3/16/20 'BENEVOLENCE' HotSheet

California Cab for under 20
Pommard & more

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$14.99 BTL./$89.94 - SIX PACK

When it comes to Italy’s Piedmont region, it doesn’t have to be all about Barolo and Barbaresco, there are plenty of other choices that can be consumed on an every evening basis. One of the very superb wines that I was able to sample last week happens to come from one of the Barolo region’s finest, Elio Grasso.

2017 is a prime vintage for the Dolcetto grape and Grasso’s is bursting with classic flavors of crushed red cherries, violet, exotic spice and dark-chocolate covered roasted almond. This wine possesses a real purity of fruit with a haunting core of juicy cherry and perfumed blackberry. Beautifully structured with no rough edges and a finish that is long, fresh and uplifting. There are many wine rules that state we aren’t supposed to gush so much merit and praise on to Dolcetto, but if ever there were one to go nuts over, this would be the one. A rocking value, this can be consumed regularly and will pair with a plethora of dishes like macaroni and cheese, a marinated pork tenderloin with a substantial mushroom prep or even a burger with spicy sauce.

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$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 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 pour from the glass and follow 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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$16.99 BTL./$203.88 CASE

One of the results of having the threat of tariffs has been the need to go and discover new wines from either old reliable areas or emerging ones. Ground Effect Wine Company is the project of Southern California wine vet John Kochis and harkens back to the old days of California Cabernets that are in fine balance versus those that are sweet and supercharged.

From Santa Ynez Valley and predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a dollop of Cabernet Franc, this offering brings me back to my days of learning about wine. Black cherry scents surrounded by mint, sage and underlying saltiness and red brick aspects build nicely from the glass. The west end Santa Ynez aspects show on the palate that is balanced with California warmth, finely positioned acidity and spice throughout. Rather lengthy, this wine will pair nicely with just about any comfort food that you want to prepare.

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$19.99 BTL./$119.94 - SIX PACK

There are many choices of Arneis but lately we have really become a two producer wine store. We tend to work with a few others but when it comes down to it, we mostly want to work with Vietti and these impeccable wines from Almondo. Domenico Almondo and his sons Federico and Stefano are making white wines from this grape that are extraordinary and very special indeed. All of the property is within the village of Monta and is at the highest point of the Roero.

Bricco Ciliegie is a site that has sand but what makes it very individual is the presence of limestone with some clay. Blitzing mineral and energy present with underlying scents of lemon and apricot and gentle touches of saline. The entry is round and expansive then picking up nerve and livewire character that lifts the wine and fills the mouth with joy. Kisses of honey and fennel beam on the finish, but what really sets it off is the stoniness and brilliant persistence. Dungeness crab is a slam-dunk and it will work with scallops or seabass. For the adventurous cook, try with a seafood risotto with asparagus.

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$11.99 BTL./$143.88 CASE

From Campania, Capranera’s Aglianico is a very pure expression of the land, grape and produced without the influence of oak. Back in the day, we would refer to wines from this area as ornery, cranky and hard red wines, but these days this is one of the most interesting growing regions in Italy.

Smoke, plums, Italian herbs and tanginess are present in this crowd-pleasing, warm, full wine with a generous, ripe and well-built finish. Matches well with game, lamb and pork…and slather them in some garlic & tomatoes.

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$24.99 BTL./$299.88 CASE

Calling all lovers of White Burgundy, you need to pay attention to Macon. No not Macon, Georgia, rather the France’s Southern Burgundy appellation of Macon. Now more than ever there is some outstanding Chardonnay being produced in the region. Perfect example is Domaine Gonon who happens to be based in the Pouilly-Fuisse village of Vergisson.

Lesson for Maconnais wines based on volume and quality. 1.) Macon, largest volume, flat land, generally washed out whites. 2.) Macon-Villages: A blend of various villages in Macon designated to qualify for this category. These are often pleasant and delightful but variable based on the producer. 3.) Macon with a named village like this wine, Uchizy, Charnay, Prisse, etc: Grapes solely coming from the specific village on the label. 4.) Cru wines: this encompasses Pouilly-Fuisse, St-Veran and Vire Clesse. These are the tops and usually most spendy but true values when it comes to the world of white Burgundy.

A top-notch value from Pouilly-Fuisse, this 100% Chardonnay is aged for 12 months in older oak barrels. A sleek, complex nose of mandarin orange, lemon, and spice follows through to a texture that is seamless intense and with waves of citrus flavors that move to a spicy-vanilla finish that soars. In no way is this heavy or overblown and is an example of the greatness of this particular vintage. Enjoy this white through 2027.

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$69.99 BTL./$839.88 CASE

White wine guru Laurent Pillot also happens to specialize in red wines. Through marriage, the current iteration of the estate makes four different Pommard wines, all soaring in quality. This week we are featuring two of Laurent and Adrien’s spectacular Premier Crus.

A quasi monopole, the 1er cru Clos de Verger is a rare wine. It is an appellation with only two owners. Laurent’s vines were planted in 1962 and 1984. More and more when I taste this particular offering it pushes all of my Burgundy buttons. Always a bit more precocious than the Charmots and Rugiens. Beautifully broad-scaled with allspice and dark roses. Plenty of classic smoke and spice. Mouthcoating, brilliantly focused and feminine. Layered, driving finish that is serious business as is the entire makeup of this gorgeous Premier Cru!

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$99.99 BTL. - limited

Pillot’s portion of the small Charmots vineyard is a mere ¾-acre planted in 1952 and 1989 that overlooks the Premier Cru of Les Epenots. Half of fruit done in whole bunches. Even mightier uptick in quality here versus the Verger. Scintillating detail. Very floral. Violet, rose, black cherry, integrated oak. Young, exuberant, off the charts texture and structure that comes in silky waves. Mouthfilling but throws some elbows and knees revealing that it needs to be left alone for a few years. Plenty of depth and on very packed finish.