Monthly Archives: February 2008

Grapelive Hot Picks

DeLille Chaleur Estate2005 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate (Bordeaux-Style Cabernet Blend) Washington State
Over the years I have grown very fond of DeLille wines and think Chris Upchurch is one of the top winemakers period, and I can say now that his wines are even better than ever. This is their top wine, the Chaleur Estate and it is remarkable for its lustiness and for its shear grace. This really should scare any of the First Growths, with depth and richness that are both lovely and stunningly good. Black fruits and pure currants mingle on the palate with layers of flavors and ripe tannins. Blackberries, cassis and smoky sweet oak notes and savory spices all add to the whole. This wine is totally sublime and a real beauty that should age well and give lots of pleasure over the next 5-8 years. (Est. $72-89) 95 Points, grapelive

DeLille Harrison Hill2005 DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill (Bordeaux-Style Cabernet Blend) Washington State
The Harrison Hill seems tighter and spicier than the Chaleur Estate, it’s sister wine, but should develop nicely and be just as good. The nose was muted now, but I feel it will come around with ac little time to reveal a perfume and a sweet mix of wild fruits. The palate is big and rich, with red and black fruits coming in waves of plum, cherry, liqueur, mixed berry and tobacco spice. This seems more classic Bordeaux in style and may age longer than the Chaleur, but it does need a bit of cellar time. After some air it really gets going and is very impressive all the way through, this is serious stuff! (Est. $72-89) 94-96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Latest: Reflections

s5002191.jpgGrapelive Best of 2007

by Kerry Winslow

I am going to reflect on just a few of the highlights of 2007 and then we can move on, as this year looks set to be a great one all ready. I must say on every front wine is getting better and better, which makes find that really special wine a bit harder, but gives the public a higher standard of options now. The French continue to regain some of the lost ground and even with the horrible exchange rates are getting fantastic wines to the USA. I know that Bordeaux prices are crazy right now, but I have found some great values in other regions of France, especially in the Loire. Italy too is jamming with amazing regional and village wines coming in from places as diverse as Sardinia and the Alto Adige, as well as better known areas like Tuscany and Piedmont. This last year I really came to understand and love German Pinot Noir, known there as Spatburgunder, and still go nuts for a Mosel Riesling. Here at home, I have many new favorites and keep getting blown away by new producers all the time. So here is my TOP TEN of 2007.

1. 2005 Tablas Creek Esprit du Beaucastel Rouge, 95 Points (great wine and still under $50) 2. 2005 Francois Raveneau Chablis Clos, 96 Points (Priced in the don’t ask range, but is fantastic at any price) 3. 2005 Reverdy Sancerre Rouge, 93 Points (this is a lovely Pinot Noir and it is about $25) 4. 2006 Martin Alfaro Pinot Noir “Deer Park” Santa Cruz Mountains, 93+ Points(A true lush and polished Pinot, and only about $35) 5. 2001 August Kesseler Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Rheingau, 94 Points (An amazing mineral laced Pinot true to its Terroir and a Burgundy rival, and though price at near $125, it is just too cool not to include) 6. 2005 Deux Montille Auxey-Duresses White Burgundy, 93 Points (A pure and beautiful wine and at under $40 it’s a real value) 7. 2005 Telan Quarz Sauvignon Blanc, Alto Adige, Italy, 94 Points(Maybe the best Sauvignon Blanc ever, next to Dagueneau, about $55, but worth it) 8. 2005 Robert Foley Claret, Napa Valley 96 Points(What can I say? It rocks) 9. 2005 Parsonage Village Vineyard “Cuvee Rocco” Syrah, Carmel Valley Estate, 97 Points(A monster wine that blew me away, and this was tough, because the other Parsonage 05’s were rock stars as well) 10. 2005 Jennifer Pandol Vineyards Pinot Noir “Schultze Vineyard” Santa Cruz Mountains, 93-94 Points(A look to the future, as she made only 20 cases or so and never released it to the public, but the 2006 looks be right up there, and going to be released this spring/summer)

This really was hard and of course there were many others that could have easily been on this list, but I’ll go with it and hope that you get a chance to taste a few of these selections. Now it is on the next exotic nectar!
Happy hunting and enjoy the journey.

Alaya’s Latest

Masi Amarone2001 Masi Amarone “Serego Alighieri” Vaio Amoran, (single vineyard Amarone) Veneto, Italy
As soon as I opened this bottling of single-vineyard Amarone, I was inundated with the layers of hedonistic scents on the nose – cherry, powdered cocoa, coffee bean, sweet tobacco, candied anise, molasses, ink, amaretto, lavender, violet, and subtle mineral create a heavenly combination. One could become excited just sitting and breathing it in for several minutes, especially when sharing with a friend, and watching each other’s appreciative reactions escalate into sheer ecstasy. Then, you put it in your mouth, and let your tongue become gently coated with what feels like candied velvet. Luscious layer after layer of round, black fruit and spice – cinnamon cookies, nutmeg, and clove – are followed by a mid-palate of plum jam, raisin, and mocha. The mouth feel is something to fall in love with, for it is smooth, sexy, and feels slightly naughty. Fine powdery tannins integrate all of these lush layers, making the finish surprisingly dryer than you expect, and the Amarone arguably suitable for food.

In the words of the charming Raffaele Boscaini, whose family has owned the Vaio di Masi estate vineyard since the 1800’s “This makes a very good friend for your steak.” By no means does an Amarone need food; in fact many would argue that pairing it to something would risk the true experience of Amarone. This wine is heavy and intense, and offers enough interest to be its own meal; dessert, perhaps. But, as Raffaele pointed out, and I think it’s good to remember, you should eat and drink together what you desire. If it feels right in the moment, then that’s all that matters.

Since the acquisition of the first vineyards of Masi estate in the 1800s, the Boscaini Family continued to purchase vineyard parcels in what can be regarded as some of the best viticultural areas in Veneto. Currently, Raffaele and his sister Alessandra represent the seventh generation of the Boscaini Family to be involved in the Masi wine tradition. In addition to the traditional millennia-old Appassimento system of Valpolicella, the Masi Amarone Vaio is also aged in cherry wood casks. During Appassimento, grapes are harvested and laid on bamboo racks to dry for approximately four months, then crushed as a concentrated juice. At Masi, they are then aged in Slovenian oak for 20-30 months. The addition of the cherry wood aging in the Vaio adds to its depth, complexity and elegant structure. (This is) a special bottle to share with someone you love, in celebration of romance. * Check out the Masi website for the history and winery details MASI

Alaya Wyndham-Price