• Raul Perez World-Beater:  Mic Drop Rias Baixas Albariño Atalier

    Raul Perez World-Beater: Mic Drop Rias Baixas Albariño Atalier

    This summer's trip to Spain and Portugal was nothing short of epic. The goal was simple: to get ultra-intimate and familiar with the people and places that have awoken me to the new potential here. Select wineries from both countries are emphasizing a greater focus on freshness, site-specificity, and restraint. It truly felt like a small-scale renaissance as I visited my top producers over three weeks in nearly every pocket of the Iberian Peninsula. When it came time to decide where to start with my first offer from the trip, the choice was clear.

    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 happy to offer Raul Perez's new release, the 2018 "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've made 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.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • There Will be Stems:  Alain Graillot's Definitive Crozes Hermitage

    There Will be Stems: Alain Graillot's Definitive Crozes Hermitage

    Alain Graillot is to Crozes Hermitage as the Peyraud's are to Bandol: Benchmark and definitive representations of their appellations. Alain's journey to starting his domaine in 1985 began, of all places, in Burgundy alongside Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac. And, as one might imagine with Alain's Syrahs, there will be stems.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage and 2016 Crozes Hermitage La Guiraude.

    Additionally, featured below is a very special joint project between Antoine Graillot and Raul Perez, the 2017 Encinas Bierzo Tinto for just $30 per bottle.


    Prior to founding his domaine in 1985, Alain's work with Jacques imparted two key traits. He wanted his wines to be both supremely fresh and spicy. Certainly elegance is part of this equation too, and as temperatures have warmed in the last 34 years, Graillot continues to be a beacon for Rhône enthusiasts passionate about terroir-driven wines that are steeped in an unwavering traditionalist approach.

    Alain's two sons both produce Syrah under their own labels, but the eponymous domaine is still unwavering in their use of 100% whole clusters for fermentation and aging only in older wood - divided between barrique and foudre.

    La Guirade is not a single vineyard, but rather a selection of the best barrels, as Alain tastes through these personally each vintage.

    Crozes Hermitage has long been a great appellation for those looking for value when it comes to the best producers working in the most esteemed parcels. But, even as Graillot's wines nail the value element, they stand out from the pack, as he is undoubtedly the benchmark name in this zone of the Northern Rhône valley.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen