Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 30, 2018

2016 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cotes de Provence Rosé, Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes, Cru Classe, Provence, France.
The intriguingly pale Clos Cibonne, Cotes de Provence Rosé, Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes is made from the winery’s oldest vines, which are 100 plus years, these blocks are mostly consisting of Provence’s ancient red varietal Tibouren, that makes up 90% of this Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes with about 10% Grenache also in the blend. Clos Cibonne is a historic estate that was granted the right to labeled Cru Classe for it’s long heritage in making traditional wines in the region, Clos Cibonne, which draws its name from Jean-Baptiste de Cibon, a captain of Louis XVI’s French Royal navy and first owner of the vineyard buying Château Cibonne. After his death in 1797, the property was sold to the Roux family’s ancestors with André Roux (who passed away in 1989) committing to Tibouren in the 1930’s. The vineyard and winery is located on the Mediterranean Sea, in Provence, which is between Marseille and Nice, not from from Aix in Provence and Cassis. The Roux’s latest generation, the fifth, now Brigitte, and her husband Claude, who took over the vineyard in 2003 continue on in producing some of Provence’s most interesting wines, especially their Tibouren Rosé which has extended lees aging in cask, usually released after an extra year. This 2016 is less concentrated than 2013 or 2015, allowing Tibouren to really show off it’s full charm and pretty character, though still with the exotic mouth feel that it is known for, I am more than happy with it’s vibrancy and delicacy with it’s tart cherry, distilled plum, strawberry and light watermelon fruits as well as it’s dried orange/citrus rind, a touch of kumquat, clove, earthy crisp detail and leesy depth, it’s an absolutely perfect vintage for Clos Cibonne and the old vines do the trick, making for an exceptional Cotes de Provence Rosé that will drink great on it’s own or will be especially compelling with Mediterranean cuisine, it gains power and complexity in each occasion matching it’s environment with grace and poise adding a seductive element to each setting and or food option, this is brilliant stuff, do not miss a chance to enjoy this… Ever.
($26 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 29, 2018

2014 Passopisciaro, Passorosso, Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy.
Passopisciaro is one of Sicily’s stars, making volcanic reds that are often compared to the finest Premier Crus of Burgundy, but none of that seemed possible back in 2000, when Passopisciaro founder, Andrea Franchetti first visited Sicily. He searched out an estate and finall, after being successful in Tuscany with his Tenuta di Trinoro, picked out abandoned vineyards on the northern side of Mount Etna with the unique characteristics of high-elevation terraces of highly varied black, lava soils that give these amazing wines their terroir character. In recent years Franchetti’s Passopisciaro, all biodynamic, has been one of world’s most talked about estates, making a wine of real impact from Etna’s Nerello Mascalese grape, crafting a fuller bodied version with a touch more extract and a darker hue than some of his neighbors, while still being true to traditional norms and using grapes from Cru sites known locally as Contradas. Passopisciaro does five single-vineyard bottlings from each contrada that Franchetti get fruit rom, these include Rampante, Sciaranuova, Guardiola, Porcaria, and Chiappemacine, as well as doing this multi site Etna Rosso cuvee Passorosso, which is now a DOC. This 2014 Passopisciaro Passorosso is 100% Nerello Mascalese from vines that were planted between 1913-1943, it was fermented using specially picked yeast in cold stainless steel vats before finishing malos and aging n French casks, mostly neutral big barrels, for 18 months, finishing at a serious 15% natural alcohol, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2014 Passorosso is richly textured, with classic smoky notes and spicy red fruits before opening up and gaining layer after layer including macerated cherries, strawberry, plum and raspberry fruits along with licorice, lavender oil, red pepper and flinty mineral tones. This medium/full pure Nerello Mascalese has a beautiful and textural glycerin and wonderful length, it’s palate is luxurious and satiny, while still having serious impact and vitality, this is a winery to discover if you haven’t yet! And now, one of my other favs on Etna, Eduardo Torres Acosta, a Canary Islands native, who worked with Arianna Occhipnti, is now winemaking at Passopisciaro, again, a winery that is one of the pioneers of a new group of super star Etna producers on Sicily.
($39 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 28, 2018

2009 Arcadian, Pinot Noir “Francesca” Central Coast, California.
The impressive and attractive Arcadian Francesca Pinot Noir is Joe Davis’ best limited cuvee, it’s his ultra reserve and this current release is a three barrel cellar selection of three of his favorite sites, the 2009 is a blend mainly from Sierra Madre Vineyard, first planted in 1971, it is at the western edge of the Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County) and is one of the state’s coldest vineyard sites, set of sandy soils, plus I believe Davis used some Sleepy Hollow and Fiddlestix Vineyard(s) here too, it’s a multi-regional wine that celebrates the best of each terroir and the year itself. Davis is one of the most influential winemakers in Monterey, he is one of the legends, having helped put the Santa Lucia Highlands on the map during his years at Dan Lee’s Morgan Winery and he was one of the first to focus on low alcohol and balanced wines, it was also during his years at Morgan, 1986-1994, that he discovered the famous Pisoni Vineyard, using Gary’s grapes in his reserve bottlings. He was also the general manager at Bernardus Winery, as well as starting his own label and focusing on Burgundy styled Pinots and Chards, where he pursued his passions, which led him to move down to Lompoc and join the boom in the Sta. Rita Hills in the late nineties and early two thousands. The Acadian wines, first released in 1996, were a huge hit and received wide praise and I was lucky enough to have been around during these early years, and have been a fan of Joe Davis for a long time, though I have missed out in recent vintages, making it great to hear from Joe and be able to get his latest two wines to sample. Davis has been a fan of the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard even before Talbott bought it and made their main focus and he was able to get selected blocks of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah throughout that period, prior to Gallo buying Talbott and taking control of Sleepy Hollow. The Francesca 2009 is wonderfully mature and textured, Davis loves to hold back his releases, sometimes for a decade, and this allows them to show their full personality and elegance, the mouth feel is absolutely gorgeous and the length amazing, this luxurious stuff. Davis goes for traditional methods with his Pinot, employing early picking, whole cluster and keeping the grapes cool and using a long cold soak prior to fermentation which occurs in small open-topped wooden vats, with the grapes being pigeaged (foot treaded) 3 to 5 times daily to further extract color, tannin and richness. The color is remarkably fresh with a deep garnet hue, making you think it is a much younger wine, while the bouquet is full of perfume, spice and beautifully infused with red berries and kirsch notes that leads to a silky medium bodied palate with layers of sweet cherry, poached plum, strawberry coulis and reduced raspberry fruits as well as subtle oak (vanilla), mineral tones, hints of saline, chalky elements along with faint earl grey tea, sandalwood, anise and rose petals. Being able to buy an almost decade old cellar aged Pinot Noir is pretty awesome, especially a wine from pedigreed vineyards, it has ages of life in it, great vibrancy and structure gives this Arcadian Francesca a brilliant lift and even in an opulent year like 2009, making for a serious, vivid and elegant Pinot Noir. Arcadian is, still to some, an under the radar winery, it was a thrill to taste this wine and their 2008 Sleepy Hollow Syrah, which is also a beauty, so I highly recommend check them out!
($75 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 27, 2018

2015 Claire Ouzoulias, Chateau Franc-Pourret, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux, France.
The top wine from Claire Ouzoulias is her Chateau Franc-Pourret Grand Cru Saint-Emilion, and her 2015 vintage is still very young and un-evolved showing lush fruit and sweet tannins with a kiss of creamy/smoky oak, best to let this impressive wine have many years to unwind as patience will be rewarding here. Going her own route and using all (certified) organic grapes and leaning toward a more natural style, Claire Ouzoulias has caused a stir in this very homogeneous region, she, like Chateau Le Puy, is giving Bordeaux some wonderful made natural options, though there is a very luxurious feel and highly polished clear focus on her wines. Just married to Domaine de l’Ecu winemaker Fred Niger, Muscadet’s leading light in natural wines, Claire’s Chateau Franc-Pourret is a showcase of purity and highlight’s it’s hardened clay and limestone soils, it’s a full bodied and serious wine, though still a baby as of yet, it does get going after half an hour, enjoying lots of air, revealing a dark sense and a depth of flavors. The rich mouth feel and showy oak presence hide the complexity somewhat, but there is layers of blackberry, plum and dark currant fruits that unfold along with a touch of spice, cedar, vanilla as well as kirsch, chalk and sweet tobacco/cigar box. The Chateau Franc-Ouzoulias is made up of, hand picked and vineyard sorted grapes, 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc, they have been certified organic since 1989, it’s fermented using native/natural yeasts and raised in barrel for about 18 months. This opulent and ultra smooth Bordeaux is one to watch and follow, it should be given a mid-term rest for the best results, try from 2022 to 2035.
($41 Est.) 93-95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 26, 2018

2016 Frank Cornelissen, Contadino, Etna Rosso DOC, Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy.
The entry-level red wine of the organic and natural winemaker Frank Cornelissen, is the Contadino it is basically a field-blend of mainly Nerello Mascalese (about 85%) though the rest is made up of other local varietals from his old vine parcels, which includes Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella and Uva Francesa. Belgian-born Frank Cornelissen was a wine merchant in his previous life before he located to the island and started making his own wines on the volcanic soil slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Corneilssen uses grapes from Picciolo, Malpasso, Campo Re, Crasà, Piano Daini, Feudo di Mezzo all in the cooler northern facing zone of Mount Etna, and of which all now qualify for Etna Rosso DOC and all these vineyard’s vine are on average 50 years old or more, this cuvee is all de-stemmed and aged only in epoxy lined tanks with no wood and no fining to showcase the purity of the region. The 2016 Contadino is bright, spicy and lightly smoky with pure volcanic flair showing it’s Nerello Mascalese core profile with racy and refined, Pinot Noir like red fruits, flinty notes and a mix of herbs, anise and subtle florals. Layers of cherry, strawberry, wild plum, cranberry, tart blood orange and almost peachy fruits, everything flowing across it’s light frame on the fresh medium bodied palate, there’s good lifting acidity and silky tannins making for a refreshing red that is at it’s best with a slight chill on it and with Summer cuisine. The only real knock here would be it’s price, to be honest, I know Etna Nerello Mascalese is Sicily’s Burgundy, but this is a bit too costly for what you get, even though I really enjoyed every sip and will without question drink a few more of Cornelissen’s wines after trying this one, drink this Contadino over the next year or so.
($39 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Special Tasting Report Argentina v. Chile

Grapelive Special Tasting Report: Six Wines of Interest from Chile and Argentina

Featured Wines

2015 Bodega Del Rio Elorza “Verum” Chardonnay, Alto Valle de Rio Nergo, Patagonia, Argentina.
The Verum label (Bodega Del Rio Elorza) is a boutique, family winery with 45 acres of high-density vineyards in the Alto Valle del Rio Negro, Patagonia. With international winemakers, consultant Hans Vinding-Diers and the local Agustín Lombroni, plus Alberto Antonini, Mariano Vignoni crafting this offerings, Verum is trying to capture a sense of Patagonia’s unique terroir, while making world friendly wines that crowd pleasing values. In addition to Malbec, Verum is also bottling Merlot, Pinot Noir and this Alto Valle de Rio Nergo Chardonnay, which is no malo wine that is 80% stainless aged white that is on it’s lees for about 6 months with 10% in used French and 10% in used American oak barrels. The Verum Chard, 100% from Bodega Del Rio Elorza’s Estate vineyard, the Fernández Oro, in the Alto Valle del Rio Negro, Patagonia, is grown all sustainable, mostly organic and from high density vines at about 300 meters up. The 2015 Verum Chardonnay, imported by Vino del Sol, is soft and flavorful with a touch of caramel to go along with citrus and stone fruits, it’s a medium bodied easy to enjoy white for those that normally like middle of road California style Chards, it has a subtle touch of sweetness and creamy finish that will certainly appeal the bistro crowd that just want an pleasant quality aperitif style wine for social sipping. There is a honeysuckle, bosc pear and lemony note that leads here before opening up on the palate with golden apple, peach and tropical notes coming to the fore, not overly complex or nervy (not a Chablis), this is one that is perfect for those that just ask for the house Chardonnay or need a reasonable wine for a party.
($15 Est.) 87 Points, grapelive

2017 Lagar de Bezana, Rosado, Alto Cachapoal, Chile.
Lagar de Bezana’s rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, is picked to be a true Rosado and it’s richly round and full of flavor, it was barrel fermented and aged which gives the impression of texture and it has a fruity full palate and while not thrilling or electrically crisp, it is dry enough to be be refreshing and different, perfect with hearty foods it is a nice value and makes for a easy bistro pink. Rene Piantini and the director of winemaking is Benjamín Leiva has done a nice job here with this Chilean Rosado, imported by Vino del Sol, it is worth searching this out if you wanted a fuller bodied dry Rose that goes great with a bigger meal and robust cuisine. The palate shows an impression of crisp detail, but the mouth feel is lush and lengthy with a finishing creamy quality, even though the fruit is not cloying, the Cabernet allows for the fullness without sweetness, it shows bright cherry, raspberry and red peach fruits along with wet stones, mixed spices and a melon like fleshiness with a hint of wood, drink it up sooner v. later.
($10 Est.) 86 Points, grapelive

2013 Lagar de Bezana, Aluvion, Gran Reserva Ensamblaje, Alto Cachapoal, Chile.
Lagar de Bezana a modern winery, located in Alto Cachapoal, a stunning Chilean micro-terroir within the Rapel Valley located in the foothills of the Chilean Andes, making some fruit forward international styled wines of great value and quality. The owner is Rene Piantini and the director of winemaking is Benjamín Leiva, who uses the gravity flow and the 130 acres of estate vines to great effect, it is cooler here and the wines retain a good core of vitality, with it’s almost Mediterranean climate, as well as soils that are alluvial, in combination with elevation, the altitude is 2,000 plus feet, the wines show intensity of flavor and color, especially this Aluvion. The 2013 Gran Reserva Ensamblaje is a hybrid Chilean and Bordeaux style blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 Syrah, 10 Petit Verdot and 5% Carmenere grown on the estates gravelly slopes, it saw a 7 day cold soak before fermentation and it spent 12 months in 100% French oak barrels with a good portion being new, making for a rich and full bodied wine. This vintage was crafted by the team of full time hands Meinard Bloem & Cristóbal Undurraga who went for a wine of palate impact, but one that still shows the nuances of their terroir in the Alto Cachapoal. This very dark red is full bodied and lavish in style and structure with a firm tannic grip holding things together, it makes for a great Napa alternative, as for a wine like this quality wise you’d be look at 50 to 70 bucks. Deep blackberry leads to way both on the nose and palate with liquid violets, creme de cassis, plum and cherry flavors coming through as well as delicate mocha, anise, spice and cedar notes adding to the whole experience. This is drinking exceptionally well now, though I’d be sure to have some serious proteins with it, imported by Vino del Sol, this is a bold effort to look for.
($28 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

2014 Lamadrid “Begani” Reserva, Lujan de Cayo, Mendoza, Argentina.
This Begani Reserva, by Lamadrid is a true Argentine red blend featuring 60% Malbec, 30% Bonarda (Charbono), 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc made using native yeasts and combination of traditional and modern techniques that tries to capture the unique high elevation terroir of the Lujan de Cayo, part of the famed Mendoza region in the Argentine Andes. Begani is the newest project from the Lamadrid kids, Beatriz, Gabriela, and NIcole, which are slightly higher end versions of Lamadrid line, the winery that is owned by Guillermo García Lamadrid, with winemaker and President Héctor Durigutti running it day by day. Lamadrid owns three vineyards in Agrelo, a sub zone of Lujan de Cayo, they include Finca La Matilde (planted 1929), Finca Lamadrid (planted 1973), and Finca La Suiza (planted 2004) with every wine coming from one of these Agrelo single vineyard sites. Again only indigenous yeasts are used, with no fining or filtration. This Reserva was fermented after an 8 day cold maceration is epoxy lined cement vats before being aged 12 months in 60% second-use French oak barrels and 40% third-use French oak barrels ending with a well balanced 14% natural alcohol and very expressive black fruits. This 2014 Begani, is bright, but darkly focused with blueberry pie filling, black cherry, plum and cassis all flowing across the medium/full palate in a nice cascade of fruit along with hints of cedar, minty herb, cinnamon and sweet floral tones, this is a very stylish effort and a solid value that’s ready to drink.
($18 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

2016 Pedro Parra y Familia, Pencopolitano, Central Valley D.O. Chile.
It’s almost impossible not to love Pedro Parra’s wines and admire the man behind them, known as Doctor Dirt, Parra consults for some of Europe’s most famous wineries to get them to understand the true nature of their soils, he has a PhD in terroir, as well as making very natural style wines not far from his hometown of Concepción, using old vines in the Itata region of Chile’s Central Valley DO. The Pencopolitano, which I think might be Parra’s signature bottling, is a field blend including some old vine Pais (Mission Grape) also known as Listan Prieto, it’s made up of Malbec, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, and the mentioned Pais, Carmenere grown on the 200 million-year-old batholith red granite and quartzite soils, these dry farmed bush vines are cooled by coastal winds and clouds that make for a long growing season that helps add complexity and full ripeness, while allowing good acidity and mineral intensity to shine through. He also does a single varietal Cinsault, that he calls Imaginador, as well as this one, I love them both, though in this 2016 vintage I might have to favor this Pencopolitano, which means citizen of Concepcion, Parra’s city, the Capital of the Itata Valley and of the terroir he is most passionate about, with it’s full body and lovely balance, it has a bit more depth and complexity to it revealing a darker core of fruit while still being so transparent and delicately textual on the palate. With 14.5% natural alcohol, you’d have expected a thicker mouth feel, but the mineral intensity and finesse here gives a much lighter impression. Aging is in cement and stainless steel for a year, the grapes coming from 6 different vineyards, all of them old vines and organic, between 60 to 110 year old, from Cauquenes and Itata, it was all native yeast, traditional fermented, and with gentile extraction, with no carbonic employed. It’s crazy trying to relate this wine to anything else, the best I can do would be to say it has similarities to the following, like if you were to certain elements of: Raul Perez Bierzo Mencia, Maxime Magnon Corbieres, Roberto Santana’s Listan Negro (Envinate) and Adi Badenhorst’s red blend from South Africa! But, that said, Parra’s wines are singular and unique, this one shows a core of round red and black fruits that includes racy plum, strawberry, briar/spiced raspberry and tangy red currant along with wild sage, herbs de Provence, light floral tones, earth, peppery notes and salty stones. There’s a play in between raw nakedness and structured grace that seduces completely, it’s an intriguing wine to explore, it sits between a Pinot and a Rhone blend and goes great with rustic cuisine, it’s fun, but a thinkers wine too, drink now.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

2016 A Los Vinateros Bravos-Leonardo Erazo, Granitico Pais,, Itata Valley, Chile.
Pais is an ancient grape variety, also in this case known as Listan Prieto, brought to Chile when the conquistadors settled there in the late 16th century and tended by the Missionaries for hundreds of years, this varietal is called still the Mission grape along with it’s brother vine Listan Negro and the white is Palomino, famous in the Sherry region still, while the red is now only found here in Chile as well as the Canary Islands, though some is also in parts of Mexico and the USA. Leo’s versions, are grown on distinct soils types, with this one of pure granite or granitico with sandy top soil in the Itata Valley, not far from Concepción and from vines that were originally planted back in 1551! Erazo’s wines are light and transparent with pure mineral focus and a minimalistic approach from mostly organic/dry farmed old vine grapes, with this 2016 showing the grapes purest form with an earthy/leathery core of fruit with a crisp shale/flintiness and delicate layers of tart cherry, strawberry and sour plum along with a hint of savory spice, menthol, wild herb, sticky lavender and dusty/dried red pepper. Light bodied and lifted with a juicy nature this Granitico Pais has a funky natural wine feel, but reveals pretty flavors and floral notes with air and it grows on you sip after sip. Drink this as you would a Cru Beaujolais, slightly chilled and with rustic cuisine, and though more savory nuanced it has that same easy joyous personality, it reminds me a bit of Envinate’s base Tenerife (Canary Islands) offering, which is high praise for me as I adore those wines! Imported by The Source Imports, Leonardo Erazo’s A Los Vinateros Bravos is a wonderful discovery for those like me that love the fringe or geeky wines of the world, drink over the next year or so.
($20 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

 

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 25, 2018

2016 Pedro Parra y Familia, Pencopolitano, Central Valley D.O. Chile.
It’s almost impossible not to love Pedro Parra’s wines and admire the man behind them, known as Doctor Dirt, Parra consults for some of Europe’s most famous wineries to get them to understand the true nature of their soils, he has a PhD in terroir, as well as making very natural style wines not far from his hometown of Concepción, using old vines in the Itata region of Chile’s Central Valley DO. The Pencopolitano, which I think might be Parra’s signature bottling, is a field blend including some old vine Pais (Mission Grape) also known as Listan Prieto, it’s made up of Malbec, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, and the mentioned Pais, Carmenere, grown on the 200 million-year-old batholith red granite and quartzite soils, these dry farmed bush vines are cooled by coastal winds and clouds that make for a long growing season that helps add complexity and full ripeness, while allowing good acidity and mineral intensity to shine through. He also does a single varietal Cinsault, that he calls Imaginador, as well as this one, I love them both, though in this 2016 vintage I might have to favor this Pencopolitano, which means “citizen of Concepcion”, Parra’s city, the Capital of the Itata Valley and of the terroir he is most passionate about, with it’s full body and lovely balance, it has a bit more depth and complexity to it revealing a darker core of fruit while still being so transparent and delicately textual on the palate. With 14.5% natural alcohol, you’d have expected a thicker mouth feel, but the mineral intensity and finesse here gives a much lighter impression. Aging is in cement and stainless steel for a year, the grapes coming from 6 different vineyards, all of them old vines and organic, between 60 to 110 year old, from Cauquenes and Itata, it was all native yeast, traditional fermented, and with gentile extraction, with no carbonic employed. It’s crazy trying to relate this wine to anything else, the best I can do would be to say it has similarities to the following, like if you were to certain elements of: Raul Perez Bierzo Mencia, Maxime Magnon Corbieres, Roberto Santana’s Listan Negro (Envinate) and Adi Badenhorst’s red blend from South Africa! But, that said, Parra’s wines are singular and unique, this one shows a core of round red and black fruits that includes racy plum, strawberry, briar/spiced raspberry and tangy red currant along with wild sage, herbs de Provence, light floral tones, earth, peppery notes and salty stones. There’s a play in between raw nakedness and structured grace that seduces completely, it’s an intriguing wine to explore, it sits between a Pinot and a Rhone blend and goes great with rustic cuisine, it’s fun, but a thinkers wine too, drink now.
($27 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 24, 2018

2017 Cameron Winery, Pinot Bianco “Giovanni” Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Oregon is without question the newest hot spot for Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco), yes you heard correctly, not Pinot Gris, which can be a nice wine here obviously, it’s Pinot Blanc, which in recent vintages has proven to rival top offerings from Alto Adige and the great wines of Alsace, that stands out and this Carmeron 2017 Dundee Hills Giovanni (Pinot Blanc) is a piercing example of this varietal. Absolutely vibrant and electric on the palate with zingy lemon/lime, white peach, loads of Asian pear and green melon notes it adds wet stone, a fine mineral streak and light garden herb and spices. Made by John Paul, the Oregon legend who has some affection for Italian wines, crafts this light white that is wonderfully expressive, unlike the grape’s reputation of serene dullness this stuff is magic and vivid from start to finish, with air it adds a touch of texture, but stays refined, vibrant and virtually weightless, even though it clear has extract, in fact it feeling like a dry Resling in it’s energy, which to me is proof of awesomeness. According to Paul, the briskly dry Pinot Bianco (given the nomer “Giovanni”) is fermented in stainless steel, typically in three different lots with appropriate aromatic yeasts, and bottled in its exuberant youth in the early Spring, it’s also very low alcohol, coming in at just 11.7%.. It’s perfect for Summer with it’s refreshing juicy acidity adding a cool and crisp sensation, drink up.
($18 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day June 23, 2018

2017 Chateau Valcombe, Rosé “Epicure” Cotes du Ventoux, Rhone Valley, France.
Not far from the famous Mount Ventoux, which is one of the toughest climbs in the Tour de France, it can be seen from across the Rhone’s Luberon standing tall and shimmering white from the chalky soils that make up this regions Marl underpinnings along with hardened clay, sand and ancient river stones this part of the Southern Rhone is mostly known for their Grenache based reds, but one of their secret pleasures is their dry Rosé wines, with Chateau Valcombe being founded and crafted by long-time vigneron in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Paul Jeune, formerly of Domaine Monpertuis, who has recently retired with new owners Luc and Cendrine Guénard, who worked under him for years now at the helm. They certified to 100% Organic and continue the tradition of making outstanding wines. The Valcombe Rosé is vinified via direct press, whole cluster from a blend of Grenache Noir (60%), Cinsault (20%), Carignan (10%) and a touch of Clairette (10%). Interestingly, the vines for the Rosé are of an average age of 40 years, so there is a ton of soul and character found in this is a completely bone dry Rosé. With a bright and vivid pink/salmon hue in the glass this 2017 Valcombe Rosé is explosive in flavor and fresh deal with a cooly crisp personality showing tangy strawberry, watermelon, earthy sour cherry and vigorous citrus notes along with steely mineral, delicate floral tones and zippy spices. Not easy to find, this Chateau Valcombe Epicure Rosé is an exceptional value and a very pleasing Summer wine, imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant, it is well worth searching out, by the case, and don’t miss their other Ventoux grown offerings either, especially their reds.
($14 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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