2010 Chateau La Tour Figeac, Grand Cru Classe, Saint-Emilion, Red Bordeaux, France.
A classic blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc fermented in a combination of stainless steel and wood vats then aged 15 month in French oak, which I imagine was about a third to a half new, and crafted by the talented Stephane Darenoncourt, the Chateau La Tour Figeac 2010 is a wonderful and elegant wine that while still young is very refined, rich and polished. This beautifully fruit driven Saint-Emilion shows great detail, finesse and style in a free flowing lush fashion with sweet bouquet of cassis, violets and smoke leading to a full palate of red currant, plum, black cherry and raspberry fruits along with minty red pepper jelly, pencil lead, mocha and vanilla. This wine stood out for the structure, liveliness and focus adding to the lavish body and plush mouth feel, look for this wine to drink great early and go great for another 10 to 15 years, while not on the same level as Clos Fortet or Angelus this stunner is easier by far on the wallet and offers plenty of class for the cost and it is super pleasing, it should be hitting the shelves this fall, be should to look for it. Also, the 2009 was very enjoyable (90 Points) as well, just not as vivid or vibrant as the 2010, something that repeated over and over for Grand Cru Classe Saint-Emilion wines at a recent tasting.
($50-60 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Daniel Chotard, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France.
The vintage 2012 for Loire white wines is proving a huge hit, a major success considering all the problems with weather and crops, especially the Sauvignon Blanc, and this Daniel Chotard is one of the best yet I’ve sampled. Chotard, imported by Kermit Lynch, is a top artisan producer making fine Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre and he also makes a stunning Pinot Noir too, his 2009 Sancerre Rouge still sticks in my memory, it was as pure and polished as any village Burgundy, in fact it could easily have matched some huge price tag Premier Crus. While I’ve not always had a chance to try his Sancerre whites, they tend to sell out pretty quick most years, when I’ve had the opportunity they have always impressed me, and this 2012 is a stellar effort, there is everything to love and enjoy here, it is vivid, juicy and pure, an old school charmer no question with mineral intensity, zest acidity and chalky dry, appealing to classic and modern palates alike. The nose is bright with white flowers, river stones, hints of earthy essences, a whiff of cat pee and loads of citrus fruit, the crisp and stylish palate has gooseberry, grapefruit and a core of lemon/lime plus tangy white peach fruits, steely mineral, a touch of hay and white tea. Drink this white over the next 3 to 5 years, this is about as good as Sancerre gets and is a lovely detailed wine.
($25 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Bedrock Wine Company, Evangelho Vineyard Heritage, Old Vines, Contra Costa County.
This wine is a true California all-star, a wine that could only be from California and tastes like it, it is a remarkable field blend of Carignane, Mourvedre, Zinfandel as well as Palomino (white), Alicante Bouschet and the Mission grape all coming from a single vineyard of own rooted vines that date back to 1890! These vines have been a source of interesting red wine since California’s big Gold Rush and or just after more than a Hundred years ago, they are living history and Bedrock’s Morgan Twain-Peterson is crafting some amazing wines from them today, especially this 2012 which he co-ferments and ages in both small and large French oak casks. This wine is sexy and juicy young, but I have to believe it will be much more intriguing when about 5 to 10 years old, and it may live past 25 years if cellared well, this is classic stuff from a super vintage. The nose is bright and fruity with crushed red berries, earthy spices, red peach and kirsch leading to a vibrant and vivid palate of mouth filling red and black fruits including raspberry, black cherry, plum and loganberry as well as a hint of minty anise, briar, baked cherry compote, cedar spice, wild game, new leather and a whiff of vanilla. At this early stage it shows a forceful fruit driven charm, but I’m interested to see what a few years brings, this is an extraordinary wine of extreme potential, I imagine it aging like a fine Bandol, regardless it is a totally thrilling California treat, drink now through 2026.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($33.95)
2007 Bartolo-Mascarello, Barolo DOCG, Piedmonte, Italy.
Absolutely sensational and gorgeous, this is near to perfection in every way, hats off to the Mascarello team, especially Maria Teresa Mascarello for making such majestic and spellbinding wines. I never thought I’d get a chance to try this wine, as the winery had to change importers, long-time importer Robert Chadderdon retired and a few vintages were caught in limbo, and now Rare Wine Company are the new importer, though they look set to start with limited amounts of the currant 2008, 2009 and 2010, but lucky for me and US fans, Kermit Lynch was able to get a few cases of the 2007, it was a one time deal from Chaddedon’s warehouse and the wines still have his import labels, it has all be confusing, though now all seems settled and we can look forward to these glorious wines again in America. The 2007 is a remarkable effort and a fantastic Barolo in everyday, the nose is deep, perfumed and complex with dried and fresh floral tones, sweet herbs, spice and delicate framboise notes add to the whole along with hints of iodine, soy, mint and tar leading to a rich palate that shows intensity and charm with red currant, damson plum, black cherry and lots of briar, licorice, mineral and cedar in the background, this is a wine of vivid personality and has a powerful presence, but with a velvety grip and controlled poise, make no mistake this wine is pure class and keeps faith with all that is held dear in the region, this wine is soulful Barolo, drink from 2014 to 2028.
($125-150 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($125)
2012 Johann Michel, Cuvee Grain Noir, Cornas Young Vines, Rhone Valley, France.
This 100% Syrah from 100% Cornas (young vines) is a beautiful cool climate Syrah with no oak at all used or needed, from a new young vigneron that looks set to make a name for himself, especially as his vines get some age on them, still I adore this cuvee and highly recommend it. Syrah lovers will rejoice in the pure essence of the grapes and sense of place found in this bright and vibrant red, Johann Michel has done himself proud, fermenting in stainless, aging in tank and allowing the wine to be a totally fresh expression of the vintage. The nose has earthy richness, plus violets, dark hues show purple and garnet colors in the glass and the palate is vivid with black cherry, plum and a core of blueberry and boysenberry with fresh cracked pepper, sea salty crusted licorice, game, forest floor and sweet and tangy herbs. If you are interested in exploring Syrah, this would be a great starting point, it is as pure and clear as it gets, and it is very tasty indeed, Drink now and for the next 2 years or so, best to enjoy young.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($19.95)
2011 Kongsgaard, Chardonnay, Napa Valley.
John Kongsgaard’s Chardonnays are legendary, and the 2011 will certainly be a huge success, and it will sell out faster than you can read this, so be sure not to blink and keep a good eye out, the latest release should be hitting the stores very soon (Nov-Dec 2013). Also check out his wonderful Albarino it might be easier to find and it is one of the best in California along with Bedrock’s version, it is a delightful white wine. The 2011 Kongsgaard Chardonnay is exotic and beautiful from start to finish with vigorous acidity, deep layers and endless finish, this is pure class leading off with white flowers, citrus oil, lemongrass and honeysuckle along with wet stones before opening in the mouth to reveal peach, apple, pear and lemon curd fruits, mineral spice, golden fig, clove and tropical essences. Finishes long and delicate, but leaving a nice sense of richness, while being alive and vibrant throughout. This wine is beautifully detailed and is sublime artisan Chardonnay, an American Grand Cru in the glass, Stunning, Drink 2014-2019.
($75-100 Est.) 94-95 Points, grapelive
2012 Pandol, Pinot Noir, Carneros.
Jenny Pandol, a tiny artisan producer, formerly of Santa Cruz has taken her winemaking talents south, residing in Ventura and her winery in Camarillo these days and looking to establish herself in the Sta Rita Hills region with next year’s release, as this year (harvest 2013) she secured 7 tons of Rita’s Crown fruit, but for 2012 she got her hands on some prime Carneros grapes and the results are stunning, continuing where she left off with the majestic 2008 Alfaro Family Vineyard Pinot she made, the new release from Carneros is a truly wonderful wine. She makes her Pandol Pinot at her Balmaseda Vineyard (Winery) in small lots, the Carneros 2012 production was only 29 Cases, or about a single barrel, so it is not an easy find and she does have a good following, so be sure to drop her a line, at around $35 her wines offer value and distinction, especially this lush and vivid Pinot. The 2012 Carneros, a dark ruby hued wine, starts with a floral rose petal note with black fruit, spice and soft wood notes, the mouth is lavish with sugar beet, plum, bing cherry and raspberry fruits with minty red licorice, lavender, cola and mocha, while hints of forest floor, cinnamon stick and vanilla play in the background in this focused and refined Pinot. This is still a baby and I look forward to watching it evolve over the next 3 to 5 years, but I am convinced there is plenty to offer even now and highly recommend this beautiful effort. There is lush layers, good grip and bright acidity, all is just where it should be, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
Avail at www.pandolwines.com
2012 De Forville Chardonnay “Ca’ dell Buc” Piedmonte, Italy.
This light to medium bodied elegant Chardonnay is a real class act, De Forville has crafted a real polished and delicious wine, hailing from the Langhe in Italy’s Piedmonte region, close to Asti and the Barbaresco zone. The 2012 Ca’ dell Buc is beautiful effort with a leading nose of white flowers, mineral tones and lemony citrus, before opening up to a palate of delicate pear, apple and citrus fruits with wet stones, golden fig, peach and a whiff of baking spices. This Chardonnay is soft and round in the mouth, but still has vibrancy and a steely edge, everything folds together very well and makes for a pleasing experience, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2009 Fratelli Brovia, Barolo DOCG “Rocche dei Brovia” Piedmonte, Italy.
A beautifully detailed, subtle and textured wine, the 2009 Brovia Rocche is a stunning and elegant Barolo with character, class and structure. While 2004, 2006 and maybe the 2008 have more sheer tannin and grip, the 2009 has grace, intrigue and seductive quality, this is a fine and captivating Barolo, especially in the shorter term, this is not a blockbuster or a wine to be lost in the cellar for a decade, this is a Nebbiolo that might be called, though Cliche, Burgundy like and haunting, and a wine to be enjoyed in it’s first decade of release, though it should prove interesting well into the second decade. Brovia is a wonderful and what I’d call an honest, transparent producer of suburb Langhe wines from Arneis to Barolo, from Dolcetto to Barbera, everything is classy and well worth taking the extra mile to find. The 2009 Brovia Barolo Rocche die Brovia is perfumed with rose petals, lavender, peppery spice and delicate mineral before opening to a palate of glorious and classic flavors with layers of tangy plum, morello cherry, raspberry and wild strawberry red fruits, tar, sweet herbs, iodine, savory salted black licorice, cedar and hints of gamey truffle, clove and fig paste. A true beauty, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($90 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2012 Bedrock, Zinfandel, Old Vine, Sonoma Valley.
Over the last few years Bedrock Wine Company has become one of the hottest wineries in California, with winemaker Morgan Twain-Peterson crafting some beautiful artisan wines, using historic old vine sites. Morgan is the son of Ravenswood’s founder Joel Peterson and his a committed believer in field blends and California’s celebrated ancient vines, his wines also reflect an artisan approach in which a light hand and the show of what nature can give when you don’t try to make a factory consistent product, his wines show transparency and every wrinkle, this makes for a unique expression of each wine, vineyard and vintage. The 2012 Old Vines Zin, Sonoma Valley is deep and intriguing wine, showing Zinfandel charms, but with much more complexity through the other black grapes in the natural mix, there is of course Zinfandel (Tribidrag-in Croatia) plus Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Petite Sirah, Lenoir and maybe Syrah and Grenache. The 2012 vintage is proving deeper, more dense and certainly more robust than either 2011 or 2010, but it still feels dynamic and focused with black raspberry, crushed wild flowers, morello cherry, plum and blueberry along with mineral tones, cedar, fig paste and cinnamon spice. This is a pure California red that seduces with character and integrity, I look forward to tasting more of Twain-Peterson’s 2012 wines and following their development over the next 5 to 10 years, these are highly entertaining and impressive examples of California’s great old vineyards.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive