Wine

A Night with Mas Daumas Gassac

A Night with Mas Daumas Gassac

Posted on Sep, 23. 2015 by

Categories: Wine

Open to the public and just $5. At this weeks’ tasting and pop-up restaurant you’ll taste seven wines from Mas Daumas Gassac, including their flagship wine considered “one of the ten best wines in the world” by Michael Broadbent. We’ll also be offering the following delicious food from Kitchen Catering and Events and cheese plates by Flora Artisanal Cheese. So, come hungry, bring friends and make a night of it. We love seeing new faces. Now, here are the details on the food and wine.

FOOD:

Beef Stew with Red Wine – $16
Stuffed Pork Loin Cassoulet – $16
Oyster Gratin with Spinach and Mushrooms – $16

WINES:

Mas de Daumas Gassac Rosé Frizant – $22.39
A fresh naturally sparkling wine made from a single fermentation and no dosage, the Rose Frizant has fine bubbles and a delicious fruity finish. A great apertif and also goes well with desserts. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Mourvèdre, Pinot noir, Sauvignon, Petit Manseng and Muscat.)

2013 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc – $9.59
A Grenache Blanc blend, this shows a delicate, pretty nose of acacia and pear and a mid-weight, harmonious palate of lemon, dill and green olive. An outstanding wine for this price. This is a buy by the case white for daily drinking or parties.

2014 Pont de Gassac Blanc – $12.80
A rich, complex blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Blanc. Semi-golden, melony colour with a nose of white flowers. Attractive palate of ripe pineapple but very well balanced by refreshing acidity. Best served not too cold to get the best out of the aromas and flavours.

2013 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge – $9.59
Quite a rustic offering, with a real ‘goût de terroir’ (taste of the soil), this distinctive Syrah-blend has a fragrant, earthy nose of black fruit and herbs, and a fresh, moderately-tannic palate of baked blackberry pie, nutmeg and cedar. Another super value at under $10.

2014 Moulin de Gassac Pinot Noir – $12.80
Elegant light red with brick tint. Complex and delicate nose. Candied cherry, light roasted hints and mocha with mouthwatering abundant fruit. A beautiful freshness and soft tannins made it a balanced and fine Pinot. Fruit forward finish with soft tannins.

2014 Pont de Gassac Guibert Rouge – $12.80
Rich, complex blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Dark inky ruby showing a big nose of ripe plum, rose petal and creamy toffee with a note of aged cheese. The palate is quite complex. Tart red fruit, black-plum skin, strong tannin and an earthy ripe fruit finish. Mouthfilling, rounded fruit is the hallmark of the Pont de Gassac rouge.

2013 Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge – $45.59
“One of the 10 best wines in the world” (Michael Broadbent), “Exceptional” (Robert Parker). Open your bottle three to four hours beforehand. Better still, decant the wine. Drink young (within 3 years) to enjoy the full fruity aromas. Otherwise drink it after 5 years, or lay it down for 15-20 long years to get the full benefit of a truly great wine’. 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.4% Merlot, 5.3% Tannat, 3.8% Cabernet Franc, 2.5% Malbec, 2% Pinot Noir, 9%.

We’re located in the Kitchen Catering building at 606 Rivanna Ave. Just off Harris St. We get started at 5:30pm and will go until your so full of bliss that your life is forever altered. Or, we run out of wine and food.

We’ll be doing this on Wednesday the 23rd (members only) and Thursday the 24th (open to the public and just $5)

Time: 5:30pm until 8:30ish
Location: 606 Rivanna Ave. Just off Harris St.
Park in any of the nearby business lots after 6:00pm.

Come hungry, bring friends and make a night of it. We love seeing new faces.

Delivery!

Posted on Aug, 04. 2015 by

Categories: Wine

Did you know that we offer local delivery for only $10? That’s right! Get all your wine delivered to your home or business for one flat rate of $10. We will deliver to you, between 3pm and 6pm, Monday through Friday. Just let us know where you want it, and we’ll do the rest.

Just think of all that time you’d save, and how much MORE wine you could order if you didn’t have to haul it all home yourself! Let us help you out. Seriously, that’s what we’re here for – “More people drinking better wine, more often”

Greetings from Chablis!

Greetings from Chablis!

Posted on Jul, 23. 2015 by

Categories: Wine

If you’ve been paying attention to our Facebook page, you’ve likely seen some of our posts from this venture to Burgundy. We’re lucky enough to simply be here, basking in the amazing landscape, architecture, culture, cuisine, and wine; the opportunity to visit a few of our favorite producers is the fois gras icing on this limestone-flavored cake.

While it’s still vivid in my mind, I thought I’d send you all something tonight (we’re six hours ahead of you) about our visit to Chablistoday…because it was eye-opening for us all. After an excellent seafood-centric lunch in the town center (paired with some great 1er Cru Chablis, because what else?), we visited a Guild favorite, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard. The Guild has long been a fan and supporter of Brocard’s wine, and some of you may even still have a bottle or two laying around (if you had the discipline that I didn’t). What we knew was that these are some of the best wines in all of Chablis, but what didn’t we know…well, where to start?

Jean-Marc started with virtually nothing in the 1970s. Chablis was still not fully recovered from its destruction in the second world war, yet he saw something here, he felt the potential; so he started small with a few rows and a few wise mentors, built his way up, and eventually was instrumental in helping the entire Chablis region recapture its rightful place as one of the most esteemed winegrowing regions on the planet. Today, the Domaine is one of the top five largest producers in Chablis; yet of those five, Brocard is the only one that remains an independent family business.

The estate is, at first glance, a modern operation. Larger-scale (by Chablis standards), entirely surrounded by vine rows, and well-outfitted; down the hill, an impressively large production winery with “green” roofs and little forklifts scurrying about. But you turn around, and there’s the Chapel of Sainte Claire.


Surrounded by Chardonnay, this is the old and the new. Such as it is with the wine.

Where Jean-Marc helped restore the Chablis region, his son Julien has brought a “modern” bent to the operation, pushing more and more of their large stable of vineyard sites towards organic and biodynamic wine creation. This is difficult, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it inarguably brings a realness to the wines; currently, the majority of their vineyards are certified organic, with a push on the rest. Meanwhile, a focus on the vine and the fruit and the earth, rather than manipulation inside the winery, results in some of the most pure, unveiled, vivid displays of the effect of terroir that you’ll find.

Between three producers, we probably tasted around 35 wines today, from Petit Chablis all the way up to the various Grand Cru sites, and it was a master class in how the blank slate of Chardonnay can amplify the soil, the vintage, the microclimate; sometimes like a bullhorn, sometimes like a whisper. One thing was crystal clear, though: terroir matters. The soil, the sun, the breeze, the water, the temperature, it all results in vastly different wines; one of the starkest (and most intriguing) contrasts was between Brocard’s 2014 Sainte Claire Chablis and their 2014 Sainte Claire Vielles Vignes Chablis. Both are from essentially the same sites. Both are from the same vintage, and the same producer, and are vinified in the exact same way. Yet, the Vielles Vignes has a richer, more serious saline/seashell character. Vielles Vignes means “Old Vines”, which in turn means that their roots go deeper. Here’s the difference a few feet can make in the soil under Chablis:


Brocard has left this wall in their cellars open, to illustrate the geology of Chablis in very real terms. On top, limestone, in layers. Beneath, Jurassic Kimmeridgian (calcareous clay replete with seashells, as this was once all ocean). The deeper they go, the more these vines work, and the more elemental characteristics they pick up along the way. It’s not only fascinating, it’s the backbone of great wine…and Brocard’s focus on real winegrowing, on fruit and vines and earth, rather than oak and chemical manipulation, bring this all to bear in a rather astounding manner.

These are wines of grace, purity, power and elegance. This is Chablis.


Looking down at Brocard’s sizeable vineyards

We have a whole pile of notes, but there are a few that deserve your undivided attention. If you want more info, there are many Premier Cru and even some Grand Cru wines available from Brocard; these are merely a starting point into the rabbit hole of some of the greatest Chard on earth:

  • Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis 2014 [Members: $18.60  ||  Non-members: $23.25]: This has long been a staple of the Guild, and 2014 is shaping up to be an excellent vintage. The wine, on the whole, is bright and electric, full of energy (it’s still young, yet); there are notes of smoky flint and toasty crackers mingling amongst juicy, plump nectarine and lemon. Beyond, there are hints of salinity and stone, with tart lychee-like bursts all over the place. The mouthfeel is pleasantly weighty, but always ephemeral and wispy at the end, leaving you wondering and thinking…the crisp purity of this wine is striking, and is thus a perfect illustration of the estate’s philosophy. 
  • Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis Vielles Vignes 2014 [Members: $24.00  ||  Non-members: $30.00]: Take the above wine, add some weight, seriousness, flint and seashells and you have the VV. They are notfundamentally different, but the devil is always in the details. Shelling out a few extra bucks for the VV is absolutely worth it, but I suggest you get both and do a side-by-side tasting of your own. This takes it to another level, with more pronounced herbs, flowers and earth, yet it is again a very vivid, pure wine. 
  • Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard Premier Cru Fourchaume Chablis 2013 [Members: $37.20  ||  Non-members: $46.50]:This is a beautifully complete wine, and the obvious jump in price corresponds to a tremendous feeling of accomplishment that you can feel surrounding it. This is an incredible example of the difference terroir can make, with fuller weight, bigger fruit (but never too big), more pronounced saline and marine elements, and more spicy green apple and flint. 2013 was a rather difficult vintage due to hail, but as in many inconsistent vintages, there were winners and losers – this wine was an obvious winner. It is proof that what they are doing with these vineyard delineations matters, and as a testament to both honest winegrowing and the consequences of location, it deserves a place at your table.

And with that, Bonsoir!

Please CLICK HERE to place your order. 

[DEFCON] Les Bons Batons is back…and better than ever

[DEFCON] Les Bons Batons is back…and better than ever

Posted on Jan, 28. 2015 by

Categories: Wine

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. 

Northern Greece’s Xinomavro: Burgundian Pinot Meets Italian Nebbiolo

Northern Greece’s Xinomavro: Burgundian Pinot Meets Italian Nebbiolo

Posted on Jan, 24. 2015 by

Categories: Wine

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: [private_member] Grand Cru: $13.19 • Premier Cru: $13.79 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $18.00
Buy Now!

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: [private_member] Grand Cru: $21.99 • Premier Cru: $22.99 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $30.00
Buy Now!

Stumbling headfirst into the perfect pairing…

Stumbling headfirst into the perfect pairing…

Posted on Jan, 16. 2015 by

Categories: Food, Wine

kMkj2zLIt’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: [private_member] Grand Cru: $12.46 • Premier Cru: $13.03 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $17.00
Buy Now!

It’s time to take Beaujolais seriously.

Posted on Mar, 06. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

image_518995_fullIf 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.

Chateau de Jacques Moulin-à-Vent
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $19.06 • Premier Cru: $19.93[/private_member]
Retail Price: ~$26.00

Buy Now!

Verget Closeouts, Part Deux

Posted on Feb, 27. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

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…

Verget Saint-Veran “Terroirs de Davaye”
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $15.39 • Premier Cru: $16.09 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $24.99

Buy Now!

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!

Inline image 2

We Need To Talk.

Posted on Feb, 20. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

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. 

Inline image 1Well, 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.

2012 Monchhof Riesling Spatlese ‘Mosel Slate’
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $20.53 • Premier Cru: $21.46 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $29.99

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Good News, Bad News: The Last of the Vergets?

Posted on Feb, 19. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

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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…

 

2011 Verget Chablis Terres de Pierres
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $14.29 • Premier Cru: $14.94[/private_member]
Retail Price: $23.99

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“I need a place to put all my young Merlot!”

Posted on Feb, 17. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

les amisFor 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.

Les Amis de la Bouissiere 2012
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $12.10 • Premier Cru: $12.65[/private_member]
Retail Price: $15.99

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Another closeout that just makes you shake your head in disbelief…

Posted on Feb, 06. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

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!

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2009 BV Reserve ‘Tapestry’
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $27.50 • Premier Cru: $28.75[/private_member]
Retail Price: $80+

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Back from the Dead

Posted on Feb, 05. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

georges

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.

2010 Puig-Parahy “Georges” Cotes de Roussillon
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $10.99 • Premier Cru: $11.49 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $15.00

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The Siren Call of Bordeaux

Posted on Jan, 30. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

1010.1385126944This wine is what I like to refer to as:  fantastic.  You can skip the rest and just order, or stay tuned for color commentary …

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.

La Sirene de Giscours 2010 (Margeaux)
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $28.33 • Premier Cru: $29.61[/private_member]
Retail Price: $40.00

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Porto, Porto!

Posted on Jan, 29. 2014 by

Categories: Wine

We get lots of requests for Port, especially this time of year. Like many, I go in “cycles” when it comes to stuff like Port and Sherry; some of it is just the time of year, and some of it is just what I have a hankerin’ for. Right now, after tasting a few Ports, that’s my hankerin’!  Now, both of these ports are non-vintage, and both of them have been offered out by the Guild in the past…and they remain favorites of ours. Having retasted them both recently, I can say that the fire has been rekindled! Here are my notes from years past:

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The first is the Noval Black (NV) from the world-renowned Porto producer Quinta do Noval…and it’s a beautiful ruby port with body, power and elegance, all for around $15 (ha!). As a ruby, it naturally has less of the resinous, dried-fruit quality, and much more vibrant, rich, red-fruit character. It’s not sappy or oxidative, and unlike the earthy dank-cellar-esque quality of the aforementioned 10-yr Tawny, it has a much-welcomed vibrancy and lightness to it. It’s not all bright, though—there’s definitely a dark, brooding, syrupy character (which defines it as Port, really), but without the overly-raisiny character… and with all the deep-red-blue notes, it’s really a different monster. The acidity is soft but actually refreshing, and on the nose there is palpable energy (I suppose this is for the club scene, right?) buttressed by eucalyptus, garrigue, and graphite. All of this is contained within what is perhaps the most singularly silky texture a wine could ever contain. The tannins are just present enough to hold it together, and the acid just braces the fringes—inside, it’s like liquid silk: so soft, so full, so viscous and coating. 

Look, like I said, I was skeptical because of various preconceptions, but I’m now a believer. I’ve been drinking this stuff here and there for the past couple weeks, and every time I pour it, it seems like a new wine to me. It’s extraordinarily complex (especially for a marketing creation), and while it does have that easily-accessible quality that it was going for, it really is a perfect drink-now ruby Port. The packaging is sleek, classy, and not at all flashy (it even comes in a gift box for those looking for last-minute Christmas gifts). It’s the perfect complement to the other, more raisiny Port discussed above, and for everyone asking for drinkable Port this holiday season, you need look no further!

Quinta do Noval “Noval Black” (NV)
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $15.58 • Premier Cru: $16.29 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $22.00

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Inline image 1The second bottle is a 10 year old (10 years in the barrel) tawny from a new (to the states), small producer, Messias. Dionysos’ Kevin Schultz personally selected this on a recent trip to Portugal, and I can’t say enough about it. It really is the whole package. And look, I love good vintage ruby port, even late-bottled-vintage stuff, but for my money, right now, without worrying about aging or spending a bunch of money, good tawny is where it’s at. It’s not sherry, but it’s in that direction, and that’s what I love—the time in the barrel really brings another class of elements to the table. A brooding, raisiny nose is buttressed by soft aromas of leather and tar, and salty Marcona almonds, and pecans dressed with caramel. The palate starts with sweet cookies, caramel and a touch of smoky charcoal, but it’s never actually that sweet. The alcohol is very well-integrated, as is the oak; the finish is dry, spicy and lingering. “Truly awesome” is how my notes finish out. It is. 

But it doesn’t stop there (but wait, there’s more!) Unlike so many great wines of late, this wine has a classic, romantic pre-Prohibition package that just says “porto!” to me (literally and figuratively). Simple, stenciled white lettering, no frills (see below), and the bottle actually comes in a very sleek, attractive box—making this the perfect gift idea. I’d be thrilled to get this under the tree, myself. Okay, so, remember way back in the subject line, where I used the word “deal”? I think I also said something about it being “the best ever”. I meant it. We’re talking under $19! I think I’ve said enough…this is the only tawny you need. 

Messias 10 Year Tawny Porto
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $18.15 • Premier Cru: $18.97 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $26.00

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