Wine of the Day July 25, 2014

2011VajraNebbiolo2011 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
It has been amazing to see the rise in the Vajra wines since 2007, this is one of the best wineries in the region and their Barolo wines are absolutely gorgeous, but there is also a grand array of other wines in Vajra’s portfolio, including some great Barbera, Riesling and Freisa, plus and especially this wonderful Langhe Nebbiolo DOC. Giuseppe Vajra, third generation winemaker, is crafting some of the most delectable wines in Piedmonte and certainly if you haven’t yet tried his wines, you are missing out and really need to experience them, and soon. The Vajra wines are traditional, but are amazingly clear and detailed with a deft touch and careful patience, these wines are reflections of their vineyards and show glorious transparency and terroir. The 2011 Nebbiolo is from the Vajra Barolo holdings and is a rich mouthful of pure Nebbiolo with a silky tannin profile and charming character, this is a made to be enjoyed young wine and there’s depth and ripe fruit to please anyone. Maybe this is not a tuesday night wine, but a good value non the less, a perfect weekend wine and a nice baby Barolo to enjoy with friends and or family, there is lots to love here, this is a sexy and stylish red, be sure to search this out. The 2011 G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo starts with a subtle bouquet of dried roses, mineral, iodine, kirsch and fennel notes leading to a generous palate of damson plum, soy, raspberry and cherry along with black licorice, mint tea, lavender, there is a nice rush of acidity and vigor with a hint of citrus rind, red peach flesh adding freshness and a cheesy/meaty element. Look for a similar to Barolo secondary layer of flavors to develop over the next few years in bottle, though I would be hard pressed to have extra bottles left in the cellar it is so delicious all ready, but it should age nicely over the coming 3 to five years.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 24, 2014

2012GroundworkMourvedre2012 Groundwork, Mourvedre, Paso Robles by Sans Liege.
Curt Schalchlin is an army of one and he is making some delicious wines, under both his flagship label Sans Liege and his value label Groundworks, with most of his wines coming from vineyards in Santa Barbara and westside Paso Robles. The latest Groundwork red is this 2012 Mourvedre from Paso Robles, this is a rich and decadent wine with ripe and dense layers of dark fruit, pepper, leather and liqueur. This is a lot of wine for the money showing blackberry, blueberry, plum sauce, mint jelly, cherry and creme de cassis along with hints of earth, lavender, fig paste and sandalwood. Don’t miss this mouth filling Mourvedre, it pleases completely and lingers on the aftertaste, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at ($19.95)

Wine of the Day July 23, 2014

2010IFavati2010 I Favati, Cretarossa, Aglianico, Irpinia Campi Taurasini DOC, Campania, Italy.
From a tiny 5 acre plot near Avellino in the Venticano San Mango the Cretarossa vineyard provides glorious Aglianico for I Favati’s Irpinia Campi Taurasini DOC in Italy’s Campania region. This 100% Aglianico, often called the “Barolo of the South”, is bold, robust and earthy with dusty cherry, balsamic/soy, iron, strawberry, plum, game (animale), tarry elements and wild herbs unfolding on the earthy palate. Grown on clay and volcanic soils this red shows firm tannins and vigor, but with plenty of poise and a graceful finish, I Favati has done a masterful job of crafting this eye opening Aglianico, certainly an Italian wine to look for. 2010′s perfect conditions helped and while Aglianico is known to age, this is especially well balance and should go a good long time, though I really enjoy it’s freshness and would be hard pressed to leave it too long in the cellar, drink now through 2020.
($26 Est) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at ($24.95)

Wine of the Day July 22, 2014

2013vonWinningUngeheuerGG2013 Von Winning, Riesling, Ungeheuer, Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz, Germany.
I think Stefan Attmann might be the greatest winemaker you’ve never heard of and his von Winning wines are some of the best in the world, period, that’s it, especially his Grosses Gewachs Rieslings, which on are on par with the top Grand Cru Burgundy producers, like Laflaive, Lafon, William Fevre or California producers like Marcassin, Aubert and Kistler. Recently I tasted through von Winning’s cask samples of 2013 wines with Andreas Hutwohl, who was lengthy and patient with me in explaining the vineyards and techniques used by the estate to make such amazing and mind-blowing wines. The 2013 wines were thrilling expressions of dry, intense Riesling and while the Grand Cru Pechstein may end up being 100 Point perfection, certainly the 2011 and 2012 were close, I adored the Ungeheuer best at this stage and maybe that is because, like Terry Theise suggested, it might be feeling a tad riper in style, but regardless this wine is pure sex in a bottle and ultra classy from start to finish. I have mentioned before, von Winning is inspired by the Burgundians and there is long lees contact and the Grosses Gewachs spend time in French barrique, but they remain as German as German can be, think of the German world cup soccer team, power, poise, control, playing the world game and winning it all, that is how you can relate to this majestic wine. The 2013 Ungeheuer Grosses Gewachs starts with stony mineral, brioche, citrus flower and tropical notes leading to a layered and lush palate of lemon, minty lime, apricot, peach and almost a cherry taste along with clove, salted caramel, grapefruit, green banana and mango all wrapped in cedary wood, brisk acidity and Chablis like steely mouth feel. This is totally gorgeous rich Riesling Trocken, seductive, exotic and haunting, again this wine is as good as any Puligny or Corton-Charlemagne, and I must point out that the price reflects that, while not cheap, it is a top value in this class of wine, the quality level is insane, von Winning is a winery to be on your bucket list, and you can’t go wrong with this 2013 Ungeheuer Grand Cru which should be available this coming winter. Without question, this glorious Riesling will be better on release than this cask sample, and it will continue to gain over the coming years, drink anytime, but you should know it will age fantastic with a 15 to 20 year drinking window!
($65 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 21, 2014

SelimN.V. Viticoltori De Conciliis, Selim, Vino Spumante Brut, Campania, Italy.
The sexy and beautiful Brut Vino Spumante da Tavola by De Conciliis is made from 55% Aglianico, 35% Fiano, 10% Barbera in a classic Blanc de Noirs style, and is named Selim after the Miles Davis song, where Miles is spelled backwards. I can’t think of another sparkling wine that is made from Aglianico, this has to be pretty damn rare stuff, and De Conciliis deserves some high praise too, as this vibrant bubbly is remarkable, elegant and an interesting alternative to the mostly bland Cavas, Proseccos and Spumantes out there, and while not a Champagne beater, it certainly is worth checking out. The Selim is vivid, mineral driven and has great dynamic energy with brisk, dry acidity and a refined mousse. The are layers of lemon/citrus, white licorice, tropical notes, plus very faint hints of brioche, hazelnut/almond and figs. This is really is good for a Charmet method bubbles, having aged 100 days on the lees, perfect as an Aperitivo or with seafood, finishing with a salty/steely edge along with a lingering pear and citrus note. Drink young and often!
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at

Wine of the Day July 20, 2014

2013CinqueTerre2013 Cantina Cinque Terre, Cinque Terre Bianco DOC, Italy.
The fresh Cinque Terre white is made from the native varietals Bosco 60%, Albarola 25%, Vermentino 15%, from grapes grown on the steep terraces over-looking the five historic villages and the beautiful Italian riviera. This lovely white has the taste of the sea with hints of salty brine adding character to the honeyed pear, lemon/lime and tropical fruits flow over the rich and full palate, along with citrus flower, wild herb, almond, dried apricot and lingering peach notes. Liguria has long been a fine wine region, nestled between Genoa and La Spezia, just south of Portofino, and Cantina Cinque Terre has made wines for over a hundred years. This wine sings with seafood and is a wonderful and interesting summer white, drink now and over the next few years.
($25 Est.) 90+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 19, 2014

2013CuomoRavello2013 Cantine Marisa Cuomo, Ravello Bianco, Costa d’ Amalfi DOC, Furore, Italy.
One of Italy’s best kept secrets, Marisa Cuomo, makes a fantastic set of Amalfi Coast wines from tiny terraced plots above the shinning Mediterranean Sea. These vines are grown out of almost pure rock and trained in pergolas, this allows some shade and helps with the ocean humidity while still granting exposure and reflected light from the sea of Furore, on the gulf of Salerno. The Ravello Bianco is made up of 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella grown high up on the rocky cliffs with dolomitic limestone soils, this is a lovely mineral rich expression with plenty of warm sunny flavors and ocean influences. There is layers of citrus, crystalline stone, honeyed peach, saline and melon along with a creamy texture, but with fresh acidity, this is a great expression of place, drink over the next year or so, terrific stuff.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($23.95)

Wine of the Day July 18, 2014

2007Cucco2007 Casina Cucco, Barolo DOCG, Cerrati “Vigna Cucco” Riserva, Piedmonte, Italy.
The 2007 Casina Cucco Riserva is fantastically pure Barolo, this is as classic as classic gets, though maybe not as perfect or as exciting as Giacosa, Clerico, Vajra or Conterno, this is beautiful and worthy Nebbiolo that has sublime varietal detail and terroir nuance. The palate is a cascade of pleasure with layers of black cherry, damson plum, balsamic dipped strawberry, mint, tar, truffle, cedar, soy and melted black licorice along with wilted roses, stony chalk and dried lavender notes. This wine speaks of historic, place and vigor with elegance, poise and a hint of wild nature in the background, this is Barolo through and through with good structural tannins and a smart dose of acidity. The seductive 2007 Barolo Vigna Cucco from the Cerrati Cru in Serralunga is drinking fabulous right now, but still has a decade of enjoyment ahead, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($100 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 17, 2014

2011UccellieraRosso2011 Uccelliera, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy.
Azienda Agricola Uccelliera run by Andrea Cortonesi is one of Tuscany’s great estates and a producer of fine Brunello di Montalcino since the late Eighties. The vineyards sit on the estate in Castelnuovo dell’ Abate in the heart of the Brunello zone with rolling hills and a mix of soils, framed by ancient olive trees, and of course planted to Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello clone. The Brunello’s are the shinning stars here, but I would not pass up the Rosso di Montalcino DOC from Uccelliera “The Bird House” as it is a terrific wine in it’s own right, year after year and a suburb value. The 2011 vintage was warm and the wines are very generous and full of character, charm and richness, so if you want a great red with real Brunello quality on the cheap, the 2011 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino would be an excellent choice, and of course be sure and make note that the 2011 Brunello itself, still another 2 years away should be a blockbuster. The Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino 2011 starts with earthy red fruits, dried flowers, sweet herbs and cedar notes leading to a dense and plummy palate of black raspberry, wild plum, cherry and strawberry fruits with a mix of soy, mint, mocha and tobacco leaf adding complexity, this is very sexy Sangiovese that has refined tannins, just enough acidity and subtle mineral and eathy/game elements to let you know it is a serious and focused wine that deserves your full attention. This is a ruby red hued beauty, don’t miss out on this vivacious and intriguing Tuscan, drink from 2014 to 2020.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 16, 2014

2012RadioCoteauPN2012 Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir, La Neblina, Sonoma Coast.
Eric Sussman’s Radio-Coteau is one of California’s top quality labels for Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay with all cool climate sites in the Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, and his 2012 wines are looking top bet from the vintage. His second label County Line is also a great lineup of wines, especially his County Line 2013 Rose, so be sure to check them out as well, but his latest Pinot, the La Neblina is something special and I highly recommend finding this beautiful, floral and detailed wine. The 2012 Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir, La Neblina from the western Sonoma Coast is a pure and rich, almost forward expression of Pinot Noir with a gorgeous array of flavors, this wine is seamless and decedent with wild strawberry, plum and sweet cherry fruits along with cola bean, rose petal, cinnamon, pomegranate, jolly rancher candy, a hint of red apple, sweet smoky toast, vanilla and cedary notes. There is an underlying element of earth, spice, fennel and mineral, though the fruit is certainly leading the way here, and a fine silky tannin plus a boost of fresh acidity that keeps everything together. Made from a mix of clones and all organic grapes the La Neblina, with about 15% whole cluster and about a third new French oak, is a well crafted wine of grace, focus and style, though flamboyant now, look for this tasty wine to age well into the nest decade, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive