Weekend VinopolPick 5-17-19

In Today’s Newsletter:

Robert Parker’s Favorite Region

Highlights of the Tuscan Coast

Rosé of the Day: Venetian Sunshine

Trending Wines

Memorial Day Magnums of a Wine Spectator Top 20 Wine

The Hottest Winemaker in Spain?

Bandol’s Secret Summer Style

Top Values from Eric Solomon


Chateauneuf du Pape

Robert Parker’s Favorite Region

Robert Parker officially announced his retirement yesterday.  We don’t need to sing his praises—everyone with a passing interest in wine knows his name and that sort of impact will be lauded for good reason.  To celebrate Parker and wish him well, we wanted to feature his favorite region, which he nearly single-handedly championed into its current place in the international pecking order: Chateauneuf du Pape.

When Robert Parker started writing about wine in the late 70’s, Chateauneuf was a region known for somewhat rustic, often funky wines that were great values and had historical cache.  Parker saw their innate value, championing the meticulous producers and driving quality up in the region.  These days, no one bats an eye at the (rightfully) high prices that some many Chateauneufs command—and that’s all Parker’s doing.  We’ll be toasting to his happy retirement with one of these favorites and you can (and should) as well:

In Stock Now:

Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme, Rhone 2015 750ML ($69.95) $49 special
Jeb Dunnuck – Rhone Report 96 points
“The inky colored 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme is a serious winner in the vintage. A blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and the rest counoise, Vaccarese and Muscardin, it offers a huge nose of blackberry jam, garrigue, crushed violets, and incense. Ripe, unctuous and opulent, yet not over the top, it reminds me of the Trois Source cuvee from Vieille Julienne. This is a smoking good release that will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and shine of over a decade.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “Xavier Vignon is one of the Rhône’s leading winemaking consultants, and so it’s no surprise he had access to some great fruit for his 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Anonyme. Tellingly, the blend entirely omits Syrah, containing 60% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 8% Counoise, 4% Vaccarèse and 3% Muscardin. Floral notes and ripe cherries appear along licorice and vanilla (one-fourth of the wine was matured in new barriques), yet this is no drink-now version of CdP. This full-bodied wine boasts broad shoulders, a plush, creamy center and a muscular finish loaded with ripe tannins and spice. Give it a few years to mellow, and drink it over the next 15.”

Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Cuvee Tradition), Rhone 2016 750ML ($69.95) $49 special
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 points
“Incorporating 10% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre, the Grenache-dominated 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (there’s a touch of Cinsault) sports a saturated ruby/purple color. It shows hints of new oak in its black raspberries, blackberry, cured meats, crushed violets and spice-driven aromatics. This gives way to a rich, incredibly concentrated base cuvée that could easily be mistaken for the Vieille Vignes from another good year. Polished, concentrated and young, it’s going to need bottle age.”
Joe Czerwinski-Wine Advocate 93 points “The 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape exhibits more dark fruit than I would’ve expected, with black cherries, black olives and tar all mingling on the nose. In the mouth, the blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah and 5% Cinsault is full-bodied, rich and velvety, with a lush, lingering finish. Easy to drink now, it should age for at least a decade just on its sheer concentration and ripeness.”

Domaine de Saje Marquis Anselme Mathieu Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2015 750ML ($69.95) $49 special
Wine Advocate 96 points
“I enjoyed all of the wines from this estate, but I was blown away by the complexity and purity of the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Marquis Anselme Mathieu, which was made in concrete and aged in foudre. Not only does it show beautiful cherry and stone fruit notes, it layers on hints of clove, allspice, garrigue and green peppercorn. There’s ample weight and texture on the palate, with the plush tannins drawing to a silky, spicy finish that lingers for minutes.”

Chateau de Saint Cosme Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2016 750ML ($59.95) $39 special
Wine Advocate 94-96 points
“Blended, but still aging in barrel, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will likely be bottled in March 2019. Brandied cherries and dried spices mark the nose of this full-bodied, plush wine. It’s slightly warm, and certainly rich, but it remains fresh and long on the finish. It should be a beauty.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
May Sale Wine!
Brunier Piedlong Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone 2015 750ML ($59.95) Was $49, Now $41.90 May Sale Special
James Suckling 95 points
“10 hectares of elevated Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this is an hommage to grenache with just a hatful of mourvèdre. Ripe raspberry and red plum pastry aromas. Super silky, plush and layered. Extremely impressive. Shows fluidity and balance, density and lightness. 50% stalks (crushed).”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $47.59
The average listed price is $54
Le Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Safres, Rhone 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Wine Advocate 95 points
“Sourced from the lieu-dit of Les Bédines, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Safres is 95% Grenache, with the remainder being a mix of other permitted varieties. Like the other wines from Le Clos du Caillou, it shows great intensity and purity. Flowering garrigue accents black cherry fruit in this full-bodied, fresh, vibrant and intense wine, which ends with a burst of bright orange zest and waves of silky tannins.”
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Safres comes from more sandstone soils and is mostly Grenache. Spice strawberries, kirsch, dried herbs, flowers, and ample sandy, stony notes all emerge from this fleshy, medium to full-bodied, structured wine that has the classic weightless texture of the estate. This beauty has an exotic edge as well as a distinct salinity and is the finest version of this cuvée to date.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Domaine de Cristia Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2015 750ML ($99.95) $79 special
Wine Spectator 97 points
“This delivers a lush, enticing blast of cassis and raspberry and boysenberry preserve flavors, carried by a silky structure that lets the fruit play out at length, giving adequate time for black tea, singed apple wood, dried anise and fruitcake notes to fill in throughout. Dreamy. Grenache. Best from 2020 through 2040.”

Highlights of the Tuscan Coast

“I cannot think of two recent back-to-back vintages that deliver more consistent excellence and overall enthusiasm in the Bolgheri Superiore category than 2015 and 2016….Wine collectors have plenty of excellent choices to make, especially if they hunger for an authentic taste of Tuscany. The Bolgheri appellation is one of the most ambitious in Italy, and these two over performing vintages (2015 and 2016) are quietly driving a quality revolution that has energized the entire base of vino italiano.

“Why are these wines so special? The grape varieties of Bolgheri—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah—are perfectly adapted to the unique growing conditions found along the Tuscan Coast in Bolgheri, just south of Livorno and Pisa. Offshore breezes lift off the Tyrrhenian Sea to cool sea-facing vines. Sunbeams bounce off the water surface, creating lasting luminosity during the day. Complex soil patterns give vintners more exciting variables to consider when matching grape varieties, rootstocks and growing sites.

“The 2015 vintage is absolutely exuberant, and this is a word I often repeated when writing these reviews. The wines from this growing season are ample, generous and thickly concentrated with multiple layers of soft, sweet and succulent fruit. The 2016 vintage, on the other hand, is profoundly precise and focused. It shows comparable power and energy to 2015, but this vintage has a tad more acidity (analytically speaking). This adds to the sharp and delineated feel of these beautiful wines.”Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

In Stock Now:

May Sale Wine!
Marchesi Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($29.95) $21.90 special
Case-6 Marchesi Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato Bolgheri, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($179.95) $119 special
James Suckling 94 points
“This second wine shows such a great balance of round tannins and juicy, creamy and chocolate character. Full, flavorful and joyful. Salty and juicy. Savory and even meaty. Drink now or hold.”
Wine Advocate 93+ points “This is absolutely one of the best value wines you will find in Italy and I suspect beyond. The 2016 Bolgheri Rosso Il Bruciato is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah. With more than one million bottles made, there should be no problem finding it at your nearest wine merchant. Once you do locate it, I enthusiastically recommend that you pick up a few cases. This vintage comes together with seamless intensity and smoothness. You get so much dark fruit flavor, paired with soft tannins, spice, smoke and dried blackberry. Il Bruciato pulls off its magic effortlessly. It doesn’t try to be anything other than it is: Delicious.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($279.95) $219 special
Antonio Galloni 98 points
“The 2015 Ornellaia is a dream wine with magnificent balance. All the elements are in the right place. In most vintages, Ornellaia needs time to fully come together, but the 2015 is just impeccable, even in the early going. The warm vintage notwithstanding, winemaker Axel Heinz crafted and Ornellaia is more about finesse and power. The potent, bruising tannins Ornellaia can show as a young wine are nowhere to be found. Bright raspberry jam, mint, white flowers and pomegranate are some of the many notes that punctuate the finish in a memorable Ornellaia that will go down among the great vintages produced at this reference-point estate.”
James Suckling 98 points “The blackberry and blueberry aromas with fresh sage and bay-leaf character are impressive. Stone, graphite and mineral undertones. Full-bodied and silky and refined tannins. Dusty. Elegance and polish. Shows greatness in strength and refinement. A dialed-in, dialed-back Ornellaia. Drink in 2022.”
Wine Spectator 97 points “A big, brooding red, packed with blackberry, plum and earth flavors, all wrapped in spicy oak. Monolithic now, finishing with saline mineral elements, a leafy tobacco edge and dense, mouthcoating tannins. Terrific potential. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2023 through 2038.”

Arriving May 22nd:

“The unstoppable Marilisa Allegrini is upping her attention and investments made to the Poggio al Tesoro estate that she purchased in 2001. During my visit to the winery, she told me that she simply “fell in love with Bolgheri,” and her passion shows in the many personal touches.”Monica Larner, Wine Advocate

Poggio al Tesoro ‘Il Seggio’ Bolgheri, Tuscany 2015 750ML (39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Poggio al Tesoro ‘Il Seggio’ Bolgheri, Tuscany 2015 750ML ($219.95) $179 pre-arrival special
Wine Spectator 93 points
“($60) Fresh black currant and leafy flavors announce this juicy red. Wild herb, graphite and olive notes complete the picture as this unwinds on the lingering aftertaste. Very youthful, yet has all the components, including a dense structure. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2021 through 2033.”
James Suckling 93 points “A super refined and pretty red with sweet tobacco, currant and berry character. Red stone. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Drink now.”

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

Arriving ETA Fall:

Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany 2016 750ML ($279.95) $259 pre-arrival special
Monica Larner-Wine Advocate 98 points
“The 2016 Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia is a wine of extreme complexity and precision. It offers monumental depth with profound layers of black fruit, coffee, licorice and baking chocolate. I tasted this 2016 vintage beside the less-impactful 2015 vintage (which was reviewed last year). These two editions are very different when compared side to side, and this 2016 release is clearly superior in terms of the quality, clarity and intensity of its offerings. This Ornellaia delivers glossy shine and a polished texture that segues to important richness, concentration and textural fiber. It wraps thickly over the palate, imparting waves of sweet dark fruit and dark spice that linger for many long minutes. This beautiful wine is hitting the market now, but collectors will want to put it straight into their cellars for safekeeping.”
Antonio Galloni 96+ points “Just bottled, the 2016 Ornellaia is a dense, powerful wine. Naturally, the 2016 is just at the beginning of its life, but I am struck by how polished the tannins are for such a young wine. Ornellaia is at its best starting around age ten, but there is little doubt the 2016 is a hugely promising wine. Black cherry, chocolate, plum, new leather and a range of spice notes all build into a veritable crescendo of aromas, flavors and textures.”



Rosé of the Day

Venetian Sunshine

The Veneto is home to any number of charming, food friendly wines.  The most notable are names you’ve heard before: Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino—all wines that have a long and proud tradition of charm and usefulness at the table.  A name that should be on that list, but isn’t, is Chiaretto, the traditional rosato from the shores of Lake Garda.  Chiaretto is the rosé counterpoint to the fresh and cheerful Bardolino and the wines display all the charm and freshness you’d hope for given that overlap.  We have an outstanding, inexpensive example in Marchenisi Marcello beautiful bottling.  It’s perfect for the patio, lake or standing next to your grill.  Just make sure you have enough on hand.

In Stock Now:

Marchesini Marcello Chiaretto Classico, Veneto 2017 750ML ($17.95) $11.90 special
Importer Note “Fruity and floral, with notes of fresh bloomed roses, peach and strawberries. Dry and mineral. Chiaretto is the most famous name for rosé wines in Italy and can only be made from the Bardolino zone bordering beautiful Lake Garda in the Veneto region of northern Italy. The ‘lake effect’ makes the Corvina and Rondinella grapes more fruity, and perfect for the production of rose.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!



Trending Wines

A brilliant value in old vine (70+ year) Premier Cru Chablis.
Samuel Billaud Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes, Chablis Premier Cru 2016 750ML ($49.95) $41.90 special
Neal Martin – Wine Advocate 91-93 points
“The 2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons Vieilles Vignes comes from 70-year-old vines raised only in stainless steel. I like the aromatics here…this has a sense of purpose with vivid scents of orange zest and a touch of lychee. The palate is tensile right from the start thanks to that killer line of acidity. There is great depth here and the harmonious finish feels assured and elegant. Great potential and for me this is a serious step up from the Chablis Village and certainly worth the few extra dollars.”

High altitude, cool vintage Pinot from Kelley Fox is a winner.
Scott Paul The Long Run Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2011 750ML ($59.95) $33 special
Josh Raynolds 92 points
“(12.9% alcohol; 20% new oak): Light, bright red. Sexy, high-pitched red berry and floral scents, with notes of star anise, underbrush and sassafras adding complexity. Offers intense raspberry and bitter cherry flavors, along with notes of rhubarb, candied flowers and orange zest. This lithe, focused, pure pinot finishes linear and very long, with echoing floral and spice notes. Pinot purists should definitely check this one out.”
Wine Enthusiast 92 points “Previously labeled as Les Gourmandises, this is now The Long Run in honor of Scott Wright’s completing his first full-length marathon in 2011. It’s all Nysa vineyard fruit, graceful and delicate, scented with rose water and satin smooth. Cranberry and wild strawberry fruit accents lead into a mouthful of cherry soda, delicate but lingering.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Crozes can be hit or miss, but this wine is so on target it’s not funny.
Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone 2016 750ML ($27.95) $24 special
Grapelive 94 points
“Louis Barruol’s Saint Cosme [is] most famous for [the] Gigondas, [yet the] negociant series is one of the great values in the wine world. His northern Rhone lineup especially impresses, with his Crozes-Hermitage always a stand out. This 2016 is no exception with the vintage’s amazing combination of power and poise showing a deep character, but with a lovely freshness of detail and inner energy. Barruol’s deep/dark purple/garnet hued Crozes-Hermitage is 100% Serine clone (a local and an ancient variety of Syrah). [It] is 100% destemmed fruit coming off main sites in the extraordinary hillsides around the villages within Crozes, Larnage, Gervans and Erôme. [The] vineyard plots [are] of sand/clay over granite soils. This vintage was aged in 20% new French oak with the rest being put in 1 and 2 times used cask, with the Syrah seeing about a year of elevage before bottling unfiltered. [This makes] for a rich, ripe and vivid Crozes-Hermitage Rouge with a pure and earthy Syrah personality and a classic regional terroir core and character with a loaded palate of black and blue fruit, spice and savory elements with a raw tannic grip as well as the vintage’s nice acidity that gives this wine an exciting kick in the ass! Barruol notes that his growers… in Tenay, Habrard and Batits sit behind [the] Hermitage hill itself, with the oldest vines having the ability to produce wines that can compete with Hermitage! I do not doubt that and you can feel their presence in vintages such as this, no question. Again this wine is an absolute steal for the price. The Saint Cosme 2016 Crozes surprises for the width and textural feel with beautiful layers of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and black cherry/kirsch fruits along with light camphor/embers, violets, mission fig, cinnamon, black licorice, creme de cassis, peppercorns, and a hint of crushed rock and leather. There is a lot going on here, and the finish is exceptionally lengthy and smooth. It has serious palate impact, while still fresh in details at 13% natural alcohol. It is medium/full in body, perfectly weighted, and I can see it getting better over the next 3 to 5 years, too. Very impressive. It’s a Syrah that delivers on its promises. Delicious stuff. Give [it] air or decant for best results, but [it’s] absolutely magic when paired with rustic/robust cuisine. Drink this Crozes over the next 5 to 10 years.”
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “I loved the 2016 Crozes Hermitage, which comes from granite terroirs located behind Hermitage hill. It offers layers of blackberry fruit, olive tapenade, ground pepper, and violet aromas and flavors. Deep, medium to full-bodied, and seamless, it shows the purity and finesse that’s the hallmark of this vintage.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average listed price is $33
Pink, bubbly, affordable and perfect for summer.
Caves Sao Joao Espumante Rose Bruto, Bairrada 2017 750ML ($24.95) $18 special
Importer note
“Touriga Nacional gives intense rose petal aromas and Baga a bright red fruit character. Cabernet lends depth and herbal notes. Floral tones and red berry fruit lift the nose. On the palate, delicate and persistent bead makes for a silky, rich texture. Bright strawberry and red raspberry on the mid palate, complemented by mineral, white pepper and more floral tones. Racy acidity cuts a beam through the middle, making for a food-friendly sparkler. The singular terroir of Bairrada makes for world-class sparkling wine. The vineyards are planted 20km from the ocean, battered by the northern Atlantic winds for which the area is well known. Méthode traditionelle gives this wine a soft, silky texture, combined with the floral tones and bright fruit of its indigenous varietals.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
A standout Southern Rhone.  This is one for the table and cellar.
Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas La Louisiane Vieilles Vignes, Rhone 2016 750ML ($39.95) $36 special
Jeb Dunnuck 96 points
“Deeply colored, the 2016 Gigondas La Louisiane comes from single vineyard on the lower plain, not far from the estate, and is 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and the balance Syrah and Cinsault. It offers a classic bouquet of dark berry fruits, peppery herbs, garrigue, and obvious minerality. Reminding me of the 2010 with its pure, straight style, it’s full-bodied and elegant on the palate, and is going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age.”

Dry Riesling at the highest level—for far from the highest prices.
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg ‘Bomer’ Riesling Trocken, Mosel 2016 750ML ($37.95) $29 special
Grapelive 94 points
“This Bömer Trocken is amazingly perfumed [and] really highly aromatic at this stage, much more so than when I tried the cask sample (a year ago). It is full of jasmine, rose oil and citrus blossom with a mineral tone… the wine is wonderfully lively, fresh and tangy with loads of dry extract and a light body at this stage. The delicacy is simply dreamy. Johannes Selbach’s 2016’s are remarkable wines, and I’m a huge fan of the Zeltinger Schlossberg site. It is magic and this single block “Bömer” is stunning in detail and unbelievably sexy on the palate with layers of apricot, white peach, passionfruit and tangerine/lime fruits, with a crystalline beauty, as well as flinty shale, verbena, minty tea, candied dried mango and saline notes in a refined Riesling that way over delivers. It’s a class act all the way. Zeltinger Schlossberg is a steep vineyard set on pure blue Devonian slate with the Bömer block being a parcel that sits directly behind the village of Zeltingen. It faces south east and gets reflected light from the Mosel and heat from the town’s rooftops which helps with ripening and the opulent flavors. I wonder if Selbach should join the VDP for his dry Riesling offerings, as this certainly would make for a Grand Cru in my opinion, but then again the price is outstanding the way it is without that GG on the bottle. Still it’s an interesting question. That said, Selbach-Oster’s strength is the balance achieved with generous sugar levels, and their fruity Spatlese and Auslese wines are some of the best in Germany. The “Bömer” is a gorgeous Riesling that should not be missed. It offers exceptional quality and stylistic charm with a heightened impact on the senses. It’s a brilliant dry wine. This one and Selbach’s Ur-Alte Reben Feinherb are my two absolute favorites in the lineup of greatness this Mosel winery has out right now. Both will drink beautifully for years to come.”
Stuart Pigott – jamessuckling.com 93-94 points ” As delicate as it is concentrated, this is a pretty serious wine with a long, sleek very mineral finish. A couple of decades ahead of it.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
This has become a go-to at even less than Produttori’s normale.
Socre Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont 2013 750ML ($41.95) $36 special
Grapelive 92+ points
“The 2013 Socre Barbaresco is a pure and ripe Nebbiolo with striking profile and rich character… Socre’s Barbaresco comes from estate vines in the sub zone of Roncaglie that form the heart and soul of the winery. The soils are formed by 50 million year old deposits of alluvial material, with a composition that is a majority clay, with a limestone base derived from the ancient seabed. I’ve always admired what I’ve tasted from Socre and this 2013 does not disappoint with the vintage’s open knit palate and sweet tannins. It’s a great value to for such pleasing Barbaresco. This winery near the tiny hamlet Tre Stelle, which is a village of Barbaresco, not far from the historic town of Alba, is a label to discover if you’ve not done so. Heady on the nose and richly opulent in the mouth this Barbaresco leads with classic earth, flowers, cedar and minty herbs along with its deep cherry, damson plum and distilled strawberry fruits adding a touch of tar, anise and mineral with air. While 14% natural alcohol, it remains lively and sharply detailed delivering everything in seductive layers and with plenty of charm and vigor. The Socre 2013 is an impressive wine and a real winner for the price. It can be enjoyed now and certainly will be rewarding Nebbiolo for another 5 to 10 years easy.”
Antonio Galloni 92 points “Socré’s 2013 Barbaresco is a terrific example of the vintage at its best. The aromatics alone are enticing. Sweet dark cherry, plum, sage, lavender, rose petal mint and licorice give the 2013 a dark, mysterious quality that is hard to fully describe. Deep and yet also weightless as only Nebbiolo can be, the 2013 hits all the right notes. This is a vivid and impeccable Barbaresco from Socré.”

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

Memorial Day Magnums

Of a Wine Spectator Top 20 Wine

The Wine Spectator Top 100 list always seems to have a number of excellent value wines that are highlighted for high honors. The 2012 Caceres Reserva was one such wine—and it sold out in a heartbeat.  Luckily we’ve secured more of it in magnums, that just arrived.  These are perfect for spring and summer cookouts like Memorial Day, when you want something robust and plenty of it to go around.  It’s gone on the May Sale and you’re not going to beat this price—inexpensive enough to stock up and pour it all summer.

Just Arrived 

#19 Wine Of The Year – Wine Spectator Top 100 2017
Marques de Caceres Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2012 1.5L ($59.95) Was $39, Now $28 May Sale Special 
Case-6 Marques de Caceres Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2012 1.5L ($319.95) Was $219, Now $159 May Sale Special (that’s only $26.50/magnum!)
Wine Spectator 93 points
“Black cherry, currant and floral notes are expressive and alluring, balanced by loamy earth, tobacco and mineral elements that add a savory quality. Firm, well-integrated tannins give support to the polished texture, while orange peel acidity fuels the fresh finish. Drink now through 2027.”

This is the lowest listed price for a magnum in the USA today!
The next best price is $43.97
Want to see all the other wines in the May Sale?
Just click here to view the entire list!


Just Arrived

The Hottest Winemaker in Spain?

Raul Perez has emerged as one of the most exciting Spanish winemakers of the last few years.  He’s done it in an interesting way: not by making over-the-top big fruit and oak bombs, but rather by honing in on the terroirs in Galicia, a relatively unromantic vinicultural region.  Until the late 1990’s, when his mentor Alvaro Palacios started the Petalos/Descendientes project, most of the wines in the region were sold locally, often to pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.

Since then, a number of new wineries have popped up, but most of them are in the Palacios mold—made from around the warm, Mediterranean-climate village of Corullon.  Perez, on the other hand, has walked a different path and focuses on wines made from Atlantic-influence climates in villages like Villadecanes or Cacabelos.  As a result, the wines tend to be impressive, but in an introspective, earthy way.

Winemaking plays a part in that, as well.  Perez prefers indigenous yeasts, neutral vessels and a lot of whole-cluster fermentation in his wine.  Citing the (unlikely) influence of Bartolo Mascarello, he performs a long post-fermentation maceration on his wines as well, which give the wines powerful, yet elegant, structures that complement food exceptionally well.  When you roll all of this together, you understand why Perez is making waves—these are unique and exceptional wines that show off terroirs previously unexplored by serious winemakers.

We’ve acquired a large selection of the wines Perez makes under his own name as well as those off of the La Vizcaina property (which are all single vineyards from a single estate), arriving Friday.  We’ve got some highlights below but you can see all of them on the website by clicking here or looking at the full list at the end of the section.

Just Arrived, In Stock Now:

Raul Perez Ultreia La Claudina Godello, Bierzo 2016 750ML ($59.95) $49 special
Wine Advocate 94 points
“$70. The 2016 Ultreia La Claudina is a white that had a very slow fermentation. It has strong citrus aromatics, notes of lemon and lime, complicated by petrol-like aromas. It’s more fruit driven and less spicy, and it was not a good year for flor (which occurs when the barrels are not topped up and the wine develops a thin veil of yeasts). With time in the glass it developed notes of chamomile and pollen, gaining in complexity but without reaching the subtleness of the 2017. It was a low-yielding vintage, and there are around 1,400 bottles.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 93 points “Limpid yellow-gold. Fresh nectarine, Meyer lemon and pear on the highly perfumed, mineral-tinged nose. Shows very good depth and sharp delineation to its intense citrus and orchard fruit flavors and picks up floral and iodine nuances as the wine opens up. The strikingly long, smoke- and mineral-accented finish features a sexy floral quality and a spicy touch of candied ginger. (Raised in neutral French oak foudres.)”

Raul Perez Ultreia Saint Jacques, Bierzo 2017 750ML ($22.95) $18 special
Case-12 Raul Perez Ultreia Saint Jacques, Bierzo 2017 750ML ($249.95) $199 special (that’s only $16.58/bottle—the lowest listed price on the West Coast today!)
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 93 points
“The clean, floral and 2017 Ultreia Saint Jacques comes mostly from old vineyards from different soils in Valtuille and Villadecanes fermented in stainless steel and oak vats with part of full clusters and matured in used barriques for one year. It’s produced in a fresh and very drinkable way. This is one of the best values from Bierzo and Spain, and a great introduction to Bierzo. It’s a more serious wine than what the wine was when it was first produced, fresh and elegant. It’s very reliable and a great value. There are some 100,000 bottles that were filled in two production runs.”La Vizcaina ‘El Rapolao’, Bierzo 2016 750ML ($39.95) $33 pre-arrival special
Luis Gutierrez-Wine Advocate 95+ points “The cool and elegant character of the El Rapolao plot seems to have been amplified by the weather conditions in the 2016 La Vizcaína El Rapolao. Pérez does not own all the vineyards, so sourcing can sometimes vary within the same vineyard, and since 2016 it comes from two old plots where the Mencía is mixed with other varieties; the wine seems to have gained in depth and complexity as a result. In 2016 he did a slightly shorter maceration and matured the wine in 500-liter oak barrels for a little over 12 months. The vineyard yields well, and the wine is always expressive, balanced and elegant. It seems like slightly higher yields suit it better, and the wines have good tension and an herbal twist that adds to the complexity and freshness. 5,000 bottles produced.”

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La Vizcaina ‘La Vitoriana’, Bierzo 2016 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Wine Advocate 96 points
“The vines at La Vitoriana are from a north-facing part of the vineyard and are extremely old, and the grapes show their best between 13% and 13.5% alcohol. The maceration of the 2016 La Vizcaína La Vitoriana is the longest of all wines from La Vizcaína wines, and it always has very strong balsamic notes. It’s subtle and elegant with a velvety texture, with lots of energy and inner strength. Pérez selects about half of the vineyard, and he feels 2016 is the year that best represents the character of the place. I’d add it’s probably the best vintage so far. 3,000 bottles produced.”

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Raul Perez Ultreia Rapolao, Bierzo 2014 750ML ($69.95) $59 special
Wine Advocate 95+ points
“There is a new Ultreia bottling, the 2014 Ultreia El Rapolao, from a vineyard that now sees five or six different bottlings, sourced from their old vineyards that used to go to the Vizcaína bottling. This is really pretty, with intense floral aromas, spices, a touch of earth and something herbal. The palate is medium-bodied with refined tannins, great balance and a tasty, long, sapid, almost salty finish. There were some 600 bottles produced. it was bottled in January 2017. Outstanding.”

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Looking for even more wines from Raul Perez (in stock and arriving soon)?
Just click here to view the list in our web store or check out the full collection below:

Just Arrived

Bandol’s Secret Summer Style

I’m a sucker for the reds of Bandol, especially in the summertime.  That might be counter intuitive—these are big red wines from a warm part of the world, so why does my desire to drink them increase with the temperature (to a point—above 90 and it’s Spritz time, despite what the NY Times says). I think it’s because the wines retain a freshness to them that’s unique and pair so well with so many grilled foods—there’s something about Bandol that just screams “things cooked over flames.” My go to for a while has been Tempier’s “basic” Bandol rouge.  Like all Bandol, it’s mostly made from Mourvèdre—a grape that slowly ripens, even in the Provençal heat, and retains a beautiful freshness.  Unlike the single vineyards, it’s delicious now.  It’s a big wine, for sure, but the tannins are just soft enough to go with a leg of lamb or some burgers off the grill.  Often, I notice that lovers of Tempier go straight for the “top” cuvees, with the intention of aging them for 20+ years.  The wines are stunning that way, but you miss the joyful, rich fruit of the wines in their youth.  The 2016 is an exceptional vintage for this wine and I’d recommend that you buy this by the case and drink it with abandon. – Saul

Domaine Tempier Bandol, Provence 2016 750ML ($59.95) $45 special
Case-12 Domaine Tempier Bandol, Provence 2016 750ML ($719.95) $499 pre-arrival special (that’s only $41.58/bottle and the lowest listed price in the USA today!) (Re-arriving May 24th)
Importer Note
“75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan from 40+ year old vines on clay and limestone soils.  Destemmed, fermented with indigeous yeasts and then aged 18-20 months in large oak foudres.”

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee La Tourtine, Provence 2016 750ML ($79.95) $59 special
“The La Tourtine parcel lies at a slightly lower elevation, in the Castellet region, and is more homogeneously clay soils. This parcel yields a powerful, rich, concentrated and surprisingly polished Bandol that has the fruit and texture to impress in its youth, yet the concentration to age beautifully.” –Jeb Dunnuck [no reviews for the 2016 vintage]
Importer Note “80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, 10% Cinsault from 40+ year old vines on clay and limestone soils.  Destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts and then aged 18-20 months in large oak foudres.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The average listed price is $79

First Tranche Sold Out, Re-Arriving May 24th:

Domaine Tempier Bandol La Migoua, Provence 2016 750ML ($79.95) $59 pre-arrival special
“Lying outside the village of Le Beausset, the La Migoua vineyard is the highest elevation site of the three and sits at 270 meters above sea level; it consists of diverse clay and limestone soils. Possessing the smallest amount of Mourvèdre (~55%) and the most Grenache, this cuvee is always slightly less powerful and rich than the other two single vineyards, yet is always the most perfumed and complex.” –Jeb Dunnuck [no reviews for the 2016 vintage]
Importer Note “50% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, 26% Cinsault, 4% Syrah from 40+ year old vines on clay and limestone soils.  Destemmed, fermented with indigenous yeasts and then aged 18-20 months in large oak foudres.”

This is the lowest listed price in the USA today!
The next best price is $65.95
The average listed price is $79


Top Values from Eric Solomon

Arriving Early Next Month

Eric Solomon imports some of our favorite value wines.  Familiar labels like Pesquie, Lafage/Bastide Miraflors, Peuch Haut, Mas Donis and Evodia are all estates that the top-notch importer discovered and imports into the US.  These are wines that are exception values in big, bold styles—prime deals if you love reds from California and Washington. They arrive in the early part of the coming months, perfect for partying with and grilling.

Arriving ETA Early June:

Domaine Lafage Cotes du Roussillon Miraflors Rose 2018 750ML ($21.95) $18 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points
“Light pink-colored, the 2018 Miraflors Rosé is another great vintage for this cuvée. It has beautiful white peach, orange zest, and salty sea breeze aromas and flavors in its vibrant, crisp profile. It’s as pure and vibrant as it gets, a classic, Provençal-style beauty to drink over the coming summer months.”

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Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors, IGP Cotes Catalanes 2016 750ML ($17.95) $14 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Domaine Lafage Bastide Miraflors, IGP Cotes Catalanes 2016 750ML ($199.95) $156 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 94 points
” A wine that almost always over-delivers, the 2016 Côtes du Roussillon Bastide Miraflors is, I suspect, the finest vintage for this cuvée to date (it’s in the same league as the off-the-charts 2015). A blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache from Lesquerde and Saint Martin de Fenouillet (both in the northern part of the Roussillon), aged all in older barrels and concrete tanks, it boasts rockstar notes of ripe blackberry fruits, spice, dried garrigue, and hints of chocolate. Possessing a full-bodied, layered mouthfeel, sweet tannins, and sensational purity, it’s another one of those values that almost seems too good to be true. Drink it any time over the coming 3-4 years.”

Domaine Lafage ‘Tessellae’ Carignan Vieilles Vignes, IGP Cotes Catalanes VV 2017 750ML ($17.95) $14 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points
“Moving to the reds, the 2017 Côtes Catalanes Tessellae Carignan (100% Carignan) comes from the Agly Valley and was brought up all in tank. Blackberries, leather, dried herbs, and licorice notes all emerge from this spicy, medium-bodied, silky Carignan that has terrific purity and elegance. It’s another wine from Jean-Marc that over-delivers. Drink it over the coming couple of years.”

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Domaine Lafage Cotes du Roussillon ‘Tessellae’ Old Vines Rouge (GSM) 2017 750ML ($17.95) $14 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 92 points
“The GSM of the estate, the 2017 Tessellae Old Vines checks in as 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre brought up mostly in concrete. Blackberries, kirsch, spice, incense, dried flowers, and baking spice notes all flow to a full-bodied, gorgeously texture effort. It’s another gem from this team.”

This is the only listing in the USA today!
Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Terrasses, Rhone 2016 750ML ($17.95) $14.75 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Chateau Pesquie Ventoux Terrasses, Rhone 2016 750ML ($199.95) $156 pre-arrival special (that’s only $13/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points
“A year in, year out no-brainer is the Terrasses cuvee from this estate, and the 2016 Ventoux Terrasses is no exception. A blend of 70/30 Grenache and Syrah, it offers a terrific perfume of black cherries, wild herbs, dried flowers, and spice. This gives way to a plum, sexy, beautifully textured red that has surprising minerality, medium-bodied depth and richness and fine tannin. I finished a case of the 2005 just last year, and it was still going strong, so while there’s no need to cellar bottle, it will keep nicely for 7-8 years.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “A bit more “serious” than the Edition 1912M, the 2016 Ventoux Terrasses delivers what longtime admirers have come to expect from the estate: ample fruit, complexity, weight and charm. Peppered raspberries and hints of garrigue drive the wine from start to finish, bolstered by fine, silky tannins and balanced acids. This solid value blend of Grenache and Syrah should drink well for 4-5 years from vintage.”
Thanks for reading!