2010 Vinatigo Tinto Tenerife, Ycoden Daute Isora, Canary Islands, Spain.
The Vinatigo is made from 100% Listan Negro a black grape found on the Canary Islands and it makes a spicy dry red wine that is dusty and chock full of mineral notes and is medium weighted. The 2010 vintage is smashingly good with Pinot Noir like silkiness and bright red fruits and red pepper spices plus sweet floral perfume. This wine is exotic and old world charming with a light elegance and beautiful layers of flavors that include cherry, violets, raspberry and wild strawberries along with fine dry tannins, baked earth and Asian spices. This is the best vintage by far in my limited experience with this producer, though I have enjoyed them in the past, and I highly recommend searching it out for a totally unique and wildly fun wine.
($20 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2010 Olivier Riviere “Gabacho” Rioja, Spanish Red.
This fresh and perfumed Rioja is made using organic grapes and the winemaker studied under Madame Bize at Domaine Leroy to learn about biodynamic wines and is now plying his trade in Rioja. The 2010 Gabacho has mostly Tempranillo, but some Graciano and Garnacha as well and they make all the difference here giving a stunning floral element and bright fruit. This wine is lovely and refined with raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruits leading the was with a touch of pepper, clove and grenadine adding interest. The finish is clear, lengthy and lingering with plum and subtle mineral. Certainly this is not a classic Rioja, but it is a wonderful wine that is transparent and pleasing in every way.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine Leccia “YL” Rouge Vin de Pays Corse, France (Corsican Red)
The YL is blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Niellucciu with vines an average age of 20-40 years, and tastes like a Cote-Rotie, very Syrah like, but with its own unique intensity and charm. Kermit Lynch has been championing Corsica for years, and while the wines have always been interesting and striking this latest set of reds are mind blowing and the “YL” is a world class wine that shows power, depth and remarkable finesse. Prior to the last few vintages, I had thought maybe the wines of Corsica had been a bit too pricey for the quality, but now I think they are more than fair, especially this 2010 Leccia “YL” with the perfume, balance and richness it shows. The nose has game, floral notes, garrique and spice leading to a lively palate of boysenberry, black plum, blueberry and currant fruits with fresh cracked pepper, fennel and violets. The background has a touch of meat, truffle and lavender with a mineral tone and vibrant acidity all of which balance the wine and adds complexity and life. The finish lingers on and on with a seducing effect with dried flowers, strawberry and a mouth coating roundness. This is a very impressive red that has a good chance of improving and evolving over the next two to five years.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Avail. at www.sfwtc.com & Kermit Lynch
2006 Jerome Chezeaux, Vosne-Romanee “Les Chaumes” Premier Cru, Red Burgundy, France.
Made from 100% de-stemed grapes and done in a more traditional style with little new wood this lovely and fruit filled Pinot is a Burgundy worth searching out. The nose starts with a slight reductive note, but soon opens with time in the glass and gains freshness, I would imagine it is the vintage more than anything, and the palate is vigorous and deep with round giving fruit, plum, cherry and bramble berry and complex mineral tones with hints of saline, game, truffle and red tea spices. Dried roses and violets emerge with lovely effect and linger on the rich finish. I adore this Vosne-Romanee, though I am sure 2008 and 2009 would be even better, but I was was left very impressed by this wine and since I had not tried Chezeaux in the past it was a new experience that proved very pleasing. I look forward to trying more of this Domaine’s fine Burgundy in the near future, and recommend everyone check them out, they are very fairly priced for the quality. The 2006 Les Chaumes indeed surpassed my expectations and I might be inclined to grab a few bottles and savor their delights near term. It is always fun to discover something new and the Jerome Chezeaux was a super find!
($75 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2009 Leviathan, Proprietary Red, California.
Andy Erickson, winemaker at Dalla Valle, Favia and formerly of Screaming Eagle and Staglin, has many credits to his name and is one one Napa’s top winemakers, making lush and structured wines are his specialty. Leviathan is one of his own projects focusing on a unique cuvee that includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the blend. This vintage of Leviathan is almost equal parts of each, though this is the first year that Syrah played the biggest role, and everything comes together perfectly, making for a seamless rich wine with loads of fruit, spice and beautiful toasty wood notes. The nose starts with blueberry, chocolate, tobacco leaf, fig cake and sweet char before a full bodied palate of boysenberry, currants, cherry and plum fruits with vanilla and baking spices along with hints of pepper, licorice and lavender. The thick body is creamy with ultra smooth tannins, but there is zest and life from fresh acidity which holds the focus and gives life and balance. This is pure hedonistic pleasure and one that shows Erickson’s talent for blending and his refined touch, don’t miss this lavish and fun wine.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Avail. at www.sfwtc.com ($47.95)
2010 Lucia Vineyards, Pinot Noir “Garys’ Vineyard” Santa Lucia Highlands (By Pisoni)
Jeff Pisoni is still a rising star and his wines are just getting better and better as he continues to refine his style and the Lucia wines are showing his evolution and the unique terroir in which they come. The latest Garys’ is remarkable for the power, focus and zesty acidity making for a wine of intense flavor, but with structure and purity. This is the reason Garys’ Vineyard is considered a Cru site and is in such high demand, it provides grapes of deep color and seductive richness and Pisoni has crafted a Pinot that captures it all. The nose is perfumed with violets and dark fruit essence with hints of smoke, earthy spices and vanilla which lead to a creamy smooth palate of blackberry, currants and a sweet core of cherry fruit while tangy acidity and a subtle cranberry note emerge with touch of cured meat and spiced plum. With air the wine takes on a beautiful roundness, but still has plenty of vigor with a nice crisp edge and never feels out of balance. This I must say it not a delicate wine, but one of class and intensity. I’m convinced it will gain with a few years in bottle and prove a worthy reward for those that get this wine, it is a pure expression of Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot.
($50-55 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive
*Due out April, 2012
2009 Domaine Alain Graillot, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France.
This pure Syrah is clear and defined with supple fruit and beautiful balance and depth. Graillot makes one of the finest Crozes out there that delivers great quality for a more than fair price, so while it is available grab a few bottles! This pretty wine starts with violets, garrique, game and boysenberry leads to a vibrant palate of the same plus kirsch, licorice, truffle and lots of blueberry with touches of savory currant, cherry and pepper spice. The fruit and spice lingers on the bright and fresh finish which highlights the acidity that gives this wine such life and makes me believe it has a good 10 years of drinking ahead. I have loved Graillot Syrah for many years and adored the 1999, 2005 and 2007, but I just might like this one best of all, it is worth searching out and putting a few away.
($35-40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Freeman, Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast.
Last year this wine was one of the best deals around, but I think this 2010 goes a step beyond and is far more pleasing and lovely, kudos to Ken and Akiko Freeman Freeman and Ed Kurtzman their winemaker/consultant for making a beautiful and vibrant Pinot is a difficult vintage. Kurtzman, who also makes Roar, August West and Sandler has again raised his game and found a sublime balance in this wine that shows bright fruit, sweet perfume and round silky richness. The nose shows rose petals and hints of violets with touches of smoke, vanilla and tangy red fruits leading to a palate of raspberry, black cherry and fresh plums, while tea spices and cranberry play in the background. The acidity is lifting and gives vigor and focus and the sweet toasty oak plays perfectly with the whole and everything comes together in seamless layers. Drink over the next 3 or 4 years, and be rewarded.
($44 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Release April 1, 2012
2007 Heitz Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon “Martha’s Vineyard” (Color Label) Napa Valley.
With the Color label (only used in the best of years), the 2007 Heitz Martha’s is telling you there is something special in the bottle, like the legends 1974, 1985 and 1997, and this is a true Napa Classic with it’s own hallmark characteristics and unique terroir. The nose starts with black currants, smoke, licorice and vanilla leading to that classic palate of minty chocolate, think dark coco and peppermint, boysenberry, blackberry, coconut, briar and cedar spice with creamy Limousin oak toast all wrapped in fine firm tannins. The finish lingers on and there is plenty of vibrant life is this top notch Cabernet Sauvignon. While the price is not easy on the wallet, this is a fantastic Martha’s and most likely be a huge collector’s hit, and from what I tasted could rival the best vintages of this wine.
($200+ Est.) 95-97 Points, grapelive
2009 Peay Vineyards, Syrah “Les Titans” Estate Sonoma Coast.
Nick and Andy Peay, along with winemaker Vanessa Wong have with out question produced, and better yet crafted a glorious Syrah that is truly world class and sublime with the layers and complexity of top Northern Rhone wines, yet has the richness of fruit worthy of Sine Qua Non or Alban, though much more elegant and lower in alcohol. Wong, who has Lafite and Peter Michael on her CV, is at the top of her game and her wines show finesse and depth that must be considered world class, with grapes grown in extreme conditions in the wild Sonoma Coast region that makes life very tricky indeed, but the rewards are amazing, not just this dynamic Syrah, but also her lovely Pinot Noirs, especially the Scallop Shelf and Ama. This is a winery to not only watch, but also one to collect now, as it still somehow is flying under the radar! The 2009 Peay “Les Titans” Syrah is darkly brooding and perfumed with violets, earthy spices, smoke and game leading to a vibrant palate of boysenberry, blueberry and plum with hints of cherry liqueur, cracked pepper and a meaty essence. Subtle wood and lifting acidity add to the charms and the finish goes on and on with touches of licorice and chalky mineral tones, that linger with the black fruits. This is a fantastic and beautiful Syrah that should develop nicely for another 3 or 4 years, don’t miss it.
($50 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive