Grapelive’s Hot Picks

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2001 Mastrojani Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

This is a beautiful and pure Brunello that is both clean and old world charming, proving this is one place where you can keep terroir and still make a modern palate happy. Lovely richness and sublime textures with vigor and live, this classic Brunello can be drunk now or kept for another decade. Cherry, strawberry, cassis and dried herb Sangiovese purity flows across the palate with touches of rose petal, red berry and tobacco that add to the complex array of layers. This wine has a near perfect balance of fruit, tannin and acidity, again highlighting the vintage and superb winemaking here. ( $48 Est) 93-94 Points, grapelive


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2006 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone White, France

This classy vibrant white has plenty to love and is never anything but fresh and beautiful. Soft peach, pear and apricot fruit, clean acidity and subtle mineral and spice notes. Gets bigger and deeper with air, but it never gets flabby or out of balance. This Chateauneuf Blanc is fantastic and has the style of a Puligny in if it is Southern Rhone wine, that is how pure and focused it is. It shows ripe fruit, smooth texture and a full round mouth-feel with a long zesty finish. ($52-55 Est) 92 Points, grapelive

Kermit Lynch Direct

Also avail. at Bouchee Wines

Latest Reviews, Weekly Picks

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2005 La Spinetta Barbera D’ Asti Ca Di Pian, Piedmonte, Italy

I am a hopeless fan of this producer, I feel they might be the overall best winery in Piedmonte! This wine is a joy and offers so much it is hard to not fall in love with it. A super value, even with the lame dollar to euro, at $28 this is a steal. I get a case or so whenever I can! It is hard to find, but now that the Henry Wine Group imports it direct it has became easier for restaurants and wine merchants to get it, so get on your local to pick it up! Lush red fruits, plum, cherry and berries with some pretty currants. Good dark color and full-bodied, this Barbera gives it all. I give this wine to all my friends, and they just call it the Rhino Wine, because of the label drawing. ($28-30 est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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2006 Chateau Thivin Brouilly Cru Beaujolais (Gamay Noir) Claude Geoffray, French Red

If you want to perfect Thanksgiving red this just might be it, just one sip will convince most to the pleasure of a real fine Beaujolais! This clean and structured Gamay has tons of fruity flavor, but is lively and medium bodied. Pretty fresh crushed berries and strawberry compote smoothly dance on the palate with a flourish of cranberry and dried flowers on the finish. This is a totally yummy wine that has class, but easy to quaff anytime. You can find it through Kermit Lynch in Berkeley and it is under $20 most places! ($18-22 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Reviews & News Oct. 2007

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I’m back from exploring Russia

Okay, so the wine sucked, but Russia was awesome and the beer and vodka made up for the disappointment with the wine. I tried an Abkahzian red made with a native Georgian grape of which I can’t spell nor pronounce, while the winemaking was sloppy and dirty I do believe the grape could be a very good one. I was told the Georgian made versions are wonderfully rich and compelling, but alas it was not to be for me. Russia has a strict embargo against Georgia and most of their ex-republics, which they claim is for quality and health safety issues, though it is known to be a political issue. So I made due with Baltika beer, which is like the Carlsberg of Russia and based in Saint Petersburg. Baltika makes about 12 different styles of which I tried most! The wheat beer (number 8 on the label) I think was the best, though the export Lager (number 7) and the porter (number 9) were of very good quality. The Russians did have a super selection of Italian wines along with a good choice of Aussie and French as well, so drinking wine is not bad and I did see more people drinking wine than vodka in restaurants, which did surprise me. There is a really bad drinking problem in Russia and lots of lives are being lost to alcoholism and drunk driving, but that said, Moscow streets were not littered with drunks and most people drinking out in public were doing so with beer and seemed fairly lucid. While surprised by the lax enforcement and open public drinking, it was nice to sit in front of the Kremilin on a sunny day with a brew from a keg served from a rolling kiosk! Check back as I’m putting a whole article together on my Russian holiday soon, under the “Fermented Travel” column.

Too see my notes on the latest Pasonage wines, check out my barrel tasting from last month <click here>

Latest Reviews

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Bergerie Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

I have wanted to taste and review Joly wines for years, as he is one of the great pioneers of Bio-Dynamic (super organic) winemaking and is extreme in his views about it. I must say that I am now a full on believer! This Chenin is one of the top white wines you can get, with richness, depth and earthiness that puts it on par with Montrachet
or a great Alsace wine. This is his middle priced version and it is golden in color and has a perfect balance between old world and new world, meaning it has ripeness, but retains clarity and vibrant flavors. Peach, white plum, pear and clove with hints of mineral, straw and citrus. It finishes with dried flowers and a touch of honey. This is a joy, especial for the geeky wine drinker that is looking for something different to try their friends on.($45 est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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2004 Nicholas Joly Savennieres Clos de la Coulee de Serrant, Loire Valley, France (Chenin Blanc) White Wine

This is the top of Joly’s line and my God is it good! Like a Grand Cru Burgundy or First Growth Bordeaux, sometime somewhere regardless of price you must try this wine. It is lovely and intense at the same time and is amazingly complex for a Chenin Blanc, proving that Nicholas Joly has something special and his extreme views just might be 100% correct. This Bio-Dynamic thing has got something to it and this wine could be the poster child for the movement. This has to be the greatest Chenin in the world, who is going to argue that claim? Well I’m sure many, but find this wine and try it then write me and tell me it is not true! Jess Jackson (Kendall-Jackson) and his Regal Wine Company sells this wine wholesale, so ask your local wine store to get you some. This lush and pure wine has a freshness and light touch at first, but gets bigger and richer with air. I found all kinds of white and yellow fruits, flowers and subtle mineral notes with a grace and character not found that often in this in your face world. The texture is amazing and the length is fantastic. Words can’t do it justice, so at some point you’ll have to try it yourself. ($90-100) 96 Points, grapelive

Parsonage 2005 Releases

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2005 Parsonage Merlot Estate Carmel Valley
This is the breakthrough vintage for the Parsonage estate Merlot and maybe the dark horse of the vintage! I was impressed with the dark inky color and perfume that has all ready come together in this wine. The mouth is very full and complex with lush cherry, plum and dark berry fruits. The oak is well infused and adds sweet vanilla and mocha notes. Not much of this Merlot will be produced, so be sure to add it on your offering if your lucky enough to be on the winery mailing list, this is not a Merlot to be overlooked! 92 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah Estate Carmel Valley
Syrah has always been a winner here and this rises to the next level, as the vines mature on the estate lots more underlying flavor and complexity shows through. This vintage is the cleanest and more defined yet, with Blueberry, spice, plum, cassis and mineral all in sharp focus. This wine will be a steal on release, so don’t be shy and get on their list today! Added touches of smoke and game give a hint to its Syrah intensity and class. 93 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Carmel Valley
Cabernet did really well here in 2005 and I think it is showing much more character as well, I think the grape is star here and it seems to be so correct that I have a hard time finding any flaws! Pure classic fruits and depth make this vintage remarkable and especially noteworthy. Mixed black and red berry, plum, currants, cassis and chewy tannins scream Cabernet and don’t let up. The complex underbrush, herb and tobacco notes are very subtle and the hints of licorice, vanilla and cranberry are lovely. 93 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah Reserve “Carmel Stone” Estate Carmel Valley
Coming off the upper block of the hillside this Syrah is jet black and inky dark, same as last year, but there’s even more going on and it seems much more pure. So in fact an awesome wine just got even better, and honestly I was surprised, because I loved the 2004! I got lost on the nose alone, the violets and herbal spices are amazing and beautiful. Fantastic balance and depth make you think Cote-Rotie, but it is truly a wine of its own place. Sweet boysenberry, cherry, plum and wild mountain berry fruit, white pepper and liqueur all come at you in perfect layers. 96 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Syrah “Cuvee Rocco” Reserve Estate (Special Barrel Selection), Carmel Valley
This special barrel selection takes the darkest and most intense Syrah and it shows an added intensity and thickness throughout. Jet black and powerful now with ripe tannins, I might be going out on a limb here, but this maybe be the greatest expression of Syrah from Carmel Valley ever produced! The fruit is all about the dark side, with blackberry, blueberry and savory black currants leading the way, but this wine still retains tangy acidity that keeps it all flowing nicely. It is all ready dense and chewy even though it still will fill out even more, giving me reason to call it a blockbuster! 97 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Estate, Carmel Valley
Every vintage just gets better here, and 2005 looks set to take the throne as the Parsonage king wine. Nothing in this area even comes close to this wine, it is a freak of nature and I can only compare it to Napa and Pauillac in its style and richness, then again it just might even be better! Bill Parsons finds it hard to take in, but he is a man living the dream, as his wines rank as world class or even world-beaters! The 05 Reserve Cab is utterly fantastic with blackberry jam, cassis, currants and plum fruit bursting at the seams, it is almost more impressive for the depth and balance that is has! Everything is in its place and the wine is so focused and defined it can’t help but be a classic. 98 Points, grapelive

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2005 Parsonage “Cuvee Bixby” Reserve Petit Verdot Estate, Carmel Valley
I tasted the blend in separate barrels, starting with the Petit Verdot with will make up the majority in this unique wine. This Bordeaux blend leans on the rare Petit Verdot grape, which has a darker color and deeper perfume than the other Bordeaux grapes. Though for some reason, here in Carmel Valley the grape also has a rich fullness and character that is doesn’t usually achieve in Bordeaux proper. This vintage shows crème de cassis, bright sweet flowers, a massive body and lush tannins. The subtle briar, tobacco and spice all add up to pure joy. The final blend should be about 75-80% Petit Verdot and then polished off with some of the reserve Cabernet and maybe a touch of the remarkable Merlot fruit this year. When I tasted the selected barrels of Petit Verdot there was some set aside for a new limited wine the “Cuvee Bixby” that is named for the latest edition the clan and I can tell you nothing is spared in making this the finest wine possible. As much as I can tell this special blend will surpass the amazing 2003 and 2004 vintages and maybe become one of the most sought after wines of 2005! *After tasting the final bottled version, I can tell you it all come together in near perfection, This is an awesome wine that will get better with some age as well. 96+ Points, grapelive

Parsonage Village Vineyard

www.parsonagewine.com

Winery Direct