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Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 25, 2017

2016 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken, Maximin 1896 Herrenberg Alte Reben, Erste Lage, Mosel Germany.
The follow up to his amazing 2015’s looks set to almost equal them with these 2016’s, proving the quality of the vines here and the rising talent of Christopher Loewen, who’s new set of offerings are brilliant Rieslings, especially his gorgeous dry styles including this Maximin 1896 Herrenberg Alte Reben Trocken Premier Cru (Erste Lage) that has the class and elegance of a Raveneau, but with the slate driven terroir of the Mosel. This wine is a thrilling and vital Riesling with stunning detail, it’s a shimmering pale wine with crisp layers of intensity, showing white peach, unripe apricot, green apple, lime, tangy mango and white cherry fruits. There’s so mush energy here, it’s bursting at the seams, and there liquid mineral steely frame set up the fruit and salty/briny essences along with flinty wet stones, dusty tea spices, light rosewater and lingering verbena and tangerine. I’ll mention again that the 2015’s were richer, more concentrated and exotic, but these 2016’s have more restraint, a slightly lighter bodied and delicacy without giving up much in the way of power and over all substance, plus I am convince after tasting the 2016’s they will age well and continue to impress well into the future. Loewen is now a bonafide star and his wines should not be missed, others of his 2016’s you shouldn’t miss include the Ritsch Grosses Gewachs, the ultra sexy 1896 Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg Feinherb, coming from Germany’s oldest Riesling vines, plus his wonderfully classic Kabinett and Leiwener Laurentiuslay Spatlese! Imported by Terry Theise/Skurnik Wines, Weingut Carl Loewen has joined the Mosel’s elite, do not miss the 2015 and 2016 Rieslings from this address, and in particular this beautiful mouth wateringly dry old vines Maximin Herrenberg 1896 Erste Lage!
($48 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 24, 2017

2012 Ciacci Piccolomini, Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy.
A lovely vintage for Brunello, this 2012 Ciacci Piccolomini shows all the joys of the year, not overtly ripe and with fresh, long and elegant detail this is a beautifully made effort. Good even now, especially with decanting, this wine looks set to be a classic, as it gives rich fruit, spice and mineral with layers of black cherry, plum, raspberry, currant and mulberry along with fresh cut flowers, graphite/flint and cigar wrapper. Look for the medium/full 2012 Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello to gain weight and expression in 5 to 10 years in bottle, this will be a really rewarding wine in the near future as well and for the price it’s a bargain, but also don’t miss the ripe and juicy 2015 Ciacci Piccolomini Rosso di Montalcino, which is a full bodied, flamboyant “Baby” Brunello, which at $25 is a downright steal! Though the style and structure of the Brunello is hard to fault as a more serious wine, it’s livelier acidity and firmer tannins make it a more classic offering, it’s difficult to imagine it not being a stellar choice in a few years time, even though it might be a touch muted and subtle in it’s youth, I’d say it will rise in score a couple of points in 3 or 4 years. That said, I love this vintage for it’s refinement and the touches of almost Bordeaux like qualities. Lingering anise, dried violets, sweet oak notes and strawberry add to the overall depth of the experience. The latest Ciacci wines are brilliant, imported by Indigenous Selections and Skurnik Wines, are well worth searching out, they continue to impress and deliver Tuscan goodness.
($60 Est.) 92-94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 23, 2017

2016 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Spatlese, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Mosel Germany.
The latest set of wines from Johannes Selbach are as pure and classic as you can get, lovely and complex offerings that show each site’s unique sense of place a few of the most intriguing and serious of these 2016’s include the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Ur-Alte Reben (Ultra Old Vines) Feinherb, the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spatlese Trocken (Dry), the single block Zeltinger Schlossberg “Schmitt” (Auslese) and especially this wonderfully expressive Zeltinger Schlossberg. I adore this wine, year after year I’m always drawn to this bottling, and the 2016 shines for it’s total pleasure, inner beauty and lush density, it has an open and generous nature, but still gives complex detail and terroir elements with slate driven character. Above the Mosel these vines and soils this is an area that gets good sun and Riesling excels here, and while some might be concerned with the must weight being Spatlese (sugar level) and natural sweetness here, but they need to open their minds and take in the wine as a whole, while yes there is a creamy mouth feel and lingering sweetness, there is also a bright array of flinty/shale spice, juicy acidity, gorgeous fruit and a saline infusion that provides balance. The nose is vivid with yellow and white flowers, crushed stones, light tropical essences, stone fruit and citron leading to a lush palate of white peach, apricot, apple and lime sorbet along with hints of pineapple, verbena, chamomile, wet shale and brine with lingering orchard fruit. This is sexy stuff, less exotic and thick than the 2007, 2005, 2011 and 2015, but with plenty of charm, subtle depth, power and potential. In what might be a sleeper vintage, Selbach-Oster has crafted a great lineup of classically styled Rieslings!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 22, 2017

2007 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Spatlese, Dorsheim Burgberg, Nahe Germany.
Caroline Diel took the helm of Schlossgut Diel’s winemaking in 2006, in what was already a top winery in the Nahe and a pioneer in dry wines, but since then, she has taken Schlossgut Diel to the next level with the wines showing beautiful delicacy, terroir and length, these are wines that rival the best in the world, especially her Pinot Noir and of course her majestic Rieslings. Just re-released from the Diel keller and tasted at the Skurnik Wines West San Francisco Tasting, the 2007 Schlossgut Diel Spatlese Dorsheim Burgberg, one of Caroline’s first wines at the helm, is a gorgeous and generous Riesling that shows elegance, mineral and complexity with it’s maturity just beginning to come into focus. It was great to see Sylvain Taurisson, Caroline’s French husband and Schlossgut Diel’s charming advocate, in San Francisco, and tasting the latest and up-coming 2016 Rieslings, especially after seeing the vineyards there at harvest 2016 and watching grapes coming into the winery during my visit. While 2016 was in dire shape in the first part of that summer, everything came good in August and September in an almost miracle of nature and the wines are clear, dynamic and intriguing, certainly not as exotic or concentrated as 2015, but they are beautiful, this is going to be a classic vintage and they will get deeper and more interesting in the years to come, both trockens and sweet styles, they look to be rewarding and sleeper cellar wines. In Diel’s 2016 wines be sure to look for the Dorsheim Trocken, Goldloch Grosses Gewachs and for great value snap up Caroline’s lovely Kabinett offerings! But, going back in time, this 2007 Schlossgut Diel Burgberg is drinking fantastic, it perfectly captures the vintage and Caroline’s style, it was a full bodied year and exotically ripe, but while deep and round, it still vibrant and has balanced stony/savory elements to keep the open fruitiness in check, and while a true Spatlese, there is not a rush of sugar or cloying heaviness. This is an exceptional Riesling from a unique Grand Cru site that is notable for it’s quartzite influenced soils, it has a pure crystalline character with a saline and liquid mineralite lift with opulent apricot, vigorous lime, green apple, pineapple/passion fruit and tangerine fruits along with flinty spice, honeyed golden fig, white flowers, white plum, wet river rocks, salty brine and verbena/lemongrass. There is without a doubt a class and grace in Caroline’s wines, and while Diel is most famous for their drier wines, you should never miss a chance to try her Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese, they are amazing wines, and this 2007 is just stunning, this one will go another couple of decades!
($69 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 21, 2017

2016 Arnot-Roberts, Rose, California.
One of the most interesting pink wines in California, the Arnot-Roberts Rose is also one of the most sought after wines in the state year after year, it’s a crisply dry and delicate wine with a refined pale hue that reminds me a bit of Domaine Tempier’s Bandol Rose! The 2016 is more elegant, livelier and succulent in profile than the more concentrated 2015 version, making it one of the best efforts to date from Duncan Meyers and Nathan Roberts, it is said to have a tiny amount of Tempranillo and Grenache (from the Russian River Valley) in this years wine, hence the California designation, but it’s the Portuguese varietal Touriga Nacional (Mostly Luschinger Vineyard-Clear Lake plus Amador) that is the main grape that makes this pink tick, native fermentation and gentile whole cluster pressed add to the fresh/clean character. Bright with lots of verve, the 2016 Arnot-Roberts Rose shows sour cherry, strawberry, watermelon and grapefruit notes as well as spice, mineral tones and hints of salty stones, lavender, peach and rosewater in a brisk/lean form. This is a tangy refreshing wine with lingering mouth watering flavors and is well deserving of it’s hype and reputation, this is lovely summery stuff, thanks to Soif Wine Bar & Merchant in Santa Cruz for the taste and the take home bottle of this rare wine.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 20, 2017

2015 Bodegas y Vinedos Raul Perez, Mencia, Ultreia Saint Jacques, Bierzo Tinto, Spain.
It was a great honor to meet and taste with Raul Perez, one of Spain’s most heroic and influential winemakers, also known as the godfather of Mencia, at the Skurnik Wines West Portfolio tasting in San Francisco, it was an amazing event and collection with a fantastic array of producers and wines. Raul Perez’s lineup was mind-blowing and lived up to my huge expectations in every way, and I was wildly thrilled with each and every one of these offerings, especially this new Ultra Saint Jacques Bierzo Tinto that delivers wonderful depth and complexity at a price that makes it a bargain by any standards. Perez has mentored many rising stars, including Pedro Rodriguez, one of my all time favorites, at Guimaro and still has Veronica Ortega, who’s wines I recently discovered, working with him. Made from mainly from Mencia, but with some inter planted Bastardo (thought to be Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) coming off vines that average about 75 years old, this dark and ripe vintage shows an almost northern Rhone like character and has a earthy/savory/spicy edge like an lighter Cornas. This Bierzo Ultreia Saint Jacques Tinto was fermented with native yeasts, about 80% whole cluster in large oak cask with long macerations lasting between 2 and 5 months and then aged in mixed vessels including some cement, as well as 225L and 500L oak, unfined and unfiltered. It’s pretty in detail with violet/floral tones, peppercorn and a medium body that flows with sweet tannins, vibrant, but smooth acidity and flinty mineral elements as well as a core of loganberry, plum, candied cherry and tart currant fruits as well as salted black licorice, lavender, pipe tobacco, shale stones, earthy charms and a hint of cinnamon. This 2015 is lovely stuff that drinks very well right now and should prove pleasing for 3 to 5 years, for this price you’ll want a case!
($20 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 19, 2017

2015 The Princess & The Peasant, Pinot Noir, Signal Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge.
Another impressive wine by the hugely talented Stephanie Rivin, the wonderfully complex and vivid 2015 Pinot Noir is filling with vintage influenced density of fruit and cool climate energy and vitality, making for a highly seductive and thrilling wine. The Princess & The Peasant Signal Ridge Vineyard is a beautiful dark ruby hue in the glass and is followed up by an exciting nose of wild flowers, flinty mineral and a melange of far east spices and blue fruit before opening up to a medium bodied palate of black cherry, plum and cranberry/red apple skin fruits as well as shaved cinnamon stick, minty herb, tangy currant, mission fig and dried roses. It is framed by subtle oak sweetness, good acidity and silken textures that feel lavish in the mouth, but not heavy or taking away from the enticing life force in this alluring Pinot Noir. Stephanie Rivin’s The Princess & The Peasant Pinot Noir plus her Carignane, and all those wines at Signal Ridge Vineyard are rewarding finds, especially this one, it is on a similar level to Anthill Farms Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and the glorious Drew Family Gatekeeper Pinot Noir, as well as reminding me a bit of St. Innocent’s Oregon Pinots, drink this lovely wine over the next 3 to 5 years if not longer!
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 18, 2017

2014 David Duband, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les Pruliers, Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The absolutely spectacular David Duband NSG Les Pruliers is every bit as good as a Grand Cru twice, three or almost four times the price and proves once again that some of these Nuits-Saint-Georges Crus are stupidly underrated and in most cases under valued, asking the question, will they ever get Grand Cru status? Duband who recently took over some fantastic plots has crafted a gorgeous lineup of 2014 reds, with this Les Pruliers leading the way, even over the fine Echezeaux Grand Cru, plus bargain hunters will not want to miss David’s basic cubes either, these are exceptional and striking Burgundies with phenomenal layers, detail and dreamy length, they have a beautiful lightness, even though they show the vintages strengths of richness and texture. The Pruliers shows it’s terroir class and has earthy depths with stunning mineral, purity of fruit and subtle perfume, think Gouges meets Rousseau! Layers of briar, spices, rose petals, chalky/dusty stones, cured meat, anise and kirsch back up a core of Pinot fruit with black cherry, forest berry, plum and cranberry as well as firm tea notes, iron, saline, liquid violets and lingering strawberry/blueberry. This is young vibrant and powerful Burgundy, though refined and elegant, it has huge potential and will be a treasure in the cellar, while rewarding even now, best to be patient and let this stuff develop over the next decade. David Duband, imported by The Source, is a producer to discover, in particular don’t miss these 2014’s, on reflection, I am surprised these are still available!
($99 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 17, 2017

2013 Windy Oaks Estate, Pinot Noir, Proprietor’s Reserve, Schultze Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Opening up nicely, the Windy Oaks 2013 Proprietor’s Reserve, is becoming an elegant and beautiful Pinot Noir full of flavor and class with graceful detail and enchanting layers, this is one of my favorites in the lineup from this tiny Corralitos based winery that specializes in Burgundy style Pinot Noir. I’ve been a fan of Jim Schultze’s wines since the 1999 vintage, a wine that captured my heart with it’s remarkable Chambolle-Musigny like character, and this 2013 version reminds why I so admire these wines, while denser in fruit and richer on the palate, it has those Cote de Nuits qualities, but also now the vines have age on them shows it’s own sense of place and terroir. From the original 1.5 acre Bay Block, the 2013 Proprietor’s Reserve captures the cool climate and Monterey Bay influence with vibrant energy, with the clonal material not giving deep pigment, but instead allowing wonderful class and texture as well as a balanced mixture of floral perfume and savory/earthy tones with a touch of pure saline. This 2013 starts with wilted rose petal, crushed distilled violets, blueberry and kirschwasser along with a hint of smoky sweet oak and a faint trace of bacon before setting course on a medium bodied palate of bing cherry, raspberry, wild plum and red peach fruits. There’s a touch of underbrush, cinnamon, briar and cola bean in the background and the lingering finish adds a framboise and strawberry element to the core fruits as well as a bit of tea and orange zest, all seamlessly forming a gorgeous complete wine that both thrills and calms you at the same time. While the 2014 feel more generous and drink extremely well, this 2013 looks to slowly eclipse them, this brilliant wine could even get better still, be patient, best from 2018 to 2024.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 16, 2017

2015 Hiyu Wine Farm, Arco Iris Red, Columbia Gorge, Oregon.
This wildly adventurous natural wine project from Oregon’s Columbia Gorge, Hiyu Wine Farm offers a glimpse of the future of permaculture and holistic winemaking without historic dogma and modern traditions with a set of well crafted, but totally unique wines, including this all organic/natural 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Gris (with long skin contact) red Arco Iris. Using biodynamic practices and building a sustainable farm, with full cycle plants throughout the Hiyu Wine Farm wants to reduce all forms of waste while getting the most intensity of flavors from the grapes (especially) and the first public releases show wonderful promise, even though they don’t resemble any mainstream wines at all. One of the whites is a Jura meets Alsace solera with a amber/gold hue and slight sherry like notes, but with an orange wine like profile, it will never please the Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc crowd, but is clearly made with hyper attention to detail and skill, as it is not a stinky funky mess and can be enjoyed for it’s style, balance and texture, but it’s their red Arco Iris that thrills with it’s dense red berry and savory tones, it’s dry and mineral laced, but with generous richness, fruit intensity and length. The 2015 Arco Iris Columbia Gorge Red by Hiyu Wine Farm is freakishly expensive and won’t be a wine to experiment on just for kicks, though maybe it takes natural wine in America to a new place, it’s more than a hippy exercise in counter culture, it’s first and foremost a beautiful and intriguing wine of graceful detail and harmonious texture, it leads with crushed rose petal, a light dusting of mixed spices before a medium bodied palate of black cherry, plum and marionberry as well as a touch of leather, minty lavender, fennel, blood orange and dried guava. This is a ripe and fleshy wine that catches your attention for it’s disregard for the norms without being overtly militant or stupidly blind to expectations. The Hiyu Wine Farm wines are impressive and entertaining, hopefully the time is right for their success and that they find their niche, it will be a better world with such wines, even though they price will scare many away, including myself sadly, that said, I will revisit them and follow their progress, in particular this Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris co-ferment cuvee that sort of reminds me of Foradori, La Stoppa or Gravner in ways.
($106 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive