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96 pt. Sauternes, Rioja, French Sauvignon Blanc, Nebbiolo & more

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2013 Palacios Remondo
Rioja Crianza 'La Montesa'
$17.99 btl./$215.88 case

Since 1989, Alvaro Palacios has become Spanish wine royalty by being one of the influences having put two growing regions on the wine map, Priorat and Bierzo. What Alvaro has done with his family's Rioja estate in just over a decade is nothing less than extraordinary and one has to wonder how they can be of such great values given their apex quality.

85% Garnacha, 15% Tempranillo from the warmer Rioja Baja sector which favors Garnacha. Beautiful, fragrant aromas present red raspberry surrounded by roasted herbs (rosemary & thyme) and gently placed kisses of mocha. Neo-classical, graceful, but very luscious and fine flavors seduce and assault the palate all at once. Good density of fruit shows over the structure, which is submerged by all of the knockout depth. Firms up on the finish that shows excellent dimension and Rioja detail. This is a real giant killer! Drink through 2023. Accolades abound - 91 pts. Wine Spectator and #52 in their Top 100 of 2017.

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2016 Beurer 'Weiss' Trocken
$13.99 btl./$167.88 case

Germany is home to many great wines but there are still undiscovered gems within this country. As we see an influx of young producers, regions like Baden-Wurttemberg have been exploited and no longer are these family estates selling to the local cooperative but instead making their own wines. These offerings are anything but semi-sweet German wines and are fermented dry.

A former European BMX bike champion, young Jochen Beurer set out on his own in 2003 and his scrupulous and meticulous wines have been some of the exciting wine adventures that we have taken. Weiss is a blend of Silvaner, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Muller-Thurgau and driven by the ancient sandstone and limestone soils that the grapes are grown in. Aromatic minerality, this wine is a bowlful of apples and rocks! Filly dry, brisk but with broadness from the grapes that shows very beautifully on the piercing, long finish. Drink this excellent value with spicy dishes, prawns, crab or even white sausages.

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2014 Neal Family Zinfandel
Rutherford Dust Vineyard
$23.99 btl./$287.88 case

The Zinfandel grape can really adapt well to many of California’s growing regions and really show differences. Napa Valley Zin is so very different from those of Sonoma, Amador, Paso Robles, etc. The overriding briary aspects always show up very well in these wines to nicely offset the power of the fruit and bring civility to the wines.

Neal Family is based in Rutherford and has long been a sleeper in Napa circles, producing wines of nice value and superb quality. The 2014 is 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah that have been co-fermented and are from vines planted in 1971. A wonderful eye-opening expression of Napa Valley Zin that displays blackcurrant, strawberry licorice whip, some caraway and peppermint tones add extra dimension. Pronounced cocoa rides shotgun and rounds everything out nicely in this formidable, distinctive offering. The texture is full, nicely structured and well integrated between dense fruit, spicy oak and its deft earth tones. A perfect steak or barbecue wine. Drink over the next decade.

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2014 Causse Du Theron
Cahors 'Terrasse'
$11.99 btl./$143.88 case

Sometimes birds, or in this case, ants, fly backwards. Usually one finds the French going into a new world region and collaborating on a wine. In this case it is the other way around. Famed Argentine Malbec producer Altos las Hormigas has gone to Cahors and collaborated with three different families to produce wines that break the stereotypes of current Cahors, which are wines that are either mean or mean, and overoaked. This wine is neither of these descriptors.

From limestone slopes, this 100% French Malbec is the epitome of a smooth value. Drier than versions from Washington or Argentina, it is formidable juice. Wild scents of red and blue berries, plum, sandalwood, exotic spice and dried mushrooms that pour from the glass and into the mouth where it is full and generous with a thoroughly likeable lively twist from not seeing any oak barrels. Even though there is a toe in this century, this is Cahors and the flavors of this diverse land permeate the pure aromas and flavors found this ancient region. The finish is long, lasting and is a whole lotta wine for 12-bucks! Drink this wine now and over the next 3-4 years with braised and grilled fare.

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2016 Chatelain Pouilly Fume
'Les Chailloux' Silex
$26.99 btl./$323.88 case

If you love wines from this area anywhere near as much as us, you will not want to miss this glorious wine because likes its Sancerre brethren it is Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc at its finest. Just as Lebron James is a perennial basketball all-star, Domaine Chatelain is always at the top of the list of great Loire Valley producers. As you probably have heard us say a dozen times by now, the 2016s are spectacular wines.

This classy Pouilly-Fume has absolutely gorgeous aromas of gooseberry, fresh cut grass, and pronounced flint from the silica soils. Lavish is the key word here in describing the palate. Incredible pure citrus fruit flavors, mixed with the perfect amount of mineral, and savory herbs. The differences between Sancerre and Pouilly are evident as there is more roundness and broadness; however, similarities are in its long, chiming finish. Classic Pouilly-Fume allure allows it to pair well with things like sea bass, salmon, sole or a fresh Crottin du Chavignol goat cheese. Exquisite stuff that should not be missed by well, you know, all of you!

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2014 Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria
$19.99 btl./$239.88 case

Southeastern Sicilian wines, particularly those of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria region, are the trendiest thing to come from Italy these days. Planeta is one of the island’s most influential producers in many ways. Their modern, international wines like Syrah and Chardonnay which suffered in a bunch of new oak barrels that really allowed Sicilian wines to become the more clear visions that they are today.

Frankly, above mentioned wines are not my cup of tea but fortunately Planeta also makes wines with native varietals and many of them like this selection are true and very unadulterated. The 2014 Cerasuolo di Vittoria Rosso is a delicious 60% Nero D'Avola, 40% Frappatto blend that exudes the essence of both of these native varietals. Flamboyant in color and aromatics with lots of blackberry and plum tones, but also exuding its sensuous, smooth side from the distinctive red soils of the region. Well-rounded and very flavorful this is a wonderful selection to pair with just about anything done with tomatoes.

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2007 Cantalupo Ghemme
'Collis Breclemae'
$49.99 - LIMITED!

The northern reaches of Piedmont, particularly Gattinara, Ghemme & Lessona, are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Serious producers are and have been on the scene and delivering some wonderful wines and Cantalupo has been a longtime stalwart and godfather of the Ghemme region. Let’s face it, if these wines were done in Barolo or Barbaresco they would be twice the price!

Ghemme and Gattinara are in very close proximity, but the terroirs could not be more different. Ghemme's soils come from Alpine, glacial deposits from the ice age and are laced with sand and clay whereas Gattinara's soils are volcanic and also packing granitic and quartz deposits. The Arlunno family are legends of this region and have quite a reputation among insiders in the business. A single Cru vineyard, Collis Breclemae is one of the top wines at the estate and is produced from 100% Nebbiolo. Lovely perfume, showing fennel, turned-earth with more and more camphor arriving as it opens. Slender and sculpted, there are more secondary notes arrive. At age 10, this is starting to drink very well indeed. Classy entry, drives with nice cushion and well-honed polish and poise as it moves through the middle and on the long finish that fans out beautifully. Enjoy this remarkable Piedmont wine over the next 6-10 years.

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2010 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes
Premier Grand Cru Classe
$99.99 btl.

Merely writing words on to an e-mail to describe the attributes of this renowned Sauternes seems to be a violation of all that is epicurean and hedonistic in the wine world. No doubt, this has slam-dunk potential and is a super-exciting and great choice for any of you who love Sauternes or are looking for something that with a child born in 2010 that wants to cellar something for any monumental occasion in the future.

‘The 2010 Rieussec was missing a little intellect when I tasted it from barrel. Now in bottle it has become a contender for the finest Sauternes of the vintage. It is blessed with a pure and lifted bouquet with ripe peach, nectarine and honey, hints of shaved ginger poke their head above the surface with aeration. It is very subtle. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, perfectly judged acidity and convincing harmony. This is a sophisticated Sauternes with superb mineralite and outstanding persistency. I will confess that I pinned this as "Yquem" and was both shocked and pleased when its identity was revealed. Go buy. Drink 2016-2035. – 96 POINTS – THE WINE ADVOCATE


Big Al & Little Al from Bierzo’s Apex producers

This Friday January 26 from 1:30 – 6:30

Join us this Friday as we explore Spain’s Bierzo region by sampling wines from its two most revered producers J. Palacios and Raul Perez. We will have an entry level wine open along with a top selection from each to show stylistic and terroir differences. A delicious and educational tasting indeed!


2015 J. Palacios Bierzo ‘Petalos’
2015 Raul Perez Bierzo ‘Ultreia St-Jacques’
2014 J. Palacios Bierzo ‘Corullon’
2014 Raul Perez Bierzo La Vizcaina ‘La Vitoriana’