Hot Sheets

Napa Cab & Zin, Cotes-du-Rhone, Upstart Oregon Pinot, Chinon, Baby Montalcino & more

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$16.99 BTL./$203.88 CASE

When it comes to the Cotes-du-Rhone wines that we retail for under 20, Domaine de la Janasse’s version always seems to be the most cerebral. Yes, this is Cotes-du-Rhone but the outer shell always seems to have a Burgundian-like suaveness about them. Whether it be Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Cotes-du-Rhone, Christophe Sabon always performs at an apex level and his newly arrived 2014 is no exception.

As usual, Grenache makes up about half of the base of the wine with an assemblage of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Cinsault brought to the party for complexity and spirit. Classically formed, but with the smoothness, polish and sophistication that this wine is known for. Generous and packed yet not oversized or hot. Raspberry and strawberry shine with an undertow of lavender, smoke, and classic Rhone spiciness fill in the rest of the palette. In the mouth, it is a poised, vinous glass of red wine chock full of Provencal flair. A cerebral and versatile offering that will please a bunch of palates and pair with a plethora of dishes and of course those with a Mediterranean twist to them as well.

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$23.99 BTL./$287.88 CASE

After tasting Will Hamilton’s wines, I think it is safe to say that this young guy will be one of the next big things when it comes to Eola-Amity producers. Talk about playing it forward, Walter Scott’s Ken Pahlow and Erica Landon struck up a friendship with Will and in exchange for cellar assistance, they allow Will to make his Violin wines in their winery.

Sourced from 5 vineyard sites (Eola Springs, Solena, Methven, First Man and Sunny Valley) this is a prototype Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with quite a bit of extra textural aspects and aromatic dimension. It is also soars much higher than its 24-dollar price tag. Violet, plum, lavender, red licorice, kisses of tarragon and cinnamon follow through to a sultry texture with deceptive depth, poise and material. Like any superb Pinot Noir, this wine fans out nicely on the palate, extends beautifully, and sticks around. Very lovable now and can age nicely over the next 6-8 years. A real Oregon find a producer to get in on now before the wines really take off and become hard to get.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

The DOC of Sant' Antimo was created in 1996 to exploit grapes plated within Montalcino which are blended in addition to Sangiovese. Mainly used as an excuse to add Cab or Merlot to Montalcino Sangiovese, top-level Brunello man Flavio Fanti thumbs his nose at this notion and rebelliously blends this wine with 50% Sangiovese and 50% Colorino as following his steadfast refusal to use small barrels.

Broad and bold are the best two words to describe the Montalcino area’s spectacular 2015 vintage. Combining the dark, hearty black tones of the Colorino and the violet and high-toned red fruits of the Sangiovese, this makes for a very tasty Tuscan wine. Plenty of depth and tangy aspects all while never losing its traditional dry and detailed flavors. Quite expansive yet very deft and elusive for being a classic, full-flavored wine from the home of Brunello and one of its most exciting, non-caricature producers. Drink with hearty pasta dishes based around lamb, pork or mushrooms.

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$31.99 BTL./$383.88 CASE

One to file in the ‘go figure’ folder. Truchard is a longtime Carneros producer and one that has always been more known for their Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. After tasting this wine last week and maybe chocking it up to global warming, this wine from the Carneros region that is where Napa ends and Sonoma begins (and vice-versa) proved to be very enticing indeed.

Sometimes we are forced to scour the earth to find Cabernet with excellent quality/price rapport. Too many times, if the wine is labeled ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’, it seemingly is a license to charge more. We must commend Truchard for making such a fabulous offering for such a wonderful tariff and is evocative enough to play with many that are two and three times its price. Cassis, cedar, dusty earth, well-integrated spicy oak and mint tones follow through to a sumptuous texture that is concentrated and well balanced. Builds nice vibrancy and structure on the finish along with an array of spice and mint characteristics that linger and expand. Enjoy this Cab with a big steak over the next 10-12 + years.

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$35.99 BTL./$431.88 CASE

The second stop on our Napa two-step takes us from the most southern end in Carneros all the way up top to Calistoga and the famed Chateau Montelena. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Montelena has produced this Estate Zinfandel for decades based around old vines and is one of California’s most distinctive versions of the grape.

Classic Napa Zinfandel, exhibiting a brilliant ruby color and aromas of bright plum, fig, raspberry, herbs, cocoa and pepper with an alluring hint of peppermint. Plenty of fruit intensity in its attack along with cinnamon and sneaky, cherry-influenced flavors, this full-bodied bottling is very nicely balanced from front to back. Pert and juicy flavors pick up engaging hints of caramel, dark chocolate and toffee along the way, it will serve with distinction even now in partnership with pork roasts and chops as always with Montelena wines, will age nicely.

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$24.99 BTL./$299.88 CASE

Around Thanksgiving time, we featured the Rose and Les Granges Chinon cuvees from the current titleholders of best in Chinon, Mathieu and Bernard Baudry. We make no bones about our affinity for these red Loire Valley wines that are made with 100% Cabernet Franc. We also warn that if you prefer fruity wines over those with earth and soul this one may not be your cup of tea. Those of you who love a real taste of France, then this is a must.

Les Grezeaux is a cuvee that is from 65-year-old vines grown in gravelly soil with sand/clay/limestone underbelly. A very individual nose with prominent sandalwood scents that combine with mineral, iron and red berries. There is good fruit; however, this wine is more about terroir. In the mouth, the entry is very silky but then goes all serial killer in the mid-palate with firm backbone and structure. Lots of depth and personality are present but this wine really needs to be consumed with your legs under the table. Try it with with pork, duck and a pan-seared steak au poivre. This wine also ages impeccably, I recently drank a 1996 and it was off the charts and almost a bit Burgundian in profile.

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$16.99 BTL./$203.88 CASE

Something new from our friend Albert Jane, he of Acustic Celler and Jane Ventura. When Albert’s father passed, his piece of land left to him was their famed property at Mas Vilella in the Penedes region of Catalonia. Although there are grapes from this exceptional terroir, Albert really doesn’t care about appellations of denominacions because he combined it with fruit from the neighboring Tarragona region to make one savory white wine that will surely liven any seafood preparation.

Made with native varietals (Xarel.lo, Macabeo, Malvasia di Sitges & Xarel.lo Vermell) and aged in both stainless steel and large French barrels, this wine has both burst and palate coverage. Fragrant perfumed orange-rind, sea breeze and mineral aspects virtually leap from the glass. In the mouth, it is twangy, athletic and chock full of peach pit briskness. Beautifully transparent from the brave start to the athletic finish. A wonderful combination with grilled shrimp, fresh crab and more. Why drink boring Pinot Gris when you can have something exciting, diverse and exhilarating!

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$13.99 - HALF BOTTLE

Sainte-Croix du Mont is a hidden gem of a dessert-wine producing region and one that delivers a nice sweet-wine experience for not a lot of money. Located just across the river facing Sauternes and Barsac, the same grapes (Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle) are utilized in the production of those area's wines. Sainte Croix du Mont is endowed with one of nature's strange wonders. It lies upon a panoramic plateau comprised of vast fossilized oyster beds, which give it a unique terroir for dessert wines. In fact, having visited here, they actually served this dessert wine with oysters to start!

Chateau Bel-Air's version is from the estate's oldest vines and is a truly delicious glass of golden nectar. Enticing, very forward with honeyed earth, full botrytis, and dried peach and ruby grapefruit fragrances; in the mouth it is full, round, supple and precocious with fine spices and a lovely finish. Very accessible now through 2020. Drink it with peach desserts. Roquefort will probably overpower this one so try it with a less powerful bleu cheese like Rogue Bleu or Bleu D'Auvergne.