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

JANUARY 2020 REVIEWS

 

RED WINES

OREGON - RED

2017 Goodfellow Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon (S) 19.99/215.89

Here’s a marvelous sub-$20 Willamette Valley Pinot! After a series of warm vintages, 2017 brought a return to the deft, sleek, lively Willamette Valley Pinots that we adore. There’s no one more skilled in bringing out the grace and harmony of these qualities than the ultra-talented Marcus Goodfellow. Casting a classic, transparent crimson-garnet robe, Goodfellow’s 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot presents gorgeous aromas of bitter cherries, cranberries, geranium, wood spice, and camphor. Fresh, zesty, and incisive, the wine stains the palate with a kernel of tart cherry, pomegranate, and red raspberry fruit framed by lip-smacking tannins and complex notes of cloves, white pepper, and star anise. Savory, brisk, and appetizing, this tangy, red-fruited Pinot demands food and will pair effortlessly now and over the coming five years with broiled salmon, roast chicken, gratin dauphinois, and sauteed mushrooms.

2016 RoseRock Drouhin Oregon, Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon (S) 29.99/323.89

Don’t miss this brilliant Pinot from the great Drouhin family’s exciting new Oregon wine venture. Located at the southern tip of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, the RoseRock estate boasts ancient volcanic soils, cool temperatures, and an ideal elevation range for the cultivation of Burgundian varietals. RoseRock’s 2016 Pinot Noir beautifully expresses Drouhin’s special suave texture and sense of elegance that we so love and admire. The wine opens with scents of ripe raspberries, cassis, violets, and smoky volcanic soil. On the palate, the 2016 RoseRock Pinot Noir conveys a silky texture, waves of loganberry fruit, and complex notes of rhubarb, white pepper, sweet tobacco, and cinnamon-tinged potpourri. Freshening acidity and savory tannins fuse seamlessly with the energetic core of red berry fruits on the lingering finish. Serve this beauty now or over the next seven years with roast chicken, duck, grilled flatiron steak, or earthy morels in a cream sauce.
Josh Raynolds, Vinous: 91 points

FRANCE – RED

2017 Domaine Guion, Bourgueil, Cuvee Domaine, Loire Valley, France (O) 17.99/194.29

Stephane Guion is one of the leading lights of the natural wine movement in the central Loire Valley. Guion’s Bourgueils show incredible purity (and drinkability!) at remarkably affordable prices. Guion’s Cuvee Domaine hails from younger Cabernet Franc vines grown on limestone and clay soils in Bourgueil’s hallowed village of Benais. A deep plum-ruby color in the glass yields to bright, spicy aromas of black currants and black raspberries infused with earthy limestone minerals. Lively and chalky on the palate, the wine augments its lovely black-fruited core with hints of licorice, limestone, violets, blond leather, and tobacco. Aromatic herbs and fine, well-buffered tannins segue the wine to its long, limestone-driven finish. Fresh, delicious, organic, and bursting with character, this is a terrific value-play in authentic, natural, low-sulfur red wine. Enjoy it now and over the coming seven years with pates and terrines, eggplant dishes, chevres, mild sausages, flatiron steaks, burgers, and braises featuring rabbit or pork.

2018 Domaine des Carabiniers, Pays d’Oc IGP, Syrah, Moon Apoge, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (B) 13.99/151.09

The Biodynamic Family Vineyard, a certified organic and biodynamic estate, produces natural wines that reflect their terroirs while focusing on maximal care for the environment and minimal intervention in the cellar. The Moon Apoge Syrah, harvested at night to retain acidity and preserve freshness, opens with a deep, transparent ruby hue and pure aromas of dark cherries, tar, leather, licorice, and dried herbs. Fresh and inviting on the palate, this is Syrah at its most appealing, showing all of Syrah’s plum and leather notes. Brambly blackberry notes infused with Provençal garrigue appear on the back-palate and segue the wine to its lip-smackingly delicious finish. The beauty of the Moon Apoge Syrah is that it conveys the life and energy of the greatest natural wines with none of the rusticity or off notes that mar so many in the genre. Enjoy now and over the coming two years with grilled or roast lamb, ratatouille, stews, burgers, and anything that calls for a warm, hearty red wine.

2017 Domaine Burle, Vacqueyras, La Muse, Southern Rhone Valley, France (S) 18.99/205.09

Florent and Damien Burle’s superb Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Cotes-du-Rhone cuvees are perennial favorites in these pages. Burle’s 2017 Vacqueyras – a blend of Grenache (75%) and Syrah – reflects an opaque black-plum color followed by a bouquet of plum skin, licorice, black olive paste, cured meats, black pepper, and garrigue. The wine then stains the palate with deep, soulful expressions of boysenberries, licorice, and black cherries framed by cheek-dusting tannins and savory notes of menthol, peppercorns, lavender, and allspice. Chewy black cherry fruit, black licorice, and star anise notes mark the wine’s long, energetic finish. As with entire range of wines from the Burle portfolio, their 2017 Vacqueyras La Muse is traditionally crafted, old-school, and an incredible value. In fact, we nominate this as Burle’s finest Vacqueyras yet, and a terrific choice to partner now or over the coming decade with roast leg of lamb, ratatouille, and recipes favoring rosemary and fresh garlic.

2016 Domaine la Madura, Saint-Chinian, Classic, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (O) 16.99/183.49

Domaine la Madura, located in one of the Haut Languedoc’s premier appellations, is farmed with the utmost respect for its soils, vines, and ecosystem. The estate’s Classic cuvee (a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah) casts floral-accented aromas of black cherries, raspberries and black licorice. Restrained and graceful on the palate, the wine presents a finessed – dare we say Burgundian – kernel of tangy cassis and Morello cherry fruit complemented by hints of herbal garrigue, black pepper, bay leaf, leather, lavender, and violets. Wonderfully vibrant, the wine finishes long, restrained, serious, and graceful with fine, buffered tannins joining complex suggestions of tobacco, sassafras, leather, and dried herbs. The sweetness of southern fruit combined with Burgundian elegance makes La Madura’s Classic a superb choice for stews, grilled lamb chops, pork, hearty eggplant dishes, and burgers. Enjoy now and over the coming five years.

2015 Joseph Drouhin, Chorey-les-Beaune, Burgundy, France (B) 26.99/291.49

Chorey-les-Beaune, lacking a premier cru and situated on the wrong side of the tracks, is often overlooked by even the most astute Burgundy lovers. Every year, the great Maison Joseph Drouhin produces a superb, affordable, soil-driven Chorey from the domaine’s own biodynamically farmed vineyards. Showing a gorgeous, deep ruby color, Drouhin’s 2015 Chorey casts fresh, vibrant aromas of violets, black raspberries, and aniseed. On the palate, Drouhin’s Chorey conveys a fruit-saturated texture and palate-staining intensity. Complex suggestions of licorice, smoke, and kirsch segue to a long and delicate finish lifted by savory, food-friendly tannins and buoying acidity. Enjoy this special Cote d’Or value now and over the coming decade with roast chicken, grilled salmon, seared duck breast, and rich mushroom ragouts. Very limited: only twelve cases available.

ITALY – RED

2018 Tedeschi, Valpolicella Classico, Lucchine, Veneto, Italy 13.99/151.09

Don’t miss this vibrant, soil-driven, deliciously drinkable Valpolicella! In the heart of the historic Valpolicella zone, the family-run Tedeschi estate blends Veneto’s finest indigenous red varietals to craft this masterpiece of a Valpolicella. A transparent ruby color in the bowl, Tedeschi’s Lucchine explodes with aromas of black cherries, red currants, bitter herbs, and orange pekoe tea. Transparent and balanced on the palate, the wine expresses lively cherry, currant, and pomegranate fruit alongside fine tannins and suggestions of bitter orange peel, bergamot, rose petals, and perfumed soil. Spicy and vibrant on the finish, the Lucchine leaves the palate with lingering suggestions of blond tobacco, tangy red currants, smoky herbs, Belgian chocolate, and dusty limestone. Enjoy now or over the coming four years with pork braises, salumi, pates, hard sheep’s-milk cheeses, egg-rich pasta dishes, roasted poultry, and game birds.

2017 Giovanni Viberti, Barbera d’Alba, La Gemella, Piedmont, Italy 15.99/172.69

Renowned for their single-vineyard Barolos, the Viberti domaine boasts a full portfolio of classic Piemontese wines. Viberti’s Barbera d’Alba “La Gemella” (the twin) refers to Maria Viberti, the matriarch of the domaine, a twin herself and an unabashed fan of the Barbera grape. Casting a deep translucent black-ruby robe, Viberti’s La Gemella fills the glass with warm aromas of blueberries, black plums, licorice, violets, and untanned leather. Juxtaposing warm fleshy plum and cherry fruit with firm acidity and a fine tannic backbone, the wine layers the palate with waves of blueberry and black cherry fruit infused with floral impressions of violets, lavender, and rose petals. Classic Barbera notes of tar, mushrooms, and bay leaf segue the wine to its long, warm, and generous finish. Pair now and over the coming five years with grilled hanger steak, pizza, egg-rich pastas with a meaty ragù, fritto misto, carne cruda, and eggplant lasagna. Exceptional Barbera!

2013 Fantinel, Tenuta Sant’Helena, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Trevenezie IGT, Venezia-Giulia, Italy 19.99/215.89

Refosco is a dark-skinned grape native to northeastern Italy and neighboring Slovenia and Croatia. The “peduncolo rosso” designation refers to the grape’s red stems and is widely acclaimed to be the finest clone in the Refosco family. With gentle vinification, the Refosco’s naturally tannic profile can be tamed to reveal a wine of character and food-friendliness with just a touch of wild gaminess that still allows the Refosco to assert its uniqueness. Translucent black-ruby in the glass, Fantinel’s Refosco announces itself with one swirl, revealing aromas of cinnamon, game, huckleberries, and leather. The wine stains the palate with delicious black cherry and elderberry fruit accented by notes of star anise, cured meat, licorice, and earthy mushrooms. Long and lingering on the finish, the wine adds hints of menthol, tar and a delicious touch of the good ol’ funk. At six years old, the wine’s rustic edges have been perfectly polished without sacrificing its expressive character. Buy this one by the case for enjoyment now and over the coming seven years with mushroom dishes, hearty stews, braised lamb shanks, rich bean casseroles, and pastas tossed with a long-simmered ragu.

2015 Eraldo Borgogno, Barolo Vignane, Piedmont, Italy 41.99/453.49

This is exhilarating Barolo from a tiny and rare cru that deserves its exalted reputation. Rated “outstanding” by Antonio Galloni, the Vignane cru is superbly situated between Cannubi and Bussia in the heart of the traditional Barolo zone. Wines from the Vignane cru are renowned for their purity of fruit, expressive aromatics and soft tannins. Eraldo Borgogno’s Vignane reflects a transparent garnet hue gradating to a gorgeous amber rim. Immediately expressive, the wine radiates aromas of licorice, dried rose petals, wild cherries, and red currants. Fresh and invigorating, the wine stains the palate with cherry and loganberry fruit accented by complex undertones of sassafras, cedar, shiitake mushrooms, and clay. Fine, framing tannins usher the Vignane to a long, classic Barolo finish of menthol, licorice, brown spices, white pepper, and mushroomy underbrush. Pair this beauty now and over the coming two decades with traditional Piemontese cuisine such as risotto con funghi, tajarin topped with a hearty ragu and shaved truffles, or slow-braised oxtail. Only 400 cases produced…for the world! Very limited.

SPAIN – RED

2017 Raul Perez, Ultreia, Mencia, St. Jacques, Bierzo, Spain 18.99/205.09

Many consider the vivacious Raul Perez to be one of Spain’s – if not the world’s – finest winemakers. The word “Ultreia” is a form of encouragement for the many pilgrims that have passed by this vineyard since the 3rd century en route to Santiago de Compostela. A translucent ruby color in the bowl, Perez’s St. Jacques conveys the fresh, vibrant side of the Mencia grape with vivid raspberry and wild cherry expressions accented by notes of game, herbs, wintergreen, and leather. Zippy and energetic on the attack, the St. Jacques stains the palate with deep impressions of black raspberries, Bing cherries, violets, and smoky minerals. Brisk acidity and fine tannins buoy the wine’s chewy core of red and black fruits and segue it to a long finish that adds suggestions of cedar, mint, and cocoa. Delicious now, the wine will prove a huge hit with grilled steaks and burgers, baby back ribs, bean tapas, salumi, braised rabbit, and hearty stews.
Luis Gutierrez, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 93 points


WHITE WINES

AUSTRIA – WHITE

2017 Arndorfer, Gruner Veltliner, Strasser Weinberge, Niederosterreich, Austria (S) 17.99/194.29

Martin and Anna Arndorfer both hail from long winemaking heritages in the Kamptal region of Lower Austria. Inheriting the families’ superb vineyard sites and leveraging winemaking experience gained abroad, the couple is rapidly becoming superstars in the Austrian winemaking scene. The fruit for this wine is selected from three of Martin’s finest vineyards in the village. A lovely gold color in the glass, the Arndorfers’ Gruner Veltliner explodes with scents of yellow plum and papaya infused with salty loess minerals and suggestions of hops. Floral accents of honeysuckle and orchard blossoms join rich expressions of yellow melon, Comice pear, and vanilla bean on the wine’s generous palate. Classic Gruner notes of lentils, green beans, and white pepper appear on the back-palate and segue the wine to its long, mineral-driven finish. Enjoy this delicious and impressively full bodied Gruner now or over the coming two years with sauteed green vegetables, grilled zucchini, braised pork, antipasti, and roasted chicken.

ITALY – WHITE

2018 Dianetti, Offida, Pecorino, Vignagiulia, Marche, Italy 15.99/172.69

In the Marche region of central Italy, the Dianetti family’s vineyards are planted on wild hillsides in an amphitheater not far from the Adriatic Sea. The harmony of their wines is due to the extreme day-to-night temperature variations arising from the sea breezes from the Adriatic. Benefitting from this superb locale, Dianetti’s impeccably balanced Offida Pecorino reflects a light straw-gold hue followed by refreshing aromas of grapefruit, pear, fennel, and sage. Brisk and invigorating on the palate, Dianetti’s Pecorino parlays its riveting acidity to buoy a kernel of green plum and lemon accented by a persistent undercurrent of saline minerals. Reprises of lemon, salty calcareous minerals, rubbed sage, and fresh peat linger on the wine’s long finish. Enjoy this brilliant Pecorino now and over the coming two years with pasta sauced with white seafood pasta dishes, spaghetti alla carbonara, broiled swordfish, fluke crudo, seafood stews, sauteed zucchini, and anything topped liberally with good Pecorino Romano cheese.

2017 Casale Falchini, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Ab Vinea Doni, Tuscany, Italy 18.99/205.09

Falchini’s Ab Vinea Doni is as serious as Vernaccia gets, and it’s a knockout in the lovely 2017 vintage. The Ab Vinea Doni (“gifts from the vineyard”) is the estate’s flagship white and one of the DOCG’s greatest wines. Produced from Vernaccia with a small dollop of Chardonnay, the Ab Vinea Doni is fermented and aged in small barriques, which give the wine superb structure and the ability to age gracefully. A vibrant lemon-gold color, the wine casts aromas of Mirabelle plums, yellow melon, heather, beeswax, and smoky, dissolved limestone minerals. Vinous and incisive on the palate, the wine layers impressions of smoky limestone minerality, acacia, juicy melon, and yellow apple fruit and complex barrel notes of resin and sandalwood. The wine finishes with a savory limestone expression that lifts and brightens the wine’s kernel of sappy yellow fruits. Pair it now and over the coming five years with hearty food such as mature cheeses, roast chicken, rabbit, duck, veal, pork, and eggplant lasagna.

2018 Cantina Andriano, Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy 15.99/172.69

This is a brilliant Pinot Grigio in the inimitable, refreshing Northeastern Italian motif. In 1893, the vintners of Andriano combined their skills and energies to form the first cooperative of winemakers in the Sudtirol. Their 125-year-long dedication is reflected in this superb 2018 Pinot Grigio grown on limestone and dolomite soils at up to 1,250 feet above sea level. A gleaming lemon-gold in the glass, Andriano’s Pinot Grigio is brisk and mineral-driven, fusing juicy citrus and orchard fruit with crunchy suggestions of shaved fennel. Long, lingering, and soul satisfying, the wine finishes with a core of juicy yellow apple, fleshy Bartlett pear, honeydew melon, complicated by fresh herbs and limestone minerality. A steal for its tariff, be sure to pair this lovely Pinot Grigio now or over the next two years with Dover sole, brook trout, quiches, mild cheeses, and vegetable frittatas.
James Suckling: 93 points

FRANCE - WHITE

2018 Andre Dezat & Fils, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 21.99/237.49

We are unabashed devotees of Dezat’s wines and are thrilled to present their gorgeous Sancerre for the eighth consecutive vintage. Dezat’s classically styled 2018 Sancerre casts a pale, green-tinged gold color in the glass followed by aromas of grapefruit pith, green plums, lime juice, Serrano peppers, Thai basil and dusty, chalky minerals. On the palate, the wine presents a kaleidoscope of juicy citrus fruit, white pepper, and herbal notes of nettles, freshly cut grass, and menthol – all lifted by bristling acidity and etched by an undercurrent of chalky minerality. This is a superb, elegant, authentic Sancerre to buy by the case and enjoy now and over the coming three years with fresh chevres, poached freshwater fish dishes, oysters, clams, mussels, vegetable risottos, white pastas, and as a top-shelf reward for a hard day’s work.

2017 Joseph Drouhin, Saint-Veran, Burgundy, France 15.99/172.69

In the gorgeous, generous, and critically acclaimed 2017 vintage, Drouhin has fashioned another immediately enjoyable, soil-driven white Burgundy from this under-heralded region wedged between Pouilly-Fuisse and Beaujolais. Drouhin’s 2017 Saint-Veran sports a lovely lemon-gold color in the glass followed by aromas of sweet cream butter, honeysuckle, apple blossoms, and salty limestone minerals. On the palate, Drouhin’s savory Saint-Veran is packed with delicious suggestions of raw hazelnuts, buttery lemon curd, and white flowers. Lilting acidity and a vibrant undercurrent of saline oyster shell minerality mark the wine’s long lip-smacking finish. Enjoy this lovely, authentic, reasonably-priced white Burgundy now and over the coming three years with salmon, pork, roast chicken, duck, boudin blanc, and light pork dishes.

2018 Chateau du Petit Thouars, Chinon Blanc, Le Clos, Loire Valley, France 19.99/215.89

The combination of great terroir and impeccable winemaking yields one of the most thrilling Chinon blancs in memory. A lovely pale gold color, Petit Thouars’ 2018 Chinon Blanc, sourced from a walled vineyard near Saumur-Champigny, casts aromas of muskmelon, yellow pear, butter, and white tea. Generous on the palate, the wine’s yellow apple fruit core yields to reveal nuances of malt, saline minerals, and resinous barrel undertones. Bristling acidity enters as the wine transitions to its long finish, where it propels notes of blond tobacco, quince, and lemongrass. Chinon Blanc accounts for less than three percent of the appellation’s production, so be sure to stock up on this rare and well-priced beauty to enjoy now or over the next three years with firm goat cheeses, roast chicken, mild pork preparations, creamed spinach, quiches, and savory tarts.

PORTUGAL – WHITE

2018 Anselmo Mendes, Alvarinho Contacto, Vinho Verde, Portugal 18.99/205.09

Anselmo Mendes is one of the most esteemed producers in Portugal’s Vinho Verde zone, and his Alvarinho is undoubtedly among Iberia’s greatest and most distinctive white wines. The 2018 Alvarinho Contacto is given extended skin contact to coax greater depth, character, and intensity from the usually delicate Vinho Verde. Dazzlingly aromatic, the wine greets the palate with a riveting kernel of pineapple, yellow plum, and tangerine fruit complicated by overtones of cinnamon, ginger, and menthol. Electric acidity and a deep granitic mineral undercurrent drive the wine’s brilliant yellow-fruited core and segue it to a long, zesty, citrus- and pineapple-driven finish. Pair it now and over the coming two years with seafood and vegetable paellas, vegetable and seafood tapas, sushi and sashimi, and seafood pastas.

LINER & ELSEN
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STORE HOURS:
Mon.-Sat. 10am-6pm

** HOLIDAY CLOSURE **
Winter break: Jan. 1 - 5

Free on-site parking
while you shop

 

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

Jan. 3 - Closed for Winter Break: We reopen on Monday, Jan. 6.

Jan 17 - Great wines from Hungary

Feb. 7 - Those hip new wines coming from the Canary Islands? Check 'em out!

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

Jan. 4 - Closed for Winter Break: We reopen on Monday, Jan. 6.

Jan. 11 - Oregon goodness! Goodfellow Pinot Noir, and RoseRock Drouhin Pinot Noir. Plus, from France: Andre Dezat Sancerre, Joseph Drouhin St.-Veran, Dom. Guion Bourgueil, Dom. la Madura St.-Chinian, and Burle Vacqueyras La Muse.

Jan. 18 - Italian Beauties: Dianetti Pecorino, Andriano Pinot Grigio, Falchini Vernaccia di San Gimignano Ab Vinea Doni, Tedeschi Valpolicella Lucchine, G. Viberti Barbera d’Alba La Gemella, and Fantinel Tenuta Sant’Helena Refosco.

Jan. 25 - European wines - From France: Ch. du Petit Thouars Chinon Blanc Le Clos, Joseph Drouhin Chorey-les-Beaune, and Dom. des Carabiniers Syrah Moon Apoge. From Austria: Arndorfer Gruner Veltliner Strasser Weinberge. From Iberia: Raul Perez Ultreia Mencia St. Jacques, and Anselmo Mendes Alvarinho Contacto.

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Special Event at L&E:

Wines from Italy’s Alto Adige
Tues., Jan. 14, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Join us for a tasting of gorgeous wines from Cantina Terlano and Cantina Andriano. Kyle Chaney from Banville Wines will be on hand to pour some of the Alto Adige’s finest!

No reservations are necessary: Tasting fee $10.

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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.