Julia James Pinot Noir 2016
Sourced from a few of California’s best Pinot Noir regions: Russian River, Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey, Julia James is crafted by a veteran winemaker using sustainable farming methods in the vineyards. ‘How is it possible to make a California Pinot this good at this price? This baby looks like a Pinot, smells like a Pinot and tastes like a Pinot – there’s bright acidity fresh cherries, darker fruits, a light footprint and no oak overkill. My guess in a blind tasting would be that this is a $40 Willamette or Anderson Valley Pinot.’ forbes.com ‘20 best reds under $20’
Château-Roc-de-Minvielle Bordeaux 2015Growing grapes since prior to the French Revolution, this estate has been owned by the Gadras family since the 1800’s. Today it is Pierre Gadras taking care of the vines, thinning leaves for maximum sunshine on the grapes and pruning back for fruit concentration. Planted to mostly Merlot with Cabernet Franc, this is exactly what we look for in a lovely petit château Bordeaux. Look for ripe, plump aromas of blueberry, cassis, licorice, plum and bing cherry. Fresh and alluring, this exudes grace versus power and has wonderful flesh and charm.
Château-Thivin Côte de Brouilly 2016We tasted and positively loved this iconic Beaujolais from the Côte de Brouilly. Imported by French wine specialist Kermit Lynch, serving a bottle of this wine is a classic lesson in the great Gamay-based wines of the Beaujolais region, and Côte de Brouilly specifically. We quote from Kermit's website for the full and wonderful story: 'It is no surprise that Château Thivin is the benchmark domaine of the Côte de Brouilly; everything about it is exceptional. Built in the fifteenth century on an ancient volcano which juts out steeply into the valley below, Thivin is the oldest estate on Mont Brouilly. Even more important, however, is its tremendous success since farmer Zaccharie Geoffray purchased the château with its two hectares of land at auction in 1877. His son Claude expanded the property over the next few decades, and his son, also named Claude, boosted the prestige of the zone in the face of the Great Depression when he played a pivotal role in the creation of the Côte de Brouilly appellation. With his wife Yvonne, he also helped to bring greater recognition to the entire region with the establishment of the Maison du Beaujolais in 1953. Over the years the family continued to promote the appellation, receiving many influential artists and journalists at the château. The French novelist, Colette, wrote admiringly of her visit to Thivin. In 1976, Richard Olney brought Kermit Lynch to visit the estate on their first wine trip together. It was Olney’s top recommendation in all of Beaujolais. The current generation of the Geoffray family continues their tradition. Today their grandnephew Claude, his wife Evelyne, and their son Claude-Edouard continue the tradition as staunch and proud defenders of the terroir of the Côte de Brouilly. Thivin’s Côte de Brouilly parcels are predominantly south-facing and are planted entirely with Gamay vines that average 50 years of age. The soil is plowed and composted regularly while cover crops are left between some rows to encourage microbiotic activity. Absolutely no insecticides are used. On a slope with a grade of 48% and crumbly surface, implementing these techniques is essential to safeguard the soil from erosion, but it isn’t easy! Each section of the vineyard is harvested and vinified separately to preserve the unique characteristics afforded by variations in exposure and altitude. Even the estate’s vineyards in the Brouilly appellation are planted on a moderately steep hillside of decomposed pink granite, while most of the appellation is planted on the flat valley floor. Traditional whole-cluster fermentation keeps the characteristic fruity qualities of Gamay, after which the grapes are transferred to cuves by gravity without being crushed. Each vintage spends a few months in large oak foudres before bottling. The resulting wines, according to Kermit, resemble “…a country squire who is not afraid to get his boots muddy. Handsome, virile, earthy, and an aristocrat.” From the Wine Advocate: "Château Thivin must be one of the prettiest wineries in Beaujolais, perched on the steep slopes of the Côte de Brouilly like something you would find on a postcard. It is always a pleasure to meet winemaker Claude-Edouard Geoffrey (still a dead-ringer for Harry Potter—apologies for keep mentioning that), and in recent years he has certainly been casting his magic over the wines that are among the finest in Beaujolais. "The 2016 season started very warm," he told me as we tasted in his dining room, "and for one month [in early spring] it stayed around 25 degrees Celsius. This was followed by a cool period. April to June was very rainy, which made the viticulture very difficult, and then there was good weather during flowering. Afterwards it was a very good August and September, very hot and dry. Some of the young vines suffered during this period. We started the harvest around 21 or 22 September and finished 6 or 7 October. The next day the vines were freezing." Although the 2016s faced a more challenging growing season than the previous year, Thivin's wines performed extremely well, demonstrating freshness and satisfying fruit, not just with respect to the reds but also a wonderful Beaujolais Rosé that is one of the finest I have tasted from the region. I have bleated on about the brilliance of Thivin's Côte de Brouilly, in my mind one of the finest offerings from Beaujolais, an exemplary expression of Gamay from one of its most propitious terroirs. In summary, it is onwards and upwards from Château Thivin."
Mauro Molino Nebbiolo 2017Italy's best source for wine reviews, the Gambero Rosso , raves about the family-owned and managed Mauro Molino estate: 'The Molinos again showed why they are among the top Langhe producers. Credit goes in particular to Mauro and his son, Matteo, who is partly responsible for the estate's enormous critical success. For the basic Barolo, the estate ages the wine in large Slavonian oak barrels, which is a classic practice in the region, and the wine is known for its delicate nose of violets and roasted fruits, and concentrated, harmonious palate.' Mauro Molino founded this estate and today works alongside his son Matteo and daughter Martina. In 1973 Mauro graduated from enology school in Alba, and then followed that with five years of winemaking experience in Emilia Romagna. In 1979 after his father’s passing, he returned home to the family farm in La Morra and began consulting for local wineries while building up his own estate. 1982 was the first vintage from the famed family parcel in Conca dell’Annunziata, the conch-shaped parcel pictured above, and the rest is history. In 2003 Matteo joined the company, and then in 2009, Matteo’s sister also joined the gang. Today they manage approximately 12 hectares of vineyards, 50% dedicated to Nebbiolo for Barolo, and the rest mostly Barbera, and Dolcetto. This estate practices sustainable organic viticulture. This Nebbiolo is made from 10-30 year old vines in Monforte d’Alba and Guarene. Fermentation in stainless steel, then aging six months in large French oak casks coopered in Austria. Only 1000 cases produced.
Château-Siaurac Lalande de Pomerol 2015Ch â teau Siaurac is one of the most famous properties in Lalande-de-Pomerol, which is a satellite appellation of Pomerol. The family is oriented toward quality in order to produce wines with great expression and typicity of the terroir . The Ch â teau has been certified Organic since January 2009; they conduct grassing between rows, grapes and leaves removal, hand harvesting and double sorting by hand. The average age of the vineyard is between 25 and 30 years. Siaurac has been made by an exceptional team as well: the technical director from Chateau Latour, Penelope Godefroy, has worked with, Jean-Claude Berrouet, who was the winemaker at Petrus for 40 years. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, this tastes rich, velvety and pure with notes of cherry, mocha, licorice & rose petals.
Chateau Moulin de Mallet Bordeaux 2015Château Moulin de Mallet is owned by the quality-driven Serge Couderc and his son Julien, who have worked tirelessly to constantly improve and modernize the nearly 100 acres that constitute the estate. Situated in the town of Pujols, a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne River, facing the slopes of St Emilion in the far southeast corner of the Bordeaux region, this lovely vineyard enjoys beneficial clay-limestone soils, with old vines averaging 30 years. Made of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, we found a lovely bouquet evoking ripe red fruits, vanilla and licorice. In the mouth, this has admirable concentration and silky tannins. Serve with chicken and pork dishes, or with cheeses and charcuterie. A stunningly good buy tasted and approved by our staff.
Melville Estate Pinot Noir 2014Owned by father and son Ron and Chad Melville, Melville is an estate driven winery, which focuses upon Burgundy and Northern Rhone style wines. Located in the heart of Santa Rita Hills, in Santa Barbara County, the estate has 85 acres planted to vineyards. Winemaker Greg Brewer makes Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Viognier for the family. After having owned vineyards in Napa, Ron Melville came to Santa Rita and never looked back. Calculated composting, complex cover cropping practice and deficit irrigation, matched with a tremendous amount of crop reduction and canopy management are the critical components to Melville’s strength as wine growers. This is 100% Melville fruit from Melville's Sta. Rita Hills estate, and is a collection of 16 pinot noir clones. 40% of the fruit was fermented as whole-clusters with 60% gently de-stemmed in small (1.5 ton) open-top fermenters. Total skin and stem contact averaged 30 days (7 day cold soak, 2 + weeks of fermentation and 1 + week extended maceration). From the press, the wine was transferred directly into neutral barrel (old French oak), where it remained sur lie without sulfur until June, when it was gently racked for the first time and prepared for bottling in August. Yields were 3.6 lbs/vine (3.3 tons/acre).
Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon 2015The Raymond family arrived in Napa Valley in 1933 and became connected to the Beringer family via marriage in 1936. Roy worked as winemaker for Beringer from 1933-1970, when in 1970, he and his two sons set out on their own with the 90-acre estate property in Rutherford where the winery is located. They released their first commercial wine under the Raymond Vineyards label in 1974 and never looked back. Like all great American family stories, the Raymonds put hard work and a pioneering spirit into their winery. Their dedication has helped make Raymond Vineyards a classic Napa Valley icon.
Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2012Tasted and loved by our staff, Marques de Murrieta has a long, meaningful history at the Bottle Shop. When we were first learning about wines, it was very important to our dad for us to know the best, most classic wines of every great winemaking region in the world. In Spain, Marques de Murrieta was at the top of his list. We had the opportunity to taste old wines from Murrieta from vintages such as 1968 and 1959 with him while we were still in the infancy of our wine training. The estate is very much a traditional estate in style. While rich and deep in flavor, the fruit is multi-layered but not 'New World jammy'. Red and black fruits, cedar, leather, hints of spices, even hints of tar are revealed. We would pair this with Spanish-inspired cuisine, especially pork or lamb dishes. WINE ADVOCATE reports: 'Yes, this is one of the oldest wineries in Rioja, created back in the 19th century, and they keep their traditions, but now but each wine is selected from specific plots, something that they have done since the year 2000, a year that marked a big change in the winery. I feel more balance and better integration of the oak with the wine in recent vintages. I really liked the wines I tasted and was very excited to be shown a tank sample of the 1986 Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva Blanco. Yes, you have read it correctly, it was a tank sample which is waiting to be bottled after almost 21 years in wood and 6 years in tank that will be released sometime in the future. I simply loved it.'
Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2016This Cabernet has been a huge success at the Bottle Shop. Made of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, this was aged for 6 months in French oak, and has good body with cassis, black cherry, mint and spice complexities. Made from grapes grown in Chile's Colchagua Valley, which has become famous for good Cabernet's, this is one of the greatest value in Cabernet in the market. Winemaker/Owner Aurelio Montes was named "Winemaker of the Year" by Wine Spectator in the years 2002 and 2006. Montes and his partners run a great, quality-driven operation in both Chile and in Argentina at Kaiken.
Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2012Named for the Renaissance town of Montepulciano, the term nobile has historical roots in the original practice of reserving this wine exclusively for the aristocratic families of this area of Tuscany. Carpineto’s Vino Nobile is produced from fruit harvested exclusively from their Montepulciano Estate. The ethereal bouquet shows elegant notes of violet and toasted oak nuances. Bold fruit flavors envelope the palate with a velvety, elegant texture and long finish, it is dry and full in style. This Riserva benefits from extensive aging in a combination of Slavonian and French oak barrels for 18-24 months, followed by 12 months in bottle. TOP 100 WINE OF THE YEAR 2016
Hess Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015The Allomi vineyard lies in the gently rolling hills of northeastern Napa Valley, where the combination of long, warm growing seasons with well-drained soils create the optimal ripening conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon. The 210-acre vineyard is sustainably farmed and grows 35 unique growing blocks with six different Cabernet clones. In 1978 Donald Hess arrived on Mount Veeder , acquiring his first land on Mount Veeder. Although he purchased 900 acres to develop vineyards, he set aside 600 acres as undeveloped land to support wildlife corridors, fish friendly farming practices and biodiversity. He believed that vineyard development begins with the direction to “nurture the land and return what you take.” Fast forward to 2008, and the Hess Collection was among the first ten wineries to receive certification as a Napa Green Winery. “Earthy flavors enhance the fruit flavors in this wine, especially with foods such as herb roasted chicken, grilled pork, caramelized onions, eggplant, sautéed greens, roasted potatoes or vegetables and aged Jack and Gouda cheese.” – Chad Hendrickson, Executive Chef at Hess
Chateau Tour Saint Christophe Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2015The Tour Saint-Christophe estate in Saint Emilion boasts a beautiful terraced vineyard which looks upon Barde-Haut from the other side of the valley. Owned by Peter Kwok, one of the first Asian investors in Bordeaux in 1997 with the purchase of Haut-Brisson, Tour St.-Christophe is typically made of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc (although this vintage is 85/15). Kwok, who lives in Hong Kong but was born in Vietnam, owns 40 hectares of vines with Chateaux Tour Saint Christophe, Haut-Brisson and Tourans in St Emilion, plus Enclos Tourmaline and La Patache in Pomerol, and Enclos de Viaud in Lalande de Pomerol.