The New York Times’ Best Wines Under $20

The New York Times’ Best Wines Under $20

From the beginning, our philosophy has been simple: buy wines made by small producers, families and artisans that honestly reflect the world’s great terroirs and traditions. The New York Times’ latest list of the 20 best wines under $20 has just been released, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see which bottles made the cut.

The theme of this list aligns decisively with the type of wine we love to drink and sell—those bottles that speak of where they come from and the individuals who crafted them. When a vigneron spends each day amongst the vines or in the cellar, he or she has no choice but to focus on the quality of the wine.

Even with a full cellar, it can be difficult to open a special bottle on an otherwise nondescript day—and this is where a wine from the list below comes into play. While good wines can be found in any price range, there are so many wines in the $15-20 range that meet all of our needs. They are delicious, they are complex, and perhaps most importantly, they are affordable. Once again, Eric Asimov presents us with a diverse and compelling list of wines, most of which we were able to obtain for you.

It is with great pleasure that we offer a selection of the Times’ picks.

As soon as this article is published, the wines will almost immediately disappear from the marketplace. This is your chance to beat the rush!

________________________________

Oddero, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, 2015 $16.99
Classic, but lifted, Barbera from a family winery in Barolo, dating back to the 18th century. There is ample cherry and blackberry fruit, enlivened by a hit of pepper and fine tannins. For pizza, pasta or antipasti, this is a no-brainer.

Happs, Margaret River Sémillon, 2014 $16.99
Hailing from one of the most remote wine regions in the world, this Sémillon is both fresh and rich, with a golden hue and a luxurious texture. There are notes of citrus, especially mandarin, and dry wildflower honey. A gorgeous wine on its own or with lighter food.

Lambert de Seyssel, Petit Royal de Seyssel Methode Traditionelle, NV $19.99
A remarkably complex sparkling wine from the Savoie, this is made up of two obscure, indigenous grapes: Molette and Altesse. Molette brings acidity and citrusy notes, while Altesse brings complexity and a lovely floral bouquet. Two years aging sur latte ensures toastiness and a long, lingering finish. You don’t need an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly when it’s this delicious and this affordable.

Raul Perez, Bierzo Ultreia Saint Jacques Mencía, 2017 $19.99
Mencía is perennially one of our favorite grapes, and Raúl Perez’s, bolstered with a bit of Bastardo (also known as Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (alias Alicante Bouschet) packs a lot of power into one bottle. Perez is one of the finest winemakers working today in Spain, and his entry-level bottlings show true finesse. Bright red berries and cacao dominate here.

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Pfalz Wachenheimer Dry Riesling, 2017 $18.99
Riesling grown in the Pfalz, Germany’s warmest region, can yield remarkably aromatic and elegant dry wines. Bürklin-Wolf’s Estate Riesling is dry, yet juicy and redolent with stone fruit and lime leaves. All of their farming is biodynamic, and 2017’s long, warm summer makes for a delicious wine that expertly combines power and grace.

Empire Estate, Finger Lakes Riesling Dry, 2017 $17.99
This little dazzler starts with blossom, peach, and pear on the nose, and the palate is dry as a bone full of minerality, lemon pith, and a cool limeade finish. It’s reminiscent of Rieslings from Australia’s Clare Valley, but with an assertive, kaleidoscopic verve than reminds us of Keller.

La Palazzetta di Flavio, Rosso di Montalcino, 2017 $19.99
This is a gorgeous example of young Sangiovese, grown organically and intended to be drunk young. Its fresh acidity and luminous red fruit make for an all-around delectable wine. It has a lovely floral aroma, with a touch of violets, and buoyant, cheerful fruit.

Sidonio de Sousa, Bairrada Reserva Tinto, 2015 $18.99
Baga is one of a myriad of characterful grapes indigenous to Portugal, and this wine is 100% Baga and tastes sort of like Cabernet Franc meets Trousseau. Spicy, herbaceous, fruity, and fresh. Truly one of the best wines under $20 we’ve ever tasted. Really a knock-out at this price.

Domaine Bru-Baché, Jurançon Sec, 2015 $16.99
Bone dry, with waxy yellow fruit and hints of ginger, this is an elegant and versatile sipper. Gros Manseng produces crisp and complex wines, and thanks to the limestone and clay on which they are grown, wines of intense minerality. Jurançon is perhaps an unknown quantity to many, but one which we all should be acquainted with.

Bonny Doon Vineyard, Clos de Gilroy Monterey County Grenache, 2017 $16.99
Mostly Grenache, enlivened by a little Mourvèdre, this is all dazzling red fruit—raspberries and sour cherry—but there’s plenty of earth and graphite to keep it all grounded and balanced. It is easy-drinking and charming, makes a perfect accompaniment to lighter fare, and is best served with a slight chill, for ultimate refreshment.

Broadside, Paso Robles Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 $19.99
This is Classic California Cabernet, with a lighter touch. Grown at 1,000 feet above sea level, with cool winds whipping off of the Pacific Ocean, this wine captures all of the blackcurrant, plum and blackberry notes we expect in Cabernet Sauvignon, with notes of fresh herbs (mint, rosemary) and earth that boost its

Guillaume Clusel, Coteaux du Lyonnais “Traboules”, 2017 $16.99
Unusually for the Northern Rhone, this delightful wine is made from 100% Gamay, and it encapsulates what we love about both the Rhone and Beaujolais—lithe, energetic red fruit, crushed Provençal herbs and just enough structure to make things interesting. This is an all-purpose wine, to drink with food or with nothing at all. Serve slightly below room temperature.

Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny, 2017 $18.99
Classic Saumur-Champigny (perhaps the most under-valued AOC of the Loire, even with the influence of Clos Rougeard—baffling!), with ripe cherries, dried herbs and electric minerality. Supple and elegant, this is a wonderful example of vibrant Loire Valley Cabernet Franc from a producer dedicated to biodiversity and sustainability.

Grifalco, Aglianico del Vulture “Gricos”, 2016 $18.99
100% estate-grown fruit from younger vines, this is Aglianico for drinking young. It has all of the spice and grip of Southern Italy’s favorite red grape, made in a fresh and forward style. This is smoky, peppery and plummy, all at once, thanks to the unique volcanic terroir of Vulture.

Château Massereau, Bordeaux Superieur, 2016 $19.99
Massereau is simply one of the best values in the entire Bordeaux region. The viticulture is so diligent and the winemaking so unobtrusive, that you could consider this a natural wine. But the well-delineated flavors, redolent of of dark forest fruits and wild herbs, are as classic as it gets.

L’Umami, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2017 $19.99
Truffles and mushrooms galore in this little Willamette bottling. There is some a splash of red cherry, a kiss of oak, and a dash of baking spices in what is a killer value for Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Foxglove (Varner), Zinfandel Paso Robles, 2015 $16.99
Classic Cali Zin from Paso Robles, which is known for big, rich reds with hints of chocolate and spice. Although it’s quite brambly, it’s not jammy or cloying. No, this wine is fresh and dark-fruited, full of plums, blackberries and dark cherry, and it is a fantastic value for a great example of California winemaking heritage.

School is in Session: Nebbiolo from Valtellina

A beautiful aspect of the study of wine is exploring the expression of one grape in multiple landscapes—the idea of terroir. In his latest Wine School, Eric Asimov returns to the world of classically styled wines, introducing us to the wines of Valtellina, made with the Nebbiolo grape. While most of us are probably familiar with Barolo, Barbaresco or Langhe Nebbiolo, Valtellina wines offer an altogether entirely different experience.

We’ve been guilty of proliferating the idea that Nebbiolo will fail to thrive if planted outside of its home base of Piedmont—of course, we’re thinking only of the occasional attempt out of California to create New World Barolo or Barbaresco, not the elegant and earthy wines from the steep hills of Valtellina, in Lombardy.

Although it’s located just northeast of Piedmont, Valtellina seems a world away. Here, the Nebbiolo grape is known as Chiavennasca, the language is markedly not Italian, and the terrain is precipitously terraced. It is only thanks to the vineyards’ Southern exposure that the grapes ripen at all, in such a cool and mountainous region.

While wines from Valtellina have all of the crunchy red fruit and distinct tannins of Nebbiolo from Piedmont, the acidity and finesse are amplified, thanks to the cool air coming off of the nearby Alps, Pò River and the region’s many lakes. The silky texture and clear, singing fruit is very nearly reminiscent of great red Burgundy; perhaps it’s the the intermix of power and grace that leads to such conclusions.

Like Nebbiolo from Piedmont or Alto Piemonte, these wines provide an excellent foil to a diverse selection of dishes: classic Italian fare, from pizza to osso buco, is a no-brainer, but don’t stop there. Mushroom-centric dishes bring earthiness to match the herbaceousness and acidity of the wine; something decadent, like a risotto Milanese would make an excellent tablemate.

Check out the New York Times’ selections:

Ar. Pe. Pe., Valtellina Rosso, 2015 $36.99
Ar.Pe.Pe. can be considered the Bartolo Mascarello of Valtellina, with its rigorously traditional approach to wine and it excellent quality. The Rosso is a great juicy and fresh introduction to their exquisite Nebbiolo. Licorice, bright red cherry and mountain air make for a spectacularly elegant bottle of wine.

Sandro Fay, Valtellina Superiore Valgella “Ca Morei”, 2015 $37.99
This shares many of the classic characteristics of great Barolo—anise, fresh and dried cherry, dusty rose petals, leather—with fine tannins and just a hint of spice. Whether you’re drinking now or a decade from now, you’ll find great pleasure here.

Aldo Rainoldi, Valtellina Superiore Grumello, 2015 $38.99
From some of the finest vines in Valtellina, this is wine meant for aging. This wine shows some of the earthier, darker nuances of Nebbiolo: smoke, dark cherry and dusky herbs. The hillsides are so steep that the grapes have to be taken back to the winery via helicopter!

Aldo Rainoldi, Rosso di Valtellina, 2017 $23.99
Delicious and approachable in its youth, this combines freshness with gorgeous, supple fruit. It is aromatic and lifted, with notes of bright red cherry and berries.

 

unnamed (1)

Grower Champagne 101: Class is in Session!

Champagne is rediscovering itself through the eyes of the farmer, but what does that mean?

Traditionally, small farmers didn’t make their own wine. Instead, these grapes were sold to  houses, who would blend grapes from across the region to create a “house style”. Very often many excellent wines were made, but very few had any traditional sense of terroir.

With help from passionate Importers, and a cultural shift towards authentic experiences, the region has been transformed. Now, thousands of growers keep grapes for themselves and make their own unique expressions of terroir. Because holdings are often tiny it is now possible to experience site specific wines, of extraordinary clarity.

Make this discovery for yourself on Saturday, December 1, as Mike Carleton, co-owner of Transatlantic Bubbles leads a class featuring some of his favorite producers from the Grower Champagne movement.

In this spotlight on terroir, Mike will highlight the differences between growersand houses by examining the sub-regions where their grapes are grown.Popping open some truly great bottles, Mike will take us beneath the surface of Champagne’s bubbly façadeshowcasing the terroir below.

Flatiron Wines Presents

Grower Champagne 101
Take a virtual walk through the vineyards of Champagne through the bubbles in your glass.

Time: Saturday, December 1st @ 6pm
Location: A+I Architecture – 16 W 22nd St. 
Instructor: Mike Carleton, co-owner, Transatlantic Bubbles
Cost: $120 per person
Bonus: All featured wines are 15% off for attendees!

Topic:
The Aube, Cote de Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and Valley Marne are all sub appellations of Champagne, distinctly different in their exposures, soils, and microclimates. They each show characteristics which can be found in the wines made there. Individual producers in each of these villages express themselves differently through their wines, but usually the wines remain faithful to their terroir.

Featured Wines:
Robert Barbichon, Champagne Blanc de Noir, NV
Corbon, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru “Avize”, 1996
Marguet, Champagne Bouzy, 2013
Alexandre Filaine, Champagne Brut “Speciale Damery”, NV

Plus … a secret special bonus wine!

 

Click HERE to sign up online, or email sydney.snyder@flatiron-wines.com to reserve your seat today!

10/30! 6pm! Meet the Winemaker: Beaujolais’ Yohan Lardy in NYC

lardy

We are very pleased to have Yohan Lardy in the shop this Tuesday, 10/30, pouring some of his excellent Cru Beaujolais and chatting about his work in the vines, making some of the best Gamay out there. Yohan is obsessive about terroir, and each of his cuvées demonstrate a unique aspect of Beaujolais’ various villages. His are wines of vibrancy; bright, cheery red fruit meets finesse and minerality for some truly knockout bottles.

 

Whether planted on granite, quartz or manganese, Lardy’s wines are irresistible. He is the 5th generation of his family to make wine in Beaujolais, but only started his own label for the 2012 vintage. He uses no pesticides or herbicides, instead allowing plants to thrive in the space between vines. All harvest is manual, and his work in the cellar is impeccable, allowing him to use only the tiniest amounts of SO2.

 

With vines dating back to the early 1900s, his wines give you an idea of just how long great wine has been made in Burgundy’s neighbor to the south. These are powerful, elegant expressions of a region and a style we love. Please join us this Tuesday, October 30th, from 6pm to 8pm, to taste tradition and terroir, in a glass.

Announcing Flatiron Wine’s Education Program

Flatiron Wines & Spirits is thrilled to announce the launch of our much anticipated series of wine and spirits classes. This project marks an exciting new chapter in the shop’s evolution and we want you to be a part of it. Classes are approximately 90 minutes long, and are held at the beautiful office of a+i architecture, just around the corner from the shop. We will cover a range of topics, from Wine 101 basics to extremely specific and geeky topics.

Our first class, a spotlight on Nebbiolo, sold out almost immediately. This class will be followed by a seminar on Bordeaux, led by our Bordeaux guru JR, on October 13th. JR is a passionate wine professional who has spent a great deal of time tasting with Bordeaux winemakers, both in France and as part of his long career in the NYC wine scene. You will taste a wide range of examples of Bordeaux, both the classic and the cutting edge.

On October 20th, we’re very excited to be hosting a session on winemaking led by the winemaker at the Slovenian winery, Kabaj. Kabaj has a foot in both the modern wine world and the ancient wine world, and they employ modern techniques like stainless steel as well as timeworn traditions like quevri, the clay vessels used to age wine, famously used in Eastern Europe to produce wines of great character and structure.

Email our education coordinator Sydney at sydney.snyder@flatiron-wines.com to sign up for our education updates and stay tuned for announcements regarding our long-term schedule of classes to be taught by a range of experts across the NYC wine community and beyond.

Seating for these classes is limited. Enroll today! We promise you’ve never had this much fun at school.

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.

NYC: This week’s tastings

Meet the Winemaker and the Wine Writer: Will Bucklin
Thursday, May 31st, 5-7pm

Bucklin is a relatively young winery, but you wouldn’t guess it tasting the wines. These are classic New World wines, with an Old World feel to them. We are very happy to have Will Bucklin here at the shop to pour some of his delicious reds. He’s been making wine in various locales for over 2 decades!

We’ll be tasting:
Bucklin, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel “Bambino Old Hill Ranch”, 2014 $25.99 $22.09
Bucklin, Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Old Hill Ranch”, 2015 $39.99 $33.99
Bucklin, Field Blend “Upper 5th Vineyard”, 2014  $31.99 $27.19

Loire Valley 
Friday, June 1st, 5-8pm

Every so often, we are able to offer a tasting sponsored by a regional wine council, usually somewhere in Europe, which allows us to do a deep dive into those particular wines, styles and grape varieties. It’s also an opportunity to taste several wines from different winemakers and wholesalers, giving us totally free range over picks. So we pick our favorites! We’ll be pouring one of our absolute favorite rosés, made from Cabernet Franc, and a red Cab Franc from Chinon as well. There’ll be a juicy Gamay from Touraine as well, and a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre’s under-the-radar neighbor, Menetou-Salon.

We’ll be tasting:

Pascal Lambert, Chinon “Les Terrasses”, 2015 $18.99 $16.14
Thibaud Boudignon, Rose de Loire, 2017 $22.99 $19.54
Valerie Forgues, Touraine Gamay, 2016 $18.99 $16.14
Domaine Philippe Gilbert, Menetou-Salon Blanc, 2016 $22.99 $19.54

A Stormy Saturday in Early June
Saturday, June 2nd, 2-4pm

The forecast for Saturday is a bit dreary, but quite temperate, following the trend of this spring for cooler weather. We’ll take it! We’re going to open some of our favorite in-between seasons bottles, and we’ll hope you’ll stop by for a taste.

We’ll be tasting:
Castell’ in Villa, Toscana Rosato, 2017 — $17.99 $15.29
Domaine de la Pepiere, Muscadet AOC “La Pepie”, 2017$14.99 $12.74
Domaine de l’Horizon, Cotes Catalanes Blanc “L’Esprit de l’Horizon”, 2016 — $31.99 $27.19
Chateau Milon, Saint-Emilion “Cuvee Caprice”, 2016$19.99 $16.99

As always, tasting wines are 15% off for newsletter subscribers!

NYC: this week’s tastings

Meet the Winemaker: Thomas Dinel of Marchand-Tawse

Wednesday, May 16th, 5:30-7:30pm

The holdings of Marchand-Tawse are numerous and widespread — they source grapes from over a dozen Grand Cru vineyards. Pascal Marchand may be the face of the brand, but it wouldn’t be possible without his winemakers, including our guest for the evening, Thomas Dinel. Thomas has worked for Domaine Dujac in the past, and his is a dynamic and exciting style of winemaking. We are very excited to show a variety of wines from a few different years, including the excellent 2015 vintage. Join us tonight, Wednesday the 16th, to taste some classic, yet intriguing Burgundy wines.

Marchand Tawse, Bourgogne Pinot Noir “47 N”, 2015 — $29.99

Marchand-Tawse, Cote de Nuits-Villages, 2015 — $31.99

Marchand-Tawse, Beaune 1er Cru “Clos du Roi”, 2014 — $39.99

Marchand-Tawse, Nuits-Saint-Georges, 2015  — $48.99

 

Great Wines of Bordeaux

Thursday, May 17th, 5-8pm

In many ways, Bordeaux winemakers could be stuck in their ways, as you might expect in a place where wine has been made for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. However, it’s a region we are particularly excited about, here in the shop — Bordeaux is constantly evolving and updating, and the wines can be anything from easy, sippable and juicy reds and whites, to ageable, classic Old World wines. This Thursday, we have a representative from the Bordeaux Wine Council here to pour an assortment of wine, and talk to you about everything from the grapes, to the soil to the major (and we mean major) players in the area.

 

Chateau Chatelier, Bordeaux Superieur Rouge, 2015 — $13.99

Chateau La Grolet, Cotes de Bourg, 2016 — $17.99

Chateau Milon, Saint-Emilion “Cuvee Caprice”, 2016 — $19.99

Les Pelerins de Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estephe, 2010 — $35.99

Chateau Sainte-Marie, Bordeaux Blanc Vieilles Vignes, 2017 — $14.99

Chateau Carbonnieux, Pessac-Leognan Blanc “La Croix de Carbonnieux”, 2014 — $27.99

 

Meet the Winemaker: Jean-Baptiste Souillard

Friday, May 18th, 5-7pm

The Souillard family has had roots in the Northern Rhone for generations, and Jean-Baptiste is slowly transitioning the homestead farm into a winery, where he is producing incredible vin-de-garde Syrah, in such highly regarded locales as Cornas, Cote-Rotie and St. Joseph. These wines are serious and complex, belying Jean-Baptiste’s status as a first generation winemaker. But there is still great pleasure in the power, especially in a very drinkable vintage like 2016. Stop by, meet this industrious young winemaker, and try a few of his wines.

 

Royal Wedding Frenzy with English Sparkling Wine

Saturday, May 19th, 2-4pm

In case you hadn’t heard, there is a little event going on this weekend — the nuptials of Prince Harry, currently 6th in line to the British throne, and Meghan Markle, a charming American actress. While we can’t make it to the ceremony, we’re celebrating in absentia with some English sparkling wine. Yes, you read correctly — English sparkling wine! The south of England has and almost identical soil and climate to Champagne, and they’re becoming more and more adept at growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to full ripeness and finesse. We are very happy to be pouring three English fizzy wines from Chapel Hill, a truly world-class winery, to toast the newlyweds.

 

Chapel Down, Brut Vintage Reserve, NV — $44.99

Chapel Down, Three Graces, 2010 — $45.99

Chapel Down, Rose Brut Vintage Reserve, NV — $49.99

 

 

As always, newsletter subscribers can take 15% tasting wines!

2016 Burgundy Report from Marchand-Tawse

A Special Report from John Beaver Truax

In March I had the good fortune to return to Burgundy and attend the Hospices de Nuits auction and a bi-annual event for the international wine trade, the “Grand Jours de Bourgogne”. This is a five day event that covers the wines of Burgundy from Macon all the way up to Chablis. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun. I really look forward to going every two years.

I stayed for an extra week and visited some new producers and revisited a lot of old friends – like the ebullient and dynamic Pascal Marchand, a charismatic Canadian who moved from Montréal to Burgundy in 1983, worked harvest for Bruno Clair.  He worked so hard that Bruno invited him to stay in a paid position.  He was there for a year and the became the winemaker at Comte Armand, owner of the monopole Pommard 1er Cru ‘Clos des Epeneaux” for many years.  Then he had the opportunity to build a Domaine from scratch, Domaine de la Vougeraie from 1999 through 2005.   Pascal has a negociant label Marchand/Tawse and Domaine Tawse.  They bought Domaine Maume in Gevrey Chambertin and have folded that into their vast portfolio of Burgundy vineyards.  We had a great tasting at his Nuits Saint Georges cuverie, a sprawling facility with miles of underground cellars beneath the streets of Nuits Saint Georges.  Parts of it are like being in a bomb shelter, it is an unbelievably massive network of tunnels that seem to go on forever.
Pascal is an old friend and he is a fireball, his energy and enthusiasm are infectious.  You spend a few hours with him and get really keyed up,  his is an infectious and contagious excitement.  He had just returned from the Montreal Film Festival and the premiere of  “Grand Cru” a documentary about the very difficult 2016 Burgundy harvest starring – Pascal Marchand!
We started with a 2016 Chambolle Musigny Villages, it had a perfumed nose, nice body on the mid palate and an astringent finish.  A nice wine.
Next a 2016 Savigny les Beaune “Les Lavieres”: Brambly, kind of rustic, good fruit, extract and body. I told him I liked it, a good honest wine.  Pascal said, “Thanks but I wish I had more. Look – that’s it. Two barrels in 2016.  In 2015 I had 15-16 barrels.”
Then 2016 Morey Saint Denis “En la Rue de Vergy”: Black fruit, super aromatic, very pretty.  Pascal has a good feel for Morey Saint Denis.
2016 Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru “Clos des Ormes”: Very dark fruit, brooding, deep, big rich and powerful.  Long finish.  A super wine.
2016 Beaune 1er Cru “Tuvilans”: Rich ripe red fruits and very fine ripe tannins – very good indeed.
2016 Volnay “Fremiets”: Big rich red fruits, very fine and supple tannin, good long finish.
2016 Vosne Romanée “Champ Perdrix”: From the top of the hill, this was a special cuvee Pascal made with no sulfur added. Dark fruit like blackberries and plums this wine was very pure and rich with explosive fruit, it really jumped out of the glass.  Nice lingering finish.
2016 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Les Perrieres”: I wrote “Strong, powerful, minty + forest floor – very Nuits”
2016  Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru “Richemone”: Powerful black fruits, big and rich and Vosne-like
2016 Pommard 1er Cru “Rugiens”: Powerful, big rich black-fruited, tannic and a very long finish.  Pascal knows a thing or two about Pommard.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Cherbaudes”:  Lovely fruit bomb, very dark cherry, very drinkable, wanted to take it to dinner.
2016 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux Saint Jacques”: Also very pretty, seductive with dark cherry fruit
2016 Échezeaux:  A curious spice and fruit laden nose that was like cinnamon and quince paste – really unique and fabulous, truly Grand Cru complexity!
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Combe Brulee”: Black fruit and five spice, allspice – pure and ripe with a very long finish.
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Petits Monts”: Very powerful, tannic, rich and long
2016 Vosne Romanée 1er Cru “Suchots”:  Inky, dark black fruit, very fine subtle silky ripe tannins, very long finish, really a showstopper. 100% whole cluster fermented because Pascal says that this parcel of Suchhots has the “finest Pinot Fin he has ever seen with very thin stems, tiny berries”.
2016 Clos Saint Denis:  Ethereal and fine – super juice – a wine of great finesse.
2016 Clos de la Roche: Very very good and powerful, a show stopper full of black fruit, tannin, complexity, everything.
2016 Charmes-Chambertin:  A very tangy wine with great salinity and great power.
2016 Mazoyeres-Chambertin: Rich boysenberry fruit with great salinity on the very long finish.
2016 Mazis-Chambertin: Big rich black fruit with tangy oyster shell salinity on the finish.
2016 Musigny:  A very pale color, almost like a dark rose wine, Pascal did not crush the berries, he destemmed by hand and fermented them intact in a barrel and let them pop. A very delicate yet powerful wine of a filigreed complexity that unfold and unfolds into a very lingering finish.  Simply magnificent.  He made Musigny at Domaine de la Vougeraie and then for a while he wondered if he would ever be able to make Musigny again.  Now he can and he is delighted.
Marc de Bourgogne: I wasn’t about to start drinking Marc before dinner but I did taste it and spat it out.  He has been making a barrel of Marc every year for seven years and just ages them.  He is thinking about blending the barrels before he sell it as a multi-vintage blend.
After the tasting we drove to Beaune for dinner at Ma Cuisine.  This restaurant has been the place to go for the international wine trade when in Beaune.  You never know who you might see in there.  Owner Pierre Escoffier greeted us and it seemed like Pascal knew half of the diners.  Or more.  A number of people got up from their tables to kiss him on both cheeks, slap on the back, how are you, great to see you, you must try this wine, etc.  There was a table hosted by a Beverly Hills based importer with a group of sommeliers from Los Angeles and San Francisco, their table was littered with great bottles, Comte Lafon, Chave Hermitage white, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair Vosne Romanee, Selosse Rose, a bottle of Yquem and just for good measure a fine old bottle of Vin Jaune.  This group was not messing around.
We sat down, perused the list and I was surprised that Pascal chose a 2015 Pibarnon Bandol – he loves this wine and had not had the new vintage.  We ordered a dozen escargot and I got the pigeon, an old favorite.  At the table next to us were three 20 something year old sommeliers from Montreal, two young women and one young man talking in that unmistakable Quebecois accent.  They could barely contain their excitement at being seated right next to us.  Are you Pascal Marchand?  Can we take a picture with you?  Really?!  I was roped into photographer duties with all three cell phones. Three thrilled millennial Montreal sommeliers were now home town heroes on Instagram.  After dessert, coffee and Calvados it was time to call it a night.  Six hours later Pascal was up and back at it.
Join us this Wednesday, May 16th, from 5:30 until 7:30, as we welcome winemaker Thomas Dinel, of Maison Marchand-Tawse. There will be wine! You can meet a true movie star! Ask him your questions and he’ll give you some answers.

NYC! Pursued by Bear: Kyle Maclachlan will be here this Thursday, 4/26, to pour his rosé.

You may know him as Agent Dale Cooper, or the mayor of Portland, or Charlotte’s terrible first husband, or any one of the dozens of roles he’s played over the years. But one of the newest, and most exciting, characters that Kyle Maclachlan has taken on has been that of winemaker, producing outstanding Washington state wines.

We were very excited when Kyle approached us, and asked if we’d be interested in tasting the wines. And then, once we had tasted the wine, we were thrilled to discover that the wines were good — very good. We’ve got a rosé that rivals any rosé from Provence, and a Syrah that is perfect any day of the week. They are really delicious wines, and the winemaking is seriously thoughtful.

Please feel free to stop by, taste some wine, chat with Kyle and maybe take a bottle or two home!