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Staff Favorites - Andrew Kitz

Andrew Kitz
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2018 Raúl Pérez "Ultreia St-Jacques" Mencía Bierzo
Review Date: 04-19-2021
Over the past five years, Bierzo has been perhaps the most fascinating wine region in Spain for me. There is a coterie of supremely skilled winemakers working there that somehow still fly under the radar, and Raul Pérez Pereira is right at the head of the pack. His entry-level Ultreia St-Jacques comes from a selection of very old Mencía parcels, showing a character and poise that belies its modest station in the line-up. There is a steady brood to this wine, yet it retains an elevated poise throughout. The nose is well-defined with dark plum and black cherry fruit side by side with new leather, camphor/gunflint, licorice, and a sneaking iron/game quality. There's a serious nature to the palate, as though it's hiding something, while simultaneously giving up flavors of olive, crushed rock, dried violets, black cherry, smoke, and anise. The tightly focused structure and texture are compelling, but the fruit seems a bit wound up by the tension. In short, this wine has a lot more to give with age. It's also further proof that Raul Pérez is a winemaking force to be reckoned with.
Price: $18.99 Add To Cart

2016 Calera Mt. Harlan Viognier
Review Date: 03-21-2021
When a visionary winegrower like Josh Jensen decides to plant Viognier on his property, you have to take it seriously almost by default. This wine is sourced entirely from Calera's estate blocks of a mere 6 acres total, planted in 1983 and 1989. As Viognier goes, the 2016 Mt. Harlan estate bottling is downright beautiful. Stone fruit notes of peach, white plum, and pluot show immediately on the nose suggesting an unctuous style, but these quickly temper and reveal more subtle features like chamomile tea, aloe, jasmine, sweet peas, and a faint touch of butterscotch in the background. The palate is equally complex and thrilling. Viognier can easily tend toward over-ripeness, but Mike Waller and the team at Calera absolutely nailed the balance on this wine. Classic medium-full weight and roundness are buoyed by persistent, perfectly integrated acidity. This well-constructed frame supports a high-toned flavor profile of peach skin, kumquat, and yellow pear. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this wine is the streak of minerality the runs through the long, vibrant finish. Those who are fans of the saline, oyster shell quality found in Chablis will notice a touch of that here, no doubt a result of the pure limestone soils that form the foundation of all Calera's estate vineyards. It's a competitive standout at its regular price point, but at our spectacular Insider's Advantage pricing, this is one of the best white wine deals available in our domestic inventory.
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