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Bruce’s Pick: 2016 Michel Sarrazin Fils Givry “Sous la Roche” $28

When looking for good Burgundies that don’t break the bank, I often head south of Beaune 20 or 30 kilometers to the Cote Chalonnaise. The three main villages of Rully, Mercurey and Givry are often the source of some of the under-the-radar best values in all of Burgundy, and the wines of brothers Guy and Jean-Yves Sarrazin are among the best examples.

Having just received our allocation of the 2016 vintage of this wine, I couldn’t wait to check it out. I am happy to report that it is even better than last year (2015 vintage) which I also wrote up as a wine pick. The current version is sleeker, more tightly packed and shows sneaky length with silky tannins promising more to come. It is not a heavy-weight or chunky wine at all, but carries it’s dark cherry scented fruit on a high-wire of subtle acidity.

The Sous la Roche vineyard is one of the highest altitude vineyards in all of Rully planted with 40 year old vines, and its pedigree definitely shows through. Delicious now and poised to get even better over time (my sample was better the second day) this is a smart pick for a Burgundy that over-delivers!

Bob’s Pick: 2014 Hewitson “Baby Bush” Barossa Valley Mourvedre $18.99

Every now and then a grape used predominately for blending shows itself off for a particular vintage. This wine is made from one such variety from just such a vintage, it is a varietal Mourvedre from Australia, 2014. Like the French, the Aussies have been blending Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre for as long as they have been making wines; the blend GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) is the smooth balanced result. In 2014 Hewitson realized that their Mourvedre had enough character to go it alone. Good job guys. Not overshadowed by a fruit forward Syrah this wine shows off delicate flavors of lightly peppered blueberries with lavender/brier undertones. Without its bigger companions it has a lighter body and also comes in at a lighter 14% alcohol. This wine is delicate, definitely not for an over-burdened (over cabbed) palate, more of a wine that lets its subtler natures (flavors) shine through. Pairs with everything from cheeses to a marbled rib eye.

Reggie’s Pick: 2017 Alvaro Palacios “Camins del Priorat’ $25

This Alvaro Palacios wine from Priorat hits the sweet spot as a great wine at an affordable price. While built to last, it is approachable young: offering floral aromas on the nose and dark red fruit, tobacco and bramble on the palate with a long, refined finish. The wine is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 30% Samso (Carignane), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Syrah. Priorat is a Catalan Denominacion;Origen Qualificada (DOQ) for wines produced in the Priorat County, in the province of Tarragona, in the southwest of Catalonia.

The DOQ covers 11 municipalities. It primarily produces powerful red wines, which came to international attention in the 1990s. The area is characterized by its unique terroir of black slate and quartz soil known as llicorella. It is one of only two wine regions in Spain to qualify as DOCa, the highest qualification level for a wine region according to Spanish wine regulations, alongside Rioja DOCa. Priorat is the Catalan word, the one that appears most often on wine labels, while the Castilian equivalent is Priorato. Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, roast chicken or Paella.

Kent’s Pick: 2014 Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon $12.99

We got a screaming deal on this wine, so I figured I better try a bottle before it all gets sold!

Due to its tremendous success, I sometimes forget that Argentina grows varieties other than Malbec. There’s a lot of other wines coming from Argentina that are worth checking out, and this Cabernet Sauvignon is a prime example. The fruit for this wine is from vineyards in Mendoza that sit at over 3000 feet in elevation, with cooler nights allowing the grapes to ripen slowly, providing a balance between acidity and sugar.

This wine is unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon, with the nose showing cassis, herbs and dark fruit. On the palate the wine is structured but soft with well integrated tannins, showing cassis, dark cherry, a touch of herbs, menthol, and just a hint of oak. If you’re looking for an excellent value in Cabernet, don’t pass this one by!

Stephen’s Pick: Joel Gott 2017 California Chardonnay $12.99

Most of the wines we write up every month are interesting, unique, or exceptional in quality, flavor, or some other remarkable attribute. The wine I decided to feature in our April newsletter was initially a seemingly pedestrian, mainstream, mass-produced, bottom of the cooler selection; however, I was guilty of a serious underestimation!

I knew that Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc was extremely popular because I re-stock it frequently. We started carrying the Chardonnay a few months ago and consequently, I had not tried it yet. Apparently the Universe wanted Joel Gott Chardonnay to get some hype because this morning – while pulling wines from our back stock cellar, I accidentally knocked a bottle over, and it (predictably) smashed instantly on the hard, concrete floor. At the very moment it hit the ground and formed a pool around the broken glass, the entire cellar area became filled with an extraordinary fragrance! It was like fresh slices of kiwi and cantaloupe gently strewn together in a bowl with honey and pineapple juice! The captivating fragrance diffused into the hallway near the cellar and as I quickly worked to clean up the broken glass, several co-workers walked by and asked me what the incredible aroma was. With more than a little surprise in my voice, I stated “It’s Joel Gott Chardonnay and I had no idea it smelled this good!”

Later that afternoon, I had a chance to actually try Joel Gott chardonnay and wow! It is extremely interesting when a wine’s taste profile is different from its bouquet (fragrance) and in this case – both were exceptional. It reminded me of an unoaked, white Burgundy and for an inexpensive California Chardonnay, that is saying a lot! The mouth-feel was full and round. The taste was lush and tropical; however, within a dry, elegant context. It was like a baked apple, dripping with honey and a very subtle hint of unsalted butter. After smelling and tasting this amazing wine, I did some research and discovered that Joel Gott Winery was started in Napa Valley in 1996. In addition to their surprisingly delicious unoaked chardonnay, they produce Sauvignon Blanc (previously mentioned), Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and many other varieties with grapes sourced from Oregon and Washington in addition to California.

Joel Gott produces varietal wines only – no blends or co-fermented wines. This aligns with their intention of being as true and authentic as possible to whatever variety they are making wine from. This is why they chose to create an unoaked chardonnay with indigenous yeasts, no enzymes, fining agents, or unnecessary additives.

The result is this truly exceptional, fragrant, mouth-watering, and utterly surprising Chardonnay. Pairs quite well with any dishes containing goat-cheese, shellfish, veal, pate’, Caesar salad, and even ham. Finally, based upon the ‘smashing’ discovery of this great Chardonnay, it is delicious enough to enjoy on its own – complex, many-layered, and as fresh as the rapidly approaching spring.

Kathy’s Pick: 2016 Hartford Court RR Chardonnay, $16.99

I’m always looking for that perfect Chardonnay with a nice, bright note of acidity and just enough oak to add structure but not make me feel as if I’m chewing on wood as I drink it. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to come by but we just brought this one in as a special deal and it is wonderful. Normally a $30 bottle of wine, with the deal we got, we are selling it for $16.99. It got great scores and here is one of the reviews:

“Bright, fresh and nuanced, the 2016 Chardonnay (Russian River) has so much to offer. The Russian River Chardonnay is a distinctly mid-weight wine built on expressive citrus and floral character. It also happens to be the hidden gem in this range.” 93 Pts Vinous

Stephen’s Pick: Monte Degli Angeli 2016 Pinot Noir; $9.99

When most wine drinkers think of Pinot Noir, they find their minds wandering to Oregon, California’s Russian River Valley, possibly New Zealand, and of course – Burgundy; the origin of this classic, intriguing, and esthetic varietal. Monte Degli Angeli’s Pinot Noir is produced from grapes grown in Piedmont, Italy which is well-known for Barolo and Barbaresco – the two most majestic, and powerful red wines made in Italy. Asti is also produced in Piedmont; however, no one in the wine industry (let alone the average consumer) would ever ordinarily associate this region with Pinot Noir. Nevertheless, Monte Degli Angeli’s elegant contribution to Pinot Noir’s continuing fascination with winemakers and wine enthusiasts alike is a must-try and astonishingly inexpensive version of this classic varietal.

Piedmont means “foot of the mountain” which refers to rolling Alpine foothills that are mostly too steep and too cold for vines; however, more than 17% of all of the DOC and DOCG wines in Italy are made there. Nearly all of Piedmont’s best vineyards are located in warmer areas further south where we find Alba, Asti, and Alessandria – Barolo and Barbaresco villages lie on either side of Alba and finally, Mombaruzzo, which is a commune within Asti just Southeast of Turin.

Monte Degli Angeli also produces Barolo and interestingly enough, the winery itself is in the Lecce Province, which is in the eastern portion of Italy’s continental “boot;” however, their grapes are imported from Piedmont. Are you confused yet? This complicated presentation of information alone might be enough to intrigue the average wine drinker to spend ten dollars in order to drink this dry, elegant, rich, and fruit-fresh Pinot Noir, but my advice is to forget its complicated legacy and enjoy the fact that you are drinking your favorite varietal which is made from grapes grown in Italy’s (and possibly the entire wine world’s) most famous winemaking region. The color is ruby-red with medium intensity, velvety mouth-feel, and not unlike some of the more expensive Oregon Pinot Noirs.

I am not one to “name names”, but I poured this Pinot Noir during a routine Wednesday afternoon tasting and one of Boise’s most experienced and highly educated sommeliers was utterly awe-struck, captivated, and mesmerized by this wine’s complexity, elegance, and uniqueness – especially after realizing that it was only $9.99. Are you ready to take a few bottles home? I am enjoying a glass of it right now…….

Bruce’s Pick: 2017 Regis Bouvier Bourgogne Rouge, $23

Regis Bouvier is based in Marsannay, in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits, just north of the more famous village of Gevrey Chambertin. While Marsannay is somewhat under the radar, with the number of young talented winemakers there now, the bar has been raised and the vineyards are now being recognized for the potential they hold to make top quality red Burgundies. There are already recognized 1er Cru vineyards in this village and others such as the holdings of Bouvier that are approaching that status....but my pick is his his entry level Bourgorgne rouge.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to drink 1er Cru Bourgogne very often, so I look for these value priced Burgundies that are from excellent sites and producers for my more casual drinking. This reasonably priced Burgundy is about as refined and elegant as Pinot Noir can get at this price. It is soft, charming, and delicious, even quaffable if you are so inclined!

The vineyard source for their Bourgogne is from a steep sloped vineyard, not the flat land vineyards that provide the fruit for many generic Burgundies. The quality of the site and winemaking are evident in this excellent value Burgundy, and, oh yes, 2017 is yet another very good (and approachable) vintage for red Burgundy.