News & Events
August 02, 2018
FEATURED: Cream's 10th Annual Warehouse Tasting & Sale
“If you build it, they will come.”
In 2009, we got bored of the typical wine prom and thought, “What if we did a no fuss, zero pretense, end of summer tasting and sale/fall preview at our Pilsen warehouse…a buyer’s tasting…and grilled meat too?” It was a gamble the first year because we worried customers wouldn’t make the trek to Pilsen. But they did. The feedback was quite positive, so we thought we’d host another in 2010, 2011, 2012… Now we can’t believe 2018 will be our 10th Warehouse Tasting & Sale!
The event has turned into our biggest, best attended, most successful, and absolutely favorite tasting of the year. And we couldn’t have done it without your support, loyalty, business and willingness to 1) travel to Pilsen, 2) try new and unknown producers from emerging categories and regions. We appreciate the community and love. It is a pleasure to open our warehouse and NEW office doors for libation discovery and pleasure while kicking off another successful fall selling season. This October will mark our 17th year of business. Time to celebrate!
Expectations for this Proverbial Tetrahedron of Fermentation, Distillation, and Celebration
PRODUCT: Pallets and tables are placed in the aisles and topped with open bottles for you to self serve, access, rinse and repeat. Discover a thoughtful selection of over 400 wines, spirits, sake, cider and beer—all available for purchase. Explore the many new releases as we’ve been busy curating! This is a fantastic buying opportunity as well as epic beverage experience in general.
Buyers are welcome to request anything not already being shown to be opened and shared with attendees. You see it, we’ll pop it. That’s the situation. Those picks will make it to a communal table along with some other goodies should the vibe move us.
SALE: Yes, many items will be discounted, and there will be some crazy clearance prices that we urge you to take full advantage of before the busy 4th quarter. Best to come early to get the max for the min so to speak. Help clear out the warehouse, so we can fill it back up!
TUNES: The event would not be complete without the talented and local DJ LA Jesus bringing good sound vibes.
BBQ: Chef Camille Martinez & Chef Michelle Garde, per usual, are planning a delicious menu inclusive of the mouthwatering sausages from Jasper Meats. #encasedmeats
ORDERS: Our customer service and sales team will be on hand to guide customers, process orders and look up real time inventory as the sale heats up. Any special pricing is available only to those who attend the event. We may extend special pricing on some remaining stock to the rest of the trade, but cannot guarantee supply as many of the insane deals will sell out that day.
Blake Murdock, The Rare Wine Co. Managing Director
John Paine, Rosenthal Wine Merchant Regional Sales Manager
The Rare Wine Co. & Rosenthal Wine Merchant are two of America’s most respected wine importers. Specializing in European wines, their portfolios include some of the world’s greatest producers. When you find their label on the back, you know you’ve picked a good bottle. Currently, we are one of three distributors in America to work with both portfolios. Wow and what an honor! How we convinced both Blake and John to attend this year, we have no clue! But we’re ecstatic to have these two passionate and knowledgeable professionals to man their respective tables. Iconic producers will be popped. Minds will be blown. Taste buds will be delighted…you get the idea.
Juan Pablo Michelini, Zorzal Owner & Winemaker
Zorzal is a young winery making huge waves of grape juice in Argentina! The Michelini brothers (Gerardo, Matias, and Juan Pablo (the winemaker)) and a group of Canadian investors started it in 2007. The winery and vineyards are located in the subregion of the Uco Valley called Gualtallary. You may have heard of Gualtallary as its combination of cold weather and chalky soils is producing some of the best wines—red & white—in Mendoza. People are taking notice! Located at approximately 4,500 feet above sea level, Zorzal is the highest winery in Mendoza. This winery has received great praise since its inception. Other projects by the brothers that we carry include SuperUco, Gen del Alma, and Via Revolucionaria.
“Their passion and commitment, their spirituality and, for want of a better word, “purity” in terms of doing what they do for the love of it rather than financial reward, bought to mind the Lopez de Heredia sisters in Rioja. If you want cutting edge, meticulously crafted Argentinean wines hot footed from one of the most exciting sub-regions (Gualtallary), then look no further than Zorzal” - Wine Advocate 2012
As many of you already know, our dear friend, long time partner and California wine Titan, Koerner Rombauer passed away on May 10, 2018 at the ripe old age of 83.
Koerner leaves us with a strong family, enormous group of friends around the world, and a tremendously impactful, successful personal and professional legacy that will no doubt continue on for generations. Over the past weeks there have been many stories and moments remembered and shared by the Cream Team, our customers, and Rombauer drinkers. Thank you for the kind words, thoughts, prayers and positive energy for the Rombauer family.
Cream and Rombauer have worked together in Illinois since our inception. We certainly could not have grown and evolved the way we have over 16+ years without this iconic, cornerstone producer in our portfolio. Always the risk taker, Koerner took a shot on our start up representing his family winery in a tumultuous big liquor market, just weeks after 9/11/2001. The rest, as they say, is history.
Thank you Koerner for all you have done for Napa Valley and American wine as well as your strong sense of family, ethics and philanthropy. Thank you for all you have done for Cream, our customers and the Illinois wine community. We raise a glass in your honor and hope you enjoy the view from your flight.
Cheers, The Cream Team
February 08, 2018
FEATURED: We've Got Sotol!
What is sotol? Sotol is a distilled spirits made from a plant that was once thought to be an agave; in those days it was referred to as a mezcal. Sotol is made from the Dasylirion plant a.k.a Desert Spoon, a.k.a Sotol. There are 16 varieties of Dasylirion. The plant is found throughout Mexico, but the Denomination of Origen for sotol dictates that to be labeled a sotol it must come from 1 of 3 states: Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango.
La Higuera: The three sotols by La Higuera are produced in a traditional method in Aldama, Chihuahua. Master Distiller Gerardo Ruelas cooks the different varieties in an outside, conical oven fired by wood and rocks. The Dasylirion varieties are milled by hand with axes. Fermentation occurs with wild yeast in 1,000-liter pine vats. The sotols are double distilled in copper alembic stills.
Log into creamwine.com to see pricing.
Sotol La Higuera Wheeleri, Chihuahua: The La Higuera Wheeleri Sotol has a rounded balance of smoked herbs and fruit. The palate mimics the herbal nose and shows hints of pineapple.
Sotol La Higuera Cedrosanum, Chihuahua: The La Higuera Cedrosanum Sotol has mineral and caramel notes on the nose. Smoked grass and cedar show on the palate. The finish is dry, and the texture has a near perfect balance.
Sotol La Higuera Leiophyllum, Chihuahua: The La Higuera Leiophyllum Sotol has notes of wet soil and ash. The palate is meaty with notes of salami. The finish gets fruity with notes of peaches and bananas.
Want to learn more about agave spirits? This is a great resource article.
Photos from La Higuera instagram
December 15, 2017
Vinous Fizz - Delicious Praise for Aurélien Laherte
Aurélien Laherte is a young vigneron who took control of his family’s estate, Champagne Laherte Frères, in 2007. Under his direction, Laherte Frères has become one of the most progressive and dynamic producers in the region.
Don’t believe us?
As a wine critic and owner of Vinous, Antonio Galloni tastes thousands of bottles of wine a year. So the magnitude of writing in his recent article Champagne: 2017 New Releases, “His Blanc de Blancs is one of the most memorable wines I tasted this year,” is huge! He finishes with, “Aurélien Laherte is one of the hottest growers in Champagne today.”
The future is bright for Aurélien Laherte. We’re thrilled to be importing his wines to Illinois.
95pts - Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs: “A Champagne of extraordinary finesse, the NV Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs is positively stunning. Smoke, slate, crushed rocks, lemon peel and white flowers are beautifully sculpted. Crystalline and taut, yet with remarkable resonance, the Blanc de Blancs is totally alluring from the very first taste. The current release is 50% 2015 and 50% a blend of 2014 and 2013 from vineyards in both the southern sector of Epernay and the Côte des Blancs. Disgorged: April 2017 with no dosage.”
94pts - Extra Brut Vignes d’Autrefois 2013: “Another stellar wine in the range, the 2013 Extra Brut Vignes d’Autrefois is 100% Meunier from parcels planted with a massale selection in 1947 and 1953. The old vines confer remarkable depth, texture and nuance while also preserving a good bit of detail. What a gorgeous wine this is. Disgorged: February 2017. Dosage is 2-4 grams per liter.”
92pts - Brut Ultradition: “The NV Brut Ultradition is the same base wine as the Extra Brut Ultradition. Here the higher dosage seems to give the wine greater fleshiness and immediacy, while changing the wine’s shape. Some of the mid-palate creaminess seems to have been achieved at the expense of a bit of persistence. Disgorged: November 2016. Dosage is 6-8 grams per liter.”
92pts - Extra Brut Les 7: “Laherte’s NV Extra Brut Les 7 emerges from a parcel in Chavot planted with all seven permitted varieties. Intensely perfumed and bright, Les 7 showcases striking interplay of aromas, flavors and textures. Citrus, white orchard fruit and sweet, perfumed overtones all develop in the glass. The current release is based on 2014, with 40% reserve wines from a perpetual reserve that spans vintages 2005 through 2013. Disgorged: February 2017. Dosage is 0-4 grams per liter.”
92pts - Rose de Meunier: “Tense and crystalline in the glass, the NV Rosé de Meunier is another wine in this range that is bursting at the seams with personality. This release is equal parts 2014 and 2013 vintages and is a blend of mostly Meunier vinified white, with 30% macerated juice and 10% still red wine. The low dosage of 2.5 grams per liter lends a perceptible feeling of austerity. At times, a slightly vegetal (but not unpleasant) element comes through. I would prefer to drink this over the next few years. There will be plenty to admire over that time. Disgorged: April 2017. Dosage is 2 grams per liter.”
95pts - Extra Brut VV Rose de Saignee Les Beaudiers (2013): “The NV (2013) Extra Brut VV Rosé de Saignée Les Beaudiers is mostly Meunier (a few other varieties are interplanted) from vines that were planted on 1965, 1958 and 1953. The natural richness of the old vines confers unreal depth and voluptuousness. Readers should expect a powerful, broad Champagne. In this tasting, the Beaudiers is stunning. Disgorged: July 2016. Dosage is 3 grams per liter.”
88pts - Extra Brut Les Empreintes 2011: “The 2011 Extra Brut Les Empreintes is delicate, nuanced and understated. The savory, vegetal quality of the vintage is impossible to fully escape, as is the wine’s slender construction slightly grainy feel. I would prefer to drink the 2011 sooner rather than later. Overall, this is reasonably successful wine for the year. Disgorged: February 2016. Dosage is 4 grams per liter.”
November 21, 2017
Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2017
We love when our winery partners get the praise they deserve. This year we represent five wines on the list!
#7 Domaine Huet 2016 Vouvray Demi-Sec, Le Mont “A star of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, Domaine Huët was founded in 1928; the Hwang family bought it from the Huëts in 2003. The domaine was one of the early proponents of biodynamics in the region, converting in 1990. The estate mainly comprises three vineyards: Le Haut-Lieu, Le Mont and Clos du Bourg. The distinct terroir of Le Mont, with its clay and silex soils, yields fresh, minerally wines. The demi-sec has 20 grams per liter of residual sugar, and winemaker Jean-Bernard Berthomé ages the wine half in demi-muid and half in stainless-steel tanks for six months.”
#10 Booker 2014 ‘Oublie’ Rhone Blend, Paso Robles “In 2000, Eric Jensen gave up a high-powered career as a broker and concert promoter in Southern California to farm grapes and make wine in rural Paso Robles. He obviously knew what he was doing: his wines are among the best in the region. Farmed biodynamically, Jensen’s 45 acres of vineyards are planted almost exclusively to Rhône varieties atop steep hillsides with limestone soil. A blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise, Oublié is Jensen’s ode to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He fermented the 2014 in stainless steel and half the blend was aged from six to 12 months in used French oak barrels.”
#12 Bedrock 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel, California “Rich and supple, this is an explosion of pure, decadent fruit. Floral huckleberry and Chinese five-spice powder aromas open to layered blackberry, dark chocolate and licorice flavors that linger.”
#22 Saxum 2014 James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles “A dramatic wine that weds power and opulence, maintaining impeccable balance along the way. Brooding dark berry and loamy mineral aromas lead to rich flavors of currant, licorice, dried sage and smoky pepper. Ripe tannins frame the finish. Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise and Roussanne. Best from 2018 through 2028.”
#85 Raventos 2013 ‘De La Finca’ Conca del Riu Anoia “A minerally version, with up-front petrol and spice notes lacing the poached cherry, salted almond and lemon peel flavors that ride the delicate mousse. Elegant and harmonious. Disgorged February 2017.”
November 03, 2017
Paso Robles Scores Big
In the recent Vinous article “Paso Robles Copes, Adapts and Evolves” Josh Raynolds writes, “Readers who follow the Paso Robles wine scene hardly need to be reminded that the region, which is historically dry in the first place, suffered through a long-term drought that drastically curtailed production in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. That has not stopped quality from surging to new highs.” His reviews for three of our producers greatly reflect this sentiment as Linne Calodo, Saxum and Villa Creek all score big!
Below are the producer excerpts from the article along with their scores.
“Matt Trevisan told me that he made about 40% of his “normal” production in 2015, adding that 2016 saw a welcome uptick of crop but that he wonders if the standard for ‘what defines a normal yield needs to be adjusted’ given how many short crops Paso Robles has suffered through in recent years. Here’s another winemaker whose wines has evolved toward a more elegant style over the last decade. The winery now houses an intriguing array of concrete tanks and wooden vats of varying size and shape, ‘which keeps the mind active’ Trevisan said. While Trevisan is by no means an old man, he’s definitely an old-timer in the context of Paso Robles’ west side producers, having launched Linne Calodo in 1998, with his wife, Maureen. They source fruit from some of the region’s top growers and they also have 20 acres of their own estate vines, split into 20 different parcels, to work with.”
- Sticks & Stones 2015 - 93pts
- Rising Tides 2015 - 95pts
- Overthinker 2014 - 94pts
- In My Dreams 2014 - 94pts (not yet released)
- Perfectionist 2014 - 95pts
- Problem Child 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
- Outsider 2015 - 95pts (2013 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
- Cherry Red 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
“Justin Smith, whose wines have probably brought more attention to Paso Robles than any others, is also one of the most respected growers in the region. The vineyards he farms, both his own and those of a handful of selected clients, are well worth visiting if one can finagle an appointment. The key to success in a hot dry year like 2015, and in every vintage in the area, he says, ‘is to be willing to drop fruit that’s raisined and suck up the loss, even when it’s a short year.’ Smith’s 2015s were standouts in my tastings during my July visit and also back in the office in October, when I had the chance to re-visit those wines which were still awaiting bottling in the summer. They’re going to be long-lived wines based on their sheer concentration, I’m sure, and if you can’t resist trying them now by all means give them a lot of air!”
- Paderewski Vineyard 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
- Paderewski Vineyard 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)
- Terry Hoage Vineyard 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
- Terry Hoage Vineyard 2015 - 96pts (not yet released)
- Booker Vineyard 2014 - 94pts (sold out)
- Broken Stones 2014 - 95pts (sold out)
- Broken Stones 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)
- Bone Rock 2015 - (95-96)pts (not yet released)
- Rocket Block 2015 - (96-97)pts (not yet released)
- James Berry Vineyard 2015 - 97pts (not yet released)
- Heart Stone Vineyard 205 - 96pts (not yet released)
- G2 Vineyard 2015 - 96pts (not yet released)
“The biggest challenge in the recent drought years is ‘obviously, getting as much finesse out of such concentrated fruit’, Cris Cherry told me. But that’s always a concern in a hot region, he added, noting that he thinks that raising his wines in large format, low-impact vessels, especially concrete tanks, allows for slower and gentler extraction and more delicate character in the final wines. In addition, he has been upping his use of whole clusters, ‘when it’s appropriate’, in an effort to impart greater aromatic complexity and spiciness to his wines. There’s no question that recent vintages here have seen a steady rise in quality as well as energy and I’d confidently place this winery among the upper tier of the Central Coast. Of particular interest to Cherry these days is working with his new, estate-grown Clairette, the southern Rhône variety that’s the backbone of many of the best examples of Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc. Look for interesting things to happen here soon as his vines come further into maturity. By the way, this summer Cherry closed his ever-popular and excellent Villa Creek restaurant, which was a long-time haunt for visitors to the region, as he wants to devote all of his energy to his vineyard and winery.”
- White 2016 - 93pts (2015 in stock, 2016 not yet released)
- Garnacha 2015 - 93pts (2014 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
- Avenger 2015 - 95pts (2014 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
- Willow Creek Cuvee 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
- High Road, James Berry Vineyard 2015 - 94pts (2013 in stock, 2015 not yet released)
- Syrah Slide HIll 2015 - 94pts (not yet released)
- Luna Mata 2015 - 95pts (not yet released)
November 01, 2017
FEATURED: Wyncroft = Dialogue Change
Jim Lester and Daun Page are changing people’s perception of Michigan wine. For too long, the dialogue around the great wine regions of the world has skipped over Michigan. Revelations come from tasting, and Wyncroft’s wines prove that Southwest Michigan has a great and wonderful, yet undiscovered, wine potential. The husband and wife team are producing profound wines with a French sensibility. We’re proud to tell their narrative and break all preconceived notions of Michigan wine.
Many people are misguided about Michigan’s vine growing potential. Michigan has a prosperous history of producing peaches, cherries, apples and Concord grapes—all clues that vinifera grapes would thrive as well.
Wyncroft owns vineyards within two distinct Michigan AVAs: Lake Michigan Shore and Fennville. Both of these AVAs are located in the glacial moraine hills of Southwest Michigan. The mineral rich, stony clay soils left by the glaciers of the last ice age are similar to the soils of the best sites in Europe. These stony clay soils are found in a ridge of hills just 5 to 10 miles from the lakeshore. The high ground provides excellent sun exposure, while the low areas give excellent air drainage on frosty spring mornings. The proximity to Lake Michigan creates a “lake effect” microclimate that moderates winter lows and summer highs, while the abundant lake effect snow insulates the vines against the extremes of Michigan winters.
Up north in the Traverse City area, it is cool; thus producers make wines reminiscent of Germany and Champagne. Southwest Michigan sees more warmth. Wyncroft’s latitude, 42nd parallel, is the same as the Pyrenees Mountains of Northern Spain and Rome, Italy. Going west, it is the border of Oregon and California. The vineyards receive an average of 3,000 heat units per growing season. Compare that to Bordeaux at 2700, Burgundy at 2400, Alsace at 2210, and Russian River Valley at 3600. The growing season is longer than Bordeaux or Burgundy with more heat unit accumulation. This makes Michigan a more reliable area for attaining full ripeness. Also, being more northern than California, excellent acidity is retained in the grapes over the long growing season.
WASHINGTON TO MICHIGAN; GOD TO GRAPES
Jim Lester is one of the pioneers of Michigan wine. The Seattle native relocated with his late wife Rae Lee to Michigan in 1976 to pursue a Master’s of Divinity degree at Andrews University after graduating from Walla Walla College. The two got into wine because of their passion for cooking, as they wanted to know how to pair wine with food. This led Jim to start making wine as a basement hobby in 1983. His first Pinot Noir stunned him. As a self-taught winemaker, he knew it wasn’t his winemaking know-how. The quality of fruit grown in the region had to be the key for success. It was his a-ha moment that world-class wines could be made in Southwest Michigan.
With that simple discovery, Lester decided to change his career path and devote his professional life to making 100% Michigan wines. From 1986-1994 he produced wine under the Madron Lake Hills name. Jim and Rae Lee established Wyncroft in 1998 when there were only about 19 total wineries in the whole state of Michigan. They launched the winery in Buchanan, a town located about 10 miles east of Lake Michigan and just 4 miles from the Indiana border. The two worked tirelessly and passionately to grow their boutique winery via mailing list and self-distribution until Rae Lee passed away in 2009 after battling breast cancer.
Lester remarried to Daun Page, who has become integral to Wyncroft’s story and success. Together, they operate in the style of a French garagiste winery. In 2013, they purchased a picturesque, 100-acre estate in Pullman, within the Fennville AVA. Their garage became their winery and approximately 5.5 acres of vineyards were planted on the estate. Production is still extremely small, less than 2,000 cases annually. The wine labels, modeled after the Arts and Crafts movement, communicate their philosophy. Both the vineyard and cellar work are done by hand with extreme care and attention to detail. True vignerons, they conscientiously farm their vineyards to produce low yields of intense concentration. The wines are estate bottled with the labels applied by hand at the winery.
With Jim, Rae Lee, and now Daun’s devotion, Wyncroft has amassed a cult following by focusing exclusively on European grape varieties and techniques. Saying these wines are “impressive for Michigan” is a true understatement. The wines rival those from the great wine regions of the world, hence why it is time to rethink the Michigan terroir.
August 14, 2017
NEBBIOL - CAN
Ian d’Agata recently published a Vinous article titled 2016: A Very Good Year for Italy’s Many Rosatos. Ian reviewed the Sperino Rosa del Rosa but, to a surprise, listed their 2014 vintage. (What happened to the bit about 2016s?)
However, Ian did have this to say: “A recent exciting development in Italy is the emergence of many rosato wines made from Nebbiolo. The greatness of this grape variety apparently knows no limits: it can deliver uncommonly good pink wines (in the hands of talented producers, at least) as well as world-famous reds. Look for many of the stellar rosato now being made in the Langhe as well as in northeastern Piedmont, the home of up-and-coming Boca, Lessona, Gattinara and Lessona. These Nebbiolo and Nebbiolo-based pink wines are light- to medium-bodied and intensely perfumed, often with a bright mineral overlay to their juicy red berry and sour red cherry aromas and flavors.”
Ian, we believe you! We don’t say “Nebbiol - NO” but instead shout “Nebbiol - CAN” to Piedmont rosatos!
We’ve long sold out of the 2014 Rosa del Rosa, but have a wonderful supply of the 2016 in stock and ready to rock. The. Wine. Is. Delicious. With or without food, you’ll enjoy a complexity of flowers, herbs, minerals, and red fruit (some orange). The rounded fruit on the palate finely balances the acidity.
Lessona is a village situated in the Alpine foothills in Northern Piedmont. The ancient, sandy soils of marine origin in this area are ideal for the production of Nebbiolo-based wines, famous for their perfumes, elegant mineral qualities and longevity.
With that said…
Sperino’s 2012 Lessona is 100% “Nebbiol - CAN.” It is a stunning example of the magic of the Alto Piemonte Nebbiolo. Slightly chilled and just opened, the wine has a pretty nose of red fruit, flowers, rose petal, minerals and stone. It has a weightless elegance. After about 10-15 minutes, whilst warming up in the glass, the complexity of the wine shines with a new set of aromas exuding from the glass: herbs like rosemary and thyme, darker red fruits, some plum, savory earth components and more. It is a wine you could smell for 30 or so minutes before ever thinking to sip. Once in the mouth, the wine shows refined tannins. There is some grip when it opens up. The flavors mimic the nose; they are complex and abundant. This wine will has a long life ahead of it.
June 08, 2017
These brothers are making deliciously complex, minimally made, organic Beaujolais wines that have gained enthusiastic praise from peers and press alike, accrediting them as some of the newest stars of the region. Lucky for us as we happen to direct import them both!
Jamie Goode’s Wineanorak.com 6/2016
“Since I first tried his wines a couple of years ago, Julien Sunier (above) had been on my hit-list of must-see Bojo producers. And then, a while later, I tried the wines from his brother, Antoine Sunier (below). These were different, but also compelling… The Sunier brothers with their brave organic approach, coming here without money behind them, but forging their own identity, is surely the future for the region. They are tremendous fun, too.”
Wine Advocate by Neal Martin 6/2016
“Julien Sunier seems to be one of the main drivers for the revolution that is sweeping through Beaujolais at the moment. He is an outgoing and outspoken winemaker, even predisposed to criticize his fellow vignerons’ wines when I was tasting them at his winery high up on the hills in northern Beaujolais. If he ever tires of making wine he would make a fine if formidable wine critic.”
Vinous by Josh Raynolds 8/2016
“Antoine Sunier, a native of Dijon, is the younger brother of Julien Sunier, who is one of the region’s ascendant stars, and these 2014s represent his inaugural vintage. It’s a pretty impressive debut, for sure. Antoine studied at the viticulture school in Beaune and followed up by working with Jean-Paul Lapalu, one of the most highly regarded winemakers in Beaujolais, before setting up his own estate. The wines are made by carbonic maceration followed by aging in small, used wooden barrels, with no sulfur applied until bottling. The purity and energy of these wines will thrill fans of Antoine’s brother’s work, as well as any fan of Beaujolais in the vibrant mode.”
While brothers, the Suniers’ wines do differ: 2015 Régnié Tasting (5/25/2017) Julien’s 2015 Régnié is a bit more restrained and masculine than Antoine’s Régnié. Red fruit mixes with mushroom and earth. Minerals with hints of peppery spice also develop over a meaty background. This wine shows dry tannins defined nicely by crisp acidity.
Antoine’s 2015 Régnié is fruitier/fresher in the sense that it is juicy on the palate (think sour apple juiciness). One still gets the mushroom notes, but there are also cranberry, raspberry, and plum flavors. The tannins do not seem as drying as Julien’s wine.
Both are compelling expressions that can be poured BTG!
What do we want? GAMAY!
When do we want it? NOW!
How do we want it? BTG!
The wines were tasted while a bowl of dark chocolate covered raisins and almonds sat a few inches away. Unable to resist, surprisingly, the wines and chocolates went superb together! Recommended.
May 30, 2017
Two Gins, Two Whiskeys
Ransom Old Tom Gin started the Cream spirits portfolio back in 2008.
At the time the gin was presented, we had been partners with Tad Seestedt for several years selling his Oregon wines in Chicago. The new gin was damn good and unique (the only Old Tom, barrel aged gin on the market). We took a leap of faith with Tad, bought the gin, and started a spirits portfolio.
Today, Tad makes more than just the Old Tom. Here is a closer look at his two gins and two whiskeys.
Ransom Old Tom Gin: This is an American classic. Ransom’s Old Tom Gin was the first Old Tom gin to be made in the US since WWII. Six botanicals and a distillate made from barley and corn combine to make this the most balanced and subtle Old Tom gin available. Aged 10 months in neutral 60-gallon barrels, the color is that of brown onion skin, the nose is a lift of juniper and citrus with baking spices and baked Russian tea cake cookies. The mouthfeel is subtle and soothing with gentle flavors. Sandalwood and rose petals intermingle with finishing touches of orange zest, juniper and herbs.
Ransom Dry Gin: Only the “heart of the hearts” (the very best portion of distillate) is retained for this special gin. Fashioned after Holland’s renowned malt wine genevers, Ransom Dry Gin combines the maltiness and hop aromas of the style with a decidedly more intense botanical infusion. Oats, white flowers and an array of spices that hint at the botanical infusion (anise, coriander, juniper, cardamom) show on the nose. The palate is supple and silky, engulfing the mouth with flavors of citrus and spice. The texture is incredible with roundness rather than dryness on the finish. Subtle flavors pleasantly linger on the tongue long after the sip. This is definitely a gin one can drink neat as well as mix to make cocktails.
Ransom Rye, Barley, Wheat Whiskey: This is an incredibly unique whiskey. Home grown six-row barley is combined with malted and unmalted rye, barley and wheat to make the mash. The nose is malty and cereal oriented with herbal undertones and hints of violets. The palate is broad and oriented towards an expression of cereal that is gripping and nearly tannin oriented. A tantalizing briny quality hints in the front and leads to soft fruit flavors of bananas and red apples with a long finish of grain and flint. This is one of the most captivating releases of Ransom’s history.
Ransom The Emerald 1865 American Whiskey: From an 1865 mash bill of a 19th century Irish whiskey, double distilled, the Emerald has sweet honeycomb and oatmeal all over the nose. Wrapped up with hints of celery salt and quince on the nose, the palate follows with rich oat, hints of honey on corn bread, herbs and an incredibly silky feel that coats the mouth and lingers for minutes.