If you ever find yourself in the Languedoc with a hankering for a view of the water, some tasty oysters and a crisp glass of picpoul to wash it all down with then I recommend that you make a pit stop in the town of Bouzigues. Located about halfway between Montpellier and Beziers and overlooking the Bassin de Thau, Bouzigues is the perfect place to spend the afternoon before or after you hit the more pristine and sauvage Languedoc regions of say Minervois or Faugeres. The town itself is charming and quaint and can easily be “walked” within half an hour or so. While you’re at it, please stop by 42 Grand Rue and please say hello my friends Gregory Hecht and Francois Bannier. These two young enterprising Frenchmen collectively make up H&B Selections, a new enterprise dedicated to finding some of the best kept fruit sources in the South of France and bringing them to you and me. As I have stated before, the South of France is the new Wild West, and both of these guys are on the cutting edge of quality wine that’s being made down here. I am sure Gregory and Francois might even have a few recommendations on places (both vinous and non) in the region to visit. Below you’ll find two H&B selections that K&L is proud to offer. And watch out for more great wines to come from H&B! 2005 VdP du Cotes de Thau Rosé Hecht & Bannier ($9.99) Strawberry, watermelon and pomegranate nuances abound in this delectable pink wine that pairs with just about anything! H&B’s 2004 rosé was named #1 rosé in last summer’s La Revue du Vins de France, so when K&L had the opportunity to get some of these guys’ 2005, we jumped! This is a K&L exclusive and one heck of a deal. 2003 Coteaux du Languedoc Faugeres Hecht & Bannier ($22.99) Dried cherry, star anise and hints of pu-erh tea provide tremendous complexity, while fine tannins and a lengthy finish make this wine a real contender for “wine of the night” at your next Mediterranean themed dinner party. Best from 2007-2015 or decant for one hour and enjoy with heartier fare such as grilled tri-tip or a lamb kabobs! —Mulan Chan
2003 Benziger Sonoma Mountain “Tribute” ($59.99) Winemaker Mike Benziger is passionate about organic farming. The 2003 Benziger Tribute is Demeter-Certified Biodynamic, the highest form of organic farming. Biodynamic farming goes beyond the elimination of all chemicals; it incorporates the environment in and around the vineyards. Mike Benziger feels the differences with this type of farming can also be tasted in the wines. The ’03 Tribute is a blend of 69% cabernet sauvignon, 15% cabernet franc, 11% merlot and 5% petite verdot. The wine shows earthy undertones with an abundance of ripe currant, Bing cherry and cola flavors, which are followed by ripe tannins and a long finish. This wine will be at its best with a few more years in the bottle. Released last month, the 2003 Dominus ($99.98) is an outstanding wine that should not be missed. 2003 will be remembered as a vintage with a very long growing season, one that continued into November for some blocks. The 2003 is a blend of 88% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot. It is a wine to stick in your cellar and forget about for 10 years. The 2002 Napanook ($39.99), on the other hand, is a wine you can enjoy tonight. The Napanook is a blend of 68% cabernet sauvignon, 13% cabernet franc, 11% merlot, 7% petit verdot and 1% malbec, which is very similar to the Benziger Tribute, grown over the hill. It is reminiscent of a left bank Bordeaux. Aromas of cedar, lead pencil, cassis and spicy vanilla are followed by a wine that is long, balanced and filled with delicate fruit. Decant for an hour or so and enjoy this one. 2003 Miner Family Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon ($49.99) In keeping with the big Cabernet theme, the ’03 Miner Family is supple, well-balanced and focused. It seduces you with its firm yet velvety tannins, big, rich middle and long finish that lingers for minutes. Decant and enjoy! —Trey Beffa
Since we started our Direct Import program six years ago I have studiously avoided Chianti Classico. The number of quality producers who produce lots of cases is high, and selling 10,000 cases of Chianti is a daunting task. The smaller wineries I love have long been locked up with other importers, and there never seemed to be much in the way of anything on the horizon. Occasionally things stumble onto your plate. I met Marco Ricasoli Firidolfi a few years ago, and he immediately stuck me as cultured and poised while being a dynamic and confident individual. Marco has sangiovese running through his veins and has become a purist at heart, not wanting to blend international varieties into his Chianti. His wines speak of their soil. His roots go back to Castello di Brolio, where his ancestor the “Iron” Baron Bettino Ricasoli is credited with inventing the modern Chianti blend. Rocca di Montegrossi is Marco’s property. This jewel sits astride a beautiful outcrop of galestro soil in Gaiole (near Monti in Chianti) and is one of Chianti Classico’s top estates! The moon and the stars lined up properly, and voila, we now import these wines. You will be stunned by the quality, and the prices have dropped precipitously from what they were before we took over the pricing! The 2003 Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico ($17.99) is a stunner. While the vintage is definitely a warm one, RdM’s altitude accentuated the positives, and they made a really dynamite wine. Soft, open and round in the mouth, the wine’s luscious fruit is readily apparent yet is layered with spice, rosemary and violet. A luxurious softness on the palate follows onto the finish, which lingers and begs for food. I'm dreaming of Arista, the fantastic pork loin roast you see all over Tuscany gently flavored with rosemary, a perfect match. We also have half bottles for $10.99, a great mid week experience. As good as the “normale” Chianti is, prepare yourself for these! The 1999 Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico Riserva “San Marcellino” 1.5L ($69.99) is perfection for Chianti. This wine is made from 100% sangiovese and is a classic. Sangiovese, when it is right, has unending length, and this wine is really right. Wild cherry-, rosemary- and sauvage-filled intrigue rolls across your palate while minerals crystallize and deposit their structure on your tongue. OHHHHHhhhh my god this is good! However limited. The 2001 Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico Riserva “San Marcellino” 1.5L ($59.99) is everything the 1999 is but one size up! Power, structure, depth, a very similar styled vintage displaying all the best points of sangiovese, it is dynamite and will be long lived. Members of our Signature Red Wine Club will be receiving the 750ml bottle in their monthly packs before long! The 2001 Rocca di Montegrossi “Geremia” ($27.99), a 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% merlot is is a spicy, intrigue-filled red that just radiates flavor. This Bordeaux blend will only get better as these vineyards age. If you ever get a chance to drink the 1998 Rocca di Montegrossi Vin Santo 375ml ($74.99), you’ve died and can go to heaven, The 1997 got 97 points in Parker. The ’98 is better. —Greg St. Clair
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