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Cellar Club

Cellar Club – October 2016

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SpOoOoky Surprise in the Glass


Manni Nössing Grüner Veltliner, Italy

The winemaking region of Alto-Adige is like a little Germany in northeast Italy. Most signs are in German and you’re more likely to see sauerkraut on a menu than tomatoes and basil. Here, Manni Nössing’s vineyards benefit from the steep mountain climate, making stunning Grüner Veltliner that perfectly represents its terroir. After being vinified in stainless steel tanks, the grapes stay eight months on the lees for added richness and texture. The result is this complex wine that balances body with lean Alpine minerality.

Red Hook Winery Twenty One: Twenty Four, New York

When you think of New York you might first consider what the Big Apple has to offer; great restaurants, shopping, museums etc, but you may not find yourself thinking of it as an up-and-coming wine growing region. Red Hook Winery was established in 2008 and aims at showing off New York state viticulture. He is able to do so with his team of winemakers out of California, Abe Schoener and Robert Foley.  Splitting each lot of grapes in half for each wine maker to experiment, they continue to discover what New York means in liquid form, letting the juice tell the story. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the North Fork of Long Island is full of cracked pepper, raspberry, and clove aromas with a brambly fruit palate and long finish.

Cellar Club – September 2016

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Southern France!

MAS DE DAUMAS GASSAC BLANC (IGP St Guilhem-le-Désert – Cité d’Aniane)

  • 27{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Petit Manseng , 25{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viognier, 16{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chenin Blanc, 15{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Chardonnay, 17{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Blend of: Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Petit Courbu, Muscat Ottonel, Muscat Petit Grain, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Gros Manseng, Semillon, Neherleschol, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Sercial de Madère (Portugal), Khondorni, Tchilar (Arménie), Albarino (Espagne), Falanghina, Fiano, Grechetto
  • Organic farming
  • Hand harvested
  • Fermented then rested for 6 months in stainless steel

For many, this estate needs no introduction. Often referred to as the Grand Cru of the Midi (South of France), the Mas de Daumas Gassac top-tier wines have reached international cult status. Located in the majestic Gassac Valley, the estate benefits from the cool microclimate derived from the Gassac River, several natural springs (from which the Guibert family drinks), and the influence of the nearby mountains. The soil that dominates the valley is a rare and still unexplained red, powder-fine glacial soil, which is strikingly similar to that found in the prime areas of Burgundy. This combination of characteristics is quite unique in Southern France.   They were the very first estate in the Languedoc to adopt full organic farming and can honestly say that the Gassac estate has never seen any chemicals!  This a very aromatic, lush white blend that is delicious to drink now by itself or with richer chicken dishes and a multitude of cheeses.  Try it with our Cambozola!


LES VIGNES OUBLIÉES ROUGE (Coteaux du Languedoc Terrasses du Larzac)

  • 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Syrah, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Carignan
  • Organic farming
  • Aged 12 months in a mix of demi-muidsand barriques, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new
  • Hand harvested
  • Indigenous yeast fermentation


Les Vignes Oubliées is hard to categorize: though the quality and quantity produced suggest an exacting family estate, it is in fact a sort of boutique cooperative—a self-proclaimed “collective of small farmers.” Clustered around the tiny village of Saint Privat, less than an hour northwest of Montpellier, the terraced vineyards sit at 350 meters altitude, placing them among the region’s highest. Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Granier works closely year-round with the four vignerons who entrust their fruit to him, ensuring that both sides maintain their stringent standards.

Having grown up in a family of vignerons, Jean-Baptiste was exposed to wine early on and quickly picked up his father and grandfather’s passion for their profession. They stressed to him the importance of listening to Nature, and the young boy aspired to have his own estate one day where he would use only the most natural, hands-off methods in the vineyards and winery.  As part of his viticulture-enology degree, Granier got an internship with Olivier Jullien, who was already well known as a staunch defender of natural methods and a pinnacle of winemaking in the Languedoc. An idea took root, and they easily convinced the vignerons to leave the cooperative that had been buying the fruit. After confirming their impressions with trial cuvées over two vintages, Jean-Baptiste and Olivier officially established Les Vignes Oubliées with the 2009 vintage. By 2011 the new project was well off the ground, and Jullien retired from the project to let Granier hold the reins alone.

The high altitude of the Larzac plateau combines with a schist and sandstone soil to give unusually fresh, delicate wines with silky tannins that also have the garrigue aromas and great generosity that are characteristic of the Languedoc.  Jeb Dunnuck, southern France expert at the Wine Advocate, gives you a great snapshot of this gem, “has terrific purity in its black and blue styled fruits, licorice and assorted herb and earthy aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, with solid mid-palate depth and a seamless texture.”  Fantastic with heartier pasta dishes and all manner of red meats.

Cellar Club – August 2016

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August Wine of the Month: Terroir Selections

This month there is no region or seasonality we are focusing on, but rather a small distributor known as Terroir Selections. This Florida-based company shares the same philosophy as Cru when it comes to wine buying. They are boutique-focused and care about the approach and steps it takes to produce quality wine such as organic or biodynamic farming practices, and family owned estates. Cru has dealt with Terroir’s wines before and many of you have loved their selections, so I am proud to dedicate this month’s picks to this unique company.


Raptor Ridge “Shea Vineyard” Pinot Noir

Founded in 1995 by winemaker Scott Shull, Raptor Ridge Winery gets its name from the many families of raptors-red tailed hawks, kestrels, sharp shinned hawks and owls-that share the winery’s 27 acre estate. The estate vineyard is named “Tuscowallame,” the indigenous word for “place where the owls dwell.” It is a fitting name, not only for the raptors that make the vineyard their home, but for those that are released here following rehabilitative treatment by local raptor rescue foundations. The relationship between the winery and the raptors is a symbolic one. As the winery provides a haven for these beautiful creatures, the raptors in turn serve a protectors of the vineyard, aiding the winegrower in the battle against tunneling varmints and migratory birds that damage the vines and eat the ripe grapes at harvest. Raptor Ridge produces only about 7,500 cases of wine each vintage. Uncompromised quality is the focus, not quantity. Scott and Annie consider what they do an honor-working with their hands, providing a product that brings joy, while employing a small, focused of top wine professionals to make it so. From humble beginnings in a converted horse barn behind their home to a state-of-the-art winery on the vineyard property the Shull’s remain grounded in the purposeful production of sincere wines, true to their sides of origin. As for this outstanding single vineyard Pinot Noir from their Shea Vineyard, it is a spicy, energetic, wine with raspberry and cherry scents are complemented by subtle anise and dried rose. Juicy and focused on the palate, offering gently sweet red and dark berry flavors underscored by a smoky, mineral element.


Feraud-Brunel Chateauneauf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is home to the most precious terroir in the Southern Rhone, and its deep-fruited blends based in Grenache backed up by numerous native grapes are famous in the wine world. It’s winemaking practices extend back generations but there are still winemakers starting their own projects in more recent years. Feraud-Brunel began in 1998 with a partnership between two celebrated winemakers: Laurence Feraud of Domaine du Pegau and Andre Brunel of Domaine Les Cailloux. These winemakers are known for highly regarded Chateauneuf-du-Pape at their own estates but through their collaborative label they are able to source old-vine Grenache from the best growers in the region. The wine is laced with musky cherry and red currant aromas, complicated by notes of garrigue, woodsmoke, and pipe tobacco. The mouthfeel offers sappy cherry compote and floral flavors and hint of licorice, and peppery nuance to add lift. Long, resonating finish with noticeable tannins.

Cellar Club – July 2016

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South Africa


Hamilton Russell Chardonnay

One of the most southerly wine Estates in Africa, this Pinot noir and Chardonnay specialist pioneered viticulture in the cool, maritime Hemel-en-Aarde Valley appellation.  This is the first 100{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} organic harvest for the Chardonnay.  The winemaker called 2015, “an excellent vintage for Chardonnay.”

The wine ferments and ages for 9 months in a mix of French oak barrels – mixed toast levels and mixed sizes of barrel.  Yields for the Chardonnay are extremely low, which lends concentration and extract to the finished wine.

A tight, minerally wine with classic Hamilton Russell Vineyards length and complexity. Unusually prominent pear and lime fruit aromas and flavours are brought beautifully into focus by a tight line of bright natural acid and a long, dry minerality. An elegant, yet textured and intense wine with a strong personality of both place and vintage.

94 Points, Wine Spectator, “Rippling with tension, featuring Jonagold apple, white peach, mirabelle plum and honeysuckle notes coiled at the core. Citrus oil– and mineral-edged finish.”



A.A. Badenhorst Family Red Blend 2013

Adi Badenhorst, who gained a reputation as one of South Africa’s most talented winemakers during his years at Rustenberg, began his own label with wines from purchased fruit in 2006, then bought his estate in Swartland in 2007.  The winery is located on a mountain range which is a granite outcrop and three distinctive types of granitic soil are found on the property.

Badenhorst works in a decidedly low-tech, non-interventionist style.  They farm organically whenever possible.  Grapes are never de-stemmed.  Wines ferment in open-top fermenters and rest in a mix of large, used oak foudre and cement tanks.

Neal Martin, from the Wine Advocate, gave the wine 93 Points and described:

The 2013 Family Red Blend consists of 68{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Shiraz, 18{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Grenache, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cinsault and 4{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Tinta Barocca. It has a composed and refined nose, keeping to itself at first but then opening and delivering red plum, wild strawberry, and animally scents mixed with rosemary and oregano. The palate is medium-bodied with a refreshing line of acidity……beautifully controlled, fine tannins and a sense of symmetry and sophistication towards the finish. This comes highly recommended.


Cellar Club – June 2016

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Wines for BBQ Night

With Fourth of July upon us, I wanted to choose wines that would pair well with BBQ foods. When I think burgers and steaks on the grille I want big reds with fruit tannin and whites that have a fuller mid-palate with a backbone of acidity.

Occipinti ‘SP68’ Bianco

Arianna Occhipinti is a star of Sicilian winemaking. She blends indigenous grapes from the island into wonderfully drinkable and powerfully stated wines. Arianna is niece of Giusto Occipinti who has been producing organic, indigenous, fresh wines since the 80’s. She did her first harvest with him when she was sixteen not having a clue about wine but loved it so much she decided to study oenology at University. This quickly proved counter-intuitive, since everything she had learned from her uncle (organic viticulture, hand-harvesting, native yeast fermentations) clashed with what she was being taught in school.

Undeterred, Arianna started making her own wine with just 1 hectare of abandoned vines in the commune of Vittoria. This white blend from the SP68 line is 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Zibibbo and 50{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Albanello, spending 7 days on skins for texture and then finished in concrete tanks. These grapes and the resulting wine are beautifully aromatic with a refreshing, food-friendly acidity and a clean and linear palate. Notes of grape and citrus zest.

Clos i Terrasses ‘Laurel’ Priorat

One could say that Daphne Glorian invented the modern Priorat as we know it and her Laurel is a prime example. Biodynamically farmed 75{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Garnacha, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Syrah, and 5{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Cabernet Sauvignon are blended and aged in French oak tanks, French oak barrels, then clay amphorae over the course of 18 months. The resulting wine is intense with notes of blackberries, cherries, licorice and mint leaves. Like most high-quality Priorat, it can be aged another ten years or drunk straightaway with summer barbecue without regret.

Cellar Club – May 2016

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Weingut Prager Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Hinter der Burg (Wachau, Austria)

Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s indigenous white that is perfect for Spring! Prager has been producing high quality Grüners and dry Rieslings since the early 18th century. Current owner and winemaker Toni Bodenstein produces wines that are known for richness, purity, and clarity. Federspiel signifies a dry wine that is low in alcohol.

Prager’s Grüner Veltliner is a complex mix of citrus, grasses, herbs, white flowers, and an arugula-like peppery streak. There is a significant mineral core to balance the fruity and savory flavors. This wine is a perfect pairing for asparagus (one of the few wines that can) and any number of dishes from tuna tartar to grilled chicken.

Evening Land ‘Celebration’ Gamay (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Gamay, indigenous to Beaujolais in southern Burgundy, takes a star turn here from Oregon. Evening Land is a fantastic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producer to keep an eye on. This is a single vineyard wine (Seven Springs) produced in traditional Beaujolais style: whole-cluster carbonic maceration. This preserves the delicate fresh fruit character for which Gamay is known.
Beautiful, brilliant and intense purple in color with a violet edge, the nose has typical red fruit Gamay character of strawberry and cherry with a hint of fresh cracked pepper. The palate is silky and long with a supple texture that carries the elegant cranberry flavors to a lengthy finish. Chill for 30 minutes before opening for a bright, fresh Spring-time red!

Cellar Club – April 2016

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To The Outback!

April is the month we travel to the fourth largest wine producing region in the world, Australia! The hesitation when buying these wines is understandable when you think of the kangaroo-riddled labels that are most certainly the cause of your worst hangovers but we’re here to change that!! We have hand selected some wines that represent the Cru personality; all natural, hand harvesting, low production, unique, and most importantly the best value.


Brash Higgins ‘GR/M’ Grenache and Mataro

This is as natural as it gets. Biodynamically farmed, the Grenache and Mataro (aka Mourvedre) are fermented together in an open fermenter with wild yeast for six weeks. Eight months in French oak, then it is bottled completely unfined and unfiltered. Very little interacts with these grapes other than the plentiful McLaren Vale sun. The resulting juice is lush, full and earthy. A bit of dusty tannin underlies this unadulterated marriage of Grenache’s fruit and Mataro’s spice.


Jansz Methode Tasmanoise

Tasmania’s first sparkling wine made using the Methode Champenoise, hence their coinage of the term Tasmanoise, the vines that produce this lovely fizz sit within the Pipers River region of the Tamar Valley. Here, the ocean breezes that regulate temperature and the free-draining basalt soils are ideal for world-class sparkling wines. Prepare to open your mind and your palate for top tier bubbly from down under.

Cellar Club – March 2016

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Welcome to the exciting world of Italian wines.  Unlike France or the US, Italy cultivates vines virtually everywhere on the peninsula – from the Alps in the north to Sicily in the south (which is closer to Africa than France!)   Italy’s mountainous geography, especially the Apennine mountains which form a backbone of the peninsula, explains the ubiquity of vines and viticulture.  Grapes love nutrient-poor soils.  High-elevation vineyards create freshness and complexity through slow-ripening and extreme diurnal variations in temperature.  This created tremendous diversity – Italy has over 400 indigenous grape varieties!

The names we all know are synonymous with fine wine the world over: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Chianti.  This month, we are introducing new regions and producers that represent the best of what Italy has to offer outside of those classics.  These wines are quintessential Cru Cellars: family-owned and operated, everything done by hand, organic farm practices when possible, and a strong sense of place (tipicità).


Donnafugata Tancredi Red Blend

This full-bodied red comes to us from southwestern Sicily.  It is a blend of Nero d’Avola (indigenous Sicilian variety known for its dark color, full body, & sweet cherry fruit) and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine ages in wood barrels and vats of varying sizes for 14 months, then rests for another 24 months in bottle.  It is broad shouldered, muscular, and intense – perfect for a grilled steak.



Kellerei Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Notice the German spelling instead of the Italian cantina?  Terlan comes from deep in the Italian Alps, just across the border with Austria.  In fact, locals here speak both languages fluently!  Manual harvesting, whole cluster pressing, fermenting in stainless steel all lead to pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc.  The wines rests on its lees for 5 to 7 months adding texture and seamless body.  Citrus & stone fruits intermix with a solid mineral core and zippy acidity.



Oxford Companion

Wine Advocate

Wine Spectator

New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia

Cellar Club – February 2016

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Focus: United Cellars

Spain has been our main focus this month starting with our Wine Wednesday tasting with Martin, a cool guy who represents some stellar “new” spanish wines, and then our *sold out* Wine Dinner which also features all Spanish wines. Martin’s portfolio is akin to all natural wines that incorporate all organic practices, include funky grape varietals, and mirror a very fresh style which is everything Cru is about. As much as I love these wines I wanted to give our customers a break from all our “weird” wine and highlight the traditional stuff that is also coming out of Spain while maintaining our loyalty to boutique wineries. Romain, the star of this month’s show works for a teeny tiny importer known as United Cellars. The philosophy behind United is to find those limited production, family wineries that are passionate and innovative. Most importantly they want to present one of the things Spain does best….WINE.


Vinícola Real Cueva del Monge Blanco: White Blend

In addition to the world-famous Tempranillo coming out of the region, Rioja also produces some fantastic white wines. This example, from small producer Vinícola Real, is the Chablis of Spain, with its perfect balance between acidity and quality French oak, and is just as drinkable. Sustainably farmed and blended from the three most notable white grapes of the region (70{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Viura, 20{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Malvasia, 10{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} Garnacha Blanca), this wine shows notes of peaches-and-cream, pear, and fresh citrus. Limited to 1,250 cases, enjoy this wine while you can!


Castell D’Encus Quest: Bordeaux Blend

From D.O. Costers Del Segre of Catalonia in the northeast, Castell D’Encus utilizes the region’s intensely diurnal climate (warm days, cold nights) to farm grapes that are maximally complex and fruity, then ferment them in steel, oak, as well as natural stone vats carved out of the side of a mountain. The Quest is their Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, and it’s aged for 18 months in 60{8a779485a35888273496f0b72dc634490a1f8dcc316116b0257b1d61f66eee22} new French oak. This powerful wine has notes of wild berries and smoked paprika with a spicy, dark fruit palate and a long, earthy finish. Castell D’Encus keeps their production very small to deliver only the highest quality, and at only 5,800 bottles this is their smallest production. Lucky you!

Cellar Club – January 2016

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Terry Theise and Michael Skurnik Pre Sale

Believe it or not, these wines were ordered in June 2015! Just when we thought they were NEVER going to arrive, we received and e-mail letting us know they are here! Renowned importer and wine guru Terry Thiese now works with Michael Skurnik to curate some amazing selections from Germany and Austria. This partnership brings some of the most respected winemakers to your front door! One cannot mention Terry Thiese without mentioning his raw wine writing talent. His incredibly poetic style is sure to captivate even the most restrained wine lover. For a great read and to re-inspire your romanticism for wine, check out his book Reading between the Wines.

Bründlmayer Zweigelt Reserve, Kamptal, Austria 2011

Winemaker Willi Bründlmayer was named the best winemaker of the last 25 years by Wine & Spirits Magazine! He uses only organic methods of fertilizing, while cover crops are planted between rows. Multiple harvest sweeps are made through the vineyard each year, to ensure grapes are picked at the height of ripeness. He holds back a tiny portion of the grapes and macerates them for 12 hours. These are used as ‘seasoning’ during the blending process—it adds a completely new dimension to the final wine!

Zweigelt is Austria’s most popular dark-berried grape. It is a cross between Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent accomplished by Dr. Zweigelt in 1922. As expected, you will experience high acid from the Blaufränkisch and elegance from the St. Laurent. Growers in Austria love this varietal because it ripens earlier than Blaufränkisch and buds later than St. Laurent, thus making it a generous yielding grape. The varietal is starting to spread to winemaking regions east, like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. You’ll also start seeing it in British Columbia and Japan!

Bründlmayer Zweigelt is made from the original Zweigelt family vineyards! This is a step back into time at what Dr. Zweigelt tasted when he crossed Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent! You’ll experience sour cherries, berries and plums with spicy aromas. This representation of Zweigelt is fresh and elegant with linear structure. Surprisingly refreshing!

Nigl Brut de Brut Rosé Sekt, Kremstal, Austria 2011

Martin Nigl is a first generation winemaker and began his career as we know it began in 1985. He does, however, come from a farming family with some serious pedigree (for over 200 years). He convinced his family to keep the fruit from their tiny quantity of vines and bottle them himself, rather than selling to the local co-op. The Nigls are sustainable farmers and never use herbicides or insecticides. Cover crops of legumes and herbs are planted around the vines. In the winery, Martin uses stainless steel almost exclusively and never de-stems! He uses only ambient yeast, gravity flow, and never fines. Enjoy this snappy and fresh sparkling rose with compelling notes of rose-hips on your lips!





Bründlmayer Zweigelt Reserve, Kamptal, Austria 2011, 43.99
Nigl Brut de Brut Rosé Sekt, Kremstal, Austria 2011, 33.99