Weekend VinopolPick 3-5-21

In Today’s Newsletter:

2016 Brunello:
“A Classic Vintage of Impeccable Balance”
New Reviews and New Allocations of Top Wines

New Wines from Southern-Italian Star Cantine Lonardo

Just Arrived:
Dom Perignon’s 2008 Luminous

New Grapelive Reviews

The Next Cult Barolo?


Collector’s Corner
Mature and Rare Champagne from de Venoge


2016 Brunello:

“A Classic Vintage of Impeccable Balance”

New Reviews from Jeb Dunnuck

And New Allocations of Top Wines

“2016 is a classic vintage of impeccable balance. Spring brought cool temperatures with sparse and well-distributed rains that continued through May. Summer was evenly hot and dry without extreme spikes, and optimal diurnal temperatures, allowing for the grapes to achieve a balanced maturation. The first weeks of autumn were warm during the day and cool through the nights, with a significant rainfall in mid-September. Harvest occurred on either side of the rainstorm and healthy grapes with excellent concentration were able to be harvested on both ends. The wines overarchingly have freshness, with more apparent tension than the 2015 vintage. Overall, I tend to prefer the 2016 vintage for its vibrant personality, and for showcasing hallmark traits of the region and style. Though in certain cases, stylistic decisions in the Riserva category to either see more time in oak, oxygen management with the additional year, richer extractions, or all of the above have influenced my personal preference.” –Jeb Dunnuck March 2021

Newly Reviewed & Arriving ETA April from Casanova di Neri:

Only 18 bottles available
Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2016 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
“The 2016 Tenuta Nuova has layered aromatics of black raspberry, menthol, baking spice and cedar. The palate is intensified and has another gear, with mouth-filling cherry fruit, tobacco, and a balanced but powerful structure. Enjoy a couple of the 2016 Brunello while you wait for this one in the cellar for 3-5 years and drink 2025-2041.”

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino has compelling aromatics of cherry liqueur, sweet licorice, cedar, and forested earth. The palate is crystalline and full-bodied, with red plum skin and warming spice. There is a lot to love here, as this wine casts a large net for its versatility. Enjoy some now and lay some down, this is a great value. Drink 2021-2026.”

Arriving ETA June from Casanova di Neri:

Only twelve bottles available
Casanova di Neri Cerretalto, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 750ML ($399.95) $319 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 98+ points
“Of these new releases from this benchmark estate, the Casanova di Neri 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto is my favorite wine. This Riserva is larger than life with ripe fruit, raspberry, cherry, spice, cola, root beer, mesquite and cedar. The wine offers a flashy and generous quality of fruit that unfolds over time with a multifaceted and multi-layered presentation. One thing that stands out here is the acidity that is bracing and tart at first but then succumbs to an important supporting role, rendering lasting freshness and persistence to the finish. With time, you get a flash of cherry and crème de cassis that seals the deal.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 95 points “The 2015 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Cerretalto is remarkably fresh and balanced despite its large-scale persona. Minty herbs give way to raspberry and cherry with exotic spices and a hint of pine resin. It boasts depths of silky textures; yet it remains juicy and full of energy, displaying ripe red and black fruits, laced with salty minerals, as hints of cinnamon and baker’s chocolate form toward the close. Fine tannins come forward on the finish, tugging at the cheeks, yet all under an air of sweet spice and violet florals. As young as this is today, it’s hard to put the glass down, and I can only imagine the depths that will be revealed with five or more years of cellaring.”

Plus, Newly Secured Allocations:

Arriving ETA May:

Salvioni Cerbaiola Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni
“The Salvioni family and their wines embody the essence of what makes artisan Brunello so special. Totally hand made, from the vineyard to the cellar and into the bottle, these wines have much more in common with the great reds of Piedmont and Burgundy than they do with the vast majority of what comes out of Montalcino these days.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Arriving ETA July:

Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points
“The Fossacolle 2016 Brunello di Montalcino opens to a charming level of intensity and purity. This wine really jumped out at me thanks to the chiseled and sharp quality of fruit and the lingering acidity and power one receives on the finish. It undergoes both its primary and secondary fermentation in cement and is racked into French and Slavonian oak (of various sizes) for two years. Everything just works here, and the wine delivers great harmony between its fruit, spice, acidity and structure. Production is 17,000 bottles.”
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The 2016 Brunello has lifted aromas of pine, menthol, dried red plum, and cedar. The palate is pure and energetic with crisp red cherry, dried violets, amaro, and youthful, grippy tannins. I love its classic, angular, pure style. Fossacolle is located in Tavernelle where they farm their small, four-hectare estate. The 2016 was aged for two years in French and Slavonian oak. Drink 2022-2034.”

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

La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“The 2016 Brunello is lifted with dried raspberry, orange peel, thyme, and dusty earth. The palate is medium-bodied with fresh cherry fruit, Mediterranean herbs, and a saline mineral finish. The tannins are fine-grained with refreshing and balanced acidity. This red opened up and stayed fresh for days. Enjoy over the next 15 years, 2021-2036.”
James Suckling 95 points “A lovely, polished young Brunello with black cherries and floral, orange-peel and some mineral notes. It’s full-bodied and very fine-tannined with a long, focused finish. Give it two or three years to open. Better after 2022.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 94 points “La Poderina’s 2016 Brunello di Montalcino shows a lot of charm and grace, with a bouquet that is defined not so much by the ripeness of its fruit but by the many nuances hidden directly under the surface. The fruit shows lifted red tones with cherry and dried raspberry, but it also offers very precise minerality with crushed limestone and chalk that adds points of dustiness or dryness to the bouquet (and ultimately subtracts from the density of the mouthfeel). These lithe background tones shape what is fundamentally a very elegant, streamlined and pretty Brunello. I am very happy to recommend this new release (with 65,000 bottles to hit the market in March 2021) from La Poderina.”

Castello di Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 93 points
“The Camigliano 2016 Brunello di Montalcino offers a more robust bouquet compared to its peers, with its dark and saturated fruit. One thing Camigliano has going for it is that it always delivers the characteristics of its environment. In this case, the vines are located in a warm, sun-drenched corner of Tuscany, and the warm ripeness of the fruit is a testament of place. You also get aromas of scorched earth, grilled porcino mushroom and a touch of burnt rubber or summer asphalt. This is an ample 150,000-bottle production.”


New Wines from Southern-Star Cantine Lonardo

The wines that Sandro Lonardo makes are some of the best values in powerful, Italian red wine. Based in Taurasi, he works primarily with the local Aglianico grape to produce wines that combine power and intensity with site-specific nuance that rivals the best wines in Barolo and Tuscany.

To Italian insiders, this isn’t news. After all, Campania, the area around Naples, has been famous for its wines since the Greeks settled it. There are numerous references to the quality of the wines in Roman writings and if more of the wines were at the level of Cantine Lonardo, the region would be as famous as the “Killer B’s” from up north.

Sandro Lonardo is a schoolteacher who also makes wines, both from vineyards he farms and from grapes he buys from local farmers. Mostly he makes wines from the Aglianico grape, which is the “Barolo of the South” according to popular wisdom.  Unlike some producers, he resists the temptation to use lots of barrique or new wood and yet the wines aren’t rustic monsters. There is a freshness and approachability that surprises, given the reputation of the grape and the warm climate.

We’re bringing in new releases of his entry-level Aglianico, one of the best values in the genre, plus rare library stock for his two single vineyards Coste and Vigne d’Alto. Both are from the excellent 2011 vintage—a warm year that produced exceptionally powerful reds. They’ve started to hit their drinking windows now, but will comfortably age for another decade.

Arriving ETA May:

Cantine Lonardo Aglianico Rosso Irpinia 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Cantine Lonardo Aglianico Rosso Irpinia 2016 750ML ($319.95) $259 pre-arrival special (that’s only $21.58/bottle!)
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 92 points
“Deep ruby. Lively aromas of red fruits, minerals and herbs. Juicy and fruity in the mouth, showing hazelnutty nuances to the red fruit flavors. Finishes with good acid-fruit balance and nice tannins. A lovely wine that will age well, but provides irresistible drinking right now.”

Cantine Lonardo Taurasi Coste 2011 750ML ($89.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 94+ points
“Deep ruby. Floral nuances complicate the red and dark berry, ink, sweet spice and flinty aromas and flavors. Dense and seamless, showing a multilayered personality and remarkable complexity of flavor. Finishes very long and with repeating, lingering hints of ink and flint.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Cantine Lonardo Taurasi Vigne D’Alto 2011 750ML ($89.95) $69 pre-arrival special
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 94+ points
“Deep ruby with a purple tinge. Reticent nose at first, only hinting at dark cherry, sassafras and sandalwood. Then very concentrated and dense, displaying almost opulent, sweet nuances of oaky torrefaction to the coffee, cocoa and dark cherry flavors. This outstanding Taurasi finishes extremely long, rich and seamless. It’s virtually impossible to pick between Lonardo’s two crus in 2011, and both will have many admirers.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Lonardo also makes a white from a nearly extinct grape called Grecomusc, which is almost like a cross between Chenin Blanc in its texture and acidity and Muscat in terms of fruit and aromatics. 
Cantine Lonardo ‘Grecomusc’ Campania IGT 2017 750ML ($34.95) $28 pre-arrival special
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 90+ points
“Bright golden-yellow; this is much deeper in color than the 2016, perhaps a reflection of the hotter, drier 2017 vintage. Earthy nuances greet the nose and complement aromas of nectarine, jasmine and Asian pear. Then more Asian pear, yellow apple and ginger, complicated by a hint of grapefruit and repeating earth notes. Closes long and quite tactile, even youthfully chewy, with hints of chamomile and dried ginger. I find this 2017 to be made in a much riper style than usual, but it’s nowhere near being flat or over the top. Give it another year in bottle and it might develop further complexity; it seems to be in a slightly brooding stage right now.”

Looking for wine to take home tonight? We’ve got a few of Sandro’s wines in stock now:

Cantine Lonardo Taurasi DOCG 2013 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Eric Guido-Vinous 93 points
“This 2013 is a classic Taurasi, showing a mix of red and black fruits, offset by rosy florals, savory herbs, minerals, leather tones, and a hint of balsamic spice. On the palate, silky textures give way to spicy red fruits, energized by zesty acids with cool-toned sweet herbs and saturating minerality. The 2013 Contrade di Taurasi finishes long, with a twang of acid making the mouth water, as grippy tannins settle in and echoes of black berries linger on.”
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 93 points “Aromas of black cooking spice, dark-skinned berry and blue flower swirl around in the glass. On the palate, firm, fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity balance dried black cherry, clove and freshly ground pepper. Drink 2021–2030.”

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

Cantine Lonardo Taurasi Coste 2012 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiat 94 points
“Cellar Selection. Aromas of spiced plum, truffle, iris, menthol and leather follow through to the juicy, concentrated palate along with fleshy blackberry, clove and licorice. Firm, velvety tannins provide support. Give this a few more years to fully unwind and develop even more complexity. Drink 2022–2035.”
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 93 points “Inky purple-ruby. Blackberry nectar, violet, red rose, lavender and coriander on the complex nose. Then fresh, pure savory, flinty blueberry, dark plum, licorice and tar flavors. More refined and less powerful than some past Taurasi Coste vintages, but very refined and long. Great Taurasi.”
Winery Note “(translated) The grapes come from espalier plants of about 40 years, all grafted onto American cuttings. Presents clusters of medium size and spherical grains of very intense color, pulp rich in minerals and sugars (23-25%), thin peels with high concentration of anthocyanins and tannins. Wine with an intense ruby red color with reflections still young, consistent and not very transparent. The nose is rich and persistent with hints of ripe fruit, with hints of grass that tend to balsamic. Subtle tertiary aromas, with a slight spiciness and toasting. The taste is warm, with quite austere tannins, well balanced with a strong and enveloping taste.  It is definitely a wine with rich and fatty foods based on meat, game, and winter dishes typical of the mountain cuisine, it also goes well with aged cheeses.”

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

Cantine Lonardo Taurasi Vigne D’Alto 2012 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 95 points
“Perfumed and loaded with finesse, this single-vineyard wine opens with enticing scents of violet, ripe black-skinned fruit, new leather and baking spice. Made with 60- to 100-year-old plants, the smooth, delicious palate delivers succulent Marasca cherry, plum, licorice and nutmeg framed in velvety tannins, making it one of the more elegant expressions of Taurasi out there. A mineral note energizes the lingering finish. Drink through 2032.”
Ian D’Agata – Vinous 92 points “Good full ruby. Underbrush and musky red and dark fruit notes complicated by notes of hoisin sauce and sassafras. Enters fresh and juicy, then turns mountingly tannic. Finishes long and savory, with chewy tannins nicely supporting the ripe dark fruit flavors. Decant this at least an hour ahead and watch it develop in the glass.”
Winery Note “(translated) The grapes come from around 70-100 year old vines. Presents clusters of medium size and spherical grains of very intense color, pulp rich in minerals and sugars (23-25%), thin peels with high concentration of anthocyanins and tannins. Wine with an intense ruby red color with garnet reflections, consistent and not very transparent. The nose is rich and persistent with hints of ripe fruit, aromas of underbrush, balsamic and earthy. The taste is warm, with austere tannins, without excessive drying, fresh and lively wine. It is definitely a wine with rich and fatty foods based on meat, game, and winter dishes typical of the mountain cuisine, it also goes well with aged cheeses.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Just Arrived:

Dom Perignon’s 2008 Luminous

#5 Wine of the Year – Wine Spectator Top 100 in 2018
Dom Perignon Luminous Collection Brut Millesime, Champagne 2008 750ML ($279.95) $199 special
Antonio Galloni 98+ points
“The 2008 Dom Pérignon is fabulous, but quite remarkably, it was even more open when I tasted it a year ago. Bright, focused and crystalline in its precision, the 2008 is going to need a number of years before it is at its best. Lemon peel, white flowers, mint and white pepper give the 2008 its chiseled, bright profile. Several recent bottles have all been magnificent. What I admire most about the 2008 is the way it shows all the focus, translucence and energy that is such a signature of the year, and yet it is also remarkably deep and vertical. In other words, the 2008 is a Champagne that plays in three dimensions.”
John Gilman 98 points “The 2008 vintage of Dom Pérignon is an absolute classic in the making and this is destined to be one of the great recent years for this iconic cuvée. It is far more classically structured out of the blocks than the relatively generous 2009 version, offering up a deep, complex and very youthful bouquet of menthol, green apple, a touch of tangerine, a very complex base of minerality and notes of dried flowers in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with precise mousse, brisk acids and stunning length and grip on the primary and laser-like finish. This will demand some cellaring to start to really stir and should prove to be an extremely long-lived vintage of DP. Stellar juice.”
James Suckling 98 points “The best Dom since 2002. A vintage with very restrained, powerful style that has been released non-sequentially after the 2009. This has a lighter stamp of highly curated, autolytic, toasty aromas than many recent releases. Instead, this delivers super fresh and intense aromas of lemons, grapefruit and blood-orange peel. Incredible freshness here. The palate has a very smoothly delivered, berry-pastry thread with light, sweet spices, stone fruit and fine citrus fruit. This really delivers. Drink now or hold.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average price nationally is $264

Love Champagne? We have over 190 different options in stock. Shop the entire selection, including famous names like Bollinger, Delamotte, Taittinger and more, on our web store now.


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New Grapelive Reviews

In Stock Now:

Daterra Viticultores ‘Camino de la Frontera’ Tinto 2018 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special
Grapelive 94 points
“The unique and outstandingly expressive Camino de la Frontera, made from incredibly rare local varietals including Juan Garcia, Tinta Madrid and Rufete from a high elevation vineyard in Fermoselle is crazy delicious with deep layers of blueberry, pomegranate, açaí and earthy currant fruits, but with racy acidity, a nice umami crunchiness, spicy notes and mineral elements in a wonderfully soulful and balanced wine. To explain this exotic field blend red wine from Arribes del Duero, you’d have to imagine some amazingly different wines blended together, I am seeing elements of classic Northern Rhones, along with characteristics you find in the red wines of the Alto Adige, as well as something like the Frappato and Nero d’Avola blends in Southern Sicily in the Vittoria region! Laura Lorenzo is one of the most heroic and iconic winemakers in Spain these days and her Daterra Viticultores label is one of the most intriguing in the wine world….The vivid and floral (violet) toned Camino de la Frontera Tinto comes from an ancient parcel with vines that are well over a hundred years old at 650 meters above sea level…. The grapes, which are all organic, were hand-harvested then traditionally foot-trodden using about 50% whole-cluster and 50% de-stemmed in this year, with as per normal with Laura’s natural wines, was wild yeast fermented. Lorenzo, who believes in transparency and wines that deliver textural pleasure, used a combination of large French oak and a 1000L chestnut wood foudre to ferment in and then this Camino de la Frontera Tinto was raised in the same vessels for 11 months. As expected in wines like this there was no manipulation during the winemaking process here and Laura’s wines see only a small dose of SO2 with all of her wines being unfined and unfiltered to preserve purity as well as showcase the individual terroirs and every distinct nuance to be found in the finished wines. This is compelling stuff and perfectly delivers everything I love about these Daterra Viticultores wines, which are sultry, earthy seductive and celebrate a sense of wildness that captures the essence of this region and the Galician cool Atlantic climate and rugged charms. “

Ca’ del Baio ‘Asili’ Barbaresco DOCG 2016 750ML ($54.95) $37.80 special
Grapelive 95 points
“There’s so much to admire here in the deep ruby/garnet 2016 Asili Cru Barbersco by Ca’ del Baio, this stuff has raised the game here at this winery with beautiful sweet fruit density, polished tannins and classic Nebbiolo character, this a youthful stunner from this famous vineyard and region…. this Ca’ del Baio version is a thrilling example that should continue to get more impressive over the next 15 to 20 years, though absolutely delicious even at this very early stage….Ca’ del Baio [shows] all of the best flavors of this special terroir with a seeped rose petal bouquet and the vintage’s opulent fruit, highlighted by crushed raspberries, black cherry, damson plum and dense red currant that is accented by light game, earth, black licorice, a touch of lavender and wild mint, as well as faint cedar and lingering kirsch. This is fabulous Nebbiolo and is a savvy value and perfect for budget collectors or enthusiasts. The traditionally crafted Asili Barbaresco, 100% de-stemmed grapes was fermented with maceration on the skins for up to 30 days in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures to preserve aromatics and fresh detail. After being pressed to a combination of large oak casks and smaller French barrels the Ca’ del Baio Asili Barbaresco was aged 24 months before bottling. The Grasso’s are gentle and transparent in their winemaking, looking for purity and nuance, which leads them to try to employ only indigenous yeasts when possible and have low sulfur in their wines, along with their sustainable vineyard practices, (they) are looking to make as a natural expression as possible. The Ca’ del Baio’s parcel at Asili is from vines that were planted between 1957 and 1999 and are on a near perfect southwest facing slope on the the mentioned classic soils which include the blue marls and clay that allows for the supple and ripe fruit detail and refined tannins. As noted in my prior reviews, this is a winery on the rise, in 2016 Giulio received a great honor, he was named “Viticulturist of the Year” by the very prestigious Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide and these 2016 Barbarescos are next level offerings that should not be missed!”

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The Next Cult Barolo?

Ferdinando Principiano made one of the most remarkable sets of Barolos in 2016, cementing his rise as one of the hottest growers in the Piedmont. Powerful, energetic, and finely detailed, these are traditionally made wines with a firm sense of place—and deservedly high scores. 

Principiano has turned into such a star name because his wines evoke classic names like Canonica an Mascarello, with his organic farming and long, submerged-cap macerations, before aging in large format oak. These are stunning wines, but unfortunately quantities are exceptionally limited, so grab these while you see them.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Serralunga 2016 750ML ($69.95) $52.50 special
Case-6 Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Serralunga 2016 750ML ($349.95) $299 special (that’s only $49.83/bottle!)
Case-12 Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Serralunga 2016 750ML ($699.95) $569 special (that’s only $47.42/bottle!)
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 96 points
“Editor’s Choice. Rose petal, camphor, perfumed berry and forest floor are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this gorgeous, radiant red. It’s delicious and loaded with an earthy finesse, delivering succulent red cherry, ripe strawberry, licorice, game and almost salty mineral notes. Taut, refined tannins and fresh acidity keep it impeccably balanced. Drink through 2031.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $58.99

Ferdinando Principiano Barolo Ravera Monforte 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 special
Kerin O’Keefe-Wine Enthusiast 98 points
“Cellar Selection. Menthol, new leather, pressed rose and forest berry aromas shape the enticing nose on this knockout red. Thoroughly delicious, the captivating, focused palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, truffle and tobacco while a minty note lingers on the long finish. Firm, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity provide beautiful balance and ageworthy structure. Drink 2024–2041.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!



Top Barbera from one of Barolo’s modern masters.
Poderi Aldo Conterno Conca Tre Pile Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($37.95) $33 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-6 Poderi Aldo Conterno Conca Tre Pile Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont 2017 750ML ($219.95) $189 special (that’s only $31.50/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 93 points
“The 2017 Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile is piled high with dark fruit intensity, soft tannins and a pinch of fresh acidity that breaks apart the wine’s rich fruit flavors. The hot vintage has taken well to the Barbera grape, accentuating its volume, richness and generosity. The bouquet offers black fruit, dried plum, spice, truffle-infused earth and toasted hazelnut. Some 20,000 bottles were made.”

Bold, powerful, intense—and now at a lower price.
(Maurodos) Bodegas San Román, Toro 2013 750ML ($49.95) Was $39, Now $33, 20 bottles in stock now
Stephen Tanzer-Vinous 93 points
“(aged for two years in 75 percent French and 25 percent American oak barrels, half of them new) Inky purple. Heady cherry, dark berry, vanilla and violet pastille qualities on the oak-accented nose. At once rich and energetic; a firm spine of acidity provides lift to sweet cassis, blueberry and vanilla flavors. Closes with youthful tannic grip and impressive persistence, leaving dark berry and licorice candy notes behind.”
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2013 San Román was produced with fruit from older vineyards in Toro. In 2012 they started reducing the amount of the new oak in this wine and the change is quite noticeable. There is something leafy and floral showing elegance within the power that the place provides naturally. 2013 was quite different in Toro from Ribera del Duero, here the cooler years are a plus, as they balance the extra ripeness the place provides. In 2013 there was no rain during the harvest and the grapes were very healthy. There are some fine tannins and the profile of a more austere and transparent vintage, a mineral year. But it does have the smokey and slightly wild character of Toro. 87,000 bottles produced.”

This was by far the lowest listed price in the USA today
Now even lower!
The next best price is $60

One of the great, classic bottlings of Beaujolais, in an outstanding vintage.
Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Fleurie les Garants, Beaujolais 2018 750ML ($39.95) $31.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
William Kelley-Wine Advocate 93 points
“Chermette’s 2018 Fleurie Les Garants delivers a striking bouquet of raspberries, peonies, warm spices and candied peel, followed by a medium to full-bodied, satiny but incisive palate that remains lively and tensile, despite its abundant endowment of ripe, succulent fruit. Elegant and precise, this is one of the high points of the portfolio.”

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

One of the great values in wine from southern Spain. Warm-climate but loaded with nuance and detail.
Casa Castillo Vino de Finca, Jumilla 2017 750ML ($24.95) $18.80 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
Case-12 Casa Castillo Vino de Finca, Jumilla 2017 750ML ($299.95) $199 special (that’s only $16.58/bottle)
Luis Gutierrez 93+ points
“There is a big jump in depth, complexity and nuance between the Monastrell and the 2017 Vino de Finca, which is a blend of Monastrell with almost 25% Garnacha. This comes from four plots that were selected from what was previously used for the entry-level Monastrell; they aim was to find a wine with more finesse and elegance but with the inherent power of the zone. This is only the third vintage for this cuvée, and it feels quite established and different from the rest of the range; it has less varietal character and is more about the place, getting closer to the single-vineyard bottlings where they do not search for fruit character. The idea here is to ferment at temperatures that are quite so low and to stabilize the wine in oak barrels for a long-ish time (12 months in 500-liter barrels and 5,000-liter oak foudres). They are wines of sun and limestone. This is a good reflection of it with a perfumed and floral note on the finish (elegance!) that is quite remarkable. 31,000 bottles produced in 2017. It was bottled in November 2018.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Library release? Nope. The 2005 is the current offering from Defaix.
Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix Les Lys, Chablis Premier Cru 2005 750ML ($64.95) $52.50 special, 34 bottles in stock now
William Kelley – Wine Advocate 93 points
“Dramatic aromas of blanched almonds, beeswax, honey and preserved lemon introduce the 2005 Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys, a full-bodied, textural wine that’s rich, concentrated and structured, with a tight-knit core, tangy acids and a stony finish. Like Defaix’s other 2005s, it’s very much in its prime and will be well worth seeking out when it reaches the marketplace.”
Grapelive 93 points “Daniel-Etienne Defaix … continues [his family’s] tradition of wine growing, which has been working the vines around Chablis since the 1500s. He manages 26 hectares planted exclusively to Chardonnay, which most all there vines in a selection of Premier Crus. Defaix, a natural minded vigneron whose family is from Avallon, not far from Chablis, he uses largely self-taught methods to craft his wines with ideas passed down and learned from his own experiences. His severe selections of grapes and his long fermentations highlight his deft and gentle touch in the cellar, which shows here in his latest release of Les Lys from the 2005 vintage. [This] is gorgeous Chablis with incredible texture, mineral notes, remarkable lively character from this warm vintage and polished depth. This 2005 gives a subtle floral perfume, hints liquid rock, clarified cream, apple, pear and lemon preserves as well as wet stone (chalk), acacia honey, hazelnut and lingering fleshiness of form. It is a seamless Chardonnay of great class and detail. The Chablis 1er Cru Les Lys comes from a monopole plot known as ‘Clos du Roi’ and the average age of the vines is close to 45 years. [The vines are planted] on a sloping hillsides that has a near perfect southwest exposure allowing warm ripe flavors and richness, while the Kimmeridgian (limestone) soils give fabulous structure, acidity and minerallity. Daniel Defaix ferments 100% de-stemmed grapes in stainless steel tank using 100% natural yeasts at cold temps, which takes close to three weeks, and then the wine is rested almost three years on the lees, again in stainless (only) and goes through natural malos, then racked again back to stainless tanks to aged up to ten years before bottling! The results are amazing and this 2005, which shows the benefits of that regime and the age delivers a great performance in the glass with a sexy layered mouth feel and secondary elements beginning to shine through. The ‘Les Lys’ Premier Cru vineyard, part of the Vaillons, is located on the left bank of the Serein River, overlooking the villages of Chablis and Milly, making for an intriguing terroir, one of the most rare in the series of Premier Crus from Chablis and with a stony personality, but with a softer tone than some of neighboring sites. This Defaix version is wonderfully elegant, especially now.”
Importer Note ““Les Lys” is a tiny five-hectare cru of which Defaix owns three and a half hectares, all in a southeast-facing section called “Clos du Roi”—effectively a monopole of the domaine. Its poor soils of pure Kimmeridgian limestone produce perhaps the most complete and distinctive wine in Defaix’s cellar. Combining some of the power of the “Vaillon” with the chalky intensity of the “Côte de Lechet,” the 2005 “Les Lys” ratchets up the aromatic complexity of the previous two, yet comes across as startlingly pure and harmonious. The almost viscous palate displays the richness of the vintage, yet with shimmering tension and muscular strictness rather than opulence. There’s an enormous sensation of dry extract on the chiseled finish, where acidity and minerality interlock like two sides of a zipper. Once again, one gets the impression that this wine is just entering its early maturity, and if the 1971 Danny blind-tasted us on during our last visit is any indication, this 2005 will reveal mind-bending complexity and as-yet-unplumbed layers over the next several decades.”

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“In a word: superb”
Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2017 750ML ($89.95) $59 special, 30 bottles in stock now
Wine Enthusiast 95 points
“With small amounts of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, this is a classically structured, earthy and impressive wine. Char, herb and earth accents frame the elegant, crisp fruit and graceful tannins, with a lasting taste of crushed rock.”
Antonio Galloni 94 points “The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags Leap District) shows off the more extroverted side of the year to great effect. Inky dark fruit, chocolate, leather, lavender, spice, menthol and cloves are all amped up. The 2017 is a rich, explosive wine built on flamboyance and volume. This large-scaled, potent Cabernet Sauvignon has a ton to offer. Best of all, with a case production of over 5,500, it will be relatively easy to find, and is just as nearly as exceptional as the flagship bottlings in this range. In a word: superb.”

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Mt. Eden’s Edna Valley Chardonnay is a perpetual best-value bottling, with rich, creamy fruit and seductive textures.
Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2017 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 special, 36+ bottles in stock now
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.”

Collector’s Corner

Mature and Rare Champagne from de Venoge

De Venoge is one of the more overlooked old-school Champagne houses, a fact that means even their finest and rarest wines continue to be undervalued relative to their peers. Case in point? The two prestige cuvées, the Louis d’Or and Louis XV bottlings, which are held back on the lees for exceedingly long periods of time and are true monuments of vintage bubbly.

De Venoge has a strong following in Europe for good reason—they source from some of the best vineyards in Champagne and produce prestige cuvées of immense quality, built on long lees aging. They source Pinot Noir from Grand Cru villages like Verzenay, Ambonnay and Bouzy and pair it with a murderers row of Chardonnay sources, including Avize, Mesnil, and Cramant. The resulting wines capture the essence of classical Champagne and are in high demand in Europe’s top restaurants. Despite that, they tend to be overlooked in the United States, making them quite the opportunity for savvy connoisseurs.

Their older prestige cuvées are outstanding wines for lovers of mature Champagne in all its glory, with rich, creamy textures from extended lees aging allied to surprisingly fresh, mineral personalities. There’s a reason this house has such a following in Europe—they produce stunning wines and then age them until they’re ready to go, so you don’t have to leave these in your cellar for decades. We have a handful of options left, including two that are a quarter-century young. Now’s your chance to try them for yourself.

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De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millésime, Champagne 1996 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 26 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 96 points
“This is really complex, old Champagne with puff-pastry, dried-apple, spice and salted-nut aromas and flavors. Full body. Ultra fine bubbles with an extremely fine and creamy mouth feel. Extreme edge to it. This spent 21 years on the lees. Disgorged in 2018. Every year they disgorge 3,000 bottles”

De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millésime, Champagne 2006 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 16 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 96 points
“The assemblage of the 2006 Louis XV Brut Millésimé is about the same as the 1995 and 1996—composed of 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, all from grand cru villages. The only difference is that the Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (10% of the assemblage) spent 12 months in oak barrels. Disgorged in January 2017 (dosage: six grams per liter), the 2006 has a golden color and opens with a deep, ripe, elegant and vinous bouquet with toasty and chalky lemon and fresh white fruit flavors. On the palate, this is an intense, round, fresh and complex Louis XV with great purity and finesse. The wine opens on the palate like a soufflé, coating the whole palate without any pressure or weight—gorgeous! This is a delicate and fresh yet well-structured and persistent Louis XV whose intense and long but weightless finish reveals lovely, almost juicy fruit concentration with perfectly integrated freshness and lasting minerality that seems to give additional structure. The 2006 shows a lot of Chardonnay features right now and drinks perfectly today; however, it can be kept under perfect conditions for decades. Just keep it in the box, because the bottle is white and nothing makes a Champagne age faster than exposure to daylight. (Tasted in November 2017 from Lot LL15067017BT.)-SR”

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De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Brut Millésime, Champagne 2008 750ML ($299.95) $249 special, 16 bottles in stock now
James Suckling 95 points
“This is really punchy and broad-shouldered with muscular structure and citrusy undertones. Full body. Lightly tannic and a fresh and vivid finish. This is the first vintage without malolactic fermentation ever. One for the cellar. Better in 2022.”
Wine Advocate 93+ points “The straw-yellow/white-golden colored 2008 Louis XV Brut Millésimé blends 50% Chardonnay (20 % from Avize, 15% from Oger and 15% from Mesnil) with 50% Pinot Noir (41.5% from Verzenay and 8.5% from Bouzy). Disgorged in January 2018 with a dosage of six grams per liter, the 2008 displays a clear, pure, fresh, chalky-tinged and vinous nose with lemon, white fruits, brioche, hazelnuts, white blossoms and some caramel notes. Pure, lean, fresh and elegant on the palate, with a lingering hazelnut flavor, this is a straight yet complex cuvée with grip and a long, well-structured and textured finish. This 2008 is still terribly fresh and should benefit from further bottle aging. For the moment, I am missing the mouth-filling generosity of the 2006 and 1995. Mind that this is the first vintage of de Venoge’s prestigious Louis XV where the base wines didn’t undergo malolactic fermentation! Total production: 10,326 bottles. Tasted October 2018.”

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De Venoge Louis XV de Venoge Extra Brut Rosé Millésime, Champagne 2002 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 11 bottles in stock now
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Harmonious, with fine intensity, offering rich notes of spice cake, toasted almond, dried cherry, grilled plum and smoky mineral. Almost velvety in texture, with juicy acidity that brings you back for another sip. Delicious. Drink now through 2022. 54 cases made.”

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Love Champagne? We have over 190 different options in stock now. Shop the entire selection, including staff favorites like Bérêche, Eric Rodez, Pierre Peters and more, on our web store now


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