VinopolPick Thursday – December 4th

December 4th, 2014
The Wine Deals Don’t Stop

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet

Since 1750, Didier Gimonnet’s family has been growing grapes in grand and premier cru villages, predominantly in the Côte de Blancs.  Passing of the centuries, the know-how and love of the vine all play an important part in the process of these Champagne growers who have continued to make classic Champagne from generation to generation.  The high percentage of old vines at this estate set it apart with 70% of holdings being over 30 years old, 40% over 40 years old, and 100+ year old vines, both in the Grand Cru village of Cramant and Chouilly.

Current owners, Didier and Olivier are a Récoltant-Manipulant (Grower-Producer): they produce Champagne from grapes grown in their own vineyards.  The family produces a distinctive and fresh house style based on Chardonnay, and four important practices help them achieve this goal: thorough knowledge of their vineyards, controlled yields, high average vine age and the inclusion of Cuis base wine in many of their blends.  Didier keeps a well-used notebook, passed down from his father, which contains handwritten notes on each harvest.  This exemplifies the knowledge and understanding the family has of its vines and vineyards.  The vineyards are hand-harvested and grown at a higher density than is common in the region, but at a lower yield per vine.

Cuis, the coolest village in the Cote des Blancs, provides the blends with a fresh and lively essence of acidity, lightness and finesse.  Thus, Cuis provides the underlying core of freshness, acidity and delicacy that gives the Pierre Gimonnet Champagnes much of their distinctive character.  The base wines are stored between vintages in magnums instead of tanks to preserve their delicacy and fresh aromas.  Of the Grand Crus blended, Chouilly provides structure and complexity, while Cramant provides an expressive complexity and roundness.

We are pleased to present several selections from Pierre Gimonnet here today:

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Gastronome Premier Cru 2009 ($79.95) $49 special, 3 cases available
Wine Advocate 90+ points
“From the Côte des Blancs grands crus Cramant, Chouilly and Oger plus the premiers Cuis and Vertus, the 2009 Cuvée Gastronomique 1er Cru Brut opens very clear on the nose indicating fully ripe (partly brown), cooked and also baked apples, ripe pears, butter, some exotic spicy and limey flavors as well as tobacco and brazil nut along with discreet yeasty flavors and a mineral touch. Full-bodied and very rich, this well structured and persistent Champagne develops an intense taste of cooked, brown apples with cinnamon but keeps its citric freshness also in the finish. I sniffed the bouquet for 15 minutes and the bouquet became more and more complex with every single minute. I was also impressed by the long lasting purity and minerality on the palate and this is why I recommend to spend more time with this excellent Champagne and to pour it into a big wine glass.”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuvee Oenophile Premier Cru Extra Brut Non Dose 2008 ($89.95)
$59 special, 3 cases available
Wine Advocate 92 points
“The 2008 Oenophile Extra Brut offers an invitingly clear, bright and fresh bouquet of crisp apples, lemons, brazil nuts and grated hazelnuts along with some hints of herbs and flowers. On the palate this is a very elegant, firm, fresh and minerally accentuated Champagne of with a good grip and an animating citric finish. It is a crisp, elegant, refined and a really stimulating aperitif on a really high level. Beautifully structured and mineral, I just can’t get enough!”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Special Club Brut Millesime 2006 ($119.95) $71.90 special, 30 bottles available
Wine Advocate 91+ points
“The 2006 Special Club opens irritatingly with predominating lactose flavors which do not fade away but are accompanied by sweetish yeasty flavors. The wine is rich, intense and elegant on the palate but much less fruity than the regular vintage Champagnes. It is firm, tightly woven and long but the lactose flavors don’t go away.”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Paradoxe Premier Cru Brut 2007 ($79.95) $49 special, 3 cases available
Importer Note:
“52% PN (from Aÿ and Mareuil) and 48% CH (from Mareuil, interestingly, along with Cuis, Cramant, Chouilly and Oger), disgorged 11/2013. Of course the “paradox” is that this arch-wizard of Blanc de Blancs, who swore he’d never make Champagne with PN, did it anyway and did it brilliantly. And this is detailed, sophisticated Champagne, judicious and prudent, but it needs time, time and more time—as many ’07s do. If you recall last year’s 2006 with its open-armed greeting, this one seems markedly stern, for now at least.” -Terry Theise

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Rose de Blancs Premier Cru Brut NV ($79.95) $49 special, 3 cases available
Importer note: 
“The ‘Rose de Blancs’ from Gimonnet is 90% Chardonnay based on the 2011 vintage from Chouilly, Cramant, Oger, and Cuis. The remaining 10% is Pinot Noir from Bouzy. The wine was fermented in stainless steel before spending 18 months sur latte.”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Fleuron Millesime Premier Cru Brut 2006 1.5L ($149.95) $119 special, 6 magnums available
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Fleuron Millesime Premier Cru Brut 2006 ($79.95)
$55 special, 3 cases available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
“Pale gold. Smoky pear and nectarine aromas are brightened by zesty minerals and deepened by hints of toasty lees and iodine. Intense orchard fruit and melon flavors stain the palate, picking up citrus pith and floral honey qualities with air. Turns firmer and more minerally with air, finishing with excellent lift and smoky persistence.” ST
Robert Parker 92 points “Intense golden yellow in color, the 2006 Cuvée Fleuron 1er Cru from 100% Chardonnay offers a deep, rich and complex aroma of ripe apples, quinces and other autumn fruits. Full-bodied, rich and intense on the palate, this excellent Champagne is also very pure, elegant, fine and well balanced and finishes with a stunningly intense and ripe aroma of ripe apples. This is not only a real character but also a great value Champagne.”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs ‘Millesime de Collection Vieilles Vignes de Chardonnay’ 2005 1.5L ($249.95) $168 special, 9 magnums available
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media 94 points
“The 2005 Brut Vintage Collection, tasted from magnum, is stunning. Intense, layered and drop-dead gorgeous, the 2005 covers every corner of the palate with layers of mineral-infused fruit. Smoke, slate, crushed rocks and flowers appear later, adding gorgeous dimensions of pure nuance. Still young, the 2005 appears to have a bright future. This is one of the best 2005 vintage Champagnes I have tasted. The 2005 is 100% Chardonnay from Cramant, Chouilly and Cuis. This bottle was disgorged in January 2013 after spending 84 months on its lees.”

Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut NV ($59.95)
$39 special, 3+ cases available
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut NV 1.5L ($149.95)
$119 special, 11 magnums available
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut NV 375ML ($37.95)
$26 special, 32 half-botles available
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut NV 3L ($419.95)
$319 special, 1 double-magnum available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
“80% 2010 wine, 10% 2009, 4% 2008, 5% 2007 and 1% 2002; disgorged in May, 2013 after 30 months on its lees): Green-tinged yellow. Intense, mineral-accented aromas of orange zest, pear and white flowers, with an iodiney quality building in the glass. Chewy in texture and nicely concentrated, offering precise citrus and bitter quinine flavors and a strong topnote of dusty minerals. Finishes clean, bright and very long, with lingering chalkiness. This would make a superb match with fresh oysters or crab.” ST


Maison Pol Roger

Maison Pol Roger is one of the last Great Houses of Champagne to remain family-owned. Pol Roger founded the house after selling his first wine in 1849. His father’s sudden illness thrust him into business at the age of 18. He produced his wine in the Brut style, which was much preferred by consumers in Great Britain, where he quickly established a strong base. His sons, Maurice and Georges, took over the business after his death in 1899. They oversaw the expansion of the brand despite a massive cellar collapse that destroyed several buildings, Prohibition in the US, and the two World Wars. In honor of their father, they changed their last name to Pol-Roger.

Today, the winery sources almost 50% of its fruit from 200 acres of estate vineyards. The rest is from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards rated 95 points or higher on the Echelle des Crus system, making their sourced grapes some of the highest quality available to the Grand Marques. Each lot is vinified and aged separately before the final blending takes place. The Vintage wines are made from at least 60% Pinot Noir. The Brut NV is a blend of all three major Champagne grape varietals. The base wines are at least 3 years old.

Pol Roger Wines Arriving Next Week

Pol Roger Brut 2004 ($119.95) $79 pre-arrival special    
From the producer: “Our ‘Brut Vintage’ combines the intensity of the best Pinot Noirs of the Montagne de Reims and the elegance of the finest Chardonnays of the Cote des Blancs.  The former contribute the body, the strength and the longevity of this Champagne, while the second bring its aromatic intensity, its finesse and its lightness.  The ‘vintage’ stands out thanks to its intense yellow gold hue, its sparkle, its delicate bouquet of aromas (fresh fruit, white flowers and sweet spices) and a fresh, velvety fullness on the palate, rich in wonderful tastes of fruit and pastries.  Such are its charm and fullness that you have the choice: to succumb immediately to the pleasure of enjoying it on all occasions, or to put off this pleasure for a few more years.”

Pol Roger Brut Rose 2006 ($119.95)
$99 pre-arrival special
From the producer: “Champagne is only really necessary in two precise cases: when you are happy and when you are unhappy.  Given that quality, our ‘rose vintage’ was conceived to accompany the special moments of your life.
“The obtain a full, round and fruity wine, with a delicate hue and subtle, complex, attractive aromas, both on the nose and on the palate, it is necessary to add to our traditional blend 15% of Pinot Noir of the same vintage, vinified as a red wine.
“Its relatively pale salmon pink colour, the festive feel of its tiny bubbles flowing freely, its elegant nose, package with the aromas of soft red fruit, its equally fruity palate, harmoniously combining body and finesse, fresh and vinous at the same time…
“This is a Champagne of sensuality and refinement, second to none as an aperitifs, excellent with crustaceans, salmon, poultry, lightly cooked meats, small game birds and red fruit desserts.”

Pol Roger Brut Blanc De Blancs 2002 ($134.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Stephen Tanzer 95 points “Pale gold.  Intense, mineral-dominated aromas of candied citrus fruits, pear, anise, smoky lees and chamomile, plus a sexy floral nuance and a hint of sweet butter.  Palate-staining orchard and citrus fruit flavors show outstanding depth and energy, picking up chalky mineral and spice notes with air.  Strikingly concentrated and precise wine with strong finishing punch and noteworthy persistence.  This concentrated, deftly balanced Champagne is built for a long, graceful evolution.”

Pol Roger Brut Blanc De Blancs 2004 ($134.95) $99 pre-arrival special
From the producer: “Made exclusively from the finest Chardonnays of the Cote des Blancs, this wine is the lace of Champagne.  Ideally, it often requires several years of ageing in the cellar to reach full maturity and reveal superb finesse, the peak of elegance and freshness.
“The brightness of its green gold colour, the liveliness of its fine, creamy bubbles, seemingly never-ending, the harmony of its pleasant, elegant nose, combining the scent of white flowers the aromas of dried fruit, the lightness of its delicate flavours (vanilla, brioche and toasted almonds)…
“A talented Champagne, to be drunk as an aperitif, or as the ideal accompaniment for light hors d’oeuvre, seafood or the noblest of fish prepared with the greatest simplicity.  All you need to do, whenever you choose to drink it, is to allow this wine to express its qualities!”

Pol Roger Brut Sir Winston Churchill 2002 ($279.95) $249 pre-arrival special
From the producer: “In 1975, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his death, we wished to pay tribute to this great friend of our family by creating the ‘Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill.’
“Our references were the qualities he enjoyed in Champagne: robustness, structure and maturity.  Even if its exact composition remains a jealously guarded secret, the blend reflects Sir Winston Churchill’s spirit and character.
“Its deep old gold hue, its infinitely fine and sparkling bubbles, its nose which brings into play dried fruit, strongly-scented flowers and pastries, its rich palate, moderately honeyed, tenderly spicy…
“This rare wine, appreciated by lovers of exceptional Champagne, is an unforgettable pleasure as an aperitif.  Allow it to express itself in your glass; observe it, listen to it, smell it and discover its numerous and complex aromas.  Then, and only then, taste it, to grasp not only its richness, but all its nuances.”

Sanford Winery

In 1971, Richard Sanford discovered the overlooked Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County and helped establish it as an AVA.  It is 100 square miles that are ideal for cool-climate expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, due to an unusual east-west mountain valley that funnels the maritime conditions to the vineyards.  Richard was one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the area after recognizing its ideal combination of climate and soil conditions.  Conditions in the AVA lengthen the growing season, limit yields, and produce grapes with a balance of full ripeness, concentration, excellent structure, minerality and acidity.

In 1981, Richard and his wife, Thekla, founded the Sanford Winery, making benchmark Pinots and Chardonnays.  Though it gained some Hollywood fame for its role in the movie “Sideways,” Sanford Winery has a long history of critical acclaim and popular appeal.  Differences in business philosophy with their partners (Terlato Wine Group) led to a separation from their namesake winery in 2005, but the wines from Sanford remain the stellar value offered since the beginning.  Steven Fennell is now the winemaker, having begun his career at Trefethen Vineyards.  He started with the Sanford Winery in 2006.

The Santa Rita Hills AVA Chardonnay is sourced from the two estate vineyards Sanford & Benedict and La Rinconada.  After full malolactic fermentation, this Chardonnay was aged in French oak.  It is a full bodied wine with great structure and complex, rich flavors: a great food wine.

Superdeal – Available Here Now

Sanford Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2011 ($31.95)
$14 special
Winery Notes “Our 2011 “Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay is sourced exclusively from our two estate vineyards in the heart of this cool climate appellation. The 2011 vintage was marked by low yields due to spring frost. This resulted in intense flavors with bright acid. By gently whole cluster pressing and barrel fermentation in French oak, this Chardonnay has lovely texture to balance the vibrant palate. Our 2011 estate Chardonnay offers intriguing aromas of lemon peel, apricot and toasted hazelnut. In addition to the bright fruit, this wine has aromas of white flowers. On the palate the minerality and acidity give this wine great structure, which carries through its long finish. This full bodied wine has nice acidity to keep it in balance and makes a nice complement to most seafood, poultry and pasta with lighter sauces, and makes and excellent pairing with mushrooms (especially chanterelles and morels).”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The next best price is 28% higher at $17.99 / bottle

One Great Wine – One Great Guy
Brick House

When one of their wines achieves a spectacular review, most wineries constrict the supply to wholesale / retail trade in order to achieve higher profitability selling winery direct. Not so Doug Tunnell, proprietor and master craftsman at Brick House. We were stunned to land 8 cases. Doug in one great guy. But hurry. We’ve just a few cases left, and Doug won’t be able to reload us.

The Brick House Vineyards’ farm is a rough rectangle of vineyard sites surrounding the winery and farmhouse.  It’s tucked in among the fruit and hazelnut orchards above Chehalem Valley.  The grapes for the wine are organically grown by hand in the true spirit of the term.  The wines see minimal manipulation from vine to bottle.  Doug ferments the wines with indigenous yeasts, and he rarely fines and never filters.  All of the wines are produced from estate fruit, sourced from the various vineyards in the estate with distinct terroir and characteristics.

Evelyn’s Pinot Noir is named in honor of Doug’s mother.  It is a barrel selection cuvee and their most limited offering produced in the best vintages.  The Cuvee du Tonnelier blend is named in honor of Doug’s father, whose family took the French term for cooper as their last name.  The wine is harvested from self-rooted vines planted in 1990 and tends to show earthy and fruity notes.  It is also a barrel select wine only produced in the best vintages.

Brick House Vineyards Wines Here Now:

Brick House Vineyards ‘Evelyn’s’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2012 ($79.95)
$69 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Spectator 95 points
“Focused, juicy, precise and expressive, this offers a gorgeously balanced mouthful of plum, currant, red berry and floral flavors that come together harmoniously and persist into the long finish. Has depth and distinction. Best from 2016 through 2022.”

Brick House Vineyards ‘Cuvee du Tonnelier’ Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge 2012 ($59.95) $47 special, 8 bottles available
Winery’s notes:
“From our oldest vines, a wine whose name means “ the Cooper’s Cuvee.” It honors the winemaker’s father whose French family long ago took the name “Tonnelier” or cooper, after the craft by which they earned their livelihood. “Dad’s wine” is a tribute to a man as soft-spoken and generous as the Pinot Noir that honors him.”


Wish Black Friday sales lasted all month?  Want to be sure you’re really getting the best deal?  Look no further!  Here’s a list of some of the dozens of wines we offer at the lowest price in the country, all available here now.  

Castello Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG 2011 ($17.95) $9.90 special 
Wine Spectator 88 points “Aeration reveals cherry, plum, tea and tobacco flavors. Starts out rich, turning leaner and tighter on the finish. Needs time. Best from 2015 through 2021.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is 41% higher at $14 / bottle

Case-12 Atalon Pauline’s Cuvee, Napa Valley 2010 ($359.95)
$199 case price special (that’s only $16.59 / bottle!)
Wine Enthusiast 93 points
“This Merlot-based blend is a huge success. It’s a big, tannic, tight wine, packed to bursting with black cherry liqueur, cola and spice flavors. Yet it maintains an exciting balance, with the tension between acids, tannins and oak in equilibrium. Seems like it wants 5-6 years in the cellar to let it throw some tannins and mellow.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Our bottle price is the second lowest at $21.90/bottle for 1-11 bottles
The next best price is $22.90/bottle
The average price is $27/bottle

Planeta Santa Cecilia Noto Sicilia 2009 ($44.95) $28 special 
Case-12 Planeta Santa Cecilia Noto Sicilia 2009 ($419.95) $299 case price special
James Suckling 94 points “”A decadent wine with hints of jam but then goes firm and racy. So refined. Full with firm tannins and a fresh finish. A beauty. Best Nero d’Avola in years from Sicily.””

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is at least 29% higher at $36 / bottle

Alvear Pedrox Ximenez de Anada 2011 375ML ($79.95)
$47 special
Robert Parker 100 points “Alvear’s 2011 Pedro Ximenez de Anada is the most amazing Pedro Ximenez I have ever tasted. It may also be one of the first to be vintage-dated. The grapes were hand-harvested in September, then allowed to dry in the sunshine until they began fermentation, which is ultimately arrested by the addition of spirits. The wine spent six months in large American oak prior to being bottled. It is an amazing effort that looks like molasses. Notes of macerated figs, chocolate and caramelized tropical fruits emerge from this full-bodied, unctuously-textured wine. While sweet, it has enough acidity to balance out its richness. This astonishing 2011 Pedro Ximenez will last as long as any reader of this newsletter.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is $89 / bottle

Castellare I Sodi Di San Niccolo Colli della Tosacana Centrale IGT 2008 ($74.95) $48 special 
Antonio Galloni 95+ points “The 2008 I Sodi di San Niccolo is especially dark, powerful and brooding in this vintage. Black fruit, smoke, tar and incense are some of the many notes that flow from a structured, tense frame. The 2008 will test the readers’ patience, but it has the stuffing and pedigree to develop into a splendid wine. This is a fabulous showing, especially within the context of the vintage. Today, the 2008 looks to be a great wine in the making. I Sodi di San Niccolo is 85% Sangioveto and 15% Malvasia Nera aged in French oak barrels, 50% new. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2028”.

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is 37% higher at $66 / bottle

Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2010 ($79.95) $59 special
Case-6 Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2010 ($479.95) $319 case price special (that’s only $53.16 / bottle)!
Wine Spectator #42 Wine of the Year – Wine Spectator 94 points
“Big and rich, this red is filled with powerful flavors of blackberry, dark currant, black olive and dark chocolate that are built on an ironclad frame. Notes of cocoa powder and cream chime in as well, and the muscular finish lingers with hints of savory herb. Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Best from 2014 through 2022.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is 35% higher at $80/ bottle

Cappellano Barolo DOCG Pie Franco 2003 ($149.95)
$79 special
Vinopolnotes- The mythic “Piè Franco,” is from a parcel planted on its own roots with Nebbiolo’s “Michet” clone in 1989. The ethereal delicacy of this great wine made Cappellano wonder if this is what Barolo tasted like before Phylloxera. Cappellano’s classic Barolos have a cultish following and this wine will leave you in doubt as to why.

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is 50% higher at $119 / bottle

Au Sommet Cabernet Sauvignon Atlas Peak Napa Valley 2009 ($299.95) $129 special
Robert Parker 93 points “The 2009 Au Sommet is a bit lighter on its feet than the 2008. Sweet, silky tannins frame the fruit. Unlike the 2008, the 2009 is not particularly wild or exotic. Instead, it is a wine that stands out for its textural finesse and understated personality. This mid-weight, gracious Cabernet Sauvignon should be cellared for another year or two and enjoyed over the following decade. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is 64% higher at $212 / bottle

Romano Dal Forno Vigna Sere Rosso Passito Veneto IGT 2004 375ML ($189.95) $139 special
Wine Advocate 98+ points “The 2004 Vigna Sere is the perfect conclusion to a vintage that will go down as one of Dal Forno’s most magical. Sweet, silky tannins support layers of super-refined, elegant fruit in this magical sweet red. Mocha, espresso, new leather, raspberry jam and spices emerge with time in the glass, but this is really a wine that shows off textural finesse more than anything else. I have tasted this wine many times since it was in barrel and later in bottle. It has never been anything less than spellbinding. It is one of the most magical sweet dessert wines I have ever tasted. At eight years of age the 2004 remains a an infant. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2024.”WA

This is the lowest listed price in the USA!
The average listed price is over $180/half-bottle!
Thank you for reading!