Staff Favorites - Keith Mabry

Keith Mabry

Reviews

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2008 A.D. Coutelas Vintage Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-18-2018
I've been a big fan of the Coutelas wines since we started bringing them in several years ago. The Cuvee Victor was always one of my favorite to recommend to enthusiasts who wanted their Champagne with a little more esoteric edge since it undergoes a bit of a solera processing with all the reserve wines married together in perpetuity. The Victor is always a real complex stunner for the money. You'll notice it is also one of the most consistently well reviewed wines by our staff. So what about the 2008 vintage bottling from Coutelas? Superb as well. The tension in the vintage shows through with beautiful apple and pear aromas and hints of ginger on the palate. The weight is there for sure but the structure of acidity is focused and pure. I love the low dosage too as the wine has beautiful body so it doesn't warrant any rounding out. A great Champagne for now but a few years would do no harm here and just add a few new layers of complexity, if your'e into that sort of thing. It just so happens that I am.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2015 Domaine du Somail "Vin de Plume" Minervois
Review Date: 07-18-2018
Minervois is about as close to the feel of an old California ghost town as you might see in the south of France. The region is dry, warm and surrounded by scrubby bushes. The rolling hills and mountains in the background give way to fruit that has intensity and power. It almost looks desolate in some places. Paso Robles, Syrah and Mourvedre have become some of the most popular grapes in the region as they are suited to its climate. Domaine du Somail is a relatively new producer that has quickly moved into the spotlight for their non-interventionengaged wine that is beautifully reflective of its region. Mourvedre heavy with the rest Syrah, it has a beautiful meatiness that reminds you a bit of Bandol. Somail farms biodynamically and
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre
Review Date: 07-18-2018
The Cotes Blanches has come a long way since we started our direct relationship. Each year, under the watchful eye of Nicolas Millet, the wine gains in concentration and intensity. The 2017 vintage was tricky with its frost but that never affected quality, just yields. Full of snappy minerality and salinity, the candied lime peel nose follows with notes of crushed pineapple and green papaya. Full of vibrancy it has all the satisfying markers of delicious Sancerre and because of our relationship, we received a healthy allocation over the next few months. This is the kind of Sancerre you'll drink all summer long and well into the cooler months.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2017 Bodegas Colomé Torrontes Valle Calchaquí Salta
Review Date: 07-18-2018
I'm a sucker for Torrontes. The aromatic lift and intense jasmine and tropical tones sing loud and proud. It is a wine that makes a wonderful aperitif and the region of Salta is the best provider. This high altitude lends better acid tension to help balance the panoply of floral and fruit tones that emerge. Fear not, though, this is a dry expression and wants nothing more than to be paired with some fresh farm cheeses or corn and chicken stuffed empanadas.
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart
DC 93 JS 91

2015 Domaine de l'Enchantoir "Le Pied à L'Étrier" Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame Rouge
Review Date: 07-18-2018
Saumur-Puy-Notre-Dame is a newer sub-appellation in the broader Saumur region. On the beautiful tuffeaux (limestone) bench with very poor top soil and at just a little higher elevation than the surrounding area, translates to classic cab-francy goodness. The Enchantoir has vibrant red fruit with notes of brushy herbs. There is bright acidity and a tart cherry tone that makes it sing with the pâtés and duck confit of the region. This is a wonderfully classic expression and makes a great daily drinker.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2017 Domaine Louis Moreau Petit Chablis
Review Date: 07-18-2018
I was fortunate enough to visit Moreau last year while passing from the Rhone Valley to the Loire. We made this not to on-the-way detour and I was happy to have done it. The wines from top to bottom are excellent, expressing some of the best values we have in white Burgdundy from Cote Chalonnaise to Chablis. Petit Chablis always seems like an after thought for many producers, but with Moreau, the wine has crackle and a sinewy frame. There is lots of green apple fruit, wet stones and a whisper of fresh thyme on the palate. It is the perfect accompaniment to so many foods but a classic butter basted pan-fried halibut would be my first choice.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

Arawaks Distillery "Clairin Vaval" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
This trio of Haitian single-estate rums is downright revelatory. Each fits a particular profile for me in how I would approach consuming them. The Vaval is pure earthy goodness and speaks volumes with a cocktail approach. The aromas of plantain, artichoke and green olives emerge with the potency to stand out and keep their integrity with a little mixology in play. Keep it on the simple side, a daquiri is all you need. Great stuff!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Douglas Casimir Distillery "Clairin Casimir" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
My first instinct when I tasted Mezcal was to run away. I loved the much cleaner vegetal and spice tones of Tequila. But my tastes have evolved and I would take a Mezcal over a Tequila almost any day of the week (almost). That first nose on the Casimir sent those same waves down my spine. My mind was discombobulated and the fight or flight instinct arose. I fought and spending even a few more minutes time with it, the savory meaty qualities of this intriguing rum emerged and I was hooked. Aromas of Kalamata olives, cured ham, leeks and ginger engaged my senses and this jumped to the head of the class of one of the coolest and most interesting things I've tasted this year. This is not for the uninitiated but fans of Mezcal and Islay whisky will have an easy time dropping into the Caribbean and feeling right at home.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

Chelo Distillery "Clairin Sajous" Single Estate Haitian Sugarcane Juice Rum (750ml)
Review Date: 07-11-2018
Of these single Haitian estate rums, this is my sipper. I find it the most accessible in flavor profiles for pure clean rum flavors. You have the light vegetal tones of the raw sugar cane notes, but also some sweeter fruit tones and spices that make it so engaging. If I were mixing, a caipirinha would be my drink of choice.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2015 Ritual Chardonnay Casablanca Valley
Review Date: 07-03-2018
The fail safe for most Chardonnay drinkers is California. But why not lean a little south to Chile for an equally engaging and characterful style. Creamy ripe apples, toasted vanilla and a lively yet buttery texture give way to a fabulous drinking Chardonnay. What's not to love?! At twice the price, you would be in Santa Barbara but hey, we're in Chile.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 93

Mortlach 25 Year Old Gordon & Macphail Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 07-03-2018
If you've read this far you probably know that Mortlach is the base component for the Johnnie Walker's but what a shame that it is so rare under its own distillery label. From the beginning the Mortlach brings an assortment of new aromas constantly reshuffling and bringing you back for another sip. It is a beautifully long and complex style with toasted barley, honey and caramelized orange peel flavors that expand on the palate. A non-peated, non-sherry dominant style that shows the beauty of the grain and the character of extended aging. Tremendous!
Price: $219.99 Add To Cart

2012 Louise Brison Brut Champagne
Review Date: 07-03-2018
The Louise Brison wines are my favorite in-between style. Not super acidic, laser beams, nor doughy-biscuity brulees. They are the "just right" in the fruit focused category. Notes of cherry, red apples and a bit of grilled toast with a fine bubble make this is a generous and engaging style that screams summer drinking! With its refreshing palate, it is my new house Champagne for these warm weather months.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2015 Feudi di San Gregorio "Rubrato" Aglianico Irpinia
Review Date: 07-03-2018
Aglianico ranks as one of the best regional grapes to emerge from southern Italy in the last few years. Produced primarily in Campania, this grape loves volcanic soils and always picks up subtle smoky mineral nuances when planted on it. Feudi di San Gregorio has brought us some pretty legendary Aglianico wines from their top DOC Taurasi wines but this value oriented one captures the spirit and essence of the grape beautifully. Plush black plum and raspberry fruit, a bit of mineral nuance, suave tannins and white peppery spices emerge on the palate and give you that beautiful sense of place. Extremely versatile the "Rubrato" delivers the goods and makes the perfect foil for some classic pastas like Cacio e Pepe or even some simply grilled meats.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
JS 95 WE 90

George Dickel "K&L Exclusive" 9 Year Old Single Barrel #L8040K1007 Tennessee Whiskey (750ml)
Review Date: 06-26-2018
I've always been a fan of our single cask American whiskies and the Dickel is no exception. I've amassed quite a few over the years. I tend to just enjoy them so I don't often do a lot of spirits reviews. When I do, it's because something really stood out for me. This cask had such a beautiful nose of toasted spices and vanilla but it was the hint of peach cobbler on the finish that hooked me. Expressive, smooth on the palate (even at cask strength), this is long on finish. Another great K&L cask selection for my own collection.
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart

2015 Savage "White" Western Cape
Review Date: 06-26-2018
This is a wondrous white wine. Sitting somewhere between a Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc and Vouvray, it has a profile that engages the nose and delights the palate. Since it is made of such disparate grape varieties, like Chenin Blanc and Clairette, a muddled quality can often occur but the Savage is a wine greater than the sum of its parts. Aromas of white peaches, quince and papaya are intermixed with a leesy hazelnut tone. The wine has full-bodied texture and simmering acidity that keep it bright and deft on the palate. The only drag to this wine is that I didn't discover it myself. Kudos to Stefanie Juelsgaard, our new South African wine buyer, for finding this wine. It's now one of my new favorites of the year.

2017 Zudugarai "Amats" Getariako Txakolina
Review Date: 06-26-2018
I remember visiting this property several years ago with Spanish buyer Joe Manekin and was immediately taken with the zesty and vibrant nature of the wine. In the evening, we wandered among the pintxo bars in San Sebastian and tasted many Txakolis and Sidres along the way but the "Amats" always ranked as one of my favorites. I'm always happy when a new vintage arrives and I can pound my glass on the table Baque-style sipping this crunchy wine with a little bacalao omelette, some grilled sardines and sheep's-milk cheeses.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2016 Pence Ranch Estate Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Review Date: 06-26-2018
The Pence draws you in with its brambly raspberry fruit and spice undertones and keeps you coming back for more with its silky palate feel. A generous yet balanced style that reminds me of some better know producers like Flowers and Melville but priced smartly and ready to drink. A perfect go-to style for weeknight or weekend drinking, whatever your budget may be.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 WE 92

2015 Martin Ray Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 06-26-2018
Oozing with juicy blackcurrant and blueberry fruit, the Martin Ray is a truly satisfying rendition of a Napa Valley Cabernet. It lands firmly on the side of modern but never quite goes over-the-top and retains its regional character. Fleshy and warm fruit compote on the palate and a sweet lingering finish lead me to one of my favorite drink now styles. It has the advantage of accessibility and drinks like many other Napa Cabs that would be priced twice as much.
Price: $25.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2017 Château Léoube Côtes de Provence Rosé
Review Date: 06-25-2018
Each year, there is a rose bottling that jockeys for the position as wine of the vintage. Look no further! The Leoube is the best expression I have tasted from this property. Made under the watchful eye of Romain Ott (yes, of the Ott family responsible for Domaines Ott), he has crafted a gorgeous wine of texture and precision. Fuller-bodied, deeply fruited, lovely minerality and dry on the finish, this is a cup of sunshine, wrapped in a Mediterranean breeze. Beautiful stuff!
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
DC 95

2011 Foundi "Estate" Xinomavro Naoussa Greece
Review Date: 06-21-2018
Greek wines have really come to the forefront of my radar in the last few years. The whites have been quite magical for some time with the perfumed Moschofileros that sit somewhere between dry Muscat and Viognier on the aromatic scale and the Assyrtikos of Santorini which have been critical darlings for their viscosity and intensity reminiscent of Grand Cru Chablis (but with their own schtick). What about the reds though? Most have been juicy and a touch over-ripe but fun to drink with souvlaki or grilled lamb. But now, I think we have hit the turning point and that comes with the grape called Xinomavro (ksee-NOH-mah-vroh). The grape is often referred to as the Nebbiolo of Greece and it's easy to see why (the grape translates to acid-black) with its bright acidity and leathery tannins and black fruit notes. It has similar smoky gamy qualities too that make it the perfect foil for all the meaty dishes on the Greek (or Mediterranean table). The Foundi estate bottling comes from a single parcel in the hills of Naoussa, one of northern Greece's best regions for Xinomavro production. Other greats from the region have included Karydas (also a single vineyard project) and Kir-Yianni. The Foundi is next level, taking its queue from Barolo and Barbaresco. Mulled cherries, red flowers, savory spices and notes of smoked meats. It is full bodied with fine tannins. As for longevity, sure, you could probably put it away for a few years but it is ultra fun to enjoy now. There is so much potential in these wines, plus its fun to say, "ksee-NOH-mah-vroh."
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 DC 91

2012 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino
Review Date: 06-20-2018
It's not often that I say this is my favortie "Drink Now Brunello" but the generosity of the Fortuna is such that, it is nigh irresistible. Full of perfumed and sexy red fruit, the openness of the vintage shines through but the acid and structure says, "I will drink great for a decade or more." Perfect pairing for some braised lamb shanks or a porcini risotto.

2016 Kaiken "Ultra" Malbec Mendoza Las Rocas
Review Date: 06-20-2018
"Ultra" is right. This is pure juicy Malbec with gorgeous black currant, plum and raspberry fruit. Almost bordering on hedonistic, the polished sweet tannins frame this wine making accentuating the chocolate-y tones. This is the perfect compliment to any Asado (Argentine BBQ) or just classic American fare. My new go-to steak wine.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
JS 94

2015 Bodegas Abanico Hazaña Viñas Viejas Rioja
Review Date: 06-20-2018
The Abanico fires on all cylinders with its generous red and black fruit flavors. This fleshy and modern styled Rioja, makes the perfect crossover wine for people a little intimidated by the more traditional dustier styles of classic Rioja. Perfect pairing for some cumin spiced lamb chops and a salad of bitter greens and herbs.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2016 Cantina Valle Isarco "Aristos" Pinot Grigio
Review Date: 06-06-2018
Most of Italy's best whites come from the Alto Adige region. Cantina Valle Isarco is stellar and already makes one of my favorites - their Kerner. It always blows my mind. I have tasted many of their other whites and they too are huge standouts. And that brings me to their Pinot Grigio which I have tried on many an occasion as well and it always stands head and shoulders above others in the category. The 2016 is no exception with its lovely nose of citrus zest, apple and pear tones and subtle white flower notes. It is sexy and silky and crushes the dynamic that Pinot Grigio is a watered down grape variety. This is a pristine and mineral driven wine that rivals the French Pinot Gris' of that other famous PG producing region - Alsace. What lovely company to keep.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
DC 97

2015 Château Pesquié "Terrasses" Ventoux
Review Date: 06-06-2018
Pesquie is so good at what they do, their wines seem to transcend vintage. The Terrasses in particular always delivers copious fruit with an elegant mouthfeel and supple tannins and continues to be a wine that consistently over-delivers for the money. Pesquie is in the heart of Ventoux at higher elevation protected from the extremes of the Mistral winds so the weather stays consistent. In a great vintage like 2015, all things come together harmoniously to produce one of their best wines in quite some time. (And that is saying something as both the '13 and '14 were pure pleasure in a glass.)
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2015 Guy Farge "Harmonie" Cornas
Review Date: 05-28-2018
What began as an exploratory expedition quickly forged into a new K&L direct relationship. I met Guy Farge through an agent at the ViniSud wine fair back in February. I tasted his line-up and was quickly smitten with the wines. I immediately booked some time to visit him in March when I would visit the Rhone Valley in search of new producers and great wines from the 2015 vintage. Guy makes a range of Northern Rhone wines but he is best known for his two Saint-Joseph cuvees and this knockout Cornas. Farge owns about 2.7 hectares in Cornas with 1.7 of those in the Renard lieu-dit. This crazy sloped parcel sits between two of the most prestigious neighbors you could have in the region - August Clape and Thierry Allemand. We stood at the top of Renarde together and he pointed out his neighbors. Vertigo only begins to describe my reaction. His Cornas vines aren't terraced like the Hermitage or Cote Rotie vineyards (which are still pretty vertigo inducing). I grabbed a handful of granite stones for my collection and slowly climbed my way back to the top of the vineyard. Guy's style of winemaking is pretty traditional, doing stem inclusion during fermentation and barrel aging in barrique with minimal new oak included. This wine is pure Cornas though with its meaty gamy black fruit and leathery tannins. There is a suppleness to the wine and great length. It is an outstanding expression that gives us terrific insight into the ability of this producer and only makes us more excited to see what else is on the horizon.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
JD 94 RP 91

2015 Xavier Vignon Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 05-28-2018
Where the Cuvee Anonyme is pure hedonism, the regular CDP is a touch more traditional. Let's not kid ourselves, Xavier Vignon makes bigger styled wines and we love him for it. This wine though, feels more naturally Chateauneuf. The lovely confiture of cherry and strawberry fruit has a sweet brambly edge that is accented with a nice dose of garrigue and spice. The wine finishes with finesse and length that is part old school but firmly planted in the realm of ripeness. I love the juiciness and want to drink this wine at my next barbecue of garlicky sausages and marinated flank steak. A real treat!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
JD 93 RP 91

2012 Xavier Vignon "Cuvée Anonyme" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 05-28-2018
What a difference a few years makes. I tasted this wine about two years ago and it is was still a little tight but oh, is it coming along nicely nwo. The penetrating fruit has softened somewhat and more of the nuance and spices are beginning to shine through. As the overall profile comes into focus, this wine should hit its full stride in a couple more years but what a pleasure to drink now. Perfect for that mixed grill or perhaps some slow cooked brisket.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 95

2015 Xavier Vignon "Cuvée Anonyme" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 05-28-2018
The 2015 has oodles of fruit. Loaded with liqueur-like concentration, this is one for a little bit of cellaring. If you want to roll with outright hedonism though, go for it. This is like a baby Clos des Papes and at half the price! A must buy for any serious collector or CDP enthusiast!

2015 Xavier Vignon Vacqueyras
Review Date: 05-28-2018
The plateau of Vacqueyras lies just to the south of Gigondas but seems to have more in common with nearby Chateauneuf. The ridge gets the sun exposure and the gravelly soils (smaller than the big pebbles from CDP) provide great drainage driving the roots of the vines down deep into the soil. The wines are downright meaty and Xavier Vignon has captured that quality here. This is bold rich wine that drinks like a top-tier CDP. The roasted fruit explodes from the glass but never comes off as too heavy. Vignon knows how to straddle the fine line between extraction and balance and he does it so well here. Worthy of a decant or a few years down in the cellar, this will not disappoint over the coming years.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 - 93

2015 Xavier Vignon Cairanne
Review Date: 05-28-2018
Cairanne is an often overlooked Cru appellation that is finally getting its due. The sloped hillsides provide great sun exposure delivering beautifully fruit forward and concentrated reds. Not quite as heavy as the wines of neighboring Rasteau but still possessing more blue and black fruit notes. Xavier Vignon has made a gorgeous wine here capturing the essence of the region with its lush body and richness. Not quite full throttle but leaning into the wind for sure. Serve this beauty with some pepper and herb crusted lamb chops and you're in for quite the treat.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 - 93

Xavier Vignon "SM" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 05-28-2018
This blend of Syrah and Mourvedre has all the sexy notes of roasted fruit, smoky garrigue and gamy notes. It is robust and lush and fills all the savory satisfaction I look for in a Rhone wine. Drink this beauty over the next 5-10 years.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

2014 Domaine Vincent Carême "Le Peu Morier" Vouvray Sec
Review Date: 05-22-2018
When you taste a great Vouvray, the purest expression of Chenin Blanc emerges. It is a wine that unfolds with grace and elegance but also underlying power. Dry expressions such as the Careme Le Peu Morier resonate and crackle on the palate with nerve and intensity. The feeling is akin to a Grand Cru Chablis but with more stone fruit notes. The Le Peu Morier even feels like a great Vaudesir from the likes of Dauvissat or Patrick Piuze, with its surge of energy, body and fruit intensity. The profile is still Vouvray, with flavors of grilled nectarine, smoked orange peel, blanched almonds and kumquats. It is harmonious and youthful and is the kind of white you should not fear decanting if you consume it on the young side. Cellaring is definitely not out of order here either. With a few more years, the flavors will enjoy even greater depth. This is a true beauty and a worthy wine for anyone who enjoys stunning whites of all shapes and sizes.
Price: $27.99 Add To Cart
W&S 95 WE 92

2015 Château Saint-Roch "Chimères" Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
Review Date: 05-22-2018
There is no shortage of fans of Jean-Marc Lafage's wines here at K&L and I happen to be in that camp. The Chimeres is robust, full bodied and long on the palate with its meaty smoky brambly black fruit and roasted mineral notes. It is classic Roussillon. This wine will deliver for hours in the glass and maybe even a few extra days in the bottle if you don't finish it right away. Never a problem though at my house when Lafage is behind the winemaking.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2016 Baron de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône Blanc
Review Date: 05-15-2018
Rudi des Pins of Montfaucon is a Clairette guy. Not to be confused with the red wine synonym for Bordeaux, Clairette is a WHITE grape variety that offers distinct mineral notes and crisper acidity for wines made in the south of France. Rudi makes a pure Clairette from his oldest vines but his Cotes du Rhone Blanc is a more fruit forward blend that adds a little Grenache Blanc and Viognier to round out the flavors and provide lovely orchard fruit notes. This white is loaded with white peach, pear and light jasmine tones. It is lightly floral and pure deliciousness. Serve this with a salad of smoked trout over greens or grilled halibut with a seasonal fruit compote slathered over it.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WS 92

2016 Clos du Gaimont Vouvray Sec
Review Date: 05-14-2018
Delivering all things good in a Vouvray, this 100% Chenin Blanc hits the right notes with beautiful caramelized apple, candied orange peel and the ever present quince paste. Lots of texture, vibrant acidity and a dry finish and you have one of the best values in Vouvray I have tasted in quite some time. I want to drink the heck out of this and if you find a couple bottles in your cellar in a few years, even better.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
W&S 92 WE 91

2016 Clos de la Bonnette Collines Rhodannienes Syrah Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 05-14-2018
This special Syrah comes from an old-vine vineyard parcel just outside the Cote-Rotie appellation. It is loaded with brambly, peppery black fruit flavors and delivers the classic northern Rhone profile with a little more heft and lift. It is a pure expression of the beauty of Syrah and that is what Clos de la Bonnette represents. This is a wine that resonates and drinks like a Cote-Rotie but for half the price. You also don't need to wait long, the 2016 vintage provides lovely fruit generosity and supple tannins. This is a real treat for fans of the Northern Rhone and Syrah in general.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2016 Clos de la Bonnette "Roches d'Arbuel" Condrieu
Review Date: 05-14-2018
I have the softest of spots in my heart for the vineyards and wines of Clos de la Bonnette. What proprietors Isabelle Guiller and Henri Montabonnet have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable. Restoring this ancient vineyard in Condrieu is the biggest labor of love I have seen in my many years in the wine industry. It is a beautiful site and the wines it is producing are exceptional. Isabelle leans towards the more restrained style of aromatics in her Condrieu. The wine shows an Anjou pear nose and lovely finesse with light jasmine notes. It is balanced and harmonious which is not something we always say with Viognier based wines. This is purity defined and so elegant, I can't resist it.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 JD 90

2015 Château de Montfaucon Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 05-14-2018
Rhone red season doesn't really begin for me until the new vintage of Montfaucon arrives. Always held back a little longer to give the fruit, spice and structure to fully integrate, the new 2015 is smoking! Beautiful raspberry and dried blueberry flavors are harmonious with the peppery spices and crushed herbs that make Cotes-du-Rhone fruit so fun and accessible. The new Cotes-du-Rhone offers such vivid regional flavors, that it's no surprise that it is getting even more critical attention this year. Perfect for your backyard barbecues, weekday meals or for bringing over to friends' houses for immediate consumption. Plenty of fruit intensity and structure allows you to forget a handful of bottles in your collection to rediscover in a few years as well.
Drink from 2018 to 2018
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2016 Moulin de la Gardette "Cuvée Ventabren" Gigondas
Review Date: 05-14-2018
My visit to Gardette in 2017 consisted of tasting the 2015 vintage, just freshly bottled, and some barrel tasting of the 2016s. Both went well beyond impressive to say the least. The 2016 though had so much depth of flavor, it is no surprise that Jean-Baptiste Meunier, proprietor of Gardette, declared it the best vintage he has ever made. This past March, I returned to taste the now bottled 2016s and barrel taste the 2017s (also impressive but something we'll examine next year when those wines are ready). Jaw-dropping was my reaction. The Cuvee Ventabren had such power and weight behind it but extraordinary balance. It was a new benchmark rivaling the top cuvees from Saint-Cosme (Jean-Baptiste's dear friend) for a fraction of the price. The Ventabren is definitely cellar-worthy with its beguiling spice box nose and perfume of garrigue and incense. Deep blackberry fruit comes in waves accented by the panoply of those surrounding aromas. The Ventabren is not a hedonistic style outright but one that is more savory and spicy capturing what makes the region so different from Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I often find myself relishing the wines of Gigondas more than the CDPs, not just because they represent greater value but they can match the quality of Chateauneuf without losing a step. Don't miss this extraordinary bottling from one of our favorite producers as it won't last long in the stores.

2015 Domaine des Remizières "Cuvée Christophe" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 05-09-2018
This is now our third year working with Remizieres and each year the wines just keep delivering more and more. This is a rubber meets the road kind of vintage, where a really good producer in what is one of the greatest years on record delivering what will surely be an iconic bottle of wine. And it's only $25 a bottle? The "Cuvee Christophe" comes from the most select parcels of the Crozes portion of the estates property and it shows. The vines average age is around 65, all on clay-limestone soils. Where the basic Crozes had lovely pointed fruit, this "Christophe" comes from a much deeper place. Layers of blue and black fruit aromas unfold on the nose and deliver a rich saturated palate in the mouth. There is so much going on, I couldn't get my notes down fast enough. Sexy now but oh what a sweet treat to find some (or in my case many) bottles stashed in a cellar in a few years. And it's only $25! Do not miss this!!

2015 Christophe Billon "Les Elotins" Côte-Rotie
Review Date: 05-08-2018
A visit to Christophe Billon was one of the highlights of my 2017 buying trip. Winding up the back roads of Cote Rotie, the dramatic hillsides of mica-schist resonate with character. And it takes a little character to farm these dangerously steep slopes. Christophe Billon is that person, sussing out the best his vineyards have to offer. Myself and a colleague sampled through his lovely and open 2014s but when we barrel-tasted the 2015s, the line-up was something to behold. Billon's "Les Elotins” fruit all comes from Billon's Côte Brune vineyard. From barrel, the wine had a gorgeous core of concentrated cherry fruit. It was persistent on the palate and finished with a panoply of baking spices. It was harmonious and full of life. A stunning opening to the rest of his series. Now that the wine has arrived in the states, I have had a chance to revisit and was equally, if not more impressed. The firm edges have rounded and the fruit is beautifully elegant. More of the hallmark flavors of Côte Rotie have begun to emerge with the garrigue and spices exploding from the glass. Nearly drinkable now (it is with a decant and a hearty meal), a few short years in the cellar should deliver even more as this wine has a lot to offer.

2015 Christophe Billon "La Brocarde" Côte-Rotie
Review Date: 05-08-2018
Coming from Christophe's most select parcel in Côte Brune, the young tannic structure was present but it could not conceal the aromas of blueberry, potpourri and leather. It was highly expressive and an exceptional way to finish the round of tasting. This wine put the accent point on our visit with Billon. I left the cellar incredibly smitten with the Billon wines and I cannot stress enough that it’s time to get on board before this train leaves the station.

2016 Domaine de Pallus "Messanges" Chinon
Review Date: 05-02-2018
Cabernet Franc is my favorite weeknight wine. They always provide everything I want with a flavor profile somewhere near a mellow cabernet meets a pinot noir. And they are so versatile with food. They go with my homemade chili, pan fried pork chops or that rotisserie chicken I picked up at Costco. The region of Chinon is probably the most recognizable region in Cabernet Franc production and with good reason. Sitting at the conjunction of the Vienne and Loire Rivers, Chinon has a mixture of varied soils from sand and gravel to calcareous clay and of course the region's signature limestone bench upon which it all sits. The most generous and fruit driven wines (aka, the drinkers) tend to come from the gravel and sand and are my favorite wines for daily consumption. The "Messanges" delivers all of that and a bag of chips (which it can go with well, too). It has a gorgeous nose of brambly red fruit, subtle rose and violet tones and a smooth and supple palate with balancing acidity and tannins. It is ripe, harmonious and makes Tuesday nights so much more interesting.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
WS 90

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre Rosé (375ml)
Review Date: 05-01-2018
The Sancerre rosé from Domaine des Côtes Blanches is always a treat and always one of my favorite Pinot Noir rosés of the season. This shows a lighter color with an elegant nose of white flowers, fresh picked strawberries and a crisp cherry finish. The Côtes Blanches is the perfect accompaniment to salmon glazed with a mustard tarragon sauce or mussels steamed with garlic, sausage, and of course, a little rosé wine!
Price: $9.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre Rosé (1.5L)
Review Date: 05-01-2018
The Sancerre rosé from Domaine des Côtes Blanches is always a treat and always one of my favorite Pinot Noir rosés of the season. This shows a lighter color with an elegant nose of white flowers, fresh picked strawberries and a crisp cherry finish. We have a limited number of magnums suitable for your summertime drinking needs. The Côtes Blanches is the perfect accompaniment to salmon glazed with a mustard tarragon sauce or mussels steamed with garlic, sausage, and of course, a little rosé wine!
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine des Côtes Blanches Sancerre Rosé
Review Date: 05-01-2018
The Sancerre rosé from Domaine des Côtes Blanches is always a treat and always one of my favorite Pinot Noir rosés of the season. This shows a lighter color with an elegant nose of white flowers, fresh picked strawberries and a crisp cherry finish. Even more fun, we have a limited number of half bottles and magnums suitable for all your summertime drinking needs. The Côtes Blanches is the perfect accompaniment to salmon glazed with a mustard tarragon sauce or mussels steamed with garlic, sausage, and of course, a little rosé wine!
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2014 Domaine de la Begude Bandol Rouge
Review Date: 04-30-2018
I taste a lot of wine and fortunately I have a lot of "Wow, that is great!" moments. Every once in awhile, you have an emotional connection with a wine that goes beyond "Wow, delicious." This Bandol gave me one of those moments. Bandol is the home base for Mourvedre, a rustic meaty grape that shows it best potential when coming from the heavy calcareous-clay soils from the region. It is a couple of kilometers in from the Mediterranean Sea and the high sun-exposed hills and cool breezes from the sea give the grape the necessary climate to express its best self. Domaine Tempier is probably the benchmark for producers in the region and the wines are deep rich and long lived, and once needed decades to evolve. The overt rusticity in general though has drifted towards the background, ever present but no longer dominant. The winemaking in general is just so much cleaner that gamy nuances are from the Mourvedre fruit and not from brettanomyces, which was prevalent in the old-school wines. So that brings me to Begude. The property is ancient going back centuries but proprietors Guillaume and Soledad Tari are more recent additions to the region coming to Bandol in 1996. With a background and family in Bordeaux, they brought those sensibilities to Bandol, making pure, focused and gorgeous wines. I tasted it a couple of months ago and thought this is a great wine for our French Regional program and we would be happy to have it on our shelves. Now that it has arrived, I tasted it again and BOOM, I was transported. The dusty spices, the smell of the surrounding forest, the warm confiture of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, notes of toasted nori, the harmonious tannins and sweet long finish. It was everything I didn't know I wanted until I had it. It was definitive. So this part of the story, I would usually recommend buying some bottles, some to drink now, some to put away, but it goes beyond that. I want you to drink this wine. Not because it's ready, but because it's special and in your glass, you will have the definition of what this region is - the warm sunny days, cooling sea breezes, ancient seabed soils, gorgeous surrounding forests and that special grape, Mourvedre. This is what Bandol is and you should have it now.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2010 Domaine de Montbourgeau Vin Jaune de l'Etoile (620ml)
Review Date: 04-19-2018
This is one of the most harmonious young Vin Jaune's I've tasted in quite some time. I say young because the wine spends 7 years under the traditional layer of yeast before bottling making this the current release. These kinds of wines have an almost indefinable history of longevity. I've had some going back to the forties and they are exquisite. I know people who've tasted further back than that with the same kinds of results. What makes Vin Jaune so special in general and this in particular is the layers of unique flavors that persist from nose to palate to finish. Explosive aromas of tamarind, salted apples, caramelized walnuts lead to a palate of smoked lemon peel and light peat tones all while having beautiful acidity and balance. The finish persists for minutes if not longer. All this in a dry wine! It is unique and not necessarily for everyone but if you are open, trust me you'll be in all the way. And when you try it, make sure to have a hunk of Comte cheese on hand. There is no better pairing in the wine universe.
Price: $76.99 Add To Cart
RP 97

2012 Domaine de Montbourgeau "Cuvée Speciale" l'Etoile
Review Date: 04-19-2018
A bit more of an outlier, the Cuvee Speciale is all Chardonnay aged sous voile like a Vin Jaune. Not quite as long but it has all of those beautiful qualities. Brined apples, sweet spices, dried pineapple and roasted almonds, it has a quality that resonates on the palate. If you've had Vin Jaune before, you'll know what I'm talking about but the feel here is a touch fresher and feels a tad rounder since the grape is Chardonnay. It is a gorgeous expression worthy of any Jura collector or someone looking to explore a little outside the box.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
RP 94

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