Celebrating 21 years as Raleigh's
longest running independent wine store,
Looking for a
special bottle for a gift or wines for a
celebration, special dinner or just to add
to your collection? We not only have
excellent value wines, we also stock an
extensive selection of collectible and hard
to find wines from the United States, Europe
and Southern Hemisphere. Our selections
change often and highly allocated wines sell
out quickly, so check back for updates. Here
are some recommendations:
New Vintages From Giacomo Conterno
Cantine Giacomo Conterno is one of the greatest names in all of Piemonte. The estate was formed in 1908 when Giacomo’s father, Giovanni Conterno started a wine bar in the village of San Giuseppe. Giovanni made Barolo from purchased grapes and sold whatever was not needed at the tavern in barrel at this time, as was the custom throughout the region in the early twentieth century. Today, the torch has been passed to fourth generation winemaker, Roberto Conterno. Roberto worked side by side with his father for many years before his passing in 2003. Roberto himself is one of the most fastidious and perfectionist winemakers, and many feel he has taken the winery to even greater heights than his predecessors.
In addition to the outstanding Baroli made by Giacomo Conterno, there is also Barbera d’Alba produced from both Cascina Francia and Ceretta. The Barbera are aged two years in large botti and are some of the most age-worthy and brilliant examples of this underrated grape to be found in Piemonte.
2015 Giacomo Conterno 'Vigna Cerretta' Barbera ; Alba, Piedmont, Italy - "The beautiful 2015 Barbera d'Alba Cerretta shows ripe fruit and evident roundness. The Barbera grape likes a little extra heat and that's exactly what it got during the very warm 2015 growing season. The wine shows an inky dark appearance with little light penetration. The aromas are characterized by fullness and seamless transitions that segue to black fruit, plum, spice, tar and smoky tobacco. This special wine explores the deep and unexpected inner workings of the Barbera grape, offering a surprising level of complexity and nuance along the way." The Wine Advocate issue #231 ($62.99)
"The 2013 Barolo Cerretta is the most complete wine Roberto Conterno has made since he acquired this site in 2008. Crazy aromatics make a strong opening impression. Rose petal, mint, sweet tobacco and licorice overtones all develop in a captivating, hauntingly seductive Barolo. Constantly changing in the glass, the 2013 is mesmerizingly beautiful." Vinous ($219.00 net)
Alto Moncayo 2015!
Founded in 2001, Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a joint venture of Jorge Ordonez, Bodegas Borsao and others, in conjunction with Chris Ringland. It is located in the town of Bulbuente (Zaragoza) Spain and the Denominacion Campo de Borja. 62 hectares (153.2 acres) of old clone Garnacha vines are planted on the hillside vineyards oriented to the southwest. With vineyards located in three villages, a few of the vineyards are terraced. The winery possesses very unique soils of red clay (indicative of being rich in iron) mixed with red slate. Because of its hillside location the soils are very poor in organic matter and shallow. A few sites have calcareous soil. Nighttime during the summer brings cool temperatures to moderate the growing season and there is scant rainfall. The youngest vines of Alto Moncayo are 35 years old and the oldest vineyards are over 90 years old. Their focus is exclusively on Garnacha.
Alto Moncayo Alto Moncayo 2015; Campo de Borja ($42.99)
Alto Moncayo Veraton 2015; Campo de Borja ($29.99)
"Orin Swift is the brainchild of a brilliant young man by the name of Dave Phinney. His Midas touch with grapes from seemingly anywhere in the world, is unusual, but the brilliance of the wines, his creativeness and unparalleled blending talents have built an incredible portfolio right out of the gate. He only started Orin Swift in 1998 and just recently sold it to the huge Gallo enterprise. Readers looking for personality filled wines of considerable character and complexity need to check out the Orin Swift offerings. They are not shy wines in any respect, but the quality is obvious, and if you are like me and believe that a wine is to be judged on just how delicious it is, you will be as impressed as I have been with the Orin Swift products." Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Orin Swift Mannequin Chardonnay 2014; California - "One of his most popular wines is the creatively packaged 2014 Chardonnay Mannequin. The label alone would draw plenty of interest. This wine, primarily Chardonnay with a few percent of Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Muscat and Roussane, was aged sur lie for nine months in 40% French oak. It is no shy wine at 15.5% alcohol and there is plenty of it – 8,073 cases, which is good because it is a hot-selling wine to say the least. This wine offers notes of brioche, white peach, honeysuckle and citrus oil in a full-bodied intense style, but with terrific acidity and rather restrained oak. The wine is rich, ripe and impressive. Drink it over the next 3-4 years." 92 points, The Wine Advocate #227. ($31.99)
Orin Swift Papillon Red 2014; Napa Valley - The 2014 Bordeaux Proprietary Blend Papillion (15,748 cases) was aged 16 months in 40% new French oak. Fairly priced for what the consumer gets, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc (15.1% alcohol) exhibits notes of forest floor, graphite, blackcurrant, blackberry fruit and spring flowers followed by a full-bodied, unctuously textured, deep, rich pure wine to drink over the next 10-15+ years." 94 points, The Wine Advocate #227 ($69.99)
Orin Swift Palermo Cabernet 2014; Napa Valley, CA - I tasted three Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from Orin Swift. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Palermo, all Napa Valley fruit and a blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Merlot and Malbec, was aged only 10 months in 35% new French oak. Bottled early to accentuate its fruit, this wine has soft, low-acid flavors, plenty of crème de cassis, chocolate and tobacco leaf, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and a long finish. It should drink well for the next 10-15 years, perhaps longer." 91 points, The Wine Advocate issue #227. ($49.99)
Orin Swift Machete Red 2015; California - "In 2009, the decision was made to create a new blend that featured the varietal most known for its tannins and inky color and least known for its ability to be delicate and complex. With only about 10,000 acres of Petite Sirah planted in California, we have been fortunate to literally taste through the state and discover the best regions for Petite Sirah. Coming off the success of the 2014 vintage, we were lucky to find even more vineyards whose wines met our strict standards for Machete.
A brooding hue and viscous consistency, powerful aromas of crème de cassis, boysenberry, and ripe cherries are complemented by a soft minerality and hints of dark chocolate. The entry is smooth with dark plums and a charred meatiness that floods to create a velvety texture that lingers. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache aged 10 months in French oak, 40% new." Winery notes. ($49.99)
Orin Swift Abstract 2015; California - As soon as a glass is poured, aromatic notes of Luxardo cherries, ripe black plums and raspberries billow, with intricate hints of coffee, mocha and caramel in the background. The entry is expansive with dark briar fruits, cola and cocoa with tannins that are soft and dusty. The wine finishes with a hint of wild cherry and a lingering sweet oak presence.
Abstract is a blend of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Amador and El Dorado County Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah primarily from hillside vineyards aged 10 months in a combination of new and seasoned French oak." Winery notes. ($36.99)
Orin Swift Mercury Head Cabernet 2014; Napa Valley, CA - "A spectacular wine, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Mercury Head is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Taplin and Morisoli vineyards and several Atlas Peak vineyards, aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. There are 5,461 cases of this wine. The wine is a classic, broad-shouldered, compelling Cabernet Sauvignon with beautiful blueberry and crème de cassis fruit, Christmas fruitcake, cedar wood, white chocolate notes and a hint of graphite and background toast. It is ripe, full-bodied, pure, multidimensional and a mouthful of succulent Cabernet Sauvignon to drink over the next 20+ years." 96 points, The Wine Advocate #227. ($119.00 net)
"There are very few wineries in California where you can say that the original wine owners and winemaking staff are totally intact and have been, in this case, since 1978. The estate was founded by John Shafer and run with great precision by himself and more recently by his son Doug and Elias Fernandez. The team has been working together for 38 years since the first vintage in 1978. Six years earlier in 1972, John Shafer bought the property and established the vineyard in the hillsides of Stags Leap. They produce about 30,000 cases of wine – all of it noteworthy. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is true first-growth quality and their Rhône Ranger wine made from Syrah and Petite Sirah, called Relentless, is about as profound as you can get from those varietals." Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Shafer Merlot 2014, Napa
Valley - Shafer also makes one of the better Merlots. The
2014 Merlot includes 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and is a beauty.
Mocha and chocolaty notes intermixed with red cherry, plum and
blacker fruits jump from the glass of this perfumed and fragrant
style of Merlot. It is medium to full-bodied, exceptionally pure
and rich and should drink beautifully over the next 10-12 years
of life." 92 points, Wine Advocate #227 ($64.99 net)
Shafer "Relentless" 2014, Napa Valley - Relentless is a wine that originates in a rugged, sloping vineyard planted within the chaparral foothills of the Vaca Mountains, along Napa Valley’s arid, cooler southeast corridor. For more than a decade this site has produced a consistently rich, elegant proprietary blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah. ($97.99 net)
“The first pour offers an
endlessly rich density of meaty, smoky, black fruit aromas while
the wine saturates the mouth with deep flavors of black
licorice, bramble fruit, black pepper, allspice, bacon, and
char. All of this opulence is energized with underlying acidity
and bound together with structured, ripe tannins built for very
long term ageability.” - Shafer Winemaker Elias
Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet 2013, Stags Leap District - Hillside Select is sourced from a collection of 14 small vineyard blocks planted within an eons-old amphitheater-like structure of rock and volcanic soil that surrounds the winery. Thanks to scant soil nutrients and moisture, yields at harvest are meager and the berries are small, about the size of blueberries. This Stags Leap District site’s combination of rugged, arid soil and climate results in lush Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with dark color and intense, classic flavor.
"The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select will probably hit the magic three-digit score, but it is a more backward style of wine, although probably even more concentrated than the 2012, and that’s saying something. Fabulous potential of 30-50 years is evident in this profound bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that is inky blue/black to the rim and offers up notes of charcoal embers, scorched earth, blackberries, cassis, blueberries, a hint of coffee, and background barrique smells. Massively concentrated but incredibly elegant and poised, this is a wine of great energy and vibrancy. It is fabulously deep, built like a skyscraper, and set for an incredibly long life. Try not to consume a bottle for at least another 4-5 years and then watch the magic unfold." 98+ points, Wine advocate #227 ($299.00 net)
Shafer "TD-9 2015, Napa Valley - TD-9 is a proprietary blend that celebrates a bold move. In 1973, in the space of a few months, John Shafer went from riding morning commuter trains in Chicago to teaching himself to drive a TD-9 tractor in our Napa Valley vineyard. He’d never grown grapes or made wine in his life. That spirit of risk-taking and adventure still guides Shafer today and inspired the creation of this new wine.
“Vibrant, complex aromas
of ripe red and black fruit, lavender, and herbs fill the glass
followed by pure, energetic flavors of dried cherry, blackberry,
strawberry, licorice, and cocoa all pulled together with wet
slate minerality, clean acidity, and the ripe, seamless tannins
that are the hallmarks of this vintage”
“Powerful and finely
textured, with concentrated dried cherry, dark currant and
roasted plum flavors that are filled with lively minerality.
Richly spiced, showing dried herbal notes on the chiseled
Shafer One Point Five Cabernet 2014, Stags Leap District - “From the moment you pull the cork on this vintage rich, tantalizing aromas fill the air with blackberry, black licorice, spice, rose petal, and cinnamon, leading to a lush, full-bodied wine offering juicy flavors of black and red plum, summer berries, pie crust, baked rhubarb, cinnamon, and warm briar jam in a seamless package of ripe, welcoming tannins and a long, vibrant finish.” — Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez
“The nose is deep, complex and constantly evolving with a core of blackberry and dark currant fruit, smashed rocks, rich loamy soil, anise, tobacco and violets – lots to unpack. Fully loaded on the palate, a viscous wine with medium-low acidity and a powerful tannic grip. A young but gorgeous wine texturally, and concentrated blackberry and cassis. The fruit’s matched with flavors of anise, charred earth, cocoa powder, espresso and graphite. A sleek and enticing presence despite its youthful density. Best to let it sit for a few years, I think, but this should hold up for many more. Includes a combined 5% Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, aged 10 months in all new French oak barrels". — Isaac Baker, Terroirist.com ($89.95 net)
Chateau Montelena Library Releases 2003, 2005, 2009
The Barrett family first purchased the Montelena Chateau and Estate vineyard in 1972, believing it would produce grapes of superior quality like the great First Growth vineyards of Bordeaux. Knowing that it would take nearly five decades to prove, they cleared and replanted the vineyard, outfitted the Chateau with modern winemaking equipment, and assembled a team to oversee the vineyard and winemaking. Now, nearly 40 years into the 50-year plan, their theory is proving to be a solid one. A distinctive thread runs through the wines from this estate. Year in and year out, even with differing growing seasons, that perfect often elusive combination of earth and berry, fruit and mineral flows through these wines and is the hallmark of the Montelena Estate vineyards.
We are pleased to offer
the following library releases direct from
the winery's cellar, where the wines have
been stored since bottling:
"A big wine from the Barrett family (14.2% alcohol), this 2003 exhibits earthy black currant fruit, the restrained but intense Montelena style, full body, good richness and impeccable balance, purity and density. The color is a healthy dark ruby/purple and the wine shows lots of cassis. In spite of the restrained aromatics, the palate is rich, full-bodied, substantial and persuasive. This 2003 is approachable now, but it will be even more gorgeous 15, 20 and 25 years from now. This is a heritage wine from this great estate in northern Napa Valley." 94+ Wine Advocate, June 2013.
98% Cabernet, 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in 100% French oak, 25% new. $149.00 net.
"The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon at age ten is still a young, vibrant, dense ruby/purple -colored wine with lots of classic cassis fruit and a touch of earth undertones. It offers relatively soft and silky tannins by the standards of Montelena, but they’re there. It is full-bodied, rich and impressive. Cabernet Sauvignon from the northern end of the Napa Valley in Calistoga tends to be the St.-Estèphe of Napa. This wine is certainly one of the great ones. Forget it for another 3-4 years and drink it over the following 20-25." 93+ Wine Advocate, June 2015.
"Good deep ruby-red. Complex aromas of currant, licorice, graphite, bitter chocolate, smoked meat, tobacco and brown spices. Began juicy, penetrating and quite youthfully unevolved, but aeration brought a suppler, rounder texture and more generosity to this impressively structured wine. Complicating notes of bitter cherry, menthol and minerals. This will require a good eight to ten years of aging but the substantial tannins are sweet and lush. Very long, pure and powerful on the finish." 93+, International Wine Cellar May 2008.
98% Cabernet, 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 18 months in 100% French oak, 28% new. $149.00 net.
"Montelena’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate wraps around the palate with serious depth. Even with all of its intensity, the 2009 has a silkiness that makes it incredibly delicious at this early stage. Red berries, flowers, tobacco and sweet herbs all flesh out on the generous, radiant finish. While many 2009s are a bit tight today, Montelena’s 2009 Estate is showing very nicely, although it is keeping some cards close to the vest. I imagine the 2009 will start to enter its prime drinking window around age 8-10 and drink well for at least another decade beyond that. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029." 93+ Wine Advocate, Dec 2012.
98% Cabernet, 2% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in French oak, 34% new. $149.00 net.
The history of
"Locations" dates back to 1995 when on a lark,
David Swift Phinney took a friend up on an
offer and went to Florence, Italy to spend a
semester “studying”. During that time, he
was introduced to wine, how it was made, and
got hooked. A few more years of university
led to graduation and eventually a job at
Robert Mondavi Winery in 1997 as a temporary
harvest worker. Deciding that if he was
going to work this hard, it would eventually
have to be for himself, so in 1998 he
founded Orin Swift Cellars; Orin is his
father’s middle name and Swift is his
mother’s maiden name. With two tons of
zinfandel and not much else, he spent the
next decade making wine for others as well
as himself and grew the company into a
multinational brand that now includes 300
acres of vineyards in the Southwest of
France. This international ambition has led
to projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica,
Argentina and other locations around the
Locations is a simple
concept made complicated that ultimately
became a great deal of fun:
Locations F-3 Red Blend; France - "French red wine sourced from some of the finest locations throughout France. Grenache from the Roussillon, Syrah from the Rhone, and assorted Bordeaux varietals have been sensibly blended in an original style that showcases the best of what this historic land has to offer. A heavy purple hue envelops the glass with a tinge of ruby on the band. The nose reveals compelling, perfumed aromas of ripe cherry, kirsch, blackberry preserve, lavender, and subtle spice notes. Spirited upon entry, the palate is treated to persuasive and distinctive flavors of strawberry compote, crushed plum, and mocha. The silky mouthfeel gives way to a pleasing middle with notes of black tea, roasted fig, and juicy acidity. Finishing with purpose, dark fruits linger effortlessly with an attractive mineral tone." - Winemaker notes. ($21.99)
Locations E-3 Red
Blend; Spain - A blend of
Grenache/Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell,
and Carignan/Cariñena barrel aged for 10
months. "Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja, and
Ribera del Duero are among the most noble
growing regions on the Iberian Peninsula and
purposely chosen for the second release of
our Spanish red wine. Super concentrated
fruit from old vines with low yields are
accented with a judicious oak program for a
balanced and distinctive wine. An alluring
cast of blooming crimson and deep red shades
are immediately present in the glass.
Complimenting the appearance is an
impressive intensity on the nose with
elevated dark cherry and exotic spice notes.
The entry is rich with youthful berry
compote, floral, and plum flavors,
complimented with bright acidity. The finish
is expansive and pleasing with a persistent
mocha tinge and silky tannins." - Winemaker
Locations I-2 Red Blend; Italy - "A blend of Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Barbera, and native varietals from Puglia, barrel aged 10 months. Revealing an attractive color spectrum of crimson and scarlet with a slight magenta band on the rim, the wine explodes with aromas of macerated raspberries, dried lavender, plum tart, and toasty oak accents. The palate is immediately hit with super lush flavors of ripe berries and spice, supported with a dense core that has just the right amount of characteristic acidity. The tannins are already velvety and soft which provide for a lingering finish with hints of minerality and some herbal notes." - Winemaker notes. ($21.99)
Locations AR-3 Red
Blend; Argentina - The Locations project
heads south of the Equator for the AR
release, blending choice sources of
Cabernet, Malbec and Tannat. Aromas of
cassis, blueberry, lavender and cedar lead
to a dense palate of crushed red and black
berries. A pinch of earthy Tannat provides
depth and tannic structure to this
deliciously seductive wine. Aged for 10
months in new French oak. ($21.99)
Locations WA-4 Red Blend; Washington State - Dave Phinney has selected Syrah, Merlot and Petit Sirah from Washington State's finest locations to make this densely layered treat-in-a-glass. Dried blueberries, milk chocolate and cassis greet you with open arms and offer a relaxing cup of violet scented black tea spiced with anise. Thy this if you like velvety, mouthcoating wines. ($21.99)
Locations CA-4 Red Blend; California - Renowned regions such as Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, and the Sierra Foothills contributed to the wine ultimately resulting in a balanced and imaginative homage to its brethren. Featuring a blend of Tempranillo, Barbera, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Syrah, CA provides soft, lush red fruit wrapped by a band of bright acidity on a full, rich finish. ($21.99)
2013, 2014 & 2015 El Nido El Nido
El Nido, El Nido 2013; Jumilla, Spain - "The top of the range 2013 El Nido boasts a whopping 16% alcohol with lowish acidity. The blend is reversed from its sibling Clio, in this case mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some 30% Monastrell, and similarly finishes its fermentation in barrique where it undergoes malolactic and 23 months aging. The nose is dominated by ripe black fruit and plenty of spices and smoky notes from the oak, but does not show any herbal aromas so often found in Cabernet. The creamy oak seems to be more present with time in the glass, and I think it is still very young. The Cabernet can ripen nicely in Jumilla, in fact you have to be careful not to go over the limit. The palate is full-bodied, with dense sweet fruit and plenty of dusty tannins, with nice balance in an XL way. It has a lot of everything and it should develop nicely in bottle. This is a particular style, for the fans of soft, ripe and generously-oaked reds, very good in its style. Better to leave it in bottle for a while and enjoy with powerful food. 6,000 bottles produced and bottled in September 2015." 94 points, Wine Advocate #225. ($129.00 net)
"El Nido, El Nido 2014; Jumilla, Spain - Glass-staining purple. Explosive, alluring scents of blueberry, boysenberry, pipe tobacco, licorice and vanilla bean. Lush and broad but juicy and firmly built, with suave candied dark fruit flavors accented by sexy floral and Asian spice qualities. Finishes broad, juicy and impressively long, with echoing boysenberry and spice notes. Pair with, rice, pasta, (noodles, spaghetti, macaroni), vegetables, mushroom, stewed meat, sausage, pork, roast meat, red and/or white meat with sauces, grilled meat, short or medium cheeses." - Winemaker notes
Wine Spectator Review: "This rich red delivers plum pudding, currant, fig paste, cocoa and cinnamon flavors, bold and heady. Well-integrated tannins support the generous texture, with enough acidity to keep this lively. In the modern style. Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. Drink now through 2024. 400 cases made." -TM ($129.00 net)
El Nido, El Nido 2015; Jumilla, Spain - A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Monastrell , El Nido project is overseen by renowned Australian winemaker Chris Ringland. After a meticulous selection process, the grapes are basket pressed and fermented in oak. Malolactic fermentation occurs in new French and American oak where the wine remains for up to 26 months. This is not a shy wine; it is bursting with ripe blueberry, exotic spices, blackberries and pepper with fine yet firm tannins on the 60 second finish. It really needs at least 5 years of bottle aging before you even think of pulling the cork, but I dare you to drink it now. Always a high scorer from the wine press, the 2015 is not yet rated but based on previous vintages it will probably be in the 93+ range. ($129.00 net).