• Event l'Horizon: Pyrenees' Ultimate Awakening

    Event l'Horizon: Pyrenees' Ultimate Awakening

    There's nothing more exciting than discovering new producers that defy conventional thinking on what their region's are capable of. Looking closer at the landscape where France and Spain converge at the Pyrenees I've found a domaine both raw and genuine. But, it's the refinement that comes from this absolutely gnarly and mind-bending terroir that defines this moment of impact. This is Domaine de l'Horizon. 

    l'Horizon was created when German-born Thomas Teibert met Gerard Gauby (Arguably SW France's most respected vigneron) while consulting for small wineries. He was introduced to a small village with just 200 residents. Before we move onto the wines, we need to talk about place.

    Calce is a village in France about 20 miles away from the Spanish border. Yes, this is part of the Languedoc-Roussillon, but please just forget that because it is Catalan. Calce sits on a specific spot where, during the Ice Age, the slate soils of the Pyrenees collided into the limestone of Corbières. The result is what importer Neal Rosenthal appropriately dubbed, a geologist's dream. Under only 8 inches of top soil we reach an amalgamation of black and brown slate, gravel, and red-tinged iron-influenced marl, and a surface littered with river stones à la Chateauneuf du Pape (see below). And, we cannot leave out the wind: the violent 
    Tramontane from the Pyrenees mountains meets the Marin coming north from the Mediterranean.

    It's this setting at the foot of the Pyrenees that mirrors something out of a fantasy novel. 100+ yr-old vines here give minuscule yields from digging deep into these wildly unique, porous soils. The domaine produces two whites and two reds. Fermentation and aging is split between concrete tanks and neutral wood from Austria's Stockinger large barrels and foudres.

    To touch on the sense of place again, these rocky soils bring spine-tingling minerality, with warm days full of intense sunlight, but absolutely frigid nights (acid's loyal friend). Wines clock in with very modest levels of alcohol, topping out at 13% even.

    L’Esprit de l’Horizon Blanc is a blend of 80% Macabeau and 20% Muscat, all from old vines. On one hand it shows some of the faint honeyed notes you'd expect from the varieties, but it's really an acid-driven mineral showstopper with lime in the forefront supported by an array of other citrus fruits.

    l'Horizon Côtes Catalanes Blanc is an equal blend of Macabeau and Grenache Gris. Co-fermented in neutral Stockinger large barrels. This, the top white of the domaine, takes on the mineral-driven personality from L'Esprit and doubles down on the intensity. The very oldest vines of the estate bring a different level of saturating minerality that's surely appeals to devoted followers of Grand Cru Chablis. The first time I saw a bottle of l'Horizon was on a shelf in Burgundy sitting next to Raveneau and Dauvissat.

    L’Esprit de l’Horizon Rouge is comprised of 60% Carignan and 40% Syrah and fermented with about 1/3 whole clusters, bringing spice, structure, and complexity. Fermentation sees only gentle pigeage (punching down) by foot, with remontage (pumping over) providing the even gentler extraction. At 12.5% alcohol, this proves that SW France can indeed be built on concentration of fruit, but with freshness ultimately being the major take away.

    l'Horizon Côtes Catalanes Rouge is comprised of 70% Carignan and 30% Grenache, sourced from vines over 120-yrs of age. As you can imagine, the intensity of fruit here is through the roof with yields well below 15 hectoliters per hectare. Yet, there's no heft. It's the ultimate reflection of what separates very good wines from great ones: immense concentration without palate weight. This is in that red cherry-dominant camp, with crazy focus and precision, like a finely tuned Porsche.

    I see no prize in beating the drum for unknown appellations just for the sake of obscurity. I judge all wines in the context of the benchmarks. I highly recommend tasting what the other-worldly terroir of Calce is all about. Burgundy may have a head start, but this perfect storm of a setting has just as compelling a story to tell.

    Purchase Here.

    2016 Domaine de l'Horizon "L'Esprit de l'Horizon" Blanc IGP
    $34 per bottle.

    2016 Domaine De L'Horizon "L'Esprit De L'Horizon" Rouge IGP
    $34 per bottle.

    2016 Domaine de l'Horizon Côtes Catalanes Blanc IGP
    $59 per bottle.

    2016 Domaine de l'Horizon Côtes Catalanes Rouge IGP
    $65 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • New Spain Value Hotspot: 4 Monos Viticultores Tinto

    New Spain Value Hotspot: 4 Monos Viticultores Tinto "GR10"

    Collaborative efforts between friends have been a common thread within the The New Spain wine scene that I've seen blast off over the last few years. In Madrid's Sierra de Gredos mountain range we've focused earlier on the highest-end single vineyard bottlings of Comando-G. Now we turn to a different source - the most crystalline and elegant interpretation of this granite terroir which embody the value play.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 4 Monos Viticultores Tinto "GR10" for $24 per bottle.

    The four partners (
    Javier Garcia, Laura Robles, David Velasco, David Morenomet while hiking in the Sierra de Gredos mountain range, located 80 km east of Madrid. All had unique backgrounds related to wine, each bringing a different element of expertise to this project founded in 2009. The lineup of wines is terrific, but at $24 per bottle their "GR10" is the perfect model of how delicacy and transparency can be the leading traits of the Spanish red, not just a supporting element.

    GR10 is a blend of 85% Garnacha, 10% Cariñena, 3% Morenillo, and 2% Syrah. I'm always inclined to use words like crunchy and snappy to illustrate how the red fruit profile expresses itself here. There is certainly a core of energy, abundance of minerality, but it is these fresh fruit qualities that take me back to tasting grape clusters picked off the vine. This has always been a personal requirement for me falling in love with any wine - a serious connection to the raw material harvested. It's this fundamental, natural component that should echo from a wine when first tasted.

    The Four Monkeys, as they call themselves, clearly share this passion for lively and fruit-forward wines. But, it's also their brilliant, non-interventionist approach in the cellar that gives GR10 such sophisticated texture and structure. Totally seamless, full of bright minerality, savory spices, and explosively pure fruit persisting on the long finish.

    The Specifics: GR10 is sourced from several granite-dominant vineyards from three villages with vine age ranging from 30-85 years. It sees 100% whole cluster fermentation with native yeasts, 30-40 days on skins starting with a cold soak. Raised for seven months in neutral barrels (300L & 600L) and foudre (4,500L). Then finishes in concrete for two months prior to bottling without fining or filtering.

    It's been very exciting over the last three years being introduced to so many new Spanish projects that simply just get it. It the realm of value reds, the 4 Monos Tinto GR10 is the wine that's pulled me in the very most.

    2016 4 Monos Tinto "GR10"
    $24 per bottle.

    Purchase Here.

    Other noteworthy Spanish discoveries:


    2016 Comando G Rozas 1er Cru
    $45 per bottle.

    2016 Comando G La Bruja de Rozas
    $27 per bottle.

    2015 Comando G Tumba del Rey Moro
    $103 per bottle.

    2015 Comando G Rumbo Al Norte
    $172 per bottle.

    Raul Perez

    2016 Raul Perez Ultreia Saint Jacques Bierzo Mencia
    $23 per bottle.

    2017 Raul Perez Atalier Rias Baixas Albariño
    $28 per bottle.

    2014 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia
    $34 per bottle.

    2015 La Vizcaina de Vinos Bierzo Blanco "La Del Vivo" (Raul Perez) 
    $38 per bottle.

    2011 Raul Perez Tierre de Leon Tinto
    $57 per bottle.
    (From 1900-planted Prieto Picudo vines. Aged under flor)

    2011 Raul Perez Tierre de Leon Albarin Blanco
    $57 per bottle.
    (Aged under flor)

    28x 2015 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia de Valtuille
    $72 per botttle.

    2016 Raul Perez "Sketch" Rias Baixas Albariño
    $129 per bottle.

    Alfredo Maestro

    2016 Alfredo Maestro El Marciano
    $25 per bottle.

    2017 Alfredo Maestro Lovamor Albillo
    $27 per bottle.

    Pardas Cellers

    2014 Pardas Pur Xarello
    $30 per bottle.

    2014 Pardas Collita Roja
    $38 per bottle.

    Laura Lorenzo (Da Terra Viticultores)

    2014 Laura Lorenzo Daterra Erea de Vila Blanco (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $48 per bottle.

    2015 Laura Lorenzo Azos de Vila Tinto (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $39 per bottle.

    2016 Laura Lorenzo Azos de Vila Tinto (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $39 per bottle.

    2015 Laura Lorenzo Gavela de Vila Blanco (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $33 per bottle.

    2016 Laura Lorenzo Gavela de Vila Blanco (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $33 per bottle.

    2015 Laura Lorenzo Poretela do Vento (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $33 per bottle.

    2016 Laura Lorenzo Poretela Do Vento (DaTerra Viticultores)
    $33 per bottle.

    Rias Baixas Albariño

    2015 Pedralonga Albariño
    $25 per bottle.

    2016 Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas Rias Baixas Albarino
    $56 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2016 Burgundy Love Affair: Domaine Joseph Drouhin

    2016 Burgundy Love Affair: Domaine Joseph Drouhin

    If I were to choose one domaine in Burgundy to drink from Chablis through the Côte de Beaune, it would be Joseph Drouhin. The name has become synonymous with value and precision, offering terroir-driven wines founded upon elegance first and foremost. While the relatively large estate purchases grapes from many top growers, they also have their own Domaine holdings where all aspects of viticulture are under their control - fully organic and biodynamic. And, in the case of Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts, proprietor Véronique Drouhin personally owns this secret gem of a Premier Cru herself. As you can imagine, this gets quite the special treatment and is plowed by horse.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a collection of my favorite 2016 Drouhin wines, complete with special mixed 3-pack pricing. I cannot think of a more fitting vintage than 2016 to capture the graceful and supremely balanced style Drouhin is so cherished for. 

    My first experience tasting Burgundy's most adored Premier Cru, Les Amoureuses, was at a small wine shop in Chassagne-Montrachet in 2012. For some reason it's one of the more vivid memories that's stuck with me from a year living in Beaune. A well known Canadian collector who splits his time between the US and Burgundy called me over to taste the highly anticipated release of Drouhin's 2010. I remember his incredibly strict declaration to me as I swirled: You can have all the money in the world to line your cellar with DRC, Leroy, and Rousseau, but if you pass on Drouhin's domaine holdings, you're a fool. Not surprisingly, the wine in the glass was one of the most memorable I had in Burgundy - there's something to be said for the openness and generosity of brand new releases. Pure, unadulterated fruit and maximum impact. The great vintages like 2010 and 2016 do not hold back in making their presence felt.

    Drouhin's Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru is labeled as such because it comes from only 1.3 hectares of vines divided through the 1ers: Noirots, Hauts Doix, Borniques, Plantes, and Combottes. The tiny parcels are vinified together. Among secret cuvées in all of France I put this pretty high on my list. It always over-delivers, and late releases from the domaine clearly show its transformative capabilities through decades.

    Drouhin's Vosne Romanée 1er Cru is sourced from Malconsorts, Les Petit Monts, and Chaumes (located below La Tâche). This a brand new cuvée and certainly rivals the Chambolle 1er that has been a standard bearer for decades under Drouhin. A trifecta of Vosne 1ers Cru vineyards if there was one!

    Drouhin's Beaune 1er Cru Monopole Clos des Mouches Blanc and Rouge are two wines that transcend the reputation of its village more so than any other wines in Burgundy. Located at the southern end of Beaune next to Pommard, Clos des Mouches always surprises with the classic Drouhin elegance that marries with the more powerful style from this village. The track record of aging is unmatched in Beaune. Bottles of both whites and reds from the 80's are regularly standouts at Burgundy dinners filled with Grand Crus.

    Véronique Drouhin's Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts is the ultimate insider Burgundy bottle. Sitting above Grand Cru Richebourg and next to fabled 1er Cru Cros Parantoux, this is case in point for illustrating how nothing beats top tier real estate in Vosne Romanée. This cuvée has been heightened in 2016 with the younger vines now going into the Vosne Romanée 1er Cru cuvée for the first time. Bottles of 1988 (available below) are among the freshest and profound red Burgundies I've been fortunate enough to drink.

    Robert Drouhin was among the first in Burgundy to adopt "culture raisonnée" in the late 1950's, and today the domaine is fully organic and biodynamic in all owned vineyards. Grapes are de-stemmed and fermented with native yeasts. Gentle punchdowns are applied once per day for the first half of fermentation, with pumpovers utilized afterwards. Each Premier Cru featured today is aged in a modest 20% new French oak.

    Purchase Here.
    * Pre Arrival wines not listed on website *

    12x 2016 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
    $129 per bottle.

    12x 2016 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc (Domaine)
    $174 per bottle.

    12x 2016 Drouhin Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts (Domaine)
    $399 per bottle.

    Special E-mail Mixed 3-Pack: $651 (Regularly $702)
    1x Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge
    1x Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc
    1x Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts

    2016 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru (Domaine)
    $119 per bottle. (Pre-Arrival)

    2016 Drouhin Vosne Romanée 1er Cru (Domaine)
    $134 per bottle. (Pre-Arrival)

    Also in stock:

    1x 1988 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    2x 1988 Drouhin Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Petits Monts (Domaine)
    $699 per bottle.

    1x 1993 Drouhin Bonnes Mares (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 1996 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 1999 Drouhin Grands-Echezeaux (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 1999 Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 2001 Drouhin Grands Echezeaux (Domaine) 
    per bottle.

    1x 2002 Drouhin Bonnes Mares (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 2010 Drouhin Chambertin-Clos de Beze
    (50% Domaine fruit, complemented with purchased fruit from an adjacent parcel)
    per bottle.

    4x 2010 Drouhin Musigny (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    1x 2012 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 1.5L (Domaine)
    per bottle.

    10x 2015 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru (Domaine)
    $113 per bottle.

    10x 2015 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge (Domaine)
    $129 per bottle.

    6x 2015 Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses (Domaine)
    $574 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • California's Calling: Domaine de la Côte La Côte & Siren's Call

    California's Calling: Domaine de la Côte La Côte & Siren's Call

    "The results are aromatic, sapid reds that evoke the great wines of Burgundy but find a distinctive personality of their own...To my palate, Domaine de la Côte now numbers among the most exciting producers of Pinot Noir in California precisely because of that synergy between style and site." - William Kelley of The Wine Advocate (04/18)

    It's not often I'll lead with a critic's take, but there's nobody writing on wine today as exceptionally well as William Kelley, The Wine Advocate's new proverbial breath of fresh air. As far as aligning palates go, Kelley seems to read things as I do. Although he reviews California's central coast, his home is also based in Burgundy where he covers that region as well.

    Last week marked my fourth visit with Sashi Moorman and Raj Parr at their winery in Lompoc.

    Today, I'm happy to offer an epic release I've been building for a while now, complete with an extremely rare vertical of DDLC's, La Côte.

    Domaine de la Côte is the definitive example of what it means to walk the walk in California viticulture. The Pinot Noir grown on this extreme western portion of the Sta. Rita Hills is a testament to what's capable when the fickle grape is raised in conditions that approximate Burgundy's marginal setting. These are wines with intense concentration from small yields, due in part to pruning regimen and also to its extremely dense planting of 4,000-7,000 vines per acre. The soil is porous diatomaceous from a 25 million year old seabed that ultimately defines this wind-battered slope 7 miles off the Pacific. Driving up to the vineyard, the white soil exposed on the southwest face of the cliff elicits Champagne's Côte de Blancs. This is California, but we're in uncharted territory.

    The inclination here is to drive home the point that Raj and Sashi are well versed on Burgundy domaines and sites like no other producers in America. And that they've intended from day one to produce wines they want to drink, those that harness the same traits that set their lust toward Burgundy long ago. Large percentage of whole clusters are used here for fermentation and extraction levels are moderate, only intended to give regal framing and backbone to wines still characterized by purity and transparency of site.

    Another inclination is to portray this extreme western hill as the Côte de Nuits to the more Côte de Beaune traits we find in Santa Barbara's more inland terrain, where we see more red fruits and softer structure. Here, like in Gevrey Chambertin and Morey Saint Denis we have darker fruit expression, deeper structure, and to be blunt, a more fascinating depth and complexity than elsewhere in this zone. The juxtaposition between sweet and savory spices is just simply unique to this setting, and its black tea and citrus peel component are another obvious reminder to a Côte de Nuits kinship.

    As with elite Burgundy, the DDLC top cuvées show a fine-ness of tannins and delicacy that belies their underlying construction, one capable of transforming them slowly over time. Tasting upon release and then four years later, a bottle of 2011 La Côtemirrored the evolutionary track I only find with Burgundian Pinot Noir.

    La Côte is the most entrancing and refined of the domaine's single vineyards. It's been a favorite of mine since first pour many years ago. It hits a sweet spot where grace and intensity converge seamlessly.

    Siren's Call is just a 1.5 acre parcel located above La Côte. Own-rooted on decomposed quartz soils and featuring the domaine's steepest grade. De-stemmed by hand. Under 900 bottles produced each vintage.

    Burgundy is the backbone of our selection. When I trust emphatically to turn our supporters towards California, this is the first destination for top-grade, terroir-driven Pinot Noir.

    Purchase Here.

    2014 Domaine de la Côte Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
    $44 per bottle.

    2015 Domaine de la Côte La Côte Pinot Noir
    $95 per bottle.

    2014 Domaine de la Côte La Côte Pinot Noir
    $95 per bottle.

    2013 Domaine de la Côte La Côte Pinot Noir
    $95 per bottle.

    2012 Domaine de la Côte La Côte Pinot Noir
    $95 per bottle.

    Special E-mail "La Côte" Vertical 4-pack: $349 ($87.25/bottle)
    One bottle of each: 2015, 2014, 2013, & 2012

    2014 Domaine de la Côte Siren's Call Pinot Noir
    $129 per bottle.

    2013 Domaine de la Côte Siren's Call Pinot Noir
    $129 per bottle.

    Also available from the dynamic duo:

    *2011 Sandhi Tempest Vineyard Pinot Noir
    $99 per bottle.
    Sourced from La Côte, specifically from what today is a special parcel to be released as, Sous le Chêne, located at the very top of La Côte.

    2017 Evening Land Seven Springs Gamay Noir
    $35 per bottle.

    The last vintage ever sourcing the 1983-planted portion of this revered site.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnay
    $45 per bottle.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard La Source Chardonnay
    $79 per bottle.

    2014 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Anden Pinot Noir
    $99 per bottle.

    2015 Sandhi Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
    $33 per bottle.

    2015 Sandhi Bentrock Chardonnay
    $48 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Raul Perez Strikes Again: Mic Drop Rias Baixas Albariño Atalier

    Raul Perez Strikes Again: Mic Drop Rias Baixas Albariño Atalier

    It would be unfair in telling you to stop being surprised by Raul Perez releases, as I'm continually left dumbstruck. For the life of me, I don't understand how one producer can redefine the Spanish white wine category across a spectrum of regions and varieties. His most elusive (and monumental) wine is simply known as Sketch - an Albariño sourced from a 0.5 hectare parcel of old vines in Rias Baixas. At $100+ per bottle it's worth its weight in gold, but upon release, rumors swirled in New York that his "other" Albariño was going to be the proverbial mic drop moment for the variety.

    At $28 per bottle, I'm so happy to finally offer Raul Perez's 2017 "Atalier" Rias Baixas Albariño, sourced from un-grafted and pre-phylloxera vines.

    No reason to mince words, the 2016 release of Atalier was the most requested wine I've ever offered. Sadly , the majority of requests were not able to be met due to limited availability of the wine in California. Today, I'm making sure that does not happen again. 

    Atalier comes from two parcels of Albariño vines in the Cambados area of the Salnés valley, located in the southern portion on the northwest tip of Spain. As Raul's greatest influence is top white Burgundy he takes every step possible preserve cut and delineation in Albariño while also pushing for maximum ripeness and flavor development. All easier said than done. The key steps are harvesting very late and then blocking malolactic fermentation - this allows for superb ripeness, but eliminates the more viscous and creamy elements of Albariño that don't appeal to him (or us!). Aging is in older French foudre, the large format both working to preserve tension while providing some oxygen exchange to soften texture.

    Salinity and white peach are apt descriptors for Albariño from the extreme coastal vineyards of Rias Baixas. In the case of Atelier these tell-tale notes are met with oyster shell, lychee, ginger, almonds, and white flowers. And that driving sense of salinity and sea breeze is captured brilliantly in the long finish.

    Raul completely redefines what a mineral-driven Spanish white is capable of, showing depth and the nuance I've come to expect from elite Chablis and Côte de Beaune Chardonnay. In 2014 Raul Perez was named best winemaker in the world from the German publication, Der Feinschmecke. And in 2015 the same honor was bestowed by France's Bettane & Desseauve.

    Much like the Bourgogne Blanc cuvées from Roulot, Vincent Dancer, and Pierre Yves Colin-Morey, Raul Perez's Atalier simply over-delivers is a big way. Finding Spanish whites that harness all of the inherent richness of the sun-soaked terrain is no tall task, but revealing them in a frame where harmony and balance steal the show is something entirely unique to this man.

    Purchase Here.

    2017 Raul Perez "Atalier" Rias Baixas Albariño
    $28 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod