Visiting with Christoph Schaefer seven years ago at his family's cellar at the foot of the wickedly steep Domprobst vineyard of Graach (pictured above) was an unforgettable experience. The wines have long impressed me for their featherweight lightness and mineral spring purity of fruit. The balance found throughout the wines coming from the Mosel River Valley captivate us at every turn, but, for me, those from Willi Schaefer sit in a select category. Along with J.J. Prüm, this is where the Mosel reaches its crescendo.Today, I'm happy to offer the full range of in-stock Willi Schaefer Rieslings. The list covers current releases as well as extreme rarities. Value can be found with age, now at 15 years the 2004 Riesling QBA at $34/btl is a great example of the magic capable of developing in bottle. And, several Auction (Grosser Ring) bottlings with a big emphasis on the epic 2001 vintage certainly marks the highlight of this group.Schaefer's minute holding of 4.2 hectares almost exclusively focuses on two vineyards in the village of Graach, the Himmelreich and Domprobst - both comprised of Devonian slate soils. The Himmelreich, in its youth, is the more approachable, fruity, and silky. Lots of citrus and white peach tend to dominate. There's an agility and sense of weightlessness to Himmelreich that personifies the magic of the Mosel.The Domprobst is the more deep, spicy, and powerful. Earthy characteristics reveal themselves here in wines with slightly higher acidity. Flavor profile tends to push further away from the citrus register and into yellow and red orchard fruit notes.
I anxiously awaited the arrival of the 2018 vintage from Domaine Savary. In Chablis where many consider François Raveneau king, it was his introduction to importer Kermit Lynch that landed this terrific, under-the-radar domaine in the states. At $33 per bottle for Savary's Old Vine cuvée, this is the greatest value to go deep on from these famed Kimmeridgian slopes.
Savary's old vine bottling captures everything I love about Chablis. Crushed oyster shell, cool-fruited citrus and green apple, with an uncanny texture impossible to resist conjuring the legendary wines of François Raveneau.
Chablis may be part of Burgundy, but its extreme northern setting and soil comprised of fossilized seashells share more in common with parts of Champagne and Sancerre than with the more luscious Chardonnay found 80 miles south-east in the Côte d'Or. The mineral expression matched with the cold climate of Chablis is magical for crafting wines brimming with mouth-watering salinity and faint nutty flavors that reveal themselves with air.
There's still so much of Chablis that's harvested too early, farmed without conviction, resting on the laurels of the iconic appellation printed on the label. Savary is a prime example of what the region can do the very best, pushing ripeness in this frigid northerly climate to the max, while preserving the necessary tension. Fermentation is carried out in 20% neutral wood and 80% stainless steel for their Vielles Vignes cuvée. The wine is then aged in larger, neutral demi-muids barrels.
Olivier Savary follows a long history of vignerons, but due to challenging vintages his parents had chosen not to continue the family domaine. Olivier had to start over when he finished oenology school in Dijon, and since 1984 with his wife Francine, they've slowly built what once was lost. A serendipitous introduction to importer Kermit Lynch by François Raveneau brought these stateside. While pricing of Raveneau will top several hundreds of dollars, today's old vine bottling is a perfect reminder that Chablis is still the bulls-eye for mineral-driven value Chardonnay.
Tempier defies all rules of the rosé category. In 1941, the domaine just about single-handedly petitioned the Bandol appellation into existence. While there's a push each year to get the new vintage of their rosé on the market to quench the ever-increasing thirst of summer's appetite, the best of Tempier's rosé is always yet to come through bottle development.
That's why today I'm happy to offer the 2018 & 2016 Tempier Rosé, complete with special pricing on mixed 4-packs.
The blend of the rosé is 55% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, and 20% Cinsault, planted on limestone and clay just above the Mediterranean coast. Much of the secret of this highly coveted pink is in its ability to transform over time, continuing to hold onto that critical freshness. Visiting the domaine in July 2016 again proved these back vintage rosés and reds deserve their place atop France's hierarchy of cherished estates.
Today's magnum-only offer is a first. But, I cannot think of a wine better suited to the format than Enfield Wine Co's 2015 Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay. While 750ml's disappeared in a flash, I made sure to go deep on magnums of this personal favorite, from the growing legend that is, John Lockwood.When John Lockwood's 2015 Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay floored me, his initial reaction was to point to a "perfect storm" of growing conditions. Knowing John, this modesty is key to the success in all his wines. But actually, it's his relentless curiosity and ever-questioning approach that's responsible for one of the greatest wines from California I've yet to drink.Sommeliers have blinded it as Pierre Yves Colin-Morey. Descriptors like laser-focused and weightless flood the mind when tasting. Lockwood has produced some terrific wines, but for me the 2015 Haynes Chardonnay is his most thrilling achievement to date. This month, Eric Asimov of the New York Times gave us a close look into Lockwood's steady rise in becoming a household name in the wine world.Today, I'm happy to offer John's 2015 Enfield Wine Co. Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay 1.5L for $100 per bottle. Also featured is a wide range of additional wines from Lockwood.John and I met while working at Failla Wines in 2011. From a solar-powered cabin on the extreme Sonoma Coast, four of us in total organically-farmed the Failla Estate Vineyard, home to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. In retrospect, taking the leap to that plot of vines was perhaps the single most important professional choice I've made.Getting to know John in tight quarters and amongst vine rows was a never-ending exploration into all things wine. Early mornings, late nights, the discussions never ceased. It was clear immediately that his thirst for discovery would be the root of all accomplishments to come. It was that summer of 2011 that John bottled his very first wine for his Enfield Wine Co. label, from Haynes Vineyard.Haynes, located in Napa's coolest AVA Coombsville, is home to a special parcel of 51-yr-old Chardonnay vines. These same vines were the source of John Kongsgaard's early work with the seminal Newton "Unfiltered" Chardonnay of the 70's. Lockwood had sourced from Haynes since 2010, but it wasn't until 2015 that he was given the opportunity to work with this prized, old vine parcel.The magic of these old vines isn't just in the obvious concentration, but rather it's a story of soil. Haynes is famous for a very high pH powdery white volcanic ash subsoil, endowing wines with wild levels of acidity that are rare to find in this region where ripeness is never too shy. The younger vines John had previously worked with here had shallower root systems that only tapped into the alluvial gravel topsoil. When the change was made to the old vine parcel in 2015 the real magic of this fascinating subsoil came to fruition in bottle.The 2015 growing season saw a heat spike toward the end where sugars rapidly rose, outpacing the expected drop in natural acidity. Lockwood was given substantially ripe Chardonnay with wildly high acidity levels - an easy comparison would be 2010 in the Mosel. The wine was gently and directly-pressed to avoid any unwanted phenolic character. And the wine was aged in large 500L neutral French oak barrels and did not see sulphur until after 1 year in barrel.For me, finding white wines in California that are built upon their focus and agility is the ultimate rarity. There's a head-spinning level of refinement and incisiveness to this wine that will appeal to every single white Burgundy lover. There are no bones thrown when it comes to selections for the shop. I buy what I love to drink, it's that simple.And, I'm so confident this wine will appeal to lovers of finely-tuned styled white Burgundy and Chenin Blanc that I will give a full credit to the shop for anyone who isn't pleased with what they find in their glass. That's a guarantee.
Today, we turn to my prime personal destination for American Cabernet Sauvignon, the Santa Cruz Mountains and the top new release from the rockstar duo of Duncan Arnot and Nathan Lee Roberts.Living in St. Helena in 2011 I had the opportunity to drink a wide range of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. From Calistoga south through Carneros, from Howell Mountain west across the valley to Spring Mountain. And everything in between. Of all the young wines opened there's only one that still stays with me, as if it was only last night I was with friends in front of a fire atop Diamond Mountain.Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 & 2016 Arnot-Roberts Fellom Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Also featured is an Arnot-Roberts Discovery 6-Pack featuring a stellar range of Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Ribolla Gialla, Touriga Nacional rosé, and Cabernet Sauvignon.Like the two most historic Cabernets from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ridge's Monte Bello and Mount Eden's Estate Cabernet, Fellom Ranch falls into an ideal landing spot between the styles of Napa Valley's sun-kissed fruit and the gravel and more earthy characteristics common in Bordeaux's left bank. Elevation of 2,200 feet and cool winds racing through from the nearby Pacific ensure gradual ripening and serious freshness in the finished wine. The amalgamation of shale, loam, and limestone soils bring a diversity of terroir, and gives layers of complexity.Fellom Ranch is powerful, but balanced with bright acids and a freshness that always makes it emptied quickly - the real litmus test for any great wine. Smoke, graphite, mint, and dried herbs dazzle each vintage, and the 30% use of whole cluster fermentation adds savory, yet bright qualities that make it so distinctive. Duncan and Nathan's fondness for the wines of Marcel Juge and Thierry Allemand of Cornas, to me, make themselves known in Fellom's dark and decidedly savage traits. *(And to see more of their reverence for those aforementioned icons I implore you to take close look at their fabulous Syrahs also listed below).Like all the wines of Arnot-Roberts, production here is very limited. I'm thrilled today to offer a wine that captures the most exciting elements of California Cabernet Sauvignon, and the adventurous spirit of the two friends who've brought this epic vineyard to the forefront.For those who find themselves sticking with France primarily, I highly recommend you see the ultimate execution in crafting California wines of place deeply-rooted in French influence.