Wine of the Day September 21, 2014

GrantAmontilladoBodegas Grant, La Garrocha, Amontillado, Medium Dry, Sherry, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Spain.
The Bodegas Grant has been making fine Sherries since 1841 and their La Garrocha label is a tribute to the local Andalusian dance on horseback, current proprietor Edmundo Grand continues his family’s long traditions and the Bodega crafts some of the best value in small batch Sherry. I love the whole line from crisp Fino to rich, oil Oloroso, but I especially like this fabulous La Garrocha Amontillado, it is a steal at about $15 or so on the shelf. The Grant Amontillado La Garrocha starts with a dark amber hue, a heady bouquet of the ocean, almonds and warm honey with a hint of marmalade and flowers leading to a dry, but rich palate of roosted pecans, walnut, orange rind, hazelnut, stone fruit,sea salt, brine and peach tart. This is decedent Sherry that goes with many moods and foods, I had it with a spicy sardines on flat bread, but it would pair with cheeses too, as well as be a great pre or post dinner sipper. The medium dry style Amontillado is very flexible, feeling nicely balanced with a subtle play of savory, bitter and richness, but with a long finish that leaves a lingering oily/nutty/honeycomb aftertaste and has you dreaming of the south of Spain, this a very pleasing and reliable Sherry, drink now and often.
($16 Est. 375ml.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 20, 2014

2010RelicCS2010 Relic, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
The duo of Mike Hirby and Schatzi Throckmorton make and run Relic, a small lot winery in Napa Valley, these two worked at the famed Behrens & Hitchcock and craft some great wines, including some of the best Petite Sirah and Syrah wines in the Valley. Mike also makes Realm and has consulted at D.R. Stephens, Husic and Sarocka, while Schatzi continues to run and manage Behrens & Hitchcock, these are hardworking and busy people, who deserve some light shinning on them, especially for their work at Relic. They have done a bit of Chardonnay and have a new Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir coming, so it’s exciting times for this small label and winery, but you should not miss their 2010 Cabernet, this is impressive stuff. The 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon which is sourced from top tiny parcels is a big, dense and deeply colored wine, but that has structure and remarkably refined tannins and lifting cut, this is not shy at about 15%, though you’d not find any overripe or heat in this well balance Cab, it is shockingly easy to love and evolves nicely in the glass, pure and wonderfully layered from start to finish. The Relic Cabernet starts with plenty of dark fruit, wild flowers and hints of sweet oak and smoky embers leading to a mouth coating full palate of blackberry, currant, plum and blueberry fruit along with a mineral streak, mocha, creme de cassis, licorice, cedar and vanilla all playing supporting roles plus as it gets air some tobacco/cigar wrap, sage and acacia come through. This excellent Napa red is really starting to strut it’s stuff, but it should be at it’s best between 2016 and 2024.
($65 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Happy #GrenacheDay from Grapelive

Happy Grenache Day 2014

2013AlfredoMaestroGarnacha2013 Alfredo Maestro, Garnacha “El Marciano” Garnacha de Gredos-Navarredondilla (Avila) Spain.
Here’s a beautiful and complex Grenache to celebrate Grenache Day 2014 and beyond! Today, September 19, 2014 is International Grenache Day, #GrenacheDay on Facebook and Twitter, so get your Grenache on! I love this new Alfredo Maestro Grenache, but from California you can also check out Sheldon Grenache (another big favorite of mine) from the Sonoma Coast too. The latest from the talented Alfredo Maestro is his El Marciano, the Martian, with the little green men on the label, and this earthy example is lively, vibrancy and bursting with a mix of flavors. All of the new wine from Alfredo Maestro are lovely, but for Grenache Day it has to be this one, no question, it is rich and juicy, but energy filled with blackberry, plum, earthy spices, truffle notes and loads of loam and mineral elements along with pepper, cedar and framboise. This wine is tangy, very darkly hued and a joy from start to finish, from very old vines, all natural in the farming and winemaking, Maestro uses no new oak here and allows the wine to showcase it’s terroir and purity, this is a very engaging red from a rising star and a must try winery. Happy Grenache Day! Cheers! Drink now and for the next 2-3 years, best from 2015 to 2018.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 19, 2014

2009ChapellePN2009 Paul Chapelle, Santenay “Gravieres” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The Paul Chapelle wines have to be some of the most underrated wines in all of Burgundy, here a guy who worked with or consulted for De Montille, Jobard and Ramonet, plus Lafarge and Simon Bize, and yet almost no one knows about him or his wonderful wines! I can tell you, I’ve been a fan for years, not even knowing his history, I must thank Beaune Imports from showing me these wines many years back, I have enjoyed many a Paul Chapelle Cote de Beaune wine at home, his Puligny and Meursault wines especially, but the is this glorious and pretty little Santenay Premier Cru Gravieres too, it s a lovely Pinot Noir with class, grace and vigor that screams “Here I am and you can afford me, take me home!” and you know what? I did, and I hope to do so again often! I can honestly say, Paul Chapelle makes better whites, but you should not pass up his Santenay, there are not much better Pinot Noirs out there at this price. These wines are old school, pure and traditional, you can see from the guys Paul worked for or with to understand what he believes and this 2009 Santenay Premier Cru Gravieres showcases this brilliantly with about 13% alcohol and loads of chalky mineral/stony elements this is not a fat/fleshy wine, but a wine with savvy, finesse and still generous with round, pleasing texture and persistency with black cherry, plum and cranberry fruits, briar, spice, dusty tannins (very Volnay like) and mild cedar, fig paste, and loamy earth. With air things fill out as you’d expect from a ripe vintage, but focus and vibrancy hold true, this is sexy-classy in the same glass. Drink now, or hold for a few years, best from 2015 to 2020. Paul Chapelle & ses Filles from Le Poil, Montagny-les-Beaune, makes an honest Burgundy, these are wine lovers wines not fashion labels, but stylish and great values, be sure to check them out soon.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 18, 2014

2011RodriguezEidos2011 Luis Rodriguez Vazquez, Eidos Ermos Tinto, Ribeiro DO, Spain.
The Luis Rodriguez label is something of a celebrity wine in the Ribeiro, these wines are always sought after and they garner high praise from around the world, especially from wine professionals and critics, these are special and unique wines, I have loved many a release from Rodriguez’s estate with the white and the A Torna Dos Pasas red really making a huge impression in the past. The Eidos Ermos is new to me and comes with a whole new mix of varietals I’ve never heard of before, making for an exciting new experience and a truly magical wine. This cuvee is a field blend of Brancellao, Caiño, Ferrol and Garnacha Tintorera (Grenache Noir I believe) all of which are fermented naturally together from vines that are on an ancient estate site that is farmed organic. The Luis Rodriguez wines always capture the essence of the place, they are energy filled and deep in flavors, the Eidos Ermos 2011 with Brancellao a grape that is thought to be more native to Portugal and Caiño Tinto which seems to be related to Albarino plus Ferrol a very rare varietal that seems to be very high in Anti-Oxidants all add up to an interesting mix along with the Garnacha from the cool climate of the Ribeiro. The wine itself is darkly hued, medium weighted and silky in texture with dark fruits, spice and mineral all playing out in a gorgeous seamless fashion, this is fantastic wine and a great value for something so wildly unique. The Eidos Ermos Tinto starts with black cherry, blackberry, plum and blueberry fruits, steely and stony mineral notes, wild herbs, briar and pepper spice, mint, licorice and cedar with polished tannins, lively acidity and sublime focus. This is crazy delicious wine from Spain’s glorious north west in the greater Galicia region, this is an area of fantastic potential and remarkable discoveries, be sure to keep an eye out for the Luis Rodriguez wines, this will blow your mind, drink from 2014 to 2021.
($26 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 17, 2014

2011CuilleronStJoe2011 Yves Cuilleron, Saint-Joseph, L’ Amarybelle, Vieilles Vignes, Rhone, France.
I tasted the 2011 L’ Amarybelle twice now, and both times was left very much impressed, this Saint-Joseph old vine Syrah is just beautiful in everyday, very much like a Cote-Rotie in style with elegance, delicacy and clear with a long persistent finish. While drinking very generous and graceful now, this lovely wine should fill out and gain complexity with some bottle age, Cuilleron is a master at making superb early enjoyment in his offerings, his wines show a pure focus of flavors and refinement right at release, even though they can age nicely for many years. His regular varietal bottling are great value wines as well, so don’t miss they, his latest Roussanne and Viognier are both wonderful especially, though if you want some a bit more serious then wines like his Condrieu and this Saint-Joseph L’ Amarybelle really do the trick. The 2011 L’ Amarybelle starts with violets, camphor, graphite and minerally dark fruits with hints of truffle and spice leading to a medium weight palate of boysenberry, cassis, blackberry, plum, anise and pea gravel along with peppercorns, black olives, blueberry and mountain herbs. The finish is long and graceful, with pretty elements lingering on the youthful and slightly chalky aftertaste. Drink this fine terroir driven effort over the next 5 to 7 years, best between 2015 and 2022, Cuilleron makes great go to Rhones, I’ve been a big fan for many years and continue to be greatly impressed by his stylish wines, be sure to check these latest releases, they are some of his best yet.
($45 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 16, 2014

2007Rovelloto2007 Rovellotti, Ghemme “Chioso dei Pomi” DOCG, Piedmonte, Italy.
The northern Piedmonte region is really becoming the hot spot for great Nebbiolo wines, especially the areas of the Colli Novaresi, these are really wonderfully expressive wines with depth and complexity. The Ghemme wines had only been mild curiosities in the past, but now these wines are as serious as many Barolo or Barbaresco, and it certain cases, like this Rovellotti can reach amazing levels of quality, this 2007 is simply as good as Nebbiolo can get and rivals it’s much more famous cousins from Alba and Asti. The DOCG in Ghemme means the wine must age 20 months in wood and 9 months in bottle prior to release, and they also allow the blending in of Vespolina known locally as either Uva Rara or Bonarda di Gattinara (though not related to two other grapes named Bonarda in Italy or the Bonarda in Argentina!) this adds unique character to the wines here, it gives the Nebbiolo, known native here as Spanna, some lift and exotic notes. The Rovellotti Gheme Chioso die Pomi had an extra long maceration to extract structure, pigment and flavor, helping endure it’s long 20 months in wood, but it still has delicate color, showing a pale orange rim around a light ruby hue and this wine is impeccably crafted with wonderfully pure layers, classic Nebbiolo power and elegance, heightened tones and a stylish long finish. The wine starts with bright red fruits, wilted roses, Asian spices and glorious mineral elements leading to a robust and taught palate with firm, but refined tannins that with air feel ripe and silky with just a faint dustiness, there is plenty of cherry, damson plum, raspberry and strawberry fruit to please, plus added interest coming from hints of truffle, dried fig, cedar, lavender, tar, briar, salted black licorice and a whiff of earth, game and a lingering tangy currant aftertaste. This is dynamic and terrific Nebbiolo from Rovelletti, I thought the 2006 was a stunner, and this vintage might even surpass that glorious effort, this is truly a spectacular wine, drink from 2016 to 2024 for the best rewards, but I have no problem just drinking it now myself, and certainly would be a hard not to open a few bottle sooner vs later!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Special Tasting Report

Grapelive Flashback
By Kerry Winslow

Wine is a celebration of a moment in time as much as it is a celebration of place and tasting old vintages is like a flashback in time, it reminds and stirs old thoughts, people and emotions, it an essential joy in experiencing wine. I am better suited to tasting young wines, but I am also thrilled to taste very old bottles and see what history has to say. Sometimes there is nothing left, maybe a hint or a sad whisper of life left, but other times there is magic, something truly special to rejoice in, and it is always best to have these times with people, a shared experience, with wonder, laughter and child like fascination, that is when wine is at it’s most glorious. Here are a few of my latest flashbacks, they include a very much alive and kicking California Cab from 1970, a fading 1983 Chateauneuf and a couple of other interesting characters that popped up in this last week.

1970MondaviCS1970 Robert Mondavi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
For sure at full mature status, but still alive with secondary flavors and refinement, this is classy stuff with autumn leaves, forest floor, mild stewing of red fruits along with loam, currant, black cherry, mint/anise, sandalwood and tea notes adding to a core of plum, blackberry and cedar. I was getting this bottle late, maybe after a few hours of being opened, but things were very together and while not a mind-blowing wine, this was a great drinking old California wine, holding on respectably well, and certainly if you were to find a bottle of this wine out and about it would be a super evening spent enjoying a more than pleasant Napa Cabernet at 44 years of age! As with the next wine, a big thank you goes out to Josiah and Stevie of Bay Grape in Oakland California for sharing this beauty with me, their kindness is something for which I’m most grateful, they have a very cool wine shop and tasting bar, be sure to support them if you live near by.

1983Beaucastel1983 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
I have had a few old Beaucastels, and have even had direct from the Chateau bottles with Francois Perrin, a once in a lifetime experience to taste about 10 vintages of Jacques Perrin, plus I have twice in the distant past had this 1983, so it was wonderful to see what it was like now, even if only a flitting glimpse. Well, this bottle was fading fast and while I enjoyed it, it must be said I think she’s toast at this point, but I highly suggest drinking it up, as I have found lots of bottle variation and there will be some real gems, even though it won’t get any better from this point on. Again, I got some of this bottle late on and while I personally found some fruit and pleasing character, many of those that tried it didn’t have the same joys. I know these wines show high levels of brett and can be very animal/horsey in flavor, this bottle was more about soy sauce, bouillon cube, decaying flowers and strawberry reduction. Each sip was differing and while very beefy in profile there was hints of past glory with kirsch, raspberry, leather, dusty stones and lavender oil. The final sip turned to wild boar, blood and jerky with a total final death throw, sad, but still worth the time and experience. Again thanks to Bay Grape for allowing me to revisit an old friend, if you have this or any eighties Beaucastel, best to get on with popping them corks.

VTMiura2000 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
Wow, the nose on this magnum bottle of Telegraphe was stunning with delicate strawberry, floral notes and thyme, it was at it’s best in the bouquet, and while the follow on the palate wasn’t up to those expectations, given the nose, it was still a reliable and purposeful wine if not all that great, I suspect there are better bottles out there, but you never really know with these middle aged Vieux Telegraphes. I certainly think the 1999 is one of the best ever, but I have often been left a bit flat by the 2000 and lately by the 1998, both highly regarded vintages, leaving me to believe it’s best to buy VT in the off vintages! While not great, the 2000 from magnum still showed near perfect color, no off notes and drank well, without much change at all throughout the night, solid, but not all that memorable with lots of chalky, chunky tannins, red peppers and medium depth of fruit with raspberry, minty notes, cherry pie and poached plum. I feel it best that 2000 better be consumed sooner vs later, and again I am sure some bottles will show much better of this Rhone classic.

2007 Miura, Pinot Noir, Garys’ Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands. (bottle-label above with VT)
I have always been a fan of Miura and of course of this great vineyard, but the 2007 Miura was a huge surprise, this wine is really showing great with less over the top fruitiness than it had while young, but still very dark in profile with violets, black plum and dark cherry leading the way, also the oak has subdued and melded in perfectly making for a wonderful Pinot Noir and while not shy, this vintage has plenty of balance and life. Starting with a rich hue, ruby/garnet in the glass the 2007 Miura Garys’ boasts dense black and red fruits, spice/briar notes and creamy texture with plum, rose petals, blackberry/boysenberry, mocha and subtle earthy charm. The acidity which felt low in the first year of release has come back and adds a vigor and lift which has gifted this wine with class and elegance, while still being a rather big and powerful example of modern Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. I’ve tried many a young and old bottle of Miura Pinot over the years and have always maintained they age exceptionally well, and this wine especially looks set to live another 10 years easy and be very pleasing along the way, great showing, this wine really is lovely.

1976Fargues1976 Chateau de Fargues Lur Saluces, Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux White, France.
This sister wine to the fabled Chateau D’Yquem, by the Lur Sulaces family and from their own estate is spectacular, maybe one of my favorite vintage wines of the year so far, this 1976 Chateau de Fargues is totally sublime. A huge thank you to my friend and Sauternes expert Fred Daniels (my palate thanks you again for another great sticky) for sharing this amazing sweet wine with me, this was truly a monumental wine. In recent years I’ve been able to try a lot more old, and young Sauternes, and as I get more experience with them, the more I crave them, these are unbelievable values in the wine world, except maybe D’ Yquem, but you can find these great wines at reasonable prices, houses like Coutet, Fargues and lesser known Sauternes can be had pretty easily at prices way under the price you’d pay for a very average Cabernet or a vintage Port. The 1976 Chateau de Fargues is sweet, haunting and mouth filling, but impeccably balanced and refined, slightly amber hues now show, mature orange edges and honey gold in color leads to a joyous palate of nectarine, honeyed yellow peach, ripe melon, lemon curd, creme brulee/vanilla and candied orange rind, pineapple, bees wax and brioche. This mature Sauternes has some earthy ones, with supple thickness and a long linger of honeycomb on the finish, this is very sexy stuff, mostly Semillon, drink now and for another 15 to 20 years. On a personal (purely my own opinion) note, I really like where this wine is right now and I’m sure many people would argue to let it sit in the cellar, I honestly think now is a good time to explore this glorious Sauternes.

Wine of the Day September 15, 2014

2012BFV2012 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, The Beaux Freres Vineyard, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Still young and showing sweet/smoky wood upfront the new Beaux Freres is still a classic and will be a total rockstar wine, given the vintage and the history here there is no doubt in my mind this beautiful blockbuster Pinot will end up one of the best ever from this Ribbon Ridge estate. The 2012 Beaux Freres shows richness, texture, balance and lavish hedonistic pleasures with blackberry, plum, mocha, dark cherry and tangy currants in the mouth with stylish polish, silky tannins and enough lift from juicy acidity to remain focused and lively. There’s hints of cinnamon, vanilla, cedar and finny minerals as well as some dried roses, violets and touch of tea and red spice. The fruit and new wood are very forward at this stage and it might close down a little in the short term, but this is a magnificent wine of density and grace that will just get better and better in bottle if you have the time and patience, this Pinot should be your cellar, don’t miss it, especially if you are an Oregon fan, or a Pinot enthusiast, this is the real deal. Mike Etzel and team deserve all their successes and rewards for their hard work, and this is just one of many glories from this great American winery, stunning, drink from 2018 to 2024.
($80 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 14, 2014

2012LaStoppa2012 La Stoppa, Trebbiolo Rosso, Emilia IGT, Barbera/Bonarda, Italy.
Elena Pantaleoni is one of the revolutionary women winemakers of her generation, she is also one of the world’s most respected natural vignerons, she has taught and inspired many a rising star, including most famously Sicily’s starlet Arianna Ochipinti was mentored here. Elena’s own wines are earthy and speaks from the heart of this region of Italy, these intriguing wines capture the soul of Emilia-Romagna, she has expert help in the cellar with Giulio Armani at the helm of this old winery. This small estate in the northwest side of Emilia-Romagna is known for their Barbera, but also have a local Bonarda (Not related to Bonarda found in Argentina, and as many as two other varietals called Bonarda in Italy itself.) and La Stoppa has some white grapes too with Malvasia being the pride of the place, again it is a unique clone call Malavasia Candia. Of the latest wines from La Stoppa, I was completely blown away with the blended rosso Tebbiolo, which is a cuvee of Barbera and Bonarda, this natural beauty has wonderful deep color, flavors and complexity. This wine is made from organic vines grown on clay and mixed soils, fermented in a combination of steel, cement and wood vats, exceptionally long skin contact is employed here as well, using only native yeasts and no chemical additions, no sulphur, except a low amount at bottling, aging takes place in large used casks. These techniques have been the standard Natural Wine guidelines and La Stoppa has been a model case for these wines for many years now. The La Stoppa Tebbiolo Rosso 2012 starts with plenty of earthy tones, porcini notes, iron/meat, bright red fruits and floral tones making for an alluring mix to excite the senses leading to a fruit driven palate with plum, wild berry, strawberry and black cherry leading the way on the medium palate along with hints of cranberry, chalky tannins, juicy acidity and a array of herbs and spices plus a mineral/stony streak. The wine feels energetic and lively in the mouth, it expanses and widens with air, but never gets heavy, it would be best with hearty cuisine and should drink nicely for another 2 to 3 years easy. Whiffs and teases of licorice, minty notes, cedar, briar and tangy currant linger on the surprisingly long finish, making for a wine that is hard to put down or forget in the glass, this release is far less earthy/funky than past wines in my experience, highlighting the vintage and balance, this is really fun and lovely wine from La Stoppa, imported by Dressner, hard to find, but well worth the search, especially for this Tebbiolo 2012!
($22 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive