Wine of the Day December 21, 2014

2013HiedlerLoess2013 Hiedler, Grüner Veltliner, Löss, Qualitätswein Trocken, Kamptal Austria.
The Hiedler, a Terry Theise selection, Gruner Loess is a shinning example of vintage and terroir with bright mineral intensity, laser like precise detail and tangy crisp acidity that is a core of zesty energy and power. This is a dry and robust white that highlights the charms of Kamptal with serious focus and dense extract, this vintage really sticks out and offers a glimpse of Gruner at it’s best and finest character, and after almost 15 years of exploring Austrian wines, this vintage is among my very favorites if not my very favorite. The Hiedler Loess Gruner starts with grapefruit, minty herbs, almond oil, crunchy stones/gravel and white flowers leading to a sizzling palate of lemon/lime, bitter green melon, peach flesh and quince. There is a white tea, and oyster shell note that lingers with a hint of tropical essence that flitters in the background and it finishes briskly, dusty dry and salty, look for more fleshy qualities to come as it fills out over the next year or so, drink from 2015 to 2018, this is lovely and pleasing Gruner Veltliner and another solid effort from Hiedler.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at ($21.95)

Wine of the Day December 20, 2014

2013BowRhinestones2013 Bow & Arrow, Rhinestones, Pinot Noir/Gamay, Oregon.
Bow & Arrow are one of the more interesting additions to the Orgeon wine scene in recent years, they are inspired by the natural and organic wines of the Loire Valley of France, from Muscadet, sea influenced dry whites, as in their Melon, to the mineral infused and fruity wines of Cheverny where Pinot Noir and Gamay meet in a wonderful marriage of fruit and acidity. Going their own way has paid off here and the Bow & Arrow wines are all lovely, pure, fun and super reasonably priced. I especially love the latest Rhinestones, a mostly Willamette red blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, and yes Gamay has gone native in Oregon and it thrives here, much as it does in Beaujolais, Burgundy and parts of the Loire, in fact the biodynamic Gamay of Brickhouse (famed Willamette Pinot producer) are highly prized and sell out almost instantly on release. Bow & Arrow also do a straight Gamay which is also worth getting, it is more than just good it is wildly delicious, but the Rhinestones really hits all the right cords and appealed to me with structure, balance and flowing harmony, it has layers of cherry, plum, strawberry and cranberry fruit, stony/mineral notes, bright acidity and refined tannins. Background details include fig, walnut/cedar, salted licorice, minty herbs, flinty/saline and tangy black currants. There is classy fruity and savory interchanges throughout and the low alcohol and medium weight add to the pleasure, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day December 19, 2014

2011DeMontilleBeauneAigrots2011 Domaine de Montille, Beaune “Les Aigrots” Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
This majestic white burgundy from Domaine de Montille is almost as striking as their Grand Cru Corton and while not inexpensive, offers a tremendous value and class for the price. Etienne and Alix de Montille make the wines here in their late father’s cellars, with the recent passing of Hubert de Montille, who had retired a few years back, lead the next generation at this famous Cote de Beaune estate. Alix, being married to the famed jean-Marc Roulot of Meursault fame makes the signature white for the de Montille domaine and she is certainly very gifted in her own right, anyone who has tasted her last three or four vintages here can attest to her sublime talents with Chardonnay. 2011 has not been hyped, but it is a wonderful vintage for the Cote de Beaune whites and a vintage you can enjoy young, and or hold for many years, these wines have depth, generous fruit and classic character and quality, especially this 2011 Premier Cru Beaune Les Aigrots, one of my favorites of the vintage. The golden hued Beaune Aigrots starts with a nose that has hints of white flowers, smoke, straw, honeycomb and clove leading to a rich and dense palate showing lots of apple, pear and layers of lemon, melon, peach and a touch of tropical essence along with steely minerals, wet stones, a hint of toasty wood, hazelnuts and earthy notes. There is plenty of tension, vigor and life in this well balanced Burgundy and the acidity is a driving and lifting force behind the scenes, letting the texture to fill out in the mouth and delivers outstanding pure detailing in the wine. From start to finish this wine oozes elegance and grace, drink from 2015 to 2022, this is exquisite Chardonnay!
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


avail at

Wine of the Day December 18, 2014

2013Minges2013 Weingut Theo Minges, Riesling, Gleisweiler, Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
The Weingut Minges of Theo Minges and his daughter Regina is really coming into it’s own, and starting to challenge the top flight wineries of the Pfalz region in the southern zone of Germany’s wine area, they are in the process of certification of (to) total biodynamic and already are completely organic and this clearly shows in the charm and energy the wines show. The unique soils here include red sandstone, loamy/clay, loess and chalky limestone, all very different from the flinty/shale weathered slate of the Mosel, Nahe, Rhein and Ahr areas, and this really adds to the almost unlimited palate of flavors the Pfalz has to offer, and the Minges wines are wonderfully distinct and complex. Theo thinks of himself as a winegrower and does very minimal cellar tinkering, he wants true terroir expressions, he ferments using native/natural fermentations and leaves the wine on it’s gross lees for an extended period of time, and uses almost no added sulphur, just a bit before bottling. The very dry 2013 Gleisweiler Holle Riesling is marvelously crisp and thrilling with an electric shock of zesty acidity and gripping extract, this is poised and crisp Riesling that feels as steely as a fine Chablis and tangy like a Sancerre with pure Riesling soul and flavors with tangerine, grapefruit, white peach and lots of lime and a touch of green apple along with mineral, earth, minty herbs, chalky stones, vibrant sea salt briny notes, oyster shell, rose petals, river stones, verbena and mango. This a terrific effort from the Minges’ and I think the results speak clear for themselves here, you should check out the wines here, especially this vivid example, the Gleisweiler Trocken 2013, it drinking beautifully well even now, but best from 2015 to 2022.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at

Wine of the Day December 17, 2014

2012BilaHaut2012 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut (M. Chapoutier) Cotes-du-Roussillon Villages Rouge, Roussillon, France.
This wonderful blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan comes from intense schist and gneiss soils of the high Agly Valley and crafted by the famed Michel Chapoutier and team at Domaine de Bila-Haut in the wild Roussillon, just south west of the Rhone region. Chapoutier has fell in love with the region’s dramatic micro climates and unique terroirs and he has crafted some fantastic offerings, of superb quality and exceptional values and the latest set of Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, a 2013 white and this 2012 red, which are his entry level wines, are both stunningly good and I highly recommend them, they are like baby Chateauneufs, as cliche as that might sound, it does fit the bill, these are lovely wines, easy to love and compelling. The 2012 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge Cotes-du-Roussillon (14% alcohol) a classic Rhone style cuvee offers up wild scents of garrigue, bacon, cassis and pepper while the deep garnet hue lures you in, the palate is juicy with boysenberry, chalk dust, white pepper, minty anise, violet/floral tones, plum, cherry and mission figs. This red is made from all de-stemed grapes, raised in tank and vats only, no wood was used here, nor was it needed, with it’s fine tannins and lifting acidity it shows a nice cut and focus. This is pure and brightly flavored wine with solid density, vigor and volume that delivers maximum pleasure at a great price, drink from 2014 to 2018
($15 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at

Wine of the Day December 16, 2014

2006RaffaultChinon2006 Domaine Olga Raffault, Chinon, Les Picasses, Loire Valley red wine, France.
The estate of the late Olga Raffault, a Loire legend, is now run by her granddaughter Sylvie, and her husband Eric de la Vigerie, they still produce wines in the traditional ways and age them in their cellars for an extended time. Recently released is their 2006 Chinon Les Picasses, an unfiltered, old school Cabernet Franc, and it is lovely and fresh with earthy character and classic gamey notes along with pretty dark fruits. This wine is a steal and a real natural beauty, it starts with violets, chalky stones, plum sauce, a hint of horse and cedar, but opens to reveal black cherry, fig, dark currants and dusty mulberry fruits plus saline, mineral/iron tones, bell pepper, nutmeg, truffle, savory meat and anise, with the faintest of green bean notes and a slight bretty presence, but never unripe or unpleasant on the fine tannin laced palate, this is a wonderfully interesting and pure terroir driven wine. It is interesting to note too the domaine has also began offering library selections of the Olga Raffault wines, some dating back into the 1970’s and 1980’s, plus late nineties wines, I did get a chance to taste the 1999 and it was deliciously fine and superbly balanced, much the same as this 2006 is today. You should see another selection of these Chinon’s shortly from the 2001 vintage, according to importer Louis Dressner, and they should be something to search out and look forward too, but don’t miss the chance to get a few of these 2006 Les Picasses, they are drinking great and can age another 10 years easy, making for a bargain and savvy cellar option, drink from 2014 to 2025. There is a lot to admire from the latest Raffault offering, I was highly impressed with the complexity and expressive nature the wine showed, graceful, soulful and it kept me guessing all evening, a rustic and charming country wine with class, very nice stuff indeed.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day December 15, 2014

2012BernardBonin2012 Domaine Bernard-Bonin, Meursault, Les Tillets, White Burgundy, France.
This an exceptional Chardonnay, full of intensity, vitality and is gorgeously proportioned with vigorous acidity and density. The 2012 Bernard-Bonin Les Tillets is stunning and wildly beautiful in detail, finesse and is classic Meursault showing steely mineral, chalky stones and purity of fruit with layers of lemon, apple, peach, lime blossom and a touch of tropical essence along with salted cream, clove, hazelnut and hints of toast. This young Meursault is a driving force of nature with bracing citrus zest, sea notes, white fig and loads of extract making for an elegantly powerful white Burgundy that impresses and looks set to have a long and glorious life ahead of it. The Domaine Bernard-Bonin led by Veronique Bonin of the Michelot Burgundy clan and winemaker Nicolas Bernard, a new addition to Martines Imports and brand new to me is a small family estate, they grow and craft artisan wines, mostly bio-dynamic practices in the Cote de Beaune, and I understand it is just Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet owned plots, I tasted through the whole imported lineup from Bourgogne Blanc to Meursault Premier Cru, and all were lovely wines, this is a winery to start following, especially these nervy and graceful 2012 wines. The Les Tillets came of white marl, stony soils and that terroir is transparent in this beautiful Chardonnay which was aged sur lie in oak for about 18 months, and though the lees were not stirred (no batonage) there is loads of rich character and a hint of smoky wood, without question this is a sexy and top notch wine to savor over the next 5 to 10 years, drink from 2016 to 2024.
($68 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day December 14, 2014

2012PuffeneyTrousseau2012 Jacques Puffeney, Arbois Trousseau, Cuvee Les Berangeres, Jura Red, France.
The great Jacques Puffeney has decided to retire, he will continue with everything he has in the cellar, which include the 2014 harvest and the odds and ends he is toying with, but from 2015 on the vines will be leased out to Burgundy producer Marquis d’Angerville for its Domaine de Pélican label. Puffeney is a Jura legend and will be missed, this will leave a big hole in the region and it’s wines, his classic styled wines from his home in Montigny-les-Arsures are and were standards of the area and are highly prized, sadly he didn’t have anyone to take over his 17th-century cellars and his glorious vineyards. Jacques Puffeney’s whites were/are old school, sherry like and seriously groovy, they are long lived and certainly will be collectors items in a few years, but I adore his Trousseau, his Arbois Trousseau Noir is my all time Jura favorite wine, it always makes me happy to drink this wine, and the 2012 is a stunning example, one of the best vintages I’ve had to date of this geeky Jura red. Jacques “Santa Claus” Puffeney, have you seen a picture of him? Well, it looks like a friendly shopping mall Santa Claus or Father Christmas/Saint Nick and has a sly grin, celebrated 52 years as a winemaker with this years harvest and will call it quits, but he will consult and still make a bit of wine just for personal use, bravo Jacques, we salute you and all your success and thank you for all the joyous gifts you brought to the wine world. There couldn’t be a better Wine of the Day than this 2012 Jacques Puffeney Arbois Trousseau Les Berangeres, it is classic and glorious Jura red wine, balanced and stylish with savory earthiness and tangy red fruits, it starts with juicy almost Morgon like youthful plum, black cherry and strawberry fruits, mineral notes, wild herbs, peppery spice, mint tea and mushroom with a hint of leather and cedar. The latest Puffeney Trousseau weighs in at 13%, and has a pretty deep hue, it’s is a little more ruby in color than the last few years, it is wonderfully focused and vivid, this is charming stuff, the finish is lengthy, but there is bright acidity, silky tannin and it should fill out over the next year or so in bottle, it will reveal a bit more traditional funk over time, the easy fruity elements are appealing now too, I thoroughly enjoy it as is and hope to get my hands on a few more bottles, as this Rosenthal import selection is highly prized and sought after, it is worth the chase though, drink over the next 3 to 5 years (2015-2020), bravo Mr Puffeney, and congrats on your retirement, thank you for the experiences and great wines!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day December 13, 2014

2012DomainedelaCoteSRH2012 Domaine de la Cote, Pinot Noir, Estate, Sta. Rita Hills.
The Domaine de la Cote is Master Sommelier Raj Parr’s most high profile and exclusive project to date from the Sta. Rita Hills, and here again he has teamed up with the very talented artisan winemaker Sashi Moorman, the maker of fine limited production wines at Stolpman, Sandhi and his own label Piedrasassi. Sashi is very gifted with Syrah, and is now getting a chance to show his skills in Pinot Noir, and with Parr’s vision of style and goal of making long lived Burgundy style wine, things are showing promising results here, there is intensity and drive in the Domaine de la Cote wines that certainly impress and these look to be rewarding offerings, especially the top Cru wines Bloom’s Field and La Cote, though they look to be found only at restaurants or by mailing list sales, but there is the Estate available and it is a worthwhile and intriguing wine in it’s own right, it would be their Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru versus those Chambertin and Mazis-Chambertin, if you were to compare to Burgundy, the difference is minimal in location, but there is without question a good jump up in quality/vigor in to top offerings here. Raj Parr might be the most experienced US based Burgundy expert, and certainly he has drunk some of the finest red Burgundies ever produced, so he has palate and and hands on know how like very few people have, the lucky bastard-me being very jealous of that fact, and in recent years Parr has called on California producers to lower alcohol levels, especially in Pinot, he wants what he calls balance or delicacy in wine, and his almost always come in under 14%. The fine 2012 Estate Pinot Noir from Moorman and Parr’s Domaine de la Cote starts with powerful spice, earth and incense/crushed flowers on the nose with heady red and black fruits emerging in the glass with fine tannins and lifting acidity, the stem inclusion really shows here and will need time to resolve, but the sweet and savory play is amazing and very engaging, there is deft use of framing oak and the wine seems more alluring with each sip, this is entertaining and very serious stuff with black cherry, plum, logan berry and strawberry fruits, hints of lavender, celery root, minty herbs, licorice and tea spice, finishing with lingering saline, rose oil and kirsch. This really is something keep your eye on, I think these wines need a good 2 to 3 years to fill out, polish up and gain refinement in the bottle, but you should explore Domaine de la Cote sooner vs later, they live up to the hype and look to set new levels of expectation in Central Coast Pinot, drink from 2016 to 2020.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day December 12, 2014

2012GarnierVaudesir2012 Domaine Garnier & Fils, Chablis, Vaudesir, Grand Cru White Burgundy, France.
This dynamic, and new to me, estate is making a hell of a fine Chablis, and this glorious Grand Cru is nearly off the charts good, a not to miss wine for those with a sense of adventure and a thirst for something new on the scene. The brothers Jerome and Xavier run the domaine with Jerome working the vines, using organic practices and nature friendly methods, while Xavier is the cellar master and winemaker here, he uses traditional techniques, focusing on ripe fruit, native yeast fermentations and no new wood, preferring large old cask and not using stainless tanks for the Crus. This all adds up to exotic flavors, richness and transparent transmission of terroir, with brisk acidity, salty notes and steely mineral coming through from the chalky top soil and Kimmeridgian Limestone base, all this shines through especially so in the 2012 Vaudesir Grand Cru, a gorgeous pure Chardonnay that was aged a full 22 months in barrel and a magical wine of class and grace. The mineral and energy bring beautiful detail to life here and the dense fruit add pleasure and length, this Vaudesir has drive, deep layers and a sexy golden hue showing lime, white flowers, green melon, lemon curd, grapefruit, apple and white peach with hints of tropical essence, clove, saline, brine and chalky wet river stone. A touch of straw, wood spice and hazelnut, plus brioche add to the complexity of flavors and a crisp vibrancy runs throughout this fantastic Chablis, drink from 2015 to 2020, imported by Martines Wines.
($78 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive