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South America
Vine Connections

South American Wines - Deep in the Southern Hemisphere along the spine of the Andes mountain range, you will find two of the most exciting winemaking countries in the world: Argentina and Chile.  Both countries boast landscapes of desert, jungle, glaciers, mountains and sweeping valley vistas.  Yet, within the dramatic beauty of the Extreme South, some of the world’s most incredible terroirs have been discovered by winemakers that produce wines with unparalleled character.  These are wines that combine the best of the New and Old Worlds – varietals from the Old World made in a New World arena.  Today wines from Argentina and Chile are balanced, complex, elegant, luxurious and, above all else, overdeliver in quality every time.  And the best part?  With the incredible amount of continued innovation happening in both countries, these show-stopping wines are only just the beginning of the Argentinean and Chilean Wine story.

Vine Connections - In the mid-nineties Ed Lehrman joined his good friend and wine colleague, Nick Ramkowsky, on a trip to South America that changed both their lives. They visited wineries in Mendoza, Argentina and quickly came to the conclusion that they had to introduce America to the best wines from the world’s 5th largest (but still fairly unknown) wine producing country, and formed a wine importing and national sales and marketing company, Vine Connections, in 1999.  About a year later, Ed and Nick discovered the joys of premium Japanese sake made by ancient, traditional, family-run brewers, and in May 2013, launched the most dynamic premium Chilean portfolio ever assembled and brought to the US. Today, Ed, Nick and the Vine Connections team represent 31 brands between Argentina and Chile and 14 from Japan.  Vine Connections is recognized as a pioneer and leader in all three categories.

 

CASA SILVA - The Silva family pioneered grapegrowing in the Colchagua Valley with the first vineyards back in 1892. Their cellar is the oldest in the valley. They strive to innovate in their vineyards and to pioneer new terroirs in the Colchagua Valley. They are paving the way for Carmenere by investing in research studies in their vineyards to study clones and microterroirs.

CASA SILVA 2012 COOL COAST SAUVIGNON BLANC

WINE AND SPIRITS MAGAZINE 92 POINTS - "Paredones, at the far western reaches of Colchagua, falls under the influence of the cold Pacific. Casa Silva released its first sauvignon from this far coast vineyard in 2009. This latest vintage needs decanting to bring out the rich aromas of citrus and fresh herbs. The density of its flavor is cut by saline acidity, best enjoyed in the company of oysters.”

Tasting Notes:  Expressive nose with intense pineapple and lime citrus aromas complemented with mineral notes. The palate is round and firm, dominated by citrus notes with refreshing acidity and a salty background.

$19.95 750ml [382450] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

BEN MARCO - In 1999 Susana Balbo crafted a line of wines to showcase the ripe fruit expression of her sustainably-farmed Mendoza vineyards. The philosophy is a simple one: grow great grapes and make wines that are true to their place. Minimal intervention during the growing season and through harvest allows the true fruit character to develop. Combine this with Susana’s winemaking skills and the result is wines that express the powerful fruit flavors, the ripe tannins and the incredible length and balance that can only come from this one place: Mendoza.

BEN MARCO 2012 EXPRESSIVO

JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Wow. I like the aromas to this with black currants, tangerines, and licorice. Full body, firm tannins and layers of pretty fruit plus just a hint of vanilla bean. So energetic and exciting. 45% malbec, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 15% tannat, 15% syrah and 5% bonarda. Better in 2016."

Tasting Notes:  An old vine blend with layers of ripe currant fruit, dense black cherry, and notes of brown spice, dark chocolate and sandalwood.

$27.95 750ml [380823] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

   

CHAMAN - The Reginato family has been growing grapes in the Uco Valley of Argentina for over 60 years. Since 2002, Luis Reginato has been making wines for some of the top wineries from Argentina. In 2013, a new brand was born - Chaman. After seeing and tasting from vineyards across Mendoza, Luis had a vision for a great blend. He saw the grapes in his family’s vineyard – especially the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot – and saw potential, lots of potential. The quality of the Petit Verdot was so high that when the vines matured, he decided to make it a focal point. La Consulta is a great place for these grape varieties because it is cool climate but still gets full ripening, so you get intense wines with structure and balanced acidity.

CHAMAN 2011 RED BLEND

WINE ADVOCATE 89 POINTS - “It has an attractive bouquet of blackberry, cassis, violets and a touch of cedar. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly grainy tannins. There is a core of earthy black fruit laced with licorice and tar, leading to a well-defined, very composed, peppery finish with a hint of dark chocolate on the aftertaste. This is a promising debut.”

Tasting Notes:  An ethereal and elegant red blend from expert winemaking brothers, Luis and Pepe Reginato.

$14.95 750ml [383115] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

GRAFFITO - Over the last 15 years working with wineries in Argentina, Australia and California, Jimena Lopez developed a very personal set of fine winemaking principles: use fruit from old vines in a special location, handle all the winemaking steps herself, and put her stamp of approval (a thumbprint) on the label. Jimena’s goal has been to craft a wine using these principles, so when she came across the 7-acre, Cantella vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo farmed entirely by Don Pepe and his family, she finally put her plan into action. This low-yield Malbec vineyard planted by his father in 1908 produces small, intense berries that produce a wine not only with deep dark color, like graphite, but also amazing concentration, complexity and structure.

GRAFFITO 2011 MALBEC

WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - “Notes of baking spices, licorice and smoke lead in this rich red, sporting a solid core of dark cherry and macerated plum.”

Juicy and medium-bodied with loads of mouth-coating ripe tannins common in old vine Malbecs. The ultimate steak wine.

$14.95 750ml [383116] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LUCA - Laura Catena grew up in a wine-making family in Mendoza. Although she now splits her time between Mendoza and San Francisco (where she is an Emergency Room Physician, university professor, mother of three, and accomplished tango dancer!), Laura’s heart remains in Argentina and winemaking. She had a vision of creating a new breed of Argentine wines: small quantities, artisan quality, and true to their individual terroirs. A true pioneer of small-grower relations in Mendoza, Laura’s incredible, limited production wines come from some of Argentina’s best fruit from low-yield, high elevation, family-owned vineyards. Her final varietal blends deliver power along with complexity and finesse. They are the ultimate expression of rigorous vineyard management, viticultural experimentation, strict irrigation controls, skilled winemaking, and a quest for quality at any cost.

 

LUCA 2012 CHARDONNAY

WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - “The 2012 G Lot Chardonnay is produced from high-altitude Chardonnay grapes grown in a corner in Gualtallary (hence the ‘G’). It has a very fresh Burgundian nose with aromas of nuts, tangerine, white peach and orange rind. To get the style for this wine (and for the White Bones and White Stones from Catena) they consulted with Meursault guru Jean-Mac Roulot, so you can have an idea of the style here. Only part of the wine ages in barrels and it has a little ripe nose. The palate is medium-bodied, ripe (the style of the 2012 vintage!), but with good freshness and acidity, especially for a warm vintage.”

Tasting Notes: Pale-gold enticing aromas of lemon creme and baking spices. A stony/mineral flavor finishes long with just a kiss of oak. Exceptional balance.

$28.95 750ml [380273] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LUCA 2012 MALBEC

WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Very suave and polished, with ripe, pure flavors of blackberry, hoisin sauce and black pepper. Finely textured, this is packed with tar and roasted plum notes, showing plenty of licorice snap and dark chocolate accents on the powerful finish. Best after 2020."

Tasting Notes: A superb example of Mendoza Malbec: Loads of spice and black cherry cola aromas, berry flavors, and a bottom note of freshly brewed espresso.

$28.95 750ml [380278] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LUCA 2010 BESO DANTE

WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - “The 2010 Luca Beso de Dante is a blend of 60% Malbec and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from Vista Flores, Altamira and Agrelo that is aged for 14 months in French oak, 70% new. It has a billowing bouquet of dark cherries, cassis, bay leaf and a hint of espresso that is beautifully defined. The palate is medium-bodied, with tobacco infused black fruit tinged with black pepper and a touch of green bell pepper. There is a welcome touch of austerity towards the finish that begs another sip, with tobacco then lingering on the aftertaste. This is superb.”

Tasting Notes: Named for Laura’s second son, this blend of Cabernet and Malbec is medium-bodied, plump and juicy with luscious flavors of red and black currant fruit.

$29.95 750ml [383100] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

LUCA LABORDE 2010 DOUBLE SELECT SYRAH

WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - “The 2010 Syrah Laborde Double Select was sourced from 48-year-old ungrafted vines and aged for 14 months in 50% new French barriques before bottling without fining or filtration. It sports an expressive perfume of smoke, bacon, game, leather, pepper, and blueberry. Smooth-textured and elegant on the palate.”

Tasting Notes: The Laborde Syrah vineyard was planted by a double massal selection of Syrah vines brought back from France’s Rhône Valley over a half century ago by renowned viticulturist, Luis Laborde.

$19.98 750ml [381418] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

MENDEL - Mendel Winery embodies the union of Roberto de la Mota - one of Argentina’s most respected and experienced winemakers - with a nearly century-old Argentine family, whose sole objective is to produce wine of unquestionable, superior quality. Proprietor and longtime wine lover, Anabelle Sielecki, diligently tracked down the very best talent Argentina had to offer when seeking Mendel’s winemaker, and with utmost charm and perseverance, brought Roberto de la Mota on board. Roberto, son of legendary winemaker Raul de la Mota, has an impressive winemaking record and a lifetime of winemaking education and practice. Together, they choose the best blocks from their ancient vineyards, and every artisan winemaking step is rigorously performed. Extraordinary vineyards, passionate people, experience and friendship are all blended to create these truly remarkable wines.

 

MENDEL 2011 UNUS

WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - “The nose is elegant and complex with subtle notes of soil, a little backward, combining ripe and fresh notes of fruit, hints of cured meats, orange peel, with a great sense of harmony. The palate is full-bodied, a good combination of the backbone of the Cabernet Sauvignon, the meat of the Malbec and a good punch in the palate helped by the Petit Verdot. The blend works really well, both in the nose and the palate. A great blend, quite classical, that should age well.”

Tasting Notes: A rich blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Big, yet suave with dark cherries, plums, roasted cocoa and ripe, soft tannins.

$39.95 750ml [380849] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

MERINO - René Merino is a physician who got into the wine business through his family’s agricultural background. The winemaker is José Pablo Martin, one of the most exciting young winemakers in Chile who has worked with top Chilean and French producers.

MERINO 2012 SYRAH

WINE AND SPIRITS MAGAZINE 91 POINTS - “Imagine a blender filled with fresh-picked blackberries. This smells & tastes like those berries after they’ve been pureed, as vibrant as it is soft & juicy. Added to that gentle, smooth feel, there’s a hint of meatiness giving the wine extra power & complexity.”

Tasting Notes: A deep and brilliant dark purple introduces a rich nose of ripe blackberries and raspberries. Finishes with minerality along with spicy violets and wild berries.

$14.95 750ml [383101] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

TIKAL - Tikal wines reflect the spirit of Mendoza: the sense of pride, love, celebration, and even a bit of craziness. Ernesto Catena spent his childhood in the vineyards of Mendoza among wine-growers and local pundits. A skilled horseman, software developer, and book editor, Ernesto pursues all that gives pleasure in life. This hedonism (in the best sense of the word) shows through in his wines. It is a style meant to provide enormous pleasure rather than provoke contemplation; an expression of emotion rather than intellect.

 

TIKAL 2012 PATRIOTA

WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - “A rich red, packed with concentrated flavors of blackberry, dark plum and mocha, featuring plenty of dark chocolate notes. Offers a ripe texture, with creamy accents and hints of savory herb on the long finish.”

Tasting Notes: Bonarda and Malbec. Big body yet balanced, with layers of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, and a hint of baking spice.

$15.95 750ml [381267] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

TIKAL 2012 JUBILO

WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - “An elegant and refined red, offering bountiful flavors of dark plum, roasted cherry and blackberry pie that are lush and open-textured. Intense notes of dark chocolate and raspberry preserves linger on the spice-infused finish.”

Tasting Notes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Unfolds in layers of black currant, oak, black cherry liqueur, dark chocolate, and roasted coffee. Lush without seeming heavy.

$29.95 750ml [380845] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Germany

SCHLOSS HALLBURG 2012 PINOT GRIS DRY ESTATE GROWN, FRANKEN, GERMANY

This is an unusually rich, flavorful, yet totally dry, Pinot Gris (Grigio) from the Franken region of Germany. On the nose you find aromas of green melon, spiced pears and white peaches. In the mouth this wine delivers rich, viscous stone fruit flavors balanced with citrus notes and good acidity. The finish is long with excellent minerality. While this crisp white has some similarities to the Pinot Grigios found in Italy, it is easy to tell that it comes from Germany.

The stunning Schloss Hallburg (schloss = castle) in Franken dates to 1284. It is bordered on the north-west by the Main River and to the east by a canal. The surrounding towns of Hallburg, Nordheim and Sommerach form a triangular region around it flanked by water, thus creating an “island” of quality wine-making in the heart of the region. The castle was acquired by the von Schonborn family in 1806. The vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically under the direction of Georg Hünnerkop, named Estate Manager of the Year in Germany by Gault–Millau in 2009. His style of winemaking features vigorous, refreshing whites without oak or “makeup.” These are pure tasting wines from a great, ancient site in the bone-dry Franconian tradition.

$14.95 750ml [304570] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button


Sake
By Trayce Holliday

KEN DAIGINJO 720ml

Delicious, dry and fragrant Ken is a solid Daiginjo hailing from Fukushima prefecture. It has aromas of cedar & light stone fruits. Honeydew melon, citrus & minerals coat the palate. The finish is dry & sharp, so it pairs extremely well with a wide variety of foods including grilled sea-eel with salt & salad with anchovy dressing. Please serve chilled.

$66.99 720ml [365652] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

 

KIKU MASAMUNE HONJOZO 720ml

This Honjozo Sake is super & performs best at room temp or lightly warmed. Aromas of banana, pumpkin & sweet potato are there. Earth & mushroom like flavors are on the palate & will pair fantastic with cooked meats, salted fish, & fresh mountain vegetables. The finish is dry & gamey, superb!

$19.99 720ml [365669] Hi-Time Wine Cellars add to cart button

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