Monthly Archives: November 2013

Wine of the Day November 30, 2013

BonnardotN.V. Domaine Bonnardot, Cremant de Bourgogne, Brut Rose, Burgundy Sparkling Wine, France.
Wow, what a nice bubbly, a great Brut Pinot Noir rose from Burgundy that offers terrific value in a first rate wine, I hope I get my hands on more myself. Perfect for celebrations, and anytime you feel like a sparkler, this elegant and stylish sparkler will do the job. The Domaine Bonnardot Cremant Rose starts with brioche, toast, yeast and cherry notes leading to a crisp and fresh palate of wild strawberry, apple and citrus while the bread dough, hazelnut and a hint of red currant play softly in the background. This could fool many people into believing that this was a fine Champagne, I know I was very impressed, and it has plenty of class, character and delicate details to marvel at.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 29, 2013

2011FrancTireur2011 Vignoble Reveille, Franc Tireur, Roussillon, Cotes Catelanes, France.
This earthy and dense red from the South of France, close to the Spanish frontier is made from ancient 100 Year Old Carignan vines, and it’s a wonderfully pleasing wine from an organic producer/artisan winemaker that I’d never tried before. I certainly will be keeping my eyes out for Vignoble Reveille wines (made by France Crispeels, a woman winemaker from Belgium) after sampling this intriguing old vine Carignan, I’m grateful to importers Return to Terroir for introducing me with a taste of this interesting wine. The 2011 Revielle-Roussillon Cotes Catelanes starts with a mix of earthy loam, spice, wild herbs and leathery notes before revealing a savvy mix or red fruits, mineral and warm brick/rocky essences with red currant, black cherry, boysenberry and plum layers. There is flashes of truffle, cracked pepper, lavender oil and salty anise making for a complex and well made wine that has old world charm and vitality, drink 2013-2018.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 28, 2013

2012KnebelRiesling2012 Weingut Knebel, Riesling, Mosel, Germany. (Trocken)
Recently voted best Thanksgiving Wine by the NYT (New York Times) has certainly brought Knebel to wider attention, and I must say, I did after reading the NYT article buy a bottle for my Thanksgiving celebration, even though I had tried the Knebel 2011 wines, which were excellent as well. Matthias Knebel is a winemaker to follow, he is a rising star, and his wines show great promise, he comes from a new generation, he along with his contemporaries are looking at natural and traditional ways to explore their terrors, his peers like Arianna Occhipinti and fellow German young star Eva Fricke are creating a lot of excitement in the wine world and it seems the future is in good hands, this generation has heart, soul and talent, it shows in their passion and in their wines. The 2012 Knebel QbA Riesling is a dry and beautifully detailed wine with vigorous acidity, great extract and layers of pure Mosel character with mineral essence and vivid flavors, this is clear and focused Riesling of high quality. The nose is tangy fresh with citrus, stone fruit and sea breeze elements leading to a brisk and zesty palate of lime, apricot and white peach fruit, bitter apple, mint, crushed stone, grapefruit pips, saline and a  lingering tangerine note, this is lovely and vibrant wine that has a pale yellow golden hue. I love the intensity, the drive and robust style in this wine, it is very serious stuff and has the potential to be even better over a period of many years, I think I’ll put a few bottles away and check them out in 5 years time, and the price is very fair for what you get, again I highly recommend grabbing a few bottles if not cases while you can. The 2012 vintage is a breakthrough vintage for Knebel and Fricke, a huge success across Germany as a whole and a perfect year to showcase these young talents, be sure to check the Knebel wines out, especially this one, drink 2014 to 2020.
($20 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($18.95)

Wine of the Day November 27, 2013

2011MeyerNakelBlueSlate2011 Weingut Meyer-Nakel, Pinot Noir, Blue Slate, Ahr, Germany.
The Blue Slate Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) 2011 is dark, rich and lavish wine with ripe fruit layers, round silky texture and a long finish, this is an extremely hedonistic Pinot Noir from one of Germany’s top Pinot Noir estates. Meyer-Nakel in the Ahr is simply a must find wine from Pinot lovers and while the top end cuvees are even more sought after and pricy than some highly respected Burgundy, the medium level wines can be found, like this wonderful entry level, in the USA, the Blue Slate, which gets it’s name from the soils and of which lends it’s unique mineral spice and flavor. The 2011 is lush with an almost full body and has plenty of density in the mouth, but still shows precision and detail, and it starts with a dark ruby/garnet hue, a seductive bouquet of violets, cherry liqueur, red pepper and vanilla leading to a palate of black cherry, plum, red currant, blueberry and wild raspberry, along with smoky char and flinty spice. There is a warm and sweet essence of oak, but it is not garish or over done, it helps frame and smooth out the impressive fruit while the slate mineral element, the earthy truffle note and acidity add complexity and vibrancy. The finish lingers on and on reflecting on all the pieces mentioned plus a hint of fig paste, saline and bitter chocolate, look for this wine to age gracefully and gain in subtlety over the next 5 to 10 years, though it is really hard to resist now and is super pleasing now, drink from 2014 to 2023. No question, the Meyer-Nakel Pinots are stunning, I’m a huge fan, these wines are absolutely world class.
($56 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 26, 2013

2010SiduriPrattSextonRd2012 Siduri, Pinot Noir “Pratt Vineyard-Sexton Road” Sonoma Coast.
The new Pratt Vineyard-Sexton Road 2012 Pinot is a stylish and rather more delicate wine from Siduri, a softer touch and the rewards for such a deft and artistic approach are glorious and many, this is a beautifully detailed Pinot Noir with grace, length and intrigue. The 2012 Siduri Pratt starts with a mix of floral perfume, earth, mineral and dark berries to go with it’s ruby hue, leading to a tangy palate of black cherry, sweet and sour plum, wild raspberry, briar, smoke, pepper and baking spices and sea salted black licorice. Look for this beautiful and complex Pinot Noir to really change in the glass and in the cellar, there is so much going on now it really is amazing, but it is still a baby and there is even more to come, I’m sure. The finish is long and silky, though full of life and brightness, this wine has plenty of vibrancy, depth and is elegant from start to finish. The wood is subtle here, only a faint kiss of vanilla and framing show through, and a lingering strawberry and red currant note just leave you wanting to explore this wine over and over again, drink from 2014 to 2020.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 25, 2013

2010SaxumJBV2010 Saxum, James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles.
Justin Smith’s famous proprietary red, the James Berry Vineyard is made up of mostly Grenache, and in 2010 it was 52% Grenache, 26% Mourvedre, 22% Syrah, with 15.8% alcohol, making for a super heady and hedonistic wine. While on paper you’d think it was huge and maybe port-like in style, but in reality this wine is vivid, vibrant and complex, not showing excessive heat or pruney character at all, and the wood is totally melded in without a trance to be found, this wine is surprisingly fresh, and without question young, tight and in need of a decade of cellering. In what was a cool vintage, but not serve like maybe 2011, the Saxum James Berry shows it’s pedigree, this vineyard has to rank up there as one of the top Rhone sites in California, it is in the Templeton Gap, a cooler area in the West side part of Paso Robles, an area that sees medium high daytime temps and a cool breeze from the ocean and much cooler nights, it also has great soils, ancient seabed to thank for the quality, making the vines stress just enough to show their best, this a prime spot for Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, and there is Tempranillo, Counoise, Tannat, Roussanne and even some Petit Verdot doing great things near by, this region is on fire with fantastic wines. The 2010 Saxum is beautifully detailed, super long and exotic, starting with a black/purple hue that is opaque leading to an intense palate of black currants, boysenberry, dark cherry and damson plum fruits with crushed stones, liquid minerals, white pepper, melted licorice, blueberry compote, bitter dark coco and a hint of cedar. I think over time there will be a whole lot more coming to life here, there is the impression, slight now, of game, leather and liqueur, though the power and tannin structure is masking it’s true depth, regardless this is amazing wine and a rival for any top Chateauneuf-du-Pape, though more like Pegau than Rayas. Unfortunately the demand is unbelievably high and the price jumps 3 or 4 times when it finds the street, but again there is a reason, it is a truly awesome bottle, especially for those lucky enough to be on Justin’s mailing list, the pre release price is only $89. Bravo to Justin Smith, his wines are no doubt some of the best Rhone style wines being made in California.
($189-249 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 24, 2013

2013Foillard2013 Jean Foillard, Beaujolais Nouveau, France.
While most Nouveau is juicy thin and not interesting, Jean Foillard’s version is a much more serious example, while still fun and lighthearted. Foillard is a genius and an artist with Gamay, his Morgon wines are stunning wines, some of the best made in the world, matching a many Burgundy Premier Cru for elegance, complexity and class. The 2013 Foillard Nouveau is bright, fresh and tangy delicious with sour plum, cherry and cranberry fruits with hints of red peach, candied citrus, iodine and strawberry. This is a stylish red from a super talented guy, but most of all it is a celebration of the vintage, a little joy to quaff and to toast the year. Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 seem a bit light and zesty, but some offer a bit more flair and Jean Foillard’s is one of the best, Drink up!
($20 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 23, 2013

2006RidgeEstate2006 Ridge, Zinfandel, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley.
Since my day job and life sees me tasting wines from around the world, and there is a seriousness and sometimes pressure, so it’s nice just to kick-back and pop a cork on a bottle I just purchased to enjoy, and during some down time I found this 2006 Ridge Lytton Estate, a extremely pleasurable and hedonistic wine. I had tasted this at the tasting room at Lytton Springs in Dry Creek, and thought it was very fun, so I took a few home and just opened the last one last (November 22, 2013) and at 7 years old it is really coming into it’s own and has become glorious in character with Zinfandel charms, but also with almost a Bordeaux like feel, it is always interesting to see how Zins age when the fruity nature starts to fade and secondary flavors emerge. Ridge is such a wonderful expression of California, and this wine which is 84% Zinfandel and 16% Petite Sirah coming from some of the oldest vines on the Lytton Estate, some of which are over a hundred years old. The 2006 vintage wasn’t a great vintage, but they are showing much better at this stage, in fact I was really surprised, this wine is drinking fantastic, way better than expected, wine is so much a mystery, I happily quaffed this lovely red. The nose has matured with subtle perfume, dried flowers, tea notes and cassis start you off, leading to a full bodied palate of poached plum, black raspberry, currant and boysenberry along with cedarwood, briar spiciness and hints of kirsch, mineral and truffle. This dark and rich Californian classic has touches of loamy earth, subtle wood, pencil lead and refined tannin, which are certainly more of what you’d find in a claret, especially as the main fruits have toned down at this stage, this is pretty and complex Zin that still remains faithful and pure to it’s home, it is joyous now, drink 2013 through 2021.
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day November 22, 2013

2009FenocchioBarolo2009 Giacomo Fenocchio, Barolo DOCG “Bussia” Piedmonte, Italy.
Here is a young, stylish and old school Barolo that is more an early drinker than a cellar candidate, perfect for purists and those that want a great reasonable introduction to fine Barolo or Nebbiolo. The 2009 Fenocchio “Bussia” Barolo starts with earthy truffle, red tea and dried flowers leading to a supple palate of cherry, plum and raspberry fruits with game, iron/mineral tones, tar and herbal licorice notes. While still young, there is a polished sense about this wine and it not gain weight or complexity over the next decade, but still is a fine and highly enjoyable effort that comes from a great vineyard site. I really liked this wine, from first sip to the medium long finish, it is solid, tasty and well made, and there is a nice combination of strawberry, cedar and balsamic that lingers on the aftertaste. Drink now through 2018.
($48 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2013

Beaujolais Nouveau 2013
Nouveau13It’s time, the first wine of the vintage, a time to get all Beajolais Nouveau giddy and start your Gamay hangover! The third Thursday in November is celebrated now throughout the world as a harvest festival, well sort of the St Patrick’s Day of wine, it is a totally awful, crass and made up commercial event, but we love it anyway. While Nouveau is frivolous and light hearted, sometimes it can give details into what to expect from the vintage, a few people even judge their Burgundy purchases on what they find in the Beaujolais Nouveau, though this is remarkably silly, though there might be a slight amount of insight to be gained, plus it is just plain fun to party with fresh juicy wine without pretense. In some cases Nouveau can be stunning, in fact I forgot about a few bottles of Nouveau one vintage, 2009 in fact, and discovered to my surprise that after 2 years it was highly enjoyable and very very good, though that must be a rare experience. Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day, time to get your Gamay on and be playful, happy and unrestrained, Cheers!