Hello and Happy Friday!
It’s back! The Six for $120 sampler has arrived with yet another month full of fantastic values.
This sampler, aims to bring you some of the best wines I’ve recently tasted in and around the $20 range. All of these are available by the bottle or case, but for maximum pleasure you should take the whole sampler!
It wasn’t intentional – but this month has a heavy focus on French wines. From Bordeaux to the Loire to the Northern Rhône then to the Languedoc, you will really be taken on an adventure for the senses. This month I did also include an incredible Spanish sparkling wine and a wine I sourced from my trip in May to Austria, the incredible value 2010 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner! This is a great mix of wines this month!
Remember with all the samplers, they are available for pick up anytime at the store, so if you can’t make it this weekend, you can pick one up anytime in the coming month.
Have a great weekend!
2009 ALAIN GRAILLOT CROZES-HERMITAGE
He is the king of Crozes-Hermitage, and his name is Alain Graillot. A quarter of a century is not a long time in the wine world, but it is enough time to have an impact on the quality level of a region. Alain Graillot set up shop in his beloved Crozes-Hermitage in 1985. This Northern Rhône appellation didn’t have the “street cred” that places like Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie did back then.
Today, thanks in part to Alain, Syrah enthusiasts, and those that seek out the best in the Northern Rhône know his wines to be a trusted source. Crozes-Hermitage surrounds the more famous hill of Hermitage. The soil structure is very different, more alluvial with sand and gravel. Yet with a healthy vine-age of 30-years, and a dedication to organically farmed vineyards, and hand harvested fruit, these are grapes that provide the basis for beautifully expressive Syrah.
Graillot likes to vinify using whole cluster fermentation, and he ferments the red Crozes in lined concrete vats. The wine is aged in a mixture of 1-3 year-old oak barrels.
2009 is yet another great vintage for this wine, with some wine writers proclaiming it to be the best in almost two decades. There is an extra-level of dimension and richness to the 2009. Bright red and black berry notes, classic white pepper spice and a wonderfully, pure, and long finish. The great thing about this wine is you can enjoy it today, but it will certainly age for several more years.
I scooped a wonderful price on this as it normally retails for about $30, so Northern Rhône enthusiasts will want to grab some while it lasts!
$24.00 BTL. / $288.00 CASE – ONLY 3 CASES AVAILABLE
2009 CHÂTEAU PUECH-HAUT COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC “PRESTIGE”
The Languedoc is France’s most underrated and underappreciated wine region.
The Languedoc is also a huge geographical district. So much so that it can be very difficult to generalize about climate or soil. What you can generalize about is that it offers some of the best examples of Rhône varietals not just in France, but in the world.
Château Puech-Haut is an excellent producer located in Saint-Drézéry, Northeast of Montpellier. Owned and operated by Gerard Bru, over the years it has had several consultants come in and consult on farming and winemaking. The most recent enologist to assist is Philippe Cambie. I have carried several of his wines in the store in the past, and he is noted for really knowing the different faces of Rhône varietals.
What a great value for a wine of this caliber. Robert Parker agrees.
“From a bio-dynamically farmed estate, this 2009 is a blend of 55% Grenache (from 60- to 75-year-old vines) and 45% Syrah (from 40-year-old vines), all planted in limestone soils, and aged completely in concrete tanks. This remarkable offering is a naked expression of the vivid terroir and excellent fruit found in this region. The incredible aromatics consist of forest floor, spring flowers, sweet black currants, raspberries, licorice, and incense. With a pure, velvety, seamless, full-bodied texture and a finish that lasts 30+ seconds, this wine possesses a stunning integration of acidity, tannin, and alcohol, suggesting this 2009 will age nicely for 3-5 years, possibly as long as a decade. However, it will be hard to resist given its current performance. Bravo! 93 Points, Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate.”
This would make a very nice match with roasted leg of lamb.
$19.00 BTL. / $228.00 CASE
2010 SCHLOSS GOBELSBURG “GOBELSBURGER” GRÜNER VELTLINER
My trip this past May to Austria was an eye opening experience.
Without a doubt one of the best values I tasted on the trip comes from the historic estate of Schloss Gobelsburg. Visiting this estate was like getting into a DeLorean and going back in time several hundred years. After all, this monastery was producing wine in 1171. Located in the Kamptal , they own parcels of several of the top vineyards of the region. Michael Moosbrugger, their winemaker, is incredibly talented and thoughtful.
Schloss Gobelsburg makes a second label for their wines called Gobelsburg. This is typically younger vine-fruit (under 20 years) from their vineyards in the Kamptal. The 2010 Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner is about as good of a value as you will find in the category.
Its importer Terry Theise writes “there should be some Nobel-like prize for the humanity of caring so much about the customer who doesn’t spend much on wine, who won’t post on internet bulletin boards, won’t give you 97 ‘points,’ won’t put your name in lights – won’t feed your ego, in other words. And what does Michi Moosbrugger do for this person? Give him three times the quality he had any right to anticipate.”
This wine may not change your life, but it will give you loads of Grüner Veltliner pleasure! As I often say, Grüner goes with practically everything on your table, so do stock up on this before it disappears!
$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE
2009 DOMAINE GIRARD SANCERRE ROUGE “LA GARENNE”
A last minute addition to the “Six for $120” that I just had to include this month.
Most of you out there in “e-mail land” love and seek out the famed Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire appellation called Sancerre. What some of you may not know is that there is a red Sancerre based on the Pinot Noir varietal. This grape is a “Vin de Terroir” really showing off where it comes from with every sip. Sancerre Rouge is one of the most expressive versions of Pinot Noir, often taking on the mineral personality of the region.
This is an outstanding version of Sancerre rouge, and a really ridiculous value given its quality. Domaine Girard is located in the village of Chaudoux, just a few miles northwest of the town of Sancerre. They own 12-hectares of vines, only some of which goes into the two domaine bottlings. The “simple” stuff goes to négociants, while the top wine goes into this red and their white.
La Garenne is the beautiful east-facing, sloping vineyard that has a very rocky limestone soil. It is the source for both Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir that goes into this wine. This is a vat fermented Pinot Noir, that doesn’t have any oak influence.
I was really impressed when I tasted this the other day! A very pretty red fruit dominated nose, with perfect hints of mineral and spice on the nose and palate. This has the perfect level of ripeness, enough to give it some fruit, but not too much so that it is candied. A Pinot Noir that is very reflective of its soil, this is a versatile food wine, and can be enjoyed with fish, cheese, or poultry.
$23.00 CASE / $276.00 CASE
2006 CHÂTEAU BRULESÉCAILLE CÔTES DE BOURG
I a huge fan of this Côtes de Bourg estate. For those of you looking for value Bordeaux, you are not going to find if from places like Pauillac or Margaux. But if you look across the river from Margaux, you will find the appellation of Côtes de Bourg, which is capable of producing excellent “daily drinking” wine.
Château Brulesécaille is a 26-hectare estate that has existed since the late 1800’s. The vineyards sit on a clay limestone outcrop overlooking the Dordogne Valley. The Rodet family is currently in charge, and they make about 11,000 cases of wine among three different wines.
Their flagship wine is this, the Château Brulesécaille Côtes de Bourg – made from equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged in French oak for a year before bottling, then aged in bottle before its release.
In my opinion, this is classic Bordeaux table wine, with an extra bit of complexity. Bright black cherry, cassis, tobacco and mineral notes emerge on the nose and palate. There are some chewy tannins in the mid-palate, but they are nicely framed by fruit and acid.
This deserves to be paired with a classic French bistro dish like Steak au Poivre.
$17.00 BTL. / $204.00 CASE
NV AVINYÓ CAVA BRUT NATURE RESERVA
Simply put, this is one of the best Cava’s I’ve tasted in some time.
Cava is Spain’s version of sparkling wine. It comes from the region of Penèdes just southwest of Barcelona. Three traditional varieties go into Cava production – Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. Some producers also blend the French varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay into their Cava.
One of the keys to more complex Cava is the amount of time a producer has left it on its lees (dead yeast cells developed in the bottle). If you look closely on your bottle of Cava you will see different colored labels, which speak to how long the wine was left on its lees. For a Reserva Cava such as this, the minimum is 18 months.
Avinyó is one of my favorite Cava producers, as it is an artisan cellar dedicated to quality over quantity. While some of you may have tasted their Brut Reserva in top restaurants, their Brut Nature featured today is brand new to our market. What is Brut Nature? It is the designate for a sparkling wine where no secondary dosage is added. A bone dry sparkling wine, that really features its fruit and mineral.
This Brut Nature is a blend of the three aforementioned traditional varieties, from vines that range from 15-50 years-old. The lees aging goes beyond the requirement, and is done for a full two years.
This is a really complex bottle of sparkling wine! Drink it as an aperitif, or with oysters and shellfish. A really amazing value for this level of complexity!
$20.00 BTL. / $240.00 CASE