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APRIL 2019 REVIEWS


FRANCE - RED

2017 Jean-Francois Merieau, Gamay, Le Bois Jacou, Touraine, Loire Valley, France (S) 15.99/172.69

By promoting manual viticulture and minimal interventionist winemaking, Jean-Francois Merieau’s old vines produce some of the Loir-et-Cher’s most sought after wines. Merieau’s Le Bois Jacou bottling is 100% Gamay from ten to sixty-year-old vines grown on clay and limestone soils. These soils impart the Gamay with a brightness and verve that prove a delicious contrast to the granite minerality of cru Beaujolais. Reflecting a black-purple robe, Merieau’s Le Bois Jacou opens with chalk-infused aromas of mulberries, blackberries, and licorice. The wine graces the palate with a velvety texture accented by an appetizing herbal bitterness and piquant black peppercorn notes. Fresh, juicy, and ready to drink, the wine finishes with a delicious savory note and soft tannins that serve to frame the wine’s ebullient fruit expressions. A superb choice for warm weather parties and barbecues, pair Merieau’s Bois Jacou – perhaps with a light chill – with grilled steaks and burgers, roast chicken, and rustic potato preparations.

2017 Thevenet et Fils, Bourgogne Rouge, Les Clos, Burgundy, France 18.99/205.09

This is gorgeous single-vineyard Pinot Noir from the southern reaches of Burgundy. Jean-Claude Thevenet’s superb Macon and Saint-Veran bottlings always resonate with our discerning Burgundy clientele. This month we’re honored to be able to present Thevenet’s sole red wine, sourced from a superbly situated single vineyard called Les Clos, in the village of Bussieres. Sporting a lovely translucent garnet color in the glass, Thevenet’s Les Clos presents dusty, soil-inflected, authentically Burgundian aromas of cranberries, red raspberries, chalky earth, and rose petals. The wine’s palate impression alternates notes of sour cherries and tangy raspberries framed by soft tannins and a persistent dusty limestone soil signature. Bright minerals, balancing acidity, and appetizing savory herbs carry the wine to its long finish. Pair this well-priced Pinot Noir now and over the next three years with poultry, pork, stews, and rich recipes featuring morel mushrooms.

2016 Domaine Camus-Bruchon et Fils, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France (S) 29.99/323.89

Marrying brilliant viticulture, sure-handed winemaking, and the traditional rusticity of the Cote de Beaune’s Savigny sector, Camus-Bruchon’s 2016 Bourgogne Pinot Noir is the red wine of the newsletter! What separates it from its peers is its brilliant kernel of tangy red currants, pie cherries, and pomegranate seeds infused with rustic, earthy Savigny soil notes, black tea undertones, spicy orange peel, and ultrafine tannins. This is brilliant, old-school winemaking that effortlessly conveys clarity of fruit, soil transparency, and the purity of the Burgundies of yesteryear. Camus-Bruchon’s Bourgogne rouge is a wine to be bought by the case and enjoyed young and throughout the course of its twenty-year evolution. Pair with the simplest of fare: a perfectly roasted chicken seasoned only with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, or a spring vegetable saute accented by fresh morel mushrooms.

2017 Domaine la Bonneliere, Saumur-Champigny, Tradition, Loire Valley, France (S) 12.99/140.29

Saumur-Champigny’s rouges range from the seriously expensive vins de garde that take years to mature, to the immediately delicious cuvees that deliver a mouthful of soul-satisfying Cabernet Franc laced with the Saumur’s inimitable yellow limestone soil signature. This beauty from Domaine la Bonneliere lands firmly in the second camp. The domaine’s Tradition bottling offers a pure, elegant bouquet of violets, perfumed tuffeau soil, tobacco, herbs, and capsicum followed by a generous, immediately delicious palate of tangy black cherry and cassis fruit. Chocolaty, leathery, both serious and gulpable, Bonneliere’s Tradition is ready to please with all the character and perfumed tuffeau terroir of the Loire Valley’s Saumur sector. This is a ridiculous value that promises year-round versatility. Pair in cool weather with roast chicken or hearty mushroom dishes, or give it a light chill in the summer and serve it with grilled zucchini, barbecue chicken, ribs, and fresh chevres.
- Wine Spectator: 90 points
- Medaille d'Or at the 2018 Concours Des Ligers in Angers

2007 Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France 25.99/280.69

Finding a sub-$30 mature Pessac is a rare alignment of lucky stars. Pessac-Leognan is one of the most prestigious appellations in all of Bordeaux. Home to such famous chateaux as Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, and Pape-Clement, the appellation was carved in 1987 from the greater Graves region to celebrate and honor the best wines of the zone. This 2007 Chateau Haut-Bergey is Pessac in all its glory: deeply colored, elegantly textured, ready to enjoy tonight and also structured for further evolution. The hallmarks of great Pessac rouges are the notes of smoke, tobacco, leather, and cassis fruit, all infused with the gravelly soil signature that gave Graves its name. At twelve years of age, the 2007 Chateau Haut-Bergey shows the beginnings of maturity with an amber-mahogany rim and plush currant fruit accented by suggestions of tobacco, vanilla bean, and gravelly soil. Still fresh, vibrant and energetic, the wine’s savory tannins and acid backbone buoy its lush, velvety fruit expressions. Buy this by the case to enjoy now and over the coming fifteen years with beef Wellington, roast eggplant, roast duck, braised lentils du Puy, and similarly hearty fare.

2015 Domaine le Couroulu, Vacqueyras, Cuvee Classique, Southern Rhone Valley, France 18.99/205.09

Le Couroulu is a superstar in the domaine’s home village of Vacqueyras, and a staff favorite. This month we’re delighted to present the domaine’s old-school Vacqueyras Cuvee Classique. A blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%), and Mourvedre, Couroulu’s Classique presents an opaque rust-garnet color and textbook Vacqueyras aromas of sun-warmed cherries, ripe plums, bay leaf, and black peppercorns. Packed with flavor yet remarkably lithe, the wine layers the palate with tart cherry fruit, earth, game, leather, and herbal garrigue. Classically styled and showing restraint, the wine finishes with fine, lip-dusting tannins and echoes of game, leather, and stony earth. This is a must-try selection for fans of traditional, old-school Southern Rhone wines. Enjoy this rustic beauty now and over the next five years with cured meats, mild sheep’s milk cheeses, braised beef or lamb with rosemary and olives, or with slow-cooked ratatouille.


ITALY - RED

2016 F.lli Cigliuti, Barbera d’Alba, Vigna Serraboella, Piedmont, Italy 20.99/226.69

According to Vinous’s Antonio Galloni, “Cigliuti remains one of Barbaresco's under-the-radar jewels. Over the last few years, the wines have become especially notable.” From vines in the grand cru Serraboella vineyard in Barbaresco’s prestigious Neive zone, Cigliuti has crafted a wine of exceptional depth and dimension. This brooding, classic Barbera reflects a black plum color in the glass followed by savory aromas of salted plums, Bing cherries, cinnamon stick, and menthol. Plump and lush on the attack, the wine sparkles with mouthwatering acidity and rich impressions of black cherry skin, leather, mushrooms, camphor, cola, sassafras, and pie spices. Plentiful, fine tannins sneak in on the back-palate and lead the wine to a long, savory finish that begs for classic Piemontese cuisine. Pair this now and over the coming seven years with grilled hanger steak, pastas with a rich ragù or Bolognese sauce, fritto misto, carne cruda, and eggplant lasagna. Exceptional Barbera!

2015 Tenuta San Leonardo, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Terre di San Leonardo, Trentino, Italy 15.99/172.69

Located in the foothills of the Alps, the Tenuta San Leonardo estate is both protected by the mountains from the severe Alpine climate and warmed by the waters of the nearby Lake Garda. Formerly a monastery, the estate has been passionately run by the Marquis Guerrieri Gonzaga family for over three centuries. As home to the noble Bordeaux varieties, the Tenuta has developed a cult-like following for the character and distinctiveness of its wines. The Terre di San Leonardo is the Tenuta’s selection for immediate enjoyment. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (40%), and Carmenere, the wine casts an opaque black-plum robe and limestone-infused aromas of black currants, plums, spice, and tobacco. Fresh and lifted on the palate, the wine layers currant, plum, and black cherry fruit interwoven with suggestions of tobacco, leather, mushrooms, and cedar. The finish is juicy and invigorating, seemingly freshened by its Alpine origins and lifted by tangy acidity. Enjoy this delicious and versatile northeastern Italian beauty today and over the coming five years with just about everything but seafood, spicy cuisines, and acidic vegetables.

SPAIN - RED

2017 Jose Antonio Garcia, Tinto Mencia de Valtuille, Unculin, Bierzo, Spain (O) 17.99/194.29

Jose Antonio Garcia and his wife Julia Pena Garcia are at the forefront of the next-generation of vignerons in Bierzo, leading the change towards wines of place and definition. Together, Jose and Julia’s families have owned vineyards in Bierzo for generations and they do all the vineyard work by hand themselves. The Garcias’s Unculin tinto, crafted from Mencia vines planted between 1936 and 1956, is a fresh, bistro-styled tinto that offers a lovely deep purple robe in the glass, followed by aromas of cranberry, sour cherry, and pink peppercorns. Fresh and vibrant on the palate, the wine juxtaposes crunchy cranberry and pomegranate fruit with firm, food-friendly tannins and hints of dried rose petals, button mushrooms, and herbs. Savory and delicious, the Unculin finishes with further waves of mouthwatering tannins and a lip-smacking dusting of smoky minerals. Serve this Mencia now and over the next five years with grilled steaks and burgers, baby back ribs, bean tapas, salumi, braised rabbit, and hearty stews.

WHITE WINES

AUSTRIA - WHITE

2017 Malat, Gruner Veltliner, Furth-Palt, Kremstal, Austria (S) 18.99/205.09

Ninth-generation winemaker Michael Malat continues the family’s long viticultural tradition by crafting an impeccable portfolio from some of the Kremstal’s finest vineyards. Malat fashions his Furth-Palt Gruner from rocky loess soils on the foothills of the famed Stift Göttweig monastery. A brilliant green-gold robe in the glass segues to classic Gruner aromas of pea pods, lima beans, lime zest, and green peppercorns that accent a core of Meyer lemon and green apple fruit. Fresh, zesty, and salty on the fore-palate, Malat’s Furth-Palt Gruner boasts an unusually intense palate presence thanks to the warm, dry 2017 harvest. Smoky, citric, and loaded with mineral-driven Gruner goodness, Malat’s Furth-Palt finishes with a spicy lashing of deep loess soil infused in a juicy core of green pineapple and papaya fruit. Enjoy this delicious, impressively zesty Gruner now or over the coming three years with sauteed green vegetables, grilled zucchini, braised pork, antipasti, and roast chicken.


FRANCE - WHITE

2017 Champalou, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France (S) 20.99/226.69

Didier and Catherine Champalou are among Vouvray’s most highly acclaimed vignerons. From 35-year-old vines on Vouvray’s inimitable clay, limestone and siliceous tuffeau soils, the Champalous fashion some of the region’s most floral, expressive, and soil-driven wines. Their 2017 Vouvray opens with a pale lemon-gold color and textbook aromas of honeysuckle, tufaceous minerals, quince, and white grapefruit juice. Brisk on the attack, the wine shows impressive palate presence with a kernel of yellow pear and melon fruit buoyed by laser-like acidity and a riveting soft limestone mineral undercurrent. Champalou’s Vouvray finishes long and clean, with waves of persistent floral and mineral overtones backed by an appetizing, tactile edge of pear skin. Enjoy this brilliant Vouvray now and over the coming ten years with poached, delicately sauced fish dishes, sauteed squashes, fresh chevres, shellfish, and light chicken preparations.

2016 Domaine Camille Paquet, Macon-Solutre, Clos des Carras, Monopole, Burgundy, France (O) 19.99/215.89

The rock of Solutre is a jagged limestone escarpment that overlooks the commune of Solutre-Pouilly. Camille Paquet is the sole owner of the Clos des Carras, an impressive parcel of old-vine Chardonnay that grows atop the classic white Burgundy limestone and clay soil at the foot of the famous Solutre rock. A radiant lemon-gold in the glass, Paquet’s 2016 Clos des Carras opens with lovely aromas of lemon juice, quince, and clay soil. Rich yet coiled on the palate, the Clos des Carras meshes a classic Meursault-like texture with riveting acidity, beautiful white floral overtones, and smoky, limestone-infused suggestions of golden apples, Mirabelle plums, and Rainier cherries. Hints of cloves, white pepper, and grated ginger appear as the wine transitions to its long, juicy finish. 2016 is a fantastic Macon vintage, and Paquet’s Clos des Carras is superb value in authentic, limestone-driven white Burgundy. Pair it now and over the coming five years with herb-roasted chicken, trout amandine, chanterelles in a cream sauce, and light pork preparations.

2017 Domaine Sangouard-Guyot, Macon-Villages, Clos de la Bressande, Burgundy, France (S) 13.99/151.09

Vigneron Pierre-Emmanuel Sangouard farms 25 acres in the Maconnais’ most hallowed terroirs. He spotlights the Clos de la Bressande cru’s superb aspect and classic clay-limestone soil to craft this delicious Macon-Villages. A bright golden color in the glass, Sangouard’s Clos de la Bressande brilliantly expresses its Maconnais origins with high-toned white Burgundy aromas of clay-limestone soil, lemon zest, and white peach flesh. Crisp, lemony, and stony on the palate, the wine suffuses its juicy core of yellow plum, white peach, and white currant fruit with mineral undercurrents, balancing acidity, and complex notes of butter and raw almonds. The wine, vinified and aged in stainless steel to preserve its minerality, finishes long and tangy with persistent echoes of its calcareous terroir. As with all selections in Sangouard’s portfolio, this is superb, terroir-driven white Burgundy, and, at its sub-$15 tariff, an unbelievable value. Serve now and over the next three years as a welcome wine or as a lovely foil for herb-roasted chicken, trout amandine, chanterelles in a cream sauce, and light pork preparations.
 
Philippe Ravier, Vin de Savoie, Apremont, Savoie, France (S) 11.50/124.20

Bone dry and oh-so-refreshing, this is simply a glorious white for year ’round enjoyment. Fashioned exclusively from the indigenous Jacquere grape, this low alcohol refresher brings to mind crisp Alpine breezes and pure, cool mountain spring water. A gleaming lemon-gold in the glass with green reflections, Ravier’s Apremont presents a lovely bouquet of green pineapple, gooseberries, jasmine blossoms, and flinty minerals. On the palate, the wine follows with crisp, crunchy expressions of green plums, Pippin apple, lemon zest, quinine, and chalky minerals. Enjoy now and over the coming year as an aperitif, or serve with smoked trout, white-fleshed fish dishes in a beurre blanc sauce, oysters, salads, fondue, and cheese plates featuring regional selections.

ITALY - WHITE

2017 Andrea Felici, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marche, Italy (O) 14.99/161.89

Verdicchio, central Italy’s most distinctive and important white varietal, reaches its greatest expression in the mineral-rich soils of the Marche’s Castelli di Jesi zone just a few miles from the Adriatic Sea. Felici’s organic Verdicchio, grown in the denominazione’s tenderloin Classico Superiore subzone, casts a pale green-gold color from the glass followed by explosive aromas of yellow apples, Mirabelle plums, and honeysuckle. Tactile and mineral-driven on the palate, the wine’s orchard fruit expressions marry seamlessly with brisk acidity and delicious impressions of lemon zest, shaved fennel, sweet meadow flowers, and menthol. Long and lingering on the palate, the wine segues to a juicy finish suggesting white grapefruit, ginger, and quinine. Serve this crisp, focused, and spanking great Verdicchio now and over the coming two years with light poultry preparations, freshwater fish, steamed shellfish, white pizzas, fried seafood, and recipes featuring zucchini and seasonal squashes.

2017 Cantina Girlan, Pinot Bianco, Sudtirol, Alto Adige, Italy 13.99/151.09

Vintage 2017 is shaping up to be a warm, full-bodied and welcoming one for northern Italian white wines. Italy’s Alto Adige region sits on the border with Austria, and the intense, mineral-driven Austrian aesthetic is immediately evident in Girlan’s lovely Pinot Bianco. The wine opens with a green-glinted pale lemon gold color. Swirl it to reveal smoky, soil-driven aromas of green apples, orchard blossoms, and meadow flowers. On the palate the wine shows crisp, bracing notes of juicy fresh lemons, green pineapple, pear skin, and fresh bay leaf. Expressions of crushed stones, lemon peel, and crunchy green apples emerge on the snappy and satisfying finish. This is a terrific warm weather selection that will pair nicely with Dover sole, brook trout, grilled zucchini, and other lighter seasonal fare. Drink now or over the next three years.

PORTUGAL - WHITE

2017 Dirk Niepoort, Loureiro, Docil, Vinho Verde, Portugal 16.99/183.49

Dirk Niepoort is the luminary behind Oporto’s venerable Niepoort house. Dócil is Niepoort’s project in Portugal’s Vinho Verde zone. Casting a pale green-gold color, the 2017 Docil opens with aromas of pear skin, lime zest, gardenia blossoms, and juniper. Registering a lithe 11% alcohol, the wine freshens the palate with pear and lime fruit complicated by hints of lemon zest, linden, and fresh ginger. Long, lingering, and both serious and refreshing, the Loureiro finishes with expressions of salty granitic minerals, grapefruit, and freshly chopped lemongrass. Folks, this is a world-class white wine for a pittance. Fans of Chenin, Riesling, Viognier, Albarino and Arneis should take special note and plan to pick up a case of this beauty for enjoyment now and over the coming three years with shellfish, nigiri, sashimi, and light potato and vegetable tapas. It will also pair famously with mildly spiced Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines.


SPAIN - WHITE

2017 Fraga do Corvo, Godello, Monterrei, Galicia, Spain 16.99/183.49

Godello, the hottest white grape in Spain, was almost lost after the ravages of phylloxera. Thanks to its distinctive fruit expressions and its ability to convey the nuances of its site, Godello is many a somm’s go-to Spanish white variety. Fraga do Corvo’s Godello sports a green-tinted lemon-gold color in the glass followed by zesty aromas of star fruit, yellow plums, pear, jasmine, and saline minerals. The wine’s salty mineral backbone propels juicy core of yellow orchard and tropical fruits accented by exotic floral notes. Brisk, long, and saliva-inducing, Fraga do Corvo’s Godello finishes with suggestions of freshly grated ginger, lemongrass, clover honey, and orange blossoms misted with salty sea breeze. Enjoy this distinctive Galician beauty now and over the coming year all by itself or as a complement to seafood and vegetable paellas, broiled halibut, salt cod fritters, raw clams, and grilled prawns.

LINER & ELSEN
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FRIDAY TASTINGS:
First and third Friday of the month
5:30-7:30 p.m. ~Fee~

April 5 - Great Nebbiolos from Barbaresco.

April 19 - A taste of Burgundies from Savigny-les-Beaune: Albert Morot, Chandon de Briailles, Simon Bize. Camus-Bruchon and more!

May 3 - Powerhouse Austrian Gruner Veltliners from Knoll, Pichler, Brundlmayer, Malat and still more!


SATURDAY TASTINGS:
Weekly; 12-4:30 p.m. ~No fee~

April 6 - A taste of beautiful Tuscan wines from Dievole in Chianti, and Podere Brizio in Montalcino. Also, from Iberia: Dirk Niepoort Loureiro Docil, Fraga do Corvo Godello, and Jose Antonio Garcia Tinto Mencia Unculin.

April 13 - Viva La France! Champalou Vouvray, Dom. Camille Paquet Macon-Solutre Clos des Carras, Jean-Francois Merieau Gamay Le Bois Jacou, Camus-Bruchon Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Dom. la Bonneliere Saumur-Champigny Tradition, and Ch. Haut-Bergey.

April 20 - Italian Beauties: Andrea Felici Verdicchio, Cantina Girlan Pinot Bianco, Tenuta San Leonardo Terre di San Leonardo, and Cigliuti Barbera d’Alba Vigna Serraboella. Plus, from Austria: Malat Gruner Veltliner Furth-Palt.

April 27 - The Wine Roads of France: Philippe Ravier Apremont Vin de Savoie, Dom. Sangouard-Guyot Macon-Villages Clos de la Bressande, Thevenet Bourgogne Rouge Les Clos, and Dom. le Couroulu Vacqueyras Cuvee Classique.


SPECIAL EVENT:

A Tasting of Piedmont Wines
from Bruno Giacosa
Thursday, April 18 5:30-7:00

The wines of Bruno Giacosa are among the most sought after in the world. We are very pleased to have Heather Jeter from Folio Fine Wine Partners on hand to guide us through what will be a great tasting of these superlative and iconic wines.

No reservations needed. Tasting fee: $25. The full list of wines to be tasted is on our website.

 

 


B = biodynamic methods; CO = certified organic; O = organic; S = sustainably farmed
 


© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the newsletter date.