• Portuguese Library Gold:  1985 Frei Joao Bairrada Tinto

    Portuguese Library Gold: 1985 Frei Joao Bairrada Tinto

    Of all the great discoveries traveling north from Lisbon to Porto, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out an estate that, thankfully, got on my radar several years back. While it's an over-generalization to point to one vintage as a triumph across all of Europe, 1985 is a year that I fervently hunt throughout nearly all regions of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and now Portugal. After selling out of the 1990, I'm thrilled today to turn to the 1985.

    Frei Joao's 1985 Tinto from the Baga grape is the diamond that arrived to us just this year, after a long 34-year slumber in the dark, dank cellars below the clay soils of Bairrada. At $56 per bottle, and down to $52.99 on 6 or more,  this is the aged, old world red that delivers history in bottle at a can't-miss price!


    When I think of the wines that have stirred the very greatest emotions they've all had significant bottle age. Meeting a wine at its apogee can be thrilling in a way that often leaves you without words. Those dramatic times when silence falls upon a table always seem to be recounted later, but in the moment we're completely dialed into the glass. The scents, the flavors, and the textures are worlds apart from what we find in young wines. The word haunting often seems to be the note most associated with these aged wines in their prime, where deep sense memories are easily accessed.

    Unfortunately, most of these personal wine experiences have come with a price tag that reflects the scarcity of the bottle in question. That's why today's offer is a very exciting one. Portugal, like Spain, is slowly making their case in the US for value and terroir-driven wines that are highlighted by freshness. Along with these new, fascinating arrivals we're also given a few serious gems. 

    Frei Joao was established in the 1950's, focused on the indigenous red and white grapes of the Bairrada region. The simple story is that because of their long history in the region and strong relationships with growers Frei Joao is offered the right for first refusal of the best fruit. Thankfully, they've taken this gift seriously, stashing away vintages from 1959 to 2000 for long aging at the winery. 

    The Baga grape is one with compelling tannins and very pronounced acidity, the perfect recipe for gradual and transformative aging. The clay soils and the evolutionary track we see today points quite a bit to the right bank of Bordeaux, but of course, the price point couldn't be further apart. Today, the 1985 banner vintage is fully resolved with supple tannins, dark cherry fruit, and all of the tobacco, mocha, and leather old world secondary notes you'd come to expect.

    At 12% alcohol the element of freshness cannot be overstated. Portugal's Bairrada is never shy on ripeness, and this old school mentality tied to lower alcohol winemaking has put this 1985 in the perfect spot today. The limited nature of these wines shouldn't be glossed over either, as Frei Joao is the only commercial winery in Portugal offering library releases from their caves going back this far.

    In its prime, an aged bottle poured around a table creates a collective excitement unlike anything else in the world of wine. I've never come across a better opportunity to see that convenient truth more so than today.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Bierzo Fever Pitch:  Raul Perez Red & White Allocation

    Bierzo Fever Pitch: Raul Perez Red & White Allocation

    Touring with the team at Bodegas Raul Perez was the ultimate masterclass on Bierzo terroir. I had never before witnessed such a diverse range of soils and grape varieties under one person's hands. Finishing the day at both of Raul's cellars and tasting each of the parcels we visited was an unbelievable experience. Walking away I was left in total awe of his execution from a vision he had many years ago to work with only the oldest vineyards and immediately shift to the most fastidious organic viticulture.

    The arrival of the Raul Perez wines into the US have garnered a lot of attention. Although offers in the past past have been wildly popular, things have changed a bit for the new release of both his whites and reds from Bierzo.

    The California allocation sold out in less than a few hours, and today I'm happy to provide the full range that has now arrived to us directly from Perez's U.S. importer's New York warehouse. Wines are all ready to ship now. With the Wine Advocate's Luis Gutiérrez fanning the flame on the first release of these new wines, the quantities are again very limited.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the game-changing wines of Bierzo's Raul Perez, covering old vine Mencia, Bastardo, Alicante Bouchet, Godello, and Albarińo. 


    Perez's natural focus endow his wines with an authenticity that's impossible to miss. As much as he follows the historic path of his ancestors (no herbicides, pesticides, or additives of any kind in the cellar), he's made waves with his 100% whole cluster fermentations and extra long macerations on skins. Raul completely redefines what Mencia is capable of in Bierzo. And, for his whites, he now owns the mineral-driven category within Spain, showing depth and the nuance I've come to expect from elite Chablis and Côte de Beaune Chardonnay.

    Tempering the impact of the heat and sun has always been the area of largest concern in the more continental Spanish zones. Working with high elevation vineyards and old vines is not enough to ensure grace, subtlety, and lift are the overriding characteristics when the wine is finally poured. It's the attentive, thoughtful approach to viticulture and minimal intervention in the cellar that Perez has come to trust as the root of success. In doing so, he's become recognized only recently as a master of his craft.

    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. And just last week Decanter magazine asked, "is this the world's best winemaker?" 

    Ultreia Saint Jacques is sourced from 5 hectares Mencia vines planted between 1900-1940 on clay soils. Supplemented by small portions of Bastardo (Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouchet). Macerations go as far as 2-5 months. Aged in older wood ranging in sizes: 225L, 500L, foudre, and cement. 

    Ultreia Tinto is sourced from 3 hectares of mainly Mencia planted in two villages, one on clay and the other on slate. Supplemented by small portions of Bastardo (Trousseau), Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouchet). Doña Blanco, and Palomino. Aging in neutral 228-liter barrels.


    Ultreia Godello is sourced from vines throughout Raul's village of Valtuille de Abajo, planted on clay and alluvial stones. Fermented and aged in neutral foudre.

    Ultreia La Claudrina comes from a 0.3 hecatre parcel of Godello planted on sandy soils in Valtuille de Abajo. Fermented in one 1,500L foudre and aged for 1-2 years under flor, which develops starting in the spring after harvest.

    Atalier
     comes from two parcels of own-rooted, pre-phylloxera Albariño vines in the Cambados area of the Salnés valley, located in the southern portion on the northwest tip of Spain. Blocked malo and aged in large neutral foudre. 

    Encinas is an exciting joint venture between Raul Perez and Crozes-Hermitage's Antoine Graillot. Because Mencia amd Syrah share similar qualities, the plan here was to incorporate Antoine's cement fermentation protocol working with the Bierzo terroir. Interestingly, Mencia was a little more reductive than Syrah on first go around, and so in this 2nd vintage the decision was made to move the wine to large neutral wood after initial fermentation and aging in cement.

    La Vitoriana comes from a 1.8 hectare vineyard of the same name, planted with Mencia in 1890 on a mix of sand (upper slope) and clay (bottom slope). Supplemented by small portions of Bastardo (Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouchet) and Doña Blanca and Palomino. Whole cluster fermented in large oak vats, followed by a 60-90 day maceration, then one year of aging in neutral 225 and 500L barrels.

    El Rapolao comes from a 1.5ha plot of Mencia with small amounts of Bastardo (Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouchet) planted on clay at 550m elevation. Whole cluster fermented and aged for one year in neutral 500l barrels. 


    La del Vivo comes from 1.5 hectares - a mix Godello and Doña Blanca from two vineyards, La Poulosa (1940, clay) and Las Villegas (1925, sand). 80% of grapes are pressed and fermented in 500 and 700-L neutral barrels. The remaining 20% of grapes ferment on their skins in clay amphorae and remains untouched for one year. The two parts are then blended together and bottled. 

    Ultreia de Valtuille is sourced from 1.7 hectares of vines planted in the late 1800's. Sitting at nearly 600 meters above sea level on sandy soils these old vines produce what comes across as Raul's most delicate and deeply layered wine. Incredible concentration is met with finesse and a cool-fruit quality that sandy soils are often associated with.Maceration can go as long as 90 days on skins, and aging also is in neutral French barrels. Here the blend is almost identical to the above, but tiny amounts of Godello has replaced Palomino. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Wine Yourself:  Envínate's Canary Island & Ribeira Sacra Gems

    Wine Yourself: Envínate's Canary Island & Ribeira Sacra Gems

    As you can imagine, visiting with Envinate in Tenerife in the Canary Islands and then Ribeira Sacra a few days later was about as good as it gets on the wine route. In both terroirs, Roberto Santana and Alfonso Torrente have found the most dramatic old vine parcels, and since they founded Envinate in 2005 they've proven to the world that we all need to raise our own bars of expectation from these destinations. Now, the level of precision and finesse capable in these two historic regions is clearly cemented.

    Today, I'm happy to offer Envinate's 2017 and 2016 lineup.

    The story behind Envínate traverses through mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. The jaw-dropping scenery took on new form for me as I scrambled up ancient terraces in mainland Spain and in Tenerife, located off the southwest coast of Morocco. Favoring understated, fresh, and mineral-driven wines from ancient parcels, this project encapsulates the thrill of today's Spain. (Videos can be found later this afternoon on our Instagram Stories account @kogodwinemerchant)

    Envínate translates to Wine Yourself, and was the creation of four friends who were studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante in 2005. Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez slowly began consulting with wineries after college, in the process discovering forgotten sites that brought with them old vines, but treacherous terrain. The previous generation saw the challenge as insurmountable, but this gang of four knew the treasured opportunity that presented itself. 

    There's no doubt, it's the sensitive approach to harvest and winemaking that ultimately defines the success of the four. There are no chemicals used in the vineyards and clusters are hand-harvested. In the cuverie grapes are foot-trodden in small bins and fermentation occurs spontaneously from native yeasts on the skins. Wines are raised in old oak barrels and sulphur is only used when necessary at bottling. Each step Envínate takes is to ensure site-specificity is the focus in the bottle.

    For me, the wines have an immediacy and joy to them that's so rare to find from first sip to last. They are spicy, fresh, and saline-driven, never compromising the vivid fruitiness that is the foundation of the raw material.


    Albahra Tinto sources 30-yr-old vines from Albacete and Almansa, just south of Valencia near the coast. The soil is chalky with limestone and clay deposits. 100% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante-Bouchet).

    Benje Blanco sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. 100% Listan Blanco.

    Benje Tinto sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. Blend of 95% Listan Prieto, 5% Tintilla.

    Taganan Tinto comes from 100+ yr-old un-trained vines planted on the volcanic soil of the Canary Islands. Varieties planted here are a mix of Listan Negro, Listan Gaucho, Malvasia Negra, and others. at up to 30 meters in elevation perched steep above the Atlantic Ocean. Vines are farmed by Envinate as well as 15 different families. This northern coast of Tenerife sees a more temperate climate with strong coastal winds that are ideal to preserve freshness and verve. Fermented 30% whole cluster and aged in a combo of small tanks and used barrels.

    Palo Blanco comes 100+ yr-old braided Listan Blanco vines in Tenerife grown on volcanic sand. These are immediately pressed off their skins and aged in two Friulian 2500L oval foudres for 10 months. There is no malolactic fermentation here, and the saline quality of this wine is extra pronounced.

    Migan Tinto is comprised of 90-120-yr-old Listan Negro vines planted on volcanic sand and clay in Tenerife. Migan taps two parcels of cordon trenzado (braided vines) Listan Negro. 60% comes from the La Habanera plot (100% whole cluster ferment) on volcanic sand at the highest elevation in the area, and 40% comes from the older San Antonio plot (15% whole cluster), lower on the slope and with more clay. Aged in older 228 & 600L barrels.

    Lousas Parcela Camiño Novo comes from 70-yr-old Mencia (90%) and Garnacha (10%) grown on a combo of granite and slate in Ribeira Sacra. Parcela Camiño Novo is a southeast facing parcel that makes an amphitheater in the Amandi subzone of Ribeira Sacra. A much cooler site for this region, and gives wines that with levity, brightness, and superior cut and focus. Fermented 100% whole cluster and aged in used 300-L and 400-L barrels.

    Lousas Parcela Seoane comes from 80 yr-old Mencia vines in Ribeira Sacra. Seoane is a single parcel located in the Doade area of the Amandi subzone where the soils are strictly slate. The slate reverberates the heat collected during the day time, but also endows tremendous minerality, making this perhaps the most muscular and powerful wine of the group. Fermented 100% whole cluster and aged in used 500-L barrels.

    Parcela Margalagua (pictured above) translates to "Mother of Water" and is about as close to a coastal Jurassic Park environment as I could imagine. STEEP. Vines here are all own-rooted and over 100-yrs-old. Covered are many varieties inter-planted such as Listan Negro, Listan Prieto, Baboso, Negramoll, Malvasia Negra. This is the most elegant and incisive of the Envinate wines, with distinct citrus and salty inflections.
    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
  • Envínate!  The Full Halloween Release

    Envínate! The Full Halloween Release

    At this point, the small-batch wines produced by the Gang of Four behind Envínate needs little introduction. Halloween marks an appropriate day to introduce the 2017 release that just arrived this morning, as the diversity of colors, flavors, and mystery in each bottle is, the say the least, quite freaking unique.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Envínate release, along with a small segment of 2016 wines.

    The story behind Envínate traverses through Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands.Favoring understated, fresh, and mineral-driven wines from ancient parcels, this project encapsulates the thrill of today's Spain.

    Envínate translates to Wine Yourself, and was the creation of four friends who were studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante in 2005. Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez slowly began consulting with wineries after college, in the process discovering forgotten sites that brought with them old vines, but treacherous terrain. The previous generation saw the challenge as insurmountable, but this gang of four knew the treasured opportunity that presented itself. 

    There's no doubt that these old vines throughout jaw-dropping scenery in Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands brings a unique voice to each wine. However, it's the sensitive approach to harvest and winemaking that ultimates define the success of the four. There are no chemicals used in the vineyards and clusters are hand-harvested. In the cuverie grapes are foot-trodden in small bins and fermentation occurs spontaneously from native yeasts on the skins. Wines are raised in old oak barrels and sulphur is only used when necessary at bottling. Each step Envínate takes is to ensure site-specificity is the focus in the bottle.

    For me, the wines have an immediacy and joy to them that's so rare to find from first sip to last. They are spicy, fresh, and saline-driven, never compromising the vivid fruitiness that is the foundation of the raw material.


    Albahra Tinto sources 30-yr-old vines from Albacete and Almansa, just south of Valencia near the coast. The soil is chalky with limestone and clay deposits. 100% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante-Bouchet).

    Benje Blanco sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. 100% Listan Blanco.

    Benje Tinto sources 70-105 yr-old vines from volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. Blend of 95% Listan Prieto, 5% Tintilla.

    Vidueño de Santiago del Teide is comprised of 50% Listan Prieto and 50% Listan Blanco from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The parcel is a minuscule .15 hectare of own-rooted, un-trained 90-yr-old vines. The co-planted parcel is destemmed and macerated for 15 days in open tubs, then transferred to neutral French barriques and aged for 8 months. As you would imagine from the equal parts red and white this is exceptionally high toned in character, vibrant, and filled with smoky volcanic strawberry-inflected fruit.

    Taganan Blanco comes from 100+ yr-old un-trained vines planted on the volcanic soil of the Canary Islands. Varieties planted here are a mix of Albillo Criollo, Marmajuelo, Gual, Malvasia at up to 300 meters in elevation perched steep above the Atlantic Ocean. Vines are farmed by Envinate as well as 15 different families. This northern coast of Tenerife sees a more temperate climate with strong coastal winds that are ideal to ripen these white varieties slowly, maintaining great acidity. Fermented and aged in small tanks and used barrels for 8 months. Citrus and orchard fruit combines with underlying nutty notes full of salinity and a lingering sea salt finish.

    Misturado de Abeleda Ribeira Sacra is a field blend of 100+ yr old vines of Mencía, Mouratón, Caiño, Godello, Dona Blanca, and Palomino. Grown on porous slate and gneiss at 650 meters in elevation. Only 150 6-packs were produced. This 70/30 red to white blend was co-fermented in open top plastic vessels and then transferred to 300 and 400-liter neutral French barrels for 11 months aging.

    Viña de Aldea (village wine) sources minimum 60-year-old Mencia vines on various slate soils in Ribeira Sacra at 400-600 feet in elevation. 
    Posted by Alexander Rosen