New Releases From the Pride of Rioja
The Legendary Chapoutier—New Wines Plus New May Sales
Hot New Rosé, Foradori, Occhipinti, Passopisciaro and More!!
New Wines from the Alsatian Icon Zind-Humbrecht
Beyond Beaucastel: New Wines from the Heralded Perrin Family
Sneak Peek at Next Week (Value Rhones, Pouilly Fume and More!)
The Finest Portuguese White We’ve Tasted Returns
Featured New Arrival:
The Legendary Lopez de Heredia
The answer to that question is that for all of the grace, complexity, age-worthiness and profundity of the wines, the prices are shockingly low. You can purchase the entry level wine from the greatest traditional Rioja estate for less than $30. You can buy their Reservas (for which the current releases are 2004/6!!) for under $35. Even their great wines–old Gran Reservas, with bottle age, will set you back less than the average bottle of 2010 Mouton.
How can this be?
The idea that you can buy a bottle of Gran Reserva Tondonia from the 1960’s, directly from the winery’s cellar, for the same price or less than a current vintage of top-tier Bordeaux? We don’t think this will last that long. We’ve got some new wines from Lopez coming in–from up and down the range, price wise. They all over-deliver.
R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia ‘Vina Bosconia’ Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2006 750ML ($39.95) $33 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2006 Viña Bosconia Reserva, always more rustic and powerful than the Viña Tondonia, was cropped from a warm and early harvest and is a blend of Tempranillo with 15% Garnacha and 5% Graciano and Mazuelo. This wine matures in used American oak barrels for five years. It has a very developed nose, and as winemaker Mercedes López de Heredia noted, “It could be confused with a Gran Reserva, as I see it more tertiary and developed.” These are amazing wines, clean and complex, with polished tannins and surprisingly good acidity. I have the idea of 2006 as a warmer vintage, but it’s not true throughout Rioja; as I’ve seen with other wines, like the ones from Muga, in this cooler part of Rioja, the vintage was much better. There are some dusty tannins and some flavors that still remind you of fresh fruit. 72,000 bottles were filled in June 2013.”
R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva, Rioja DOCa 2004 750ML ($49.95) $33 special
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2004 Viña Tondonia Reserva is a completely different story. It is a worthy follower of the 2001, the greatest of the Viña Tondonia Reservas of recent times. It has the usual blend and usual levels of alcohol and acidity, bottled after six years in oak barrels. The nose feels savory (if that’s possible–umami?) and developed, with tertiary aromas and good balance between spices, leathery notes, cherries and balsamic notes of cigar box and incense. The palate is both round and crisp, with refined tannins. It has very good balance with subtle acidity and very good persistence.”
Josh Raynolds 93 points “[Reviewed May 2017] (aged for six years in American oak barrels) Deep red. Exotic, oak-spiced red berry liqueur, dried cherry and vanilla aromas are complemented by a smoky overtone. Sweet and pliant in the mouth, displaying a velvety texture to the plush black raspberry, cherry-vanilla and coconut flavors. Shows no rough edges and picks up a suave floral note with air, finishing with excellent clarity, a hint of allspice and round, harmonious tannins.”
Wine Advocate 92 points “The first of the reds here is the 2008 Viña Cubillo Tinto Crianza from a cooler vintage that produced some austere and serious wines–a year with higher acidity and lively fruit. It feels effervescent and it makes you salivate. This is usually a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo from 50-year-old vines that ferments in ancient oak vats, and ages in barrel for three years. This cuvée has increased its quality tremendously since the 1990s. These cooler years provide citric freshness, and a very fine texture and vibrant acidity. This is so easy to drink that it can be dangerous. This was the Rioja clarete fino–the everyday red. It’s both elegant and powerful. Very good value, too. 99,000 bottles produced.”
Josh Raynolds-Vinous 91 points “(aged for three years in American oak barrels) Brilliant ruby-red. Aromas of fresh red berries, cherry pit and pungent herbs, joined in the glass by subtle vanilla and herb nuances. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering lively red currant and bitter cherry flavors that flesh out on the back half. In an energetic style, showing very good finishing energy and smooth tannins framing lingering red fruit.”
Plus A Classic Newly Added to the May Sale
The wines are definitely powerful, the Chapoutier trademark, but with a depth and levity to them that makes them engaging and refreshing. They consistently have earned high praise (read: points) from major critics and are the benchmarks for wines in their various appellations. These are wines that have a magnetic field around them—dense and complex.
We’re highlighting a few fantastic bottlings, most notably the 2013 Hermitage Le Pavillon, Chapoutier’s top bottling. 2013 was an outstanding Northern Rhone vintage (much like in its latitudinal cousin, Barolo) and this wine is as profound as any to come out of the region. We just dropped the price on it and have it featured at the best price in the country, by far.
We also have a pre-arrival offer on the already-incredibly-hyped 2016, these become do-not-miss wines. They’re the vinous equivalent of appointment viewing—new Chapoutier releases are always things to stock up on and well, 2016 seems to be a hybrid of 2015 and 2005—the kind of vintage we won’t miss. These wines are a ways out, but pricing is sharp and we expect them to sell well before they arrive. If we’re out by the time these arrive (and more reviews roll in) don’t say we didn’t warn you.
In-Stock and New to Our May Clearance Sale!
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon, Rhone 2013 750ML ($249.95) Was $219, Now $199, 36+ bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 98+ points “The star of the show in 2013 is the 2013 Ermitage le Pavillon. Coming from the west and eastern edges of the Bessards lieu-dit and aged in 30% new French oak, its sensational black/blue color is followed by the awesome bouquet of cassis, smoked earth, graphite and caramelized meats that could come from no other terroir in the world. Full-bodied, massive, dense, sexy and with a liquid rock-like character that comes out with time in the glass, it has sweet tannin and a blockbuster finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It needs 5-6 years of cellaring and will have 30-40 years of more of ultimate longevity.”
The next best price is 10% higher at $209
The average price is over 50% higher at $316!!
Just click here to view a full list on our website!
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal Rouge, Rhone 2001 750ML ($249.95) $219 special, 5 bottles in stock now
Wine Advocate 94 points “Reminding me of the 2005 (albeit with less concentration) with its classic, straight and focused personality, the 2001 Ermitage le Meal offers lots of gamy meats, olive, bacon fat and dark fruits to go with a medium to full-bodied, seamless, silky and elegant style on the palate. Shining for its purity, elegance and freshness – all of which make it hard to resist today – it’s a great choice for readers looking for a classic, mature Hermitage that’s drinking at point. It should hold for another 10-15 years.”
Wine Spectator 95 points “Offers a solid, dark profile, with baker’s chocolate, loam and warm gravel notes providing the bass line, while a core of plum and blackberry compote waits in reserve. Solidly rendered, showing ample grip, this just needs a little time to unfurl in the cellar. Best from 2019 through 2030.”
Wine Advocate 94 points “One of the broader, more expansive and mouth-filling Hermitage in the vintage, the 2013 Ermitage les Greffieux comes from a site located lower down on the slope, just underneath the Méal and right up next to the town of Tain l’Hermitage. Its inky purple color is accompanied by terrific notes of blackberries, black raspberries, toasted spice, charcoal and roasted meats. Full-bodied, mouth-filling and with rock solid density and depth, its sweet tannin and overall elegant profile — all suggesting it will drink nicely for upwards of two decades.”
Josh Raynolds–Vinous 94 points “Deep ruby. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes fresh red and dark berries, Indian spices, candied violet and incense, lifted by a bright mineral quality. Silky, sweet and energetic on the palate, offering vibrant black raspberry, floral pastille and spicecake flavors that spread out and gain weight with air. Manages to be both powerful and graceful, offering superb back-end punch and velvety tannins that shape the floral finish.”
Arriving in September:
M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages R.I. Rectificando Invenies 2015 750ML ($119.95) $99 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 98 points “As always, the 100% Syrah 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Lesquerde Rectificando Invenies (Ri) shows more minerality than the VIT release and offers blockbuster styled aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, crushed rocks, toasted bread and chocolate. Made in a voluptuous, pedal-to-the-metal style, with huge fruit and texture, it has building tannin and an uber sexy, incredibly layered and decadent palate. Drink it anytime over the coming decade. This cuvee was completely destemmed and aged 18 months in demi-muids.”
The next best price is $109.99
M. Chapoutier Le Clos, Saint-Joseph 2016 750ML ($149.95) $119 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95-97+ points “Much more mineral-driven, the 2016 Saint Joseph Le Clos comes from an early ripening parcel located south of Tournon, high up on the granite slopes overlooking the Rhône River. It sports an inky color as well as a liquid rock-like character in its black and blue fruits, pepper, bay leaf and violet bouquet. Rich, full-bodied, incredibly pure, and sensationally concentrated, with fine, fine tannin and a great finish, it’s a beautiful wine that could match what was achieved in 2015.”
The average price is $126
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96 points “One of the finest Crozes out there is the 2016 Crozes Ermitage Les Varonniers, which comes from the northern part of the appellation (right next to Hermitage) and broken granite soils. It’s a full-bodied, impressive barrel sample that has lots of minerality, ample black and blue fruits, and background spice and licorice aromatics. It shows the pure, polished, elegant style of the vintage nicely. This cuvée is also one of the longest-lived Crozes-Hermitage out there and is capable of lasting 20+ years.”
The average price is $54
Jeb Dunnuck 95-98 points “Tasted out of tank, the deep ruby/purple-colored 2016 Châteauneuf-Du-Pape Barbe Rac (100% Grenache raised all in concrete) offers a deep, intense bouquet of smoke red and black fruits, garrigue, black pepper and exotic spice. A big, rich, incredibly unctuous tank sample, it has building tannin and sensational purity.”
Jeb Dunnuck 96-98 points “Last of the 2016-barrel samples, the 2016 Châteauneuf-Du-Pape Croix de Bois comes from a parcel on the eastern side of the appellation and is, as always, 100% Grenache brought up in concrete. It’s similarly colored to the Barbe Rac and offers the classic ripe, pure, sexy style of the cuvée. Blackberries, blueberries, crushed herbs, pepper and beautiful minerality all emerge from this full-bodied, uber-concentrated, ultra-pure 2016 and like a lot of 2016s might just be another best yet.”
The average price is $78
Arriving in October:
Ferraton Pere & Fils Cornas Les Grands Muriers Rouge, Rhone 2015 750ML ($69.95) $59 pre-arrival special
Case-6 Ferraton Pere & Fils Cornas Les Grands Muriers Rouge, Rhone 2015 750ML ($399.95) $319 pre-arrival special
Decanter 98 points “Ferraton Père & Fils was established in 1946 by Jean Orëns Ferraton. His son, Michel, continued his work and added further to the range of wines. Today, Ferraton Père & Fils produces a huge range of Rhône wines from Hermitage to St-Péray, with added help from long-time friend Michel Chapoutier who, in 1998, introduced new appellations to the business, as well as creating a plot-selection approach and biodynamic practices. These changes have put Ferraton Père & Fils and winemaker Damien Brisset in the spotlight. Les Grands Mûriers is one of three Cornas wines produced. The vines are grown mainly on decomposed granite soils with the rest on clay and limestone. Gearoid Devaney MS: A classic Cornas that is brimming with ripe fruit and delicious spices. There is a beguiling blood-red meat and iron element here, and great energy and tension from the tannins. It needs time, but the finish is long. Simon Field MW: A traditional wine that is rigorous and magnificently unapproachable at present. It is tannic, firm and long; I am so pleased that this style still persists and flourishes – bravo! Matt Walls: Dense, herbal and oaky aromatics unfold elegantly onto a full-bodied, powerful and lush palate. It is full of plush fruit and muscular, thunderous power in an old-school style. There is a lot to enjoy here all the way to a long finish lengthened by fine tannins and piercing acidity. Drinking Window 2022 – 2034.”
New Arrivals: Rosé
100% Pinot Noir, Farmed Sustainably
Case-12 M Plouzeau Chinon Rive Gauche Rose, Loire 2017 750ML ($189.95) $149 special (that’s only $12.42/bottle!)
Direct press Cab Franc, hand-harvested, natural yeasts only. Organic.
Case-12 Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Terre de Maimbray Rose, Loire 2017 750ML ($299.95) $249 special (that’s only $20.75/bottle!)
Pinot Noir. Organic.
Marchesini Marcello Bardolino Chiaretto Classico, Veneto 2017 750ML ($17.95) $11.90 special
Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara.
Winery note “[Translated] Dry. Fruity and floral on the nose with notes of green apple, peach, banana, vanilla, rose and geranium. Taste is fresh, dry and mineral.”
Robert Parker 93-95 points “The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley spends 18 months in a combination of 30% new and 70% used French and American barrels. It is another big boy at 15.4% natural alcohol. This wine, which was not yet in bottle, is fabulous, and there are 42,000 cases of it. One of the strongest efforts yet from the Martinis, this cuvée still sells at a modest $38.00 – a fair price for something this compelling. The wine has an opaque purple color, a beautiful nose of blueberries, blackcurrants, licorice, camphor and graphite. The wine is full-bodied and multilayered on the palate with sensational richness and length. It should drink well for 20-25 years.”
Jeb Dunnuck 90-92 points “The 2016 Crozes-Hermitage Mise En Bouche comes from the southern parts of the appellation and is aging in a mix of tank, used barrels and foudre. It offers terrific red and black fruits, spice, tapenade and peppery herb aromatics, medium to full-bodied richness, moderate tannin and a great finish. It’s a hidden little gem in the vintage.”
Wine Advocate 90 points “A blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah that’s brought up all in concrete tanks, the 2015 Côtes du Rhône Cercius is a gorgeous, sexy and seamless Southern Rhone that offers loads of sweet cherry, black raspberries, lavender, licorice and Provencal herbs in its medium to full-bodied. hard to resist style. It goes down way too easy, and is a total steal at the price. Buy a case and drink bottles over the coming 2-3 years.”
Winery notes “Fuoripista narrates an alternative route, a pathway out of the common, a different perception and vision of nature. Fuoripista Pinot Grigio arises from the cooperation of Foradori and Marco Devigili, biodynamic winegrower of the Campo Rotaliano, and expresses the essence of a variety widely diffused in Trentino. More than 8 months of skin contact in amphorae (tinaja from Villarobledo, Spain) liberates and emphasizes the delicate character of this Pinot Grigio.”
Winery note “Grotte alte is a territory: the limestone ridges on which Vittoria, my hometown stands. But it is also a wine, my Cerasuolo Di Vittoria, the result of Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes, the summary of my Sicily. It is a mediterranean wine that preserves the taste of the sea and all the air and the Iblei Mountains thermal excursions. It is harmonious and it has experienced a long ageing. Perhaps it is the most ambitious of my wines. Elegant and proud.”
Planeta ‘La Segreta’ Nero d’Avola Sicilia, Sicily 2016 750ML ($17.95) $14 special
Case-6 Planeta ‘La Segreta’ Nero d’Avola Sicilia, Sicily 2016 750ML ($99.95) $79 special
100% Nero d’Avola
Case-6 Passopisciaro ‘Passorosso’ Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2014 750ML ($299.95) $219 special (that’s only $36.50/bottle!)
Passopisciaro ‘Passorosso’ Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily 2014 1.5L ($99.95) $79 special
Ian D’agata–Vinous 97 points “Bright red-ruby. The captivating nose combines strawberry, raspberry, minerals, violet and flint aromas. Creamy-sweet but amazingly light on its feet, offering palate-staining, perfumed flavors of soft red berries, ripe red cherry, vanilla, aromatic herbs and crushed rock. Rich, ripe and suave, but displays a penetrating, saline and energetic quality that gives this beauty a three-dimensional mouthfeel and a light-on-its-feet quality. Finishes with great length and wonderfully polished tannins. Absolute knockout wine: from a memorable vintage on Etna, this is most likely the best Passorosso ever (in earlier vintages, it used to be called simply Passopisciaro). Mainly Nerello Mascalese.”
Jeb Dunnuck 91 points “A custom cuvée made by Eric Solomon and Rafael de Haan, the 2015 Hazana Vinas Viejas is a classic, old school styled effort based on 85% Tempranillo and 15% Graciano aged 10 months in French and American oak. With medium to full-bodied richness, excellent concentration, and lots of chocolatey dark fruits, new leather, dusty earth, and graphite notes, it’s one hell of a wine for 14 dollars.”
Icons of Alsace
We went a few years without being able to get ahold of the Zind-Humbrecht wines and it’s certainly not for lack of trying. They left their old importer and were homeless (in that sense) for a while. When we heard the wines were in the market again we dropped everything to snap them up and are pleased to offer them for a second year in a row. We are quite proud of the range – many of these new arrivals were initially not intended for release in the USA. You’ll be glad we kept at it when you see the unreal deal on these wines and have them in your glass!
Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Roche Calcaire, Alsace 2015 750ML ($49.95) $33 special
The next best price is $42.80
James Suckling 95 points “Lemon pie and almond aromas. Steel undertones. Full body, dense and layered. Big and rich style yet it’s dry. An oily profile yet turns dry and satisfying. Drink now. Made from organically grown grapes.”
James Suckling 96 points “A dense and linear riesling with sliced limes, lemons and flint. Bright and precise. Full-bodied, layered and beautiful. Great finish to this. Big and flavorful. Yet not showy. Drink now.”
The next best price is $89.94
James Suckling 97 points “A fabulous 2014 with amazing aromas of spices, light cheese and walnuts. Full body, dried lemons, limes, stones and saltiness. Pumice as well and a layered, velvety texture. A joy to taste. Made from biodynamically grown grapes. Drink now.”
The next best price is $89.94
James Suckling 93 points “Love the lemon rind and hints of cream and stones. Some flinty undertones. Full-bodied, bright and beautiful. Tangy, lime finish. Drink now.”
The next best price is $69.99
Wine Advocate 95 points “The 2015 Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl is in fact a Vendange Tardive that was picked at 16.66% potential alcohol, since it stopped fermentation at 12.5% and 70.7 grams of residual sugar. However, Oliver did did not announce that he would produce a VT in the Windsbuhl, so he isn’t allowed to sell this wine as a such. Even without the Vendange Tardive predicate, the 2015 is a great and age-worthy Gewurz that is rich, sweet and concentrated but enormously well structured. It is made for long-term bottle aging of 10, 20 or 30 years. Tasted in February 2017.”
Wine Advocate 97 points “Apricot preserves, candied violets, licorice, marzipan, rowan, gardenia, white raisin, and tangerine mark both the nose and palate of the 2004 Riesling Brand Vendange Tardive, a wine of enormous botrytized ripeness, high acidity, and low alcohol, but in none of these respects quite as extreme as the Clos Windsbuhl. Here there is already elegance, refinement and lift, a ravishing combination of textural richness and palpable extract with delicacy and buoyancy, and an extraordinarily clear, pure finish with a mineral dimension as unmistakable as it is ineffable. Compared with the Clos Windsbuhl, the density here is allied to more winsome creaminess of texture (with patisserie-like flavors of vanilla cream and marzipan), and the finish – while no less penetrating and fresh – caries an intricate interplay of flavors and is not at all severe. This breathtakingly beautiful Riesling is too complex and ravishing today to tell you “wait!- but it can certainly be safely followed for a quarter century.”
Arriving Next Month:
Famille Perrin Gigondas Domaine du Clos des Tourelles, Rhone 2015 750ML ($59.95) $49 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 97 points “The finest vintage to date, the 2015 Gigondas Le Clos des Tourelles comes from a tiny vineyard located just inside the village of Gigondas. Incorporating a touch of Syrah, this Grenache dominated beauty reveals a deep ruby/purple color as well as off the chart notes of black raspberries, black cherries, pepper, garrigue, and tons of that classic Gigondas spice. I wrote “Wow” more than once in my notes and this full-bodied 2015 has ultra-fine tannin, perfect balance, and a stacked mid-palate. Give bottles 2-3 years and drink over the following 15+ years.”
Famille Perrin Vinsobres Les Hauts de Julien, Rhone 2015 750ML ($49.95) $39 pre-arrival special
Jeb Dunnuck 95 points “The 2015 Vinsobres Les Hauts De Julien comes from the Vinsobres region, which is a cooler terroir located in the northern part of the southern Rhône. Based largely on very old vine Syrah blended with Grenache, it offers a vibrant purple color as well as a sensational bouquet of blueberries, cracked pepper, violets, lavender, and exotic spices. Incredibly textured, full-bodied, deep, and opulent, with awesome purity of fruit, it’s another sensational vintage for this cuvée that would pass undetected in a blind lineup of top Cornas. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.”
Arriving Next Week!
Brand New Value Rhones
and the Return of a Sauvignon Staple!
Arriving This Coming Friday:
Domaine Font Sarade Gigondas Cuvee Les Pigieres, Rhone 2016 750ML ($27.95) $21.90 pre-arrival special
Wine Advocate 92 points “A super effort, the 2016 Gigondas les Pigieres boasts complex notes of dried herbs layered over ripe cherries and raspberries. This full-bodied, unoaked blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah manages to be fully ripe and creamy in texture without showing any alcoholic warmth. Drink it over the next decade.”
Case-12 Domaine Font Sarade Vacqueyras Premier Vin, Rhone 2015 750ML ($299.95) $259 pre-arrival special (that’s only $21.58/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 93 points “My favorite in the line, the 2015 Vacqueyras Le Premier Vin checks in as 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre that spent 14 months in French oak. It’s a killer bottle of wine and has lots of blackberries, cassis, smoked herbs and licorice aromas and flavors. Ripe, sexy and opulent, with low acidity and sweet tannin, drink it over the coming 7-8 years.”
Case-12 Domaine Font Sarade Vacqueyras Les Hauts de la Ponche, Rhone 2016 750ML ($249.95) $199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
Jeb Dunnuck 91+ points “The 2016 Vacqueyras Les Hauts de La Ponche checks in as 50% Grenache and 25% each of Syrah and Mourvedre, completely destemmed and aged all in concrete tanks. It’s another early bottled wine from this estate that has medium to full-bodied richness, lots of black, black fruits, charcoal, and graphite aromatics and solid concentration. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age, which is unusual for a Vacqueyras.”
Case-12 Andre Dezat & Fils Domaine Thibault Pouilly-Fume, Loire 2017 750ML ($269.95) $199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
VinopolNote: The Dezat family name is basically etched into the historical record of Sancerre; municipal records refer to the Dezats as early as 1550. In 1948, André Dezat took over his family’s vineyard holdings and took an active role in promoting the domaine as well as Sancerre-at-large. His sons Louis and Simon joined him in the 1970’s, and in the ensuing years have expanded to now include Sancerre, Menetou Salon, and Pouilly Fume.
Arriving June 1st:
Aline Bonfils Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Tradition, Rhone 2015 750ML ($39.95) $29 pre-arrival special
Grapelive 93 points “Vigneron Stéphanie Bonfils, following her mom’s absolute love of Grenache, continues to craft Domaine de Gour de Chaule’s Gigondas with that focus. 85% of the vineyards [are] planted to Grenache, with about 10% dedicated to Syrah and Mourvedre, along with a tiny amount to Cinsault. This historic estate was started in 1900, but was not selling their own wine until the early 1970’s and not a serious domaine until Bonfils the elder got things rolling in the 1980’s. Since then [the estate] has made a significant impact joining the greats of the region with traditional and authentic wines, joining the classic likes of Saint-Damien, Saint-Cosme, du Cayron, Grapillon d’Or, Montirius, Montmirail, Château du Trignon and La Bouissiere, as well as the new guys on the block L’Ourea and Kermit Lynch’s Les Pallieres. Similar to the more famous Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas is blessed with the sunny Mediterranean climate and clay and limestones soils, but they can be fresher and certainly less costly, with some having higher elevation vines that give a vibrant intensity to these heady full flavored Rhone reds. The average age of the Grenache vines planted within the Domaine de Gour de Chaule plots is 55 years old. Stéphanie uses whole cluster fermentations with cement cuves employed for both primary and malo (secondary) before being racked to used large foudres (oak cask) to rest, for about 18 months prior to bottling unfixed and unfiltered. This 2015 is brilliantly detailed, full bodied and shows the vintage’s depth and concentration perfectly. It delivers a warm rush of Grenache purity and character with sweet strawberry, boysenberry, kirsch and plum along with dusty stones (chalky), light floral notes, peppery spices, classic lavender (garrigue) and anise. This feels rich and textured in the mouth gaining earthy elements and while deeply fruit driven there is a spine of fine ripe tannins that gives a sense of structure that holds the weight in check. It never feels too heavy or dull. It’s a beautiful old school Gigondas that really impresses the palate. Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, Domaine de Gour de Chaule Gigondas “Cuvee Tradition” is always a treat and a bell weather for the year. This 2015 [is] an absolute must for Rhone fans. Enjoy it for its youth now or put a few away for exceptional mid-term drinking, as it will reward some patience. Best from 2018 to 2026.”
Returns Next Week
Arriving Friday, May 25th:
Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2015 750ML ($24.95) $18 pre-arrival special
Case-12 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro, Vinho Verde 2015 750ML ($279.95) $199 pre-arrival special (that’s only $16.58/bottle!)
Wine Advocate 94 points “The 2015 Loureiro (bottled January 19, 2016) is unoaked, dry and comes in at 11.5% alcohol. I’ve been talking a lot about the great 2015s and also about how well this estate has performed over the years. (Check out the reviews of library wines this issue.) If it seems that the fates are pointing in this direction–you bet. The category, perhaps, also deserves some reevaluation upwards, but right here, right now, this has to go down as one of the best moments for the “regular” Loureiro in this fine estate’s history. (Admittedly, as I see some older ones continue to age and notably improve with age, the competition is increasingly stiff. They’ve exceeded expectations.) In any event, this 2015 is astonishingly wonderful, gloriously fresh and alive. It is one of the more aromatic wines I’ve had from Ameal. It is fun to just smell in its youth, very floral and almost exotic. It is also remarkably powerful. If it seemed quite nice on the first day, then on the second day the big acidic core took over, a hint of herbs popped up and it became even more powerful. The fine tension on the finish allows the fruit to linger and grip the palate. The juicy finish can make you drool. Reasonable in body for the grape, which in some years is more on the ethereal side, it seems multilayered, transparent and bursting with controlled flavor. As good as it was on the first two days, it seemed like the essence of Loureiro on the third day. As much as I preferred the library versions this issue for drinking now, here is an example of how delicious and exciting they can be when young, too. In that regard, this is built to age and we might have to wait a few years to be sure how truly great it is. If you don’t know top-end Vinho Verde and Ameal, you may be shocked at that. This will become more complex and (I suspect) flesh out over the next few years. It is, if anything, a bit too aggressive just now. You get this amazing value only because owner Pedro Araújo labors in Vinho Verde, where the top wines are undervalued. Take advantage. This is something you can buy a case (or two) of and likely drink happily over the next 15+ years. It will be something different and wonderful every time you come back to it.”
Thanks for reading!