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A tasty Cremant d'Alsace, 100% Pinot Blanc, with no sulfites added. It's bright and fresh, but also marked by straw notes and some yeasty overtones. It's a touch funky on the palate but overall very rejuvenating and complex. Eben Lillie
The Stadlmann family has been making wine since the 1780s in the Thermenregion; sheltered from the northern winds by the Vienna Woods, it is one of Austria's warmest wine growing areas. The 'Classic' line of wines are aged in large, used barrels to showcase the true character of the grape and terroir. 2015 is darker on the nose than 2013, with notes of cherry cola, black cherries, and red flowers. The palate is smooth and juicy with bright flavors of tart yet candied red cherries. A wonderful wine to have with a wide range of food! Cari Bernard
The wine that first caught my attention, Michael's 2015 Pinot Gris 'Wild & Free', did so because it was a complex, natural wine that was both fun and sophisticated; food-friendly but stood well on its own. For the Wild & Free line of wines, grapes are hand-harvested, and spend between 10-15 days in contact with the skins before pressing. Wines age in neutral barrels. The 2016 conjures the same delight as the 2015: deep, umami notes of umeboshi plum mingle with sour cherry, blood orange, red apple skin, raspberry, stewed strawberry, and red grapefruit zest, medium-bodied with the lightest tannic tack and bright acidity--elegance and drinkability! Cari Bernard
Guy Breton's Regnié is from 35 year-old and 100 year-old vines on shallow sandy soils over decomposed granit.The 2016 is exuberantly floral on the nose, redolent of violets and cherry blossoms, with notes of wild strawberry, mustard seed, and spice. The palate is supple and racy, with ripe red and black fruits, black tea, and granitic spice on a bright, high-toned finish. While this is charming now, there's a nice midterm upside for those who prefer a little age on their Beaujolais. John McIlwain
This is a lovely Beaujolais from the Chignard family, better known for their Fleurie "Les Moriers." Possessing the bright fruit and balance of the 2016 vintage in Beaujolais, the Julienas "Beauvernay" shows a pretty red/black color, with elegant aromas of red currant and tart black cherry with violet, blood orange, earth and stone. It's ripe and sapid but with lively acidity and perfectly proportioned at 12.5% alcohol. Tart cherry, plum and red currant fruit with saline minerals, earth and spice coat the palate and continue in the earthy finish. Quite lovely now, this should soften and gain complexity with three to five years of aging, drink till 2025-2028. DL
The Vieilles Vignes bottlings from Georges Descombes are among the very finest Beaujolais produced, and despite the added ripeness in 2015, the wines are oustanding both for current drinking and for aging 10 to 15 years. The 2015 Chiroubles Vieilles Vignes shows ripe black raspberry and blackberry aromas with spice, violet, rose, earth and citrus, quite deep and complex. The palate has a deep, supple, grainy texure and lush black raspberry liqueur that coats the palate. The finish is long with elegant fruit liqueur and firm acidity. Enjoy with a grilled steak this summer, but put some away for future enjoyment as well. David Lillie
The Descombes Morgon Vieilles Vignes is made from 60 to 100 year-old vines from numerous sites on granite soils; semi-carbonic fermentation then aging 6 - 8 months in Burgundy barrels and one year in bottle before release. Dense and dark, this wine has formidable concentration. Some nice floral notes on the nose, with some vegetable ash and herbal characteristics wrapped around the dense dark fruit core. Deep and intense blackberry compote character on the palate is supported by inky tannin. This is a full-blooded Beaujolais that will benefit from a decade in the cellar, though right now its incredibly concentrated dark fruit and raw power should be enticing to those who love their wine with youthful strength. An excellent companion to sweet and sour pork, peking duck, or veal marsala. Andrew Farquhar
Georges Descombes has once again made a light and lovely Morgon in 2016 that will be a joyful drink this summer and over the next few years. The wine shows a bright garnet color with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and rose with a bit of citrus peel and spice. The palate is light but nicely sapid and ripe with supple red fruits with hints of citrus, earth and spice. The finish is ripe and refreshing with juicy acidity. Serve cool and enjoy, this very pretty wine is highly recommended! David Lillie
From a small hillside parcel of 50-plus year-old vines in Brouilly, certified organic. Carbonic maceration with no addition of SO2, followed by foot-pressing, gravity fed into large barrels or foudres for aging. Light Garnet/black color. The 2016, at 12.5% alcohol, is back to the style of the lovey 2014, showing pretty aromas of raspberry and red currant with bright citrus notes and smells of earth and stone. The palate is light but intense with bright raspberry and tart cherry flavors over firm acidity with citrus and earth. The finish is refreshing with lingering citrus and mineral flavors. Serve with charcuterie, fish in sauce, chicken and pork dishes or hold for 5 to 8 years as this should be a very pretty mature wine. David Lillie
From vines averaging 70 years of age in the lieu-dit "La Croix des Rameaux" on a steep south-west facing slope with various degradations of granite. 90% of fruit was destemmed with a 21 to 24 day cuvaison. The free run and pressed wines were assembled just before final fermentation of sugars. Approximately two weeks later, the wine was transferred into neutral barrels (average age of 10 years) for elevage of 10 months. No added sulfur during vinification, 10mg/Liter SO2 added before bottling, no filtration. The 2015 La Croix des Rameaux shows a bright red-black color, with meaty aromas of ripe blackberry and earth with a bit of violet and black cherry. The palate is dense and a bit closed, showing deep black fruits with hints of citrus, earth and bitter chocolate, very textured and long. Certainly an impressive wine and better balanced than most 2015s at 13% alcohol. Decant in advance if drinking now, best served cool with a steak or grilled pork. This should be very interesting when mature, best perhaps 2022 to 2030.
The 2016 Lapalu "Eau Forte" is a selection of old-vine juice from Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Organic farming; the whole clusters are pressed in a traditional basket press and fermentation is with wild yeasts in concrete vats (not carbonic). There is a gentle maceration to extract color but with no pigeage or remontage to minimize extraction of tannins. Two-thirds of the wine is moved to older, neutral barrels to complete fermentation while one-third remains in concrete. The wine then stays in barrel or vat for five months before final assemblage and is not fined or filtered before bottling, with only 10mg/Liter of SO2. This wine is not meant to be a vin de garde like the Lapalu Brouilly Croix des Rameaux or Côte de Brouilly - it's a beautiful natural wine showing aromas of blackberry and violet with tart plum orange peel and spice, bright and pretty. The palate has a light feel but is quite intense with dense black raspberry fruit framed in very firm acidity with hints of mint, earth and citrus. This is serious "glou-glou," quite unique and delicious - get some saussisons or grill some pork and enjoy! David Lillie
The 2013 Maison Blanche is a superb blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from at least 45-year-old vines on clay. With low yields, use of native yeast, a combination of old and new oak, and little addition of sulfur at bottling, this wine has an elegant structure with bright acidity, great minerality, and supple tannins. The wine is elegantly complex with a gorgeous bouquet of cassis and plums, dark chocolate, tobacco, cedar box, earthy and purple floral notes. On the palate, the wine is luscious with a long and beautiful finish showcasing its finesse. This is a delicious wine that can be cellared for several years (8+ years). Pair it with beef stew, braised beef, spare ribs or lamb. Caroline Coursant
This is a delicious wine from Château Coutet, a Saint Émilion estate, which has been certified organic since 2012. The domaine has never used chemical treatments on the land creating a unique flora and fauna not found on any other surrounding estates. The 2014 Coutet shows a beautiful bouquet of red berries and black plums with purple floral and green tobacco notes. On the palate, the wine displays bright minerality, good acidity, and silky tannins, with a long finish. Drink now or age it for several years (5+ years). Caroline Coursant
Le Colombier de la Métairie is Maison Blanche's second label. Certified organic and biodynamic, this label is known for its accessibility while keeping a beautiful structure. The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from about 45-year-old vines, located in Montagne, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Libourne. The soils are clay-based, with a subsoil of limestone and gravel. Fermented with native yeast, the wine is aged for 15 months in cement vats and old barrels with minimal sulfur added before bottling. Le Colombier de la Metairie 2014 has a bright and fresh structure with great acidity, superb minerality, and smooth tannins. The nose is full of dark berries and plum notes, with some wood, spice, dry tobacco, herbal and floral undertones. On the palate, the wine is quite enjoyable with plenty of energy, savory notes, and a nice finish. This is a great, fresh wine that can accompany many different meals from the classic hamburger to spare ribs or herb-roasted lamb. A fantastic value to drink now or age for a few years. Caroline Coursant
Made from nearly equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a smattering of Cabernet Franc, farmed organically. The vines are grown on a gland of gravel and sand over limestone and clay. The 2015 is classic Graves with red and black fruits, notes of tobacco and cassis, with a fine core of minerality and ripe tannins on a medium weight, lifted finish. Delicious now, with a nice upside for mid-term aging. Enjoy with grilled lamb chops in a red wine sauce or hanger steak with an anchovy butter. John McIlwain
This is the “new” release from one of our favorite estates in Bas-Armagnac. Ravignan spares no expense in creating France’s premier brandy. French oak barrels are air-dried for a full seven years before being filled with a spirit distilled to the very low 50% alcohol. After almost 30 years the spirit reduces in strength to about 42 percent, but gains in complexity and develops a beautiful flavor of roasted hazelnuts, wood smoke and a touch of prune. Perfect for 1985 birth years! John Rankin The new 2017 bottling shines once again. The palate is thick and viscous, with notes of salted caramel and shaved dark chocolate transitioning to a beautiful dried fruit character of apricots, prunes and sultana. A hint of rancio peaks out from underneath the leather and woodspice, with a faint whiff of pickled ume plums and balsamic. Intense, but elegant, this is Bas-Armagnac at its finest, and one of the best values in the store. Oskar Kostecki
The 2015 Cos Varambon is a beautiful Pouilly-Fuissé to drink over the next five to eight years. The aromas show lovely pear, peach, honeyed lime-flower and citrus. The palate is round and ripe with dense pear and citrus fruit, very calcaire and supported by firm acidity despite the ripeness of the vintage. Serve with fish in sauce, white meats and mild cheeses or sip happily by itself, delicious wine!
A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from the Montagne de Reims, partially destemmed, fermented in barrel, and bottled without fining or filtration. The 2014 Bérêche Coteaux Champenois offers aromas of wild cherry, black raspberry, brambles and roasted nuts. The palate shows good density with dark fruits, crushed herbs, an underlying iodine-like soil note, and a fairly packed and somewhat dense lingering finish. This is a bit inscrutable at the moment and will benefit with a couple of hours of air or some time in the cellar. All the elements are here for further development: a serious Coteaux worthy of mid-term cellaring. John McIlwain
100% Pinot Meunier from the single parcel La Ruedes Noyers, farmed biodynamically, fermented in barrel. The 2013 Coteaux Blanc from Benoît Déhu has a lovely nose combining aromas of fresh stone fruit, sea spray, salted plum, and spice. The palate is racy and ripe with good richness (for a Coteaux Champenois). Flavors of fresh apricot, Rainier cherry and citrus peel vie with mineral notes for attention on a long sapid finish. This is a lovely Coteaux with just the right tension between the bright fruit notes and savory character. Delicious! John McIlwain
Though famed for their reds and the eponymous rosé, Riceys produces far more Champagne than still wines from its vineyards bordering Burgundy. And though the Kimmeridgian soils mean Pinot Noir in the Aube, they also make a convincing case for the underappreciated Pinot Blanc grape. Sourced from all eight of his terroirs, Olivier Horiot's Métisse, a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc, is based on the 2013 vintage with the balance made up of reserve wine from a perpetual cuvée stored in foudre. The nose is delicate and spritely upon opening with generous notes of white peach, lemon curd, and cool herb tones, opening to reveal aromas of brioche and ginger. On the palate, there is a sense of volume with generous stone fruit flavors underlain with a broad, stony character which lends drive to the long, lingering finish. This would be lovely with pan-roasted scallops, though there's certainly enough texture to accompany risotto with wild mushrooms, or roasted chicken. (Disgorged 3/15/2016, Dosage 2g/L) John McIlwain
Formerly known as Infloresence, as of 2012, Val de Vilaine, this blanc de noirs comes from a south-facing 1.49ha plot of vines in Polisy planted in 1974 owned by Cédric's father. If there's such a thing as an 'entry level' Champagne in Bouchard's lineup, this is it. Historically more approachable when young than Bouchard's other wines, Val de Vilaine, is now more tightly wound and concentrated as the already small yields were nearly halved to 26hl/ha bringing it in line with the other cuvées of Roses de Jeanne. Here you'll find a classic expression of Polisy terroir. -John McIlwain
Aurelien Suenen is one of the bright young stars of the Côte des Blancs, whose Champagnes seem to improve with every new release. His 2014 based Oiry Blanc de Blancs is a beauty. Wines from the village are typically sold under the Cramant designation (we haven't been able to find another Champagne with this single village designation, as yet), so this is a fine opportunity to taste Oiry's distinctive, chalky terroir. Aurelien's parcels contain some very old Chardonnay vines which make for some pungently mineral, stony wines. The vins clairs are fermented partially in barrel, spend nine months on the lees, and are bottled with 1 g/l dosage. The 2014 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of yuzu, Meyer lemon, quinine, and chalk dominating. The palate is chiseled, taut and very dry with racy acidity and an energetic driving finish. Suenen continues to grow with each vintage and this new line up of village designated Champagnes are particularly exciting. The 2014 will make a fine aperitif and shiny brightly with crudo or sashimi. John McIlwain
Aux Grands Liards is located beneath the Les Lavières premier cru. Its soils are comprised of limestone, ferrous clay, and gravel. Per the Domaine, the vines were planted in 1939, 1950, and 1979. The 2015 Aux Grands Liards is a bit more backwards than Les Bourgeots on opening. With air, the nose expands to reveal pure wild cherry, black currant, pomegranate, and an array of baking spice aromas, with just enough earthy notes to remind you that this is Savigny. The palate—equally circumspect on opening—also gains expressiveness and complexity with air. Lovely flavors of red and black cherry, hedge fruits, and game are counterbalanced by savory mineral and spice notes on a vibrant and velvety finish, with a sneakily racy acidity, and ripe tannins framing the whole affair. You could certainly enjoy this young, but there is fantastic potential here for aging into something special. One heck of a Savigny-Les-Beaune for those with patience! John McIlwain
Certified organic and farmed with biodynamic methods, Domaine Chevrot is one of the gems of Maranges. The lieu-dit Sur le Chêne is a south-facing plot on gravelly limestone on the eastern side of the appellation. The fruit from the 50-60 year old vines is hand-harvested, fermentation is 50% whole cluster, and the wine aged for 11 months in 15% new oak. The 2014 has aromas of red fruits, black tea, and orange peel with hints of smoke and spice. The medium weight palate balances red cherry and raspberry flavors with earthy notes and medium-grained tannins on a medium long finish. This offers a nice balance of fruit and Maranges minerality at an affordable price point. Decant now before serving or cellar for 5-9 years. -John McIlwain
Ripest red cherry and wild strawberry on the nose. Silken with ripe red fruits on a medium-weight palate, with a long, bright chalky finish. Simply lovely. Drink and hold. John McIlwain
The vines are in the lieu-dit "Queue de Hareng" below an old quarry at the top of the slope in Brochon, next to Fixin 1er Cru "la Perrière," on shallow red/brown soils of mountain silt and limestone pebbles over the limestone bedrock. Organic farming, wild-yeast fermentations with minimal SO2. The 2015 Jane et Sylvain Côte de Nuits-Villages is a superb and unusual Burgundy showing intense aromas of ripe strawberry and cherry with rose leaf, brown spice and herbal notes as well as dusty stone and mineral smells which are typical of this vineyard. With aeration the aromas become more pure and fruit-driven and the palate shows lovely black cherry, strawberry and red currant fruit, quite dense and ripe, with a finish that's extraodiarily long and pure. Decant 4 to 6 hours in advance if drinking now or cellar for 3 to five years and drink till 2027. Highly recommended for those who enjoy some minerals in their Burgundy!
This lovely Gevrey by our organic friends, Jane et Sylvain, is 45 to 60 year-old vines, certified organic, mostly in En Pallud (below 1er Cru les Corbeaux). The 2015 shows very pretty high-toned ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit with violet, soil, graphite and citrus peel. The palate is dense and balanced, with a mineral aspect missing in most modern Burgundies, with supple ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with citrus and herbal notes. The finish is very long with red fruits, spice, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-fashioned Burgundy that is delicious now and should age nicely, best perhaps 2022 - 2030.
Fahrlay is a south-facing, terraced parcel located between two rock outcroppings on the Marienburg, with predominately blue slate. Vines here are ungrafted and single-post trained: a time-consuming method preferred by Clemens and Rita Busch for their older vines. Clover, rose, and orange oil on the nose, the palate is both weighty and stony, with notes of greengage plum, nectarine pit, and a salty minerality. Cari Bernard
Sourced from multiple vineyards in the Saar, 2015 was a touch more off-dry, this year is electric. Stony with searing acidity balanced by a slew of stone fruit (nectarine, peach, yellow apricot) with Fuji apple for good measure on the long finish. Cari Bernard
This is a truly impressive sparkling Chenin Blanc from Michel Autran in Vouvray. It's dry, but not shy! Mineral and structured, with nice weight and power. Highly recommended! Eben Lillie
This Cabernet Franc from Chateau de Coulaine is a lovely wine. Coming from 15-year old organically farmed grapes planted on yellow tuffeau stone and sandstone, the wine displays a nice structure of minerality, acidity and elegant tannin. The grapes are fermented with native yeast and aged in large oak barrels with small addition of sulfur at bottling. With a beautiful bouquet of pyrazine, black raspberry, dark cherry, white pepper, rose and savory notes, the wine has a fine energy with a luscious texture. Enjoy this wine with duck, grilled meat, stews or nutty cheeses. Caroline Coursant
This is a delicious fresh wine from Chateau de Coulaine, a 12-hectare estate operated by Etienne and Pascale de Bonnaventure, who have been practicing organic and biodynamic farming since 1988. This 100% Cabernet Franc wine comes from the youngest vines near the Chateau, along the Vienne river, grown on clay/limestone and sandy clay soils. Harvested by hand, the grapes are macerated at cold temperatures and aged in concrete vats with little extraction and fining. Sulfur is added at minimal dosage at bottling. The nose shows a pretty aromatic bouquet of dark and red cherry, dark raspberry, strawberry, violet, chocolate, dark tobacco, light pyrazine and savory notes. The palate is vibrant with fresh acidity and silky tannin. A wine full of energy, drink it with light fares such as grilled pork chops, roasted chicken and light cheese. Caroline Coursant
Domaine Vincent Gaudry, located in Sury-en-Vaux, has been organic and Biodynamic certified beginning in 1993. The 2015 "Melodie des Vieilles Vignes" is from 50-plus year-old vines on clay/limestone soils, and is fermented naturally with wild yeasts. This is an outstanding Sancerre showing elegant aromas of ripe pear, quince, citrus and lime-flower, really quite lovely. The palate is fresh and lively with dried pear, stone and herbal flavors, very elegant and happily unlike most modern Sancerres. The stone and subtle fruit flavors continue in the refreshing finish, making this a superb food wine with anything from oysters to grilled fish and fish and chicken in sauce. And Crottin de Chavignol, of course. Highly recommended and a good value! David Lillie
100% Chenin Blanc. Pinon's only still, white, demi-sec wine in this very difficult and short vintage in which the estate lost 75% of its harvest. The "Le 2016" replaces the usual Trois Argiles, Silex Noir and Les Deronnières bottlings, with fruit from a range of those and other parcels. The vines average 40 years in age, are certified-organic and were hand-harvested from October 10-18. Fermentation took place spontaneously with natural yeasts and lasted 2-3 months in wood vats. The wine was aged 4-5 months on its fine lees in old tonneaux (large oak barrels) and gently filtered before bottling in April 2017 with 22.4 grams/liter of residual sugar (with pH 3.07). Total production of Le 2016 was 1600 cases (a yield of only 11 hl/ha). The wine shows lovely aromas of lime-flower, honeyed citrus, dried white fruis and earth. Firm lemony acidity and mineral flavors underlie ripe white fruits and lemon confit. The finish is very long with citrus,honey, pear and stone . Technically a Demi-Sec, the wine is balanced by the bright citrusy acids and will pair well with charcuterie, fish in sauce and white meats. Cellar for twenty to thirty years to create a fabulous mature Vouvray. David Lillie
Warning This bears no resemblance to "modern" Sancerre! Sauvignon Blanc from fifty year-old vines on Kimmeridgian limestone, late harvest, 20 hl/ha yields, aged sur lie for two years in old barrels, no added SO2. The 2013 "Sauletas" was harvested very late, with botrytis and ripe skins - the color is gold/bronze, that will darken with aeration. The aromas show very ripe peach and apple with floral, orange zest, spice and caramel notes. The palate shows spiced pear with citrus peel, fruit compote and mineral flavors that continue in the long finish with firm acidity. This is a complex and fascinating natural wine that might be paired with a full-flavored ceviche, monkfish in sauce or strong cheeses. David Lillie
From thirty-five year-old vines on clay over Portlandian limestone, with two years aging sur lie, 10mg SO2 before bottling. Sebastien Riffault makes Sancerres that compare with wines made fifty years ago. Organic farming, hand harvesting, wild-yeast fermentations, minimal sulfur and harvesting late, when ripe with two years aging in old barrels. The 2014 "Quarterons" shows a bright pale-gold color and floral peach, pear, citrus and caramel aromas. There is some botrytis here and hints of oxidation. Ripe peach and pear flavors continue on the palate, with stone, orange zest, brown spice and earthy flavors backed by firm acidity. This is a unique and delicious Sancerre, similar to the late-harvested wines of many years ago. This will please lovers of natural wines and will accompany full-flavored fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods and goat cheeses. David Lillie
Domaine Vacheron is one of the few organic and Biodynamic estates in Sancerre. The lovely 2016 is from 30 to 50 year-old vines on both chalk and silex hillside parcels. The grapes are hand-harvested, the fermentation is wth wild yeasts and the wine is aged in tank. The wine shows a pale bronze color and subtle armoas of pear, quince, lime-flower and stone with a bit of honeysuckle. The palate is light and crisp, showing stone and mineral flavors that underly white fruits, citrus peel, almond and mineral flavors, leading to a very clean and refreshing finish. Light enough to pair well with oysters, this will accompany any mild flavored fish or chicken dish and goat cheeses.
Made from Gamay Petit Grains planted in 1953, grown on a limestone parcel high in magnesium, in the Clos des Vignes du Maynes in Cruzille, organic since 900 AD, now certified biodynamic. The energetic Julien Guillot vinifies his reds without sulfur or additives of any kind, producing complex, mineral, elegant wines that transcend their appellation. The 2015s here are extraordinary, showing the elegance, purity and balance typical of the estate with the wonderful ripeness of the vintage. The wine shows gorgeous red and black fruit aromas with cranberry, earth, stone and musk and hints of mint, chocolate and spice. The palate is bright and intense with balckberry, citrus, stone and earthy flavors, that continue on the very long mineral finish. Always one of the greatest Gamays produced anywhere, the 2015 Manganite is a young wine that will benefit from decanting or five to fifteen years in the cellar. Highly recommended! DL
Located on the steep, rocky slopes in the shadow of Mont Blanc, high above the village of Freterive, lies Domaine des Ardoisières 17-hectare estate. With a winemaking history dating back to the Romans, the estate had fallen into disrepair becoming overgrown with forests and remained that way until the late-1990s when the vineyard sites were cleared and ancient terraces rebuilt. The estate is now being overseen by Brice Omont - a Champagne native who took over the estate in 2005 - with biodynamic principles having been employed from the start and native yeasts carrying out all fermentations resulting in truly stunning wines. This cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay, Jacquère, and Mondeuse Blanche which sees elévage in 2/3 stainless steel tank and 1/3 neutral barrique which gives it nuance and balance while maintaining a lifted freshness. Tropical and salty with pear skin and almond notes and giving way to stern minerals and more orchard fruit on the palate, it is an exciting wine for lovers of Savoie whites. Tim Gagnon
'Mont Blanc' is named for the snow-capped mountain 30km away from Dominique's winery. This cuvée is built to age but that requires personal discipline. 100% Gringet from vines planted at 450m elevation, the 2014 was aged for three years on the lees before disgorgement. The delicate nose offers elegant floral aromas and comes across as quite austere at first. By the time you slice the soppressata and collect the Comté from the fridge, the nose will have blossomed with honeysuckle, orange zest, nuts and orchard fruits. The palate has exquisite cut with powerful minerals driving fresh pear and apple flavors. An excellent vintage that should shine in 2-3 years. Amanda Bowman
All things being relative, this cuvée made me reconsider every wine that I have previously described as balanced. "Le Feu" comes Dominique's oldest, low-yielding Gringet vines planted on steep, iron-rich slopes at 450m above sea level. Incredibly well-knit acidity adds energy and freshness to wild herbal flavors that form a continuous loop across the palate. This wine is luminous. Amanda Bowman
"Les Alpes" is a blend of two parcels - one close to Dominique's home on marl soils and the other rich in limestone. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs before it's blended in tank and bottled with minimal sulfur. The 2016 is a lovely wine that shows pretty white flowers, tangy pineapple and orange blossom. Salty minerals and tart acidity give this a wonderful texture that is evocative of a briny Albariño from Northwestern Spain. Amanda Bowman
This Mondeuse comes from a tiny parcel on Dominique Belluard's estate. Usually this wine is made entirely in amphora but the 2016 was made using concrete eggs, 70% de-stemmed, and the rest whole cluster with a five-week maceration. The finished wine has an elegant silky texture with mouth-coating tannins. Aromas of smoky peppercorn and jasmine compliment supple flavors of juicy black raspberry, thyme, and black cherry. For best results, serve at cellar temperature and allow the wine to breathe for an hour before serving. Amanda Bowman
Les Perles du Mont Blanc is made from biodynamically farmed Gringet and spends two years on the lees before disgorgement. Fermentation for the base wine is done with indigenous yeast; the second with Champagne yeast and there is no dosage added, making for an exquisitely dry wine with fascinating complexity. This bottling is richer than in years past, but still intensely mineral with heady aromas of pine forest, baking spice, and toasted walnuts. The palate is decadent, with creamy flavors of pear, wildflower honey, nutmeg and bright lemon curd. The invigorating acidity makes this a versatile, food-friendly wine to pair with roasted chicken, oysters, charcuterie, or cheese. Amanda Bowman
"Printemps" is a delicious and fruit-driven sans soufre Malbec (or Côt as it is locally known) from Simon Busser. From 30 year old vines planted in high terraces on limestone and quartz, this is a sensational Malbec perfect for transitioning from cool nights to warm days. After studying natural winemaking with Oliver Cousin in the Loire, Simon returned to his grandfather's land in Cahors to craft his own wines. Oliver's influences can be observed in the way Simon works his land by horse only and treats his vines using homeopathic methods with no additives in the cellar. The 2016 is a knockout. The nose is redolent with black plum, sweet tobacco, anise, saddle leather and ripe cherry. Medium-bodied with dusty tannins, there is plenty of refreshing mineral acidity to make this light enough to drink by itself but juicy enough to accompany a BBQ. Flavors are ripe with red fruits, leather, and a touch animal on the finish. A serious value! Amanda Bowman
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 5% Viognier, this is a joyful, tingly "glou-glou" wine. No sulfites added, it's clean, and ridiculously chug-able. Some may note a touch of volatile acidity as the wine opens up, but from my experience with many bottles, this blows off quickly. It may even help lift the spicy, brambly, crushed raspberry aromas. All in all, it's fun in a bottle, at a very reasonable price. Drink with a slight chill! Eben Lillie
Les Donneurs du Temps is a tiny estate put together by Guillaume Gilet in Arbois, with a little help from his friends, who generously gave their time, and even parcels of vines, to help him get started. (Hence the name, literally "the givers of time.") The 2015 Poulsard "Marnes Grises" is the real deal with everything we love about Jura reds. The wine shows a slightly cloudy pale garnet color, with lovely Poulsard aromas of raspberry, rose, white pepper,and plum skin, very pretty and fresh. The palate is light and lovely with red currant and raspberry fruit, earth, clove, rose petal and orange peel. The finish has sneaky length, very refreshing, with a bit of tannin and peppery red fruits. Could I have some more, please? David Lillie
This is a lovely Biodynamic white made from Sauvignon, Semillon and Sauvignon Gris by Isabelle and Franck Pascal, whose great vineyard work and natural vinifications are producing outstanding wines on their clay/limestone terroir. The 2015 Sens du Fruit Blanc shows fabulous aromas of lime-flower, orange peel, ripe pear, melon and spice - really unique and lovely. Very complex ripe fruit on the palate - pear and apple with citrus and mineral flavors backed by firm acidity. Serve with full-flavored seafood dishes, Asian foods, chicken and pork, patés and mild cheeses. This is a lovely natural wine and a great value!
This is Chardonnay with no sulfites added, from Sylvain Bock, a winemaker who grew up in the Northern Rhone and developed his chops working at Domaine Mazel in the Ardèche. For a wine with no added SO2 and a "cooky" label, this really impressed me. I was expecting something a bit wacky, and instead was greeted with beautiful stone fruit aromas, and a mouthfeel that combined the richness and finesse of Chardonnay with its herbaceous and mineral side. Totally clean (even 8 hours later) and a great example of a natural wine that could fool the critics! Eben Lillie
Torre Nova is 100% Negroamaro from 30-60 year old vines grown on clay and rocky pebbles. The 2015 is quite light and a bit higher in acid than the last vintage, but it’s really pretty on the palate. Think tart cherries and red plums, it’s very herbaceous with a hint of nuts and pepper on the finish. Try pairing this with roast pigeon, a simply prepared fish or even beef tartare. Christine Manula
Pitch-perfect weeknight Nero d’Avola: light on its feet, with a vibrant acidity and ripe berry and juicy plum fruits. The bright, playful palate is balanced by just the right hint of dried herbs and spices to underscore any red sauce, pie or pasta. The Rossojbleo is dry farmed from about ten hectares of head-trained bush vines without the use of any chemicals or machines. Gulfi’s commitment to a manual harvest, along with organic practices in the vineyard and vinification using native yeasts, makes for a seriously satisfying young wine. And while this definitely holds up on day two, it’s pretty hard to resist finishing the bottle!
A delicious vermouth with a base of select white wines from the Southwestern France, Pineau des Charentes Blanc, and 27 different botanicals. A beautiful golden color, it is heady, floral, and intensely aromatic with underlying currents of licorice and anise. It is incredibly dry, but maintains a balance on the palate and it is here that its Pineau des Charentes roots show. This is perfect for sipping or in a more adventurous Martini. Tim Gagnon
Palhete is the local name for a wine that is made in a farmer's style, by blending red and white grapes to create a low-alcohol wine to drink during the day. As founder Vasco Croft explained to me, there was no soda or beer back in medieval times, and water was not reliable, so the Palhete wines provided the only trustworthy hydration at the time. This particular blend is 80% Loureiro and 20% Vinhão. Alcohol is 12%, admittedly not as low as the medieval version (these were usually between 4-6% alc.), but extremely drinkable nonetheless! Drink chilled. Eben Lillie
Blonde is a wine that Andréa Calek has produced for many years now. At times it's been bubbly, other times still. This time around, it's a still wine, made from Viognier. There's a delicate lemony note on the palette, with some herbs (cloves and allspice), and nice density. There's a subtle funky quality that floats around, but never settles into an actual fault or flaw. All in all a very balanced and enjoyable expression of a oft-underappreciated grape. Eben Lillie
Chapelle Saint-Theodoric is a joint venture between the Grangeon family of Domaine de Cristia and their USA importer Peter Weygandt. Le Grand Pin is all old-vine Grenache from a parcel in the Pignan vineyard on sandy soils. Whole-cluster fermentation in concrete vat with wild yeasts, minimal extraction, aged in 4 to 10 year-old large casks. A bit fuller-bodied than the lovely 2012 Grand Pin, the 2013 still shows great elegance and Burgundian finesse in a delightfully old-fashioned style. The color is a clear medium-red with bright aromas of ripe raspberry, elegant and pure with darker fruit, violet and hints of roast meat with aeration. On the palate there is ripe fruit liqueur, sappy and bright with earth and mineral notes, garrigue and firm citrusy acids. Terrrific length with dense red fruits and mineral flavors that persist. Drink now for it's youthful elegance, preferably with a long decant or opening the night before - best to hold 5 to 8 years then drink until 2030 - 2035. David Lillie
The 2015 "La Guigasse" is a beautiful CDP in an old-fashioned style, from a parcel with very old vines on sandy soils next to Pignan. The aromas are very floral and complex with bright cherry and raspberry but with a dark meaty, spicy side as well. This lacks a bit of the finesse of the Grand Pin but has old vine intensity, and will need some time. There are deep berry fruits on the palate, quite dense and with firm tannins, with earthy mineral notes. Terrific length and weight, not as immediately enjoyable as the Grand Pin, but give it 5 years to open, then drink until 2035.
What do we have here? Old-fashioned Gigondas? We are seldom fortunate enough to taste these. Clos du Joncuas farms organically, vinifies whole-cluster in concrete, and does élevage in old large casks. The color of the 2006 is a bright intense ruby. The nose is floral, black-fruited, plummy with savory hints of animale and garrigue. This evolves into spicy and earthy notes without losing any sense of ripe-not overripe-fruit. There is good richness to the palate; the ripe fruit is at the forefront with a significant counter-balance of earth. Black pepper, violets, leather follow on the mostly-resolved, long finish. There is a hint of dryness, perhaps from the old oak, but no sense of austerity. Consider it refined rusticity. Was lovely paired with grilled lamb and Borlotti beans.
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. This is a dense, old-school Gigondas that needs time. Dark purple/black color, deep blackberry aromas with earth, brown spice, prune and licorice. The palate is deep and dense with blackberry, garrigue, earth and mineral flavors framed in firm tannins and acidity Long finish of earthy minerals and black fruits. (April 2015) Tasted in January 2017 at the estate, the wine showed fabulous aromas of berry liqueur, earth, mint, garrigue and licorice; the palate was beautifully structured, deep, elegant and balanced with firm acidity and a great finish. Ten years from maturity but beautiful now with a steak if you can't wait... Bravo to the Chastan family for continuing to make wines like this!
80% Grenache with Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah, on Triassic clay/limestone soils, always farmed organically. Whole cluster fermentation in vat with 12 months aging in large old barrels. Although we love this beautifully old-fashioned, organic wine in every vintage, Dany and Carole Chastan have made perhaps their best wine ever in 2015! The wine shows deep aromas of blackberry, dark chocolate, prune, garrigue, musk and citrus, quite focused and elegant. The palate is pure, supple and balanced, even at 15% alcohol, with dense blackberry, tart cherry, red currant, spice, earth and minerals, with tart red fruits, minerals and citrus in the very long finish. This is a superb Gigondas that can be enjoyed immensely now with a steak, pork or lamb chops, Morrocan tagines and full-flavored cheeses. Cellar 10 to 15 years for a mature experience. This is a superb wine and a great value - thanks to Carole and Dany for their great farming and traditional winemaking!
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. Dany and Carole Chastan have made another superb Vacqueyras in 2016, a bit brighter than the opulent 2015 version, showing dark black/red color and bright aromas of blackberry, black olive and licorice with plum skin, garrigue, violet and bitter chocolate. This young wine is showing deep black fruits with firm acidity and terrific length with chalky mineral notes, earth, citrus and olive. This will be fantastic with grilled foods this summer and will improve over the next few years - drink happily until 2030. Highly recommended and a great value! David Lillie
Since its inception in 1992, Philippe and Véronique Grenier have practiced organic farming on their tiny estate in Chavanay, in the AOC Saint-Joseph just south of Condrieu. Their 2015 "Altitude 300" is a beautiful white Saint-Joseph made from 80% Roussanne and 20% Marsanne. The lovely aromas show the Roussanne, with hay, stone, pear, almond, brown spice and lime-flower. The palate is ripe, round and balanced showing stone, peach, apricot, citrus and dried herbs — really pretty, with saline acidity and white fruits lingering in the finish. This is an outstanding northern Rhone white to drink over the next 5 to 8 years and a superb value!
Guy and Thomas Jullien make a small quantity of fascinating and delicious white Cotes du Rhône on their organic estate in Suzette, on the slopes of the Dentelles near Beaumes-de-Venise. "Carlina" is made from 45% Clairette, 45% Roussanne and 10% Grenache Blanc grown at high altitude on clay/limestone soils, vinified with some skin contact and with minimal SO2. Bright pale gold color, with aromas of spiced pear, anis, lemon peel and almond. The palate is round and ripe but nicely balanced, really showing the Roussanne with lemon confit, pear, hay and herbal flavors, with stone and mineral notes. This is quite delicious and complex, perfect with fish in sauce, Asian foods, chicken and pork dishes and full-flavored cheeses. David Lillie
Domaine de Marcoux farms about 18 ha in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. There is a wide range of soil types from sandy soils in Charbonnières, to red clay and galets in L’Arnesque and Les Bouquets, to limestone and marl in Les Esquirons and Beaurenard, to red clay and gravel in Gallimardes, Les Serres and Les Plagnes. They grow mainly Grenache, with an average vine age of 50 years old, with smaller amounts of Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault. There is a four week wild-yeast vinification with minimal extraction followed by aging in cement vats and large barrels. The 2015 Marcoux shows a dense garnet/black color with meaty blackberry and black cherry liqueur with floral, spice and pepper. The palate is dense and sappy, quite supple and ripe with bright red currant and berry fruit that is lifted by firm acidity and that continues in the long well structured finish. As with all the 2015 Châteauneufs, the lovely fruit makes this delicious now, but three to five years of aging will really open the wine which should drink well for 15 to 20 years. This is a wine with great character and authenticity, well done Domaine de Marcoux! David Lillie
Because of Martinique’s history with France, bottles of rhum will often feature some of the same nomenclature that is used to denote age on Cognac labels. Here we have a V.S.O.P., which stands for “very special old pale,” a phrase used in the Cognac trade to highlight aged brandies for British merchants. Some extra oak aging tempers the spirit’s initial herbaceousness with flavors of clove, cinnamon, and smoke. This is extremely complex, round and easy to drink. Treat it as a fine brandy or whisky and enjoy it in a snifter after dinner. John Rankin
Asamai Shuzo is located deep in Akita Prefecture, in the northern part of Honshu, Japan's largest island. Akita is known as snow country, with very cold winters due to to winds blowing off the Sea of Japan- perfect for sake brewing. Asamai Shuzo uses only Akita-grown rice, which is quite rare; many breweries will source rice from all over Japan. Each year they produce quite a small amount of sake, but it's very well regarded both locally and nationally, and we're very happy to find some here in New York. The Amanoto Tokubetsu Junmai is a blend of Ginnosei and Miyamanishiki rice polished to 55%. On the attack it is soft and rich, with notes of white flowers, peach skin and marzipan, followed by a bright spark of tropical fruit before it eases into a long and savory finish. As it warms up to room temperature it gains in complexity, exhibiting a slight saline character, and increasing in richness, with the palate becoming thicker and more unctuous. The whole experience is framed by a bright and persistent acidity, making this a very food friendly sake. We shared a bottle in the bowels of New York's Decibel Sake Bar with some okonomiyaki and edamame gyoza, but I wouldn't hesitate to pair this with a wide range of foods. Oskar Kostecki
Hakkaisan produces sake in Niigata Prefecture, and they are a benchmark for the clean and elegant style of the region. Niigata is known as snow country, and in this particular case Hakkaisan is using the tradition and natural bounty of Niigata to create a unique and interesting new addition to their line-up. A yukimoro is a structure filled with snow all year around that allows for the storage of perishable goods without using electricity. Hakkaisan have loaded theirs with hundreds of tons of snow and age their wonderful junmai ginjo for an additional three years. The massive amounts of snow keep the yukimoro at a constant temperature of three degrees Celcius. Notes of orange, orange blossom, pear, white flowers and lychee on the nose, the palate is broad and rich but direct, with great acidity. Long and complex finish. Unlike most aged sake I have tried, this is very fresh and balanced, without the typical notes of umami or oxidation that usually develop. A few other producers in Niigata are experimenting with snow aging, and we are excited to see where this method goes in the future. Oskar Kostecki
Arabashiri means“first run” and is the quintessential Spring sake. It is only around for a short while each year and is the bottling of the free run juice before it has been pressed in the vat, and consequently has bright flavors, high acidity and a pleasant yeasty quality. It is packed with vivid flavor and plenty of verve and pairs well with various foods. The 2018 bottling from Masumi is brighter and more elegant than previous years, with notes of lemon, tangerine, apple, pear, and fresh cut grass. We're super excited to finally have this back. Don't miss out before it sells out. Oskar Kostecki
Honjozo is sake made with a small amount of brewers alcohol added during the final stages of the fermentation process. The added alcohol extracts more flavor from the mash, yielding a more effusive character. Midorikawa is a distinctive brewery in Niigata Prefecture, deviating from the classic light-bodied and elegant sake typical of the region. Everything they produce spends at least a year resting before it's released, leading to a richer, more umami-driven beverage. Notes of apple, pear skin, and melon interweave with a delicate nuttiness and aroma of dried leaves and flowers. A beautiful honjozo! Oskar Kostecki
Mutemuka Shuzo is located in the mountains of Kochi Prefecture on the southern shore of Shikoku Island, close to the source of Shimanto-gawa, known as Japan's "purest" river on account of its remote location and lack of dams or other obstacles. Established in 1893, Mutemuka has been an early pioneer of organic rice farming, and for the past few generations has been crafting bold expressions of sake. This junmai nama genshu (unpasteurized and undiluted) is a knockout. Laden with bold umami flavors, this explodes on the palate with notes of grass, hazelnut, cocoa nibs, parsnip, dried apricot, raw honey, citrus peel, and a slightly lactic quality. Due to the slightly higher alcohol (18%) is has a very rich mouthfeel and feels vibrant on the palate. Pair with roasted meats and vegetables (it was particularly good with pork), mushroom risotto, hearty udon, and other savory, umami-laden dishes. Oskar Kostecki
Nanbu Bijin in Iwate prefecture has been brewing premium sake for over a hundred years. The Tokubetsu Junmai is their stalwart, a sake to be enjoyed at any time; easy drinking and unfussy, with nice texture and a clean finish. The nama version is super fun, adding vibrancy and freshness. The nose offers notes of green apple, melon, grass, and blossom. The palate is a touch more savory and shows some steamed rice and toast flavors, as well as more tropical fruit when it warms up, think pineapple and papaya. A little brash when first opened, this sake integrates wonderfully after 15-30 minutes of air. A great entry level nama! Oskar Kostecki
Omachi is quickly becoming my favorite sake rice. It is the oldest known pure (i.e. non cross-bred) variety, and when brewed to its full potential is wonderfully balanced. Integrating earthy and herbal tones with a subdued fruit profile; less flashy and effusive than Yamada Nishiki, but with depth and complexity. This beautiful namazake from Rihaku Shuzo in Shimane Prefecture is one of the most elegant namas I've had, with notes of white blossoms, pear, white peach, and fresh cut grass on the nose. For "Origin of Purity" they are using flower yeasts, isolated from Japan's natural flora by the crazy cats at Tokyo Agricultural University and used in sake production since the late '90s. Flower yeasts add a heightened aromatic quality, which coupled with the savory undertones of the Omachi rice makes this a very complex sake. The palate opens with more earthy tones of radish and steamed rice, along with citrus and citrus rind, and a slight lactic quality I associate with nama. It's vibrant but elegant, with notes of raw cacao and hazelnut as it warms up in the glass. Very limited in quantity, this is a must-try on my list. Oskar Kostecki
Uehara Shuzo is located in Shiga Prefecture, on the shores of Japan's biggest lake, Lake Biwa. The brewery is very traditional, using a wooden press and old wooden vats for fermentation, which is mostly done without the use of cultivated yeasts. Uehara works extensively with local farmers who are committed to sustainable rice-farming practices. This particular bottling is an usunigori (thin nigori), not as viscous and fleshy as most nigori, just lightly cloudy with a beautiful silvery tone and a rich, soft mouthfeel. This is a nama genshu, or unpasteurized and undiluted sake, so be prepared for some bold flavors. Honeydew, cucumber peel, white peach, spring onion, grass, and a creamy, leesy quality are all present here, making this a complex example of a singular style. High acidity keeps this sake from becoming too overbearing and leads to a clean and crisp finish. Oskar Kostecki
Kilchoman is the first new distillery on the famed island of Islay for 124 years. The concept is a "farm distillery" that houses every aspect of the production, from growing the grain to bottling the barrels. The results are fantastic with soft peat and salty citrus flavors. This bottle is a vatting of three, four and five year old whiskies, with meticulous barrel selection giving the scotch a more mature profile than one may think. JR
From the peninsula of Campbeltown comes the historic Springbank. Campbeltown once was the thriving center of Scottish distillation, now Springbank is one of the few left. A truly artisanal operation that employs their own floor maltings. Springbank uses a light peating for a smoky island character. The malt is actually distilled two and a half times, so there is a lightness that, when combined with the rugged terrain, creates a complex scotch that is very unique. Most of the malt was raised in Bourbon barrels for a pure, dry expression. (46% ABV) JR
Leonardo Erazo created “A Los Vinateros Bravos” winery in the heart of the Itata region in southern Chile. The volcanic and granitic soil provide an extraordinary environment for root growth resulting in healthy vineyards. His vineyards are organically tended, and dry farmed, wines spontaneously ferment in cement, and are not fined or filtered. This is Pais (otherwise known as the “mission grape” because it was likely brought to Chile by missionaries), which yields a lighter bodied red wine. Enjoy with a slight chill on its own or with food.
Fragrant, lively, inexpensive and certified organic, Vegas Altas white is one of the most complex and delicious Spanish values in recent memory. Inviting and dry, medium modied, with flavors of crisp ripe pear, green melon, lavender, almond, and apple blossoms, this is our first experience with Eva de Los Santos, a local grape from Extremadura (the dramatically beautiful region bordering Portugal in western Spain). Enjoy with seafood, fish in sauce, poultry, cheeses, and vegetarian meals. Ariana Rolich
Pomagrana is 100% Trepat from our friend Fredi Torres (known to our customers through his eponymous Priorat and Montsant wines, as well as Silice Viticultores in Ribeira Sacra). Fredi is known for finessing elegant wines out of big, bodacious varieties like Carignan and Grenache, and Trepat is used to make ethereal, pale and herbal reds and rosés, so we knew his Trepat project in the Conca de Barberà (southern Catalonia, Spain) would be a hit. Pert and mineral, with a refreshing 11% alcohol and tart raspberry, cranberry, and (you guessed it!) pomegranate fruit. Best served with a chill alongside snacks, cheese, charcuterie and friends! AR Many customers have been asking for a red wine to pair with fish and Pomagrana is the perfect red wine for that! Think of Thai- or Vietnamese-inspired meals with seafood or fish, sushi, blackened salmon, or seared tuna. Light and bright with great energy and nice acidity, the wine will enhance your meal without overwhelming it. A fantastic option for people who don't want to drink a white wine with their fish! Caroline Coursant
A pleasure and a rarity from sparkling wine master Loxarel: 100% Garnatxa Blanca from organic and biodynamically farmed vineyards at 700m altitude in the Alt Penedes. Loxarel's commitment to revealing and heightening the expressions of local varieties is on full display in this zesty, refined, vintage-dated sparkler, with 15 months on the lees, green apple and stone fruit aromas and a complex, Mediterranean palate of tangy lemon, spicy apricots, resinous green herbs, almond blossom and lavender, with a hint of sweet smoke, olive oil, and brine on the finish. A fine bead makes for a perfect paring anywhere you would reach for a still white wine; we recently found this delightful at lunch with egg tortilla and dark leafy greens, also a refreshing foil to fish and chips or simple seared scallops.Ariana Rolich
Produced from the wild agave Selmiana in the high altitude Central Mexican Plateau in the state of San Luis Potosi, this is a beautiful foil to traditional Oaxacan mezcal. The agave is not roasted, but cooked (similar to Tequila) resulting in a spirit that is not smokey, but instead bursts on the palate with a crazy array of flavors. Herbal and mineral tones weave their way through a bright citrus and floral character. There's a slight sourness, a funk that I associate with cheese rind, and noticeable acidity, which is quite shocking for a distillate. The wilder side of mezcal. What I also notice with my bottle of Selmiana is that it changes quite remarkably once open. When I first popped the cork, it felt slightly muted and withdrawn, but within 20 minutes all the exuberance I remembered from previous bottles was there again. It is fascinating watching the bottle change and evolve over a period of weeks. Oskar Kostecki
Barril is a subspecies of Karwinskii agave which grows wild at high elevations, and often takes up to fifteen years to mature. This batch from Simeone y Apolonio Ramirez is very effusive and perfumed, characterized by violets, jasmine, fig, a mineral slate character, a hint of umami and an undercurrent of salinity. Only 133 bottles made! Oskar Kostecki
An ensamble, or blend of several different agave species all co-roasted, co-fermented, and co-distilled, is a historic style with a long tradition. With different species taking various length of time to mature, making an ensamble was a mezcaleros way of pulling from the available bounty of the land and creating a special, oftentimes unique batch. These are some of our favorite styles of mezcal, carrying great complexity. This is a blend of Espadin, Tepeztate, Tobala, and various Karwinskiis, and explodes on the palate with notes of tropical fruit, melon, roasted pineapple, evergreen, resin, violets, hot stones and remarkable salinity. Oskar Kostecki
The mezcals of Berta Vasquez (one of the few women mezcaleras!) have a beautiful common thread running through them, a mark of clay and baked earth. Old-school and rustic, they are lean and taut, like a runner keeping low to the ground, speeding over hot stones. Her Espadin (the most commonly planted agave varietal) holds true to that vein, and a rocky minerality interweaves through the notes of tropical fruit and roasted pineapple that are tell-tale signs of the species. There is also an herbaceous character of green chiles and green papaya, and a faint note of cacao. Very well-rounded and complex, this a standout Espadin. Oskar Kostecki
This mezcal is one of the most intriguing bottlings I have tasted. Aureliano Hernandez crafts this in the village of San Balthazar Guelevila using Espadin grown at altitudes of over 1500 meters. He allows the plants to reach full maturity and shoot up a quijote, a flowering stalk which grows from the piña and signals that the agave is ready to reproduce. At this point Aureliano cuts off the quijote and allows the Espadin to further mature, trapping all the sugars that were meant to go into its reproductive cycle in the piña. When he harvests at around twelve years of age, the agave is incredibly ripe, producing notes of raw honey, burnt sugar, and brown butter, with a rich and viscous mouthfeel. Absolutely stunning. Oskar Kostecki
Agave Mexicano, sometimes known as Dobadaan, is a close relative of Espadin. It typically grows to be larger than its cousin, and there are various strains found all across Oaxaca, many that are indigenous to a particular village. Mexicano is characterized by its full-bodied, spicy nature, and this example by Berta truly delivers. Notes of jalapeño, baking spice, cinnamon and roasted fruit abound on the rich and textured palate of this mezcal. With a long, sweet and smoky finish, this is a perfect gateway for whiskey drinkers dipping their toes in the world of agave spirits. Oskar Kostecki
A pechuga is a special batch of mezcal, traditionally made by hanging a chicken or turkey breast directly in the still, and letting the vapors pass through it on either the second of third disillation. Historically, a pechuga would be distilled in small batches and kept for celebratory purposes: graduations, weddings, etc. As mezcal increases in popularity, there is a greater demand for pechuga styles and many producers are now bottling their pechugas for commercial purposes. This particular expression comes from Aureliano Hernandez's cousin, Leonardo, in the village of San Balthazar Guelevila, and he uses a rabbit breast instead of the typical poultry. This lends the mezcal a rich, gamey, savory quality that blends with the smoky, roasted tropical fruit and mineral notes of the Espadin. A very unique bottling. Oskar Kostecki
This is a single-distilled mezcal, and the intensity on it is quite breathtaking. Tepeztate is a rare wild agave, usually found growing on steep cliffs, and often taking up to 25 years to mature.Simeone y Apolonio Ramirez are a father and son team located in the village of San Agustin Amatengo, and make vibrant single-distilled mezcals from agave wild-harvested from the surrounding countryside. This batch of Tepeztate is deep and intense, showing signs of evergreen, herbs, pepper, resin, dried flowers, and green papaya. Very complex with a long finish. A little over 100 liters made! Oskar Kostecki
Tobaziche is part of the Karwinskii family of agave, and is characterized by a long piña (heart of the agave) and long leaves that shoot out high off the ground. For me, Karwinskii agave almost always exhibit a higher toned, more floral character, and tend to have more pronounced acidity as well. Berta's 2017 batch of Tobaziche is an interplay of red and green chiles, dried violets, orange and grapefruit flesh, orange rind, mango, and hot stones. Balanced and complex, with a long clean finish - this is a mezcal to savor. Oskar Kostecki
The grapes from this vineyard (named after George Besson Sr. and Jr. whose families have lived and tended this vineyard since the 1930s) is fermented with native yeasts, using 15% whole cluster (with the rest destemmed), and racked into neutral barrels, unfined and and unfiltered. This wine envelops the palate with black cherry skin and fruit flavors, and violet, freshly rained earth, and menthol undertones. Despite the lightness and brightness of this Grenache, all the flavors resonate with an understatedly profound intensity. Pair with roast turkey with cranberry sauce or mushroom and herbed stuffing! Jonas Mendoza
Counoise, here sourced from Eaglepoint Ranch located 1800 feet above the Ukiah Valley in Mendocino, is one of the rarer blending grapes from the Southern Rhone, and is not frequently made into varietal wines. But here Broc Cellars has created a beautiful wine that makes me excited to try and find more of this grape. Native yeast fermentation occurs in 5 ton open-top wood tronique, a tank that slants inward allowing more of the cap to remain in constant contact with the juice. This is followed by twelve months in 600-1200L old German casks. On the nose this Counoise has some dark fruit wrapped in a stylish melange of eucalyptus, sage, and baking spices. One the palate this wine is wonderfully savory, with animal hide, beef jerky, hoisin, and kid leather. Dark in fruit, medium in tannin, this wine is perfect for summer grilling but can be thrown in the cellar for a few years as well. Andrew Farquhar
This is a fantastic zinfandel. The varietal character remains but the alcohol has been brought to heel and the structure is resoundingly more crystalline than many of the soupier 16% abv offerings on the market. A coiled spring, with an array of black and red berry fruits and still moderately dense with tannin, there is a fine black pepper note on the palate and the finish begins with a burst of red fruit complexity that surprised me. There is a note of funkiness brought to it by the volcanic soils of the two vineyards: Arrowhead in Sonoma and Buck Hill in Russian River. This zin is destemmed, fermented in stainless steel and concrete, and aged for ten months in neutral oak. A great wine on its own, this would be a fine partner to steak, meatball marinara, or blood sausage. Drew Farquhar
This wine is sourced from the Oat Valley Vineyard in Alexander Valley, which contains 130+ year old vines! The decomposed sandy soil here makes this site phylloxera-proof as well. Planted sometime around 1890, this extraordinarily old vineyard includes, in addition to Carignan, plantings of Palomino, Zinfandel, and Alicante. Thus, this wine's cepage is 85% Carignan, 10% Alicante, 4% Zinfandel, and 1% Palomino. The grapes are then fermented using full carbonic maceration, which, when combined with the crazy concentration from the old vine fruit, makes this wine an exciting and atypical blend of incredibly concentrated depth and bright freshness. Charred meat and bone broth intermingle with pomegranate, strawberry, and bright cranberry flavors on the palate. The general intensity of its flavors is immense, it feels like drinking an entire historical period in one glass. Andrew Farquhar
Cooper Mountain Vineyards started in 1978 when Dr. Robert Gross and his wife, Corrine, planted the first Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in the unique soils of Cooper Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Today, the estate has more than 100 acres dedicated to organic and biodynamic farming and winemaking. This Pinot Noir is refreshing and ripe, with brambly raspberry and cherry fruit, baking spice, and earthy flavors. Serve with a chill. Jonas Mendoza
Steve Edmunds has a way with Gamay, confirmed each year by the energy and depth of his red and rosé Bone Jolly wines. 2016 is light-bodied and fresh, taut and bright, with tingly acidity, tart cranberry, juicy sour cherry and citrus, and salty mineral earth. We look forward to every new vintage from Edmunds St. John. Let the adventure continue! Ariana Rolich
This is a fascinating 100% Dolcetto from the Fox Hill vineyard in Mendocino county. Whole cluster fermented, these grapes were dumped into large fermenting bins, using pitchforks, where they were partially foot trodden, lending it more power and a hint of spice and floral characteristics. Native yeast primary and secondary fermentation, basket pressed off the skins, this wine spends ten months in neutral oak before bottling. Tart cranberry fruit, anise, with some baking spice character, it is surprisingly dense as well. The soft fruit of this wine is protected from the elements by more thickly wrapped tannin, with a fine hushed character of woodsmoke permeating this heavier clothing. This is still Dolcetto, so it is in no way massive, but it has much more breadth than other examples I've tasted. Andrew Farquhar
Sourced from the Fox Hill vineyard in Mendocino, this Nebbiolo is an intriguing collection of opposites. Light and almost copper colored, the nose shows both classic and recognizably Californian fruit characteristics while still evincing the archetypal Piemontese notes of tar and roses, all blended with some mint, cedar, and finely-grained earth. Light and elegant on the palate, after a moment its deep formal structure is revealed, with the great tannin and remarkable acidity one would expect from this legendary grape. Half the fruit was destemmed and the other half remained whole cluster and was foot trod. Native fermentation was followed by a ninety day sealed maceration. This is what gives this wine its blend of delicacy and power. Two years in neutral oak barrel and one in bottle finish the journey from grape to glass. Elegant now, this wine will develop in interesting ways until at least 2025. Andrew Farquhar
Kudos to our friend Richard Luftig for the phenomenal quality and price of Pied a Terre Cabernet! Always one of our best-selling American reds, 2014 is a deep, ripe, and focused vintage for Pied a Terre. There is great energy and balance in this bottle, which will elevate your wintry dinners and holiday gift lists alike! Ariana Rolich
This 100% chenin blanc is sourced from Merritt Island in the Sacramento river delta, near Clarksburg. Natural fermentation occurred after six days on the skin, and continued for a month. Broad and inviting on the nose, this wine has fine citrus character that mixes with a broader, more textured elegance on the palate. Lemon curd and a delicate peach character intermix over light tannin from the extended skin contact, though it is softer and prettier than many more deeply hued orange wines. This wine will pair excellently with heavier seafood, like braised scallops, lobster, or monkfish, particularly if a cream sauce is involved. Light sulfur only at bottling. Andrew Farquhar
This beautifully rendered 100% Arneis from the Fox Hill vineyard in Mendocino is a classic.From two separate cooler parcels within the vineyard, the Arneis is planted on a well-drained mix of gravel and sand. Whole cluster pressing and natural yeast fermentation in stainless steel are followed by four months in neutral oak resting on the lees, which adds a layer of texture to the racy acidity. Restrained and finely etched, this wine has the structural elegance and clean lines of a woodblock print. Dried sap, beech bark, and mountain flowers intermingle with citrus and stone fruit character. Fine structure, great acidity, and a refined and delicate integration make this a fantastic match for seafood. Pair with flounder, shellfish, or smoked eel.
Before he passed away in 2013, Michel Couvreur was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and inventive of independent whiskey bottlers. Along with experimental cask regimes that included everything from ex-Calvados to ex-Jura Vin Jaune barrels, Mr. Couvreur was a specialist of the sherry cask, travelling extensively throughout Andalucia sourcing the very best butts to age his purchased Scotch. The Overaged 12 Year is a perfect example of that, a heavily sherried malt with an approachable price-point. Chewy and viscous on the palate due to its complete lack of filtration, it has notes of raisins, sultana, fruit cake, dried candied fruit, and leather. Perfect for a cold Christmas evening. Oskar Kostecki