By: Joel ~
WoW November Highlights
Mark your calendars: Annual WoW Champagne tasting is December 7th, 4-7pm
$55/person RSVP REQUIRED; LIMITED to 25 people
We are anxiously awaiting many of our direct import champagnes arriving this month. We will feature a range of wines from several of our favorite importers and producers across a range of prices, AND have many others on the shelves. What better way to start the Holiday season than with great Fizz! Among others, we will feature many of the following:
Bereche Bruno Paillard Alain Bailly G. Chiquet H. Godmé Dom Perignon Lallier Pierre Peters Jacques Hebrart Laurent Perrier Charles Heidsieck Delamotte Roederer Krug Pascal Ponson Clicquot Wafflart-Antoniolli Pol Roger
You’ve got everyone and their cousin (uncle, brother, mother) coming over for this annual ritual and feast. What to do wine-wise? So many flavors, so many different peoples’ tastes to deal with. Our suggestions reflect all these variables. Indeed, for a preview of some of the wines WE may be serving at our tables on the 22nd, come to our Thanksgiving wines tasting on Wednesday the 21st, 5-7pm.
In the meantime, here are some quick and delicious suggestions to suit all budgets.
2017 Delas Freres Cotes du Rhone; $12.75 : This nearly two centuries old producer continues to amaze us with this singular blend of northern Rhone Syrah (60%) and southern Rhone Grenache (40%) which has so much personality, fruit and robust yet soft flavors that it is hard to imagine so small a price for the quality. Buy a case and have with the leftovers on Black Friday and on into New Year’s Day. You won’t regret it!
2017 Villa Wolf Gewûrztraminer, Pfalz Germany $12.95: Finally! a Gewûrz that tastes great, has fine spicy white pepper-rose aromas & good freshness yet doesn’t taste like hair spray or has cloying sweetness. This lovely little gem from our friend Ernie Loosen at Villa Wolf provides delicious flavors, a hint (just a hint!) of sweetness to satisfy those who don’t care for dry white wines, yet with enough brisk fruit to enjoy as an aperitif and complement the Bird (white meat especially).
2017 Erica Orr Grenache, Columbia Valley $27.50: Erica Orr has enjoyed a short yet so far brilliant career as winemaker, starting in California in the late 90’s.She took a vacation from her lab tech job at UCSF to work harvest with Cathy Corison while applying to the master’s program at Davis. Erica honed her craft working at some of the best wineries in the world: Rudd Estate, Cain Vineyard, Domaine Dujac and Yering Station. In 2005, she moved to Washington State and started an independent winemaking consulting and enology business in Woodinville, and now makes the wines for Lisa Baer and launched her own label in 2016 with old vine Chenin Blanc and now this delightful, fresh, wildly aromatic Grenache.Floral vibrant strawberry/bitter cherry nose with a hint of blood orange. Medium body, fine fresh flavors showing good acidity, lightly crunchy Grenache tannins and solidly ripe but not jammy finish. A well-balanced poised grenache with real length and focus, best served cool. Turkey or ham?
2016 Marshall Davis Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir OR $23.75:We really don’t know exactly who this, but when one of our agents brought it in to taste, we said YES! This is excellent OR Pinot Noir for a very fair price. The color is excellent, there is plenty of deep ripe black cherry, even plum flavors befitting the vintage’s superb ripeness. Solid mid palate, near velvety texture, and moderate tannins well balanced and delicious Pinot. Great with the dark meat, just plain fine no matter what! A truly excellent and affordable OR Pinot.
2017 Villa Maria Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc Brut, NZ $16.50: Whatever possessed Villa Maria founder/owner Sir George Fistionich to take his award winning Sauvignon Blanc and siphon off some to make this crazy-ass delicious refreshing and aromatic fizz, we are happy he did ! Give the devil his due, a wacky idea that works. This will make a great cocktail intro to your holiday dining, and be refreshing and flavorful enough to cut through all of the rich food you will end up enjoying.
NV J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rosé Brut FR $18.25 : Short of very good Champagne Rosé, this lovely blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and 15% Pinot Noir from a long time, well-known (to us!) producer is one of the best wines to have at the holiday table for its versatility and delicious fresh, juicy flavors. Lovely pale pink violet. Strong, raspberry/strawberry Pinot Noir bouquet. A firm stream of bubbles, and creamy ripe berry flavors are beautifully balanced. Very easy drink shows good length and freshness.
2012 Pacenti ‘Pelagrilli’ Brunello di Montalcino $54.50: Giancarlo Pacenti is one of our oldest friends in Montalcino, dating back to 1988 when we (JB) introduced him to the US Market in California. His estate, Pelagrilli , in the northeast sector of the Brunello zone is somewhat cooler, which is reflected in the elegance combined with power of this superior wine. By using some new French oak barriques for aging this is a superb modern Brunello, showing graphite, anise, smoky new oak vanilla on nose. Lovely fruit intensity without being too oaky, it has richer, more overt, focused concentrated flavors with dark cherry fruit. Mouth-coating fine density with a plush, velvety finish. A truly fine wine to serve that will stand up to everything on the table and add extra panache to the feast!
2017 Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly Cru Beaujolais $31.50 : One of the most beautiful labels, Thivin’s low yields historically produce delicious richly fruity, spicy Beaujolais from their vineyards on the circular dome-like granitic Mont de Brouilly (see photo). 2017 appears to be a terrific year here, as the Gamay grape reaches ultimate ripeness with vibrant color, black raspberry flavors and crunchy texture that will complement virtually anything on your festive table. Serve it cool (one hour in the fridge) and it is even more pleasing.
November’s Noteworthy Wines
2016 Mark Ryan Little Sister Merlot: 78.75: Plush deep, dark berry fruit, ripe opulent texture and powerful finish. Serious Merlot drinking well even now.
2015 Result of a Crush Syrah Christmas CuvÉe Walla Walla $28.75: The Essence of Walla Walla SYRAH! Rich, blackberry, gamy & anise flavors, round but firm texture and deliciously silky all at once. In time for the holidays, Ho Ho Ho!
2016 Jones of Washington Wahluke Slope Viognier $16.50: W agree with Seattle TImes Wine Critic Andy Perdue: “If there is a classic example of this RHone white, this is it!” Exotic, orange blossom citrus apricot aromas and crisp, yet full-flavors. Quite a versatile wine at the table, too.
2015 GUARDIAN Cellars The Rookie Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain $54.50: Deep, ripe plush and definitely no ‘rookie’ when it comes to richness without heaviness. Shows great Red Mountain (photo below) dark plum, cocoa, graphite and black cherry flavors for drinking now or in 5- 7 years.
2014 Buty Wines Connor Lee Merlot/Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley $48.50: What a lovely surprise! Gorgeous fruit, soft ripe raspberry and violet cedary aromas & flavors with velvety texture and real Bordeaux-like finesse, combined with Washington ripeness. Nina Buty debuts another winner!
2015 Coleen Clemens Dopp Ranch Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountains $28.50: Even The Wine Spectator gets it right sometimes (95 pts!). This does showcase excellent Pinot velvety texture and refined dark black fruit flavors without excess; Very good complexity at a fine price with enough weight to merit aging a few years, even.
2016 A.D. Beckham Amphora Syrah-Viognier Applegate Valley $39.50: A wonderful modern take on an ancient wine style, made by the master, Andrew Beckham. Fermented and aged in his own crafted clay amphorae (photo), co-fermented (17% Viognier) skins and all, this is deeply expressive, black pepper, graphite inflected fresh and wonderfully stylish Syrah. The tannins are soft and the style is forward, smoky and meaty than big and opulent.
2014 Cameron Nebbiolo Dundee hills $43.50: Whatever else Cameron’s John Paul is, he certainly is an iconolclast. A long-time fan of Barolo, in 1993 he planted cuttings from his/our friend Aldo Vacca in Barbaresco at his estate and on Ribbon Ridge. This is the best New World Nebbiolo I have tasted in the last five years, and is ‘autumnal’ in character as the best wines of the Langhe district of Piedmont. Great bouquet, typical garnet ruby color, fine structure with refined TANNINS, AND stylish Nebbiolo wild cherry, mushroom and woodsy flavors. Very RARE, limited and worth it!
2016 Goodfellow Chardonnay, Willamette Valley $25.85: Marcus Goodfellow (he really is, and that is his name!) once again has crafted a lovely, Burgundian-style chardonnay, aged 20 months in barriques but not too oaky. From mature vines at Whistling Ridge and Durant vineyards, this is a superior example of Chardonnay that is rich without being weighty, and will be a fine complement at the table with a number of dishes, given its good acidity and solid fruit. A steal!
2015 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Laurene Pinot Noir Dundee Hills $74.50: every year since 1990, this is one of the most eagerly awaited wines from Oregon, a pioneering ‘Reserve’ wine made by Veronique Drouhin of that illustrious Burgundy family, named for her eldest daughter. A selection of the best barrels, oldest vines on their estate hillside vineyard, it reflects, as she wryly states; “French Soul and Oregon Soil.” Restrained oak, lovely sandalwood, crystallized black cherry fruit and fine dark peppery finish. Very Limited.
2016 Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills $39.50: “Mind Behind” Jim Clendenen has quietly but profoundly made the case for Santa Barbara County as ‘ground zero’ for California Chardonnay in a Burgundian vein. Sanford & Benedict is one of the ‘grand crus’ of the Santa Rita Hills. This VINTAGE FROM 40-YEAR-OLD vines has garnered rave reviews from critics galore. This IS GRAND Cru chardonnay at a terrific price, which will age gracefully for another 5- 7 years at least. ABC indeed! THIS GREAT chardonnay may change your mind and give your taste buds a thrill.
2015 Domaine Eden Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains $44.75: When famed Mount Eden Vineyard owner s Jeffrey & Ellie Patterson bought the old Cinnabar Vineyard two hillsides (see photo below)) away from them near Saratoga in 2007, they instantly recognized the quality, and the difference, from their higher estate. Hence, the name Domaine Eden. This is a gorgeous, more fruit forward, slightly denser wine than Mount Eden Estate’s Pinot, given a lower elevation and is somewhat warmer. Savory smoky, dark cherry flavors and great balance. A wonderfully complex wine for a very fair price, considering miniscule yields, around 1.4 tons per acre!
2014 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Merlot $36.75: One of Napa Valley’s great legacy wineries (1889), FREEMARK ABBEY’S long-time winemaker Ted Edwards has a strong affinity for Merlot, though Cabernet is the winery’s hallmark wine. What gives this wine its singular muscle and great intensity is that it comes from two fine mountain vineyards, along with fruit from cooler sites in Yountville which contribute perfume and dark plum flavors. Merlot this good should not be missed!
2015 Ch. Mayne-Vieil Cuvée Alienor (Merlot) Fronsac $22.50: From a fine, intense vintage, this superior value top wine from this long time estate in the lovely, hilly Fronsac area near Pomerol is unusually all Merlot, with some new oak aging as well. Not all fine Bordeaux costs an arm and a leg. This full-flavored but stylish and compact wine brilliantly reveals what Merlot tastes like on its home turf- dark cherry, violet and graphite aromas, rich cherry-ish fruit but tautly framed, fresh and rich. enjoyable now, it will benefit from 5-7 years aging.
2016 Jean-Marie Royer ‘16eme’ Le Petit Roy, Vin de France $16.50: Royer is a top grower in Chateauneuf du Pape. SO, what happens when he owns some fine vineyard parcels just outside the appellation boundary that are not entitled to be labeled as such? Under French law you cannot even put a vintage date on the label for ‘Vin de France (table wine), hence the ‘16eme’ designation. No worries! this is a deeply potent Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre BLEND THAT SHOWS real grip, powerful black berry, licorice and pepper FLAVORS MORE typical of its big brother for a very moderate price. Great Value
2015 Michel Magnien Bourgogne Rouge $25.75: Magnien is an old family domaine in Morey St Denis (now run by 5th generation son Frederic) who own nearly 45 acres of prime vineyards in the Cote de Nuits a fine grower, from Grands Crus to Village level. Here, a combination of solid Village wines from up and down the Cote make up the majority of the blend, and indeed, this is a serious, MEATY, PINOT Noir that also has fine fruit intensity and richness. For about the price of an average-quality Oregon or California Pinot Noir, you can have this singularly expressive wine made by one of the top growers in Burgundy! (photo ©domaine-magnien.com)
2016 Vincent Paris ‘Granit 30’ Cornas $42.50: In a little more than a decade, Paris, the nephew of Cornas legend Robert Michel, has taken on his uncle’s mantle of responsibility to produce deeply flavorful, granite-laced Syrahs which are top exemplars of Cornas’ steep-terraced, ancient vineyards. Concentrated but not heavy, this lovely wine highlights the deep, meaty, black berry-violet –infused nature of Cornas from vineyards over 30 years old. Paris ‘knows’ Cornas, and this more ‘elegant’ version allows one to APPRECIATE THE inherent power as a young wine.
2015 La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano $26.75: La Braccesca, a large estate (see PHOTO) IN Montepulciano but within site of the ancient hillside town of Cortona, has been owned by the Antinori Family since 1990. The ‘Noble Wine’ of Montepulciano can be somewhat rustic, but in recent years, its fame and finesse has grown as producers like Antinori have worked diligently to tame the local Sangiovese’s brusque tannins. 2015 is a superb vintage here, and with a little dash of Merlot blended in, the usual cherry and fine leather character is rounded out by deeper succulent fruit, minerally texture and fine-grained tannins to seamlessly finish fresh and fruity. It will be even better in 4-6 years, but a joy now with grilled meats.
2014 Tenuta Monte Zovo Valpolicella Superiore ripasso $21.50: Made by adding the pomace (skins/juice) of dried Corvina grapes for Amarone to the main harvest valpolicella juice, then refermenting the total for two weeks followed by aging in large new oak casks for 18 months, Monte Zovo has crafted a deliciously fruity, rich modern take on an ancient idea. Making so balanced a high alcohol, richly fruity and ‘chocolatey’ wine without it tasting burnt or pruny is a difficult task. Here, it is done beautifully. A unique, delicious, warm and rich wine for the cold winter months ahead at a fine price.
2015 Gaja Sito Moresco Langhe Rosso $59.50: A longtime friend, an incredible personality, a literal legend in his own time for reviving BARBARESCO AND modernizing Italian wine production, Angelo Gaja has always loved tinkering with tradition. A man of his land, he has not hesitated to innovate in order to satisfy his own curiosity. Sito Moresco, a singular Vineyard in Treiso, traditionally was all Nebbiolo for Barbaresco. Gaja then went back to traditional Piedmontese practice of blending in local barbera to add some fruit, color and soften the often austere Nebbiolo tannins. In 2015, a superb vintage, he has gone one step further, modernizing the blend to 35% Nebbiolo | 25% Barbera | 25% Merlot | 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. with some aging in new oak, this wine will astonish and gladden your taste buds!