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Staff Favorites - Keith Mabry

Keith Mabry

Reviews

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2016 Mas Karolina Côtes du Roussillon-Villages
Review Date: 02-13-2019
Mas Karolina was one of the first wineries I added to our portfolio when I took over the buying duties for the Languedoc and it continues to be a favorite. And each year, the wines evolve and grow in depth and character. Winemaker Caroline Bonville came to us by way of her cousin Olivier Bonville, one of our top Grower/Producer Champagne houses - Franck Bonville. Immediately, I loved the charm and exuberance of her wines. They were fleshy and rich but had wonderful elegance. The 2016 Cotes du Roussillon is simply the best wine I have tasted from Caroline though. It is saturated with blue fruit and floral notes. Never too heavy, it still has the elegant tannins reminiscent of her earlier wines, just more deeply satisfying notes. She has also been undergoing organic conversion with her vineyards for the last few years and should be fully certified starting with the 2017 vintage. It is that care and detail in the vineyards that allows Caroline to create quality wines that continue to charm me. I think you'll be just as charmed too.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
RP 92

2016 Château de la Negly "L'Ancely" La Clape
Review Date: 02-13-2019
When Chateau de la Negly joined our portfolio of direct producers a few years ago, it was one of the great additions to our roster of southern French wineries. The wines from top-to-bottom set new standards and benchmarks by which all others in the region are measured. L'Ancely was always a standout for me as it comes primarily from a single parcel just below the chateau right out near the sea. It is primarily composed of Mourvedre, which always likes a view of the water (who doesn't though?) and you could probably hit the beach from the vineyard with a good throw. L'Ancely is an opulent wine to be sure. It is brimming with flavors of creme de mure, sweet blueberry jam, bay leaf and graphite. The Mourvedre shows though on the palate with its slightly dustier tannins that fill the mouth. Not as heavily structured as say a Bandol from Provence (the other great Mourvedre region) but equally satisfying. A bottle recently opened continued to pour out flavors for hours but showed its peak performance at hour three when the fruit and structure came into total focus. This is execptional wine worthy of collecting (I have a few from previous vintages and they are wonderful!) but will surely satisfy with some heavy meaty braises and stews for a cool winter night.

2016 Olema Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 02-13-2019
Amici's Olema label has really dialed into the qualities that make a Venn diagram of quality wine to fair price to regional character. The 2016 Sonoma Cabernet has all the hallmark flavors ranging from black cherries and roasted plums to cocoa powder and allspice. It is supple and rich and flows across the palate with a silky finish. It is great to see this wine continuously over deliver for its modest price and the 2016 is one of their best to date.

2017 Olema Sonoma County Chardonnay
Review Date: 02-13-2019
A bright and friendly Chardonnay that is not afraid to push the oak into the background and let the fruit shine through? YES, PLEASE! This tremendous little white has beautiful pear and spice notes with a clean refreshing palate. A touch of citrus and white flower add some complexity on the nose. The concentration holds your attention and the finish has great length. This generous wine will have you coming back again and again for its lovely exuberance. A near-perfect daily drinker!
Price: $12.99 Add To Cart
JS 91

2015 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage
Review Date: 02-05-2019
Guigal is of course famous for some of the most sought after Cote-Rotie and Hermitage wines in the Northern Rhone. Often where they excel the most though are in their regular appellation cuvees. Sourced from growers they have had long term relationships with and along side some of their own estate fruit, it is often hard to believe the quality that is delivered for such a reasonable cost. We negotiated hard on this wine to get the price just right too. This is the essence of Crozes with its brambly black fruit and peppery spice. Nice tone of graphite minerality shapes the profile as well. It is pure and elegant, which is the other surprise. They could push boundless extraction, but they always choose balance over flash and it always pays off in the end.

2016 Baron de Montfaucon Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Review Date: 02-05-2019
This is the third vintage of this wine for our dear friend and Lirac master Rudi des Pins. All from a single vineyard old-vine parcel, it is a Grenache dominant field blend. Each year this wine has taken a few steps forward in the expression of the terroir as Rudi has gotten to know the vineyard and this is a benchmark wine now. The wine comes in waves with its black cherry, boysenberry, cocoa and savory spice notes but all with an underlying elegance and balance that is classic for this vintage. And also shows the deft and restrained hand of a top winemaker. We've made the wines of Montfaucon famous in our stores from the basic Cotes-du-Rhone to the Comtesse Madeleine Blanc and especially the powerful Baron Louis Lirac. This Chateauneuf is probably the one Rudi will most be remembered for, for many years to come.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart
RP 95 WS 93

2014 Domaine Lafage "Tessellae" Carignan Côtes Catalanes Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 02-04-2019
We're always touting the accomplishments of Jean Marc Lafage's wines and this old vine Carignan still ranks as one of my favorites of his releases. This 2014 is sort of a reissue. It was a monster success when we sent it out initially, almost two years ago. Well, our supplier found some of this stellar 2014 lingering in their warehouse. A little back-and-forth over pricing and we have one of the biggest KNOCK-OUT BUYS of this year, or any year for that matter. The 2014 "Tessellae" Carignan is all old vine fruit. It has rich black raspberry notes with hints of garrigue and hibiscus on the nose. Layers of spiced plum on the palate and oolong tea rounds out the finish. Not "over the top" per se but generous and open. A couple of years now in bottle has done nothing but open this wine for your immediate drinking pleasure. Though we took everything that was offered, we know it won't be enough for all those thirsty fans who will be clamoring for cases of this Best Buy.
Price: Hidden View Price
RP 92

2015 Château du Hureau "Tuffe" Saumur-Champigny
Review Date: 01-17-2019
My visit to Saumur-Champigny a couple of years ago was one of the highlights of my trip through the Loire Valley. The impressive chalky stone that makes up the cliffs and vineyards in the region is knows as tuffeau. This bottling from Chateau du Hureau reins as one of the most consistent and impressive wines from this region. Planted over a multitude of parcels over the tuffeau, it captures the essence of that black brambly black cherry and tapenade quality that makes Cabernet Franc from this region so engaging. The chalky dust seems to rise up through the roots of the vine, into the grapes and finally from your glass with a light dusting of minerality in each whiff. An easy qualifier as my go-to weeknight wine, this pairs handsomely with a range of poultry, pork and lamb dishes. Don't be afraid to lose a bottle or two in your cellar or locker though, it will surely delight for many years to come.
Price: $15.99 Add To Cart
JG 92

2016 Guy Farge "Terroir de Granit" Saint-Joseph Rouge
Review Date: 01-08-2019
The Terroir de Granit speaks volumes of its granitic soils. I tasted the 2015 vintage when some samples were sent to me in advance of a big wine fair in the south of France in early 2018. I thought to myself, this is a guy I need to meet (pun somewhat intended). The wine had black fruit, smoke, spice and that ethereal Saint-Joseph-ness, that granitic oomph that I love. Flash forward, I met Guy at said wine fair and we hit it off after tasting through a batch of his wines. A visit to his property was quickly organized and a few weeks later, I was there traipsing up and down the hills of Saint-Joseph and wandering in his cellars tasting through the barrels and tanks. His son Thomas had returned home to rejoin the winery after living abroad, so he and his wife helped with some of the finer translation points. We all went to lunch and our relationship was sealed. The 2016 Terroir had just been bottled, so it was a little tight in the mouth but the aromatics were on point and the promise of classic Saint-Joseph was there. Now, several months later, the wine has arrived and I have drunk it on three separate occasions. Each time, it pulls me back to that harmonious Saint-Joseph-ness of the 2015. A fleshy, meaty example that has an elegant palate but never quits on the fruit. The 2016 is slightly finer than the 2015 and offers greater accessibility for near term drinking. Showing all that granitic rusticity while maintaining this fresh and fleshy profile is no easy task but that is what Guy has done as he has slowly perfected his craft. For great Northern Rhone wines that speak of a place, this is the Guy you need to get to know (pun absolutely intended).
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
RP 93 JD 90

2016 Domaine des Escaravailles "La Ponce" Rasteau
Review Date: 01-08-2019
Years ago, the distinctive scarab beetle on the label of the Escaravailles was a mark of great cost-to-quality when I was shopping for my Rhone wines. It has been some time since we've seen it broadly in the market, as it bounced around through a few different importers though, but what a joy to have it return in the form of one of their best wines to date. The domaine is based in Rasteau which is quickly emerging as a region to watch. The gravelly and limestone soils mimic some of the best sub-regions Chateauneuf has to offer but at a well-reduced price. Add consulting winemaker extraordinaire Phillippe Cambie and you have a dead ringer for Clos Saint Jean or Clos des Papes, again at a fraction of the price. Rich and borderline hedonistic, this wine smacks of boysenberries and melted licorice. Savory spice notes intermingle with flavors of hoisin sauce and cardamom. It is opulent. But in the best way imaginable. This is a fully realized fleshy red from this up and coming region and one of its top producers!
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JD 95 RP 93

2016 Domaine de Verquière Rasteau
Review Date: 01-07-2019
The rocky soils of Rasteau are reminiscent of Chateauneuf. A little north Chateauneuf du Pape actually, loads of galets (the giant rolled pebbles) compose these vineyards radiating their warmth back to the vines while providing the necessary drainage and difficult soils that great wines need to struggle through to produce their divine nectar. Verquiere has been one of our big success stories these last few years, from the delightful Cotes du Rhone, to their harmonious Vacqueyras and their eponymous Sablet (their home village), each wine speaks of its terroir. The Rasteau has always been a standout for me though. It is a CDP cloaked in value. The ripe boysenberry and cherry notes leap from the glass and provide sultry fruit flavors and exotic spice tones. Winemaker Thibault Chamfort often thinks this is his best wine too, sometimes making a deluxe cuvee in prominent vintages. No need for any spin-off cuvees here though. The 2016 is a great vintage and that weight and freshness translate through with that Verquiere sense of place and all for $15! With this Rasteau you can now have Chateauneuf quality as your everyday wine!
Price: $14.99 Add To Cart
RP 91 JD 90

2016 Guy Farge "Harmonie" Cornas
Review Date: 01-07-2019
Staring down from the top of the hill of Les Reynardes is quite a site. My vertigo kicks in, just reminiscing about it. Sitting on one side lies the vineyards of master of Cornas - August Clape and the other is cultiest Rhone winemaker Thierry Allemand. Right down the middle is the hard scrabble decomposing granite slope of Guy Farge. The real estate is breathtaking, nearly warranting a rope and pulley system to harvest. At the very least some really good hiking boots. Even more overwhelming is the quality of the wine Farge is making from this site. We were originally drawn to this producer because of his top tier Saint-Joseph wines that are now beginning to fall on the radar of top wine critics, but what made us stay is the Cornas. It is deep, rich and sauvage but with wonderful underlying acidity. The 2016 vintage provides more up front fruit now but the savory spices keep coming through and the promise of smoky meaty qualities-to-come are ever present. This is sexy now with fatty braised cuts. A smoked brisket or some lambs shanks would certainly not disappoint. But this is surely worthy of a little cellar time if you are so inclined.

2016 Domaine de l'Aigle À Deux Têtes Savagnin-Naturé "Les Clous" Côtes du Jura Blanc
Review Date: 01-07-2019
Savagnin (no relation to Sauvignon Blanc) makes the famed Vin Jaune wines of the Jura but this is an ouillé (topped off) style that is bursting with lemon grass, green papaya and pear notes. A touch of spice from barrel aging rounds out the wine. It is remarkable!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2015 Domaine Baud Chardonnay l'Etoile Blanc
Review Date: 01-07-2019
A more classic version of chardonnay from the region with cidery and curry spice tones. The finish feels a little more like an aged Burgundy but with more exotic spice notes. This could not be more perfect with braised chicken finished with mushrooms (morels if you can get them) and a little cream (or creme fraiche!).
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine des Carlines Chardonnay/Savagnin "La Vouivre" Côtes du Jura Blanc
Review Date: 01-07-2019
Made in what is known as the ouillé style (topped off) – Jura is known for making more oxidative nuttier whites – this is fresh and tense with roasted pear and mineral notes. A wonderful introduction to the region. We also have four single vineyard wines which are equally exceptional.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart

2017 Domaine Condamine l'Eveque "La Dent" Picpoul de Pinet
Review Date: 01-07-2019
This is nervy white from Languedoc is the perfect oyster wine from the south of France. The vineyards are just a few miles in from the local oyster lagoons. It is also versatile with loads of other seafood but I love it as an aperitif.
Price: $10.99 Add To Cart

2011 Miguel Merino Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-06-2018
Having tasted all the new arrivals of Miguel's wines over the last couple of weeks, I was eagerly anticipating the opening of the Gran Reserva. We just got to it and it did not disappoint, though Miguel's wines have never left me wanting. The Gran Reserva is flush with fresh red fruit (not always easy to say for a Gran Reserva), with a spice laden nose and full-bodied palate. It is reminiscent of the Gran Reservas of Muga and having just drank an 04 Prado, this felt like it would follow a similar track. For me, Miguel's wines are always wonderful and I'm always happy to discover a bottle or two in my cellar.
Price: $39.99 Add To Cart

2016 Château de L'Ou "Secret de Schistes" Côtes Catalanes
Review Date: 12-04-2018
Last year was a banner year for our southern French department. Through our relationship with Antech, Reserve d'O, and Clos de l'Anhel, we were fortunate enough to be introduced to the marvelous winemaker, Severine Bourrier. All of these wineries are part of an association of women winemakers known as the Vinifilles, a group that travels together, sharing information, marketing each others wines and having in general a good time. Each producer is a specialist in her respective region, Severine's is the Roussillon. Her winemaking skills are impressive but when you visit the individual sites, which I was able to do this past year, you see that this is where the true work is done. The Secret de Schistes comes from all brown slate soils from a single parcel deep in the Agly Valley further west and more sparse. Every great vineyard tells a story and this site speaks volumes. The vines are stressed by the poor soil, it's a steep slope and its sometimes difficult to access because of weather conditions. The site's natural yield is exceedingly low but the quality of the fruit is astounding. It actually dusted a light snow while we were there, which if you have ever visited Roussillon is not a common occurrence. The 2015 ranked as one of our most successful wines last year and this new vintage is a superb follow-up. We have so many fans, people are still asking for the wine. Well the 2016 has just arrived and is equally fabulous. The fruit is explosive with a nose of currant jam, blueberries, sassafras and cola. The palate is deft and elegantly balanced (elegance is what Severine ultimately strives for). It has the structure to lay down but possesses inviting qualities that make it hard to keep your hands off. From collector, to enthusiast, to drinker, there is so much to like in this wine.
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart
JD 95

2016 Chateau de L'Ou "Infiniment" Côtes Catalanes Rouge
Review Date: 12-04-2018
Coming from the more alluvial soils from Chateau de L'Ou's estate just outside of Perpignan, the Infiniment is one of the most deeply satisfying wines you may taste this year. The 2015 was a wonder and topped the charts as one of our best sellers and I would argue the 2016 is even better. The wine offers an exquisite nose of blackcurrants and blackberries with spices of nutmeg and toasted cardamom. This most expressive nose carries over to the palate with a saturated mouthfeel and supple sweet tannins. Where this improves on the stellar 2015 is in the balance. A little more backbone of acidity wraps this package neatly. This is Syrah made with passion that trounces many others for character, profile and accessibility for half the price of anything else in the category.
Price: $24.99 Add To Cart
JD 94

2016 Domaine Petroni Corse Rouge (Corsica)
Review Date: 11-28-2018
One of the benefits of my buying position is to travel to some pretty far-flung regions. Corsica may not be that far off the map, but it is often off people's radar. Until you start talking about it... This mountainous island is culturally its own even though it is technically part of France. The motto of the island is roughly, "often invaded but never conquered." There are very few flat-ish areas and even when you are on one, the sea sprawls out in one direction and the mountains erupt in the other. There is a reason it is known as the Ile de Beaute (isle of beauty). The winemaking here has been almost as fierce as the residents of the island. Rustic and sometimes austere but ultimately satisfying, especially when served with a meal. A few years ago we discovered this little gem though. Domaine Petroni. The rose was a smashing success and continues to be one of our best cheap and cheerful selections. The white (which is made from vermentinu) has come along nicely and is now one of my favorites from the region. The reds showed promise but were still a work in progress. But last year (the 2015 release), was the turning point. Claude Gros (expert winemaker behind other southern French gems like Fenouillet, Lascaux and Chateau de la Negly) came on as the consulting winemaker and the results were spectacular. Spicy and fleshy, this was a mix of modern Rhone meets Italian all wrapped in a Corsican package. Now the 2016 has arrived and it has reached another level altogether. This Rouge is composed and pure and even more reflective of its Corsican roots. The grapes Niellucciu and Syrah play well together acting as a counter balance of black fruit and spice mixed with savory meaty notes. But Gros' style elevates the fruit levels giving this a harmonious mix that will make any consumer unafraid to pay a visit. This is a new level. A breakout star for certain and may go down as one of our best values this year and next. Certainly the island of Corsica was never conquered by invaders but this wine will surely conquer your palate but not your pocket book.
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
JD 94

2016 Domaine de la Fruitière "Gneiss de Bel Abord" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Review Date: 11-28-2018
I had the pleasure of tasting this over the course of a couple of days. Day one - it was a classic rendition with a creamy lees driven palate of Meyer lemon rind, salty mineral notes and a supple palate. Day two, the wine crackles even more with vibrant acidity. There is so much nerve that this wine could lay down for a few years even. It summons memories of aged Chablis. Whenever you drink it though it makes a perfect aperitif but is suitable for a broad range of pairings the least of which should be a plate of shellfish. Outstanding!
Price: $13.99 Add To Cart
WE 90

2016 Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine "La Chapelle" Hermitage
Review Date: 11-28-2018
I have really only had the opportunity to taste a couple of older vintages of the La Chapelle Hermitage in my career and they have always been special. Full of bacony meaty Hermitage goodness - they are wines of sense memory. Even in challenging vintages the La Chapelle often lands with impressive depth and classic character. There was a decade or so where the wine didn't quite perform to its historic best but even then its always really good. That transition time has passed and now with over 10 years under the ownership of the Frey family, oenologist Caroline Frey is sussing out some of the best quality wines the domaine has seen in several decades. Now biodynamic and with precision winemaking (the Frey family owns La Lagune in Bordeaux) the terroir is transparent and fully expressed. I visited the domaine earlier this year and it was impressive to say the least. Each cuvee from each site is treated with the utmost care. No afterthought wine here. The 2016 is not as powerful as the 2015 but that may be a better thing in general. It may take decades to realize the full potential of the '15. The '16 is impressive out of the gate though. It is all Hermitage with savory smoky meat notes (should evolve nicely into that bacon fat quality) and plush grilled plum with spices of nutmeg and allspice. It is sexy, which is where 2016 shows itself. As this wine and domaine begin moving into their next phase, we should see many more incredible releases like this but I foresee pricing rising as more and more savvy collectors come back for more of this wine.

2012 Miguel Merino Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Miguel Merino's wines have always had a touch more modern take on the classically styled Riojas. Plenty of the sweet baking spice, light dilly notes and hint of coconut abound but there is always beautiful full-bodied underlying fruit that adds a little more impressive mouthfeel and texture. The 2012 is spot-on. It has that mix of full fleshy ripe fruit and spice laden nuances that keep the glass coming up to my nose. Maybe leaning more towards the Muga side of expression with a Lopez sensibility. Most impressive indeed!
Price: $29.99 Add To Cart

2012 Miguel Merino "Vitola" Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 11-28-2018
The Vitola is a more modern styled Rioja with its exuberant fleshy red fruit and supple sweet tannins. Almost as exuberant and uplifting as the man behind the wine, Miguel Merino. This is ripe and juicy and dynamite drinking. I tasted it over the course of two days and though it mellows a bit on the second (not a bad thing at all) this is fabulous drinking and perfect for holiday gatherings where you want something out of the gate impressive.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart

2015 Te Mata "Cape Crest" Sauvignon Blanc Hawke's Bay
Review Date: 11-28-2018
Sauvignon Blanc is my milieu. I enjoy it from all over the world and particularly France. I also enjoy a Marlborough sauvignon blanc and often make them my easy starter pick from a restaurant wine list. With their bright tropical notes, they're almost like a wine Pina Colada, juicy and refreshing. But there are more serious SBs coming out of New Zealand and that region is Hawke's Bay. This is next level stuff for certain. More reminiscent of a great Bordeaux Blanc the Te Mata achieves more intensity and complexity than the juicier bombs from the south island. Te Mata has always impressed me with their Bordeaux varietal driven reds but this Sauvignon Blanc is almost other-worldly. Flavors of canteloupe, key lime and a hint of ginger bread spice and I'm all in. Texturally, it reminds me of Domaine de Chevalier's (one of Bordeaux's icon white producrs) Petit Chevalier and still comes in a whole lot cheaper. This is compelling Sauv Blanc and that's coming from the guy who buys all the Sancerre for K&L!

2015 Domaine Les Pins Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 11-28-2018
The region of Bourgueil is almost an underdog story waiting to be written. Neighboring appellations like Chinon and Saumur make exceptional wines but the unsung heroes of Bourgueil should never be counted out. And one of my favorite producers in this tricky to pronounce area (Bore-guy will get you in the right direction) is Domaine les Pins. The winery is a fifth generation estate that has always over performed its price points and in a great vintage like 2015, they went for the stars. The 2015 vintage is incredible for both red and white wines throughout the Loire but reds at all levels rise to a greater and more expressive nature. The wines are downright ripe and fleshy but maintain bountiful acidity and harmonious character. The 2015 Vieilles Vignes is the best youthful version of this wine I have tasted from this winery and it hums with opulent black cherry fruit, a bouquet garni of gorgeous savory herbs and finishes long and supple with polished sweet tannins. This is Cabernet Franc that can cross boundaries from the purist to the uninitiated, capturing the essence of the vintage. This underdog story begins for well south of $20 a bottle and you would be hard pressed to find a red wine of this character and quality from any region that writes a story this compelling.
Price: $16.99 Add To Cart
WE 91

2016 Domaine de la Réserve d'O "La Réserve d'O" Terrasses du Larzac
Review Date: 11-27-2018
This is now our fourth vintage working with the wines of Marie and Fred Chauffray and each year I find the wines more satisfying and detailed than each previous vintage. The 2016 structurally walks me back to the original 2013 release, and find it as mouthfilling in a way that summons my initial thoughts of youthful Chateauneuf - but without the warming high octane profile. This new wine has structure but so much fruit that is is utterly beguiling. The Reserve speaks volumes of its terroir, when every year I find the similar notes of plush raspberry fruit surrounded by notes of herbes de Provence. It is the vintage that changes and plays with the intensity. The 2016 was very good but very low yield and you can feel it in the concentration. It does not have quite the heaviness though as the acid keep the wine lifted and fresh on the palate. Each year as I taste a new release of Reserve d'O, it affirms my original thought that this is one of the best Direct Import wines I have found in these last few years.
Price: $19.99 Add To Cart
RP 91

2015 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes
Review Date: 11-21-2018
I tend to cook a fair amount of braised dishes this time of year as well as a standing rib roast or two, but Bordeaux seems too obvious a choice. But, I’m a huge Cabernet Franc fan. Something like the 2015 Joël Taluau Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes fits me like a loud Christmas sweater. It’s an off-the-radar region and it has spot-on varietal character. It’s also from a great vintage so the wine has ripe black cherry fruit but also notes of crushed herbs like sage and rosemary. It’s an outstanding complement to my style of cooking.
Price: $17.99 Add To Cart

2016 Domaine de Bila Haut "L'Esquerda" Côtes de Roussillon-Villages Lesquerde (1.5L)
Review Date: 11-20-2018
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!
Price: $44.99 Add To Cart
RP 94 - 96

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

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

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.

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?

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

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

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

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 "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.

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