Wine of the Day April 16, 2014

2011EquipoNavazosOVNIsecoPX2011 Equipo Navazos “OVNI”, Vino Blanco Seco (dry) Pedro Ximénez, Montilla-Moriles, Andalucia, Spain.
This is a totally engaging crisp white from just outside the Sherry region in Montilla-Moriles is made from all Pedro Ximenez fermented in concrete amphora and stainless to give both freshness and roundness. This non Sherry, but Fino like wine though not as oxidized or is it fortified, it comes in at about 11.5% alcohol, making for a light to medium wine with lots of zest and character, perfect with seafood, picnics and of course savory tapas. Equipo Navazos is a new project that is exploring small lots of varied Sherry styles of wine, and the results are fascinating and leading the way for more people to become entranced with these exotic and largely undiscovered wines and this mysterious region in the southern most part of Spain. This delightfully expressive white shows lime, green apple, hints of white peach, chalk and mineral along with lemon oil and rind, tangerine, grapefruit and just the right amount of cashew nuttiness to remind you it is inspired by the region and style. The OVNI Vino Blanco Seco Pedro Ximenez is a fun and interesting white that really is a great palate refresher and starter wine at the Tapas Bar, I highly recommend checking what is going on with Sherry, there is some really exciting things coming out and it is a totally new world to enter for most wine lovers. I was wowed by this little gem, thanks to Duende Restaurant and Bar on Telegraph in Oakland for the introduction, this is a cool spot with some amazing food too.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 15, 2014

HidaldoWellingtonNV Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, Sherry, Palo Cortado “Wellington” 20 Years V.O.S. Jerez-Xérès, Andalucia, Spain.
The dry Palo Cortado Wellington 20 Sherry from Hidalgo is magnificent and beautiful with lots of savory character and a long fantastic finish, this is sublime stuff from the Jerez region of Spain, and perfect with a range of tapas. Sherry is a mysterious and complex world that can really intrigue and excite, from dry to sweet it is magic and a world to explore, I am grateful to Duende Restaurant in Oakland for offering this fine and distinct Sherry on their eclectic by the glass wine list, it went great with all their delicious small plates, this Spanish-World cuisine bistro downtown Oakland is a must visit spot for fun, food and interesting Sherry, the food is terrific and the place has a cool easy charm that makes it comfortable and exciting. We started with a fresh Fino made with Pedro Ximenez that was a super clean refreshing palate cleanser before finding this gorgeous Palo Cortado which was lovely amber in the glass and dry on the palate with a rich oily quality, but not over the top and it still has some acidity, plus lots of classic nuttiness with pecan, cashews and hazelnuts along with hints of orange rind, lemon and peach fruits plus sea salt, brine and caramel. Palo Cortado is a rare type of Sherry, it is a unique style that doesn’t often happen, it is started as a Fino, under Flor, but somehow starts to oxidize so they fortify it, only about 2% of Sherry grapes go through this and become Palo Cortado, it is also a crisp wine, but gains richer flavors, it is divine and glorious stuff and the age adds complexity, this is a Sherry lovers dream. Great with tapas, cheeses or sipping, it proved a wonderful companion and I will be re-visiting it and Duende again soon!
($38 Est. 500ml) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 14, 2014

2011LeMiccineCC2011 Le Miccine, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
The Le Miccine estate is located in the heart of Chianti Classic between Radda and Gaiole, in fact it is closer and part of Gaiole and it sits in a unique micro-climate in the hills, it is at about 400 Metres and has a slight valley effect which makes it a near perfect terroir with warm days and cooler nights allowing a long ripening season. The estate is now owned and run by the beautiful and dynamic Paula Papini Cook, who took it over in 2010 at the young age of 24, she is experienced in winemaking already with past work at Le Nozzle and in Bordeaux, she holds both French and Italian doctorates in winemaking and has converted Le Miccine to organic practices and has put out some compelling wines, including this wonderful Chianti Classico that is mostly of course Sangiovese, but with a bit of Malvasia Nera and Colorino in the blend, it was gently fermented in stainless then after malo it is then aged between 12-16 months in large French cask, Paula will employ differing techniques depending on vintage demands to capture the essence of her terroir, so far so good, and I can’t wait to see how this new project develops, it has incredible potential and the talented Papini Cook looks to be living the dream. The 2011 Le Miccini is a forward lush Chianti with rich flavors, pretty detailing and outstanding depth with good structure and balance, I was highly impressed, it starts with floral notes, sweet and savory elements from dried flowers, wild herbs and dark fruits with a touch of game and spice leading to a round generous palate of blackberry, red cherry, plum and strawberry reduction along with tobacco leaf, minty anise, crushed lavender, a hint of meat, mineral tones and a touch balsamic. The finish is fruity and the acidity is well integrated leaving a long aftertaste, but with nice freshness for a 14+ percent red. I tasted the sample bottle over the course of three days and it just got better and better with each sip, these are entreating wines. Drink this lovely wine over the next 3-5 years, I am hoping Le Miccine will be more available in the USA soon, now it is hard to find, and I’m grateful to Paula Papini Cook for sending the samples, so I could try her wines, so if any importers are listening, you should check out Le Miccine!
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 13, 2014

2011EpochEstate2011 Epoch, Estate Blend, Proprietary Red, Paso Robles.
Epoch (Pronounced “Epic”) Wines is a recently established star in the California wine scene and these unique cuvees are some of the most compelling and alluring all California wines out there, made by one of the best young winemaking teams headed by Jordan Fiorentini and consultant Justin Smith of Saxum fame, you must give credit to owners Bill and Liz Armstrong, they’ve spared no expense and put total faith and belief in their terroir, vision and style and it has paid off. The 2011 Estate Blend is made of 37% Syrah, 28% Grenache, 19% Mourvédre,10% Tempranillo and 6% Counoise coming from Epoch historic Paderewski Vineyard and their newest site Catapult Vineyard, it was raised in concrete, stainless and bins, aged about a year and a half in French oak, half new, and bottled unfined and unfiltered, without question this has to be considered one of the 2011′s vintage most successful wines, especially in its price class. The Estate Blend is an energy filled expression of westside Paso, it has wonderful full flavors, elegantly refined tannins and structure and focus with lush fruit, spice, texture and depth all unfolding with style and charm, it has elements that remind me of Linne Calodo, Saxum, Torrin, Law Estates and Booker some of the heroic wines of the region, and Tablas Creek one of the pioneers of Westside Paso Robles which is seeing some of the most innovative wines in the state. If you were going in search of a great 2011 wine, Epoch would have to be at the top of your list, it is truly epic and terrific, it arts with black fruits, pepper, violets and spring flowers, almost like a Chateauneuf du Pape, it has a lavish palate of boysenberry, baked cherry, blueberry compote, raspberry and plum fruits with vanilla spice, white pepper, lavender oil, black licorice, soy/balsamic notes, crushed stones, chalk dust, game and saline, making for a incredible pleasing experience and a darkly rich wine that is full and loaded with glorious texture and life. The new Epoch Estate Blend is an over achiever and one very sexy red, drink now and for the next 5 to 7 years.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 12, 2014

2011RidgeCS2011 Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of the vintage’s best secrets and surprises the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from the famed Monte Bello Vineyard is a truly glorious and elegant wine, made from a classic Bordeaux blend, 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc, and weighs in at 13% alcohol. This new release from Ridge is from what can be considered a difficult if not bad year for most of California, but as per normal here at Ridge it made one of the best wines of the vintage in this trying growing period, there is just something special about Monte Bello and against all odds and common sense, we end up with a remarkable wine to cherish. The 2011 has a Pauillac meets Margaux feel, there is the firmness and black fruit that almost remind you of Pontet-Canet and the lush polish of Margaux, but cliches are not completely honest in this pure California red, it shows density, finesse and rich detail plus open fruit drinkability that Bordeaux doesn’t usually give and that California is famous for. The nose is complex with dark fruit, crushed stone, violet/acacia flowers and loamy earth with hints of toast/smoky char and graphite leading to a medium bodied palate of blackberry, dark currants, cherry and plum fruits with touches of licorice, sage, vanilla and savory elements along with cigar wrapper and bitter chocolate and a lingering finish of creme de cassis. This Cabernet certainly stands out in it’s price class and for the vintage, it has everything you’d expect from Ridge and is finely crafted and shows freshness throughout with soft tannins and juicy acidity, the Merlot adds some plump, while the other grapes add interest, look for this suburb Cabernet to fill out a bit more in bottle over the next year or so, but drink young, best from 2015 to 2020. I can’t wait to see how good the legendary Monte Bello is, especially as this is so good, I love just about everything coming out of Ridge these days and 2012 looks to be a blockbuster year, the future is looking great for one of California’s most prized wineries, bravo.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 11, 2014

2012ArnotRobertsRose2013 Arnot-Roberts, Rose, Luchsinger Vineyard, Clear Lake.
It’s Spring, it’s warm and it is full on Rose season with many exciting choices out there from Sheldon’s Rose of Graciano to Rochioli’s rare Rose of Pinot Noir and Matthiasson’s Napa Valley Rose all tasting great right now, but for something even more unique you might want to hurry and get some of this fantastic Pink from Arnot-Roberts. The 2013 Arnot-Roberts Rose is made from Touriga Nacional, the Portuguese grape common in Port wines, it is grown on the volcanic soils of Lake County, at Luchsinger Vineyard, north of Napa Valley and makes for a terrific and interesting Rose with lively acidity, spice and loads of flavor. Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts started Arnot-Roberts back in 2001, it seems like yesterday, and have since become one of the must have wines and Duncan’s winemaking is on fire, the latest wines are fantastic, I’m a huge fan of his Syrah, Chardonnay and the Trousseau, but I can tell you I’ll be sipping on the Rose as much as possible, this is dynamite stuff. The 2013 Rose of Touriga Nacional is bright with a nose of flinty red spices, tangy cherry, subtle floral and light plum notes leading to a palate of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon and red citrus along with mineral and pepper. Everything is framed by lively fresh acidity and it is zesty from start to finish with the perfect amount of crispy character and mouth watering saline, though there is plenty of lingering fruit aftertaste and this Rose is very fulfilling, drink now.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at ($24.95)

Wine of the Day April 10, 2014

2012LEnvoye2Messengers2012 Maison L’Envoye, Pinot Noir, Two Messengers, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Maison L’Envoye wines are made by the next generation of Etzel, Mike Etzel Jr, his dad Mike Etzel senior is of course the man behind the iconic Beaux Freres, he is helped along by famed Burgundy winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair giving this project excitement and pedigree. These wines by Maison L’Envoye are lush, richly flavored and complex with mineral, spice, loam and truffle notes, and this Two Messengers is wonderfully balance, and even though it is the entry level wine for this project, it is a lovely effort, maybe the upper end “Attache” ($39.95) might give a bit more and will be certainly worth looking at, I just am highly impressed with this one. The nose is deep with blackberry, violets, dried rose petals, blueberry and red spices leading to a palate of raspberry, plum and black cherry fruit, flinty stones, mocha and anise with hints of wild mushrooms, strawberry and tea spices. This is beautiful wine, easy to love and showcases the vintage, this is a super new wine to search for and start collecting, drink now through 2018.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 9, 2014

2012EngelRiesling2012 Domaine Fernand Engel, Riesling “Cuvee Engel” Alsace, France.
With Spring fully singing now, my thoughts return to one of favorite grapes, Riesling and it’s zest freshness that makes everything feel refreshed and alive after the cool winter months. This terrific value priced Riesling from France’s Alsace region really turns on the charm and gives lots of expressive flavors with tropical and earthy layers, spice and mineral riding on a light to medium palate of crisp and tangy tension and subtle intensity. The Fernand Engel estate is farmed organic and uses biodynamic practices in the vineyards, it shows a love of their land and the wines certainly show refinement and terroir, especially this Riesling Cuvee Engel, plus this wine sees good time on it’s lees, this adds depth and richness.There’s floral notes, bright apple, lime and apricot to go with zesty citrus and peachy layers along with pepper, clove, dried rose petals and briny notes. This is classic and groovy Alsace Riesling, subtle lifting acidity drives the engine and detailed mineral, loam and wet stones add complexity beyond the mentioned fruit, finishing with hints of tropical essences, I am in Spring mood with this one, this is a very happy wine, it’s a winner in my book!
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive


avail at ($16.95)

Wine of the Day April 8, 2014

2012PYCMRully2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Rully “Les Cailloux” White Burgundy, France.
The small lot wines of Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey are hot ticket items and the demand is fierce, this guy is on fire and Burgundy lovers are scrambling to get his latest releases. I managed to score his Rully Les Cailloux to sample and I can attest to the talents Colin-Morey and to the quality of the 2012 vintage, which will be extremely scarce, with as much as 60% of the production in the Cote de Beaune lost to a small crop that was weather damaged by hail. What came in the end was a tiny crop of sublime fruit and everyone is trying desperately to get their hands on these wines. Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s Rully Les Cailloux 2012 is from the Cote Chalonnaise and near the Chagny commune, and is is elegant, classic and charming, this is a pure Chardonnay that delivers all that is expected of it with layers of lemon, baked apple, pear and white peach, along with hazelnuts, sea salt and plenty of juicy acidity plus steely mineral notes and lots of wet stones. With air complexity and depth come into play in this compelling 12% alcohol white, with palm dates, golden fig, clove and lime flower all playing roles, this is lovely and vibrant stuff, I can only imagine how wonderful his Cru wines are, if you see these wines I suggest you grab them.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


avail at ($39.95)

Wine of the Day April 7, 2014

2012FauryCondrieu2012 Domaine Faury, Condrieu, Rhone White, France.
Philippe and his son Lionel make exquisite wines, hand crafted in the Northern Rhone, they specialize in small lot Syrah from Cote-Rotie and St.-Joseph, but they really do a masterful job with their whites, especially the 100% Viognier from Condrieu. The 2012 may just be their finest wine to date, I think so anyway, and I’ve been a fan of these wines for some 4 or 5 years now, it is remarkably poised yet powerful with intense fruit, mineral and wonderful texture. The Domaine’s vines are on steep slopes, produce tiny yields and are gently fermented, using stainless and neutral wood, with only about 10% new barrels used to provide richness without losing the freshness and detail of this gorgeous wine. These vines are on granite soils and gives wonderful terroir expression and varietal purity, the juice is on it’s lees for 11 months adding complexity and lavish depth while allowing vibrancy and bright acidity to heighten the experience, this is classy and hedonistic Viognier no question. The nose is all honeysuckle, jasmine, steely minerals and crushed gravel with tree picked peaches and apricots on the full palate with hints of green apple and tangy citrus notes while touches of earth and spice add to the stylish array of flavors. Look for this wine to drink well for 3 to 5 years, I honestly enjoy Viognier more young and vivid, and this wine is a stunner! Condrieu in a vintage like this can rival any white, I highly recommend grabbing some while they are available and this Faury, imported by Kermit Lynch,  would be a great way to start.
($56 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($53.95)