Hello friends. I’ve decided to take a brief respite from 630 minutes of World Cup-watching this weekend (paradise!) to hit send on today’s offer.
Now then, we’ve tasted what has seemed like a never-ending string of summer-appropriate import wines during the past few months, and today we’ve distilled them into a summer six-pack of well-priced highlights (two bubblies, three whites, one rosé). If you’re invited to a party this summer and tell the host that you’re bringing a six-pack, this might not be the alcohol expected, but it will be welcome. (Maybe to be safe, bring a six-pack of beer too).
I’m going to (try to) keep the descriptions of each wine to no more than a paragraph or two so this doesn’t become the mega-offer to end all mega-offers, but it won’t be easy: these are delightful wines that will certainly grace my fridge, my deck, my gullet this summer.
NV Olivier Morin Cremant de Bourgogne “Tentation”
Olivier Morin has been a real discovery this year. One of the highlights of the Thomas Calder Selections book, Morin left a life of DJing to set up shop in Chitry, a region in Burgundy about as close to Chablis as you can get. The soils here are the same kimmeridgian chalky series as Chablis, and it shows in the flinty minerality of the wines. List members have swooned over the Chitry Blanc and the Cremant Rose, and I’ve been chasing this dragon for months now. I was too late on each of the first two drops, losing out to Wild Ginger both times I believe (shakes fist at their delicious food and clever wine buying). But this time we’re in! This wine landed less than a week ago, and I’m thrilled to include it. It’s a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, all from chilly Chitry, which seems just tailor-made for sparkling wine. The killer flavor profile combines apple fruit with creamy crème brulee and wonderful savories of celery and chicken stock. With serious intensity, a great creamy mid-palate, and a fine mousse, this is killer sub-$20 bubbly.
NV Graham Beck Brut Rose
I don’t think we’ve offered a South African wine previously, and this is a wonderful place to start. The winery, founded in 1983, is into its third generation of family ownership. Sparkling wines from Graham Beck were served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994, and there’s even a connection to our current American president (the story goes: Barack and Michele Obama drank a Graham Beck sparkling wine to toast Barack’s announcement to run for president in early 2008, then set some bottles aside, popping corks on several more before the famous victory speech in Grant Park). But okay, history aside, this is just a killer producer of value bubbles. This one is about a 50/50 split of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and the nose is very Pinot, with lovely cherry notes and earth tones. The palate has an aggressive mousse but delicate flavors, with strawberry, green papaya, and dark baked bread. There’s refreshing acidity, and this lingers impressively for a wine at this price.
2012 Casa de Mouraz Vinho Verde Biotite
Vinho Verde from the Portuguese coast is mostly a grocery store category, offering semi-sparkling, (mostly) unoffensive wines. I remember in my early wine-drinking days, it was a first step up the ladder from the very bottom shelf, and a noticeable step at that. For most Vinho Verdes, you don’t need Full Pull; just grab a bottle at the grocery checkout when you pick up your halibut. But this little puppy is something different, an organically grown, single-vineyard Verde that cuts through the clutter of the category in a serious way. Tasted blind, I’d probably guess Riesling or Albarino. There’s barely a prickle of bubbles here; this is closer to a still wine, and it seduces with its pronounced key lime, citrus blossom, and mineral notes. With super bright acidity, tooth tingling nervy mouthfeel, and surprising intensity, this is a wine to turn your perception of VV completely on its head.
2012 Chateau Grand Bateau Blanc
One of the most shocking wines I have tasted in 2014. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, because I’ve found that the more expensive a bottle of Bordeaux Blanc is, the more likely I am to loathe it. It seems like higher prices always mean riper, more oily Semillon, tropical Sauvignon, out-of-place new wood, and ponderous texture. I’ve actually begun to believe that Washington might be a better place than Bordeaux for these Sem/Sauv blends (examples like Buty SSM and Cadaretta SBS make a compelling case), but a bottle like this reminds me that there’s a reason these are called Bordeaux blends. It’s an 80/20 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend, and it’s an alternate label for fourth-growth Chateau Beychevelle. The nose is the perfect mix of the two varieties: grass and white peach, grapefruit and fig. But where this really shines is the palate texture, which displays tension and energy in a manner wholly unexpected for the tariff/category combo. The palate pops, coats the mouth, and lingers effortlessly.
2013 Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc
I guess if there’s a theme to this offer, it’s wines that defy the expectations of their categories. For me, Goldwater offers the best of Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, without the pungent, jalapeno, pyrezene-driven notes that can overwhelm all subtlety. It’s a winery with a long history in the area, originally founded in 1978. They nail the green side that can make NZSB so lovely, here in precise notes of sweet pea and grass, never venturing into any funkiness or roasted-pepper. The fruit is all grapefruit and passionfruit, and there is a deep vein of minerality running through this bottle. I’ll admit we’ve already gotten a head start on this one. I’ve probably plowed through three bottles during the exceptionally sunny start to June. It’s an easy grab, with varietal typicity, purity, and outright deliciousness at moderate (13%) alcohol.
2013 Bila-Haut (Chapoutier) Rose
We’ve previously offered the rouge and blanc from Bila-Haut, which you may remember is a Roussillon project from Michel Chapoutier (yes, the Chapoutier of multiple 100pt [Robert Parker] wines from the northern Rhone). Bila-Haut also ships a small parcel of rosé to Seattle most years, and it’s a lovely pink. A blend of Cinsault and Grenache, it offers a summer nose of strawberry, kiwi, and melon, and enough brambly/garrigue complexities to remind you of (more expensive) Tavel rosé. But where Tavels can be full bodied and weighty, this has more brightness, an acid-mineral spine to hold up the lush, fleshy (13.5% alc) fruit. A fine summer-into-autumn rosé from a producer that has become well loved by our list members.
First come first served up to 72 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and 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.