• Süd Sensation: 2020 Gramenon Release

    Süd Sensation: 2020 Gramenon Release

    Domaine Gramenon's brilliance comes in harnessing sun-baked Southern Rhône and producing fleshy wines with a level of briskness and refreshment that's simply unrivaled. If Southern Rhône has pulled you toward Châteauneuf du Pape, or even quaffable Côtes du Rhône, you must try Gramenon.

    Drinkability isn't the sexiest descriptor, but damn, Gramenon epitomizes a quenching trait more than any other name in this region. They're often the first wines emptied on a crowded dinner table, showing soft tannins, seamless texture, and fruit so fresh as if just plucked from their gnarled gobelet vines.

    Michèle Aubèry-Laurent and her husband Philippe founded Gramenon in 1978, and 11 years later, the couple bottled their first wine. Their grand vision was to create an estate where organic farming and biodynamic principles extended beyond wine, growing their own produce and raising animals too. I suggest you use the modest pricing below to reacquaint yourself with the alternative and natural side of the Süd.

    Shop Gramenon Wines

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Baby Châteauneuf

    Baby Châteauneuf

    The pitch-perfect 2016 Southern Rhône vintage does not require much more explanation, and today's duo embodies the regions' best overachieving appellation, Gigondas. Commonly known as Baby Châteauneuf, Gigondas has the elevation and steep slope grade to induce a seriousness to these Grenache-dominant blends that are in another league of terroir from neighboring zones.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Les Pallières Terrasse du Diable and Gour de Chaulé Cuvée Tradition.

    2016 is a replay of the 2010 vintage in Southern Rhône—high ripeness, and superior finesse, cut, and definition. A perfect storm for classic-leaning palates, one that we're only rewarded with a couple of times each decade.

    Terraces cut into the Dentelles de Montmirail hillsides give us Gigondas from the 15th century-founded Domaine Les Pallières. Of the two cuvées produced by the Brunier brothers (also owners of Vieux Télégraphe in Châteauneuf du Pape), it is the Terrasse du Diable (Devil's Terraces) that has always struck a chord for me. These are the highest elevation plantings on the estate, bringing the essential brisk structure to balance Grenache's forward-baked strawberry and white pepper profile.

    Gour de Chaulé, like Pallières, focuses on extremely high percentages of Grenache in their blend, not relying on the dark and muscular tones of Syrah and Mourvèdre to impress. (Both domaines are over 85% for these two cuvées). While Pallières partially de-stems, GdC always sees 100% whole cluster fermentation. Here, there's an extra element of tension and a more reserved fruit profile that always reminds me that this gives one of the most disciplined frames of any southern Rhône red. Josh Raynolds of Vinous captures why this more reticent personality is greatly rewarding:

    "In great vintages like 2016, this 15-hectare (10 of them in Gigondas and mostly composed of very old, low-yielding vines) domaine’s wines have proven that they can age remarkably well and better than most others from the region. Twenty years is usually the outer limit for cellaring Gigondas, to my taste, but plenty of two-decade-old (and even older) bottles of Gour de Chaulé over the last three decades have proven themselves worthy. [...] and the wines here, which have long been among the standouts of the appellation (especially for those whose tastes run to the traditional and unadorned), have never been better."

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Provençal Power Couple:  2018 Triennes Rosé

    Provençal Power Couple: 2018 Triennes Rosé

    At our annual rosé tasting we regularly have brand new additions in our lineup. We cover a wide range of regions, varieties, and styles. The room is always packed with thirsty San Diegans scribbling notes and getting acquainted with the new vintage.When the dust settles and orders have been placed one truth seems to carry over each spring: Triennes dominates.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2018 Triennes Rosé for $17 per bottle. 

    As a category, rosé should be able to deliver in the value realm as well as any wine. And over the years it's become clear this space that has little room for competition. The success of the Provençal brainchild of Domaine Dujac & Aubert de Villaine ofDomaine de la Romanée-Conti shouldn't come as a surprise at $17 per bottle. These hallowed names of Burgundy came together in 1989 to form this estate on a high altitude, limestone and clay-dominant parcel 18 miles from the Mediterranean. 

    Triennes impresses each year for the delicate and floral qualities that are indicative of the best of Provence. Where it truly shines is in texture, suave and seamless in showing a pedigree that wines 2x the price claim through glossy marketing ads, but never deliver in glass. Its finish driven by salinity from the Mediterranean sea breeze takes me back to my visit at this picturesque estate.

    As is standard, the 2018 is comprised of Cinsault with small portions of Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot. It's always a pleasure to offer this home run rosé each spring. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Côtes du Rhone at its Most Ethereal:  Clos du Mont-Olivet Vieilles Vignes

    Côtes du Rhone at its Most Ethereal: Clos du Mont-Olivet Vieilles Vignes

    Ethereal and Côtes du Rhone does not really fit, let's be real. Sun-soaked blends based on Grenache have long provided those plum and strawberry jam-inflected wines long lusted for their fleshy and hedonistic traits. A hint of white pepper and game can bring complexity that separates these from other notable value competitors, but acid-driven these are not. Having said all that, Clos du Mont-Olivet has long stood out for me as the ideal destination for palates that crave a necessary lift and brightness to the CdR category.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2016 Clos du Mont-Olivet Côtes du Rhone Cuvée Vieilles Vignes for $26 per bottle, and down to $24.33/btl on 6-packs.

    First thing first: 2016 is the real deal - hype is valid in the southern Rhone. We're now out of the Parker-dominated spell where vintages like 2007 gained so much attention, yet proved their lack of acidity and freshness would ultimately be their undoing as those Châteauneuf du Papes rested in dark corners of cellars, unwinding into alcohol-dominated monstrosities. Were there successes? Of course. But, overwhelmingly that lauded vintage has proved best to be drunk in years past.

    Unlike the 100% Syrahs of the Northern Rhone, the southern Grenache-dominant blends largely show up for work on day one and provide serious pleasure. There are examples of mesmerizing, aged Châteauneuf du Pape from the likes of Henri Bonneau, Chateau Rayas, Vieux Télégraphe, and Clos du Mont Olivet (such as the 1985 we offered earlier this year). But, largely, this region's strength is in its youth. One of the reasons Grenache is supplemented by more hearty varieties here is because it's prone to oxidation and naturally produces rather high ripeness levels leading to higher alcohols - each of these greatly inhibit a wines ability age gracefully and retain freshness. OK, back to Mont-Olivet.

    Côtes du Rhone's immediacy is its strength, and Clos du Mont-Olivet has long stood as a leading figure in the more understated and elegant section of the category. Freshness is the leading sensibility at Mont-Olivet. This special Vieilles Vignes cuvée comes from vines planted in the 1950's in
     lieu-dits Montueil and La LevadeThe blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and 10% Carignan. 2016 has it all because there is simply no shortcoming to be found: Ripeness, structure, energy - everything's in ideal balance.

    This special bottling always has concentration coming from these old vines, but it's the grace and refinement that leads it to rival Châteauneuf du Papes. In 2016 it's simply the single greatest overachiever of the valley, and I've created special 6-pack pricing today to make planning for Thanksgiving and the rest of the winter an easy choice.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Chateauneuf du Pape's Greatest Hits of the 80's:  Mont-Redon & Mont-Olivet

    Chateauneuf du Pape's Greatest Hits of the 80's: Mont-Redon & Mont-Olivet

    Back-vintage Chateauneuf du Pape is always a category I'm on the hunt for, but the pool of domaines that deliver what I'm looking for is limited. As the predominant variety of CdP, Grenache has a propensity for oxidation, and although varieties like Syrah and Mourvèdre bring needed backbone I still find you have to be surgical in selecting wines. Domaine's that take a traditional approach and aim to preserve acidity and structure have the greatest success.

    That's why I was so happy to finally land two favorites from the excellent 1985 and 1989 southern Rhone vintages. As avid CdP collectors know, Mont-Redon and Mont-Olivet are prime examples of CdP at their most old-school and soulful. When bottles have been stored at cellar temperature the wines unravel into beautiful expressions of the region where 13 grape varieties comprise blends.

    Mont-Redon was recognized as a vineyard in 1344 as part of the Pope's holdings. (Chateauneuf du Pape translates to "New Home of the Pope"). The estate has continued with tradition, utilizing all grape varieties: Grenache (red and white), Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Muscardin, Vaccarèese, Terret Noir, Clairette, Viognier, Picpoul, Roussanne, Bourboulenc. All red grapes are destemmed.

    "The 1989 Mont-Redon is a stunning example of this outstanding Châteauneuf du Pape vintage...Just a lovely bottle of Châteauneuf and one of my favorites in the last couple of decades at Mont-Redon." 
    - John Gilman, View from the Cellar (4/11)
    Mont-Olivet's Sabon family are larger-than-life figures in the southern Rhone. The Mont-Olivet domaine was officially founded in 1932, and today focuses on a high percentage of 60% Grenache in their top CdP. Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault make up the bulk of the remaing blend and bring backbone to meld with the fleshy, baked strawberry and white pepper notes of Grenache. Whole clusters are used here for fermentation, adding spice, but perhaps more importantly, another layer of tannin and structure. 

    “One of the benchmark producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape…the consistent results have always been classic Châteauneuf-du-Papes that stand the test of time.”

    - Robert Parker, RobertParker.com

    “Clos du Mont Olivet, which is now run by Thierry Sabon, is a brilliant estate that fashions traditional, age-worthy Châteauneuf du Papes that have incredibly broad drink windows.”

    - Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

    1989 Mont-Redon Chateauneuf du Pape
    $83 per bottle.

    1985 Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf du Pape
    $113 per bottle.

    Also available:

    4x 1999 Vieux Télegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau 
    $99 per bottle.

    2x 2001 Vieux Télegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape La Crau 1.5L
    $228 per bottle.

    9x 1999 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape 
    $149 per bottle.

    2x 2007 Domaine de la Mordorée Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Reine des Bois
    $179 per bottle.

    4x 2009 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Célestins
    $489 per bottle.

    4x 1988 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf du Pape Réserve des Célestins
    $1,199 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod