Showing 1–12 of 20 results

  • Donnafugata Ben Rye 2020 (375ml)


    Review to follow

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  • Fontodi Vin Santo 2009 (375ml)


    “The 2009 Vin Santo del Chianti Classico (packaged in a 375-milliliter bottle) is an object of profound beauty. This extremely precious dessert wine pours from the bottle with thick and slow-moving waves of glycerin and sweetened richness. In fact, my fingers are sticking to my keyboard as I write this review. Aged in small caratelli barrels for 84 months, this Vin Santo shows a dark amber color with polished copper highlights. The bouquet is profoundly complex with dried fruit aromas of apricot and pineapple followed by brown sugar, maple syrup, toasted chestnut and savory tobacco. This is a full-bodied dessert wine that spreads over the palate with lasting intensity. In fact, you taste the wine in the mouth for many long minutes after you drink it. A mere 2,500 bottles exist. Drinking window: 2018-2060. 98 points

    The big news in Chianti Classico these past few months is that Fontodi’s Giovanni Manetti has been elected as the new president of the Consorzio Chianti Classico. He takes the reins from Sergio Zingarelli who was president for two very successful mandates that included the introduction of the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione category. I am very happy to hear of this change, mostly because I firmly believe that Giovanni’s genteel and non-confrontational personality will allow for a moment of reflection and unity in a growers’ association that has seen its share of controversy and infighting over the years. A mandate of tranquility would be the least we should expect of this new presidency. The most we can expect, however, is a stronger voice from growers over mapping and the delineation of subzones within the greater appellation, something I have been advocating. Giovanni Manetti and Fontodi represent the pinnacle of quality that can be achieved in this part of Tuscany. That he has become a symbolic head of the region only brings more prestige and pedigree to an appellation that demands our highest respect and admiration.”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (239)

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  • Isole e Olena Vin Santo 2010 (375ml)


    “If there is one winery that merits special recognition this year it is without question Isole e Olena. Paolo De Marchi presented a dazzling set of wines, starting with the 2017 Chianti Classico, a terrific example of the how the warm growing season added an extra element of dimension to some wines. Cepparello is so distinguished. What else is new? Today, readers don’t care much about international varieties in Italy. I will freely admit it – I am not a huge fan. But De Marchi has a rare talent in coaxing so much personality from his Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which are fabulous. I don’t think there is another winemaker in Italy who can match his skill across that many different varieties. And then there is the Vin Santo, which is everything Vin Santo can and should be. Don’t miss these wines.”

    Antonio Galloni, Vinous (09/20)

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  • J.J. Prum Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese 2010


    “Site-typical lime and dark cherry accented by cherry pit make for a Prum 2010 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese at once liqueur-like in richness; juicily, vivaciously citric; and invigorating in its combination of subtly cyanic, chewy, saline, and zesty finishing impingements. Like so many of the more successful wines of its vintage, this also uncannily combines palpable senses of high extract with levity, its high acid and low alcohol reinforcing one another’s encouragement of vivacity and refreshment such as are seldom derived from a wine at this level of ripeness. This deeply flavorful, vibrant, and not in the least superficially sweet Auslese is I feel sure going to go strong for more than another 30 years. (Would that I could so easily imagine myself living to test that prognosis!) Drink: 2012-2042. 93 points

    Katharina Prum says she and her father performed some de-acidification on their eventual generic Kabinett bottling as wine, but otherwise employed only sparingly light double-salt must de-acidification, insisting that late harvesting was the essential measure to be taken this year against high acidity. (And, as usual, most of the wines were bottled in high summer, relatively late when compared with those of nearly all their Middle Mosel neighbors.) It’s not so much that measurable acidity dropped significantly in the second half of October, opined Prum, but that the character of the acidity changed in immeasurable ways. Other than the aforementioned generic bottling, concentration was deemed simply too high this year for any of an already small crop to be rendered as Kabinett. And indeed, only the two most prominent sites were captured in Spatlese format; all else is Auslese and above. Prum notes that levels of residual sugar are seldom significantly higher this year than in other recent vintages, with the result that the wines generally tend to taste a bit drier. “Above and beyond” (as it were) those wines I report on (or whose existence I at least mention) below, there is material from Wehlener Sonnenuhr expected to inform long gold capsule Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese and be released in future years. (Veteran readers of my reports will know by now that while there are often multiple eponymous Prum bottlings, the family is loathe to disclose the A.P. #s of wines they serve in tastings, numbers that might be required to disambiguate between lots which they insist that there will only ever be very slight difference. In 2010, the crop is was so small that there are few alternate bottlings.)”

    David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate (199)

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  • J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese 2006


    “The Prum 2006 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese is seductively scented with gardenia, hyacinth, and musky exotic flowers that remind me of stepping into a greenhouse. These are backed by very ripe pear and nectarine, while notes of botrytis spice also nip at the nose. A soothing, polished, enveloping, sweet and strikingly delicate palate gives equal representation to ripe, subtly-dried fruit, sweet floral inner-mouth perfume and spices. As usual at this address, retained CO2 and efficacious ripe acidity keep the long finish lively, enhancing its wafting sense of near-weightlessness. I suspect one could be happy following this for 30 or more years. (There were two bottlings of this wine – one this year – of which I tasted the first, A.P. #12 07.) 92-93 points

    The Prums picked Wehlen and Zeltingen first, while the Graacher Himmelreich resisted botrytis to a greater degree, and by the time they came to Bernkastel (shades of the scenario at Selbach) botrytis was so advanced that they ended up vinifying their first-ever Beerenauslese from those sites. “From the standpoint of quantity, it was a catastrophe,” says Manfred Prum, but he judges this likely the greatest vintage of his lifetime, yet also as a vintage that is open and accessible early. I therefore had the opportunity to taste a wider range of young nobly sweet wines here than normal, although I was not able to re-taste them after bottling. There is in fact very little to taste at this estate from 2006 other than nobly sweet wine. Miniscule amounts of “normal” Spatlese (which I did not taste) were bottled from the Himmelreich and Sonnenuhr.”

    David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate (179)

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  • J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2009


    “A Prum 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese A.P. #12 offers an impressive combination of white raisin-studded apple jelly, mango, caramel, honey, and vanilla in a creamy textural context, with a remarkable, parallel, and somehow perfectly-integrated sense of fresh apple and pear juiciness that guarantees a finish of genuine refreshment, enhanced by near-weightless buoyancy. This is quite thrilling to savor even now, but deserves at least a dozen years’ cellaring and is likely to perform well three decades or more hence. 93 points

    The Prums noted that their 2009s (harvested from mid-October to mid-November) were unusually expressive at a young age – even in September when I tasted, little more than a month after most of them were bottled – in that respect contrasting decisively, they thought, with the recalcitrant 2008s. (That’s their opinion, please note. My own enthusiastic account of their young 2008s in issue 187 testifies to my belief that those wines were themselves testifying eloquently, even though in general 2008s were said by their growers to be slow to open.) “Although the acids are very ripe,” notes Manfred Prum of his 2009s – drawing parallels with 1997 – “they are also very present.” This latest collection tops out with Eiswein from both Bernkastel and Graach (which makes two from the Himmelreich in one year, since the 2008 was picked in January, 2009) and a B.A. (or – depending on how it evolves – it may be labeled as T.B.A.) from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, none of which I have tasted. (In keeping with past practice, I am not normally privy to the A.P.#s of every wine I taste from this collection, and the Prums remain anxious to assure me and my readers that whenever more than one lot of the same name in Kabinett or non-auction Spatlese range is bottled care is exercised to see that the differences will be minimal. In the case of Auslesen, I have however confirmed and included A.P.#s in any instances of two otherwise eponymous wines.)”

    David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate (192)

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  • J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2018


    “Scents of quince and apple jelly are accompanied by a surprisingly greenhouse-like evocation of diverse flowers and foliage. I say “surprisingly” because many of the Prum 2018s deliver an especially heady, sweet, and often even decadent sort of floral perfume. Honeydew and Persian melons supply extremely ripe yet freshly juicy fruit that, when combined with the confitured quince and apple, make for an exceedingly luscious midpalate impression, reinforced by textural gloss and prominent but not excessive sweetness. The finish lingers impressively, reprising a welcome inner-mouth hint of flower shop. Look for this to deliver much more in future and to enjoy at least the typical ageworthiness of a Prum Wehlener Auslese, it not more. (There is also an auctioned bottling of Sonnenuhr Auslese – AP. #18 – which I did not have an opportunity to taste.). Drink: 2022-2050. 93 points

    Starting the harvest just past mid-September 2018 was record-early at this estate, as at so many others. Also like many others, the Prüms reported a remarkably leisurely pace, since clement weather left them unfazed. They only finished up on October 20, with ample opportunity to make selections for nobly sweet elixirs right up to TBA, though precisely what would be declared “above” long gold capsule Auslese remained to be determined when I tasted in late November, and such wines are only released some years after bottling. Also as at so many estates, fears that the heat and drought of 2018 would result in wines resembling 2003s in their conspicuously low acidity and baked- or dried-fruit character proved unfounded. Instead, while analytically modest acidity as well as sheer ripeness conduced to a slightly stronger sense of sweetness than in some other recent vintages, even where the Prüm 2018 collection reveals a confectionary cast, this is balanced by freshness and nuanced piquancy, despite the relatively late finishing date for harvest. Relatively low acidity no doubt also contributed to the alluringly creamy textures that so many of the wines display. Moreover, in complete contrast 2003 – or, for that matter, 2005 – there is an abundance of Kabinett, and the personalities of each site tend to come through especially clearly. “We really made a changeover [Umstellung] after 2005,” observed Manfred Prüm. “Accepted wisdom was always to wait so as to harvest with maximum ripeness, but at that point we realized it isn’t always best to wait,” a realization never more applicable than in 2018. One aspect of these 2018s that is reminiscent of 2003, though, is that even at the level of gold capsule Auslese, the extreme ripeness and impressive concentration were achieved, the Prüms insisted, virtually without botrytis, which they report only came seriously into play with long gold capsule Auslese and beyond.

    I was not offered an opportunity to taste those wines that were auctioned last September in Trier: a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Lange Goldkapsel, a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Goldkapsel (A.P. #19), a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese (A.P. #18) and a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese (A.P. #17). (For thoughts about this venerable estate’s recent evolution, consult especially the introductions to my coverage of their 2014s and their 2017s.)”

    David Schildknecht, Vinous (08/20)

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  • J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 2009


    “The Prums’ (non auction) 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese gold capsule A.P. #18 – like the corresponding Graacher Himmelreich – can be described as “confectionary,” but there most similarity ends. In this instance, the sheer sense of sweetness is much less overriding, and the prominent aromas and flavors are of malt, caramel, vanilla cream, hazelnut paste, and chestnut puree. The textural creaminess of this Auslese is sheer seduction and its sense of depth and layering – of mysterious darkness even – no less enticing. Yet at the same time, it (and indeed in 2009, it seems, wine from this site generally) retains a fresh fruit edge over its Himmelreich counterpart (whereas the converse was true in 2008) along with a mouth-watering sense of salinity. And so, we have a finish not just astonishingly persistent, but possessed of striking delicacy, enervation, and irresistible juiciness. I suspect this will merit following from 30-40 years. Drink: 2010-2050. 95 points”

    David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate (192)

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  • Le Salette Pergole Vece Recioto della Valpolicella 2012 (500ml)


    Review to follow

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  • Marco de Bartoli Bukkuram Padre della Vigna Passito di Pantellaria 2014 (500ml)


    “Marco de Bartoli has long been one of the best wine estates not just in Sicily but in all of Italy. Sadly, Marco, a very likable man who did so much for Marsala production, is no longer with us, but his son Renato has followed brilliantly in his footsteps, expanding the winery’s portfolio and promoting research of old local vines. For example, de Bartoli’s is the first Catarratto bottling made exclusively from the Lucido biotype (not a clone) of Catarratto Comune , of which there are three: Comune, Lucido and Extralucido. Although generations of growers has repeated the received wisdom that the last two gave the best wines, until de Bartoli came along with his Lucido bottling nobody had bothered to see if that was really the case. Those consumers who have never found a Marsala wine to like owe it to themselves to try the ones by made by de Bartoli.”

    Ian D’Agata, Vinous (12/15)

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  • Marco de Bartoli Marsala Superiore 1988 (500ml)


    “If I were permitted only one producer on the island of Sicily to introduce readers to, it would be Marco de Bartoli. When the average person thinks of Marsala, they think of a cheap cooking wine that is the last-minute errand you run right before starting to prepare a meal. What they don’t understand is that Marsala has a deep, rich history of creating wines designed to compete with the best Madeira and Sherry. The problem is that this history was buried deep beneath decades of mass production, a muddling of grape varieties and unnecessary fortification. Marco de Bartoli turned a passion for tradition into a vision of the future, and his heirs, have held the line, learning from their father’s teachings while keeping an innovative eye on new practices and trends. Today, de Bartoli continues to release purely traditional-style Marsala, using only estate-grown Grillo, the Solera barrel aging system (which uses oak and chestnut vats of various sizes) and, in the case of the Vecchio Samperi, no fortification. The Superiore wines do see a light fortification with grape brandy when removed from the Solera system, and they are then aged oxidatively in oak vats until bottling for release. Simply stated, a Marsala from Marco de Bartoli can compete with the greatest Ports, Sherries and Madeira. However, this house is no longer just about Marsala. The current generation, made up of Marco’s children Renato, Sebastiano and Giuseppina, began to experiment with dry whites produced from Grillo, Zibibbo and Catarratto in the 1990s. Today, these wines have really come into their own, showing exceptionally well, and they are true standouts in my recent tastings. What’s more, this experimentation has now evolved even further with the next level of dry whites in the Bartoli lineup, Integer. Both the Zibibbo and the Grillo for Integer are spontaneously fermented without temperature control, spend 10 days macerating with zero sulfur added, and then go through malolactic fermentation and rest for 10 months on the lees in large botti, with a small percentage of the juice spending five months on skins in clay amphora. The resulting wines are unique and stretch the imagination, yet they are also amazingly pleasing, and with notable cellaring potential.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/21)

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  • Mullineux Essence Chenin Blanc 2012 (250ml)


    Two bottles available

    “The 2012 Essence is essentially the last of two-day pressing, fermented for four years in barrel, 4.5% alcohol with (drum roll please) a whopping 650 grams per liter of residual sugar. It was pressed at around 80 brix! Refulgent amber in color, it has a gorgeous orange sorbet, syrup, fig, Seville orange marmalade and quince-scented bouquet that is very well defined. The palate is, to quote Chris himself, a “complete monster”—a diabetic’s worst nightmare. The senses are bewildered and then seduced by the payload of sweet honeyed fruit, the 14.5 grams of acidity maintaining the balance and freshness. It positively lacquers the inside of the mouth and the finish delivers just a very subtle bitter lemon note that prevents it from being cloying. Outrageous and probably immortal. There are 700 bottles, all 250-milliliters. Drink: 2017-2117. 98 points

    Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines (formerly Mullineux Family Wines) have gone from strength to strength in recent years. It seems a long time ago that their original investor poured their inaugural vintage blind at a lunch in London to the delight of the assembled. Nowadays Chris and Andrea Mullineux have won almost as many plaudits as their friend Eben Sadie, whilst the backing of Indian entrepreneur Analjit Singh has opened whole new horizons, which in a single word you could call Franschhoek. When tasting at their Roundstone winery, I asked Andrea how it all came about.

    “[Analjit] bought the estate and was looking to employ winemakers and this was the same time that Keith [their original investor] was looking to sell his shares. Rosa Kruger was helping him and suggested the partnership with Chris and I. He has no intention to influence what we do. The initial idea was for Mullineux to make Franschhoek wines, but it is a Swartland brand, so we started the Leeu Passant label. We wanted to do something South African, not make an imitation Bordeaux. The idea is that we explore and pay homage to South African wine Heritage, in the mood of the old South African wines from the 1950s and 1960s. We wanted to deconstruct those wines and reconstruct them in a modern way. For the red it includes fruit from South Africa’s oldest vineyard that is leased on a long-term contract. They are actually fenced off.”

    This was a strong set of wines from Chris and Andrea, both white and red. Whether you are making your acquaintance with Cape wine courtesy of their Kloof Street label or seeking terroir-driven wines with their Iron/Schist/Granite bottlings, there is a sense of consistency that has built their reputation in recent years. And their Straw Wine is remarkable. I have tasted all of them since release on a number of occasions and they are brilliant; the concentrated 2016 Straw Wine a contender for the best the couple have ever made. For those whose eyes are automatically attracted to points, you will see my 99-point score for the NV Olerasay, the solera that that had been itching to release for a number of years. I was actually served this blind in London and it just blew me away, therefore I asked Andrea if I could re-taste it. It just seems to have developed an effortless nature that it did not have just after bottling, a sensational wine that to date is the highest score I have given to a recently released South African wine.

    I have included here the debut releases from their Franschhoek estate under the Leeu & Passant label. I like the idea of updating the past, right from the retro-style labeling to the wine inside the bottle. I have a feeling that the warmer 2015 growing season probably did not suit the style of wine they would like in the future and whilst I enjoyed the two whites and red that I tasted, I suspect that a cooler and perhaps more challenging growing season is going to push these wines to a higher level. If all these developments were not enough (and God only knows how the couple find time to bring up their young family), there is the maiden 2012 Essence, which as the name suggests is based on the namesake Tokaji, delivering a mammoth 650 grams per liter of residual sugar. There are just 700 “diddy” 250-milliliter bottles. It is totally outrageous and totally delicious, doubtlessly destined to last as long as those legendary immortal 18th century Vin de Constance.”

    Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (230)

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