2013 Lapierre, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The latest Lapierre is a beauty, the non sulphur cuvee “N” is the offering Kermit Lynch sells in the US in 750ml bottles and it is an outstanding Gamay showing more vitality and charm in this vintage than I can ever remember, this is a wine not to miss. I’ve been a fan of Lapierre since the 2006 and 2007 vintages, and along with Foillard are my favorite Morgon producers, these guys take Gamay to the next level, year in and year out, though I must say the 2013 Lapierre is something very special and is my favorite vintage, even getting my nod over the famously exotic and deep 2009, but by the thinnest of margins. The 2013 is more subtle and finessed than many vintages, but still has depth and gorgeous detail, plus the finish is the best yet in my book for this cuvee, it was truly spectacular in a recent tasting, and while there can be some bottle differences, I sampled three bottles and they all were absolutely stunning. The nose is perfumed with dried violets, acacia and fresh picked plum leading to a palate of cherry, blackberry, strawberry and tart currant fruits with sweet walnut oil, cedar and snappy minty herb, pepper and light earthy notes. There is a burst of red peach, flesh and stone along with a hint of saline that adds freshness and balance plus silken tannins and a bright lift of acidity, this is an easy wine to love and it flows gracefully with superb mouth feel and life. The finish is haunting with lingering cinnamon and lavender laced plumy red fruit, the Lapierre Morgon is totally rewarding and expressive, I imagine this one gaining with another few years in bottle and being best from 2016 to 2021, but then again I would be hard pressed to wait on this baby! This is really lovely stuff, pure, natural and terroir driven with the house’s style stamped on it, not always easy to find, but well worth the search, especially this 2013.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2014 Pra, Soave Classico DOC “Otto” Veneto, Italy.
Made from mostly Garganega the Pra Soave is a crisp and gentile white of fine character and class, with subtle fruit and good detail and length, this in fact is one of the top whites from the Veneto and is a wonderful summer and or sea food wine. The 2014 is aromatic and poised with fresh acidity and cool mineral tones, it certainly pairs with clams, mussels and creamy cheeses, the profile here is delicacy and balance with lemon/lime, white peach and summer melon along with a hint of dandelion, wet stones, clay dust and basil with a touch of sea shells. Everything feels brisk and alive with a light bodied mouth feel, but with underlying depth, this is a pretty wine that does everything you ask of it, it has a nice steely charm and it pleases easily, solid effort again for Pra, proving it’s reputation for quality and style in Soave, drink from 2015 to 2018.
($22 Est.)91 Points, grapelive
2012 Braida “il Baciale” Monferrato Rosso DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
Braida was one of the pioneers in elevating Barbera to Cru class and their commitment to this varietal hasn’t let up and this Barbera based blend “Il Baciale” is another gorgeous, generous and savvy wine with distinction and verve. This dark and medium/full bodied effort storms out of the gate with blackberry, cherry and plum along with minty herbs, anise, wild flowers and cedar offering richness and held together with acidity and ripe tannins. Giacomo Bologna’s il Baciale is a mix of 60% Barbera, 20% Pinot Nero, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot and is fermented in steel, separately and then raised in cask, with some parts in small barrique, this is a lot of wine for the money and it shows rich detail and texture, best with rustic and vibrant cuisines, especially meat dishes. The finish lingers with spice, cinnamon and dried currants, this is super tasty stuff, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 The Sadie Family, Columella “Liberatus in Castro Bonae Spei” Proprietary Red, Swartland, South Africa.
The Columella by Eben Sadie is one of the great wines of the world, I cannot stress that enough and is one of the finest Rhone blends I’ve ever tasted, without a doubt the most impressive South African wine to date, along with Storm Pinot Noir and Hamilton Russell Chardonnay are among the mind blowing offerings coming from the Southern Hemisphere. It’s no secret The Sadie Family wines are amazing wines and the Columella has been made since 2000, but I’ve not had a taste before and I was floored by the 2012 recently when I tried it, their importer Broadbent Selections was kind enough to sample some. To give you an idea how good I mean, the Columella reminds me of Beaucastel’s Reserve Homage Jacques Perrin or a great vintage of Rayas, it is monumental red Rhone blend, for those in the new world think; Cayuse, Saxum or Sine Qua Non, it is mostly Syrah with a good dose of Mourvedre and Grenache, plus possibly though not listed or confirmed a tiny bit of Cinsault is likely. This wine has redefined my opinion of top end South African wines, and certainly this wine is expensive, it proves it’s worth in detail, finesse and style, it is hand crafted with gifted talent and loving care. Fermented with some whole cluster, aged in barrel for about 12 months with between 5% and 10% new wood, that is something 2 new barriques out of the 18 to 20 barrels made per vintage, then the wine rests in large neutral founders until bottling, with usual alcohol in the 13.5 to 14% range. The 2012 Columella is gorgeously proportioned and deep with a nose of intoxicating floral and spice with a medium dark hue that learns towards garnet with ruby edges leading to a full, but impeccably balanced palate with utterly spectacular textural mouth feel and depth with blueberry, boysenberry, earthy mulberry and damson plum fruits, violets, dried roses, cracked pepper, bacon/meaty notes, lavender, melted black licorice, cedar, tobacco leaf and light creme de cassis as well as glazed strawberry and dusty mineral/stone tones. This is wildly seductive wine, bursting with energy, focus and pure class and the lingering finish will haunt your dreams for days, just ravishing stuff, drink over the decade to come, this is a buy it if you see it effort from Sadie, best from 2016 to 2025.
($79-90 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive
2012 Quarticello “Neromaestri” Lambrusco Emilia I.G.T. Frizzante, Emilia Romagna, Italy.
Roberto Maestri’s Quarticello Meromaestri Lambrusco Emilia is a dry and tannic Lambrusco that is made from Lambrusco Maestri 50%, Lambrusco Grasparossa 30%, Malbo Gentile 10%, Ancellotta 10% and it perfect for serious Secco Lambrusco lovers, it has a severe and austere style, meaty/sanguine with a beautiful blue/black hue. This bold Lambrusco is not fruity or sweet at all, in fact it is a bit shocking at first with crisp mineral toned coolness, with intense dark fruits a light mousse and plenty of grip. This has some rustic charm with hints of leather, horse and earth adding some bite and savory vigor, though there is detailed and pretty layers as well with roasted herbs, floral notes, bitter coco, anise and lots of blackberry and cherry fruit, this is a food wine first and for most and it will be seriously good with grilled meats, cold cuts, cheeses and I loved it with a mound of pasta. With air and cuisine this sparkling red turns on the class and shows why Roberto Maestri is the talent he is, this gains delicacy and everything becomes heightened and focused, while dusty dry in style it really is a fantastic wine. Look for black fig, plum and cedar to linger here and I highly recommend taking a look at the Quarticello line from Roberto Maestri, especially this darkly fantasyic Neromaestri, drink this anytime, and over the next year or so, another stunning effort.
($19 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2013 Mas de Daumas Gassac, Haut Vallee du Gassac Blanc, L’ Herault Languedoc White, France.
This has become an iconic wine of the the south of France with an exotic blend of varietals that make it totally unique in character. The lovely and stylish Gassac Blanc is a blend of Chardonnay 25%, Viognier 25%, Petite Manseng 25% and Chenin Blanc 25% which add up to a white that has mix of flavors that take you from Condrieu to Chassagne and to Montlouis in the Loire with a bit of Jurancon thrown in! This layered wine, about 13% alcohol, starts with white flowers, hazelnut, clarified cream, brioche and wild peach with tangerine and lemon bursting through on the mid palate. The core opens to apple, pear, tropical essence, dried honey and apricot with liquid mineral, chalk and toasty notes that flow seamlessly and fill the mouth with refined textural feel and class, without question this is gorgeous wine. While expensive and a touch annoyingly arrogant, I can’t help but love the Mas de Daumas Gassac “Grand Cru of the Languedoc” wines, both this one and their Cabernet based red, though this 2013 Blanc might be the best offering to date and should drink well for a decade, best from 2015 to 2022, it is pretty damn good!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2014 Mas Grand Plagniol, Costieres de Nimes, Rhone Red, France.
The 2014 Plagniol Rouge, a fine light to medium bodied effort is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache from the old vines around Nimes in the Gard, and while this is typically thought of as in the greater Languedoc, the wines are officially Rhone Appellation d’Orgine Controlee (AOC) and have been since 1986. This is lovely, easy and delightful stuff, the Mas Grand Plagniol Rouge Costieres de Nimes is vibrant, spicy and has just a just of game and earth, but with nice bright dark fruits, it drinks well with almost any food choices and is a go to party or bistro style red. I adore the juicy nature and quaff factor, there’s no pretense and while not overly serious or complex, it does everything well with hints of violets, white pepper, warm stones and garrique to go along with blackberry, boysenberry, plum and strawberry fruits. Ripe tannins and a nice cut of acidity keep this from feeling weighty, and it certainly doesn’t pack an alcoholic punch, this is just a fun Rhone blend to have a few smiles and laughs with, it should take to much thought or ask anything of you. I’ve been a fan and customer of this wine since around 2000, it has always been a great value, and the white blend it also a savvy choice as well, both are no quilt wines that deliver quality and stylish lighthearted drinking, best from 2015 to 2017.
($12 Est.) 88-90 Points, grapelive
2014 Weingut Ingrid Groiss, Gruner Veltliner, Weinviertel DAC, Austria.
Here’s another exceptional release from Groiss, and while 2013 remains the absolute star vintage in a generation the 2014 wines are really lovely and will not disappoint, especially this one. The 2014 Ingrid Groiss Guner Veltliner Weinviertel starts off earthy/cheesy, tightly wound and charmingly rustic with dusty stones, bread dough, forest floor notes and salted citrus before unfolding it’s brisk acidity and delicacy of fruit and mineral tones, it takes a while before the rush of flavors blossom, in fact I was stunned to find on day two a much more intense wine with an almost backward evolution, it shines after some air and time revealing more depth, power and extract plus it just get’s about to 2013 levels of thrill and enjoyment, even if it is slow to get there, this is very impressive stuff again from Ingrid Groiss. There is vivid lemon/lime, green melon, bitter almond, white pepper, baked clay, yeast, steely liquid mineral and zesty brine and white peach, it is more subtle at first, but this light Gruner has all the right stuffing and should prove interesting and pleasing for 3 to 5 years, it might be best to give it another 3 to 6 months if you can keep your hands off it, best from 2016 to 2020, the finish day one is crisp with wild mushroom and grapefruit, and day two there is a bit more apricot and stones. I highly recommend discovering these wines by Ingrid Groiss, the 2013’s if you can find them are mind-blowing and these new 2014’s are not far off either, her stuff is not easy to get, but well worth the search, she is my new favorite producer from Austria and a wonderful talent.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
nv Stephane Serol, Turbullent, Natural Sparkling Gamay Rose, Cote Roannaise, Loire Valley, France.
This pretty and fun Turbullent “Pet Nat” style méthode ancestrale sparkling Rosé of Gamay by Domaine Serol in the Cote Roannaise is a great summer wine with class, live and plenty of allure. This all natural and organic wine is made from 100% Gamay, hand picked and sorted, fermented in cement vats, temp controlled to keep cold until 7% then finishes fermenting in bottle to 8.5% then disgorged to remove extra material making for an elegant and refreshing bubbly Rosé with vitality and depth of flavor, it has a fruity essence, but feels wonderfully crisp and dry with a soft and vibrant mousse. The Serol Turbullent is pale pink in color with a palate of sour cherry, plum flesh, strawberry, peach and citrus fruits along with hints of yeast/brioche, mineral, rose water and an earthy/grapey note, it finishes with lift and zesty character. Finished in Champagne cork and cage, this is a stylish package without pretense, Domaine Serol is a serious winery with a stunning lineup of wines, including this Turbullent, but also a fantastic selection of old vine Gamay Noir, plus still Rosé and even a Viognier! This part of the Loire is sometimes considered the lost Cru of Beaujolais and it has very little in common with the other more well travelled areas of this region, it is more like the very upper Rhone in fact! Be sure to search out the Domaine Serol wines, they are glorious and rare offerings, and enjoy this lovely méthode ancestrale Rosé over the coming year or so, it is delicately forward and great with food, breakfast, lunch and diner as well as being a superb summer wine pre meals.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2011 Podere Le Cinciole, Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
Le Cinciole from Panzano in Chianti, near historic Greve, makes a smooth and elegant style Classico with stylish flourish, especially good is their 2011 vintage, a warm year that blessed the region with ripe tannins and lush textures. Organic and rustic by nature Le Cinciole breathes tradition and charm, and this Chianti Classico 2011 is full of character, terroir and detail with a graceful density, this is a pleasing and wonderful Sangiovese that balances sweet fruit and savory earthiness to perfection. The start is dried roses, minty herbs, porcini and wild berries leading to a medium weight palate of raspberry, cherry, strawberry and dusty plum fruits along with fine cut tobacco, cedar and anise. This light ruby hued red is full of flavor and has subtle complexity that extends and expands, but allows simple enjoyment and it certainly makes for a terrific companion to food, it has 14%, but still very vibrant, focused and plays well with Italian or California cuisine. I must say, after a full Tuscan tasting including some serious Brunello and higher priced wines, this looked even better, this is not a flashy or sexy wine, but not a wallflower either, especially at this price it delivers everything you’d expect and a bit more, this is a fine estate effort that is a super value, drink over the next 3 to 5 years, best from 2016 to 2019.
($22 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive