Featured Wines From The Newsletter
Spain on the Brain
Legarda Rioja Gran Reserva 2005
$25.99/$20.80 by the case
From the winery that brought us last year’s century-old wonder, the 1920 Rioja, comes this much more recent bottling that was a hit at a recent tasting even when surrounded by other Rioja heavyweights. Legarda is old, dating from 1367, making it one of Europe’s oldest continuously operating wineries. Time moves slowly there and this thirteen-year old bottling is the current release. To be considered Gran Reserva a Rioja must be aged a minimum two years in oak and three in bottle but clearly this received much more time.
All this aging of course allows the flavors to meld, underlying complexities to emerge and the texture to soften and this is a beautiful example. Still offering plenty of liveliness and power, aromatics of incense cedar and dried flowers lead to a creamy caressing palate where a mix of toasted nut and dried fruit flavors sail along a wave of acidity. Its vibrant elegance gives it a medium-bodied feel but the layers of complexity lend it richness and depth.
Cameron Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2016
$29.99/$23.99 by the case
A favorite year after year and how can it not be? A blend of Cameron's top two vineyards, Abbey Ridge and Clos Electrique (a love child, in more colorful language), this is such a lot of wine for the money - especially if you can age it a few years to coax out even more complexity. This exudes a warmth and satisfying mellowness in both flavor and texture; the fruit is red but dark, leaning to black and the palate is soft and creamy with an elastic stretchy snappy quality. Black raspberry and cherry flavors are shaded by hints of cured tobacco, red licorice and an animale savory meatiness, a hallmark of Clos Electrique. 2016 production was half of 2015 so this won’t last long.
Basel Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2013
$19.99/$15.99 by the case
The Basel Claret has been our best-selling Washington red since November and while that is still a rocking good value, this Cab Sauv kicks it up to higher level. Normally $25 or more, this way over-delivers for $20. Refined and elegant for a Cab, this is complex and balanced while remaining in the words of one taster “perfectly slurpable”. Fruit flavors of black currant, red cherry and marionberry are edged with aromas of vanilla, toasted coconut, warm wood and new leather. The texture is creamy and smooth and rolls gently into a long finish. I don’t know why it took us so long to pull the cork on this one but I’m glad we did. And you will be too.
Domaine de L’Amauve Côtes du Rhône-Villages Séguret La Daurèle Blanc 2017 $18.99/$15.20 by the case
The new vintage is in…but not for long. For those of you who enjoyed the 2016 or tasted this with the winemaker recently, this is last call; yes it just arrived but given the very low yields of the 2017 vintage what we have is all we can get. A real shame as this is a charming, lovely wine. Like the 2016, its balance is impeccable with ample fruit flavors, aromatic complexity and lively acidity, all delivered as a confident sophisticated whole. The texture is supple and gentle with white peach and tropical notes accented by a tangerine zestiness. The aromatics make me think of napping in a warm garden - mild floral blossomy perfumes, fresh fennel and a white pepper spiciness.
Fernand Vaquer Vin de Pays Catalan (Roussillon) 1988
$44.99 Limited Availability
30th anniversary approaching? 30th birthday? 30th anything? Actually you don’t need a 30th-related reason to drink this remarkable red, just a love of well-aged wine and a curiosity for how this country wine from the Pyrenees is showing. A longtime local importer carries the current vintages of Vaquer, a small biodynamic winery whose vineyards sit at the highest elevation in Banyuls in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Fernand, the father-in-law of the current winemaker, saw tremendous potential in the 1985 and 1988 so buried some deep in their cold cellars, located at over 3600 feet in elevation.
Now in his late 80s, Fernand is happy to sell them off at ridiculously low prices. Roughly 80% old vine Carignan and 20% Grenache from vineyards just a few kilometers north of the Spanish border, this has a lovely Burgundian feel to it: elegant, pretty and silky in texture with pure high-toned red fruit notes and a delicate spiciness. To be sure, this is no brawny sun-baked monster from a recent hot vintage. Rather, it drinks like a cool-climate perfumed beauty from a different era, which is I guess, exactly what it is.
Half-Price Deals for Summer
Cloudy Bay Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
$14.99/$11.99 by the case Regularly $34
This wowzer from New Zealand’s most famous winery is actually less than half-price, it’s crazy. Offering an ever-changing profile, like the fog that swirls in from the south Pacific, this drinks like a cross between white Burgundy, a modern style California and I guess, New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc is king, queen and lord in NZ so Chardonnay gets very little attention, hence the dramatic price drop. But the quality is all there: a mouthwatering tangerine raciness, supple ripe apple flavors tinged with pineapple and hints of spicy butterscotched oak on the finish. The texture is smooth and pliant as the lively acidity pulls at the rounded fruit, giving it tension and intensity on the palate while staying crisp and fresh. Limited availability but fun while it lasts!
Pol Roger Champagne Brut Réserve NV
$21.99/$17.60 by the case Regularly $42
Deal Alert! Time to treat yourself (or possibly a loved one) to these half bottles of world class Champagne, just in time for lazy (but classy) summer days. Picture it: you chilling, laying on your floatie in the neighbor’s pool sipping on your own bottle of Champagne and thinking life is good! Yes it is!
Despite their size and international renown, Pol Roger is still family run with artisanal production methods. All their fruit comes from Premier Cru vineyards and all the work is done by hand from harvest to riddling. Rich and toasty in style, this is a classic Brut Champagne, ringing like a bell with Granny Smith apple, lemon zest and a lacing of wildflower honey. Creamy notes of marzipan and lightly toasted brioche are sumptuous on the palate, rich flavors held aloft by a fine pearl of long-lasting bubbles. Straws not included. Cheers!
Past Favorites Still Available
Watermill Petit Verdot Anna Marie Vyd. Walla Walla Valley 2012
$24.99/$19.99 by the case
Looking for something new in the Walla Walla Cabernet vein? Check out this recent customer favorite, a single-vineyard bottling from a great slightly older vintage. Full-bodied, well-developed and lushly textured, this is a delicious Cab alternative that hits all the right notes without veering too far off the road. Rarely bottled on its own, Petit Verdot is mostly added in small percentages to Bordeaux-style blends where it adds perfumed aromatics, dark color, structure and a streak of blue-tinged blackberry fruit flavors. This bottling shows those traits beautifully while also offering a plush saturated richness touched by notes of spicy oak.
Crowley Chardonnay Willamette Valley 2016
$24.99/$19.99 by the case
Tyson Crowley is at the forefront of Oregon’s Chardonnay renaissance, meticulously crafting Burgundy-inspired Chard that also conveys a sense of place, namely the Four Winds vineyard located on the edge of the Coast Range. Although this is labeled Willamette Valley, all the fruit is from Four Winds and tastes like it making this one of the standout values for quality Oregon Chard. Clearly marked by the shallow soils and cool exposure of the vineyard, the predominance of the Wente clone also helps Tyson achieve what he craves in the wine: “freshness is what we want” and freshness there is. Coupled to this sense of energy and attack is a dappled complex richness that gives the wine depth and scope. With air the lemon/lime Fresca stoniness softens to a waxy, gently creamy texture while notes of fresh red apple, brown spice and quince weave in and out on the long finish.
Domaine La Roubine Sablet 2015
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
Beguiling in so many ways, this Côtes du Rhône-Villages was an overwhelming crowd favorite at a recent Rhône tasting. With a perfumed airy elegance married to a richness reminiscent of Gigondas, this is manna for southern Rhône lovers. Roubine is a tiny property in Gigondas and they only make a few hundred cases of this wine from their 30 year old organic vineyard. Young and powerful, this has a huge presence on the palate with a swirl of garrigue-y herbs and dusty limestone circling the ripe strawberry and kirsch-like fruit. Dense and long on the palate, it opens up dramatically with air becoming more vibrant, perfumed and polished while retaining its air of honest country wine.
Italian Rosso: Traditional v. Modern
Colombera & Garella Coste della Sesia Rosso 2015
$21.99/$17.60 by the case
Super elegant and pretty, this northern Piedmont red is a lovely cool climate expression of Nebbiolo and an excellent introduction to this lesser-known region of Italy. The Coste della Sesia is a sub-region of the Alto Piemonte which is nestled up against the Alps, a roughly two hour drive northeast of Barolo. The terroir here is volcanic, yellow porphyritic sand to be exact, which lends a distinctive perfume and minerality to the wines. These traits, coupled with the cool climate and addition of local varietals Vespolina and Croatina make this an exciting detour off the Piedmont path.
Offering an aromatic overload, it’s like walking through a spice market as notes of orange peel, black tea, Indian spice and Chinato-like botanicals perfume the air. On the palate the flavors are initially delicate and restrained with pops of sour cherry edged with black licorice. With air it gets more powerful and wild delivering tarry rosy aromatics and a peppery meaty structure. This sense of tamed wildness gives it a tension that keeps the palate engaged and would make it shine alongside refined yet earthy dishes such as osso buco, agnolotti or wild mushroom crostini.
Argiano NC Non Confunditur Rosso Toscano 2015
$19.99/$15.99 by the case
And in the other corner...a “baby Super Tuscan” that offers a taste of modern Italian winemaking with its dark rich fruit flavors and user-friendly plush texture. Although Argiano is one of the oldest estates in Montalcino and among the first to produce wine labeled Brunello, their proud history did not stop them from looking to the future. They were the first in Montalcino to produce a Super Tuscan made with French varietals and introduced this “amazing value” in 2002. A perennial solid go-to, 2015 very well may be their best effort yet. Ex-Wine Spectator reviewer James Suckling thinks so giving it a 94 point review: “this is a rich and racy young red with chocolate, currant and hints of sandalwood. Full body, chewy tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Savory and juicy. Cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot and a splash of sangiovese”
GWB Newsletters Archive
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