Monthly Archives: September 2013

Wine of the Day September 30, 2013

2012MullerCatoirBurgergarten2012 Muller-Catoir, Riesling Burgergarten Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
I believe the first vintage of Muller-Catoir I bought was the 1997, and I’ve been a fan ever since, these Pfalz wines are some of the finest white wines made and the 2012 vintage is a stellar year for this great domaine. While I can’t stop babbling on about Muller-Catoir’s fantastic Muskateller, it is there dry Riesling wines that take center stage in this latest set of releases, especially this magical 2012 Burgergarten Trocken. This is serious wine for serious wine lovers, intense and noble with transparent clarity and real purpose, the Burgergarten is a pure Riesling expression from it’s place, the sandstone soils, exposure and deft winemaking. The 2012 Muller-Catoir Riesling Burgergarten Trocken is vigorously steely and stingingly dry with spritzy vibrancy throughout, there is white flowers, salty brine, tangy peach, pear and green apple with a core of cool lime, plus hints of grapefruit, apricot pit and chalky wet stones. The finish is mouth-wateringly dry and zesty, but there is lingering impressions of rosemary, mint and tangerine. This is ultra Riesling, maybe not a Grand Cru, but certainly it has it all if not in name, this wine is looking good to be in my top ten best of the year, bravo, drink 2015-2022.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive


Wine of the Day September 29, 2013

2010MarchandGC2010 Pascal Marchand, Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Cazetiers” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
Another beautifully crafted Burgundy from ex-Comte Armand winemaker Pascal Marchand, the Quebecian (French Canadian) has certainly put together a great portfolio of wines since going solo, and this majestic Gevrey-Chambertin is one of his finest efforts to date. The detailed 2010 Les Cazetiers gives unbridled pleasure and charm with glorious transparency and silky richness, this beauty shows dried rose petals, hints of game, violets and raspberry from nose to entry, the mouth is filled with cherry, plum and currant fruits with truffle, liquid mineral and sweet herbs, tea spices plus light wood notes. These layers are deep and compelling from start to finish, the smooth tannins and acidity hold everything in place perfectly, this wine is laser sharp, focused and balanced, highlighting the perfect marriage of vineyard, wine and winemaker, stunning in everyday, drink from 2015-2020.
($85 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive



Wine of the Day September 28, 2013

2012SheldonCabernet2012 Sheldon, Cabernet Sauvignon “D’ Alliard Vineyard” Sonoma Valley.
The latest from Sheldon Wines is a glorious single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the western most side of the Sonoma Valley, from a tiny old vine plot at the D’ Alliard Vineyard, this is a fantastic and graceful young Cabernet with awesome potential as it is still a baby at this point, it reminds me of a Ridge Cab, or an old school Napa wine with it’s wonderfully low alcohol, it’s only 12.3%, and it’s refined pure varietal character, this is an elegant wine with loads of personality. Dylan and Tobe Sheldon crafted this wine with the use of any new wood and minimal racking or handling and bottled this wine unfiltered, this handcrafted artisan Cabernet is dark and classic without any overdoing it, it is what good honest Cabernet should be, nothing less and nothing more. The nose has dark cherries, minty herbs, creme de cassis and a touch of pencil lead, leading to a medium/full palate of blackberry, plum, raspberry and a subtle kirsch note along with fine tobacco leaf, black olive, wild herbs, cedar and licorice notes. This wine is still firm with ripe tannins and good acidity, giving it balance and structure, but is tasty already with a fresh juicy nature. It should fill out nicely in the bottle over the coming 3 to 5 years, drink from 2016 to 2021, though I no doubt will pop my own bottles a bit sooner, bravo.
($42 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive



Wine of the Day September 27, 2013

2010HirschPN2010 Hirsch Vineyards, Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault Hirsch Estate, Sonoma Coast.
The new release of Hirsch San Andreas Fault Pinot is strikingly intense, very Nuits-St.-Georges like (think Henri Gouges) with a real meaty and earthy nose that hints of wild truffles, a faint whiff of dried roses and saline, plus balsamic dipped plums before opening up on the beautiful and textured palate that gives way to an array of red fruits, savory spices and soft mineral tones. Jasmine Hirsch and new winemaker Ross Cobb can be proud of this finished effort, this is an intriguing example of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that delivers a richly packed wine with plenty of vigorous tension and vivid transparency. There are layers of morello cherry, dried currants, dusty raspberry, salted licorice, lavender oil, porcini and warm wood notes, which leads to a stunningly long finish with a lingering pure Pinot fruit and violets aftertaste. This Pinot Noir combines power, terroir and graceful balance in a dynamic package, this Pinot is well worth searching out, bravo, drink 2014-2020.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive



Wine of the Day September 26, 2013

2011MadiganCS2011 Madigan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
This lovely and delicious Cabernet is a steal, this very complete red is pure Napa artisan wine made by Chris Danielak, who also makes the flagship White Rock Vineyards wines (Madigan is their second label) for his family. White Rock started in 1977 with the revival of the historic winery that was originally started back in 1870, the Cabernet vines were planted back in 1977 and the current line of wines were started back in 1986 by Chris Danielak’s father, who he took over from in 1999, though Chris has also done winemaking gigs across the pond in Spain and in France. White Rock’s wines have always garnered high praise and their low alcohol, European style, that has really become popular lately, are without question classy efforts. The 2011 Madigan Cabernet Sauvignon is a fresh, but filling wine with a dark garnet hue, vivid berry and cherry fruit, earth and spice, plus subtle oak notes. There is a tangy currant core that comes through on the palate with air, and there are touches of cedar, baking spices, licorice and a nice long aftertaste. This is a solid and well made Cabernet Sauvignon, perfect for easy drinking and especially exciting for bargain hunters.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive


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Wine of the Day September 25, 2013

LarmandierRoseN.V. Guy Larmandier, Brut Rose, Premier Cru Champagne, a Vertus, France.
The latest disgorgment of Larmandier’s Premier Cru Brut Rose Champagne is a beauty, this is going to leave a lasting and profound craving, yes sir, I really recommend grabbing some of this rare and lovely bubbly while you can, and I’m not kidding, you better get more than one. This addictive sparkler shows pure elegance, life and class from start to finish with a magical array of classic Champagne character and flavors with a bright soft mousse, brioche notes, strawberry and cherry fruit, yeasty and nutty with racy citrus and heavenly mouth feel. There is richness on the palate, but it still is bright, fresh and dreamy, highlighting Guy Larmandier house style and impressive nature of this glorious Rose. I adore this artisan Champagne and it offers loads of unique charm and still comes in at a much better value than the Grand Marques.
($62 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive



Grapelive Special Report: Northern Rhone Syrah

A Handful of Interesting Syrah Wines from the Spiritual Home of the Varietal

By Kerry Winslow


Syrah is a great and noble grape, it calls the historic northern Rhone Valley in France it’s historic and spiritual home, and places like Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas and Cote-Rotie are the some of the greatest regions on earth, and they rely on one red grape, Syrah. Here is a quick look at some fine new releases from Rosenthal’s wonderful import portfolio which were on display recently in San Francisco, this allowed me to taste these very intriguing examples, be sure to look for these at your local fine wine merchants.

2010LionnetCornas2010 Domaine Lionnet, Cornas “Terre Brulee” Rhone Red, France.
I’ve had the Lionnet Cornas over the last 4 or 5 vintages and have admired them, but this 2010 is by far the best yet and is a terrific Syrah of great class and style. This focused and lovely Cornas excise the senses and fulfills most Syrah lovers dreams, it is all about old school transparency and rustic charm with plenty of earth, spice, tannins and acidity, but it has pure and dense fruit that shines in a clean and refined way. The nose is full of violets, bramble, meat, kirsch and dried herbs leading to a robust palate of blueberry, boysenberry, soy soaked plum, wild game, anise, black olives and cracked pepper. With air this wine turns on the charm, it fills out, expanding and becoming rich and almost creamy, certainly this dynamic wine will reward those with patience, some short term cellaring looks to be a strong investment bet, and look for stylish drinking pleasure for at least a decade, drink 2016-2025.
($52 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2010CuilleronSTJOE2010 Yves Cuilleron, Saint-Joseph “L’ Amarybelle” Vieilles Vignes, Rhone Red, France.
This positively stunning and beautiful Syrah from Yves Cuilleron is a real gem, glorious and polished with pretty details throughout, Cuilleron fans will adore this Saint-Joseph that should also bring a whole new legion of followers to this renown talent. Cuilleron’s wines are clear, precise and vivid with pure varietal focus and this lovely medium weight Saint-Joseph is no exception. The 2010 L’ Amarybelle Vieilles Vignes is class in the glass with heightened floral tones that lean on violets, an intriguing palate of bright plum, blueberry, black cherry, juicy boysenberry and subtle dark currant fruits with layers of earth, spice, mineral and sweet herbs. There are touches of fennel, lavender, pepper and cedar that also linger on the long aftertaste, plus there are silky tannins well hidden and fresh acidity driving things underneath, this is sexy wine no question, drink 2014-2020.
($42 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

2010GillesCornas2010 Guillaume Gilles, Cornas, Rhone Red, France.
I’ve only had a couple of chances to sample Guillaume Gilles wines, but each time has left an impression, these are wines to have, and his latest 2010 Cornas is a full blown rockstar, though still in it’s infancy, just remember to get a few bottles, you’ll want to hold at least one for the future. The 2010 Cornas shows vibrant intensity with a mix of floral and meaty notes on the nose, violets, bacon fat, truffle and scorched earth along with tangy blueberry, before a mouthful of briar, and spices with a rich core of boysenberry, cherry and plum fruits. Firm tannins, chalky minerals and subtle wood notes are also present in this robust Syrah from the northern Rhone. After air and coaxing, this Gilles Cornas really comes alive and certainly turns attractive and more polished, it fills the mouth and lingers beautifully on the finish, hence my thoughts this wine has stunning potential to thrill with some cellar time. This is old world Syrah at it’s charming best and shows complexity and compelling seductiveness, drink 2016-2021.
($65 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

2010LevetChavarocheCR2010 Bernard Levet, Cote-Rotie “Les Chavaroche” Rhone Red, France.
A cascade of glorious layers awaits you in this fabulous Cote-Rotie from Bernard Levet, a winery that is very new to me, and one I’ll be sure to follow from now on! The fascinating 2010 Les Chavaroche is an amazingly detailed and pretty Cote-Rotie with exceptional regional integrity and lovely artisan craftsmanship, this is stellar stuff without being overblown. The quality is top notch and the complex layers of flavors offer pleasing hedonism with black fruits, wild game, spice and mineral essences, plus refined tannins, lifting acidity and plush texture. The nose is delightful with violets, wild flowers, dried herbs and rose petals mixed with mineral, pepper and creme de cassis leading to a palate of blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cherry and plum fruits with warm stones, chalk, porcini, lavender and licorice. The bodied is rich, but fresh and medium in weight still, reminding you of it’s youth and there’s plenty of firm tannin and acidity still, making me think there is a nice lengthy future ahead of this lovely wine. Drink from 2018-2025 for peak performance, but I would be hard pressed to wait, this is wonderful Syrah.
($65 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

2010BecherasSTJOE2010 Etienne Becheras, Saint-Joseph, Rhone Red, France.
A delightful and succulent Syrah can be found in Etienne Becheras’ 2010 Saint-Joseph, this is a nice and pure wine that gives plenty of pleasure and very good character. The Becheras shows mostly a light hearted, medium weight style with soft tannins and bright flavors with hints of violets, herbs and mineral with a good core of blueberry, plum and dark cherry, plus there is subtle cassis, pepper and grilled meat. While not too deep or complex, this is still a very classy wine and plenty fun, especially with cuisine like lamb or BBQ. There might be more to come with some cellar time, but I would not gamble on that, I’d just enjoy this fine effort over the next 2 or 3 years.
($32 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive



Wine of the Day September 24, 2013

2012DonnhoffEstate2012 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Estate, Nahe Germany.
Certainly, you cannot find many QbA Rieslings as good as this Donnhoff, there is just no question, especially this years edition, as 2012 is proving to be a fantastic vintage. I missed this wine at the pre arrival tasting in June of 2013 in San Francisco, where I got a chance to try most of the significant offerings from the wonderful Terry Theise portfolio, so I was thrilled to be able to taste it this weekend, and it did not disappoint, it is a lovely and mostly dry style with just a touch of sweetness, about normal Kabinett level in feel. This remarkable 2012 Donnhoff Estate Riesling makes for a compelling wine and again a super value, this is quality stuff, with floral and tropical essences, tangy lime and peach fruit, steely minerals and creamy rich finish, but with brisk and vibrant acidity. This charming and pure wine has a touch of apricot, tangerine, basil, sea salt and wet stones as well, plus some juicy green apple. The off dry feel plays well, making for a bit of fleshy texture, this is a very pleasing and refreshing wine. The 2012 Donnhoff Estate Riesling is almost a must wine, if not a must have a case wine, it is that good and it is perfect for Asian food, picnics and well, almost time, and it should drink great for a decade!
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive



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Wine of the Day September 23, 2013

2010MartinEstateCS2010 Martin Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley.
This has to be one of the best new wines of the year, this jaw-dropping Cabernet from Aaron Pott and Martin Estate in Rutherford is a profound effort and easily is in the big leagues, this wine is right up there with the cult legends, though name dropping here seems cliche, just know this is the real deal. The 2010 Martin Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley is intensely dark, deep and dense, but still full of vibrancy, life and grace, this is a shockingly great Cabernet from a talented winemaker that has without question hit the big time. The nose brings acacia, wild flowers, creme de cassis, Herbs de Provence, subtle smoke, pencil lead and vanilla scented wood, then there is the packed palate of vivid flavors including blackberry, black currants, plum and blueberry fruits, mineral, sage and cinnamon spiciness, plus hints of espresso bean, tobacco leaf, bitter coco and licorice root. Everything folds together perfectly and firm tannins and lifting acidity hold the rich and lavish texture in check, this is fantastic and dynamic Cabernet Sauvignon that deserves high praise and attention. Be sure to make note of this estate and this wine, this is a new project you want to be on the ground floor with, and one of the most exciting new Napa wines I can remember, this wine has it all, class, power, life and complexity, don’t miss out.
($75 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 22, 2013

2011VonWinningParadies2011 Weingut Von Winning, Riesling “Paradeisgarten” Deidesheim Paradeisgarten, Trocken, Pfalz, Germany.
The Deidesheimer Paradeisgarten from Von Winning is a stunner, the open and riveting 2011 is drinking much better even than it did the last time I tried it, and in fact I recently got a chance to sample it from three separate bottles, each slightly different, but all thrilling experiences. While the 2012’s look like they have more of everything and bigger potential, these 2011’s are wonderful wines, drinking great now even and this Von Winning 2011 Paradeisgarten is a truly unique and charming Riesling with exotic flavors and excitement on par with Premier Cru white Burgundies, if not better, especially if you love dry Riesling! Terry Theise the importer and Riesling evangelical prophet likens the Von Winning wines to Grand Cru Chablis, I never disagree with the master, and Von Winning’s wine director Herr Stefan Attmann is clearly influenced by the great wines of Burgundy, he uses all native “Sponti” yeast fermenting, he employs extended time on the lees, his wines are unfined and he uses various Oak casks large and small, even French barriques, making his wines completely to his own style. I know there are some purists out there that balk at Riesling in French oak or wood in general, but these wines are just too damn good to scoff at. The upper Grand Crus are simply out of this world, but across the board these wines are fantastic, especially this 2011 Paradeisgarten which shows light wood details, wonderful density and extract, lively acidity and sublime length. The nose is lightly perfumed with tropical fruit and flowers, baking spices, lemon curd and brioche leading to a palate of lime, mango, apricot, apple pie and pineapple with hints of ginger snap, wet river stones, salted toffee, mint and briny chalk essence. There is vigor and intensity, but a refined creamy feel mid palate, finishing dry and crisp with a super long aftertaste that leaves a peach and citrus cobbler note. Drink now through 2019, this is thrilling stuff, and the 2012 will be even better!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive




avail at