Monthly Archives: August 2015

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 11, 2015

2013vonWinningSB5002013 Weingut von Winning, Sauvignon Blanc “500” Trocken, Pfalz, Germany.
The von Winning Sauvignon Blancs are game changers for this varietal, they are without a doubt some of the best Sauvignon Blanc offerings in the world, and in particular the von Winning Sauvignon Blanc 500 stands out and above, it will take you places you could not imagine from this grape and especially the place! People will talk about the great dry Sauvignons from Graves, like Haut-Brion or even the newer Cos d’Estournel white, both fine white Bordeaux, though silly expensive, but if you want to be completely blown away you must try this German Sauvignon Blanc, from the sandstone and limestone soils of the Pfalz. Done with “500” Halbstuck oak cask, hence the name, to give richness and smoky/sweet oak character, the 2013 is surprisingly finessed, elegant and detailed with intense acidity and mind-bending length, this is an absolute stunner, seriously one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever tasted, period. It is a wine of a certain style, no question, it has lots of wood and it has massive power, texture and hedonistic pleasure or rock star personality, but even if you are a Dagueneau or true Sancerre fan you’ll be seduced and swept away in this wine’s charm and layers, and it casts aside almost any dry white Bordeaux offering. This wine may have been modeled after some of the best white Bordeaux wines, but it leaves them in the dust, and considering I’m not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan and not given to like oaky ones especially, this wine certainly opened my eyes! The Weingut von Winning “500” comes from Paradiesgarten, and high density plantings, with winemaking more in style of Grand Cru white Burgundy, in fact, while you can be certain of varietal, you can relate this beautiful wine to a top Chablis such is the grace, drive and seriousness. The 2013 is less oaky/smoky than the 2011 or 2012 versions and the added delicacy truly is remarkable, it starts with wet stones, smoke, white flowers and a hint of quince before a palate of lemon/lime, white peach, grapefruit, melon and tropical notes along with a huge mouth feel, zesty acidity and mineral tones. The vanilla and creme brulee notes are more subtle than prior vintages, plus there is a chalky earthy element and the wine unfolds in modest fashion revealing layer after layer, this is utterly fantastic Sauvignon Blanc and the finish is gorgeous with hints of nectarine, gravel, lemon curd, custard/toffee and verbena. Look for even greater things in the future too, this young wine has plenty more to offer with time in the cellar, drink from 2017 to 2024, wow this is sexy stuff, and while I’m a total geek for Riesling, this is one of the wines of the year so far, no question.
($67 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 10, 2015

2013SilvestriBarbera2013 Silvestri, Barbera, Estate, Carmel Valley.
Alan Silvestri’s estate in Carmel Valley is really coming into it’s own, producing many fine offerings and especially good in this 2013 vintage is the estate Barbera which is fast becoming one of my favorite Carmel Valley wines. Alan Silvestri, the Oscar winning composer, is a Syrah lover and his two Syrah bottlings are really good too, then there is his promising Pinot Noirs, which are the best yet in 2013, along with a new Pinot Noir Rose that is showing nicely, but I just adore his Barbera, it is a lovely wine with deep fruit and bright acids making for a very pleasing and balanced effort. I love highlighting wines from my hometown, I’m very proud of the place and it is great to see a new generation of winemaking and varietals become successful, for a longtime it was only Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc with tiny amounts of Chardonnay that made any impression, but now there is much more quality stuff showing up and scores of new wineries, the main grape now showing the most promise is Pinot Noir and Carmel Valley has about a dozen producers making superb wines, Silvestri, Holman Ranch, Albatross Ridge, Figge and more are doing some of the most exciting. Syrah also is doing well and a few whites, like Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Viognier and Galante is doing a great Sauvignon Blanc, so Carmel Valley is on a roll, and in particular Silvestri is an estate to discover, and if you are in Carmel-by-the-Sea you should sample the wines at their tasting room, between San Carlos and Dolores Streets on 7th. The 2013 Silvestri Estate Barbera starts with crushed raspberry, mixed flowers and spices with a deep garnet hue in the glass leading to a palate of tangy blackberry, bing cherry, plum and dried currant fruit along with light tannins and lifting acidity that give the wine focus. In the background there is minty herbs, chalk dust, strawberry, blueberry and basil notes as well as soft cedar and a hint of anise in this easy and medium weight Barbera, it is drinking delightful and fresh now, but should prove to be solid short to mid-term effort, best from 2016 to 2020, though I really think it is ready to go now, especially with pasta, pizza, burgers and even BBQ, this is tasty and interesting Piedmonte inspired wine.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 9, 2015

2013BoxlerChasselas2013 Albert Boxler, Chasselas, Alsace, France.
This cooly crisp and stylish white from Alsace is an interesting and dry detailed wine that really pleases, made from Chasselas, a grape much more common in the higher elevations of the Savoie and in Switzerland. The Boxler Chasselas starts with vibrancy and lots of steely citrus showing hints of white flowers, lemon/lime, white peach and tangy melon. With a bit of air you get some wet river stones, a hint of tropical fruit, creamy pear and a touch of flinty spice, making this a charming lighter style white that is well crafted. This is very clear and transparent stuff, pure and mineral driven with subtle earthy tones and light herb notes, it also has a very smooth and polished mouth feel without having weight or sweetness while still having a a certain briskness, this is impressive and is superb with shellfish and cheeses. After tasting through almost all of Boxler’s lineup of 2013’s I find myself wondering if this Chasselas is not their best offering, really it is that poised and enjoyable, I honestly though the Rieslings were seriously dull in comparison! Now that Kermit Lynch imports Albert Boxler it shouldn’t be too hard to find this wine, and I think you should try it, it is a truly a brilliant effort and another must have for summer, best to drink this one over the next 2 to 3 years and celebrate it’s lovely freshness, I want a few bottles myself to pair with mussels, claims and maybe some oysters!
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 8, 2015

2014Pieropan2014 Pieropan, Soave Classico DOC, Veneto, Italy.
The 2014 Soave Classico by Pieropan is fabulous and a gorgeous white wine that almost reminds me of a great Condrieu! The Pieropan Classico is made from all organic 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave (the same as Ugni Blanc) grown on hillside plots and hand tended, Pieropan ferments and ages the Soave Classico in glass lined cement vats, it is always aged on the lees, all of which really shows in the quality and detail of this beautiful wine. The nose is full of white flowers, crushed stones and peach leading to a stylish palate of vitality and class with honeysuckle, tangerine, apricot, steely mineral elements, verbena, brioche and melon notes as well as vibrant acidity and a background of delicacy and subtle spice, earth and clarified creme. While not as intense as Viognier in it’s purest form, this lovely Pieropan really excels and has that evocative perfume, grace and sex appeal that you find in Condrieu, this is impressive stuff, and this is their “normale” basic example! When I was young I used to buy jugs of Sauve, it was always an easy white wine and great with picnics, days at the beach and a good seafood wine, and now, going full circle I’m finding the quality showing in the top estates reaching new heights, Pieropan and Gini are making awesome stuff these days and they can rival anything in their price class! This 2014 Pieropan Soave Classico is a stunner, drink this over the next 2 or 3 years, if you want a great example of Garganega and of special terroir, you should grab a few bottles of this beauty, best from 2015 to 2019.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 7, 2015

2010FantinoBarolo2010 Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino, Barolo DOCG “Cascina Dardi-Bussia” Piedmonte, Italy.
This new 2010 Fantino Dardi-Bussia is a real head turner with loads of sex appeal and depth, this is a true Barolo that offers everything you could want and delivers on it’s promise even in it’s youth. Casino Dardi is the new trademarked name for Vigna dei Dardi, for those that know the Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantno wines, it means the vines are in a certain place within Bussia with the perfect exposure and soils giving wines of deeper color, richer fruit and more finessed tannic structure, the Fantino’s make classic Baroli, but one that is enjoyable even early in it’s life, and while stunning now they can age too. The ruby/garnet Casino Dardi Barolo starts with floral tones, mineral and spice along with red fruits and earthy allure leading to a powerful palate of damson plum, mixed cherry and tangy currant fruits with cinnamon, black licorice, pipe tobacco, rose petals, pepper, porcini/wild mushroom, saline, cedar and a touch of strawberry essence. There is a firm bite of tannins, a juicy lift of acidity and savory elements that hold back the fruit, this Barolo is wonderfully balanced and has plenty of room to grow in the future. I can only imagine how good the upper end old vine Fantino offerings, the Rieserva and the Vigne Vecchie will be, but this Casino Dardi-Bussia from 21 year old vines is a great deal and a glorious Nebbiolo that over delivers in this price range, don’t miss this Kermit Lynch import, and while it will be easy to drink them all now, put a few bottles away and be awesomely rewarded in 5 to 10 years! The latest set of wines from Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino are all worthy of attention, these are old school traditional bottlings with character and detail, especially this 2010 Barolo from a stellar vintage, drink from 2016 to 2026.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 6, 2015

2013WaxwingSyrah2013 Waxwing, Syrah, Lester Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Scott Sisemore’s San Francisco based micro-winery Waxwing Wine Company is a label to discover after a handful of vintages he is making some really good juice, all small lots of cool climate offerings, especially good are his Sonoma Coast Pinots and Syrah wines, but he also crafts a tasty Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah from Lester Family Vineyard. The Lester Family Vineyard at Deer Park not far from Aptos and very close to the ocean is a sandy/loamy soiled site that catches marine influence and lives on ancient seabed, the cool air allows long hang time and smooth tannin development, but with good acidity and lower alcohol, Scott has made the most of these qualities here in his 2013 Syrah, which he fermented whole cluster and soaked on the skins for seven days. The results are impressive, the 2013 Lester Family Syrah by Waxwing shows rich fruit intensity, silky fine grained tannins, lifting acidity and chocolatey texture, it was raised for 18 months in once used French oak and has a very pleasing mouth feel and a deep purple and garnet hue. The nose starts with crushed flowers, cinnamon stick and peppery spices with hints of dark berry and liqueur leading to a full bodied palate of blackberry, plum and sweet cherry fruits with mocha, new leather, anise and wild herbs and a hint of stems along with cedar and vanilla notes. This is a decedent Hermitage clone Syrah that is drinking ripe and forward young, but with it’s subtle complexity and structure I believe it might be interesting to tuck a few bottles away for another 2 to 5 years, I think it will really bring out some extra depth and character, and at 13.4% there is no drama of heat or loss off freshness, this is fun stuff and the finish is expressive with hints of cassis, blueberry, celery root and fudge lingering on and on.
($32 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 5, 2015

2012BrooksJanusPN2012 Brooks, Pinot Noir, Janus, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Brooks winery is an inspirational tale starting with passion, leading to heartbreak and then to love of family and responsibility and I’m honored to have had an early look in on this great journey in American wine and it was a pleasure to catch up with Janie Brooks Heuck and taste through the new releases. The Brooks wines are lovely, dynamic and filled with life, they are well crafted and have plenty of acidity to keep their fans happy, especially standing out right now are the 2012 Dry Yamhill-Carlton Riesling, the 2014 Pinot Blanc and the gorgeous 2012 Janus Pinot Noir. I remember tasting some of the first Brooks Pinot with the late Jimi Brooks, looking back it was a very special moment in time, and though sad he isn’t around now, you can still feel his presence and influence in these wines and certainly within his family, these wines truly possess his soul. Jimi liked lean and energy filled wines, and that tradition is strong, but this 2012 Janus has that something extra and really puts the vintage in the bottle with extra depth and generous character, this wine is a glorious example of year and place. The nose lifts from the glass with rose petal and hints of violets, red spice and soft earthy fruits leading to a beautiful and detailed palate of juicy plums, cherry, raspberry and currant fruits with marvelous textural harmony and mouth feel as well as a complex background with pepper, cinnamon, dried fennel, tea notes, fresh tilled earth and a touch of oak with cedar and light vanilla bean. Chris Williams, Winemaker, did a masterful job here putting all the elements together, this is top shelf juice and he deserves a lot of credit for reaching new heights of talent with his latest set of wines. If you admire Pinot Noir, no matter where from, be it Burgundy or the new world this wine will please and seduce you,it has a core of vibrant acid and silky ripe tannins holding the fruit in place, but allowing everything to shine in graceful fashion, for me it is one of the best all round quality offerings out there and one of the finest Brooks to date, it is also a deal, so don’t miss this new Janus it is a focused and lovely Pinot Noir, drink from 2015 to 2024.
($39 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

PS: For look into Brooks and their journey, see the film American Wine Story (available for download or streaming at iTunes and Amazon)

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 4, 2015

2013Lapierre2013 Lapierre, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The latest Lapierre is a beauty, the non sulphur cuvee “N” is the offering Kermit Lynch sells in the US in 750ml bottles and it is an outstanding Gamay showing more vitality and charm in this vintage than I can ever remember, this is a wine not to miss. I’ve been a fan of Lapierre since the 2006 and 2007 vintages, and along with Foillard are my favorite Morgon producers, these guys take Gamay to the next level, year in and year out, though I must say the 2013 Lapierre is something very special and is my favorite vintage, even getting my nod over the famously exotic and deep 2009, but by the thinnest of margins. The 2013 is more subtle and finessed than many vintages, but still has depth and gorgeous detail, plus the finish is the best yet in my book for this cuvee, it was truly spectacular in a recent tasting, and while there can be some bottle differences, I sampled three bottles and they all were absolutely stunning. The nose is perfumed with dried violets, acacia and fresh picked plum leading to a palate of cherry, blackberry, strawberry and tart currant fruits with sweet walnut oil, cedar and snappy minty herb, pepper and light earthy notes. There is a burst of red peach, flesh and stone along with a hint of saline that adds freshness and balance plus silken tannins and a bright lift of acidity, this is an easy wine to love and it flows gracefully with superb mouth feel and life. The finish is haunting with lingering cinnamon and lavender laced plumy red fruit, the Lapierre Morgon is totally rewarding and expressive, I imagine this one gaining with another few years in bottle and being best from 2016 to 2021, but then again I would be hard pressed to wait on this baby! This is really lovely stuff, pure, natural and terroir driven with the house’s style stamped on it, not always easy to find, but well worth the search, especially this 2013.
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 3, 2015

2014Pra2014 Pra, Soave Classico DOC “Otto” Veneto, Italy.
Made from mostly Garganega the Pra Soave is a crisp and gentile white of fine character and class, with subtle fruit and good detail and length, this in fact is one of the top whites from the Veneto and is a wonderful summer and or sea food wine. The 2014 is aromatic and poised with fresh acidity and cool mineral tones, it certainly pairs with clams, mussels and creamy cheeses, the profile here is delicacy and balance with lemon/lime, white peach and summer melon along with a hint of dandelion, wet stones, clay dust and basil with a touch of sea shells. Everything feels brisk and alive with a light bodied mouth feel, but with underlying depth, this is a pretty wine that does everything you ask of it, it has a nice steely charm and it pleases easily, solid effort again for Pra, proving it’s reputation for quality and style in Soave, drink from 2015 to 2018.
($22 Est.)91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day August 2, 2015

2012BradiailBaciale2012 Braida “il Baciale” Monferrato Rosso DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
Braida was one of the pioneers in elevating Barbera to Cru class and their commitment to this varietal hasn’t let up and this Barbera based blend “Il Baciale” is another gorgeous, generous and savvy wine with distinction and verve. This dark and medium/full bodied effort storms out of the gate with blackberry, cherry and plum along with minty herbs, anise, wild flowers and cedar offering richness and held together with acidity and ripe tannins. Giacomo Bologna’s il Baciale is a mix of 60% Barbera, 20% Pinot Nero, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot and is fermented in steel, separately and then raised in cask, with some parts in small barrique, this is a lot of wine for the money and it shows rich detail and texture, best with rustic and vibrant cuisines, especially meat dishes. The finish lingers with spice, cinnamon and dried currants, this is super tasty stuff, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($24 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive