Top Five $20-$30 Wines I am Most Excited about Now

Eric Asimov has his 20 under $20. What if you want to spend just a touch more? A whole new world of very interesting wines opens up. Here is my current top 5 list in the $20-$30 range: 1.  Le Rocher des Violettes, Montlouis-sur-Loire Sec “Negrette”, 2014  - $24.99 The Central Loire, with its great Cab Francs and Chenin Blancs, is becoming super trendy these days. Happily, pricing remains remarkably reasonable. Natural wine producer Le Rocher des Violettes is very much one of the trend-setters, and the wines are gorgeous! 2.  La Salle de Chateau Poujeaux, Moulis en Medoc, 2007 - $29.99 Here we apply two rules to finding value in Bordeaux: look to second wines, and look to over-looked ... Read More »

Cala Cala: Gulp Gulp Wine from Calabretta

Calabretta's library releases of traditional, old-vine Nerello Mascalese have been one of the wine community's favorite wines–and values– since the 2001 hit our shores a few short years ago. But it turns out Calabretta makes another wine, one for easy-drinking everyday pleasure that's at least as great a value. It's a wine you can just drink, without having to think about it too hard or spend too much money. Logically, they call it "Cala Cala," which means "Gulp Gulp." Normally, such wines are young-vine blends made from the most recent vintage in a very fresh style, probably made entirely in steel. But Calabretta isn't your run of the mill winery; remember, the last Rosato they ... Read More »

Boulay Vertical

For years, we have been advising that Sancerre should be added to your list of must-cellar categories. I recently had the privilege of attending a vertical tasting of Gerard Boulay's single vineyard Sancerre "Clos de Beaujeu", going back almost 60 years, including the last bottle of 1959 in Gerard Boulay's personal cellar. It was truly gratifying to experience such stunning confirmation of our advice. It's funny, but followers of Boulay have a tendency to overlook the wine from this Clos. Of Boulay's three single vineyards, it has the least name recognition. This is surely because his other vineyards, Mont Damnes and Le Grand Cote, are also made by the famous Cotat cousins. And let's face ... Read More »

Barbaresco & Barolo: What’s the Difference?

They are both made 100% from Nebbiolo grown in the Langhe. But Barolo and Barbaresco are clearly not the same wine. What's the difference? The easy answer is the legal one: Barolo and Barbaresco are two different DOCs. They are located in slightly different parts of the Langhe (see the map below). There are slightly different rules that they have to follow -- for example Barolos have to be aged for 38 months, of which at least 18 months are in barrel, while Barbaresco only requires 26 months, of which 9 must be in barrel. Barolos have to hit 13% alcohol and Barbarescos only 12.5%   I guess that sort of thing is great to know for your WSET exam, but it doesn't get you into the heart and soul ... Read More »

Bartolo Mascarello’s Dolcetto: Here Now, for a Hot second!

We've been championing Piedmont's "little grapes"–Dolcetto, Freisa, Pelaverga, etc.–for years now, both in our newsletters and in the shop. So we were psyched when Eric Asimov turned to Dolcetto for November's New York Times Wine School. It was a great piece, as always. But it did include one wine that was a bit of a tease: Bartolo Mascarello's Dolcetto. Like all of Bartolo's wines, the Dolcetto is amazing. It both exemplifies and transcends the type. Like all great Dolcetto it's a delicious, fruit-focused taste of Piedmontese terroir when it's young. But unlike most Dolcetto (which you should drink, as Hugh Johnson says, youngest available), it ages magically. With a few months or ... Read More »

2014 White Burgundies from Lafouge

Auxey-Duresses has always been in the shadow of its better-known neighbors, Volnay and Meursault. We like to talk about the "Edges of Burgundy"—places just off the beaten track of famous villages. These Edges provide tremendous value. Auxey-Duresses, quite literally at the edge of one of the most famous white wine villages in the world, may provide the greatest value of all. Auxey-Duresses, flush up by Meursault, is one of those magic places in Burgundy that grows both great red and white grapes. White is the focus on the Meursault side of the village. Wines made by Auxey's top growers can rival great Meursault, and we think Lafouge is at the very top of the heap. (D'Auvenay does make some ... Read More »

The Reasonable Cellar:  Savary Chablis

Keeping a cellar may seem fussy, complicated and expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Just a year ago, I purchased a case of Savary Chablis 2012. With a 10% case discount, it was about $22 per bottle. I took the case, and I put it in my basement. It was not a refrigerated space, but it never gets that warm in the summer, probably never above 70. This is not ideal for long term storage, but just fine for a year. Recently I was stumbling around the basement looking for my kid's ice skates, and there was the case. We are selling the 2014 right now in the shop, and online. It's a great vintage, but not yet quite where I like my village-level Chablis. Young Chablis is fresh and piercing, and I ... Read More »

Flatiron Wines SF: Celebrating one year

Dear Friends of Flatiron, We are excited to announce a very special event taking place tomorrow evening in our San Francisco shop. As we are a little over a year old now, it is only appropriate that we have a proper celebration. And what better way than to have a party with 7 winemakers from legendary importer Becky Wasserman? These growers have traveled all the way from France and Switzerland and will be finishing up their latest 'tour de États-Unis', so don't miss out on the chance to meet them, imbibe, and be merry with us! The event will take place on Tuesday (3/7) evening from 5pm-7pm and tickets will be only $15 to taste up to 16 wines & there will be cider too! Below is ... Read More »

2Naturkinder: Wunder Nature Kids from Franconia

"The majority of wine drinkers aren't aware of all the additives used to give wine the right taste, color and mouthfeel. Natural wines can look & taste unusual & crazy but it makes the wine a lot more authentic and individual. Our mission is to produce and bring natural wine from the vineyards of Franconia to the glasses of people appreciating pure wine." - Melanie Drese & Michael Voelker The natural wine movement began in Beaujolais with the work of Jules Chauvet. From there, it spread to a few other corners of France, like the Loire, the Rhône, and the Languedoc. It then took a trip to Italy, especially Sicily. Bits of it are now showing up in California, Australia, and ... Read More »

The Chablis-Like Red Wines of Dominique Gruhier

It was, of course, a thrill and an honor to host superstar Burgundy producers Lafarge and Mugnier at our store for a free tasting the other night. And it was no surprise that their wines are awfully good. The biggest revelation of the evening for just about everyone was Dominique Gruhier.  And "everyone" includes Freddy Mugnier, who had never tasted the wines before and was supremely impressed! [caption id="attachment_11024" align="alignnone" width="640"] Wines of Dominique Gruhier[/caption] You see, Mugnier, like so many U.S. Burgundy drinkers these days, admires purity and clarity over power and ripeness. And Gruhier's wines are so pure and clear that they seem to shimmer, like the water ... Read More »