Weekend VinopolPick 3-12-21

In Today’s Newsletter:

Jump Start Special
Mt. Eden’s Iconic Chardonnay Style at Value Pricing

New 2019’s From Peter Lauer
Plus, New Extended-Elevage, Back-Vintage Sekt!

Top Champagne Picks: $60-$75

Trending Wines

Alain Graillot: Insiders’ Pick In Crozes-Hermitage

Collector’s Corner
The Pinnace of Rioja:
Sierra Cantabria’s Iconic ‘Magico’


Jump Start Special

Mt. Eden’s Iconic Chardonnay Style

at Value Pricing

The wines of Mount Eden Vineyards are legendary within the context and history of California. Winemakers and owners Jeffrey and Ellie Patterson continue to make some of the highest quality California wines in the iconic style that made these wines famous—a rarity in an age when even “classic” producers produce riper and riper bottlings every year.  

In Stock Now:

Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2017 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 93 points
“This comes mostly from the Wolff vineyard with some fruit from the Middle Ranch vineyard. The 2017 Edna Valley Chardonnay opens with wonderful aromas of honeycomb, orange blossoms, saline, crushed shell and loads of baked apple and quince with an earthy undercurrent. The palate is medium-bodied, satiny and intense, with seamless freshness on the finish, which lingers with honeyed notions.”

Arriving March 26th:

Mount Eden Vineyards Wolff Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2018 Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard from Edna Valley is pure, energetic and fresh this vintage. The nose is lovely, loaded with floral perfume and ripe citrus fruits. The palate is silky and expansive with a shimmering mineral character and a long, pure finish. It improved over the two to three days it was open and will benefit from a long decant. 4,256 cases produced.”

Love Mount Eden Vyds? We offer two vintages of their estate Cab, in stock now!

Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains 2015 750ML ($99.95) $79 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Decanter 95 points
“The rocky minerality of the region shows from first sniff through to the lengthy finish. The earthiness is beautifully offset by fleshy red and black fruit, with spice-infused cherry, bittersweet chocolate, espresso and vanilla notes. For all its youthful intensity, the palate is remarkably fresh and bright.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast!
The average price nationally is $89

“Readers, take note. This is world class Cabernet Sauvignon that in any other region would cost 2-3 times as much” –Antonio Galloni
Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains 2016 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 7 bottles in stock now
Antonio Galloni 98 points
“Mount Eden’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon represents the essence of what Cabernet Sauvignon is all about in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Deep, powerful and explosive, the 2016 simply has it all. A wine of tremendous depth and intensity. Readers, take note. This is world class Cabernet Sauvignon that in any other region would cost 2-3 times as much. Savory and expansive, with tons of mountain character and remarkable richness from low yields in 2016, the Cabernet Sauvignon is simply off the charts. It’s another utterly breathtaking wine from Mount Eden.”
Erin Brooks-Wine Advocate 97+ points “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is blended with 12% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The nose offers pure cassis finely layered with Chinese five spice, dried rose petals, graphite and pipe tobacco with a wild, game-like undercurrent. The palate is seamless, opening to an array of detailed fruits and spices, with a silt-like structure and expansive juicy uplift. It’s a wonderfully balanced Cabernet that offers immediate appeal plus everything it needs for a long life in the cellar. 1,582 cases produced.”


New 2019’s From Peter Lauer

Plus, New Extended-Elevage, Back-Vintage Sekt!

“For purists, there is nothing like the Saar. It is arguably one of the greatest, most unique wine-growing regions on earth. The core of greatness in the Saar is intensity without weight, grandiosity without size. Frank Schoonmaker put it best in his 1956 tome The Wines of Germany: “In these great and exceedingly rare wines of the Saar, there is a combination of qualities which I can perhaps best describe as indescribable – austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse, an incomparable bouquet, a clean, very attractive hardness tempered by a wealth of fruit and flavor which is overwhelming.”

“Yes, this is the Saar and Florian Lauer is currently one of the greatest winemakers in this sacred place.

“Florian’s general style is exactly the opposite of his famous Saar neighbors Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. At Lauer, the focus is on dry-tasting Rieslings as opposed to the residual sugar wines of the latter two. Employing natural-yeast fermentations, Lauer’s wines find their own balance. They tend to be more textural, deeper and more masculine. They have a preternatural sense of balance, an energy that is singular. Yet the hallmarks of the Saar are there: purity, precision, rigor, mineral.

“Florian’s playground is the breathtaking hillside of the Kupp… Though the many vineyards of this mountain were unified (obliterated?) under the single name “Kupp” with the 1971 German wine law, it has been Florian’s life’s work to keep the old vineyard names alive, to keep these voices alive. He has been fighting this fight since his first vintage in 2005 and only with an update to the law in 2014 can he now legally use the older vineyard names such as Unterstenberg, Stirn, Kern and Neuenberg.” –Vom Boden

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Only twelve bottles available
Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Fass 2 Riesling Trocken 2019 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Stephan Reinhardt-Wine Advocate 92 points
“The 2019 Ayler Riesling Fass 2 is very clear and delicate on the pure, floral and flinty nose with its bright, graceful and precise fruit aromas. Intense and juicy on the palate, this is a very aromatic, elegant and refined Riesling with a somewhat untamed but concentrated and sustainable character. The wine is still very young but will age very well over a decade. 12.5% alcohol. Tasted in April 2020.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Only eleven bottles available
Peter Lauer Ayler Riesling Fass 4 Feinherb 2019 750ML ($39.95) $29.90 special
Mosel Fine Wines 91 points
“The 2019er Ayler Riesling Fass 4 comes from the Scheidterberg and Sonnenberg side hills, and was fermented down to fully off-dry levels of residual sugar (34 g/l). It offers a superb nose made of beautifully floral elements (typical of the Scheidterberg), white peach, lemon, grapefruit, chalky minerals, elderflower, and smoke. The wine is gorgeously racy and playful on the palate, and leaves a stunningly intense and pure feel of orchard fruits, minerals, and flowers in the still delicately tart finish. This superb effort only needs a couple of years to smoothen its edges. 2024-2034.”
John Gilman 91 points “The 2019 Ayl Riesling ‘Faß 4’ from Florian Lauer comes in at 9.5 percent alcohol this year and carries 34.2 grams per liter of residual sugar, to buffer its 9.3 grams per liter of acidity. The wine delivers a superb aromatic constellation in 2019, offering up scents of gooseberry, lime peel, wild yeasts, a salty base of slate minerality, wild yeasts and a topnote of lemongrass. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, complex and perfectly balanced, with a fine girdle of acidity, excellent focus and grip and a long, vibrant and classy finish. This is simply an outstanding ‘entry level’ bottling from Florian in 2019, and perhaps the most seamless use of the screwcap I have tasted from the vintage, as the finish’s texture here is excellent! 2020-2045.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Only three bottles available
Peter Lauer ‘Feils’ Riesling Fass 13 Grosse Lage 2019 750ML ($79.95) $69 special
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 97 points
“Very seductive, stone-fruit nose with floral overtones, then a very concentrated but perfectly proportioned palate that has so much finesse through the very long, silky finish that sparkles with minerals. Drink or hold.”

Only seven bottles available
Peter Lauer ‘Kern’ Fass 9 Riesling 2019 750ML ($69.95) $51.90 special
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 97 points
“Enormous herbal complexity that sucks you into this maelstrom of minerals. Incredibly concentrated, but so bright and elegant, this is a great masterpiece of balance, everything plaiting together so beautifully through the super long finish. Tremendous aging potential. Drink or hold.”
John Gilman 94 points “As I mentioned last year in my note on the 2018, the lieu à dit of Kern is a top to bottom slice of the Kupp vineyard that sits on the western side of the hillside, with a southwesterly exposition. It is planted with seventy-four year-old vines. The 2019 Kern also comes in at 9.5 percent alcohol, sports 9.5 grams per liter of acidity and 39.2 grams per liter of residual sugar. The wine in 2019 shows off beautiful depth and complexity in its nose of lemon, pink grapefruit, wild yeasts, a very complex base of slate, citrus peel, lemongrass and a topnote of fleur de sel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and racy, with a great core of fruit, a lovely buffer of residual sweetness, excellent focus and grip and a long, complex and seamlessly balanced finish. This too has electric acidity perfectly complemented by its level of residual sweetness. It is a touch more broad-shouldered than the Stirn (due to its generous serving of afternoon sunshine), perhaps a touch sweeter, but every bit as refined and light on its feet. Fine, fine juice. 2020-2060+.”
Importer note “‘Kern’ is named after the 19th century industrialist that cleared this more-western part of the Kupp; it is a small parcel that spans the entire top-to-bottom reach of the Kupp. Thus, for me, the wine always has something of the lift and rigor of ‘Stirn’ and something of the depth of wines like ‘Neuenberg’ and ‘Unterstenberg.’ The vines are old here, well over 70-years-old, so the wine has some stuffing. It has about 39 grams of residual sugar so is def. in that off-dry style, yet, with Lauer, it’s always about the balance. I like Gilman’s take: ‘This too has electric acidity perfectly complemented by its level of residual sweetness. It is a touch more broad-shouldered than the Stirn (due to its generous serving of afternoon sunshine), perhaps a touch sweeter, but every bit as refined and light on its feet. Fine, fine juice.'”

Only three bottles available
Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Fass 18 Grosses Gewachs 2019 750ML ($79.95) $69 special
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 95 points
“Peach and creamy, succulent and dreamy, this is a very beautiful Saar wine that wants you to drop everything and sink into its richness and subtlety. Spot-on harmony! Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2019er Kupp Fass 18 GG, as it is referred to on the consumer label, comes from the central part of the original Kupp hill. It offers a beautiful albeit backward nose made of spices, herbs, smoke, and minerals, with a touch of cardamom floating around. The wine is impactful yet precise on the palate and leaves a slightly intense but beautifully defined feel of ripe fruits, spices, and herbs in the finish. The after-taste is juicy, dry, and very persistent. This is a gorgeous expression of dry Saar Riesling in the making! 2024-2031”

Only nine bottles available
Peter Lauer ‘Neuenberg’ Fass 17 Riesling 2019 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Mosel Fine Wines 93+ points
“The 2019er Ayler Kupp Neuenberg Riesling Fass 17 comes from this prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, central part of the original Kupp hill, and was fermented down to just off-dry levels of residual sugar (11 g/l). It offers a superb nose made of grapefruit zest, minerals, white peach, floral elements, pear, melon, and smoke. The wine is gorgeously playful and yet hugely intense on the palate, and leaves a superbly focused and persistent feel of herbs, fine minerals, lemony fruits, and elderflower in the long and engaging finish. A touch of sweetness still needs to melt away in the overall rather tart aftertaste. This gorgeous off-dry wine is a huge success in the making, and has even quite some upside potential if it develops even more finesse with aging. 2024-2034.”

Only twelve bottles available
Peter Lauer Riesling 270 Degrees E-S-W 2019 750ML ($59.95) $49 special

Only six bottles available
Peter Lauer ‘Stirn’ Fass 15 Riesling 2019 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 96 points
“Stunningly pungent, floral nose that has a dangerous amount of energy, then a breathtaking interplay of super-concentrated, fresh white peach, lemon, lime and mineral with the merest hint of sweetness, functioning like the spices in a great dish. Super long, mouthwatering finish. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 94 points “The 2019er Riesling Stirn Fass 15 comes from the prime south-west-facing, upper-front part of the original Ayler Kupp hill, and was fermented down to almost fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (38 g/l). This bright colored wine offers a stunning nose made of white peach, floral elements, smoke, freshly cut apple, fine herbs, white flowers, and a subtle touch of smoke. It proves gorgeously playful on the grapefruit and peach infused palate, and leaves a superb feel of orchard fruits sorbet, minerals, herbal elements, and lemony whipped cream in the vibrant and superbly complex finish. This is a remarkable piece of Saar Riesling in the making! 2024-2044.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Only ten bottles available
Peter Lauer ‘Unterstenberg’ Fass 12 Riesling2019 750ML ($59.95) $45 special
Stuart Pigott-Jamessuckling 96 points
“Nature is strong! Perfectly ripe mirabelle nose with so many delicate, herbal overtones that you could study it for hours. So concentrated, but also so creamy and delicate, this is a masterpiece of harmony and originality. Very long finish with so many herb and spicy notes. Drink or hold.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 2019er Ayler Kupp Unterstenberg Riesling Fass 12 comes from this prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, front part of the original Kupp hill, and was fermented down to just above legally dry levels of residual sugar (9 g/l). If offers a gorgeous nose made of ginger, elderflower, grapefruit, pear, blue berried fruits, gooseberry, herbs, and minerals. The wine develops quite some Schmelz and tartness on the softly creamy palate, and leaves a powerful and persistent feel of wet stone, laurel, herbs, and spices in the long and assertive finish. The aftertaste is gorgeously lifted up by some bitter-lemon elements. This superb and delicately off-dry tasting wine is hugely promising but will need a few years to integrate its tartness and develop its finesse. 2022-2031”

And Now… Library Release, Extended Elevage Sekt:

Only three bottles available
Peter Lauer Saar Reserve Riesling Sekt Brut 1984 750ML ($119.95) $99 special

Disgorged December 2020
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “This Sekt comes from the batch disgorged in June 2017 (the information is provided on the label). It offers a stunning feel of pear, almond paste, lovage and fine spices. It proves hugely satisfying and focused on the palate, with a great sense of aristocratic austerity as more almond, quince jelly and notes of green tea are wrapped into some gorgeously zesty elements. The finish is racy, tart, refined and, above all, stunningly long and focused. Simply put, this is one of the most exciting Sekt we have ever tasted from the Saar and lovers of Extra-Brut styled Sekt should plunge upon this beauty! While enjoyable now, it will improve in the bottle for many years to come. Now-2024+.

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Only three bottles available
Peter Lauer Saar Reserve Riesling Sekt Brut 1987 750ML ($119.95) $99 special

Disgorged December 2020

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Only three bottles available
Peter Lauer Saar Reserve Riesling Sekt Brut 1991 750ML ($119.95) $99 special

Disgorged August 2020
David Schildknecht-Vinous 94 points “While most Lauer sparkling bottlings routinely disappeared down the throats of diners at the family’s restaurant, along the way a small backlog of unsold Sekt accumulated in their cellar. When Florian came upon it, his father apologetically suggested the contents be sent away for distillation, but upon disgorgement, an extraordinary evolution was revealed. A bottle of 1991 newly disgorged in September 2015 is at once creamy and refreshing, with hauntingly mossy, toasty, nutty, faintly sweaty and musky, bittersweet floral scents (narcissus and gentian) allied to still-fresh appley fruit. Effects of yeast autolysis lend a buckwheat-like twang and toasted hazelnut smokiness, reinforced by subtle bitterness of fruit pip and quinine, while maritime salinity and alkalinity lend intriguing, salivary-gland-tugging depth. The nose alone would be well worth this wine’s substantial price. I can only guess at post-disgorgement aging potential, but Florian Lauer assures me that stocks of undisgorged bottles have not yet run out.”
Mosel Fine Wines 93 points “The 1991er Riesling Sekt Réserve with Lot Nr. 91 – 1/18 was made from fruit harvested in Ayl, including approx. 30% in the original Ayler Kupp. This bottle comes from a batch disgorged in April 2018 (the disgorgement date is provided on the label) with a dosage of 6-7 g/l. It gradually reveals layers upon layers of delicately waxy mirabelle, yellow peach and grapefruit zest before coating them with green herbs, tea, bergamot and laurel. The mousse on the palate is still on the active side but supports already the gorgeously backward flavors of tea, fern, ripe pear and slate. The finish is all about herbal airiness. Lovers of backward sparkling wines will love this. What a stunning bottling! Now-2022.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!

Only six bottles available
Peter Lauer Saar Reserve Riesling Sekt Brut 1992 750ML ($79.95) $69 special

Disgorged November 2020
Mosel Fine Wines 92 points “This Sekt comes from the batch disgorged in June 2017 (the information is provided on the label). It delivers a remarkably pure nose of mirabelle wrapped into some black tea, peat, fine spices and quite some smoke. The Sekt proves remarkably focused and deliciously tart in the finish, where more smoke, a salty element and almond woe for attention. While enjoyable now, this will undoubtedly benefit from a year or two of bottle aging. 2018-2022.”

This is the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!
Top Champagne Picks: $60-$80

Vinous and complex, from the master of Meunier.
Christophe Mignon Brut Pur Meunier 2015 750ML ($89.95) $75 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“The 2015 Brut Nature Blanc de Noirs ADN de Meunier is rich and expansive on the palate, with striking depth as well as resonance. Ripe orchard fruit, spice, chamomile and lemon confit develop with a bit of time in the glass. The 2015 is radiant, but not at all heavy. Christophe Mignon coaxes more than enough intensity from these old vines in Festigny and Le Breuil to handle the Brut Nature (zero dosage) style. This is a fabulous showing. Disgorged: January 23, 2020.”
Peter Liem “This pure meunier comes from a single parcel in the village of Le Breuil called Les Varennes, and it spent three years on its lees before its disgorgement in August of 2017. It’s broad and texturally rich, reflecting the warmth of this south-facing site, yet it possesses a remarkable energy and vitality as well, feeling deeply savory and expressive of conscientious viticulture. On the finish it’s long and elegantly composed, with persistent and subtly complex flavors.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Zero-zero bubbles from one of the star growers of the Aube? Yes, please.
Marie Courtin Concordance Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut 2015 750ML ($119.95) $75 special
Antonio Galloni 93 points
“The 2015 Extra Brut Concordance Sans Soufre (100% Pinot Noir) is bright, precise and absolutely gorgeous. Dominique Moreau seems to have really dialed in her approach over the last few years. I can’t remember tasting a Concordance with this much translucent energy. Pinot Noir in the Aube has rarely been this weightless and nuanced. The purity of the flavors is just striking. No dosage.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Classic, yeasty, and rich, with excellent minerality.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV 750ML ($99.95) $66 special
William Kelley – Wine Advocate 92 points
“Based on the 2012 vintage, the latest rendition of Heidsieck’s NV Blanc de Blancs incorporates some 20% reserve wines, derived from younger vintages to emphasize what Cyril Brun described as the “youthful” side of Chardonnay, in contrast to the mature expression of that cépage offered by the house’s Blanc de Millénaires. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of citrus oil, white flowers, green apple and walnut oil, complemented by some of the empyreumatic nuances so typical of the base vintage, it’s a medium to full-bodied, elegantly textural and incisive wine that’s lively and inviting. It was disgorged last year with nine grams per liter dosage.”
Decanter 92 points “One of the pioneers of the blanc de blancs style, Charles Heidsieck only relaunched its 100% Chardonnay NV Champagne in 2018. Round but incisive and fresh, this has lovely balance between its creamy, woody mouthfeel and its fresh, saline acidity. A lovely food wine.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Gimonnet’s signature cuvee, this is quintessential Cotes de Blancs Champagne.
Pierre Gimonnet Cuvee Fleuron Brut 2014 750ML ($79.95) $61.90 special
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.”

Benoit Dehu Champagne Initiation Brut NV (2016) 750ML ($89.95) $75 special
Antonio Galloni 94 points
“Benoit Déhu’s NV [2016] Initiation is a blend of 78% Pinot Noir and 22% Meunier. Ample and resonant in feel, the 2016 retains a gorgeous sense of transparency as well. Floral and spice inflections build as the 2016 shows off its multi-faceted, exotic personality. The non-dosage style works perfectly here. Initiation is one of the most singular Champagnes I tasted all year. Don’t miss it. No dosage.”
Importer note “Cuvée Initiation is the newest addition to the Déhu lineup. Made from his signature variety Pinot Meunier and 25% Pinot Noir, which Benoît planted using massale selection of Pommard clone from Burgundy. Oak vinification and ageing, unfined and unfiltered, low dosage. The wines is zippy and round with a persistent finish.  Sourced from a small parcel at the bottom of the hill which Benoît planted using massale selection of Pommard clone from Burgundy.

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Aÿ is best known for Pinot, but this Blanc de Blancs shows an exhilarating combination of power and grace.
R. Pouillon et Fils Les Terres Froides BdB NV 750ML ($79.95) $66 special
Importer note
“The name of this cuvée is short for “les Valnons Froid Cul”—a famous and seemingly cold hill in Aÿ. This wine embodies a very unique and rare experience: tasting true blanc de blancs from one of the best situated slopes in Aÿ, a grand cru famous for rich, articulate pinot noir. This wine delivers clear mineral verve with distinctive richness and intense texture.”
Importer note “Pouillon’s Blanc de Blancs has always come from the Terres Froides parcel in the village of Tauxièrres-Mutry in Montagne de Reims, and along with Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in the Vallée, these are the only two villages with a 99% rating, just missing 1 point for Grand Cru status. Fabrice has a half a hectare in this parcel which is a lieu dit of Les Fourches, south-west of the village, closer to Tours-sur-Marne. It has a north exposition and a cool to cold microclimate with risk of spring frost. The soil here is more chalk than clay which can be found closer to the village, and the cool microclimate is perfect for Chardonnay.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

The top wine of a value master, this massively over-delivers.
Jose Michel Special Club 2013 750ML ($79.95) $69 special
Importer note
“The Club de Viticulteurs is a group of independent Champagne producers who have come together in order to promote the high quality of their work. The José Michel Special Club was chosen by this group as an ambassador of quality and given the right to use the Special Club label and antique bottle. The Special Club is a blend of 40% Pinot Meunier and 60% Chardonnay. The vines are all at least 35+ years old. The champagne is disgorged according to demand and currently has six years on the lees “sur lattes” with dosage carrying just 6.5 grams.”

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From superstar Marguet’s backyard, this is stunningly deep and complex.
Marguet Pere & Fils Ambonnay Grand Cru Extra Brut 2015 750ML ($89.95) $75 special
Importer note
“Demeter certified. 53% Pinot Noir & 47% Chardonnay. Part of Benoît’s Cru Selections series that are meant to show the overall characteristics of individual villages as opposed to single vineyards. The Crus Selections are always vintage dated cuvées and the first vintage produced of this series was in 2010.  The Ambonnay bottling comes exclusively from all vineyards in the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay. This Ambonnay wines are the only Cru Selection bottlings in the series that had previously been produced at Marguet, prior to Benoît creating the Cru Selection series, the estate produced an all Ambonnay vintage bottling under the name “Amboniacus”.


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Big, rich, and powerful—this is excellent.
Left Coast Cellars Right Bank Pinot Noir 2015 750ML ($39.95) $29 special
Josh Raynolds 92 points
“Limpid ruby-red. Sexy, oak-tinged cherry and cassis aromas are complemented by building floral, spice and mineral nuances. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering concentrated dark berry and rose pastille flavors that deepen and turn sweeter with air. Fine-grained tannins lend shape to the finish, which hangs on with strong, floral-tinged persistence.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

A unique take on Syrah from one of Oregon’s top emerging wineries.
Hundred Suns Super Moon – Vidon Vineyard Syrah, Willamette Valley 2019 750ML ($49.95) $29 special
Winery note
“The Super Moon is a rare and beautiful lunar event that occurs when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit, making the moon seem brighter and more close than usual. It felt an appropriate name for a wine that could only have come to being in this particular vintage. Our Super Moon Syrah was grown on a warm site for the Willamette Valley during a classic, cool Oregon vintage. It was fermented 100% whole cluster in a sealed tank. On the 12th day we opened the tank and foot-stomped the clusters one time before pressing. The resulting wine is initially shy with savory tones of black pepper and beef bouillon, but after time the wine opens to offer juicy pomegranate & cranberry with a light, refreshing palate surprising for Syrah.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

This ‘almost a blanc de noirs’ is the house’s calling card
Drappier Carte d’Or Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($49.95) $36 special
Case-6 Drappier Carte d’Or Brut, Champagne NV 750ML ($199.95) $199 special (that’s only $33.17/bottle!)
Wine Spectator 92 points
“[Reviewed Nov 2017] This bright and zesty Champagne is lightly juicy and appealing, offering flavors of Honeycrisp apple, ripe white cherry, biscuit and pickled ginger. Balanced and lacy in texture, with a lingering, spiced finish. Drink now through 2022. 2,200 cases imported.”
Decanter 91 points “[Reviewed Oct 2019] Described by Drappier as ‘almost a blanc de noirs’, this Pinot Noir-dominant wine sourced from the Côte des Bar is the house’s calling card. 5% of the cuvée is matured in barrels for a year for added complexity and texture, and it’s bottled unfiltered with a fairly low dosage of 7g/l. There are some melon and apple scents on the nose along with a splash of red fruits, while the palate is intense, with notes of apple, quince and grape wrapped in a red-fruit veil. It’s full-bodied and long, with a lovely texture from the red wine tannins and oak-matured portion.”
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 90 points “[Reviewed Apr 2020] Disgorged in June 2019, the latest rendition of Drappier’s NV Brut Carte d’Or is showing well, bursting with pretty aromas of peach, honeyed orchard fruit and white flowers. On the palate, it’s medium to full-bodied, chalky and incisive, with fine depth and tension and a penetrating finish.”
[Disgorgement may vary from reviews]

A top bottling from “Mr. Chablis,” Michel Laroche.
Le Domaine d’Henri Fourchaume Héritage Première Trie, Chablis Premier Cru 2015 750ML ($69.95) $54.50 special
Winery Note
“Our Cuvée Héritage is dedicated to the memory of Henri. Hand harvested and hand selected, this is a “première trie”, or selection, of the finest grapes from our oldest parcel of vines, planted in 1937. Vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks (70%) and 228-litre oak barrels (30%), this is an elegant, precise yet racy wine, that expresses the tension and refreshing minerality associated with the great Chablis terroirs. For Henri, this was the purest expression of the Chardonnay grape. A grand vin that will start to reveal its full potential between five and twenty years. The Cuvée Héritage encapsulates our savoir-faire. By selecting only the very best grapes, the production is limited to only a few thousand bottles per year an the volume will vary each year, depending on the quality of the vintage. Serve between 14-15° and decant for 15 minutes before serving. This is a bottle for special occasions. Appreciate on its own with fellow wine lovers, or enjoy with fish, lobster, guinea fowl or even an aged Comté.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!

Does wine from the Rhone get more profound?
Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle, Rhône 2017 750ML ($219.95) $189 special
Wine Advocate 98 points
“The 2017 Hermitage La Chapelle comes from the firm’s vineyards on the western half of the Hermitage slope, primarily Le Méal, but with substantial contributions from Les Rocoules and Les Bessards. Classic notes of cassis, black olives, mocha and roasted meat are joined by hints of baking spices in a wine that’s full-bodied, deep, dense and rich, with a velvety texture and a lingering finish. It’s lower in alcohol than the 2018, less voluptuous and maybe just a step behind that monumental wine, but it’s still a serious collectible with three decades of evolution ahead of it.-JC”
James Suckling 98 points “The icon is in dangerously seductive form. Such pristine dark cherries, blackberries and dark plums, dark chocolate, finely crushed spices and plenty of crushed dark stones on offer. The palate is very intense, very slick and fine tannins deliver an almost playfully soft impression. The oak is super integrated. Like La Maison Bleue, this approachability is an aberration, as it has immense power, concentration and length with such regal and alluring swagger at the finish. But there is so much more to come. Try from 2024, better after 2030.”

Newly reviewed and a stellar deal in Cote Rotie!
Domaine Francois Merlin Cote Rotie, Rhone 2018 750ML ($79.95) Was $54.50, Now $49 Super Subscriber Special
Case-6 Domaine Francois Merlin Cote Rotie, Rhone 2018 750ML ($479.95) Was $299, Now $279 Super Subscriber Special (that’s only $46.50/bottle!)
Grapelive 93 points
“The Domaine Merlin Francois of Lauent and Francois Merlin is totally new to me. This beautifully made Cote-Rotie was an excellent discovery and was perfect for celebrating the occasion, which was my 84 year old mother getting her second dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine and a moment of great relief, taking a huge weight of stress and concern lifted, so a special bottle was indeed required. This one delivered a welcome and rewarding performance with deep layers of opulent dark fruits and an elegant textural mouth feel. Made in a polished and supple style the Domaine Merlin Francois Cote-Rotie is more Guigal like than say Jamet or Levet in style without the savory edgy thrill of the stemmy whole cluster versions. This is a not criticism, as the world is always a better place with an array of diversity and this wine is well crafted and pleasingly rich in depth with a full bodied palate of blackberry, blueberry, plum and dense fig fruit along with a kiss of smoky sweet cedary wood, anise, violette, mocha and lingering creme de cassis, making it a wine of hedonistic comforts rather than one of peaked excitement and great with meaty/gamey dishes. There is a subtle sense of mineral, spice and earth tucked into the background that adds complexity and reveals the purity of this Syrah and the granite slopes from where it comes from. This family winery is committed to putting the work in, in particular in the vineyard where these wines are really made, with Francois’ wife and younger son Julien also playing roles here. This property has been getting a lot more attention these days, as witnessed by their prestigious scores in Decanter Magazine in recent years, with this 2018, a classic vintage for Cote-Rotie, being a big stand out, and from my own experience with this bottle I can see why easily, this is a well-rounded wine that looks set to get even better with age with potential to impress for another decade or more. A little research has found that Francois Merlin, a self-taught winemaker, who has been joined full-time by his son Laurent in 2013, is a serious vigneron that studied under the legendary Rene Rostaing and has gained an admirable reputation as a grower producer in the Northern Rhone with a tidy collection of high quality parcels, some that he planted himself from ancient massele (syrah) selections, in Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and here in Cote-Rotie as well, to name a few. Merlin, based in St-Michel-sur-Rhône since 1989, a commune just south of Condrieu, uses mostly organic and sustainable methods to farm his challenging sites. [They] are set on the regions mostly decomposed granite soils with areas of gneiss, gravel and schist… In his small cellars, Francois uses, interestingly, Austrian Stockinger 500L demi-muids for the aging of some of his wines, in particular the whites, while employing some Burgundy small barriques as well, with barrels that range from toasty brand new to six year old casks in combination to achieve a studied balance in his Cote-Rotie, while still being seriously luxurious in the glass. For his Cote-Rotie 2018, which is 100% Syrah, Francois and Laurent used all de-stemmed and carefully sorted fruit that saw about 30 days of maceration and primary fermentation with daily punch downs and pumpovers after 10 days before being gently pressed to barrel for aging, which lasted over a year and a half before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. There’s a lot to like and admire here and I am ready to explore more of these Merlin wines, especially after enjoying this Cote-Rotie and its impeccable detailing and savvy pricing, with their Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage next on my wish list!”

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Alain Graillot:

Insiders’ Pick In Crozes-Hermitage

“Maxime Graillot (Alain’s son) manages this superb domaine, located on the broad plains of les Chassis. Unfortunately, Graillot estimates they lost 50% of their crop in 2019 because of hail damage. Thankfully, the domaine is looking at two very good years in 2017 and 2018. “In 2018, we had exactly the same year we had in ’17—the big difference was yield.” While yields in ’17 were 42-43 hectoliters per hectare, in 2018 they were only 34 hectoliters per hectare. “Twenty percent less—and everything has changed,” said Graillot. “If you have good yields, it can mitigate the sun’s effects.” He describes ’15 and ’18 as more sunny, while ’16 and ’17 are more terroir driven. The Alain Graillot reds are always made with 100% whole clusters, so when young, they often show herbal, tea-like and even ashy notes from the stems. Those same stems also impart a texture that I find compelling in these wines, particularly with a few years of age.” –Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate

In Stock Now:

Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, Rhone 2019 750ML ($49.95) $39 special

No review for the 2019. 2018 review provided for reference.
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points “Pale straw-gold. Fresh orange, yellow plum and melon aromas are sharpened by suggestions of dusty minerals and white pepper. Fleshy and broad on entry, then more taut in the mid-palate, offering energetic orchard and pit fruit flavors and an emerging suggestion of fennel. Nicely concentrated but energetic as well, finishing with solid, mineral punch and strong, floral-driven persistence.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $42

Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2018 750ML ($49.95) $39 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Inky ruby. Mineral- and spice-accented aromas of ripe dark berries and candied violet show outstanding clarity and lift. At once rich and energetic in the mouth, offering juicy blackberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that slowly turn sweeter on the back half. Shows outstanding clarity on the long, penetrating finish, which features well-judged tannins and lingering floral and spice notes.”
Wine Advocate 91-93 points “Maxime Graillot was confident that he will bottle a La Guiraude from 2018, but the selection hadn’t yet been made at the time of my visit. This barrel of 2018 Crozes Hermitage shows superb aromatics, with hints of black tea accenting cassis and blueberry fruit. Full-bodied, rich and velvety, it reveals some chocolaty notes yet remains remarkably fresh on the finish.”

Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude, Rhone 2017 750ML ($69.95) $59 special

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price is $70

Domaine Alain Graillot Saint-Joseph Rouge, Rhone 2018 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points
“Opaque violet color. Displays powerful aromas of spice-accented dark berry and cherry preserves and incense, with a smoky nuance that builds as the wine stretches out. Fleshy and broad in the mouth but surprisingly lithe as well, offering intense blackberry and boysenberry flavors and a hint of candied flowers. Finishes youthfully chewy and impressively long, with repeating florality and building tannins that add shape and firming grip.”
Wine Advocate 92-94 points “The stunning 2018 Saint Joseph boasts fabulous floral aromas, alongside notes of cassis and blueberries. It’s medium to full-bodied, silky and fine, without any suggestion of over-ripeness or jamminess. It should drink well on release and for at least a decade thereafter.”

(Graillot) Domaine des Lises Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2018 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 92 points
“Opaque ruby. Smoke- and spice-accented dark berries and a hint of licorice on the lively nose. Subtly sweet blackberry and cherry flavors show very good clarity and energy and pick up a suave floral quality with aeration. Displays fine definition and strong, spicy lift on the persistent, gently tannic finish, which leaves lingering cherry and exotic spice notes behind. 30% whole clusters.” 

Collector’s Corner

The Pinnace of Rioja:

Sierra Cantabria’s Iconic ‘Magico’

There are few truly singular wines in the world and we always jump at the opportunity to offer them. From DRC to the wine in question today (Sierra Cantabria’s “Magico” Rioja), the absolute pinnacle of the wine world thrills in a way that’s completely different from wines that are “merely” great.

Sierra Cantabria’s “Magico” Rioja is a prime example of such a wine—an absolutely stunning bottle of Rioja. Made from El Vardallo, a single 1.8ha vineyard of extremely old, head trained vines, this is a true field blend (as was the style at the beginning of the 20th century) that’s only produced in the very best years. As their importer puts it “vineyards this old simply do not exist in Rioja, and its qualities are myriad.” You feel the prismatic effects of the rare old varieties and the old vines with their deep roots—this is a wine of intense power, mesmerizing complexity and enthralling detail.

We fought for and secured a five bottle allocation of this incredible stuff (a huge quantity of this hyper-rare gem) which arrives this week, each bottle in its own wooden box. James Suckling’s 100 point score was icing on the cake, but this is a wine that any lover of the sublime should be after regardless of rating. So don’t sleep on this offer, because once these five bottles are gone, they’re gone.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Only 5 bottles available!
Sierra Cantabria ‘Magico’, Rioja DOCa 2016 750ML ($749.95) $545 special

VinopolNote “Individual Hinged Wooden Box Package”
James Suckling 100 points “A wine with incredible soul and purity, reflecting the land and history. Blackberries, black olives and hot stone and gun metal. Full and layered with incredibly polished and refined tannins. Old bark and mushrooms. It’s like holding an old and special book. Phenomenal. Drink or hold.”
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 96 points “Some years ago, they started a number of projects to produce some single-vineyard wines. For one old vineyard that was part of those experiments, in the early days, they selected the Tempranillo and produced it separately. Then in 2010, they started vinifying all the varieties together—red and white, except for the Garnacha. The first vintage to be sold is the 2016 Mágico, a wine that is sold en primeur. They also have vintages 2010 to 2015, which might be sold at a later time. This comes from a vineyard that was planted in the early years of the 20th century. This vineyard is in the village of San Vicente, in a part called El Bardallo, with very shallow soils at some 600 meters in altitude, the last zone to ripen the grapes. This has a profile that combines elegance and power, with the expressive nose of the 2016 vintage, quite elegant and nuanced. This has eight grape varieties, including red and white grapes, somewhat unusual, and the mix seems to provide very good complexity. It has the Eguren signature of new oak, and the Garnacha matured in a 500-liter oak barrel. 2,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in March 2019…”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next lowest listed price is $689.99


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