Everything Wine blog

Habla Espanol?

Very pleased to offer a selection of outstanding and well-rated wines from several Spanish speaking countries (yes the conceit is flimsy but hey, you try theming). Many of these wines are hitting the province for the first time because buying wine is amazing right now. We begin: 

ARGENTINA 

Familia Zuccardi “Jose” Malbec 2014, Uco Valley, Mendoza. Remember that cool goth kid from high school that you tried to make friends with but they wouldn’t take off their headphones? But you just knew they were interesting so you bought them a hot chocolate so they’d talk to you but they just stared at it because of course, hot chocolate is for babies and what were you thinking, you’re both, like, practically adults? And it wasn’t until several weeks (and embarrassments) later that they actually said something to you, and you’re like “omg omg omg they talked to me”? Yes, this. “Jose” is the Argentine Malbec that most resembles Cahors, the birthplace of Malbec in France, and I mean that in the most austere, goth way (even the label looks like a Siouxsie and the Banshees cover). Deep, resentful and ferrous in the first few hours, “Jose” takes a super long time to open up to you – it’s actually more expressive a day after opening – but holy cow is it worth it. Once it decides to talk to you, it’ll scream about black fruits, white pepper and earth, with balsamic notes on the dusty, plummy finish. This’ll cellar like a Barolo, crazy value for such a serious wine, if it weren’t so angry it would be a Back Up The Truck selection. 94 points Robert Parker, 6 6-packs available, $53.98 +tax 

1884 The President’s Blend 2018, Uco Valley, Mendoza. A complete pivot from the previous Malbec: instead of ignoring you for a day, this brawny blend of Malbec, Cab and Syrah (and not an actual blend of presidents, sadly) will happily do your homework, make you a sandwich, and can probably find you some weed if that’s your thing. Ignoring the contemporary Mendoza movement away from Napa-inspired girth-bombs, 1884 wears 2003 like a prom dress and looks incredible doing it. Super jacked blueberries, blackberries and raspberries top this black forest cake of weight and comfort, the oak influenced full body glides down to earth like a magic marshmallow. In a good way. Nicolas Catena, who purchased the house back in the ‘90s, used to use this fruit for his top labels, but with the recent focus on terroir-driven wines from the Adrianna vineyard (see below), Catena has allowed 1884 to resume making the deliciously generous, mouth-filling comfort food it’s so very good at. 97 points Decanter, Best in Show, Decanter World Wine Awards, 95 points Tim Atkin, 6 6-packs available, $52.98 +tax 

Nicolas Catena Zapata “River Stones” 2017, Adrianna Vineyard, Gualtallary, Mendoza. I’ve said it before and will repeat it here: we’re at the dawn of a new First Growth and these prices will indeed rise accordingly (they already have, a bit). So focused on posterity is winemaker Alejandro Vigil that he excluded one of the riper vineyard plots from this 2017 so that the fruit weight wouldn’t obscure the limestone minerality that beams like a laser; this vintage is also the first to employ 100% whole clusters, which will be the practice going forward. Built like a Burgundian fortress on a Left Bank Bordeaux plot of land, the tannins and acid are a little delineating right now but should settle into this full body in about 3 years. The nose, which changes every 45 minutes or so, is dominated by violets and stones but hints of blackberry and sandalwood slowly emerge to lurk underneath. Freaking brilliant in every sense. 100 points James Suckling, 98 points Robert Parker, 3 wooden 3-packs available, $249.98 +tax 

CHILE 

Garage Wine Co. “Lot 67” Carignan Field Blend 2015, Maule Valley. If you’re experiencing flashbacks, no, this isn’t the Garage Wine Co. Vigno that sold out a few weeks ago, but both wines are related: this Lot 67 is essentially declassified Vigno. Sharing the same source vines (farmed by hand and horse by the Orellana family), the higher-acid, more ageable barrels go into Vigno but the tastes-awesome-now barrels of dry-farmed Carignan (with a small dose of Mataro/Mourvèdre) build this sexy beast Lot 67, which is a fuller, rounder wine. The ancestral farming is followed by near-ancestral winemaking, non-temperature-controlled ferments with old barrel aging and minimal sulphite additions, but there is no “natural” vibe to this: the nose is full of earth, smoked meat, blue fruit and flowers, and drinks much smoother than its famous older brother. 94 points Robert Parker, 18 bottles available, $53.98 +tax 

GERMANY 

Loosen/Rodriguez Graacher Himmelreich Riesling 2015, Mosel. Yep, I hear you. You’re saying “they don’t speak Spanish in Germany! Stop this bus, I want off!”. Well, I’ll have you know that this wine is bilingual because it’s a collab between good friends Ernie Loosen and Telmo Rodriguez, so I will accept your apology in writing. It works like this: Loosen ages his Riesling from the ancient Himmelreich vineyard for two years in the barrels that Telmo made (red) Rioja in, with a small measure of Riesling skins present for the ferment; although the process sounds like the kind of ideas that come from two dudes drinking too much wine together (which they did), it’s actually a practice called “naturrein” that was employed in the Mosel a century ago. The result is a golden, nearly orange wine with quince, citrus, mint and heaps of honey on the nose – the skin contact and oak aging give the body a round shape, and it finishes dry with wisps of honey and beeswax. I’m sure this can age but I’ve no roadmaps as to what it’ll turn into; I say drink now and be merry, these guys certainly did. 93 points Robert Parker, 6 bottles available, $66.98 +tax 

SPAIN 

Finca Casa Castillo Las Gravas 2018, Jumilla. Burgundy from the moon. Strange that so elegant a thing can escape so cruel an environment. The sun pounds Jumilla like a spotlight, the soil is more gravel (gravas) than dirt, and while other vines are trained in rows these bush vines are solitary and far apart, so that they don’t starve each other competing for the ground’s scarce nutrients. Any wine that can be made from this hellscape could be forgiven for holding a grudge, but Jose Maria Vicente manages to wrest singing, soaring expressions of Monastrell (Mataro/Mourvèdre) from this Las Gravas vineyard that hue closer to a Volnay or Chateauneuf than most lugubrious Jumillas. Green herbs give subtle hints around the red cherry, raspberry and jasmine aromas, the full-ish body flows like velvet towards a chalky, refined finish with great minerality. Even more impressive is that the almost innocent beauty of this wine came out of one of the most severe vintages in recent memory. Gorgeous and striking. 96 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs available, $63.98 +tax 

Guimaro “Camino Real” 2018, Ribera Sacras, Galicia. I believe we’ll be hearing a lot more about Ribera Sacra in the coming years, not only for its killer value, but also for its unique expression of the Mencia variety (pronounced Men-Thee-A in Galego because long ago someone sneezed in the middle of the word and now they’re stuck with it*). Famous for the kneecappingly severe wines of Bierzo, Mencia takes a more feminine turn in Ribera Sacra, where the steep slate speckled vineyards resemble the canyon-like topography of Côte Rôtie or the Mosel, and the grape’s high terpenoids and aromatics almost form a halo above the glass. Pedro Pérez’s mid-level “Camino Real” (the “Royal Way” to anyone who hasn’t read The DaVinci Code) is a nose-feast of hibiscus, roses, dried cherries, red apples and crushed rocks, the medium body proceeds with perfect tension towards a long finish laced with pomegranate. Keep your eyes on this region and this producer. 94 points Robert Parker, 4 6-packs available, $43.98 +tax 

Envinate “Migan” 2018, Tenerife, Canary Islands. Prepare to be Funkified. Situated off the western Moroccan coast and just north of the Tropic of Cancer, that fact that any wine grapes can be grown on these blistering, desert islands seems like a miracle, but it’s actually a function of altitude and the Canary Current, part of the North Atlantic Gyre that brings cooler air to the Canaries and influences the viticulture there almost totally. Grown on the oldest, highest vineyard available (600m), the Listan Negro vines, a local variety brought to the islands by the Spanish centuries ago (a genetic match with the Pais/Mission grape in the Americas but clonally quite different), must be trained into hair-like braids in order to withstand the constant Atlantic pressure. The young folks at Envinate craft this grape into a weird and wonderful brew of salinity, strawberry, pepper and smoke (due to the volcanic soils), atop a medium body and mild tannin – the whole package reminds me of a premium Blaufrankish more than anything else – and the finish shows flowers and more pepper. Only the 3rd vintage made, I’ll be watching these brilliant weirdos much more closely in the future. 95 points Robert Parker, 2 6-packs available, $51.98 +tax 

USA 

Stolpman Vineyards “Para Maria de los Tecolotes” 2018, Santa Barbara, California. Although probably inadvertent, the pendulum that for decades was over on the South-America-tries-to-be-like-California side now appears to be swinging towards the other polarity. Case in point: this drop dead gorgeous blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot that could, in times past, feel at home atop a stack of pancakes is now a blazing streak of freshness and fruit purity brimming with life, not dissimilar to some of the outstanding Syrahs out of Chile (minus the stank). The hot/cool Santa Barbara climate chimes in with vibrant blue fruits and boysenberry, but the Syrah (once in a decanter for 2 hours) starts to show smoke, black pepper and dark chocolate. Full bodied but still agile, this’ll be a matchless BBQ wine once that’s a thing again. Not sure why Tom and Marilyn Stolpman called this wine “For Maria of the Owls”, but the striking black and white owl on the label stared into my soul and told me I was worthy. 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 2 cases available, $41.98 +tax 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Losada 2017, Bierzo. 95 points James Suckling, 6 cases available, $39.98 +tax 

Aalto 2018, Ribera del Duero. Not yet rated, 6 bottles available, $88.98 +tax 

Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial v.20, Ribera del Duero. 98 points Robert Parker, 2 bottles available, $1082.98 +tax 

Small Batch Series: Pinot Noir

Today I’ve got a tasty curation of Pinots from all over the world, but after having an otherwise illuminating conversation with a fantastic Pinot producer from down south, I have to get something off my chest first: 

I love Oregon completely. I’ve been to the Willamette a few times, had amazing experiences and would very much like to be allowed back in someday. I love the natural, non-elite wine culture there, it’s refreshing and welcoming, absolutely. 

But Oregon, dear Oregon, my one complaint involves how many of you pronounce your leading grape variety: in an attempt to resemble the original French pronunciation more closely, you’re inadvertently using an existing French word that doesn’t actually mean “wine”. 

The problem is Pinot Noir, specifically the word Noir. Certain languages contain sounds that other languages do not: the dental fricative “th” sound (/θ/) so prominent in English doesn’t exist in French, so native French mouths are unaccustomed to making it, leading French speakers to sub in other sounds that their mouths are more familiar with: “theatre” may be pronounced as “tee-atre”, “dee-atre” or “zee-atre” depending on where the French speaker is from (Quebec favours the “d”, France the “z”, that’s how you can spot them in the wild – saves you turning them over and looking at their bellies). 

The French pronunciation of “Noir” contains a brief uvular trill, sort of like a “rolled R” (R) at the end (“Nwah-rrr”), a sound that seldom appears in English. In North America our natural tendency is to read the “r” at the end of a word as a rhotic consonant: when we say “Noir” it rhymes with “Gwar” (or “Drakkar” if you nasty). It’s a perfectly normal way to approach those words in Anglophone Canada or the US – heck, even the name of the Oregonian valley where the Pinot is grown is properly Americanized: we rhyme “Willamette” with “dammit”, not “vinaigrette”. 

And yet the tendency in Oregon is to pronounce “Noir” like the French, but without the trill that closes the word: I kept hearing “would you like to try some Pinot Nwaahh?”. I understand the desire to try and respect the original name, but to French speakers it’s actually a shade creepy, however inadvertently:  

You see, “Nwaahh” isn’t just a swing and a miss, it’s an actual French word, and that word is “Noix”, which means “Nuts”. Pronounced this way, you are saying “would you like to try some Pinot Nuts”, and no thank you I would not. 

It’s ok to speak English. It’s ok to speak non-English words with English sounds, you were born with them and those are your tools. By saying “Nwaahh”, you’re not approaching France, you’re not even missing the turn-off, you’re taking an entirely different turn-off to Nut Town, and it’s weird. 

Please please let me back in I love your wine. 

Let’s start in Oregon and move outwards from there: 

USA 

Ken Wright Cellars Canary Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, Eola-Amity Hills. It’s been too long since I could get any of Ken Wright’s wondrous juice; a living legend in Oregon, he was a founder of the seminal Panther Creek and one of the original prophets of single-vineyard winemaking on the west coast. There’s no overarching style to Ken’s wines (other than, like, “good”), he lets the ground speak in his stead, and the Canary Hill has a lot to chirp about (I’m sorry). Bright red fruit and tropical notes with ferrous tinges, burnt orange, a fairly voluptuous mouthfeel, this is good to go, majestic and magnificent. Welcome back, Mr. Wright, you got, like, hotter while you were gone. 94 points Wine Spectator, 2 6-packs available, $100.98 +tax 

Elk Cove La Bohème Vineyard 2017, Yamhill Carlton. Willamette’s highest vineyard (800ft) is also one of its most expressive and floral – you can practically smell it as you walk through there – with violets and lavender taking centre stage in front of a chorus of singing cherries, closing off with vanilla, black pepper and garrigue. One of the first families to plant vines in Oregon (way back in 1974, which gives them Elder Scrolls status), the Campbells practice a fairly severe green harvest in the La Bohème vineyard, and the reduced yields bring piercing concentration and energy to this 2017, counterbalancing the capital “P” Prettiness on the nose. 6 bottles available, $74.98 +tax 

Resonance Pinot Noir 2017, Willamette Valley. Although French families like Chapoutier and Barons de Rothschild pursue projects all over the globe, Burgundian fixture Maison Louis Jadot has only this one remote winery, a surprising measure of restraint considering who their winemaker is. Jacques Lardière was chief winemaker at Jadot for decades until 2012, when he left Burgundy to help start this Willamette project called Resonance. If you can picture a hyper-caffeinated Albert Einstein with a French accent, speaking only in poems and visiting multiple dimensions of time and space while in mid-sentence, you begin to get what it was like attending his seminar back in 2011. I speak English and French but Jacques continually existed in the middle, weaving historical anecdotes with visual analogies for tasting notes straight out of Yellow Submarine – it was an amazing, untethered experience, although I did at times wonder if I should have instead taken the Blue Pill. Resonance is every bit a Lardière wine, blending Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee fruit into an éclair of bright red fruit surrounded by a savoury, herb-informed frame. Pomegranate, rhubarb and tobacco lead into an earthly palate of cherry and roses. Bright and tannic, it’s safe and fun to drink now but should gain Elegance Points® as this decade unfolds. #19, Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 93 points Wine Spectator, 3 6-packs available, $61.98 +tax

Citation Pinot Noir 2005, Oregon. Although the creation of new AVAs is an arduous, political affair, it is widely expected than one of Willamette’s next additions will be the Mount Pisgah region, at the southern end of the Willamette AVA, south-east of Eugene. Here the Willamette’s oldest volcanic rocks are covered by a thin veneer of marine sediment, the combination of which adds elevated acidity and longevity to Pinot Noir. Witness this 2005 Pinot from Citation, sourced from Pisgah and further south, with broad shoulders and deep wells of mushroom, cinnamon, ripe cherries, orange peel and earth. Leather and tea surround the fruit, and the tannins have softened to more of a vibe than a sensation. It isn’t often that we’re able to try aged Oregon Pinot that isn’t the fruit of our own patience, this is a real treat. 2 6-packs available, $110.98 +tax 

WALT “La Brisa” Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast. Who is WALT and what does WALT want? While the sad news is that there’s no actual dude-named-Walt involved, the awesome news is that this is Napa star Kathryn Hall’s sister winery – “Walt” was her maiden name – not sure why it’s in all-caps except maybe her mom and dad used to shout a lot. Judging from how ripe this Sonoma Coast Pinot is, what WALT wants is two things: lots of root beer and for us to be happy. Violets and minty notes permeate the chocolate-covered black cherries and sarsaparilla, the nose and body are generous, but the finish lifts nicely and just makes the runway of Elegant-town. Since many of Kathryn’s offerings clock in at well over $200 per bottle, WALT is an opportune way to experience her wines within a certain sphere of reason. 2 cases available, $62.98 +tax 

GERMANY 

Thörle Hölle Spätburgunder 2018, Rheinhessen. This is one of the two top rated 2018 Pinots in Germany, a grand statement from a country whose talent for ripe, generous, timelessly structured Pinot is rivalled only by their skill in putting dots on top of letters. Called Spätburgunder locally because “Pinot Noir” is much too short and easy, the variety is only 5-10% of the Rheinhessen’s output, but it often finds its way into some of the best, limestone-rich plots like the hills around Saulheim (Riesling tends to favour the red slate soils), where young brothers Christoph and Johannes Thörle have helped give rise to a New Wave of German Pinot: Burgundian in build (thanks, limestone!) but more Oregonian in fruit profile – decidedly non-rustic. The 2018 Hölle (loosely means “Heart of Hell”; a different Hölle than the famous Mosel Hölle vineyard, for all you Hölle-Monitors out there) is brilliantly bursting with dark cherries, garrigue and an almost tangible minerality. Freaking gorgeous now, I imagine that it’ll be stunning in 3-4 years; tightly allocated by the winery, I only got these 2 cases. 99 points James Suckling, 2 cases available, $80.98 +tax 

ITALY 

Giulia Negri La Tartufaia Pinot Nero 2017, Langhe. Riding a wave of buzz since she took over her family’s 150-year-old La Morra winery (boasting the highest altitude in Barolo) at the age of 24, Giulia Negri has carved out a nice side hustle by releasing non-Barolo wines made of Chard and Pinot, grown on the north-facing slopes where Nebbiolo is forbidden. Violets and roses surround the tart red cherries, the tannins are considerable and may take a couple of years to stop obscuring the gentler cinnamon and white pepper vibes on the finish. Like a Nuit-St-Georges in build, but less ferrous and more floral. 6 bottles available, $50.98 +tax 

FRANCE 

Confuron-Cotetidot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots 2007, Burgundy. A wondrous find from 3 Presidents ago, sourced from a Premier Cru surrounded on nearly all sides by the Grand Cru vineyards of Richebourg, Romanée-St-Vivant and Echézeaux. Brothers Yves and Jack run the cellar now (their parents choose to work the vines cuz vines don’t talk), but their lineage traces back to the 1600s, when the Confuron family was primarily known for vine propagation (they even have their own Pinot clone called Pinot Confuron). This celestial 2007 is in partial hibernation but can be reawakened with a couple hours in a decanter, whereby a heady brew of flowers, mushrooms and black-hearted berries shall swirl and resurrect, jarred by licorice, thyme, game and the desperate angst of a love forlorn. ARISE, young Suchots! Arise and greet this new world! Someday you may die but today is not that day…..    that got away from me, apologies. Um this wine is really good. 6 bottles available, $315.98 +tax 

Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers 2017, Burgundy. One of the reasons I’m so stoked to do what I do right now is the quality and breadth of producers and categories available to me that were a mere dream just a couple years ago. Case in point: Robert Groffier, a cult Burgundy producer that collectors have been asking about for years, available to offer for the first time. Now run by grandson Serge, Groffier runs some of the best plots in Burgundy’s exclusive crus (Amoureuses, Bonnes Mares), and has scaled down new wood aging in favour of sensuous, more emotional wines (everyone says “we let the vineyards speak through the wine” but it’s in Burgundy where this phrase is most literal). Their 2017 Sentiers offers a mineral, slightly smoky take on the cru, boosting the raspberry and nutmeg notes nicely. 5 years out from Drinktown, the stony finish should integrate with the fruit beautifully by then. 5 bottles available, $370.98 +tax 

NON-STOP CLASSIC HITS 

What follows is a brief listing of some wines that fit this theme and have previously been written about, but featured again for the benefit of those who’ve recently joined my Collectors List and may have missed ‘em the first time. If anyone requires more info, I’m happy to send over the original blurb to you. 

Kosta Browne Pinot Noir 2018, Sonoma Coast. 94 points Jeb Dunnuck, 6 bottles available, $194.98 +tax 

Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir 2018. Sta. Rita Hills. Not yet rated, 6 bottles available, $154.98 +tax 

L’Usine Pinot Noir 2017, Sta. Rita Hills, 93 points Robert Parker, 93 points Wine Spectator 12 bottles available, $99.99 +tax 

Until next time, Happy Drinking! 

POSTSCRIPT 

The world of wine would look very different indeed if it weren’t for Steven Spurrier, the British wine writer and educator who sadly passed a couple days ago. Besides organizing the seminal Judgement Of Paris in 1976, which changed the planet’s perception of New World winemaking when French judges blindly favoured Californian wines over French labels, he also founded Decanter Magazine, a distinct voice in the sphere of wine reviewing providing a distinctly Euro take on wines (whilst still using impeccable English) in a sea of American-centric publications (Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, Wine Enthusiast and James Suckling are all based in the U.S.). His understated and humble tone, which masked his vast depth of knowledge, will indeed be missed. R.I.P., Steven, and say hi to Alan Rickman. 

Get to know the grape: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is loved by many wine enthusiasts for its light to medium body, red fruit flavours and hints of spice and often makes an appearance around festive holiday dinners as it’s known for being turkeys’ wine pairing of choice. Beyond its ability to play nice with rich and flavourful meals, the French native is one of the most romanticized red wines in the world with festivals thrown every year in the grape’s honour and even an Oscar winning film dedicated to it, check out “Sideways”, set in California wine country.

Originating in France’s Burgundy region, Pinot Noir is now produced in many wine regions around the world; however, many wine buffs still view Burgundy as the mecca for Pinot Noir. Burgundian style Pinot Noir is acclaimed for its ripe red berries, sweet dark cherries and hints of mushroom with forest floor while other popular varieties from Sonoma, California and Willamette Valley, Oregon varieties typically show raspberry, allspice and Darjeeling tea.

Despite its expressive characteristics and worldwide fandom, Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow and is susceptible to rot and uneven ripening to do its thin skin and tightly packed grape clusters. To avoid sunburn, delicate Pinot Noir grapes enjoy long, cool growing seasons in protected valleys and near large bodies of water—Willamette Valley lies on the same latitude as Burgundy and experiences a similar climate while Sonoma is cooler and more foggy than other wine regions in its state.

Pinot Noir is also one of the few red wine grapes that’s commonly made into red, rosé, white and sparkling wine! In Champagne, it’s one of the regions’ seven permitted varieties and adds structure to brut blends, it is the only red grape permitted in Alsace and is also becoming increasingly popular as rosé with its delicate character and crisp flavours.

Thanks to its light body, complex structure, and elegant tannins, Pinot Noir is an ideal pairing for a variety of dishes—even disproving the claim that red wine cannot be paired with fish. Fruit forward styles actually make for an excellent partner to fatty fish and seafood including scallops and lobster. More earthy renditions pair beautifully with heirloom vegetables, hearty beef Bourguignon or traditional coq au vin. So whether you’re preparing a special anniversary dinner or an easy mid-week meal, Pinot Noir is always a great choice.

If you’re new to Pinot Noir or are looking to discover your new favourite, you can shop by grape here or visit us in store to talk to one of our passionate consultants.

Not sure where to start? Check out a few of our favourite picks below:

Decoded Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

The Path Pinot Noir

Meiomi Pinot Noir

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

Le Jardin Pinot Noir

 

Back Up Two Trucks! Top 100 Tuscan Cab and 97pt Vigno!

A couple of killer wines with silly ratings have made their way to me recently, and rather than giving each wine its own episode I decided to bundle them into one grand heads-up. These are both fantastic cellaring wines at civilized price points, in new-ish categories that aren’t yet priced to their fullest potential. Let’s dive in, starting with a returning champion: 

Tolaini “Legit” Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Toscana I.G.T, Italy. A Tuscan powerhouse from the heart of Chianti Classico that – given the consistent accolades – should be priced closer to Solaia because it’s essentially the same model: Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chianti vineyard aged for 2 years in French Barriques, easily cellarable for 2 decades. We previously featured (and quickly sold out of) the stoic 2013, but this 2016 is thicker, arguably a little less angular, and should be approachable next year, this year if you wear pads. I’ve told Pierluigi Tolaini’s story before but in a nutshell: Born in Tuscany before moving to Winnipeg (the “Tuscany of Canada”, we can all agree), Luigi drove a truck there (whilst listening to a lot of American Jazz) and eventually bought the company, turning it into a trucking empire of the Canadian Prairies. Always seeking to return home, Luigi used his fortunes to buy vineyards in Castelnuovo Berardenga with the help of Michel Rolland. Now with young winemaker Francesco Rosi at the helm, the Tolaini winery began playing around with Bordeaux varieties and planted the Cabernet that became this proud creature, which Luigi called “Legit” after Thelonious Monk, whose music he loved. Deep and dark fruits like cassis and plum are held up on a ferrous platform of stemmy herbaceousness, this is very much a Tuscan wine and doesn’t seek to ape Napa or Bordeaux, although in frame it does kinda echo Saint Julien. Only released in excellent vintages (2013 was the previous one), this bottling is an event I don’t expect to see for another few years. Exclusive to Everything Wine. #13 – Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2020, 95 points Wine Spectator, 10 cases available, $64.99 +tax 

Garage Wine Co. Vigno 2016, Maule Valley, Chile. Our kids may never forgive us for all the Vigno we didn’t buy. Ridiculously priced for such Cellar Stars, the Vigno category (a shortening of “Vignadores de Carignan”) applies to dry-farmed, old-vine Carignan-led field blends from the Secano area of Maule Valley; it’s the most stringent appellation that Chile has, operably the only “real” one by European standards of control. Garage Wine Co.’s take on the category (from the Truquilemu lieu-dit) is freaking stunning – a very Piemontese structure supporting a bouquet of flowers and stones: violets, orange zest and black raspberries surrounded by rhubarb, gravel, smoked meat and earth, all on top of a medium-bodied, mineral frame with an acidic structure that can see through walls. The finish is long, rustic and Barolo-esque – New World freshness on an Old World castle – and though drinking with food now, will continue to evolve amazingly through 2030. There’s no way it stays this price. Carignan with Grenache and Mataro (Mourvèdre), exclusive to Everything Wine. 97+ points Robert Parker, 6 6-packs available, $89.99 +tax 

Until next week, Happy Drinking! 

Wagner Family of winemakers

With their Napa Valley roots dating back to the 1850’s, the Wagner family went on to help shape the region’s wine industry and released their first vintage in 1972 consisting of just 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. Inspired by their family’s rich history of winemaking, Charles Wagner and his wife Lorna along with their son Chuck fulfilled their dream of starting Caymus Vineyards which remains 100% family owned.

It was their 1973 release, though, that put Caymus on the map—with rich character and complexity, their Cabernet Sauvignon had caught the attention of wine critics and earned the family acclaim and recognition. A few years later, the father-son winemaking duo discovered that a select few of their barrels were producing superior wine than the rest, giving them the idea to separate this juice from the batch and bottle it under a new label called Special Selection. This Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is what launched the Wagner family to elite winemaker status when Wine Spectator magazine awarded it the prestigious Wine of the Year award in 1984 and then again in 1990. Caymus Vineyards is the only winery in the world to have earned this highest accolade twice.

The Wagner’s didn’t stop there, though, it’s been over 45 years and Caymus proudly showcases a collection of wines that have a glowing reputation for their quality and consistency. Chuck Wagner continues to oversee the production of their world-renowned Cabernets while his own children have gone on to lead exciting new endeavours including the unique Conundrum White and Red Blends from California’s best wine regions. Other successes include the Mer Soleil range of Chardonnays, Red Schooner Malbec made from grapes grown in Argentina and then shipped to Caymus; as well as, Emmolo wines which offer a fresh take on Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

If you have yet to taste Caymus wines, you can find a selection of them on our website or visit us in store and we’d be happy to introduce you.

Caymus Vineyards Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Conundrum Red Blend

Conundrum White Blend

Emmolo Wine Company Napa Valley Merlot

Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc

Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay

Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay

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