Monthly Archives: April 2015

Wine of the Day April 10, 2015

2012KanteMalvasia2012 Kante, Malvasia IGT, Carso Venezia Giulia, Italy.
The Kante wines are some of the best in the northeast Italy, regularly on Gambero Rosso’s list for quality and unique terroir expressions of both still and sparkling wine, and a great new addition to Kermit Lynch’s import portfolio. Edi Kante along with Gravner pioneered ancient methods, though unlike Gravner has moved back away from orange and amphora raised wines in recent years and makes wines more conventional in style, but with purity of varietal and with a great sense of place. These wines from Carso are expressive and poised with elegant layers and highlights the limestone and clay soils, white are similar to the finest of Burgundy, giving glorious mineralize, this comes through especially well in the Malvasia from 20 year old vines. This pretty wine starts with steely mineral notes, tangerine and honeysuckle in this light to medium bodied white, it was fermented in neutral large oak casks and aged about 12 months before moved to stainless tanks, then aged a further 6 months then bottled, this makes for a round and fresh wine with a nice fleshy feel, but with nice acidity, showing a palate of lemon/lime, kiwi, melon and white peach fruits, leesy notes, river stones and saline. This is a vibrant and vivid example and delivers joyous flavor and energy, drink over the next 3 to 5 years, best from 2015 to 2019.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 9, 2015

2010GermanoNebbiolo2010 Angelo Germano, Visette, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
Germano has been making Barolo in La Morra since 1908 and they craft an impressive array of wines from the region, including this wonderful Langhe Nebbiolo Visette that really is drinking fantastic. Grown in the Barolo zone and from quality vines the stunning 2010 Nebbiolo from Germano is without question an amazing value and complex offering, highlighting the sublime vintage for Barolo and with the benefit of being a no quilt wine and with silky tannins and open nature it is a real pleasure to enjoy in it’s youth. The 2010 is lively and vibrant with ripe, almost succulent fruit, it comes in at a healthy 14.5% alcohol, so this is not a wimpy or lean watered down version of Nebbiolo, this wine has some force, density and Barolo like charms. Best with food of course this stylish red starts with a mix of dried flowers, amaro like herbal notes with currant, cherry and red berry fruit leading the way along with a sweet plumy core and mineral tones, plus cedar, minty licorice, porcini and earthy/savory elements. The color is dark red with a deep center with bright edges hinting at the classic orange/brick, this is a glorious example of varietal and terroir, drink over the next 5 to 7 years, best from 2015 to 2021, Germano is not always easy it find, imported by Tanaro River Imports, but it certainly is worth the hunt to get these wines!
($29 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 8, 2015

2013ChaninZotovich2013 Chanin, Pinot Noir, Zotovich Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
The latest from Gavin Chanin is a fantastic effort, one of the best Pinots of the vintage so far and a wine to get asap! Chanin is one of the newest members of In Pursuit of Balance and is making a huge splash in those circles with his beautiful and refined wines, he has an impressive resume as well, he has studied and made wine at Au Bon Climat and Qupe, along with making Forbes top 30 under 30 list for Wine, as well as being the winemaking partner in Lutum Wines (Another new label to watch). In the past few vintages Gavin Chanin’s wines under his Chanin label have been getting more vibrant and dynamic, his Chardonnays have been wonderful an elegant, but of course his Pinots are the main focus and they are sensational, especially this Zotovich, but also his Santa Maria Valley Bien Nacido too. The 2013 vintage has taken these wines to another level and I highly recommend checking them out, and seeing the talent the Chanin is, he has certainly joined the elite set in the Santa Barbara area and his wines will surly impress and captivate you. This 2013 Zotovich by Chanin starts with heady perfume, violets, rose petal and spicy incense lift from the glass along with fresh berries in this family deep and dark hued Pinot leading to a satin and silk laced palate of wild plum, black cherry, raspberry and tangy blueberry fruits along with minty herbs, tea spice, cinnamon and licorice notes, as well as soft wood/cedary, vanilla and cola bean. The wine shows poise, detail and grace throughout, but there is good tension, energy and drive too, with mineral tones and chalky stones adding to the complexity in this medium weighted Pinot Noir that has an excellent acidity to fruit balance and at 13.96% is full flavored, stylish and not over blown with well hidden tannins. This Pinot Noir all ready drinking well, though should gain and develop nicely over the course of a few years and it should age well too, leaving a long window of pleasure ahead, drink from 2016 to 2023.
($55 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 7, 2015

2011FrontonTinto2012 Fronton de Oro, Tinto, Gran Canaria DO, Canary Islands, Spain.
Made from the Listan Negro and Tintilla varietals the Fronton de Oro is one of my favorite reds from the Canaries, and highlights the exotic flavors of this group of volcanic Islands of the coast of northwestern Africa. Listen Negro makes up the most of this blend with just a touch of Tintilla, Listan Negro is also known as the Mission grape and Tintilla is the same varietal as Graciano a minor Rioja red grape, both work beautifully in this wild marine and volcanic influenced region, showing salty and flinty spice character and medium weighted fruit. The Fronton de Oro 2012 is a complex and detailed wine, with a light perfumed nose of dried flowers and spices, but still rustic, earthy and raw with layers of blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry and cherry fruits along with loads of cayenne/red pepper, chalky stones, saline, black licorice, cedar notes and a hint of leathery game. The color and texture is much the same as Pinot Noir, not too heavy or dark and the tannins settle quickly in the glass, becoming smoother and there is a vital lift of acidity making this wines really wonderful with cuisine. Most people liken these wines to old school Crozes-Hermitage with the Syrah like profile and nature, and while I tend to agree, this are much more exotic and savory with a lighter feel on the palate, but they are for the adventurous and curious more than the mainstream, I am thrilled by the Canary Island wines, especially Suertes del Marques from Tenerife, and the Fronton de Oro wines of Gran Canaria, Fronton de Oro also made a pure Tintilla cuvee and a refreshing demi-sec white blend that are both worth the search for. The Fronton de Oro Tinto 2012 is impressive and alluring now, best to enjoy it with all it’s youth and vibrancy in top gear, drink from 2015 to 2018.
($20 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 6, 2015

1989JadotBeze1989 Louis Jadot, Chambertin Clos de Beze, Grand Cru Red Burgundy, France.
At my Easter Chinese dinner with friends and wine geeks, okay mostly wine geeks, we all brought a few bottles to share, but almost at the end of the meal with a few rounds of duck being passed about, this mysterious bottle starts coming my direction, and it turns out to be one of the finest Louis Jadot wines I’ve ever had, the 1989 Chambertin Clos de Beze. Well, yes it was surprising and a lovely surprise, I have not had much luck with Louis Jadot in the past myself, and I admit I have built up a prejudice against the big Negociants, and maybe to my own disadvantage, especially as this wine showed brilliantly, sexy and complete with full flavors and very elegant and stylish, was I eating crow or duck? Yes, the color was dark ruby, very little age showing, the palate was full and in great form with red cherry, currant and raspberry fruit, it was plumy rich in feel, sweet on entry with lovely secondary elements of dried flowers, wild mushrooms, loamy earth, without much decay, just a hint of orange rind, tea spice, a bit of leather/tobacco and fall leaves, I had have Jadot wines from this era and vintage that were tired, orange/brown and going thin, but this was not at all fading, this was by far the best I’ve tasted. I was thrilled by this Beze, it was great to go back in the time machine and explore this pretty Grand Cru with it’s generous fruit, fine tannins, still with some acidity and classic Chambertin force, and the finish was long and pure leaving cedar, Pinot fruit and wild strawberry notes, and I need to mention that the texture was silky, but the wine has plenty of vigor with life and density. As not a big fan of Jadot, and on a night with some glorious other wines, including magnums of Gerard Boulay Cru Sancerre, Marc Morey Chassagne, a bottle of exceptional Rinaldi La Coste Barolo, and the Les Vieux Clos Nicolas Joly I picked, this Clos de Beze shinned and made an impression, I stand humbled, happily, bravo Louis Jadot, drink this Beze sooner vs later, it certainly at it’s very best.
($350+ Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Happy Easter-Wine of the Day April, 5 2015

2000LopezTondoniaBlanco2000 Bodegas R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia, Reserva Blanco, White Rioja DO, Rioja Alta, Haro, Spain.
This historic winery has been around since 1877 and has been a bastion of tradition ever since, and while their red Rioja are glorious wines, it is their amazing long lived whites that make this winery one of the world’s best and most interesting, especially this Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco. Sometimes in the past I’ve cringed at mild oxidation and may not have given these wines their due respect, but at a recent tasting I was blown away at the freshness and detail of these wines, even the 1994 vintage was singing a youthful song from the glass, but for me the 15 year old 2000 vintage Vina Tondonia was the most impressive and incredibly lovely and vital. The Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco is a blend usually 80-85% Viura and 15-20% Malvasia and it ages wonderfully, and this 2000 has no hint of age yet, crisp and mineral driven, gorgeous as can be, with steely notes, white flowers, chalky stones, bright citrus, with lime and tangerine, zesty saline and peach notes flowing in the glass. These whites are unique and highly sought after, they remind me somewhat of late release Semillon, not in flavor really but feel, aged Hunter Valley wines from Australia come to mind, as do Graves white Bordeaux (Think Haut-Brion blanc) and Cantina Terlano in Alto Adige, Italy which hold back some whites for decades, plus even California has Kalin Cellars which release long aged white wines, in fact they are just on to their 2000 vintage Semillon. But these Lopez de Heredia whites stand above and apart, they offer richness of detail and give pleasure in a class hard to beat, with ultra traditional methods, organic farming and all native yeast fermentation, along with doing all their own cooperage work, from American oak, using big casks as not to crowd the wines for their long journey, making each highly individual offerings. Over time these wines gain body and length adding honeycomb notes, sweet lemon curd, nutty elements and soft woody notes, but right now this 2000 Vina Tondonia is a marvel of clarity and brisk with vibrancy, I might prefer it as it is now, but there is plenty of time ahead, this wine is stunning and beautiful, drink from 2015 to 2022.
($50+ Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 4, 2015

2006FantinoDardiRiserva2006 Alessandro E Gian Natale Fantino, Barolo DOCG, Cascina Dardi-Bussia Riserva, Piedmonte, Italy.
The 2006 Riserva Dardi from Fantino is remarkably fresh and pure with exceptional live, clarity and deep flavors that feel at once refined and still forceful with transparent detail and vigor. Fantino is an old school winery, there’s no extra bells and whistles to be found and the winemaking tends to be hands off, and this 2006 Riserva pretty much just gives the record of it’s vintage and terroir, it may lack some flavor, but it is really lovely and real with everything you really should care about in a Barolo. The nose holds a bouquet of dried roses, wild mushrooms, earth, sweet and sour herbs along with red berries and cool liquid stones before and bright palate that feels just a touch more robust than a Burgundy, but with a similar seductive texture, this is a natural beauty with all her freckles and slightly off center features not photoshopped out or fixed, which I kind of enjoy better. The hue is showing classic Nebbiolo brickish edges, but the core remains deeply red, this wine has plenty of years ahead and there is fine tannins and good lift from acidity, 2006 was a very solid vintage and often mistakenly overlooked, this wine is a super value at this price, and importer Kermit Lynch won’t have any trouble selling this Barolo. The main palate is rich, but not heavy, with black cherry, damson plum, meaty notes, salted licorice, hoisin sauce, fig paste and cedar, along with tangy currant and mineral tones. There is lots to admire here and it certainly offers a lot of class and pleasure for the price, though it doesn’t reach the stars, but it does not disappoint, this is a noble and fine example, I’d get a few bottles, it maybe surprise after another 3 to 5 years in bottle, drink from 2016 to 2026.
($54 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 3, 2015

2013LuciaSLHPinot2013 Lucia Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands.
The basic SLH Lucia Pinot by Pisoni is gloriously forward and supple, it certainly is a fantastic offering showing wonderful pure fruit and poise and polish of a much more expensive offering, then again the fruit is sourced from some of California’s most prized Pinot sites including the Pisoni, Garys’ and Soberanes vineyards! I had heard 2013 was going to be a super vintage from the Santa Lucia, and from what I’ve tasted, I would agree, in fact I like the year much better than 2011 or 2012! I got a preview recently and tasted 2013 wines from Siduri, Loring and Roar, all pretty darn good, but this Lucia was a good step up, maybe I just am more in turn with Jeff Pisoni’s talents, which seems to me gets better and better, he harnesses the power and dark natural flavors of these vineyards and crafts decidedly refined wines. The 2013 Lucia SLH starts with rose petal, crushed violets, incense, mocha and red fruits leading to a palate of black cherry, blueberry, plum and briar notes along with cola bean, cedar and blackberry. This wine is medium weighted, layered and lush with classic Pisoni feel and character, it is hard not to absolutely love this Pinot, drink from 2016 to 2020. The Pisoni family hit a homerun with these 2013 wines, and a big congrats to them, plus the ex-Peter Michael man Jeff Pisoni, winemaker, just has his first child, with his winemaking wife Bibiana, of Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer Sonoma Coast wines and her own Cattleya wines, so another great member to the family has been added!
($45 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 2, 2015

StCosmeJamesn.v. Saint-Cosme, Little James’ Basket Press, Vin de France. (2013 Bottling)
Chateau de Saint-Cosme’s most playful wine is the 100% Grenache non-vintage red that is fermented and aged in vat, this bottling is from 2013 which is 50% from 2012 and 50% from a solera of mixed years, coming from mostly old vine plots in the Southern Rhone. This fun and unconventional Grenache shows both bright freshness and mature complexity, it is ripe and juicy, but still refined and balanced, this is really interesting stuff, I’m a huge fan of all the wines at Saint-Cosme and of Louis Barruol the winemaker.especially his Syrah Cotes du Rhone and his famous Gigondas. The Little James’ Basket Press is rich and persistent starting with ripe fruit, floral and spice elements on the nose with a full palate of boysenberry, plum, raspberry, and morello cherry fruits with pepper, chalky/stones, a touch of minty licorice, saline/soy sauce, dried flowers and golden raisins. The Little James’ shows lots of charm and character and while dark and lush, feels light and easy in the mouth making it very good with many cuisine options and easy to enjoy on it’s own, with air the Grenache really smooths out and opens it’s silky layers and lingers on the finish with liqueur notes, game and strawberry jelly. Best to quaff this bistro style red over the coming year, drink from 2015 to 2017, this is laughter and smiles in the bottle, but seriously pleasing juice.
($14 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Wine of the Day April 1, 2015

2013RidgeGeyserville2013 Ridge Vineyards, Geyserville, Proprietary Red, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County.
The latest Geyserville is a lush, full-bodied effort with loads of fruit and rich textures, it is mostly Zinfandel along with Carignane, Petite Sirah and a tiny bit of Mataro (Mourvedre) from old vine plots in Dry Creek Valley. While the 2012 had a bit more raw tannin and a bit less alcohol the 2013 is a touch smoother overall at this stage and gives a lot of pleasure, it feels plusher and rounder in general and at 14.7% it has a more ripe profile, all this really means is that it should easier to enjoy young, it is only a hairs different from the glorious 2012, and most people will in all likely hood like it better, I bet I’ll like it just as much in another year or so in bottle, it is really close to matching the 2012 and I like it better than 2009, 2010 and 2011. As plain as I can put it, it will make lots of friends and Ridge fans will be more than thrilled, this eager young Zinfandel shows vibrant raspberry, briar, spice and sweet cedary wood notes. The nose has a mix of floral, pepper, cassis and mocha, it has a deep hue with purple edged garnet in the glass and the lush fruit layers fill the mouth with layers of blackberry, raspberry, bramble, coco powder, sweet and savory elements, vanilla and candied cherry. This 2013 Geyserville has sweet tannins, they will firm up some in the coming year and while lavish in style it shows good vigor, focus and refinement, everything you’ve come to expect from Ridge, this is very good and will drink great for the next 5 to 7 years, best from 2016 to 2021.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive