Bargain Bordeaux, new Fontezoppa and other Italian treats. 

Thursday, March 1:

Chateau Bois Tiffray, Lussac-St. Emilion 2008- $12.99/btl ($10.40 by case or mixed case): Not so many years ago, there was no such thing as a quality bottle of Bordeaux that you could pick up for close to ten bucks by the case. The region's long-entrenched negociant system ensured that wines had to be sold through agents or courtiers who traditionally added a 10-15% tier of extra markup. However, with the rise of the garagiste movement and the collapse of Chateau & Estates (for years, Bordeaux' most powerful negociant), the Bordeaux market has become much less structured...and- to our advantage- the everyday, workhorse wines are much more affordable! The 2008 Bois Tiffray featured today is the first of many wines now being directly shipped, imported and marketed in the US by the venerable negociant firm of Debos. Typical of the best 2008s of the Right Bank, it's dense, rich, not tannic...and ready to drink right now, while we wait on the spectacular 2009s.

Chateau Saint-Germain, Entre-Deux-Mers 2010- $9.99/btl ($7.99 by case or mixed case): Nowhere is the shocking economy of scale Debos has achieved in streamlining its operation more evident than in this sumptuous and exuberant 50-50, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc mix from the excellent 2010 vintage. We were captivated by this wine on taste alone, but when Debos gave us the price, we signed on the dotted line for as much as we could get. The large percentage of ripe, unctuous Semillon in the cepage gives this gem a presence and richness that simply isn't there in other sub-$10 wines of this type. With a case or mixed case purchase bringing this to $8, we heavily suggest you put it in the running to be your "house white" well into the warmer weather!

Friday, March 2:

Colli Maceratesi "Vardo", Fontezoppa 2008- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): The Adriatic seaside province of Le Marche is one of our favorite areas of Italy for unearthing incredible values...and, when we speak of Le Marche, the conversation begins and ends with its flagship estate, Fontezoppa. As with most great winegrowers, a taste is worth a thousand words, so we'll spare you the words and simply urge you to stop by and taste the new vintage of Vardo, an unfiltered blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon that is true to both grapes, the maritime climate of the appellation and its mineral-infused soils. It is more vital, vigorous and direct than Super Tuscan versions of Sangio/Cabernet, but no less compelling or well-made. Best of all, Vardo sells for a fraction of the price of its more-vaunted neighbors to the west! Here's hoping that the broader wine world never catches on to this region.

Verdicchio di Matelica, Fontezoppa 2010- $12.99/btl ($10.40 by case or mixed case): The only wine from Le Marche that has ever gained wide recognition is Verdicchio. Too bad that most Verdicchio widely available in the US is a watery, insipid and thin sham of a wine. Of course, in the hands of Fontezoppa, this same grape is transformed into an mineral-scented, electric and elegant wine that ranks in the first tier of great white wines from anywhere in Italy. With a case or mixed case purchase bringing it tantalizingly close to $10, we'd also have to say this is one of the best white wine values in the world right now!

Saturday, March 3:

Salento Negroamaro "Marangi", Tenute Mater Domini 2009- $16.99/btl ($13.60 by case or mixed case): Today, we're in Puglia, the "bootheel" of Italy, tasting a Salento red made from the suddenly-fashionable Negroamaro grape. Why Negroamaro has become all the rage frankly baffles us, as most versions (carrying the Salento designation) are flabby, stinky, high-alcohol concoctions that speak more to us of blazing hot weather, sweaty old barrels and crude winemaking than of anything else. However, we were pleasantly surprised to taste Mater Domini's 2009, as it displayed genuine refinement, lift, and- dare we say it?- restraint. The moderate 13% alcohol allows for an interesting expression of Negroamaro that reveals a noble side we had no idea existed. Here's yet another candidate for your Easter leg of lamb.

Vermentino "Vigna Sori", Poggio dei Gorleri 2010- $19.99/btl ($15.99 by case or mixed case): We've always been puzzled as to why Ligurian cuisine has become so popular (especially items featuring pesto made from Genovese basil), yet its regal wines exist in virtual anonymity. There is perhaps no truer expression of Mediterranean terroir than this outstanding dry Vermentino from top-rank grower, Poggio dei Gorleri. True to its origin, it displays full body, excellent acidity/length on the palate and a complex, subtle array of aromas and flavors ranging from blossoming flowers to sea salt to lightly toasting pine nuts. It is almost Chablis-like in its transparency and virtually begs for a big pot of fish stew or a whole daurade steamed in parchment. If this one tickles your fancy, be sure to pick up a bottle of its sibling, the spectacular Pigato "Cycnus" 2010 ($21.99/$17.60)...possibly the finest young Pigato we've ever tasted.

More San Diego Beer!

It must be something in the water. How else do you explain the embarrassment of craft-brewed riches that come from San Diego? Any other town would be lucky to have just ONE brewery of the quality of a Green Flash, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing or Stone...but with the new releases this week from Ballast Point, San Diego now boasts of FOUR top-class breweries! Many of our clients are already familiar with these beers...and the fact that they are available in pitifully small quantities. This week's releases are sure to go fast:

Ballast Point Big Eye 6 pk
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA 22 oz
Ballast Point Sea Monster 22 oz
Ballast Point Victory at Sea 22 oz

And, as if four new Ballast Point releases weren't enough, save room for these:

Flying Dog Horn Dog 4 pk
Lost Abbey Carnevale 750ml
The Bruery Saison De Lent 750ml
Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA 6 pk
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis 6 pk
Ommegang Hennepin 4 pk

Brenna's Wine Queue

Pity poor Brenna. Little did she know law school is for arrivistes, dilettantes, posers, lightweights and other intellectual flotsam and jetsam; this wine thing is hard work! We've marinated and tenderized her palate for the past two it's time to deliver the kill shot of terroir-jacked wines that will render her a drooling, sniveling shell of her former self. Just like the Marines, we're breaking her down in order to build her up:

Pigato "Cycnus", Poggio dei Gorleri 2010- $21.99
Macon-Villages "La Crochette", Charlet 2010- $12.99
Tierra de Castilla "TNT", Venta la Ossa 2009- $24.99
Rioja, Altino 2008- $27.99
Equipo Navazos-Niepoort Vino Blanco 2009- $36.99
Chianti Rufina, Cerreto Libri 2005- $31.99
Montaperto (Toscana IGT- Sangio/Gamay/Alicante), Carpineta Fontalpino 2008- $18.99