Grapelive Lastest

kerry09gl1.jpgThe past year brought many highs and some pretty bad lows, but now it is 2009 and we can look to the future. There is no getting away from the fact that the wine industry has suffered a massive down turn and that it may have changed forever as a result of the crash of 2008, but we must look forward and make hard choices if we want to continue. I have suffered, we all have suffered and it looks set to be a grim year ahead, though I think and hope things will stabilize and see some growth by summer. On the brightside of things, of which I am always looking for, seems that there is some great wine coming available and that there are some real values out there for us wine lovers. On reflection, I had some fun times and great wines in 2008, with a couple of wines that will always stick out, The 2001 Harlan Estate, The 2006 Beaux Frères Upper Terrace Pinot Noir, The 2005 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, and both the Roar and Pisoni Estate 2006 “Pisoni Vineyard” Pinots, all mind-blowing wines that stunned me with their level of greatness. Then there were my pet favorites and wines I could drink often, like the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah of Richard Alfaro, of Alfaro Family Vineyards, who’s wines and estate just get better and better each vintage. Looking back, I do have some fond memories from the past year, but I must be honest and say I am happy 2008 is gone.
So, looking forward, I think people are going to be able to enjoy many great wines at great prices, all ready I’ve been tasting some fantastic wines that are both of quality and super values. I recently sat in at a tasting of French wines imported by the famous, and folk lore hero, Kermit Lynch of Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley, California, and I was left with a big smile on my face at the level of quality and true sense of terroir his wines showed, and these for the most part were value priced wines. Kermit Lynch only brings in family estates where he becomes friends with and who make “real” wines, meaning it is a sense of pride in place and love of the land that is their reason in being, Kermit is turned off by huge gleaming stainless steel tanks and thousands of small barrels, he is more concerned with the people and soil and that they make small lots of wine that carries that essence into the bottle. These wines are made traditionally, but with clean winemaking, so they are not overly funky or off putting in anyway, in fact they taste in most cases more pure and natural with clean flavors and balance. A few years back Kermit wrote his story, a book called “Adventures on the Wine Route, A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France” (The Noonday Press, 1988) a tale of his travels and stories of winemakers there, and one of my favorite wine books. Long with his great selections of wine of course, you should pick up a copy of his book, and read my latest reviews of some his wines.

Grapelive: Wine of the Week

cahours.gif2006 Clos La Coutale Cahors, Red, Southwest France.
Just when you think the French have lost it, and the Argentina makes the best Malbec, you find this beauty to prove you wrong! Kermit Lynch, the old devil finds these family estates and brings in wines that will surprise you, and this is one that is going to blow you away in its price point. This Cahours is about 80% Malbec and the rest Merlot and it is full, lush and creamy on the palate with rich plum and cherry fruit with depth and balance not usually found in the area. This wine blows away Bordeaux wines in the $30-40 range and goes up against those Argentine gems as well. You can find this wine at Kermit Lynch in Berkeley or at Rancho Cellars in Carmel, Ca and I recommend you do! With its layers of sweet red fruits, savory cedar notes, ripe tannins and class it will be a great find. ($16 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Week

kunin07.gif2007 Kunin Pape Star Red, Central Coast, Rhone style red blend.
Seth Kunin has nailed it with this beautiful and textured Chateauneuf-du-Pape style blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. This wine is a steal and shows real class and balance giving great bang for the buck. The flavors are bright and pure with lush layers and a long clean finish, marrying the ripeness of California with the spice and mineral notes of the old world. This pure red has plum, black cherry, grenadine, red berry and kirsch with touches of clove, lavender, fennel and pepper. Everything is tight and crisp at first, but it really opens up with some air, making it big and round with intense Chateauneuf presence. ($20 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

RANCHO CELLARS

Grapelive: Wine of the Week

samsara-alder.jpg2006 Samsara Syrah “Alder Springs Vineyard” Mendocino
Chad Melville’s Samsara label is really blowing minds and this wonderful Syrah certainly will bring in new fans. On a departure from his normal Santa Barbara & Santa Rita Hills, the Alder Springs from the North Coast is a beautiful wine with great depth and balance. This wine is full and round with a pretty nose of perfume and violets leading to ripe fruits of blackberry, plum and raisin, mixed with pepper, Asian spices and cassis, finishing with mocha and coffee bean. Subtle oak use gives hints of vanilla and cedar that gives some creaminess and perfectly lifts the fruit here. This is a classy Syrah that reminds of Northern Rhone versions and gives lots of pleasure and showcases the winemaker’s talent and easy touch. ($40 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

RANCHO CELLARS