Monthly Archives: February 2014

Wine of the Day February 18, 2014

2012SpreitzerRosengartenGG2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling, Lenchen “Rosengarten” Grosses Gewächs, Rheingau Germany.
Spreitzer’s Grand Cru dry Rosengarten Riesling is simply beautiful, this crystalline and dreamscape inducing wine is remarkably detailed and elegant with purity and finesse. I adore the Rosengarten in 2012, and while all the Spreitzer wines rate high in this vintage, this Grosses Gewachs from Lenchen in the Rheingau is showing stunning form in it’s youth, Andreas and Bernd Spreitzer deserve high praise indeed for their fantastic efforts and craftsmanship in the cellar as well as nature in the vines, this really is special and heavenly Riesling. For sure the 2012 wines will go down as classic and they will age, and how, these wines have a long happy life ahead, especially this Rosengarten, it shows amazing delicacy and grace, but everything is there for glorious rewards to be found in a decade or so, if you have the patience of course, I certainly wish I could wait, but it would be difficult as this gorgeous wine just rocks even now. The 2012 Rosengarten Grand Cru from Spreitzer starts with a bouquet of citrus blossom, white rose petal, steely mineral and a touch of flint, this leads to a wondrous and refined palate of tangerine, kiwi, lime and green apple fruits with bright tang, wet stones, hints of brine and loamy earth notes. Look for gaining evolution from this dry beauty over the next few years in bottle with tropical essences and more stone fruit to come out, as they were just beginning to come forward with air, this wine changes and expands in the glass, this stuff is addictive and seductive from start to finish. This wine coming from Loam and Loess soils in distinct and very different from the wines of Rudesheim down river and has maybe a bit less ruggedness, spice or vigor, but even so it is full of vivid flavors, fruit and intensity, and of the two Grand cur (Grosses Gewachs) this is the more feminine and strikingly pretty, this wine certainly deserves lots of attention, I highly recommend grabbing some of the Spreitzer 2012 vintage wines, and without question this Rosengarten GG it is lovely and awesome, drink from 2016-2028.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 17, 2014

2010MiuraPisoni2010 Miura, Pinot Noir, Pisoni Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Miura’s Emmanuel Kemiji was one of the first high profile Master Sommelier to turn vintner, now you have your Rajat Parr MS at Sandhi and Evening Land and Sarah Floyd MS with Luli, and a few others. Kemiji’s wines have always a great mix of talent and terroir, especially his Miura Pisoni and Garys’ Pinots, but he also makes a sublime set of Spanish wines and I have always loved his Syrah wines that are made under his Antiqv2s label, these also have fruit sourced from Pisoni and Garys’ Vineyards. Emmanuel Kemiji’s membership to the Court of Master Sommeliers has made him shy on wanting full flavored and rich wines, all the wines he produces are lavish and showy wines, but they are certainly balanced and in my own experience age well, I recently uncovered a few Miura and Antiqv2s wines from 2001 and 2002 in my cellar and found them extremely beautiful and vibrantly fresh. I’ve been lucky to have had Miura, and Kemiji’s other wines since he first started, and he has always had the talents of Byron Kosuge as his consulting winemaker, this consistency and the access to great fruit has always been a major plus, these are wonderful wines. Emmanuel and Siduri’s Adam Lee where two of the first clients of the famed Pisoni Vineyard and were among an elite set of vintners to get these grapes, they also helped convince Gary Pisoni to make his own wines. The Miura 2010 Pinots are both terrific and classic wines from these two Cru sites in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the Pisoni might have the edge early, but the Garys’ is also a stunner. The Miura Pisoni starts with a heady nose of fruit, flowers, earth and mineral with violets, cassis and bramble leading to a glorious palate of blackberry, plum, raspberry and a dense core of black cherry fruit along with smoky oak notes, briar, cinnamon stick, wild herbs, anise and loamy truffle notes. This wine is deep and packed with layers of detail and flavor, still vivid, tight and lively with vitality and vigor, good acidity, silky tannins and a long hedonistic finish all make for a perfectly delicious Pinot Noir of class and distinction, in a pure Pisoni charmer, flamboyant, but without question a gorgeous wine. Drink this rewarding Pinot over the next decade, best from 2016 to 2022.
($63 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 16, 2014

VilmartRubisN.V. Vilmart e Cie. Cuvee Rubis Brut Rose Premier Cru Champagne, a Rilly la Montagne, France.
The latest release of Vilmart’s Cuvee Rubis is terrific, Laurent Champs is making some of the finest and most sought after wines in Champagne. Since 1989 Laurent has been been the head of this wonderful Champagne house, he is the fifth generation to run the family business and has certainly left a historic mark. Vilmart is basically totally organic, and while not certified biodynamic, he practices sustainable viticulture and is a member of Ampelos, he has never used harmful herbicides or chemicals in the vineyards, his holdings include 11 hectares with 60% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier, he only makes estate based wines, and only makes around 8,000 cases. He magic is the use of fantastic small yielding fruit and ultra fine craftsmanship in the cave, his style is similar to Krug, with the use of wood, every cuvee sees at least 10 months in cask and on the lees. This makes for depth, richness and texture as well as exotic flavors and aging potential, Champs considers himself a vintner first and foremost, each wine is lovingly created, he is a master of the blend and his wines are both powerful expressions and unbelievably detailed, elegant throughout. The Cuvee Rubis is a blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay and included a few recent vintages and lots of wine, this new release was disgorged in July of 2013 and is still very young and tight, but without question a glorious wine, I still believe this is the best and most interesting Champagne under a $100, in fact it is better than most up to $200 and beyond. The Vilmart Rubis Rose is rich, entertaining and has a super long finish, the nose is staggeringly beautiful with perfume, toast, yeasty notes and mineral tones, this Champagne has a dynamic Pinot Noir character, in fact as mentioned before you can almost smell Cru Burgundy in the glass, I have more than once closed my eyes and imagined Musigny was filling my senses in this wine, while the palate is pure Champagne at it’s best with precision and lazar like focus with hints of strawberry, lemon, leesy notes, bioche, vanilla and rich currants, along with a touch of fig, spice and chalky stones with a seriously joyous mousse, the Champagne is vivid, vibrant, racy, sexy and polished. You can’t get much better than this, drink over the next decade or more, overtime I taste Vilmart I’m even more impressed with what I find.
($95 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 15, 2014

2010LesChampsFourne2010 Francois Tardy, Les Champs Fourne, Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France.
This super tasty Syrah from Francois Tardy is a lovely wine and even better value, giving pure terroir and Northern Rhone character in a generous style with panache. Tardy’s Les Champs Fourne, which means warm field, is a tongue in cheek name playing off the more famous Cote-Rotie, the roasted slope, but while the humor brings a smile, the wine brings an even greater joy and is very rewarding with good depth and alluring details. The bouquet comes to life in the glass where you experience violets, black currants, pepper and gamey earth notes before a vibrant almost meaty palate of blueberry, cassis, boysenberry and tangy damson plum fruits entice, then there is the background complexities of black olives, salted licorice, chalky stones, grilled herbs, cracked pepper, leather and wild mushrooms. This vivid Syrah has plenty of stuffing and fine balance with bright acidity and polished tannins, though in Crozes tradition it still has a slight raw edge and is at it’s best with food, drink this well crafted wine over the next 3 to 5 years.
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at ($18.95)

Wine of the Day February 14, 2014

2010TempePB2010 Marc Tempe, Pinot Blanc, Zellenberg, Alsace, France.
The Marc Tempe, all biodynamic, 2010 Zellenberg Pinot Blanc is absolutely gorgeous and just might be the best Pinot Blanc I’ve ever had, and I highly recommend grabbing this beauty up when you see it. Tempe is a very shy individual and has totally dedicated his life to making the finest wines from all organic vineyard sites, he is very much a believer in biodynamics and was inspired by the famed Nicholas Joly who is the father of modern biodynamic winemaking from the Loire Valley and like Joly, Tempe believes nature and terroir make wine. The lineup of 2010 Tempe wines showcases his mastery or most precisely the great terroir and the nature that come out in his wines, the Zellenberg whites are all stunning and glorious in finesse and detail, especially this spellbinding 2010 Zellenberg Pinot Blanc. Marc Tempe’s Pinot Blanc starts with incredible intensity and never stops impressing from nose to finish, it has soul, class and character not usually found to this degree in this varietal with an extra dimension of flavor and structure on par with Grand Cru class wines found in Alsace, it really sings a sirens song. The nose has a mineral laced bouquet of wet stones, crystallized honeycomb, orange and steely leading to a layered palate of green apple, sizzling citrus and white peach along with hints of wild honey, earth, subtle clove, melon and tropical notes. This fine Pinot Blanc shines and opens to reveal depth and texture, but always stays taught, there is no soft/flabbiness to be seen, it is a very controlled effort. Without question this wine has a good life ahead of it, but I certainly think it is fantastic now, it has style and substance that makes for a wonderful experience, this dry, but generous white will provide much pleasure with a wide range of cuisines from picnic fare to pan-asian exotic menus, from ham to chow mien, I imagine myself drinking it with speck, that delectable applewood smoked cured prosciutto, or flammkuchen that savory Alsatian pizza or tart flambée in French. This wine is the real deal, drink now through 2022, bravo to Marc Tempe and to the nature and terroir of Zellenberg!
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 13, 2014

2012ForadoriFontanasanta2012 Foradori, Manzoni Bianco “Fontanasanta” Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Trentino, Italy.
Another smash hit for Elisabetta Foradori, the new 2012 Fontanasanta is a stunning white that marries ancient style with modern hedonism with savory and mineral elements bursting from the glass along with pure vibrant fruit. Foradori’s amphora raised white that sees extended skin contact is one of the most successful and charming of this style wine available, it is unique for an almost “Orange” wine to be so clear, vivid and fresh in character and shows the deft touch and the obvious talent in the winemaking. Manzoni Bianco is a native Hybrid varietal, it is a cross between Pinot Blanc and Riesling, it was created in the 1930’s by Professor Luigi Manzoni, and of all the developed grapes he created the Manzoni Bianco looks to have been the most celebrated, it is a hardy varietal that resists rot and disease, with the benefit of early ripening which helps in this cool region. Foradori is the best wine made from this unique varietal that I’ve uncovered, and I think most experts tend to agree, this is fantastic wine and all natural, hand crafted with distinct character. The skin contact and aging in Spanish clay pots gives a golden yellow hue, bright intensity and grippy personality, this is serious wine from start to finish with orange blossoms, crushed gravelly stones, chalk, salted lemon, grapefruit, peach and tart apple and skin notes as well as all spice, seaweed and steely mineral. There is a touch of earthy loam, apricot and white flowers too, finishing with hints of tangerine and a dry tannin note, what is remarkable and intriguing is there is no oxidative funkiness or off aromas, this wine is refined and dynamic to the core, while still complex and wild, I’m most definitely hooked, drink from 2014 to 2020.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 12, 2014

2011AlfredoMaestroLaVinuela2011 Alfredo Maestro, La Viñuela, Chinchon, Madrid, Spain.
The rare and exotic La Vinuela Tempranillo by Alfredo Maestro is a supreme effort coming from Madrid area of middle Spain, this tiny micro climate puts huge stresses on the vines and is a very demanding spot for winemakers, but Maestro shows will over nature to craft such a beautiful and elegant wine. This arid region makes it difficult to keep acidity and fresh flavors, making this effort all that much more remarkable and shows the real talent on display, as this red gives nothing but graceful layers, life and balance even in a warm to hot vintage. Alfredo Maestro has risen to challenge here and put forth a terrific wine, the La Vinuela is a refined and alluring wine, it shows a dusty red berry, dried flowers and mineral in the bouquet and has smooth ripe tannins providing a firm but silky texture and structure with layers of flavor and a wonderful lengthy finish. The palate shows blackberry, blueberry, tangy plum and vivid cherry and raspberry fruits along side warm earth, anise seed, sweet and salty notes, new leather, sandalwood, spiced cedar, toffee and lingering liqueur. This medium weight and darkly hued wine pleases all the senses and it easy to get lost in, drink from 2014 to 2020, these latest releases from Maestro his best to date and merit extra attention, I highly recommend searching out his wines they are unique and natural expressions of both his talents and the interesting terrors he finds.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 11, 2014

1980Giacosa1980 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco, Santo Stefano di Neive, Piedmonte, Italy.
Some days are just better than others, and I must say I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers and friends alike, for the other night I braved the rains and trains to surprise visit my my Peter Steiner at Corso in Berkeley, where he is the manager of this fun and delicious Italian bistro. Peter makes for a comforting and sharing host, the staff and patrons are equally gracious and engaging, and tonight that was in the extreme when I was handed a glass of 1980 Giacosa Barbaresco, and as well as a William Fevre Grand Cru Chablis, just because I was in the wine business, I really like this place! As per normal, the food and service at Corso was excellent, the wet evening went on with lots of smiles, but I am still dreaming of that amazing 1980 Giacosa. The 1980 Bruno Giacosa, Barbaresco Santo Sefano di Neive, from a private cellar in Berkeley, it still had original $15 price sticker, was in fine condition with shocking youthful color with only a very slight orange rim to the ruby core and this wine was very much alive and in wonderful shape. The nose was mature with dried roses, mineral and game, but a vivid red fruit essence remained constant, leading to a palate of old school charm in this refined and perfectly aged beauty with cherry, balsamic strawberry, earthy loam, rustic leather and hints of anise and poached plum. The texture was ultra satin/silky and while still vibrant and clear had a nice roundness and creamy feel only an old Nebbiolo can produce. Giacosa is one of the Grand marques of Italy, these wines are sublime and exceptionally rare, I am in awe of them, my past experiences with 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2004 vintages proved life changing, these are on par with the finest Burgundies, so it was absolutely thrilling to taste this 1980 Barbaresco, and I must thank my lucky stars to be at the right place at the right time, and of course that place is Corso in Berkeley and my friend Peter Steiner that makes magic there. On a final note while this wine may have peaked years back, the Giacosa 1980 showed no real decay and could go another few years easy, but I’d say drink now, it is lovely and joyous based on this well cared for bottle.
($15 when released, $100-200 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 10, 2014

2011EnvinateTA2011 Envinate, T. Amarela, Parcela Valdemedel Elaborado en Badajox, Extremadura, Spain.
The grape Tinta Amarela is one of the Port grapes and is widely planted in the southern part of Portugal, though it is rarely found in Spain itself, it makes for a rich and complex wine. This wine comes from Badajox in Extremadura Spain, a south-western part of the country, land locked and bordered by Portugal to the west, so it is not terribly surprising to find this grape here, though I can tell you it is very uncommon to find it as a single varietal wine and especially as a Spanish one, this was my first experience tasting it and research proved much more difficult, but I did learn of the grapes heritage and use in some Port wines and that it is a fickle vine that easily rots, so great care must be used to get successful results and that Tinta Amarela, also known as Trincadeira, does well in these dry warm regions, making a wine of deep color and complexity. The Envinate range of wines is interesting, the winery is a brainchild of four friends that met in viniculture school in Alicante, who all make wine in different regions from Northern Spain to the Canary Islands, they are lead by Laura Ramos and include Jose Martinez, Alfonso Torrente and Tenerife native Roberto Santana who’s Canary Island wines at Suertes del Marqués are really turning some heads, and of which I’m a huge fan of personally. The Envinate (meaning “Do Wine Yourself”) wines are very limited to say the least, and this T. Amarela is a beautiful red wine with deep color and flavors done in a wonderfully elegant and very artisanal in style, showing unique terroir driven flavors and lovely transparency. The 2011 Envinate T. Amarela starts with dried roses and wild flowers, juicy plum, sweet mountain herbs, red berries and currants leading to a medium full palate of blackberry, red peach, tangy cherry and star anise along with warm stones, hosin and dusty earth. There is hints of leather, red spice and the texture is caressing helping to lengthen the finish which lingers with blue and black fruits. I must say I’m very intrigued and impressed, I would enjoy tasting all of their offerings and recommend finding their exotic wines, like this very compelling rarity, drink now and for the next 3 to 5 years.
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day February 9, 2014

2010JobardMP2010 Domaine Antoine Jobard, Meursault-Poruzots, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
This is a seriously chiseled Meursault, unbelievably firm and lean with sizzling acidity and powerful, just as Jobard wanted and dreamed of I’m sure. This golden nectar will surly need a decade to unfold all of it’s charm and unleash it’s potential, but that all being said and true, this fine and masterful Chardonnay is glorious with exceptional purity, focus, drive and terroir, this could be only Meursault Poruzots and certainly this vintage is completely on show, with Jobard’s signature style. This mineral laced beauty maybe the Ice Queen at the moment, but the extract, detail and length are all there, I love the energy and force on display even now, it shows wet stones, lemon, pear and subtle fig along with matchstick, hazelnuts and clove spice. Even decanting hardly got this tight and vivid Meursault to open, this is dynamic wine and as much as I begged it, it will require the ultimate in patience, though the rewards will be stunning, no question, everything is there like a treasure just out of reach for now. A few years back, I was able to sample a selection of Jobard wines with 10-12 years of age on them, and they were glorious and still very vibrant and youthful, so be sure to lock these puppies away, and to those that do, well, lucky you, these will be wonderful surprises in time, I can only imagine, and be sure to have a Lobster around! Drink from 2018 to 2024, for those that adore classic white Burgs, this wine would be a great investment in future pleasures.
($120 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


avail at ($119)