2007 Woodinville Wine Cellars, Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington State.
Stan Barrett, owner of Woodinville Wine Cellars since 2001, and Sean Boyd, winemaker, are crafting some beautiful Washington wines from four top vineyard sites, two in the Columbia Valley Ava, one in Red Mountain and one in the Yakima AVA, all of which are set into interesting terroir and have wonderful exposures to get the maximum out of the grapes. WWC does an impressive set of wines, especially intriguing are the reds with Syrah leading the way, though you wouldn’t want to miss their GSM, Malbec and Cabernet based offerings either, a huge thank you to their sales director Cara Almberg for getting some the wines in front of me, in particular this extremely dark purple/black 2007 Woodinville Wine Cellars Syrah, which is divine and shows deep fruit, maturity and classic Washington character. The 2007 Syrah leads with gorgeous and densely packed fruit, this is full bodied effort at 14.8% alcohol, but is is drinking with poise, focus and grace, it reminds me a bit of Delas Freres and Guigal Cote-Rotie(s) in it’s rich detail, complexity and ripe tannin, though purely Washington in flavor and thickness with violets, baking spices, sweet pipe tobacco, creme de cassis and minty dark chocolate along with a core of boysenberry, blueberry and black cherry fruit. lingering smoky vanilla, lavender, cedar, mocha and salted black licorice add to the smooth layers found in this wonderfully pleasing hand crafted artisan Syrah. At highly attractive release prices and with such outstanding quality, you’ll want to get on their mailing list ASAP, again thanks to Cara for letting me start with a nicely aged example of Woodinville Wine Cellars, can’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming releases, especially if they are as stunning, serious and compelling as this!
($35+ Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2014 Clos Teddi, Grande Cuvee, Patrimonio Blanc AOC Corse, France.
The 100% Vermentinu (Vermentino) Grande Cuvee is aged on it’s lees in 600L demi-muids giving this Corsican white a rich and textural mouth feel without losing any vitality or class, it certainly has more style and depth than the stainless offering from Clos Teddi. Grown on the north side of the French island on soils similar to limestone that you might find in the Loire Valley or Burgundy, all of Clos Teddi’s wine have an elegance and charm, not as rustic as the wines from the rugged west coast which are set on granite and schist. The exotic Grande Cuvee shows smooth layers of white peach, mixed citrus, green melon and a hint of tropical fruits with decedent detail and fresh acidity along with subtle floral notes, saline, spice and liquid mineral essence. The delicate wood influences add a pleasing density to this lovely medium bodied white that is an excellent cuisine wine, going great with seafood, cheeses and even more robust fare. Clos Teddi’s White, Red and Rose are very well made and offer a solid value in Corsica terroir driven wines, the regular line are nice stainless clear wines, but the Grande Cuvee offerings are a big step up in style and substance, especially in the Patrimonio Blanc and Rouge (100% Nieliuccu) with the 2014 white and 2013 rouge, both of which are outstanding, but Rose is the main wine of Corsica, making up 51% of all wine made on the island, so you must always take it seriously and Clos Teddi’s is a fine example.
($25+ Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Laporte, Sancerre Rose, Les Grandmontains, Loire Valley, France.
Another gorgeous pink, the Laporte Sancerre Rose of Pinot Noir Les Grandmontains really delivers fresh intensity and bright Pinot character with crisp mineral driven layers and lingering red fruits. Laporte hand-crafts their lovely rose from grapes grown on a core of limestone on loamy/chalky soils, hand picked and de-stemmed the Rose is fermented after 24 hours on the skins, at cool temps and aged a few 4-6 months on it’s lees, but without malo, making for a flavorful and vibrant wine. The care and detail shines through with the terroir, this is a classy and energy possessing Rose of Pinot Noir that starts with tart cherry, steely watermelon, strawberry, mixed citrus, rosewater and minty lavender as well as wet stones along lingering blueberry, red citrus and red apple skin. This brisk and wonderfully hued Rose has all the right stuff to make for a perfect summer wine, perfect for picnics, great with or without food and can easily transition from day to night with impressive flexibility and grace, be sure to keep an eye out for this one!
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2015 Arnot-Roberts, Rose of Touriga Nacional, Luchsinger Vineyard, Clear Lake.
One of the most pleasing and complex pink wines of the season comes from Duncan Meyers and Nathan Roberts of Arnot-Roberts, their outstanding Rose of Touriga Nacional that hails from Luchsinger Vineyard in Kelseyville, Clear Lake AVA. This bright and almost leesy pink is savory and dry with crisp mineral intensity and pretty subtle fruit essences, Arnot-Roberts matched the terroir and varietal to near perfection, allowing the mix of river rock and volcanic soils as well as the hot days and cool nights of Lake County to unfold layers of complexity and charm. The nose shines with rosewater, red pepper and citrus in this pale salmon hued wine that shows serious restraint, but wonderful focus with dynamic acidity and gorgeous length with light raspberry, tart cherry, strawberry, watermelon and mixed citrus as well as liquid mineral, wet slate, grapefruit, a hint of basil/mint and faint lavender. It’s hard to imagine it getting better than this, this brisk and dusty rose gives some of those old school Provence roses a real run for their money from this unique in California Portuguese grape. Arnot-Roberts are crafting some great wines, especially this Rose, but be sure to keep an eye out for their majestic Syrah(s), the cult hit Trousseau and the amazingly beautiful Trout Gulch Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2013 Tenuta Tascante-Tasca d’Almerita, Nerello Mascalese, Ghiaia Nera IGT Rosso, Sicily Italy.
Grown on the north side slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna volcano this 100% Nerello Mascalese Tascante Ghiaia Nera “Black Pebbles” is from terraced lava rock vines and a cooler site than the south exposure, making for a lovely expression of delicacy and detail in this wine. Often called the Burgundy of the volcano, or Sicily, Nerello Mascalese has silken tannins, a flavorful lighter body, ruby color and heavenly length, especially intriguing and remarkably priced for the quality is Tasca d’Almerita’s Tascante, an artisan estate making just Nerello Mascalese and a white Carricante. The 2013 Ghiaia Nera starts with flinty spice, earth and dried rose petals as well as fresh strawberry, raspberry and poached plum with satiny fruit, vibrant acidity, shale/saline and tangy lavender, peach and herb tea notes. Not as dense of deep as some of the more famous Foti influenced wines of the Mount Etna DOC, but certainly a great place to start if you want to try this mysterious varietal that drinks like a sexy Pinot Noir, but has the unique terroir character and rustic charm of the island, this is very much a winner. Drink this medium weight, low alcohol Nerello Mascalese over the next 3 to 5 years, it is an impressive package and a value!
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2014 Liquid Farm, Chardonnay, White Hill, Sta. Rita Hills.
The latest Liquid Farm set of Chardonnay offerings are simply put, stunning, and this 2014 White Hill is mesmerizing with gorgeous detail and vitality, it might just get a place in the Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay Hall of Fame along side a few of Greg Brewer’s older Brewer-Clifton Mount Carmel bottlings and some of Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman’s newer Sandhi Chards! Liquid Farm’s White Hill is their tribute to Chablis, it comes from the coolest sites on chalky soils and sees no new barrels, making a stylishly crisp dynamic and higher acid wine that captures the soul of this windswept region to the north of Santa Barbara. The nose has classic white Burgundy charms with lemon, matchstick, hazelnut and white flowers leading the way in this beautiful light golden Chardonnay with saline infused and energy filled layers of green apple, white peach, wet stones, clove and subtle tropical elements. The Liquid Farm White Hill fills out on the palate to medium weight, but retains it’s focus, cut and vibrancy throughout, this is well judged and handcrafted artisan wine at it’s most pure and lovely, and while the richer Golden Slope and La Hermana Chards are more flamboyant and dense, I just adore this vintage of White Hill with it’s Dauvissat like class, this and their Rose are my favorites of the Liquid Farm lineup, don’t miss them!
($42 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Gramercy Cellars, The Third Man, Rhone Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington State.
Greg Harrington’s The Third Man 2012, a Washington style Chateauneuf inspired Rhone red is really hitting it’s stride with beautiful ripe fruits, texture and length, this Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is very sexy stuff, to be honest this is the kind of wine that will make you think twice, like the Charles Smith Syrahs, about paying a hundred or two hundred for a mediocre Napa Cabernet! Pardon the run-on sentence and terrible grammar, but it is a important thought these days with many Napa wines starting at almost $150, and I’m not saying many are not good or great even, but certainly the Gramercy wines look like awesome values in comparison, especially a wine like this one that has verve, alluring depth and rich mouth feel. The 2012 Gramercy Cellars The Third Man starts with a nose of vibrant red fruits, floral tones and a mix of sweet and savory spices with blackberry, boysenberry, mission fig, framboise and cherry compote un folding on the full palate along with hints of clove, pepper, black olive, anise, lavender and cedar. The tannins are sweet and the wine has a hedonistic density, but there is still a charming vitality and balance for such a pleasure filled, 14.7% alcohol (the same as most Chateauneuf du Pape and less than a lot of Napa Cabs) no question this is a bigger style wine, it will shine with lamb, steak or duck breast even. So if you are looking for serious new world Rhone wines, it’s a great time to check out Gramercy and Washington State, drink this beauty over the next 3 to 5 years.
($42 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2014 Henry Marionnet, Touraine Rouge, Premiere Vendange, Loire Valley France.
My favorite of the set of wines made by Jean-Sebastien Marionnet of Henry Marionnet and Domaine de la Charmoise in Touraine was his wonderfully expressive all natural 100% Gamay Premiere Vendange, though all his wines deserve attention. The Premiere Vendange 2014 is made with organic grapes, no chemicals, no additions at all, native yeast and has no added sulfur as well as no oak, this is about as pure wine as you can get and it’s damn good, it picks up the terroir and is not either funky or tuti fruity with impressive detail and ripe layers. Being Gamay you’d expect a lightness or carbonic sense, but the Marionnet Touraine Premiere Vendange has a cool mineral and spice subtlety and light floral notes with hints of violets, flinty stones, black currant, plum and cherry fruits with a touch of loam and wild herb. This is really attractive Gamay that delivers a medium body, charming style and substance to be a serious dinner companion. Marionnet crafts a very worthy set of wines, mostly Gamay, but also has Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and a rare ungrafted Romorantin.
($22 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2014 Domaine de la Bergerie, Anjou Rouge, La Cerisaie, Loire Valley, France.
Yves Guegniard’s Domaine de la Bergerie Anjou red is a beautiful example of terroir and is an exceptional value, made from 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on sandy/clay soils. The wine is vinified separately by varietal with about a third cold soaked for 3 days to extract color, the tank raised Anjou La Cerisaie is a vibrant and delivers pure Loire character with violets, spice, leather and a bit of earthy green pepper. The palate is vigorous and medium/full with a hint of raw tannin, but everything flows beautiful and the mouth feel is more luxurious than you’d expect for a wine of this price, I had to check my notes a couple of times to be sure I was on the correct wine, this is impressive stuff, and Guegniard’s Chenin and Cremant de Loire Brut were wonderful efforts too. The red berry, plum and dark currant fruits linger on in this Anjou Rouge with hints of loamy/stoney earth, tobacco leaf and tart huckleberry adding complexity. Drink this stylish effort over the next 3 to 5 years, imported by Martine’s Wines, this well priced and packaged label is one to search out.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2015 Skylark, Pink Belly, Rose of Grenache, Mendocino County.
One of the nicest California Rose wines of the new season so far is Skylark’s tasty Pink Belly, made from old vine whole cluster fermented Grenache from Mendocino, this wine was crafted just to be pink with early picked grapes and is a lovely crisp effort from Robert Perkins, Boulevard Restaurant’s ex-Somm and one of the nicest guys in the business. Tasting with Rob through the lineup of Skylark was a treat, especially exciting were his Pinot Blanc 2015, the 2013 Red Belly Carignane, Syrah and Grenache blend and this wonderful new release of Pink Belly. The light pink/salmon hue shines in the clear bottle and in the glass with light catching delicacy and it is an energy filled and mineral fresh wine on the palate with watermelon, tart cherry, tangy citrus and strawberry along with rosewater, spice, dried lavender and saline rich wet stones. This is a really sexy Rose and maybe the best yet from Skylark, don’t wait on this one, Perkins says the response has been unreal, and I can understand completely, it is should to sell out within weeks. The acidity and vitality in the Pink Belly make for a super refreshing, lighter weighted style, but no less flavorful and compelling, a pure summer sipper. Also look for Skylark’s Las Aves Priorat (Spanish) style red blend, a beautiful Cabernet, Syrah, Carignane and Grenache hybrid that for about $30 is perfect for the main course after the Pink Belly Rose runs dry!
($17 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive