In This Newsletter:
Classics from the Cape:
South Africa’s knockout reds
Dive on in: Ocean grown Rose
Valdespino: The Apex of Andalucía
Trending Wines: Spanish Gems
Pradeaux: Paragon of Mourvèdre
Marc Colin: Beaune’s Best kept secret
The Eternal James Bond Champagne
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Classics from the Cape:
South Africa’s knockout reds
South Africa is one of the most underrepresented countries in the current wine market. Historically most famous for Klein Constantia’s Vin De Constance, the republic has since become the “second home” for Chenin Blanc and a world leader in bold red blends. First planted to grapevines in 1655 by the Dutch East India Company, the country has been a wine exporter since the 18th century.
The climate is definitively Mediterranean, with the day’s heat being mitigated by the mixing of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans offshore. The soils are some of the oldest on earth and largely comprised of decomposed granite, shale and mica. The soils’ advanced age also puts grapevines in contact with bedrock due to erosion, imbuing the wines with a distinctive minerality.
The Hemel-En-Aarde Valley is one of the coolest growing regions in all of South Africa, being located directly in the path of the ocean’s cool air as it travels to Table Mountain in Cape Town. As a result the area is famous for its elegant expressions of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinotage.
Being the country’s flagship grape, Pinotage is famous for its chameleonic expression depending on pruning style, growing conditions and vinification practices. This is no better evidenced by Southern Right’s iteration of Pinotage, grown less than 2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. In warmer and drier conditions the varietal takes on a spectrum of blue, black and purple fruits underscored by a tertiary plethora of smoke and earth.
In the Hemel-En-Aarde Valley these characteristics are toned down and express a more Pinot Noir esque showing of strawberry, rosehip, amarena cherry and orange peel. Southern Right’s Pinotage features the varietals classic smoke character, but more along the lines of incense and Cuban tobacco. Pinotage is traditionally paired with braai, South Africa’s flame grilled meats and vegetables but compatible with other foods like tagine, chili adobo fish or kimchi-jjigae.
In stock and available now:
Southern Right Pinotage Hemel-en-Aarde Valley 2020 750ML ($49.95) $30.90 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Importer Note: Southern Right is re-defining Pinotage with this intense classically styled, clay-grown wine, packed with complex berry fruit, beautiful tannins, and subtle spice. Full ripeness and the longer hang-time afforded by cooler sites, combined with the complex, more classic fruit aromas and structure resulting from clay-rich soil, make this wine a highly individual expression of South Africa’s unique grape variety
Moving inland is Stellenbosch, one of the bold red capitols of South Africa. Mostly planted to French varietals like Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot the area is often compared to Napa in terms of wine styles production. Are you looking for a Cabernet based red blend that isn’t from a mainstay region like Bordeaux or the Columbia Valley? You should consider Meerlust’s Rubicon, the producer’s top offering from their Stellenbosch estate. Being in operation since 1693 the estate is considered a National Monument in South Africa and first debuted the Rubicon blend in 1980. Made from some of the oldest planted Cabernet and Merlot in the entire country, it has consistently won “best in category” from publications as far away as London and New York.
The primary soil type of the estate and surrounding region is biotite, type of black mica that looks almost extraterrestrial with decomposed granite and clay underneath. These mineral rich soils contribute an iron spine to the wine’s character beyond assisting with water retention and vine nutrition. Stellenbosch was home to some of the first European colonists, and has practiced viticulture for almost as long, with the area being the birthplace of Pinotage at Stellenbosch University.
Being sourced from the estate’s oldest vines the Meerlust blend varies from year to year depending on the vintage conditions. While always being Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, the cooler growing season allowed for a higher proportion of Merlot and Cabernet Franc to be included in the final blend. The resulting wine captures the beauty of a cooler season in a hot region in how there’s both ripeness and elegance. On first pour there is a pervasively aromatic, dark fruited character of Italian plum and blackcurrants with an underscoring of fynbos, bergamot and volado tobacco leaf. Just beginning to come into its own from an aging perspective there’s still considerable amounts of tannin and acidity but with a granitic and spicy finish that speaks to a long life ahead in the bottle.
In stock and available now:
Meerlust Rubicon Stellenbosch 2016 750ML ($49.95) $34.50 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Decanter 93 points “Cedar wood, spice, a touch of fynbos on nose and palate. Good acidity and layers of flavour that balance the ripe fruit, with a deft touch. Drinking Window 2021 – 2028.”
Anthony Mueller-Wine Advocate 90+ points “The 2016 Rubicon has an expressive nose of mulberry with subtle oak and red and brown spices. Comprised of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the full-bodied palate is still tight and structured with a grippy, chewy edge, but elegance can be gained with age and this wine ends well structured with focused balance.”
Also in stock now:
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance Natural Sweet Wine Constantia 2007 500ML ($119.95) $99 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 97 points “Although I have tasted the 2007 Vin de Constance on several occasions, this was the first time professionally. It has an explosive bouquet that sprints out of the blocks with a more effervescent, vivacious personality than the 2008. Citrus lemon, Seville orange marmalade, touches of mandarin and a dash of spice all vie for attention. The aromatics are more Sauternes-like than the 2008. The palate is very well-balanced with a viscous opening, a keen thread of acidity and a bewitching sense of poise and focus. This is probably the finest Vin de Constance to date as it fans out marvellously on the multi-layered finish. This is a startling, world-class wine that gives Yquem a run for its money.”
Dive on in: Ocean grown Rose
You’ve heard of the Rosso and Bianco wines coming from the legendary Mt. Etna, but did you know that Rosato is also produced from the same basaltic vineyards? Representing a fraction of the production in the region, Terra Nere makes a unique rosato that features both the legendary volcanic terroir and the beauty of Sicily’s indigenous varietals.
Coming from a parcel of younger vines on the northern slope the Rosato is described as having “The body of a white but the soul of a red; A wine that is joyful without frivolity and bright without being superficial”. Farmed organically without any synthetic input at high elevation, there is a fabulous purity to this wine that speaks to the meticulous practices of Terra Nere.
The Rosado delivers a full spectrum of fresh white peach and assorted oranges ranging from Blood, Cara-Cara and Dekopon with a subtle note of hibiscus and papaya with a finish of valerian flower. Perfect for any type of day and even more so paired with something crunchy like, wakame, caprese or a green salad.
In stock and available now:
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosato Etna Sicily 2020 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Kerin O’Keefe Wine Enthusiast 92 points “Lightly hued, this refined, onion-colored rosato, made with organically grown Nerello Mascalese grapes, has delicate aromas suggesting Mediterranean scrub and wild berries. The dry, savory palate offers pomegranate, peach and citrus before a tangy mineral finish suggesting oyster shell. – “
Eric Guido-Vinous 91 points “The 2020 Etna Rosato lifts up wonderfully fresh and perfumed, offering notes of sweet peach and white smoke backed by honeyed florals and wedges of candied lime. It’s silky-smooth and round yet spry, washing nuances of ripe pear and nectarine across a core of saturating saline-minerality. There’s simply so much going on here for a Rosato as the 2020 punches well above its class, finishing incredibly long yet juicy, and fizzling out to hints of sour citrus and cheek-puckering green apple.”
Have you ever heard of the varietal called Grolleau? Named after the black color the grapes develop as they ripen, it was the most popular rose in France for nearly a century both domestically and abroad. It was so famous as a style that it was codified in the original James Bond novel Goldfinger, with Bond preferring it over Dom Perignon!
Grolleau is still used to make rosé today, usually in conjunction with its gray skinned mutation, Grolleau Gris. We can’t get enough of Mourat’s iteration, which is grown just 12 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean on the far western part of the Loire Valley called “Fiefs Vendeens”. This appellation is special not only for its historic patronage by Cardinal Richelieu, but also for having one of the highest percentages of certified organic and biodynamic vineyards in all of France.
The appellation receives almost as much sunlight as Provence, with the temperature being mitigated by the ocean breeze from the Atlantic. These factors marry together to feature both ripe fruit notes like fresh melon, strawberries and peaches in addition to a lifted, peppery finish. The soils of the appellation are primarily quartzite with schist, creating a nuanced, mineral underpinning. Mourat is lucky enough to have a unique site that is predominantly purple schist, which further emphasizes a mineral driven spine. The Ovni is a rare offering in that it is entirely composed of Grolleau Gris, in stark contrast to the rest of the appellation which are field blends. With an average vine age of 25 years old, this is a multidimensional rose that is applicable pretty much anytime, anywhere.
J. Mourat O.V.N.I. Rose IGP Val de Loire 2020 750ML ($21.95) $17 special, 19 bottles in stock now
100% Grolleau Gris
Valdespino: The Apex of Andalucía
Sherry is one of the most underappreciated wine styles in the entire world, and is one of the best buys in the market as a result! Valdespino is no different, in spite of being one of the most pedigreed and critically lauded in the entire Sherry Triangle. Records found onsite indicate that Valdespino was founded in 1264, making them one of the first Bodegas to make sherry in the entire region.
Production has largely stayed the same throughout it’s almost 800 year history, and is the last producer still fermenting in oak using wild yeasts from a single vineyard. This approach marries perfectly to their estate holdings in the Macharnudo Alto, the highest elevation vineyard in The Sherry Triangle (And nicknamed “The Romanée-Conti of Jerez”). The site’s reputation is so lauded that Valdespino was contracted to the Royal families of Spain and Sweden to provide their respective households with Sherry.
The vineyard is comprised almost entirely of chalk, or albariza as it’s called locally which imparts a distinctive, pervasive and saline minerality to the finished wine. The commitment to quality does not stop after harvest and initial vinification, with the average time spent in solera being twice the required minimum. Take for instance their Fino sherry, which traditionally spends the least amount of time in the solera but still has an average of 10 years old (Compared to the legally required 2 years in cask). The aging commitment reaches its apex with Valdespino’s VORS range (Very Old Rare Sherry), with the VOR Amontillado having an average age of 60 years old!
Due to the inherent saline minerality that is part of Valdespino’s house style these are incredibly food friendly Sherries. The traditional pairing of paella or charcuterie or even something along the lines of sushi, oysters in half shell or lobster. Given the fortification that Sherry undergoes, it is also perfect suited for slowly enjoying over the course of a week and will continue to evolve in your refrigerator.
In stock and available now:
A.R. Valdespino Inocente Single Vineyard Fino Sherry Andalucia 375ML ($14.95) $11.90 special, 5 half-bottles in stock now
Wine & Spirits 95 points “Best Buy. Inocente is Valdespino’s flagship, a wine from the Macharnudo Alto vineyard, where the soil is pure white albariza. It ferments in 600-liter wooden casks without added yeasts, a practice that has become increasingly rare in Jerez. The intensity of the wine’s salinity is remarkable – iodine and salt – coming together with ripe white fruit, scents of nuts and exotic spices. The structure is dry and austere, like drinking the juice of stones. This will last for a decade in the cellar, but it’s impossible to hold onto a bottle if there’s raw seafood nearby.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The NV Fino Inocente must be one of the few wines in Jerez that is still fermented in 600-liter American oak botas, which is an incredible amount of work compared with fermenting tens of thousands of kilos of grapes (or even more) in a big stainless steel tank. This method was the norm of yesteryear, but is so labor intense that it was discontinued in most wineries, and gives a big diversity of wines, as each barrel has its own character, which contributes to the complexity of the blend. Furthermore, the bottled wine is on average 8 to 10 years old. One other thing that makes it apart from other Finos is that the grapes are exclusively from the high part of the Macharnudo vineyard, so this is a single-vineyard Fino. The nose is very complex, showing the effect of the long lees contact: chalk, dried hay, aromatic herbs and salty almonds. The palate is full, but at the same time elegant and balanced, powerful and fine, with the texture of a Meursault rather than a Puligny. A very complex wine, that manages to be both powerful and elegant. Inocente is great value for money.”
A.R. Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa Sherry Andalucia 750ML ($19.95) $17 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Decanter 94 points “About five to six years old, from La Guita bodega. Bright astringency and vivid intensity, with a long, refreshing finish. Not subtle, or washed out; and in this case, I preferred this to the en rama version.”
Wine & Spirits 92 points “Deliciosa grows at the Pago Miraflores in Sanlucar de Barrameda and it’s typically aged for five years under flor. This latest saca shows a lovely mix of almond flavors, salt and white fruit, all melding into the wine’s deep mineral notes. It’s substantial enough to serve in the company of blackened redfish.”
A.R. Valdespino Amontillado Tio Diego Sherry Andalucia 750ML ($29.95) $19.50 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Wine & Spirits 93 points “Extremely dry, this austere Amontillado comes from the white chalky albariza soils of the famed Macharnudo vineyard. It aged under flor for about eight years, and then spent eight more years aging oxidatively before being bottled. At first, it shows only the classic flavors of iodine and salt, with enchanting sea breeze notes. You have to wait for the fruit flavors to emerge, notes of roasted white fruit and nuts emerging in the midst of its cool flavors. Only for fans of super-dry Sherry, this is ideal for mojama, cured tuna belly.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “Smoky and taut, featuring date, dried orange peel, clove, singed sandalwood and salted caramel notes. The dry, nervy finish has lots of tension. Begs for salted almonds. Drink now.” WS
A.R. Valdespino Coliseo Amontillado VORS Sherry Andalucia 375ML ($249.95) $179 special, 4 half bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 99 points “The NV Amontillado Coliseo VORS, is an extremely old (much older than the 30 years certified by the VORS classification) and concentrated wine. It is unique, as its origin is from Sanlucar de Barrameda, mainly from the Pago Miraflores, which produced very sharp wines. Dark mahogany colored, with a bright green border, is very aromatic, balsamic and complex, with wild herbs, candied orange rind, spices and dates. The palate is extremely concentrated, dry, and intense but it has no edges, with lively acidity and an eternal finish. It’s an extreme wine, some might find it too much, but it’s certainly unique and among the greatest wines in the world, to be sipped slowly and in tiny quantities. One of the greatest Amontillados in existence today. Drink 2013-2025.” WA
A.R. Valdespino Solera De Su Majestad Oloroso VORS Sherry Andalucia 375ML ($219.95) $149 special, 1 half-bottle in stock now
Wine Advocate 93 points “The NV Oloroso Solera de su Majestad VORS produced from Palomino grapes from the Carrascal vineyard, has aged in a solera for over 30 years. It has a bright mahogany color and a subtle nose of noble woods, walnuts, aromatic herbs, and a touch of brandy. The palate is quite gentle for a VORS. Very polished and round, with a pungent, intense feeling, it feels extremely old. One of the best Olorosos around, it’s old enough to have that extra complexity, but not to be too aggressive, as Olorosos can easily get when they’re very old. Drink 2013-2017.” LG
A.R. Valdespino Viejo C.P. Calle Ponche Single Vineyard Palo Cortado Dry Sherry Jerez 750ML ($52.95) $38 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Wine & Spirits 96 points “The wines that make up this Palo Cortado have an average age of more than 25 years. Originally, it was aged in Calle Ponce in the city of Jerez; hence the initials still printed on the label. During aging, the wine is refreshed with Fino Inocente and Amontillado Tío Diego, two other top bottlings in Valdespino’s portfolio. The end result is a wine that smells smoky and rich in caramelized flavor, but tastes dry to the bone; all those ripe flavors become the purest mineral impressions. A sense of chalky albariza soil floods the palate as the acidity tingles along the tongue, leading the way into a vertical wine, intense and vibrant.”
Wine Advocate 93 points “The NV Palo Cortado Viejo C.P. produced from Palomino from the Macharnudo Alto is feed with specific casks of Fino Inocente and Amontillado Tio Diego. It was traditionally aged in the Calle Ponce (Ponce Street), and if has kept the C.P. initials since then. It’s not age-certified, but the average age of the bottled wine is 25 years. The color is old gold or light amber, and the nose hints at a relatively old wine, with plenty of lactic notes, sweet vanilla, iodine, bitter oranges and spices. The palate is clean and delineated, subtle and on the elegant side of Palo Cortado, ending very dry.”
Trending Wines: Spanish Gems
In Michel Bettane’s definitive book “The World’s Greatest Wines” there were only four sparkling wines selected. Champagne made up the lion’s share, with Kripta being the only non-Champagne sparkling wine that was included in the entire book. Beyond this anecdote Kripta is a benchmark producer in Spain. Their commitment to excellence starts with sourcing from organically farmed, indigenous varietals, which have an average vine age of 47 years old.
Further borrowing from the techniques of high end champagnes, Kripta ages their Gran Riserva for a minimum of seven years (Compared to the 2.5 years required by Spanish law). The combination of exceptional fruit and extended lees aging creates a veritable masterpiece that will make you say “This is Cava??” Much like a well-wrought Champagne there’s an inexhaustible list of pairings that would complement the Kripta.
In stock and available now:
Agusti Torello Mata Kripta Gran Reserva Cava Catalonia 2011 750ML ($99.95) $75 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez “It’s a blend of the thee classical Cava grapes—Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada—from three old vineyards in the Penedès, in the villages of Sant Pau d’Ordal, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and Sant Joan de Mediona; it aged in contact with the lees in bottle for seven years.”
Celler del Roure ‘Safra’Valencia 2019 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 94 Points “The 2019 Safrà was produced with a base of Mandó, but it’s a different Mandó from Parotet, livelier and more fluid. They say it’s a red with the soul of a white. In any case, both wines change in 2019 with the addition of Arcos. They harvest the grapes early and use some 30% stems for the vinification in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts. This 2019 is a blend with 30% Arcos, an almost forgotten grape they are recovering and to which they are paying very much attention. Like many of the other wines, it matured in ancient buried 2,600-liter tinajas in their impressive 17th-century cellar. I’ve always liked the floral and aromatic expression of this wine, which has nice aromas and complexity, developing beautiful notes of sour cherries; and in the palate, it’s more serious than you expect, longer, deeper and very tasty. This is more ethereal than Vermell and less spicy that Parotet. I think it has gained in freshness and complexity with the addition of Arcos, which is part of the blend for the first time in 2019. In fact, this is better than ever! 20,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in June 2020.”
Decanter 93 Points “Mainly Mandó grapes with Arcos (rather than Garnacha Tintorera as in previous blends) – a change that brings greater finesse to this aromatic wine. Bright, mid-weight, juicy, with sour cherries and cranberries and the faintest rasp of tannin. Fermented in stainless steel and matured in buried clay amphorae in the remarkable cellar. Organic. Drinking Window 2021 – 2024. -Sarah Jane Evans MW.”
This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Case-12 Celler Del Roure Safra 2017 750ML ($379.95) $239 special (That’s only 19.91 per bottle)
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 93 Points “The third vintage of my favorite red, the 2017 Safrà is from an early and low-yielding year when they got larger grapes that delivered fresher and more fluid wines than a normal warm year. It fermented with 30% full clusters in stainless steel vats, and like all of these wines, it didn’t see any oak; it matured exclusively in 2,600-liter clay “tinaja” for six months. It’s floral and subtle, super elegant, without any excess, expressive and perfumed. The palate is equally elegant, with very fine tannins, good freshness and very tasty, almost salty flavors. This has to be the finest vintage for this wine. Even if 2017 can be similar to 2015, this feels more balanced and complete. Most of the wines are a bargain, and this is a steal.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Pradeaux: Paragon of Mourvèdre
Considered a fixture in Bandol,Chateau Pradeaux’s roots in the area date back to 1752 when the Portalis family was tasked with a draft of the Napoleonic Code. This extended time amongst their vines and terroir is evident in their practices, which are entirely traditional with only minor elements borrowed from the current era. As Champions and advocates of the Mourvèdre grape (Largely considered the most important red in Bandol) they use it almost entirely in their Rouge.
For context most producers blend in Grenache or Cinsault to soften the aggressive tannic structure. Pradeaux elects to omit new oak and allow the rouge to age in foudre for four years before bottling. Considering how most other producers are currently releasing their 2018’s, it’s mind boggling that 2015 is considered “new” or “current”. This fastidious approach to winemaking is evident from the first pour, with spectacular aromas of blackberry jam, herb d’provence, wood smoke and violets meandering out of the glass. A lifted yet full body coats every tastebud from the first sip and delivers a regiment of flavors ranging from crème de cassis, Java plum and anise with a finish of pu’erh tea, Applewood bacon and dusty loam.
Pradeaux is a total knockout across the board that should be bought in multiples because it’s only going to improve for the next eight years or more. In terms of food, this calls for an izakaya, bouillabaisse or mussels for pairing. Their estate also produces a rose as well made in a weighty, fruit driven style. Also built to age it’s the perfect rose for spicier fare like Szechuan dumplings, Oaxacan mole or aloo gobi.
In stock now from Pradeaux:
Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Provence 2015 750ML ($54.95) $47.50 special, 28 bottles in stock now
Importer note “The Bandol from Pradeaux is a creature whose soul emerges from Mourvedre. The classic cuvee is 95% Mourvedre and 5% Grenache, with the Grenache adding spice to the bouquet and leavening some of the drama provided by the intimidating structure of the Mourvedre. One of the hallmarks of Pradeaux is that the grapes are never destemmed. The result is a wine of ferocious tannin in its youth, another reason for the prolonged aging in these large wooden barrels, a time for the wine to repose and find its identity as it emerges from the cocoon of tannins to reveal an exceptionally complex crowd of aromas and flavors. Although situated mere steps from the Mediterranean, harvest at Pradeaux (always manual) frequently starts in earnest for the Mourvedre during the first weeks of October. The average age of the vines is approximately 35 years and harvest levels are quite low, often in the range of 25 hectoliters per hectare. Fermention occurs at temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius and the wines are racked into large oak ovals and foudres where they rest with occasional rackings for four years before being bottled. Neither new oak nor small barrels are ever used at Pradeaux and the red wines are never fined nor filtered.”
Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rose Provence 2020 750ML ($37.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Rosenthal Wine note “The Bandol Rosé from Pradeaux is perhaps the most serious wine in this category. Robust, rich, and complex with an ability to age gracefully, this wine is based on Cinsault (50%) and Mourvèdre (50%), taking its slight orange tint from the latter cépage. The younger vines of the domaine (average age: 25 years) are utilized to produce a rare rosé with staying power and exceptional complexity. The Rosé is vinified by a direct pressing for 24 hours followed by fermentation in cement tanks at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees Celsius for about 15 days; the malo-lactic fermentation is blocked and the wine is usually bottled in mid-April of the following year. We import approximately 600 cases (7200 bottles) annually of this exceptional wine.”
Need more wine from Provence in your life? We’ve got a plethora of producers, from Abbatucci to Galantin that you can browse on our web store.
You would be hard pressed to find a more quintessential St. Aubin producer than Marc Colin. Founded in 1970 and working with family holdings that have been in the family for over a century, they have since expanded from their home village of St. Aubin and now farm over 36 acres across Burgundy.
Marc has since retired with his children, Damien and Caroline, taking over as winemakers. As an exclusively family-run operation production has remained incredibly low in spite of their increasing fame around the world. However, as they work with exclusively old vines that are organically farmed their quality is next level.
Most of their production is white, the vast majority being Chardonnay. The domaine describes their house style as “Traditional with ever present fruit and optimum freshness” and delivers with every vintage. 2018 is being lauded as spectacular for white Burgundies, especially in the cooler villages like St. Aubin.
Don’t count out their red that we carry however, as they work with likely the oldest Pinot Noir vines in the entire village of Santenay! The site was planted in 1901 and is an experience of terroir. With only a small percentage of new oak, the varietal character of Sous bois, Keemun Gongfu, Glory Rose, and wild raspberry.
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay, Burgundy 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Bourgogne Chardonnay, Burgundy 2018 750ML ($479.95) $359 special
Winery note: From vines planted in 1998 and 1972 in clayey soil in Puligny-Montrachet.
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Bourgogne Aligote, Burgundy 2018 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36 bottles available
Decanter 91 points “Siblings Damien and Caroline are now making wine at their father’s domaine and this 2018 is a blend of three parcels of old Aligoté vines in Puligny, Chassagne and St Aubin. Complex and distinctive, with nutty, creamy, savoury aromatics plus a fresh note of lemon thyme. There’s a touch of salinity to the fresh, well balanced palate, with notes of candied peel and nuts. Crisp juicy citrus bite to the finish, with a lingering savoury edge. A really interesting wine for food pairing. Drinking Window 2020 – 2024.”
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Les Vides Bourses, Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru 2018 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Neal Martin-Vinous 91-93 points “The 2018 Chassagne-Montrachet Les Vides Bourses 1er Cru, which lies just below the Grand Crus in Puligny, has a more distant bouquet than the Chenevottes, a little aloof at the moment but opening nicely with aeration to reveal scents of citrus peel, dry straw and a touch of lemongrass. The palate is taut and fresh, with a fine line of acidity, and quite rich in style. The slightly honeyed, almond-tinged finish needs to muster more mineralité. Otherwise this is a fine Chassagne that should give 15–20 years of pleasure.”
Burghound 90-93 points “Outstanding. There is a whiff of the exotic to the fresh and ripe mix of white and yellow orchard fruit aromas that exhibit subtle spice and petrol wisps. Once again there is fine volume to the exceptionally rich medium weight plus flavors that are both seductive and generously proportioned, all wrapped in a sappy, balanced and complex finale. This is very Vide Bourse in basic character.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90-92 points “Aromas of pear, fresh peach, honeycomb and pastry cream introduce the 2018 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse, a medium to full-bodied, textural and enveloping wine that’s rich and unctuous, concluding with a mouthwateringly saline finish. This is one of the more dramatic, riper wines in the cellar.”
The next best price is $109.99
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Les Castets, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2018 750ML ($74.95) $59 special, 30 bottles in stock now
Burghound 91 points “Outstanding Top Value. Wafting aromas of petrol, white flowers and citrus give way to markedly intense and delineated middle weight flavors that brim with minerality while delivering excellent length on the clean, dry and focused finale. I like the balance as well as the depth and this should amply reward mid-term keeping. Worth checking out.”
Neal Martin-Vinous 91 points “The 2018 Saint-Aubin Les Castets 1er Cru has a very compelling, stony, terroir-driven bouquet that contains plenty of energy. The palate is well balanced with plenty of weight, fine salinity with a touch of stem ginger towards the finish. You could almost drink this now although I would prefer to wait another 12 months.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 89-91 points “Scents of citrus oil, almond paste and white flowers introduce the 2018 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Castets, a medium-bodied, open and expressive but precise wine, derived from a south-facing site characterized by poor, stony soils.”
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Les Combes, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2018 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Neal Martin-Vinous 92-94 points “The 2018 Saint-Aubin les Combes comes from more clayey soils in a small dip, as indicated by its name. It has a complex, engaging bouquet of Golden Delicious apples mixed with lemon thyme, menthol and crushed stone. The palate is fresh and taut on the entry. This has real bite and tension, great poise and salinity and an edgy, harmonious finish that lingers in the mouth. An awesome Saint-Aubin that should age with style.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90-92 points “The 2018 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Les Combes offers up notes of green apple, pear, white flowers and clear honey, followed by a medium to full-bodied, elegantly textural palate that’s lively and precise. This hails from a parcel situated in a combe planted in 1985.”
Burghound 90 points “Top Value. Here there is no reductive funk as the nose is fresh, bright and ripe with its layered array of white orchard fruit, and in particular pear, along with wisps of citrus, wood and floral hints. There is again fine volume and intensity with a lovely minerality on the rich and sappy finale. This needs to add more overall depth but it’s already very pretty.”
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils En Montceau, Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2018 750ML ($79.95) $66 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92+ points “The 2018 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Montceau is also performing well from bottle, mingling aromas of pear, pomelo, orange oil, fresh bread and ginger. Medium to full-bodied, racy and tensile, with fine depth at the core but a more open, giving profile than the 2017 vintage, this will offer a broad drinking window.”
Burghound 92 points “Outstanding. Like the Charmois, the nose is presently dominated by residual sulfur though the underlying fruit does seem fresh and ripe. Otherwise there is almost painful intensity to the solidly dense and serious middle weight flavors that ooze minerality on the youthfully austere and beautifully chiseled finish. This excellent effort seems to be constructed from liquid rock and is really quite impressive. Note well though that in contrast to some of the prior wines, this is one that’s going to need patience so buy accordingly.”
Neal Martin-Vinous 90-92 points “The 2018 Saint-Aubin en Montceau 1er Cru has a more northerly exposure with less limestone but more marn soils, which tend to ripen later than the other cuvées. This feels much more primal and lacks the harmony of Colin’s other cuvées; perhaps it is going through an awkward stage in its barrel maturation. The palate is a little reduced at the moment but demonstrates fine weight and a slightly waxy texture, almost as if there was a splash of Aligoté on the finish. Not bad at all, but it’s difficult to see how it will develop once in bottle.”
The average price is $70
Domaine Marc Colin et Fils Santenay Vieilles Vignes, Cote de Beaune 2018 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 20 bottles available
Neal Martin-Vinous 90-92 points “The 2018 Santenay Vieilles Vignes comes from 115-year-old vines, which must be some of the oldest in the region, yielding only around 20hl/ha. It has a lovely, very pure black currant and raspberry bouquet full of nascent joie-de-vivre. The medium-bodied palate matches fine-grained tannins with a bead of acidity; this is all about elegance and purity. The caressing finish is tinged with cassis and iodine. A gorgeous Santenay from Damien and Caroline Colin.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 89-91 points “Offering up aromas of red berries, cassis, orange rind and rose petals, the 2018 Santenay Vieilles Vignes is medium to full-bodied, rich and concentrated, its powdery tannins concealed by a layered core of fruit. This may well prove to be a sleeper of the vintage.”
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Collector’s Corner: The Eternal James Bond Champagne
Comprised almost entirely of Grand Cru grapes with the barest amount of dosage added, the idea is to have the Grande Anne be a “snapshot” of the year through the eyes of Bollinger. The entirely oak fermentation and aging under cork closure sets the stage for exceptional development in the bottle. Expect a plethora of character from dried spices, to citrus peel, baked pommes and dried flowers. Known for their longevity, our current batch of 2004 magnums is just beginning to leave their teenage years, with plenty of time to further evolve before their peak.
In stock and available now:
Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut, Champagne 2004 1.5L ($419.95) $379 special, 4 magnums in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Cellar Selection. A blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, this is opulent and full bodied, with toast and wood flavors. Rich and ripe, this beautiful wine is generous and still young, with just a touch of bitterness at the end. -Roger Voss.”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “Bollinger’s 2004 Brut La Grand Année is a beautiful wine with a lot of vintage character, but the style is a bit less oxidative than Bollinger fans are likely to expect. Pears, hazelnuts, spices and crushed rocks all flow through to the tense, vibrant finish. It will be interesting to see if the 2004 puts on weight in the bottle, as so many wines from this vintage have. Today, it is bright, linear and quite pretty. Green apples, pears and flowers all add lift on the close.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2004 Grande Année Brut was disgorged in November 2013 and offers a clear, very refined, and complex though still closed bouquet with fruity aromas of fresh and stewed apples, yellow grapefruit, kaki, walnuts, tobacco, herbal tea, nougat and spicy flavors; everything is discreet here, subtle, perfectly melted together and smoky, very smoky. On the palate, this Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend wine is highly complex and elegant, firmly structured and quite long. This is an excellent Champagne.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Firm, with well-cut acidity and a fine texture, this is aromatic, delivering a skein of ground spice and graphite notes that mesh seamlessly with the flavors of black currant, black cherry, toasted almond, financier, honey and smoky mineral. Offers a long, mouthwatering finish.”
Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut, Champagne 2004 1.5L ($699.95) $499 special, 2 magnums in stock now
Wine Enthusiast #53 WOTY 2019 – Cellar Selections
Wine Enthusiast 98 points “The wine’s name stands for recently disgorged and this vintage Champagne was taken off its lees in 2018. That gave many years for it to develop its depth of flavor, richness and beautifully memorable toasty flavors. Drink through 2028. -Roger Voss.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 97 points “Fermented in oak barrels and aged under natural corks for almost 13 years, Bollinger’s 2004 R. D. Extra Brut blends 66% Pinot Noir with 34% Chardonnay from 16 crus, 88% of which are classified as Grand Cru. The wine opens with a very clear, deep, rich and aromatic but also pure and mineral-fresh nose of crushed rocks, cherries, brioche, pain aux raisin, white nougat, chalk and ripe, yellow-fleshed fruits. Highly elegant and complex on the weightless yet persistent and salty palate, this is an intense, densely woven, firmly structured yet elegant, beautifully refined and refreshing “recent disgorgement” (February 2018) that reveals just a kiss of oxidative flavors that adds even more complexity. A great Champagne on its way to improve over many years in the bottle. Tasted June 2018.”
Antonio Galloni 96 points “Bollinger’s 2004 R.D., tasted from magnum, is all class. Silky and understated, the R.D is super-expressive and inviting today. In 2004, the R.D. is decidedly light on its feet and more perfumed than tends to be the norm at Bollinger. Candied lemon peel, mint, apricot, pastry and yellow fruits are all laced together in a Champagne that delivers the goods. The 2004 is 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay picked between September 25 and October 8. Disgorged: November 21, 2017.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “The lovely nose of acacia blossom, toast and graphite leads to flavors of poached quince, fleur de sel, white cherry, lemon pith and almond skin in this dry and harmonious Champagne. Almost airy and ethereal in texture, yet the finely woven flavor range goes on and on, echoing on the finish. Disgorged June 2017. Drink now through 2034.”
Arriving ETA November
Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut 2012 750ML ($179.95) $149 special, 6 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 97 points “This goes from zero to 60 right out of the gate, with an intense spine of acidity driving tightly meshed flavors of crushed black currant, ground coffee, candied grapefruit peel and toasted almond. The profile expands on the palate, carried by the fine, raw silk–like mousse. Richly aromatic and expressive from start to lasting, spiced finish. Disgorged July 2019. Drink now through 2037. 850 cases imported. — AN”
Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Top 100 Cellar Selection in 2020. Still young for a wine of this caliber, this rich Champagne has an immense future ahead of it. The freshness of the wine will mature into the rich toastiness that is such a hallmark of this brand. Oak fermentation and aging have added to the great promise of this fine wine. Drink from 2022. -Roger Voss”
Wine & Spirits 96 points “A selection of pinot noir from Aÿ and Verzenay (65 percent of the blend) with chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oiry, this wine ferments and ages in oak barrels and large casks, followed by extended aging on the lees in bottle. There’s an immediacy to its bubbles, and a scent that is immediately awesome—lemon blossom, lemon verbena and something exotic, like Buddha’s hand. The flavors are classical, expanding outward as the wine develops with air, potent, salty and long. Once it’s gone, you can smell the ghost of oak in the empty glass, even if it wasn’t overt in the wine. This is a structured and long-lived 2012.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 95 points “Disgorged in July 2019, Bollinger’s 2012 Brut La Grande Année is showing well, offering up an incipiently complex bouquet of crisp yellow orchard fruit, fresh peach, orange oil, toasted walnuts and dried apricot that’s still quite reserved with less than a year on cork. Full-bodied, deep and muscular, the 2012 is blockier and broader-shouldered than its 2008 predecessor, with a weightier and even more concentrated palate built around a bright spine of acidity, concluding with a chalky finish that carries appreciably dry extract. This isn’t quite as elegant as the exquisite 2008, but it is a superb effort and obviously built to age.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2012 Grande Année is vibrant and wonderfully nuanced. Citrus peel, orchard fruit, brioche, dried flowers and chamomile are all finely knit in a Grand Année built on energy and persistence more than size. Readers will find a restrained Grand Année in 2012. There is plenty of the textural richness that is such a signature of the house style, but I am also struck by the wine’s freshness. Best of all, the 2012 will drink well right out of the gate. It is quite expressive today, even in the early going. (Originally published in August 2020)”
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