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Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 28, 2020

Latest Review

2018 Odonata, Sparkling Rosè of Sangiovese, Santa Clara Valley.
Odonata’s lovely Sangiovese Rosé sparkler, which comes from the Machado Creek Vineyard in the Santa Clara Valley region in the shadow of the Santa Cruz Mountains, is lightly fruity and crisply detailed, gaining some nice yeasty notes and texture with air, making for a real treat either on its own or especially with a meal. As I’ve been saying too, Odonata’s winemaker Denis Hoey thinks 2018 will go down as a great vintage in California, noted that, the perfect weather, from a long cooler growing season, allowed the grapes to mature at a steady pace, which delivered wines with finesse and balance, with all the Odonata releases I’ve tried this is especially true, in particular their Pinot, their new Carmel Valley Cabernet, which shouldn’t be missed, and this fun Rosé fizz. The delicate pale pink hue and creamy beading of the mousse make the latest Rosé of Sangiovese an inviting sparkling wine before it even reaches the palate, where it continues to be absolutely delicious with hints of racy citrus, strawberry, apple skin and crushed berries leading the way, before the leesy brioche kicks in adding a touch of luxuriousness to this easily quaffable bubbly. Faint dough and peach flesh come through here on Hoey’s Italian inspired methode ancestrale style wine or classy version of Pétillant Naturel, this is super enjoyable stuff again from this winery based on River Road in the Santa Lucia Highlands.

The Odonata Sparkling Rosè of Sangiovese is very pleasing and provides a little celebration in stressful times, like this year is giving us all, regardless of where you are, and I highly recommend getting a few bottles to brighten your day. Hoey, who was influenced by old world traditions and old Californian wines started making wines at the ripe age of 21 and has become a humble talent with his Odonata label where he crafts a unique collection of wines that come from a range of sites from the SLH to Paso Robles as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. For this Sparkler, Hoey explains, that the early picked Sangiovese juice spent a couple of hours on the skins to provide him with the color we needed, then the grapes were then gently whole cluster pressed and the juice was racked to a settling tank for 24 hours. Once the primary fermentation was completed, about 14 days, he transferred the wine to a stainless tank and two barrels for a short period. After four months of aging, Denis and team “en tirage” bottled the wine with added yeast and sugar that start another fermentation in the bottle. This process, methode ancestrale, naturally creates the fizz in Odonata’s sparkling wines. Hoey makes a point of adding, the fizzy wine wasn’t touched or moved for two addition years, while it aged in bottle and it was disgorged (when the yeast plug is removed from the bottle for clarity) on March 20th of 2020. Also he added 5.0 grams per liter dosage (sugar) to balance out the acid profile, which makes this dry Sparkling Rosé a more rounded! This wine was a huge hit when tasted with a group of wine industry friends, I can’t wait to try it again, it brings lots of welcome smiles!
($42 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 27, 2020

Latest Review

2019 Mount Edward, Gamay, Central Otago, New Zealand.
This was my first experience with Kiwi Gamay, though I’ve really enjoyed some Aussie versions over the years, and I was please as can be with this supple and smooth textured Mount Edward Central Otago Gamay that looks to have been made in a more delicate and Pinot like style with a touch of earthy complexity as well as a lingering soft fruity finish. This is not going to fool you that it is a Cru Beaujolais, but it is an easy wine to love and enjoy, especially with a slight chill and simple foods, its array of cherry, strawberry and plum red fruit flavors present themselves transparently with a bit of raw nakedness on the light to medium bodied palate. With air this New Zealand Gamay adds a pretty dark floral notes along with rustic spices, refined acidity and some very cool toned mineral. Grown on ancient glacial deposits in this remote and picturesque part of the country’s south island, this Gamay is one of many interesting and fine efforts from this small winery, maybe best known for their value priced hand crafted TED Pinot Noir.

As mentioned in my first review of their 2016 TED Pinot Noir, Mount Edward is a small winery located in the heart of the Gibbston grape growing district, 25 km from Queenstown, in Central Otago which was started in 1997 as a small personal project. Now, fully organic, Mount Edward has moved on from Pinot Noir and Riesling producer to a winery doing all kinds of cool other wines hat has vineyards in some the best sub zones of the Central Otago region. The avant-garde Mount Edward Winery with their cool labels, like this one, is a collection eclectic personalities and talents led by John Buchanan and his winemaking team, including Duncan Forsyth a long time Central Otago figure. The currant lineup includes Pinot Noir of course, Chardonnay, Riesling as well as this Gamay, along with Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc and more, plus a fine Rosé. The Gamay, which should be drunk up as fast as you can get it, comes from the Muirkirk Vineyard, at Felton Road, in Bannockburn, it was all from carefully sorted and de-stemmed ripe grapes, fermented traditionally and aged in neutral cask as not to over shadow the bright fruitiness in this fun wine.
($25-35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 26, 2020

2019 Eden Rift Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Eden – A – Vent, Cienega Valley, San Benito County.
One of the most easy and enjoyable Nouveau style Pinots of year is Eden Rift’s Eden – A – Vent 2019, it is everything you’d want in a fruit forward quaffer and has the substance and depth to be taken seriously in the mold of a fine Cru Beaujolais, hence the name which is a play on Moulin – a -Vent and its pure carbonic character is as smooth as silk. The vintage is proving the equal if not better than the much heralded 2018 here on the central coast with slightly smaller yields and just that bit more concentration and complexity showing in the wines, making the year one of best I’ve ever seen in this part of the world, influenced by the cold watered Monterey Bay, its going to be exciting to see more of this vintage in the coming months. The Eden – A -Vent shows an array of bright flavors, its very ripe and juicy with a medium palate of sweet tree picked cherry, black plum, strawberry and some tropical guava fruits along with supple tannin, racy acidity and that satiny mouth feel adding zest spicy details as this Pinot opens up. While the Eden Rift’s upper echelon offerings are wonderfully crafted and studied efforts, I really just love this vividly ruby hued wine that is best served slightly chilled and simple cuisine, its absolutely delightful with its opulent fruitiness and in the background there is notes of cinnamon, light oak and exotic florals.

The 2019 Eden Rift “Eden – A -Vent” Pinot Noir, made by winemaker Cory Waller and team, is limited small-lot wine that is crafted employing 100% carbonic maceration, as the winery notes, is an anaerobic, oxygen deprived, fermentation that is sort of an inside out process in a sealed stainless tank which contributes to this wine’s distinct soft fruitiness and shows faint banana and Jolly Rancher (candied watermelon and pomegranate), which is balanced by some savory elements. Waller, who’s brother Mike is the head winemaker at their (Eden Rift) neighbor, the famous Calera, is a local to the region and has an impressive resume in his own right, making wines at some star properties in Oregon’s Willamette Valley as well as doing some vintages in New Zealand. The Eden Rift estate is a historic homestead that was originally planted to grape vines back in 1849, which makes it one of the oldest in California and has some old vines, mostly Zinfandel, that date back to 1910, called their Dickinson Block. There are some incredible terraces on the property, which are now planted with some heritage clones of Pinot Noir, including Calera clone as well as Mount Eden clone, which forms the top wines made here. The soils here, which are limestone and mineral charged dolomite, and the proximity to the Pacific Ocean that helps retain freshness in the grapes in this unique terroir. I have been really impressed by the lineup here and recommend checking them out, especially the Terraces Chardonnay and Pinot, along with the mentioned old vine Dickinson Block Zinfandel, plus this Eden – A – Vent Pinot.
($36 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 25, 2020

2018 Lucia Vineyards by Pisoni, Syrah, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The long cool growing season of 2018, great for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Santa Lucia Highlands, allowed for one of the best vintages in decades across the board with a vast array of great wines being made in the region, but Syrah did exceptionally well too, especially in the hands of the talented Jeff Pisoni, who’s gorgeously inky and perfumed Soberanes Syrah is one of the best wines of the vintage so with amazing complexity, purity of fruit and depth. The latest Syrah release from the Soberanes Vineyard, a joint venture between the Pisoni and Franscioni families, that is located higher up on the Santa Lucia Highlands Bench adjacent to the famous Garys’ Vineyard with rocky/loamy soils and the cool climate that the AVA is known for, highlights the quality of this site that is planted to 33 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The profound Soberannes Syrah was hand crafted from carefully farmed lots with the grapes being mostly Alban clone, also known as a true Cote-Rotie selection, which thrives here and makes for a wine of tremendous character, style and sex appeal, in particular this 2018 with its striking dark opaque purple/black/garnet hue and its intriguing meaty note that this youthful wine delivers before a classic bounty of Syrah elements come alive in the glass with beautiful violets, peppercorns, blue and black fruit and a subtle smoky sweet oak accent. The full bodied palate is dense with blackberriy, boysenberry, currant jelly, plum and kirsch as well as black licorice, a hint of camphor or graphite, sage, lavender and faint bacon fat and this wine is perfectly dimensioned and its muscular power is masterfully graceful with acidity and polish tannins. This wine, like a growing number of top producers including Pax, Drew, Arnot-Roberts, Halcon and new comers Cody Rasmussen of Desire Lines Wine Co. and Samuel Louis Smith to name a few prove that Syrah in California can complete with, and in wines like this, surpass many elite Northern Rhone offerings are are some of California’s most compelling wines.

Jeff Pisoni has raised the bar with this vintage, and I hear the 2019s are going to be truly mind blowing as well, which confirms what I have been tasting so far, and his Northern Rhone inspired Soberannes Syrah, along with the soon to be released Lucia Garys’ Pinot, which I also got a chance to taste, are as close to perfection as it gets. It’s well know, that the Pisoni family, led by Jeff’s dad Gary Pisoni, are committed to quality, these are people with a deep and passionate love of wine and the region, they’ve really turned the Santa Lucia Highlands (the SLH) into one of world’s great wine-growing zones with their prized Estate Vineyard, the Garys’ Vineyard and this Soberanes being Grand Cru like sites, and insiders believe that Soberanes is just getting started and might turn out to be the place with the best potential going forward, and wines like this makes a strong case. For this 2018 Soberanes Syrah the younger Pisoni used 100% whole cluster and indigenous (native) yeast fermentation and just 20% new oak, all carefully picked French barrels that enhance the grapes true nature, while also adding a smooth mouth feel. This wine is outrageously delicious, with ripe fruit and savory tones, already, though I am certain it will only get better in the bottle and I think cellaring it for 5 to 10 years will bring a much more rewarding experience, to me, this will rival top Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, like Chapoutier’s Ermitage, Guigal’s Chateau d’Ampuis, Chave Hermitage and Jaboulet’s La Chapelle! I have been saying over the years that in some vintages, Syrah is actually the best wine in the SLH, in fact my own conversion in thinking when tasting through the Lucia, Roar and Novy (Siduri’s other label at the time) from the 2004 vintage, which all were made by Adam Lee, who consulted for Roar and Pisoni at the time, and since then they (Syrah) have only got better. This Lucia Soberanes Syrah is outstanding stuff, it may not get as much love as the Pinots, but it is wine that should not be missed, it is also a great wine to celebrate Pisoni’s twentieth anniversary vintage.
($60 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 24, 2020

2018 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling Trocken, Roxheimer Höllenpfad, Nahe Germany.
These 2018 Donnhoff’s are gorgeous wines, they offer a high level of pleasure as well as having taut structures with precise detailing, especially this fabulous Höllenpfad Trocken which shows its terroir distinction to near perfection with a mineral driven palate and expressive Riesling fruit character with an array of citrus, peppery spices, zest ginger, clove, stone fruit and a subtle tropical element. At first, you’d be forgiven if you were reminded of Chablis with the steely starts and expansive lemon/lime, before the Riesling energy takes over and it reveals apricot, kumquat, chamomile, verbena and orange blossoms. This Höllenpfad is chiseled from stone and is crisply focused, but allows for textural density without sweetness or heaviness, it shows remarkable clarity of form and transparency, this Riesling is so good, it could easily be mistaken for a GG! The Roxheimer Höllenpfad was acquired in 2010 and has quietly risen in fame within Donnhoff’s mighty selection of top sites, all of which are individually distinct in flavors, with this site being noted for its charming, less severe profile, but don’t get the wrong idea, this is a serious site and while easy to love this is profound Riesling. The Nahe region is coming on strong with a string of great years and majestic wines, with this dry Riesling highlighting the incredible talents of the winegrower and the quality of this particular vineyard in a south-facing side valley just off the river.

The “Höllenpfad” (“Path to Hell”) name is an old one, according to Terry Theise, the long time importer and Riesling guru, and likely was a reference to both the vineyard‘s steep slope as well as the unique color of the red sandstone in this Cru. Theise adds that, the surrounding landscape is bathed daily in the rich, warm light of the sun, like a crimson glow, especially in the evenings, as it reflects off the hillside‘s with its distinctive red soil. Jokingly Terry says, after walking this vineyard, It‘s also not hard to imagine that the word “Hell“ might have been uttered by many anyone working these vines on these steep slopes. The Roxheimer Höllenpfad is uniquely set on a mix of limestone along with mineral and iron rich veins of red sandstone, it is a prestigious VDP Erste Lage Cru (Premier Cru) with 10-40 year old vines. Hand crafted by Cornelius Donnhoff, one of Germany’s most outstanding winemakers, the Höllenpfad Riesling trocken saw a combination of stainless and used large oak Fuder for fermentation, that is spontaneous, and aging to express freshness and complexity, making for a wine that drinks great upon release, yet has the substance and depth to age decades. At the price, this is one of the best values in Donnhoff’s awesome collection and I highly recommend grabbing a few bottles, it will certainly be a rewarding venture. Donnhoff, which is notably one of the greatest wineries in the world, is a must have in this vintage (2018) and from what I have tasted so far again in 2019, which looks set to a legendary year.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 23, 2020

NV Jansz “Premium Rosé” Brut Sparkling Wine,Tasmania, Australia.
An absolutely delicious Brut Rosé from Jansz, a winery focused on Champagne style sparkling wines on the Australian island of Tasmania, one of the world’s southern most growing regions with a cool climate that favors Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with plenty of zest acidity that gives this wine its verve and elegance. In what Jansz calls sparkling wine made using Méthode Tasmanoise, this Premium Rosé Brut is crafted using multi vintages and blend from 68% Pinot Noir and 6% Pinot Meunier along with 26% Chardonnay, which adds to the richness and length, it also sees close to two years on the lees, with secondary fermentation in bottle. There’s a lot to love about this Tassie Bubbles and I loved the fine mousse and electric feel of the tiny beading along with the impressive dry palate of racy citrus, strawberry, tart cherry fruits and its mineral tones adding lovely white flowers, brioche and a hint of hazelnuts, making for a complex and food friendly bottle. While decedent and polished, this sparkling Rosé with also thrill those that enjoy the grower producer Champagne style, and it is wonderfully easy to enjoy on its own, though as mentioned it has the structure and intensity to go with many cuisines and dishes, including caviar and or briny fresh oysters.

The name Jansz, as the winery notes, pays homage to Tasmania’s namesake, the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman who first sighted the island in 1642. In fact, the estate, when it was established in 1975, the Jansz vineyard was originally named after Tasman’s ship, the Heemskerk. In 1986, esteemed Champagne house – Louis Roederer partnered with the owners of Heemskerk Wines to produce Tasmania’s first premium vintage sparkling wine. Since 1997 the winery has been in family hands and owned by the Hill-Smith’s, who have raised the game here, as well as the profile of Tasmanian sparklers, making Jansz one of the highest regarded Champagne style sparkling wine houses in the world and an Australian treasure. The Jansz Tasmania vineyard, under the guidance of two talented women, cellar master Teresa Heuzenroeder who overseas the winemaking and Jennifer Doyle viticulturist who cares for and farms the vines, sits to the northeast of the island state within the Pipers River region of the Tamar Valley with the vines set on pure, red, free-draining basalt soils and in close proximity to Bass Strait, which gives cool sea breezes and keeps the temps moderate enough to allow the vines to survive the cold winters here. This Brut Rosé is quality stuff and a great value, this one to try and well worth searching out!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 22, 2020

2017 Biggio Hamina Cellars, Pinot Noir “Biha” Van Duzer Corridor AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The brilliant ruby hued Biha Van Duzer Pinot, made by Todd Hamina, at Biggio Hamina Cellars is a beautiful and racy Pinot Noir with layers of bright cherry, strawberry, pomegranate and tangy plum fruits bursting from glass along with delicate rose petal, cinnamon, orange tea and dried herbs. I hadn’t had the Biggio Hamina Cellars wines before this bottle and now I know I have been missing out, this is intriguing stuff and it just got better and better as the evening went on and impressively it was the next day that things really got going, especially aromatically and texture wise without losing its exciting drive and vibrance. Hamina comes with tons of Willamette experience including time at some famous places, his CV includes stints at Archery Summit, Beaux Freres, Chateau Benoit, Elk Cove, Maysara and Patton Valley! That should get your attention and his Biha should be on your radar for value, plus he makes the wine for Claygate, Noel, Schönetal Cellars, Gypsy Dancer, Primavera and a couple blends for Longplay, all of which I plan to check out. He style seems a mature approach to natural or minimalist winemaking with the use of indigenous yeasts, or as he puts it, spontaneous fermentation without imputes or additions, employing neutral French barriques and bottling without cold stabilization or filtering to allow the grapes and vineyards to show their distinctive character.

The Biha line is Hamina’s and partner Caroline Biggio’s single AVA collection, plus one general Willamette Valley offering of value Pinots with his 2017s being from Chehalem Mountains, Eola-Amity Hills, Ribbon Ridge, Yamhill-Carlton as well as this Van Duzer Corridor, which I highly recommend, it has whetted my appetite for the rest of Biggio Hamina wines. This Van Duzer Pinot joins a elite set of quality bargains from Oregon along with Hundred Son’s Old Eight Cut Pinot, Love & Squalor, Bow & Arrow’s Rhinestones (a Gamay and Pinot Noir blend), Purple Hands’ basic Willamette Valley Pinot and Johan’s Farmlands Pinot to name a few, all of which are very different, but offer big bang for the buck. Hamina, like many of this newer generation is committed to more restrained use of new barrels, saying in a perfect world he’d use tons of whole cluster and no new oak and here you can taste the merits of that formula with the whole bunch and stem inclusion crunchiness and purity of fruit, which I admit I am a huge fan of. The Biggio Hamina Biha Van Duzer 2017 has loads of exciting flavors, savory zing and a polished or satiny mouth feel with no overt French oak needed, making a Pinot that goes great with an array of cuisine, I enjoyed it with smoked salmon. As new discoveries go, this one is was incredibly pleasing and I plan to explore more of these small production hand crafted Biggio Hamina wines!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 21, 2020

2017 Bodegas y Vinedos Ilurce “Rio Madre” Graciano, Rioja, Spain.
A super value priced Spanish red, made from 100% Graciano and crafted by winemaker, Ana Escudero at Bodegas y Vinedos Ilurce from vines in the Rioja region, this Rio Madre showing rich/ripe fruit along with delicate floral notes and snappy spiciness, it is without question a savvy buy and well made wine to enjoy anytime and without guilt. Bodegas y Vinedos Ilurce is a unique winery for Rioja, mainly making wines that have little or no Tempranillo and has gained a reputation as a Graciano champion and specialist, with this version a collaborative effort with the famed US importer Jorge Ordóñez, exclusive to the United States. This vintage is opulent, highlighting the warm of the Spanish sunshine, which was especially warm in 2017, with lush raspberry, plum and strawberry fruits leading the way on the smooth full palate along with a lingering soft creamy dimension of kirsch and hints of cedar and baking spices. Graciano, usually a background component in Rioja wines along with Garnacha, does make for very intriguing single varietal wines and this Rio Madre is a fun and easy way to start off with when discovering this grape which is also known as Tintilla and found as far away as the Canary Islands and in California where Dylan Sheldon of Sheldon Wines makes a stunning version.

The Rio Madre Graciano is sourced from vines that are up to 90 years old set on soils that are characterized by stony alluvial deposits of the Ebro River and are up at close to 500 meters above sea level in Rioja Baja mountain range. To keep fresh details and balance, Ana Escudero uses a combination of stainless, concrete and used French oak to ferment and raise this tasty Rioja wine, with all the grapes coming from sustainable farming practices without irrigation or the use of pesticides. To keep the focus on the pure fruit all the grapes were careful sorted and de-stemmed with a well judged maceration to extract color and depth of flavor, again, as noted, using some stainless steel fermenters and cement vats keeping temperatures cool, the aging with some in the neutral barrels adds to the supple layering in this exceptional for the price offering. Jorge Ordóñez has over the last twenty years has been a great ambassador for Spanish wines and has introduced America to many lesser known Spanish grapes from Monastrell (Mourvèdre) to Verdejo and was big player in getting Albariño to the US market, as well as promoting some of the classics from well known regions like Rioja, along with Toro and the Ribera del Duero. The Rio Madre Rioja is a great party wine and crowd pleaser, making for a juicy clean red that goes great with a range of cuisine, drinks nicely on its own and certainly more exotic than most wines in its price class!
($12 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 20, 2020

2018 Oakridge “Over the Shoulder” Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Victoria Australia.
The Over the Shoulder line Pinot from Oakridge is a value bottling from this Yarra Valley family winery that was first established back in 1978 and this 2018 is very polished and drinks very nicely with layers of bright red fruits, light smoky wood and earthy elements along with touches of spice and mineral tones. Oakridge’s wines are made under the direction of one of Australia’s most notable winemakers, David Bicknell and while I was unaware of this myself, I had seen he praises being noted by famous Oz wine writer James Halliday, who I admire and follow, whenever I can. The Yarra, in Victoria is a top growing area with a range of distinct climates and soils, but is known as a cooler region where Pinot Noir thrives and the track record is very impressive for this fabled Burgundy grape. Oakridge’s vineyards are in the heart of the Yarra Valley, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Australia’s second city (after Sidney) and the Oakridge restaurant and cellar door enjoy many visitors and has received many prestigious awards. I am ever curious about wine and regions, and recently have a re-found love for Aussie wines so I’ve been buying a bunch of different bottles to explore the different regions of this huge country, but with a focus on the cooler zones, like Adelaide Hills, Mornington, here in the Yarra Valley and even Tasmania!

The 2018 Oakridge Over the Shoulder Pinot, which comes from a variety of sites from Coldstream to Woori Yallock with a range of soils that mainly are red volcanic based soils, though there is also a bit of grey alluvial loams as well, all which adds to the character and taste profile, which reminds me a little of some Dundee Hills wines. This vintage shows good ripe fruit development from a long dry summer and harvest with black cherry, wild strawberry, plum and bramble berry leading the way on the medium bodied palate, and while not intended to be overly serious, it delivers more than enough complexity and freshness to be compelling with touches of cinnamon, rose petal and subtle oak to engage the enthusiast. The dark crimson/ruby hued Over the Shoulder Pinot Noir crafted with handpicked grapes and was gently de-stemmed for whole berry fermentation, which lasted for about 3 weeks in open top fermenters prior to being gently pressing into French oak barrels for aging. I had the Timo Mayer whole cluster Yarra Valley Pinot not long ago, which absolutely blew my mind, so I knew this value priced wine might be a let down in comparison, but I actually really enjoyed this silky textured Oakridge Over the Shoulder Pinot, it performed beyond my expectations, especially for the price I paid, which was way below the list price, making it a steal.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 19, 2020

2014 La Source du Ruault, Saumur Champigny “Clos de la Cote” Loire Valley, France.
This beautiful and stylish 100% Cabernet Franc Clos de la Cote, from Jean Noel Millon at La Source du Ruault in his 300 year old cellars carved from the limestone at his family’s estate in the Loire Valley’s Saumur Champigny AOC, is drinking wonderfully with the few extra years of age on it having softened the texture and the pure Cab Franc character is on full display. This dark garnet Saumur Champigny comes from all organic estate vines that are set on the classic tuffeau (chalky limestone) and hardened clay soils that Millon hand tends and harvests to make the Clos de la Cote, a special cuvee he’s made since the 2009 vintage, it is a wine of place that in Millon’s own words, tells a story of the year and nakedly gives every detail, with this 2014 being a wine of classic flavors and should age with exceptional grace. Fans of old school and rustic Cabernet Franc will find joy in this vintage, while those discovering Loire Franc with enjoy the smooth and transparent palate that is rich with blackberry, plum, current and kirsch as well as delicate black olive, crushed stone, anise and dried violets, it proves to be an excellent example of terroir driven and varietal correct Cabernet Franc with soft tannins and does not have distracting flaws, like Brettanomyces “Brett” or off putting aggressive raw green bell pepper, this only hints at it and flows nicely and finishes with weightless length.

Jean Noël Millon, a seventh generation vigneron, was completely unknown to me until I got this wine, who’s aim is to craft authentic wines that show the nature of his region and his family’s land, which this 2014 Clos de la Cote does to near perfection. This cuvee which is the top version of Cabernet Franc is naturally fermented and raised primarily in vat as well as neutral cask to express the grapes in their purist form. Millon took over his family’s Domaine in 1998 and has worked his way into the spotlight through intense hard work, he has 12 hectares of vines that he cares for, 10 being Cabernet Franc, with an only 1 hectare old vine parcel used for this Clos de la Cote, and 2 hectares of Chenin Blanc, from which he make two bottlings, that I will be searching out! The 2014 really opens up with air, it gains depth and richness in the glass with the addition of savory notes, light smokiness as well as cigar wrapper, cedar and framboise notes. This wine from La Source du Ruault is a delicious and vinous Cabernet Franc that looks to provide fine drinking pleasure for another ten to fifteen years, even though its lovely silken character makes it easy to love now. This domaine was a really an unexpected find and I look forward to more wines from Jean Noel Millon, this wine is not loud, but sings in a fine voice, I recommend grabbing it while you can.
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive