Showing 241–246 of 246 results

  • Valette Macon-Villages 2017


    “Aromas of minty green apples and citrus oil introduce the 2017 Mâcon-Villages, a medium to full-bodied, supple and fleshy wine that’s bright and layered, concluding with a saline finish. This bottling comes from comparatively young vines and is vinified and matured in tank. The 2017 is quite easy to understand and makes a great introduction to the wines of this fascinating and idiosyncratic domaine. Drinking window: 2019-2029. 89 points

    After years of trying, it was with great interest that I at last paid a visit to Philippe Valette’s elusive 8.5-hectare Chaintré estate. The Valette family were the first to exit the local cooperative, and they rapidly won a reputation for rich, concentrated wines that were frequently celebrated in the pages of this publication. On leaving school in 1990, Philippe began to convert the domaine to organic farming, and since 1992, their wines have never been chaptalized. Influenced by a meeting with Pierre Overnoy, Valette has come to identify with the natural wine movement, and today, his wines see little or no sulfur and increasingly long élevage—indeed, the 2006 Clos de Monsieur Noly spent fully 12 years in barrel. If the estate’s wines through the late 1990s were simply powerful, textural examples of high-quality white Burgundy (notes on several will appear in the next installment of Up From the Cellar), the wines being released today belong in a category of their own. Complex and sapid, I find them fascinating, but readers should be prepared to find wines that are quite different from any of the Valettes’ neighbors. Anyone who appreciates the Jura bottlings of Jean-François Ganevat or the Thomas Pico Chablis wines is likely to love them! My experience is that they often benefit from extended aeration, and I tend to decant Valette’s wines or follow them over several days.”

    William Kelley, Wine Advocate (244)

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  • Veronica Ortega Cal 2018


    “One of the very few Bierzo wines from limestone soils and the only white I know of is the amazing 2018 VO Cal. It’s from a year when ripening was slow, so the grapes ripened thoroughly and the acidity is more integrated. This is still 12.5% alcohol and has seven grams of acidity with a pH of 3.1—a white of moderate alcohol and vibrant freshness, plus the freshness and sapid sensation of the limestone (“cal” is the Spanish word for lime). This matured 50% in barrique and 50% in amphorae/tinaja for one year. This is perhaps not as radical as 2017; this is the first vintage when the wine went through malolactic fermentation, so the profile is a little different, a little more approachable, but with the austere profile and the salinity of the limestone. This perhaps has more depth and more weight and is probably going to age for a longer time. The nose has the textbook chamomile aromas and palate keeps the citrus and saline character. It’s vibrant, layered and complex. It’s clean and evolves slowly in the glass, so it should develop slowly in the bottle too. 3,413 bottles were filled in December 2019. Drink: 2020-2027. 95+ points

    Verónica Ortega has found some more new vineyards in Cobrana and has a new light red, Kinki, and she continues working organically in the vineyards, producing characterful wines that reflect the places, grapes and vintages. Her white is the best in the appellation. All plots ferment with full clusters in open-top oak vats or plastic bins, but the larger volume red Quite ferments destemmed in stainless steel. The wines mature in amphorae, different sized barrels and oak vats. Veronica produced 45,000 bottles in 2018. 2016 needed time, 2017 was very challenging with up to three different flowerings in some places (there was no frost in Cal or Cobrana), and 2018 is like a more-complete version of 2016. 2018 was an unusual year. The vines were recovering from the frost of 2017, and the grapes ripened very slowly. Harvest was also late and slow, and Verónica described it as a Galician profile. Analytically, there is not a lot of acidity, but the wines are fresh; she calls 2018 “the most Atlantic of recent vintages.” 2019 was drier and a little warmer/riper than 2018, but quite similar anyway, with wines with a little more structure and acidity.”

    Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (06/20)

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  • Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio 2019


    “Speaking with Gianfranco Gallo of Vie di Romans was an incredibly educational experience. It’s not rare to see a winemaker speak with passion and knowledge about their region and craft, but it is rare to meet one who will spend more time talking to you about their region, it’s history and the importance of the surrounding territories in depth, before even mentioning a single accomplishment of their own. That said, accomplishments abound at this estate. Gianfranco Gallo took over the management in 1978, and he quickly began to reorganize the vineyards with a quality-over-quantity approach in mind. His goal was to create cleaner wines that could stand the test of time, but also to begin bottling individual expressions from each vineyard, which started with the 1990 vintage. It was also around this time that he decided to begin holding the wines back for an extra year in the winery cellar, a practice that was unheard of by most producers in the region. When asked when he was finally happy with the changes that were made over the course of the last forty years, keeping in mind that he had been rethinking his vineyard philosophies and re-tuning them through the 2000 vintage, Gallo explained that it was only ten years ago. Having said that, Vie di Romans remains very proud of the ageability of the wines and their library of back vintages. When I think back to my first experience with the portfolio, it was around 2011 and I was tasting a 2004 Chardonnay, which was in a beautiful place at the time. Another challenge that we spoke of is global warming, which again has the winery rethinking vineyard practices in an attempt to slow ripening. It was explained that a ripening process that at one time took fifty days can now happen in only thirty, which would greatly reduce the quality of the fruit. Having said all of this, there’s certainly a glimmer of hope when tasting through this portfolio, which remains, unmistakably Vie di Romans in quality and character.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (01/21)

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  • Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva 2016


    “The 2016 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva Classico Villa Bucci is intense from the get-go, showing almond paste and exotic spice, evolving into notes of honeysuckle and ripe yellow apple. It’s silky, with an amazing density of ripe fruit and a hint of vanilla bean, almost leaning toward the tropical spectrum yet reeled in with just enough acidity and salty minerality to maintain balance. This is a big wine, as is usually the case, yet the Bucci style carries it well. The Villa Bucci is a selection made from the estate’s oldest parcels. It spends 14 months in Slavonian oak casks prior to bottling. Lose a few bottles in the cellar for three to five years, and reap the rewards. Drinking window: 2024-2032. 92 points”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (09/20)

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  • Yarra Yering Chardonnay 2017


    Review to follow

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  • Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain Grand Cru 2012


    “One year of maturation estranged the golden-yellow color of the 2012 Riesling Grand Cru Rangen de Thann Clos St Urbain from the citrus-colored label, which opens as deep and rich as it is concentrated and mineral. The first contact with the flinty, lemon-fruity nose makes immediately clear that this is a great and expressive Riesling and, no doubt about this as well, one of the greatest white wines on planet wine. How intense and ripe it is, how deep and concentrated, how floral and matured, and how perfumed with the essence of volcanic rocks. Powerful, intense, compact and stony on the palate, this is a highly elegant, dense, stony, and expressive wine with an endless and highly complex finish. The essence of the Rangen? Close to perfection? At least one of the greatest European Rieslings I had from 2012. Who would have thought that in the autumn of 2012? The vineyard was hit by an intense hail storm in early August when 20 to 50% of the crop was destroyed. Oliver Humbrecht: “Fortunately, being very early in the season, the storm removed parts of clusters, and in some sectors the entire cluster, but did not affect the grapes left on the vine.” “This vineyard had a hard time in 2012 and it was capable to fight back superbly, producing an emotional wine.” Humbrecht assumes that the crop reduction “also explains the richness of this wine, which, amazingly, was able to ferment dry.” Drink: 2017-2040. 97+ points

    I thought he was eventually overestimating my tasting capabilities when Master of Wine Olivier Humbrecht finally guided me into the tasting room in the cellar of the stylish family domaine, where two vintages were prepared to taste — 2012 and 2013, all in all about 60+ wines. It was already late afternoon after we had toured through almost all of the family’s vineyards, including the Rangen de Thann in the very south of the region and my personal favorite, the Clos Windsbuhl from where you have a fantastic view over Hunawihr and where one of the most delicate Gewurztraminers I know is sourced. Olivier and myself concluded a compromise: I only started the tasting with most of the 2013s and some matured vintages, whereas I finished the mammoth portion in my home office where I also included some older vintages I had received from the German ZH importer and from my private stock. Last but not least I tasted some matured wines at WeinArt in Geisenheim during a tasting of Alsace rarities.

    Since Olivier Humbrecht, like his father Léonard, is focusing very much on terroir wines, we started our tasting in the vineyards on a very hot summer day end of June 2015. I was surprised to see how different the many terroirs really are and how diverse they were also in terms of vegetation. In some vineyards the flowering was barely finished, whereas in others the berries were already as big as peas. Some soils are very poor and rocky, others deep and fertile, and most of them a good mixture. Some vineyards are in the plain, others on slopes of which some are gentle and others are steep, if not terraced.

    Consequently, there is a huge difference in the vineyard management between the Rangen de Thann in the south and the flat area around Turckheim. So no receipts here, every plot is cultivated individually.

    Although Zind-Humbrecht cultivates not only all of Alsace’s so called most important grape varieties but an impressive number of different vineyards too — many of them potential premiers and classified grands crus; and although you could easily think 40 hectares under vines (of which 38.5 hectares are in production) were too much for a family domaine to control, especially when the total is farmed biodynamically, Oliver Humbrecht and his teams have everything under control like a good vigneron taking care for the vineyards of his five hectare domaine.

    For example in Thann, which is located 45 kilometers further south from the domaine, Humbrecht does not only have a four-head team to work the vineyards, but also the machines that are exclusively used in the steep terraces of the Rangen Grand Cru. All in all, Team ZH pays 24 full employees plus five to eight seasonal workers between January and July. During harvest, there are 60 up to 90 people picking the grapes, logically by hand and plot by plot, each one at the right moment. “Having wide spread vineyards like we do has advantages and disadvantages,” says Olivier. “On the one hand, it is the best insurance against hail and other damages and besides this, very interesting; on the other hand, you need a lot of machines and pretty good nerves.”

    2012: A hard vintage with emotional wines.

    “2012 is a contrasted vintage between different villages and periods of the year,” says Olivier Humbrecht. The winter was extremely dry and the flowering mostly delayed. Whereas some isolated precocious vineyards were flowering end of May, most of them did so in the cold mid-June, but flowering was not completed in some areas (like in Thann) before the end of June. June and July were very rainy and it was “extremely difficult to insure a continuous protection against fungus diseases.” Zind-Humbrecht had to spray 2.5 times more of metal copper than in average vintages, which demonstrates “how difficult the mildew was to control.” Thus, “certain spraying treatments had to be repeated.” A hailstorm in Thann destroyed up to 50% of the crop, but as the “emotional” 2012 Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain shows, “the vineyard was capable to fight back superbly.” August was warm and dry (although Thann received rain again), and also September was very nice. “The grapes showed beautiful physiological ripeness and were in excellent health, but sugars increased very slowly,” Humbrecht reports. The domaine started harvesting September 17 and finished late October 24. Since the potential alcohol increased slowly, especially for the Riesling grape, “it was necessary to wait longer than expected. Some rainfalls stopped the harvest in the middle of October, and usually most grapes harvested after started to develop some noble rot.”

    According to Humbrecht, 2012 will be characterized by “pure, elegant wines with much less alcohol than usual and ripe acidity.” Most of the wines, especially Rieslings and the Pinot grapes for the entry levels, fermented fairly dry. The average yield of the estate is 51 hectoliters per hectare, with 26 hectoliters per hectare for the Grand Cru (mostly due to the smaller harvest in the Rangen).”

    Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (221)

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