Monthly Archives: November 2019

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2019

1989 Chateau Coutet a Barsac, Sauternes-Barsac, Premier Grand Cru Classe, White Bordeaux, France -photo grapelive

1989 Chateau Coutet a Barsac, Sauternes-Barsac, Premier Grand Cru Classe, White Bordeaux Sweet Wine, France.
The beautiful amber tinted golden 1989 Coutet is a refined expression of Sauternes-Barsac at a perfect stage in its life, it is joyous in the glass being lush and toffeed, but with a finessed sense of fruit plus a hint of exotic flavors, making it lovely with holiday meals, both lightly sweet dishes and or more savory ones. I’ve had many older, as well as newer vintages of Coutet, and have tasted with Aline Baly, of Chateau Coutet, who says Chateau Coutet is best served chilled, the cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. The wine will naturally warm in the glass, she adds, while it develops more aromatic complexities and fleshes out. Chateau Coutet can also, as Baly advocates, be served with seafood dishes, especially shellfish, lobster, crab and oysters on the half shell, which I shared with her and had three different years (of Coutet), which worked wonderfully in somewhat a surprise. Plus, Baly notes, that Foie Gras is a perfect pairing with Coutet’s naturally sweet opulence. Like Riesling, Sauternes can be enjoyed with spicy Asian cuisine, raw fish, like sushi or sashimi, and cheeses, with Chateau Coutet being a fine companion to these things, not just as a dessert pairing. In this day and age, sometimes, we tend to overlook these exciting wines and after re-visiting them, like this one, it becomes clear we should not do so and that we should find a place for them in our lives.

This 1989 shows an array of flavors with a mature caramel character and aging fruit essences including dried apricot, pear tart, candied oranges, lemon curd, creme brûlée and light floral notes as well as delicate tropical fruits and non noble rot honeycomb. After air there are secondary elements that come through that shows as earthiness and that cuts into the sweetness and the gives even more complexity and there is enough life still to give the texture a feeling lightness, which cuts the sweetness. With the cuisine this beauty delivers a toast note, apple butter, ginger spice, a touch of raisin, tanginess and vanilla, getting more dense and vinous, but not losing its class or elegance of form. This Coutet as in most years was made from late harvest grapes, all very careful hand picked and from a blend that likely about 75% Semillon, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, and 2% Muscadelle and aged in barrel. Château Coutet was recognized as a Classified First Growth in the 1855 classification, but the history goes back much further, in fact its history started in 1643, and Barsac, among the coldest in the region, is one of the greatest for this style of wine, and these days this area offers great value, especially Coutet, who have been connected with the winemaking team from Château Mouton Rothschild since 1994. This 1989 is a nice treat indeed and there are many ex-cellar bottles available, which show excellent quality and well worth searching out.
($75+ Est. 375ml Half Bottle) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2019

2017 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Estate Field Selections, Mendocino Ridge -photo grapelive

2017 Drew Family Cellars, Pinot Noir, Estate Field Selections, Mendocino Ridge.
Jason Drew’s Pinot and Syrah are some of the State’s greatest wines on offer these days and his estate, located just 3.3 miles from the ocean at close to 1,250 feet in elevation is in Mendocino Ridge appellation at the most western end of the Anderson Valley is the source of some amazing Pinot, like this open knit and lush wine. The site was carefully chosen after years of research by Drew and his family live on the property, which looks like paradise on earth with steep vines and even some heirloom apples, from which they do a crazy good dry cider. The Drew Ranch is farmed, as they state proudly, to the organic standard continuing a long history of organic farming on their ranch that dates back close to 30 years.The climate and soils are about as ideal as one could find for a Pinot Noir vineyard in California with ancient ocean floor soils of decomposed sandstone and shale, high in iron and quartzite with a perfect ratio of sand, gravelly loam and clay that helps provide the material for those gorgeous wines. The marginal fertility, as Drew puts it, combined with excellent water holding capacity and good drainage makes for an extremely compelling site that is planted to a selection of clones including Pommard, 943, 115, Swan, 667 and Mt. Eden. I have long been a fan of Drew’s wines, even before he set up shop in the Anderson Valley, when his wines came from mostly the Santa Barbara area. Jason and his wife Molly Drew started Drew back in 2000, as they note, with a clear pursuit in mind, they wanted to craft small lot, cool climate wines that express site distinction and traditional varietal character, and they have achieved that in spades with an amazing lineup of wines that enjoy their California terroir, but remind of old world versions with the Pinots being very Burgundy like in authentic and soulful way and the Syrah getting their style from classic Northern Rhone character.

The brilliant, ripely forward, youthfully plush and ethereal 2017 Estate Field Selections Pinot Noir from Drew is outrageously good in the glass with a beautiful ruby/crimson hue and a bouquet that includes rose petal, wild herb, ripe red berries and earthy elements that leads to the medium bodied palate of racy raspberry, plum and pomegranate layers that lift the black cherry core of Pinot fruit along with subtle oak toast, tea spices and mineral tones. Drew hardly uses new oak, usually under 20%, native yeast and employs partial whole cluster in his fermentations, he is a master at his craft, making wines of depth and balance that rivals any in California and in Burgundy. Jason has learned winemaking in both hemispheres and holds a Graduate Degree in Enology from the University of Adelaide. His CV includes several notable names in northern and central California, having worked at wineries and vineyards including St Supery, Joseph Phelps (with Craig Williams), Luna, also in Napa Valley (with John Kongsgaard), Carmenet, as well as with the legendary Cathy Corison and Babcock Vineyards with winemaker Brian Babcock. Drew Family Cellars has to rake up there in the top ten small American wineries, maybe even the top five in my book, these last 5 vintages at Drew have been unbelievable and the 2017 releases are majestic offerings, especially the Morning Dew Ranch Pinot, the Perli Syrah and in particular this stellar Estate Field Selections Pinot, which saw Drew’s favored traditional winemaking practices with hand punchdowns and no fining or filtering to showcase purity. Drink this one over the next 5 to 10 years and savor its heavenly class with an array of cuisine and, like all great wines, that last sip is something that will haunt you and make you crave it like a first love.
($60 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2019

2017 La Grange Tiphaine par Coralie et Damien Delecheneau Vignerons, Chenin Blanc “Clef de Sol” Montlouis-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France -photo grapelive

2017 La Grange Tiphaine par Coralie et Damien Delecheneau Vignerons, Chenin Blanc “Clef de Sol” Montlouis-sur-Loire, Loire Valley, France.
One of the hottest properties and labels in the Loire Valley is Domaine La Grange Tiphaine, now run by the fourth generation vigneron Damien Delecheneau along with his wife and partner Coralie, based within the two terroirs of Montlouis-sur-Loire and Touraine Amboise AOC’s and are known especially for their natural expression of Chenin Blanc, like this fabulous “Clef de Sol” cuvée from a special plot in Montlouis. La Grange Tiphaine was originally founded at the end of the 19th century by Alfonse Delecheneau, who family has carried out since then, but has really been a rising star more recently under Damien when he came back to the family winery in 2002, and who has made wine in Bordeaux, the States and in South Africa, another serious place for old vine Chenin, bringing that experience with him. Delecheneau has followed in the footsteps of his idol and mentor François Chidaine, who’s own wines are legendary in Montlouis, and Damien works in a most natural way with all his vineyards being certified organic, he also brings a new level of scientific precision to natural winemaking that makes his small lot handcrafted wines really stand out for their energy, charm and exceptional quality without the usually forgiven funk, these are wines, with this one in particular, that show incredible purity and elegance, rivaling the other top stars of the region.

Highlighting the success at La Grange Tiphaine, in 2016, Damien was elected to take the lead in Montlouis, becoming president of the appellation and has implemented many things to elevate the zone, plus led rescue efforts that saved recent vintages from severe frost devastation that has impacted the Loire and other areas. He is careful in the vines and does many passes to achieve the best results from his vineyard with a maniacal attention to detail and sorting of the clusters and grapes to make the best selection as possible, and this Clef de Sol is from a second pick of riper Chenin, but only bunches that are not botrytized, but show depth of concentration. This wine comes from 80 year old vines set on clay and silica over limestone and all the grapes were de-stemmed, and then pressed to 400 liter tanks, where was fermented and raised for about 12 months. This Clef de Sol by La Grange Tiphaine is vinous on the palate with wonderful deep Chenin fruit and beautiful mineral tones and transparent detailing, it is divinely balanced and still rich in the mouth, this tasty stuff with hints of white flowers, peach, mixed citrus, fig and a touch of wet stone, saline, unsweetened honeycomb, and subtly crisp acidity. Loire fans and natural wine lovers both will rejoice in this Chenin and I highly recommend La Grange Tiphaine, who I have been following for a few vintages now, and they also do a collection of lively red wines made from Côt (Malbec), Gamay and Cabernet Franc that are well worth checking out.
($31 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2019

2008 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée “Cuvee Duvault Blochet” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France -photo grapelive

2008 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée “Cuvee Duvault Blochet” Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The exceptionally rare Domaine de la Romanee-Conti “Cuvée Duvault-Blochet” Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru Red Burgundy, named after the 19th-century founder of the domaine, Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blocher, is crafted from declassified 100% Grand Cru fruit from their top sites and only done in remarkable vintages, most notably in recent times like the 1999 and this 2008. In some years this cuvee was made from young vines, often rumored to be exclusively from the fabled La Tache site, though DRC has always been cagey about its sources for “Cuvee Duvault Blochet” Premier Cru. I have been blessed with the experience of having tried every bottling of DRC’s Grand Crus, except the Corton offerings, getting to try La Tache, Romanee Saint Vivant, Echezeaux and Richebourg from more than one vintage, though only had the holy grail Romanee-Conti once and the Cuvée Duvault-Blochet now once. The 2008 is outrageously good and a thrilling surprise, in that, it is full developed and rewarding, even without decanting and or air this was spectacular Pinot Noir that was perfumed, wonderfully textured, vivid and showed incredible depth leaning on dark fruit in the profile. If anyone reading this review has some of this stuff, they are very lucky to say the least as it has now entered a window of excellence that will or should please any Burgundy lover.

Made from a second picking from all of the domaine’s vineyards except Romanée-Conti, according to the winery, the wine is labeled Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru, though as mentioned it is all Grand Cru and in my limited knowledge and experience, again as noted, I find this Cuvée Duvault-Blochet more expressive rather than severely structural making me think more of La Tache and Grands Echezeaux instead of the greener and firmer elements of young Richebourg, which I feel need more time to come around. Though I shouldn’t read too much into things as the riper pick may change that opinion, I also must say, I first tasted this bottle without knowing what it was, in a blind flight, and there was an immediate palate response that this was truly something regal and noteworthy, without question this wine was a great wine, its pedigree was on total display! Led by gorgeous and vivacious dark fruits and crushed violets with only a hint of smoke, earth and spice with blackberry, mulberry, black cherry and currant fruits as well as a dusting of Asian spices, mineral tones, snappy and minty herbs, this wine’s tannins are a notably supple, making it textural and fleshy, but still very poised and with enough firmness to let you know it was from powerful sources. Sadly almost none of this is still available and it is wildly unaffordable even if you were to locate it, but that all said, it is utterly jaw dropping good with a decent length (of life) ahead of it.
($1,800 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Side Note: People ask why I would review a wine that is so expensive and almost impossible to get? Well it provides the reference point to highlight just how great other wines are and we should never deny beauty and greatness even in things we can never have ourselves. This wine serves those goals and I am forever curious of wine in all its forms.

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2019

2017 Weingut Leitz, Pinot Noir Rosé Sekt Brut, Rheingau Sparkling Wine, Germany -photo grapelive

2017 Weingut Leitz, Pinot Noir Rosé Sekt Brut, Rheingau Sparkling Wine, Germany.
The lightly leesy Leitz Rosé Sekt is made from 100% de-stemmed Pinot Noir grapes from the Rheingau’s middle part from vines set on loam and loess soils in a warmer area, but still allowing for classic acidity and vibrancy of flavors in a Champagne style bubbly. German bubbly is being taking much more serious these days, what was once a novelty is now an almost a must have for every producer and Johannes Leitz’s versions are remarkable for quality and price, especially this Pinot Noir Rosé Sekt with its tart cherry, strawberry and racy citrus notes and creamy fine mousse. This delicious pink sparkler saw a brief maceration on the skins to give that lovely salmon/pink hue, with the grapes undergoing a gentle press cycle before the juice is then racked to tank and, true to the definition of weissherbst, the winery treats it just like a white wine from there on out. The juice undergoes a long, cool primary fermentation in stainless, as do the tank-fermented Rieslings, like the Dragon Stone and Kabinett, here at Leitz, then the secondary fermentation occurs as well in stainless steel in large pressurized tanks, before the lees aging and traditional sparkling techniques are employed.

Leitz is one of Germany’s top estate wineries and one of the top producers in the Rheingau with great holdings mostly around the town of Ruedesheim, including some exceptional Grand Cru vineyards on the famous Ruedesheimer Berg (Magic Mountain) with plots in the famed Schlossberg and Kaisersteinfels as well as in the Drachenstein (Dragon Stone) to name a few. Leitz also does a few things besides Riesling, including Sylvaner and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) with two Sparklers, of which this is one. Bright and easy to love the Leitz Pinot Noir Rosé Sekt adds a nice sense of varietal character, mineral tones, wet stone and brioche in the glass, making it a joy for any occasion, it’s as good as many basic Rosé Brut Champagnes at twice the price. Dry, but generous this Brut level bubbly just feels right and gives luxurious detail, it is excellent on its own, but does well with lots of food choices and can be joyous with brunch and or picnics. It is nice to see Sekt get more available in the States, especially the more sophisticated examples, some of which, like Schlossgut Diel’s are every bit as grand as the top Champagne houses and Leitz’s is maybe less serious, but still loads of fun and with wonderful value for the buck.
($30 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2019

2015 Timo Mayer, Pinot Noir, Close Planted, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia -photo grapelive

2015 Timo Mayer, Pinot Noir, Close Planted, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.
The sexy red and blue fruited ruby red hued Close Planted Pinot Noir from Timo Mayer is sourced from one acre of Pinot Noir on his Yarra Valley estate, planted in the red rocky volcanic and sedimentary soils of this region of Victoria, a cool climate zone in Australia in a high density plot that produces tiny amounts of fruit per vine, that delivers sublime concentration and complexity as this 2015 version shows off with great effect. Making a selection of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Gamay, Timo Mayer, who came from Germany, describes his winemaking philosophy as “bring back the funk” handcrafts single vineyard estate wines exclusively and these wines are wildly followed by his almost rabid fans and it is really hard to get your hands on them, especially in the States. Mayer believes, as he notes, that wines are made in the vineyard and therefore he tries to interfere as little as possible in the natural winemaking process and his wines are unfined and unfiltered to show the true expression of the Mayer farm’s terroir. This medium bodied Close Planted Pinot really develops in the glass with air and is riveting in its performance, tasted along with an amazing set of elite California and Burgundy Pinots in the same price class, this Mayer really held its own, and it gave me a real reference point for fair judgement, I frankly love this wine, it’s up to the hype.

The 2015 Pinot is slightly reductive and spicy with whole bunch character and a lovely lingering sense of fruit and floral tones, this is very impressive stuff with succulent and tangy red fruits, wild herb, earth and a whisper of French oak. The layering is beautiful with silky tannins and vibrant acidity that highlights each flavor detail with strawberry, black cherry, plum, pomegranate and vine picked bramble berry along with dried violets, orange tea, mineral flintiness and a nice saline note. One of Timo’s importers notes, he left his native Germany for the Yarra Valley many years ago, and he organically farms a small 2.5 hectare plot called Bloody Hill, as Timo adds “because it’s bloody steep.” Mayer produces wines that go toward elegance and purity over muscle and showiness and he is unafraid to show utter transparency and earthiness in his wines. His signature style, is in the use of whole-cluster fermentations, that he says increases complexity and giving silkier tannins and freshness. His wines have become legendary and this wine is considered some of Australia’s best Pinot Noir, which I can only agree for what I’ve tasted over the years, this is some intriguing juice. It’s hard to argue that Timo Mayer’s wines are great values at the price we have to pay in the States, but boy howdy they are, as this wine proves they are lust inducing gems.
($110 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2019

2014 Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier d’Or, Brut Champagne, Blances Voies, Rilly-la-Montagne 1er Cru, France -photo grapelive

2014 Vilmart & Cie, Grand Cellier d’Or, Brut Champagne, Blances Voies, Rilly-la-Montagne 1er Cru, France.
The thrilling 2014 vintage Brut Grand Cellier d’Or by Laurent Champs of Champagne Vilmart & Cie is a gorgeous wine that proves this is going to be a much better year for top bubbly than people may have thought, it shows bright intensity, fine detail, mineral tones and vinous grace on the palate. This latest collection of Vilmart is simply gorgeous stuff with amazingly pure flavors and delicacy along with lively freshness, especially this stunning 2014 vintage Grand Cellier d’Or Brut with its vivid apple and lemon fruits and subtlety divine leesy character and ultra fine mousse. This beauty gains with air and fill out richly on the palate and the beading bubbles are invigorating and creamy helping with the impression of energy and luxuriousness, while liquid mineral, brioche, hazelnut and white flowers all add to the depth and complexity. This one, with its vitality and wet stones or chalky finesse was may favorite of the main line of this set of bottlings imported by the famous grower fizz guru Terry Theise and while outstanding own its own it has the substance and structure to be a center piece wine with food, as are all of Champs’ bubbly, it is of course tasty with spicy prawns and or briny/salty caviar.

Laurent Champs is an absolute master at his craft and his Champagne is one of the world’s great wines, it was a great pleasure and honor to have tasted with him on many occasions, including as recently as last month when I sampled his current releases, and as mentioned they are all delicious, elegant and sophisticated sparklers that offer terroir driven brilliance and stylish opulence. The Vilmart Champagnes are true grower producer wines and this one comes from estate grown organic vines from a single Lieu-Dit “Blances Voies” in the Premier Cru Rilly-la-Montagne area. Laurent, who is the fifth generation at Vilmart, which was founded by Desire Vilmart in 1890 as a recoltant-manipulant, used 65 year old ungrafted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to craft this cuvee, fermenting and aging the grapes in a combination of wood vessels including large foudre, demi muids and some barriques. Champs chose 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir and allowed it to age on the lees for 48 months and used zero malo to preserve its laser like freshness, while being wonderfully pleasing, exotic and deep, it should age incredible well, this is special stuff. Enjoy this with your favorite people and or family for any celebration, it is a thrilling and rewarding vintage Champagne.
($120 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2019

2015 Parsonage Village Vineyard, Dario & Bixby Reserve, Carmel Valley Estate, Monterey County -photo grapelive

2015 Parsonage Village Vineyard, Dario & Bixby Reserve, Carmel Valley Estate, Monterey County.
The inky dark, purple/black and garnet edged Dario & Bixby Reserve is all estate blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot that is full of tannic power and opulently textured black fruits along with a heady perfume of violets and spice, making for an amazing and concentrated red wine. This tiny production reserve wine was a special barrel cuvee with a new Taransaud 225L barrel, one of the most prized French oak coopers noted for their quality product, especially in Bordeaux and with top estates in the Ribera del Deuro, plus a used Seguin Moreau French barrique which give this wine an seductive Saint-Emilion like appeal on the rich and full bodied palate that features crushed blackberries, sweet plum, black currant and blueberry compote along with racy spices and briar notes with lingering cinnamon, smoky vanilla, creme de cassis and a hint of incense, lavender, bitter coco and licorice. This rare bottling, which is normally done in two separate wines, is a hard get, but well worth asking (beg) the winery to dig into the library for, and or look for the individual versions, especially the 2013 and 2014 vintages.

The 2015 vintage gave a minuscule amount of fruit per vine with ultra small clusters and berries, this was especially so at Bill Parsons small vineyard, a south facing hillside only a mile east of the Carmel Valley Village which is set on chalky and rocky soils. The Merlot grown here is on a steep south facing slope that catches all the sun and produces tiny yields and small berries, making it a force to be reckoned with, this is not your grandma’s Merlot, it has the power and tannin to match most Cabs and combined with the inky/spicy Petit Verdot just makes for an incredible wine, almost totally unique and un-to itself. I have been a long time admirer of Parsonage and their commitment to being a winery that makes wine without compromise, achieving richness and depth usually not seen in Carmel Valley, more along the lines of what you’d expect of Napa or Paso, all handcrafted in tiny amounts. The Parsonage Syrah(s) are always a favorite too, be sure to check them out with 2014, 2015 and 2017 looking (drinking) great right now, they taste more like Barossa than Hermitage, but with their own sexy hedonistic twist!
($80 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2019

2017 Giuseppe Ellena, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy -photo grapelive

2017 Giuseppe Ellena, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Piedmonte, Italy.
It’s a thrill to discover new producers, like Giuseppe Ellena of Cuneo, Piedmonte, where young winemaker Mateo Ellena is crafting some interesting wines, he has worked for both Elio Altare of La Morra and Giacoma Bologna of Rocchetta Tanaro, so comes with some serious street cred and I was impressed by his latest release, a basic Langhe Nebbiolo from estate plots in the famed La Morra zone of Barolo. The home estate is planted to vines and hazelnuts and Mateo has converted it all to organic viticulture as well as bringing a bit of what he learned at Altare and Rocchetta Tanaro, with some flair and style from both of these producers being, as he puts it, a fusing modernity with classic or traditional Barolo. This 2017 is supple and silky like a fine Pinot Noir, but with exceptional Nebbiolo flavor and character showing pretty rose petals, candied citrus, tangy herbs along with strawberry, plum and juicy red berry fruits on the lighter palate as well as dried lavender, anise and a hint of tarry earth. This smooth and fruit driven Nebbiolo is vibrant and smooth, making it easy to enjoy right away and while not overly complex or densely structured it is a very pleasing red to pop in its youth.

In Ellena’s cellar, the younger wines, like this Langhe Nebbiolo, are given soft handling, less extraction, with higher temperature ferments and shorter time in oak, if it sees wood at all, which this one doesn’t show at all, it’s as pure as can be, while his Baroo offerngs, which I’m excited to explore next, are macerated for 60+ days on the skins and raised traditionally in botti with a bit of barrique on the more intense Cru wines. Mateo’s primary and malolactic ferments are carried out with 100% indigenous yeasts and the rackings are limited in order to minimize sulfur additions. Ellena, who mostly does Nebbiolo based wines also does Dolcetto and Barbera, plus a rare white made from Nascetta, the relatively unknown Langhe white grape. This rare variety, which is light and aromatic, which was once very popular in the region, but ended up being abandoned at the turn of the 20th century, its recent rediscovery, about 10 years ago is exciting, especially as there is less than 20 acres planted worldwide! I love Nebbiolo and Ellena’s tasty little Langhe Nebbiolo is a nice quilt free version that is a solid choice for the price and perfect for casual drinking, keep an eye out for this label!
($26 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 11, 2019

2015 Cameron Winery, Nebbiolo, Willamette Valley, Oregon -photo grapelive

2015 Cameron Winery, Nebbiolo, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The remarkable Cameron Nebbiolo reminds me a lot of Boca or Ghemme offerings from the Alto Piedmonte with its beautiful bouquet and nice acidity, it excels in being restrained yet expressive coming from the Jory (volcanic) soils of the Dundee Hills, it is one of the best, age worthy and most interesting of the new world examples of this grape. John Paul, winemaker and vigneron at Cameron Winery, most renowned for his Burgundy style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, loves Italian wines and was inspired to try Northern Italian varietals in the Willamette Valley and now has Nebbiolo planted in his famous Clos Electrique estate vineyard, where these grapes mostly came from in this vintage, and he also does Friuli inspired skin contact Pinot Gris, a Ramato as well as a Radikon inspired Rouge Gris and a white blend that includes Pinot Blanc, all of which are stunning under the radar wines. John Paul, who works with sustainable and non irrigated vines and employs long maceration(s) and extended elevage is making some of Oregon’s greatest wines.

The 2015 warm and ripe on the palate filling the mouth with dense fruit, dusty tannins and layers of mineral and spice adding earthy and savory notes as it opens in the glass displaying a classic Nebbiolo personality with liquid roses, like Ruche and Vespolina showtimes show as well, along with balsamic dipped Strawberries, racy plum and juicy cherry fruits as well as a touch of red pepper, cedar, mint, blood orange rind and black licorice. At 13.1% natural alcohol, this is a powerful wine, but not heavy and it, like outstanding Barolo and Barbaresco has a way of wearing its tannin and acidity with class, texture and elegance. This ruby red and dark orange edged tinted vivid Cameron Nebbiolo has its youthful ease, but there is complexity and earthiness hiding underneath and it should gain with another 3 to 5 years, this is thrilling stuff and a great value. Cameron’s wines are deep and authentic with a serious nod to the old world, I love these wines, and the latest set are soulful and exceptional in detail and length, don’t miss this one and their 2017 vintage Pinots.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive