New wines that drink a "step up" from their price tags!
Thursday, February 9:

Touraine, Domaine de la Potine, Ricard 2010- $10.99/btl ($8.80 by case or mixed case): 2010 has proved to be a useful vintage throughout the Loire Valley, as almost every appellation has brought to market wines that exhibit an extra degree of richness and concentration. That's to our benefit, as the normally lean and mean Sauvignon Blancs of the Touraine have been transformed into wines that- in the hands of the best growers- approach the quality you'd expect in good Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume. We were so impressed with Ricard's 2010 Touraine that we committed to a quantity sufficient to bring the price below those of fair-to-middling New Zealand Sauvignons. Act quickly, as this is one value that is sure not to stay on the shelf for long!

Cotes du Rhone Villages-Chusclan, Chateau Signac 2009- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): Just when you think you know the wines of the Rhone Valley, up pops an obscure (or, in this case, a relatively new) appellation, chock full of value wines of great character. We hadn't tasted- or seen- a Chusclan until last week, but if Chateau Signac's 2009 is indicative of the quality there, we'll be looking for more. This sumptuous wine is the usual southern Rhone blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, et al), but what sets it apart is an elegance, lift, balance and purity one rarely encounters at the Cotes du Rhone Villages level. 

Friday, February 10:

Gentil, Meyer-Fonne 2009- $17.99/btl ($14.40 by case or mixed case): We're normally suspicious of blended wines from Alsace that are labeled "Gentil" or "Edelzwicker", as far too often, these wines might as well be labeled "Leftovers". However, in the hands of masterful growers and blenders such as Felix Meyer, such wines become exotic little masterpieces. In Meyer's '09 Gentil, Pinot Blanc provides the structure and base, while Muscat supplies tutti-frutti aromatics. There's also a generous hit of Riesling and Gewurztraminer to add further complexity. Meyer's approach is strictly traditional, so this wine sees no new oak, spends significant time on its lees (adding extra richness) and is finished dry. Blends such as this- often carrying stratospheric price tags- are the rage with many New World growers, so to see a benchmark offering well below $20 is indeed a treat!

Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County/Red Hills, Chad 2009- $18.99/btl ($15.20 by case or mixed case): We routinely taste- and reject- dozens of California Cabernets in the under-$20 category, as virtually every example seems to us to have been made to please or impress a focus group, rather than serve as an honest representation of the grape. We had almost come to the point of admitting that Spain, France, Chile and Argentina had completely won the war of value-priced Cabernet...when we tasted this gem from the Red Hills of Lake County. It's absolutely textbook Cabernet, meaning that it's not jammy, over-extracted, late-harvested or pulverized with new oak. What it IS, is: pleasantly varietal (with just a tinge of unadulterated Cabernet's typical herbacousness), medium-full bodied, elegant in texture and full on the palate in such a way that only well-tended, old vines Cabernet tends to be. Hats off to Chad Alexander for assembling what is the best under-$20 California Cab we've tasted in years!

Saturday, February 11:

Valdeorras Godello, Vina Godeval 2010- $15.99/btl ($12.80 by case or mixed case): It's back to Galicia for us today, as we introduce the arrival of a worthy companion to our growing collection of this region's Albarinos and Verdejos: the 2010 Godello from the acknowledged master of this variety, Vina Godeval. In fact, Godeval is credited with both rescuing this grape from virtual extinction and elevating it to the first rank of great Spanish white wines. We'd go as far as to say that it's one of the great dry whites from anywhere in Europe, as it combines the unctuous texture of fine white Burgundy with the precise aromatics of an Alsace cru and the minerality of the western Loire. We're aware that's quite a statement, but tasting is believing, so stop by Saturday for a sip of one of the most distinctive and food-friendly (absolutely spectacular with sashimi of fatty fish, such as hamachi) wines going.

Chianti Colli Senesi, Fattoria del Cerro 2009- $9.99/btl ($7.99 by case or mixed case): If you're a regular at JWS, chances are good you've already experienced Fattoria del Cerro's 2008, a taut, mannerly, structured Chianti that pretty much flew out the door. Now, we have the 2009, and- typical of the vintage- it's a warmer, fatter and fleshier rendering than the '08. Best of all, it's the same this deserves serious consideration as your house Chianti (if not that, simply as your house red!) as we go from cold to warm weather.

Benchmark Beer Weekend!

We always look forward to releases of new brews and fresh batches of our old favorites, but this week is extra special. Check this stellar lineup:

Dogfish Head Noble Rot 750ml- Is it beer? Is it wine? Who else would brew/ferment a Saison with botrytised Viognier must?
Flying Dog Garde Dog 4pk- Biere de Garde
Lost Abbey Red Barn 750ml- Saison w/ginger, black pepper, orange peel, Grains of Paradise
Lost Abbey Judgment Day 750ml- Quad
Port Shark Attack 22 oz- Imperial Red Ale
Port Older Viscosity 330 ml- Strong Ale, aged in Bourbon barrels
Six Point Resin 4pk- 9.1 ABV/100+ IBU Double IPA
Weyerbacher Insanity 4pk- Barleywine, aged in Bourbon barrels