Half-Bottle Heaven: Fire and Flood Pinot Noir

Getting into the world of top-tier Oregon Pinot Noir is usually so expensive for the average consumer, most will not even venture into the gorgeous art in a bottle that lies within. I think I've found a solution.

 
Mark Tarlov, Chapter 24

Mark Tarlov, Chapter 24

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be there for the launch of all the new Mark Tarlov wines, the original founder of Evening Land. Evening Land made big waves in the wine world after it started up in 2005, with vested interests in both Oregon and Burgundy. They always made great wine and got fantastic press. I couldn't wait to see what the next project was. It ended up being two projects. The first is the now well known Maison L'Envoye line, which are some of our most popular Pinots and Cru Beaujolais and a separate higher-tier venture called "Chapter 24."

Today, we delve into the latter, Chapter 24 being so named after the 24th chapter of Homer's great epic, The Odyssey. The reunion and the resolution of the great sung poetry of one of the greatest stories ever told. With that we have two of their releases "The Fire" & "The Flood", both Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, both with great press, both in half-bottle sizes and both at a price that makes a luxury wine actually approachable for anyone. Where a normal-sized 750ml bottle of either would be about $60 suggested retail, but a 375ml half sized bottle would only cost around $35. I want people to try these. I want everyone to have a chance to see why top-level Oregon Pinots are so revered.

 
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Chapter 24 "The Fire"
2013 Pinot Noir
375ml "Half Bottle"

93 Points Wine & Spirits
Suggested Retail: $35
Our Price: $19.99

The cleverly named "Fire" of the duo comes from a nod towards the soil composition these vines were planted in. If you've never been up to the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest, especially in Oregon, you are missing one of the most beautiful views on the continent. The breathtaking Cascade range was heavily formed by violent volcanic activity, which caused mass destruction, but also the foundations that would later bring all sorts of varied life. This volcanic soil brings an incredible amount of deep-lying material to the surface, adding a complexity that can be grasped by the roots of the grapevine and by the skill of a very talented winemaker, into your glass.

"Once past the gingerbread spice and subtle oak presence, the 2013 Fire is like a platonic statement of Jory and Nekia soil expression, its pulpy red-cherry fruit given a dusty lift from that red-dirt grippiness. The tannin-acid structure is at once subtle and gentle, propping up a ferrous, volcanic minerality that lends grace, length and even lift to a subtly assertive wine. "

-Wine & Spirits Magazine

Chapter 24 "The Flood"
2013 Pinot Noir
375ml "Half Bottle"

93 Points Wine & Spirits
Suggested Retail: $35
Our Price: $19.99

The equally cleverly named Flood of the duo gets it's name from the cataclysmic Missoula Floods. Over 13,000 years ago these massive geologic deluges reshaped the land with 2,000 years of reoccurring events across the Pacific Northwest, and with it the soil drastically changed. Sedimentary soils were flushed across the land, leaving deposits where hidden gems of the perfect Pinot growing conditions would later be taken advantage.

I remember as a child, there was a a severe flood that almost came up to our house, on a hill which we later learned was a 100 year flood plain. It was a bit frightening, but luckily it didn't climb all the way up to the house. After it receded, my father surveyed the land, finding huge deposits of silt we could use. He told me how farming along the Nile and other large agricultural civilizations could exist because of the fertility of this flood-brought treasure. Talk about silver linings...I thought we were going to lose our home!

Floods bring destruction and chaos, but they can change the landscape in a way few things can. The vines planted on the once heavily flooded lands of the Willamette Valley are a testament to that.

"The 2013 Flood derives from the Willamette Valley’s ocean-influenced, sedimentary soils. Quiet and firm at the outset, it develops with air, taking on a dark-cherry scent and a tarry depth of flavor. It’s not until it’s been open for two days that the fruit brightens into strawberry accents, becoming fleshy and mouthfilling in its ripeness. This needs time in the bottle to knit; then serve with duck breast."

-Wine & Spirits Magazine

Do not pass up these two excellent wines. If you have ever had an Oregon Pinot and enjoyed it, treat yourself and pick up both of these wines. I know I'm going to load up on some, as it's near impossible to find such high-quality wine in half bottles for this sort of price. Enjoy!

 

Cheers,

Zach Cherry
Wine Director & CMS Certified Sommelier

The Cherry Pick: Busted Bracket or Dominating, Both Are Good Reasons to Pop a Bottle

So, if anyone else had to apologize to their family and pets after screaming all sorts of new and interesting terms the baby hasn't heard yet (good things can bring out the loudness in my household)...here's some wines to chill that passion down.

First up was the #1 Best Buy of 2016, according to Wine Enthusiast. Maybe it'll be good luck for your #1 seed? Never know.

Overall #1 Best Buy on Wine Enthusiasts 100 Best Buys

ACROBAT
2015 Pinot Gris
Oregon

Suggested Retail: $13
Our Price: $10.49

"Flat-out delicious, this brings compelling fruit flavors of melon, papaya and pineapple, coupled with juicy, mouth-cleansing acidity. The depth and complexity are phenomenal for an Oregon Pinot Gris produced in large quantities." 91 points, Overall Best Buy of the Year.
-PAUL GREGUTT, Contributing Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Pinot Gris is always a crowd-pleaser, and there are few things more requested than "I want the best white wine for about $10." Usually, we don't have the top value of the year, readily available and matching one of the most requested daily-drinkers...but guess what? WE DO NOW! I bought plenty, so load up by the case now in preparation of the coming festivities.


RÉGIS MINET
2015 Pouilly-Fumé
(Sauvignon Blanc)
Vieilles Vignes (Old Vines)

Suggested Retail: $24
Our Price: $18.99

94 Rating (well deserved, IMO)
Wine & Spirits Magazine

"Regis Minet took over his grandfather's vines in 1976 and went on to make a small business out of Pouilly-Fumé, now farming 25 acres, most of the vines between 25 and 30 years old, all on clay--limestone soils. He makes a clean wine, fermenting without added yeasts in stainless steel, where it ages on the lees for six months. And perhaps it is the cleanness that's so appealing in 2015, the breezy freshness of the grapes, the fleshy fatness of the vintage and the mineral length of flavor combining in a gracious white. It hints at yellow apple and delicate wild-strawberry fruit as the flavors develop with air, suggesting the complexity that will develop with a few years of bottle age."

My Take: Pouilly-Fumé is a place, not a varietal, as most of France is established. It is situated DEEP into the center of the country, not too far away from Paris. I absolutely think the Loire Valley (where Pouilly-Fumé is situated) is the greatest location for Sauvignon Blanc on the planet. The only problem for most of the greatest producers is the price. Finding one for under $25 is a rare prize, indeed. I luckily have a limited quantity at a discounted price, as I just want people to try it.

This beauty is imported by Kermit Lynch, which is--in my humble opinion--one of the 5 best importers of French wine (they import from other countries, but French is really their specialty). I make a point to swing by their storefront in north Berkley, CA whenever possible to see what the hottest releases they have available.. So far, this is making a pretty strong case for best Sauv Blanc in the world for the dollar from the 2015 vintage. This is an auto-buy, do not even think about passing up on this one.

Alexander Valley Vineyards
2016 Rose of Sangiovese
(Limited Release)

$14.99

 

This is too early to even have a rating. I hope that doesn't even matter if I'm saying something is good, but it's always nice to have all the information on the table.

That said...this is good. Every year we get the Alexander Valley Vineyards Rose of Sangiovese (colloquially just called the AVV Rose or 'A Double V Pink'), we sell out of our allocation within a month. I feel bad that there isn't some sort of announcement, as people will come in a month too late and ask how they are supposed to know when it comes out. This newsletter! You sign up for a reason and that's to be in the know.

So, how does it drink?
Well, the grape known as Sangiovese gets it's name from Roman times when it meant the "Blood of Jupiter", for how it gave strength and resolve to their troops. I took a bottle home earlier this week and popped it while watching a very enjoyable game where Mason, Jackson, Graham and even Vick BROUGHT THE THUNDER (with a 360 dunk) and absolutely CRUSHED the competition...ahem...I was able to sip some pretty delicious juice. It's refreshing and lively, with raspberry, guava, watermelon and mint just shoot out of the glass. It's gorgeous, and pretty darn affordable. Get it while you can, because we are actually allocated a supply of this. It comes out in one swoop and if we're lucky, we get a second one in a month or so. But that's a big "if". I can only promise what we currently have. Better safe than sorry, and you won't sorry be if you pick some up today.

 

97 point Cab? Score big during the tourney for under $30!

SOLD OUT!!!

LOUIS MARTINI
2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Alexander Valley, CA

$26.99

The BIG BROTHER of the ever popular and affordable Sonoma county cabernet is hard to come by. *Limit 2 alexander valley cabs per customer (don't want to split up a house any more during the tourney). VERY limited quantity. First come basis. Sorry, no reservations on this one. Available for pickup at the wine information center at our Overland Park location.

 

97 Rating

Robert Parker, founder of
The Wine Advocate

(and literally the guy who standardized the 100 point Rating system 40 years ago)

"The bigger, richer 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Sirah aged 16 months in 50% new French and American casks. This is a bigger wine and close to 2% higher in alcohol at 15.5%. There are 11,000 cases of this big, full-bodied, boisterous Cabernet Sauvignon that has a dense ruby/purple color, notes of underbrush, forest floor, tobacco leaf and oodles of blackcurrants and black cherries, with a touch of woodsmoke. The full-bodied wine hits the palate with a cascade of glycerin, fruit and purity. This is a beauty – dense, rich, and structured, but capable of lasting 20 or more years."

 

Rosés are Starting to Roll in

Bigger is better. Can't wait for this to get Photoshopped by my friends.

Bigger is better. Can't wait for this to get Photoshopped by my friends.

SAINT AIX Rosé
$18.99/750ml
$34.99/1.5L

Limited Stock on Magnums

The first shipments of the freshest rosé offerings are coming in (Northern Hemisphere will be releasing the new ones now through May). First up from Provence--the land of Rosé--is Saint AIX.

This dry, crisp beauty is extremely well made. The aromas consist abundantly of red fruit, such as cherries, strawberries and even some red apple characters. The palate is structured, and the finish wonderfully lingers with spring roses. For those who like to be social, nothing makes a statement like a magnum of quality rosé at a gathering!

Through the Grapevine: 2017 Napa...it's Wet.

Picture from Napa Valley Vintage Reports: https://napavintners.com/napa_valley/vintage_charts.asp

Picture from Napa Valley Vintage Reports: https://napavintners.com/napa_valley/vintage_charts.asp

I just got back from another trip to Napa Valley a couple weeks ago and wanted to chime in on how things are looking. Damp. In Oakville, there were many vineyards that had standing water and even some of the hillside and mountain vineyards of Stags Leap District and Howell Mountain have been getting soaked. We drove past Lake Hennessey about a dozen times, and the water is HIGH.

Some vineyards with good drainage still suffered from washout, the topsoil being cleared away from the fast traveling draining water. But I would suspect that hillside vineyards still did fairly better than those on the valley floor. Waterlogged soil can affect later vintages for the vine health and loss of topsoil through the highly erosive downpour has it's own affects as nutrients and protection for the root ball are washed away. The waterlogging prevents the vines from being able to get much needed nitrogen, and can cause chlorosis (leaves start to wilt and lose their color), the canopy is compromised. This will greatly affect later ripening conditions.

Damaged vines and washed out soil might hurt some valley-floor production for years to come, but there is a silver lining to these rain clouds. The precipitation will help growth and a less-stressful time for winemakers as they can stockpile water storage for the valley, in preparation for the next unforeseen stint of dry years. Even if one dry farms, water is needed for daily operations, frost protection, cleaning and so forth.

So what does this mean for the 2017 vintages and thereafter? Best outcome, we sacrifice the 2017 and maybe the 2018 vintages (keep our fingers crossed) to the grape gods for better vintages in the future. To actually have this much water again in Napa is a long term good thing, as low yields from dry years have been driving grape prices up. With that said, I'd highly suggest you stock up while you can on up to 2016 vintages. We'll most likely have those boring or flawed vintages incoming from mid-level producers. Top-tier producers might sell off inferior juice and keep the best for themselves or their buddies.

I'll be back out there in early May and give an update. Hopefully things clear up a bit and the healing begins.

 

Zach Cherry, Wine Director & Certified Sommelier
Lukas Wine & Spirits Superstore, Overland Park, KS

The Cherry Pick: Chateau Unang 2014 Ventoux Rouge

Chateau Unang
2014 Ventoux Rouge

$15.99/750ml

From a lesser-known southern Rhone appellation, Ventoux can either be a decent value wine or a true diamond in the rough. This is the latter. I've had this as my selection on our Consultant's Picks for a little bit, and we've flown through quite a bit. But we're coming up on the end of the available vintage soon, and I really wanted everyone to get a chance to try it while we have some, as they made less than 1700 case. Which isn't very much. It will also be taking a price increase soon, due to the market. But right now, for under $20, this is one of my favorite wines in the store. There's deep, dark fruit, with a smokey counter balance and almost BBQ sauce tang. Great on it's own, or fora  pairing it'd be perfect with a roast or brisket.

James Moleworth of Wine Spectator seems to agree:

90 Points

"Features a singed mesquite note piercing the core of lightly steeped plum and black cherry fruit, while hints of garrigue and violet fleck the finish. There's good range and character here. Drink now through 2018. 1,650 cases made."

–JM

The Cherry Pick: Over $5 off 92 point Argentinian Beauty!

Delicious Argentinian Red that Checks ALL the Boxes!

You know I'm all about the great deals, especially after personally buying a bunch of wine for my collection while I was in DC (some of the best shops specialty shops are there). Here's one I had my eye on, but didn't want to go all-in until I'd tried it. A couple nights ago I finally took one home, and was quite happy I had done so. I bought everything there was left in the state (hence the "JoCo Exclusive"). Only one other location in Wichita has some, that I know of.

Casarena

2014 "Sinco" Red Blend
Mendoza, Argentina

Suggested Retail: $21.99

Our Price: $14.99

Plus 10% case discount still applies!!!
*Available at our Overland Park Location

"Owned by two New Yorkers in love with Mendoza, Casarena is based in two classical regions: Agrelo and Perdriel. Winemaker Bernardo Bossi blends cabernet sauvignon and malbec in a wine that shows a delicious array of fresh red fruit and spice notes, like pepper and cinnamon. It's gentle enough to drink now with a fatty fish like sea bass, yet structured enough to cellar another five years." -Wine & Spirits Magazine

The Cherry Pick: Racy Rioja Rates in Two Top Lists

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BOTEGAS MONTECILLO
Viña Cumbrero
2010 Rioja Crianza
$12.99

Top 10 under $15, 2016 - Wine Enthusiast - 90 Points
Top 100: 2014, Rank: 62 - Wine Spectator - 90 Points

I'm all about spending hard earned bucks on truly great wines for exceptionally memorable experiences, but I also need to get a new family vehicle, the tree in the front yard needs some professional trimming, we have that destination wedding to attend in a couple months and also have to repaint the house and...well, suddenly I'm thinking "how about a great wine on a budget?" Tax returns only go so far.

Once again, Spain comes to the rescue with an incredible value that few other countries can match. Where else do you find a highly acclaimed wine like this for under $15? Viña Cumbrero 2010 Crianza is the answer to my conundrum. Thank you, Spain! Thank you so much!

My notes:  Friendly aromas of cocoa powder, luscious raspberry, bright cherry, a subtle herbaceous nature with slightly savory spice notes are hinted. On the palate, the tannins are firm but elegant, with a structure that would drink wonderfully with everything from a grilled ribeye steak, duck cassoulet or even if put on a very light chill I would love to try with a vegetarian red curry with coconut milk. Extremely flexible and definitely meant to pair with an impeccable balance and lovely acidic lift to stay interesting...not to mention a perfectly utilized 13.5% ABV. Not boozy, but still has just enough weight.

I think this is a wine that is the humble musician. It doesn't try to be in the center, under the spotlight, but plays an undeniably important support cast, lifting the main player to new heights. A MUST PAIR wine that will elevate an innumerable amount of dishes. Would drink well on it's own without distracting from conversation, like good jazz music in the background.

 

Cheers,

Zach Cherry, Wine Director & Certified Sommelier
Lukas Wine & Spirits Superstore, Overland Park KS