2013 Fritz Russian River Chardonnay, Sonoma, CA, $27.99/Sale $19.99: Fritz Winery is a must visit for anybody going to Healdsburg. Started in 1979, this winery was built completely underground, using all gravity flow methods. This 2013 Chardonnay is medium bodied and has a lush, silky mouthfeel containing expressive flavors of lemon, mango and almonds. A classic style from the Russian River Valley.
2014 Babcock Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, CA, $25.99/Sale $21.99: The prestigious James Beard Foundation once named Bryan Babcock to a list of “Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World,” right up Coaltrain’s alley, as we seek out small, family-owned wineries. This 2014 Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel and then sits on the “lees” in old barrels for 6-8 months, giving it a richness , but without adding an oakiness to the wine. They call it “Baby Cream,” and it has rip roaring fruit and a finish that goes on and on.
2013 Babcock Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, CA, $29.99/Sale $24.99: Allow this young Pinot Noir to breathe for a while (either through decanting or opening 60 minutes ahead of drinking) and notice the oak coming together with the fruit. Robert Parker loves this reasonably-priced Pinot! 91 pts, Wine Advocate
2013 Katherine Goldschmidt Crazy Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA, $19.99/Sale $18.49: 2013 was one of the best vintages in 30 years from the Alexander Valley, showing mature and complex flavors and fully ripened tannins. Aromas of blueberry lead to an intense and generous palate with plenty of fresh dark fruit and chocolate flavors and a long, supple, toasty oak finish. 96 pts, San Francisco International Wine Competition
2013 Fritz Dry Creek Zinfandel, Sonoma, CA, $22.99/Sale $19.99: What’s not to like about Zinfandel from Dry Creek? Generally lower in alcohol (this one’s 14.5%) and a little more elegant in style, this lighter style of Zin shows wonderful flavors of red cherry, black currant, raspberry, and cocoa. This wine should age beautifully (trust us, Zinfandel can age!).
2013 Vallin Syrah, Santa Barbara, CA, $26.99/Sale $24.99: Love of Syrah from the Northern Rhone was the pulse that launched this label from idea, to first release in 2012, to nationwide restaurant bottle list superstar. Iron and mineral components go with plenty of pepper, garrigue, smoked meats and dark fruits. Juicy, lively and textured, this is a beautiful Syrah that delivers both intellectual and hedonistic pleasure. 91 pts, The Wine Advocate
2014 Sass Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, OR, $18.99/Sale $16.99: Pinot Gris almost always has varietal characteristics of green apple, green pear, stone fruit and minerality. This wine has all that and more; gorgeous cooler-climate fruit, a bit of “wet stone” and soft citrus. But the finish is what is truly captivating – a bright creaminess/fresh/floral burst, and a touch of spice at the end. It is equal parts clean and refreshing, yet elegant, soft and fun.
2014 Les Cousins Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR, $34.99/Sale $26.99: Here’s a blink-and-it-is-gone Pinot. Les Cousins is a “value” drinker from Beaux Frères, one of Oregon’s most prestigious wineries owned by a very good friend of ours, Mike Etzel (and the renowned wine critic Robert Parker). An absolute character is our trade, Etzel has taken some of his very expensive Beaux Frères juice and bottled it (thank goodness) into this wonderful, reasonably priced Pinot. Fragrant and floral aromas lead to light, but rich fruit, with a lively finish. You are going to want to get some of this before it’s gone!
2012 Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, WA, $29.99/Sale $26.99: We are looking forward to having the Hedges winemaker, Sarah Hedges Godehart, here for the 26th Annual Wine Festival of Colorado Springs this coming March 2-4. The flagship wine of the Estate, this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend shows notes of cigar box and herbs on the bouquet. It’s supple in feel, with well-balanced dark-fruit flavors and tart acidity that draws out the finish. While the wine is complex, it is very approachable. Great with food now, but will age beautifully.
2013 Evening Land Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir, $39.99/Sale $29.99: Two great winemakers, Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman, have taken several outstanding vineyards, combined them with their hands-off, vineyard-focused approach to produce a wine with brilliant purity and transparency, while still retaining the fresh fruit and character of classic Oregonian Pinot Noir: cool crushed cherries, cherry cola, perfectly balanced structure, hints of loamy earth and truffles, a touch of spice and wet stones and roses in the back of the nose. Amazing value at this sale price.
2013 Clos du Bois Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA, $22.99/Sale $19.99: Dark ruby in color, this wine opens with aromas of wild cherry, espresso, mocha, and black licorice followed by flavors of cassis and black cherry. The wine has structured tannins, a full body, and a long, silky finish.
2014 Château Camarsac Blanc, Bordeaux, $13.99/Sale $11.99: Bordeaux Supérieur is often perceived as somewhat of a catch-all appellation, but Château de Camarsac is a perfect example of why it is worthwhile to seek out the families and properties that make up the jewels of this appellation. This Bordeaux Blanc is all about fresh fruit and refreshing acidity. Crisp citrus, green apples and a touch of apricot give a fruitiness contained with a steel and mineral texture. It is full of zip, while keeping a riper, fruity character. 90 pts/Best Buy, Wine Enthusiast
2014 Domaine Frantz Chagnoleau Mâcon-Villages, Bourgogne, $19.99/Sale $17.99: A dynamic duo, this couple trained under two of the most prominent winemaking figures in Burgundy. Together they dreamt of a place in the south– where the sun was a touch warmer and cicadas would sound. Here in the Macon, they make very small production Chardonnay. While giving opulence of fruit, it doesn’t waiver from its mineral-driven birthplace in the old world. A stunning example from this area that is made with Biodynamic principles and soul.
2014 François Crochet Exils Silex Sancerre, $29.99/Sale $27.99: Francois Crochet is incredibly meticulous, compounded with genuine curiosity. So much so, he has bottled up his Sauvignon Blanc according to micro-parcels of varying soils. Here, you have a wine built upon silex– a flinty limestone that produces the most linear, cut expression of his line. This wine boasts elegance, refinement and grace in a way that doesn’t compare to his others. This is his most sought after wine. Colorado only received 5 cases total!
2014 Château de Brézé Clos du Midi, Saumur, Loire, $20.99/Sale $18.99: The legendary wines of the Château de Brézé, lauded in the classical literature of the 15th century by King René of Anjou, were served at all the royal courts of Europe. At the moment, the wines are relatively inexpensive, but that will change soon as the word starts to get out on these once forgotten glories of French wine. This 100% certified organic Chenin Blanc has the freshness of a Sancerre, the soft, light richness of Chablis, and the charm of Chenin. Off dry, with flavors of lemon and honey, crisp acidity and fresh fruitiness.
2013 Val de Mer Chablis, Bourgogne, $27.99/Sale $24.99: Val de Mer, which means “Valley of the Sea” (a reference to the Chablis region’s geological beginnings as an ancient seabed) is a thrilling label founded by Patrick Piuze. It hails from the left bank of the Serein River, where the wines tend to show more fruit yet maintain a distinctly Kimmeridgian minerality that can only be Chablis. With its apple and lemon notes, this slightly softer wine shows a pop of bright acidity along the mid-palate that leads to a crisp, mineral finish.
2014 Fernaud & Laurent Pillot Chassagne Montrachet, Bourgogne, $54.99/Sale $50.99: We love this producer – small (total of 4 acres), family-owned, 5th generation! This 100% Chardonnay from Burgundy is drinking beautifully right now. It’s charming and profound, exhibiting lots of stone fruits – peaches and pears – and rich in floral notes. It shows great balance. Just as an FYI, you best stock up on these ‘14’s, as ‘15’s are going to be much more expensive (a classic vintage) and the ‘16’s are going to be practically non-existent (hail!).
2014 Barou Marsanne, Rhone, $16.99/Sale $14.99: From the Northern Rhone Valley and the granite soils of a self sustaining farm dating back to 1928, this 100% Marsanne spends 10-12 hours on the skins giving beautiful texture and weight to this wine. Bottled after 9 months in neutral oak, it shows lifted aromatics of white flowers and fresh apricots. Organic!
2014 Bouzereau Aligote, Bourgogne, $21.99/Sale $19.99: A grape that is finally getting its moment to shine, Aligote is the red-headed stepchild of Burgundy–the unacknowledged ‘other’ white grape. Often reserved for the winemakers as wine for themselves, hipsters and somms alike have finally paused to ask…”Who are you?” Aligote is bright, lemony and refreshing. From a winemaker like Michel Bouzereau, it has a remarkable amount of texture, body and a note of cream on the palate. Many mistake this for his Meursault! A gorgeous wine that will pair with halibut, risottos or buttered scallops.
2015 Puech-Haut Prestige Rouge, Languedoc, $22.99/Sale $19.99: Jeb Dunnuck writes, “Easily one of the top estates in the Languedoc (if not southern France), Chateau Puech-Haut lies just outside the village of Saint-Drezery and produces a number of cuvees, with their entry level efforts representing superb values, and their top cuvees being able to stand toe to toe with the greatest wines in the world.” The Puech-Haut Rosé is one of our favorites year in-year out. Their Prestige Rouge, a Grenache/Syrah blend, is a smooth, dense and powerful wine capturing the warm climate of the Mediterranean with all its floral aromatics of, dark fruit, spice, cracked pepper and garrigue. 91pts, Wine Advocate
2015 Garrelière Gamay Sans Tra La La, Loire, $27.99/Sale $24.99: Gamay Sans Tra La La means “Gamay without the BS.” Gamay is known for being light and fruity, yet this wine presents a sweet, meatiness on the nose that gently yields to softer, perfumey notes that, while floral and feminine, also possess an earthiness that smells slightly of fern and pine forest. The nose develops to reveal layers of red fruit, particularly sun-ripened raspberry, and soft tannins provide a pleasant spine to support the otherwise slightly under-ripe red fruit on the palate. After several sips, the wine mellows out to offer an easy-drinking, yet slightly bolder presentation of Gamay. The lingering finish leaves the palate satisfied after every sip. Pair this wine with any tomato-based red sauce, pork tenderloin, and BBQ (or drink it by itself – without the “BS”). Overall impression: this is a geeky wine – a treat for the developed palate and a pleasant adventure for new wine-lovers alike.
2012 La Sughere di Frassinello Maremma, Toscana: $26.99/Sale $24.99: Le Sughere di Frassinello by Castellare is the second label of the project Rocca di Frassinello; a red wine from the French-Italian taste that combines the ruggedness and the fullness of Sangiovese, with the softness and the elegance of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – a perfect combination of fruit and rusticity. This Old World-style wine is intense and round, with supple tannins and a medium-bodied, sleek style supported by firm yet well-integrated tannins. Ideal with all roasts, grills, barbecues, and with cheeses as well, this wine is drinking beautifully now. Peggy loves it!
2014 Perrini Negroamaro, Puglia, $15.99/Sale $13.99: This comes from a 10 hectare vineyard grown entirely to organic Negroamaro vines that the Perrini family has tended for generations. Located in a cooler, higher altitude district of Salento, the certified organic vineyard yields a wine of surprising lift and vibrancy, compared to the typical southern Italian red. Rich, dark flavors with a touch of anise.
2013 Pala Monica, I Fiori, Sardegna, $18.99/Sale $16.99: Made from the Monica grape, this Sardinian red shows some earth on the nose and a touch of anise on the palate. It is dry, medium-bodied and features refreshing acidity. We’d pair this with mushroom risotto or pizza with olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Delicious!
2014 Cascina di Cornia Sangiovese Rosso di Toscano Box Wine, Toscana, $39.99/Sale $35.99: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know! Coaltrain, Colorado Springs’ finest wine shop…featuring a box wine. But look at this wine – only biodynamic practices are used in the vineyards, a very expensive method of farming. Any wine from these vines would be entitled to be labeled Chianti Classico, but Antoine Luginbuhl (owner/winemaker) has extremely high standards for what goes into his bottles. So he selects only the very best lots for Chianti Classico, leaving the rest to be called simply Rosso Toscano and puts the wine in a very practical box! 100% Sangiovese, Antoine considers this one of the best box wines in the world.
2013 Elio Sandri Nebbiolo, Langhe, $24.99/Sale $22.99: He is the man you never knew existed. He makes less than 900 cases for his entire production in Monferatto. Here, the vineyards have a wild, untamed, near neglected appearance. But don’t let it fool you. It is with utmost intention that he give his vines a gentle distance to build their own defenses and character with no chemical pesticides to help them along the way. This Nebbiolo reflects his craft, his passion. It sees only 8 months in used barrel and punches far above its weight and expectations. A phenomenal wine for pasta night.
2013 Talenti Rosso di Montalcino, Toscana, $27.99/Sale $24.99: For many in Montalcino, they have vineyards that will always comprise their ‘Rosso’, while their best fruit goes into their ‘Brunello.’ Talenti does this a bit differently. All his fruit comes from one vineyard. Each year, he assesses his fruit as it comes in to determine how to bottle it. In 2013, he decided to make more stunning Rosso than decent Brunello, considering the challenges of the vintage. The result? An amazing value here that actually lives up to the overused and often inaccurate description of a ‘baby Brunello’. Though it hardly gets the long aging of Brunello, it wears the sandalwood, morello cherry, amaro haunting tones of its more aspirational partner.
2014 Cune Monopole, Rioja: $15.99/Sale $12.99: Spain’s white wines have experienced a surge in quality that is nothing short of breathtaking, and this 100% Viura is a shining example. What makes the Monopole such a total knockout is the tremendous sense of “coiled energy in a bottle,” which literally jumps out at you with the first enlivening sip. Monopole has all the lift and energy you love in an Albariño, with the added bonus of a succulent middle of juicy peach/melon fruit. This is an easy-drinking, tank aged wine priced just right – especially for Rioja.
2013 Luzon Petite Verdot, Jumilla, $11.99/Sale $9.99: The Luzon is comprised of about 90% Petit Verdot – a Bordeaux varietal not usually found on it own – making it a geeky gem for anyone interested in red wine. A medley of dark berries, licorice, and black pepper dominate the nose (and the palate on first taste) but eventually give way to ripe, juicy, dark cherry flavors. This wine spends 4 months in mixed French and American oak, which adds a pleasant roundness to the firm tannins that linger on the finish. Pair with traditional Spanish paella, tapas, grilled lamb or barbecue – this is a great Zin alternative; or enjoy it on its own for a cozy family-night-in playing board games by the fire.
2013 Mas Donis Barrica Montsant, $12.99/Sale $10.99: Coming from just outside the terraced Spanish region of Priorat, the Mas Donis Barrica is a fresh-faced expression of Grenache and Syrah, showing nice complexity for an inexpensive wine. The nose opens with dark, plumy fruit, but soon yields to more playful notes of wild berry and spice. The palate is the juicy texture of a ripe, red plum commingled, again, with berries and a pleasant accent of soft herbs. Not overblown, as some wines from this area are, this is full-bodied with velvety, rolling tannins and a lasting finish. Pair with a grill, classic rock, and Monday Night Football, or enjoy with a casual lunch on the patio.
2014 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris, Pfalz, $13.99/Sale $11.99: We love to feature wines being poured by the glass at some of our local restaurants. This one is being featured at the Mona Lisa and Eidelweiss, and we see why. Made by Ernst Loosen, the wine throws slight effervescence, is Gruner Veltliner-esque in style (a favorite of ours from Austria), fresh, light and balanced with wonderful acidity. A wonderful fall wine.
2014 Forefathers Wax Eye Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $17.99/Sale $ 15.99: Ah…g’day mate! If you haven’t made it down to New Zealand, we highly recommend it! The scenery is beautiful, the climate is similar to that of Colorado, the people can’t be any nicer, and best of all, there’s lots of fun wine coming from that part of the world. Paired with their famous lamb and seafood, New Zealand is a traveler’s dream. This zesty 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is from a classic Marlborough vintage. The fruit is a little more tropical than usual and shows some guava and passion fruit with lemon and lime. There’s an intense mouthfeel with fresh fig and pepper wrapped in a creamy texture (some lees aging). A refreshing beauty!
2009 DiamAndes de Uco Gran Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, $36.99/Sale $32.99: DiamAndes’ Bruno LaPlane poured this wine in our recently completed tasting room, and it was by far the favorite of the evening. Beautiful dark, rich flavors lead to a smooth and elegant mouthfeel. Argentina has certainly made a name for Malbec, especially this region of Mendoza.
2013 Norton Privada, Mendoza, $24.99/Sale $20.99: A Bordeaux blend (40% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot) that rises above most others and at a price that is really affordable. With concentrated dark plum, kirsch, mineral and dark chocolate flavors that glide over the palate, this is smooth, long and lush, presenting a core of sweet spice and creamy notes that fill the rich and powerful finish. An elegant wine. 93 pts, Wine Spectator
Mercat Brut Rosé Cava, Penedès, $13.99: Those familiar with Barcelona’s “Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, the market area where the locals gather to shop, eat and drink, will understand why they wanted this Brut Rosé to reflect that lifestyle – showing the same spirit of tradition, fun and frivolity. We love Spanish Cavas, great values made in the méthod champenoise, and this is a beautiful example. Primarily Macabeo and Xarello, this refreshing sparkler bursts with citrus, strawberry and brioche flavors balanced with great mineral acidity and fine bubbles. Pop open a bottle!