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Washington Wonders - Andrew Will and Avennia, Pre-Tariff Pricing on a Burgundy & Cote-Rotie, Apex Buy Nebbiolo, Icon Italian White & more

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$13.99 BTL./$167.88 CASE

The Sperino family has been making affordable and delicious Piedmont wines for four generations and this offering is what we refer to as Nebbiolo with training wheels. For those who have never had Nebbiolo, this is a terrific starting point and at this price, may be consumed on an everyday basis and for those who love Piedmont's grand grape will find impeccable value here.

Driving aromas of rose petal, licorice, underbrush and subtle spiced earth dominate the nose and carry over to the palate that is what Nebbiolo is all about; wiry, detailed, and delicious with plenty of assertion. Pair this with mushroom-laden dishes or with antipasti featuring sopressata or carpaccio. Drink it over the next 3-4 years.

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$27.99 BTL./$335.88 CASE

It is easy to blame one line in an odious movie on the faltering fortunes of Merlot, but truth be told, it was declining long before "Sideways" hit the big screen. Due in part to over-exposure, over-production and being easy to pronounce, one could justify saying that Merlot at that time was a joke. Fast-forward 15+ years; we have seen a resurgence and many of us now defend the quality that was always there.

From a Washington wine legend and made from 100% Merlot from the famed Champoux Vineyard, this wine epitomizes strength shapeliness and style has quite the complex nose with notes of red and black licorice, roasted coffee, ripe red blueberry, and a hint of peppermint. Texturally revealing superb balance of fruit, earth and spice from a beautiful touch of French oak on the rather lush, balanced and virtuous palate this Merlot is anything but wispy and slight. The finish is poised, very smooth and lingering. A wine that shows very well now and can age nicely for a decade. Enjoy this toothsome Merlot with a pan-seared ribeye, roasted duck or even a spicier dish like jambalaya.

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$25.99 BTL./$311.88 CASE

One of last week’s surprises in tastings was this killer Yakima Sauvignon Blanc from a terrific producer based in Woodinville. Normally when it comes to this varietal from the Evergreen State, it is usually about as credible as its drivers, but Avennia has taken it to excellent heights. Founded in 2010 and led by winemaker Chris Peterson who spent seven years making the wines at famed DeLille Cellars where the grape is a specialty.

100% Sauvignon Blanc fermented in neutral French barrel and concrete eggs and coming from two hallowed vineyard sites, Red Willow and Boushey, this white is quite reminiscent of a rock star white Bordeaux. Honeysuckle, creamy aspects, with well-positioned aromas of gravel, mineral and seashore with mango, peach and hints of lemon pulling it all together. Fine acidity and impeccably balanced with a texture that fans out on the palate and has stellar persistence. One of the best Washington white wines that I have tasted in quite a while, serve it with richer seafood dishes with a sauce.

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$17.99 BTL./$215.88 CASE

Gerard Lebeaupin is one of the last holdouts to vinify his wines in old wooden vats, using a large wooden grill to submerge the grapes allowing for better extraction, color, aromatic complexity and structure. Named after one of the region’s prime sites, Clos de la Brosse, Lebeaupin has a mere 4 acres of ancient vines (90+ years old) and makes between 300-600 cases per year.

I recently opened a bottle of this wine with chicken tikka masala and was very excited not only with the pairing but also with the nice evolution and direction this Cru Beaujolais has taken. Moving more from sheer fruit, there is now an abundance of spiced earth, cinnamon, rose petal and cherry pit. Lavish and energetic all at once, the presence of these old vines allows it to stand up to something sturdy as well as something refined. A great under 20-dollar offering that needs to be experienced!

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$19.99 BTL./$239.88 CASE

Greco is the oldest grape varietal of the Avellino area in Southern Italy. Originally imported from the Greek region of Thessaly some 2500 years ago it is regarded as one of Italy's finest white wine grapes. Greco, especially from the Tufo, has gained renown for its refined, complex characteristics and Mastroberardino's version happens to be one of the benchmarks.

The first words out of my mouth when smelling this from the glass are unsuitable for this e-mail ;-). The transparency of the vineyard's exposed limestone soil is immediately evident with jaunting, energetic minerality. Peach, meyer lemon, honeysuckle, thyme and saline seep up from the glass and excite the olfactory senses. Brilliant clarity and briskness surround a sultry, very mineral texture that seemingly covers the entire palate. Coats, cleanses, cuts back, jukes, then scores! Oceanic flavors arrive on the finish that is poised and seemingly everlasting. Grand Cru Greco!?!?! I can see this pairing beautifully with bowl of piping hot pasta with clams, scallops and calamari dressed in olive oil and lemon.

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$9.99 BTL./$119.88 CASE

In Portugal’s Dao region, Pedra Cancela can now be considered a new regional star producer. When it comes to these wines, few others in this price range express the terroir of this central and very important red wine region.

With a light passage through wood, Pedra Cancela Selection delivers a more modern profile of Dao without giving up tradition. Blended from the native Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alfrocheiro varieties, it is intense, with notes of ripe plum and hints of cocoa. Its structure makes it accompany dishes of roasted red meat very well.

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$17.99 BTL./$215.88 CASE

Gaston-based Patton Valley has been in existence since 1995 making super-delicious Pinot Noirs. An unbelievable value indeed, this goes to show that there are still a few excellent Oregon Pinot Noir choices below the $20 level.

Okay, so it isn’t Richebourg, but the 2018 Willamette Valley from Patton Valley is all about Pinot pleasure. Quite sensuous, it unfolds with scents of raspberry, spiced-earth, cracked pepper and gentle traces of vanilla-cola. A pinot lover's pinot, the wine is nicely put-together with good subtlety, grace and sophisticated structure buffered exquisitely by plenty of depth of fruit. Strawberry licorice comes out on the forward, focused and deceptively lengthy close.

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$59.99 BTL./$719.88 CASE

Since taking over from his father, Julien Barge has continued to make prototype classic, but clean wines from their miniscule holdings on these hallowed Syrah Slopes. 2015 delivered sublime conditions in Cote-Rotie, warmth in the daytime and very cool nights, which resulted in sturdy, expansive wines with ample exuberance and submerged structure and are nothing short of stunning. The most important caveat to these wines is that even though there is a full fruit profile leading towards approachability, however, they are built for the cellar and with patience, rewards will be endless!

Non-destemmed 95% Syrah & 5% Viognier mostly from Cote-Blonde sections and aged in two years in 2-8 year old barrels, this is a true and alluring expression Syrah, this wine presents fragrant aromas of spice, tar and a suggestion of smoke which surround precisely focused berry fruit. The mouth-feel is rich and full of plum and pepper with fine, ripe and integrated tannins. A layer of earth and savory meatiness as well as a lingering, drawn out finish of fruitcake spices add to the mystique of this amazing offering. This wine is still hiding beneath itself and needs a little time, but the youthful raw material is profound. Leave this alone in your cellar and it will be at its apogee end of 2022 – 2030.

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$79.99 - 15 BTLS. AVAILABLE

Here is a pre-tariff Burgundy selection that any Burgundy lover should leap towards because the replacement cost and new vintage with tariffs will make it come in closer to $110 versus what it is now. Domaine Alain Michelot is one of the stalwart, sturdy producers of the large village of Nuits-St-Georges. A visit to this Domaine is akin to attending NSG University because of the holdings that the estate owns. Various vineyards throughout the appellation have allowed for a true study. Alain Michelot always made excellent wines but in a more rustic, sturdier style. Daughter Elodie took over in 2006 and she has cleaned up rusticity and added a beautiful feminine touch without ever sacrificing Nuit’s depth and terroir. These wines are flying so far under the radar right now and we are proud to be out in front.

The miniscule Premier Cru of La Richemone is unique in that it only has two owners. Located in the northern part of Nuits-Saint-Georges between two great Premiers Crus sites, Les Chaignots and Les Cras, the soil is dominated by pink limestone with a topsoil of silty clay and oolite scree. The soil here always allows for seductive wines that have a bit of underlying power to them. Given its youth, the 2017 is hiding its material but if you work and search, it will be found. Sexy aromatics combining purple flowers, blue fruits and wild spice go along with the cushion and penetration from the old vines. Very formidable with great future, it is a great red Burgundy to age until its eighth or tenth birthday then enjoyed for another decade afterwards. There are also a few bottles of 2012 available, inquire if interested.