Monthly Archives: September 2014

Wine of the Day September 30, 2014

2012SeraFinaPrimitivo2012 Sera Fina, Primitivo, Amador County.
The Amador County and the Sierra Foothills are finally getting the respect they deserve, and while there are a lot old vines and interesting sites it still remains a mostly undiscovered region in California. Paul Scotto, who comes from a long heritage of winegrowers, wine sellers and winemakers as well as being the director of winemaking for his family’s large company, does his own personal small production label Sera Fina, and if that wasn’t enough he also oversees the newest project, making fine ciders under the Cider Brothers label. There’s even an apple cider & Pinot Grigio blend, these are craft ciders that appeal to new cider drinkers and wine people, they are fresh and easy going with a hint of sweetness. Back to Paul’s own project Sera Fina Cellars wines, after UC Davis and work for a top Pinot Noir house, as well as crafting a huge selection of wines for the Scotto Cellars, he started his dream winery in the Sierra Foothills in Amador County near Drytown. The 2012 Sera Fina Primitivo is rich, opulent and very chocolatey with a loaded palate of blueberry, deep raspberry, plum and blackberry pie filling along with hints of peppercorn, mocha, anise & vanilla, and delivers a full bodied experience, but with soft and round tannins, just enough acidity and finishes with a touch of sweetness. Best to enjoy this young and it’s bold decadence matches well with BBQ. Sera Fina’s Zin aka Primitivo, named such for the Italian heritage tastes like it may have some Petite Sirah in the blend and it’s a very dark colored wine that will certainly appeal to ZAP loyalists and lovers of the more potent style, though at 14.5% it is not a monster, it is solid offering and more interesting than some much more expensive wines in this category.
($25 Est.) 87-89 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 29, 2014

2013AlfaroCHMK2013 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Mary Katherine Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The Mary Katherine Chardonnay is Richard Alfaro’s limited estate organic Chardonnay that comes from a special plot of organic vines planted to select clones, I believe to be Wente and a unique Kongsgaard clone, regardless this 2013 is a distinct and fascinating wine with a yellow/golden hue, full of flavor, vigor, intensity and depth. The Alfaro estate is in Coralitos in the southern part of the cool Santa Cruz Mountains, it is not far from Aptos and sits in a mostly southerly facing area near the ocean, this gives tons of acidity and long hangtimes, making for very exciting Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir too. The grapes from Alfaro’s home estate and his leased site Trout Gulch have become very in demand with a long list of top winemakers interested in sourcing the fruit, look for Arnot-Roberts and Big Basin wines from these grapes and a few more I can’t mention yet, but it’s Richard’s wines that you should really take the time to find, these are glorious efforts, especially his Chardonnay, one of my top picks for personal use and a great value. The 2013 vintage looks set to be one of best yet from Alfaro, from the Gruner Veltliner to his Pinots, but again it’s his Chards that rock n roll, particularly and spectacularly this 2013 Mary Katherine and as always the Lindsay Paige Vineyard estate wines, plus the Trout Gulch Vineyard, these are three fantastic offerings. The MK starts with exotic honeysuckle, butter rum, pear tart, tropical essences and earthy sea notes leading to a dense and tension filling palate that shows mineral, wet stones, tangerine, quince, apple and tangy lemon curd along with salted caramel, bitter peach, floral herb/spice all lifted by zesty acidity, hints of brioche and wood and a touch of honey. This dry and driving Chardonnay is packed with layer upon layer, and it changes beautiful in the glass, this is majestical, stylish and gripping Chardonnay, complex, elegant and lingering in class and detail, drink this beauty over the next 3 to 5 years.
($35 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 28, 2014

2013SavaryVV2013 Francine et Olivier Savary, Chablis, Selection Vieilles Vignes, White Burgundy, France.
The Savary Old Vine Chablis is a wonderful Chardonnay, it is known to bring joy and laughter and brighten even the darkest day, it is easy on the wallet and oh so rewarding, with the new release 2013 being a glorious wine as well. Since discovering this for myself with their 2007 vintage, the Savary Old Vines has always been a top pick in my book, there is superb quality, great price and lots to admire in complexity, terroir and energy in these wines, and for me, I like the Old Vines just as much as the higher priced Premier Cru if not more. I have tended to call the Savary Chablis the Baby Raveneau, since not only do these wines offer sublime pleasure, and look a bit like them with a little yellow wax top, but because Bernard Raveneau himself did lend a talented hand to the Savary’s and has consulted for them, along with the Collet brothers and Kermit Lynch their importer being influential, this is not to take anything away from the Savary’s (they have really come into their own as winegrowers) themselves and I admire and respect the hard work and their beautiful plots of vines very much, and I do myself buy more than a few bottles to consume of their handiwork. The 2013 is surprisingly full, vigorous and intense with a leesy smoky nose, lively acid rich palate and a striking steely core, if blind tasted I might go for a Grand Cru or Premier Cru at least, this is awesome stuff, and drinking remarkably poised even now with vivid layers, vitality and persistence. The nose is smoky, mineral laced and with a hint of salty goodness with white flowers, green apple and citrus leading to a bright and zesty palate of lemon/lime, apple and subtle peach with wet river stones, liquid steel, melon, flinty spice and a hint of soft cream, while always being razor sharp, focused and full of drive, lingering with some more citrus and a touch of pear and chalky aftertaste, brilliant in everyday, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 27, 2014

2011FerrandoErbaluce2011 Ferrando, La Torrazza, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG, Piedmonte, White, Italy.
This seriously delicious Italian white from northern Piedmonte in the greater Canavese area, a new hot spot for great wines, especially this tasty Erbaluce from Ferrando, one of the regions best and traditional producers. The 2011 Erbaluce di Caluso is gorgeous with aromas of fresh picked apples, gardenia, tropical essence and citrus leading to a refined and silky palate of melon, passion fruit, lemon/lime, kiwi and verbena with bright minerals, wild herb, ginger/anise, vibrant acidity and lengthy elegance with lingering saline, stoniness and peachy notes. This is very classy and vividly flavored wine, stunningly impressive, and it really will turn some heads. While unique and native to upper Piedmonte, the Erbaluce grape shares some relations to Trebbiano and is also known as Greco Novarese and Vernazza di Gattinara in neighboring towns, but this version is by far the best I’ve tasted from this distinct varietal, drink now!
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive


avail at ($19.95)

Wine of the Day September 26, 2014

2013CountyLineZin2013 County Line, Zinfandel, Russian River Valley.
County Line, the second label of Radio-Coteau and winemaker Eric Sussman, is offering out some great wines for the 2013 vintage, especially the County Line Pinot Noir and this very attractive Zinfandel. The latest to the County Line set, the Russian River Zin comes from a vineyard farmed organic in the western regions of the AVA, a cooler site, but with old vines that give character, this plot is on a ridge and has good sun exposure to ensure ripeness, but cool nights to lift acidity and keep the alcohol down, this wine comes in around 14% and is made in neutral wood with natural winemaking techniques as is per normal for Sussman. The 2013 vintage is bursting with juicy fruit, medium weight body and lovely mouth feel, I was very impressed, it reminded me of old school Zinfandel from the eighties and early nineties, this is a great and honest Zin that can be enjoyed even by Pinot Noir lovers. The starting gun on this nicely crafted ruby hued Zin, brings light floral and spicy notes with black raspberry, plum and kirsch, along with black currant, briar, shaved cinnamon stick, sage and licorice/herb with a hint of tangy loganberry and cedar. This is young fresh Zinfandel that pleases throughout, entertains without being a showy wine, I will be grabbing a few bottles of this for myself, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 25, 2014

2012ForadoriFontanasanta2012 Elisabetta Foradori, Fontanasanta, Manzoni Bianco, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT, Trentino, Italy.
This wine is one of the top ten whites of the year, in a great year for white wine, and another stunning wine for Elisabetta Foradori’s collection of glorious offerings, this 2012 Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco is a masterpiece. The Fontanasanta is made from the native and rare Manzoni grape, fermented and aged by Foradori in amphora and raised on it’s skins, this ancient technique is making a come back around the world, but nowhere have the results been as good, as they are in northern Italy, especially the beautifully detailed wines of Elisabetta Foradori, who employs natural winemaking and organic farming at her winery high in the Italian Dolomites near Trentino not from from Alto Adige. The skin contact gives a bit of yellowy color, but not as much as you’d find in other varietals like Pinot Grigio which really turn orange, but the Fontanasanta gains tannin and savory elements that bring superb structure and complexity to this gorgeous white wine, this wine certainly rivals white Burgundy for elegance, layers and finish, but it is much more unique to it’s varietal and terroir, as well as the winemaking style itself, it is truly a marvel to cherish, in the glass it gives unending pleasure with bright flavors, subtle density and mineral tones. The 2012 is a bit lighter and delicate than the 2010 or 2011 versions, but that might even make it that much better, starting with a play of aromas, white flavors, anise, chalky stones, saline and tropical essences lift dreamy from the glass, leading to a medium weight palate of lemon/lime, orange, green apple, white peach, flinty/rocks, apricot pit, melon and cured meats along with rose petal, earth and wild fennel. This wine is graceful, joyous and exotic, it is a masterful piece of craftsmanship and passion, I can’t recommend this beauty strongly enough, you should experience this rare wine, fantastic in everyday, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 24, 2014

2013EvaFrickeKiedrich2013 Weingut Eva Fricke, Riesling Trocken, Kiedrich, Rheingau Germany.
Eva Fricke, former vineyard manager and winemaker at Leitz, has turned out some poised dry Rieslings for the 2013 vintage, these are austere and salty wines that show good vivid flavors, tangy fruit and have superb extract and structure. Her efforts under her own Eva Fricke label are really coming into their own, and these 2013 wines clearly show her talents and unique characteristics of her style, and that of the terroir, she is passionate about soils and she focuses on the dry wines, this is an area where she excels especially in her region. She has found distinct sites in the Rheingau that give her wines their special profiles, her crisp and mineral laced wines seem perfectly chiseled from the soils and showing glorious transparency and brilliance, in particular I admire the latest addition to her lineup, the Kiedicher Trocken, most of Fricke’s wine are from the Lorch area of the middle Rhein, area of the Rheingau not too far from Rudesheim, the soils here are mixed quartzite, slates and other ancient sub soils, her vines are mostly older, 30-45 years average with some much older still, and give lots of quality to her offerings. The 2013 Eva Fricke Kiedrich starts with citrus, white flower and tropical notes with a sea salt, brine and spicy mineral, leading to a vigorous palate of dusty dry flavors, bright peach, grapefruit, lime and mango lead the way, along with tangerine, apple skin, chalk and flinty spice, but the dry/crispness is super refreshing, sizzling and lip-smacking, this is a food wine, and there is serious extract here, intensity drives this Riesling throughout and the stony/mineral elements always stay at the forefront of your attention. This wine needs a bit more bottle age to develop, but it is a stunning example of dry Riesling and is well worth the search to find it, drink from 2016 to 2021.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 23, 2014

2013CantineFedericiane2013 Cantine Federiciane, Gragnano, Penisola Sorrentina DOC, Secco, Sparkling Red Wine, Italy.
Slightly fizzy chilled red wine, it is the new geeky cool and you should not overlook them, there has been a revolution in these wines recently, especially the Lambrusco wines, but there are many regions in Italy that make this style fizz and there are exciting and great. The generational change in winemaking across Italy is bringing back ancient wine techniques and styles with a new dedication to quality, tradition and terroir, these are not your grandpa’s Lambruscos or rough stuff, there are some amazing wines to explore, and I recently found a southern Italian wine worth checking out, it is a Lambrusco dry style red from the Campania region near Sorrento in Monteleone, this deeply colored fizzy red is made from Aglianico, Piedirosso and a rare local grape, Sciascinoso, this full flavored wine bursts from the glass with a dark ruby hue, a bouquet of floral notes and mineral, along with wild herbs, spice and anise, leading to an energy filled palate of dusty raspberry, plum, cherry and currants with a hint of tar, lavender, iron and black figs. The soft mousse and the chill really lift the flavors, there is nice acidity and the tannins are firm, but supple, this is a well judged dry sparkler and crazy good food wine. I was very impressed, I might pick up a case or two to share with friends and or enjoy with spicy pasta dishes, pizzas with Calabrian peppers, or roasted red peppers, or almost anything, it also with make for festive holiday cuisine pairings, Cantine Federiciane also makes a sweeter version, but I really liked this Gragnono and highly recommend you search it out, imported by Villa Italia, drink now and often.
($20 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day September 22, 2014

2012Foti2012 Salvo Foti-I Vigneri 1435, Vino Rosso, Etna, Sicily.
Salvo Foti is the Volcano Man, he makes and consults for some of if not all the greats of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active Volcano and home to very old Nerello Mascalese vines that produce some of Sicily’s most prized wines. The Etna Rosso wines are often called the Burgundies of Italy, and tasting them, you can see why, these are delicate, spicy and emotional (evoking), sexy, compelling reds that speak to the heart and are passion filled, not heavy or fruity, but yes, somewhat like earthy Pinot, I am reminded of Nuits-St.-George, though the Etna wines when done well, like the Foti wines are, can be exotic and spellbinding with red spices and flinty minerals adding a level of complexity that is hard to beat. Foti is part of an association he created called I Vigneri 1435 (named after the pioneers of winemaking on Etna) that farms organically if not completely biodynamic, makes wines very naturally and uses only the native varietals, they are the volcano purists and everything is done my hand and hard work. This non classified Etna Rosso is a field blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese along with a little bit of Nerello Cappuccio, and maybe some other old time local grapes, who knows, but it is of course the Nerello Mascalese, from intense volcanic soils, that is the dominate force, and this 2012 Foti sings a siren song, it is beautiful and sublimely crafted, Foti uses cement vats, low sulphur and the wine is unfiltered, there is a gorgeous texture, lovely lift and vigor and a super long finish. The lead here is delicacy and grace, highlighted with lush fruit, plum, black cherry, strawberry and red peach along with slate/stones, truffle, basil/mint spices, savory elements, dried flowers and a hint of saddle leather. Foti’s touch is a gift, he captures the soul of the vines, the terroir and allows the grapes to paint a spectacular image, the 2012 Rosso is ruby red, With smooth tannins, bright acidity, medium weight, deep in flavor and shows lots of class and vibrancy. This is fantastic stuff and a great value in terms of quality to price, drink over the next 5 to 7 years, if you’ve never had Salvo Foti’s wines, you must, and if you’ve not ventured a taste of Sicily’s Etna, you really need to do so, and soon.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


avail at ($38.95)

Wine of the Day September 21, 2014

GrantAmontilladoBodegas Grant, La Garrocha, Amontillado, Medium Dry, Sherry, El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Spain.
The Bodegas Grant has been making fine Sherries since 1841 and their La Garrocha label is a tribute to the local Andalusian dance on horseback, current proprietor Edmundo Grand continues his family’s long traditions and the Bodega crafts some of the best value in small batch Sherry. I love the whole line from crisp Fino to rich, oil Oloroso, but I especially like this fabulous La Garrocha Amontillado, it is a steal at about $15 or so on the shelf. The Grant Amontillado La Garrocha starts with a dark amber hue, a heady bouquet of the ocean, almonds and warm honey with a hint of marmalade and flowers leading to a dry, but rich palate of roosted pecans, walnut, orange rind, hazelnut, stone fruit,sea salt, brine and peach tart. This is decedent Sherry that goes with many moods and foods, I had it with a spicy sardines on flat bread, but it would pair with cheeses too, as well as be a great pre or post dinner sipper. The medium dry style Amontillado is very flexible, feeling nicely balanced with a subtle play of savory, bitter and richness, but with a long finish that leaves a lingering oily/nutty/honeycomb aftertaste and has you dreaming of the south of Spain, this a very pleasing and reliable Sherry, drink now and often.
($16 Est. 375ml.) 92 Points, grapelive