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A Fantastic, High Scoring Old-World Wine Under $10!

This is a red blend from the Symington family who, if you don't know, are behind Dow's port wines, one of the premiere port wine houses in Portugal. That's the first clue that makes this wine worthy of at least a look. Second, it's from the 2011 vintage, when Portugal and Portugese wines had a rebirth, a renewal, that saw them producing some of the best wines ever from their country. Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine and well known British wine critic said this of the 2011 vintage in Portugal: "...there is little doubt that 2011 produced some stunning vintage ports, into which more effort and skill has gone than any other previous vintage in the Douro. And I find it impossible to think of any other wine region, anywhere in the world, that produced better wines." It is also worthwhile to note that Dow's 2011 port wine was named Wine Spectator's number one wine of the year in 2014 with a score of 99 points. The 2011 Vale Do Bomfim received a respectable 90 points from Wine Spectator-- for a sub-$10 wine.

While this Vale Do Bomfim is not a port wine, it is from the Douro and had the same weather conditions (ideal!) and zeitgeist that the port wines experienced, from one of the top port wine producers-- and we reap the reward by getting a fantastic, old-world wine at a song of a price. But this wine is not new to us; it's been on the Hi-Time radar for at least the last decade, as we've featured it in numerous December newsletters (it made the "Stocking Stuffer" section at least twice!) and previously ran it as a wine of the month. Having typed all that as an introduction, know that this 2011 is the best version we've had; we say that not to down vote the other years, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but to uplift this bottling as being exemplary. It's made from a blend of grapes commonly used for port wines that have more recently found their well-deserved place at the non-fortified, dry red wine table: 50% Tinta Barroca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 15% Touriga Franca and 15% Tinta Roriz.

DOW VALE DO BOMFIM 2011 DOURO

The nose is loaded with dark and red fruits, vibrant spice, beef jerky, a touch of cocoa and a light waft of floral perfume. Ripe red plum was the main fruit component we smelled and tasted (and loved!). The palate is sweet with ripe red fruits and silky tannins but it's not jammy and overdone. It's a great warm-weather red at it's not a monstrously big wine as far as body and acidity but has plenty to offer when paired with barbecued meats and burgers and other casual spring/summer fare.

WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "An elegant, medium-bodied red, with flavors of olive tapenade and dried red berry. Forest floor notes show on the sinewy finish. Drink now through 2018."

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Harmony in Wine, Family & Nature!

Carlin de Paolo is a family winery, already in its fourth generation. Started by their great-grandfather Paolo was an indefatigable worker, bent from the hard work carried out in the vineyards for many years. However he was always joyful, with his fist clenched as a sign of determination and always striding forward. The work of the soil, the love for the family, a life full of sacrifices, his trousers patched, and an open heart.

The best ingredient of a wine is the honesty of the producer.

Carlin de Paolo wines are four generations of grape growing and winemaking by the Ponte family of Piemonte. Jeancarlo and David, two brothers and the current winemakers, learned the trade from their father Franco, who learned it from his father Carlin, who learned from his father, Paolo, the man who started it all.

In the early 1910s Paolo, at the time a recently married young man, planted his first vines in the rolling hills of Asti, just before WWI. He had always dreamed of growing grapes and his dream was finally happening. Unfortunately for Paolo the war began and the Germans rolled their tanks through those hills and decimated his vines. But luckily his young family survived and he was able to plant again.

All seemed to be going well for a couple of decades. Paolo's estate began to grow in acreage and his young family was growing as well. His son Carlin was grown, now helping his father in the vineyards and starting a family of his own. But fate was not on the Ponte's side as WWII broke out and the Germans, yet again, rolled through the hills of Piemonte, destroying their land.

The family forged on and, once the smoke had cleared, put all of their money back into the land. Paolo, now an older man, continued to work the vines with his son Carlin, and now grandson Franco. And as they say, the third time's the charm. There was no WWIII so the Ponte estate grew and grew, and today they have acreage through Asti, Alba, Barolo and Barbaresco.

As an homage to their great-grandfather's unyielding spirit, Jeancarlo and David have depicted Paolo on the front of every bottle of their family's wines. In his ripped trousers and worn-in hat, Paolo marches through the grey muck of life with a clenched fist and open heart, resulting in the beautiful red soil of his land behind him.

CARLIN DE PAOLO 2013 ROSE BARBERA

Gorgeous salmon-colored rosé. The nose is filled with tropical fruits, mango, papaya, pineapple, a touch of minerality, floral notes and a hint of spice. Very lush. The palate continues the theme of lushness with excellent viscosity and richness; yet, this wine is very dry. The fresh, forward fruits give an illusion of sweetness while lending their flavors: nectarine, tangerine, wild cherries. Créme fraiche in the background, spring fruits in the finish with background musings of hibiscus and melon. Move over, south of France, there's a new contender in town. Perfect fit for the warm weather we've been having lately.

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CARLIN DE PAOLO 2012 PIEMONTE GRIGNOLINO

Tasted chilled. Very peppery and spicy in the nose with equal parts red berry and red plum. Hints of warmer brown baking spices in the background. Dry in the mouth, the fruit's brightness (red berries, razzberry, red plum) is exceedingly attractive and pleasurable, melded with notes of Italian hillside/garrique. Mid-palate flashes of sweetness lead to a mostly dry finish with excellent echoes of of the mixed red fruits from nose and palate. Rather refreshing having this one chilled and would definitely recommend for the hot months and casual meals.

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CARLIN DE PAOLO 2012 BARBERA D'ASTI

Notes of cherry/raspberry, dark spices and dark florals, cherry cola, vanilla, red licorice. Nice balance of fruits, slight earthiness and nice spice. The palate, again, is lush with mixed wild berries (blueberry, loganberry, raspberry) sending shoots of sweetness that are checked by excellent levels of tannin and acidity. Very harmonious, balanced wine. The mid-palate continues with mixed fruits and spices, sweetness tempered by structure, adding a touch of smoke, as the finish of berry fruits lasts and lasts.

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CARLIN DE PAOLO 2010 CISTERNA D'ASTI
100% CROATINA (BONARDA)

We finished our Carlin de Paolo mini-tasting of four wines with this 100% Croatina Cisterna d'Asti, and what a treat it was. Fans of Cabernet Sauvignon should give this one a try as the fruits and tannins of Cab have some similarities to Croatina (Bonarda). The nose is rich and sexy: earthy strawberry, wood, mixed brown spices, tea leaf. In the mouth, it's rounded and viscous (an excellent theme with Carlin de Paolo that we enjoyed); the solid fruit flavors of mixed red berries (both cherry and cranberry stood out), the excellent tannins kept the fruit from becoming heavy, leading to a mid-palate and finish that added blackberry, strawberries and a light earthy minerality.

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95 Point Spring White Under $15!

It's always a treat for us to taste Riesling-- but when they are this good, priced this low, it's stunning. For how expressive the grape can be, with the variety of textures, flavors and sweetness levels, from obscenely, unctuously laden types like eiswein to the bone-dry, rock-licking mineral monsters (tasty-not-scary monsters) found from the Riesling-friendly terroirs in the world, wines like this Pewsey Vale are special.

Quantities are very limited so don't hesitate to order. First come , first served.

PEWSEY VALE 2014 RIESLING

If you wonder what kinds of wines many of the Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine geek out about, you will definitely find Riesling on the short list (ask 'em!). The nose is well-laden with spring fruits tempered with a wee touch of diesel, as honeysuckle and apricot skins, minerality and lanolin help round out the expressive palette of scents. In the mouth, brilliant lush viscosity and flavors of white peach, apricot, river rock minerality and a touch of camphor, while remaining perfectly dry and ultimately uplifting on the palate, lead to a lenghty finish with stone fruit flavors that last and last.

JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "This is so dense and powerful with layers of dried white peach, green apple and lime. Minerals, too. Full-bodied and dry but bright, fruity, open and floral. Bold and upfront. Goes on for minutes. This is always a top riesling. Drink now."

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Butter Chardonnay is Back in the House!

Owners John and Michelle (JaM) Truchard have created quite a following in a relatively short amount of time. With the name of their wine label being called JaM, they employed the help of winemaker Rob Lloyd to produce a rich, jammy style of Cabernet (obvious tie-in). Well, that wine was a huge hit, and since Rob knew a thing or two about making Chardonnays, it only made sense that this white wine should be called "Butter".

This has become so popular with our crowd that it is now one of the top 3 selling Chardonnays’ in our store! And really…what’s not to love about it?!? Sourcing from several vineyards in key growing areas of California, Rob is able to carefully add a bit more fruit from one area if the wine needs a bit more acidity, or richness, or mid palate. In short, he’s able to keep the style of this wine consistent from year to year, with little or no variation!

JAM CELLARS 2014 "BUTTER" CHARDONNAY CALIFORNIA

Now, this was just bottled within the last few weeks, so it does need a bit of air to let its trademark aromas and flavors come out. As the name implies, this is a rich, buttery style of Chardonnay laced with aromas of baked lemons and mandarin oranges mingle with a hint of spice and smoke. The palate begins with crisp pineapple, bright citrus and ripe melon while a soft creaminess rounds out the finish. This Chardonnay is ready for immediate enjoyment and is suited to a wide variety of foods including white fish, smoked salmon and creamy pasta dishes.

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A 2010 Brunello That Will Blow You Away, Wine Advocate 98 Points!

The 2010 vintage marks an unprecedented year for Tuscany’s much beloved sangiovese-based red, Brunello di Montalcino. Winemakers, the wine press, and seasoned wine professionals unanimously agree that this is the Brunello vintage of a lifetime, even outclassing the outstanding 2006 and 1997 vintages.

The Wine Advocate’s Monica Larner writes of the 2010 vintage, “possibly reaching iconic status. Montalcino has some great wines in store for us and the barrel tasting I did while visiting estates was nothing short of exhilarating. Rest assured: The hype and the buzz … is not hyperbole. Many vintners I spoke with describe it as a ‘dream vintage."

"It really is a historical year that show such amazing character and intensity," says Giacomo Neri, the owner of Casanova di Neri, one of the legendary Brunello producers in modern times. "It's the best vintage I have experience in my winemaking career and I started making wine in the early 1980s."

At the Fuligni Estate, Maria Flora Fuligni, who has watched over the family estate for 50 vintages says, “These were the finest grapes I’ve ever seen.”

Located in the northern side of the Municipality of Montalcino and in the middle of the tourist itinerary of Val d'Orciain, this fine estate is run by the gifted Francesco Ripaccioli. The heart of the estate is 16 hectares of Brunello vines. The vines are in two different locations, which combine to add extra complexity to the family’s wine. 10 hectares are on clay soils at Canalicchio, to the north of the town, while six hectares are at Gode di Montosoli on rocky, galestro (schist) soil, giving added structure. Only vines which are over 20 years old are used for the family’s Brunello.

CANALICCHIO DI SOPRA 2010 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO

WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino will blow you away. This is a delightful expression that boasts its extreme quality from the minute the wine is poured from the bottle. As you should expect, it just gets better and better with each additional minute in the glass. It opens to a vibrant dark ruby color and blackish-garnet hues. The bouquet is ever changing and shows a long succession of aromatic characteristics that rage from dark fruit, plum, spice, leather, licorice, red rose, balsam and grilled herb. It's textbook Brunello from a great vintage and this side of the appellation (on the northeastern side) performs fantastically in 2010. This beauty should hold fifteen years or more."

JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "A ripe and rich intense wine with blackberry, plum and mineral character that goes to mushroom and peppermint. Full body, fine tannins and a juicy finish. So long and beautiful. Absolutely delicious now. But will be even better in three or four years."

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This is the Best Pinotage We Have Ever Tasted!

Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It is a viticultural cross of two varieties of the Vitis Vinifera varieties of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, which occurred in 1925. Cinsault was known as “Hermitage” in South Africa during that time, hence the Portmanteau name of Pinotage. Southern Right is a small Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc project created by Anthony Hamilton Russell in the cool, maritime, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation of South Africa. The wines are named after the rare Southern Right whales, which frequent the cool South Atlantic Walker Bay. Southern Right's aim was to produce a serious, age-worthy Pinotage combining a distinct South African grape variety with great flavor, classic styling and refinement.

Southern Right has elevated South Africa's red grape variety and is easily the best-selling Pinotage we carry at Hi-Time. In fact, this is the best Pinotage we have ever tasted! If you’ve been looking to try something new, this Pinotage is firing on all cylinders and is a great way to broaden your horizons! This wine is seriously dark in color, almost opaque. The complex nose includes essences of black cherry, toasty notes, spices, pekoe tea, and exotic purple flowers. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and extremely balanced with black cherry, black raspberry and a smoky minerality. There is excellent balance and persistence from the initial taste, continuing through the mid-palate and culminating in a very long finish.

SOUTHERN RIGHT 2013 PINOTAGE

WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2013 Pinotage had a relatively long hang time. There is clearly more intensity on the nose with focused black cherry and raspberry scents shooting from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, silky smooth in the mouth with wonderful acidity, crisp and focused with great tension and minerality (yes...even on a Pinotage!) toward the finish. This is about as good as this grape variety gets"

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A Fantastic Value 96 Points Under $20!

Dean Hewitson founded his winery after working and traveling extensively in the world of wine. He came to the realization that South Australia's strength lays in its very old vineyards, many of them dry-grown and planted in the 19th Century! As a result, he bought property among some of the oldest vineyards in the world in an area synonymous with Australian Shiraz, the Barossa Valley. Discovering the beauty within these venerable old vines to express their distinctive character is the essence of Hewitson.

Hewitson began producing the Ned & Henry bottling after a friend challenged him to produce a traditional, full-bodied Barossa Valley Shiraz-based wine, which could be drunk young with lunch or dinner. Hewitson agreed to make the wine, but would not stray from his fundamental philosophy of making wine with balance, fine grained tannins and a clear expression of fruit. Hewitson rose to the challenge and the result is a delicious, silky wine, which can be enjoyed now or over the next 5 years.

HEWITSON 2012 NED & HENRY

JAMES HALLIDAY 96 POINTS - " The grapes were grown on Barossa Valley terra rossa: oxidised iron red soils over limestone, and the wine was matured in used French oak. The vivid colour of the wine attests to its moderate alcohol, as does the joyful display of red and black fruits; the tannins are supple, the oak subtle but evident. Fantastic value."

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Three New Releases from Shafer Vineyards!

February was an exciting month for our California wine staff as they traveled to Napa Valley for the Premiere Napa Valley Auction. Their week was booked full of appointments meeting with Vintner after Vintner (tough job) tasting multiple vintages of Napa’s finest offerings. While there were many highlights and stories from the trip, our Buyers made a point to share in full detail how awesome the lineup was at the Shafer Winery. Every wine poured was nothing short of amazing and apparently the wine critics are liking the new releases as well because the scores are out!

To read more about the Premier Napa Valley Auction, read Dan Williams' firsthand
report on our blog!

SHAFER 2012 CABERNET SAUVIGNON "ONE POINT FIVE"
NAPA VALLEY

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - "The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon One Pint Five is a big-time winner, a blend of almost all Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The wine has an opaque bluish/purple color, almost indigo, and is full-bodied with dense chocolaty crème de cassis notes, licorice and a touch of minerality. The wine has well-integrated wood, is full and seems balanced and rich enough to age for two decades or more."

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SHAFER 2012 MERLOT NAPA VALLEY

ANTONIO GALLONI 91-93 POINTS - "The 2012 Merlot is a more typical Shafer wine than the 2011. Plums, dark berries, mocha, spices and new leather all flesh out in the glass. The style is juicy, exuberant and racy - all hallmarks of the year. The 2012 is 87% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Malbec."

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SHAFER 2013 CHARDONNAY NAPA VALLEY

ROBERT PARKER 94 POINTS - "The 2013 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch looks like one of their all-time greats, and to date they’ve all been very impressive wines. The crisp tangerine, honeyed citrus, pear and white peach notes are prominent in this beautifully fruited medium to full-bodied Chardonnay that shows additional orange marmalade notes in the mouth. It’s textured, crisp acid, from having not gone though malolactic, gives it focus and zest, and the overall impression is one of brilliant richness subtly touched by smoke, but letting the fruit dominate."

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Fantastic 21-year-old Zafra Master Reserve Rum: Only $44.99!

"From A to Zafra"-- this rum embodies the complete story of rum, from the harvest through the fermentation, distillation, aging and blending and finally the hands of the discerning consumer. While sometimes we tend to sip certain spirits at specific times of the year (for example, both rum and tequila are extremely enjoyable under a hot summer sun), more and more we find ourselves drinking and enjoying summery beverages during colder months. Perhaps this is with the intent of bringing a bit of light to the darker, colder climes (and who are we kidding-- we're in coastal California and haven't really ever experienced 'winter'), but really it's about wanting to taste the beauty that the sun ultimately started, in this case a few decades back in a sugar cane field somewhere in Panama.

We tried Zafra Master Reserve again recently at a product lineup (hey-- someone has to do it!) and it's really a fantastic 21-year-old rum for an excellent price (rum, in general, offers some of the best values in liquor when it comes to aged spirits; try and buy a 21-year-old anything else for under $50).

ZAFRA MASTER RESERVE 21YR PANAMA RUM

The Zafra 21 is the creation of a world-renowned master distiller/blender whose desire was to produce one of the finest rums from specially selected Panamanian stock-- we think they have succeeded marvelously. Zafra Master Reserve is 21 years old, delicate, sweet and intricately enjoyable. The nose reveals tea, mincemeat, moist dates, subtle notes of allspice, caramelized honey, soft wood spice, leather and tobacco. All of these aromas are demonstrated cleanly with incredible acumen on the palate and evolve to include: maple glazed brown bread, clove, cinnamon, butterscotch and nutmeg. The finish slides quickly away to show sweet leather, well-aged tobacco, dark wood and warming baking spices in a saporous residue that gently disappears. Enjoy this Rum neat or on ice.

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91-Point Intense, Rich, Full-Bodied Tuscan Red

You may recall, one of our sales staff discovered this wine last year while visiting the exquisite Relaisil Falconiere hotel and Michelin-rated restaurant located amongst the vineyards of the Baracchi estate in Tuscany.  Upon her return, we were able to track down the importer and bring the wine into the store where it was a tremendous hit with our customers.

The Baracchi estate has become the most prominent estate winery in Cortona, and one of the most recognized in Tuscany. Recent press has created a strong demand for Baracchi wines in the U.S. and solidified the brand’s position as one of the most sought after newcomers from Italy on the market.  Their latest release of the Baracchi O'Lillo red blend is another stunning wine, which offers delicious elegance, finesse and charm and pairs beautifully with a range of foods, including Italian favorites and meat dishes.

RICCARDO BARACCHI 2013 O'LILLO TOSCANA

JAMES SUCKLING 91 POINTS - "This is a very intense and rich with blackberry, dark chocolate, grilled meat and cherry flavors. Full body with ripe fruit and tannins. Layered and rich. Long finish. Merlot, Sangiovese, syrah and cabernet sauvignon. Drink now."

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Frédéric Esmonin: Consistent, High-Quality & Affordable Burgundies

Before 1988, Winemaker André Esmonin sold all his grapes to negociants such as Leroy and Louis Jadot. It was André's son, Frédéric, who pushed the family to domaine bottle their wines. The farming at this address is lutte raissonée, meaning use of chemical treatments is done only if the vineyards are threatened, and not as a matter of course. They regularly plow their soils, and herbicides have not been used for almost 15 years. When choosing to pick, they tend to err on the early side to avoid over-ripeness. The grapes are de-stemmed, and given a short, cold-maceration to get good color set, before letting the must rise to fermentation temperature. The use of oak is well-judged, and if anything, on the spare side, rarely showing its presence in the finished wine. They bottle early, delivering a dark, fresh fruit character, instead of relying on weight or concentration for palate impression. The end result are wines that gain an excellent, savory, meaty, Gevrey-character as they gain time in a bottle. Esmonin wines are routinely noted for their admirably long life-span.

FREDERIC ESMONIN 2013 BOURGOGNE ROUGE
HAUT CÔTES DE NUITS

Judicious use of oak, excellent concentration at every level and early bottling maintaining freshness make Esmonin's wines very attractive and finely structured red Burgundies. They are among the first Burgundies from each vintage to arrive on our shores and they are very reasonably priced considering the pedigree of the vineyard sources. Scents of mixed cherries, red rose and a touch of spicy earth fill the nose. The palate showcases more cherry (kriek lambic), black tea, minerality and excellent structure. The finish features extracted cherry and red berry fruit that lingers and flourishes.

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FREDRIC ESMONIN 2013 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN CLOS PRIEUR

BURGHOUND 88-91 POINTS - "Here the expressive nose mixes both upper and lower register fruit aromas that include both red and dark berry fruit scents along with hints of rose petal, earth, humus and soft spice elements. There is good verve and lovely detail to the middle weight flavors that are supported by relatively fine tannins on the firm, delicious and balanced finish. This is very Gevrey in basic character but not rustic. A fine villages."

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FREDRIC ESMONIN 2013 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN VV JOUISES

Esmonin is becoming one of the most consistent, high quality producers in Gevrey. They are now using a new bladder-press and have excellent control over the amount of pressure exerted on the grapes, which are picked only when they have reached ideal ripeness. After a short cold maceration gives the wines an extra dimension of fruit, they are aged in carefully selected French oak barrels of Allier and Nevers forest wood made by Radoux and Berthomieu, two of the very best coopers. Wines are aged in barrels of varying age and toast and then blended in order to achieve optimum balance and complexity.  The nose showcases ripe, spicy cherry fruit, pomegranate, light spice and extracted fruit leather.  In the mouth, sweet cherry and red berry fruit abounds, balanced by subtle yet forward acidity, brisk tannins and a layer of minerality.  Elegant yet powerful and beautifully structured.  Dark spices, strawberry tea and red plums lend harmony to the extended finish.

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FREDERIC ESMONIN 2013 GEVREY CHAMBERTIN ESTOURNELLES SAINT JACQUES 1ER CRU

BURGHOUND 90-93 POINTS "OUTSTANDING, TOP VALUE" - "Here too there is just enough wood present to warrant noting though it does not impinge on the otherwise wonderfully elegant, pure and airy blue pinot fruit, violet, plum and soft earth scents. There is a lovely vibrancy and ample minerality to the intense yet seductively detailed flavors that are underpinned by moderately firm tannins on the balanced and strikingly persistent finale. This is lovely and textbook ESJ as it's a wine of finesse and refinement." Limited availability.

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FREDERIC ESMONIN 2013 MAZI CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU

BURGHOUND 91-93 POINTS - "Subtle but not invisible wood sets off the less elegant but more complex nose that is composed of intensely sauvage aromas that display plenty of earth, humus and underbrush influences on the mostly dark currant fruit. There is excellent volume and punch to the more imposingly scaled flavors that display almost as much minerality and a good deal more power though nowhere close to the same refinement. Still this should ultimately be the better wine as there is slightly better underlying material." Limited availability.

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RUCHOTTES CHAMBERTIN 2013 FREDERIC ESMONIN
GRAND CRU

BURGHOUND 91-94 POINTS - "A pungent nose of wood toast and reduction render it difficult to evaluate today. There is impressive size, weight and volume to the mineral-inflected and serious medium-bodied flavors that possess good cut on the notably persistent finish. Despite the firm core of tannins this is quite rich, indeed to the point that it should be approachable, and enjoyable, on the younger side if desired." Limited availability.

$132.99 750ml [324201] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button
See additional informational coverage about Esmonin on our blog: http://www.hitimeblog.net

Spanish Tempranillo: Hot Hot Hot!

Quinta Milú is the personal project of the winemaker Germán R. Blanco in Ribera del Duero, Spain; a project on a small scale that aspires to produce wines that transmit the location they come from, a small town called La Aguilera, situated in the province of Burgos in the northeast of Spain.

From old Tempranillo vines, cultivated in a traditional way with utmost respect for their natural environment, they "...work vine-to-vine with micro-fermentations in each cask, keeping our presence to a minimum. We have revived some of the traditional practices such as treading the grapes, as we like our wines to best express themselves, letting matters take their course." The wines are aged in different types and sizes of casks and barrels, made from a variety of woods. No two vintages are the same, and of course no two wines are the same in their lineup.

Quinta Milú 2013 Ribera Del Duero

Milú leads with a heady, perfumed nose of red fruits, plums and salted raspberries, spice, sweet black cherry and rose petal. Deliciously pure with classic Tempranillo flavors of ripe cherries, black berries with hints of coffee and tobacco. Faint sweetness, not from sugar, but from the fruitiness. Well-structured with persisting tannins, but juicy and smooth as well. Brilliant earthiness, slightly Rhôneish with a touch of Bordeaux dust, streaks throughout this wine with further notes of rich dark and brown spices and bramble. This versatile wine will pair with roasted vegetables, roasted cured meats (jamón, naturally), tomato-based (lasagna, pizza) or Mexican cuisines (carne asada, carnitas). Tempranillo thrives in the Ribera Del Duero-- hot (hot hot!) temperatures with lots of sunshine for color and thick skins paired with a bit of altitude to make the vines work and condense all those flavors. With the right conditions and work in the vineyard, the magic in the grapes translates to the bottle-- and Mr. Blanco nailed it with this one.

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Moutard's Fascinating Champagne Made From Arbanne!

While researching our recent profile of the L. Aubry Fils “Le Nombre D’Or Campaneae Veteres Vites" which features four grapes (Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Fromemteau and Pinot Blanc) that were all but wiped out by the 19th Century phylloxera plague in Champagne, we came upon mention of a Champagne by Moutard that was made entirely from Arbanne. Arbanne is a fascinating varietal not unlike Grüner Veltliner and it has a long history of cultivation in the southern part of the Champagne region but its present plantings total a mere five acres.  Of course we had to immediately get hold of it.  With much of Champagne beautifully dominated by the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes (and no complaints here, mind you), it's bottlings like this that will set any Champagne geek's heart atwitter with the scintillating chance for the novel, unique and hopefully (definitely in this case), delicious.

MOUTARD 2008 CEPAGE ARBANNE VIELLIES VIGNES

This 2008 was made from 60-year-old vines, fermented entirely in stainless steel and was aged four years on the lees before being disgorged in January of 2014. Thought-provoking and compelling, this Moutard is like no sparkler we have had, as it exhibits an exotic flavor profile that is somewhat akin to Vouvray combined with the structure and delineation that could only spring from Champagne. At first whiff, notes of polenta emerge followed by fragrances of white flowers, quince and damp chalk. Its dense yet sleek Chenin-Blanc-like fruit (think Bosc pears) makes a pleasing initial impression and is quickly elaborated with hints of river stones and key lime while its racy finish morphs to deliver enduring red grapefruit impressions. As we sipped this fascinating bubbly we couldn’t help but wonder how much more diverse and interesting Champagne would be if the region’s heirloom grapes were in wider production.

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Great Scores for Seghesio Zinfandels!!!

The Seghesio wines seem to always light up our mouths with a combination of great flavors that you just don’t get in many other Zinfandels. They have established quite a consistent track record for high scores on their wines! More recent rendition of Seghesio’s Zinfandels have earned places on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines list, and if the current releases and scores are any indications, they are a shoe-in to make it on this list for 2015!

Seghesio Family Vineyards was established in 1895 when Italian immigrant and winemaker Edoardo Seghesio planted his first Zinfandel vineyard in what is now Seghesio’s Home Ranch Vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Edoardo and his wife Angela continued to tend their vineyards through Prohibition and were one of approximately 100 wineries to survive that era. Post-prohibition, Seghesio was a key supplier of grapes and bulk wine to large California wineries.

The modern era saw fourth generation family member Ted Seghesio make the first wines under the Seghesio label. Under Ted’s, and his cousin Pete Seghesio’s leadership and guidance, Seghesio Family Vineyards has become renowned for exceptional Zinfandels and Italian varietals. In 2011 Seghesio Family Vineyards joined Crimson Wine Group. Today, in addition to Ted as winemaker and Pete as Ambassador, several members of the Seghesio family hold positions, both in the vineyards and winery including fifth generation family member Ned Neumiller who serves as Seghesio’s Grower Relations & Viticulture Manager.

SEGHESIO 2013 ZINFANDEL SONOMA COUNTY

WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS!  -  "A lively, zesty red that offers bright cherry and tarragon aromas and sleekly layered flavors of briary raspberry, nutmeg and fresh-cracked black pepper. Drink now through 2021."

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SEGHESIO 2012 “OLD VINE” ZINFANDEL SONOMA

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS! - "A winning combination of rustic richness and sleek balance. Aromas of briary wild berry and spicy mocha lead to dense, layered flavors of black cherry, grilled anise and pepper. Drink now through 2022."

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St. George Spirits: Vodka is back!

It’s true! St. George Spirits, those crazy artisan distillers up in Alameda, CA, who started making incredible distillates all the way back in 1982, are making vodka again! Here is their new vodka lineup: All Purpose Vodka,  California Citrus Vodka and Green Chile Vodka.

To make these three vodkas, they distill fresh produce and fruit on copper stills using the same artisanal methods relied upon to make their flagship brandies and fruit liqueurs. Combining these distillates with a non-GMO base spirit results in three unique spirits that stand proudly among the rest of the St. George portfolio.

ST. GEORGE ALL PURPOSE VODKA

The name says it all! St. George All Purpose Vodka is the perfect building block for your favorite vodka cocktails.

Bartlett pears (yes, pears) are the secret here. Why? Thirty-three years of distilling Bartlett pears has shown them just what this gorgeous fruit is capable of—especially when put through their Holstein stills.

Using the same flavorful and aromatic pears here as in their flagship pear brandy makes perfect sense, delivering a spirit with no overt pear flavor but with substantial body and subtle floral notes—and creating a vodka that is uniquely St. George.

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ST. GEORGE CALIFORNIA CITRUS VODKA

This zesty and mouthwatering vodka is made from real California-grown Valencia oranges, Seville oranges, and bergamot. The result is a spirit that’s beautifully aromatic and full of fresh citrus flavor. They source the best citrus fruit they can find, which happens to be from Lindcove Ranch, a family farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. They have sourced fruit from farmer John Kirkpatrick and his family for the last 12 years.

When they receive fresh citrus fruit from Lindcove Ranch, they infuse the Valencia orange, Seville orange, and bergamot peels separately into a non-GMO base spirit. They then distill each infusion separately, blend all three distillates together, then filter the resulting vodka to remove visible impurities before bottling.

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ST. GEORGE GREEN CHILE VODKA

This vodka is made from a variety of California-grown hot and sweet peppers (jalapenos, Serranos, habaneros, red and yellow bell peppers) that build layers of sweet, savory heat. Lime peel and fresh cilantro add even more vibrancy and depth of flavor.

To make this Green Chile Vodka, they fill the 1,500-liter still with crushed jalapeno peppers, lime peel, and a non-GMO base spirit and distill this through a Carter head assembly that has been layered with fresh cilantro.

They infuse the other four types of peppers (Serrano, habanero, red and yellow sweet bell peppers) separately, and then blend each infusion with the distillate of jalapenos, lime, and cilantro. Filtration then removes visible impurities before bottling—the light green tint that remains is the result of the pepper infusion performed just prior to the filtering.

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Perfect Hot Weather, 90-Point Weekend White Wine

When the weather gets hot, it's time for chilled white wine and we've got a great one for you-- it's unoaked, full of intense fruit and perfect on its own or with savory cheeses or seafood dishes. The nose is quite attractive with spicy floral and green herb aromas and the finish is clean and brisk with good acidity throughout. Grenache Gris grapes are pinkish and are mutations of the not-too-genetically-stable Grenache (red) grapes. Grenache (blanc) is another mutation. They are generally hearty grapes that thrive in warm climates (like the south of France) and wines made from them can be quite good without costing a fortune. When it heats up, having an unoaked (something not too heavy on the palate) white wine is refreshing and it tends to go with hot weather meals. In any case, at under 12 bucks, this is awesome juice.

LE CIRQUE 2012 GRENACHE GRIS

eROBERT PARKER 90 POINTS - "Among the exciting and satisfying things about the Le Cirque’s wines is the skill with which they showcase unblended renditions of what is arguably Roussillon’s preeminent (of by no means in acreage) white wine grape, and their 2012 Grenache Gris does not break this label’s winning streak. Musk and lime, pineapple and resinous herbs inform the nose as well as an oily palate leading to a finish that positively glows, its incisive bite of white pepper and persistently tactile impingement of rosemary helping to leave the mouth invigorated and anxious to take the next sip. The vaguely animal side of Grenache Gris emerges to greater prominence as this sensational value opens to the air, and I would expect fascination and versatility through at least 2015, though the track-record so far doesn’t tell us when this particular bottling from Le Cirque might fade."

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Great Value Play Mendoza Malbec Under $10.00!

The history of Nieto Senetiner Winery dates back to 1888, when Italian immigrants founded it and grew the first vineyards in Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo, province of Mendoza. Over the first decades of the last century, the winery was run by several families who succeeded in passing on the secret of fine winemaking and the love for their land.

In 1969, it was acquired by the families Nieto and Senetiner, who expanded the facilities, signalling the beginning of a new stage of growth and brand development. In 1998, it became part of the Grupo de Negocios de Molinos Río de la Plata.

Loyal to their wines' quality and the importance of terroir, Nieto Senetiner has 400 hectares of vineyards in three Estates (Fincas), all situated in the Lujan de Cuyo area, but in different valleys presenting different features. In these Estates, high quality grapes are produced, resulting in exceptional wines.

NIETO SENETINER 2013 "CAMILA" MALBEC
MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
This is a great value play wine-- don't let the reasonable price fool you; it drinks way above its price niveau. We're suckers for Mendoza Malbecs and this one saw us coming and reeled us in. The perfumed nose of dark blue and red fruits mixed with midnight florals and piquant spices with maybe a touch of vanilla chai, caught us first. Sensual, rich, enveloping. And on the lips, heaven! Sweet plum and red berry fruits paired with a voluptuous mouthfeel lead to mid-palate tones of spice, cedar and a touch of sweet burley tobacco. Excellent acidity and forward tannins keep the structure firm and focused. The finish is elongated with fruits and spices echoing around the mouth for minutes and minutes.
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New Releases from Calera!

After tasting the best Pinot Noir produced in the world (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti), winemaker Josh Jensen scoured the California coast to find limestone soils (like they have in Burgundy) mixed with the right climate. He found an old limestone quarry perfectly suited to his needs. Since that point in time, Josh has fashioned some of the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays you can find in California.

 

CALERA 2013 CHARDONNAY MT. HARLAN

ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "Almonds, tangerine, apricot pit and smoke meld together in the 2013 Chardonnay Mount Harlan. The flavors are bold, intense and racy, but there is plenty of underlying energy and tension in support. The 2013 spent ten months in French oak barrels, 30% new."

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CALERA 2012 PINOT NOIR MT. HARLAN "RYAN"

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Tightly wound, with a firm mix of snappy dark berry, gravel, cedar and limestone, featuring fine-grained tannins that keep the flavors on the palate, giving them traction and persistence. Needs time. Best from 2016 through 2026. 1,875 cases made."

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CALERA 2012 PINOT NOIR MT. HARLAN "DE VILLIERS"

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Aromas of ripe dark berry, limestone, underbrush and gravel make for a compelling drink that's not shy about tannins, providing grip midpalate and holding on tenaciously. Best from 2016 through 2024. 1,616 cases made."

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Crazy Pricing on a Classic California Sparkler!

On a picture perfect June day last year we paid a leisurely visit to Gloria Ferrer one of California’s true pacesetting sparkling wine houses. Established in 1986 and situated in Sonoma’s Carneros region, the firm was the first to plant Champagne clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the area. On that day we were treated to a tasting of Gloria Ferrer’s extensive line-up while enjoying a view of their expansive (300 plus acres) vineyard holdings from the winery’s Vista Terrace. Not surprisingly the firm’s seventy dollar Carneros Cuvee was the favorite, but it was this Blanc de Noirs that stole the show when value was factored into consideration. We didn’t know it at the time that the winery had a Blanc de Noirs with a newly designed label waiting in the wings. Nor did we imagine that in order speed the debut of this new label into the market place the Blanc de Noirs that so impressed us on the tasting room terrace was going be “closed out” at a laughably low price. Of course, stranger things have happened, but only very rarely so we urge you to take advantage this amazing opportunity while supplies last.

 

GLORIA FERRER BLANC DE NOIRS

WINE SPECTATOR 88 POINTS - "Creamy raspberry and spicy red apple aromas lead to crisp yet succulent cherry and graham cracker flavors. One of the most consistent values in California sparkling wine. Drink now.  19,600 cases made." - Tim Fish 10/13.

We compared this bottling to the new label and found the wines to be remarkably similar.  We gave this older edition a slight edge due its more fragrant bouquet and slightly creamer palate, attributes, no doubt, derived from its additional 18 months of aging on the cork.

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We Were All in from the First Sip!

We had a chance to taste the Vatan Toro 2012 a full five months before it landed in America—the label was a mock-up printed on Jorge’s home computer, but the wine was undeniable. With only 500cs made, we were all in from the first sip. The make-up of Vatan is truly “Jorge”—the dirt comes first as Jorge discovered a small plot covering 14 acres of austere old vines then slowly worked to make the wine around the site. Vine ages range from 72 – 105 with yields of 0.45 tons/acre for the 2012 vintage. The Toro region built its reputation with a power and depth unlike any other Tempranillo-based wine. The Vatan is upfront and hedonistic for sure, but it is Vatan’s “excellent clarity and vibrancy,” it’s pretty perfumes, fine-grained tannin, surprising layers, that make it so much more than a one-note fruit bomb. Call it hedonism at its best. Delicious.

BODEGAS JORGE ORDONEZ S.L. VATAN 2012

VINOUS MEDIA (ANTONIO GALLONI) 93 POINTS - (made from fruit grown in a single vineyard that was reportedly planted in 1910 and 1943; malo and 22 months of aging in new French oak): Inky ruby. Bright red fruits and spicecake on the highly perfumed nose, with sexy incense and floral notes adding nuance. Deep, sweet and energetic, boasting excellent clarity and vibrancy to its blackberry and bitter cherry flavors. Silky tannins build on the long, pliant, scented finish, which features powerful dark fruit preserve and violet pastille qualities.

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Hartford Family Winery: Impressive Wines from Russian River AVA

Robert Parker has commented that "Hartford Family Winery is one of the most impressively run wineries in the Russian River AVA."  Why is that?  Because Don Hartford knows how to find the right spots for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and knows how to coax the most out of those berries!

The Hartford wines have received VERY high scores in the past few years; scores as high as 97 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.  Recently, we went through much of the lineup, and to say that we were completely floored by this current offering would be an understatement.  We are fortunate to taste a large number of wines here at Hi-Time, but it’s not often that the entire lineup from one winery really makes us “sit up straight and pay attention--" these Hartford wines did just that!

That being said, here’s a list of some of the standout wines from that recent tasting.  Some of these wines are extremely limited, so you might not want to hesitate! Read more about Hartford on our blog: hitimeblog.net.

HARTFORD 2013 CHARDONNAY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

One taste of this Chardonnay, and we were hooked!  This Russian River Valley Chardonnay comes from a collection of small vineyards located throughout the Russian River Valley AVA.  These vineyards are a combination of Hartford Court's estate properties such as Fog Dance, Arrendell and Bloomfield, as well as a handful of neighboring vineyards located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. The sites express the essence of the Russian River Valley by showcasing the best of the sub-regions within this world class AVA.  Aged for 9 months in French oak barrels, the 2013 Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay offers subtle aromas of jasmine flower, citrus oil, ripe apple and pear.  The elegant aromatics are complemented by fresh kiwi, lemon drop and Pippin apple flavors.  The fruit-focused mid-palate is followed by subtle mineral notes and a hint of crystallized ginger in the finish.

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HARTFORD 2013 CHARDONNAY “FOUR HEARTS”
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

ROBERT PARKER 93 POINTS – “From the Laguna Ridge sub-region of Russian River, the bottled 2013 Chardonnay Four Hearts Vineyard (1,200 cases made) is fashioned from such older Chardonnay clones as the Wente, Sees and Rued. It displays tremendous acidity, wonderful ripeness, a leaner, and a more premier cru Chablis-like style than the Three Jacks and Stone Cote cuvées. It should drink well for 5-7 years."

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HARTFORD 2012 PINOT NOIR RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

It’s hard to find a better Russian River Valley Pinot Noir for the money than this one right here!  This bottling is a mélange of fruit from several key and distinct vineyards from across the valley.  In fact, much of this wine is comprised of barrels from their single-vineyard program!  Aromas of blackberries, boysenberry, nutmeg and smoke are followed by flavors of Bing cherries, wild raspberries, roasted plum and allspice. A compelling & dense entry followed by a sweet and juicy mouthfeel is supported by balanced acidity, fine grain tannins and an intriguingly, complex finish.

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HARTFORD 2012 PINOT NOIR “HAILEY’S” SONOMA COAST

ROBERT PARKER 96 POINTS – “The 2012 Pinot Noir Hailey’s Block comes from a cold, windy area in Green Valley. In reality, it is a sub-portion of the Arrendell Vineyard. The wine, which sees 44% new French oak, possesses stunning intensity as well as notes of spring flowers, raspberries, wild strawberries and sweet black cherries, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a broad, savory richness. Drink 2015-2025."

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HARTFORD 2012 ZINFANDEL “OLD VINE”
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY

ROBERT PARKER 91 POINTS – “The 2012 Zinfandel Russian River, their largest production cuvee (over 2,500 cases), was aged in 20% new French oak for nine months, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. It tips the scales at 15% alcohol. It exhibits an opaque blue/purple color along with plenty of briery, berry fruit intermixed with hints of incense, Christmas fruitcake and spice. This exuberant, richly fruity, full-bodied Zin can be drunk over the next 4-5 years.”

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Château Font du Loup Châteauneuf-du-Pape!

Located at one of the highest points in Châteaneuf-du-Pape, Château Font du Loup, which translates to 'fountain of the wolves', is named after the natural springs in the area where the wolves would come to drink on their way to the planes. There is even a statue of a wolf drinking from their fountain right in the courtyard in front of the Château. Font du Loup has been in the Melia family since 1942 and is now run by the extremely charming Anne Charlotte Melia-Bachas with her husband and the help of consultant Philippe Cambie. Standing in the vineyard outside the château, the Mistral (the famous wind of the Rhône Valley) is strong enough to knock you over. Font du Loup has roughly 50 acres (organically farmed), including holdings in the La Crau and Font du Loup vineyards, and is planted on mostly sandy soil with vines that reach 100 years old.

Whether it's a great score or a great story you're looking for in a wine, Font Du Loup delivers on both accounts. The wines are made in an elegant, pure, pretty style and are as warm and inviting as the good folks making and selling them. Read more about Font du Loup on our blog: hitimeblog.net.

CHÂTEAU FONT DU LOUP 2013 CÔTES DU RHÔNE

The 2013 Côtes du Rhône from Font du Loup is medium ruby in color. Red and black fruits greet the nose along with lavender floral notes. On the palate, the wine is dry, medium-bodied and fresh with silky smooth tannins. Black cherry liqueur, ripe black plum and black raspberry flavors linger in this satisfying Southern Rhône blend, which exhibits considerable elegance and finesse.

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CHÂTEAU FONT DU LOUP 2012 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE

ROBERT PARKER 92 POINTS - "Font du Loup’s 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a gorgeous blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault that’s almost all from the sandy plots in the La Crau lieu-dit. Aged 18 months in foudre, it exhibits notions of kirsch, dusty soils, garrigue and dried flowers in its medium-bodied, elegant, seamless and decidedly polished, feminine style. Showing the silky tannin that’s common from sandy soils, this beauty will dish out loads of pleasure through 2022."

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CHÂTEAU FONT DU LOUP 2012 CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE
PUY
ROLLAND GRENACHE 100-YEAR-OLD VINES

ROBERT PARKER 93 POINTS - "Coming from the eastern part of La Crau (more toward Vieux Telegraph) and 100-year-old Grenache vines, the 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Le Puy Rolland was completely destemmed and brought up all in foudre. It boasts thrilling notes of kirsch, orange blossom, dried flowers, sea breeze and dusty soil on the nose. This is followed by a medium to full-bodied wine that has beautiful concentration, ultra-fine tannin and a seamless, silky texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. Given its overall polish and balance, it’s a joy to drink even now, yet should hit its stride in another 2-4 years and have 15+ years of overall longevity."

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A Wonderful Italian Riserva!

Located in the most obscure Italian region of all, Molise, Casa Contini is from the Eastern coast of Central Italy, in a place so remote, that in a country the size of California, only 1 in 100 Italians have been there. Casa Contini is a spectacular vineyard site (with a small house) owned for three generations by the Botter family. Luca is in the wine bottling business, and is one of the most successful in the country, but he also owns this quirky patch of land that produces amazing, varietally classic fruit. Moreover, he ages the wine in large oak barrels for several years, gently and patiently imparting soft tannic structure into the wine. The result? A Riserva that is immensely pleasing, ready to drink immediately, and a remarkable value.

CASA CONTINI 2009 BIFERNO RISERVA

This Southern Italian blend is wonderfully smooth and balanced. Made from two of our favorite “underrated” varietals, Montepulciano and Aglianico, Casa Contini’s Biferno Riserva is atypical of many of its ungainly Southern counterparts, whose alcohol tends to be too hot, and fruits overripe. Rather, it is like a Northern Italian in its cool smoothness, with a smoky blackberry, chestnut, and peppery-sweet aroma that delights the senses. With further aeration, this wine opens up even more, revealing dark and ripe, red plums, dark spices, Italian hillside (scrub brush-- Italian 'garrique'), sweet tobacco and cola berry. Perhaps even better than the interplay between sweet fruits, spices and earthiness in the mouth-- which is heavenly-- is the impeccable balance. The fruit is perfectly ripe, not overly so, and matched by firm-yet-silky tannins and light acidity. Mid-palate red and black plums and strawberry tea flavors lead to a lengthy, tasty finish. Enjoy with pot roast, chicken and rice, cheeses and charcuterie, light game, grilled sausages. Bellissimo!

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A Delicious and Affordable Wine of the Month!

The burgeoning spring, beginning the 20th of this month, will see the seeds and shoots of new growth as the cycle of life begins again. Is there a better time, we thought, to feature a fresh, clean, unoaked Chardonnay than now? Well, to be honest, we didn't think that at all. We happened to taste this wine in January and were collectively blown away at how delicious, varietally correct and affordably priced this Jackhammer was and is. We've featured their delicious Pinot Noirs many times before (for much the same reason as this Chard-- delicious, varietally correct, affordably priced) so we were pleasantly not surprised to experience how good this wine is.

Really? You may ask; ever-ubiquitous Chardonnay, the chameleon that can taste like a panoply of flavors, textures and techniques (depending on vintner practice and manipulation)? Yes, we respond, while Chardonnay can run the gamut from oaky butterball to rock-licking minerality, and every great (and not-so-great) degree in between-- when a Chardonnay hits the target, rings the bell, hits it out of the yard, it is a thing of beauty; and that's what this Chardonnay is.

The secret (or not-so-secret) is in the vineyard and the harvest. Here's what the Jackhammer team says: "The grapes for this wine were harvested through all of October from two vineyards, Spanish Springs in San Luis Obispo, and Kirsty's Vineyard in Monterey. These cool-climate growing regions provide high natural acidity. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and did not go through malolactic fermentation. 2013 was a very dry year with a lower rain fall winter preceding the growing season. The vintage was warmer than average with a little heat in late August... but other than that it was perfect weather during harvest: consistent temperatures of around 78 degrees, clear skies for the entire harvests. One of the best harvests in quite a while."

JACK HAMMER 2013 CHARDONNAY CENTRAL COAST

Our notes: ...on the nose, notes of pear, lemon grass, lanolin and river water. Mixed tropical fruits. The palate starts lush with nice viscosity but an excellent layer of acidity keeps it light and lean. Flavors: more tropical fruits, lemon zest, white peach with a touch of cream soda, minerality in the finish. Lovely wine, killer value. Enjoy solo (we did!) or with white fish, grilled shrimp, sushi, tilapia tacos.

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Delicious Wines from a Historical Italian Family!

1913 marked the inaugural vintage for Luigi Minuto thus forming Cascina Luisin. This set up the Minuto family to become one of the oldest wine making families in Barbaresco. Not only are they one of the oldest, but they were the first to bottle and sell wine on a commercial level in the early 1930s. It is important to remember that unlike other regions in Italy, Piedmont has a very short history with quality wine making. Post WWII gave rise to the quality we have come to expect from the Barbaresco and Barolo. The names Minuto and Gaja are the first brought up when discussing the historical producers who paved the way.

Today Luigi’s great grandson, Luigi, who is now in his 70’s continues on the family winemaking tradition with his son Roberto. Roberto is 7th generation to make wine, the 4th to live under the same roof to which the winery is attached by a small patio that looks out over the Rabajà vineyard. The family philosophy is meticulous vineyard care and they hold great respect for upholding traditional winemaking practices in the winery.

The wines of Cascina Luisin are well known for their accessibility in their youth with great core fruit that holds up well and evolves with age.

CASCINA LUISIN 2012 BARBERA D'ALBA 'MAGGIUR

Maggiur lies within the greater Asili vineyard. It is indisputably one of the greatest. Maggiur receives more hours of sunshine than any other location in the vineyard leading to greater ripeness and maturity in the finished wine. It is nothing short of a miracle that these vines, planted by Robert’s grandfather almost 60 years ago, have not been grubbed up and replanted to Nebbiolo.

The wine is fermented in stainless steel then aged in a mixture of barrique and tonneaux for a total of 12 months. The wine is full of exuberant red fruit. Fresh raspberries and chocolate covered bing cherries harmoniously mingle with a slight vanilla spice of oak and the flowery freshness we expect from Barbera.

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CASCINA LUISIN 2012 NEBBIOLO D'ALBA 'MAGGIUR

These 80 year old vines are planted next to the Barbera in Asili. Being less than 50 meters from the boundary line of Barbaresco you get an incredible “bang for your buck” with this wine.

Fermentation in cement tanks softens the wine and allows for a more gentle extraction of tannins while lending a unique texture. The wine is then aged in tonneaux for 12 months. The wine is a shining example of Nebbiolo. Bright and fresh with notes of sweet tar and rose petals opening to reveal cassis and spice.

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CASCINA LUISIN 2010 'RABAJA' BARBARESCO

The Rabajà vineyard is with out a doubt the most historically significant vineyard with the most prestige in all of Barbaresco. The vineyard faces west towards the Rio Tanaro. This is literally the Minuto’s backyard.

Cascina Luisin harvests just one hectare of the clay rich Rabajà. Yielding just around 350 cases per vintage. The wine spends 20 days in cement during primary fermentation then is transferred to large format barrels ranging in size between 20-50 hl. This wine is known for its great elegance and austerity of classic Nebbiolo displaying delicate fruit and age worthy tannins.

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CASCINA LUISIN 2010 'SORI PAOLIN' BARBARESCO

Sori Paolin is the best plot within the Basarin Vineyard. A steep, sandy south facing vineyard. In comparison to Rabajà, Sori Paolin has much richer and deeper core fruit with a slightly heavier tannic structure.

Sori Paolin is made exactly the same as Rabajà. Primary fermentation takes place over the course of about 20 days, then the wine is laid to rest in oak for two years.

$54.95 750ml [302504] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

Head-Turning Spanish Beauty—Tarima Hill 91WS, 91RP, 92Tanzer!

After nearly than 30 years of importing Spanish wines to the US, Jorge Ordoñez knows a promising vineyard when he sees one—he is a rare talent who has grown from a taster and curator of other producers, to a terroir-hound, who hunts and buys his own vineyards across Spain. In 2003 Jorge began buying old-vine Monastrell vineyards in Alicante for the Tarima/Tarima Hill estate. The soils are an austere mix of limestone and sand. Spain’s vineyards are often planted at elevation, producing wide swings of temperature from day to night. In Alicante, that temperature swing can be as much as 60°F—a rare combination that both deepens ripeness and preserves freshness and acidity in the finished wine. In short, Alicante is a dramatic place to grow grapes and it shows in the concentration and power of the wines. Jorge’s first release of Tarima Hill, 2009, scored 92 points from Robert Parker, followed shortly by a 93 point effort for the 2010. For our palates, the 2012 Tarima Hill Monastrell is the best yet—we like Josh Reynold’s notes about “Indian Spices and candied violet” as there is exotic prettiness in this vintage of Tarima Hill that adds beauty and delicacy alongside all the weighty black-fruit and sumptuous power. Stunning.

TARIMA HILL 2012 OLD VINE MONASTREL

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS 'SMART BUY' - “Rich yet harmonious, this polished red delivers a core of black cherry and cassis, framed with smoke, mineral, licorice and espresso notes. Juicy acidity and well-integrated tannins lend structure. In the modern style. Drink now through 2022. 10,000 cases made.”

ROBERT PARKER 91 POINTS - “The outstanding 2012 Tarima Hill is 100% old-vine Mourvèdre from a vineyard planted between 1935 and 1970, whose vines are largely ungrafted. It was aged 20 months in French oak. This is a beautifully balanced wine revealing lots of blueberry liqueur, dark raspberries, cherries, a chalky minerality, full body, a big, substantial mouthfeel, and a meaty texture. Drink now-2019”

STEPHAN TANZER'S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR 92 POINTS - “Opaque ruby. Heady, seductively perfumed aromas of dark berry liqueur, cherry-cola, Indian spices, and candied violet, with a smoky mineral nuance adding vivacity. Sweet, penetrating and seamless on the palate, offering intense black raspberry and mocha flavors underscored by juicy acidity. At once rich and energetic, finishing with strong thrust, supple tannins and a whiplash of floral pastilles.” 92 points, Josh Reynolds, Stephan Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.

$12.99 750ml [380124] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

TRIGA, Spanish Super-Star in its Second Appearance on the World Stage!

Legendary Australian Winemaker Chris Ringland and partner Jorge Ordonez have set out to make explosive, rarified bottlings twice before, with Alto Moncayo & El Nido “Clio.” Triga is the newest of these partnerships, this time centered on a local partnership with Tarima/Tarima Hill in Alicante, Spain. The blend is very similar to the early bottlings of El Nido “Clio,” made primarily of extremely low-yielding Monastrell (aka Mourvedre), from mountainside vineyards (the oldest planted in 1925), with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon added to the blend (planted in 1981). Triga is the hedonistic luscious masterpiece that fans of Alto Moncayo and El Nido “Clio” would expect. Look for an inky, purple black color; ripe blueberry and liqueur-like blackberry fruit complimented by a range of exotic spices. Triga overflows with richness and power, but the vineyard sits on a mountain of fossilized chalk. This limestone influence shows with added minerality and a vibrant, red currant-like raciness underlying the fruit. The Triga has not been scored yet by Wine Spectator, but we’re quite sure it will score as big as it did with last years inaugural release (94 Points). Josh Reynolds at Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, on the other hand, has jumped on the new release of Triga with a score of 93 points!

BODEGAS VOLVER 2012 TRIGA

STEPHEN TANZER'S INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR 93 POINTS - "Inky ruby. An exotically perfumed bouquet evokes fresh black and blue fruits, incense, potpourri, and five spice powder. Stains the palate with intense boysenberry and cherry compote flavors, given spine and lift by a zesty mineral nuance. Densely packed yet lithe, finishing with outstanding thrust and smooth tannins that build slowly."

$34.99 750ml [382919] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

Rock Garden Syrah Returns; Our Best Wine of the Month Ever!!!!

When we first sat down with Mac Myers, the winemaker at Barrel 27 and McPrice Myers, and comprised this blend of Syrah from a few prime Central Coast vineyards, we knew this was going to be one of our best “hits” ever! The reason was that Mac included a barrel of Syrah that was destined for one of his other premium wines (ones that sell for $40) into this blend, and Rock Garden Syrah went from a wine that was well worth the money, to over-delivering for the money! When we sold out, we called Mac to thank him for his generosity. His response was along the lines of, “well, I have another barrel of that Kymsi Syrah; do you want to do that exact blend again?”

Are you kidding us?!?!? BRING IT ON!!! So Rock Garden has returned! It just got shipped from the winery on February 6th, so we cracked open a bottle. This wine possesses everything we have always tasted in Rock Garden Syrah, but it is just a bit tight, so letting the wine rest in bottle for another week will give it time to unravel. The wine is a blend of fruit comprised of 80% from Camp 4 Vineyard and 20% Kymsi Vineyard, two properties in the Santa Ynez Valley. Camp Four is in the eastern part of the valley, where it is very warm to downright hot, and brings rich, dense fruit to the wine. Kymsi is in Ballard Canyon, the middle of Santa Ynez Valley, and brings black fruit, structure and spice. In addition to the Syrah, 5% Viognier was co-fermented with the Syrah. This helps to create darker color, lifted aromatics and a more approachable wine.

ROCK GARDEN 2013 SYRAH CENTRAL COAST

Dark garnet in color with a purple hue, the nose is chocked full of plums, boysenberry, blackberry, baking spice, white pepper, and grilled meat. On the palate the wine is juicy, but not overpowering, possessing good freshness and lift, with fresh fruit compote, soy, a mélange of blue and black fruit, with a hint of raspberry, bacon, and graphite. Velvety, fleshy, and with a long lasting finish, this is a steal of a wine!"

$9.95 750ml [252520] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

Scream Your Love with Clicquot’s Rose Megaphone!

With their strong corporate ties to the fashion industry, Veuve Clicquout has long set the pace for innovative packaging and merchandising. With Valentines upon us, and March Madness just around corner, the firm has outdone themselves with this megaphone ice bucket pack. The rose hued, metallic megaphone, of course, provides a boisterous outlet to convey one’s heart felt feelings on Valentine’s Day, but then it easily transforms into a festive, insulated ice bucket to enhance a romantic nosh or feast. Clicquot’s Rose is one of our top sellers and needs little introduction, it is based on the same blend as their iconic Yellow Label Brut, plus the addition of 12 percent of selected red wines. Its palate of cream-tinged red summer fruits and mouthwatering acidity make it suitable for drinking either as an aperitif or throughout a meal. Be aware that our supplies are limited and once this Limited Edition is sold out it will be gone forever.

VEUVE CLICQUOT BRUT ROSE & MEGAPHONE ICE BUCKET

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Bright and expressive, with mouthwatering acidity and refined texture, layered with black cherry, spiced plum, almond skin, honey and candied ginger notes. Shows lovely balance, offering a lasting finish of smoky mineral. Drink now through 2020."

$62.98 750ml [317500] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button