Hello friends. I had to look back, but we’ve never used the term “closeout” in a Full Pull offer. Kind of surprising actually, and we’ll put an end to all that today.
So, a closeout, in the wine trade, is when an importer/wholesaler applies special discounted pricing on the remainder of the stock available for a particular wine. Often it happens if they have a new vintage of something on the water and about to arrive. Rather than confusing things by selling two vintages at once, it’s easier to just slash the price and move the wine.
Sounds great, right? So why then have you never seen “closeout” in a Full Pull offer? Because typically, it’s like 27 bottles of this, 14 bottles of that; basically extras-shelf or personal stash territory, not enough for an offer.
Furthermore, there are a *lot* of other reasons for closeouts. Stale inventory, need for physical warehouse space, the wine kind of sucks, etc. As you can see, some reasons are better than others. I’ve learned the hard way that closeouts are a minefield (witness my six remaining bottles of an off-dry 2005 Vouvray so heinous in its banality that I keep it around just to serve it to people I don’t like), and that tasting is a necessity.
Today’s offer overcomes both obstacles. First, there are hundreds of bottles of each of the wines available. And second, we’ve tasted through all of them (along with a bunch of other wines not selected), and these are the picks of the litter. None of them are particularly well-known properties; most of them don’t have anything in the way of press. If they did, they wouldn’t be closeouts!
But for those of us who enjoy the occasional treasure hunt in the value bin, today is Antiques Roadshow day:
2011 Esporao Arco Branco
Originally $13. This was the biggest surprise of the bunch. I fully expected to put this in the discard pile. I mean, a 2011 vintage Portuguese white? But what a delight it is, with plenty of peach and pear and apple fruit still remaining, and some nutty, raw-almond oxidative notes creeping in. As usual in Portugal, it’s a mix of indigenous varieties – Antao Vaz, Roupeiro, Viosinho – and unless you’re a native, that probably tells you absolutely nothing about the wine. Texturally, I’d say it drinks comparatively to Semillon or Savoie Altesse, with the fleshy creamy waxiness you sometimes see in those grapes. It’s eminently drinkable, all tree fruit and nut and spice. There’s still a solid spine of acid here, and it’s a wine that perhaps enchants most on its finish, a clean lick of seashore saltiness. Oh, and for Seattle food-lovers, it’s worth noting another vote of confidence for this wine: it’s on the glass pour list at Mistral Kitchen.
2010 Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Vieilles Vignes Sainte Claire
Originally $27, and I’ll admit I bought some for the personal stash when it was discounted to $23. I’m kicking myself now, but I’m also buying more, because this is a beautiful, honest Chablis from a fine vintage that is just entering prime drinking and should drink great for what, another 15 years? It has the flint, the chalk, that smoky edge that makes Chablis so beautiful. On the day we tasted it, we opened it at 10am, and it was at 4pm that the flinty notes really exploded; a good sign. The palate has wonderful minerality, citric extract, chestnut complexities, and loads of intensity on a nervy, live-wire frame. It’s just electric in the mouth, and it finishes long and mouthwatering.
2011 Evening Land Vineyards Pouilly-Fuisse
Originally $31. Another surprise, because a) it has the Evening Land imprimateur; b) it’s Evening Land making white Burgundy, which is geekycool; and c) it has a positive review, which is always rare for a closeout wine: Wine Enthusiast (Roger Voss): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”
Well, that review was published in the Nov 2013 Enthusiast, so we’re just about done with another year’s aging. It’s a rich, ripe Burgundy, with fleshy peach and papaya, mango and lemon curd fruit. But there are complexities beyond the fruit: attractive bready/leesy notes and chalky earth tones. The use of oak is judicious, but my word this is creamy as hell, drinking really new-world in its fruit impact. I’d save this as an autumn white; it’ll be perfect as days get shorter and jackets become important again.
2010 Ch. La Caussade Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (375ml)
Originally $14, and that still seems to be the best price available. This might be the best value of the bunch, but the trick is that you have to like sticky wines. Long-time list members might remember we offered a 2003 from this winery called “Sublime” (that one was a 500ml offered for $19.99 TPU); this is a very similar wine, albeit younger. It comes from Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (see Bordeaux map; we’re in region 32), across the river Garonne from much-more-famous Sauternes.
Basically, the region sits on top of a giant plateau of fossilized oyster shells. Here’s a picture to get your head wrapped around what this crazy terroir, this “soil” looks like. Because of its proximity to the river and its morning mists, it is also a perfect breeding ground for Botrytis cinerea, prized in sticky wines. This wine starts with a piercing nose of marmalade, fig, golden raisin, and pineapple upside down cake (with the brown sugar and the candied cherries). There are also alluring subtleties I’ll attribute to noble rot: caramel, tobacco leaf, even light mushroom. The blend is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, and the palate presents a wonderful mix of sweet fruit, grown-up citrus-peel bitters, and balancing acidity. No surprise, this is on dessert pours in restaurants all over town. It also has crazy aging potential for a $10 wine.
2002 Boizel Champagne Brut Millesime
Originally $65, and the best current pricing I’m seeing available is $56. If it’s not the Caussade, then perhaps this is the best value of the bunch. It’s just so damned hard to find aged vintage Champagne on the market period, let alone at closeout pricing. This is 55% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Meunier from an 1834-founded Champagne house in Epernay, currently run by fifth-generation Evelyn Roques-Boizel. The color is a beautiful deepening gold, and the nose is already developing the complexity and alluring hazelnutty notes we expect from maturing Champagne. Look also for savory chicken stock, baking spices, and earthy peach and cherry fruit. In the mouth, this is a rich, fleshy, openly delicious Champagne, with plenty of ripe fruit and plenty of dosage. Far from the lean-and-mean Brut Zero/Brut Nature bottles that are in vogue currently, this seduces with its generous yellow fruits (peaches and nectarines) and its insistent complexities both nutty and bready. Such a lovely autumn and winter Champagne. There are plenty of lower-dosage Champagnes for the summertime; this is the one to save for the holiday season, for roaring fires and big family-and-friend gatherings.
We almost never get access to aged Champagne. The only other version we’ve offered is the ’96 Vesselle, and that was $79.99 TPU. This is likely a once-every-couple-years type of opportunity, and you can bet I’ll be stashing some away in the personal cellar.
Please limit order requests to 48 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.