In This Newsletter:
New Diamond Creek Reviews
Napa’s Most Underrated ‘Cult’ Producer
Barolo’s Best Value?
Azienda Agricola Gulfi
Sicily’s Terroir-Driven Master
A Delicious Sub-$20 Rioja
Spectacular German Spätlese
All $29 – $33
National Best Pricing
Bevan Cellars’ Superb Napa Reds
Vega Sicilia: The King of Spanish Wine
New Diamond Creek Reviews
Napa’s Most Underrated ‘Cult’ Producer
Diamond Creek invented much of what we think of as pillars of cult California Cabernet. The single vineyard bottlings, the exclusive mailing list, and the elevated prices all seemed to spring from this tiny estate on the hillsides of Diamond Mountain. The wines are as iconic as ever—monuments to the greatness of their Napa terroir.
We’ve featured their 2018s before, predicting that the lineup would garner high praise once reviewers got their hands on them. And without being too brash in tooting our own horns, it is clear now that our prediction was spot on. The Wine Advocate just published reviews punctuated by deservedly high scores.
Stylistically, these are powerful Cabernets. Although there are distinct differences between the three vineyards, the wines show a common vein of Diamond Mountain ruggedness—an intensity of flavor and minerality that’s unique to the AVA. Diamond Creek manages to harness it to produce wines that dazzle with their complexity and age-worthiness; wines that rival the finest in Bordeaux. These are wines that are destined to stand the test of time as modern classics of Napa Valley.
In Stock Now:
Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 15 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 98+ points “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Merlot, 8.7% Malbec and 2.8% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it bursts with vibrant scents of wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and boysenberries with hints of sassafras, fragrant earth, vanilla pod and underbrush, plus a waft of crushed rocks. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers fantastic purity and depth, offering firm, grainy tannins to support the bags of earth-laced black fruits, finishing long and mineral laced. 791 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Volcanic Hill is comprised of 8 acres of south facing hillside vineyard. It is the warmest of all our micro-climates. The color of the soil is gray, and the consistency is that of fluffy, volcanic ash, originally deposited from the eruption of Mt. Konocti 8 million years ago. Volcanic Hill is the longest lived of our wines. Our winemaker describes these wines as “full bodied, loaded with intense ripe berry fruit, cassis, violets and a smoky richness, finishing with good length and firm tannins. The Volcanic Hill bottling includes a small amount of the extra-ordinary Petit Verdot grape.”
Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 98 points “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 4.5% Malbec and 4.5% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple, it comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant notes of cassis, plum preserves, cedar chest and pencil lead, plus wafts of black truffles, damp soil and unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate bursts with black berry flavors and wonderful freshness, packed with loads of subtle savory layers and textured by approachable, plush tannins, finishing on a lingering fragrant earth note. 599 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Red Rock Terrace, a warm microclimate, is 7 acres of north facing vineyard. The red tinted soil is high in iron content. The wine from Red Rock Terrace is the most accessible and earliest drinkable of all our wines. Our winemaker describes Red Rock Terrace as “having velvety tannins, rich and well balanced, medium dark ruby color with cherry, mint and black currant flavors.”
Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 97 points “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow is a blend of 78.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.4% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 5.1% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slips effortlessly from the glass, singing of ripe black cherries, black raspberries and cassis, plus hints of red currants, roses, cinnamon stick and garrigue. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers lovely freshness, offering bags of perfumed black fruits in the mouth, beautifully supported by fine-grained tannins, finishing long with lots of soft-spoken floral and mineral whispers. This perfumed beauty wears the 2018 vintage stamp well, presenting a more delicate expression of this vineyard—one that I love! 647 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Our second coolest micro-climate is our five-acre Gravelly Meadow vineyard. Originally a pre-historic river bed, this stony, gravelly soil drains rapidly and the vines struggle for moisture. Gravelly Meadow is our lowest yielding vineyard. The wines are described as “earthy, cedary, jammy and ripe blackberry with a spicy expansive finish.”
Love California Cabernet? We have over 35 options in stock. Shop the entire selection, including staff favorites like Arnot-Roberts, Marietta, Snowden and more, on our web store now.
Barolo’s Best Value?
Azienda Bruna Grimaldi
Azienda Bruna Grimaldi’s modern history dates back to the 1990s when Bruna (along with her husband Franco Fiorino) began to bottle her own wine after decades of selling the estate’s exceptional fruit. As the quality of their wine improved they began to receive interest from exporters and distributors. Today, the estate is known for making classic, well-structured, delicious wines that outperform their modest price tags.
The three Barolos that we’re featuring today are the Camilla, Bricco Ambroggio and Badarina. All are distinct and delicious. The Camilla is the only one blended from multiple sites, mostly from the ridgelines to the north of La Morra. Limestone found throughout the area lends to softer tannins and a more approachable style. Bricco Abroggio is an outlier of a vineyard, and the wine is equally special. The site is predominantly clay and marl, so you’d expected a tannic powerhouse yet its light on its feet with great freshness and plenty of cellar potential. Finally, the Badarina is the flagship and pride of the estate. Structured and tight in its youth, it always develops extraordinary aromatics with age.
Overall, Bruna Grimaldi’s quality/price ratio is nearly unequaled in Barolo. These are incredibly well made wines and not one of them costs more than $50 -unless it’s a magnum that you’re after. So don’t buy just one (did we mention we have case pricing on the Camilla?), you’ll want to see for yourself how these develop over the next decade and beyond.
In Stock Now:
Bruna Grimaldi Bricco Ambrogio, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 93 points “Roddi is one of the least-traveled areas in the appellation, and Bricco Ambrogio is one of its best growing sites, with clay and Sant’Agata marl soils. Bruna Grimaldi and her family reveal one of the finest interpretations of the site, offering a wine that is sturdy on its feet and compelling in terms of its aromatic offerings and complexity. The 2016 Barolo Bricco Ambrogio plays a strong hand in terms of mouthfeel, where this structured and firm wine grips tightly to the palate. The aromas are fleeting and fluid with a flurry of wild rose, forest berry, tar and black licorice aromas. I found this wine to have a larger disconnect between nose and palate compared to the more seamless Baroli from the estate. The wine is fermented with submerged cap and completes its malolactic fermentation in tank. Both methods play toward the delicate nature of this Barolo. Only 4,500 bottles will be released in July 2020.”
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 92 points “Mature dark-skinned berry, eucalyptus and rose aromas lead the nose on this full-bodied, enveloping red. On the densely concentrated velvety palate, close-grained tannins surround fleshy black cherry, baked plum and licorice alongside the warmth of alcohol before a clenching finish. Drink 2024–2031.”
Bruna Grimaldi Badarina Vigna Regnola, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($59.95) $45 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 93+ points “($90) This wine has already evolved to show some tar and savory aromas. The 2015 Barolo Badarina offers pretty color saturation with linear and fresh lines of plum, black fruit, dark spice and tilled earth. The wine delivers much of the heft and power promised by this Badarina cru in Serralunga d’Alba. If you’re looking for a Barolo vintage to pair with a rich meat like liver or game, this could be the one. This is Bruna Grimaldi’s flagship Barolo, as her mother was born in Badarina and this site has always had special meaning to her family. Some 8,000 bottles were produced.”
Bruna Grimaldi Badarina, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($69.95) $49 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Bruna Grimaldi Badarina, Barolo DOCG 2016 1.5L ($119.95) $99 special, 9 magnums in stock now
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 97 points “Woodland-berry, eucalyptus, star anise and new leather aromas are front and center on this radiant red. Firmly structured, the youthfully austere palate shows Marasca cherry, strawberry compote and licorice accompanied by assertive, fine-grained tannins that need a few more years to fully unwind. Fresh acidity keeps it well balanced and lends great aging potential. Drink 2026–2056.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “You will be very favorably impressed by the delicate and floral aromas that peel softly off the bouquet in the Bruna Grimaldi 2016 Barolo Badarina. There are distinct notes of wild rose and pressed violets that pop out with playful intensity. Badarina is located in Serralunga d’Alba, known for some of the most powerful expressions of Nebbiolo in the appellation. This estate farms a 1.8-hectare plot at 450 meters above sea level with a mix of white marl and calcareous deposits with layers of sandstone. In the end result, this wine exudes elegance more than it does power per se. I feel the tighter grip of the young tannins on the close, but otherwise, this wine will be remembered for its overall finesse and startling clarity. Like the other wines in this group, this Barolo is fermented with submerged cap and completes its secondary fermentation in cement tanks. It refines in large oak casks for 30 months. Some 6,000 bottles will hit the market in July 2020.”
James Suckling 95 points “A layered, rich young Barolo with dried-strawberry, orange-peel and bark character. It’s full and flavorful with lots of fruit and fine, dusty tannins. Serious red. Try after 2023.”
Bruna Grimaldi Camilla, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($41.95) $35.75 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Bruna Grimaldi Camilla, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($479.95) $389 special (that’s only $32.42/bottle!)
Bruna Grimaldi Camilla, Barolo DOCG 2016 1.5L ($99.95) $79 special, 9 magnums in stock now
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Camphor, pressed rose, truffle and wild red-berry aromas are front and center on this full-bodied red. Juicy and delicious, the taut muscular palate has unexpected finesse, delivering juicy Marasca cherry, black raspberry, vanilla and licorice alongside enveloping, velvety tannins and fresh acidity. Thanks to the ripe, delicious fruit, you can’t detect the declared abv of 15%. Drink 2024–2036.”
James Suckling 94 points “Complex Barolo with crushed berries, walnuts and chocolate that follow through to a medium to full body, round and juicy tannins and a flavorful finish. Hints of bitter citrus at the end. Needs time to soften. Better after 2023.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 93+ points “Bruna Grimaldi’s 2016 Barolo Camilla shows a fine and silky texture with just enough weight and texture to support elegant and fragile aromas. The bouquet reveals a subtle approach, followed by wild berry, violet, spice, tar and smoke that follow with slow and seamless transitions. The tannins are young and tight, but the texture of the wine is fine and silky overall. Fruit for this wine is a blend from the Raviole, Borzone, Roere di Santa Maria, Bricco Ambrogio and Badarina vineyards. It was previously a single-vineyard expression from a plot located behind the Grinzane Cavour castle, but that is no longer the case. Given the more-pronounced structure of the vintage, I have extended the drinking window, allowing for extra lead time for cellar aging. Some 18,000 bottles were produced.”
Love Barolo? We have 75 different options in stock. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Brovia, Cappellano, Vietti and more, on our web store now.
Azienda Agricola Gulfi
Sicily’s Terroir-Driven Master
Gulfi first came to prominence as a champion of Nero D’Avola—the rich dark grape that they proved could be a transparent expression of terroir. The single vineyards Nero’s that Gulfi made changed perceptions of the grape and has helped lead to the current renaissance of Sicilian viticulture. These are wines that are intense, powerful, yet graceful.
Gulfi’s Nero d’Avola is typically extracted and rich, with subtle nuances reflecting the vineyard locations spread around the southeastern corner of the island. Variations in altitude and proximity to the sea influence the delicate aromatics, as ripeness is certainly not the issue. Salinity and sea breeze influences are present and add nuance to the ripe, roasty, smoky characteristics.
The Neromaccarj (pronounce the “j” as an “i” with the Gulfi names) is a vineyard that sits almost at sea level, and the wines from the vineyard are the biggest, richest and darkest fruited of the lot. By contrast, the Nerosanlore is a higher altitude site with a stronger marine influence and so the wines temper Nero d’Avola’s natural richness with higher acidity, redder fruits and grippier tannins. NeroBaronj is a vineyard that sits in a warm pocket but with almost pure limestone as its soil foundation, giving wines that are brighter, zippier and more delicate than the rest of the set. Finally, NeroBufaleffj’s volcanic origins produces a wine with rich, redder fruits and elegant tannins.
The 2016 vintage was magical throughout the Italian peninsula, and Gulfi’s 2016s arguably their finest yet—a real upgrade in terms of finesse and elegance over previous years. But don’t worry, these are still plenty powerful. If you have yet to acquaint yourself with these distinctive wines, there’s no time but the present.
In Stock Now:
Gulfi Nerobaronj Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($34.95) $28 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Gulfi Nerobaronj Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($199.95) $159 special (that’s only $26.50/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 93+ points “Good full medium red. Riveting high-pitched perfume of raspberry, blood orange and violet, lifted by hints of lemon and talc. Clean, focused, and well delineated, with strong minerality and fresh spices lifting the raspberry fruit and very floral flavors. Easygoing and very drinkable already, this expresses a very silky texture. Finishes vibrant and very long, with subtle perfume of strawberry and violet. A pretty wine.”
Gulfi Nerobufaleffj Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($59.95) $41.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Gulfi Nerobufaleffj Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($299.95) $237 special (that’s only $39.50/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 96+ points “Luminous deep red. Aromas of red cherry, minerals, Oriental spices and vanilla on the refined nose. Then luscious, rich, deep and multilayered with spices, herbs and aromatic oak notes dominating the underlying red and spicy flavors beneath. Finishes long but with less than the usual nectar-like quality that typifies this cru; undoubtedly, a much more elegant version of Nerobufaleffj, a wine that often reaches Amarone-like levels of richness and lusciousness. This very young wine is a potential knockout; still brooding and folded upon itself; it’s a beauty that requires time in your cellar, and watch it develop into something special.”
Gulfi Neromaccarj Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($49.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Gulfi Neromaccarj Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($249.95) $189 special (that’s only $31.50/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 93 points “Deep ruby. Amazing floral and spicy nose of black fruit, herbs and grilled steak. Then rich and tactile, but vibrant and energetic, with well delineated flavors similar to the aromas. Finishes long with mounting but relatively polished tannic bite.”
Gulfi Nerosanlore Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($59.95) $41.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Gulfi Nerosanlore Sicilia IGT, Sicily 2016 750ML ($299.95) $237 special (that’s only $39.50/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 97 points “Luminous red. Precise, brooding aromas of ripe red cherry, flint, orange rind, cinnamon, lavender and violet, complicated by iodine and earth. Silky and sappy with refined but very concentrated extract, this smothers the taste buds but stays vibrant and not at all heavy, offering lovely definition and lift to the red cherry, raspberry, floral and mineral flavors. Finishes extremely deep and long, with ultra-suave tannins, mesmerizing inner-mouth perfume and extreme refinement; very Barolo-like. A lovely multilayered wine showcasing the elegant side of Nero d’Avola that very few producers ever manage to showcase.”
Love Sicilian wine? We have 30 options in stock. Shop the entire selection on our web store now, including staff favorites like COS and Terre Nere as well as additional options from Gulfi.
A Delicious Sub-$20 Rioja
Rioja can be a tough call for someone who loves traditional, lighter wines. Recent vintages and modern techniques have put forth jammy, over the top wines which can be delicious, but tiresome. Treading the fine line between traditional and modern is the 2018 Artuke Pies Negros. It’s a fun wine that shows the earthiness and lightness of old-world producers while simultaneously offering a little more fruit and tannin that move the wine into something slightly more hedonistic. Superb cherry and red berry notes swirl with light cocoa and violets. The tannins are substantial yet silky, and they will likely mellow out with a few years’ time.
The Artuke was a great pair with dried chorizo, good olives, and jamon. The second night, the wine continued to show full gas, and we had it with a spicy mezze platter that also played well with the fruit. It is a wine that will definitely be easier to enjoy if you’re looking to fall towards the modern palate, but if one takes the time to really taste through the layers, there is a lovely snap to this wine. I consider the vintage to be a big difference, too. 2018 had an overall lightness that treated this wine well. The 2015 I had a couple of years ago was definitely a bit rich, so this was a great surprise.
In Stock Now:
Bodegas y Viñedos Artuke ‘Pies Negros’, Rioja DOCa 2018 750ML ($24.95) $19.50 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Bodegas y Viñedos Artuke ‘Pies Negros’, Rioja DOCa 2018 750ML ($299.95) $215 special (that’s only $17.92/bottle!)
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2018 Pies Negros was produced with grapes from the Sierra Cantabria in the village of Ábalos, so another village wine, even if it won’t get the official qualification, as they don’t have a winery in Ábalos! It’s a blend of Tempranillo with 15% Graciano fermented with destemmed but uncrushed grapes with indigenous yeasts, and it matured in 500-liter oak barrels for 12 months, except for 10% of the volume that was kept in concrete for that time. This didn’t stop growing in the glass, and the aromas are subtle and elegant. Since they started working with larger oak containers, they had to learn to work under more reductive conditions; they now seem to have mastered it, at least in some of the wines, like this one. The wines are subtler and less immediate than the wines aged in barrique, and this long-cycle vintage has a tendency toward this profile of wines. The palate is very balanced and fresh, with a core of red fruit, with bright flavors and very good precision. 70,000 bottles produced.”
Love Spanish reds? We have over 100 different options in stock. Shop the entire selection, including staff favorites like Bodegas Marañones, Daterra Lorenzo, Guímaro and more, on our web store now.
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please let us know their name when placing your order.)
Spectacular German Spätlese
All $29 – $33
In Stock Now:
“An elegant and harmonious Spätlese with remarkable finesse”
Dr. Crusius Traiser Rotenfels Riesling Spätlese, Nahe 2016 750ML ($44.95) $29 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2016 Nahe Riesling Traiser Rotenfels Spätlese has a clear, fine and elegant bouquet of ripe tropical fruits intermixed with lemon and stony flavors. Light, lush and round on the palate, with purity, stimulating salinity and ripe, textured fruit, this is an elegant and harmonious Spätlese with remarkable finesse. It is not very complex but so delicate…! 8.5% alcohol.”
“Probably the masterpiece of their vintage”
Weingut Alfred Merkelbach ‘Urglück’ Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2017 750ML ($39.95) $29 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2017er Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese “Urglück” was harvested at a whopping 96° Oechsle, i.e. well into Auslese category. It delivers a captivating and elegant nose of flowers, minty herbs and candied grapefruit. These are joined by riper scents of whipped cream and vineyard peach as the wine gains from airing in the glass. This delightful Auslese in all but name shows quite some creamy and ripe fruits on the palate yet remains at all time very delicate and refined. A touch of exotic fruits and honey make for a smooth and juicy feel in the long finish. A hint of zest comes through in the after-taste. This is a gorgeous Auslese-style wine in the making! 2027-2047.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 92 points “Picked at an Oechsle level that in any other vintage I can recall would have been labeled without question as Auslese, this is not however a Spätlese that exhibits more than very modest sweetness, for which not just the Merkelbachs’ tendency to let fermentations finish with less sugar, but also the presence of nearly nine grams’ acidity and nearly 30 grams of dry extract are jointly responsible. Sassafras, mint, black tea and fresh strawberry on the nose segue into an infectiously juicy but glycerol-slicked palate that suggests a cooling yet smoky infusion of green herbs and black tea into strawberry and apricot. A lightly saline savor of celery seed and an undertone of wet stone add to the appeal of a lusciously sustained finish that both soothes and refreshes.”
Wine Spectator 92 points “Offers aromas of quince and honey, with the quince note continuing on the palate and combining with nervy citrus accents. Very suave and smooth, showing enough acidity for balance and dense flavors that carry through the finish. Drink now through 2031. 90 cases imported.”
Terry Theise note “Probably the masterpiece of their vintage, but not an “easy” wine. Extreme sassafrass, and very stony, but a hyssop-y spice trails along a subtle vein of fruit. Mosel at its most masculine, but hugely impressive, with its serious “resting face.”
A cellar pick
Weingut Josef Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau 2018 750ML ($37.95) $29 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 90 points “Bright and succulent, featuring notes of yellow apple, peach and floral. Offers a light-bodied frame but remains very flavorful, with high acidity providing balance and support. Best from 2022 through 2032. 100 cases imported.”
Terry Theise note “There were two options. A drier one is classic, upholstered, earthy and dense with just an edge of sweetness, rural and with a fragrance of leaf-decay. The “sweeter” wine ran to the usual violet and lavender but showed a sweet finish, and yet the wine’s more playful. You guessed it; we blended them and enjoyed much of the best of both worlds, though Andi will keep at it until he gets the exact one he wants. I want this wine to be earnest and Jesuitical and also delicious. Tall order, but Andi’s a pretty tall guy.”
“A perfectly balanced Mosel Spätlese”
Weingut Carl Loewen Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2018 750ML ($37.95) $29 special, 26 bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht-Vinous 93 points “Grapefruit, lime and orange mingle with Persian melon and mango on the nose and the lusciously citric, brightly juicy yet subtly tropical palate. The feel is polished and, for all of the wine’s animating brightness, also subtly creamy. The finish offers a vibrant and engaging interaction of crystalline, stony and citrus fruit elements. Allowing this wine to ferment to 9% alcohol had a salutary effect on its balance, rendering sweetness discreet (even though there are 60 grams of residual sugar), but without sacrificing a sense of levity. For my taste and from my historical perspective, this is a perfectly balanced Mosel Spätlese. Yet Karl Josef Loewen related that “in early summer , this is the wine that most disappointed me. At that point I wasn’t happy with the aromatics or the integration of sweetness.” Incidentally, the wine was picked very early in October and a full week ahead of the corresponding (also highly successful) dry “Alte Reben” bottling.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “The 2018er Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese was harvested at 91° Oechsle and was fermented down to fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (62 g/l). The wine develops a gorgeous even if ample nose made of grapefruit, passion fruit, pear, whipped cream, herbs and fine spices. It has the full creamy presence of an Auslese on the palate. Thankfully, the rich creamy and fruity flavors are nicely lifted up by a touch of zesty acidity. The finish is powerful, assertive and quite impressive. Apricot in the after-taste adds to the big and luscious side of this very nice sweet wine! 2028-2048.”
Terry Theise note “[+] Consistently and for many years one of the very GREAT wines in this offering, and among them, the least celebrated. Again, very old vines (at least 80, some over 100, all ungrafted) from an old terraced vineyard, because the wise citizens of Leiwen rejected the Flurbereinigung. Think Wehlener Sonnenuhr on steroids. (Or wait a minute; that’s Zeltinger Sonnenuhr. OK, think Zeltinger Sonnenuhr on steroids…) In essence this is weighty, extravagant fruit anchored to profound and almost chewy earthiness. The ’18 shows a little botrytis as all the clean grapes went into a dry “GG.” It’s a slim vintage, where even the deep flavors of dried apricots and butterscotch are more buoyant— if less profound—than usual, but it’s early days, the components are still waiting to knit, and the wine may well fill out. As it is, it’s wonderful!”
“The combination of textural caress, looseness and sheer juiciness makes for infectious drinkability”
Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($34.95) $29 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2016 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese (AP 07 17) offers a bright, fresh and slightly flinty bouquet with nice reduction. Lush, piquant and elegant on the palate, this is a light and mouth-filling Spätlese you’d probably like to take your bath in.”
David Schildknecht – Vinous 90 points “The nose anticipates site-typical, mint-tinged honeydew melon, apple and dark cherry that then lusciously inform a silken, expansive palate. The combination of textural caress, looseness and sheer juiciness makes for infectious drinkability, and a sustained finish harbors stimulating hints of lime zest, wet stone and salt.”
Mosel Fine Wines 90 points “This offers a beautifully delicate nose of pear, white peach, lemon, laurel and smoke. The wine is juicy and delicately tickly on the palate and leaves a nicely citrusy feel in the overall satisfyingly juicy and ripe finish. 2026-2041.”
“This wine will prove superb, especially with food, in a couple of years”
Weingut Alfred Merkelbach Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #7, Mosel 2019 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “The 2019er Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese AP 07 comes from the Urglück part of the vineyard. It offers a beautifully refined and flowery nose of whipped almond cream, spices, grapefruit, lime, and aniseed herbs. The wine proves delicately airy and driven by a quite zesty acidity on the palate, and leaves an intense, almost forceful feel of presence and tartness (the wine does have 9% of alcohol) in the spicy and almost razor-sharp finish. The after-taste feels already more off-dry than fruity-styled. This wine will prove superb, especially with food, in a couple of years. 2025-2034+.”
“A classic example of middle Mosel Spätlese”
Weingut Alfred Merkelbach Kinheimer Rosenberg Riesling Spätlese #2, Mosel 2018 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 34 bottles in stock now
John Gilman 92 points “The 2018 AP #2 Spätlese from the Rosenberg vineyard has a beautiful touch of exotic fruit to its aromatic constellation, wafting from the glass in a very refined blend of kiwi, strawberry, lime zest, an almost salty expression of slate, apple blossoms and bee pollen. On the palate the wine is vibrant, complex, medium-full and filigreed, with a lovely dollop of fruit at the core, superb mineral drive and grip, zesty acids and a long, complex and beautifully balanced finish. This is such a classic example of middle Mosel Spätlese, with stunning interplay of slate minerality, pure, precise fruit and floral tones. Just lovely. 2020-2050+. 92.”
Terry Theise note “Two fuders, two different pickings. No. 2 is pure pure Mosel, great firm bones and slate-slate-slate. No. 3 shows botrytis and feels less fruity; it’s very good but I like #2 best.”
A Würzgarten that lives up to its name
Weingut Jos. Christoffel Jr. Christoffel-Prüm Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 14 bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht-Vinous 92 points “Christoffel is fond of saying that too few Würzgarten Rieslings live up to their name, meaning that they lack spice or herbal pungency (Würze). Leaving aside that “Würz” is actually a corruption of “Wirts” (from the expression for a restaurateur or tavern-keeper), he certainly has a point, and indeed his 2016 Spätlese displays Würze. Candied ginger accents its predominant scents and luscious palate presence of strawberry, apple and Persian melon. Glossy in feel and delightfully delicate, it finishes with invigoratingly incisive hints of cress and crystallized ginger lending counterpoint to the sheer sweet lusciousness of fruit.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “This offers a rather reduced but quite elegant nose of fresh herbs and spices. The wine is nicely juicy and fresh, with some typical scents of brown sugar adding depth to the mid-palate. While being loaded with delicately ripe fruits and zesty flavors, the wine remains elegant and playful in the finish. 2023-2036.”
Elegant & complex
Markus Molitor Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese Trocken WK, Mosel 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 24 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2018 Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese (White Capsule) is pure, fresh and flinty on the clear and crunchy, very elegant and complex nose. Pure and almost astringent on the salty palate, this is a piquant, very nervous and persistently salty Riesling with great tension, vitality and finesse. A great and promising Würzgarten. Tasted at the domain in September 2020.”
Stuart Pigott-jamessuckling.com 94 points “Stand back for the arrival of this Mosel riesling express! Very spicy with dried-strawberry, dried-cranberry and cumin notes, this is a very distinctive, almost dry white. Serious concentration (old vines?) and nice creaminess, then comes a wave of spice at the imposing finish. Drink or hold.”
Weingut Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese, Nahe 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 26 bottles in stock now
John Gilman 92+ points “The 2018 Kirschheck Spätlese from Weingut Dönnhoff is another excellent example of the vintage. The wine is pure, very floral in personality and quite expressive out of the blocks, offering up scents of white cherries, pears, bee pollen, slate and a topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish, vibrant and beautifully detailed, with racy acids, good mineral undertow and a long, refined and complex finish. 2019-2050+. 92+.”
David Schildknecht-Vinous 92 points “Ripe pear is garlanded in buddleia and mint on a fetching nose that also features a whiff of wet stone. The palate impression is succulently fruity and caressingly polished. Liquid florality seductively enhances a lusciously lingering finish that is enlivened by a squeeze of fresh lime.”
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The 2018 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese is clear, fresh and flinty on the deep nose, where ripe stone fruit (vineyard peach), raspberry and crushed stone aromas are displayed. Round and salty-piquant on the palate, this is a racy, terribly fresh and stimulating Spätlese whose acidity is really kicking and racy enough to balance this ripe and almost voluptuous wine with ease and joy. A classic. Tasted in July 2019.”
A fantastic value from Germany’s most collectable estate
Joh. Jos. Prüm Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($41.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93 points “Fresh apple garlanded in honeysuckle and heliotrope sets the tone for a generously juicy, subtly creamy palate seductively loaded with inner-mouth floral perfume and leading to an inhalative, delicate but seriously sustained finish vividly underlain with wet stone and tinged with bittersweet, smoky nut oils and mouthwatering salinity.”
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 93 points “There are delicate spices and very attractive succulence to this Spätlese. The acidity is very much in the background until the finish lifts off. Drink or hold.”
Weingut Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($37.95) $33 special, 7 bottles in stock now
David Schildknecht – Vinous 91 points “A gorgeous nose offers rowan, almond extract, ripe white peach, honeydew melon and quince. The glycerol-slicked palate offers a similarly colorful array of flavors. And for a wine obviously marked by botrytis, this finishes with unexpected clarity and abundance of fresh fruit juiciness (aided by an influx of grapefruit) to accompany its honeyed undertone and heady inner-mouth perfume. The overall effect is irresistibly luscious. This fermented until February, long by estate standards, which seems to have been all to the good.”
National Best Pricing
Bevan Cellars’ Superb Napa Reds
Bevan Cellars has quickly emerged as one of the top handful of Napa Cabernet producers in a crowded marketplace. Since their founding in 2005 as the personal project of star winemaker Russell Bevan, they’ve earned multiple 100-point scores for their bold, silky style.
These are intense expressions of Cabernet (and a few impressive Cabernet-based blends) that manage to be delicious and texturally impressive now. It’s exceptionally rare to find wines of this quality which are easy to drink right away, which is part of the reason Bevan Cellars has a long waiting list to buy their wines direct.
As a result, it’s rare to see these wines in the retail world but we’ve got our hands on some, available in limited quantities. If you’re looking for a set of top-rated Napa Cabernet to drink tomorrow or age for a decade, it’s hard to do better than Bevan’s wines.
In Stock Now:
Bevan Cellars Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 special, 10 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 97+ points “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard is very deep purple-black in color with an earthy, meaty, broody nose with notes of mocha over baked plums and crème de cassis plus wafts of spice box and mincemeat. The palate is full-bodied, concentrated, rich and earthy with great vibrancy on the finish. 839 cases produced.”
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “From a steep hillside in Oakville, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Tench Vineyard offers a more savory, masculine, layered style as well as a huge nose of red and black fruits, dried herbs, chocolate, and earth. It hits the palate with a full-bodied, mouthfilling style that carries plenty of tannins, a deep, concentrated mid-palate, and a great finish. I like it today, yet it’s going to continue drinking brilliantly for two decades.”
Bevan Cellars Tench Vineyard ‘EE – Double E’ Red, Oakville 2016 750ML ($249.9) $189 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 99+ points “Some of the top wines from this spectacular vintage are starting to close down, including this impressive beauty. Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Proprietary Red EE Tench Vineyard is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. Just a little more subdued than when I last tasted it, the nose features gorgeous blueberry pie, molten chocolate, plum preserves and mulberries notions with hints of camphor, cloves, earth and cigar box. Full-bodied and voluptuously endowed, with decadently velvet-textured tannins, the acid sits perfectly balanced in the background, finishing with epic length and so many layers. The way this is headed, I would not be surprised if it emerges in a few years hitting glorious, three-digit perfection. 1,403 cases were made.”
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “The 2016 Tench Vineyard EE Red Wine checks in as a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Merlot, which is the smallest amount of Cabernet Franc to date. Brought up in new barrels, it has gorgeous blue fruits, violets, spring flowers, and damp earth. Medium to full-bodied, elegant, and just about as seamless and silky as it gets, this is a magical wine to drink over the coming 15 years or more.”
Bevan Cellars Wildfoote Vineyard Vixen Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2015 750ML ($279.95) $199 special, 4 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 98 points “Very deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Vixen Block Wildfoote Vineyard offers up a very serious nose of cassis, blackberry pie and blueberry compote with hints of dried lavender, underbrush, Chinese five spice and cigar box, plus a waft of dark chocolate. Full-bodied and densely packed with black fruit preserves and earthy layers, it has a firm frame of finely grained tannins and just enough freshness, finishing with epically long exotic spice nuances. Only 125 cases were produced.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points “The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Wildfoote Vineyard Vixen Block is one of the more refined, elegant wines in the lineup and reveals a perfumed bouquet of white flowers, blue fruits, violets, and spice. It’s seamless and silky on the palate, yet has building underlying tannin and is beautifully balanced. It’s one of those wines that carry loads of intensity and texture yet just glides over the palate. Drink it anytime over the coming two decades.”
Vega Sicilia: The King of Spanish Wine
If Spain had an aristocracy of wines, Vega Sicilia would be king. Founded in 1864, over a century before creation of the Ribera del Duero DOC, the estate’s various owners have made singular wines ever since. In fact, Vega Sicilia can hardly be compared to other Spanish wines, not even the greats of Rioja. For one thing, the grape varieties originally planted and still grown in Vega Sicilia’s 500-acre limestone-soil vineyard include Bordeaux varieties, though eighty percent of the vines are Tempranillo. As a result, Vega Sicilia doesn’t taste like other Tempranillo-based wines from Spain. They’re dense and sumptuous, intense but full of finesse, complex and long-lingering on the palate, with the individuality of a monarch. This is like Spain’s First Growth, its Dominus.
We have a few bottles left of the 2015 Valbuena 5, a wine Luis Gutierrez described as “explosive and showy”. If you’re a fan of Spanish reds with a modern flair, this is a must-have.
In Stock Now:
Vega Sicilia Tinto Valbuena 5, Ribera del Duero 2015 750ML ($199.95) $179 special, 5 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 97 points “The aromas to this are so complex and enticing with nutmeg, dark berries, chocolate and white pepper. Full body. Dense and layered with so much wonderful, complex and succulent character. It just makes you want to drink it. Drink or hold.”
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2015 Valbuena, a red blend of mostly Tempranillo with some 5% Merlot, is released in the fifth year after the harvest. It’s explosive and showy, with a complex nose that shows a mixture of flowers and wild herbs, balsamic touches and great nuance. This wine has gained in complexity since the 2010 vintage, where they implemented some changes that increased the expressivity and precision of this wine. The tannins are fine-grained and there is very good balance, and the warm conditions of the year have been absorbed well by the wine. Despite the natural conditions of the year, the wine follows the path of freshness of the 2010. 173,673 bottles, 5,625 magnums and some larger formats produced. It was bottled in June 2018.”
Vinopolis is an independent wine shop in Portland that opened in 2004. Our goal has always been to offer the finest, broadest, and largest selection of wines at the best prices to our customers in Portland, in Oregon, across the West Coast, and throughout the United States.
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