Happy New Year

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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copain07.gif2007 Copain Syrah “Tous Ensemble” Mendocino County, California.
Wells Guthrie and Kevin McQuown have been making some of the great values in Syrah for many years now, as well as top of the line single vineyard cuvees, and this wine is a superb example of their commitment to high quality and ease on the wallet! 2007 being another fantastic vintage, reminds of other top years like 1994, 1999 and 2004 for Northern California regions, a vintage of sublime ripeness and intensity with depth and balance showing even now in these young wines. Copain’s “Tous Ensemble” is a rich and focused Syrah that is mouth filling and full of flavor with layers of boysenberry and racy red fruits that include savory currant, plum and cherry, while there is hints of pepper, lavender, flowers, blueberry, roasted coffee bean, smoke, wild meats and subtle sweet vanilla. This wine is very impressive and opens up like dark chocolate, nicely with refined tannins hidden well in the background along with a touch of acidity that hold it together and keep everything fresh and vibrant, while still being round and elegant. Bravo to the whole Copain team for providing us with a lovely Syrah that delivers all you’d want from a fine red at a super price. ($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 30

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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caillou00.gif2000 Domaine du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Les Quartz” (Vacheron-Pouizin) Rhone, France.
What a joy to get a chance to taste a top Chateauneuf at its peak, with nice bottle age, and this one especially as I had tried it when it was released, about 7 years ago. The “Les Quartz” is a reserve wine and a unique barrel selection cuvee from Caillou’s best rocky plots. After almost a decade this wonderful and still fresh Chateauneuf-du-Pape is just now reaching its heights and giving everything it promised, opening with a mature note before reviving itself and showing lively and vibrant fruit and firmness. This wine is pure terroir and focused grace with bright acid and smooth refined tannins with complex layers that flow with elegance and seamless style. The nose is full of dried flowers, rocky mineral and earthy, but the mouth is fresh fruit all the way and has a beautiful violet and black currant burst to start before lush red fruits and lavender come to the fore. This wine shows some Grenache like strawberry, grenadine and kirsch notes with added depth coming in with blackberry, cassis, cherry and plum fruits as well as pepper spice. Wow, it was so lucky of me to have the time to savory such an amazing wine over a few hours and it kept adding details and flavors with every minute very much like great Burgundy can. ($65 Release price) 94-95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 29

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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ridge08.gif2008 Ridge Vineyards (Zinfandel)  Sonoma County “Three Valleys” California.
This Zin cuvee is from 6 vineyard plots from some of Sonoma’s finest Zinfandel areas and has some amounts of Petite Sirah and Mataro (Mourvedre) that add color and complexity to the Zin. Ridge still makes some of the most interesting and elegant wines in California and this little beauty drinks like a fine Claret, but with California ripe fruit and clean winemaking. 2008 is looking like a fine and classy vintage to drink young, and this wine shows tangy sweet grapey flavors with a nice balance of fruit and acid. The mouth is robust and fresh with raspberry, baked cherry, currants, plum and bramble with touches of spice, mineral, pencil lead, chocolate and smoky oak vanilla notes. The first impression is of concord grape juice and after that dies down everything comes together nicely in round layers with subtle and refined tannins. This is a fine Zinfandel wine that is both serious and unserious at the same time, so no need to think too much, just enjoy a good wine and don’t worry about anything, especially the great price! ($22-25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 28

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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thomas.gif2007 Domaine Thomas & Files Sancerre La Crele, France (Sauvignon Blanc).
This white is pure class and a wonderful Sauvignon that reminds you why the Loire is the grape’s spiritual home. This wine is bright and crisp with subtle depth and has a savory long finish that lingers with tangy fruit and mineral essence. The nose is gooseberry and sharp, but the mouth is round and stony with lemon-lime, grapefruit, white peach and just a touch of grass. It is a terroir wine that has vibrant layers and brisk acid that never overpowers the flavors, just giving balance and keeping things fresh without taking away from the round texture. The only problem is that it is very limited and it is kind of pricy, though in real pleasure terms it is worth the cost. ($32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Christmas Review

Grapelive Holiday Wine Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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Bunan Bandol2003 Domaine Bunan Bandol Moulin des Costes, France (Mourvdre).
This rich and intriguing Mourvedre has depth and length that make it a true pleasure, and it is just darn good! The nose is chalky and ripe with fruit and flowers before earthy spices come to the fore. The mouth is full and intense with beautiful clear fruits, plum, cherry and blackberry, then touches of lavender, pepper and hints of game. Everything mixes perfectly and the whole is a heady joy that really delivers and sends you right to the south of France, which is never a bad thing! Even it such a hot vintage this wine has lots of vibrant flavors and super balance, which is very impressive. ($30-34 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 23

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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haagtba.gif2005 Fritz Haag Brauneberg Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling TBA, Mosel, Germany.
It is a rare treat to taste Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) and this is one of the very best there is! The Haag wines never disappoint and in fact  with my high expectations they continue to amaze and surprise me, always leaving me in a hedonistic trance and with a sense of wonder. These are wines that are in themselves a special occasion, wines that bring joy and passion, wines that make you grateful and celebrate life! The 2005 Brauneberg Juffer-Sonnenuhr TBA opens with perfume and understated elegance with spicy jasmine, white citrus flowers and melt in your mouth ripe fig, before a still lively and tangy palate, and while this is a very sweet wine it has wonderful balance and vibrant grace. The mouth is rich with a light syrup over peach and pear feel with tangerine, tropical exotic fruits, honeyed apple and a solid core of apricot. There is a liquid mineral essence, a savory thickness and notes of slate, flinty spice, vanilla and candied orange rind. This is sublime and world class wine that delivers the goodness in fantastic fashion, with subtle botrytis, the “noble rot” that adds depth and character in the right conditions leaving a whiff of honeycomb. Bravo Oliver Haag and team for making such great wines, I only wish I could afford it! ($250-325 Est.) 96-97 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 22

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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andrewrich06.gif2006 Andrew Rich Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon.
This wine delivers Burgundy like flavors and texture, while showing its own terroir and rich fruit with touches of barnyard and briar. The nose is deep with earthy and perfume notes that meld nicely before a full palate of plums, blackberry, currants and a solid cherry core. Oregon is reacting fast to the new economy and this wine is a wonderful value these days and blows away any Burgundy in this price class and takes on most of the Californians in this range too, I think two years ago this wine would have easily sold in the $40-45 region, and I bought this bottle for about $30, so apart from Melville and Alfaro Family from California, I’d be hard pressed to think of a better wine for the money. Years back I used to see their sweet wine, but I can’t remember having their Pinot before, and that is a shame, as it is very good. The palate is rich and lush with deep flavors and mineral notes with a long finish that makes you want more no question. This wine has a touch of Nuit-St.-George soul and pure Willamette Valley pleasure. ($30-33 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 21

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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greystackgrenache.gif2007 Grey Stack Vineyards Grenache “Dry Stack Vineyard” Bennett Valley, Sonoma County (California).
The owners of Grey Stack, the Young’s have easily become the real deal and one of the great new wineries to be discovered this year, and I can say I am so grateful to have been able to taste their wines this year. My friend, a Sonoma crusader, Bradley Gray, turned me on to Grey Stack, in fact he called me moments after trying the Grey Stack Sauvignon Blanc and told me it was the best white wine he could ever remember trying almost! Bradley knows his wine and he was right on the money. I ran into the Young’s at the Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco and was able to try their whole line up and they all were fantastic wines and left a big impression on me. Then I was able to taste this wine, the Grey Stack Dry Stack Vineyard Grenache, and I recently re-tasted it, and again it proved remarkable and intensely pleasurable. The Grenache is perfumed with lots of fruit, flowers and lavender before a deep palate of plum, cherry, grenadine and mixed berries with hints of cassis, pepper, sweet herbs, graphite and pretty oak notes leaving a lingering vanilla aftertaste. ($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 19 & 20

Grapelive Weekend Wine

By Kerry Winslow

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bjornstad07pn.gif2007 Bjornstad Pinot Noir Van Der Kamp Vineyard Sonoma Mountain.
Greg Bjornstad of Flowers and Tandem fame, is making some amazing wines under his own label and is also making some cult Pinots for clients as well. I sang and crowed about his 2006 Van Der Kamp Pinot, and recently screamed loudly about his fantastic new releases, including his 2007 Porter-Bass Vineyard Chardonnay which I regard as one of the top wines I’ve had in the last year. This vintage Bjornstad Van Der Kamp Pinot is a gem, a wonderful savory wine that reminds of a fine Gevrey-Chambertin with pure flavors and remarkable balance and lovely elegance. This intense Pinot Noir opens with rose pedal oil, and zesty raspberry and goes deep on the palate with fresh black cherry, plum and violets with mineral, asian spices, cassis and smoky sweet vanilla. This is a world class Pinot Noir that is so real and terroir driven that it is hard to imagine a better wine and I can’t even find words to explain it! It will only get better with some age, but it is sublime now. ($40-45 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: Dec. 18

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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guigalcondrieu07.gif2007 Guigal Condrieu “La Doriane” Rhone White (Viognier).
This is an amazingly complex and sublime wine that is very close to perfect, in fact it is a wine that rivals the worlds best. This wine is 100% Viognier made with 100% new French oak and full Malolactic fermentation, make it full-bodied and super rich, and lovely in every way. With question or any doubt this is one of the greatest white wines in the world period! The nose is perfumed and intense with jasmine, honeysuckle, dried white flowers to start and a palate that has edgy apricot, bacon, sweet pear and peach pit with a stoney grit and clarified butter cream. This wine has the class of Corton-Charlemagne and the power of a Batrard-Montrachet with the exotic nature of the Rhone thrown in, and I can say that it is still very young and will only get better with some cellar age. This is a succulent and vibrant wine that is ripe and round that would be even better with the right menu, especially Lobster! I swear it would be very tough to not pick this wine as my favorite wine of the year. ($109-120 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive

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