I’ve had the great pleasure of sourcing and selling German wine for over ten vintage releases – and not one has been as exciting as the release of 2015s! For the German wine crowd, summer can feel like a Riesling version of the holiday season – lots of happy demand for the just-landed summer quaffers, salivating pre-arrivals, eagerly-anticipated GG releases and the looming annual auctions. But the 2015s have taken all that to the next level! And rightly so since the wines themselves are also next level. 2015 was a vintage with an ideal configuration of elements that resulted in many near-perfect wines. Growers are claiming similarities along the lines of 2001 and (from those that can remember) 1971. If you recall, there was a very warm stretch in August that amped up the grapes physiological ripeness, but the cool, dry autumn meant they did not develop much botrytis. Harvest time was not rushed so the bunches could achieve optimal depth and extract creating textural and aromatic complexity, all the while temperatures stayed cool after that one heat spike, so the grapes retained natural acidity, freshness and energy. Starting now and throughout the fall we will be doing all we can to source as much of the best of the 2015 releases for you. Please sign up for our Riesling list to receive 2015 offers from our known favorite estates – Prum, Kruger-Rumpf, Peter Lauer, Weiser-Kunstler, Willi Schaefer, Schafer-Frohlich, A.J. Adam, Carl Loewen, Schloss Lieser, and Egon Muller. We will also be highlighting a number of under-the-radar producers who made fantastic wines not to be missed – Merkelbach, Eugen Muller, Knebel, Kunstler, and Dreissigacker are just a few – it’s a fun vintage to explore and cast a wide net and catch some very, very good Rieslings. Cheers, Rosemary Email Address Riesling Here is a list of the current 2015 Rieslings in stock and ready to purchase More Riesling questions? Email Rosemary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Under the La Closerie label, Prévost makes only two wines from a tiny 2.2 hectare parcel, Les Béguines, southwest of Reims in the village of Gueux. The grapes there are almost all entirely 40-year-old Pinot Meunier vines, with a very teeny amount of young-vine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc in an adjacent bloc which (for now) are blended in to Prévost's flagship wine. The soils in this region are calcareous with sand, and the signature chalk of the Champagne region lies many meters below the surface, making these wines and interesting illumination of the varied terroir of Champagne. All of Prévost wines are fermented in neutral oak barrels, and then bottled the following summer without fining, filtration, or cold-stabilization, and only a minimal amount of sulfur. Prévost prefers post-disgorgement aging and these wines spend less than three years in on the lees before release – which is why they cannot be officially vintage labeled. Though they are conveniently coded with the year of harvest (LC13 is harvest 2013 for example). There are fewer than 10,000 bottles a year in total production. This wine embodies all the loveliest qualities of Pinot Meunier and the northern Champagne zone it thrives in – a unique character of umami, hay, earth, rose hip, structure, and generosity packed with the saline minerality signature of this subregion of Champagne. As you can imagine, with only 2.2 hectares we see very little wine each release. That said, it’s worth the effort to find them and we spent a long while sourcing what we could to have a little stock of the most recent release (LC13). These are some of the best Champagne additions you can bring to your cellar. With proper mid-term aging they will weave together harmoniously, becoming more structured and generous with each passing year. How long? You will be rewarded with 5-10 years of patience – but, of course, it's a joy to check in with a bottle here and there along the way. Cheers, Rosemary Jerome Prevost, Champagne Brut Nature Closerie “Les Beguines”, [LC13] $104.99
The big town of Chablis has a population of about 2,500 people. North of Chablis proper is the tiny hamlet of La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne with a population of 100. Jean-Claude Bessin's house is found there. It is an immaculately preserved little jewel built of local white limestone. Not surprisingly – as he was trained as an architect – everything is very ship-shape. So are his cellars, nothing is out of place. Some wineries look like a bomb went off, they are studies in chaos, whereas Bessin's cellar is calm and tranquil. Hoses are coiled, the floors are clean, the barrels in rows just so, like you are onboard a yacht. Jean-Claude married a Tremblay and was given the opportunity to take over his father-in-law's vineyards in Chablis. His first vintage was 1992. Jean-Claude is a charming and friendly middle-aged Chablisien winegrower – wiry and fit from working in the rock strewn vineyards. The demanding terroir of Chablis sculpts both the wines and its inhabitants! Very cold in winter, hot in summer, there is an intensity to the place – and to the wines, which taste like liquid rocks. Jean-Claude farms about 30 acres. Vine age is kept old by replanting only when necessary. Bessin's wines have real density and put on more weight as they age while retaining their remarkable, distinctive saline and mineral flavors. Most see no new oak; the most is 10%. 2014 is a remarkable vintage for white Burgundy from Macon, through the Cote Chalonnaise and Cote D'Or, all the way up to Chablis. I really think you should buy all of the 2014 White Burgundy while you can and cellar most of it – starting with Bessin. Cheers, John Truax Chablis AC - $22.99 - The Chablis AC was planted in 1950-1974-1996 & 2001. This can be drunk now. This is a great vintage to stock up on $20 Chablis. Chablis AC VV - $27.99 - The Chablis Vieille Vignes is sourced from vineyards planted in 1950 & 1974. You can start drinking now but it will be better with a couple years or so of bottle age. Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume "La Piece au Comte" $39.99 - Vines planted in the heart of Fourchaume back in 1934. Bessin's signature wine and a Flatiron favorite. Burghound "Sweet Spot". Chablis Grand Cru "Valmur" - $59.99 - Jean-Claude claims not to know how old the vines in his 2 hectares of Grand Cru Valmur really are. I found one source that stated his Kimmeridgian clay and limestone vineyard was planted in 1947 - 1962 - 1974 - 1995 & 2000. Only fruit from the oldest vines make it into his bottling of Valmur. If you can - try to keep this for 5 years - or decant. This may be the least expensive Burghound "Don't Miss!" that you can find from this incredible vintage.
On my recent trip to Sardinia with my partner Matthew, one thing I found was that seemingly everyone I met was at least indirectly connected to the wine culture that exists there. From hotel clerks and waiters to cab drivers and people on the beach, everyone knew someone who worked at a vineyard. Brothers, aunts, cousins- the wine industry permeates the culture to a degree of which I was previously unaware. That said, it should have come as no surprise that on the drive from the airport in Olbia to my first destination of Alghero, just as I was entering town I came upon the Sella & Mosca winery, which considers itself to be the foremost producer of wine on the island. Without knowing the exact numbers, I can certainly attest to the fact that their wine is everywhere on the island. I don't think there's a single restaurant I visited that didn't include their wines on its list. Like most Sardinian producers, they focus on Cannonau and Vermentino. Alghero is a wonderful small city, with a gorgeous kilometers long beach and stunning old-town. Dining in restaurants on the old bastions while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and indulging in local wine is an experience I’ll not soon forget. After a few nights in Alghero, we were on our way down the west coast, which was a beautiful, if very curvy, drive. A few days later something truly magical happened. I'd been staying in Oristano, a city and county known for it's Vernaccia, and had driven a few kilometers south to the town of Santa Giusta to do a bit of sightseeing. The guidebook I had featured the cathedral there, which I did visit and which was lovely, but after that it turned out that there wasn't a whole lot to do in the town. Sitting on the steps of the cathedral and at a loss for what to do next, we googled "nearby wineries" and found a place called Cantina del Bovale, which was about 15 kilometers away. They were open, and we had a car, so off we went. The offices and house sit in the middle of their vineyards, so though we had the address correctly plugged into the GPS, it felt like we were in the wrong place. Sure enough, though, when Matthew got out of the car and approached the teenager playing basketball in the driveway (Christian, as we later learned) we learned that we were in the right place. He went inside to get his parents, Marcello and Tatiana, the owners and managers of the winery, and they greeted us warmly, though admittedly with a bit of confusion. Their tastings for the day were over, and they were sitting down to taste the wines with a few friends who were visiting town. It's times like this when Matthew's fluency in Italian comes in really handy, because we often find when traveling that we seem to get a lot more freebies and special treatment then we imagine other Americans abroad receive. Delighted to find an American who could converse in their own language (despite both having excellent English) and one who could understand the conversation but only offer monosyllabic responses (me), they invited us in to sit with their visitors and taste their wines. When Marcello and Tatiana found out we were visiting from New York City that was like the icing on the cake. They just happened to be planning a trip to New York in November, and were eager to ask us about the city. We left with a couple of bottles of their Arcuentu Bovale, a bottle of Sabbie D'Oro Vermentino, and some new friends. I successfully managed to convey my phone number in Italian, and we plan to have dinner when they’re in town. Sadly, their wine isn't currently available in the U.S., but one of the reasons for the trip is to speak with some importers, so hopefully it will be here soon! Next we were off to the “capital” of Sardinia, Cagliari. As the largest city on the island, there was plenty to explore, but the most important destination for me was the Argiolas winery, located about 15 kilometers north of the city in the small village of Serdiana. Here at Flatiron Wines, we carry both their “Perdera” Monica di Sardegna and “S’Elegas” Nuragus di Cagliari. Argiolas has 230 hectares of vineyards, which are located about thirty kilometers from the winery, and produce about two million bottles per year, using sustainable farming practices and organic techniques whenever possible. They also produce about fifty percent of their own energy, and many projects are in the works to continue moving the business in the direction of responsible farming, as the family’s third generation continues to build the brand. All of the wines at Argiolas are fermented in steel, then concrete, and finally French oak. The large concrete tanks are surrounding steel tanks, which is what the wine is actually making contact with. After bottling, the wines are further refined in the bottle for, depending on the wine, up to twenty four months. Argiolas really made itself known as not only an exceptional Sardinian wine producer, but one that was on par with the rest of Italy and the world when it’s “Turriga” blend was named best wine in Italy in 1995. “Turriga” has since become their signature wine, and the produce between 35,000 and 45,000 of it each year. In the shop I tasted the 2011 vintage, which, with it’s incredibly rich nose and smooth yet spicy medium finish, did not disappoint. I couldn’t leave without a bottle, and on the recommendation of Giulia Annis, the Hospitality Director of Argiolas, I took home a bottle of the 2008, a vintage commemorating the twentieth anniversary of “Turriga.” It’s ready to drink now, but I’ll likely keep it for another year or so. I don’t know that I’ll be able to wait much longer than that. In their tasting room they offer several packages, “base” and “top” being the most common and readily available for day to day bookings. Knowing that “Perdera” and “S’Elegas” were on the base tasting package, I went with that one, with the idea of familiarizing myself with their more accessible wines that we could potentially carry here in the shop. That said, we were seated at a table with a very pleasant Danish couple who were tasting the “top” package, which apparently gained them the privilege of having each bottle left with them while they tasted, and they were, let’s say, very generous with letting us taste as well, so I had to chance to taste most of the portfolio currently offered. Without going into detail about all of them, it should speak for itself that, in addition to the “Turriga,” I took home bottles of “Iselis Red,” “Meri,” and “Is Solinas.” It was a pleasure to taste both of the wines that we carry, “Perdera” and “S’Elegas,” in house and with Giulia’s guidance. “Perdera” is a blend of Monica, Carignano, and Bovale Sardo. With a deep ruby red color and intense, vinous nose, this traditional south Sardinian everyday wine has an almost sweet aftertaste and a round, tannic, fruit-forward finish. “S’Elegas” is 100% Nuragus, is straw yellow in color, and has a pleasantly fruity and fragrant nose. It’s incredibly crisp, possesses a light salinity, and has a medium finish that is slightly bitter, something that’s very typical of Nuragus. Visiting Argiolas was a perfect way to spend our final day in Sardinia, and that night at a restaurant back in Cagliari, we ordered a bottle of “Korem,” their wine second in line to the throne behind “Turriga.” The experience of ordering wine in a restaurant from a place I had visited just that day served to perfectly reinforce my ideas of Sardinian wine culture, and how truly it permeates daily life there. No dinner in Sardinia would be complete without Mirto, a traditional Sardinian digestivo made from the myrtle plant. It comes in both red and white varieties, and is made through the alcoholic maceration of the berries and leaves of the plant. It’s best served chilled, and tastes of cinnamon and maple, with an almond-like quality to it. I’m not much of a digestivo person, but Mirto is about as good as it gets. Matthew, on the other hand, is big on amari, and as such had mirto every evening, and brought home a bottle as well. The island of Sardinia is a magical place, especially for wine lovers. It would have been nearly impossible to explore the island in the way that we did without a car, so if you’re planning a visit, my number one tip is that a rental is an absolute must. You’ll get to drive the unbelievably scenic coastal roads, access spectacular beaches, and most importantly, visit wineries with ease. Cheers, Chris O'Neill Check out Argiolas at www.argiolas.it And Cantina del Bovale at www.cantinadelbovale.it Argiolas, Monica di Sardegna "Perdera", 2013 $12.99 Argiolas, Nuragus di Cagliari "S'Elegas", 2014 $12.99