Sassetti Barolo, Marabino Nero d’Avola, and Villa Crespia
Kelley Fox, Ridge, Domaine des Closiers, Domaine Arlaud, and more!
Screaming Eagle: landing later this month
Staff Pick Winery
Why we love GD Vajra and you should too
BIG REDS from Piedmont, Rioja, Oakville, and Walla Walla
Laval at first sight: The glorious Champagnes of Georges Laval
“Azienda Agricola Sassetti Livio Pertimali, Tuscany”
Simply put, without the Sassetti family, Brunello di Montalicino would not be the wine that we know and love today. Livio Sassetti is one of the founding fathers of Brunello and the wines coming off of his “Pertimali” estate define the genre. This is a Grand Cru site in Montalcino and the wines are thrilling whenever you have a chance to taste them. Sassetti Livio Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018 750ml $79 special, 18 bottles availableJames Suckling 96 points
“Intense aromas of black cherries, lavender and spice, such as nutmeg. Some sandalwood and bark, too. Full-bodied with a solid core of fruit and tannins for the vintage. Rather chewy, suggesting that additional bottle age is needed. Try after 2026.”
Vinous 95 points “Depths of dark, balsamic-tinged black cherry, plum sauce and autumnal spice make the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino impossible to ignore. This is velvety to the core, nearly opulent in feel, with a dense wave of ripe red fruits complemented by nuances of sweet lavender and tobacco. It leaves the palate clenched with fine tannins and primary concentration, creating a classic sensation that transcends the vintage. Nearly a minute goes by, and hints of cocoa and sweet herbs continue to resonate. Wow! Production at the pertimali estate was down by 20% due to the spring frost, and the decision was made to place all of the juice usually intended for the Riserva into the straight Brunello, the result being one of the top wines of the vintage.”
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Natural Wine Alert! Organic and additive-free, this Sicilian wine is a gem with a fun texture and killer taste. Unfined, unfiltered, no sulfites added, vegan and delicious. The perfect pick at well-under $20! Marabino Rosso di Contrada Noto 2018 750ml $16 special, 30 bottles availableVinous
“The 2018 Nero d’Avola Rosso di Contrada makes itself known with a peppery display of wild herbs, rose hips and black currants. Its silky textures flesh out across the palate of citrus-tinged blackberries and mineral notes. This is juicy to the last, lingering on fresh cherry pits, lavender and hints of mocha, all neatly framed by a coating of fine tannin. -89 Points.”
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The average price is $24
This Pinot Noir-based blanc is from a vineyard with deep colluvial soils and extreme diurnal temperature swings. This family-owned and organic winery holds this release back for a decade or more until it has reached its prime drinking window. Villa Crespia ‘Francesco Iacono’ Riserva, Franciacorta DOCG 2008 750ml $59 special, 32 bottles availableWine Advocate 92 points
“$90. Villa Crespia’s 2008 Franciacorta Francesco Iacono Dosaggio Zero Riserva shows careful signs of evolution with apricot, honey, saffron and dried rose petal. The complexity is subtle at first but builds in intrigue as the wine takes shape in the glass. In the mouth, this layered sparkling wine exhibits fine perlage and medium texture that feels weighty without being heavy. This is a Pinot Nero-based sparkler that ages on the lees for eight months and is partially aged in oak.”
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The most recent average price in the USA = $120
“Cambria Estate, Santa Maria Valley”
Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chard Santa Maria 2021 750ml $17.50 special, 36 bottles availableVinous 94 Points
“The 2021 Chardonnay Katherine’s Vineyard is notable. Bright and chiseled, the 2021 bristles with tension. Citrus peel, chamomile, white flowers, mint and tangerine oil are some of the notes that grace this exquisite Santa Maria Chardonnay. Partial aging in steel keeps the flavors bright.”
“Salvestrin Estate, St. Helena”
Salvestrin Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 750ml $59 special, 6 bottles availableWine Advocate 93+ Points
“Blended with 10% Merlot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Dr. Crane Vineyard gives up warm red and black fruits, earth and iron ore with notes of meats and cedar. The palate is full-bodied, firm and chewy with a good core, finishing long and mineral laced.” Salvestrin Dr. Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 750ml $79 special, 36 bottles availableWine Spectator 95 Points
“This is reserved in profile, but loaded with dark plum, mulberry and loganberry fruit notes that meld nicely with hints of anise, applewood, sassafras and violets. The long, redolent finish shows hints of woodsmoke and iron. Lovely. Best from 2023 through 2036.”
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As the writer Josh Raynolds succinctly stated, “I consider this small producer’s graceful, finely etched Pinots to be among the very best being made in the New World.”
-Josh Reynolds, Vinous
Kelley Fox Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 750ml $89 special, 12 bottles availableWinemaker’s Note “
The 2021 is a transparent, deep red that is youthful with blue notes. The lush, fresh nose has rich red fruits, subtle spices, and minerals. In the mouth there is a powerful presence- a stillness- a restraint and a waiting- that is weightless. It’s full of strawberries and other berries (like Marionberries). This wine feels alive and ineffably beautiful.” Kelley Fox Durant Vineyard Chardonnay 2022 750ml $44.50 special, 24 bottles availableWinemaker’s Note
“Its appearance is that of pale shimmering gold with brilliant transparency. This is a serious wine with great purity. The nose is filled with soft minerals, subtle tropical fruits, and hint of flowers. There is a coolness and freshness that reminds me of smelling the air above a spring in the mountains. This character continues in the mouth on a lovely frame and texture, ending with a mouth-watering, long finish.” Kelley Fox Freedom Hill Pinot Blanc 2022 750ml $36 special, 36 bottles availableWinemaker’s Note
“The colour is a highly transparent, pale, brilliant lemon-yellow. The nose is full of subtle creamy citrus and tropical fruits with a hint of floral tones and powdery minerals and is incredibly inviting. The texture is light on its feet but has lovely heft. The mouth is much like the nose and is balanced with lovely tension and texture. This Pinot blanc is very clean on the palate, and long. I love how this turned out: the energy of ocean-fresh air and delicious fruit.” Kelley Fox Golden Crowned Sparrow Pinot Noir 2022 750ml $89 special, 12 bottles availableWinemaker’s Note
“The Maresh Golden is a medium, youthful and rich blue-red with brilliant transparency. Of course, the nose is full of Hood strawberries with the cool freshness of rain and the Pacific Ocean in the spring air, along with dark red cherries and spice. This beautifully structured wine has disarming purity and weightless power.” Kelley Fox Maresh Royal Ann Block Pinot Noir 2021 750ml $89 special, 6 bottles available*Kelley’s last vintage for this block.Winemaker’s Note
“True to the classic Maresh character, though, the nose and mouth are filled with muddled dew-fresh Oregon strawberries and hints of spice and blossoms. The nose also has powdery, soft minerals and disarming purity. The texture is silk, and the finish is very long. There is something ethereal and dreamy about this wine that is more about fluidity and movement than it is about still edges. This is my final bottling of this block, and I’ll deeply miss these vines.” Kelley Fox Weber Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 750ml $89 special, 12 bottles availableNot yet reviewed, 2019 review provided for referenceVinous 96 Points
 “Bright scarlet. Deeply aromatic cherry cola, black raspberry, licorice and Asian spice scents, along with a smoky mineral topnote. Juicy and energetic on the palate, offering mineral- and spice-laced black raspberry, bitter cherry, rose pastille and botanical herb flavors that deepen steadily with air while maintaining energy. Delivers a superb blend of power and finesse, and finishes extremely long, with harmonious tannins and clinging cherry and spice notes.”Winemaker’s Note
“The Weber 2021 is a medium, youthful, and rich tone of red with brilliant transparency. The classic Dundee Hills nose is pure-fruited, inviting, and full red and blue berries and subtle spices. The mouth has beautiful, silken texture full of strawberries and raspberries. It has nice acidity and fine structure that has a long, silky, and weightless finish. When I wrote these notes, this wine felt like it should be in a fairy tale.”
“Domaine Arlaud, Burgundy”
This Domaine represents the purest combination of romance and elegance that French wine has to offer. The Domaine began with an actual war-time romance and the gift of a parcel of grand cru vineyards as a wedding present to Joseph Arlaud from his new wife’s family in lieu of money, as this was in the middle of World War 2 and cash was spare. Today, it is the peak of terroir-focused winemaking with biodynamic farming and horse ploughed vineyards. Domaine Arlaud Clos Saint Denis 2021 750ml $599 special, 4 bottles availableVinous 96-98 points
“The 2021 Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru has what is often termed “transparency” on the entrancing nose, airy yet vigorous with lifted red berry fruit, petrichor and light citrus aromas. There’s just a hint of reduction but minor. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannins, quite deep and intense, elegant and lightly spiced towards the persistent finish that lingers in the mouth. Unerringly symmetrical.
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“Distillerie De Alps, Chambery”
France is the birthplace of dry vermouth, and the Chambéry region in particular lays claim to Vermouth de Chambéry. Typically defined by their light, fruity, and slightly herbaceous profiles, Vermouth de Chambéry distances itself from the original, Marseillan style of dry vermouth which tend to be more mineral focused and oxidized. Routin Blanc Vermouth De Chambery NV $16 special, 12 bottles availableRoutin Dry Vermouth De Chambery NV $16 special, 12 bottles availableRoutin Red Vermouth De Chambery NV $16 special, 12 bottles available
“Domaine des Closiers, Loire”
Closing in on Clos Rougeard quality and costing much less…
Domaine des Closiers Saumur-Champigny ‘Les Coudraies’ 2020 750ml $44.50 special, 36+ bottles availableJohn Gilman 95 points
“The Saumur-Champigny “les Coudraies” is one of the estate’s single vineyard wines, made from a selection of the best parcels in this hillside vineyard. The wine is aged in mostly older casks for one year prior to bottling. The 2020 les Coudraies comes in at fourteen percent octane and offers up a simply gorgeous bouquet of red and black cherries, cigar wrapper, a touch of tree bark, a complex base of soil tones, juniper berry, a touch of cedar and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and very elegant in profile, with a rock solid core of fruit, firm, buried tannins, excellent focus and grip and a long, complex and very, very promising finish. This is a great bottle of Saumur-Champigny in the making!”Wine Advocate 93 points
“Vinified in stainless steel tanks and then aged in barrels, the 2020 Saumur Champigny Les Coudraies comes from the low-yielding limestone slopes of Parnay that were cropped at 40 hectoliters per hectare that year. Vinified in stainless steel tanks and then aged in barrels, the Coudraies offers a deep and concentrated, spicy and fruity bouquet of dark fruits such as sour cherries and blackcurrant along with mint and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, round and intense on the palate, this is a substantial, dense and generous but structured Cabernet with very intense and juicy fruit, good mineral freshness, spicy tannins and a long and intense, very promising finish that is still a little astringent.”Vinous 92 points
“While light in body, the 2020 Les Coudraies is a seductive style that enters with a certain amount of juicy fat and then pow! It reveals itself fully in its salty, taut and firm with a limestone-derived freshness and chalky texture. You can expect excellent purity of fruit, transparency and a certain delicacy as it floats through the mouth which is surprising when you find out the alcohol is 14%. It’s really rather good if you like your wines precise and taut and considering it’s only the second vintage from this former business consultant. It’s one to watch.”
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The average price is $51
Domaine des Closiers Saumur-Champigny Trezellieres 2019 750ml $108.50 special, 6 bottles available!John Gilman 96 points
“This is my first taste of Domaine des Closiers top bottling, les Trezellières, which is made from a parcel of old vines and given fully two years aging in barrel, with somewhere between ten and twenty percent of the casks new. The 2019 lesTrezellières is beautifully deep and refined aromatically, delivering scents ofblack cherries, cassis, Cuban cigar wrapper, a very complex base of soil, a touch of Cheval Blanc-likementhol, a gentle dollop of tree bark, cedar and a topnote of cigar smoke. On the palate the wine is pure,full-bodied, elegant and rock solid at the core, with great focus and complex, superb soil undertow, finegrainedtannins and a very long, pure and classy finish. The small percentage of new oak gives this winemore refinement than the les Coudraies bottling, but because it is no more than twenty percent new oak. The wood influence is far more subtle out of the blocks than in Clos Rougeard’s Le Bourg bottling, which is the closest comparison I can think of for this brilliant young Saumur-Champigny. Give this beautiful wine plenty of time in the cellar to properly resolve its tannins and completely blossom! 2031-2085” Domaine des Closiers Saumur-Champigny ‘Les Closiers’ 2020 750ml $33 special, 12 bottles availableJohn Gilman 92 points
“Anatole de la Brosse purchased this estate in 2018 and has Nady Foucault as one of his consultants! Monsieur de la Brosse’s first vintage at Domaine des Closiers was the following year of 2019. Monsieur de la Brosse’s les Closiers bottling is his entry level wine, aged in tank for six to eight months prior to bottling and crafted to be more immediately accessible than his other two red wine cuvées, les Coudraies and les Trezelliêres. The combination of the extremely high quality of the wines here and Nady Foucault’s participation on a consulting basis have quickly given the estate the moniker of the “next Clos Rougeard”. The 2020 les Closiers bottling comes in at an even thirteen percent octane in this warm summer and offers up a beautifully refined nose of red and black cherries, tobacco leaf, chalky soil tones, cigar ash and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and seamlessly balanced, with a good core, fine transparency and grip and a long, moderately tannic and complex finish. This is a lovely bottle that is approachable out of the blocks, but really deserves at least a few years’ worth of bottle age to allow its secondary layers of complexity to emerge.”Wine Advocate 92 points
“The 2020 Saumur Champigny Les Closiers comes from Cabernet Franc plots cultivated on the limestone hillsides of Parnay. Vinified and matured in stainless steel vats, the Closiers reveals an intense but pure and refreshing bouquet of perfectly ripe red and dark fruits such as elderberries, blackcurrant, blueberries and blackberries as well as mulberries. Generous and gentle on the palate, this is a fruit-intense, very charming and juicy, wonderfully floral and delicate red with perfect ripeness but the lightness and finesse of a Saumur Champigny. The finish is pure and fleshy and reveals fine and stimulating tannins. It’s impossible not to love this 2020 that was macerated for a month and then aged in vats for approximately 10 months. Nothing added here apart from small quantities of sulfur dioxide.”
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The average price is $38
Arriving Late October
As Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine says “It is practically impossible to acquire Screaming Eagle unless you have been on their mailing list for many years.” Well it’s a good thing you’re reading this newsletter… we have a super rare opportunity for you to pre-purchase Screaming Eagle today!
Screaming Eagle The Flight 2020 750ml $1,079 special per bottle, 3 bottles available
OR save $238 and buy a three bottle case…
Screaming Eagle The Flight 2020 $2,999 special per case of 3 bottles, 1 case available
James Suckling 98 Points “Aromas of blackberries, red and black currants. Green olives, too. Dark roses and perfume. Medium-bodied with super crunchy energy and brightness. Very fine tannins. Elegant and precise. So subtle and complex, it’s really something. A blend of 64% merlot and 36% cabernet sauvignon. Needs four to five years to open and come together.”
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Staff Pick WineryWhy we love GD Vajra and you should too!
What makes the wines of G.D. Vajra so special? It’s more than just the legendary cooling fogs of Piedmont and its patchwork of disparate soils. It’s also a commitment to innovation and dedication to the land. The winery’s founder Aldo Vajra was involved in the turbulence of late 60’s Italian politics as a young man. His father, fearing for Aldo, confined him to their family farm, where his interest in radical politics transformed into an interest in radical agriculture. An early adopter of sustainable agriculture, the Vajras became Piedmont’s first practicing organic farm in 1971, finally certified in 2019. The Barolo wines are expressive, even in their youth. This is not a member of the Westernized, “New Barolos” of the 80’s, but a newer style still. GD Vajra is representative of a Fresher style that’s still traditional in its influences. GD Vajra Barolo Albe 2018 750ml $33.50 special, 16 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 94 Points
“Lovely Nebbiolo aromas of rose, violet, red berry and botanical herb shape the fragrant nose. Smooth and savory, the elegant palate features juicy red cherry, crushed raspberry and cake spice alongside polished tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. It’s already drinking beautifully but also promises years of pleasure. Enjoy through 2030.” GD Vajra Barolo Albe 2019 750ml $33.50 special, 11 bottles availableWine Advocate 94 Points
“This is certainly one of the most popular and versatile wines made in Italy, and deservedly so. The well-priced GD Vajra 2019 Barolo Albe shows some ripe fruit and softness with cherry, dried raspberry and crushed rose. This vintage is similar in character to the 2016 release in that both vintages offer a linear style with good structure at the back. The mouthfeel is polished and long, affording accessibility and complexity too.” GD Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2017 750ml $69 special, 26 bottles availableWine 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.” GD Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2018 750ml $69 special, 15 bottles available#9 Top 100 Cellar Selections 2022 – Wine EnthusiastWine Enthusiast 95 Points
“Cellar Selection. Heady aromas of violet, camphor, leather and tobacco lead the way on this fragrant red. On the palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins accompany ripe Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry and licorice. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Drink 2025–2035.” GD Vajra Barolo Coste di Rose 2018 750ml $57.50 special, 26 bottles availableVinous 92 Points
“The 2018 Barolo Coste di Rose is a delicate, understated Barolo that will need a bit of time to fully emerge. There’s lovely purity to the fruit here, but also some angular contours that need to resolve. The 2018 is a mid-weight wine in the style of the vintage, and yet there is fine balance.” GD Vajra Barolo Coste di Rose 2019 750ml $69 special, 16 bottles availableWine Advocate 95 Points
“Compared to Bricco delle Viole, Coste di Rose is distinguished by sandstone soils at lower elevations of 340 to 350 meters above sea level. There is a lot of variability in the soils, and as they change, Nebbiolo behaves differently, picking up new aromas and textural qualities along the way. The GD Vajra 2019 Barolo Coste di Rose shows a darker core of fruit with dusty earthy tones and campfire ash. The grape skins were quite thick in 2019, meaning that less work was done with submerged cap and other extractive methods. The beauty of this wine is the mouthfeel, which feels rich, tight and silky. Coste di Rose was first made in 2015.” GD Vajra Barolo Ravera 2018 750ml $79 special, 36+ bottles availableVinous 93 Points
“The 2018 Barolo Ravera is a powerful, tightly wound wine. Gravel, smoke, cured meats, spice, leather, tobacco and menthol emerge, but only with quite a bit of reticence. This deceptively mid-weight Barolo has a good bit of brawn. It will be interesting to see if the fruit emerges from behind the tannins.” GD Vajra Barolo Ravera 2019 750ml $89 special, 10 bottles availableWine Advocate 97 Points
“The organic GD Vajra 2019 Barolo Ravera (with fruit from the most sought-after cru in the village of Novello) reveals gorgeous tonality and color. The wine shines bright with dark ruby and garnet gemstone. Healthy Nebbiolo colors like this can be admired across the 2019 vintage. Ravera represents a union of different geologies from Barolo and Castiglione Falletto. The site has shown extraordinary versatility, especially in the face of climate change, to make wines of both strength and elegance. It is softly textured but also strong in fiber, with silky sensations followed by dark fruit and concentration. Ravera has a character all its own, and the operative word here is power.” GD Vajra Clare JC Langhe Nebbiolo 2021 750ml $19 special, 24 bottles availableVinous 92+ Points
“The 2021 Nebbiolo Claré JC is a deep, translucent ruby color. It wafts up with a dazzling mix of crushed violets, lavender and blackberries tinged with a hint of sour citrus. This splashes across the palate, coming across as energetic and playful in nature, as tart wild berries are motivated by zest acidity, while leaving a coating of minerals and liquid stone in their wake. The 2021 finishes with a bitter twang and crunchiness, like biting into a raw cranberry, yet also remarkably fresh. The Claré JC is produced from younger Nebbiolo vines using about 20% whole-cluster fruit to create a throwback-styled wine, one that emphasizes a lighter, more energetic and slightly off-dry character. Enjoy it with a minute chill, but not cold.” GD Vajra Moscato d’Asti 2022 750ml $16 special, 24 bottles availableTasting Notes “
This is a classic Moscato from the village of Asti in Piedmont. Made in the frizzante way with a slight fizz, lower alcohol, and natural sweetness with a floral backbone running through it. As Giuseppe Vajra has said, “this Moscato D’Asti is the Redbull of Piedmont.”
Rizzi Barbaresco Riserva Boito 2015 750ml WAS $99 NOW $89 special, 13 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 96 Points
“Cellar Selection. Camphor, pipe tobacco, iris and mature black-skinned fruit aromas shape the nose on this full-bodied red. Delicious and structured, the firm palate delivers succulent black cherry, raspberry and licorice framed in firm, tightly knit but noble tannins. Drink 2023–2030.”Wine Advocate 94 Points
“The Rizzi 2015 Barbaresco Rizzi Riserva Vigna Boito features the artwork of proprietor Enrico Dellapiana on the front label. With only 3,176 bottles produced, the wine reveals broad shoulders, width and impressive depth. This vintage offers a complete picture of the Nebbiolo grape and of the distinctive elegance of Treiso, one of the cornerstones of the Barbaresco appellation. This Riserva offers a solid center of gravity with ample fruit rendering and framing. The vintage achieves a richer, more concentrated style that suits the wine very nicely.” Rizzi Barbaresco Nervo 2017 750ml WAS $59 NOW $49 special, 12 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 95 Points
“Rose, violet and perfumed berry aromas lead the nose followed by whiffs of camphor and culinary spice. Full bodied, supremely elegant and surprisingly fresh for the hot vintage, the savory palate delivers ripe Marasca cherry, crushed raspberry, licorice and crushed mint alongside taut, refined tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it impeccably balanced. Drink 2022–2032.”Wine Advocate 93 Points
“Of these new releases from Rizzi, the 2017 Barbaresco Nervo is my favorite. That carefully assembled combination of fruit, minerals and Nebbiolo spice (with licorice and aniseed) is what I look for in a Barbaresco. This was not the easiest growing season by any stretch. The vintage was plagued by very cold weather during the first part of the year, followed by scorching heat during the summer. However, the folks at Rizzi have managed to preserve the freshness and linearity of that delicate Nebbiolo fruit. I would recommend a medium-term drinking window in the case of this wine, of which a precious 3,800 bottles were produced.” Giovanni Rosso Cerretta Barolo 2016 750ml WAS $89 NOW $79 special, 21 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 97 Points
“Rose, red-berry, camphor and dark-spice aromas slowly emerge in the glass. Showing Serralunga’s hallmark of firm structure and finesse, the full-bodied, youthfully tense palate delivers juicy red cherry, raspberry compote, dried mint and licorice set against a backbone of noble tannins. Bright acidity keeps it impeccably balanced. Drink 2026–2056. -Kerin O’Keefe” Giovanni Rosso Comune di Serralunga Barolo 2016 750ml WAS $59 NOW $49 special, 29 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 96 Points
“Iris, woodland-berry and pine-forest aromas shape the nose. On the focused, vibrant palate, mint and star anise notes accent a core juicy Marasca cherry. Taut polished tannins and bright acidity provide balance and a firm lithe structure.”
Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial Rioja 2018 750ml WAS $44 NOW $39 special, 36+ bottles availableWine Advocate 94 Points
“2018 was a cooler vintage, with a fairly long maturation, which made the wines somewhat fresher and less alcoholic, as showcased by the 2018 Selección Especial, a classical blend of the four red varieties from Rioja, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with contained ripeness (14.05% alcohol) and good freshness. It fermented in oak casks with indigenous yeasts and matured in French oak barrels, 40% of them new, for 26 months. They were not very happy with the vintage and had to sort and discard, but as they didn’t produce Prado Enea, Torre Muga or Haro, those grapes went into this wine. They are reluctant about 2018, but I think it was a vintage capable of the best and the worst, and this 2018 is floral, expressive and elegant. It’s medium to full- bodied, with very fine, chalky tannins, combining power and elegance. Amazing! 187,200 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2021.”
Cadence Bel Canto Red 2019 750ml WAS $69 NOW $59 special, 11 bottles availableJeb Dunnuck 96 points
“The 2019 Bel Canto is more Cabernet Franc-dominated and includes 17% Merlot. While it doesn’t match the 2018, it’s a beauty offering impressive redcurrant and spiced plum fruits, notes of spicy oak, dried flowers, and leafy herbs, medium to full body, a pure, seamless, gorgeous texture, and ultra-fine tannins. It’s just a stunning Cabernet Franc from Washington State that offers incredible pleasure today given its balance and texture yet will evolve for 20+ years. 290 cases.”Caladan Cabernet Franc 2017 750ml WAS $219 NOW $199 special, 12 bottles availableAn offshoot of the famed Cardinale winesWine Enthusiast 96 Points
“A top bottling of the variety, this small-production wine is structured and strong, opening reductively, with elements of tobacco leaf, oak and sage. The savory character persists in the form of leather and black pepper, allowing just a touch of sharp red fruit to enter and complement. This wine has further secrets to be revealed; enjoy best from 2027–2032.”Cayuse Impulsivo Tempranillo 2020 WAS $133 NOW $119 special, 25 bottles availableJames Suckling 95+ points; Jeb Dunnuck 94+ points
“Tight and closed, with notions of bloody blue fruits, iodine, rose petals, and cedarwood, the 2020 Impulsivo hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a nicely balanced, layered mouthfeel, and ripe tannins that emerge on the finish. I like its concentration, and its tannins are polished and beautifully integrated, but this is in need of a solid 4-5 years of bottle age to show its full potential. It should have 20-25 years of overall longevity when all is said and done.” Melka Estates CJ Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2017ml WAS $79 NOW $69 special, 10 bottles availableWine Spectator 91 Points
“Open-knit, offering a gush of steeped plum and açaí berry flavors laced with licorice and ganache hints. Lightens up just a bit through the finish, as the structure is on the modest side, but the fruit is a joy to drink. Drink now through 2027.”
“Laval at First Sight”
Champagne Georges Laval is one of the stars of the grower movement—a cult winery whose wines appear in miniscule quantities here in the states. Vincent Laval makes wines that are rigid in their structure and impressive in their complexity—serious wines for studied drinking.
The village of Cumières in Champagne is best described (by Peter Liem) as a true Hot Spot: not only is it an up-and-coming town, but it’s also a warm microclimate within Champagne’s Grande Vallée. Much like the Burgundy village of Nuits-St-Georges, the vineyards are all classified as Premier Cru, but deepest of insiders know this is merely an oversight. As the aforementioned Liem notes, Cumières is “one of the most important terroirs in the Grande Vallee.”
So what makes this lovely village such a noteworthy locale? What leaves the most jaded drinkers breathless? Why, it’s the chalk-rich soils hosting some of Champagne’s oldest Pinot Noir and Meunier vines. But Meunier is a silly grape known for all fluffy nonsense and no substance, you should rightly respond. Ah, if averages alone made the rule, this would be true. But fortunately for us, a few rare experts can coax this ugly duckling into the most refined of swans.
And Vincent Laval is the master of such a flock. His Champagnes delight the palate with Meunier’s verve but also stun with their depth of complexity. Of course, the terroir and age of the vines contributes to such profundity of the wine, but there is some indefinable something that Laval brings, too, that results in such an ecstatic balance between the exuberance and the divine.
Highlights In Stock Now from Georges Laval:
Georges Laval Cumieres Premier Cru Brut Nature 2015 3L $599 special, just 1 double-magnum availableJohn Gilman 94+ points
“This is the exact same blend as the Cumières non-vintage bottling from the base year of 2015 that was released without any vintage-dating on the label in regular-sized bottles two years ago, but the magnums (and jeroboams for those so disposed) were aged an additional two years sur latte and hence are labeled with the vintage date on the front label. The larger-sized formats are also non-dosé. This magnum was disgorged at the end of November of 2019 and offers up a superb nose of apple, discreet tangerine, hazelnut, excellent minerality, a hint of iodine, warm bread, gentle smokiness, acacia blossoms and a whisper of oak (with most of this having been subsumed into the other aromatics). On the palate the wine is pure, racy and full-bodied, with a rock solid core, great delineation and mineral drive, refined mousse and absolutely stellar backend lift, grip and length. When this was first released, Vincent Laval was convinced it was one of the finest vintages of his Cumières bottling in many years, and drinking it now out of magnum with more time on the fine lees, it is awfully easy to agree with him! The extra few years aging sur latte have allowed the fine girdle of acidity to relax here nicely and this wine is now drinking really quite well out of magnum (and probably regular-sized bottles as well), but my bottles are staying put in the cellar for at least another five years! 2020-2055.”Importer note
“1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Pinot Meunier. Premier Cru.”
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You could buy this elsewhere in magnum for the same price…
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Les Chenes is the epitome of the knife’s-edge balance that Vincent Laval’s wines can provide: there’s the warmth of the site with the depth of the chalk. Rich and generous, this is one of the few 100% Chardonnay wines of Laval’s making. Georges Laval Cumieres Les Chenes Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut Nature 2018 750ml $269 special, 2 bottles availableGeorges Laval Cumieres Les Hautes Chevres Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru Brut Nature 2015 750ml $249 special, 3 bottles available
John Gilman 96 points
“The 2015 les Haut Chèvres from Vincent Laval is flat out brilliant young wine. As readers will recall, after the 2009 vintage, this single vineyard bottling changed cépages, as Vincent had to replant his parcel of pinot noir vines planted in 1930, so this switched over to a pure pinot meunier cuvée from the same lieu à dit, with the vines having been planted in 1931 and 1947. The 2015 version was disgorged at the end of February of 2020 and is beautifully expressive aromatically today, wafting from the glass in a blend of white peach, beautiful, gently musky meunier floral tones, a complex base of chalky soil elements, a bit of buttery oak, a touch of fresh nutmeg and lemon blossoms. On the palate the wine is precise, pure and full-bodied, with a great core of fruit, even better mineral drive, bright, buried acids and stunning length and grip on the complex and vibrant finish. As this is non-dosé, it is still a very youthful wine, but it is so beautifully balanced that it is not all that hard to drink in its youth. But, it is really built for the cellar and I would not venture to touch a bottle until it has seen a full decade’s worth of bottle age, as there is so much more here to unfold with the passage of time! 2030-2065+.”
Importer note “100% Pinot Noir. Premier Cru.”
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Laval owns a small parcel within Les Longues Violes, home to some of his oldest, near-centurion vines. Is it magic that results in what Antonio Galloni has describes as possessing “unreal finesse and stunning beauty”? I can’t presume to say. Georges Laval ‘Les Longues Violes’ Brut Nature 2013 750ml $779 special, just 1 bottle availableNo reviews available for the 2013 vintage. 2012 review provided for reference.Antonio Galloni 96 points
“The 2012 Brut Nature Les Longues Violes is one of the most distinctive wines in Champagne. Weightless and perfumed in the glass, the Longues Violes possesses unreal finesse and stunning beauty. Floral, citrus and orchard fruit notes are all finely sketched in this a Champagne that sizzles with tension. This is a fabulous showing. Les Longues Violes is 90% Pinot Noir planted in 1964 and 1974 and 10% Meunier planted in 1947.”John Gilman 96 points
“The 2012 is the first release of les Longues Violes from Vincent Laval. This is a single vineyard bottling of pinot noir and pinot meunier that Monsieur Laval just started producing when he had to replant a parcel of very old pinot noir from his neighboring lieu à dit of les Hauts Chèvres, as those 1931 vines finally gave up the ghost after the 2009 harvest. However, in this adjoining vineyard, Vincent wanted to wait until the youngest vines (planted in 1984) were sufficiently mature to go into a single vineyard cuvée. The meunier here dates back to 1947 and most of the Lavals’ pinot noir in les Longues Violes was planted in 1964 for this bottling… It delivers a marvelously pure and youthful bouquet of white peach, apple, hazelnut, a touch of buttery oak, lovely soil tones, warm bread and just a touch of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused, complex and perfectly balanced, with excellent mid-palate depth, elegant mousse, bright, buried acids and outstanding length and grip on the complex and utterly refined finish. This is gorgeous young wine, but like all of Vincent’s cuvées, it really needs some cellaring to blossom. 2028-2075.” Why consider a sweet Meunier-blend Champagne? Because sipping alongside vanilla-scented poached pears or crème anglaise-drizzled fresh berries is a transformative experience. And we all deserve a little decadence now and then. Georges Laval Garennes Demi-Sec NV (2020) 750ml $79 special, 5 bottles available
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