Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 27, 2021

Latest Review

2019 Vigne Surrau, Naracu, Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, Sardinia, Italy.
Located in Porto Cervo, in Arzachena, on the Island of Sardinia Vigne Surrau is a new producer to me and I tasted through their exciting range of red and white wines, finding them all delicious and expressive bottlings, with this entry level 100% Grenache Naracu Cannonau di Sardegna DOC really standing out for quality and value, along with their range of Vermentinos that go from bright and fresh to deep and luxurious. The Vigne Surrau Naracu is a dark ruby/garnet in the glass and has a full and fruit forward nose and pleasingly weighted palate with satiny layers of sweet red berry fruit, showing strawberry, plum and brambly raspberry along with a touch of peony, minty anise, mocha and dusty spices. The winery notes, Naracu refer to fortresses that were once built by ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, hence the name Naracu (or Nuraghe), these ruins can still be found across the island of Sardegna, which was a coveted trading post that has been ruled by dozens of different empires, including Spain and France, before finally being controlled by Italy in the late 1800s. The Naracu is the most open of the set of wines here at Surrau and easy to enjoy in its youth, it goes great with a wide selection of cuisine, though great with Sardinia’s local specialities from sea foods to gamey lamb dishes, its fruity nature goes great with the rustic dishes here and or where you are. I really enjoyed it with cheeses and grilled meats when I tasted it and was impressed by how it gained complexity with air, it is a supple version of this grape and serious for the price. The Vigne Surrau Naracu Cannonau di Sardegna DOC came from the classic sandy and granite influenced soils, sourced from 20 year old sustainable vines and fermented and aged solely in stainless steel tanks to promote freshness and purity, it saw a short elevage of about 6 months before bottling and is thus not as early or oaky as the more age worthy bottlings here, but that said I liked this wine just as much!

Sardinia is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and is Italy’s second largest island, after Sicily, it is a rugged and remote mountainous place that has bred a tough and independent people that have a long and proud history, with a long historical claim to Grenache, as it has been on the Island for the better part of a thousand years. While the locals claim that Grenache was born here, most of the wine world believe Grenache, which is indigenous to Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, was dispersed around the western Mediterranean by the Aragon kingdom, which ruled Sardegna between 1297 and 1713 and brought here by the Spanish. Oddly, maybe even ironic, and romantically the name Cannonau comes from when Napoleon’s forces concurred the Island, the Spanish defenders fought to the last cannon ball, earning the respect of the native population that then called Grenache Cannonau in honor of that bravery! The terroir on Sardinia is a unique mix of rocky and deep sandy soils that are surrounded by unspoiled wilderness, and as the winery notes, oak and cork tree forests and a thorny scrubland of herbs and cacti known as the macchia mediterranea. In stark contrast to the harsh interior, the island has over 1,200 miles of jagged coastline, which is home to some of the most pristine beaches of the Mediterranean, which the locals have to share with the rich and famous that keep building holiday villas. In one of these spectacular coastal settings is Costa Smeralda or the Emerald Coast, which is located in the northeast corner of the island, it is home to the largest and most important wine zone in Sardegna, this is the Gallura zone, famous mostly for Vermentino. Gallura was the first and only Sardinian DOCG, it means “stony area” which aptly describes the granite-based soils that gives these wines their mineral focus, while the terroir provides lush ripeness. Most of the best Grenache or Cannonau is grown on sand, very much like parts of Chateauneuf du Pape and or California’s Contra Costa County, making for dense fruited wines like this beauty from Surrau!
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 26, 2021

2020 Desire Lines Wine Co, Evangelho Red Wine, Contra Costa County.
This wine, by Cody Rasmussen at Desire Lines Wine Co, is an inky purple joy in the glass with a deep dark berry and peony nose inviting you in and a full bodied old vine Carignan led palate to complete the seduction of your senses showing crushed blackberries, juicy plum, black cherry jam and tangy currant fruits that are accented by a touch of ground pepper, dried sage, cedar and a hint of minty herb. The texture is round, smooth and supple, making for an easy quaffer, but with with a nice sense of energy and a little bit of crunch from the use of partial whole bunches that gives just the right amount of earthiness and mineral tones. For those that love Zin and or Grenache, you’ll be thrilled with this wine that was made from 90% Old Vine Carignan and 10% Mourvedre sourced from the historic Evangelho Vineyard set on the deep sandy soils of the Contra Costa region. Rasmussen, who is the assistant winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Bedrock Wine Company, is one of top rising stars in the state and his and his wife Emily’s Desire Lines Wine Co is crafting an stellar set of limited edition wines, including this one that is fast becoming one of my favorites, as well as two signature Syrah bottlings, one from the Shake Ridge Ranch in Amador and the other from Griffin’s Lair in the Petaluma Gap, both of which are outstanding efforts, along with a fantastic Dry Riesling, as well as a few other specialties. This wine is expressively Californian, but my old world wine drinking friends will see a similarity to some French country wine classics, especially those that drink Corbieres, with this vintage really proving the same sort of thrill that I find in the gorgeous and slightly rustic Maxime Magnon wines, in particular his “Campagnès,” which is from a single vineyard of the hundred-year-old Carignan. I love this tasty Evangelho Red, it is an awesome value too and it goes great with the Fall season and robust cuisine.

The Evangelho Vineyard now over 120 years old, as mentioned here, is now owned by Cody’s boss Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell of Bedrock Wine Co. was originally planted by Manuel Viera back in the 1890s and mainly farmed by Frank Evangehlo and his family for most of its storied history. The vines are located in Antioch just a mile upstream from the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and only a few hundred yards south of the water’s edge. These old vines, Cody explains, are planted on what could be considered coastal dunes comprised of weathered granitic sand blown and washed out of the Sierra Nevada over millennia. This is one of the most unique terroirs in California with its ultra depleted, well draining heavy Oakley sand, this soil type is termed Delhi sand and it has protected and comfortingly wrapped these wines to perfection, making for some spectacular wines, like this one and the Heritage Red from his boss at Bedrock. Rasmussen says the 2020 Evangelho Red Wine sits between the zesty 2018 and (modestly) richer 2019, stylistically and is linear and fresh like the 2018, but a touch silkier on the palate, with a hint of the fruit sweetness and youthful exuberance that characterizes the 2019 version. The Evangelho red wine was fermented with 30% whole cluster under a submerged cap and aged for ten months in neutral 400L Puncheons ( used French big barrels), that Cody loves for his Carignan. He adds that these bigger casks retain freshness and purity and builds tension like all large format barrels, but with a less reductive tendency than the 500L and 600L barrels that he prefers for his awesome Syrahs and his small lot Bandol like Mourvèdre. The Carignan, according to Rasmussen, gives the wine a singular juiciness and floral and red-fruit aromas, with a soft tannin profile and vibrant acidity, which I certainly agree with and his inclusion of cluster as noted above, delivers spice to the nose, while the small portion of carbonic maceration and Mourvèdre add flesh to this delicious stuff.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 25, 2021

2017 Domaine Sylvain Pataille, Bourgogne AC, Red Burgundy, France.
The wonderfully expressive and quaffable 2017 Bourgogne bottling from Marsannay’s iconic Sylvain Pataille is a lovely red Burgundy with surprising depth and density that seduces the senses with its floral nose and bright and tangy, but silky red fruits that are nicely accompanied by some peppery spices and driving structural acidity. Air brings supple mouth feel and more refinement, though it still remains perky and minerally fresh, making for an impressive Burgundy for the price and it is excellent with a meal offering up plenty of stuffing to hold up to some robust cuisine. Sip after sip reveals black cherries, summer plums, brambly raspberry and red currants in a medium bodied Pinot Noir with hints cinnamon, wilted roses, a touch of tilled earth, smoke , dried orange peel and subtle wood notes. It is clear Pataille has it all going in top gear these days and is completing the biodynamic certification, joining the elite producers of the region, if you’ve not had Sylvain’s wines yet, it is time! Pataille does a tidy set of quality wines, these include around 12 distinct Marsannay cuvées, including not only red, white and rosé Marsannay (Marsannay is the only appellation in the Côte d’Or permitted to label as an AC Rosé), but also Aligoté, Passetoutgrain (a Gamay and Pinot Noir blend) and Bourgogne Blanc and this Rouge. There is a lot to enjoy here, it is a fair priced and well crafted Burgundy that is pretty, good with food and has more dimension that would be normally expected for a wine label Bourgogne.

Sylvain Pataille, who, as noted here, consults for a dozen or so high end domaines in Burgundy and founded his own label in 1999, specializes in natural style winemaking and organic farming with his wines coming almost exclusively from vines in the village of Marsannay. Everything Pataille does at his own domaine comes from the Marsannay region and his vines are all organic and biodynamic now. I have been a fan since Pataille’s 2012 vintage and all of the wines in his collection are impressive, but especially his base Marsannay AC (Pinot Noir) and his single Cru versions, like the Clos du Roy, which I reviewed here again recently. As I stated before these wines were stunning when I first tried them, and that impression still holds true after trying this later vintages. Pataille makes his wines with almost no added sulfur (SO2) and follows the style also championed by Philippe Pacalet, though different in detail, without question he is making some of the most delicious natural wines in Burgundy. Pataille’s wines all see natural, indigenous yeast fermentation, in a combination of fiberglass tank and in stainless steel, with his maceration (with partial whole cluster) and primary being relatively short, they last usually only 10-12 days and are rigorously temperature controlled to preserve freshness and clarity of flavors. The wines are then racked into oak barriques with surprisingly enough, about a third being new barrels and then aged for up to 24 months, though usually this Bourgogne is more like 10 to 12 months and seeing less of the new wood. If you’ve not tried these Pataille wines yet, you should chase a few bottles down at the soonest possible chance, they are lovely wines, with this one a solid and reasonable place to start.
($40 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 24, 2021

2020 Terrevive Bergianti, San Vincent, Rosé Sparkling Wine, Emilia Romagna, Italy.
Named after the patron saint of wine, the dry and zesty “San Vincent” is made entirely from the local Sorbara, which, according to the winery, may in fact be related to Pinot Meunier, but little evidence of that can be found, and is mainly known for its presence in Lambrusco wines. Most commonly accepted, is that the grape Lambrusco di Sorbara is an indigenous variety of ancient origin that most likely was a crossing of wild grapes in this region. The Lambrusco di Sorbara produces ruby red colored wines with a pinkish froth and is the lightest of the four red varieties of Lambrusco near the village of Sorbara, between the Secchia and Panaro rivers, around the better known and historic town of Modena, where it is a cherished and celebrated for its delicacy and vitality. Sorbara is regarded as the best of the various specified Lambrusco clones, though due to its natural small yields it tends to be blended with other varietals, especially in full DOC wines, its best qualities include its highly fragrant and floral character, its elegant underlying minerality and its zippy acidity. Winemaker, Gianluca Bergianti employs a low-tech ancient method, adding grape must and nothing else to his dry wines as they’re being bottled for their secondary fermentation. Then Bergianti allows the leftover natural yeasts devour the sugars in the must, creating a gentle natural effervescence in each bottle, which is completed in about three months. This fabulous Rosé sparkling shows fresh ruby grapefruit, tart cherry, gauva, strawberry and peach fruits along with snappy spices, dried herbs, mineral tones and a fine dry saline stoniness all lifted by the vibrant and zesty beading of the creamy mousse. This region has seen an unbelievable rise in quality and elegance with this Terrevive wine, by Gianluca Bergianti, along with Roberto Maestri’s Quarticello, Della Volta and Cleto Chiarli Vecchia Modena, all are very serious and delicious efforts.

Bergianti’s “San Vincent” is a wine made from red grapes produced with the ancestral method of re-fermentation in the bottle and was born as a result of a trip to the Champagne region of France. At first this wine was produced to be enjoyed during the festivals dedicated to San Vincent, the patron saint of vineyards and winemakers, but has now become a wine with worldwide appeal and highly sought after by enthusiasts. The grapes, which are all organically grown, come from vines grown on this regions loamy soils and raised with non intervention methods. After hand harvesting of the Sorbara grapes, fermentation occurs spontaneously with native yeasts in concrete tanks, with the second or re-fermentation happening in the bottle. There was, as the winery notes, no clarification or filtration and only a very small dose sulfur before bottling. The San Vincent frizzante rosato spent two years on the lees, which adds a sensation of depth and gives a richness to the palate. While the local wines, some of which are bottled under the Lambrusco rules, traditionally come in frizzante and spumante forms, and in various levels of sweetness, but Bergianti has gone their own way, inspired by Champagne Boulard, a grower producer of delicious bubbly and maybe why they want to believe there is a relation between Sorbara and Meunier. Gianluca’s “San Vincent” Rosato Frizzante comes from and speaks of Terrevive’s immaculately tended vineyards, all set on the zone’s typical sandy loamy soils, highlighting his obsession with working holistically with the land, it certainly has a sense of place. This crisp bubbly goes great with food, everything from spicy pasta dishes to sea food stews or shellfish, as well as being fun all on its own, this is quality and impressive stuff! These modern Lambrusco Frizzante wines are not your Grandpa’s cheap, rustic and rough versions, these new Lambruscos are stylish and have complex delicacy, I highly recommend discovering this new generation, small production, hand crafted examples.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 23, 2021

2020 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Trocken, Estate, Nahe, Germany.
Donnhoff, based in Oberhäusen on the Nahe, is one of my favorites and I was excited to try this 2020 Estate Trocken to gain insights on the year which is getting quite a lot hype, it delivers the goods with steely crisp detail and depth way beyond its price point, this wine is always a joyous bargain and never disappoints. The Estate Trocken Riesling has an intense mineral dimension and loads of lively acidity, but still provides a pleasing depth of flavors and ripe fruit density, it shows bright citrus upfront and tangy stone fruit, with lime, green apple, tart apricot and zippy quince leading the way here and nicely accented by mouth watering saline, wet stone, flinty spices, bitter herbs, white flowers and lemony verbena. This vintage one not to miss at this place and this “baby” Donnhoff will be your guilt free drinker, while you age the Cru bottlings. Donnhoff’s vineyard sites have a complex combination of soils that goes from classic slate to volcanic, with löss, quartzite, gravelly loams, limestone and sandstones. These soils give each wine their own personality and charm, with the Estate Trocken seeing a mix of sites to showcase the quality of the Donnhoff’s holdings. This refreshing and energy filled Dry Riesling will be great with a range of cuisine choices, though I would love it with oysters and briny dishes and it very enjoyable as a low alcohol sipper as well.

The Dönnhoff are some of the world’s finest and they are certainly are the pride of Germany and their region, the family, as they note, arrived in the Nahe region over 200 years ago, and their modest farm has slowly evolved into a top wine estate. Helmut Dönnhoff was the first to bring international fame to this prestigious winery and has been making wine since 1966, and now Cornelius, his son who is the 4th generation to run this historic property and their amazing collection of VDP Grosse Lagen (Grand Cru) vineyards. Cornelius is one of top vignerons in Europe and his wines, which range from briskly dry, like this bone dry Estate Trocken to the heavenly luscious, from Spatlese to Eiswein, which rivals the world’s great sweet wines, are impeccable terroir driven masterpieces. To preserve laser-like focus and clarity in the wines, Cornelius, as he notes, presses the grapes as soon as possible after picking, all to deliver precision of form. Donnhoff’s wines are fermented in traditional German casks, both in classic 1200L stuckfass and the larger 2400L doppelstuck, as well as in stainless steel tank, as this Estate Trocken was, with spontaneous fermentation(s). Interestingly Donnhoff’s cellar has the capacity to hold all of its production entirely in stainless steel or in wood cask, which gives Cornelius the flexibility to promote each vintage’s character, allowing for the perfect élevage for any wine in the lineup. I am really excited for these 2020s and this was my first taste of the vintage from the Nahe and I was expecting a lot, and this wine exceeded my expectation!
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 22, 2021

2018 Weingut Friedrich Becker, Chardonnay, Schweigen Cru, Pfalz, Germany.
The Becker Schweigen Chardonnay is a mind blowing wine of class, mineral intensity and depth with true wow factor personality and seductive charm, it shows a laser focus that rivals Montee de Tonnere, the Chablis Premier Cru (site) that is one of the world’s great Chardonnay terroir driven vineyards! Thank you to Christian Adams, a German wine specialist, who enthusiastically reps Becker here in California and brought this majestic bottle to me, it really impressed me and while I’m a long time fan of Becker, I mostly have had only his remarkable Pinot Noirs from his estate in the Pfalz that actually straddles the border between Germany and France with his vines set in both countries on mix of sandstones with, as Becker says, gently rising vineyards and surrounded by the serene and picturesque Palatinate forest. Interestingly enough, Becker uses most of his Chardonnay grapes for his Sparkling (Sekt) wines and only selects his absolutely best bunches for this single vineyard Schweigen bottling, making it a rare treat, especially this vintage. The Becker Schweigen Chardonnay has a striking nose of crushed stones, white flowers, hazelnut and a flinty note before opening up on the crisply dry/steely medium bodied palate, delivering divine Chard purity with racy acidity, but with well ripened citrus, delicate peach and classic green apple and Bosc pear fruit. This wine is electric in mouth, again remind me of Chablis, and is accented by clove spice, salty wet rock, subtle wood and brioche, gaining a graceful roundness and opulence with air.

The winemaking at Weingut Friedrich Becker is patient and gentle with each vineyard seeing care hand sorting and the grapes see an even more careful selection in the cellar with the musts starting with spontaneous yeast fermentation in steel tanks, after which Becker racks to barrels for aging, with the 2018 Schweigen Chardonnay seeing about a year in French oak, with up to 40% new wood. The winery is run by father and son, Friedrich (Fritz) senior and junior, and as mentioned, this Weingut makes some of the most compelling Pinot Noirs in Germany, they even mentor and collaborate with other Pinot producers in the country, such is the talents they have with this varietal. The Becker wines were introduced to me by Tim Gaiser, one of the most knowledgable sommeliers in America, and is an expert on Germany’s wines, it was at that time before I’d taken my first trip to the German wine regions and I was so moved by Becker’s and Mayer-Nakel’s Spatburgunders (Pinot Noir) I made it a prior to search them out, and now I am just as excited to explore the Chards. The Becker estate has been a sustainable farm for many generations, but it was Friedrich Sr that first realized the potential of grape vines here, and back in 1973, Friedrich Becker Sr. filled his first bottles with the winery’s iconic fox on the label, and the rest, as they, is history. Becker is a proud member of the VDP and his estate (Cru) wines, such as this White Burgundy like Schweigen Chardonnay, are Erste and Grosse Lagen sites, recognized as special sites for exceptional quality. Becker also farms, non estate sites in the area and bottles those as Becker Family Wines and they are outstanding values, in particular, their Pinot Blanc, which I also tasted and review in the near future.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 21, 2021

2017 Brewer-Clifton, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
The 2017 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir from Greg Brewer at Brewer-Clifton is wonderfully expressive and has a beautiful play between ripe fruit and savory tones, it is more complex than one would expect from the basic cuvée and proves this winery is continuing to innovate and make thrilling avant grade wines from the sandy soils and cool climate of the Sta. Rita Hills region. Bright and vibrant in profile still, this is still tightly would and it gets fuller, rounder and lengthy as it opens fully after an hour, making for a impressive performance for this Pinot that radiates with a ruby glow in the glass delivering a mix of reds fruits, spice, minty herb, mineral and hints of umami, dried flowers and blood orange. After a few minutes and a few swirls there is pretty rose petal, earthy loaminess, a touch of subtle wood and the fruit becomes more defined showing black cherry, pomegranate and strawberry. The 2017 vintage comes in at a healthy 14.5%, but in the mouth it feels cooly crisp and there is very light heat and it stays lively and fresh, while gaining a satiny grace with air and it is a wine that is best enjoyed with food.

As I have mentioned in my prior reviews, Greg Brewer’s Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir cuvee sees only neutral barrels (well seasoned) of French oak and is a selection of the best lots of each of the estate farmed vineyards. Depending on the vintage, Brewer-Clifton goes for all whole cluster fermentation(s) to make some racy wines that have quite a pop and get more and more aromatic with time, highlighting the nervy/tension nature of the stem inclusion, as this wine shows. This wine is usually made up of the three main Brewer-Clifton estate farmed sites, that includes the 3D, Machado, and Hapgood vineyards. According to Brewer and team, the 3D Vineyard, expresses a primary emphasis on it’s predominantly sandy soils, it’s main focus is Chardonnay planted here, but there is a small block of Pinot Noir here planted to classic Swan and Pommard as well as some 667 and 828 clone(s) that really stands out, then there is their Machedo Vineyard, a 15 acre parcel on the Machado family land that is located adjacent to Clos Pepe and immediately behind the Kessler-Haak site contains a selection of Pommard, Merry Edwards, Mount Eden, and 459 clone(s) on rolling terrain with sand, clay and loam soils. The latest releases from 2018 and 2019 look to be absolutely rockstars, so even if you can’t find this one, they are well worth your attention!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 20, 2021

Latest Review

2019 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe, Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
The Kruger-Rumpf Scheurebe comes exclusively from the VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) Dautenpflänzer old vines which were planted in the 50s on pure quarzite and was fermented and aged in stainless steel using natural yeasts. This 2019 version is exotic and sweet fruited with tropical notes, like passion fruit and pineapple, and zingy spearmint, mineral tones, white blossoms and spice. Georg Rumpf is one of Germany’s Scheurebe maestros and as I have said many many times, this is one of the best examples in Germany and while a Spatlese and quite sweet on the medium bodied palate it has fabulous balance and goes great with food, providing refreshment to spicy Asian dishes. The Kruger-Rumpf estate is located in Münster-Sarmsheim, a small village on the western side of the Nahe River, in the most northern section of this region, at the intersection of four major German wine regions: the Nahe where the winery is located, the Rheingau and Mittelrhein to the north, Rheinhessen to the east. The majority of Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings are located on the western side of the Nahe, though they also own parcels directly across the Nahe River in Binger Scharlachberg, which is part of the Rheinhessen and is an amazing south facing amphitheater. Standing in Kruger-Rumpf’s parcels in Rheinberg (Nahe), you can look out to Scharlachberg across the Nahe River in Rheinhessen, as well as the southern bend of the Rheingau and the Rudesheimer Berg Crus, one of the most famous parts of the region, visible to the north. Kruger-Rumpf’s holdings represent some of the greatest Riesling terroirs in this famous area with south-facing exposures and a combination of Nahe soils that include slate, loess, sandstone, quartzite, volcanic and loose gravels with many Grosses Gewachs parcels. Kruger-Rumpf, along with Muller-Catoir, who do a trocken, are my favorite producers of the rare Scheurebe varietal, and I recommend exploring both.

Scheurebe is an unique grape found primarily in Germany, but also in Austria where it can also be called Sämling 88, Scheurebe was created by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu, (hence the name, which was made official in 1945) in 1916, when he was working as director of a grape-breeding institute in Alzey in the Rheinhessen region, by crossing Riesling with an unknown wild vine, though not confirmed and according to official Austrian sources it is in fact a cross between Riesling and Bouquet Blanc. Münsterer Dautenpflänzer: Grand Cru, Loess, subsoil is quartz – Daute means “shoot” and pflänzer means “plant”, an homage to the fact that this was once a nursery. South facing, the older section is steep, and this Grosse Lage vineyard is a bowl shape, catching the sun and giving exceptional ripening. Georg is committed to organic viticulture and while they have been practicing organic for several years, they have started the transition for certification. Bees are kept nearby to facilitate pollination and aid in overall bio-diversity. Periodically sheep are allowed to roam the vines helping to control underbrush. All vineyards are hand harvested to ensure that only optimally ripe grapes are selected. Stefan believed that “you can’t improve wine in the cellar, only make it worse,” and Georg has continued his cellar work with this philosophy in mind. Fermentations occur spontaneously with ambient yeast for the fruity wines, like this one. I will always cherish my last visit to Kruger-Rumpf, in the Fall of 2016, watching Georg Rumpf get into harvest action and touring the vineyards with him and his father Stefan, who founded this remarkable winery, where I got to see my favorite site, the Abtei as well as tasting the Scheurebe off the vine. The Scheurebe 2019 transported me back to the Nahe and brought an amazing sense of peace and pleasure, it is pure joy in glass and was perfectly matched to my Indian curry and chickpea meal, it is hard to imagine a more satisfying wine and it’s an outstanding value.
($24 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 19, 2021

2019 A. A. Badenhorst Family Wines “Secateurs” Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa.
The crisply dry and zesty pure Secateurs Chenin is a superb value from Badenhorst with fresh citrus blossoms, peachy fruit and subtle earthy notes makes for a easy to love white from South Africa’s Swartland region that is fun sipper and or a solid choice with Fall cuisine choices. The Chenin grapes, for this wine, mostly come from Badenhorst’s Kalmoesfontein estate, which is on the northern side of the Paardeberg Mountain. The grapes are hand picked with great care and chilled overnight in a cold room. The following day they are whole bunch pressed to a settling tank, with some of the juice, close to 25%, is also fermented in older casks and big foudres which gives a depth of complexity to this Chenin or Steen as they call the grape locally, with the rest seeing time on its lees in a combination or concrete tanks and old casks, to give an extra degree of texture and roundness. This lightly golden Chenin adds layers of lemon, melon, light clove spice and un-sweetened orange honey and a hint of creamy waxiness, this vintage is a bit lighter and more vibrant in style than some years. This edition of Secateurs retains good vibrant acidity and has a fine stony note as well as a saline element that is mouthwatering, it is wine that is best enjoyed young and vividly expressive.

Adi Badenhorst is one South Africa’s leading winemakers, he is member of the Cape Winemakers Guild and a founding member of the Swartland Revolution, focused on regional terroir and natural expressions, as his importer Broadbent Selections adds, an ever evolving vigneron producing a wide range wines, including his signature bottlings and the bargain Secateurs line up. AA Badenhorst was originally founded In 2008, when cousins Hein and Adi Badenhorst purchased their Kalmoesfontein farm in the Paardeberg area in Swartland. Together, as they explain, they restored a cellar that had been neglected since the 1930′s, but where they now make natural wines in the traditional manner. The vineyards on Kalmoesfontein farm are made up of very old bush-vines planted with Chenin Blanc (average 40 years old), Cinsault (average 45 years), and Grenache (average 58 years) and these organic vines are non-irrigated and farmed mainly biologically as much as possible. The 2019 Secateurs Chenin Blanc is pretty much a hundred percent Chenin, but can have some small amounts of Palomono and maybe a touch of another un-named varietal, which also adds a uniqueness to this wine, which is delicious on its own or with soft cheeses and or sea food dishes. In recent years I have really been impressed with Adi Badenhorst’s top end single varietal wines, like his Old Vine Cinsault and Tinta Barocca, which are serious wines well worth searching out.
($16 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 18, 2021

2019 Theopolis Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Estate, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
The outrageously exciting and delicious 2019 Theopolis Estate Petite Sirah is maybe my favorite vintage to date from Theodora Lee and her this iconic terraced vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands with a marriage of pure California fruit and a almost Northern Rhone spicy complexity that is in totally harmony here, while providing a thrilling tension and unique experience. Fermented with 35% whole clusters in open top stainless steel tanks and seeing a full extraction and lengthy maceration that as given a hedonistic richness with the nice contrasting crunchy whole bunch savory tones. To allow for maturity and supple tannins the latest Theopolis Petite was aged in 30% new French Oak barrels for 20 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. There is a lot to unpack on the nose and palate here with a heady mix of deep fruit, florals and intense spices with layers of black brambly raspberry, damson plum, blueberry and kirsch along with cracked peppercorns, tapenade, mineral and cedary toast wood accents. This full bodied wine has an inky color in the glass and opens up to reveal a well structured backbone, but with a sense of chocolatey round tannins as well as lingering with peony and creme de cassis, making for a fabulous pure Petite Shirah experience that is best enjoyed with robust cuisine, with Theodora saying it is an excellent pairing with smoked brisket, braised short ribs, grilled steak, and wild game.

As mentioned in my prior reviews, Theodora Lee’s Theopolis Vineyards is one of the top sites for Petite Sirah in California, her vines hug steep terraces in the Yorkville Highlands and have received amazing critical acclaim since being established in 2003, with her success first coming from the wines made by Mike Officer at Carlisle, and more recently with Paul Gordon’s Halcon version. Her own wines, which I first started tasting with her 2013 vintage have really started get dialed in as the vineyard matures and I like the direction a lot with their exciting edgy quality really grabbing my attention, especially in this 2019 version, of which just under 400 cases were made, that also saw a reduction in new wood used, something I think benefits the finished product and allows for some more subtle background flavors to emerge. Theodora Lee, who has had the help of long time Roar winemaker and Santa Lucia Highlands specialist Ed Kurtzman, has created something remarkably special and their full collection of offerings, which include some small Pinots and more recently some red blended wines, as well as her unique Petite Sirah Rosé and an off dry white made from a rare grape called Symphony, a crossing of, as Theodora notes, Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris, it was, she adds, developed in 1948 (but not commercially released until 1982) by the late Harold Olmo, professor of viticulture at the University of California, Davis. This is a winery to watch and this is a wine to search out and to enjoy over the next decade, this is impressive stuff again, right up my alley, and I look forward to see how it develops.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive