Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 16, 2019

2017 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2017 Cameron Winery, Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Very different from his Dundee Hills bottlings, John Paul’s Cameron Ribbon Ridge Pinot shows terroir and darker black fruit profile, which seems highlighted by the Marine Sedimentary soils, though there is a family resemblance in its slight reductive presence in the glass and Burgundy like class. As Paul Notes, the grapes for this wine are sourced from two distinct vineyards, Foster Farms Vineyard and Armstrong Vineyard in the Ribbon Ridge AVA. The young vine Foster Farms site which was planted in 2006 that is lovingly tended by famed cider apple grower Alan Foster, along with the Armstrong Vineyard that was recently converted to dry-farmed only grapes, both of which give this wine its soul and complexity. Paul adds, fruit from Ribbon Ridge is always intense with loads of structure, making for a bold and gripping personality in the wine(s), but vintage is always key sand this beautiful and lacy 2017 is stunner with a poise in the glass that is remarkable in this price point, this is a killer bottle of Pinot for the money, no wonder it sells out so fast. Part of the Deep Roots Coalition, Cameron is committed to dry farming for many obvious reasons, quality and intensity of the grapes through smaller yields and the less diluting of flavors and terroir transmission, plus he is concerned for the environment and wasting water is something he wants to avoid as that water usually means taking away from areas that need it, the kick on effect is it saves salmon streams as well.

Bursting with blackberry, plum and dark cherry fruits, a hint of sweet smoke and earthy tones this vintage of Cameron’s Ribbon Ridge is a thrilling wine with pure old world character, it gains in everyday possible with air, taking on a deeper form, spices, layers and florals. As with all of the Cameron wines they see almost no irrigation and the winemaking is tradition Burgundy all the way with native yeasts used for primary fermentations and long elevages, usually between 18 and 20 months in barrique, that are seasoned with a couple of fills. The Winery is very particular about its wood and Cameron’s choice of barrels, as Paul puts it, is equally crucial to the quality of the final product. For both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay he usually select barrels from a wonderful cooper he discovered, who lives in the village of Saint Romain in Burgundy. His name is Claude Gillet and together with his children and several master coopers they turn out some of the most exquisite wine barrels to be found. in fact every year Claude and his son, Laurent, visit our winery, taste the wines in barrels and make recommendations for choice of forest, toast level and all of the other minutia that go into crafting an oak barrel that suits Cameron’s style. As mentioned, John Paul, Cameron’s legendary winemaker believes that barrels reach their perfection only after a couple vintages, he prefers to utilize used cooperage which is between 1-3 years old for our most precious cuvées and even older for the regional or village wines, like this one. Drink this Pinot over the next 5 to 7 years and always pair it with matching cuisine, both Cameron’s Dundee Hills cuvee and this one are
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine Of The Day July 15, 2019

2018 Ameztoi, Rubentis Rosé, Getariako Txakolina, Spain -photo grapelive

2018 Ameztoi, Rubentis Rosé, Getariako Txakolina, Spain.
The beautifully delicate and mineral fresh Ameztoi Rosé is crafted from local basque grapes 50% Hondarribi Beltza and 50% Hondarribi Zuri grown on limestone and sand with mostly old vine fruit with some of these vines dating back to 1918, this slightly spritzy and low alcohol wine is one of the world’s most exciting Rosés. The Getariako Txakolina region is on the Bay of Biscay and is a cool zone in the basque area of Northwest Spain within sight of San Sebastian, the food mecca just South of the French border. Ignacio Ameztoi, of Ameztoi, is the fifth generation of his family to carry on the tradition of making Txakolina in the province of Getaria, on a unique stretch of land that extends out into the bay, and he has played a key role in the advancement of the region in the last decade, cleaning up the wines and promoting a lighter and fresher style wine to great effect. The 2018 version is divinely vivid and lifted with snappy and tart raspberry water, sour cherry and tangy garden strawberry fruits along with zippy grapefruit/citrusy notes, mineral tones, salty wet stones and rose oil. It should be noted this winery still uses some grapes from their special plot that was planted in 1840 that has been preserved by the Ameztoi family, this pre-Phylloxera block is one of the oldest set of vines in Europe!

The iconic Rubentis Rosé, the region’s first pink wine, was naturally fermented in refrigerated stainless steel tanks utilizing indigenous yeasts from the vineyard. The tanks are closed to preserve natural carbonation from fermentation, which is the preferred style of Getaria. The fermentation tanks, according to importer De Maison Selections, are kept chilled to near 32 degrees Fahrenheit before bottling, which preserves the wine’s delicate, effervescent character and signature mousse. The Rubentis Rosé a field blend of the white Hondarrabi Zuri and the red Hondarrabi Beltza grapes, which are co-fermented for three weeks. When most local wineries gave up on the indigenous red hondarrabi beltza vines, the Ameztoi family retained their old vines, which gives their rose exceptional vibrancy and complexity. This vintage is perfection and a thrill in the glass with quaffable character, it is a wine that proves a wine doesn’t have to be heavy or dense to have a serious impact on the palate, and it delivers a wonderful performance that leaves you always wanting more with an electric shock of mouth feel and mouth watering brisk detailing, it is a wine that should never be missed, especially in Summer. Absolutely great on its own at the beach, with its only 11% natural alcohol making it a refreshing dry treat, though it can easily be enjoyed with an array of cuisine choices, great with spicy dishes, salads, fried sardines, mussels and or briny oysters as well.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 14, 2019

2018 Russell Joyce Small Lot Collection, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Carmel Valley, California -photo grapelive

2018 Russell Joyce Small Lot Collection, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Carmel Valley, California.
The new edition of Small Lot Collection by Russell Joyce, of Joyce Vineyards, is an amazing old vine Chenin coming from the Massa Estate, formerly the Durney Estate Vineyard in Carmel Valley and it’s a great example of vintage and terroir, it is a unique and powerful expression of this Loire white grape. The 2018’s intensity, vibrancy and density is on full display, showing beautiful definition and sharp detailing, but with an expansion on the palate that is utterly compelling and impressive, it is a wonderful wine of purity and class. The 2018 is rich and mouth filling without being ponderous or heavy, in fact has almost the driving force of a red wine in character such is the impression it makes, even for such a young wine it gives a spellbinding performance, especially when it gets air and paired with food. Russell, who killed it with his Gamey Noir bottling under his personal label, has crafted another thrilling wine, using native yeasts, whole cluster pressed juice with about 8 hours of skin contact and barrel fermenting for his Chenin Blanc along with employing well seasoned French oak for the six months of lees aging, making for a wine of substance and textural charm. Chenin has a long and cherished history, locally as well as all California where it was one of the greatest white grapes before Chardonnay eventually took over, and while seemingly an obscure Loire varietal, it’s re-emergence is looking like one of the most successful comebacks of all time, especially in Sommelier and wine geek circles, and this Joyce Small Lot version is without question a real Geek Star wine!

Drinking it over several days really proved all the quality on display here, even after four full days this wine shined with crystalline mineralilty and grace, it never for a minute dropped off and delivered on its promise with each and every sip, impressive for a wine recently bottled and I can’t wait to see this in a year or more, I expect it will be much better, which means it will be astonishingly good. The 2018 has layers of white peach, pear and lemon fruits along with a seductive aromatic profile that hints of orange blossom and honeysuckle, which is offset by leesy notes and a stony personality adding a phenolic element, unsweetened honeycomb/wax and wild fennel. Time and air reveals more width and dimension allowing this Chenin to fill out in the mouth without losing its steely charm or focus with the fresh acidity holding everything here in check, though you can tell it will get more brioche and butter cream with bit of age, but not anytime soon. This is exceptional Chenin that is very limited release, so you’ll want to act fast if you are interested, it joins an elite group of producers that are leading a California renaissance of this grape, like Raj Parr, Pax, Littorai, Lieu-Dit and Jaimee Motley to name a few that are bringing Chenin back to the top of the states white wines, don’t miss it.
($35 Est.) 94 Pointsgrapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 13, 2019

2016 La Torre, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 La Torre, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy.
The 2016 is going to be legendary in Tuscany and we are seeing the top wines already getting unbelievably good press, but there are also some killer deals on lesser known wines and especially wines like this gorgeous deep fruited and elegant La Torre Rosso di Montalcino are incredible and offer a wonderful value for much less than their Brunello version. Lighter on its feet than the Brunello(s) the Rosso makes up for in style and grace, it shows a complex array of flavors and a sense of never ending length with a beautiful rose petal perfume and exotic spices. This La Torre has, what it is cliche to say, Burgundy class in the glass with ripe tannins and a gorgeous garnet/ruby hue that seduces the senses with layers of black cherry, raspberry, strawberry and plum fruits to begin on its open and generous palate with gains structure with air as well as highlighting the background elements, mineral notes and light earthiness. Additionally there is classic anise, fine cigar tobacco wrapper, sandalwood and lingering dried flowers and cranberry/currant, making for a lovely Sangiovese wine that gets even better with food, bringing out more depth and fruit intensity. There is almost nothing to fault here and the detailing and mouth feel is exceptional in this remarkable Rosso di Montalcino, this is a wine that needs to be taken out of the “Baby Brunello” box, it is really next level stuff on its own.

The La Torre winery was founded not all that long ago by Italian standards back in 1976 by Giuseppe Ananìa, who purchased the La Torre estate from the famous Ciacci family of Montalcino. Now Luigi Anania, Giuseppe’s son, is the present owner and producer of the wines of La Torre, and the estate is located in the commune of La Sesta, approximately 8 kilometers south of Montalcino, which is in the highest altitude section of the Brunello appellation. La Torre make four main wines, all from organic vines: Brunello di Montalcino (with a Riserva in the best years as well), Rosso di Montalcino, with the Brunello and Rosso being exclusively Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello Clone) by law, as well as a Rosso di Toscano and a Rosso di Toscano “Ampelio” which have touches of Ciliegiolo and Alicante added to a mainline of Sangiovese. The wines are all made from all grapes that are de-stemmed prior to fermentations and only indigenous yeasts are used before a extended 20 maceration on the skins, and these ferments are done in a combination of steel and oak with an 18 month elevage being in large oak casks of French origin, with only about 10% of the ultimate cuvée being aged in small French barrels. Made for more early drinking pleasure and a sublime vintage really show here and I absolute love this stuff, judging it purely on its intent and delivery it is fantastic, drink this brilliantly crafted beauty over the next 3 to 5 years.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 12, 2019

2016 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Scheurebe Trocken, Haardter Mandelring, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany -photo grapelive

2016 Weingut Mueller-Catoir, Scheurebe Trocken, Haardter Mandelring, VDP Erste Lage, Pfalz Germany.
The gorgeous 2016 dry Mandelring Scheurebe by Mueller-Catoir, from Germany’s Pfalz region shows a brisk intensity and zesty form with layers of jasmine, tropical essences, mineral tones and vibrant grapefruit, white peach, lemon rind, spearmint and green apple notes as well as chalky stoniness, saline and dried pineapple. 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. Scheurebe, while not well known in America, is an expressive white grape and the wines do have a Riesling like personality, but far more overt and sometimes with a dense flamboyant nature with a cloying tropical side, but Mueller-Catoir really gets this grape and makes a great and elegant version, as does Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe. The grape was originally planned and created to be a more interesting version of Silvaner and with more frost damage resistance. The vineyards in Mueller-Catoir’s Haardt Cru are composed of primary rock (urgestein) and sandstone, with an increasing proportion of gravel lower on the slopes where Mendelring sits with some loam that brings out the fruity character here. This vintage shows a dynamic vitality and focus with plenty of structural extract and zippy acidity keeping everything balanced, this is a brilliant year for this wine and it should be enjoyed over the next 3 to 5 years.

One of Germany’s great estates, Mueller-Catoir has been family owned since 1774 with nine generations tending the vines under their belt, the winery is now run by Philipp David Catoir, who contuse the traditions that have made this place so special and so coveted by Riesling enthusiasts. On the winemaking side, Mueller-Catoir has the talented Martin Franzen running the cellar, he is from the Mosel originally, but comes with experience as head of operations at Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe and Gut Nagelsforst in Baden, and he took over winemaking responsibility from the legendary Hans-Günther Schwarz in 2001. Both Catoir and Franzen are completely focused on purity of form and have a great respect for the environment and in an effort to showcase terroir and varietal character, Mueller-Catoir has adopted strict organic practices in the vineyards. These holistic methods have risen the quality even further here and the wines have an amazing sense of energy and bring out brilliant aromatics, which are especially highlighted in their dry Rieslings as well as their fantastic Muskateller, which might be the finest dry Muscat wine in the world, and this fabulous and exotically perfumed crisp (dry) Scheurebe. Terry Theise, the renowned Riesling guru and importer, notes that, Müller-Catoir was a pioneer of reductive winemaking in Germany, and the estate implements a gentle crush with a lengthy skin contact, a slow gentle pressing, and then ferments at warmer than customary fermentation temperatures in stainless steel. The wine is racked only once and very late. Mueller-Catoir produces wines of outstanding transparency and density, and remains emblematic of Riesling (as well as Scheurebe) at its most sophisticated. This Mueller-Catoir white is a fantastic food wine as well going beautifully with briny sea foods, lighter Asian cuisines and a variety of soft cheeses and or cured meats.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 11, 2019

nv Cruse Wine Company, Tradition, Sparkling Wine, California -photo grapelive

nv Cruse Wine Company, Tradition, Sparkling Wine, California.
This bright and steely Cruse Tradition bubbly starts with a very Champagne like tension and a hint of reduction before opening up and gaining a lovely textural mouth feel and a refined mousse. Michael Cruse’s signature wine, his Ultramarine Brut is one of the most collectable and sought after sparkling wines in the new world and one that I fortunately got to try recently through a generous wine enthusiast, so I was excited to try his lesser known version, which is sort of an alternative edition from vineyard sites that Cruse found exceptional, but somehow didn’t fit the Ultramarine program. This Cruse Tradition is a zero dosage bubbly was crafted in the traditional method, this is not one of his Pet-Nats, using grapes, typical of Brut Champagne consisting of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir sourced from vines mostly from the Sierra Foothills, at 56%, but also with 29% Santa Barbara fruit along with about 14% from Mendocino County. The wonderfully textured and balanced Champenoise Method Cruse Tradition is lovely and decedent bubbly with loads of brioche/doughy richness and depth, while still being vivid, minerally and crisply focused, its non dosage, making it almost Extra Brut style, makes it feel sophisticated and elegant in the glass.

Michael Cruse has a serious following for his sparkling wines, but also does an exciting set of still wines as well, he originally started his winemaking career in the cellars of Sutter Home winery before to eventually moving on to Merryvale, in Carneros, where he quickly worked his way up to becoming the assistant winemaker there, before striking out on his own to create his unique personal label. As reviewed most recently, his fun series of Pet-Nats, including a Sparkling Valdiguie and a Sparkling St. Laurent have a feverish and fanatic following and offer reasonable thrills for the money, while his Ultramarine is uber exclusive and pricey, with this cuvee Tradition sitting perfectly in between. There is a lot to enjoy and admire in the Cruse Tradition Sparkling with its fresh, even sharp detailing and layers of apple, lemon and quince fruit along with brioche, creme brûlée, almond/hazelnut and toast making it a thrilling Garagista methode champenoise that has a real Grower Fizz style feel in the mode of likes of Cedric Bouchard or an American version of cult Champagne icon Selosse.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 10, 2019

2017 Cantine I Favati, Fiano di Avellino DOCG, Pietramara, Campania, Italy -photo grapelive

2017 Cantine I Favati, Fiano di Avellino DOCG, Pietramara, Campania, Italy.
The 2017 I Favati Fiano di Avellino starts with a masculine intensity with rustic elements that remind me of a combination of Roussanne and Gruner Veltliner with faint notes of lees/smoke, bacon and leather along with a essence nutty and bitter almond before opening to reveal a more graceful side including acacia and lime blossom, crushed stone along with peach, green melon, lemon/lime and earthy pear fruits. While not as well known as Mastroberardino and Feudi di San Gregorio, Cantine I Favati has gained a reputation for quality and is admired for the clarity and purity of their wines, especially their highly regarded Fiano wines, like this one. The I Favati winery is run by the Favati family, led by Giancarlo Favati, who is the Managing Director and his brother Piersabino Favati, who oversees the vines as Vineyard Manager, Rosanna Petrozziello, wife of Giancarlo, is the face of the winery, a professional sommelier and who is marketing director for the I Favati brand, while the highly respected Carmine Valentino is the winemaker at I Favati, making for a tight ship. I Favati’s winemaking facility, which located in the town of Cesinali, is according to their US importer Vinity Wines, the crown jewel of the winery. It was built in 1998 and the first wine produced was their Fiano di Avellino in the 2000 vintage. The cellar is equipped with the most advanced winemaking technology, and as the winery puts it, it complements the careful and hard work in the vineyards providing I Favati with a great base to craft their wines that includes a lineup of Fiano di Avellino D.O.C.G., Greco di Tufo D.O.C.G, and a Aglianico d’Irpinia I.G.T. which recently gained DOC status with one year of aging in small oak barrels, as well as a fourth wine that qualifies as a Taurasi D.O.C.G. that was bottled for the first time in 2003 and released in 2007.

This remarkable yellow/golden hued Fiano di Avellino evolves in the glass with richer mouth feel and gains dramatically with air adding layers with every sip, including some kumquat, dried pineapple, citrus rind and salty wet rocks. I Favati sourced this from their estate owned and farmed Pietramara Vineyard, set on clay and mineral rich soils, which is still very young with a vine age of just under 10 years. The Fiano is macerated, fermented and lees aged in 100% temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, which is reflected in the transparent flavors and brisk detailing in this 2017 Pietramara, it is a wine that really revels in food pairings, in particular it goes fantastic with squid dishes, as well as most fish and seafood like coastal Italian and California cuisines. Almost since its beginning, Favati’s Fiano has had stunning reviews, scoring many Tre Bicchieri awards going back to 2003 and it only gets better and more intriguing with each new vintage, and while this starts a bit rustic and chewy, it really comes around and performs with aplomb. I Favati is one of my go to wineries in Campania along with De Conciliis and the legendary Marisa Cuomo, who is located in Furore on the famed Amalfi Coast. Some of the most underrated white grapes in Italy are the sexy threesome of Greco di Tufo, Falanghina and Fiano, who’s best expression seems to be as a solo effort from Avellino, like here in I Favati’s Pietramara, and they all can aged well too, with this 2017 edition looking like it can age easily for another 5 to 7 years, though very good now.
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 9, 2019

2017 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Rosé of Pinot Noir/Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Rosé of Pinot Noir/Spatburgunder Trocken, Nahe Germany.
One of my favorite Rosés this year, the Kruger-Rumpf’s wild strawberry flavored dry Rosé of Pinot Noir from the Nahe region of Germany shows brightness, mineral, snappy spice and a textured mouth feel to go with the expressive fruit. Georg Rumpf’s wines are very serious, but he also can do fun and playful like this Rosé, his Sauvignon Blanc, a lesser known Dornfelder based red wine and his Sparkling Brut, and I highly recommend the offering from this small winery based near Bingen at the Northern most point of the Nahe, where the river feeds in the mighty Rhein River across from the famous Rudesheimer Berg Vineyards and Rudesheim itself, almost at the point where the Rheinhessen, the Rheingau and the Nahe regions touch. Georg Rumpf is making some fine and elegant wines, in particular his Rieslings of course, which are are stunning from the upcoming 2018 vintage, both the off dry (fruity) Kabinett and Spatlese as well as his sublime Trockens, including his set of awesome GG’s.

The Kruger-Rumpf’s Rosé of Pinot from the 2017 vintage doesn’t lack for pop or fresh detail, though I can imagine the 2018 being more vivid and vibrant, but if you see this one it is drinking great and is well worth the price. This dry Rosé starts with flinty spices on the nose with rosewater and red peach and berry notes before filling out on the palate with that beautiful pure strawberry core along with tart cherry and a touch of citrus, crushed stones, sweet herbs and a wet shale and mineral tones. This stuff is super quaffable and gains some smooth creaminess with air, but without any sweetness or flabby parts, staying zesty and sleek in the glass throughout. Kruger-Rumpf’s coppery/pink hued Rosé is a pretty Summer wine and it should not be overlooked, especially for the price, and after tasting through their samples of 2017 and 2018 wines recently, this is a winery to stock up on!
($17 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 8, 2019

2017 Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Mencia, Ultreira Saint Jacques, Bierzo, Spain -photo grapelive

2017 Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Mencia, Ultreira Saint Jacques, Bierzo, Spain.
Raúl Pérez, one of the world’s great winemakers and one of the influential in his native Spain, is the godfather of Mencia and is known around the globe for his wines from the Bierzo region. Pérez, who is humble and down to earth in person, is thought of in the same regard as Salvo Foti, who has a similar cult following on Sicily and is known for his work with native grapes including Nerello Mascalese. Raúl started making wines in his childhood and even took over his family winery at 19 years old and he is a legendary figure for his beautiful and authentic wines that radiant with exceptional purity and balance, including his wonderful entry level Mencia, this Ultreira Saint Jacques. In 2005, as noted by Pérez’s importer Skurnik Wines, he left his family business to strike out on his own, creating Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, which quickly became the point of reference for the Bierzo appellation, where a lot of young winemakers own their own success to his help, including the talented Veronica Ortega. In the intervening years, Skurnik adds, he has expanded his sphere of activity to include the appellations of Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, where he has also been a mentor to Pedro Rodriquez of Guimaro, one of my favorite producers, and Tierra de León, but his heart and his home remain in Valtuille de Abajo, the village in Bierzo where his family has been tending vines for well over 300 years.
Over the last few years, I have been lucky to taste with Pérez on a couple of occasions and his wines are gorgeous examples of organic and a more natural old school style of winemaking, but they are as serious as serious can be with deep complexity and amazing length, especially his lesser talked about white wines, in particular his stunning Godello based wines along with his rare Prieto Picudo (grape) red wine.

The 2017 Ultreira Saint Jacques Mencia, which comes from Valtuille and old vines is the freshest of Pérez’s lineup and set of Mencias with loads of zesty blue and red fruits, mineral notes and vibrant acidity, it is a slightly tangy and savory lighter style red that takes the finesse and brightness you’d expect in Pinot Noir as well as having the spiciness and dark profile of Northern Rhone Syrah, like Crores-Hermitage, with a touch of Gamay. This vintage saw about 80% whole cluster and was fermented with native yeasts in big wood vats with macerations ranging from two to five months and aging being done in various sized casks, mostly well used and some cement. While mostly Mencia, this Saint Jacques does have small amounts of Bastardo (Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) in the blend here all from vines that range from 80 to 120 plus years old set on the hardened clay based soils of the region. This 2017 is bright with a cherry fruit focus along with blueberry, cranberry, red apple skin, cedar, minty herb, earth and floral notes all intertwined on the medium bodied palate, this is a poised version of this wine, which is not as dense as the prior two years felt, but is wonderfully easy to quaff and feels dynamic in the mouth, it will thrill the Glou-Glou crowd and is great with a slight chill on it, drink now and often. This is absolutely a great place to start if you want to explore the wines of Raúl Pérez, it is an unreal bargain and a vividly transparent version of Mencia, a grape that begs for more attention and that is sublime with lighter Summer cuisine.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day July 7, 2019

2017 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Wendling Vineyard, Anderson Valley -photo grapelive

2017 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Wendling Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
Drew’s 2017 Wendling Vineyard Pinot is bright and youthful in the glass with a deep garnet and ruby red hue that is heavenly inviting and the fresh detailed and transparent fruit is easy to love, making for a stunning wine that is great now, but will certainly gain with a few more years in bottle. As I and many others have mentioned in recent years, Jason Drew is crafting some of the state’s best wines, especially his small lot, ultra cool climate Pinot Noir(s) as well as his Syrah offerings, and if you’ve not tried his wines you are way behind the curve. The Wendling shows incredible varietal purity and is remarkably like a Morey-Saint-Denis or maybe a Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru with a beautiful sense of delicacy and lightness, while still having complexity and depth, this is sensational Pinot. Layered and satiny with tangy raspberry, black cherry, plum and pomegranate fruits leading the way on the medium bodied palate along with a nice vibrant cut of acidity, mineral tones, some briar, dried herbs and cinnamon like spices. There is some much to admire here, the deft and light handed winemaking that allows the terroir and grapes to do the talking and with zero new wood, this Wendling is naked and revealing from start to finish, there’s no flamboyance or pretense, or is it needed, just a flowing inner beauty and loads of engird from the partial whole bunch used here. At only 13.2% natural alcohol this vintage is very well balanced and lacy, though look for it to fill out over time and drink well for many years. With air the seductive aromatics comes online with this beguiling Pinot adding rose petals and deep floral elements to it’s crisp stony start, it gets more and more expressive once it awakens and or with matching cuisine.

The Wendling Vineyard holds the distinction of being, according to Drew, the most Northwesterly site in the whole Anderson Valley appellation. This site is in the deepest end of the valley, at about 450ft up, on pretty steep slope with good drainage, making for small yields on super quality and concentrated grapes. There are three soil types here as Drew notes, namely Ornbaun, Wolfey and Bearwallow complexes which are mostly weathered soft sandstone, quartz and or shales. These Mendocino hillside soils along with the cooler coastal temperatures help givie a darker profile and color making for intensely structured Pinot Noir, which Jason thinks is pure class. Drew’s parcels include an alleged DRC suitcase clone and a La Tache, along with some Dijon 115 and 667 clone selections, which all play a part in making this Pinot complex and very special indeed, in fact Drew compares the Wendling Vineyard to a “Grand Cru” site. In the Anderson Valley, Drew adds, Wendling truly stands apart with its distinctive textural character and pure mineral driven nature, of which I agree completely and in particular this vintage, it is a brilliant wine that saw a 100% native yeast and a 30% Whole Cluster fermentation, with two gentle gravity rackings and was aged 11 months in used wood, 50% in 1 year old French barrique and the other 50% in well seasoned neutral barrels. The winery suggests this Wendling has potential of a long enjoyment window with a “Drink 2020-2030” recommendation, again I wouldn’t argue with that at all, and I also must add the whole lineup is stellar at Drew, not just this one, but be sure to look for their Morning Dew Ranch, the Estate versions, Valenti Ranch and the Fog-Eater Pinots too.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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