Hot Sheets

Domaine Drouhin Laurene, 92+ point Reds for under 20, Grand Cru Barolo & more

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$19.99 BTL./$239.88 CASE

Lately there has been a concerted effort for many of us in the wine world to de-emphasize numbers on wines; however, on occasion when in agreement we push forth. This offering as well as the following both are terrific! Since bursting on to Spain's wine scene, Bierzo has had incredible highs but has also seen its share of growing pains. Along with the Palacios family, Raul Perez has been a force since the initial explosion 20 years ago. He is not only a generous soul; he is also one of the leaders for change in the area, leading to better focus on terroir with the Mencia grape. We have been on the Palacios Petalos for many years but this is the first time we have ever offered an alternative that is its equal, yet is very different.

‘The 2015 Ultreia St Jacques is the entry-level red for the Ultreia range and is amazingly good for the price. Produced from old vines, this is a serious wine, with juicy fruit, a fine palate and good freshness for the conditions of the year. They have included new vineyards that they have been working for the last four or five years, so they are able to bottle a little bit more wine. This is a great value....Raúl Pérez should need no introduction by now. With a clear focus on terroir, the wines are often named after the places or vineyards where the grapes come from, and the range is very wide. He has changed U.S. importer, and the prices in the states have seen a significant decrease. – 93 POINTS, THE WINE ADVOCATE

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$13.99 BTL./$167.88 CASE

One of the apex Southern Rhone values that we work with every year, Pesquie’s Ventoux Rouge is once again outstanding.

‘A smoking good 2015 that readers should snatch up is the 2015 Cotes du Ventoux Cuvee des Terrasses, which is 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah that’s aged in a combination of two- to four-year-old barrels and foudres. Medium to full-bodied, polished, silky and with no hard edges, it has classic Southern Rhone notes of Provencal spices, garrigue, licorice and ripe black raspberries. Buy a case and drink bottles over the coming 5-6 years. The Chaudiere family’s Chateau Pesquié continues to be one of the gems in the Ventoux appellation. Their Ventoux Cuvee des Terrasses is made in decent quantities and is the easiest to find (and it’s a crazy good value), but don’t miss a chance to taste their other cuvées. – 92 POINTS, THE WINE ADVOCATE

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$26.99 BTL./$323.88 CASE

It's amazing just how many good French Chardonnays are out there at this price level and perhaps the biggest surprise is that a few come from some truly amazing producers like Francois Carillon. A renowned Puligny-Montrachet producer, this cat's expertise extends through the entire range. From the grand cru Chevalier-Montrachet to this excellent Bourgogne Chardonnay, the performance levels of the entire range is fantastic.

Impressive, upscale aromas indicate that this wine is wearing virtual platform Puligny-Montrachet shoes. Not quite the ones Frenchy Fuqua wore back in the 70s with the goldfish in the see-through soles, which means that while it isn't the grands vins, many tendencies and influences of it are abound. White peach, mineral, rum-butter, orange and kaffir lime scents stand out and follow through to an exciting texture that is rich and is buffered by excellent citrus tones. The finish is electric with impressive viscosity and length. A total instant gratification wine this will be perfect for quite a bit of upscale seafood dishes or roasted chicken.

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$23.99 BTL./$287.88 CASE

Here is a chance to have a Super Tuscan experience from a legendary producer at a fair price. Tenuta Ornellaia is very famous for its namesake wine as well as the uber scarce Massetto, both of which are well north of 100 bucks. Le Volte is a creative blend that is imminently accessible and is a great way to indulge in one of Italy’s legendary producer’s wines without having to take a second mortgage out on your house.

2015 is a dreamy vintage for Tuscany, especially along the coast. 67% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon & 13% Merlot and fully voluptuous, this offering reveals savory and intense plum and blueberry tones along with underlying Eastern spices, Italian herbs and gently placed chocolate-y oak notes. Creamy, layered, engaging and mouth filling there is no doubt that this will appease a diverse crowd of palates and will carry well to the table with its regal undertones. Drink this beauty through 2023 with beef or lamb dishes.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

Founded by longtime friends Tony Cartlidge and Glen Browne in 1980, these original California garagiste wines consistently have been one of the "go-to" places for everyday-drinkin' selections from California. In 2011, the operation was sold but the values have continued at a prominent level and this perennially lovable Cab is no exception.

Alluring spice-box scents surround violet, black cherry and mocha tones. The texture is luscious, full and spicy with lively red tones on the open and forward finish. A perfect Cab for midweek consumption that overachieves and reaches for the stars. Enjoy on its own, with a burger, pasta, grilled hearty vegetables, and lentils and on and on.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

Back in the 70s, Tower of Power asked the provocative question of "What Is Hip?" In the wine world, Catalunya is very hip and Espelt is a cool producer from the Emporda region, located a stone's throw from the French border on the Mediterranean. Along with making super Red and Rose wine values, this estate also makes a flat out delicious white wine from white Grenache from old vines.

Aged in a spot of 2-3 year old oak barrels for three months, this flavorful white wine beams with scents of peach skin, lanolin, lemon and clove. Quite palate staining from old vines, kisses of vanillin spice creep through on the finish, but it is needed to support the wiry, electric minerality that comes from its high-elevation vineyard sites. Enjoy this wine with a plethora of foods, especially Latin-inspired seafood dishes such as ceviche or fish tacos.

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$44.99 BTL./$269.94 - SIX PACK

Last week when I saw this, I could not believe that a Barolo from a fabulous producer that comes from of what is essentially a Grand Cru vineyard could be sold for 45 bucks. Over the weekend, I test-drove a bottle and it fired on all of its expectedly youthful cylinders.

Given its proximity to 2010 and 2013, the 2012 vintage for Barolo and Barbaresco is extremely fine although a bit lost in the shuffle yet is already delivering excellent quality to price rapport. Not one for immediate gratification, this is a big honker for Cannubi yet it is still regal and layered. Quite a captivating nose of virtual black rose, mint, underlying classic red strawberry aspects and ample energy/earth and minerality. In the mouth, it starts with plushness then immediately clamps down with its impressive structure. Even though it clings to the palate, it goes inward and allows the mystery to develop. Long, extensive and packed, this will become a formidable Barolo with some cellar time. Excellent for those who like to age their wine as well as to have an excellent deal. Drink this haunting beauty end of 2019 – 2033.

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$65.99 BTL./$395.94 - SIX PACK

Domaine Drouhin's Laurène Pinot Noir is the equivalent of The Beatles, The Clash, Charlie Parker or Stevie Wonder - profoundly influential. In fact, in our humble opinions, the 1993 Laurene is the benchmark of all Oregon Pinot Noirs, and is still drinking beautifully even at 24 years old! While the Oregon wine industry may well be over forty years old, its significance in the world of pinot noir started with the arrival of Domaine Drouhin Oregon in 1988. The wine world stood up and took notice when Robert Drouhin decided to plant his first vines in Oregon under the supervision of his daughter, Veronique. Today, DDO has earned its placement as one of Oregon’s best, and certainly one of the best producers of pinot noir and chardonnay outside of Burgundy itself. Every year we look forward to the new releases of their pinot noir and chardonnay, and each year we seemingly tell you that they keep on getting better.

Last week I had the misfortune of tasting five different 2014s that were from several unnamed producers. With this brutally warm vintage, notes came up like, "dusty Paso Robles Zin-like," "hot like an Aussie Grenache and very un-pinot-like," and my favorite, ‘this is like dipping a cherry tootsie-pop in Everclear!’ This wine has none of those miserable traits. The nose offers smoky, black licorice notes with underlying complex plum, graphite, sage and red flowers. Red-toned and very Burgundian-influenced with its graceful richness and seductive qualities, the mid-palate is very billowy and then bursts on the finish that shows deceptive structure. Not inaccessible now, this is alluring stuff and will easily age and develop through 2026+.


Seamless & Themeless

This Friday, September 15 from 1:30 - 6:30

Okay, so there was slight difficulty in finding an inspiration for this week’s Sips. Not to worry, it has all come together with a fabulous lineup of four wines which is the set up for a plethora of upcoming Friday Sips featuring themes and guests. Oregon, Portugal, Spain & Bordeaux will all be uncorked.


2015 Raul Perez Bierzo ‘Ultreia St-Jacques’
2011 Chateau Charmail Haut Medoc Rouge
2016 Evesham Wood Eola Amity ‘Blanc du Puit Sec’
2016 Anselmo Mendes Avesso