Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 30, 2016

2014ridgepagani2014 Ridge Vineyards, Zinfandel, Pagani Ranch, Sonoma Valley.
Since Ridge will be using some new plantings from the 2015 vintages going forward, the 2014 Ridge Pagani looks like the last 100% Old Vine Zinfandel, and what an amazing wine to finish off with, this is just gorgeous wine with 17% Alicante Bouschet and 3% Petite Sirah this Zin delivers a knock combination of hedonistic fruit and lovely detailed spiciness. This 2014 Pagani looks to go down as a classic with oodles of dark plum, black raspberry and tangy currant fruits along with distinct wild sage, framboise and kirsch, briar and a hint of sweet and cedary oak. Light floral tones, mineral and red pepper add to the mix in a lush, forward Zinfandel that at 14+ % Alcohol never feels over the top or heavy, while still pleasing all the senses, stunning now, it should age wonderfully, I’d love to taste this one again in 5, 10 and 15 years, I bet it will be fantastic at each stage, hats off the Ridge gang in putting such a great lineup out of 2014 Zin blends, these are some of my favorite ever, especially this Pagani and Lytton. I tasted this along side the 2013 Ridge Monte Bello, but rather than get lost behind such a majestic wine, it showed just how damn good this wine is, and that Zinfandel can create just as much magic in the glass! 2014 Ridge Pagani, a Zin to stock up on, drink from 2016 to 2026 at least!
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 29, 2016

2013cliffledecs2013 Cliff Lede, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District, Napa Valley.
Beautifully textured, weighty and deeply layered comes Cliff Lede’s wonderful full bodied Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, this is top drawer stuff! In fact all the latest Cliff Lede, and his new, ex-Breggo Anderson Valley, Fel wines are all brilliant offerings to look for. I really was impressed with the stylish and luxurious 2013 Cabernet, this is an elite wine of richness, class and opulence without being over the top or woody with blackberry, creme de cassis, cedar, sweet tobacco and blueberry compote. There’s mild anise and smoky vanilla to add to the depth of flavors with sweet ripe tannins and lavish mouth feel, this was a far more interesting wine and rewarding than many Napa wines that sell for almost twice the price, does it make it a bargain? No, but certainly it gives value for the money, and I can see it aging at least 10 to 15 years. The plummy black fruit is jammy, but forward and this is a serious Cabernet Sauvignon that is hard to resist, young, bold and lovable, again this is a slick very polished effort from a winery on a roll.
($80 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 28, 2016

2013cluselrochvialliere2013 Clusel-Roch, Cote-Rotie, Vialliere, Rhone Red, France.
The 2013 Cote-Rotie’s from Domaine Clusel-Roch are a set of excellent and elegant Syrah wines, very beautiful, textured and vital offerings that will lend themselves to early drinking pleasure and reward those with a lack of patience! The vibrantly intense Vialliere Cru, from almost impossibly steep granite slopes and small yielding hand farmed and picked vines, is lovely with a deep almost inky hue of garnet, purple and ruby which leads to a fine palate of classic terroir driven character and layers with ripe tannin and less whole cluster influence than you’d expect from this organic Domaine, unlike the stemy 2011’s and or the lighter tangy/tart 2012’s the Clusel-Roch 2013’s are on a whole new level of balance, focus and rich majesty. The profile of this gorgeous Vialliere comes through with boysenberry, mulberry, crushed violets, peppercorns, graphite/camphor, Greek olive, earth/briar, salted black licorice as well as blueberry, creme de cassis and lingering damson plum, kirsch and lavender oil. While there is a hint of cedar wood it is sublimely subtle and everything here feels silken and pure, one of the most refined and lifting Cote-Rotie bottlings I can remember from Clusel-Roch, hats off to Guillaume and his mum Bridgette and dad Gilbert, this is a stunning example and a great wine. The dial back in this vintage of whole cluster or the vintage itself adds a new dimension and sense of grace, without taking away anything from the wine as a whole or changing the house style, I was left very impressed and with a huge smile on my face, and while I adored the 2011’s and still do, these 2013’s are very special, I would think they will continue to improve and fill out over the next 3 to 5 years, though as mentioned, they will offer lots of fun and seductive charm even young. I can easily see my own score rise a few points on this Vialliere, and you should check out the basic cuvee that delivers a performance that is almost on this level and the top cuvee Les Grandes Places that is certainly the most densely packed, chewy and powerful, that will make it more attractive to cellar, honestly they all rock!
($90 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 27, 2016

2014legrosnsgperrieres2014 Domaine Francois Legros, Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Perrieres, Red Burgundy, France.
Bravo to importer Charles Neal for one of the best Burgundy discoveries of the year! The Domaine Francois Legros 2014’s are a quite stunning and fetching wines with richness of palates, fine details and elegance, especially wonderful in this line up was the Vougeot 1er Cru Les Cras, maybe the best young Premier Cru Vougeot I’ve ever tasted, right up there with de Vogue, and this glorious Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Les Perrieres that just flows with gorgeous floral notes, earth, spice and tantalizing fruit essences! Francois and his daughter Charlotte are crafting beautiful, but concentrated wines from their small cellar in Nuits-Saint-Georges, all of their plots are at least 40 years old and are worked by hand with sustainable methods and great care, they ferment with native yeasts and age for about 18 months in barrel, some new, which adds to the decadent feel, their wines fall somewhere between Robert Chevillon and Meo-Camuzet in a polished, though extracted style. The 2014 Nuits-Saint-George 1er Cru Les Perrieres bursts from the glass which a stream of rose petals and crushed violets, loamy sweet earth, baking spices and black cherry fruit in a deep ruby hue, as well as tiny wild strawberries, briar notes, flinty mineral and some round creamy wood shading. While the Vougeot grabs you and stuns you with power and velvety length, this Les Perrieres seduces with class, mystery and intrigue, it is hauntingly beautiful with subtle depth and lingering with an array of black, blue and red fruits, raspberry, currant, plum and tangy blueberry along with hint of vanilla, blood orange tea and chalky saline. Refined tannin, vital acidity and density of fruit/body provide sound structure on this lovely terroir influenced effort, giving promise of age worthiness, which I suspect would be solid for midterm drinking, best from 2018 to 2025, but the best thing of all, is that this open knit and opulent red Burg can be enjoyed now! Though it should develop nicely in bottle, it can already give lots of pleasure and is a thrilling and impressive Pinot Noir, be sure to look for this Domaine!
($75 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 26, 2016

2013flywheelpn2013 Flywheel, Pinot Noir, Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone, Monterey County.
Scott Shapley’s Flywheel label is a wine to search out, only tiny amounts of wine crafted from the Chalone appellation make this exciting new offering a tough get, but Roar’s winemaker has made a great set of 2013 wines that you should find, especially this fantastic Pinot Noir and his Chardonnay, though both the Grenache and Mourvedre (My fav of his Rhone style wines, made from only two rows of vines!) are interesting wines as well. These hand made bottlings only add up to about 250 cases, that’s really only 12 barrels in total, and if I heard correctly the Pinot was only 3 or 4 barrels, so these are rare indeed, but oh so good! The 2013 Pinot Noir shows an inner energy and drive that is fascinating, but it’s amazing perfume and striking mineral and chalky/stone tones set it apart, it starts with dusty dry river rocks, crushed violets and rose petals, tangy red currant and baking spices before forming a medium weight palate of black cherry, wild plum and raspberry along with subtle forest floor, ceps, tea spice, soft vanilla and saline. There is a touch of tannin and vibrancy from nicely polished acidity that give a sense of firmness and structure, though the mouth feel is excellent, graceful and lingers with silky sex appeal, this is lovely Pinot Noir from a talented guy, be sure to look for these wines as well as the fabulous wines he does at Roar. The Flywheel Brosseau Vineyard Pinot is drinking well right now, though I suspect considering it’s terroir, quality and style, it should be able to cellar 5 to 10 years with ease, this is an impressive new effort with focus, detail and finesse, there’s lots to admire here!
($38 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 25, 2016

2011luisescolma2011 Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez, Ribeiro Tinto A Torna Dos Pasas “Escolma” Galicia Spain.
Hand-crafted from a field blend of Brancellao, Caino, and Ferrol, all old native grapes, the fantastic 2011 Luis Rodriguez Escola Ribeiro red, a special selection of lots, is the top wine of this small estate that has become the pride of the region, these are wine that people in know are coveting and speaking about in the same league as the some of the best Burgundy wines. The whites without question from Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez have the drive and texture of Meursault, but with the flinty mineral zing of Premier Cru, if not Grand Cru Chablis, and the reds to have similar qualities to Cote de Nuits, though are even more unique as they feature details that also remind you of Barbaresco and Cote-Rotie, especially this A Torna Dos Pasas Escoma Tinto which sees time in French oak and is held longer before release, it’s deep in color, spicy and wonderfully layered with gorgeous mouth feel. The Atlantic climate, cool and wet, adds brisk acidity, saline and this wines almost never get to 13% alcohol, making for elegant, though richly detailed and densely flavored, grown on granite with areas of sand, schist, slate and clay these wines highlight this special terroir through their soil and micro climate. Luis Rodriguez’s wines are made using natural yeasts and see stainless and neutral wood during fermentations and then raised in French cask, some new depending on vintage, he is not stuck on a formula or dogma, mostly he makes each wine from feel, or an intuitive sense, and the results are simply heavenly. The 2011 Escolma Tinto really seduces the senses with rose oil, crushed violets, tar, black licorice, earth and white pepper unfolding along with black cherry, plum, blueberry and mulberry fruits, at first you think things are Pinotesque with bright focus, but things take on a deeper note as the wine opens and the cascade of flinty spice/mineral, fig paste, lavender, huckleberry and savory elements gather on the medium weight palate that certainly take on that Nebbiolo meets Syrah sensation. With sweet opulent blue and black fruits coming to the front and center this wine is ever changing in the glass, fascinating and undeniably sexy this Ribeiro is lengthy and unnervingly alluring, additive and thrilling, and while the 2010 was a bit more structured and age worthy, this is not far behind and is more open knit at this stage. One of my most pleasurable experiences in Spanish wine was meeting Luis and tasting his wines, in fact I got a preview of some of his awesome wine last year along with Pedro Rodriguez (no relation) the winemaker of Guimaro, another of my favorites, and even got to enjoy some from magnums with tapas, an evening I won’t forget anytime soon! All of the latest wines from Luis A. Rodriguez, imported by Jose Pastor Selections, are lovely wines, some of Spain’s best, this is a winery to check out, and the region of northwest Spain, including this area Ribeiro, but also the Ribeira Sacra and Rias Baixas with wines of producers like Nanclares, Guimaro and Vina Mein really standing out, just to name a few! Galicia is one of the most exciting wine regions in Europe right now, and right near the top is Luis Rodriguez, I’m completely in love with these wines and the people behind them, they are passionate and humble to a fault with great soul and a rustic elegance, full of charm and life, don’t miss them!
($60 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 24, 2016

2015monasteriowhite2015 Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, Albarin Blanco “Vina Grandiella” VDT Cangas, Asturias Spain.
Jaun Redondo’s Monasterio de Corias is one of my favorite wineries, I love the guy and his wines, they are pure country wines with life and style grown on steep slopes and on broken slate soils that give great mineral tones and spicy character, and while I usually go for his red no oak Joven Albarin Negro/Mencia blend, I also love this rare old vine Albarin Blanco! No relation to Albarino, Albarin Blanco is a historical local white grape from this ancient, but almost forgotten wine region in the Asturias region of Galicia, and while Albarin Blanco, also found in Leon, is sometimes referred to as Pais Blanco and maybe related to the white Mission grape, but regardless of the lost history or mystery surrounding it’s origins, here at Corias in the small area of Cangas it is a low alcohol, cool climate wine with it’s own unique persona with zesty acidity, medium body and crisp/steely detail. Mostly natural in fermentation and raised in stainless steel vats with only about 3 months on it’s lees, the Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, named after the old local Monastery that first grew grapes in the region, Vina Grandiella 2015 Albarin Blanco shines in the glass with a bright pale golden color and is wonderfully fresh on the palate with green melon, lime blossoms, apple and lemon/lime citrus flavors along with flinty spice, saline and almond paste adding complexity along with zippy acidity and light brine and herb notes. This is tasty and fun wine, worth checking out as are all of Jaun’s intriguing reds, all the wines here are meant to be enjoyed with food and quaffed young it their first couple of years, though I’ve found the reds to be fairly serious and well structured, thinking they could surprise with some age on them. Imported by Jose Pastor Selections.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 23, 2016

2014sensestanuda2014 Senses, Pinot Noir, Tanuda Ridge Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.
One of the up and coming stars of the Sonoma Coast is Senses Wines, with superstar winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown crafting this small production artisan wines, it is amazing set of 2014 wines they’ve put out, especially as the owners are a group of three school friends in their early thirties! I met up with Chris Strieter, who has been involved a few wine projects and shared his experiences and tasted me through his lineup of stunning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, all from top sites in the real west and ultra cool Sonoma Coast, they have taken a big portion of the famed B.A. Thieriot Vineyard as well, you’d know this prized Chardonnay vineyard if you’d had Littorai version! The Senses Chards are lovely, I especially admired the basic Sonoma Coast, but the huge potential lies in their mentioned Thieriot and the blockbuster Charles Heintz Vineyards offerings, though my favorite wine of the 2014 Senses was their gorgeous Tanuda Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, this was a wine that stopped me in my tracks with it’s incredible focus and elegance, it is complex, yet wonderfully easy to fall in love with! The 2014 Tanuda starts with dark fruit, wild spices, pretty and sultry smoky elements with hints of rosewater and violets leading to a vivid and transparent palate of layered cherry, plum, black raspberry and a bright fruit bowl background with red peach, candied blood orange and tart currants along with cinnamon stick, cedar, anise and tea spices. The wood is perfect melded in and everything is taught and vital throughout. This is lavish and sexy Pinot Noir, though lifted and vibrant with lacy acidity and silky textures, this Pinot should drink great for the next 6 to 8 years without question, Thomas Rivers Brown of Schrader and Rivers-Marie (his own label) has done a masterful job with these wines, I recommend chasing them down, as they are still under the radar, though not for long I suspect! I was skeptical when I first heard of these guys, but this wine blew me away, if this is what the youth of today is working on now, the future looks even better and is in good hands.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 22, 2016

2015ange2015 Domaine de L’Ecu, Vin de France Rouge “Ange” Loire Valley, France.
From the cool Atlantic influenced Muscadet region of the Loire Valley, the beautiful Ange from Domaine de L’Ecu is an intriguing wine with an ancient tradition flare with gorgeous texture, length, stylish and delicately nuanced fruit. Crafted from 100% Pinot Noir, all biodynamic, native yeast fermented and raised in amphora the Ange by Domaine de L’Ecu is one of the most unique expressions of this varietal I’ve tasted and loved! This all natural, pure and direct Pinot Noir is wonderfully graceful and stunning in fine detail with lovely strawberry, plum, red berry and dark cherry fruits on the light to medium weight palate with vibrant brightness, rich mouth feel and interesting savory elements and spice with chalky/stony earthiness and a hint of earth. The first impression is of spring roses, wilted petals, warm roof terra-cotta tiles as well as mineral tones and raw cinnamon on the nose and entry, before giving way to the mentioned array of silky flavors and velvety tannin. At 12% and from an ultra cool climate, this is an energy filled Pinot Noir that shows loads of character, finesse and charm, I must admit to be utterly seduced by this elegant expression of grape and place, it really is a new spin on Pinot Noir and it’s lingering red currant, lavender spice and subtle loaminess is captivating! Domaine de L’Ecu is most known for their terroir driven plots of old vine Melon and wonderful soil marked Muscadets, but they have been exploring Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir in amphora in recent years with longer skin contact with impressive results, this is a winery to watch, and this vintage 2015 looks set to really up their game to the next level, this is amazing stuff!
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day September 21, 2016

2013cattleya2013 Cattleya, Syrah, Soberanes Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
Deep and dense with amazing layers of black and blue fruits the 2013 Cattleya Syrah is one of the best Rhone style California wines out there! Bibiana Gonzalez Rave-Pisoni, the Colombian winemaker and vineyard consultant, is making some stunning wines, her stints in at some of the world’s great estates, including Stephane Ogier in Cote-Rotie, has helped her develop her love of place and to get the best out of each terroir, it shows in her work at Pahlmeyer with her Wayfarer Pinot Noirs from the Seaview/Sonoma Coast as well as the wines she does under her own label Cattleya, in particular her gorgeous Alban clone Syrah from her husband’s (Jeff Pisoni) family vines at Soberanes. I firmly believe, and have mentioned time after time, since 2004 the Pisoni’s and Franscioni’s have farmed some of the best Syrah in the state and that in most vintages the Pisoni/Lucia and Roar Syrah offerings have been just as good if not better than the more noticed Pinot Noir! And certainly if you get a chance to taste this rare Cattleya 2013 Soberanes Syrah you most likely will agree and then some. Soberanes is Pisoni’s youngest vineyard, but it maybe the most impressive, it is extremely rocky and was daunting to plant, Mark Pisoni and his crew deserve a lot of credit getting this special site up and running, they picked the best clones of Pinot (Pisoni clone) as well as old Wente clone for the Chardonnay and chose the Alban clone for the Syrah vines, and now with some meaningful age these vines are delivering on their promise in a big way, like the Pisoni Estate, if you see Soberanes Vineyard on a label, you can also guarantee sublime quality in the bottle, especially true here in Bibiana’s gorgeous Syrah. The 2012 was great, but the texture and length on the 2013 might give it the edge, it shows loads of blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and plum fruit along with wonderful spice, mineral and brambly earthy complexity with stony detail and hints of game, cedar, licorice, creme de cassis and black olive notes. Violets, cinnamon, camphor and clove also play in the nose and on the background of this purple/black Syrah, there is truly an ode to Cote-Rotie in this beautiful wine, but without question it is Soberanes that gives this wine it’s voice and sexy charms, this is an opulent and seductive Syrah with ripe/firm tannins, nice lifting acidity that was impeccably hand crafted a fantastic winemaker, if you can find it, get it, drink over the next 10 years! By the way, her husband’s version is worth checking out too, wow, what a talented family this is… I have be drinking the Lucia and Roar Syrahs since the first public releases back in 2000, they are stylish and age worthy wines to this day, and this Cattleya takes them to another level, look for it, it deserves to be among the state’s elite set and is!
($70 Est.) 96+ Points, grapelive