A Beginner’s Guide to Greek Wine

A Beginner's Guide to Greek Wine

At the shop, we get asked every day, “What’s new?,” “What’s cool?,”  or, “What’s tickling your palate right now?” What they all mean is, “What’s the next big thing?”

If you ask me, the answer is Greece. If you care about wines of character and history, of authenticity, Greece is where you should be looking.


What you need to know about Greek wine

For starters, Greece is small. Smaller than Nepal (really!). Yet, within its narrow borders, it hosts a teeming collection of grapes and terroirs. Add to that a recent revolution in quality winemaking and you have a perfect storm for exciting wine.

Each of these factors is important. So, let’s go through them one at a time.

  • Roughly the size of Louisiana, Greece boasts 300 or more indigenous grapes that have never traveled abroad, each with a unique voice. Chardonnay and Cabernet are planted everywhere in the world, but to hear what Debina, Liatiko, and Limniona have to say, you have to go to the source. The most common grapes you’ll encounter are Assyrtiko, Malagousia, and Moschofilero for whites and Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko for reds. Yes, Xinomavro is what passes for common in Greece. Then there are many grapes that are so rare that only a producer or two grow them. The opportunities for exploration are many.
  • I also think Greece will explode in the wine-world’s consciousness because of its incredibly diverse climate, soil, and topography. Greece is at the very end of the Alps and almost the entire country is mountainous—so rugged that vines and sheep or goats are the only things that farmers can reasonably raise in much of the country. The soil is generally thin and poor: terrible for most farming, but optimal for great wine, as vines that struggle give the best fruit.
  • Don’t forget the weather: sunny and dry. Greece enjoys an incredibly high annual number of sun hours, a feature that not only attracts German tourists but also makes it possible for grapes to ripen even at the high altitudes necessary for good acid/fruit balance in the grapes. This is also a very dry and windy country, which means much less disease pressure than in, say, Bordeaux, and so a relatively easy path to organic farming.
  • Lastly, there’s been a sea change in what wines producers are choosing to make. For a long time, all we saw imported from Greece were generic, internationally-styled wines—either from international grapes like Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay—or from native grapes like Agiorgitiko or Robola but so weighed down with wine make-up like new barriques and laboratory yeast strains as to be indistinguishable from more global wines. But that is all changing right now, and fast.

To be fair, a handful of producers started down this path of authentic Greek Wine in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but their revolution didn’t mature and take hold until this century. Now it’s spreading at quite a clip, and just when Americans are falling in love with these kinds of authentic wines like never before. Who knows what delicious things will develop here in the next decade or two?


Greek Wine 101: A beginner’s guide

What follows is a brief and far from complete overview of Greece’s vinous landscape today. A sort of Greek Wine 101. But know that I’ve ignored whole regions, grapes, and styles. And even the categories I address are vastly simplified.

To encourage broad exploration, throughout the months of July and August we’re offering 10% off any purchase of 3 or more Greek wines, and 15% off mixed cases. Click here to view our full Greek inventory in New York City or in San Francisco or keep reading below for more regional information.


This is the southern half of mainland Greece and is what I think most Americans picture when they think of Greece: it’s mountainous, dry, scrubby, generally sort of tan in color most of the year. The main grapes are Agiorgitiko, Moschofilero, Monemvasia, Muscat, Mavrodaphne, and Roditis.

This is probably the region farthest behind in the quality revolution, as there is still an inexplicable obsession with new and small oak (is Nemea the last hidey hole for the marauding barrique?). I happen to believe that Agiorgitiko is a grape with enormous potential, but I have seen little of that potential manifested, so we mostly focus on whites and rosés from the Peloponnese at Flatiron.

Producers to look for: Parparoussis, Troupis, Barafakas, Papaioannou, Tselepos.


Without wading into the fray over the name, we’ll just say that this is Macedonia, the region in Greece, not the country (Greeks refer to the latter simply as Skopje, the capital of FYROM, or Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). Situated in the far northeast of mainland Greece, this is where Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, burst forth to rule the known world; the Macedonian Plain (one of only three flat places of any real size in Greece) is where Alexander assembled his army to march east.

The main grape here is Xinomavro, presented on its own in most of the subregions (most notably Naoussa and Amynteo) but blended with Negoska in the subregion of Goumenissa. Xinomavro often gets compared to Nebbiolo, and there’s something to the similar balance of tannin to fruit to acid, as well as the light color and long aging potential. The vineyards of Macedonia are generally at slightly lower altitudes than much of the rest of Greece, more rolling hills than straight-up mountains. Soils vary enormously here, including clay, sand, loam, schist, and even marble. In Domaine Nerantzi’s vineyards, 3500-year-old potsherds even contribute to the mix.

Producers to look for: Tatsis, Dalamara, Kokkinos, Nerantzi, Karanika, Chatzivariti, Kamara, Argatia.


Also in the north, but on the western side of the country, Epirus is extremely mountainous and green, full of rushing mountain streams, strikingly tall old forests, and elaborately-clapboarded, slate-roofed architecture that would make you believe you were in Switzerland or Austria or Bavaria rather than Greece. The vineyards are inland and at high elevation, and the soils are mostly clay and limestone. Grapes here are Debina for white, and Vlahiko & Bekari for red.

Producers to look for: Glinavos, Katogi Averoff


Here we’re just going to focus on one producer. Most of Thessaly is flat and hot, and you’d think the wines wouldn’t be very interesting. For the most part, you’d be right, and much of the output here is sold in bulk. But there is one producer who is changing that storyline: Christos Zafeirakis. Based in the town of Tyrnavos in northeast Thessaly, near the foot of Mt. Olympos, Zafeirakis works with some international varieties, but mostly focuses on native Malagousia and Limniona. The latter hadn’t been planted by anyone for a very long time, until Zafeirakis took an interest and started putting out his game-changing red wine. Now that he’s proven its potential, a bunch of other folks have gone and planted it, too—a success story for grape diversity!

While I haven’t found much else of interest in Thessaly so far, Zafeirakis’ wines came out of nowhere (though the family have been grape growers for a long time, the winery was only founded in 2005), so I’m actually pretty excited about what else might crop up here going forward.

Christos, pouring his wine at our shop!

Producers to look for: Domaine Zafeirakis


Situated off the western coast of Greece and facing Italy across the Ionian Sea, the islands of Corfu, Zakynthos, Lefkada, and Kefalonia are yet another completely different side of Greece (there are a few more islands in the chain, but these are the major ones for wine). On average, these islands are larger and more mountainous than those in the Aegean. The Ionian islands were a Venetian possession for several centuries, and that colonial influence is readily apparent in the architecture and cuisine. This is the homeland Odysseus spent ten years struggling to reach after the Trojan War.

Chief among the islands for wine is Kefalonia (Cephalonia), featuring the towering Mt. Ainos, a 1600+-meter hunk of limestone rising from the sea. It is cold at the top even in summer, and you will see bands of heavily shaggy mountain goats picking their way through the chilly fog in July. So, the climate here is relatively cool, even on the scrabbly lower slopes where the vineyards are located. Alberello (bush) training is common and many vines are ungrafted. Native grapes include Robola, Tsaousi, Vostilidi, and Mavrodaphne.

Producers to look for: Sclavos (Sclavus and Sklavos also appear on the label)


This is the other place that I think Americans envision when thinking of Greece, as the Cyclades are the land of white-washed buildings with stone terraces overlooking the blue, blue waters of the Aegean. They’re called the Cyclades because some folks think the islands are laid out in a circle shape (I don’t see it, but whatever). While some of the islands have been almost completely overrun with tourism (Santorini, Mykonos), there is a lot of cool wine happening here, even amidst the madding crowds.

The Cyclades extend southeast from Athens into the Aegean (they are really the final and lowest mountains in the chain that runs down the entire mainland) and are generally hilly rather than mountainous. Summers are very hot and dry, limiting the potential areas for quality vineyards to the highest reaches (e.g., the granite slopes of the Kalathas valley on Tinos) or places with uniquely water-retentive soil (e.g., the volcanic ash on Santorini, which sucks up the morning mist and feeds it back to the vine roots during the day). There are some genuinely cool, genuinely weird and unique vine-training systems here as well—the most famous being the koloura baskets of Santorini, but don’t forget the supine ksaplota of Tinos either (and see the Flatiron Wines instagram account for a rare video of plowing with this training system). On Santorini, phylloxera doesn’t stand a chance, and vines are ungrafted, with some root systems many centuries old—a truly unique situation in the world of wine.

Grapes include Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Mavrotragano, Mandilaria, Aspro Potamisi, Mavropotamisi, Koumariano, Rozaki, Monemvasia.

Producers to look for: Hatzidakis, Koutsoyannopoulos, Karamolegos, Roussos, Sigalas (Santorini); Domaine de Kalathas (Tinos).


Crete is Greece’s largest island, and perhaps its most beautiful. Wine is grown in every district in Crete, though it must be said that most of the island is carpeted with olive trees. It’s an open secret that much of what is labeled and sold as Italian olive oil actually comes from Crete. This is perhaps the most different part of Greece, and Greeks agree, viewing it in much the same way that Italians view Sicily; I’ve even heard comparisons to Texas.

It’s pretty dry all over here, but especially in the eastern region of Sitia, where the remote and rocky Ziros plateau rises 650 meters above the Mediterranean. The island’s (and perhaps the country’s) most interesting wines come from this region, from the hand of Yiannis Economou. Soils range from sandy red clay to blue marl to wildly mixed conglomerate river rock. Everywhere you look are low rounded humps of wild herb plants drying in the sun all day and lending their Cretan garrigue to the grapes. Grapes include Liatiko, Mandilaria, Voudomato, Kotsifali (red), and Assyrtiko, Vilana, Thrapsathiri (white).

Producers to look for: Economou (Oikonomoy is how it appears on labels), Stilianou

Thanks for reading, now go explore!


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On the cutting edge of something big: Jochen Beurer is Making Zweigelt Obscure Again


People ask us all the time: What is wine’s next frontier? They remember when the Jura exploded on the scene. They watched prices of Northern Rhônes soar. What is next?

We don’t really know, of course. But there are a definitely a few categories that we’re keeping a close eye on. Greece is one. Another is what we’re calling “Teutonic Obscurities”: wines from Austria and Germany made from their many overlooked grape varieties.

Most of these non-famous grapes (basically, we’re talking about wines that aren’t made from the usual suspects like Riesling, Grüner, Spätburgunder, and Blaufränkisch) were for many years produced cheaply and industrially and entirely for local consumption.

But a younger, artisanally-minded generation has taken a keen interest in rediscovering these varieties and seeing them through to their full potential. These producers have been basically unknown here in the U.S., until like-minded importers started to take notice—people like Stephen Bitterolf, who discovered this amazing Zweigelt grown in Württemberg by Jochen Beurer.

Zweigelt, you might argue, is a pretty conventional grape. Plenty of it comes to America. It’s a big thing in Austria, right? Austria, yes. But not so much in Germany. There, it is a true obscurity. You see, Zweigelt was invented only in 1922, when an Austrian scientist (Dr. Zweigelt, of course) crossed St. Laurent with Blaufränkisch, and not many vines ever crossed the border into Germany.

But there are a few vines in Württemberg, the warmish southwest corner of Germany over by Baden and Alsace. There, red wine is the thing. But even in Württemberg, Zweigelt is only about 0.5% of the region’s total production. This really is a Teutonic Obscurity.


Jochen Beurer is a champion of Teutonic Obscurities. Has was also, at one point, an actual Teutonic champion: of BMX biking. But around 2001 he switched to biodynamic farming of grapes like Trollinger, Lemberger, Portugieser….and Zweigelt.

Now, we’re not just writing about Beurer and his Zweigelt because it’s Obscure. We think that Beurer could be at the cutting edge of something big. The Zweigelt tastes, frankly, awesome. We are all too used to more industrial examples of Zweigelt from Austria, which can seem to be a little…ketchupy. But this one is all clear and pure red berries, with just a touch of something smoky adding a little complexity.

In other words, you should drink this not just because it’s some kind of curiosity, but because it is a really lovely wine that is quite undervalued!  And if this wasn’t enticing enough, we’ve discounted on just on one bottle so everyone can feel comfortable having a taste.  Just use the discount code TEUTONIC at checkout.  Good while supplies last.

Jochen Beurer, Zweigelt, 2015 – $22.99 $19.99

Buy 2015 Jochen Beurer Zweigelt


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Pinot Noir from Tasmania? The delicious, different and delightful Holm Oak


There’s a worldwide hunt for great Pinot Noir. Oregon and California are well-known sources of Pinots that put their very own spin on Burgundy’s grape—especially the regions with temperatures cool enough to coax Pinot’s complex aromatics and the bright notes that complement its pretty fruit flavors.

And many of you have discovered Germany’s exploding Pinot scene with us, where global warming has been making what used to be a too-marginal region much more Pinot-friendly.

We tend to think that the Southern Hemisphere is…  just too warm. But if you go far enough south, of course, it gets cool. And eventually you find temperatures cool enough for Pinot to work its magic. In Tasmania they figured this out in the early 1980s and started planting vines. Now those vines—the oldest on the island, and a respectable 35 years old—are producing some very lovely Pinot Noir.

For many years, actually, Tasmania was just too cool; ripeness was the real issue. So they followed the Champenois and added bubbles. If you’ve enjoyed a glass of Sparkling Shiraz, there’s a good chance it was from Tasmania.

But Holm Oak has 35-year-old vines in a warmer part of the island called the Tamar Valley that these days make Pinot Noir so delicious that it’s frankly shocking. Fact: there are some pretty hard-core Burgundy fans among us here at Flatiron. And yet we suddenly found ourselves bringing home a “Tassie Wine” (as apparently it’s called).


This is something you should try. We’ve discounted it deeply and on just on one bottle so everyone can feel comfortable having a taste.  Just use the discount code TASSIE at checkout.  Good while supplies last.

Holm Oak, Tasmania Pinot Noir, 2016 – $29.99 $25.99

Harvested early, this is light and smooth with silky fruit and a touch of forest and spice on the finish.  Finally Tasmania is sending us some of their best Pinot and not hoarding it for themselves!


We don’t know if Tassie Wine is going to become a thing, but we do know that this is a delicious—and different—bottle of Pinot Noir:


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We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

Poderi Colla: Piedmont Greatness in a New Life


“Readers in search of a top flight, traditionally-styled Barolo will find much to explore in these very fine, noble wines from the Colla family.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Sometimes we introduce new producers in these stories. Sometimes we revisit old classics. But this time we have the best of both worlds: an old classic that has become new again.

The Colla family has one of oldest histories in the region. For many generations, they futzed about. They dabbled in Champagne-style sparklers. They learned something about Vermouth and Amaro at Carpano and ended up making their own Amaro from Moscato. But then, in the 1950s, Beppe Colla settled into Barolo fame by taking over the old Prunotto estate.

Beppe Colla hits his stride at Prunotto

At Prunotto, he was the first to introduce single-vineyard-designated Barolo to Piedmont (inspiring Angelo Gaja and Bruno Giacosa to do the same a few years later). Quality at Prunotto soared and if you ever come across old bottles from the late 1950s to the late 1980s—drink them!

But the Colla legend did not end when Beppe sold Prunotto to Antinori in 1991. The family decided to put together their own estate, in part by purchasing some of the same great sites that Beppe had worked at Prunotto.

The cantina never got much attention here in the U.S. But there they were, at this year’s Festa del Barolo seminar, standing toe to toe with the rest of the region’s top wines. Carlotta Rinaldi stopped by the shop to say hi the next day, and she joined us for a taste of Colla – just about all we ended up talking about was how great the Colla was.


Colla’s 2013 Barolo and Barbaresco are Pure Magic

It helped that the current vintage is 2013, of course. But wow! How long had it been since we’d come across a producer new to us making Barolo and Barbaresco of such depth, seriousness, and general quality. Here was the Colla magic—steeped in tradition, fine terroir, and generations of honing techniques—embodied in a beautiful set of new wines.

We have small quantities of both their Barolo—from Bussia of all places—and Barbaresco (from Roncaglie). We think you should take at least two of each wine: one of each to try now, for sure, and at least one of each to put in your cellar. The Barbareco will start to open up in 3-5 years and the Barolo a few years later.

To incentivize you, we’ll offer 10% off any order of four or more of these wines. Just use the discount code COLLA10 at checkout.

Poderi Colla, Barbaresco “Roncaglie”, 2013 – $52.99

Poderi Colla, Barolo “Bussia – Dardi Le Rose”, 2013 – $65.99 



Want to get more offers like these straight to your inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

Natural Discovery in 2015 Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage


2015 Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph: There are treats and than there are very rare treats

There’s nothing more exciting than being turned on to a truly great producer from a favorite region for the first time. Make the discovery in stellar vintage, like 2015 Northern Rhône, and you have a very rare treat.

Natacha Chave’s Crozes and St. Joseph were just such a treat. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise. We were at a tasting put on by Jeffrey Alpert, a very tiny boutique importer you probably haven’t heard of. He doesn’t blog, he doesn’t retail or even distribute his wines himself. But he does find absolutely stunning natural producers (like Ganevat, no less!).

But even amongst the lineup of Jeffrey’s recent discoveries, Natacha’s wines stood out. They were delicious and tasted precisely of their terroirs—but in a personal way. They were clearly made by the same vigneronne with a distinct philosophy. They shared the same feelings of freshness and unforced complexity. They evolved in the glass and, when we decided to stay and eat lunch afterwards, hers were the wines we went back to again and again.

The wines we want to drink are the wines we want to buy, so we did a little research. We liked what we learned. Natacha grew up in a winemaking family. Her brother, Yann Chave, took over the family domaine when she was still studying philosophy. And when she finally decided to make wine, she knew she needed to strike out on her own—she “just didn’t like the limitations that would go along with joining [her] brother.”

Aleofane-Saint Joseph-2015


Working without limitations, born from a tiny parcel in the old heart of Saint-Joseph

Working without limitations has led to great things. She founded her domaine, Aléofane, with a tiny parcel in the old heart of Saint Joseph. Three years later she added some old vines in Crozes. She farms organically (she’s certified) and with biodynamic techniques. She’s experimenting with new plantings of the old Sérine clone from massale selection. Sulfur use is minimal.

Her winemaking aims to let the fruit and terroir speak. She does very little extraction (a bit of pumping over) during the long, slow fermentations made on the natural yeasts. There’s about a week of maceration before she moves the wine to large demi-muids and some barrels for 10-12 months of aging. Her wines sound old-fashioned and traditional, and in a way they are. But they have an accessibility that seems to be her unique take on the approach.

Working like this, on her own terms only, means the wines get all her attention and are incredible expressions of her vision of the terroir. It also means there aren’t a lot of bottles. She’s been discovered in Europe, so almost none of the little she makes comes to America.


We should really keep these for ourselves, shouldn’t we?

We bought all we could and offered them to our newsletter subscribers, leaving us with just bottles.  Normally, with a new discovery like this, we would have gleefully stashed away the rest in our library but, after discussing amongst ourselves, decided that the wines were just too delicious and the story too good that we had to share what little we had left.

As such, we are thrilled to be offering a sampler pack to our loyal blog readers, good while supplies last: buy any 3 or more of these wines and take 10% off with the code ALEOFANE10, at checkout. Shop all the wines now or learn more about each, below.



Good structure, very fine tannins, mineral notes. Fairly old vines (from the ‘70s) and so some depth, but absolutely delicious right now. John Livingston-Learmonth liked the wine and gave it a ****(*) rating (very high for him!).


This is a slightly more serious wine with sharper-edged minerality and one that we’ll be laying down (as well as drinking now). JLL says “this is rather stately, impressive.”


Delicious Marsanne/Roussanne 50/50 blend that is generous up front and mineral and fresh on the finish. Only 250 cases made.


Want to get more offers like these straight to your inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

A cut above the rest: 2013 Collemattoni Brunello

2013 Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino

2013—a very good Brunello vintage

Don’t yawn! I know vintage hype can be tiring, especially in Italy, where climate change has (for now, at least)—really been a friend to wine. The message can get repetitive. For instance, in Montalcino three of the past four vintages (2010-2013) have been all-stars (and early tastes of 2014s have even revealed some gems in that tricky year).

But having too many good vintages in quick succession is a good problem to have, right? So I’m not going to shirk from asking you to pay attention to the 2013 Brunelli, as it’s what we call a “classic” vintage with especially strong communication of terroir. The wines are lifted, light-filled things of beauty. One of the best examples I’ve tasted so far is from Collemattoni, an organic estate with holdings in Sant’ Angelo in Colle and Castelnuovo dell’Abate.

Like the same year in Piedmont, from which we have already seen many great releases, Tuscany enjoyed a longer, cooler growing season with more sun hours than in the preceding couple of vintages. Timing of the harvest was trickier in Tuscany, though, with a threat of September rain. Producers who picked too early or too late ended up with wines that don’t show the full potential of the vintage.

But those estates that got it right, Collemattoni among them, turned out wines of exceptional elegance and balance.

Why Collemattoni?  A cut above

Seriously under-known relative to its quality, Collemattoni is a very traditional estate, using a 20- to 25-day maceration and aging the Brunello in large Slavonian casks for at least 30 months. Their most modern twist is environmentalism: not only are they certified organic, but 80% of the winery’s electricity comes from solar panels and biomass processing.

Meanwhile the pricing is definitely a throw-back to past years. And if you take advantage of our Blog Special, you’ll have some delicious wine for now and (if you can cellar it) many years of future enjoyment.  Through Sunday 6/24, just use the code – COLLEMATTONI13 – once you add the wine to your cart.

Collemattoni-Brunello-di-Montalcino-2013-product feature

Collemattoni, Brunello di Montalcino, 2013 $49.99 $45.99 on 3 or more bottles.


There’s nothing better of a summer evening than a big steak off the grill (or out of the cast iron skillet) with a bottle of Brunello. This Collemattoni is great now, but only going to get better with time.


Want to get more offers like these straight to your inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

NYC: This Week’s Tastings!

Virgil Kaine Whiskey
Thursday, June 14th, 5-7pm
Founded by two Southern chefs, Virgil Kaine makes whiskeys that balance traditional Southern elegance and aesthetics with cutting-edge culinary know-how. Today we will taste:

We’ll be tasting:
Virgil Kaine, Robber Baron, Rye 
Virgil Kaine, High-Rye, Bourbon (Rip Track) 

Exploring the Wines of Bordeaux with Coline
Friday, June 15th, 5-7pm
Classic Bordeaux will never go out of style. There’s good reason, too—the wines are powerful and soulful. They speak to a centuries’-long history of precision winemaking. Please stop by to taste some of our favorite, affordable Bordeaux wines with the lovely Coline.

We’ll be tasting:
Château Poujeaux, Moulis-en-Médoc, 2004 
Château Puy Arnaud, Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, 2014 
Château Maison Blanche, Montagne Saint-Émilion “Les Piliers de Maison Blanche”, 2014 

New California Wines
Saturday, June 16th, 2-4pm
You may not know how much we love California wines, considering the wide variety of French, Spanish, and Italian wines that we stock. But we do! Especially when they are well-made, in a style reminiscent of those Old World wines, without too much oak or manipulation. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites to pour for you, including a field blend of too many white grapes to count, a rosé made from Portuguese grape called Touriga Nacional, and a carbonic Zinfandel we’ve written about more than once. Please, stop by for a taste!

We’ll be tasting:
Shebang, North Coast White “Cuvee IV”,  NV 
Arnot-Roberts, Rosé, 2017 
Broc Cellars, Vine Starr Zinfandel, 2015 

The delicious case of Benjamin Zidarich

Zidarich Malvasia 2013

Long before Sicily, there was Friuli

Friuli is special. It’s where the old Austrian empire ran into Italy, and where the Eastern Bloc of the Cold War met the West.

It’s also where the earth enjoys an unusually dense patch of limestone, and a climate ideal for producing fresh white wines and late-ripening red varieties. No wonder that—since long before Sicily emerged on the world stage—Friuli has been a center for experimenting, for natural wine-making, and for simply making lots of delicious wines.

Everybody associates all this with Gravner, and his bold, frankly tannic orange wines that shocked the wine world when they first appeared. But others have followed in his direction, with variations on the theme. Neal Rosenthal—importer of Cappellano, Bea and other great nature-focused Italian wines—has discovered a new one and just brought him to market.

Gravner-light: Zidarich’s lovely orange Malvazia

Benjamin Zidarich is definitely nature-focused. He farms biodynamically and expects to receive certification this year. In the winery he makes his white wines naturally and a touch orange—he leaves the juice on the skins for a bit to extract color, flavor and all the goodness skins and their polythenols have to give. But he takes a much gentler approach than you find at Gravner.

You see this in the color. The orange hue is obvious only when you hold the glass up to the light. And you get it in the taste. While many orange wines emphasize fruit peel and tannic power, that stuff is just an afterthought in Zidarich’s wines, which are really focused on minerality and the flavor of the grape variety.

In this case, the grape variety is lovely Malvasia. You can think of it as the Viognier of Italy—or spell it with a Z instead of S and call it the Viognier of Slovenia. The Malva(z/s)ia of Zidarich is in particular like Condrieu, with captivating florality—white flowers, jasmine—weaved together with tense fruit flavors. The limestone soils seem to float to the surface, lifting the wine with a light layer of minerals. The skin contact rounds out the wine, giving it presence and—we understand from the Rosenthals, who tasted a 12-year-old example—good aging capacity.


It’s a lovely dance between playful and serious, and also an excellent pairing for summer vegetables! This week only (through Sunday 6/17), we have a special price for blog readers. To take advantage, just use the code – ZIDARICH – once you add the wine to your cart.

Benjamin Zidarich, Malvasia/Malvazia, 2015 – $42.99 $36.99 

Buy Benjamin Zidarich, Malvazija/Malvasia, 2015


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We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

Eric Asimov’s Wine School: Get Aligoté for Your Next Lesson

Eric Asimov’s latest New York Times Wine School is up, and we’re studying Aligoté this time. And once again, you can find that wine here!

Aligoté is a longtime favorite variety at Flatiron Wines. Over the years, we’ve featured examples from many of our favorite producers, who also happen to be among Eric’s faves. But, as usual, we never get very much of them, so what we have we always offer to our loyal Weekly Newsletter Subscribers first — and with great discounts, too.

The email for this month’s Wine School lesson went out earlier this week. You can see it here now, NY Times Wine School: Aligoté, and be sure to click through to see what wines are left.  There has been a great amount of interest, as usual, but don’t panic if we’re sold out of something (or everything!). Because, as they say, the best is yet to come!

Next month we expect to have enough of the de Villaine Bouzeron to offer to our email subscribers separately. We tasted the wine last week, and it is absurdly delicious. I’ll be drinking a bunch, and laying some down for a while, too.  So if you missed out this time and you’d like to hear as soon as it’s available, be sure to sign up!

Without further delay, here are the wines for your next lesson on Aligoté, all available at 10% off on any three bottles from the list (mix and match or solid).

Browse the full selection of wines now, by clicking here, or learn more about each below before purchasing.

Domaine Michel Lafarge, Bourgogne Aligote “Raisins Dores”, 2015 $26.99
From 70-year-old Aligoté vines in Meursault, this is one of Burgundy’s greatest values in high quality white wine. Beautiful every vintage, but especially wonderful in 2015. We’ve had in-store tastings of this wine in the past (including poured by the Lafarges themselves!) which you were hopefully able to attend.

Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne Aligoté, 2016 $29.99
“If you can find Sylvain Pataille, snap it up,” says Asimov. Here it is–go for it! And if you want hear much more directly from Sylvain Pataille, take a listen to the I’ll Drink to That podcast on Aligoté. It’s a great deep dive on the variety in general!

Domaine Leroy, Bourgogne Aligote, 2011 $89.99
Lalou Bize-Leroy may be the greatest winemaker in Burgundy. She is certainly certainly the greatest female octogenarian winemaker of culty $1,000 Burgundies. Imagine having risen to that level in the wine trade as a woman born in the 1930s. And then imagine still making Aligoté in 2018. I can’t believe I get to drink this wine.

Remi Jeanniard, Bourgogne Aligote Vielles Vignes, 2016 $17.99 
Great, small, natural producer. Eric didn’t mention him, but at the price it’s a no-brainer, anyway. More 60-70 year old vines, but this time, from vineyards within Morey-Saint-Denis.

Domaine Henri Prudhon, Bourgogne Aligote, 2015 $19.99
Classic producer Neal Rosenthal brings to us. Delicious and precise and *not aligoté doré, so perfect as a point of comparison with, say the Lafarge.


Want to get more offers like these straight to your inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it’s also where we go in depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine.

We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site’s sophisticated technology isn’t functioning as described. 😉

John’s Dispatches from Burgundy

A new generation is shaking up Burgundy. Mathilde Grivot, Amelie Berthaut, Charles Lachaux, Charles Van Canneyt have all reinvigorated their family domaines. Then, there are a handful of new producers like Nicolas Faure, Armand Heitz of Heitz-Lochardet and Maxime Cheurlin of Domaine Georges Noellat. It’s hard to believe that another incredibly talented class from the Lycee Viticole de Beaune are now seasoned veterans with many vintages behind them.

This trip I arrived early Friday March 9th on Swiss International to Geneva.  On the same flight was Maxime Cheurlin of Domaine Georges Noellat. He offered me a ride to Beaune – lucky me. Max’s Swiss importer met us at the the airport and drove us through Geneva on a bright Friday morning, around the lakeshore, past the Jet d’Eau and into the hills to a beautiful house in a gated community about 500 meters from the French border. Some very famous and wealthy French people move to Switzerland for tax reasons, this house used to belong to a movie star, the next door neighbor was a former formula one champion.

We had breakfast – just the kind of breakfast you want after a long flight, rich steaming espresso, bread and butter followed by a bottle of 2001 Michel Bouzereau Meursault 1er Cru Charmes and some 24 month old Parma ham. Then, the 36 month old pata negra.  The wine was served blind – we didn’t come close to guessing what it was. I think we might have guessed that it was a white rhone wine, it didn’t seem to have a lot of acidity.

Then it was time to leave for France.  It’s 230 km to Beaune, takes about 2 1/2 hours on the autoroute over the Alps and through Savoie as you descend through the foothills, go straight to Macon, make a right turn and the next stop is the Cote D’Or.  It’s a stunning drive – when it’s not fogged in.  That morning was lovely, clear skies and sunny.  As you go down the Alps there is a particularly exhilarating stretch of elevated highway that passes through soaring limestone cliffs and millions of pine trees, in the valleys below alpine villages with their distinct architecture.  Lots of high pastures full of contented cows.  You can almost taste the Comte. We continued down the foothills, then low rolling hills leading to Macon.  We drove through fields of cereal grains north to Beaune.

Such fantastic roads and beautiful weather would inspire many to drive fast, as many people were that morning. They all passed us.  We stayed in the slow lane. Max is a very cautious driver, he mentioned to me that if he got one more point on his licence it would be revoked until January 1st 2019.  The French authorities are very strict about speeding tickets and if you lose your license it is very difficult to get it back. He has to get through the 2018 vintage.

After a quick stop for gasoline (and an espresso), the remaining drive went by quickly. Maxime dropped me  at my hotel in Beaune and drove to his home/cellars on the Rue des Chaumes in Vosne Romanée.  His backyard is the premier cru vineyard — he actually has a small patch of lawn that would be Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Les Chaumes”, if it were planted with vines.

I saw all of the young growers mentioned above at one or more tastings for the Grand Jours de Bourgogne. There were invitation-only tastings at exporters: some were very fancy, some were after the work day at a winery with other winegrowers invited to present their wines. It was a very busy week for everybody – this was all in addition to their normal duties. Tuesday March 13th was the DIVA tasting at the Chateau de Santenay in the morning (44 wineries) and a buffet lunch. In the afternoon there was an event with 46 Corton growers, then from 5 to 8 it was the “off-grid” tasting at Philippe Pacalet’s cellars at Beaune – 14 producers including Jean-Yves Bizot, Claire Naudin, Mathieu Lapierre, Chanterêves, etc. Everyday was full of tastings morning noon and night – a day in the Cote Chalonnaise, a day in Chablis, and then there was a tasting at the Clos de Vougeot with almost every grower from Vosne-Romanée present.

The following week I got to visit many growers at their wineries including Amélie Berthaut, Nicolas Faure and Maxime Cheurlin.  Here are my notes:

Domaine Berthaut
Amélie Berthaut has a brand new cellar, and she really needed the space. At the old cellar in Fixin there was hardly enough room. Now she has taken over almost all of the vineyards from both her mother’s and father’s sides of the family, she now has just over 13 hectares. Fixin, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanée, Échezeaux and Clos Vougeot. Lots of work for her vineyard manager and soon-to-be husband Nicolas Faure.  His domaine is only one hectare but he has to do all of that work after his day job.

We tasted in Amelie’s very cool modern poured concrete cuverie + barrel cellar in Fixin. Very nice, no more bumping your head and lots of room for her increased production. She is quite pleased with it.

Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits from on top of Vosne-Romanée, called Concoeur. Very rocky, shallow soils on top of limestone, It is very cold and windy and pruning is hard work. Bright sour cherry – strawberry fruit, sprightly, full of energy, saline, mineral, lip smacking acidity on the finish.  Wine that makes you salivate, wine that makes you hungry, wine to drink now. Very good. Incidentally, this is adjacent to the parcel the Gerbet family rents to Michel Digioia

Fixin AC — very deep topsoil, lots of clay, old vines, 40 years old. Sweet, good rich dark fruit, earthy, lots of mineral, good long finish. Another wine to drink young. Delicious.

Fixin “Les Crais” — a mix of old and young vines vinified separately and blended. Very bright and lively, dark fruits, minerals, earthy, medium-bodied, good powerful finish.

Fixin “En Combe Roy” — Amélie says this is her baby.  Her baby Premier cru. 60 year old vines with very small berries, from a selection massale from Fixin “Clos Napoleon”.

Gevrey Chambertin — bright, pomegranate like fruit, a beautiful tartness and lots of depth, a very layered wine.  Much going on here, will age beautifully, long finish.

Vosne-Romanée — Powerful, tangy, tannic & rich. Very good length, medium bodied, very complex. A lovely Vosne-Romanée from vines in Aux Reas and la Riviere.

Fixin 1er Cru “Les Arvelets” — from a very large parcel of almost 1 hectare. Great fruit and power.  Very tangy with lots of sap. Layers of complexity. Very long finish.  Really illustrates how fine Fixin can be. This will age beautifully if you can keep from drinking it.

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cazetiers” — dark cherry fruit, powerful, rich, fine, racy and elegant. Good long finish.

Vosne-Romanée “Les Petits Monts” — she has 1/2 of a hectare of 80 year old vines. “Planted before my grandfather”. It is so steep they have to plow with a winch. She says it’s a very quiet vineyard, maybe because there are no tractors? This has lovely sweet, dark fruit and layers and layers of complexity, very long finish.  It’s one of those wines I hope I can try again.

Clos Vougeot — from the bottom of the Clos but very old vines and good plant material. Nice perfume, good body and weight, complex, earthy, good long finish. Definitely Grand Cru. This is a very good example of this most mysterious grand cru which is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes disappointing. I think that the very best Clos Vougeot combines the perfume of Musigny with the power and spice of Grands Échezeaux.

Domaine Nicolas Faure 

In the minuscule hamlet of Meuilley is the home of Domaine Nicolas Faure – now a full 1 hectare of greatness.  I am very proud to sell his wines and am delighted when someone comes in and notices the distinct label and picks it up. The last fellow was Danish, the one before was French.  Every so often it is a sommelier or server who has heard the message.  Sales of the Nuits-Saint-Georges are limited to two bottles per customer.

These are wines of remarkable purity and persistence of flavor, they are farmed carefully and hand harvested, usually fermented in whole clusters and vinified with minimal sulphur.  He wants to do everything himself and on his own terms, his domaine has grown to 1 hectare and he thinks that is big enough.  I tasted on Monday March 19th.

2017 Aligoté “La Corvee de Bully”.  This wine comes from 100+ year old vines in Pernand-Vergelesses not far from Corton-Charlemagne.  Fresh, bright, white flowers + citrus, saline, good fruit, good balance very mineral.

2017 Coteaux Bourguignons “Mes Gamays” — really stinky and reduced.  Not approachable today.

2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Herbues”  — from the Vosne side of NSG below “Aux Saint Jacques” and bordering Vosne Romanee “Aux Raviolles”.  Also reduced but tasteable.  Beneath the stink there is a lot of pure fine big fruit. Something to look forward to next year.

2017 Aloxe-Corton — this is from two vineyard sites at the base of the hill of Corton, Les Paulands and Les Caillettes.  Really pretty with great cherry fruit, a great surprise. Lovely wine.

2016 Coteaux Bourguignons “Mes Gamays” — very concentrated and dense, floral, red fruits – a very good Gamay Noir a jus blanc – a noble grape!

2016 Nuits-Saint-Georges “Les Herbues”  — this is much more reasonable and giving than the 2017.  Nice crunchy red fruit and a real snap of mineral tanginess, this is a beautiful 2016 that can age nicely if you can hide some away but all of Faure’s wines drink well young, it is very hard not to open and drink them.

2016 Aloxe-Corton — red fruit, complexity, big but light on it’s feet, very nice, very agreeable, user-friendly.  I think I heard the words “airien” and “energie terrible”.  Bravo.

This village level Aloxe-Corton wine is from the most modest climats at the very base of the hill. Les Paulands is one of those vineyards that has village and 1er Cru Aloxe-Corton and Grand Cru.  Bressandes is above and Marechaudes is to the west. It is so damn good it is a testament to Nicolas’ skills as a grower, winemaker and eleveur. One can only imagine the heights he could reach if he had access to some premier cru or grand cru vineyards.  He has farmed many Grand Cru vineyards at Romanee-Conti and Prieure-Roch. He learned how to farm very steep slopes while working for Jean-Louis Chave and it will be interesting to see what he will do with his steep hillside plantings up in the terraces of Nuits Saint Georges. I can hardly wait.

Domaine Georges Noellat with Maxime Cheurlin (Seul proprietaire)

Max Cheurlin is focussed on expanding his holdings.  Like many small producers he also has a micro-negociant, the label reads “Maxime Cheurlin Noellat”.  He bought some Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Feusselottes, some Gevrey Chambertin “Champ”, some Beaune 1ers, a parcel of Meursault, some more Gevrey AC and 1er and he is looking for more.  He wants to make Bourgogne Rouge.  Now that is exciting for me. He loves his work.  He loves wine, he loves food, he loves his dog Lafite. He has boundless energy, his first vintage was 2010, he was twenty years old. I told him that I had some 2012 NSG 1er “Aux Boudots” in the shop and his eyes got wide and he asked me if I would sell them to him.  I asked why and he said he thought that was one of the first really good wines he had made and that he didn’t have any left, he had either sold or drank them all.  I only had 3 bottles left at that point and we both agreed it seemed silly to send them back to France. A passion for wine, indeed.

2016 Hautes Cotes de Nuits — very pretty, fresh and fine – red fruits with nice mineral snap, bracing acidity.  Max’s HCN vines are in Vergy, which is way up above the border of Nuit-Saint-Georges and Vosne Romanee. I like the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits more and more for two reasons;

1. I can afford wine from producers that I usually can’t.

2. These days the Hautes-Cotes de Nuits ripens and the wines are downright user friendly when they used to be mean and acidic.

2016 Beaune 1er Cru “Tuvillans” — from a parcel he splits with Pascal Marchand.  Nice floral aromas, red fruits, good mouthweight – very concentrated because of the 2016 very reduced yields.  This will drink well young.

2016 Gevrey Chambertin “Aux Echezeaux” — nice bouquet, good weight in the mouth. Nice, rich ripe red fruit, good mouth weight, mineral, complex. Long finish. Really delivers for a a village level Gevrey. Again, very concentrated.

2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Aux Boudots” — very Vosne, very fine. Spice box on the nose. Ripe tannins. Lots of depth, complexity, power – this has everything. He has over a hectare of Boudots and he has a really good touch with this.

2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Cras” — blackberries and black cherries and plums and five spice powder. Rich and pure and super fine, very Vosne. Super powerful and complex with ripe tannins that seem to melt in the fruit. A remarkable wine.

2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Petits Monts” — a little reduction but not so much that you can’t taste what is underneath.  Black fruits, supple tannin, concentration. I wrote “very Vosne” which is funny because it is Vosne. Such a beautiful mineral, medium bodied but powerful. Super long finish. Elegant.

2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Beaux Monts” — very fine pure and rich. Mineral, spice, dark fruits, very very long finish. Another super wine

2016 Grands Echezeaux — wow: big and rich and “airien”, a big powerful wine that is light on its feet like a big cat, it has grace and subtlety.

2015 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Aux Cras”  — this was pretty, super ripe and forward and tangy.  Very refreshing after the barrel samples.