Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lanciola Terricci 2001

There are some Tuscan wines they call ‘Super’, just like there are some really disgusting wines that are given 95+ points. And then there are some Tuscan wines that deserve the title ‘Super’. This is one of the few I know of. I’ll be honest; I did spend a week at Lanciola’s villa a few years ago. Long story short we got hopelessly lost in the hills south of Florence. It was a Sunday, we had spent the entire day flying, it was late, my wife had already cracked open the Duty Free Brandy and was guzzling it, no one around us knew where the villa was and no one spoke a word of English – why should they? By 9.00pm the Brandy was gone and I knew we weren’t going to get anything to eat. We found the place at 10:00 – no food. We walked up the hill to the village and there was a tiny cafe still open. We asked the two young kids if they could cook for us! Stupid question. Probably the best bowl of pasta I have had in my life. And to drink? They only had Lanciola, sod it, I was really hoping for a Tignanello! Two bottles of 2001 Terricci later and I was on holiday, in bliss, and happy.

The thing about Super Tuscans is most of them aren’t. It’s just our way of saying, pay more ‘cos the wine’s got a bit of cabernet in it. The Terricci on the other hand is really ‘super’. Superlatives aside, and there’s an entire dictionary that you could use to describe the wine, this is great juice. Rich but not ‘Steak House’ style, with a bosom of ripe black fruits, brooding meaty spices and a wealth of Asian spices – soy sauce, ginger, orange skin. It’s just great. Call it the Chinese Take-a-Way. This is also a wine to keep. Buy some for now but tuck a few in a corner and bring them out in 5-10 years’ time. Trust me.

It’s tough to find great wine over 10 years old for less than $75.00 – move on this now while supplies last.

  • Producer: Azienda Agricola Lanciola
  • Vintage: 2001
  • Varietal: Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Country: Italy
  • Region: Tuscan
  • Production: Small
  • Availability: Yes. $41.00 pb. $34.85 per case

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in daily post


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Andre Bonhomme Vire Clesse 2008

I admit “I Love Chardonnay”. Said it. I think that most of the stuff they call chardonnay in the New World is crap but when they make it in Burgundy it’s about as good as you get. Burgundy is the queen of chardonnay but as we all know the French have a tendency to make us pay. Someone in France once said ‘you can lie to your wife but never to your mistress’, and Vire Clesse is Burgundy’s mistress. It was only in 1997/98 that this little adjunct of a region north of Macon was given AOC status, and being that it is the mistress the regulators were much harder on what she could wear. Macon allows 70 hl/ha (that’s a lot of juice), Vire Clesse only allows 55. Furthermore Vire Clesse is only allowed 3 grams of sugar per liter – so preventing this mistress from ever becoming too sweet, or God forbid, late harvested.

The main attraction, for me at least, to Vire Clesse is price. I love a good Batard every now and again, but since I went off the Corporate Expense Account it’s been a while since that mistress passed my lips. VC on the other hand is poor man’s caviar. And in this region there is no better wine-maker than Andre Bonhomme. Back in the 50’s he was called mad when he decided to go his own route, stop selling his grapes to profiteering negociants and start making his own wine. Fast forward and much of the regulatory law book behind the VC appellation is down to how he makes wines. It’s all handmade, handpicked, hand sorted, hand bottled – his hands are everywhere.

The 2008 is simply fantastic. Sharp, clean yellow color in the glass, a nose of peach skin and pear, and on the palate – damn. There’s a cornucopia of fruit flavors – white peach, orange skin, pears, touch of Macintosh apple, all this with only a whiff of wood, and in-fact I suspect this wine (the lower rung of his VCs) probably saw no oak. You have to appreciate a wine like this – no comparisons to other chardonnays, just go with this, let it moisten the lips, tickle the tongue and engulf the back of your throat – just pure bliss. You might not be able to afford the Batards anymore but if you don’t buy this by the case and store a few bottles to drink over the next few years then you might as well just keep on drinking Yellow Tail.

  • Producer: Andre Bonhomme
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Varietal: Chardonnay
  • Country: France
  • Region: Burgundy/Vire Clesse
  • Production: Small
  • Availability: First come first served. $28.00 pb. $23 pb on an unmixed case (stupid price)

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in daily post


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Kysela Pere & Fils

I have just spent the last 6 hours tasting through every wine that Fran Kysela imports into the US. I’m in Winchester, Virginia inside Fran’s 6 million $$$ spanking new warehouse. There’s an entire table with three guys dressed as fishermen shucking 1,200 oysters. There’s a girl frying up 4 different wild mushrooms – and I mean wild – horn of plenty, gold trumpet, black hen of the woods! There are two tables of outrageous cheeses; a Guiness Book of Records sized cold salmon festooned with cucumber scales – amazing. And in a U-shape around the outer walls of this warehouse that stores over 100,000 cases we have tables lined with tasting bottles – this is a kid in a candy store day and there’s no adult to tell me to stop!

So here’s the bad bit. The food is amazing! The wine…not so much. Kysela sells a lot of his wine to the Southern States and he’s pretty tight with Robert Parker. I’m just being honest here but I found most of the wines were too extracted, too manipulated, too made by a formula that would garner a 90+ point from Parker. There were a lot of sweet wines, a lot of wines that you had to ask the question…is this really 100% whatever, because many of the wines just tasted fake. There were 326 wines on show. I tasted probably 2/3 of the wines over the 6 hours. I don’t eat oysters but I did gorge myself on cheese and mushrooms! Some of the highlights were the wines from France. In particular Domaine Coussergues’s flight of wines – a chardonnay/viognier blend that was unusual but very good, a sauvignon blanc that tasted high on mineral and less on sweet fruit, Domaine de Regusse Aligote that was terrific but very hard to sell so chances are I’ll pass on it, but his Regusse Rose produced from 80% grenache and 20% syrah was fabulous. And the Loire wines from Jean Reverdy were intoxicating – Jean makes brilliant sancerres, both red and white and it would be nice to see them in NY and on our shelves. They are some of the best value sancerre’s I have come across. At this point I was standing next to a rather loud southern woman who was extolling the virtues of something when I overheard her say “I never realized that chardonnay was white”!! I almost went over to the oyster table! Further into the Loire wines I found a Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly Fume “Genetin”. Its unoaked sauvignon produced from 25 year old vines planted in limestone soil. It was smoky and citrusy and probably the highlight of the tasting.

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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in daily post


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Trio Infernal No 2/3 2003

After last night’s tasteless Sabor Real it’s time for the big guns. I’ve been impressed with these Trio Infernal wines since their inaugural vintage. It’s an interesting story – too long to get into here but the short version is: 3 good friends in France who all make exceptional wines over there, fell in love with a winery in Spain and figured they should show the Spanish how to make French wine in Spain – rather like Bush saying he’ll show the Iraqis what American democracy is like in Iraq. Some things work, some don’t. This wine works. The 3 French guys all make wine in the Rhone so not surprisingly this wine uses a Rhone varietal – carignan. In this case the vines are over 90 years old and the minerality that these vines suck up through the ground is amazing. The wine is definitely intense but really well balanced. Loads of black cherry, mushroom, a hint of Lee & Perrins, some black licorice, caramel, Madura cigar, and the list goes on. Don’t confuse this wine with the Trio Infernal No 1/3 – it’s cheaper by a lot and its Grenache based with only 40% carignan from much younger vines. I know the label is pretty pathetic but don’t let that fool you – inside the ‘book’ you get chapter after chapter of revealing flavors. A note on the vintage – 2003 wasn’t great in Spain. Massively hot but it’s indicative of how good these 3 French guys are that they showcased an exceptional vintage for the year. It’s not a wine I would look to cellar for any further length of time – maybe 3 years max. So if you find it, buy it and drink it. Right now. I have just 10 bottles left and I’ve tried to find more, either through the importer or just on retail shelves and I failed.

  • Producer: Trio Infernal
  • Vintage: 2003
  • Varietal: Carignan
  • Country: Spain
  • Region: Priorat
  • Production: Tiny
  • Availability: 10 bottles left – $69.00 per bottle (2004 is about $85 average in NY)

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in daily post


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Sabor Real Toro Crianza 2007

I am going to spend Sunday cooking a dozen different tapas to eat with the Oscars. They are going to need some Spanish wine so I thought I would try a bottle of Sabor Real Crianza tonight whilst I start prepping the food. Not my favorite. The first bottle was corked and the second one wasn’t far behind. What I expected was a strong dose of black fruit mingled with some softer notes of cedar and plum. I appreciate that Toro is an up and coming wine region and the wines are still gaining a foothold etc.etc. They are also much less expensive than their siblings in Rioja. But this wine just didn’t do it for me, and maybe it’s because it really was about to go off. It was very dry, the tannins were like sandpaper and where I expected a little tobacco I got nothing but smoke. Not impressed, but it’s less than $12 on various web sites so people will certainly buy it – personally I would ask the retailer if he’s tried it, ask him what it tasted like and see what answer you get – then I’d find something else and take that home instead.

  • Producer: Sabor Real
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Varietal: Tinta de Toro
  • Country: Spain
  • Region: Toro
  • Production: High
  • Availability: Not at Wine at Five anymore

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in daily post


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Valdivia Sacromonte Oloros Seco

I would like to collect Sherries. Every time I open up a sec I think, wow this is so good. I think I will. I’ll start by hoarding some of these babies. I found this sherry at a trade show last year and then unearthed it under a bunch of cases in the basement at Wine at Five. I’ve got this whole weekend thing going on with Spanish stuff, in time for the Oscars. So sipping on this sherry is just the right ‘beginning’.

I’m not going to get into the whole manufacturing process of sherry – suffice to say it’s ridiculously complicated and when done to perfection is painstakingly slow and expensive. This Oloroso is already 15 years – that’s a drip feed solera system that began with the first barrel back sometime around 1997! Olorosos are a little too sweet for me so finding this ‘dry’ version was quite exciting. It pours heavy, with a lovely red tinged amber color – looks like a well oaked cognac. The nose gives off that lovely orange blossom scented toffee. The flavors wrap around burnt orange peel, more dark toffee, some mandarin juice, touch of pomegranate even but on the whole it’s an incredibly mouth-filling experience. I’ve just dropped a little ice cube in it because I’m nearing the end of the bottle and I want it to go further! Chilled there’s a touch of acidity on the front that livens up the burnt orange skin – damn this is good – I wish you were trying it right now too – you’d understand why I want to start collecting Sherries!

ps. this is not the stuff grandma hid under her pillow – that was Bristol Cream crap – this is real.

  • Producer: Bodega Valdivia
  • Vintage: 15 Years
  • Varietal: Palomino
  • Country: Spain
  • Region: Jerez
  • Production: Decent
  • Availability: Yes. Not sure of the price since I’m writing this at home.

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in daily post


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Clos Julien Pinot Noir Carneros 2010

I was introduced to a New York City distributor around Christmas and whilst I wanted to dive into his portfolio of wines right then and there, Christmas is not the best time to start with new stuff. Too busy. But first week of January he came up to Rye and we tried a bunch of wines. We bought a lot of them and customers, unwittingly possibly, have loved them. One in particular was a little cabernet from California called Clos Julien. I know that many retailers are loath to carry an entire ‘brand’ of the same winery. I have no problem with that – if the cab is good and so too is the chardonnay then hell I’ll buy both. Such is the case with Clos Julien’s pinot noir. I just bought in a bunch of it for much the same reason I went long the cabernet – it’s just damn good.

It’s the first time Clos Julien moved production to Carneros (a good idea) and it so happened that the 2010 vintage was one of the greatest in Carneros’s history. The wine (I’m drinking it right now) has great ruby color, goods legs on the glass and that feint odor of cigar box coupled with the usual suspects. I just got sawdust too – cedar sawdust. On the palate the wine is rich and inviting, not syrupy, not sweet, not a mélange of cheap fruit. There’s dryness on the front end, some alcohol mid palate and a very long finish of cherries, strawberries and Ben & Jerry’s favorite. This is remarkably good wine.

I also like the fact that this vineyard goes out of its way to preserve the freshness of the wines – back label reads ‘Shipped at 56 degrees’ and it arrived at our store via the only distributor who ships to us in refrigerated trucks – not bad.

The wine is a great party wine so long as you don’t live in the slums. At $22 front line it’s not exactly an inexpensive pinot noir, but I’m not finding too many really good pinots under $30 these days – at least, not from California.

  • Producer: Clos Julien
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Varietal: Pinot Noir
  • Country: USA
  • Region: California/Carneros
  • Production: Good
  • Availability: Yes. At Wine at Five. $22.00 per bottle. $212.00 per case ($17.66)

Order: Ordering is simple. Click on the e-mail link below and tell me how many bottles you think you may want. We’ll figure out the rest from there and reply to your e-mail within 1 day.

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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in daily post


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