2008 Casanova di Neri, Tenuta Nuova, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Tuscany, Italy.
This Tenuta Nuova 2008 is a stunner, a blockbuster Brunello of class and quality, so forget the early reports on the 2008 vintage, because in the bottle these wines are showing amazing, even young the wines are beautifully detailed, rich and full of vivid fruit and have lengthy finishes, especially this fantastic Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova that is gorgeous from nose to finish. For those with the means should snap up this Brunello and put a few cases away, compared to Bordeaux, Burgundy and top Rhone wines this wine is a better investment and value, and being honest, it will drink better in short term as well. The nose is deep with complex aromas of dried flowers, herbs, mineral, red spices and earthy black fruits leading to a full palate of blackberry, cherry and plum fruits with hints of strawberry, licorice, sweet herbs, tobacco leaf and flinty mineral/stone with ripe and lush tannins, lifting acidity and very subtle cedary wood notes. This wine gains texture and width with air, though remains completely focused and has vitality throughout, and an earthy sexy side that is perfectly played in the whole of array of flavors. Casanova di Neri is certainly a class act and the winemaking is top notch, bravo, drink 2016-2022, though don’t be afraid to pop a few of these early, I know I would.
($100 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2010 Clefs des Legats, Cotes du Rhone, Union des Vignerons des Cotes du Rhone, France.
This wine, old vine Grenache primarily, is staggeringly delicious and one of the best values in wine I’ve come across in a few years, come on, it is only $8 at full retail, maybe $6.99 on special, you just can’t beat that. This little beauty also won a gold medal at the Orange Wine Fair (Chateauneuf-du-Pape) and it really does offer plenty of flair and density for a simple Cotes du Rhone. The nose is bright and floral with grenadine, kirsch and cracked pepper leading to a medium full mouth with strawberry, raspberry, boysenberry and plum fruits with hints of anise, garrigue, chalky mineral and stones. This wine has touches of earth, spice, herbs and saline with good soft tannins making it a nicely balance red, drink now and for the next year.
($8 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2010 Weinhaus Nelles 1479 N, Ruber Spatburgunder, Ahr Germany.
It is not a secret so much anymore that some of the finest Pinot in Europe is grown near the Ahr River in Germany, as well as certain areas along the Rhein and in the Pfatz, giving Burgundy a run for their money and surpassing in some cases, with producers like Meyer-Nakel that scored a coup when it won Decanter Magazine’s best Pinot Noir in the World Prize twice. So, exploring German Pinot (Spatburgunder) is highly recommended, my own experience has found some amazing wines like Meyer-Nakel, Becker and August Kesseler which can match and or rival Grand Cru Burgundy for class and depth, and while the Nelles here is not up there, it is a fine and pretty wine that deserves attention. The 2010 Nelles Ruber Spatburgunder is a detailed and silky Pinot with good fruit density and spicy mineral essences starting with wilted roses, smoky cherry, earth and vanilla pod leading to a lively palate of plum, black cherry and cranberry with flinty/slate minerals, crushed stones, saline, red peach, apple skin and creamy wood notes. This medium weight Pinot fills out in the mouth and lingers on the finish leaving lots of dusty red currant and strawberry. The subtle earthy tones add here but never take center stage and the crisp nature adds zip while the wine remains sooth throughout making for a very pleasing and giving wine, drink now through 2018, this is a very fine effort and a great entry into the world of German Pinot Noir.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($26.95)
2011 Catherine et Pierre Breton, Bourgueil “Nuits d’ Ivresse” Loire Valley, France.
Breton’s 2011 Nuits d’ Ivresse Bourgueil is a stunning and complex Cabernet Franc of the highest order and shows that biodynamic farming in the Loire is without question the best option and highlights the real quality of these terrors. This brilliant effort is a majestic wine of finesse, elegance and with depth of flavors starting with a nose of violets, red currants, forest floor, black fruits and a subtle varietal kick of green bell pepper leading to a juicy and flowing palate of cherry, blackberry, plum and huckleberry fruits with lively acidity, fine grained tannins and mineral notes, plus spicy elements and earthiness that melds in perfectly and with great harmony. This is a classy artisan wine from the talented Breton family and it drinks great already, with a good 3 to 5 years of sublime enjoyment in it’s future.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2010 Wolf Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon “Phaedrus” St. Helena, Napa Valley.
Karen Culler’s latest Wolf Phaedrus is a gem and even though there are tons of Napa Cabs under $50, not many are as delicious as this release from Wolf Family Vineyards. It is hard not to get bored of generic Napa Cabs, and while there are ultra fantastic wines, sadly they are all in the $75 plus price range, so it is exciting to find a quality one under $50 that shows unique character and density without over the top ripeness. 2010 seems to have helped out, giving fressness and life to many Napa wines in this vintage, with this Wolf Phaedrus showing great life and clarity. The nose is pure with black fruits, acacia, mocha and minty leading to a rich and full palate of currant, blackberry, plum and creme de cassis while hints of spice, cedar, vanilla and black licorice add to the complexity along with sweet tobacco and graphite notes. This wine has power, lift and fullness in the mouth, but the tannins remain refined throughout and the acidity really adds focus and keeps the fruit vivid, this is a fine and quality effort, a well crafted Napa Cab to look for, no question.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 Cibonne, Tentations Rose, Cotes de Provence, France.
Seriously fun Rose from Cibonne, the 2012 Cibonne Tentations Rose Cotes de Provence is briskly dry and mineral laced with loads of chalky notes and vibrant citrus fruit with hints of wild strawberry, watermelon and red peach as well. This wine is full of energy and tangy layers making it a great brunch companion and super picnic wine, it is lovely and vivid throughout with hints of sea breeze and saline making your mouth water and refreshingly crisp. It doesn’t get much better than this, and this lively vintage is near perfect for warm afternoon enjoyment, this is pure pleasure, sunshine in a bottle. Oh to be in the south of France… Don’t miss this great Rose if you see it, it is a very complete wine and delightful, drink over the next 6 months to a year.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
N.V. Bele Casel Asolo Prosecco DOCG Frizzante Colfondo, Italy.
Cel Casel is a small estate produced sparkling wine house in the greater Veneto region and this Natural style Prosecco is one of their prized handcrafted bubbly wines, Colfondo, done in a dry unfiltered way to give lots of mouthwatering saline and mineral character. These amazing Fizzante Naturale sparklers are starting to find their way here and are totally unique and terroir driven wines with brisk freshness, density and total fun nature, making them great anytime and super delicious with cuisine. The latest Bele Casel lineup is fantastic, especially this Colfondo Asolo with it’s lime, chalk and apple layers, great soft mousse and subtle yeasty side. This cork finished bottle is one to look for and offers a lot of value in this style of wine, be sure to search this or the Casa Coste Piane out for a great Prosecco and a dynamic expression of this Venetian classic.
($17 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Regis Bouvier, Marsannay Rose, Burgundy France.
This pretty and fresh rose of Pinot Noir is a nice Burgundy treat from Bouvier’s Marsannay grapes and makes for a lovely summer wine. Kermit Lynch’s value Burgundy house Regis Bouvier, crafts some fine examples of well made and easy to love wines, and while never great, they are very fun and honest wines, I especially like this delightful Marsannay rose with it’s crisp refreshing nature and pure Pinot fruit. The nose is bright with red citrus, watermelon, sour cherry and tart plum notes all coming through on the zesty and round palate. Super easy and pleasing, perfect for picnics, and warm afternoons. Hints of mineral and spice come through on the finish and jet begs you to take another sip. Drink now through the summer, I plan too, very nice.
($18 Est.) 88-90 Points, grapelive
2010 Sesti “Monteleccio” Castello di Argiano, Montalcino Rosso, Tuscany Italy.
This brilliant effort from Sesti is a big step up for this wine and highlights a wonderfully performing vintage for Rosso di Montalcino wines, these baby Brunelli wines are stunning and almost as good as any top Brunello wines to drink now. Being under the radar is giving customers a great chance to load up on some remarkable Sangiovese at really fair prices, especially pleasing is this 2010 Sesti Monteleccio with old world charms, good density and length. This wine is like smoking a fine Cuban cigar while eating chocolate covered cherries, with dried roses and minty herbs on the nose leads to a palate of earthy character with dusty raspberry, strawberry and dark plum fruit, truffle, blonde tobacco, licorice and coco powder all add to the complexity. The richness is lifted by freshness coming from focused acidity and light cedar spiced wood, this is a classy wine that is a stunning value and the best yet I’ve tasted from this lovely estate.
($25 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2010 Maison Philippe Pacalet, Meursalt “Charmes” Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
As exotic and unique as Pacalet’s red wines are, I was blown away by his stunning whites even more, especially his all natural Meursault Charmes Premier Cru, which is one of the most pure expressions of Chardonnay I can remember from Meursault in ages. This beauty has energy and vivid layers of flavors with striking mineral essences and amazing focus with wonderful extract density balanced by vigorous acidity in a smooth seamless wine. The nose is still a bit shy, but with coaxing it opens to reveal white flowers, river stones and clove spice leading to a gripping palate of lemon, green apple and white peach with hints of wet rocks, fennel and hazelnuts. The firm structure gives was to round mouth filling texture which feels creamy and hedonistic, without losing poise or life at anytime, this is wonderful Chardonnay and it should really come good with another 2 to 3 years in bottle, watch out, Philippe Pacalet could turn Burgundy on it’s ear, this is a label to follow for many years to come. It’s time to take “Natural Wines” seriously, especially Pacalet’s handcrafted artisan gems.
($149 Est.) 92-93 Points, grapelive