Here we have compiled for you a collection of the e-newsletters that we distribute every 4 to 6 weeks to our client list. Please note that prices, vintages and availability of the wines in these newsletters may have changed, but please feel free to contact us if you see something that piques your interest.
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Best of the Season!
December 18, 2019
The wine collector. The business partner. The party host. The person who has everything. If you are wondering what to get them, this seasonal newsletter has some of our most exciting, small production, and critically acclaimed wines perfect for gifting, (or for squirreling away in your own cellar, of course!)
As you read through, you’ll see that I’ve noted which wines come in original wood cases, which not only are becoming a rarer commodity in the world of fine wine, but adds a special, polished touch to the presentation.
As always, we can deliver – to your home, or the home or office of the lucky gift recipient. So this season, we encourage you to give the gift of wine. You may even get a shared glass or two out of it as well.
In addition to the suggestions here, we have another 250 wines to choose from. Visit us on the web where you’ll find all of our bottles, news and reviews, producers and catalogues, or call me directly to “talk wine”.
Vaudesir is considered along with Les Clos to be the greatest of Grand Cru vineyards. While almost all Chablis can be enjoyed young, burying this in your cellar for 8-10 years will prove extremely rewarding.
“More subtle if not invisible oak envelops the gently exotic aroma of white peach, orange peel, spice and quinine scents. The delicious and refined, indeed almost delicate, flavours exude a fine bead of minerality that really comes up on the detailed, saline and lingering citrus-tinged finish where the wood telegraphed by the nose resurfaces. Lovely juice with fine potential. 2027+” 93 points, Allen Meadows, Dec 2017
“A rather restrained and flinty nose with such intense crushed stones and flinty nuances of lemon peel and lime. The palate has a supple, succulent and gently creamy peach core. Grapefruit here, too, sliding elegant and long into the mineral finish. Drink or hold.”
Peay Vineyards is one of California’s great boutique wineries, and their 500 case production of 2017 Estate Chardonnay will sell out fast!
A dream vintage produced one of the best Chardonnays they’ve ever made. The 2017 features almond, fresh sage and green banana on the nose, with a citrus blossom bouquet. On the palate it is silky and round with excellent acidity, then the long finish comes though with notes of citrus oil, salty minerals and wet stones.
“Peay was without question of the highlights of my January trip. The 2017 Chardonnay Estate is quite deep and almost phenolic in its sense of structure. This a rare Chardonnay that absolutely demands cellaring. Sage, almond, dried pear, chalk, mint, lemon confit and crushed rocks develop with time in the glass, but the 2017 is a wine that will need at least a few years in bottle to start drinking well. Readers should be in no rush.”
Domaine Serene was founded by Ken and Grace Evenstad, with the goal of showing the world the ultimate capabilities of Oregon winemaking. Numerous clones and diversity of terroir within the estate vineyards provides fruit from which they craft a consistent wine year to year of excellent quality.
In 2016, the 2013 “Evenstad Reserve” Chardonnay was named Wine Spectator’s #1 White Wine of the Year. You can see from the press below, the 2017 is also a wine not to be missed.
“The 2017 “Evenstad Reserve” Chardonnay follows an exceedingly long line of beautiful releases, as the consistency of this wine is unparalleled in Oregon. The wine is a barrel selection sourced from a host of great Dundee Hills AVA vineyards. On the nose this takes on gorgeous aromatics of toasty lemon infused brioche with peat moss and lighter cantaloupe tones that all collide in the glass. The exceptional texture entices and adds to the drinking enjoyment. Ripe pear, apricot, lemon oil and shades of Challah bread with wet stone all collect momentum on this distinguished palate. While gorgeous in its youth, this stunning wine will cellar well for a decade or more. 2019-2032.” 95 points, International Wine Report, Aug 2019
“A very fluid wine with bright, pear and peach aromas with an edge of almond praline and spiced biscuits. The palate has a balanced and measured feel with layered and smoothly constructed texture as well as a long, caressing finish. Drink now.”
At this time we have in stock three wines from Domaine Huet, which we rarely have been able to offer. If you enjoy the many incarnations of Chenin Blanc, or simply want to enrich your cellar with white wines with incomparable ageing capability, these are “must-haves”. Domaine Huet is held in the highest regard among the oenophile set as the best producer of Chenin Blanc.
In 1985 a one-fifth hectare parcel of ungrafted Chenin Blanc was planted in Le Haut Lieu. It has only been bottled in great years – 2002, ’03, ’07, ’09 (here), and 2014 and 2015 have yet to be released.
At once unctuous and bristling, exotic and fierce, this may be one of the best Chenins ever produced at the winery.
“The 2018 Vouvray “Clos du Bourg” Sec is the only dry Chenin produced at Huet that year. Tasted in May 2019, the “Clos du Bourg” opens with a delicate nose of white fruit and mirabelle plums, along with chalky and very fine sur-lie notes. The palate is intense, round and fruity but filigreed in its structure and persistent in its mineral grip and stimulating salinity. The yeasty texture gives this 13.5% alcohol Chenin a fine structure and mouthfeel.” 92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, May 2019
“The 2017 Vouvray “Clos du Bourg” Demi-Sec displays an intense golden-yellow colour and a ripe, at the moment slightly diffuse bouquet of very ripe fruits, caramel, butterscotch and low sulfur, with very fine earthy notes in the background. Lush and very elegant on the palate, this is a powerful, intense and exuberant Chenin with firm, initially slightly astringent tannins and persistently juicy fruit. The wine is not as seamless at the beginning as the finest 2017s, but it gets much more balanced and juicy-piquant after aeration. At the end of the day, this is a pretty sexy Vouvray with Burgundian finesse. Tasted on March 2019.” 95 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, March 2019
Napanook is not the “second wine” of Dominus, nor is it made from fruit deemed “not good enough” for the flagship wine. It is blended from vineyard blocks carefully selected for their lively fruit, soft tannins, and early maturing characteristics. Minimal interventionist winemaking preserves the purity and expression of this famed, dry-farmed vineyard.
If you’re a wine history buff, this vineyard is also the site of the first plantings (1838) in Napa Valley of vines not destined for predominantly sacramental wine. We can thank George Yount for that! In the 1940’s and 1950’s Napanook provided the core fruit for the great Inglenook wines crafted by John Daniels, who not coincidentally was a long-time owner of this property.
“This is fantastic on the nose with blackberries and forest flowers. Very aromatic. Full body with soft, well-integrated and medium-grained tannins. Undertones of black olives. Love the hints of sandalwood. Drink or hold.”
“Bottled in July 2017, Dominus’ more approachable, less tannic sister wine, Napanook, is a blend this year of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple coloured, the 2015 Napanook Proprietary Red Wine is redolent of crème de cassis, potpourri, plum preserves and violets with hints of dark chocolate, menthol, licorice and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is densely packed with black fruit preserves and earthy layers, supported by firm, ripe, fine-grained tannins and finishing with great length. 2017-2030.” 93+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Few California wineries are as strongly identified with a single varietal as Duckhorn is with Merlot.” -Wine Spectator
Duckhorn has been bottling a Three Palms Vineyard designate Merlot since 1978. It is a benchmark New World Merlot, gaining “legendary” status in 2017 when the 2014 vintage was named Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year. The 2015 received 100 points from Wine Review Online, and 2016 is a better vintage by far.
If you’re looking for one spectacular wine to drink this holiday season with friends that will simply knock their socks off, Three Palms 2016 will get the job done!
“Vibrant acidity supports polished flavours of plum tart, dried cherry and dark olive in this version, backed by crisp tannins.”
Affinity is a single vineyard wine, all from LaLonde estate vineyard in the Mt. George foothills. The 30 year old vines delivered 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Verdot, 7% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec. The wine spent 18 months in Chateau-style French oak; 60% new & 40% 2nd year. It was bottled unfiltered and unfined. The purity of fruit and the quaity of the tannins in 2016 makes for a delicious young wine, and one that will age well for over a decade.
“This subtly tarry blend of 80 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, offers a nicely resolved array of blackcurrant aromas and flavours with fine and fresh tannins. Drink or hold.”
“The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Affinity is a gorgeous entry-level offering. Ripe and plummy, with striking up-front fruit, the 2016 has a lot to offer, including tons of immediacy and sheer appeal. Super-ripe red cherry, raspberry jam, vanilla and sweet spice add to the wine’s racy, inviting personality. The Affinity is now mostly (85%) estate grown fruit from a site in Coombsville.”
“The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec and a splash of Merlot that spent 18 months in 80% new French oak. It has a darker, mineral-driven style in its blue fruits, smoked earth, charcoal, and graphite aromatics. These give way to a full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, fresh, lively 2015 that’s going to benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and keep for 15+.”
“Robert Craig’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain) is surprisingly open and accessible for a young Howell Mountain wine. Medium in body, with lovely underpinnings of minerality, the 2015 has quite a bit of mineral and soil-driven nuances to play off the inky red and purplish-toned fruit. Readers who enjoy Cabernets with a good deal of aromatic nuance will want to cellar the 2015 for at least a few years. Opening a bottle before then is hardly a crime, as the wine is super expressive even in the early going. 2020-2035.”
Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial is always made from grapes sourced from La Plana single-vineyard, planted in 1950 and located on a plateau at the highest point of the estate, at 485 metres above sea level. In 2009 the Tempranillo was harvested on the 30th of September and Mazuelo on October the 7th.
Following fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged for 26 months in 225-litre American and French oak barrels. It is a true Icon of Rioja, showing strength, elegance, fruit intensity and impeccable balance.
“Following on from the 2005 and 2007 releases, this is another stylish, complex, world-class red from Vicente Cebrián and María Vargas, with 19% Mazuelo providing the backbone of this ageworthy wine. The heat of the vintage has put plenty of flesh on the bones, complementing the savoury, spicy elegance. The tannins and acidity add balance and refinement. What a wine! 2025-40.”
97 points, Tim Atkins MW, Rioja Wine Report 2018
“In 2009, the final blend was Tempranillo with 19% Mazuelo (or Cariñena), one of the highest percentages of Mazuelo ever. The grapes are now sourced from the La Plana vineyard within the Ygay estate, one of the higher-altitude plots at 485 meters. The grapes fermented and aged separately, the Tempranillo in American oak barrels and the Mazuelo in French barriques for 26 months, given its power. It has that seriousness, character and somehow rusticity of the Mazuelo, austere, harmonious and still young. It has good depth and concentration, still young and lively with fine tannins and a backbone of freshness that lifts it up. It will develop for a very long time in bottle. This is a great classical Rioja for the long haul. The prices are increasing but so is the quality. The following vintages will be 2010, 2011 and possibly 2012. I cannot wait to taste them…2018 – 2035.”
96 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Feb 2018
Shafer’s “Hillside Select” is among California’s greatest wines every year. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the rugged palisades of Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. It spends 36 months in new French oak barriques and another 12 months in bottle before release. The intensity and length of “Hillside” is quite astounding. Drink now and for 20-30 years.
“Very deep inky-purple coloured, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is incredibly intense and impactful on the nose, revealing notes of crushed black cherries, blackberries and fresh black currants with underlying notions of charcoal, sautéed herbs, black soil, chargrilled meat and pencil lead, plus a waft of violets. Very full-bodied, very rich and wonderfully concentrated, the wall of fruit is well matched by a firm structure of ripe, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing with great length and depth. 2017-2039.”
98+ points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Oct 2017
“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of the more restrained, understated versions of this wine I can remember tasting. Medium in body (in relative terms) and beautifully persistent, the 2014 makes its case more with a total sense of harmony rather than with bombastic power, as is sometimes the case. Moreover, the 2014 has really come together beautifully since I last tasted it. In 2014, Hillside Select is a wine of precision, with expressive aromatics and finely-knit tannins that support the mid-palate and finish nicely. 2024 – 2034”
97+ points, Antonio Galloni March 2018
“The flagship 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (the only vintage where it wasn’t 100% was in 1984, when it included 9% Cabernet Franc) brought up all in high-class French oak. A textbook example of the balanced nature of the 2014 vintage, it offers a complex bouquet of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco leaf, and subtle minerality. Finesse-driven yet powerful on the palate, with full-bodied richness, its tannin structure is perfectly integrated into the wine, it has notable purity and freshness, and a great finish. It’s relatively approachable by this cuvée’s standard but has another 20-30 years of longevity ahead of it.”
97+ points, Jeb Dunnuck Feb 2019
“A fascinating nose of licorice, tarte tartin, blackcurrant compote, orange rind, ivy, holly, pine needles, ash, Christmas cake and even raspberry cheesecake as well as a slight minty/herbal note. The palate is so well-knit but powerful; it’s the sort of wine that takes no prisoners. Yet the vintage shines through, and it remains always fresh and balanced. Layers upon layers of fruit and a long, decadent finish. Drink in 2022. “