Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 24, 2016

2015monasteriowhite2015 Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, Albarin Blanco “Vina Grandiella” VDT Cangas, Asturias Spain.
Jaun Redondo’s Monasterio de Corias is one of my favorite wineries, I love the guy and his wines, they are pure country wines with life and style grown on steep slopes and on broken slate soils that give great mineral tones and spicy character, and while I usually go for his red no oak Joven Albarin Negro/Mencia blend, I also love this rare old vine Albarin Blanco! No relation to Albarino, Albarin Blanco is a historical local white grape from this ancient, but almost forgotten wine region in the Asturias region of Galicia, and while Albarin Blanco, also found in Leon, is sometimes referred to as Pais Blanco and maybe related to the white Mission grape, but regardless of the lost history or mystery surrounding it’s origins, here at Corias in the small area of Cangas it is a low alcohol, cool climate wine with it’s own unique persona with zesty acidity, medium body and crisp/steely detail. Mostly natural in fermentation and raised in stainless steel vats with only about 3 months on it’s lees, the Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, named after the old local Monastery that first grew grapes in the region, Vina Grandiella 2015 Albarin Blanco shines in the glass with a bright pale golden color and is wonderfully fresh on the palate with green melon, lime blossoms, apple and lemon/lime citrus flavors along with flinty spice, saline and almond paste adding complexity along with zippy acidity and light brine and herb notes. This is tasty and fun wine, worth checking out as are all of Jaun’s intriguing reds, all the wines here are meant to be enjoyed with food and quaffed young it their first couple of years, though I’ve found the reds to be fairly serious and well structured, thinking they could surprise with some age on them. Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 23, 2016

2014sensestanuda2014 Senses, Pinot Noir, Tanuda Ridge Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.
One of the up and coming stars of the Sonoma Coast is Senses Wines, with superstar winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown crafting this small production artisan wines, it is amazing set of 2014 wines they’ve put out, especially as the owners are a group of three school friends in their early thirties! I met up with Chris Strieter, who has been involved a few wine projects and shared his experiences and tasted me through his lineup of stunning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, all from top sites in the real west and ultra cool Sonoma Coast, they have taken a big portion of the famed B.A. Thieriot Vineyard as well, you’d know this prized Chardonnay vineyard if you’d had Littorai version! The Senses Chards are lovely, I especially admired the basic Sonoma Coast, but the huge potential lies in their mentioned Thieriot and the blockbuster Charles Heintz Vineyards offerings, though my favorite wine of the 2014 Senses was their gorgeous Tanuda Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, this was a wine that stopped me in my tracks with it’s incredible focus and elegance, it is complex, yet wonderfully easy to fall in love with! The 2014 Tanuda starts with dark fruit, wild spices, pretty and sultry smoky elements with hints of rosewater and violets leading to a vivid and transparent palate of layered cherry, plum, black raspberry and a bright fruit bowl background with red peach, candied blood orange and tart currants along with cinnamon stick, cedar, anise and tea spices. The wood is perfect melded in and everything is taught and vital throughout. This is lavish and sexy Pinot Noir, though lifted and vibrant with lacy acidity and silky textures, this Pinot should drink great for the next 6 to 8 years without question, Thomas Rivers Brown of Schrader and Rivers-Marie (his own label) has done a masterful job with these wines, I recommend chasing them down, as they are still under the radar, though not for long I suspect! I was skeptical when I first heard of these guys, but this wine blew me away, if this is what the youth of today is working on now, the future looks even better and is in good hands.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 22, 2016

2015ange2015 Domaine de L’Ecu, Vin de France Rouge “Ange” Loire Valley, France.
From the cool Atlantic influenced Muscadet region of the Loire Valley, the beautiful Ange from Domaine de L’Ecu is an intriguing wine with an ancient tradition flare with gorgeous texture, length, stylish and delicately nuanced fruit. Crafted from 100% Pinot Noir, all biodynamic, native yeast fermented and raised in amphora the Ange by Domaine de L’Ecu is one of the most unique expressions of this varietal I’ve tasted and loved! This all natural, pure and direct Pinot Noir is wonderfully graceful and stunning in fine detail with lovely strawberry, plum, red berry and dark cherry fruits on the light to medium weight palate with vibrant brightness, rich mouth feel and interesting savory elements and spice with chalky/stony earthiness and a hint of earth. The first impression is of spring roses, wilted petals, warm roof terra-cotta tiles as well as mineral tones and raw cinnamon on the nose and entry, before giving way to the mentioned array of silky flavors and velvety tannin. At 12% and from an ultra cool climate, this is an energy filled Pinot Noir that shows loads of character, finesse and charm, I must admit to be utterly seduced by this elegant expression of grape and place, it really is a new spin on Pinot Noir and it’s lingering red currant, lavender spice and subtle loaminess is captivating! Domaine de L’Ecu is most known for their terroir driven plots of old vine Melon and wonderful soil marked Muscadets, but they have been exploring Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir in amphora in recent years with longer skin contact with impressive results, this is a winery to watch, and this vintage 2015 looks set to really up their game to the next level, this is amazing stuff!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 21, 2016

2013cattleya2013 Cattleya, Syrah, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Deep and dense with amazing layers of black and blue fruits the 2013 Cattleya Syrah is one of the best Rhone style California wines out there! Bibiana Gonzalez Rave-Pisoni, the Colombian winemaker and vineyard consultant, is making some stunning wines, her stints in at some of the world’s great estates, including Stephane Ogier in Cote-Rotie, has helped her develop her love of place and to get the best out of each terroir, it shows in her work at Pahlmeyer with her Wayfarer Pinot Noirs from the Seaview/Sonoma Coast as well as the wines she does under her own label Cattleya, in particular her gorgeous Alban clone Syrah from her husband’s (Jeff Pisoni) family vines at Soberanes. I firmly believe, and have mentioned time after time, since 2004 the Pisoni’s and Franscioni’s have farmed some of the best Syrah in the state and that in most vintages the Pisoni/Lucia and Roar Syrah offerings have been just as good if not better than the more noticed Pinot Noir! And certainly if you get a chance to taste this rare Cattleya 2013 Soberanes Syrah you most likely will agree and then some. Soberanes is Pisoni’s youngest vineyard, but it maybe the most impressive, it is extremely rocky and was daunting to plant, Mark Pisoni and his crew deserve a lot of credit getting this special site up and running, they picked the best clones of Pinot (Pisoni clone) as well as old Wente clone for the Chardonnay and chose the Alban clone for the Syrah vines, and now with some meaningful age these vines are delivering on their promise in a big way, like the Pisoni Estate, if you see Soberanes Vineyard on a label, you can also guarantee sublime quality in the bottle, especially true here in Bibiana’s gorgeous Syrah. The 2012 was great, but the texture and length on the 2013 might give it the edge, it shows loads of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and plum fruit along with wonderful spice, mineral and brambly earthy complexity with stony detail and hints of game, cedar, licorice, creme de cassis and black olive notes. Violets, cinnamon, camphor and clove also play in the nose and on the background of this purple/black Syrah, there is truly an ode to Cote-Rotie in this beautiful wine, but without question it is Soberanes that gives this wine it’s voice and sexy charms, this is an opulent and seductive Syrah with ripe/firm tannins, nice lifting acidity that was impeccably hand crafted a fantastic winemaker, if you can find it, get it, drink over the next 10 years! By the way, her husband’s version is worth checking out too, wow, what a talented family this is… I have be drinking the Lucia and Roar Syrahs since the first public releases back in 2000, they are stylish and age worthy wines to this day, and this Cattleya takes them to another level, look for it, it deserves to be among the state’s elite set and is!
($70 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 20, 2016

2014pisoni2014 Pisoni Estate, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands.
It’s always a thrill to see the Pisoni family, in this case catch up with Mark Pisoni, who is the director of operations and the head of farming at Pisoni/Lucia Vineyards, who with only a couple of hours sleep after a another long night of picking grapes was smiling and charming, happy with this years harvest, not that is is every easy, it was more controlled as there have been some cool/mild days that have allowed a more relaxed pick. Also making an appearance at a special Chardonnay and Pinot Noir celebration in San Francisco was the man himself Gary Pisoni, coming back from seeing his grandson and engaging in son’s Jeff, the winemaker for Lucia Vineyards and the Pisoni Estate wines, crush 2016, it is always awe inspiring to see Gary, for his passion for wine, his achievements, his stories, like his bringing of La Tache cuttings home in his socks, but most of all to experience his love of family and this carries outward into the world around him, everyone that likes his wine is now family in a small way. His enthusiasm lights up the room, you can’t help but to love the man, for his style and humble grace wrapped up in an extroverted personality, much like the Pisoni Estate wines taste! I will forever be a huge and biased fan of this family and winery, that said, this 2014 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir just might be the best and most impressive wine to date, in recent years I have found myself secretly loving the Lucia Syrah more than the Pinot Noirs, I know is not following the party line at all, but the upcoming Pisoni Estate release has brought me back, it is an amazingly elegant and detailed Pinot Noir with more delicacy and subtle layering that I can ever remember, though with still the tannin and brambly dark fruit that you’d expect from the Pisoni! Jeff Pisoni, not to sound like a broken record, keeps getting better and more stylish as a winemaker, and this 2014 Pisoni Estate will be a hard to beat masterpiece, it shows beautiful color, dark ruby with purple hints, a sexy mix of spice, briar, sweet smoke and wilted roses on the nose and a seamless palate of black and red fruits that unfold with Grand Cru class and power, with a sublime mouth feel and texture, black raspberry, cherry, plum and currant fruits seduce the senses along with mineral/loam, anise, a hint of black tea, cedar, cinnamon stick, light vanilla/espresso bean and a dusting of chalky stones. Wonderfully balanced, poised with an extra level of refinement and depth and it is ultra long, this is gorgeous stuff, serious and thought provoking, but like true great wines it can be enjoyed now and will certainly drink fantastic over the coming decade, if not for 15 to 20 years! The Pisoni legend looks set to continue for generations, these are great people making great wines from a very special place, these wines are the heart and soul of the Santa Lucia Highlands.
($90 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 19, 2016

2014eliandarosabouriou2014 Elian Da Ros, Abouriou, Cotes du Marmandais, Southwest France.
Elian Da Ros is almost single handedly re-creating this remote region, south of Bordeaux, into a must have hot spot for interesting terroir wines, especially good is this fresh and intriguing red made from the native Abouriou grape. The 2014 Elian Da Ros Abouriou Cotes du Marmandais is somewhat Gamay like, but deeper in garnet color, Tim Gaiser MS, in fact, told me he found it close to Lagrein (A dark Syrah like varietal found in Italy’s Alto Adige region) in some ways, it shows dark berry, plum, red currant and blueberry layers, vibrant and a touch tart/tangy with red peach, basil/herb as well as some earthy/loamy elements and good juicy acids. The Abouriou is ripe and pleasing on the palate with just enough savory tones, spice and texture to keep it interesting without being too serious or overly complex. This is a wonderful example of a country wine that is pure, well made and great with food, what’s not to love? And it is a rare native grape that speaks of place, made by a winemaker deeply and passionately moved by his sense of place, and shows through in his wines. This Abouriou and Elian Da Ros’ Cabernet Franc based reds are wines to seek out, these are perfect for the Fall season and rustic meals, I’d also recommend the lighter and fruitier Abouriou for Thanksgiving and or holiday dinners. Drink the Elian Da Ros Abouriou Cotes du Marmandais anytime, it should be enjoyed young and I found it even better with a slight chill on it, best over the next 2 to 3 years.
($23 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 18, 2016

2014calozred2014 Cave Caloz, Humagne Rouge “La Mourziere” Les Coteaux de Sierre, Valais, Switzerland.
The Humagne grape, also known as Conalin d’Aoste in Italy, is a dark red varietal that is very rare and oh so good with a deep garnet/ruby color and full mouth feel it is a thrilling wine, especially in this case made by Conrad Caloz, the king of the mountain, a small organic producer in the Valais AOC of Switzerland. All of the Cave Caloz wines are brilliant and are the result of extreme hard work and passion, and vintage I try of these wines leaves me more and more impressed, imported by Neil Rosenthal, I very much recommend wine lovers take the leap of imagination and try them, in particular the reds, this one is my favorite year after year, but also the extremely rare white Caloz Heida-Paien (Same grape as Savagnin, as found in the Jura) “Les Bernunes” that reminds me a bit of Hermitage Blanc, but with a little less weighty detail. The Caloz 2014 La Mourziere Humagne Rouge starts with a touch of beautiful florals, mineral spice and red tree fruit with a medium full palate of black cherry, loganberry, mulberry and racy plum fruits as well as a gravel/stony quality, alpine herbs, sweet tannin and lively acidity, but with air it fills out, expands and lengthens with tangy currant, white pepper, cedar and fleshy red peach elements unfolding. Like most great wines, it is ever changing in the glass, intriguing and full of pleasure and complexity, this Caloz really is majestic and gorgeous wine, well crafted and wonderfully balanced. It is also a bargain when you consider the exchange rate with the Swiss Franc and the sublime nature (or soul) of this wine and when you compare what you get for fifty dollars from other regions! Conrad and wife Anne-Carole farm by hand steep terraces in the dramatic and rocky landscape in the high elevation Coteaux de Sierre, an area steeped in history and prized by the Romans, the Dukes of Burgundy and the House of Savoy for the mountain wines made here, famous also for the near by Matterhorn, and set between the source of the Rhone River and the cool waters of Lake Geneva, this is a special terroir and these Caloz are special wines!
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 17, 2016

2013chauvenetvr2013 Domaine Jean Chauvenet, Vosne-Romanee, Red Burgundy, France.
These 2013 red Burgundies don’t get enough credit, in fact some are vastly underrated, especially this wondrous Vosne-Romanee village wine from Jean Chauvenet, it is simply ravishing and is a wine to enjoy now, though it should age well too! I had to go back to this wine at the recent Rosenthal imports tasting, just to be sure I read the label right, yup 2013, yup just a plain wrapper Vosne-Romanee, wow, okay then, this is beautiful, vibrant and vigorous Pinot Noir from an under the radar Domaine, you should find some of this if you are a Burgundy fiend! This gorgeous Vosne-Romanee is terroir driven with heady violets, wild herbs, mineral spice and deep red, blue and black fruits showing blueberry, tree picked plum, loads of cherry and forest berry layers with a background of rose oil, minty anise, tea spice and cedar notes as well as hints of cinnamon, iron, tart currant and earth. This medium bodied Burg is graceful throughout, but with superb density and mouth feel, as you’d expect from a Vosne-Romanee, it is playful on the palate, though seriously thought provoking and lingering. This is well crafted wine, detailed and textured, I’d have really thought it was a Premier Cru at least, and at this price it is a steal, this is certainly a producer in fine form and one to follow. The Chauvenet Vosne-Romanee, I understand was 100% de-stemed fruit, gently macerated including a short cold soak with a cool and lengthy fermentation, then put in barrel to finish malo, and then aged for a year and a half in barrique with about 25% new wood. This is a beautiful and exciting Burgundy, fresh and perfumed with lushness and packed with intrigue, drink over the next 3 to 7 years, this pretty and pure red delivers nothing but class and pleasure!
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 16, 2016

2014macphailwightman2014 MacPhail, Pinot Noir, Wightman House Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
I got and sneak peek of the up coming release of MacPhail and I can tell you, it will be a stunner, this 2014 MacPhail Wightman House is gorgeously luxurious with deep color and fruit intensity wrapped in a subtle and soft robe of ripe tannin and lifting acidity. Only 5 barrels were crafted from this tiny two-acre site, planted to the heritage Martini clone, the same old California clone you know and love in Riverblock Rochioli classics! MacPhail used about 60% new French oak on this Anderson Valley wine, but while it adds a smoky sweetness and give a lush creamy feel, it doesn’t take away from this beautiful Pinot and by the time it is released officially next month, the oak should have faded further into the background, though now it doesn’t show any ill effects, in fact this is pretty sexy stuff. Incredibly darkly hued garnet and ruby in color, the Wightman House starts with loads of blue fruit, sweet rose petal, light vanilla and walnut leading to a richly packed palate of blackberry, cherry and plum fruits along with a touch of wild mushroom, mission fig, anise, mineral, tea spices, sandalwood and a hint saline and stones. The finish is sweet and succulent, lingering with mocha, kirsch and cassis, look for lots of developing nuances to emerge over the next 3 to 5 years in bottle as this brilliant wine unveils itself more fully, this is impressive stuff, it reminds me a little of Beaux Freres and that is a high compliment, if you drink it young you;ll be seduced by opulence, and if you are patient you’ll be rewarded with complexity and glorious detail, I’d love to re-visit this Pinot in 7 to 10 years, I believe it should have a great and long drinking window, at 13.8% and with the sublime and lavish fruit, this should drink fantastic from release to 2027 easy.
($55 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 15, 2016

2015clostroteligottekpot2015 Clos Troteligotte, Cahors “K-Pot” France.
I just tasted through Emmanuel Rybinski’s lineup of Cahors Malbec for the first time, and I was wowed by the finesse and beautiful detail I found in these wines, his Clos Troteligotte organic wines are lovely, fresh and very exciting, especially good was his Clos Troteligotte Malbec “K-Pot” Cahors with no sulfur added, which is bursting with vitality and flavor. Made in a similar style to Lapierre’s non sulfur cuvee N Morgon, this pure Malbec has blueberry, mulberry, black raspberry and red peach fruits up front with some plum, currant and kirsch notes as well with hints of sweet herbs, pipe tobacco, mineral and earthy detail. This vibrant and really fresh red delivers a fruity pleasing array of layers along with a fine textured mouth feel, this is certainly one of the most intriguing Cahors wines out there, as a reference point, since I’ve never had these Clos Troteligotte Malbecs, is Fabien Jouves, who is also making more natural style Cahors wines with his Mas del Perie, and though they are different characters they share a certain class and elegance and are leaders in this region most known for a more rustic style. Emmanuel’s lineup is very impressive, the “K-2” his top cuvee is brilliant and more dense a wine that will age and needs time to fully be appreciated, and the low sulfur “K-Or” which is fantastic and a great value, though just a bit less expressive when tasted next to this gorgeous “K-Pot” these are wines to search out, limited and highly prized they will not be easy gets, but worth it. Beautiful and lingering with nice acidity and ripe tannins this 2015 Clos Troteligotte Cahors “K-Pot” Malbec if cellared well should prove a hit, with no added sulfur it will rely on gentle handling and will be sensitive to temp changes, give it some TLC and you’ll be thrilled by what comes out of the bottle, this is charming and very pretty stuff, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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