Posted on Jan 28, 2015 by Wine Guild.
First off, I realize that there are some new faces out there, and they are probably seeing their first [DEFCON] pick from the Guild. Here’s a little explanation: we taste a lot of wine every week. Our few favorites end up in these offers and on the shelves at the Guild HQ. Awhile back, however, we thought, “how do we distinguish the truly amazing wines/deals without just draping the description in gushing hyperbole?” The [DEFCON] label was our answer. Truth be told, in our nearly eight (yes, it’s been that long) years of Guilding, we’ve only used the designation a handful of times, and these wines represent the best of the best – not just in terms of pure greatness, but more in terms of what you’re getting for your dollar. So, you’re not likely to see DRC or Guigal’s LaLa in these emails – ours are a bit more affordable – but just understand that these are the deals that you’d be a fool to pass up.
Now, on to today’s DEFCON: This is the Philippe Leclerc Bourgogne “les Bons Batons” 2011. This wine is not new to some of you, nor to me. We bought a handful of cases of the 2010 vintage back in late ’13 at Will Richey’s urging, and it quickly turned into a house-favorite Burgundy for a bunch of us. In fact, I’ve somehow had the discipline to hang onto a few bottles and had one not long ago – it is aging like a pro, and still has plenty of life to it. But then we had the opportunity to try the 2011 as soon as it came in last week…and damned if it’s not fighting the 2010 for its spot!
Philippe is located in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, and that influence is obvious on this entry-level offering. It has muscle, weight and expression that you simply don’t see in Bourgognes at this price anymore. This is what I loved about $18-20 Bourgognes ten years ago, but nowadays, it seems like a lot of them (unless you like spending $30) are wispy haute-cotes-ish husks. This stuff, though: it’s meaty for a Bourgogne, yet still elegant and feminine.
Even on day two, the fruit is ripe and juicy, and a bit candied. It seems, even at this young age, more luxurious than a wine of this level is capable of. Under the initial layer of ruby fruit, you’re first met with garrigue-ey herbs/spices, like sage, thyme and pepper. This persists quite a bit, actually, and is surrounded by some savory aromas, toasty oak, perhaps even a bit of caramel. This nose is broad, and giving, and, well, it just makes you happy to be alive! The palate, much like with the previous vintage, is a gleaming beacon of structure: bright, fresh red fruit up front; the mid-palate has the aforementioned weight and power and savory/herbal notes; the finish/edges of the wine consist of pliable tannins and assertive-but-balanced acidity. It ends on a very long note of fleeting flowers and fruits and spices, and is ultimately a tremendously satisfying and gratifying wine.
This is drinking wonderfully now, but trust me when I say it has the structure, the backbone of acidity, the power and substance to keep improving for half a decade or more. The fact that the 2010 is still a baby is testament to that. And…the price…I mean, come on.
So, here’s the point in the DEFCON schtick where I eschew the breathless hyperbole and just drop the mic. Buy this wine. Lots of it. Thank me later. G’night!
Philippe Leclerc Bourgogne ‘les Bons Batons’ 2011
Member Prices: Grand Cru: $20.71 || Premier Cru: $21.65
Typical Retail: $28.00
Please CLICK HERE to place your order.
Posted on Jan 24, 2015 by Wine Guild.
It’s no secret that Greek wine is a maze which few of us can truly make sense of. Despite tasting plenty of wines from the place that is largely considered the birthplace of wine, I still stumble through even pronouncing most of the varietals and regions on the bottles. And yet, I’d like to think I know greatness when I see (and taste, and smell) it. To wit: not too many years ago, I was introduced to the red jewel of Macedonia (northern Greece), Xinomavro, and it’s henceforth been my focal point and standard-bearer when it comes to Greek reds.
Part of my affinity comes from its, well, its familiarity. This is not to say that it is necessarily boring or well-worn; instead, it’s that I have reference points for it: Burgundian Pinot Noir and Italian Nebbiolo. It doesn’t hurt that those two grapes from those two regions are amongst my favorites (and, let’s be honest, produce some of the best wines on the planet). When I tried my first great Xino, I kept thinking, I could throw this out as a ringer at any Pinot or Nebbiolo tasting and blow everyone’s mind. So I did, and it did. The best part is that, like most Greek wine, these are relatively undiscovered (for the time being) on the international market and thus remain very reasonably priced relative to the quality in the bottle.
Xinomavro is not an easy grape to grow, nor is it easy to make good wine from its juice. And yet the generous folks in Naousa (Naoussa) still see fit to try, and to make world-class wine for us, and charge but a song for it compared to similar quality in France or Italy. If your yields per hectare are too great, it will produce watery, acidic juice. If you go too far in the other direction, it doesn’t really make it much better (law of diminishing returns). And so you have to strike a perfect balance with your yield, and then be a master in the winery to coax out the intrinsic beauty of this grape. Starting to sound like Pinot or Nebbiolo to anyone?
Okay, Xinomavro lesson is over; let’s get to what you came for. This is not the first time I’ve offered Xinomavro, but it’s been long enough that I’ve been able to actually try some of my old stuff from those early offers, and as expected, it’s aging like its brothers-from-other-mothers in Burgundy and Piemonte. Well, I thought, it’s time. You all need more of this stuff! I tried a few, and actually came up for air with a couple of bottlings from the same producer – one from younger vines for drinking now/soon, and the other from older vines for, well, drinking now or cellaring.
The estate is (don’t worry about pronunciation, I’m sure I’m saying it wrong) Thymiopoulos. Situated in Naousa, they’ve been doing the biodynamic thing for a few generations now, and only use wild yeast (though their wine is not noticeably “funky”). I tasted two of their wines, and both are bottles you absolutely must have if you like great reds:
The first is the Thymiopoulos Xinomavro “Young Vines” 2012
This wine starts with a “wow”: You notice right away that it has depth that no wine at this price has any business with; bright fresh violets and sunbaked rocks give way to savory meat and garrigue spice, with blueberries and cherries coating everything. The palate is just weighty enough to be satisfying, while the finish is wispy and magical like Santenay on a cool night. Perhaps most striking is its composition and balance, which makes me think that despite the price it will age very well for 5 years or more. It’s drinking so well right now, though, you’ll have to hide a few bottles from yourself
Thymiopoulos Xinomavro “Young Vines” 2012
Member Price: [Login to see member prices.]
Retail Price: $18.00
The second is something that should be in your cellar for a decade (or more, if you have the discipline): the Thymiopoulos Xinomavro “Uranos” 2011 Where the Young Vines was more in the realm of Burgundy, this is pure Barolo. Inky, ripe, but still bright and lively. Big red fruit and dried herbs and licorice and wet stones, impressive weight, impeccable balance and electricity. The sheer energy and depth here, coupled with the naturally tannic grippiness, promises a decade or more of improvement in our cellars…and at this price, you can go 6 or 12 deep and not wince when you look at your credit card statement. Pass this up at your own risk – this is a truly amazing, world-class wine, for a fraction of what it should cost.
Thymiopoulos Xinomavro “Uranos” 2011
Member Price: [Login to see member prices.]
Retail Price: $30.00
Posted on Jan 18, 2015 by Wine Guild.
Our wine tastings are FREE and open to the public. Plus, we’re not as stuffy as our name sounds. Throw on some jeans, grab some friends and make an evening of it. Heck, the kids are welcome too. Really.
Join us this Wednesday, January 21st, for “A Night In Napa Valley”. You’ll taste 6 wines from the most famous wine region in the United States. Plus, we’ll be doing another pop-up restaurant offering the following food by our partners at Kitchen Catering.
• Grilled Lamb, soft boiled egg and polenta topped with greens – $16
• Seafood Cioppino – $14
• California Salad (Bibb lettuce, avocado, grapefruit, walnuts and blue cheese). Served with cup of Ginger Tofu Miso Soup – $13
• Cheese Plate by Flora Artisanal Cheese – $12
About The Wines:
Free tastings rarely include a wine that costs over $40. This one includes 3 of them. In other words, you should get over here on Wednesday night and taste these bad boys…just for the experience.
2013 Voss Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – $16.86
The nose bursts with ruby red grapefruit, lemon-lime and notes of lavender and baby’s breath. Very fresh and lively with a creamy mouthfeel that offers grapefruit and white peach flavors. From a single vineyard, planted in 1978 and farmed organically since 1986.
2013 Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay – $32.19
Wine & Spirits Magazine has ranked this one of the Top 10 Chardonnays for 11 consecutive years. This 2013 vintage has juicy peaches, pineapple and lime on the nose, followed by vanilla and cedar. Ripe tropical fruit and fig jam flood the lush, silky palate. Soft spice, vanilla and nectarines mark the lengthy finish, while fresh, mouthwatering acidity leaves you wanting another glass.
2009 Elyse Zinfandel Morisoli Vineyard – $26.83
Aromas of ripe plums, raspberries, sweet spice, and smoky oak. The full and lush palate is complex with flavors of wild, briary summer blackberries, plums, dark chocolate and black pepper. A great match for beef and tomato dishes. Decant this Zin for an hour or so to bring out its robust and spicy nature.
2012 Shafer Vineyards Merlot – $49.83
From a superb vintage, the wine reveals notes of black cherries, tobacco leaf, mocha and darker-berried fruit with a hint of white chocolate. It’s ripe, full-bodied, but fresh, elegant and well-delineated. Will drink well for a decade or more.
2010 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District – $62.09
A modern styled Napa Cab, meticulously made at a gravity-flow winery that boasts a berry-by-berry sorting system. The wine shows wild berry aromas complemented by anise spice and vanilla bean. A silky mouthfeel offers flavors of cocoa and dark red fruit. This is a big wine with refined tannins and the characteristic earthy minerality of Stags Leap District.
2011 Trefethen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - $87.39
A classic style of Napa Cab from a winery that is on the National Registry of Historic Places as the only 19th-century, wooden, gravity-flow winery surviving in Napa County. This wine shows red fruit aromas with fennel and black cherry. The palate dances with flavors of blackberry, currant, black pepper and finishes long and memorable with hints of roasted mushrooms and spice. Enjoy with prime rib, stuffed lamb shoulder or beef medallions accompanied with truffle sauce or onion jus.
Date: Wednesday, January 21st
Time: 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Location: The Wine Guild/Kitchen Catering (606 Rivanna Ave.)
Free, and open to the public. Share this with friends. We love seeing new faces.
Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by Wine Guild.
It’s no secret that food and wine have a naturally symbiotic relationship; dinners and events are planned around that very idea (see: Wine Guild tastings + pop-up menu, wink-wink) all the time…I mean, entire cultures almost seem to revolve around the concept!
But: it’s rare that you accidentally come across two things that match so splendidly by accident…like, you couldn’t have even planned it! Recently, I opened a bottle of red wine I’ve been meaning to try, and figured it would drink just fine with the Cacio e Pepe we’d planned for dinner. Well, that was the understatement of the year. It was a match made in heaven.
This wine was great to sip on while cooking dinner, paying mind to the subtle differences in character as it developed over time. While I am not a stranger to Cru Beaujolais (as you may have noticed), this one takes the cake. It’s everything I want in an approachable and affordable red wine. The producer is Nicolas Boudeau and the wine is his Domaine la Grume “Grain de Sable” 2012 from Brouilly, France. This Cru is the largest of the ten Crus in Beaujolais and tends to produce rather inexpensive but quality-driven red wines made strictly from the Gamay grape. Think of it as Burgundy’s little step-brother.
The Grain de Sable is tart, with a vibrantly crisp acidity- yet smooth and rounded on the finish. It’s charming and effortless, with soft tannins and subtle notes of red currant and lilac. It’s so versatile, I would also recommend it with chicken, turkey, even fish, but it just goes so darn well with Cacio e Pepe that I’ve included a recipe here (I prefer to add garlic as well). I’m not sure how the Italians would feel about that, but that can be our little secret!
Domaine la Grume “Grain de Sable” Brouilly 2012
Member Price: [Login to see member prices.]
Retail Price: $17.00
Posted on Jan 04, 2015 by Wine Guild.
Join us this Wednesday, January 7th, for “A Night In Spain”. We’ll be tasting wines from Rioja, Spain and offering the following menu prepared by our partners at Kitchen Catering. Bring friends. Come hungry and make an evening of it.
Lamb and Vegetable Stew with Rustic Bread – $11
Chicken and Ham Croquettes – $10
Patatas A Lo Riojana (Potatoes with Chorizo) – $10
Stuffed Piquillo Peppers – $9
Sauteed Spinach with Almonds and Red Grapes – $9
Cauliflower Al Ajoarriero – $8
About The Wines:
Located in North Central Spain, the region of Rioja has been making wine for over 1,000 years. That’s not a typo. We’ll be tasting the following 7 wines.
2013 Bodegas LAN Rioja Blanco
Fresh fruit aromas of apple, pear and tropical fruits, as well as citric hints, and herbs. Fresh on the palate, with lively acidity.
2013 Muga Rioja Blanco
Subtle and elegant nose with citrus fruit, brioche and floral scents. Peach, pineapple and stone on the palate.
2008 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva
Brilliant ripe black cherry red colour with good depth. Aromas of blackberries, rose petals, saddle leather and fine wood. Velvety in the mouth with a long finish.
2005 Bodegas LAN Rioja Gran Reserva
Intense aromas of red fruits and fine wood. Elegant and well balanced in the mouth with flavors of sour cherries, dark plums, dried red fruits, leather and a little cigar and tar.
2010 Muga Reserva
Fine leather aromas mingle with red and black fruits black pepper, caramel, toast, vanilla, and cloves. The palette is juicy and meaty with the trademark Muga elegance.
2007 La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva
Intense on the nose, with aromas of ripe red berries (strawberries and blackberries) and roasted coffee and caramel balsamic notes. Balanced on the palate, with sweet tannins that lead to a fresh and lingering finish. Aftertaste that recalls sweet spiced notes, candied fruit, minted chocolate, roasted coffee and caramel.
2004 La Rioja Alta Vina Gran Reserva 904
Complex aromas of balsamic, vanilla, coconut, chocolate and truffle wrapped around a core of candied fruit. Fine, silky tannins and a long and complex finish, with hints of roasted coffee, spices, and candied fruit.
We’ll also have a surprise older bottling on hand so don’t miss out on this great opportunity to taste some classic wines.
Date: Wednesday, January 7th
Time: 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Location: The Wine Guild/Kitchen Catering (606 Rivanna Ave.)
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Posted on Dec 15, 2014 by Wine Guild.
Join us this Wednesday for “A Night In Alsace, France”. We’ll be tasting 8 wines, including 3 Grand Crus, from Domaine Bott-Geyl and offering the following menu of classic Alsatian food prepared by our partners at Kitchen Catering. Bring friends. Come hungry and make an evening of it.
Tarte Flambée – $11
Bacon and Onion tart. Served with small salad.
Fleishchnacka – $12
Pastry and meat “snails”. Served with small salad.
Choucroute Garnie – $15
A platter of sauerkraut, pork and sausage. A famous Alsatian dish.
Soupe a la Biere (Vegetarian) – $11
A hearty potato-leek soup with beer and croutons.
About The Wines:
Domaine Bott-Geyl has been making wine in Alsace since 1795. This legendary family winery is certified organic and biodynamic, harvests all grapes by hand and ferments naturally. Our free tasting includes all 8 of their wines.
2012 Muscat d’Alsace “Les Elements”
An elegant nose of white flowers and ripe fruit. The perfect aperitif.
2012 Pinot d’Alsace Metiss
Aromas of honey and underbrush mix with strawberry and sweet custard cream. The palette starts with plenty of fruit and cream but finishes fresh and dry. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
2011 Pinot Gris “Les Elements”
Intense with subtle hints of smoke, flavors of honey and conserved fruit finish with great finesse.
2012 Gewurtraminer “Les Elements”
Exotic aromas of rose petals and lychee, spices and honey. A full bodied wine with balanced sweetness, spice character and serious flavors of mineral and almond.
NV Cremant d’Alsace Extra Brut Paul-Edouard
Aromas of mineral and straw lead to flavors of pears, cream, papaya and citrus. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.
2010 Riesling Grand Cru Mandelberg
Ripe citrus, honeydew, papaya and star fruit on the tropical nose. Sweet and velvety-smooth in the mouth, but with high acidity giving lift to the tropical fruit and vanilla flavors. Finishes bright and persistent.
2008 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Sonnenglanz
A beautiful wine, fully mature and wonderfully ripe. It has all the elements of mature Pinot Gris: great swathes of spice, almonds, a good slash of acidity and honeyed sweetness.
2008 Gewurtraminer Grand Cru Furstentum
Complex aromas of apricot, minerals, spices and white pepper. Highly concentrated and quite sweet, but with juicy, edgy acidity giving a distinctly youthful quality to the lush honey and spice flavors.
Date: Wednesday, December 17th
Time: 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Location: The Wine Guild/Kitchen Catering (606 Rivanna Ave.)
Share this with friends. We love seeing new faces.
Posted on Nov 28, 2014 by Wine Guild.
This Wednesday ‘s free tasting is a humdinger. We’ll be pouring 8 of the highest scoring wines we’ve ever poured. 8 wines that have a combined price tag of over $650 . Wines that never appear at free tastings. Until now.
We’ll also have the following Argentinian food available.
Come hungry and you can order any of the following items.
Trio of Empanadas with an Aji dipping sauce – $12
Beef with olives and raisins
Chicken with olives and hard boiled egg
Vegetarian with potatos, carrots and butternut squash
Argentinian Asado – $16
Steak, Lamb, and Sausage with chimichuri and potatoes
Gnocchi (Vegetarian) – $12
Pumpkin, sweet potato andd herb Gnocchi with an Yerba Maté sauce.
Now, back to the wines.
Bodega Catena Zapata is the king of Argentinean wine. At this tasting we’re only tasting their best wines.
Catena Alta Chardonnay – Scores 90 – 94
The nose offers ripe white fruit aromas such as pears and peaches that are interwoven with delicate citrus and floral notes, such as Jasmine. The palate shows rich and concentrated ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with a light note of minerality. The wine finishes long and complex with crisp, mineral acidity.
White Bones Chardonnay – Scores 92 – 96
A bright lemon yellow color in the glass. The nose shows an excellent mélange of citrus and white fruit notes with vanilla. The mouthfeel is rich and concentrated, showing ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with salty notes. The finish shows bright, clean acidity and wonderful length.
White Stones Chardonnay – Scores 90 – 95
A pale lemon yellow color with gold highlights. The nose shows an excellent melange of delicated white flowers and white fruits aromas with pure minerality notes. The mouthfeel is elegant and fresh, showing jasmine, ripe white peach and pear flavors interwoven with mineral notes. The finish is bright, with clean acidity and wonderful length.
Catena Alta Cabernet – Scores 92 – 94
On the nose, it offers intense aromas of ripe raspberries, and cassis with notes of pepper and clove. On the palate, it is full-bodied and rich and displays layers of black currant and black raspberry with notes of cedar, tobacco and leather. This Cabernet Sauvignon is an elegant wine with silky tannins that provide structure and a long and persistent finish. Pair this Cabernet with red meats like steak or lamb, demi-glace sauces, or with Chateaubriand for an elegant and special dinner.
Nicolas Catena Zapata – Scores 95 – 98
An intense, deep purple color with bluish-black tones. On the nose, aromas of black fruits – blackberries, black cherries, black plums – predominate with subtle notes of vanilla and dark chocolate intermingled with savory hints of green olive and a stony minerality. On the palate, the wine is tremendously complex, unfolding layer upon layer of red currant, eucalyptus, and black pepper flavors . Black cherries and blackberries give way to cassis followed by a hint of saline minerality. The wine is remarkably concentrated with a firm tannic structure providing the backbone for the lush fruit. The finish is long, a foretoken of the long aging potential of this Argentine masterpiece. Let the Nicolás Catena Zapata open in a decanter while you grill a Bone-in Ribeye Steak to perfection.
Adrianna Malbec – Scores 96 – 97
Aromas of blackberries, violets, and vanilla give way to a powerful and deep wine with flavors of black and red fruits alongside of lavendar, wood and minerals. Remarkable concentration and finely-grained tannins stand with great acidity. Pairs well with beef tenderloin.
Argentino Malbec – Scores 93 – 97
The nose offers cassis, blueberries and violets, along with a strong suggestion of soil tones. It combines density and sweetness on the one hand, with gripping, lightly saline flavors of mocha, dark berries, spice, and minerals; a palate-staining finish dominated by sweet black and blue fruits. Pairs well with lamb chops, beef tenderloin, and goat cheese.
Nicasia Malbec – Scores 95 – 97
Ripe black-and-red currant, raspberries and an elegant touch of french oak are some of the aromas that we can appreciate from this special malbec from one of the Catena´s highest family vineyards. Very complex and expressive palate, with a creamy violet flavor witih ripe blueberries, cassis, vanilla and spicecake. Pairs well with roasted veal, shiitake mushrooms, and beef tenderloin.
Finally, Jorge Liloy will be on hand to tell you all you’d want to know about the Catena Zapata estate.
Date: Wednesday, December 3rd
Time: 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Location: The Wine Guild (606 Rivanna Ave.)
Posted on Mar 06, 2014 by .
If I had to choose one kind of wine that I rarely reach for, but am most often pleasantly surprised by, it would have to be Cru Beaujolais. We’ve done very little with it in the Guild; there’s a great little Régnié that we have stocked on the shelves (and has enjoyed a sort of mini-cult status among those who try it!), but by and large, I just tend to overlook it. Perhaps it’s just that there’s so much generic Beaujolais AOC or villages-level stuff out there that evokes little beyond bright cherries; perhaps all of our brains have been trained, by the lore surrounding Nouveau, to not take it seriously. In any case, I feel like it’s so neglected that it’s almost criminal, especially when a rep brings around a quality bottle and I’m reminded of how brilliant it can be.
To wit: recently, I tried the Chateau de Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2011, and was sincerelytaken aback. It had honestly been years since I tried a Bojo with this much power, structure, grace and soul, and I couldn’t let it slip away like so many others.
My first thought was just how Burgundian it was. If there’s one valid criticism of Gamay, it’s that it often lacks the structure and composure that good Burgundy has in spades, and thus doesn’t age well and is less serious. Of course, that goes for Nouveau, and much of the villages-level bottlings, but even a good deal of Crus tend to be drink-now wines with less stalwartness than many villages wines from the Cote d’Or. Well, if you’re looking for Burgundian Gamay, look no further than Moulin-à-Vent. These are the most serious, structured wines of Beaujolais. Vines don’t thrive as well here due to the manganese in the soil, which means lower yields…and thus, more concentration and character.
The Chateau de Jacques (a label under the Louis Jadot umbrella) is certainly one of the best examples of this serious style of Gamay that I’ve had. Almost like Pommard in its power, there are even elements here that you are more likely to find in Bandol than Burgundy: mint, sulfur/iron, dusty herbs and smoked meat. In terms of a core, it’s made up primarily of that trademark red cherry/raspberry fruit, but even that’s not nearly as playful as in your everyday Beaujolais. In terms of weight and texture, this again drinks like Pommard; unlike most Beaujolais, it’s partially aged in oak, adding to the brooding “serious wine” aura and giving it even more structure. There’s bright acid, but it’s not sharp, and the finish is soft yet tannic – all of which leads me believe that this will be even better in 5 or 6 years.
Here’s Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht on the matter…seems as though we’re in agreement:
Reflecting (as explained in my introductory notes) the inclusion of all of Chateau des Jacques’s fruit from Champs de Cour and Clos des Thorins as well as the usual selected lots from all of their other Clos holdings, a generic 2011 Moulin-a-Vent mingles ripe dark cherry, plum and cassis with marrow-rich savory suggestions of meat stock. Salt, stone, iodine, mocha and toasted nuts add intrigue to a sustained finish in this lovely, tenderly textured and relatively gentle offering that pales slightly only in comparison with the active impingement that characterizes this year’s Chenas and Fleurie tasted immediately before. Incidentally, this was brought-up in one-third each in new barriques, used barriques and tank, in contrast with the nearly 100% new barrels in which the estate’s single vineyard Moulin-a-Vents continue to be raised. An outstanding value, it should reward following at least through 2017 and quite possibly beyond. 91 points.
At retail, yes, an outstanding value. At Guild prices, though, it’s under $20…true “no-brainer” territory. You want wine like this north of Chagny? Prepare to pay double! If you’re inexperienced in how rewarding serious Beaujolais can be, this is your crash course…but if you already know, then you’ve probably clicked the order link by now.
Retail Price: ~$26.00
Posted on Feb 27, 2014 by .
As promised, here’s the other bottle of Verget on closeout that I loved:
For me, Maison Verget has always meant Macon. Their awesome Chablis that I offered out last week might have been the first non-Maconnaise wine that I’d had from them, and great as it is, I still identify them as Maconnaise. We’ve sold plenty of their excellent Macon Villages, as well as the Montbrison and other miscellaneous bottlings (he produces something like 25 different bottlings in any given vintage), and this wine that I’m writing about today follows in their tradition: terroir-driven, but never shy or tight, and outpacing its price tag by a mile. Even at its normal, non-closeout rate, this wine is a deal, but with a few bucks shaved off, it’s another “can’t miss” wine to stock up on.
The Saint-Veran appellation is, as a friend put it the other day, what Pouilly Fuisse was 5 years ago. The latter used to be pretty affordable, and represented great deals all over the place. There might still be some good deals to be found, but so many of them have broken the $20 barrier…as can be expected whenever the international market takes serious notice of an AOC. Well, right next door, in the same shadow of the Roche de Solutre, is Saint-Veran, and it’s producing Chardonnays of extraordinary value and quality.
The Verget Saint-Veran “Terroirs de Davaye” 2010 is as good a Saint-Veran as I’ve had, and is the perfect everyday, all-purpose Chard. Again, it is driven by terroir (stones, white flowers, earth) and buttressed by tremendous fruit – lychee, honeydew, nectarine. It simply has exquisite composure (classic, I’d even say) without ever taking itself too seriously; as I said, it’s definitely an everyday wine that gives you much more than you paid for it. The weight on the palate is just enough to let you know that it’s Chardonnay, and there’s plenty of crisp acid even at four years old.
As with the Chablis, this is on closeout because the distributor has parted ways with Verget, so you will not see this wine at this price again (and it’s still uncertain if or when Verget will be available at all, unfortunately). So, speak now, or forever hold your peace…
Retail Price: $24.99
Oh, and just because it’s extraordinarily beautiful (and relevant), here are a couple pics from the Roche de Solutre that we took on our trip a few years back (the first is of the village of Solutre-Pouilly and the Rock of Vergisson taken from the top of the rock; the second is of the rock itself). Drink it in!
Posted on Feb 20, 2014 by .
I’ve remained silent, for years, because it’s a sensitive subject. “Let it go”, they said, “let them live their lives their own way”. And so I backed off. I bit my tongue. I watched in silence as great opportunities were squandered. So it goes.
Well, no longer can I sit idly by. We need to talk. No, please, sit back down. It’s because we care. I’ve invited you all here today to talk about the conspicuous lack of sexy tall bottles in your cellars. Riesling. Pinot Gris. Pinot Blanc. Gewurtztraminer. And yes, perhaps even Muscat! We’ve stocked these wines in the past, and they sat on the shelves for an eternity. I’ve offered some of my all-time favorites, and few were interested. And so, for too long, I’d thrown in the towel. Reps would bring by fantastic “sweet” German Spatleses, and I would get goosebumps from them, but as much as I loved it, it was always the same rebuff: I can’t sell it.
But no more. I’m bringing ‘em back. I was inspired by an old favorite last week, the mineral-drenched Spatlese Riesling from Monchhof (a Bavarian powerhouse that makes no bad wine). This needs to be in everyone’s glass, I said to my rep, and so it is my first entry in the “Tall Bottle Intervention” series. The 2012 Monchhof Riesling Spatlese ‘Mosel Slate’ is a perfect balance between the dry, bracing style, and the glycerine-rich Ausleses; I tasted this right after a bright “dry Spatlese” (the German designations are based on potential alcohol, not residual sugar…hence, “dry Spatlese”), and the richness on the palate was like sinking into a pre-warmed bed on a freezing January evening…gahhhhh. It’s a plush, round, juicy wine up front, with plenty of wet stone on the nose (big surprise…it’s called “Mosel Slate” and it’s got a picture of a big old piece of slate on the label!) and a pristine lemon meringue coating.
However, the real genius of this wine, as with all wines of this type, is the balance. For every gram of residual sugar, there’s enough soft citrus-esque acid on the other end of the seesaw to perform the perfect dance on your palate. On the periphery, there’s ripe, mouthwatering fruit like summer peaches and melons, a touch of rich amondine nuttiness, and a complexity that seems to evolve by the minute as it sees more air. The Mosel Slate will also age well for another 5 years or maybe more, as it has plenty of acidity to keep everything structured.
Most of all, though, you need to drink this wine with food. Not just any food, but Thai food. There’s a fantastic little hole in the wall down south of Lovingston called Thai Siam. For C-villians, it’s a trek to be sure, and it’s takeout only, but so worth it. Get the Drunken Noodles with chicken and the green curry with beef, and a few fresh spring rolls. Ask for medium heat if you’re not scared of a little spice. Bring it home, sit down with a bottle of the Mosel Slate, and you will be transported into another dimension of food-wine pairing. The spiciness of the food would obliterate most wines, but the richness of the Riesling coats your palate and the acidity cleans it all up. The bright citrus notes in the wine play so will with the spices in the food, too…you can thank me later.
Retail Price: $29.99
Posted on Feb 19, 2014 by .
For a good while now, some of our favorite French Chardonnay has come from Maison Verget. Their Macon Villages Terres de Pierres was a staple on our shelves until it recently ran out, and we’ve featured other Maconnaise selections from them in the past, with great results. All around, their wines are of remarkable quality and enjoyability, especially for the money.
The bad news is that the estate has gotten increasingly difficult for the distributor to work with, and so they’ve decided to part ways. They may get picked up by another importer, but who knows when or if that will actually happen. Boooo!
The good news is that the distributor is closing out their remaining inventory.
Our rep, knowing how much we love Verget, dropped off a few samples the other day, and so I’m going to write up my two favorites this week. First off is the 2011 Chablis Terres de Pierres. Now, granted, I’m used to Verget’s Maconnaise bottlings, but this wine made me wonder what else I’ve been missing from their work to the north of Chagny. It would be considered a tremendous value at its normal price, but at this clearance price, it’s the kind of thing you stock up on by the case. It’s driven primarily by crushed seashells, wet stone and soft citrus, but it’s got a touch more body than many sub-$20 village Chablis…with a silky, plush, welcoming texture on the palate. That body and texture are what make this wine so viscerally satisfying – while there are stones and lemons and herbs (thyme or maybe tarragon?) on the nose, the palate is just ripe enough, just soft enough, but with plenty of acidity to keep it balanced and lively.
It’s a perfect counterpoint to the bracing, zippy Chablis that we so often see (and which have their place, of course), because it’s just so open and giving and enjoyable even without food. I consider this a must-buy, not only because it’s on clearance, not only because it’s a perfectly realized sub-$15 bottle of Chardonnay, but also because who knows when we’ll see it again?! I’ve always said that people need to drink more good Chablis, and this is an ideal place to start…
Retail Price: $23.99
Posted on Feb 17, 2014 by .
For near as long as I’ve been drinking wine, I’ve been in love with Domaine la Bouissiere. Their splendid Gigondas was my introduction into the Southern Rhone Fan Club, and no other Gigondas has come close ever since. Talk about starting out on a high note! Unfortunately, that wine (and their special ‘ La Font de Tonin’ cuvee) have consistently risen in price (the basic Gigondas is near $30 now I believe) – even still, they remain some of the best bottles of wine in the Southern Rhone.
A couple years ago, though, I got to try their everyday blend – Les Amis de la Bouissiere – and was thrilled to find that the heart and soul of their Gigondases (can you pluralize that? I just did!) were alive and well in a brilliant sub-$15 ‘throwaway’ blend. Apparently, the Faravel brothers created this bottling as a way to “get rid” of their younger Merlot juice. Where some producers might just sell it off to cooperatives and the like, these guys have enough faith in even their younger fruit to put their label on it…and the juice, she don’t lie. Now, I have no idea whether this is still an outlet for their young Merlot…my guess is that the wine ended up being so good, and so popular, that it’s now a real focus in their lineup.
In any case, the 2012 that I drank a bottle of the other day is simply delicious. It’s labeled as “Vin de France”, with no further designation, simply because the Faravels wanted to use the Caladoc varietal (don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either) in the blend. It’s still mostly Merlot, with the rest Syrah, Caladoc and Grenache. It’s got a very genuine brightness which draws me in at first sniff/sip – this isn’t the kind of forced acidity and fresh fruit you get from tinkering in the winery, this is honest energy, without ever being nervous or jittery. There’s a definite softness from the Merlot that makes this wine approachable and just weighty enough, while the Syrah and Grenache seem to provide the structure, depth and gruffness I expect from Southern Rhone…er, ahem, “Vin de France”. I honestly have no idea what role the Caladoc plays here, but considering it’s a Grenache-Malbec hybrid, you can fill in the blanks.
It’s like drinking the offspring of their Gigondas, because the structure is always very up front and focused: soft acidity, a touch of tannic backbone, wrapped in velvety texture and a strong spicy/brambly energy. It’s rare that great winemakers like this capture the essence of their greatest wines in their entry-level offerings, but as I said, this has the heart and soul of Bouissiere in it. At under $13, it’s as good an everyday Rhone red as I’ve had, and I’ve had some damn good everyday Rhone reds. We all need wine like this by the case, at arms’ reach.
Retail Price: $15.99
Posted on Feb 06, 2014 by .
This is in the same vein (from the same distributor, in fact) as that crazy Mollydooker deal from a couple weeks ago…but while I know that some people are just generally not into big Aussie Shiraz, there’s really something for everyone to love in the BV Tapestry. I have had some good and some not-so-good iterations of this wine, honestly; the bad ones seem muddled and lacking any kind of depth or delineation; the good ones are (as another member put it) “what Napa claret should be”: well composed, with nice acid and complexity without being too heavy.
The 2009 Tapestry is the latter, of course, and while its normal price tag (upwards of $80 retail in VA) is overinflated in my opinion (WA’s Galloni gave it 91 points, though, so that probably has something to do with it), when the distributor shaves more than half of the cost off the bottle, it’s pretty hard to say no! Like with the Mollydooker, the distributor is apparently trying to move this stuff to make room for the new vintage – and, I’m sure, losing money in the process. So, I thought I’d give you all a heads up on this. As I said, those who have tried it (including myself) have been impressed with it and asked for more, so this is definitely not a case of a distributor trying to unload substandard wine; like with the Mollydooker, I think they just had priced it too high to begin with…and now, we benefit.
As of a couple days ago, there seems to be a healthy amount of it left, so you can order as much as you want. However, I don’t know how long it’ll last at this price (I imagine some of the shops in the area will buy it at this price and then mark it up more than normal, because it’ll still be a better sticker price than normal). So, jump on it now, and we’ll secure it for you this week!
Retail Price: $80+
Posted on Feb 05, 2014 by .
Whether you’re a writer, collector, seller or consumer of wine, few things sting as much as when a beloved staple in your wine life goes kaput. Nothing is permanent, of course, but when you’ve been drinking a particular wine for long enough, it just doesn’t seem fair for a winemaker to fold, or just retire, or otherwise decide that their livelihood is more important than your wine fix!
A few years back, this happened to a wine that I consider to be a shoe-in for the inaugural ballot of the Wine Guild Hall of Fame: the Puig-Parahy “Georges” Cotes de Roussillon. Apparently, the owner had a few properties around the world that he couldn’t unload, and was facing bankruptcy because of it, and had to stop his winemaking operation. We were pretty upset, simply because it was one of the best inexpensive reds that we’d tasted. And we sold a ton of it to you all, too. It was a permanent staple on our shelves, and members kept coming back to the well for more. But, we moved on, and accepted the unfortunate demise of a great wine.
Fast forward to late last year: I got great news from our rep that the Georges had come back from the brink! Georges Puig apparently found some buyers for his other investments, and got his winemaking operation back up and running. I had to try the new vintage (2010)! So on our way out of town to visit my mother, we got the bottle; much to our pleasant surprise, she actually still had a bottle of the 2007 sitting in her collection. Oh, how perfect – we could try them side by side!
First, understand that these are very different wines at 3 years apart. The 2007 was the picture of aged Chinon (even though it’s not Chinon, and there’s no Cab Franc in there), with a wonderful interplay between feminine and masculine notes…ripe fruit, pencil shavings, perfume, spice, etc. But it had aged very well, and this gave me great hope for the 2010’s longevity.
The 2010, though, is actually still a baby and has more electricity than I remember from the 2007 when I first had it a few years ago. It’s a truly “loaded” wine, though, drinking better and better the longer I let it air out. Eucalyptus, ripe sour cherries, a faint smokiness, and complex delineation (which is a mark of a great wine in my book) are what do it for me. The wine is powerful, but never confusing or jumbled; the aforementioned electricity (combined with a firm but not-too-grippy tannic presence) tells me that this wine will (like the 2007 before it) only get better and better in the next few years.
And the best part: it’s still super cheap. It’s time to welcome back a Hall of Famer!
Some notes from WA’s Schildnekt, too:
The Puig-Parahy 2010 Cotes du Roussillon Georges – about to be bottled when I tasted it – offers its usual exuberant, infectiously juicy, impeccably-clean, tart-edged fruit, reflecting a blend of Carignan, Grenache, and a smidgeon of Syrah, raised in tank. Blackberry and purple plum are tinged with brown spices, bittersweet herbs, and peat-like smokiness. Given the pricing of past vintages, we can expect that this 2010 rendition of “Georges” will once again offer outstanding value over the next several years. 89-90 Points.
Retail Price: $15.00
Posted on Jan 30, 2014 by .
I opened and decanted this bottle just prior to putting a rack of lamb in the oven. I tasted the wine and got the impression of a restrained, elegant gentleman from Margaux, with tremendous family history — taller than me, and better dressed – at a cocktail party. He’s quietly in command, accepting the onslaught of the crowd within the structure of his worldview and frankly overly-bushy eyebrows. I cannot break through the small talk and superficial discussions – and yet sense that there is a tremendous depth I simply cannot plumb. I will return.
My daughter is pounding out “Good King Wenceslas” for the 4th time as I stoke up the fire and finish my cocktail. One day, she’ll no doubt be able to play the piano with more than just her index fingers.
Quite a while later, I pull out the lamb to let it rest. I pour a little more of the wine, taste, and realize the gentleman has had a few drinks himself. He is still reserved, regal really, but is far more open and accessible. Far more amiable if you will, and after less than an hour of air.
Giscours dates to the 1300s, with the 1855 classification in Bordeaux granting it 3rd Growth status. Like the Grand Vin, this is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance being mainly Merlot. The nose is restrained, but full of cassis fruit, with a little dark garden soil. Attractive density on the palate, with cassis, blackberry and Black-strap molasses playing the major roles. The wood is seamlessly integrated, almost invisible actually, but makes an appearance in the slightly compressed mid-palate. The wine finishes with good length and youthful tannins and acids – this requires a decanter and elegantly prepared red meat to shine fully, but in that setting, it is truly fantastic. Highest recommendation at the price point and well-above frankly, for consumption now and over the next 5 years.
Retail Price: $40.00