December 3rd, 2013
It is with a good deal of excitement that I write to tell you about the six extraordinary wines which comprise the first-ever delivery of the Heirloom Wine Club. The first installment features four different countries, four different vintages, and, possibly, wines from two of the best American winemakers of whom you’ve never heard.
Graham Tatomer apprenticed himself to the great Austrian winemaker Emmerich Knoll on the hunch that he might like to make wines from gruner veltliner and riesling grapes in California, and it’s lucky for us that he did. His Gruner Veltliner ‘Meeresboden,’ ($24) which means ‘ocean soil’ and is from cool vineyard sites in Santa Barbara county, is the best domestic gruner I’ve ever had. Flinty, supple, dry and taut, it has the balance and nuance we’re used to seeing from famous Austrian bottlings, at a fraction of the price. From dry and Germanic we go to Harald Hexamer’s 2001 Riesling Hochgewachs ‘Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg,’ ($30) which has more syllables than sweetness but a mind-bendingly copious supply of complexity. How rare it is to find great aged wine at reasonable prices; we’re hard-pressed to remember any wine even half this good for money like this. Take this mildly-sweet beauty with you on a walk through a field of winter vegetables, cheeses, fat sausages, whatever. The modest roster of whites concludes with Philippe Foreau’s 2010 Vouvray Sec ($30), which is one of the world’s greatest dry white wines year in and year out, but which in this vintage is a true vin de garde, or ‘wine for keeping.’ Astoundingly complex and age-worthy though they may be, even the greatest expressions of the Loire grape chenin blanc still don’t command anything like the prices fetched by wines made from the more famous chardonnay grape to the east in Burgundy. Simply put, Foreau Vouvrays—dry and sweet—are my favorite white wines for the money in the world. My cellar is full of them, and if you ever have a chance to taste one which has rested in a bottle for several years, I wouldn’t be surprised if you stash a few away also. I’m very glad to offer this 2010 Sec—a wine I can’t wait to revisit in twenty years—as part of our first box.
Gideon Beinstock’s 2012 Cinsault ‘Out of the Blue,’ was made from grapevines which were planted in 1885 in the Sierra Foothills, twenty years after Mark Twain wrote about a famous jumping frog from those parts. I often tell people: surprises don’t come along very often for me anymore in the wine world. I’ve been buying professionally for ten years, and after a certain point one tends to sort of know what’s out there. Beinstock’s Clos Saron winery has been the very major and very happy exception for me since Heirloom opened. Tiny production, extremely minimalist winemaking, low alcohol levels and extraordinary complexity are the hallmarks of Beinstock’s excellent work. From vines averaging merely 60 years of age comes Gerard Prudhon’s 2008 St. Aubin 1er Cru ‘Sur le Sentier du Clou,’ ($31) a red Burgundy with the depth and pedigree of a wine three times as expensive. St. Aubin is an appellation in the southern part of Burgundy where white wines are king, which accounts for the delivery of a wine this good for a price this reasonable. A 2010 Nebbiolo d’Alba ‘Valmaggione’ from the great Piedmontese producer Brovia ($30) is left to close out the selection of reds, which means that the roster could stay open for business for a decade or more. From a vineyard in Alba about twenty minutes north of Barolo, here is a nebbiolo-based wine with an abundance of the traits we love about great Baroli and Barbaresci—tannic structure, deep red fruit qualities, and the herbaceous and savory aromatics of the best northern Italian reds.
Please enjoy now, or for even more pleasure, further on up the road…best, Matt
(Refer a friend to Heirloom Wines, receive a magnum of wine as thanks!)