Weekend Vinopolpick 4-30-21

In Today’s Newsletter:

More Rare Wines from Dal Forno

New Weygandt Chateauneuf!

K Vintner’s Motor City Kitty Returns… and More!

Trending Wines

Collector’s Corner:
Napa’s Original ‘Cult’ Producer


New Rare Wines from Dal Forno

In many wine areas throughout the world, there are a handful of individuals or families who make “the” wine for their particular region – winemakers who define the style of the region. When it comes to Valpolicella, the Dal Forno family does just that. For more than 30 years, Dal Forno has been producing deeply concentrated Valpolicella, Amarone and Recioto.

Romano Dal Forno , the current winemaker/owner, took over the farm in 1983. Risking everything, he invested a large amount in 1990 to update the winery and refine Dal Forno’s process. The extremely bold flavor of the Valpolicella Superiore is a great example of Dal Forno’s commitment to perfection and their respect for traditional winemaking. Just short of an Amarone, it’s made entirely with fruit that has been dried, though for less time than that legally required for Amarone. A key to the Dal Forno style seems to be an incredibly low yield from their vineyard: each bottle of Valpolicella takes six vines worth of grapes to produce!

We first featured these new wines last week, to a fantastic response—so we’ve acquired new stock, plus new wines, including vertical, library packs of their Amarone and Valpolicella Superiore, and their hard-to-acquire Recioto, a stunner of a dessert wine.

Newly Added, Arriving ETA May:

Only four half-bottles available!
Dal Forno Romano ‘Vigna Sere’ Rosso Passito 2004 375ML ($279.95) $199 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 99 points
“The 2004 Passito Rosso Vino Dolce Vigna Seré (500-mililiter) is a masterpiece that is impossible to repeat. In fact, the wine has not been produced since 2004. Even if a vintage as good as this did come along, we’d need to wait another 13 years before we could enjoy this level of maturity and evolution. Formally a Recioto della Valpolicella, this sweet red wine is made with air-dried fruit as local tradition dictates. Luckily no botrytis set in that year, because that would have eroded the wine’s deep and luscious color saturation. The bouquet delivers a generous flow of dark spice, bitter chocolate, espresso, raisin, plum, barbecue spice and teriyaki smoke. The concentration and layering of the wine are both rare and distinctive. The mouthfeel sees sweet flavors with a syrupy mouthfeel. The finish offers hints of caramelized brown sugar and savory hickory. The aging window is impossible to predict, but the wine is surely built to last. I can think of no other wine that comes close to matching this unique style.”
Antonio Galloni 98+ points “The 2004 Vigna Serè is the perfect conclusion to a vintage that will go down as one of Dal Forno’s most magical. Sweet, silky tannins support layers of super-refined, elegant fruit in this magical sweet red. Mocha, espresso, new leather, raspberry jam and spices emerge with time in the glass, but this is really a wine that shows off textural finesse more than anything else. I have tasted this wine many times since it was in barrel and later in bottle. It has never been anything less than spellbinding. It is one of the most magical sweet dessert wines I have ever tasted. At eight years of age the 2004 remains a an infant. (375 ml)”
Decanter 98 points “A Recioto in all but name, as Dal Forno withdrew from the appellation after the 2003 was rejected by the Consorzio for its atypical astringency. This is a profound sweet red wine that will probably live forever. The superb floral nose features violet lift, with a macerated cherry character in the mouth which heralds plum, crushed berries and sweet spice. This is so well balanced it’s almost savoury in nature, the clean line of acidity sweeping away all before it. There’s some creaminess on the finish, reminding you of its startling youth.”

Only one case available!
Case-6 Dal Forno Romano Amarone Vertical 06/08/10 ($2,499.95) $1,999 pre-arrival special
Mixed case: 2x 2006, 2x 2008, 2x 2010. No substitutions.
Reviews for the 2006 vintage:
James Suckling 98 points
“This is very lifted and intense with treacle tart, licorice, light asphalt, chili and chocolate. Full body with very intense dried fruits like raisins, sultanas and prunes, but there’s a nutmeg and clove undertone to it. Very chewy and intense on the finish. Big wine but racy and fresh. Stunning Amarone.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 97+ points “Back in 2006, this estate farmed approximately 25 hectares of vines, and the Valpolicella was just beginning to feel its new celebrity status, thanks to a new generation of vintners (to come after Quintarelli and Dal Forno) showing impressive results. The 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta was born in a vintage that was not easy: It saw hail and above-average rainfall for much of the growing season. This expression opens to an inky dark appearance and heavy aromas of dried fruit, pressed blackberries and sun-dried prunes. There is a slightly sweeter side to this vintage (the residual sugar is up to ten grams per liter), and the mouthfeel offers enormous volume and richness. You get some jammy and raisiny fruit at the back. Like the 1990 vintage also tastes in this retrospective, this bottle from the 2006 vintage was slow to open and felt a bit closed initially. In fact, I gave it 94 points at that time. However, I recently opened a bottle of this same wine that I had in my cellar, and it was just stunning. It showed none of the shyness that I described above. Inspired by that second magical bottle, I went back and adjusted the drinking window and my score to the one you see here.”
(See below for 2008 and 2010 reviews)

Only four bottles available
Dal Forno Romano Amarone 2008 750ML ($349.95) $319 pre-arrival special
Antonio Galloni 98 points
“The 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella is compelling. With a little air, the tannins begin to soften, releasing a myriad of intense dark aromas and flavors. Bittersweet chocolate, cloves, violets, plums and blackberry jam cover every inch of the palate in a stunning, headspinning Amarone that captures all of the best qualities of the year. When Romano Dal Forno’s wines are on, there is nothing quite like them, and that is certainly the case here. If opened young, the 2008 needs a little air. Actually, a lot of air.”
James Suckling 97 points “Wonderful aromas of rose petal, blackberry, sugared walnut and hints of sea salt. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a warm, enticing palate with dried fruits, blackberry, black olive and freshly cracked slate. Fabulous Amarone.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “Production was skipped over in 2007 due to extreme hail damage. The fruit that would normally be destined to Amarone went to the lower tier Valpolicella Superiore instead. The 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta marks a return to a slightly cooler vintage with a longer growing season slowed down during the summer’s moderate temperatures. Indeed, harvest was wrapped up during the first days of November. The blend is mostly Corvina, at about 60%, with smaller parts Corvinone, Rondinella, Croatina and Oseleta. The new Dal Forno winery was finished in 2008, complete with the unique vacuum-sealed fermentation tasks that help to avoid any intrusive oxygen during winemaking. Indeed, this wine is balanced and elegant with fruit that is still crunchy and very much alive. The tannins are firm and nicely integrated into the wine’s thick, fleshy consistency. This vintage is characterized by a very elegant and graceful approach, which must be taken into context given the enormity of a wine of this caliber. Happily, there is no doubt that this vintage should still evolve steadily over time.”

Only five bottles available
Dal Forno Romano Amarone 2010 750ML ($349.95) $319 pre-arrival special
Decanter 98 points
“2010 is a more considered vintage compared to the outright opulence of 2009, but it’s no shrinking violet, especially in Dal Forno’s hands. This has a meaty nose with savoury hedgerow fruit , surprisingly open already. I had to put an exclamation mark after writing ‘elegant’ in my notes, as it seems incomprehensible that a wine of this magnitude could still have such balletic balance. It is broad and juicy, with chalky grip and clean, fresh acids followed by a hint of warmth on the long finish.”
James Suckling 97 points “Aromas of roses and other flowers with a deep fruit intensity. Full-bodied, dense and ultra-fine with a beautiful texture. Lots of new wood now but this will amalgamate with time into the wine. Fabulous potential. Drink or hold.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “This was an excellent vintage in much of Italy, but unfortunately the weather was not as pleasant in this specific area of the Valpolicella. The season saw a lot of rain, and a good amount of fruit was cut and left on the ground because it could not be used. Considering these difficulties, Michele Dal Forno tells me he is “more than happy with the results.” I tasted the 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta next to the 2009 vintage, and having these two wines side by side reinforces just how different they are. The 2010 vintages is sharper, more pointed and direct in comparison, and there is a tiny point of sourness on the close. This wine does not reach the same threshold for fullness, density or richness. It does come close. The wine’s residual sugar measures between 5 and 6 grams per liter, which is normal for this wine, and the bouquet is redolent of familiar black fruit, raisin and spice. However, the wine feels a bit stuck in its tracks at the moment and is evidently experiencing a shy phase in its evolution. It has retreated.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Like a gymnast, this focused red shows both power and grace. Finely meshed flavors of blackberry puree, fig cake and Earl Grey tea leaf are framed by refined, dusty tannins, with a lasting finish expands on the palate with spice and smoky mineral details. Drink now through 2030. 450 cases imported. — AN”

Only eight bottles available
Dal Forno Romano Amarone 2012 750ML ($419.95) $319 pre-arrival special
James Suckling 97 points
“A decadent nose of treacle tart, chocolate, tar, tons of black fruit such as blackberries and mulberries and even ash and licorice. A dense, layered mouthfeel makes for a full-bodied palate that’s explosive yet somehow so refined and pretty all at the same time. The finish goes on and on. Incredible now, but better to wait for this giant to settle well into 2020.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 96 points “The 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta is a beautifully complete wine, even at this young stage in its life. You feel the youth of the wine in the tightness of the tannins and in the finely knit texture of its concentrated flavor profile. The big surprise is the wine’s fresh acidity that has been carefully safeguarded despite the heat of the vintage and the drying process so deftly executed at this landmark estate. The wine shows no sign of oxidation or evolution, not yet. There is intricate fruit layering with cherry, blackberry, spice and mesquite delivered with such precision, that level of detail defies the very bold and opulent essence of the wine. It has only just started its evolutionary journey.”
Decanter 96 points “Romano Dal Forno took control of his family’s 25ha in 1980, aged 22, quickly turning to Amarone maestro Giuseppe Quintarelli for advice and tutorship. Dal Forno focussed on a dramatic reduction of yields, replacing the oxidation-prone Molinara grape with the rare Oseleta, and set about introducing a system of manual sorting to remove less than perfect grapes. It takes nine vines to create one bottle of Dal Forno’s Amarone, with a drying period of three months leading to 15 days of fermentation in temperature-controlled steel tanks. Ageing takes place in new oak for 36 months, followed by another 24 months in bottle. It’s a blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina and 10% Oseleta. Michael Garner: Exuberant, dense and chewy with peppery black fruit flavours, while showing some delicacy of aroma. Intense and will develop further, perhaps offering more power than grace. Andrew Jefford: It’s not showy on the nose but is super-attractive, and it just grows more so the more time you spend with it. On the palate it’s rich, deep, magnificently tannic and long – an absolutely unbridled Amarone, yet at the same time of extraordinary resonance, authority and subtlety. An Amarone masterclass! Monty Waldin: Its evident concentration really comes through on the palate, with a mix of smooth and slightly more savoury, drier tannins that mingle amicably under some ripely sweet red fruit, while finishing with a distinct brightness.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 96 points “There is a massive amount of pleasure to be found in the 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta. It blends elegance with power while contrasting rich dark fruits against sweet herbal tones and spices to create a seductive expression from start to finish. Cherry and plum sauce, lavender, mint and sage can all be found upon first pour, yet it’s the developing notes of rum cake, mocha and licorice that complete the picture perfectly. This is velvety and pliant in texture yet not weighty, all balanced by juicy acids, tart fruits and just a hint of grippy tannins. Dark chocolate mixed with salty minerals under an air of sweet violet florals resonates throughout the finale. All of that said, the endnote here is remarkably fresh, as the 2012 never becomes tiring. This is firing on all cylinders yet with medium-term cellaring potential – but good luck keeping your hands off of it today.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “A velvety, full-bodied version, loaded with blackberry coulis, baked black cherry and tar-tinged smoke flavors that ripple across the palate. Offers lovely accents of dried mint, tobacco, iron and anise that echo on the firm finish. A powerhouse, with plenty in reserve. Best from 2022 through 2032. 250 cases imported. — AN”

Only seven bottles available
Dal Forno Romano Amarone 2011 750ML ($419.95) $369 pre-arrival special
Decanter 99 points
“The strongest wine in my selection, yet this magnificent Amarone’s alcohol is barely visible thanks to its astonishing depth, texture and sumptuousness. Pressed black fruits seep with fruit essences; smoke and cinders; herbal complexities; teasing floral notes, all engraved into a palate that expresses creamy finesse but without a trace of superfluous fat, heat or obviousness. Beautifully crafted, as dignified as any grand Barolo.”
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 95+ points “Fully saturated ruby. Very deep, intense aromas of blackcurrant, plums macerated in alcohol, soy sauce, coffee and underbrush on the complex nose. Rich, dense and balanced, with nicely focused flavors of dark berries and aromatic herbs that have a noteworthy savory tang. The long finish features repeating hints of soy sauce, espresso and underbrush. Dal Forno’s is the recognized master of a uniquely powerful, ripe, and concentrated style of Amarone.”

Case-6 Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore Vertical 11/12/13 ($699.95) $599 pre-arrival special
Mixed case: 2x 2011, 2x 2012, 2x 2013. No substitutions.
Reviews for 2011 vintage:
Decanter 96 points
“This wine is a blend of 70 per cent Corvina with 20 per cent Rondinella and just 5 per cent each of Croatina and Oseleta.  It’s deep black-red in colour, and is dark and forceful, sombre yet voluptuous in aroma: a harmonious weave of black chocolate, sloe and elderberry, with the years in oak bringing a cedary refinement.  On the palate, it’s a vault of a wine: deep, dark and roomy, packed with earthy refinements and black-fruited echoes, both severe yet soft and enticing too.  The tannins are ample yet fine-grained, the acidity delicate and sustaining.  I wrote about the ‘crocodilian’ character of grand Veneto dried-fruit reds wine back in April, but the teeth are polished ivory here.  This is horizon-altering ‘Valpolicella’ which would perform outstandingly in any Amarone tasting.”
Ian D’Agata-Vinous 95+ points “Fully saturated ruby. Very deep, intense aromas of blackcurrant, plums macerated in alcohol, soy sauce, coffee and underbrush on the complex nose. Rich, dense and balanced, with nicely focused flavors of dark berries and aromatic herbs that have a noteworthy savory tang. The long finish features repeating hints of soy sauce, espresso and underbrush. Dal Forno’s is the recognized master of a uniquely powerful, ripe, and concentrated style of Amarone.”
Reviews for 2012 vintage:
Eric Guido-Vinous 96 points
“There is a massive amount of pleasure to be found in the 2012 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta. It blends elegance with power while contrasting rich dark fruits against sweet herbal tones and spices to create a seductive expression from start to finish. Cherry and plum sauce, lavender, mint and sage can all be found upon first pour, yet it’s the developing notes of rum cake, mocha and licorice that complete the picture perfectly. This is velvety and pliant in texture yet not weighty, all balanced by juicy acids, tart fruits and just a hint of grippy tannins. Dark chocolate mixed with salty minerals under an air of sweet violet florals resonates throughout the finale. All of that said, the endnote here is remarkably fresh, as the 2012 never becomes tiring. This is firing on all cylinders yet with medium-term cellaring potential – but good luck keeping your hands off of it today.”

More Stock Available, ETA May:

Only five bottles available
Dal Forno Romano Amarone 2013 750ML ($419.95) $319 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 98 points
“The 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta is my favorite wine in the retrospective, along with the amazing 2011, 2009 and 1996 vintages. This wine was released at the beginning of this year, and because Dal Forno skipped over the 2014 vintage, this is the only Amarone we will see for a while (until the highly anticipated 2015 is released). The 2013 vintage is characterized by a slightly more streamlined mouthfeel (which isn’t saying much given the baseline enormity of these wines) with carefully etched aromas of black cherry, rum cake, dark chocolate and toasted espresso. The 2013 vintage was balanced overall without the sudden heat waves we saw in the summers of 2011 and 2012. The grapes finished a slow and steady ripening process over an extended growing season. The effect is graceful and focused. Put this bottle aside in your cellar for the decades to come.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 97 points “The 2013 Amarone della Valpolicella Monte Lodoletta needs time – and a lot of it – to show all of its charms. But worry not, because you can already find pleasure in its dramatic display of rich plums and cherries dipped in mocha-infused chocolate with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and sweet tobacco. This is black as night yet truly purple in color, with depths of concentrated wild berry fruits contrasted by zesty acids that do an amazing job of lifting the expression. Grippy tannins saturate slowly, sneaking up on you and lasting throughout the impossibly long black hole of a finish, where notes of licorice, bitters and a coating of cocoa powder linger. Wow. The 2013 is built for the cellar and with tons of upside potential. If you dare to delve into one of these while young, I’d suggest opening your bottle a number of hours prior to enjoying. That said, this will be worth the wait.”

Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore 2013 750ML ($119.95) $94.50 pre-arrival special
Decanter 97 points
“From one of the most iconic wineries in the Orientale, this is aged for two years in oak and a further three in bottle. A proper meditation wine, great with game, strong cheeses or a cigar. It has a huge nose of stewed red fruits, ethereal bramble forest fruits and blackberry jam. Generous, with spicy, bitter cherry-stone freshness. Full-bodied with a rich, intense, spicy undertone.”
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 95 points “This is a terrific wine that stood out—and stood tall—despite the fact that it was tasted alongside some of Dal Forno’s most important vintages of the top-shelf Amarone. If that’s not a full-on recommendation, I don’t know what is. The 2013 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta oozes forth with thick concentration and an inky black color. The mouthfeel is thick and impenetrable, and the senses are treated to a long succession of black fruit, tar, spice, smoke, mesquite and barbecue flavors. The wine is full-bodied and very opulent, but it carries that massive intensity with grace and precision. This Valpolicella Superiore is very nicely done.”

Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella Superiore 2014 750ML ($119.95) $94.50 pre-arrival special
Wine & Spirits 95 points
“The 2014 growing season in Valpolicella was plagued by hail in June and copious rain through mid-October, leaving the grape skins fragile and, in the estimation of Romano Dal Forno, not suitable for making Amarone. Instead, he used all of the fruit he and his team could salvage to make this wine, selecting only the best bunches and drying them for 45 days. After fermentation, the wine rested in new oak barrels for two years and another three in bottle, developing a rich complexity that reads more like an Amarone than a typical Valpolicella. It unfolds with flavors of warmed cherry and dried plum layered with notes of espresso, dark chocolate and a savory hint of amaro. There’s a tart tinge to the fruit that enhances the wine’s drinkability and brightens those rich oak-derived flavors. Even with all of the estate’s fruit going into this Valpolicella, Dal Forno made only 27,000 bottles, 30 percent less than normal.”
Eric Guido-Vinous 94 points “The 2014 is a unique rendition of Dal Forno’s Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta. It’s a remarkably pretty wine, displaying crushed ripe strawberries and plums with cinnamon, clove, vanilla bean and a cooling hint of mint. The textures are velvety, coating all that they touch in glycerol fruit concentration, yet somehow coming across as zesty and spry, contrasting weight with saturating notes of tart blackberry and savory spice. There’s a bit of a lull in the midpalate, yet it hardly takes away from the experience. At times, the Monte Lodoletta can seem almost salty, especially through its long, mouthwatering finish, where hints of cherry pits and herbs linger. This atypical yet truly enjoyable expression is the result of the extremely difficult 2014 vintage, when hail damaged and reduced the crop in the lower-elevation vineyards, followed by rain from August through September. As a result, Dal Forno decided not to produce their Amarone, and to instead focus all of their attention on the Valpolicella. The result is a wine that no Dal Forno fan should miss, but be aware that production was down 30% from an average year.”



New Weygandt Chateauneuf!

Peter Weygandt knows something about great Chateauneuf du Pape.  He’s a partner in St. Theodoric, one of our all-time favorite producers (and as close to Rayas as you can get) and imports a fantastic selection of wines from the Southern Rhone. Two of his core CdP estates are Charvin and Ferrand, both of whom produce excellent wines at superb prices every year.

Charvin is the most resolutely old-school of the bunch, making wines that demand age but reward it with classically mature flavors and aromas.  Ferrand makes wines that are a bit more fruit driven, with softer textures, making them more friendly young.  Across the board, these are wines that are excellent values, as well.  The 2018’s just arrived and they mark yet another successful vintage for the southern Rhone.

Just Arrived:

Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2018 750ML ($79.95) $52.50 special
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 94-96 points
“Dark glistening red. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, baking spices, garrigue and candied flowers, and a smoky mineral flourish appears as the wine opens up. Sappy, sweet and penetrating on the palate, offering juicy black raspberry, cherry and lavender pastille flavors joined by hints of allspice and bitter chocolate. Smooth and seamless in texture, showing superb finishing clarity, gently gripping tannins and strong, spicy persistence. This is a somewhat more brawny wine than usual for Laurent Charvin, but it still retains the domaine’s trademark balance and energy.”
James Suckling 95-96 points “A very tidy array of fresh strawberries, raspberries and poached, red plums. Sweet perfume and light, sappy, spicy complexity, too. The palate delivers an array of succulent, smooth tannins that offer fluid, suave, textural allure. Silky. Barrel sample.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $58.98

Domaine Ferrand Chateauneuf du Pape 2018 750ML ($59.95) $41.90 special
James Suckling 96-97 points
“There’s a lot to like here in 2018. Braval has made a very composed, innately balanced and beautifully drinkable Châteauneuf. The nose has attractive red and purple flowers and wild berries that run from red to black and a gently smoky, flinty edge. The palate has a sleek, supple feel, delivered so purely. The terroir has balance and finesse at Ferrand and Braval delivers it faithfully. This is a beautiful thing to taste and will be fine on release, though it will also age very well.”
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points “Tasting like Provence in a bottle, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape from Philippe Bravay boasts a medium ruby/purple color as well as an incredibly Provençal style in its kirsch liqueur, blackcurrant, lavender, peppery garrigue, new leather, and spice-driven aromas and flavors. Displaying medium to full-bodied richness, it has the vintage’s forward, seamless style front and center and backs it up with solid mid-palate depth, ripe tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s already drinking beautifully today, yet will easily evolve for another 10-15 years.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Other Weygandt-Imported Chateauneuf du Pape in Stock Now:

Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape 2017 750ML ($74.95) $52.50 special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape is an awesome wine from Laurent, and while it shows the sunny, ripe, sexy style of the vintage, it never loses the elegance and purity that’s the hallmark of Charvin. Lots of kirsch, graphite, dried flowers, garrigue, and ample minerality flow to a medium to full-bodied, silky, incredibly well-balanced red that has a stacked mid-palate, building tannins, and a great finish. Give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and it will cruise over the following two decades.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 94-95 points “Brilliant magenta. An assertively perfumed bouquet of ripe red and blue fruits, Moroccan spices and incense carries a smoky overtone. Sweet, penetrating raspberry preserve, cherry, lavender pastille and spicecake flavors show impressive depth as well as vivacity. Displays superb clarity and floral thrust on the finish, which features smoothly interwoven tannins and lingering spiciness. This wine shows just how much complexity can be achieved, even in a hot vintage, in the absence of any oak, old or new.”

Domaine Ferrand Chateauneuf du Pape 2017 750ML ($59.95) $45 special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape checks in as 90% Grenache and the rest 3% each of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Bourboulenc, with a splash of Cinsault, brought up all in tank. It has a deep, layered, powerful yet elegant style as well as notes of black raspberries, crushed violets, blueberries, ground pepper, and earth. With a rounded, sexy texture, no hard edges, fine tannins, and a beautiful finish, it’s a fabulous wine in the vintage.”
Josh Raynolds – Vinous 94-95 points “Shimmering magenta. Mineral-accented black currant, cherry liqueur, potpourri and exotic spice qualities on the impressively fragrant nose. Supple and expansive on the palate, offering deeply concentrated but energetic red and blue fruit, spicecake and floral pastille flavors and a refreshing jolt of bitter blood orange. Finishes with sharp focus, slow-building tannins and superb, floral- and mineral-driven persistence.”

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

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

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!

Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Imperiale 2017 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
Wine Advocate 96 points
“The 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Imperiale (from vines planted in 1902) is firm and structured to age magnificently. Roses, black tea and red raspberries all appear on the nose and palate, framed by fine-grained tannins. I suspect it will close down shortly, but there is terrific material here, and the wine will drink well for two decades.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points “The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvee Imperiale kicks the intensity up a notch and offers rocking notes of black cherries, garrigue, ground pepper, and incense. More expansive, full-bodied, concentrated, and pure, it’s a brilliant, brilliant wine that stays tight and compact at the moment yet has beautiful concentration, present tannins, and a great finish. It has everything, but it needs 4-5 years or bottle age.”

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

Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Girard 2017 750ML ($59.95) $41.90 special
Super Subscriber Sale Wine!
Wine Advocate 94 points “A special cuvée made for American importer Peter Weygandt, the 2017 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Girard includes a bit more old-vine Grenache, and it shows in the wine’s increased elegance. It’s more floral than the regular bottling, with scents of tea and roses, but it’s also darker and richer, with black cherry fruit, a velvety mouthfeel and a long, layered finish.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!


K Vintner’s Motor City Kitty Returns… 

The wines of K Vintners need very little introduction, as the wines Charles Smith makes under this label are some of our most popular year in and out.  The new Motor City Kitty just arrived and we’re expecting it to be as popular as the last vintages—one of the best values in the lineup.

K Vintners winemaker Charles Smith is one of the defining figures for the modern Washington style.  His wines are big, rich, and ripe but polished. They show distinct differences between the vineyards and always have a hint of that savory, bacony quality that Syrah can bring to the table like nothing else. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the winery, know that Charles Smith fashions himself a bit of a rock star and he ought to—he used to manage them.  Then, one day, on a motorcycle trip, he rode through Walla Walla and was struck by the majesty of the terrain and the vineyards.  Within a few years, he had returned to open a winery.

His first vintage was 1999 and he produced a mere 300 cases of Syrah under his label ‘K Vintners.’ The winery has grown by leaps and bounds since—by our count, K makes well more than 15 wines, most of them single vineyard Syrah, and the demand for them every vintage makes them one of our best-selling estates.

Just Arrived

K Vintners ‘M.C.K. Motor City Kitty’ Syrah 2018 750ML ($41.95) $34.50 special
Winery note “
The 2018 vintage was incredible! This outstanding vintage began mild followed by a long and dry ripening season in the fall. This enabled us to hang the fruit to reach optimal ripeness without losing acidity or increasing sugars. The wines from 2018 are exceptional in many ways, from the great expression of the whites to the beautiful refinement and complexity of the reds. Enjoy! 100% Boushey Oldfield Block”
No reviews for the 2018 vintage. 2017 review provided for reference.
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points
“Coming from the Oldfield and Boushey Vineyards (basically the same vineyard), the 2017 Syrah Motor City Kitty Oldfield-Boushey Vineyard is slightly darker colored and, as with all the Rhones here, wasn’t destemmed and was brought up in mostly neutral puncheons. Blackberries, smoked earth, game, chocolate, and chalky minerality all emerge from this beauty, and it’s a powerful, full-bodied, concentrated effort that will evolve positively for 2-4 years and keep for a decade.”

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K Vintners The Boy Grenache 2017 750ML ($49.95) $36 special
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
“Made from 100% Powerline Vineyard (since 2015), the 2017 Grenache The Boy Powerline Vineyard sports a lighter ruby hue as well as Rayas-like notes of decayed flowers, kirsch liqueur, licorice, and cured meats. Seamless, medium-bodied, and beautifully polished, with fine tannins, it’s a stunning, Burgundian example of this variety to enjoy over the coming 15-20 years. There are a little over 1,000 cases produced.”

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K Vintners The Cattle King Syrah 2016 750ML ($89.95) $59 special
Jeb Dunnuck 97+ points
“The 2016 Syrah Cattle King Upland Vineyard comes from Snipes Mountain and has a singular, pretty, fresh style with more obvious acidity as well as tannins, yet it still stays in the plush, sexy style of the estate. Blue and black fruits, blood orange, violets, and exotic spice notes all define the bouquet and it’s full-bodied, incredibly pure and seamless on the palate. It’s a beautiful wine that’s going to come together nicely for 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for over a decade.”
James Suckling 95 points “From a sloping plot of deep river rock, this has a fresh array of red and blue berries with a fine, stony edge. The palate has a very sleek, composed feel with such length and composure. The purity of blackberry and blueberry flavors is entrancing. Holds so fresh. Drink this now or hold for a decade or more.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2016 Syrah Cattle King leads with expressive red, black and blue fruits on the nose with a density that can be sensed just by nosing the glass. Black cherry, blackcurrant and boysenberry compote all vie for your attention with savory spices and resinous purple flowers. The full-bodied palate is dense with a pedal-to-metal winemaking approach with chewy tannins and supporting acidity. It continues to linger with spice tones as it changes over a 20-30 second period after the wine has left the palate. Just under 500 cases were produced-AM “
Stephen Tanzer – Vinous 94 points “Lively scents of redcurrant, raspberry and dried herbs, plus a whiff of tea leaf. Bright on entry, the pliant but firm in the middle palate, with its dense flavors of red berries and rocky minerality enlivened by penetrating acidity (the pH is actually 3.85). This savory, subtle midweight finishes surprisingly reticent but very long. I never would have guessed the alcohol but it should help this wine age well. Leighton noted that this vineyard was created when “the mountain rose up and pulled the river up the side of the hill”–hence the cobblestones at this altitude. (15% alcohol; from mineral-rich cobblestone soil”

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K Vintners The Creator 2017 750ML ($69.95) $41.90 special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
“The 2017 Cabernet / Syrah The Creator Powerline Vineyard doesn’t match the 2016 yet is still a brilliant blend (75/25 Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) sourced from a site on the southern side of the Walla Walla Valley. Loads of jammy blackberry and black cherry fruits as well as hints of chocolate and peppery herbs emerge from this purple/plum-hued 2017. Offering full-bodied richness, a layered, seamless texture, ripe tannins, and a great finish, it’s another sexy, pleasure-bent effort from this team that can be drunk any time over the coming 10-15 years.”

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K Vintners King Coal Cab/Syrah 2016 750ML ($119.95) $89 special
Jeb Dunnuck 98 points
“Always from the Stoneridge Vineyard, the 2016 Cabernet / Syrah King Coal is a ripe, sexy, yet savory effort that has awesome notes of red and black currants, spice box, graphite, and ground herbs. Deep ruby/purple-colored, full-bodied, beautifully layered, and with a blockbuster finish, it’s one of those powerful yet still ethereal wines that gives up tons of richness and depth yet has no sense of heaviness or weight.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the 2016 King Coal Stoneridge Vineyard starts with the blue fruited tones with stewed plum, boysenberry and Chambord on the nose with inky purple flowers. The palate is full-bodied, rich and generous, with a focused core of bold fruits that are dense and chewy. A high-octane wine, it ends with a long-lasting finish. Only 818 cases were produced in 2016.-AM”

K Vintners Syrah Powerline 2016 750ML ($59.95) $38 special
Stephen Tanzer – Vinous 93 points
“Bright, dark red. Slightly liqueur-like aromas of raspberry and exotic spices. Bright and penetrating, offering sharply delineated flavors of boysenberry, pomegranate and game. This high-pitched midweight delivers serious energy and a late note of pungent citrus peel adds grip to the finish. This wine and The Beautiful have similar pHs around 3.95, according to Leighton. (from the Phelps clone; fermented in large stainless steel seed bins)”

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K Vintners Royal City Syrah 2016 750ML ($149.95) $119 special
Jeb Dunnuck 99 points
“The flagship release, the 2016 Syrah Royal City is all from the Stoneridge Vineyard on the Royal Slope (not far from the Frenchman Hills). It was not destemmed and spent 27 months in 60% new French oak. Offering a sensational bouquet of blackcurrants, baking chocolate, beef blood, toasted spice, and loamy earth, it builds slowly, with full-bodied richness, silky tannins, beautiful power and elegance, and a great, great finish, it’s another magical wine from this team. 572 cases.”

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K Vintners Syrah Milbrandt 2017 750ML ($39.95) $29 special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
“The only wine fermented in stainless steel (they like more precision with this wine) and aged in 30% new puncheons, the 2017 Syrah Milbrandt Vineyard reveals a deep ruby color as well as ripe, sexy notes of blackberries, raspberries, black pepper, leafy herbs, and smoked game. It’s rich, medium-bodied, layered, and just a beautiful wine that will keep for 8-10 years.”
Stephen Tanzer 92 points “Dark red-ruby. Higher-pitched aromas of blueberry, redcurrant, flowers and spices. Good mineral grip gives sharp definition to the fresh red fruit and spice flavors, with aeration bringing notes of rhubarb, black cherry, wet earth and mint and an emerging saline character. Finishes with big, broad, dusty tannins that grab the tongue. Highly distinctive Syrah. (a 50/50 blend of two distinct soil types in a high-elevation site–one gravel and sand and the other featuring limestone and volcanic rock–vinified together in stainless steel).”

K Vintners Syrah River Rock 2016 750ML ($59.95) $39 special
Winery note
“This wine smells really good. It is really good! Energy galore, a focused palate. Aroma of undergrowth, raspberry, plum, sandalwood, anise, marjoram and cured meat. All culminating in a lush, taunt delivery and an unending finish. Yes, really good! 100% Syrah / 100% whole cluster pressed / Native yeast / 40 days on skins / 40% new French oak puncheons / 20 mo. barrel-aged on lees.”

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Plus, Newly Arrived from Walla Walla Standout Va Piano:

Va Piano Valla Walla Valley Syrah 2016 750ML ($49.95) $29 special

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Trending Wines

“A serious collectible with three decades of evolution ahead of it”
Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle, Rhône 2017 750ML ($219.95) $189 special, 14 bottles in stock now
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.”
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.”

An absurdly pretty rosé that’s bright and salty.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosato Etna, Sicily 2019 750ML ($29.95) Was $24 Now $21.90, 36+ bottles in stock now
Eric Guido-Vinous 90 points
“The 2019 Terre Nere Etna Rosato is actually quite savory, and especially alluring in the glass, pulling me closer with notes of raw almond, dusty dried flowers, smoky tangerine and marine-inspired minerals. It’s silky with fleshy ripe melon and white orchard fruits, but also a salty character that mixes with its vibrant acids to create tension and poise, resonating on residual acids and inner florals.”
James Suckling 90 points “Medium-bodied with lots of cherry and citrus character, light tannins and a fruity finish. Fun and structured. Drink now.”
Wine & Spirits 90 points “Delicate floral scents introduce this wine; then racy acidity draws its flavors of juicy peach and soft red berries together in a graceful, refined finish.”

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A staff favorite white with minerality and power—and this vintage is almost sold out.
Championship Bottle ‘Silicone on Sapphire’ White, Willamette Valley 2018 750ML ($34.95) $27 special, 17 bottles in stock now
Michael Alberty-Oregonian/Oregon Live
“Silicone on Sapphire” is The Clash’s dub version of their song “Washington Bullets.” “Silicone on Sapphire” the wine is Saul Mutchnick’s Oregon remix of the great whites of Friuli. Mutchnick’s blend of Willamette Valley ribolla gialla, Tocai Friulano, pinot blanc and chardonnay is one of my favorite discoveries of 2020. Scents of yellow apples, earth, butterscotch and rose hips filled the air when I poured this wine into my glass. Flavors of pineapple, green mango, coriander and white pepper sealed the deal. Go find this wine before it disappears from local shelves.”
Winery note “A remix of a Friuli-style blend. This might be the singular wine that embodies what we hope to accomplish—more proof that the native tongue of the Willamette Valley has a Furlan accent. It’s inspired by the tradition of blended white wines from that corner of Italy and is composed of 26% Ribolla Gialla, 8% Tocai Friulano, and 33% each Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.  This was done partially for practical reasons (there are a total of one and a quarter rows of the Ribolla/Friulano at Omero Vineyard) and partially because both grapes do so well as blending components.  Ribolla has an austerity to it that provides structure and spine, while Friulano is blessed with beautiful fruit but lacks some acidity.  Pinot Blanc seemed to heighten those grapes’ characteristics and Chard provided a beautiful background texture.”

A fun, refreshing white blend
Ovum ‘Big Salt’, Elkton 2020 750ML ($21.95) $17 special, 35 bottles in stock now
Winery note
“2020 Big Salt is wildly aromatic, laced with Gewurz and Muscat overtones, but framed by citrusy Riesling. Salty bergamot, lemon, nectarine and white tea– exotic fruits fill out the nose. The palate is filled with the texture of Gewurz, herbal hints from Pinot Blanc, but quickly washed back with classic Riesling acidity. 2020 Big Salt pairs well with fish tacos, pesto chicken pasta, pad thai…or just chilling. Cellar: 3-8 years of optimal drinking. 45% Riesling, 35% Gewurztraminer, 11% Pinot Blanc, 9% Early Muscat, 1% others. Soils: Volcanic ash, basalt, marine sediment, alluvial, serpentine.”

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The best Chardonnay you’ve never heard of?
Weingut Tement Ried Rossberg Morillon, Südsteiermark 2017 750ML ($39.95) $33 special, 35 bottles in stock now
Stephen Reinhardt – Wine Advocate 93 points
“The 2017 Ried Rossberg Morillon is from a very calcareous marl soil rich in iron and manganese. Vinified in old Burgundian pièces, this is a deep, rich and round, wonderfully aromatic yet pure and flinty [Chardonnay] with very fine tannins and a very elegant and lush texture. The finish is powerful yet pure and persistently salty, with lots of mineral tension and grip. This is an excellent, perfectly balanced but thrilling white whose lush and iodine character is a bit like a Jura wine. Tasted in May 2019.”

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“Built for the cellar”
Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux, Rhône 2018 750ML ($119.95) $99 special, 26 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 95-97 points
“Everything about the all-Grenache 2018 Gigondas le Claux is big. From the huge black cherry and blackberry fruit, to the insane levels of concentration, the rich, velvety tannins and the never-ending, licorice-tinged finish, this beauty should evolve positively for at least a decade and a half.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Quite ripe, with waves of warmed plum sauce and blackberry preserves rolling through, wrapped liberally with licorice root, sage and lavender notes. Iron minerality runs through the finish, letting the fruit and savory notes meld wonderfully. Built for the cellar. Best from 2022 through 2035.”

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Collector’s Corner:

Napa’s Original ‘Cult’ Producer

Diamond Creek invented much of what we think of as pillars of cult California Cabernet. The single vineyard bottlings, the exclusive mailing list, and the elevated prices all seemed to spring from this tiny estate on the hillsides of Diamond Mountain. The wines are as iconic as ever—monuments to the greatness of their Napa terroir.

We’ve featured their 2018s before, predicting that the lineup would garner high praise once reviewers got their hands on them. And without being too brash in tooting our own horns, it is clear now that our prediction was spot on. The Wine Advocate just published reviews punctuated by deservedly high scores.

Stylistically, these are powerful Cabernets. Although there are distinct differences between the three vineyards, the wines show a common vein of Diamond Mountain ruggedness—an intensity of flavor and minerality that’s unique to the AVA. Diamond Creek manages to harness it to produce wines that dazzle with their complexity and age-worthiness; wines that rival the finest in Bordeaux. These are wines that are destined to stand the test of time as modern classics of Napa Valley.

In Stock Now:

Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 15 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 98+ points
“The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Volcanic Hill is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Merlot, 8.7% Malbec and 2.8% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple colored, it bursts with vibrant scents of wild blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries and boysenberries with hints of sassafras, fragrant earth, vanilla pod and underbrush, plus a waft of crushed rocks. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers fantastic purity and depth, offering firm, grainy tannins to support the bags of earth-laced black fruits, finishing long and mineral laced. 791 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Volcanic Hill is comprised of 8 acres of south facing hillside vineyard.  It is the warmest of all our micro-climates.  The color of the soil is gray, and the consistency is that of fluffy, volcanic ash, originally deposited from the eruption of Mt. Konocti 8 million years ago. Volcanic Hill is the longest lived of our wines. Our winemaker describes these wines as “full bodied, loaded with intense ripe berry fruit, cassis, violets and a smoky richness, finishing with good length and firm tannins. The Volcanic Hill bottling includes a small amount of the extra-ordinary Petit Verdot grape.”

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Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 21 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 98 points
“The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Rock Terrace is a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 4.5% Malbec and 4.5% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple, it comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant notes of cassis, plum preserves, cedar chest and pencil lead, plus wafts of black truffles, damp soil and unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate bursts with black berry flavors and wonderful freshness, packed with loads of subtle savory layers and textured by approachable, plush tannins, finishing on a lingering fragrant earth note. 599 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Red Rock Terrace, a warm microclimate, is 7 acres of north facing vineyard.  The red tinted soil is high in iron content.  The wine from Red Rock Terrace is the most accessible and earliest drinkable of all our wines. Our winemaker describes Red Rock Terrace as “having velvety tannins, rich and well balanced, medium dark ruby color with cherry, mint and black currant flavors.”

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Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018 750ML ($279.95) $249 special, 23 bottles in stock now
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 97 points
“The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Gravelly Meadow is a blend of 78.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.4% Merlot, 8% Malbec and 5.1% Petit Verdot. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slips effortlessly from the glass, singing of ripe black cherries, black raspberries and cassis, plus hints of red currants, roses, cinnamon stick and garrigue. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers lovely freshness, offering bags of perfumed black fruits in the mouth, beautifully supported by fine-grained tannins, finishing long with lots of soft-spoken floral and mineral whispers. This perfumed beauty wears the 2018 vintage stamp well, presenting a more delicate expression of this vineyard—one that I love! 647 cases were made.”
Winery notes “Our second coolest micro-climate is our five-acre Gravelly Meadow vineyard. Originally a pre-historic river bed, this stony, gravelly soil drains rapidly and the vines struggle for moisture. Gravelly Meadow is our lowest yielding vineyard. The wines are described as “earthy, cedary, jammy and ripe blackberry with a spicy expansive finish.”

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