Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 24, 2017

2015 Ingrid Groiss, Gruner Veltliner, Reserve, In Der Schablau, DAC Weinviertel, Austria.
Ingrid’s rich textured Gruner Reserve In Der Schablau 2015 is a gorgeous white wine that reveals another side of Austria’s signature varietal, grown on loess, sand and gravel soils in the town of Zeirsdorf within DAC Weinviertel north of Vienna, not far from Groiss’ hometown of Breitenwaida not far from the Czech Republic border. Brilliant in detail and energy this wonderful expression of Gruner Veltliner has a decedent mouth feel and an almost white Burgundy like class and grace, it’s shows a denser and riper side of Gruner that is sensual and seductively entertaining from start to finish, it’s more a Smaragd (a dry white that is at least 12.5%) with 13% alcohol it’s a deeper wine than you’d might expect. Groiss has gained a huge following in recent years and her wines impress for their natural balance and her passion for her terrior and it’s history which clearly shine through in these wines and if you’ve not discovered her wines yet, you should asap! With a hint of white flowers, saline, mineral and almond oil the 2015 Reserve In Der Schablau starts with crisp acidity, lemon/lime and quince before opening up and filling out on the wide palate, it was aged a full 10 months on the gross lees which adds to the dimension of this glorious Gruner, it gains with every second of time in the glass with it’s pale golden hue grabbing the light while light steely notes and spice provide a nice cut. There’s wild pear, hints of fig, clove as well in this white, which saw only stainless fermentation and aging after a gentile pressing of de-stemmed grapes using vineyard (native) yeasts and 8 hours of maceration on the skins that adds a touch of tannin and savory contrast to the opulent warm vintage fruit and the medium weight body. This is proving to be a great wine, coming from 50+ year old vines, and was a brilliant companion to my Thanksgiving feast, and for which I am very grateful, drink this lovely Gruner over the next 3 to 5 years.
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 23, 2017

2016 Jean-Louis Dutraive-Grand Cour, Fleurie, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The non domaine (estate) Fleurie is from a high elevation plot of old vines set on granite, crafted using semi-carbonic ferments and whole cluster and with very low SO2, aged in neutral cask and tank, just like all his glorious estate bottlings. Dutraive’s 2016 Fleurie is at first very shy and almost austere, very different from his Domaine de la Grand Cour versions which are highly perfumed and expressive, but given time it starts to unfold with graceful and earthy layers of pure Gamay fruit, spice and mineral tones. This unfiltered Cru Beaujolais has a slightly cloudy ruby hue in the glass, best if decanted at this stage to get the aromatics awake, as the subtle floral notes are still hidden behind a more savory and feral tone that leads to a refined medium weight energy filled palate that includes wild raspberry, liquid strawberry, morello cherry and plum of restrained fruit essences as well as minty herbs, pecan shell, delicate leather and flinty stones. The mouth feel gains textural pleasure with air, but at first you get bright and juicy acidity that settles down nicely in this youthful wine, I personally think I caught this bottle in an awkward stage and that it should blossom in a couple of years in bottle when the fruit should become more present and the bouquet which is dull now (and this could also be from the shipping as I didn’t give it much time after receiving it) looks to be more seductive, that is my hope anyway, best to hold this one at least another year. I’m a huge fan of Dutraive, and while this is a fine example it doesn’t match the estate Fleurie(s) which I find as compelling as many Grand Cru Burgundies!
($34 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 22, 2017

2017 Caraccioli Cellars, Nouveau of Pinot Noir, Escolle Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands.
A great Thanksgiving wine, the new Pinot Nouveau from Scott Caraccioli, is bursting with fruity flavors and light spices, it’s a fun 100% estate grown single vineyard Nouveau that highlights the vintage’s potential and is a wonderful quaffer. A visit to Caraccioli’s Carmel tasting lounge proved very rewarding, getting a chance to sample this Pinot Nouveau and the latest set of bubbly, both of which are drinking luxurious and stylish, in particular the 2012 Brut Rose ($60 Est.) is a leesy beauty that Caraccioli should be very proud of, being the leader in méthode champenoise Monterey Sparkling Wine sits well with this winery! The 2017 Nouveau of Pinot Noir was carbonic fermented, with the tank layered with stacks of half whole cluster and half de-stemed whole berries, this takes the edge off on the palate allowing a more textured mouth feel and still giving that juicy pop you’d expect of a Nouveau, Caraccioli used all estate Escolle Vineyard 100% 777 Clone fruit, picked at 22 Brix, all of which adds up to quality in the glass and heightens the experience. The electric ruby hue leads the way before a hint of fresh picked roses, a subtle cotton candy and bubble gum note as well as a burst of maraschino cherry as well as pretty strawberry and raspberry fruits along with light cinnamon, rhubarb, apple skin and a cranberry tangy finish. With a faint sweet and sour flourish this is nicely balance version, a bit pricy yes, but forgiven somewhat for the very limited nature and uniqueness, get it while you can and drink it up quickly.
($30 Est.) 88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 21, 2017

2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Spanish Springs Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County.
Randall Grahm doesn’t get enough credit for his Pinot Noir(s) with all the wild and unique stuff he does with his Bonny Doon label, but wow, this 2013 Spanish Springs Vineyard San Luis Obispo Pinot is a gorgeous wine of seductive perfume and elegance, I honestly am blown away with this lovely stuff, this might be one of the best kept secrets in California! The floral attack here is amazing with layers of rose petal and violet notes are captivating and lead to a palate of silken fruits with black cherry, raspberry sand plum forming a decedent core around which light spice, mineral, sweet heirloom tomato, menthol and subtle wood (smoke) elements swirl in total harmony and the length is gracefully lingering. Opulent throughout, this 14.3% alcohol wine impresses for it’s sexy satiny form, but still vibrant and focused with clarity and detail that is very Chambolle-Musigny like in class and impression, though with California fruitiness, this wine is another great reason to visit Bonny Doon and or join their wine club, as this is usually only available that route, I myself grabbed it at the Davenport tasting room on a recent trek to Randall’s “Area 51” and thought it was too interesting to pass up. The 2013 Bonny Doon Pinot Noir Spanish Springs Vineyard picks up classic Pinot fruit and more structure with air and continues it’s stellar performance, this is dreamy stuff that looks to have at least another 5 to 7 years of stylistic pleasure in store, seriously well crafted juice.
($39 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2017

2009 Chateau Falfas, Côtes de Bourg, Red Bordeaux, France.
An organic and bargain priced Bordeaux with a classic blend of about 60% Merlot, 25-30% Cabernet Sauvignon as well as some Cabernet Franc and Malbec, the Chateau Falfas Cotes de Bourg shows a classic finesse and has traditional old world styling. Pure and gaining rich detail with air this 2009 Falfas is a thriller, especially for the price, showing a deep red/garnet hue in the glass with a dense core of blackberry, mulberry, cherry and dusty plum fruits with hints of graphite, dried spices, tobacco leaf, earthy/loam, cedar with a touch of creme de cassis. Nice warm ripe tannins, full mouth feel and length, this is a Bordeaux that is over delivering at this stage, and this vintage highlights this Chateau(s) quality and it’s drinking wonderfully well right now. I can’t wait to sample the current releases, I would imagine 2010, 2012 and 2014 would be extremely pleasing as well. If you are looking for a solid Bordeaux on a budget then Falfas should do the trick, and if you find this 2009, buy it!
($20-26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2017

2014 Laura Lorenzo Daterra Viticultores, Azos da Vila, Vino Tinto, VdT Val do Bibei, Ribeira Sacra, Spain.
Grown on the steep hillsides of Val do Bibei in the Ribeira Sacra, a Galician wine region near the river Sil, the Laura Lorenzo Daterra Viticultores Azos da Villa is an amazing red wine that is a true old vine field blend that has the earthy spiciness of the Northern Rhone and the length and class of Burgundy! Lorenzo, who has worked with Eben Sadie in South Africa and Achaval Ferrer in Argentina as well as with Domino do Bibei, is one of the world’s newest great winegrowers and a talents, she and her wines are soulful and reflect passion of place, if you’ve not had her wines, you need to and soon! Reviving old vines and varietals, Laura’s heart is in the Granite, Gneiss, Clay, Slate and Schiste soils of her native Manzaneda and this Azos da Vila is her blood, she farms all organically, all by hand using plots of 80-120 year old vines, which she de-stemmed in 2014 and co-fermented with native yeasts and in open top French oak, then aged in a mix of barrique and 500L casks, all well seasoned (used Barrels) from a unique field blend of Mouraton, Mencia, Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), Marenzao, Gran Negro and a few other unknown varietals. Lorenzo’s hard work and attention to detail in the vines paid off in 2014, her first vintage, in a year that was incredibly difficult with a humid and cold season that required patience and intense efforts to get the best out of the vineyards, which she did! The Azos da Vila 2014 is fresh and natural, it starts with flinty mineral, porcini (earthy) elements and tangy dark berries along with an inner floral expression before leading to a medium full palate that shows tart blueberry, cranberry, black plum, pretty currant jam and kirsch as well as dusty stones, basil, dried lavender, anise and liquid violets. The mouth feel is textural and vital with supple/ripe tannins and vivid acidity, the alcohol is refined and balanced at 13% and with Lorenzo’s extremely low SO2 use this red has the best character of what we admire in natural wines, in the same league as the wines from Arianna Occhipinti, Elisabetta Foradori and Mathieu Lapierre. This is an exceptional wine, it will be hard to find, but worth the search, imported by Jose Pastor Selections, I had to get my two bottles from Texas! Look for her 2015’s which are a little easier to locate and her just released 2016, which I hear are even better. If you wanted to compare Laura Lorenzo to a California producer, I’d say it would be good to look at either Bedrock Wine Co. (Morgan Twain-Peterson MW’s Heritage old vine field blend bottlings) or Arnot-Roberts’ Trousseau, her Daterra wines are not to be missed and highlight Galicia’s potential on the world’s stage.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2017

2016 Domaine Serol, Rose of Gamay, Cabochard, Cote Roannaise, Loire Valley, France.
Stephane Serol of Domaine Robert Serol is the fifth generation at this winery in the Cote Roannaise, a unique area of the upper most part of the Loire Valley in the Monts de Madeleine hills, which is sometimes called the lost Cru of Beaujolais, since it is closer to Morgon than Sancerre and is a great spot for Gamay. Grown on a vein of granite, these old vines are planted to a special clone of Gamay known as Gamay St. Romain that has it’s own personality and character, it’s slightly less fruity and it picks up wonderful mineral tone in the wines, Stephane is converting to all organic and ferments each parcel separately using whole cluster and cement vats that allows these cool fermentations to bring out vibrancy and pure intensity. Serol’s Cabochard is a beautiful dry Rose is at first austere and with shy leesy subtlety before coming alive on the palate with vivid strawberry, cherry and red peach fruits, citrusy crisp detail, steely notes, chalky wet stones and a light spicy/herby tang. It’s perfect pink/orange hue making for an attractive wine in the glass that lingers with faint whiffs of lavender oil, distilled plum and rose water, this is a wine that gathers intrigue with air and even gains depth/texture when it warms in the glass making it great at the table with sturdy cuisine, it’s impressively focused and one of my favorite Rose offerings, especially this 2016 vintage which is performing awesomely right now. Domaine Serol imported by Floraison Selections (Oakland, CA) also make a sparkling version too that is great for the holidays, but be sure to explore this winery’s red Gamay(s) and this pretty dry pink.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2017

2017 Poe Wines, Pinot Nouveau, Sans Soufre, California.
The Nouveau Pinot from Samantha Sheehan is made from Monterey County fruit, using a plot of vines planted to old Martini (Heritage) clone Pinot Noir, this hand harvested lot became a carbonic macerated beauty, whole cluster in sealed tank for seven weeks, it’s a new wine to celebrate harvest, with some proceeds going to fire relief efforts, because of the devastating blazes that engulfed parts of Napa and Sonoma. Sheehan was inspired to make world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay after touring and tasting in Champagne and Burgundy, she created her own label Poe Wines in 2009, and in short order she has made some absolutely amazing wines, while still under the radar, this winery’s Pinot Noirs especially are thrilling examples of glorious purity and class, my favorites include her Manchester Ridge and Sonoma Mountain’s Van der Kamp Vineyard, both right up there with some of the state’s best cool climate style wines like Littorai, Radio-Coteau, Drew and Hirsch! The 2017 Pinot Nouveau starts with carbonic juicy notes with bubble gum, cotton candy and sweet strawberry fruits along with candied cherry which then quickly contrasted by sappy thyme, Italian green herbs, spice, straw/hay, saline, wet earth and dried nori. Fresh and fruity with a hint of tartness and savory elements that allows this fun wine to be a competent companion to holiday cuisine, drink up!
($22 Est.) 86-88 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2017

2016 Julien Sunier, Morgon, Cru Beaujolais, France.
Julien Sunier, born in Dijon and an ex-surfer, is now one of Beaujolais most prized winemakers focusing on old vines and biodynamic/organically farmed grapes mostly at higher elevation sites in Cru vineyards with his main wines being an over performing Regnie, a gorgeous Fleurie that isn’t far off Dutraive’s masterpiece, and this fantastically layered and brilliant Morgon. Sunier has parcels on sandy granite soils in “Py”, “Corcellette” and “Charmes” which are all old vine Gamay, he uses native ferments, whole cluster and basket press with long slow maceration and fermentations to achieve delicacy and textural hedonism. The beautiful and lively 2016 Julien Sunier Cru Morgon starts with a heady perfume and lengthy floral tones with violets, sappy herbs, cinnamon stick, mineral notes and a vibrant palate of blackberry, plum and mini garden strawberries as well as hints of walnut/pecan, anise, blood orange marmalade, dusty stones and kirschwasser. This medium bodied Gamay is thrilling, complex and wonderfully balanced highlighting it’s terroir and casting this varietal in it’s best light, Julien’s wines are as good and as elegant as anything you’d find in the region, he joins Foillard, Dutraive, Lapierre and others that make Cru Beaujolais that easily compete with the best of Burgundy. If you’ve not had Sunier’s wines now is the time to start, imported by Floraison Selections, these pretty garnet/ruby hued 2016’s are less fruity than the 2015’s, but absolutely stellar giving a heightened and sexy experience, they also should be fantastic cellar selections, drink now through 2024.
($32 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive