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11AM - 8PM

10AM - 2PM
(and not one minute later)

FRIDAY (11/27):
11AM - 8PM


JURA DUTY: The Book Kind

jura wine book.jpgA little over a year ago, we sent out a notice about Wink Lorch’s KickStarter campaign to fund her efforts to publish the first ever English language book on Jura wine. Wink has been visiting and writing about the region since 1999 – long before it had made the radar of even the geekiest wine geek. She was convinced (begged, really) to embark on this book project by those of us eager for more info on the mystical, magical place where the white wines challenge your conception of what a white wine can be, and the reds are shockingly light in color but surprisingly big in flavor.

The project was a huge success and the book is here! Consider it Jura duty of the best kind. You won’t find a better, more definitive guide to the region than her simply titled: Jura Wine

Not to get all infomercially, but at $38, it's less than ½ the price of a bottle of the region’s mythical vin jaune. So if you're a looking to learn more, it's well worth the investment.


You haven’t heard of the Jura??? Unless you happen to shop in a handful of wine shops scattered across the country, that’s pretty much expected. The region is a tiny, obscure part of France tucked over near Switzerland. You've probably never heard of some of the region's most important grapes (Savagnin? Poulsard? Trousseau?) And you probably haven’t had anything like the region’s light, ethereal, sneakinly complex reds. Or its slightly twangy, often oxidative whites. Or its top dog vin jaune that ages practically forever. No, unless you’re a wine geek or hang out with them, you probably haven’t heard of these wines. But there's a good chance you'll like them.


The Hills are Alive... with Altesse!

Altesse.jpgLes Grangeons de l Albarine Altesse en Paradis 2013 (Bugey, France):

If there were ever a moment for personification of a grape, it is when describing the Savoie / Bugey beauty Altesse. She is the fresh air that graces the valley, gazing upon the alps. She is graceful and innocent. She wears cranberry silk slips and strappy kitten heels and a flatteringly floral fragrance formulated just for her in a fancy Parisian parfumerie. Imagine Maria, from the Sound of Music, post-nunnery, on a trip to post-war Paris.

Or forget all that and just trust us - this is lovely, lovely wine. 

It's made from the altesse grape, grown in Bugey (which is not the same thing as the Savoie), made by young vigneron Luc Bauer in a converted barn in the Albarine Valley. It is unmanipulated: farmed organically, fermented spontaneously, with very low additions of SO2. It's rolly poly but light on its feet. Silky with crunchy minerality and bright, fresh yellow apple notes with a textured, lasting finish. It's one of our favorite things. (OK, OK, enough with the Sound of Music references.)

Price: $29.99


BRING ON THE BUBBLES: The One That's Absolutely Singing

Laval rose with chalk.jpgGeorge Laval Champagne Premier Cru Cumières Brut Nature Rose NV (Champagne, France):

In the world of Champagne rosé, this is a stunning value. It's the Champagne rosé that left a lasting impression: it's developed a nose of ripe, luscious strawberries balanced by pastry crust. We've been drinking a lot of this lately because it's just so damn good. It's singing - Lalalalalaval - can you hear it?

Laval's fruit is pristine; organically grown with minimal intervention in the winery. The result is unforgettable and the color is the perfect blushing-bride-after-her-wedding-night shade of pink. (Disgorged 10.31.2013)

Price: $119.99


Fog Monster: Swartland Meets Amador County

Fog Monster is the California project of Chris and Andrea Mullineux (of the celebrated Swartland winery Mullineux Wines). It’s one way Andrea stays connected to her West Coast homeland while keeping one foot in South Africa, her husband’s native land. Named for great fogbanks that roll through the Sierra Foothills, both Fog Monster cuvées are undeniably influenced by the unique climate of Amador County.

Fog Monster Chenin 2.jpgFog Monster Chenin Blanc Story Vineyard 2012 (Amador County, California):

This wine comes from ungrafted vines of chenin blanc, planted at about 1900 feet above sea level in the Story Vineyard. This is the same vineyard site used by Sandlands winemaker Tegan Passalacqua, but Andrea's using carbonic maceration here, which translates to more skin contact and a very silky, round body. A touch of oxidation adds more richness to this already luxurious wine while white flowers grace the nose. This is Californian chenin blanc at its most debonair.

Price: $52.99

Fog Monster: Swartland Meets Amador County

Fog Monster Grenache.jpgFog Monster Grenache Shake Ridge Vineyard 2012 (Amador County, California):

This cuvee comes from grenache vines planted in the Shake Ridge vineyard at about 1300 feet above sea level. To garner the best possible texture and structure from this cuvee, Andrea uses whole-cluster fermentation. The result is a Grenache that is firm, not flabby or overly fruity, with a round, soft mouth feel and a nose of dusty, perfectly ripe raspberries and early morning fog. If you've tried the Tribute to Grace Shakeridge Grenache, this is an alternative expression of the same site. We you think you should try them both - consider it part of your vinous education.

Price: $52.99


A little over a year ago, the Chateau Musar Rose arrived on US shores

Not the Jeune, which is the deeply colored $20-ish cinsault-based rose. This is not that. Its own thing. A very rare creature...... dare I call it a unicorn?  I had heard of it, glimpsed images of it in the background of photos, perhaps seen it in dreams.

musar rose library.jpgBut it wasn't until I actually visited the actual cellars of Chateau Musar, and had a very wonderful dinner with my traveling group at the home of the Hochar family, that I actually tasted it. After much begging and pleading, the 2012 (that was the current vintage, even in 2014) finally arrived on US shores.

And last summer, in London, I had a chance to taste the 1995 and 1996.

Yes... 20 year old roses... and they were amazing. If you had a chance to try the Lopez de Heredia Rosado that was the coolest thing going about five years ago, that would be the closest comparison. Like that one, this is not a fruity rose. It was very slightly oxidative, with an almost flor-like note under the ghostly fruit quality. But it's richer, silkier, more densely textured, but without heaviness. There was a hint of savory spice and the whiff of memories forgotten and the magical, mystical quality that always seems to swirl around Chateau Musar.

In practical terms? Those old roses were awesome.

So... while I don't have any of the 1995 and 1996 to sell, I do have some more recent library stock. Less than a case each of 2006 and 2001. Yes: 2006. and 2001.

Some technical details? It's the same base wine as the whites - made from the mystical old vines of obidah and merwah - with the addition of a bit of cinsault for color and a subtle berry note. Given the extreme ageability of the both Musar reds and whites, it shouldn't be a surprise that this is a rose that can age. So don't be afraid to hide some away.

And don't wait to grab some - I may not be able to get more.

Price List:
2006 - $62.99
2001 - $79.99

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