Wine On Wheels: Saturday, May 2nd


Saturday, May 2nd

City Winery

1-4 PM

Le Du’s own Yannick Benjamin, along with his partner Alex Elegudin, founded the Wheeling Forward Foundation in order to provide guidance and assistance to people with disabilities.  Through mentoring and support, Wheeling Forward aims to help disabled individuals achieve their life goals.

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The Wine on Wheels Fundraiser brings together some of the top Sommeliers from across New York City in a wine tasting of EPIC SCALE.  With over 175 wines for tasting, poured by a Who’s Who of New York’s top wine professionals, Wine on Wheels has not only become one of the indispensable wine events of the year but every dollar raised goes directly to Wheeling Forward!

“Wheeling Forward steps in to help recently disabled people that lack a support system and resources to obtain the services they need. We know that disability impacts every person’s life differently and work to address each person’s diverse needs. As people adapt to life with a long term disability, Wheeling Forward helps them navigate the health and social service systems on the way to an active life in the community.”  

Click here to purchase tickets and for information about the V.I.P Hour, Seminars, and Silent Auction.  Through April 22nd, enter the code Early2015 for 10% Off!

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Some Years, the Stars Align: Mastrojanni Brunello 201

Some years the stars align and provide us a with a great harvest pretty much all around. 2010 is that sort of vintage with World Class wines produced in some of the greatest wine regions in Europe: Burgundy, Bordeaux, Piedmont all shined in the magical vintage and now comes out a slew of superb wines from Brunello di Montalcino. A Tsunami of wines this great from Europe hasn’t been seen since 1985!

Mastrojanni is wine we’ve been proud to work with for many years.  We’ve always found it to be a consistently high-quality example of Brunello, yet it’s always hovered somewhere below the radar of popular and critical recognition.  All that changed with the 2010.

Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino 2010 – ($65.00) SOLD OUT


97 pts, Vinous Media

Drinking window: 2018 – 2040

The 2010 Brunello di Montalcino is gorgeous. Vibrant and alive in the glass, the 2010 is impeccable in its balance. Sweet red cherry, plum, smoke, tobacco and Mediterranean herbs are some of the notes that are laced together in a Brunello of exquisite beauty. Rose petal, mint and a host of floral/savory notes develop in the glass. The expansive, broad finish is a thing of beauty. The very best qualities of the year come through loud and clear in a mysterious, seductive Brunello that will provide fabulous drinking over the next 20-30 years. What a fabulous and noble wine the 2010 is.

The growing season was optimal. Although it started with rain during flowering in June, it was followed by a cool, even Summer, a small heat spike in late August followed by a beautiful and luminous September. Harvest in most areas took place between the last week of September into the first 10 days of October.

“It was a perfect growing season, relatively warm during the maturation phase, with pronounced day and night temperature changes that allowed us to wait for the best phenolic maturation ever attained at our estate,” says Francesco Ripaccioli of Canalicchio di Sopra

Montalcino is a medieval hilltop town whose name derives from the Latin Mons Ilcinus meaning the Hill of oak trees in reference to the many holm oak trees that still surrounds the fortified city. Originally praised for the quality of its sweet wines made from the Moscadello grape, it is only in the 1860’s that vintners started experimenting with red grapes, eventually leading to the creation of Brunello di Montalcino.

The vineyard area of Montalcino resembles a square 10 miles wide delimited by the Orcia, Asso and Ombrone rivers. Within these boundaries 4 major slopes rise to form a ridge, peaking at over 2100ft of elevation. It is no wonder then that Brunello enjoys some dramatic differences in climate and soil within the confines of this large appellation. Although Sangiovese produces more complex and age worthy wines at higher altitudes when cultivated too high the vines can have trouble ripening in difficult years.

For a more comprehensive list of our Brunello 2010 offerings, contact me directly at or click here for what’s in stock.  Le Du’s offers free delivery in Manhattan for purchase over $200 and shipping to 42 states! 




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Presenting: Le Du’s Spring Rosé Sampler Pack!

At long last, spring is here and this year’s rosés are finally starting to arrive.  We thought we’d celebrate by putting together a mixed case of our first arrivals to help you celebrate.  Our April rosé sampler pack includes two bottles each of the following six wines from France, Slovenia, and Long Island.  Check it out!

Le Du’s Spring Rosé Sampler Pack – $200

Coeur Esterelle Cotes de Provence Rosé

esterelleA light, expressively floral textbook Provencal Rosé with notes of field flowers, cassis, and just a dash of mineral finish.

 Domaine Reuilly Rosé Pinot Gris

jamain_reuilly_pinotgris_11_hi_resA most unusual rosé made from the pink-skinned Pinot Gris.  Racy, with notes of apricot, white peach, and lychee, and characteristic Pinot Gris spice.

 Chateau de Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé

miravalA beautifully pale pink color, with a nose of wild strawberry and stone fruit, with delicate floral touches. Great palate texture, with soft tangerine and peach notes joining layers of berry fruit. The 17th-century Miraval estate is located in the Var region of Provence, and was bought by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 2009 and extensively renovated.

 Domaine Lauverjat Sancerre Rosé

lauverjatMade from Pinot Noir by longtime grower but newly minted winemaker Karine Lauverjat, this Sancerre Rosé is wonderfully expressive with notes of wild strawberries, fresh raspberries, and, of course, the tell-tale minerality of Sancerre.

Channing Daughters Cabernet Franc Rosato

Rosato Cab Franc 09On first waft, there are notes of rose petals and cherries in the distance. The entry is soft and elegant, with vibrant strawberry and the suggestion of garden herbs. Firm weight comes as pleasant surprise in the mid-palate, reminding you this is indeed Cab Franc, but the finish flips back to the light loveliness of the beginning. It’s like they made a Provençal style Rosé in the Loire Valley!

 Vinakoper Capris Rosé Refošk

rose_brez_letnikaRefošk is the same grape as Northern Italy’s Refosco d’Istria.  Deep pink in color with cherry red shades, this wine has subdued acidity and flavors of fresh berries and red fruits such as raspberries, cherries, and red currant.

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5 Reasons to come to the Saturday Wine Seminar and Walk -Around Tasting

Every Saturday Le Du’s Wines hosts its weekly Saturday Seminars from 3:30pm-4:00pm. In my humble opinion, we host some of the most diverse and interesting tastings in the city and here is the best part, they are all FREE. Almost every day someone asks me where and how they can learn more about wine, and they are often surprised to hear about our free seminars.  I thought that I would spread the word and list five reasons for why you should make it a point to come on down to the best Saturday wine tasting in all of NYC.

1). Tasting a selection of wines is the best way to increase your wine knowledge as it allows you to compare different wines and develop a context for varieties and regions.  We decided to promote a Noble Grapes tasting series for this reason.  For each week we have picked a noble grape and showcased how different regions affect the characteristics of the grape.  Three seminars remain: Chenin Blanc, Syrah, and Riesling.

2) At Le Du’s we strive to provide unique, rare, and exciting wines—“Not just the same old selection.” We offer some of the most unique and well thought out selections that you generally only find in NYC’s top restaurants. We pride ourselves on representing small production producers that offer some of the most unique characteristics and represent the terroir of the region that they are from. The shop continues to expand its knowledge and offerings, and there is a reason why we have been nominated Zagat’s #1 Wine Shop in NYC. We are continually learning about wine and are proud to work in an industry where the pursuit of wine knowledge and education is infinite.  We are humbled by all of this and are always searching to learn something new.

3)We have among the best staff in the city who have worked in some of the top restaurants and retail shops in the United States. Duncan McRoberts will be one of the lead lecturers and will take you on a journey through Germany, Austria, and his other love of spirits. Duncan has over 5 years of retail experience working at Astor Wines & Spirits and comes with a culinary background. Our most recent addition, Matthew Beaton, recently worked at Blenheim Restaurant in the West Village and also adds a different dimension from the rest of the staff: he worked a full harvest at Penner-Ash in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and he will be conducting seminars on viticulture and vinification, as well as leading seminars on the Pacific Northwest and the Iberian Peninsula. Finally I, Yannick, bring over 20 years of both restaurant and wine experience working at places such as Le Cirque, Jean-Georges, Felidia, and Oceana. I was able to hone my craft by participating in over 20 Sommelier Competitions and finishing as high as 2nd and 3rd Best Sommelier in America. Some of my favorite subjects include food and wine pairings; the Rhone Valley; Burgundy and Bordeaux; Australia; and the exploration of soil and its effects.

Come Meet the Big 3!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yannick Benjamin, Matthew Beaton, and Duncan McRoberts all at your service!

4) After the Seminar is over one of our staff members would be happy to give you a personalized tour of the shop and take the time to hand-select the best wines that fit your taste and personality. We will also take you to the back of the wine shop in our ‘Wine Cave’ where we have some of the most iconic and rare wines in the world.

5) Looking for a place to meet your friends and family or looking for a good date idea?  What is more romantic than tasting wine?  Plus we are conveniently located in the heart of the West Village and some of the best restaurants are here. Places like the Little Owl, Market Table, Sant Ambroeus, The Spotted Pig, and Wallsé are all a stone’s throw away. For another great idea, after the seminar is over you can take a casual walk down the pier or enjoy the view on top of the High Line park in the Meatpacking District.

Well we hope that this was somewhat convincing and that this will at least make you consider to come down to our humble establishment and get your wine education on!!!!


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Azelia Barolo 2004

“Readers looking for a first-rate Barolo producer whose pricing has remained very fair need look no further than the wines of Azelia and proprietor Luigi Scavino.”

Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Call it kismet.  There I was, staring at our Italian section, feeling rather impressed with our selections, yet thinking how the only thing missing was some aged Barolo.  So, I started making phone calls.  On my fourth importer, a hit, a very palpable hit!  It seems a small shipment of 2004 Baroli from one of our favorite producers had only recently hit the city.

If you don’t know the name Azelia, you’re not alone.  Like his famous cousin, Enrico Scavino (of Paolo Scavino fame), Luigi has been consistently producing top-level Baroli since the late 80s.  Unlike his more famous cousin, Luigi isn’t…well…famous.  Galloni calls them one of the “under-the-radar jewels” of Piedmonte.  For me, 2010 was my eye-opening Azelia experience.  Tasting with Luigi’s son, Lorenzo, I was blown back by the quality of wine and humility of purpose.  We committed immediately only to find out they were some of the highest rated Baroli of the year!

With things like this, we have to order blind, hoping against hope the wine is as good as our dreams.  I took a bottle home last Friday and almost broke my arm patting myself on the back J  This is gorgeous, perfectly aged Barolo done in a hyper-traditional style.  It took around an hour for it to soften but once it did, OH BOY!

“The best 2004s are so good I wanted to break into song.”

Tim Atkins MW, The Guardian

As for 2004, it is, without doubt, a great vintage.  A near perfect growing season fashioned stellar wines with extreme ageing potential.  The only reason it is not the best vintage of our young century is because 2010 exists, though the main difference is a slightly longer hangtime in 2004 hence a slightly richer, more unctuous style so it might just come down to a matter of preference!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to offer these little gems.  It’s not every day I get to talk about top-tier Barolo from a great vintage for an utterly reasonable price.  With 10+ years of bottle age, these are drinking beautifully now but, especially in the case of the San Rocco, have at least another decade ahead.  Only 5 cases are available so it’s first come, first serve!

Azelia Barolo 2004  $60.00 [Net pricing]

In Asia #1109
Nov 2009
Lisa Perrotti-Brown 91 Drink: 2009 – 2017
Medium garnet colour with a slight brick rim. Enticing aromas of crushed cherries, raspberries, game, potpourri, star anise, Sichuan pepper and cassia. The palate gives a nice contrast of crisp acidity and rich fruit with a medium to firm level of finely grained tannins. Long finish with lots of fruit and savoury layers. Drink now to 2017. Tasted June 2009.
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The Legacy of Jimi Brooks: Brooks Pinot Noir 2012

 “One of the best wine stories in the Northwest is how excellent wines continue to be made under the Brooks name…”

– Cole Danehower, Northwest Palate Magazine 

So here is the story: Jimi Brooks was a beloved and talented winemaker said to be “one of the nicest people you would ever want to drink wine with.” He made his bones working for names like WillaKenzie and Maysara, while also producing his own label on the side.  By 2004 Jimi was successfully growing his brand and focusing on biodynamic techniques when he tragically died of heart failure at the age of 38.  The Brooks name passed on to Jimi’s 8 year old son, Pascal, who became the world’s youngest owner of a winery.  Jimi’s sister, Janie Brooks-Heuck, left her home and career to support her late brother’s dream.  It was September, and his grapes were just about to ripen.  His close friends in the winemaking industry mourned the loss by picking and vinifying his grapes.  Throughout the valley winemakers banded together to keep the Brooks label alive.   

Brooks 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $23.99  

Layers of bright cherries, tart cherry pie, and suggestions of darker bramble fruit introduce this articulate wine.  Fresh throughout, with hints of earth, forest floor, and washed pebbles on the back. One for the most compelling aspects of this wine is its weaving of generous fruit with clean acidity and supple tannins. Brooks displays a precise amount of extract here.  At once generous and nuanced.  It is a great expression of the 2012 vintage. 

“Brooks Wines has truly been an extraordinary collaboration

of friendship, family and spirit…” – Janie Brooks Heuck

Now for those of you who know me, you might recall that I began my journey in the wine industry working as an intern for the 2012 vintage in Oregon. And I have to say that the Brooks 12 is one of (if not the definitive) best values from the vintage.  2012 was sunny and dry.  And while some expressions appear to be perhaps a bit over ripe, the best wines walk the narrow tightrope between generous and fresh.  And Brooks does just this. So there you have it, a fantastic wine and a bittersweet story about the people who helped make it.  You can’t ask more from a wine, or for that matter from life itself.

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The Top Ten Vineyards of California: Pinot/Chard Edition

For anyone who loves California wine it is an era of plenty.  I realized that recently when I was thinking about single vineyards.  15 years ago, single vineyard designates were a rare thing in California.  There were a few outliers, to be sure, but the majority of wines released were multi-vineyard blends, or at the very least, weren’t specified.  My entry into the wine business, in the early 21st century, coincided with the rise of the California single vineyard.  Thus, I have always associated California with specific ideas about terroir.  I learned about California wine through the prism of single vineyards.  And as I sought a deeper understanding, I thought to myself, “I’ll order a book about this.  Surely someone has written a definitive account of the single vineyards of California!”  Turns out, no such book exists.

So, I thought I’d do my part.  I’m going to outline what, to my mind, are the Top Ten Single Vineyards in California.  This time, it’s Pinot Noir & Chardonnay.  We’ll get to Cabernet in a few weeks.  Please keep in mind, these are based on my own experiences.  I’ve been lucky enough to consistently taste some of the great Pinot and Chard produced in California over the last ten years.  Based on that, these are the vineyards which make the wines which I consistently experience as profound.

So, without further ado, here is my Top Ten Single Vineyards for Pinot Noir & Chardonnay in California!

(Alphabetical Order)

Cerise (Anderson Valley)


One of two Anderson Valley vineyards on this list, Cerise is located high in the hills around Boonville.  Anderson Valley is an interesting appellation.  Surprisingly cool, because of the influence of the sea, especially in the higher altitudes, it functioned as a secret enclave of top-flight producers looking to produce taut, refined Pinot and Chard.  At the same time, there has been some stylistic flip-flopping, where some Anderson Valley producers have pushed for greater ripeness.  In my experience, there is an enigmatic animale quality to Cerise when young.  It is certainly a vineyard which rewards ageing.  As the more savage elements subside with time, the elegant and supple fruit, which was always present, shows itself best with 3-5 years in the bottle, and you’re left with rustic beauty which has no need to shout.

Top Expressions:



Charles Heintz (Sonoma Coast)


Charles Heintz Vineyard upends what is traditionally viewed as the Sonoma Coast style.  These are consistently big wines.  Keep in mind, there was a time when Zinfandel grew very well here.  The vineyard has been in the Heintz family since before prohibition.  It went through a long period with no grapes planted.  It was only the early 80s which saw Charlie Heintz planting Chard and Pinot.  For me, it is the Chard which lands them on this list.  Heintz is consistently one of the latest Sonoma Coast vineyards to be picked, generally leading to unctuous weight and tropical flavors, yet still retaining the pointed acidity for which the AVA is known.  The Chards from Charles Heintz are gorgeous, curvy wines with just the right balance of hedonism and harmony.

Top Expressions:



Hirsch (Sonoma Coast)


Perhaps the most inarguable name on this list, Hirsch Vineyard is THE benchmark vineyard of the Sonoma Coast (and arguably the whole of California when it comes to Pinot Noir).  David Hirsch essentially created the True Sonoma Coast when he proved, planting first in 1980, great Pinot Noir could be made in what was, at the time, thought to be a marginal climate.  These are consistently some of the most cellar-worthy Pinot out of America, communicating with extreme precision the taut focus and mineral spine of this unforgiving landscape.  Rarely particularly accessible whilst young, over time what Hirsch lacks in grace, it makes up for in sheer complexity.

Top Expressions:

Hirsch Vineyards


Hudson (Carneros)


Whenever I think of Hudson Vineyard, I think of Texas.  Probably it’s the picture hanging up in the lobby of Patz & Hall of Lee Hudson in a cowboy hat (his family are oil men from the Lone Star State).  But his Chardonnay has that Big Country feel to it.  Lee was a UC Davis classmate of, amongst others, Randall Graham, John Kongsgaard, Tim Mondavi, and David Graves (Founder of Saintsbury).  He planted in Carneros when Carneros barely existed.  His Chard always puts forth a boisterous personality but with plenty of depth in the undergrowth.  Depending on the producer, they can border on flamboyant but if there was an equivalent of a top Meursault vineyard in California, it would be Hudson.

Top Expressions:



Hyde  (Carneros)


Just down the road from Hudson, Hyde vineyard is one of the greatest vineyards in California which no one seems to talk about too much.  Larry Hyde is a legend of viticulture.  He helped to develop some of the clones of Pinot and Chard (Hyde-Wente & Hyde-Calera) which have served as the backbone of the 21st century explosion of quality in California.  There is nothing flashy about his fruit but there is always sublimity.  I consider great expressions of his Chardonnay to be quintessentially California.  They veer towards the tropical/marmalade/candy-citrus fruit profile but then the acidity comes rushing forward to keep everything in check.  His Pinot, which you don’t see very often, are the most underrated in California.  They are lush yet quiet wines with soft tannins, stunning purity, and awesome cellar potential.

Top Expressions:

Patz & Hall

Paul Hobbs

Marcassin  (Sonoma Coast)


I struggled with whether or not to put monopole vineyards on this list but then Jean-Luc made a great point.  “Not putting Monopoles would be like ranking Burgundy vineyards without including Romanee-Conti”.  Which is a good point and a good comparison.  Marcassin is the vineyard (and winery) of all-world winemaker Helen Turley and titan of viticulture John Wetlaufer.  Around 20 acres of land, 2/3 of which is planted to Pinot, 1/3 to Chardonnay, make up the entirety.  Helen and John keep a lot of the details to themselves, and they don’t sell on any of their fruit, so there is only the wine to judge the vineyard.  With that in mind, these are stupendous.  They are undoubtedly some of the most magnificent wines made in California.  They aren’t shy in style, as anyone who knows some of Helen Turley’s former gigs (Bryant, Colgin, Peter Michael, etc.) could probably guess.  But Wetlaufer prefers extremely dense plantings, creating very low yielding fruit, with late harvest times in a cool climate.  Ms. Turley takes over and crafts wines which are powerful, rich, and gorgeous.

Top Expressions:


Peay  (Sonoma Coast)


Peay is the vineyard equivalent of the hotel from The Shining.  My lady and I visited last September and after driving up for nearly two hours, we reached one of the most challenging, and potentially profound, vineyards in California.  Andy and Nick Peay re-purposed an old apple orchard on the FAR Sonoma Coast to mostly Pinot and Chard about 15 years ago.  In the coldest years, they struggle to ripen their grapes fully but the rest of the time they are consistently producing, to use a sorry cliché, the most Chablisian style of Chardonnay in the state.  We were fortunate enough to have Nick Peay (the viticulturalist) and Vanessa Wong (the winemaker, formerly of Peter Michael) in for a dinner last year, and we tasted through some older vintages.  They age with the slow grace of traditional Burgundy but with the joyous roundness of California.

Top Expressions:

Peay Vineyards


Ritchie  (Russian River)


Ritchie is a wonderfully old-school Chardonnay vineyard.  Planted in 1972 by Kent Ritchie, the vines are widely spaced, which was the fashion at the time though these days closer spacing, creating naturally lower yields, is in vogue.  Fortunately, the vines at Ritchie are averaging 30+ years at this point so the yields keep themselves in check.  If you’re looking for proto-typically Russian River Chardonnay, this is the spot.  The Goldridge Soil creates the unique mineral-driven finish of RRV but, unlike some of the lesser vineyards in the appellation, there is a strong coastal influence which keeps ripeness in check.  The specific fruit flavor profile varies slightly from producer to producer (with always a nod towards the green orchard side of the spectrum) but what is always consistent is the wonderfully dense extract and the great natural acidity.  I haven’t been lucky enough to taste many older bottles of Ritchie but everything I know tells me these are built for the long haul and deserve a place in any great cellar.

Top Expressions:



Sanford & Benedict (Santa Barbara)

Sanford Benedict

Like Hyde and Ritchie, Sanford & Benedict is a trailblazer.  Like Hirsch, it essentially created an appellation (Santa Rita Hills AVA).  Like every vineyard listed above, it lies in a small, cool micro-climate, supremely influenced by the ocean.  Sanford & Benedict consistently defies my expectations.  Perhaps I have a skewed understanding of Santa Barbara but I’m always expecting a lush, fun and fruity wine.  What I have consistently experienced is restraint, grace, and sublime femininity.  I will say, in my experience, it doesn’t take well to new American oak.  Fortunately, the new wave of producers now making fruit of S&B are from the less oak is best school of winemaking.  Of all the Chardonnay focused vineyards on this list, Sanford & Benedict is the most delicate in delivery.

Top Expressions:

Au Bon Climat


Savoy (Anderson Valley)


Last but not certainly least, Savoy is a personal favorite.  Planted in the mid-90s by Rich Savoy and none other than Ted Lemon, of Littorai fame, Savoy, for me, is one of the most consistently delightful sources of Pinot Noir in California.  No matter the producer, I respond viscerally to this particular terroir.  One of the hidden little secrets about modern California viticulture is the “By the Acre” contract.  Basically, a high-quality producer comes in and says, “I’ll pay you the same amount of money per acre, no matter how many grapes I end up getting, as long as we can farm to my specifications.”  Rich Savoy was one of the first farmers to really get hip to this idea.  He has embraced multi-clonal selections, depending on the micro-block terroir.  Very recently, Savoy was purchased by top-tier Napa producer, Cliff Lede, but none of the long-term contracts seem to be affected.  Savoy is consistently rich, with chewy fruit, soft yet potent tannins, and bright acidity.  Basically, everything you’d want if you’re hoping a Pinot will go the distance.  Expressions of Savoy are hauntingly delicious when young (requiring a great deal of discipline to give them time to age) but anyone who puts top level Savoy down for a long sleep will be treated to a profound experience.

Top Expressions:

Radio Coteau


What do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Did I leave anything off?  I’d love to hear from you.  Have a great holiday and thanks for listening!

With High Regards,

JT Robertson

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