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Heavy Rotations

To start for our first club offering, we're taking a complete trip around the world to showcase what some of the coolest winemakers and growers are doing to always up their game.

Archived Selections

June 2021

NV

Jeaunaux Robin Éclats de Meulière Extra Brut

CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Jeaunaux

Truly a treasure, this tiny family domain was founded in 1964 by Michel & Marie-Claude Jeaunaux and is now run by husband and wife Cyril & Clémence Jeaunaux-Robin. The estate is only 5.7 ha, with vineyards beginning at the end of the family garden, just behind the children’s trampoline, where the grass of the lawn merges into the grass between rows of vines. With the proximity of the vineyards to the family home, it’s no surprise that they’ve been fully biody-namic since 2010 and organic for far longer.

Jeaunaux-Robin is located in the village of Talus Saint-Prix in La Vallée du Petit Morin, so named for the Le Petit Morin river (a tributary of the Marne), at the very southern tip of the Cote des Blancs. The entire village has only 39 ha of vineyards planted on south facing slopes . La Vallée du Petit Morin is known for its flint-rich, silex soil which imparts unmistakable texture and minerality to the wines. Average vine age on the family’s property is 40 years, which is ancient by Champagne standards and only increases the depth and richness of the wines.

Jeaunaux-Robin produces only about 40k bottles in their tiny cellar. There are two basket presses in the garage and grape must flows by gravity into settling tanks under the back door and into the winery beneath the house. Cyril uses old oak barrels to vinify around a quarter of the wines, with malolactic fermenta-tion, with the rest in stainless steel, also with malo.

“I was impressed by these releases from Jeaunaux-Robin, a producer in the Vallée du Petit Morin hitherto unknown to me. Their 5.7 hectares of vines are in the process of organic certification, and around a quarter of the base wines are fermented in used barrels, with the balance vinified in stainless steel. These are intense, flinty wines with the ripeness and concentration to sustain their low dosage, and I look forward to visiting soon.”  -William Kelley, Issue #242 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate - “Champagne: Recent and Forthcoming Releases” April 2019

2018

Bevan Cellars “Dry Stack Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc

BENNETT VALLEY

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Beven Cellars

“Back in 1995, when Victoria and I started dating in Des Moines, our favorite game was “Guess the Wine.” We would take turns bringing a blind wine and make the other person guess the varietal and region. When I look back on those dates, there is little mystery about how we arrived where we are today.

Soon after that, we moved to Minneapolis and fell in with a group of wine lovers whose passion and knowledge fanned our flame. We started taking regular trips to wine country in California, where we met many of the finest winemakers. We were so inspired by them that to this day we follow many of their principles. We learned first-hand about Philip Togni’s attention to every minute detail…. Saw how Bob Foley would only pick fruit if his palate — not some lab test — told him it was time… Heard Greg La Follette telling us how careful you have to be when making decisions in the winery because even the smallest decision has an impact on the final wine. Our conversations still reverberate with me whether I am at a vineyard or in the winery.

Soon enough we were searching for property in our native California. Victoria spent three years trying to find the right site. Finally, she found her dream home on eight acres of land in Bennett Valley, just a few miles from where I grew up. It only took one visit by Kal Showket to plant the seed that led to our estate vineyard. Little did we know that Kal would be key to many of the major changes in our lives from that point on. Later that year, the Showket’s gave us a ton of Cabernet Sauvignon from their best block to see if we would enjoy winemaking.

When that ton of fruit arrived at the winery, we had a dozen friends help us sort the grapes. For fifteen hours we worked, examining each grape by hand and sorting them into three groups: plump and juicy, dimpled, and very ripe. We fermented each batch separately. Tasting the lots two days later, the differences were staggering. The hook was set.”  –Russell Bevan and Victoria De Crescenzo

2017

Le Cadeau Diversite Pinot Noir

WILLAMETTE, OR

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Le Cadeau

Founders Deb and Tom Mortimer began looking for Willamette Valley property in 1996. A year later they found an uncultivated parcel on the south slope of Parrett Mountain, just a few miles east of Newberg, Oregon, in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.

Ten acres were cleared in 1997 and eleven acres in 1998. An incredible view south to Salem and the Eola hills emerged.

In 1999, six acres of Pinot noir were planted. The initial plantings included roughly 1.75 acres each of Pommard and Dijon clones 667 and 777. A ¾-acre mixed-clone block of Mariafeld (a Swiss Pinot noir clone), Pommard, and Dijon clones 777, 113, and 115 was also planted. Subsequent plantings of Pommard and assorted heritage clones from California increased the size of the vineyard to its current sixteen acres.

From the beginning, the character of Le Cadeau Vineyard was apparent. The aromatics were fresh and intense. The fruit flavors were pure and deep. There were hints of Asian spices mingled with an earthiness not often found in young Pinot noir wines. Those core characteristics remain today, regardless of the vintage or the winemaking.

Truly extraordinary winemakers from Oregon and beyond have collaborated with Le Cadeau and made excellent wines, but increasingly the adage rings true: Great Pinot noir is made in the vineyard. New clones and rootstocks have been added while farming practices have been pushed to ever-higher standards. As we move into our second decade of winegrowing in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we’re confident that our best wines are yet to come.

Le Cadeau Vineyard is located on the southern tip of Parrett Mountain near Newberg, Oregon, in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. The 16-acre, high-elevation (610’ – 725’) vineyard was developed and planted with the singular focus of growing distinct and complex Pinot noir.

The vineyard has many slope aspects and soil types that result in a range of microclimates. For the most part, the vineyard soil is in the Jory/Nekia/Witzel series, with Witzel (a very shallow, broken basalt) as the predominant type. However, the soil on the east side has considerable organic material resembling a cross between Jory and Willakenzie.

In planting the vineyard, we’ve attempted to match rootstocks and Pinot noir clones to soils, slope aspect, and microclimate. At this time, fourteen clones of Pinot noir are represented among our plantings, along with five rootstocks. Each Le Cadeau cuveé is made from sections of the vineyard that are of specific soil types, slope aspect, and Pinot noir clones.

2017

Domaine Paul Autard Chateauneuf du Pape

France

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Jean-Paul Autard

Jean-Paul Autard carries on the tradition established by Paul Autard when he founded the domaine in the village of Courthézon in the 1970’s. He took over very early, at 17 year old, after his father passed away. His daughter Pauline now works with him.

Autard has 26 hectares of vines, of which 12 are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 14 in Côtes-du-Rhône (located at the border of the Châteauneuf appellation in Courthézon.) The aging cellar is a massive, vaulted cave cut into sandstone rock, housing the domaine’s barriques. The Autards feel privileged to have inherited a domaine in which the plantations of different varieties are perfectly adapted to the soil types – ranging from galets roulés, pebble and clay, to sandy-clay. They aim to get the most out of each variety by vinifying separately and then blending judiciously. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. After the malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to barriques for aging, about one third of which are new for the regular cuvée of Châteauneuf and 100% new for La Côte Ronde and Juline. Since 2004, Jean-Paul has been working in his new state-of-the-art winery, which allows him greatly enhanced control over all phases of winemaking, and a concomitant increase in quality. His unique style, fusing elegance, balance and generously expressive Châteauneuf-du-Pape flavor, has won his wines an international following.

Farming/vinification practices: sustainable farming. Jean-Paul aims to achieve a perfect balance between the soil and the vine. He does not need to green harvest because his vines are on average over 50 year old. The vines’ age, together with the limited use of only organic fertilizer, naturally ensures low yields and concentrated, balanced fruit. No pesticides, chemical anti-rot products or fertilizers are used. The health of the vineyard is ensured by meticulous work by hand, such as the removal in May and June of unessential shoots and leaves that would block the proper aeration of the vines. Jean-Paul is able to eliminate the possibility of problems such as rot and mildew by not allowing humidity to remain on the grapes and leaves. In a few years, he and Pauline will start uprooting some vines to replant 5% to 10% every year. Indigenous yeasts are used most of the time, but inoculation may be required in a difficult vintage. The grapes are 100% destemmed. The wines are vegan.

In case you missed it, here's the recording from our June Virtual tasting. 

May 2021

2017

Henri Gouges Bourgogne Pinot Blanc

BURGUNDY

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Henri Gouges

The creation of Domaine Henri Gouges was the culmination of 400 years of family grape farmers, and it is, in many minds, the top domaine in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Henri formed the domaine in 1920 but was soon discouraged with selling the fruit to négociants. He envisioned a better quality wine, and by 1933, he was producing, bottling, and selling directly. He, along with the Marquis d’Angerville from Volnay, was at the forefront of battles against fraud in Burgundy in the 1920s. In the 1930s, Monsieur Gouges was one of the people charged with the job of delineating the crus in Burgundy for the Institut National d’Appellation d’Origine, and he was a member of that regulatory body at its outset. Since the beginning, the domaine has remained an undivided family property. In 1967 Henri’s two sons, Michel and Marcel, succeeded him and added to the holdings of the estate. Each of them handed leadership over to one of their sons to bring the domaine to the next stage. Pierre and Christian began the modernization of the vineyards and the winery, which they have now turned over to Pierre’s son, Gregory, and his cousin, Antoine. While the house style has evolved, the main focus is the better reflection of the terroir in the fruit through organic viticulture. They believe that healthy vines produce quality fruit and thus more expressive terroir-driven wines.

2015

Palacios Remondo "Propiedad" Vina Viejas

RIOJA

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Alvaro Palacios

If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of “The New Spain,” it is winemaker Alvaro Palacios. Born into a wine family in Rioja, he now makes wine in three different appellations: Priorat, Bierzo, and his hometown of Alfaro in Rioja. Alvaro’s flagship Priorat wine, L’Ermita, is one of the most coveted wines in all of Spain. Following his great successes in Priorat and Bierzo during the 1990s, and the death of his father in 2000, Alvaro Palacios took the helm of Palacios Remondo, his family’s property and winery in Rioja Baja.

The Palacios Remondo Estate and vineyards are located at high elevations in the eastern part of the region: Rioja Oriental. Historically, Garnacha is the dominant red grape in Rioja Oriental, while Tempranillo and the white grape Viura play supporting roles. Alvaro’s passion for staying true to the tradition of the land inspires him to focus on Garnacha-driven wines that are expressive and authentic to the Eastern Rioja region. La Montesa, Propiedad, Plácet Valtomelloso and La Vendimia are among the very finest of Rioja Oriental, full-bodied wines with aromas of Mediterranean herbs, cherries and nectarines, and flavors of mixed berries and blood oranges on the palate.

Palacios is deeply committed to organic viticulture and natural winemaking practices, such as use of organic fertilizers in the stone-covered, clay soils. All of the wines are unfiltered and clarified only with egg whites. No exogenous yeasts or commercial compounds are added to the wines, and sulfites are kept to minimum levels.

2011

Tolaini Picconero

Tuscany

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Pier Luigi Tolaini

Pier Luigi Tolaini, a native of Tuscany, immigrated to Canada in 1956. He planned to work for a few years, make some money, then go back home, buy a farm, marry his high school sweetheart and make some good wine... and not with his feet this time! It took Pierluigi 45 years before he returned with a clear vision of the high quality wine he wanted to make: one of Italy's best, no less. In 1998 he returned to his native land and purchased some of the best land in the region of Chianti Classico in the noted commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga. He constructed, from the roots up, this state-of-the-art winery and brought together the best technology and winemakers to bring to light wines that would be a true expression of this significant region. Pier Luigi hired famed enologist Michel Rolland and Tuscan agronomist Andrea Paoletti, who put together a team that share Pierluigi's vision - to make the best wines possible with one vitally unique ingredient - the terroir of Chianti Classico's southern most commune: Castelnuovo Berardenga . A true marriage of tradition and modern technology. The belief in the "best fruit produces the best wine" is the fundamental principal of the Tolaini estate. High density planting per hectare and low yield per plant is a proven strategy worldwide in producing excellent quality fruit. With up to 8,300 plants per hectare in the less hilly vineyards, drip irrigation for each plant, and two green harvests to pre-select the healthiest and most promising bunches on the vine, the Tolaini property produces fruit of unsurpassable quality. This fruit is evident in every mouthful of the estate's five incredible red wines.

Ruggero Mazzilli is Tolaini's consulting agronomist and is based in Gaiole in Chianti where he is the owner and founder of SPEVIS (The Experimental Station for Sustainable Viticulture). Under Ruggero's supervision Panzano in Chianti became the first Bio-Distretto (Organic District) in the world, immediately followed by San Gimignano and Gaiole in Chianti. SPEVIS works with the best scientific research institutes to find new solutions to practical vineyard issues by following the principles of organic agriculture and respectful environmental practices. With Ruggero as part of the team, Tolaini will continue to cultivate the maximum expression of Chianti Classico terroir while farming organically and sustainably.

Like the vineyards surrounding it, the winery at Tolaini Estate is an expression of both old and new. An optical sorter guarantees that only the healthy whole grapes make it into the fermentation vats. The best grapes from each harvest are fermented in open-top fermenters made of French Allier oak (12 units of 4500 liter capacity), a time-proven touch that increases the complexity in the wines. The generous array of tank sizes allows for individual parcels of grapes to be fermented and stored separately. These batches are kept apart through subsequent barrel aging in new French oak before blending. Today Luca D'Attoma is the consulting oenologist and his hand is apparent starting with the 2015 vintage of Tolaini.

Tolaini wines are known internationally for their impeccable quality and incredible taste. With each new vintage they continue to innovate and impress.

April 2021

2018

Thibaud Boudignon Anjou Blanc

CHAMPAGNE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Thibaud Boudignon

Thibaud Boudignon is unquestionably one of the most exciting figures in wine today. Originally from Bordeaux, he honed his winemaking craft while working at Philipe Charlopin in Gevrey-Chambertin during the early 2000s. He was shortly thereafter hired by Savennières producer Chateau Soucherie to be their winemaker in the late 2000s. His first and most important contribution to the estate was the introduction of strict organic practices in the vineyards which, along with his immense winemaking skills, elevated this already historic domaine to new heights. It was in 2009 that he began to make wine under his own name from a scant 3.5 ha in the heart of Anjou and Savennieres. Knowing that the quality of his fruit was of most importance, he committed himself absolutely to the health of his vines, choosing to farm organically and spend the majority of his time in the vineyards. His devotion paid off quickly, for in just a few vintages, his name began to circulate among Loire growers, eventually to top restaurants in Paris, and finally overseas. The speed at which he has garnered so much praise speaks to the remarkable quality of his wines.

2020

Ochota Barrels Texture Like Sun

NAPA VALLEY

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Ochota Barrels

The Ochota Barrels tale began on a surf trip, late 2000 along the Mexican west coast in a Volkswagen campervan. A final destination after traveling some of the world’s best wine and surf regions, Taras and Amber Ochota conceived the idea to make super premium wines back home in South Australia. The concept was to concentrate on the zenith variety of Mclaren Vale (Grenache) and the Barossa Valley (Shiraz), find an exceptional old vineyard site in each region and create plush, small batch, single vineyard wines. With the winery situated in Lenswood, and steep, high altutude, cool climate, north facing Burgundian cloned Chardonnay over a rock base of quartz and ironstone, at 1,800 feet above sea level......hello!!!?

As an Oenology graduate from Adelaide University, Taras developed his craft at wineries such as Two Hands and MSV in the Barossa Valley, renowned for world class Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro. Prior to this, Taras was at Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills, who have achieved numerous accolades such as ‘Best Chardonnay in the World’ at the London International Wine Fair.

More recently he worked as the European Flying Winemaker, concentrating on the Italian regions, Puglia and Sicily, for the Swedish wine importing company, Oenoforos.

California has also been a regular vintage destination of his, making wines with producers such as Kunin, Bonnacorsi, Arcadian, Schrader, Outpost and the famous Hitching Post’s label, Hartley-Ostini, from the movie ‘Sideways’.

2016

Michel Niellon Chassagne Montrachet Clos St Jean 1er Cru Rouge

BURGUNDY

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Michel Niellon

Michel Niellon, who began working with his father Marcel in the 1950's, has crafted more than 50 vintages of extraordinary wines. The father-son team began domaine-bottling in the 1960’s and soon after, their 4-hectare estate was considered one of the very best in the village. Since 1991, Michel has shared vineyard and winemaking duties with his son-in-law, Michel Coutoux. Recently, Michel’s grandson Mathieu Bresson joined the winery as well. Today the winery has 7.5 hectares of vines, all in Chassagne-Montrachet. “We plow the vineyards for weed control and don’t use herbicides. For pest and mildew control, we practice lutte raisonnée,” explains Coutoux.

Niellon does not like to wait too long before harvesting the grapes: it is preferable, he says to pick earlier rather than later. “We take acidity into consideration first. Often we are the first in the village to pick at harvest time,” Niellon. Fermentations happen spontaneously in stainless steel tanks. After the primary fermentation, the wine is moved to barrels for malolactic and aging. About 25% of the barrels are new and the total amount of new oak ranges from 20-30% depending on the cuvée. Niellon is a benchmark producer in the village of Chassagne and the wines have a classic style, expressing the terroir of each vineyard, striking a balance of crisp minerality with rich and ripe fruit.

2017

Domaine Des 3 Cellier Alchimie Châteauneuf-du-Pape

SOUTHERN RHÔNE, FRANCE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Domain des 3 Cellier

Domaine des 3 Cellier is like many of the best estates in the Southern Rhone, a family affair. In fact, Domaine de Cellier takes its name from the three brothers running the estate, Ludovic Celliers, Julien Celliers and Benoit Celliers.
However, while Domaine des 3 Cellier is a new estate in Chateauneuf du Pape, (Their debut vintage was in 2007) the Celliers family has been active in making wine for 8 generations!

Domaine des 3 Cellier was born when another Chateauneuf du Pape was split up, Domaine Saint Benoit in 2007. Domaine Saint Benoit was split into two parts with 50% of the property going into Domaine l’Or de Line and the remaining portion was used to create Domaine des 3 Cellier.

Domaine des 3 Cellier owns 13.4 hectares of vines in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation. The vineyards are farmed with an aim to completely embrace sustainable farming techniques. On average, the vines are close to 45 years of age. Their vineyards are planted to 68% Grenache, 11% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, 4% Clairette, 3% Counoise, 3% Terret Noir, and 2% Vaccarese for the red wines.

For the grapes used to produce their white wine, the vineyards are planted to 100% Roussanne.

March 2021

NV

A.R. Lenoble “Terroir” Brut Rose

CHAMPAGNE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

AR Lenoble 

AR Lenoble is one of the rare houses in Champagne that has remained 100% family-owned since its foundation. Armand-Raphaël Graser, a native of Alsace, arrived in Champagne in 1915 in the middle of the first world war. He purchased a house that was built in 1772 in the village of Damery, located between Epernay and Hautvillers, and started making champagne there in 1920. Anne and Antoine Malassagne, sister and brother, are the great-grandchildren of founder Armand-Raphaël Graser. Anne took over from her father in 1993 and was joined by her brother Antoine in 1996.

AR Lenoble has always been 100% independent since it was founded in 1920, nearly 100 years ago! Not a single investor or shareholder of any kind has ever been involved in the business. This enables AR Lenoble to guarantee complete stability and coherency in the strategy of the house.

Antoine Malassagne, is the fourth generation to completely own and manage AR Lenoble. His first vintage was 1996. He made the decision to start conserving their reserve wines in 225-litre barrels using the principle of the “perpetual reserve” . A few years later, they invested in 5,000-litre casks to allow for an ageing process that was slower than in barrels. In these containers, reserve wines were able to obtain additional brightness and freshness.

Rose Terroirs is a blended Rose made with roughly 90% Chardonnay from Chouilly, Grand Cru from the Cote des Blancs and 10% de-stemmed Pinots Noirs from Bisseuil, Premier Cru from the Montagne de Reims. This champagne is one of the very rare Roses to combine elegance with the richness of red fruit aromas. The secret is a unique, highly original blend of roughly 90% Chardonnay Grand Cru and 10% Pinot Noir Premier Cru vinified as a red wine. Thanks to its unique blend our Rose champagne combines the power of the red-fruit aromas so typical of the Bisseuil Terroir with the elegance of the Chouilly Terroir. 

2013

Stony Hill Chardonnay

NAPA VALLEY

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Stony Hill Vineyard

The original Stony Hill Vineyard, located in Napa’s Spring Mountain AVA, was purchased by Fred and Eleanor McCrea back in the early 1940s. The first vines were planted in 1948 and by 1954 the couple already had a reputation for crafting fine Napa wines.

Fred and Eleanor took the original Chardonnay cuttings from the Wente vineyard in Livermore in 1948. The winery did one major Chardonnay replanting, in 1986, making the average age of their current vineyards approximately 30 years old.

When Fred passed in the late 1970s, assistant winemaker Mike Chelini took the winemaking reins, and he’s held on tight to those ropes for over 40 years now. The bulk of the business remains in the family, with Fred and Eleanor’s son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Willinda, running the day-to-day operations and with their daughter, Sarah, taking over as president as of 2011.

If Stony Hill wines had to be characterized in one word, it would be balance. The McCrea family aims to achieve a balance between the intensely flavored fruit from its hillside vineyards and the notable acidity that gives the wine structure and the aging potential for which it's been known for more than five decades. The winery's goal is simply to translate the intense fruitiness of our grapes into elegant, food friendly wines. To that end, grapes are crushed and pressed with minimum skin contact and fermented in neutral oak cooperage. The wine is aged in neutral oak barrels, most of which are over ten years old, allowing the wine to develop and mature without absorbing an oak flavor component that could mask the natural fruit flavors.

2013

Dominico Clerico "Pajana" Barolo DOCG

PIEDMONT

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Domenico Clerico

Domenico Clerico is one of the most well-respected legends in Barolo and his wines have long been celebrated for their extraordinary richness and striking aromatics. The estate is situated in Monforte d’Alba, right in the heart of Barolo, with outstanding vineyard holdings in four of the greatest crus of Monforte: Ginestra, Pajana, Mosconi, and Bussia. When Domenico first embarked on his great wine adventure in 1976, his priority was working among the vines, convinced that in order to make great wine one must care for the vineyard with love and dedication.

His passion and love for the land resulted in wines of the highest quality and exceptional character. Sadly, he passed away in July of 2017 after years of battling brain cancer. Though he has passed, his legend lives on and his strong winemaking team is only improving on what Domenico mastered. The estate is best known for his Nebbiolo based wines, however Domenico’s expression of both Dolcetto and Barbera are among the greatest wines made from these grape varietals.

Oscar Arrivabene now stands at the helm of the vineyards and cellar, having worked side by side with Domenico for the past five years. Working in some of the most coveted wine regions and cellars throughout Italy, Oscar has brought his knowledge and experience from outside of Piedmont and has helped to make significant adjustments and improvements in the winery and vineyards. As a team over the past years, Domenico and Oscar brought the wines to a level they have never been before. Today, as Oscar takes the winery forward, he carries on Domenico’s vision and dream of making pure wines that fully express the true character and potential of the land.

Clerico’s Barolos have been routinely outstanding (90 points or more), including topping Wine Spectator’s 2011 Top 100 Wines of the Year, with the Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 2006 coming in at No. 8.
Aged for 16 months barrique, constant tastings to select the best barrique, then assembling barrel. 16 months in barrel (50hL), 2+ years in bottle.

February 2021

2018

Domaine Huet Moelleux Le Mont

VOUVRAY, FRANCE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Domaine Huet 

Since its founding in 1928, Vouvray’s Domaine Huet has been the standard-bearer for great, age-worthy Chenin Blanc. And to this day, year after year, the estate produces some of the world’s most compelling white wines—and in a remarkable range that spans sparkling, dry, semi-dry, and breathtaking dessert styles.

Today, Domaine Huet may be making its most consistently great wines. As was one of the earliest adopters of biodynamic practices, and with years of experience working with the appellation's greatest terroirs, winemaker Jean-Bernard Berthome and his team are achieving a fascinating level of transparency, purity, and knife-edged balance in the wines.

Chenin Blanc has been identified with Vouvray since at least the 9th century, and many of its great vineyards were known by the 14th century. By those standards, the 80-year-old Huet estate is relatively young. Yet it was this youngster that established, once and for all, that Vouvray was capable of world-class quality.

The domaine’s founder, Victor Huët, was a Parisian bistro owner. However, with lungs and nerves shattered by his experiences in WWI, Victor re-settled to the town of Vouvray in France’s beautiful Loire Valley. He soon purchased the first of his great vineyards, Le Haut-Lieu, in 1928, and Domaine Huet was born.

Victor’s son Gaston (born 1910) worked with his father from the beginning, and assumed full charge by 1937. With an obsessive devotion to quality, and an engaging showman’s personality, Gaston built the Huet legacy over the next 55 years, despite spending five years in a German POW camp during World War II.

For all his salesmanship, Gaston understood clearly that quality must come first—and that quality started with great vineyards. His Haut-Lieu parcel, which lies on Vouvray’s “Première Côte” (or “first slope”), is home to virtually all of the appellation’s acknowledged grand cru vineyards.

As the estate prospered in the post-WWII era, Gaston secured two additional prime vineyards on the Première Côte that would ensure the domaine’s stature: Le Mont (purchased in 1957) and Clos du Bourg (farmed since 1953, purchased in 1963). Collectively, these three vineyards, and the wines made from them, account for Huet being the greatest of all Vouvray producers.

For many insiders, the argument over Vouvray’s greatest vineyard comes down to two sites: Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. Indisputably a grand cru vineyard, Le Mont enjoys a choice site on the Première Côte. With less clay and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont yields young wines of intense minerality. With age, the wines develop great length and finesse.

Purchased in 1957, Le Mont lies on the esteemed Premiere Côte. With less clay and more stone than Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont yields young wines of intense minerality. The wines are the estate's most reticent, but develop the strongest perfume with age.

The estate produces Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, or Moelleux 1ère Trie (“first selection”) from any of the three principal vineyards. The translation of “moelleux” is sweet, soft, tender, smooth and mellow, and is used to refer to a wine that’s only slightly sweet.

2018

Rene Rostaing "Ampodium"

COTE ROTIE

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

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Rene Rostaing

The story of the resurgence of the Northern Rhone has parallels to other now iconic wine regions - perhaps Piedmont most notably - that for many years languished in semi-obscurity among wine's cognoscenti. Like Barolo, the Northern Rhone was barely a blip in the greater wine world’s consciousness by the post-WWII era. During that time, historic vineyards were abandoned, or only worked on weekends while their owners made their living in nearby factories, or in other agriculture. It was only in the 1980s, as Guigal’s single-vineyard wines began to gain attention, that money began to return to this fabled region.

Of course, many growers returning to full-time winemaking brought with them modern winemaking tools and techniques. And, in rejecting the often-flawed wines of their poorer elders, they also lost much of the singular identity that classical heritage could tease from their “roasted slopes.” Inspired by the so-called fashions of the day, wines became cleaner, darker, oakier – and less uniquely Côte Rôtie (or Cornas, or Hermitage, for that matter).

Yet a few estates flatly rejected modernism and held true to Côte Rôtie’s historic character and techniques. So today, as collectors rediscover the glories of Marius Gentaz and his contemporaries, just a handful of estates - including Domaine Jamet and Domaine Rostaing – are making wines that evoke that earlier era.

The Rostaing estate dates to 1971 when René Rostaing– a Notary by trade – began tending a few plots of family vineyards. He had the perfect role model to guide him into a career of classical winemaking: Marius Gentaz, his uncle. Over the next few years, René took advantage not only of his uncle’s mentoring, but of historically low vineyard prices, to acquire a prized half acre each in the Côte Blonde and La Landonne lieux-dits.

And when he married, he acquired a second traditional role model, his father-in-law, Albert Dervieux. Dervieux retired in 1989 and Gentaz followed four years later, giving René a further ten acres of very old vines in some of the appellation’s top sites. This treasury of vineyards launched René’s estate into the stratosphere. The vineyard expansion also enabled René to quit his day job and to devote himself full time to winemaking. Over the next 25+ years, he crafted a sequence of masterful wines that honored the legacy of his illustrious forebearers.

In 2015, René’s son, Pierre, took the reins at an estate that boasts 20+ acres of some the finest vineyards in and around Côte Rôtie. Having grown up with tutelege of classical wines from this revered appellation, he has maintained his father’s deep reverence for Côte Rôtie’s traditions. Pierre was also able to experiment further through stages in Washington, California and in France.

In the vineyards, obviously all the work has to be done painstakingly by hand, given the steepness of the slopes. At harvest, the Rostaings endeavor to obtain mature fruit, but never to a degree of over-ripeness. For example, if you’re looking for 2003 or 2009 Northern Rhônes with no hint of sur-maturité, there are no better choices than Rostaing Côte Rôties.

In the cellar, René was never afraid to use technology if it would help him make even more authentic Côte Rôtie. So, in the late 1990s, René acquired horizontal, rotary fermentation tanks, though not for the same purpose as virtually everyone else. While modernists—most famously in Barolo—adopted these tanks to speed fermentations and capture more color and fruit, René adopted them to mimic the long, gentle macerations of his ancestors. The process has much the same effect as the cappello sommerso employed by many of Piedmont’s staunchest traditionalists, with the tanks often making just a single rotation per day, and total macerations lasting often 3-4 weeks

The Rostaings use up to 100% of the stems - believing they contribute to Côte Rôtie’s ineffable perfume as well as they texture and complexity that they provide. The wines enjoy a fairly long élevage in a mix of barrels and demi-muids so that no more than 10-15% of a given vintage sees new wood.
In sum, the Rostaing wines are among the very best of classic Côte Rôtie. They are wines of consistency and sophistication that are true to their origins. And with Pierre Rostaing now in day-to-day control, the future for this estate has never looked brighter.

The flagship red, Ampodium (formerly known as “Classique”), is assembled from parcels throughout Côte Rôtie. It is a terrific expression of the appellation, and by itself can rival some of the appellations best.

Traditional vinification, including wild yeast fermentation. Grapes are generally not destemmed. Maceration can vary from 7-20 days depending on vintage. Aged in a mix of 225 and 500 liter barrels (about 7% new).

2018

Barnett Vineyards Cabernet Franc

SPRING MOUNTAIN, NAPA

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Barnett Vineyards

Having grown up in Vancouver and Stockton respectively, Fiona and Hal Barnett became enamored with Napa Valley through frequent visits on the weekends. A vision began to form and they decided to purchase a 40-acre property located at the top of Spring Mountain Road in 1983. The first Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted the following year with the intent of producing small amounts of hand-crafted wines that would showcase the unique characteristics found in grapes cultivated on such challenging, high elevation terrain.

David Tate has been the winemaker at Barnett Vineyards for twelve complete vintages, beginning with 2007. Prior to working with Barnett, David was the assistant winemaker at Ridge Vineyards for five years atop Montebello in the Santa Cruz Mountains; his years with Ridge laid the groundwork for David's commitment to quality and understanding of what it takes to produce premium, world-class wine with a sense of place.

Due to the estate’s low yielding vineyard, it is critical to hand-harvest the vineyard vine-by-vine to ensure each cluster is picked at optimal ripeness. This manual work is additionally challenging on a 35º slope that is not conducive to any normal farm equipment.

To preserve the integrity of each individual vineyard block, the grapes are fermented separately in small batches. The “must” is punched down several times a day utilizing traditional techniques. This process maximizes the extended skin to juice contact providing added richness, flavor concentration, aromatics, and deep color extraction, while allowing the tannin levels to be micro-managed.

Only French oak barrels are used, with a preference to use between 65% and 100% new oak barrels and the balance being one to four year old barrels.

The majority of the vineyards are terraced on slopes that are 30 degrees or more. The original estate vines are over 30 years old and are planted on a 6x10 foot grid. In the past few years much of the original vineyard has undergone redevelopment and now vines are spaced at 4x4 feet. The topography is so steep and the plantings are so closely spaced that traditional farming methods such as tractors and disking are not possible. These vineyards are completely farmed by hand from bud break until harvest. The coastal fog, which covers the Napa valley floor many mornings during the growing season, seldom reaches the top of Spring Mountain thus giving our vineyards several hours of additional sunlight each day. The elevation keeps our temperatures an average of 8-10 degrees cooler all year which further results in later bud break and harvest than vineyards located at lower elevations.

December 2020

NV

Pierre Péters “Cuvee de Reserve” Brut

CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE

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Rodolphe Péters 

Rodolphe Péters took over the reins of this venerable estate in the southern Côte des Blancs in 2008, becoming the fourth generation to lead since the estate was founded in 1919, under the name Camille Péters. Today, Rodolphe holds 18 hectares of vineyards, predominantly in the grand cru of Les Mesnil-sur-Oger. Péters owns small holdings in several other grand crus (Oger, Avize and Cramant) but Les Mesnil-sur-Oger is where 45 of the 63 parcels he farms are located.

“For more than forty years, a mere percentage point separated Le Mesnil from Grand Cru status, and it wasn’t until 1985 that the promotion came, even though many saw the village as the best of them all. Those grapes which grow in a belt at a height of 160-220 meters provide the most elegant champagnes the world has tasted. The cru has a very Special Chardonnay clone which gives a penetrating bouquet even when the actual content in a cuvée is small. Mesnil’s wines are often shy and acidic when young only to explode in a burst of colour and sensational pleasures.

The always smiling and tremendously skillful François Péters controls 17.5 hectares, twelve of which lie in the very best parts of Le Mesnil. For several years grapes from the [80-year] old vines in Les Chétillons were included in the vintage wine, but nowadays they make a Cuvée Spéciale from grapes from this unique location. . . . The enthusiasm over this wine all over the world is huge—and that’s before anyone has had a chance to taste a mature bottle. Mesnil’s wines take a long time to mature, but champagne from Peters offers from the start an accessible fruitiness that resembles tangerine and a large portion of butterscotch and nut aromas. With age they become majestic and deep as a water well, full of coffee and walnut aromas and a fleeting vibrant exotic fruitiness. Pierre Péters is a hidden treasure of Champagne . . . and the prices are laughable considering the quality of the wines.”

-Richard Juhlin, 4000 Champagnes

“These are sleek, racy champagnes, expressing a classic character of Côte des Blancs chardonnay. They are marked by their fine acidity and prominent minerality, yet while they are always brisk and chalky, they are rarely austere, with the possible exception of certain vintages of the Cuvée Spéciale. All of the wines go through malolactic, due to their naturally high acidities. “We have a lot of acidity and a lot of minerality in all our wines,” says Rodolphe Péters. “We want to build the structure of our wines around both acidity and minerality, not acidity alone.

2017

Lignier-Michelot, Chambolle-Musigny, Vieilles Vignes

BURGUNDY, FRANCE

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Lignier-Michelot

Domaine Lignier-Michelot has been part of the landscape of Morey St. Denis since early in the twentieth century, but like so many of its neighbors throughout the Côte d’Or, during most of that time the domaine was content to sell off its entire production to négociants. The current head of this fine eight hectare domaine, Virgile Lignier, who joined his father Maurice at the domaine in 1992, is the fourth generation to run the family property, and was instrumental in the family beginning to offer their wines for sale in bottle. Not coincidently, 1992 was the first year that Domaine Lignier-Michelot began to estate bottle their wines and sell them directly. In the late 1990s Virgile succeeded his father as head of the domaine, with 2000 being the first vintage that he vinified completely on his own. Lignier-Michelot has holdings in Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertin at the villages level, a Morey St. Denis “Rue de Vergy” (also AC) and a bevy of top-notch Morey premier crus including parcels in the vineyards of Aux Charmes, Chenevery and Façonnières. Their fine lineup is rounded out by a parcel of vines in the grand cru of Clos de la Roche, bringing the domaine’s production to approximately one thousand cases per year.

Monsieur Lignier is blessed with a number of old vine parcels scattered throughout his holdings in these three villages. They include a parcel of fifty year-old vines in Chambolle-Musigny from which they make their Chambolle “Vieilles Vignes” bottling, and all three premier cru Moreys, whose vines are all in the fifty-five to sixty year-old range. There is a section of their Clos de la Roche that is in forty year-old vines, but the lion’s share is planted on fifteen year-old vines that are just now beginning to really come into their own. With careful husbandry in the vineyard and short pruning in the winter, Virgile is able to produce a wine of great depth and complexity from these younger vines, so that the domaine’s Clos de la Roche is regularly ranked amongst the very finest examples of this great grand cru.

Virgile Lignier is meticulous in the vineyards, where he routinely prunes aggressively to limit yields, and seeks to be as natural as possible when confronting viticultural challenges in the vineyard. His goal is that which was often stated by Henri Jayer: to produce the finest fruit possible from which to work with so that the wine can make itself as much as is possible. He completely de-stems the grapes and allows the cool must to macerate for five or six days prior to the onset of fermentation (again, à la Monsieur Jayer). The wines are then aged in varying percentages of new oak for a year to fifteen months (village wines see about twenty percent new wood, premier crus about one-third, and the Clos de la Roche is raised in anywhere from eighty to one hundred percent new oak, depending on the quality of the vintage), racked into tank for another three months to allow the wines to fall brilliant, and are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

The style of the Lignier-Michelot wines is dramatic and opulent, with sappy cores of fruit, excellent expressions of terroir, and the balance and structure to allow graceful aging in the cellar. The very fine village Gevrey and Chambolle are delicious out of the blocks, as both wines share a purity of fruit and just the right amount of oak. The Morey St. Denis “Rue de Vergy” hails from a beautifully situated vineyard up above the grand cru Clos de Tart on the slope. The Chambolle “Vieilles Vignes” bottling is deeper and more structured than the straight Chambolle AC, with premier cru depth and complexity coupled to an almost creamy palate impression in generous vintages. All three Morey premier crus are classic examples, with a fleshy personality, lovely depth of black fruit, complex expressions of soil, and the ability to both delight the palate early and age well for ten to fifteen years. Of the three, the Façonnières is probably the most age-worthy and in need of at least a few years of bottle age prior to drinking. Virgile Lignier’s Clos de la Roche is one of the benchmark examples of the vineyard, with a sumptuous palate impression and a fine expression of soil nicely framed by a judicious framing of toasty oak. It ages extremely well, but seldom demands more than five or six years of cellaring before really blossoming and beginning to drink brilliantly. All in all this is one of the top domaines in Morey St. Denis. The relatively recent history of selling all their production in bottle has kept the domaine’s profile relatively low key at the present time, which translates into outstanding opportunities for good value.

2016

Nervi Gattinara

PIEDMONT DOCG, ITALY

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Nervi

Nervi is a historic, benchmark Gattinara producer possessing some of the most prized vineyard holdings in all of the appellation. The winery was founded in 1906 by Italo Nervi and is the oldest Cantina in Gattinara, though many of the vineyards had already been in the family dating back as far as 1679. The estate comprises 28.5 hectares of vineyards including their top crus of Molsino and Valferana as well as Garavoglie and Casacce. These are historic crus in Gattinara – mentions of Molsino in town records date as far back as 1471 and those of Valferana date back to 1231!

The Nervi family built up the reputation of the estate, running it continually until 1991 when a steel magnate named Germano Bocciolone purchased the estate. Twenty years later, a group of Norwegian investors led by a passionate wine collector, Erling Astrup, purchased the winery. Astrup endeavored to push the level of quality at Nervi and sought out advice from his longtime friend Roberto Conterno. In 2018, the group decided to sell the winery and, wanting to see it fall into good hands, felt it was best to offer it first to Roberto Conterno. While Roberto had not been actively seeking out a new winery, the opportunity to acquire such an historic estate with great vineyard holdings of Nebbiolo was too hard to pass up. Roberto’s aim, along with his sons, is to apply the same fastidious attention to detail and quality to the wines of Nervi as he does to those of the Giacomo Conterno estate. The wines are already traditional, pure and age-worthy and they are surely only going to get better from here!

Gattinara was awarded DOC status in 1967, and later upgraded to DOCG in 1990. According to David Lynch and Joe Bastianich’s book, Vino Italiano, “Gattinara represents the purest expression of the northern [Piedmont] zones.” The soil in Gattinara is composed largely of volcanic gravel – remnants of an extinct super volcano which collapsed 280 million years ago. The gravel is rich in minerals (iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese) and clay. This volcanic soil imbues a distinct minerality which sets them apart from the neighboring appellations of Ghemme, Lessona and Bramaterra.

The winery focuses on three Gattinara bottlings – Gattinara, Gattinara Molsino and Gattinara Valferana. The single-vineyard bottlings contain the best fruit from those vineyards whereas the third bottling contains the best fruit from Garavoglie and Casacce as well as some wine declassified from Molsino and Valferana. The Gattinara spends a minimum of 3 years in large oak whereas both crus see at least four years in large oak. In addition the three Gattinara, they make a delicious rosato from Nebbiolo with a touch of Uva Rara

November 2020

2018

Jean-Philippe Fichet, Rully Blanc

Burgundy

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Jean-Philippe Fichet

In the early 19th century, Meursault was esteemed above all other Burgundy villages for its white wines—a respect rooted in the unparalleled diversity of its soils. But later in the same century, the rise of Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne pushed Meursault from the limelight.

Today, Meursault is back on top, and a new generation of winemakers is capitalizing on its diverse soils to make some of Burgundy’s most exciting white wines. “Expression” is the order of the day, and wines of unprecedented individuality are emerging from such cellars as Comtes Lafon, Guy Roulot and Arnaud Ente. But there is one other important winemaker pointing the way to the future: Jean-Philippe Fichet.

Fichet’s work is a direct outgrowth of a breakthrough that happened three decades ago: René Lafon’s decision to bottle his Meursault “Clos de la Barre” on its own. For a century before, such a thing had been unheard of, as only the most famous vineyards—the premier crus—were ever bottled individually; everything else was blended into Meursault villages.

Lafon’s innovation not only proved that a lieu-dit (a non-classified vineyard) could say something profound, it drew attention to Meursault’s incredible soils—paving the way for the later accomplishments of Jean-Françoise Coche, Jean-Marc Roulot and, of course, René Lafon’s son Dominique. But Fichet has carried Lafon’s revolution to another level—studying every square inch of earth and stone in his domaine, to make Meursault’s purest set of single-climat wines.

Even if uneconomical, Fichet would rather produce a very small amount of wine from his best sites than to lose their unique character in a blend. In 1998, his Meursault-Tesson vines yielded little more than four barrels; anyone else would have blended so little wine into their village cuvée. But the Tesson was so magical that Fichet bottled it separately, exclusively in magnum.

Just as Jean-Marc Roulot did until recently, Fichet has flown largely under the world’s radar. He began as a grower in 1981 but was forced to rebuild his domaine from scratch in the 1990s, having lost all his best fruit sources—including a piece of Meursault-Perrières—for lack of long-term contracts. But he learned from this experience. By 2000, he had used carefully negotiated long-term fermageand mètayage agreements to create an extraordinary new domaine, brimming with exceptional sites.

Fichet’s methods reflect his philosophy: he is famously meticulous and abhors taking short cuts. His low yields, the foremost key to quality, are achieved through severe winter pruning rather than by green harvesting. And he believes his wines’ expressiveness is enhanced through a patient 18-month élevage, with little new oak and by avoiding aggressive lees stirring.

The wines that Jean-Philippe Fichet is making today have few rivals for their class in Burgundy, and they could be unmatched in their transparency and expressiveness.

Jean-Philippe Fichet is one of Burgundy’s greatest talents—and his wines are every bit as extraordinary as he is.

2018

Occhipinti Il Frappato

SICILY

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Occhipinti

Occhipinti is located in the Vittoria region of southeastern coast of Sicily between the Mediterranean Sea and inland mountains. Owner, winemaker and viticulturist Arianna Occhipinti founded the estate in 2004, bottled her first commercial vintage in 2006 and today works exclusively with estate fruit. Her 25 hectares are certified-organic and practicing biodynamic and feature only native Sicilian varietals: 50% Frappato, 35% Nero d'Avola and 15% white varieties Albanello and Zibibbo (aka Muscat of Alexandria). The Frappato and Nero d'Avola vines range from 10-year-old guyot-trained vines which she planted all the way up to 60-year-old alberello-trained vines which she rented initially and was later able to add her holdings. Total production is approximately 10,000 cases annually.

Arianna started at age 16 in her uncle Giusto Occhipinti's cellar--he being the proprietor of Vittoria's most famous winery, COS--and loved it, enough to go to oenology school and to jump right into her own production. She began with a mere one hectare of abandoned vines attached to a family vacation house. Though university imparted technical knowledge of a sort, the main influence on her ways in vineyard and cellar was in fact her uncle, who raised his wines as well as his niece on organic viticulture, harvest by hand and native-yeast fermentations, none of which is typical of Sicily's bulk-driven wine production. In Arianna's own words: "Not irrigating, harvesting late and not using fertilizers are the secret to making more elegant wines in the area. The freshness and minerality in my wines come from the subsoils. Any wine made from young vines or chemically grown vines feeding only off of the top soil will have the cooked, hot characteristics people associate with wine from warm regions."

There was never any doubt in Arianna's mind about whether to pursue this natural approach in order to express the freshness of the Vittorian microclimate, the minerality of the chalky soils and the purity of the best local grape varieties. She made a number of other significant choices in pursuit of this balance. The farming is biodynamic. There is zero irrigation in her vineyards in this hot, windy climate. Cover crops including fava beans and other useful plants grow between every other row. New plantings are massale selections only. Juice and wine are moved only by gravity. There is no new oak. Her flagship SP68 wines (white and red blends named for the nearby main road) are vinified and aged in small concrete tanks, with no oak of any kind and no punchdowns. The red is in all but name her version of a Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the DOCG blend of Frappato and Nero d'Avola; she eschews the DOCG designation in favor of shorter aging for a fresher take on this regional signature. And for her next level of longer-aged wines from older vines, a pure Frappato and her 100%-Nero d'Avola Siccagno, there is no new oak--the use of which has been an attempt by some Sicilian producers to add a sense of gravitas to their wines for the international wine market--and the most gentle handling.

Arianna's star has risen very quickly over the last decade in the wine world, and she is rightly regarded as a symbol of success in the world of biodynamic farming and natural winemaking. She has remained committed to those principles, while evolving from her originally more dogmatic outlook. Below is her response to importer Jules Dressner's question about her feelings on the term "natural wine":

"I make natural wine, but this is a term I'm beginning to be less and less comfortable with, because its implications are very complicated. I really want to stress that my main goal is to make a good wine that reflects where it comes from, and for me the only way to successfully do this is to make the wine naturally. When I first started, people were just starting to talk about natural wine. It was very important to me to think about all these issues , and in those early years I definitely had a more militant attitude about it. Making natural wine was a mission, something worth fighting for. Now that I've grown up a little bit, the mission is making wine of terroir. You have to respect the vineyards, and nature in general. When I wake up in the morning, I want to feel free. Making this wine is my opportunity to feel free. So again, my goal is not to make natural wine, working this way is a process to make good wine."

2016

An Approach to Relaxation "Sucette" Old Vine Sand Grown Grenache

Vine Vale, Australia

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An Approach to Relaxation

(From the voice and personalities of Carla and Richard Betts)

We are two Americans, living in Amsterdam, making wine in Australia...

Makes a ton of sense, right?

Whelp, when you travel approximately 250 days a year, you can pretty much make your home anywhere there's a great airport, and Amsterdam is a stellar town. So then, why do we make the huge trek down to South Australia?
Because we own one of the oldest Grenache vineyards on the planet (The Rza Block), and are super passionate about sharing what we make with the world. But before we get into all that, a little bit about us...
While Richard was catching lizards & crashing bikes in the desert, Carla was wrangling horses & waves in California.

Who knew they’d someday collide in a flurry of light, rivaling Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the finest accomplices to roam the land?

Their paths took them separately through all sorts of twists & turns; Carla to NYU for acting & Richard nearly became an attorney (that would have been very bad.)

Anyways, eventually they figured out that you can have a damn fine time (& make a living!) throwing a good party, thus, they found their way to wine.

Carla served the stuff up at some tony joints in NYC for a while (The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, The John Dory Oyster Bar), while Richard found the dearth of oxygen & excess of disposable income in Aspen more suitable to his wine service.

Then, on one hot, muddy & muggy afternoon they found themselves in the same park at the same time &, well, Carla was wearing this hot pink tank top & pouring excessive quantities of sherry, & that was it. Boom. They were on their way to the sun.

After banging around the solar system for a while they realized they needed gas money or at least a break on the wine, so they asked themselves ‘how do we make our own supply from which to get high?’ Whelp, turns out they both love the same wines & Richard had a little experience making this & that, so they headed to OZ to make some dee-lish hooch, & that’s what this site is all about. After all, Wine is a Grocery, Not a Luxury.

2016

Alpha Estate Florina Syrah-Xinomavro-Merlot

MACEDONIA, GREECE

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Alpha Estate

Alpha Estate is located in the heart of the Amyndeon, a wine region in the Northwest of Greece. The estate's vineyards cover over 160 acres situated on a plateau around 2,000 feet above sea level. Moderate temperatures and heavy winter rains create ideal conditions for the grapes to ripen. Poor soils with good drainage create a mild water deficit, resulting in small berries with intense red color and concentrated flavors and aromas.

Alpha Estate is presided over by Angelo Iatridis, considered by many to be Greece's most promising winemaker. Angelo cultivates international varieties as well as indigenous Greek varieties, and all the wines are crafted in Alpha's state-of-the-art gravity-flow winery. Alpha is considered one of the most cutting edge producers in Greece and has established the most technologically advanced vineyards in the viticulture world. They always strive for precision grape-growing and focused terrior-driven wines that are bold and exciting.

In case you missed it, here's the recording from our November Virtual tasting. 

October 2020

2018

Scribe Winery Skin Fermented Chardonnay

CARNEROS

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Scribe Winery

The winery–founded in 2007 on a property that pioneered pre-prohibition Sonoma Valley winemaking–is managed by fourth-generation California farmers and brothers, Andrew and Adam Mariani. Andrew and Adam believe that the best wines are a result of a healthy relationship between man and nature, and that a vineyard managed in harmony with the greater ecosystem results in more site-specific wines that represent a sense of time and place. When vinified with non-interventionist methods, the result is a distinct wine that faithfully reflects what the vineyard naturally expresses. 

2016

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir

MORNINGTON PENINSULA
VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

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Moorooduc Estate

Established in 1982 by Richard and Jill McIntyre, Moorooduc Estate is a small, family run wine business that has developed an enviable reputation for complex and food friendly wines. All the wines are made on site in our rammed earth winery. From a very modest 20 tonne winery set up in 1987, we now have a more sophisticated facility with a small but high quality Bucher press and an excellent Vaslin – Bucher destemmer. Since 2006 we have had the facility to chill fruit in a refrigerated shipping container which has been particularly beneficial with the warmer climate and earlier vintages we have been experiencing over recent years. In the winery, the emphasis is on gentle winemaking methods with some quality control where we believe this is important.

Moorooduc is a founding winery on the cool-climate Mornington Peninsula at the very southern tip of the mainland (heading toward Antarctica), 1.5 hours south of Melbourne. Planted in 1983 and family owned and run, Richard, his wife Jill, and daughter Kate (MW), focus on single site Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Organically dry-farmed, all wild yeast, no fining or filtration. They’ve always worked with the same three vineyards (their own, their viticulturalist’s, and one leased from family friends). Door-opener wines for fine dining.

2016

Lieu Dit Malbec

SANTA YNEZ VALLEY
CENTRAL COAST

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Lieu Dit

Lieu Dit is a partnership of longtime friends Eric Railsback and Justin Willett. The two met in Santa Barbara while Eric was finishing college and Justin was just beginning his career in winemaking. The two were among a small group of young winemakers and restaurateurs in Santa Barbara unified by a common interest in wine and all its mysteries.

After countless bottles shared together and many trips to France, Railsback and Willett decided to found Lieu Dit in 2011 and focus it solely in the varieties indigenous to the Loire Valley, now grown in Santa Barbara County. The varied micro-climates and marine based soils of Santa Barbara County are ideally suited to this set of grapes. Lieu Dit centers on Sauvignon Blanc and more limited bottlings of Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Rose and produces around 2500 cases annually. Each vintage, the quest for purity, elegance, and balance in every wine is paramount.

2018

Failla Syrah, Hudson Vineyard

NAPA VALLEY

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Hudson Vineyard

Ehren Jordan fell in love with wine while working in a wine shop to put himself through school- post graduation he managed to score a job as a floor sommelier in Aspen allowing his early 20’s self to drink great wines while keeping up on the slopes! While working in Aspen he worked alongside two Napa Natives and after the season was over, he followed them back to the valley. He worked as a harvest intern and cellar rat until finally working his way on a winemaking team- taking this energy and passion he made wine all over the valley working with Helen Turley for the first time over 20 years ago and he continues to make wine for them today- he calls it his “day job”!

This Syrah from Ehren is sourced from one of the most incredible Syrah sources in Central California, Hudson Ranch in Carneros. Lee Hudson is owner and proprietor (also a Texas Native) and his fruit is sourced by wineries such as Rombauer, Staglin, Dave Ramey, Cakebread, and the list goes on and on.

Ehren and grape grower Lee Hudson go way back - all the way back to Ehren's days at Neyers where he made Chardonnay, Syrah, and Grenache from this esteemed southwestern Napa Valley Site. The vineyard sits pretty on a 2000 acre ranch that Lee purchased in 1979 and slowly developed into one of Napa Valley's most recognizable vineyard names. Lee is also known for producing gigantic pumpkins every Fall and displaying them at Napa's Oxbow Market! This close association has allowed Failla to enjoy vineyard-designate status from Hudson since 2010 with inaugural releases of both Chardonnay and Syrah.

Failla’s Syrah block comes from a distinctly different parcel than the Chardonnay. Block 3 is planted on the adjacent, expanded Henry Road property, slightly further north and nestled in a valley between steep hillsides, protecting it from the prevailing northwestern-moving Carneros winds.

Planted in 1997 on Haire series soil, the Syrah is exposed to cool nights and moderately warm days, providing a long growing season and even ripening. Despite being so far inland, there has even been evidence of sea creature fossils found in the rocks scattered throughout the vineyard.

A wonderful foil to our cooler climate Estate Vineyard, the Hudson Syrah is similarly vinified on 100% whole clusters and is treated to human-powered punchdowns - aka foot treading - during harvest. Aging in mostly used French oak barrels allows for the distinctive floral, spice and savory aromas to balance the naturally rugged and robust palate.

In case you missed it, here's the recording from our October Virtual tasting. 

September 2020

2018

Santo Wines "ASPA" Assyrtiko

SANTORINI

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Santo Wines

The Union of Santorini Cooperatives, Santo Wines was founded in 1947. Today, it consists of the largest organization of the island representing all the cultivators and counting 1.200 active members.

As a result of one of the greatest volcanic eruptions of all time, Santorini’s strong agricultural tradition is rooted in its soil which has a unique texture and includes lava, volcanic ash and pumice stone. This special composition yields products of distinctive profile and works as a natural shield from diseases. The vineyard in Santorini is self-rooted as it was never affected by phylloxera, and is one of the most ancient in the world with a 3,500-year history.

Plants on Santorini are not irrigated artificially and rainfall is rare on the island. Therefore, the watering comes from the natural humidity and the sea mist which is absorbed by the volcanic soil, providing the necessary hydration. This method, known as dry farming, results in a low-yield production.

From sowing and pruning to harvesting, all of the work in the fields is done by hand. In areas of severe slope, the farmers have created terraces, built with lava stones, known as “pezoules” in order to provide easier access to the vineyards, to facilitate the cultivation and to maximize their capacity to absorb rain water. In the vineyards, the vintners have invented a distinct way of training the vines, called “kouloura”. The vines are kept close to the ground and are given a spiral, basket shape that anchors the grapes and protects them from the strong winds.

75% Assyrtiko, 15% Athiri and 10% Aidani grown in volcanic soils and aged in French barrels. Vines are grown on their own rootstock and are trained in the traditional basket style to protect from wind and conserve water.

2017

A.F. Gros Vosne-Romanee "Les Chalandins"

burgundy

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  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Domaine A-F. Gros

Domaine A-F. Gros is a 10-hectare estate of vineyards situated in both the Côte-de-Beaune and the Côte-de-Nuits. In 1988, Anne-Francoise Gros, one of Jean Gros’ three children showed the wine world her incredible ability to grow the estate holdings from 3 ha to 10 ha and to also become one of the greatest domaines in all of Burgundy.

Anne-Françoise Gros, originally of Vosne-Romanée, is married to François Parent of Pommard. The domaine consists of Anne-Françoise’s share of Domaine Jean Gros, additional wines in and around Vosne-Romanée which she has bought or leased, and her husband’s share of Domaine Parent.

Anne-Francoise has handed the reins to two of her three children, Caroline and Mathias. The talented young winemaker, Mathias Parent, possesses one of the most distinguished pedigrees in Burgundy. Through his father’s line, he is descended from 13 generations of Burgundians, including Étienne Parent, who supplied wine to Thomas Jefferson. Through his mother, Anne-Françoise Gros (daughter of Jean Gros), Mathias traces his roots to the storied Louis Gros in the early 19th century. Mathias shares management of the domaine with his sister, Caroline Parent. The Domaine today includes vineyards, mostly Pinot Noir, inherited through both lines of the family.

Les Chalandins is the smallest parcel in Vosne, just below Maizieres at the northern tip of the Village. It’s pure pedigree. 

2018

Las Jaras Wines "Sweet Berry Wine"

WILLAMETTE VALLEY

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  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Las Jaras Wines

We are so excited to share the 2018 Sweet Berry Wine with you! Las Jaras Wines is from the dynamic duo behind the very hilarious “Tim & Eric Awesome Show!”. Now they make wines of amazing freshness and delicious expression. Whereas we usually can’t even get enough of this to offer out, the pandemic has made it possible for us to include this gem of a wine! Sourcing from only old vines and with the most random, yet delicious blend of varietals, we love this wine and had to share. As Dr. Steve Brule would say, “for your health!”

54% Carignan | 28% Zinfandel | 12% Charbono | 3% Cabernet Sauvignon | 3% Valdiguie Old Vines | Mendocino County

This was a long, cool vintage, which resulted in a nuanced, refined wine that will age wonderfully. It’s perfect for long, autumn evenings with friends—grab a warm blanket, start a fire, and watch as the flames illuminate the beautiful, deep ruby wine inside your glass. As the days grow shorter and colder, you’ll find even more occasions to pop open a bottle: holiday dinners, apres-ski at the lodge, New Years Eve. 

2015

Domaine de Pallus "Les Pensees de Pallus"

CHINON

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  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

Domain de Pallus

Bertrand Sourdais began his quest in the summer of 2003, Trained at the University of Bordeaux, Bertrand had been drawn to Atauta (Spain) by its ancient, ungrafted vines of unique local Tempranillo clones. While achieving stardom in Spain, Bertrand remained passionate for his native Chinon, and for its emblematic variety, Cabernet Franc. And so it was inevitable that he would someday apply his gifts at his family’s estate, Domaine de Pallus, in the appellation’s heart in Cravant-les-Côteaux. With his fathers nearing retirement from the family estate. Bertrand has worked in the vineyards to create harmony and balance. As at Atauta, he is working tirelessly to find the potential of each vine. And while biodynamics are an important tool for many Loire Valley growers, they are merely a starting point for Bertrand to set his vineyards on the right path. Of course, he has completely rethought the winemaking process. He is employing an extended maceration—up to an astonishing thirty days—to capture the “true” personality of Chinon. Elévage is similarly long and gentle—primarily in second passage barrels from elite Bordeaux estates. The wines are handled less, and bottled later, than almost any others in Chinon.

Since the debut 2004 vintage, Les Pensées has grown in stature with each passing vintage. It is assembled from parcels on several different soil types, with the aim to define “Chinon” in a glass. It reveals classic Loire Valley Cabernet Franc aromas and flavors, but with remarkable precision and the kind of textural depth rarely seen in the appellation.

In case you missed it, here's the recording from our September Virtual tasting.

August 2020

NV

A.R. Lenoble Intense M15

Champagne

  • About

  • Tasting Notes

  • Food Pairings

  • Music Pairings

AR Lenoble

AR Lenoble is one of the rare houses in Champagne that has remained 100% family-owned since its foundation. Armand-Raphaël Graser, a native of Alsace, arrived in Champagne in 1915 in the middle of the first world war. He purchased a house that was built in 1772 in the village of Damery, located between Epernay and Hautvillers, and starting making champagne there in 1920. Anne and Antoine Malassagne, sister and brother, are the great-grandchildren of founder Armand-Raphaël Graser. Anne took over from her father in 1993 and was joined by her brother Antoine in 1996.

AR Lenoble has always been 100% independent since it has founded in 1920, nearly 100 years ago!
Not a single investor or shareholder of any kind has ever been involved in the business. This enables AR Lenoble to guarantee complete stability and coherency in the strategy of the house.

2016

Craven
Chenin Blanc

South AFrica