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Fancy Pants Wines

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anna - long.jpgWhen picking out wine for customers, I’m often asked, “what do you like?” And I’m always reluctant to answer, because it’s not about ME… it’s about YOU! But I have a girls weekend and a family vacation coming up soon, so I’ve needed to put a little thought into what I’m going to be packing. And this wine is that.

I came across this wine while I was in London a few months ago. I was wrapping up dinner with college friends at the natural-ish wine bar Remedy, when on the way out, I noticed a gorgeous electric ruby bottle of wine sitting on someone’s table. I couldn’t resist popping over and asking what it was. And what it was, was the Vino di Anna Palmento Vino Rosso 2012 from the slopes of Mount Etna on Sicily. Deeper than a rose. Lighter than a regular red. I stopped short of pouring myself a glass (it’s one thing to ask strangers what they’re drinking, it’s another thing to help them drink it!) but I just knew it would be delicious. Somehow I tracked it down to US shores where it would be imported by one of my favorite small distributors, Indie Wineries.  Fast forward to yesterday, when my rep brought me a taste of the just arrived wine. And it was awesome:

Made from the nerello mascalese grape (and maybe a couple other varieties in the mix), foot pressed in the old palmento on the grounds of their old winery, no SO2 added, juicy red fruits with a structure and savory note that elevate it beyond your usual pink stuff. Or light red stuff. Or whatever you want to call it. (I just call it delicious. Or really… I just call it EMPTY!)

(Only 5 bottles available at the moment...because I'm drinking the rest.)

Price: $29.99


Buy Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace: Robert Michel Cornas

photo 3-1.jpgI’ve been meaning to send this note out for months. For a year, really. Or even longer than that. But time flies and the days go by and the next thing you know, the wine is all gone, sold out, never to be seen again on a retail shelf. 

And no, I’m not being overly dramatic, at least not about the wines of Robert Michel. When these wine from craggy terraces of the northern Rhone’s Cornas region, are gone, they are really, truly gone. Monsieur Michel retired with the 2006 vintage with no one to follow directly in his footsteps. He has a protégé in Guillaume Gilles (who cellars the wine in the Michel cellar and works a parcel of the old Robert vines) but the Robert Michel label will be no more after the 2006’s sell through.

I could get all cranky and lament that his wines represent a dying breed of old-school, aging-required winemaking that’s fast disappearing from this planet. (But I won’t, because I really believe that old-school is the new new-school and we’re seeing a return to wines that reward a bit of time and patience.)  I could go all hype-monster and tell you that these wines WON’T LAST!!!! BUY NOW!!! (Ok, I am kind of doing that, but it’s true.)

Or I could just tell you that if you’re at all prepared to plop down $60 for a bottle of wine any time, ever, these are bottles you should plop it on. Aside from being pieces of liquid history, they are almost stunningly delicious  while still maintaing depth of geek complexity for those who seek it. The 2005 Robert Michel "Cuvee des Coteaux" which I am selling right now, is already approaching 10 years of age and is drinking beautifully… but still has plenty of years to go. Older wine is difficult to pick apart into notes of fruit and spice and earth and flowers, but all those things are there, wrapped in grace and power with a shocking amount of freshness.

Go ahead, hand over your $60 and I’ll hand over a bottle. Open it, drink it, and if you fall in love, come back for more… quickly. Because time flies, and then it will be gone.

Price: $59.99


THE UNICORN HAS LANDED: Chateau Musar Rose 2012

This exists.

musar rose.jpgAnd no, your eyes do not deceive you. This is an actual bottle of Chateau Musar rose.

It's not the Jeune, which we know and love as the deeply colored $20-ish cinsault-based rose. This is not that. This is it's 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. But 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. And that was about three years ago, fresh of the plane, in the haze of jet lag... did I really taste it? Or did I just think I did?  Since then, I've asked about it, pleaded for some to make its way to the US market. And now it has..... the unicorn has landed.

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. It's gorgeously textured and subtly fruited. And 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 as well. So don't be afraid to hide some away.

Price: $51.99


BRING ON THE BUBBLES: The Lovely Little One

George Laval Brut Nature Champagne
laval.jpg(base 2010) 375ml (Champagne, France):

Baby Laval Brut. This is the 2010 base wine, which is a lighter, racier version than the 2008 base baby bottles we had earlier in the year. It’s a younger bottle, so the salinity shines through and begs…. BEGS!! for oysters. (Please, help the bottle out and give it some oysters.) But don’t think this is some too-cool-for-school-so-dry-it-hurts zero dosage bubbly. Laval manages lovely ripe fruit that give his wines a perfect balance of raciness and generosity. (Don’t believe me? Then believe the New York Times which listed Laval as one of its top producers in a recent article about low-/no-dosage champagnes.) This little guy is the perfect bottle if you're having a "just-the-two-of-you" New Year's Eve. Or if you want to keep something in your pocket just for yourself.

SALE Price: $39 (regularly $42.99) (375ml)

We also have the regular size Brut Nature (base 2009) for $84.99. Click here and search LAVAL to buy.


Yum Yum Yum & A Bottle of (Cask Strength) Rum

navazos.jpgNavazos Palazzi 15 Year Old Cask Strength Rum (Spain):

Love at first sip. And what a first sip it was. This is cask strength rum, meaning it's full proof, like 51% abv, pulled straight from the cask. Those casks happen to be old Oloroso casks, which impart a rich, nutty, sherry-like lushness to the rum. The rum itself is from the somewhere in the Caribbean. "Somewhere" being about as specific as it gets. At 5 years of age, it was sent to Sparin where it spent another 10 years in those Oloroso casks. Sipped straight, it's strong stuff. But almost shockingly smooth for such high proof stuff. Take a sip neat, then dilute it with a touch of water for maximum enjoyment of it's crazy cool blend of nuttiness, molassas and Oloroso twang. Read more about it in Jon Bonne's piece in the SF Chronicle.

Price: $159.99 (non-discountable)



musar square.jpgI have always known I was obsessed with Chateau Musar. And thanks to Eric Asimov’s piece in the New York Times, the world knows it. And hopefully, the world will share a bit in my obsession.

As the article makes clear, these are magical wines that very much reflect the man behind them: Serge Hochar, a sort of jet set, margarita-sipping,* philosopher king of wine. Read it, and if you’re intrigued, come back here and have a look at our selection.

Some of these wines are in stock, and some are on their way direct from the importer’s warehouse. To check availability and order, click through to the WINES page and enter MUSAR into the search field.

Additional vintages are available, so email me at christy@franklywines.com if you have any questions. 

Best, -Christy Frank


Chateau Musar 2003: A baby, but a delicious baby. Still in its “primary fruit” stage…which for Musar doesn’t mean “fruity”, just more fruit than funk. Price: $55.99

Chateau Musar 2000: A touch lighter than the 1999.  For drinking sooner (as in 10ish years) rather than later (as in forever). Price: $69.99

Chateau Musar 1999: I hate to play favorites, but if you twist my arm, I will tell you this is my favorite vintage of the last 15 years. Price: $77.99

Chateau Musar 1995: Going old-school – this is classic, classic aged Musar. Fruit, tea leaves, exotic spices, earthy funkiness balanced by an underlying elegance.  Everything in one swell bottle. The last vintage when no SO2 at all was used at bottling. Price: $189.99

Chateau Musar 1993: A bit darker, more mineral, more brooding than the 1995. (The beginning of ) maturity is a beautiful thing. Price: $219.99


Chateau Musar 2004: When young (and at 10 years, this one is indeed young), these wines are somewhat similar to a classic white Rioja.  With age (oh, like 20 – 50 years of age) they evolve into something otherworldly and completely magical.  Buy some for now – and some to hold…and hold…and hold...  Price:  $51.99

Chateau Musar 2000: Approaching 15 years of age, this bottle gives you a peek at the magical path these whites take as they age. All honey, mineral, crazy, exotic spiced goodness.  Price:  $69.99

To check availability and order any of these wines, click through to the WINES page here and enter MUSAR into the search field.

* I don’t have photographic proof of the margarita sipping. You’ll just have to believe me.



CIDER.... Like You've Never Seen It Before

Orleans.jpgCider is all the rage this autumn. We’ve always stocked some, but this season, grown-up apple juice has finally hit the mainstream. Well, maybe not the main mainstream, but they’re starting to catch on beyond wine geek circles. Don’t believe me? Then check out this week’s New York Times piece. (That best value cider… we love it and have stocked it for at least the last year. It’s even in this month’s wine club!)

So now that we’re having a cider moment, we wanted to highlight one of our favorites: Eden Ice Cider Company’s Orleans Herbal.  This is crazy stuff and it’s like nothing you’ve ever had before. It’s a Vermont-based collaboration between Eleanor Leger of Eden and Deirdre Heekin who owns and runs the nearby osteria pane e salute.  Apples are pressed, the juice is frozen to concentrate the flavors and sugars, fermented dry and then infused with a secret blend of herbs. OK - the secret herbs are anise hyssop and basil. The result is a unique taste of Vermont - like walking through an apple orchard on a brisk spring day with the scent of fresh herbs wafting through the air. Yes, wafting. So let a bit of this waft over to your table this autumn.

Drink it neat and chilled, on the rocks with a twist of lime or a splash of sparkling water, or get all fancy and whip up some cocktails. Think of it as Lillet with a New England accent.

Price: $34.99



navarre PdC.jpgR. Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux (Cognac, France): You may not know about Pineau des Charents. But you need to. You really, really need to. Broken down to a simple definition, Pineaux des Charents are basically unfermented grape juice fortified with cognac. But what they really are is magic. Pure, delicious, crazy good magic. They are sweet, but the kick of Cognac gives them a sweet/n/strong attitude that makes them so irresistible. There’s some of the nutty, caramel notes a tawny port, but with of freshness and liveliness that makes them oh, so charming. At around $65/bottle, they aren’t cheap, but if you try one, you’ll understand why one customer said, “I really wish I didn't know these existed.” They’re just that good. You’ll find yourself thinking about them while typing away at your desk, mulling over spreadsheets and the number of emails you need to send (or maybe that’s just me.)

Price: $68.99

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