2014 Sheldon, Syrah, Luc’s Vineyard, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
The latest and upcoming releases from Sheldon Wines, mostly 2014 vintage, are all stylish and wonderfully textured offerings much in line with their own character and low alcohol charms, especially the new Syrah from the recently formed Fountaingove District in Sonoma County, tucked in between Santa Rosa and the Russian River Valley with cool climate hillside fruit. Fountaingrove may sound new, but it is in fact an old wine growing area by California standards and was in fact home to the famous Fountain Grove Winery, established back in 1875 but spiritual cult leader Thomas Lake Harris who wanted to create a utopian society/community and produced some of California’s best wines at the time, though now only remains as a ghost winery. The area provides some impressive grapes from it’s mix of Sonoma volcanic and Franciscan Formation bedrock soils, Dylan and Tobe Sheldon found Luc’s Vineyard, a tiny patch of vines that include Syrah, Graciano and Tempranillo, and because of their love of Graciano decided to take all the grapes farmed here, and rather than producing a Rioja hybrid blend, they have separated the lots and produced a micro batch of wine from each grape with just two barrels of the 2014 Luc’s Syrah being made. The gorgeous and lively Luc’s Syrah by Sheldon is medium bodied, northern Rhone style Syrah, it is just 12.5% alcohol and reminds me of Arnot-Roberts and Bedrock Syrah with crushed violets, faint traces of cassis, bacon, truffle and cracked peppercorns coming through on the nose and palate with blueberry, loganberry and black cherry fruits. This is a classy and dreamy whole cluster effort that gains plummy layers with air, it has a bit of stem spice, black olive and star anise that compliments the tangy fruit, this is really good stuff from one of Sonoma’s coolest micro-wineries, it shows plenty of energy and length with crisp acids and mild tannins, drink from 2016 to 2022. This was one of the stars of the set that also included a sexy and tropical Grenache Blanc, a deep old vine Petite Sirah call Red Hat and the wonderfully expressive Vinolocity a Gigondas inspired cool climate low alcohol Grenache cuvee, they all should be available soon in the tasting room, don’t miss them, and in particular this juicy ultra-tasty light-footed and savory Crozes like Luc’s Vineyard Syrah.
($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2014 Domaines Minchin, La Tour Saint-Martin, Menetou-Salon “Pommerais” Pinot Noir, Loire Valley, France.
The La Tour Saint Martin Pommerais is a bright and fresh old world Pinot Noir with cool Atlantic influences and terroir character coming from the Mentou-Salon et Valençay on the Loire River, it shines with juicy reds fruits, perfect lifting acidity and a mineral spiced profile. The Minchin La Tour Saint Martin Pinot is grown on Kimmeridgian soils, a marl/limestone that is famous in Chablis, this chalk and dense clay add to the complexity and really give a sense of place in this wine. The 2014 Pommerais shows tangy red cherry, strawberry and plum fruits with hints of salty granite, red tea, apple skin and soft cedar notes framed with satiny tannin and lingering minty herb, zesty raspberry and cranberry. The sweet and savory play makes this unique Pinot great with holiday fare and many cuisines, a nice pairing with roast bird, pork and less spicy Asian dishes. At first glance this Loire Pinot seems subtle and simple, but it grows on you and gains in interest with air and will please for a few years to come, especially considering the price, best from 2016 to 2020.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive
2012 De Ponte Cellars, Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Baldwin family and winemaker Isabelle Dutartre (from Burgundy) have made De Ponte Cellars one of the finest small estate’s in the Dundee Hills, it’s an impressive vineyard with amazing valley views and the wines are some of the best values in Oregon Pinot. De Ponte Cellars also makes a great little Melon de Bourgogne, but it is their jory soil influenced Pinot Noir that really gets your heart pumping and the 2012 vintage is a not to miss beauty, full of intensity, depth and impressive ripe flavors. The 2012 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills is one of five different Pinots that were produced in this extraordinary year, and the best price, it was crafted from all estate fruit and saw about 20% new French oak, this maybe the sleeper in the set of 2012 offerings, being a bit less flashy and polished it shows great structure, vitality and length it has a lot of pleasure to give and should gain even more rewarding character over the next 3 to 5 years in bottle. The Dundee Hills De Ponte Cellars Pinot starts with a mix of floral tones with violets, rose petal and lavender coming through with dark berries, red pepper, smoke and minty herbs leading to a full palate of blackberry, plum, tangy red currants adding to a pure morello cherry core. There is a good play of juicy acidity to lift the weighty fruit and silky tannins to hold things nicely in place along with just the right amount of sweet toasty oak with just a hint of mocha and vanilla coming through, but with air some interesting truffle, mineral/flinty spice and licorice add to the array of flavors on parade. This is an easy wine to love now and I certainly recommend it for mid term drinking as well, plus if you get to Oregon, this is a must visit stop, best from 2016 to 2021.
($40 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2014 Domaine de la Tournelle, Poulsard “L’ Uva Arbosianna” Arbois, Cotes du Jura, France.
Evelyne and Pascal Clairet’s Domaine de la Tournelle is one of the rising stars in the Jura and the wines are very much in the style of Puffeney and Gahier, and the latest set of wines will not disappoint especially this unbelievably light/pale Poulsard. The 2014 Poulsard L’ Uva Arbosianna starts with a delicate hue, with much less pigment that your average Rose, but full of flavor, spice and sublime delicacy with wild strawberries, dusty lavender, rose oil and cracked peppercorns as well as tart cherry and plum along with light tea notes, candied orange peel and red peach. With air a fuller feel in the mouth unfolds with fine tannins, smooth acidity and earthy tones. There is a stone and mineral element as well, though still hidden mostly by the youth and freshness of this Poulsard, overall this is a interesting and pure expression of varietal and place, it is worth checking this classic Jura red out. Poulsard is a sommelier wine, sometimes difficult to understand or enjoy by the general public and it hasn’t quite got the stylish charms of Trousseau, it’s more desirable Jura cousin, but it still is a fun experience and Domaine de la Tournelle make a very intriguing and tasty version, drink this one over the next 3 to 5 years, and be sure to look for Domaine de la Tournelle’s powerful dry white Savagnin that can age decades like Riesling or old vine Melon in Muscadet!
($30 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
n.v. Bodegas Cesar Florido, Moscatel Especial, Medium-Sweet Sherry, Chipiona, Jerez D.O. Spain.
Sherry is vastly underrated as a food wine and it makes for a really special and flattering companion to Thanksgiving dinners, in particular medium-dry, medium-sweet and cream sherry styles, plus Pedro Ximenez for desserts works beautifully. I love the rare Moscatel Sherries with turkey and sweet potatoes or yums with floral notes and decedent texture plus exotic tropical fruit and sweet honeyed nut flavors they add lots of joy to the tastes of the holiday table. The Bodegas Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial is one of my favorites, it’s from the Jerez zone in Chipiona, an area almost exclusive to growing Moscatel with sandy soils and ancient vines, the Bodega was founded back in 1887 and is just southwest of Sanlucar, not too far from the sea. The Cesar Florido Moscatel Especial is not overly sweet or cloying with a nose of jasmine and sea breezes leading to a rich palate of peach tart, pineapple, honeyed mango, orange rind, apple butter, pecan and almond oil. the balance to wonderful with a contrast of briny nutty elements with the sweeter fruit playing well together. This well crafted Sherry goes great with cheeses and is great pre meal too, along with Tapas of course, Cesar Florido’s Moscatel is lovely stuff and a great deal with tons of character. It’s sad people tend to overlook fine Sherries, I highly recommend checking them out during the holiday season, especially Equipo Navazos, Lustau, Alvear, El Maestro Sierra and Cesar Florido!
($14 Est. 375ml/bt) 92 Points, grapelive
2011 Remelluri, Lindes de Remelluri Rioja, Vinedos de Labastida, Rioja Alavesa, Spain.
Made from old vines not farmed on the estate, Remelluri’s Lindes de Remelluri Rioja offerings are in my opinion the best young Rioja reds made for the money, and especially captivating and rewarding is the Lindes de Remelluri Labastida. Grown at elevation on chalky soils the Labastida showing wonderful depth, life and length, made from mostly ancient Tempranillo, it mostly likely has a good dose of Graciano and Garnacha in the blend making for a complex wine of sublime texture and detail. Telmo Rodriguez is coy about winemaking and varietals, he really only wants to showcase terroir in his wines, so getting exact grapes and process is like pulling teeth, but the wines are truly gorgeous and his two Lindes de Remelluri 2011, this Labastida and the San Vicente are wines to look for, they both are stunning values and savvy cellar choices, while Telmo’s estate offerings, the white, estate red and Gran Reserva red are world class. The 2011 Labastida Lindes de Remelluri starts with dark wild flowers, hints of truffle, smoke and black currants leading to a rich and polished palate of cherry, plum and fig fruits with anise, cola berry, cedar and exotic spices. There is vitality and refined tannins holding everything together and while lavish in feel there is underlying substance and power here, Remelluri has gone it’s own direction and it is well worth the ride, and this 2011 Lindes de Remelluri Labastida is highly entertaining, deeply impressive and a sensual delight, drink from 2016 to 2024
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2014 Arnot-Roberts, Trousseau, North Coast.
The Arnot-Roberts wines, in case you’ve not had a chance to try them, are some of the most interesting and wine geeky wines out there and their new release of Trousseau is another beautiful and delicate example. Trousseau is native to the Jura region of France, it is a light/pale red wine that is light to medium bodied, but wonderfully complex and compelling as a single varietal or in a blend with Gamay, Poulsard and or Pinot Noir, it is also in some Crement du Jura sparkling wines. In California it has recently been discovered in old vine field blends and may have found it’s way to California back in the late 1,800’s, about the time Zinfandel (Tribidrag) came west, and looks to have been planted together along with many other grapes, but in much smaller amounts. Duncan (Arnot) Meyers and Nathan Roberts of Arnot-Roberts have become champions of Trousseau and their 2014 is a really lovely effort with a soft ruby hue and bright flavors that show subtle ripeness and layers of wild strawberry, cherry and huckleberry along with a mix of herbs and spices plus faint earthy tones and mineral notes. This is a red wine that whispers gently in your ear and has a seductive sirens call, it is a pleasing and an old world charmer with silken tannins and lifting acids, it finishes with lingering and surprising length with cranberry, dusty lavender and rosewater. While slightly darker than it’s French cousins, the Arnot-Roberts Trousseau is a fine homage to it’s roots and a wonderfully detailed wine, drink from 2015 to 2020.
($35 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2013 Weingut Von Winning, Sauvignon Blanc Trocken “I” Deidesheim, Pfalz Germany.
I must admit for a few vintages I was in total denial and didn’t give enough attention or time to the Von Winning Sauvignon Blancs, but recently I’ve been transformed by these amazing wines and now consider them among the world’s best examples of this varietal! The Sauvignon Blanc “500” is monumental, and this Sauvignon Blanc “I” is not far off, both being more in the Bordeaux Blanc class of style and both riveting and mind blowing wines, the “500” is more woody and richer, and this “I” being fresher and more delicate. Both wines are aged in oak cast on their lees and fermented dry with the grapes coming off the loam, loess and red sandstone soils of Paradiesgarten in the Von Winning Deidesheimer planted in high density with very low yields. It is hard to image a better set of Sauvignon Blancs, and the pure intensity and complexity is absolutely humbling, but this is a winery that never rests and is pushing the boundaries, dedicated to extreme quality, every single wines translates the desire and passion to create something magical and special at Von Winning, while the Rieslings here grab the headlines, Stefan Attmann’s Sauvignon Blancs are remarkable in their own right and should not be missed, especially the Von Winning Sauvignon Blanc Trocken “I” 2013, it is simply stellar. The energy and depth is fantastic with white flowers, sappy herbs, smoky notes and vibrant citrus lead the way, loads of lemon/lime, kiwi, quince and opulent peach fruits unfold on the palate along with steely mineral, wet stones, a hint of vanilla/creme brûlée and sweet and sour, lemongrass, grapefruit seed and tangy acidity. The texture is sublime, with well judged balance with a lush feel, but still lifting, tangy and electric, this is stunning stuff that rivals any Graves Blanc and or the best of California, for those that have had Peter Michael or the new Shared Notes wines, you’ll be thrilled by this Von Winning, and I can’t help imagine it will get even better with age! This is luxury in a bottle, it will also change your mind and perception of what German Sauvignon Blanc is and can be, drink this game changer between 2015 and 2028, this stuff is the real deal.
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2014 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Spatlese, Munsterer Dautenpflanzer, Nahe Germany.
Importer Terry Theise describes the Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Spatlese as a “Horny” wine with uncontrollable urges, I like that, as for my notes, they include forward and flirty like comments, there is no way of getting around it, this is sexy and vivacious Riesling grown in a prime site in the lower Nahe. While not wine-porn in XXX fashion, this is a wine that does grab your full attention with layers of flavors and scents that excite and thrill, this without question over delivers for the price and should be in your cellar often, if not always! The 2011, 2012 and 2013 all rocked, and this 2014 is beginning to fulfill it’s potential and get beyond it’s youthful shyness, it has plenty of extract and mineral tones to age gracefully for decades, but still shows an elegance that will make it easy to enjoy even now. The 2014 is very pretty with added delicacy and shows more of a fan dance that a poll dance, it teases, but still winks at you to let you know there will be a very happy ending! This makes for racy Sunday morning reading, but this is that kind of Riesling. The 2014 Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Spatlese is grown on a mix of sandy loam and a bit of slate allowing Georg Rumpf and the team at Kruger-Rumpf to craft a generous and stylish wine, this wine even at Spatlese sweetness continues to impress with it’s poise and balance, it is a fantastic food wine, especially with smoked meats, Asian dishes and roast bird. The nose is full of exotic flowers, wet steel and yellow fruits, white violets, anise and salted rose petals leading to a rich palate of honeyed verbena, peach, tangerine sorbet, crushed river stones, a burst of bright lime citrus, apple and a hint of basil leaf over dried pineapple. The mouth feel is creamy as it warms, but everything flows in orderly rhythm and is taught with precision heightening the pleasure, drink from 2016 to 2028, I’m thinking perfection with Thai cuisine, maybe date night take away would be best!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2014 Purple Hands, Pinot Noir, Stoller Vineyard, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Purple Hands winemaker Cody Wright, son of famed Oregon legend Ken Wright, has really got something special in this latest release and certainly he will be a talent in his own right. The 2014 Stoller shines in the glass with heady aromas and a youthful fullness on the palate highlighting the ripe and lush vintage the 2014’s are turning out to be in Oregon, this is going to be an outstanding year for Pinot Noir, rich and deep like the 2008 wines, but with more balanced alcohol and vigorous acidity and Cody’s 2014 Stoller has it all! The nose brings violets and black currants along with cinnamon and red pepper spice leading to a dark and mouth filling palate that showcases blackberry, plum, sweet cherries and sticky lavender along with minty herbs, vanilla, cedar, a hint of smoke plus earthy stones, dusty and salty flint and wilted roses. There is some tannin and vibrancy in this wonderful terroir expressive Pinot grown on Jory soils, this is an impressive effort from a great organic site in the red hills of Dundee, Purple Hands is a winery that you should check out, and especially this 2014 Purple Hands Stoller. Drink this beauty over the next 7 to 12 years, best from 2017 to 2024, though as with a really good wine, it will be hard to keep your hands off it even now, this is tasty well crafted stuff!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive