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We offer a quite unique and fascinating group of new arrivals this week, all of which will be in the store by Tuesday, October 12th...
The Ports of João Roseira at the Quinta do Infantado are truly otstanding and quite different in style and quality from the wines offered by the major houses. We're very happy to feature recent releases in today"s email which showcase the dryer and more elegant style of this great estate...
Quinta do Infantado was founded in 1816 in the Cima Corgo sub-region of the Douro--considered its finest zone for both Port and dry wines--by the Portuguese crown heir D. Pedro IV, hence the name of the estate: “Infante” is Portuguese for "prince". The Roseira family has owned it since the end of the nineteenth century. Today, Infantado is run by third generation João Roseira, winemaker and vineyard manager. Up until the 1970’s, like most small growers, Infantado sold their wines off to large shippers; they then made the radical decision to go it alone, becoming the first estate to not sell or buy fruit or wine and to exclusively bottle estate-grown wines.
Port is highly regulated and those regulations are built around an A-to-F vineyard classification scale. Infantado owns exclusively A-grade sites, which is the Douro equivalent of having nothing but grand cru vineyards. Theirs are mainly the classic steep, schistous, terraced, old-vine parcels of the traditional mixed plantings of local varieties. Unlike other port producers, Infantado harvests by hand into small baskets and the grapes are brought carefully to the nearby winery where they are fermented slowly with wild yeasts, to a point of less sugar and more alcohol and a reduced need for fortification—thus their wines contain around thirty percent less brandy than a standard Port. These are superb and well-balanced Ports with great elegance, in a dryer style that will be appreciated by any lover of fine wines...
2019s From Peio Espil at Domaine Ilarria in Irouleguy
Interested very early on by his reading of Masanobu Fukuoka, Peio Espil implanted his philosophy, observing nature and its powers in order to farm with as little human intervention as possible. The whole 10 ha are farmed this way, and were also certified organic in 1999: no tilling, the spontaneous vegetation is mowed, in the winter ewes are coming to graze, their manure used as compost to enrich the microbiological life, which is for Peio the most important part of the health of the soils. Underground bacterias working in non-tilled soils are key partners to the vigneron to guarantee the health of the vines. The 2019 Irouleguy Rouge and Blanc have just arrived in NY - these are truly special wines that deserve your attention - and you'll be fighting global warming while drinking them...
New arrivals from Thierry Navarre in the Languedoc!
It's tough to keep these exceptional wines in stock as Thierry keeps selling out - but we're happy to have gotten a whopping 6 cs of his unique Ribeyrenc (Rouge, that is) as well as a bit more of the "Lignieres" and Saint-Chinian "Cuvee Olivier." The Ribeyrenc and "Lignieres" are made with ancient varieties that have been preserved and re-planted by Thierry and his father. These are authentic and delicious 19th century wines with low alcohol and lovely fruit that we hope you will enjoy. More recent styles in the Languedoc are beautifully represented by Thierry's superb Cuvée Olivier, from his oldest vines of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan grown in his mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. It's a complex and full-bodied red that is soulful and food friendly, and a great value!
Speaking of value, the new 2019 Chateau de Manissy Côtes du Rhône "Oracle" is a truly outstanding supple and delicious Grenache-based red that will accompany just about any meat dish this fall and winter, and it's bright enough to be the life of a party as well - $12.99 less 10% on a case!!
We love Northern Rhone Syrah with minimal or zero SO2 as this really gives the lighter, more floral side of Syrah a chance open up and shine. We visited the young Laurent Habrard about 15 years ago and were very impressed with his organic farming and low-intervention winemaking - his 2019 Crozes-Hermitage "Sans Soufre" is naturally expressive and delicious and is highly recommended!
OMG! The Baudry 2018 Chinon "Le Clos Guillot" got a BIG POINT SCORE! Of course it should - the Baudry's great farming and perfect winemaking are producing some of the most beautiful wines of France. We have about 3 cases left.....
Just arrived from Italy...
We’re offering some fantastic values from Italy this Fall! We’re welcoming back Trediberri’s Dogliani - which is always one of the most impressive expressions of Dolcetto, vintage after vintage! We also have a couple new wines on the shelves… the Azienda Agricola 499 Friesa is packed full of flavor and soft in structure, combining great warmth and spice. The Lodi Corazza Frizzante Barbera has just a little sparkle and bright fruit. You’ll want a lively wine like this during those hearty cool weather feasts with friends and family.
From Spain, we are stocking up on Fall reds, and as luck would have it, a shipment of wines from Goyo Garcia Viadero, including the dark and luscious Finca Los Quemados, his fantastic Clarete, and a mesmerizing Malvasia! And while we're in Ribera del Duero, we welcome back an old favorite from Alfredo Maestro the El Rey del Glam, back in full effect, packing power, black fruit and just the right amount of finesse.
Old-vine field blend of over twenty varieties, made in the best vintages (2010) rather than from a blend of vintages. The Infantado Colheita is always a superb wine, a bit more distinctive and rich than the regular 10-year. It comes from exclusively Class A parcels (Vale de Moinhos and Castelos) totaling 3.5 hectares on poor schist soils. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented exclusively in lagar; fermentation is stopped with seventy-seven-degree wine brandy. The wine was aged for ten years in a combination of very old tonel or balseiro (tall wooden tanks from 3,000-60,000 liters with thick staves that slow down oxidation) and the classic Port pipa (550-liter horizontal casks with thinner staves that promote oxidation). The 2010 is a gorgeous wine with a lovely fairly dark tawny color . The aromas are pure and elegant with dried red currant and raisin, rose petal, blood orange peel, clove. The palate is silky and supple with very pure focused flavors of dried fruits, earth, citrus and brown spice that continue in the very long finish which is sustained by firm acidity. This is a simply outstanding Colheita that will pair with fruit deserts and full-flavored cheeses and is a delight to sip by itself. This happily avoids the excess sweetness and brandy notes of Colheitas from the more commercial houses. Highly recommended and a bargain at the price! David Lillie
An almost extinct grape grown in the Languedoc, Ribeyrenc has been preserved mostly due to the work of Thierry Navarre and his father before him, planted on slopes of schist, exposure south-east. It’s thin-skinned and yields a fresh and vibrant red wine that could easily pass for a dark rosé. The aromas are complex with red fruits, spice, herbs, tobacco, rose petal and tea-leaf. Low-alcohol and light-bodied and a bit delicate with plum, red currant, spice and smoke on the palate, with a long finish - fresh, floral, and unlike anything else, really a lovely wine ! EL
From a vineyard co-planted with old varieties - Ribeyrenc Blanc, Grenache Gris and Clairette du Languedoc - Thierry Navarre made the 2020 "Lignières." It's a delighful wine with slightly spicy and floral aromas of white peach, lemon peel, almond, pear and honeysuckle, dry and dense on the palate, but nicely round and ripe, with mineral, herbal and stone fruit flavors with firm acidity - really lovely, a great aperitif or serve with fish or chicken in sauce, salads, sheep and goat cheeses. Three cheers for Thierry Navarre for making such a delicious, distictive and unusual wine from historic varieties. David Lillie
2019 is a great vintage for Thierry Navarre's Cuvée Olivier, from his oldest vines of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan grown in his mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. Deep and very complex aromas of black raspberry and blueberry with hints of roast meats, espresso, violets, chocolate and citrus. Lovely palate of ripe red and black fruits, earth and citrus lifted by firm acidity. This is a beautiful Languedoc red — rich, ripe and complex and surprisingly "fresh" with good acidity and fabulous length. Organic farming, minimal sulfur. Highly recommended.
The very talented Florian André at Chateau de Manissy makes this delicious Côtes d Rhône from Grenache, Carignan and Counoise in organic/Biodynamic farming on sandy, brown clay/limestone soils. "The wine shows a shiny dark red, purple tints; the bouquet charms thanks to its sunny curve of aroma that mixes dried herbs with blackcurrant fruit, all neatly presented. There’s a little smokiness. The fruit purity stands out on the palate, the blueberry fruit with notes of tar-tannin, licorice accompanying it as it runs with calm continuity. This is bang on the money Côtes red, a pleasure to drink with its keen clarity, the length in shape to allow red meats into the dining equation. The freshness contributed by the Counoise is very helpful." (DrinkRhone) This is a superb everyday red at a crazy price!
100% Chenin Blanc, Super fresh! Like a kick in the face from Chuck Norris, or at least that's what their new label suggests. Very clean, with balanced bubbles, and bright stony fruit.
From old vines of Cabernet Franc on schist, most planted in 1953, de-stemmed, short fermentation with no extraction. "53" shows a bright, deep red/purple color and the palate is supple, round and ripe with dense, earthy cassis and berry fruit and stone flavors backed by firm acidity. This needs aeration or a few years in the cellar, and there is nice freshness to the wine - the dark fruit will pair well with grilled meats and charcuterie. Serve cool.
Frantz Chagnoleau's wines are store favorites these days. The "Clos Saint Pancras" is a single parcel of vines averaging 30 years, in lightly chalky soils with a lot of small stones. This is juicy and bright, with lime, crisp white peach fruit and white flowers. The back end is distinctly stony and fresh. Aged in a combination of older barrels and tank, this shows no trace of oak. Really, this is so appealing and tasty - a classic bistro wine in the best sense. Sam Ehrlich
Dogliani is a small town south and west of Barolo, which gives its name to a DOCG wine zone – a ‘Dogliani’ must be made from Dolcetto (life was a little simpler for everyone when the wines were called “Dolcetto di Dogliani”, but the marketers won that conversation). The zone of Dogliani, is considered the best area for Dolcetto (which not so long ago was more expensive than Nebbiolo) where Dolcetto was historically given the best sites, whereas in Barolo and Barbaresco Dolcetto is generally relegated to lesser positions in the vineyards – “Bricco”, as in Bricco Molea, means the top part of the hill, which receives the most sun and ripens best.There are plenty of contemporary Doglianis that are an attempt to make what Italians call ‘important’ wines, and thus are dark, extracted, and often oaky; Trediberri’s Dogliani is a more traditional style, intended to be fresh and lively, a wine for food, for every day, to open a meal, to drink while your Barolo ages. But this is no simple wine, and it has remarkable aromatic complexity with bright current-like fruit, white flowers, chalk, and a deep savory aspect – altogether mouth-watering. It’s very appealing on the palate, light-midweight and with the fruit in balance with chalk, and expressing a strong sense of place. From vines that are 50-70 years old; fermented in concrete for about 10 days, and aged in a combo of concrete and steel. A killer Dolcetto! Jamie Wolff
The 499 Friesa is one of the softest examples of this grape that I’ve ever tasted. In the glass, it shows a dark ruby color. The nose is savory, with all the classic smells of Piedmont - earth, herbs, and fresh red fruits. There are wispy aromas of smoke and black pepper, clear signs of this rustic variety. The palate delivers rich and fruity flavors of red plum, warm cherry, and semi-bitter anise. Medium tannin and moderate acidity create blanketing structure.
This effervescent Barbera is one of a kind! Just a little fizzy, the wine is perfect for denser holiday meals - like root vegetables and roasted white and red meats. In the glass, it has a dark ruby color. The nose is fresh, though full of dark fruits (cherry, blackberry, and small plum). There are aromas of birch, smoke, and savory orange peel. The palate has blueberries and raspberry, mixed with slightly bitter green herbs - before finishing with a light essence of strawberry. High acid on the tongue, and just a little sparkle, make this wine incredibly drinkable. You’ll want this in stock all winter long!
Listán Blanco from high elevation (1000-1200m) vineyards on the sunny, dry and continental north-west side of Mount Teide, near the town of Santiago del Teide. The vineyard was planted 70-100 years ago, and the soils are sandy and volcanic. All grapes are harvested by hand and a small subset macerate on the skins for about seven days. The grapes are fermented with native yeasts, mostly in concrete, with a small percentage of used French oak, some of the wine ages under flor for several months. 2020 was the earliest harvest ever for this wine, due to heat in the area, but depth is here, without any sense of under-ripeness. A great success, given the challenges of the vintage! -EL
Chalmers is a 2nd generation winery, located in Heathcote, Australia, which originally was a vineyard nursery. Montevecchio Bianco is their homage to Italy, named after the vilalge in Sardinia. A blend of white grapes from an area in Heathcote that is speckled with volcanic intrusions and iron rich clay and limestone soils. The blend, in order of percentages, is Vermentino, Pecorino, Ribolla Gialla, Falanghina, Moscato Giallo, and Fiano. Hand harvested, whole cluster, and co-fermented, then aged 6 months on the lees in stainless steel. Dry and balanced, with a touch of structure. An impressive rendition of a classy Italian white. -EL
Old-vine, 20-variety+ field blend. From exclusively Class A parcels (Serra di Cima and Serra Douro) totaling 6 hectares on poor schist soils. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented exclusively in lagar; fermentation is stopped with 77%-degree wine brandy. The wine is aged for 8 to 15 years in very old pipas. A pipa or 'pipe" in English is the traditional 550-liter wooden cask used for aging, as well as measuring quantities of, port; it is ideal for tawnies, as oxidation is promoted by its horizontal orientation, smaller capacity and thinner staves (versus the thicker ones of the huge wooden tank called a tonel or balseiro used for ruby and vintage ports). The 10-Year finishes at a reasonable 20% and 85 grams/liter of residual sugar. Only 4000 to 6000 numbered bottles are produced annually. Showing a deep copper/amber hue with a bright rim, the nose is redolent of caramel, confit'd orange peel and a hint of sherry from the oxidative notes. On the palate, more caramel, baking spices, creme brulee, hazelnuts, almonds and orange marmalade. Bring on the blue cheese please! GH
Quinta do Infantado’s LBVs are vintage ports that remain in barrel for four to six years before being bottled unfiltered. They are best consumed within 5-6 years after bottling. They show more savory qualities than a “normal” vintage port. This intense at first glance, with ripe blueberry and blackberry fruit and warm spices in the nose. There is plenty more of that blackberry on the palate, accented with cocoa nib and gentian root for complexity. There is remarkable acidity, in a way that I am often unaccustomed to in port. It is focused rather than cloying or sticky and quite light on its feet. These excellent values should be decanted before drinking.
The Quinta do Infantado 2013 Vintage is made with Touriga Franca/Touriga Nacional/Tinta Roriz plus mixed-variety old vines. From exclusively Class A parcels (Serra Douro and Serra de Baixho) totaling seven and one-half hectares on poor schist soils—the vines are fifty years or older. The fruit is hand-harvested, partly destemmed and fermented exclusively in lagar; fermentation is stopped with seventy-seven-degree wine brandy. The wine is aged for two years in a variety of tonel and balseiro, which are tall wooden tanks from 3,000-60,000 liters with thick staves that slow down oxidation. It finished at a modest nineteen and one-half percent alcohol and seventy-two grams per liter of residual sugar and was bottled (and numbered) without fining or filtering in July 2015. In the glass, the wine shows a beautiful red/purple plum in color. The nose is full of fruity cassis and smoke, anise, fennel, and cherry. After a moment, you can detect a subtle aroma of sweet cocoa. The palate is generous, with bold flavors of plum and black cherry, plus a refreshing edge of bitter herb. Plump in structure, cut by a dash of medium acidity. A lovely dose of simple and elegant sweetness, as well. A long finish ends with an essence of dried cherries and espresso. This is a port for all drinkers - complex and tasty!
In the French Basque hills, enveloped by Spain, Peio Espil tends his family’s estate with impressive care. Peio, after careers in both Sauternes and Jurancon, returned to Irouleguy to work sustainably, and received complete organic certification in 2008. Here he strictly adheres to a Fukuoka-inspired way of organic farming, with biodiversity in the vineyards and no plowing, with the overall health of the soil being his number one concern. The 2019 Rouge is 55% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc and it's a sensational vintage for this unique wine, being a bit rounder than usual and quite delicious for current drinking. Deep black/red color with bright rim. The nose seems dominated by the Cabernet Franc, with deep black raspberry fruit, chocolate and herbal flavors, echoing the Chinon Clos Guillot of Baudry, but with a backbone of stony black fruits from the Tannat. The palate is dense and mineral showing ripe, intense black fruits framed in perfect firm acidity and stone flavors that continue in the tight, elegant finish. Enjoy now with grilled lamb, pork or hearty stews, best to wait 5 years when this wine should really sing. PL/DL
This is an oustanding, totally unique and delicious wine! From organically certified vineyards, 1 ha dedicated to Petit Manseng and 1 ha to Petit Courbu, permaculture-pioneer Peio Espil offers a very unique interpretation of Irouléguy Blanc as he is one of the few growing grapes on Trias limestone, a soil so hard he had to use dynamite to plant the vines. No tilling, use of ewes to graze the spontaneous vegetation and compost the soils leads to balanced yields of very concentrated grapes which see some skin maceration (6 hours or so for the Petit Courbu, 12-14 hours for the Petit Manseng) in order to extract aromatic compounds and structure. The musts are blended right away, and fermented spontaneously, with malolactic always occurring, something very rare for the region! Long fermentations are preferred for texture. A little bit of sulfites are used after the fermentation when the wine needs to be racked from inox to demi-muids from tonnellerie de l’Adour. Then the wine stays untouched on its fine lees with racking if needed for up to 18 months, and doesn’t need to be filtered before bottling. As in 2018, the 2019 has a bit more depth and roundness than usual for this wine, but retains the intense mineral/herbal backbone that makes it so unique. It has a surprising density with so many layers: a very complex nose of passion fruit, chamomile, yellow plum, marsipan and smoked salt, the palate is very savory with a saline quality, with ripe pear and quince, roasted lemon and intense anise seed and chalky mineral flavors. It is a salivating wine with so much to give, that you want to sip on it little by little. Enjoy it today in large Burgundy glass or keep it for 10 years. For pairing, a rabbit agnolotti with dried sage or a cauliflower panna cotta with crab meat flesh and grapefruit segment. PL/DL
"Fou du Roi" (The Jester) is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Carignan from Axel Prufer's biodynamic vineyards planted high in the Black Mountains of L'Hérault. Axel moved to the Languedoc from East Germany in the late 90s to join the growing natural wine movement. He promotes biodiversity in his vines; and in the cellar he works only with indigenous yeasts and without any added sulfites. This wine is made using partial carbonic maceration for a fresh, early drinking style that is simply hedonistic when served with a slight chill. Effusive aromas of ripe strawberries, cocoa, and spiced plum leap from the glass. The body is medium on the palate this vintage (we like!), with plenty of boldness from the Grenache. A fantastic example of a natural wine, and after all those years, now a "classic."
Thomas and Jean-Daniel are the team at Domaine Ozil. Brothers with a shared interest in producing honest, drinkable Ardèche wines, they have hit quite a stride in recent years. The "Gourmandise" is a perfect example. Primarily Grenache, with 30% Syrah and Carignan, this is a joyful wine. No sulfites added, it's clean and balanced, with medium body, and spicy, brambly, crushed raspberry aromas. All in all, it's fun in a bottle, at a very reasonable price. Drink with a slight chill! -EL
Marc Houtin founded La Grange aux Belles near Anjou in 2004, having studied geology and worked at Château d’Yquem making Sauternes. He recruited viticulturist Julien Bresteau in 2006 and their first vintage was released in 2008. This is a beautifully expressive Chenin, mouthwatering, tangy apples and great minerality. Perfect with fish or poultry, or even an ashen goat cheese.
We are big fans of Pineau D'Aunis, an ancient Loire grape varietal, for the light, earth-driven red wines it creates. This example from La Grange aux Belles is made organically, with low added sulfur. Semi-carbonic maceration for one week with destemmed grapes, and then aging for 6 months. On the nose is an array of savory dried leaves and white pepper, with plenty of juicy red forest fruits on the palate. Light and lithe, this is a return to a more ethereal and translucent expression, contrasting with the darker and more structured vintages preceding it. Pop it in the fridge for a half hour and enjoy!
The cherubic Christian Venier is a cousin of the Puzelat brothers from Clos du Tue Boeuf, and like them, an early proponent of making wines the old fashioned way, without additives or manipulation. His parcels are meticulously tended, and the wines of the Venier family always have a special vibrancy that I can only ascribe to the magic of the place (or maybe the wild yeast populations in the parcels or cellar). Clos de Carteries is primarily Gamay, from roughly 20 year old vines on clay and limestone with sand and silex. Whole cluster fermentation in open vats for 20 days, followed by 6 months in tank. Violet and floral notes on the nose, great concentration, with subtle peppery notes, and a very graceful finish. It's drinking nicely now, but with the leathery structure that we observed, it should definitely age well too. ~EL
The Hauts de Madon is a serious Cheverny Rouge, NOT for kicking back and taking lightly. 80% Pinot Noir/20% Gamay, with plenty of trademark Venier spice, almost referencing Languedoc aromatics of thyme and rosemary. The 2020 will surely benefit from some age, but the glass we had open for a day was really lovely and elegant after several hours of breathing. If drinking soon, we'd highly recommend decanting or at least opening the wine several hours in advance. -EL
(Our last few cases arrive on Tuesday, 10/12/21) Le Clos Guillot is a beautiful south-east facing vineyard, just east of the town of Chinon, above the Clos de l'Olive and adjacent to Le Chêne Vert. The upper slope of the parcel is clay over limestone (the lower part has sand and gravel over the rock, which permitted a tiny separate production from franc de pied vines, now mostly deceased) and the vines are young, planted from 1993 to 2000. Fermentation in wooden cuves, 12 months of aging in three to ten year-old barriques, 9 additional months in unlined cement vats. We have been buying this wine since it's first production in 2000 – it's one of the most elegant and Burgundian of Chinons. It's become incrreasingly difficult to write superlatives about this wine, as each vintage since 2014 has been superb in it's own way. And now 2018, a vintage the Baudrys describe as "magnificent!" The ripeness of fruit in this vintage diplays a different side of Cabernet Franc with the more traditional light raspberry/strawberry aromatics enhanced by darker fruits: blackberry, black raspberry and boysenberry with violet and earth, that remain vibrant and bright. The color is deep black with a purple rim. The palate shows sensational purity, freshness and elegance with a fabulous dense, silky, calcaire texture and fabulous length of pure black fruits and minerals. While this wine is amazingly delicious now, it should be very interesting with long cellaring as well. Highly recommended! David Lillie
Presenting a vibrant and delicious Syrah with zero added SO2! The 2019 Habrard Crozes-Hermitage Grand Classique Sans Soufre - In the glass, the wine shows a deep plum color, with clear violet edges. The nose is a mix of red berries and savory citrus peel, with a dose of healthy earth and salty, firm olives. On the palate, bright cherry fruit provides a platform for flavors of smoke, soy, and ginger, and lighter essences of black pepper and smoke. Medium tannin focused straight down the tongue and lovely acidity offer a refreshing mouthfeel. Really a superb Crozes-Hermitage for current drinking and over the next five years. (33% from Pont de l’Isère (southern zone, alluvial soils), 67% from Erôme, Gervans (northern zone, granite, loess, clay soils), Syrah from 1940s–late 1990s, 95-100% destemmed, 15-20 day vinification in wood vats, no SO2, daily foot punching of the cap, aged in concrete vat, and old barrels, unfined, filtered.)
La Pucelle is comprised of 90% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir from the bottom of the slope in the eponymous lieu-dit. The vines date from 1961 and are planted in sandy, deep silt soils, which are farmed organically and lightly tilled twice a year, with grass allowed to grow between the vines. The vins clairs are fermented and aged in wood, undergo malolactic fermentation and are bottled unfiltered and unfined.
Le Village is 100% Chardonnay planted in 1986, located mid-slope in clay-limestone soils. Farmed organically, with light tilling in the Spring and mowing on the the cover crops in the summer. The vin clair is fermented with native yeasts in barrel with 10 months on the lees and bottled with low sulfur. Disgorged 02/2020.Thomas Perseval is one of my favorite of the new generation of Champenois. Soft-spoken and humble, he recognizes the way to the most interesting Champagne is thru conscientious farming. In a bit of shallow comparison on my part, the wines are nuanced and subtle, but quietly confident like the grower. 2015 is a difficult vintage and and a number of the wines can display a hard edge and asperity—cranky in layman’s terms—but Perseval’s are perhaps more accurately described as just a touch backwards. On opening Le Village is a bit sullen, showing more herbaceous that fruity, though that disappears with a quick decant. The nose offers pretty aromas of apple blossom, white peach fuzz, and a bit of lemon pith. The palate is coiled and initially inscrutable with stone and stone and green tea notes dominating, but with air things become more textured and focused. Sure, there are subtle notes orchard fruit, apple skin and Meyer lemon oil, but there’s also a lovely pure ripeness that carries from attack to finish that lends charm and grace to the otherwise deeply mineral proceedings. There’s nascent complexity already on display (after the decant) and the first glass effortlessly begets a second pour. This makes for a nervy aperitif, but showed better still with a snow day cabbage and farro soup. And while quite lovely now, I suspect 3-5 years of post disgorgement aging will allow the elements to knit and for this to be a special bottle. John McIlwain
Pale green/yellow robe. A bit of dissolved CO2 and a touch of reduction (more than sponti), but a brisk decant and this blows off. The nose offers cool toned aromas of lime zest, lemon blossom, cool herbs—is that fennel?— and sea spray. The palate shows a bit of the ripeness of the vintage, not screaming with acidity, but a bit of dry extract that takes a minute (or 20) to settle in before a punchy mineral/salty core reveals itself. On the palate there’s plenty of white fruit and a faint nectar-ish sweetness, but there’s a sapid bitterness (Champagne grower Olivier Horiot terms mineral expression in Riceys), rather than acidity, which seems apt in the the glass. And while this doesn’t display leanness of cooler vintages, it comes off as “complete.” If one were to insist upon a vintage comparison in recent-ish memory, 2005 comes to mind. It was a year that didn’t struggle for ripeness, but seemed a bit fleshy relative to the tangy 2004s. That said, anyone who has opened a 2005 recently, can probably affirm there is beautiful balance between ripeness and terroir expression on the wines currently and I can’t imagine they’re looking to unload any bottles they’re holding. There’s real depth here and this is deeply satisfying with a salad of smoked salmon and cucumbers with an herb mustard crème fraîche dressing. John McIlwain
The Wagram is a region known for its deep loess soils that can go to a depth of twenty meters before hitting marine sediment. Grown in deep golden loess soil (gelben can be translated as ‘golden’ or yellow), the grapes are gently pressed with a slow fermentation. Riesling grown in a loess soil gives a rounder and fruitier wine compared to Riesling grown in the Wachau. The Ehmoser 2020 Riesling is a pristine example of this juicier style. Aromas of white flowers, cut grass, wet stones and lemon waft from the glass. Spritzy lemon drops with a hint of sweetness tickle the palate enveloped in a soft, round finish. An excellent pairing for Thai food.Giselle Hamburg
Orangetraube is related to Traminer, cultivated in Germany and Austria, though most entirely as part of a field blend and rarely as a single-variety wine. Now in it's 4th generation, Zahel is the only Austrian winery that produces a wine composed of 100% Orangetraube." The Orange “T” presents juicy and refreshing under ripe peach and apricot , orange blossom with a subtle minerality. The wine's spritzy acidity is well-balanced , light and delicate. A sheer joy, great pairing for fresh goat cheeses, roasted squash and delicate grilled fish such as trout. Giselle Hamburg
Goyo Garcia Viadero is making natural wines in Ribera del Duero with his wife Diana Semova Geogieva. They farm high altitude plots of old vines, vinify in a traditional and low-intervention fashion with indigenous yeasts and without sulfur additions, and produce wines of great complexity and elegant beauty. This bottling, 100% Malvasia from old vines macerated on the skins, is a new addition to their line-up. The nose is redolent of exotic spice (white tea, allspice, star anise), roasted almond, and stone fruit, while the palate shows apricot, peach and jasmine, with bright notes of ginger. The skin-contact grants delicate, refined tannins and rich, waxy body to the wine. Truly, one of my favorite "orange wines" that I've ever encountered: intense, elegant, and memorable. Ben Fletcher // About 2 weeks of skin contact. Just a lovely wine, with stone fruit, lemons, mineral finish and chalky feel in the cheeks. -EL
Benje Tinto is 96% Listán Prieto, with Listan Blanco and Tintilla, from vineyards at around 1000-1200m near Santiago del Teide on Tenerife. This vineyard has sandy volcanic soils, and the vines are 70-100 years old. Climactically, this region is dry, windy, and continental in character, shielded from Atlantic influence by Mount Teide and elevation. The grapes are harvested by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts with a maceration period of 10 days and punch-downs daily before aging for eight months in concrete and used French barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with a touch of sulfur. The 2020 is a touch reductive on the nose on opening, but with a few minutes in the glass it really sings!
El Rey is back! This wine has not graced our shelves in several vintages, but the 2020 was just right, so we couldn't resist. Carbonic maceration of Garnacha, from plots in the Gredos and Ribera del Duero. From the Gredos, the sites are high elevation, providing good lift and acid. A perfect red to welcome Fall. Bold, with medium tannins, and flavors of earth and black fruit.
Rene Barbier Jr. planted his Partida Pedrer vineyard to Garnatxa in 2000 (with a little bit of Mourvedre). Fermented and aged in small, unlined, locally made clay amphora, this is a profound red Priorat with exotic aromas of iron and earth, black fruits, wild berries and oregano. The palate is juicy and wild, with earthy black plums and berries, rich red beets, robust tannin and acid anchored by broad, slately, minerality. A lovely expression of a powerful place, particularly suited to lamb stews and braises in rich sauce.
From Ribera del Duero, this is Tempranillo, situated on clay and red sandy soils with river stones, with Northeast exposure. 2018 was rainy, but luckily there were still periods of warmth that gave ideal ripeness to the grapes. An impressive, big, dark, full-bodied red, appropriate for a roast or any form of feast. Aged for 1 year in small, used French oak. Not to be missed for fans of full bodied and dark, silky reds. -EL
From Ribera, this is an outstanding 'Clarete,' pressed from lagars into barrel, in an overnight pressing. It's an old fashioned style, and yields lovely bite, grip and freshness to the dark, earthy fruit profile of Tempranillo. This is not a mix of white and red grapes, like many Claretes are, but apparently the definition of a Clarete isn't fixed from region to region in Spain (or elsewhere in the world). This one is all Tempranillo from the Quemados vineyard, but a acid driven little cousin to the fully macerated red that Viadeo also produces. -EL
From our friends at Casa de Mouraz in the Dão, this is a bright and fleshy blend of red and white grapes. Alvarelhão with 10 days of maceration, Jaen and Trincadeira fermented together for 4 days, and so Fernão Pires as well! You can treat it like a dark rose, or a light red, and give it a chill.
From our friends at Casa de Mouraz in the Dão, this is a bright and fleshy blend of red and white grapes. Alvarelhão with 10 days of maceration, Jaen and Trincadeira fermented together for 4 days, and so Fernão Pires as well! You can treat it like a dark rose, or a light red, and give it a chill.
The Phaunus Pet Nat is all Loureiro, vinified in stainless steel with no added yeast or sugar. There is a short period of maceration, and disgorgement is after 5 months of aging, with no filtration or fining. Super dry, refreshing and textured, this is a nice addition to the ever-changing Pet-Nat section here at Chambers, and comes highly recommended for any fan of tasty bubbles. -EL
The fruit for Rivera del Notro Blanco comes from Roberto Henriquez’s neighbor, Cesar Henriquez, and a few other neighbors. Roberto manages the farming at all of the plots, and the youngest vines are around a hundred years old. This is a blend of Moscatel, Semillon, and Corinto, made like the other white wines from Roberto: the grapes were destemmed then allowed to naturally ferment with their skins in tanks, with the skin-contact lasting the duration of the fermentation. This shows a bit more of the Muscat aromatically, with notes of ripe orange, grape, and white pepper, but the palate is quite refined, with the skin-contact lending an appealing structure, and plenty of minerality balances notes of orange, peach, and pear.
From a block of co-planted old vines (there are also varieties of Torrontes and Moscatel Rosado, and I’m very much looking forward to bottlings of those) on Itata’s granitic soils, the Corinto Super Estrella is 100% Corinto or Chasselas. Corinto is the first variety to be harvested here, and Roberto Henriquez leaves it longer on its skins than his other wines. If there is a wine that convinced me that Roberto is doing something uniquely exciting in Itata and Bío Bío, this is the wine. Delicate herbal aromatics mingle with white peach, Bosc pear, salt and stone on the nose, while the finely tuned palate shows bright acidity and similar fruit notes with white strawberries and fennel. But what really sticks with me is the minerality here – just explosive granitic power: somehow simultaneously cool and spicy, it endures on the palate long after wine is gone. This was outstanding with Chinese food last week, from bok choy to fried anchovies, but I imagine it would be truly versatile at the table. Unlike any expression of Chasselas that I have encountered, but certainly none the worse for that! 11.5% alcohol, bottled only in magnum. Ben Fletcher
Santa Cruz de Coya comes from a truly special and very old vineyard of Pais in Bío Bío, very isolated and tucked into the mountains. These old vines are short and bush trained, planted on quartz and granite soils, and immersed in the ecosystem of the valley. The particularities of the location (the microclimate, its isolation, the completeness of the ecosystem) preclude the need for sulfur or copper treatments in the vineyard, allowing for a more-than-organic method of farming. Interestingly, the strong local yeasts (perhaps emboldened by the natural farming) also lead to a faster fermentation. Of the 2019 red wines from Roberto Henriquez, this is probably the most serious and the most elegant, with abundant structure and fine tannins. The nose shows red fruits, garrigue, stone, and a certain savory character; the palate is long, balanced, and medium-bodied, with raspberry and blackberry, delicate herbal spice, and a very mineral finish. Don't be afraid to decant this, or to hold onto a few bottles for opening in five years. One of the finest demonstrations of what Pais is capable of, I think.
Founded in 1851 as an estate for fortified wine, the Seppeltsfield estate was refurbished in 2000, including the entire 1888 gravity cellar. There is no need for inputs in the vineyard here, as the area is quite dry and arid. This Shiraz, from their "Village Series," has good ripeness and nice tannins. The fruit is destemmed and the wine ages in stainless and used oak. A classic Australia Shiraz. -EL