A Fantastic and High Scoring Tuscan Red!
Azienda Agricola Duemani is owned by superstar winemaker Luca d’Attoma (formerly of Tua Rita, and currently at Le Macchiole). This winery is the perfect example of what happens when a world-class enologist finally has the chance to buy his own property. Starting completely from scratch, Luca leveled these rolling hillsides in Riparbella, just next to Bolgheri and planted his fields mainly with his first love: Cabernet Franc.
The passion Luca puts into the wines is obvious, as the project has been entirely organic/ biodynamic from the first day. The estate is certified biodynamic by Demeter (http://www.demeter.net). With no neighboring properties, his vineyards are totally isolated from conventional farming. His vineyard density is unusually high, resulting in fruit of exceptional quality. As proponents of the principles of biodynamic farming, the cultivation and care of the vineyard's soil is of the utmost importance to Luca and Elena. They employ various practices throughout the year to stimulate soil vitality and health which in turn provides beneficial nutrients and oxygen to the vines.
DUEMANI 2015 CIFRA CABERNET FRANC
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "Next to the 2014 vintage, the 2015 Cabernet Franc CiFRA is a very different wine. This is a more balanced and definitely more generous vintage in terms of the intensity of aromas and flavors on offer. Cabernet Franc is executed with Tuscan plumpness and ripeness that puts an emphasis on dark fruit and deeply vinous perfumes. Spice, leather and tobacco add heavier contouring at the back. The 2014 and the 2015 vintages are two very different beings. The first is streamlined and elegant, and the second is opulent, rich and more intense."
New Arrival High Scoring Spanish Red!
Hot off the press, we just received the 2013 Hacienda Monasterio which garnered a huge 95 Point score from the Wine Advocate. The publication singled out Monasterio as, “clearly among the best wines of the vintage.” This Spanish blend is comprised of 80% Tempranillo rounded out with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is always terrific, but they outdid themselves this vintage with very strict sorting of their grapes. As mentioned in the lengthy review, Monasterio did not bottle a Reserva or Reserva Especial, so all of their very best grapes made it into this wine. The depth and purity of fruit flavors are evident in every sip you take.
Hacienda Monasterio is a 150-hectare estate located between Pesquera and Valbeuna de Duero in the D.O. Ribera del Duero. At the end of the 19th century, this property was owned by the Lecanda family, who were the first owners of Vega Sicilia. The estate was purchased by Carlos del Rios in the early 1990s. His wine background is rooted in Jerez, as his family has been in the sherry business for decades with Tio Pepe and now the Gonzalez-Byass.
Carlos built the current winery in 1991 with French architect Philippe Mazieres who designed the spectacular cellars for Chateau Margaux and Chateau d'Yquem. Peter Sissick (of Pingus fame) has served as consulting winemaker since the estate's beginning with local winemaker Carlos de la Fuente. Vineyards are planted primarily to Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) and specifically to three types that are based on very old selections. The vineyards are ideally situated on limestone soils with a south facing exposure.
Hacienda Monasterio is a delicious wine that possesses power and intensity while maintaining finesse and complexity. It can be enjoyed now or over the next 10 years or so. Salud!
HACIENDA MONASTERIO 2013 CRIANZA
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The wonderful 2013 Crianza from Hacienda Monasterio is one of the great successes from a challenging vintage that resulted in a heterogeneous collection of wines, where you can find the best and the worst. 2013 was a shorter vintage and they didn't do a Reserva or Reserva Especial that year, so the very best grapes from their estate vineyards went into this Crianza. In fact, they sold 40% of their production in bulk. The final blend was 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and they didn't use any Merlot this year. It's a very precise vintage, with symmetry and a chiseled mouthfeel coupled with very good acidity, a little higher than in 2014 and with half a degree less of alcohol. The Monasterio vineyards are south-facing, the warmer exposure in the northern hemisphere, so they have an advantage in cooler years such as this 2013. Since 2012, the vineyards are organically certified, even if they have always been worked that way; the only difference is that they are now officially certified. The fruit is red rather than black and the tannins are super fine and elegant, providing for that laser-cut precision. This is clearly among the best wines from the vintage. In a way it reminded me of the 1996. The severe selection resulted into 134,560 bottles, way below the average, and it really paid off. Bravo!"
Absolute Knockout 97 Point Italian Red!
The wines from Sicily have erupted with a focus on native varietals stealing the show. Grown in volcanic soils from the slopes of Mount Etna, there are few places on earth that so directly impart and communicate the essence of terroir. The 2014 Passopisciaro Passorosso is a perfect illustration of this and one of the greatest examples of Nerello Mascalese we have ever tasted. This is a wine of character, purity and remarkable texture, possessing layers upon layers of flavors which evolve in the glass. Vinous Media wine critic Ian D'Agata calls this wine "a knockout" with a "three dimensional mouthfeel."
D'Agata continues with the praise, "Owner Andrea Franchetti and his team turned in Sicily's (and one of Italy's) best wine performances of the year. Simply put, it's nearly impossible this year to pick a favorite red wine from Passopisciaro's many offerings, with one gorgeous, ageworthy wine after another made from the single contrada and a truly memorable Passorosso blend that strikes me as the best of them all. The 2014 vintage will long be remembered as one of Etna’s best ever, and Passopisciaro has created what look like truly epic wines."
Franchetti arrived on Mt. Etna in 2000 as one of the first of the modern wave of producers arriving on the volcano. He found seventy to one hundred year-old, bush-trained vines across the northern side of the volcano across a variety of optimal sites between 1,800 to 3,300 feet above sea level. The grapes are selected from several vineyards including Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, Favazza and Arcuria. Generally, the higher crus are on a more gravelly soil with the lower ones in a deeper powder made with more oxidized, older lavas.
The expressive aromatics of this wine are impressive with purple flowers, deep red fruit, spice and unmistakable minerality derived from the volcanic soils. The wines are aged in large, neutral oak barrels and are unfiltered presenting an unadulterated interpretation of Nerello Mascalese. With age, Passorosso will gain exotic aromas of camphor, sandalwood, and spice.
Passorosso is a "can't miss" wine that is unique, wonderful and utterly delicious. Enjoy!
PASSOPISCIARO 2014 PASSOROSSO
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 97 POINTS - "Bright red-ruby. The captivating nose combines strawberry, raspberry, minerals, violet and flint aromas. Creamy-sweet but amazingly light on its feet, offering palate-staining, perfumed flavors of soft red berries, ripe red cherry, vanilla, aromatic herbs and crushed rock. Rich, ripe and suave, but displays a penetrating, saline and energetic quality that gives this beauty a three-dimensional mouthfeel and a light-on-its-feet quality. Finishes with great length and wonderfully polished tannins. Absolute knockout wine: from a memorable vintage on Etna, this is most likely the best Passorosso ever."
Price Reduction on Spanish Icon!
We are thrilled to be able to offer an “end of vintage sale” on the iconic Spanish wine, Pesquera. We received special pricing and are happy to pass along the savings to you. Alejandro Fernandez is a pioneer who is widely respected as a champion of the Tempranillo grape and the appellation of Ribera del Duero. He believed Tempranillo was a noble grape which could reach its full potential in this area of Northern Spain. Ribera del Duera is west of Rioja and is warmer than its neighbor. Fernandez knew vines planted in this area would produce wines with fuller body and generosity of fruit. Acting on his beliefs, he created Tinto Pesquera which is made of 100% Tempranillo.
Producing this single varietal wine was somewhat controversial at the time. Other producers such as Vega Sicilia made their wines with Bordeaux varietals as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Fernandez soon gained international acclaim for his wines and other winemakers followed his lead and began making wine in the area. Pesquera’s style has remained the same over the years and continues to be a rich, powerful and fragrant wine with juicy dark fruit flavors. This wine pairs well with hearty dishes and is delicious to drink on its own.
TINTO PESQUERA 2013 CRIANZA
As always, Pesquera has delivered a seamless, full-bodied delicious wine. Enjoy this iconic Spanish wine at a reduced price while you can.
Pesquera’s bright red color reveals its youth and ample concentration. On the nose, the wine's intense bouquet reveals dark fruit framed by toasted oak aromas. Flavors of black cherry and plum are augmented by notions of spices and vanilla. On the palate, the smooth entry becomes lush with abundant ripe fruit and silky tannins. The presence of well-integrated oak complements the wine and leads to a refined, long-lasting finish.
Off the Charts Chianti Value!
If Cetamura by Badia a Coltibuono is any indication, the hype of the great 2015 vintage in Tuscany is justified. Here is our first look into how well Sangiovese performed in what is being described as ideal growing conditions. Coltibuono’s entry-level Chianti displays a wonderful bright fruit character while maintaining freshness. Cetamura is a perfect wine to keep on hand and is fantastic with food, especially Italian cuisine such as pasta, pizza, risotto and cheeses, but is also very enjoyable on its own.
Coltibuono produced Cetamura with the intention of creating a young wine for every day consumption. This traditional blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes does not see any oak, preserving the fresh fruit character of the grapes. Cetamura is medium-bodied with moderate alcohol (13% ABV) and a refreshing fresh fruit quality resulting in a wine that is harmonious and balanced.
The name Badia a Coltibuono translates to Abbey of the Good Harvest and the estate dates back to the middle of the eleventh century. The historic knowledge and winemaking skills have been passed down through the years and reveal themselves in every glass of wine. We have become huge fans of the wines from Badia a Coltibuono. In fact, we enjoy them so much we usually have three different tiers from this estate available at the store at any given time.
One would be hard pressed to find a better “everyday drinker” from Tuscany. Cetamura is an “off the charts” Chianti value and the affordable price only enhances our pleasure. Salute!
COLTIBUONO 2015 CETAMURA
Medium ruby in color. On the nose, this wine has aromas of red cherry, dried plum, black tea and subtle notes of leafy underbrush. On the palate, the wine is dry, medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and soft, easygoing tannins. Flavors of cherry, wild berries and licorice linger on the persistent finish. The wine is fresh, very pleasing and ready to drink.
JAMES SUCKLING 90 POINTS - "A fine and silky red with plum and chocolate character, medium body and a fresh finish. Real Chianti."
A Paul Hobbs Red We Have Never Had Before!
Paul Hobbs doesn’t need an introduction. His wines are revered as some of the best in California among connoisseurs, in fact finding wines he makes can be difficult at times as they tend to quickly disappear off the shelf! We’ve been long time supporters of his wines despite the difficulties in getting them and are very happy when we get our yearly allocation of his single vineyard offerings. There is, however, another varietal made under Paul's Crossbarn label that virtually never hits retail shelves and that is his Cabernet Franc! Produced using hand-harvested fruit from carefully selected vineyards in prime appellations in the Napa Valley, CrossBarn Cabernet Franc offers the distinct flavors and structure that are true to this varietal.
Quantities are limited so don't hesitate to order. First come, first served.
CROSSBARN 2013 CABERNET FRANC NAPA VALLEY
Paul utilizes the same techniques as he does with his more luxurious wines, such as long cold soaks, extended maceration, primary fermentation with native and selected yeasts along with aging for 20 months in French and American oak barrels.
With a smoldering crimson color, the aromas on this wine are savory with red clay, rose petal, lavender, tobacco, raspberry, and cassis. On the palate we find red berries, fresh thyme, graphite, and anise. These distinct flavors with rich velvety tannins and focused fruit lead to a long, slate-like finish.
Wine Advocate’s Incredible Value to Buy by the Case!
Today, we have two fantastic wines from Jean Marc Lafage who is unquestionably one of the best value producers in France, if not the world. You may recall his Syrah/Grenache blend Bastide Miraflors which was a customer favorite and one of our top wines of the year. The wines featured today are cut from the same cloth.
The first is his Cuvee Nicholas Grenache which is made in the same easy-drinking, fruit- forward style we love. It boasts expressive aromatics and freshness, making you want to take another sip. The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck rated this wine 90-92 Points, calling it a wine with “real class and elegance” and an “incredible value.” He then writes, “Buy it by the case and drink it over the coming 2-3 years.”
The second wine we are featuring is Lafage’s blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, which he calls Narassa. This one is sourced from old vines and combines the generosity of Grenache with the savory complexity inherent to Syrah. Narassa received a Wine Advocate score of 93 Points, which described the wine as “pure silk and elegant.”
Want to hear more? The Advocate’s Dunnuck writes, “When it comes to quality-to-price ratios, no one does it better than proprietor Jean Marc Lafage. Located just outside of Perpignan, this estate has a wealth of old vines and vineyards to pull from, and the addition of a massive new winery is only going to give them even more control. While it’s easy to write off these value-priced releases as fruit bombs, please taste the wines! They have beautiful purity of fruit, impeccable balance and each release has their own unique character. At the prices, these are no-brainers.”
What else do you need to hear? Lafage is making tremendous wine at his estate in the hills of Cotes Catalanes in the Roussillon. We continue to be astounded that he is able to make such terrific wine at incredibly low prices. These two wines are indeed, “no brainers.”
DOMAINE LAFAGE 2014 CUVEE NICHOLAS GRENACHE
ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE 90-92 POINTS - “Aged in 25% demi-muids, the 2014 Cotes Catalanes Nicolas comes all from the rolling hills and gravel soils in the Aspres region and is made from 100% Grenache. What should represent an incredible value, it boasts fabulous notes of black raspberry, licorice and crushed violets to go with medium+-bodied richness, fine tannin and a supple, pretty profile on the palate. This is far from an over-the-top fruit bomb and it has real class and elegance. Buy it by the case and drink it over the coming 2-3 years.”
DOMAINE LAFAGE 2014 NARASSA COTES DU ROUSILLON
ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - “From one of the warmest sites in France, the 2014 Cotes du Roussillon Villages Lieu Dit La Narassa comes from 70-year-old vines planted in the black schist soils of Maury. Despite the rugged, hot terroir from where this beauty comes, the wine is pure silk and elegant, with lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was aged mostly in concrete tank (20% in demi-muids), drink it anytime over the coming 4-5 years.”
Limited Quantity Available on Ridge Monte Bello!
The Ridge Chardonnays have become some of the best whites produced in California’s Central Coast! They combine the rich, full flavors of California Chardonnay with the freshness and minerality of the best French White Burgundies! Their organic Estate vineyard rest on decomposing limestone just 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting wine expresses the complexity of its origin. Barrel fermented with native yeasts, the wine spent 17 months on their lees, and barrels were stirred weekly for added richness, while maintaining the areas vibrant acidity.
Quantity is limited so don't hesitate to order. First come, first served.
RIDGE 2013 CHARDONNAY "MONTE BELLO" SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "A true gem, the 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello, which was barrel fermented and aged 17 months in mostly American oak, offers sensational notes of white peach, citrus blossom, mint, ginger and baking spices. It’s a big, rich wine, yet it never puts a foot wrong, is impeccably balanced and stays fresh, pure and focused. Drink it anytime over the coming decade or more."
ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - "The 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello is exceptional. Rich, layered and creamy, the 2013 exudes depth. Readers will have to wait at least a few years before the 2013 hits its stride, but all the elements are in the right place. Yellow orchard fruit, mint, sweet spices and flowers are all fused together in an exceptional, racy Chardonnay loaded with class and personality. Today, the 2013 is a total knock-out. The 2,000 case production for the Monte Bello Chardonnay is a record high for Ridge."
A High Quality, Delicious Chianti Classico at an Amazing Price!
We are thrilled to be able to offer another fantastic special on a Chianti from Castelli del Grevepesa. Building on our relationship with the distributor and the great success of our previous best seller, they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. The 2011 Clemente VII Chianti Classico Riserva offers quality you can taste in the glass, so of course we jumped on it. We are not alone in our assessment of this wine. Wine Spectator slapped a 92 Point score on it, calling it “rich and lush” with a “long, expansive finish.” The best news is we are able to offer it at the lowest price in the country!
Castelli del Grevepesa comes from a small group of like-minded growers who work together to produce this Sangiovese based wine using traditional Tuscan methods. With prime vineyards throughout Tuscany, they are able to secure grapes from favored sites. After being harvested by hand, this wine is fermented before aging in large oak barrels for an extended period, adding complexity and harmony.
The Clemente VII proves high quality, delicious wines that offer great value are still available if you know where to look. Finding a great tasting Sangiovese from the “classico” area recognized as producing the highest quality Chianti at this price is compelling.
CASTELLI DEL GREVEPESA 2011 CLEMENTE VII CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA
Intense ruby red colored wine. Elegant aromas of fresh flowers, wild berries, leather and tobacco. Medium plus bodied with ripe well integrated tannins that make it velvety and polished on the palate. Red and black fruit flavors along with notes of licorice, a hint of spices and toasted vanilla. The taste profile is in perfect harmony and well balanced.
WINE SPECTATOR 92 POINTS - “Rich and lush, with a bittersweet chocolate accent to the black cherry and blackberry fruit. Mineral and tobacco notes enter the mix as this cruises to a long, expansive finish. Drink now through 2022.”
Back in Stock Hartford Old Vine Russian River Zinfandel!
What a way to start the year! Hartford finished 2016 with style nailing down Wine Spectator # 10 wine of the year award with their 2014 Old Vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel. Here we are still in the first quarter of 2017 and the top critics including both Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have already begun issuing phenomenal scores on the new releases which are due to land starting spring. The wines are consistently delicious year to year and with California coming off of multiple quality vintages in a row there is little wonder why we love this producer so much!
Quantity is limited so don't hesitate to order. First come, first served.
HARTFORD 2015 ZINFANDEL "OLD VINE" RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY
Hartford Family Winery began back in 1994 by Don and Jennifer Hartford. Since their inaugural release in 1996, Hartford has continued to produce wines with lots of personality and charisma. The single vineyard wines they produce range from as little as 90 to 800 cases and receive high accolades from the top wine critics. The Old Vine Zinfandel is produced from true old vines planted 80-100 years ago from some of California’s oldest Zinfandel vineyards.
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "This is what Russian River Zinfandel is all about. Rich, dynamic and layered, with complex fruit, offering notes of jammy black raspberry, stony mineral, herbes de Provence and licorice. The finish unfurls at length. Drink now through 2026."
Wine Advocate 90 Point Malbec Under $10!
In a land which often offers excellent value, this Malbec stands out. Doña Paula’s Estate Malbec offers tremendous value in a textbook Malbec with enticing aromatics and luscious dark fruit flavors in a wine that is smooth as silk. This beauty from Argentina garnered a 90 Point score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which noted it is "floral and aromatic" with "great freshness and poise." We agree wholeheartedly; this is a great everyday drinker.
We have previously featured Doña Paula as our Wine of the Month and you responded with great enthusiasm, grabbing cases of the little beauty. The quality-to-price ratio of this 2015 Estate Malbec is undeniable. The grapes are sourced from high altitude vineyards (3600-4400 feet above sea level) in the Uco Valley. Soils are a combination of sandy loam and stony gravel with high calcareous content. The grapes are farmed sustainably, hand-harvested and aged in a combination of new and used French Oak for 12 months.
This wine is very approachable and made in a terrific, crowd-pleasing style. This exceptional value would be enjoyable for your guests at get-togethers and a makes a great everyday house wine. Enjoy!
DONA PAULA 2015 ESTATE MALBEC
Intense violet color. On the nose, the aromas of black fruits, violets and spices are enticing. On the palate, blueberries, blackberries and notions of vanilla and baking spices abound. Great balance and freshness in the mouth, with good concentration and very soft tannins. This wine will pair well with red meat or drink deliciously on its own.
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2015 Malbec Estate is floral and aromatic, all about violets and blueberries, very much in line with the 2013, which offered great freshness and poise. It's not terribly complex, but it's extremely pleasant and balanced."
A 91 Point California Pinot Noir for Just $13.99!
The Jackson Family crafts everything from elusive 100-point Napa Valley Cabernets to affordable Chardonnays for the dinner table. How can they do this? Well, they own thousands of acres up and down the state from Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara and more. They farm these vineyards with the purpose of producing grapes that, in turn, deliver wines whose qualities exceed their retail price point. The most recent example of this we've seen is their 2014 Vintner's Reserve Pinot Noir.
They carefully match climates and soil types for each grape varietal and then craft each vineyard lot throughout the entire winemaking process. This year the grapes come from Monterey, Santa Barbara and Mendocino counties. These regions produce small, densely flavored grapes which become well-structured wines. The wine is aged for 12 months in 98% French (12% new) oak barrels for hints of toast, vanilla and cedar aromas. The lots are kept separate until the final blend so that their winemakers have the ability to craft a wine that exhibits the perfect blend of flavors and aromas from each region.
KENDALL JACKSON 2014 "VINTNER'S RESERVE" PINOT NOIR
The grapes are grown on benchland rolling hillsides and mountain top vineyards that develop small, densely flavored grapes which become well-structured wines. Monterey County (68%) grapes develop the floral nuances and structure along with flavors of ripe strawberry, raspberry and black berry. Santa Barbara County (29%) infuses the wine with dark cherry lushness. Mendocino County (3%) adds dark fruit tones as well as excellent tannins to the structure and mouthfeel.
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Deftly balanced, this is slow to build nuance and complexity, unfolding to reveal tiers of spicy raspberry, black cherry and wilted rose. Though medium-weight, the flavors build intensity and nuance. Drink now through 2020."
Parker's "Amazing" 92 Point Spanish Value!
This is one for those who love their wines rich, ripe and juicy. The 2013 Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas is deeply colored with excellent concentration and bursting with luscious fruit. It is composed of mostly old-vine Monastrell with the balance Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon. Robert Parker tasted this wine and loved it, gushing about the “full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, density and richness.” He finished by calling it “just amazing” and a “powerhouse!"
The 2013 Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas is a custom cuvee from Eric Solomon. You may know Solomon through the wines he imports including such well-regarded names as Black Slate, Clos Erasmus, Nit de Nin, Hacienda Monasterio, Mas Doix, Aalto and many more. Solomon has been able to locate fantastic old vines and partner with growers and winemakers to reduce yields, increase concentration and ratchet up the quality. Packing so much flavor in a bottle and getting it safely on the shelves in Southern California is a pretty amazing feat indeed. $11.95!!!!
Castano Solanera delivers an experience front loaded with abundant, mouth coating fruit flavors. It is what we in the business call a crowd-pleaser. Deep, dense and concentrated.
CASTANO 2013 SOLANERA VINAS VIEJAS
ROBERT PARKER 92 POINTS! “Even better is the 2013 Solanera is a “Vinas Viejas” that differs from the Castano (100% Monastrell), as this blend is 70% Monastrell, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 % Grenache, aged 10 months in French and American oak. Another difference from the Hecula is that it was aged equal parts in tank and the other half in French oak. The Solanera, which comes from relatively high-altitude limestone soils at 900 meters, has a dense purple color, a big sweet kiss of blueberry and blackberry fruit mixed with crushed chalk, a full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, density and richness. The oak is well concealed by the lavish fruit–the wine just amazing. Drink it over the next 2-3 years, as these powerhouses are best consumed in their exuberant and extroverted youth.”