N.V. Viticoltori De Conciliis, Selim, Vino Spumante Brut, Campania, Italy.
The sexy and beautiful Brut Vino Spumante da Tavola by De Conciliis is made from 55% Aglianico, 35% Fiano, 10% Barbera in a classic Blanc de Noirs style, and is named Selim after the Miles Davis song, where Miles is spelled backwards. I can’t think of another sparkling wine that is made from Aglianico, this has to be pretty damn rare stuff, and De Conciliis deserves some high praise too, as this vibrant bubbly is remarkable, elegant and an interesting alternative to the mostly bland Cavas, Proseccos and Spumantes out there, and while not a Champagne beater, it certainly is worth checking out. The Selim is vivid, mineral driven and has great dynamic energy with brisk, dry acidity and a refined mousse. The are layers of lemon/citrus, white licorice, tropical notes, plus very faint hints of brioche, hazelnut/almond and figs. This is really is good for a Charmet method bubbles, having aged 100 days on the lees, perfect as an Aperitivo or with seafood, finishing with a salty/steely edge along with a lingering pear and citrus note. Drink young and often!
($24 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com
2013 Cantina Cinque Terre, Cinque Terre Bianco DOC, Italy.
The fresh Cinque Terre white is made from the native varietals Bosco 60%, Albarola 25%, Vermentino 15%, from grapes grown on the steep terraces over-looking the five historic villages and the beautiful Italian riviera. This lovely white has the taste of the sea with hints of salty brine adding character to the honeyed pear, lemon/lime and tropical fruits flow over the rich and full palate, along with citrus flower, wild herb, almond, dried apricot and lingering peach notes. Liguria has long been a fine wine region, nestled between Genoa and La Spezia, just south of Portofino, and Cantina Cinque Terre has made wines for over a hundred years. This wine sings with seafood and is a wonderful and interesting summer white, drink now and over the next few years.
($25 Est.) 90+ Points, grapelive
2013 Cantine Marisa Cuomo, Ravello Bianco, Costa d’ Amalfi DOC, Furore, Italy.
One of Italy’s best kept secrets, Marisa Cuomo, makes a fantastic set of Amalfi Coast wines from tiny terraced plots above the shinning Mediterranean Sea. These vines are grown out of almost pure rock and trained in pergolas, this allows some shade and helps with the ocean humidity while still granting exposure and reflected light from the sea of Furore, on the gulf of Salerno. The Ravello Bianco is made up of 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella grown high up on the rocky cliffs with dolomitic limestone soils, this is a lovely mineral rich expression with plenty of warm sunny flavors and ocean influences. There is layers of citrus, crystalline stone, honeyed peach, saline and melon along with a creamy texture, but with fresh acidity, this is a great expression of place, drink over the next year or so, terrific stuff.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($23.95)
2007 Casina Cucco, Barolo DOCG, Cerrati “Vigna Cucco” Riserva, Piedmonte, Italy.
The 2007 Casina Cucco Riserva is fantastically pure Barolo, this is as classic as classic gets, though maybe not as perfect or as exciting as Giacosa, Clerico, Vajra or Conterno, this is beautiful and worthy Nebbiolo that has sublime varietal detail and terroir nuance. The palate is a cascade of pleasure with layers of black cherry, damson plum, balsamic dipped strawberry, mint, tar, truffle, cedar, soy and melted black licorice along with wilted roses, stony chalk and dried lavender notes. This wine speaks of historic, place and vigor with elegance, poise and a hint of wild nature in the background, this is Barolo through and through with good structural tannins and a smart dose of acidity. The seductive 2007 Barolo Vigna Cucco from the Cerrati Cru in Serralunga is drinking fabulous right now, but still has a decade of enjoyment ahead, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($100 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2011 Uccelliera, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Tuscany, Italy.
Azienda Agricola Uccelliera run by Andrea Cortonesi is one of Tuscany’s great estates and a producer of fine Brunello di Montalcino since the late Eighties. The vineyards sit on the estate in Castelnuovo dell’ Abate in the heart of the Brunello zone with rolling hills and a mix of soils, framed by ancient olive trees, and of course planted to Sangiovese Grosso, Brunello clone. The Brunello’s are the shinning stars here, but I would not pass up the Rosso di Montalcino DOC from Uccelliera “The Bird House” as it is a terrific wine in it’s own right, year after year and a suburb value. The 2011 vintage was warm and the wines are very generous and full of character, charm and richness, so if you want a great red with real Brunello quality on the cheap, the 2011 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino would be an excellent choice, and of course be sure and make note that the 2011 Brunello itself, still another 2 years away should be a blockbuster. The Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino 2011 starts with earthy red fruits, dried flowers, sweet herbs and cedar notes leading to a dense and plummy palate of black raspberry, wild plum, cherry and strawberry fruits with a mix of soy, mint, mocha and tobacco leaf adding complexity, this is very sexy Sangiovese that has refined tannins, just enough acidity and subtle mineral and eathy/game elements to let you know it is a serious and focused wine that deserves your full attention. This is a ruby red hued beauty, don’t miss out on this vivacious and intriguing Tuscan, drink from 2014 to 2020.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir, La Neblina, Sonoma Coast.
Eric Sussman’s Radio-Coteau is one of California’s top quality labels for Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay with all cool climate sites in the Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley, and his 2012 wines are looking top bet from the vintage. His second label County Line is also a great lineup of wines, especially his County Line 2013 Rose, so be sure to check them out as well, but his latest Pinot, the La Neblina is something special and I highly recommend finding this beautiful, floral and detailed wine. The 2012 Radio-Coteau, Pinot Noir, La Neblina from the western Sonoma Coast is a pure and rich, almost forward expression of Pinot Noir with a gorgeous array of flavors, this wine is seamless and decedent with wild strawberry, plum and sweet cherry fruits along with cola bean, rose petal, cinnamon, pomegranate, jolly rancher candy, a hint of red apple, sweet smoky toast, vanilla and cedary notes. There is an underlying element of earth, spice, fennel and mineral, though the fruit is certainly leading the way here, and a fine silky tannin plus a boost of fresh acidity that keeps everything together. Made from a mix of clones and all organic grapes the La Neblina, with about 15% whole cluster and about a third new French oak, is a well crafted wine of grace, focus and style, though flamboyant now, look for this tasty wine to age well into the nest decade, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
1998 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling, Dorsheimer Burgberg, Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
I recently tasted through the up coming releases from Georg Rumpf, the 2013 vintage of which I will be writing more about shortly and of which you should look for when they are available this Fall of 2014, so it was interesting to get a chance to taste back a few years and wow, this 1998 is drinking wonderfully. The Kruger-Rumpf Dorsheimer Burgberg Spatlese is mature, richly flavored and full of vigor with loads of sex appeal and mineral complexity, it’s a white wine that gives the same thought provoking pleasures as a fine Red Burgundy does, this is suburb Riesling and it doesn’t feel at this point as sweet as Spatlese, decedent yes, but sublimely balanced. No wonder Terry Theise picked up this winery all those years ago, this wine is pure class and gives insight on how Kruger-Rumpf wines will age, for sure it would be a great idea to grab some of their 2011, 2012 and 2013 and chuck them in the cellar, that would be a very sound investment. The 1998 starts with orange rind, dried apricot and waxy rose petals leading to a palate of verbena, lemon oil, peach and lime sorbet along with river stones, flinty dust, a hint of mint tea, petrol fumes and saline notes. With air you find a more tropical side and while there is an expansion in the mouth and density, there still is vibrancy and brightness throughout, this is seductive stuff and ever-changing in the glass from minute to minute with finally a honeycomb, paraffin, bitter almond, golden apple and fig emerging subtly on the glorious finish. When I last checked the importer still had this beauty available, but in case you don’t find any, get some of the new vintages they are lovely too, drink the 1998 from 2014 to 2021.
($48 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($43.95)
2011 Maison Marchand-Tawse, Chassagne-Montrachet, Abbaye de Morgeot, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
Absolutely gorgeous the Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Abbaye de Morgeot is crystal clear, pure and decadent, Pascal Marchand has the magic touch, especially with this beautiful white. Tiny lots from the best terrors is what this domaine is all about, usually only 2 or three barrels of each Cru are produced, crafted from mostly all organic and biodynamic old vines, great care and gentile winemaking all add up to near perfection and detail, these are amazing wines. The 2011 vintage Chassagne-Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot is a mineral intense Chardonnay with a rich leesy feel and wonderful definition showing white flowers, smoke, brioche and golden fig on the nose leading to a rapturous palate of steely lemon, white peach, apple and pear fruits with wet stones, baking spice, hazelnuts and a hint of bitter almond. With air the wine expands, but still feels structured with lifting acidity, a hint of creme fraise and a lengthy finish. Everything is vibrant and elegantly presented, making for a very memorable Burgundy experience, this a stunning expression of Chassagne at it’s best, drink from 2014 to 2022.
($85 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($79)
2013 Weingut Burg Ravensburg, Riesling, Trocken, Baden Kraichgau Germany.
Baden, know for it’s Spas, healing waters and tranquility is also an ancient and renown wine area with old vine Riesling, Pinot Noir and Silvaner being some of the main grapes here. Weingut Burg Ravensburg has been making quality wines since 1251 and in recent years upped their game, especially in the dry wines like this Riesling Trocken. The 2013 vintage was short on crop size, but the wines are quite lovely and pure and this Burg Ravensburg Riesling Trocken has crisp green apple, white peach, lime and tangerine fruits, loamy earth, spices and crystal/mineral essences with hints of salt, gravel, verbena and tropical notes. This is a tight and pleasing example of region and varietal, perfect for summer, drink over the next year or so, though it can easy age 3 to 5 years, enjoy!
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com ($17.95)
2011 Domaine Ameztia, Irouleguy, Basque Pyrenees, France.
Made by Jean-Louis Costera, a shepherd/farmer/winemaker, this stylish Basque red blend of 90% Tannat and 10% Cabernet Franc comes from the calcareous and clay soils on the northern slopes side of the French Pyrenees mountains from the Irouleguy region. This remote and wild area of France produces hearty and robust reds, these are quintessential county wines with rustic charms and great with the native cuisine. Domaine Ameztia is one of the finest and precise hand crafted Iroulguy wines and the lovely pure 2011 highlights the producers gentile touch, the cooler than normal vintage and the finesse the Cabernet Franc adds to the fiery tannic Tannat making for an interesting and dark expression of terroir and tradition in the glass. The 2011 Ameztia, fermented in stainless and aged in neutral wood shows wild game, mint, violets and porcini/truffle earthy notes leading to a medium/full palate of blackberry, damson plum, cherry and dusty raspberry fruits with iron, lavender, bell pepper and cedary spices. There are some good grippy tannins that make there presence felt, but they do not seems harsh, but would be best to enjoy this red with some proteins (lamb, steak or sheep cheeses) no question, though for Irouleguy, this is refined and polished, drink from 2014 to 2019.
($28 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive
avail at www.sfwtc.com