Happy Halloween

Grapelive Scary “Good” Review

By Kerry Winslow

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N.V. Sean Thackrey “Pleiades” XXI, Old Vines, California.
This multi-vintage blend of red and white grapes includes Grenache, Barbera, Syrah, Sangiovese, Viognier and Marsanne and Pinot Nor, making for a wild and unique wine that I described on Twitter as like “Kissing Scarlett Johansson, drinking Gamay while smoking menthols” to a few laughs, but all joking aside this is a totally fun wine that is so tasty and so wrong in many ways. It is like drinking a David Lynch movie, but then Sean Thackrey does craft some crazy good wines, and the new edition of Pleiades is as good as it gets with a raw sex appeal and subtle charms with some weirdness to make things interesting. The nose is a mix of dried flowers, dried cherries and candied citrus peel before a palate that feels like a fine Cru Beajolais, but has a huge licorice and eucalyptus burst. Hints of earth, strawberry and tangy cherries add intrigue and the slightly lighter color makes you want more and more. This wine has a bit less grip than the last few, but drinks a lot more elegant and has much more balance. I go on and off Sean’s wines, but this is a really groovy wine and brings me back into the fold of his fans and makes me want more.
($26 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($23.95)

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Special Tasting: 1992 JL Chave Hermitage Rouge

By Kerry Winslow

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1992 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage, Rhone Red. (Syrah)
This was very special, I knew I was a very lucky to taste this wine, as it is not often you get a chance to try vintage Chave and while 1992 was not a great year, I enjoyed this rare chance to sample one of France’s great wines. Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage wines are legends, and recently I had read Neal Martin’s great article in the Wine Journal about older Chave and was left mouthwatering for just this chance, and I was not disappointed I can tell you, in fact even with all my expectations this 1992 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge proved remarkably seductive and beautiful with delicate details and plenty of live and energy. The nose was bright still, but with mature notes of dried roses, black tea and stewed plums leading to an earthy and fresh palate of cherry, mountain berries, mushroom, mineral, licorice, lavender and a meaty essence with a touch of smoke. The tannins were silky smooth and the finish was lengthy, though a touch crisp. Everything played well together and was in balance with subtle complexities and elegance not unlike a fine old Burgundy Grand Cru. Hermitage and Syrah can prove magically and this wine takes you there, it is a sublime expression of the terroir and the grape, a big thanks to Farm Wines for sharing this experience with me.
($N/A) 93+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Anthill Farms Syrah “Campbell Ranch Vineyard” Sonoma Coast.
Okay, so there is only tiny amounts made and hardly anyone has ever seen a bottle of any of Anthill Farms, but damn, this is a fantastic bottle of wine and a fine Syrah being offered at a unreal price to those that can find it. Anthill Farms is an underground cult producer best known for stunning Pinot Noir, but this 2009 vintage lineup of Syrahs are amazing, and the 2009 Anthill Farms Syrah “Campbell Ranch” Sonoma Coast is pure class and comes from a rugged cool climate that gives real Northern Rhone essence and total quality. Like the 2009 Peay Vineyards Syrah, this wine shows that California can produce a world beating Syrah that can compete with any Cote-Rotie or Hermitage at a fraction of the price. Anthill’s Sonoma Coast at $22 is a super steal too, but this wine is a huge leap up, and is still way under $30. The 2009 Campbell Ranch shows pepper, game, violets and blueberries up front with earthy and vibrant complexities that highlight true Syrah characteristics and allows a wine that can be enjoyed now or aged for many years to come. The palate shows boysenberry, lavender, truffle, kirsch and black currant notes with tangy blueberries re-emerging mid palate along with mineral tones. A touch of licorice and white pepper again add to the depth and savory notes to this fantastic Syrah. This is lovely and sexy red wine that goes great with lots of foods and will be a great addition to any cellar.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Jean-Marc Vincent Santenay “Gravieres” Premier Cru, Red Burgundy.
This stunningly seamless and pretty Santenay is one of the best finds on the vintage from the Cote de Beaune and truly marks the arrival of this Domaine, which is yet another Kermit Lynch treasure. With rose infused cherry fruit and subtle red earth and game this 2009 Jean;Marc Vincent Santenay “Gravieres is a class act throughout, this is the real deal for true Burgundy freaks, like me, and the price is more than fair for what you get in return. This Burgundy shows silky depths and lingers like a beautiful woman’s kiss stays with you, this is a Pinot to remember. Red fruits flow across the palate, raspberry, plum and bright cherry before mineral, truffle, soft wood and lavender emerge while tea spices and apple skin hint at the fine tannins and balanced acidity. Tasted three time, with nothing but Burgundy magic showing on each sip of this pure and joyful Santenay.
($50 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com ($47.95)

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2008 Riofavara Spaccaforno “Eloro” Sicilian Red, Italy.
This rich and lovely Nero D’ Avola is rocking right now and makes for a stunning red that showcases this Sicilian grape in all it’s glory. Riofavara, imported by Kermit Lynch, is a small family estate on the island and so far everything I’ve tried from them has been fantastic, these are terroir driven wines of great quality and texture. While Arianna Occhipinti brings huge attention to the region with her exotic and natural wines, Riofavara has quietly added some equally beautiful wines to the list of top Sicilian vino. This Nero shows layered finesse and earthy spicy complexities with bright and lush plum, blueberry and wild strawberry fruit, red pepper, silky tannins and hints of anise and lavender. Certainly, the pure pleasure of this wine will win new fans, both “Old World” and “New World” admirers alike, and the price is scary good, don’t miss this wine it is a gem. If you are looking for something different and want a focused and balanced wine, no question this Riofavara will do the trick.
($18 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2006 Vilmart & Cie. “Grand Cellier d’ Or” Premier Cru, Brut Champagne, Rilly-la-Montagne, France.
Thanks to Terry Theiese and Hiram Simon (Winewise/Vienna Wine Company) I have through the years had a chance to try these fantastic Champagnes from Laurent Champs and the Vilmart Champagne House, it is always a great highlight in my yearly tastings and this year was no exception with the whole lineup of Vilmart Champagnes showing amazing. Vilmart is a small grower/producer in the Champagne hamlet of Rilly-la-Motagne and they craft some of the most exotic and sublime wines in the region, and they are often compared to Krug because of the depth and complexity found it their cuveees and that they use oak barrels and have extended time on the lees. The artisan practices here make for wonderfully rich and deep Champagnes. Last year I completely lost my mind over the 2004 Rose that smelled like a field of violets and the famed Grand Cru of Burgundy “Musigny” and while that still ranks as an all time favorite bubbly, the new 2006 “Grand Cellier d’ Or” is a stellar Champagne of great detail and heavenly character. To be honest all the Vilmart Champagnes are utterly mind blowing, and it would hard to ever pick a favorite, and it might change day to day, if I was lucky enough to try them daily! The 2006 “Grand Cellier d’ Or” impresses with an intense nose of tropical fruits, brioche, mineral and citrus flowers before a nervy palate of bread dough, yeasty toast, green apples, lemon curd, banana peel and figs with smooth bubbles and vigorous acidity giving life and structure to this wonderful Champagne. While coming together nicely, it would be best in 3-5 years, so get some and be patient, oh yeah, the rewards with be worth the wait. Also, the 2005 is almost as good, may just be drinking better and I rated it 94, and still can be found, a bit less expensive too…
($102 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2007 Mario Marengo Barolo “Brunate” Piedmonte, Italy.
While this wine is tightly wound and firmly tannic, it still shines as a great example of the brilliance of these wines to be both extremely powerful and yet intriguingly elegant. This 2007 Marengo is a world class Barolo that is just staring to show itself and while it should be given a few more years in bottle to really come together it can be enjoyed now if decanted for a lengthly bit of time, more than a few hours if possible and with food. That said, I really enjoyed the intensity and tension that drives this wine and after some time in air it blossoms into a fantastic and detailed wine with all the classic terroir bursting from the glass. The nose has sweet herbs, licorice, tar, mushroom, smoke, mineral and round cherry fruit all of which dance on throughout, with the lively palate showing tangy plums, lavender, menthol, citrus rind and sweet wild strawberries. High levels of tannin and vibrant acidity give way over time to a round and elegant mouth feel and the finish is clear and lengthly. Look for this Barolo to really gain depth and fullness over the next year or so, and drink well for a decade at least, this wine merits some mid term investment, it is priced right and a few bottles in the cellars will reward the brave.
($60 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Available at www.sfwtc.com
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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Domaine Roulot Monthelie Red Burgundy, France.
I must admit I had never known or seen a Roulot red before this wine, and while Domaine Roulot is legendary for Meursault and is most often talked when being compared to Coche-Dury or Lafon, so I had to acquire a bottle to see if they could do with red what they do with white. Well, I do like Roulot whites, but WOW, this Monthelie is amazing, I could have easily miskaten this beauty for a Premier Cru Vosne-Romanee or Chambolle, in fact it almost has the stuff to be better than most! This is a lovely wine with perfume, grace, balance, charm and complexity, everything you want and desire in a fine Burgundy. My heart would even rate this Monthelie a few points higher, as a magic Burgundy has a way beguiling your emotions, and this Roulot certainly does. The nose starts out with earthly and smoky, mineral laced red fruits before violets and blueberries emerge creating a lovely complex perfume that leads to a sublime palate. Everything unfolds smoothly and with great pleasure flowing cherry, raspberry, plum and blueberry fruit layers that feel like pure silk in the mouth. The earthy notes that hint at game and truffle play perfectly off the toasty sweet oak, spicy accents and lifting acidity all of which frame the fruit and minerallity in remarkable fashion. Sadly, only a tiny amount of this wine exists and it will be extremely difficult to find, even so, I am grateful to Kermit Lynch for importing this stunner, I only hope I can grab a few more bottles!
($56 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

(A few bottle available at San Francisco Wine Trading Company 1-800-681-WINE)

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2010 Evening Land Vineyards Bourgogne Blanc (Chardonnay) France.
This year’s Bourgogne Blanc is in my opinion light years better and fresher than the prior vintage and much more interesting with bright flavors and cool mineral tones that ooze elegance and life. I would also say the wine doesn’t show the sulphur notes the 2009 did and the use of neutral wood allows the Chardonnay to shine more fully in the 2010 version giving an almost Chablis like charm, but with true Beaune depth. This is a darn good White Burgundy with citrus, green apple, pear and yellow peach layers, wet stones, golden fig and hints of tropical essences. The full malo gives body, but crisp and tangy acidity lifts this pretty Chardonnay and everything is balanced and as it should be. I guess now I’m a believer and I recommend this wine whole-heartedly!

Evening Land Vineyards and the talented Christophe Vial, the long time winemaker at Domaine des Comtes Lafon with the famed Dominique Lafon have crafted three little beauties that have just been released here in the States from the 2010 vintage. These Burgundies (Bourgogne Blanc, Rouge and Etoile-Pouilly-Fuisse) offer generous fruit, class and vibrancy while the price could hardly be more fair, making these wines stunning values. While the great talents and personalities of Evening Land Vineyards continue to impress the wine world with the likes of Dominque Lafon, Larry Stone, Raj Parr, Sashi Moorman and Isabelle Meunier, it is great to see the product get better with each year!
($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

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Grapelive Wine of the Day

By Kerry Winslow

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2009 Sheldon Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley.
This almost Loire inspired Cabernet is a throwback to the 70’s and early 80’s style California Cabs with modest alcohol, spice, crisp acid and tannin balance that take equal status with the fruit core. This easy to drink Cabernet is a wonderful food wine and shows a clean and refined palate with blackberry, cedar, peppery spices, sage, tobacco and subtle oak shadings. The nose hints at black olives, pepper, cherry fruit and mineral notes before a plummy mouth that feels vibrant and med weight throughout, though look for this wine to build in body as it ages. This wine continues to grow on me and it has grown into a beautiful Cabernet since I first tried it in barrel last year. If you enjoy old California cabs, Loire Cab Franc or a nice Claret then you will love this wine. The Sheldon’s were looking for a new and more refreshing Cabernet, and they nailed it with this subtle and elegant wine from a tiny vineyard in the Dry Creek that has a truly interesting terroir.
($TBD) 93+ Points, grapelive

www.sheldonwines.com

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