Featured Wines From The Newsletter
Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima 2014
$29.99/$23.99 by the case Regularly $42
Welcome fall with this stellar deal from our friends at Owen Roe, a serious yet accessible Cabernet from some of Yakima’s best vineyards including DuBrul and Red Willow. Conceived as a bottling in 2012 to showcase the diversity Yakima Valley offers and also be a stepping stone to their single-vineyard Cabs, this quickly became a customer favorite. Now as they roll into the terrific 2014 vintage, a limited-time price break is sure to make it even more popular. Rich and powerful with lovely expressive aromatics, the currant and black cherry fruit is joined by a haze of complex aromas: cola and cocoa, smoky basil and a Christmastime potpourri spiciness. The texture is supple yet firm, wonderfully balanced for a wine to drink now or cellar, as a rounded caramel softness gives way to lightly chewy tannins on the finish.
JL Chave Sélection Côtes du Rhône Mon Coeur 2015
$20.99/$16.80 by the case
A legendary Rhône family, Chave winemakers have been father to son since 1481, an astounding feat of consistency. The current winemaking generation, father Gérard and son Jean-Louis, are renowned for their attention to detail and rigorous blending prowess; Chave is the undisputed king of Hermitage and arguably the best domaine in the northern Rhône. JL Chave Sélections is their négociant label, made with purchased fruit in a more accessible style and price range. With long-term fruit contracts and serious winemaking, this line has always offered great value but the 2015 is the best in recent memory. Roughly equal parts Grenache and Syrah from villages of the southern Rhône, this is no simple country red, rather a serious layered wine that while delightful now will continue to improve for years. The fruit runs dark and strappy, blackberry and ripe plum, and the texture is taut and muscled. Notes of lavender, cured black olive and anise make it unmistakably southern French while trails of smoky black peppercorn cry out for hearty fall dishes.
Cambon La Pelouse Haut-Médoc 2013
$17.99/$14.40 by the case Regularly $30
A classic old-school style of Bordeaux perfect for fall and winter, this comes from 40+ year-old vines right next to Margaux and its pedigree shows as this delivers a confident salvo of savory graphite gravelly goodness backed by aromatics of dried flowers and pipe tobacco. The fruit is mellow, almost furtive, with a nicely aged feel to it, a jumble of black currant and rumbling blackberry. It seems to roll slowly across the palate, smooth from age yet studded with nubs of varied flavors before finishing with a final aromatic burst of rose petals, clay earth and woodsy dried sage. A reassuring value for the old world crowd and a textbook example of traditional Médoc winemaking, this end-of-vintage deal is well worth checking out.
Amezola Rioja Gran Reserva 2001
$44.99/$39.99 by the 6-pack
Wow, here’s a treat. 2001 was a top vintage in Rioja and this is drinking beautifully with plenty of life left in it. The aromatics are lovely and beguiling, an olfactory trip into the past, gentle and meandering. It shows the tenderness of an aged wine balanced by a lemon peel zestiness and still-present tannins. Texturally complete with a supple smoothness, the dried cherry and plum fruit are appealing but serve mostly as a vehicle for the accompanying aromas. Brown sugar mixes with licorice and a menthol mintiness, old wood gives way to incense and cardamom cinnamon baking spices melt into a butter cookie creaminess. Given only a small taste to explore thus far, I can’t wait to open a bottle and taste the whole symphony. Very limited availability.
D’Angelo Aglianico del Vulture 2015
$17.99/$14.40 by the case
Basilicata lies at the southern end of Italy, the instep of the boot. The most mountainous region in the south, it remains a wild, sparsely populated area despite its central location between Rome and Athens, right in the middle of the ancient western world. Compared to the rest of Italy there are relatively few vineyards but among them, Aglianico is king. Most likely brought by the Greeks centuries ago, it thrives in volcanic soil; the appellation “del Vulture” is named after the extinct volcano Monte Vulture. A century-old family winery, D’Angelo was one of the first to bottle their own wines in the 1970s when the appellation was created. This 2015 gives a taste of its wild, volcanic birthplace while also being surprisingly elegant and smooth, a dynamic that elevates it above many rustic southern Italian reds. Deep ripe flavors of strawberry and cherry are perfumed by meaty oregano aromatics that veer toward tobacco, tar and game before ending with pretty floral echoes.
Two favorite best sellers from last October are still kicking so we brought them back for an encore performance, at even lower prices!
Olabarri Rioja Gran Reserva 2007
$21.99/$17.60 by the case Regularly $30
Two years ago we landed the 2004 and customers loved it. The 2007 was a worthy successor and when offered the price break again we couldn’t resist. Offering all the same aged Rioja character that made the 2004 so special yet with a little more richness and power, this clearly stands out from the crowd. The nose is complex and deep with dried floral and brown spice cayenne notes as well as a woodsy stone cellar air. The texture is caressing and smooth as the dark red and blue fruits stay gently sappy across the palate, gliding into fruit-encased tannins on the finish. Ten years old and still vibrant and quietly intense, this is a highlight of the season.
Basel Claret Columbia Valley 2013
$12.99/$10.40 by the case
A favorite go-to Washington Cab blend, its price bounces from $15 to $21 ($25 at the winery) so $13 was too good to pass up. Classy yet flashy, this offers a wide range of flavors and seemed to taste slightly different every few sips. Overall supple and vibrant, it has an expected full-flavored softness but with a balancing lift and freshness. The varying shades of aromatic spiciness are as alluring as a fine parfum, from sexy vanilla oak notes to black tea and cedar shavings. The fruit is punchy and fluid, shifting from bright raspberry to black cherry to dried currant and more. This drinks like a much nicer wine than the current price suggests.
From the Last Newsletter...
Scott Paul La Paulée Pinot Noir 2013
$17.99/$14.40 by the case Originally $40
The Pinot Noir deal of the summer, here's a chance to save over 50% on a nicely aged, beautifully balanced bottling that even at its original price was deemed a "great value" by Neal Martin in Parker's Wine Advocate. With new owners, a new winemaker and several vintages of inventory, this popular Carlton winery has said "come raid the cellar" and we are happy to oblige. Made by winemaker Kelly Fox, this offers a lovely bouquet of spiced cola, floral underbrush and bright red fruit. Medium-bodied and supple throughout, you can sense that time in the bottle has softened the edges and layered the flavors; strawberry mixes with pie cherry, the black tea notes are laced with cinnamon and the finish trails wisps of brambly rose petal spice. "Best La Paulée yet" says the winery; maybe so, and at this price it's worth finding out.
Cellar Frisach L'Abrunet Negre 2017 (Terre Alta, Spain)
$18.99/$15.20 by the case
In addition to Spain's traditional old guard, there's a new frontier renaissance taking place, with amazing wines from young winemakers dedicated to reviving old varietals, with an eye to organic, biodynamic and natural vineyard and winery practices. Enter Andrew Yandell, a charismatic and enthusiastic young importer who is focused on the wines of Catalunya, Terre Alta and Rioja. He recently popped into the shop with a lineup that blew us away with their personality, pure intensity, full flavors, balance and sense of place - at amazing prices. We brought in several reds and whites, but this classic blend of co-fermented 60% Garnacha and 40% Cariñena from high elevation Terre Alta vineyards southwest of Barcelona is a great late summer/early fall wine. The exuberant dark cherry and wild marionberry fruit is laced with floral violet aromas and hints of turned earth interwoven with a persistent minerality. We loved the sexy lush texture, but the wine remains elegant - mid-weight and structured, with a unique compactness and power leading to a long finish. It's fresh, tasty, sophisticated and a steal at the price.
Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2013
$39.99/$31.99 by the case
The 2013 Brunello are starting to roll in the door and by all accounts it is a fantastic vintage. The Caparzo has long been a favorite here; true to the region yet approachable in its youth and a great value as well. The 2013 has more structure than the softer 2012 which makes it a great candidate for the cellar. That said, a little time in a decanter and this will pair nicely with a hearty bowl of ragù Bolognese come wintertime. 95 points in the Wine Spectator: "This cuts more of a broad swath than its peers, yet remains graceful, evoking strawberry, cherry, tobacco and stony mineral flavors. Long and dense in structure, with a tobacco- and underbrush-tinged finish. Best from 2021 through 2033."
Walter Scott 2017 Fall Releases
Two of the most exciting under -$30 wines currently being produced in Oregon, these are made with the same care and attention to detail as their single vineyard wines and the quality is stunning. Delicious already but the best is yet to come. Both wines will sell out quickly, the Chardonnay is especially limited. If you're a fan, now's the time.
Chardonnay La Combe Verte 2017
With all due respect to other winemakers and personal preferences aside, this is arguably the best Oregon Chardonnay under $30 and there's plenty of people who agree. Already sold out at the winery (it was released just last Saturday), it will be sold out everywhere soon. The first few vintages elicited "wow that tastes like Burgundy". Now it's more like "wow, that tastes like really good Burgundy!"
Bursting with an electric intensity, the texture is amazing: crunchy, waxy, racy and polished. There's a pleasant greenness in the nose with hints of fresh fennel and spearmint before diving into a mix of lemon, Asian pear and green apple on the palate. The finish sails on with a saline yeasty spice note, an intriguing and delicious complement that made me head right back in for another sip.
As always there's minimal intervention in the cellar: native yeast fermentation and minimal lees stirring. Fruit sourcing includes some of the best including X Novo, Clos des Oiseaux, Freedom Hill, Justice and Sojourner.
Pinot Noir La Combe Verte 2017
This is both a serious wine that will age beautifully for years and a seriously delicious wine already. The aromatics are lovely and mouthwatering, a halo of floral brambly, woodsy spice. The fruit, in aroma and taste, is a mix of Oregon berries and black cherry, accented by a savory wild earthiness. The texture is supple, layered, elastic and seemingly ever-changing. What did we expect? Such an incredible value, this is an Oregon Pinot cellar starter (or protector) on the cheap as it just gets better and more complex for years. The source material may have helped: four top volcanic Eola-Amity Hills vineyards (Clos des Oiseaux, Sojourner, Justice and Prophet) rounded out by the marine sediment soil of Freedom Hill. Also, Ken makes really, really, really good Pinot.
Both wines are $27.99 retail, $25 by the 6 pack, $22.40 by the case (mix and match is fine).
Pinot Noir Cuvee Ruth 2017
$39.99/$31.99 by the case
This reserve-level bottling takes it all up a notch. delivering more depth, complexity and length. It starts out a bit tight and then opens up and lets loose with soaring perfumed aromatics and sexy-textured dark cherry and spicy medium plum fruit, shot through with a brambly earthiness. Great balance and loads of depth promise much more to come with some cellar time, but enjoy the long long long finish right now.
Past Favorites Still Available
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.
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.
GWB Newsletters Archive
Here are current and back-issues of the Great Wine Buys Newsletter to help you print out the month or find a wine from past issues.