Monday, March 27, 2006

May French Arrivals

New French wines have arrived at Millesime! This is the best group that I've put together thus far, really amazing wines here, including a number of firsts.


After superb 2002s, extraordinarily successful 2003s, we are back to form with the more classic 2004s and now 2005. This team of brothers produces exquisitely racy floral and mineral laden wines. Critically acclaimed in France, where they are bistrot favorites, in Seattle they are priced several trade levels below the competition.

2005 SANCERRE BLANC - Balanced, fruity, floral and mineral effort. This is easily the best Sancerre Blanc available in Seattle for the price.
2004 POUILLY FUME - Weightier than the Sancerre, this qualifies as a 'screaming deal' - a stunning example priced well below market. ** in the 2006 Guide Hachette with the best qp/r in the entire appellation.
2005 SANCERRE ROSE - Love them or hate them, global warming has been good to Sancerre Rose (and also the Red). Delicate, but in no way wimpy, hight-toned fruit with great class.


Speaking of a return to the classics, the 2004 Saumurs fit the bill. Lots more acidity than 2003, but still plenty juicy, with much better balance.
2004 SAUMUR BLANC RESERVE DES VIGNERONS - More like the 2002, but richer and with excellent acid.
2005 CABERNET DE SAUMUR RESERVE DES VIGNERONS - Delightful rosé of Cabernet Franc, practically unheard of in the USA.
2004 SAUMUR ROUGE RESERVE DES VIGNERONS - This is much more typical than the 2003 which was something of an oddball. Very good color and concentration nevertheless in this medium-bodied example, with nothing like the weediness of past years.
2004 SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY "LES POYEUX" - The cheapest champigny available is also a deeply colored, rich example of great Loire Cab. Franc that is eminently satisfying.


When I tried these guys' wine I became a believer, and I never thought that I'd say that about Muscadet! Well, I'm still staying away from Gros Plant!



I became familiar in the 1990s (and fell in love) with this estate during my days working for a broker in France. It answers my desire for higher end Chenin quite nicely.

2004 SAVENNIERES ROCHE AUX MOINES SEC - Crazy complex, citrus, flowers, mineral, super classy.
2002 SAVENNIERES ROCHE AUX MOINES MOELLEUX "CUVEE DES NONNES" - This wine won a ** Coup de Coeur in the 2005 Guide Hachette. This is the late-harvest or 'moelleux' style with residual sugars tempering the raciness of the Chenin. Citrus, white flowers, and a finish a mile long. Shockingly, the domaine still had some left of this. Link to GH review is here: GH pdf


I 'discovered' this estate back in 2000 at a Bordeaux satellite trade show in France. Bertrands wines are always dark, lush and quite delightful examples. The Chateau's regularity of quality over the years is really quite exceptional.

2003 PREMIERES COTES DE BLAYE ROUGE "PRESTIGE" - Those of you who enjoyed the 2001 will find much more to like here in this lusty claret, composed of 60% merlot and 35% Cab. Sauv., 5% Cab. Franc. Very deep, with cassis and other dark fruits on a frame of velvety tannins, with delicate and judicious oak. One of the best QPR wines I've seen in ages!

- First time ever imported to the USA! This Blaye estate is regularly on top of the field with two Coup de Coeurs in the 2006 Guide Hachette.


- Philippe Chéty of Mercier is the originator of the minimally interventionist "culture raisonée" philosophy. The wines are regulars in the various Winner's Circles.

2003 COTES DE BOURG ROUGE - Those who missed their chance the last time around on the 2001 will be delighted to discover this fine claret. Gold medal at Bourg, i.e. a tasting of its peers.
2003 COTES DE BOURG ROUGE "PRESTIGE" - Those who loved the 2001 will be delighted to discover the 2003, also a Gold medal winner at the Paris Concours Général.

- This gold medal winning estate returns with a lovely Tavel. The domaine’s name derives from the dark days when a villager was designated to signal the arrival of wolves by blowing a horn.

2005 TAVEL – While Tavel is one of France’s great rose wines, it need not be one of the most expensive. Again, this is what happens when you work directly with the producers - a superb 2005 at a 90s price!

Interest was strong for the BUG wines, before they got the press! MILLESIME has the lowest prices in the country for these incredible wines. Some of the wines (not even the best ones) were reviewed in the 02/06 WA, and the importer named is Martin Scott in NY. The prices quoted are interesting, in the sense that shipping from France to NY costs about half of shipping to Seattle, and Martin Scott certainly isn't paying more for the wine than I do. Basically my prices are a FRACTION of theirs. How? Why? I guess I'd rather make friends than money. Maybe I have some things to learn...

2004 COTES DU RHONE ROUGE "ANTIMAGNES" - The entry level red is 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah. Big, powerful wine for its price range. reviewed by Parker 02/06 (barrel tasted last September)) 85-87
2003 COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES ROUGE RASTEAU "LA PONCE" - **** 18/20 in Decanter, 90WA. The experts agree. The best price in the USA, by a MILE.
2003 COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES ROUGE "SASSIRA" Up to now unreviewed, but watch the price when it does... 85% Syrah, this wine is nothing like any CDRV I've tasted, it's rather more like a good Cote-Rotie.
2004 COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES RASTEAU "HERITAGE 1924" - So named for the vineyard, planted in 1924. Parker refers to the "Ponce" as the "star of the portfolio", but that's only because he hasn't tasted this. When he does, watch out! Dwarfs just about any Chateauneuf, let alone the CDRVs in its price range.
2003 RASTEAU VIN DOUX NATUREL ROUGE - 100% "Very old" grenache. Deeply colored, rich and unctuous concoction of fruits chocolate and spices. Finish several miles long EXTREMELY rare, yet priced the same as the Rasteau Co-op offering in this market. I've actually tasted the entire range of Rasteau VDN at the Cave itself and can tell you that they have never made one to compete with this.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

June Spanish Arrivals

An exciting shipment of Spanish wines arrives at MILLESIME in early

2005 CASTILLO DE JUMILLA MONASTRELL ROSADO - Bandol this! Superb and complex rose for a joke of a price.
2004 CASTILLO DE JUMILLA MONASTRELL This is the best entry level mourvedre wine that I have ever seen. The proof that southern Spain is best suited to this 'difficult' varietal.
2003 DIVUS MONASTRELL - The high end wine from Bleda is I think the finest expression of the mourvedre for the price. I have never had a Bandol that I liked better than this wine.

CAVAS HILL - These cavas can easily stand against many available Champagnes at a fraction of the price. They are toasty, doughy, very rich, and bone-dry!

RESERVA ORO BRUT ROSADO - Selected by the Guia Penin, this is one superb sparkling rosado - 60% grenache 40% mourvedre.
2003 RESERVA ARTESANIA BRUT NATURE - The vintage version offers up even more 'Bolly' style dough with an incredible creamy texture.

NINO JESUS - A US exclusive for Millésime with a real cult following. NJ has some of the oldest grenache vines in Spain, with great natural balance and power! I got in on the ground floor with their second vintage (2001), and those of you who have tasted any of the 2003s know that they were stellar. This time around, we have:

2004 ESTECILLO BLANCO - 100% macabeo. I ordered the 2005, but they shipped 2004 by 'mistake'. I said 'guys, you're going to have to slash the price' - they did and you win. Rich, oily and nutty wine is way more complex than its price.
2004 ESTECILLO ROSADO - 100% garnacha, rich Tavel-weight rose. Same scenario as above on the vintage.
2004 ESTECILLO TINTO JOVEN - A blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Tempranillo. It has major extraction and depth, with stunning length of finish. There are a number of good wines now available from Calatayud (many more than last year when I started with Niño Jesús), but I don't think any of them are up to the level of this Estecillo, which is powerful like the 2003, but much more elegant.
2003 ESTECILLO "LEGADO" VINAS VIEJAS - Pure old-vine grenache from high-altitude vineyards, the finest block of vines in all of Calatayud create this utterly breathtaking wine. Those of you know and love the 2001 will be blown away by the 2003. The last of several shipments of this truly memorable wine.