• 2007 Unicorn Tears:  Koehler-Ruprecht

    2007 Unicorn Tears: Koehler-Ruprecht "R" & "RR" Dry Riesling

    Magical is a word that adequately sums up the Koehler-Ruprecht estate in Germany's Pfalz region. But, when we are talking about the super rare reserve bottlings, "R" and "RR", we've entered another dimension of dry Riesling. 

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 
    2007 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen Riesling Auslese Trocken "R" and "RR". This is the only listing for either wine in the entire U.S. 

    The "R" and "RR" come from a special selection of the smallest, golden berries harvested in the Saumagen vineyard. The "RR" is differentiated partially by its extra aging in barrel as compared to the "R". 2007 saw near perfect balance for Pfalz whites, and much like in Burgundy, there's a freshness to this vintage that continues to appeal to classic-leaning palates.

    The wines of Koehler-Ruprecht bear little resemblance to those of neighboring producers, nor to those next door in France's Alsace. Though Riesling is the focus here, a super-natural element exists within all of their wines that make them stand out among their contemporaries. These are some of the very most fascinating wines on earth, and it's the extreme hands-off approach here that's largely responsible for that singular quality. 


    The winemaking has remained about the same since the early 18th century when the domaine was established. Ferments occur completely naturally. Aging takes place in larger old German oak barrels. The vineyards are worked without herbicides, pesticides, or irrigation. The sweet spot of the holdings comes from Kallstadter's famed Saumagen vineyard, which translates to "pig's stomach" due to its shape. The Pfalz is home to an amalgamation of soils. But, here in Saumagen, it's limestone that takes center stage and bears the most responsibility for this site's crystalline nature, and peerless transformative abilities in bottle.

    Koehler-Ruprecht produces Rieslings dry, off-dry, and sweet, but it's their trocken (dry) bottlings that really hit the mark for me. With age these begin to convert into absolutely mystical wines. Their calling card is a cotton candy note that slowly develops. The protective influence of the Vosges mountains to the west gives the Pfalz the lowest amount of rainfall in Germany. This abundance of sunlight gives ample texture and full-throttle ripeness. Finding wines from the Pfalz that avoid getting a little chunky can be challenging. Koehler-Ruprecht's dry versions always carry a flashy mineral streak that brilliantly juxtaposes with the golden apple, sweet corn, ginger, and quintessential cotton candy note. 

    I was thrilled to receive this quad of Saumagen bottlings. Each vintage offers a perfect illustration into how all these elements balance together, unfolding slowly over time. The wines are pure, textured, with a laser-cut focus to them - Riesling at its most enchanting.

    The different designations like Kabinett and Auslese refer to the ripeness level at picking. Auslese, picked later, will show more weight, and power. While Kabinett will show more delicate and agile. Each wine is fermented completely dry.

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    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Santa Cruz Late Release:  2005 Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Merlot

    Santa Cruz Late Release: 2005 Ahlgren Bates' Ranch Merlot

    My fondness for the old school winemaking mentality that can be regularly found in pockets of the Santa Cruz Mountains is no surprise. Names like RidgeMount Eden, and more recently Arnot-Roberts have proved emblematic of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon's ability to show a more nuanced and earth-inflected tone in this ultra-cool zone of California. This is where my excitement for the variety reaches its fever pitch in America.

    There's always an element of mystery to these vineyards that have remained way off the radar as compared to Napa counterparts. Among the mysteries residing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, no winery elicits the same intrigue as that of the former Ahlgren Vineyards and their Bates Ranch bottlings.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the late release direct from the winery of Ahlgren's 2005 Merlot for $47 per bottle. 

    Val and Dexter Ahlgren had been producing wines from this Boulder Creek zone of the Santa Cruz Mountains since the 70's. Upon their relatively recent retirement they had sold all of their library stock to a favorite distributor of mine whom I've long turned to for everything from Soldera Brunello to Foradori Teroldgeo to Cedric Bouchard champagne. When they announced these Ahlgren wines would be poured at their portfolio tasting I was very excited to taste. The results in bottle were so impressive I took every bottle available.

    Now, I've painted the Santa Cruz Mountains with a broad brush in the past, describing a middle ground between Napa and Bordeaux for the Merlot-based wines. When we talk about Ahlgren we need to pull away from this simple analogy a bit. Ahlgren produces wines from Merlot with a transparency and light extraction that actually bears little resemblance to either Napa or Bordeaux. Ahlgren exists in its own category of style, and pointing to similar references wouldn't do these wines justice or accurately explain what you'll find in bottle. The 2005 Merlot pulls us further away from primary fruit and into a deeper emphasis on the tertiary, floral, and earth tones.

    For me, these late releases impress first and foremost in their soundness of fruit. These had been resting at the winery since initial bottling until their recent purchase.There's a singular sweet brown spice I find in the 2005 Merlot that's simply Bates Ranch. Tannin was never the basis of structure for these wines, interestingly enough from a variety that rarely has any shortage in that department. Instead, it's the acidity and freshness that serves as the wines' foundation today with bright red and black fruits pulsating with energy. There's a soft, drinkable quality that's at once fun and playful, yet lingers with dead-serious earthy inflection that puts terroir front-and-center.

    Late releases from wineries always offer something that's worthy of getting excited about. Especially in these more delicately constructed wines, the provenance is so critical in enjoying them at their apogee. Today's final release from Ahlgren Vineyards Bates' Ranch is one that sums up why this ultra old school zone of California warrants so much attention.

    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Refresh: Ultimate Spring Awakening  2018 Arnot-Roberts Rosé

    Refresh: Ultimate Spring Awakening 2018 Arnot-Roberts Rosé

    Today, we're offering refreshed quantities on one of our favorite rosés on earth, the2018 Arnot-Roberts rosé of Touriga Nacional for $27 per bottle.

    This is the rosé I find myself reaching for continually through all occasions. Based on Touriga Nacional planted at 1,400 feet in the Clear Lake AVA, this pink always follows a high wire act of melding topicality with a salty and refreshingly mineral finish.

    Duncan Arnot and Nathan Roberts have long been celebrated for carving their own path in California. They've proved time after time that marginal climates once considered too severe can actually craft some of America's finest and most age-worthy wines. Between Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Falanghina, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and today's favorite rosé, this duo is unrivaled in how they excel across such a wide spectrum.

    In the obscure Clear Lake area Duncan and Nathan have tapped the variety most known for comprising Port. Here, on volcanic cobble, Touriga Nacional has annually been the backbone of this rosé that's seen its loyal fan-base continually expand. There's always a dizzying array of tropical fruits like guava, pomegranate, and passion fruit that meet savory orange peel with a quintessential saline snap on the finish that evokes sea breezes.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen