Monthly Archives: April 2014

Wine of the Day April 30, 2014

2013BrocValdigue2013 Broc, Valdigue, Solano County-Green Valley.
Chris Brockway and his Broc Cellars, a micro urban winery, continue to amaze with vibrant and colorful offerings, like this delightful 2013 Valdigue, a light to medium bodied red that delivers bright flavors and energy, made from a rare French varietal that was once thought to be Gamay in California. Still this wines tastes like a Fleurie or other Cru Beaujolais a bit, so you can see why people thought this was Gamay, Valdique was for many years a blending grape, lost in obscurity for a long time, then called “Napa” Gamay, until DNA testing sorted it out and it was confirmed as Valdigue, a grape native to the wilds of southwest France. There is a few acres of Valdigue planted, mostly in Monterey County by J. Lohr, a winery that has long championed it, and a few plots in the Russian River, where Rochioli makes one of best I’ve tasted, and some in Napa itself, but they might be only on handful or a dozen bottling if that, it is pretty rare. Broc’s version is fresh and silky with good acidity and charming character showing tangy cherry, wild strawberry, sour plum and spicy raspberry fruits, hints of rose petals, mountain herbs, a touch of earth, mineral and candied orange rind. Brockway is crafting some really fun wines and this Valdigue is a great summer red, and certainly would shine at picnics and BBQ with a slight chill, drink now and over the next 2-3 years.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 29, 2014

2010MarchandEchezeaux2010 Pascal Marchand-Tawse, Echezeaux, Grand Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The Canadian Pascal Marchand continues to rise in Burgundy, he is credited with bringing Comte Armand back into the limelight and now under his own label his wines are garnering much attention and accolades, this seems very much deserved after tasting the last three vintages. Mr Marchand and Mr Tawse have now completed their takeover of the Domaine Maume estate and it will be interesting to see what Maison Marchand-Tawse does with those historic plots and I can’t wait to taste the finished wines, the first will be from the 2012 vintage, but until then we can enjoy the 2009, 2010 and 2011 wines, which are stunning, especially so is this 2010 Echezeaux Grand Cru. sitting outside the tiny village of Flagey in the Cote de Nuits, the glorious vines of Echezeaux are one of the area’s main attractions, this is Pinot Noir country and this Grand Cru remains one of the great values in Red Burgundy, while not cheap, the wines of Echezeaux are most often half the price of the other Grand Crus and in fact many Premier Cru wines fetch more these days, so if you want a great Burgundy and still want a deal, look to Echezeaux, and Marchand’s 2010 is a great place to start, it is rich, intense and wonderfully detailed. The 2010 Echezeaux starts with rose petals, wild mushrooms, red currants and elegant wood notes leading to a lush and silky palate of dense fruit, this medium weight Burgundy delivers layers of textural pleasure with raspberry, black cherry and plum along with hints of vanilla, cured meat, dried violets, tea spice and shaved fennel. There is a stony mineral essence and lush mouth feel with a long aftertaste, plus a good core of acidity bringing flavors a perfect pitch, this is super Pinot Noir, still full of vigor and youth, drink from 2016-2022.
($125-150 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 28, 2014

2012OldWineRiesling2012 Old Wine Company, Riesling, Wirz Vineyard, Old Vine, Cienega Valley.
Old Vine Company is the second label of Alfaro Family Vineyards in Corralitos, in the Santa Cruz Mountains and are from non-Estate vineyards in the greater area, mostly from old vine plots in the Cienega Valley in the Gabilan Range close to Hollister, San Benito County which borders Monterey County and not too far from the south Santa Cruz Mountains. The old vine dry Riesling 2012 from Richard Alfaro is a unique and tangy Riesling from vines planted in the early 60’s on it’s own roots, this vineyard is completely dry farmed and sits at about 1,000 feet up with granite and sandstone soils. Richard uses a bit of skin contact here, and ferments seriously dry (13% Alcohol)  leaving a rich hue of yellow/gold and adds a real savory element to this lip smacking crisp white, this is bone dry and mouth watering Riesling that shows exotic character and zesty acidity along with an almost creamy/oily feel. The nose starts with dried white roses and citrus flowers along with salted grapefruit and earthy notes leading to a tropical infused palate of verbena, lemon oil, lime, peach pit, sour tarts and kiwi with bright pineapple, mango and nectarine plus hits of sage, dusty stones and wild mint. This is fun stuff that is zippy, spicy and vigorous that finishes with a hint of peach and apple butter, drink now and over the next 6 to 8 months.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive Notes: Real Headturners!

A Couple of Special Wines for a Small Group of Friends
By Kerry Winslow

Two Headturners: Samsara Grenache and Suertes del Marques La Solana

Two Headturners: Samsara Grenache and Suertes del Marques La Solana

Sometimes it is difficult to chose a few wines to bring to an informal occasion to not impress or show up anyone else, but still wanting to provide a unique experience. I was faced with this dilemma last night, and with endless choices I came up with two gems from worlds apart, the Suertes del Marques, La Solana Vino de Parcela from the Canary Islands, and Chad Melville’s Samsara Grenache Larner Vineyard, these are very different reds, but both are super fun and tasty wines, both were 2010’s and they are both under $35 each normally on the shelf. I highly recommend both, these are stylish and thoroughly entertaining wines. I brought these two and opened them back to back, and both proved big hits with people totally unfamiliar with these labels. The Canary Island red with it’s exotic spice and earthy tones marveled the crowd and the Samsara with it’s juicy succulent character charmed everyone, needless to say both were drained with gusto within minutes, I was happy to have created interest in both labels and did so without guile or without pretense, these wines causally seduce from the very first sip!

2010 Suertes del Marques, La Solana Vino de Parcela, Tenirife Valle de la Orotava DO, Canary Islands Red, Spain. (100% Old Vine Listan Negro)
One of the most exotic and rare wines of the Canaries, the La Solana by Suertes del Marques is a masterpiece of the unique and a marvel of vigor and focus with fruit, spice, umami, mineral and textural pleasure. I adore these wines from the Canary Islands, especially the Suertes del Marques set of 7 Fuentes and this beautiful La Solana. The La Solana is racy and profound with a bouquet of dried flowers, porcini and pepper with mixed berry fruit that leads to a lively palate of spiced plum, raspberry, kirsch and currant with cayenne, grilled fennel and saline notes while warm stones, chalk and silky tannin mix in perfect harmony. This wild and natural wine is utterly seductive and has a wonderful sweet vs savory tension that heightens the pleasure factor and leaves you begging for more. This is a thought provoking and beguiling red, made from the native Listan Nergo grape, that will challenge you and keep your attention for a long time. I hope to visit the Canary Islands one day, this exotic Spanish locale is a remote island chain off the coast of Africa and home to some of the most interesting vineyards and wines from incredible volcanic soils and dramatic conditions, I’m beguiled and drawn to this place. (again getting 94/100 from me on April 26, 2014)

2010 Samsara, Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Barbara County.
The Larner Vineyard is in the new Ballard Canyon AVA, in Santa Barbara County in the Santa Ynez area and home to a fine Grenache and Syrah site, which Chad Melville uses to great effect in his Samsara label, and the 2010 vintage is a stunner. I really love what Melville is doing with all his Samsara wines, and anyone heading to the Santa Barbara wine country can find the new Samsara Tasting room in downtown Los Olivos, I can’t wait to visit, it is a must stop destination on the way to SB, be sure to check it out soon. The Samsara Pinots are fabulous too, and it is worth noted the basic Sta. Rita Hills 2012 is a steal and still readily available. While the 2010 Samsara Grenache might be a hard find, it is certainly worth searching out, there must be a few cases out there left, but not for long I’m sure, this is super sexy and tasty stuff with delicious Grenache charm and detailed layers. This juicy red mixes sweet and savory notes and spicy elements perfectly with tangy pomegranate, strawberry, boysenberry, plum and framboise along with pepper, licorice and chalky mineral notes. This is a stylish Grenache with flavors the remind you of Gigondas but still is all Californian in feel, if you want to surprise your Rhone geek friends beside to find some of this intriguing wine, it will impress no question, I did and I’m happy with the results, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. (scored about 92-93/100 on April 26, 2014)

Be sure to try this at home!

Wine of the Day April 27, 2014

2003LeovilleLasCases2003 Chateau Leoville-Las Cases, Grand Vin de Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases, Saint-Julien, Red Bordeaux, France.
Leoville Cases is a top Second Growth, one of 15 estates to make the 1855 Classification and was a much larger and renown property until the French Revolution when it was spit leaving a much smaller Chateau and gave birth to Chateaux Leoville-Poyferre and Leoville-Barton in the Haut Medoc area of Saint-Julien. The Leoville’s are in prime Cabernet territory even if there is a bit more clay than in Pauillac or Margaux and while there is a good dose of Merlot in each, they all show classic Cabernet Sauvignon character, especially Leoville-Las Cases. The 2003 vintage was blisteringly hot in France and not many people thought the wines of year would give much in the way of balance or complexity, but surprisingly there are some amazing wines, and this 2003 Leoville Las Cases is showing fantastic right now and should age marvelously well for another decade, maybe it was that clay soil that allowed the vines a bit extra hydration and added to their complexity, it is my idea anyway, but regardless of the reason, this is a stunning Bordeaux and while certainly not cheap, it is a great drinking Bordeaux offering top notch drinking pleasure and detail for what must be considered an off year price, making it a score to anyone that has it. The rich and voluptuous Leoville Las Cases Grand Vin starts with acacia and wild flowers, camphor and toasty wood notes along with dark fruits leading to a full bodied palate that feels lavish with exceptional mouth feel showing blackberry, curranty creme de cassis, mint and cherry plus stony minerals and graphite/pencil lead notes. Everything is held with firm ripe tannins giving some grip to this plumy and powerful wine. Remarkably there is no porty notes or is it flabby, it is starting to fill out, but still remains fresh and vigorous with vivid and vibrant detail, finishing with earthy loam, anise, vanilla/cinnamon, cedar, mulberry and gravel, and while I don’t give much time or thought to Bordeaux these days, this wine got my attention and reminded me of how good some of these wines truly are, this a joyous wine that has plenty of time left and can be enjoyed now, lucky those that have it in their cellar, no question.
($168-200 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 26, 2014

2010PaxGriffin2010 Pax, Syrah, Griffin’s Lair, Sonoma Coast.
Pax is back, the famed cult Rhone style wine label Pax is back and being made by it’s founder Pax Mahle, who after some strange days and style changes has brought back his impressive lineup of wines from top sites that showcase his amazing talents with Syrah and the other Rhone varietals. The 2010 vintage marks his come back after almost 5 years without his Pax wines, though he was never without interesting offerings and his Wind Gap wines remain in force and show his gifted touch with lighter style wines and allow delicious experimentation in fermentations and varietals. For awhile, Pax rivaled Alban for top Syrah, these wines were full bore and amazing rich, but Pax like Wells Guthrie at Copain had a change of heart about how he wanted his wines to taste and age, so dialed back and is now going after finessed wines, more high toned and fresh with lower natural alcohols. Instead of dry port like wines with 15 or 16% on average his new Syrah wines clock in at about 13% to 14%, but still retain loads of character and flavor, this are not weak or meek in anyway, in fact they seem much more impressive and complex than in the past. The 2010 Gfiffin’s Lair Syrah by Pax weighs in at 13.5% and feels rich and vigorous on the palate with a dense core of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and damson plum fruit along with Northern Rhone like elements including camphor, white pepper, bacon grease, tarry licorice and flinty pebbles. The wine opens to reveal added layers that show cassis, violets and porcini notes with a lovely play of sweet and savory, this is a very entertaining and pretty Syrah, drink now through 2021, welcome home Mr Mahle, we celebrate the return of Pax.
($64 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 25, 2014

2010PapapietroPerryElsbreePN2010 Papapietro Perry, Pinot Noir, Elsbree Vineyard, Russian River Valley.
Wow, the 2010 Papapietro Perry Elsbree has really blossomed and is now fabulous and one of the best 2010’s I’ve had from the region, it shows beautiful detail and richness, but still has a good life force of freshness, this is what we all had hoped in 2010 wines, and here it is. This is a good Omen as to what the vintage has to offer, a cool year, and slowly developing in bottle, it looks like they can gain depth, poise and certainly character and aromatics as found in this bottling of Papapietro Perry. The Elsbree is one of those old school Russian River site that has part of the vineyard planted to old Zinfandel vines and other parts with Pinot Noir and for a freak of nature, for some reason, it works, very unique for sure. The 2010 Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Elsbree starts with intense floral tones, including dark violets, wild flowers and rose petal, earthy spice and loam, and sweet kirsch plus a hint of game leading to a full, but vibrant palate of black cherry, blueberry and plum fruits with a dose of raspberry and cola bean mid palate along with smoky wood, anise, vanilla and tea spices. There is great vigor and supple tannins holding things together, though everything flows smoothly and the finish is long and glorious, this is pure Russian River Pinot that delivers everything you’d expect, it is in league with Rochioli and Williams Selyem and of that style, and while slightly out of fashion these days (being so deep and full) it is a great wine to enjoy now.
($67 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 24, 2014

2012Altaroses2012 Joan d’Anguera, Altaroses, Granatxa Fina de Darmos, Montsant D.O. Spain.
A few years back Joan d’Anguera converted to 100% biodynamic farming, changed the winemaking to bring out terroir and restraint and focused on the details in a truly artisan way, and it has paid off with huge rewards, the wines are charming, full of flavor and have a sense of place, these are wonderful wines that show Montsant perfectly in the glass. The Joan d’Anguera wines are some of the finest values in hand crafted Spanish wine, no question and they are just getting better and better, especially their lovely Altaroses Granatxa, a seriously delicious red from old vines. This adorable and stylish Grenache cuvee flows with silky grace across the palate with vivid layers of black and red fruits, spice, mineral and texture, this is pleasure filled experience from start to finish. The nose shows floral essences with hints of wild flowers, dried roses and lavender along with garrigue, minty sage, cracked pepper and raspberry leading to a full mouth of blackberry, plum, lush cherry and wild strawberry while in the background you find a mix of sweet and savory herbs and allspice, chalk, dusty earth, hints of game and licorice. The wine deepens in the glass, but remains lively and focused leaving a long fruit filled aftertaste, drink now and between 2014-2020, it is stupidly good right now, no need to wait.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at ($16.95)

Wine of the Day April 23, 2014

2012FtRossPN2012 Fort Ross, Pinot Noir, Sea Slopes, Fort Ross Vineyard, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast.
Made by Jeff Pisoni, former winemaker at Peter Michael and of course the Pisoni and Lucia wines from his family’s great estate vineyards, the Fort Ross Sea Slopes is great value in Sonoma Coast Pinot with luxurious flavors and textures with deep color and harmony. The 2012 is fresh and delightful now, though has stuffing to age up to 7 years or so, it shows rich raspberry, cherry and juicy plum fruits, mocha, spice, anise and vanilla add complexity. This win eery is on a roll and the wines are just getting better and better, I would think with the quality and talent on hand there is potential for Fort Ross to rival the likes of Peay, Littorai, Hirsch and the rest out here on the wild Sonoma Coast, though they are pretty close now, especially with these 2012 wines. Look for this 2012 Sea Slopes to gain complexity, density and terroir character over the next year or two in bottle, best to wait a bit, even though it is showing well now and the impact on the palate is pretty impressive, there is more to come, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


avail at ($32.95)

Wine of the Day April 22, 2014

2012GrochauPN2012 Grochau Cellars, Pinot Noir, Cuvee Commuter, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
A brand new label for me, the Grochau Cellars is a fine and very worthy discovery and the Cuvee Commuter 2012 Pinot a fun and delicious wine. As I’ve mentioned, the vintage 2012 is going to be a huge deal in Oregon, it is looking to be one of the best ever and these are some super wines. Grochau’s talents and gifted touch are on display in this ready to quaff Pinot, and while this is not his most serious offering it certainly makes a great impression and has a lovely impact on the palate with rich and fresh flavors, bright acidity and silky tannins. Layers of juicy black cherry, plum, raspberry, cranberry, blueberry and strawberry fruits, hints of herbs, tea, mineral and warm earth all play roles in this easy wine. Look for it to mellow nicely over the next three years, but enjoy it young, I think it is ready to go as we speak. Be sure to look for the Grochau Cellars wines, they are going to be a very savvy and rewarding find, now and in the future.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive