Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wine of the Day July 31, 2014

2001DunnNapaMag2001 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
The 2001 Dunn Napa Cabernet was stunning from Magnum and is close to perfection, this wine has to be one of my favorite vintages and wow is it drinking well. 2001 was a fairly tannin filled year and some of these wines needed some cellar time, but now, they are just fantastic, I still remember having 2001 Harlan and thinking it was one of the greatest wines I’ve ever had, and I can tell you the Dunn Napa is not far off, even though it is not as flamboyant in style. I usually like the Howell Mountain better at Dunn, though I do not feel in 2001 there is much of a gap between the pair from this iconic winery based on Napa Valley’s glorious Howell Mountain. Randy Dunn is a hall of fame selection and is one of the all time great California winemakers and he has quietly become a lower alcohol leader, he has always spun out natural alcohol that he deemed too high, and it is rare to see a Dunn Cab over the 14%, he is a firm and true believer in balance and making a wine that can age. For me Dunn and Diamond Creek, plus Ridge Monte Bello are the standards needed in any cellar collection of great California Cabernets with many of these wines from the 80’s and early 90’s still drinking as well as any First Growth or better. I was able to access the 2001 Dunn Napa from a big bottle, and a bottle that had been opened a full 24 hours and it was rock solid and fresh from first sip to the last, this wine is spectacular with a dark garnet and purple hue and a lightly floral nose with a faint whiff of smoke, tea spice and black currant leading to a full palate of opulent black, blue and red fruits, sweet tobacco leaf, licorice and cedar notes. This is pure and deep Cabernet with a lingering finish that has some dusty plum, cherry and creme de cassis on the amazing aftertaste. This wine has many years left, especially in bottle format bottles, but anyone that owns it should drink a bottle of two now to see just how wonderful it is, and benefit from the rewards of patience, this is a great great wine, drink now through 2020.
($160-200 Est. 1.5L Magnum) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 30, 2014

2012Hobo2012 Hobo Wine Company, Zinfandel, Branham Vineyard, Rockpile AVA, Sonoma County.
Small lot hand crafted wines are what Hobo Wine Company is all about and this Branham Vineyard Zinfandel is great example of what they do best. The grapes come from the Branham vines in the Rockpile area, one of Sonoma’s top Zinfandel sites near Lake Sonoma north of Dry Creek. This is California’s hottest and most fashionable Zin AVA these days with a great mix of climate, exposure and rocky soils this is prime Zinfandel country and an almost guarantee of quality in the bottle. The Hobo Rockpile is lush, richly textured and dark hued with black raspberry, framboise and plum upfront with minty spice, cinnamon and cedar adding zest. This is ripe, but balanced at 14.1% alcohol and highlights the vintage very well, but is not over the top and offers a stylish complexity and elegance even to this entertaining wine, drink 2014-2018.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($23.95)

Wine of the Day July 29, 2014

2012DragonettePN2012 Dragonette Cellars, Pinot Noir, Fiddlestix Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
This is serious stuff, stem inclusion and full of flavor this new Dragonette Fiddlestix is rich, but comes across austere and fashionably Burgundian slash new wave Californian. The unique clonal choices at Kathy Joseph’s Fiddlestix Vineyard and it’s sandy terroir give the wines depth, color and a spicy character, all showing in force here in this vintage and are keenly highlighted by winemaker Brandon Sparks-Gillis, a talent you are going to hear more about over the coming years, this is a talented guy that is exploring the envelop in the Santa Barbara/Sta. Rita Hills region of California’s cool climate Central Coast. The latest Fiddlestix, the 2012 starts with blackberry, cherry and wild plum fruits on the nervy palate with dried flowers, green and black spices, cinnamon and cedary wood notes, everything feels energy filled with good acidic structure and chalky tannins. There is a lot more to come from this wine, best to allow another year in bottle, drink from 2015 to 2019.
($55 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($53.95)

Wine of the Day July 28, 2014

2012RidgeGeyserville2012 Ridge, Geyserville, Proprietary Red, Sonoma County.
An American classic, no question and one of the better vintages for Geyserville in the last decade, do not miss this Ridge beauty. Geyersville is a Zinfandel cuvee featuring 71% Zin, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, 2% Mataro (an old timers name for Mourvedre) and 1% Alicante Bouschet aged in American air dried white oak barrels and with 14.4% alcohol. This year’s Geyserville is a big wine, it is dense, deep with an explosion of flavors with a hedonistic mouth feel, very lavish and yet still well balanced with good focus and vigor, very unlike the last three or so vintages which had weather issues that were tough on Zinfandel with uneven ripeness making for some ups and downs, while this 2012 is a reflection of the near perfect growing conditions for the grapes. This wine is sweet and savory, structured, gorgeous and pleasing from start to finish with refined tannins, good soft acidity and deep fruit layers really show here with full bodied density and a long finish making this Ridge Geyserville a huge success. Starting with subtle floral element, cassis and cedar notes this red opens to raspberry, cherry, plum and loganberry fruits with a light char, fig paste, briar, vanilla, licorice and peppery spice. Ridge is a fantastic winery and this new Geyserville is amazing stuff, drink over the next decade, though I can imagine it holding up for 15 to 20 years no problem.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($37.95)

Wine of the Day July 27, 2014

2010KivelstadtSyrah2010 Kivelstadt, Syrah, The Inheritance, Kivelstadt Vineyard, Sonoma Valley.
Jordan Kivelstadt has made wine all over the world, including Margret River Australia and Mendoza Argentina as well as being a big part of Kenneth Juhasz (Donum Estate and Auteur) winemaking team, and has started his own family label Kivelstadt Cellars in recent vintages. The 2010 Syrah is 100% organically grown estate Syrah with about 30% whole cluster, fermented with all native yeast and aged 18 months in all French oak of which 30% was new, it is nice and stemmy with loads of spice, black olive notes and is northern Rhone in style, similar to St. Joseph with pretty details, meaty character and violet floral highlights. 2010 was a year that was tight and shy to begin with, but as of now things are more flamboyant and very charming with this Kivelstadt really showing great with blackberry, blueberry compote, currant/cassis, bacon, fennel/anise, smoky camphor, olive tapenade, cracked peppercorn and kirsch. Everything is folding together nicely and the grippy tannins are getting smoother with each taste, drink from 2014 to 2020.
($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive


avail at ($36.95)

Wine of the Day July 26, 2014

2011DrHeydenSilvaner2011 Weingut Dr. Heyden, Silvaner Trocken, Alte Reben, Rheinhessen.
Here is a steal, an Old Vine Silvaner from the Rheinhessen for under $15, this is intense and interesting stuff with good character and depth. Dr. Heyden is a fairly new winery, started by Herr Doctor Karl Heyden in 1999 and is located in Oppenheim, in the Nierstein region, an area known for quality. The Estate is run by Karl’s son Frank, who also makes the wines, they produce a big selection of offerings from Pinot Noir to sparkling, of course mostly Riesling, but I found this Silvaner Alte Reben the most interesting. The 2011 is ripe, being from a warm vintage and is well crafted, they used stainless steel in the fermentation process then aged it in large oak cask, giving the wine a rich detail and a golden hue with nice vigor, cut and length. The Dr. Heyden Silvaner flows with key lime, peach, nectarine and kumquat with an almost Riesling feel showing a firm acid profile and mineral essence along with flinty spice and savory elements, this is crisp, taught and dry Silvaner at it’s value priced best! This is certainly a wine to enjoy now, but can age another few years easy, also this is a wine that is often found while traveling in Germany, at around six Euros and on wine lists at local restaurants in the Rhine region, this is nice juice and a fun wine from a charming family run estate.
($13 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 25, 2014

2011VajraNebbiolo2011 G.D. Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
It has been amazing to see the rise in the Vajra wines since 2007, this is one of the best wineries in the region and their Barolo wines are absolutely gorgeous, but there is also a grand array of other wines in Vajra’s portfolio, including some great Barbera, Riesling and Freisa, plus and especially this wonderful Langhe Nebbiolo DOC. Giuseppe Vajra, third generation winemaker, is crafting some of the most delectable wines in Piedmonte and certainly if you haven’t yet tried his wines, you are missing out and really need to experience them, and soon. The Vajra wines are traditional, but are amazingly clear and detailed with a deft touch and careful patience, these wines are reflections of their vineyards and show glorious transparency and terroir. The 2011 Nebbiolo is from the Vajra Barolo holdings and is a rich mouthful of pure Nebbiolo with a silky tannin profile and charming character, this is a made to be enjoyed young wine and there’s depth and ripe fruit to please anyone. Maybe this is not a tuesday night wine, but a good value non the less, a perfect weekend wine and a nice baby Barolo to enjoy with friends and or family, there is lots to love here, this is a sexy and stylish red, be sure to search this out. The 2011 G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo starts with a subtle bouquet of dried roses, mineral, iodine, kirsch and fennel notes leading to a generous palate of damson plum, soy, raspberry and cherry along with black licorice, mint tea, lavender, there is a nice rush of acidity and vigor with a hint of citrus rind, red peach flesh adding freshness and a cheesy/meaty element. Look for a similar to Barolo secondary layer of flavors to develop over the next few years in bottle, though I would be hard pressed to have extra bottles left in the cellar it is so delicious all ready, but it should age nicely over the coming 3 to five years.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day July 24, 2014

2012GroundworkMourvedre2012 Groundwork, Mourvedre, Paso Robles by Sans Liege.
Curt Schalchlin is an army of one and he is making some delicious wines, under both his flagship label Sans Liege and his value label Groundworks, with most of his wines coming from vineyards in Santa Barbara and westside Paso Robles. The latest Groundwork red is this 2012 Mourvedre from Paso Robles, this is a rich and decadent wine with ripe and dense layers of dark fruit, pepper, leather and liqueur. This is a lot of wine for the money showing blackberry, blueberry, plum sauce, mint jelly, cherry and creme de cassis along with hints of earth, lavender, fig paste and sandalwood. Don’t miss this mouth filling Mourvedre, it pleases completely and lingers on the aftertaste, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive


avail at ($19.95)

Wine of the Day July 23, 2014

2010IFavati2010 I Favati, Cretarossa, Aglianico, Irpinia Campi Taurasini DOC, Campania, Italy.
From a tiny 5 acre plot near Avellino in the Venticano San Mango the Cretarossa vineyard provides glorious Aglianico for I Favati’s Irpinia Campi Taurasini DOC in Italy’s Campania region. This 100% Aglianico, often called the “Barolo of the South”, is bold, robust and earthy with dusty cherry, balsamic/soy, iron, strawberry, plum, game (animale), tarry elements and wild herbs unfolding on the earthy palate. Grown on clay and volcanic soils this red shows firm tannins and vigor, but with plenty of poise and a graceful finish, I Favati has done a masterful job of crafting this eye opening Aglianico, certainly an Italian wine to look for. 2010’s perfect conditions helped and while Aglianico is known to age, this is especially well balance and should go a good long time, though I really enjoy it’s freshness and would be hard pressed to leave it too long in the cellar, drink now through 2020.
($26 Est) 92 Points, grapelive


avail at ($24.95)

Wine of the Day July 22, 2014

2013vonWinningUngeheuerGG2013 Von Winning, Riesling, Ungeheuer, Grosses Gewachs, Pfalz, Germany.
I think Stefan Attmann might be the greatest winemaker you’ve never heard of and his von Winning wines are some of the best in the world, period, that’s it, especially his Grosses Gewachs Rieslings, which on are on par with the top Grand Cru Burgundy producers, like Laflaive, Lafon, William Fevre or California producers like Marcassin, Aubert and Kistler. Recently I tasted through von Winning’s cask samples of 2013 wines with Andreas Hutwohl, who was lengthy and patient with me in explaining the vineyards and techniques used by the estate to make such amazing and mind-blowing wines. The 2013 wines were thrilling expressions of dry, intense Riesling and while the Grand Cru Pechstein may end up being 100 Point perfection, certainly the 2011 and 2012 were close, I adored the Ungeheuer best at this stage and maybe that is because, like Terry Theise suggested, it might be feeling a tad riper in style, but regardless this wine is pure sex in a bottle and ultra classy from start to finish. I have mentioned before, von Winning is inspired by the Burgundians and there is long lees contact and the Grosses Gewachs spend time in French barrique, but they remain as German as German can be, think of the German world cup soccer team, power, poise, control, playing the world game and winning it all, that is how you can relate to this majestic wine. The 2013 Ungeheuer Grosses Gewachs starts with stony mineral, brioche, citrus flower and tropical notes leading to a layered and lush palate of lemon, minty lime, apricot, peach and almost a cherry taste along with clove, salted caramel, grapefruit, green banana and mango all wrapped in cedary wood, brisk acidity and Chablis like steely mouth feel. This is totally gorgeous rich Riesling Trocken, seductive, exotic and haunting, again this wine is as good as any Puligny or Corton-Charlemagne, and I must point out that the price reflects that, while not cheap, it is a top value in this class of wine, the quality level is insane, von Winning is a winery to be on your bucket list, and you can’t go wrong with this 2013 Ungeheuer Grand Cru which should be available this coming winter. Without question, this glorious Riesling will be better on release than this cask sample, and it will continue to gain over the coming years, drink anytime, but you should know it will age fantastic with a 15 to 20 year drinking window!
($65 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive