Grapelive Latest: May 28

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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thackreypn.jpg2007 Sean Thackrey Pinot Noir “Andromeda” Devil’s Gulch Ranch, Marin.
Wow, this is a wild wine, a true Thackrey creation and so hard to explain in words! To tell you what it tastes like almost takes away the surprise, I hate to give away too much, but it is sort of like a cross between Bandol and Burgundy, but with a real twist. If you have had Sean’s wines before you’ll understand and love this wine, but it will take a newcomer a little while to get it, though it will win anyone over, as long as you have an open mind. The nose is reduced and there is a balsamic note along with dried flowers and red fruits. The Palate is vivid and loaded with menthol, licorice and baked cherry with poached plum and lavender oil. After that first impression a more subtle side comes forward with mineral, truffle, spice and sweet herb notes. Sean Thackrey makes totally unique and wild wines and expresses his genius in every single one. ($45-60 Est.)
94 Points, grapelive

*available at www.dickwarnerwines.com $45

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Grapelive Latest: May 26

Grapelive News May 26, 2010
By Kerry Winslow

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vinesinthesun.jpgMay has been an interesting time in the wine country, with lots of rain and some breaks with sunshine, which has made for lots of green growth going on in the vineyards, but causing some worry with the growers. It certainly looks beautiful when the sun comes out and I have enjoyed a few wonderful days of touring around and walking through the vines. With really tough economic times, there is a real edgy and nervous air above the famed Napa Valley, with lots of whispers about who is in serious trouble or even a few that have quietly closed their doors all together. That said, the great wines continue to sell out fast and collectors still fighting to grab as many bottles of rare vino as they can. People talk about China and Asia being the only buyers out there, but I can tell you that is not the whole story, and while Bordeaux seems to be the apple of Asia’s eye, the top California wines seem to mostly stay in the state.
Lately, I have seen Peter Michael, Aubert, Morlet and many tiny boutique Cabernet makers blow through their new releases in days, sometimes hours! That said, it is the $20-60 a bottle wines that seems to be the hardest hit in the market place, some of that is because of higher production, but it seems to me that is has more to do with a tight economy for the lower middle-class wine buyer.
I could care less for the under $10 a bottle segment, as those as products that for the most part are factory made wines that are marketed and made to a different formula, they are less wine than soda pop or energy drinks in that they have slick packages and no soul or terroir at all. There are some exceptions of course, but brands like Yellow Tail and Turning Leaf, plus thousands of others, while successful, are not much more than flavored drinks that in most cases taste almost as sweet as Pepsi. If you want a good value that tastes like wine in that price range stick to Spain, parts of Southern France and Italy, especial as the Euro has fallen in exchange rate against the US dollar.
winetrain.jpgNapa is trying to refocus and lift its reputation, after a decade of greed and snobbery things look to be coming down to earth again, and it is nice to have access to the winemakers and to be able to taste some of these highly rated and highly priced wines, some of which I had been told on more than one occasion that “We never pour our wines, all s sold to our mailing list…” Well, that has all changed, and it is all for the better, we need less arrogance and more teamwork if we are going to rebuild the wine business for the next generation and beyond. While there is again some frenzied buying at the top end, there is still much to do to make a real recovery last. The first steps look promising so stay tuned.

Grapelive Latest: May 25

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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honigcab.jpg2007 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.
This wine would have to be one of the all time underrated Cabs in Napa, but great for the wine lover that has a budget! 2007 is a super vintage and Honig didn’t mess it up, as this Cabernet is lush and deeply flavored with chocolate like thickness and good complexity. I think it will only get better with a few years of age, but it still is a good find right now. The nose is full of nice mocha and toasty sweet oak notes, and the mouth is rich with red fruits and medium weight texture. The palate is refined and balanced with plum, currant and black cherry layers, hints of mineral, pencil lead and creamy vanilla all coming together nicely. If you want a good value from a great vintage, this would be a good choice.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: May 24

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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morgan.jpg2009 Morgan Pinot Gris “Ray Franscioni Vineyard” Monterey County.
This wine is a winner, and at the price even better still, Italy makes some great Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) and will always, but if you want a really good California white under $20, then you should try this one. The palate is full of green apple and citrus with hints of mineral spice and tropical fruits, with nice zesty acidity that keeps the fruit in check and make this wine a great summer quaffer! It may seem simple, but really you are not going to find a much better Pinot Gris out there, especially at this price. This wine is a favorite in Monterey bistro scene and it goes lovely with food and I hope to enjoy some this summer with picnics.
($16-18 Est.) 89-90 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: May 22

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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honig-sauvignon.jpg2009 Honig Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley.
Honig has long been making some of the nicest wines for the money in Napa, and this vintage of Sauvignon Blanc is even better than I can remember and I must say this vintage rocks for Sauvignon Blanc. There is everything you’d want, full vibrant flavors and crisp freshness all the way through, nothing out of place here and the finish is near perfect for sipping away an afternoon or enjoying seafood with. The nose is citrus infused goodness and the palate jumps with life and tangy fruits, grapefruit, lemon/lime and melon all adding to the whole. There is none of the usual herbal/grassy flavors that can show up in Napa Sauvignon Blancs, much to my joy, and that zingy acidity is great on the finish giving a clean burst that refreshes the palate.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: May 19

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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morgan07r.jpg2007 Morgan Pinot Noir “Rosella’s Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands.
Gary Franscioni’s personal vineyard continues to impress, and Morgan nailed it with this vintage, in fact this might be the best Morgan Pinot to date, and I found it better than the more hyped “Garys’ Vineyard” partner by a long ways, so when this wine shows up be sure to get a few, and like the other single vineyard Morgan Pinots there is a chance you’ll see it on sale for around $40 and again, don’t miss out if you can get it at that price! The nose is deep and rich with perfume and toasty oak, with a lush and full palate of black cherry, blueberry, plum and red berry fruits with a silky texture and intensity of layers. The finish is near perfect with creamy mocha, vanilla, smoke and lingering fruit. This wine will not disappoint, and I am thrilled to have tasted it and hope to see a few more bottles come my way!
($64 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: May 15

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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starry05.gif2005 Starry Night Syrah Russian River Valley.
This wine has a Black/Purple with a garnet hue, this is a dark and opaque Syrah that looks deep and rich, is very intriguing. The bouquet is a great mix of everything you love about Syrah, flowers, spice, liqueur, chocolate, game and a sweet grapey essence that bursts from the glass when poured. The mouth is full and giving with rich fruit, and velvety tannins that have matured with the couple of years in bottle. Everything is in place and the palate is complete with thick fruit, lush body and textures. The flavors jump and coat the palate with blueberry, blackberry, plum and crème de cassis all exploding in a cascade of layers with hints of mocha, pepper, cherry pie and warm toasty oak vanilla.The finish here on this Syrah is all about length and complexity, every flavor comes back at different times on the finish, every detail comes alive and finally when the story ends the fruit stays along with a touch of dark chocolate. This is a modern and clean Syrah that delivers great depth and flavors a better because it has that extra time in bottle, making give everything now, this wine is ready and willing to please. Big bold yes, but with lots of delicate notes and focus, this is a yummy wine that your friends will go crazy for. ($28 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Latest: May 10

Grapelive Daily Pick

By Kerry Winslow

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kasauri115.jpg2008 Kasuari Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast “Clone 115”.
This single clone wine shows unique qualities from the 115 clone, also known as Pommard clone, from the region of Burgundy it was developed before being rooted in California, Oregon and other Pinot regions around the world. This wine is amazingly detailed and finely tuned all ready, it has a wonderful aromatic nose with wildflowers, rose petals and hints of violets along with some blueberry and polished smoky sweet wood notes. If that wasn’t enough, things get better on the palate where the fruit is richly developed and layered, showing black and red fruits, cherry and plum leading the way with flashes of lavender, spice, smoke, mineral and vanilla oil. Everything is round and smoothly delivered in classic Burgundian fashion, but with a more clean and forward style the North Coast of California seems to often produce. I must say, this is very impressive Pinot Noir and remarkable even more by being so good at a very fair price point, I have seen recently many more Pinots at twice this price, that don’t deliver this kind of quality or pleasure.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

*The Winery Notes:

“In the winery natural winemaking practices are used in a quest to make artistic, handcrafted wines that reflect our passion to provide the most enjoyable wine drinking experience. Each wine is hand crafted with naturally occurring yeast handling the fermentations. We gently destem all fruit and often put whole clusters in the fermenter! Never fined or filtered these wines represent the vineyard and terrior as it should be at its very best!

Kasuari Wines

www.kasuariwine.com

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Grapelive Latest: May 6

Grapelive News: Kasuari Wines a New Discovery

By Kerry Winslow

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kwglimage70.jpgKasuari Wines

I just discovered a fantastic new source for great Pinot Noir, a small high quality label called Kasuari, made by Michael Peters. Peters is related to the family that owns Peters Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, the same vineyard that got everybody talking about Papapietro-Perry a few years back, and Michael get some great grapes from his family to work with. He also does a few wines from grapes in the Dry Creek Valley as well; a Sauvignon Blanc, a Zinfandel and a Cabernet Sauvignon, of which the Zinfandel was by far the best, but it was his Pinots that got my attention, and I am sure would certainly entertain any Pinot Noir lover as well. Kasuari’s Pinots one from the mentioned Peters Vineyard and one a Sonoma Coast cuvee (from a single clone 115) are deep and complex Pinot Noirs that have wonderful layers of silky fruit and distinct site (terroir) characteristics. Both wines were polished, well made and a total joy to drink, showing all the great qualities of the grape and the region(s) where they are grown.

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kasauri115.jpg2008 Kasuari Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast “Clone 115”.
This single clone wine shows unique qualities from the 115 clone, also known as Pommard clone, from the region of Burgundy it was developed before being rooted in California, Oregon and other Pinot regions around the world. This wine is amazingly detailed and finely tuned all ready, it has a wonderful aromatic nose with wildflowers, rose petals and hints of violets along with some blueberry and polished smoky sweet wood notes. If that wasn’t enough, things get better on the palate where the fruit is richly developed and layered, showing black and red fruits, cherry and plum leading the way with flashes of lavender, spice, smoke, mineral and vanilla oil. Everything is round and smoothly delivered in classic Burgundian fashion, but with a more clean and forward style the North Coast of California seems to often produce. I must say, this is very impressive Pinot Noir and remarkable even more by being so good at a very fair price point, I have seen recently many more Pinots at twice this price, that don’t deliver this kind of quality or pleasure.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

*The Winery Notes:

“In the winery natural winemaking practices are used in a quest to make artistic, handcrafted wines that reflect our passion to provide the most enjoyable wine drinking experience. Each wine is hand crafted with naturally occurring yeast handling the fermentations. We gently destem all fruit and often put whole clusters in the fermenter! Never fined or filtered these wines represent the vineyard and terrior as it should be at its very best!

Kasuari Wines

www.kasuariwine.com

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kasauripeters08.jpg2008 Kasuari Pinot Noir “Peters Vineyard” Russian River Valley.
This wine is more vibrant and intense than the other Pinot from Kasuari, it shows a slightly younger and more edgy side, but still proves to be a pretty and balanced wine. I mention that, because if given a bit more bottle age this wine might just turn out to be even better than I all ready think, and it is very, very good if not great all ready! The nose is more dark and earthy, though still perfumed and intriguing with heady floral notes and forest berries. The palate has a huge cherry core and classic Russian River character, but it also is layered with ripe silky flavors that at this point seem more complex than their other Pinot, but also with a bit more tannin and acidity that hold it together and give near perfect balance. As I said, given time I think this beauty will fill out even more and show more depth and an even longer finish, making it worth every penny. The mouth-feel is wonderful and the oak fits perfectly with the rich fruit and texture, and it shows hints of dried flowers, mineral spice and cola bean behind the black cherry and wild berry fruits. The creamy oak gives a lingering finish framed by vanilla, mocha and toasty char smoke. Every detail seems to fit perfectly and while I love it now, I am excited to see what a few years in the cellar will bring.
($49 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Kasuari Wines

www.kasuariwine.com

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