Weekend VinopolPick 2-5-21

In Today’s Newsletter:

Valentine’s Day Champagne Spectacular
New Discounts on Top Bubbles

More Deep Discounts: Riesling, Brunello and Burgundy

Staff Pick: 
Don’t Overlook Carl Loewen


Valentine’s Day Champagne Spectacular

New Discounts on Top Bubbles

Arriving Friday February 12th:

One of the premier vineyards in Vertus is an immaculate place to grow Chardonnay.
Doyard Clos de l’Abbaye Premier Cru Extra Brut 2014 750ML ($149.95) Was $119, Now $99 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
John Gilman 94 points
“The Clos de l’Abbaye is an actual walled-in vineyard in Vertus, just behind the Doyards’ winery. The chardonnay vines here are all at least sixty years of age and are farmed biodynamically. The vins clairs are barrel-fermented and aged in cask, do not go through malolactic fermentation and aged for four-plus years sur latte prior to disgorgement and finished with a dosage of two grams per liter. The 2014 Clos de l’Abbaye offers up a superb bouquet of pear, fresh almond, limestone minerality, incipient notes of pastry cream, just a whisper of buttery oak and a topnote of apple blossoms. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with a fine core, great mineral drive and grip, zesty acids, very refined mousse and a long, extremely refined finish that closes still with a bit of buttery oak influence. The touch of oak influence will eventually be subsumed in the other elements of the wine with further bottle age, but it is hardly obtrusive, for the intrepid who might like to enjoy a bottle of this excellent Blanc de Blancs on the early side! 2020-2050+.”
Wine Spectator 93 points “A fragrant Champagne, bursting with lime blossom, garam masala and Meyer lemon peel aromas, which accent flavors of grilled nut, baked pear and espresso crema. The rich range of flavor is packaged in a lithe and mouthwatering frame, and the finely detailed bead carries a hint of oyster shell on the spiced finish. Drink now through 2034.”

The top wine from one of our favorite growers, from the best Champagne vintage of the millennium.
Doyard ‘Les Lumieres’ Extra Brut 2008 750ML ($379.95) Was $319, Now $289 pre-arrival special, 3 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 97 points
“A spectacular wine, Doyard’s 2008 Extra-Brut Grand Cru Les Lumières was disgorged in November 2018 with minimal dosage. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of orange oil, crisp yellow orchard fruit, fresh pastry, honeycomb and almond paste, it’s full-bodied, searingly concentrated and intense, with a racy spine of acidity, immense depth at the core and a long, electric finish. This cuvée is a blend of first-press juice: two-thirds Chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger and one-third Pinot Noir from prime holdings in Aÿ.”

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Our best-selling Savart bottling, now in a bigger bottle.
Savart L’Accomplie Premier Cru Brut NV 1.5L ($149.95) $124 pre-arrival special, 12 magnums available

This is the lowest listed price for a magnum in the USA today!

Lassaigne has been moving up the Champagne rankings in the last decade and this wine is a great case for his pinnacle-tier status.
Jacques Lassaigne Clos Sainte-Sophie Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 2013 750ML ($199.95) Was $179, Now $159 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available

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Geoffroy’s bubbles are always crowd-pleasers, especially the Empreinte, a flagship bottling.
Rene Geoffroy Empreinte Premier Cru Vintage Brut 2014 750ML ($69.95) Was $59, Now $55 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
No review available for the 2014. 2013 review provided for reference.
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92 points “Disgorged in May 2019, the 2013 Brut Premier Cru Empreinte is showing well, opening in the glass with notes of citrus oil, crisp yellow orchard fruit, clear honey and wet stones. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, tensile and incisive, with an inviting core of fruit, ripe but racy acids and a long, saline finish. This is a beautifully elegant, classically balanced Champagne from Geoffroy that bears the stamp of the late, cool growing season.”

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This single-vineyard shows that Laval isn’t the only Meunier-star in Cumieres.
Rene Geoffroy Meunier ‘Les Tiersaudes’ Brut Nature Millesime 2013 750ML ($119.95) Was $99, Now $89 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“The 2013 Brut Nature Les Tiersaudes, 100% Meunier, is fabulous. Soaring aromatics and creamy, beautifully layered fruit meld together in a deeply expressive Champagne that hits all the right notes. Refined, perfumed and exquisitely elegant, the Tiersaudes takes Meunier into a rarified expression of total finesse. Bright, saline notes punctuate the finish. I loved it.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93+ points “…derived entirely from Cumières Pinot Meunier, the 2013 Brut Nature Les Tiersaudes offers up a lovely bouquet of lime zest, smoky orchard fruit, red berries, bitter orange and spices. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, broad and vinous, with a youthfully frothy but incipiently fine mousse, excellent concentration at the core and a firm girdle of acidity, concluding with a long, dry and chalky finish. The expression of fruit is so pristine and the wine’s structure is so complete that I can understand why Geoffroy opted to release this as Brut Nature, though I would love to experience the additional plenitude that a disgorgement with one or two grams per liter dosage might possess.”
Terry Theise Note “[(+)] Another single-vineyard wine, this is entirely Meunier, grown on clay (not chalk), a 1-time-only bottling of just 1300 bottles. It’s alovely, almost delicate Meunier; caraway and rye-toast, not austere but pure and ascetic; detailed finish and high-register aromasof seemingly every sweet grain. As refined as Meunier can be. With a new deg. 4/2018 it remains a curiously expressive Meunier,though for whatever reason I found it more austere this time.”

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One of our most popular rosé Champagnes, every year.
Rene Geoffroy Rose de Saignee Premier Cru Brut NV 750ML ($69.95) Was $59, Now $55 pre-arrival special
Importer note “Disgorged December 2019”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points “Disgorged in June 2019, the latest release of Geoffroy’s perennial superb NV Brut Premier Cru Rosé de Saignée is derived entirely, like its predecessor, from the 2014 vintage. On the nose, this release is similar to the 2018 disgorgment, but it’s even more aromatically complex, with aromas of warm bread, linden and honeycomb complementing the signature scents of red berries, orange rind and spices. On the palate, the wine is deep, full-bodied and incisive, with ripe but racy acids, a concentrated core of fruit and a precise, elegantly chalky finish; indeed, this is a bit more controlled and less boisterous than last year’s edition. While the difference isn’t quite enough to merit an extra point, I do prefer this new release, and it comes warmly recommended.”

Vilmart continues to raise the bar for what they’re capable of.
Vilmart & Cie Les Blanches Voies Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut 2009 750ML ($419.95) Was $349, Now $329 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 97 points
“A new lieu-dit cuvée for Vilmart—derived from 60-year-old vines and vinified in barrel for 10 months—debuts with the 2009 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Blanches Voies, a wine that was disgorged in March 2017 with four grams per liter dosage. Wafting from the glass with aromas of crisp yellow pear, beeswax, white flowers, walnuts and brioche, it’s deep, full-bodied and searingly intense, with chalky structuring extract and an incisive spine of acidity. Long and penetrating, this has turned out brilliantly.”
Antonio Galloni 96 points “Here in its first release, the 2009 Blanc de Blancs Les Blanches Voies is positively stellar. Old vines confer remarkable power, gravitas and explosive energy, and yet the 2009 preserves remarkable freshness to play off the resonant, deeply layered fruit. Intense graphite, mineral, citrus and floral notes add myriad shades of nuance to an expansive, powerful Blanc de Blancs that hits all the right notes. The purity and vibrancy of the flavors here is simply striking. The Blanches Voies gets one more year on the lees than the flagship Coeur de Cuvée and also a dosage of just 4 grams per liter, the lowest ever in the history of Vilmart. The 2009 is positively stellar. Don’t miss it! Production is just 2,400 bottles. Disgorged March 17.”
Antonio Galloni 96 points “The 2009 Blanc de Blancs Les Blanches Voies is every bit as stunning as it was last year. The combination of the warm year and the natural richness conferred by these 70+- year-old vines yields a powerful, vinous Champagne with tremendous character, depth and the pedigree to drink well for many years. Laurent Champs gave the Blanc de Blancs 7 years on the cork, as opposed to the 6 that are customary for the Coeur de Cuvée. Dosage is 4 grams per liter. Disgorged: March, 2017.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Ripe and juicy white cherry and raspberry fruit flavors are layered with fragrant accents of exotic spice, lime blossom and grilled nut in this rich, harmonious Champagne, which is round and expressive, and satiny in texture, with a bright backbone of lemony acidity providing fresh definition through to the lasting finish. Disgorged March 2017. Drink now through 2035.”Terry Theise note  “Way back in the day, VIlmart made a BdB and it was excellent. I missed it when it was discontinued, but this new and spectacular wine more than makes up for it. Deg 3/2017, and drier than the rest of the range, it has great richness (pheasant stock, applewood smoke) and a tangelo-citrus lift, a pixilated chalky-dusty minerality, all conspire in a rumble of interplay that stops you cold and leaves you warm. Entirely original, and a new vibrancy of mineral for Vilmart.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average listed price is $371

Vilmart & Cie Les Blanches Voies Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut 2011 750ML ($419.95) Was $369, Now $349 pre-arrival special, 6 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 96 points
“Offering up aromas of crisp yellow orchard fruit, dried white flowers, honeycomb and blanched almonds, the 2011 Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Blanches Voies is full-bodied, broad and muscular, with striking concentration, racy acids and chalky structuring extract. Chiseled and mineral, it’s a terrific wine. Laurent Champs has always had good things to say about the 2011 vintage chez Vilmart, and a taste of this wine offers persuasive testimony in support of his position. This was disgorged in February 2019 with four grams per liter dosage.”

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Vilmart & Cie ‘Cuvee Rubis’ Brut Rose NV 750ML ($99.95) Was $79, Now $75 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Lovely aromas of lilac and star anise waft from the glass of this graceful rosé Champagne, but there’s a pleasing tautness imparted by the backbone of fresh acidity, well-meshed with flavors of ripe and fleshy white cherry and apricot fruit, pink grapefruit sorbet and pickled ginger. Fine, satiny finish. Disgorged June 2019. Drink now through 2025.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 92 points “Generous and expressive, the latest rendition of Vilmart’s NV Brut Premier Cru Cuvée Rubis is showing very well, bursting with aromas of red berries, plums, blood orange and dried flowers. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, with a sapid core of fruit, a pillowy mousse and a lively, delicately phenolic finish, it’s already drinking well. This is based on the 2017 vintage, with reserve wines from the 2016 and 2015 vintages, and it was disgorged with nine grams per liter dosage.”

Vilmart+warm vintages= magic.
Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier d’Or Premier Cru Brut 2015 750ML ($119.95) Was $99, Now $89 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points
“Disgorged in June 2019 with seven grams per liter dosage, the 2015 Brut Premier Cru Grand Cellier d’Or reveals inviting aromas of golden orchard fruit, pear, freshly baked bread and citrus zest. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy and enveloping, with racy acids, chalky extract and a long, penetrating finish, the vintage has imparted additional generosity, but the house’s chiseled, serious style remains very much intact.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $110

Profundity in pink.
Vilmart & Cie Emotion Brut Rose 2012 750ML ($199.95) Was $179, Now $151.90 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 94 points
“Disgorged in January 2018, Vilmart’s new 2012 Brut Emotion is showing beautifully, wafting from the glass with aromas of orange oil, red berries, yellow plums and toasted almonds. Medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it’s racy and incisive, with chalky structuring extract and a pillowy mousse, concluding with a penetrating finish. It’s a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from 45-year-old vines, vinified in barrels for 10 months without malolactic fermentation.”

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Gimonnet’s entry blanc de blancs is one of our favorites for the price, especially in large format.
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Blanc de Blancs Cuis Premier Cru Brut NV 1.5L ($149.95) Was $118, Now $109 pre-arrival special, 6 magnums available
Importer note
“67% 2015, 33% reserves 2010-2014.”

This is the lowest listed price for a magnum in the USA today!

The last-ever vintage of Gimonnet’s cult-favorite Blanc de Noir.
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Paradoxe Premier Cru Brut 2013 750ML ($79.95) Was $66, Now $61.90 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“Gimonnet’s 2013 Brut Paradoxe really stands out in this range for its breadth and texture, but that is exactly what makes Pinot Noir in the Marne Valley so distinctive. Rich, ample and creamy, the Paradoxe exudes class from the very first taste. Sadly, this is the last vintage of the Paradoxe, as Didier Gimonnet ripped out the Pinot in favor of Chardonnay. Dosage is 5 grams per liter.”

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Crystalline beauty in a bottle.
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Fleuron Premier Cru Brut 2014 750ML ($79.95), Was $69, Now $61.90 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points
“To be released this year, Gimonnet’s 2014 Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Fleuron derives from lieux-dits in Cramant and Chouilly that produce more reserved wines, and there are no vins clairs from Oger in the blend. It’s showing brilliantly, unwinding in the glass with aromas of crisp green orchard fruit, lemon oil, freshly baked sourdough and pastry cream, followed by a medium to full-bodied, layered and textural but tensile palate, built around an incisive spine of acidity and concluding with a long, mineral finish.”

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Oger is always such a distinctive expression of Chard that he bottles it separately. We win.
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Oger Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut NV 750ML ($69.95) Was $59, Now $55 pre-arrival special, 24 bottles available
John Gilman 91 points
“The current release of the Oger Grand Cru bottling from the Gimmonet family is from the base year of 2016 and includes reserve wines in the blend from the previous three vintages. The vins clairs go through full malo, are aged in stainless steel and the wine was disgorged in January of 2019 with a finishing dosage of six grams per liter. It offers up a deep and complex nose of pear, apple, plenty of smokiness, a fine base of limestone minerality and a touch of brioche. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and nascently complex, with a good core, fine mineral drive, pinpoint bubbles and a long, well-balanced and still fairly youthful finish. This has broader shoulders and more mid-palate depth than the Cuis Premier Cru bottling above and really deserves a bit more bottle age to fully blossom. Good juice. 2022-2045.”

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In a decade, this is going to seem like one of the deals of the year.
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils Cuvee Special Club Brut Millesime 2014 750ML ($119.95) Was $95, Now $89 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“The 2014 Brut Spécial Club is a blend of fruit taken mostly from Cramant, with Chouilly and Cuis in supporting roles. The breadth and power of Cramant comes through loud and clear. Readers will find a potent, at times austere, Champagne that needs a bit of time in the cellar to soften. The Special Club does not offer the immediacy of the Chouilly or Cramant Special Clubs, but it has plenty of its own allure. Dried pear, spice, crushed flowers and chamomile are some of the aromas and flavors that linger on the imposing finish. Dosage is 4 grams per liter.”

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What else do we have to say about Hebrart? Top class Champagne.
Hebrart Cuvee Reserve Premier Cru Brut NV 750ML ($59.95) Was $45, Now $39 pre-arrival special, 36 bottles available
John Gilman 91 points
“The Marc Hébrart “Cuvée de Réserve” non-vintage Brut now in the market is from base year 2017, though this is only forty-five percent of the blend this year. It also includes fifteen percent 2016 juice, ten percent 2015 and fully thirty percent 2014. The blend this year works out to eighty-two percent pinot noir and eighteen percent chardonnay, with the vins clairs raised entirely in stainless steel, going through full malo and aging about twenty months on its fine lees prior to disgorgement in October of 2019, with a finishing dosage of eight grams per liter. The bouquet wafts from the glass in a vibrant blend of apple, a touch of almond, fresh-baked bread, a fine base of soil tones and gentle smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and nicely balanced, with a good core and mineral undertow, pinpoint bubbles and a long, zesty and complex finish. This is very tasty, with the significant percentage of reserve wines in the blend really adding complexity. 2020-2035.”
Importer note “45% 2017, 15% 2016, 10%2015, 30% 2014.”

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A rare demi-sec bottling. An incredible cheese wine.
A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle Premier Cru Demi-Sec NV 750ML ($59.95) Was $44.50, Now $39.90 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 90 points
“Margaine’s NV Le Demi-Sec is without question one of the finest wines in its style. For this cuvée, Margaine uses the same blend as Le Brut, but adds 30 grams per liter of dosage, which really amplifies the wine’s citrus confit, orchard fruit and floral qualities while adding textural depth. Refreshing, light on its feet and flat-out delicious, the Demi-Sec is terrific. Although it is hard to see drinking an entire bottle of this, I am surprised I never see Demi-Sec on tasting menus. This is such a beautiful and expressive Champagne. Dosage is 30 grams per liter.”
Importer note “88% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Noir. Assemblage Base 2016 48%, Reserve wines 52% (2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2006). Village/vyd 100% Villers-Marmery 1er Cru. Malo 1/3 Malo. Elevage Stainless steel. Sur latte 18 months.”

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Aubry Premier Cru Brut NV 1.5L ($119.95) Was $89, Now $85 pre-arrival special, 12 magnums available
Wine Spectator 91 points
“A creamy viscosity complements the texture of this harmonious version. An accessible crowd-pleaser, with lightly juicy acidity and delicate flavors of chopped almond, baked pear, saline and citrus. Disgorged January 2019. Drink now through 2022.”
Importer note “30% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 5% Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromenteau. Assemblage 50% 2016 base with 50% perpetual reserve back to 1998. Village/vyd Jouy-lès-Reims 1er Cru and Villedommange 1er Cru.”

This is the lowest listed price for a magnum in the USA today!

Aubry Cuvee ‘Aubry de Humbert’ Premier Cru Millesime 2014 750ML ($69.95) Was $59, Now $55 pre-arrival special, 36+ bottles available

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $67.99

The first time Coutier has made this new, top-line bottling, from their oldest Chardonnay vines.
RH Coutier Brut Nature Pierre Aux Larrons 2015 750ML ($149.95) $125 pre-arrival special, 12 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“A new wine in this range, the 2015 Brut Nature Pierre Aux Larrons Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru emerges from Coutier’s oldest Chardonnay in Ambonnay, planted in 1948. The Brut Nature emphasizes the power of Chardonnay. I imagine a touch of dosage might have softened the wine a bit, but no matter, the 2015 is simply stunning. There is a feeling of translucent energy and starkness that I find especially compelling. Chalk, white flowers, mint, white pepper and lemon peel linger. What a wine!”

This is the only listing in the USA today!


More Deep Discounts:

Riesling, Brunello and Burgundy
In Stock Now:

Weingut Kunstler Hochheimer Holle Riesling Grosses Gewachs 2016 750ML ($89.95) Was $75, Now $66 special, 9 bottles in stock now
Stuart Pigott 98 points
” All ripe yellow fruit, but without the slightest hint of exaggeration. Great concentration, combined with power and brilliance. Gigantic finish that doesn’t want to stop, but somehow it remains totally refined. From organically grown grapes. Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold.”
Terry Theise note “This Hochheim “GG” seems always to show best in cooler years, when its savory generosity isn’t overbearing. Like now! A first impression of cask is quickly overwhelmed by a seductive palate, a savory malty wine, maple and candy-cap mushrooms; mineral embedded in the sweetest doughiest swoon of charm and loveliness.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $76

La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012 750ML ($119.95) Was $99, Now $89 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012 750ML ($699.95) Was $564, Now $515 special (that’s only $85.83/bottle!)
La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012 1.5L ($259.95) Was $219, Now $199 special, 4 magnums in stock now
La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012 3L ($499.95) Was $428, Now $399, 3 double-magnums in stock now
Wine Spectator 97 points
“Perfumed, with wild herb aromas and a subtle mix of strawberry and cherry fruit. Vibrant and dense, with fine acidity driving the long finish. Though elegant, there is intensity and fine energy on the aftertaste. Best from 2022 through 2028.”

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La Gerla Brunello Riserva Gli Angeli 2012 750ML ($99.95) Was $79, $69 special, 34 bottles in stock now
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 95 points
“Bright medium ruby. Very clean and fresh aromas and flavors of red currant, cherry pit, flowers and blood orange jelly. Bright, juicy and very light on its feet, offering superb vinosity and clarity of flavor, this conveys an impression of real underlying density and a multilayered mouthfeel. A knockout wine of outstanding energy and class, finishing with polished tannins, uncanny sweetness and lovely subtle persistence, not to mention outstanding balance (it hides its 14.5% alcohol very well).”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “Here is a dense and meaty Tusan red that flaunts its immediate power, structure and intensity. The 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva gli Angeli is robust and deep thanks to a generous offering of dark fruit, spice and tar-like aromas. Fruit is carefully selected for this wine, and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel. Post fermentation, the wine goes into large Slavonian oak casks for four years. The finish is soft and supple with sweet berry flavors. This wine has made an impressive jump forward in this vintage.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru 2016 750ML ($319.95) Was $269, Now $249 special, 20 bottles in stock now
John Gilman 96 points
“The grand cru here was raised in fifty percent new oak this year and is one of the stars of the 2016 vintage. The stunning bouquet delivers a complex combination of red and black cherries, black plums, pigeon, dark soil tones, raw cocoa, woodsmoke and a touch of nutty oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and shows off beautiful depth at the core, with plenty of sappiness in reserve, a great soil signature, ripe, suave tannins and a very, very long, nascently complex and vibrant finish. I love this wine’s potential!”
Wine Spectator 96 points “A racy style, defined by bracing acidity propelling the black currant, blackberry, iron, earth and spice flavors to a lingering conclusion. Balanced and full of energy, this needs time to really settle in and reveal all its facets in a harmonious way.”
Decanter 94 points “Vinified with 85% whole cluster fruit, the 2016 Clos des Lambrays wafts from the glass with a brooding bouquet of blueberry, wild berries, smoked duck, spice and rosehip. The wine is sappy, with lovely depth and concentration, a fine but firm structural chassis, succulent acids, and a long, penetrating finish. An elegant rendition of this wine in its largest harvest since 1999.”

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Thibault Liger-Belair NSG Les Saint-Georges 2012 750ML ($179.95) Was $159, Now $149 special, 6 bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer 92-95 points
“(just 11 barrels produced from two hectares in 2012; vinified with 20% whole clusters and aging in 45% new oak): Good deep red. Slightly reduced aromas of black and red fruits, leather and minerals. Dense and thick, with terrific sappy intensity and complex soil character. At another level of complexity in the way it combines deeply pitched earth tones and high-pitched flowers and minerals. Wonderfully tactile wine with an explosive finish. This was the last to finish its malolactic fermentation, at the end of September. Liger-Belair is one of the leaders of an ongoing effort to have this vineyard elevated to grand cru status, and this wine could make his point.” ST

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $183.33
The average listed price is $191

Thibault Liger-Belair NSG Les Saint-Georges 2014 750ML ($179.95) Was $149, Now $138 special, 8 bottles in stock now
Burghound 91-94 points
“Strikingly floral-inflected aromas display lovely purity and freshness on the wild red berry, warm earth-scented nose. There is good richness and excellent intensity to the compact, concentrated and stony medium weight plus flavors that possess a firm core of ripe tannins on the wonderfully long, linear and powerful finish. Like the Clos de Vougeot this is indisputably built-to-age and is definitely going to need at least a decade’s worth of cellaring.”

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Staff Pick

Don’t Overlook Carl Loewen

I’ve mentioned that there is always a possibility of overlooking some old favorites, and it is a wonderful problem to have. With the arrival of the 2018 Carl Loewen Rieslings, It was a chance to remember why we love these wines so much. Aside from being one of the most undervalued wines on the shelf, the striking depth of flavors and intense flinty citrus aromas are simply mouthwatering.

The wines from Herrenberg were particularly lovely. These are likely the oldest vines in Germany, the plantings dating from 1896, and the deep roots are able to access hidden reserves of water, even in a drought year like 2018. It was a near crime to drink the Feinherb and Trocken this early knowing that the cellar will simply amplify these flavors, but honestly, there was no guilt considering the vibrancy of these wines now. The Laurentislay Spatlese is also particularly nice right now, but will shine with a five year rest. After this brief cellaring, the development could last for decades if you can keep your hands off them. Right now there is a tropical/citrus blend that dominates the nose, and showcases the way the fruit managed to shine through. Ritsch Auslese 18 will take some time, as will the Klosterlay, but if you’re looking for a knockout Ritsch immediately, look no further than the 17 GG. Again, one that should shine for decades in the cellar, but is amazing now. It is intensely packed together and takes some air to really open up (read: open a day early if you really want it to shine) but the components are altogether stunning. At $49 it might be the best bet on GG in the store.

We’re not the only ones to overlook Loewen. There was a good amount available when we made our purchase, and we’re glad to have it and highlight it today! Enjoy it now or later and be assured of the overwhelming quality and value!

In Stock Now:

Weingut Carl Loewen ‘1896’ Alte Reben Riesling 2018 ($99.95) $79 special
Grapelive 97+ points
“One of the wine world’s great unicorn wines, the Carl Loewen 1896 Feinherb is from the oldest Riesling vines in Germany and from a Grand Cru steep Mosel vineyard that transmit absolute purity of terroir. There may not be a more authentic and pleasing Riesling than this, especially in a vintage such as 2018… Since the first time I tried this wine, I knew it was something extraordinary and special. It is brave example of letting a wine make itself, with vigneron Christopher Loewen picking the grapes at perfect ripeness and allowing the fermentation to go as nature demands, which in this case comes in just above (outside) the legal limit to be called a Trocken… The glorious detail and layers in this 2018 Maximin Herrenberg 1896 are mesmerizing with flinty/smoking mineral leading the way on the nose before lime blossom, rose petal and white orchard (stone) fruits lift from the glass. The revelation is on the medium bodied palate with its incredible play between hedonistic pleasures and chiseled and steely precision with layers of vivid citrus, apricot, delicate tropical notes and white cherry fruits as well as spiced/crystalized ginger, wet shale, citron and saline, where all these flavors combine and flow with a graceful crispness and a (light residual sugar) lingering creaminess. This 1896 Feinerb, dressed up in its special label and dark red wax capsule, is a profound example of Riesling and one of the absolute best, one of the top wines I’ve tasted this year.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93+ points “(Carl Loewen Riesling 1896) AP: 17 19. The 2018er Riesling 1896 comes from century-old un-grafted vines (planted in 1896) in the Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg using traditional winemaking methods dating back to the 1900s and was fermented down to 12 g/l of residual sugar. This hay-colored wine offers a beautiful even if still rather reduced nose made of candied grapefruit, ginger, cinnamon, whipped cream, and fine herbs. It is nicely playful yet creamy on the intense palate and leaves a delicately smooth yet multi-layered feel of herbs, ripe fruits and minerals in the long and suave finish. A touch of zest and tartness rounds off the experience. This remarkable wine feels slightly more off dry than in other recent vintages. We would therefore opt to enjoy this after a couple of years of aging. 2026-2038.”
Terry Theise note “A wine of the ultimate interior, where weight doesn’t exist any more, yet where some core of life is stored, reposing, Waiting for you to arrive. It’s the culminated essence of slate-apple-balsam that is the outer skin of Mosel wine, but like Dönnhoff ’s Brücke can be, it’s also an ur-paradigm of Riesling ad of the souls who swim in its glowing green waters. The wine makes me think more than anything of Michi’s “Tradition” bottlings at Schloss Gobelsburg; it’s atmospheric and inferential; analog, soulful, more pealing, bell-like overtones, more poetic and secretive. Even in its animation it shows repose, and a complexity you don’t subdue, but simply and calmly allow it to guide you to the mystery. Here’s what Christopher had to say about this amazing wine: “Our Maximin Herrenberg, which was planted in 1896, is the oldest Riesling vineyard in the world of this dimension (more than 6,000 vines). Planted 1896. This is an incentive to us. I have asked myself over weeks: How did they produce wine in that period, in a time when Mosel Riesling was one of the most important wines of the world? In the Maximin Herrenberg we still have the single post training system with 10.000 vines per hectare, which was common in those days. No chemical fertilizer is used, everything, even the hardest work is done by hand. Never has the Maximin Herrenberg seen a machine! The adventure started in the harvest. The handpicked grapes were being transported to the trailer with the help of a hotte (a hotte is something like a rucksack, with which you can transport about 60kg of grapes in it; it was used before tractors made the vineyard work easier). The grapes, which were collected in a basket, were being stamped by foot, which had been common then. Through that procedure the maceration starts directly in the vineyard. On the evening of the picking day, the press process started. For the 1896 we used a very old wooden basket press, which we found in a small dusty corner at the lower section of the Mosel Valley and which we restored with a lot of love. Pressing was done by brawniness, the juice is guided without any sedimentation or pumping directly into the Fuder. The fermentation, of course, is spontaneous, without any added yeast. The result is a wine, which shows perfectly the strength of Riesling. It is a unique statement of consistency in a fast moving world. Due to the small scaled 1896 vineyard, we are just able to do one Fuder of the 1896 Riesling.” I mentioned an offside comment Michi Moosbrugger once made to me, that he wished he could make all his wines as he makes the “Tradition” bottlings, and I asked Christopher if he ever felt the same. Would he like to make all his wines as he makes this one? “Whether I would like to or not, it’s impossible both from a logistical standpoint, because it’s a lot of work in the middle of the harvest, and then also it wouldn’t work financially.” All of this is reasonable, and helps us to cherish the small volume of this vinous miracle even more. The ’18 starts with striking, euphoric aromas, beckoning and mysterious. How do we fathom the mysteries of time, of beauty, of the sighing, beating world, of all the things we sense but that disappear when we grope for them? On the far side of this unanswerable question, we get a glimpse of a breathing and seamless harmony, that exists to tell us there are moments when it all makes sense; it won’t answer your questions—but it all makes sense. That’s what this wine is like.”

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Carl Loewen Herrenberg 1896 Riesling Trocken 2018 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Grapelive 95 points
“The fantastic Old Vine Trocken from Christopher Loewen is a great way to celebrate Riesling’s birthday…especially well honored by this wine that comes from Germany’s oldest known Riesling vines dating back, to as the label and name suggest, 1896! This particular bottling is Loewen’s alternative top dry Riesling, labeled Alte Reben instead of Grosses Gewachs or a GG, it is a secondary special selection from this Grand Cru site…The dry 2018 Alte Reben Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg is a striking and crisply focused Riesling with classic slate soil influence showing intense minerallity along with brisk citrusy fruit with layers lime, tangerine, white peach, quince along with hints of kumquat, green apple, pineapple fruits as well as flinty wet shale (stoniness), chamomile, saline, verbena and white flowers. This is a wonderfully complex and thrilling Riesling that expands on the medium bodied palate with gripping extract and the sensation of textural grace making for a profound experience!  The Maximiner Herrenberg vineyard was originally planted in 1896, and is now farmed by Loewen using organic methods and carefully sorted….Using modern natural methods in the cellar, the grapes are all whole cluster pressed, and Loewen is careful not to move the pomace so to not get bettering phenolic flavors…Loewen’s ferments are “Sponti” completely natural without addition of enzymes or nutrition, with these single vineyard wines, Christopher notes, being individually block picked with the juice going directly into classic Fuder barrels (or oak casks around 1000L in size) which average 25 years old to age. While the GG’s are awesome, especially the sister Herrenberg version, and Loewen’s majestic Ritch, there are two wines that you don’t want to miss, the 1986 Feinherb, one of the most sought after cult wines in the Mosel and this Alte Reben (Old Vine) Maximiner Herrenberg Trocken, both from the VDP Grand Cru (Grosse Lage) vines, these are exotic beauties that deserve your attention and a space in your collection! Happy Birthday Riesling! Loewen is quickly becoming a name on Riesling lovers lips, he is an outstanding talent and his collection of 2018 wines are stunning.”

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Weingut Carl Loewen Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spatlese 2018 750ML ($37.95) $29 special
David Schildknecht-Vinous 93 points
“Grapefruit, lime and orange mingle with Persian melon and mango on the nose and the lusciously citric, brightly juicy yet subtly tropical palate. The feel is polished and, for all of the wine’s animating brightness, also subtly creamy. The finish offers a vibrant and engaging interaction of crystalline, stony and citrus fruit elements. Allowing this wine to ferment to 9% alcohol had a salutary effect on its balance, rendering sweetness discreet (even though there are 60 grams of residual sugar), but without sacrificing a sense of levity. For my taste and from my historical perspective, this is a perfectly balanced Mosel Spätlese. Yet Karl Josef Loewen related that “in early summer [2019], this is the wine that most disappointed me. At that point I wasn’t happy with the aromatics or the integration of sweetness.” Incidentally, the wine was picked very early in October and a full week ahead of the corresponding (also highly successful) dry “Alte Reben” bottling.”
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “The 2018er Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese was harvested at 91° Oechsle and was fermented down to fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (62 g/l). The wine develops a gorgeous even if ample nose made of grapefruit, passion fruit, pear, whipped cream, herbs and fine spices. It has the full creamy presence of an Auslese on the palate. Thankfully, the rich creamy and fruity flavors are nicely lifted up by a touch of zesty acidity. The finish is powerful, assertive and quite impressive. Apricot in the after-taste adds to the big and luscious side of this very nice sweet wine! 2028-2048.”
Terry Theise note “[+] Consistently and for many years one of the very GREAT wines in this offering, and among them, the least celebrated. Again, very old vines (at least 80, some over 100, all ungrafted) from an old terraced vineyard, because the wise citizens of Leiwen rejected the Flurbereinigung. Think Wehlener Sonnenuhr on steroids. (Or wait a minute; that’s Zeltinger Sonnenuhr. OK, think Zeltinger Sonnenuhr on steroids…) In essence this is weighty, extravagant fruit anchored to profound and almost chewy earthiness. The ’18 shows a little botrytis as all the clean grapes went into a dry “GG.” It’s a slim vintage, where even the deep flavors of dried apricots and butterscotch are more buoyant— if less profound—than usual, but it’s early days, the components are still waiting to knit, and the wine may well fill out. As it is, it’s wonderful!”

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Weingut Carl Loewen Thornicher Ritsch Riesling Auslese 2018 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
David Schildknecht-Vinous 94 points
“In striking contrast with its vintage 2017 counterpart, this Auslese issued from healthy grapes, even though the Loewens said that these were picked into two buckets per harvester, so as to allow for the possibility that a Beerenauslese might also result. Musky narcissus, sweetly perfumed honeysuckle, earthy passion fruit and ripe pear offer an alluring as well as site-typically intriguing aromatic display. The polished, subtly creamy palate evinces not just luscious fruitiness but also a remarkable sense of levity and wafting inner-mouth perfume. As Christopher Loewen observed, “This is not one of your opulent Auslesen, but instead a delicate, juicy, glass-clear one.” “This is my favorite wine of the vintage,” added Karl Josef. Liquid florality persists right along with the wine’s luscious fruitiness on a seductively sustained finish that is transparent to slate underpinnings and mouthwateringly salt-tinged, and does an incredible job of hiding 100 grams of residual sugar.”
Mosel Fine Wines 94 points “The 2018er Thörnicher Ritsch Riesling Auslese was made from almost fully clean fruit harvested at 95° Oechsle and was fermented down to fully sweet levels of residual sugar. The wine offers a rather discreet and herbal nose where the fruity elements (including pear, lemon, starfruit, passion fruit and a hint of coconut) only gradually emerge from the glass. The wine may still be on the sweet side on the palate, but it already shows beautifully alluring and multi-layered flavors of pear, lemon, melon, lemoncello and coconut, all wrapped into some apricot blossom in the finish. This is a ripe but complex sweet wine in the making. 2033-2058.”
Terry Theise note “[++] This though is one shining gorgeous piece, and what a piece! As glorious, green and salty as it has ever been. Zero botrytis, fruit to the max, like a confiture of aloe vera and verbena.”


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The pinnacle of Pinot Gris/Grigio?
Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio Friuli Isonzo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2018 750ML ($33.95) $29 special
James Suckling 96 points
“Beautiful rose-gold color with lots of ripe pear, golden apple, mango and pineapple on the nose. Hint of honey. It’s full-bodied and creamy on the palate with toasted almonds alongside tropical fruit. Smoky minerality, too. Drink or hold.”

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Like the “classic Riojas from yesteryear.”
Viñedos de Páganos El Puntido Gran Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2007 750ML ($69.95) $49 special
Case-6 Viñedos de Páganos El Puntido Gran Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2007 750ML ($399.95) $279 special (that’s only $46.50/bottle!)
Case-12 Viñedos de Páganos El Puntido Gran Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2007 750ML ($719.95) $529 special (that’s only $44.08/bottle!)
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 96 points
“[Reviewed June 2019] Putting my nose in the glass of the 2007 El Puntido Gran Reserva transported me to the classical Riojas from yesteryear. The wine has a fully developed nose with all the textbook descriptors of a good aged Rioja—forest floor, cigar ash, cold bonfire, truffle, cherries in liqueur, blonde tobacco, spices and iodine. But this is a classical Gran Reserva that has something that was not that traditional, and it comes from a single vineyard and matured in brand new French oak barrels for 28 months. But time in bottle has polished it (it was bottled in June 2010, almost nine years ago); the tannins are mostly resolved and it’s nicely textured. It has what I love about the best red wine—it’s salty rather than sweet, there is no room for sweetness here, and it’s sapid and tasty and has great balance and freshness. This is developing at a very slow pace and should continue doing so for a very long time. A great Gran Reserva in the making. Only 5,000 bottles were produced from 2007, a very cold vintage, when the grapes were harvested the last three days of October, and it snowed the first of November!”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “[Reviewed Sept 2019] A much smaller production that was aged longer (28 months) in new French oak, the 2007 El Puntido Gran Reserva comes from the same vineyard as the El Puntido but is a parcel selection. Blackcurrants, plums, smoked earth, incense, and violet notes all emerge from this elegant, silky, beautifully polished wine that’s full-bodied, has fine tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It has power, but this is more about finesse and elegance.”

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A perfect rosé for winter drinking.
Château Pradeaux Bandol Rosé, Provence, France 2019 750ML ($34.95) $28 special
Château Pradeaux Bandol Rosé, Provence, France 2019 1.5L ($89.95) $61.90 special
Grapelive 95 Points
“The beautifully balanced and dry 2019 Pradeaux Bandol Rosé (Cuvee Classic) is richly concentrated and has a serious palate impact showing layers of bright and tangy cherry, racy ruby grapefruit, blood orange and distilled strawberry fruits with loads of extract, delicate spices and a stylish rounded mouth feel, very impressive and definitely one of the vintage’s best examples of Bandol Rosé I’ve tried, along with the Clos Cibonne Côtes de Provence Rosé. Pradeaux’s winemaker Etienne Portalis has really raised the quality of Château Pradeaux, which has been a top estate in Bandol since 1752, to the next level in recent years and is one of region’s best talents, making profound wines throughout his lineup, especially his late release, extended aged Bandol Rouge, crafted using 95% old vine Mourvedre, as well as his expressive set of Rosé bottlings, including this classic all estate grown example. This year’s fabulous version opens up easily on the smoothly dense medium bodied palate and reveals an extra dimension of flavors and stays impeccably focused from its lightly floral, rosewater, crushed raspberry and earthy nose to the lingering tart, kirsch and saline finish, making it a regal and highly enjoyable wine…The Pradeaux pink wine sees a short maceration on the skins, to give this wine its pale and vivid hue, after whole cluster (direct press, non saignée) pressing the juice is then fermented at low temperatures, which the winery adds, to retain freshness, zesty fruit and its pretty bouquet. The Château Pradeaux Bandol Rosé is aged 100% in cement cuves, where it gets its leesy depth and the wine is normally bottled in late spring of the year following the harvest. I am a huge fan of the Pradeaux wines with their transparent form and traditional terroir driven character, with this wine always being a fantastic choice and represents a great value in this legendary region, rivaling some of much more expensive Bandol offerings, including the famous Domaine Tempier and Domaine Gros Nore to name of few. This Pradeaux Rosé is a blend of Cinsault (50%) and Mourvèdre (50%), and as the winery explains, its slight orange tint comes from the latter cépage and this effort is done without any Malo-lactic conversion to show off its vigorous and vibrant nature. This 2019 is one of the best and age worthy vintages I can remember, it should stay rewarding for many years, and it proves that Rosé can be and in some cases cellared, this is one to search out and enjoy with substantial cuisine and a hearty meal.”

Ben’s staff pick as one of the kings of Chianti.
Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany 2017 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Case-6 Fontodi Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany 2017 750ML ($399.95) $279 special (that’s only $46.50/bottle!)
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“The 2017 Chianti Classico Fontodi is a wine of extreme elegance that shows how much the house style has evolved here. A decade ago, in a warm year the Fontodi Chianti Classico would have been opulent, but these days proprietor Giovanni Manetti seeks finesse more than power, and that is exactly what comes through here. Ripe red Sangiovese fruit, rose petal, blood orange and spice infuse this racy, exotic Chianti Classico with so much character. The 2016 spent two years in oak, half in cask and half in neutral oak. I loved it.”
James Suckling 94 points “A rich, layered CC with intense cherry and flower character, as well as orange peel. Full-bodied with firm, velvety tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink or hold.”

One of the top picks of the 2015 Brunello vintage.
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 96 points
“Editor’s Choice. Rose petal, crushed mint, woodland berry and eucalyptus aromas slowly take shape on this delicious full bodied red. It’s linear and elegantly structured, featuring juicy Marasca cherry, cranberry, licorice and cocoa alongside firm velvety tannins. It closes on an orange-zest note. Drink 2023–2035.”
James Suckling 96 points “There’s freshness galore here i,n the form of orange zest and citrus peel. But this Brunello isn’t short on power either; red licorice, cardamom and dried hibiscus pepper the nose. To support the ripe fruit are layers of sinewy tannins and gliding acidity, making for an altogether sophisticated and edgy impression. Refined and elegant on the long finish. Drink from 2023.”
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 95 points “Bright vibrant red-ruby. Inviting aromas of red plum, mocha, redcurrant jam, tobacco, and gently smoky herbs. Bright, silky and suave, with mellow flavors of redcurrant, red plum, tobacco and mocha. Multilayered and extremely stylish wine, finishing with polished tannins, outstanding balance and subtle persistence. So well-balanced in fact, this gorgeous Brunello is almost deceptively easy to drink and can practically be accessed even now. Very well done.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Well-delineated black cherry and black currant flavors are matched to graphite, earth and wild herb accents in this powerful red. Balanced in a broad-shouldered way, this leaves a vibrant impression on the lingering finish. Best from 2023 through 2042. 2,700 cases made, 380 cases imported.”

It doesn’t get much more old-school than this cult-favorite Cote Rotie.
Domaine Chambeyron-Manin Côte Rotie Côte Brune, Rhône 2013 750ML ($119.95) Was $99 Now $89, 16 bottles in stock now
Importer notes
“At the southern end of Ampuis, Christianne Manin and her family own and operate Les Jardins de la Côte-Rôtie, a small market offering locally produced meats, cheeses, and produce. Luckily for us, they also cultivate a tiny parcel of vines in Côte-Rôtie. The .5 hectare parcel of vines is located directly above their home and cellar. Dedicated exclusively to the Serine clone of syrah, these 40-50 year old vines grow on iron rich schist laden soils of the Côte Brune. All of the vineyard work is done by hand, as the 50% slope must be very cautiously navigated. In the cellar, the grapes are vinified as whole cluster and via native yeasts in concrete tanks. Upon the completion of fermentation, the wine is pressed off using a traditional basket press and transferred via gravity into 500L barrels (up to one third new, depending upon the vintage). The wine then ages for 18 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Production is limited to approximately 165 cases per year.”

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