Friday feature 07/18/14: The New 6 For $120-Something Sampler

Hello and Happy Friday!


Wayward Craig returns from Portugal next Tuesday, so we are back in business on Mondays. Sorry about the thirsty hoards that went unquenched during his travels. Come back thirsty hoards! We missed you.




In other news, it is that time again, the second to last Friday of the month, when we introduce our latest Six for $120-Something Sampler.


This month’s box contains a smattering of old-world delights including a find from Burgundy, a much coveted rosé from the Loire Valley, an exceptional value from Ribera del Duero, and other tasty treats.


Keep in mind that while a few of this month’s selections are a bit limited in quantity, you are welcome to choose some of the wine à la carte, but who are you kidding, just do the whole sampler, you can drink it this month if you really try! We know you can do it.


So what are you waiting for, come on down today to pick yours up!




Craig & Sheb


6 for $120-Something 


2012  Guy Amiot et Fils Bourgogne Aligoté- Burgundy, France

Remember that ad from 1987, “Pork: The Other White Meat”? This was a 7 million dollar campaign that worked, eventually helping to raise pork sales by 20% (that fact that bacon was included in this did not hurt).

Aligoté might benefit from such P.R. “Aligoté: The Other White Grape” has a nice ring to it. Do you think we can get the Burgundians to fork over 7 million dollars to start a campaign? Probably not.

Aligoté is a sibling grape to Chardonnay, but always produces a lighter wine with racier acidity. Much of today’s Aligoté is pretty forgettable and often used in the classic Burgundian cocktail called Kir, where it is mixed with a heavy pour of Cassis. It grows throughout Burgundy and wines made from this grape are labeled Bourgogne Aligoté, except for the village of Bouzeron in the Côte Chalonnaise, which requires 100% Aligoté in its encepagement.

In my travels to Burgundy, however, I have learned that there still exist some small vineyard plots of very old Aligoté, and these plots make some very good wines to which it would be a shame to add any cassis. The older Aligoté vines make a much more concentrated wine, while still maintaining some of that zippy acidity. Back in March, while tasting at Amiot et Fils, I was really drawn to their bottling, which I had not seen in Chicago. Fabrice Amiot explained that their Aligoté was from 70-80 years old vines, nestled beside the prized Chardonnay planted in the village fields of Chassagne-Montrachet.

The wine offers some of the same sharp mineral one often gets from a nice Chassagne, but a bit less weight. And it is ready to go right now, drinking beautifully, as I tested one the other night hoping my palate was not caught up in the la la splendor that is Burgundy. I had asked  Fabrice to throw 3 cases on the next Chicago container, and now upon tasting wish I had asked for five or ten.

$27.00/ BTL.





2013 Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosê-Loire Valley, France

It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, this producer was virtually unknown, as they have quickly risen to great acclaim and a cult following. The Baudry Family are located in a small hamlet called Cravant-les-Côteaux, where two generations work together with a slavish devotion to Cabernet Franc and its plantings in the various terroirs they have identified on their estate.

Every year we get a meager amount of their pale, salmon-hued rosé, employing grapes that come from two different parcels and made via the direct press method (a short and swift skin contact). The distinct hallmarks of Cabernet Franc are present (bell peppers and a hint of summer plum), but the rosé reveals something more delicate and tender about the grape. That brief time with the skins does not allow the beefier, more herbal notes inherent in Cabernet Franc’s personality to fully reveal themselves.

I am also sorry to report that this wine is somewhat limited too.





2011 Musella Valpolicella Superiore-Veneto, Italy

Although much of the world has heard of the heavy-hitter of the Veneto, Amarone, there is less recognition for Valpolicella.

We would like to change this.

Good Valpolicella, like the one offered here from Musella, brings all the light-hearted charm and pretty aromatics of a Pinot Noir coupled with a super fresh and taut quality.

If ever there were a wine match for ripe tomatoes, well-seasoned summer salads, and the subtle piquancy of food enlivened by a touch of citrus or vinegar, rather than a reduced and heavy sauce, Valpolicella is it.

Valpolicella is made from the same grapes as Amarone (Corvina and friends) but does not go through “passito” or drying of the grapes. So rather than figs and caramel, the flavor profile is pie cherries, cranberries and earth. Furthermore, Musella’s version offers a bit of power that is unusual, but it is nice to have a sense of gravity in the palate now and again.

And I am happy to report there is plenty of this wine.

$19.00/BTL.- $228.00/CASE OF 12



2013 Château de la Liquière “Nos Racines” Blanc- Languedoc, France

We have been all about the wines of Château de la Liquière this summer. To re-cap, this is a wonderful family working with vines in the village of Faugères and its environs. They have several different lines and today we are featuring the white wine called “Nos Racines”. Translated from French, this means “our roots” and this wine harkens back to their ancestors.

The blend here is 30% Terret Blanc, 20% Grenache Blanc and Gris, 20% Carignan Blanc, 20% Bourboulenc & 10% Clairette. You might have had a blend like this if you have ever had a white Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Terret Blanc is fast disappearing, it is not allowed in white Faugères, and therefore the motivation to keep growing it is low, which again speaks to the name of the wine and how it recalls the wines of generations past.

There is great texture to this wine, along with flavors like peach skin, apple, and aromas of both white flowers and tender herbs like chervil and parsley.

$22.00/BTL.-$264.00/CASE OF 12



2012 Domaine Chignard Juliénas “Beauvernay”-Burgundy, France

Cru Beaujolais had a really good thing going and was gaining quite a bit of momentum, but then the  2012 vintage hit and it has been a little less than charming. This was a difficult vintage, and some of these young wines have been quite closed and honestly, a bit terse. To call the harvest challenging is an understatement; and the tragedy is that this hardship, coupled with dramatically decreased production levels, forced many wineries out of business.

However, the producer we are featuring has made a wine that does not at all reveal the obstacles of 2012.

Domaine Chignard, located in Fleurie, has produced a delicious Juliénas that is open, generous and full of all the luscious goodness you could want in a Cru Beaujolais. The vineyard, “Beauvernay”, is named for a grove of alder trees that can be seen at the base of the hillside. The granitic soils impart a great sense of minerality to the wine, and the 60+ year old Gamay vines lend weight and concentration.

$26.00/BTL.-$312.00/CASE OF 12


hito2010 Bodegas Cepa 21 “Hito”-Ribera del Duero, Spain

Ribera del Duero is a special place: beautiful, savage, and although rife with agricultural pursuits, especially viticulture, there is a sense of preservation and a desire not to disturb the natural landscape.

Ribera del Duero is also a special place because it is perfectly acceptable to roast a bunch of suckling lambs up for dinner, eat said lambies with your fingers, and drink copious amounts of the wonderful Tempranillo for which the region is famous.

The Tempranillo here undergoes very dramatic conditions during each years’ growth cycle. There is a big swing between the day and nighttime temperatures, sometimes up to forty degrees. This diurnal variation allows for extraordinary ripening during the day and true rest for the vines at night, allowing the grapes to retain acidity.

Emilio Moro is a well regarded producer in the region and makes some very expensive and sought after wines. The Bodegas Cepa 21 project is a second winery built to produce a more affordable line. The vines are all part of a selection massale taken from 100+ year old vines in Pesquera.


Hito is a rich, dark wine that exhibits much blue and black fruit, spice and violet flower.

$15.00/BTL.-$180.00/CASE OF 12

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

Friday Feature 07/11/14: It’s Not Burgundy, But It’s Delicious

Hello and Happy Friday!


As many of you know, Craig is making his way through the Portuguese countryside, making friends, tasting wine and apparently eating lots of baby pigs! He is keeping a log of his adventures this year, and honestly it is some of his most compelling writing to date. You can keep up with his adventures by clicking this link which brings you to our website blog, which we call “The Wine Wire”. You can also keep up with his adventures on our Facebook page.


We also will be CLOSED this coming Monday, July 15th. After that, not too much travel is left on the books, so our hours should return to normal.


With the big boss away, I am left to my own devices regarding the Friday Feature. I had some big plans for France, but then yesterday was fortunate to taste a Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County (I know, get the smelling salts out!) that really knocked my socks off. The word balance is often over-used in the context of wine these days, but today’s Friday Feature is harmonious and made with great equilibrium.


The other terrific news is that the pricing is very reasonable. Onto the Feature!


Have a Great Week-End!


Craig (Iberia and beyond) & Sheb (here)





2012 Deovlet Pinot Noir-Santa Barbara County, CA 


Ryan Deovlet began his winemaking career working alongside some very famous names including David Ramey & Paul Hobbs. And while he owns no vineyards, he maintains constant farming input and strict harvesting decisions, working in the style of a Burgundian micro-negociant. He works with very tiny quantities and only in Santa Maria Valley and Santa Maria Hills, two AVAs known for their cool temperatures and for producing high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


The 2012 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir employs fruit from these two appellations and only 175 cases were made. The wines exhibits a velvety texture and bright, baked cherry fruit, along with a hint of smoke and pine. It it luscious without being cloying. Ryan employs 30% new oak for this bottling,  but rather than being a nuisance and obvious, the oak contributes a tender spice and slightly underscores the structure.


I think Pinot Noir lovers of all stripes will enjoy this wonderful bottle.


$36.99/BTL.-$443.88/CASE OF 12


Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter

Perman’s Portuguese Adventures – Day 3 & 4

Catching up! July 11th & 12th

Friday, July 11th

Friday consisted of many ups and downs, something typical of any wine business trip.

I made my way from Ameal at Ponte de Lima south to the appellation of Lisboa, which until recently was called Estremadura. I’ve had the opportunity to visit one producer in Lisboa before, and this time was a completely different story and philosophy than before.

I met Marta Soares from Casal Figueira at her “in progress” winery in small village of Vermelha. Looking out from the roof of the winery you face south and see Montejunto, a mountain that rises up and helps protect this part of the appellation of Lisboa from the extreme heat of the South. The Atlantic Ocean, which is just a short drive away, provides fresh breezes to help cool the grapes.

The story of Casal Figueira isn’t easy to write. There is of course sadness in this story, but after spending several hours with Marta, and getting a feeling for who she is as a person, I will tell it directly and hope that I have all the facts straight. Continue reading »

Posted in The Wine Wire

Perman’s Portuguese Adventures – Day 2

A recap of my date today in Portugal…

What do you think of, when the words Vinho Verde is mentioned?

This was a question that sparked great conversation today as I visited with Pedro Araujo, owner of Quinta do Ameal, a producer just outside of Refoios de Lima in the Northern part of Portugal.  Ameal begun  in 1989, when Pedro’s father purchased the Ameal estate after selling the famed Port House, Ramos Pinto.  Ameal is roughly 30 hectares, with 12 hectares of vineyards, and the rest a mixture of forest, open land and 800 meters of frontage along the Lima river.  By 1994, some wine was being made at Ameal, and Pedro joined the estate in 1998 with his first vintage being 1999. Continue reading »

Posted in The Wine Wire

Perman’s Portuguese Adventures – Day 1

Hello from Portugal everyone! I’ve decided to keep some records of this trip by adding a daily log. Today I flew into Lisbon and immediately drove to the Bairrada region couple hours north. My purpose was to visit Casa de Saima a producer that I’ve worked with Maverick Wine Company to bring in for my store and the Fat Rice list.

Continue reading »

Posted in The Wine Wire

Friday Feature 06/27/14: The New 6 For $60 Something Sampler. Frenchie Edition.

Hello and Happy Friday!

Hope you had a great week.


In Perman Wine news, the intrepid traveler Craig takes off to Portugal for 10 days. We also have the 4th of July holiday looming (how did it pass this quickly, this summer?!!). As a result, we will have a few closures:


Friday July 4th : CLOSED

(stock up Wednesday the 3rd!!)


Monday July 7th: CLOSED.

Monday July 14th: CLOSED


We appreciate your patience while we try desperately to strive for a work/life balance.




With all the focus of late on Iberian wines, we thought it time to turn our attention to what Sheb calls the “motherland”- France!

So we present to you another themed sampler if you will- this time à la Français!

And, it being the last Friday of the month, and that means time to unveil another Six for $60-Something sampler!

All of these selections are available by the bottle and the case, but there is no better way to learn about a country than by trying a variety of its wines.  We will take you all the way from Alsace to the western corner of the Languedoc, so hold on tight!

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

Craig & Sheb




6 for $60-Something Sampler


2011 Kuentz-Bas Vin D’Alsace Blanc-Alsace, France

Last week on our 6 for $120-Something Sampler, we touched upon briefly some of the more problematic aspects of selling wines from Alsace; high price points and the fact that it is difficult to tell whether or not you are buying a dry wine or something dripping with residual sugar. Despite all this, we are offering yet another wine from the region.

Kuentz-Bas has been around since the 1700s in the adorable village of Husseren-Les-Châteaux. A significant change came to the property in 2004, when it was purchased by Maison Jean-Baptiste Adam, and there was some worry about what the future held. A conversion to biodynamics and a general improvement in wine quality put all anxiety to rest, eventually. After all, it’s the French and sometimes they do not like to change.

The style of wine we are offering here used to be labeled as “Edelzwicker” an awkward term for single variety or blended white wines in Alsace that could, but did not have to, carry a vintage date. But let’s face it, no one is coming into the store asking for Edelzwicker.

The wine is a blend of Sylvaner, Muscat, Auxerrois & Chasselas. It is dry (hallelujah!) and mineral driven. Sylvaner is a grape that could use a better PR department. It is capable of producing nervy yet firm wines, mainly in Germany, Austria and Alsace. Muscat adds a floral note to the blend, the Auxerrois and Chasselas a bit of richness.

$13.00/ BTL.-$156.00/CASE OF 12


2013 Château de la Liquière “A Mi Chemin” Rosé-Languedoc, France


Over the years, both Craig and I have relied upon Château de la Liquière for dependable, delicious wines at very good prices. This producer is located in Faugères (foh-jare). With a population of 501 people, Faugères is not exactly the most populous dense place in the world, and as a wine region it has had its share of hardships. Like most of Europe, phylloxera hit in the late 1800s and then growth was slow due to the two world wars. In the 1960s there was a storm so violent that many of the vineyards were destroyed by landslides. Rebuilding was slow again, but AOC status was finally granted in 1982.

Liquière’s history is a common one in the Languedoc; once a supplier to the local co-op, where the grapes went into making cheap plonk, the current generation now produces wine organically and makes lovely, high quality products.

The “Mi Chemin” line is their most affordable label. The rosé is a true delight and invites the sort of misty, romanticization of Southern France that should most likely be avoided, but is sometimes difficult to do. It is made of Carignan, Syrah & Grenache and in possession of such a beautiful ruby pink color you will think you have been magically transported into some kind of adult princess lair that involves alcohol! It is dry and full of summer fruit- watermelon, cherries and raspberries.

$12.00/BTL-$144.00/CASE OF 12

we highly recommend the case purchase!


2011 Cave de Tain Syrah, Northern Rhône Valley, France

High quality, top-tier wines are not always the first association we have with large co-op wineries. Of course, there are many delicious and affordable wines made by co-ops these days. But Cave de Tain in France, and Produttori del Barbaresco in Italy stand out as grand exceptions to the rule.

Cave de Tain lies at the foot of the Hermitage hillside and buys grapes from nearly 1000 hectares of vines. They own 21 hectares outright, and those vineyards are farmed by nine permanent employees. It is safe to say that these guys know how to handle Syrah.

This Syrah, from the hillsides, and flats of the Northern Rhône, carries the egregious appellation of Collines Rhodaniennes, which by the way, even native residents of the Rhône Valley find preposterous and hard to pronounce.

You may  be thinking, “Well that’s terrific and all, but why do I want a ponderous and heavy Syrah from the Rhône in the summer?”. Let us be the first to assure you that this wine is made in a fruity and affable style, no decanting or meditation required. An easy answer to burgers and steaks on the grill. You can even chill it down a bit for a refreshing evening quaffer.

$11.00/BTL.- $132.00/ CASE OF 12



2013 Domaine Montrose Chardonnay-Languedoc, France

For us to get excited about Chardonnay these days, well, it takes a lot. We often, on our travels we have the privilege of tasting some of the world’s greatest expressions of the grape, so when Craig texted me at home, excited about an inexpensive one from the Languedoc, I was stunned.

Domaine Montrose is a serious, family-run winery in the fun to pronounce region of Côtes-de-Thongue. They are not far from the Mediterranean coast, in between the cities of Narbonne and Montpellier. This is normally not a terroir we think about, when we think about Chardonnay, but this proximity to the sea breezes, as well as night harvesting, cold fermentations and stainless steel aging contribute to a fresh and lively Chardonnay, with notes of citrus, peach and fresh apples.

$11.00/BTL.-132.00/CASE OF 12



2011 Château Montauriol Rigaud “Cuvée Les Crozes” Corbières-Languedoc, France

This may be one of the few wines we have ever offered whose grapes are under constant attack from wild boars. Apparently it’s hard out there for a grape!

Corbières is yet another rustic little village that dots the winding Mediterranean landscape of the Languedoc, two hours south of Faugères and abut 20 miles from the Spanish border. The blend here is Grenache, Syrah & Carignan, all fermented in stainless steel and then aged for one year in neutral oak.

Google earth images of Corbières all reveal a similar story; mountainous, pebble-strewn land swathed in vines and green scrub herbs. There is a sense of desolation coupled with peace; a natural savagery that coexists with scenic serenity. The wine however, drinks a little bit more easily than this: ripe baked cherries and cranberries coupled with a hint of earth.

Stick it in fridge for a minute if you wish and place it at the center of a table filled with grilled meat. You’ll be fine.

$11.00/BTL.-$132.00/CASE OF 12


2013 Château Briot Bordeaux Blanc-Bordeaux, France

Back in chilly February we ran the last of the 2012 vintage of this wine, and despite our misgivings about running such a fresh and crisp white in the middle of such a chilly winter, you all went crackerjacks over it. So when we heard about the 2013 being released, we gave it a shot. It is even more fresh and lively than we had remembered, although honestly, we cannot guarantee that we truly remember tasting the 2012 because six months is a long time and we have tasted a lot of wine since then.

Château Briot is one of several large holdings of the successful Ducourt family. This dry white wine is composed of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, zesty and bracingly herbacious and 28% Muscadelle. The Muscadelle, floral and fruity too, contributes to the aromatic complexity and perfumes the wine with acacia blossom, honey and adds a layer of richness.

Sauvignon Blanc fans can finally rejoice- we got you covered fhis summer.

$11.00/ BTL.- $132.00/CASE OF 12

Posted in 6 for $60-Something, Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters

Friday Feature 06/19/14: The New 6 for $120 Something Sampler

Hello and Happy Friday!



Some house news to start -it is that time of year when our Thursday night tasting series takes a little vacation. We will start up again in September and of course, finish the year up with our ever popular Champagne Tasting(s) in December. We will of course announce our fall schedule in a newsletter soon.




In other news, it is that time again, the second to last Friday of the month, when we introduce our latest Six for $120-Something Sampler.


This month’s we have a range of classic wines from Piemonte and France, as well as some wacky but super delicious finds from California and the south of France. It is definitely one of the more dynamic samplers we have offered.


Keep in mind these wines are available by the bottle with the exception of one, but who are you kidding, just do the whole sampler, you can drink it this month if you really try! Also, our first rose of the year makes its appearance.


In all seriousness, the sampler is a great way to stock your monthly wine rack.  It also provides a great way to learn about wine.  Most importantly the wines are delicious!


So what are you waiting for, come on down today to pick yours up!




Craig & Sheb


6 for $120-Something 


2012 Château de la Liquière “L’Unique Gaz de Schiste” Vin Mousseux Rosé Brut- Languedoc, France
Ladies and gentleman – let us introduce you to your new favorite summer wine.
It’s pink, it sparkles and it comes with a funky name that we just dare you to try and rapidly say 10 times in a row.
Several months ago we put in a special order for some of the smaller production wines of one of our favorite producers in the Languedoc, Château de la Liquière.  Based in the appellation of Faugères, they own 60 hectares of vineyards in different zones..  From top to bottom, everything that Liquière does is top notch, and representative of the region. This is a name you will see lots of over the next couple months here at Perman Wine.
Our first selection for you to try is a small production sparkling wine made in the Methode Ancestrale.  Many of you wine nerds have tried sparkling wines from Bugey Cerdon, but how about a wine of this style from the Languedoc?

Liquière produces just 2500 bottles of this sparkling which is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Mourvèdre, bottles with 25 grams of sugar, after which the secondary fermentation process turns into about 4 or 5 grams.

The aromatics on this wine scream wild strawberry, while the palate shows a more intense raspberry and currant liqueur-like note.  All of this while maintaining balance, mineral and a dry, refreshing finish.

Let’s just say you are going to go bananas over this.  The only trouble – only 132 bottles were imported, directly to the store.

Come get some!

$18.00 BTL. / $216.00 CASE




2012 Vietti Dolcetto D’Alba- Piemonte, Italy

For all the love Pinot Noir seems to engender, we sometimes get troubled by the fact that Dolcetto often gets overlooked. After all, Dolcetto makes luscious and juicy wines with low tannins and great freshness. And for us, Dolcettos can be a delightful and versatile food pairing buddy, good with fish, salads, white flushed meats, Asian and Mediterranean cuisines.

And what better producer for your Dolcetto than Vietti, a Piedmontese icon. Their vineyards are among some of the greatest in Barolo. Their Dolcetto is produced on the estate and handled with the same family love as the Cru Barolo.

Translated from Italian, Dolcetto D’Alba means “little sweet one of the dawn”. Very little on the earth could be as charming as that. Have we convinced you yet?

$20.00 BTL.-$240.00/CASE OF 12



2012 Quinta da Bica Vinho Branco-Dão, Portugal

Last year when Craig returned from Portugal, he decided  that we would make a big commitment to finding and bringing in producers that deserved shelf space alongside the great wines of France, Italy, Spain and the United States. So we pushed for our distributors to start bringing in these great Portuguese producers that Craig found on his travels.

It seems as if the wine press is catching up with us. First, there was this article in which Eric Aasimov of the New York Times extolls the beauty of Portuguese white wines.

And in March, Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator put a call out for more people to get on board with Portuguese wines, posing the question ” Is Portugal the most exciting wine place on the planet?”. The answer is yes. And we agree with him.


And while we realize we have been offering and writing about Portugal a lot these days, how can you blame us? We are pretty excited about the way things are going and happy that the media is seeing things the way we do.

Today’s Portuguese offering is a white wine from Quinta da Bica, a producer in the Dāo region. You may recall from other newsletters that the Dāo is a mountainous region in the middle of Portugal, protected on either side by the Beiras Interior and Atlantico. This is where you will find wines made with elegance and finesse, and this Vinho Branco (white wine) is no exception.

The blend here is Verdelho & Encruzado. Verdelho is a grape used in Madeira production, and sometimes you might see new world versions from Australia and California’s Central Coast. Encruzado is exclusive to the Dāo, and provides floral aromatics as well as weight to the blend.

This wine is described best as a light and ethereal, with good minerality and delicate aromatics.

$19.00/BTL- $228.00/CASE OF 12




2012 Can Feixes Blanc Selecció-Penedés, Spain

For over 15 years, nothing has said summer better than a bottle of Blanc Selecció from Can Feixes.  That is how long Craig has been selling this great value from the Huguet family.

Located in the Northwest corner of the Alt Penedès region of Catalunya, Spain, the estate sits in a particularly cool microclimate, perfectly suited to the local grape varietals, Parellada, Macabeo, Malvasía de Sitges, as well as the international grape, Chardonnay.

In the Penedès region it is typical for Cava producers to make a still white wine from the typical grapes of the region, and Can Feixes has always been one of the shining examples of this still, white wine blend.

In keeping with their idea of providing a fresh, easy drinking style, the grapes are cold fermented in stainless steel tanks, and matured in contact with their lees for a few months.

2012 provided another great vintage for Can Feixes, and this wine displays its classic lime zest, mineral and orange notes on the nose and palate.  An ideal glass while sitting on your deck, it also is the bottle to reach for when going out for sushi.

$15.00 BTL. / $180.00 CASE



2012 Château D’Orschwihr Pinot Gris “Bollenberg”-Alsace, France


No-one will argue that Alsace doesn’t make good, sometimes great wines, but I think we are all in accord when I say that buying wine from this region can be confusing. Are you buying something sweet, off dry, intense or light? There is often no indication of what you may find in the bottle.


Alsace is definitely a region for white wine drinkers. They specialize in Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. Other accessory grapes include Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Noir. Quaint picturesque villages (119 in total) dot the landscape and planted around these are 40,000 acres of vines. Of these, 52 vineyards are considered Grand Cru.


Château D’Orschwihr got going in 1049 A.D. and may be one of the most experienced wineries we have here at the shop. They work with several Grand Crus and two single vineyards, one of which is Bollenberg. This vineyard is atop a limestone hill and is one of the driest and warmest sites in Alsace. As a result, the grapes grown there achieve a lovely richness coupled with nervy acidity.


This wine is off-dry. They actually state how much residual sugar on the label, which is nice. There is a perception of sweetness, but this is tempered by the acidity, which is bracing. This would be a superb match for a BYOB sushi night, or even Korean barbecue.


$18.00/BTL-$216.00/ CASE OF 12



2013 Broc Cellars Valdigué-Solano County/ Green Valley, CA.


In the 1970s, it was quite common to peruse a wine shop’s domestic section and see many different labels of Napa Gamay, or Gamay Beaujolais.  You could also at that time, buy Napa Cabernet Sauvignon for $6.99/ bottle. There was also a lot more Petit Sirah. So times have changed.


The 1970s were also time when many Californian winemakers did not know what the hell was planted in their vineyards. They were too busy growing afros, minding their marijuana plants and sitting nude in hot tubs. No-one bothered to find out that the Gamay they were growing was actually Valdigué. Too much free loving and not enough botany, if you ask me.


Valdigué made it’s way from southwest France, where it grows in the Tarn and Lot departments. It is distantly related to Cot, or Malbec. It somehow settled in California and someone decided it looked like Gamay Noir. Broc Cellars (Chris Brockway) has always been invested in the historic vineyards of California. So you can imagine their delight when they found 70 year old Valdigué vines still in cultivation in Solano County.


Freshness and acidity are always important to Chris, and his wines’  alcohol levels are always quite low by California standards; the 2013 Valdigué clocks in at only 12.5%. Tart red fruit, earth and light tannins are coupled with a crisp, fresh character in this unique red.


$24.00/BTL- $288.00/ CASE OF 12

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

The Wine Wire: Bow & Arrow Rosé of Gamay Noir

Delicate heady and delicious, you don’t often see a Rosé of Gamay outside Beaujolais. We got about 4 cases from this little producer.

2013 Bow & Arrow Rosé of Gamay Noir $19.99/ BTL.

Posted in The Wine Wire

Friday Feature 06/13/14: 2 Italian Beauties

Hello and Happy Friday!

With Craig having freshly returned from Italy with many exciting discoveries and great stories; we have decided to feature two Italian wines today. We have a white wine from the steep slopes of Mount Etna (our favorite active volcano!) from Graci, and a classic Brunello from a producer who is new to us, San Filippo.

We hope you are enjoying a well-deserved and belated summer.

Have a great weekend!

Craig & Sheb

2011 Graci Etna Bianco “Arcurìa”-Sicily, Italy

We have written before, with great admiration about Alberto Graci. He is a dynamic and talented winemaker, who focuses on native grapes and traditional winemaking. His mantra? “The land decides, not us”.

While most noted and recognized for his red wines, today we are featuring what is in our view, one of Sicily’s best white wines.

The Arcurìa bottling had been labeled as “Quota 600″ in the past, but changed to indicate that all the grapes were coming from the Arcurìa plot within the village of Passopisciaro. The blend is 70% Carricante & 30% Catarratto. Carricante brings a complex array of flavors to the blend- honey, citrus, aniseed and white flowers. Catarratto offers herbal notes, as well as weight and minerality.

Alberto Graci is on point with this one. Bright and fresh, hints at pineapple, medium weight, super mineral-charged on the finish. It really lingers on the palate.


2008 San Filippo Brunello di Montalcino-Tuscany, Italy

We both harbor secret affection for the classic Tuscan wine, Brunello. When it is at its best, Brunello is a glorious expression of Sangiovese, a sea of dried cherries and damson plums, cloves and nutmeg, structured mightily by the region’s cask aging requirements.

I have met with many Brunello producers throughout the years and honestly, they can be a little flashy. So it was refreshing when the shy and modest Roberto Giannelli walked in and let the wines speak for themselves.

The wines were typical, in a heartbreaking way, an instant portal to the place, a beautiful landscape awash with herbs, cypress trees, horses and hills, vines and olive groves. The mighty structure is in place, imparted by extended aging in a combination of large Slovenian and 225 liter Allier oak casks. Fruit is in gorgeous concentration, mingling with baking spices and licorice.

This is a tremendous value in the world of Brunello – do not miss it!

$48.99/ BTL.

Posted in Friday Feature, Friday Features/Newsletters, Newsletter Tagged , , , |

The Wine Wire: A Rare Bird-Terret Blanc from Leon Barral

There were rumors about this wine flying around for a number of years.  It existed, it was great but Didier Barral was unsure about exporting it. When it appeared on a sale sheet and was available for sampling, we couldn’t say no. And we are glad we didn’t- it’s a fascinating savory and wonderful experience, a rare white wine from the Languedoc made by a esteemed producer.


Terret is one of the ancient grapes of the Rhône, originating in the Hérault department. The Terret Noir is one of the allowed grapes in Chateauneuf-du-Pape but in my experience I can only recall one producer (Château Beaurenard) using it, and this really was more for sentimental reasons, as it still was cultivated in the plot they call Boisrenard in honor of their Grandfather.


The white I have never heard of being used, nor in my years of tasting can I recall any wine who included it in its blend. Didier Barral of Domaine Leon Barral in Faugères, in the Central Languedoc, has refused to replant his ancient vineyard of Terret Blanc, but instead makes this rare wine each year, and it has finally arrived in Chicago. This is definitely in the natural wine camp, made without sulfur, in a intentionally (but only) slightly oxidative state, yet still maintains freshness and vibrancy.


Leon Barral Blanc Vin De Franc $49.99/BTL. 

11 Bottles Available

Posted in The Wine Wire