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Fancy Pants Wines

Feeling flush? Won the lottery? Looking for something special? Our commitment to great value doesn’t stop at a certain price point. Let us make a few suggestions.

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BRING ON THE BUBBLES: The Glamorous Pink One

La Caravelle Brut Rosé Champagne NV
(Champagne, France):

la caravelle.jpgNo this isn’t a trendy Grower Champagne. And it’s not meant to express the individual terroir of a single village or vineyard. It’s just meant to be a delicious. This is the “house” sparkling created by Rita and André Jamet, owners of the famed restaurant, La Caravelle. Grower Champagnes and the small farmers behind them may get all the press these days, but sometimes, you still want a little glamor in your glass.

Dry, subtle berry fruit, and a touch of brioche; this wine, like the Jamets themselves, is lively and elegant – a timeless classic. (And it also happens to be a great value.)

Price: $39.99


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.


Look What the White Rhone Fairy Left!

Souhout Blanc.jpgHerve Souhaut Blanc 2012 (L'Ardeche, Rhone, France):

Silky and lush, yet supple and lifted. This elegant wine from arguably, one of the best wine producing regions in the world is laden with pear and fig notes, as well as extremely balanced minerality without any added SO2.

Who would have expected this delight from from vines that are considered ancient in the winemaking world: between 50 and 100 years old!

Price: $29.99

The Hills are Alive... with Altesse!

Altesse2.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

BRING ON THE BUBBLES: The Sneaky Value One

Filaine.jpgAlexandre Filaine Cuvee Speciale Brut NV
(Champagne, France):

Unless you regularly skulk around in the geeky depths of the grower champagne world, you’ve probably never heard of the Fabrice Gass (the winemaker) or Alexandre Filaine (the wine.) But you probably have heard of Bollinger. Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Fabrice is involved in both Bolly and Filaine. Not surprisingly, Filaine has a lushness  and opulence that remind us of Bolly. But for a few less bucks. It’s one of those strange miracles of the modern wine world – you can get the tiny production, minimally-messed with bottles for less than the larger production goods. Why? We don’t know. But we’re happy when it works out this way.

Price: $52.99


A Very Pretty Bouzy Rouge

Bouzy Rouge.jpgBenoit Lahaye Bouzy Rouge NV (2012) (Coteaux Champenois, France): Bouzy Rouge… absolute best wine name ever. Try to say it without smiling. Nearly impossible. Yes, it’s Bouzy, (a village in the Montagne de Reims area of Champagne) not ‘boozy.’ But it sounds the same. It’s a Coteaux Champenois – a catch-all for "still wines made in what would otherwise be called Champagne if they were sparkling."

I will admit, I am a bit obsessed with these wines, and Benoit Lahaye’s is the one that set me off. It was probably over five years ago (oh how time flies!) that we had one at the shop in a line-up of random bottles brought over by John’s friend from France. There were some stunning wines open, but the Lahaye Bouzy Rouge was my favorite. It was delicious – gorgeous red Pinot Noir fruit with a bright, firm core of minerality. The elegance, purity, and focus of Burgundy combined with the liveliness and drinkability of really good Beaujolais. There was also a certain element of wanting what you can’t have: like all Coteaux Champenois, this one is made only in tiny quantities, and it wasn’t currently for sale in the US market.

Fast forward to now, and there’s a quiet buzz building around Benoit Lahaye’s bubbles. (Google him, and you’ll find plenty of background, including an early piece by Champagne-sage Peter Liem.) And his Bouzy Rouge? Two years ago I managed to beg, plead, and pester dear importer Jeffrey Alpert into getting me five cases. Last year, with interest in Lahaye and Coteaux Champenois building among the wine retail set, I managed to get one case. This year, I pulled rank and snagged two. We couldn't resiste opening a bottle at the shop and it's as delicious as ever.

So if you’re looking for something special and value rarity, a good story, and sheer deliciousness, then this is your wine.

SALE PRICE: $59.99



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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