The Arena Family of Patrimonio

   by Anthony Lynch

Antoine Arena, who some consider the historic godfather of Corsican terroir, is gradually passing the torch to his two sons. In a typically Corsican spirit of self-reliance, Antoine-Marie and Jean-Baptiste will carry on the Arena tradition through their very own domaines, having divvied up the family holdings so that each may tend to certain parcels independently. With these new arrivals, you’ll see how the two sons continue to push the envelope, ensuring that Antoine’s legacy lives on and the Arena name is forever associated with pioneering excellence in Corsican wine.

2013 Patrimonio Rouge Carco • Antoine Arena>

Antoine couldn’t bear to relinquish the storied Carco parcel, so he will continue to release the wine under his own label for the time being. This 100% Niellucciu is exactly what we love about the Arena reds: dense, chewy, driven, a bit rustic, and brimming with a wild energy that brings to mind the arid, craggy landscape of the Île de Beauté. From the hands of a Corsican legend, this beauty can be enjoyed young from an ice bucket alongside grilled fish just as it can be cellared for many years, patiently waiting to unleash its full spectrum of island flavors.

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case

2014 Vin de France Blanc “Hautes de Carco Macération” • Antoine-Marie Arena>

Hauts de Carco is perhaps the Arenas’ flagship vineyard. Sensing its potential, Antoine famously blasted away at the solid limestone and planted Vermentinu on this steep, fossil-laden plot upslope from Carco and just a stone’s throw from the sea. Today, his son Antoine-Marie explores this extreme terroir through a new lens. A one-month infusion of the juice on its skins unleashes another dimension of Malvasia, as the grape is known locally, while maintaining the salinity and herbaceous nuances typical of its terroir. Let the “Maceration” breathe and enjoy its qualities at table—Antoine-Marie served it with freshly caught, pan-seared calamari seasoned with garlic, Espelette pepper, and a dash of olive oil.

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case

2014 Muscat de Cap Corse “Grotte di Sole”
Jean-Baptiste Arena>

The Arena sons are as eager to think outside the box and execute novel ideas (see above) as they are to honor the local winemaking traditions that have come to define Corsica. One such tradition, Cap Corse’s celebrated dessert wine, represents one of the most fascinating and intriguing expressions of Muscat in the world. Talk about a sense of place: Muscat grown here seems to soak up the smells of its surroundings to give a uniquely Corsican perfume. It radiates Mediterranean sunshine, suggesting maquis wildflowers along with hints of wild mint and other herbs. Try splashing a dollop of the nectar over a seasonal fruit salad, then pour each of your guests a glass to accompany it—they are sure to be wowed.

$48.00 per bottle $518.40 per case

Introducing Davide Vignato, Domaine Pierre Guillemot, Mighty Alsace

The August Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

INTRODUCING DAVIDE VIGNATO

by Dixon Brooke

vignatoI am so grateful for having discovered this obscure region, in the volcanic basalt hills east of Soave in northern Italy’s Veneto. I have always loved Venetian whites made from the Garganega grape, and here I came upon an entirely new expression. Gambellara is like Soave but less suave—the basalt and Davide’s biodynamic viticulture give a dry, nervy, stony, citrusy expression of Garganega that is incredibly thirst-quenching and invigorating.

2013 GAMBELLARA CLASSICO “EL GIAN” >

This delicious Italian white offers refreshment, with wholly original flavors. Lemon zest, star fruit, wet stone, and white flowers all coat the palate in a bone-dry, vitalizing, and immensely enjoyable wine. Picture yourself savoring a glass to stimulate your taste buds as you prepare a meal, perhaps with some antipasti, the way you’d enjoy Fontsainte’s Gris de Gris, for example.

$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case

2010 METODO CLASSICO “CUVÉE DEi VIGNATO” >

On our quest to find you delicious, honestly made wines from well off the beaten track, this Champagne-method sparkler made from the indigenous Durella grape ought to fit the bill. You won’t believe the aromatics rising out of your glass with this one! It tastes like you have dipped a straw into the basalt terreno of the Gambellara hills and taken a big, fizzy sip. Uncommonly flinty and stony, Cuvée dei Vignato contains lovely pit fruit and a hint of acacia honey, thanks to the extended aging on the lees.

$27.00 per bottle $291.60 per case

DOMAINE PIERRE GUILLEMOT

BURGUNDIAN ELEGANCE SINCE 1947

by Julia Issleib

The members of the Guillemot family are without a doubt among the most generous people we work with. Tastings at the domaine always end with an old vintage from the ’70s, ’60s, or ’50s, and for very exceptional occasions from the 1947 vintage, the first that Pierre Guillemot bottled.

Pierre’s grandsons, Vincent and Philippe, are deeply rooted in their long family tradition but curious to learn something new, wanting to make sure to use all the tools at their disposal in order to create their assertively traditional, bright, brilliant wines.

2014 SAVIGNYLÈSBEAUNE BLANC “DESSUS LES GOLlARDES” >

If you’re lucky enough to taste at Domaine Guillemot, the tasting will invariably start with this white: current vintage first, then an unlabeled, dusty bottle covered in mold, freshly fetched from the depths of the cellar. The oldest one I’ve tasted was from 1975, and it was gorgeous—a toasted hazelnut nose, buttery richness on the palate, but still a lot of freshness. So you should buy enough to drink half now and forget the other half for a decade or more.

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

2014 BOURGOGNE ROUGE >

This could be your weekly Burgundy. It’s fresh and thirst-quenching, thanks to its beautiful minerality and red fruit aromas. After a while, notes of leather, violets, and underbrush make the wine gain in complexity and allow it to accompany your entire meal.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2014 SAVIGNY AUX SERPENTIÈRES PREMIER CRU >

The family’s flagship premier cru Serpentières vineyard stands out as a Savigny of great elegance, complexity, and profoundness. Blackberries, herbs, dark chocolate, juniper . . . all come together into a multilayered wine of beautiful balance that deserves to be aged for a few years.

$46.00 per bottle $496.80 per case

MIGHTY ALSACE >

by Dixon Brooke

2014 RIESLING “VIGNOBLE D’E”
domaine OSTERTAG >

André Ostertag’s classic Riesling bottling from his hometown of Epfig has to be one of the purest, most typical bottlings of the variety in the world. The Ostertag Ostertag-detaildomaine, founded in 1966, celebrated fifty years of history this year. André’s father handed him the keys to the family cellars when André was in his early twenties, and he taught himself how to make wine the old-fashioned way: over time, by doing. We are the beneficiaries of his patiently honed expertise.

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

2012 PINOT GRIS “FRONHOLZ”
domaine OSTERTAG >

Fronholz is typically the raciest, stoniest of the Ostertag family of Pinot Gris. From the deliciously approachable and impeccably balanced 2012 vintage, this fine-grained, ethereal example is no exception. I have been singing the praises of great Alsatian Pinot Gris a lot lately, and I don’t intend to slow down. There are currently more white Burgundy lovers than dry Alsatian Pinot Gris lovers out there, and I aim to even the score!

$54.00 per bottle $583.20 per case

2012 MUSCAT • KUENTZBAS >

Dry Muscat is one of Alsace’s most undervalued and least-known treasures, and also one of my favorite apéritifs. Try it with a bowl of fresh strawberries––it sings! Kuentz-Bas-detailDon’t run the other way when you see the word Muscat, thinking you will be buying a dessert wine. In Alsace, they grow several variations of the grape, and they specialize in producing dry wines that have the added benefit of Muscat’s beautiful and complex aromatics. It is considered a noble grape in Alsace, and the grands crus from the best sites can be some of the region’s longest-lived wines. This beauty from Kuentz-Bas doesn’t need to age another day.

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2014 RIESLING GRAND CRU “EICHBERG”
TROIS CHÂTEAUX • KUENTZBAS >

This vintage will go down in the books as a historic one for Alsatian Riesling. It has the power and intensity of 2010, but with less residual sugar and therefore even more purity. Eichberg is one of two large grands crus located below the town of Husseren-les-Châteaux, which Kuentz-Bas calls home. The other is Pfersigberg. The latter’s wines are known for finesse, while Eichberg is all about power. These are big, masculine wines that you definitely do not need to be in a hurry to consume. Samuel Tottoli at Kuentz-Bas has made some of the greatest wines in his career with his range of 2014 Trois Châteaux Rieslings. I would hate for you to miss them.

$49.00 per bottle $529.20 per case

2014 EDELZWICKER • MEYERFONNÉ >

One of my preferred house wines (especially handy since it comes in a liter-sized bottle), Meyer’s “Edel,” as they call it locally, is wonderfully balanced between fruity and dry. A custom blend every year from all the various grape varieties and terroirs that Félix Meyer works, this delightfully tasty wine has a complexity-to-price ratio that is one of the highest in the KLWM portfolio.

$18.00 per liter bottle $194.40 per case

2013 RIESLING GRAND CRU “SCHOENENBOURG”
MEYERFONNÉ >

Powerhouse intensity, concentration, kaleidoscopic flavor, unique terroir: in short, one of the great Riesling terroirs in all of northern Europe, particularly when Meyer-Fonne-detailtranslated by the talented hand of Félix Meyer. Much like the weighty clay and marl terroir itself, Schoenenbourg is heavy stuff. Only ten cases are imported into the United States every year—well, nine and a half after I get my share. Compare its price to that of a top grower’s premier cru white Burgundy and then try to develop a list of reasons not to jump all over this opportunity delivered by the current imperfection of market forces.

$54.00 per bottle $583.20 per case

How to Drink Orange Wines

The Kermit Lynch Guide to Enjoying Macerated Whites

by Anthony Lynch

The phenomenon has spread like wildfire: now on wine lists from Paris to Tokyo to New York to San Francisco, the category ORANGE appears alongside WHITE, RED, and we hope, ROSÉ. Why orange wines? In an effort to obtain a texturally and aromatically distinctive creation in a sly nod to the primitive days of vinification, producers around the world have embraced the practice of fermenting white wines on their skins to yield these so-called orange, amber, or skin-contact wines. Perhaps you curiously ordered a glass in a trendy wine bar and immediately scrunched your nose in revulsion at the flagrant stench of rotting beets, underripe apricot pit, and lukewarm compost pile. While there’s no doubt that many examples of the style come across as surprising, if not outright offensive, it is important to approach such wines with patience and open-mindedness. Before you give up on orange wines for good, take a look at our expert guide to enjoying these most unusual of fermented grape beverages.

  • Make sure there are no faults – This may seem obvious, but the number of flawed orange wines on the market should keep you on your toes. Producers of skin-fermented whites often tend toward the extreme end of the natural winemaking spectrum, and as many bottle with little or no sulfur, off-aromas are not unheard of. However, skin maceration is no excuse for oxidation, reduction, volatile acidity, or other winemaking faults—give it a sniff to ensure it is clean so you do not waste your time trying to understand a wine that is downright screwed up.
  • Give it air – Like red wines, macerated whites possess tannins that may need time to soften. Additionally, unfiltered wines may contain lees (dead yeast cells left over from fermentation) in addition to these tannins—both substances that protect wine from oxygenation, and can favor the development of slightly unpleasant reductive aromas. Fetch a decanter or plan to open the bottle an hour or two beforehand in order to allow the aromas to blossom and let otherwise grippy tannins resolve. Remember, you may even find it tastes best on day two or three.
  • Don’t serve it too cold – Macerated wines are more structured than typical whites, so serving them cold will make their tannins appear hard and astringent. Instead, aim for a cool room temperature.
  • Find the right pairing – While these are certainly fascinating wines to analyze and dissect, they are not meant for casual sipping or quaffing by any means. On the other hand, they offer countless opportunities at table: with the weight and structure of a red wine but flavors closer aligned with the white-wine world, they lend themselves to many unexpected and often tricky pairings. Finding the right one could be the difference between a dud bottle and the revelation of your wine life. Here are some suggestions:
    •   Earthy dishes (bitter greens, mushrooms, root vegetables, etc.)
    •   Fatty fish and seafood (tuna, salmon, sea urchins)
    •   Anything with tentacles
    •   Simply prepared white meats
    •   Patés and terrines
    •   Aged cheeses (but not too strong)

We have two macerated whites in stock at the moment:

2014 VIN DE FRANCE BLANC “HAUTS DE CARCO MACERATION” • ANTOINE-MARIE ARENA >

In the Corsican cru of Patrimonio, Antoine-Marie Arena sources these grapes from his family’s striking Hauts de Carco parcel, a steep limestone hillside littered with huge stones and marine fossils. A one-month “infusion” of the cap extracts color, aromatics, and depth from the native Vermentinu grape, known locally as Malvasia. Saline and herbaceous, it is a new lens through which we can appreciate this great Mediterranean terroir.

$39.00 per bottle $421.12 per case

2014 VIN DE FRANCE BLANC • DOMAINE LÉON BARRAL >

Didier Barral of Faugères allows this unusual blend of mainly Terret and Terret Gris to macerate for three days in his ancient wooden basket press. After a spontaneous fermentation, the wine ages in stainless steel and is bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfur. Its fleshiness and textural singularity will incite a tactile revolution on your palate.

$48.00 per bottle $518.40 per case

BUY BOTH WINES

AND RECEIVE 10% OFF >

A Fresh New Sound from Bordeaux

by Anthony Lynch

2014 POMEROL “POM’N’ROLL”
CHÂTEAU GOMBAUDE-GUILLOT >

Bordeaux is typically not a wine that makes you want to shake, rattle, or roll. But that’s about to change, thanks to this new cuvée from Olivier Techer, the youngster running things at Gombaude-Guillot. His idea is to take out the components that make Bordeaux uncool—heavy oak, big tannins, and the pursuit of high scores—leaving just vivid fresh fruit and suave tannins in a radically drinkable expression of this pedigreed terroir. This is Pomerol like we’ve never seen before: delicious, unpretentious, with its hair let down and the amp turned up. Decant it if you’ve got time, then pour yourself a glass and move to the rhythm.

GombaudeGuillot

The Organic Vineyards of Gombaude-Guillot                          ©Gombaude-Guillot

July Newsletter: New Arrivals Corsica, Rosé Time Continues, François Rousset-Martin

The July Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

NEW ARRIVALS FROM CORSICA >

by Chris Santini

2013 MONTE BIANCO ROUGE
DOMAINE comte ABBATUCCI

I hate to make bold claims, but I gotta say that this is the single greatest pure Sciaccarellu I’ve ever tasted. Once seen as quaint and a bit of a novelty, Sciaccarellu is finally getting its due respect. Monte Bianco has a complexity and subtlety that could rival the greatest Burgundy, and with a strong sense of Mediterranean place. Growers everywhere should take note: in this age of our warming planet, don’t forget the grapes native to your land, as they are best suited to cope. Corsica, as you can imagine, is HOT in the summertime, with little rain. You’d think such weather would be a recipe for jammy and overripe wines, but not with Abbatucci, and not with Sciaccarellu. Don’t call it a comeback—Sciaccarellu has been here for years (millennia, actually). Its DNA is adapted and ready for whatever summer sends its way. It’s learned to live in harmony with the other native flora and benefit from them, too. Then add biodynamic farming to the mix, and voilà! Monte Bianco is incredibly fresh and compelling, with a minimalist structure more akin to a northern climate. If you want to see the new heights Sciaccarellu can attain, this is it right here.

$89.00 per bottle

(Sold Out)

2015 FAUSTINE rosé “vieilles vignes”
DOMAINE comte ABBATUCCI >

Get some of this Sciaccarellu in its rosé form while you can. Every year we beg for more from the estate, and they tell us no. Faustine is no mass-production rosé; it’s from parcels adapted specifically and exclusively for rosé. The result is steeped in terroir.

 

$35.00 per bottle $378.00 per case

2015 ROUGE FRAIS IMPÉRIAL
DOMAINE comte ABBATUCCI >

The third and final declination of Sciaccarellu is in this deliberately overcropped, high-acid, light red form. As the label implies, drink it chilled! This perfect summer rouge is made for the ice bucket. There’s a lot of talk these days about red wines made via extraction of grapes versus reds made via infusion of grapes. Here is the textbook version, and showpiece, of the elegance and light touch of the infusion approach.

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

2013 CORSE CALVI ROUGE “E PROVE”
DOMAINE MAESTRACCI >

Once you’ve emptied the rouge frais from the ice bucket and are looking to follow up with a little something to sink your teeth into, this is it. While full of wild Corsican brush aromatics, E Prove contains plenty of juice and sunshine, too. Don’t worry, though, about it going over the top, since it has been tamed for more than two years of aging in large oak casks and is released when ready for your table. I call this rouge the quintessential pairing for hearty Mediterranean dishes.

$22.00 per bottle  $237.60 per case

2014 PATRIMONIO ROUGE “CRU DES AGRIATE”
DOMAINE GIACOMETTI >

From out in the middle of the barren scrublands Corsicans call their desert comes one of the best values you can find for this quality of Corsican rouge. It’s no simple wine, though; it’s just that this domaine is still under the radar and hasn’t attained the star status of some of its neighbors . . . yet. This vintage marks the first year of organic conversion for the estate, too. Get in on it before you-know-what happens.

$19.95 per bottle $215.46 per case

ROSÉ TIME CONTINUES

by Clark Z. Terry

2015 PIC SAINT LOUP ROSÉ
ERMITAGE DU PIC SAINT LOUP >

Out of the five Languedoc rosés we have in stock at this moment, this is my pick to take home. It has some stiff competition, as Languedoc rosé delivers incredible value, but the Ravaille brothers of Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup have the touch and terroir to take their wines up a notch. Notes of apricot and garrigue stand out at first taste, but what draws me in is the weight, or perhaps the gravity, of the wine on the palate—it’s mouth-coating and lingering, multilayered and ever evolving. You can taste it long after you’ve finished the glass. All that for just 16 bucks!

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

2015 CHINON ROSÉ • CHARLES JOGUET >

We have imported the Joguet rosé since the 1970s, but it still flies under the radar, overshadowed by the apparent sexiness of basically any rosé that comes from the south of France. Refreshment is needed in the north, too, far from the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean. They have rivers in the Loire, so grab a bottle of Chinon for the next time you plan a picnic next to a stream. Smoked trout, paté, or a Loire chèvre with a crusty baguette will pair quite nicely with this juicy Cab Franc rosé.

$20.00 per bottle $216.00 per case

2015 BANDOL ROSÉ
DOMAINE DE LA TOUR DU BON >

Peace and Love. That’s what Agnès Henry, vigneronne at Tour du Bon, will tell you her domaine is all about. Mind you, her property isn’t some hippy commune (but there is a bed-and-breakfast if you’d like to visit). Peace and love for the earth is what she means, from the untamed flower garden that greets you to organic treatments for the vines, and keeping the property’s hilltop forest instead of putting in more vines.

Her 2015 rosé is lithe, delicate, and fresh. Aromas of rosemary and summer peaches couple with pure enjoyment. You’ll find it is best to drink this wine in a garden with a peaceful someone you love.

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

                                                                                     

Rose-with-mussels © Gail Skoff

FRANÇOIS ROUSSET-MARTIN

a new jurassic phenom

by Dixon Brooke

2014 CÔTES DU JURA CHARDONNAY
“LA CHAUX” >

This Chardonnay comes from Savagnin country, namely the steep limestone slopes below the village of Château Chalon. This bottling reminds me a bit of Savagnin Vert, a green-skinned version of the grape that is rarely bottled separately. It is racy, with a distinct taste of lime and a pleasant bitter edge. But La Chaux is Chardonnay, after all, and its ample mouthfeel and pleasant fruitiness offset the force of terroir that is Château Chalon. Only two barrels produced!

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case

2014 CÔTES DU JURA CHARDONNAY
“TERRES BLANCHES” >

Named after its terroir of white marl or “white earth,” this beautifully detailed Jurassic Chardonnay is made in the ouillé or topped-up style (as is the La Chaux above), meaning the barrels are topped off with wine as the wine evaporates, rather than left underneath a thin veil of yeast (sous voile) that causes the wine to gently oxidize over time. This latter technique is more typical historically in the Jura. Why the ouillé technique has not been employed more frequently has always mystified me, given the unbelievable geological complexity underlying the vineyards of the Jura that can be beautifully translated by the vine and is often masked with sous voile. As intriguingly delicious as the sous voile wines can be (we offer one magnificent example here), these ouillé wines offer more approachability (in taste and price) and a wider variety of possibilities at table.

Terres Blanches is produced from forty- to fifty-year-old vines in the village of Lavigny. Aromatically very fresh, the bottling hints of beeswax on the palate, and the finish is dominated by a strong, stony goût de terroir. With it, I’ll take the rabbit terrine.

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case

Chateau-Colon Château Chalon                                                   © Dixon Brooke

2013 CÔTES DU JURA SAVAGNIN
“CUVÉE DU PROFESSEUR—SOUS ROCHE” >

Here we have a Savagnin made in the ouillé style from late-harvest grapes that were just beginning to show a purple tinge (Savagnin is related to Gewurztraminer, and both grapes deliver hauntingly complex aromas and flavors at this stage). The equilibrium of this wine is startling: rich, layered, and complex, it is high in concentration and low in alcohol. It has a touch of sweetness in the center and finishes with a salty, dry tang that is uniquely Jurassien. “Sous Roche” refers to the location of this vineyard “under the rock” outcropping that supports Château Chalon above, one of the Jura’s grands crus for Savagnin.

$44.00 per bottle $475.20 per case

2008 CÔTES DU JURA SAVAGNIN
“CLOS BACCHUS SOUS VOILE 7 ANS” >

The Clos Bacchus is another one of the Jura’s most reputed terroirs for Savagnin. We offered the ouillé version of this vineyard in April with the 2013 Veine Bleue de Bacchus. Imagine if that dry, lemony, saline wine had been left to age in barrel for another five years sous voile. Well, you don’t have to imagine, because this is what it tastes like. Honey and musk emerge from the glass in a deeply complex mélange that is reminiscent of yellow chartreuse. On the palate it is a different animal entirely, with salty comté cheese rind and high treble acidity, finishing with a suggestion of toasted walnuts. I highly recommend finishing off a nice dinner party with a bottle of this and a platter of the Jura’s great cheeses.

$74.00 per bottle $799.20 per case

Northern Rhône

 

by Dixon Brooke

2014 CROZES HERMITAGE “TIERCEROLLES”
BARRUOL / LYNCH >

The collaboration between Louis Barruol of Gigondas and Kermit continues to evolve, and if these most recent releases are a sign of the direction this project will take in the future, we are in for a real treat. As quality-seeking merchants with firm ideas about what Crozes and Côte-Rôtie should taste like, we have open minds, noses, and palates that have led us to Louis’s doorstep—in Gigondas, of all places. What we have here is a winning partnership. Pay attention to this Crozes cuvée: all of the fruit is sourced from the prized hillside terroirs of the appellation. These hillsides represent a very small percentage of its planted surface and bear more resemblance to Hermitage than Crozes Hermitage and Côtes-du-Rhône. You’ll find the classic northern Rhône Syrah floral aromatics, a texture of velvet, and a wine of class, finesse, and complexity.

$35.00 per bottle $378.00 per case

2013 CÔTE RÔTIE “LA BOISSELÉE”
BARRUOL / LYNCH >

Stepping up a bit to the “Roasted Slope,” La Boisselée is a proprietary cuvée whose blend changes from year to year based on whatever tastes best. In 2013 the wine was sourced exclusively from the lieu-dit of Le Plomb, a mica-schist terroir north of Ampuis, above Nève and Viallère. The aroma of well-made Côte-Rôtie (stems included) is unmistakable. When you smell it, you wonder whether the appellation was named for the sunbaked slopes or the wine’s roasted aroma; suggestions of charred meat and sometimes coffee are usually present. Floral perfumes are also typical, especially white lilies. On the palate, this wine is ample, with a full, mouth-filling texture, and the tannins are smooth as silk—the sun gets the best of the earth. As good as La Boisselée is now, it will be glorious in ten years.

$79.00 per bottle $853.20 per case

northern_rhone

2014 SAINT JOSEPH ROUGE • LIONEL FAURY >

This is without a doubt one of my favorite red wines in our entire portfolio. I like its medium body and its corresponding versatility at table. I like its reasonable price and its consistent ability to over-deliver, both young and old. Here are a few more appropriate adjectives, without delving into the aroma wheel: pretty, sleek, gutsy, smart, polished, and fit. Above all, this wine puts pleasure first, yet does so in a way that makes you thoughtfully take notice. It has presence. There are many other wines as good for the price but none better.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

“Joyous” Gigondas

  by Chris Santini

For me, it’s no surprise—legend has it that Gigondas derived its name many moons ago from jucunda, Latin for “joyous.” I personally associate Gigondas with many joyous occasions, beginning back in the 1980s when as a kid I would accompany my father on trips there, where he would purchase the fresh vintage in bulk, which we would then bottle ourselves by hand. Later, in the 1990s, my siblings and I figured out how to dismantle the lock on the cellar door and empty said bottles over a few (quite joyous) days. How can I forget the 1999 Les Pallières I cracked open ten years ago the day Kermit hired me here in Beaune? Of course, I still recall the palpable excitement and joy in the cellar of Les Pallières back in 2008, tasting through the 2007 vintage with Kermit and the Brunier brothers, the day the code of Pallières terroir was finally cracked and the decision made to bottle “Terrasse du Diable” and “Les Racines” as two distinct cuvées.

A joyous wine, like a joyous person, is one that is bien dans sa peau, as the French say, “comfortable in one’s skin.” Gigondas is small enough, far enough off the radar, to be able to pay no heed to trends and fashions. In neighboring Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example, with a reputation and a price tag that allow no room for disappointment, winemakers have often turned to consultants to help make wines sure to please the public’s taste of the day. Gigondas, with a loyal and long-term following, can just carry on as usual. Who doesn’t like a little bit of joy in their glass?

The two cuvées from Les Pallières showcase the two facets of Gigondas that have produced such loyalty and transcended changes in taste over the centuries. The Terrasse du Diable is all about the marked minerality and freshness of higher-elevation vineyards, planted in the fallen rocks from the 200-million-year-old Dentelles de Montmirail that tower above. The Les Racines cuvée displays the silky, deep, complex expression of old-vine Gigondas, which is planted around the house, chapel, and winery. The 2014 vintage offers exceptional balance, plenty of violet, lavender, and licorice-infused tannins, and, as always, an abundance of joy.

per case

2014 Gigondas “Les Racines” >

$480.00

2014 Gigondas “Terrasse du Diable” >

480.00

Pre-arrival terms: Half-payment due with order;
balance due upon arrival.

June Newsletter: 2015 Rosés, Premier Cru Burgundy, & Juicy Italian Values

The June Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

88-4353

HERE THEY COME
THE 2015 ROSÉS >

by Julia Issleib

Along with fresh strawberries and white asparagus, rosé is what I most look forward to when early summer rolls around. From north to south, here are six pink favorites of ours that will bring sunshine to your glass, no matter the weather.

2015 BANDOL ROSÉ • DOMAINE TEMPIER >

Tempier_Rose_15_hi_resYes, this is TEMPIER! But you shouldn’t drink it because of its name, its label, its reputation, or because some say it’s “the best rosé in the world.” You should drink it because it’s just damn good. The nose is zingy, mineral, and full of pink grapefruit. On the palate, the fruitiness of crushed raspberries and a round finish reminiscent of licorice root complement each other to create a complete, delicious rosé. The complexity will allow it to age beautifully, so do yourself a favor and hide a few bottles away for a few years.

$42.00 per bottle $453.60 per case

2015 REUILLY PINOT GRIS
DOMAINE DE REUILLY >

The 2015 vintage gives it a bit more power and color, but this Pinot Gris is still its typical pale, light, floral, fresh self. In a blind tasting, creamy apricots on a foundation of stony minerality might mislead you into thinking it’s a white wine. Pure and elegant—this is a rosé that is all about terroir.

$20.00 per bottle $216.00 per case

2015 BEAUJOLAIS VILLAGES ROSÉ
CHÂTEAU THIVIN >

If you like Beaujolais, you will love this rosé—it is just as satisfying as its red brother! On days when even chilled Beaujolais might not be refreshing enough, turn to this balanced and delicate bottling. Full malo, by the way.

$18.95 per bottle $204.66 per case

2015 TAVEL
CHÂTEAU DE TRINQUEVEDEL >

One of France’s oldest AOCs, Tavel only produces rosé. Leave it to their expertise to ensure that even in a sun-filled vintage like 2015 their characteristically dark-colored wine maintains plenty of finesse. The nose is beautifully intense, reminiscent of freesias and cooked strawberries. Plum, notes of iron, and herbs combine into a palate of similar intensity, making this a rosé that deserves a meal to stand next to it.

$18.95 per bottle $204.66 per case

2015 CABRIÈRES ROSÉ “PRÉMICES”
CHÂTEAU DES DEUX ROCS >

Scents of dried rosemary transport you to the hills of Languedoc, where Jean-Claude Zabalia works some of the highest-elevation vineyards of the region. Thanks to Cabrières’s schist soils, Prémices has plenty of minerality. A pink wine with some backbone, it has enough oomph to partner up with aromatic dishes from the south of France as well as more exotic fare. Experimentation is highly recommended.

$14.95 per bottle $161.46 per case

2015 PATRIMONIO ROSÉ • YVES LECCIA >

ETI DNE D'E CROCE ROSÉ 2The Mediterranean is only a few kilometers away from Patrimonio, and its influence is flagrant in Yves Leccia’s wines. This rosé is no exception—along with notes of Corsican maquis, it showcases a salinity that makes your mouth water and will have you reaching for a second glass. Pair it with grilled fish or a few slices of saucisson and you’ll be daydreaming of the Île de Beauté . . .

$28.00 per bottle $302.40 per case

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PREMIER CRU BURGUNDY >

by Dixon Brooke

2013 ALOXE-CORTON 1ER CRU
“CLOS DU CHAPITRE” • FOLLIN-ARBELET >

It is hard to think of anyone making more compelling, classic, archetypical red Burgundy than Franck Follin. I’m amazed, Franckly, that we have any of his wine available to sell. Aloxe-Corton is a wine of breed and needs time to develop, so it is not necessarily an easy wine. Franck is wonderfully suited to the task. Thoughtful, unaffected, calm on the surface—but calm waters can run deep, and he has a passion for his craft. His quiet intensity and ability to focus and block out all noise deliver the type of sensational Burgundian experience that we all dream of.

$76.00 per bottle $820.80 per case

2013 SANTENAY ROUGE 1ER CRU
“LE PASSETEMPS” • JEAN-MARC VINCENT >

Jean-Marc seems to have found the key to unlocking more finesse in the rustic, full-bodied, coarse wines of Santenay: Stems! His past few vintages have shown an ethereal side and a smoothness of tannin to go along with the trademark Vincent style of fleshy, layered, concentrated Burgundy that makes a larger-than-life impression. The wine is gregarious, much like its maker.

$57.00 per bottle $615.60 per case

2012 MEURSAULT-BLAGNY 1ER CRU
“LA GENELOTTE” • COMTESSE DE CHÉRISEY >

Ancient vines, a high-altitude limestone vineyard, a low-yielding vintage that delivered concentrated wines, long and slow aging in oak in a deep stone cellar dug into the hillside . . . all the makings for an explosive Meursault-Blagny. Another world from the golden slopes just below, Meursault-Blagny is only produced from the vineyards around the Hameau de Blagny, a village founded by Cistercian monks in the twelfth century. They ventured high on the hill below the forest in a search for solace from the town’s bustle. Actually, it was for the quality of the soil. Meursault up here is very stony, and built for the long haul. A mature bottle is simply magical. While not fully mature, this 2012 is wide open and a marvel to enjoy today.

$92.00 per bottle $993.60 per case

JUICY ITALIAN VALUES >

by Anthony Lynch

2014 VALTÈNESI “LA BOTTE PIENA”
LA BASIA >

The local Groppello grape stars in this delightful, quaffable red from the shores of Lake Garda. Beyond being a lot of fun to say, Groppello offers a light-bodied frame and energetic, bright fruit flavors that provide the elemental pleasure we seek in wine. At the estate, it was served alongside fettuccine tossed with fragrant porcini mushrooms and a sprinkle of chopped parsley, but this is truly a vino da tutto pasto: a red you can pop open for whatever reason you damn want.

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

2014 DOLCETTO DI DIANO D’ALBA
“SÖRÌ CRISTINA” • IL PALAZZOTTO >

For a red of such a dark, inky purple hue, it’s amazing how smooth it goes down. This Dolcetto has no lack of guts, but its structure does not prevent it from being utterly gulpable. A perfume of violets and generous, juicy fruit make Palazzotto’s Dolcettos some of the most scrumptious, easygoing additions to our portfolio as of late. Bottled unfiltered for your drinking pleasure.

$16.95 per bottle $183.06 per case

2014 BARBERA D’ALBA SUPERIORE
“CASCINA DARDI” • A. & G. FANTINO >

73409_ET Barbera Alba Sup 2014 Usa-VECTORBarbera’s versatility and flat-out deliciousness mean it is always a good idea to have a bottle or two on hand. That is especially the case when it comes from an established producer like the Fantino brothers of Monforte d’Alba. These seasoned Barolistas farm sixty-year-old Barbera vines planted in a privileged site alongside their finest Nebbiolo, giving a red priced for everyday that bears the mark of its fine terroir. The cool 2014 vintage presents a lively, zesty Barbera with abundant fresh red fruits and a texture that makes it hard to say no to another glass.

$21.00 per bottle $226.80 per case

May Newsletter: Transcendent de Villaine, Quintarelli New Arrivals, & Top Oyster Wines

The May Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

DeVillaine_BANNER_blog
A. & P. DE VILLAINE

CÔTE CHALONNAISE TRANSCENDence

by Dixon Brooke

2014 BOUZERON >

Pierre de Benoist has crafted a masterful and irresistible Aligoté in what is turning out to be a fabulous vintage for white Burgundy. There is its subtly finessed nose with a very fine notion of creaminess and a wonderfully vivacious personality. Then on the palate it is mineral and suave at the same time—its fine-grained texture is wrapped seamlessly with viscosity. This may truly be the perfect wine for crustaceans. It’s even better than that: it is one of Burgundy’s greatest Aligotés, a fitting tribute to a long and storied history of this beguiling grape in Burgundy, and a wine that provides intrigue and pleasure young, old, and in between.

$32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

2014 RULLY blanc “LES SAINT-JACQUES” >

The richest white Burgundy in the de Villaine stable, this Rully is an exercise in balance. Hazelnut and quince paste greet the nose, followed by a dense mouthful of ripe, succulent yellow fruits. Despite its voluptuousness, the wine is dry, fresh, very stony, and even salty—mouthwateringly delicious. This vintage is magnificent for Les Saint-Jacques, and ample proof of the high quality of terroir in this southern stronghold of Burgundy. The fact that it isn’t premier cru, well, that’s proof of a talented grower, because it sure does taste like it.

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

2014 BOURGOGNE CÔTE CHALONNAISE rouge
“LA DIGOINE”
>

La Digoine is the first wine I think of—after the Bouzeron, of course—when I think of Domaine de Villaine. The name itself exudes aristocratic class. This noble red Burgundy has always drunk well above its price. It has been produced since the 1973 vintage, and an overwhelming majority of those vintages are still drinking well. To smell it is to know it: noir, peppery, mysterious; these characteristics are a constant. La bouche is masculine and sinewy, very pure, with a beautiful noble tannin and excellent finish. Our longtime clients buy this with the same confidence that they buy Chevillon, Guillemot, and Thivin. I know I don’t want a hole in my vertical and plan on doing the same!

$48.00 per bottle $518.40 per case

2014 MERCUREY rouge “LES MONTOTS” >

What, Les Montots isn’t a premier cru? And here I was humming along for years thinking I understood the origin of its transcendent finesse and ability to be both powerful and featherweight. It is easy to forget that it isn’t a premier cru—or, frankly, that any of the de Villaine wines aren’t. The finesse of the nose alone is somewhat overwhelming. This wine really impressed me at the domaine this past fall. It truly has it all. The palate is fabulously silky, and I couldn’t get over the quality of the tannins. I wrote that down several times. I say you can book this wine into the record book of fine, perfect tannins.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case

Grape-vine-illo

Since time immemorial, the human striving for feeling has in fact had one means ready at hand, one drug, one intoxicant, that belongs to the classic gifts of life and bears the stamp of the simple and the holy, and thus is no vice—one means of stature, if I may put it that way. Wine—the gods’ gift to man, as the humanistic peoples of antiquity claimed, the philanthropic invention of a god who is in fact associated with civilization, if I may be permitted the allusion. For we learn that it is thanks to the art of planting and pressing the grape that man emerged from his savage state and achieved culture. And even today nations where the grape grows are considered, or consider themselves, more cultured than wineless Cimmerians—a most remarkable fact. For it asserts that culture is not a matter of reason and well-articulated sobriety, but rather is bound up with enthusiasm, with intoxication, and the sense of regalement.

—Hans Castorp, from Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

Quintarelli_Banner_blog

QUINTARELLI

by Dixon Brooke

2012 PRIMOFIORE >

Primofiore doesn’t meet the lofty aging standards of the Quintarellis for Valpolicella, since they prefer to release their Valpolicella with eight to ten years of cask and bottle age. Still, it would be hard to argue that this wine didn’t meet and exceed the expectations of Valpolicella for any other mortal. Just think of it as an opportunity to drink a younger Quintarelli Valpolicella that is not made with the ripasso technique. A ripe and juicy nose of dried grapes is the first thing you’ll notice after admiring its deep purple color. This 2012 is a beautifully balanced effort with substantial tannin and acidity, great spine, and a nuanced finish packed with a plethora of spices.

$59.00 per bottle $637.20 per case

2007 ROSSO “CÀ DEL MERLO” >

The wines of Quintarelli are more a celebration of a region and its history and techniques than of specific grape varieties or terroirs. They are really more about the art of the blend, the patience of extended aging in cask and bottle, and the use of appassimento and ripasso techniques to further enhance complexity and age-worthiness. That’s why Cà del Merlo as a single-vineyard expression is a bit of an anomaly. Rather than being a single-vineyard wine, it is the opportunity for the Quintarellis to have a little more freedom with the blend outside of the school of Valpolicella. Always more primary than the Valpolicella, it showcases dark, palate-staining fruit that one must marvel at, given the wine’s age. Cà del Merlo is succulent and luscious, balanced beautifully by the imprint of the stony limestone and basalt hills on which the grapes are grown.

$89.00 per bottle $961.20 per case

2007 VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE >

There isn’t much to add to the words Quintarelli Valpolicella Superiore other than perhaps a few notes about the vintage. This is very serious stuff. In comparing it to recent vintages, it is 2006-ish but more closed, regal, poised, and spiced; it seems a lot younger than the 2006 did upon release. Compared to 2005, there is more stuffing here. It has more finesse than the bulky, concentrated 2004. Long, fine, and compact, it has everything to go the distance. In short, it challenges 2003 for the vintage of the decade.

$89.00 per bottle $961.20 per case

November-oysters-blog

TOP OYSTER WINES

by Anthony Lynch

2014 MUSCADET CÔTES DE GRAND LIEU SUR LIE
“LE CLOS DE LA BUTTE” • ÉRIC CHEVALIER >

A crisp, steely Muscadet like this is indeed the perfect match for oysters, but not only oysters. It comes from a plot of fifty-year-old vines, naturally bestowing additional concentration and viscosity to widen the range of culinary possibilities. Try it with spring asparagus with a squeeze of lemon, young goat cheeses, or any number of minimally prepared shellfish. Its salinity and palate-cleansing acidity allow for countless pairings beyond oysters, although this classic combination remains admittedly euphoric.

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

2015 BORDEAUX BLANC • CHÂTEAU DUCASSE >

Nobody buys Bordeaux anymore because, as we all know, the wines are overpriced oak-bombs made by pretentious enologists in tailored designer suits. Right? Wrong! Make no mistake, Hervé Dubourdieu is quite a snazzy dresser, but his personality and wines are about as down-to-earth as can be. His Ducasse blanc remains one of the benchmark values of our portolio, this crisp Semillon/Sauvignon/Muscadelle blend continuing to punch above its price point. The 2015 vintage brings an extra bit of exuberant fruit to go with its habitual mineral snappiness, all delivered with Hervé’s trademark jazzy flair.

$16.00 per bottle $172.80 per case

2014 CHABLIS 1ER CRU “FOURCHAUME”
ROLAND LAVANTUREUX >

In his comprehensive work The Wines of Burgundy, Clive Coates ranks Fourchaume as one of Chablis’ top premiers crus alongside Montée de Tonnerre, consistently flirting with grand cru quality. He points out the parcel’s proximity and similar exposure to the grand cru vineyards, adding that Fourchaume tends to produce “rich and plump” wines. This stellar 2014 features generous flesh enveloping a wiry core, with a flinty edge that leads to a satisfyingly creamy finish. This is premier cru Chablis at its mouthwatering best.

$40.00 per bottle $432.00 per case

Saint-Aubins from Domaine Larue

Didier-Larue-photo

SAINT-AUBIN

by Kermit Lynch

Long-timers might remember how from the start I looked in all the nooks and crannies for bargain white Burgundies. I needed them for myself and for some of you. The Montagny from Jean Vachet was a huge success, for example. I was also struck by the potential at Saint-Aubin. I visited several domaines over the years—something kept clicking for me and bringing me back—yet never found a source that inspired my confidence. Pity. When Saint-Aubin succeeds, it makes one of white Burgundy’s most charming wines.

About five years ago I wrote to Antoine Jobard and Coche-Dury urging them to look for Saint-Aubin vines to purchase. Damned if Jobard didn’t do it! Try his someday (if ever one is left in stock).

In a Paris restaurant last year, I ordered a Saint-Aubin from Domaine Larue. There it was—my idea of what a Saint-Aubin should act like and what it should cost. I hope you are as charmed by their delicious Saint-Aubins as I am.

DOMAINE LARUE

by Dixon Brooke

2014 SAINT-AUBIN 1ER CRU “LES COMBES” >

The climat of Les Combes sits at the edge of Chassagne-Montrachet, in its cooler, very stony northeastern sector, where you’ll find some of our favorite Chassagnes like Les Chaumées and Les Vergers. Bright and chiseled, this beauty rides a razor’s edge of crushed limestone.

$39.00 per bottle $421.20 per case

2014 SAINT-AUBIN 1ER CRU “LES CORTONS” >

This climat sits next to Saint-Aubin’s En Remilly on its northern side, facing west. Compared to Les Combes, it is fatter and more generous, with a beautiful finish of fossilized stone. This is textbook Saint-Aubin and a classic rendering of the Larue house style.

$42.00 per bottle $453.60 per case

2014 SAINT-AUBIN 1ER CRU “EN REMILLY” >

The tiny climat of Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru En Remilly borders Chevalier-Montrachet. The vineyard expands and continues as it crosses over into the appellation of Saint-Aubin, all the while maintaining the same exposition and soil type. Here, we sense a significant step up in appellation hierarchy: gorgeous noble nose, ample body, great grain and structure, erect and forthright. Both this and the wine below are eight- to ten-year candidates for your cellar.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case

2014 SAINT-AUBIN 1ER CRU
“MURGERS DES DENTS DE CHIEN” >

The most prized terroir of Saint-Aubin, Les Murgers sits above En Remilly and curves south to southeast, sharing the same exposition and altitude as Puligny-Montrachet premier cru Les Champs Gains. It sits between twenty and sixty meters directly above Chevalier-Montrachet. Picture a brighter, higher-altitude version of this storied grand cru! A firm nose leads to a beautiful richness on the palate, then a finish with a persistent and mighty stony grip. The longest ager of the Larue stable, this is a real thoroughbred that you should classify along with the great premiers crus of Chassagne, Puligny, and Meursault.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case