Featured Wines From The Newsletter

 
 

...And the Livin' is Easy

Ken Wright Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015  
$21.99/$17.60 by the case
Taking advantage of their famous vineyards spread across the Valley’s diverse terroirs, Ken Wright blends many of them to create this classic Willamette Valley Pinot that is a terrific value – a big-name bottling from a great vintage for just over $20. Lighter mid-weight and well-balanced, the red bing cherry to raspberry to marionberry fruit is juicy in a good way like old school Pinot, with touches of turned earth, brown spice, light oak and high-toned floral notes adding complexity. Crisp acidity and a touch of velvety tannins provide lift and texture, topped by a long tasty lip-smackin’ finish. Where Ken’s single-vineyard bottlings reflect a deep and expressive reflection of a specific site, this elegant everyday blend is carefully crafted from those old vine vineyards to be more easygoing and fun to drink now. 

Albamar Albariño Rias Baixas 2016
$21.99/$17.60 by the case    

Pining for the sea this summer? Quench that desire, and your thirst with this gorgeous, saline Spanish white that is made from vines planted on sandy soil just fifty meters from where the Ria de Arosa flows into the Atlantic. Chablis-like in its lemony raciness yet with a richness that lingers on the palate this is the best example of Albariño that we can remember tasting in years, a giant step up from the cheaper mass-produced bottlings that come from the inland region of Rias Baixas, quite far from the cooling sea breezes. Even saying its name, Alba del Mar (next to the sea) is therapeutic, it’s where we want to be!

J Palacios Bierzo Petalos 2015
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
“Always one of the best values not only of Bierzo but for the whole of Spain”. So ends the 92+ point review in Parker’s Wine Advocate and for fans of the style, it’s easy to agree. Lush and showy, it offers both a muscle-y powerful backbone and soft broad expansiveness that makes it versatile and a pleasure to drink. The fruit is dark and smoky, blackberry plum with hints of rhubarb introduced by aromas of wet iron, chocolate and curiously for a red, wildflower honey. Although sappy and polished overall, there’s enough grumbly earth and toasted spicy notes to give it a toothsome bite. Not to overuse the ‘BBQ red’ descriptor but this would please many a palate at a summer get-together, both casual and sophisticated. 

Chateau La Canorgue Luberon Rouge 2015
$20.99/$16.80 by the case

Canorgue’s rosé and red have been popular shop staples for years, and during a quick June getaway to Provence, Murray popped in for a visit with the charming Jean-Pierre Margan, who runs the 200+ year-old family domaine with his wife Martine and daughter Natalie, who is co- winemaker. Canorgue is located in the rocky hills of the Luberon, between Aix-en-Provence and the Southern Rhone Valley and just below the old Roman village of Bonnieux (a fine stop for a cold beer and expansive views over the valley!). Canorgue was featured in the film “A Year in Provence” and its’ 60 acres are spread over terraced hillsides and tree-lined slopes and have been certified organic since 1978. A classic blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache with some Carignan and Mourvèdre, one sip and you’re transported to southern France, thanks to dark and spicy berry and plum fruit that’s awash with wild rosemary and thyme, black olive, leather, grilled meat and a black pepper kick. This is a full-bodied powerful wine, but the lush texture and juiciness make it approachable now and a good partner for the season’s grilled meats – just make sure to save some for fall and winter’s braised dishes. If you like classic styles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or Bandol then this is for you – and for considerably less.

Scala Ciro Rosato 2017
$14.99/$11.99 by the case
Already one of our early favorites of the season, this southern Italian was also a big hit at our 10-bottle rose tasting in June. Full of character, complexity and even a kiss of grippy tannin, this clearly stood out with even diehard red drinkers calling it a rose that they could drink. Ciro is an appellation at the very toe of Italy, sun-baked and arid. If you’re going to be drinking a lot of rose, it better be versatile and have a little punch to it; light enough to pair with seafood and salads but sturdy enough to pair with pasta puttanesca and other strongly flavored dishes. 100% Gaglioppo from organic vineyards, it opens refreshing and brisk, like a lemony iced tea spiked with nectarine and strawberry. Mid-palate it turns more wild with subtle botanical notes of juniper and dried oregano before finishing with notable presence, zesty and firm. 

Juan Pinero Jarona Manzanilla NV
$14.50/$11.60 by the case 375ml

Manzanilla is a dry, aperitif style of white wine from Spain’s southern coast, made only in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This proximity to the sea gives the wines a savory saline quality and a refreshing sea breeze vibe. This Jarona bottling has become a favorite around here lately for its bone-dry, invigorating style that also offers a wealth of subtle complexity. Aromas of cool spearmint, salted buttered toast and gingery brown spice swirl and pop while hints of poached Asian pear tread lightly on the palate, the flavor of, without the weight. Although many people would not expect to like sherry (yes, this is considered sherry, just a very dry, light style), this was a big hit at a recent tasting. Instead of thinking of sherry, drink this as a distinctive white wine, produced only in a specified limited chalky region, following a unique age-old process. Like Champagne, just without the bubbles but a lot cheaper! $14.50

Small Vineyards Italians

Poderi Elia Langhe Nebbiolo Padrun 2016  
$20.99/$16.80 by the case

Elia’s Barbera d’Asti has been a longtime favorite here and this new bottling, a 100% Nebbiolo, delivers a similar sense of old world authenticity wrapped in a modern package. The flavors are fresh and expressive, the texture supple yet there's a clear sense of varietal honesty. Aromas of blooming roses, dried oregano and hints of licorice lead to dusty red cherry and black plum. Despite its youthful power, the flavors loll about easily on the palate and the tannins are encased in a velvety robe, echoing fresh red berry on the long finish. A classy addition to the collection, this is a good match for more "serious" summer dinners. 

Quercia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva 2014
$20.99/$16.80 by the case

A favorite four years running, this shows just how good Montepulciano can be in the right hands. The quality starts in the vineyards with 40+-year-old vines and strictly organic farming. While the delicious flavors remain consistent, this seems more structured at this point than the forward fruitiness of the 2013. After the cocoa-dusted nose and red cherry entry, the vibe turns more wild as the brambly blackberry fruit is shaded with pastoral aromas - floral iris, wet loamy soil, crushed rosemary and smoked meats - while the finish is strappy and powerful. 

Marchetti "Later Harvest" Verdicchio 2017
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
Born of an inspired experiment to let the grapes ripen an extra few weeks, this has become a summer season standard and the 2017 does not disappoint. Lively and displaying great intensity, this seems more serious than recent vintages with more minerality and depth; the older these vines get, the better this wine seems. The texture is its greatest charm, tacky and nibbly soft like a good salt water taffy with a variety of flavors. Ripe peach and honeyed pear are joined by dried mango, pineapple and brown spice notes while a bite of bitter orange zest hangs on the persistent finish. 

Half-Price Deals for Summer

Pol Roger Champagne Brut Réserve NV   (Very Low Supply!)
$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

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. 

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.   

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.   

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