Perman Wine Selections Newsletter – November 3, 2009


A very exciting newsletter, jam packed with some awesome new arrivals.  There is a heavy focus on Rhône wines this week, including a last call on a couple of ‘07’s that you may have missed in previous newsletters.  Because of recent reviews these will be gone before you know it.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 4th I will be closing early at 5:30 pm to accommodate a private party at the store.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

On another note, look out for this Wednesday’s events update.  I have two big tastings at the store next week.  On Tuesday, November 10th, I will have the pleasure of  hosting Frédéric Coulon, one of the owners and winemakers at the legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer, Domaine de Beaurenard.  On Friday, November 13th, some top Pinot Noir producers from the west coast and abroad descend on my store for an informal Pinot Noir tasting to celebrate that weekend’s Pinot Day’s celebration.  More details to come, but if you are interested contact me today.

Finally, a new Perman Wine Selections policy is taking effect today.  All orders placed with me must be secured with a credit card payment.  This will ensure that you get the wine you want, and also help me get a little more organized around the store.  If you have any questions or concerns please let me know.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter!



The new vintage is here!  I’ve been saying it for so long, excuse me if you’ve heard this before, but if you love elegant Syrah, love Northern Rhône wines, then purchasing Graillot Crozes-Hermitage is a must!

Lost in the swarm over the 2007 Southern Rhône reds, is the fact that for purists, the ’07 Northern Rhône vintage looks to be a very good vintage for the quality domains of the region.  An early bud break, with a cool and sometimes rainy July and August, turned into very good weather in September for harvest.  Growers had to limit their yields with green harvesting, and really watch their vines throughout the season.  It took a good grower to produce good wines, but that is why it is always an easy call to purchase wines from Graillot, you know the quality level will be high.

Alain traces his heritage to the Northern Rhône Valley although his Domaine only began in 1985.  After making his money in another business,  Alain returned to his roots to pursue his dream of making great Syrah.  He owns 50 acres in the Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage appellations.  From this he makes two red Crozes-Hermitage, one white from the same region and a miniscule amount of Hermitage.  The style of the wines at Graillot evokes words like “cool climate,” pure, and classic.  There is never a great deal of extraction of fruit, oak is used sparingly, alcohol levels tend to be low, and acidity levels are sound.

A few months ago I popped open my last bottle of ’97 Crozes-Hermitage from Graillot, and it was still singing at age 12.  This was a vintage that was much maligned, but when I bought it, I knew the simple fact that Graillot always makes terrific wines.  But the miraculous thing about Graillot’s wines is that they taste great from day one to day 3650+.

The ’07 is no different, with juicy red fruits, mixed with hints at white pepper, tapenade and smoke.  Great delineation of fruit and well-framed acidity is going to keep this fun to drink for quite some time. So stock up with a few bottles to enjoy now though 2017+.


I am very excited to announce the first ever, white wine release from one of the rising stars of Spain, Albert Jané of Acústic Celler.  Located in the appellation of Montsant, Albert first released a duo of reds in the 2004 vintage.

The Acústic project began when Albert found an old farmer who had a plot of old Grenache and Carignan vines along the road from Falset to Capçanes.  He was able to purchase this beautiful vineyard and made his first wine at his friend’s winery in Montsant called Celler Vendrell i Rived.

Since then Albert, who grew up in a wine family, owners of the Penèdes producer Jané Ventura, has added some other terrific vineyards to expand his production to a total of four wines.

I taste a lot of Spanish wine, particularly from the regions of Montsant and its neighbor Priorat, and over his first few vintages these have been some of the best of his respective region.  I’m not alone in my thinking, since his first vintages, the reviews from almost every major publication have been very good.  Recently, Decanter Magazine listed Acústic Celler as one of the “Top 10 new wave producers of Spain.”

In 2008 Albert has produced his first white wine from the grapes Garnaxta Blanc and Roja, Macabeu and Pansal.   To the layperson that is white and pink Grenache, Macabeo (which is called Viura in Rioja) and Pansal which goes by the synonym of  Xarel-lo, a local Catalan variety often found in Cava.

There is a reason why Decanter Magazine gave this wine a 17.5 Points (out of 20).  It combines beautifully pure citrus aromas with hints of vanilla and mineral.  The best part is the texture, which gives you body and a silky quality with good acidity, and a long, balanced finish.  This is a terrific wine to drink on its or with a wide array of foods.  You will find this on my dinner table pairing with scallops, and yes, I’m bringing this to Thanksgiving to pair with the big bird!

Do not miss this!  Only 14 cases came into Chicago.
$18.99 BTL. / $113.94 SIX-PACK


The debate is on!  In 2004 the region of Barolo enjoyed a great vintage, so much so that many fans stocked up on the wines for their cellars.  It may be time to do it all over again, because ’05 appears to be another excellent vintage.

One of the most historic wineries in the region is that of Renato Ratti.  Based in La Morra, the winery traces its roots back to the late 1960’s.  While this doesn’t make this the oldest winery, its founder Renato Ratti is considered one of the most influential people in the history of the region.  Ratti was one of the first to produce a single vineyard wine in the region.  He also is famous for mapping the famous vineyards, to help promote and gain recognition for these prime spots.  Finally along with his nephew, Massimo Martinelli, he helped to start the trend of shorter maceration times and less time in oak.  Some view this as a “modern” approach, but what it did was soften the tannic blow of Nebbiolo and make the wines have better balance.

Today I offer two exceptional Baroli from Pietro Ratti, its current winemaker and director. These will go fast due to this producer’s big following!


This terrific expression of Nebbiolo comes from the zone of Marcenasco located near the village of La Morra.  The grapes comes from a collection of vineyards within the area.  The vineyards lie in several directions giving Ratti good flexibility in blending.

Ratti prefers to do only about 8 to 10 days of skin contact in stainless steel tank.  That is also where fermentation occurs before it is moved to a mixture of large Slovenian oak casks and used smaller barrels.

This received a big score from the Wine Spectator and at this price-point, it will fly out the door.

“This fabulous Nebbiolo displays aromas of very ripe strawberry and cappuccino. Full-bodied, with super velvety tannins and incredible concentration.  All the tannins are coated with gorgeous fruit.  Best after 2013.  96 Points, Wine Spectator.”  50,000 bottles produced.


Within the sub-zone of Marcenasco, is one of the very special vineyards in all of Piedmont.  While there is no recognized “Cru” rating system in Piedmont, most agree that there are 20 “Grand Cru’s” in the region.  Rocche is certainly one of those prized vineyards.  This South and Southwest facing vineyard has the classic Tortonian soil of the area. This blue-ish marl soil has some white sand towards the top which forces the vines to dig deeper.

The Ratti vines in Rocche average 50 years old, and because of that the yields are very low.  Vinification is different with Rocche, with shorter maceration, fermentation in wood, and one year of aging in French oak barriques before being moved to Slovenian oak for the second year.

A scant 6,000 bottles of this brilliant Barolo are produced.  Not that scores make a lot of sense, but this also got a 96 Points from the Wine Spectator, the same as the Marcenasco.  There is a big difference between the two.  The “Rocche” is a wine in need of time.  Ultimately with bottle age it will reveal secondary aromas of roses, licorice, truffle, and red and black fruits.  If there ever was such a thing as a sure thing for the cellar, a great Barolo like this is!  Drink 2013-2028.


Welcome back Alois!  This important estate located in the Campania region of Southern Italy is owned by the Alois family.  The family is well known throughout the world for their work as manufacturers of fine silk fabric.  This fabric covers furniture in places like the Vatican and White House.

With their success they have looked to restore an old farmhouse and its adjacent vineyards.  The family is very committed to working with local varieties like Aglianico and Falanghina, while at the same time bringing back ancient varieties that were on the verge of extinction like Pallagrello Bianco and Rosso, and Casavecchia.

So why the welcome back?  For the past couple years this wine was in the hands of the wrong people in the distribution chain.  The wines were poorly treated, and current vintages lagged behind.  Now under a new importer and distributor, you can experience an Alois wine the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

This absolutely delicious example of Aglianico comes from Alois estate vineyards, all decomposed volcanic soil.  The grapes are macerated with their skins for fourteen days in stainless steel tank, and then fermented in those tanks. A short 4-6 month resting period in large oak casks, helps frame the wine perfectly.

While Aglianico can be a super full-bodied grape varietal, this version I categorize in the more easy drinking style.  But that doesn’t limit its complexity, because this wine oozes with it.  Gorgeous aromatics with hints at lavender, licorice, mineral, and blackberries on the nose.  Silky but with medium weight on the palate, this comes at you in waves.  This calls out for a braised pork shoulder, simply prepared rack of lamb, or for a more simple dinner combined with some good cured meats and hard sheep milk cheese. This is a tremendous value.
$17.99 BTL. / $215.88 CASE


Good old Mr. Parker has done it again.  On his second release of his Southern Rhône issue covering the much exalted ’07’s he re-reviewed a few wines giving them big, whopping scores.  It is amazing how much power one voice has, but it should be reported that because of the issue many of the highest scoring wines are disappearing.  I was able to get a little more of two highly rated wines…so it’s time to say last call!  Get them while they are still here, and while they are still fairly priced.

If you love Châteauneuf-du-Pape then it is kind of difficult to not like this red example from Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe. While many producers in the region make several cuvée’s, the Brunier family keeps things simple on this estate by making only two reds and two white wines.

“La Crau,” the name prominently posted on the label of Vieux Télégraphe refers to their vineyard on a plateau, which sits higher than any others in the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  The vineyards famous galets, or large stones along with the vineyards excellent exposition on the plateau, result in a rich style red.

“The 2007 Vieux Telegraphe may be the greatest wine made at this property since the 2005 and 1998. Dense ruby/purple-tinged with an exquisite nose of salty sea breezes, licorice, ground pepper, jammy black cherries, black currants, figs, and plums, this is a full-bodied, rich, Provencal-styled offering with lots of sweet, ripe tannin. It is surprisingly accessible for a Vieux Telegraphe (this wine normally shuts down several years after bottling), but it should have great longevity (25+ years) given its power, full-bodied mouth feel, and enormous length and richness. This is a brilliant effort from brothers Frederic and Daniel Brunier.  96+ Points, Robert Parker.”


For a long time this has been one of my absolute favorite estates in the Rhône Valley of France.  The Sabon’s make several different wines from their estate vineyards, going from strength to strength.  I have one last case of this beautiful wine, so have at it!

“The opaque purple-hued 2007 Cotes du Rhône -Villages Terre d’Argile (a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvèdre) reveals a big, sweet perfume of creosote, licorice, blackberries, and kirsch. Full-bodied with layers of fruit and a remarkably long finish, it can be enjoyed now and over the next 4-6 years.  91 Points, Robert Parker”
$23.99 BTL. / $287.88 CASE – ONLY ONE CASE LEFT


With the whole wine world in love with the Malbec’s of Argentina, it is time to re-discover one of the oldest appellations in the world for the varietal, Cahors.  The region of Cahors lies in Southwest France along both banks of the river Lot.

Malbec comes in all shapes and sizes in Cahors.  With vineyards lying low in the valley and higher up on the plateau, their is a range of styles.  One thing many well made examples of Cahors have is an underlying minerality to them due to the high proportion of iron oxide in the soil.

Cahors must be a minimum of 70% of Malbec, with Tannat and Merlot often blended in.  The best producers tend to run that percentage a little higher.

Speaking of producers, if this is your first time you are every trying a Cahors, you are starting with the best by purchasing a bottle of Château du Cèdre.  Owned by the Verhaege family, their 24 hectare estate is dedicated to low yields and high quality production, not something that always existed in the appellation.

A range of wines are made at du Cèdre, and recently when I was placing an order for another wine from Martine’s Imports, I decided to tack on a case to my order.  This is just a fabulous example of Malbec, and will surprise those that are used to the more fruity style of Argentina.

Packed with notes of cassis, tobacco, mineral, and herbs and spices on the nose and palate.  Expect a structured, mouth full of wine that will have some serious tannins.  Because it is a big wine, I would suggest a classic pairing with duck or perhaps a whole roasted beef tenderloin.
$26.99 BTL. / $323.88 CASE


Sometimes wines are anointed.  Especially in the world of cult California reds.  A perfect example is this wine, Ovid, a “Bordeaux blend” that has been featured by many publications as a new cult wine in the California wine scene.

2005 was the first vintage and based on who was involved, where the vines are, not to mention the hype, I was able to offer a three-pack to my customers, as well as one magnum.  I hadn’t tasted it, but yet still sold it, something I almost never do.

A few months afterwards, one of Ovid’s owners came to Chicago along with the wineries general manager.  I give them lots of credit, because most wineries would rest on their press, and never open up bottles and explain what the wine was all about.  But I was one of the few that got the chance to hear the story, and most importantly taste the wine.

Now the Ovid team is back with their ’06 vintage, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this wine to my customers.  I still have one three pack to over along with a magnum, but if you are in to the best of California, I would put this up there.

Oakville fruit, perfectly grown in a David Abreu planted vineyard.  The wine is made by Andy Erickson.  Stylistically the wine has the opulent fruit that you would expect from Oakville, but having tasted it I can say that it has incredible layers of flavor and amazing complexity. It also happens to taste really good young, but of course can age for a great deal of time.  Here is a one time chance to get one of the gems of Napa Valley.


A few weeks ago you heard me extol the virtues of Clusel-Roch, one of the best producers of Côte-Rôtie in the Northern Rhône Valley. What I didn’t tell you at the time was that I was going to get some of their tiny production, single vineyard wine from “Grandes Places.”

Around 2500 bottles per vintage are made of this incredibly elegant Syrah, and each year I go to great lengths to get it.

There is no real need for a long descriptor here because those of you who know great Côte-Rôtie will know that this is a special opportunity.  Two vintages are available, both terrific vintages meant for the cellar.  So grab a few bottles while they are around.  This stuff really is the “Grand Cru Burgundy” of Côte-Rôtie.

“Dark red. Intense spice- and mineral-accented cherry and plum aromas, with intriguing tobacco and graphite accents. Very sweet in the mouth, with an intense raspberry flavor, notes of cured tobacco and mocha and velvety, smooth tannins. An impressively pure Côte-Rôtie, with gentle acidity driving the refined, very long, fruit-dominated finish. 93 points. Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”


Inky ruby. Impressively perfumed aromas of ripe boysenberry and candied cherry, along with smoky floral and mineral qualities. Palate-staining dark fruit flavors are almost shockingly vibrant, thanks to excellent mineral cut and sneaky floral pastille character. Dusty tannins add grip to the long, sweet finish. A wonderfully balanced wine, and sure to repay cellaring. 92 points, Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar.”

Craig Perman
Perman Wine Selections
802 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone 312-666-4417
Fax 312-666-4487

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