Monthly Archives: November 2020

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 30, 2020

2014 Maison Morey-Coffinet, Puligny-Montrachet “Corvée des Vignes” White Burgundy, France.
After sipping a classic Meursault for yesterday’s Wine of the Day, I was inspired to dig through my notes of great white Burgundies and remembered how much I like this gorgeous Puligny-Montrachet from Thibault Morey at Maison Morey-Coffinet that I have in my original notes that were sourced at a Martine’s Wines portfolio tasting. This mineral driven and exciting Puligny, somewhat of a sleeper in the lineup, really impressed me with its depth and complexity, this winery has in recent years become a favorite of mine, especially these Puligny bottlings, which are brilliant Chardonnys and in this day and age, real quality value offerings. The 2014 vintage is a great year to explore right now with the wines getting into a nice mature place, especially this Corvée des Vignes, which is displaying with absolute purity a fine palate of white peach, apple and racy lemony fruits along with an array of stony detail and classic hints of hazelnut, leesy toast, white flowers and clove spiciness as well as a soft oak presence. There is a lot to love here and I am in love with the textural mouth feel and its steely structure, this is really coming into its prime and it gains even more excitement with air and with a meal, I highly recommend checking these 2014s at this stage with their secondary flavors offering loads of drinking pleasure, reminding us that these white Burgundies are a thrill in the glass. The Morey-Coffinet domaine was established in the 1970s, founded by Thibault’s dad Michael Morey, and has always been a well regarded label with the wines taking off under the younger Morey, who joined the family winery in the late nineties and has brought this property into the limelight with his stylish wines.

The Domaine Morey-Coffinet has a stunning collection of Grand Crus, including Batard-Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne as well as some awesome Premier Crus in Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet, along with a selection of quality village wines and special Lieu-Dits that, like this effort, make for a star studded set of whites to chose from, with this Puligny-Montrachet Corvee des Vignes being one to look for, especially for the price. Thibaut Morey is very precise and crafts his wines with methodical attention to detail, and with his whites from parcels like this one, carefully hand sorts all the grapes and ferments in barrel with this wine seeing a combination of classic barrique and larger French oak (350L) barrels. His Chassagne and Puligny wines are aged about a year in wood, which depending on what the vintage brings get about 30% new oak and then bottled unfined and unfiltered, all of which adds up to seriously delicious, opulent and graceful wines. I know these wines are limited and sometimes hard to find in the states, but I suggest tracking some down, in particular this yellow/gold Corvée des Vignes, as well as the Le Trezin, plus the Premier Crus, which are fantastic, but a touch more dear price wise. All of the estate or Domaine wines come from all organic and biodynamic vines that certainly add to the wine’s quality and energy to this Chassagne-Montrachet based winery’s series of white Burgundies, for which the Morey family is most famous for in the Cote de Beaune’s clay and limestone based soils. This 2014 was fabulous, so I’m curious to sample the 2017 and 2018s at sometime in the near future, which look to be even better from what I am told. This time of year, as I have mentioned a few times recently is a great time to pop corks on richly flavored white Burgundy, with Morey-Coffinet being an excellent choice, and enjoying them with soft cheeses, lobster and or roast poultry dishes.
($48 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 29, 2020

2014 Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, Meursalt ”Les Corbins” White Burgundy, France.
While I’ve focused on this winery’s Volnay Rouge bottlings in the past, this wine, made by Vincent Bitouzet, from the traditional Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur, who makes elegantly structured wines, crafts fantastic white Burgundy, and is known primarily for his Meursault, like this beauty, from his small winery in heart of the Cote de Beaune. I must give a big thank you for a friend who shared this special bottle with me, this 2014 Meursault Les Corbins is showing fantastically well and is gaining a lovely mature golden color and secondary complexity, though still having an inner brightness and vivid detail, making it an absolutely rewarding white Burgundy that shows a layering of classic apple, pear, baked peach, lemon curd that is nicely accented by clove, hazelnut, lessy toast and texture with a touch of matchstick, wet stones and delicate aromatics. Everything flows with elegance and richness on the medium/full palate, this really delivers the Meursault experience with loads of personality and is a totally pleasing wine for the purists and Burgundy fans. As I taste more and more of these wines I become an even bigger fan, this one confirms their quality and depth.

As I have noted with their red wines, Bitouzet-Prieur’s whites, get native yeast natural fermentation and there is never more than 20% new oak is used for the aging here, thus allowing a true sense of the place to shine through and giving a authentic sensuality to the wines, which this Les Corbins certainly delivering now. The Bitouzet-Prieur Meursaults, as I have noted in the past, are slightly reductive and restrained in style when young, but get absolutely delicious with bottle age, as this one has, and the reds are similar, as their Volnay Taillepieds also has shown in a recent tasting, these may not be overly flamboyant expressions by any means, they do get wonderfully regal over time. These are subtle and refined examples of the Cote de Beaune Terroir(s) that some require patience, all of which is rewarded in examples such as this. The Bitouzet family, as noted by importer Rosenthal Imports, owns 1.5 hectares of “Les Corbins” which sits just underneath the 1er Cru “Les Plures” on a deep and rocky mix of clay-limestone soils, which gives this Lieu-Dit its roundness. Only two barrels per year are reserved for the USA, which make this a rare treat indeed and a super value! Thanks again Marc for sharing and the blind tasting, that was fun my friend.
($65 to 70 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 28, 2020

2018 Weingut Meyer-Näkel, Pinot Noir “Estate” Ahr, Germany.
The famous Mayer-Näkel estate has gone through a seamless transition from the legendary “Red Baron” Werner Näkel, who is credited for making the world take notice of German red wines, especially Pinot Noir, to his talented daughters, Dörte & Meike Näkel who are making a stellar collection of wine themselves, including this smoothly rich and slate driven Ahr Estate 2018 Pinot Noir. These days, the secret is out that Germany is actually a powerhouse producer of Pinot Noir with many top producers crafting exceptional versions of this grape, they include Becker, Kunstler, Schlossgut Diel, Furst and Meyer-Näkel, who won a historic blind tasting by Decanter Magazine and was named best Pinot Noir in the world, against some of Burgundy’s greatest, to name a few. This 2018, which is less oak driven than Werner’s wines of the mid two thousands, is a deep ruby wine that is fresh and wonderfully textured with a pleasing layered mouth feel and pure Pinot fruit, highlighting the evolving style at this estate in Germany’s northwest region of the Ahr, any area of unique steep slopes, smoky slate and long sunny days to ripen the fruit to perfection. Based in Dernau, the Meyer-Näkel estate is blessed with some amazing vineyards site, some of which are Grand Cru or Grosses Gewachs set on pure slate looking down on the Ahr River, that lies in the rain shadow of the Eifel Mountains, meaning it is drier and with perfect south exposures that draws in the warmth of the sun, even though this is one of the most northerly area of German wine production. At first the 2018 Estate Pinot, or as the locals call it Spatburgunder, gives the impression of soft and creamy simplicity, but as it gets air its true nature comes through and it gains complexity with every sip with red raspberry, strawberry, plum and a core of black cherry fruit along with a hint of flinty/smoke, a touch of sweet florals, tea spices, subtle earthiness and very faint wood notes. There is an elegant sense of transparent purity and energy in this vintage, which is highly compelling, very composed and admirable.

The winery notes, that the name “Ahr“ goes back to the Celtic word “aha”, meaning water. The river has always been cherished here, even in ancient times, it has carved out a deep, steep-sided valley of craggy rocks and chasms on its way through the Ahr Hills and the vines cling bravely to these hyper steep sites. This, according to the Näkels, not only created a wildly romantic, picturesque view, but also the basis for the cultivation of red wine in what is Germany’s “high north” and made for these very special climatic conditions that were enough to convince the Romans to settle here, encouraged by the wine of course, all that time ago. The Ahr Valley, despite being the third-smallest wine-producing region in Germany, has, as the winery adds, the largest continuous stretch of red wine vine cultivation in Germany, with the majority top sites located in Dernau. Meyer-Näkel has a stellar set of sites, including the mentioned top Crus, which are Pfarrwingert, Kräuterberg and Sonnenberg, these are vineyards that rival the elite of the Cote d’Or and produce, in most vintages make for some of the most highly sought after wines in Europe! While this Pinot Noir “Estate” Ahr is more of an entry level offering, it delivers more than enough to be considered a top value and a great gateway wine to gain insight on just how good these German Pinots can be. I first tired the Meyer-Näkel from the 2006 vintage and have been a fan ever since, even bringing some back from Germany in 2009, so it was great to see that Dörte & Meike have continued to put out such delicious wines, like this one, as well as another favorite of mine, their Rosé of Pinot Noir and I can only hope to get a few of the rare GG’s, which are almost impossible to get here in California. Both sisters, Dörte & Meike went to the famous Geisenheim University on the Rhein earning the esteemed degrees in wine cultivation and were well trained to take over the Mayer-Näkel winery, where their mom and dad still lend a hand, but have allowed for their girls to explore their own ideas, which has certainly proved fruitful and the future here is in good hands.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 27, 2020

2018 Domaine M. et C. Lapierre, Morgon Roche du Py, Cuvee Camille, Cru Beaujolais, France.
The ripe and dark fruited 2018 Morgon Roche du Py “Cuvée Camille”, named for the late great Marcel Lapierre’s daughter, who along with Mathieu are continuing their father’s tradition and taking this estate to even new heights, with this special bottling being one of the most expressive and dense in the lineup with lush Gamay purity and exceptionally made. This Morgon comes from ultra late picks from 50 to 75 year old vines set on the classic granitic gravelly and mineral rich soils which shows in the layers of rich red raspberry, strawberry preserves, pomegranate and plum fruits, delicate spices, floral intensity as well as earthy, walnut and flinty accents. There is an overt fullness of flavors in this vintage of the M. & C.Lapierre Morgon “Cuvée Camille” that stems from the late pick, it is gorgeously textural and fills the palate impressively, this is nothing short of spectacular in the glass. The color, with its dark garnet hue, violet toned perfume, depth and length all stand out and are alluring, these qualities are sure bring a huge smile to your face, as they did to mine. Even in a subdued Thanksgiving holiday with the weight of the pandemic and a sense of the historic suffering, making it hard to celebrate, this wine brought some relief and my mum and I toasted our grateful feelings of being able to spend the day together with our health and security, even though most of our family and friends were staying in place to help us and our fellow Americans. I don’t have any hard and fast rules for pairings during the holiday season, but Cru Beaujolais usually plays a part and I can’t think of many that I’d rather have than Lapierre, especially their Cuvée Marcel or this Cuvée Camille, which are always wonderful treats. Looking forward, Mathieu and Camille, while upholding the great work that their father pioneered, have now introduced biodynamic vineyard practices and these recent vintages show their commitment and passion to producing even better wines.

I am always thankful for being introduced to these great wines, with importer Kermit Lynch and his team being the main reason I got into the likes of Jean Foillard, Guy Breton, the Thevenet’s, Nicole Chanrion, Thiven, Chignard and Lapierre, all of which offered the true gloriousness of Gamay, a grape that long got unfairly maligned by the wine world. The Lapierre wines are notably riper and even flamboyant in style, they push the envelop, and this 2018 Cuvée Camille is no exception with 14.5% natural alcohol and whole bunch pop it really grabs your attention with the same hedonistic presence that you’d get from a Chateauneuf-du-Pape! Kermit says, that the methods at Lapierre are just as revolutionary as they are traditional, adding that, the detail and precision with which they work is striking and entirely different from, what we sometimes expect from the majority of mainstream Beaujolais, they work in a very natural style with Marcel Lapierre having been a leader in the move to organics in his region and bringing the natural wine movement to new heights of quality. Lynch, who originally was skeptical of “natural wine” and non sulfur, was only convinced that they had a place alongside the great wines of the world, and in his portfolio, by Marcel Lapierre and now is a champion of this style, but only those that work with such attention to detail and quality, striving for elegance and terroir clarity, which these Lapierre deliver in spades. In the cellar, Mathieu employs 100% whole cluster and native yeast fermentation, or methode à l’ancienne, all of which is done at low temperatures with primary ferments lasting for between ten to twenty days, before racking the wine to well seasoned oak foudres and fûts (large casks) for aging. The Lapierre family ages their wines on fine lees for at least nine months with very little use of sulfur, and in some cases totally without its addition. This vintage is ravishing and fun, I knew I should have bought more, but I hear the 2019s which are coming soon are just as thrilling!
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 26, 2020

2018 Cruse Wine Co., Tannat, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino County.
While Michael Cruse is most known for his fabulous sparkling wines, including his cult Ultramarine methode Champenoise and his seriously delicious and quaffable Pet-Nats, but his still wines are well worth exploring, especially his Alder Springs Tannat, which is a unique rarity that shows a deep violet/purple color and a cast of fruits, spice and a dense textural mouth feel. Tannat, a grape that has been gaining traction in California in recent years, comes from mainly the French Pyrenees Mountains and the Basque region of Irouliguy as well as the notable South-West French Madiran region, where it is mainstay red grape, known for its fiery tannins and rustic/earthy character. The Cruse Tannat shows a brilliant brightness of fruit along with ripe and round structural tannins, it gains a sweetness of flavors, but also has a contrasting savory elements that come through on the medium full palate. The wine, as Cruse notes, has not been filtered or fined and has no additions or any manipulations in the cellar with the exception of a small dose of sulfur that is stabilizing force to allow aging and longterm enjoyment. Cruse additionally says of his naturally made Tannat, that this wine displays an unconventional mixture of cedar and tobacco with violets and cherries on the nose, which I certainly found true and intriguing. The Cruse 2018 Alder Springs Tannat is superb now, but should cellar well too and is best enjoyed with hearty foods, it is an excellent example of the grape. Cruse’s red wines are nice values and deserve wider attention with this one leading the way, but I will also suggest trying his Valdiguie, Syrah and the Monkey Jacket, North Coast red blend that is about 51% Valdiguié, with the remainder being Carignan, Syrah and maybe a touch of other black grapes, depending on the year’s bounty.

The Cruse Wine Co. is a small winery in Petaluma, in Sonoma County, with a mission to create a collection of uniquely Californian wines, and yes, some that contain bubbles, and after many years of following Michael Cruse’s efforts, I am even more impressed with his latest set of wines, in particular I love his Sparkling Valdiguie Pet-Nat, his awesome Tradition Brut and this tasty Tannat. California first saw Tannat come to this shores in the late 1800s, but it was most often used in field blends and wasn’t made into solo varietal wines until the last 10 to 15 years and the grape has had a few champions, most famously by Joseph Swan, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and Tablas Creek, who brought over some of the best cuttings, with new plantings mainly being in Paso Robles, though it can be found in South Monterey County and in Mendocino County, where Cruse, as noted, gets his grapes. Tannat, it should be mentioned, is also grown in South America, with Uruguay being the most successful region and a place where it really thrives, though it can also be found in the Applegate region of Oregon, Argentina, Australia and even in the Italian region of Apulia! Cruse’s 2018 vintage, a long cool year for the grapes, perfectly captures the best qualities in Tannat with his version displaying exceptional aromatics, crisp details and good low natural alcohol, at 13%, making for a wine that performs with a purity of form and is great with robust cuisine, especially dishes like a rack lamb, short ribs and woodsy wild mushrooms. Cruse did 16 barrels of Tannat in this vintage, less than 500 cases, so while most of Michael’s wines sell out quickly, this Tannat is more readily available, so you have time to grab a few bottles, which I recommend you do.
($39 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 25, 2020

2019 Hundred Suns Winery, Chardonnay, Old Eight Cut, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The beautifully crisp and energetic Old Eight Cut Chardonnay by Hundred Suns Winery is an outstanding, Chablis like wine that is bursting with mineral and steely grace as well as a bright layering of lemon, apple, pear and tangy stone fruit with hints of wet stone, clove, bitter almond paste and a touch of leesy toast. This snappy Chard was a brilliant companion to a lobster roll and will be great with traditional Bay Area holiday cracked crab and or a roast turkey feast. Made by ex Beaux Freres winemaker Grant Coulter and his wife Renée Saint-Amour, this Chardonnay joins their awesome lineup of Willamette Valley Pinots along with some exotic bottlings of Gamay, Grenache and most recently a rare Willamette Valley Vidon Vineyard Syrah, with some tase tasting efforts seeing whole cluster, carbonic fermentations and the use of terra-cotta amphora. Grant, who is from the Monterey Bay area, something I learned after meeting him briefly when I visited Beaux Freres at harvest time back in 2008, is one of my favorite Oregon winemakers and I have been thrilled with these Hundred Suns wines, once I found out about them. Coulter is also the head winemaker and vineyard manager at Flaneur Vineyards, where he makes some fabulous wines as well, including as expected some riveting Willamette Pinots, a few of which I’ve really enjoyed, along with Chardonnay and a sparkling wine, that I hope to sample in the near future.

This bottling of Coulter and Saint-Amour’s Old Eight Cut Chardonnay is their first white wine under their label, which then founded in 2015 and Hundred Suns Wine’s first vintage of Chardonnay. The new Old Eight Cut Chardonnay grapes were sourced, as the winery notes, from two organically farmed vineyards in the Eola-Hills. Firstly, the Bracken Vineyard, which sits between 630-730 feet on a combination of volcanic soils (Nekia, Ritner, Witzel and Jory) of varying depths that shows in the unique mineral focus in the wine along with the Koosah Vineyard, a stunning high-elevation site perched at 1,000 feet. Coulter adds that both lots were whole cluster pressed into 500 liter neutral puncheons, well seasoned French oak, and saw a natural slow indigenous fermentation, then the Chardonnay was allowed to mature with 11 months of sur lee aging, that Grant explains helped produced a wine with bright acid, stone fruit, and floral aromatics, which do indeed play roles on the medium bodied and lively palate. This exceptionally well made hand crafted wine is a killer value, joining the Pinot version in the Old Eight Cut line, and I highly recommend scoring it while you can, as these are very limited items, also I suggest exploring the upper end of the range of single vineyard Pinots, which are absolutely stunning along with the mentioned Gamay, one of my favorites, and the brand new Super Moon Syrah, both of which I just got and will review soon. In the last few years the quality of Oregon whites has really jumped up, where we only saw Pinot Gris a while ago, especially the Chards, like this one show huge potential, but be sure to explore Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc and Riesling. Get on the Hundred Suns mailing list and taste the exciting future of Oregon wines!
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 24, 2020

nv Andre Clouet, Brut Nature, Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru Champagne “Silver” A Bouzy, France.
The beautiful “Silver” Andre Clouet 100% Pinot Noir non-vintage Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs is one of the best values in Champagne and this recent disgorgement is stunning and luxurious bubbly to enjoy almost guilt free. The Silver is a no dosage Brut Nature, meaning it is exceptional dry and vibrant in style, in a more grower producer style, but still with regal richness and complexity with plenty of leesy brioche notes and a dense mouth feel showing lemon curd, quince, apple, wet stones, clove spice and hazelnut. With base of 2013 and a blend of reserve wines, this 100% Pinot Noir comes from all estate grown fruit from the mid slopes in the A Bouzy area, famous for Pinot Noir, on chalky limestone and clay soils that highlight the Silver’s mineral notes and ripe flavors. The Andre Clouet Champagnes are some of my favorite go to bubbly for any occasion, especially their zero dosage Brut offerings that have an additional zesty quality, like this one. The flexible personality, mature profile and charm here makes this Champagne an easy winner for sparkling wine enthusiasts and is also a crowd pleasing bottle for anyone and everyone, from novice to expert and has the substance and crisp detail to go with an array of dishes and flavors.

Clouet says that their “Silver” label is a Pinot Noir free of embellishments with a high toned palate, which is absolutely what you get here, and even though the 2013 was not a great vintage, this sparkling wine delivers a knock out performance in the glass, helped by the rigorous farming and selections of hand sorted grapes in the cellar. Clouet uses traditional methods from start to finish with this Brut Nature Champagne seeing fermentation and aging in neutral French oak barrels, with the wine going through full malolactic conversion which definitely gives this wine added richness and depth. The Andre Clouet Champagne house is run by Jean-François Clouet, who was born and raised in Bouzy and still lives in the 18th century village house built by his ancestors and strives to continue the regions tradition, but still is driven to elevate the quality levels here. Clouet farms some incredible Grand Cru plots around his home village of Bouzy as well as in the famous and very coveted middle slopes of Ambonnay with many vines in the best lieux-dits in the Champagne region. While great for celebrating events and special occasions, this Andre Clouet Silver Blanc de Noirs Brut Nature, with its beautiful and vivid mouse, goes sublimely well with food and makes for a noble companion with any meal. I am always impressed by Clouet’s lineup of Champagne(s), but especially so, when it comes to this stylish zero dosage Blanc de Noirs, which I highly recommend!
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 23, 2020

2019 COS, Frappato, Terre Siciliane IGP, Vittoria, Sicily, Italy.
Giambattista Cilia and Giusto Occhipinti’s COS winery is celebrating its 40th harvest with this lovely vintage of their iconic bottling of Frappato, and this 2019 is everything you’d expect and admire about this wine and grape with bright strawberry, lingonberry and earthy red berry fruits, delicate spices, sweet herbs and chalky notes in a medium bodied red wine that caresses the palate with satiny tannins. The COS winery was founded in 1980 by three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano on the site of a historic, but long forgotten wine estate, and is named after these three friends, COS is the initials of their last names. COS was and is a pioneering estate that helped start the organic and natural wine movement in this part of Sicily and takes great care with holistic methods, including some biodynamic practices in the vineyards and innovations in their cellars with the use of special amphora vessels and using only natural/native yeast fermentations with some wines seeing long skin contact macerations. The soils here in the Vittoria region, unlike Etna’s volcanic influence, are red clay and limestone based, giving incredible vibrancy to the wines and even in ripe years they remain fresh and low in alcohol, with this beautiful ruby red COS Frappato being just 11.5% ABV and the acidity delivers wonderful balance and a citrusy bounce. Frappato’s charms are many, both solo and part of a blend, but it is its ability on its own to offer loads of fruit while still being structured, slightly rustic and having a subtle floral perfume making it highly compelling and excellent with a wide range of cuisines. Giusto Occhipinti of COS, and his talented niece Arianna Occhipinti, with her own label, are benchmark producers of Frappato, as well as the DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which is Frappato blend with the classic Nero d’Avola, and these are wines to search out. There is a lot to unpack at COS, their collection offers many jewels, including this Frappato, but their Amphora wines are outstanding wines with the Pithos line being really excelling stuff, with the whites standing out here, especially the Zibbibo version which is extremely exotic and perfumed.

The COS team and in particular Occhipinti, extensively researched many aging vessels, with trips to remote parts of Europe, including the Republic of Georgia, where he studied their famous Qveri and eventually decided on a combination of 440-liter clay (terra-cotta) amphorae sourced from Spain along with a collection of large neutral botti (oak cask) as well as concrete tanks (used mainly for this Frappato bottling). The clay, as Giusto explains, is porous like oak but has the advantage that it imparts less flavor to the wine than does even large, old casks and helps with textural quality. He says, all of the aging of his wines is done in one of these three vessels, with stainless steel tanks only being used these days for assembling the wines, clarification and settling before being bottled. The 2019 COS Frappato was produced from all hand tended certified organic estate vineyards in the Vittoria region set on sandy parcels with iron rich red dirt over the limestone and hardened clay at about 300 meters above sea level which allows a nice cooling influence from the moist breezes coming from the sea, all of which add to the zesty personality and complexity in the wines. As mentioned, the winery allowed a spontaneous indigenous yeast fermentation and a lengthy maceration for this Frappato, all done in concrete vats with the wine seeing a elevage of about nine months exclusively in the cement tanks, and as the winery notes, this was followed by three months of rest in the bottle before leaving the cellar. I am grateful for the efforts here at COS, these wines have given me so much pleasure and I was thrilled to meet and taste with Giusto a few years back in San Francisco, where he gave amazing insight on to his passion and evolution as a winemaker as well as his discovery of an ancient bottle on the property that led him to bottle the COS wines in their distinctive squat glass that dates back to 1880 and become their trademark look and widely copied around the world. If you’ve not explored this region or grape, it is way past to try Frappato and especially this COS version. Frappato has gained many fans over the last decade and in some exciting news, there is now some planted in California, inspired by COS and others, I can’t wait to see how this grape does here.
($28 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 22, 2020

nv Nanclares y Prieto Viticultures, A Senda Vermella, Vino Tinto, Galicia, Spain.
This unique non-vintage, ultra low alcohol crisp red, A Senda Vermella, is from grapes sourced vines in the Val do Salnes area run this cool Atlantic influenced region, more known for Albariño and is a blend of 60% Caiño Tinto and 40% MencÌa from different organic parcels in the Rias Baixas. Interestingly, this wine was blended from both the 2017 and 2018 vintages and therefor is sort a Spanish version of a Vin de France, that cannot be labeled with a D.O. and has just Vino Tinto by Nanclares y Prieto on the label. This purple/garnet hued A Senda Vermella is brightly fresh, bone dry and tangy, it comes in at under 11% natural alcohol and shows crunchy layers of briar laced black raspberry, plum, cranberry and sour cherry fruits along with zippy acidity, saline, wild herbs, earth, citrus rind and hints of herbal tea, all of which make for a lighter red wine that is great with mussels in tomato broth, grilled octopus and or selection of hard cheeses. I enjoyed it contently with a Monterey style Paella with a wide array of goodies in it, the racy nature of the A Senda Vermella perfectly matched up with the flavorful bounty on the plate, making for a joyous experience on the light to medium bodied, low tannin, palate. I am a huge fan of this winery, they produce an awesome collection of Albariño bottlings, including their classic (or estate) Alberto Nanclares and the vividly clear Dandelion cuvee, which are among my favorites, as well as a small series of lovely red wines, Mencia based mostly, with some grapes coming from the Ribeira Sacra as well. Over the years, since I first sampled the Nanclares wines, I’ve tried to get every vintage I could, these wines are soulful and easy to love, with Nanclares y Prieto Albariño(s) being some of my absolute favorite white wines with stunning mineral tones and Chablis like energy.

The A Senda Vermella (’17/’18) was hand crafted by Alberto Nanclares and Silvia Prieto using traditional methods and low sulfur with 100% whole cluster fermentation with foot-trodden grapes and a longish maceration that lasted close to 20 days. Then the dry wine was pressed and racked mainly used barrels, though about 20% of the vintage was rested in stainless steel tanks. The notes that the 2017 part was in oak and stainless for 22 months, and the 2018 part was aged exclusively in tank for 10 months, before being blend together. This non vintage red gets more depth and complex with air with more dark fruit coming forward as well as its savory kick with a little bite of bitterness in what is otherwise a smooth, simple pleasing and transparently quaffable wine. Silvia Prieto’s presence at Nanclares led to the lineup of red wine offerings being made at this winery and they are a wonderful addition to their portfolio. The Nanclares y Prieto Miñato da Raña, their vintage red, from the Ribeira Sacra sourced grapes is a much more serious offering and one I highly recommend, that said, I’ll most likely get a few more bottles of this fun stuff and of course add many bottles of their fantastic Albariños. Alberto Nanclares, the ex-economist, who took over full time winemaking duties for his Nanclares label in 2007, after employing a winemaking consultant for many years and the wines have been getting better and better, especially after the gifted Prieto joined him full-time just over five years ago. Alberto and Silvia farm a small bunch of parcels, which all trained in the traditional Pergola style with about 12 plots spread around the Rias Baixas with vines, as the winery notes, in the parroquias of Castrelo (South Cambados), Vilariño (North Cambados) and Padrenda (North Meaño) all of them get organic and holistic TLC including a sea weed compost to keep them health and small yields to maximize their character and quality. Come for the Albariño, stay for the reds here, it has never been a better time to discover these wines!
($35 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 21, 2020

2018 Jean-Louis Dutraive – Domaine de la Grand’Cour, Fleurie “Clos de la Grand’Cour” Cru Beaujolais, France.
This remarkable wine is one of the best and most iconic in the world, yes, Gamay can produce a wine of majestic beauty and depth, which this 2018 Clos de la Grand’Cour, by the legendary Jean-Louis Dutraive, proves with a flourish, silken layers and a heavenly perfume. This estate in Fleurie hand crafts gorgeous artisan wines that absolutely seduce the senses with natural purity and terroir driven character that highlights the unique pink granite soils and warm exposures, they never fail to impress with racy dark fruits, a mix of crushed violets and seeped rose petal, walnut husk and whole bunches crunchiness with this 2018 delivering layers of strawberry, tangy currant, plum and macerated raspberry fruits along with a pop of spice and stemmy savory/earthiness. The textural feel is exceptional in the Clos de la Grand’Cour with rich fruit density, but dreamy almost weightless and delightfully lingering on the finish with everything lifted by natural acidity as well as this Fleurie’s mineral tones. Raj Parr, the famous sommelier, loves to tell the story that in the last century, a barrel of top Fleurie used to get more money than a Chambertin Grand Cru! And this Dutraive goes a long way to explaining that, it is such a great bottle, it is right up with my longtime favorites from Lapierre, Thevenet and Jean Foillard. There is so much excitement in Beaujolais right now, with a new generation pushing the quality level to new heights with the younger Dutraive and Foillard kids being a part of this movement, be sure to check out the recent vintages from Anne-Sophie Dubois, Julien Sunier, Mathieu and Camille Lapierre, Alex Foillard, Charly Thenevet and Jean-Louis’ son Justin Dutraive, naming just a few, to see the region’s bright future.

The Domaine de la Grand’Cour was originally established in back in 1969, in a Summer of love, and the Domaine de la Grand’Cour best holdings are in Fleurie, with what can be considered Grand Cru sites, these consist of three special lieux-dits, the Clos de la Grand’Cour, a Monopole walled vineyard, where this wine came from, Chapelle des Bois and their Champagne parcel, all of which are holistically farmed following methods inspired by the father of Beaujolais’ natural winemaking revolution, Jules Chauvet. Jean-Louis Dutraive, the fifth generation to run this old estate, has used organic grapes since the 1980s and does most all of his Cru bottlings with 100% whole cluster, which gives these, especially the Fleurie Clos de la Grand’Cour, efforts their glorious complexity and a wildly exotic personality. The Dutraive wines ferment naturally with indigenous yeasts, the noted whole cluster, carbonic and see long macerations on the skins, somewhere close to a month, according to the winery, depending on what the vintage gives. The wines are very gently handled from start to finish and moved only by gravity flow in the cellar, with the Crus being aged for 9 months to more than a year, depending on the individual cuvée. There is a combination of vessels for elevage, mostly though see time in used Burgundy barrels, though this Fleurie Clos de la Grand’Cour, the Fleurie Chapelle des Bois and Dutraive’s Brouilly are sometimes aged partially in stainless, old foudres, larger casks or even cement tanks depending on the vintage. Jean-Louis’ motto in the cellar is what he calls “minimal intervention and maximum surveillance.” This 2018 Clos de la Gand’Cour opens up wonderfully gaining poise and regal quality, adding morello cherry and wild herbs to the medium bodied palate and a much deeper bouquet, in fact this Fleurie got even better on day two, I wish dearly I had more bottles of this rare stuff!
($35 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive