The Wine Wire: Some Barolos We Found While Hanging Around On The Floor

Last week we performed a physical inventory which involved a lot of crawling around on the floor to get to the lower shelves. This particular task, while unpleasant and somewhat tedious, did remind us that we have a few great Barolos in this place. These are very limited in quantity. But perhaps you want a bottle or two for around the house or cellar.


2009 Cappellano Barolo “Pié Franco-Michet”



2006 Massolino Barolo “Margheria”



2004 Cavallotto Baraolo Bricco Boschis “Vigna San Giuseppe”



2010 Paolo Scavino Barolo Monvigliero



Posted in The Wine Wire

Friday Feature 01/09/15: The 2012 Releases from Quinta Vale D. Maria

Hello and Happy Friday!
The New Year always brings new arrivals, and we will have lots of fun new selections for you in the coming weeks.
One set of new arrivals that just came in at the end of December are the new vintages from superstar Portuguese producer, Quinta Vale D. Maria.
Whether it is their inexpensive “Rufo,” which we sell by the bucketload, to their flagship offerings from the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate, these are some of the most beloved wines that we sell in the store.
In fact, everyone that had a chance to try these when Francisca Van Zeller was in town last year, came back for more.
We are proud to currently be the exclusive retailer of these wines in Illinois.
The Douro region of Portugal, from where these hail has garnered much attention in the last year.  While we don’t often quote press, we believe that a country with as great of wines as Portugal, we must share the consensus so that consumers who are wary realize it has arrived as one of the great wine producing countries.
In last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100, the Douro logged three of the top five spots.  Pretty impressive.
Now we will begin to see the new vintage 2012 arrive to our shores, a vintage that I had the chance to taste when I visited Portugal last July.  Generalizations about the vintage don’t paint the whole picture.  If you have ever been to the Douro you know it offers many different expositions, elevations, and even slight changes to the soils.  Different Douro estates, within a few kilometers, all experienced variations which impacted their wines.
What I can tell you from my visit to Quinta Vale D. Maria is that they produced really outstanding wines in 2012.  There were some wines I may have slightly preferred in 2011, but then others I preferred in 2012.  That’s wine – the differences in the vintages are what makes it interesting and fun to debate.  Nobody, not even Robert Parker knows exactly how these will turn out exactly.
So without further ado, let us introduce you to some world-class wines, that we think any of our collector / drinker clients need to try!
Have a great weekend,
Craig & Sheb



Friday Feature
Quinta Vale D. Maria
The history of Quinta Vale D. Maria starts in 1996, when it was acquired by Cristiano Van Zeller and his wife Joana.  The property had been in Joana’s family for many years.   A huge restoration of the property needed to take place, as well as increasing of vineyards through new plantings and long-term leases.
Today, Quinta Vale D. Maria has 31 hectares of vineyards. 16 hectares, which are fully-owned are 60-80 years-old.  10 hectares which have a long lease are between 25 and 80 years, and new plantings of 5 hectares occurred in 2004 and 2007.
The team behind Quinta Vale D. Maria is an impressive one.  The Van Zeller’s have been involved in the Douro and Port trade since the late 1700’s.  They owned Quinta do Noval, till it was sold in 1993.  Cristiano Van Zeller was the manager of Noval till that point.  His other team members include famed consulting winemaker Sandra Tavares da Silva (owner of Pintas), and full-time winemaker Joana Pinhão.
I’m excited to introduce the line-up of red wines from Quinta Vale D. Maria!
2011 “Rufo” Tinto
It all starts with the “Rufo.”
“Rufo” is the everyday drinking wine from Quinta Vale D. Maria. They use the fruit from younger vines on the estate, as well as some purchased fruit from various cousins in the same region. The wine is a blend of Touriga Franca & Touriga Nacional.
Complex and full-bodied this has enough fruit to make it a glass you can just sip on all by itself.
This is an outstanding value, and the 2011 is dangerously close to selling out!  Insert sad Emoji here.
$15.00 BTL. / $90.00 SIX-PACK CASE – ONLY 60 BOTTLES LEFT!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria Douro Tinto
Each person that bought the 2011 Tinto from us commented on how much they loved it, and usually purchased more.  Wait till you have the 2012!
This is the flagship wine of Quinta Vale D. Maria.
There are over 40 different traditional grape varieties blended in this wine, with an average vine age of 60-years-old.  The vineyards are co-planted with these indigenous varietals and harvested together.  Some of the names include Tinta Amarela, Rufete, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Francisca, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Sousão.
When the grapes are harvested they are foot trodden in traditional lagares, or open top stone tanks, with this process typically lasting 1 to 3 days.  There is temperature controlled lining in the lagares to ensure a fermentation range in the 22 to 27 degree Celsius.  Malolactic fermentation takes place in oak casks, two different sizes, and then aged for 21 months in barriques (75% new, 25% 1 year).
The 2012 Tinto is outstanding.  It has the concentration you would expect from a Quinta Vale D. Maria wine, but finishes with more freshness and great length.  I had a chance to taste a 2004 vintage with Cristiano, which was a cooler vintage, and it was in great shape.
The best part about this wine is that it can be opened now (give it a little time in a decanter) and will age nicely over a decade.
A world-class wine – do not miss this!
2012 CV – Curriculum Vitae, Douro
Before Cristiano decided to make his two single vineyard wines, Curriculum Vitae was considered the top wine of the house.  Today, it is one of the top three, but still one of the most impressive wines made in Portugal.
The grapes are grown in one of their vineyards along the river Torto.  It is a North facing vineyard, very old vines, with more than 80 years of age.
The grapes are foot trodden at Quinta Vale D. Maria for 2 days at a cool temperature between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius.  50% of that juice is fermented in the same lagares, and the other 50% in stainless steel vats.  Aging is done in barrique, 75% new and 25% one-year barrels.  Production was down in 2012 to 5,036 bottles.
The 2012 offers some of the same fruit tendencies as 2011 with notes of black cherry and plum, and also is showing some of its baking spices from the oak, yet the finish is very different.  The tannins are a tad softer, and the length and freshness seem to go on and on!
I have no problem with someone opening and decanting a bottle right now.  In fact I would ask that next time you need a gift bottle for someone that is over immersed in wines like Napa Cabernet or even Châteauneuf-du-Pape, that you bring a bottle of this to try!
This of course will age nicely in one’s cellar, so drink now – 2030.
Truly fantastic!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha da Francisca,” Douro
A single plot on the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate, the vines for Vinha da Francisca were planted in 2004.  The 4.5 hectare vineyard is planted with Tinta Francisca (an old varietal introduced in the Douro in 1756), Touriga Franca, Sousão, Rufete and Touriga Nacional.
Like the others, the grapes are foot trodden in lagares, but also fermented in those lagares.  The wine was racked into Allier oak, undergoing malolactic fermentation in those barrels and aging.
I thought it was going to be difficult to outdo the 2011 Vinha da Francisca, but in my estimation the 2012 does so.  The hallmark of this wine is its aromatic exuberance, always teeming with beautiful red fruits, mineral and spice.  It has a very seductive, silky texture that firms up a bit at the end.  Again, that freshness of 2012 really adds to the length.
Only 7,800 bottles produced, and this will be very rarely seen in the United States.
For those that want to drink sooner than later, this is special!
2012 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha do Rio,” Douro
The amazing thing about the Quinta Vale D. Maria estate is that every plot is identified and many vinified on their own.
It was this knowledge of their different terroir within the property that led Cristiano Van Zeller to decide to make a special wine from his oldest parcel on the property.  Called Vinha do Rio (River Vineyard) it sits at lower altitude, very close to the river.  The vines were planted 100 years ago.
The wine is fermented and aged in the same manner as Vinha da Francisca, but the flavors and identity are completely different.
Compared alongside the Vinha da Francisca, the aromas introduce a dark cherry, red currant note alongside darker berries, notes of mineral and cocoa.  Texturally, this is much richer and full-bodied than Vinha da Francisca, but again with that hallmark balance and complexity.
The 2012 was recently reviewed by Mark Squires of The Wine Advocate and given 94 points, one of the highest rated Douro wines of the vintage.
With only 2696 bottles produced, this is very rare stuff indeed. This is always the wine that sells out the quickest from the winery and will do so from my store as well.
A perfect gift to yourself, or someone else!
Cellar and drink from 2018-2035.
Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday feature 1/2/15: One Wine From The Marche

Hello and Happy Friday!
We hope you all had an amazing celebration to commemorate 2014.
We are already excited about all the great wines that 2015 is going to bring!
So to begin the New Year off right, this Friday Feature focuses on one of Craig’s favorite discoveries of 2014, the wines (and olive oil) of Vini Mida in the Marche region in Italy.
We also wanted to remind you that we are open our normal hours of business today (Jan. 2) and tomorrow (Jan. 3).  Reload on your depleted resources from the holidays!
Finally Craig just wanted to also say “Go Ducks!”
Have a great weekend,
Craig & Sheb


Vini Mida Offida

2011 Vini Mida Offida Rosso-Marche, Italy
Italy is an amazing wine country.  Even for us in the business there are always new discoveries.
Last June, Craig spent a week in the Marche region of Italy.  Don’t know where that is?  In 2015 you will know, because we have several great finds on their way.
The Marche region is located on the eastern seaboard of the Adriatic, in Central Italy, South of Emilia Romagna and North of Abruzzo.
It offers a beautiful coastline, and in the interior, descending from the Apennine mountain chain, beautiful hills, forming valleys, gorges and rivers.
It is perhaps Italy’s best kept secret, a region that has seen some upswing in tourism, but with still a laid back, non-touristy feel.
The region is essentially split into five administrative districts, each with its own character.
Today’s winery comes from the Southern most administrative district which takes its name from the biggest town, Ascoli Piceno.
Vini Mida is a 3 hectare estate located in Castorano.  Winemaker Roberto Corradetti produces between 7,000 – 8,000 bottles of wine per year.  The history of Vini Mida began with Roberto’s father, who was passionate about wine and made small quantities for home use.  After the birth of Roberto’s son in 2000, they decided to take a more full-time approach and 2004 marks the start of the company.
Roberto is very connected to his vineyards, and has strong beliefs on farming and the health of the farm.  His vineyards are organically farmed, even certified as Agricoltura Biologica.
This hard work in the vineyard pays off in the wines.
This red hails from the Offida DOCG, which by law is a wine made predominantly of the Montepulciano variety.  While technically the same grape that you find in Abruzzo, Montepulciano from Offida is less productive, and also the bunches are slightly different.
Montepulciano can be a tricky grape to grow, as the farmer has to carefully manage its ripeness and the time to pick it.  This is something Roberto Corradetti does very well.  Coupled with his dedicated organic farming, there is the typical richness and fruit of the grape, but with excellent balance.
The 2011 Offida Rosso was produced entirely from Montepulciano from a 2 hectare parcel on the estate.  Harvested in October, it was fermented in stainless steel tank, and aged in barrel for 24 months.
Intense dark cherry aromatics combine with hints of fennel and cocoa.  This really glides across the palate with rich dark and red berry fruit, spice and a long finish that keeps you salivating.
It is a great food wine.  Try pairing it with pasta with a rich bolognese sauce, or with a steak seared in cast-iron.
For those that don’t polish off a whole bottle in a night, this shows well for at least a couple days with the cork stuck back in.
It is a fantastic value, and best part of all when you buy this, you are supporting a true small farmer who is living his dream with a great deal of passion.
$21.99 BTL. / $131.94 SIX-PACK CASE
Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 12/26/14: The New 6 for $70 Something Sampler!

Hello and Happy Friday!
Hope your holidays were merry and bright!
We have had a great year here at Perman Wine Selections, and want to thank you, our customers, for your loyal support and referrals. It really means a lot whenever a new customer comes in and tells us that we have come highly recommended. We are nothing without all of you.
New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. If you are planning a soirée or fancy cocktail party, we are happy to look at your menus and make pairing suggestions. Just email us your ideas.
We will be observing regular hours except Wednesday December, 31st (New Year’s Eve) when we will be open from 12-5pm and Thursday, January 1st, 2015 (New year’s Day) we will be CLOSED.
After that, we are back to business as usual.
In other news, we are excited to announce the newest version of your 6 for $70-Something sampler!

The 6 for $70-Something is Chicago’s (and the planet’s) best monthly value wine sampler!


This month’s sampler is our Friday Feature of 2014. There are some fantastic wines here that represent some of the “work” we did while traveling this year and we are excited to hear your thoughts about these prodders we have grown so fond of.


If interested, simply stop by the store, or send us an email and we can coordinate delivery or shipping.


Craig & Sheb




6 for $70-Something Sampler

2013 Vale D. Marie “Rufo” Branco-Douro, Portugal


Our affection for Quinta Vale D. Mari and the family that makes these great wines is no secret; we honestly feel that Quinta Vale D. Maria is one of the greatest estates in the Douro. Last summer, we featured the “Rufo” red and you people drank us dry. “Rufo” is the everyday drinking wine from Quinta Vale D. Maria. They use the fruit from younger vines on the estate, as well as some purchased fruit from various cousins in the same region. The first time around, we did not order the white but we have rectified this situation now.


Like the red, this wine is a blend of many indigenous varieties that grow happily together in the beautiful terraced vineyards that line the majestic Douro River. Rabigato & Viosinho lead the charge.


The Rufo white is surprisingly fresh and delicate given the power of the red that comes from these valleys; a Sauvignon Blanc fan or those who have a penchant for vibrant, light, refreshing whites done without oak will be great fans of this.


$15.00/ BTL.-$90.00/ CASE OF 6



2012 Domaine Rabasse-Charavin Côtes Du Rhône Rouge- Southern Rhône Valley, France


Rabbase-Charavin is another estate we hold dear to our hearts and always get excited when our yearly shipment arrives. To re-cap, Domaine Rabasse-Charavin is a fantastic, small estate located in the appellation of Cairanne. Corinne Couturier and her daughter, Laure are the fourth and fifth generation to make wine at Rabasse-Charavin.  Their wines have a great reputation in France, classically structured, and traditionally styled.


2012 in the Souther Rhône is a vintage with nice ripeness but also great finesse. Corrine and Laure work with smaller yields than most, and as a result their wines are always concentrated, and the 212 Côtes du Rhône is no exception, although it does exhibit a nice freshness, a result of the vintage.


The blend here is 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah & 5% Mourvédre. Aromatic, fruity and spicy, this is a wonderful wine to accompany simply roasted meats.


$14.00/BTL.-$168.00/ CASE OF 12



Domaine de Majas Syrah “Ravin Des Sieurs”-Côtes de Catalanes, France


About 20 miles north of the Spanish border, in the Rousillon, the IGP zone of Côtes des Catlanes is located. Life here, like in all border regions, melds a certain French industriousness with a Mediterranean calm that harkens to the Catalan influences. Domaine de Majas is located in Caudies de Fenouilledes, at the foothills of the Pyrénees Mountains, exposed to a particularly stunning view of this geological wonder. Majas works organically with respect to the animals, humans, flowers and beauty that surrounds them.


“Ravin Des Sieurs” is a single, hillside vineyard with an average vine age of 35 years. The soils are composed of limestone, clay and schist. Harvesting is done manually and fermentation and aging are done in stainless steel.


The result is a lovely Syrah that while ripe and redolent of blue and black fruit, still maintains a lively structure that hints at a jammy quality. We love this with stew, but also could be very nice with a simple dinner of sausages onion & salad.


This wine normally retails for $16 per bottle, and well worth it at that price. We have a very special price on this right now, so take advantage of this exceptional value.


$12.00/BTL.-$144.00/ CASE OF 12



2013 Failoni Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico- Marche, Italy


This is one of the properties Craig fell in love with during his summer trip to the Marche. The small winery, run by the meticulous Antonio Failoni, was impressive in its quality, cleanliness and professionalism.


Failoni is located in the central Marche, 20 km from the east coast of Italy and he produces 6,000 bottle of this marvelous white annually. The DOC of Cstelli dei Jesi encompasses about 5000 acres and produces only white wine made from Verdicchio.


Let it be known, Verdicchio is not always something to write home about. We have had many a dilute, forgettable version. Not with this winery though. Failoni’s version is impressively concentrated, with great minerality and a spirited citric quality that is oh so quaffable.


The wine will pair nicely with salads (and face it, we can all use some more salad this time of year) steamed crab legs, or sautéed sole.


$12.00/BTL.-$144.00/CASE OF 12



2013 Pandolfi Orsini Pergola Rosso “Montalfojo”- Marche, Italy


This property is another gem from Craig’s very productive trip to the Marche region of Italy.


Pandolfi Orsini was founded in 1894, and today brothers Andrea and Luca are the six generation in charge of the estate.  They make 5 wines in total, including this Pergola Rosso.


What the heck is Pergola Rosso? Don’t worry, I was flummoxed as well. Not many of the wines from the Marche make it to the states and that is too bad. This is a tiny wine zone dedicated to making red wine from the Aleatico grape. The villages of Pergola, Fratte Rosa, Frontone, Serra Sant’Abbondio and San Lorenzo in Campo encompass the zone. There are only a handful of producers left making Pergola. And there are only about 1200 acres of Aleatico left in Italy.


Those who love fragrant, soft red with floral qualities and soft berry fruit with adore the Montalfojo. It reminded me a bit of Frappatto mixed with Sangiovese, you know, Frangiovese!





2013 Alberto Furque Malbec- Valle de Uco, Argentina 


Alberto Furque and his family established their eponymous winery in the town of La Consulta, in the Uco Valley just south of Mendoza. The vineyards are at high elevation (3000 feet above sea level) and this elevation creates an extreme diurnal shift; hot days coupled with cool nights.


Carolina Furque is now at the helm, and her philosophy is to harvest very ripe grapes for maximum fruity pleasure. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel and aged in concrete tanks.


This is the kind of jammy, late night wine you wouldn’t mind opening if dinner ended up being just a few potato chips. It happens sometimes, don’t give us that look!


$10.50/BTL.-$126.00/CASE OF 12

Posted in 6 for $70-Something, Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 12/19/14: The New 6 for $120 Something Sampler- Your Holiday Meal, Mapped Out.

Hello and Happy Friday!


We hope you are having a wonderful Holiday Season!


In the spirit of the Holidays, our latest edition of the Six for $120-Something features six wines intended for that perfect Holiday meal.


We take you through the evening, starting with sparkling, moving into white, red, and even a dessert wine.


This is one of the best samplers we have offered to date.


It would make a great last minute gift idea for a client, co-worker or a family member.  We are happy to include gift descriptions with the sampler.




We are maintaining normal store hours for most of the Holiday season.  Our normal hours are M-F, noon till 8 pm, and Saturday, 11 am – 7 pm.


Please note the following exceptions:


Christmas Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 24th – Noon – 5 PM

Christmas Day – Thursday, Dec. 25th – Closed


New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, Dec. 31st – Noon – 5 PM

New Year’s Day – Thursday, Jan. 1st – Closed


We hope to see you soon!



Craig & Sheb



6 for $120-Something


Domaine Champs Fleuris Crémant de Loire NV

The Loire Valley is known for its crisp Sauvignon Blancs and earthy Cabernet Francs, but here’s a fact you might not know: it also produces over two million gallons of champagne method sparkling wine under the appellation “Crémant de Loire”.


Are you as excited about this as we are?


Most of this Crémant production comes out of the Saumur appellation, which is where our producer, Domaine des Champs Fleuris is located. Many of you have tried their delicious Cabernet Francs, which we have been offering over the last several months.


Champs Fleuris make their fines bulles (aka bubbles) at the estate which is a relatively rare practice in the region. Many producers send their base wine to another winery who then completes the secondary fermentation, sending the finished Crémant back to the producer. Champs Fleruis is able to over see all steps of their Crémant process which insures a great product.


The wines is fresh and racy, a perfect foible for a favorite holiday snack of buckwheat blini, smoked salmon and crème fraîche garnished with caviar.







2013 Matello Pinot Gris-Willamette Valley, OR


The history of Oregon Pinot Gris is fascinating. With some of Oregon’s original Pinot Gris vines sturdily anchored in its lush hillsides for more than 35 years – the longest of any in the New World – this wine growing region is now offering the world the opportunity to enjoy the fruit of its labor. Today, Oregon proudly lays claim to the oldest vines and vintages outside of Europe.


Marcus Goodfellow of Matello started production in 2002.  He sources his fruit from family-owned vineyards in the Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, and the Ribbon Ridge AVAs of the Willamette Valley.


His Pinot Gris always is named among the top. This style of Pinot Gris is both fresh and textured. Never more than a few hundred cases, this micro-production showcases the beautiful mineral nature of the shallow sedimentary soils of the Whistling Ridge and Bishop Creek Vineyards.


Bright, fresh, pear, lime blossom, hints of hazelnut, and a saline note.


Still snacking? It is great with a cheese and charcuterie board.  Moved to the first course? Great with everything from shellfish to turbot.


$19.00/BTL-$228.00/CASE OF 12




2013 Domaine des Terres Vivantes ” La Lutine” Beaujolais-Villages-Burgundy, France


The Beaujolais-Villages are a cluster of vineyards intertwined to the west, and directly south of  the ten crus of Beaujolais.


Terres Vivantes is located near the village of Charpenay, whose soils are informed by the silt and alluvial leavings of the melting of glaciers that formed what is now the Rhône Valley. This produces a fruity, light and fragrant version of Gamay, with fresh aromatics and  an underpinning of nervy acidity.


This is a perfect companion for an afternoon of baking or with your Roasted Chicken course.


Serve slightly chilled.


$25.00/BTL-$300.00/ CASE OF 12




2013 Field Recordings Tempranillo “Dead End Ranch” Paso Robles, CA


Once in a while, we step off our old world horses and get our hands dirty in the new world dirt. There are some cool, exciting things happening in California right now, beyond the pricey Napa Cabernet, especially down in the Central Coast.


The Dead End Ranch is another hit bottling from boutique producer Andrew Jones of Field Recordings. This is earthy, meaty, delicious stuff comprised mostly of Tempranillo with a touch of Petite Sirah, Graciano and Monastrell (aka Mourvédre) blended in.


We are recommending this wine because we know there might be an occasion, especially at the holidays, where you just need a drink! This is the kind of wine you can drink on its own, wrapping presents, say at 2 am on Christmas Day, or watching nervously for the UPS driver to come to your house with a certain set of important boxes at 4 pm Christmas Eve.


Don’t worry, Field recordings Tempranillo has your back!


$18.00/ BTL.-$216.00/CASE OF 12




2001 Domaine Rabasse-Charavin Côtes du Rhône Villages “Cuvée Pigée – Les Amandiers”


In our perfect world, any special Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve menu typically concludes on the savory side with the presentation of a perfectly executed duck, squab, or even dry-aged beef dish.  Very few wines are going to work better in their pairing than this special offering.


We can’t say enough good things about the wines of Corinne and her daughter Laure Couturier of Domaine Rabasse Charavin.  The word traditional is so often over used in our business, and its meaning has become so skewed, it almost seems wrong to call something so.  So, we will replace that word traditional, and instead proclaim the wines of Rabasse-Charavin as classic, in all the right ways!


The appellation of Cairanne, where Corinne and Laure produce their wine, is a treasure trove of incredible producers.  I know Southern Rhône enthusiasts seek out wines from places like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueryas, as they are storied and reputed names.  The wines of Rabasse-Charavin and some of those other producers of Cairanne make wines on the same level as those other appellations.  The only difference is, you pay less for this quality!


Corinne and Laure make an incredibly wide range of wines from various appellations and villages in the Southern Rhône.  One additional bonus of working with them, aside from the great quality, is that they often re-release older wines, such as this.


“Cuvée Pigée – Les Amandiers” is composed of 100% Grenache from 50 year-old vines that give a mere 30 hl/ha of yields.  It comes from a single plot in Violès, which is a mixture of gravel and clay/limestone soil.


The grapes are crushed by foot, 2 to 3 times a day over a 10-day period before being fermented and put to rest in concrete tanks.  It, along with all Rabasse-Charavin wines, is made with indigenous yeast and it is not fined or filtered.


We were lucky to be able to source a small amount of the 2001 vintage for this sampler.  It is a texturally rich, deep, dark and spicy red, with notes of chocolate-covered cherries, plum, black pepper, iron and mineral.  It will be the perfect compliment to those dishes mentioned in the introduction.


This is truly a great wine, and a flat out steal at this price point.






2012 Pandolfi Orsini “Rosilde” Vino & Visciole


Dessert wines have sadly started to go by the wayside.  As we all get busier and busier with our daily lives, it seems that conversation at the end of dinner over a nice glass of sweet wine has gone away.


Well if JT could bring Sexy back, we certainly can bring dessert wine back.


What better way to do it than with a bottle of Vino & Visciole!


When Craig came back from his trip to Italy this year, one wine he couldn’t stop talking about was this “Visciolata.” Sure he was excited about the new releases of 2010 Barolo from producers like Vietti and Scavino, but what he kept babbling about was this cherry wine from the Marche.


His Marche adventure was put together by his friend, Alberto Taddei of Selvagrossa in Pesaro.  He asked Alberto to put together an itinerary of small producers in the region that represented the best of the best of their obscure appellation.  In his visits, he got to taste for the first time a Visciolata, a sweet wine which he is now the foremost expert on in the City of Chicago!


An ancient variety of wild cherry called Prunus Cerasus are scattered throughout the Marche region.  Wine producers will often harvest the cherries in late summer and macerate them whole with sugar, creating a fermentation.  That fermented cherry juice is then typically mixed with red wine creating a Vino & Visciole a.k.a. Visciolata.


After tasting several examples of this, Craig has proclaimed Pandolfi Orsini the top producer of Visciolata in the Marche.  While in no way is Visciolata a serious wine, after delving into the topic, it became readily apparent that there is an art form to this, and the Orsini brothers, relying on their ancient family recipe have it down to a science.


Two family secrets that we reluctantly divulge, help us understand why theirs is different.  The Orsini’s typically leave the cherries slightly crushed and whole with the pits, which adds to the aromatic complexity.  Most importantly this Vino & Visciole is produced with white wine, not the typical red wine. Producing a balanced sweet wine always involves having balanced acidity.  This addition of white wine gives it such, and is a genius move in our estimation.


Now to the good part – enjoy this beautifully crafted Visciolata at the end of dinner on its own, with some cookies, alongside vanilla ice cream, or with your favorite intense chocolate dessert.


This is special stuff, and we are the only ones in the United States that carry it!


$17.00/ 500ml.



Posted in 6 for $120-Something, Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 12/12/14: 2012 Releases from Cameron Winery & Goodfellow Family Cellars

Hello and Happy Friday!

We hope your holiday preparations are going well. We have a lot of new wines in the store, and just want to remind you that any out of state shipping you want done in time for holiday arrival should be submitted to us no later than Monday, December 15th.
Local gifts can always be sent via courier or messenger weekdays up until Christmas Eve.

Have a great weekend,

Craig & Sheb



We are excited about today’s Friday Feature. These are the long anticipated 2012 releases from two very small, very exceptional wineries in Oregon’s famed Willamette Valley. Both are exclusive to our store (actually the entire state of Illinois) and we have them as a result of Craig’s personal friendships with these two winemakers: Marcus Goodfellow of Goodfellow Family Cellars (and Matello) and John Paul of Cameron Winery.


If you have missed any of the hype regarding the 2012 vintage in Oregon, click here or here. As with most great vintages, production levels were reduced as quality was elevated. We have very few of these wines and we expect that they will sell out quite quickly.


Now on to the feature.



Friday Feature: 2012 Offerings from Cameron Winery and Goodfellow Family Cellars.

Cameron Winery


In the new world, style is an important word to talk about, because while most producers in Oregon talk about the concept of terroir, their methods can erase their original intention.


John Paul, owner and winemaker of Cameron Winery is a farmer first.  And the Cameron ecosystem is the driving force. We offered these for the first time last year and they sold out almost immediately. This year, there is even less wine, and we expect that 2012 will go down in the history books as one of Oregon’s greatest vintages.


These wines are for you if:


1.Cool-climate Pinot Noir is your thing, whether that be from Burgundy, Oregon, or other magical locations around the world.


2.Light color doesn’t bother you.  These wines aren’t about color extraction, rather aromatics and elegance.


3.You yearn for the days of lower alcohol, realizing that a truly balanced wine often times doesn’t come in a 15% package.


4.You have patience.  Let’s just say none of these wines taste bad today – heck, we have popped open each and enjoyed them immensely.  But given due time, those who cellar will be greatly rewarded with incredibly aromatics and great complexity of flavors.


Pinot Noir fans – please do yourself a favor and buy these, you won’t be disappointed!



2012 Cameron “Arley’s Leap” Pinot Noir


This block of grapes is located right next to the 30 year-old vines that go into the Abbey Ridge designate. It was a favorite haunt of dear, old departed Arley, a beloved dog of the Cameron Winery.


This is the most accessible Pinot of the three offered on today’s newsletter.  This packs a lot of aroma and flavor – notes of bright cherry and flowers on the nose, lead into a mineral, earthy, red-fruit dominated palate.  It is really high-toned and refreshing. 2012 lent a bit more concentration than usual to this old dog’s napping grounds!






2012 Cameron “Clos Electrique” Rouge (Pinot Noir)


The estate vineyard consists of 10 different clones of Pinot noir on a mere 2 acres (less than 1 hectare) of land. The yields are always extremely small averaging between 0.5 and 1.5 tons per acre (that is less than 20 hl/ha).


This is one of the top two wines of Cameron, with Abbey Ridge being the other.  The site is a earlier ripening, warmer site compared with Abbey Ridge.


This is a really impressive vintage for Clos Electrique!  Of the three Pinots you can really feel a richer texture, yet without overripe notes.  This still has the trade mark high-toned red berry notes on the nose and palate, with a pepper note and herbs adding to the complexity.  This is going to be fun to taste its evolution.







2012 Cameron “Clos Electrique” Blanc (Chardonnay)


This is a rare sighting of a truly gorgeous Chardonnay. This unique vineyard in Dundee Hills was planted in 1987. The resulting wine is vibrant yet concentrated with long length an d complex flavors. Chardonnay lovers will freak out.


This is one of America’s greatest Chardonnays!






2012 Cameron “Abbey Ridge” Pinot Noir


Year after year Abbey Ridge produces some of the best Pinot noir in Oregon. It is not the richest or the ripest but it is clearly one of the most elegant sites in the state. Most vintages cast forth an initial fragrance of rose petals followed by lavender and rosemary


The aromatics on this are incredible, and beautiful even at this early stage.  Notes of wild strawberry, lavender and spice lead into a palate that has a good mineral core, with sour cherry, earth and spice flavors.  This really lingers on the palate, and has great balance.


This is truly exceptional Pinot Noir!






Goodfellow Family Cellars


Marcus Goodfellow’s first vintage was in 2002, under the Matello label. 2012 marks the debuts of his eponymous label, Goodfellow Family Cellars. Marcus has worked carefully over the years to build relationships with small farmers who share his particular philosophy; meticulously managed and well-exposed vineyards that are dry-farmed. . The Matello label remains for vineyard blended wines (and we have Matello Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the shop now, $24.99 & $18.99 respectively) and Goodfellow Cellars is a single vineyard designate label.


Marcus’ wine exhibit great restraint coupled with beautifully ripe fruit, and are a true pleasure to drink. We are featuring Pinot Noirs from Whistling Ridge Vineyard and Durant, as well as a rare appearance of Chardonnay, also from Whistling Ridge.


The wines have a little baby fat to shed, which is why they are great candidates for the cellar. However, once a little air gets to them, they do shed  their jammy outer skins quite quickly to reveal their deliciously true natures.


All three of these are insane values, really some of the best value single vineyard Pinot Noirs we’ve tasted!




2012 Goodfellow Family Cellars “Whistling Ridge” Pinot Noir


Sitting atop classic Willakenzie soils, Whistling Ridge vineyard sits atop the ridge line of the tiny AVA of Ribbon Ridge. The vines really struggle to obtain moisture and the yields are quite low here resulting in complex, concentrated wine.


$36.99/ BTL





2012 Goodfellow Family Cellars “Whistling Ridge” Chardonnay


This is simply stunning. Clean, clear and brimming with apples (of all hues and flavors, golden to granny smith), brioche, asian pear and minerality. A mere 80 cases of this were produced.


$36.99/ BTL





2012 Goodfellow Family Cellars “Durant Vineyard” Pinot Noir


It took 4 years for Marcus to convince the Durant family to sell him fruit, finally in 2010 they offered him two blocks, plus a little bit of fruit from their oldest plot, planted in 1973. This vineyard is located in Dundee Hills AVA, and is composed of Jory volcanic soils.


Durant Vineyard wines are firmly structured and suitable for long-term aging. Those of you with impulse control issues do not fret; even in their infancies these wines are delectable.




Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 12/05/14: Gifts For Wine Lovers

Hello and Happy Friday!
This Friday Feature is all about gift giving.
There is something for everyone on this newsletter: amazing glassware from producers like  Zalto and Spiegelau, the world’s best corkscrew for opening older bottles of wine, rare bottles of wine for the collector that has everything, and even a couple items for the home cook and those that love to eat.
Keep in mind, many of these items are limited, and we will do our best to fill these orders promptly.
We look forward to helping you with all of your holiday wine needs!
Happy Holidays,
Craig & Sheb

Friday Feature: Gifts For Wine Lovers
I couldn’t be more excited to announce the news that Perman Wines is the first retailer of Zalto in the State of Illinois.  What is Zalto?
In our opinion, Zalto wine glasses are the world’s best, handmade, crystal wine glassware.
We’ve had an opportunity both here in Chicago, and also in traveling around the world to use these glasses and taste some of the world’s finest wines out of them.  Let us say, they make a huge impact on the enjoyment and appreciation of fine wine. They are also pretty sexy looking too!
Founded in 2006 in Neunagelberg, Austria, the Zalto family has been producing hand blown crystal glassware for many generations.  They developed the Denk’Art glasses with the inspiration of Hans Denk, an authoritative figure in the study of tasting wines. Not only are these beautifully made, their is a unique philosophy of Zalto, best explained by them:
“The development of the  Denk`Art series was as influenced by the earth as by the universe beyond. The curve of the bowls are tilted at the angles of 24°, 48° and 72°, which are in accordance to the tilt angles of the Earth. The ancient Romans utilized this triumvirate of angles with their supply repositories, finding that produce stayed fresh for a longer time, and that it also showed improved taste. Due to these cosmic parallels, we believe that a wine can reach its utmost potential in a Denk`Art glass, developing everything that is possible in the nose as well as on palate, due to these cosmic parallels.”
All of this may be a lot to take in for most people, us included, but the reality is, we have been made believers.  We have found no other glass that both coaxes out the pure aromas of a wine, coupled with the perfect delivery of the wine on your palate, like these do.  They are simply incredible.
Zalto uses the finest materials for these glasses, they do not add lead oxide, and they are incredibly resistant against clouding.
They are dishwasher safe, although you will want to make sure that you have the right type of dishwasher to accommodate their size.  Personally, when we use them we simply wash them by hand, let them air dry for a few minutes, and wipe with lint-free towel.  All glassware breaks if you are not careful, and Zalto is no exception.  So keep them away from the clumsy people.
If you truly love wine, and spend money on the best of the best wines, these are an absolute must. Each stem comes individually boxed.
Zalto White Wine Glass $57.95/EACH
Zalto Champagne Glass $59.95/ EACH
Zalto Burgundy Glass $63.95/ EACH
Zalto Bordeaux Glass $61.95/ EACH





Spiegelau is a historic glass company, with first mention of it going back to 1521.  Since the 1920’s they have been known for stemware.  Their reputation was so well thought of, that in 2004 they were purchased by Riedel, another famed glassware company.  If you can’t beat them, join them?


We have been long time proponents of these glasses, having used them at various restaurants in which we have worked, as well as currently using them in for our wine tasting events at the store.


The following glassware comes from their Vino Grande line.  They are machine made, but have beautiful elegance and great durability.  They are dishwasher safe, but you will want to use a mild detergent, and choose a cool, short dishwashing cycle.  When you polish them, just like the Zaltos, care should be exercised.


At their price point, they truly are a phenomenal value, and are great everyday glasses.
Spiegelau Crystal Stems
Burgundy, Bordeaux or All-Purpose 
$72.00/BOX OF 6



The Durand


If you collect wine, they you know the frustrating experience of trying to open up an older bottle, only to have the cork disintegrate while doing so.  Nothing like a little “sawdust” in your ultra-precious wine that you have been keeping for a decade!


We have some good news, there is no better corkscrew in the world for opening bottles that could have a brittle cork like The Durand!


It is a combination Ah-So and Corkscrew, developed by a collector specifically to address the crumbling cork problem.  To see it in action, go to their website.


Collectors, you need one of these!


$125.00 EACH



2013 Pepita Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva
We absolutely love olive oil at Perman Wine, and one of the great things about our travels to Europe is often times we will encounter a great wine producer who also happens to make exceptional olive oil.
Such is the case with this olive oil from a small producer in the Marche region called Vini Mida.
From both an olive oil and wine perspective the Marche region is Italy’s greatest kept secret when it comes to high quality production of both.
Craig was simply blown away with this olive oil from Roberto Corradetti.  His organic farm is located on the outskirts of the village of Castorano in the sub-region of Ascoli Piceno.
Roberto blends two types of olives, Frantoio and Leccino, and the olives are collected by hand and brought to press within 12 hours of picking.
The color of this olive oil is extraordinary, incredibly green.  The aromas amazing, with hints of olive leaf, artichoke, butter, dried herbs, and spice.  This just glides across your palate, offering good fruit, a creamy texture and a long drawn out finish with a hint of pepper at the end.
This would be a phenomenal gift or stocking stuffer for the home cook.  Only 60 bottles imported into the United States – all by little ol’ us.
$24.99/ 500 ml Bottle
Only 60 bottles available.
Mama’s Nuts
Our friend Adrienne Lo of Fat Rice fame leads a double life!
Aside from her restaurant life she also owns and operates Mama’s Nuts!  From an incredible array of Peanut Brittles to both sweet and savory spiced nuts, these are always a treat.
They are handmade here in Chicago, as Adrienne and team are hard at work on their off day producing these.
If you want to say a little thank you to all of your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors, nothing says thank you better than these fantastic brittles and nuts!
Due to the small size of the operation, we will work to get you your desired order.
Mama thanks you!
Almond Peanut Brittle $8.00
Chocolate Almond Peanut Brittle $12.00
Cashew Brittle $8.00
Pecan Peanut Brittle $8.00
Smoked Paprika Almonds $9.00
Gingersnap Almonds $9.00
Brittles in 4 ounce bags, Nuts in 6 ounce bags.
Polar Vortex Mixed Case
In a recent online Food & Wine article, yours truly, Craig Perman recommended the perfect case of wine to get you through the impending Polar Vortex!
We thought, what a great gift idea!  A case of wine, hand chosen, and accompanied by a copy of the article
What is in the Polar Vortex Mixed Case? Find out by clicking this link.
Come get your #OneCaseWonder wonder today as a gift to your favorite someone, or even yourself.
Only 3 Available.
Rare Wines:
Here is a short list of some of the stuff we have been squirreling away all year.
2007 Pierre Peters Champagne “Les Chétillons” ($123.99/btl) – one of the world’s best Chardonnay based Champagnes from a single vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
2007 Agrapart & Fils Champagne “Vénus” ($184.99 btl) – the other of the world’s best Chardonnay based Champagnes from a single vineyard in Avize
2009 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne “Orizeaux” ($86.99 btl) – A 100% Pinot Noir based Champagne, a Craig Perman personal favorite
2012 Vatan Sancerre “Clos La Néore” ($78.99 btl) – The World’s greatest Sauvignon Blanc?  We think it is in the mix.
Mixed three pack of François Raveneau Chablis “Les Clos” ($1575 per pack) – includes one bottle each of 2009, 2010, 2011  – only one available – We don’t need to say anything
2005 Puffeney Arbois Vin Jaune ($83.99 btl) – for the Jura-head that has everything
2010 Domaine du Pegau “Cuvée de Capo” Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($475 btl) – It is only $4.75 per point, 100 Points from Wine Advocate, jokes aside, pretty amazing stuff
2012 Clos St Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape “La Combe des Fous” ($119.99 btl) – Grenache, Syrah and others, both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator 96 points.
2012 Clos St Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Deus-Ex Machina” ($159.99 btl.) – Grenache and Mourvèdre, a big boy, 98 points from Wine Advocate
2012 Clos St Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Sanctus Sanctorum” en Magnum ($699.99 magnum) – the rarest of the rare, all Grenache, only 200 magnums produced, 99 points Wine Advocate, big time collector wine
2009 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino ($74.99 btl) – Brunello is a great gift at the holidays, and this favorite of ours is always on point, 92+ points from Wine Advocate
2009 Cappellano Barolo “Piè Franco” ($141.99 btl)  – Mind altering Barolo, all from the Gabutti vineyard in Serralunga, and for all those vintage chasers, the 2009 is as good as the upcoming 2010
2010 Passopiciaro “Contrada Chiappemacino” Etna Rosso ($59.99 btl) – Everyone needs Nerello Mascalese in their life.  This is one you can drink now, although it will continue to age.  94 Points from Wine Advocate
2010 Dominus Proprietary Red ($249.99 btl) – 100 Points Wine Advocate, and well worth it
2011 Favia “La Magdalena” Red Wine ($151.99 btl) – equal parts Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, beautiful, highly rated stuff
2011 Favia Cabernet Sauvignon ($151.99 btl) – when you just need a Cabernet as a gift, you can’t do much better than this
Spanish Reds
2001 Viña Sastre Ribera del Duero “Pago de Santa Cruz” ($113.99 btl) – the master, Jesus Sastre, we got this re-release directly from the winery, incredible stuff!
2009 Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo “Moncerbal” ($89.99 btl) – 93 from International Wine Cellar, really elegant
2009 Descendientes de J. Palacios Bierzo “Las Lamas” ($89.99 btl) – 94 from International Wine Cellar, amazing balance
Portugal – Red Wines
2011 Quinta da Pellada Dão ($68.99 btl) – the icon of the Dão region in Portugal, really elegant, but full of flavor, fans of the best of Burgundy and Barolo will love this!
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Curriculum Vitae” Douro ($99.99 btl) – one of the great estates of the Douro, 85+ year-old vine field blend, remarkably this drinks well now with decantation
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha da Francisca” ($99.99 btl)- very special parcel on the property, the most elegant of the three offerings
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria “Vinha do Rio” ($139.99 btl) – a powerhouse, a recent tasting of this showed greatness, but needs cellar time, just 1900 bottles produced
2008 Gravato “Tinto Garrafeira – Touriga Nacional,” Beira Interior ($31.99 btl) – the best of the best from our friend Luis.  This will age for a while, but you can drink now, showing rich fruit, mineral and spice.
2008 Casa de Saima Baga “Garrafeira” Bairrada ($39.99 btl) – this is for the cellar, a monumental wine from Bairrada.  Had the last release, 2001 in Portugal, and it was still a brick.  Fans of Barolo, if you don’t start cellaring wines from Bairrada and from the Baga grape, you are missing out.
Portugal- Ports & Dessert Wine
2011 Dow’s Vintage Port ($84.99 btl) – this year’s Wine Spectator #1 wine
2011 Quinta Vale D. Maria Vintage Port ($59.99 btl) – another spectacular 2011 vintage Port from the Van Zeller family
2011 Quinta do Vesuvio “Capela” Vintage Port ($129.99 btl) – one of the rarest, single vineyard Ports from the legendary 2011 vintage, just 200 cases made, all individually numbered.  Spectacular.
2011 Quinta do Ameal “Special Harvest ($59.99 btl – 375 ml bottle) – one of the greatest dessert wines I’ve tasted in many, many years.  Passito style, 100% Loureiro from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.  Wow! Sauternes fans take note.
Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 11/29/14: The New 6 for $70-Something Sampler, Holiday Edition.

Hello and Happy Friday!
To most of the commercial world this is known as Black Friday.  Here at Perman Wine Selections we call it Alcohol Friday.  We hope you had a wonderful Turkey Day yesterday, and know that many of you may have seriously depleted your stocks.
Good news – we have more wine for you – time to replenish!
Besides your own consumption, today marks the first day that most of us start thinking of gifts for the holidays.  We remind you that nothing makes a better gift than booze!
With the way the calendar falls this year, if you plan to ship wine gifts to friends or customers, please note that we only have three full calendar weeks before Christmas.  While many of us wait till the last minute to take care of gifts, when shipping wine, temperature can be a factor.  Every year we have a week or two where it is too cold to ship.  So we urge you to get in your orders as soon as possible, so we can get them there safely.
We also should point out that we can’t ship to every state, each has its own rules and regulations regarding wine shipments.  Please feel free to reach out to us to see if the state you want to ship to allows wine & spirit shipments.
In other news, we are excited to announce the newest version of your 6 for $70-Something sampler!

The 6 for $70-Something is Chicago (and the planet’s) best monthly value wine sampler!


This month’s sampler is our post-Thanksgiving Edition and frighteningly enough, our last sampler of 2014! We think the value on this particular sampler is very high, so in a way it is our “Black Friday” sampler. Except no trampling people for a flat screen or coffee machine. You can expect to walk into the store unmolested and calmly buy your wine.


If interested, simply stop by the store, or send us an email and we can coordinate delivery or shipping.


Craig & Sheb




6 for $70-Something Sampler

2013 Vendrell-Rived “Miloca” Garnatxa- Montsant, Spain
One of the things that makes the 6 for $70-Something so interesting is the opportunity to learn about grape varietals and their terroir.
When I heard that Josep was starting to make the Miloca wines I jumped at the chance to order them.
Vendrell-Rived is a producer that some of you are familiar with at this point, as we have been steadfast supporters for many years.  His wines Sère and L’Alleu from the appellation of Montsant in Spain, are blends of Garnatxa (Grenache) and Samsó (Carignan).  These are grapes that are typically blended together in Montsant and the neighboring appellation of Priorat.
In 2013 Josep decided to create a label called Miloca, and from it he makes single varietal examples of Garnatxa and Samsó.  So here is a great educational experience – same producer, same vintage – a way to taste and see what these varieties are all about in their pure form.
Grenache is one of the world’s most important red grape varieties.  Its origins are still being debated, with one camp claiming it to be the province of Aragón in Spain and others the island of Sardegna, where it is called Cannonau.  We will save this debate for a late night at a bar and instead tell you about its characteristics.
Grenache needs warmth.  It tends to bud early, but then needs a long season to fully ripen.  It has a natural tendency to be very productive, although it is usually at its best when the yields are kept in check.  As a warm climate variety, its acid levels tend to be moderate, therefore it needs specific types of soils. Gravel, sand or stony soils, as sometimes found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape can benefit Grenache, or in this case, limestone and clay, which help give an added lift.
The “Miloca” Garnatxa is really a textbook example of the variety.  On the nose you get that suggestion of overripe red berries along with black pepper and a hint of nutmeg.  Texturally this is incredibly silky, with medium weight and a long, elegant finish.
This is A LOT of wine for the money.  A seriously amazing value.  A good match for duck confit.
2013 Vendrell-Rived “Miloca” Samsó- Montsant, Spain
Samsó, which is also known as Mazuelo in Spain, and Cariñena / Carignan in other parts of the world, is said to have also originated in the Aragón region of Spain.
Truth be told, growing Samsó is kind of a pain in the you-know-where.  It is highly productive, so the vines need to be old, or yields have to be methodically restricted for it to attain quality.  It is late ripening, so it, like Garnatxa, needs a warm climate.  It’s berries are what is known as “vine-huggers”, clinging to the vine, making it essential to hand harvest.
The Miloca Samsó is grown on granitic soil.  It is an amazingly pure expression of the variety.  I love the aromatics on this wine.  It shows notes of red currant, cranberry, mineral, hay and subtle baking spices.  Delicate on the palate, it offers more brightness than the Garnatxa, and has great length for a wine at this price point.  Get your “tagine on,” and pair this with a chicken tagine made with apricots, figs and olives.

2011 Herència Altés Garnatxa Blanca “Benufet”-Terra Alta, Spain
This is a very unusual wine. Made from 100% Garnatxa Blanca (Grenache Blanc), it defies what one would expect from this variety.


Grenache Blanc tends to make soft, somewhat billowy white wines when it is not blended with other grapes. It it used in the making of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and all the white wines you would find in the Côtes du Rhône and its surrounding villages.


When we tasted the Benufet, we were surprised by the lively, vibrant nature of the wine and also its intensely fresh structure. We happened to be tasting with Ramon Parera, a Catalan winemaker (at Celler Pardas) who was visiting us and he too was surprised and impressed by the wine.


One of the keys to the unique quality of this bottling may be the age of the vines. They are all centurion vines, over 100 years old. Yields naturally lessen as vines age and the fruit produced by these older vines is more concentrated with a greater skin to juice ratio. All the fruit is hand harvested, and kept at very cool temperatures.


We also need now, to talk about wind. Yes, wind. There are two important winds at play in the vineyard: one called Cerç that is cool and helps the grapes retain acidity, and one called “Garbí” which is a mild sea breeze that promotes proper ripening.


Now that we are experts in the subject of Catalan wind systems, we can unwind with a delicious glass of this wonderful white!


$12.00/BTL.-$144.00/CASE OF 12




2013 Pandolfi Orsini “Fanelli”- Marche Bianco, Italy
One of the highlights of the year was my trip to the Marche region of Italy.  I asked my friend Alberto Taddei of Selvagrossa winery to help put together an itinerary of top producers from the region, that also happened to be so small that they would rarely be seen outside of Italy.
I scored big time when I visited with Andrea Orsini of Pandolfi Orsini, in the very tiny region of Pergola.  Pergola is located around 30 kilometers inland from the Adriatic coast in the Cesano Valley, and part of the province of Pesaro and Urbino.  It is the most recent region to be given D.O.C. status by the government.
Pandolfi Orsini was founded in 1894, and today brothers Andrea and Luca are the six generation in charge of the estate.  They make 5 wines in total, including “Fanelli” their only white wine made, from the local indigenous grape variety, Biancame.  Since Pandolfi Orsini lies just outside of the boundaries for the appellation Bianchello del Metauro, they label this white Marche Bianco.
Like all the wines of the Pandolfi Orsini, this is an incredibly aromatic, floral wine.  The fruit flavors lean more towards apricot, and combined with the floral aspect, it reminds us in a way of Viognier, although with a lighter palate feel and more freshness.
Typically wines with this mouthfeel and complexity cost way more, making this a superb value.  Pair it alongside pan seared salmon.

2010 Château Puy Servain Bergerac-Southwest, France


Just to the east of Bordeaux lies that rather large wine zone of Bergerac, straddling the north and south banks of the Dordogne River. Bergerac announces a departure from that buzzing commercial epicenter to the more bucolic and rustic villages of the Southwest.


While Bordeaux can boast of aristocratic stateliness, Bergerac is ground zero for the gastronomically inclined, a rural landscape teeming with black truffles, foie gras, walnuts and a host of other rich and delicious delicacies. Bergerac wines share a similar encepagement (the French word for blend) to Bordeaux, in this case, 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon & 20% Cabernet Franc.


This particular Bergerac Rouge boasts supple, plummy fruit and a nice, mineral core. It drinks like a much more expensive bottle, so feel free to load up on a case or more. As a bonus, it is packed in wood, so case purchases come in a fancy (and heavy) wood box.


$12.00/BTL.-$144.00/CASE OF 12



2007 Fattoria Cabanon Bonarda “Boisée”-Lombardia, Italy


This is one of our all-time favorite reds of Lombardia, made by Fattoria Cabanon, a winery founded in the early 1900’s and brought to prominence by Giovanni Mercandelli.  His daughter Elena began as the winemaker in her early teens, not only was she one of the first female Italian winemakers, but also one of the youngest.


The “Boisée” is made from 85% Bonarda (which is locally referred to as Croatina) and 15% Uva Rara.  These are late harvested grapes, low-yielding, fermented in oak with natural yeasts.


It yields an exotic, rich, and silky red with many aromas and flavors that will remind many of Barbera.  We sometimes call this “Twizzler wine”, as the aromas and flavors evoke red licorice like no other. At this point in its life it also has a vast array of tertiary aromas and flavors going on. We can think of no other wine at this price point that offers this kind of complexity and nuance (although it is normally a $20+ wine).





Posted in 6 for $70-Something, Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Friday Feature 11/21/14: The New 6 for $120-Something Sampler, Holiday Edition

Hello and Happy Friday! 

Less than a week before Thanksgiving and we are all stocked up for great wines to make your Turkey dinner a huge success!


This month’s 6 for $120-Something sampler offers some great pairings, but as we thought about it, we wanted to mention a couple other offerings in the white and red department that are going to be well suited to your holiday meal.


2013 Thurston Wolfe Pinot Gris / Viognier ($18.99 BTL.) – An unusual Washington State blend of 69% Pinot Gris and 31% Viognier.  Floral and citrus aromatics combine with a silky, rich texture.


2013 Merkelbach Riesling Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese ($23.99 BTL.) – Off-dry Riesling is one of the world’s greatest wines. We never miss an opportunity to share with you one of our favorite producers in Germany.  Great with the huge diversity of dishes at the Thanksgiving tasting.


2011 Pandolfi Orsini “Il Peggiore” Barbera ($39.99 per Magnum) – Yes, possibly the coolest find from Craig’s trip to Italy this year, and it’s in Magnums!  Perfect for Thanksgiving, juicy, rich Barbera from the Marche!


2012 Matello Pinot Noir “Lazarus” ($24.99 BTL. – Available this coming Monday 11/24) – Seriously good Oregon Pinot from great vineyard sites such as Whistling Ridge, Durant and Bishop Creek.  This is a steal, especially since it is from the great 2012 vintage.


Please let us know whatever we can do to try and make your Thanksgiving a success!


We will keep normal business hours this week, except for Thanksgiving day when we are closed.



Craig & Sheb


6 for $120-Something

2013 Celler Pardas “Rupestris”- Penedès, Spain


This last week we spent an awful lot of time trying to convince Ramon Parera, of Celler Pardas, that Chicago was not a barren tundra of inhospitable cold. We also drank a lot of Champagne and tasted (multiple times) through the range of his great wines.


Ramon was here to change the conversation about Penedès.  Some of you joined us for a tasting of his wines last Saturday and this was a great cultural exchange. His most important message? There exists a great potential for still wines, and for high quality bottlings in a region that is frankly known for a largely commercial pursuit of inexpensive sparkling wine.


The Rupestris is a great wine to begin to understand the work they are doing at Celler Pardas. Xarel.lo is the noble white  rape for Ramon, and in his eyes, capable of making world class wine.


Rupestris blends Xarel.lo with a local grape called Malvasia de Sitges and a little Macabeu. Xarel.lo reminds of Chardonnay in weight and texture, but also allows the great minerality of Pardas’ particular area to shine through. This is a clean, delicious wine, aged in tank and imbued with dry peach, apple and pear fruit.We thought it was a great (and affordable) choice for your upcoming Holiday dinners, as well as something delicious to bring to parties.


$15.00/BTL.-$90.00/CASE OF 6




2013 Domaine La Madura “Classic” Blanc- Vin de Pays d’Oc, France


The story of Domaine La Madura has been well documented in these newsletters, even recently.  So I won’t repeat details on the producer, rather give you a passionate plea of why this is year in and year out one of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs from France.


For a long time, I’ve been as guilty as anyone in saying that Sauvignon doesn’t differ a lot in style.  Yet, I’ve come full circle, as my understanding of wine grows.  Sauvignon Blanc can offer a detailed report of its terroir, and producers such as La Madura, make a wine that is both true to the varietal, and also highly nuanced.


The 2013 La Madura “Classic” Blanc is a very elegant, pure style of Sauvignon.  It shows fruit, both typical citrus, but also pear.  It has weight, as one would expect from a Mediterranean climate such as Saint-Chinian.  It also has an underlying minerality that will come out as it ages.


The only problem is that most likely you won’t allow it to age, because it is so good now, it will be hard to keep your hands off it!


This is a great bottle to drink on its own, but if pairing with food, please pair with very simple prepared shellfish or even goat cheese.


I don’t think there are many Sauvignon Blancs we’ve tasted this year, that are under $20, that are as good.  Grab some while it is still around!






2011 Casa de Saima Bairrada Tinto Grande Reserva-Bairrada, Portugal


When I tell people that Baga is one of my favorite varietals in the world, a blank, sometimes “crazy” stare is usually steered in my direction.  Baga is one of Portugal’s most important grape varieties, a speciality to the coastal Bairrada region.


Almost extinct, a group of diligent producers have tirelessly began to reclaim older vineyards and promote the variety, despite a lack of local interest in it.


Recently we promoted the Casa de Saima “Colheita” Tinto, which is predominately Baga, although a much softer style than we offer today.


The Saima Grande Reserva Tinto is the truly traditional, uncompromising style of the varietal.  Produced from old-vines Baga, it is foot trodden and fermented in stone lagares (open top cement tanks), then aged in old large oak vats.


There are many people, including us, to whom Baga reminds of young Nebbiolo.  The nose is brooding, with lots of licorice, dark berry and earthy aromas.  On the palate, this is full-bodied with good tannic structure, and a long fresh finish.


Decant this when you open it, and pair with braised short ribs or a grilled dry-aged steak.






2011 Vendrell Rived “L’Alleu” Vinyes Velles-Montsant, Spain


What inspires us, and truly drives Sheb and I as wine people, is representing producers who are real, honest and passionate.  Of course it is great when you visit a beautiful winery, great architecture, fancy surroundings.  It just doesn’t give me the same feeling, and great pleasure as it does when I walk into a winery such as Celler Vendrell Rived.


I met Josep M. Vendrell because of my friend Albert, the dynamic winemaker of Acústic Celler.  The very first vintages of Acústic were producer at Josep’s small winery near the village of Marçà, in the Montsant region of Catalunya, Spain.


The Vendrell family had long produced grapes, selling them to producers in Catalunya.  They still do sell grapes today, but some of their finest plots are kept for their own wines, under names like Seré, Miloca, and the flagship bottling and feature today, L’Alleu.  The wine production started in 2000, actually before the creation of the Montsant D.O.  It was simply a wine of Tarragona then.  Now with the explosion of interest in appellations like Priorat, and the surrounding Montsant, there is more notoriety to the region.


As I alluded to earlier, there is absolutely nothing fancy about this small winery of Josep.  They produce around 20,000 bottles per year, in this gravity fed winery, with small stainless steel tanks, presses and other equipment on the upper level, and the barrel room and bottles on the lower level.


What is most important though are the great vineyards that are used to make these great wines.  The vineyards are split between three different locations, all featuring the Garnatxa and Samsó (otherwise known as Grenache & Carignan) varieties.


L’Alleu is a blend of 60% Garnatxa and 40% Samsó from vines between 40-80 years of age.  The naturally low yielding fruit, gives incredible complex and balanced grapes.


There is a gentle hand in the vinification process, and the hallmark of these wines is a balance between rich, ripe fruit, subtle use of oak, and good overall balance and freshness.


This wine consistently over performs for the price, it is one of the great values of the Montsant appellation.  There are plenty of wines from that appellation that are two, three, four times the price that aren’t as good.


Grilled leg of lamb is a good match or a cast iron-seared hanger steak would also do the trick.



Don’t miss this one Rhône varietal fans!


$22.00 BTL. / $264.00 CASE of 12 





2013 Giovanni Rosso Barbera D’Alba “Donna Margherita” -Piemonte, Italy


When we were preparing for our Piemonte tasting a few weeks ago, we opened this wine to taste and both had a “wow” moment. We taste a lot of Barberas, some very good, some just ok. This one was more than very good, exhibiting great texture and finesse.


Rosso is a well-established family winery located in the commune of Serralunga D’Alba. They are famous for their Barolos, but also make this dynamic Barbera from vineyards in Damiano, Costa Bella and Cerretta, as well as Valle del Mondo in the commune of Roddino. The vines range in age from 55 to 8 years.


We feel confident in saying that this is one of the best tasting Barberas on the market and can happily report that is comes in at a very attractive price. Soft tannins, and fresh, dried and baked cherries, with a nice velvety mouthfeel that is immensely satisfying. We are sure you will love this as much as we did.


$20.00/BTL.-$240.00/CASE OF 12



2013 Lapierre Morgon-Beaujolais, France


Cru Beaujolais may  still be the single last great deal coming out of Burgundy. However, if you are a lover of cool climate Pinot Noir, and have not yet inured yourselves to the charms of Gamay, we may be unable to help you at this point.


The late Marcel Lapierre was one of the people responsible for making sure Beaujolais’ quality and terroir were not buried by the avalanche of commercial bottles (most with flowers on the labels) that clogged the category in the 1980s and 1990s. His son Mathieu now continues the charge.


Morgon is one of 10 recognized crus in the region. The soils here are composed of schist and granite, and the cru itself sees a spike in altitude. These factors contribute to the unique qualities of well-made Morgon.


As a result, the Gamay grown here produces a more structured version of Beaujolais, and offers the drinker complexity and nuance, nary a banana-eque aroma to be found. And it is really an ideal wine for that day when we all eat more Turkey meat than should be allowed. This wine can be sipped during the cooking, dinner and on the couch afterwards, as it will neither maim you with alcoholic gravity or syrupy fruit.


$28.00/BTL-$336.00/CASE OF 12




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Friday Feature 11/14/14: The Wines Of Norman Hardie

Hello and Happy Friday!

Do you like White Burgundy?  How about Red Burgundy?
Then you must and we mean must, buy as much of the two wines on today’s newsletter as you can!
This is one of the most important newsletters that we’ve written all year, so please read on because the wines of Norman Hardie have arrived!
Oh yeah, and by the way, these aren’t from Burgundy they are from Southern Ontario, Canada.
In other news, I’m super pumped up because winemaker Ramon Parera from Celler Pardas arrives in Chicagotomorrow!
We still have space available for this Sunday’s dinner at Fat Rice.
Chef Abraham Conlon has put together a truly world class menu for the event.  While I’m not a Michelin inspector, I would say this is going to be 3 Star dining all the way!
Hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend,

Craig & Sheb

Friday Feature: The Wines of Norman Hardie.
Norman Hardie Winery – Prince Edward County: “The Other Great Terroir”!
The wines of Norman Hardie rank as one of my greatest wine discoveries in my 18+ years in the business.
One of my best friends is from Montreal.  Years ago he introduced me to the fantastic city, and with it came friendships with some of its best sommeliers and restaurateurs.  When I travel there, I’m often given wines to try in a “blind tasting.”  Montreal is a huge consumer of French wine, and incredible amounts of Burgundy.  It is a natural guess to call many of these beautifully elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, Burgundy (at least that is what my nose and mouth are telling me).   Imagine my surprise when they turn out to be a wine from Prince Edward County in Southern Ontario!
That is right – there is something very special going on in Prince Edward County, Ontario and Norman Hardie Winery is producing some of the most exciting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the world from his estate!
In fact if you talk to Norm (and I have), he will tell you that outside of Burgundy, there is no other place in the world that he would rather make his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Outside of France, there are very few wine growing regions in the world that have the fractured limestone soil that Prince Edward County (P.E.C) has.  It is a mixture of young limestone and clay, with a very high active calcium content.  These are the type of soils that you will sometimes find in Chablis, parts of the Côte d’Or, and parts of the Loire Valley.
Norman spent years searching all over the world before deciding on P.E.C.
So much work has to go into vineyard management at Norman Hardie Winery.  It is not uncommon for winter temperatures to reach -25 degrees Celsius.  These type of extreme temperatures will kill the vines.  Norman and his dedicated crew actually have to bury part of their vines in winter to prevent this frost damage.  With between 150,000 – 200,000 canes in the vineyards, this is an incredible amount of work.
Yet all of this work results in incredible fruit.  Norman is able to get physiological ripeness, yet with lower sugars and thus lower alcohol.
In the winery, his crew practices Old World traditions.  Only indigenous yeasts from the vineyards are used for fermentation.  There is no malolactic fermentation till the Spring, and they sit sulfur free on the lees, which in Norman’s words really allow the wines to “blossom.”
I know a lot of people will read this newsletter and think that we are offering a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Canada more as curiosity.  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  These are world class wines, that I personally love to drink, and would say are in my top 5 favorite North American wines.
They are not for you if you like a more overripe style of Pinot and Chard, but if you find yourself as a fan of cool climate Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, then these are definitely for you!
These are limited, so don’t miss them!
2012 Norman Hardie County Chardonnay- Prince Edward County, Canada
One night when I was dining at Nora Gray in Montreal, proprietor and sommelier, Ryan Gray opened a bottle of Norman Hardie’s  County Chardonnay alongside a Antoine Jobard Meursault “Genevrières.”  Both were fantastic wines, with aromas that were nearly identical.
It is really amazing when one finds a Chardonnay that balances intensity and richness with freshness and length.  That has to do with the unique climatic qualities of Prince Edward County and the fact that the region achieves physiological ripeness with relatively low sugars.
2012 is a fabulous vintage for this wine.  Weighing in at 12.5% alcohol it offers bright citrus fruit and mineral on the nose alongside a rich textural element.  This will age nicely through 2017+.
This is a great food wine, and in its youth I would  pair with simply prepared seafood. Seared scallops would be a good match.
$34.99 BTL. / $419.88 CASE 
2012 Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir- Prince Edward County, Canada
We are lucky to be able to get this in Chicago, as it is sold out at the winery, and virtually sold out in Canada.  I had a chance to taste this earlier in the year when I was in Montreal, and it is the style of Pinot that I could drink on a daily basis.
Very red fruit in style, with cranberry / cherry fruit on the nose and palate. Silky and fresh, with a continuation of these red fruits and lots of underlying minerality.  Delicious now, it will be great to taste this through the years.  Drink now through 2019+.
Don’t miss this!
$34.99 BTL. / $419.88 CASE
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