In Today’s Newsletter:
Spain’s Greatest Whites?
Viña Mein’s Compelling Single Vineyards
Thörle’s Soon-To-Be Legendary Whites
Newly Marked Down Wines
From Champagne, Châteauneuf & Beyond
Vajra’s Piedmontese Classics
A Return to Greatness
Château de Vaudieu
Zorzal’s Navarra Values
Wines of Terroir from Rioja’s Neighbor
Volpaia’s Perennial Tuscan Favorites
Smart Buys from Germany
Willi Haag & Von Winning
Spain’s Greatest Whites?
Viña Mein’s Compelling Single Vineyards
A top case in point is the wines of Viña Mein, in Ribeiro. Just inland from the more famous Rias Baixas, the main grape at Viña Mein is Treixadura, which combines the saline notes you often get in Albarino with more texture and golden stone fruit flavors. These are electric wines which have the intensity and complexity that you expect out of Great Wine, in a distinctly coastal Spanish idiom. The wines we’re highlighting were made by the talented team at Comando G, who convinced owner Javier Alen to separate out different sites and expand the different vessels used for elevage.
While it’s easy and tempting to compare these wines to something like Burgundy (specifically Grand Cru Chablis), we’d like to note that these are very much their own genres—it’s just that these specific examples are more or less without peer in Spain. If ever we needed proof that the expansion of the wine world has been a good thing, these are some of the first wines we’d point towards. We have two single vineyard bottlings left in stock from Viña Mein, both excellent and worth paying attention to.
In Stock Now:
Viña Mein ‘Eiras Altas’, Ribeiro 2016 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special, 15 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93+ points “The lemony and citrusy 2016 Eiras Altas comes from the vineyard that surrounds the winery, a place that was mentioned in old books linked to the San Clodio Monastery, where the Ribeiro wine was born. They used a blend of 70% Treixadura, 20% Loureiro and 10% Albariño from three hectares planted in 1987 on soils of white granite sand. The full clusters were pressed and the juice fermented in oak foudre, stainless steel and egg-shaped concrete vats with indigenous yeasts and then matured in those vessels for ten months with lees but without bâtonnage. This has great freshness and purity, great tension and length, it feels very young and undeveloped. There are some balsamic notes, possibly from the Loureiro, which they try not to pick early. It has tingling acidity that gives an electric sensation. This should develop nicely in bottle, and even if it’s drinkable now, I’d wait a little more before pulling the cork. 5,544 bottles were filled in September 2017.”
This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Viña Mein ‘Tega Do Sal’, Ribeiro 2016 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93 points “The single-vineyard 2016 Tega do Sal is 90% Treixadura and 10% Albariño from the Vilerma zone, from 25-year-old plants on granite soils that have more clay and some laminar, schist-like texture, soils that give a little more volume. There’s also a high percentage of Treixadura and an east-facing exposition that provides good ripeness. They try to tame that natural power, as they are looking for tension in a place that would naturally deliver more volume, so they decided to ferment the Treixadura in stainless steel. It has great finesse and elegance; it’s floral and has a fresh palate with very good acidity. 2,745 bottles produced.”
Love Spanish wine? We have 23 whites and 125 reds from Spain in stock now. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Do Ferreiro, Terroir al Límit, Vega Sicilia and more, on our web store.
Thörle’s Soon-To-Be Legendary Whites
Thörle’s top Riesling, from the Hölle vineyard, is every bit the equal of the top GG’s from Dönnhoff, Schäfer-Fröhlich, and other top producers in Germany, but is still less than $37/btl by the six-pack. While the Silvaner is one of the finest expressions of the underrated variety we’ve tasted in some time. These wines are currently barely listed for sale anywhere else in the U.S. (and certainly not at these prices), so if you want a chance at them, act accordingly—in a few years these prices are going to seem ridiculously low.
In Stock Now:
Thörle Saulheimer Hölle Riesling, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($44.95) $39 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Thörle Saulheimer Hölle Riesling, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($259.95) $219 special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 96 points “Still youthful, but this has a complex stone-fruit nose. Concentrated and racy with great energy at the very long, chalky finish. Great aging potential. Drink or hold.”
Thörle Saulheimer Probstey Silvaner, Rheinhessen 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 31 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 94 points “Still quite yeasty from long maturation on lees, but that accentuates the smoky and herbal complexity of this remarkable dry silvaner. Just a hint of oak in support of the creamy, mid-weight body and long, silky finish. Drink or hold.”
Love German wine? We have over 300 different options (not a typo!) in stock now. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Dönnhoff, JJ Prüm, Molitor and more, on our web store.
Newly Marked Down Wines
From Champagne, Châteauneuf & Beyond
Domaine Vocoret et Fils Valmur, Chablis Grand Cru 2014 750ML ($79.95) Was $59 Now $49, 36+ bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer 92+ points “Much less expressive on the nose than the Blanchots but still with noteworthy incipient complexity to the aromas of citrus peel, white flowers, wet stone, white pepper and clove. Boasts terrific grain and thrust, but this youthfully dry, uncompromising wine is downright brooding today in spite of its essential light touch. Incisive flavors of citrus fruits, white flowers and ginger are further lifted by subtle herbal accents. This is excellent.”
Burghound 92 points “In contrast to the Vaudésir this is much better with much more evident Chablis character on the green fruit and citrus-infused nose that displays an appealing hint of mineral-reduction. There is excellent punch and detail to the relatively rich and powerful flavors that possess reasonably good mid-palate concentration before culminating in a notably stony and lingering finish that is presently quite tightly wound. This is definitely going to require a few years to further flesh out and develop better depth but the balance and underlying material are present for that to occur.”
The average price nationally is $83
Thierry Triolet Brut Rosé, Champagne NV 750ML ($44.95) Was $36 Now $33, 33 bottles in stock now
Importer note “The Rosé Champagne combines a base of Chardonnay with 35% red wine. The red wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In very ripe vintages, M. Triolet will keep a vat of “Pinot” and allows it to mature in the cellar. The red wine is blended with Chardonnay and the “assemblage” undergoes the second fermentation followed by an extended period “sur lattes”. It is bottled with the “liqueur de triage”, a blend of sugar and yeasts (11 grams sugar), to produce a charming Rosé Champagne.”
Now even lower!
Thierry Triolet Cuvée Grande Réserve Blanc de Blancs, Champagne NV 750ML ($44.95) Was $36 Now $33, 22 bottles in stock now
Importer note “The Grande Réserve is made from 95% Chardonnay and 5% of an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It is is a blend of vintages which includes a large proportion of Réserve wines. The champagne stays an average of 3 years “sur lie” before disgorgement. Dosage is 10 grams.”
Now even lower!
Châteauneuf du Pape
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau, Rhône 2016 1.5L ($199.95) Was $179 Now $159, 13 magnums in stock now
James Suckling 98 points “Impressive, complex array of wild cherries, raspberries, garrigue herbs, lightly spiced pastry and stony, chalky minerals. Super-fresh florals. The palate has superb texture, roundness, completeness, depth and detail. Powerful yet elegant with powdery tannins and essence-like red fruit. Super-fleshy, supple and dense core, then strong at the edges. Layer upon layer peels away on the finish. Resounding finesse and equilibrium, showing the full potential of the plateau La Crau. Drink or hold.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “Undoubtedly one of the top vintages of this wine, the 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape La Crau features classy notes of crushed stones and black tea to go along with ripe raspberries and black cherries. Full-bodied yet silky, there’s more power and richness in La Crau than in Piedlong, yet there’s commensurate elegance and finesse. The wine grows in intensity on the finish without ever seeming heavy or overripe, instead offering hints of tea and licorice.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95 points “Brilliant ruby. Ripe cherry and red berries on the deeply perfumed nose, along with hints of smoky minerals and potpourri. Palate-staining cherry and raspberry liqueur flavors show impressive clarity and depth, and a spine of juicy acidity provides lift and focus. Finishes extremely long and sweet, delivering solid thrust, a hint of candied flowers and suave, harmonious tannins.”
Vignobles Prissette Villa Symposia Coteaux du Languedoc l’Origine 2013 750ML ($39.95) Was $33 Now $26, 34 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 93 points “The terrific 2013 Pézenas l’Origine shows the hallmark spice-laced perfume of this appellation. Lots of red fruits, crushed flowers, spice and violet nuances give way to a medium-bodied, elegant and sweetly fruited 2013 that has fine tannin and a seamless, sexy texture. Drink this beauty anytime over the coming 5-6 years.”
Tua Rita Giusto di Notri Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2012 750ML ($99.95) Was $79 Now $69, 13 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 94 points “A dark, brooding wine, the 2012 Giusto di Notri presents a compelling array of dark stone fruits, grilled herbs, smoke, tobacco and menthol. The power of Suvereto and these Bordeaux varieties are both super-expressive in a virile, imposing wine loaded with personality and gorgeous, totally resonant fruit. This is a terrific showing.”
Vajra’s Piedmontese Classics
In Stock Now:
G.D. Vajra Viola delle Viole Barbera d’Alba Superiore, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($37.95) $29 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 93+ points “This wine carries the fantasy name “Viola delle Viole,” when in fact, its fruit comes from the Bricco delle Viole vineyard and the Bricco Bertone, two sites with different soil types, one adding structure and one adding aromatic purity. The G.D. Vajra 2017 Barbera d’Alba Superiore Viola delle Viole opens to an inky almost impenetrable appearance. The bouquet opens to robust aromas of blackberry jam and cherry preserves. You feel the heat and richness of the vintage, and there’s no way around it. The 2017 growing season produced very concentrated fruit with smaller berry size due to heat and drought. In effect, you get a super-sized Barbera that ups the ante in terms of extraction and intensity. There is a point of almost-sweetness on the close followed by good acidity. A pairing with marinated or spicy barbecued meat might work best. Some 12,000 bottles were released. Honestly, I’m not a fan of overripe wines, but I make an exception with Barbera because this grape handles the warmest growing seasons with grace and always offers enough acidity to balance things out.
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2017 Barbera d’Alba Superiore is plush, racy and flat-out delicious. Raspberry jam, cinnamon, dried flowers, sweet tobacco and cedar all flesh out in a forward, plush Barbera that will drink well right out the gate. The Superiore always needs a few years to fully emerge. I imagine that will be the case here as well. Even so, the 2017 is an especially open-knit version of this wine.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Elegant and expressive, this red evokes cherry, raspberry and floral notes, aligned to a refined structure. This is balanced and leaves an aftertaste of fruit, tobacco and iron. Best from 2023 through 2043.”
Kerin O’keefe-Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Aromas of woodland berry, new leather, camphor and pressed rose waft out of the glass. Juicy and delicious, the chewy palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and white pepper. Polished tannins and fresh acidity give it an immediate appeal but this also offers several years of drinking pleasure. Drink through 2028. Editor’s choice. – Kerin O’Keefe”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “If you were to consider the entire portfolio of wines made in the Barolo appellation, this wine always stands in its own little corner. Albe is a brand on its own, and it represents one of the most versatile, accessible and well-priced Baroli to emerge from the appellation. The G.D. Vajra 2016 Barolo Albe sets off on the right foot, offering forthcoming intensity with forest fruit, wild cherry, crushed stone and blue flowers. Winemaking is straightforward in stainless steel, and the wine finishes in Slavonian oak casks. Some 40,000 bottles are hitting the market now.
Antonio Galloni 91 points “Vajra’s Barolo Albe is bright, floral and wonderfully lifted in 2016. Sweet tobacco, cedar, blood orange, mint, licorice, dried red cherry and sage give the 2016 lovely savory brightness to match its mid-weight structure. Gracious and light on its feet, the Albe has so much to offer.”
G.D. Vajra Bricco delle Viole, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($79.95) $69 special, 12 bottles in stock now
Wine & Spirits 95 points “Bricco delle Viole, a cru that rises up to 1,575 feet on the Barolo commune’s western edge, has clear views of the Alps. This wine channels some of that Alpine coolness in its elegant feel: Vibrant acidity propels the wine’s spiced cherry and plum fruit while lush, polished tannins draw it out through a long finish.”
Grapelive 95 points “One of Italian’s treasures, the Vajra Bricco delle Viole Barolo is fast becoming a must have wine for Nebbiolo enthusiasts…you would be rewarded by not missing this gorgeous 2015 version, which lacks for nothing in the big league of top Barolo bottlings!….The 2015 Bricco delle Viole is luxurious and has Burgundy like grace on the palate enjoying its plush and youthful fruit, but underneath there is classic structure and character with pure Nebbiolo seduction flowing across the full bodied palate with deep red berry, plum and black cherry fruit along with flashes of mulberry and strawberry as well as a subtle meatiness, anise, chalky stones, cedar and delicate rose petals. This wine, which is already drinking fabulous should continue to grown in dimension and add layers, if you can’t wait you’ll find it ever changing in the glass and certainly I would suggest building and evening and meal around exploring it. The Bricco delle Viole, the hill of violets, is an iconic wine and sets the tone for understanding the Vajra’s wines….The Bricco delle Viole is one of the last sites to be picked in Barolo and this long hang time really elevates this wine with incredible depth and there is always a Grand Cru Core d’Or feel here with a sense of minerallity and finesse. Vajra is traditional in the winemaking, taking great care in the vineyard and it the cellars with each cluster being rigorously sorts and individually berry de-stemming before a lengthy maceration and gentle handling of the wine through primary fermentation. The top Vajra Barolo sees close to 42 months in large Slavonian casks, mostly 25 and 50 hectoliters to allow this fantastic Nebbiolo to fully develop all of its beauty and stunning nuances… I am always grateful for being able to try his wines, these are too good to miss!”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94+ points “The 2015 Barolo Bricco Delle Viole is a delicate and pure expression of Nebbiolo. The wine shows its naked beauty with pride, provocatively semi-dressed in lacy, floral aromas of wild rose and pressed violets. At this young age, the wine exhibits a gentle mix of fruity and floral characteristics that merge into the bouquet with intrepidness. The fruit from this vineyard within the Barolo township has maintained its freshness and crispness despite the heat of the 2015 growing season. I think it would be a lovely match for a veal piccata and cream sauce, with parsley and capers.”
G.D. Vajra ‘Coste di Rose’, Barolo DOCG 2016 750ML ($79.95) $59 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 95 points “Dusty cherry, black currant, eucalyptus and hay aromas and flavors highlight this energetic red. There is purity to the beam of fruit, and while the structure is muscular, the lasting impression is of sweet fruit. Best from 2023 through 2045.”
James Suckling 95 points “This has some very attractive rose perfume and anise spice with raspberry, redcurrant and red-cherry aromas. Blueberry pastry, too. So perfumed. The palate has very fine, almost crystalline tannins and such intense, juicy and vivaciously delivered flavors of essence-like red fruit. So precise. Drinkable now, but with potential for long-term cellaring.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2016 Barolo Coste di Rose is plump, juicy and forward – all qualities that make it one of the more approachable wines in the Vajra range. Plump dark cherry, plum, licorice, spice and menthol all flesh out in a racy, juicy Barolo that will drink well right out of the gate. Plush fruit and silky tannins add to the wine’s voluptuous feel and early accessibility. This is very good, but it is not particularly complex.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “Boasting a lithe, mid-weight style and a very silky finish, the G.D. Vajra 2016 Barolo Coste di Rose is fragrant, floral and delicate. The bouquet here is almost all wild rose, violet and honeysuckle or jasmine. The fruity component of the wine is fine and light with cassis, white cherry and cranberry. Fruit comes from a 1.5-hectare parcel inside the Coste di Rose cru with a high percentage of well-draining sandy soils that contribute to the wine’s graceful textural embroidery. There is a hint of cherry or raspberry sweetness on the finish. A mere 4,800 bottles are hitting the market now. This is the second vintage produced.”
Kerin O’keefe-Wine Enthusiast 94 points “Red berry, rose, dark spice and menthol form the nose while the graceful palate offers juicy Marasca cherry, strawberry compote and licorice. Bright acidity and polished tannins provide support and impart finesse. Drink through 2031. – Kerin O’Keefe”
G.D. Vajra Ravera, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($89.95) $79 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 95 points “The 2015 Barolo Ravera captures all the best the vintage has to offer. More importantly, it has that extra level of textural richness and sweetness that the Bricco delle Viole does not have, at least not today. Creamy and beautifully textured in the glass, the 2015 is a total winner. Bright red raspberry and pomegranate fruit notes are lifted, while expressive floral and blood orange overtones add brightness. The 2015 suggests that the Ravera might, in time, become the flagship wine here. Don’t miss it!”
Wine & Spirits 93 points “Aldo and Milena Vaira first bottled a wine from their vines in Ravera as a single cru in 2010. The 2015 is powerful and meaty, with flavors of thick-skinned cherry and plum layered with notes of tar, licorice and tobacco. Aromas of rose and orange peel add brightness even as dense, mineral tannins close in around the fruit. This is a bottle that requires patience.”
G.D. Vajra Freisa ‘Kye’ Langhe Rosso, Piedmont 2015 750ML ($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.”
G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 90 points “The 2018 Langhe Nebbiolo emerges from a parcel in Sinio. Dark fruit, spice, earthy notes and a good bit of tannin give the Vajra’s Langhe Nebbiolo a decidedly brooding, powerful feel and quite a bit more seriousness than is typical at this level. Sweet red berry fruit, mint and spice add freshness alongside bright acidity as the 2018 opens up in the glass. This is such a pretty and expressive wine.”
G.D. Vajra ‘Clare J.C.’ Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2019 750ML ($24.95) $19 special, 3 bottles in stock now
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 92+ points “Although this wine has been produced since 2014, it is a new discovery to me—and a terrific one at that. I’ll start off with the beautiful graphics on the label that were inspired by the winemaking protocols penned in 1606 by Gian Battista Croce, a jeweler for the House of Savoia who dabbled in wine. The G.D. Vajra 2019 Langhe Nebbiolo Claré J.C. is a pure expression of Nebbiolo, with about one-fifth whole-cluster fermentation. Following suggestions to serve the wine slightly chilled, I tasted my sample at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and I would recommend the same to you. This wine offers an innovative and playful look at the normally austere, long-term Nebbiolo grape. In fact, this Langhe Nebbiolo borrows from Beaujolais. You’ll love the vibrant, tonic and lively fruit that pops from the glass with focused intensity. The palate is lean and crisp. Some 12,000 bottles were released in March 2020, and that price point is unbeatable. I am absolutely smitten.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 92 points “Wow, the 2019 Vajra Clare JC explodes from the glass with masses of crushed raspberry and strawberry fruits, complicated by sweet and savory herbs, along with crushed stone minerality. On the palate, fleshy textures are quickly firmed up by a mix of tart red berries, with zesty acids, a slight frizzante spritz, and a coating of liquid violet florals. The finish is long and lightly structured, displaying a lasting and unmistakable note of red licorice with hints of spiced orange. This is wonderfully expressive and bridges the gap between Red and Rosé; please pour me another. Of note, the 2019 Claré JC was gently fermented with about 20% whole cluster fruit with malolactic completed in stainless steel, hence the perceivable effervescence.”
Love Piedmont? We have nearly 200 wines from Piedmont in stock now. Shop the entire selection on our web store, including famous names like Cappellano and Gaja, as well as large formats from Vajra.
A Return to Greatness
Château de Vaudieu
The estate sits on a confluence of soils and the myriad of terroirs yield exemplary complexity in the wines, which are made by the all-star team of Laurent Brechet and Philippe Cambie. The wines show Cambie’s trademark style, with big, opulent fruit and power to spare. This is one of the truly elite producers in all of the Southern Rhône and it’s always a treat to sell you these wines.
In Stock Now:
Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G, Rhône 2017 750ML ($119.95) $89 special, 14 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points “The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Amiral G. is, as always, all Grenache brought up all in demi-muids. It’s unquestionably the most opulent, sexy, and expansive in the lineup, with overflowing notes of kirsch and blackberry fruits, incense, dried garrigue, and spice, full body, and no hard edges. Its incredible opulence and decadence are delivered with no sensation of weight or heaviness. This magical, thrilling beauty needs to be tasted to be believed. It’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for 15+ years or more.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “Like the l’Avenue, the 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Amiral G is 100% Grenache aged in demi-muids. Unlike the l’Avenue, the Amiral G is more about opulence and power. It’s full-bodied, ripe and plush, with impressive layers of black cherries, stone fruit, licorice and chocolate spice cake. Concentrated and chewy on the finish, it has all the ingredients for greatness—and it should get there relatively quickly, then drink well for at least a decade.-JC”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95-96 points “Lurid ruby-red. Assertive red berry and cherry liqueur aromas are complemented by building Asian spice, incense and vanilla accents. Concentrated and fleshy in the mouth, offering alluringly sweet raspberry, cherry pie, cinnamon and star anise flavors and hints of bitter chocolate and cola. Becomes more energetic with air and finishes with fabulous, floral-tinged persistence and velvety tannins that fold smoothly and quickly into the wine’s sweet, clinging fruit.”
Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône 2017 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 30 bottles in stock now
Case-6 Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône 2017 750ML ($299.95) $219 special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Moving to the 2017s and starting with the base Châteauneuf Du Pape, it’s a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah that was brought up mostly in demi-muids. Revealing a ruby/purple hue as well as notes of black raspberries, kirsch, garrigue, incense, and loamy soil and earth, this beauty hits the palate with beautiful depth of fruit, a layered, rounded, sexy texture, no hard edges, remarkable purity, and just tons of charm. Drink it any time over the coming decade or more.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 91-92 points “Deep red. Highly perfumed red berry and floral aromas are complemented by suggestions of cracked pepper and smoky minerals. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering ripe raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors braced by a core of juicy acidity. In a seamless, energetic style, displaying a smooth blend of richness and finesse and finishing gently sweet and impressively long, with even tannins and building spiciness.”
Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G, Rhône 2016 1.5L ($299.95) $199 special, 11 magnums in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 99 points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Amiral G. is based all on Grenache and comes from a single plot of very old Grenache vines (all rolled stone soils) that was destemmed and brought up in demi-muids. Just screaming “Grenache!” at the top of its lungs with its sweet bouquet of black raspberries, candied violets, baking spices, and crushed rock-like minerality, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness and density, a weightless texture, no hard edges, and awesome length. It’s a sensational, borderline perfect wine that has everything you want from a bottle of wine. Give it a year or three, and it’s going to cruise for 15+.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “This exemplary estate, owned by Laurent Brechet, has been on a roll. The 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape Amiral G, 100% Grenache aged in demi-muids, is a full-bodied, lush wine jammed with complex notions of tree bark, cola, allspice, anise and plummy fruit. At 15.4% alcohol, there’s plenty of power, but the wine never seems warm or heavy, instead feeling rich and velvety on the palate and ending long and spicy. With just 5,000 bottles produced, it may be tough to find, but it will be worth the search.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 96 points “Lurid ruby. A highly complex bouquet evokes red and dark berry preserves, candied lavender, sandalwood and smoky minerals, with Asian spice and vanilla notes in the background. Sappy and alluringly sweet, displaying palate-staining raspberry, boysenberry and spicecake flavors and slow-building florality. Shows impressive power on the sappy, penetrating finish, where the lavender and spice notes come back emphatically.”
Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue, Rhône 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 special, 13 bottles in stock now
Jeb Dunnuck 97+ points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape L’Avenue is all Grenache sourced from a single parcel near the estate and aged 18 months in demi-muids. This deeply colored beauty boasts a huge perfume of black raspberries, blackberries, dried flowers, bouquet garni, and sandy/loamy soil notes. With a powerful, concentrated, structured style, incredible purity of fruit, and tons of tannin on the finish, hide bottles for 3-5 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following decade or more.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape l’Avenue is entirely Grenache from the lieu-dit Vaudieu, aged in demi-muids. Loaded with black cherries, cedar and vanilla, it’s a full-bodied, plush sexpot of a wine. Velvety, intense, long and layered, this wine has it all. If only there were more than 350 cases of this elixir.”
Wine Spectator 96 points “Intense, with a gorgeous core of crushed plum, boysenberry and blackberry pâte de fruit flavors, inlaid liberally with fruit cake, licorice snap and graphite notes. Fruit pumps through the finish while a graphite edge lends support and a black tea hint checks in. Best from 2020 through 2040. 75 cases imported.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 95 points “Glistening ruby-red. Powerful red and blue fruit, floral pastille, exotic spice and incense aromas pick up a smoky mineral nuance as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and expansive in the mouth, offering spice- and smoke-inflected raspberry, boysenberry, lavender pastille and succulent herb flavors and a touch of candied licorice. Finishes seamless, sweet and impressively long, with an echo of juicy red fruit and delicate tannins that add discreet grip.”
Love Rhône reds? We have over 150 different options in stock now. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Henri Bonneau, Saint Cosme, Vieux Télégraphe and more, on our web store.
Zorzal’s Navarra Values
Wines of Terroir from Rioja’s Neighbor
Like many Spanish wines, Zorzal’s have a ton of immediate appeal, with rich textures and juicy fruit flavors. But they’re also loaded with character thanks to a light touch in the cellar (native fermentations, minimal new oak) allowing the grapes and terroirs to shine through. The lineup has been a hit with regulars who gravity towards Spain since the wines arrived over the summer. So if you’re looking for a new value play, look no further.
In Stock Now:
Viña Zorzal Corral de los Altos, Navarra 2018 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 92 points “All the guest winemakers that take part in the Lecciones de Vuelo joint venture with Viña Zorzal are offered to produce their interpretation of the paraje Corral de los Altos in Fitero. The 2018 Corral de los Altos is Zorzal’s own interpretation of a 45-year-old plot of 2.1 hectares of Garnacha planted on a north-facing stony part of the village. The grapes fermented in stainless steel with some 25% full clusters and indigenous yeasts and matured in seven used (second and third use) 500-liter oak barrels. This has contained ripeness and a medium to full-bodied palate with the classical chalky tannins and texture from the limestone-rich soils and the length and tastiness they provide”
Viña Zorzal ‘Cuatro del Cuatro’, Navarra 2018 750ML ($36.95) $29 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 94 points “The pure Graciano 2018 Cuatro del Cuatro was first produced in 2015 as an homage to the Sanz brothers’ father, who kept his Graciano vines when the majority ripped them up. They have seen that, with a soft vinification, the variety is not as rustic as most think and, in fact, can be quite elegant. 2018 was a tricky vintage for the variety, and the wine has moderate alcohol (13.3%), a very low pH (3.35) and notable acidity (six grams of tartaric acid per liter). It was produced with grapes grown in the village of Corella (especially from a vineyard planted in 1978), which has more Mediterranean influence that Fitero, the other village where they have the majority of their vineyards. This is a super serious Graciano, fresher than the majority of varietal bottlings out there, as they have lost the fear of harvesting it earlier, and it delivers a very spicy wine, with lots of black and even white peppercorns. I think this is very much in line with the 2016. It matured in used oak barrels of different sizes, and they did a barrel selection to produce 2,900 bottles of it.”
Viña Zorzal Garnacha, Navarra 2019 750ML ($17.95) $14 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 91 points “The entry-level red simply called 2019 Garnacha is what they define as their regional bottling, using grapes from the villages of de Corella, Cintruénigo and Fitero, produced in an approachable and easy-to-understand way. It had a gentle vinification, starting with grapes of moderate ripeness with a good pH, fermented with indigenous yeasts and using 20% full clusters. The difference in vintage is noticeable when tasted with a majority of 2018s; this is a clearly riper and more open vintage, with a more Mediterranean character, with sweet fruit and aromatic herbs. It reminds me of some of my favorite old-time unoaked Garnachas from Navarra. It has a serious palate, with freshness and chalky tannins and a serious finish. Great value!”
Viña Zorzal Graciano, Navarra 2018 750ml ($19.95) $16 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 91 points “The 2018 Graciano, the first wine they produced at the new Viña Zorzal in 2007, was produced with grapes from the village of Corella, and they want to show the expression of the grape in the village, more Mediterranean than Fitero, where they have a significant percentage of their vines. The spicy character of the wine and the lively palate are the expression of the Graciano in their village, what they have been trying to express since 2015. It fermented in stainless steel with moderate extraction and matured in used French oak barrels of different sizes for nine months. This is a very fresh vintage, and the wine is harmonious, spicy, with an herbal hint, with some dusty tannins, chalky and a bitter twist in the finish. I think the earlier harvest of the grape delivers wines that are more transparent, and this is quite stony and tasty. This is a very good value and a great introduction to Graciano”.
Viña Zorzal Malayeto, Navarra 2018 750ml ($29.95) $26 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Luis Gutierrez – Wine Advocate 94 points “The really impressive and mineral 2018 Malayeto was produced with Garnacha from a single vineyard that produces wine of unusual elegance and minerality. This was the first plot they bottled separately, and this 2018 is the sixth vintage they have produced. It’s a 2.9-hectare plot planted 40 years ago, on the same slope as Corral de los Altos but at a higher altitude and therefore with different soils, surprisingly deep but with lots of calcium carbonate and fine gravel. This fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete with indigenous yeasts and matured in a 4,000-liter oak foudre and nine used 500-liter oak barrels for nine months. This wine clearly transcends its price. It’s serious but started quite shy and needed time to open up (it’s extremely young and just bottled), but there is great purity and detail, and it’s elegant and balanced, extremely harmonious. The palate is incredibly elegant, seamless, balanced, with very fine tannins, great integration of the oak and very good freshness, with citrus-like freshness (think blood orange skin). Most of the time, this is my go-to wine in Zorzal’s portfolio, a wine of great finesse in its finest vintage to date.”
Volpaia’s Perennial Tuscan Favorites
We love the great wines of Tuscany—there’s something about the heart of Italy that’s utterly captivating. Perhaps no producer stands out more than Volpaia, whose high-altitude Chiantis have become perhaps our best-selling Chianti, year in and out. Volpaia first came to our attention when they placed multiple wines on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list over several years. Since then, their Chianti Classico and Riserva have become customer favorites thanks to their big, bold personalities.
In Stock Now:
Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany 2018 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany 2018 750ML ($299.95) $239 special (that’s only $19.92/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 92 points “The 2018 Chianti Classico is a gorgeous, mid-weight wine that captures the essence of the estate’s high-altitude vineyards. Freshly cut flowers, sweet red berries, licorice, mint, pine and cedar are some of the many aromas and flavors that are woven throughout. The 2018 is gracious, inviting and impeccable in its balance.”
Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany 2017 750ML ($41.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles available
Case-12 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany 2017 750ML ($499.95) $385 special (that’s only $32.08/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 93 points “The 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva Castello di Volpaia is an immensely rewarding, inviting wine. Juicy and racy, with no hard edges, the Riserva captures the allure of this warm, dry year. There is plenty to like in the 2017, starting with its depth and volume, I won’t be surprised if the Riserva turns out to be even better than this note suggests. Sweet red fruit, cedar and blood orange give the 2017 striking aromatic intensity and lift.”
Castello di Volpaia Citto Rosso Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2017 750ML ($19.95) $14 special, 36+ bottles available
Importer Note “The Chianti Classico Riserva has a ruby-red hue with a trace of garnet. The nose is elegant, displaying hints of spice and fruit. This a well-structured wine with smooth tannins and a long finish. Barrel Aging: 24 months in oak casks (combination of Slovenian and French) and minimum 3 months in bottle. Varietal Composition: 100% Sangiovese. A record year for heat and drought throughout the growing season. This condition presented extremes which began early bud break in the vineyard, followed by a spring frost over late April. The frost affected the lower portions of the Volpaia estate. Spring and summer months were dry with higher than average temperatures. Rainfall in mid-September helped the grapes achieve complete ripeness of tannins and other phenolic compounds despite low yields.”
Love Tuscany? We have over 150 Tuscan wines in stock now. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Casanova di Neri, Castell’in Villa, Montevertine and more, on our web store.
Smart Buys from Germany
Willi Haag & Von Winning
The Haag family dates its history in the region back to the 1500s. The Willi Haag branch, the less famous of the two Haag wineries, makes excellent Mosel wines (in styles ranging from dry to slightly off-dry to fruity), and all are very reasonably priced. The grandson of the estate’s founder, Marcus Haag, runs the winery today from his celebrated holdings of steeply planted vineyards in the village of Brauneberg.
In Stock Now:
Weingut Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($49.95) $39 special, 5 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous 90 points “Picked from October 17 to 19, this bottling reflects the characteristic ripeness of Juffer-Sonnenuhr as well as relatively early noble rot. Muskmelon, peach and mango are laced with rowan and almond extract on an impressively heady nose. The extremely ripe fruits reconvene on a sumptuously creamy, glycerol-rich palate, with peach kernel piquancy adding welcome counterpoint and pushback to the wine’s prominent sweetness. While lusciously long, this finishes less brightly than the corresponding Juffer and without its mineral savor.”
Weingut Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($37.95) $33 special, 7 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous 91 points “Originating in the Haags’ prime parcel of Bürgerslay, this delivers a headily ripe, tropical nose of mango, muskmelon and peach. Hints of almond turn into suggestions of marzipan on a creamy and lusciously fruited palate, whose tropicality is nicely cut by tangy and piquant suggestions of peach near the pit. Fresh lime adds welcome brightness and a pinch of salt lends saliva-inducement to a lingering finish. Picking here was relatively early – October 18. Markus Haag said that these vines being trained to wires, rather than in the old single-post style still prevalent in his vineyards, is one reason their fruit tends to ripen more rapidly than elsewhere in the Juffer.”
Weingut Willi Haag Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 24 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous “Penetrating scents of lemon and grapefruit laced with woodruff and wintergreen usher in a palate unusually citric and coolingly herbal when compared with the Willi Haag 2016s from Brauneberg or Veldenz. But given that midpalate citricity, I’m surprised at a finish that proves rather sedate and only modest in length. Still, it offers admirable refreshment and a hint of counterpoint by way of stony impingement. Last year’s more exciting inaugural bottling from this famous site was also a Kabinett. Hopefully we’ll soon get to experience a Willi Haag Goldtröpfchen Spätlese.”
Weingut Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($37.95) $33 special, 6 bottles available
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.”
Weingut Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spätlese, Mosel 2016 750ML ($31.95) $28 special, 9 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous “Mirabelle, muskmelon and pineapple inform the nose and a juicy yet creamy, subtly glossy palate, on which an appealing slick of quince jelly points to the influence of botrytis. The finish here is lusciously sustained albeit rather sedate, lacking in non-fruit nuances and dominantly sweet.”
We’re enamored with Von Winning wines. These are serious, dry wines with a sense of presence and precision reminiscent of Vilmart’s Champagnes. They offer incredible complexity from entry level to the top wines, including their rare Sauvignon Blanc bottlings.
In Stock Now:
Von Winning Kirchenstuck Riesling Grosses Gewächs, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($149.95) $119 special, 6 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93-94 points “Site-typically musky notes of narcissus mingle with anticipations of the bright lime and pure, luscious white peach that dominate a silken, subtly oily, expansive palate. The layering of inner-mouth floral perfume, high-toned green herbal essences and mouthwateringly scallop-like savor is hugely impressive, leading to a finish whose musky bittersweetness reminds me of sucking on the stem-end of honeysuckle blossoms; whose salinity tugs at the salivary glands; and whose effusive fruit is transparent to stony underpinnings.”
Terry Theise [+++] “(Forst) After being overtaken by Pechstein in 2016, this supernal vineyard reasserts itself, and creates a sublime dry riesling that stands with the greatest I’ve ever encountered. Sublime, the only word that suffices. Seizes you gently but doesn’t let go. Visits every cell in your mouth and leaves you coated with flowers and stones. Great wines take you into the ground, but you don’t have subterranean eyes, and so you are blind and blissful and still and surrounded, and all the world below is present for you.”
Von Winning Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Trocken, Pfalz 2018 750ML ($37.95) $29 special, 20 bottles available
Stephen Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 90 points “The 2018 Riesling Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten “VDP. Erste Lage” opens with a clear and fragrant bouquet of white and yellow-fleshed fruits and floral and delicate fresh oak aromas. On the palate, this is a medium-bodied, tight, fresh and lush dry Riesling with edges and a grippy character. Green apples on the aftertaste. Tasted in Deidesheim, December 2019.”
Terry Theise note “The best vintage I recall of this surprising wine; curvaceous and leafy, the often-noted caraway seed nuance, along with ‘18s beaming plum-blossom aromas and the fennel and mirabelle-drenched palate could hardly be more fetching. The salty finish also doesn’t hurt!”
Von Winning Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Trocken, Pfalz 2019 750ML ($36.95) $31.90 special, 11 bottles available
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92-93 points “The 2019 Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling is very fine and sublime as well as complex on the deep, multi-layered and coolish, terroir-driven and slightly flinty nose that is really spectacular for this price point. It comes from vines grown on the eastern slope of the 1er cru (an extension of the Langenmorgen Grand Cru) on deep, calcareous loam and red sandstone. This is an elegant, juicy, very fine and salty-piquant Riesling with a core of white stone fruits and notes of peach stone. The finish is long and intense and is carried by vivacious, structuring acidity. The aftertaste reveals flavors of white vineyard peach. This is a beautiful wine and by far the best Paradiesgarten I have tasted from this producer. Tasted as a sample in May 2020.”
Von Winning Pechstein Riesling Grosses Gewächs, Pfalz 2017 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 3 bottles available
David Schildknecht – Vinous 93-94 points “A penetrating nose of peppermint and wintergreen anticipates the simultaneously cooling and glowing impression conveyed on an expansive and silken yet crushed-stone-suffused palate. Mirabelle provides a welcome midpalate suggestion of fruitiness. Like the corresponding Jesuitengarten, this finishes with tongue-tingling vibrancy and remarkable persistence. At the same time, lime-like juiciness refreshes, and strong salinity milks the salivary glands. Hopefully, this concentrated essence of its site will permit unfiltered bottling.”
Terry Theise [++] “is the most beloved perhaps of all Pfalz vineyards, and ’17 is…well…stonier and spicier than 2016s masterpiece; more zing, with a voice that could shatter a glass.”
Von Winning Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Riesling, Pfalz 2018 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 25 bottles available
Terry Theise note “Many growers would bottle this wine as a GG; it’s probably the best site in Ruppertsberg (though Bürklin has a claim with its monopole Gaisböhl); this ’18 is peachy, sweet white corn, chervil and tarragon; it’s more melodic than Paradiesgarten but with an aloe vera and sorrel note common to good ‘18s; it’s the most appealing of the 1er Lages, sweet-natured and with a lovely grace.”
The average price nationally is $42
Von Winning Riesling Trocken, Pfalz 2019 750ML ($21.95) $19 special, 3 bottles available
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 91-92 points “The 2019 Deidesheimer Riesling is a picture-book Riesling for this commune that gives ripe and aromatic Rieslings with pleasant fruit. Von Winning’s “Ortswein” opens with a clear, aromatic and slightly flinty bouquet of white peaches and yellow plums. The wine is round and lush on the palate, with a piquant and mouthwateringly salty finish. This is a highly attractive Riesling with great balance. If you have emptied the Dragon Riesling, this is the one to proceed to the beach or garden party with. White peach aromas on the aftertaste. Tasted as a sample in May 2020.”
Von Winning Riesling Sekt Extra Brut, Pfalz NV 750ML ($29.95) $24 special, 31 bottles available
Grapelive 92 points “I’m lucky to have enjoyed this exciting Riesling Sparkler on a few occasions now. I love its intensity, crisp detail and briskly dry profile that make it celebratory but sublime with meals especially first courses or as an aperitif to whet the palate. German bubbles are incredible and this one is a classy example at a reasonable price, not to be outdone by Prosecco, the Cremants of Alsace, the Loire and Burgundy, and Champagne even, these modern Sekt(s) are stylish, elegant and full of personality. This one [is] in the mold of one of my favorite small Champagne house, Agrapart, with its cool invigorating mineral tones and extreme dry flavors. Von Winning is one of Germany’s top wineries, based in the chalky sandstone soiled Pfalz region, with an exceptional range of wines, especially their absolutely awesome series of Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) Rieslings, though there is excellence throughout the collection here and as I have noted in my prior reviews, Von Winning does one of the finest Sauvignon Blanc(s) in the world, too. The Extra Brut Riesling Sekt is vibrant and steely from the start with a mix of zesty citrus and peachy fruits, a hint of wet stones, leesy/yeasty notes and a faint floral element all of which folds together nicely and vigorously on the energy driven light to medium bodied palate that gains texture with air, but stays firmly taut with an expressive, subtly luxurious small bubbled mousse. This is delicious stuff, I’m so happy after a lengthy wait that the Von Winning sparkling Riesling is more readily available in the States. The Von Winning estate, founded in 1849 [and] located in Deidesheim, owns and farms, all organically, some of the oldest plots in the best Grosses Gewächs vineyards in the region, with their historic parcels divided in the Forst, Deidesheim, and Ruppertsberg zones of the Pfalz. [They] have the talents of Stephan Attmann in the cellar, who is inspired by the great wines of Burgundy and has put in place many tried and true Cote d’Or practices in place here, both in the vineyard with high density and Burgundy style pruning as well as winemaking techniques in the winery. These methods, which include small barrels in the elevage and all gravity flow (gentle) handling of the wines have led to worldwide acclaim. As mentioned their dry Rieslings are unique, richly flavored and are as beautifully compelling as any top white Burgundy, including the best from Meursault, Corton-Charlemagne and even the fabled Le Montrachet. Anyone who’s had Von Winning’s Kirchenstück, Kalkofen, Ungeheuer and or Pechstein GG’s will instantly recognize the greatness in the glass. Trust me these are outrageously good wines. Back to the sparkler, I highly recommend grabbing some of this fine bubbly and celebrate any of life’s happier moments and, wallet allowing, add a few of the single vineyard Trockens, especially those GG’s, as well as the Paradiesgarten, which is an awesome value. The Von Winning Sekt is crafted in the classic methode champenoise style with 100% Riesling being used, sourced from, as the winery notes, a selection of different vineyards close to Deidesheim on loess-clay and red sandstone soils with a lengthy period on the lees. There’s a lot to explore here at Von Winning and I suggest sampling any and all of their offerings.”
Terry Theise note “A pre-disgorgement sample based on 2017, to be disgorged “when we need it,” yet this feels quite complete and stylish; a super-pretty Pfalz Riesling aroma, angular and herbal but creamy and warm like sunny flowering meadows; this is actually outstanding and I hope it persists after disgorging.”
Von Winning ‘I’ Sauvignon Blanc Trocken, Pfalz 2018 750ML ($44.95) $36 special, 10 bottles available
Terry Theise note “How did I ever live without von Winning Sauvignon Blanc? I mean really. And how did they ever forgive my stubborn reluctance to taste these wines all those years ago? Attmann doesn’t look to the Loire for his model; he looks to White Bordeaux, and if he doesn’t deliberately look to Styria, his wines themselves do, to the volcanic zone around Kitzeck and also in southeast-Styria. He will protest that his wines don’t have the (often) excessive alcohol of the top Styrians—correctly—but I’m talking more about flavors per se.The 2018 “I” recalls my all-time favorite 2013, and only ‘18’s jalapeño nibble obtrudes upon its eerie serenity.”
Von Winning ‘II’ Sauvignon Blanc Trocken, Pfalz 2019 750ML ($21.95) $19.50 special, 12 bottles available
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 90 points “Tasted for the second time in May this year, von Winning’s 2019 Sauvignon Blanc II offers a clear and refreshing Sancerre-like bouquet of white and green fruits along with herbaceous and flinty aromas. Round and fruity on the palate, with good freshness and a silky texture, this is a medium-bodied, very elegant, stimulatingly salty and grippy Sauvignon Blanc with a mouthwatering finish. It is much better this time than when tasted soon after the bottling half a year ago.”
Thanks for reading!