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Let's start with the Northern Rhone, as arrivng on Tuesday are the entire range of superb value Biodynamic wines produced by the Grenier family at Domaine des Amphores! Each one of these wines is a superb expression of the granitic terroirs in and around the appellations of Saint-Joseph and Condrieu, providing delicious drinking and sensational value. All these wines are highly recommended, but we'd like to pick out a few that are really quite unique: the 2019 Vin de France "Mornen Noir" an ancient grape possibly related to Chasselas and/or Mondeuse yielding a bright vibrant wine with black fruit flavors and low alcohol. The wine is quite Syrah-like showing vibrant aromas of blackberry and blueberry with violet and stone, surprisingly elegant and long, really worth trying; the 2019 Vin de France "Sphé'érique, a de-classified Saint-Joseph fermented and aged in a round vat, with only 10mg/l of SO2, a lush and silky natural Syrah; and the 2019 Viognier "Les Iris" which mimics a very good Condrieu with it's complex, floral and elegant fruit.
Two other returing favorite estates from France - both certified Biodynamic - are Sandrine Henriot in Morgon, who recently took over from Roland Pignard, and Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. The wines of Sandrine Henriot are among the most terroir-expressive of all Beaujolais, always showing flavors of earth and minerals beneath the dense, dark fruits. The Jurançons of Chateau Lapuyade are big and bold - aged in barriques, they are full-bodied and extremely complex - we particularly love the 100% Petit Manseng "Cuvee Dentelle!"
We also have some West Coast favorites back with new releases! One of our favorite Willamette Valley wine duos, Division, had an excellent 2019 season and we are rewarded with beautiful the Pinot Noir 'Un' and Chardonnay 'Un', each a blend of fruit selected from across the many organically or biodynmaically farmed vineyards they work with to showcase the character of the vintage. From the outstanding Brick House vineyard, or farm, as they call it, is a stunning Pinot Noir from biodynamically farmed Dijon clones that blew me away; a perfect balance of lightness and concentration of flavor. Just over the border into California are a couple of new alpine wines from the Trinity Lakes AVA, a remote, rugged landscape with just a handful of wineries. Chad Hines of Methode Sauvage started a new line called Iruai to utilize the Jura/Savoie varities found in this region and the wines are delightful and sadly in limited supply.
We love Condrieu, but Viognier from other regions can often be cloying and uninteresting. This example from the Grenier family in Chavanay, however, is elegant and outstanding. It comes from Viognier vines just south of the Condrieu AOC, always tended organically, certified since 2002, and Biodynamic since 2016. Like stepping into the sunshine, this wine is a bedazzlement of friut and floral tones. Yellow flowers, white blossom, honeysuckle, apricot, peach, canteloupe and underripe pineapple, with slight hints of almond, citrus and lemon peel all playing on the alluring nose of this wine. There is a unctuousness on the palate that is beautifully balanced by a lively acidity. The finish introduces a hint of fresh cut hay and that particular late summer evening light. (For those of you comparing with the last vintage, the 2019 seems a bit more concentrated, with a bit more brightness and acidity than the very ripe 2018) A lovely Viognier and a great value!
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2017 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own.
Régine and Jean-Joseph Aurisset of Chateau Lapuyade/Clos Marie-Louise produce sensational dry, moelleux and dessert wines from Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng on their Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, southeast of Pau. The soils are primarily "poudingue," a conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposited during the formation of the Pyrenees, with sandy clay topsoil. The Aurissets prefer a very full-bodied style of Jurançon - all their wines are aged in used barriques which gives amazing complexity and phenomenal richness to the 100% Petit Manseng Cuvée Marie-Louise. This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses, and for apple and mince pies on Thanksgiving! Absolutely superb! (The wine drinks beautifully for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.) David Lillie
From 100% Syrah in Chavanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting, in the early 90's, and now Biodynamic as well. The 2019 "Les Iris" Syrah is similar to the exuberant 2018 but perhaps a bit brighter and with a bit more concentration and depth. The wine shows cool aromas of blackberry and blueberry with hints of stone, mint, smoke and violet, quite fresh and pretty. The palate is dense and elegant, with cool acidity and well-structured blackberry and black raspberry fruit, with a fresh earthy finish with mineral, citrus and ripe red and black fruit flavors. Terrific length and depth for a wine at this price. This is a very versatile wine to serve cool with grilled chicken, pork and full-flavored cheeses or to sip by itself, slightly chilled. It's an authentic and delicious wine and a great value! David Lillie
And now for something completely different... While tasting at Domaine des Amphores with Philippe and Véronique Grenier last winter we noticed a small barrel with "Mornen Noir" scrawled on the front in chalk. A grape apparently native to the area between the Rhone and Loire rivers south of Lyon, it had been grown by Philippe's grandfather Louis - now the Greniers and a few other growers in Chavanay are once again making wine from this ancient variety. Possibly related to Chasselas and/or Mondeuse, the grapes yield a bright vibrant wine with black fruit flavors and low alcohol. The 2019 is quite Syrah-like showing vibrant aromas of blackberry and blueberry with violet and stone. The palate is a bit lighter than a Syrah, and very mineral, with bright flavors of blackberry and red currant that blend nicely with earth, licorice and stone flavors in the sapid finish. Beautiful wine! We've just received 60 more bottles of this rare juice, guaranteed to stump your sommelier friends in a blind tasting. David Lillie
The Amphores "7 Lieux" is from young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu. Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they are certified Biodynamic as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. 50 - 60% de-stemmed, aged 50% in vat, 50% in 2 to 10 year-old demi-muid and foudre. The 2019 is a beautiful Saint-Joseph for current drinking or short-term cellaring. It shows a deep red/black color with elegant high-toned floral blackberry, black raspberry and black olive aromas with hints of earth, citrus and coffee. The palate is balanced and well-structured with blackberry and black plum, finishing with black fruits, earth and firm tannins. With aeration the finish broadens with elegant black fruit liqueur, licorice, coffee and black olive. This lovely Saint-Joseph will accompany lamb shank, pork stews and grilled meats - this is quite delicious now, drink over the next 5 - 8 years - it's a beautiful wine and a great value! David Lillie
"Les Mesanges" is a cuvée of Saint-Joseph made from 40 to 50 year-old organic Syrah vines on biotite granite soils in the vineyards of "Pecher" and "Vauturerie" at Chavanay, 30 - 40% whole cluster, aged 18 months in 600 liter barrels, 5 to 8 years-old. This is the most structured and age-worthy of the Domaine des Amphores Saint-Josephs and is a full-bodied, elegant wine in the excellent 2019 vintage. The wine will benefit from a few years of aging, and needs a bit of time open if drinking now, then shows generous aromas of ripe blueberries, smoked green olive and thyme and is generally brimming with energy and life. The palate is ripe and supple with black fruit liqueur, menthol, spice, earth and mineral flavors, quite intense but very bright, lifted by firm acidity, really showing the Biodynamic farming. It has terrific persistence and freshness and was a perfect companion to roast chicken and summer squash. This will drink beautifully over the next 5 to 10 years.
The 2019 Vin de France "Sphé-érique" from the Grenier family in Saint-Joseph is an elegant Syrah from Biodynamic farming that is fantastically delicious! The wine is from young massale-selection Syrah vines on granite with shallow clay soils in the Richagnieux vineyard at Chavanay. It ferments and ages in a unique round vat. The wine shows superb very bright pure strawberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit, really lovely, which continue on the palate that is fresh, refreshing and pure with great focus and length. There is minimal added SO2 which allows the fragrant, floral aromas and fruit flavors to be fully expressed. Serve this beautiful Syrah cool with charcuterie, grilled lamb and pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses. It's lovely wine and a testament to the great farming and winemaking by Véronique and Philippe Grenier and family. David Lillie
Domaine des Amphores, a long-time organic and Biodynamic estate in Chavanay, just south of Condrieu, produces excellent Saint-Josephs and Condrieu as well as red and white Vin de Pays. "Detour" is made from Roussanne, Clairette and Marsanne - it's a delicious Northern Rhone wine and one of the best values in the store. The 2019 is ripe, round and beautifully balanced with aromas of apricot, almond, lemon, hay and stone - the palate is supple and elegant with stone fruits, anise and mineral flavors, finishing with ripe white fruits, firm acidity and saline minerals. Delicious by itself or with fish or chicken in sauce and mild cheeses. This great value will open up nicely over the next few years and is highly recommended! David Lillie
From Veronique, Philippe and Remi Grenier at Domaine des Amphores, certified organic and Biodynamic. 80% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne on granite soils in "Le Monteillet" at 300 metres altitude. The 2019 shows bright gold/bronze color, subtle aromas of hay, apricot, white peach, citrus peel, melon and wet stone. The palate is ripe, dense and elegant with stone fruits and mineral flavors, textured and earthy, finishing with floral white peach, minerals and firm acidity. Serve with a full-flavored ceviche, fish in sauce, white meats, goat cheeses... Lovely wine! David Lillie
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Château Lapuyade produces a complex, ripe, exotic style of "Sec" and the lovely 2017 is no exception. Produced from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, the wine shows a bright gold color; ripe aromas of exotic fruit, lemon zest, butterscotch, honeysuckle and hay; the palate is ripe and round with spiced pear, buttery lemon, earth and mineral flavors; very bright citrusy acidity in the finish with hay and minerals. This will evolve nicely re-corked in your fridge or with five to ten years of cellaring. Not for everyone perhaps, but this is really a unique and intense bottle of Jurancon! Serve with chicken or fish in sauce, full-flavored cheeses, patés and Asian foods. (PS - at 14.5% alcohol this wine escaped the first round of tariffs - enjoy it at $13.99 while you can!)
We're very excited about this new cuvée from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon. Made from 100% Petit Manseng from 45 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 5 cases.The 2017 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, apricot, almond, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with perhaps a bit of residual sugar. The finish is very long with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
This is a beautiful Gamay from the talented Noella Morantin, who acquired part of the Clos Roche Blanche vineyard and other parcels above the Cher River in Pouillé, Touraine. The 2019 Boudinerie is vinified in carbonic maceration, and shows lovely aromas of morello cherry, black raspberry and violet, quite ripe and pretty. The palate is lush, lively and bright, with nice density and length showing ripe, sappy red fruits, earth and mineral flavors that continue in the refreshing finish. This is a very pretty and versatile wine that will accompany charcuterie, chicken and pork dishes and mild cheeses. Serve cool and enjoy!
Sandrine Hanriot took over the Biodynamic vines of Roland Pignard in Morgon, Regnie and Beaujolais-Villages. The 2019 BV shows a deep red color with aromas of ripe cherry and red currant, with black fruits on the palate and a finish with deep fruits and a bit of funk due to the low SO2. For lovers of natural wines...
Sandrine Henriot's parcel in Regnié has more clay in the soil than in Morgon and always gives a well-structured wine. The 2018 shows a deep black/purple color and high-toned aromas of blackberry and black raspberry with violet and citrus peel, quite elegant. The palate is supple and deep but not heavy with lovely black raspberry, cherry and raspberry confit, quite sapid and long with firm acidity and finishing with lingering red fruit and mineral flavors. Delicious now this will open up over the next few years, drink until 2028. David Lillie
We're very proud to have the lovely Morgons of Sandrine Henriot at Chambers Street. The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of Saint-Joseph above Villié-Morgon. Biodynamic farming, with no SO2 added until a minimal dose before bottling. The fermentation is with wild yeasts with a relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. The 2018 shows a bright, deep black/red color and a very perfumed nose of ripe strawberry and black raspberry fruit, quite floral and fresh. The palate is round and supple with a lovely melange of sappy black and red fruits with earth and spice. This needs to open a bit but is already a delicious Morgon that will accompany charcuterie and grilled foods this summer, peak drinking 2022 - 2026. David Lillie
The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of Saint-Joseph above Villié-Morgon, formerly belonging to Roland Pignard. Biodynamic farming, with no SO2 added until a minimal dose before bottling. The fermentation is with wild yeasts with a relatively short period of carbonic-maceration. The cuvée "Fût de Chêne," like the Pignard "Tradition," spends 10 months in old barrels after aging in vat. The 2018 shows a deep red/black color and a bit of reduction on opening followed by elegant aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberry. The aromas are a bit brighter than in the regular Morgon, and the palate shows the extended aging, being a bit more elegant and long than the regular cuvée, with earthy strawberry and raspberry fruit with a long finish of minerals, firm acidity and pretty red fruits. This will age nicely, but is delicious now, try it with grilled pork or lamb this summer. David Lillie
The name Giallo is a reference to the pulpy Italian films to come out in the 60's and 70's and speaks to the intention of this fun blend of Teroldego, Refosco, and Nebbiolo, all originally from the Italian alps. The grapes are fermented whole cluster, going through two weeks of carbonic maceration, and then almost two months of daily foot-treading for extraction, then aged for eight months in neutral barrels. The result is surprisingly light but with firm, tongue-coating tannins to give it structure. On the nose are brambly black fruits, crushed violets, dried rosemary, and a touch of VA (in true Italian style), and the palate shows a brighter, crunchier side with red currants, cranberry, and fresh herbs. Serve just slightly chilled with a plate of sausage and peppers! Michelle DeWyngaert
A beloved wine in the previous vintage, this year we were only able to get one case, so we sadly have not tasted it. This vintage is a blend of Cabernet Franc from Alegria Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and the Boontling Vineyard in Mendocino, two relatively cool sites because of their proximity to the ocean. The grapes are fermented whole-cluster with a week of carbonic for brightness, and then aged for eight months in neutral oak. The winemakers describe this year with notes of "juicy coastal blackberry, head shop aromatics and underpinned with an ethereal earthiness."
The 'Moonstones' is 100% Chenin Blanc inspired by the wines of the Loire. The fruit comes from the limestone-rich Vista Verde Vineyard in San Beninto County, close to the coast. The juice is fermented and aged in neutral barrels and goes through natural malolactic fermentation. The winemaker describes this wine with "a heavy amplification of acid, dried flowers, and sea breeze salinity".
The high-elevation, alpine vineyards of the Trinity Lakes AVA in California are the perfect place for varieties from the Jura like Savagnin. Organically farmed Savagnin from the Shasta-Trinity Vineyard is direct-pressed and then aged for nine months in neutral French barrels, then bottled unfiltered with just a small amount of SO2. This wine is beautifully rustic, like a fancy ski lodge. Notes of dried herbs and chamomile, lemon rind, bruléed pineapple and almonds. Bright and juicy fruit, make way to a crisp and savory finish. A great pairing with melty raclette and spicy radishes! Michelle DeWyngaert
This bottling from Methode Sauvage was inspired by the wines of the Jura and Savoie regions, and with fruit from the high-elevation Trinity Alps, they seemed to have captured the essence. The Trinity Lakes AVA is one of the northern-most, remote regions in California, perfect for cool climate varieties like those used in this blend: 50% Savagnin, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Riesling. The grapes are direct-pressed and then aged for six months in neutral barrels. The result is an incredibly satisfying, clean and balanced white wine. The nose recalls it's mountainous origins with fresh herbs and oud, followed by juicy nectarine and naval orange. The palate is medium bodied with vibrant acidity and a pleasant creaminess that extends the finish. Michelle DeWyngaert
We love Steve Edmunds and everything he stands for - he's a nice guy, a great winemaker and a talented musician (I once did a campfire duet with him of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," a memory I'll treasure forever). But let's get back to his wines, and in particular this 2015 North Canyon Road Syrah. It is sourced from two vineyards in the Sierra Foothills: Fenaughty, planted in the late 1990s, and Barsotti, with vines quite a bit older. The volcanic clay of Fenaughty contributes rather dramatic floral notes and silky texture, while the ancient granite of Barsotti gives brightness and tension. The result is truly classic Syrah, with notes of violet, blue and red fruit, a dash of white pepper and cool freshness at the back end and generally evocative of the Northern Rhone wines that first inspired Steve. This already has five years of age but will continue to improve for another ten years and likely beyond. Sam Ehrlich
Doug Tunnell would most likely call himself a farmer before he called himself a winemaker, as he takes his role as steward to the land very seriously. When he and his wife took over the Brick House property in 1990 it had been beaten down with industrial chemicals and they immediately halted all chemical treatments and began the conversion to organic, and then Biodynamic farming. As the name would suggest, the 'Dijonnais' bottling from Brick House comes from their eight acres of Dijon clone Pinot Noir planted on a south facing slope. Despite this being on of the warmest spots in their vineyard, this wine is light, ethereal, and elegant. Notes of dried earth, dusty rose petals, red plum, and shitake mushroom on the nose. On the palate are bright, crunchy red fruits, currant, red apple skins and freshly turned soil with gentle, velvety tannins. I enjoyed every drop of this bottle, but will certainly put a few away to see it evolve over the next five years or so. Michelle DeWyngaert
I have really fallen for this charming expression of Gamay. A single vineyard bottling from the certified organic Redford Wetle Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills, this is certainly a Cru Beaujolais-inspired Gamay. The vines are relatively young, but already showing a lot of promise, even in this difficult vintage for Oregon. The blend of well-draining, igneous Jory, and the denser silt of the Yamhill and Woodburn soils in this vineyard show up beautifully in the minerality and powdery tannins of this wine. The nose smells of an Oregon forest with a mix of pine, tree bark, and fresh and dried raspberry, and the palate is full of fresh pomegranate and rosemary. I will gladly bury my nose in a glass of this wine for any occasion, but most definitely with duck or roasted root vegetables. Michelle DeWyngaert
One of my favorite Nouveau wines of the year isn't from Beaujolais at all! It's from the Carousel Vineyard up in the Yakima Valley, 100% Gamay, fermented by carbonic maceration in stainless steel and then bottled unfined and unfiltered. This is meant to be fun, refreshing, and certainly served chilled, with juicy bright red and purple fruit, hardly any tannin, and goes down, entirely too easily! Only one tiny case this year! Michelle DeWyngaert
In true Division fashion, the Chardonnay 'Un' is exactly what I was hoping for, straddling the line between "Old World" restraint, and "New World" abundance. Meant to capture the nature of the vintage, this bottling is a blend of fruit from five vineyards across the Willamette Valley all farmed organically, biodynamically, or in transition with the help of the Division team. This year for Oregon saw a cool, albeit humid summer, which thankfully gave way to a milder, drier fall, which allowed the grapes ripen slowly, but completely. One the nose is fresh pear, almond blossom, and bit of peaches with cream or yogurt (the tangy, European kind). The palate has plenty of acidity to hold this perfectly rich, ripe, barrel-softend fruit. The wine is aged in a mixture of French and Austrian oak; each selected to minimize oak flavor, but impart gentle wood tanin and bring softeness to the finished product. A delightful Chardonnay! Michelle DeWyngaert
Meant as a snapshot of the Willamette Valley, the "Un" is a blend of Pinot Noir from six vineyards, with the bulk of the blend this vintage from one of my favorite, and abundantly expressive sites, the Johan Vineyard. The wine from each site is fermented separately with varying amounts of whole-clusters included depending on the site. The wines are aged in a selection of French or Austrian barrels, ~15% new, for nine months before being racked into concrete to settle for a month before bottling. Earthy, brambly forest floor notes jump out first, followed by stewed black cherry and rosemary. The palate is lush and concentrated, just gentle tannins, and the mix of fresh and stewed red fruit gives this wine the perfect balance. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is a fascinating rosé, and their most saught after with only a tiny amount sent to US! The blend is mix of Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Red Semillon, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier all fermented separately and aged in neutral wood to give the wine a lovely rounded mouthfeel, then bottled with nothing added or taken away. With only 4 bottles to share, I rely on the description from the winemaker with notes of "crushed plum and fig with hints of lemon/lime. Very uplifting nose. Soft vanilla touches in back ground. Bright start of the pallet with flowers in mid pallet and lemon squash to finish it off."
The "Salsa Verde" was created as a fresh, food friendly wine with a lot complexity. 100% Verdelho from the biodynamically farmed, Gemtree vineyard in McLaren Vale. The grapes are destemmend and left on the skins for three weeks in a a neutral wood cuvé. After it finishes natural fermentation it is pressed to seasoned barrels and hogsheads.We were only able to bring in 4 bottles, described with, "a beautiful floral start with soft exotic peachy/mango/pineapple component, licorice mid pallet with tannins and zesty citrus."
The first (nearly) red wine for the Australian winemaking duo Yetti + The Kokonut made from 100% Red Muscat! The production is tiny and we only have a handful of bottles to share, but it sounds beautifully aromatic! The fruit is sourced from Stocky Road Sands Vineyard in Barossa Vallley and spends five days on the skins before being pressed into neutral puncheons where it ages for six months, then bottled with nothing added or taken away. It is described by the winemakers with notes of "lychee, pear, apricot, quince nose, soft hints off vanilla. Fresh start in mouth, green apple with notes of hay and quince in end palette."
One of our favorite, and great value, skin-contact wines is back! Sourced from 100 year old Moscatel d'Alexandria vines, this is a fun, juicy skin-contact wine from the natural winemakers of Cacique Maravilla. These vines are farmed without any agrochemicals or irrigation, and very little plowing. The wines are equally unfussed with; no additives, fining, filtering, or sulfur added, just a pure expression of the vineyard. Approximately 25% of the grapes were affected by botrytis, which was embraced and adds a honeyed spice note to the wine. The skins are left to macerate for 2-3 weeks giving the wine a touch of grippy tannins, and an abundance of flavor.
The 'pipa' in pipeño refers to an old Chilean tradition of making large batches of wine in open-top barrels and then distributing this wine by the jug-full, right from the barrel, throughout the neighborhood; a wine of, and for the community. With País vines at least 250 years old, winemaker Manuel Moraga Gutierrez continues the legacy of his ancestors. He uses a short maceration to keep this wine juicy and supremely drinkable.
Exceptionally clean Sangiovese from Brunello. Vines are tended under organic measures, wine is fermented with native yeasts, and there is no barrique used in the cellar, only large barrels of Slovenian oak. On the nose, the wine shows deep aromas of violets, red cherry, strawberries, and just a touch of fresh earth. The palate conveys a more rustic expression than the nose, with tar, mint, white pepper, and red plum. High acid, with tannins that are felt more on the gums than on the tongue. Elegant and interesting in the same glass. Highly recommend this bottle. David Hatzopoulos
The 2018 Sanguineto I e II Rosso has a great nose, full of dark fruit like black cherry and blueberry, along with essences of shaved cocoa, baking spice, and dark flowers. The palate boasts deep red cherry, earthy minerals, and black pepper. There is something so fulfilling about the mouthfeel here - it is so well textured, with slightly rich fruit, a touch of tannin, and medium acidity. The color in the glass is fresh red on the edges, with a dark red core.
In the glass, the Sanguineto 2017 Vino Nobile is a dark cherry color. The nose is pronounced, full of plums, warm shrubby herbs, dense dark flowers, with a hint of sweet spice and cinnamon. The plummy fruit is very present on the palate as well, along with crushed black stones, and a touch of bitter herbs. The structure has a great edge of acidity, freshening the mouthfeel of rich, medium tannin. A great bottle - we at the store can't stop talking about it. David Hatzopoulos
The wines from Bernardo Estevez in Ribeiro are one of my most exciting discoveries this year. Elegant, traditionally made, and very carefully farmed, I find them almost singularly satisfying. This red is the first wine without sulfur additions that Bernard Estevez has made. From a large variety of grape varieties (Brancellao, Souson, Caino, Mencia and other indigenous varieties), co-planted on a few plots on schist soils. The aromatics are highly expressive and very open, with intense notes of crushed blackberries, schist minerality, and white and black pepper. The palate is brighter and more precise than the bold nose suggests, with notes of raspberries and black cherries overlaid on a deeply mineral, spicy background surrounded by precise tannic and acid structure. This deeply impressed me, and it was incredible with Peking duck in early December. Ben Fletcher
The valleys of Ribeiro have been renowned for their white wines, dry and sweet, for hundreds of years. Only in the first part of the 20th century did this reputation begin to diminish due to war, vine diseases, and the introduction of over-productive but inferior tasting grape varieties like Palomino. But any historian of wine or appreciator of elegant white wines will tell you that Ribeiro is a special place, and that the decomposed granitic soils (the sabrego) and old terraced vineyards are capable of producing truly exceptional wines. Bernardo Estevez manually farms roughly 5 hectares of vines that range in age from 20 to 100 years old. His agricultural approach is strict biodynamism, and he is an important proponent of biodynamics in Ribeiro. The majority of the white grapes are Lado and Treixadura, probably the two "noblest" grapes of the appellation. The rest of the blend in the Chans e lus (soil and light) Castes Branco is composed of the other indigenous grapes: Silberilla, Godello, Albilla, Loureira, Verdello Antiguo. He harvests his vineyards by hand, then presses the grapes whole cluster into an old 500L French oak barrel and an ancient 1500L chestnut foudre, where they ferment with indigenous yeasts. The wine rests in barrels for 10 months before bottling with very minimal sulfur, and then rests again in bottle at length before release. For me, this bottle delivers all of the many pleasures of Ribeiro white wine. Jubilant and expressive on opening, the nose is full of granitic stone, white and yellow flowers, wildflower honey, and melon. The palate is beautifully balanced between granitic minerality that lends ginger spice, length, breadth, and texture and the ripe fruit notes of peach, melon, and citrus. Despite the intensity of these different flavors, the balance between them yields a surprisingly delicate and thoughtful wine that will accompany the flavors of the fall and winter table very well. Ben Fletcher
The last of a bevy of samples from a grower I didn’t really know, but whose wines have really made me take notice. Zeireisen 2016 Spa¨tburgunder “Schulen.”The vines are grown organically in limestone soils interspersed with alluvial stones. Vinification is with native yeasts and the wine sees a bit of new oak. I’ll admit I’m not inclined toward most Spätburgunder as the wines from the early aughts combined ego and cooperage absolutely obliterating any sense of terroir--a shame really. But between Wasenhaus, Enderle and Moll (and of course the dazzling Hofgut Falkensatein sui generis bottling), we seem to be in something of a renaissance (though given the recent leaps and bounds perhaps naissance is a more accurate term). The robe is a dark ruby. The nose offers pretty aromas of Keemun Imperial tea, wild cherry, cassis, and wild violets. The palate is lithe, and displays beautiful equipoise between the just-verging-on-lush black fruit, and a zangy, pungently stony mineral core. The mid-palate shows dimension without veering into ‘zaftig’ and gives way to a mouthwatering, lean—though but by no means austere—finish. Delicious now, but given how this has opened up over the last couple of hours, there’s plenty of complexity forthcoming and I’d feel comfortable laying a few bottles down for the next 4-7 years. This balances freshness and earthiness deftly and is well worth a look. Fabulous with pan-roasted magret of duck with donabe kabocha squash, and braised baby bock choi. This is truly exciting Spa¨tburgunder and if I found this kicking around in Marsannay or Maranges, I’d be living the glamorous life of importer, chasing down my C.O.D. accounts. Good stuff, friends. As we “in the biz” say, “the real f'in’ deal.” John McIlwain