Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 13, 2019

2017 Oliver Pithon,Cuvee Lais Rouge, Cotes du Languedoc, France -photo grapelive

2017 Oliver Pithon, Cuvee Lais Rouge, Cotes du Languedoc, France.
The old world Pithon Pais red blend from the lower Languedoc-Roussillon area in the Côtes Catalanes zone is made from all organic 40% Carignan, 40% Grenache Noir & 20% Mourvèdre that was grown on schiste, marl & limestone calcarious soils making for an intense meaty natural wine that reminds me of old Beaucastel and or Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneufs from the mid nineties or earlier! Olivier Pithon, originally from Anjou in the Loire Valley, where his family has the famous Pithon-Paillé winery, known for Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, fermented & aged each parcel and varietal separately for this wine and raised it before blending for about 16 mo in mostly large used casks which shows in the lightly bretty nose and the authentic earthy character​. The touch of reduction and smoky mineral note blows off with a few swirls and what lies beneath is a beautiful and almost delicate wine, but with a sense of raw power and depth as well showing a medium to full bodied palate with layers of plum, tart cherries, pomegranate and spiced boysenberry fruits along with minty herb, lavender, anise, leather and a flinty stony note, gaining a touch of floral essences, graphite and mineral, finishing nicely with ripe tannins and a refined balance with just 13.5% natural alcohol. This 2017 Lais Cotes du Languedoc Rouge fills out with air, going some flourish and flair, but stays almost Pinot Noir like in satiny form, making it counter to expectations, as this region in recent years has produced more super concentrated and extracted wines that are full blown with a sense of dry port like density, usually with an inky color, which this wine does not possess, it is more lively and has a more ruby/crimson hue. After many years of being a fan of Pithon-Paillé, it was exciting to try Olivier’s wine and I highly recommend that you check them out, with this one being a good starting place, but allow it to get air and enjoy it with rustic, simple country style cuisine choices, it is exceptional with food.

Olivier grew up working in the vineyard, gaining an early application for the results of hard work and the gifts of nature on the wine developing a respect for terroir. Though his importer, Floraison Selections, says Pithon was a rebellious youth, and left the family vineyard, deciding to made his way on his own, he first headed to Bordeaux to continue his studies in winemaking and in 2001 settled in Calce, in the remote Côtes Catalanes, not far from the Spanish border, after being introduced to local legend Gérard Gauby by his brother Jo (Pithon-Paillé). In a rags to riches story, Oilvier came to Calce with his cow Lais and his house and immediately set about to his work, by farming a few hectares organically and biodynamically. After producing some successful wines, he now the has 19 hectares of certified organic and biodynamic vines which Olivier farms with the help of 6 cows. He adds, “I’ve had only one desire: to give everything to my vines so that then they give it back in their grapes and in my wine(s).” He continues, “You must be proud and put your guts, your sweat, your love, your desires, your joy and your dreams into your wine.”​ Calce is situated at 300 meters above sea level and located between the Mediterranean, the Pyréenees and Corbières with Pithon’s domaine having several distinct parcels of marl, shale, schist and clay, offering an array of influences that make his wines unique. With a nod to tradition he works exclusively with regional varietals, mainly Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre for the reds and with Maccabeu, which is more common in Spain, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc for the whites. This Lais Rouge is an impressive effort and a wonderful transparent expression of terroir and is very fairly priced for what develops in the glass, if you are a Rhone fan or into the Sierra de Gredos Garnacha(s) this is a producers to discover.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 12, 2019

2017 Wrath, Pinot Noir, Swan/828, San Saba Vineyard, Monterey County -photo grapelive

2017 Wrath, Pinot Noir, Swan/828 (Clones), San Saba Vineyard, Monterey County.
Sabrine Rodems, winemaker at Wrath has taken this label from obscurity to one of the best in Monterey with her continued success with richer styled Pinot Noirs, with most coming from vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands bench with its sandy loams and breezy cool climate making for some seriously deep wines. I must admit, I have at certain times had a love and hate relationship with Wrath, while I have always admired Rodems’ Syrah and some of whole cluster Pinots, the Rose and Chard until recently seemed a bit sweet for my personal taste, but in recent vintages the wines have reached a fine place, especially this new Swan and 828 clone cuvee from the San Saba Vineyard. This parcel is set in a sheltered nook, that is farmed with care and is certified sustainable, it sits just outside the SLH, but with a continuation of climate and soils, the Arroyo gravelly loam and Hanford sandy loam, which is well drained and low vigor, making for concentrated and intensely flavored grapes. This 2017 is very well balanced and has a quality feel about it, it reminds me of Williams Selyem and or Rochioli in style with a smoky earthy sensation, a dense palate and luxurious array of racy red fruits that takes me back to those wineries heydays of the mid nineties which is intriguing! As it opens up, this Swan/828 Pinot really takes off in the glass with a beautiful ruby/garnet hue, a subtle perfume of floral tones, spice and wild strawberries that comes through along with layers of black cherry, dusty plum and raspberry fruits as well as hints of briar, nutmeg, leather, cedar, cola bean, mineral/stony notes and a touch of stem tension and fleshiness that excites and lifts the fruit nicely. Look for more rose petals and pomegranate to come through with bottle age and the Swan’s earthy side matches the 828’s almost Grenache like expressiveness well, I look forward to letting the wood tame a bit and see its evolution.

The Thomas family bought San Saba Vineyards in late 2007 and created Wrath Wines and dramatically changed the culture and style of the estate with new viticulture practices focusing on crafting small lots of premium Pinot Noir as well as over the years adding Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, plus most recently a Falanghina, an ancient Italian white aromatic varietal from Italy’s Campania region. Wrath was the brainchild of co-owner and director of operations Michael Thomas, who brought in the talented Rodems and who also had the help of famed consultant Byron Kosuge, who made made for Miura and his own label and who had a great wealth of knowledge about the local sites. Recently, Wrath added the upcoming talent Miguel Lepe to help Rodems in the cellar, after he spent time making the Figge wines. I recently was highly impressed by Wrath’s all whole cluster Ex Vite Pinot Noir from the 2014 vintage, which is a thrilling wine, but with a gripping bite, while this one seems to hit a more finessed or polished cord, Rodems chose to vinify the the clonal selections separately with about 20% whole cluster and blending from barrel, which was a selection of various tonnelleries to add complexity, 40% new in total, and with close to a year of elevage. Then, after bottling, Wrath cellared this Swan/828 for an additional 12 months, which I must say paid off, allowing it to develop a textural seamlessness and elegance, and it is not done yet, as I think there is more to come with potential rewards for patience, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. This wine joins some fine offerings from Roar, Lucia, Morgan and Joyce delivering an exceptional SLH charm and a value packed performance, it’s solid choice, especially at this price point. Wrath is hitting its stride and with stellar vintages in barrel there’s a lot of expectations and this Pinot, which is just coming out now, gives a big hint of some next level stuff down the road.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 11, 2019

2018 Weingut Korrell Johanneshof, Riesling Estate Trocken, Nahe, Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Korrell Johanneshof, Riesling Estate Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
Based in the Bad Kreuznach-Bosenheim area of the Nahe River Valley, Korrell is one of the breakout stars to just hit the American wine scene and the latest set of wines are gorgeous terroir driven efforts, including this village level dry Riesling which is exceptionally pure, perfumed and exciting. This 2018 is quite impressive for an entry level, making it a fantastic value, it really drinks above its price class with an exotic bouquet of rosewater, orange blossom and verbena and a crystalline and crisp medium bodied palate that shows a cascade of ripe and expressive fruits that are balanced superbly with a steely mineral focus, zesty acidity and a mouth watering saline element that recharges the senses. Martin Korrell, winegrower at this ambitious and innovative estate, and the Nahe has a diverse set of soils to work with from volcanic to slate as well as quartz and gravel to chose from, plus Korrell has their prized single vineyard monopole Paradies cru set on mineral intense clay and fossilized limestone, which is his family’s flagship site that produces Riesling that rival Burgundy for textural richness and greatness of dry impact and concentration! The Korrell family, which as Spanish roots, has been practicing viticulture for the better part of 250 years, and the estate in the Nahe has been around since 1832, with Wilfried Korrell in 1967 converting it to all wine focus, and now run by Martin and Britta Korrell, who are the sixth generation and are the ones that have raised it to the level it is now. They built a new press house and modern winery in 2011 and farm 26 hectares of vines that include Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Silvaner, Muskateller and Scheurebe as well as the red grapes, Pinot Noir, Frühburgunder, Portugieser and Dornfelder.

Each wine from Korrell seems like a personal expression, and Martin joins a long list of stellar producers here from superstars like Schlossgut Diel to Donnhoff, as well as Gut Hermannsberg, Kruger-Rumpf and Schäfer-Fröhlich in making some of the Nahe’s best examples of Riesling. While under the radar until recently, Korrell like Harald Hexamer, also in the Nahe, have taken a while to get discovered in America, but the wines speak for themselves and now are getting well deserved attention. Of what is imported now, be sure to explore the signature Paradies Riesling, the Von Den Grossen Lagen (a special cuvee of dry Riesling lots from all VDP Grosse Lage sites) and this Estate Trocken that is a fabulous starting wine to get an insight into the quality here, plus there is a tiny bit of Eiswein and an award winning Sparkling Sekt to be found. This 2018 Trocken, which saw fermentation in steel tanks, is hard to resist with its clear and precise layers of mix of stone fruit and citrus leaning on brisk apricot, white cherry, melon, tangerine and mango along with a touch of bitter herb, wet rock, a dusting of spice and hint of creamy lees. Refreshing and bright, this is style that goes great with mildly spicy food, cured meats and lighter fare and at 12.5% natural alcohol it has plenty of extract and substance to chew on, like a baby GG. This vintage is one where the regional or village basic wines really excelled and there are a ton of cheap thrills to be had, these are serious quality for reasonable prices, so stock up, with this Korrell Trocken being a good target.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 10, 2019

2018 Domaine Serol, Gamay, Cote Roannaise “Eclat de Granite” Loire Valley, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Serol, Gamay, Cote Roannaise “Eclat de Granite” Loire Valley, France.
Stephane Serol’s latest release, the 2018 Eclat de Granite is a lovely and intriguing red with a meaty core of dark fruit and mineral tones along with fresh acidity and a subtle floral delicacy made from 100% Gamay St. Romain, with a partial whole cluster fermentation and aged in neutral wood & tank. Gamay St. Romain is a unique clone of Gamay Noir that has evolved in this remote location in the highest part of the Loire Valley wine region in the Cote Roannaise, sometimes called the lost Cru of Beaujolais with its granite based well draining soils. The Côte Roannaise may be little known but the wines of Serol stand out, and as importer Floraison Selections they boldly and loudly speak for themselves, whether its the luscious, off-dry sparkling Gamay “Turbullent,” the delicate and precise bone dry still rosé “Cabochard”, or (to) the dense and spicy south-eastern exposed single parcel “Oudan” Gamay Cote Roannaise, this are impressive wines. This 2018 Eclat de Granite Gamay Cote Roannaise shows crushed violets and blackberries, a sanguine (iron rich) beefy note, black cherry, wild herbs, anise and spices in an elegant medium bodied wine that has warm ripe tannins and gives a soulful performance in the glass. This purple/ruby colored Gamay stays polished throughout and finishes with an earthy charm and stylishly vibrant, its a wine that gains interest with food and like Beaujolais enjoys a bit of chill when served, it is a wonderfully quaffable red to enjoy in the near term.

As mentioned, technically part of the Loire Valley but actually much closer to Beaujolais, the Cote Roannaise it is only about 50 km west of Morgon (Beaujolais) in the Monts de Madeleine, close to the Loire River’s source in the Massif Central. Gamay, as in Beaujolais, reigns supreme in this high elevation site, as noted, that is perched on a vein of granite, with Domaine Serol having an amazing set of old vine single parcels that capture nuanced expressions of terroir and make for extremely compelling wines, like this one. The Serol estate dates back to the 18th century and Stéphane is the 5th generation winegrower and his wife Carine have done much to elevate the recognition of Cote Roannaise. Serol have close to 30 hectares planted, the oldest vines are 80 years old and the domaine is certified organic, working with biodynamic principles, in the process of converting to full Demeter certification. The winemaking is traditional and everything is done to make them express place and in recent years they have gained in energy and are poised, but with playful rustic character underneath that adds a degree of authentic old world realism that makes these wines shine. I have been an admirer of Serol for a few vintages now and this one is a notch above the prior couple in my opinion and well worth searching out, especially Gamay Geeks like me. Ready to go now, this stuff has subtle nature and a nice finesse to it, less fruity that Beaujolais with a solid structural mouth feel, it pairs well with an array of flavorful cuisine choices and doesn’t need complication, simple is best, drink up.
($21 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 9, 2019

2018 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Kabinett, Dorsheimer Pittermanchen, Nahe Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Kabinett, Dorsheimer Pittermanchen, Nahe Germany.
One of the most perfect Kabinett wines of the vintage so far is the gorgeous and impeccably balanced Pittermanchen by Schlossgut Diel and the stellar talents of Caroline Diel at this famous Nahe estate and highlights this years potential, especially in the slightly off dry styles and powerful Trockens in this region in particular. The Diel 2018 Pittermanchen, sourced from a slate driven VDP Grand Cru site in Dorsheim flows across the palate with amazing texture and a full array of flavors that feel a touch drier than one would expect, but still with a generous caress with green apple, lime, apricot and melon fruits along with flinty and wet stones, sea salt, crystalized ginger and a delicate essence of white flowers, finishing with a creamy rich detail, white still crunchy and jazzy at the same time. The latest Diel Kabinett perfectly captures the serious and elegant styling that is hallmark of Caroline’s wine with the playful and ease of use character of a Kabinett level wine, it’s brilliant stuff that gets more interesting with every sip and gains depth and complexity in the glass, especially with food, for a lighter Riesling it sure delivers an impressive performance. Diel’s current lineup is stellar stuff with many highlights and standouts, fans of this winery will be highly impressed with these latest wines, plus be sure to not overlook the incredible Sekt Brut Nature and Sekt Extra Brut sparkling Rieslings, they absolute blow away Champagne in their price class!

Located in the lower Nahe, the historic Schlossgut Diel, which the family established back in 1802, with a steep south-facing slopes, is, as noted by Terry Theise Diel’s Riesling guru importer, owned by prominent gourmand and wine aficionado Armin Diel, well regarded for his work to promote German wine, and whose daughter Caroline now oversees winemaking. The three prized Grosse Lage vineyards include Goldloch, Burgberg and Pittermännchen that comprise Diel’s esteemed holdings and were well documented as early as 1901 as an exceptional source for fine and high quality wines, a tradition that continues today, but with a focus on the dry wines, even though Diel still crafts some of the greatest fruity/sweeter Rieslings available. The Pittermännchen vineyard which benefits from those south-facing slopes and its mineral soils, mostly of slate, but with quartz and gravel gives complexity and zesty detail to the wines, as well as that great minerality found in them. Diel prefers whole cluster pressing and “Sponti” native yeast fermentations done in stuckfass, doppelstuck and cement tanks, along with severe selections of the grapes, which are farmed as organic and sustainable as possible with subtle lees aging to balance freshness and richness of form for long lived wines. This Dorsheimer Pittermanchen Kabinett is a savvy choice and one of my favorites, great with spicy Asian cuisine as well as with briny/savory dishes too, drink this joyous Riesling over the next 3 to 7 years, though it should live 20 years, maybe more!
($43 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 8, 2019

2018 Bodegas Los Bermejos, Listan Negro, Maceracion Carbonica, Lanzarote D.O. Canary Islands, Spain -photo grapelive

2018 Bodegas Los Bermejos, Listan Negro, Maceracion Carbonica, Lanzarote D.O. Canary Islands, Spain.
The Bodegas Los Bermejos, in the Canary Islands is one of the most interesting estates of this volcanic islands range, run by winemaker Ignacio Valdera, is located on the easternmost island of Lanzarote, that is just 125km from the African coast. This is one of the most extreme vineyard locations on the planet with vines fighting to survive by digging through lava rock in pits to keep the harsh Atlantic winds from ripping the canopy apart, but through all this Ignacio still hand crafts an amazing set of wines, including this lively and juicy fresh all Carbonic red made from the native Listan Negro grape, which was brought here by Spanish explorers and Missionaries many centuries ago, as well as a crisp mineral driven Malvasia and one of coolest Methode Champenoise sparkling wines in the world. The Canaries have been getting a lot of love in recent years, with serious stars of the Islands, like Envinate, this Los Bermejos, as well as Crater, Suertes del Marques and Fronton de Oro are all wines to try and discover.

All of Los Bermejos’ vines are set in the crust of petrified lava and ash that runs 3-5 meters deep from an ancient eruption and six year lava flow that created these wild landscapes and each vine is individually hand tended using organic and sustainable practices without irrigation, making for tiny yields and excellent concentration of flavors which shows in this vividly fresh Carbonic Maceration Listan Negro. A beautiful purple/garnet hue greets you in the glass and the nose is floral and spicy leading to a medium bodied vibrant palate with blackberry, plum and sweet cherry fruits along with red pepper flakes, shale like stoniness, iron and herbs de Provence. Mild alcohol and light tannins add to the quaffable appeal of this all tank raised wine, which goes great with its unique traditional carafe style bottle. Serve this interesting red with a slight chill for the best and most refreshing results and have with picnics, BBQ’s and or Holiday meals, same as you would a classic Beaujolais.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 7, 2019

2018 Hundred Suns, Gamay Noir, Tualatin Estate Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2018 Hundred Suns, Gamay Noir, Tualatin Estate Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
One of the most tasty and unique wines of the vintage in Oregon is this super limited production Gamay Noir by Hundred Suns, coming of a historic vineyard that was originally planted by pioneer and local legend Bill Fuller in the early 1970s on marine sedimentary soils. This parcel is just one acre of true Gamay Noir that was only recently re-discovered by a friend of winemaker Grant Coulter, the ex Beaux Freres man, who along with his partner Renee Saint-Amour started this small personal label, making small lot hand crafted wines, which include some amazing Pinot Noir(s) along with a Grenache and this lovely Gamay. Hundred Suns, a reference to the number of days from grapevines flowering to harvest, started in 2015 when Grant moved on from being winemaker at Beaux Freres to overseeing the vineyards and making the wines for Flaneur Wines, which are super wines as well, and Renée swapped the classroom, she was a Portland high school teacher, for the cellar and running of the day-to-day business. Grant Coulter, a Monterey Bay area native, moved to Oregon to pursue his wine career, following in the footsteps of Ken Wright and Eric Hamacher, both who did the same thing with great success. This winery is one to follow, part of a new wave of outstanding Oregon producers and this radiant, and ripe Gamay certainly merits your attention.

The 2018 vintage was a ripe one in Oregon, making the Gamay a bit exotic and Coulter chose a very unique route to express the best qualities of the grape, the place and year by doing 60% whole-cluster carbonic maceration, sans soufre and 40% traditional fermentation with native yeasts and de-stemed grapes, with the carbonic portion getting 7 months in well season French oak, while the other lots was aged in terra-cotta amphora for the same 7 months before to separate wine was blended, racked to tank and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Lapierre’s, Foillard’s and Fred Niger’s of the world would be highly impressed and so would the lovers of those wines too! This tension filled and crunchy Gamay from Hundred Suns is bursting at the seams with dark racy fruit, stemmy spice and mineral tones showing blackberry, cherry, plum and blueberry fruits, an array of exotic spice, including zesty hot cinnamon, crushed violets, walnut oil and amaro notes! Wonderfully fleshy and textural with a a glorious Dutraive Fleurie pretty side meets Lapierre warmth and soulfulness, this exceptional stuff, Gamay lovers with want to start chasing this ASAP! This is not a weak kneed Gamay at about 14% natural alcohol and it drinks like a Pinot Noir with satiny tannin. Oregon is a hot bed for individual expressions of this grape, I love Brick House’s as well as Bow & Arrow’s, Evening Land’s (Salem Wine Company) and this Hundred Suns with all of them being strikingly different. This is seriously fun and thrills the palate, enjoy now and for the next 3 to 5 years.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 6, 2019

2017 Tablas Creek, Picpoul Blanc, Adelaida District, Paso Robles -photo grapelive

2017 Tablas Creek, Picpoul Blanc, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.
Beautiful pure, crisp and clean, the wonderful Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc is a really lovely white wine that excels because of its zippy lightness and subtle depth of character, especially in a vintage like 2017, making this a delightful and flexible wine that is great to sip on with its refreshing qualities, but also great with food, proving this grape’s potential in the new world. Picpoul is one of the classic Chateauneuf du Pape grapes, usually used in the blends in the this famous Rhone region, though it is also the star in the Languedoc’s Picpoul de Pinet, where it is center stage and solo in the wines, where its intense lime and crisp acidity make them so desirable. Tablas brought over the cuttings from the famed Chateau de Beaucastel estate and has made single varietal and blended wine at their westside Paso Robles estate for just over a decade now, and with great results, leading to there grape’s expansion in the state with many fine other examples now available, like those from Desparada and in particular Randall Grahm’s Boon Doon Vineyard version from the organic Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco. I love Tablas’ own example, which seems to get more and more interesting as the years go by and this 2017 is a beauty with layers of lime and lime blossom, chalky wet stone, saline and mineral charm, adding a touch of leesy texture, tropical notes and zesty white peach, tangerine, melon and wild herbs.

The winemaking here is done with serious that to achieve the best results, focusing on Picpoul’s strengths with Neill Collins and team treating the freshly picked Picpoul grapes to a whole cluster pressing, and fermenting them using native yeasts in a mix of stainless steel and neutral 60-gallon acacia barrels to achieve, what they say, a balance of freshness and richness, which I noted in agreement, with all the grapes being sourced from estate plantings in the Adelaida District, close to the winery. Picpoul which is usually vibrant and brisk is also fairly low in natural alcohol, with this vintage being a touch riper at 13.2%, but still restraint and cool on the light/medium bodied palate and the acidity and steely form keeps things very elegant. Tablas, known for their Chateauneuf style reds and cool single varietal reds, including Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise and Tannat, sometimes get overlooked for their whites, but that is a huge mistake as they are gorgeous and are some of the state’s best, I in particular love their classic Esprit de Tablas Blanc, a white Chateauneuf blend, as well as this little Picpoul, along with their other single varietal series that includes their Vermentino, super rare Picardan and the powerful 100% Roussanne. This 2017 Picpoul Blanc gets even more appealing with air, I have had many samples over the last year and I have been thoroughly impressed each time, (The winery says the new 2018 is even better!) and it goes great with many food pairings, I enjoy it with mixed sea food, including shellfish like oysters, claims and mussels, but it can do poultry dishes and soft cheeses easily as well.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 5, 2019

2017 Weingut Kunstler, Spatburgunder Trocken, Hochheim Reichestal, Grosses Gewächs, Rheingau Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Kunstler, Spatburgunder Trocken, Hochheim Reichestal, Grosses Gewächs, Rheingau Germany.
Known as one of the greatest dry Riesling estates of Germany Weingut Kunstler was founded in 1965 by Franz Kunstler when he re-established the Weingut Künstler in Hochheim Main/Rheingau after having to leave the east after WWII, but it wasn’t until In 1992 when his son Gunter took over the estate, that things started to happen and in 1994 the estate was admitted to the prestigious VDP with the wines beginning to show their true potential. Generally soils here nearer to Frankfurt in Hochheim am Main are loess, clay, sand, loam, marl and limestone and the climate more humid, which is not ideal for organic farming like Gunter prefers, but even so his wines are some of the most beautiful in Europe, and not just his Rieslings, and his wine like this GG Hochheim Reichestal Spatburgunder and his Assmannshausen GG are exceptional world class Pinots. In the last 15 years the quality of German Pinot Noir has risen to levels that has given the Burgundians something to think about, wines by F. Becker, Meyer-Nakel, Schlossgut Diel and Kunstler not only rival Grand Cru stuff, in some vintages they absolutely eclipse some of the legends of the Cote d’Or, I won’t name drop on big names that wish they were this good, but trust me this latest Kunstler is absolutely stunning! What stands out the most here is that it does have to try to hard and is not flashy at all it is just pure quality, that wonderfully transmits the soul of the vineyard, the VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) Hochheim Reichestal, with its grace and seductive character, to near perfection.

This rich and silky Pinot is layered with delicacy and finesse showing pretty rose petals, subtle chalkiness and medium bodied palate of black cherry, crushed raspberry, strawberry and a hint of blueberry fruit along with a soft, almost, background smoky/toast, dried fig and earthy/loamy notes with everything seamless, but energetic and riveting throughout. Quite honestly, the savvy and gentle winemaking make this all the more impressive with the ever expanding mouth feel with its gorgeous fleshy red to black fruits and floral tones, with a touch of dried violets remind me of somewhere between Chambolle-Musigny and Vosne-Romanee, though distinctly German in its precision and controlled delivery. Though, I adore the slate driven Ahr and Assmannshausen versions with their more intense smoky sweet and flinty notes, this wine is just darn near perfect in its transparency and satiny lush form and the dreamy long finish, the care in the vineyard and the craftsmanship in the cellar really shines through and tells you a near perfect story of the vintage and the passion to make such a majestic wine. Kunstler’s cru Rieslings from 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are all tantalizing wines, but this is a regal stuff that will reward the true Pinot fan, especially those that can lay a few down for 7 to 10 years! While this wine is priced in the league it plays in, you can also check out the village version, Kunstler’s Spatburgunder Tradition, at $40, it is also well worth checking out, it is a pretty wine that gives hints, and insights on Gunter’s class in the cellar.
($120 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 4, 2019

2018 Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece.
The renown Greek producer, Domaine Sigalas was founded in 1991 by Paris Sigalas, Christos Markozane and Yiannis Toundas and has been in family hands ever since and has become the standard of quality for Assyrtiko, the Greek isles signature white grape. Initially, Sigalas made his wine at the converted Sigalas family home, but according to their importer, Skurnik Wines, back in 1998 a new vinification, bottling and aging cellar was built in Oia, on the northern part of Santorini, which turned this winery from a small operation to a world class estate focused on the white wines of the region. Sigalas has been a pioneer in the organic viticulture on Santorini and has worked hard with the Greek government to push for strict certification and all sustainable practices and while traditional they use the latest in winemaking technology to create the freshest and purest Assyrtiko possible. Zest and vivid in character this wine does open to reveal a nice smooth leesy texture with layers of lemon/lime, white peach, quince and tropical fruits along with a striking mineral tone as well as a mouth watering saline note with a delicate floral sense and stony quality making for a white that can replace Muscadet, Sancerre, Albarino, Vermentino and or Gruner Veltliner on your table.

As mentioned, Sigalas concentrates on native grape varieties, working most closely with Assyrtiko, but also they have small plantings of Athiri, Aedani, Mandilaria and Mavrotragano. The grapes need to be trained close to the ground and wound in a circle to survive from the direct exposure of sun and strong winds, protected inside low-basket-shaped vines or “ampelies”, as they are called locally, referring to this unique pruning system. This Assyrtiko comes from vines located in Imerovigli, the sub-region of Oia Santorini, all Sigalas’s owned basket trained vines (Kouloura) that are on average 60 years old, and are tended in the classic black lava, volcanic ash and pumice soils. This elegant and cooly crisp white saw a fermentation and elevate in stainless steel tanks with controlled temperature with about 50% being free run juice using close 80% whole clusters that was slowly pressed and spent just 5 months on lees to preserve its zesty fresh detail. This is a great Indian Summer sipper and excellent with all sea food choices and a mix of cuisine from Morocco style Lemon Chicken and Couscous to briny oysters and or mussels in a spicy broth. Assyrtiko, like Vermentino and Gruner Veltliner, looks set for success in the new world, once only found in Greece, it is now doing well in Australia, especially Jim Barry’s beautiful example and I can imagine we’ll see a California version in the near future!
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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