In This Newsletter:
Bordeaux to Bekka:
Chateau Musar’s Journey
Down the Rhine and through the Doneau:
Vinopolis tours Germany
Müller? Müller? Müller?
Muller-Catoir, The Princes of the Pfalz
Now on sale!
Shades of Summer:
Rosé for all day
2017 Vajra’s Venturing Over
G.D. Vajra Freisa
Arriving this Friday:
Mountain Reds from across Napa
Bordeaux to Bekka:
Chateau Musar’s Journey
Looking for a cult producer that’s still affordable? There are very few producers who are synonymous with the production of their entire region’s output. Dal Forno in Valpolicella, Dönnhoff and the Nahe, Cayuse and Walla Walla, the list is as long as there are production zones. In that same vein you cannot talk about Lebanese wine without mentioning Chateau Musar. Founded by Gaston Hochar in 1930, his son Serge took the world by storm in the late 1970’s after leaving Bordeaux for the Bekka Valley. Lebanon is one of the world’s first producers of wine that dates back over 6,000 years and was mentioned throughout antiquity for its quality, but has seen almost constant unrest since World War 2.
In spite of that, Musar has consistently delivered exceptional reds, whites and rose year after year to the international market. This is in part from their vineyards located in the Bekka Valley of Lebanon, A high elevation region between Mt. Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains. The elevation and mountainous conditions allows for massive temperature shifts during the evenings, allowing for the grapes to slowly ripen with good acidity. Working exclusively with old vines that have always been farmed organically, Musar makes a fantastic single village wine named after Gaston in addition to their Cuvee that’s made them world famous. Working with a blend of varietals including Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvigion for reds, these are wines that are built for serious aging and collecting. Expect all the power and nuance of a super Tuscan, with the lift of Bandol and a totally unique frankincense, oud and cumin character that is definitively Middle Eastern. We were only able to secure limited quantities of the reds, with these wines usually being snapped up by restaurants in New York before they can reach our market, so get these while you can!
In stock now:
Chateau Musar, Bekaa Valley 2013 ($69.95) $51.90 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 93 Points “The 2013 Chateau Musar is bold, punchy and intensely perfumed. Rose petal, ripe red fruit, sage, mint, cinnamon and sweet tobacco gives the 2013 a very strong aromatic presence that continues to build. Medium in body, with lovely red fruit character, the 2013 Musar could use a few years in bottle to fully come together. I expect it will always have a strong pungent signature.”
Decanter 92 Points “This wine needs vigorous decanting otherwise it appears reduced. It shows evidence of French oak ageing: notes of vanilla with a cedar touch along with the plum fruit. Slightly meaty flavours suggest development. Amazingly balanced, with some volatile acidity providing additional freshness. With time it picks up hints of liquorice like an old Hermitage. Impressive volume yet a suave touch – a classic Musar!”
Chateau Musar ‘Hochar Pere et Fils’ Red, Bekaa Valley 2017 ($34.95) $28 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Decanter 91 Points “This single-vineyard wine, from Aana, is made in a modern style: concentrated and slightly reductive. It shows notes of new oak barrels, lovely red berry fruit (reminiscent of Grenache) and garrigue aromas. So Mediterranean on the palate, with sweet tannins, spices and a meaty hint on the aftertaste. A very friendly, easy-to-drink and enjoyable wine. It becomes even better and more refined a day after the bottle is opened. I would recommend decanting it.”
Antonio Galloni 90 Points “The 2017 Hochar is powerful and dense in the glass. Ripe flavors and incisive tannins give the 2017 much of its brooding personality. Readers should plan on opening the 2017 at least an hour or two in advance, as the tannins are rather grainy at the outset. With time, ripe black cherry, spice, leather and licorice flavors emerge nicely. The blend is 55% Cinsault, 35% Grenache and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Vinopolis tours Germany
In this new feature we will be visiting the various winegrowing areas of Germany that we feature in store, with a look at why we can’t get enough of them! When discussing German wine, the first region you highlight has to be the Mosel. Likely the first area in Germany to be planted en masse with grapevines, its first mention is by the Roman poet Magnus Ausonius in 370 A.D with their first settlement being founded in 15 B.C. In the same way that Neuschwanstein Castle is the face of Bavaria and German architecture as a whole, the Mosel Valley is the face of the Rhine and German wine as a whole. Unlike other German wine regions that see a diverse assortment of grapes under cultivation, the Mosel produces Riesling almost exclusively along the banks of the Mosel River. There are largely three soil types exhibited throughout the valley, with the Northern section exhibiting fossilized seashells and limestone like Chablis, the Middle which features sandstone and slate, and the Lower which is largely slate with a sandstone base. Divided up into 6 sub-areas, there are over 5,000 recorded winegrowers in operation today across almost 22,000 acres!
The Terrassenmosel, or Burg Cochem as it’s called by the locals, is one of the most visually spectacular areas of the entire valley. Featuring the steepest vineyards in the entire world, exceptionally old vines and unique soil composition of iron, slate and quartz these are some of the rarest and most compelling out of the entire valley. These are Rieslings that feature incredibly high acids, pervasive minerality and a plethora of secondary flavors like hoshigaki, saffron and ginger. From a stylistic perspective these are “serious” wines that are usually bone dry, with some sweet examples to be found in exceptional years. They require bottle age to even begin expressing their potential, with the best having almost unlimited life in the bottle. If you’re looking to learn more about the wine from the Terrassenmosel, try our selection of Heymann Lowenstein!
Heymann-Lowenstein Kirchberg Riesling Mosel 2016 750M ($44.95) $33 special, only 2 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 91 Points “The 2016 Riesling Kirchberg ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ is super ripe and flinty on the nose, with caramelly aromas. Pure, fresh and mineral, with a fine, mineral structure and lingering salinity, this is a tensioned Riesling with good phenolic structure.”
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘R’ Winninger Uhlen Roth Lay Auslese Goldkapsel, Mosel 2007 375ML ($99.95) $49 special, 20 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 96 Points “Candied citrus, jujube, sweet spice and quince paste aromas and flavors mark this sweet, bracing Riesling, which is light on its feet and resonates on the finish with a mouthwatering feel and echoes of citrus. Best from 2012 through 2045.”
Wine Advocate 95 Points “Lowenstein’s 2007 Winninger Uhlen Riesling Auslese Gold Capsule Roth Lay (as in the corresponding dry wines, the letter “R” is prominent on the label of this A.P.#9) benefits from counterpoint and collaboration among bright citrus, rich pit fruit essences, and the honey of botrytis. For all of its enormous sheer ripeness and concentration, this retains a striking sense of delicacy. A snappy, spicy, pungent streak – taken together with vivid, diverse pit fruits and citrus – serves for exhilaration in a finish of memorable length and energy, with a vivid impression of crushed stone one hardly expects in a wine of such sweetness and prominent botrytization. There seems to be something of a personality role reversal at work this year, because the corresponding Rottgen Auslese is cool and refined whereas this Uhlen displays more of the piquancy and (as French growers might say) nervosite that I associate with Rottgen. But then, botrytis is always something of a wild card, so that a wine like this is profoundly and unpredictably influenced by the precise microclimatic conditions for and differences in the nature of that fungus. No doubt this too will be worth following for two or more decades.”
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘R’ Winninger Uhlen Roth Lay Auslese Goldkapsel, Mosel 2010 750ML ($199.95) $89 special, 35 bottles in stock now
VinopolNote: Crystalized Pineapple, Saffron salt, White miso, ginger juice, light roast coffee and blue slate knit together with a whisper of toffee and candy cap mushroom. Acid is surprisingly still high after 11 years in bottle, with plenty of further development possible down the line. Residual sugar is perceptible but clearly in the early stages of polymerization, making it taste drier than the Prädikatswein level.
Heymann-Lowenstein Rottgen, Mosel 2016 750ML ($59.95) $39 special, 2 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 Points “The 2016 Riesling Röttgen ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ is pure and flinty on the nose, with bright fruit and mineral aromas on the nose. On the palate, this is a piquant, fresh and well structured as well as intense and persistent Riesling with cacao flavors in the finish. Terribly fresh and piquant, this is a remarkable Riesling. Tasted February 2018.”
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘B’ Uhlen Blaufusser Lay Mosel 2016 750M ($69.95) $49 special, 14 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93+ Points “The 2016 Riesling Uhlen B ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ is pure, fresh and rich at the same time, with flinty aromas on the nose. Full-bodied, precise and piquant on the palate, this is an elegant, fresh and salty Riesling with a lot of tension and length. Powerful. Long.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 Points “This offers a gorgeous nose of candied grapefruit zest, some star fruit, ripe pear and apple, all wrapped into the telltale classy touch of fine spices and herbs so typical of the Estate. The wine is medium-bodied on the palate and leaves a beautifully pure, spicy and mineral-loaded feel in the long and delicately powerful finish. This is a gorgeous wine in the making with a hint of power and nice saltiness in the after-taste.”
Heymann-Lowenstein ‘L’ Uhlen Laubach Grosses Gewachs Riesling, Mosel 2016 750ML ($69.95) $49 special, 13 bottles in stock now
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 93 Points “From a slate soil with 10% chalk, the 2016 Riesling Uhlen L ‘VDP Grosse Lage’ shows licorice, flinty and bright fruit aromas on the nose. Juicy, piquant and tensioned on the palate, this is an intense and complex Riesling with lush and intense fruit. The finish is long and promising. Tasted February 2018.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92+ Points “This offers a stunning even if still rather reduced nose of pear, grapefruit, start fruit, ginger and smoky elements. The wine is beautifully balanced on the palate, where creamy fruits are nicely wrapped into a hint of acidity and some superb mineral and herby elements. The delicately powerful after-taste oozes refinement, under-toned freshness and multi-layered complexity. This is a gorgeous Uhlen L in the making and one with great upside potential as the wine gains in elegance at maturity.”
Müller? Müller? Müller?
The Princes of the Pfalz
Müller-Catoir is a rising star in the world of German Riesling and is on their way to becoming the face of the Pfalz wine scene as a whole. Founded in 1744 their family holdings fall on some of the most premium terroir in the area, encompassing 5 different “Grand Cru” level holdings and giving them access to the entire spectrum of Pfalz terroirs. These terroirs include multiple types of sandstone, fossilized shell limestone, gravel and loess, allowing for a dizzying spectrum of Riesling to be made across the Prädikatswein spectrum. The “House style” is characterized by minimal intervention in the cellar with extended lees aging to emphasize crisp minerality, aromatic complexity and a refreshing salinity British wine critic and writer Jancis Robinson describes the Pfalz as “One of Germany’s most exciting regions” and it’s clear to see why!
In Stock & On Sale Now from Muller-Catoir:
Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten ‘Im Breumel’ Riesling Grosses Gewächs Pfalz 2017 750ML ($79.95) Was $59, Now $49 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott 98 Points “Stand back for the arrival of a giant! Super-fresh nectarine, vanilla and Thai-basil aromas that don’t leave you in any doubt that this is a very remarkable dry riesling. Then the tidal wave of minerality comes through at the finish and sweeps everything away. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Stephen Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 94+ Points “From a 2.8 hectare clos that is the highest, coolest and stoniest (sandstone/gravel) plot of the Bürgergarten, the 2017 Riesling Bürgergarten “Im Breumel” GG offers a deep, ripe, lush and intense bouquet with fascinating flavors of crushed stones and ripe fruits. Lush and intense on the palate, this is a deep, dense, very complex and powerful dry Riesling with lingering salinity and very fine tannins. Great but way too young. Tasted in Haardt, December 2019.”
Wine Spectator 94 Points “Extremely elegant and precisely crafted, with notes of star anise and lavender framing the core of crunchy pear and blood orange flavors. The acidity is appreciable, fueling the flavors and spice accents. Savory mineral details linger on the finish. Best from 2021 through 2031.”
Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Spatlese, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($49.95) Was $39, Now $33 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott – Jamessuckling 95 Points “Stunning nectarine, peach and papaya character, together with lovely succulence and enormous vitality, make this a breathtaking sweet Spätlese with a finish that’s straight as a laser beam and super-clean. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Muller-Catoir Haardter Burgergarten Riesling Trocken, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($49.95) Was $36, Now $29 special, 25 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott 94 Points “Effusive aromas of apricots and lemon zest with hints of summer flowers. At once succulent, graceful and finely nuanced on the palate, then very long and filigree at the finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Grapelive 93 Points “The Burgergarten in the Haardt vineyard as used by the famed Mueller-Catoir, or hill garden, is a Premier Cru site that is composed of weathered yellow sandstone interspersed with layer of loess and clay giving the perfect conditions to make a lush, but crisply dry Riesling of refined elegance and with a concentrated underlying power, which in 2017 is incredible and joyously perfumed. ….The 2017 Burgergarten Trocken [has] exotic tropical fruit and floral aromas with plumeria, jasmine, dried pineapple, gingery/peppery notes and grilled citrus leading the way on the racy palate, this Riesling feels a bit like Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile, adding layers of wild peach, while cherry, tangy apricot and zesty lime notes along with loads of tannin like structure, zippy acidity, chalky stones and a Chablis like steely edge! Air brings more body out and clears the touch of reduction that easily blows and this Riesling becomes in fact more white Burgundy like in some ways, while also gaining hints of spearmint, chamomile and verbena, which clearly are Riesling influences and it is strikingly impressive for keeping its tension , clarity and severity, like a firm GG should…This area can produce monumental dry Riesling, as witnessed here with this Erste Lage Trocken from Mueller-Catoir….Terry Theise, Mueller-Catoir’s famous importer, says the estate produces wines of outstanding transparency and density, and remains emblematic of Riesling at its most sophisticated, and I totally agree, these are amazingly pure wines that are both wildly entertaining in expression and wines of remarkable class and finesse…. This Burgergarten grows on you with every sip and should get even more intriguing with 3 to 5 years more are on it, patience I think will be well rewarded, and I hope I get to revisit it a few more times.”
Stephen Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92+ Points“From yellow-colored sandstone soils, the 2017 Riesling Bürgergarten “VDP. Erste Lage” is intense yet fine and pure on the slightly salty/stony, very elegant nose with its ripe and concentrated yellow-fleshed fruit aromas. The palate is pure and salty, very long and intertwines weathered terroir aromas with an airiness and lingering, very stimulating salinity. The wine is less textured than the Haardter but even more pure, deep, finessed and salty. Bone dry, with less than three grams of residual sugar, this is a concentrated yet still young Riesling that will shine in five years. Tasted in Haardt, December 2019.”
Muller-Catoir Gimmeldingen Riesling, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($29.95) Was $24, Now $21.90 special, 27 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 93 Points “Ripe white and yellow peaches and just enough acidity to lift the medium-full body and give the long finish some real drive. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Muller-Catoir Haardter Muskateller Trocken Pfalz 2017 750ML ($29.95) Was $27, Now $24 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 92 Points “Wonderful pink-grapefruit and muscat nose that bowls you over. So joyful and really rather subtle for a seriously aromatic grape variety. Very bright finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink now.”
Muller-Catoir Haardter Riesling Trocken Pfalz 2017 750ML ($29.95) Was $24, Now $21.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 94 Points “A stunning, bone-dry riesling for this moderate price level! Fine nose of sliced pears and honeysuckle. Stunning freshness and purity on the medium-full palate. The finish is subtlety reminiscent of Mosel. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Grapelive 92 Points“The 2017 Müller-Catoir Haardt Trocken is exotic and highly aromatic with lovely fruit and mineral intensity, it is a wonderful and crisply dry Riesling that reflects the vintage and its remarkable Pfalz terroir.… the talented Martin Franzen [is] running the cellar here. Franzen, who in the past ran the operations at Schlossgut Diel, employs a strict program with a move to organic practices and severe selections in the vineyards, where everything is worked and picked by hand now and focuses on ultra transparency in the wines with a reductive approach, with every wine getting a hand crafted attention to detail. The Haardt, a village bottling is a pure example with expressive bright flavors and a heavenly floral perfume, while being brisk, tangy and dusty dry on the light framed palate. Müller-Catoir does a gentle crush and gives the juice plenty of time on the skins before a slow and soft pressing before an stainless steel fermentation and aging, all to preserve vibrancy and purity, the wines are always stylish and evocative.…The Haardt Riesling Trocken is all from organic grapes that were grown on standstone soils, which gives this wine its pretty nose and steely form, and this 2017 is absolutely seducing with a complex array of sensations that ranges from tropical essences to flinty wet stones, it is clear and with a tiny hint of sunshine in the glass. In the mouth this calcareous influenced Riesling shows jasmine, oyster shell, peach, tart apricot, green apple and saline notes, adding guava/papaya, rosewater and hint of zesty lime.…this one itself is fabulous and a true value offering from this great estate. I am glad I got a few bottles of Müller-Catoir from 2017, they are looking like classics. This is a great Summer refresher, but serious enough to hang out with haute cuisine, it gets more intriguing with matching food, it can go with a wide variety of foods from fresh shellfish, spicy prawns, sushi as well as cured meats, picnic fare, street tacos and Moroccan lemon chicken even. This vivid and zippy young Riesling is a quality white that makes for a nice alternative for Chablis, Kiwi Sauv Blanc and or Albarino, drink it over the next 3 to 5 years.”
Stephen Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 90 Points “From younger vines and partly from sandier soils than the regular, yellow-colored Buntsandstein, the 2017 Riesling Haardt is deep, fine and ripe on the elegant and balanced nose. Full-bodied, lush and intense on the palate, this is a deep, dry, well-balanced and textured Riesling with a ripe but salty-mineral acidity and a long, well-structured and slightly salty finish with nice bitters and citrus flavors. This is an excellent vin de terroir that slowly opens up. It’s an impressive wine in the lower/medium price range. Tasted in December 2019.”
Muller-Catoir Haardt Scheurebe Pfalz 2017 750ML ($29.95) Was $24, Now $21.90 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 93 Points “The whiff of smoke gives the cassis nose of this wine an extra dimension. Concentrated and racy with a dangerous amount of energy. So juicy and vibrant with a long and very clean finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Muller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten Riesling Auslese Pfalz 2015 375ML ($39.95) Was $33, Now $31.90 special, 9 half-bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 94 Points “The 2015 Riesling Auslese Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten is super pure and fine on the nobly concentrated, stony nose with its honey and bright fruit aromas. Rich, sweet, lush and piquant on the palate, this is an excellent Auslese with great finesse and a lingering piquancy. Despite its sweetness, this is a very stimulating and pure Auslese with great ageing potential.”
Muller-Catoir Haardter Mandelring Scheurebe Trocken Pfalz 2017 750ML ($59.95) Was $49, Now $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 95 Points “Why drink a dry white called scheurebe? Here’s the answer. An enormously complex nose of grapefruit, cassis and pineapple, then breathtaking purity and elegance on the palate and a totally uplifting and super-long finish. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.”
Grapelive 93 Points “I love Scheurebe and this Mueller-Catoir is one of, if not the, best dry version, with this ripe and expressive 2017 showing everything the grape has to offer, it delivers intensity and aromatic quality. It’s a thrilling German white wine from one of the most admired wineries in the Pfalz. This vintage is bursting from the glass with jasmine, liquid roses and spearmint lifting to the nose while the light to medium bodied palate delivers tangy grapefruit, white peach, quince, sour apple and pineapple fruits along with chalky mineral, saline, clove spice, wild fennel and the crisp, lip smacking finish keeps things severe and refreshing.… Scheurebe grows best in Calcareous soils, with Muller-Catoir’s Pfalz version regarded as maybe the greatest expression of this grape, in particular their Trocken single Cru Haardter Mandelring example. The full range of wines at this property are amazing from the thrilling dry wines to the finely balanced sweet wines, everything at Mueller-Catoir is class, when it comes to the Pfalz, this and Von Winning are must try wines….Müller-Catoir has gone holistic in recent years and farm mostly organic, but remain very practical with absolute quality demanded of the grapes here, there is no compromise at this place, they focus on purity and terroir. The vineyards in Haardt, where this wine comes from, are composed of primary rock (urgestein) and sandstone, with an increasing proportion of gravel lower on the slopes. This estate and the region has a long history of winegrowing with the Burgergarten site being first planted close to 700 years ago, and, as the winery notes. Mueller-Catoir which has a tradition of reductive winemaking implementing a gentle crush, a long skin contact, slow gentle pressing, and then ferments at warmer, according to the winery again, than customary fermentation temperatures in stainless steel to promote transparency, which this lovely Scheurebe shows, drink it over the next 3 to 5 years.”
Shades of Summer:
Rosé for all day
Sperino is one of the leading lights of Alto Piemonte. Known for intense, aromatic reds, their rosato has become something of a cult favorite, and we’ve sold out quickly each of the last two years. We secured a slightly larger allocation this year, so it’s actually hitting the shelf, but we expect it to disappear post haste again.
Proprieta Sperino ‘Rosa del Rosa’ Rosato Coste della Sesia, Italy 2020 750ML ($21.95) $19 special
Eric Guido Vinous 92 points “The 2020 is an understated and delicate rendition of Rosa Del Rosa. Nuances of peach tea, chamomile, green apple and hints of ginger can all be found with coaxing. It’s silky and pliant in feel, the vibrant acids and mineral tones mixing to create a tug-of-war of sweet and salty tension, as notes of ripe melon give way to pretty inner florals. This tapers off persistent, lightly structured and buzzing with residual energy, completely refreshing the palate with a twang of sour citrus. The Rosa Del Rosa is a blend of Nebbiolo and Vespolina. It’s very enjoyable already, but it will likely blossom further with a bit more time in bottle.”
We think of Peyrassol roses as being especially elegant and nuanced, with excellent minerality and poise and they’ve been customer favorites every year for the quality and value they deliver, and the wines gain polish and elegance the further up the quality spectrum you go.
These are historic wines from the foothills of the massif des Maures along the Mediterranean coast. Wine production dates back to 1256 under the Knights Templar. Since 2001, the estate has been run by the Austruy family, which has invested in the vineyard and winery and has expanded the line up to include non-estate bottlings. The wines are produced organically with limited yields due to the severe climate, low-vigor soils, and age of the vines.
In Stock Now from Peyrassol:
Peyrassol ‘Chateau Peyrassol’ Rose, Cotes de Provence 2020 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Peyrassol ‘Chateau Peyrassol’ Rose, Cotes de Provence 2020 750ML ($479.95) $369 special (that’s only $30.75/bottle!)
Importer note “100% estate fruit, offering the purest expression of a great Provencal terroir. [These are] the oldest vines of the estate from the Girette and Longchamps areas, currently under organic conversion. Pale in color, with soft rose-tinted overtones, Château Peyrassol radiates freshness. It’s subtle nose of citrus, vine peach, apricot and delicate florals is inviting. It has a dense palate, poised and lively, and is notable for its balance, punctuated by a long, fruity finish. Harvested during the cool temperature of the night, the fruits are destemmed and pressed with minimal exposure to oxygen to preserve freshness and aromas. The grapes are vinified by direct pressing and in the course of this process the wine develops its delicate pink color. After fermentation in stainless steel at a controlled temperature, a light racking is completed to retain only the best lees which are then worked carefully to promote both the aromatic expression and the potential of the wine to last over time. 45% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, 12% Ugni Blanc, 10% Syrah, 8% Rolle.”
Winery note “Pale in colour, with soft rose-tinted overtones, Château Peyrassol radiates freshness. Its subtle nose of citrus, vine peach, apricot and fine floral notes is inviting. It has a beautiful, dense palate, delicate and lively, and is notable for its balance and full body, punctuated by a long, fruity finish. It is the perfect accompaniment to fish soups, carpaccios and all varieties of grilled fish, but will also add sparkle to red berry desserts.”
Peyrassol ‘Cuvee des Commandeurs’ Rose, Cotes de Provence 2020 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special
Case-12 Peyrassol ‘Cuvee des Commandeurs’ Rose, Cotes de Provence 2020 750ML ($279.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle!)
Importer note “Cuvée des Commandeurs bottles the essence of quality fruit, seeking to evoke pleasure and delight the senses. This accessible rosé was crafted to provide thirst-quenching freshness with vibrant fruitiness, without sacrificing elegance and complexity. Its rosy appearance is delicate in color and an expressive nose lends charm to this blend. A palate dominated by wild berries: gooseberry and raspberry that reveal themselves in a crisp, silky mouthfeel enhanced with a touch of minerality. 40% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Rolle. Harvested at night to preserve the acidity and in double floor boxes to prevent any early maceration and coloration of the juice. The fruit is directly destemmed and pressed on arrival in the cellar. The alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.”
Peyrassol ‘La Croix de Peyrassol’ Rose, IGP Mediterranee 2020 750ML ($19.95) $16 special
Case-12 Peyrassol ‘La Croix de Peyrassol’ Rose, IGP Mediterranee 2020 750ML ($199.95) $169 special (that’s only $14.08/bottle!)
Importer note “Beautiful pale pink in color, with distinct bluish hues. This expressive blend opens immediately with notes of small red fruits carried on a savory undertone of garrigue. There is a refreshing touch of greenness on the palate which gives this fresh, lively wine its truly thirst-quenching character. An accessible blend in the true style of Provençal rosé: delicate with flavors of white fruit and a hint of minerality. Varietal Composition: 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. With a long history of producing Provençal wines, the Commanderie de Peyrassol has broadened its offering using fruit from its IGP classified vineyards around the Coudonnier area and completed with sourcings from local partnerships. The winery produces this rosé with the goal of creating a more accessible wine with a focus on quality and freshness.”
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2017 Vajra’s Venturing Over
“The Vajra family produced a bevy of stellar wines from both their estates, G.D. Vajra in Barolo and Baudana in Serralunga. The 2017s are deep, fleshy and impeccably balanced. ” –Antonio Galloni, Vinous
Arriving ETA Late July:
G.D. Vajra Bricco delle Viole Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $75 pre-arrival special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Aromas of underbrush, pine forest, woodland berries and cedar form the enticing nose. Full-bodied and savory, the structured palate delivers ripe Morello cherry, raspberry compote, star anise and cinnamon before closing on pipe tobacco notes. Tightly knit but refined tannins provide the backbone, while surprisingly fresh acidity for the hot vintage keeps it balanced. Drink 2024–2032.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points “The 2017 Barolo Bricco Delle Viole is the darker fruited of the G.D. Vajra sites and has rounded floral aromatics of crushed roses, resin, and cranberry cocktail. The palate is ripe and inviting, with building structure and notes of fresh red cherry, blood orange, and clove. The warmth of the vintage is felt without sacrificing lift. Drink 2025-2050”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2017 Barolo Bricco delle Viole is classy and elegant to the core. Medium in body and wonderfully translucent, the 2017 captures all of the finesse of this site. Naturally, the 2017 also shows the ripeness of the year, but it retains its sublime sense of poise. The 2017 Bricco delle Viole is one of the clear stand outs of the year.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “The G.D. Vajra 2017 Barolo Bricco delle Viole is packed with medium dark cherry fruit and plum. The wine also shows a savory side, with spice, hazelnut cream, licorice and lightly fragrant potting soil. This vintage sits solid on the palate, wrapping thickly over the senses, thanks to its creamy, fruit-driven consistency and well-managed tannins. These vines are high in elevation, ranging from 400 to 480 meters in altitude. Those higher elevations are key to interpreting a vintage that saw heat such as this. Production is 15,000 bottles.”
James Suckling 95 points “Aromas of ripe strawberries and flowers follow through to a full body with firm, chewy tannins that are silky and very polished. That palate is very clear and precise. Attractive, if chewy finish. Try after 2024.”
G.D. Vajra ‘Coste di Rose’ Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($ 69.95) $56.50 pre-arrival special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 96 points “Wild berry, menthol and tilled earth aromas mingle with whiffs of dark spice. Linear and savory, the lithe palate is already immediate, featuring juicy raspberry, red cherry, crushed mint and star anise accompanied by taut, polished tannins. Tangy acidity keeps it fresh and bright.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “With fruit from higher-elevation vineyards in the village of Barolo, the 2017 Barolo Coste di Rose is quite elegantly downplayed and fragile. The wine reveals wild berry, cassis and lots of blue flower or lilac. A pretty mineral note recalls crushed limestone and is present through the long and polished mouthfeel. This wine overperforms, considering the challenges of this vintage that saw extreme weather, from spring frost to scorching summer temperatures. These vineyard sites performed better than most. Some 4,800 bottles were released.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “The 2017 Barolo Coste di Rose has bright aromatics of candied raspberry, apricot, anise, and dusty earth. The palate is medium-bodied, with fine tannins and notes of dried wild strawberry, fresh roses, and mineral-rich earth. This wine is open and inviting, while maintaining freshness and drive. Drink 2024-2040.”
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2017 Barolo Coste di Rose is pretty, supple and inviting. Some of the tannins need to resolve, but this is a young Barolo after all. The Coste di Rose doesn’t have the sensuality of the Albe or the pedigree of the Viole, but it nevertheless has so much to give. Crushed flowers, sweet red berry fruit, mint, crushed rocks and sage are some of the many notes that linger. I won’t be surprised if the 2017 is even better than this note suggests once it softens a bit.”
The average price is $73
“Today, it is just breathtaking.” –Antonio Galloni
G.D. Vajra Ravera Barolo DOCG 2017 750ML ($89.95) $75 pre-arrival special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 97 points “From the township of Novello and from what is now widely recognized as one of the denomination’s top vineyard sites, this is just stunning, offering intense aromas of wild berries, new leather, floral notes, camphor and grilled herb. The delicious, structured palate shows finesse and power, featuring ripe red cherry, blood orange, cedar, licorice and mineral notes suggesting tangy iron. Noble tannins provide support. Reflecting the vintage, this won’t need years to come around but will also age well for at least another decade. Drink 2022–2032.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points “Lifted and herbaceous, the 2017 Barolo Ravera is noted by aromas of fresh pine, ripe red cherry, licorice, and menthol. The palate has depth without weight and is noted by ripe raspberry fruit, apricot, and black tea. Drink 2024-2050.”
James Suckling 96 points “Very floral with pure fruit, such as cherries and raspberries. It’s full-bodied with ultra fine tannins that are energetic and focused. The center palate shows such wonderful fruit character, yet it’s weightless and energetic. Try after 2026.”
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2017 Barolo Ravera is gorgeous right out of the gate. I am so impressed with its depth and pedigree. Rose petal, sweet red berry fruit, lavender, spice and dried herbs are all finely delineated in a Barolo of tremendous presence. Orange peel, cinnamon and cedar develop later, adding shades of dimension. Time in the glass brings out the wine’s stature and power. The 2017 is going to be fascinating to follow. Today, it is just breathtaking. That’s all there is to it.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94+ points “The G.D. Vajra 2017 Barolo Ravera shows solid build and consistency, with more rich and saturated fruit compared to the other Barolo releases from this historic estate. The Ravera cru offers broad shoulders with a tight textural fabric. That powerful approach makes a good sounding board for the wine’s dark cherry, plum, dark mineral and spice flavors. This is more of a red meat wine. 6,000 bottles were released.”
G.D. Vajra Freisa
Much like Cabernet Franc, Freisa is often passed over in favor of its child grape: Nebbiolo. Once widely planted throughout Piedmonte, Freisa is now only found in in 1000 hectares across the region. With that relative scarcity in mind, Kye is a unique find. Sourced from a single vineyard in Barolo at 1100 feet above sea level, Kye delivers rustic aromas of turned loam, hyssop and seco tobacco leaf. Flavor profile is similar to Nebbiolo but with more emphasis on botanical and spice elements. In addition to a lip smacking fruit component evocative of fresh cranberry and Bing cherries, there is an electrifying Szechuan pepper note that makes each taste mesmerizing. Acid and tannins are medium plus and perfectly harmonized after a handful of years in the bottle. There is plenty of room for Kye to continue evolving with more bottle aging, but provides immediate reward for the impatient. Given how this wine is sturdy without being overpowering, Kye is ready for a plethora of cuisine. Lebanese, Chinese or even pizza would be at home with this Northern Italian gem.
G.D. Vajra Freisa ‘Kye’ Langhe Rosso 2015 70ML ($39.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 92+ points “The 2015 Langhe Freisa Kyé is incredibly finessed. Once huge and bombastic, the Kyé has developed into a much more refined wine in recent vintages. The 2015 Kyé is dark and mysterious, not to mention quite closed in on itself. I won’t be surprised if there is more to this wine. Time will tell.”
The next best price is $45.99
Mountain Reds from across Napa
For those looking to experience what the ‘Luxury’ category of Napa Valley Cabernet tastes like but aren’t interested in forking over the typical toll, half bottles provide a great hack. They’re perfect for weeknights, when quality is often valued over quantity. In another Vinopolis coup, we’ve just secured insane pricing on half bottles from two of Napa Valley’s top producers.
La Jota’s roots in Howell Mountain date back to 1898, but their modern reincarnation began in 1982. Over the ensuing 40+ years, La Jota has secured its reputation as one of Howell Mountain’s benchmark producers. Across the valley, Mt Brave is making equally exciting ‘Mountain Cabernet’ high up in the famous hills of Mt Veeder. The vineyards that produce both wines benefit from their perch above Napa Valley’s stubborn fog line, resulting in wines that are not only more structured and fresh, but also (paradoxically) more generous. There’s a reason why many Napa enthusiasts remain so enchanted by the region’s hillside vineyards.
So take advantage of these attractively priced half bottles, and spice up your weeknight drinking.
Arriving this Friday:
La Jota Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain 2014 375ML ($59.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 96+ points “Checking in as a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is another gorgeous wine from winemaker Chris Carpenter. Brought up in 90% new French oak, this classic, tight, focused beauty boasts sensational notes of crème de cassis, graphite, toasty oak, and ample minerality. These all flow to a full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, layered, tannic 2014 that has remarkable purity, impeccable balance, and a great, great finish. It’s classic, old-school, yet awesome Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that needs 3-4 years of bottle age and will keep for 2-3 decades.”
Robert Parker 95 points “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is 75.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and the rest Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged in 89% new French oak. The wine displays the great fruit that is possible from these two sites owned by the Jacksons. It has an opaque purple color, a big, sweet kiss of crème de cassis and blackberry with a touch of lead pencil shavings, vanilla and incense. It is full-bodied and dense, with moderately high tannins but beautiful sweetness and fruit. Drink it over the next 25-30 years.”
Wine Enthusiast 95 points “Cellar Selection. Blended with small percentages of 12% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, and then aged in 90% new French oak for 19 months, this stellar effort offers reduced oak, bark, toast and clove aromas and flavors alongside sizable, structured tannin and hearty ripeness. Black currant and chocolate dust a layer of tobacco. Enjoy best 2024 through 2034. -Virginie Boone”
Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder 2014 375ML ($49.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Robert Parker 95+ points “The top score, though, has to go to the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is 90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest small quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. This wine has an opaque purple color, a big, sweet kiss of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, some graphite, a juicy, full-bodied, savory mouthfeel, and excellent purity and underlying balance. This seamlessly rich mountain Cabernet Sauvignon should age effortlessly for two decades or more.”
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The star of the show is clearly the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon which has everything you could want from a Mountain Cabernet. Cassis, blueberries, violets, leafy herbs, and graphite notes all emerge from this full-bodied, concentrated, yet plush, forward, incredibly sexy 2014. With no hard edges, impeccable balance, and a great finish, drink this beauty anytime over the coming 15+ years.”
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