Wine of the Day June 30, 2013

2011BFVPNWV2011 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Beaux Freres Willamette Valley cuvee is always a savvy wine to get and to enjoy in it’s youth, but I must say with the difficulty of the 2011, I was not expecting such a rich and beautiful wine, this is a phenomenal effort and a real class act. Bravo to Mike Etzel and his team for crafting this wonderful and detailed Pinot Noir that lacks for nothing and highlights the best of it’s terroir and vintage. Tasting along side the famed Beaux Freres Estate, the Willamette Valley held it’s own and is by far the better wine to drink now and even though the Beaux Freres Vineyard is very lovely, I really do, in this year, adore the Willamette cuvee a tad bit more. Beaux Freres is one of the great estates of Oregon, if not all of the United States and I am glad I have had a chance to visit and walk these amazing vineyards. The 2011 Beaux Freres Willamette Valley Pinot Noir leads with a bouquet of wilted roses, iron ore, dried currants and sweet smoke before folding into a palate of dark cherry, plum and tangy blackberry fruits with flinty pepper, mocha, fennel and herb tea. This wine has depth and texture, but has plenty of zip too, though it finishes long and with refined tannins. Drink now through 2018, a fine Oregon Pinot that lives up to it’s reputation for quality and style.
($50 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive Special Report 2012 Germany Preview Part 1

Rheingau Riesling Preview a 2012 Vintage Snapshot
By Kerry Winslow, grapelive

Riesling12Report

The vintage 2012 looks set to be a classic in Germany, though far from easy and one that ultimately ended up great, though there is going to be much less wine on offer as crops were limited, so be sure to grab what you can on release, especially in the Mosel, Nahe, Pfalz and certainly the Rheingau region, a place that has become dear to me after a fantastic visit there in 2009. 2012 follows on the heels of 2011 a hugely successful vintage, which was thought a tough act to follow, but in which 2012 has got covered in many respects, even though the wines do not seem as open as of yet, the potential looks a tad better, especial in the dry wines, and the Rheingau has plenty to showcase, like the follow wines from Leitz and Spreitzer, two influential producers in the famed region.

Rudesheim on the Rhein is a spectacular wine destination and Germany as a whole makes for great vacations with easy transport, friendly people and beautiful landscapes. The food is often dismissed, but this is unbelievably wrong, Germany is home to some of the most innovative and quality cuisine in Europe, and don’t forget white asparagus (spargel in German) which is a springtime delicacy to die for. The Rheingau’s dramatic riverscape views and hiking trails make for a paradise in this world class wine region, known for it’s diversity of soils and terrors along the famous river with wonderful Rieslings and some rare and majestic Pinot Noirs, especially from the Hollenberg site in Assmannhausen which is one of the best Pinot Noir areas outside of the Cote de Nuits! But it is Riesling that that is king here and has been since pre Roman times, and for near a thousand years Rheingau Riesling was the world’s greatest white wine, and for many it still is or should be.

Riesling, as I have mentioned a few times before, is now the best buy in wine to cellar, we are talking a drinking cellar of course, these wines drink great throughout there lives and age almost forever, whether dry or sweet these are bullet proof sure thing hits for anyone wanting to build a worthwhile collection of drinking wines. Riesling’s high acidity can carry both sugar and extract, making for long lived and balanced wines.

2012 is a dry Riesling lovers dream year and the Rheingau looks to have excelled in fine dry wines, and two producers that achieved remarkable results are the famed Johannes Leitz, who is no stranger to great critical acclaim, and Andreas Spreitzer who is continuing to climb the ranks of the premier echelon of winemakers. I recently got to catch up with these two at a preview of German wines from the 2012 vintage in San Francisco at which both were showing off their latest creations to the trade. There is already tons of hype around the year, with many people regarding it as one of the best ever, so it was interesting to sample a large selection of this vintage, and while most of the winemakers were humble, there was lots of excitement in their eyes and after a little prodding they do believe this is a very special year, and from my own point of view, I think the hype is well deserved. I may have some experience, but I’ll defer to the more elder experts about where this year ranks on the greatness level, though I’ll agree at least this is a fantastic year for the dry wines, one of the best I can remember no question.

Weingut Leitz

Johannes Leitz’s lineup is top notch from top to bottom, and I’ve always been a huge fan, these wines scream quality and consistently are some of the best in Germany let alone the Rheingau. The Leitz wines from Rudesheim come from some of the most beautiful slopes on the Rhein, and having hiked them for miles on end, I must admit to being thoroughly biased in my love of these wines, and Leitz’s do sing a sirens song to me and are some of the most treasured experiences I have in wine drinking. Regardless of my own favorites, Johannes Leitz crafts fantastic wines and these 2012 are some of the best yet, no question. Of his impressive selection, I would single out three outstanding wines that are mightily impressive.

2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Estate Rudesheimer Trocken, Rheingau Germany.
A bit more serious than his Leitz Out and a touch drier than Dragonstone, the Rudesheimer Trocken is a stunning value in Leitz’s all star lineup for 2012 and is a wine to stock up on for short to midterm drinking. Coming off vines from Bischofsberg, this bright and savory Riesling has plenty of extract and pleasing fruit to do the trick, this is a finely judged wine with a wonderful balance of sweet and sour elements. The nose is still a touch shy, but the palate is electricly charged with vibrant lime, lemon and grapefruit while smoky mineral notes, peach, mango and saline add character. This charming wine has touches of earth, herbs and mint tea and after some air a tangy apricot aftertaste lingers. This is a friendly dry Riesling that is easy to enjoy now, but it should be at it’s best between 2014-2018, though I know I won’t wait to long myself.
($22 Est.) 91-92 Points, grapelive

2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreutz Spatlese, Rheingau Germany.
The “Maggie” Spatlese is always one of my favorite wines year after year, and while I couldn’t get enough of the 2009 and 2011, the 2012 is maybe even better still with plenty of lush extract, sweet fruit and loaded with juicy acidity, this is stunning wine at a stupidly fair price, I mean to say, this wine is a steal! Here is a classic example of why German Riesling is one of the best wine investments you can make, for a drinking cellar, putting a case away of this wine would pay off huge in terms of value and pleasure, especially as this wine has most likely a 15 to 20 year life ahead of it. I certainly will be signing up for some, putting my money where my mouth is, and I recommend getting on board the Riesling love train yourself. The 2012 Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spatlese leads with a heady bouquet, that needs coaxing still, of fresh cut roses, orange flowers and tropical essences with a firm streak of flint, spice and yellow fruit leading to a brisk palate of vivid crystalline citrus, mineral and fleshy stone fruit with mango, pineapple adding exotic character while smoky slate and salty essences add classic terroir. While a true sweetie, this Spatlese is pure class and balanced to perfection. Everything is here, everything is controlled and everything is delicious, bravo. The fall 2013 release can’t come soon enough.
($24 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck “Katerloch” Rheingau Germany.
Trying to pick of favorite of Leitz’s top dry cru wines is damn near impossible, honestly these are all unique and utterly fascinating wines that rival anything from anywhere, these crus just continue to get better and better and 2012 is one of the best vintages to explore these dry Rieslings from the hills above the Rhein River. Okay, that was a long sentence, but I’m sure you get the idea, Leitz Riesling is a bucket list wine and especially intriguing is the lovely and intense 2012 Leitz Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck “Katerloch” which is a fantastic example of German dry wine. This finely tuned Riesling bursts from the glass with smoky flint, red pepper spices and cool stone fruits, while the nose has white flowers and crushed stones the palate showcases the Roseneck terroir with full flavors of yellow peach, white currant, lime and powerful extract. This wine has total impact, force and firmness, a classic Riesling powerhouse and a wine of sublime character, this is a wine for the ages. Lingering apricot, mango and grapefruit add to the complete lustiness of this marvelous dry wine.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Weingut Spreitzer

Andreas Spritzer is an up and coming vintner, as his estate’s collection of 2012 wines are proof positive of their class and the potential here is huge, as these wines show. Spreitzer’s talents are on full display in the lineup of 2012, especially his top end crus of which are now full fledged Grosses Gewachs, or what we would call Grand Cru wines, of which can only be dry in style. The unique Loess and loam soils and terroir make Spreitzer’s Rieslings stand out, these are very different animals to other wines of the region, and these are powerful examples of this fine region and grape, here are a few of his wines to look for in this fantastic vintage.

2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling “303” Oestricher Lenchen, Spatlese, Rheingau Germany.
This is Spreitzer’s signature classic Rheingau, and a thrilling expression of style and terroir with dynamic flavors, density and lush charms, while remaining balanced and focused throughout, this feels as weighty as ever, but in fact tastes drier than the 2009, 2010 or 2011 wines, echoing my my balanced comment. This is a powerhouse wine with a velvet cover, lovely and unique with yellow peach, mango and candied pineapple adding to the core of apple and zesty citrus fruitiness. The extract level feels high and there is a certain creaminess that is impressive too, but there is loads of zing and vibrant acidity along with a savory earthy loam character with hints of brine, sea salt and wild herbs. Wonderful length, especially in a young wine, there is massive aging potential here, fantastic effort, definitely a cellar selection.
($48 Est.) 93-95 Points, grapelive

2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling, Wisselbrunnen Grosses Gewachs, Rheingau Germany.
The newly elevated Grand Cru Wisselbrunnen is one of the star dry wines of the vintage in the Rheingau and the Spreitzer family can really be proud of the majestic and powerful effort that is this wine, this is what all the buzz is about in modern dry German Riesling and right up there with some of the stars doing top echelon dry wines like Leitz, Donnhoff, Diel and others, this is a class act no question. Both the 2012 Grosses Gewachs I sampled this summer are stunning wines, it was hard to pick a favorite here, but in the end the flamboyant Wisselbrunnen got the nod, it is a massive and impressive wine with tons of dry extract and raw intensity, though some patience will be required here, it is another wine that should see a bit of cellaring. The nose has dried apricot, lime and smoky mineral essence with a full force palate of stinging acidity, earth and stones with loads of tangy fruit. Layers of lime, tangerine, white peach and pear all flow across the palate with a brisk dry sense of salt and spice finishing with length and lift. Drink 2014-2020, be sure to make note of Spreitzer’s Grosses Gewachs (Grand Crus) these are brilliant dry wines of charm and character.
($36 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling, Winkeler Jesuitengarten Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau Germany.
The sleeper in the Spreitzer lineup is the Winkeler Jesuitengarten Kabinett, this easy to enjoy Riesling does everything right and is very lovable right out of the bottle, but is serious in quality, it shows off this loess and loamy soil terroir well. Brightly fruited, entertaining and classy, the 2012 Spreitzer Kabinett is a joy with peaches, apple and tropical fruits leading the way, along worth hints of grapefruit, lime and saline coming through. Look for a bit more aromatics by this fall when it’s released and the touch of sweetness really makes for a pure and refreshing Riesling to be enjoyed over the next three to five years, though I expect it should age well for a decade at least. This playful and interesting Riesling is great first step into understanding the estate and terroir, be sure to check it out, and if you see 2009 or 2011 versions, snap them up too!
($22 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 29, 2014

BroadbentVerdelhoBroadbent, Madeira Verdelho 10 Year, Madeira, Portugal.
Some many times, Madeira, Port, Marsala and Sherry get overlooked, or thought of as an old persons tipple, so it is nice to see some real excitement coming out of these areas, especially in the last few years as a new generation emerges from the shadows both as producers and drinkers of unique styles of wine. Not that there is a huge youth movement in Madeira, but there does seem to be a new vigor and life coming forth, and this new series of 10 year Madeira(s) from Broadbent are hugely invigorating to this seemingly dusty wine segment and come as a welcome addition to the fine lineup of quality and affordable Madeira, and compete well with the Rare Wine Company series of Madeira, giving customers lots of great new choices. There are three new single grape 10 Year Madeira(s) in this Broadbent Selection, Sercial, Boal and Verdelho to go along with the classic 10 Year Malmsey, each showing a different character and level of dryness, and I especially love the excitement, lift and complexity in the beautiful Verdelho edition. The new release of Broadbent Verdelho 10 Year Madeira is vibrant with zesty citrus, poached peach with delicate nuttiness, hints of tropical dried fruit, caramel and burnt orange rind and a reduced nectarine and tangerine aftertaste. This very seductive and balanced Madeira that can go with many cuisine options and with a subtle sweetness and great focus makes for a highly enjoyable experience.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 28, 2013

2011StolpmanAngeli2011 Stolpman, Syrah Angeli, Santa Ynez Valley.
The top wine from Stoplman made by the talented Sashi Moorman since day one is a extreme, no holds barred Syrah with pure Northern Rhone character. 40% less grapes, and even less wine in 2011 means this is even rarer! Whole cluster with a co-fermented dash of Viognier makes this super quality wine very Cote-Rotie like in style, think Guigal, Rostaing or Chapoutier, but still the very essence of Stolpman’s finest plots. This focused wine shows an array of flavors including blackberry, smoked blueberry, bacon, violets and melted licorice along with cracked pepper that all gather on the full and densely textured palate. This is a lengthy and hedonistic Syrah from a cool climate site that plays up style and terroir to perfection, nothing lost in translation! Credit to the Stolpman family and Moorman,  even in such a difficult vintage they have more than just succeeded, they have found a touch of magic, bravo.
($70+ Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 27, 2013

2012krugerRumpfScheurebe2012 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spatlese Nahe Germany.
Georg Rumpf’s brilliant 2012 Scheurebe is one of the most exciting wines of the vintage, and maybe the ultimate example of this grape, it is simply magic in the glass. While a Spatlese, this wine neither feels or tastes cloying in any way, but rather divinely balanced with wonderful vibrancy and class. The nose is the most perfumed expression of Scheurebe I’ve ever encountered with delicate jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom, it is mindblowingly seductive, but still restrained and refined. The palate is medium weighted with extract and hints at density with beautifully lifted and vibrant fruit, lemon, melon, nectarine and honeyed pear all playing parts. Nice light mineral essences and tropical notes shine through as well, and while everything flows smoothly, there is plenty of vigor and life here, and a refreshing salt lick and crispness come through on the finish with the faints of sweetness lingering. This is a fantastic white wine, coming this fall (2013) and should not be missed, drink 2014-2018.
($26 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 26, 2013

2012SelbachUr2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr “Ur” Alte Reben Mosel, Germany.
This Riesling from 100 Year Old Mosel vines in Zeltinger Sonnenuhr is a touch off dry technically, but is wonderfully dry feeling and is a marvel of precision and balance. Selbach’s selection of ancient vines and deft touch shows in this finely detailed wine that has both grace and underlying power and intensity with salty minerals, extract and lazar like focus, and amazing potential. The hint of sweetness adds a subtle touch of lush luxury to this classy Riesling and gives a hint of creamy mouth weight while remaining vivid and vibrant throughout. The nose is still a bit closed, though crushed stones, mint leaves, white flowers and grapefruit show, before a lively palate of green apple, peach and lime fruit, sea salt, chalk and tropical essences. A clean and fresh Riesling with glorious character, the 2012 Selbach-Oster “Ur” Alte Reben ultra old vine finishes with tangerine and tangy apricot plus a burst of energy, this is fantastic stuff, don’t miss it when a tiny amount is released this Fall (of 2013) and while it will drink great young, it should age well, Drink 2014-2024.
($32 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 25, 2013

2012MCMuscateller2012 Muller-Catoir, Muskateller Haardt Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
If you ever want to know how serious dry muscat should taste, then you must try Muller-Catoir’s Haardt Muskateller, in fact if you what to try one of the world’s most beautiful wines then you should sample this fabulous white from the Pfalz. The 2012 is one of the finest examples of this wine I can remember, and I’ve lusted after this wine since first trying the 1998 vintage, and there is no doubt this will be in my ten best whites of the year. The 2012 Muller-Catoir Haardt Muskateller has a wondrous perfume of star jasmine and citrus blossoms along with spice and river stones leading to an ultra dry and light-medium bodied palate of lime, crisp green apple and white peach with chalky mineral essence and juicy acidity through out. This brisk and delicate wine marvels the senses and is pure class from start to finish, this wine is totally captivating and the most dynamic expression of this grape I’ve tasted to date. I can’t wait to try this again, it will be released in the fall of 2013.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 24, 2013

2011Lovmor2011 Alfredo Maestro Tejero, white Albillo “Lovamor” (Ribera del Duero) Valladolid, Spain.
Known for his inventive and rebel ways in the Ribera del Duero, Alfredo Maestro has become a leader of the natural wine movement, believing in organic vineyards and using no additives, he has crafted some of the most interesting wines in the region. Over the last few years I have fallen in love with his remarkable Tempranillo wines, but this rare and thoroughly captivating white is one to search out, it is seductive and intriguing with vigor, depth and playfulness. The 2011 Lovamor is from the unique Albillo grape, almost unheard of outside the Ribera del Duero region, and comes from amazing 100-120 Year Old vines planted on Clay and Limestone soils at about 3,000 feet above sea level, all of which add to the special terroir character found in this wine. Maestro varies the skin contact, and it was believed the 2011 saw about 6 full days on the skins on this white, fermenting in small stainless steel to preserve freshness, so it doesn’t go sherry like or funky, while gaining a deeper golden/straw hue and powerful intensity. There is a slight almond/pecan note, but it is very subtle, the wine is zesty with orange, lemon/lime, white peach and apple skin notes coming through, bright acidity gives an electrical charge, but the wine fills out like a white Burgundy on the palate and has a nice saline/savory note as well. Chalky mineral, stones and clove spice add to the whole experience here and given time this wine turns very expressive and turns on the charm leaving a lush nectarine on the lengthy finish, this is pure geeky heaven.
($34 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 23, 2013

1999VT1999 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Rhone Valley, France.
I’ve always loved this vintage of VT, it was a sleeper, not hyped up like 2000 or the classic 1998, but for me a better more interesting wine, and now it is truly stunning with great detail and life. Tasted in a mini vertical between the 1998 and 2000 vintages, the 1999 shines with firm structure, lift and vivid flavors, it seems darker in profile with more spice and tannin than the other two wines, which I say are still drinking great as well, though I really am seduced by the ’99 and wish I had some in my own cellar. The lively and firm nature of the 1999 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe shows in it’s intensity and for me adds that energy and verve I look for in a fine Chateauneuf du Pape, this wine has it all, fruit, depth, vigor and length. The nose is mineral toned with earth, spice, wild herbs and dark berries leading the way to the palate which shows baked cherry, poached plum, minty herbs, pepper, meat and hints of boysenberry, bramble, kirsch and anise with a stony essence. The tannins haven’t melted away, but over all this fantastic Chateauneuf du Pape is pure hedonism in the glass, and for me it is a wonderful point to drink, pop it if you have it to see, but I love it now, this is pure class and a very underrated vintage.
($N/A) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day June 22, 2013

1995ManzoniBig1995 Rocche dei Manzoni, Barolo DOCG “Vigna Big” Piedmonte, Italy. (1.5L Magnum)
Wow, this 18 Year Old Barolo is still so young and fresh with great color and vivid purity, showing rich and powerful Nebbiolo character and charm to perfection. What a great treat is was to taste this beautiful and majestic wine, especially from a magnum, and I cannot say enough how grateful I am for having friends that are willing to share such fun wines from their cellars, I feel pretty lucky. The 1995 Vigna Big is really starting to hit on all cylinders and show it’s classic form with rich intensity oozing out of the bottle and the glass throughout with loads of energy and tannins that are firm, but turning supple with air, this is gorgeous Barolo that is giving heightened pleasure, but still has at least a another decade of life. This soulful red starts with wild mushrooms, dried currants, lavender oil, wilted roses and hosin/plum sauce leading to a vibrant palate of cherry and strawberry fruit, tangy mineral essence, cedar spice, melted licorice, tar, orange rind and briar notes. This detailed and tightly focused wine still has good acidity which adds to the clarity and lifts everything, this great Nebbiolo still dances and is light on it’s feet, while still giving a wonderfully lavish mouth feel. This is Manzoni at it’s finest, bravo, this is a wine to savor and treasure no question.
($N/A) 96 Points, grapelive