"Friends of Cameron" Tasting Notes

Look back on the amazing wines we have released to check out tastings notes. These are the original product notes archive for the purposes of providing product information for products that no longer have online product information. Pricing, availability and shipping content may be out of date. We make no claims of having any of these products available to sell at the pricing listed in this content. Most recent tasting notes may also be missing.


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Chateau Maillet 2018 Pomerol

Hands down, the best Bordeaux wine I tasted at Wine Paris last Spring, the Château Maillet 2018 Pomerol was a mind-blowing experience. Densely-packed and chewy, its the perfect Bordeaux wine for Napa Cabernet lover's.

100% barrel-fermented in 100% new French oak, Chateau Maillet has fantastic 93-95-points scores.

95-points - Truffles and chocolate with black cherries, plum, espresso and a hint of coconut on the back end grabs your attention. Opulent, hedonistic, sensuous and richly textured, this is just great now and after 5 years or so in the cellar. If you like hedonistic wines, this is for you. ~The Wine Cellar Insider

94-points - Blackcurrants, blueberries, minerals and cedar on the nose. It’s full-bodied with firm tannins. Juicy and suave texture with a ink-like feel on the palate. Very polished tannins. Tight finish that’s still in reserve. Underlying, classic beauty here. Try after 2024. ~James Suckling

93+-points- Black cherries, mulberries, black tea, damp earth, and violet notes emerge from the 2018 Château Maillet, a spicy, medium to full-bodied, complex, and sumptuous Pomerol that's already hard to resist. With sweet tannins and plenty of mid-palate depth as well as loads of chocolaty fruit and opulence on the palate, it's going to continue evolving for 10-15 years. ~Jeb Dunnock

100% Estate vineyards, 100% Pomerol 400M from Petrus and next door to Le Bon Pasteur
100% Barrel-fermented in 100% new French oak Merlot (what Pomerol is know for)
14.5% alc
150 cases available

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2020 Vouvray Sec Cuvee Silex 

Bordeaux buddy strikes again!

Our Bordeaux contact has been been rattling his rolodex to unearth some tremendous wines for us lately. The latest find is a couple hundred cases of 2020 Vouvray Sec "Cuvee Silex" from Domaine Meunier

Sec = dry.

From 25+-year-old-vines raised in gravelled tuffeau and clay-silex flint, this is a laser-focused mineral supernova of a wine and a mouthwateringly delicious expression terroir. If you like 'em bright, effusive and refreshing you are absolutely going to love this. I have had this bottle open on my tasting table now for a week and it's still fresh as a daisy!

Pale straw in the glass. Fresh, precise and minerally turns effusive and boisterous with air, the crystalline bouquet bursting from the glass with yellow apple, almond blossoms and flint interlaced with lemon- and quince-flecked minerality. Fantastic! Mouthwatering on entry, this wine explodes on your palate, a nervy supernova of lemon, quince, rock and apple showcasing pure, pristine, precise energy. Should age beautifully over the next decade. Please be sure to enjoy this at cellar temperature to really appreciate the nuance and verve.

100% Chenin Blanc, 100% estate, 25-year-old-vines
No oak
12.5% alc.
200 cases produced
Bottled May 2021

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Chateau Serilhan 2019 St. Estephe Cabernet/Merlot

Located on the Left-Bank in St. Estephe, Chateau Sérilhan's vineyards and winery were recently re-invigorated across the board and the legendary oenologist Alain Reynaud added to the team. Performing extremely well in 2019, Serilhan was awarded TOP 5 Wines of Saint Estephe En Primeur 2019 from both Vinous.com and The Wine Advocate, earning 92-94 and 91-93 scores respectively.

Check out these fantastic reviews:
Vinous, Antonio Galloni: The 2019 Sérilhan is a total knock out. A rush of grilled herb, inky dark fruit, licorice and menthol notes hit the palate as the 2019 makes a strong opening statement. Deep and virile in feel, the 2019 has so much to offer. It is without question one of the sleepers of the vintage. In a word: impressive. 92-94

Vinous, Neil Martin: The 2019 Sérilhan, attired in a very chic blue label now, conveys real quality on the nose with well defined blackberry, cedar and sous-bois aromas that seem very pure and nuanced. The palate is ripe and succulent on the entry, yet there are genuinely very fine tannins here, lending this Saint-Estèphe a silky texture à la 2016 and a persistent, gratifying finish. Bon vin! 92-94

Wine Advocate (Lisa Perrotti) With a deep garnet-purple color, the 2019 Sérilhan bursts from the glass with notes of ripe blackcurrants, boysenberries, black raspberries and cedar chest plus nuances of red roses, pencil lead and camphor. The medium-bodied palate shimmers with energy, featuring tons of crunchy black fruit and a finely grained texture, lifted by fantastic tension, finishing long and perfumed. Impressive! 91-93

REGION: Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
BLEND: 60% Cabernet, 40% Merlot
TERROIR: Saint Estèphe Lieu-dit Aillan, Bocq, Pez et St Corbian, Graves of Günz, clay, and limestone.

HISTORY: 20 years ago, this family vineyard property of 20 ha in total in AOC Saint-Estèphe and Haut-Médoc, initiated a “return to its roots” inspired by the vision that Émile Peynaud, founder of modern oenology, had of Saint- Estèphe wines: “lively colour, bright fruit and harmony on the palate”. The resources and methods of renowned growths were used to create a seductive wine: completely picked by hand – meticulous sorting of the grape berries – vinification by plot – haute-couture ageing – special attention paid to the blends.

WINEMAKING: Coming from 33-year-old vines, fermentation takes place in concrete tanks, stainless tanks and wooden vats and includes a 4-day cold maceration. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel and includes some stirring of the lees. The wine is aged in oak barrels, of which 37% new, 32% one-wine, and 31% second-wine for 15 months.

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Bettini

2019 Valtellina DOCG Sasella
Pale-to-medium garnet. Gorgeous, facted bouquet of camphor, licorice and anise spice mingles with pretty cherry haloed by blackberry syrup, worn leather and rock. Fantastic, savory, complex. Vigorous and energetic on the palate with fleshy cherry, blackberry, weathered iron and smoked sage supported by a lovely granitic minerality in a long, sustained finish. Focused, restrained and ethereally juicy.

2019 Valtellina DOCG Grumello
Medium garnet. The bouquet is pungent with musk, rock and rose petal complexed with warm dried cherry and alpen garrigue. Blackcurrant and granite add to the ephemeral mix of spice and leather. Muscular and tightly wound at first with mouthwatering tension and focus with liquid mineral and black fruit bass notes supporting pretty cherry, leather and crushed rock. Turns fleshy and ethereal with air.

2019 Valtellina DOCG Inferno
Its often said the name Inferno refers to the hellish slopes upon which this appellation is situated. I propose that it is named for its spicy, fiery cinnamon and cherry red hots that grace the bouquet. What a gorgeous wine with a truly unique bouquet. Spicy cinnamon red hots and ripe red cherry swirl with brown sugar, leather and granite. Black orchid florals and classic alpen garrigue halo the bouquet with air. Muscular on entry, focused and ethereal with granite laced tannins and pretty red fruits woven throughout, the fruit darkening with air. Wow.

2019 Valtellina DOCG Valgella
Pale-to-medium garnet. Opens with the upper register bouquet just singing with small red fruits, granite and leather all pure and sleek and nicely accented by spicy garrigue. As the wine gets air the black and blue fruit spectrum appears to round out the aromatics. Tightly wound on entry with robust, mineral-laced tannins interlaced with juicy, mouthwatering red fruits and crushed rock. Again the darker fruit spectrum evolves with air over days. Fantastic.

Bettini 2017 Sasella Reale Valtellina Superiore DOCG
Produced from the best estate parcels of Sasella DOCG (one of the four main terroirs of Valtellina region), this wine is raised up in combination of barrel and large format foudre for four years before being bottled earlier this year. Normally, the family insists on a year of bottle ageing before release but, given the timeline of arrival later this year, they agreed to sell me the wine now.

Just a scosh darker than the normal DOCG bottlings, the Sasella Reale (which, in this contect means "royal") is quite tightly wound right out of the bottle and it takes a couple minutes of swirling in a nice big Burgundy bowl to get things going. Pretty cherry hard candy, leather saddle, crushed red rock and tobacco anchor the bouquet, haloed by alpine spice and lilac water. As the bouquet unfolds, blackberry syrup and chocolate/tobacco add to the chorus with a vinewood, resin and rock perfume. Fleshy and juicy on entry with sappy fruit richness from the extended barrel time enveloping the very well integrated mineral- and tobacco-laced tannins. There is a reserved opulence to this wine leading to a ripe yet supple fruit impact in a long finish.

2017 Bettini Sant' Andrea Riserva Valtellina Superiore DOCG
In special vintages, the best rows of Sasella, Valgella, Inferno and Grumello are left on the vine until St. Andrews day, November 30th. Fermented on native yeasts, the wines spend two years in new French oak barrels and two years in large format fourdre before bottling. In this case, at the end of 2021. A richer, riper style weighing in at 14% alcohol which is big for the region.

With a bit more time in the bottle than the Reale, the bouquet is far more effusive right out of the gate with spicy wild strawberry and cherry fruit swirling with leather, cocoa and sweet pipe tobacco all wrapped around a red rock core. Sweet maple and caramel notes complex this super-fresh, complex and layered bouquet. The wine is supple and smooth on entry, then succulent, juicy and ripe across the midpalate with flavors of cherry candy red rock, tobacco and caramel; however, the powdery, mineral-laced tannins give this wine a supreme elegance to its cut. Exquisite balance of fruit and tannin gives the ripe, juicy, extended hang-time fruit an excellent framework with fantastic length, purity, and plush power.

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Xavier Vignon Gigondas

I've tasted the Xavier Vignon 2019 Gigondas at numerous trade shows over the last 6-months and it gets better every time. Big, rich, dense, meaty, lovely and chewy along with deep, dark and delicious are just a few of the adjectives ascribed in my notes.

Sourced from high-altitude, 80+-year-old Grenache vines on the high slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail, this is powerfully rich Grenache like you've never had before...sumptuous and ethereal with fantastic structure and complexity.

Swirls of black raspberry ice cream and dark chocolate combine in Vignon's 2019 Gigondas, a blend of 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvèdre from numerous small parcels dotted around the appellation. Matured in a large wooden vat, there's no apparent oak aromas or flavors, just the purity of old-vine fruit, creamy tannins, ample concentration and a bright, vibrant—and long—finish. With its combination of intensity and tension, it should drink well for a decade or more. 93-points, The Wine Advocate, Joe Czerwinski

My notes:
Opaque and brooding in the glass but opens up beautifully with a just a minute of swirling. Meaty, graphitic core is haloed with seasoned french oak, black pepper candied cherry and boysenberry fruit. On the palate, the wine is virile and sexy with generous weight and extraction but beautifully balanced and vibrant with chewy tannins spread throughout the lush mouthfeel. Fantastic! The length lingers for a good minute+ with notes of candied fruit, graham cracker, and peppery lavender splaying out in an absolutely magic carpet ride of a finish. Enjoy this Yum bomb over the next decade+!

100% Gigondas AOC
95% Grenache, 5% Mourvedre
5% new French oak, largely aged in "tronconic" (truncated cone) oak vats AKA foudres
15% alc.
200 cases imported

Xavier Vignon Lirac

I first tasted this wine in January 2022 and loved it then. I've tasted it multiple times since and continue to be impressed by its ever evolving complexity. This is powerfully built wine that will age for another decade or more yet delivers immense pleasure now.

And it is not just me that liked it :-)...it's been well-reviewed by The Wine Advocate as well:

92-points: An 80-20 blend of Grenache and Syrah, Vignon's 2019 Lirac is drawn from multiple parcels with galets roulés over clay soils. Roughly one-third went into oak, while the rest stayed in tank. It may be the most complex of the various Vignon "Signature" offerings, marrying hints of garrigue and licorice with mixed berries and hints of oak. It's medium to full-bodied, silky and forward, with the same lip-smacking drinkability factor that marks all of Vignon's wines on the finish. September 2020

The wine has cracked open considerably since the review above, adding a beautiful beam of raspberry kirsch complexed with animale, white pepper, caramel and toffee. It's juicy and generous on the palate, finishing with fantastic structure and finesse - on that we can all agree!

100% Lirac AOC (Rhone Valley)
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah
33% new French oak barrels, 66% tank
15% alc.

Xavier Vignon Arcane Series

Part of the Arcane series, this is pinnacle of the winemakers blending art, not just with varietals, but with vintage as well. There are ten wines in this remarkably creative offering and I have assembled my three favorites here for you today.

Each of these wines is a work of art and its is not just me who appreciates them - each has been rated 92-95-points by The Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnock and James Suckling.:

Xavier Vignon Arcane "La Temperance"
92 -Points Wine Advocate, 93-points James Suckling - This multi-vintage (15,16,17 and 18) Rhone red sourced entirely from Cairanne is 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah. Vinified in 200 liter, glass Wine Globes, this full-bodied red is silky but not overwhelmingly heavy. The wine bursts from the glass with black cherries and plum, layered with a dash of cedar and leather. Drink now or cellar for another 5-7 years.

...This self-confidently rich and fleshy Cairanne, also has a very well-crafted structure, the gentle tannins keeping the 15% alcohol on track. I love the dark, earthy finish that pulls you back to the glass for more. 93-points James Suckling

Xavier Vignon 2016 Arcane "Les Amoureaux"

94-Points Wine Advocate
, 94-points Jeb Dunnock - 5 crus blended into a silky red Rhone powerhouse. Bristling with ripe strawberry and raspberry throughout and layered with pepper, blackberry, and black cherry. 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Caladoc. Drink now or cellar for a decade or more.
The 2016 Cotes du Rhone Arcane VI Les Amoureaux is a stunning effort, showcasing raspberry and strawberry fruit, a silky-creamy texture and lush, mouthwatering flavors. No, it doesn't speak of the individual terroirs (Beaumes de Venise, Gigondas, Lirac, Rasteau, Vacqueyras), but it delivers sheer deliciousness. 94-points The Wine Advocate

Xavier Vignon Arcane "L'Etoile"
95-Points Jeb Dunnuck 
- Multi-vintage blend sourced from high-altitude vineyards from the Beaumes de Venise terroir, neighbour to legendary regions of Gigondas and Vacqueyras. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, this blend is elegance in a glass. "Notes of black raspberries, currants, dried flowers, lavender, and pepper are followed by a beautiful, full-bodied, elegant wine that might just be one of the greatest red wines to come from Beaumes de Venise"- 95-points Jeb Dunnock

Xavier Vignon CDP Series

Each of these wines is a world class CDP in it's own right and its is not just me who appreciates them - each has been rated 94-97-points by The Wine Advocate and Jeb Dunnock.

 

Xavier Vignon 2016 Anonyme CDP

95-Points Wine Advocate, 95-Points Jeb Dunnuck: 2016 was a monster vintage for Chateauneuf and Xavier Vignon knocked on out of the park! The Anonyme is a bit of a rarity in CDPs in that it contains no Syrah. Que-Syrah, no syrah, it definitely did not hurt when it came to accolades. Both The Advocate and Jeb Dunnuck both gave this wine a 95. This is a BIG CDP, opening with hints of mocha and toast, with a layer of heavily concentrated blackberry and plum. Spicy and silky with sexy minerality laced throughout and an extremely long, massively persistent finish. Drink it now or hold for another 10-15 years.

95-Points: The striking 2016 Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvee Anonyme is 60% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre and the rest minor varieties (there's no Syrah). Aged in a mix of foudres, demi-muids, barriques and concrete tanks, it shows hints of mocha and toast on the nose, but the blackberry and red plum fruit is mouthwatering and fresh, richly concentrated and spicy. Full-bodied, it manages to be ripe, silky and concentrated, while remaining crisp on the lengthy finish. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. - Wine Advocate

95+-Points: The 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Anonyme is the flagship and is mostly Grenache that was sourced from numerous terroirs throughout Châteauneuf-du-Pape and brought up in a mix of tank and barrels (some new). It offers a rocking bouquet of black raspberries, blueberries, lavender, Asian spices, and graphite. Like all of Xavier's 2016s, it has purity, freshness, and richness, yet still packs ample richness and depth. Give this full-bodied, elegant red another few years, and it will keep for a decade. - Jeb Dunnuck

Xavier Vignon La Reserve CDP

97-Point Jeb Dunnuck: With the magical 2016 vintage making up the bulk of this blend with help from 2015 and 2017, this unique, multi-vintage creation, Reserve CDP from Xavier Vignon is an elegant yet voluptuous red that is absolutely singing in the glass now, but will easily age for another 10+ years in the cellar. Layered with oodles of black current, black pepper and crushed violets, this wine has fantastic complexity and an amazing structure.

97-Points: The NV Châteauneuf Du Pape Reserve XV XVI XVII comes primarily from the magical 2016 vintage with smaller amounts from 2015 and 2017. It offers an extraordinary nose of blackcurrants, ground pepper, garrigue, and crushed violets. Rich, full-bodied, and incredibly seamless, with a stacked mid-palate, this is Châteauneuf Du Pape brilliance all the way. It’s terrific today yet will keep for 15+ years. - Jeb Dunnuck

Xavier Vignon 2016 La Papesse

94-Points Wine Advocate:  100% gorgeous Grenache from the legendary 2016 vintage. La Papesse is created through a meticulous and laborious production process described below. Another big yet sexy CDP, this wine open with aromas of leather and cedar and seduces you in with an abundance of black cherry and plum. Ultra-refined tannins  splay out in a silky finish. Like the other two CDP's, drink now or hold for another decade+.

94-Points: The full-bodied, voluminous 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape Arcane La Papesse shows a surprising degree of elegance for such a big wine. Remarkably dark and youthful in appearance, it gives up hints of leather, cedar and dried spices, all set against a backdrop of black cherries and plums. The tannins are fine and silky on the mid-palate, fading gently into soft dustiness on the lingering finish. Impressive, with at least a decade of aging potential still ahead of it. - Wine Advocate

Winemaking Notes from Vignon website:


TERROIR
100% Grenache grown predominantly in the coolest terroirs situated in the North of the appellation. The soils are composed of rolled pebble interspersed with clay. This soil composition offers excellent drainage properties and helps to regulate warmth in the soils during hot weather.


WINEMAKING

La Papesse is a made from a very specific selection of grapes grown in the Châteauneuf du Pape collection vineyards (very old vines, often co-planted). They are then sorted to ensure optimum consistency.

The juices were separated into different containers prior to vinification (conical truncated vats, concrete vats and stainless steel vats, around 1/3 of each).

After the malolactic fermentation in early November 2016, the wine was divided into different containers again ready for ageing (amphora, barrels, concrete vats, demi-muids and stainless steel).


A proportion of the wine was aged in the same way as the Arcane Le Pape using the Vinarium technique. The wines were then transferred into small 200L barrels which were they themselves immersed in wine. 
This process took place over several years from 2017 to 2020.

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Incredible Bordeaux Value Sampler

I have tasted hundreds of Bordelaise wines over the past 6-months and have found a multitude of great values.

What I have assembled here today, however, is a collection of Bordeaux wines that not only offer amazing value, but wines that will have broad appeal to folks who tend to find "new world" wines more compelling.

These are all still classically Bordeaux, but they have a more open-knit structure and riper fruit due to the fantastic vintages the region saw in both 2018 and 2019. All are all drinking great already and will cellar nicely over the next 4-10 years but there is no reason to wait.

Folks, I promise these are some truly "WOW" bang-for-the-buck wines!

2019 Chateau Biran Cuvee Roxane AOC Pecharmant (Bergerac!) 

Great color in the glass. Toasty, almost buttery red fruits and blackcurrants complexed with pretty, ripe cherry and river rock. Fleshy and full-bodied on the palate with red fruits, red clay and a river rock minerality complementing the juicy tannins. Great flesh and balance. I am told the wine recently scored 90-points in the Wine Enthusiast but the write-up has not yet published/confirmed. The 2018 did score 90-points.

2018 Chateau Jalousie Beaulieu Cuvee Prestige

Opens with blueberry, maple syrup, tree bark and red rock aromas gaining complexity as it opens adding red licorice and lilac perfume then muchroom and graphite. Simply tremendous complexity for this price. Fleshy and muscular on the palate with robust, graphitic tannins and terrific plum and blackcurrant blast in the long finish.

91-points James Suckling - A bright and vivid Bordeaux with currants, fresh earth and flowers on both the nose and palate. Medium body. Firm, fine tannins and a clean finish. Linear and refined. Drink or hold.

90-points Wine Enthusiast - Pure Merlot has produced this powerfully rich wine. Tannins and dark black-plum flavors are still nudging each other for balance. As it develops this wine will be densely textured and rich with fruit and texture. Drink from 2021.

2019 Clos St. Anne Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux

This was a real "WOW" wine for the team.  Gorgeously rich and ripe bouquet of raspberry, red rock and toasted graphite growing more confectionery as the wines opens with ripe cherry licorice and milk chocolate notes. Soft and supple on entry, open knit and delicious throughout with succulent, juicy ripe fruit that is at once as elegant as it is opulent. Seamless from tip-to-tail, this is a simply fantastic bottle of wine.

92-points Wine Enthusiast - with the Courselle family of Château Thieuley in Entre-deux-Mers in charge, this estate has produced an opulent, ripe wine. Structure comes from the 40% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend and the wine will age. Drink from 2023.

2019 D'Arsac Diagonale AOC Margaux

Rich and ripe yet super-fresh bouquet offers huge complexity and dimension with fruit, mineral, earth and wood in equal measure. Pungent and savory with deep red and black fruits lifted on gobs of toasty french oak. This is the modern, new world style melded beautifully with classic BDX...densely concentrated yet super sexy on the palate with real freshness and verve playing over the robust tannins the net effect of which is excellent dimension and complexity and true elegance.

91-points Wine Enthusiast - This fine estate at the west of the Margaux appellation has produced an, elegant second wine. It is juicy with a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Black currant fruits give the wine a youthful character. Drink from 2025.

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Beautiful Bordeaux Blanc Mixed Case

I picked my favorite Bordeaux Blancs from the Wine Paris tasting last Spring and have assembled them here. All of these are drinking very well now with the 2018 and 2019 having another 7-8 years of life left on them. I highly recommend buying a couple cases and cellaring these.

The wines are crisp, expressive and gorgeous not to mention magnificent! Please find my notes below.

2018 Clos des Lunes, Lune D'Argent Blanc

93-Points Wine Spectator, 93-Points James Suckling
Clos des Lunes was founded by legendary Domaine de Chevalier winemaker Olivier Bernard with a sole focus on transitioning the amazing terroir of Sauternes and its noble anchor varietal, Semillon, into a glorious dry white. The Lune D'Argent bottling is a no-expense spared, barrel-aged and bone-dry blend of 70% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Blanc from this Grand Cru terroir. The result is a wine of precision, grace and tremendous refinement.

Intense and complex nose of honeyed acacia blossoms, exotic white fruits and citrus mixed with flint. The bouquet takes on deeper dimension with air turning more tropical adding mango and peach notes along with creamy guava and beeswax. The palate is rich, generous, ample, and intensely fruity, with very good tension. The Sauvignon Blanc lemon juice delicately coats the exotic sweetness (lychee, mango) of the well-ripe Semillon. The finish is a work of art, simply blasting with rock perfume, vetiver spice, lemon blossoms and guava. Decant for an hour or two or 24-hour decant recommended. Drink over the next 7-8 years.

2019 Chateau Thieuley, Cuvee Francis Courselle Blanc

91-Points Decanter Magazine
50% Sauvignon and 50% Semillon and aged for 9-months in French oak, this gorgeous, icon-level cuvee has the structure and depth age another 7-8 years. Its cracking open nicely now with two-years in bottle but a good decant or 24-hour decant is recommended.

The bouquet is fresh and lively with apple and citrus notes complexed with toasty, flinty, mineral notes and a hint of mint. Robust on entry with with flint and mint notes in a tightly wound structure and huge length swaddled in baby fat. However, guava and papaya notes complex the bouquet with air adding layers of vetiver perfume and rock as she opens up. The palate spreads it wings as well becoming fleshy with cascading layers of rock, flint, tropical fruit and creamy citrus adding perfumed mineral notes in the lovely retronasal blast. Magnificent stuff. Do yourself a favor, be patient with this wine and allow it to blossom. Drink over the next 7-8 years.

2021 Chateau Sainte Marie, Entre Deux Mers Vielles Vignes

91-Points James Suckling.

This old vine offering is a classically styled combination of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon with a splash of 5% Muscadelle. The bouquet is fresh and pure with no oak influence. Complex aromas of white flowers, lemon crusted mineral, flint and riverstone frame passionfruit and citrus notes. Fresh, bright and lifted, the bouquet adds apple skins with air. Round and supple on entry, medium-bodied, this wine quickly turns crunchy and zesty, exploding on the midpalate with apple skin and pink grapefruit crusted minerality, citrus and rock that lead to a long, mouthwatering finish. Drink over the next 3-4 years.

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2018 Las Veletas "Cuartel #5" Maule Valley Cabernet Franc

I first tasted this wine at a trade show last Spring in New York, fell in love with its ethereal power and complexity, and promptly purchased all 200 remaining 6-packs.

Turns out the wine critics loved it as well as I subsequently discovered when the confirmation samples arrived with all sorts of 93- and 94-point score stickers on them. Not sure what you think of Tim Atkin, MW or Chilean Wine Guide Descorchados, but they've awarded this wine 94- and 93-points, respectively. 

And a lovely wine it is.

Las Veletas was originally founded as a passion play to resurrect the old and ancient vine Pais (originally brought over by Christopher Columbus in 1492) and Carignan of the upper Maule Valley in Chile. Some of these gnarly old vineyards date back to the late 1700's, making them the oldest recorded vineyards in the world.

However, the wine on offer today is from more modern stock, just a hectare of uplifted decomposed granite and gravel in the Altos of Alquihue where the 350M elevation, dry-farmed vineyard produces small clusters of intense Cabernet Franc fruit. The wine is fermented on native yeasts and aged for another 18-months in barrel before bottling. Only a couple hundred cases are produced each year - you won't find this anywhere else in the USA.

The result is an ethereal elixir that beautifully combines its rocky underpinning with a core of graphite and granitic minerality perfumed with pretty raspberry and cherry and Cabernet Franc's signature spicy garrigue and sweet florals. Dried blueberry and mushroom complex the bouquet with air. Fleshy and chewy on the palate, its presents a beautifully balanced amalgam of fruit and rock that play out over a potent structure of mineral-laced tannins that provide fantastic backbone. This wine would pair nicely with grilled meat now and will gain significant complexity over the next couple of years as it opens up in the bottle - feel free to drink or hold.

All in all, this is a pretty geeky wine, I must admit, but I believe it will have broad appeal. However, I was captivated not only by its beauty but by its potential. I would be quite happy consuming this now (in fact, I am grilling some sausages for the team now) and then cellaring the rest to consume over the next decade.

100% Cabernet Franc, 100% estate fruit in upper plateau's of the Loncomilla Valley in Maule region.
18-months in 20% new, medium-toast French oak just for a little fruit elevation
14% alc.
200 x 6-packs imported, 100 cases

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2015 Marchesi Gondi Mazzaferrata Cabernet Sauvignon

I met Gerardo Gondi late in the day at VinItaly last Spring. As fatigued as my palate was, this Super Tuscan Cabernet just blew me away and earned a coveted two asterisk's and a "buy it all" note in my tasting book.

The Gondi's are one of the oldest families in Italy (tracing back to the 8th Century) and Gerardo and his family are stewards of an impressive collection of Pallazzo (Gondi Palace at the Pallazzo Vecchio), farms, and wine farms. However, I found them to be quite low-key and humble people, preferring to impress with their farm and wine products than their ancestry or position. These are truly wines of authenticity and soul.

The portfolio is across the board fantastic but I chose to focus on the Super Tuscan Mazzaferrata Cabernet Sauvignon because of its tremendous quality-to-price ratio plus the fact it is drinking wonderfully now with a good five years in the bottle.

We are the exclusive US importer for this wine and the only place you can find it outside of Europe. As such, the reviews have all been from Italian or British sources and translated for you below:

Mazzaferrata has an impenetrable ruby ​​red color, with a great visual impact. The nose is very intense and of great complexity, with sensations that begin with black fruits, such as blueberry and plum and then decline with spicy and toasted notes. The spiciness is sweet with hints of cardamom, cumin, it closes with nuances of bitter chocolate and sweet tobacco. The taste is powerful and rich, the tannins are tight and silky. In the mouth the fruity notes of plum and toasted and spicy ones are repeated. A wine with great personality. Decanter Magazine, was not scored

Particularly persuasive aroma, between fresh and very clean notes: aromatic herbs, mint, Mediterranean scrub. Then a concentrated and very delicate red fruit enters overwhelmingly: currant, wild strawberry. Finally notes of coffee and undergrowth. On the palate it is fluid, flowing, but also muscular. The tannin is silky, the drinkability extraordinary. 93-points Bruno Petronilli, James Magazine (Italian version of Robb Report)

Intense ruby red color with evident purplish textures of good consistency. The nose is a triumph of intense aromas of aged red flowers followed by notes of berries that tend to compote, hints of sweet spices vanilla, nutmeg and cumin. Aromas of powdered coffee, fine woods and crushed chocolate. In the final, a fine and delicate balsamic nuance. In the mouth the perfect correspondence between the olfactory examination and the olfactory taste is highlighted, the tannins is very precise, silky, and the finish very pleasant. A quality wine with great longevity. It is recommended with a filet of beef Wellington. Piero Pardini - The Wolf Post Guida di Vino.

My impressions: the bouquet is wonderfully complex assortment of pepper, spices, flowers and even a little Provencal garrigue haloing graphitic cherry and blackberry compote and I totally see the balsamic and fine hardwoods notes referred to above, along with the coffee and dark chocolate. The palate is perfectly balanced with a silky smooth entry that lays out a supple yet firm tannin structure carrying delicately nuanced fruit, oak and earth notes in equal measure to a long, sustained, and pleasurable finish with a lovely, pure retronasal bouquet and never seems to quit. Grab a Holy Grail Steak Co. American Wagyu ribeye or strip steak and get to work!

100% Tenuta Bossi Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 18KM east of Florence, 350M above sea level.
12-months in large format wooden casks, 12-months in small oak barrels before two-years of ageing in bottle.
13% alc.
200 cases imported.

***

Champagne Dourdon Vieillard

"La Réserve de Germain"

Récoltant manipulant (grower-producer) Fabienne Dourdon-Vieillard grows 9.5 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier vineyards planted on the clay and limestone slopes in the heart of the Valléè de la Marne, just west of Épernay.

Divided into 62 parcels, this diversity of vineyards with different altitudes and exposures (including parcels in the Montage de Reims) allows for purely artisanal work in the cellar to create truly unique blends, each a real expression of the territory of Valléè de la Marne.

In short, these wines were winemaker Mark's and my favorites from VinExpo Paris last winter. This special cuvee has never seen US shores before but, based on the ex-cellars pricing, would likely sell for between $70 and $80/bottle though three-tier channels.

La Réserve de Germaine is a blend of 2014-2015 vintage.

Explosive vibrancy, freshness, full mouthfeel, and aged Methode Champenoise come together with fantastic balanced expression.  A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir aged for 3+years en tirage (time spent on the yeast inside the bottle).  This process produces toasty brioche notes and a distinct aged wheat character from the yeast contact that complex the vibrant pomelo and nectarine notes, adding a rich, full bodied expression that supernovas into a mineral finish. The low dosage preserves the crystalline gorgeousness of this wine. Fantastique!

80% Chardonnay (zero malolactic)
20% Pinot Noir
12% alc.
6 g/L dosage 

2015 "Les Pinots de Zéphirin" Vielle Vigne

Récoltant manipulant (grower-producer) Fabienne Dourdon-Vieillard grows 9.5 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier vineyards planted on the clay and limestone slopes in the heart of the Valléè de la Marne, just west of Épernay.

Divided into 62 parcels, this diversity of vineyards with different altitudes and exposures (including parcels in the Montage de Reims) allows for purely artisanal work in the cellar to create truly unique blends, each a real expression of the territory of Valléè de la Marne.

In short, these wines were winemaker Mark and I's favorites from VinExpo Paris last winter. This special cuvee has never seen US shores before but, based on the ex-cellars pricing, would likely sell for between $80 and $90/bottle though three-tier channels. 

Vintage 2015 Pinots de Zépherin Vielle Vigne (old vine) - one of the best bubblies I have ever had, I highly recommend the experience - the pillowy mid-palate alone is worth the price of admission.

20% Pinot Noir and 80% Pinot Meunier from the Montagne de Reims area in the north of Champagne.  This Blanc de Noir is a 2015 vintage Millésimée - a rare bottling of one vintage that shows the richness and power of the Pinot grapes in the north, lending notes of violets, plums, toasty brioche and stone fruits, complexing with a flinty, appleskin minerality that focuses the finish of the wine while pillowy, pink fruits and chalk linger throughout. Crystalline, fresh, racy, gorgeous, complex, powerful and absolutely sublime!

40+ year-old-vines
80% Pinot Meunier
20% Pinot Noir
12% alc.
8 g/L dosage

"La Gourmandise de Désirée" Rosé

Récoltant manipulant (grower-producer) Fabienne Dourdon-Vieillard grows 9.5 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier vineyards planted on the clay and limestone slopes in the heart of the Valléè de la Marne, just west of Épernay.

Divided into 62 parcels, this diversity of vineyards with different altitudes and exposures (including parcels in the Montage de Reims) allows for purely artisanal work in the cellar to create truly unique blends, each a real expression of the territory of Valléè de la Marne.

In short, these wines were winemaker Mark's and my favorites from VinExpo Paris last winter. This special cuvee has never seen US shores before but, based on the ex-cellars pricing, would likely sell for between $70 and $80/bottle though three-tier channels. 

La Gourmandise de Désirée Rosé: Blend of 2016-2017 vintages

For the La Gourmandise de Désirée Rosé, Pinot Noir is blended into the wine to produce the beautiful pink hue, and then aged on tirage (on the yeast in the bottle) for 3 years. 

This Champagne shows a lovely Salmon pink with fine, long-lasting perlage. The bouquet is super-expressive with ripe strawberry and raspberry fruits beautifully complexed with spice, honey, hazelnuts and brioche. Hedonistic on the midpalate with the lush richness properly accompanied by focused minerality allowing the pretty fruit notes to echo throughout the long finish. Toasty, roasty, rich-yet-elegant, this Champagne is a magic carpet ride for your palate.

20% Chardonnay
40% Pinot Noir
40% Pinot Meunier
9 g/L dosage
12% alc

***

2020 Les Maselles Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Let me just tell you, the wine is drinking beautifully right now. It's very well structured (2020 vintage was fantastic) and will age nicely for another couple of years to boot - but its in its prime now and ready to rock-n-roll.

Frontlining at $19/bottle, the 2020 Les Maselles Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc was rated 91-points by the International Wine Report: This Sauvignon Blanc begins with inviting aromatics of grapefruit, gooseberries and dried herbs that are laced with an underlying mineral character. The palate is fresh, vibrant and bursting with racy acidity, while remaining beautifully balanced throughout the finish.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I would only add that the wine has added some nice honeyed flint notes to the bouquet. I love the mouthwatering, chalky acidity as well. The wine shows tremendous freshness (bottled under screwcap) and is just hitting its stride in the bottle now. 13% alc.

Domaine Jourdan "L'Arcestrale" Chinon Cabernet Franc

2014 L'Arcestrale
Dark in the glass and pungent with earthy black cherry, savory graphite, earthen mineral (think fresh-turned black earth), roasted thyme and powdered rose petals. Muscular, chewy, ethereal and palate-staining, concentrated with black fruits and vanilla with dark chocolate hints and a huge finish. Still has huge ageing potential but opening up nicely now - quite approachable with a good decant. An absolute WOW wine.
 
2015 L'Arcestrale
Fleshier, juicier and more energetic, more open-knit and accessible. Chewy on the palate, vibrant with a brighter fruit profile of blackcurrant, black cherry and racy strawberry. A prettier vintage for sure...2014 would be more like Napa in 2013, the 2015 more like Napa in 2015. Sexy juice!

2016 L'Arcestrale
The 2016 falls structurally in-between the the 2014 and 2015 with a scintillating bouquet of umami leather and exotic spice with a ripe black fruit and earth amalgam underpinning high-toned peppery florals. Exquisitely balanced with chiseled mineral energy launching dark fruit, vanilla and chocolate with a lush rose petal retronasal blast.
Fantastique!
 
2017L'Arcestrale
Another fantastic vintage similar in style to the energetic 2015...juicy, mouthwatering structure with rose petal florals, red clay, racy strawberry and black cherry fruit. Beautiful intensity, elegant aromas, silky texture and jammy fruit. Delicious now but definitely more to come!

 

 2021 Vignoble Roy Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

I met Antoine Roy at a tasting here in San Francisco last Spring and was impressed by every wine he produced, including his reds. He has been farming and winegrowing 30-hectares in the Loire appellations of AOP Valençay, Touraine and Touraine Chenonceaux since 1989 but the land has been in his family for generations. He knows what he is doing.

I loved the red wine "Petit Range" but thought was just to young to bring in at the time...next round. Anyhow the whites are fantastic across the board and I am thrilled to bring them into the USA.

The Vignoble Roy Touraine Sauvignon Blanc has a very similar aromatic profile to the Brillemont, chalk full of lifted pear and citrus notes along with a bit more flint perfume. It's an absolutely brilliant nose with gobs of complexity, however, and it has fantastic structure as well, crisp and mouthwatering with pure, beautiful length on the finish.

 

2020 Vignoble Roy Touraine "Chenenceaux" Sauvignon Blanc

Touraine Chenonceaux Appellation is an integral part of the Loire Valley and one of the seven European vineyards granted World Heritage status by UNESCO. Its reputation for producer amazing Sauvignon Blanc's is perhaps less known outside of France but true nevertheless. Rich, ripe and tropical aromatics set this wine apart from the other Touraine SB offerings and I believe it will have broad appeal to California Chardonnay aficionados as well as high-end New Zealand SB Fans.

Golden in the glass with brilliant green highlights. The bouquet is quite fine, with notes of ripe white fruits like pear, apricot and blossomy passion fruit joining with the more tropical mango and flint bass notes. Round, ample and supple on the palate, the wine expresses toasted brioche notes, citrus and white fruit notes which are kept fresh with a chalky attack on the long, persistent finish of citrusy mineral, honey and white raisin.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
100% estate grown and produced, clay and flint soils.
Stainless steel ferment and ageing for 12-months on the lees for a supple richness
13.5% alc.

 

2021 Vignoble Roy Valencay "Les Beaux Monts" Sauvignon Blanc

Super-intense Sauvignon nose effusive with lemongrass, citrus and pear aromas with beautiful minerality and limestone notes intermingled with the flinty acacia blossoms. The bouquet is fresh and young with plenty of complexity yet to emerge. On the palate, she's a skyscraper of a wine, big, fresh and tense in the mouth with a long beam of acidity adorned with beautiful purity of fruit, a laser-like focus and a salivating, persistent finish of grapefruit and honeyed chalk riding crystalline minerality into the sunset. Just delicious. Drink now and over the next 3-5 years. Holds up beautifully in the bottle and great to watch evolve over a couple of days.

90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Chardonnay
100% estate vineyards
Vineyards: limestone and clay with plenty of flint
Stainless steel fermentation with 6-months on the lees
13% alc.

 

2021 Domaine de Brillemonts Grande Reserve Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

Brisk, breezy, and cheerful, this lovely Sauvignon Blanc features a bright bouquet of citrus, pear and honeysuckle florals complexed by a cool perfume of flint and aloe. It has a slatey mineral aromatic undercarriage the belies its granitic origins. On the palate, citrus, rock, white pepper and mineral unwind in a mouthwatering finish.

88-points Decanter
With its intense flinty lime and gooseberry character, this is an easy-going Sauvignon Blanc with great varietal typicity. Waves of elderflower flow through the palate, ending on a tight, tangy finish.

 

2021 Blas Munoz "Barrel-Fermented" Old Vine Chardonnay La Mancha

If you like a rich, barrel-fermented Chardonnay, look no further than the Blas Munoz Old Vine Chardonnay - it's a fantastic wine.

Folks, trust me on this one.

Crafted from 35+ year-old-vines planted in low-yielding, rocky, calcareous soils, this beautiful 100% new oak barrel-fermented Chardonnay combines richness and verve with an energetic, glycerin-driven mouthfeel that will thrill Chardonnay lovers of all stripes.

The 2020 was rated 91-points by James Suckling and available to us, but I chose to go with the 2021 because its simply a better wine due to lower yields resulting in more concentration and energy.

Intense yellow with golden rim. Beautifully expressive despite its youth (and it'll really be singing when it arrives next Spring), presenting at first a bouquet akin to a baked caramel apple with kiss of cinnamon spice but quickly opening up to become more delineated with stone fruit, fresh croissant and lemon blossom rounded out with crème brulee and custard notes. Richly textured, round and silky on entry with a glycerin-like mid-palete amply supported by mouthwatering lemon-driven minerality to keep things vibrant and lively. Toasty, tangy and utterly delicious, this concentrated Chardonnay drinks beautifully now and will age another decade.

100% Old Vine Chardonnay, Blas Munoz La Mancha estate
100% barrel-fermented, 100% new oak - 90% American and 10% French
14.5% alc.