Vinopolis Tuesday Edition 11-14-17

Top Thanksgiving Riesling; Undervalued Grand Cru Burgundy; Staff Pick: A Natural Syrah From A Master; Coulee de Serrant—Perfect Autumn White; Library Produttori del Barbaresco


Kruger Rumpf 2004

Our Top Thanksgiving Riesling Pick

Thanksgiving is definitely the holiday that sees the biggest spike in Riesling sales.  We have 5,000+ bottles in stock right now, so we obviously think that the grape is worth your and our attention throughout the year, but woe be it unto us to avoid making a strong “this is the Riesling you want for T-day” pick.  So, without too much more ado, let’s just say it—the wine you want to be drinking at your Thanksgiving table is the 2004 Kruger-Rumpf Spatlese that we’re highlighting today.

Kruger-Rumpf is a storied estate in the Nahe, the region in Germany that Donnhoff hails from, which lies between the Mosel and the Rhine rivers—sort of a halfway point between both geographic and stylistic.  Kruger-Rumpf sits close to the Rhine, geographically, than some of the other big names in the area and their wines have more intrinsic power to them as a result.  These are some seriously good Rieslings, at prices considerably lower than what you’d pay from other name producers.

The top wine from the estate comes from the awkwardly named “Dautenpflanzer” from near the town of Munster, which means that the label reads “Munsterer Dautenpflanzer”—a stereotype of a German name if we ever saw one.  In house, we often call it the “MD” if you aren’t feeling up to testing your pronunciation skills.  The Dautenpflanzer is a premier Grand Cru site of the lower Nahe, a place that yields wine s of power and resonance, and Kruger-Rumpf is the primary (and best) landholder.

Not only are they talented winemakers, the family is in the habit of holding onto a portion of their release each year for sale down the road as library wines.  The 2004 that we’re highlighting today is one such wine and has entered the prime of its drinking window.  If you’ve never had a properly aged German Riesling, you owe it to yourself to try one of these—the fruit has faded a bit to expose the wine’s mineral core, but we’ve yet to hit the petrol stage of development.  In short, this is a wine that’s perfect for drinking on its own or especially with your meal on Thanksgiving.

Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Riesling Spatlese, Nahe 2004 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Jancis Robinson – Top 20 German Wine Producer in 2004
Terry Theise notes “Dautenpflänzer is one the leading Grand Crus of the lower Nahe, with a typical mélange of soil types within its borders. Rumpf claims some of it is slatey and some of it is “sandy loam,” which agrees more with the standard references. It is in any case singular and immediately significant, giving a sometimes damnably complex set of aromas and flavors including coconut, violet, soursop, leaf-smoke—it is a very long list even if you’re sober. In any case it belongs with the vamping exotics of the Nahe.” [Reviewed 2015]

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!


Market Inefficiencies:

The Undervalued 2011 Faiveley Clos de Beze 

The 2011 vintage in Burgundy is going to go down the same way it’s decade-predecessor, 2001, did—a vintage which was somehow overlooked when it came out that suddenly becomes everyone’s favorite at 10 years old.  The best part about 2001 (other than that it’s drinking absolutely fabulously right now) is that prices kept getting cut as newer and shinier vintages kept getting released.  We’re seeing that with some 2011’s already, including the wine we’re highlighting today.

Faiveley killed it in 2011.  When you look across the board, wine after wine has received intense critical acclaim, from their Clos du Cortons (95 points Galloni) to their Cazetiers (92+ points Stephen Tanzer)to the wine we’re highlighting today, the 2011 Chambertin Clos de Beze.  Part of the reason for that success is how the Faiveley style and the style of the vintage work together.  2011 was a year both slightly warm and a touch damp, so the wines tend to lean a bit soft and fruity.  Most of them are good and easy to drink, but Faiveley is known for imbuing their wines with serious structure and long-lived power.

This combination of a warmer/softer year with the stern Faiveley style created some epic wines—with more generous fruit than is typical from the house but also with the backbone to age and develop into the masterpieces we expect.  The 2011 Clos de Beze is a perfect example—even in ‘great’ years, the wine can show on the austere side, however the 2011 version seems to have sacrificed none of its backbone for a little more approachability.

Clos de Beze is one of the most epic Grand Cru sites out there—one of the choicest parts of Chambertin.  As a result, pricing on the wines from the vineyard tend to be grand as well, but because of the unfair reputation of the vintage, we’re able to offer you a deal on this version.  The 2016, which arrives in 2018, is over $150 a bottle more expensive than the 2011. We’re sure that the ‘16 will be fantastic in its own right, but it looks like the 2011 (at the best price in the country) is the one to buy right now.  The catch is that we only have 19 bottles to go through.

Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, Cote de Nuits 2011 750ML ($349.95) $219 special, 19 bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer 94 (+?) points “Medium red.  Highly nuanced yet quite primary on the nose, offering scents of raspberry, underbrush, dried rose, ginger and smoky oak.  Juicy, saline and quite dry, with dark berry and strawberry flavors complicated by an earthy perfume.  Finishes with substantial dusty tannins and excellent length.  With 24 hours in the recorked bottle, this beauty showed a silkier texture and chewy, deep flavors of raspberry and spices that saturate the palate without leaving any impression of weight.  A great effort for the vintage.” ST

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Staff Pick

Natural Syrah with Funk and Delicacy

Some winemakers occupy such a specialized niche that it is difficult to imagine them trying anything new. Then there are producers like Michèle Aubèry-Laurent who has reinvented herself and her winery multiple times. You are never quite sure what to expect from these incredibly natural, very ripe wines. It is its own special brand of Syrah: not northern Rhone roasty, not a southern Rhone fruity. Perhaps the unpredictability, the refusal to fall into any one category is what keeps me coming back for more.

The 2014 Sierra du Sud is the perfect example of how Gramenon takes the ordinary and twists it into something powerful, yet balanced and elegant. From one of the northernmost points in the southern Rhone, high atop a limestone bench, the wine develops into a deep throated growl – spicy, wild, ripe with violets, blueberry, herb and olive notes. The structure of the wine has been changing nicely as well; tannins and blocky flavors are melding, becoming more flexible and unified. As with all of the Gramenon wines, there is no fining or filtration, and this lends to a wildness that will continue to develop; decanting carefully is advisable. It’s near perfect now, but the Sierra du Sud is definitely still changing, and this is that much more reason to keep opening another bottle.

Gramenon Cotes Du Rhone Sierra Du Sud 2014 750ML ($34.95) $24.40 special, 36+ bottles available
Josh Raynolds 91 points “Deep ruby. A complex bouquet evokes musky red and dark berries, cherry pit, olive, dried flowers and pungent herbs. Chewy and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet raspberry, boysenberry, violet pastille and spicecake flavors that become livelier as the wine opens up. Pliant tannins give shape to a very long, spicy finish that features a lingering blue fruit note.”
Wine Advocate 91 points “A smokin’ southern Rhone is the 2014 Côtes du Rhône la Sierra du Sud, which is 100% Syrah, from 15- to 35-year-old vines, that was destemmed and aged in a combination of tank and barrels. Ground pepper, wild herbs, black cherries and the essence of blackberry fruit all emerge from this medium to full-bodied, ripe, layered and beautifully textured 2014. It has more depth and richness than most in the vintage and will keep for upwards of a decade.”

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Joly’s Coulée de Serrant

The Apotheosis of Chenin

Both Louis XI and XIV recognized the sublimity of La Coulée de Serrant, as did the monks who first planted the vineyard almost a millennium ago. The 17 acres that form the Coulée have always been special and when the modern appellation system was created, the vineyard was granted its own AOC.  The Joly family has been the modern custodian of the land and the source of all of the great modern wines from the plot.

Nicolas Joly is considered the high priest of biodynamic winegrowing and winemaking in France, and he has managed his estate according to this uber-organic system since 1984. His are happy, healthy vines. Tasting a Clos de la Coulée de Serrant wine remains a priviledge: history combines with progressive farming in a most beautiful expression of the Chenin Blanc grape, just as nature and mankind intended.

Stylistically, the wines from the Coulée de Serrant are like Savennieres, only more so—rich powerful and intensely mineral and long-lived.  They’re among the most long lived whites in the world, capable of aging 20+ years (and continuing to develop) and becoming profound in the process.  These are wines that are easily capable of being the best wine on the table, no matter what else is presented with them. They deserve your attention any time of year, but especially in the fall, when flavors turn rich and savory and need wines to match them.

Nicolas Joly Vignobles de la Coulee de Serrant ‘Clos de la Coulee de Serrant’ Savennieres, Loire 2014 750ML ($149.95) $119 special, 21 bottles available
Wine Advocate 95+ points “The yellow-golden 2014 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, a world famous and iconic Chenin with its own appellation (Savennières – Coulée de Serrant AC), opens with a beautifully clear, precise and aromatic bouquet of ripe and dried, lovely concentrated stone and grapefruit, as well as some honey aromas intermixed with crushed crystalline stones and herbal flavors. Highly elegant, clear and vital on the palate, this full-bodied wine is immensely intense but also silky, transparent and finesse-full. The long and stimulating finish is enormously piquant and salty, very compact but in perfect balance. There are dried Mediterranean herbs like thyme along with concentrated apricot and quince flavors in the persistent aftertaste. A great, elegant and very refined Coulée.”

Nicolas Joly Vignobles de la Coulee de Serrant Savennieres La Roche aux Moines ‘Clos de la Bergerie’, Loire 2014 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 12 bottles available
Wine & Spirits 93 points “Perhaps the least challenging of Joly’s three cuvees from his biodynamic estate, this grows on schist soils with an eastern exposure. It’s also the most synesthetic, presenting its tastes in a sunrise of color, from golden quince to red-hued tannins. It’s pure and honeyed without any sense of sweetness or any notes of oxidation. Bursting with freshness, this is powerful, grand Savennieres.”
Wine Advocate 92+ points “Intensely yellow in color, the 2014 Roche-aux-Moines Clos de la Bergerie has a deep and concentrated bouquet of ripe and stewed stone fruits along with herbal seeds. This wine needs a lot of time to open up and should be decanted for hours. Round, rich and elegant on the palate, with a racy acidity attack, great density and a lively mineral purity and backbone, this is a powerful, firmly structured Chenin; it has a good tannin grip and a long and intense finish. Still somewhat closed and bitter, but the concentration and rich fruit is obvious. Although I didn’t have the chance to follow this bottle over days, I am pretty sure it will become an even more exciting wine with (much) more aeration.”


2011 Produttori 

Library Barbaresco From a Standout Vintage

“Overall, the 2011 Barbarescos are racy and seductive. The richness and intensity of the year are perceptible, but the wines retain plenty of site-specific signatures, albeit with softer edges than is typically the case. My impression is that the 2011s will drink well pretty much out of the gate, which should be welcomed by readers cellaring wines from more structured Barbaresco and Barolo vintages.”– Antonio Galloni – Vinous

Produttori is a classic-style producer in Barbaresco: the grapes are macerated for four weeks before the wine is aged in large neutral oak casks 25 to 100 hectoliters in size.  A true success story for a cooperative: the winery places quality above everything else, including profitability. Growers are paid according to a complex scale that takes into account the quality of the harvested grapes (not just the weight), and the decision whether to bottle crus in each vintage is carefully evaluated.

The 2011 vintage for the Produttori was an overwhelming success—it was an easy decision to bottle the crus.  Unlike their neighbor, Barolo, the heat in 2011 was met with open arms—a little more richness in Barbaresco is always welcomed.   We’re excited to get a little library release of 2011 cru bottlings and to offer them to you today.  We have the whole lineup in stock now, but we wanted to highlight three bottlings that we feel like are the highlight of the range—just visit our webstore, for everything in stock now.

Produttori del Barbaresco Montefico, Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2011 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 36+bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2011 Barbaresco Riserva Montefico is another of the highlights in this range from the Produttori. Imagine the precision of Ovello, but with slightly darker fruit and more density and power through the middle. That’s the Montefico. A regal, towering Barbaresco, the Montefico should provide thrilling drinking for the next several decades. A rush of dark cherry, plum, smoke, licorice and tobacco add nuance on the powerful, structured finish.” AG

Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano, Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2011 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2011 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano is one of the least expressive of these wines. Inward, powerful and explosive, the 2011 is not in a mood to show much today, that is pretty clear. Still, there is an obvious energy here that is impossible to miss. A firm spine of tannin gives the wine much of its signature power. Dark red cherry, smoke, pomegranate and scorched earth blossom on the dramatic finish. A wine of real density and gravitas, the 2011 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano stands out for its pure, unbridled energy and overall intensity.” AG
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2011 Barbaresco Riserva Montestefano is the biggest of the bunch. This wine delivers a lasting sense of structure and intensity that is especially apparent as this Barbaresco hits the palate. The bouquet exhibits signs of ripe fruit with soft layers of blackberry preserves and cherry liqueur. The wine’s tannic structure is solid and firmly stitched together, yet this wine is slightly softer and perhaps sweeter than the Riserva Muncagota, for example. This is yet another wine destined for long bottle-aging.”

Produttori del Barbaresco Pora, Barbaresco Riserva DOCG 2011 750ML ($59.95) $49 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points “Broad and brooding, this muscular Barbaresco packs in black cherry, tar, licorice and spice flavors. More about power than finesse, with a long finish. Best from 2019 through 2035.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2011 Barbaresco Riserva Pora is sweet, round and sensual. Beautifully layered in the glass, the Pora is absolutely exquisite, with plenty of sweet red cherry, plum, mint and spice notes woven throughout. The Pora is typically the most open of the Produttori’s nine Riservas, as it is once again this year. There is so much to like here.” AG


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