so exceptional.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Andre Clouet ‘Le Clos’ Bouzy Grand Cru Brut, Champagne 2008 1.5L ($379.95) $319 special
VinopolNote: Only 250 cases of this rare bottling were produced, all from one of the four walled Grand Cru vineyards in Champagne. 100% Pinot Noir, aged 8 years sur latte, from a great vintage.
Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2004 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
100% Chardonnay, bottled one year after harvest. Disgorged on order.
Antonio Galloni 91 points “The 2004 Brut Dream Vintage is elegant, polished and medium in body, as wines in this vintage tend to be. Nicely balanced and harmonious, the 2004 will drink well for at least a handful of years.”
Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2009 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
100% Chardonnay, bottled one year after harvest. Disgorged on order.
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2009 Brut Dream Vintage is a very pretty, expressive Champagne. Hazelnut, dried flowers, spices, mint, chamomile and lightly honeyed notes are all wonderfully laced together. Medium in body, radiant and quite open, the 2009 will drink well upon release.”
Andre Clouet The V6 Experience Brut, Champagne, NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
A new cuvee that spent 6 years sur lattes.
Thanks for reading!