Order Wines: Champagnes and Seductive Reds

Bubbles and warming reds for Valentine's Day

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2009 - Andrew Will

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc
Sorella -- Horse Heaven Hills
USA | Washington | Horse Heaven Hills
1 bottles available

Full Pull: "Sorella, as it always does, comes only from the oldest sections of Champoux Vineyard (Block 1, Block 3, Circle Block), and the average vine age is 33 years, ancient by Washington standards. The elevage is the same as the Champoux: 35% new French oak for just shy of two years. The blend, however, differs: this is much more Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant, at 65% of the blend. Itâ??s rounded out with 23% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. The nose is black, black, black: tar, graphite, and blackberry fruit. The palate is ultra-intense and concentrated, with loads of minerality and structure. Itâ??s massive, a total powerhouse, and of the broad 09 lineup, this is perhaps the one that truly would benefit from some bottle age. A breathtaking example of the power and grace of old-vine Champoux Cabernet."

Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt): 95pts.



Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, & Pinot Meunier
Brut Rose -- Champagne
France | Champagne
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90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The NV Brut Rose emerges from the glass with the essence of freshly cut flowers, berries and minerals in a mid-weight, gracious style. It shows gorgeous inner perfume, along with persistent notes of chalkiness that frame the long, sublime finish. Year in, year out, this estate’s NV Brut Rose is one of the most consistently outstanding wines in the region. "

The Billecart family has been living in Mareuil-sur-Ay since the 16th century. When Nicolas Francois Billecart married Elisabeth Salmon in the early 1800s the two families' long held vineyards were married as well. This led to Nicolas' decision to leave his law practice and take over the family wine estate. In 1818 he founded the house of Billecart-Salmon which now stands as the oldest continuously family owned and operated house in Champagne. It is currently managed by the seventh generation, brothers Francois and Antoine Roland-Billecart. The cellars are in the hands of renowned "chef de cave" Francois Domi.

Billecart-Salmon owns a total of 15 hectares of vineyards. Eleven of these are in the Vallee de la Marne split between 4ha of Grand Cru in Ay and Premier Cru in Mareuil-sur-Ay and 7ha in the village of Damery. In the Cote des Blancs the family owns 4ha of Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Chouilly, Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. In addition, Billecart-Salmon rents 50ha of vineyards across the region and buys fruit from another 100ha worth of vines. In order to best handle the reception of their harvests with minimal handling and travel the family owns 4 press-houses. With respect to harvest one of the most distinctive aspects of Billecart-Salmon is their philosophy that an early harvest yields more elegant and delicate champagnes. They look for a strong acid structure rather than alcohol as a preservative and therefore, never harvest at higher than 10 degrees of potential alcohol.

Another defining characteristic of Billecart-Salmon is their practice of double cold settling which they began in 1952. This involves a primary cold settling of the pressed juice for a period of 12 hours whereby the heaviest of the must solids fall to the bottom. The juice is then racked into clean tanks where it is chilled down to 2C for another 48 hours. This second and much colder settling eliminates any wild yeasts and additional heavy elements without the use of enzymes, filtering or a centrifuge. After the second racking, fermentation is initiated by adding dried yeasts and maintained at a long slow pace for up to 5 weeks in order to preserve as many delicate fruit aromas as possible. One varietal that benefits greatly from this is Pinot Meunier which the Billecarts believe is a vital component in world class champagnes. Many producers shy away from Meunier because it is easy to burn off its delicate aromas during fermentation. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur but may be blocked in certain years if the vintage conditions warrant it. Since 1987 the family has been making a certain percentage of the wines for their vintage cuvee champagnes in barrel. In these instances malolactic fermentation is always blocked.

As of 2001, Billecart-Salmon moved their winemaking into a brand new facility that they believe to be the most technically advanced in Champagne. The intricate and precise nature of Francois Domi's winemaking demanded that the family use every available resource to create the perfect environment for the production of these truly stellar champagnes. The ability to perform as many as 75 micro-fermentations simultaneously allows M. Domi the luxury of keeping many of his parcels separate until the blending phase. Overall, production levels are modest and many of Billecart-Salmon's prestige cuvees are highly allocated. Speak to your salesperson directly for availability.


2010 - Broadside

Cabernet Sauvignon
Margarita Vineyard -- Paso Robles
USA | California | San Luis Obispo County | Paso Robles
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Fresh bramble, graphite and berry-leaf aromas, and a dense pile of tannins to bolster lively black fruit. Let it breathe. An energetic single-vineyard Cabernet with no fat on it that outperforms for its price." (San Franc chronicle). â??Refreshing balance of cherry and bramble fruit that lasts through the finish. Match its chewy tannins with a pork roast.â?? (Wine & Spirits). Natural yeasts. 100% French oak; 3% new. It is97% Cabernet and 3% Petite Verdot. The southern most vineyard in Paso Robles, it is 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean, at an altitude of 1000 feet. Those warm days and cool nights mean intense fruit, with balance and freshness.


2010 - David Duband

Pinot Noir
Cote de Nuits Villages
France | Burgundy | Cote de Nuits
17 bottles available

from importer: David Duband has been gradually been making a name for himself as part of the new generation of high quality red wine producers in the Cote de Nuits. Considering his family was based in Hautes Cotes de Nuits (in the town of Chavannes, where his domaine is still located) and he now owns multiple Grand Cru sites including Echezeaux and Charmes-Chambertin, it is fair to say he has been doing a very good job.

Since his first vintage in 1991 (when he was still a student!), David's wines have improved every year, and he has been working to increase the domaine's holdings. Now practicing 100% organic farming, he has also begun to use more whole cluster fermentation, averaging 30% in 2009. Whereas his first few vintages were oak-driven, he strives today to make more elegant wines that express their place of origin and his 2009 vintage is a perfect example of his success: ripe fruit but still balanced and clear.

89-90 points Wine Advocate: "The 2010 Cote de Nuits Villages shows lovely fleshiness and mid-palate pliancy in its expressive dark red fruit. This supple Burgundy is best enjoyed while the fruit retains its juiciness. "

Vineyards are located in Brochon next to Gevrey-Chambertin.


2009 - Domaine Dominique Mugneret

Pinot Noir
Bourgogne Hautes Cote de Nuits
France | Burgundy
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Delicious. Truly good value for this price and quality.

Dominique's vineyards in the Hautes-Cotes are located close to Vosne Romanee. These are incredibly balanced wines, with dark fruits of black cherries, plums, and black raspberries.

These vineyards are a little higher where there is a good wind and cooler temperatures at night, providing excellent growing conditions. It also allows these grapes to stay on the vines longer, hence the riper style Burgundy. It also gives these wines great complexity with an almost savory thread. Fruit, earth, and spice on the palate.


2010 - Domaine La Monardiere

Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre
Vieilles Vignes -- Vacqueyras
France | Rhone | Southern Rhone | Vacqueyras
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2009 - Domaine Michel Magnien

Pinot Noir
Seuvrees - Vieilles Vignes -- Gevrey-Chambertin
France | Burgundy | Cote de Nuits | Gevrey-Chambertin
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"A slightly riper nose is the essence of a red pinot fruit liqueur nuanced with subtle earth and smoke aromas that precede very round and mouth coating middle weight flavors that brim with ample amounts of dry extract, all wrapped in a firm finish that mixes youthful austerity with a trace of natural sweetness. A high-quality villages that is worth considering." Burghound 89-91 points


2009 - Elizabeth Spencer

Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley
USA | California | Napa Valley
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Elizabeth Pressler and Spencer Graham source fruit from a handful of dedicated growers and a dozen vineyard blocks. "Our growers provide us with continuity of high quality fruit, and we pay them fairly and reliably, in vintages of scarcity and excess". In an era of corporate grape contracts, their long-term agreements consist simply of mutual high regard and a handshake.

97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. Cassis, cigar box, and earth along with a whiff of incense and black pepper. Baked black plums, bing cherries, and earth. Pure flavors, ample body, good acidity make for a beautifully balanced wine.


2006 - Geoffroy

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Volupte -- Champagne
France | Champagne
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The Geoffroy family have been growers since the 17th century and is now run by father and son Rene and Jean-Baptiste. The Cuvee Volupte is considered to be one of the best values in all of Champagne, year after year. The family has 13 hectares of vineyards situated on clay, clay-limestone, and clay-flint soils, and produce 10,800 cases annually. Cuvee Volupte is a Tete de Cuvee, made from 100% Chardonnay, sourced from 3 single vineyards, 'Les Chenes, 'La Montagne' and 'Tourn-Midi'. The steep slopes of Tourn-Midi allow grapes to get more sunshine and more ripeness, resulting a rich, full-bodied wine with precision and grace. Hay and woodsy scents, flavors of honey and ginger, minerality to take you through the refined finish.

93 points Stephen Tanzer/ IWC: Pale yellow. Racy, mineral-accented aromas of citrus and orchard fruits, plus a suave touch of toasty lees. Bitter citrus pith and pear skin flavors give way to softer pit fruits in the mid-palate, with chalky minerality adding spine and cut. Packs a serious punch but comes off as lithe and focused. Finishes with excellent clarity and stony persistence, leaving a dusty mineral note behind. - Josh Raynolds



Pinot Noir
Rose de Saignee Brut -- Champagne
France | Champagne
6 bottles available

Geoffroy is one of the few houses that still makes its Champagne Rosé by the saignée method during the maceration of the Pinot Noir grapes.

The nose provides a range of aromas from roses, to wild strawberries and raspberries, and some cherries too. On the palate, this champagne is charming and concentrated at the same time, exceptionally balanced, and silky. The finish is, in a word, sumptuous. Incredibly elegant.

This is a great food wine. Try with seafood dishes like scallops or a rich lobster dish.

94 points Wine Advocate: "The NV Brut Rose de Saignee Premier Cru, tasted from magnum, is cool, mineral and reserved, with tons of power to burn. This really needs another 6-12 months on the cork to recover from its relatively recent disgorgement, but is a jewel of a wine. The current release of the Rose de Saignee Premier Cru is 100% 2008 juice, although the wine can't be labeled as such since it didn't spend the required three years on its lees. No matter, the wine shows tons of 2008 vintage character along with a compelling, irresistible personality. Disgorged March, 2010. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020."

92 points Stephen Tanzer: "Medium pink. Pungent cherry and dark berry aromas are complemented by dried flowers and anise. Weighty red and dark fruit flavors show palate-coating depth and very good clarity, with a hint of bitter chocolate and a strong cherry quality on the back end. Serious stuff, and in need of rich food: I'd serve it alongside grilled or roasted duck, even lamb!"


"Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Ben Franklin