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Staff Pick

New & Notable – Casa Noble Tequila’s

The following reviews are from Drinkhacker

Casa Noble Crystal (Blanco) – Pungent on the nose, with deep, deep agave notes, white pepper, and cayenne. The body isn’t nearly the agave bomb you might be expecting. It is both sweet and peppery, but not really vegetal at all. Instead you’ll find notes of tart lemon juice, caramel sauce, and a touch of rhubarb. Very well crafted. Everything a blanco should be. A / 34.99

Casa Noble Reposado – Spends 364 days in French white oak, making this a very well-aged reposado. The nose has that trademark peppery pungency of the blanco, but with an undercurrent of stone fruit — peaches and apricots — to give it some balance. The body is very fruity, slight tropical notes atop lemon and oranges, plus notes of chocolate peppermints and ample wood-driven vanilla. It doesn’t drink nearly as leathery and “old” as my prior comments indicated, but perhaps that’s just my increased experience with tequila over the last five years talking. Still delightful, either way. A / 49.99

Casa Noble Anejo – Aged “to perfection” for two years in French white oak. Nicely dark, but not overdone. That peppery agave is still front and center on the nose, with more of a caramel/marshmallow character attempting to overtake it. The body shows that it’s a silky dessert sipper all the way. The palate starts with bittersweet chocolate and graham crackers, then hops to burnt caramel and dark brown sugar notes. The fruit is absent save for a little flamed orange peel, which plays nice with the molten chocolate cake character that bubbles on and on on the finish. A benchmark anejo that mixes a racy attack with a silky sweet finish. A+ / 57.99

Elegant, affordable Pinot Noir

Hi friends

I was hanging around the Marlboro store when a salesman popped in to taste Joe on some new wines.

When Joe likes something he get’s a little excited and generally brings me in a glass to try and he was palpably excited this morning. I was in the office, and he rushed in, stuck a glass under my nose, and said “Kenny, you’ve got to try this!”

I looked at the wine, it was a beautiful cherry red, slightly opaque, with the unmistakable aroma of Pinot Noir. I knew it wasn’t from California, they just don’t have the climate to succesfully grow this kind of Pinot. And no, I’m not dissing California Pinot Noir. I considered New Zealand, but finally settled on Burgundy. I thought this was one of the better wines from the Cote Chalonaise. Maybe Givry? or Mercury? This wine was balanced and juicy though, without any of the telltale funk of Burgundy.

It was from Oregon, and when I heard the price I flipped! It was a Montinore Estate Pinot Noir 2013. Established in 1982, Montinore Estate is a 210 acre Demeter Certified Biodynamic and Certified Organic estate in Oregon’s Williamette Valley. They believe that exceptional wine is is produced with a combination of soil, climate, controlled fruit, careful fermentation and estate bottling

The thing that really struck me about this wine is the combination of fruit and acid that displays a bountiful punch of flavor. Soft, ripe, and voluptuous flavors marry beautifully with ripe cherry aromas.

And the critics are gushing over this wine! The following is from Eric Asimov, the wine critic of the New York Times.

2013 Montinore Estate Red Cap Pinot Noir
“Every year Montinore manages to release inexpensive pinot noirs from the Willamette Valley that are light, balanced, juicy and simply delicious to drink. What’s more, the grapes are farmed biodynamically. The wine, pale ruby with balanced, lively flavor of spicy red fruit, is proof that even in prestigious regions, moderately priced wine can be made with love and care.”
This wine is not a big, bruising, modern Pinot Noir with a big dollop of Syrah in it. This wine is restrained and elegant. It is classic Pinot.

The regular price of this wine is $19.99. For this e-mail special we are selling 6 packs of this wine for $90.00 or you can buy a full case of 12 for $170.00. E-mail me at ken@actonwine.com. We have approximately ten cases left out of 50.

Classic Pinot Noir, from a meticulous producer.
Cheers,
Ken

Beautiful wine from Southern France

Hi Friends, January 19th, 2016

This is the kind of wine we just love to sell to you. Southern French? Check. Red? Check. Exclusive? Yup. Inexpensive? You bet. Delicious? Yeah, it’s all that.

2013 Chateau Valcombe “Les Hauts de Valcombe” Ventoux Rouge, Rhone, France

The wines of Chateau Valbombe are made by Luc and Cendrine Guénard, a couple that has a great respect for terroir. They studied winemaking under the famous Paul Jeune, owner of Chateau Monpertuis, whose lovely wines have graced our shelves throughout the years.

The vines on their estate are roughly 75 years old. The property is at approximately 1,000 feet, farmed organically, and they produce TRADITIONAL wines.

They have about 28 hectacres of vines, mostly old vine Grenache and Syrah, with a little Cinsault and and Carignan. A little bit of white grapes are also grown.

We tasted this in December, and had it brought in from the New York warehouse of Rosenthal Imports. I have since tasted it over multiple days and it kept getting better and better. We have less than 25 cases.

I should have bought 50.

Our tasting notes.

2013 Les Hauts de Valcombe. A blend of Grenache and Syrah. 13.5 alcohol.
Black cherry aromas leap from the glass as we pulled the cork on this spicy, sappy red. Additional aromas of dried flowers, garrigue, red currant, plums. cinnamon, cracked pepper, pomegranite, leather notes, raspberry, and a great minerality probably due to the large stones (galet) in the vineyard. The wine is medium bodied, with outstanding balance and precise flavors. The finish is long and tangy with smoke, cherries, and lingering blueberries.

I have twice tasted this over a 3 day period and it kept getting better. The kind of wine that when you have the last sip you want to open another bottle.

This is scrumptious wine at a deliciously low price. Retailing in at $14.99, I can sell you a 6 pack for $70.00 or step up to a case for $140.00.

If you like inexpensive Southern French reds, you should take some of this home.

I know I am.

Spanish powerhouse at a ridiculously low price

Hi Friends, January 27th, 2015

The first place I ever went to in Spain was Yecla. I was there with some other wine professionals on a tour of the wineries and regions of Spain. You would think we would go to Rioja, or Ribera del Duero, or perhaps Priorat to begin our explorations, but no, we went to Yecla.

And there began my education in Monastrell.

Yecla is a Spanish Denominacion de Origin (D.O.) for wines located in Murcia around the town of Yecla. It is hot and dry and gets a minimal amount of water from it’s 12 inches of rain per year. The province of Murcia is located in eastern Spain and is completely surrounded by the D.O.’s Jumilla, Alicante, and Almansa.

The main (although certainly not the only) grape of Yecla is Monastrell. The grape is also grown in Southern France as Mouvedre and in the United States as Mataro, although the origin of this grape is most certainly Spain. It is the second most important (after Grenache or Garnacha) grape grown in Spain. The vines produce small, sweet, thick skinned berries that generally produce wines that are high in alcohol and flavor. The grape can also, under the right conditions, age very well.

So anyways I was in our Marlboro store last week and our store manager Joseph and I were tasting through some French and Spanish offerings. This wine stopped us in our tracks. The nose was heady and the palate was big and sweet and full and dense and layered with raspberry. The wine coated the tongue with flavor and it felt rich with fruit. Joe, in particular, was almost jumping up and down with excitement about this wine.

I really think this is the pinnacle of relatively inexpensive Spanish winemaking today. This wine is gorgeous. Wait till you see the price!

Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013
The Wine Advocate (Parker) liked this also giving it 92 points. Here’s some of what he had to say –

“Even better is the 2013 Solanera…this blend is 70% Monastrell, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Grenache, aged 10 months in French and American oak… The Solanera, which comes from relatively high-altitude limestone soils at 900 meters, has a dense purple color, a big sweet kiss of blueberry and blackberry fruit mixed with crushed chalk, a full-bodied mouthfeel, beautiful purity, density, and richness. The oak is well concealed by the lavish fruit-the wine just amazing. Drink it over the next 2 to 3 years, as these powerhouses are best consumed in their exuberant and extroverted youth.”

We highly recommend this one if you like big, lavish, New School wine.

Regular Price – $15.99

6 pack – $75.00

Or buy a case of 12 for $140.00. Just e-mail me at ken@actonwine.com or if you would like to receive your wine in Marlboro e-mail joe@marlborowine.com

Everyone knows that nobody drinks Merlot anymore.

Roger and I tried this wine a month ago and were, once again, completely floored by the price/value relationship available in wines from the Maule Valley in Chile.

The Maule River runs directly through the valley. It is amazingly like Bordeaux, where the Gironde cuts through the region. Wines from the north (let’s say Right Bank) are dominated by Merlot much like Pomerol and St Emilion, while grapes planted in the south (let’s say Left Bank) are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, much like the great wines of the Medoc.

Emile Bouchon came to Chile in 1892, and the family has been making wine in the Maule Valley ever since. The current proprietor of the estate is Emile’s grandson, Julio. And he has done a fantastic job with this wine.

I tried this wine last night again and it has taken on even more weight, with brilliant cassis and plum aromas emanating from a fragrant bouquet of raspberries and cherries. VERY structured from the Cabernet in the blend, this wine can go on for years.

Fruit, ripeness, acid, structure, and power. What everyone is looking for in great Bordeaux. Except we have a PRICE from Chile. We have about 15 cases left.

75% Merlot, 15% Carmenere, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine comes in at 13.7% alcohol. I find it to be delicious AND A SUPERB VALUE!

J. Bouchon Canto Norte Maule Valley, Chile 2012

Even the critics are weighing in on the value associated with this wine. This is from Steve Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar; “Spicy cherry and red berry aromas are complicated by pungent herbs and floral oils. Taut and focused on the palate, offering vibrant redcurrant and cherry flavors that turn spicier with air. Finishes with refreshing bite, supple tannins and strong fruit-driven persistence. Outstanding value.” 90 points!

That’s a pretty accurate review IMHO. The words I focus on are “Taut and focused”, “fruit-driven persistence”, AND OF COURSE “Outstanding value” This is EXACTLY the wine that I tried last night.

This wine normally goes for the bargain price of $14.99 (hey, it’s not from Bordeaux, it’s from Chile). For an e-mail special, however, I can sell you a 6 pack of this 90 point wine for the mere price of $65.00 or you can advance to the bonus round and pick up a case for $125.00.

Either way you should tuck a few bottles away. This wine should age very well. E-mail me back please, 15 cases available. Structure and power for $10.42 a bottle!

Cheers,

Ken

Wine Director

Acton Wine & Spirit Co.

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from Patagonia

People in Acton (one in particular) give me a lot of grief for saying that Pinot Noir is my “desert island” wine. In other words, if stranded on a desert island with only one grape to choose from, I would drink Pinot.

That was true when I wrote it a couple of months ago, and it’s still true.

The only problem is most of the Pinot’s that I like, with a few noticeable exceptions, cost at least $40.00 a bottle. Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle grape to grow, with thin skins, prone to mildew and rot, and quite a lot of the inexpensive ones (sorry, inexpensive California producers) just are not that good.

Now Burgundy is the home of Pinot Noir, and Burgundy is located between 40 and 50 degrees latitude. So is Oregon. Although the wines of Oregon DO NOT taste like the wines from Burgundy (sorry all you wine salesmen) it seems to be that the grape thrives in a cooler climate. Ditto Northern Italy.

But there is somewhere else on the globe that has the same latitude.

Turn the world upside down.

Patagonia in far southern Argentina has the approximately the same latitudinal coordinates as Oregon and Burgundy, (as does New Zealand on the other side of the globe) and is virtually unknown as a winemaking center.

Enter Paul Hobbs.

Paul Hobbs is known as the person who literally brought Argentian Malbec to the fore in his work at Catena, and of late he has been producing some stellar Pinot Noirs from California (at $50.00 and up).

Here though, he has teamed up with Leonardo Puppato to produce a modern Pinot from old vines in Patagonia, Argentina. Fermented in open top stainless steel 18 days of skin contact, and then aged in a combination of stainless steel and French and American oak, this wine pops with acidity and flavor.

And it’s priced like Pinot from Patagonia should be. It does not cost the proverbial arm and leg. Joe and I tried this wine at a dinner a couple of months ago, and have been waiting to get a price on it.

ALTO LIMAY “SELECT” PINOT NOIR
2012 Patagonia, Argentina

Tasting notes: 100% Pinot Noir. 14% Alcohol. Bright Ruby Red color. This is not a delicate Pinot. You can see the 18 days of skin contact here, as well as taste it. Cherries, rose petals, flowers and great lift with a strong acid backbone. A slight hint of vanilla from the oak, this Pinot is distinctly drinkable, with a silky feeling in the mouth, and a dry finish with a firm tannic structure.

This has the stuffing to age well. One can see the work and structure of Paul Hobbs in this wine.
This wine lists at the bargain price of $20.00 a bottle, but for this e-mail special I can sell you a 6 pack for the low price (for good Pinot) of $85.00, or you can step up and order a case for $165.00. Just e-mail me back. There were just 1000 cases produced, so we got around 5% of the world’s supply. This wine will go with foods as diverse as barbecued fish, chicken, or steak.

Just e-mail me back at ken@actonwine.com. In stock now.

Flash Sale!

For those who do not remember, flash sales are not advertised in the newspaper, only electronic media (web-site, e-mails, tweets). From now until 6 P.M. on Sunday, February 23rd, mix up 12 750 ml bottles of wine and receive 25% off. The only exclusions are Everyday Low Priced wines, Sale wines, and French Champagnes. All of our Bordeaux, California wines, Italian wines, and more is on sale! So come on down and shop till you drop!

We should all drink more Cru Beaujolais

We should all drink more Cru Beaujolais (I’m not talking about Beaujolais Village or Nouveau). Take tonight for example. I want to do a simple roast chicken. And of course I want to drink red wine. But I don’t want it to overpower the simple, unique flavors of the chicken. I want it to be somewhat substantial, yet I need some of those bright berry flavors that go so well with the bird. I really don’t want harsh tannins, and I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

In short, while my head is saying Grand Cru Burgundy I’m operating on a much simpler budget.

AND, if I’m going to buy something that I might throw in my cellar I’m going to want some indication that it will age.

AND, Cru Beaujolais, made from 100% Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc, can age very well. Especially in the cru’s Moulin-A-Vent and Morgon, oftentimes resembling Burgundy more that Beaujolais after 5 to 10 years.

AND, Beaujolais is NOT priced like Burgundy! There has been no worldwide escalation of prices, like there has been in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

For all of these reasons I present to you two examples of Cru Beaujolais which are delicious and satisfying, age-worthy and somewhat unique. At prices that won’t make you run from the store clutching your wallet.

2011 Domaine Mont Chavy Morgon – “This big, burly effort is structured and solidly textured. It has weight accompanying the blackberry flavor, with a firm character that demands aging over at least 18 months. The finish is still firm and concentrated.” 91 points Editors Choice Wine Enthusiast. Regular price $17.99 on sale $14.99 NET!

2011 Domaine des Rosiers Mulin-A-Vent – “Representing one of the multi-generaltional collaborations with Georges Duboeuf, the 2011 Moulin-A-Vent Domaine des Rosiers – from parcels in the commune of Chenas including a portion of La Rochelle, and raised in a mixture of barrel and tank – is pungently resinous in its expression of dried herbs and more subtle in its smoky black tea and spicy, oak-related elements, which are nicely woven into an overtly dense palate presentation saturated with cassis and beet root, and suffused with fine tannins. Finishing with cut, juicily mouth-coating persistence, invigoratingly peppery bite, and saliva-inducing salt-and iodine-tinged shrimp shell reduction, this superb value promises to reward at least through 2016.” 92 points Wine Enthusiast. Regular price $21.99 on sale $17.99

I have slashed prices on these two outstanding Beaujolais Cru’s down to what I would normally offer on my e-mails for a case. Although you can certainly order cases, the prices will not get any better than this. Both of these wines are brought in by Georges Dubouef, widely known as the King of Beaujolais. And both are serious examples of the best the region has to offer.

Both are in stock now. So tonight, roast a chicken and try some Morgon or Moulin-A-Vent with it. Then put the rest away for a year. You’ll thank me.

Cheers,

Ken
Wine Director
Acton Wine & Spirit Co.
Marlboro Wine & Spirit Co.

The classic Martini

I’ve recently been doing some research on the original recipes of classic cocktails such as the Martini. Now I’m not talking about Vodka-tini, Strawberry-tini, or any of the thousands of other tini’s that you see on menu’s today. I’m talking about the original Martini. It’s made with Gin.
I was in a bar/restaurant just last night and I told the young man who arrived at our table that I was in the mood for a Martini. He asked what kind of Vodka I preferred.
That is just wrong.
What really surprised me was the reliance on bitters in the drinks of the 1920’s. Even in Martini’s. While most modern recipes do not even mention bitters, they were apparently very prevalent in the classic cocktails of the 20’s.
This from Wilkpedia – A bitters is traditionally an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter such that the end result is characterized by a bitter or bittersweet flavor. Numerous longstanding brands of bitters were originally developed as patent medicines, but are now sold as digestifs and cocktail flavorings in the contemporary market.
So anyways back to the classic Martini. After numerous tries (I assure you, not all in the same night, and never during daylight hours) I have arrived at this recipe that I kind of like…
Crushed ice
2 1/2 ounces Green Mountain Organic Gin
1/2 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
2 dashes of Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters
2 Blue cheese stuffed olives
Fill a large Martini Glass with crushed ice. Wait for glass to get cold. Have patience. Fill your shaker with Gin, Vermouth, and Bitters. Pour ice from Martini Glass into shaker. Stir about 25 times vigorously. Stick a toothpick into olives and place in glass. Strain drink into glass.
And dump the ice! I have personally never understood why a bartender would ask if you wanted the ice (quite a few do). It’s done it’s job!
Enjoy. (limit 2)

A must buy in 94 point 2010 California Cabernet Sauvignon

I am REALLY EXCITED to tell you about this wine, so please excuse me for being a little “wordy”, but I have several points to get across.

I have recently written to you about the surprisingly stellar quality of the 2010 Napa Cabernet’s I have recently tasted.  This was based on the better wines that are being released right now.  Indeed, the Wine Spectator in their current issue has rated the 2010 vintage at a whopping 98 points.  This after a string of highly successful vintages.  2006 (95 points) 2007 (97 points) 2008 (96 points) and 2009 (96 points).

It rained in October in Napa.  But there were two heat waves that hit at the end of August (it hit 107 degrees in Oakville).  This intense heat helped push the ripening levels before the harvest.  To say I have been shocked at what I have tasted recently would not be an understatement.  These wines, for the most part, are magnificent examples of age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon.

NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.  THIS IS A GOLDEN AGE FOR NAPA CABERNET.

Now, the question is, what to buy?  You could buy Araujo Eisele Vineyard, which got 94 points in the Spectator. Of course that’s if you could find it, but it would cost you $315.00 a bottle.

Or you could possibly buy Scarecrow 2010 (94 points) if you’re on their mailing list, but that would set you back $250.00.

Or you could buy Colgin IX Estate Napa Valley (94 points) but that would also cost you $350.00.

Or perhaps Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Beckstoffer To Kalon (94 points) but, dang it!  That would also cost you $350.00.

Even Chimney Rock Stags Leap Ganymede (94 points) is going to set you back $120.00.

Or you could do what I would do-buy 2010 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley Reserve (again 94 points) for well under $70.00 a bottle.

This wine was tasted yesterday by a major wine wholesaler in Boston.  It is probably sold out of the local market by now.

But we got the jump on everyone and bought it before the tasting started.

Sometimes timing is everything.

Beringer’s “new winemaker”, Laurie Hook, (I say new even though she has been chief winemaker since 2000 because her predecessor, Ed Sbragia, was so influential) has taken up where Sbragia left off.  With less of an emphasis on oak and crafting more refined wines.

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve at $160.00 scored the same in the Spectator (94 points) as the Knights Valley Reserve.  And the Araujo.  And the Scarecrow.  And the Colgin, etc.

From now, while supplies last, the 2010 Beringer Knights Valley Reserve will be on sale for $49.99 a bottle.  Or better yet, buy a three pack for $145.00.  That’s 29% off the official Massachusetts book  price of $67.50.

If you would like a quantity of this wine, please e-mail at ken@actonwine.com and I will hold some for you. We only have 20 6 packs coming, and I am taking some home with me.

I’ve tasted it, and this wine is a steal! To quote James Laube of the Wine Spectator, “Strikingly rich and layered, with blackberry, licorice, and currant flavors.”

By the way, 2009 was the inaugural vintage of Knights Valley Reserve.  It is made from select blocks on Beringer’s Knights Valley property, and it was awarded #8 in the Wine Spectators Top 100 issue.    

This wine is ridiculously good for the money.  Buy it.  I am.

Cheers,

Ken

Wine Director

Acton Wine & Spirit Co.

Marlboro Wine & Spirit Co.