Monthly Archives: November 2020

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 20, 2020

1997 Ridge Vineyards, Zinfandel, Nervo Vineyard, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.
I usually review new or current release wines, but this was too good an opportunity to miss, a perfectly cellared bottle to celebrate Zinfandel Day, and wow, did this 1997 Ridge Nervo Zinfandel exceed all expectations with beautiful mature fruit and texture, it in fact reminded me of an aged Rioja Reserva, but with classic Zin, raspberry fruits, cedary spices and dried flowers. The color was exceptionally youthful still, a pleasant surprise, with a deep purple/garnet hue with just a glinting hint of burgundy/orange around the edges and the nose was lightly loamy, with macerated red fruits and woody elements and led to a palate of red berries, plum and the raspberry fruits with a sense of preserves, more than freshly crushed, which is accented by a hint of anise, a slight balsamic note, baking spices, tobacco and a sweet kiss of American oak with a hint of the vanilla and toasted coconut. This wine, enjoyed over the course of an evening, really held up throughout and was graceful and decedent on its own and did wonderfully well with a pasta dinner, very impressive and with a remarkable clarity and welcome vibrancy. This Ridge Nervo Vineyard Zinfandel came from 116 year old vines, at the time of its harvest in 1997, which were located not far from the 101 Highway, between Geyserville and Healdsburg that was originally planted prior to the Nervo family’s purchase of their property back in 1896. When Ridge bought these grapes in ’97, they were from the old eight acre parcel that was about 91% Zinfandel and 9% Petite Sirah, with Paul Draper noting that usual inclusion of Carignan was not included in the final blend in this heavy crop vintage, as it was too light to add anything of merit to this Nervo bottling. I am always blown away with the older Ridge wines, and in fact, many older Zins age well and while they lose that overt fruitiness after about 15 or so years in bottle, sometimes you can even be fooled into thinking they are Bordeaux(s), with a silky mouth feel and a sense of earthy complexity, making for a compelling experience in maturity. The 1997 growing season was a great one in California, producing some of the greatest wines of the decade, and there was a bountiful crop of ripe grapes at harvest time, so much so that winemakers almost didn’t have enough space for all the grapes, many chose to do an intense sorting and selection to make their wines, which led to some legendary efforts.

Ridge, ever the open book, says the 1997 Nervo Zin was fermented using all natural spontaneous yeast and aged in mostly five times used air dried American oak barrels with just 20% new wood being used here with an elevage of about a year. This wine was part of Ridge’s Advance Tasting Program, a series they do that go to their wine clubs almost exclusively, so it was a rare treat to get ahold of this one, which I am grateful for and have to thank my friend and wine professional Alex Lallos who found this gem in a private and well kept cellar, with this bottle being in one place since its release in the early part of 1999. I also scored a 1995 Ridge Oat Valley Carignan, which I will open sooner versus later and I hope it has held up even half as good as this Nervo. Overall the ’97 Nervo has a brilliant structural build with some dusty, drying tannins, as you’d expect in a dense wine such as this, but like all Ridge wines it is very polished and supple. I have been blessed with the chance over the years to sample some very old Ridge bottles and while usually people talk about the Monte Bello, their iconic Cabernet Sauvignon based blend from their Santa Cruz Mountains estate, I also must say the Zin blends, like Lytton Springs, Geyserville and Pagani Ranch, all age well to, with this 1997 Nervo proving this quite loudly and with style. I have also in the past have had 25 year old plus Zins from Joel Paterson of Ravenswood fame, with his early nineties stuff, like Old Hill and Dickerson, which were also fabulous and I had an old Elyse Morisoli Zin, from 1991 that was so good even tasted blind a French friend serious thought it was an outer Medoc wine, he guess it was an eighties Beychevelle! Plus, I can say that Turley and Lamborn’s Howell Mountain Zins are very age-worthy. Zinfandel, also now known by its Croatian (or original) name Tribidrag is having another renaissance and there are some fantastic versions out there, with Ridge, Turley, Biale, Carlisle, Bedrock, Lagier-Merideth and Martinelli being just some of the modern classics, plus in the last couple of years you are seeing more small producers hand crafting lighter and more natural styles as well, including great examples by Broc Cellars, Sandlands, Monte Rio Cellars and Martha Stoumen, giving this grape an exciting new range. It’s a great time to discover Zinfandel all over again, and don’t miss a chance to try an older bottle, especially these Ridge offerings!
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 19, 2020

2017 Guimaro, Mencia, Camino Real, Ribeira Sacra D.O. Galicia, Spain.
One of my favorite producers and wines, Guimaro, made by Pedro Rodriguez, makes red and white wines in the Ribeira Sacra region of Spain’s Galicia provence, based in the Amandi zone, one of the Ribeira Sacra’s best subzones with a south facing exposure set on slate soils, known as Losa, to natives here. These steep vineyard sites are back-breaking hard to work, with everything done by hand, they look more like frightening slopes in Mosel than what you’d expect in Spain, looking down upon the Sil river. This 100% whole cluster 2017 is full flavored with flinty earthy tones showing briar accented raspberry, huckleberry, plum, cherry and cranberry fruits, a touch of smoke, leather, mineral iron and anise, along with a delicately sweet floral essence that balances out the savory elements and dusty dry tannins. Mencia has qualities that remind you of the northern Rhone, but is brighter like Pinot or Gamay with a similar lively personality. The 2017 vintage is ripe, but full of natural acidity and takes a few swirls in the glass to reveal its true depth and textural quality, it is a wine that certainly benefits from simple country cuisine and robust dishes. Pedro’s wines are real, honest and terroir driven with the reds being made mostly from Mencia and the white crafted from Godello, ancient native grapes that require extra care and TLC to make world class wines, which he does at this small winery set in this remote place that was once highly prized by the Romans, who named it the Sacred Banks (Ribeira Sacra) and planted vines on the historic terraces. I have tasted with Pedro a few times, when he has traveled to California, I helped do a tasting with him and even though his English is limited, enjoyed his company and sense of humor almost as much as his wines. I hope to one day get myself over to this part of Spain and see him again, it is without question on my bucket list, his wines really speak to me and I can’t imagine not having a few bottles around for nights I need a smile.

The Rodriguez’s have been farming here for generations and before 1991, Pedro’s family made wine mainly for their own consumption and sold small amounts in garrafones, which are 20 liter glass containers, to friends and to a couple of local cantinas, bars that offer the day’s family meals and maybe a room for a lost wanderer, as very few visit this area, as it is way off the beaten path. I mention all this because the wines from Guimaro, which means “rebel” in Gallego (the local dialect), reflect this, they are wines of rustic charm and character from a region that humbly respects and honors the power of nature, they are wines of place, especially the series of single parcel wines like this Camino Real bottling, from all organic 40-60 year old vines set on the slate with a mix of sand, quartz and granite with a field blend of about 85% Mencía plus tiny amounts of Merenzao, Mouratón, Brancellao, Caiño, Sousón and Alicante Bouschet. In the cellar, Pedro, who was mentored by the legendary Raul Perez, keeps things simple, natural and non intervention in style, employing native or indigenous yeast, spontaneous fermentations in open-top wood vats and long macerations, with this Camino Real seeing a 40 maceration and primary fermentation on the skins, after which the wine was raised in a combination of used oak from large foudre to small used barrique and bottled with ultra low sulfur, unfined and unfiltered. Not always polished, these wines are authentic and compelling in their purity, they are without pretense and better for it. With air, this dark ruby/garnet wine gains more layers and a darker sense of fruit and herbs with the feeling of whole bunches and stems coming through all of which excites the medium bodied palate, this is a wine that couldn’t be made anywhere else and I love that unique joy it brings, I highly recommend finding these Guimaro wines. I suggest starting with Guimaro’s entry level bottling, great for everyday drinking and these single vineyard efforts for more serious meals and don’t overlook the Blanco (Godello) it is crisply Chablis like and awesome with sea foods.
($30 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 18, 2020

2016 Grochau Cellars, Pinot Noir, Zenith Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The beautifully aromatic and textural 2016 Zenith Vineyard Pinot from John Grochau at Grochau Cellars is an absolute joy to behold in the glass with ripe layers of silken red fruits, a deep floral array and graceful opulence that perfectly capture the vintage and place, making for a heavenly Pinot experience. I am hugely impressed with the Oregon 2016 wines, they are ultra satisfying now they have had another year in bottle to develop and lose some baby fat, they remind me of some of the state’s classic years, with 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2008 coming to mind, and this Grochau Zenith is finding its groove and delivering a stunning performance, even better yet, it should keep getter better and it is still available from the winery at a very reasonable price. There is a lot to admire here, from its dreamy bouquet to its exceptional length, this Grochau Pinot fills out on the palate with blackberry, red currant, strawberry fruits that revolve around a core of black cherry that is also accented by distilled rose petals, a light earthiness, orange tea and whiff of baking spices with very subtle wood notes. The mouth feel really gets your attention and its lush creaminess thrills the senses, but there is also a very exciting undercurrent of energy and natural acidity, which is non aggressive and gives a sensation of weightlessness in effect, while still providing a structured component to this very well crafted wine. Zenith is a Cru site, owned by Tim and Keri Ramey, with many small climates within its boundaries and a diverse set of soils, including marine sedimentary deposits, mineral rich veins and some volcanic influences that add to the depth of complexity in the wines that come from this highly regarded vineyard, with a stellar resume of success by wineries like Ken Wright, Beaux Freres and St. Innocent over the years, to name just a few.

Grochau Cellars was founded in 2002, after John Grochau had worked at the legendary Erath Winery and notably Brick House Vineyards, where working alongside winemaker Doug Tunnel he gained experience and insight that has guided him in his own path in winemaking style. Grochau, who fell in love with wine while riding bikes professionally in France, especially while cycling through the picturesque Loire Valley and when he retired and came home to Oregon he quickly immersed himself in the wine and food culture, it was at this point he knew it was his calling and after almost a decade in the restaurant business he jumped head first into winemaking, where his talents have been realized. Grochau, notes, he was inspired by the diversity of the Willamette Valley’s soils and microclimates, which he promotes by crafting terroir driven wines, like this Eola-Amity Hills Zenith Vineyard shows effectively, expressively and with glorious detail, sourcing from only organic and sustainably-farmed vineyards. Grochau’s wines are all hand-crafted small lot wines that, which he adds, are slowly and naturally fermented using native yeasts and aged mostly used French oak barrels, with this Zenith single vineyard Pinot being a cuvee a selection of, what John calls, the most special barrels produced from this fantastic vineyard. Grochau made this wine from Pommard clone, coming from Zenith’s block 6G, (planted in 2003) which Grochau explains, is wind protected and has a warmer exposure, giving deeper fruit concentration and powerful fruit than many of the other blocks. I met and tasted with John in the past and really thought his wines were special, so it was great to see his new releases are even more compelling and I look forward into digging into his collection of Pinots, plus his Gamay and Melon. This 2016 is sexy stuff to enjoy now, in particular with hearty foods and or to cellar for another 5 to 7 years, it is a wine that intrigues with every sip, I suggest picking up a couple (or more) bottles to savor over the coming few years.
($38 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 17, 2020

2018 Jaimee Motely, Claret “Borronda Block” Massa Estate Vineyard, Carmel Valley AVA, Monterey County.
Jaimee Motely’s newest release is a fun and unique interpretation of an old school Claret, a Bordeaux varietal and co-ferment blend of all organic 45% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was, I would think, at least partial whole cluster, semi-carbonic and naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts that makes for an expressive, fruity, spicy and wildly exciting red wine. Now, it won’t appeal to the purest amongst us, but Motely’s Massa Claret with its art deco, throw back label is wonderfully enjoyable as a fresh and quaffable wine from this historic 50 year old Carmel Valley vineyard site, a place close to my heart as a Carmel Valley native. The 2018 Massa Claret starts with shaved cinnamon, leafy notes and juicy red berry fruits in a medium dark garnet wine that bursts from the glass with smooth layers of tangy currant, plum, pomegranate and crushed vine picked wild berries, along with a hint of bell pepper, from the percentage of Cab Franc and a whispering of cedar, olive, anise and minty/sage notes. This lively red blend gains a textural mouth feel, fine grained dusty tannins and lingers with crushed flowers, a touch of earth and kirsch, I’m glad I got more than one bottle, because I really want to see how this (low natural alcohol, 12.8%) Massa Claret develops in the bottle, even though it is bright and delicious now, it might prove to be even more complex in 3 to 5 years. Motely says, rather than a Bordeaux style wine, she more inspired by the co-fermented field blends that she has tasted from the Loire Valley, and I think it has an Anjou kind of thing going on and can see where she was going here. Motely, who has enjoy a fast rise in the wine world, gained her experience by working in both the northern and southern hemispheres in the cellar and in the vineyards as well, she also spent time traveling to Europe to walk the classic vineyards and spoke with vignerons who have a coveted history in the field of viticulture and that inspired her passions for wine and its culture.

Jaimee, who has been an assistant winemaker at legendary Syrah producer Pax Wines, is most known for her work with Mondeuse, a rare Savoie grape and her work at Pax Mahle’s facility in Sebastopol, California. Motely, who was introduced to this rustic old Carmel Valley site by winemaker Ian Brand, was clearly moved by what see saw here, noting that from the moment she first laid eyes on the place, Massa Vineyard, she felt an electric energy (from the vines) coursing through her veins. The Massa Estate sits at about 1400 feet above see level in the mountainous Cachagua area in the deep end of Carmel Valley. The Durney family originally planted 80 acres here in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, where they made long aging and powerful wines before selling the property to the Heller family in early 1990s. The Heller’s certified the vineyard organic, and focused on that niche for many years with Cabernet and old vine Chenin Blanc being their mainstay wines. After the Heller’s past away the Massa Family bought up the estate and continued that tradition, even trying out biodynamics to rejuvenate the vines from some neglect when they took over in 2018. The soils here consist, as Motely notes, are made up of granite, sandstone, and calcareous ancient marine deposits. This dry-farmed vineyard is mostly on their own roots, especially the early Borronda Block Cabernet plantings. This new Massa Claret was aged on the lees in neutral French oak barrels for close to a year then rested for a short time in bottle. Jaimee Motely was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland and has a lifetime of restaurant experience and has worked with Raj Parr, the famous sommelier, at RN74 and fell in love with the new California wine scene, getting her feet wet making wine in 2015. She has quickly gained a reputation for her talents, with her limited lineup of wines quickly selling out, I highly recommend getting on her mailing list and getting some of this stuff!
($45 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 16, 2020

2013 Nervi, Gattinara DOCG, Vigna Valferana, Alta Langhe, Piedmonte, Italy.
The rusticly classic flavored and garnet/orange/brickish hued Nervi Vigna Valferana Gattinara is pure savory Nebbiolo goodness in the glass that engages the medium bodied palate the same way a perfectly matured Burgundy does with a sense of old world charm and silken layers of red fruits, dried flowers, mineral notes and earthy elements. This Nebbiolo from Gattinara’s oldest winery, founded in 1906 by Luigi Nervi and recently bought and run by Robert Conterno who is part of the famous Barolo family, comes from vines in the Vercelli hills on the west bank of the Sesia River and Novara hills, rivals many top names in the well known Barolo. Gattinara is a high quality DOCG zone in the northern reaches of Piedmonte, with a long history of wine growing and has become hotspot in recent with outstanding wines and vintages in this region, which needs to be about 90% Nebbiolo (or Spanna, as the locals call it) along with tiny amounts of Barbera and Vespolina being allowed in the DOCG wines. The 2013 vintage was a nice and ripe year, making for wines that are surprisingly easy to drink in their youth with satiny smooth tannins and good depth and density, which this Nervi shows with distinction, bringing a huge grin to my face and it should please Nebbiolo enthusiasts everywhere. The Nervi Gattinara offers up a leathery and woodsy nose with delicate florals and wild berries to start before a core of cherry, plum and strawberry comes into focus in mouth, as well as anise, cedar, minty herbs, umami, sous bois or sanguine (iron) notes and macerated rose petals. This wine took a little while to open up, but it proved fantastically rewarding, it really deserves a three to four course meal to get all of its complexity and lengthy finish.

The Nervi Gattinara, sourced from all estate organic vines, in the Valferana cru, saw a gentle crush with 100% de-stemmed Nebbiolo grapes with 15 day maceration and fermentation in stainless steel vats with temperature control. After which the wine was racked to oak casks to complete malolactic conversion where it was aged for about three years barrels. The winery focuses on three Gattinara bottlings including a basic normale Gattinara DOCG, the Gattinara Molsino and this brilliant Gattinara Valferana. These single-vineyard Gattinara offerings contain the best fruit from Nervi’s vineyards and show each site’s sense of place, plus it should be noted that these single parcel efforts are only done in the best years, which shows the commitment to only release the highest quality examples possible. While I’ve only had limited experience with these Nervi wines, now Nervi-Conterno, I have always been highly impressed with the ones I have tasted, and this 2013 Vigna Valferana with its balanced structure and persistence made for a remarkable evening and I’ll be in search of more, as well as the current 2016 version. Conterno’s influence here will only bring great things to these Nervi Nebbiolo(s) and while the price per bottle has gone up, they still are reasonable for what you get. These northern Piedmonte communes, including Gattinara, Gheme, Lessona, Bramaterra and Boca, with Le Piene being a winery in particular to check out, are well worth discovering and exploring with a real jump in quality being very noticeable in the last 15 years or so. The Nervi, I’ll add, got even better on day two, revealing even more textural pleasure and perfume, filling out completely, which leads me to believe it will age gracefully for many more years!
($49 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 15, 2020

2018 Drew, Pinot Noir, Morning Dew Ranch Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
The new release of the Morning Dew Ranch Pinot from Jason Drew is a monumental effort and a gorgeous wine in the glass with an inviting deep garnet /ruby color and an enticing floral array that almost seduces you before even this fantastic wine that just gets even better and better as you sip and swirl it. This wine thrills the senses and has amazing inner energy, both from the vintage, which was long and cool as well as the partial whole bunches employed in the vinification that brings out so much complexity and intensity in this wine, this is an enthusiasts dreamland and a Pinot that looks to have an exceptionally long life ahead of it, it certainly should be thought of as a California Grand cru, no question. I’ve been saying for years now that Jason Drew is making some of California’s greatest wines and should be considered one of the best winemakers in the state and this wine again is what I’d put up as proof with its stunning clarity, terroir driven elements and rich palate of pure Pinot joy showing classic black cherry, plum, huckleberry and tart strawberry fruits that unfold along with distilled violets, rose petal, black tea, mountain herbs, Thai basil/sage and tangy citrus. As this Morning Dew, which is from the Anderson Valley appellation and sitting up at between 600-800 feet set on Franciscan series and gravelly Loam soils, opens up fully it gains richness and density with a lovely smooth mouth feel without losing its focus or youthful, almost zesty, crisp freshness.

The Morning Dew Ranch Vineyard sits in the deep end of Anderson Valley, being located on a southwest facing hillside at elevation that helps keep things cool, originally planted by the legendary Burt Williams, the eponymous founder of Williams Seylem, with a selection of California heritage clones and suitcase Burgundy selections. Drew, as the winery notes, sources both a Rochioli clone and an 828 or La Tache clone from two separate blocks at Morning Dew, which gives this wine its unique character. The 2018 vintage, Jason explains, was a cooler vintage which translated to longer hang time, pushing his pick date to extremes, a full two weeks later than a normal year. Drew adds that the 2018 is a classic Anderson Valley Pinot delivering an elegant, finely tuned, ethereal and seamless wine, which I endorse completely! I can’t waiting to see where these 2018s go in the future, they look to be absolutely epic with tremendous potential, they might last 20 to 30 years. This Morning Dew saw close to 40% whole clusters, that gives a nice crunchy bite with a subtle pomegranate and stemmy bite, and was fermented with 100% native yeasts. After malos this Pinot was gently gravity racked twice to clarify and saw just 25% new French Oak with about 11 months in barrel total. The natural alcohol came to a very Burgundy like 13.0%, making for a brilliantly balanced wine that does nothing wrong and impresses greatly, a total class act. There has never been a better time than now to explore Drew’s wines, don’t miss his Syrahs and Pinots, especially this Morning Dew Pinot from this awesome vintage.
($70 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 14, 2020

2016 Luis Anxo Rodriguez Vazquez, A Teixa, Ribeiro D.O. Galicia, Spain.
I fell in love with Luis Rodriguez’s wines the first time I tried them, these are some of the most beautiful and compelling white wines in the world, rivaling some prestigous white Burgundies, they are gorgeously textural and aromatic with stylish mineral tones that thrill the senses. This 2016 A Teixa, made from natives varietals, mostly Treixadura along with tiny amounts of Godello and Albariño, flows gracefully across the medium/full palate with layers of white peach, apple, lemon curd and melon fruits along with a lush fleshy feel, accented by clove, clarified cream, a touch of nuttiness and wet stone. The A Teixa is sourced from a single vineyard, not far the cellar Luis uses, is in this vintage about 95% Treixadura, 3% Godello and 2% Albariño from vines that are about 20 years and set on granitic sand in Ribadavia zone of Ribeiro D.O. which is heavily influenced by its Atlantic Ocean proximity and cool climate. The Ribeiro region, an ancient Galician wine region located 45 miles inland from the coast, close to Portugal, was much prized in the past, but had fallen from favor until recent years when small estates started to reappear in the appellation, and especially Luis Rodriguez, who has created a brilliant collection of wines, with both reds and whites. This 2016 really turns on the charm in the glass and is hitting on all cylinders with a white/citrus blossom bouquet and incredible detailing, this is vintage is in a great place right now, highlighting why this is one of my favorite white wines.

The sublimely talented Luis Anxo Rodriguez Vazquez has been hand-crafting world class Ribeiro wines, from the granite based hillsides of his hometown of Arnoia, since 1988 and his mission has been to make distinctive wines from nearly extinct native grapes. The tiny adega, or cellar, that Luis works in was built by his grandfather and is called Viña de Martín, which is named after the first vineyard that he took over from his uncle Martín. According to his US importer Jose Pastor, Luís works with a mixture old and new techniques including temperature-controlled tanks and a mix of French oak barrels, mostly larger format casks. Luis A Rodriguez Vazquez’s fermentations are all done with native yeasts, and with very low sulfur in the winemaking process to avoid oxidation. The white wines are aged extensively on the lees to promote complex depth and richness. The grapes for this A Teixa were all hand-harvested, de-stemmed and pressed into his big foudres for fermentation, seeing one year aging on fine lees, then lightly fined and filtered, then rested in bottle an additional year before release, so when you open a Luis Rodriguez white you get a fully developed wine of regal elegance. I have had the pleasure of meeting Luis and tasting his wines, all of which, impressed me to the core, and I highly recommend you discover these top notch efforts, especially the series of whites, which remind me of Premier and Grand Chablis in style and substance. This golden hued A Teixa is fabulous with sea foods, including lobster, cracked crab, swordfish and salmon dishes as well as poultry and or soft cheeses.
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 13, 2020

2017 Scribe Winery, Pinot Noir, Estate Arrowhead Slope, Sonoma County.
The 2017 Scribe Estate Pinot is very pretty stuff, full of flavor and warmth, but with sublime delicacy and detail, it is very impressive for the vintage which saw a heat spike that caused lots of problems around harvest time, that doesn’t show too much here and I give credit to the hard work in the vineyard and winemakers here, they’ve produced a beautiful wine that is drinking great. I can’t wait to try the 2018 and 2019 versions, as these years really are looking like next level vintages in terms of depth, balance and age worthiness, that said I would not mind having this 2017 to enjoy for the next 3 to 5 years with its lovely satiny structure and opulent mouth feel. Scribe, founded back in 2007 and making quality wines since 2011, is what people call a Farm to Table winery, is owned by brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani, who are fourth generation California farmers, they are passionate about sustainable/holistic practices and committed to non intervention winemaking to allow the estate vines to speak of their terroir, which shows with remarkable clarity in this 2017 Estate Pinot. I have enjoyed every wine I have tasted from Scribe so and this one is wonderfully pleasing from start to finish with layers of black cherry, wild raspberry, strawberry and fleshy stone fruits and touches of Moro orange, Earl Grey tea, sweet herbs and a subtle toasty oak note. This is supple and graceful Pinot Noir that seems to get better with every sip, it opens to reveal floral, gentle red spices and mineral notes that linger in the glass with echos of the core cherry element on the lengthy finish, very tasty indeed.

Scribe’s organically farmed Estate vineyard sits on the southwest-facing slopes of the Arrowhead Mountain in the southern Mayacamas Mountain range, near to Denmark Street in Somona Valley, getting perfect exposure to the sun and cooling influence from San Pablo Bay to the south. The Scribe Pinot vines are planted to clones 667, Martini, Pommard, Chalone, Mt. Eden, and Wadenswil, also known as the old Swiss clone which are on volcanic tuff and local Huichica Loam soils, all of which add to the complexity and distinction of flavors in this wine. Andrew and Adam, along with their sister Kelly, who has joined them at Scribe, believe that the best wines are a result of a healthy relationship between man and nature, and explain, that their vineyard farmed in harmony with the greater ecosystem results in more site-specific character that best represents a true sense place. This 2017 re-enforces their argument and was vinified, with the mentioned, non-interventionist methods, native yeasts and restraint in the use of new French oak, that as Scribe puts it, faithfully reflects what the vineyard naturally expresses in the bottle. Scribe also does a Nouveau Pinot, which just got released, a collection of Chardonnay(s), including a sparkling version, along with a tasty Rosé, a Dry Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon that are all quality efforts. I tasted this 2017 Estate Pinot Noir at the San Francisco Slow Wine tasting event where Scribe perfectly fit in with the likes of California classics Mount Eden, Littorai and Stony Hill. I highly recommend checking this lineup out and make plans to visit the winery when in the Sonoma area, especially now they have some exciting new releases ready to go to good homes!
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 12, 2020

2017 Manincor, Reserve del Conte, Lagrein, Merlot & Cabernet, Alto Adige, Italy.
Manincor is one of the most prized estates in the Alto Adige, it is all biodynamic and the wines are some of Italy’s best under the radar values with a fabulous collection of hand crafted offerings that includes some gorgeous blended wines like this Reserve del Conte as well as some incredible single varietal wines, like their Eichhorn made from Pinot Bianco, it is one of the world’s best versions of Pinot Bianco of Pinot Blanc I’ve tried. If you are a fan of Foradori and or Terlano, you’ll want to search out these Manincor wines, in particular this intriguing red blend, that is about equal parts Lagrein, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in most vintages and makes for a deeply colored and layered wine with dark berry fruit, a perfumed bouquet and mineral notes that is stunningly elegant. The Lagrein, a rare native grape to the Alto Adige, is the special sauce here adding to the intensity of this wine’s purple hue, floral tones and spicy flavors with the Merlot giving round textures, plumy depth and the Cabernet builds the structure and delivers creme de cassis and lingering blackberries. The tannins are ripe and smooth in this warm vintage and the Reserve del Conte drinks very opulently and with a graceful plush mouth feel, it gains delicacy with every sip with black cherry, plum, blueberry and currant fruits filling out on the refine medium/full palate along with snappy anise, cedar, minty herb and a hint of smoke, pencil lead and vanilla. There are few wines that drink as well as this for the price, this is a real charmer and while understated it is near impossible to resist, and even better with a great food pairing and a meal with friends. Manincor is owned and run by Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg, who’s family has a wine growing tradition for more than 400 years in the region, and the estate includes vineyards, extensive fruit orchards and several historic manor houses that date back to 1608. The Enzenberg family’s connection to Alto Adige’s wine community is well documented from as far back as 1698 and refer, according to the winery, to the Enzenberg family’s wine cellars in Terlan, Kaltern and Schwaz in North Tyrol.

The delicious 2017 Manincor Reserve del Conte, 35 % Lagrein, 40 % Merlot and 25 % Cabernet, comes from the Manincor estate and the “Panholzerhof”, both sites are south-east facing overlooking the picturesque Lake of Kaltern at 250 meters above sea level with soils that are mineral rich comprised of sand and clay mixed with limestone, gravel and other glacier (morainal) deposits. These vineyards are among the warmest in all South Tyrol, pre-destined, says the winery, for the production of great red wines, which this Reserve del Conte proves. I have been a fan of Manincor for many years now and these exceptional wines always bring a huge smile to my face and it was privilege and an honor to have tasted the wines in the past with Manincor’s owner Michael Graf Goëss-Enzenberg, who explained in great detail his love of place and his passion for holistic farming, you can tell immediately he is connected to his land and spares no expense in preserving it’s nature for future generations. The grapes, Lagrein, Merlot and Cabernet, from each parcel of vineyard sites were crushed separately and fermented in a mixture of oak and cement vats and stainless steel tanks. Manincor, in keeping with more natural winemaking practices uses 100% indigenous yeasts for primary fermentation. Maceration on the skins, as the winery notes, lasted ten days and was rigorously controlled, during which time the cap of skins was pushed down into juice daily to extract this wine’s velvety, assertive but ripe tannins. After going dry the wine was gently racked into oak barrels of varying sizes where it matured for twelve months before being bottled and rested in the cellar another few months to mature. This estate’s grapes have always been prized with most of crop going to top co-ops, but when Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg took over Manincor from his uncle in 1991 the estate started the process to produce their own wine under the Manincor label, this finally happened in 1996 after an intense rehabilitations in the vineyards, which are now certified biodynamic, and finding the best clonal selections of grapes and that hard work and belief can be seen in the bottle, this is a quality producer with wines that reflect the land and the people perfectly, that I highly recommend getting to know.
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day November 11, 2020

2016 Ernest Vineyards, Pinot Noir “The Wrangler” Grand Vent Vineyard, Petaluma Gap AVA, Sonoma Coast.
Tasted earlier this year, the 2016 Ernest Vineyards “The Wrangler” is an impressive bottling with loads of character and verve in the glass, it delivers a textural experience that is quite compelling and has beautiful detailing, this is only the second time I’ve had these wines, which have gained a real underground following since hitting the scene a few years ago, joining the likes of Anthill Farms in terms of quality and desirability. Richly flavored with classic Pinot fruit on the racy medium bodied palate the Ernest “The Wrangler” displays black cherry, raspberry, red apple skin, candied orange peel, plum and a touch of strawberry as well as delicate toasty oak, cinnamon, a touch of earthy spice and mineral tones. As you swirl this wine it gets deeper and more perfumed with rose petals, vanilla and creaminess coats the mouth. This stuff is also structured and vibrant with cool climate acidity in its veins that allows a clarity and focus to shine through, this will get your attention and makes for a very nice companion to food and a talking point at a leisurely meal. I can’t wait to try more from Ernest Vineyards wines in the coming vintages, I can only imagine how fabulous their 2018 and 2019 wines will be, it should be some awesome times ahead for this label.

The Ernest Vineyards is a micro negociant based in Sonoma and hand crafted from selected vineyard site at a custom crush facility with fanatic attention to quality and they specialize in terroir driven Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with this being one of my favorite in the lineup, as well as the two Cleary Ranch bottlings. With this Grand Vent Vineyard, aptly named by the way as it refers to the huge rush of cold ocean air the accelerates through the wind gap, acting like a cool air vent keeping these Pinot vines refreshed. This wind, according to the winery, dictates everything at this 15-acre vineyard in Sonoma County and this particular parcel that sits in the mouth of the Petaluma Gap, where a blend of unique terroir, cool climate, and consistent wind yields long hang times that allow flavors to mature slowly and steadily. The majority of the Grand Vent Vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir with clones of Pommard 4 and Dijon 113 being the main versions and give this wine its soulful expression. Oh, and yes, there was a man named Ernest, he was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker and a role model for his grandson, Todd Gottula, who founded this winery with his wife, Erin Brooks, back in 2012. In 2019 Todd and Erin brought on Joseph Ryan, who I tasted with at Slow Wine, who worked the 2018 harvest, as Ernest’s Head Winemaker. Though he wasn’t there for this 2016, he guided the 2017s to bottle, but had more influence on the 2018s, and will have his 2019s out in a year or so, and there is much excitement for the future here, be sure to check these wines out at your soonest chance.
($62 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive