The 2021 Newsletter - Volume 2 - Is Here
WINES OF THE MONTH
2017 Bodegas Luzón Monastrell
Jumilla, Spain · $13.99 | Sale $11.99
Bodegas Luzón has been making wine since 1841 and continues to be one of the main producers of quality wine in Jumilla. Jumilla is located in the southeast of Spain in the region of Murcia. The region is arid with long hot summers and cold winters with sandy, good draining limestone soils which are perfect for vines. One of the varietals Bodegas Luzon excels with is Monastrell. Known in France as Mourvèdre, this grape produces bold dark fruit flavors with a slight smoky character. The 2017 Luzón Monastrell is full of plum and dark berry tones on the nose. The flavors are rich with layers of blackberry and black cherry with hints of spice, smoke and a warm finish. Perfect for any backyard barbecue this summer. A sure crowd pleaser! 90 points + #19 Top 100 Best Buys for 2020 | Wine Enthusiast
2019 Meu Ribeiro Treixadura
Ribeiro, Spain · $14.99 | Sale $11.99
Back in 1968, a group of visionary people dared to think differently from the usual wine cellars at that time, and prioritized the recovery of the historical grape varieties of Galicia, including Loureira, Godello, Albariño and Treixadura. Treixadura, which is often used as a blending grape in northwestern Spain and the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, shows its full potential in this vibrant wine. It has an elegant and complex aroma that grows in the glass, developing notes of white fruit, citrus skin and sweet spices. On the palate, it is broad, balanced, and persistent, with a very good body and a silky touch. This lively wine harmonizes with all kinds of fish and seafood, and also pairs well with white meats. "This is just gorgeous. Fresh and fruity with a beautifully weighted palate, displaying hints of stone fruit, melon, pink grapefruit and intriguing herbal characters, soft and fleshy on the finish with moderate acidity, some minerality and good length." 90 points | Wine & Spirits Magazine
2020 Pratsch Rosé
Niederösterreich, Austria · $13.99 | Sale $10.99
For young winemaker Stefan Pratsch, it's all about healthy soil and organic winemaking. Located less than an hour northeast of Vienna, Stefan has taken over his parents' winery, and is striving for sustainability and high-quality wines that inspire. This organic 100% rosé of Zweigelt fits that bill to a T. It is delicate and dry, featuring aromas and flavors of wild strawberries, peaches and pears, along with some savory notes backed by crisp, refreshing acidity. A touch of spritz gives a little tingle on the palate. It's summer in a glass! Organic.
Casa de Valor Brut Rosé Cava NV
Penedès, Spain · $15.99 | Sale $13.99
It's not every day you come across a 100% Pinot Noir Rosé Cava from Spain, but that is exactly what the folks at Casa de Valor have done, eschewing the traditional Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada grapes for this pretty bubbly. Fresh, crisp, and brimming with red fruit, this is just the ticket for Mother's Day brunch or any occasion. "...a charming, fruit forward, delicious Cava that has loads of cherry and strawberry fruit, just a touch of floral character, medium body, a juicy, vibrant texture, and a dry finish. It’s impeccably made and will be versatile on the table." 90 points | Jeb Dunnuck
2019 Titus Sauvignon Blanc
Napa, CA · $31.99 | Sale $27.99
Each year we are seeing more and more improvement in the quality of Sauvignon Blancs from Napa Valley. These days, winemakers are learning how to deal with the challenge of ever-increasing temperatures and are no longer just trying to imitate classic Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley in France. The Titus family has owned their 50-acre Napa estate since 1968, in a prime location at the base of Howell Mountain near St Helena. Their Sauvignon Blanc was fermented in stainless steel and aged for four months in neutral French oak. They also include about 5% Viognier, which is barrel-fermented then barrel-aged for four months in neutral French oak. The resulting wine features aromas of stone fruits, honeydew, jasmine and lilacs. Medium bodied with a round palate feel, good acidity and a long clean finish. This is quintessential Napa Sauvignon Blanc and belongs on your picnic table as the weather warms up.
2017 Alpha Omega Two² Chardonnay
Napa, CA · $27.99 | Sale $19.99
Alpha Omega is a boutique winery located on the Rutherford bench right in the heart of Napa Valley. They make highly-regarded Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at highly impressive prices. Fortunately for us they also have a second label called Two Squared. We were fortunate to get this outstanding deal on their 2017 Chardonnay. This is the same winemaking team that produces their flagship wines with the same attention to detail, but without the expense of excessive new French oak. The grapes are harvested from prime vineyards on Mt. Veeder and from the famed Los Olivos vineyard on the Napa side of Carneros. Twenty percent of the wine is fermented in French oak. The rest is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The result is a wine with just a kiss of oak and ready for immediate consumption. Polished and balanced like their premium wines with hints of white nectarines, fresh apples, acacia honey and pear. This is a wonderful bargain for lovers of California Chardonnay.
2015 Terre Rouge Syrah "Les Côtes de l’Ouest”
California · $23.99 | Sale $21.99
We often run out of superlatives when discussing the wines of Bill Easton. Zinfandels produced under his Easton label are among the best in Amador County and all of California. His Terre Rouge portfolio was created for Rhône varietals and consistently produces some of California's finest Syrahs. His premium Ascent Syrah has received several 100 point scores. Terre Rouge has been named one of the world’s Top 100 wineries for three straight years by Wine & Spirits Magazine. The accolades are never ending. Les Côtes de l’Ouest is his entry-level Syrah and comes primarily from granitic vineyards just west of Amador County in the Clement Hills, perfect for Syrah. In the tradition of Côte-Rôtie, he blends in 4% Viognier. A spicy, meaty bouquet with flavors of plums, blackberries, raspberries and rich fruit. We sold out of our 2014 allocation and have just received the 2015. Don't miss it! 90 points | Wine Enthusiast
2018 Birichino Scylla
California · $25.99 | Sale $20.99
The wine geeks at Coaltrain have a hard time resisting a good Homeric reference, thus we took a visit to our high school literature class when tasting the delicious Scylla blend from Birichino. According to Greek legend, Scylla and her counterpart Charybdis were two hazards that sailors encountered when navigating the straits between Sicily and the Italian mainland, the former being a rocky shoal that was represented as a six-headed sea serpent, the latter being a whirlpool rumored to swallow ships whole. It was said if you traveled to avoid one, you risked being overtaken by the other. We like to think of this wine as the “lesser of two evils,” or better yet a safe passage between the beasts. Two former Bonny Doon alumni focus the Birichino production on old vine plantings in the Santa Cruz mountains and Sierra Foothills, leaning on pre-phylloxera crops where possible. The acid and texture of Carignan are tempered by the fruit and generosity of Grenache, with a bit of Mourvèdre to remind us of the wild and gamey voyage we are undertaking. This wine is dark in the glass, light on the palate and thoroughly satisfying; it may very well leave you breathless and wanting more. 93 points | Wine Enthusiast
2016 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc
North Coast, CA · $28.99 | Sale $24.99
Started in 1993 by two Kansas City sommeliers, Tracey and John Skupny, Lang & Reed hangs its hat primarily on Cabernet Franc (with some Chenin Blanc in the mix). Having fallen under the sway of Cab Franc from the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, Tracey and John moved to Napa, and, working closely with grape growers in Napa Valley, Alexander Valley and Lake County, have found a wonderful expression of domestic Cab Franc that we have always enjoyed. "The 2016 vintage is a solid powerhouse, with aromatics typical of Cabernet Franc: berry fruit, floral and lightly herbaceous top notes. The flavors follow suit with more of a strawberry jam fruit impression that's countered with a hint of forest floor earthiness. Powerful, yet wrapped in gentle, balanced tannins, which help to keep the flavors lengthy and satisfying. Perfect for any grilled fare." 93 points | Wine Enthusiast
2018 Penfolds Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz
California · $51.99 | Sale $48.99
Penfolds is the iconic name in Australian wine. Their Grange bottling has been considered the southern hemisphere's greatest wine for over 50 years. In the 1990s they decide to expand into California and purchased some land in the Camatta Hills east of Paso Robles. There they planted Shiraz cuttings from two of their most famous vineyards, Magill and Kalimna. As they waited for the vines to mature, they sourced Cabernet Sauvignon from top vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. They have just released the first wines of their California project. Like their premium Australian wines, they use American oak, which imparts a subtle smoky nuance and gives their wines a distinctive house style that says "Penfolds" louder than "California." A noble first effort at the level of some of their top Aussie bottlings at a more affordable price. "It's a brassy move to indoctrinate Californian fruit with a strapping Aussie identity, in a Cab-Shiraz clearly fashioned to fit the Penfolds #39 mold. The addition of 22% Shiraz brings warmth and plum pudding generosity to the mid-palate, a warm embrace of firm red fruits that is both bold and cohesive. An arresting nose presents lifted spice notes - clove, allspice and nutmeg - along with a shaving of cedar wood, while the assertive oak influence and biting tannins speak with a boisterous Australian accent rather than a Californian drawl." 92 points | Decanter
2019 Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel
California · $29.99 | Sale $26.99
Morgan Twain-Peterson grew up making wine and nurturing a love of Zinfandel with his father Joel Peterson. Joel is a pioneer of old vine Zin and founded Ravenswood Winery in 1976. Joel expanded on the blueprint of Ridge Vineyards and sourced fruit from several old vine Zinfandel vineyards in and around Sonoma County. Morgan has continued this tradition and started the Bedrock Wine Co. on a shoestring in 2007. Since then, he has produced an assortment of highly-regarded Zins and other wines, mostly from old vineyards planted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The 2019 Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel comes primarily from fruit from the Bedrock (planted in 1888), Nervo (1896), and Sodini (1905) vineyards. Due to the Covid pandemic, there was less demand from restaurants for their higher-tier, single- vineyard bottlings and a significant amount of juice from some of California's most esteemed Zinfandel vineyards ended up in their regular old vine bottling, including Teldeschi, Pagani, Old Hill, and Enz. The result is arguably the best Old Vine cuvée they have ever made. Enjoyable now, it can improve with short term cellaring. The quintessential barbecue wine.
2019 Domaine du Vieux Collège Aligoté
Burgundy · $23.99 | Sale $20.99
When we think of white Burgundy, we think of Chardonnay, not the "other" white grape, Aligoté. Only 6% of Burgundy vineyards are planted with Aligoté. Related to the Chardonnay grape, Aligoté has flavors of apple, lemon and peach with aromas of white flowers backed by flinty minerality and bracing acidity. Eric Guyard, winemaker for Domaine du Vieux Collège outside of Marsannay, has been working with Aligoté for over 20 years. Guyard enjoys the freshness and crisp flavors of the grape. He says Aligoté is one of the best white wines for drinking in the summer, and we couldn't agree more. Although it is delightful on its own, it also pairs well with seafood, salads, Camembert and Brie. Added bonus: Domaine du Vieux Collège practices only organic winemaking. So take advantage of white wine from Burgundy at a fraction of the cost. This is one you’ll want to have stocked in your fridge! Organic.
2019 Christophe Patrice Chablis
Burgundy · $27.99 | Sale $23.99
Ever increasing temperatures have challenged the vignerons of Chablis in ways that a generation ago could not have been anticipated. The essence of Chablis is a lean crisp wine, usually unoaked and with great minerality. Chablis, being the northernmost region in Burgundy, has always been the coolest area. The times, however, are a-changing. In the last few vintages with very hot summers, we have seen a constant stream of lush, fruity ripe Chardonnays coming out of Chablis that belie the traditional style of the region. This transmogrification may be inevitable, but there are some winemakers that have so far bucked this trend. Enter Christophe Patrice. Most of his vines are located in side valleys of the Chablis appellation, not near the perfectly south facing slopes of the Grand Crus. This may explain the cooler temperatures that produce a classic Chablis. Tart Granny Smith apple with a hint of orange peel and crisp acidity. Dry minerally finish with a touch of flint. This is the real deal. Also check out their Premier Cru Beauregard; it too is classic Chablis.
2019 Vignoble du Rêveur "Pierres Sauvages"
Alsace · $25.99 | Sale $23.99
Mathieu Deiss has a name that is hard to escape in Alsace (not that anyone would want to). He plays a major role alongside his father Jean-Michel in the winemaking of his family estate, Domaine Marcel Deiss, considered one of the top wineries in Alsace. While he loves his work at the domaine, when he inherited a plot of vineyards from his maternal grandfather in 2013, he decided he wanted to try on a new "chapeau" (or "hat"), and thus Vignoble du Rêveur was born. First on the agenda was converting all his fields to organic and biodynamic farming, in tune with his rationalization that “this was the only viticultural mode throughout most of history!” Like his father, Mathieu loves a blend, and "Pierres Sauvages" deftly combines Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris with a surprise quarter of Pinot Noir to create a beautiful Alsatian white with complexity and acidity. The palate is soft and easy, with light floral notes and fresh fruit throughout. Certified organic and biodynamic.
Saint Cosme Little James' Basket Press NV
Rhône · $16.99 | Sale $14.99
Château de Saint Cosme is one of the leading estates in Gigondas and, for that matter, in all the Rhône Valley. Their single vineyard Gigondas can be quite expensive and highly sought after, but they also make an unusual house red called Little James' Basket Press. Half of this 100% Grenache wine comes from the previous vintage, in this case 2019. The remainder is from a solera (a blend of vintages) dating back to 1999. From Robert Parker, "A pure Grenache, it comes across as a chunky, beefy, bistro-styled red that offers plenty of up-front appeal in a direct, exuberant manner." This has always been one of the great values in Rhône wine and this bottling is one of their best.
Garo'Vin Métisse #1
Loire · $28.99 | Sale $26.99
No, we didn't forget to list the vintage on this new wine from Cédric Garreau. A man who thinks for himself, Cédric follows his own path in a region entrenched in tradition. After several years of making village-level Cabernet and conventional Anjou wines using Cabernet Franc, this young craftsman decided to combine his multiple micro-terroirs into one delicious blend ("métisse") made up of 2/3 Cabernet Franc and 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are picked separately, beginning with the Cab Franc, and the Cab Sauv is added to the tank approximately three weeks later to allow them to co-ferment. Cédric utilizes natural winemaking techniques, often enlisting cast-off winemaking equipment deemed "old-fashioned" by others in the area, and adds no sulfates and only native yeasts. The dark fruits create a wine of structure and interest with a bit of the Anjou funk that Cabernet Franc fans appreciate. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, a great wine to try with your next meal. Organic.
DOMAINE DE MONTCY
The Loire River is the longest river in France stretching from the Massif Central and traveling over 600 miles until it empties into the Atlantic Ocean, just south of Brittany. Along the way, there is a myriad of climatic zones, and because it is in France, a myriad of wine regions. Cheverny is a bit under the radar compared to more famous appellations like Sancerre and Vouvray, but that often means there is greater value to be had. The Loire River heads almost due north through Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, and then makes a near horseshoe turn at Orléans and veers southwest. The first appellation encountered on the south side of the river is Cheverny. Here the primary grape grown is Sauvignon Blanc, but unlike Sancerre it must be a blend. Several other varietals are permitted, but the current trend is to blend with Chardonnay. The red wines are primarily a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, although other varietals such as Malbec (locally known as Côt) and Cabernet Franc are permitted. The Domaine de Montcy is a small biodynamically-farmed and Demeter certified estate in Cheverny. Their total production of about 4,000 cases belies the fact that they make six different wines, two of which we are featuring.
2019 Domaine de Montcy Cheverny Blanc · $23.99 | Sale $21.99
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc (85%) and Chardonnay (15%) all fermented and aged in stainless steel. The resulting wine is less crisp and steely than Sancerre, but that is only a matter of degree. The Chardonnay adds just a touch of richness and elegance to go along with the subtle flavors of peach, apple and acacia. Perfect accompaniment to seafood and light cheese plates. This is a wonderful affordable summer sipper.
2018 Domaine de Montcy Cheverny Rouge · $23.99 | Sale $21.99
Composed of 60% Pinot Noir, 35% Gamay and 5% Côt. Another delightful summer sipper, this is a wine for consumption not for analysis and atomization. Cherry, pomegranate and rose with a hint of earthiness. Perfect for lighter items from the grill. These wines are well worth checking out. Organic, biodynamic, natural wine.
2018 Andrea Felici Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
Marche · $21.99 | Sale $17.99
No one is more passionate about Verdicchio than Leopardo Felici and his son, Andrea. You can see it in the meticulously cared-for vines at the foot of Mount San Vicino in Apiro. Everything is done by hand, pruned excessively and all organic. No oak is used here, only stainless steel and concrete vats. The Felicis prefer to not intervene in the winemaking process and keep it as natural as possible. They only make two wines: a young vine Verdicchio and a lees-aged old vine Verdicchio. This is the younger wine and is a blend of fruit from 10 to 40-year-old vines. It is aged on the skin for a few days and on the lees for three months to produce richness and texture. On the nose, there are bright floral aromas with notes of lemon zest. The palate is full of orchard fruits with accents of citrus, minerality and some salinity. This is delicious young, but if you have the patience this wine will age beautifully over the next few years. Organic. 93 points | Vinous
2018 Paternoster Volcanico Falanghina
Basilicata · $24.99 | Sale $21.99
From the slopes of the extinct Mt. Vulture volcano comes this lively white wine that is perfect for summer feasts. Treading a middle ground between the very tangy version and the ripest of Falanghinas, the Paternoster delivers the generosity of fruit one expects from Southern Italy, tempered by a bright and savory quality that reflects its terroir. Five months on the lees in stainless steel tanks gives the juice time to settle and round into a perfectly-balanced companion for scallops or ceviche. Organic. "Aromas of cooked lemons and sliced apples follow through to a full body with lemon-peel flavor and a hint of lavender. Fruity finish." 90 points | James Suckling
2016 Poggio Bonelli Chianti Classico
Toscana · $21.99 | Sale $16.99
Poggio Bonelli is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region in Castelnuovo Berardenga. This is a large estate covering nearly 2,000 acres of which approximately 200 acres are planted to vines. They have been making wine here for over 400 years. From the great 2016 vintage, the blend is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot all sustainably farmed. After fermentation, the wine is primarily aged in used French barriques. Dark ripe fruit of black cherry combines with herbs and a hint of vanilla from the oak. This is a wonderful value in classic Chianti from one of the finest regions in Tuscany. "Here's a great, easy-drinking wine from beautiful Tuscany. The 2016 Chianti Classico is a full and generous wine from a classic vintage. The wine is streamlined and elegant, but this Sangiovese-based red wine has intense fruit and oak spice in equal measure." 91 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2016 Tenuta Vitalonga Elcione
Umbria · $25.99 | Sale $22.99
The historical Etruscan roots of this area near Orvieto, on the border of Umbria and Tuscany, are exhibited throughout the beautiful Vitalonga estate. Shells and fossils can be found in the vineyards, and truffle hunting is popular under the massive oaks that populate the surrounding forests. Certified organic since 2018, the property adheres religiously to a philosophy of "Projectus Viticultura," which it defines as "the awareness of the need for a renewed relationship with the environment." The Maravalle family sees themselves and their wine and olive oil production, as well as the hospitality element of the estate, as stewards for one another and their community. Their Elcione bottling combines Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Sangiovese, lending an Umbrian lift to the Bordeaux grapes. This wine shows dark and inky in the glass, with a gorgeous mouth-filling texture that will please any lover of Super Tuscans. A soft grip on the finish completes the package—this is a lot of wine for the money. Organic. 92 points | James Suckling
Cerbaiona Rosso VDT NV
Toscana · $22.99 | Sale $19.99
This is not your typical Tuscan wine. Cerbaiona is one of Montalcino’s top estates. Their Brunello regularly goes for prices approaching $200 a bottle, if you can find it. That's what makes this wine so exciting. Winemaker Matthew Fioretti is always searching for new ways to make wine. Aside from Brunello and a Rosso di Montalcino, he makes this unique wine using Sangiovese sourced from his estate and some of his neighbors'. In the past, he has experimented with adding a little Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend. For this bottling, 90% of the fruit is Sangiovese from the 2017 vintage. The remaining 10% is Pinot Noir from the 2018 vintage sourced from a small vineyard north of Florence and subsequently aged in French oak barriques. The result is a non-vintage wine that follows none of the rules of the region and can only be classified as Vino da Tavola. Let the wine breathe for a while or you can even decant it. The brightness of the Sangiovese shines through, but there is a softness and complexity from the Pinot Noir. Black cherry, currants, blackberries, violet, tar and tobacco are all nuances that eventually unfold. This is a unique wine well worth the exploration.
2016 Buglioni Valpolicella Superiore
Veneto · $20.99 | Sale $18.99
In 1993, when Alfredo Buglioni bought his farmhouse and four hectares of vineyards in Valpolicella, he never intended to become a winemaker. When he and son Mariano decided to get serious about producing quality wines and offered their first range of wines in 2004, the local agents and exporters dismissed their efforts as a short-lived "hobby." To get their juice into people's glasses, they opened Osteria del Bugiardo in the center of Verona. The wine bar was an instant hit that put Buglioni on the map! Now the estate is known not only for its excellent wines, but also their five restaurants that showcase them. The usual suspects of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina play in this rendition of Valpolicella Superiore, but this bottling takes things a step further with the addition of some dried grapes to the mix, giving it more of a Ripasso character without the price tag. Spicy and satisfying, this full-flavored Valpolicella would be a fantastic introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the blend.
North of Barolo, not far from Lake Maggiore, in a region known as Alto Piemonte sits the appellation of Colline Novaresi. Founded only in 1994, there are even now only about 500 acres of vineyards. Because it is closer to the Alps, it is a cooler region than Barolo and Barbaresco to the south, and the wines are less rich and more elegant.Here, Nebbiolo (locally known as Spanna) is the primary varietal, although several others, as we shall see, are cultivated as well. Barbaglia is a small family-owned winery with about 10 acres of vineyards, but they still manage to make a variety of unique and interesting wines. The family's immersion into their local traditions is one of the reasons that the world of wine is so endlessly fascinating.
2018 Barbaglia Uva Rara, Colline Novaresi | Piemonte · $29.99 | Sale $22.99
Uva Rara is known locally as Bonarda Novaresi. It has been confused with Bonarda and Croatina in the Piemonte even by ampelographers. Primarily used as a blending grape in DOC Boca, the Barbaglia family bottles the excess Uva Rara varietal. Aged for about six months in stainless steel tanks, this is a light, dry red with an interesting spicy bouquet. Makes a great pairing for charcuterie, risotto or white meat dishes.
2018 Barbaglia Ledi Vespolina, Colline Novaresi | Piemonte · $36.99 | Sale $24.99
Like Uva Rara, Vespolina is a grape that is most often used for blending. It is a derivative of Nebbiolo with firm tannins and intense color. This 100% Vespolina, which sees six months in oak, is the more serious sibling to the Uva Rara, with dark, brooding fruit and great complexity. From Sergio Barbaglia, “rich and intense, with notes of red fruit jam, pepper and sweet spices; gastronomic, dynamic and easy drinking.” A great pairing for game meats, lamb and aged cheeses.
2019 Camins del Priorat
Priorat · $21.99 | Sale $19.99
When the tasting notes for a wine include "gorgeous" and "so good," it usually has a good chance of making the cut. Such was the case for this delicious addition to Coaltrain's Priorat section. From the beautiful ruby-red hue in the glass, the wine opens up with a bit of air to exhibit a dense body that shows balanced fruit and just the right tannins to say "Priorat." A mixture of Garnacha, Syrah, Cariñena, Merlot, Cabernet and others, the Camins is a bit more of a modern style from Alvaro Palacios, a winemaking wizard who is widely credited with elevating the reputation of his region and increasing its appeal among a wide variety of Spanish wine fans. "This is juicy and chewy, powerful, with muscle, pungent and intense but with great balance and very clean. This is the most modern and international of their wines, with a showy profile. A triumph over the conditions of the vintage."
91 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2019 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
Mosel · $33.99 | Sale $30.99
"Selbach-Oster might be one of the hottest domains along the Mosel, if not in all Germany." -Stephan Reinhardt | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate. That statement pretty much sums it up. Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara cultivate over 50 acres of vines in some of the Mosel's greatest vineyard sites. A significant portion of their vines are ungrafted and require extra care. The village of Zeltingen sits at the base of a legendary steep slope, along with Wehlen Urzig and Bernkastel. This is one of the world's most scenic wine regions, and also one of the most difficult to work. At times, the workers have to be roped up. The Sonnenuhr (Sundial) vineyard stretches from Zeltingen into neighboring Wehlen and is one of the most esteemed vineyards in Germany. The Selbach-Oster Kabinett is the essence of Mosel Riesling. The levels of complexity are through the roof. For lovers of crisp, off-dry Riesling, it doesn’t get better than this. "…bright, precise and elegant on the complex, refined, beautifully clear and flinty nose. On the palate, it is lush and refined with tropical fruit, ripe pear, lemon pith and wonderful notes of slate. This is a stimulating Kabinett with a long and intense finish." 94 points | Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
2018 Domaine Douloufakis Dafnios Liatiko
Crete · $16.99 | Sale $14.99
It seems in the last several newsletter cycles we have had the pleasure of being introduced to a grape (or grapes) that we haven't tried before. Liatiko is one of those; an indigenous varietal of Crete, it grows primarily in the area of Dafnes, a DOC near the port city of Heraklion on the north shore of the island. Nikos Douloufakis, third generation owner of the family winery, cultivates indigenous and international varietals on estate land and produces wines in his continuously modernizing facility. The wine is medium dense in the glass, not lacking in acid and with a fresh burst of fruit on the front of the palate. A bit of air (say 30 minutes) will reveal a deeper nose of herbs and some floral notes. Nine months in oak after fermentation give this playful wine just a touch of maturity, and soft tannins will enhance that Greek feast of roast lamb or moussaka!
2015 Alexakis Kotsifali Syrah
Crete · $17.99 | Sale $15.99
Many millenia ago, Theseus sailed from Athens to Crete to kill the half-man/half-bull Minotaur and end the annual human sacrifices to it that were demanded by King Minos. It is a tale with many twists and turns, but we do know that Theseus eventually prevailed. Various accounts have Theseus slaying the Minotaur with a sword, a club or even his bare hands. What is rarely reported is the part played by Kotsifali. Some say Theseus plied the Minotaur with wine. Other accounts say the wine emboldened him for the task ahead. We will never know the true story, but we do know about Kotsifali. Kotsifali is an indigenous grape variety grown almost exclusively on Crete and Rhodes. It produces wines that are rich and rounded but can be lacking in tannin and color. It is usually blended with other varietals, most often the local grape Mandilaria, but in the case of the Alexakis winery it is blended with Syrah. Both varietals (60% Kotsifali, 40% Syrah) are aged in a combination of 100% new French and American oak. The resulting wine is rich with soft tannins and flavors of dried black fruits, forest undergrowth and spices. An excellent accompaniment to lamb dishes and grilled Minotaur. Wink, wink! "...aromas of cedar and dark chocolate, followed by a fine-grained tannic texture, full-bodied fruit flavors and a mineral cut to its lush character. It has an elegant cinnamon and cocoa powder finish." 92 points + Editors' Choice | Wine Enthusiast
2018 Luca Old Vine Malbec
Mendoza · $34.99 | Sale $28.99
Anyone with a passing knowledge of the wines of Argentina, and the ubiquitous Malbec grape, has most likely been introduced at some point to the Catena family of Mendoza, considered by many to be the progenitors of modern wine culture in the region. Laura Catena is the daughter of founder Nicola Catena, and with her father runs Bodegas Catena Zapata (in addition to being a doctor and university professor in San Francisco where her family resides). To feed her passion for small production wines of impeccable terroir and precision, Laura began her Luca side project as a way to distinguish herself from the larger family business. Coaltrain brought in her Malbec last year as a feature of our "Women in Wine" week, and the wine has found a firm home in our South American section. When the 2018 vintage was awarded the #4 spot on Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 list, we decided it deserved the spotlight once again. Full of dark berry fruits and spice, this wine is a treat for the senses. "Concentrated black-fruit aromas alongside hints of cardamom and coriander open this lush Malbec. Blackberry, cassis and dark plum flavors are pure and agile on the palate." 93 points + Editors' Choice | Wine Enthusiast
2020 Unico Zelo Truffle Hound Red
Claire Valley · $21.99 | Sale $19.99
Meet Brendan and Laura Carter, self-confessed wine nerds in Adelaide who are passionate about elevating Australian wines to another level. Don't expect to see just Shiraz at this winery. The Carters are big fans of Italian varietals and Mediterranean wines. Their 2020 Truffle Hound is a blend of Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera. It's an ode to the locals in Piedmont who drink young Nebbiolo before heading out with their trained dogs to seek out the delicious and savory truffles hidden in the foggy mountains of Barolo. This is a very young, fresh and highly-aromatic wine. Loads of juicy black and red fruit fill the palate with a bright acidity to give it a refreshing finish, and it's great with food! This is "glou-glou" wine at its finest. The Carters are changing the way we view Australian wines, so keep an eye on them. Sustainably grown.
2020 Storm Point Red Blend
Swartland · $19.99 | Sale $17.99
As land prices continue to soar in California and the classic regions of Europe, South Africa has become the new frontier for young winemakers looking for a start without being a hedge fund manager. Mike Craven, originally from Australia, is currently the winemaker at Mulderbosch, one of South Africa’s most famous estates. On the side, along with his South African wife Jeanine, he makes small batches of Craven wines primarily from Stellenbosch. The side project of his side project is called Storm Point. These are affordable wines from Swartland, a hot, dry coastal plain north of Cape Town. Here the vines are primarily bush vines, untrellised and unirrigated, that appear to be growing wildly. The stress on the vines produces grapes with greater concentration. Storm Point Red is a blend of 56% Cinsault, 29% Syrah and 15% Carignan. Aromas of pomegranate, cranberry, orange peel and chai tea with a hint of wet gravel. On the palate; raspberry, morello cherry and wild lavender finishing with an orange twist. Let it open up for 40 minutes or so before imbibing.
CIDRERIE DU VULCAIN
It all started with Jacques Perritaz, a biologist working on the preservation of natural habitats for the Swiss government. In the course of his work, Jacques had frequently spotted neglected apple and pear trees. They were one or two hundred year-old trees from ancient cider varieties. Sometimes, they grew in tiny orchards, but more often they were just scattered, two or three at a time, in pastures. They were remnants of a bygone polyculture, when farmers could make extra income by also using their pastures to grow fruit trees and sell their produce to a once thriving local cider industry. Now, at harvest time, the fruit was left to fall on the ground. Jacques felt bad for the trees. If someone didn't find something to do with the fruit, these ancient selections were bound to disappear. So in 2000, he knocked on doors closest to some of the trees he had spotted, found their owners, and asked if he could harvest their fruit. This was not a problem, as the owners had no use for them. The fruit secured, Jacques bought a small press and a few tanks, and made his first cider. He chose the name from the local Vulcain (Red Admiral) butterfly that feeds on the juice of fallen apples. The first taste of a Vulcain cider will usually cause disbelief. They are so... pretty! And so different. Essentially, t