Biodynamic. Zweigelt. Eiswein. Under $40. Matthias Hager works 12.5 hectares of vines in the Kamptal (Demeter certified since 2010). The vines for the Eiswein are 25 years old on average, grown on a mix of clay and stone soils. The harvest for the 2013 vintage started one night in November and then a spike in warm weather that morning meant they would have to wait until ideal conditions returned in January. Frozen grapes go directly to press, the juice ferments with native yeasts, and ages for one year in neutral oak. More of a Weißherbst wine in color, a blanc de noirs! On the nose come the sharp notes of botrytis: saffron, marmalade candy, ripe mango with a piquant intensity. The palate has a distinctive broad texture and richness balanced by intense acidity bolstering the vibrant flavors of raspberry, honey, and citron with a whisper of graphite and flower stems. A unique eiswein to sip with assorted cheeses and fruit- or chocolate-based desserts. Cari Bernard
A blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and a touch of Merlot; the Biodynamically-grown grapes are harvested by hand and see only stainless steel, so although the wine is medium in body, it boasts an incredible freshness. The nose is rich with notes of cherries and plums, while the palate is bright with juicy blackberries, cassis, dark plums, smoke, red apple skin, and dark chocolate. Works well with or without a slight chill.
Schilcher is a common specialty in Western Styria made from a high acid red grape called Blauer Wildbacher. What is less common are the non-interventionist methods Franz Strohmeier uses to work the 3.5 hectares of 40 year old vines. Franz constantly seeks new ways to express terroir through natural wine making, such as allowing a portion of his grapes to grow wild with no pruning. The result is intensely flavored grapes that create sparkling wines with stunning depth and surprising finesse. This is a bold dry frizzante packed with fresh red berries, bracing acidity, and fine creamy bubbles. The local tradition is to pair sparkling rose with fried chicken, but you can also pair with salted, pan-fried oysters for a maritime twist on an Austrian favorite! Ingredients: 12 large fresh (live) oysters, shucked; 2 eggs, beaten; 1 cup bread crumbs; salt and pepper, to taste; 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil; lemon wedges. Fry breaded oysters in a pan (cast-iron preferred) for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Amanda Bowman
From four hectares of massale-selection, high density plantings ranging from 50 to 100 years of age in the lieu-dits of Chenes, Corcelette, and les Martillets. Vigneron Jean-Claude Chanudet works the vineyards organically but does not seek certification. The 2014 Clos de Lys shows complex aromas of strawberry and black cherry, pepper, blood orange and musk with hints of earth and graphite. The palate is dense but not at all heavy with equal parts dark fruits and earthy flavors that continue in the long finish. After long aeration, the aromas are more focused and elegant while the palate remains a bit austere with earthy berry fruits, quite well structured, predicting good aging potential. Fans of Lapierre or Foillard should definitely try the wines from Chamonard, which are certainly among the finest of the Chauvet-style Beaujolais - this is a lovely natural Morgon that will benefit from decanting if drinking now, and will probably show best (as usual with Chamonard) at between five and ten years of age.
The Chignard Fleurie "Les Moriers" is consistently one of our favorite Beaujolais, coming from a high-density vineyard of 60+ year-old vines adjacent to Moulin-a-Vent. The wine is always quite elegant, even a bit austere in it's youth, due to the less extractive winemaking of the Chignards. The 2014 is a bit more expressive and full-bodied on opening, showing intriguing aromas of ripe strawberry, blackberry, plum, citrus and earth with hints of white pepper and spice - really lovely. There is fairly dense blackberry fruit on the palate with earth and mineral notes and firm acidity with berry fruits and mineral notes lingering in the finish. 12.5% alcohol. This is a potentially great mature Fleurie, best perhaps 2019 to 2025. Hats off to Cédric Chignard for his two beautiful 2014s!
Christian Ducroux' 5 hectare estate has been certified organic and biodynamic since 1985, and has operated as a nearly self-sufficient farm, producing its own fertilizer and compost, and plowing and harvesting almost entirely without machinery. The vines average over 60 years of age and are replaced by massale selection, giving extremely low yields. The 2015 Exspectatia (the wine formerly known as Regnié) shows a deep opaque red/black color. Slight reduction, then vivid aromas of blackberry liqueur, blood orange, rose, black pepper, brown spices, earth and licorice. On the palate the wine is very complex with blackberry and red currant fruit, earth, spice and citrus with a long intense finish of black fruits and earth that lingers on the palate. Only 12.5% alcohol, even in this very ripe vintage. Bravo to Christian Ducroux for his beautiful farming and for this complex, expressive natural wine! Re-tasted in October 2016, the wine showed beautifully, with remarkable complexity, intense aromas of ripe blackberry, violet, musk, pepper, licorice and earth, that continue with a dense, earthy texture on the palate. This is a living, changeable and profound wine of terroir that expresses the incredible farming and winemaking of Christian Ducroux - certainly one of the finest natural wines of France.(Decanting advised, no added sulfur - consume on the day opened.)
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. 12 mg of SO2 at bottling. In this year of intense ripeness in the Beaujolais, the Dutraive Brouilly Vieilles Vignes shows vivid aromas of raspberry liqueur, spice, citrus, menthol and violet with hints of earth and game; ripe red and black fruits on the palate with firm acidity, and dense fruit, spice, mineral and animal flavors in the long finish. This is a big, full-bodied and very complex Brouilly that will be most pleasing to lovers of natural wines and that will benefit from time in the cellar. Decant if drinking now and serve cool with grilled meats, guinea hen, charcuterie and full-flavored cheeses.
2014 proved to be an excellent vintage for many growers in Beaujolais, and we are thrilled to announce the arrival of Joelle and Roland Pignard’s wines! The vines for this cuvée are 60 years old, planted at high altitude on steep hillsides in sandy clay soils over granite in the lieu-dit "les Charmes," just northwest of their home in Villié-Morgon. The nose offers plummy, dusty fruit, with hints of cranberry, raspberry seed, and savory herbs. Over time it plumps up a bit showing lovely wild strawberry and morello cherry aromas along with a hint of graphite and a gamey quality. High-toned red berry fruit comes forward on the palate along with damp earth and red cherries backed by silky tannins and a crunchy minerality. Very pretty served quite cool now, but there is no doubt that this would age well over the next few years. Tim Gagnon (Tasted again in November, 2016, the wine shows deeper, sappy cherry fruit that coats the palate, and is much more supple and forward. Really a lovely Morgon that's beginning to open up - delicious right now, this will soften and develop over the next five to eight years.)
While the “regular” Morgon is aged entirely in concrete vats before release, Tradition has an extended elévage in neutral barriques before release (think Griffe du Marquis from Alain Coudert). This serves to add depth to the wine, while also softening and rounding it, making for a very unique expression of the Pignards’ terroir. Exuberant on the nose with bright red and black cherry fruit, red licorice, brown spice, and strawberry compote rising from the glass. The palate is broad and supple with bright red fruit flavors along with a hint of fresh cream, tangerine peel, ample minerality, and fine-grained tannins. This wine is definitely structured to age, probably best in 5-10 years, but is lovely now in its energetic youth paired with steaks, game birds, or pork. Tim Gagnon
Roland and Joëlle Pignard make a small quantity of Regnié from fifty year-old vines in a vineyard with clay and stones over granite, always giving a dense and mineral wine. The Pignards made a superb Regnié in 2015, very well balanced, even with the higher ripeness in this sunny vintage. The wine shows deep blackberry, red currant and plum aromas with hints of earth, graphite, violets and citrus peel. There is a lovely melange of black and red fruits on the palate backed by firm acidity and saline mineral flavors, quite full and ripe but nicely balanced at 13 % alcohol. This is a great glass of Beaujolais in the richer style of 2015 - delicious now but should develop nicely over the next five to eight years. And it's a fabulous value at $18.99! DL
Jean-Paul Brun of Domaine des Terres Dorées has 2 parcels of 50 year-old vines on a steep section of Mont Brouilly with a south-east exposition at about 1,000 ft of altitude. The thin soil is almost entirely stones of granite with a high iron content. (A more interesting terroir than the thicker, damper soils of Brouilly.) This is a gorgeous wine! Lovely, ripe blackberry and raspberry/strawberry fruit aromas with a touch of violets and earth. The palate is ripe but balanced (at 12.5% alcohol) with black and red fruit liqueur and fresh citrusy acids that linger in the finish. A beautiful Beaujolais for current drinking and over the next few years. Highly recommended! "Contains very little sulfite," says the label "store in a cool place and consume rapidly after uncorking" We haven't noticed any problem keeping this wine, but consuming rapidly after uncorking will be easy... DL
Always one of the greatest of Beaujolais. From 4.75 hectares near Le Clachet, from vines averaging 70 years of age, with some planted before World War One. About 2,000 cases are produced. Vineyard work is biodynamic, fermentation is with wild yeasts at a moderately low temperature (10 - 13 degrees Celsius). Aging is mostly in old barrels from DRC with minimal extraction. 2014 was a classic vintage for Beaujolais, as poor early weather gave way to sunshine from mid-August, producing well-balanced wines with good ripeness and firm acidity. The 2014 Thevenet shows reduction, then complex aromas of red currant, strawberry, earth, violet, blood orange, spice and licorice.The palate shows bright red currant and berry liqueur with mineral, citrus, rose and spice. The finish is firm with fruit and mineral flavors with good density and length. Decant if drinking now, this superb Morgon will be best from 2020 to 2025 and beyond.
From a small parcel in the southern Beaujolais on clay and silica soils over limestone. Direct press, one day maceration, wild yeast fermentation, no chaptalization, minimal SO2 The 2014 Les Griottes shows light herbal raspberry, rose and stone aromas. The palate is light but long with stone, raspberry and citrus fruit, crisp acidity and a nice mouth-coating finish. A lovely dry rose with enough depth and character to accompany anything from oysters to chicken!
A magnum of incredibly delicious Bordeaux! Michel Théron moved to Bordeaux in 1988 from the Languedoc in the south of France to study winemaking. His original plan was to complete his studies there, and then move back to the Languedoc to take over the family estate, but love prevailed when he met his Bordelaise wife. Not long after, the couple purchased a small parcel in the village of Cantenac in the Haut-Médoc in 1993 and produced their first vintage in 1994. The estate is now certified biodynamic and covers 7 hectares in Cantenac, Arsac, and Margaux on soils of gravel, sand, and some clay. This beautiful Haut-Médoc is a classic blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with sumptuous red berry fruits, a hint of smoke, cedar, and fresh tobacco on the nose. The palate is rather lifted, showing vibrant fruit and a touch of earth, and it is very approachable. It has great structure that hints at its aging ability, but it is more than ready to pop open at your next dinner party. Tim Gagnon
Though Château Langlais, located in Puisseguin Saint Emilion, has been certified organic since 1996, the vines have never been treated with herbicides or insecticides. The 2000 vintage is showing beautifully, with aromas of cassis, blackberry, and cigar box. The tannins are resolving but there is plenty freshness on the long velvety finish. This is a fine value in an aged Bordeaux and a testament to great farming.
Capovilla spirits are truly labors of love. The Bassano bottling consists of pommace from a variety of grapes from Vicenza. The secret to the rich, broad flavors is the rare still that Vittorio Gianni Capovilla uses. Called a bain-marie still, it heats the pommace at low temperatures to maintain the grape flavors and not create the offensive, alcoholic tones that mars many more commercial Grappa productions. We are extremely happy that Jan d'Amore has decided to import these spirits, and strongly recommend that Grappa and Eau-de-vie fans try them. JR
Dudognon makes Cognac completely differently than large Cognac houses. The grapes all come from the estate vineyards around the house in Grande Champagne. There are no additions made to the spirit, such as the caramel coloring commonly used by the large producers. The distillation is controlled by human hand, and not a computer. The resulting spirits are light and full of finesse, but also quite complex and long. JR
From the hillside 1er cru climat of Grésigny, whose shallow soils are mostly comprised of Jurassic limestone. Fermented with native yeast in a combination on used and new barrels. The 2014 is shows white flowers and fruit with aromas of lemon oil, citrus peel, and lemon blossoms. The palate is briskly mineral, with stony, salty flavors giving way to flavors of green apple, tangerine, and quince, with a racy, snappy finish. Like many of the 2014 white Burgundies, there is a sensational combination of energy and complexity and this over-delivers at the price point. A fine aperitif and a lovely choice for scallops, roast oysters, or fresh flounder. John McIlwain
From 30 -year-old vines in 2 plots in Les Champs Gain 1er cru high on the hill in Puligny-Montrachet. The 2013 is bright and floral on the nose offering alluring aromas of citrus blossom, honeysuckle, and Meyer lemon rind. The mid-weight palate features cool-toned flavors of white apricot, green apple, and lemon curd, with hints of a sweet leafiness and discreet oak on a distinctly mineral, verging on saline, finish. This has plenty of vibrancy and panache and will pair beautifully with shellfish or sautéed flounder. Lovely! John McIlwain
From Chardonnay grown on an excellent limestone/clay parcel in Aluze, next to Mercurey. Certified organic, hand-harvested, low yields, very long (10 month) wild-yeast fermentation in barrel, bottled by gravity, unfiltered. This is an outstanding Chardonnay of terroir thanks to the great farming and vinifications at Champs de l'Abbaye. Subtle aromas of stone, white fruits, lemon peel and herbs with a bit of new oak. The palate is intense and crystalline with strong mineral flavors, white fruits, citrus, spice and oak. (We are reminded of the Bourgogne Chitry by De Moor) The finish is dense and long with citrus, pear and stone - this is a serious glass of white Burgundy that will accompany oysters, grilled fish, roast chicken and much more. Not for lovers of Napa Chardonnay....
The 2014 Moreau-Naudet Forêts is a beautiful expression of both vineyard and vintage. The nose is saline, floral, and offers aromas of white flowers, Meyer lemon peel, and sea spay. The palate is brisk, bright, briny, and vividly mineral with a pungent stoniness, followed by flavors of citrus peel, crushed herbs on a driving, intense, lingering finish. This is just cracking and will reward aging. Great Forêts! John McIlwain
Jean-Claude Rateau makes lovely wines in the Hautes Côtes de Beaune in his east-facing vineyard of clay/limestone and marne soils. Quite racy and bright even in 2015, the wine shows subtle aromas of lemon,almond, stone, pear and apple. Intense, very mineral palate with pear, citrus and stone flavors and terrific length. Decant or open in advance if drinking now, serve with oysters, grilled seafoods, roast chicken and mild cheeses or cellar for 5 to 8 years. This is a real Chardonnay of terroir and a great value!
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, harvested early at 9% alcohol from NE facing parcels. Elegant white fruit aromas. The palate is very expressive with white fuits, minerals and herbal notes, rich but balanced. (Tasted with 5 grams dosage, our disgorgement is Brut Nature.)
The 1998 Ambonnay Brut has long been a staff favorite and this disgorgement does not disappoint. Brillliant, golden yellow in color and showing a finely-beaded mousse, this offers one of the two most expressive aromatic profiles of this current Beaufort lineup. Aromas of Mirabelle plums, toasted hazelnuts, and crème brüléee transition to notes of Jonagold apples, cinnamon, and wild flowers. The palate is generous and expansive and carries tones of brazil nuts, greengages, and irises that crescendo to a fine, zippy finish. This is complex and delicious Champagne! David Salinas ((NOTE: This refers to a 2014 disgorgement, the wine shipping now was disgorged in 11/16 or Jan 2017.) (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super good, strong, precise, pure. Great focused nose, good stong body, good minerality, long weaving forest trail...")
For its striking blood orange/copper color and for its vinous character, Beaufort's 2010 Rosé is one of the most compelling Champagnes on our shelves. 100% Pinot Noir from Beaufort's Polisy vineyards, there are geographic and stylistic similarities to great Rosé des Riceys. Aromas of cherry compote, cinnamon, spearmint, and butterscotch give way to gingerbread and herbal notes. The palate is broad and balanced with a juicy core of cherries, tangerines, and red plums before a lengthy mocha and mulberry finish. One of Beaufort's best rosés to date! (*Disgorged 10/2016) Tasting notes Jan 2017 "Absolutely super, in the end the wine of the night. Transparent, super light but dense and complex, long and unfolding in waves..."
This full-bodied and robust Rosé Champagne is expressive of Pinot Noir character as well as natural and chemical-free winemaking, a rare combination, especially in Champagne. The nose offers ripe sour cherry, cherry pit, quinine, almost Burgundian earthiness, and an ever so slight note of bitter herbs reminiscent of amaro. Cherry fruit carries through the mid-palate to the finish, which is downright tannic, in the best possible way. There is some dosage here, giving the wine a compelling balance of acid and sweetness. It's a fairly serious Rosé Champagne, one that could accompany a meal, but it doesn't present itself as austere in any way. Unique within our selection of Rosé Champagnes and well-worth trying. (Lot 11A. Disgorged 10/2016.)
Bio Champagne grower Bourgeois-Diaz is located in Crouttes sur Marne on the western edge of the Marne River Valley, where much of the terroir is perfectly suited for the Pinot Meunier grape. Their vines are near those of noted biodynamic grower and Meunier-specialist, Francoise Bedel. Their non-vintage extra-brut cuvee '3C' is named after the three cepages that make up the blend. The current disgorgement, based on the 2013 vintage, is red fruited on the nose and bright, briny, then broad on palate. There is a soft mousse and a rich, not zaftig texture with good cut and freshness. There is a nice sense of harmony on nose and palate. The finish is stony, persistent, with good detail, rising at the end. A fine aperitif and better still with sushi or sashimi (toro spoken here). This offers a great deal of complexity at an attractive price. (Disgorged 2/16/2016, 3g/l dosage.) John McIlwain
Made from 100% Chardonnay from organically farmed vineyards in Vertus, Le Mesnil, Orger, Avize, and Cramant, the 2009 base Cuvée Vendémiaire is a must for fans of chiseled, chalky Champagnes from the Côte des Blancs. With long lees aging (60 months, partially in oak), low sulfur, and bottling under lower pressure, this shows a more vinous side of Blanc de Blancs, while offering tremendous value. -John McIlwain
From the En Valingrain lieu dit, this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc makes a compelling case for the gôut de terroir of Riceys. The soils are a combination of marls and Kimmeridgian limestone, akin to the soils in nearby Chablis. A pale green gold robe, lemon oil, tangerine rind, rain water and sea spray on the nose. The mid-weight palate has a tangy, nearly briny, sense of minerality, with citrus flavors taking a back seat to the stony detail on the long, persistent, pungent finish. I love the energy and drive on this wine and would love to pair it with raw tuna and citrus or grilled swordfish with capers. John McIlwain
Though there are fewer than 20 growers of Rosé des Riceys, we tend to think of the wines as a coming from a single terroir. By vinifying separately two different lieux dits, Olivier Horiot shows the possibilities of expression within the appellation. En Barmont is a warm site, whose southerly exposure and marls interspersed with Kimmeridgian limestone produce a ripe Pinot Noir with a broader character than nearby En Valigrain. The 2012 En Barmont has a darker garnet/copper robe, effusive and floral on the nose with wild cherry, cherry blossom, and Red Delicious apple aromas. On the palate, vivid, racy acidity, bright red fruits with hints of crushed herbs, and a fine dusty minerality on a broad expansive finish. This is quite pretty with a generous ripeness and exuberance. 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
This Pinot Noir rosé is a blend of the saignée from villages and 1er cru fruit in Maranges, a straight pressing of Hautes Côtes de Beaune fruit, and pellicular maceration of fruit from Hautes Côtes de Beaune. Pale salmon in color and oh-so-fresh, the 2016 Sakura is a bit lighter than the very ripe 2015, with racy minerality, bright acidity, and vivid fruit. The nose combines fresh strawberry, cherry, and crushed herbs, while the refreshing palate features wild strawberry, savory minerality, and a lively, somewhat spicy finish. Try this perfect summer quaffer with marinated goat cheese, grilled chicken, or a salad made with heirloom tomatoes and fresh local greens. John McIlwain
From a 4.8HA parcel of old vines closer to the center of the village. The 2012 Pommard 1er cru Grand Clos des Épenots shows pretty aromas of strawberry, dark cherry syrup, grilled meat, iron, and anise. Layered flavors of wild cherry, plum, and black tea, with firm ripe tannins and a long, persistent, deeply earthy finish. This is a prime candidate for aging. 10-15 years in the cellar and this should be singing. John McIlwain
The 2013 Volnay Vieilles Vignes from Joseph Voillot is marked by the generosity of the vintage. Pure fruit and freshness (not to mention exuberant energy) are hallmarks of the year. Perfumed with aromas of cherry blossom, Morello cherry, baking spices, and black tea on nose. Positively lovely wild cherry fruit and red currant fruit, with supple tannins and a touch of that mineral zang on the supple finish. This is lifted rather than brooding, but has the stuffing for mid-term aging and should evolve beautifully for the next 7-10 years. John McIlwain
From 50 year old vines in four parcels below the village of Volnay. Cherry, iron, a bit backwards on opening, notes of black tea, freshly turned soil and rose emerge on the nose with air. There is a deft interplay between the bright hedge fruit and stony earth notes on the detailed, mid-weight palate. This is a fine Bourgogne, with enough savory elements in relation to the charm of the fruit, to warrant a couple of years in the cellar. Delicious with a salad of duck confit with bitter greens. John McIlwain
From a .6 HA plot with vines dating from the 1932, 1950, and 1978.The high limestone content of the soils results in high-toned wines with great energy and finesse. The 2014 Fremiets is perfumed with aromas of wild cherry, spices, rose hip, and red plum with hints of game. The mid-weight palate is likewise red-fruited with wild cherry, red currant, and red plum flavors underlain with a chalky minerality and fine, ripe tannins on an articulate, layered and rising finish. This is a lovely Fremiets with great harmony and verve. Delicious now with air, but this should really sing with a few years in the cellar. John McIlwain
From a .17 HA plot of 60-year-old vines in above Perrieres, on a natural wall of calcaire, or limestone. The name Les Poulettes derives from the small game birds found in the area. Christophe Drag notes the site is very warm and sees little wind, so is the first to flower and first harvested. The 2013 shows aromas of blackberry blossoms, dark hedge fruit, and cool herbal notes on the nose. The palate is black-fruited, offering wild blackberry and dark cherry flavors framed by a distinctive mineral edge on a bright, lifted finish. There's a fine balance of structure and fruit and this should drink beautifully in the near term, though I'd wager given time to integrate the elements, there is nice upside for midterm cellaring. Enjoy with mushroom dishes and certainly squab or poussin! John McIlwain
From a .41 HA parcel of old vines next to Chaboeufs on the north side of Vaucrains. The soils are brown, "fat clays make it hard to work the earth" according to vigneron Christophe Drag, with large oolithic stones are the top of the slope. Always the sternest and most majestic of Chauvenet's crus, the 2013 is aromatically dense with layered dark-fruit, game, and spice aromas giving way to pungent soil notes. The palate is similarly complex with pure black cherry, plum, and earthy flavors underlain with distinctively savory, verging on pungent mineral component on a muscular, driving, persistent finish. There are substantial acidity and ripe tannins girding this masculine, but not coarse Vaucrains, which will benefit with time in the cellar. Decant now, better still in 7-10 years when this should sing. A beautiful Vaucrains! John McIlwain
Gernot’s part of the Ellergrub lies just to the left of Weiser-Künstler’s parcel, which is great because they also work without chemicals in the vineyards. The 2.2 hectares of vines are 80 years and older and are ungrafted. The 2013 is having a moment right now, (re-tasted in 03/2017) showing development on the nose with deep honeysuckle notes, mirrored on the palate, along with ripe juicy peach, wildflower honey, and dark stones, managing to be both ethereal and powerful. Cari Bernard
Direct press Pinot Noir rosé from the Pfalz! The 2016 vintage is just a touch lighter in body than 2015 with even more mineral cut; flavors of wild strawberry tops and blood orange are brightened by a refreshing acidity with notes of green melon and raspberry seed. Cari Bernard
Todd Hardie began his career in beekeeping almost 50 years ago in Hardwick, Vermont, in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. This part of the state is an agricultural hotbed focused on honey, milk, cheese, grains, and herbs with a strong focus on community and respect for the earth. With family distilling roots going back to the 1800s (John and William Hardie of Edinburgh started distilling whiskey in 1857, and the company still produces whiskey today), it’s no wonder that the current generation of Hardies began crafting artisanal spirits in this corner of the world. The Barr Hill Gin contains one notable ingredient that truly sets this spirit apart: raw honey. The raw honey is added just before bottling giving it a uniquely wild, floral nose that changes with each batch as the season dictates where the bees collect their pollen and propolis. It is a touch sweet and the juniper is well-integrated which makes this a unique crossover spirit for those unfamiliar with gin and a new frontier for those already initiated. Tim Gagnon
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We will taste Ai Valloni Boca 1999 and 2001, and also Vallana 1961 Spanna Campi Raudii, Antoniolo 1964 Gattinara, Nervi 1964 Gattinara, and Nervi 1964 Ghemme; Dessilani 1978 Fara, Cantalupo 1978 Ghemme, Travaglini 1985 Gattinara, and Sella 1986 Lessona.
From young and old vines in a superb south-facing hillside vineyard of thin clay over limestone soils in Cravant. 24 months of aging in 2 to 4 year-old barriques. The difficult vintage of 2013 gave very low yields and less alcohol than usual, but the 2013 Croix Boissée is a superb, elegant Chinon that will age well and resembles a light, old fashioned Burgundy. The aromas are lovely and very floral with raspberry and red currant fruit. The palate is extremely mineral, not fat but with pretty red fruit, spice and earthy flavors over firm acidity. Given the vintage, this is an astonishingly good Chinon, but not exactly a fruit-bomb, that should be superb when mature, perhaps 2025 to 2035, and delicious young for those who appreciate more terroir than fruit in their Chinon.
From 25 to 30 year-old vines on gravel and sandy soils over clay near the Vienne river. This "basic" cuvée from Bernard and Matthieu Baudy has gotten more and more "serious" as the vines age, giving a wine that is delightful to drink young, but that shows surprising complexity and mineral character as well. The wine shows aromas of ripe raspberry and strawberry with hints of earth, stone, pepper and herbs. The palate is quite mineral with firm stony acids underlying lush berry fruits, and is beautifully balanced at 12% alcohol. Quite structured for "les Granges," this is delicious now, served cool, with roast chicken, white meats, charcuterie and mild cheeses and will imporve with 3 to 5 years of aging.
Andre-Michel Bregeon is one of the heros of Muscadet, having continued with hand-harvesting and natural fermentations while everyone else went to machines and chemicals, and is partly responsible for the return to quality of this potentially great region. His last vintage is 2011, as he is now in semi-retirement and the estate is directed by the very capable Fred Lailler. The 2011 Muscadet Reserve spent 30 months sur lie and is a beautiful wine! The wine shows superb, conplex aromas typical of the Gabbro soils, with lemon oil, almond, pear, powdered stone and mushroom. The palate is dense and very mineral with pear, citrus, almond and herbal flavors that continue on the long finish with firm acidity, white fruits and stone. This is a unique and distinctive Muscadet that will drink beautifully over the next ten to fifteen years. Three cheers for Michel Bregeon!!! DL
We're big fans of the Caslot family at Domane de la Chevalerie, who make soulful Bourgueils from organic vineyards on their varied terroirs. The Chevalerie vineyard is on mid-slope Turonian limestone with clay and alluvial sand and gravel topsoils, rich in silex; the vines average about 60 years of age. The lovely 2012 Chevalerie shows vivid aromas of berry liqueurs, bitter chocolate, earth and brown spice. The palate is dense and supple with ripe blackberry, cocoa, earth and mineral flavors balanced by cool acidity. The finish is long and lush with blackberry, prune, citrus and saline minerals. This is a lovely old-school Bourgueil to drink over the next 15 years - delicious now perhaps best from 2020 to 2025.
The Domaine du Closel "Caillardières" is a demi-sec Savennières that we have enjoyed immensely in the past - we're glad to see it back in the US and we can't wait to try it! "The grapes are harvested later ; the berries are golden, producing wines with aromas of baked apple, exotic fruits, raisins and toasted almonds. That terroir gives the wine a very silky texture, characteristic of these sandstone schist parcels. This wine is vinified and aged in barrels (French oak, 12 months) and reveals through natural micro-oxygenation this slightly bitter aftertaste that will give an interesting body to the wine. Rather smooth on the palate this wine has character. It pairs very well with artichokes or asparagus, other vegetables difficult to pair with wine. It is also popular with sweet and savory dishes such as veal stew with orange, monkfish with honey and cider vinegar, roasted pork with pineapple." - from the Domaine du Closel website.
The wines of Denis Jamain at the Domaine de Reuilly are getting better and better - his 2016 Rosé of Pinot Gris is from vines in conversion to organic and biodynamic certification, fermented with wild yeats. The color is a lovely pale onion-skin, the aromas are floral and pretty with gooseberry, peach and citrus. Light berry, peach and stone flavors on the palate are framed in firm acidity. With good ripeness, but subtle and balanced, this unique rosé will accompany a wide variety of foods, from fish to grilled meats and Asian foods, and it's lovely to sip by itself!
The site "Fosse Seche" has been producing wine since the 13th century, and unlike the rest of Saumur which is a limestone terroir, the soil here is stones of silex and iron oxides, producing distinctive, highly mineral wines. The estate is certified biodynamic and includes a diverse environment of woods and fields with a bird sanctuary. "Eolithe" is a cuvée of Cabernet Franc, with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon, from 10 to 50 year-old vines. The wine shows a light, pretty red/garnet color and lovely aromas of raspberry, red currant and rose. The palate is fairly light and very refreshing with nice density of raspberry fruit with earth and mineral flavors. This is a quite elegant expression of Cab Franc, all in finesse, which should be served cool with pork and chicken dishes and a wide variety of mild cheeses.
From 40 to 80 year-old vines on clay over limestone soils around Benais in Bourgueil. Certified organic since 1965! By now the great work of Stephane Guion needs no introduction to CSW customers, but the quality of his 2014 Cuvée Prestige deserves special attention. The wine is perfectly balanced, with the high acidity and mineral content always present in Stephane's wines framed by precisely ripe and supple fruit with depth and elegance. The aromas show raspberry and blackberry liqueur with hints of dark chocolate, earth and licorice, ripe but bright. Supple, ripe berry fruits on the palate with fine tannins and citrusy acids, deep and intense but forward and delicious now. This wine will drink beautifully over the next 20 years or longer and is highly recommended.
Julien Pineau, who now owns 6.5 hectares of the Clos Roche Blanche, has made a wonderful start with his "Roche Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc. Of course, having Didier and Catherine working for him helped, and he had trained for a year under Didier as well. Produced without the addition of SO2, this is a lovely natural wine that benefits from decanting or aeration, then shows aromas of white fruits, melon, lemon peel and lime-flower with bright herbal notes. The palate is supple and ripe but with brightness and lift from firm acidity, with dried pear, citrus, stone and fines herbes. Nice density and length as well, and the wine improved nicely with a few days open. Highly recommended for lovers of natural wines! David Lillie
A lovely young Chinon Picasses with the beautiful aromatic profile of this great vineyard — tart cherry, strawberry compote, earth and white pepper — really lovely. Earthy red and black fruits on the palate with the usual bracing acidity. Nice finish of "sous-bois," fruit compote and earth with juicy acids. A great food wine, perfect with roast chicken. We thank the young Eric de la Vigerie who is doing great work at Domaine Olga Raffault, and we remember wonderful tastings with Ernest Zenninger, partner and winemaker for Olga Raffault from 1947 till the late 1980s.
A full-bodied Sancerre from a single vineyard on a steep amphitheatre-shaped hillside in Sury, now tended with organic methods. The 2015 Les Godons shows pretty kiwi, citrus, lime-flower and pear aromas. Reflecting the warm 2015 vintage, the palate is ripe and round with white fruits, citrus and almond flavors with firm mineral acidity and a nice finish of white fruits and stone. Serve with full-flavored fish dishes, chicken, pork and goat cheeses.
Frothy pet nat deliciousness from Sébastien Cornille! 100% direct-press Pineau d’Aunis; it is ever-so-slightly pink in the bottle. After pressing, the juices were fermented in 6-8 year old barrels before being assembled at bottling in November. Secondary fermentation occurred naturally in the bottle and it was finally disgorged in July. It is delicate on the nose with aromas of white peach, red currant, orange blossom, and a hint of cherry. The palate is fresh and invigorating, with perhaps the slightest hint of residual sugar, and loaded with subtle red and yellow fruits, tangerine, hints of spice and a honey-tinged stoniness. It’s a simple wine – fresh, fruity, and easy to drink making it an excellent choice for parties of all kinds. To quote a colleague, “This is the perfect breakfast wine!” Tim Gagnon
The 2014 Tessier Cour-Cheverny is 100% Romorantin from vines grown on sandy clay soils over limestone. The wine goes through the malo and is vinified and aged in vats. This is a beautiful Cour-Cheverny showing distinctive aromas of pear and citrus fruit, lime-flower, toasted almond and hints of spice, really quite lovely. The palate is scintillating and dry with citrus, pear, herbal, stone and nut flavors, with nice ripeness and density and firm refreshing acidity. The finish is very long, with mineral, citrus and pear flavors that linger on the palate. Perfect as an aperitif or serve with full-flavored fish and chicken dishes, Asian foods, and especially with mild cheeses like Morbier or Raclette, or goat cheeses from the Loire. This will be very interesting with 3 to 5 years of cellaring as well. Lovely wine and a great value! DL
"La Porte Dorée" is from 40 to 90 year-old Romorantin vines grown on clay soils with limestone bedrock. The juice undergoes a long, slow alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, and the wine ages in old foudres and barriques. Minimal SO2 is added before bottling. The 2014 "Porte Dorée" shows complex aromas of pear, citrus, lime-flower, white pepper, almond and caramel, with a very slight oxidative character. The palate shows ripe pear, quince, citrus, almond and intense stony flavors that coat the mouth and are very dense and long. This is a very young wine that will benefit from decanting or 3 to 10 years of cellaring. Serve now with fish or chicken in a cream sauce and with a wide variety of full-flavored cheeses. Lovely wine! DL
The "Charbonnerie" is Tessier's better cuvée of Cheverny Blanc, mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a little Chardonnay, grown on sandy clay soils over the limestone bedrock. As with all the Tessier wines, the grapes are hand harvested and fermentations are natural with wild yeasts. The wine goes through the malolactic fermentation and is fermented and aged in vats, with minimal SO2 added before bottling. This lovely Cheverny shows pretty aromas of apple and pear, lime-flower, almond and stone. The palate shows subtle white fruit and herbal flavors with a beautiful mineral core, and perfect acidity, quite elegant and pure. While very delicious now, this is a young wine that will open up nicely over the next few years. Serve now with full-flavored oysters, sole, flounder and cod as well as chicken and mild cheeses. In a year or two, serve with fuller-flavored fish and chicken dishes. DL
The Tessier Cheverny Rouge "Le Point du Jour" is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grown on clay/limestone soils. The wine shows lovely aromas of tart cherry, raspberry and cinnamon with violet and citrus. There is a lovely melange of cherry, black raspberry and strawberry fruit on the palate that is light and lively but with good density and length. The finish is bright and refreshing with tart fruits and mineral flavors. Serve quite cool with charcuterie, grilled meats and mild cheeses - great on a picnic or summer cookout, drink over the next three or four years. DL
From Pinot Noir grown on the limestone hills of Chavignol. Lovely very pale pink color, pretty aromas of red raspberry, tart strawberry, citrus and melon. The palate is very crisp and fresh with candied red fruits, citrus and stony acids that continue in the juicy and very mineral finish. This is one of the raciest rosés you can find, very elegant and refreshing - serve quite cool on a hot day with anything grilled, or just sip and enjoy....
Bella Parra is a blend of primarily Cinsault, with some Syrah. There's something about Cinsault that offers bright red fruit, and a spicy, gamey character. I often describe it as "playful," as I find it stands out among many of the heartier and perhaps more heavy handed red varieties in the South. Here, it's given extra backbone through the addition of some Syrah, but the spirit is intact. This is a fun medium-bodied red, and a perfect carry over from the hot days of Summer into the Fall. Eben Lillie
A deep, dark, and exuberant wine from Faugères! Located just outside of the village Lenthéric, the 28-hectare Clos Fantine estate is run by three siblings Carole, Corinne and Olivier Andrieu. They built their winery in 2000, three years after their father’s passing, and have been making wines the honest way since. All wines are made without any added SO2 and spend 17-20 months in huge concrete vats, depending on the vintage. A blend of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault (all vinified separately), it exudes classic aromas of savory herbs, black currant, citrus peel, peppered beef, and a wisp of smoke. It has ample fresh fruit and acidity on the palate with just enough earth and funk before finishing with a tinge of pepper and herbs. Tim Gagnon
A beautiful, pure expression of Malbec, this comes from a limestone parcel that Julien is very fond of. 20% of the fruit is whole cluster (not carbonic maceration) and the wine is aged in cement. It has a vibrant nose, with bright red cherry fruit and a little spice on the palate. Very light tannin, and a fresh mineral finish. This may not be as dark as some expect from Malbec, but it's definitely a hearty wine nonetheless. For me it's a perfect all weather wine, substantial enough to satisfy in the winter months, and fresh and lively enough to serve with a slight chill when the grills come out in the summer. Eben Lillie
An exciting new arrival from Dominique Lucas! Just outside the small village of Ballaisons, on slopes overlooking Lake Geneva (on the French side of the border they call it Lac Léman), Dominique farms 7.5 hectares of certified organic (practicing biodynamic) vines planted in rich yellow marl and granite soils with a limestone base, and some silex stones on the surface. P’tit Coin de Paradis comes from a small parcel of 25-year-old Chasselas vines planted lower on the slope closer to Dominique’s house (his vines are separated into 27 parcels of different soil composition). The wine is vinified using only native yeasts and is raised in a combination of concrete eggs and neutral demi-muid barrels. This vintage captures the essence of Chasselas with a precise bouquet of lemon zest, tropical fruit, and mountain wildflower. The palate is wonderfully textured, and perfectly balanced with beautiful tension between an intense minerality, bright fruit, and a bracing acidity. Blue Moon Fish at the TriBeCa farmer’s market makes some of the best smoked bluefish I’ve ever had (and has beautiful seafood in general), and I’m thinking this would be fantastic with a simple tartine of bluefish, cultured butter, fresh radish, and a parsley garnish. Tim Gagnon
Eric Laguerre's "Le Ciste," (named after a flowering bush in and around his vineyards) is certainly one of the most distinctive whites of the Roussillon. Grown in Eric's high-elevation vineyards on acidic soils of decomposed granite, the wine is made from Marsanne, Roussanne, Rolle (Vermentino), Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu. Yields are about 20 Hl/Ha, harvesting is by hand in small baskets, fermentation (wild yeasts) and aging is in small barrels. Complex aromas of lemon oil, thyme, hay and white fruits—a lovely melange with contributions from each variety and especially showing the Marsanne and Roussanne in 2015. The palate is dense, stony and saline with herbal, citrus, almond and white fruit flavors. The finish is long with mineral acids and white fruits that linger on the palate. Complex and distinctive as a young wine, this will accompany grilled fish as well as fish and chicken in sauce and goat cheeses, and should develop nicely with a few years of cellaring. Really a Grand Cru of the Roussillon and a great value! DL
Another delicious wine from the affable and talented Eric Laguerre, from organic Syrah, Carignan and Grenache vines grown on granite soils high in the mountains of the Roussillon. The 2016 EOS Rosé is a bit lighter and brighter than the 2015 with a lighter pink color and subtle aromas of raspberry, rose, peach and earth. The palate is refreshing and dry with hints of raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, almond and stone. Eric's great farming, his natural vinifications and the high-altitude granite terroir produce this lovely, inexpensive rosé. Highly recommended! DL
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, 15% Mourvèdre, grown in Eric and Corinne Laguerre's organic, high-altitude vineyards on granite soils in the Roussillon. 2015 is a great vintage for the Le Ciste Rouge, showing aromas of ripe blackberry, blueberry and black cherry, roast meat, dark chocolate and earth.The palate is dense and supple with ripe berry fruits, licorice and spice supported by firm acidity with an elegant finish of earth, minerals and black fruits. This is a beautiful wine - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the mountains - and a great value. Serve slightly cool with grilled meats, stews and full-flavored cheeses or cellar five to ten years. Highly recommended! DL
Eric Laguerre's "Le Passage" is from his highest parcel, at about 2,000 feet, on soils of decomposed granite. Organic farming, natural vinification, aged in used barrels. 80% Carignan with Syrah and Grenache. The 2015 is a lovely dark red/black color with deep aromas of blackberry, earth, dark chocolate brightened with violet and pepper. Dense, velvety black fruits on the palate - blackberry, prune and cocoa lifted by bright citrusy acids and finishing with a mineral kick. This is a beautiful expression of Eric's mountainside vineyards - showing the quality of his low-yielding Carignan. Drink now, served cool, with grilled meats, stews, and full-flavored cheeses, or hold a few years for a mature experieince...
2016 is a great vintage for Eric Laguerre's EOS Blanc! From 30% Grenache Blanc, 40% Maccabeo and 30% Rolle (Vermentino) grown on granite soils in Eric's high-altitude organic vineyards. The increased percentages of Maccabeo and Rolle have made this lovely wine even more distinctive, showing subtle aromas of dried pear, hay, citrus, herbs and stone. The palate is refreshing and clean with pear, citrus peel, almond, thyme and stone flavors, very crisp and dry and with nice density and length. This very versatile wine will pair with everything from oysters, to grilled fish to roast chicken, and will be very refreshing by itself on a warm summer day. DL
(80% Grenache, 20% Syrah grown in the Roussillon on very high-altitude vineyards of decomposed granite. Hand-harvested in small crates, yields of 20 hl/ha) The 2016 EOS Rouge shows bright aromas of tart cherry and blackberry, with dark chocolate and very floral notes, really bursting with fruit. The palate is supple and bright with cherry and red-currant fruit with acidity that coats the mouth. Very long finish of red fruits and juicy acids, quite elegant with nice tannic structure. This will go very well served cool with grilled meats and will benefit from short-term cellaring. An interesting wine that really shows the influence of the granite soils. A fabulous value!
A blend of Jacquere and Altesse. I think of this wine as the Muscadet of the Savoie. It's crisp and clean, with acidity that would definitely please fans of Loire Valley whites. Graceful and subtle citrus and white flower aromas, with stone fruit on the palate and a very mineral finish. It might be most suitable in the warmer months of the year, but fans of high-acid whites will surely beg to differ. Eben Lillie
100% Braucol from the Geddes family, who have been working biodynamically since 1999. My father and I tasted this and the dialogue went a bit like this: DL: "mmm.. tart rasberries, red currant, even some cranberry..." EL: "Jolly Rancher!" DL: "Nope" (but when was the last time he had a watermelon Jolly Rancher?) DL: "Well we can all agree it tastes and smells like roses." EL (nodding): "That's for sure." Now I've had the bottle open for several hours and the fruit is opening up a bit, showing even some strawberry notes on the palate. Dry it is, but mostly on the finish, which is particularly mineral and sharp, to me a perfect complement to the intense bright red fruit encountered in the attack. The folks at Mayragues waited on this wine, their 2015, which had a production of only 1,800 bottles, as they wanted it to be harmonious and balanced. We're glad they did. It's a lot of fun and complexity in a bottle for only $13.99! This would be great with some fish on the grill. Maybe it's a bit early to be thinking about grilling, but we're ready! Eben Lillie
From old-vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah grown in Thierry Navarre's beautiful mountainside vineyards in Saint-Chinian. The 2014 is particularly lovely, showing deep ripe aromas of blackberry, plum, coffee and spice. Full, soft palate of spicy red and black fruits, earth and dark chocolate, with good density and supple, palate-coating texture lifted by nice acidity. Perfect for grilled foods or steaks, stews and strong cheeses all year. A sensational value!
This wine has a wonderful ability to combine elegance, power, class, and distinction. A blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Grenache, the wine shows peach-y and stone fruit notes on the nose, mingling with the savory earth and iodine character of good Bandol Rosé. The palate offers silky textures, a certain voluptuousness, and a lovely balance of acidity to full ripe fruit. I drank this upon first release with very good results. It's bound to improve over the next few months, not to mention the next few years!
From old vines in "le Calise" on a hillside in Marnoz on a typical Jura "marnes" soil. The wine shows bright garnet/black color with earthy/meaty blackberry and tart cherry aromas with hints of citrus and spice. Bright blackberry fruit on the palate with nice density and firm earthy acidity, with minerals and blackberry/cherry fruit and a bit of tannin in the finish. Lovely now with grilled Charolais, charcuterie, young goat cheeses. Best after three to five years. DL
A Vin de Liqueur made from Chardonnay with a bit of Trousseau, this is the first vintage of Larmes du Paradis that has been available to us, and we are very excited. Alternatively called Macvin in the Jura, this style of wine is made by arresting the primary fermentation with distilled grape spirit while there is still a fair amount of residual sugar in the wine. The result is a wine with deep golden color that shows aromas of warm golden raisin, fresh fig, hay, dried dates, sweet spice and a hint of cherry liqueur. Lots of depth and concentration on the palate, with excellent balance of sweetness and acidity; the finish is reminiscent of toffee candy with a hint of toasted walnut and an elegant salinity. This is great to have after dinner with cheese, but also makes for a great aperitif served well chilled. Tim Gagnon
100% Chardonnay Cremant du Jura from Gérard and Christine Villet. This is an absolutely delicious Cremant, that is particularly bright, dry and clean. Vinified with indigenous yeast (like all of the Villet wines), kept in tank for 9 months, and aged sur lie for 18 months before disgorgement. Dosage can range from very low to (at most) 10g/L, but this one seems to be on the low side. There's depth, but it is not a rich wine. Super digestive and great for an apero or with food. Eben Lillie
This is a charming and comforting red from our friends Luc and Marie Michel of Zélige-Caravent, in the Pic-St-Loup appellation of the Languedoc. Primarily old-vines Grenache, with a touch of Syrah and Cinsault, it's full-bodied and silky, with crushed dark berry fruit and subtle grip. This is truly a satisfying red, and the perfect remedy for a cold winter night. Smooth enough to be enjoyed without food, this will shine with roasted meats, stews, spicy foods, or any hearty meal. Eben Lillie
Produced in the historic DOC of Botticino near Bresica, Grace is a delicious still rosato from one of our favorite producers of Italian bubbles. Made from a blend of Barbera, Schiava, Marzemino, and Sangiovese it is very pale and delicate in the glass with aromas of juicy orchard fruit and tart strawberries with rose petals and woody herbs. The palate has a fairly rich texture with mouth watering acidity and a crisp mineral finish, refreshing with fresh fruit and a savory cut. Pair with grilled chicken, herbed potato salad, soft cheese or simply drink on a nice hot summer day. Andy Paynter
I fell in love with the Bonavita estate originally through their indomitable red wine, a delicate, spicy, and intense red made from Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Nocera in the Faro DOC north of Etna in Sicily. It is continuously one of the most fascinating reds I’ve tasted from Sicily. Happily, the rosato holds as much allure while being even more accessible. Fairly deep ruby for its quick maceration of 12 hours, the nose is packed with rich red fruit, purple florals, notes of cardamom and allspice or cinnamon with an undeniable freshness and lift. The wine is effusive on the palate with fresh strawberries and red apple skin, a persistent spiciness, and just a whisper of tannin quickly relieved by bracing acidity. Absolutely lovely. Try this rosato lightly chilled with sausages on the grill, paella, kebabs, or lightly spicy Indian food.
As with Amarone, Sforzato is very labor-intensive: the drying grapes must be carefully tended every day to prevent mold, and of course the drying process results in much less wine. The Valtellina’s cliff-like vineyards require so much work (an hour of labor in the relatively gentle hills of the Veneto is the equivalent of 6 hours in the Valtellina) that the wines are never inexpensive, but we love good Sforzato. For one thing the higher acidity of Nebbiolo gives the wine some lift and brightness that makes them a bit easier to drink. The trick is to get the complexity and concentration that comes with drying the grapes, but to avoid cooked and stewed flavors – not a simple accomplishment. Alberto Marsetti is a very small producer. He’s one of the few in the region to forgo small new oak for aging his wines, and the results are very fine and pure. Sforzato needs some time in bottle, and the 2006 is now beginning to show its stuff.
A luminous, almost ethereal blend of indigenous Sicilian varieties from the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna. Palmento is the term for the traditional wine cellars of the region, with stone troughs for crushing grapes by foot. Winemakers Anna Martens and Eric Narioo honor the old methods with a blend of organically farmed Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Alicante as well as the native white grapes of the island Minella, Catarratto, and Insolia. Everything is crushed by foot from old bush vines with no fining or filtration and minimal sulfur at bottling. The result is a rush of pure, vibrant fruit as soon as you pop the cork: raspberries, cranberries, hints of juicy meyer lemon tumble into a bracing snap of acidity. A whiff of tannin reminds you (just barely) that this is still a red wine. It is also a fabulous solution to the "red wine with fish?" conundrum, especially with bolder, oily fish like mackerel or sardines. Grill up a few to enjoy with a baguette and a simple salad alongside a lightly chilled bottle the next time you're stumped for a seafood pairing with red-only drinkers, and raise a toast to Captain Alex! Karina Mackow
Here we have a very amaro-esque bitter with a Teutonic twist. The botanical recipe skews toward rich and soothing, and to create the complex, spicy flavor gentian root, juniper, coriander, vanilla, angelica root, star anise, clove, violet root, lemon balm, cinnamon bark and orange peel are macerated for four weeks in a sugar and beet alcohol solution. Forest is the perfect stand-in for an amaro or brandy at the end of a meal. The complexity and slight sweetness also make it a fantastic ingredient in cocktails calling for red vermouth. John Rankin
Mauro Vergano started making Chinato as a hobby. A few years ago he turned pro, and now we can buy his elixirs here in the States. The Americano features Grignolino grapes supplied by one of our favorite Piedmont producers, Cascina 'Tavijn. Mauro serves this apéritif with sparkling water, ice and a slice of orange peel. We suggest that you do the same. JR
Winemaker Antonio Ribeiro and his wife Sara Dionisio raise their Encruzado in stainless steel for a bright and energetic white with while appealing, lees-y roundness. Exotic aromas of grapefruit, passionfruit, and banana leaf, with yellow florals, hints of fennel and green herbs. There's no shortage of tense, mouth-watering acidity on the palate of pear, lime, aloe, and clover. A complex match for shellfish and goat cheeses. Ariana Rolich
The first estate of the Dão to receive organic certification, Casa de Mouraz had since fully converted to biodynamic farming and remains committed to making wines which are pure expressions of the region’s terroir. Notes of cool papaya and mouthwatering sea salt surge forth in this blend of 40 year old Touriga Nacional, Portugal's noble and sturdy structure lending variety, Jaen, aka Mencia in neighboring Galicia, and the peppery Tinta Roriz grape raised in the granite soil of a single vineyard site. After just a few sips of this racy and electric rosé, you’ll be longing to hear the sweet, sweet sounds of crashing surf and fresh, juicy shrimp marinated in lime sizzling on a hot grill. Sydney Snyder
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 Grenache from 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. This is a beautiful old-fashioned Chateauneuf that is all finesse and beauty, very Burgundian in style and absoulutely delicious. The wine shows elegant aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violet, roast meat, graphite, citrus and Provencal garrigue, quite complex. There is intense sappy fruit on the palate with elegant cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate and earth. Very long, dense and ripe but balanced and bright, not at all heavy or over-extracted. The finish is lovely with sappy fruit and mineral flavors lingering on the palate. Delicious as a young wine, this should cellar beautifully, best perhaps 2023 - 2030. DL
85% Grenache, some 100+ years-old, 15% Mourvedre. 70% de-stemmed, aged in old medium and small casks. Bottled unfined, unfiltered. Old-fashioned wine, quite earthy, showing floral ripe cherry and garrigue aromas, with sweet earthy cherry fruit on the palate quite meaty and mineral, with deep red fruits, citrusy acids and earth in the long finsh. Lovely now with a stew or grilled meats, or hold a few years for a mauture experience, drink until 2030+. DL
(70% Grenache, with Carignan, Syrah and Mourvèdre, always farmed organically, hand harvested, whole-cluster wild yeast fermentation, aged in cement vat, un-fined, unfiltered.) The 2015 Seguret shows a very dark red/black color, with aromas of ripe cherry and strawberry liqueur, prune, earth, stone and provençal spices. The palate is quite dense and supple with black berry, prune and earth backed with firm citrusy acids, very saline and long in the finish. This is a big, solid wine that will accompany steaks, chops and burgers, a daube niçoise and full flavored cheeses. It's a fabulous value and will benefit from decanting well in advance or a few years in the cellar. DL
From 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre, grown on gravelly limestone terraces, always farmed organically, whole-cluster fermention and aged in concrete vats. 2015 is a great vintage for the always lovely Vacqueyras from Carole and Dany Chastan at Clos du Joncuas. The wine shows very deep aromas of blackberry and floral strawberry compote, earth, citrus, violet and spice. The palate is supple and dense, brightened by floral notes and firm acidity, with ripe blackberry and raspberry fruit, framed in juicy acidity with a very long finish of ripe berry fruits and mineral flavors. This is a beautiful and exuberant wine, quite delicious now, served slightly cool, and it will drink beautifully over the next ten years. A joyful wine and highly recommended! DL
The Dard & Ribo 2015 Crozes Blanc is from 30 year-old vines, more Roussanne than Marsanne, in the "Les Baties" vineyard in Larnage with soils of granite with clay. The wine ages for 12 months in a mix of large and small barrels, with a small percentage new, approximately 250 cs made.
The 2015 Dard & Ribo Crozes-Hermitage Rouge is from numerous sites in the villages of Crozes and Larnage, on mostly granite soils. The fermentation is with whole-clusters, the wine ages in used 600 liter barrels. Organic farming, minimal sulfur.
From 100% Syrah in Chvanay, just outside the Saint-Joseph zone, tended organically since planting. The Amphores Syrah "les Iris" shows lovely blackberry and blueberry aromas with citrus and floral notes. The palate is light and refreshing with very pretty fruit - the flavors of Northern Rhone Syrah in a bright ready-to-drink style. This will be a great accompaniment to grilled foods and picnics, served quite cool.
(From young vines, planted in the 90's, always organic, and from parcels of old vines, converted to organic, in Chavanay, below Condrieu) Philippe and Veronique Grenier have always farmed organically and now they have added biodynamic methods as well, bringing the quality even higher at this wonderful small estate. the 2015 Saint-Joseph shows a lovely melange of blackberry, black cherry and blueberry aromas with violet, rose, roast meat and earth. The palate is dense and complex with earth and mineral notes framing ripe black fruits with licorice citrus and spice. The finish is long with earthy black fruits and mineral flavors. This is a lovely combination of ripe complex fruits with earth and minerals, making it a superb food wine with a variety of grilled and roast meats, North African cuisine and full-flavored cheeses, not to mention "Caillottes." Winner of the 2015 Best Value in Saint-Joseph!
Dumien-Serrette is a happily old-fashioned estate in Cornas with 1.5 hectares in the Patou vineyard, which has primarily granitic soils; the remainder, .3 hectares, is located in Les Savaux. The vines in Patou date back to the 1920’s, with some even exceeding 100 years old. Since the 2010 harvest, half of the fruit has been de-stemmed; grapes are pressed with an old-fashioned basket press and aged 2 years in 2 to 7-year-old barrels. The estate’s total annual production is around 300 cases (600 in 2014).
"Very dark color; the nose is destined for appreciation at a second stage of maturity, since it is strongly oaked and full right now, with a glimmer of black berry fruit within. This is serious Crozes, not the bar drinking school at all. The palate has viscous black fruit, Morello cherry, nice and dark. Oak shows on the late stages, will absorb. High quality here. We are close to Hermitage in style. Has a long, sustained, fresh close. From mid-late 2016. Drink until 2024-25" Drink Rhone
This well-known family estate produces excellent Tavel from certified organic vineyards and includes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Mourvedre! The 2016 shows a bright pink color, with lovely aromas of raspberry and morello cherry with floral and citrus hints; ripe berry fruits on the palate, dense and rich but nicely balanced by bright acidity. The finish is long and refreshing with ripe berry fruits and minerally acidity. Drink over the next two years with a quiche lorraine, salade nicoise, middle eastern cuisine, even grilled foods, especially tuna and pork. Lovely by itself as well!
Domaine Saladin is an organic estate in the southern part of the Cotes du Rhône, and proudly states that their soils and vines have never been treated with herbicides or pesticides. Vinifications are with wild yeasts and minimal SO2 is used. The Tralala Rose is a lovely wine with superb, pure red fruit aromas of raspberry and strawberry. The palate is round but balanced with good acidity and the finish is long with pretty red fruits continuing at the end. A really well-made rose that drinks beautifully now and should improve over the next 12 months.
“First Run” or spring sake is only around for a short while each year. It is “fresh from 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 can pair well with a lot of foods. It is a “namesake,” and thus unpasteurized, so it must always be kept and served chilled.
From Equipo Navazos: "Since the 1980s and until very recently, the amontillado soleras of Rainera P. Marín were made of very different soleras labeled within the cellar as “Manzanilla Pasada”: from the third criadera of Amontillado “M. Pda.” all the way to the little shrine of 1/3 “M. Pda. Viejísima”, including solera 1/10 “M. Pda. Vieja” (from where we have sourced our editions number 31 & 61 “Bota NO” of La Bota de Amontillado). After its purchase by the Estévez Group, the greater part of these confusingly labeled stocks was strictly restructured. The finest and deepest butts were selected, their contents refreshed with true (and unfortified) manzanilla pasada (this is a natural amontillado), in order to create an amontillado solera that was slightly over 100-butt strong and located at third and fourth in one same row. This time we have selected fifteen of these butts which shine for their superior freshness as well as intense notes of aromatic herbs, baked sweet potato, and caramel. The resulting blend is a perfect amontillado, extremely dry, long, serious, complex, and still deliciously drinkable. The additional three years of age-compared with the previous release of this wine (La Bota de Amontillado 37)-can be appreciated in terms of additional complexity and maturity. The estimate average age of this wine is around 22 years."
From Equipo Navazos: "In the wine cellars owned by La Guita on the road to Jerez outside Sanlúcar de Barrameda there are several Amontillado soleras identified by the number of butts that exist of each one, and by the legends “Manzanilla Pasada”, “Manzanilla Pasada Vieja” or “Manzanilla Pasada Viejísima”. All those soleras have survived practically untouched since La Guita rearranged its stocks in 1980 and moved most to the cellars on the road to Jerez. Among them, the Solera 1/10 of “Manzanilla Pasada Vieja” which actually is an exceptional Amontillado, very old and elegant, that shows the typical character of Sanlúcar. It is precisely from that solera that we have sourced the present release: La Bota de Amontillado 61 “Bota NO”. It is the second time we come to it, since in 2011 there was a release with the same name and source numbered as La Bota no. 31. Due to its evident age and depth it can be sipped as a midmorning drop on quiet leisurely days, or after a meal. It also displays a harmonious palate that makes it especially appropriate for intense dishes such as a hearty stew, arròs de muntanya, or lobster bisque, and also of delicate pieces of sushi with a dash of wasabi. Come to think of it, at a lower than usual temperature, this amontillado can be sipped successfully side by side to a refreshing ajoblanco or gazpacho."
Pepe Luis is a special wine made from several tiny parcels on the Atlantic coast of Rías Baixas, distinguished from the other Albamar Albariños in that it is fermented and raised for one year in neutral French oak. You will not taste any oak on this wine; barrel aging gives Albariño softer texture and rounder flavors of orchard fruit and golden apple, supplementing the familiar citrus oils and acidic mineral essence of the grape. Don't hesitate to experiment with pairing Pepe Luis with heartier seafood, sashimi, carpaccios, pork... Ariana Rolich
Elegant and focused compared to the unfettered flair of Tio Uco, Aciano is made from Alvar de Dios' grandfather's own-rooted vineyard of Tinta de Toro planted nearly 100 years ago on pure sandy soils at 700 meters altitude in El Pego, on the southern limit of the Toro DO. Deep brambly aromas with black currant, raspberry liqueur, almond cake, sweet pink florals, blueberry, balsam, blood orange, and cinnamon flow onto the palate of intense black currant, almond oil, savory tropical fruits like papaya and pomegranate, cherry bark, plum vinegar, bitter herbs, and long, lilting minerality. For its balance and beauty, I cannot recommend this wine highly enough. Ariana Rolich
Ameztoi's Txakolinas are among the first to be requested this time of year. Rubentis combines old-vines Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza for a tart, tingly, and thirst-quenching rose that is an exhilarating aperitif or pairing for fresh fish and salads. Red currant, rhubarb, lime zest, and strawberry fruit are heightened by abundant minerality, a touch of spritz, and that transportative salty streak that makes us misty for San Sebastian. Ariana Rolich
Salmonido is tart, supple, and sultry rosado of Pinot Noir, from a 1 hectare vineyard on poor, stony soils in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Granada. Savory, oxidative, and acidic, with tension between red currant and sour cherry with softer strawberry and musky raspberry fruit, united in a peppy, mineral, smoky depth. Pear with smoked salmon or tuna steaks with roasted red peppers. Ariana Rolich
Champagne Method Blanc de Noirs made of 100% Sumoll from a biodynamically-farmed single vineyard planted in the 1930s in the Garraf National Park, with more sandy calcareous soils compared to the Gentlemant Pet Nat, which has more clay. The second fermentation is spurred by rosemary honey from Clos Lentiscus' estate apiary, which adds a heady, honeyed component (with no sweetness whatsover) to the palate of tart red fruit skins, gently gingery spice, with bold structure and complex umami notes from aging 30 months on the lees before disgorgement with no dosage. Zero added sulphur. Ariana Rolich
It is impossible not to be seduced by the aromas and clarity of Garnacha wines from the Sierra de Gredos, a majestic mountain range west of Madrid. Comando G is the dynamic duo of Dani Landi and Fernando Garcia (Maranones), who have risen to fame for securing some of the most nail-bitingly high and remote Garnacha vineyards in the world and vinifying them into some of the most extreme and beautiful Garnacha wines we have had. Rozas Primer is made from several old vineyards around the town of Rozas de Puerto Real in the Valle del Tietar, planted on granitic sandy soil at 900m altitude. Aromas are heady with perfumed berry sap, purple/blue florals, hints of licorice and savory earth. The wild fragrance gains focused on the palate, which is powerful but lithe, a balanced rush of Garnacha fruit and Gredos garrigue: ripe raspberry, lavender, licorice, oregano, and saturated mineral length. A lunch of rich but delicate roasted lamb brought out this wine's tension between power and elegance, which is quintessential Gredos experience! Ariana Rolich
In the Gredos it is said that Garnacha is of the sky and Albillo is of the earth. Daniel Ramos' Viento Zephyros highlights the earthy, rock-driven side of Albillo Real, fermented in stainless stell and blended with 20% Sauvignon Blanc from dry-farmed, head-trained vines planted in decomposed granite sands atop the village of Cebreros (Sierra de Gredos, Avila province). Inviting, golden aromas of apricot and honey, with flavors of earthy chestnuts, dried apricot, wild flower honey, and soil. A soulful white pairing for cheeses, poultry, game, and fish in sauce. Ariana Rolich
Goyo Garcia summons the power and elegance of old-fashioned Ribera del Duero. Finca el Peruco is a vineyard of Tinto Fino and Albillo Mayor planted on chalky, calcareous and clay soils at 1000m altitude. After 3 years in old barrels and one year in bottle, this wine is luscious and open, displaying sumptuous, soft leather, deep purple fruits, and sweet tarragon leaves on the nose, with flavors of tart plum, ripe black fruits, soy umami, and a long earthy finish. Roasted lamb and Sunday roasts are the best way to showcase this seethingly beautiful Duero. No added sulphur. Ariana Rolich
In addition to rapturous Ribera del Duero wines, Goyo Garcia Viadero make s a small amount of wine from his mother's home region of Cantabria. 70% Mencia and 30% Palomino from old vines planted in broken black slate soils, co-fermented in stainless steel and raised in neutral oak for 26 months, Cobero Tinto is lithe and mineral, delicious with braised meat and game or salty pork and cheeses. Ariana Rolich
Graciano in the Ribera del Duero? Goyo thinks it was planted by accident, after the farmer received Graciano cuttings instead of Tinto Fino. We're all for a happy accident if it leads to a wine this delicious! From 35 year old vines planted on red sands with river stones at 850 meters. A dense and vivid blue/purple hue in the glass, full and fun on the palate with deep, driving acid buffered by ripples of floral black and purple berries, salty plum, black pepper, and purple florals. Cellar with abandon or drink now with venison or lamb. Ariana Rolich
This is serious Rioja: no new oak, extended pre-release bottle aging, and exquisite vineyard sites (for the Tondonia, vines dig deep through fine-grained alluvial soils overlooking the Ebro River that were first planted almost 140 years ago). Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta founded Lopez de Heredia in 1877, and the wines continue to serve as a benchmark for the region (the familyy business is now led mainly by his grandson Pedro, and great-granddaughter Maria Jose). The bodega comprises four distinct vineyard areas and extends to a total of 170 hectares, with Tondonia being the largest and most famous of the holdings. Jancis Robinson considers 2004 "a very good year, with wines that should last well," and the Tondonia Reserva is certainly that: powerful, lean, and layered with gorgeous, generous fruit and all the cigar box, cedar, and leather notes a lover of classic Rioja could wish for.
Victoria Torres farms two hectares of vines in Fuencaliente at 800m altitude in the south of La Palma, the dramatically steep, western-most Canary island where her family has tended vines for 5 generations. The nearby Volcán St. Antonio erupted in 1677, which coated the south side of the island with black ash rock and gave way to a unique form of viticulture. Diego is a productive local variety that does not always result in wines of distinction, but in Victoria's hands it is as ravishing and subtle as the Canary Islands' best whites. Some maceration on the skins contributes texture and enhances the ashy Canarian mineral tone. Crunchy mineral aromas, with lime zest, white pepper, and peach blossom; the palate has breadth and viscosity that is balanced by brisk acidity with musky tropical fruit (papaya, banana leaf), tea leaves, and mineral salt, wound together with tendrils of grey ashy smoke and wafts of brine. Ariana Rolich
Alberto Nanclares combines fruit from a number of vineyard sites for this cuvee, with vines averaging 30-40 years old and planted in a variety of exposures and soil types (sandy loam, alluvial, decomposed granite). Restrained aromas of lime seed and salty air are followed by a rush of racy Albarino acidity, with sheer, minimal lime, notes of tingly ginger and cardamom spice, opening over several hours to reveal more fruit: lemon, stone fruit, and tangy pineapple, along with hints of beeswax and honey (not sweet). Fermented with native yeasts and raised in stainless steel for 9 months with weekly batonnage before moving to used 500L French barrels until bottling. Ariana Rolich
From 30-year-old, west-facing vines of Albarino on granitic sandy loam, Paraje Mina is savory and pure, fiercely mineral, intensely acidic and clearly age-worthy with flavors of grapefruit, white and yellow flowers, and persistant length. Fermented with native yeasts and raised for 9 months in 500L used French barrels with weekly batonnage. Only 603 bottles were produced (we received six). Snag one for your cellar and send us a report when you drink it! Ariana Rolich
An exotic, botanical expression of Albarino, from 35-year-old vines in Manzaniña vineyard, southwest-facing on sandy loams of granite and clay. Fermented with native yeasts in 2000L used French oak barrels and raised for 10 months with weekly batonnage. Aromas of savory green herbs, heather, and moss waft from the glass; the palate is powerful, broad, and long, with ripping acidity cushioned by slightly plusher fruit - apricot, lime, and tangerine flesh -with orange blossom honey, bee pollen, sweetly smoky peat, and sea salt. An Atlantic sort of garrigue... Delicious paired with roasted or smoked fish with plenty of herbs and lemon. Ariana Rolich
Suriol's bone-dry, certified organic Cava displays complex scents of herbs and honey, green apple, crystallized ginger, orange spice, vanilla bean, and white flowers, carrying through to a bright, tangy,palate of Asian pear, apricots, celery, and marzipan, with a tingle of ginger. Zero dosage and taut, more racy acidity than previous vintages make for a fresh and dry but terrifically substantial and sophisticated wine in the $15-20 price range. We all love Cava as an aperitif, but Suriol's is a flavorful and similarly terroir-assertive match for local fish simply grilled as well as briny, earthy crustaceans. Bravo to Assis Suriol and his family's exemplary vineyard work! Ariana Rolich
Zorzal takes the Graciano grape to new heights with this inexpensive but outrageously delicious and well-made red from 35-year-old, organically farmed vines in Spain's Navarra region (Rioja's overlooked neighbor). This is a generous, crowd-pleasing, and thirst-quenching red on the fuller side of medium-bodied. It is pretty and perfumed, with flavors of juicy purple plum, ripe red raspberry, and dark cherry, violet flowers, soft funky earth, spearmint leaf, cinnamon spice, smooth tannins, rich texture, and just enough acidity. Unfined, unfiltered, and fermented with native yeasts. Ariana Rolich
Campbell Ranch is located near the town of Annapolis, at the northern reaches of the Sonoma Coast AVA; the proximity to the Pacific Ocean exerts a distinct cooling maritime influence that extends ripening times well beyond the warmer vineyards to the east. More lean and sinewy than Anthill Farm's Sonoma Coast Pinot, the wine exerts broadly shouldered tannins and lithe, elegant black cherry skin and pit flavors. This needs cellaring time or a lengthy decant to truly come into its own. Jonas Mendoza
The 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir blends fruit from the Harmony Love Vineyard (near Sebastapol) and Hirsch Vineyard (near Fort Ross-Seaview). Flavors of mountain raspberry and brambly black fruit persist on the palate framed by firm, taut tannins. Extremely drinkable now but rewards cellaring for at least a couple years. Jonas Mendoza
A 21st century rose made from very old vines of Mourvedre and Cinsault, blended with juicy Grenache and Vermentino, Birichino's 2016 Vin Gris is driven by savory, stony, salty (and even a hint smoky) dimensions, balanced by bright citrus, tangy stone fruits, and spicy florals. A serious springtime pairing for squid or grilled fish, but equally invigorating on the patio/roof/fire escape with nothing but a ray of sun. Ariana Rolich
2012 was considered a classic Willamette Valley vintage; this Pinor Noir from the Dundee Hills is quite expressive but not over the top. A blend of Pommard and Dijon clones, it's richer and fuller on the palate that the 2013 Entre Nous Pinot Noir with ripe Bing cherry and brambly red raspberry flavors and a resonant smokiness and spiciness (whole clove, anise) that reflects the warm volcanic soils of the Dundee Hills. Jonas Mendoza
A blend of mostly Pommard and Wadenswil clones from the Laurel Hood and Four Winds vineyards, both on marine sedimentary soils. Dried herbal aromas with notes of just ripe raspberry and cranberry fruit. The palate lengthens with sapid red berry fruits, ethereal red flowers, supple tannins, and a lifted and lithe texture. 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
A blend of Pinot Noirs from Campbell Ranch (50%), Baranoff Vineyard (25%), and an undisclosed vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Supple and silky, there is a preponderance of dark brambly fruit on the palate. Quite aromatic, macerated black cherry, kirsch, and violet aromas lead into black raspberry and cherry fruit flavors with hints of freshly rained upon earth. A juicy and elegant California Pinot that's still taut and structured. Jonas Mendoza
Gros Ventre inaugurated 2016 with a brand new rosé in their lineup. The pale salmon flesh hue of this Gamay and Pinot Noir blend hides a quite voluptuous wine on the palate with macerated strawberry, strawberry tops, and hibiscus flavors. The granite and volcanic soils the grapes were planted on magnify the texture and juiciness on the palate considerably. Jonas Mendoza
Jeff and John Perlegos are the current stewards of the head-trained Zinfandel vines at Stampede Vineyard in Lodi's Clements Hills AVA. The vines were originally planted in the 1920s, with a second planting in the early 1940s. Marty Winters and Alex Pitts pick the grapes on the early side, producing Zinfandel of ethereal texture and perfumed intensity. The nose awakens with brambly blackberry aromas, leading into flavors of black tea, fresh blueberries, and a touch of dried black raisin. Very much in the style of Ridge's Zinfandels, there's a remarkable buildup of flavors but the wine still maintains a lithe texture without being weighty. Jonas Mendoza
Matthiasson's 2016 rose is a familiar blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Counoise, with the surprising addition of a splash of Sauvignon Blanc to brighten and ripen up the flavors of this dry and nuanced rose, full of tart red berry fruit, with chewy cherry and raspberry skins and a refreshing bolt of orange and lime. Fermented and aged in stainless steel (malo was blocked to retain freshness) and landing at a cool 11.3% alcohol, this vintage of Matthiasson will have a seat at our patio table until it runs out! Ariana Rolich
Ridge Vineyards first made Merlot in 1974 on Monte Bello; after being initially blended into their famed Cabernet, the Merlot eventually showed enough structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling. Aged nearly 20 months in a combination of 40% new and 60% 4-5 year old American oak barrels, this Merlot displays clove, anise, and allspice aromatics. The high elevation of the Monte Bello vineyard (nearly 2600 feet!) shines through with red plum skin, tart red cherry, and fennel flavors, followed by a sinewy black olive finish. A Merlot to age for the next 5-10 years! Jonas Mendoza
Planted to Pommard clones in 1988, this Pinot Noir is a bit less aromatic than their Branciaforte Ridge, but radiates with intense flavors of brambly black raspberry and dark chocolate. The tannins are firm yet supple; pair with a filet mignon or roast pork. Jonas Mendoza
A rustic, yet polished mountain Cabernet with bell pepper, jalapeno and red cherry aromas. The palate scintillates with black cherry skin, cassis, and black tea flavors. Firm yet supple, powerful yet polished, this wine embodies the balance between fruit-forward flavors and Bordeaux-like structure that make Santa Cruz Cabernets so compelling. Jonas Mendoza
Current winemaker Jeff Emery first came to Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard in 1979 and ended up apprenticing and then working with Ken Burnap, the winery’s founder. After Ken retired in 2002, Jeff took over the business. Planted in 1999 to Dijon clones, this densely layered Pinot Noir has ripe raspberry and macerated strawberry aromas followed by bright black cherry and carob flavors framed by firm tannins. Jonas Mendoza
It's difficult to find a quality Oregon Pinot Noir under $25, let alone one that pairs remarkably with food. St. Innocent blends the fruit from their estate vineyard (Zenith) with that from several other sites within the northern Willamette Valley (Vitae Springs, Freedom Hill, Temperance Hill, and Momtazi). On the palate, very ripe and dark fruit flavors (morello cherry, black raspberry) are framed by a sweet and robust body. Pair with roasted pork and steak tenderloin. Jonas Mendoza
The 2013 was a wet vintage but strongly benefited growers who dry-farmed and took advantage of the sunshine after the late September rains. The Chardonnay comes from a dry-farmed, owned-rooted Wente clone vineyard on marine sedimentary soils in Willamette Valley. Bright and slightly oxidative, the palate resonates with flavors of lemon pith, lemon curd, underripe peach, and marzipan and brightens with the wine's pointilistic acidity and minerality. Jonas Mendoza
Gros Ventre's inaugural white wine! Vermentino co-fermented with a touch of Picpoul Blanc and matured for six months in stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels, this zippy and textural Vermentino entices with ripe Bosc pear and peach aromas, while enveloping the palate with white grapefruit pith, golden apple, and lemon curd flavors. There's an exquisite tension between the wine's fruit forwardness and crunchy minerality. Quite lengthy on the finish! Jonas Mendoza
Made from a four-grain mash bill of heirloom white corn, Red Winter Wheat, malted barley, and Carolina Gold Rice from the famed Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina, this is uniquely southern Bourbon. It spends eighteen months in barrel and yields a spirit that is happily grain-forward (when you use such high-quality grain, why wouldn’t you want it to be?), with secondary aromas of malted milk chocolate, baked apricot, and sweet spice. The palate is smooth, yet earthy and spicy, with fruit returning on the finish along with apple butter and nutmeg. This is a delicious experience for all whiskey lovers. Tim Gagnon