Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 22, 2018

2016 Domaine Boeckel, Riesling, Alsace, France.
Frédéric Boeckel became a wine trader in 1853, after his family were generations of butchers in the Alsace region of France, and it was his son Emile that turned the Boeckels into winegrowers, it was then their history was cemented, they are world renown for their classic wines. The Boeckels, Emile and his much younger brother Andre, in 1950 they bought the parcels in the area known as “Wiebelsberg” in the commune of Andlau, and it is from theses vines that Boeckel produces their masterpiece Grand Cru Riesling Wiebelsberg, a wine of great finesse. Today Boeckel is led by the brothers, Jean-Daniel and Thomas Boeckel – the 5th generation of winemakers in the family, they have seen the modernization of the cellars and the conversation to all organic farming, crafting wines that are both rich in texture and full of vibrant energy. The Boeckel Riesling AOC Vin d’Alsace is fermented in temp controlled vats and aged in large ancient oak foudres allowing for a smooth feeling richly flavored terroir driven wine, coming off the pure and classic calcareous soils of the Mittelbergheim area. 2016 was a top year for Alsace and it’s a vintage to search out for it’s texture, density and dry focus, it can stand up to a wide variety of cuisine from savory meat dishes to semi spicy Indian fare including curries. 2016 was a very good and pure vintage in Alsace, and this Boeckel shows it’s ripe and expressive flavors, but in a delicate fashion with a clear and easy personality giving bright citrus, stone fruit and mineral notes with layers of apricot, lime and white peach along with soft acidity and a light almost weightless texture. It is a very refined and stylish dry Riesling with a vibrantly fresh core as well as faint spice, wet rocks and subtle tropical perfume. Boeckel’s base cuvee is crisply focused which makes for nice expression of the region and it’s very lovely throughout, if not overly exciting, it’s a wine that shines more with food than it does on it’s own, it’s more reserved form hides it’s friendly drinkability and classic profile. This Boeckel offers a solid performance and is a good value, in league with entry level offerings by Kuentz Bas, Trimbach, Hugel and Pfister, drink this smooth Riesling over the next 3 to 5 years, best with Bistro cuisine or with fruit, cured ham and cheeses at a lazy picnic.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 21, 2018

2016 Guimaro, Mencia, Vino Tinto, Ribeira Sacra D.O., Galicia, Spain.
Pedro Rodriguez’s Guimaro basic Mencia is an un-oaked Tinto in the “Joven” mode, grown on the steep slopes within the Amandi area, Ribeira Sacra’s most prime subzone with south facing vineyards planted on slate (along with granite and sand) just above the river Sil, it comes from multiple plots of Mencia vines, along with a small amount of other co-planted native varieties, with an average age of 40 years old. This ancient region is a re-discovered and glorious wine area, the Ribeira Sacra, which means “Sacred Banks” in Gallego, the local Galician dialect is home to the most difficult to farm vines in the world, it is more like the Mosel than Rioja, it’s cool climate zone that produces wines of fine mineral charm and bright rustic flavors. I love the Adega Guimaro’s wines, especially this lovely fresh Tinto, it’s one of the best red wines for the money I’ve ever had in a lighter style, it reminds me of Fleurie (Gamay) meets Crozes-Hermitage (Syrah) with a touch of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir added, it’s dry, juicy and full of personality. Pedro Rodriguez and his family come from a long line of colleteiros, vignerons and farmers, working in the Amandi area, Ribeira Sacra’s most prime subzone with south facing vines, planted on remarkable angles and with Roman influenced terraces, and his parents Manolo and Carmen still work the vineyards daily alongside him, he started the Guimaro (which means Rebel in local dialect) 1991, but it has really become a standard barer producer in the last 10 years with the help of Pedro’s mentor Raul Perez, the Godfather of Mencia, who makes his own legendary wines in Bierzo. It’s known that this area has a long history in winemaking, it just got lost to the outside world because of the remoteness and the hard conditions to work this place, originally the Romans came to this green, northwest corner of Iberia some 2,000 years ago, they were the first to terrace, grow vines and make wine in Ribeira Sacra, but now people are taking notice again and it’s one of Spain’s hotspots. In recent years, Guimaro and Laura Lozenzo’s Daterra Viticultores have taken the wine world by storm, with both red, with Mencia based wines and whites using the Godello grape making a big impact. This Tinto by Guimaro is made with mostly de-stemmed Mencia, it is fermented with native yeasts in stainless with lees aging for about 6 months allowing a real pure essence of terroir and grape to shine through, with this 2016 being a bit less extracted than the 2015 and incredibly vibrant and lively in the glass. With it’s bright ruby/garnet hue and acidity this Guimaro Tinto shows layers of tangy marionberry, plum, tart red cherries and racy and earthy currant fruits as well as flinty mineral spice, a hint of orange rind, tar, anise and subtle violet florals, all wrapped in a light-medium bodied wine that is so easy to quaff, it’s natural 13% alcohol allowing sublime balance. Like a fun Gamay, this Guimaro will be a handy Summer red, as it can be enjoyed with a slight chill for warm days and outdoor drinking, it’s a great choice for BBQ’s and picnics, it’s playful, but can also be a lovely companion with even more refined cuisine, drink over the next 3 to 5 years.
($19 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 20, 2018

2017 Rochioli, Rose of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.
It’s Summer and perfect timing to get your hands on Rochioli’s beautiful Rose of Pinot Noir, it’s a wine for the season, full of flavor as it’s style and vividly hued, it’s a rare offering to be sure, but one to get on to the winery about, like yesterday! The 2017 is Rochioli’s maybe best or fine tuned version in many years, it’s color is wonderfully sexy and bright in the glass, a touch paler than the last two years and while mouth filling and extravagant it is cooly crisp in the glass with a subtle mineral focus and balanced. Layered with pure Pinot fruits the 2017 Rochioli Rose of Pinot Noir excites the palate with a vibrant array of pleasing fruit and well judged acidity and texture showing tart cherry, strawberry, a touch of citrus juiciness along with red peach, tangy cranberry and watermelon as well as wild sage, rosewater and snappy herbs. A hint of wet stones and saline get your mouth watering, it’s glowing pink/magenta shimmers in the light all making this a seriously delightful and expressive Rose that is impossible to resist, a true guilty pleasure. With air this Rochioli pink does pick up a sense of density adding some weight as well, it still maintains it’s energy and force, but it’s not as let’s say Reeve’s ultra brisk and lean version, both are favorites of mine, and this Rochioli, while refreshing enough for the beach on a hot day, can and does stand up to a full meal. With a world of great Rose offerings, this one still stands out, Rochioli is one of California’s classic wineries and it’s always a thrill to taste their wines.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 19, 2018

2015 Weingut Bründlmayer, Riesling “Kamptaler Terrassen” Kamptal, Wachau, Austria.
Based in Langenlois, Weingut Bründlmayeris now led by Vincent, who’s vision is a continuation of the long held beliefs of his famous dad Willi is now making some of the most intriguing and as Terry Theise (importer) says “nobel” wines of the region. Willi converted a lot his vineyards to the Lyre training system, which he helped develop, it allow better development of the grapes in the cooler sites, with the vines trained low to the ground, to benefit from the warmth of the primary rock soils, with the canes trained at an angle going upward and perpendicular to the row, which doubles the sunlit and aired foliage surface and improves grape ripeness. Bründlmayer is focused on the drier styles with grapes grown on the primary rock with mica slate soils, with a mix of calcareous loam, gneiss, desert sandstone and with volcanic particles. Bründlmayer uses only organic fertilizers in their vineyards, and cover crops are planted between rows. During harvest, multiple selections through the vineyard are made, botrytis is never accepted in the winery, they go for purity and brisk detail, especially in their Rieslings. This wine comes from steep slopes in only terraced plots making for a special terroir focused example of intense dry Riesling that goes exceptionally well with sea food, soft cheeses and in particular oysters! The 2015 Terrassen Riesling is crystal clear, brightly fresh and with lovely definition, it thrills the palate with zesty citrus, leaning on lime purity with hints of white peach, verbena, mineral tones, almond oil, lemongrass and wet gravel and in a focused steely frame that is crisp, sleek and wonderfully lifted by a delicate white flower perfume, natural acidity and mouth filling extract. Bründlmayer is without question one of the best in Austria and Vincent’s influence has helped it reach the next level, not just with his Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, which are absolutely gorgeous, especially in the 2013 and 2015 vintages, but you’ll not want to miss their sparkling wines, which are as good as almost anything coming from grower producers in Champagne, as well as Bründlmayer’s stylish Pinot Noir and even their rare Cabernet Franc! Drink this dry Riesling over the next 3 to 5 years, it’s class act, crafted by a rising talent.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 18, 2018

2015 Claire Ouzoulias, Clos Chante l’Alouette, Saint-Emilion Red Bordeaux, France.
Claire Ouzoulias’ Clos Chante l’Alouette Saint-Emilion Bordeaux is an all organic blend of 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc grown mainly on sandy soils with a high iron content and it shows it the fresh mineral focus and sanguine nature of this lovely old world wine. Making rich and pure wines, Claire is the 6th generation of vignerons in the Ouzoulias family, and to own and farm three small estates in the right bank’s Saint-Emilion region starting back in 1889, and she is leaning towards natural winemaking, taking a different route to her contemporaries that are almost all making new oak driven modern wines, while she prefers hands on approach in the vineyard, hands off in the cellar, with native yeast ferments and less flashy oak treatments with more used wood. This estate wine is from a tiny parcel, about 3.5 hectares in size, again all of which is certified organic allowing for a more fresh style and more lifted with an elegance and subtlety that is hard to find in Saint-Emilion, with this 2015 vintage showing ripe fruit and Merlot driven character with dark berry fruit and a light earthy seduction, it’s a true classic old school beauty with firm, but with supple tannins, a medium full body and density that allows for early drinking pleasures. This Clos Chante l‘Alouette starts with loaminess on the nose with delicate florals, mulberry and cedar (elegant wood) before giving way to a packed palate of black cherry, plum and forest berries along with a touch of Cabernet Franc pepper and wild herb as well as anise and a faint creme de cassis note. This impressive classically styled “Right Bank” wine is just the right amount (a) touch rustic, but wonderfully lengthy and round in texture, it’s especially good with robust cuisine, it would be absolutely brilliant with game birds, duck in reduction sauce and or wild mushroom dishes. There’s plenty of stuffing and fruit here last 10 to 15 years if not much longer, I adore this fine Bordeaux in it’s youth and see no great reason to wait too to enjoy it, though it should gain more complexity over time and will reward some short term patience, best to give it 3 to 5 years more in bottle. Imported by Floraison Selections, Claire Ouzoulias also has a Grand Cru Saint-Emilion, it’s under the Château Franc Pourret label which looks to be a deeper expression as this estate sits on the highly acclaimed limestone and clay soils, and with this one being this good, I am really looking forward to trying it as well!
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 17, 2018

2015 Yves Cuilleron, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge “Laya” Northern Rhone, France.
One of the Northern Rhone most gifted winemakers, who has gained international fame for his Syrah and Viognier offerings from his Domaine based in the village of Verlieu in Chavanay, he farms a variety of small plots in top Crus including Condrieu and Cote-Rotie, as well as spectacular old vine parcels in Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph that make for wold class wines that shine with a true sense of terroir. The “Laya” Crozes-Hermitage Rouge comes from a single Lieu-dit vineyard south of the Tain L’Hermitage set on granite influenced soils, the grapes 100% Syrah are partially destemmed, with just the right amount of whole cluster and stems, then placed in open vats for a three week cuvaison with malolactic fermentation in small mostly neutral (used) French oak barrels where the wine is left to age for 16 months before bottling. Deeply colored, beautiful purple/black with bright edges the Laya Crozes is vivid and wonderfully earthy in style with layers of dark fruits, graphite/stones, leather, pretty underlying violets and minty herbs. Youthful and fresh it unfolds with a medium body and firm fruit density with boysenberry, damson plum, blueberry and currant all coming through with touches of black olive, leather, cedar, peppercorns and kirsch. Gains mouth feel and width with air, but never losing it’s sharp focus, Yves Cuilleron is, as mentioned in prior reviews, making some of the best wines of his career and his Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage, both his white and red versions, are some of the greatest Rhone values out there bar none! Drink this classic Crozes (Syrah) over the next 5 to 10 years, and don’t miss any and all chances to try these 2015 and 2016 Cuilleron wines.
($32 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 16, 2018

2015 Weingut Kunstler, Riesling Trocken, Rheingau, Germany.
One of Germany’s best wineries and elite winemaker, Gunter Künstler, comes from the famous village of Hochheim am Main, in the eastern most portion of the Rheingau. In 17th century Britain the term ‘Hock’ was used to describe all Rhinegau wines, because of the quality of the wine coming from this area. At that time, wines from Hochheim were much more famous than the Mosel wines and were more expensive than some of the finest Bordeaux, in fact Thomas Jefferson toured the region in 1788 and described Rheingau Riesling as some of the finest white wines in the world writing about what he found as “small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim”. He was so impressed with the Rieslings that he found here, he took 100 cuttings of Rheingau Riesling back to Monticello. Weingut Künstler in Hochheim Main/Rheingau is more recent to the region and is for Germany a really young winery, it was started back in 1965 by Franz Kunstler, who had been in the former German part of the Czech Republic for generations, and it was only back In 1992 his son Gunter took over the estate, and turned it into one of the finest producers in the country, and in 1994 the estate was admitted to the prodigious VDP. The estate has plots in many parts of the Rheingau from the slate of the famed Rudesheimer Berg to the loess, clay, sand, loam, marl and limestone soils of Hochheimer’s great Crus of Domdechaney, Kirchenstück and Hölle. Kunstler is moving toward all organic, it’s a tough process in this humid area of the Rheingau near the Main River, but he is committed, In the future he will move step by step to 100% organic, plus he ferments with cultured yeast, because it’s often still warm when grapes are being picked and to work sponti (native) would mean a greater risk of volatile acidity. Gunter does most (wines) in Stuckfass, large old German oak, though some is done in stainless as well, he does everything to promote intensity and purity of flavors, he has become a leading light in dry styles and his Rieslings are full of energy and finesse. This Riesling comes from multiple Rheingau sites and is an entry into Kunstler’s lineup of amazing Rieslings, it is a perfect sushi and or picnic wine with zesty acidity, lighter body and a crunchy mineral tone. White peaches, pure steely coolness and roses lead the way on Kunstler’s Trocken along with vibrant lime and tangerine, wet river rocks, lively herbs, kumquat and dry salinity. Not as concentrated as the Holle cru, but this base dry Riesling is beautifully balanced, fresh and an absolute study in place and varietal, this stuff is fantastic for the price, it’s going to be a pleasing white for many years to come, but best in the near term with it’s crisp detail and vivid mouth watering charm.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 15, 2018

2015 M. & C. Lapierre, Morgon Roche du Py “Cuvee Camille” Cru Beaujolais, France.
Even without their famous father around to guide them, Mathieu and Camille continue to make some of the finest Gamay wines in the world and are some of the natural wine world’s most influential. Marcel Lapierre, who sadly past away a few years ago in 2010, took over the family domaine from his father in 1973, even then he was on the road to becoming a legend, not just in Morgon, one of Beaujolais top Cru villages, but in the greater world of wine, he was guided by Jules Chauvet, who was a winemaker, a researcher, a chemist, and a “viticultural prophet” according to Kermit Lynch, the famed importer, and it was Chauvet that first spoke about natural wine and organic practices in the vineyard as well as shying away for modern techniques and chemical additives, of which Marcel perfected and his methods are a model on which top winemakers are using now, including neighbors like Jean Foillard as well as his son Mathieu, who’s wines are maybe now even better. The Lapierre cuvee Camille, grown on a tiny higher elevation plot, like all their wines is 100% whole cluster with native yeast fermentation and aged in used Burgundy barrel with this 2015 showing off the ripe vintage with forward fruit expressiveness and depth of flavors with lovely perfume and round density, it a wine of richness and substance, but not as quite as exotic or flashy as the famed 2009, though wonderfully close in style and what looks like a classic year. Beautiful sweet raspberry, plum and violets lead the way with sexy deep garnet/ruby hue in the glass adding candied cherry, walnut oil, racy spices and with a light anise note as well as a hint of stems and lingering tart currant. It’s a juicy Gamay no question, being easy to love, but it has subtle earth, thrilling intensity/enegy and a serious side too, with fine tannins and lifting acidity that should see this Morgon Cru Beaujolais, grown on almost pure granite, age well for a decade at least, this is glorious wine.
($44 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 14, 2018

nv Andre Clouet, Silver, Grand Cru Brut Nature Champagne, A Bouzy, France.
I bought this Clouet on sale and wow, what a steal, this is some sensationally great bubbly! Jean-François Clouet, who was born and raised in Bouzy, still lives in the 18th century village house built by his ancestors, he takes his lineage serious and respects his family’s traditions and that of the region, and is renown grower producer in A Bouzy. Clouet makes a full range of intense and stylish Champagnes, all of which comes family plots mostly comprised of 100% Pinot Noir from Clouet’s lieux-dits in the Bouzy zone. The André Clouet “Silver” Grand Cru Brut Nature is a non vintage zero dosage Champagne of exceptional class and delicacy, it’s a severe and high toned bubbly, 100% Pinot from mid slopes around the village of Bouzy set on the chalky limestone and clay, it went through full malos and was aged on it’s lees in neutral French oak barrel, adding to the surprising of it’s crisp detail, considering it’s malo/wood winemaking fashion, though like a great Burgundy it changes and gains with time in the glass adding richness to the tight form it initially shows. If ever there was a Champagne that fits all my wants and desires, then this Clouet, imported by Sacred Thirst, fits the bill as I adore Extra Bruts and Non Dosage styles absolutely best of all and this Andre Clouet silver kills it for the price, especially what I paid! Lemony briskness leads the way with hints of hazelnut, brioche and wet river stones adding a touch of white cherry, unripe apple and cool green melon, all lifted by the pure tight beading of it’s electric mousse. The Pinot Noir gives a bite of extract which makes this a fantastic food Champagne, it is perfect for oysters, sushi and mussels in spicy broth, it’s not for everyone, but damn it’s good, it’s without question a thinkers sparkler not a crowd pleaser, which just makes it that much more special.
($29 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 13, 2018

2014 Clos Saint Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Rhone Valley, France.
Vincent Maurel’s beautiful and lush 2014 Chateauneuf du Pape old vines is cuvee blend of mostly Grenache, but with does of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Vaccarèse and Muscardin as well, made grapes grown on the classic terroir, set on clay and limestone, with galets (the round stones that litter the vines, from plots in and around the famous Le Crau cru. The Grenache for this Chateauneuf is aged in only concrete vats for 12 months, while the remainder is aged in used demi-muids of French oak, from vines that are between 50 and 100 years old, hence the impressive mouth feel and concentration of this fantastic Clos Saint Jean. I absolute love this bottling for it’s purity and hedonism, it can only be Chateauneuf du Pape and it continues to be one of the best values for elite and stylish Chateauneuf, it’s a sexy and ultra reliable choice for the cellar! This dark and loaded Chateauneuf Rouge Vieilles Vignes unfolds in deep layers with a full bodied palate of boysenberry, plum and spicy cherry fruits along with violette/creme de cassis, minty licorice, lavender, liquid stones, fig paste and pepper notes, it’s an opulent wine, but has lovely detailing, a firmness of structure and the vintage’s lift allowing for a lighter impression that makes it a joy with food and like 1999 Chateauneufs, especially Vieux Telegraphe, also from La Crau, it should be a surprising ager as well, I wish I had more damn of it, best from now until 2028.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive