Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 10, 2015

2014MinchinMorogues2014 Domaines Minchin “La Tour Saint-Martin” Menetou-Salon, Morogues, Loire Valley White, France.
This lazar sharp and mineral infused Sauvignon Blanc is an impressive and electric energy filled white that bristles with vigor, acidity and Riesling like intensity, in other words, it’s really good and fun wine. Menetou-Salon is like Sancerre in style, though slightly different soils and conditions usually don’t allow it to raise to it’s cousins heights, but this Domaines Minchin La Tour Saint-Martin Morogues shows lots of flair and substance, this a stylish and brightly flavored Sauvignon Blanc that goes great with varied cuisine and is mouth-wateringly refreshing and vibrant. The 2014 vintage of La Tour Saint-Martin Morogues starts with white flowers, fresh picked herbs, grapefruit, white peach and a hint of cut grass leading to an explosion of lemon/lime on the palate along with steely minerals, wet river stones, saline and a faint trace of classic cat pee. Overall there’s a lot to be impressed with here and the focus is spot on, this is everything you’d want and a touch more from this place and varietal, it was most tank raised with just a touch of neutral cask and not too much lees, though the Fumet cuvee, a higher end version sees an extra 6 months of aging in barrel and on it’s lees, it is also very good and age worthy, though for the price and vibrancy, I like the zippy and transparent 2014 Morogues just fine, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 9, 2015

2012PhelpsCreekCA2012 Phelps Creek Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Cuvee Alexandrine, Columbia Gorge, Oregon.
The 2012 Phelps Creek Cuvee Alexandrine Pinot Noir is one of the years best Oregon wines, hand crafted by Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Roy in Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, it comes from the cool Columbia Gorge, which is northeast of the Willamette on the Hood River. The Cuvee Alexandrine comes from vines planted at between 950 and 1,200 foot on steep slopes set on volcanic rocky soils, Roy uses native yeasts to highlight the unique terroir, all the grapes, 100% Pommard Clone, are de-stemmed, fermentation is done in open top stainless tanks with punch downs and pump overs to gain color and structure, allowing the wine to be full and expressive, and her 2012 is a masterpiece with a wonderful layered feel and it is strikingly beautiful. I was honored and pleased to meet Alexandrine Roy and taste through her Phelps Creek line up as well as a set of her Domaine Marc Roy 2014 samples from her tiny estate in Gevrey-Chambertin, needless to say it was an awesome experience and her Burgundies are glorious and divine, more on those later, but it was the Phelps Creek Pinot Cuvee Alexandrine that stood out, from a great Oregon vintage it is very sexy stuff and should be on any Pinot Noir lovers radar! The 2012 Phelps Creek Cuvee Alexandrine starts with it’s pretty shinning ruby color in the glass, heady perfume of summer rose and fading violets along with wild raspberry, flinty spices and touch of warm earth leading to a silken palate of red plum, black cherry, mulberry and forest fruits plus dried fig, tea spice, cedar and cinnamon. This charming and seriously good Pinot picks up life and vigor with air and while lush and mouth filling it has plenty of verve, vibrancy and drive, this is highly entertaining and impressive stuff, bravo to Phelps Creek Vineyards and Alexandrine Roy for making such a stunner, drink from 2016 to 2020.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 8, 2015

2012HortusGrand2012 Domaine de L’ Hortus “Grande Cuvee” Pic Saint Loup, Languedoc-Roussillon, France.
It was a pleasure to taste the L’ Hortus wines with Yves Orliac, who was visiting recently, and while all the wines were really deserving of attention, I fell for the Grande Cuvee the hardest. This area of the Languedoc, not far from Montpellier, is a a bit higher up and cooler in climate than you might expect, it is great Syrah country and the rocky soils really add to the complexity, and this 2012, based on Syrah, is lovely and vibrant wine with deep layers and a dose of spice and garrigue, it reminds me of Chateau du Saint-Cosme’s Syrah based wines, and that is a good thing, it shows verve, style and length. The 2012 Orliac Domaine de L’ Hortus Grande Cuvee Pic Saint Loup starts with crushed violets, flinty earth, pepper and black raspberry coulis leading to a rich and vigorous palate of blackberry, boysenberry, plum and currant fruits along with black olives, peppercorns, lavender and a hint of kirsch, this dark hued red finishes with lingering minty herb, saline, fig paste, strawberry and black licorice. This is very impressive stuff, focused, serious and vital with plenty of pleasure and interest to keep your attention, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 7, 2015

2013CalozHeida2013 Cave Caloz, Heida-Paien “Les Bernunes” Valais White, Switzerland.
This remarkable white wine from Valais Switzerland is made from Heida-Paien, also known as Savignin, one of the white grapes found in the Jura region of France, but this Swiss white tastes totally unique and reflects it’s own special terroir. Cave Caloz is a great winery, and Conrad Caloz, who I call the king of the mountains, makes some monumental wines, especially his Humagne Rouge Coteaux de Sierre red, and now I have discovered his Heida, which I feel has a impact not unlike a Hermitage Blanc on the palate, I though it might have been Roussanne at first! I was completely spellbound by this Caloz Heida-Paien, it starts with white flowers, verbena, citrus and stone fruit with a light gold/greenish hue in the glass and delivers impressive form on the palate with lemon/lime, dried mango, tangy apricot, tangerine and apple skin along with a sense of steely mineral, as well as a certain richness and mouth filling creaminess than is more an impression than reality as this wine pumps out the vigor and vibrancy with a nice groove of acidity. The finish is crisp and there’s lots of vitality, but there is a haunting aftertaste of succulent peach, wild herbs, saline and wet stones, this is lovely stuff and a great wine, I just wish the exchange rate with the sky rocketing Swiss Franc was better, but that said it is still worth every extra penny, drink from 2015 to 2021.
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 6, 2015

2011BondonioBarb2011 Olek Bondonio, Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmonte, Italy.
The 2011 Bondonio Barbaresco normale is a beautiful and full bodied Nebbiolo with lavishly layered complexity and real gravitas in substance, style and performance, sourced from Cru sites including Roncagliette and Starderi, close to Giorgio Rivetti’s La Spinetta plots. Olek makes some fantastic wines and his regular Langhe Nebbiolo is a steal, and his seriously endowed single Cru Roncagliette should be on any Barbaresco lovers list of must haves, but in particular this DOCG Barbaresco 2011 really shines and offers the best value for what you get in the glass, especially if you want to drink it young, the 2011 vintage was surprising generous, ripe and open. The Olek Bondonio Barbaresco starts with liquid roses, a deep garnet hue with brick/orange edges and a cascade of fruit, earth, spice and mineral elements, the palate is packed and there is s steady supply of firm, but not aggressive tannins, along with refined acidity. The mouth feel is big with black raspberry, damson plum, morello cherry, dried red currant and a touch of strawberry fruits, plus tar, melted licorice, truffle, chalk dust, saline, minty herbs, all spice, cedar and a hint of game. This forward Nebbiolo really shows it’s pedigree with constant terroir reminders and vigorous persistence, this is lovely and rich Barbaresco that even in it’s youth is poised and charming throughout, best though with food, drink this Bondonio from 2016 to 2026, very impressive again from this star producer.
($57 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 5, 2015

2013AlfaroTroutPN2013 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Trout Gulch Vineyard, close to Aptos, is a sweeping and beautiful hillside vineyard that is really making some fantastic grapes after being taken over by Richard Alfaro, who now has a long term lease on the site, it is now very much like a second Alfaro estate vineyard planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Both the Chard and Pinot coming off Trout Gulch show wonderful cool climate energy, vibrancy, ripe flavors and lower alcohol, the soils have sand, clay, loam and a chalky top layer that remind of the Cote de Beaune, with the Chardonnay feeling like Chassagne and the Pinot much in the same profile as a Volnay with red brambly fruits. Richard sells a bit of Chardonnay from this site as well, and it is highly regarded, with Arnot-Roberts and another top end winery that can’t be named getting fruit from here. The 2013 Alfaro Trout Gulch Pinot Noir is lovely, lush feeling and vigorous on the palate with a deep ruby hue in the glass and this is an absolutely gorgeous wine with character, style and graceful layers, it pleases in every way. The Trout Gulch Pinot was aged 10 months in barrel, 20% new, all French and only 500 cases were made, it is drinking fantastic, as are all of Alfaro’s 2013, which include this one, a Lester Family Vineyard, a Garys’ Vineyard and three home estate Pinots, the Estate, the Mary Katherine and the Lindsay Paige, one of the best ever vintages for this Santa Cruz Mountains estate near Corralitos, and the balance is near perfect, 13.5% alcohol, fine structural tannins and acidity give a framework that should allow this beauty to age for another decade as well. The mouth feel is excellent with silky roundness and charming life, the main core of this Pinot shows red raspberry, black cherry, plum and tangy currant fruits along with dusty stones, saline, red rose petals, a touch of earth, spice, cedar will sweet toasty oak, vanilla and cinnamon adding a nice subtle shading. There is a lingering fruit essence on the very lengthy aftertaste and overall is is hard to find any faults here, especially when you consider the price, a top caliber single vineyard, low production Pinot that sells for under $40, this is pretty awesome stuff, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 4, 2015

2014Closset2014 Champ Divin-Fabrice et Valerie Closset, Pinot Noir, Cotes du Jura, France.
The Jura is one of France’s major hot spots and while we all like those funky geeky wines made from Trousseau, Savignin and Poulsard, there is also some great sites for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with many well known Burgundy houses sneaking into the region and buying up some good old vine plots, but there are small vignerons showing off their talents as well, and especially charming is this Champ Divin Pinot from the Clossets. A husband and wife team, Fabrice and Valerie Closset, who farm all biodynamic, are making a stylish range of Jura wines, I am very impressed and look forward to following their progress, I am smitten on their Champ Divin Pinot Noir, this is a vibrant and pure wine with distinct flavors and energy showing a range of red fruits, mineral and spices, ripe tannins, fresh acidity and a delicately lingering finish. Subtle earthy tones add to the juicy nature of the Closset Champ Divin Pinot, with black cherry, blueberry, violets and currant jam taking center stage along with red tea, plum, truffle and apple skin on the fringes. The finish has dusty plum, more cherry, a hint of cedar, wet stones and rosewater, everything feels complete and silky with youthful fruit character, there is a lot to admire here and it is a lot of fun to drink with a light to medium body and plenty to keep your attention, this can easily replace many Bourgogne Rouge wines at almost twice the price, drink over the next few years, best from 2016 to 2019.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 3, 2015

2014SunierFleurie2014 Julien Sunier, Fleurie, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The Sunier Fleurie is the most exotic and developed of this artisan winemaker’s current lineup of 2014 Cru Beaujolais and is a real beauty, for Gamay fans this a must try wine. I have been very impressed with the last few vintages of Julien’s wines, they seem influenced by Lapierre or Foillard in many ways, this is a big compliment and a statement for the level of quality and style achieved in a short time, these are delicious wines, made in the natural way with native yeasts and almost no sulphur. The 2014 Fleurie explodes from the glass with dark berries, violets, rose oil, pepper spice and a hint of walnut leading to a vibrant and vivid palate of blackberry, black cherry, plum and wild strawberry fruits, sweet and sour herbs, cedar and dusty and sticky lavender. This light to medium bodied Gamay flows with silky tannins and pure acidity, it displays focused transparent flavors, textural layers with a lush mouth feel and the lingering tangy currant and anise makes for a lovely and fetching wine. While the Morgon impresses for it’s more tightly wound and robust fruit, this Fleurie just drinks wonderfully and is much more expressive at this stage. Julien Sunier should be on your radar if you like top Cru Beaujolais and these 2014’s are looking like his best yet, in particular search out his Fleurie for it’s grapey charm and it’s ready to please nature, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 2, 2015

2014DonnhoffHollenpfad2014 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Roxheimer Hollenpfad, Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
This beautifully detailed and rather delicate dry Riesling is very aromatic, vivid and wonderfully balanced with a light body, polished acidity and enough extract to deliver length and substance for aging. The Donnhoff Roxheimer Hollenpfad is a bright and stylish young Riesling with plenty to admire right now, but looks to be a wine that will improve and fill out over the next 3 to 5 years in bottle, so some faith and patience will be needed to get the maximum from this 2014, though lovely as it is. I really enjoy the fresh and vibrant feel and weightlessness on the palate with subtle and graceful layers of lime, white peach, tropical essences, tangerine, salty spices, rose oil and white flowers all hauntingly appearing and fading in and out along with wet stones and crunchy mineral notes. This steely Trocken is pure and crispy lean, it has bits that remind me of Pouilly-Fume and Chablis, but without question is centered around it’s own terroir, this is all Nahe in the glass and should deliver long term rewards, I am highly impressed with the 2014 wines from Donnhoff, mostly for the precise expression of vintage and devoted craftsmanship in the winemaking, these are wines of inner power and outward shyness with finesse. Certainly Donnhoff’s Roxheimer Hollenpfad could be a Grosses Gewachs, but since it is not, you can find it at what has to be considered a remarkably fair price for what is in the bottle, this austere and thoughtful Riesling is one I hope to re-visit again and again, drink from 2018 to 2024.
($42 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 1, 2015

2015Pipeno2015 Louis Antoine Luyt, Pipeno, Pais, Coelemu, Chile.
The fresh and fun Pipeno Pais line from Louis Antoine Luyt are from some of the oldest vines still producing wine grapes in the world and are certainly the most affordable piece of history you can drink! The Pais grape is known as the Mission Grape or Listan Prieto, it was carried to the new world by the Spanish Missionaries in the later half of the 16th century, and Luyt’s Pipeno wines come from areas around those original Mission sites, which are set on 300 million year old soils similar to Morgon and Cote de Brouilly in Beaujolais with iron rich layers and granite schist. Luyt’s Pipeno Pais Coelemu is delightfully bright and earthy with dark berries, spice and an almost tart/herbal vermouth note, light in tannin and medium bodied making for a great food wine and easy like a Beaujolais, it is make in an ancient and traditional way, all natural, so it isn’t overly polished and you get an honest and interesting wine. This lively 2015 Pipeno Coelemu starts with sour cherry, raspberry, minty herb, plum and red pepper spice along with zesty red peach, dried orange rind and truffle notes, this red will settle some in bottle and get a bit fuller on the palate with short term aging, but it is seriously all about enjoyable quaffing and is great for picnic, BBQ and parties, especially for the adventurous! Drink ex-Lapierre winemaker, of Morgon in Beaujolais, Frenchman Louis Antoine Luyt’s vibrant Pipeno red over the next year or so, it is like drinking history, especially when you realize the vines are close to 300 years old!
($17 Est. 1L) 86-88 Points, grapelive

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