2010 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
From his estate near Corralitos, Richard Alfaro handcrafts a great selection of wines, with his Pinots being some of the best, especially this wonderful bottling from his own vines. The 2010 is rich and expansive similar to Rochioli in styling with silky tannins and a long mouth-coating finish. This lavish Pinot Noir is about 13.5% alcohol, but with full ripeness and intensity making for a very showy wine in it’s young, and about 50% new French oak was used here giving quality additions in flavors with out being to much, everything in balance and folding together nicely. The nose has subtle floral tones with currant and berries along with hints of spice and mocha leading to a palate of candied cherry, plum and raspberry fruit, anise, lavender, pepper and toffee notes. Subtle cool climate acidity brightens the display without being forceful making it easy to enjoy this wine young, look for the fruit and oak to tone down with bottle age, drink now through 2018.
($35 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
N.V. Casa Coste Piane, Prosecco Frizzante Naturalmente, Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, Sparkling Wine, Italy.
This unique Italian bubbly is wild and remarkably elegant with Champagne like charm and all natural in character with a cloudy unfiltered look and a striking mineral chalkiness throughout, the Casa Coste Piane is wonderfully Italian from sip to soul. Finished in cork, much like a Moscato the Casa Coste Piane gives you no clue just how beautiful detailed and classy it will be in the glass and certainly in the mouth with expressive vibrant citrus and peach notes with doughy yeast, brioche and hazelnuts coming through in stylish fashion and the tiny tight bubbles are refined and focused leaving a creamy essence and the long finish is highlighted by lemon/lime and stony minerals that are cool and steely, this is a fun and magical sparkler.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($22.95)
2010 Maison Philippe Pacalet, Gevrey-Chambertin “Bel Air” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
This wine shows a youthful rush of flavors and has a striking wildness that seems alive and vibrant with electricity of the elements. The nose starts out like a cross between a Domaine de Montille Burgundy and a old vine Gamay, likely the native yeasts and low sulphur in this all natural wine showing through, plus the peppery stemmy spices, all of which highlight bright fruitiness and savory essences on the palate. Pacalet’s 2010 reds are bursting with unique character and charms, these are not traditional wines, these are radical re-thinks of what Burgundy can be, while they are lovely and sexy, they may not live up to everyone’s expectations, especially in this price class, though I am enthralled by them and we watch there evolution in bottle, things at this stage are impossible to predict, so these artisan expressions might be worth every penny. Regardless, these are noteworthy wines and throughly pleasing to the senses, with this 2010 Gevrey-Chambertin Bel-Air being my favorite with driving strawberry, cherry and plum fruits, red and black peppercorns, earthy loam and truffle, plus crunchy stony mineral notes with plenty of acidity, saline and silky tannins. Look for grand aromatics to develop with wilted roses and violets, though muted still at this point, along with cinnamon and soft oak shadings. This unfined or filtered cuvee has a light to medium hue, slightly clouded, but look for it to deepen with a bit of time in bottle, though I must say I really enjoyed this vivid and transparent Pinot from Pacalet and I don’t think it is a crime to pop the corks here young, but again beware it is not your average Burgundy by all means.
($120 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($114.95)
2011 Jean Marc Brocard, Chablis Vau de Vey Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
Jean Marc Brocard’s wines are filled with intensity and class, pure expressions of terroir and personality, humble and elegant. It was a great pleasure to meet the man and taste the wines recently, his clear vision and the focus of the Chablis he crafts are near perfection and his wines are a great value for the quality on offer, especially the Premier Cru Vau de Vey, even in the less regarded vintage of 2011 this is a wine of stylish charm and interest with dimension and vigor. While 2011 doesn’t have the spine of the 2010 it still delivers good acidity and fresh detail and the added concentration is never heavy or out of place here in this lovely wine. The Vau de Vey could easily pass for a Chassagne in this year, but still uniquely Chablis like with lime flowers, steely mineral and zesty green apple and lemon fruits leading the way. The palate has refined roundness and expands in the mouth with hints of peach, chalk and saline notes adding to the aforementioned fruits. Finishing crisp with hints of hazelnut, key lime and river stones, this is a classy organic, woodless Chablis for near term enjoyment.
($36 Est.) 92-93 Points, grapelive
2011 Foradori, Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Italy.
This long skin contact Amphora aged white from Elisabetta Foradori is a wonderful and unique white from the Dolomites. The grape skin contact gives a deeper yellow hue and a savory edge to this beautifully crafted wine and a deeper dimension of flavors that include tangy peach, nectarine, dried pear and loads of lemon/lime with orange rind and sweet herbs while a dusty mineral essence and a mouthwatering saline element is ever present. The slightly cloudy appearance and chalky palate feel only add to the intrigue and excitement in this wild and natural wine made from the rare Manzoni Bianco grape found in these mountains near Trentino and Foradori masters, grown in the ancient pergola training system. This wine, while not an aggressive “Orange” wine is very different and totally unique in style, but very delicious and detailed making it a great food wine, especially with fish and cheeses, though cured and smoked meats would suit this wine nicely as well.
($36 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2009 Cobb, Pinot Noir “Diane Cobb: Coastlands Vineyard” Sonoma Coast.
One of the best ever Cobb Pinots to date, the 2009 Cobb Diane Cobb: Coastlands is utterly gorgeous with clear transparency and purity showing every detail in refined beauty and elegance. This remarkable wine is captivating like a top Burgundy with subtle wood and lifting acidity highlighting Ross Cobb’s talents and deft touch when crafting his wines, he is indeed a perfectionist to the core, and this bottling is a special Coastlands cuvee dedicated to his late mom. The nose is full of dried flowers, violets and grilled fennel along with red currants, kirsch and baking spices leading to a silky palate, still young and firm, with raspberry, strawberry and pure black cherry with hints of poached plum, cinnamon and tea spices. A touch of lavender, a flash of vanilla and mineral essence adds to the interest here, this is a wine to ponder, a Pinot Noir that you’ll want to spend an evening with and watch it’s many facets come together and see it’s ever changing moods, truly fantastic wine.
($80 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
Saint Cosme’s Cotes du Rhone has become iconic, a symbol for quality in this class of wine and is highly sought after with an intense almost cult like following, and yes it is worth the hype, this is a great wine. Louis Barruol is making some of the finest wines in the region, especially his Gigondas, but I’ve always been an admirer of his well crafted basic reds and whites as well, and he also does amazing Syrah wines from Cote Rotie too. The 2012 Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Rouge (100% Syrah aged in vat) is lush and creamy with loads of dark fruit, vibrant purple color and a nice bit of spice to it. This Rhone red is easy going all ready and is meant to be drunk up young, so for it, it is super pleasing now and should go another few years no problem. The nose starts with cassis, anise and peppery spice with hints of animal and stony earth before a round and refined palate of boysenberry, framboise and ripe plum along with touches of black licorise, garrigue and blueberry. This stuff goes fast, and as easy and fun as it is, it is no wonder.
($15 Est.) 90-92 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($13.95)
2011 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling “Winkeler Jesuitengarten” Spatlese, Rheingau Germany.
This classic and almost rustic Riesling is open and delightful in it’s youth, and still has the stuff for long term aging with plenty of juicy fruit and sizzling acidity with a sweet edge that adds pure refreshment. The nose is honeyed and floral with hints of petrol, slate flinty spice, steely mineral and grapefruit leading to a balanced palate of green apple, apricot and peach in syrup flavors with touches of candied tropical fruits, dried mango and peppered pineapple. This tangy sweet Riesling is lovely and finishes with a touch of earth that adds complexity and charm, the 2011 vintage shows the talents of this winery and Spreitzer’s full lineup are all glorious.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling “Quarzit” Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
Kruger-Rumpf’s lovely Quarzit Trocken is a vibrant and vivid Riesling with tangy acidity and crisp dryness, but still has lush flavors and bursts from the glass with steely mineral and energy driven force. The nose shows white flowers, crushed stones and tangerine leading to a bracing palate of lime, white peach and appleskin along with grapefruit, mango and briny saline essence. There is a lot to love in this zesty Riesling that has massive charm and flexibility making a great friend to many styles of cuisine and fun almost anytime. The Nahe region is one of the great terroirs of the world and Georg Rumpf’s wines showcase it to perfection and offer a great value as well, be sure to try them at the earliest chance, you will be greatly rewarded.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2011 Montalbera, Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG “Laccento” Piedmonte, Italy.
The rare and beautiful Ruche grape produces one of the most perfumed red wines in the world, and the Montalbera is especially aromatic with layers of flowers and incense leading to a medium bodied palate of cherry, strawberry and bitter dark chocolate with hints of anise, pepper and candied fruits. The nose is like bathing in rose oil while rose petals shower you like the poster from American Beauty while a touch of mineral and truffle play in the background. This sexy wine shines in this vintage with heightened acidity that gives focus and detail to this joyous red that is one of Piedmonte’s rarest wines. Montalbera continues to make one of the finest examples of Ruche and this is the third vintage in a row to impress me with it’s delights and quality.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.sfwtc.com ($19.95)