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

JANUARY 2019 REVIEWS


RED WINES

OREGON – RED

2016 Twill Cellars, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon (O) 19.99/ 215.89

Chris Dickson, Molly Roby, and Darrel Roby began Twill Cellars to explore Oregon’s unique terroirs. The trio works organically in the vineyard and with minimal intervention in the winery to express the variations of land and vintages through the lens of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Twill’s 2016 Pinot Noir opens with a translucent Bing cherry color and aromas of cranberries, black raspberries, bay leaf, and loamy earth. Rested nearly two years in French oak (15% new), the wine shows the depth and resinous texture afforded by such a leisurely ageing process. Spicy cherries mingle on the palate alongside hints of bitter oranges, dried herbs, fresh rose petals, and savory tannins. Twill’s Pommard-esque Pinot finishes long, spicy, and satisfying, with savory tannins that linger with resinous cherry fruit and loamy earth. This is fantastic sub-$20 Oregon Pinot with uncommon depth, complexity, and weight. Pair now and over the coming six years with heartier fare such as roast chicken, duck, mushroom preparations, and braised short ribs.

FRANCE – RED

2017 Domaine de l’Idylle, Gamay, Savoie, France (S) 13.99/151.09

Gamay, the great grape of Beaujolais, finds a second home and a compellingly unique expression on the steep alpine slopes of Savoie. Here the limestone soils imbue the Gamay with impressive verve, freshness, and unbridled drinkability. The Domaine de l’Idylle’s 2017 Gamay casts a limpid garnet hue from the glass, followed by aromas of pie cherries, red currants, rhubarb, and dark limestone. Fresh and vibrant on the palate, the Gamay is redolent of crunchy red raspberries, sour cherries, orange zest, and rosewater. Energetic and zesty, the Gamay finishes with reprises of crisp red berry fruit suffused with cinnamon-scented potpourri and a brilliant spine of limestone dust. Delicious all by itself, Idylle’s Gamay will make a lovely brunch wine and a natural partner to fondues, light poultry dishes, charcuterie, mushrooms in a cream sauce, and pan-seared pork chops. Enjoy now and over the next two years.

2017 Chateau Falfas, Les Demoiselles de Falfas, Cotes de Bourg, Bordeaux, France (B) 19.99/215.89

The Right Bank appellation of Cotes du Bourg fashions some of Bordeaux’s most delicious, approachable, and affordable expressions of Merlot. Committed to biodynamic principles since 1988 (a rarity in Bordeaux) the Chateau Falfas is situated at the crest of one of the appellation’s finest vineyard sites. Crafted to be enjoyed in its youth, Falfas’s Demoiselles cuvee is a young vine blend of Merlot (75%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. A beautiful saturated young claret color, Falfas’s Demoiselles opens with deeply pitched aromas of cassis, black raspberries, and gravelly soil. Silky and sumptuous and on the palate, the Demoiselles conveys soil-driven expressions of plum and cassis fruit. Fine tannins and classic Right Bank hints of earth, mushrooms, and violets emerge on the delicious, satisfying finish. This pure, unadorned, unpretentious, and remarkably versatile Right Bank Bordeaux is ready for your table tonight with everyday classics like burgers, steaks, mac ’n’ cheese, braised lentils, and grilled Portobello mushrooms. Enjoy now and over the next three years.

2016 Domaine Andre Berthet-Rayne, Cairanne, Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages, Tradition, Southern Rhone Valley, France (O) 15.99/172.69

Berthet-Rayne is fashioning lush, full-throttle Cairannes that combine old-school character with modern accessibility. Crafted primarily from old-vine Grenache with dollops of Syrah and Carignan, the domaine’s 2016 Cairanne Tradition opens with an opaque black-plum color and heady aromas of black raspberries, game, black pepper, lavender, and clove. Spicy on the attack, the wine blossoms on the palate to reveal a deep core of bitter cherry and crunchy red currant fruit accented by notes of bay leaf, dried herbs, leather, and cinnamon stick. On the finish, the wine’s fruit expression meshes with plentiful ripe, framing tannins and a persistent undercurrent of smoky terroir. At this price, Berthet-Rayne’s delicious and thoroughly satisfying Cairanne is a wine to buy by the case to enjoy now and over the coming five years with roast lamb, grilled burgers, ratatouille, and just about anything that calls for a hearty, soulful red wine.

2017 Chateau Massiac, Sentinelle de Massiac, Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (CO) 11.99/129.49

In the center of Minervois, Bernard Boudouresques fashions his bold, full-throttle Sentinelle cuvee from a blend of Syrah (65%) and Carignan. The result is sensational! A deep plum-ruby color in the glass leads to heady aromas of boysenberries, black pepper, dried herbs, juniper, leather, and spicy cinnamon. Lush and generous in the mouth, the Sentinelle follows with pepper-infused plum and black cherry fruit backed by hints of tar, garrigue, and juniper. Despite the intensity of flavors on the palate, the wine finishes deft, balanced, and harmonious, with savory tannins accenting lingering notes of licorice, cinnamon, herbal garrigue, and sweet orange peel. This is a terrific go-to cool weather wine to enjoy now and over the coming two years with grilled lamb chops, braised game, ratatouille, and grilled bread slathered with garlicky tapenade.

ITALY – RED

2017 Monte Tondo, Corvina, Veneto IGT, Italy 10.99/118.69

To create the classic Valpolicella cuvee, the Veneto’s noble Corvina is typically blended with other varietals such as Molinara and Rondinella. Monte Tondo’s Veneto IGT is the extraordinarily rare 100% Corvina wine crafted from vines that could boast the more recognized Valpolicella label. A transparent pomegranate hue in the glass, Monte Tondo’s Corvina is redolent of pie cherries, rhubarb, orange peel, and dried rose petals. Brisk and bracing on the attack, the wine gains flesh and grip mid-palate to convey lovely suggestions of ruby red grapefruit, mint, and white pepper wrapped around a bright, vibrant core of sour cherry fruit. Bitter herbs and fine tannins join the wine’s chewy fruit to make this a most versatile and table-ready red wine. Pair this over the coming two years with just about everything but fish.

2016 Fattoria Selvapiana, Chianti, Rufina, Tuscany (O) 16.99/183.49

Fattoria Selvapiana is the beacon of all that’s distinctive and compelling about Chianti’s great northeastern Rufina zone. Elegant, airy, and fresh, Selvapiana’s 2016 Chianti Rufina bursts from the glass with a translucent garnet robe followed by classic Rufina aromas of smoky cherries, fresh rose petals, aged leather, tamari, and calcareous earth. Ample and graceful on the palate, the wine frames its laser-focused kernel of Morello cherry fruit with plentiful fine, chewy tannins and juicy acidity. Notes of sweet tobacco, red miso, star anise, blood orange, and cloves join persistent, food-friendly tannins and resurgent waves of smoky minerality on the long, balanced, stylish finish. This is undoubtedly the finest and most complete sub-$20 bottle of Chianti on the market: buy it by the case to enjoy now and over the coming decade with burgers and steaks, Tuscan bean stews, rosemary-scented roast lamb, and hearty eggplant casseroles. 2016 is gonna be a phenomenal Tuscan vintage!

2016 Piero Benevelli, Langhe, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy (S) 15.99/172.69

Piero Benevelli and his son Massimo farm 21 acres in Barolo’s hallowed Monforte d’Alba zone. Unlike Benevelli’s long-lived Barolo cru Ravera, their Langhe Nebbiolo is crafted specifically to be affordable and enjoyable young. A brilliant purple-garnet, Benevelli’s Langhe Nebbiolo fills the glass with fresh aromas of rose petals, Bing cherries, tobacco, and limestone dust. Vibrant and energetic on the palate, the wine offers a lip-smackingly delicious core of energetic cherry fruit backed by traditional Nebbiolo tannins and juicy acidity. Hints of licorice, tobacco, and wood spice emerge as the wine transitions to its long, resinous finish. This is the perfect Nebbiolo to enjoy while we wait for our great Barolos and Barbarescos to mature. Pair now and over the coming three years with hearty Piemontese fare like tajarìn, risotto and osso buco, or as a versatile foil for pizza, and burgers. A steal!
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: 90 points

2015 Conte Loredan Gasparini, Venegazzu, Rosso della Casa, Montello, Colli Asolani, Veneto, Italy 22.99/248.29

North of Venice in the Treviso hills, the classic Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec – have been planted since the 1950s to fashion Bordeaux-style red wines of unusual complexity and value. An opaque young claret color, Gasparini’s Rosso della Casa opens with Medoc-like aromas of cassis, tobacco, and herbs. Deep, rich, and sumptuous on the palate, the Rosso della Casa balances tangy acidity and fine, food-friendly tannins with a dense core of black cherry, plum, and black currant fruit. Delicious notes of licorice, pipe tobacco, morel mushrooms, and funky oil-cured black olives emerge on the long finish. Aged eighteen months in large neutral oak barrels, the wine’s delicious core of black fruits takes center stage while its latent structure ensures several years of positive evolution in your cellar. This is an elegant, traditional, and distinctive interpretation of a classic Left Bank Bordeaux, and its exhilarating lack of obvious oak influences makes the wine especially suitable for hearty braises, roasted and grilled meats, and rich casseroles featuring eggplant and chard.

SPAIN – RED

2010 Vina Olabarri, Rioja Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 19.99/215.89  reg 26.99

At the pinnacle of Rioja’s wine hierarchy is the esteemed Gran Reserva, a wine that has spent a minimum of two years in oak barrels and an additional three years in bottle before release. The complexity that this leisurely and expensive aging period affords its wines is immense, as exemplified by this eight-year old Rioja Gran Reserva from Vina Olabarri. Opaque black plum in the glass, Olabarri’s 2010 Gran Reserva casts tobacco and cedar- infused aromas of black Italian plums, cured meat, and mint. Deepened and made complex by its long barrel aging, Olabarri’s classic Rioja fusion of Tempranillo (80%) and a blend of Graciano and Mazuelo saturates the palate with zesty black currant and black cherry fruit backed by plentiful fine-grained tannins and classic, lifting Tempranillo acidity. Hints of camphor, cigar tobacco, pencil lead, leather, coconut husk, game, and vanilla bean creep in on the wine’s long, structured finish. This is classic, old-school Rioja Gran Reserva that can be enjoyed now with hearty roasts of beef and grilled lamb, or, ideally, stashed away in a cool cellar for another decade or two to allow all its structural components to meld together. Twenty-five cases available at sale price.


WHITE WINES

OREGON - WHITE

2016 Twill Cellars, Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, Oregon (O) 19.99/215.89

As impressive as Twill’s Pinot Noir is, their Chardonnay is even more exciting. Casting a gorgeous lemon-gold in the glass, The 2016 Chardonnay bursts from the glass with classic Willamette Valley Chardonnay aromas of buttered hazelnuts, lemon curd, toasted brioche, and a hint of smoky oak. Sensationally balanced on the palate, the wine layers the palate with waves of lemony fruit, salty soil, creamy lemon curd, and freshly grated coconut. The tension between the wine’s crisp, citrus fruit expressions and its generous palate texture makes for one of the most exciting Chardonnays of the vintage. This wine delivers far more than its price tag. Enjoy now and over the coming five years with broiled salmon, roast chicken, freshwater fishes in a beurre blanc sauce, sauteed vegetables, and gratin dauphinois. Terrific Willamette Valley Chardonnay! Limited: only fifteen cases.

AUSTRIA – WHITE

2017 Weingut Barbara Ohlzelt, Gruner Veltliner, Gruner Leader, Kamptal, Austria (1-liter) (S) 14.99/161.89

Barbara Ohlzelt started her winery in 2004 with a vision to develop Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) that convey true regional character using a single vineyard philosophy. Ohlzelt’s entry-level Gruner Veltliner is a classic example of this versatile grape variety. A pale green-gold color leads to notes of snap peas, white pepper, salty cucumbers, and Key limes. Fresh and zippy with plenty of preserved CO2, the wine invigorates the palate with its delicious herbal and earthy lentil notes propelled by a generous core of zesty lemon and lime fruit. Simply delicious, this is the perfect one-liter party bottle, and the ideal wine to accompany green vegetables, light poultry preparations, sushi, sashimi, and white flesh fishes.

FRANCE – WHITE

2017 Eugene Carrel et Fils, Vin de Savoie-Jongieux, Savoie, France 10.99/118.69

A frequent feature in these pages, Eugene Carrel’s gorgeous 2017 Jongieux opens with a brilliant pale lemon-gold color and refreshing scents of lemon zest, green pears, chamomile, and limestone minerals. Clean, fresh, and bristling with crisp citrus fruit, Carrel’s Jongieux offers thrillingly pure suggestions of lemon juice, green plums, gooseberries, and sweet meadow flowers. The wine finishes with reprises of citrus and tart orchard stone fruits while leaving that special tactile dusting of saline minerals on the lips and inner cheeks. This is sensational Jongiuex, and at a delightfully low 11.5% alcohol it is versatile enough for weekend brunches, lighter dinners, and as an after-work refresher. Enjoy now and over the next year with poached fish preparations, green vegetables, and any time the call is for a light, refreshing, mineral-driven white wine.

2017 Emile Balland, Sauvignon, En Attendant les Beaux Jours, Vin de France (Loire Valley) (S) 12.50/135.00

Hailing from a long line of Sancerre vignerons dating back to 1650, the young and talented Emile Balland started his own domaine in 1999. Situated in the Coteaux du Giennois in the eastern Loire Valley, Balland’s Sauvignon Blanc casts flint-infused aromas of Mirabelle plums, fresh grass, basil, and jalapeno peppers. Fresh and mineral-driven in the mouth, the En Attendant shows deep mineral undercurrents buoying crisp impressions of lime, lemon, gooseberries, passion7 fruit, and greengage plums. Impressions of freshly cut basil, chervil, and savory join with juicy citrus and tropical fruits on the long, zesty finish. Impeccably balanced and oh-so-drinkable, this beauty will pair now and over the coming two years with sauteed green vegetables, fresh oysters, clams, mussels, freshwater fishes with a beurre blanc sauce, and as a revivifying aperitif after a hard day’s work.

2017 Vins Auvigue, Macon-Fuisse, Le Moulin du Pont, Burgundy, France 15.99/172.69

2017 is shaping up to be a lovely vintage in the Maconnais, as evidenced by this elegant offering from Vins Auvigue. Opening with a bright lemon-gold hue, Vins Auvigue’s Macon-Fuisse conveys a soil-inflected Burgundian nose of lemon zest underpinned by Burgundy’s inimitable limestone goût de terroir. On the palate, the wine presents a lively, smoky mineral current overlaid by layers of lemon, Bartlett pear and Golden Delicious apple fruit. Suggestions of smoke, crushed oyster shells, iodine, and buttery brioche provide additional complexity on the wine’s elegant finish. Dedicated fans of affordable, terroir-expressive white Burgundy will delight in this wine, which we suggest serving now or over the next five years with salmon, halibut, roast chicken, and light pork preparations.

ITALY – WHITE

2017 Ronco Blanchis, Pinot Grigio, Collio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy 13.99/151.09

This is a gorgeous, textbook example of Pinot Grigio – the style that made the grape so famous – as can only be created in most hallowed zones of northeastern Italy. This special terroir includes sunny, high-altitude slopes with gray and yellow marl and clay soils that are sheltered by the nearby Alps to allow for long ripening and insistent minerality. Ronco Blanchis’ Pinot Grigio casts a brilliant pale lemon-gold hue followed by aromas of Bartlett pear, yellow apples, lemon curd, raw cashews, and limestone minerals. Brisk on the attack with juicy acidity and a riveting mineral undercurrent, the wine blossoms on the palate to reveal notes of yellow plums, toasted hazelnuts, menthol, and herbs. Juicy and brisk with abundant citric acidity, the wine shows the zesty, food-friendly nature of the Pinot Grigio grape lifted and amplified by the insistent minerality of the vineyards’ soils. Enjoy now and over the coming two years with salmon, golden trout, medium chevres, vegetable omelets, and angel hair pasta dressed with lemon-cream sauce and plenty of fresh Dungeness crabmeat.

2015 Bucci, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marches, Italy 17.99/194.29

Verdicchio, central Italy’s most distinctive and important white varietal, reaches its greatest expression in the mineral-rich soils of the Marches’ Castelli di Jesi zone just a few miles from the Adriatic Sea. Bucci’s Verdicchio casts a limpid gold color from the glass followed by explosive aromas of yellow flowers, smoky minerals, Golden Delicious apples, and Mirabelle plums. Full-bodied and rich on the palate, the wine’s fleshy fruit expression is complemented by a saline tactile grip and impressions of almond paste, shaved fennel, quinine, and smoky minerals. Long and lingering on the palate, the wine segues to a gripping and impressively complex finish suggesting apricot, jasmine blossoms, and genmaicha tea. This is a delicious and unusually expressive Verdicchio; it should be paired now and over the coming three to five years with hearty fare like swordfish, fresh albacore tuna, rabbit, duck, zucchini casseroles, potato dishes, and pastas in cream sauce.

SPAIN – WHITE

2017 Bodegas Muga, Rioja Blanco, Rioja, Spain 18.99/205.09

Perhaps the most distinctive wine of Bodegas Muga is its resinous, barrel-aged Blanco, that fuses Viura (90%) with a blend of Malvasia and Garnacha Blanco, all fermented and aged in oak. Like other great Rioja blancos, the Viura effortlessly absorbs the wood and seamlessly integrates its flavors into the wine. The waxy, honeycomb nuances of the Viura are accented by the exotic, floral notes of the wine’s nominal, but aromatically significant Malvasia component. The wine’s barrel fermentation and aging impart additional texture, grip, and delicious vanilla, smoke, and spice accents. Enjoyable now, this wine is poised for another decade of ageing and improvement. Perfect for Manchego cheese, tapas, paellas, braised pork and potato dishes, the 2017 Bodegas Muga Blanco is a wonder for food versatility, and one of our very favorite Spanish wines.


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

Jan 4 - Let’s kick off the year with the new Brunellos di Montalcino: Costanti, Col d’Orcia, Caprili, L’Aietta, Argiano, and more.

Jan. 18 - Great Chenin Blanc from Vouvray: Chidaine, Huet, Forges, Closel, and more.

Feb. 1 - Mark the date to taste brilliant wines from Bordeaux.


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

Jan. 5 - From France: Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie-Jongieux, Vins Auvigue Macon-Fuisse Le Moulin du Pont, Dom. de l’Idylle Gamay, Dom. Andre Berthet-Rayne Cairanne, and Ch. Falfas Les Demoiselles de Falfas.

Jan. 12 - From Italy: Bucci Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Monte Tondo Corvina, Piero Benevelli Langhe Nebbiolo, and Selvapiana Chianti.

Jan. 19 - Two from Oregon: Twill Chardonnay Willamette Valley, and Twill Pinot Noir Willamette Valley. Plus from France: Emile Balland Sauvignon En Attendant les Beaux Jours, and Ch. Massiac Sentinelle de Massiac.

Jan. 26 - European Selections: Weingut Barbara Ohlzelt Gruner Leader (Austria); Bodegas Muga Rioja Blanco and Rioja Vina Olabarri Gran Reserva Rioja (Spain); Ronco Blanchis Pinot Grigio and Gasparini Venegazzu Rosso della Casa (Italy).


SPECIAL EVENT:

Burgundy Tasting with Winemaker Anne Parent and Importer Jeanne Marie de Champs

Thurs. Jan. 31, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Please join us for an informal tasting of Burgundies from Domaine Parent, featuring winemaker Anne Parent. We will also taste selections from importer Jeanne Marie de Champs’ portfolio, which includes Paul Pernot, Rapet, Morot, and more.

No reservations needed; tasting fee: $20

 

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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.