Domaine Collin Crémant de Limoux Brut (France) Reg. $16.99, Sale $9.99 – You’re likely buying sparkling wine over the next few months for the holidays. Why not make it this one? It’s delicious! It’s too cheap not to buy! This has a light, frothy mousse, wonderful fresh bread aromas and it is crisp and clean! Made from a “Champagne” blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay and bottle-fermented in the méthode traditionelle. Many people credit the area around Limoux with being the first place sparkling wine was made. Supposedly, the monks at Saint-Hilaire made the world’s first sparkling wine in 1531. Limoux is in the eastern foothills of the Pyrenees in southern France. Despite being at a southerly latitude, this is a cooler and wetter area than most of southern France since it at a higher altitude.
Écluse Syrah Paso Robles 2005 (California) Reg. $35.99, Sale $19.99 – This is an approachable, smooth and balanced Syrah. This has aromas and flavors of dark fruit, peppery spice and chocolate. It is layered and complex. Smooth feel. From Lock Vineyards. In French, écluse means a lock on a canal. Family-owned and –operated. Sustainable agriculture. 212 cases made. 90 points, Affairs of the Vine
Écluse Ensemble 2006 (California) Reg. $39.99, Sale $21.99 – This is an inky, masculine wine – it’s deep, dark and dry. Satiny feel at the start and then the tannins join in for the finish. This is lush, supple and elegant. Aromas and flavors of black cherries and currants, spices and more fruit. Good balance of tannins and fruit. A Bordeaux-style blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot and 18% Merlot. From Lock Vineyards. In French, écluse means a lock on a canal. Family-owned and –operated. Sustainable agriculture. 392 cases made. 95 points, Affairs of the Vine; Gold Medal, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, 2010
Kenwood “Jack London Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (California) Reg. $32.99, Sale $22.99 – This is a big, bold Sonoma Cabernet! It’s ripe and elegant with intense fruit and spicy herbs. Aromas and flavors of mint, coffee, currants, black tea, olives and blackberries. The vineyard property was actually a winery and vineyard before Jack London moved to Sonoma. For many years, London himself owned this land. The wolf logo on the bottle is the label plate used on “Call of the Wild.” Decanter, 3 Stars
MacRostie Pinot Noir Carneros 2006 (California) Reg. $35.99, Sale $22.99 – This is a luscious, velvety full-bodied Pinot. The grapes come from both the Napa and the Sonoma sides of Carneros. This is a dark color. Aromas and flavors of ripe black cherries, baking spices and toasty vanilla. This has a long, lush finish. Grapes are hand-picked and completely destemmed before crushing. Aged in 30% new French oak.
Okay, Chenin Blanc lovers – we have 3 outstanding ones here!
Chateau Soucherie Clos des Perrieres Savennières 2005 (France) Reg. $29.99, Sale $17.99 – This is a classic Savennières! If you aren’t familiar with Chenin Blanc from the Savennières appellation, you should check it out. These wines age well. This has wonderful aromas of smoke, orange zest, flowers, wet stones and quince. It’s a fabulous combination of freshness, cut and richness. Great flavors of citrus, quince and schist-licking minerality.
Chateau Soucherie Clos des Perrieres Savennières 2007 (France) Reg. $29.99, Sale $17.99 – This is from the same vineyard, but it is a different vintage and it is in a completely different bottle-style. I wonder if the Savennières AOC rules have changed? This shows the typical Loire Valley Chenin notes of a snuffed out candle, wet stone and saline. Along with those notes are fresh citrus, melons and quince. The wine has a very smooth, creamy texture.
Foreau “Domaine du Clos Naudin” Vouvray Sec 2006 (France) Reg. $38.99, Sale $19.99 – This is still drinking young and fresh. It has friendly tropical fruit, honeysuckle and nice minerals. It’s dry and powerful. A wonderful chalkiness in the aromas. At times, this aroma leads us to think that the wine will be lean. Instead, it is rich and has this wonderful honey-like weight to it. Hand-harvested. What makes great Vouvray is the tuffeau soil – a soft limestone-clay soil that is laced with minerals. Food pairing – all manner of shellfish, white meat poultry. You may cellar this for years.
Château Moine Blanc Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2005 (France) Reg. $38.99, Sale $24.99 - A superb wine and a great value from one of Bordeaux’s best vintages ever! Smooth, complex and full of rich, ripe blackberries, black currants, anise and baking spices with just a touch of vanilla. Rich, lush wine that drinks well now and will age well for a number of years! Moine Blanc was the first Saint-Emilion estate to adopt biodynamic agriculture in 1982. This property dates to the 14th century. The brilliant “garagiste” winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin made this wine! 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet France. Aged in 30% new oak barrels. Organic AND Biodynamic Farming.
La Bellanotte Armonico Bianco 2009 (Friuli, Italy) Reg. $16.99, Sale $9.99 – This is a fabulous white from northeastern Italy. It’s vibrant, zesty and has crisp acidity. Aromas and flavors of apples, yellow nectarines, tropical fruit, nuts and citrus. Blend of 40% Friuliana, 30% Malvasia Istriana and 30% Chardonnay. Stainless steel fermentation. This is a small winery. It only has 8 hectares (about 20 acres) of vineyards in the Collio hills near the border with Slovenia. The winery was refurbished in the early ‘80’s.
La Bellanotte Pinot Grigio Contelucio 2008 (Italy) Reg. $28.99, Sale $14.99 – This is NOT your normal Pinot Grigio. When Pinot Grigio (grey Pinot) is left on the vine until fully ripe the skin takes on a dark pinkish hue. Maceration with the skins results in a copper colored wine, which is traditionally called 'Ramato.' Ramato (rama means copper in Italian) is the traditional style of production for Pinot Grigio in Friuli. In fact, before 1970 all Pinot Grigio produced in Friuli was made in the ramato style. After de-stemming, the juice is left on the skins in steel tanks for three days. After fermentation, the wine is matured 50% in stainless steel and 50% in 500 liter barrels, 1/3 new, 1/3, one year old and 1/3 two year old, for four months and then held in bottle.
This is a GREAT bottle of Pinot Grigio, but almost no one spends $25-30 on Pinot Grigio. This has a beautiful coppery color. It has aromas of strawberries, hay, dried roses, almonds and more. The fruit and crisp acidity are well-balanced. 600 cases made.
Podere Ciona Sangiovese Montegrossoli 2008 (Italy) Reg. $24.99, Sale $14.99 – We’ve gotten to know winemaker Lorenzo Gatteschi over the years with his work with a fabulous importing company, Small Vineyards. This is his wine. I love his wines (we also carry his Chianti Classico Riserva – the family on makes 800 cases of wine total!). This has nice red fruit, soft tannins…soft, subtle dusty tannins…classic Sangiovese from the heart of the Chianti Classico area! We first tasted this at a small tasting with Lorenzo in September. This is a wonderful wine and a great value. Sustainable farming. Food pairing - meats, roasts, mushrooms, pasta dishes.
Pietro Rinaldi Barbaresco Vigna San Cristoforo 2004 (Italy) Reg. $49.99, Sale $24.99 – Wonderful aromas of violets, roses, balsamic and minerals. Velvety tannins. This is from a specific vineyard site. 2004 is an outstanding vintage for Barbaresco. Aged 16-18 months in oak Tonneau barrels, which are 70% first use and 30% second use. Tonneaus are 4 times larger than barriques, so the oakiness of the wine is really subtle. Food pairing – robust meat dishes, meals with truffles or mushrooms.
Buil & Giné Priorat Joan Giné 2003 (Spain) Reg. $34.99, Sale $22.99 – This definitely shows the minerality for which Priorat is known. Priorat’s soil is as rocky as can be and this is evident in the wines. Aromas and flavors of dark fruits, figs, mint, mushrooms, vanilla and dried fruits. This is a powerful wine, but it isn’t overpowering. The tannins are well-integrated. Blend of 45% Grenache, 45% Carignan and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 91 points
Bodegas Ponce P.F. Bobal 2008 (Spain) Reg. $29.99, Sale $23.99 – This wine, this grape and this winemaking area are being put on the map by a young he winemaker!
He is Juan Antonio Ponce (Pon-THAY). He’s 29 now. At age 17 he became Spain’s youngest certified winemaker. At 23 he founded this winery, Bodegas Ponce. He makes wines as naturally as one can – no irrigation, hand-harvested, foot trodden. Organic, biodynamic farming. 60% less sulphur than conventional winemaking. Blessed with old vine grapes that his family has been farming for generations.
The wine is opaque, inky and dark purple. The aromas are blackberry, black plum, minerals, black pepper and flowers. The flavors are figs, black cherries and subtle touches of oak – vanilla and spice. It’s soft and supple with refined tannins. Elegant finish. Medium full wine.
100% Bobal. Bobal is known as Valenciano in much of Spain. This is an unknown, obscure grape from an equally unknown and obscure winemaking area. The grape is thick-sknned and inky dark. It needs the thick skin in this growing area to develop the phenols that make wine more than just fruity. The wine spends 11 months in French oak barrels. 3,500 cases made.
From the Manchuela area, which is between the Mediterranean seacoast of Valencia and the plateau of La Mancha.