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These Friday offers are growing every week! Thank you!
The local wholesalers and importers are realizing that it’s the perfect way to move through stuck products, extra inventory, and the occasional gems that just don’t sell as well as they expected.
Here’s some insider info: in the last ten years, we have seen an EXPLOSION of new wholesalers in the Twin Cities. These are top-grade, boutique, somm-driven wholesalers that are doing wonderful work but also slicing the pie a bit thinner for everyone. As a result, most wholesalers hold less inventory on most items, leading to some labels getting stuck in the system.
Why are they stuck? Because it’s hard for a wholesaler to do something with three to seven cases of a given wine. It’s too little to make a by-the-glass placement (they need consistent stock for a month or more at the minimum). It’s too much for the average retailer to take all of it. So as a result, the sales reps don’t take it out to sell it, and it gathers dust in the warehouse.
For the first time, through our Friday offers, there is a vehicle to move these piles. We’re being offered special pricing on some amazing wine, which we will ALWAYS pass through to you.
None of this would be possible without your support of the Friday Offers program. THANK YOU!!!
Onward to this week:
Buy this Champagne! The no-brainer deal of the week
Lahertte Frères is a personal favorite Champagne house of mine. We featured them in our Champagne Masterclass in 2019, the last one before the pandemic hit, and these wines were the stars of the show.
This is a very traditional, very hands-on Champagne operation. Founded 140 years ago by the Laherte family (which is on generations 6 and 7 of running the show), they own about 25 acres across the Côte de Blanc and the Marne Valley. The former is home to the best Chardonnay in the region, while the latter is all about Meunier, which this house specializes in.
All farming is done using traditional techniques without chemical interventions. All vine selections and replantings are through massale selections (meaning they take their favorite existing vines and propagate them themselves, resulting in a ratcheting up of vine quality with every generation of re-planting).
Laherte Frères Blanc de Blanc Brut Nature
100% Chardonnay, no dosage, disgorged December 2021.
93 points from Vinous:
Laherte’s NV Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs is one of the great under the radar wines in Champagne. It marries precision, tension and depth. Citrus peel, crushed rocks, mint, dried flowers and white pepper race across the palate. The Blanc de Blancs is a Champagne of tremendous stature and class that blends the best attributes of sites in Epernay and the Côtes des Blancs. Best of all, it’s an insane value. The current release is 60% 2018 and 40% reserve wines from 2017 and 2016. No dosage.
Laherte Frères Rosé de Meunier Extra Brut
100% Meunier with 2.5g dosage (Very much in the dry end of the Brut category, which allows up to 12g dosage to still use the label “Brut”). Stunning style and balance, and an amazing introduction to the new wave of Meunier-embracing producers that are getting all the attention from Champagne geeks today.
The production blend is 30% macerated Meunier, 60% white wine (immediately pressed Meunier), and 10% still red Meunier. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in vats, foudres, and barrels. Partial malolactic fermentation keeps the flavors round while also preserving the snap of flavor.
93 points as well from Vinous:
The NV Extra Brut Rosé de Meunier is very similar to the Ultradition version (the blend of vintages changes slightly) but bottled with 2.5 grams per liter of dosage. The lower dosage seems to bring out an extra kick of savory intensity to play off the dried rose petal, cinnamon, orange peel and crushed red berry fruit. This release is a blend of equal parts 2018 and 2017, done as a blend of lots that are pressed as white (Blanc de Noirs), saignée and still red wine. I loved it.
Prosecco stock-up: Bel Star Prosecco and Cuvée Rosé
Here’s a great opportunity to stock up ahead of the holidays on a wine perfect for home and gifts at a bargain price.
Bel Star is made by the Bisol family, which has been making wine in the hills north of Venice for five centuries.
Yes, five centuries.
They are one of the most established winemaking families in all of Italy, and their operations and land holdings are located in the heart of the Prosecco and Cartizze production zone – the prestigious Cartizze hills. They farm almost 200ha of hillside vines separated into tiny plots, averaging around 1ha each. This is extreme winemaking.
The Bel Star label is owned by the importer (Palomar Imports), which helps bring the price down a bit. But here’s the insider info: the local wholesaler ordered a TON of this for holiday sales in 2021, but the container arrived late. So they have been stuck on inventory and want to make room ahead of the 2022 holiday season. They offered us a price that we couldn’t refuse.
The wines are as fresh and bright as can be. They are not on the intellectual end of Prosecco but rather the supremely gulpable side of the category. This is perfect for holiday parties, gifts, mimosas on a Sunday morning, or just for sipping ahead of dinner or while watching reruns of Mrs. Maisel. At this price, I’m personally buying a case of each for the house and for gifts. The bottle is stunning.
And our price looks to be the lowest in the country. It’s even beating the powerhouse of Binny’s in Chicago, where it’s sold out at most stores.
The Prosecco DOC (white) is 100% Galera and packed with floral and bright white fruit aromas, a frothy texture, tiny bubbles, and a lip-smacking finish. Everything you want from a Prosecco!
The Rosé is made from Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. Don’t let the blend scare you … they pulled it off in an amazing way here. Loads of strawberry and cherry fruits, snap on the flavor, and again the same clean finish as the white. It’s a fabulous wine that looks awesome in the glass.
RED WINES OF GERMANY AND AUSTRIA
These are some of our favorite reds of the moment, for they bring bright, fresh, fun flavors in a light-to-medium-bodied style and moderate alcohols. We think they are perfect for October and November sipping in Minnesota, when the leaves turn and the sweaters come out.
We acquired these wines specifically for our webinar on German and Austrian reds over at The Wine Workshop, which you can purchase the full replay and notes from and watch at your leisure.
The German Pinot Noirs
Pinot Noir is the principal red grape in Germany, which is actually the number three producer of Pinot Noirs in the world (behind France and the USA). How about that!
As climate changes are occurring, it’s important to remember that it’s beneficial for some grapes in some regions. We don’t want to say we’re pro-climate change, of course, but a vine is a vine, and if it suddenly has an easier time making better grapes than ever before, then I’m all for using those grapes for great fermented juice. The Germans love their red wine, and with warmer weather, they have suddenly become a powerhouse of great Pinot Noir.
In fact, I was involved in a very interesting tasting about four years ago with some people proposing a German Pinot Noir import business, shipping the very best wines to the USA. The wines were STUNNING, and we tasted them up against Premier Cru and Grand Cru Burgundy! There is no doubt that the best Pinot Noirs of Germany are some of the best in the world. However, I discouraged them from building that business. There is a market for $50-100 bottles of German Pinot Noir, but it’s one bottle at a time and an uphill battle for at least a decade. There’s a saying in the wine sales business that you can sell one bottle of anything to anyone, but selling that second bottle is the challenge.
Anyway, onward to the Pinot Noirs.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir, Pfalz Valley, Germany
One of the most reliable bargain Pinot Noirs out there. Light-bodied, ethereal, detailed, precise, and bright. An array of red fruits in the aromas, led by strawberry and cherry, with a wee hint of dried tobacco leaf. This is such a textbook Pinot Noir that we often pour it in our Intro to Wine class as the ideal example of the grape.
Villa Wolf is the Pfalz Valley project of Ernst Loosen, who is so enamored with Pinot Noir that he’s just announced a new Willamette Valley project.
I’ve followed this wine closely in the Twin Cities market since its debut in 2007, and it simply gets better every year without taking big price increases. I asked Loosen about this years ago and he was adamant that they don’t make much (if any) money on this wine, but instead it’s used as a way to get the Villa Wolf brand out there in by-the-glass programs at restaurants, for that coveted Pinot glass pour slot.
Cool with me!
Ziereisen Blauer Spätburgunder, Badischer Landwein
Here’s where it starts to get really interesting.
In the region of Baden, there are specific grapes and specific wine styles that a producer traditionally has to use and produce to be considered “quality wine” in Germany, rather than knocking down the quality ladder to lowly “Landwein.” But just as in Italy and France, younger winemakers who want to experiment with different grapes varieties and flavor profiles are moving the needle.
From an article by Jancis Robinson in the Financial Times (2019):
“Hanspeter Ziereisen, a woodworker and asparagus farmer turned winemaker, has become a bit of a ringleader; his wife Edel is the major organiser of the Landweinmarkt. The event was inspired by Ziereisen’s frustration at being excluded from official wine events, despite making wine that he feels is better than many conventional competitors’.
Edel told me that her husband slumped into a three-month depression when his 2004 Steingrüble Gutedel — treated to a long, slow, enriching fermentation with indigenous, not added, cultured yeast — was first rejected as a Qualitätswein because it was judged too unlike its more neutral counterparts.
The Ziereisens then asked their distributors about the likely impact of their wines losing the Qualitätswein designation and found that they were all perfectly happy to sell them as Landwein.
A total of 22 producers from all over Baden participated in the Landweinmarkt. Many of the most interesting wines were Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Chardonnay and the convincing local speciality Gutedel (Chasselas), but there were also Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and the hybrids Cabernet Blanc and Souvignier — by no means all sanctioned by local rules for Qualitätswein. Too few of them are exported so far but they are far from inferior.”https://www.weingut-greiner.com/Erlebnisse/Auszeichnungen-Empfehlungen/Jancis-Robinson-about-Badischer-Landwein-The-wine-worlds-upstarts-and-outsiders::30.html
This is Pinot Noir that shows style and panache way past its price point, and here we are offering it at the lowest price you’ll be able to find. Win-win.
Messmer Pinot Noir “Rotwein Trocken” 1L
Don’t let the term “rotwein” turn you off (the Germans are not exceptional wine marketers) … it simply means “Red Wine.”
This is 100% Pinot Noir, from the Pfalz Valley, in a liter-sized bottle. So imagine a big sticker on it that says “33% more!! Free!!” Shampoo companies do it all the time, so why not wine?
The Messmer family are organic farming specialists, having farmed their 27ha of land by hand since the establishment of the brand in 1960. A vast majority of what they produce is white wine (82%) but lucky for us they are playing more and more with Pinot Noir (along with St. Laurent).
This is simply beautiful Pinot Noir. It’s like watching a great ballet, where suddenly there is a movement or jump that catches you offguard and makes you wonder if you just saw what you thought you saw. Driven by pure cherry and strawberry fruits, it has a wee touch of earthiness that is incredibly compelling. The acids in paticular snap to attention on the finish, making for an amazingly satifying wine. This is gigantic bang for the buck!
GREAT REDS OF AUSTRIA
Austria is still an unknown country to many wine drinkers, and if you’re into Austrian wine, it’s often focused on the two main white grapes: Riesling and Grüner Veltliner.
But they make some STUNNING red wines that have distinctive characteristics compared to many other wines of the world, and especially during these cool fall and early winter days, I think they have a place at the table.
Ecker Zweigelt 1L (my go-to weeknight grilling wine)
Love these liter-sized bottles! So handy!
Zweigelt (“zzz-why-gelt”) is best described as simply FUN.
The grape variety was created in 1922 by Dr. Frederich Zweigelt of Austria when he crossed St. Laurent and Blaufrankish and captured the best of both worlds.
Punchy, bright, mouth-cleansing, and packed with sassy and spicy raspberry, this is best served slightly chilled with a glass in hand while the charcoal grill is fired up. It might be god’s perfect hamburger wine. If you like Gamay and Cru Beaujolais, this is right up your alley. In fact, Gamay is a half-sibling to Zweigelt.
Many Pinot Noir producers are discovering the joy of Zweigelt, for it produces heavier clusters, more yield, and ripens a week or two earlier than Pinot. Of course, the temptation is then to make quantity over quality, so buyer beware.
If you’re looking for a great textbook Zweigelt, this is it. It will make you very happy.
Prieler Blaufränkisch “Johanneshöle,” Burgenland
Blaufränkisch (“blaw-franc-eesh”) might be one of the most interesting ‘under the radar’ grapes out there.
Think black and purple fruit. Plums and blackberries. Add good dark chocolate, fresh ground pepper, and some allspice. Medium bodied. Kick butt acidity. That’s Blaufränkisch.
It’s also known as Lemberger; the name Kiona Winery of Washington applies to the wine. They wrote a glorious essay about the grape variety, and we will feature that wine in a future offer.
From Wine Searcher:
Classic Austrian Blaufrankisch wines are intensely colored, medium-bodied reds with brooding, black-fruit flavors and a hint of peppery spice. Those made around the Neusiedlersee, and in Sudburgenland, can be particularly full-bodied and spicy. Weingut Moric’s Blaufrankisch – particularly the “Neckenmarkt” and “Lutzmannsburg” labels – have been attracting a great deal of attention recently, as has Weingut Prieler’s “Johanneshohe” Blaufrankisch.https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-550-blaufrankisch-lemberger
This particular wine with chili, braised meat dishes, or anything involving lamb will make you dance, sing, and giggle with food and wine happiness. Guaranteed.
Wallner St. Laurent 2013
Here’s a super fun find. Unfortunately, only 12 bottles are left at the wholesaler, and I just cracked into one of them. The other 11 bottles are up for grabs.
First is the grape. St. Laurent completes the trifecta of great Austrian reds, along with Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. It’s a variety you rarely find in America, especially in Minnesota, but it is distinctive and stunning.
From Wine Searcher:
Sankt Laurent (Saint-Laurent) is an aromatic black grape variety planted throughout parts of central Europe. It is most commonly found in Austria’s key red-wine regions Niederösterreich and Burgenland. It is also the most widely planted red variety in the Czech Republic and is gaining popularity in Germany and other cooler winegrowing nations.
Sankt Laurent wines tend to be dark purple in color, structured yet silky with a characteristic dark-cherry flavor (similar to Pinot Noir). Blackberries, smoke and spice are also commonly exhibited. The wines are often matured in oak and show good aging ability.https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-810-sankt-laurent
That last paragraph is key and very accurate, especially regarding this particular wine. Look at the picture! The smoky dark-cherry aspect is big, and the color is perfect (especially considering it’s closing in on the ten-year mark). In terms of flavor, it’s the fullest bodied of the three wines (though not ‘full bodied’ when comparing it to something like a Cabernet), with a firm grip and medium-plus tannin. It’s a stunning wine.
The entire category of Champagne is experiencing two things at the moment: unpredictable shipping, and price increases. Thus, this particular offer on Laherte Frères is timely and special. Will there be Champagne this December? Of course. Will it be the exact brands that you’re seeking out? Maybe, or maybe not. Can anybody guarantee anything? Nope. In other words, planning ahead is the name of the game for Champagne lovers in 2022.
The Prosecco is all about fun, affordability, and having cheap-n-cheerful sparkling wine at hand for any occasion, instantly as needed. Prices have been going up regularly for the last two years, so this is truly a special deal that came about just because loads of inventory is stuck in a warehouse in Bloomington. This is a stock-up wine, at a price we’ll never see again.
The German Pinot Noirs are wonderful ways to round out a cellar and have at hand some wines that will spur conversation at the table. Pop a bottle of any of these wines and have it side-by-side with a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir for an instant education. The Villa Wolf is a pop-on-a-whim wine, and the other two benefit from some great food at the table.
Lastly, the Austrian reds are stunning food wines that pair beautifully with the cooler weather ahead. All are spicy, layered, a touch smoky, and ideal with anything off the grill or from a low-and-slow oven. At least one or two of them should be in your wine rack.
Happy shopping, and thank you again for supporting what we do.
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
NEW! Your payment to Solo Vino for the Friday offer is contained on the order form. No more back-and-forth emailed invoices and payments. Yay!!
This offer has closed. Thank you for your interest.