Featured Wines From The Newsletter
Domaine Pierre & Jean-Baptiste Lebreuil Savigny-lès-Beaune 2012
$25.99/$20.80 by case
A great red Burgundy tasting earlier this year lit a fuse, and we’ve been running out of good options ever since. Digging for more we uncovered the last cases of this beauty - gently aged and ready to drink (and lower in price since we bought it all). Lebreuil is a small family domaine whose vineyards are on their way to being certified biodynamic, but since 2003 have farmed Lutte Raisonée (literally “reasoned fight”). Winemaker Jean-Baptiste’s goal is a focus on red fruits, finesse and concentration, characteristics that he captured perfectly in 2012. Very pretty for Savigny, this offers lovely aromatics of summer roses and wild strawberry while the palate brings out black cherry and red currant, all underlined by a vein of mild savory earthiness. The texture has density and solidity but is so supple and silky it glides toward the finish, echoing spearmint and cracked pepper. A 90-point Wine Spectator review suggests best from 2016-2024; enjoy some now and stash a few bottles for the future, it should just get better and better.
El Corazon Barbera Wahluke Slope B-Sides 2014
$24.99/$19.99 by the case
Here’s a fun tasty one-off (probably) from Walla Walla winemaker Spencer Sievers, a guy whose tasting room is known as the Funhouse. 100% Barbera from the highly regarded Stonetree vineyard, it was never his intention to make or sell this wine. When a friend/winemaker needed help, Spencer paid for the fruit and crushed it. After 2 ½ years in neutral oak barrels, he figured his friend wasn’t coming back so he bottled it, called it B-Sides (since it’s not an official El Corazon wine) and priced it to move. Plush and dark with a streak of that great Barbera acidity, this tastes like Washington with an Italian accent. The shades of toasted oak and soft texture say WA while a meaty woodsy edge shows off its Italian heritage. Thanks to all that time in barrel and the high elevation site (Stonetree is the highest elevation vineyard in the Wahluke Slope), this offers a good balance of smooth lush flavors and perky freshness, rich enough to satisfy your Walla Walla cravings while staying bright and lively.
Domaine Courbis Saint-Joseph 2011
$22.99/$18.40 by the case Originally $30
Don’t be put off by the questionable design sense of the label, this is high quality northern Rhône Syrah, already aged and discounted to boot. In contrast to the southern Rhône, the climate here is cooler and continental and the vast majority of the reds need a few years in bottle to show well while some need a decade or more to show their best. I shared a 1999 Courbis single-vineyard Saint Joseph in January; it showed beautifully, not tasting the least bit “old”. Although their style (like their label) leans modern, these wines still deliver plenty of true northern Rhône character.
The aromatics are appropriately perfumed with lavender violet florals giving way to gamier meaty notes of smoked bacon and cured black olive. The fruit is dark yet medium bodied and flowing with macerated blackberry and Italian plum, all accented by a charcoal peppery spiciness.
Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2016
$22.99/$18.40 by the case
A shop favorite for many years, this is a perfect wine for spring with its beautiful aromatics, complex layers of flavors, and refreshing character. Hailing from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region near the Slovenian border, warm days encourage a pleasing round texture that is balanced by bright acidity thanks to cool evenings. It’s a classic blend of Sauvignon (blanc), Fruilano, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Swirling aromas of white peach, melon and tree blossom deepen into apricot and yellow peach, lemon/lime, bitter orange and bits of honeyed spice on the palate. Add a vibrant mineral streak plus a hint of saline to a long finish and you’re going to be one very happy drinker.
The Walter Scott 2016s Are Here
These represent yet another excellent vintage and Ken, Erica and crew continue to deliver an impressive lineup of wines with a distinctive style, that also reflect the unique personality of each vineyard or blend. Word is out too, with impressive scores from critics and buyers rushing to snap the wines up. Here are a couple favorites - notes on the other spring releases are on the website at greatwinebuys.com.
Sojourner Pinot Noir 2016
$54.99 or $43.99 by the case
The 2015 really came on strong last year after some time in the bottle, and the 2016 showed nicely from the get-go when we tasted through the lineup. High-toned, gorgeous aromatics of rose, cherry blossom and Asian spice lead you to a complex range of fruit from dark cherry and red raspberry to medium red plum, all made more complex thanks to a briary savory streak and some light oak. With air, the texture turns silky and generous, yet it’s all muscle underneath with powerful structure, rounded tannins and a long long finish. This is turning into a special bottling and promises some big rewards with cellar time, but is fun to drink right now too.
Cuvée Anne Chardonnay 2016
$39.99 or $31.99 by the case
As always this multi-vineyard reserve blend tastes like white Burgundy with it’s classic spicy floral nose, brisk lemon-ness, a hint of peach, mildly savory herbs and a nutty touch. There’s plenty of fruit but the flavors remain in perfect balance, complemented by mid-weight body, focused acidity and minerality that combine to deliver power with grace. It’s definitely addictive and is a touchstone Oregon Chardonnay that delivers the goods at a very fair price.
Take 20% off a mixed case of any Walter Scott wines. A list and short descriptions at greatwinebuys.com
Winners Still Available
Watermill Petit Verdot Walla Walla Valley 2012
$32.99/$26.40 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.
Gran Recosind Crianca Emporda 2011
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
If you like your Spanish wine traditional in style or want to experience the joys of a well-crafted old school red at a great price, this is for you. While not from Rioja (Emporda sits on the Mediterranean just south of the French border) and not dominated by Tempranillo, this does a good impression of a wine from Lopez de Heredia, the iconic benchmark for traditionally styled Rioja. Medium-bodied and classy with a dusty yet silky texture, there’s a core of dried black cherry fruit at the center, firm and compact, that radiates subtle yet detailed flavors. These flavors are perceived more as aromas and hit the senses almost as a memory: old well-worn oak, exotic sandalwood and Indian brown spice, a forgotten cigarette now crumbled in your pocket… a bottle like this encourages you to conjure your own flavor memories, real or imagined.
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.
Les Pentes de Barene Tursan White 2016
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
A hidden gem on the shelf, this unique French white hails from the wilds of southwestern France - foie gras country - and is remarkably rich, layered and complex given its modest price. It’s so far off the beaten path that admittedly we often forget to recommend it but when we do a typical reaction is “wow, what is that?”. A blend of traditional local varietals, dominated by the evocatively named Baroque, it offers a distinctive profile while still being user-friendly. The texture is what delights first, creamy and almost opulent while a vein of acidity keeps it lively and fresh. Flavors of soft poached pear are accented by warm tones of baking spice while white pepper and a mild earthiness ride out the finish.
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”
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