Wednesday, September 3, 2014

End of Summer Steals- save up to $360 a case!

I’m feeling really excited about the list of wines you see below.  There is something for everyone here.  Crisp, fresh white wines for entertaining or ageing, forward, delicious Pinot Noir, age-worthy Chateauneuf du Pape, famous cult-producer Washington Merlot, and fabulous drinking Italian reds.  Save up to 25% on these favorites of the shop and our clients.  Included are some exciting former wines of the month that you can get at fantastic savings to stock up on a case or two, or gift it to your neighbors for watching the dog while you were in the Vineyard this summer……


END OF SUMMER  SUPER STOCK-UP SALE!  Chateauneuf du Pape at Cotes du Rhone prices!

Mud House Golden Terrace Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 2011-  REGULAR PRICE: $34.00 NOW: $24.00- SAVE $10 PER BOTTLE!- 88 pts WS-
“The red fruit flavors have an appealing candied edge, with shadings of cedar, vanilla and spice on a smooth, easy-drinking body. Drink now through 2022
AMY SAYS:  I LOVE Pinot from the world’s coolest (literally) growing region for Pinot Noir.  New Zealand’s Central Otago region is THE most wonderful new region for Pinot.  These have tons of fruit, are super forward and fresh, and show a remarkable ability to age well.  A MUST try- especially for this awesome price. 

Siduri Chehalem Mountain 2011 Pinot Noir - $32 now $23- 90 pts WA
“tart-edged plum and cherry are aromatically tinged with juniper and cedar, and invigoratingly mingled with rhubarb, fresh ginger and white pepper. “  Overall, a serious wine from the Chehalem Mountain AVA of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  These wines are very layered and complex, reminding me of Corton or good Beaune wines.  -Amy

El Espectacle de Montsant 2009- REGULAR PRICE: $110 NOW: $80! SAVE $30 PER BOTTLE- 93 WA
“The 2009 Espectacle del Montsant has more fruit intensity on the nose than the 2008, with mulberry, sage and just a faint touch of chocolate. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth, chocolate-tinged entry. There is very good acidity that hides the alcohol particularly well, maintaining balance and precision, while a lovely dash of white pepper appears on the aftertaste. Drink now-2023. 

Januik Merlot Columbia Valley 2009- REGULAR PRICE: $27 NOW $20- save $7-  91 WS
“Originating in Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Weinbau vineyards (the sites chosen for this cuvee vary with vintage), Januik’s 2009 Merlot features fresh, juicy, cherry with a smoky overlay and a bitter herbal edge. It is infectious and satisfyingly long. Best from 2013 through 2019. 241 cases made”  BIG TIME Washington superstar Merlot producer at an amazing price.  This is case-worthy- Amy

Domaine Ferrandro Chateauneuf du Pape Colombis 2011 – REGULAR PRICE $60- NOW $45- SAVE $15!- 92 PTS WA
“Ferrando’s 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Colombis (100% Grenache from 60-100-year-old vines) is still an outstanding effort. Loaded with Grenache-driven aromas and flavors of black licorice, roasted herb, stony minerality and darker berry fruit, it has a chewy, broad feel on the palate, with good mid-palate depth and big tannin on the finish. Give it another year or two and drink it through 2022. Drink 2015-2022. 

Domaine St Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape 2011- $48 NOW $33- SAVE $15 per bottle! 90 Pts IWC
Deep ruby.  Vibrant, high-pitched aromas of candied red fruits and lavender, with Asian spice and herb topnotes.  Juicy and precise, offering gently sweet raspberry and cherry flavors and a good snap of acidity.  Closes silky and long, with lingering spiciness and very good clarity.  There's something pinot-like about this wine's elegance; it is already in bottle, by the way.

Domaine St Prefert Chateauneuf du Pape 2011 ‘Reserve Auguste Favier’- REGULAR PRICE $60- NOW $45- 93 WA- SAVE $15
The 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier (85% Grenache and 15% Cinsault) is deeper and richer on the palate than I remember. Giving up loads of blackberry, licorice, smoked herbs and toasted spice, it possesses medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful mid-palate density and a beautiful core of sweet fruit. Already drinking beautifully, it will have a solid 10-12 years of ultimate longevity. 
Shows good depth for the vintage, with a full, fleshy feel to the cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit, lined with singed mesquite, pepper and warm paving stone notes. A flicker of shiso leaf appears on the finish. Best from 2014 through 2022. 915 cases made.

Aldo Rainoldi Inferno Riserva 2007- $35 NOW- $30-89 pts WS
“Open-knit and balanced, with tangy strawberry, pomegranate, tea rose and ground spice notes. Offers a fresh finish, with light grip and a hint of salumi. Drink now through 2017.
Honestly one of my favorite wines this year.  This 100% nebbiolo from Valtellina is super-cool and drinks like racy Barbaresco from the neighboring commune at half the price.  The slopes are so darn steep they harvest by helicopter.  I’m amazed this wine isn’t more expensive.  Want some fantastic drinking satisfying HIGH quality Italian reds?  THIS would be my hands-down pick- Amy

WHITE WINES!     Domaine Chene Macon La Roche Vineuse 2011- REGULAR PRICE: $16 NOW: $12 SAVE $4
One of our previous Wines of the Month.  This is sensational Maconnais Chardonnay from a top producer.  Drinks more like Pouilly, with a rich mid palate.  Outstanding for this insane price.  Case-worthy

*** VALUE ALERT!*** Bisci Verdicchio di Matelica 2011- REGULAR PRICE: $15 NOW $12- 91 PTS IWC
“Bright straw.  Penetrating mineral aromas lift bright apple and citrus fruits.  Fresh and clean in the mouth, with mineral-driven quince, apple and lemon flavors that linger with sneaky concentration.  This very long, pure wine will remind you of the Mosel.

Domaine FL Savennieres Chamboureau 2008- $27 NOW $18! SAVE $9- One of our former wine of the month collector’s (Next Level) club selections.  SERIOUS white wine.
“A flattering style, featuring creamed apricot, peach and chamomile notes, with hints of tarragon and apple skin adding cut on the finish. A paraffin accent echoes. Drink now through 2014. 2,500 cases made

Free delivery as always!   Items above are limited and will sell out

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


GEEKING OUT to truly great wine by Amy Dixon CSW

One of the MANY things I LOVE about wine is its ability to challenge me on an intellectual level.  The wines I remember most over my 20 year career are the ones that give me great pause, and I take about 15 minutes before ever even bringing the glass to my eager lips.  Wines where every wonderful waft produces another stimulating scent.  Layer upon layer of spices, fruits and earth that keep challenging my mental ‘scent wheel’ to identify WHAT it is that I’m about to consume.  Having tasted thousands and thousands of wines allows me to have great fun in identifying wines in my mind’s Rolodex to see which wine I’ve historically tasted that reminds me of the one currently in my glass.  I like to call it, “Wine Detective Work”, which on many levels, it truly is. 
Honestly, when I did my homework before an impending supplier appointment to taste this property, I was biased.  I thought to myself, ok, here’s yet another example of an over-priced wine from some obscure region that a famous winemaker (Domaine Leflaive) is doing ‘for fun’ as a sort of artistic experiment;  relegated only to those wineries that have great fortunes and wads of income to indulge their every whim to grow wine in odd places with bizarre grape varieties.  I was happily mistaken.  God bless Leflaive for taking a ‘flyer’ and producing the three wines I had yesterday.  They are game-changers. 
The cool thing about Clau de Nell, Domaine Leflaive’s new Biodynamically farmed property in the Loire Valley, is that EACH WINE is SO different from one another.  Of the three wines I tasted, they each presented a unique education in the glass.  An experience unlike most others.  I got giddy, and eagerly held my glass out for the next wine, and the next.  I am SO excited to share with you my geeky side.  The side I only get to share with fellow retailers and sommeliers.  But I adore you all so much, these wines are too cool NOT to share, so here you go.  I took 3 of each for myself.  You should too.

Just to give you a ‘taste’ of the quality in each and every glass, the wines are from 30-90 year old vines in Anjou, and  the yields in these vineyards are LESS than 2.2 tons per acre (GRAND CRU Burgundy level yields), meaning they DROP a lot of fruit on the ground to keep the quality at its absolutely utmost.  ONLY 18 BOTTLES EXIST IN CT and I HAVE THEM! Oh yeah, only 250 cases made- SUPER TINY. 

Clau de Nell Cabernet Franc 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
Depth rarely found outside Bordeaux from one of my favorite all-time grape varieties.  Chewy, structured, and Very, very focused with freshness that keeps it from bogging down on your palate in any way.  It persists without being rounded in any way.  This is a study in angles of wine.  Overwhelms the nose with cola and cherry (Dr. Pepper?)   Hard to believe that Cabernet Franc can have this much stature and structure, but then I start thinking about Margaux and Graves, and I realize that yes, this is how good Cabernet Franc really is supposed to taste.  Drinks like a $200 bottle of great classified Growth Bordeaux. 
Clau de Nell Grolleau Noir 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
This grape varietal is traditionally used to produce Rose d’Anjou.  Here, it BLEW MY MIND.  125 delectable cases are made of this insanely good wine.  The nose takes precious time to come around (remember this is geeky stuff, so patience is required).  It AMPLY rewards you by starting off from tar and super- WEIRD petroleum power, then moves into grilled steak au Poivre.  It just kept changing, and I loved every second of the journey this wine took me on.  I literally couldn’t figure out WHERE this wine was taking me, but I sat back and totally geeked out over it for an entire hour.  You should too. 
Clau de Nell Grolleau Noir 2011 MAGNUMS (1.5 Liter)- $110 (3 available)- YAY YAY!  Lucky me!

Clau de Nell Violette (Cab Franc/ Cab Sauv) 2011- $55- 15% off a 6-pk
Hello baby!  The most powerful of the bunch.  Less than 2 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon grows on this estate, and the yields are TINY.  Almost HALF of the yields from Bordeaux’s Pessac Leognan region.  What does this tell me?  This could be the next GREAT region for high quality Cabernet, albeit very, very small in production.  Alas… This has the deftness and agility that is Loire valley Cabernet Franc, with the powerful structure and mouth-coating tannins of great Cabernet Sauvignon.  Yet, NOTHING is clumsy or heavy about this wine.  I really, really makes me happy and hopeful for more of this wine in the future.  Although I believe it’s just a fun labor of love for the Leflaive family, so I doubt we will ever see production in the thousands of cases.  So I will grab it right now.  This is a wine to watch!

Call Nicholas Roberts Wines for these wines- 203-656-9463- we ship almost anywhere and free CT Delivery.  

Amy Dixon CSW

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vacation Wines

HERE’S the mixed case  I’m taking with me on vacation next week for PERFECT summer wines! 6 wines under $30 that will make up the perfect balance for all the lobster, burgers, tomato-mozzarella salad and fried calamari I’m about to consume…….

Clos des Rochers Auxerrois- $17- this awesome white variety stems from Alsace, where it is a close cousin to French Chardonnay.  With a touch of Pinot Blanc added for interest, it has all the lush, round components of well-made cool-climate un-oaked Chardonnay, with even MORE interest on the palate, with peach and melon.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this wine and it’s a dangerous bottle to have around the house come cocktail time!

Charles Gonnet Chignin $20- This neat region in Savoie grows a grape known as Jacqu√®re. It is SUPER clean, minerally and fresh, with a delicate nose.  The ultimate in refreshment, delicacy and balance.  Really 5 times better than most Sauvignon Blancs.  Cool wine!

Chavy Chouet Bourgogne Blanc les Femelottes- $30- This is hands-down my LOBSTER wine! Rich, buttery, opulent White Burgundy.  Mostly sourced from the village of Meursault and St Aubin, so REALLY a steal for the $.
Gobelsburger Rose- $18- Our #1 selling Rose in the store.  From the Zweigelt grape in Austria, this has a lovely note of spicy wild strawberries, white pepper, and a richer building crisp finish.  Lovely and a great porch sipper!
Peillot Bugey- $25- We all went NUTS for this Pinot Noir from the village of Bugey in France’s Savoie region.  It has laser-like precision and extremely focused cranberry fruit with a super-clean, fresh finish.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this wine.  My go-to summer red.

Chateau de Corcelles Brouilly- $20- It’s no secret I love Cru Beaujolais.  This month at the store, we’re having fun with our Wine of the Month clients ‘Debunking Wine Myths” including the preconceived notion that Beaujolais is some fruity Thanksgiving-only red wine.  As you can see by this single estate wine from Brouilly, this is pretty serious wine indeed, with bright tart cherries and just a touch of fine vanilla to soften the tannins.  Delicious and refreshing red.  

Amy Dixon CSW
The Blind Sommelier
Nicholas Roberts
Office: 203-656-9463

Saturday, April 26, 2014

WEIRD and fun White Wines

This time of year is SO busy for family households. The beginning of outdoor sports activities after school, school plays, proms, holiday breaks and packing to visit out of town relatives, the list goes on and on. It’s simply exhausting. Picking your ‘Hump Day’ wine shouldn’t be. In keeping with our April theme, “Let’s get Weird”, I've found some off the beaten path white wines that are not only sensational, they are sensational values for everyday drinking (Like when you just HAVE to have that glass (or two) of wine after wrangling the kids into bed). These wines are guaranteed to put a smile back on your face after a tough day of juggling kids, work, and holiday schedules. Come on! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Time to get weird with me! Enjoy!

Amy Dixon CSW


Domaine Ehrhart Pinot Auxerrois-
In keeping with our ‘let’s get weird’ theme in the month of April, I decided to focus on one of my favorite regions for cool climate white wines, Alsace. This unique clone of normally ‘pedestrian’ Pinot Blanc, called Auxerrois, is quite special indeed. It has naturally low yields, and therefore starts with a much higher quality and concentration than other Pinot Blanc, AND the berries have thin skins, allowing a greater juice to skin ration, further intensifying the fruit. Domaine Ehrhart dates back to the 1700s, with their tiny 21 acres of vines, located at the top of the valley with the perfect eastern exposition on their steeply sloped site. 100% organically farmed, with beautiful tropical notes, a silky medium body that hints at oak (although this wine is 100% stainless steel fermented) with gorgeous balance, and peach blossoms delicately wafting from the glass. I fell in LOVE all over again. An insane value.

Finca Antigua Viura-
Tasting this wine blind was the perfect choice. I do enjoy Viura, but oftentimes find it devoid of character and interest- sort of an innocuous dry white from Spain’s Valdeorras region. Looking back at my notes from that fun evening, I was delighted to see, “leesy, rich, juicy, layered and persistent.” It’s hard to believe that came from this lovely modest little white wine. Tickled? You bet I am! This wine is harvested at over 2500 feet of elevation, preserving that wonderful natural freshness and acidity one comes to expect from high altitude serious white wines. A no brainer for a case!

Wine Advocate
The 2011 Finca Antigua Viura offers a fragrant, floral bouquet with honeysuckle and jasmine scents mixed with a touch of vanilla pod. The palate is well-balanced with a touch of dry honey on the entry, leading to a lovely apricot, peach and marmalade-tinged finish that is a real treat. Excellent. Drink now.
Score: 91. —Neal Martin, April 2013

Tilia Torrontes-

What’s weirder than Viognier? Torrontes! It’s like the Southern hemisphere’s answer to this awesomely aromatic grape variety. Torrontes is a tropical, floral cornucopia of flavors and aroma from Argentina. When I’m looking to step up my game from ‘plain Jane Sauvignon Blanc’ this is where I go. Yes, it’s weird, but tres chic! This wine is wonderfully rich, with a freshness of the finish and simply cannot be beat under $15. Be hip. Be Cool. Try Torrontes and you’ll never turn back!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guess which wine had me on the floor?

Wow- There are few tastings as focused and full of quality from top to bottom than the Skurnik Wines portfolio tasting. I was so excited to dive in and check out the new releases, from recently disgorged Grower Champagnes, to vibrant, fresh Rose' wines, zippy German and Austrian white wines, and a plethora of American, Italian and Bordeaux reds. I'm ready for a nap!

To kick off spring, I began with the beautiful wines at the 'Pink' table, celebrating all the wonderful Rose wines of the world. While I'm a traditionalist at heart, and truly adore the racy, brisk style of Provence, it was two wines from Portugal and Greece that stole my attention. The KIR-YIANNI Akakies 2013 had a hot pink color with lots of zippy, fresh grapefruit notes, and had a juicy mouthfeel. LOVED it. Then, the VERA VINHO VERDE 2013 equally impressed at an incredibly attractive price. It had super strawberry that made me super happy!

Then I moved to the Finger Lakes, one of my happy places (I have a lot of them in the wine world, as you'll see) and had the Charles Fournier Riesling Gold Seal Vineyard 2012, which stole the show for a bit with its bright apple freshness and beautiful rich texture. And I forgot how GOOD Upstate NY Cabernet Franc can be! This was the perfect balance of lightness and up front acidity, and intense flavor that persisted without being cloying. Really nice. Like a perfect Chinon without the weighty price tag. Under Twenty bucks too! Kind of HAS to come home with me....

Then I landed in Bordeaux, with some pedestrian wines, and one really awesome value that blew my doors off for under $15 called La Courdraie 2012. It is my perfect blend of 60% Merlot, and 20% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This drinks like a $40 California Meritage with CLASS. Yup- I said it!

My 'go-to' grape variety these days is Chenin and I FORGOT how AWESOME this wine can be when done well. If I were to find the PERFECTLY balanced white for drinking with absolutely everything in my cupboard, THIS would be it. Domaine de L'enchantoir Saumur Blanc 2011 has the complexity of good White Burgundy, the acidity of top notch German wines, and the elegance of a fine Champagne. AND the truly best part? It's $15!!!!

Then I scooted over to Italy to taste one of my favorite white wines in the world year in and year out. This insanely cool white wine from the Italian Alps is known as Kerner. It's a wild cross between the local Schiava and dry Riesling, with loads of peaches, apricot and white flowers on the nose and palate. And yet, it is DRY! Impressive length, and the subtlety hits you like a heart attack, as wave after wave of complex flavors waft over your lucky lucky palate. I could easily see paying $40 for this, and yet it's $25. This is COOL.

Oh how I DO love bubbles! If there is a greatest area of strength in a portfolio, I'd have to say it's in Michael Skurnik's unparalleled Grower Champagne selection from Importer Thierry Thiesse. Ok, I have a bread problem. I'll explain. When I smell brioche, there is a sort of visceral response that immediately makes me hungry and crave it intensely. The Pierre Gimonnet Brut Selection Belles Annees makes me do just that. It smells like glistening with butter, fresh from the oven, perfectly toasted, like baked brioche. I literally sat down in the middle of this busy wine tasting and got cozy with this gorgeous glass.

And finally, the grape variety that I 'cut my teeth on' as an excited teenager traveling throughout Europe that got me INTO this whole wine mess to begin with; RIESLING! It is not a coincidence that this noble grape is considered the king of all white wine. It is by far the most versatile thing you can put in your glass. Good German Riesling can be laser-like and super high in acid, causing your mouth to literally pucker in recoil at its lime-laden sour tartness. And then the very same wine from further up the slope or in a different valley can be honeyed, unctuous, rich, full, silky, and super duper long and sweet. No two are remotely the same!

So I was TICKLED when one of my favorite Mosel Riesling producers (next to Dr Thanisch), Johannes Selbach Oster came out with a KILLER value Riesling that really takes your palate to the stratosphere. With a name like INCLINE, that is an ENTIRELY appropriate description! From the Mosel's steep slopes, this is juicy with green and red apple, lime and spritzy, fresh acidity, and a lip-smacking medium body that has beautiful length. Yup, for $14, he NAILED it!

So, I'd bill the Skurnik CT Spring tasting as time well spent. There is something for everyone here.

Amy Dixon CSW and
Guiding Eyes for the Blind Elvis

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wine Shopping- the benefit of supporting small shops

One of my favorite pastimes as a wine educator and buyer is to find the cool local shop when I'm traveling to a new city or country. You won't find me hitting the likes of Costco, (America's LARGEST wine seller by far), Trader Joes, or Whole Foods to get what I'm looking for. And honestly, even I don't know exactly what I'm in the mood to buy until I get there!

It's the same reason I can get lost for days in a fabulous tiny book store. I'll sit on the floor in a corner with my guide dog, and stack interesting titles beside me, perusing the inside jacket of each carefully bound piece of literary treasure, hoping to find the book that really 'speaks' to me. Wine does that for me when I venture into a small wine shop where the proprietor has personally tasted and selected each and every bottle on the shelf.

I feel like I'm being hosted at someone's HOME when I hit these stores. The retailer reflects his or her personality and style through their thoughtful selection of some of their favorites from across the globe. It's like looking at a Shutterfly Album of someone's travels. Proudly atop each shelf or section is a photo of the proprietor with the vintners, farmers and vineyard owners that share their wines, and their lives with us through the power of the bottle.

So when I walk in, to be greeted by the owner himself, or his or her fellow oenophile and right-hand gal, I get a flutter of excitement to see where they're going to take me. It's like a guided tour of their palates, and the lovely thing about this experience- NO TWO ARE THE SAME. I love that I can get to know this person almost immediately on a very intimate and personal level- their style and their passion.

I try to go in with no preconceived notions, with the exception if I have a specific meal I'm shopping for. While I've tasted tens of thousands of wines over my 18 year career, there are still hundreds of thousands of new wines for me to discover and get excited about that may or may not come across my desk. Venturing into a boutique retailer is truly the best way to 'discover' and learn about new wines, or regions that I'd perhaps long forgotten about in my focus on my personal 'go-tos' as we can sometimes do.

While shopping in a big discount store may be impressive in stature and sheer volume of their selections due to a big buying budget, a lot of the more interesting and smaller wineries simply don't land on those shelves. A) they can't supply enough wine to fulfill a giant store needs to properly stock their shelves on a national or state-wide level and B) there is a lack of educated staff to properly explain the wines and what makes them exciting. Big box stores want to keep you drinking the same thing, year in and year out. New is not how they build a successful business model. Safe staples is what they do, and certainly they sell them at rock-bottom prices.

While I love saving a buck or two just as much as the next person, sometimes spending an extra dollar is worth the price of admission. One, I don't have to fight for a parking spot in some giant, scary parking lot, where I need to dodge crazy drivers and wayward shopping carts. Two, I want to meet the owner or the buyer and make sure they know ME and what I like to drink. I want to be welcomed into the store by a friendly, "Hello Amy! How was that Sancerre you took home last week?"

I want the salesperson to go "OOOH! I'm so glad you came in today! I snagged three bottles of Bergstrom Pinot Noir and stashed them in the back for you, because I know it's your fave." I want to walk in and taste some wines they have open or are featuring. I want to be invited to upcoming winemaker dinners at my favorite local restaurants, tasting alongside friends and other loyal customers. I want to feel special.

One of the other benefits of stumbling upon a great local merchant is the level of personalized service. Will Whole Foods donate a basket of wine for your local Lion's Club Fundraiser? Would Total Wine deliver that special client gift that just HAS to go out today before they leave the office? I don't think so. Will the salesperson spend 30 minutes with you explaining the different styles of Riesling throughout the various regions of Germany? I think not. Will they spend time carefully gift wrapping 120 individual bottles of wine at Thanksgiving to give out to all of your clients? Definitely no. And when your daughter gets married, who is going to be sure that you have all the ice, vodka, Champagne and soda for the occasion, even throwing a last minute addition into their station wagon as guests arrive? I can assure you it's not the 'BIG guys'!

So you can spend $12.99 on your Kendall Jackson Chardonnay at Total wine, and be a faceless, nameless statistic, or with your $13.99, be greeted by name, learn a little each time you shop, be assured the wines have been perfectly vetted and stored, and be treated like family, with a real connection to your personal tastes. PLUS you can receive free delivery each week of the wines that you are 'in-the-know' about that NONE of your jet-set friends has even heard of. All of this from a family business and a guy or gal who knows you, appreciates you and wants to make you happy. Shop Small. It pays!