Antoine Arena’s Rosé

by Kermit Lynch

During 2016 I had the pleasure of going wine hunting in five satellites: Pays Basque, Catalonia, Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily. I imagine them breaking the colonial chains that bind and forming a United Independent States for strength in numbers while controlling their own destinies. Corsica has been free only a handful of years during recorded history. And we think our political situation stinks?

Imagine, what if you were Corsican with a Roman name like Arena, and every move you made was controlled by French bureaucrats? Yikes, no, you wouldn’t dig it.

Speaking of Arena … I’m not sure why, but Antoine Arena’s 2015 rosé comes to mind. Antoine is the one who first showed the world how great Corsican wine can be. I tasted with him and his two sons this summer, and their rosé caught me by surprise, because they did everything right in the making of it, according to me. I’m sure you’ll see how different it is from the technological Provençal rosés that are so hip these days. For those interested: native yeasts, malo completed, gently bottled without filtration. Wow! Nor was it hurried into bottle to meet some arbitrary, springtime Rosé “Nouveau” release date.

Taste it alongside almost any Côtes-de-Provence rosé—it’s like comparing real wine with pink lace panties.

Antoine himself is so genuine, he is a favorite of everybody in the wine biz who has had the luck to spend time with him. He and his sons work together and sell the results under three separate Arena labels: Antoine, Jean-Baptiste, and Antoine-Marie. Please don’t ask me why. I asked them and ended up more puzzled than I had been. Just know that, yes, when you uncork one of their wines—this rosé, for example—you are in for an honest wine and a real treat.

 

 2015 PATRIMONIO ROSÉ  > 

ANTOINE ARENA 

     $32.00 per bottle $345.60 per case

 

2015 Cru Beaujolais

by Anthony Lynch

Look out, folks—2015 Beaujolais crus are now in stock! After an abnormally hot and dry summer last year, timely late-season rains restored balance to the grapes just before harvest. These wines make a statement—a deep, booming bellow beyond the habitual “Buvez-moi!” we have come to expect from the land of Gamay. Chock-full of ripe, palate-coating fruits, they have serious presence on the palate, but fear not: there is no shortage of pleasure here, so whether you plan on quaffing, pondering, or cellaring these reds, you can be sure 2015 has something in store for you.

The vineyards at Domaine Chignard

2015 MORGON “V.V.” • GUY BRETON >

Max Breton’s higher-altitude vineyards give a remarkably lively, ethereal expression of Morgon. This year is no exception, but you’ll have to slurp your way through a broad layer of plush, sexy fruits and flowers to access the refreshing core of minerals that lies buried beneath. Big and juicy with a gorgeous tannin, it will show its best after some aeration or decanting.

$34.00 per bottle $367.20 per case

2015 FLEURIE “LES MORIERS”
DOMAINE CHIGNARD >

Dense and voluptuous, Chignard’s Fleurie does not disappoint in 2015. Fruit, structure, and concentration are turned up a notch this vintage, but Cédric Chignard’s traditionalist methods have once again yielded a wine that transparently expresses its terroir, right on the border of Fleurie and Moulin-à-Vent. It is pure velvet on the palate, with a spicy minerality jazzing up the elegant finish.

$26.00 per bottle $280.80 per case

2015 CÔTE-DE-BROUILLY • NICOLE CHANRION >

Tasting the new vintage with Nicole Chanrion is always a bit of a relief. Rather than going through dozens of tanks and barrels for a daylong affair, as with some growers, Nicole has just four ginormous foudres devoted to the new wine, only two of which were filled due to the vintage’s meager yields. I perfectly recall dipping my nose into my first sample of her 2015: what an intoxicating, jubilant, regal perfume! A fresh acidity and thick, chewy tannins give this Côte-de-Brouilly a mighty backbone that will certainly reward cellaring.

$22.00 per bottle $237.60 per case

Up Late with Verset’s Ghost

by Dustin Soiseth

It was about 2 a.m. the other night and I was in the kitchen heating up a bottle for my baby girl. There was a half-empty bottle of wine on the counter—the 2012 Barruol/Lynch Côte Rôtie “La Boisselée”—left over from an earlier tasting and I gave it a swirl while waiting for the water to boil. As I gave this “La Boisselée” the organoleptic once-over my thoughts drifted to the Cornas of Noël Verset, some older bottles of which I have had the good fortune to try. I admit it’s a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison, but having never tasted the legendary Côte-Rôties of Marius Gentaz, my fatigued mind couldn’t help but to stray south to Cornas. Even though they are from different vintages and distinct terroirs, these wines are connected in a way that goes beyond simply “Northern Rhône Syrah”.

New Syrah with a nod to the past
© Dustin Soiseth

I was just getting into the wine business when Verset made his last vintage in 2006, and the bottles I’ve tried were simply magical—some of the greatest wines I’ve ever had. They are delicate, ethereal, almost baroque in texture. All the aromas and flavors are there before you, as if held in suspension, and you can ponder them one by one. There’s smoke, charred meat, iron, blood, and mouth-coating but fine-grained tannins. Not quite elegant, not overly rustic, but somewhere in between. Wines that were described as “Burgundian” and actually were.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Hey jagoff, why are you waxing rhapsodic about unicorn wines that are expensive and impossible to find?” Well, the great thing for me, and for you too if you love this type of wine, is that the young Barruol/Lynch Côte Rôtie I was sniffing in the middle of the night—the one that reminded me of those old Versets—is readily available and costs a lot less than many contemporary Côte Rôties, let alone old Verset. We have a nice selection on our online store or you can give me a call at the shop.

Louis Barruol pulls a barrel sample of Côte Rôtie
© Anthony Lynch

The Barruol in Barruol/Lynch is none other than Louis Barruol, of Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas. At some point in the not too distant past, Kermit and Louis discovered their mutual love of old-school Northern Rhône Syrah from the old masters like Verset and Marius Gentaz and decided to make some. Simple reverse engineering, right? Louis sources the fruit, working exclusively with Sérine, the ancient clone of Syrah, and ferments it in cement tanks with lots of stems. The élevage is in used oak and the wines do not undergo fining or filtration. Kermit chooses the blends, and Louis offers his expertise as well. There’s smoke, meat, black olives—all that great Northern Rhône Syrah stuff. And the texture is there, too: they have the same savory nuances, the same complexity, and the same fine tannins as those magical old bottles.

The collaboration is now in its eighth vintage and includes multiple Côte Rôtie bottlings, as well as Hermitage blanc and rouge and Crozes-Hermitage. The wines get better and better every year. Working as I do for a company whose portfolio contains, or has contained, so many iconic names, I often wonder who will be next. What wines, readily accessible and reasonably priced now, will be unobtainable in twenty years’ time? I suspect these might. As I had my nose in the glass in the middle of the night, I sensed the continuation of a tradition exemplified by Verset. Bleary-eyed and tired, I felt could see back in time.

December Newsletter: Holiday Gift Shop, Ten New Arrivals, Vintage Bordeaux

The December Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

HOLIDAY GIFT SHOP >

Something good for any wine drinker in your life (including you)!

Cozy Sampler >

by Jennifer Oakes

I am an Olympic-level lounger. When I work, I work hard and fast, taking only the breaks necessary to refuel, then it’s back to the grind. But when I’m done with all that, I’m really done, and it’s COZY TIME! I put as much planning into relaxation as I do into meaningful tasks, making lists of snuggle-inducing accoutrements: the latest music, shows/movies to watch, books to read; something soft and warm to wear; the perfect snacks, store-bought or homemade (see enclosed recipes for inspiration); and, of course, wine, wine, and wine.

Life is busy and hectic enough, made rougher in winter—why not give major relaxation a try? Grab some tasty nibbles, a comfy blanket, a pile of pillows, and (naturally) a lovely bottle of wine. We have all manner of suitable sippers in this sampler to smooth out the hard edges, either all for yourself or to share with your friends and loved ones. Fire up the remote, crack open that book, or flip on the stereo, whatever you need—we’ll go for the gold together!

2015 Vaucluse Blanc • Domaine de Durban

2015 Custoza • Corte Gardoni

2015 Savoie “Les Abymes” • A. & M. Quenard

2014 Muscadet • André-Michel Brégeon

NV Bugey-Cerdon Rosé “La Cueille” • Patrick Bottex

2013 Cahors • Clos La Coutale

2014 Barbera “Rosso Pietro” • Cantine Valpane

2014 “Lou Maset” Rouge • Domaine d’Aupilhac

2014 Chinon “Les Petites Roches” • Charles Joguet

2015 Beaujolais-Villages “Cuvée Marylou” • Guy Breton

2013 Côtes-du-Rhône “Cairanne” • Le Goeuil

2013 Chianti Classico • Castagnoli

Normally $233.85

SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $164

(a 30% discount)

 

Breton Vertical Sampler >

by Anthony Lynch

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Catherine and Pierre Breton boast decades of combined experience farming and vinifying the great appellations of the Loire. If there is one wine that embodies this lifelong commitment to excellence, it is undoubtedly their Bourgueil Les Perrières bottling. From one of Bourgueil’s historic sites, a slope of siliceous clay over tuffeau limestone, this majestic Cabernet Franc is consistently the Bretons’ most complex and age-worthy cuvée. Add old vines and long élevage in used wood to the equation, and you have a profound, concentrated red of striking finesse that can evolve for decades, thanks to its chalky backbone. In fact, we have never tasted a tired bottle! Some mature vintages of Les Perrières have just arrived directly from the Breton cellars in Restigné: 2007, 2004, 2003, 1999, 1993, and 1992. This is your chance to see the wonders of aged Cabernet Franc from some of the best in the business.

VERTICAL 6-BOTTLE SAMPLER PRICE $450

Young Vignerons Sampler >

THE NEXT GENERATION

by Anthony Lynch

We talk all too often about vine age, but what about vigneron age? My father has uncovered many talented, experienced winemakers throughout his career, but today a new generation has come of age, and we are eager to prove our worth. Many sons and daughters of Kermit’s vigneron pals have now taken the reins at their respective domaines, building off the work of past generations with a fresh perspective and an ambitious drive for improvement. This sampler of two whites and four reds will introduce you to some of our most promising youngsters. Constantly pushing the envelope, they are the future of fine wine.

Featuring wines from Arnaud and David Lavantureux (Domaine Roland Lavantureux), Simon Chotard (Daniel Chotard), Giacomo and Davide Tincani (La Basia),
Matthieu Baudry (Domaine Bernard Baudry), Vincent and Philippe Guillemot (Domaine Pierre Guillemot), and Camille-Anaïs Raoust (Domaine Maestracci)

Normally $150

SPECIAL 6-bottle SAMPLER PRICE $120

(a 20% discount)

TEN NEW ARRIVALS

A lot of wine just arrived. It’s hard to decide what to put in the newsletter each month, so here are ten new arrivals from across France and Italy that we are very excited to show off, as pitched by our staff.

2014 CHABLIS “LES TRUFFIÈRES”
DOMAINE COSTAL >

Limestoney, vibrant, and zesty, with a smoky, waxy lushness. This dynamic silky gem was born to be poured with oysters. Start shucking!
Bryant Vallejo

$30.00 per bottle $324.00 per case

2015 POUILLY FUMÉ “VIEILLES VIGNES”
RÉGIS MINET >

A refreshing, crisp Sauvignon Blanc that draws you into the glass with finesse and subtle aromas of grapefruit. —Steve Waters

$24.00 per bottle $259.20 per case

2014 RIESLING GRAND CRU “SOMMERBERG ECKBERG”
ALBERT BOXLER >

My favorite Riesling in the store (perhaps ever). Zesty, minerally, intensely aromatic, boundlessly deep—my Alsatian ancestry approves!
—Jennifer Oakes

$85.00 per bottle $918.00 per case

2015 FRIULI GRAVE FRIULANO “LA DULINE”
VIGNAI DA DULINE >

Duline makes some of the most exciting wines in Italy, and this Friulano is pure genius. It is generous on the palate with a stony, crisp finish.
—Michael Butler

$45.00 per bottle $486.00 per case

“ROSS DA TRAVAJ” VERMOUTH • BÈRTO >

Our first vermouth! Let this aromatic Piemontese vermouth spice up your holiday cocktail game, or sip it on the rocks with an orange peel garnish. —Clark Z. Terry

$18.00 per liter bottle $194.40 per case

2014 VACQUEYRAS ROUGE “CUVÉE DOUCINELLO”
SANG DES CAILLOUX >

Grenache dominates this spice-and-wild-herb-driven rouge. Think “Châteauneuf’s more rustic, outdoorsy little brother.” —Todd Maltbie

$34.00 per bottle $367.20 per case

2015 ROSSESE “VIGNETO ISASCO”
PUNTA CRENA >

Hailing from the Ligurian coast of Italy, Rossese is a delightfully light-bodied red that packs a ton of flavor with every sip. —Steve Waters

$27.00 per bottle $291.60 per case

2014 VIN DE FRANCE ROUGE “FAUSTINE”
DOMAINE COMTE ABBATUCCI >

This medium-bodied wine with maquis-laden wild fruit and soft tannin was my introduction to the exotic world of Corsican wine years ago. I’ve been mesmerized by Abbatucci’s Faustine rouge, and I hope you will be, too. —Will Meinberg

$37.00 per bottle $399.60 per case

2014 BLAGNY ROUGE 1ER CRU “LA GENELOTTE”
COMTESSE DE CHÉRISEY >

Cool, high-altitude terroir above Meursault, rarely planted to Pinot Noir • Vines planted 1934 • Bright, delicate, earthy • Drink/hold —Anthony Lynch

$65.00 per bottle $702.00 per case

2014 ROSSO DI MONTALCINO • COLLEONI >

If a wine could taste like how Vivaldi’s “L”Autunno” from Le Quattro Stagioni sounds, it would be Marino Colleoni’s rosso. —Dustin Soiseth

$46.00 per bottle $496.80 per case

VINTAGE BORDEAUX

by Anthony Lynch

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2008 LUSSAC ST.-ÉMILION
CHÂTEAU DE BELLEVUE >

No, we did not forget a digit when typing up the price of this wine, an eight-year-old Bordeaux straight from the cellar of an organic vigneron in the heart of the Right Bank. The magic of so-called “satellite appellations,” as we refer to Lussac in relation to neighboring Saint-Émilion, is that there is more variation in terroir within each AOC than between the two. A great Lussac can therefore outperform an average Saint-Émilion, but its price will never come close.

Bellevue sits on a plateau of pure chalk, which gives the wine a flavor as site-specific as can be. It manifests itself in its appetizing acidity, stony tannins, and lively fresh fruit that make this Lussac delicious now and for many years to come.

$26.00 per bottle $280.80 per case

1999 CANON FRONSAC
CHÂTEAU MOULIN PEY-LABRIE >

Natural wine in Bordeaux? It’s a rare thing. Bénédicte and Grégoire Hubau of Moulin Pey-Labrie are among the very few to have adopted this progressive philosophy in a region better known for its enological precision than for organic farming. The wine, however, does not taste radically “natural”—not funky, dirty, spritzy, or any of the other usual suspects. No, it tastes like perfectly mature, old-school Bordeaux—rife with forest floor, black fruit, game, and leathery tannins that beg for a chewy meat to cling to.

$60.00 per bottle $648.00 per case

2006 POMEROL • GOMBAUDE-GUILLOT >

The young Olivier Techer of Gombaude-Guillot is turning heads with each new release, and this 2006, made by his mother, will give you a good idea of what you can expect should you cellar some of his fine Pomerol. The nose offers everything you’d hope for in a mature Merlot from these esteemed soils—a potent whiff of dank, freshly turned earth, cocoa, plum, and black truffle. It makes a grandiose impression on the palate, rich and broad with sensuous depth and a long, luscious finish. I plan to serve it at my holiday table, and why not stock up for some rainy days to come?

$72.00 per bottle $777.60 per case

 

Farmers’ Markets

Room to Improve?

by Kermit Lynch

 

I brag to French friends about Berkeley’s farmers’ market: how great the quality is, what a large selection of organic produce it features, and that vendors here really are farmers—dear Annabelle Lenderink, for example. The growth of farmers’ markets in this country is amazing. For that luxury I give credit to the one and only Alice Waters, who also helped American wine drinkers learn to appreciate rosé, by the way.

Near Bandol, where I live when I’m in France, my village’s market has only one farmer, and he’s not organic. The other stands sell the same crap that you can buy in the supermarket, so the “farmers’ market” is almost a pretense.

 

 

However, as I learned last week in Sicily, we Berkeleyans can still improve. Sicilian cuisine is based on the fact that the island is surrounded—aren’t they all—by water. Tuna, swordfish, anchovies, sardines, and octopuses are ever present in restaurants and markets, along with an incredible variety of other sea critters—often for sale still kickin’! The difference between the taste of a cooked live shrimp versus a dead one, for example, is huge. Our Berkeley market boasts a single fish stand, with a very limited, pre-packaged selection.

 

 

At the market in Isola di Ortigia, I found a stand that serves only two things—the guy opens a raw oyster and also pours you a paper cup of sparkling white blah from liter bottles. Maybe I’m easy, but around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., a cold raw oyster and a gulp of fizzy blah hits the spot. Across from him was a guy deep-frying fresh anchovies, salting and selling them by the paper-cone-ful. So cheap, so delicious—that’s my favorite way to eat anchovies. I’d like to import him, anchovies, paper cones, and all. Yes, anchovy cones in Berkeley, available daily! I could provide some tasty plonk with which to wash them down—if California law allows such deviant behavior. Oh, yes, and then I saw a stand that sells nothing but red peppers. Wow, a big pile on a wooden table is beautiful. And, if you are pressed for time, the stand has a funky portable barbecue so you can buy your red peppers already cooked and blackened. Simply peel and serve. Or, next to the red pepper stand, a snail stand—nothing but raw, lively snails for sale. Next to that, an old fellow selling nothing but sea urchins! Alive, too. And there were stands with pots full of boiling octopuses. Sicilians buy them simply boiled and then snack on them as they wander through the market.

 

 

See what I mean? We Americans are not doing our part in the search for happy shopping experiences. I know we can do better. Look how we’ve grown competitive in such a short time with our wines, olive oils, and cheeses. There are jobs here waiting for the unemployed—an ocean right offshore to fish, hungers to becalm, tasty pleasures to provide to your fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, if you go to Sicily, don’t spend all your time in the ruins or on the beach. You’ve got some serious snacking ahead of you, too.

Sampler de la Femme

by Jennifer Oakes

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Women have scored some exciting achievements lately in the political, sporting, and human rights realms, and why not? We make up 50 percent of the population, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a woman’s ingenuity, talent, and fortitude would produce social ripples or even full-throttle world change—although she may still have to get it done “backwards and in high heels,” as they say. With women winemakers, however, it’s more like up the slope and in rubber boots. Why is it that women winemakers still aren’t that common? Winemaking is hard work, but we know most women don’t lie around on chaise longues eating bonbons, so that’s not the issue. Still, whether through family inheritance, career change, or sheer determination to excel in a career normally practiced by men, our women winemakers are hitting their stride and making wines of which anyone would be proud.

When I started in the wine business, it didn’t occur to me that a wine made by a woman would be unusual. I just tasted and drank, learning the stories of the winemakers and how the wine was made. But I pay more attention now, and here’s your chance to do the same. We offer this assortment of delicious wines, all made by women, to accompany us as we tango backwards into the twenty-first century.

SAMPLER DE LA FEMME >

An assortment of amazing wines, all made by amazing women

November Newsletter: Annual Champagne Sale, Grand Cru Alsace, Brunello

The November Newsletter is now available.

Click here to download the pdf.

Highlights from this month’s newsletter…

CHAMPAGNE

A NEW ERA

by Anthony Lynch

cellar

Times are changing in the Champagne world. From its chalky fields to the cool, dim cellars below, producers are rethinking their approach to the storied bubbly, aided by advances in viticulture and winemaking, plus a climate that seems more conducive to ripening each year. Meanwhile, the world’s increasingly sophisticated consumers are drinking Champagne with a newfound zeal, sparking valuable debate about farming practices, dosage, and blending in relation to the all-important idea of terroir.

The rise in popularity of so-called “grower Champagnes”—Champagnes farmed, harvested, vinified, bottled, aged, and disgorged by the same people—has changed the way we look at the category as a whole. Should Champagne be a consistent product from year to year determined by each producer’s house style, or should it instead be a candid translation of the nuances of each vintage and vineyard site?

Artisans like Paul Bara and J. Lassalle—among the first, and certainly the longest-standing, of such “grower Champagnes” present in the United States—succeed in embodying both sides of this trenchant debate. In other words, their house styles are deeply rooted in terroir. Consider Bouzy’s sunny south-facing slopes, where Pinot Noir thrives, yielding Bara’s accordingly bold, ample, exuberant wines. Alternatively, a vigneron’s touch—or a vigneronne’s, in the case of the three generations of Lassalle women to manage the estate—can also help define a house style: one can point to their use of malolactic fermentations and careful blending of different climats and cépages as the key to their lush, creamy, sublimely refined Champagnes.

Our last, but not least, Champagne house, Veuve Fourny & Fils, offers a window into the changing nature of the Champagne world. Proud ambassadors of racy Côte des Blancs Chardonnay, the brothers in charge represent the cutting edge of experimentation, always seeking a purer and more transparent expression of terroir. They have questioned, and even eliminated, dosage in certain cuvées; they dabble with barrel aging; they even take the concept of site specificity to the extreme with their tête de cuvée, an old-vine Blanc de Blancs from the family’s treasured little clos.

The one thing we can say with certainty about today’s Champagnes is that they are better than ever before. It is only fitting that consumers have acquired a new appreciation for the wine, realizing its value goes far beyond the occasional celebration or holiday. Indeed, we should be drinking Champagne year-round, appreciating its virtues at table, and we should be cellaring more Champagne for the future. On that note, enjoy our yearly Champagne sale with discounted prices on the following offerings from Paul Bara, J. Lassalle, and Veuve Fourny.

Paul Bara • bouzy

bottle

case

15%

25%

regularly

discount

discount

NV Brut Réserve Grand Cru 100%

$57.00

$48.45

$513.00

NV Brut Rosé Grand Cru 100%

63.00

53.55

567.00

2007 Brut Grand Millésime
Grand Cru 100%

70.00

59.50

630.00

2005 Brut Grand Cru
100% “Special Club”

105.00

89.25

945.00

2005 Brut Grand Cru 100% “Comtesse
Marie de France”

148.00

125.80

1,332.00

2004 Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru
100% “Annonciade”

200.00

170.00

1,800.00

J. Lassalle • Chignylesroses

bottle

case

15%

25%

regularly

discount

discount

NV Brut Rosé 1er Cru

$66.00

$56.10

$594.00

2009 Brut 1er Cru “Cuvée Angéline”

89.00

75.65

801.00

2006 Brut Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru

82.00

69.70

738.00

2005 Brut 1er Cru “Cuvée Spéciale”

89.00

75.65

801.00

Veuve Fourny • vertus

bottle

case

15%

25%

regularly

discount

discount

NV Brut Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru

$50.00

$42.50

$450.00

NV Brut 1er Cru “Grande Réserve”

47.00

39.95

423.00

NV Brut Rosé 1er Cru

57.00

48.45

513.00

NV Extra Dry 1er Cru

48.00

40.80

432.00

2011 Extra-Brut Rosé 1er Cru
“Vinothèque”

89.00

75.65

801.00

2009 Extra-Brut 1er Cru
“Monts de Vertus”

79.00

67.15

711.00

2006 Extra-Brut 1er Cru
“Clos Notre Dame”

176.00

149.60

1,584.00

Limited selection of tenths and magnums available.
Please call the store at (510)524-1524.

GRAND CRU ALSACE

by Dixon Brooke

2014 RIESLING GRAND CRU “MUENCHBERG”
DOMAINE OSTERTAG >

Muenchberg is a glorious hidden mountain in northern Alsace, off the beaten track, with a gentle slope and mystical air about it (they don’t call it Monk’s Mountain for nothing). Nobody has worked more tirelessly to make the terroir famous than André Ostertag. He consistently provides fireworks in the bottle and an aging potential that rivals any dry Riesling in Alsace. It is a sure buy every year. Certainly you shouldn’t miss the 2014, one of the greatest Alsatian Riesling vintages in memory. If you want to smell and taste terroir, start here.

$60.00 per bottle $648.00 per case

boxler-detail2012 PINOT GRIS GRAND CRU “SOMMERBERG WIPTAL”
ALBERT BOXLER >

Wiptal is the highest-altitude portion of the Sommerberg vineyard in Niedermorschwihr, a perfect amphitheater that clings to the very top of the vineyard’s steep granite slope. When Jean Boxler looks out his kitchen window in the morning, he sees the sun glinting off its trellises. The brilliance of this site is its ability to produce sumptuously rich and perfumed Pinot Gris that maintains a vibrant acidity and stony backbone. It is as grand as Pinot Gris gets.

$79.00 per bottle $853.20 per case

2014 RIESLING GRAND CRU “KAEFFERKOPF” MEYERFONNÉ >

I tell our sales staff to remember Kaefferkopf with the word “kaleidoscope.” Kaleidoscopic aroma, kaleidoscopic flavor. The soil is also a kaleidoscope of geology. It is no wonder that the wines from this site were listed simply as “Kaefferkopf” on the great French wine lists of the past century, without the necessity of naming the region or the grape variety. Félix Meyer’s 2014 Riesling from this storied terroir does not disappoint. Power, intensity, and complexity combine to bring us a Riesling for the ages.

$52.00 per bottle $561.60 per case

BRUNELLO

by Dixon Brooke

2011 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO • SESTI >

Sesti’s new Brunello is seductive, tuned up, honed to perfection, and screaming out of the Brunellian gates. It can be enjoyed immediately or savored for many years (store it in a good cellar). There is nothing quite like a great bottle of Brunello when it is ripe for the picking.

Start with its deep, luscious nose. The wine is savory, thick, juicy, wonderfully saucy, almost truffly, with a sensation of freshly turned earth. In my notes taken while tasting it for the first time in April at the Castello di Argiano, Sesti’s hilltop estate, I compared it to a vinous ragù that has been cooked down for a long time with tomatoes and herbs. “Drink with pasta as if sauce,” I wrote. (You should probably still include the pasta sauce.) It also possesses a lovely tannin that is fine and thirst-enhancing with zero aggression.

There are so many Brunelli out there to choose from these days. We think this is one of the very best, and it never disappoints. Proprietor Giuseppe Sesti, an astronomer from Venice who has been deeply involved in his own blend of organic/biodynamic/cosmic viticulture ever since he purchased his estate in the seventies, explained the secret of his land to me recently: “The ancients talked of the aria buona di Argiano [good air of Argiano]. The castello is perched on a promontory surrounded by two valleys that channel cooling winds from the Mediterranean up to the vineyards, keeping the vines cool throughout the summer despite the sometimes scorching heat.” This is one of the most important keys to the perennial freshness of Sesti’s Brunello: with wine—as in real estate—location, location, location!

$85.00 per bottle $918.00 per case

Liguria

By Anthony Lynch

We love Liguria. The region’s joyous charm is evidenced by its lively wines, delicious creations that speak to an ancient history of grape-growing on steep slopes overlooking irresistible Mediterranean waters. This tradition lives on through the Ruffino family of Punta Crena: Tommaso makes the wine, his brother Paolo sells it, their combined dozen children help out wherever needed, and mamma oversees the whole thing with a gracious smile from her vegetable stand in the courtyard of the family home. The wines below paint a mouthwatering picture of Liguria and the Mediterranean through the eyes of a family that has lived off its land for hundreds of years.

2015 PETTIROSSO ALLEGRO
PUNTA CRENA>

The Pettirosso is a gently sparkling dry rosé made from the indigenous Rossese and Cruvin varieties. Light and bright on the palate with a delicate mouthfeel and crisp acidity, it recalls little red berries and blossoming flowers. Simply put, it is extremely fun to drink.

$19.95 per bottle $215.46 per case

2015 MATAÒSSU “VIGNETO REINÉ”
PUNTA CRENA>

According to Paolo,

The Reinè vineyard was planted with Mataòssu in 1930 by my grandfather Francescu, helped by his eldest sons Angelo and Guglielmo (my uncles). These were difficult times, between two world wars, but my grandfather was very courageous. He built terraces and prepared the earth by hand, without tractors, and established a masterpiece that we still admire and proudly cultivate to this day.

The eighty-six-year-old Mataòssu vines in Reinè represent some of the very last remaining plantings of this fascinating indigenous white grape. The 2015 evokes grapefruit, smoke, herbs, and sea mist, with fresh acidity slicing through its oily texture before a vibrant, saline finish.

$27.00 per bottle $291.60 per case

Domaine Comte Abbatucci

by Chris Santini

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When Jean-Charles Abbatucci returned home to the family farm in Corsica after a long leave of absence, he found something curious. Here he was, in the heart of Corsica, an island with a distinct language and culture, where just about everything is uniquely Corsican, as opposed to French. He stood overlooking his vineyards, where native wild herbs such as Immortelle de Corse, Népita, and Myrthe thrived, a sight unseen in any other part of the world. Yet in the middle of so much uniqueness lay what Jean-Charles called “the Foreign Legion”: row upon row of French vines, mainly Grenache, Cinsault, and Carignan. While there’s nothing wrong with those varieties, the curiosity was that next to the sprawling rows of French vines were just a couple of short, neglected rows of native, unique Corsican varieties—Carcajolu-Neru, Paga Debbiti, Morescola, and Montaneccia, to name a few.

dsc_0172Jean-Charles’s father had planted the French vines years ago, doing what was necessary to make a living, given that the French varietals were all there was a market for. For Jean-Charles, though, the mission was clear. His father had had the foresight and tenacity to maintain a few plants of all the indigenous varieties that had fallen out of vogue, so Jean-Charles set about sending the Foreign Legion home and replanting the native vines in their proper habitat.

The result was nearly instantaneous. The native fauna and flora immediately reconnected with the vines, each of which found its part to play in the complex ecosystem it was best suited for. Spraying harmful, foreign chemicals seemed counterproductive, so Jean-Charles converted to organic, then biodynamic, farming, applying the principle that if he couldn’t eat it, it wasn’t getting sprayed on his vines. He now uses local weeds and plants to make infusions for homeopathic vineyard treatments.

The Diplomate blanc, Général blanc, and Ministre rouge are from the original Corsican varietal holdouts that spawned the revolution. The Diplomate is rich, exotic, and appealing; the Général is taut and firm, herbal and aromatic; and the Ministre is powerful, smoky, and mineral at the same time. All are monuments to the grandeur of the forgotten Corsican varietals.

per bottle

per case

2014 Cuvée Collection Blanc
“Diplomate d’Empire” >

$96.00

$1,036.80

2014 Cuvée Collection Blanc
“Général de la Révolution” >

96.00

1,036.80

2014 Cuvée Collection Rouge
“Ministre Impérial” >

96.00

1,036.80

 

A Guide to the Jura Through the Wines of François Rousset-Martin


By Anthony Lynch

     The Jura wine world is a fascinating, mysterious, and at times confusing one. The region’s recent surge in popularity on American wine lists lies in stark contrast with how strange its wines come across to the uninitiated, with many of its indigenous production methods and quirky winemakers requiring more than an introduction for one to fully savor their virtues. We firmly believe, however, that the pleasure at stake is well worth a slight detour to study the wild world of Jura, so we’ve put together a quick crash course to the region’s wines with a focus on a single producer to guide the way.

     François Rousset-Martin, the newest Jura vigneron to join our team, crafts a number of cuvées covering a range of styles, from the more conventional to texturally baffling wines laced with exoticism. With a creative artistry, François honors the Jura’s traditions while exploring the full spectrum of possibilities provided by terroir, grape, and élevage. He organically farms primarily Chardonnay and Savagnin on grey marl from the family vineyards beneath the stunning cliff-top town of Château-Chalon, then brings the wines to any of his many scattered small cellars dug out of the limestone bedrock. Each cellar, he reveals, is in a sense its own terroir: with variability in temperature, humidity, and native microorganisms, it can cause an entirely unique evolution in identical wines.

     This evolution in barrel will be the main determinant of the resulting style of wine. Jura tradition calls for aging whites sous voile, or under a fine “veil” of yeast that grows over wine in barrel that has not been topped-off (non ouillé) to compensate for evaporation. The voile effectively slows the process of oxidation, while chemical reactions between these microorganisms and the wine below give rise to a highly distinctive and complex set of aromas. Often hinting at walnuts, beeswax, oriental spices, cheese rind, and brine, wines aged sous voile can come as a shock to the unhabituated palate. Their textural and aromatic singularity naturally sets them in a category of their own at table, perhaps the best setting in which to gain an appreciation for such wines. High in umami, they truly shine alongside the Jura’s rich local cuisine. Wild mushrooms, creamy chicken dishes, or smoked charcuterie can be a revelatory pairing; a slab of aged Comté may be the epiphany.

comte

     Many Jura producers also produce more conventional whites in an ouillé, or topped-off style, as is practiced in Burgundy—or for that matter, in essentially all the white wines we are accustomed to. This method preserves fresh fruit flavors without the rather rustic, often funky oxidative notes typical of wines aged sous voile. Rather than being limited to one style, François opts to have a foot in both camps: by manipulating the duration of sous voile aging and blending ouillé wines with non ouillé wines, he creates cuvées that combine attributes of both. Strangely enough, even some of his fully ouillé wines express what seem to be oxidative traits. “The voile yeast is so prolific in my cellar that it will often begin to grow on wines that have been topped off,” he explains. This uniquely Jurassic phenomenon endows his wines with a goût de terroir that no other combination of grape, soil, climate, and native microflora could achieve.

     With this guide in mind, explore the creations of Rousset-Martin for a mouth-watering adventure through the Jura’s wacky world of wine.

 

per bottle

2014 Côtes du Jura

“Mémée Marie” > 

$37.00

2014 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay

“Terres Blanches” > 

39.00

2014 Côtes du Jura Chardonnay

“La Chaux >

39.00

2013 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Veine Bleue de Bacchus–Clos Bacchus” >

44.00

2013 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Cuvée du Professeur–Sous-Roche” >

44.00

2014 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Clos de Trus” >

48.00

2008 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Clos Bacchus Sous-Voile 7 ans” >

74.00

2005 Côtes du Jura Savagnin

“Sous-Roch Sous-Voile 10 ans” >

89.00