Monthly Archives: September 2015

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 20, 2015

2013Tetramythos2013 Tetramythos, Agiorgitiko, Peloponnese Red, Greece.
The Tetramythos Agiorgitiko is an impressive red wine that delivers fresh intensity, savory spiciness and deep fruit, it comes from high elevation and it has an interesting cool climate character, it isn’t unlike Austrian reds, it has a mouth feel and quality that reminds you a bit of Blaufrankisch or St. Laurent! This interesting Greek red shows blue and red fruits on the palate with a hint of aromatic floral perfume and mineral spice, it has a creamy texture with refined tannins and juicy acidity, it all flows together nicely from start to finish making for a detailed and complex wine. The main profiles of fruit in the mouth are red plum, blueberry, cherry and black raspberry with a hint of dried currant, baking spices and black olive. Agiorgitiko is the most widely planted red varietal in Greece, it is also known as St. George, and it is usually blended, most often with Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a difficult grape to grow well as it is prone to need water and is sensitive to many vine problems. The best areas for Agiorgitiko are areas with altitude and cooling influences, it is a late ripening grape and takes constant thinning and care to produce it’s best flavors, so this Tetramythos is what it looks like when done well and deserves praise and attention. When drunk with grilled meat and or with Middle-Eastern cuisine this charming red comes alive and exotic spices and fuller bodied character comes out, it is without question one of the more pleasing Agiorgitikos I’ve ever had, drink this fun red over the next 2 to 3 years.
($14 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 19, 2015

2013Barda2013 Bodegas Charca “Barda” Pinot Noir, Patagonia, Argentina.
The Charca estate, owned by Piero Incisa della Rocchetta of the Sassicaia family, was founded in the remote desert of Southern Argentina in Patagonia, it was discovered by the Italian by chance and is formed around an gnarly head trained old vine Pinot Noir vineyard, and is one of the great new legends in the wine world. I’ve tried the Estate Charca Pinot and it is the real deal, but this was the first time for me to taste the second wine of the Bodega the Barda “The Ridge” which is from lots of juice that didn’t make the single vineyard wines and the young vines that were planted less than 10 years ago, the old vines at Charca were planted in 1932 and look more like old California heritage vines than Pinot! The 2013 Barda by Bodegas Charca is a lovely and fresh wine, de-stemmed, but with whole berry fermentation in cement vats, almost carbonic, and aged in mostly neutral French oak, it is unfined and unfiltered and there is very little sulfur used. The wine starts with a delicate ruby hue, soft floral notes and a mix of red fruits and spices lead to the palate which shows raspberry, tart cherry and strawberry along with red plum, cinnamon, sweet herbs, tea spice and a hint of cranberry, earth and salty stones. This is classy and interesting stuff, it opens to a smooth and silky texture, but has a bight vibrant character throughout, it is hard to place it’s terroir in comparison to the great Pinot Noir regions, but it does share some qualities with maybe Chambolle or Morey-St.-Denis, though more red fruited and the gravel, galets and limestone soils in Patagonia add their complexities similar to maybe the Pfalz Spatburgunders of Germany, but regardless, this is very stylish Pinot Noir, rare and enchanting. The Barda by Bodegas Charca finishes with a crisp mouth watering austerity and a lingering blueberry note, there’s lot to admire here, drink from 2015 to 2020, and be sure to check out the Charca Estate and the single vineyard wines for something even more intriguing!
($37 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 18, 2015- Happy International Grenache Day #GrenacheDay

2013DOureaVacqueyras2013 Domaine D’ Ourea, Vacqueyras, Rhone Red, France.
This gorgeous Vacqueyras is a mind blowing effort from a new young vigneron Adrien Roustan, who looks to be the next Rhone superstar and who is growing his grapes all biodynamic, and at some elevation which gives these wines some greater life and vigor. The Domaine D’ Ourea Vacqueyras especially this 2013, which it is assumed is mostly Grenache with a good dose of Syrah and Mourvedre, shows a real dark element and core with the Syrah varietal character shinning the brightest at this stage with exceptionally deep purple/garnet color, a heady violets and spice bouquet and loaded with blue fruits. The core of Roustan’s Vacqueyras is deep blueberry, boysenberry, sweet raspberry and wild plum fruit along with fresh cracked peppercorns, paprika and crushed stones as well as hints of black olives, creme de cassis, cedar, lavender and anise. This Domaine D’ Ourea Vacquetras is stunning in the glass and on the palate with a bit more vivid intensity and pitch than you’d expect from the Southern Rhone, it reminds me of the profiles you find in the marvelous wines of Domaine Gramenon and or Maxime Laurent, which is high praise as these producers are some of my favorites. I look forward to following the Adrien Roustan wines over the coming years, both his Gigondas and this impressive Vacqueyras, I’m certain these are going to be must have wines, and without question I’m going to get a few more of the 2013 Domaine D’ Ourea Vacqueyras, it is a thrilling effort with a pleasing mix of beautiful details with floral tones, meaty/savory elements, dense black fruits and earthy spices, this is truly awesome stuff, drink over the next 3 to 5 years!
($29 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 17, 2015

2014OcchipintiSP68Red2014 Arianna Occhipinti, SP68, Nero d’ Avola/Frappato, IGT Rosso, Terre Siciliane, Italy.
It’s well known now that Arianna Occhipinti is a superstar and one of the leading lights of the “Natural Wine” movement, but it is worth mentioning that her wines are getting better and more complex with each vintage, and she has really turned out some special stuff in the 2014 vintage, especially this SP68 Rosso in particular, it is a full flavored joyful bottle of wine. The 2014 SP68 Rosso IGT Terre Siciliane is a blend of Nero d’ Avola and Frappato, similar to Cerasuolo di Vittoria, it is a darker version that in the past with a garnet/blue hue and packed rich transparent layers of vibrant fruit, as also with Arianna’s wines there is great detail, silky tannins, a sense of place and vivid acidity, this is impressive and easy to love. Arianna’s latest SP68 starts with a bouquet of red rose petals, sweet herbs, mineral spice and a mix of black, blue and red berries with black cherry leading the way on the palate with plum, cranberry, strawberry and juicy red peach adding depth of character along with slate/stones, fennel, blood orange, dried currant, red pepper and hints of earth, cedar and bramble. At first things are light and playful, but with air things get rather more serious and deep and the finish is very clear and lengthy with blackberry and mission fig lingering on, this is Arianna at her best and the alluring and enduring charm of her creations. The SP68 red is flexible and can be enjoyed young and with many cuisine options, I think it will be superb with Thanksgiving and or Christmas meals, it can be slightly chilled, Beaujolais style, spicy dishes, even some sea foods and it holds up to meat well too, drink from 2015 to 2020, at 13% it seems larger in scale to prior releases, but still showing her delicacy and it has a very Pinot Noir mouth feel, some of the best yet from Occhipinti, don’t miss.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 16, 2015

2014SavaryVV2014 Francine et Olivier Savary, Chablis, Selection Vieilles Vignes, White Burgundy, France.
The Savary Old Vine Chablis is one of my all time favorite wines, it is a great deal and has everything you could want in a Chablis, it blows away wines twice and three times the price. I call this this the “Baby Raveneau” and when you taste it you’ll understand why, it is always intense, vigorous and mineral rich, but the Savary VV is a no quilt and drink now option! When Kermit introduced Savary to the wine world back in 2006 or so, I was in awe of just how good a Chablis in this price class could be and I’ve been a huge fan ever since, and I believe legend has it that Bernard Raveneau and Kermit Lynch had a hand in getting the Savary’s to bottle their own wine, and now they offer three different cuvees in the States, they do a lovely Premier Cru Fourchaume, a straight Chablis AC and this Selection Vieilles Vignes. I only have eyes for the Old Vines cuvee, for me it is the perfect match for my palate and I usually drink a bit of it myself. The 2014 is a beauty, one of the purist vintages since 2007 and 2008with steely character and sharp tangy fruit, it is alive and mouth watering with nice density and flavors, but with loads of chrunchy acidity and stony elements, it’s like dipping into a cool forest stream on a hot day. The Savary Old Vines starts with a hint of white flowers, tangy citrus, traces of sea shore and flint leading to a pale palate the reflects with a bit of greenish/gold in the glass and has a burst of lime, white peach, green apple and zesty lemon fruits with chalk, ultra steely mineral and river rock along with a slight touch of hazelnut. This is electric and vibrant Chardonnay, I like it now, though I suspect it will gain depth and interest in the short term, it might be fun to put some down for 5 to 7 years and see, but I know I would be hard pressed not to drink it all much sooner, drink from 2015 to 2021.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 15, 2015

2012GillesCornas2012 Guillaume Gilles, Cornas, Northern Rhone Red, France.
This is one of my favorite wines, and this vintage of Gilles Cornas is really alive and richly packed with flavor showing the juicy ripe nature of the year and highlighting his gifted touch with Syrah. The 2012, as per normal, 100% Syrah, all whole cluster, natural/native yeast ferment and raised in mostly old casks, in other words, this is a tardily crafted wine with very old school character, but the attention to detail is amazing and everything is poised, finessed and beautifully balanced. The Syrah is from great sites and the terroir shines through with lots of mineral, deep layers and sublime textures, this Guillaume Gilles Cornas is very lovely stuff, I’ve had the Gilles Cornas going back a few years and I loved each and every one of them, and while the 2012 isn’t quite the best year, it still merits top marks and is an exciting thrill of a wine that will not disappoint, and it should get a bit better in the bottle. The 2012 Guillaume Gilles Cornas starts with heady red fruits, camphor, minty herbs, pepper and flinty minerals along with seductive crushed violets, the color is invitingly dark and the palate is dense and deep with blueberry, boysenberry, damson plum and mulberry fruits along with red and white pepper, black olives, melted licorice, cedar notes, dried currants and kirsch. There is a youthful meaty quality throughout with bacon fat, blood/iron in the background in this complex Syrah and there is plenty of vivid acidity to keep the fruit in focus along with a fair amount of grip from fine structural tannin, this wine shows a nice medium/full body and has glorious length. This is a wine to search out and savor, best to rest it a few years in the cellar, patience will always be rewarded in these wines, best from 2018 to 2024.
($75 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 14, 2015

2014SilvestriPink2014 Silvestri, Rose of Pinot Noir, Estate, Carmel Valley.
The 2014 Rose from Silvestri is from estate grown Pinot Noir in Carmel Valley and is about the best pink wine I’ve tried from Carmel Valley and it’s easy to enjoy with it’s fine detail and fresh dry crispness. When you want to taste some of Carmel Valley’s best best wines, Silvestri must be included, their fine Barbera stands out as well as the estate bottlings of Syrah and Pinot Noir, and be sure to look for the 2013 vintage in the reds, they are the best yet from Alan Silvestri, the Academy Award nominated composer of famous music scores including Forrest Gump, Back to the Future and Predator. The Silvestri pink starts with brisk and steely notes of vibrant citrus, rose water and spice leading to a light and refreshing palate of tart sour cherry, watermelon, strawberry, pepper, chalky stones, a hint of earth and is lifted by tangy acidity, making for a very fine effort. The price seems a tad high, but then again only about 6 barrels were made and it certainly is delicious enough to splurge on, plus this warm summer means there is not going to be much left hanging around, especially at the Silvestri tasting room downtown Carmel by the Sea, where the long summer heat has driven the tourists into the areas tasting rooms by the droves, myself included! Silvestri is making some really good stuff and are great people, drink this Rose of Pinot Noir over the next 6 moths to a year, it’s exciting, cool and tasty.
($25 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 13, 2015

2012RidgeMonte2012 Ridge, Monte Bello, Proprietary Red, Santa Cruz Mountains.
One of the great wines of California, the Ridge Monte Bello delivers pure class and First Growth substance and this infantile 2012 will certainly be one of the vintages big prizes with hedonistic fruit, firm structure and gorgeous detail, this is one for the cellar, no question. The 2012 Monte is about 64% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest being made up of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, I’m almost convinced they could have gone with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon in this vintage, but because the other grapes did so well they earned their spot in this great wine and they add unique flourish and the Merlot especially gives a plummy rich roundness to the bold palate, while the Franc and Verdot add spice, color and additional bouquet, the mix gives the Ridge Monte Bello a certain Chateau Margaux character in this vintage. At 13.8% alcohol, the 2012 is just above average to most recent versions, though very well integrated into this stylish Bordeaux blend that still retains acidity and structural poise with firm fine grained tannins and complex layers of fruit, earth, subtle wood, spice and mineral tones. The 2012 starts with red fruits, slight floral expressions, smoke, pencil lead and cassis leading to a mouth that unfolds with blackberry, dusty plum, currant and dark cherry fruits along with black olive, sweet tobacco, cedar and black licorice. The wood feels a perfect frame with subtle vanilla and toasty feel that doesn’t intrude on the moment and there is a background array in this dark garnet hued wine that leave faint traces of mocha, pepper, sage and acacia flower. This beautiful Monte Bello still has some baby fat to burn and it feels big and powerful, but nothing is out of place and the future looks stunning for this vintage, best to invest in it’s rewards and give it a decade in the cellar, drink from 2022 to 2035, this will be a great one to own, bravo Ridge for another amazing Monte!
($165 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 12, 2015

2014AlfaroAGruner2014 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Gruner Veltliner “A” Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This is a blend of two plots of Gruner at Alfaro, and while the single vineyard and organic La Playita is getting extended lees and barrel aging, the “A” from both sites is ready to enjoy now, and it is a sexy little wine with plenty of character, vibrancy and intensity. Alfaro’s Gruner is maybe some of the state’s best and has found a perfect home here in the Corralitos area of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the climate is cool and the wines result in dry and sizzling versions of this Austrian varietal, both this and Alfaro’s Albarino are excellent alternative whites offering exciting acidity and unique flavor profiles, they are good companions to their excellent Chardonnays, this winery is on top of it’s game right now, I highly recommend scoring these limited edition offerings, especially this Gruner Veltliner, which is fantastic with an array of food choices from shellfish, mixed seafood, cheeses and Asian cuisine. The 2014 “A” Estate Gruner starts with light white flowers, fresh squeezed meyer lemons, a hint of almond, verbena and seashore notes leading to an electric and vigorous palate of tangerine, wild peach, sour apple and crisp lemon/lime along with mango, oyster shell, river stones and salt lick. This Alfaro Gruner has a light to medium body and brisk mouth feel making for a zesty and refreshing wine, but opens up and has the impression of density, finishes with lots of zing and it really makes your mouth water, very fine and exciting Gruner Veltliner, the Alfaro and Tatomer versions are the best of this grape in California and really do justice to their Austrian cousins. I had an exciting visit to Alfaro recently and everything was tasting fantastic, I was able to taste a tank sample of Estate Chardonnay as well that was pure and Chablis like, there is some thrilling wines being put out by Richard Alfaro, you should really investigate them for yourselves, lots of fun stuff to discover, and in particular this sexy little white, drink this crisp and tangy Gruner from 2015 to 2019.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 11, 2015

2014DonnhoffHermannshohle2014 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Hermannshole, Grosses Gewachs, Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
The Donnhoff Hermannshole GG Trocken Riesling is one of the world’s top wines, in fact in some years it is by far and away the world’s greatest dry white wine, and while the 2014 might not be the best vintage, it certainly deserves high praise and attention. The Hermannshole Grosses Gewachs from the Nahe is a savvy choice every year, especially for those that collect or cellar their wines, it is a great value in it’s class, as the prices for comparable Burgundy offerings, think Coche-Dury, Roulot, Raveneau, Sauzet, Ramonet or even Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, all of which cost double, triple or more than the Donnhoff for Premier Cru or Grand Cru bottlings! The 2014 Donnhoff Hermannshole is refined, stylish and has a near perfect balance of austere subtlety and delicate aromatics with vibrant acidity, vigorous energy and a mix of savory terroir elements all layered together in seamless joy. This all said, the best to come from this vintage is a few years away, be patient, have faith and wait, the rewards will be amazing, as the potential in this and the two other main Grand crus from Donnhoff will need time to fully develop, but the raw material is there, hidden and shying away from the spotlight. Hermannshole is a vineyard Cru that has unique soils, part volcanic, loose rock and slate, this gives a vast array of spice, mineral tones and intensity of fruit, you might compare it to Montrachet or the Les Clos in Chablis, it is one of those very special places and it makes for sublime wines, both dry and sweet, all of which are rare and beautiful! The 2014 Donnhoff Riesling Hermannshole Grosses Gewachs starts with white roses, citrus blossoms and flint rock splinters along with subtle brine, tropical essences and green melon leading to a vibrant palate of lime, grapefruit, apricot and sour apple fruits as well as wet shale, saline, white tea, steely mineral and lingering tangerine and soft peach. This is way too young to unfold completely, but the core elements are lovely and the structure and spine are forming an excellent base for future pleasure, the 2011 and 2012’s were much more flamboyant and blockbusters, this one will take it’s own sweet time to get to it’s best, I hope I get a chance to see and taste it again, there is some wonderful stuff building slowly in this glorious expression, it is worth a go for sure, drink from 2018 to 2027, in the meantime find the 2007, 2009, 2011 and without question grab any 2012 you see!
($75 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive