Hello friends. As has become tradition, we’re using the retail holiday of Cyber Monday to help our list members load up on sparkling and sticky wines for the holiday season. We like to keep the price points moderate, so you won’t see any Champagne here. Please note that we will be pouring a bunch of Champagnes on our last open Saturday of the year (Dec 20); that will be our opportunity to stock up on pricier bubbly.
This will be a combination of reorders on oldies-but-goodies with a few newbies sprinkled in. I’ll try to hold to one short paragraph per wine to keep this from getting out of hand. Here we go:
See original offer for more extensive info. I got to visit Treveri during my research trip for the Destination Wineries piece for Seattle Magazine, and it is an impressive operation. The quality that the Grieb family is putting out for the price points is impressive, and it’s terrific to have a Washington winery focused on sparkling wines. This is their flagship wine as far as I’m concerned, always offering ripe fruit (stone fruits and tropical), a rich palate, and a lovely palate-coating mousse. Delightful, well-priced local bubbly.
Ernie Loosen is known mostly around these parts for his collaboration with Ste Michelle on Eroica Riesling, but elsewhere in the world he is known for Dr. Loosen Wine Estate, the German property that has been in his family for more than two centuries. The Germans are notorious for their sparkling wine consumption, but much of their own production never makes it out of Germany. Everything about this screams Riesling: diesel notes, slatey minerals, peaches and tangerines. It’s rich and off-dry (I’d put it at Kabinett were it a still wine), with wonderful balancing acidity. Nice length and smoky complexities for the tag.
Long original offer for more details. This has been one of the biggest surprise hits of our import ventures. Who knew our list would go gaga for Lambrusco?! It’s likely the most famous frothy red wine in the world (not much competition), and this one from Lini is a low-alc (11%), pulsating blend of indigenous varietals from Emilia Romagna : 85% Lambrusco Salamino and 15% Lambrusco Ancelotta. It’s dry and delicious, mixing black cherry fruit with some of the bitters from the cherry pit, balsamic notes, and a chalky earthiness that just won’t quit. There’s way more intensity and complexity than we have any right to expect. This stuff is mood enhancement juice, and it has become a staple at our house.
Another list favorite, offered multiple times and enjoyed by a broad swath of our members. While a lot of sparkling wine from Limoux (in the Languedoc) is forgettable Mauzac-driven plonk, this is made by Philippe Collin, a native Champenois who moved to Limoux in 1980 and makes his Cremant from 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir. This disgorgement has a lovely alpine character to the nose: mountain fruit and mint and minerals. Quite dry (6 g/L dosage) and super-intense, this is a mouthwatering homage to Extra Brut Champagne, with the presence of Chenin adding lovely honeycrisp and malt-powder complexities.
We haven’t offered this one before, but we have written about Gruet, one of the finest American wineries outside the big three states (CA, WA, OR). Founded in 1984, after Gilbert Gruet of Champagne house Gruet et Fils found what he thought was suitable land in New Mexico for making Champagne-style bubbly and then sent two of his four kids there to run the show, the winery was recently purchased by local outfit Precept, giving us access to some of the higher-end gems from the lineup, including this vintage Blanc de Blancs. It’s all Chardonnay, all from estate vineyards in New Mexico at 4300ft (location here). It spends three years on the lees, and that shows in the wonderfully autolytic nose, with brioche and granola, hazelnut and sweet corn. That rich nuttiness continues on the palate, balanced by lovely bright acidity. Savory and intense, delicious and long, this is quite an achievement for American sparkling winemaking.
There have been serious rumblings coming from the Columbia Gorge over the past few years, signs that this could be the perfect spot in Washington for sparkling wine. Syncline’s bottles from Celilo Vineyard have been exquisite, and today we have another sign of this region’s burgeoning excellence. Is this Washington’s first true grower-Champagne-style sparkling wine? Steven Thompson (who worked stints at Cayuse and Craggy Range among other spots before landing in the Gorge) has a lease to farm Atavus Vineyard, which has to be one of Washington’s oldest sites. It was planted in 1968 to 7 acres of Pinot Noir (Mariafeld clone) and 5 acres of Gewurztraminer, so the site is now getting on close to half a century. Steven harvested his Pinot in October 2010 at 2 tons/acre, and this spent a whopping 42 months en tirage. It was hand-riddled, hand-disgorged, saw zero dosage, and is wonderfully complex, with loads of autolytic croissant notes, lemon and cherry fruit, and terrific savory chicken stock. Bone-dry, super-intense, with lovely bready richness, this coats the palate and lingers, all mouthwatering goodness.
[Okay, I know I said one paragraph per wine, but this one requires a second.] During David Schildknecht’s one memorable year covering Washington for Wine Advocate, he was completely wowed by Analemma, writing a 467-word introduction that I will not reproduce (see, I have some self-control!). That was back in 2012, and Steven disgorged a little of this 2010 BdN, which Schildknecht wrote about again in his year-end Best of 2012 article: [TEXT WITHHELD]. When David Schildknecht calls your sparkling wine “profoundly complex,” you know you’re on the right track.
New vintage of an old list-member favorite. The beautiful acid of the cooler 2010 vintage is a great complement to the residual sugar, and Opulento is as close to a legitimate Ruby Port as you’re going to find in Washington. It comes from real-deal Portuguese indigenous varietals: 36% Souzao, 33% Touriga Nacional, 22% Tinta Cao, and 9% Tinta Roriz. Aged for 18 months in French oak (20% new), this was fortified with 190-proof brandy up to a finished alcohol of 19%. Inky-dark, it stains the glass and offers a nose of deep berry fruit, high-cacao chocolate, coffee, and orange peel. The palate is luscious, with rich liquorous fruit flavors of kirsch and Chambord swaddled in creamy caramelized barrel notes. Another delicious rendition of this lovely wine.
Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94pts.”
When Matt and I were doing practice tastings for the WSET Diploma Fortified Wines exams, it quickly became clear that LBV (late-bottled vintage) ports were among the best values out there. Unlike vintage ports, which are typically aged in barrel for 2-3 years and are then expected to age in bottle for another 20-30, LBV ports are typically bottled 4-6 years after harvest and are made in a softer, more approachable style, generally ready to drink at the point they’re bottled. It’s like a baby vintage port, and waaaaaay less expensive. Rather than getting too geeky with port, let’s stick with the classics of Kopke/Rocha. This combines sugar plums and the darkest of chocolates, rum raisins and violets, dates and smoky/peaty earth. The sugar/acid ratio is spot-on, and this just contains loads of stuffing for the tag.
Kopke was founded in 1638 by German-born Christiano Kopke. Their specialty has long been tawny port. Now many of us have had age designated tawnies – 10-year, 20-year, 30-year – and those are blends of multiple vintages, where the target average age is what is listed on the bottle. Much more rare are Colheitas – tawny ports from a single vintage – and that’s what we have today. Every drop in the bottle was harvested in the Douro during autumn of 1989, a quarter century ago. It offers a glorious, expressive nose of salty butterscotch, roasted nuts, dates, golden raisins, and orange peel. The palate has a wonderful marmalade spine, with just the right amount of acidity and bitters to balance the sultry sweetness. Epic wine, and made for the cheese course.
We originally offered this back in July, but December makes a lot more sense. All the Aszu wines combined – from 3 Puttonyos (least sweet) to 6 Puttonyos (most sweet) – represent about 1% of Tokaji’s total production. These are rare treasures, and this one clocks in at 11% alc, 203 g/l (20.3%) residual sugar, and 8.0 g/l total acidity. It’s the first 6 Puttonyos Kiralyudvar has produced since the 2003 vintage, and it’s a stunner. Honeyed pineapple, Rainier cherry, salty mineral tang, woodsmoke, botrytized notes of truffle and caramel, fresh lift of eucalyptus: it’s all there, on a dense, achingly delicious frame. Lovely now, but without question this wine’s best years are well ahead of it. A great Tokaji Aszu like this is a singular tasting experience. 95(+?)pts from Tanzer, 95pts from Spectator (Nathan Westley), and you can find the texts for those reviews in our original July offer.
Please just go ahead and order what you like, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. I expect all the wines to arrive in the next week or two, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.