Grapelive Tasting Report

A Quick Look at Loire Valley Wines

By Kerry Winslow

Domaines Huet & Joguet

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2005 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec “Clos du Bourg” Loire Valley, White.
This earthy and sweet Vouvray has vigor and life, though the veggie nose is a slight off putting, but the wine recovers on the palate with depth and a long finish. There is pear, quince, wet stones and peachy fruit. Hints of truffle, ginger and figs add to the whole on this demi-sec that still might need a few years to show its best. I’m hoping the nose develops more and that the acid continues to ease. It might just be a certain vintage thing regarding the nose, because I have not found the slightly unpleasant aromatics in other vintages of this wine, in fact I loved the 2007 and the current 2009 versions of the “Clos du Bourg” Demi-Sec, even though it should change given time. Since I don’t have huge experience with Huet, I have relied on a few collectors that echo my own thoughts on this one, but I will admit I’m not a 100% sure on this one and hope to revisit it in a few years to see what happens. I just might be being to fussy and I will say most people that tried it during a recent tasting didn’t catch the veggie nose as much and seemed to really enjoy this wine very much. So, I guess it is a personal taste, I might pass on this wine for myself, but I am glad to have had a chance to sample it, no question.
($44.95 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive


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2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “Le Haut Lieu” Loire Valley, White.
This Vouvray is vibrant and fresh with citrus, bright and bouncy, melon, green apple and a core of tangy peach. Hints of chalk, lime and mineral really bring this pretty wine together, along with the racy acidity that keeps it all focused. This wine is very light and refreshing, though it should gain with another year on the bottle. Still, it is a very clean and nice Vouvray to drink now. Domaine Huet makes some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the world that can age beautifully, though this one can be enjoyed right now, so be sure to give Vouvray a try if you haven’t done so, as it is often overlooked and truly can be a remarkable wine when done right. Huet makes terroir driven wines of impressive character, showing the grape in its best light. Sadly, for me, I’ve only be able to try Huet Chenins in the last year, and now I know I’ve been missing out for many years!
($29.95 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

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2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “Clos du Bourg” Loire Valley, White.
This is near perfect Vouvray, young and fresh, but with wonderful richness starting to develop all ready. This wine has got nose, live and depth to spare with lovely flavors throughout. The nose is floral and mineral too, with orange blossom, lime and jasmine, while a cool mineral note gives a steely edge. There is a full array of white peach, apple, lemon/lime and pear fruit layers with tangy acidity that hides the depth and body still. If you want the soul or essence of Vouvray, than this is a wine to find, drink of few now and hold a few for a few more years, I’m sure you’ll be very impressed.
($34.95 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive


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2007 Domaine Joguet Chinon “Clos du Chene Vert” Loire Valley, Red.
This wound up red has old world earthy funk and animal tones, but still hints at a pretty future with a background of violets and cassis. The first impression is important, though it doesn’t always tell the whole story, and I almost skipped the later chapters as I’m not a huge fan of the stinky funk that dominates the nose and palate. That said, not unlike older Beaucastel Chateauneufs, the funk does go away leaving a pretty and rewarding wine. Barnyard notes, mushrooms, green bell peppers lead, followed by dried flowers, violets, cassis, black cherry and mineral notes. Give lots more time.
($42.95 Est.) 87-89 Points, grapelive


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2007 Domaine Joguet Chinon “Clos de la Dioterie” Loire Valley, Red.
This is almost a reverse on the “Clos du Chene Vert” and is much more elegant, fruit driven and beautiful is style, more the Cinderella to the step sister. While remaining true to its terroir with earth and bell pepper, it is far more eye catching, or palate catching I should say, with heady perfume of wild flowers, lilac and violet come to mind with currant and liqueur notes. The mouth feels full, but there is vibrant and tangy acidity too, making for an exciting and balanced Cabernet Franc. Look for many more years of pleasure with this beauty. Raspberry, cherry mint, truffle, graphite and cedar all play a part in this Chinon.
($44.95 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

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2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Demi-Sec “Le Haut Lieu” Loire Valley, White.
This lightly sweet Vouvray is drinking great now with lots of sexy peach, lemon/lime and chalky pear fruit that feels alive and fresh, not heavy or overdone. The “Le  Haut Lieu” has a rocky mineral streak that tastes like crushed seashells in the background like a fine Chablis, but never drifts far from pure Chenin Blanc character with peach and light citrus. I got to believe this wine has about 5-10 years of glorious drinking ahead, though many purists might want to give it much more cellar time! I have heard more than a few stories about the glories of the 1947 Huet Demi! I have had a 1990 Vouvray Demi and marveled at the depth and joy of it, so who knows, it might be fun to hide a few bottles away.
($37.95 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


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These wines are available at San Francisco Wine Trading Company- www.sfwtc.com

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Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2007 Raina Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, Rosso, Umbria, Italy.
Sangrantino, brought to Umbria and the little village of Montefalco in the 15th Century by friars and monks of the Franciscan order after a pilgrimage to Asia Minor, is thought to be one of the worlds most tannic grapes and has the highest level of Polyphenols of any red grape. In fact, we hope it s good for your heart, it was at first only used to make sweet wine (Passito) as it was too tough to tame for the the early winemakers! But after a few hundred years Sagrantino has made a name for itself as a powerful full bodied dry red wine and was granted a DOCG in 1992. The Raina Sagrantino is big wine and shows the grape off as it should, but delivers the tannins in a balanced and smooth fashion which holds the fruit in a firm, but elegant structure much like a fine Bordeaux. The palate is dense with red raspberry, plum, dark cherry, currant and blueberry layers with hints of mineral, fennel, dried flowers and cedar notes.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($54.95)

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Grapelive Tasting Report: Cru Beaujolais

Keeping Up With Beaujolais!

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Dupeuble, Beaujolais, Gamay.
Smooth and silky Gamay with bright and lush flavors, the Dupeuble, has more than expected depth and richness, making for a rewarding wine. 2009 has done wonders for Beaujolais and brought world attention to this underrated region and to the Gamay grape itself. This vintage shows strawberry, black currants and pecan shells with a plummy body and fine tannins. Even the most jaded of wine enthusiast is thrilled by these wines from Beaujolais and most f the Crus are selling out as fast as they come in! ($14.95 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive


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2009 Coquelet, Chiroubles Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.

This ripe and intense Cru is raw and shockingly gripping with dark fruit and impressive structure. Tightly knit and firm, you might even want to lay this one down for a year, but it does open up after a few minutes in the glass, and who wants to wait for a Beaujolais anyway! Not your grandmas Beaujolais that is for sure, but one to be taken seriously and at its best with food.

($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive


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2008 Chignard, Fleurie, Moriers, Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
A much more classic Gamay, and one that shows the lighter side of the grape and region, making for a good contrast to the richer and more interesting 2009’s. Not that there is anything wrong or bad here at all, and in fact this wine is very lovely and soft, perfect for holiday turkey and party drinking. The palate is delicate with strawberry and cran-apple flavors mixed with touches of brown sugar, red citrus and hay.
($26.95) 86 Points, grapelive



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2009 Colette, Regnie Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
Domaine de Colette is located in the small village of Lantignié, the top village within the “cru” of Régnié. The soils at Colette are worked organically in an effort to promote healthy and vigorous root systems and yields are kept low in an effort to produce concentrated wines. This is without a doubt the finest effort to date from this tiny family-owned estate. Lively and full of body this wine rocks and is a stunning value for the quality and richness found here, the nee is deep and floral toned with a juicy palate of dark fruits, plum, cherry, strawberry lead the way with touches of baking spices and pie crust. ($13 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive


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2009 Piron, Chenas “Quartz”Cru Beaujolais, Gamay.
This wine is not shy or in anyway close to typical of Gamay, in fact it tastes like young Nuits-St.-Georges with earthy intensity and powerful and mineral laced tannins. If you want a stoney and strong Gamay, this is your wine, as it takes a good long time for it to open up. While this wine has depth and power, it is not very giving and more old world in style with more acidity and chunky mineral notes than lush fruit at this stage, though it should develop nicely into a more Premier Cru Burgundy like wine over the next year or so in bottle. The palate has tangy cherry, cranberry, strawberry and sour plum with a steely grip of stoney mineral and earthy spices. ($21.95 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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Still available at pre-sale pricing at www.sfwtc.com

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Grapelive Weekend Review

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape “La Crau” Rhone Red, France.
While everyone is collecting and cellaring the massive and powerful 2007 Chateauneuf, out comes the less favored 2008 vintage, and I understand people gathering the last of the 07’s, it will be a shame if people dismiss these 2008’s. I would recommend trying them and drinking them as your 2007 age away in your cellar. The 2008 Vieux Telegraphe is a wonderful wine and very pure and focused showing beautiful dark fruit with smooth tannins and classic earth and spice, though it is very clean overall with elegant balance. The nose is a fresh wildflowers, mineral spice, hints of meat and lavender leading to a palate of black cherry, plum, wild strawberry, boysenberry and blueberry with touches of game, pepper, cassis, crushed stones and sweet truffle. This is a drink young vintage and while less edgy and intense than is the norm for V.T. I truly adore this wine and think there is more to come too, even if I enjoy it and suggest drinking young, it should fill out and gain with another few years in the bottle. ($70 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

Still available at pre-sale pricing at www.sfwtc.com

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Beaujolais Nouveau

by Kerry Winslow

2010 Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau.

Last year this wine blew me away, I mean a Nouveau that rocked, and while this new wine is not quite the 2009, it is really darn good and a lovely way to celebrate the year and this years harvest! The nose is floral and the wine is lush and lively with bright and tangy flavors. The palate is racy with strawberry and currants with nice acidity and round texture. Time to enjoy and toast the vintage!

($16.95 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Lapierre Morgon Cru Beaujolais, France. (Natural Cuvee, Kermit Lynch)
Marcel Lapierre passed away recently and the world marked his passing with many a praise and story about his life and how his remarkable wines touched so many people. Without question he helped the world see the region of Beaujolais as a very serious wine region and his art and passion lives on in his family and his wines. As a more recent devotee and admirer I can only add that from what I’m had in the last three or four vintages from Lapierre, nothing has been short of excellent and I continue to buy them for myself, and because of Lapierre and Foillard I’ve become a Morgon fanatic. Like the rest of the world I’ve waited for this release with great expectations, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the 2009 vintage has been hailed as the year of Cru Beaujolais, maybe even more so than Bordeaux! Well, okay, more collectors will sink obscene amounts of money into ’09 Bordeaux than Beaujolais, but us wine drinkers will be stocking up on Morgon, Brouilly and other Beaujolais, that much is true! Real taste versus the hype, the verdict is in, and yup it is the real deal, 2009 Cru Beaujolais are rocking good and amazingly exotic with stunning fruit and are pure enjoyment. This Lapierre Morgon, which was a special cuvee with extra barrel age and without extra sulfur is wildly ripe and expressive with violets, wild flowers, blueberry, plum and cassis that explode on the palate. Lingering spice, strawberry and a hint of dried hay balance the fruit and add to the interest, the long finish is both sweet and savory with cherry, green pepper and brown sugar all subtlety coming through behind the vibrant dark fruits. Grab this wine, enjoy it young and be glad you did.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, Grapelive

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Gambero Rosso Gala

Gambero Rosso’s “Gala del Vino Campano” event in Naples.
By Brandy Falconer, Grapelive Guest Columnist
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Halloween in my eyes is pumpkins and costumes and candy, and although Italy is a little behind the times when it comes to this creative and fun celebration, this past week I was happy to see Naples come alive with overgrown fuzzy spiders and kids in costumes and spooky window displays.  I got much more than I bargained for when I extended my recent stay in Naples, because I was able to participate in what I consider a delightfully Italian spin on Halloween:  trick-or-treating with a wine glass!
On October 31, Gambero Rosso, producer of Italy’s most renowned wine and food guide “Vini d’Italia”, held a tasting event in Naples celebrating the Southern Italian region’s top-awarded wines and wineries.  The event location, Citta’ del Gusto Napoli, is a purpose-built food and wine event center complete with a test kitchen/professional tasting room, two-level expo area and beautiful outdoor seating area.  Home to monthly wine seminars, tastings and cooking classes, this location signifies a great shift in locals’ interest in wine as a part of their culture and cuisine, a delicious adventure we Californians have enjoyed for years. The event itself was a way for the wineries to showcase their award-winning wines for journalists and enthusiasts alike, and for the participants to discover the region’s treasures and compare them side-by-side in one evening.

Of the 1,019 entries from 200 wineries submitted from Campania’s five areas, Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Napoli and Salerno, 53 were chosen for the final tasting, and 43 received either the top award, the “tre bicchieri” or 3-glasses, or the “due bicchieri colorati” or two-colored-glasses.  Gambero Rosso is proud to highlight the wines from Campania because, as Daniele Cernilli, Director and co-Founder of Gambero Rosso believes, the region is one of the few dedicated to producing quality wines from ancient indigenous grapes, the major percentage of wineries producing 100% varietal wines without blending, even the 15% that is allowed by law.  In addition to the 24 stands showcasing the wines, seminars held during the event in the beautiful tasting room highlighted different groupings of the wines like “top wines under 15 euros” and “the Veterans, classics of excellence.”
Upon entering the event, my friend Kim and I were handed a press kit and a little fabric bag with a long strap.  Our candy sack?  No, the ingenious item invented to hold a wine glass around your neck, leaving your hands free for writing or grabbing delicious bites of taralli or mini fried ricotta pizzas between visits to the tasting stands.  Is there a better adult version of trick-or-treating?  Heck, we can buy candy any time we want, but going from stand to stand where eager sommeliers in full costume (ok, uniform) were offering exceedingly generous pours of the region’s top wines was a great treat!  The only trick was remembering to spit out the wine or at least pour out the remainder after the first sip.  Now, when it comes to Halloween, I am normally the first to decree costumes a must, but there was no need this year because what’s creepier than glossy eyes and a smile full of purple-stained teeth?!
We started our tasting with the whites and simply went stand to stand, which allowed us to really get a feel for the expression of the grapes from the 5 areas of the region, then doubled back for the reds, which were mainly Taurasis.  Among the featured wines, 19 of which were Tre Bicchieri award winners, the classic Campania grape varietals were on show: Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Falanghina, Aglianico, represented by the Taurasis, and Piedirosso.  Various awards were being announced throughout the evening, including one for sustainability, going to Contrade di Taurasi, and the Grand Mention going to a delicious Taurasi Principe Lagonessa DOCG 2006 by Amarano in Avellino.  Top honors went to Mastroberardino’s Taurasi Radici Riserva 2004, which in today’s news was just declared the top wine in Italy by the foremost guides.  An excellent example of comments by Vini d’Italia’s Gianni Fabrizio who has said that in recent years the benchmark of Italian wines has been placed farther south; first in Sicily and now in Campania, where wineries who have seen a slower growth process have in fact matured with a solid base of winemaking, gaining notoriety not “at once” as their counterparts to the north, but notably “at last.”
One thing about this event and about Naples in general was the expression of personalities, not only of the wines, but of the people who make and represent them.  This was an awards party, more for celebrating, rather than promoting, and the relaxed atmosphere added to the fun.  Notable whites for me were the San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi Bianco Pereva 2009 with its freshness and balanced flavors, perfect for seafood.  While the wine’s finish was adequate, the winemaker’s was rather lingering, as he recounted at length Jessica Biel’s recent excursion to the vineyard…  Another favorite white was the I Favati Greco di Tufo Terrantica Etichetta Bianca 2009 which expressed the typical complex, subtle honey and vanilla flavors which come from the grape, rather than from oak barrels.  This sharp contrast with American winemaking, white wines aged only in stainless, is something I love.
My favorite reds were the Taurasi Riserva 2005 by Contrade di Taurasi, wonderfully balanced between body and flavor and, with great enthusiasm, the Taurasi Radici Riserva 2004 from Mastroberardino-silky smooth, yet complex and elegant.  The only thing better than tasting this wine was sipping a glass at the end of the event with Mastroberardino’s winemaker, Massimo di Renzo and agronomo, Antonio Dente, who, along with Dario Pennino, Director of Sales, make up the team that produces these incredible wines.  As a group they are a great example of the concept of family, whether by blood or by choice, as being a strong and lasting foundation for success.
Like a great wine, the Gala’ del Vino Campano event had all the characteristics of excellence: personality, elegance, expression of the local area and the ability to bring people together to enjoy each-other’s company.  Next time you’re looking for a new wine, don’t be shy about picking up a guide from another country, like Vini d’Italia.  Having a look at how another country sees itself and rates its own wines will give you more of an insight into what’s in the bottle.  Salute!

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Grapelive Wine of the Week

By Kerry Winslow

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N.V. Marc Hebrart Brut Rose Champagne.
There is nothing to think about here, it is near perfect and delivers pleasure and balance, this Champagne house just has nailed it with all their offerings, all offer greatness for a fair price. The Hebrart Rose is another stunning value and a grand luxury in flavor and class, don’t miss out on this one if you see it. The nose has a yeast and toast note with some light strawberry essence in the background before a palate of cherry, golden fig and bread dough with a zesty finish. This Brut Rose Champagne is what all want to be, but few are, sexy, stylish and refined with great and modest manners, a perfect partner to show off to family and friends! Jean-Paul Hebrart is fast becoming one of my heros, bravo, for an excellent sparkler that dazzles.
($55 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

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Congrats to SF Giants-World Champs!

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N.V. Marc Hebrart “Selection” Premier Cru Brut Champagne.
Jean-Paul Hebrart’s Champagne are turning heads and are now hotly sought after, he looks like the next superstar of the region, even though they have been a top quality house since the early Eighties. Hebrart has more than sixty small plots of amazing sites in Premier Cru and Grand Cru areas, with mostly Pinot Noir, but with top Grand Cru Chadonnay parcels as well. All this and super hand-crafted winemaking add up to amazing quality and very interesting wines, this is a thinking man’s Champagne estate and Jean-Paul Hebrart is an artist at his trade. The “Selection” Brut is rich and stylish with toast, hazelnut, orange blossom, white currant, lemon and fig notes that are layered across the palate. This is a pure and savvy Champagne that is a celebration in its self.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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