News & Events
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.
May 08, 2017
FEATURED: 257 Years
Hold out your glasses Cream customers as we are now serving you 257 years of Champagne history and expertise! Bring out the Champagne Lanson!
Founded 16 years before our very own country, Champagne Lanson is one of the oldest, family-run Champagne houses. Over the years, the winemakers behind this famous label have carefully perfected their art, passing down the secrets of their craft from one generation to the next. Today’s owners, Philippe Baijot with his son Enguerrand Baijot (Sales Director), have invested in Lanson’s infrastructure while adhering to the unique history and style of the house. The quality has never been better.
VINES: Negociant Or Grower
While technically a negociant, Champange Lanson owns a fair amount of vines—125 hectares of vines to be exact. This land makes up 1/3 of their production needs. Did you know that not every Grandes Marques owns vineyard land? Owning land is favorable as it allows for better quality control year after year.
Included in the 125 hectares is the prestigious Clos Lanson, which dates back to the 18th century and is the only remaining vineyard within the walled city of Reims. Clos Lanson is a one-hectare plot of Chardonnay that sits above the Lanson cellar (House of Lanson is located in central Reims). The land is farmed organically.
The remaining grapes are carefully selected from over 400 hectares of vines located in the best Champagne crus. More than 50% of all the grapes come from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages.
WINEMAKING: Reserves Bring Depth
As you know, champagne is about the art of blending. Lanson has 400 tanks in the cellar. Each tank represents a different wine to use for blending! Large oak casks are used to age the reserve wines. The micro-oxygenation brought by the wood allows for rounder and richer wines. Very rare in Champagne, Lanson uses a minimum of 30% reserve wines from at least 10 different harvests in their NV blends! Not only that, but roughly 50% of Grand Cru and Premier Cru wine is going into the NV blends. The resulting depth and complexity is remarkable. Also helping depth is the length of aging. The NV wines are aged for a minimum of three years before bottle aging. This is a lot longer than the law requires (15 months).
STYLE: Freshness & Energy
For over 250 years, Champagne Lanson has made wines without malolactic fermentation. This decision is key to the unique Lanson Style. It also places Lanson in a select category of few Champagne houses (Krug, Gosset, Salon to name a few). Lactic acid gives a yeasty, buttery brioche flavor on the palate. By excluding malolactic fermentation, the wine keeps its natural, mouth-watering flavors and freshness. Wines are cleaner, richer and fruiter with an outstanding aging ability.
FUN FACT: The Brits Adore Lanson
The Champagne house has a long history with England. Queen Victoria awarded a Royal Warrant to Lanson in 1900; this made it an official supplier to the Court of England. Champagne Lanson was the first Champagne house to be awarded the honor. As the official champagne supplier since 1977, Lanson is the only Champagne poured throughout the tournament. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Lanson’s partnership with Wimbledon.
March 28, 2017
FEATURED: AGAVE WEEK: April 10th - 13th
Who is coming, you ask?
Tequila Fortaleza: Guillermo Sauza & Billy Erickson (owners)
Tequila Arette: Eduardo Jr. Orendain (owner)
Fidencio Mezcal: Arik Torren (owner)
Koch el Mezcal: Carlos Moreno (owner); Lucio Bautista, Adrian Bautista (distillers)
Agave Week Events
We’ve booked a spectacular week of events for the industry and consumers alike. We hope you can make a few! For the Tuesday and Wednesday events, please contact the restaurant for more details about drink specials (there are lots!) and dinner menus.
Monday, April 10th
Industry Agave Tasting
RSVP to Christophe@creamwine.com
Tuesday, April 11th
Fortaleza Bar Takeover
Fortaleza Bar Takeover
Arette Bar Takeover
Fidencio Bar Takeover
Koch Bar Takeover
Wednesday, April 12th
December 22, 2016
Once & Future - Joel Peterson is back!
Christmas has come early! Joel Peterson is back to his roots.
We are very fortunate that our relationship with Joel’s son Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co. has led us here: distributing the legendary Zinfandel producer’s new project Once & Future. Welcome to Cream Joel!
We are now offering a very limited quantity of Once & Future 2014 Petite Sirah, Palisades Vineyard, Napa Valley. Please ask your Cream Sales Representative for pricing and availability.
Joel Peterson sent out a heartfelt release letter that takes us through his journey, which we’d like to share in entirety.
In late 1972 I met Joe Swan and was given an extraordinary chance to learn the art of winemaking. I was a complete novice when it came to the craft, but not when it came to wine. I had grown up in a household of two chemists: my mother Frances, a nuclear chemist and my father Walter, a physical chemist. After my brother and I were born my mother applied her meticulous science skills to food (later doing much of the recipe testing for Alice Waters’s original Chez Panisse cookbook). My father became obsessed by wine, eventually writing one of the first wine newsletters in the San Francisco Bay Area: The San Francisco Wine Sampling Society. With this as a childhood backdrop, I learned about the pleasures and complexities of food and wine at an early age, along with a healthy love of science.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, with the California wine business still recovering from the hangover of Prohibition and offering few options of high quality wine (with some notable exceptions such as Beaulieu and Inglenook) my parents’ taste, and as a result mine, was informed by European wines. Many of the best were from single vineyards where the grapes were grown perfectly matched to site, the wines made by a person who had special insight into that location and a deft touch with the process. I learned that the most interesting wines were generally made in fairly small lots, frequently relying on native flora for fermentation and more often than not, stored in wooden cooperage for some period of time to mature and concentrate before bottling.
When Joe Swan took me under his wing in the early 1970’s, his fastidious winemaking techniques, and wines, mirrored my theories and tasting experiences. Grapes from carefully selected and cultivated vineyards were harvested at ripeness but not over ripeness. They were fermented in small 3 - 4 ton open top redwood fermenters and punched down by hand. The processing was minimal and the aging occurred in small, newly imported French oak barrels. Although Joe wanted to specialize in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, he practiced his early winemaking with old vine Zinfandel. As the four subsequent decades have shown, these turned out to be some of his best wines. It was those first Swan wines that made me fall in love with Zinfandel and, in particular, with older vines. I came to see these as the most European grapes in California; mostly planted in the right locations, usually dry farmed, moderate in production (2 - 3 tons per acre), head pruned and frequently intermixed with other varieties that were unique to California.
When I started Ravenswood in 1976, I wanted to focus on Zinfandel. I planned to make single vineyard wines in a somewhat gothic, old world style. It was my hope to make wine similar to that made in Europe but with a Californian twist; small open topped redwood fermenters, hand punchdowns, extended macerations, native yeast, gentle transfer, minimal processing and small French oak aging - all done by hand. I thought the winery, if I were lucky, would grow to six or seven thousand cases. For a number of reasons, mostly dealing with the hard realities of cash flow and distribution and the necessity of equity partners, I found myself unable to make that vision of a small winery into a reality. Though I was able to make single vineyard wines that I hope helped redefine the qualitative ceiling of California’s old vines, Ravenswood also started to make a wine called “Vintners Blend” that proved immensely popular. Thanks to that, starting in 1983, seven years after the first vintage, Ravenswood began to grow and over the following three decades its annual production kicked up to nearly one million cases, at one point becoming the bestselling red Zinfandel brand in the world.
Along the way, I have watched and participated in the growth and maturation of the California wine business. I have seen the increased sophistication of an expanding wine consumer population. I have worked with some of the best, most talented and nicest people in the wine business. I have travelled to and sold wine in most of the wine drinking countries of the world. I have had the pleasure to taste many great wines. I have been a Sole Proprietor, a General Partner in a Limited Partnership, the President of both a C Corporation and a publicly traded corporation and a Senior Vice President at Constellation Wines. I have been the President of Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers. I helped found ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) and was its President two times. I support and consult with the Historic Vineyard Society and currently am a member of the Board of the Sonoma County Vintners. In 2011 fellow industry members gave me the honor of induction into the Vintners Hall of Fame. Best of all I have a son, Morgan Twain-Peterson, who has chosen winemaking as his career and runs the highly innovative and successful Bedrock Wine Company.
Both in the vineyard and in life, I have definitely learned a thing or two about vintage variation. I am enormously proud of the wines I make at Ravenswood, from those wines that sing of place - Old Hill Ranch, Dickerson, Belloni, Barricia, Teldeschi - to the more economical wines that helped turn a couple of generations of people onto the joy and deliciousness of well-wrought wine. However, after nearly 45 years in the wine business, I feel it is time to return to my roots.
Once and Future is the return to the original vision I had for Ravenswood so many years ago - a small project specializing in wines from unique older vineyards, made with a sensitivity to place and in a style that I personally love and believe in - wines that force me to dust off the old redwood vats and get out a new punch down tool (my original is in the Smithsonian), wines that dye my hands a harvest shade of black/purple and sometimes force me to take an additional Ibuprofen in the morning. In short - wines of sweat, commitment, and love.
December 21, 2016
Everyday California Chardonnay that Over-Delivers
Sure The White Queen Chardonnay has a fun label and cute name that those Alice in Wonderland fans are certain to love. But in truth, this everyday Chardonnay is offering much more than your typical Chardonnay at this price point. It shows a brightness and freshness that can be lost at times in affordable California Chardonnay. Perhaps this has to do with the minimal oak treatment on the wine. There does seem to be something else going on here - a balance and energy that you can taste. This is a great wine for those who prefer Chardonnay with more mineral characteristics instead of butter and sweetness.
We are not the only ones who think The White Queen is special. Master Sommelier Ian Cauble recently wrote about the wine for Somm Select:
“At this price-point, there is nothing like it on the market.”
“So many people order “a glass of Chardonnay” without giving it any thought, and how often, if ever, is it something memorable? Not very often. The White Queen is meant to change that, with an emphasis on balance, energy, and, interestingly enough, moderation.”
“There’s a Chablis-meets-Sonoma-Coast vibe going on here: In the glass it’s a vibrant yellow-gold, and the nose is all about fresh, fruity scents of lemon zest, peach pit, bosc pear, and green apple. On the palate there’s creamy texture and good weight but a barely perceptible wood influence. There’s a tension to the wine that keeps you engaged over the course of a few glasses, which is the point. It’s a perfect not-too-light white for apéritifs or to have in quantity for a way-above-average pour at a larger party.”
December 12, 2016
FEATURED: Conca State of Mind
To quote Francesc Escala, “For me, I like.”
Written by Andy Pates
The Raventós family has been partners with Cream since our company began over 15 years ago. During this time, Pepe Raventós has visited Illinois many times to meet, taste and share stories with the Cream Team, members of the trade and media, as well as consumers at various events. Who cannot resist this man’s passion, knowledge, enthusiasm and charm? Many of us have also been fortunate enough to visit the Raventós i Blanc estate in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia in the Penedès, just outside of Barcelona in Catalunya. This is the birthplace of Cava.
The Raventós family has been growing grapes and making wine in the region since 1497. They first made sparkling wine in the Penedès from Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada in the late 1800’s. In 1986, Pepe’s grandfather Josep, helped create the D.O. and modern category of cava that has since exploded in popularity. Today, this global Cava craze is dominated by the big cooperatives that purchase grapes, both indigenous and international, from large and small farmers from virtually all over Spain. This is the usual tale of quantity over quality: brands, boxes, millions and millions of bottles.
Three years ago, Pepe’s decision that Raventós i Blanc leave the Cava D.O. was met by much industry skepticism and consumer criticism. After all, this was the D.O. and category his family helped to create. In leaving the D.O., Pepe hoped to change the Spanish sparkling wine conversation to be about the place, farming and indigenous grape varieties and not about the method, production or marketing. This makes perfect sense to me. Why would he put so much time and energy into farming biodynamically and making low intervention wines of purity and terroir only to have them grouped with larger commercial brands. This is the grower champagne conversation that so many are gaga over and rightly so. Why can’t we have this same conversation in the Penedès?
Pepe is often quoted in saying, “If you cant change the players, change the game.” This is loosely paraphrased from “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Lost in translation aside, ‘Conca del Riu Anoia’ (Valley of the River Anoia) was born. This “declassification” also extends with open arms to growers in the valley, outside of the Raventós estate who farm organically and focus on quality over quantity. The goal is to help support the region, give attention to other quality producers and pay farmers well for their hard work and dedication to quality. Farmers have certainly responded by moving away from selling to large cooperatives and working with Raventós for La Vida al Camp and their L’hereu Blanc de Blancs. Conca is all about the growers in and around Sant Sadurní.
Conca is a state of mind and resistance to convention. The Raventós family should be celebrated and supported for taking risks that are not always popular. They are elevating the quality of sparkling wine through better farming, preservation of indigenous varietals, and maintaining sense of place and origin for sparkling wine and wine in general. These are exciting times. Over our 15-year collaboration, we have seen the evolution of Raventós i Blanc from historic, iconic producer of high quality wines and cava into a pioneer and leader of naturally farmed, terroir-driven sparkling wines that transcend the category of Cava. These wines purely express time and place. These wines sit among the top sparkling wines produced in the world.
We are very pleased to offer you the current releases of Raventós i Blanc for the holiday season. Let us know of your interest and if you would like to taste some or all of the wines. It would be a pleasure to show you. The L’hereu Blanc de Blancs is second to none in quality for dollar. Perfect for by the glass and a go-to for retailers. The de Nit Rosé is pure joy and beauty. The Finca is a selection from parcels of older Xarello from the estate. Pay particular attention to the Manuel Raventós Negra; it is blended by Pepe’s father Manuel from the tops wines of the vintage and aged no less than 72 months on the lees. The Textures de Pedra is a new and limited Blanc de Noirs of Bastard Negre and Sumoll.
Next Year Releases
Pepe is releasing natural wines under the Mas de Serral label that he and his wife Susana make in their home on the property - Ancestal Xarello, still Xarello and Bastard Negre. Zero zero goodness. They were previewed at The Big Glou in New York last February.
November 25, 2016
FEATURED: Yann Vadin is the new face of grower champagne.
Yann Vadin is relatively unknown. While his family has owned their estate since 1785, they have only recently started exporting their wines outside of France. A chance encounter at the champagne fair Des Pieds et Des Vins earlier this year in France introduced us to Yann and the wines of Champagne Vadin-Plateau. The wines are simply stunning natural expressions with fierce minerality and brilliant freshness. It is only a matter of time before Champagne Vadin-Plateau is revered as one of the top grower champagnes.
Champagne Vadin-Plateau is located in the heart of the Marne Valley, in the premier cru village of Cumières (near Épernay). Joseph Plateau founded Champagne Vadin-Plateau (first called Maison Plateau) in 1785, making Vadin-Plateau one of the oldest champagne producers. A passion for wine and its cultivation has been transmitted from generation to generation; today, over two centuries later, it continues with Yann Vadin.
Yann Vadin is the ninth generation to take the helm of Champagne Vadin-Plateau. He took over the estate in 2012 after school and wine experience in Bordeaux and Burgundy. Yann perpetuates the family’s expertise while bringing his passion and his emotion into the wines.
The vineyards of Champagne Vadin-Plateau were formed over the generations, and have now reached seven hectares over seven villages, all chosen by the family of the winemakers for their characteristics. The land is spread over a total of 100 different plots. Most of them are located in premier cru and grand cru locations such as Aÿ, Pourcy, Hautvillers, Cumières, Damery, Venteuil & Chateau-Thierry. The vineyards are made up of a large portion of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vines with a small portion of Chardonnay. The vines average 40 years, but there are some that are 70 years or older.
Yann Vadin practices minimal intervention in the vineyards. Vineyards are plowed by hand and horse. Biodynamic and organic preparations are used; herbicides and pesticides are renounced. In the cellar, Yann has combined tradition with modernity. Wines are vinified with native yeast. All of the wines are neither fined nor filtered. Yann uses a combination of oak barrels, clay eggs and stainless steel for vinification. The clay is used to gain a stronger expression of minerality. After bottling, the wines are aged for two to six years on the lees in the deep cellars underground. They are released to the market after four months from disgorgement.
2012 Bois des Jots Zero Dosage, Champagne 1er Cru AOC: This is an extremely limited brut nature blanc de noirs (266 bottles) from Vadin-Plateau’s Bois de Jots plot in the premier cru village Cumières. It is 100% Pinot Noir.
NV ‘Renaissance’ Extra Brut, Champagne 1er Cru AOC: Renaissance is a limited blanc de noirs from Vadin-Plateau’s vineyards in the premier cru village Cumières. It is 100% Pinot Meunier.
November 15, 2016
Preserving the Past: A Worthy Mission
Morgan Twain-Peterson is preserving and bottling California’s viticultural past. His mission with Bedrock Wine Co. is to produce California wines from historic, old vines. Most are field blends that represent the whole vineyard, its age and history, instead of a particular variety. Not only does he want to preserve the old vines, he also believes they produce wines of superior quality (which it is hard to argue when you taste!).
In an article with Town & Country in November 2015, Morgan is quoted saying: “Two important things give them an edge,” he says. “One is that they’re more established plants and produce yields of greater fruit concentration. There is also a Darwinian element. If a vineyard has lasted through two world wars, Prohibition, and any number of other things, it must be special, or it would have likely been ripped out.”
Twain-Peterson is working with other winemakers (Mike Officer of Carlisle Winery, Tegan Passalacqua of Turley Wine Cellars, David Gates of Ridge Vineyards to name a few) to save California’s old vines. Together, they have formed a group called the Historic Vineyard Society that aims to identify, register and save heritage old vines. These vines and vineyards are producing wines that are completely original and completely California. The wines are not trying to emulate any other wines from any other region. As Antonio Galloni put it in his Vinous January 2015 review, “They [wines] are quite faithful to a sense of place.”
Bedrock’s fall release is now in stock at Cream. The wines are simply stunning.
November 10, 2016
Looking at You, Campania
We are simply thrilled by what Ian D’Agata wrote for Vinous about the wines of Campania! We have believed in the region and our producers for quite sometime. Getting others to believe in the terroir has been a slight challenge. So it is nice to read Ian’s wonderful words on the region, the producers and the exciting future of this terroir.
Excerpt from the article “The Wines of Campania: Getting Better and Better” “Campania’s white wines vie with those of Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia for top spot on Italy’s list of quality whites. And today’s reds from the region are increasingly removed from the old southern Italian stereotype of unclean, overripe and high alcohol wines.
One of the most positive developments in Italy’s wine scene over the last 30 years has been the total transformation of Campania. It is safe to say that Campania’s wines have never been this good, and the improvements have been due both to a plethora of new and exciting estates run by a passionate and energetic new generation and, increasingly, to moneyed locals who are looking to invest in the region’s wine economy. The presence of a number of outstanding, world-class local grape varieties that grow practically nowhere else and a better understanding of many of the region’s unique—often volcanic—terroirs have also played important roles in the transformation of Campanian wine.”
We direct import two producers from Campania that were mentioned in the article: Ciro Picariello and La Sibilla. Ian states in the article that Ciro Picariello “makes some of Campania’s most sought-after wines.” Then he writes about La Sibilla that “the Di Meo family has turned their small estate into one of the country’s best Falanghina and Piedirosso wine producers.” This is awesome praise for two producers that we discovered several years ago and were amazed by the quality, the balance, and the soul of the wines. We hope you get the chance to discover their magic as well.
Ciro Picariello 2013 Fiano di Avellino DOCG
Ciro Picariello 2013 Irpinia Fiano DOP
Ciro Picariello 2013 Greco di Tufo DOCG
Ciro Picariello 2012 Campania Rosso IGP
La Sibilla 2014 Falanghina, Campi Flegrei DOC
La Sibilla 2013 Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei DOC