7 Things We Would Have Loved to Pour for You At Our 2021 GPT

7 Things We Would Have Loved to Pour for You At Our 2021 GPT
Think of this as our monthly answer to, ’so what have you been into lately?’ — fresh updates from Portfolio Managers with unfiltered intel on why we’re drinking what we are.

9 Things We Would Have Loved to Pour for You At Our 2021 GPT 10
Our own Erica Skurnik at our first-ever Cincinnati Grand Portfolio Tasting last year!

Last year we kicked off the new decade with our 2020 Grand Portfolio Tastings, an inimitable series of events that we host, in any typical year, in NYC, Cincinnati, LA, & SF. And, in any typical year, almost two-hundred of our suppliers, new friends and longtime partners alike, travel from all corners of the earth to tour these cities with us and share the fruits of their labor. It’s during these annual events that partners and customers are able to come and taste their favorites, new releases, and expand their minds to new categories.

Our portfolios continue represent a breadth and depth of selections that we are endlessly proud of; we believe that every producer, country, and category that we represent further elevates the conversation on what it means to drink wine, spirits, sake, and cider. So despite the fact that we are not able to host you in a physical way to test our latest wine, spirits, cider, and sake additions, we’re compelled to share with you, in the spirit of our Grand Portfolio Tastings, some selections that we can’t get enough of — specifically to spotlight producers or SKUs that we’ve taken on in the past year.

Today we’re sharing a spirit, a sake, and wines from across the globe that we would have loved to pour for you during our very hypothetical 2021 Grand Portfolio Tasting. We wish we were reliving the magic again this March, but understand that the sheer anticipation of our next meeting will make it that much more special.



PAX Syrah ‘North Coast’ 2019

Wine and Spirit Label 1
Pax Wines, established in 2000 by Pax and Pamela Mahle, focuses on Syrah and Gamay Noir from cool, coastal sites, as well as a selection of esoteric varieties that showcase the great diversity of California wine. In his early vintages, he was known for his rich and powerful expressions of Syrah, but over the years as he began working with new vineyard sources in cooler, coastal areas of Sonoma, his style took a major turn to fresher, lower alcohol wines. His wines today are balanced and elegant, with a nod to the Old World.

From the vineyard to the cellar, a low-intervention style of winemaking is practiced. All the fruit is carefully selected from thoughtful growers that farm sustainably without the use of chemicals to produce healthy grapes with balanced acids and sugars.  No additives are applied in the winery, the wines are all crushed by foot and hand, and the wines are fermented using only native yeasts.

This 100% Syrah is a blend of components from all of Pax’s favorite vineyard sources on the North Coast. The wine presents aromas of black pepper, plum, blackberries, black olives, and fresh pomegranate.  The palate is layered with texture and offers spicy black, exotic blue and vibrant red fruits, black pepper, and white flowers. The cool-climate vineyards craft a medium bodied wine with spicy tannins and firmness that is long and refreshing. This wine will be perfect at your next BBQ or pizza night.Ryan O'Rourke, USA Portfolio Associate

Wine and Spirit Label 2
Whether fact or fiction, family legend suggests that winemaker Peter-Allan Finlayson’s great grandmother, Agnes Floyd, arrived to South Africa alone at only 14 years of age and became the first woman in Cape Town with a driver’s license. Fittingly named after his resilient great grandmother, ‘The Agnes’ Chardonnay 2018 is sourced from five distinct vineyard sites in the regions of both Hemel-en-Aarde and Overberg.

The wine exhibits a laser-like focus thanks to its high acid and aging in larger neutral French barrel. Despite South Africa’s reputation for warmer temperatures, this wine exemplifies everything I love about cool-climate Chardonnay with a nose reminiscent of lemon curd and a chalky minerality that provides it the structure needed to age gracefully for years to come. Given that Crystallum is new to the portfolio as of March 1st, I would have loved to surprise customers with this exciting addition!Cody Stephenson, World Portfolio Manager

Wine and Spirit Label 3
We wish we could be pouring the ‘Muros Antigos’ range from Portuguese legend Anselmo Mendes. He’s justly known as a master of Alvarinho (he’s famously nicknamed ‘Mr. Alvarinho’) but as it happens he’s got quite the golden touch with Loureiro as well, a dramatically different though equally beautiful variety indigenous the Minho district of northern Portugal.

100% Loureiro from choice, south-facing parcels on granite in the Lima Valley. Hand-harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeast in tank with a 4-month elevage on the lees.Max Working, Greece, Spain Portugal Cider Portfolio Manager

The 2019 Loureiro Muros Antigos Escolha, in bottle about two months when tasted, comes in with 1.5 grams of residual sugar, 6.7 grams of total acidity and 12% alcohol. Continuing a trend, this seems just a bit fresher and crisper than last year’s version. The grapes are all sourced from the Lima Valley, the area most famed for Loureiro… I hate to just keep repeating myself in scoring, but Anselmo is pretty consistent with this bottling…90 Points, Mark Squires, Wine Advocate


Tavignano Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico ‘Villa Torre’ 2019

Wine and Spirit Label 4

The Tavignano wines just reached our shores a few days ago and their arrival marks the debut entry of the Verdicchio di Castello di Jesi appellation to the Skurnik portfolio.

The 2019 ‘Villa Torre’ is rich with ripe stone fruits and splendidly floral, its depth buoyed by a vibrant energy and briskness that speaks to its origins, nestled between mountain and sea.  It’s such a pleasure and a welcomed addition to our book!Jared McGuire, Asst. Italian Portfolio Manager

Wine and Spirit Label 5

The beauty of Arnaud Mortet’s Ma Cuvée can be credited to its two main components, village sites focused in the east, which give a lush and definitive finesse and elegance to the wine, and village sites focused in the south, which provide a serious dose of aromatic spicy licorice, depth, and length.

The eastern parcels come primarily from the small gallet, gravel and clay mixed sites deposited years ago from the imposing La Combe Lavaux. This ancient fault long ago spilled way down below the RN74 and formed two of the top sites to the east La Justice and Les Platieres that represent about ¼ of the blend.

The southern parcels are dominated by noble limestone/clay in the high rent district just below the band of cherished Grand Crus. The sites – Les Epointures, En Jouise, and Clos de Arche – make up about 70% of this wine and are situated very close to the chalky mother rock. This dominant part gives the balanced power that is the heart of Ma Cuvée. To bring it all together there is some structure delivered from the rocky and thicker clay of Les Champerriers.

The blend is a brilliantly layered, voluptuous, and generous Gevrey-Chambertin that wraps the iron fist in layers of silk and velvet. Long, luxurious and a wine for today and many years to come!David Hinkle, Chief French Officer

Wine and Spirit Label 6
Last year we started partnering with sake makers in Japan directly, working closely with them to bring their sake here in the best condition possible and at the best possible price. They were excited to visit New York for the first time, meet fans of their work in person and show the fruits of their labor. While we’ll have to wait a bit to see them in person again, we do get to enjoy some of those terrific sake they would have brought to our Grand Portfolio Tasting.

One item we just debuted recently is the Toyo Bijin ‘Ichiban Matoi’ Junmai Daiginjo by master sake maker Taka Sumikawa. Made from Grade A Yamada Nishiki rice he has carefully sourced from some of the best rice farmers in Japan, Sumikawa teases out a wild array of flavors with lush strawberry and melon flavors coming to the fore. This is the type of gorgeous aromatic sake that really shines when served in a wine glass. While we’ll have to wait a bit longer to share some in person with Sumikawa-san in the meantime we’ll be thinking of him and appreciating this complex, layered brew on our side of the world.Jamie Graves, Japanese Beverage Portfolio Manager


Wine and Spirit Label 7
In-person tastings are always such a great place for hometown favorites like Neversink Spirits (located in Port Chester, NY) to shine. I’m sure founders Yoni Rabino and Noah Braunstein would’ve loved the chance to show off the newest addition to the Neversink Range—an aged gin, distilled from 100% NY-grown apples like Neversink’s flagship gin, but rested in barrels that previously held Neversink Apple Aperitif. The weather in New York right now is primed for a barrel-aged gin; toasted spices and a creamy, almost custardy finish feel comforting in a cold snap while juniper and citrus notes tease out the promise of spring. Although this gin is beautiful in a Martinez or topped with a really good cream soda, I’ve been enjoying it neat, curled up near the window in a warm patch of sun.Amanda Elder, Spirits Content & Education Manager

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