Monthly Archives: October 2014

Wine of the Day October 31, 2014 -Happy Halloween!

2013CoulboisPF2013 Patrick Coulbois, Pouilly-Fume “Les Cocques” Loire Valley White, France.
This beautiful and thrilling Sauvignon Blanc from Les Berthiers in Saint-Andelain, the same town as Dagueneau, is crafted by Patrick Coulbois from grapes grown on vines that are rooted into Silex soils, and the results are divine, one of the best new Sauvignon Blancs of the year for me. Coulbois is imported by Charles Neal of San Francisco, and while I’ve tasted almost everything in his portfolio, this was a major new discovery, this 2013 Pouilly-Fume is bursting with energy, vigor and style, I highly recommend this lovely white to those that might have lost their faith in this varietal, this is a wine that will bring you back to Sauvignon Blanc. The Coulbois Pouilly-Fume lifts from the glass with white flowers, mineral intensity and a mix of earthy citrus and tangy gooseberry leading to a zesty palate of lemon/lime, a touch of grapefruit, chalky/stones, bitter herbs, liquid steel/mineral, hints of quince, kumquat, cat pee and finishes with white peach notes. This is classic Loire Sauvignon with vivid flavors and vibrancy, it should age well and have a enjoyable half decade or more. Note to self, get this wine and follow Patrick Coulbois, this is really fine and elegant Sauvignon Blanc, perfect with picnics, cheese and seafood, but don’t limit yourself, this would make a super anytime wine. This very distinct, focused and impressive wine is seriously good, drink from 2014 to 2019.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 30, 2014

2013PandolPN2013 Pandol, Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills.
Having followed Jenny Pandol’s wines now for many years and being a big fan and supporter of her small production Pinot Noirs, it was great to check in on her latest wine, a totally new release from the Sta. Rita Hills, home to many great wines like Brewer-Clifton, Melville, Samsara, Sandhi, Domaine de la Cote, Lutum (mentioned recently here) and many other top producers, this region is on fire with wonderful wines at every turn. Pandol sourced Rita’s Crown Vineyard, right above Sea Smoke, in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA for her latest wine, and it matches perfectly with her vision and style of wine wants to make, as well as highlighting the perfect growing conditions and vintage (from what I hear and from what I am tasting 2013 looks to surpass 2012 in quality in many cases!), giving a luxurious and lush Pinot Noir with low alcohol at 13% and soft bright acidity. Jenny is not going for stemmy or nervy/edgy wines, she wants balance and harmony, liking a fuller/round mouth feel, which the 2013 has in spades.The ancient seabed soils almost give a limestone quality, with loam and sand making for a glorious hedonistic Pinot Noir, this cool climate sea/marine influence and a long hang-time adds to the ripe complexity of layers and polish. Pandol’s handcrafted Pinot Noir is joyous and alluring, in this vintage she employed one third new French oak medium toast barriques, with rest being second and third year barrels, about 400 cases were produced, the grapes were picked from select blocks of clones 777 and 115. The 2013 Pandol Sta. Rita Hills is a deep garnet hue, an inviting nose awaits with toasty wood, attractive rose petal and red berry fruit lead, along with mineral and stone notes before a lavish/dense palate of black cherry, plum, currants, raspberry and fig paste along with touches of saline, cola bean, savory spice, mocha, cinnamon, smoke and vanilla. There is nice acidity which adds a vibrancy lift, while silky almost creamy, refined tannins provide structure, but allowing the full expansion of the fruit in the mouth, Pandol continues to grow as a winemaker and this is one of her finest, stylish and most charming wines to date, prior hits came from Santa Cruz Mountains grapes, but she has now made her home in the Santa Barbara wine country. This wine should age nicely for 5 to 7 years, though it is pretty damn good and sexy right now, it is seriously hard not pour another glass tonight, drink from 2014 to 2018. Be sure to check out this new Pandol Sta. Rita Hills Pinot, it is rare, but it is certainly worth the effort to search it out and/or join her mailing list at
($55 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 29, 2014

2012MC22012 Mathieu Coste, MC2, Coteaux du Giennois Biau, Villemoison, Loire Valley, Red, France.
A new comer to the quality natural wine scene Mathieu Coste of the Loire Valley has been making his own wine for about 6 vintages now, and I recently discovered his wine at a trade show in San Francisco, not much was to be learned, but I was highly impressed with what I tasted, especially this Gamay and Pinot Noir blend from Coteaux du Giennois Biau. This tiny appellation is across the river and south of Sancerre and the hamlet of Villemoison is where Coste calls home, he was trained in Bordeaux and made wine at the Coop in Pouilly sur Loire, he got his personal break when he took over the estate of Alain Paulat, an organic farmer, who’s grapes were almost always the best coming into the coop. Mathieu’s wines are made with fanatical detail and are delicately nuanced, made with natural winemaking techniques (low sulphur-no additions) and from total organic farming, he uses whole cluster, native yeast and ferments in cement vats, before aging in stainless tanks, making for clear, pure and bright wines. The 2012 MC2 is Pinot Noir and Gamay with crunchy stones and mineral tones, red fruits, spice and shows plenty of vigor and intensity in a fine light/medium weight wine. The nose has earthy floral notes along with dusty red currants leading to a lively palate of raspberry, cherry and strawberry fruits plus, minty herb, tea, lavender and pepper spice, after a bit of time in the glass there reveals anise, plum, chalky/stones, cinnamon stick and cured meat. The wine is tightly focused and vividly clear throughout, finishing with soft fruity character and a touch of saline savoriness, this is delightful wine and a name to watch for, drink now through 2017.
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 28, 2014

2012KenWrightPB2012 Ken Wright, Pinot Blanc, Willamette Valley.
While preparing to taste all the 2013 Ken Wright Pinot Noirs, I ran across this Pinot Blanc from Ken Wright and found it absolutely stunning and vibrant, it comes from two sites in the cooler western sector of the Willamette with more coastal influences where the vines store more acidity. This beautiful 2012 Pinot Blanc, from blocks at Meredith Mitchell and Freedom Hill, it was fermented and raised in old neutral French cask on it’s lees, with some stirring (batonage) giving the wine texture along with that zesty acidity. The nose is mineral laced and has hints of apple butter and honey, but the palate is vibrant with dynamic citrus, green apple, white peach and hints of tropical fruits with whiff of smoke and flinty rocks. This is impressive stuff and lovely refreshing wine, Ken thinks Pinot Blanc is the most interesting and best grape for Oregon whites, ahead of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and he may find an argument on that over the coming years, but if this wine is anything to go by, well, he might be right, it is certainly vivid, crisp and delicious with lemon/lime, wet stones and touches of salty elements lingering on the attractively long finish, drink from 2014 to 2018.
($27 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 27, 2014

2012MontevertineCiampolo2012 Montevertine, Pian del Ciampolo, Toscana Rosso IGT, Radda in Chianti, Italy.
Montevertine’s organic estate in the heart of Chianti Classico is home to some of the finest wines in Tuscany, these natural wines, crafted of only local varietals made in an elegant fashion. The Montevertine wines are not oaky, extracted or do they have dollops of Merlot or Cabernet added to them, these are traditional and soulful wines, but don’t get me wrong there are lovely Merlot and Cabernet wines in Tuscany, wines that rival the world, no question, it is just that Montevertine follows their own path and I admire the wines of the late Sergio Manetti and now Martino Manetti very much, and his Le Pergole Torte is one of the greatest Sangiovese wines in the world, just don’t expect Manetti’s wine to be labeled Chianti Classico anytime soon, the Manetti’s believe that Sangovese doesn’t need international varietals added and withdrew from the Chianti brand, so no black roosters on the label. The last Montevertine Chianti Classico was made in 1981, after that they have only produced wines labeled Table wines or IGT with Le Pergole Torte being the first single vineyard 100% Sangiovese Super Tuscan, and the Pian del Ciampolo is the little brother to Le Pergole Torte with a cuvee of Sangoveto (Chianti Classico’s old clone Sangiovese) plus Canaiolo and Colorino (Two minor Chianti grapes now making a comeback in the region) with all the fruit coming from the estate’s beautiful vines in Radda in Chianti. The 2012 Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo is glorious from start to finish, earthy, Burgundy like in fresh brightness and graceful on the palate with beautiful detail and wonderful delicacy. The bouquet is pure Tuscany with porcini, red fruits, herbs, iron/blood and wilted roses leading to a refined and vivid mouthful of spiced plum, raspberry, cherry and strawberry fruits, truffle, minty herbs, licorice, tobbacco/cigar wrapper and cedary spice. This is pure and perfectly weighted wine, no added adornments or flashy sweet oak, just a character filled expression of place and expertly crafted, bravo to the team at Montevertine for this beauty, it had me dreaming of the majestic Tuscan hills and the lengthy finish is just as magical, drink from 2014 to 2019.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive


avail at ($36.95)

Wine of the Day October 26, 2014

2012LutumLaEncantada2012 Lutum, Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
Gavin Chanin’s new label Lutum compliments his own Chanin Wines and offers a selection of interesting and soil driven Pinot Noirs, most from Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Barbara/Santa Maria counties, all follow the balanced or low alcohol approach and offer in 2012 generous fruit and depth. Having been an assistant winemaker at both Au Bon Climat and Qupe, Gavin has learned Santa Barbara’s lessons well and got to know the regions secrets and soul, these are being bottle under both his own Chanin label and here with the new Lutum wines, the quality and talent really shines through, especially in the latest set of Lutum 2012, and my favorite is the La Encantada, it is gorgeous Pinot Noir, very classy, elegant and full of character. While I was maybe most impressed by his Lutum Bien Nacido, one of the finest Pinots from this vineyard I’ve ever tasted even, the La Encantada for me was the most charming with floral tones, pretty red fruits and an amazing finish, these small production wines are certainly worth checking out and following. The 2012 Lutum La Encantada Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills comes from a very cool climate site grown on sandy soils, it is under 14% alcohol and has lifting acidity, sweet tannins and layers of texture showing bing cherry, strawberry and raspberry fruit along with fennel, violets, rose oil and wild herbs, later as the wine opens there is a plum and blueberry note, plus a hint of toast, earth, mineral, saline, tea and cinnamon/nutmeg. This wine is intriguing and pleasing on the palate, drinking well now, but should gain with a year of bottle age, best from 2015 to 2019, Chanin has done a fantastic job with these Lutum wines, I will be sure to check back in on them over time, you should search them out, no question.
($52 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 25, 2014

2012KnezAVPN2012 Knez, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley.
Knez is a small boutique, hand crafted project in the cool and beautiful Anderson Valley, with Anthony Filiberti making the wines, he has built quite a reputation as a winemaker after tours at Bergstrom and Penner-Ash in Oregon and being part of the Anthill Farms team. Anthony guides the Knez wines into life, these wines are always delicately detailed and impressive for layered depth and length with beautiful textures and pretty flavors, and this set of 2012 might be the best yet. The entry level cuvee, this 2012 Knez Anderson Valley Pinot, a blend of estate blocks from Cerise and Demuth, plus a touch of their Knez Vineyard, the vines are from a variety of heritage and modern clones, but lean on the old Martini, Pommard, David Bruce and Wadenswil (Swiss Clone) and grown at close to a thousand feet up on mixed soils. This Anderson Valley 2012 is subtle, elegant and slightly shy at first, but opens nicely to a full and succulent Pinot with wilted rose petals, strawberry, wild mushroom, tea spice, anise and raspberry notes to lead, then gathering steam to provide black cherry, tangy plum and currant fruit, along with earth, stones and baking spices, cinnamon and nutmeg with very faint wood expression. The finish is the single most pleasing and stunning element at this point, it goes on forever and is dreamy gorgeous, lingering with layer after layer. Look for this wonderful effort to gain with bottle age, and at this price, you should invest in many a bottle, also keep a sharp eye out for Knez’s single vineyard 2012’s as well. Drink the Anderson Valley cuvee over the next 3 to 5 years, it has lowish/balanced alcohol, good acidity, refined, but firm tannins and fantastic purity of fruit, one of the best values out there, drink from 2014 to 2019.
($35 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 24, 2014

2011Grapillon2011 Domaine du Gapillon D’Or 1806, Gigondas, Rhone Valley Red, France.
The Chauvet family’s Grapillon D’Or estate is one of the classic properties of Gigondas, and it is an old school wine of great character and rustic charms. I’ve been a fan of this wine since the late nineties and have almost never been disappointed with this lovely and spicy style Gigondas, and this 2011 is a super example of why we love old world Grenache with loads of pepper, earth and dusty stones adding to the sweet fruit essence. The 2011 Domaine Grapillon D’Or 1806 starts with dried flowers, game, raspberry, chalk rock and cracked peppercorn with a deep garnet/red color and framboise note, leading to a sweet and savory palate of boysenberry, spiced plum, strawberry, pomegranate and cherry jellies along with licorice, lavender, all spice/herbs and gravel with touches of saline and grilled meat. Everything unfolds in a pleasing manner and there is no hint of wood, and the balance of earth, spice and fruit is near perfect, this is delicious Rhone red wine. This classy and stylish Gigondas, coming in at 14.5% from 2011’s ripe vintage is not overly polished or refined, but still does everything you’d want and maybe a bit more, drink over the next few years, best from 2014 to 2018. I was glad to recapture some fond memories and taste the latest from Grapillon, founded in 1806, as the new label plainly states now, and it is great to see this long time champion of traditional style Gigondas remaining faithful and of great quality, this is really interesting old school Grenache that beats expectations.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 23, 2014

2012AFVLester2012 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Lester Family Vineyards at Deer Park, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Richard Alfaro does a wonderful selection of non estate Cru bottling, these include a Schultze Family Vineyards, a Garys’ Vineyard farmed by the Franscioni and Pisoni Families, and this stunning Lester Family Vineyards at Deer Park Pinot Noir. These compliment his own estate and Trout Gulch offering that he farms with his crew and his own hands, and of which I have mentioned many many times here, all of the wines Alfaro makes are great and worthy of searching out. The new release of Lester Family Vineyards at Deer Park is a rich and opulent Pinot with a gorgeous ruby/red hue and wonderful bouquet of rose oil, incense, mocha, red fruits and baking spices leading to a lush, silky full palate of raspberry, plum and cherry fruits with touches of cinnamon stick, cedar, tangy currant, smoke and earthy/loamy notes. This wine feels decedent and layered with smooth refined tannins, but there is plenty of vigor and lift too with acidity and drive adding balance and grace to this Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir. The wine opens nicely and gives waves of pleasure, sweet fruit, nuance and finesse with a lovely strawberry and truffle/wild mushroom component coming through along with spice, dried flowers and mineral tones with a whiff of toasty wood. The Lester Family at Deer Park is a real jewel, it shows loads of character and depth, but is stylish and only about 13.5% alcohol making for a focused and dynamic offering from a winery already on a roll with 2012 and 2013 wines that are glorious, drink this one from 2014 to 2021.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day October 22, 2014

Matthiasson2012 Matthiasson, Refosco, Matthiasson Estate Vineyard, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley.
One of Napa’s top vineyard managers, Steve Matthiasson is making a name for himself as a winemaker, and his estate wines are some of Napa Valley’s most interesting and unique wines, especially this rare northern Italian grape Refosco bottling. This was the first time trying this opulent and unique red from Matthiasson, and I can tell you it was a stylish and wonderful experience, this is super stuff with dark fruit, hints of herb, spice and mineral. Refosco, found mostly in Friuli, Colli Orientali Italy, but is also widely planted in Slovenia and even Croatia, it is a tannic and identified by it’s red stems, making for powerful and sometimes very rustic wines, though modern and gentile winemaking has tamed this varietal in recent decades. Refosco has been around for a very long time, it seems to be first praised in the first century by Roman writer Pliny the Elder, it is mentioned in his text as a famous good wine, and the Hapsburgs are said to have built a railway from Austria to the Trieste region to have the wine transported! And now Matthiasson is creating a new chapter for Refosco here in Napa Valley, and after having it for the first time recently, I think it is a success and should be celebrated! The 2012 Matthiasson Refosco starts with a Gamay meets Syrah character with an extra kick of tannin making for a quite serious and powerful red, showing red cherry, blackberry, plum and strawberry fruits along with rocky/mineral, dried flowers, hints of game, truffle and sweet tea, plus minty herbs, anise, blueberry and tangy currant notes. There is a touch of wood with cedar notes and the wine coats the palate and is very full and round, almost creamy in feel, this is classy stuff and well crafted, drink from 2015 to 2022. (Please note the image above is not the Refosco label which is white with blue)
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive