Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 28, 2016

2015favaroerbaluce2015 Favaro, Erbaluce di Caluso, La Chiusure, Piedmonte Italy.
The father and son team of Benito and Camillo Favaro make some fantastic wines, especially their heart and soul wine made from the rare, indigenous grape Erbaluce, a varietal that almost went extinct and that has been brought back to life in part by the Favaros, along with Ferrando. Erbaluce has a long history in these parts, dated back to the 1600’s, and it was recently given full DOCG status in the area and known as Erbaluce di Caluso in northern Piedmonte. It just maybe Piedmonte’s most interesting white native grape and wine, far more complex and complete than Cortese, found in Gavi, and better than most Arneis, though there are a few like Brovia that reach greatness, but Erbaluce is special and more unique in character and rarity, in particular Favaro Erbaluce di Caluso from their estate hillside vines in the tiny town of Piverone. The 2015 is the best vintage I’ve had of Favaro Erbaluce di Caluso, it is brilliant, crisp and deep in flavor and vitality with white flowers, wet stones, straw and melon notes leading the way along with quince, lemon/lime, white peach and brisk acidity, white tea and saline chalkiness. Medium weighted, vibrant and steely the latest Favaro is lovely and full of their artisan spirit, it lingers with ripe apple and sappy herbs and is gorgeous with most food choices and cuisine options, though best with light pastas and sea food, especially claims and mussels in mildly spicy broths and rustic bread. This dry white is class and balance in the glass, drink this all estate Favaro Erbaluce di Caluso La Chiusure over the next 2 or 3 years, I love Erbaluce as fresh as possible, though it seems to fill out and develop nicely with dried honey, baked pear and earthy tones coming through over time which can be intriguing as well if you wanted to cellar a few bottles, me I’m drinking it pretty much right now!
($23 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 27, 2016

2013badenhorstred2013 A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines, Red Blend, Coastal Region, South Africa.
The 2013 Badenhorst Family Red is a unique South African wine from near Swaartland in the Coastal Region and it is crafted from most old vine Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsault and a little Tinta Barocca. This vintage shows terroir, cooling southern ocean influence and rocky bush vine landscapes mark this wonderful wine, giving vitality and life force with a cascade of red, black and blue fruits, sage/peppercorn spiciness and earthy/loamy stony notes, it is bright and well defined, but has plenty of density and mouth feel to please and intrigue the palate leading with spiced plum, black raspberry, kirsch and boysenberry fruits along with lavender salt, peppery rosemary, mineral infused rock and a touch of game and anise seed. Well balanced and deep, it is a charming Chateauneuf du Pape or Gigondas like red that delivers wonderful layers of flavor in a hedonistic way and rewards further with food, especially more rustic and robust cuisine choices, from lamb to moussaka. The fruit is opulent and it has sweet tannin, but the spice is tangy/fiery and the savory elements give poise and contrast, this so far is favorite Badenhorst wine, even though I like the Chenin based offerings too, imported to the US by Broadbent Selections, I highly recommend checking it out, as well as the whites and lower end wines too, they are great values and interesting wines also. Drink this beautiful Family Red by Badenhorst over the next 3 to 5 years, there are a lot of new and thrilling wines coming out of South Africa these days, and this one is a great place to start!
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the day October 26, 2016

brundlmayersektnv Weingut Brundlmayer, Extra Brut Sekt, Sparkling White, Kamptal Austria.
It’s not a secret, but truthfully the Brundlmayer Sekt(s) are some of the world’s great bubbly with amazing depth of flavor, complexity and class, with the latest releases reaching even new heights for style and character, especially their Rose and this gorgeous Extra Brut. The Brundlmayer Extra Brut is mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but it is rumored to have some Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc as well, it is usually on it’s lees between 18 and 36 months and the grapes are picked exclusively for sparkling wine and are on more chalky soils to give purity and vibrant fresh mineral detail. It’s fermented super dry in stainless and does go through malo to give richness and raised in big Austrian oak casks. The Brundlmayer Extra Brut Sekt is brisk and bone dry, but loaded with decadence and layers of elegance and complex fruit, mineral tones and is wonderfully long. This vital bubbly really is heavenly with a silken mousse and sublime mouth feel showing concentration and restraint with apple, almond, quince, golden fig, yeasty brioche, white cherry and wet stones along with citrus and white flowers. If you are a grower Champagne lover you’ll admire the excellent terroir influence in found in this Austrian fizz and the remarkable artisan soul and fine balance, this is an awesome expression of place and house style. For the same price as most generic Champagne, this is much more intriguing and glorious choice for the brave and those in the know! Drink as much as you can get, and with it’s Extra Brut dry side and lavish opulence it is perfect as a celebration aperitif, but even better as the main meal wine as it is compelling and deep enough to go with almost any and all cuisine, this is brilliant stuff from Vincent Brundlmayer!
($46 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 25, 2016

2014occhipintifrappato2014 Arianna Occhipinti, Il Frappato, Terre Siciliane, Italy.
The new Il Frappato from Arianna Occhipinti is a pure and elegant example of her style and passion of place, her fans will adore it and it will certainly appeal to a whole new set of wine enthusiasts with it’s beautiful layers of silky fruit, natural earthy character and charmingly unique in detail. Arianna is one of Sicily’s leading lights, her organic and natural approach has been widely followed and her wines have a rabid following, she has become a world class talent, her wines really reflect her personality, hard work and love of place, in particular this Il Frappato, her signature wine, captures her essence perfectly. The latest set of wines, including this one and Arianna’s SP68 Rosso a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola, are complete, complex and exciting wines with graceful mouth feel and compelling length, especially this Il Frappato with it’s richer profile and intriguing strawberry and tangy red berry fruit, exotic spiciness and lovely transparency. The 2014 starts with hints of reduction, so decant if possible, though this will be of no issue as the wine ages a bit longer in bottle, before revealing floral notes, mineral and loam with a pretty ruby/garnet hue in the glass and a silky smooth texture on the palate with subtle pepper, Asian spices, mulberry/lingon berry and an amaro note. The wine is fruity with sweet tannin, but is well balanced with savory/earthy and stony elements, it is controlled with bright acidity and was raised in neutral oak that has refined this poised medium/full Frappato. The wine really gets into a rhythm with air, drinking with purpose and flair, lingering with cinnamon, traces of guava jelly, red peach, saline, truffle and back to wild strawberry. This is one of my favorite Occhipinti wines to date, exceptional stuff, joyous with cuisine and with the potential to develop further with time, I’d say it should need another year or two to fully find itself, best from 2017 to 2022.
($39 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 24, 2016

contadibrutnv Contadi Castaldi, Brut, Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy.
The lovely and vital Contadi Castaldi Brut shows the finesse and elegance of the Franciacorta region and the style that has made it a world famous spot for Champagne class bubbly. This remote and beautiful spot in Italy Lombardy region has a terroir that excels in producing acid rich and mineral laced grapes perfect for great sparkling wines, and uniquely French in character with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the main varietals, they also allow Pinot Blanc as well, very different from the native grape you find in Prosecco, and while there are some fantastic Prosecco wines, nothing in Italy compares to the top Franciacorta wines, especially the long aged vintage wines, like the gorgeous offerings from Berlucchi, Ca’ del Bosco and Bellavista craft, but certainly for the price the Contadi Castaldi delivers a great bubbly. I love the fresh vibrant detail in the Contadi Castaldi Brut and subtle richness of the lees, it shows refinement and decadence with brioche, vivid citrus notes, touches of steely mineral, golden fig, apple and hazelnut add complexity in a brisk dry frame. The climate and sandy/chalky soils of the famed Lake district of Italy comes through in each beautiful sip, this is a fine and excellent sparkler to enjoy anytime and the price for what you get is remarkable as well, great with seafood cuisines, especially lobster, perfect for celebrating and or just because you want a glass of bubbles.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 23, 2016

2014acosta2014 Eduardo Torres Acosta, Nerello Mascalese, Versante Nord, Terre Siciliane, Italy.
Eduardo Torres Acosta is a young winemaker that has been in Sicily since 2012, coming from the Canary Islands and working with Arianna Occhipinti, one of Sicily’s most dynamic talents, and now has released his first solo effort from Mount Etna, and it’s an outstanding Etna Rosso with natural/earthy sex appeal and old world charm. Because Eduardo is making his wines at Arianna Occhipinti’s estate, he can’t call the wine an Etna Rosso DOC, but is all volcanic Nerello Mascalese that comes from choice leased plots. The young Spaniard got the attention of famed Etna producer Passopisciaro and is now working there as an enologist, after his apprenticeship with Ms. Occhipinti, and even though an outsider in a new place he has flourished and become part of this tight island community quickly and his wines will certainly gain him much wider attention as well. The deeply hued 2014 Versante Nord is slightly funky and reduced as many natural wines are at first, it reminds me a little of an old Domaine Maume or a young Henri Gouge Burgundy in that way, but once decanted and aired out gorgeous pure Nerello Mascalese details coming out with trufflely notes mixed with floral character, cinnamon stick, dried roses, flinty spices with dusty plum, strawberry and black cherry fruits as well as shale stone, dried currants, minty lavender and blueberry skins. This is really good and exciting wine, from a region that is getting a lot of buzz right now, it has everything you’d want, and even with the funkiness the beautiful mouth feel and vitality will win you over, this is a classic Etna, a rustic/raw terroir driven beauty! It needs plenty of air and should be paired with food to show it’s true potential and textures, but it is an impressive first effort and is very stylish and rewarding, this is a label to search out and keep an eye on, well made and well priced too, imported by Farm Wines and Louis Dressner, same as Occhipinti.
($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 22, 2016

2012cascinavaldelpretelino2012 Cascina Val del Prete, Roero Nebbiolo, Vigna di Lino, Piedmonte, Italy.
Classic and timeless in style the latest release from Cascina Val del Prete is a wonderful and concentrated Nebbiolo with layers upon layers of terroir and varietal purity with exquisite detail, power and length. The 2012 Roero Vigna di Lino starts with tar, dried rose petal, spicy lavender, poached plum, loamy earth, game and tangy red currants building on the palate with mulberry, cedar, black salted licorice and kirsch soaked violets. This is a rich, intense and full bodied Nebbiolo that is stunningly almost Barolo like in impact and attention grabbing form, but with fine balance, firm tannins, highlighting the vintage with vibrant, almost juicy, acidity and mineral laced charms. Over the years I’ve enjoyed many wines for this traditional producer, especially their awesome Barbera wines that can age with gorgeous effect for 10 to 15 years, but I think they’ve reached a new level with this 2012 Roero Vigna di Lino, this is a beauty and certainly a must have wine for Nebbiolo fans! This impressive an earthy Nebbiolo has amazing potential for mid to long term development, and even though it is taught and tight with youthful vigor it can be enjoyed even now, though it will need decanting and robust cuisine to bring out it’s glorious best, drink from 2020 to 2032, this is an impressive wine!
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 21, 2016

2014stolpmansyrah2014 Stolpman Vineyards, Syrah, Estate Grown, Ballard Canyon.
The latest set of Stolpman releases are all exciting wines, beautifully made, vibrant and expressive in detail and richness of fruit, especially their 2014 Estate Grown Syrah, which is a tremendous wine of class and character. It was great to taste the wines with Jessica Stolpman, Pete’s wife and hear in detail how each wine was made and hear the struggles of an all organic estate and dry famed vineyard, as well as the care and passion brought to the wines through winemaker Sashi Moorman and vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano, who himself, is becoming a star for his big heart and the amazing grapes he brings into the cellar. Tom Stolpman is an almost heroic figure in the California wine scene, planting in the little known Santa Ynez Valley and focusing on Syrah, when the world was going crazy for Pinot Noir, making incredible wines and raising the world’s attention the terroir here, and almost single-handedly creating the Ballard Canyon AVA, a small strip of hillsides on limestone that makes for some of the best Syrah in California. Now Peter, Tom’s son, is taking the reins and leading the winery to even more acclaim with his efforts to promote this place and these awesome wines. The 2014 Estate Syrah is an electrically charged and vigorous red with a flow of spicy, powerful black and blue fruit that fills the palate and sensationally drinks like a classic northern Rhone with blackberry, boysenberry, plum and blueberry fruit along with vital acidity, ripe tannins and cool climate complexity showing chalky stones, peppercorns, black olives, hints of violets, cassis, anise, black fig, camphor and lavender oil. This is brilliant stuff, fermented in concrete with 50% whole cluster, it is one of the best values around for the absolute pleasure, style and quality in the bottle! Deep intensity of color and layers of flavors are hallmarks of Stolpman Syrah and the 2014 has it all and more, it is superb with cuisine and opens up and gets seductively decedent with air, it should age nicely too, best from 2018 to 2028. Stolpman has lots of other interesting wines out as well, while I was quite taken by the 2014 Estate, the 2013 Originals old vine Syrah is fabulous too with even more grip and power, but is in need of extra bottle age to deliver it’s best, the Croce 2013 a co-fermented Syrah and Sangiovese masterpiece of the exotic, wildly sexy and intriguing, and the very entertaining Syrah and Petit Vedot non estate Para Maria 2015 Red “de los tecolotes” that Ruben sources fruit for, with proceeds shared with the vineyard crew, and named for Maria, Stolpman’s harvest forewoman! Look for all the Stolpman offerings, in particular the reds from 2013, 2014 and 2015, this was a great showing and these wines deserve your attention.
($32 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 20, 2016

2014nanclaresalbarinosoverribas2014 Alberto Nanclares, Albarino, Soverribas, La Vina del Mochuelo, Rias Baixas, Spain.
The Nanclares Albarino(s) are some of the most intellectual and beautiful artisan crafted white wines in Spain, and are some of most stunning examples of varietal and terroir you can find. These transparent and lovely whites show intensity, clarity and vitality with amazing depth and grace, bursting with vigorous acidity, mineral expression and vibrant fruit, even the basic Albarino is gorgeous, but this Soverribas is a single vineyard wine and it has it’s own stamp of character and salty freshness that sets it apart, it’s vivid, briny and has a touch of green that contrasts well against it’s bitter apple and citrus core. Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto make the wines here and have converted to mostly all biodynamic practices and organic methods, and in this marine influenced region of Galicia, that was a huge undertaking and makes for seriously hard work in the vines, but it has it’s rewards and their wines show their passion and grit, these are special wines of remarkable purity and grace. The 2014 vintage Soverribas la Vina del Mochuelo Albarino shines in the glass with a bright pale golden hue and brisk start to the palate, it reminds me of a leesy Muscadet, but with the intense pop of super dry Riesling, while being truly unique to it’s self and pure Albarino with lemon/lime, white peach, wet river stones, saline and steely green melon. Added details emerge with air and the lees give a hint of smoke and body to this zesty medium bodied white along with traces of seashore, chalk, dried herb and flinty spice. This tangy and austere Albarino has a very restrained, super dry,  youthfulness, like a Chablis, but really turns on the charm with food, especially mussels, oysters and fish dishes, I love it, and highly recommend searching these Nanclares wines out, these handcrafted and small production wines are imported by Jose Pastor Selections. This Soverribas is an authentic and honest wine that has a sense of place and vintage, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 19, 2016

2015arnotrobertstrousseau2015 Arnot-Roberts, Trousseau, North Coast.
The hauntingly pale and delicate 2015 Arnot-Roberts Trousseau looks more rose than red, but is full of flavor and depth with finesse and lingering intensity. Because of a disastrous fruit set for Trousseau in their new Sonoma Coast vineyards, the 2015 is all from their original plot at Luchsinger Vineyard in Lake County, this site with it’s iron rich volcanic soils and rocky terroir makes for a light colored red, with almost no pigment, but with lots of extract, and it’s totally unique in character with beautiful mouth feel and complexity, yet in a light format and low alcohol wine, this vintage is just about 12%, and the wine shows fine balance, satiny textures and vitality. Nathan Roberts and Duncan Meyers handcraft each wine, in this case they use native ferments and aged the Trousseau Noir in neutral oak, using as the label says, 1 Foudre, 5 Puncheons and 6 Barrels. The results are a light red with tree picked cherry, wild strawberry and tart plum fruits with hints of mineral, fennel, subtle earth and savory elements, finishing with a juicy spiced raspberry tea note. This is a ripe vintage and the fruit is quite forward and succulent, but you can still taste it’s historical connection to the old world wines of the Jura region in France in the background, it reminds me of the Jean-Francois Ganevat wines a lot, this is really fun stuff and it’s cult like following is justified. All of the Arnot-Roberts 2015 wines are worth searching out, and while there will be rush to grab every last bottle of this Trousseau, you should also look for their stunning set of Chardonnays, the new 2015 Trout Gulch in particular is gorgeous, as well is their deep and beautiful 2015 North Coast Syrah. Also it recent years they have made some impressive Pinot Noir, but their new 2015’s take it up a notch with exciting detailed fruit and Burgundy like silky/earthy layers. The new set of Arnot-Roberts wines are star quality, sadly hard to find, and this Trousseau 2015 is a thrill, drink it over the next 3 to 5 years.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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