This is a truly Rhone-esque expression, a blend of Grenache, Mataro, Shiraz, Cinsault, Marsanne, and Rousanne. This wine really broadened my perspective on Australia and taught me there's more than just Shiraz in Barossa Valley! There's spice and heartiness from the Grenache and Mataro, bright aromatics from the Cinsault, and nice freshness from the Marsanne and Roussane. It definitely reminds me of a classic Rhone red, and even has some of the 'garrigue' notes we associate with Languedoc wines. Organic and Biodynamic certified since 2014, the folks at Smallfry are doing a really great job, and this wine is a perfect example.
100% Roter Veltliner planted in 1979 near the top of Gaisberg (Zöbing side). Known more for being a top site for growing Riesling than Roter Veltliner, Martin and Anna Arndorfer purchased this vineyard in 2010 (after being warned not to do so by relatives). The primary rock up there (300+ meters, south facing) is predominately Gfohler Gneiss along with Mica-Schist. Both 2012 and 2013 had very similar vinifications: few hours of maceration, aged in a mix of oak and stainless steel, with ten months on the lees and no fining. 2012 was the first vintage of this wine, boasting a beautiful, aromatic nose of brown butter and rich toffee with golden apple and citron. On the palate the wine has an opulent texture, rich and soft, with notes of candied citron, ginger, pear, yellow apple, and salted caramel. Cari Bernard
100% Roter Veltliner planted in 1979 near the top of Gaisberg (Zöbing side). Known more for being a top site for growing Riesling than Roter Veltliner, Martin and Anna Arndorfer purchased this vineyard in 2010 (after being warned not to do so by relatives). The primary rock up there (300+ meters, south facing) is predominately Gfohler Gneiss along with Mica-Schist. Both 2012 and 2013 had very similar vinifications: few hours of maceration, aged in a mix of oak and stainless steel, with ten months on the lees and no fining. We are very lucky to have two different vintages to choose from, ultimately showcasing the influence of the vintage. Reflecting some similar development on the nose as the 2012 (salted toffee/brown butter), there is also a brighter note of Seville orange zest, and the palate reveals a higher acidity, with tangy orange/lemon oil, and brighter vegetal tones alongside the pear and apple fruit. Not austere by any means, but the 2013 does come off as stonier and edgier than the 2012. Cari Bernard
Fuchs und Hase is a collaboration between Alwin & Stefanie Jurtschitsch and Martin & Anna Arndorfer in the Kamptal. Each vintage they make a series of "Volumes", always Pét Nats, with no filtering or fining. The grapes are picked together and co-ferment as well. Each Volume is a different blend: 2015's Volume 1 is mostly Müller-Thurgau, with some Grüner Veltliner and Muskateller. The nose is delicate with notes of apple blossom and anise. Savory tones of oxidized apple core balance out the tropical tang of starfruit and green strawberry, making for a wine that is a touch more fruit forward than Volume 2. Tasted again in January, this wine is in a great place, showing more freshness with a vibrancy of mixed citrus zests and less tones of oxidation. Cari Bernard
Eduard and Stephanie Tscheppe are making a 'family' of wines in Burgenland, Austria. Emmeram is 100% Gewurtztraminer grown biodynamically on a mix of limestone and sand. Grapes are hand harvested and ferment in large, used oak barrels. The élevage is also in used oak (500 L barrels), and like their other wines, there is no batonnage, no fining or filtration, and no added sulfur. This vintage of Emmeram finished fermenting with a touch of residual sugar, which lends a balance and textural richness to the piquant, young ginger and white pepper spice along with flavors of ripe pineapple and juicy pears. Cari Bernard
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
Weingut Jurtschitsch is the oldest winery (est. 16th century) in the Kamptal region of Austria and has been in the family since 1868. Vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2006 and all 60 hectares have been certified organic since 2009. The Brut Sekt Rosé is mostly Zweigelt with the balance made up of Pinot Noir and Sankt Laurent, from cooler vineyard sites with calcareous soils. The wine spends 2 1/2 years on the lees and receives 7 g/L dosage. Light, antique pink in the glass, the nose is fragrant with roses, blueberries, and raspberries. On the palate juicy red berries mingle with stony and salty minerality. Cari Bernard
This is 100% Sankt-Laurent, and after fermentation and maturation in 900L concrete eggs for a full year, it is also the darkest and most concentrated of the three Meinklang wines we carry. To point out that a wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs is no empty showmanship of hipster wine-speak: it is a method that allows tiny, controlled amounts of oxygen to slowly seep in through minute pores and develop a wine without introducing any external flavors. What this interaction does do is give a subtle, entrancing quality of texture and allows for a clear expression of minerality. Deeply purple in color, the palate is supple with blackberry and black cherry fruits grounded by a cool backbone of wet stone and chalk. The nose is floral, fruity, and very pure. This would be a great red pairing for Mediterranean feasts, chicken liver pâté, sweetbreads, and rillettes of any kind. Karina Mackow
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.
Made in the same method as the Grüner Veltliner, with 12 hours of maceration with the stems followed by spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tank. White peach, black plum, and Valencia orange. Moderate viscosity but held in place with bright acids that enhance the terrific mineral detail. 6 g/liter residual sugar and 7 g/liter acidity. Extremely delicious example of the purity and balance that can be found in Austrian Riesling. Jonathan Kemp
The Stagard 2015 Handwerk is a wine that shows the serious side of Grüner at a great price point. The nose is fragrant with white and yellow florals, leading notes of yellow peaches and Cara Cara oranges with just a whiff of white pepper. The palate is vibrant with juicy orange and stone fruit giving way to white pepper and a strong mineral character. Full-bodied but balanced by bright acidity, it would pair well with herbed chicken, grilled shrimp, or a board of soft cheeses. Andy Paynter
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!
This is an extremely pretty Morgon, showing subtle high-toned black raspberry and tart cherry aromas with plum, violet, citrus and brown spice, really lovely. The black and red fruits continue on the palate with complex notes of blood orange, earth, mint and spice. The wine is dense and structured but bright and balanced, finishing with refreshing acidity and mineral flavors. Delicious now, this should be superb in three to five years, and should drink well till 2027. DL
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
(From half-bottle.) Though not considered a legendary vintage for Yquem, the 1981 has plenty of verve and class to recommend it. The nose shows apricot, orange marmalade, honey and brunt sugar and notes of vanilla. The palate is rich though, perhaps not as unctuous as more lauded vintages, offering flavors of burnt orange, crème brulée, pineapple, and honey. This is mature yet still has plenty of energy and freshness provided by the still lively acidity which carries through on the long and pleasingly bitter finish. John McIlwain
Comprised of fruit from Bressandes (2/3) which per Claude de Nicolay lends richness and Chaumes, located beneath Les Pougets (1/3) which lends a degree of “saltiness.” The 2014 Corton Blanc shows a lovely balance between power and elegance. Aromatically it shows yellow flowers, orange peel and hints of sea spray and wet stone. The palate displays pretty flavors of stone fruit, Meyer lemon, and apple overlying an overt, if not overwhelming minerality on a medium weight (for Corton) palate. This shows plenty of energy and drive, if not mass, on a long, detailed, and mouthwatering finish. John McIlwain
The 2015 Magnien Aligoté is a bright and lively wine, at 11.5% alcohol, showing herbal, lemon-lime, melon and almond aromas, with pear, mirabelle, stone and ctrus flavors on the fresh, very dry palate. Serve with vegetable soups, fish dishes, quiches and mild cheeses - or make the perfect Kir with 1/5 Creme de Cassis.
Tasted in January 2017. Complex aromas of lychee, candied pear, citrus, beautiful palate of yellow fruits, minerals, citrus, caramel with fabulous length.
This 2009 is 100% Ambonnay Grand Cru fruit and this really comes across, in the form of stately minerality and structure. It shines a vibrant golden yellow in the glass and sports a finely-beaded mousse. Aromas of spearmint, peppermint, lillies, hazelnuts, and spiced apple custard float up from the glass. The palate is both round, weighty, and alive with minerality with notes of yellow plums and Cortland apples that continue through to an elegant finish.
The 2010 Polisy Blanc de Blanc shows a delicate mousse, typical of wild yeast fermentations, with subtle white fruit aromas. The palate is chalky and long with beautiful lemon, pear and herbal notes - lovely now and should cellar beautifully.
Towards the end of the tasting my notes became minimal, but this wine rated an enthusiastic "Superb!" Forget your prejudice against demi-sec Champagnes, this wine is fantastically complex and delicious. The French wine publication “Le Rouge et le Blanc,” in their review of André Beaufort, offers an explanation of how dosage seems to help the wines develop: “the aromas, timid in their youth, finish by exploding with age and the sugar becomes like a support to the aromas.” Only a few bottles available – we urge you to try it! (Notes from Jan 2017: "Super, rich, no flaws, Nearly sweet, wonderful, rich, complex nose. Totally fresh, or at least not old or even aging...")
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...")
A sensational mature Champagne from André Beaufort - the estate converted to organic agriculture in the early 70's and makes brilliant, full-bodied Champagnes that are among the most "vinous" being made today. Medium golden yellow in color and sporting a discrete mousse. The nose is quite floral with tones of cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, and irises before touches of quince and fresh baguette. The palate is concentrated with a spherical and laser-like focus that offers notes of lemon sorbet, tart lemon custard, and apple pie, underlined by a fine minerality that persists through to a rounded, savory finish. Really a very pretty and lovely wine. This medium bodied Champagne is made of approximately 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and was disgorged in *October of 2016 after 14 years of sur-lie aging, illustrating the Beauforts' commitment to releasing mature wines. *May be a more recent disgorgement
"Really superb, subtle, long. Quiet nose. Winy. Seems like old school white Burgundy. Very serious, perfect but perhaps less transparent than the 2010 Brut Rosé." Notes from Beaufort dinner, Jan 2017
Bérêche's Campania Remensis is a consistently fascinating rosé Champagne, in a category fraught with uninspiring wines. The 2012 base is 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 5% still red wine from Ormes on the western side of the Montagne de Reims. This year the robe is more of a salmon pink rather than copper color of previous vintages. The nose is redolent of wild strawberry, blood orange zest, vanilla bean, raspberry, and ginger. The palate balances whip-crack acidity with layers of ripe fruit flavors and savory undertones. The balance here is impeccable and the finish textured and nuanced. This is a beautiful and deft rosé! John McIlwain
Les Beaux Regards is a blend of two parcels of Chardonnay in Ludes on the northern slope of the Montagne de Reims planted in 1964 and 1970. The loamy clay soils produce a Champagne more vinous in character, rather than exclusively taut and chalky. The 2012 displays floral and orchard fruit aromas, with delicate notes of spice and Meyer lemon following. The palate is distinctly mineral and racy, with overtly stony notes, cool notes of mint and lemon balm and a long tangy, expressive finish. Great energy and volume here. (Dosage 3g/l.) John McIlwain
For holiday celebrations, Champagne is a must. Not just for the festive association of bubbles, but also because it is truly one of the most versatile wines to grace one's table. The inherent acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the foods, while the bubbles and moderate alcohol invigorate the palate rather than tire it. One of my favorite Champagnes for the table (not just Thanksgiving or Christmas) is Bérêche's Reflets d'Antan. Based on a perpetual cuvée dating from the 1980's, the wine combines the vivid, nervy fruit of a recent vintage with the burnished, textural and aromatic complexity of the aged wines which make up the 'solera.' The secondary fermentation under cork rather than crown cap adds an additional layer of finesse with a delicate bead and soft mousse. This will pair beautifully with most of the foods on your holiday table (skip the marshmallows, please). Better served in a white wine glass to allow the aromas to develop. John McIlwain
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
Les Houtrantes Complantés is Geoffroy's most viticulturally ambitious and complex Champagne. Sourced from a field blend of old vines of all the allowed Champagne cultivars, there is not enough juice to make a cuvée each year, so JB stores reserve wine from previous vintages in magnums. This first release is a blend of 25% 2008, 35% 2009, and 40% 2010. Quite simply this is one of our most fascinatingly elegant and aromatically beguiling Champagnes. It shows a pale golden yellow in the glass, adorned with a minutely beaded mousse. The nose unpacks an aroma box of linden flowers, sage, hyacinths, fresh mint, followed by Doyenne pears, Reine Claude plums, and a hint of smoky tones. The palate is refreshing stream of minerality, impeccably balanced and ripe for a Brut Nature, that glides and shifts to a saline and savory finish. One can't help but thinking of Rieslings from the great vineyards of Saar Valley. Simply stunning Champagne! (Disgorged 6/2015). - David Salinas
In the sometimes treacherous passage from grapes to wine, Geoffroy's flagship cuvée has been gifted every advantage. 50-year-old vines, on average, from JB's finest plots are used in the 2004's final blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. At pressing, only the "tête de cuvée" juices, the best juice from the first press, are used. The prise de mousse occurs under cork, not capsule, and the 2004 has aged for almost ten years on it lees to delicious results. It shines a medium golden yellow in the glass, adorned by a discrete mousse. Initial smoky tones, on the nose, give way to aromas of Cortland apples, honeysuckle, Mirabelle plums, and tamarinds. The palate is rich, round, and weighty with notes of green apples, greengages, and vanilla before a tart and smoky finish. (Disgorged 5/2014). - David Salinas
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
If the Rosé des Riceys from En Barmont is generous, verging on sensuous in nature, En Valingrain offers more linear, bordering on cerebral, pleasures (both are fantastic, I hasten to add). A pale light garnet robe, with hints of copper on the edges; the 2012 En Valingrain displays high-toned red fruit aromas, wild strawberry, cranberry, and rose hips, with a hint of brambles in the background. With air, the nose becomes more perfumed with pretty notes of wild roses, tangerine peel, and sandalwood. The palate is a bit reserved, in comparison to En Barmont, but has a fine mineral core and nervosity with wild strawberry and red cherry flavors giving way to a pungent earthiness. The finish is long and linear with an admirable persistence. Decant now or cellar for a few years to allow the elements to integrate. This is a lovely wine in the making and a fine expression of Rosé des Riceys! 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
Based on a solera, or perpetual cuvée, started in 1982, the Mémoire Extra Brut is comprised of 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay, aged in foudre and bottled with 3 g/ dosage. The grapes come from all of the various Huré vineyard parcels and the cuvée is considered to be a broad "snapshot" of the domain's terroir and vinification aesthetic. Pale golden yellow in color and with an ultra-fine bead, Mémoire offers soft aromas of Mirabelle plum, dried orange peel, lemon verbena, brown butter, with notes of honey. The palate is creamy, broad, round, and burnished with complex flavors of wild cherry, damson, heather honey, candied ginger, with a pleasing hint of nuttiness on the finish. There are a multiple layers to this Champagne as befits its solera origins and it is better served by enjoying from a wine glass, rather than flute to allow the bouquet to develop fully. - John McIlwain
Entirely Pinot Meunier, this is a notably unique rosé. It's incredibly vinous and is wine — serious wine — before it's rosé or Champagne. But as a saignée Champagne it has delicacy and poise, and yet is serious and structured. It's most curiously savory — our flavor associates included soft cheese, herbs, ferns, sausage, and spices. It is wonderfully dry with chalky minerality on the finish. Not a party Champagne, but one for serious consideration and engagement. Worth contemplation by any serious wine or Champagne lover. MSB
If ever there were an argument that portions of Cumières merit Grand Cru status, Laval's Les Chênes makes a convincing case. Made up of 100% organically farmed Chardonnay from the eponymous lieu-dit on the eastern side of the village down by the river where the soils are chalky rather than the clays of other portions of the village, this is particularly powerful blanc de blancs. While the nose offers tropical fruit and citrus aromas, the midweight, sinewy, and broad palate is pungently mineral displaying notes of salt, green tea, and quinine on a driving, powerful, persistent finish. This is certainly delicious now, but tastings of previous vintages of Les Chênes, lead one to believe there is plenty ahead for the patient. John McIlwain
Another impressive bottling from Raphaël Bérêche's Crus Sélectionnés, the 2004 Montagne Grand Cru, from Verzenay on the north slope of the Montagne de Reims displays the characteristic richness of the Pinot Noir-dominated wines of the village. With a golden robe and fine mousse, the Champagne is beginning to hit a fine point of maturity. The nose balances aromas of red fruits, beurre noisette, shortbread, and stone. The palate is supple with fine flavors of dried cherry, apricots, brioche, and dried mint, leading to a detailed, persistent, mineral finish. This shows grand cru volume and length while maintaining plenty of complexity and finesse. (disgorged 01/2016, 5g/l dosage) John McIlwain
Sourced from the grand cru village of Cramant in the Cote des Blancs, La Cote Grand Cru 2007 is beginning to display the aged character of Champagne from the famed village, a balance of mineral precision with the burnished fruit character of long aging sur latte. On the nose lemon oil, honeycomb, and brioche aromas overlay hints of seashell, and stone. The palate shows hints of halzelnut, brown butter, Seville orange, salt, and crushed herbs on a creamy, rich, rounded, finish with fine bead and good persistence. (4g/L dosage, disgorged 01/16.) John McIlwain
Someday soon the Ambonnay Grand Cru lieu-dit of Les Crayères will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Hermitage’s Les Bessards or Alsace’s Clos Sainte Hune. Similarly, Benoît Marguet will be heralded for having preserved and defended the health of his soils and his vineyard workers. These valuations form a positive feedback loop, where greater care and attention to finely delimited vineyards will help these great terroirs shine. Marguet’s Les Crayères is a blend of 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir from an airy, mid-slope vineyard. Light golden in color and starred by a finely beaded mousse, the aromas begin with acacia, ripe raspberries, and honeysuckle before transitioning to Red Delicious and violets. The zero-dosage palate is broad and gripping with notes of dark chocolate, Meyer lemon, and fresh peppermint with a vanilla macaroon and ripe cantaloupe finish. An expressive and uncompromising Champagne of terroir! Disgorged 3/2014. David Salinas
Benoit Marguet is a true believer in the power of biodynamics to change not only wine but the vineyard and life for the better. He is passionate about the relationship between the vigneron, the vines, and his wines. His vineyards are plowed by horse, fermentations are with native yeasts, his wines see little to no sulfur, and his viticulture shows clearly in the finished wines. While the 2011 vintage was difficult for most producers, Marguet's wines were lovely. Les Bermonts is a blanc de blancs from vines planted in 1952 in the grand cru Ambonnay, unusual as the village is more notable for Pinot Noir. Les Bermonts is chalky and mineral, showing the power of Ambonnay, while also showing an incisive minerality, which drives the wines. This shows citrus blossom and chalky on the nose, while the broad palate is saline, textured, and savory. This will benefit from time in the cellar and is a compelling expression of the terroir of the Montagne de Reims. John McIlwain
A rich and effervescent rosé (70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir) with all the fruit sourced from the Grand Cru of Ambonnay. There are delicate notes of wild red cherry and fresh strawberry tops, which sharply unfurls with richly concentrated flavors of ripe Tri-Star strawberries and candied cherry. Bold and powerful enough to have with a rare steak! Jonas Mendoza
There are no two ways about it. This is a natural Champagne made from biodynamically farmed Pinot Noir and then vinified with native yeasts for both the alcoholic fermentation and the prise de mousse. Finally, the Concordance is free of any added sulfur. The Aube's warmer climate and Dominique's great farming have resulted in a Blanc de Noirs that will settle any doubts about the quality of the 2011 base vintage. Pale golden yellow in the glass and sporting a finely beaded mousse, the aromas of the Concordance are strikingly pure and vibrant with notes of ripe Cortland apples, red currants, fresh raspberries and a hint of brioche. The palate is pure with a fine minerality that carries aromas of cranberries and red plums through to a lengthy and savory finish. Beautiful Champagne! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 1/2015). - David Salinas
Sourced from less than a hectare parcel of old-vine Pinot Noir, the Come des Tallants is the jewel of Roland's range. Beginning with a crystalline clear and brilliant golden yellow in the glass and very finely beaded mousse, the nose shows aromas of Greengage, lillies, spearmint, toffee, guava, and some musky tones. The palate is finely chiseled with a nervy minerality, buoyed by a weighty concentration and a full aromatic range of wild flowers, which continues through to a finely pointed finish. A fantastic effort and Champagne from Roland Piollot! (Dosage : Zero, Disgorged : 7/2015). This beautiful Champagne is a superb value and a great way to start, or enjoy during your holiday feast!
An organically-farmed Blanc de Noirs from the eponymous lieu-dit in the premier cru village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. The wine is a notable expression of this terroir, as Fabrice Pouillon reveals by vinifying with only the natural sugars from perfectly ripe Pinot Noir, in addition to only utilizing the indigenous yeasts present in the must. He accomplishes this by chilling unsulfured grape must in tank to a temperature low enough to prevent spoilage or fermentation. This must is then used for the secondary fermentation, as well as the dosage after disgorgement, rather than cane sugars or MCR. The resulting wine is layered and supple with a fine bead, displaying red fruits, blood orange peel, and spices, expressing the vinous character of Pinot Noir grown in the clays of the Grande Vallee de la Marne. John McIlwain
From an organically farmed, single-vineyard parcel at the top of the slope on the western side of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. 50% Pinot Noir fermented in tank, 50% Chardonnay fermented in used barrels. Disgorged in Spring 2016, zero dosage. Though from a premier cru village rather than its grand cru neighbor, Aÿ, the 2008 Les Blanchiens is no less an articulate expression of the calcareous clay soils that make up its terroir. The nose offers toasty brioche, dried orange peel, and bergamot aromas. The palate shows ripe dense fruit on the attack, with an incisive minerality dominating a rich and complex mid-palate. This is manifested by pungent soil notes, which give way to distinctly savory, sapid, and powerful finish. Though bottled without dosage, this is by no means austere. John McIlwain
Located in the hills above Essoyes, Ruppert-Leroy's vines are a study of polyculture, in contrast to most of the vineyards of Champagne. All are adjacent to forest, with dozens of herbs, wildflowers, grasses growing between the rows. In the Spring, there is a riot of color between the vines. Martin-Fontaine is 100% Chardonnay, fermented with native yeasts, bottled without dosage as of the 2013 vintage sees no addition of sulfur. We are lucky to be able to revisit the 2011, which is in a beautiful place at the moment, with a nose redolent of shortbread, lemon curd, and wet stone. The palate is stony, saline, and quite savory with umami notes vying for attention with pure flavors of ripe white orchard fruits. Quite pretty and detailed, this shows the potential of the terroir in this part of the Aube. John McIlwain
While today we tend to think of most wines in terms of fruit or mineral descriptors, some transcend those notes with profoundly savory character. Ruppert-Leroy's 100% Pinot Noir Champagne Les Cognaux hits this sweet spot with loads of minerality, pure fruit, and a rich sapid character which makes it a natural for the table. Here's a wine that will stand up to all manner of savory dishes, while leaving the palate refreshed. A visit to the vines with Bénédicte Ruppert of Ruppert-Leroy is an illuminating experience. There’s a world of difference between the Aube and the Vallée de la Marne. Not only are the soils different, (Kimmeridgean limestone vs. chalk), but the undulating landscape itself is wilder and less manicured. Often the vineyards abut forest rather than village, which in the case of biodynamic growers is especially desirable to insure a biodiversity according to Bénédicte. Between the vines is a riot of vegetation and flowers, as Ruppert-Leroy has 30 different plants and flowers sown in the vineyard. One such vineyard is the Les Cognaux whose grey marl soils are planted to Pinot Noir and when we visited in the Spring was aglow with yellow flowers. (These flowers are made into a tissane by Bénédicte to treat the vines for mildew.)The wildness of the countryside is reflected in the wines which are energetic, exuberant, and vibrantly mineral. The 2013 Les Cognaux shows red fruit, peach skin, orange peel, and see spray aromas with notes of daishi and fond. The palate balances lush, ripe flavors of apricot, peach, and Rainier cherry with crunchy acidity, compelling umami character and a pungent sense of minerality. The finish is vibrant and luminous. As of 2013 Ruppert-Leroy vinifies and bottles without SO2. John McIlwain
Hubert Soreau is is a vigneron whose wine exemplifies the dedication of small growers to producing distinctive Champagnes of terroir. Farming .49 ha near Epernay without chemicals, he produces tiny amounts of wine which ages in wood, sees long less aging under cork, and extended time in the cellar before release. The current Release of Le Clos l'Abee (base 2008 with this bottling) is vinous, waxy, layered, and burnished with plenty of savory and umami notes complementing the incisive minerality from the terroir. The aromatics balance yellow fruit and citrus peel with brioche and soil notes. This is a treat for fans of leesy, chalky Champagnes. There is a fine bead and a long, broad, elegant finish. (Dosage 5g/l; Disgorged Fall 2015) John McIlwain
There's a great deal to admire in the Champagnes and ethic of Aurelien Suenen. His wines combine beautiful fruit with a frank minerality in a graceful way. This results from conscientious farming (Suenen has been in transition to organic certification since 2009), deft work in the cellar (native yeast fermentation, natural malolactic fermentation, moderate use of sulfur, and dosage determined by blind tasting trial). Aurelien's inaugural village releases display his desire to release Champagnes that articulate a sense of place. He notes that in Cramant there is different terroir expression in the wines from the high vineyards and the lower lying vineyards, with the vines planted in the latter proving to be more distinctly mineral. C + C, a blend of wines from Chouilly and Cramant is richer and more briny than the Oiry bottling. The nose offers an intoxicating blend of lemon blossom, sea spray, and apricot aromas, while the palate is incisively chalky, pungently stony, and taut. This is not to say this is austere, rather brisk and punchy with great persistence on the long, sapid finish. John McIlwain
The 2013 vintage is the inaugural release of Aurelien Suenen's Grand Cru Oiry Blanc de Blancs. Wines from the village of Oiry 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 2013 is brisk, briny, and fresh on the nose with aromas of citrus peel, 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 2013 is especially suited to seafood dishes such as fluke crudo, where the bright acidity sets off the sweetness of the fish, or as a bright foil to pan-roasted monkfish, or skate with brown butter and lemon. John McIlwain
Aurélien Suenen originally trained in the US to become a professional basketball player, but returned to France to take over the estate in 2009 when his father passed away. "MBDA" is one of his first cuvées; besides a longing tribute to four generations of Suenen (Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, Aurélien) that have farmed in Champagne since 1898, it represents a precocious and stunning effort. MBDA is a blend of nearly equal parts Pinot Noir (from Montigny-sur-Velse) and Chardonnay (from grand cru sites Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry). Enticing at first with golden apple, candied ginger, and brioche aromatics, this Champagne fills out the palate with bruised red apple skin, yellow plum, and toast flavors, and then finishes with shaded undertones of dried honey and roasted parsnip. Texturally, the soft mousse floats like a featherweight on the center of the tongue, but then broadly fills out across the palate. Jonas Mendoza
From vines planted in 1939, 1950, 1979 in the limestone and red clays and gravels beneath les Lavières. The Aux Grands Liards is bit muted upon opening, but with 2 hours in the decanter lovely fruit and pungent soil aromas emerge. Aromatically the wine is perfumed and quite pretty with aromas of wild strawberry, red currant, black tea, and brambles. Fine strawberry and mineral flavors build on the mid-weight palate and carry over on an admirably long finish. This is a fine and satisfying Savigny-Les-Beaune and recommended for mid-term cellaring. Decant early or hold 3-5 years to allow elements to integrate.
Bize 2014 Bourgogne Rouge Les Perrières from vines located above Pernand-Vegelesses planted in 1971 and 1974. Stony, dark fruited, hints of spice, damp earth, bright acidity, savory herb notes, appropriately mineral, good concentration. Still a bit circumspect initially, but maintains a nice balance of structural and fruity elements. Not exactly plush at the moment, but the frank earthiness is compelling. Very pretty after an hour of air. Decant now or hold for 2-5 years when things should blossom. There's plenty here for a Bourgogne and I like the energy and mineral character. John McIlwain
From .38 HA biodynamically farmed vines averaging over 40 years old, high on the hillside of Corton. Traditionally the most powerful and stern of the stable of red Corton lieu-dits at Chandon de Briailles. 80% whole cluster fermentation. There’s a fair bit of reduction to this initially, but with a long decant this recedes to reveal aromas plummy black fruit, animale funk, black tea, and fresh-turned earth. In the mouth ripe red/black fruit flavors mingle with pungent minerality on the vibrant mid-weight palate. There is good sap and firm, but ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the long, substantial finish. This has real class and should be sensational after 10-15 years in the cellar. 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
This is one of our favorite, if somewhat unknown, estates in Burgundy. Jean Lafouge and his son Gilles make classic, balanced, beautiful Burgundies at affordable prices and their village level Auxey-Duresses is always lovely and a great value. The 2014 is slightly riper than usual with lovely aromas of strawberry and tart cherry, with violet, rose, citrus and spice. Medium-bodied, with citrusy red fruits on the palate with great balance and refreshing acidity, the wine shows hints of earth and mineral that will develop nicely with time. Lovely now, especially if decanted well in advance, and a great pairing with poultry, white meats and mild cheeses. This has the weight and structure to cellar well, best perhaps in 5 to 8 years. David Lillie
Les Chanlins, a premier cru bordering Volnay, expresses the prettier side of Pommard. A continuation of Volnay Pitures (formerly known as Volnay Chanlins until 2006), the vineyard is steep with more limestone and pebbles rather than clay, producing wines which are typically more generous than backwards. "Chanlins is one of the most inherently elegant terroirs in Pommards, and the style of the vineyard dovetails with the Lafouge style of winemaking" writes John Gilman. From a small parcel of old vines, the Lafouge 2014 Chanlins shows beautiful aromas of bright red fruits - raspberry, tart cherry and wild strawberry - with earth, citrus, rose, brown spice and game. Lovely tart red fruits on the palate with firm acidity and intense chalky minerality that coats the palate on the long finish. This is a lovely, pure and elegant old-fashioned Burgundy - delicious now with its bright, youthful fruit, best probably 2022 to 2032. DL
From old vines on fairly deep iron-rich soils south of the village in three different parcels, Les Boutieres, Les Citernes and Les Combes. Always a ripe, powerful wine, the 2014 Rapet Aloxe-Corton is well-structured for aging and beautifully balanced with firm acidity and the pretty fruit of this vintage that was saved by ample sunshine from mid-August into October. The wine shows elegant aromas of ripe black cherry and blackberry with hints of violet and earth. On the palate there is an intense fusion of mineral flavors with ripe blackberry and red currant fruit, sappy and long, framed in firm acidity and ample tannin. This is a big, age-worthy Aloxe that will be quite beautiful when mature, best perhaps 2020 - 2030 and beyond. Quite enjoyable now in its intense youth, decant well in advance or open the night before... David Lillie
Ile des Vergelesses is certainly one of the best premier cru vineyards in Burgundy - a perfectly exposed mid-slope vineyard on limestone and iron-rich soils, steep enough for ideal drainage, producing wines that age beautifully for 15 to 20 years - considered by many to be grand cru quality. The 2014s from Vincent Rapet are lovely, beautifully balanced wines. The 2014 Ile des Vergelesses shows very bright perfume of wild strawberry, black raspberry, rose, pepper and licorice. The palate is very dense with elegant, chalky red fruits that coat the palate. This should develop beautifully - it's perfectly balanced at 13% alcohol with firm acidity - well structured for aging. Fun to taste now, especially if decanted or opened the night before, probably best 2022 - 2035. David Lillie
Located beneath Bousse d'Or and between the Champans and En l'Ormeau climats in the center of the village of Volnay, Carelle Sous la Chapelle (the square beneath the chapel) shares some of the fruity character of Champans with a bit more structure. The 2013 has a lovely melange of wild blackberry, black currant, rose petal, and game aromas on the nose. There's a fine balance of fruit and savory minerality on the palate with sappy blackberry vying with soil notes for prominence on the lingering finish. Perhaps not as structured as some vintages, but this has plenty of drive and should be immensely satisfying with a few years in the bottle. This pairs beautifully with braised duck dumplings and is a prime choice to accompany a chicken fricassee with plenty of mushrooms. 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 vines averaging 40 years old from the lieux-dits Bussières, Chardannes, Les Herbues and Les Gamaires. Certified biodynamic. Domaine Arlaud's 2014 Chambolle-Musigny shows plenty of high-toned red fruit on the nose with aromas of pomegranate, wild cherry, and strawberry with hints of wood smoke and floral notes. On the sappy, mid-weight palate, pure red fruit flavors are underlain by a pungent chalky minerality which persists through on the long, fresh, tangy finish. This is classically Chambolle: stylish and pretty with good depth. Give this 3-5 years and enjoy for the next 10-15. John McIlwain
Maybe not a bruiser, but what a beauty! Wild strawberry, pomegranate, brown spices, super-pretty red fruits, herbal hints. Mid-weight palate, bright acid, luminous fruit, good volume and persistence on the finish-not just a little bit of that classic Burgundy peacock's tail. John McIlwain
It's no secret that the Jean Chauvenet's 2012 Nuits St. Georges Les Perrières was one of my favorite red Burgundies of the vintage. The 2013 is another winner for the domaine. Chauvenet's Christope Drag farms a .23 hectare parcel of old vines high on the slope adjacent to Les Poulettes and Les Poirets between the holdings farmed by Henri Gouges and Regis Forey. The particularly stony soils retain heat and Christophe says this is typically the first vineyard harvested after the Bourgogne. Personally I find it the most effusively perfumed of his wines with his Vaucrains a close second. The bouquet of the 2013 leaps from the glass, with floral aromas, red fruits, and pretty wild berry aromas, giving way to spices and soil notes. The palate is equally fresh, with red berry, strawberry, Morello cherry, and pipe tobacco flavors giving way to a chalky minerality. There is fine energy and cut to this which carries through on a long, lingering, and building finish. This is certainly a pretty expression of Nuits St. Georges, but has the tannins and acidity to age with grace. John McIlwainFrom .23 hectare of vines dating back to 1948 between the parcels farmed by Gouges and Regis Forey. Les Perrières high on the slope between Les Poulettes and Les Poirets. The soil contains many stones which retain heat and Christophe Drag says this is the first vineyard harvested after the Bougogne. As Clive Coates has noted, somewhat atypically for Nuits St. Georges, the wines from this climat are more floral and feminine though certainly displaying great minerality
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
Les Sentiers premier cru is located on the north side of Chambolle-Musigny, beneath the Bonnes Mares Grand Cru and between the Les Baudes and Les Ruchots premier crus. Medium dark robe. The 2013 Les Sentiers shows a nice balance between fruit and earth. Raspberry, violet, spices, with hints of game and herb on the nose. Dark cherry, black tea, and blood orange peel on the sappy, yet chalky, mineral palate. As befits the cru's proximity to Bonnes Mares, this is a more masculine expression of Chambolle-Musiginy. There's good concentration of fruit here, in addition to distinct terroir delineation; with still more to be revealed as the structure resolves itself further. Decant now or better still, hold for 5 to 15 years. John McIlwain
This a wonderful expression of Les Sentiers, aromatically expressive and layered. There are bright aromas of black cherry, raspberry, violets, woody herbs, and game on the nose. The mid-weight palate initially shows brambly black fruits, and pungent soil flavors. With time in the glass notes of dark cherry and cherry pit appear along with a savory ferrous minerality and spice notes. The tension between fruit and earthiness is compelling and will gain in complexity with time in the cellar. More expressive on the second day. If enjoying now, decant for several hours or revisit in 7-10 years and enjoy for the decade following. John McIlwain
From a parcel of old vines grown in Les Faconnières, one of the best situated climats in Morey St. Denis, located beneath Clos de la Roche and between the Millandes and Charrières premier crus. The 2014 is truly lovely and perfumed, displaying floral and red fruit aromas of bright cherry, wild strawberry and violets, with a hint of game and wood smoke. Beautiful, pure red fruits carry over on the palate, with flavors of perfectly ripe Morello cherry, strawberry, and mineral spice, with lip-smacking acidity and a savory tannic spine. This shows layers of fruit with a mineral foundation beneath. This is a beautiful and harmonious Faconnières and while delicious now, will be marvelous from 2025 on. John McIlwainBurgundy at Thanksgiving - Of course! We have a wide variety of delicious Pinot Noirs from the ripe and lovely 2014 Burgundy vintage in stock that will also grace your Thanksgiving table, starting at around $20 - give us a call for assistance in your selection.
Situated just above Clos de la Roche, the Magnien's 2014 1er Cru Mont-Luisants shares the grand cru's "inherent lushness" (Clive Coates) in this lovely vintage for Burgundy. The wine shows a deep red-black color with lush aromas of blackberry, plum and ripe strawbwrry with earth, graphite and citrus. Dense ripe blackberry and black cherry fruit coats the palate with hints of bitter chocaolate and soil. Surprisingly round but with nice chalky acidity and a long finish of citrus and pretty berry fruits. Quite delicious now, this lovely wine will offer superb drinking with a little time in the cellar, perhaps best 2020 - 2035.
Andreas is working around 30 different plots on this mostly south-facing hill, a small portion of which remains terraced. No ungrafted vines remain, but these are still old vines, being planted in 1953. Andreas spoke about the grapes for the Spätlese as being small in size, but not in compact bunches, with violet skins. 2015 gave grapes with no botrytis, which was perfect for Andreas, who believes Spätlese with botrytis can verge on being 'baroque'. This is a Spätlese with lift: incredibly floral on the nose with a vibrant palate bursting with peach, mango, honey and stone, candied orange peel and grapefruit zest. Cari Bernard
Encouraged by the interest shown for the the initial release of his wines, Jochen agreed to send a limited number of magnums stateside. The 2010 Geyersberg in this larger format shows all minerality, one would expect from the vintage and all the added depth of flavor that magnums can offer. It shines a rich, brilliant golden yellow in the glass, while the nose is equally compelling. Aromas of lilacs, ripe red peaches, starfruit, and lemon zest are interlaced with star anise, freshly ground ginger, and smoky tones. The palate is refined, ethereal, and its towering minerality glides effortlessly. Fine floral notes are followed by a crescendo of Meyer lemon, cardamom, and star anise leading to a smoky, perfectly ripe nectarine finish. This is powerful and nuanced, dry Riesling! - David Salinas
Made with grapes from a section of the Herrenberg, with more than 12 months spent on the lees in bottle, this Sekt is just asking to be popped for any occasion (A birthday! A Tuesday! Apéro!). Crisp and flinty, but also leesy on the nose, the palate is fresh and lively, with stone fruit, young ginger, fennel bulb, and a brisk minerality. Pair with a fried oyster po'boy or crab cakes! Cari Bernard
Semi-carbonic, from grapes planted in the 1980s; the wine doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation, so there is still a bright malic, green note. The Webers made a deliberate choice to print ‘Spätlese’ on the label to confirm that there was no chaptalization of the must. The wine is fresh and tart, with notes of red apple skin, pomegranate, red flowers and cherries, balanced by just a touch of umami savoriness. This is your new summer red, with taught acidity and bright flavors. This can also be your fall red, to pair with those transitional dishes that still harken back to summer, but are a touch more warming. Cari Bernard
Eva Fricke's journey from child of doctors in Northern Germany to winemaker in the Rheingau with ten leased hectares (only seven currently in production) and going for organic certification for the 2016 vintage is quite the story. Eva has worked at wineries in South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Australia, and also holds a degree in Oenology from Geisenheim as well as a Masters in Business Management from Oestrich-Winkel. During her seven-year tenure working with Johannes Leitz, she slowly began to branch out into her own vineyard plots and winery, officially leaving Leitz in 2011. Her determination and dedication to quality is inspiring. During her tasting in the store this past February, she spoke excitedly about the importance of organic farming, and the positive influence it has on her vines, even in difficult vintages. By choosing to work the steep slopes organically in the Rheingau, she has taken on a challenge rarely even considered in the region. 2015 was a stellar vintage for Eva, and across the board her wines have pitch-perfect clarity and vibrant acidity. The Lorcher Riesling trocken has grapes from both Schlossberg and Kapellenberg vineyards, grown on slate with loess and quartzite. The wine is stony and salty on the nose, with notes of citrus zest and dark slate; focused yet still has a sense of fullness across the mid-palate, with flavors of tart white grapefruit, juicy apricot, and a firm mineral structure. This wine should open up nicely in three to five years. Cari Bernard
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
This wine is sourced from a portion of a 1.1 hectare monopol within the Zeppwingert; created during the winters of 1841-1845 by blasting through the gray slate with gunpowder charges. This area of the slope is extremely dry, with cooler temperatures and lower yields (~25hL/ha). The wine can definitely take a decant; at first sip tart and salty, with a distinct stoniness balanced by the light fruitiness of white peach, underripe pineapple, and a touch of white flowers. Cari Bernard
Viewable from the estate, Steffensberg is the warmest site, boasting both gray and red slate with deeper soil. Gernot works a total of 1.5 hectares spread between some of the finest plots with mostly ungrafted vines. Portions of the hillside have been partially replanted due to Flurbereinigung (a remodeling/restructuring of the vineyards, adding access roadways and consolidating plots) starting in the 1960s. The warmth of Steffensberg comes through as fragrant, ripe peach and mango on the nose. The palate is structured with some weight, with notes of slightly less-ripe peach and strawberry, lemon zest, and green herbs. Cari Bernard
A cuvée of all Grand Cru vineyards boasting mostly ungrafted vines with a minimum age of 60 years. The 2015 is not tropical like 2014 Escheburg was, this vintage is bright with shimmering acidity, showing more peach and apricot notes on the palate, clover blossom and orange oil on the nose. Cari Bernard
Andi Knauss is making beautiful wines in Württemberg-Remstal, near the Black Forest in southwest Germany. His dedication to quality and focus in the vineyards and cellar is clearly reflected in his wines. His Sekt Brut Zero is sourced from vines grown on limestone, made in the Méthode Champenoise with no dosage and no added sulfur. Chalky and bright acidity, with an aggressive mousse and notes of tart apricot with yellow and green apple skin, this wine is a stunner. Cari Bernard
Grey sandstone and pebbles mark the Steinacker vineyard, which sits just across the road from the Saumagen vineyard, Koehler-Ruprect's grand cru site. Grapes grown in the Steinacker lend themselves well to the off-dry style of wines. Rich citron and white blossoms burst forth on the nose and palate, the wine has great balance with silky sweet peach, punchy acidity, and a lingering finish. Cari Bernard
Lambertskirch is a parcel, not too far from Schonfels, that during its long history has gone from vines to fruit trees and forest overgrowth. Florian cleared and replanted the 0.2 hectares in 2012. 2015 is the second vintage from this predominately southeast-facing site where large, gray slate stones litter the ground between the vines. Floral with nectarine skin on the nose, the wine is practically vibrating, shimmering with acidity and tension. The palate is a touch more linear and lighter than the Fass 8 Kabinett, with fresh flavors of ripe nectarine, floral stems and petals, salinity and finely-integrated residual sugar. Cari Bernard
Beneath a layer of sandy-loam, Pechstein's soils hold basalt or pitched stone, the source of this vineyard's name. Along with the Jesuitengarten this wine was one of the clear stand-outs of Markus' 2014 campaign. It shines a golden honey yellow in the glass and welcomes with aromas of lilacs, chrysanthemums, grilled pistachios, lavender, and cranberries. The palate shows a fine minerality, offering tremendous length with notes of white truffles prior to a linden blossom finish. This is nuanced and impeccably detailed, dry Riesling!- David Salinas
As the name would suggest, the vines are on terraces with limestone soils with vines at around 30 years of age. Whole bunch pressed, fermented and aged in old barrel, unfiltered. Tropical aromas of starfruit mix with freshly milled pine; the palate is lively, fresh, and layered with texture, minerality, flavors of green mango and greengage plum. Cari Bernard
Made from an assortment of Franconian apple varieties, with second fermentation in the bottle, and no sulfur added; the nose is oxidative, with hints of brown butter and apple blossom. The palate is savory and tart, balanced with notes of burnt caramel, yellow apple and a stony minerality: think savory like Asturian sidra but with more bubbles and darker tones. Cari Bernard
Let's be honest here: this is basically a Beerenauslese, with 140 g/L of residual sugar and 12.5 grams of acidity! 100% botrytis-affected grapes, this wine can (and should) age for quite some time. The nose hints at peach candy, cinnamon, and button mushroom, on the palate the wine shows both intensity and density, rich with honeyed peaches, orange oil, and apricot preserves. A fantastic bottle for those who wait! Cari Bernard
I must say I've been a tad obsessed with 2015 Kabinett and Spätlese wines from the Mosel. This is not to knock Auslese and above, but the vintage made for such intense levels of ripeness and acidity, that many Auslesen need ample time to right themselves, or even 5-10 years to really begin showing their layered complexity. I'm not a patient person by any means, so the possibility of the instant gratification of Kabinett and (at times) Spätlese wines is always tempting! The Goldgrube Kabinett from Vollenweider is a great example of this magical vintage in a bottle. The nose is quite floral with a whisper of tropical fruit; this expands on the palate into exotic mangoes, tart yellow-skinned apple, ripe peaches, with sky-high tension between the acid and residual sugar. Cari Bernard
While I love dry German Riesling and am constantly evangelizing about its virtues, I still love wines with some sweetness more than most Germans and perhaps more than the proprietors of Von Racknitz themselves. That's most likely why this was the first wine I tasted at the estate that got three stars in my notebook (out of a max of three -- it's not a particularly precise system, I admit). As excited as I was by it, the note is somewhat brusque: "Very ripe aromas; concentrated peach and herbs. A lot of depth. Like the sun exploding in my mouth. So succulent. Exceptional!" The vines are over 60 years old, the wines are fermented spontaneously in stainless steel, the yields are absurdly low (30 hl/ha) and it's just an outright delicious, lip-smacking Spätlese. -jfr
Everything you'd expect and hope to find in Hermannshöhle is here: the multi-colored fruit tones; the kaleidescopic minerality; the racy minerality underlying it all. Texturally, though, this is way different than anything you've tasted before from this site. The vines of this excellent parcel are up to 50 years old and they provide the wine with a sense of depth and precision that nearly surpasses everything else in the portfolio. Hermannshöhle is one of the most storied vineyards in all of Germany with good reason, and we couldn't be happier to offer this new interpretation of what the site can give. -jfr
Significantly more depth than the very fine Barolo classico, with herbs and meaty notes along with notable chalk tang – very fine grained tannins; a bit richer and rounder than the 2010, but lacking none of the finesse that Rocche (and the Brovias) can produce. Jamie Wolff
Troglia was a wine merchant in Torino. Until the 1970s most wine was sold in bulk to merchants or private consumers, and then bottled for re-sale or home consumption — it's still quite common for producers to sell some of their production in bulk. We've had Cappellano Barolo bottled by Troglia back to 1954, and they certainly did a good job of it, using the funky, misshapen bottle associated with Gattinara.
From the ripe 2009 vintage, Giacomo Conterno's Barolo Cascina Francia avoids the overly rich character of some of the wines of their neighbors. Perfumes of orange oil, earth, grilled meat arise from the glass. The palate while dense and structured shows fine counterpoise between power and elegance, with sweet fruit, soil notes, and savory notes framed by ripe tannins and buoyed by good acidity for the vintage. This is quite pretty and while drinking nicely with decanting, this will benefit from another 10-20 years in the cellar when the fruit and structure should integrate. John McIlwain
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.
Barbaresco: “Notu” was Fabio’s grandfather, and the name of the wine means “Notu followed the drops of water.” Although it may not be intended, the reference to water makes sense when you taste the wine, which has a kind of crystalline freshness and clarity that reminds one of spring water. Fabio writes: “48 months fining barrel (the wood Fabio use are not really “toasted,” but vaporized with specific volcanic hot rocks (no any creation of toxic elements after this treatment) and after unique mass for 6 months in porcelain jars (Fabio is the designer and the ceramist of his own porcelain jars; very probably the first one winemaker in the world that uses “no breathing ceramics” for winemaking). 1175 bottles made.”The 2011 is an edgy, dynamic wine, showing ripe fruit balanced by great lift and transparency. It stands out in the vintage, and it’s exciting to drink. Jamie Wolff
What we know: Giuseppe Mascarello, father of Mauro, was named after his grandfather. His father was Maurizio. I've been told that Natale was his (Giuseppe's) uncle. The Giuseppe Mascarello cantina was - and is - in Monchiero. From a logical and chronological point of view, it seems likely that Giuseppe (Mauro's father) made this wine.Maybe someone knows why - assuming I'm correct - the wine is labelled like this? Jamie Wolff
There's a similar litheness and elegance to Nervi's 1964 Gattinara, but the development is more advanced with darker fruit and richer dark chocolate notes and flavors. The tannins have nicely resolved; a solid birth year wine or a vino da meditazione for Nebbiolo's ability to age. Jonas Mendoza
In 2010 Chiara and Michele were living in Milan with their two young children when they decided to buy a small organic farm in Paderna and start making wine. They have 3.5 hectares made up of 10 small parcels of 15 to 100-year-old vines. The vineyards face both north and south at an altitude of about 300 meters, with soils rich in limestone and clay. For the Barbera Superiore, the grapes are destemmed and fermented in cement tanks. Maceration on the skins lasts 40 days depending on the year, with malolactic fermentation taking place in barrels. The wine spends 18 months in barrels and a minimum of 6 months in bottle before it is released. The result is a Barbera with a complex nose of black cherries and cloves. On the palate you get ripe black plums, violets, sage and dark chocolate. This is a really unique and interesting Barbera, and one that I will certainly be drinking more of! Christine Manula
Mint, balsam, on top of full Nebbiolo aromatics and a lot of minerality; very ripe and firm tannins. This shows that it’s not all about 2010! It’s made from younger vines in Boscareto (see below), usually harvested rather later than the neighbors. Principiano thinks that his organic viticulture has made a huge difference in the health of the vines, even in difficult growing seasons. The wine gets about a month of maceration and then is aged in 20,000 and 40,000 liter barrels. It’s a harmonious and deep wine with a long future. Jamie Wolff
Still doing very well at 40+ years, with intense mature Nebbiolo aromatics, dry and savory; the wine is not overly tannic, but no Piemontese would ever serve this except at table, with a main-course meat dish like ossobuco or something grilled; do so and you will have a memorable treat.
Medium ruby color with hints of brick on rim. Black cherry and black tea flavors with prominent notes of hoisin and balsamic. Quite along its development, but still has firm tannins and resonant acidity (1/17/17). Jonas Mendoza
Montestefano is one of the great Barbaresco vineyards, producing long-aging, structured wine. Prunotto was making very good wine in the 1980's. This should be a real treat.
Lovely wine with a deep penetrating nose of leather, spice, mineral, cherry and chestnut. Palate has great inner mouth aromas and nice juicy fruit. Great ripeness with good chewiness. Lovely stuff!
For Christmas this year I would like to be given the Giuseppe Rinaldi 2002 Barolo, in magnum. Please. In Piedmont the summer of ’02 saw unprecedented quantities of rain, cool temps, landslides, hail, and downpours of frogs – just about every bad wet weather thing that can happen, and many producers didn’t even make wine. By way of contrast, Giacomo Conterno bottled only Monfortino; I haven’t tasted it for a while but it was pretty spectacular then (it would be very interesting to taste the 2002 Monfortino blind… does anyone with a bottle want to join the experiment?). And G Rinaldi made really good Barolo, which I was first wowed by in 2007, and then again last May. So I’d like that mag, please. Jamie Wolff
Formerly labeled Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera, this is close to same blend / same wine. Early on (from barrel in 2014) the Tre Tine seemed closer in style to Brunate than usual, sharing a dark core of ripe fruit, and very ripe tannin. A year later there was more obvious difference, with the elegance of Cannubi beginning to shine. Out of about 120 Barolos, this is one of the very best 2011s we've tasted. Jamie Wolff
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
According to history, the Camaldolese monks started making wine in the area of San Michele back in 1186. Today La Marca carry on that tradition of making Verdicchio in Le Marche, the eastern Italian region that sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Their vineyards are located on hills of clay and limestone soil 350-400 meters above sea level. The wine stays on the lees for a minimum of six months and is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The result is a medium-bodied full-flavored white, ripe with stone fruit, citrus, herbs and a touch of honey. Try it with roasted flounder, scallops, mushroom risotto or roasted chicken. And if you are looking for a white to age, this would be a perfect candidate. We just opened the 2012 which was still extremely fresh and lively, but rich with dried apricots and honey. Christine Manula
The 2014 Sant’Erasmo Bianco is a striking wine grown on the island of San Erasmo within the lagoon of Venice. Premised on Malvasia Istriana but comprised of a number of other local cultivars all planted on its own root stock, the wine is deeply colored in the glass, with a nose reminiscent of ripe golden apples and honeysuckle undercut by a salty tone. The palate is bold, with an initial attack of juicy orchard fruit and rich texture, followed by a honeyed note giving way to a long savory finish. More than anything else, the Orto shows a stern backbone of minerality bracing its mellow acidity and weight on the palate. I served it with shrimp cooked with their own stock and butter, but this wine would pair beautifully with anything out of the sea, soft cheese, or rich vegetable dishes. Open early and serve slightly chilled. Andy Paynter
The 2014 Pinot Grigio from Ronco Severo is a beautiful wine that challenges neat and tidy wine categories. Technically it is an orange wine made from late harvest Pinot Grigio, which is fermented on its skins for about a month, gently pressed, and then raised on the lees for an additional 23 months. However, because Pinot Grigio has much more pigment in the skins than other white grapes, the extended skin contact causes it to look and drink like a very light red wine. Lightly ruby in the glass with a touch of orange at the rim, the nose shows startling complexity with layers of burnished red fruit, nectarines, soft yellow florals, citrus zest, and slightly nutty tone. The palate has some density with very soft fine tannins and lifted acidity with red apple skins, mandarin oranges, and considerable minerality. Definitely not a simple Pinot Grigio! This wine would pair well with traditional Thanksgiving fare, especially mashed potatoes and gravy or green bean casserole. Don't be afraid to try it on day two with a turkey sandwich if there is any left after the feast. Open early and serve with a slight chill. Andy Paynter
Famoso di Cesena, a native grape of Romagna, was first documented in 1437 but had all but disappeared by the early 1900s. In 2000 two old rows of vines were spotted in Mercato Saraceno (Forlì) and the owner knew it was Famoso. Today the grape is being revived by a group of winemakers who are convinced that the unique features of this grape variety should not be lost. Davide and Mauro at Villa Venti are growing Famoso on red clay and Messinian-age sand. Serenaro is fermented in stainless steel and aged six months on the lees then matured four months in bottle. No added yeasts and minimal sulfur is added. The result is a very aromatic wine with floral/lavender notes and hints of dried fruit. On the palate, it’s refreshing with citrus peel and nice minerality. Perfect with fish, fresh cheese and all'ascolana (fried stuffed olives). Christine Manula Just last night we opened a bottle of Serenaro at home - it had been a while (and I'm not sure my wife had never tasted it) - and it was stunning. We had seconds, and thirds, and then the rest - not usually the pattern since my exuberant glugging is usually balance by my wife's more modest consumption, but she loved the wine. And it was incredible with the clams I'd bought from Alex at Blue Moon - it was great to see them back at the market! I made risotto - Vialone Nano rice (about 1.5 cups), 2 dozen steamed and chopped clams, one clove of garlic, 1/2 chopped red onion, a TON of chopped parsley, and about a cup of cooked sweet corn. I sauteed the garlic and onion in olive oil with some Espelette pepper (ground, that is) and used the broth from the clams stretched with vegetable stock. The whole thing took 30 minutes and with the Serenaro it was... I think the technical term is killer. Welcome back Captain Alex! Jamie Wolff
Anna (Australian) and Eric (French) starting making wine together back in 2008, and now own six hectares on Etna’s north face which they farm organically. Although they could be considered “outsiders”, they have a deep appreciation for preserving the land and traditional Sicilian wine making practices. They have restored a Palmento on their property and they are also working diligently to revive and replant vineyards that have been abandoned or neglected in some of the highest elevations of Etna Park, not an easy task. Their Bianco is made from a field blend of 60% Grecanico, 30% Carricante, 5% Malvasia (from the island of Salina) and other Indigenous white grape varieties.
Grolleau from Agnès and René Mosse! This is an all around fun and unique wine, with a vibrant nose, lots of character, and very light body. There's a bit of natural CO2 tingle , which seems to serve the wine well by lifting the bright fruit and preserving the freshness, a touch of pepper and a long mineral finish. We recommend a light chill and an open mind. Eben Lillie
(Tasted in January 2016) From 50 to 60 year-old Cabernet Franc vines on a gravel soil over sandy clay and limestone at the bottom of the hill of Sonnay in Cravant. Aged 12 months in 3 to 5 year-old barrels. The 2014 is certainly one of the greatest "les Grézeaux" from this wonderful estate! Beautiful deep red/black color, lush, complex palate of ripe dark fruit with perfect balance and fabulous length, with cool acidity lifting the fruit. As always the "les Grézeaux" is enjoyable young as the gravel soil gives a wine with a silky texture, but it ages beautifully as well, as anyone with the 1989 can tell you. This is a must for any lover of Chinon!
Menu Pineau, also known as "Arbois" is described in Wine Grapes (J. Robinson et al.) as "an old variety from the Val de Loire named after it's similarity to Gros Pineau (Chenin Blanc)...although it has nothing to do with the village called Arbois in the Franche-Comté." It is an offspring of Gouais Blanc, along with many other European grapes, and is "a little more rustic, but less acid than Chenin Blanc," according to Thierry Puzelat. The 2015 La Tesnière Blanc by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme is from organically-grown vines, 75% Menu Pineau and 25% Chenin Blanc, in this great parcel that abuts the Clos Roche Blanche in Touraine. Bright pale gold color. Subtle aromas of grapefruit, pear, fresh herbs, stone and caramel. The palate is lean, with firm acidity and flavors of hazelnut, citrus, baked apple, stone and brown spice. A really fascinating wine and a great pairing with grilled fish with fennel, lemon chicken, aged goat cheeses and much more. Highly recommended to lovers of unique natural wines.
From old vines on the upper slopes of Bourgueil, where the clay over Turonien chalk gives magnificent long-lasting wines. Vinified with zero sulfur-dioxide, the 2010 Nuits D'Ivresse has deep aromas of strawberry confit, earth and spice. The palate is round but balanced and fresh. Buy a case and drink half now, wait 5 to 8 years for the rest. "It's a search for purity of fruit according to the principals of Jules Chauvet, a wine of "Pure Origine" without additives."
One of our favorite Loire reds, the Breton Nuits D'Ivresse is a selection of old vines on a terroir of clay and limestone. The wine is vinified, aged and bottled without the addition of sulfur, preserving it's lovely fruit aromas. The 2012 has complex somewhat "sauvage" red fruit and earthy notes and a medium-bodied palate. 2012 is a lovely vintage for Loire reds with vibrant fruit and bright acidity making them great food wines — carafe, serve cool and enjoy with charcuterie, pork, roast chicken and mild cheeses...
Our friend Francois Pinon feels that the best expression of Chenin Blanc is often somewhere between sec and demi-sec, sometimes called "Tradition," and this lovely wine, at 14 grams of residual sugar and 12.5% alcohol, fits the bill perfectly. The Clos Habert is a 3 hectare parcel on clay with silex stones ("Les Peruches") over the white limestone Tuffeau. Full and elegant with white fruits, citrus and stone, this beautfully structured and crystalline Chenin Blanc will accompany fish and chicken in sauce, Asian foods and goat cheeses and will age wonderfully for fifteen to 20 years.