Welcome to The Spirit Haus, Amherst's Specialty Beverage Center

Tomorrow, in conjunction with our inventory reduction sale of wine over $50, we'll taste an eclectic batch that includes a heavily allocated Barolo, a Tuscan coast blend from Gaja, a 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a prized Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Along the way and mixed in we'll offer a fresh, new Muscadet; a “little,” organically-farmed Ventoux red; an excellent vallue red that serves as a “barometer” of Bolgheri's 2016 vintage; and a Sonoma Valley Zinfandel from a popular family winery. Eight wines in all comprise our afternoon.

We begin with Domaine de la Fruitiere's 2017 Muscadet Gneiss de Bel Abord [$13.99], a wine “just the thought of which” brings back sunshine to a cold rainy day. It's been a couple of years since we've had this organically-farmed, Melon de Bourgogne from the Jon-David Headrick portfolio of superb Loire offerings. Here is a pleasant and truthful review (I think, except that I don't quite have a clear and distinct memory of a verbena note) from the Wine Spectator: Lemon peel, white peach and verbena notes mingle in this white, carried by tangy acidity. A light flash of straw shows on the fresh finish. Drink now. 3,000 cases imported.

88 points. –JM . This Muscadet tastes good.

Next, we 'll find ourselves on the Tuscan Coast with Aia Vecchia's 2016 Lagone [$15.99], a wine of more or less equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This is the anticipatory barometer for Bolgheri. Enthusiasts of Mediterranean expressions of Bordeaux varietals are well served to pay attention here. (We also have Aia Vecchia's crisp and luminous Vermentino on our 2/$19.99 table.)

From Tuscany to the south of France we go with our next pre-cursor of wines to come, Domaine Cristia's 2015 Ventoux Rouge a new and welcome addition to our 2/$19.99 table. Cristia is where the Chapelle St. Theodoric Chateauneuf-du-Papes are made, those unique expressions of sandy soil Grenache. Cristia's estate wines are farmed organically.

Thus, with these three as introductions, we'll take the extra-ordinary step to Bartolo Mascarello's 2012 Barolo [$147.99], a very special producer now under the direction of his daughter Maria Teresa, who makes a single Barolo from several vineyards in a very traditional style, but with all the modern vineyard work that guarantees the best possible fruit. Does it really make sense to think of some Barolo in Burgundian terms as reviewers do with Mascarello's 2012?

Then back to the Tuscan coast to Gaja's Ca'Marcanda Promis 2013 [$54.99], a blend of Merlot, Syrah with a bit of Sangiovese. It's time to check in again on this wine. Angelo Gaja is most famous for his revolutionizing vineyard work some forty years ago producing ground-breaking single vineyard wines with gorgeous fruit from Barbaresco. His daughters, Gaia and Rossana, are leading the transition to a new generation of Gaja wines.

Next, we take up again the southern Rhone, but this time with Domaine Charvin's 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape [$74.99], a very traditional producer making only one Chateauneuf with no special cuvees. Here we ask the absurd question: with our 20% sale discount to $60, is this Charvin six times better than the little Cristia Ventoux selling for $10? Can you find six layers of complexity in the Charvin that are not found in the Cristia? See the review of the Charvin below for possible suggestions...

After CNP, we turn to two Zinfandels – Seghesio's 2016 Sonoma County [22.99; sale $19.99] and A. Rafanellli's 2014 Dry Creek Valley [$51.99]. Seghesio's is usually readily available; Rafanelli's almost only through the winery's mailing list. We have some mostly because I had a visit there two summers ago... We sold out of our small allocation of their Cabernet last fall.

Thus, eight wines in all beginning at 2 pm. with cheese, salami and bread accompanying. The paid portion of tomorrow's tasting is $8. Please see below for some additional reviews.

Thank you all so very much,


Bartolo Mascarello 2012 Barolo

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, November 2015: Freshly cut flowers, mint, raspberry and red stone fruits all lift from the glass in the Maria-Theresa Mascarello's 2012 Barolo. Silky, open-knit and gracious, the 2012 is surprisingly delicious today. This is a decidedly mid-weight, approachable Barolo that is already quite open and delicious. Best of all, the 2012 won't need years to come together. Mascarello fans should buy the 2012 to drink over the near and medium-term, while some of the more structured vintages age in the cellar. A model of grace and finesse, the 2012 is striking in its beauty.. Drinking window: 2018 – 2032. 95 points.

Maria Teresa Mascarello made one of the most delicate, refined Barolos of the vintage in 2012. Mascarello describes 2012 as a coolish vintage. The Nebbiolo harvest took place on October 7 and 8. Like many growers in Barolo, Mascarello had to deal with hail and the lower yields that resulted from careful sorting. Because of the quality of the skins, Mascarello opted for slightly shorter macerations than normal. The Mascarello Barolos often develop into very pretty, Burgundian-inflected wines. The 2012 is already headed in that direction.

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate, June 2016: The Bartolo Mascarello 2012 Barolo is a beautiful wine that is endowed by a deep sense of purity and clarity. What else should you expect from the producer whose name is forever linked to the definition of traditional Barolo? The wine is vibrant and elegant with an evident sense of inner grace that translates to both the nose and the mouthfeel. Silky and polished, the wine reveals delicate tones of wild rose, forest berry, licorice, dried ginger and cola. Maria Teresa Mascarello used the word "fragile" to describe this vintage and I think it is a poetically appropriate term for this wine. Drink: 2018-2035. 94+ points.

Ca'Marcanda 2013 Promis Castagneto Carducci, Maremma, Tuscany

Monica Larner, Wine Advocate, Oct 2015: Angelo Gaja always presents one of the most exciting tastings of the year. The 2013 Promis (Merlot, Syrah and a small part Sangiovese) reveals all the hallmarks of the excellent vintage. The wine offers a supple and smooth entry that is creamy and delicious. Spice, dark fruit, cherry, blackberry, tar, resin and cola come to attention. The tannins still show some attitude so I would recommend giving this wine a few more years of cellar aging. The intensity, depth and persistency promise many years of forward-looking cellar aging. 92+ points.

Antonio Galloni, Vinous, July 2015: The 2013 Promis is ripe, forward and also nicely balanced. Red and blue stone fruits flesh out as this silky, Merlot/Syrah-based wine shows off its understated personality. Sweet floral and spiced notes follow, adding lift on the mid-weight, silky finish. This is an especially feminine, gracious wine from Tuscany's Maremma. Drinking window: 2015 – 2019. 90 points.

Domaine Gerard Charvin – Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

Robert Parker Wine Advocate #203 (Oct 2012): More backward and concentrated, the 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape exhibits a dark ruby/purple color as well as dense, black raspberry, black currant, garrigue, licorice and lavender characteristics. Full-bodied with undeniable elegance, minerality and precision, it needs 2-3 years of cellaring and should keep well for 15-20. 2014 – 2034. 95+ points.

This small, 20-acre estate owned by the Charvin family is located in the northwest sector of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. It has long been one of my favorites for the elegance, purity and sensuality of the wines...Aside from their vin de pays and Cotes du Rhone, they produce one cuvee of Chateauneuf du Pape from 85% Grenache and the rest Syrah, Mourvedre and Vaccarese. No white Chateauneuf du Pape is produced.

Josh Raynolds, Vinous, January 2013: Bright purple. Heady red and dark berry preserve and floral aromas, with bright spice and mineral nuances adding vivacity. Concentrated but impressively energetic, offering sappy black raspberry and blueberry flavors that are firmed by zesty minerality. Smoothly plays richness off finesse, finishing on a resonating note of candied flowers. 95 points.

Seghesio Family Vineyards – Zinfandel 2016 Sonoma Coast

Wine Spectator, June 2018: Loaded with rich, jammy fruit, this plump Zin is a pleasure to drink, with bold accents of wild berry, spicy cinnamon and licorice that glide dynamically toward plush tannins. Drink: 2018- 2025. 93 points. –TF


Gaja Ca'Marcanda Promis 2013

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Color: Light garnet. Aroma: Bright and fruit with a jammy nose. Taste: A delightful wine that combines the elegance and suppleness of Merlot and Syrah with the austerity of Sangiovese. Balanced, almost musical, it's a pleasure to drink from an early age and also has an aging potential of 5-8 years.



Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

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Words that come to mind in describing the style of Charvin's wine would include at the top, silky, velvety, and smooth. There are no harsh or dry tannins and they are always impeccably balanced. These are indeed some of the best examples of the appellation and represent a very unique and extraordinary style that is immediately recognizable, and thus literally an artistic expression.