Monthly Archives: January 2018

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 31, 2018

2016 Weingut von Winning, Riesling Trocken, Deidesheimer Kalkofen, Grosses Gewächs, Pfalz Germany.
Weingut von Winning’s inspirational winegrower Stephan Attmann has adopted the single cane trellising, much like done in Burgundy, and Grosses Gewächs wines ferment in 500ML French barrels with native yeasts and no pumping as the winery is all gravity flow, with Von Winning practicing organic and sustainable viticulture to highlight each Grand Cru (GG) with this Kalkofen set on a combo of limestone, marl and loam, making it one of the more exotic and flamboyant of the top wines here. This was especially true in the 2011, 2012 and 2015 vintages, while this gorgeous 2016 is a bit more refined and vibrant, a near perfect expression of place and vintage. Von winning’s wine transcend varietal, this glorious dry white has elements of a fine Meursault or Batard-Montrachet in it’s soul, even though it’s all Riesling at is core with power, from it’s extract and acidity, depth and complexity add to the intriguing stylistic charms in this GG. My tasting notes are from two separate barrel samples tried about 5 months apart, the final finished bottling certainly will be more complex, deeper in flavor and fuller in texture, but without question this was a special and beautiful dry Riesling even in it’s youth and in this primary form, it shows fantastic detailing already and has potential of greatness. Von Winning’s Kalkofen GG starts with a slightly muted perfume of white flowers, citrusy fruit, chalky stones and leesy brioche with a touch of reduction like a white Burgundy before it’s medium/full palate gets rolling with brisk stone/orchard fruits, delicate spices, steely mineral tones and salty essences. A bit of sulfur blurs the picture, this is due to this being a cask sample I’m sure, luckily it blows off quickly allowing everything to come into bright and clear focus in seconds, there is lovely texture and length to admire here, again it feels surprisingly majestic, and as mentioned, in a Meursault sort of way, gaining depth with air adding green apple, lime, white peach, wet rock, rose water, tangy citronella, a hint of sweet oak and hazelnut. There’s a ton of underlying extract and brilliant acidity, which plays in a ying and yang way giving great focus and tension, this is a powerful wine that will only get better over time, this will be a wine to look for, it’s a fabulous expression of the Pfalz and Grosses Gewachs, with a touch of the exotic, but done in a wonderfully elegant way, it’s a Riesling to blow the minds of the Burgundy only crowd, impressive and with star quality impact, best from 2020-2030.
($59 Est.) 94-96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 30, 2018

2014 Rochioli, Valdiguie, Russian River Valley.
One of my secret favorite wines, the wonderfully fruit forward Valdiguie by Rochioli is playful and expressive wine, the varietal once though to be Gamay is from southwest France and not related, though sometimes called Napa Gamay still is a light to medium bodied red that offers juicy red fruit flavors that in a vintage as 2014 can be almost candied and Zinfandel like. Racy sweet raspberries and dark flowers rush at you on the nose and palate with a hint of carbonic tropical fruit leading the way with black cherry, sweet and spicy red berry, a touch of cola and banana bread along with vanilla, wild herb and guava nectar. This vintage is ripe and bright with surprising length and flamboyant character, it is showy and has a personality that again reminds me a bit more of Zinfandel, but with a Pinot Noir size frame and acidity, add to that a dollop of smoky French oak and you capture the essence of this vintage. Prior releases seem a bit more subtle, but certainly this Rochioli Valdiguie doesn’t lack for anything, it might actually be a wine to hold on to for another few years, surprising in it’s substance and for it’s expressive style. Valdiguie had an early champion in J. Lohr, but has gained modern embrace by Cruse Wine Company and Broc Cellars, both of which are great examples, though a bit more natural and subtle than Rochioli. This Valdiquie is only available through the Rochioli tasting room on Westside Road, near Healdsburg, and sometimes on their website, best to check often to see what they are offering, especially if you are waiting to get on their full mailing list.
($28 Est.) 89-90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 29, 2018

2016 Sheldon Wines “Springloaded Monkeypaw” Tempranillo, Luc’s Vineyard, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
The wild and entertaining Sheldon Springloaded Monkeypaw is a carbonic Tempranillo that is done only in stainless steel tank and does not go through Malo (malolactic fermentation), only 24 cases, about one barrel’s worth, was produced from whole cluster grapes coming off Luc’s Vineyard in the newly formed Fountaingrove AVA. As weird as this wine is and it’s origins, it’s nearly impossible to resist, as are all of Dylan and wife Tobe Sheldon’s wines, these are wonderfully pleasing and drinkable wines with a natural/textured feel and expressive/fresh in style while showing a lighter side of small production hand crafted California wines, in the same mold as Broc Cellars, Arnot-Roberts and Cruse Wine Company. Dylan was into pursuing balance and delicacy before it was a marketing thing, and he continues to push the envelope in his wines and they are a study in finesse and authentic purity. The juicy/tasty Springloaded Monkeypaw 2016 is a fresh purple/garnet hued and fun red with a vein of of dark fruit, wild herbs and spices, a touch of earth and hints of mineral that shines with simple fruity layers of blackberry, tart cherry and racy currants that burst with vibrant force on the light bodied palate, this wine is full of energy, but smooth with a surprisingly easy to love character, much the same way you enjoy Beaujolais, Joven (young-no wood) Rioja and similar in style to Stolpman’s Carbonic Sangiovese. Sheldon’s geeky cool little Tempranillo is a light hearted red that is a perfect picnic wine, it’s refreshing and low in natural alcohol, great for a long afternoon with friends, drink now.
($36 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 28, 2018

2012 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Trocken, Dorsheimer Pittermannchen, Grosses Gewächs, Nahe Germany.
Just starting to allow a glimpse of maturity, the intense and remarkable Schlossgut Diel Pittermannchen GG ultra dry Riesling is an amazing wine in the same league as the best from Chablis, seriously this is a Riesling from Caroline Diel that rivals any of the Grand Cru bottlings from Dauvissat or Raveneau! Pure Riesling in varietal character and flavor, but this wine is anything but ordinary with muted stone/orchard fruit and a mouthful of liquid flint/shale with a zesty and steely core of acidity, extract and mineral force. The Cru Pittermännchen is Caroline’s slate soiled vineyard, her other Grosse Lage sites are led by quartzite (Burgberg) and gravel (the most famous Goldloch) and that shows in this wines flinty nature and it’s cerebral/profound intricate detailing, in particular this 2012 vintage which is loaded to the gills with energy and verve, but still shows off Caroline’s gifted touch and refinement, while still youthful it has everything coming good right now and it’s a gorgeous wine that deserves your full attention. Layered with a light golden hue this Pittermannchen GG starts with smoky stones, sea breezes (brine), white flowers and spices leading off before the palate fully unfolds into a powerful expression of great dry Riesling with a mix of taught and chalky citrus, stone fruits (white peach & apricot), fig, kumquat and quince, adding baking spices, white chamomile tea, rose oil, dried ginger, wet rock, lingering lime and nectarine. Air allows the texture to be appreciated and this wine turns of it’s inner grace and class, this wine has no flab or makes any apologies for it’s terroir driven character and slightly aloof personality, it’s a wine that doesn’t need any glitz to be understood for it’s regal almost austere presence. This wine is German precision to the max and should be that way, it’s a stunning example of Diel’s house style, nearly perfect in every way, those that have it will understand and be awestruck, absolutely 100% brilliant! In the cellar, Caroline uses native or Sponti ferments and she uses a combination of stuckfass, and larger German oak casks as well as cement tanks, everything is done to prevent any oxidation in the grapes and the sorting is extreme, only the best will do here. Diel has crafted some fabulous entry level wines in the 2016 vintage that you should be buying by the case, especially her Feinherb and Kabinett offering, but if you want a masterpiece look for her Grosses Gewachs with a few years of age like this one!
($69 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 27, 2018

2016 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Spatlese, Rüdesheimer Berg Magdalenenkreuz, Rheingau Germany.
The Maggie Spatlese from Josi Leitz is a classic wine, traditional and terroir rich in it’s flavor and history, this Magdalenenkreuz Cru parcel of Rudesheimer Berg is where the steep slopes end and the rolling hills where a mix of mostly sandy loam along with slate, loess and clay begin, named for it’s location near “The cross of Mary Magdalene,” named after a red sandstone cross that can be found within the vines. This site gives a bit more body and opulance, it has a lovely early/loamy character as well which adds contrast to a fruity/semi sweet style as it does in this delicately pale/clear 2016 Spatlese, this is one of those great wines that people just need to enjoy as it is without prejudice of sweetness (sugar levels) as it has fine form, balance and never feels heavy. The 2016 is brightly focused and laser crisp and detailed with a nice generous fruitiness, perfect for spicy tuna rolls and or pan Asian cuisine with mixed citrus, green apple, loam, wet river stones, tart apricot, white cherry, crystallized ginger, a hint of Thai basil and a saline element. This is a vintage of vibrancy and lightness to start, but good extract lurks beneath and it should age with fantastic effect, being here during this harvest, I saw how glorious these grapes looked before picking, a brilliant golden hue and amazing energy with ripe flavors, but with lifting acidity in their veins. The weather was dismal and cold most of the year without much in the way of a break, it was looking almost disastrous until late August and September came to the rescue with warm sunshine giving the winemakers a chance at a remarkable year, with Leitz being one that took full advantage of nature’s amazing comeback and respite, with Johannes Leitz making some fantastic stuff, in particularly in the Kabinett and Spatlese range, like this one! This is a standard barer wine and a solid reference point to what you should expect of a modern Spatlese, it is extremely clear and transparent, it transmits everything in it’s purest form, Leitz is a little like Greg Brewer, winemaker at Brewer-Clifton and his own label Diatom, they both strive for the cleanest expression of grape and place, they have a zen like attitude and approach to their wines, it’s honest, it’s about the core essence and clarity of mission, it’s a type of wine that makes for a near perfect reference point. This is such a tasty wine, it’s certainly under valued for it’s lasting palate impact and impression and the quality in the glass, and while the GG’s at Leitz, imported by Schatzi Wines, that grab the headlines these days, it’s best not to forget or over look this beautiful traditional Spatlese Riesling, this is a wine to follow for the next decade at least.
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 26, 2018

2016 Weingut Knebel, Riesling QbA, Alte Reben, Mosel Germany.
The young Matthias Knebel is one of the new generation to focus on preserving traditional and historic sites bringing an organic sensibility to his wines along with a drier focus, he is using old vines and terraced vineyards to produce intense bottlings that are true terroir driven beauties, especially brilliant is Matthias’ Alte Reben (old vines) that comes from two Cru sites, certainly this is one of the best QbA’s I’ve ever had! It’s a dry drinking style Riesling that is heavily influenced by the slate soils and the ultra steep terraces of Winningen, where the Knebel family has been growing Riesling and winemaking since 1643, Matthias blended two sites, Hamm and Röttgen, which have a make up of red slate, grey slate, blue slate, quartzite and sandstone of the Mosel Terrassen. The young Knebel, one of the rising stars of Germany, uses 70% stainless steel and 30% neutral (well used) 500L oak casks to produce this beautiful Riesling, it is slightly too high in residual sugar at 12.7G/L to be labeled a Trocken, but only by a short hair! Deeply flavored and with an almost red wine like extract and mouth feel, the Alte Reben by Weingut Knebel shows a bright peach, lime and tangerine citrus, apricot, a hint of bacon fat and a creamy green crisp apple on the fine and graceful palate, making for a very serious Riesling and a wonderfully youthful expression of place, this is a lot of wine for the money, delivering liquid stone, lemon grass, lychee and rosewater to the whole picture, it has surprising length and elegance for such a new wine, I can’t wait to see what age will bring, because this stuff is damn enjoyable right now! Matthias has crafted a gorgeous and unique wine and his talent and terroir shine through with every sip, it’s fresh and lively, gaining with every breath of air new details, bringing a steely focus, a touch of wet rock and a lingering saline element that hides the tiny bit of sweetness, though the texture is almost luxurious. I’ve been following Knebel, imported by Schatzi Wines, for about 5 vintages, I loved his 2012’s, but this 2016 is next level good, and again this is just the QbA, wow, I can’t imagine how great the top level bottlings are going to be, sight unseen I bet they are fantastic. You can tell this is a generous Riesling, but at 11.5% you can be rest assured it is briskly dry and balanced, if you are a Riesling fan or an acid freak, you’ll want this wine, best from 2020-2028, but it will be hard not to cherish it much sooner.
($44-46 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 25, 2018

2016 Sheldon Wines, Graciano, Luc’s Vineyard, Fountaingrove AVA, Sonoma County.
Seriously old school and remarkably vivid in palate impact the wonderful delicate Sheldon Graciano, maybe California’s most secret and rare wine, is a 12 case production red that is translucent ruby nectar in the glass, it’s a joyously light wine that has incredibly fine detail, energy and inner beauty. For years Dylan and Tobe Sheldon have been exploring Graciano, an ancient and obscure varietal, found in Rioja mostly, but it is also known as Tintilla and grown as far away as the Canary Islands and in the flaky white soils of the Sherry region in Jerez, and some experts believe it is related to the Jura’s Trousseau, regardless the Sheldon’s have made it their secret signature offering and it has a cult like following, it impresses not for it’s density, but for it’s intricacy. Only a half barrel’s worth was crafted from a tiny home vineyard, Luc’s in the new Fountaingrove AVA near Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, an area that was extremely affected by the recent fires, thankfully Luc’s was spared, the Sheldon’s also source Tempranillo from here too, making a Brut Rose sparkler and a no malo red from it, as well as a bit of Syrah that I have reviewed. The 2016 Graciano Luc’s vineyard is bright and with a hint of straw and earth to go along with delightfully crisp red fruits, spice and mineral notes, the Sheldon’s, husband Dylan and wife Tobe, ferment native and do a gentile basket press with only seasoned French oak barrels employed, with this wine that natural touch comes through with ripe fresh flavors, but with only 11.7% alcohol, again highlighting the delicate detailing here, it flows cooly across the palate with tangy red cherry, briar laced raspberry, strawberry and lifted cranberry/currant notes as well as cut hay, black licorice, minty herb, cinnamon and dried flowers. This vintage has the personality and acidity the winemaker finds irresistible and you can see why, this is awesomely fun and out of place in the new world, some Dylan especially revels in, making it one of the most interesting 7%er(s) in California joining Pax Male’s Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, Arnot-Roberts’ Trousseau Noir and even Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Basque-ette Case with also has Graciano in it!
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 24, 2018

2016 Daterra Viticultores (Laura Lorenzo) “Casas de Enriba” Vino Tinto, Valdeorras, Spain.
Coming from 20-25 year old vines in the Portomourisco region of Valdeorras, not far from the steep valleys of the Ribeiro Sacra, the new Laura Lorenzo Casas de Enriba is a blend of all hand farmed organic 80% Mencia, the native red varietal and 20% Godello, a local white grape grown on a mix of granite, gravel, clay, gneiss and quartz soils at about 550 meters up in this cool climate Galician site, it’s a glorious natural and balanced feeling wine (13.5%) with soulful character and rustic charms. Lorenzo is a remarkable winegrower and her wines are simply delicious and wonderfully expressive in terroir and impressive for layering and finesse that freely expresses in her latest offerings, especially this native ferment red, she destemmed all the grapes and added 20% Godello to add freshness to the warm vintage and it makes for an inspired medium weighted Mencia based wine that can easily remind you of the Syrah and Viognier relationship found in Cote-Rotie, and while personality wise this Casas de Enriba is more like a Cru Beaujolais (light and expressive) at first it picks up a more serious Rhone edged profile with air, making an end result a bottling that is between Dutraive’s Fleurie and Andre Perrets Saint-Joseph! The nose is sweetly perfumed with rose oil and violets, wild peppercorns, chanterelles, red fruits, mixed spice, mineral candied orange rind, a saline element and sweet and sour minty herbs that leads to a medium bodied palate of black cherry, plum and lingonberry fruits as well as loamy/flinty rock, bacon fat, star anise and pipe tobacco. This is fascinating stuff the has a wonderful silky mouth feel, but with earthy/leathery grip and energy that kinda makes you think of Nuits-Saint-Georges, it’s a wine that will certainly challenge and seduce those that want to take a path less traveled, it’s so far my favorite of Lorenzo’s 2016’s, which is saying something, because I love all of her wines!
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 23, 2018

2016 Domaine Serol, Gamay “Eclat de Granite” Cote Roannaise, Loire Valley, France.
Stephane Serol’s Gamay wines are some of the best and most interesting made from this varietal, and this 2016 Eclat de Granite is absolutely stunning, and while the Cote Roannaise is technically in the Loire Valley region it is sometimes called the lost Cru of Beaujolais with it’s intense granite and hillside terroir it’s more like Morgon that Touraine! This wine is done with natural and organic preparations, 100% Gamay (Saint Romain clone) from vines that average between 40 and 90 years old, set on acidic granite soils with high density plantings and a exceptionally low yielding crop, Serol ferments with native yeast about 60% whole cluster in vat with only cement aging for 6 months then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2016 is full of life and vitality, but with full flavors which lean towards dark fruits and with velvet laced tannins that are at once silky, but structured with a deep liquid stone element that is a thrill, this is serious stuff and a gorgeous wine that should continue to age well for another 5 to 7 years easy. This lightly spicy/stony Gamay pumps out the red and black fruits along with a iron/blood mineral earthy background with layers of blackberry, cherry, plum and lingonberry as well as dried peach/apricot, anise, flinty rock and a saline element.This is crisply dry and gets you salivating, best with simple cuisine to bring out the fullness of it’s personality, one of the most entertaining and unique Gamay wines out there, Serol, imported by Floraison Selections, is a must try wines, especially if you admire Cru Beaujolais, such as Lapierre and Foillard!
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day January 22, 2018

2016 Bow & Arrow Wines, Rhinestones, Johan Vineyard, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The brilliant and edgy Rhinestones a Loire Valley inspired Pinot Noir and Gamay blend from Bow & Arrow Wines is one of the best Oregon wines that is under the radar, in fact it is one of the best new world wines for the money period! Scott Frank’s killing it with his latest releases at Portland’s Bow & Arrow Wines, especially this Touraine style Rhinestones cuvee that comes from the all organic/biodynamic vines and the marine sedimentary soils at Johan Vineyards, in the Van Duzer Corridor of the Willamette Valley, this wine has so much going on and still beautifully detailed. In Burgundy you have the earthy/feral Gamay and Pinot Noir blend, called Passetoutgrain, but while interesting it never seems to be taken too seriously, here though Frank reaches for the Loire for inspiration and the natural winemaking hot bed there to craft his Rhinestones, a wine that I’ve always loved, and this 2016 looks to be the best yet. It’s outrageously seductive and pretty with a stemmy/racy vitality and gorgeous purity, heightened by an exotic perfume and extraordinary length. Whole cluster and native ferment, the Rhinestones is an intriguing play between ripe fruitiness and savvy savoriness with a tangy, but juicy/generous Gamay palate and graceful Pinot Noir structure, it is nicely brisk and great slightly chilled, even though it fills out in the mouth with a medium body and a heavenly texture featuring black cherry, plum, mulberry and currant fruits along with sweet liquid roses, hints of lilac and walnut as well as dried basil, peppery spices, mineral, chalk, anise and cinnamon. The stems add grip and tension to this absolutely fantastic wine, judged on it’s own merits this stuff rocks and is truly profound, Bow & Arrow’s Gamay stand alone is pretty damn good, but this wine is on another level, it made me say the F-word followed by YEAH! The 2016 Rhinestones is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Gamay, it’s a runaway success of sensual sensations and vibrancy, Bow & Arrow has just blown away all the doors, removes all prejudice about blending Pinot Noir and shows Gamay to be a great partner of remarkable character, do not miss this wine. This is one of America’s new wine geek(y) treasures, unique and with it’s own personality that will appeal in particular to those with a wilder mind, this latest Rhinestones is sensational.
($24 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive