Arriving this month, hopefully on time, is one of the real standouts of my trip last July to the Rhône. We were staying at great little hotel in Orange, and some producers sent wines ahead for tasting and possible importation. One of these was the Silice de Quincy, a biodynamic estate in the little-known appellation of Quincy run by Jacques Sallé. Quincy lies east of Borges on the River Cher where soils are less limestone being more gravel and sand washed down from the Massif Central millennia ago. The wines here have always fetched far less than in Sancerre or Pouilly. So, I was a bit shocked at first by the prices asked for the wines of Silice de Quincy and imagined I would not buy them for sale here at K&L. What happened next was revelatory… and what I learned was that I knew little about what wines should be “worth” and to what heights sauvignon blanc could attain. The 2002 Silice de Quincy ($24.99) is as good as Boulay’s ’02 Chavignol Clos de Beaujeu, which I am crazy for, and Dagueneau in a great vintage, though each has its own interpretation, pitch and nuance. I tasted this wine when I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to escape the sweltering heat and drink a beer. Immediately I smiled, and if that is not the sign of good wine I don’t know what is. Then I laughed and then fell silent. The 2002 Silice de Quincy has more than you bargain for, so don’t come looking here for simple, quaffable sauvignon. This is a wine of power and poise with pungent layers of flavor built upon a foundation of stone. There is a definite scent and flavor of lime and a muskiness typical of the grape with a purity that brings to mind the water in a deep stone sided alpine lake. There is texture as well that flirts just shy of being rich due to its bright and piquant acid structure. All this, no doubt, due to the very old vines, some 100 years, that are carefully tended by vigneron Jacques Sallé using no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides and following the biodynamic model. There are only 15 cases of this monument, so act accordingly, which means quick!! Be happy! —Jeff Vierra
I know I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to pound away at the subject till the day I die… PURITY. I refuse to accept any wine that has been muddled over by some scientist, wearing a sterile white lab coat, who could care less about the juice he or she is now manipulating into “wine.” I want wines made from a farmer, someone who has a passion for the land on which he or she drops blood, sweat and tears. Someone who can step outside and have a complete understanding of what nature is doing all around them, to know it is time to prune based solely on instinct and the feeling that they have in their bones, not some chart. With these people, come wines with tradition, honor. They have a distinct, pure, presence of place, wines that speak to you, wines that represent the people and the land from which they come. That’s the passion I want. I want to shake a winemaker’s hand and feel the life of the vineyard through that handshake. Had enough? Try these on for size… 2004 Peter Schandl Furmint ($14.99) Due to its long maturation, this varietal has an extremely unique acid balance. Clear, ripe fruits like apple and quince explode upon your senses, and then take a sip. Its long, expressive finish will then win you over. 2004 Weingut Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC ($17.99) A zippy, refreshing wine that is a step or two above your “entry level” grüner. Well structured and precise, this little gem will keep you thinking well after you have finished the bottle. —Eric Story
2004 Vinos Sin-Ley G2 Garnacha, Montsant ($7.99) 88 points Robert Parker: “This deep ruby/purple-tinged offering displays notes of crushed rocks, raspberries, and kirsch in a rich, medium-bodied, fruit-driven style with hints of earth, garrigue, and spice. “ 2003 Bodegas Tintoralba Higueruela (Grenache) ($8.99) 88 points Robert Parker: “Old vines, low yields, and impeccable winemaking have resulted in a dense ruby/purple-colored wine with medium to full body as well as a delicious kirsch, blackberry, currant, licorice, and spice-scented bouquet.” 2004 Senorio de Barahonda Monastrell Tinto ($9.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “For $10, the 2004 Monastrell Tinto is amazing. An extraordinary bouquet of raspberries, blueberries, and vanilla jumps from the glass of this dense, medium to full-bodied, luscious, fruit-filled, seamlessly constructed effort. It is ideal for consumption over the next several years. The good news is that 2,500 cases are exported to the U.S. This estate is one of the top discoveries of all my tastings.” 2003 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica ($10.99) 92 points Robert Parker: “Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by sumptuous aromas of blueberries, black currants, cold steel, and minerals. Evocative of a baby Priorat, it possesses an amazing fragrance, considerable nobility as well as complexity, medium to full body, and a long, concentrated, heady finish. Enjoy it over the next 5-7 years.” 2004 Vinos Piñol Sacra Natura, Terra Alta (Organic) ($15.99) 90 points Robert Parker: “A terrific bargain is the 2004 Sacra Natura, a blend of 60% Carignan and 40% Tempranillo. A pungent earthy note provides a distinctive terroir aspect to this dark purple-hued 2004. Sweet raspberry and blueberry fruit along with scents of new saddle leather, spice box, toast, and vanilla emerge from this beautiful effort. It is hard to believe such quality is available at this price.” Happy New Year! —Anne Pickett
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