Grapelive: Happy #ChampagneDay Special

nv Vilmart & Cie. Grand Cellier, Premier Cru Brut Champagne, a Rilly la Montagne, France -photo grapelive

nv Vilmart & Cie. Grand Cellier, Premier Cru Brut Champagne, a Rilly la Montagne, France.
Laurent Champs’ grower producer Vilmart Champagne’s are some of the greatest wines in the world and they seem to get better and more elegant with each vintage and collection he reveals and I especially love the latest disgorgement of his Premier Cru Brut Grand Cellier that comes from his organic estate vines in Rilly la Montagne 1er Cru “Hautes Grèves” with its precision and vinous sex appeal. This Champers at this price is outrageously good and incredibly well crafted in the house style, which is luxurious, but structured with delicacy and wonderful detail throughout on the medium bodied palate with layers of white flowers, mineral, crushed stones, lemon, peach and hazelnut all flowing seamlessly and caressingly in the mouth, finishing with lovely leesy/yeasty brioche, while staying invigorating and taught, this is fabulous bubbly in the same class as Krug, but maybe less obvious in form. The majority of Vilmart’s 11 hectares of vines, as noted by his famous importer Terry Theise, who was one of first to recognize the quality in site expression Champagnes, lie in Rilly-la-Montagne, although there are a few plots just over the border in the neighboring village of Villers-Allerand. Vilmart, Theise adds, is a member of Ampelos, an organization that promotes organic and sustainable viticulture in the region, and Champs has never used any herbicides or chemical fertilizers since taking over the helm heree.

The latest Vilmart Grand Cellier 1er Cru is a cepage blend of about 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir with the Assemblage being from 2012-2013-2014 vintages with a minimum of 10 months in used French oak cask, which adds that voluptuous feel, while still having that zest acidity and core grip of tension that makes this beauty stand out. The Grand Cellier can almost stand up to decanting as it is ever changing in the glass with creamy mousse that seduces and it certainly can and should be paired with cuisine, such is the grace and complexity found here, like all the Vilmart offerings it is something exotic and special to enjoy. Champagne Vilmart, which dates back to 1890 when it was founded by Desire Vilmart and it has always been focused on grower fizz, being a récoltant-manipulant, making champagne exclusively from estate-owned vines since the very beginning. Since 1989 the estate has been in the hands of Laurent Champs, one of France’s great winegrowers and cellar master, he is the fifth generation of his family to lead this exceptional and prized estate. Champs, who declares he is a vintner first and a Champagne maker second says he does wine first, then afterward we do Champagne, and these age amazingly well changing with dramatic effect in bottle after 3 to 5 years, even the non-vintage bubbly like this one, and especially the Rubis Cuvee Brut Rosé, which is like drink sparkling Grand Cru Burgundy! Happy #ChampagneDay
($60 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 18, 2019

2013 Jim Barry Wines, Shiraz “The Armagh” Clare Valley, South Australia -photo grapelive

2013 Jim Barry Wines, Shiraz “The Armagh” Clare Valley, South Australia.
The beautiful Jim Barry The Armagh Shiraz is really showing well at the moment with impressive restraint and layering, while still having a seriously dense (rich) and powerful presence in the glass with an inky purple/black and crimson hue and a dark berry coulis and spice laced full bodied palate, it is a wine to be taken seriously and enjoyed for another decade or more. Coming off old vine parcels in the Mounty Lofty Ranges zone of South Australia’s Clare Valley, with the Armagh vineyard, named for the original Irish settlers that came here back in 1849, was planted by Jim Barry in back in 1968 and yields less than two tonnes per acre. The soil here in this more mild and cool site is on sandy-gravel soils with a north-west facing slope that acts as a sun basket making sure these special vines get perfectly ripe. This vintage was warm and the tannins are strikingly silky allowing for early drinking on a wine known for its stellar age worthy structure, though this vintage still has plenty of guts under the hood showing blackberry, crushed flowers, blueberry compote, toast notes and creme de cassis along with hints of loam, cedar, peppery spice and a touch of loam, mineral and mole. Swirling and air bring further dimension with anise, embers, elderflower/violet and plum fruit, in a Syrah that should thrill the enthusiast, it’s a wine that stands proudly with the world’s best versions of this grape, be it other Aussie champs or wines like Guigal’s cru Cote-Rotie, La La bottlings. Australia is going through a big change and re-birth in many ways, with an export market looking to China and young winemakers going for a lighter style and elegance, which is to be admired, and while Aussie wines sometimes are, if not often overlooked in the states, classics like this wine are a reminder of this country’s greatness in this ever tightening niche of collector wines.

Peter Barry is the second generation winemaker here at Jim Barry Wines, named after his late father, and has been the managing director and winemaker since 1985, with his son Tom Barry, who is a young winemaker to watch getting a lot of attention at home, he is the third generation here following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, after graduating with an oenology degree in 2010 and stints at Yalumba, Australia’s oldest winery and Shaw + Smith, a boutique label that make great Aussie Riesling as well as the famed Dr. Loosen (Mosel) and even part of harvest at Donnhoff (Nahe) in Germany. This makes sense as Jim Barry has some exceptional Riesling vines and make a tasty version too, with Tom showing a real touch with this grape as well as with the famous Shiraz, and he has been helping his father keep the Jim Barry winery at the top echelon of Australian wine. The Armagh was traditional fermented with great care done in the sorting with de-stemmed berries and then aged a full 20 months in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels, which gives this Shiraz its Aussie character, but at 14% natural alcohol it is a wonderfully purring beast with a refined sense of balance and it should continue to develop for years and years, while not cheap, it is almost half the price of comparable wines like Penfolds Grange, Hill of Grace by Henschke and the mentioned Guigal La La’s. The current set of wines at Jim Barry are all worthy of checking out, especially the lower end stuff, including as noted the Riesling, the rare Assyrtiko (geek grape), along with the Cabernet Sauvignon(s), though of course the Shiraz collection stands out and this Armagh, an Aussie first growth, is a treat indeed.
($250 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 17, 2019

2016 Luigi Ferrando, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “La Torrazza” Northern Piedmonte, Italy -photo grapelive

2016 Luigi Ferrando, Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “La Torrazza” Northern Piedmonte, Italy.
One of the coolest and best value Italian whites from the Alto Piedmonte, the Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza is full of energy, depth and dry extract, gaining texture and richness (body) with air and time in the glass, making for a remarkable wine from a little know varietal that was close to extinction less than a generation ago. In recent years, Ferrando and Favaro have really shown the quality in this grape and have brought this DOCG into the spotlight and onto the world’s stage, making dry and elegant wines that has a serious nature and mouth feel that rivals some much more expensive regional white wines including some famous places like Burgundy and the Loire Valley. The Erbaluce, an ancient grape that little is know about, but once was thought of as the noble varietal in this northwest part of Italy, finds its home high up in the Canavese district, the lake country in the Alpine foothills north of Torino, it’s a place that has gained attention for Nebbiolo wines lately with wines that are now thought of in the same breath as the fabled Alba and Asti zones, with Ferrando crafting a fine expression of Nebbiolo as well. The La Torrazza is 100% stainless steel fermented and aged to preserve purity and freshness, which shows clearly in this 2016 vintage with its brisk lemony tones and underlying natural acidity delivering layers of peach (like Chenin in some ways), mixed citrus and lime blossoms, minty mountain herbs, acacia honey and steely crispness.

Here in the Canavese, according to Ferrando’s importer, Rosenthal, that northwesterly most area of Piedmont that sits on the western flank of the Alto Piemonte before the transition to the Vallé d’Aosta, Erbaluce produces the sole white wines of this region granted DOCG status, Erbaluce di Caluso, Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante, Erbaluce di Caluso Passito. Adding also that, Historical records show that Erbaluce’s virtues were touted as early as 1606. The name reflects the grassy, hay-like qualities of its flavors and aromas (Erbe … meaning grass or herbs) and its ability to capture and thrive on the light (Luce) from the sun that sweeps across these terraced hillsides in abundance throughout the growing season. The soils here were formed by glaciers (moraine) and are mineral rich, which transmits itself in the wines. Ferrando crafts this wine without malolactic fermentation, and its bottled after eight months on the fine lees, that adds the textural finesse without the use of oak. After time in the glass this light golden Erbaluce adds savory tones, quince tanginess, crushed stones and spicy jasmine. This wine is fabulous with food and especially sea food and soft cheeses and as well as being a fine choice with oysters. There’s a ton of interest in the Piedmonte whites and this Erbaluce is really worth discovering and Ferrando is a great starting point, and this vintage should drink well for another 3 to 5 years easy.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 16, 2019

2017 Domaine Camille et Mathieu Lapierre, Juliénas, Cru Beaujolais, France -photo grapelive

2017 Domaine Camille et Mathieu Lapierre, Juliénas, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The Lapierre Juliénas is beautifully ripe, perfumed and almost exotic in nature with its unique volcanic and schist soil giving loads of floral tones, spicy contrast and mineral highlights. Coming from a single lieu-dit known as Côte de Bessay this Juliénas Cru Beaujolais is a pure Gamay wine that, again like the more well known Morgon bottlings from Lapierre is crafted with traditional whole cluster fermentation à l’ancienne and using 100% native yeasts and was aged on the fine lees in used ex Burgundy barrels. The palate is full and packed with blackberry, strawberry and cherry fruits along with hints of black walnut, anise, tangy herb, all spice and dried violets showing the vintage to perfection and allowing the Gamay’s true nature to shine with an underlying freshness and purity of form, creating a sexy balance of juicy fruit and lively acidity that is impossible to resist.

Mathieu and his sister Camille Lapierre confidently continue the great work that their late father Marcel pioneered with this domaine based in Morgon, and now having introduced all biodynamic vineyard practices and ensuring that Marcel’s legacy of Jules Chauvet influenced traditional wine growing lives on. The viticulture and vinification, as noted by importer Kermit Lynch, of their Juliénas is the same as the estate’s more famous Morgon offerings, starting with old vines, in this case over 60 years old, never using synthetic herbicides or pesticides, harvesting late for deep flavor development, rigorously sorting to remove all but the healthiest grapes, and adding the absolute minimal doses of sulfur (as this one has) or none at all, everything is done here to adhere to Chauvet and their fathers belief in natural wine. That said, Mathieu and Camille have made this label a reflection of the past and future, carving out their own niche and making exceptional wines, like this one.
($38 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 15, 2019

2018 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken “Alte Reben” Mosel Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken “Alte Reben” Mosel Germany.
These 2018s by Christopher Loewen are something very special and maybe even a step up on the last few outstanding vintages produced here at Weingut Carl Loewen with exceptional wines throughout the lineup, especially the top Feinherb and GG bottlings, but his entry level wines are stunning too and, at the price, are Rieslings to stock up on, in particular look for this gorgeous and seriously bone dry Old Vine “Alte Reben” Trocken. It was great seeing Christopher again and taste his latest finished bottlings, like this one as well as his amazing barrel samples of the top wines, like his monumental 1896 Feinherb from the Maximin Herrenberg and the mighty Ritsch Riesling Trocken “GG”, both wines I’ve fallen in love with in recent years and written about. As Loewen’s famous Riesling guru and evangelist Terry Theise notes, this is a cuvée from old ungrafted parcels in Loewen’s collection of steep plots which are on this part of the Mosel’s classic grey slate soils, though Loewen says there are veins of red volcanic deposits here too, that are now being worked only using organic methods and harvested by hand. Loewen farms mostly in three VDP Grosse Lage sites, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, Thörnicher Ritsch and Leiwener Laurentiuslay and is now considered one of the region’s superstars, the rise from solid to stellar has come recently with the generational shift from father to son, as has happened all over the world, and the praise here is incredibly well deserved.

Like all the wines Christopher makes, the grapes are all pressed whole cluster and pomace is never moved as to not break the stems, which, as Loewen notes, leads to phenolic flavors and bitterness that he wants to avoid. The juice, he adds, is “browned” or oxidized pre- fermentation, a practice common in Burgundy, and his ferments are completely natural without addition of yeast known here as Sponti, plus absolutely no enzymes or nutrition is used. This wine, one step up from the entry level estate, is an all stainless wine and while severely dry it manages to be complex and textural, it is a serious Riesling for those that want pure minerallity and racy acidity above all else. This 2018 shows a bit more fullness of form without losing any energy with exciting layers of zesty citrus and orchard stone fruits along with a hint of tropical essences and flinty/stony spiciness with lime, green melon, white peach, tart apricot and tangerine as well as crystalized ginger, wet shale, salty sea shore, white lavender/rose, chamomile and crisp apple skin. Tart and mouth watering, this Alte Reben is still concentrated and has loads of structural extract, making for a complete Riesling that is zippy and refreshing, but one that can deliver a world class performance with food, it is a sleeper in the latest set from the talented Loewen, but one well worth seeking out! If wine is a story of people and place, it’s wines like this that are a celebration of that image and it is a joy to drink.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 14, 2019

2017 Domaine Vincent Paris, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France -photo grapelive

2017 Domaine Vincent Paris, Crozes-Hermitage Rouge, Northern Rhone, France.
Vincent Paris, whose first vintage was 1997, is a native of Cornas and one of the Northern Rhone’s brightest young stars with an amazing set of Syrah wines, in particular look for his Granit 30 and Granit 60 bottlings, though his other village wines are killer too including some regional offerings that are spectacular values, like this brilliant dark purple 2017 vintage Crozes-Hermitage Rouge and his Saint-Joseph. Paris, who inherited most of his vines (some of which are 100 years old) from his grandfather has made quite a name for himself, plus he also rents vines from his uncle, the legendary Cornas vigneron Robert Michel, who’s influence and mentoring is evident in Vicent’s lovely wines. The Domaine wines are all biodynamically farmed vines, which are located in various parcels along the southeast facing Cornas slope, while the Vincent Paris Selection bottlings, like this one, come from various leased plots within quality terroirs, with this Crozes coming a long-time organic grower in Crozes with Syrah vines that average 30 years of age set on mostly alluvial soils and with “galet roulets” (large heat storing rocks) with a thin top soil.

This 2017 Crozes-Hermitage shows the vintage’s strength within the Northern Rhone with wonderful depth and ripe classic flavors and spicy detail, it was 100% de-stemmed and fermented without any oak at all, with it getting 9 months in tank only for absolute terroir and varietal purity. The bouquet is seductive with crushed violets, red and black fruits, graphite and a meaty element that is truly typical of the region along with a smooth tannin medium bodied palate that delivers boysenberry, damson plum, blueberry and kirsch fruits as well as peppercorns, minty herb, camphor, earth, bitter coco, creme de cassis and black licorice accents. This wine has been on run of great vintages with 2015, 2016 and this 2017 all being fantastic, each having subtle differing nuances, but overall similarly easy to love with exceptional quality, though I must say right away this one seems a touch more expressive and it really opens up quickly, this is a good year to stock up on, especially at this price it is hard to beat! Nice stuff to just quaff without any guilt and super with food, drink this pretty little thing over the next 3 to 5 years. Vincent Paris should without question, should be on your list of vignerons to follow, especially for the savvy/bargain buyer(s) and Syrah lovers, which I consider myself a full member of both.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 13, 2019

2017 Oliver Pithon,Cuvee Lais Rouge, Cotes du Languedoc, France -photo grapelive

2017 Oliver Pithon, Cuvee Lais Rouge, Cotes du Languedoc, France.
The old world Pithon Pais red blend from the lower Languedoc-Roussillon area in the Côtes Catalanes zone is made from all organic 40% Carignan, 40% Grenache Noir & 20% Mourvèdre that was grown on schiste, marl & limestone calcarious soils making for an intense meaty natural wine that reminds me of old Beaucastel and or Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneufs from the mid nineties or earlier! Olivier Pithon, originally from Anjou in the Loire Valley, where his family has the famous Pithon-Paillé winery, known for Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc, fermented & aged each parcel and varietal separately for this wine and raised it before blending for about 16 mo in mostly large used casks which shows in the lightly bretty nose and the authentic earthy character​. The touch of reduction and smoky mineral note blows off with a few swirls and what lies beneath is a beautiful and almost delicate wine, but with a sense of raw power and depth as well showing a medium to full bodied palate with layers of plum, tart cherries, pomegranate and spiced boysenberry fruits along with minty herb, lavender, anise, leather and a flinty stony note, gaining a touch of floral essences, graphite and mineral, finishing nicely with ripe tannins and a refined balance with just 13.5% natural alcohol. This 2017 Lais Cotes du Languedoc Rouge fills out with air, going some flourish and flair, but stays almost Pinot Noir like in satiny form, making it counter to expectations, as this region in recent years has produced more super concentrated and extracted wines that are full blown with a sense of dry port like density, usually with an inky color, which this wine does not possess, it is more lively and has a more ruby/crimson hue. After many years of being a fan of Pithon-Paillé, it was exciting to try Olivier’s wine and I highly recommend that you check them out, with this one being a good starting place, but allow it to get air and enjoy it with rustic, simple country style cuisine choices, it is exceptional with food.

Olivier grew up working in the vineyard, gaining an early application for the results of hard work and the gifts of nature on the wine developing a respect for terroir. Though his importer, Floraison Selections, says Pithon was a rebellious youth, and left the family vineyard, deciding to made his way on his own, he first headed to Bordeaux to continue his studies in winemaking and in 2001 settled in Calce, in the remote Côtes Catalanes, not far from the Spanish border, after being introduced to local legend Gérard Gauby by his brother Jo (Pithon-Paillé). In a rags to riches story, Oilvier came to Calce with his cow Lais and his house and immediately set about to his work, by farming a few hectares organically and biodynamically. After producing some successful wines, he now the has 19 hectares of certified organic and biodynamic vines which Olivier farms with the help of 6 cows. He adds, “I’ve had only one desire: to give everything to my vines so that then they give it back in their grapes and in my wine(s).” He continues, “You must be proud and put your guts, your sweat, your love, your desires, your joy and your dreams into your wine.”​ Calce is situated at 300 meters above sea level and located between the Mediterranean, the Pyréenees and Corbières with Pithon’s domaine having several distinct parcels of marl, shale, schist and clay, offering an array of influences that make his wines unique. With a nod to tradition he works exclusively with regional varietals, mainly Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre for the reds and with Maccabeu, which is more common in Spain, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc for the whites. This Lais Rouge is an impressive effort and a wonderful transparent expression of terroir and is very fairly priced for what develops in the glass, if you are a Rhone fan or into the Sierra de Gredos Garnacha(s) this is a producers to discover.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 12, 2019

2017 Wrath, Pinot Noir, Swan/828, San Saba Vineyard, Monterey County -photo grapelive

2017 Wrath, Pinot Noir, Swan/828 (Clones), San Saba Vineyard, Monterey County.
Sabrine Rodems, winemaker at Wrath has taken this label from obscurity to one of the best in Monterey with her continued success with richer styled Pinot Noirs, with most coming from vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands bench with its sandy loams and breezy cool climate making for some seriously deep wines. I must admit, I have at certain times had a love and hate relationship with Wrath, while I have always admired Rodems’ Syrah and some of whole cluster Pinots, the Rose and Chard until recently seemed a bit sweet for my personal taste, but in recent vintages the wines have reached a fine place, especially this new Swan and 828 clone cuvee from the San Saba Vineyard. This parcel is set in a sheltered nook, that is farmed with care and is certified sustainable, it sits just outside the SLH, but with a continuation of climate and soils, the Arroyo gravelly loam and Hanford sandy loam, which is well drained and low vigor, making for concentrated and intensely flavored grapes. This 2017 is very well balanced and has a quality feel about it, it reminds me of Williams Selyem and or Rochioli in style with a smoky earthy sensation, a dense palate and luxurious array of racy red fruits that takes me back to those wineries heydays of the mid nineties which is intriguing! As it opens up, this Swan/828 Pinot really takes off in the glass with a beautiful ruby/garnet hue, a subtle perfume of floral tones, spice and wild strawberries that comes through along with layers of black cherry, dusty plum and raspberry fruits as well as hints of briar, nutmeg, leather, cedar, cola bean, mineral/stony notes and a touch of stem tension and fleshiness that excites and lifts the fruit nicely. Look for more rose petals and pomegranate to come through with bottle age and the Swan’s earthy side matches the 828’s almost Grenache like expressiveness well, I look forward to letting the wood tame a bit and see its evolution.

The Thomas family bought San Saba Vineyards in late 2007 and created Wrath Wines and dramatically changed the culture and style of the estate with new viticulture practices focusing on crafting small lots of premium Pinot Noir as well as over the years adding Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, plus most recently a Falanghina, an ancient Italian white aromatic varietal from Italy’s Campania region. Wrath was the brainchild of co-owner and director of operations Michael Thomas, who brought in the talented Rodems and who also had the help of famed consultant Byron Kosuge, who made made for Miura and his own label and who had a great wealth of knowledge about the local sites. Recently, Wrath added the upcoming talent Miguel Lepe to help Rodems in the cellar, after he spent time making the Figge wines. I recently was highly impressed by Wrath’s all whole cluster Ex Vite Pinot Noir from the 2014 vintage, which is a thrilling wine, but with a gripping bite, while this one seems to hit a more finessed or polished cord, Rodems chose to vinify the the clonal selections separately with about 20% whole cluster and blending from barrel, which was a selection of various tonnelleries to add complexity, 40% new in total, and with close to a year of elevage. Then, after bottling, Wrath cellared this Swan/828 for an additional 12 months, which I must say paid off, allowing it to develop a textural seamlessness and elegance, and it is not done yet, as I think there is more to come with potential rewards for patience, drink over the next 3 to 5 years. This wine joins some fine offerings from Roar, Lucia, Morgan and Joyce delivering an exceptional SLH charm and a value packed performance, it’s solid choice, especially at this price point. Wrath is hitting its stride and with stellar vintages in barrel there’s a lot of expectations and this Pinot, which is just coming out now, gives a big hint of some next level stuff down the road.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 11, 2019

2018 Weingut Korrell Johanneshof, Riesling Estate Trocken, Nahe, Germany -photo grapelive

2018 Weingut Korrell Johanneshof, Riesling Estate Trocken, Nahe, Germany.
Based in the Bad Kreuznach-Bosenheim area of the Nahe River Valley, Korrell is one of the breakout stars to just hit the American wine scene and the latest set of wines are gorgeous terroir driven efforts, including this village level dry Riesling which is exceptionally pure, perfumed and exciting. This 2018 is quite impressive for an entry level, making it a fantastic value, it really drinks above its price class with an exotic bouquet of rosewater, orange blossom and verbena and a crystalline and crisp medium bodied palate that shows a cascade of ripe and expressive fruits that are balanced superbly with a steely mineral focus, zesty acidity and a mouth watering saline element that recharges the senses. Martin Korrell, winegrower at this ambitious and innovative estate, and the Nahe has a diverse set of soils to work with from volcanic to slate as well as quartz and gravel to chose from, plus Korrell has their prized single vineyard monopole Paradies cru set on mineral intense clay and fossilized limestone, which is his family’s flagship site that produces Riesling that rival Burgundy for textural richness and greatness of dry impact and concentration! The Korrell family, which as Spanish roots, has been practicing viticulture for the better part of 250 years, and the estate in the Nahe has been around since 1832, with Wilfried Korrell in 1967 converting it to all wine focus, and now run by Martin and Britta Korrell, who are the sixth generation and are the ones that have raised it to the level it is now. They built a new press house and modern winery in 2011 and farm 26 hectares of vines that include Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Silvaner, Muskateller and Scheurebe as well as the red grapes, Pinot Noir, Frühburgunder, Portugieser and Dornfelder.

Each wine from Korrell seems like a personal expression, and Martin joins a long list of stellar producers here from superstars like Schlossgut Diel to Donnhoff, as well as Gut Hermannsberg, Kruger-Rumpf and Schäfer-Fröhlich in making some of the Nahe’s best examples of Riesling. While under the radar until recently, Korrell like Harald Hexamer, also in the Nahe, have taken a while to get discovered in America, but the wines speak for themselves and now are getting well deserved attention. Of what is imported now, be sure to explore the signature Paradies Riesling, the Von Den Grossen Lagen (a special cuvee of dry Riesling lots from all VDP Grosse Lage sites) and this Estate Trocken that is a fabulous starting wine to get an insight into the quality here, plus there is a tiny bit of Eiswein and an award winning Sparkling Sekt to be found. This 2018 Trocken, which saw fermentation in steel tanks, is hard to resist with its clear and precise layers of mix of stone fruit and citrus leaning on brisk apricot, white cherry, melon, tangerine and mango along with a touch of bitter herb, wet rock, a dusting of spice and hint of creamy lees. Refreshing and bright, this is style that goes great with mildly spicy food, cured meats and lighter fare and at 12.5% natural alcohol it has plenty of extract and substance to chew on, like a baby GG. This vintage is one where the regional or village basic wines really excelled and there are a ton of cheap thrills to be had, these are serious quality for reasonable prices, so stock up, with this Korrell Trocken being a good target.
($22 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day October 10, 2019

2018 Domaine Serol, Gamay, Cote Roannaise “Eclat de Granite” Loire Valley, France -photo grapelive

2018 Domaine Serol, Gamay, Cote Roannaise “Eclat de Granite” Loire Valley, France.
Stephane Serol’s latest release, the 2018 Eclat de Granite is a lovely and intriguing red with a meaty core of dark fruit and mineral tones along with fresh acidity and a subtle floral delicacy made from 100% Gamay St. Romain, with a partial whole cluster fermentation and aged in neutral wood & tank. Gamay St. Romain is a unique clone of Gamay Noir that has evolved in this remote location in the highest part of the Loire Valley wine region in the Cote Roannaise, sometimes called the lost Cru of Beaujolais with its granite based well draining soils. The Côte Roannaise may be little known but the wines of Serol stand out, and as importer Floraison Selections they boldly and loudly speak for themselves, whether its the luscious, off-dry sparkling Gamay “Turbullent,” the delicate and precise bone dry still rosé “Cabochard”, or (to) the dense and spicy south-eastern exposed single parcel “Oudan” Gamay Cote Roannaise, this are impressive wines. This 2018 Eclat de Granite Gamay Cote Roannaise shows crushed violets and blackberries, a sanguine (iron rich) beefy note, black cherry, wild herbs, anise and spices in an elegant medium bodied wine that has warm ripe tannins and gives a soulful performance in the glass. This purple/ruby colored Gamay stays polished throughout and finishes with an earthy charm and stylishly vibrant, its a wine that gains interest with food and like Beaujolais enjoys a bit of chill when served, it is a wonderfully quaffable red to enjoy in the near term.

As mentioned, technically part of the Loire Valley but actually much closer to Beaujolais, the Cote Roannaise it is only about 50 km west of Morgon (Beaujolais) in the Monts de Madeleine, close to the Loire River’s source in the Massif Central. Gamay, as in Beaujolais, reigns supreme in this high elevation site, as noted, that is perched on a vein of granite, with Domaine Serol having an amazing set of old vine single parcels that capture nuanced expressions of terroir and make for extremely compelling wines, like this one. The Serol estate dates back to the 18th century and Stéphane is the 5th generation winegrower and his wife Carine have done much to elevate the recognition of Cote Roannaise. Serol have close to 30 hectares planted, the oldest vines are 80 years old and the domaine is certified organic, working with biodynamic principles, in the process of converting to full Demeter certification. The winemaking is traditional and everything is done to make them express place and in recent years they have gained in energy and are poised, but with playful rustic character underneath that adds a degree of authentic old world realism that makes these wines shine. I have been an admirer of Serol for a few vintages now and this one is a notch above the prior couple in my opinion and well worth searching out, especially Gamay Geeks like me. Ready to go now, this stuff has subtle nature and a nice finesse to it, less fruity that Beaujolais with a solid structural mouth feel, it pairs well with an array of flavorful cuisine choices and doesn’t need complication, simple is best, drink up.
($21 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive