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Staff Favorites - Keith Mabry

Keith Mabry

Reviews

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2015 Bodegas Palacios Remondo "La Montesa" Crianza Rioja
Review Date: 11-13-2018
Outside my specialty categories of the Rhone and Loire Valleys, my next destination is always Rioja. Some of my favorite reds range from the daily drinker Crianzas to the ultra-chic and collectible Gran Reservas. "La Montesa" sits quietly towards the daily drinker side but what a drinker indeed. It is fleshy and beautifully fruited with all the spices that mark a classic Rioja. Smooth and supple it does not wear down the palate with oomph. It is balanced. My new go-to wine for a plate of grilled lamb chops, some roasted vegetables and a Garbanzo bean salad.

2016 Domaine Nerantzi Assyrtiko Serres Greece
Review Date: 11-13-2018
Assyrtiko is taking the world by storm! The most famous examples come from the island of Santorini but there are many exciting new releases coming from the mainland as well, like this rich and lush example from Serres region. The Nerantzi reminds me of grilled peaches with a drizzle of honey. Less saline than their island counterparts as the salt air doesn't whip through this area but the flavors are pure and plentiful. This is perfect cool weather white demanding a place on the table for full flavored pork and chicken dishes and is equally suitable for most holiday meals!
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
W&S 94

2016 Domaine de l'Aigle À Deux Têtes Poulsard "Les Clous" Côtes du Jura Rouge
Review Date: 11-13-2018
The wines of Henri Le Roy are incredibly special. This former bio-chemist is making some of the purest expressions of Jura varietals in the region. Using a more nouveau topped off style known as Ouille, the wines crackle with fresh fruit flavors but never lose their underlying Jura complexity. The Poulsard is one of my favorite expressions of this varietal in the region. Filled with spicy red fruit, including notes of dried raspberry, incense, tea leaves and potpourri, it is on the lighter side of medium bodied but still offers mouthfilling flavors. This is the perfect style for those wanting to get away from hedonism and want pure expressive balance. Like a fine Marsannay but even more elegant. And it ages!!
Top Value!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 11-13-2018
On the hunt for a superb classic rendering of Chateauneuf? The 2010 Jaufrette harkens back to a time when the savory qualities of the region were classically expressed. The Chateauneuf is the richest by far of the three offerings but never comes off as heavy. The 2010 shows ripe but mature fruit flavors and the minerality shines through. Reminds me of the classic Chateauneufs from the 80s and 90s but with a little more polished mouthfeel. I would put a couple of these away to discover in a few more years but I am truly pleased to drink this now.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart

2010 Domaine de la Jaufrette Vacqueyras
Review Date: 11-13-2018
The Vacqueyras is probably my favorite of the three wines to drink right now. It has a nose of deep roasted cherry with fresh tilled earth and roasted cocoa nibs. There is a lot to like here with a supple texture and generous palate. It is still super old school winemaking. This is persistent on the palate and the wine just keeps giving. I spent a few days with a bottle and even at the end, the wine just kept giving more. My highest recommendation!
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart

2012 Domaine de la Jaufrette Côtes-du-Rhone
Review Date: 11-13-2018
We introduced the Jaufrette wines a couple of years back and I am so pleased we have a new batch to offer. One of the coolest discoveries, the wines are held back several years before release to express the most classic qualities of the region. The 2012 is the current release and is out of the glass intriguing showing detailed maturity. The Cotes-du-Rhone expresses black fruit flavors with savory notes of shiitake mushroom, tobacco leaf and peppery spices on the palate. Give it a half hour in a decanter and the wine expands even further. It has the length and complexity but does command a little food. Grilled garlicky sausages or some Cotes de Boeuf sounds about right. This is pretty serious stuff and one of my favorites right now.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 Gentilini Robola of Cephalonia Greece
Review Date: 11-07-2018
Greece is on fire. There's no other way to put it. The white wines of Santorini have been selling like gangbusters but there are so many other grape varieties from other parts of Greece that are worthy of your attention. Robola of Cephalonia (Kef-a-lonia) is one such ancient heirloom strain. It is lively and mineral driven at first with wonderful tension behind it. It reminds me a bit of Chablis with its stony nose and palate profile of citrus and green apples but finishes with a clean rounded quality that harkens to the best that Muscadet has to offer. This is the perfect foil for all things plucked from the sea, but particularly noteworthy if paired with some of the salty fresh cheeses of Greece.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2016 Domaine de Bila Haut "L'Esquerda" Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde
Review Date: 11-07-2018
I was fortunate enough to visit Bila Haut a few years ago when traveling through the Roussillon. One of their most striking vineyard sites, also a little different than the normal schist and gneiss soil types that make up most of the region, is the site that produces the l'Esquerda. This is all on granite. The wine is impactful, much like the hard rock that the vines sit upon. Lifted aromas of blackberry, lavendar plus a beautifully spice layered nose deliver a wine that has a much finer more elegant mouthfeel than its sibling the "Occultum Lapidem." Where Occultum is brawny and muscular, this is sleek and refined. I have tasted several vintages over the years from this winery and this is a standout among standouts. Worthy of a multi-bottle purchase - and we even have some amazing large format bottles.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 - 96

2015 Sullivan Family "Estate" Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-07-2018
The Sullivan Cabernet is such a powerful wine it evokes many memories. Located in the Rutherford district the winery is among the company of the historic greats like Inglenook, Caymus and Del Dotto. But the style of the wine reminds me of the some of my favorite super-boutique producers from the late 90s and early 2000s like Behren's & Hitchcock and Pride Mountain. The Sullivan is at first sumptuous and lush with the mouthfeel and concentration of those top producers. The wine delivers full-force and the flavors roll accross the palate in waves ranging from cassis and creme de mure (blackberry) ultimately reaching a crescendo of Tahitian vanilla and dried sage. The finish goes on for minutes. At almost half it's original price it stands over everything else in its class right now and is a wonderful walk down memory lane.
Price: Hidden View Price
JS 94 RP 91

2014 Château Bouscassé Madiran
Review Date: 11-07-2018
Proprietor Alain Brumont, the revolutionary force of Madiran, is back with one of his best new wines yet! Madiran is best known for producing wines with jaw-breaking structure but Brumont perfected the accessibility of the Tannat grape through his strict selection of fruit and winemaking practices. His original family propery - Chateau Bouscasse is still one of the best examples from the region and has all the satisfying hallmark characteristics. Flavors of melted licorice, menthol, black currants, roasted plums and cocoa husks saturate the pallet but the tannins, while present, add a supple and fulfilling mouthfeel that gives so much body to this wine. That essential velvety structure of the wine usually requires years of bottle age to obtain but Brumont's abilities put this wine in reach of near-term consumption. Another amazing follow-up to the past vintages, 2010 and 2012. Cellaring is an option but as we approach the cooler seasons, this would make quite the foil for decadently rich braises and stews.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
WE 94

2015 Cave de Tain "Grand Classique" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 11-06-2018
The beauty of Cave de Tain does not just emanate from the breathtaking view of the hill of Hermitage as you glance out the window from their tasting room. It is the fact that this cooperative has transcended that status and become one of the clearest cut examples of soil to glass expressions in their Rhone wines. The facility is a mix of state-of-the-art and tradition. The old cellars are surrounded by modern tanks and it is a happy medium of both worlds. The winemaking is clear cut and low intervention which is the best way to get that pure expression of each terroir. None embodies that philosophy more than this pristine little Crozes-Hermitage. It has a gorgeous nose of brambly black fruit, dusty Mediterranean herbs and spices and savory smoky meats. It is not overt though, inviting you in and giving you the the most polished mouthfeel and sweet tannins. One of our favorite Rhone authorities, Jeb Dunnuck calls this "probably the top co-op in the world," and when you taste this wine, its hard not to agree.

2017 Chante Cigale Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
Review Date: 10-31-2018
Here is a prime example of why we LOVE to buy direct from noteworthy producers. First, we save a lot of money. Second, we can offer prices at significant savings when we eliminate an importer and distributor, thus offering YOU greater savings. Third, we gain access to larger amounts of gems like the Chante Cigale Chateauneuf Blanc when they get the critical recognition they deserve. Perhaps one of the greatest values to be had in a CDP Blanc, this blend of equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and for the first time - Picpoul. It captures the essence of whites from the south of France with its expressive and vibrant nature. Most CDP Blanc is on the heavy side but the Chante Cigale is pure freshness spending most of its life in tank with just a tiny fraction in barrel. Crunchy stone fruit of nectarine and peaches harmonize with flavors of star fruit and Anjou pear. Light floral notes of honeysuckle add dimension and the wine finishes long with notes of wet stone. Great example of terroir, great example of a white Rhone and BEST example of why we love to bring wines to you through our Direct Import program.
Price: $26.99 Add To Cart
RP 92 VN 91

2016 Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné "Domaine de Thalabert" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 10-31-2018
Vigneron Caroline Frey of Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux purchased Jaboulet several years ago and every year the quality and character of the terroir is expressed that much further. A wonderful follow up to the 2015 vintage, the new 16 is actually a bit more approachable than its counterpart. Where 2015s are meant for the ages and will need some time, the 2016s aren't as shrouded in their tannic cloaks and make for much more elegant and inviting drinking. This 100% Syrah is enchanting and full of lush raspberry and strawberry fruit. Peppery spice and incense fill the glass. The tannins are smooth and velvety. This is delicious. Perfect now but even more classic character if left alone for a few more years. Who am I to wait, though?

2016 Clos Saint-Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 10-31-2018
The 2016s continue to fire on all cylinders and this is maybe the most concentrated and most satisfyingly rich Vieilles Vignes I have tasted from Clos Saint Jean. The wine is front loaded with flavors of Chambord and kirsch but it has deep notes of cocoa powder and light licorice notes complementing the finish. It is a wine with a long future ahead of it and our price is one of the sharpest in the country. It is a must for collector's looking for some wines that will deliver in just a few short years and many more to come.

2016 Domaine Clos de Sixte Lirac
Review Date: 10-31-2018
Chateauneuf's little brother across the river, Lirac, produces some of the most serious but often off the radar gems in the Rhone. Vigneron extraordinaire, Alain Jaume helms this property and it is SERIOUS! It also doesn't hurt that it is coming from one of the best vintages in the last two decades. Plush and full of rich cherry and blackberry fruit, the silky and saturated palate delivers waves of flavors from anise to allspice to clove and finishes with a touch of sandalwood. Also keeping in with the quality of the vintage is the beautiful freshness of the fruit and the acid balance. This is top-tier Lirac of the highest order and can easily compete with some of the best from across the river.
Price: $21.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 JD 92

2015 Domaine Les Pins "Le Clos les Pins" Bourgueil
Review Date: 10-23-2018
I am a Cabernet Franc enthusiast to say the least. The wines possess many of the classic Cabernet family of flavors but with a more medium bodied texture. Plus they have their own savory something that makes them so engaging and that's why they are one of my favorite daily drinkers. We've been working with Domaine les Pins for a few years and the wines are always inviting. The entry-level Les Rochettes is full of perfume and has elegant tannins. The Le Clos, from an older vine parcel, is something even more special though. Deep and earthy, it has more body than the Rochettes and offers up a nose of black cherry, olive tapenade and oolong tea. It has a bit of classic funk too that plants it in the old world. And for well south of $20 my weeknights just got a whole lot better.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2016 Fèlsina Chianti Classico
Review Date: 10-17-2018
I have a soft spot in my heart for Felsina. This was one of the first wines I collected when I first began my career in the wine business some twenty years ago. I still find myself drawn to it every time a new vintage arrives. Always balanced, the regular 2016 Classico shows the nice levity of the vintage with a pretty perfume of cherry, lavender and red currants. It is elegant, classic and the perfect foil for some pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale [pappardelle with wild boar (or pork shoulder if you can't find wild boar!)].
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
JS 93 RP 92

2015 Querciabella Chianti Classico
Review Date: 10-17-2018
Querciabella has always been one of my favorite Tuscan reds and it continues to deliver what I love in Sangiovese - warm red fruit flavors of raspberry ganache, chocolate covered cherries and baking spices that build to a silky finish. The warmth of the vintage shines through in this sexy and sultry Chianti. I can think of nothing better to go with my Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

2014 Tenuta Roveglia "Vigne di Catullo" Lugana Riserva
Review Date: 10-17-2018
One of my big standouts at our latest Italian seminar was this little Lugana white. Generously fruited with flavors of peaches and candied Meyer lemon peel, it finishes with a silky luscious palate of fresh ginger and pear. This encapsulates everything I'm looking for in a dry white going into the holiday season. What a pleasure!

2014 d'Arenberg "The Dead Arm" Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia
Review Date: 10-17-2018
I had almost forgotten what a pleasure the Dead Arm from d'Arenberg is. Years ago, this was my go to wine from Australia with its generous fruit and savory spices. I remember buying a six pack of the 2002 and drinking it over the subsequent years and loving it every time. This new vintage reminds me of that past one with its deep flavors of blueberry and Maraska cherries with a touch of minty goodness. This ripeness persists but good focus and balance keep it on point. I'm equally glad to see the price has not reached the stratosphere either but given the pedigree and consistent quality, this wine from another region could've fetched twice the price. Wonderful!

2014 Ramey "Platt Vineyard" Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Review Date: 10-17-2018
Wow! It's no surprise to me that I had this reaction from one of David Ramey's California Chardonnays. He always manages to get the right balance of fleshy fruit to creamy oak just right. This reaches another level for me though. The note of Key lime on the palate gives a lift to this that provides lively acidity and backbone to a pretty full-bodied white. A note of graham cracker crust takes me the rest of the way for this utterly engaging white. A touch reminiscent of Meursault but firmly California, there is a LOT to like here.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 95 WE 93

2013 Conn Creek "Anthology" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 10-17-2018
I love old school Napa Cabernets and this hits all the right notes for me. Generous cassis and blackcurrant fruit that has a lively freshness behind it. This is full but not heavy and is the perfect under-priced buy from California right now.
Price: $34.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2015 Black Slate "Porrera" Priorat
Review Date: 10-17-2018
The color and density of this wine are as "black" as the slate that this comes from. A generous and Priorato with flavors of candied fig, roasted plum and savory spices that delivers layer upon layer of flavor. Plenty of juicy acidity keeps the wine from being heavy on the palate and should give the wine lots of cellaring potential. But why wait, if you don't have to. This is dynamite right now!
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
JD 93 RP 91

2017 Bedouet "Clos des Grands Primos" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 10-17-2018
The Bedouet wines are one of our great new "gets" from the Loire Valley. The wines are farmed organically and are great expressions of terroir. The Clos des Grands Primos is all from a single-parcel planted over a mix of gneiss and mica-schist soils. The minerality crackles through, but 2017 is a generous vintage and there are beautiful fruit notes of peach and nectarine rounding out the yellow apple and citrus flavors. For those looking for clean dry whites, this should be your first stop. Great with all kinds of foods, especially shellfish, so I think a lovely crab salad with arugula and fresh grapefruit and orange sounds about right.
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2012 La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Review Date: 10-15-2018
The La Fortuna just hums in the glass. It is full of incense and potpourri with beautiful red fruit and a panoply of baking spices. It is full bodied, still a bit youthful but given some hearty fare this will really come to life. A wonderful rendition of Brunello Riserva that will elevate any meal!
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart
WS 97

2016 Casa Castillo Monastrell Jumilla
Review Date: 10-15-2018
I'm a big fan of all forms Mourvedre/Monastrell. From the burly outsized wines of France's Bandol region to the generous more supple versions from Spain's Jumilla. Roasted black plums with savory notes of crushed herbs and a lilt of lavender on the finish, this is pure and expressive. Sweet tannins and a lingering finish, this is a bold and expressive rendition that will enjoy near term consumption. I'm having it with some marinated and grilled skirt steak!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2016 Jeff Carrel "Les Darons" Languedoc Rouge
Review Date: 10-10-2018
So much fruit and so easy to like, I can't get enough of this perennial winner. From a little vineyard sourced outside of Minervois and Carcassonne, this captures the essence of Languedoc with it raspberry coulis fleshiness and its supple sweet structure. Not just all fruit all the time, there is some nice underlying mineral notes that keep you in the south of France lending a more complex edge to an everyday drinker. Always a pleasure!
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
JD 91

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Côtes Capelan" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 10-10-2018
My initial wine note when I tasted this at Prowein was Whoa! Some six months later, and having recently retasted, I have to affirm my initial notes. Stephane Vedeau's wines are exquisitely balanced, full of terroir and overall fun to drink, even on the youthful side, because they show a range beyond full fruited hedonism. The Cotes Capelan may have a little of that lurking beneath though. It is fleshy, wild and perfumed. The glass erupts with incense, baking spices and gorgeous layers of black cherry fruit and savory herbs. This is a wine that develops and engulfs you. Whoa indeed!

2017 Gaia Estate "Thalassitis" Assyrtiko Santorini Greece
Review Date: 10-10-2018
The wines of Santorini have exploded in quality over the last few years and one of the standouts is definitely the Thalassitis from Gai’a Estate. The aromas of fresh cut melon, sea salt air and charred lemon peel make for some of the most engaging and inviting wines for food pairing. This is classic with some grilled meaty fish over coals with a shot of lemon and some fresh olive oil. But the grape Assyrtiko is kind of a red wine drinker’s white. It works equally well with stewed pork and lamb dishes. Can you ask for much more?
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 WE 90

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Vendange" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Stephane's style of winemaking shows best in the Vendange. Working with minimal intervention, he is expressing the purity of the fruit in his wines. The warm gravelly soils give richer and riper profiles the Chateauneuf wines and they are evident here but it's the underlying acidity that give the wine lift and freshness that is sometimes at odds with more opulently extracted styles. This is just right though, showing gorgeous cherry compote and violet tones. Imminently appealing but worthy of a short stay in the cellar.

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Jugunda" Gigondas
Review Date: 10-09-2018
We've reached critical mass here. Of all the wines in Stephane Vedeau's portfolio, this may be my biggest standout. Everything in the glass screams Gigondas, from the panoply of garrigue and black pepper notes to the brambly blackberry and red cherry fruits. The palate is fleshy, the tannins are sweet, this is a real humdinger of a wine.

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Le Rif" Vacqueyras
Review Date: 10-09-2018
The Vacqueyras delivers that next level that a Cru should deliver. From sandy and gravelly soils surrounded by forests, this has the hallmarks of Vacqueyras, from aromas of garrigue and potpourri to the pointed raspberry coulis fleshiness on the palate. This is sumptuous and quite accessible now. A year or two in the cellar will yield even more.

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Le Ponnant" Côtes du Rhône-Villages
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Capturing the essence of a Cotes du Rhone is no easy task but this Villages level wine from winemaker Stephane Vedeau delivers everything you could hope to find... and more. From the older vine parcels in this plot, the nose on Le Ponnant summons aromas of potpourri, garrigue and Moroccan spices. The palate exudes flavors of red currants, Rainier cherries, and cardamon. This is pure, classic and unadulterated Rhone. Another star value from this vintage!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
DC 92 RP 92

2016 La Ferme du Mont "Première Côte" Côtes du Rhône
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Where to begin with Stephane Vedeau's wines? From top to bottom, they offer great character and quality that is each indicative of their terroir. The basic Premier Cote is a great place to start. Coming from the younger vines on this site, the wine is loaded with so much fresh red berry fruit. Opening with raspberries and strawberries the wine moves into bright floral tones on the palate. This is a wildly fruited and engaging style. You'll taste it and be back for more in no time.
Price: $11.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

2017 Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini Greece
Review Date: 10-09-2018
Sigalas is Santorini's benchmark producer. Paras Sigalas has created one of the island's most frequented wineries and its most sought after wine. The oily texture of Assyrtiko is striking when you first try it. Surrounded by notes of white flowers, roasted pears and dried lemon peel it is a long and inviting wine. There is no surprise that this has the structure to age. I visited Sigalas a few years ago where our group experienced a mini-vertical. Paras kept pulling out older bottles until we went back almost ten years. The sweet spot for me was about the three to five year range. The wines opened with creamier but very integrated palates and more pronounced fruit and smoky mineral notes. It was if the wines picked up more fruit along the way. Not saying that you should, but if you did age a few bottles, you would be in for a real treat. The Sigalas is one of the Mediterranean's most elite and interesting whites that needs to be experienced.
Price: $31.99 Add To Cart
RP 93

2013 Bagueri Ribolla Gialla Slovenia
Review Date: 10-09-2018
My initial experience with the grape Ribolla Gialla came from my tastings with our Italian buyer Greg St. Clair. Early in my K&L career, he introduced me to the grape through our relationships with producers Blason and Ermacora, both great Friulian wineries. Greg was also buying a lot of the Slovenian wines at the time because in this particular part of the country, the border between Italy and Slovenia is quite porous and many producers actually own vineyards on both sides of the border. In some cases they even straddle the demarcation line. I was smitten with the grape seeking out as many examples as I could find from both Italy and Slovenia (and even Croatia). When I tasted the Bagueri, I knew I needed to bring this wine in and find what I think will be a very engaged and excited audience. The flavor profile of the grape itself is akin to Pinot Gris (the more phenolic rich kinds found in Alsace) or a full bodied Gruner Veltliner. The Bagueri is all of that and more... Densely packed with a mineral driven and lush texture, the fruit in the mouth has a wonderful roasted nectarine and grilled Meyer lemon quality. The finish is long and superbly unctuous. This is a perfect cool winter white as it would pair beautifully with heavier dishes and fall spices. Roasted squash soup or a bean stew with braised pork and a side of roasted apples sounds about right or go simple and serve it with some softer creamier aged cheeses. This is wonderfully versatile and engaging and I think you'll be as equally smitten as I was when I tasted this grape so many years ago.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
DC 97

2017 Abbazia di Novacella Schiava Alto Adige
Review Date: 10-03-2018
Schiava is one of those grapes that often gets overlooked but it represents everything I look for in a regional Italian (or really any European) wine. It is medium weight, full of pretty and engaging flavors and has real character. Flavors of Bing cherries, rose petals and spices perfume the glass. This is the kind of wine you want to plop down and drink in a cafe while the world wanders by.
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart

2015 La Massa "La Massa" Toscana
Review Date: 10-03-2018
Want to drink Super Tuscan style for Chianti-like prices? Look no further than the 2015 La Massa. Brimming with beautiful red cherry and blackberry fruit, the wine is fleshy and forward but feels imminently Italian. If I said it drinks like Tignanello for 1/5th the price that might be a slight overstatement but it does drink exceptionally well and puts you in the ballpark for sure. What a gorgeous value!

2016 Cécile Chassagne Gigondas
Review Date: 10-03-2018
One of my favorite K&L stories begins on an airplane with our Main Wine Buyer Emeritus and K&L co-founder Clyde Beffa. While traveling from a wine fair in Bordeaux back to the states, he was seated next to Cecile Chassagne, herself a winemaker and exporter. The two chatted and became fast friends and soon we were importing Cecile's wines. The origin of Cecile's property begins with her father, a man instrumental in carving out vineyards in the hills surrounding Gigondas in the 1960s and 1970s. Constructing terraces on the slopes, he sussed out incredible sites from the rocky hillsides in the middle of all the forests for many top producers but kept a little land set aside for himself and his family. He began planting those sites in 1970 and when he retired in 1998, Cecile took over the farming and wine making. When I started with the company over a decade ago, I remember trying her wines and always loving the purity of fruit and classic rusticity. Each year, though, as the vines grow older and Cecile becomes more accomplished, the wines express more of the terroir. For the uninitiated, the 2016 is a perfect place to jump in and try her stuff. It is an incredible vintage no less, but her wine has a purity of fruit, loaded with concentrated raspberry and lush strawberry flavors and a nose stuffed with the crushed herbs and flowers of the surrounding garrigue (that's the local forest around the vineyards). Those flavors always transcend vintage but 2016 just adds more. Appealing and supple the wine has an immediacy that is instantly engaging that continues to evolve with air. It wants food right now and would take on a little cellar time but what a treat. Once you taste the wines, you'll be happy that Clyde struck up that conversation so many years ago and why we continue to be fans of her wines.

2017 Orin Swift "Eight Years in the Desert" California Red Blend
Review Date: 10-02-2018
The first time I tasted Dave Phinney's Prisoner was almost 20 years ago. I can still the remember the density and richness in the mouth and the mind blowing length. My friends and colleagues often referenced Campbell's Chunky Beef Stew - "Wine so thick you could eat it with a fork." It was all the elements of hedonism and the rich brambly fruit that was so appealing to my young self. Many years later and having long since sold off the brand, Dave was forced (by contractual obligation) to withhold making a wine in that Prisoner blended style with those types of grapes for eight years. During that time Phinney worked on other wine projects near and dear to his heart, from other California blends to his D66 project in the south of France. Recently, Dave came by the LA store to unveil a new wine, making reference to his non-compete, I was eager to revisit my youthful days and see how a Prisoner-styled wine from a much more mature winemaker would fare. Far more adept and artful in his style, Dave has sussed out a wine that transcends those early days of hammering out powerful reds and appeals to my more restrained sensibilities. Certainly there is no lack of fruit and flavor, but 8 years may have been the right amount of time to come back and revisit his original project through a set of new lenses. What's in the bottle has that same force that I remember from nigh-20 years ago but the finesse of a more artful hand shows through.
Price: $44.95 Add To Cart

2016 Château de Saint Cosme "Le Claux" Gigondas
Review Date: 10-02-2018
Of the three single vineyards tasted, this moved into the lead by a small but distinctive margin. Original planting in 1870, these were the first grafted vines in the area. Wildly intense black fruit and a finish that seemingly lasts for days. A true stunner of a wine!

2016 Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas
Review Date: 10-02-2018
What a rare privilege it was to meet and taste with master winemaker Louis Barruol at his iconic property Chateau de Saint Cosme earlier this year. The Chateau itself stands out in the hills of Gigondas just outside the village in the shadow of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The gorgeous jagged rocks of the nearby mountain loom in the background and forests reach up to the vineyards. The soils are primarily limestone and clay with lots of fractured rocks littering the vineyards. It is a striking property at the least and when you taste the wines, you know the terroir and the history of the winery are fully expressed in a cosmic way. Louis took me through the original cellars which are carved out of the surrounding limestone just under the Chateau. The old steps are rounded with centuries of use, the original vats are still there but with oak casks and large tanks stacked or resting in them. A modern facility where most of the initial winemaking is done abuts the chateau in the shape of an ancient barn. It is a mix of modern and ancient in the most special way. We tasted through all the 2016 single vineyards and each was a striking example of place. A tremendous standout though was the appellation Gigondas. The vintage is special, as many have probably already read about or discovered in their own tastings. The wine was full, rich and powerful. Recently arrived, it has had some time to gets its sea legs though. Now in bottle and rested, it is showing even more. The purity of the cherry and strawberry fruit is fully expressed and the smell of the surrounding forest still lingers in the wine. Aromas of violets, sandalwood and licorice root are abundant and the fruit finishes long on the palate. This may be one of the best Gigondas that Louis has yet produced and that is saying something as Barruol's wines always impress.

2015 Antech "Cuvée Héritage 1860" Cremant de Limoux
Review Date: 09-25-2018
One of our oldest relationships in the Languedoc is with producer Francoise Antech-Gazeau. Based in the village of Limoux, Francoise took the helm of the estate from her father and uncle and now fashions some of our most popular and delightful sparkling French wines. Limoux offers terrific value, located in the cooler hills outside the village with more clay and limestone in the soils. Historically, Limoux even predates Champagne as a sparkling wine producing region. A visit a few years ago to the property, Francoise introduced me to the Heritage 1860, a new tete de cuvee that is fashioned with more Chardonnay in the blend and sees a touch longer aging on the lees to develop more autolytic (doughy, yeasty) qualities. Now the third vintage we have carried, the 2015 is the best to date! It offers up a creamy palate of golden delicious apples, Anjou pear notes and a touch of white flowers. A light biscuity tones rounds out the flavor profile. If you're looking for a great sparkling wine that delivers above and beyond its price, look no further than our queen of bubbles from Limoux, Francoise!.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart
DC 90

2016 Domaine Giraud "Tradition" Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 09-25-2018
During my last visit to Chateauneuf-du-Pape earlier this year, my last stop in the area was with Domaine Giraud and it is always a treat. Their humble facility is just on the edge of the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Last year I met with winemaker Marie Giraud who delighted our team with the 2015s freshly bottled and some advance tasting of the 2016s. This year I met her brother Francois for the first time who handles the viticultural work. We ran through the just bottled 2016s and did a little tank tasting of the 2017s. Giraud’s wines are full rich and extracted styles but they come with a finesse and balance that keeps them from reaching over-the-top. The 2016s are some of the most impressive wines I have tasted from this estate but at its core the wine to get is the “Tradition.” The wine is loaded with a panoply of red ripe fruit followed by violet and lavender aromas. The blend is primarily Grenache about 70% with about 20% Syrah and the rest Mourvedre. It comes from the galets portions of the vineyards with deep limestone clay underneath. Delivering on all cylinders, this is impressive juice for an impressive price.

2016 Emmanuel Darnaud "Les Trois Chenes" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 09-12-2018
The wines of Emmanuel Darnaud are classic expressions of northern Rhone terroir. The perfume of black plum, chocolate, lavender and anise permeate the wine. The 2016 vintage provides a more elegant structure and backbone that makes this that much more pleasing now. So pleasing and open, I'm hard pressed to keep my hands off it right now.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
VN 92

2015 Domaine Belle "Cuvée Louis Belle" Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 09-12-2018
I've tasted quite a few Crozes-Hermitage this vintage and this the mic drop. Deeply saturated with fleshy black fruit, peppery spice and zesty garrigue aromas, the flavors are expansive. Usually you might need to go to one of the top named producers like Jaboulet, Delas or Chapoutier to get this much punch but Domaine Belle brings it and for a much sweeter price. This is long and deep and with sweet tannins. It feels a little modern now because of its youth and some time in barrel but give it some time in a decanter or a few years in bottle and this will compete with the best of them.

2014 John Duval "Plexus" GSM Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 09-12-2018
John Duval continues to "bring the pain" as it were with this bold, spicy Aussie gem. Duval still reigns as one of Australia's top winemakers and you don't have to spend up to get the quality. Full of brambly blackcurrant, dried blueberry, smoky tar and savory spices, this is fleshy and bold but still retains a finesse that leaves many other big reds scrambling to keep up. Always a favorite!

2015 Domaine de l'Amandine Côtes du Rhône-Villages Seguret
Review Date: 09-12-2018
I met vigneron Alex Suter three times over the course of two months when traveling through France earlier this year. We first met at an exposition in Paris where he was showing the wines of Domaine de l'Amandine and his Seguret was one of the big standouts at the event for me. Alex himself is an engaging and thoughtful person and we quickly struck up a kinship and had lunch and dinner a couple of times over the length of the exposition. We met shortly thereafter at the big southern French wine event, Vinisud. I tasted his wines again and was struck by the clarity and focus of this terrific little red. I was prepared to begin working with the wines but since I would be returning in a few weeks to the Rhone, I thought a vineyard and winery visit should be undertaken. At the winery I was greeted by Alex's father-in-law, Jean-Pierre Verdeau, the founder of the estate. Jean-Pierre speaks almost no English (and my French is actually quite poor) so he wanted to wait for his granddaughter Mathilde to return to the property to help translate. While we waited, he offered me some coffee and apparently he had never made drip coffee before (no joke). It was quite intense to say the least, but a perfect way to wake myself up on a cold and cloud-covered March morning. Mathilde arrived and we jumped in the car to tour the vineyards. Some of the vines are 50+ years old but almost everything on the property was either planted, built or restored by Jean-Pierre, which included the original family house. The vines were planted in deep clay and sandy soils and the ground was covered in chunks of fractured limestone (called scree). Almond (amandine) trees were planted all around the vineyards. Most of the vines sat at 450 meters which is quite high for a village Rhone this far south. The mistral wind blows fiercely through the vineyards on many days helping keep the vines free of too much moisture during the growing season, but easily cut through my jacket that day. We tasted from tank and barrel and the range of wines was terrific, but I still kept coming back to this little red. I knew we were going to move forward with our relationship but I had one more visit with Alex a little later that trip at the German wine fair, Prowein. Once again we talked almost as if old friends now and that's when it really struck me. This wines are as familiar and friendly as the family making them. They are pure, unadorned and thoughtful. They are from the soil and they express the hard work and history of the estate. This is one of those "ah-ha" moments when you realize that the concept of terroir goes beyond the soil and the weather and is as much about the people and their history in the cultivation process. So, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the Verdeau-Suter family through their wine, this delightful and engaging red that is so much a reflection of the wonderful people making it.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
RP 90

Michel Couvreur 16 Year Old "Mrs Couvreur" Single PX Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (750ml)
Review Date: 09-05-2018
It's not often that we get to try something this extraordinary and for those who even deign to read this far down the page have probably already made their commitment to this whisky. Let me be the first to tell you, you are right! The Couvreur whiskies are a reflection of a time long gone when whiskies were aged in pure unadulterated sherry cask and that may be hard to wrap our modern heads around these days. You already know that so much sherry cask is rushed to market with inferior Sherry aging in it and though it imparts some character it is seldom that we see something like this. An authentic Pedro Ximenez barrel that had been part of a long aging solera intensifying and sweetening its charge. Again, you already know the story about this crazy French guy, Mr. Couvreur, driving to Jerez to buy his casks, settling for nothing less than the real thing and loading them on his little truck and driving them back to his cellar. So much detail in the procurement alone was enough to peak your interest. The added fact that it is aged in a cave in the middle of France instead of the salt caked island of Islay makes the malt even more transparent and adds to its mystique. The whisky itself was expressive barley first on the nose but as you dive further in, the smoke builds in a subtle way As a first fill PX Sherry cask, it rounds out the flavors allowing the malt to shine through with a nose of toasted spelt, candied dates and sweet tea. The cask frames the smoke, not the other way around. It is complex and detailed on the palate and has a long savory finish. The Couvreur is top tier and worthy of any collector's shelf. One of the best peated styles I've tasted this year. Thanks for reading, now enjoy that bottle.
Price: $299.99 Add To Cart

2016 Ridge Vineyards "Geyserville" Alexander Valley Zinfandel
Review Date: 09-05-2018
Ridge was a defining producer for me in my early career and over the years they have never let me down. I remember tasting bottlings of Lytton and Geyserville that to this day are the benchmarks by which I measure Zinfandel and many northern California reds for that matter. The Geyserville hearkens back to those early days of drinking for me with its dense berry filled nose and loads of pepper and allspice. Some light floral notes dance through and expand as the wine opens. On the palate the concentration is there but with an almost seamless weight. Actually this is better than many of those old Zin blends that I used to drink as the care and detail in this wine has become more evident. I may not drink as much Zin now as I did when I first started but this wine will bring me back again and again. Truly special!

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