Iconic Spanish Winemaker Scores Big with The Wine Advocate!
For those who love "terroir wines," Raul Perez is one of those people to follow no matter what they make. He has a seemingly innate winemaking talent and an intimate working knowledge of his vineyards near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the Bierzo region of Northwestern Spain. We're particularly excited to sell some of his latest releases from the 2018 vintage, which Raul thinks was the best in at least a decade, if not in his 25 years of making wine there! This is reflected in some great reviews from The Wine Advocate, which you can check out below.
The climate and soils of Bierzo are a distinct departure from the Mediterranean coast and the semi-arid high plains and valleys of inland Spain: it's distinctly cooler and wetter from the greater Atlantic influence. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines and Godello for whites. Mencia-driven wines from Bierzo can traverse a style between Oregon Pinot Noir and Rhone Valley Syrah: they have a moderate amount of velvet-textured tannins with spicy, mineral sensations, and floral aromas along with both dark and red fruits, like brambly blackberry and fresh cherry. Godello shares some things in common with dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley and the best sites of South Africa, with subtle flavors ranging from the citrus family (lemon, grapefruit, & orange), quince, and stone fruits (peach & nectarine) along with a broad mouthfeel and crystalline or crushed rock 'minerality' on the palate that can carry a mouthwatering saline sensation like in good Chablis.
Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is at the same time traditional and innovative, involving harvesting from old, mixed-variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, and with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely. Depending on the wine, aging takes place in a mix of concrete, amphorae, and mostly older barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors. Raul also minimizes the use of sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement. None of the wines are filtered or fined.
RAUL PEREZ 2018 ULTREIA 'ST. JACQUES' RED
Mostly Mencia, with Bastardo & Garnacha Tintorera
For this red he uses mostly whole clusters, and the juice is in contact with skins for long periods (2-5 months) as the clusters slowly break down, gently extracting the desired flavors and textures.
WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The truly impressive 2018 Ultreia Saint Jacques transcends its price category...The wine is clean, precise and fresh, and the oak is super-subtle, almost unnoticeable. The palate reflects a fluid wine of pleasure, a red of thirst. This is the wine where they have invested more, and 2018 has to be the finest vintage to date."
Mostly Godello with Dona Blanca
While around 80% of the grapes were immediately pressed into large French barrels for fermentation, the remaining 20% of the grapes fermented with skins in clay amphorae, untouched for a year. In this process, the wine develops a covering of yeast, called flor in Spanish that mostly protects the wine from oxygen. The overall process enhances savory qualities and tames the fruity-sweet ones.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "2018 is a great vintage: The cycle was long and Godello ripened properly...Having such perfect ripeness, the wine is very tasty...they select the vineyards for that straight and austere character...It has a saline palate...complex, with no room for sweetness. I think this could live 10 years and develop great complexity. This is the most austere and serious white in its finest vintage. A white for purists and one that is going to develop very slowly."
A very limited production wine. Aged in large barrels (40% new) for around 18 months under a covering of yeast (flor), yielding a slight oxidative character like in some whites from Jura, France.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "Raul Perez thinks 2018 is the best year he has seen in his 25 years of making wines in Bierzo, calling it the year of Balance. The whites are superb, even the 2018 Ultreia La Claudina, where there's always a little more ripeness...And in this vintage, there is some creaminesss (perhaps the high percentage of new oak), with a showier profile, peachy juiciness, more volume and a spicy twist a little a la Jura, but more Meursault than Puligny. It's more expressive, rounder and juicier, less radical than some of the earlier years, spicy and with notes of fennel."
A "Smoking Good" 93-Point Oregon Pinot Noir...Under $20!!
We have not seen an Oregon Pinot Noir with a score-to-price ratio like this in years! In fact, our buyer had to double check his numbers to be sure he wasn't selling this wine below cost...and he isn't. Seriously...an Oregon Pinot Noir, with a 93-point score, from respected wine critic Jeb Dunnuck, and selling under $20? Considering that quality Pinot Noir typically doesn't come cheap, this sounds too good to be true, but this is the real deal!
Siduri is one of our more popular domestic Pinot Noirs in the store, as they show rich, vibrant fruit profiles without going over the top. While winemaker Adam Lee is typically known for his California Pinot Noir offerings, he's been slowly upping his Oregon game, and this Willamette Valley offering shows that Adam has this region figured out!
Coming from some of the more prized vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley, such as Gran Moraine, Zena Crown, and Hawk's View, Adam blends from three different regions in the area. Grapes from the cooler Chehalem Mountains and Eola-Amity Hills lend fresh acidity and bright aromatics, and combined with the richer and rounder wines from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA gives a broad range of flavors that are blended together to create a wine that is simultaneously rich and zippy-the best of all possible worlds!
SIDURI 2018 PINOT NOIR WILLAMETTE VALLEY
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS! - "I love the appellation series from this estate and tasting through them is a great way to learn about the difference in regions on the West Coast. Starting with the 2018 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, it comes from multiple sites and saw 15% stems and 20% new French oak. Its deeper ruby/plum hue gives way to a medium-bodied Pinot Noir with a fresh, nicely structured style as well as terrific notes of black raspberries, strawberries, dried herbs, wood smoke, and earth. It's balanced, has nicely integrated acidity, and is just a smoking good Pinot Noir."
More Brunello Gems from the Phenomenal 2015 Vintage!
We've got so many great Brunellos from the warm and sunny 2015 vintage that it's hard to pick which to highlight next! We certainly must bring up Altesino for its modern classics that show the finest qualities of which Sangiovese is capable: expressive, complex aromas and a scintillating structure that is vibrant and finely etched.
Originally founded in 1970, Altesino was among the handful of wineries to join in the Brunello di Montalcino revolution that has led to some of greatest wines in the world today. The estate was purchased in 2002 for no small amount by Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini, owner of another well-known Montalcino winery, Caparzo. Fortunately, she did not seek to change the house style, but rather to give the winemaking team the tools to improve quality (job well done). Among Altesino's jewels are plots within the most famous of Brunello vineyards, the higher-altitude Montosoli; in fact, they were the first to bottle and market a single vineyard Brunello back in 1975 with those plots.
Montosoli yields particularly fine-boned & deep wines that are wound up tight when young, developing gracefully over the years (decades, really). For their elegant, mid-weight 'classic' Brunello, on the other hand, a blending from their vineyards around the region allows them to imbue some of their more vibrant, redder-fruited sources with some softer, darker-fruited character, making for a more approachable wine when young. If you can wait and lay some bottles down, these are wines that will get even better over the years (otherwise we suggest aerating for several hours and pair with some flavor-rich dishes to get the best from them)!
ALTESINO 2015 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "...shows beautiful depth and latitude, with broad fruit aromas of dark cherry and cassis that recall the warmth and golden sunlight of the vintage. The wine is deceivingly streamlined in terms of mouthfeel, but that slim and buttoned-down backbone supports a broad range of flavors and sensations, from lavender essence and camphor ash to moist soil and toasted spice. All of these elements are delivered with impressive harmony and unity, and I expect that this wine will continue on a slow, steady and satisfying aging trajectory over the next 10 years or more."
JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Terracotta, earth, iron filings, cedar and leather make for an undergrowth-driven Brunello 2015, which doesn't fall short in the fruit department either, where there are red plums and red cherries. The tannins are neatly stacked, one on top of the other, with tidy acidity drawing in vibrant fruit and keeping it taut throughout. Balanced and stylish. Drink from 2023."
JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "A very nuanced but powerful Brunello showing hibiscus, raspberry tea, gunpowder, petrichor, dried orange rind and spearmint. The rows of sharp tannins are very defined and agile, and the acidity is tensely strung up in overtures of vivacious red fruit. A beautiful, nimble Brunello 2015. Drink from 2024."
WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "...shows those celebrated characteristics of this special vineyard cru that are always portrayed with pronounced mineral intensity, with highlights of crushed granite and pencil shaving... In this case, those mineral notes are applied with small brush strokes, as the core of the wine is occupied by wild fruit and forest berry. Medicinal herb and rosemary essence appear quietly at the back. This is a very compact and bright wine with young tannins and solid structure. It has all the attributes you look for in a candidate that can withstand long cellar aging. I'd suggest waiting five years or more before popping this cork."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 96 POINTS - "The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli has a dark, hauntingly beautiful bouquet, displaying ripe blackberry and cherry with spicy, dark florals, as well as a hint of animal musk, which manages to ground the experience in the earth. On the palate, velvety textures, offset by tart red and black fruits, with juicy acidity maintain balance, as sweet cherries and rosemary give way to a core of minerality and hints of fine tannin. It finishes long and elegant, showing dark inner florals, ripe blackberry and lingering sweet spices. It's interesting to taste this next to the classic Brunello from 2015, as I find them to be equally enjoyable, but for completely different reasons."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 96 POINTS - "Underbrush, mature berry and exotic spice aromas mingle with a whiff of leather. Firmly structured and linear, the palate features ripe Marasca cherry, cranberry, licorice and tobacco while tightly wound, fine-grained tannins provide the backbone. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Give it time to fully develop. Drink 2023-2035."
Spectacular High Scoring New Arrivals from Domaine Huet!
These are the finest, purest, most delicate yet also intense Vouvrays I have had from Huet in recent years - Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
Fans shouldn't miss the chance to buy some of the world's finest Chenin Blancs, which are still spectacularly moderate in price - Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate
We just received an allocation of the 2019 vintage from Domaine Huet and are thrilled to have enough of these rare wines to offer them in an email. Only 4 wines were made in this vintage, three of which are dry (Sec) and one off-dry (Demi-Sec). They are all fantastic, complex and high scoring wines that are incredibly delicious. These wines possess a pleasing textural component and a minerality that enhances the pure orchard and citrus fruit flavors.
Since its founding in 1928, Vouvray's Domaine Huet has been the standard-bearer for great, age-worthy Chenin Blanc. The Wine Advocate's Stephan Reinhardt absolutely loves these wines, heaping high praise and scores on each one of the wines from this vintage. He wrote, "These are the finest, purest, most delicate yet also intense Vouvrays I have had from Huet in recent years."
He also stated, "the high-toned, illuminating 2019 Le Haut-Lieu is fascinating in its purity and finesse."
Le Mont Sec, always my personal favorite among the Vouvrays from Huet due to the mineral tension and nerviness possibly caused by the silex stones in the tuff soils, comes in third for me this year.
The Le Mont Demi-Sec, however, is fabulously sublime! It is round and juicy but also very delicate and piquant and ropes in its delicate sweetness with fine tannins and persistent salinity.
The Clos du Bourg is another stellar Chenin: ripe, deep, rich and complex yet also pure and vital, with great finesse and elegance and an impressive finish. The 2019 is probably the most amazing Clos de Bourg I have tasted as a young wine!"
The domaine's founder, Victor Huet, was a Parisian bistro owner who re-settled to the town of Vouvray in the beautiful Loire Valley after WW1. He soon purchased the first of his great vineyards, Le Haut-Lieu, in 1928, and Domaine Huet was born.
Victor's son Gaston worked with his father from the beginning, and assumed full charge by 1937. With an obsessive devotion to quality, and an engaging showman's personality, Gaston built the Huet legacy over the next 55 years.
As the estate prospered in the post-WWII era, Gaston secured two additional prime vineyards on the Premiere Cote that would ensure the domaine's stature: Le Mont (purchased in 1957) and Clos du Bourg (farmed since 1953, purchased in 1963). Collectively, these three vineyards, and the wines made from them, account for Huet being the greatest of all Vouvray producers.
Gaston was joined in 1971 by his son-in-law, Noel Pinguet, and 1979 by chef de culture, Jean-Bernard Berthome. Together, they crafted legendary wines from their three parcels-with the vineyards and nature dictating which grapes would become Sec, Demi-Sec, or Moelleux. The estate always held back significant stocks of older vintages, and these wines' near immortality has helped to further the Huet legend.
With Berthome in charge of winemaking since 2012, the domaine may be making its most consistently great wines ever. It was one of the earliest adopters of biodynamics, and recent wines, perhaps more than any in the domaine's history, achieve a fascinating level of transparency, purity, and knife-edged balance.
The wines from Domaine Huet are among the greatest white wines in the world. Fortunately, they remain quite affordable and offer amazing value. If you haven't had quality Chenin Blanc before, this is a great opportunity to try some of the best. If you've been lucky enough to enjoy Huet before, then you know that now is the time to grab these iconic wines.
HUET 2019 VOUVRAY SEC LE HAUT LIEU
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The deep brown clay soils of the Haut-Lieu plateau provide the typical fruitiness and freshness wonderfully in Huet's 2019 Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec. Ripe pear, tangerine and orange fruits with notes of lemon grass and green pimientos intertwined with very fine chalky and later tobacco notes give a remarkably fine, elegant and harmonious, subtly complex and simply gorgeous bouquet with floral (lime blossom!) and yeasty aromas that are immediately attractive. Delicate and linear on the palate, this is a pure, fresh, bone-dry, lean and textured, highly refined and perfectly interwoven Chenin with persistent purity, finesse, salty-mineral tension and very fine tannins. Highly finessed and so pure and vivacious! This is a chalky picture-book Haut-Lieu that can age for many years, even though it is already dangerously seductive! There was no dry Le Haut-Lieu produced in 2018, but the 2019 is possibly the finest, most delicate and elegant I've had in recent years, at least at this early stage. A terrific and buoyant Vouvray that any Chenin lover should try-or, better yet, cellar!"
$34.99 750ml SOLD OUT
HUET 2019 VOUVRAY SEC LE MONT
WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "Again, Huet's 2019 Vouvray Le Mont Sec reflects the unique, south-facing nine-hectare vineyard with its pebbly flint (silex) and green clay soils wonderfully! Pure, fresh and flinty on the deep, intense yet also floral and herbal nose that represents a concentrated and firm white stone fruit aroma with lemon and grapefruit notes as well as fennel, anise and cumin hints. The bouquet gets darker and stonier with a lot of aeration (during days, to be honest). The leitmotif, though, remains the characteristic mix of aromatic fruit aromas with flint stone and volcanic basalt tones that, at this early stage and poured straight from the bottle, remind me of the Rieslings from Forst, Pfalz (Germany). In any case, this is like perfume on rocky stones! On the palate, Le Mont Sec is a rich, lush and round, very concentrated yet silky textured, elegant, vital and tightly structured 2019 with a powerful, intense and long finish with lingering salinity intertwined with tight, perhaps slightly dry tannins. I recommend cellaring this round yet tight and concentrated Chenin for a decade and then drinking it slowly over many years and with, hopefully, even better integrated tannins."
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The 2019 Vouvray Clos du Bourg Sec offers a deep, rich yet pure and refined, intensely aromatic, darker-toned nose with aromas of fully ripe stone and tropical fruit intertwined with earthy, chalky and yeasty notes that make up for further finesse and complexity. Full-bodied, round and fruity on the palate, this is a deep, intense, juicy, silky-textured yet tight, chalky, very complex, sustainably structured and persistently salty-mineral Chenin from old vines that give extra concentration as well as a spectacularly expressive character. This is a great, age-worthy Vouvray with fine tannins and lingering salty tension and finesse. What a finish! The 2019 needs a while to gain finesse and even more complexity. The wine served from the bottle that I tasted nine days before was incredibly amazing! The 2019 is a duty for all Chenin aficionados!"
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The 2019 Vouvray Le Mont Demi-Sec is clear, fresh, deep and complex yet pure, fine, elegant and perfectly interwoven on the nose, where notes of crushed flint stones, limestones and concentrated citrus fruit aromas and even iodine notes are revealed. Very elegant and refined on the palate, this is a round, juicy, seductively fruity yet firmly structured and piquant Le Mont whose sweetness is captured by fine tannins and a sustainably dense, vital and salty finish. The 2019 Demi-Sec is a great Chenin and the finer Le Mont of the two, and it is doubtlessly a long-distance runner that should be cellared for at least a decade even though it's hard to resist today. Impressive!"
$44.99 750ml  SOLD OUT
When Opportunity Knocks...Get 2015 Produttori del Barbaresco Riservas!
We usually don't get enough of the single vineyard reserve wines from the Produttori del Barbaresco winery to be able to promote them in our weekly emails. These days, though, restaurants are unfortunately unable to take their allocations. We were happy to help find good homes for them since they are the top wines from a great producer and wonderful vintage (2015), all at the increasingly fair price of $59.98! What's more, we were able to get the full series of vineyards...but some are running low already!
Produttori del Barbaresco is one of those rare instances in which a cooperative winery is run so well that it is considered among the top producers of its region. The first version of a cooperative of family growers in Barbaresco launched in 1894, with the goal of representing the Barolo neighbor as a fine wine region in its own right. The idea was renewed under the larger Produttori del Barbaresco group in 1958, which was still composed of old family growers, but even larger in scope. They were also early promoters of single-vineyard reserve wines in Piedmont; beginning in 1967, these have only been bottled in the better vintages, and are made in the same fashion so as to convey the particularly site-sensitive character of the Nebbiolo grape in this region.
We're particularly excited about the current 2015 wines because the vintage provided them with a sunny, concentrated inner core and riper tannins that make them a bit more approachable at this stage (with a couple hours' aeration). Nevertheless, some may need more time to age. Don't hesitate to "cellar" any of them, as they'll come into increased harmony over the next few years, and will further evolve over the next ten, becoming suppler and more complex!
PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO 2015 'ASILI'
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "...shows bright cherry fruit, dried raspberry and blood orange. The wine's delicate aromatic layering continues with rusty iron, aniseed, tea leaf and camphor ash. Those lifted and vertical aromas contribute to the energy and vibrancy that this wine awards to the palate. The finish is extremely polished and tight, and those pretty flavors are folded neatly into the wine's silky texture. This wine has many years, or decades, of aging built into its inner clock."
DECANTER 96 POINTS - "Asili has a warmer microclimate than most of the other vineyards here. It was first produced by Produttori as a single-vineyard wine in 1967. The 2015 is tight, tannic and reserved, with some bright strawberry, raspberry, cranberry and vanilla creeping out of the glass. In the mouth it has some meaty savouriness, and gives a hint of the complexity to come, but as it stands this needs a lot more time to become approachable. Scored for its potential."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 95 POINTS - "Wild berry, violet, new leather, forest floor and eucalyptus aromas lift out of the glass. The elegant, full-bodied palate delivers dried black cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and dried mint alongside taut, polished tannins. Given the hot, dry growing season, this is a more powerful and concentrated version of Asili."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 97 POINTS - "Violet, new leather, perfumed berry and a whiff of face powder mingle together with camphor on this fragrant red. On the structured, polished palate, taut, refined tannins support succulent Morello cherry, mulberry and licorice. It's already tempting, but hold for even more complexity. Drink 2022-2027. "
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 94 POINTS - "One of the highlights in this series, the 2015 Barbaresco Riserva Paje is marked by bright acids and expressive veins of spiciness that lend a much needed kick of energy to a core of translucent Nebbiolo fruit. Dark cherry, menthol, licorice, dried flowers and pine all develop in the glass. The combination of ripeness and saline-infused energy makes the Paje one of the more complete wines in this range. There is so much to admire here."
$59.98 750ml SOLD OUT
PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO 2015 'RIO SORDO'
WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "This wine usually falls somewhere in the middle of the Riserva continuum (starting with the most lithe and elegant wine and ending with the most powerful) presented by Produttori del Barbaresco in this knockout series of nine single-vineyard expressions. The 2015 Barbaresco Riserva Rio Sordo is another personal favorite. This group of Ovello, Rio Sordo, Asili and Rabaja (that sweet spot of neighboring vineyard sites in Barbaresco) is especially profound in 2015, striking a careful balance between elegance against power. The Rio Sordo offers tight and sharp fruit complete with a little tannic pinch or crunch on the close."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 96 POINTS - "Dark-skinned berry, camphor, rose and crushed stone aromas shape the nose along with a whiff of pipe tobacco. The aromas carry on to the structured, full-bodied palate along with juicy Marasca cherry and licorice. Firm, fine-grained tannins provide support. Drink 2022-2030."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 95 POINTS - "Underbrush, wild herb and dark-skinned-berry aromas form the nose along with a whiff of camphor. On the firm, structured palate, tightly knit but noble tannins offset dried Marasca cherry, cranberry, orange zest and star anise. Tense and youthfully austere, it needs a few years to unwind. Drink 2022-2027."
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "This wine is usually the most delicate, slender and ephemeral of this set. However, I can immediately confirm that this is not necessarily the case with this exuberant 2015 vintage. The sunny heat of the growing season has successfully drawn out more fruit weight and intensity in this edition of Pora. The wine overdelivers in terms of aromas, but its streamlined and polished personality follows through to the palate. Those divergent intensity levels will smooth out with more bottle age."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 97 POINTS - "Rose, red berry and star anise aromas align with earthy whiffs of forest floor and new leather. The full-bodied, delicious palate doles out succulent Morello cherry, black raspberry, licorice and chopped mint set against a backbone of firm but refined tannins. It's already gorgeous but will be even better with just a few more years of bottle age. Drink 2022-2030."
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "...shows beautifully in this sunny and warm vintage, producing intense and compelling primary fruit with wild cherry, plum and black currant. Compared to the other Riservas, the fruit profile of Muncagota is darker and richer. More significant is the role the tannins play in this wine. They contribute to a long and firm spinal cord that gives structure and muscle mass."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 97 POINTS - "Fragrant and full bodied, this structured red has enticing aromas evoking woodland berry, balsamic aromas of pine, rose petal and exotic spice. The enveloping palate delivers crushed raspberry, succulent Marasca cherry, licorice and nutmeg alongside firm, tightly knit tannins. Fresh acidity lends tension and balance. Best 2022-2027."
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The Produttori del Barbaresco 2015 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello has a very distinct character that is expressed in terms of its fine but present tannic structure and its somewhat fragile primary fruit. The Ovello dives straight into those ephemeral Nebbiolo aromas with an emphasis on licorice, tar, blue flower and campfire ash. If you consider this timeline of Riservas, this wine brings us through that magic threshold in which Nebbiolo starts to show its unique aromatic appeal and mystique."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 95 POINTS - "...dense, packed and rich. Succulent red cherry, spice, dried flowers, mint and chalky notes infuse the Ovello with striking nuance... a bit softer than it usually is. That makes the wine easier to enjoy, especially young...the 2015 Ovello is a hugely appealing wine."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 94 POINTS - "Ample and resonant on the palate, the Montestefano shows all the natural breadth that is so typical of this site. On the palate, the Montestefano is rich and explosive, with tremendous depth and fabulous overall balance. Dark cherry, plum, espresso, licorice and spice build into the dark, sumptuous finish."
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "...usually considered to be the most powerful and determined in the flight. However, when you really get down to it, this vintage is more tight, streamlined and ethereal than expected. It is saving the best for later, and indeed, the wine is poised to evolve and open fully many years from now. There is a note of shyness here or restraint. Exactly 16,036 bottles were made, and this Riserva demands patience."
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "...a stunning wine. The aromas rise from the glass with purpose, clarity and extreme definition. This is indeed a very special wine, thanks to the direct and linear quality of fruit and the elegant tannins that build the long finish. The Nebbiolo grape is elevated to a beautiful plain or plateau, where it shows off its naked beauty in a clear and unobstructed manner."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 96 POINTS - "Wild berry, violet, face powder and eucalyptus aromas lift out of the glass. On the youthfully austere, structured palate, tightly knit but noble tannins wrap around black cherry, raspberry, licorice and crushed mint. Give this a few more years to fully develop. Drink 2025-2035."
$59.98 750ml  SOLD OUT
PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO 2015 'MONTEFICO'
WINE ENTHUSIAST 96 POINTS - "Balsamic aromas of camphor and new leather mingle with scorched earth and mature black-skinned berry on this full-bodied red. Mirroring the nose, the enveloping palate delivers ripe Marasca cherry, black raspberry and licorice alongside tightly knit, fine-grained tannins before a hazelnut close."
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "...boasts a solid center of gravity with dark fruit, plum, spice and spent embers. Everything about this wine is sultry, velvety and succulent. It goes to follow that the wine's structure is more pronounced, contoured and shapely. This Riserva delivers more sheer fruit weight (in the context of the always elegant Nebbiolo grape) that is carried with grace and poise throughout."
A 94-Point Syrah Under $25, And From The Jonata Team!
Our buyer tasted this wine upon release, and was blown away by the quality of this wine for the money. Now, the review from esteemed critic Jeb Dunnuck has been released on this wine, and Jeb gave it 94 points! Seems like our buyer knows greatness when he tastes it!
Ballard Canyon is nestled smack dab in the middle of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. To the west, the cool Sta. Rita Hills AVA is an incredible spot for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. To the east, the heat that radiates off the gravelly soil in Happy Canyon is primed for Bordeaux varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. But in Ballard Canyon, the Rhone varietals take center stage. Stolpman, Beckmen, and Larner Vineyards all call this region home, with Jonata often garnering the highest scores.
Jonata and The Paring are owned by the same owner as Screaming Eagle, and while the winemaking and vineyard teams are different, they share the same attention to detail, as well as the strive for perfection. The Paring is Jonata's more value-oriented wines. These wines are made from the vineyard blocks that are either too young or don't fit into the vintage style of the highly acclaimed Jonata wines, so The Paring is essentially a "chip off the old block". They make every effort to strike a balance between volume, and texture, both direct results of the beautiful Santa Barbara sun and cool oceanic winds. The vineyards are sustainably farmed; herbicides and pesticides don't even enter the conversation.
Winemaker Matt Dees is armed with a degree in Soil Science from the University of Vermont, as well as vintages at Staglin in Napa, and Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Matt has an intrinsic feel for wine, from dirt to glass. Curious and experimental by nature, Matt's approach to winemaking is grounded in the vineyard first and foremost: attuned to the vines, the weather, the soil, Matt seems almost to be a part of the vineyard itself.
If you look at the "blueprint" for Syrahs that cost $50-$150, you would see things like: low yields, barrel aging in French oak barrels (between 30-50% of them being new), small production, and big scores. All of these features - ALL OF THEM - were implemented to make The Paring's 2017 Syrah, but this wine sells for less than $25!! This is a great wine for spareribs, beef, BBQ chicken, and hard cheeses.
THE PARING 2017 SYRAH BALLARD CANYON
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS! - "A blend of 94% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, and a splash of Viognier, the 2017 Syrah gives up a terrific bouquet of blackberries, plums, ground pepper, and meaty, earthy notes to go with a medium to full-bodied, plump, sexy style on the palate. It's beautifully done and a stunning value. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years or so. Readers looking for a great Syrah at a great price should snatch this up."
Tuscan 'Unicorn Wines' are Back in Stock!
After several heartbreaking vintages were destroyed by Mother Nature (hail, drought, disease), the "Unicorn Wines" of Le Boncie are back! This is an OC exclusive- after requesting these wines for years from the importer, we were finally able to secure an allocation of these wines to share with you again.
In the vast ocean of wines from Chianti, Giovanna Morganti and her four-hectare farm Le Boncie stand virtually alone. The daughter of an influential enologist, Giovanna pursued a similar path herself in the late 1980s, working for the highly visible San Felice estate in the hamlet of Castelnuovo Berardenga in Chianti. She followed in her Father's footsteps and became one of the greatest advocates for this beautiful region to ever live.
A few years after working as an enologist for a large estate, Giovanna's father bestowed upon her a small three-hectare parcel of land also in her beloved Castelnuovo Berardenga-raw material upon which she could create her own winery, according to her own vision, from the ground up. Indeed, rather than following all the rules she knew well as a highly trained enologist, Giovanna forged something deeply personal- poetic, even. Her project at Le Boncie is built on painstakingly natural viticulture and is guided by a spirit of intelligent low-interventionism in the cellar.
Giovanna planted mostly Sangiovese at Le Boncie-but also Colorino, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo (some of her favorite local grapes) -at an ultra-high density of 7,000 plants per hectare in her remarkably rocky alberese soil. She trained the vines in the ancient gobelet method, sacrificing productivity for expressiveness - "I get half the yield but twice the quality with gobelet," Giovanna remarks. This method also ensures her an awful lot of manual labor. In the cellar, she favors long, natural fermentations in open-top wooden casks, and aging in non-flavor-contributing oak of Slavonian and Austrian origin.
Winegrowing on such an intimate scale is a rarity in Chianti. Beyond their technical precision, Giovanna's wines convey a generosity of spirit and undeniable sense of personality. Le Boncie shows what Chianti can be at its heartfelt artisanal best.
PODERE LE BONCIE 2017 ROSSO DI TOSCANA "LE TRAME"
Giovanna's flagship wine was initially classified as a "Chianti Classico" but now is proudly labelled a "Toscana Rosso" as she wearied of the red tape and exited the appellation in 2012. Le Trame is made of almost entirely Sangiovese, head-trained and densely planted, with splashes of interplanted indigenous varieties (Colorino, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda, and Ciliegiolo). Fermented in open-top oak casks and aged in a combination of large botti and 500-liter barrels (all well used), "Le Trame" expresses powerful, punchy minerality and a purity of fruit-robustly healthy, untampered fruit-that soars from the glass. The 2017 was birthed from a rollercoaster vintage (frost, heat, drought) but drinks with silken grace, brimming with darkly dusty cherry fruit possessing a gently herbal edge, and framed by bracing acidity and palate-cleansing freshness.
Giovanna calls her second wine "Cinque," which is a funny dual reference. First, Cinque or "Five" for five grape varieties planted at Le Boncie, and second, a nod to the Italian grading system, in which a "5" (out of 10) constitutes not quite passing (Giovanna is atypically and charmingly self-effacing for a Tuscan). Giovanna ferments "Cinque" in a combination of cement and steel, with a slightly briefer maceration than "Le Trame," and ages it in large botti for roughly one year less than the flagship wine. The result is slightly less structured and gentler, but still deeply expressive of both the warm generosity of Castelnuovo Berardenga and of Giovanna's caressingly pure style. 2018 was a rainy and relatively tough growing season, but one would never know if from this wine, which is lithe, supple, and open for business even at this youthful stage.
Last of Vintage 94 Point Red Rhone Blend for $12.95!
"It's another one of those values that almost seems too good to be true." - Jeb Dunnuck
Bastide Miraflors by Domaine Lafage has been our best-selling red wine from France and one of the stores' most popular wines over the past several years. In particular, the 2016 vintage of Bastide Miraflors has been gobbled up by our customers at an astonishing rate.
Sadly, this outstanding vintage is coming to an end so we grabbed the remaining bottles from the distributor. This fantastic Rhone blend received a 94 Point score from Jeb Dunnuck and is an off the charts value.
We have written several times about how great this wine is and its unbelievable quality to price ratio. This is a full-bodied blend composed of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache. Bastide Miraflors is a rich, dark-fruited wine with silky smooth tannins made in a juicy, crowd-pleasing style.
This is a more than worthy follow-up to the email we recently sent out for Lafage Narassa, which quickly sold out. Jeb Dunnuck described this wine as "possessing a full-bodied, layered mouthfeel, sweet tannins, and sensational purity," He finishes the review by stating, "It's another one of those values that almost seems to good to be true."
This is another brilliant wine from Domaine Lafage and its importer Eric Solomon. We are thrilled to offer the remaining bottles from this vintage.
Grab the last of this fantastic wine and amazing value while you can. When it's gone, it's gone!
LAFAGE BASTIDE MIRAFLORS 2016 VIEILLES VIGNES
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "A wine that almost always over-delivers, the 2016 Cotes du Roussillon Bastide Miraflors is, I suspect, the finest vintage for this cuvee to date (it's in the same league as the off-the-charts 2015). A blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache from Lesquerde and Saint Martin de Fenouillet (both in the northern part of the Roussillon), aged all in older barrels and concrete tanks, it boasts rockstar notes of ripe blackberry fruits, spice, dried garrigue, and hints of chocolate. Possessing a full-bodied, layered mouthfeel, sweet tannins, and sensational purity, it's another one of those values that almost seems too good to be true. Drink it any time over the coming 3-4 years."
DOMAINE LAFAGE 2018 NOVELLUM CHARDONNAY
JEB DUNNUCK 91 POINTS - "Made from all Chardonnay aged on Viognier lees, the 2018 Chardonnay Novellum reveals a medium gold color as well a rich, textured style. Honeysuckle, white peach, brioche, and spice notes all flow to a rounded, textured, layered beauty that's well worth the going rate. Brought up mostly in stainless steel, with 15% in new French oak, this wine always seems to deliver the goods, and the 2018 is no exception."
Outstanding Spanish Red Drinks Way Above Its Price Point!
If ever there was a wine meant to enjoy during hot summer days, balmy nights, socially-distanced barbecues and pandemic times-- this is it!! Flor de Goda is out of the Gil Family Estates portfolio and you should be fairly familiar with this group by now-- we have sung their praises many, many times (most recently with an email in late July for the Juan Gil "Blue Label"). Why? Because they make a panoply of excellent wines at varying prices from numerous terroirs and regions in Spain, wines we believe are stellar, enjoy drinking and that have found resonance with our friends and customers here in the store. Strong their track record is (as Yoda would say).
Bodegas Morca is the winery, it has been built to be modeled after Bodegas El Nido. So every parcel, which ranges in age from 45-85 years old, and free run vs first press is fermented and aged separately so that the blends will be perfect; they make four 100% Garnacha wines ranging from El Nido/Clio level in the Touran and Morca wines, to Flor de Goda. In the case of Flor de Goda, the winemaker wanted to highlight the elegant floral and fruit notes that Campo de Borja Garnachas are known for, so they used 80% free run juice and aged the wine just 6 months in 2nd and 3rd use barrels.
In addition, this winery has been built in accordance to LEED specifications. They are still in the process of getting full certification, but at this point in time it is fully off the electrical grid (solar) and zero-waste. The Gil Family has been investing every year to get more of their wineries off the grid (total of 3 now are) to further lessen their footprint. Also, their vineyards are farmed organically-- no pesticides or herbicides are used-- however, the vineyards have not yet been certified organic. It's a long process, but that will be the direction. Also, as the vines are old and all planted in the traditional vaso (goblet) style, they are hand-harvested. All of their wines are Vegan as well.
GUIA PENIN 90 POINTS
[La Guia Penin is Spain's most famous and comprehensive wine guide. It is compiled by Jose Penin, whose impressive knowledge of international and Spanish wines has been gathered over more than 25 years as a professional wine writer and journalist.]
BODEGAS MORCA 2018 FLOR DE GODA GARNACHA
So, what about this Flor de Goda? 100% Garnacha (Grenache) from Campo de Borja, it drinks way above its price point with a multi-layered, nuanced approach. The nose exudes scents of plum, raspberry, river rock minerality, rose garden and mixed baking spices. Lovely! In the mouth, ripe, jammy fruit is kept grounded with brisk acidity and silky tannins. Beautiful flavors of cherries and berries are joined by notes of peppery spice, dark cacao and a finish filled with hints of blueberry and blackberry fruits. This is a lovely quaffer, filled with fruit but balanced by excellent structure. Big enough for the grill, balanced enough to enjoy under the summer sun.
Outstanding Bordeaux at a Great Price is Back in Stock!
We just received more of the very popular 2016 Chateau La Prade after selling out earlier in the year. Every week, customers have been calling and emailing asking us for more and this delicious wine has finally arrived.
The 2016 Chateau La Prade is a great wine to enjoy and completely over delivers for the price. Overflowing with rich, dark fruits enveloped in satiny smooth tannins, this is an easy wine to pick for your Tuesday night drinker. As you probably know by now, 2016 in Bordeaux was an exceptional vintage with well ripened fruit and exceptional balance and freshness. The beauty of the vintage is the quality extends from the higher priced Classified Growths and Grand Cru Classe's to the more reasonably priced wines. A perfect example is this wine from Chateau La Prade which received a 92+ Point score from Wine Advocate.
The review from the Wine Advocate calls this wine, "Full-bodied, rich and plushly textured, the decadent black fruit and spicy layers deliver a very long, impactful finish." This wine is every bit of that, delivering pleasure with every sip until the bottle is completely empty.
The tiny appellation of Cotes de Francs is located on the right bank of Bordeuax near its famous neighbors of St Emilion and Pomerol. The terroir of Cotes de Francs consists of clay and limestone soil, perfectly suited to Merlot which makes up the majority of the blend augmented with Cabernet Franc adding freshness and floral notes.
Nicolas Thienpont whose family owns Vieux Chateau Certan and Le Pin has made improvements to the vineyards and cellar since purchasing the estate in 2000. The grapes are harvested by hand and aged in a combination of new and older French oak. The result is a satisfying wine that completely over-delivers for the price point. In fact, we have this at the lowest price in the country.
CHATEAU LA PRADE 2016 COTES DE FRANCS
This is a great wine to stock up on while it is available. Enjoy!
WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2016 La Prade bursts boldly from the glass with notions of chocolate-covered cherries, blueberry compote and plum preserves with suggestions of eucalyptus, espresso, licorice and cedar chest plus a waft of violets. Full-bodied, rich and plushly textured, the decadent black fruit and spicy layers deliver a very long, impactful finish. This is so tempting to drink right now, but it will age beautifully."