Weekend VinopolPick 12-27-19

In Today’s Newsletter:

Staff Pick Champagnes

New Champagne Arrivals

Featured New Arrival:
New Wines from Lafage – A Vinopolis Favorite

New Wine Spectator Insider Reviews

The Hidden Rhone Gems of St. Jean du Barroux

Everyday Piedmont from Burlotto and Rinaldi

New Arrivals
Including JP Brun, Guigal,
Argiano, Monbousquet, Huet
Vajra, E. Pira, Flaccianello, and More!


Please Note:

Vinopolis will be closed on New Year’s Day

but will be open normal hours (10-6) on New Year’s Eve and January 2nd

Our Online Store is always open!


Staff Pick Champagnes

This is a classic Cote de Blancs Champagne.  Minerally, rich and compelling, it’s tragically overlooked in the world of grower Blanc de Blancs but deserves to be on your New Year’s table. – Suzanne
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($39.95) $28 special
Antonio Galloni 91 points
“The NV Blanc de Blancs Cuis 1er Cru is such a classic Gimonnet wine. Light on its feet and gracious, with soaring aromatics and tons of nuance, the 1er Cru is a winner. Bright floral overtones, citrus, brioche and apple are some of the many notes that are delineated in the glass. Among the entry-level wines in this range, the Cuis 1er Cru offers the best expression of the Gimonnet style at an affordable price. I loved it. Disgorged: March 16, 2019.”
John Gilman 90 points “The current release of Pierre Gimonnet “Cuis Premier Cru” Blanc de Blancs non-vintage Brut is from the base year of 2015, with reserve wines dating back to 2010 included in the blend. It was disgorged in March of 2019 and finished with a dosage of six grams per liter, after three years aging sur latte. The wine delivers a pretty nose of pear, delicious apple, almond, chalky minerality and brioche. On the palate the wine is fullish, crisp and complex, with a good core, fine mineral drive, elegant mousse and quite good length and grip on the very nicely balanced finish. This is nicely aperitif in weight and is drinking pretty well right out of the blocks, but like all of the Gimonnet non-vintage bottlings, it is still a tad youthful, should age quite nicely and will be even better with three or four more years in the cellar. Good juice. 2019-2040+.”

Far more elegant than the price tag would lead you to believe.  Subtle but pleasant richness and baked fruits lead to a super fresh finish. – Andy
R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Disgorged July 2019
Antonio Galloni 92 points
“Coutier’s NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is bright, focused and nuanced, not to mention incredibly delicious. The energy of Chardonnay and structure of Ambonnay yield a Champagne that is singular, classy and bursting at the seams with character. This release is based on 2016, with 40% reserve wines. I would give it another 6-12 months in bottle, although, truthfully, it is pretty hard to resist now. Dosage: 6.5 gr/L. Disgorged: July, 2019.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Mignon manages to balance decadence with precision and focus in a way that speaks to me.  Crystalline and floral but with power underneath, this is a long time favorite. – Nina
Christophe Mignon Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($59.95) $47 special
Antonio Galloni 92 points
“The NV Brut Nature Blanc de Noirs Pur Meunier is a very pretty wine, but it also needs at least several hours of aeration to be at its most expressive. Time brings out striking aromatic presence and tons of Meunier character. Dried orchard fruit, spice, wild flowers and almonds build in a beautifully focused, vibrant NV Champagne that captures the essence of Christophe Mignon’s deeply personal style. The current release is a blend of equal parts 2015 and 2014. No dosage.”

We take Clouet’s quality for granted on the West Coast (where prices are much lower for the house) but Clouet’s Silver Label is fantastic, marrying Bouzy’s inherent power with a low-dosage snappiness that makes the wine come alive at the table. – Saul
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 750ML ($419.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle!)
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 1.5L ($99.95) $89 special
Andre Clouet Silver Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, Champagne NV 3L ($349.95) $289 special
John Gilman 90 points
“I believe that this bottle of André Clouet “Silver” Blanc de Noirs non-vintage Brut Nature is from the base year of 2013, as it has a small code printed on the back of the neck label that says “LS13”. In any case, the wine is quite good, showing that lovely structural rounding from a bit of additional aging in the cellars. The bouquet offers up scents of apple, nectarine, bread dough, a good base of soil and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and nicely balanced, with refined mousse, bright, nicely-integrated acids and a long, complex finish. This is a quite good bottle of Brut Nature. 2019-2030+.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average listed price is $47


New Champagne Arrivals

The dream vintage wines are quietly emerging as the best values in the Andre Clouet lineup.
Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2012 750ML ($69.95) $55 special
Case-6 Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2012 750ML ($399.95) $299 special (that’s only $49.83/bottle!)

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The 2013 is the brighter, leaner of the two years, but both are fantastic.
Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($69.95) $55 special
Case-6 Andre Clouet ‘Dream Vintage’ Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($399.95) $299 special (that’s only $49.83/bottle!)

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
From a very special vineyard, this magnum-only bottling is Clouet’s best.
Andre Clouet ‘Le Clos’ Bouzy Grand Cru Brut, Champagne 2007 1.5L ($319.95) $279 special
A limited production bottling, all from one of the four walled Grand Cru vineyards in Champagne. 100% Pinot Noir.

A great value in crisp, citrusy Champagne—and the half bottles are very useful.
Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $35 special
Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
Wine Spectator 90 points
“Ripe apricot and orchard blossom notes are set on the satiny bead of this well-balanced blanc de blancs. Fresh and personable, with accents of pastry cream and candied lemon peel.”
[Review is for the November 2017 disgorgement. No reviews available of the current disgorgement.]

Doyard is making some of the most mineral drive, compactly powerful champagne and this is great.
Doyard Clos de l’Abbaye Premier Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2013 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“Doyard’s 2013 Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Clos de l’Abbaye 1er Cru is a gorgeous, expressive Champagne that captures all the pedigree of this great vintage. Ample and creamy on the palate, with tremendous resonance, the 2013 has so much to offer. All the best qualities of Doyard house style come through loud and clear. The 2013 was vinified in neutral French oak barrels and spent 48 months on the lees.”
60+ year old vines. Clos de l’Abbaye is a true clos worked biodynamically in Vertus 1er Cru, just behind the Doyard estate.

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
A go-to value for us, this ’14 based NV is a very serious wine for the price.
Pierre Paillard ‘Les Parcelles’ Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Pierre Paillard ‘Les Parcelles’ Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne NV 375ML ($29.95) $26 special

No Reviews For The Current Disgorgement
Review for the 2018 disgorgement:  Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points “The NV Bouzy Grand Cru Les Parcelles XIII is based on the 2013 vintage plus roughly 40% of reserve wines from 2012, 2011 and 2010. The assemblage consists of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, fermented in stainless steel and in a few demi-muids. The nicely colored wine (white gold with a pink reflection due to the late harvest and no fining agents) offers a very clear, precise and delicate bouquet of cherries and red berries. Pure and filigreed on the palate, this is a beautifully pure, clear, fresh and delicate blend that reveals impressive mineral structure and length. Simply fascinating. Dosed with 3.5 grams per liter and disgorged in October 2017. Tasted in April 2018.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
With 10 years on the lees, this is the essence of Paillard from a great year.
Pierre Paillard ‘La Grande Recolte’ Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut, Champagne 2008 750ML ($79.95) $69 special
Winery note
“La Grande Récolte represents the quintessence of the Paillards vineyards. Crafted by blending only the first press of old vine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay. 1.8 g/L dosage. Hard chalk bedrock with clay topsoil. La Grande Récolte benefits from extended aging “sur lie”: 10 years in our 19th century cellars at a depth of 53 feet/16 meters and at a constant 50°F/10°C temperature.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Back in stock, this workhorse from Bereche is up to their usual standards.
Bereche et Fils Brut Reserve, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $40.90 special
L17 base. Disgorged July 2019.
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“The NV Brut Réserve (2016 base, disgorged December 2018) is especially finessed on this release, with a bit more floral lift from the Chardonnay than is often the case, and also slightly higher dosage, all of which works very well. Lemon confit, white flowers and mint add to the wine’s decidedly bright profile. This is a fabulous edition of the Brut Réserve. Dosage is 7 grams per liter. Disgorged: December, 2018.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Plus some newly arrived PNW sparklers that compete with the classics:

A great value in domestic sparkling that tastes at both once classical and specifically Willamette.
Mellen Meyer Brut Sparkling, Willamette Valley NV 750ML ($34.95) $29 special
KWG8 – Tasting Pour
“From a small Willamette Valley producer specializing only in sparkling wine try this traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend for a dry, crisp elegant sparkling at a good price.  Smells of green apples with a salty tart palate.”
Winery note “Grapes sourced from Johan VIneyard, Van Duzer Corridor and Dundee Hills. 35% Chardonnay, 65% Pinot Noir fermented in neutral French and Oregon oak. 25 months in tirage, 8 grams/ liter dosage. 350 cases produced.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Looking for the most profound sparkler from the northwest? Look no further than this beauty.
Analemma Atavus Vineyard Blanc de Noir, Columbia Gorge 2015 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Winery Note
“Our Blanc de Noir is an expression of single variety, single vineyard, and single vintage, honoring the individuality of this historic site. This wine is vinous in character, in which the bubbles preserve the expression of this special terroir. Of citrine color and brilliant clarity to the eye, traditional autolytic character on the nose, and a creamy textured palate, this wine appeals to all of the senses. 100% Pinot Noir and a true méthode champenoise, aged sur lie for 40 months.”


Featured New Arrival:

New Wines from Lafage – A Vinopolis Favorite

The Lafage family produces some of the best value big reds out there, under labels as diverse as Bastide Miraflors, Chateau Saint Roch and Tessellae.  Based in the Roussillon, with its wealth of old vines and warm sun, they make wines that are massively built, with rich, sumptuous fruit and seductive textures.  These are wines that are some of the best sellers in the shop’s history and so we’re always looking to bring in new bottlings.  These are highly rated, powerful reds from a variety of old vines across the Roussillon.  Compared to similar wines from the Rhone, these are fantastic bargains and we expect them to sell as briskly as their predecessors.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Domaine Lafage ‘Nicolas’ Vieilles Vignes, IGP Cotes Catalanes 2017 750ML ($19.95) $16 special
Wine Advocate 91-93 points
“It was exciting to see that the 2017 Nicolas, all old-vine Grenache from three terroirs, was showing more red fruit and freshness than the 2016. It’s still rich, deep and velvety in texture, but it’s livelier and should be a similarly rocking value once it’s released.”

Chateau Saint-Roch ‘Kerbuccio’, Maury Sec 2017 750ML ($24.95) $19.50 special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
“One of the greatest values in the wine world has to be the Kerbuccio cuvée from Jean-Marc Lafage’s Chateau Saint Roch estate in Maury. The 2017 isn’t going to break the trend. Checking in as a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, it’s a blockbuster, deep, massive effort that just screams Grenache from Maury. Ripe blackberries, melted chocolate, black cherries, and cured meat notes all emerge from this beautifully textured, layered, opulent wine that stays balanced and pure. Brought up in 80% new demi-muids, it shows no sense of its oak élevage, has beautiful purity and freshness, and tastes like it cost 4-5 times the price. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Domaine Lafage Fundacio, Cotes du Roussillon Village 2016 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Case-12 Domaine Lafage Fundacio, Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2016 750ML ($479.95) $359 special (that’s only $29.92/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
“One of the finest wines I’ve tasted from the estate is unquestionably the 2016 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Fundacio, which is 60% Syrah from Maury with the balance Mourvèdre and Grenache, vinified and aged in small barrels. Full-bodied, incredibly pure, elegant, and silky, it boasts awesome notes of crème de cassis, black olives, leafy herbs, and subtle gamey, salty nuances. It’s a rich, powerful wine yet just glides over the palate with no sensation of weight or heaviness, sweet tannins, and a great finish. It should keep for a decade.”

New Wine Spectator Insider Reviews

Re-arriving ETA January:

Bedrock Wine Co. ‘The Bedrock Heritage’, Sonoma Valley 2018 750ML ($59.95) $45 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 94 points
“Heady, yet refined and polished, with boldly expressive black raspberry, orange peel and spice box flavors. This is full of additional nuances and builds toward big but fine-grained tannins. Zinfandel, Carignan and Mataro. Drink now through 2030. From California. —T.F.”

In Stock Now:

Brick House Vineyards ‘Les Dijonnais’ Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge 2017 750ML ($79.95) $55 special
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Svelte and harmonious, with splendid raspberry and cherry flavors laced with rose petal and black tea notes, building complexity toward refined tannins. Drink now through 2027. From Oregon. —T.F.”



Just Arrived!

The Hidden Rhone Gems of St. Jean du Barroux

Philippe Gimel is a prime example of why we look beyond the biggest name appellations of the world.  He’s a superstar winemaker who works in Ventoux—one of the least heralded parts of the Rhone, but the source of increasingly interesting wines.  Gimel is a truly special talent who worked at both Chateau Beaucastel and Domaine de la Janasse before starting his own project.  He was able to buy a touch over 12 hectares of old, interesting vineyards in Ventoux—something he’d never to be able to afford in a more prestigious part of the Rhone.

The wines he makes under the St. Jean du Barroux label are fantastic and unique—old vines plus long elevage in neutral vessels mean these read as very “old school” in tone, but with cleaner flavors and vivid aromatics.  The earliest released of his wines sees 18 months in tank before release and his top bottlings are held for two to three years before they’re bottled—a cash flow nightmare, but something that Gimel does out of a perfectionism and drive that are common to the best winemakers in the world.  We’re excited to finally offer these off-the-beaten path gems, just arrived and in stock now.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Saint Jean du Barroux La Source, Ventoux 2016 750ML ($24.95) $19.50 special
Case-12 Saint Jean du Barroux Ventoux La Source, Rhone 2016 750ML ($299.95) $219 special
Importer Note
“The name La Source, comes from the natural artesian spring located near the vineyards of Saint Jean du Barroux. Philippe’s approach to farming encourages low yields but there are scattered pockets of more vigorous vines which set more clusters with larger berries. Rather than drop fruit or try to force these vines to crop lower yields, they are harvested separately and used to make a more fruit-forward and frank expression of Philippe’s terroir. Harvested by hand and destemmed, this cuvée which is naturally lower in tannin only sees a short maceration and fermentation by indigenous yeasts. It is bottled “early” by Philippe’s standards usually after 18 months in tank.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Saint Jean du Barroux L’Argile, Ventoux 2016 750ML ($29.95) $26 special
Decanter 94 points
“Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault. Yields 20hl/ha, hand-harvested and 75% destemmed. Light reduction on the nose calls for a decant. Gently serrated tannic weave, with taut, juicy acidity and a saline dimension that spreads across the palate like an electric current. Real intensity of searching fruit flavour and a textured finish. It’s about texture and feel at this stage – aromatic fireworks to follow in time. drinking Window 2019 – 2026.”
Importer Note “After working at Chateau Beaucastel and Domaine de la Janasse Philippe Gimel purchased 12.5 hectares of vines in the unheralded Ventoux. After years of working in abject penury devoting his energies into organic farming, tending his vines by hand and working (and living!) out of a makeshift cellar Philippe is beginning to get the attention that his talent and hard work deserves. The rocky clay soils of his vineyards are devoted to producing a wine he calls l’Argile which is a blend of Grenache and Syrah with small proportions of Carignan and Cinsault. Thoroughly old school, he ferments and ages his wine in concrete tanks for a very long time before bottling – in the cases of L’Argile, at least two years. Naturally he also waits to release the wines after an additional time in bottle; when he feels they are drinking well.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Saint Jean du Barroux La Pierre Noire, Ventoux 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Importer Note
“La Pierre Noire, or “the black stone,” is a cuvée made from Grenache and Syrah grown on clay limestone soils marked by abrupt appearance of black gravel. So sudden and noticeable is this change in the vineyard that Philippe has always known that this site was its own cuvée. At once more stern but contradictorily more elegant, La Pierre Noire is fermented and aged in concrete for at least 36 months before bottling and released only when Philippe feels it’s ready.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!



Everyday Piedmont from Burlotto and Rinaldi

Contrary to what many people think, most Piemontese citizens don’t spend their evenings drinking solely Barolo and Barbaresco.  In fact, most of those high end wines are reserved for very special occasions.  Instead, residents rely on wines like Dolcetto, Barbera and Langhe Nebbiolo for their daily and weekly beverages—wines that deliver delicious results in spades without the exorbitant price tags that the “big B’s” require.

We just received our yearly allocations of these workday wines from two trusted, traditional producers on Friday and want to bring them to your attention.  Burlotto and Francesco Rinaldi both offer extremely well made bottlings from the bottom to the top of their range—all at prices that offer a great deal of value.  Both specialize in old-school, traditionally made wines that highlight the grape and place without oak, over-extraction or other winemaking make-up.  In short, they’re the kind of wines we like to drink, as well, and you’d be smart to stock up on an assortment of these bottlings.

In Stock Now:

Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Gavi DOCG, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($21.95) $18 special

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($31.95) $27 special
Case-12 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($359.95) $289 special (that’s only $24.08/bottle!)
Winery Note
“The vineyards located in Barolo, in the flatter areas of the Cannubi hill, have a sandier soil; in La Morra, in the areas of Zonchetta and Boiolo, the soil is more clayey with calcareous components. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled cement or stainless steel tanks with the skins contact for at least 15 days.  After racking, the various lots from the different vineyards are blended and then aged in medium-capacity Slavonian oak barrels for at least a year.  Refinement in bottles for several months gives the wine a vibrant red ruby color with violet reflections and an ethereal and intense bouquet.  The taste is dry, robust and suitable for medium-term aging.”

Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Nebbiolo d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($34.95) $29 special
Case-12 Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Nebbiolo d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($389.95) $315 special (that’s only $26.25/bottle!)
Winery Note
” Traditional vinification is carried out in cement tanks with skin-contact fermentation for 15-20 days and automatic pump-overs.  The wine is aged for one year in medium-capacity Slavonian oak barrels.  This is followed by refinement in bottles for several months to enhance the freshness and bouquet of the wine. The color is ruby-red, not too intense, respecting the character of the Nebbiolo grape variety. The aroma is ethereal with scents of flowers and fresh fruit.  The taste is dry with a good body.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Francesco Rinaldi & Figli Grignolino d’Asti, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($21.95) $18 special
Winery Note
“Its colour is light ruby red. The smell is subtle with scent of rose. Its taste is fresh, flowery and mild to the palate. It perfectly matches with hors d’oeuvres, soups, fish and white meat. Fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature for about 8 days. Ageing in steel goes on for some months before bottling in spring.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Burlotto Dives Langhe Sauvignon, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($27.95) $24 special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Burlotto Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special
Importer Note
“Fresh and savory, this opens with aromas of dark berry, ground cooking spice and whiff of chopped herb. The vibrant palate doles out juicy black cherry, clove, star anise and blood orange accompanied by racy acidity.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Burlotto Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($21.95) $18 special
Importer Note
“The 40 year old Neirane vineyard with full sunny exposure produces a full flavored well structured Dolcettod’Alba. Two additional vineyards contribute to this excellent Dolcetto: SuJort and Perno. Dolcetto means ‘little sweet one’ and though this wine is definitely not sweet it is however, fresh, light and zippy, “like the little sweet nephew of the family”.Very much made in a traditional Italian style, this wine has a refreshing and food friendly finish to it. So sit back, relax and let your mind transport you back to “la dolce vita.””

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Burlotto Mores Langhe Rosso, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($29.95) $26 special
Importer Note
” Mores is a co-fermanted blend of 50% Nebbiolo and 50% Barbera. The Barbera functions very well in softening the tannins of the Nebbiolo and contributing bright acidity and berry flavors. This is a stunning red wine, whether you are a Barolo lover or not, it has all the depth, body, length of finish and finesse you would expect from a glass of fine red. Give it a try!”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $32
Burlotto Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($31.95) $27 special
Importer Note
” The Langhe Nebbiolo is a delicious wine to drink now and over the next few years. Sweet floral and tobacco notes meld into a core of bright red stone fruits, mint and anise.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($24.95) $21.90 special
Importer Note
“Pelaverga is an hierloom Piedmontese varietal. Matteo Ascheri aims to highlight the grape’s potential as a dry, still red with spicy, dark cherry and red-berry flavors. A medium bodied, fresh and bright red, the Pelaverga pairs well with a wide range of pastas, pizzas and lighter grilled meats and fish.”

New Arrivals

West Coast

#91 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2019
Snowden Vineyards ‘Brothers Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 750ML ($89.95) $79 special
Case-12 Snowden Vineyards ‘Brothers Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 750ML ($1079.95) $849 special (that’s only $70.75/bottle—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Antonio Galloni 96+ points
“The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Brothers is the best wine I have tasted from Diana Snowden-Seysses. Rich, explosive and savory, the 2016 dazzles with intensity in all of its dimensions. Graphite, smoke, savory herbs and spice notes wrap around a core of dark fruit in a vertical, towering Cabernet Sauvignon that captures all the vintage has to offer.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Offers a tasty core of plum and blackberry fruit, backed by lively anise and apple wood notes. Restrained overall, with an alluring freshness and a subtle charcoal hint lingering deftly at the end. Drink now through 2032. 639 cases made.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
One of the best value Cabs on the market, this is old school in all the best ways.
Snowden Vineyards The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Case-12 Snowden Vineyards The Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2016 750ML ($719.95) $519 special (that’s only $43.25/bottle—the lowest listed price in the USA today!)
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“Snowden’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon The Ranch is gorgeous. Dark, powerful and beautifully structured, the 2016 Ranch is a huge overachiever. In 2016, the Ranch is a wine of real power, gravitas and character. Black cherry, plum, lavender and savory herbs all develop in the glass, but it is the wine’s persistence and overall balance that stands out in this deeply flavorful, classically built Cabernet from Snowden. Best of all, the 2016 is a superb wine for the money.”
James Suckling 92 points “Elderberries, blueberries, blackberries and hints of hazelnuts and walnuts. Medium to full body, focused acidity and a medium-chewy finish. Drink in 2022.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2016 750ML ($39.95) $26 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91 points
“Bright, dark red with ruby highlights. Highly complex nose combines fruit aromas of blackberry and blueberry with notes of bitter chocolate, licorice, violet and wet-rock minerality and subtle herbal suggestions of tobacco leaf and pepper. Fine-grained, dry and ripe, with its blackberry, boysenberry and shiso leaf flavors conveying an element of medicinal reserve. Finishes with dusty, firm, essentially suave tannins and noteworthy aromatic lift. Winemaker Pellet told me that he long ago stopped doing post-fermentation maceration for Cabernet, ‘as we have plenty of tannins already.'”
James Suckling 91 points “There’s a sense of poise and polish here, thanks to judicious assemblage. The nose has a core of cassis, purple cherries and berries that lead to a palate that offers a ripe, sweeping bed of tannin. A blend of 78% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot, 7% cabernet franc, 4% malbec and 1% petit verdot. Drink now.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Previously sold out, now back in stock.  Marcus’ debut vintage with this vineyard is electric.
Goodfellow Family Cellars Temperance Hill Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2017 750ML ($47.95) $36 special
Winery note
“Translucent crimson. Elegant nose of fresh tobacco, smoke, strawberries and red apple skin, with sea air, stoney ground, iris root, roses, asian spice, orange peel, and cedar cigar box. There are wines that leap at you and wines that beckon you into the glass- this is the later. The cedar note is a classic expression of Temperance Hill terroir, and I was happy to see it in this wine. The palate on opening is bright, with red berries, currants, pie cherries, rhubarb, strawberry tea and hints of citrus peel. Juicy and refreshing, with tartly balanced acids and fine tannins, the wine fills in texture with air, with a mid-weight silkiness that is ideal for pork belly, tortilla de Espanol, and roast chicken. 13.7% alcohol, 160 cases produced. Drink now, or from 2023-2034.”

If you say “FRV100” in French it’s a pun.  Also, the wine’s delish.
Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorees FRV NV 750ML ($24.95) $19 special
Fizzy, fun, festive & off-dry. Instead of making Beaujolais Nouveau with young wines, Terres Dorees produces this hommage to Bugey.
Jon Bonne, PUNCH “Another perennial fave, unabashedly sweet and, along with the very similar Renardat-Fâche Cerdon de Bugey, simply one of the happiest wines on earth. Brun is based in southern Beaujolais, but this is a very different sort of gamay from what you’d typically find in red wine: made using the ancestral method, and finishing around 9 percent alcohol, its flavors evoke shaved black-cherry ice, poppy seeds and spun sugar, and they operate more in bass tones, matching its dark-rose color.”

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Big, rich and powerful—this is an excellent Hermitage blanc alternative.
E. Guigal Saint-Joseph ‘Cuvee Lieu-Dit Saint-Joseph’ Blanc, Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $49 special
Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2016 Saint Joseph lieu dit Saint Joseph Blanc includes the old-vine fruit from the former Grippat estate. A blend of 92% Marsanne and 8% Roussanne fermented in 50% new oak and 50% second-fill barriques, it’s ripe and honeyed, marked by aromas of toasted grain, then eases into flavors of toasted marshmallow and orange marmalade before gliding to a long, spicy finish. This medium to full-bodied white looks to have the potential to last up to 10 years in bottle.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “I was blown away by the 2016 Saint Joseph Lieu Dit Saint Joseph Blanc, which is up with some of the top vintages of this cuvée. Terrific notes of sautéed white peach, caramelized citrus, brioche and crème brûlée all give way to a medium to full-bodied, seamless, impressively balanced white. Coming from the namesake vineyard of the appellation, a south facing, granite hillside south of Tournon, this beauty will keep for over a decade.”
Wine Spectator 94 points “Offers alluring verbena, yellow apple and Cavaillon melon aromas and flavors that flow together, with a creamy, polished feel through the shortbreadtinged finish. Delivers a beautiful feel and flow, revealing a hint of opulence. Drink now through 2023.”

The quality to price ratio across all the R. Usseglio wines is great—this very much included.
Domaine Raymond Usseglio & Fils Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Imperiale, Rhone 2016 750ML ($89.95) $69 special
Jeb Dunnuck 96-100 points
“Violets, spring flowers, cassis, plums, and incense notes all define the stunningly good 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Imperiale. Made from 100% Grenache from very old vines, it’s full-bodied and powerful, yet also graceful, balanced and pure, with terrific freshness and purity. My money is on this flirting with perfection once bottled.”
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 95 points “Almost entirely Grenache, from parcels planted in 1901 and 1902, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Imperiale is a stunner. Scents of roses, black tea and raspberries set the scene, while the palate is full-bodied but silky and nearly weightless, delivering an intricate, detailed interplay of red fruit, dried spices and orange zest. Despite what must be 15% alcohol or more, it shows absolutely no sign of heat.”

Monbousquet’s second wine is a first choice in a great vintage like ’15.
Angelique de Monbousquet, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015 750ML ($39.95) $29 special
Antonio Galloni 91 points
“A plush, voluptuous wine, the 2015 Angélique de Monbousquet shows quite a bit better from bottle than it did from barrel. Espresso, mocha, plum, chocolate, licorice and dried herbs emerge from this racy, opulent Saint-Émilion. The 2015 is not especially complex, but it is flat-out delicious and also a terrific choice for drinking over the next handful of years.”
James Suckling 93 points “Spices and dark fruit with decadent earth and white-truffle aromas. Full body, round and velvety tannins and a fruity finish. So velvety and delicious. Second wine of Monbousquet. Drink in 2020.”

Recently re-arrived, this is an epic edition of Huet’s always stunning, nearly-perfect dessert wine.
Domaine Huet Vouvray ‘Cuvee Constance’ Moelleux, Loire 2015 500ML ($249.95) $199 special
Wine Spectator 99 points
“Stunning from the start, with a silky and refined feel despite the panoply of dried quince, fig, pear and apricot flavors that are exotic in nature. Lovely green tea, orange blossom and persimmon notes fill in the background. Obviously sweet, but with persistent dry almond and orange extract details that lend latent tension through the seamless and nearly endless finish. The first Cuvee Constance bottling since the 2009 vintage. Drink now through 2060.”
Wine Advocate 96 points “Rarely produced and selected from the vineyards Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg, Huet’s 2015 Vouvray “Cuvée Constance” offers a deep, clear, intense and concentrated nose of ripe stone fruits, peanut butter cookie, spicy, earthy-mineral and some volatile aromas. Sweet, salty, piquant and mineral with a firm structure and very elegant, concentrated, refined fruit, this is a sweet wine with great purity and mineral finesse on the very long, promising finish. The 2016 is still pretty sweet (142 grams of residual sugar) and should be cellared for at least two or three decades. Total production: 2,800 500-milliliter bottles. Tasted February 2018.”
John Gilman 98 points “I have been looking forward to the release of Domaine Huët’s 2015 Cuvée Constance ever since I tasted a year ago the rest of the stunning range of wines produced here in the vintage. It is a great vintage for Domaine Huët and the Cuvée Constance is everything one could hope for from the confluence of this great estate and a legendary vintage. The wine is still very youthful, but its ultimate brilliance is very easy to see, as the wine wafts from the glass in a celestial constellation of orange, fresh apricot, incipient tea leaves, a nice touch of soil, hints of lanolin, orange peel, barley sugar and a hint of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is pure, full and nascently complex, with laser-like focus, a bottomless core, great acids and marvelous balance on the very, very long, zesty and energetic finish. This is still a very young wine and will need years to start to show its secondary and tertiary layers of complexity, but they are lurking here and in the fullness of time, this will be breathtaking in its beauty. (Drink between 2025-2100)

One of the best values in Barolo, especially in a vintage like ’15.
Vajra Albe, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($49.95) $36 special
Wine Advocate 93 points
“This Barolo offers a more immediate approach, with lots of dark berry followed by spice, tilled earth and black truffle. The 2015 Barolo Albe pours to a medium dark color and lays out a mid-weight texture, with bright primary fruit that is expertly woven into the wine. It exposes clearly etched veins of acidity and some determinedly firm tannins. Despite the Albe’s accessible personality, I recommend that you wait a few more years before popping the cork.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “Pretty, featuring rose, cherry, raspberry and mint flavors, with a touch of mineral. Supple, harmonious and elegant, offering a long finish. The aftertaste is tinged with orange peel and tobacco notes. Best from 2021 through 2036. 4,500 cases made.”

#33 – James Suckling’s Top 100 Wines of the Year 
E. Pira & Figli Chiara Boschis Cannubi, Barolo DOCG 2015 750ML ($149.95) $119 special
James Suckling 99 points
“Impressive roses and finely ground spices with a bright red-cherry core, as well as a fresh wild-herb thread. The sense of focus and purity here is stunning. The palate has a deeply juicy and fresh core of tightly knit tannins that carry immense power with impeccable balance. Elegantly executed wine with profound length. Try from 2025.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “My sample bottle of 2015 Barolo Cannubi was allowed to breathe overnight, and I really got a glimpse of how the wine evolves, showing beautiful minty notes on the bouquet with time. This Barolo is more compact in terms of build than the others and more streamlined in the mouth, but it comes across as extremely delicate, light and elegant. There is a sweet spot on the close. This wine has a unique style that is both graceful and petite, and given ample time to breathe, it would put a smile on any Barolo lover’s face.”

A top tier Tuscan treasure.  This trophy tipple tantalizes tastebuds. 
Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve, Tuscany 2012 750ML ($119.95) $99 special
Antonio Galloni 97 points
“Tasted next to the 2012 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo, the Flaccianello is richer, deeper and more flamboyant. Super-ripe red stone fruit, smoke, licorice and dark spices meld together in a deep, powerful wine. The 2012 is impressive, but personally I prefer the finesse and freshness of the Sorbo. The greater influence of new French oak is also felt in the wine’s texture. Still, that is splitting hairs, as the level here is high. Very high.”

Compare this to Napa Cabs and blends north of $100 and come away impresed.
Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($79.95) $64.50 special
Case-6 Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($479.95) $359 special (that’s only $59.83/bottle!)
James Suckling 99 points
“Very complex aromas of fresh flowers, blackberries and black licorice follow through to a full body, integrated tannins and a long and linear finish. Focused and racy. The tannins are so polished. Better in 2022, but already such a joy to try.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95+ points “A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Petit Verdot (25%), Merlot (20%) and Sangiovese (5%), the 2016 Solengo is a terrific wine and I enjoyed my sample down to the very last drop that I coaxed from the bottle with happy enthusiasm. This is a full-bodied red (but not in an exaggerated manner) with plump and fruit-forward aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, plum, spice and sweet tobacco. The wine is balanced with excellent depth and mouthfeel momentum. I highly recommend this wine from both the 2015 and 2016 vintages, which are both terrific. Some 25,000 bottles were made.”

A zombie detector wine.
Vajra Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Piedmont 2018 750ML ($17.95) $14 special

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Outrageously good for the price, this is big, bold and rich.
Bodegas La Cartuja, Priorat DOCa 2016 750ML ($21.95) $16 special
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 91 points
“Vivid ruby-red. Displays lively, spice- and mineral-accented red berry, lavender and licorice scents that show very good delineation. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering sappy raspberry, cherry and floral pastille flavors that put on weight as the wine stretches out. The mineral note recurs strongly on the persistent finish, where silky, slow-building tannins add shape and gentle grip. (aged in new and used French oak barrels).”

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