Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 31, 2016

2015spreitzerggrosengarten2015 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Trocken, Rosengarten, Grosses Gewachs, Rheingau Germany.
Spreitzer’s gorgeous Oestricher-Lenchen Grand Cru Rosengarten 2015 is already performing beautifully in the glass and is at this stage showing more expressive detail, perfume and elegance than the other GG’s in Speitzer’s very impressive 2015 Riesling lineup from the upper Rheingau. I could almost see Rosengarten in the fading light of a beautiful day visiting with Andi (Andreas) Speitzer from his tasting room, but earlier when we drove by it you could see how special this block is and this wine reflects that, the site is not far from the Rhein, which is like a lake in effect here and the mixed soils, mostly loess/loam/clay allow heady floral notes, deep fruit essences and a delicacy that seduces, especially in a great vintage such as this 2015. The beautiful Spreitzer Rosengarten GG takes this old winery to new heights, in recent vintages the wines have really taken on dynamic personalities and charm, but 2015 sees a huge jump in presence in the glass, I was always a fan and I admire Andreas and his brother Bernd very much, they are warm and energetic personalities with a hard work ethic and great sense of humor, especially Andreas, who tirelessly, during harvest drove me and walked me around his vines and cellar always with a huge smile, a beer and lots of jokes! The rich and dry Rosengarten Grosses Gewachs 2015 starts with yellow rose petal, fresh lemons, white cherries, peach and apple flesh before a full and decedent palate that shows lush density, but also vigorous acidity, saline/savory tones and wonderful length in a broad shouldered and leesy Riesling that has a hint of wood that in some ways reminds me a bit of Von Winning wines, though this white is less flamboyant in style. I must say the three GG’s at Spreitzer, the Wisselbrunnen, the St. Nikolas and this Rosengarten are all fantastic young wines that will cellar well and be legendary for Spreitzer, and even though at this stage I love the Rosengarten best of all, I can easily imagine I will find the others to catch it up in 5 or 10 years! The secondary tastes and layers that emerge from the delightful 2015 Rosengarten Grand Cru build slowly and completely seduce you with rosewater, mango, lime and compelling mineral and briny liquid stones rounding out the program. What stands out in my memory is the exotic floral detail, orange/tangerine notes and faint earthiness that accent this beauty, while brisk and crisp and mouth-wateringly dry, there is a sexy opulent mouth feel, showing the talents and focus of the winemaking, bravo Spreitzer, drink this modern classic over the next 10 to 15 years, best from 2018 to 2030. I think it is wonderfully fitting I end the year 2016 with a Riesling, for me it has been the year of Riesling, especially from the 2015 vintage and from Germany, it has been without question the breakthrough grape of the year!
($47 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 30, 2016

2015arnotrobertsscsyrah2015 Arnot-Roberts, Syrah, Sonoma Coast.
Joe Roberts and Duncan Meyers are making great authentic/terroir wines and the 2014 and 2015 releases have been nothing short of spectacular from Arnot-Roberts, and especially their Syrah offerings, like this 2015 Sonoma Coast Syrah, which is detailed, vivid, textured and northern Rhone in style. Everyone is terrified to say something along the lines of Syrah is finally taking it’s place at the top of the food chain, or the it’s time it took a turn in the spot light, because of the past curse of “The Next Big Thing” that has never happened in the American wine market place, even though Syrah is quietly very successful and is a great wine in California, in particular you should try Syrah from Alban, Pax/Windgap, Lucia by Pisoni, Lagier-Meredith, Samsara, Piedrasassi, Bedrock, Kongsgaard, Stolpman, Peay, Big Basin, Epoch, Booker, Cattleya, Rudius, Sheldon, Andrew Murray and Roar to name just a tiny few of stunning wines, along with this Arnot-Roberts that craft awesome Syrah, and in fact are great values and some of the State’s best very best wines! The truth is Syrah, at every price price point, comes out as good or way better than Cabernet or Pinot in quality and value terms, so it has always been hard to understand way the mainstream wine buyer doesn’t take it, Syrah, to heart or as seriously as it deserves! This latest Arnot-Roberts Sonoma Coast Syrah is a deep and spicy example with crushed violets, minty anise, creme de cassis, wild plum, kirsch, black olive, white pepper and blackberry leading the way with hints of bitter coco, saline, camphor/embers, crushed stones and light cedar notes. This pure and lively Syrah dances on the palate with vigor, racy acidity and good depth, complexity and length in a medium full bodied wine that has refined tannins, but richness and structure to age a decade or more. This is one of the more concentrated versions yet of this wine, a blend of cool climate Sonoma Coast sites, native ferments and partial whole cluster from a vintage that had tiny yields, this is a special and very limited artisan Syrah, drink over the next 5 to 10 years, very impressive stuff. This latest tasting with Arnot-Roberts was mind-blowing, along with this Syrah and their Trousseau which are always my favorites, Duncan poured what maybe the best Pinot Noir I’ve tasted all year, it turned out to be a 2012 Arnot-Roberts Coastlands Vineyard, Sonoma Coast, with grapes he got from Ross and Daniel Cobb, sadly there is none available, but it does show the remarkable talents of these guys, I seriously would easily give that wine 100 Points! Look for these killer wines, this 2015 Syrah is a thrilling wine and will get even better over the next year or so in bottle.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 29, 2016

2015cosfrappato2015 COS, Frappato, Terre Siciliane, Italy.
The bright and textured 2015 COS Frappato is a joyous red from Giusto Occhipinti and team, it is one of best yet in terms of clarity, pure character and stylish form. COS Frappato 2015 shows it’s terroir and roots in near perfection, it was from mainly in the Vittoria zone with the vines set into the classic clay, tufa and sandy soils, the grapes were hand harvested, native fermented on the skins and it was raised in mostly glazed cement vats, making for a wine of medium weight, lively and wonderfully fresh. The vintage gives a bit of extra pop and density which plays well in this wine, 100% Frappato with layers of red berry fruits, wild herbs, chalky/stony notes and mineral tones all melding together with nice acidity and satiny tannins. Light floral perfume, brilliant ruby color and a hint of earthy charm lead you off the line before a palate of tart plum, strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry and lingonberry fruits as well as lavender, anise and peach tea spice. This COS 2015 Frappato at first sip is simple and refreshing with lots of zesty tang, but after a minute the complexity and an array of flavors comes to life, there is certainly a slow burn reaction and it blossoms in the glass and really is a sexy and compelling wine, drink this interesting red over the next 3 to 5 years.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 28, 2016

2015krugerrumpfkapellenberg2015 Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Trocken, Munsterer Kapellenberg, Erste Lage, Nahe Germany.
The seductive and vibrant dry Munsterer Kapellenberg Erste Lage (VDP Premier Cru) 2015 from Kuger-Rumpf is one of beauties I got to taste with Georg and Stefan Rumpf at the winery in October, and though I don’t think it was imported as of yet, I thought it was too good not to mention. This gorgeous Riesling was a sleeper in the lineup and as is good as the Grosses Gewachs at this stage, it is a flamboyant and powerful wine with about 13% alcohol, it has body and is briskly dry showing wonderful texture, extract and mineral with vivid yellow, white and tropical fruits. Georg Rumpf was kind enough to show me around his vines and wines during a busy day of harvest in the fall of 2016, and I was honored to eat lunch with the family and crew at the Rumpf house in Bingen, after tasting an amazing array of 2015 wines, as mentioned before I lucked out that I was visiting Kruger-Rumpf the day after Robert Parker’s Stephan Reinhardt had been there and almost all of the wines he tasted I got to sample as well! Along with 2001, 2006 and 2010 selections was this 2015 Munsterer Kapellenberg 1er Cru Trocken, and it really stood out, Georg’s 2015 are stunning, all of which deserve mention and attention, so even though I’ve chosen this wine in particular, be sure to search out his latest set of wines including his fantastic Scheurebe and the glorious Dautenplanzer(s) dry and sweet! Kruger-Rumpf made some great wines in the difficult 2014 vintage, many of which are still available and drinking great young, but Georg really hit a home run with these 2015’s are the wines reached new heights for this artisan winery in the Nahe, and the new labels look great as well. The pretty golden hued 2015 Munsterer Kapellenberg grown on a mix of grey slate, loam, quartz and sandy soils is steely and saline rich, but with heady rose petal perfume along with a rush of mixed citrus, tart apple, pineapple, summer melon, fleshy peach/apricot and mango fruits as well as oyster shell, tea spices and liquid stones. With air a density fills the palate and it has an almost tannic character, but remains pure, focused and juicy with plenty of elegant charm and poise, this is stylish dry Riesling. The Kruger-Rumpf wines are all compelling, I admire each and everyone from dry to sweet, and as I have mentioned, do not over look the Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese wines from Kruger-Rumpf, they are truly must have wines along with these glorious dry Trockens, especially if you want to cellar some, they are also great values, considering too, they age 20 to 30 years, getting better with each year and or decade! Thanks again to Georg and his family for such a great visit, I can’t wait to return, and if you can’t find the Munsterer Kapellenberg in the states, look for the Estate Trocken and especially the Dorsheim Trocken!
($28 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 27, 2016

2012alfaropn2012 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Lindsay Paige Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
I don’t know how I missed this one in my cellar, but I’m sure glad it was there on Christmas, it was a gorgeous and thrilling wine to follow up on the Christmas meal, it had to impress, since it was coming after a stunning Vajra Riesling and a slightly dried out 1986 Chave Hermitage, and it did beautifully! Thank you Richard Alfaro, you saved Christmas with this estate Lindsay Paige Vineyard Pinot, it certainly made my night. The Alfaro estate in Corralitos, not far from Santa Cruz and Aptos, is a gem in the hills focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though they also do a great set of Gruner Veltliner, Albarino and Syrah, taking advantage of the closeness of the cool Pacific Ocean and good exposures the wines here show a vitality and brilliance, especially this Lindsay Paige Pinot Noir, which is showing fantastic right now, but should go for 10 or more years with ease. At a click under 14% and a deep ruby hue this wine has blossomed in the bottle with silky fine tannins and mouth feel as well as exceptional purity of fruit, it’s a very classy Pinot with dark cherry, plum, dense raspberry and pretty cedary/spicy oak shadings, light mineral tones, cinnamon and tangy fennel along with lingering strawberry and currant. In some ways it feels Oregon like and has layered complexity, graceful acidity, subtle floral notes and earthy tones in the background, this 2012 Alfaro Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Lindsay Paige really hit the spot, and even though I’m already a die hard fan of Richard’s artisan wines, this knocked my socks off, and it reminds me I need to get more of his wines!
($40 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 26, 2016

2013nobili2013 Nobili, Valtellina Superiore “Sassella” Lombardy, Italy.
A wonderful experience these Nobili Valtellina’s, a great and generous sharing from a friend who bought them at the winery and carried them home to show a few friends, they are beautiful expressions of mountain Nebbiolo! Tasting through the lineup of these quality offerings from Nobili, including this pretty and intriguing Sassella, plus their mineral driven Inferno and the Amarone style Sforzato Montescale, all of these are lovely, natural and earthy with wondrous layers of flavor. I think both the Inferno and Sforzato are great wines, though might need more time, like Barolo, to develop all their detail, but young, the Sassella is just more open and pleasing with a mixed floral perfume, subtle truffle, leather and savory tones going fantastic with delicate plum, cherry and vine picked briar berry fruits. The Sassella is made from all estate grapes grown in the Sondrio area of Sassella, known locally as Chiavennasca, the Nebbiolo grapes are native/natural fermented over 20 days and raised in barrel, mostly used French oak for three years. With harvest happening in November, these long hang times add to the full and complex array on the palate with dried roses, liquid violets, red berry and wild anise in this medium bodied wine. A nice acidity, stony elements and saline also give focus and lift in Nobili’s Sassella, what a treat to taste these beauties. Clear and pure in character the Nobili Sassella Valtellina Superiore 2013 is gorgeous with cuisine and should age for another 5 to 10 years, though I adore it now!
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 25, 2016-Merry Christmas

2014beauxfrereszena2014 Beaux Freres, Pinot Noir, Zena Crown Vineyard, Eola/Amity, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The Zena Crown, single vineyard series, from Beaux Freres is a wonderful example of year and place captured in bottle with glorious silky texture, light earthy/loam and deep fruit at it’s core. Usually a component part of the main base wine at Beaux Freres, the Zena Crown, was too good to be blended in, much like the Shea Vineyard has been in top vintages over the years for Beaux Freres, so was raised and bottled on it’s own. The vineyard has 48 distinct blocks and is at a pretty good slope with a beautiful surrounding of a conifer forest, it’s terroir is uniquely Eola/Amity with southly exposure, cool nights and has a loam/stony and Jory soil structure, which is excellent for Pinot Noir here in Oregon’s prime region. The volcanic iron and mineral plays itself subtlety into this fruit driven vintage with nice mixed spice and flinty notes that set off the blackberry, dark cherry and tangy plum fruits in Beaux Freres 2014 Zena Crown, along with hints of sweet leather, anise, cinnamon, peppered lavender oil and smoke adding detail to this seamless and beautiful Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, this is classy stuff from Mike Etzel and team. Brilliant ruby with an unfiltered/unfined opaque core this Zena Crown is one of the best yet from Beaux Freres non estate wines, it’s a more elegant wine than blockbuster at this stage, but should prove even better with 10 years of age, like a Burgundy (Gevrey-Chambertin especially) in many ways with a satiny core, but with hidden depth and charms, this is a wine of magical potential, impressive and well crafted, it gives just a few clues to it’s future greatness with lingering violets, rose petal, tangy currant and mild cedar/vanilla wood framing. The pieces all fit nicely together in Zena Crown, this Pinot is expressive and medium bodied with vibrant layers, it is a superb offering, just slightly under the estate wines that should go 20 years easy, and while maybe with a touch less glamour or flamboyance this wine is very seductive.
($75 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Year

2015leitzkaisersteinfels2015 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Trocken, Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels, Terrassen, Grosses Gewachs, Rheingau Germany.
My wine of the year is Johannes Leitz’s gorgeous and powerful Kaisersteinfels Terrassen Grosses Gewachs dry Riesling from the top of the Rudesheimer Berg, this wondrous wine I believe is the first ever Grand Cru Trocken from this site and is a pure masterpiece in the bottle. Drinking this wine in the vineyard was a magical experience, taking in the beauty and historical landscape while sipping on near perfection is a special moment and this Riesling is more than worthy of my complete admiration, it holds your attention like few wines can and the intensity of terroir cannot be questioned. This Leitz Kaisersteinfels in is league with the great white wines of the world, and it’s glorious liquid stone and steely mineral complexity shines brilliantly, it’s a wine that stands easily with the top Grand Cru whites from Chablis, in fact it reminds me of a Valmur with it’s brisk and flinty natural and laser like focus. The 2015 vintage sees Leitz raising his game to the next level, Johannes’ wines have always stood out in the region and his pursuit of quality is relentless, but these 2015’s are legendary wines throughout his lineup, from top to bottom. The Glorious Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels Terrassen Grosses Gewachs was just coming out of it’s austere youthful shell when I sampled it, but you knew the second it hits the palate that something remarkable has happened, it is a wine for the ages and certainly needs a bit more time in bottle to fulfill it’s massive potential, though it’s greatness and grace is plain to see already, it comes at you in a rush of vibrant citrus, green apple, white peach and spicy tropical fruits along with wet shale, liquid mineral and saline. The acidity is eye popping and the extract coats the mouth with high velocity, but with leopard like muscle, graceful and sleek, this is a wine that makes your head spin! The slate driven soils with veins of quartz and wonderful south exposure of the terraces give ripeness, but the cool nights and great airflow up here allow a slow and steady process with a later pick date and heathy grapes without noble rot, and while the Spatlese from Kaisersteinfels is amazing, this Trocken Grand Cru is jaw dropping spectacular and stunning. With air and patience the 2015 Kaisersteinfels shows savory tones, a hint of leesy richness and a dreamy background of mango, white tea, honeydew, rosewater, kiwi and tangy lime. I waiting a long time to relate my thoughts on this one, in reflection there is transparency and clarity, this is utterly amazing stuff. Bravo everyone at Leitz, especially Johannes for making such a fantastic wine, It is truly my WINE OF THE YEAR!
($56 Est.) 98 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 23, 2016

2015laperdidaamallada2015 Nacho Gonzalez-La Perdida, A Mallada, Valdeorras, Spain.
One of the coolest wines I’ve tried all year and a very unique amphora raised red from Spain, the La Perdida A Mallada from Nacho Gonzalez is a blend of Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and Sumoll grown near Laruoco in Spain’s Galicia Valdeorras region. Gonzalez loves his terra-cotta pots and his wines are totally unique and ancient throw backs with a modern touch, everything is organic and natural from start to finish, these unfined/unfiltered wines offer a sense of Orange wine like savory elements, but remain poised, pure and beautiful in flavor, texture and length, especially his reds like this A Mallada, but his Godello clay pot raised white is also a fascinating wine as well, along with his Mencia Naranjita that I was able to taste at a special introduction event this last November with importer Jose Pastor Selections and Farm Wines in San Francisco. The 2015 A Mallada is spicy, floral and has layers of tangy/sweet red fruits as well as mineral notes, stony elements and silken mouth feel, it gets more interesting with every sip, this wine is a alive with character and is ever changing on the palate with dried roses, violets, saline and a lovely mix of cherry, raspberry and poached plum fruits along with cinnamon, anise, pepper and sticky lavender oil. There is a chalky cool streak that gives hint to the vessel used in making this intriguing red, but it is much more subtle than wood as a flavor, though the wild herb, slightly bitter stone fruit pit and game note mark the skin contact, but this is well integrated into the wine, which has ripe tannins and mild acidity that gives balance. More pretty than intense, the Nacho Gonzalez La Perdida A Mallada tinto is a really wonderful example of well crafted artisan Amphora wine, I was awed by all his wine, but this A Mallada really stood out on the day, and I can say with all honesty, you will never find this combination of winemaking and these varietals together anywhere else! Nacho’s wines are just being released into the United States and are extremely limited offerings, so they’ll be a tough get, but I highly recommend searching them out, I can’t wait to re-visit them if I get a chance.
($42 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day December 22, 2016

2015dutraive2015 Jean-Louis Dutraive-Domaine de la Grand Cour, Fleurie Cru Beaujolais, Le Clos, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes, France.
The 2015 Dutraive Le Clos old vine Gamay is as close to perfection as you can get, but with a flamboyant and exotic flair that will scare the hell out of some people! This gorgeous and richly flavored Fleurie is much more like Scarlett Johansson than 60’s icon Twiggy, with amazing textures and an eye popping 14.5% alcohol this is a blockbuster Cru Beaujolais that will seduce every inch of you! Jean-Louis Dutraive’s all natural and biodynamic, Jules Chauvet inspired Domaine de la Grand Cour is one of the great wines of the world and this 2015 Cuvee Vieilles Le Clos is like The Guigal La La Cote-Rotie of Beaujolais with sweet ripe opulence, hedonistically sexy mouth feel and with mineral/flinty spices true to it’s pink quartz and granite schist soils. Native yeast fermented with partial carbonic and no obvious wood this wine is just wondrous in style and detail with delicate floral tones, densely packed pure Gamay character with creamy red raspberry, tart cherry, wild strawberry, tangy plum and guava jelly as well as basil/minty herb, shale/stony elements, saline rich anise along with mixed spice and candied citrus, dried violet with lingering red peach and black currant. Wow, this is something wildly special and complex, but oddly comforting and easy to love, there is the dreamy textures and succulent fruit, though subtle savory tones, liquid mineral and juicy acidity keep things remarkably balanced and focused. While sultry and darkly beautiful now this expressive Fleurie will be admired as a classic for years if not decades to come, fantastic stuff from the master Jean-Louis Dutraive, do not miss this wine if you are lucky enough to see or find it!
($36 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive