Monthly Archives: May 2021

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 31, 2021

2020 Hundred Suns, Space Cat Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon.
The crisp Summer refresher, the Space Cat Rosé by Hundred Suns Winery is a dry Rosé made from 100% Willamette Valley Pinot Noir crafted to excite the palate in flavorful way that is impactful versus dull with bright mineral intensity and fairly remarkable depth of flavors with raspberry water, sour cherry, juicy watermelon, zingy citrus, orange tea spiciness and hints of rosewater. This wine strikes a fine balance between the lean or too light and full flavored and weight styles with a substantial structural feel, and its layers flow impressively and makes for a wine that can go with a wider array of foods as well as drinking quite nice all by itself, its vivid acidity and wet stone element keeps things lively and less fruity. Grant and Renée at Hundred Suns Winery are killing it right now and their lineup is full of lusty stuff, especially their single vineyard Pinots, like the Shea and Sequitur Vineyard(s) bottlings, as well as the devastatingly delicious Gamay and this fun Space Cat Rosé, which sadly sells out too fast. As I have suggested in my reviews of Hundred Suns, getting on their list is a must, which benefited me in getting this very limited release.

Grant Coulter and Rene Saint-Amour’s Hundred Suns Winery, based in McMinnville, is one of the most exciting labels in Oregon these days and as noted here, Coulter’s experience with Beaux Freres, as head winemaker, has made him one of the state’s most sought after Pinot Noir producers crafting many excellent examples from his Old Eight Cut cuvee, one of the best values in Pinot Noir (and now Chardonnay too), to the mentioned special single vineyard collection. In recent years Grant and Renée have planted their own vineyard and Grant has taken on the winemaking at the very impressive Flaneur Winery as well, where he hand crafts Pinot, Chard, Sparkling and a bit of Meunier. Also they have released a couple of interesting Rhones too, with an Oregon Syrah and a Washington State Grenache, both of which are wonderfully tasty. The wines here are all made with unique to themselves methods with various levels of whole cluster and vessels employed for fermentation and aging with even some amphora used, making for some intriguing textural wines. I missed out on the early versions of the Space Cat Rosé, so I’m glad I grabbed a few bottles of this 2020, which I plan to covet for the warm days this year!
($20 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 30, 2021

2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard, Counoise, Adelaida District, Paso Robles.
The freshly vivid and medium bodied Tablas Creek single varietal bottling of Counoise, one of the rare Chateauneuf du Pape grapes, drinks very well with a crisp and bright character that is kind of like the Gamay of the Southern Rhone, best served slightly chilled, with lively acidity and tart dark fruits, it was a perfect foil to some powerfully ripe/dense Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and earthy Northern Rhone Syrah(s) last night. The 2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Counoise, according to the winery, is Tablas Creek’s tenth varietal bottling of this traditional blending grape from the Southern Rhone and like their Cinsault is on the lighter side with an array of vibrant blueberry, cranberry, tangy cherry and plum fruits along with some baking spices, delicate florals, a touch of chalky mineral and clove spiced fig on the finish. This 100% Counsoise is a great Summer red that goes nicely with a range of food choices with Tablas whetting the saliva glands and appetite suggesting herb crusted pork loin, roast chicken, veal and my favorite choice, spicy sausages, as I like this would be awesome with Cajun versions!

The Tablas Counoise is sourced from estate vines in Paso’s Adelaida District on the westside where there is that fantastic limestone soils and the Templeton wind gap that allows a cooling influence to this warm region and promotes balance in these wines, the Counoise ripens late and never gets to heavy in natural alcohol, which makes it perfect to blend with the more dense varietals, especially the Grenache and Mourvedre. The 2019 vintage, which like 2018, provided perfect conditions for exceptional quality of fruit, with a slightly cooler and longer season with mostly a bit less fruit on the vine made for some fabulous intensity of flavors, which this ruby red Counoise shows with some flourish. Tablas went with very clean winemaking on this wine with stainless steel and cool fermentation and then aged this red in neutral French oak to preserve its zesty personality, it was also bottled in screwcap to let you it is meant to be enjoyed in its youth and capture the pure detailing in this fun and tasty wine. The 2019 Tablas Creek Counoise finished with 13% natural alcohol and is easy to enjoy, but still quite serious and well worth your attention, and it will give added incentive to visit Tablas Creek and or join their wine club, as they get first shot at this limited offering.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 29, 2021

2018 Chateau de Saint Cosme, Cotes du Rhone “Les Deux Albion” Rhone Red, France.
The incredible and ultra affordable Chateau grown bottling of Cotes du Rhone, Les Deux Albion, is a classic full bodied and meaty Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend from Louis Barroul at the famous Chteau de Saint Cosme, this 2018 is a vintage with impressive wow factor, coming at a Chateauneuf like 15% natural alcohol and with wonderful fruit density this GSM will confidently drink with wines three to five times the price! This 2018 starts with a heady peony and violet perfume along with some Syrah and Mourvedre earthy/leathery notes as well as thick black and red berries before opening up to a opulent mouth filling palate of boysenberry, pomegranate, damson plum and kirsch as well as tar, licorice, sticky lavender, sandalwood and peppery spices. The weight is well concealed within the graceful texture and inner vibrance of this delicious Cotes du Rhone. This wine really compares well with the estate’s Gigondas, a legendary wine, especially in this vintage, making it an exceptional value, I’m glad I bought myself a few bottles of this gorgeous and complex Les Deux Albion, it should drink nicely for a decade or more!

The 2018 Chateau de Saint Cosme Cotes du Rhone Rouge Les Deux Albion was crafted using 100% whole cluster and native yeast in its fermentation with the Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre being all co-fermented together in a combination of cement and wood vats with a lengthy maceration. The wine was aged in the same combination of vessels, both well used and imparting minimal influence on the wine’s personality with the terroir being the main factor in the Les Deux Albion’s flavor profile and that is from the vines which are set in the classic hardened clay hillside soils including their ancient alluvium, limestone marl and pebbles. Saint Cosme has been a notable wine producing site since Roman times at set on the original Gallo-Roman villa that still has ancient vats cut into the limestone and the Barroul family has owned it since 1490. The estate still is over looked by its Chapel of Saint Cosme, where it got its current name, and is in the shadow of the Dentelles near Gigondas and Vinsobres. This higher elevation zone has a higher percentage of Syrah and it thrives in the cooler parts of Gigondas and especially well in Vinsobres, which recently gained a full AOC, and where Saint Cosme has their Chateau de Rouanne, a property that is making waves in the region. While the 2016 and 2017 vintages were awesome, this 2018 might be even better for the Les Deux Albion Rouge, don’t miss this great stuff!
($25 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 28, 2021

2018 Diatom, Chardonnay, Santos Road, Sta. Rita Hills.
The beautiful no wood “inox” Diatom 2018 Santos Road Chardonnay, by Greg Brewer, the winemaker at the famous Brewer-Clifton, is a single Hyde clone wine, is sourced from a tiny and unique sandy parcel within Brewer-Clifton’s 3D Vineyard, which sits along Santos Road in the Sta. Rita Hills, hence the name here. I had given this wine a little cellar rest and it has done nicely to allow more texture and complexity to develop, while retaining its brilliant vibrancy and pure essences, it might be my favorite bottling of these exotic Diatom Chards with its impressive array of yellow fruits, including a mix of citrus, stone fruit and delicate tropical notes, wet stones, white flowers and steely/mineral tones. There is a no oak, non-malo briskness and tangy edge to start, but things deepen with air and warmth with this Santos Road Chardonnay adding impressive mouth feel and at 14.5% natural alcohol this wine has ripe impact on the palate, though it stays very vivid and feels gracefully balance, making it delicious with a range of cuisine, in particular this wine would be fantastic with Sushi, especially clear fresh cuts of Toro (creamy fatty tuna) and or crab dishes. This Santos Road comes alive with an electric shock of lemon/lime, Asian pear, kiwi and green apple in a flourish of an exciting cascade of flavors.

Brewer’s Diatom Chardonnay collection are his personal project and are some of the most interesting versions of California Chard out there, this limited and hand crafted wines are a set of no compromise offerings that are very different from his Brewer-Clifton bottlings. The Diatom fermentation(s) are done at very low temperatures using only small stainless steel tanks, with special yeasts and, as noted, no malo-lactic conversion. The movement of the wine is done with exceptionally short hose travel to ensure precision and focus, they are, again as mentioned above, all inox (stainless tank) wines, made without any oak at all, Greg really is looking to present these wines with an intense purpose and spends much of his time in the vineyards watching the grapes, only picking when the grapes have reached perfect development of flavors, regardless of internal sugars, so some vintages will have exceptionally low alcohol in the 12% range and others sometimes as high as 16%!. But, when you taste Diatom, as I’ve mentioned over the years, in my opinion, you get a tour of the zen like focus of Brewer’s mind, these are precision wines that channel the inner purity of Chardonnay (grapes) down to it’s core essence, they are unlike any other Chardonnays. The 2018s and the current 2019s look to be some of the best yet from Diatom, benefiting from near perfect conditions, with their long cool growing seasons, allowing these Chardonnays to deliver brilliance in the glass.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 27, 2021

2012 Domaine de Monardiere, Vacqueyras, Vieilles Vignes, Rhone Red, France.
This wine has matured and is drinking at peak expressiveness with pure and lush layers of ripe and heady fruit, very much in the mold of a classic Chateauneuf du Pape, it is full bodied and densely textured, rather surprising for a Vacqueyras, especially in this price class, adding to the sense of quality and shear pleasure coming from the glass of this old vine Rhone. This wine gives a hedonistic performance, it starts with its inviting garnet/purple color with edges that are beginning to show a hint of orange/crimson and a nose of florals and sweet red fruits with a touch of spice and earth that leads to a opulent palate of crushed brambly raspberries, plum, boysenberry and sweet kirsch along with dried roses, snappy herbs, anise and a hint of leather. This is a flamboyant Rhone that certainly makes an impact and is best with robust cuisine choices, with its thick fruits and silken tannins I would suggest enjoying it with lamb kabobs, grilled tri-tip and or wild mushroom dishes. There is a complex array of flavors here, but this Monardiere Vacqueyras is simply a wine that provides big smiles, especially for Grenache fans, even though the final blend here was 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre.

The Vache’s, Martine and Christian, bought this estate from Monardieres back in 1987 and began their own journey into becoming a top producer here in the Vacqueyras AOC, and with a lot of hard work, investment in the cellar and converting all the vines to organic, their wines have become some of the region’s most desirable, as this Vieilles Vignes shows. This Monardiere Old Vine Vacqueyras saw 100% de-stemmed grapes that ware fermented using indigenous yeasts, with a maceration and extraction period of almost three weeks with gentle daily punch-downs to showcase the terroir and vintage. The Vache’s traditional approach included them aging their Vacqueyras cru from 12 months in a combination of tanks, especially revealing in the Grenache and a few lots in barrels to add richness and soften tannins and then chosen, blended and bottled, without fining or filtration to capture every nuance of this wine’s soul in the bottle. The Monardiere lineup includes a Vacqueyras Rosé, this lavish Old Vine Vacqueyras (Vieilles Vignes) and the single vineyard Les 2. I recently reviewed and loved their 2010, a vintage that seemed youthful by comparison and a touch more brooding, and I recommend drinking up this 2012s, as they are at their best right now.
($35 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 26, 2021

2019 Weingut Leo Alzinger, Gruner Veltliner, Durnstein, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria.
The brilliantly clear 2019 Durnstein Federspiel Gruner from Leo Alzinger is a near perfect example of this region, grape and style with classic brisk citrus led flavors that include lemon/lime, white peach and green apple fruits and wet rock, saline, almond oil, a touch of leafy herbs and verbena. This light bodied Gruner is more complex and shows more depth than first impressions give, but is still lacy and refreshing at its core, it is very delightful and vibrant, highlighting the highly regarded vintage here in the Wachau, along the Danube to the west of Vienna. The Leo Alzinger winery is located in Unterloiben, just across the street from the legendary Emmerich Knoll and the wines here, first introduced to me by famed importer Terry Theise, are some of Austria’s most exciting wines and this one continues that trend of excellence, these current releases are crystalline and riveting offerings, especially the set of Gruners from the steeper parcels. Alzinger’s Grüner Veltliner, according to winery, is cultivated on the lower, silty, loess based plots, which allows pure and ripe profiles as this beauty shows, and the aromatics, while subtle, are lovely gaining nice floral notes as it opens in the glass.

The 2019 Alzinger Dursten Gruner Veltliner comes from multiple sites within the Durnstein, set on a combination of clay mixed with gneiss, mica schist, loam and sandy gravelly soils, all of which adds to the depth here and the cool climate allows for greater retainment of zesty acidity. Alzinger crushes whole cluster with a short maceration, and it should be noted Alzinger encourages a bit of skin contact, then allows the must to settle for 24 hours, dropping any green tannins out. I was told and understand Leo used natural yeast with a spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel vats and the short elevage was done employing mostly stainless steel tanks, but with a small amount of neutral Austrian oak to add to the roundness and presence on the palate. The Danube River’s influence is felt on the terroir driven character here and this wine is a true expression of place, I am again incredibly impressed with what is on display in this fine Gruner and I am thinking I’ll want quite av few more bottles for Summer. The value here is fabulous and the winemaking is pristine, I can’t wait to enjoy my next bottle with oysters and or steamed claims, as well as with grilled artichokes. Not only does Alzinger do fantastic Gruner, he also produces stellar Rieslings too, equally as profound and powerful, in particular chase down the Ried Steinertal Smaragd, this winery is one to follow, and don’t miss these 2019s!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 25, 2021

2018 Laura Lorenzo – Daterra Viticultores, Portela do Vento Blanco, Ribeira Sacra, Galicia Spain.
The 2018 Portela do Vento Vino Blanco is a stunning white wine from the incredible Laura Lorenzo, this wine is gorgeous with the class and complexity of Grand Cru Burgundy, but with its own unique character and with beautiful aromatics, this medium bodied wine, made from a blend of Ribeira Sacra grown Godello, Palomino, Doña Blanca and Colgadeira, none of which are household names, but combine here to remarkable effect. Lorenzo’s natural and organic offerings are some of the most compelling in Spain, with her hard and back breaking work in these remote vineyard sites really paying off, and while known for her Mencia based reds, her whites are equally outstanding and this 2018 is one f her best that I’ve tried, with its heady perfume, textural grace and depth just heavenly in the glass. This Portela do Blanco comes from plots in the Amandi and Val do Bibei zones set on sandy loams and granite based soils that show in this wine’s intense mineral tones and wet stone element, with vines that range from 25 to 80 years old at elevations above 500 meters on steep slopes look more like the Mosel than you’d imagine. This brilliant wine shows layers of crisp apple, pear, peach and racy citrus fruits with orange blossoms, jasmine and a touch of waxy detail along with zesty herbs, verbena, citron and hazelnut. A light golden yellow hue captures your attention, but it is the sublime mouth feel and steely core that impresses most here, it has many facets that will excite those that love Chablis, though slightly more exotic in nature like a Marcel Deiss field blend meets a South African old vine white, which are Chenin heavy, and makes sense when you know Lorenzo did a stint at Sadie Family, under the mentorship of the legendary Eben Sadie.

I have been following Laura’s wines since she was at Dominio do Bibei and was an early fan of her own label Daterra Viticultores, which was founded in 2014 with a set of small lot wines from the Ribeira Sacra, she has now enjoyed a string of successful vintages and is an international star. Lorenzo hand crafts a range of wines, mostly from a Ribeira Sacra set of small vineyards as well as in Valdeorras, and her Portela do Vento wines are regional blends exclusively from the Ribeira Sacra “Sacred Blanks”, while her Erea, Gavela, and Azos series are single village wines, and she also does a set of single parish or vinos de parroquia wines. All of Laura’s wines are transparent and highlight this regions fascinating terroir, with its cool Atlantic climate and mixture of slate, sand, schist and granite soils all showing through in these intriguing wines. The Portela do Vento Blanco, as the winery notes, comes from several parcels of native white varieties primarily from the Amandi (south-facing young vines) as well as Val do Bibei (north & northeast-facing old vines) subzones, all hand tended head trained vineyard sites, with organic and holistic farming methods employed. This dry white wine saw, according to Lorenzo, all the de-stemmed grapes go into both some used chestnut barrels and some terra-cotta amphora for a wild yeast fermentation with 5 days of skin contact before being raised for about a year in the same vessels and bottled unfined and unfiltered. This wine charms with every sip and goes fabulously with a wide array of foods, but especially with briny sea foods, I highly recommend it with shellfish, though it goes lovely with soft cheeses and even curried greens. This region has a long history in wine, with the Romans coming to this green, northwest corner of Iberia over 2,000 years ago, and they were the first to terrace these picturesque slopes and plant grape vines in Ribeira Sacra and while almost forgotten, but wines like this make it one of the most exciting wine regions in the world.
($35 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 24, 2021

2019 Samuel Louis Smith Wines, Syrah “Serine Sauvage” Coastview Vineyard, Gabilan Mountains, Monterey County.
The spine tingling beautiful and opaquely purple Serine Sauvage Syrah by Sam Smith is a cool climate and mountain wine that thrills the senses with violets, peony and feral earthy elements on the deep bouquet along with grippy black and blue fruits, leading with briar laced boysenberry, damson plum and tangy blueberry on the medium to full bodied palate that is accented with snappy peppercorns, wild sage, tapenade, cedar, creme de cassis and anise. This is classic northern Rhone style Syrah with fantastic purity and whole cluster crunch, influenced by granite soils and hillside vines, which are set up in the Gabilan Mountains that see cooling winds off the Monterey Bay allowing for gorgeous fruit density and opulence, while retaining vibrant acidity and elegant lower Sam’s Serine Sauvage shows divinely with just 13.3 % natural alcohol in a wine that has tremendous depth and presence in the glass with solid structural tannin, all of which makes for a wine with great potential to age. Smith’s latest set of releases are highly appealing wines that are sensual and brilliantly balanced, I especially love his Spear Vineyard Chardonnay, which is absolutely one of my favorite California white wines, as well as his Montanita de Oro Pinot Noir and both of his Syrah bottlings, the Santa Cruz Mountains Sandstone Terraces and this Coastview Serine Sauvage, which is extremely limited with only 35 cases made and looks to be a wine club only wine. So it looks to be a good time to get on the list here at Samuel Louis Smith Wines, these hand crafted small lot wines are well worth searching out.

Sam Smith, who is the head winemaker at Monterey’s Morgan Winery, first starting getting attention while a winemaker at Margerum in Santa Barbara County and many of his early (own) wines were sourced from top sites in the Sta. Rita Hills. Smith’s efforts at Morgan has transformed this label, putting the new lineup right up there with some of very best of the Santa Lucia Highlands, especially the 2018s from their organic Double L Estate Vineyard with his single clone wines being some of the most desirable of the vintage with the Clone 96 Chardonnay and especially the Pinots, which show luxurious flavors and textural excellence. Sam has a passion for Syrah and has done a pilgrimage to Hermitage and the surrounding spiritual home of Syrah, Cornas, Saint-Joseph and Cote-Rotie, where he was clearly influenced by the likes of some of the regions legends, Alain Graillot, Francois Villard and Pierre Gonon, to name a few. In recent years, cool climate Syrah has seen a renaissance and a change of generation has brought a wealth of great choices and Sam’s wines are some of the best out there, joining Halcon, Desire Lines, Drew, Big Basin (who also does a sublime version from Coastview), Pax, Jolie-Laide and Greg Brewer’s new Ex Post Facto. The 2019 Serine Sauvage, named for the ancient historic Serine clone of Syrah and Sauvage for the grape’s wild nature, was fermented 100% whole cluster with indigenous yeast with a gentle foot trod and daily pump-overs in a small bin before being aged just over a year in neutral French oak barrels. A big thank you to Sam for giving me a sneak preview of this delicious and perfumed wine, though it did reduce me to begging for any bottles not spoken for!
($45 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 23, 2021

1998 Chateau Pichon Longueville-de-Lalande, Reserve de la Comtesse, Pauillac, Red Bordeaux, France.
Well that was fun, the second wine of Chateau Pichon Longueville, one of the super second growths in the famed Pauillac zone of the left bank, this Reserve de la Comtesse 1998 is drinking really nicely and while a touch lean and green, it opens up and provides plenty of well preserved dark fruits, some chewy tannin and a graceful finish. Even better with food and time in the glass, the Reserve de la Comtesse gains aromatics and shows secondary evolution in all areas of the medium bodied palate, but remains firm and in no signs of crashing any time soon with blackberry, plum, hoisin, a elegant porporri of dried flowers, a touch of graphite, cedar, tapenade, lingering kirsch and some loamy earth. You can see some pretty stuff here, but I imagine the Grand Vin is miles better with more depth and concentration, though that said, I was impressed and somewhat surprised that this wine was in such a pleasing place. The Pichon Longueville-de-Lalande wines are now all organic and converting to biodynamics with the grapes being vinified in stainless tanks before seeing close to 18 months in barrel with up to 50% new oak used, with this Reserve de la Comtesse seeing significantly less new oak in most years.

The Chateau Pichon Longueville-de-Lalande sitting in good company set in the famous Pauillac, maybe Bordeaux’s most famous appellation, in Cabernet Sauvignon country and much sought after thanks to its prime terroir and gravelly soils, it is home to three of the region’s fabled first-growth châteaux, with Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Chateau Latour being the headliners here along with a bevy of other notables, including Pontet-Canet and Lynch-Bages and both Pichons. Perched on the left bank of the Gironde River north of the city this area gets the warmth and allows for more Cabernet Sauvignon in the final blends, with Chateau Pichon Longueville-de-Lalande traditionally having about 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot, until recent times when they added much more Cabernet Sauvignon, to bring it up to 65% of their total plantings. The Reserve de la Comtesse, which made its permanent debut in 1973, typically is more Merlot (based) than the Grand Vin, but this 1998 is showing more Cabernet Sauvignon in profile with a good backbone and currant laced character. This Chateau has a checkered past with some big hits and a few misses, but I’ve had good fortune with them, especially the Grand Vin, which was classified in the famous 1855 Medoc rankings, as mentioned, scoring a coveted Second Growth, which is a proud badge to wear, even these days.
($145 Est.) 89 Points, grapelive

Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 22, 2021

2017 Weingut Dr. Loosen, Riesling Trocken, Graacher Himmelreich, Alte Reben, VDP Grosses Gewächs, Mosel, Germany.
The 2017 Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Old Vine GG is wonderfully pure and generous, absolutely a Grand Cru dry Riesling with brilliant clarity of terroir influence and depth showing awesome vintage concentration and dry powerful extract, this is classic Loosen at their impeccable best. Ernst Loosen, who took control of his family’s over 200 hundred year old Mosel estate in 1988, with incredible steep slate vineyards of un-grafted old Riesling vines, set in some of Germany’s most historic and prestigious sites, has elevated the reputation of this grape maybe more than any other person and his wines are always a fabulous treat to experience, especially his Cru offerings, like this gorgeous Graacher Himmelreich Alte Reben GG. This crystalline and steely Riesling opens gracefully in the glass with slate driven intensity on full display, pumping out layers of crisp green apple, tangerine/kumquat, lime sorbet and tart apricot, all accented by verbena, wet shale, spearmint and chamomile. With air this impactful Riesling gains leesy richness without losing its chiseled detail and adds a smoky flinty element and peachy fleshiness, everything follows nicely into place and makes for a seriously joyous wine that goes insanely well with crab cakes, sushi and or baked ham.

The Graacher Himmelriech, what Loosen calls the “Kingdom of Heaven”, is located above the small village of Graach, which that lies between Bernkastel and Wehlen. This vineyard’s steep, southwest-facing slopes and deep soils produce wines that the winery says combines the elegance of Wehlen with the rustic strength of Bernkastel with Loosen’s parcels being all well over 100 years old. This vineyard, one of the world’s greatest Riesling sites gives these wines their signature minerality, born of the abundance Devonian blue slate here, these profound wines from Graach have, as Loosen notes, excellent aging potential and will improve in the bottle for many decades, which I certainly have no doubt of and this open knit vintage has the benefit of early enjoyment as this bottle proved. The 2017 Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Grosses Gewachs was fermented with indigenous yeasts, or “sponti” in traditional old 1,000-liter Fuder casks of German oak and matured on the full lees for close to 12 months, sans bâtonnage (not stirred) to preserve its sharp transparency. Loosen farms with sustainable methods and handles the wines with extreme, gentle care in the cellar and their lineup of Dry Rieslings are the result of the careful attention to detail from the vine to bottle and should not be missed, while the classic Prädikat stuff, from Kabinett to Auslese remain some of the standards of their class, with the Ürziger Würzgarten Kabinett being one of my favorites and one of the greatest Riesling values ever made! I can’t wait to see the 2019s, which I hear are going to be legendary!
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive