Newsletter

January 15, 2018 – February 14, 2018

Spain and Rhone

Where would we like to go in winter? Spain and the south of France. These wines will get us there in spirit.

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Montsant #1
Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donis2015 Montsant ‘Mas Donis’ (Celler de Capçanes)
Sale Price $10.99 – $112.10 case of twelve
The cooperative winery in the Catalan village of Capçanes has again produced a wonderful value red. This is fruity, herbal, and spicy with a stony, dry finish.

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Montsant #2
2014 Montsant ‘Dido’ (Pérez i Barbier)
Sale Price $17.99 – $183.50 case of twelve
Pérez i Barbier Montsant DidoSara Pérez and René Barbier were two of the prime movers in resurrecting the Priorat region. From there they moved on to Montsant, where their old vine, organic vineyards produce this wine. Here the wine takes on more earthy depth from the granite soils and rich, ripe fruit and body from the Garnaxta and Cariñena.

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Brézème
2015 Côtes du Rhône ‘Brézème’ (Eric Texier)
Sale Price $24.99 – $254.90 case of twelve
Eric Texier Brézème Côtes du RhôneThe Côtes du Rhône sub-appellation of Brézème is aligned more with the Northern Rhone appellation of Hermitage than with the Southern Rhone appellation of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Here Eric Texier hones his craft with Syrah grown in a rocky, southeast facing vineyard. His 2015 is amazingly deep with gamy, smoky, peppery flavor along with beautifully refined raspberry fruit. Texier’s wines are produced with as little sulfur as possible and benefit from some exposure to air, so we suggest you open it, pour a glass, and wait a good hour before digging in. It will be worth it.

Rioja
La Social Rioja2015 Rioja ‘La Social’ (Partidas de la Granja)
Sale Price $17.99 – $183.50 case of twelve
Telmo Rodriguez makes wine all over Spain, but Rioja is his home region. His latest Rioja wine is a dark, generous, and smooth red with immediate appeal. Ten months aging in old oak barrels gives the wine a round, gentle texture while preserving its fresh fruit.

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Les Baux de Provence
2015 Les Baux de Provence (Mas de Gourgonnier)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de ProvenceThis long-time favorite has produced a better than expected wine in 2015. This is beautifully balanced between the herbal and the fruity along with fine, earthy tannins. Eric Texier (see below) is a big fan of Mas de Gourgonnier for the pure, seemingly effortless pleasure this all-organic estate delivers.

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The Big Janasse
2015 Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Terre d’Argile’ (Domaine de la Janasse)
Sale Price $22.99 – $234.50 case of twelve
Domaine de la Janasse Terre d’Argile Côtes du Rhône VillagesThe Côtes du Rhône that Domaine de la Janasse now labels as ‘Reserve’ is one of the region’s greatest values. But we leapt when the 2015 Terre d’Argile single-vineyard wine was offered. This is a big, bold red with intense ripe fruit aromas, textured palate presence, and a long, delirious finish. We think that this resembles Chateauneuf-du-Pape in quality and great value.


Listed prices are honored through February 14th, 2018. We will not honor mistyped prices. Vol. 42, No. 2

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Sweet 375s
2015 Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Auslese (Schneider)
Sale Price $9.99 per 375ml – $101.90 case of twelve
2015 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling *** Auslese (Bollig-Lehnert)
Sale Price $13.99 per 375ml – $142.70 case of twelve
2015 Nackenheimer Engelsberg Riesling Beerenauslese (Binz)
Sale Price $19.99 per 375ml – $203.90 case of twelve
Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling  AusleseThese are three absolutely amazing late harvest Rieslings, all smartly packaged in half bottles with screw caps. The Niersteiner from Schneider is a decadent, ripe, and round Auslese with the flavor of perfectly ripe pears and hints of almonds. Bollig-LehndertThe Bollig-Lehnert ‘3 star’ Auslese is gorgeous, with a combination of ripe peach and apricot along with a spicy mineral finish. The Binz Beerenauslese is a labyrinth of honeycomb and green plums.

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A Rosa For All Seasons
Perlwein Rosa Trocken (Fritz M¨ller)
Sale Price $14.99 – $152.90 case of twelve
Fritz Mueller Perlwein Rosa TrockenOutwardly, this wine appears to have little going for it. It’s a fizzy non-vintage rosé made mainly from the obscure Portugieser grape variety in Germany’s Rheinhessen district. But all this transforms immediately when the spritz hits your nose. Fritz Müller’s Perlwein is absolutely charming. Peak season strawberry fruit aroma and lively, dry flavors carry from beginning to end. Great for sushi. Winter, what winter?

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Qupé
2015 Central Coast White (Qupé)
Sale Price $9.99 – $101.90 case of twelve
Qupé Central Coast WhiteThis delicious California blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Roussanne, which we once featured for several dollars more, is now a great-value sale item for $9.99. Full and generous, aromatic and spicy, this blend is ideal for Thai and Indian foods.

Marie-Antoinette
2015 Pouilly-Fuissé ‘Marie-Antoinette’ (Vincent)
Sale Price $24.99 – $254.90 case of twelve
Vincent Marie-Antoinette Pouilly-FuisséIn an excellent vintage like 2015, the vineyards of Pouilly-Fuissé capture the fruit and minerality that makes French Chardonnay so alluring. The Vincent family, owners of the Chateau de Fuissé’s ‘Marie-Antoinette’ cuvée, always produce a lovely bottle. The 2015 is rich and ripe with orchard fruits and a crisp, lively, dry finish. A terrific white for salmon served with stir-fried vegetables.

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A Beauté of a Wine 
2015 Ile de Beauté Pinot Noir (Francois Labet)
Sale Price $17.99 – $183.50 case of twelve
LabetSometimes the 'best values in Burgundy' are no longer found in Burgundy but off-site from land cultivated by Burgundy producers. These producers bring their tradition and expertise to lesser known regions, where the resulting wine is actually affordable. A perfect example is Francois Labet's organic Pinot Noir from Corsica. His family of Chateau de la Tour has been making grand cru Burgundy from their old vines in Clos de Vougeot since 1889. But a love for Corsica led Francois to buy land along its east coast and plant Pinot Noir. The limestone, silica, and clay in his vineyards are fortuitously similar in composition to the soils found in Burgundy. The island's Mediterranean climate provides a beautiful expression of fruit in the wines, while the volcanic subsoil, much like that found in Beaujolais, ensures freshness and minerality. His 2015 Pinot Noir has lovely weight and silkiness that belies its serious balance of red fruits and earth. Its gentle tannins allow its charm to increase with an ever so slight chill. Just right for a vegetarian main dish, but versatile enough for either beef bourguignon or pan-seared salmon. Dangerously drinkable on its own. 

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Darting L
2016 Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Riesling
Kabinett (Darting)
Sale Price $14.99 per Liter – $152.90 case of twelve
DartingThere is lovely symmetry to this wine. Admittedly we like the liter size, and the screwcap shaves seconds off of our busy lives, but the balance of snappy Riesling fruit, ever so slight sweetness, and the cool slate finish make the Darting Kabinett a true beauty.

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Seghesio Barbera d’Alba

La Barbera
2016 Barbera d’Alba (Seghesio)
Sale Price $13.99 – $142.70 case of twelve
Here’s a wine and a price from a prime Piedmont estate that is easy to enjoy. The 2016 Seghesio Barbera d’Alba is a layered, ripe, and spicy red with silky fruit and a firm, dry finish. Great fun with all manner of pasta and ravioli.

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Stellar Tuscan
2015 Toscana Rosso ‘Monteleccio’ (Sesti)
Sale Price $19.99 – $203.90 case of twelve
Monteleccio Sesti Toscana RossoThere are many names for Sangiovese in Tuscany, but when this grape is grown in the Montalcino township it is rarely priced this reasonably. If you appreciate wines from this part of Tuscany, grab this while you can. It’s a great vintage, from young vines in Montalcino that deliver a pure, direct Sangiovese intensity and balance.

Orvieto Classico
2016 Orvieto Classico ‘Terre Vineate’ (Palazzone)
Sale Price $11.99 – $122.30 case of twelve
Terre Vineate Palazzone Orvieto ClassicoThe Dubini family has been tending the wine at Palazzone since the early seventies. At the time most growers were aiming for quantity over quality, but the Dubinis decided to plant a variety of white grapes to see which thrived. Using a base of Procanico (aka Trebbiano) they spice up the wine with Verdello for acidity, Grechetto for body, and Malvasia for aroma. The results in 2016 are impressive. This fresh, lively, and deceptively concentrated white is perfect for vegetarian pasta dishes and dishes involving the tough to pair artichoke.


Specialty Foods

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Beemster Vlaskaas $13.99 per lb. 
(Regular Price $20.99)

Beemster Vlaskaas cheeseBeemster is a farmer-owned cooperative dairy located in northern Holland. Their cows graze on the Beemster Polder, a piece of land that was reclaimed from a coastal lagoon centuries ago, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fertile meadows provide minerals and nutrients that result in a high quality milk which is perfectly suited for making aged cheese. Vlaskaas, which roughly translates to ‘flax cheese,’ is similar to a Gouda and holds much the same appeal. The rich and complex flavors of butterscotch and almonds lead to a balanced salty and sweet finish, while the dense and creamy texture features just enough protein crystals to give the cheese an alluring crunch.

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Üsi Minnie $20.99 per lb.  (Regular Price $22.99) This diminutive Swiss cheese may be much smaller than other alpine cheeses like Gruyere and Emmentaler, but it is not lacking in flavor. A newer cheese made by master cheesemaker Christian Oberli, it was inspired by Alpine Mutschli cheeses. These small wheels would be made by the cheesemaker’s family in alpine huts using leftover curds from Gruyere or Bergkäse production, and were meant to be shared with visitors from the villages below. Made with raw cow’s milk, it is mildly sweet, nutty, and creamy, and the clean, grassy finish has almost no sharpness. Extremely versatile, it can be enjoyed on its own, as a table cheese, or melted in a fondue or gratin.

Agour Mendia $15.99 per lb.
(Regular Price $16.99)

Agour Mendia cheeseOne of our favorite Basque sheep’s milk cheeses, Abbaye de Belloc, recently became unavailable due to new foreign supplier verification regulations. While searching for alternatives from the French Pyrenees, one of our distributors came across this Ardi Gasna, or “sheep’s cheese” made by Fromagerie Agour. Compared to an Ossau-Iraty, Mendia is more balanced, with enough sharpness to counter the mellow grassy notes and the richness of the sheep’s milk. It is also pleasantly meaty, but without the barnyard or lanolin flavors and aromas you’ll often find in sheep’s milk cheeses.

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Blue Ledge Farm Lake’s Edge
$23.99 per lb. (Regular Price $25.99)

Lue LedteThis excellent goat cheese from Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, Vermont is only made seasonally with milk from their own mixed herd of goats. Striking in appearance, it is a soft bloomy rind cheese coated with vegetable ash and aged for at least 3 weeks. The dramatic line of ash through the center makes it similar in appearance to Humboldt Fog, but the flavor is distinct. Clean and bright with a milky sweetness and almost no sour aftertaste, Lake’s Edge is an approachable but zesty cheese that you won’t be able to get again until late next spring!


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Wines of the Month —January 15, 2018 through February 14, 2018

Castaño Yecla

2016 Yecla (Castaño)
Sale Price $7.99 – $86.29 case of twelve
Monastrell is the soul of Southern Spain. Castaño’s version is a not too heavy red with bright plummy flavor. Great for rice and beans.

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2015 Coteaux Bourguignons (Vignerons de Buxy)
Sale Price $9.99 – 107.89 case of twelve
Vignerons de Buxy Coteaux BourguignonsThe recently created appellation of Coteaux Bourguignons has made red Burgundy more affordable. The Vignerons de Buxy blend Pinot Noir and Gamay to produce a structured, dry red that is ideal for roast chicken or boeuf bourguignon.


Le Paradou Grenache

2016 Grenache (Le Paradou)
Sale Price $8.99 – $97.09 case of twelve
The south of France is Grenache’s homeland, and Le Paradou delivers an authentic experience at a great price. Have this with lamb stew.

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Ethno Chardonnay2015 Chardonnay (Ethno)
Sale Price $7.99 – $86.29 case of twelve
This terrific un-oaked Chardonnay hails from Bulgaria and delivers dry, long, crisp flavors destined for seafood and pasta.