Washington Cab Special, Tuscan Value, Beaune Brilliance, Oregon Chardonnay + more

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$17.99 BTL./$215.88 CASE

Year in and year out this is one of the strongest values from Tuscany. Not as known or as popular as other DOCG regions like Brunello di Montalcino or Chianti Classico, the region of Carmignano, located northwest of the city of Florence, is unofficially the first "Super-Tuscan Region" since Bordeaux varietals have always been permitted for blending with the native Sangiovese. Only of the early proponents of this Tuscan region as well as remaining one of the leading producers since 1955, well before the DOCG was granted in 1984.

One of the leaders of this NW Tuscan region, Ambra’s ‘Santa Christina in Pili’ Carmignano is a blend of 75% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Canaiolo, and 5% others. Intense nose of dark cherry, cassis and a hint of licorice. In the mouth, this has delicious berry fruit, good tannic structure, with overall excellent balance. A terrific value, once you taste this you will be back for more. Drink over the next 4-5 years with penne Bolognese, grilled hanger steak or hard cheese pecorino cheeses from Tuscany.

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$19.99 BTL./$239.88 CASE

Sometimes it is important to have a wine that you can just drink and shut up about. This soulful wine that fits that statement very well indeed.

From SW France’s Madiran region, this hearty, opaque red will make you look like a rock star at your next backyard bash. Forward, deep dark and brooding with black and red plum, roasted coffee, spice, maple and dark cherry. Just the right amount of oak ageing is used to soften out the formidable Tannat grape bringing a roundness on the palate. Enjoy this with now and over the next 4-6 years with a wintertime roast beef, duck or a gnarly blue cheese.

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[reg. $23.99] SPECIAL - $14.99 BTL./$179.88 CASE

From the long-time, Walla Walla-based stalwart producer Chuck Reininger, Helix is the label utilized for the Columbia Valley selections that are excellent values. This one at $24 is always excellent but at 14 bucks, is one that Cab loving winos should have in their lives.

Made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Phinny Hill Vineyard, which is located on the western edge of the Horse Heaven Hills appellation. 2014 is a prototype; warm vintage in Washington and the wines have all of the trappings that those who love New World Cabernets swoon. Flowing aromas of cinnamon, red cherry, allspice and molé. Lavishly textured with backbone that is true to its cabernet roots. Expressive dark flavors, cocoa dust that is typical of the best Washington Cabs, and licorice undertones prevail throughout the mouth. Finishes with nice pepper and spice tones that play off the fruit and stick around well after the wine is swallowed. Cabs this good at this price do not come around too often.

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$17.99 BTL./$107.94 - SIX PACK

Even though the Bertolino family are associated with Barbera and based in the Asti region, winemaker Dino (Gianni’s brother) wanted to take on the challenge of the Nebbiolo grape and this led him to the Roero area of the Langhe.

Assertive and classic aromas of mushroom, turned earth, dried cherry, herbs, asphalt and sinister spice lead into a texture that is firmly focused with red fruits dominating and filling the mouth. The finish shows plenty of Nebbiolo grip and verticality as well as a packed, but impressive finish that is very indicative of a classic vintage like 2013, one that is somewhat 1996 or 2004. Drink over the next 4-5 years.

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$19.99 BTL./$239.88 CASE

Cote-de-Brouilly is very, very different from Brouilly. Brouilly surrounds the Mont de Brouilly while the Cote-de-Brouilly is of higher elevation on the ‘mont’ and much tinier in vineyard size. From an extinct volcano and hard soils, Cote-de-Brouilly are always more concentrated than their Brouilly cousins and seemingly possess more spice. Consistently one of the most fragrant wines of the region and made using Burgundian techniques, 2016 brought superb quality.

Delicious, complex aromas of strawberries with mineral and subtle notes of tarragon and prominent graham/black pepper spice. Bright, layered peppery fruit and herbs make a wine that's refreshing but worthy of more attention than just casual sipping due to its mouth filling texture that can best be described as a miracle in the mouth!

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$24.99 BTL. - LIMITED

Sometimes after doing year-end inventory and unearthing things, one finds a few treasures. There are some bottles of this Oregon gem left from the highly sought-after Eola Hills winery, Walter Scott. An excellent value, if you love Oregon Chardonnay that is influenced by Burgundy, do not miss this. When this sells through we’ll roll into the equally impressive 2017! Walter Scott is in the upper echelon of Chardonnay producers and if you have not tried one of their offerings and love white Burgundy, this is necessary because it is a true gateway into their world, especially when the time comes for their highly limited single vineyard wines.

From six vineyards (Freedom Hill, X Novo, Clos des Oiseaux, Sojourner, Vojtilla, and Witness Tree), this is all about the art of the blend of making a top-notch village level wine. Stunning refinement for new world Chardonnay, this wine shows off complicated aromas of mandarin glaze, subtle grilled hazelnut, white peach and mineral with finely woven nutmeg notes. Nice depth, velvety, mouth-filling fruit and sophistication characterize the texture. The finish lifts, coats, cleanses then coasts on, persisting and expanding. We hate to use constantly use hyperbole, but in this case, it is merited. This is phenomenal juice from a serious blend for not a lot of money.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

Like Alvaro Palacios, Telmo Rodriguez is one of Spain's larger-than-life wine figures. Over the last two decades, this producer has taken central Spain's Tempranillo-based wines to various lofty heights. Rodriguez is all about balance rather than pushing ripeness and alcohol levels. Diving head-on into Spanish wines that are not made from Tempranillo, his project in the Alicante region offers impressive values that are nicely in-check. With this wine, Telmo has instantly made has his mark with the Monastrell (Mourvedre) grape and this is one that he insists on showing off the sandy soils of his vineyard sites and done without the intrusion of oak.

As is expected, the wine is generous with its deep fruit, while showing a balance seldom seen in the region. Fresh, lively, blackberry, cherry, smoke and earth aromas jump from the glass of this dark ruby-hued medium-bodied luscious wine that possesses energy and character. Perfect for every evening consumption.

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$49.99 BTL./$599.88 CASE

One of the Beaune region’s iconic producers, Domaine Albert Morot has been synonymous with wines from the hills above the city since 1820 and run by founder Albert Morot’s descendants. Quality here has never faltered, these wines have always been exceptional. After his aunt retired in 2000, Albert’s great, great-grandnephew runs the family business. Geoffroy Choppin farms just over 20 acres almost entirely in premier cru vineyards. with vines averaging 50 years of age.

Karen, Michael & I had the chance to visit and taste with Geoffroy and when we found out they switched importers we were excited. We became ecstatic when we saw the pricing on these brilliant wines, which are unparalleled heists now that they are working with a new liaison. If you don’t know quite yet, Burgundy is in the midst of some stellar vintages. 2015 is great, but 2016 is tres, tres special! This kind of vintage comes along maybe once per decade if that. If I had to compare, which is only human nature, I’d say there is quite a bit of 1999 inspiration here with the detail and depth with a bit of 2005 sprinkled in for concentration without being heavy as well as structure.

Very small site located on the lower Beaune slope. Sand-based soils. Pottery fragments found in this vineyard show that this was a farming settlement in Gallo-Roman times. After the farms disappeared, the site remained without vines for a long time before being planted again. 'Sanvignes' [vineless] then changed to 'Cent-Vignes' (hundred vines). Reds from this Premier Cru site are remarkable for their color and the delicacy of their aromas. In the mouth, they combine complexity with mellowness. Excellent sap without ever being thick. Perfumy from the outset. Sensual strawberry and more. Clings to the palate, excellent lift with deceptive backbone. Very lengthy indeed. Drink 2021 – 2030+. 500 cases produced.


Central Italy

This Friday January 11 from 1:30 – 6:30

Drop by this Friday to sample four wines from the midsection of Italy. Tuscany, Le Marches, Umbria & Abruzzo will be featured and will make for a delightful winter afternoon just wishing we were all in the warm Italian sun.


2015 Ambra Carmignano
2015 Bisci Rosso ‘Fogliano’
2017 Antonelli Montefalco Grechetto
2011 Valle Reale Montepulciano D’Abruzzo ‘Popoli’