For Mindblowing Rasteau, Aphillanthes is The Way to Go!

2010 Domaine Les Aphillanthes Rasteau 1921

Owner Daniel Boulle is a perfectionist whose viticultural zeal produces peerlessly pristine fruit. With minuscule yields his grapes, thanks to consulting advice from our big buddy, famed winemaker Philippe Cambie, create some of the most incredible, unbelievably rich yet restrained Grenache-driven wines my palate has encountered. This Rasteau wine punches through the stratosphere of pleasure, the depth of the fruit from a plot planted in 1921 produces waves of flavor tethered by a savoriness that leaves you wanting more. This might be the find of a lifetime… and you’re gonna need to taste it yourself to fully comprehend its magnificence.


2010 Domaine Les Aphillanthes 1921

2010 Domaine les Aphillanthes
Rasteau 1921

…Gorgeously rich and decadent, with a full-bodied, powerful mouth feel that stays light, elegant, and fresh, this blockbuster Rasteau is beautifully concentration, structured, and has a heady, very long finish….

Rhone’s Most Luscious Bargain: 93-point Roche ’09

2009 Domaine Roche Cotes du Rhone Villages-Cairanne Bousquette, CairanneWe found the Rhone’s next great winemaker and the next great AOC. You’re lucky we did. And be very glad we met young Romain Roche before the fabulous 2009 vintage. When we met Romain last year he was working in an old unmarked stone building down the hill from Cairanne. That’s one of the best villages in the Cotes du Rhone and a sure bet to move up to Cru status along with Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Its good rep hangs on very old vines on the stony plain, where Roche’s parents have 15 prime, gnarly hectares. They used to sell their beautiful grenache to big outfits but Romain knew they should stand on their own. He came back after a few years in the outside wine world and now they do. He’s only made a coupla vintages so far and used a mobile bottling machine parked outside to do that. He’s as charming as his wine. But nothing’s new-fangled about the 2009 Bousquette, it’s ripe old school stuff and stains the glass and fills the nose with smoke and spice and coats the palate with earthy sweets. Like rolling around on a thick Oriental rug and savoring the exotic softness. Plus a price you can’t beat, 20% off. Run-n-tell that!

2009 Roche Côtes du Rhone Villages-Cairanne “La Bousquette”

“Displays stunning roasted herbs, garrigue, lavender, black cherry and raspberry with some pepper and loamy soil notes. The complex aromatics are followed by a broad, expansive, full-bodied wine with fabulous density, sweet tannin and a long finish. This is absolutely amazing wine…”  93 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

Pesquie Prize Pack: 94 Point Wine

Never seen it before either yet it’s true. When you taste the 2010 Terrasses from Pesquie, you’ll be a believer too. Pesquie is a favorite estate of Parker and in 2010 it has made a blockbuster. Old vine Grenache and Syrah so rich you’d swear it was a top Chateauneuf-du-Pape, with blackberries, raspberries and everything else in the Rhone kitchen, licorice, tea, spice and pepper. One secret is that the vineyards are in the promising AOC on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, that beautiful chunk of Provence in the last stages of the Tour de France. The other is that the wine is a custom blend of our friend, the brilliant Eric Solomon. You won’t be satisfied with just one bottle at this price and I can’t let you take it all, so I’ve put together a phenomenal case deal. You get nine bottles of the 2010 Terrasses (94WA) and I’ll throw in three more Pesquies you must try. These are a true bonus, the vivacious Viognier from 2010  and Pesquie’s two top dollar cuvees, the sleek Syrah-based 2009 Quintessence (93WA) and the great big super cuvee Artemia from 2005. That makes a case of Provence at its best for a remarkable bottle average. You’re gonna want that.

Pesquie Prize Sampler Pack

Pesquie Prize Pack

9 Bottles: 2010 Terrasses (94WA)

1 Bottle: 2010 Viognier

1 Bottle: 2005 Artemia

1 Bottle: 2009 Quintessence (93WA)

2010 Cercius CdR is 93 points wonderful.

2010 Cercius CdP RougeThis old vine Cotes du Rhone is so rich the Wine Advocate says it’s darn near Chateauneuf du Pape, surely one of the best CdR’s ever. I know why. The 2010’s we tasted in the southern Rhone in January were even more beautiful than the 2009’s, and these grapes, mostly Grenache, are wonderfully gnarled oldies from the rocky stretch just south of CdP. And mostly because of the people, this is the work of three of my best buds, our old pal Eric Solomon and our dear new friends, the brilliant grower Michel Gassier and consulting genius Philippe Cambie. I love you guys. If you met them in earlier this year in Tarpon you do too. And especially this latest wine of theirs; intense in the nose and the mouth, lipsmacking blackberry, licorice and pepper and herbs de Provence. Parker’s crew called it “hedonistic” I might go “decadent.” Even more exciting, the boat just arrived with stacks of cases marked “B-21” and you want to scoop them up now at this price. One of the top values on the planet and it’s from our own Gang of Pour. You’re gonna want that.

Sexy ’07 Chateauneuf du Pape is Eddie Feraud’s best: 93 pts!

2007 Eddie Feraud CdPAnd his best is getting better. Just opened another bottle of ’07 the other night and it was moving on up gorgeously. For me 2007 in the Rhone was exceptional but even better in wines like the sumptuous CdP of Domaine Eddie Feraud. Eddie Feraud is a special favorite of mine. This is classic old-vine Chateauneuf. You get an amazing spectrum of flavors, juicy fruits from cherry to blackberry, plus meaty, smoky tastes, herbs and pepper spice. Together, the Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre are velvety on the tongue, strong of backbone and long finishing. To make sure you try it, I have knocked the price down to $34.99, a luscious bottle at a steal. You’re gonna want that.

2007 Eddie Feraud, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

“Bright ruby. Lively raspberry, cherry and rose aromas are complemented by notes of star anise, candied flowers and white pepper.”  93 Points,Stephen Tanzer, IWC

92 point wine for Under $15 bucks? Tres Picos! Bravo!

My old flame. This has been our big-hit Spanish red year in and year out and I like it even better now that I’ve been there. Been to the mountain or at least I saw the three peaks above the Campo de Borja, about an hour southeast of Rioja. However the three ingredients that make Tres Picos so good are the old Granacha of the rocky red Borja 2009 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos plain, the crew at Bodegas and the Energizer-conejo, Jorge Ordoñez. I sat down with all of them this summer, first a long tasting in the Baronial Winery itself and then for two more delicious hours in a Zaragoza tapas bar. The Tres Picos is exceptionally rich, easy to drink, and packed with earth and fruit as it is every year. But this vintage was remarkable, brilliantly and carefully made. My best wine of the day and in the running for best of a 10-day trip. Drink it now or stick in the cellar next to fine Aussies and Rhones; the quality will shame them; the price will shock them. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos

“The 2009 Tres Picos is a worthy successor to the string of splendid vintages which have preceded it. Heady black cherry and blackberry aromas, Asian spices, incense, and mineral notes lead to a dense, layered, rich old-vine Garnacha that over-delivers in a big way.”  92 points, Robert Parker’s WA

My Best Buy in 2009 Chateauneuf: Don’t Miss Domaine Giraud (93, 94)!

2009 Domine Giraud TraditionMarie and Francois, the young siblings who now run Giraud are some of my favorite folks. They’re among the smartest of the new CDP generation and just lovely people. Team B-21’s still talking about the 2 hour lunch with Marie (at Restaurant Gerard Alonso in Sorgues, one menu, his choice, exquisite. Tell him I sent you). All of you raved when we opened the Gallimardes at the Eric Solomon container sale this spring. The 2009 wines are intense and full of their passion, dark fruit with a kiss of kirsch and licorice, especially from 100 year-old Grenache in the stony Gallimardes vineyard (the large round pebbles that warm the vines in the evening). Be sure to try the Gallimardes blanc, the best white Chateauneuf I’ve had in a long time, richer than a lot of red CDP’s! And at $10 off you’d be a fool to pass it up. All the Giraud wines, red and white, are top value in the AOC, superstars of a great vintage and at real-people prices. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Domaine Giraud Tradition, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

“Dense but stylish, with a silky texture to the cassis, macerated cherry and linzer torte flavors, followed by ample spice, pepper, warm ganache and black tea…” 93 Points, Wine Spectator

2009 Domaine Giraud Chateauneuf du Pape Gallimardes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

“Red rounded and fleshy, with a very juicy core of kirsch, black currant and plum fruit layered with mouthwatering notes of sweet spice and tobacco…”  94 Points, Wine Spectator

2009 Domaine Giraud ‘Gallimardes’ Blanc, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

“Very ripe and lush, with gorgeous white peach, persimmon, creamed pear, spring ginger and salted butter flavors that all glide seamlessly together through the lengthy, pure finish.”  93 Points, Wine Spectator

Parker’s “Absolutely Outrageous Value” 95 pt. Ventoux

Vindemio PackAnd Robert P. didn’t know about my Prize Pack, a case of the brilliant young Vindemio for a stunning price if you take advantage of this pre-sale deal! Most of that case is nine, count ‘em 9, bottles of the 2010 Imagine cuvee that has Parker raving. Filling out the dozen are three bottles of the 2008 Regain so you can see how the winery has grown. Buying both vintages was how I was able to get my hands on so much of that 95-pointer at this insiders-only price. I’ve followed this winery in the Cotes du Ventoux since I tasted the first vintage with importer pal Eric Solomon. This gorgeous corner of Provence has really come into its own. Ours too if you got any of the Argiles from Philip Gimel, another 95-pt Ventoux (had to be quick; that sold out in hours). The founders of Vindemio are just as smart and passionate. Very smart, given the Domaine opened in 2006. The Grenache and Syrah in these bottles is much older, meaty and juicy. Amazing wine. You’re gonna want that.
9 BOTTLES —2010 Domaine Vindemio Imagine
“An absolutely outrageous value and a great wine in its own right, the equal part blend of Syrah and Grenache, the 2010 Vindemio Imagine, is also aged completely in concrete casks, This is an amazing wine, displaying notes of meat juices, spring flowers, black raspberries, blackberries and cassis. Full-bodied, unctuously textured, rich and full, but with remarkable purity and freshnes…”  95 points, Robert Parker’s WA

9 BOTTLES — 2009 Domaine Vindemio Regain

“Formerly known as Domaine Murmurium (an estate that garnered favorable reviews from this publication a decade ago), this property was purchased by Murmurium’s winemaker and a group of friends after the estate collapsed economically. Resurrected as Domaine Vindemio, the current owners are fashioning some super bargains meant for serious wine consumers.”  88 points, Robert Parker’s WA

Andezon Survival Kit

One reason I love the Rhone is this absolutely joyful wine, spilling over with currants and blackberries, a world of smoke, spice, bacon fat, and every other good taste I can imagine. Our friend Eric Solomon, the ever-clever importer and Rhone lover, assembles this Cotes du Rhone blend every year from old vine Syrah and Grenache and he’s outdone himself in the last few years. I’ve put together a package of three vintages, call it a sorta vertical or Andezon’s Greatest Hits: the crisp 2007, the more intense 2009, and the floral 2010. Which ones? I’d say four of each and you won’t go wrong. That’s a whale of a deal on what Parker already called one of the “very best bargains in dry red wine… anywhere in the world.” You’re gonna want that.
Andezon Cotes du Rhone
“exhibits sweet blackberry and cassis fruit interwoven with notions of spring flowers, licorice, and road tar. It possesses a lovely texture, crisp acids (a characteristic of this vintage), medium to full body, and a long, smooth finish…”  89 Points, Robert M. Parker
“Offers explosive notes of smoky bacon fat, cassis, and blackberries, a deep, rich, chewy style, and an exuberant, flashy personality. With unbelievable flavor intensity and personality for its price…”  91 Points, Robert M. Parker
“This wine comes from 40+-year-old Syrah vines and 60+-year-old Grenache vines, bottled unfined and unfiltered after being aged in both tank and concrete. Dense ruby/purple, with a stunning nose of blackberry liqueur and jus de viande (beef/meat juices), its thrilling, intensely pure, full-bodied mouthfeel, good freshness, and striking floral character all combine for one of the very best bargains in dry red wine that readers are likely to find anywhere in the world….” 91 Points, Robert M. Parker

Spend an endless summer in Provence with Gassier’s 91-pointers, under $15.

Hope you met our friend Michel Gassier when he was at B-21 this winter, you know he’s as sunny as Provence itself. If not you’ll love meeting him in the wines I’m offering to you French buyers who look beyond Burgundy and Bordeaux. They certainly make Parker smile. Gassier puts all the sun and rocky terroir of Provence into his wines. And on them too with names like Nostre Pais (“our land” in the Provencal dialect) and playful pictures of the Provencal and their symbols like the icon of Nimes, the crocodile. More important Gassier and his wines have serious roots in the Costieres de Nimes and the Cotes du Rhone. When we met him at his place in Nimes this year, he was eager to show us all around, from the seaview vineyards to the old Roman amphitheatre in the city. He loves Grenache, red and white, and thinks the grapes are as noble as they are indigenous. For him and his consultant, Philippe Cambie (I hope you met him too) Grenache is the soul of the south. That really shows in his Cericus wines, where Grenache Blanc makes very distinct full bodied whites, flavored with flowers, ripe pears and cinnamon and a bright mineral tang. I have ’09 and ’10 of Cercius blanc; get both and you’ll see that the wine gods smiled on the Rhone back to back. His richest blanc is the ’09 Nostre Pais, which he ferments carefully, half in barrel and half in cement. A coupla dollars more but a honey of a wine. If you’d rather red, Gassier’s show off big CdR Grenache rouge from Visan is a deep dark red with black fruit, spice and fresh minerality. Wish I had a lamb sandwich or a bowl of bouillabaisse right now. Have them priced at $15 or less so you can be as carefree as a day in Provence. You’re gonna want that.

2009 Cercius Blanc Costieres de Nimes

“Light straw-colored with a greenish hue, it exhibits attractive freshness along with plenty of melony fruit intermixed with honeyed citrus, white currants, and flowers. Medium-bodied and long, with some underlying minerality intertwined with its delightful fruit character…” 90 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2010 Cercius Blanc Costieres de Nimes

2009 Cercius Cotes du Rhone Villages Visan

“This medium to full-bodied wine possesses a deep ruby/purple color in addition to copious black currant and black cherry fruit interwoven with graphite, crushed rocks, and spice, excellent fruit intensity, a full-bodied mouthfeel, good acidity, and light tannins…” 91 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

2009 Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Blanc Costieres de Nimes

“a more honeyed, richer, fuller-bodied effort with plenty of texture as well as beautifully pure notes of quince, white currants, flowers, and an unmistakable minerality. Half of the wine is barrel fermented and the other half is aged in concrete. This fresh, textured beauty exhibits structure, purity, and length…”  91 Points, Robert Parker’s WA

My Spanish treasure: Sexy ’09 Alto Moncayos (93, 95). Reserve yours.

On our trip through Spain this summer, the newest vintage of Alto Moncayo and its vineyards in Campo de Borja were a highlight. Alto Moncayo is a project of Jorge Ordoñez that has drawn raves for the first vintages. But the latest from 2009 beats them all. Voluptuous with dark fruits and heady aromas of spice in both the Veraton and especially in the cuvee Alto Moncayo. Superb: the Veraton 93 and the Alto Moncayo 95, and those scores are conservative. Can’t wait until they, and I, have more time. After walking in the vineyards there I can see that quality and distinct character come naturally. The terroir there south of Rioja is red: red slate mixed with red clay, hot, dry, and windy. Prime for Garnacha and the vines are quite old, fruit for the Veraton is from vines more than 40 years old, while the Alto Moncayo comes from vines that are over 60. Owners have built a handsome new winery just for these wines and they deserve it. This is one of Spain’s finest Garnachas (and great values), so I reserved a good quantity for B-21’s Spanish fans with pre-sale pricing, so order now to be assured you’ll get your share of these gorgeous wines. You’re gonna want that.


2009 Bodegas Alto Moncayo Veraton

93 points, Bob Sprentall



2009 Bodegas Alto Moncayo

95 points, Bob Sprentall

2007 Black Slate Rocks Priorat, Succulent Spain

black-slate-porrera-lBy now you know we love the Priorats, the hot “new” wines from a very old corner of Spain. Love how you can taste the very slick and slatey licorella rocks of the terroir, down deep in the richness. And it smells like you’re in the mountains, climbing through gorse and wild herbs. Peasants have climbed up there to grow grapes for centuries and their modern successors get $50 to $100 a bottle and up. At last you caught a break and can dive into Priorat with the wines of Black Slate for much less. Lucky for you we know Daphne Glorian of Clos Erasmus, one of the founding winemakers of the Priorat revival, and her husband Eric Solomon the importer. He started Black Slate not far from Erasmus to make village wine, vi de poble, from the same Garnacha and Cariñena and the same rocks as the big stars. In 2007, Black Slate made two wines. The one from Porrera is a classic old vine Garnacha-Cariñena made by a winemaker whose family has been in Priorat for 200 years. The other, from Gratallops, is more interntaional, with Cabernet and Merlot mixed in. Yet both pack the blackberries, licorice, spice of Spain’s most distinctive terroir into a very sleek red at an unprecented price. You’re gonna want that.

Four Stunning Rhones You Gotta Try 91-pt Andezon, 92-pt CdR Blanc

Rhone_SignBy now my love of the Rhône is an open secret. Must be the excitement of watching a great traditional region reclaim its energy and flavor. Bordeaux and Burgundy are full of pleasures but they are known — and at this point, maybe too much so, watching the global big spenders drive up their prices. Not yet the Rhône. Outside Châteauneuf-du-Pape proper, Grenache and Syrah are doing new tricks in great vineyards and with great winemakers. If you met Philippe Cambie and the Gang of Pour at the shop a couple of months ago, you know how good and passionate they are. And they’re great value but that’s almost beside the point because the quality would be worth the price. Where else but the Côtes du Rhône can you get a 91-pt wine of silk and spice like the Andezon for under $20? Same price on the ’09 Côtes du Ventoux Pesquie Terrasses; you gotta have a case of that for the summer. Better stash a white too, that new ’10 CdR blanc from Andre Brunel’s (of Chateauneuf fame) Domaine Becassonne is the richest parfait of flavors and meticulous wine making I’ve had. It’s a 92 in my book yet we’re selling it for under $20, a super value. And for a sip of the future in the new wines of the old Rhône, get a bottle of the ’09 Calendal Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Cambie’s sensational Grenache/Mourvedre from the Plan de Dieu. Parker gives it a 92. You’re gonna want all that.


Sunday School: Resveratrol Rewards the Sluggish and Infirmed

Lazy-mouseAre you lazy? Like to drink? Me too!

Listen up, fellow languid boozers. Scientists recently discovered that God has been rewarding us for both sloth and gluttony.

As researchers often do, they assembled a bunch of mice and divided them into two groups, giving daily doses of resveratrol to those in only one. In the test group, researchers observed diminished muscle mass, strength and bone density, and the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Those in the group subjected to regular resveratrol poppers enjoyed a reprieve from such effects. This suggests that resveratrol not only helps the fight against diabetes and osteoporosis, it likely does so with little to no effort on our part.

So rip open your Netflix, pull the coffee table close to the sofa, and hunker down with a nice bottle of red. And don’t forget to shut off your ringer.