We have a blockbuster Up From the Cellar, which is loaded with older Bordeaux and Rhônes and a bevy of new releases from California and France.

Looking at the Rhônes, there’s a mini-vertical of Chapoutier’s Le Méal, which is unquestionably one of the world’s great Hermitage. From arguably the warmest terroir on the hill, this cuvée is always more accessible than both the Pavillon and L’Ermite, and it’s one of the most textured and sexiest wines in Chapoutier’s portfolio. I was also able to do a side-by-side tasting between Chapoutier’s 2018 Le Méal Blanc and Guigal’s 2018 Ermitage Ex Voto. Talk about two incredible wines! The Guigal was a broader, more textured effort, with the Chapoutier being slightly tight and closed and in need of a few more years in the cellar.

The report also includes some insanely good northern Rhônes, including the 2009 Chave Hermitage and a bottle of Chapoutier’s 2000 Ermitage Pavillon. The 2000 Pavillon is clearly mature and in its prime drinking window (and what a treat), and I’m convinced the 2009 Chave Hermitage is a legendary wine in the stratosphere of the ’61, ’78, and ’90 La Chapelle releases. If you can afford it, buy it.

Looking at the older Bordeaux releases, most of these were pulled from my cellar, as well as purchased from restaurants in Bordeaux in January. Both the 1975 Palmer and 1975 Château Clinet were tired and relatively over the hill. If you have bottles, drink them. The report includes a handful of wines from the late ’80s, as well as a bevy of 1990s, which are still drinking beautifully but unquestionably fully mature. Both the 1990 Château Montrose and Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse) lived up to the billing, with a bottle of Sociando-Mallet over-delivering. The 1990 Château Calon-Segur is relatively disappointing, but the Léoville Poyferré and Pichon-Longueville Baron offered incredible drinking.

Looking at some of the younger wines, there’s a stunning bottle of 2000 Château Pape-Clement (fully mature), some impressive 2001s, a smoking bottle of 2003 Pavie, a heavenly bottle of 2009 La Mission Haut-Brion, and a handful of 2010s (and others as well).

Looking at the rest of France, there are some new releases from Château de L’Ou and Kimberly Jones’ 2019 Courier release from the Roussillon, new releases from the Languedoc’s Puech-Haut, and a few current releases from the Ventoux’s Chêne Bleu. These are terrific estates and worth attention.

Moving to California, I was also able to look at a 10-year retrospective from Napa Valley’s Baldacci Family Vineyards. The 2014s are ripe, soft, and sexy wines that have drunk well since release, and these all showed well with some maturity.

There are new releases from Adam Lee’s Clarice label, as well as his value-priced Busy Signal and Dial Tone Pinot Noirs, which over-deliver. Cris Cherry has produced a new white from his MAHA label, based on Clairette, and this beauty would compete with a top Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc.

Lastly, the report includes two legends: Realm’s 2013 Absurd and Manfred Krankl’s 2005 The 17th Nail In My Cranium.

This report probably deserves to be split up, but due to time constraints, here we are.

As always, thanks for reading, and happy drinking!


By Jeb Dunnuck
Founder & Wine Critic
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