The Next Legendary Brunello Producer
Pian dell’Orino’s Monumental 2011
Piano dell’Orino combines two things that make great wine estates: good land and obsessive ownership. Caroline Pobitzer and Jan Hendrik Erbach, the owners and driving force behind these wines, have a take-no-prisoners approach to ensure that they make the finest wines in Brunello. The most important thing that they did was buy a beautiful, perfectly exposed hillside one ridge over from Biondi-Santi’s legendary Il Greppo (though these wines are much less expensive than the Il Greppo wines). It’s hard to imagine a better place to farm in Brunello and the pedigree of the property comes through in every sip.
From careful, biodynamic farming to native yeast fermentions, the wines are traditional in style but made with the utmost care, so they have silky tannin and elegant structures. The estate is also the next ridge over from Biondi-Santi, which helps. Everything that we’ve tasted from the estate is fantastic and their 2011 Brunello is one of the landmark wines of the vintage. 2011 was notable for being a warm vintage, which means that at their best, the wines are rich and approachable (and at worst, soft and stewy). Pian dell’Orino produced one of the wines of the vintage—this is a stunning Brunello that will be delicious right now and also age for as long as you have patience.
Pian dell’Orino ‘Vigneti del Versante’, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2011 750ML ($119.95) Was $89, Now $69 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “This wine is now identified by a single vineyard designation but was once the estate’s annata Brunello. The 2011 Brunello di Montalcino Vigneti del Versante (with vines planted in 1997) shows some signs of the vintage heat, but really only in terms of textural roundness and general softness. The bouquet sings loud and clear with red fruit aromas of cherry and blackberry. The fruit is nicely balanced by those elegant, ethereal notes of blue flower, balsam herb, cola and crushed pine nut that are characteristic of aged Sangiovese.”
The average price is $85
The next best price on the West Coast is $95
Within Bouzy and Ambonnay, Maison Andre Clouet occupies 8 hectares of vines along gentle sloping land. Focusing on Pinot noir Champagnes, Clouet’s wines tend to be of a rich and concentrated style; adorned in rather lavish packaging, their hyper-ornate labels are reminiscent of the family’s ancestor who was the printer to Louis XV’s royal court at Versailles.
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).
Andre Clouet Un Jour de 1911 Brut, ChampagneNV 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Importer note: 100% Pinot Noir with 5 g/L dosage. 50% 2008 and 50% reserve wine from a 10 year old solera.
Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 3L ($319.95) $269 special, 7 double magnums in stock now
Case-12 Andre Clouet Grande Reserve Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($519.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle!—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Antonio Galloni 90 points “The NV Brut Grande Reserve emerges from the glass with layers of hazelnut, pear, spice and dried flower aromas. This rich, creamy wine impresses for its balance and sheer richness. I loved it.” AG
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 1.5L ($99.95) $89 special, 6 magnums in stock now
Case-12 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($519.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle!—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
100% Grand Cru, 100% Pinot Noir, no dosage
Antonio Galloni 91 points “The NV Brut Nature Silver is naturally a very focused, driven wine given the no-dosage style. This shows wonderful nuance and depth all the way through to the long finish, with bright aromas and flavors but less of the toastiness than some of the house’s other wines. The mousse and finish are both utterly impeccable in their elegance.” AG
Andre Clouet Brut Millesime, Champagne 2008 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 92 points “Clouet’s 2008 Brut Millesime shows quite a bit more tension and focus than the 2007, hardly a surprise given then personality of the vintage. Bright, saline notes frame expressive red fruits, flowers and sweet spices. The 2008 Brut is a gorgeous wine with plenty of appeal today, but it will also develop beautifully in bottle. Stylistically it is less overt than the 2007 but places more emphasis on length. Brut Millesime is mostly Pinot, with 30-40% Chardonnay.” AG
100% Chardonnay, bottled one year after harvest. Disgorged on order.
End of Bin Sales
German Riesling Edition
Affordable Legends, Available Now
If there is a vintage deserving some serious shouting from the rooftops, 2013 in the Piedmont is it. When our distributor walked in with samples there was no fanfare just a quiet, “Here’s a little Rinaldi ’13,” almost as if it was an afterthought—we both knew we’d be buying as much of the wines as we could.
Certainly these are wines built to last, but what we’ve tried was come-and-get-it ready. The tannins were fine grained and tight, but the overall pleasurable nature of the wines was impossible to ignore. They wasn’t over the top, in fact they was quite well balanced, but there was no mistaking that thes wines are in the early stages of becoming something quite special. Antonio Galloni put it best when he posted “Beautiful vintage for them. The straight Barolo is fabulous, FYI.”
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Barolo DOCG, Piedmont 2013 750ML ($59.95) $47 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2013 Barolo is a gorgeous entry-level bottling. Sweet tobacco, blood orange, anise, dried flowers and cedar give the wine its aromatic depth and delineation. Bright and exquisitely layered in the glass, with lovely persistence, the 2013 drinks well now, but also has enough pedigree and complexity to hold for another decade-plus. This is a superb showing from Rinaldi.”
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Barolo Le Brunate, Barolo DOCG 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 25 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 95 points “A dark, powerful Barolo, 2013 Brunate is another wine that is built for the cellar. The brooding, mysterious side of Brunate comes through in a dense, muscular Barolo built on structure and acidity. Traditionally leaning palates will adore the 2013 Brunate. A host of balsamic-inflected notes lead into the firm, unyielding finish, adding to the wine’s gravitas and seriousness. This is an especially somber, powerful wine, even by Brunate standards.”
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Cannubbio, Barolo DOCG 2013 750ML ($69.95) $59 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2012 Barolo Cannubi is unusually deep and powerful, both of which bode very well for the future, but make the wine forbidding in the early going. Not that readers should be too concerned with drinking these wines young in the first place though. Firm tannins enshroud a core of expressive fruit in a Barolo that is going to need time to fully emerge. Even so, the Cannubi is super-impressive today.”
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Gavi DOCG, Piedmont 2016 750ML ($21.95) $16 special, 15 bottles in stock now
“Its colour is light straw-yellow. The scent is fresh and fruity. The taste is dry and delicate. It perfectly matches with hors d’oeuvres, fish and white meat.”–Winery note
“The colour is intense ruby red with purple reflections. The scent is winey and ethereal. The taste is dry, intense, well-bodied. It is suitable to drink at any meal.”–Winery note
“Its colour is light ruby red. The smell is subtle with scent of rose. Its taste is fresh, flowery and mild to the palate. It perfectly matches with hors d’oeuvres, soups, fish and white meat.”-Winery note
“Its colour is ruby red with garnet reflections. Its smell is ethereal and persisting with scents of flowers and fresh fruit. Its taste is dry, intense, well-bodied. It is suitable to drink at any meal.”–Winery note
Lean Mean Riesling Machines
One winery that seemed to do exceptionally well in the 2014 vintage was Karthauserhof, in the Ruwer. They’re known for wines that are steely and firm, so a vintage like 2014 played right into their style. The dry wines are just on the right side of austere and the off-dry wines are incredible—there’s a mountain of tension between the fruit and the tanginess of the vintage’s acid. These are incredible wines made by a supremely talented winemaker that you need to check out.
Weingut Karthauserhof Alte Reben Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese Trocken, Mosel 2014 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 17 bottles available
John Gilman 92 points “The 2014 Alte Reben Riesling Trocken from Weingut Karthäuserhof is an outstanding example of the vintage. This excellent wine delivers a fine bouquet bread fruit, pink grapefruit, wild yeasts, lovely smokiness, a fine base of slate minerality and a topnote of citrus peel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with outstanding focus and grip, a fairly primary personality and superb length and balance on the young, but very promising finish.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2014 Riesling Trocken Alte Reben (officially Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese trocken, AP #8) offers a deep and ripe, as well as very fine and elegant bouquet. Intense and mineral on the palate, this is a stunningly complex and persistent Riesling with power, structure, finesse and a lingering salinity and complexity. Good aging potential.”
John Gilman, View From The Cellar #56: ” The 2014 Alte Reben Riesling Trocken from Weingut Karthäuserhof is an outstanding example of the vintage. This excellent wine delivers a fine bouquet bread fruit, pink grapefruit, wild yeasts, lovely smokiness, a fine base of slate minerality and a topnote of citrus peel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with outstanding focus and grip, a fairly primary personality and superb length and balance on the young, but very promising finish.
Jean Fisch & David Rayer, Mosel Fine Wines #28: “This delivers a clean feel of grapefruit, herbs, spices and fresh fruits. The wine is still on the sharp and reduced side on the palate and is best left alone until next year to give it a chance to flesh out and gain in aromatic zest and fruity presence. 2016-2018”
John Gilman 89 points “The basic estate Riesling Trocken from Karthäuserhof is really an excellent basic bottling from the 2014 vintage, as it offers up impressive focus and cut in its medium-bodied, dry and quite complex format. The lovely nose is still on the young side, but deep and pure, as it wafts from the glass in a mix of grapefruit, wild yeasts, lemongrass, petrol, slate and dried flowers. On the palate the wine is medium-bodied, crisp and still fairly primary in personality, with an impressive core of fruit, excellent cut and grip for the vintage and a long, youthful and beautifully balanced finish. 2015-2035.”
Weingut Karthauserhof Tyrells Edition Riesling Trocken, Mosel 2014 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 23 bottles available
Mosel Fine Wines 90 points “Already at this early stage, this gorgeously light wine (with only 11.5% of alcohol) delivers beautiful scents of cassis, white flowers and minerals on the nose and a superbly playful feel on the palate. The finish is long and deliciously tart. Despite the hint of fruits, this is still only at the beginning of its life and lovers of racy Riesling will really enjoy this most in a few years’ time. 2019-2029”
John Gilman 91 points “Schieferkristall Riesling Trocken- Weingut Karthäuserhof The 2014 Schieferkristall Riesling Trocken from Weingut Karthäuserhof is quite a pretty wine, with just a touch of residual sweetness on the attack to buffer the fine acidity and minerality, but a good, long and quite dry finish. The lovely nose wafts from the glass in a blend of white cherries, lemon, a touch of sea salts, dried flowers, a touch of wild yeasts and quite a complex base of slate. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and quite mineral-driven, with excellent focus and grip, impressive cut for the vintage and lovely nascent complexity perking up the long and vibrant finish. This is really a very well-made wine and a terrific value. 2015-2035.”
Weingut Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2014 1.5L ($89.95) $69 special, 3 magnums available
John Gilman 93+ points “The 2014 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Kabinett is a terrific young Kabinett in this vintage that has produced some many excellent examples of this Prädikat level. The wine wafts from the glass in a very impressively complex and utterly classic constellation of green apple, a touch of white cherry, complex minerality, a touch of petrol, white flowers, a bit of wild yeasts, lemon zest and a whiff of ocean breeze in the upper register. On the palate the wine is medium- bodied, mineral and beautifully filigreed, with a nice core of fruit, bright, ripe acids, excellent focus and grip and a very long, dancing and youthful finish of excellent potential. A paradigm of its Prädikat level. 2015-2035+”
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Weingut Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese, Mosel 2014 1.5L ($99.95) $69 special, 2 magnums available
John Gilman 94 points “The 2014 Spätlese from the Karthäuserhofberg has a bit more residual sugar in evidence on the nose than I would have expected, but when one tastes the blaze of mineral and snappy backbone of acidity on the palate, one realizes why this is so, as the three elements are in perfect harmony in the mouth. The bouquet is bright, primary and very promising, as it wafts from the glass in a blend of pear, white cherry, beautiful slate minerality, bee pollen, just a touch of sea salts and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is medium-full, rock solid at the core and beautifully balanced, with brisk acids, great mineral drive, laser-like focus and a very long, filigreed and still quite youthful finish. Despite the nose suggesting a more generous style of Spätlese on first impression, this is actually a very classically proportioned, mineral and racy bottle that needs some time in the cellar to really blossom, but should prove to be one of the top Spätlesen of the vintage. Great juice. 2018-2040+.”
Weingut Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2014 375ML ($39.95) $24 special, 20 half-bottles available
Weingut Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2014 1.5L ($119.95) $79 special, 6 magnums available
John Gilman 94 points “I did not have a chance to taste the 2014 Auslese AP #12 on my trip last March and was very happy to have a chance to visit it prior to launching into the excellent vertical of Grosses Gewächs generously prepared by the estate. This is an absolutely superb bottle of young Auslese, wafting from the glass in a gently glazed blend of pear, white cherry, honeycomb, salty slate, orange zest and a pungent floral topnote redolent of cherry blossoms. On the palate the wine is fullish, racy and very long, with excellent focus and cut, excellent complexity and a long, vibrant and very poised finish. Classy juice. 2018-2050. 94.
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